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to come; and that, as far as morals went, the reformation had been practically fruitless. Here must, of course, be borne in mind that the fact alluded to before, that Zephaniah is not an annalist, but an indignant moralist and preacher of righteousness, rebuking the people for sin, and for rebellion against Jehovah, and that hence it is only to be expected that he will paint the sin of the people in its blackest hue. Much that the simple historian of the period would pass by, appears to the prophet as abomination, sure to bring upon the city the vengeance of Jehovah.
Hence, for a correct appreciation of the period, we need to take a mean between the annalist and the prophet, accepting, however, all the facts stated by the prophet as facts; for appeals to the conscience that were based upon incorrect facts, and of which the errors could be easily exposed, would have been worse than futile.
His picture of the degraded city doomed to destruction is as follows:
“Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in Jehovah ; she drew not near to her God. Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are ravening wolves, they gnaw not the bones till the morrow; her prophets are light and treacherous persons; her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the Law.” In spite of the word of Jehovah in their midst, in spite of the warning given them in the fate of other nations, the people had refused to receive instruction, but “they rose early and corrupted their doings.” On this account punishment must come, and their pride be humbled, and the false confidence which they had in Jehovah as their national God be destroyed.
Neither outwardly nor inwardly had the reformation been a success. It had been violent and sweeping like that of Jehu in Samaria, but like it its work was imperfect. Indeed, it seems to have had even less permanent effect than that of Jehu. Though an outward conformity had been for a time attained, though the temple of Baal had been destroyed, the “high places” removed, and the “groves” cut down, yet the spirit of indifference and the love of the lax morality of heathenism, which had underlain all the forms of unlawful worship, was not removed.
In spite of the burning words of the prophet, in spite of the royal example, in spite of the teachings of the Book of the Law, so long forgotten, now once again made known to the people, — they preferred their own way, and, as their own wise sage had said, “were filled with the fruit of their own devices"; and, going on from bad to worse, ripened graduaily for destruction.
From our examination of the portions of his prophecy that concern Judah and Jerusalem, we have seen that we have from Zephaniah the following facts, in regard to the condition of religion and morality in the latter part of the reign of Josiah, after the great reformation had begun. Some, though not all, of these facts can be inferred from the language of Jeremiah.
In spite of all that had been done, there were still to be found in the city: (1) a remnant of Baal; (2) Chemarim and (3) rebellious Cohanim ; (4) worshippers of the Host of Heaven; (5) secret worshippers of Molech; (6) renegades from Jehovah, (7) and some who had never yielded themselves to His service. These all are to be “cut off" and "destroyed" in the “Day of Jehovah."
Besides these there is a second class, made up of the chief obstacles in the way of reformation, who are to be punished in the day of Jehovah's sacrifice. Their fate, though described in different words,
, is none the less terrible than that of the former class. These obstacles, in the way of reformation, are: (8) the Princes, the Sarim (D7); (9) the King's Sons (7507 '7); (10) the wearers of strange (foreign) apparel, i.e. sacrificers to foreign divinities; (11) “those who leap upon the threshold" (probably those who have adopted the worship of the Philistine Dagon), “which fill their master's house with violence and deceit” (probably those who rob and steal to fill their Lord's (0.74378) house with offerings); (12) the merchants and traders as a source of foreign corruption ; (13) the indifferent who are “settled upon their lees,” and who are incredulous as to the power of Jehovah, “who say Jehovah will not do good, neither will He do evil.”
To these elements of religious opposition are to be added the elements of moral degradation among the people. There were two main points in Jehovah's reformation, as in the prophetic teaching upon which it was based : (1) Jehovah, and none else, was to be worshipped, and He, so far as sacrifices were concerned, only in Jerusalem ; (2) Jehovah was the God of righteousness and morality. This second point was as strongly insisted upon by the prophets as the first.
Hence we find Zephaniah giving a dreadful description of the moral condition of the people, although from the accounts of the annalists in Kings and Chronicles, we should suppose that the reformation was successful. He tells us (1) of the existence of a generally degraded moral condition among the people (iii. 1); (2) of the rejection of the call to righteousness (iii. 2); (3) of the evil character of the princes and judges (iii. 3) ; (4) of the instability and treachery of the prophets (iii. 4, a, cf. Zech. xiii. 2-6); (5) of the moral degradation of the priests and the disrepute they brought upon the Law of God (iii. 4,6); (6) and that, in spite of the corruption, pride was felt in belonging to Jehovah, and a false confidence in the protecting power of the “sanctuary of the holy mountain” (iii. 11).
With these elements of opposition to Jehovah and of moral corruption remaining in the land, it is indeed no wonder that, as soon as Josiah died, a counter revolution should have set in. Yet, strangely enough, the impulse given to the outward worship of Jehovah does not seem lost. In the subsequent reigns, He was worshipped very generally, if not earnestly or intelligently, by the people ; and, as we have seen, Jeremiah was considered a traitor to Him, when he prophesied that His holy city should have the fate of Shiloh. The ritual was kept up, daily ascended the fragrance of the incense and the smoke of the holocausts ; although, in the very chambers of the same Temple, men who worshipped Jehovah at one hour, adored at another“ all the idols of the host of Israel.” There were a few who remained true to the grand ideal ; noble youths like Daniel and his three comrades in Babylon, princes like Gedaliah, priests like Ezekiel and Jeremiah. These constituted the remnant of Judah, the kernel of life that should spring up into vigorous growth after the captivity, and which should build up a community where the law of the Lord, which men now rejected, should be the one and only rule of life. These were the “servants of Jehovah," the types of the great “Servant of Jehovah,” for whom they were preparing the way. Like Him they were “despised and rejected of men, men of sorrows and acquainted with grief," from whom men turned away their faces. And like Him "they bore the griefs and carried the sorrows" of their people. They were “wounded for their transgressions," they were “bruised for their iniquities,” bore uncomplainingly the chastisement that should bring peace to their people, and the stripes which should prove their healing. They were the few who “knew Jehovah," and who knew Him to be the Eternal and Righteous God, and their faith and their endurance in the midst of seeming failure won, by God's help, the victory. It is a striking thought that, while the power and might of Josial, and his forcible methods, were fruitless, the quiet influence of the faithful few preserved, in the long years of exile, the national existence as well as the national religion ; and while powerful Israel never returned, but passed easily from its impure form of worship into the idolatries of the land of captivity, the remnant of Judah, strong in the faith of the righteous Jehovah, who might be worshipped with sacrifices only in Jerusalem, was strong enough, after seventy years probation, to return and establish once more the theocracy, in which the Law of Jehovah was at once, as the poet sang, "a lantern unto their feet and a light unto their paths.” Towards this consummation the prophet Zephaniah performed his allotted part, delivered his message, and has, in his recorded prophecy, left it as a graphic picture of the condition of his country and countrymen.
In his day, even those who worshipped Jehovah had not learned the lesson of righteousness and morality; and, in spite of their wickedness, yet rejoiced in the pride of the city, and were haughty because of the holy mountain of God. He looked forward, by faith, to the change that would come in time, after God's judgment had been executed upon the guilty land; when, though the people should be poor and afflicted, and but a remnant of the old glory, they should trust in the name of Jehovah.
The contrast between Zephaniah and the annalists, which is a contrast only, and not a contradiction, is as marked as liis exact correspondence and agreement with Jeremiah in almost every point. Any study of the history of the times that will simply follow the annalists and neglect the prophetic testimony, must necessarily be incomplete and convey an incorrect impression of the condition of affairs.
Modern Chapters and Verses.
PROF. 1. H. HALL, PH.D.
N the matter of the Modern Chapters and Verses, one point seems
to have escaped modern notice. (See generally my article Chapters and Verses, Modern, in Schaff's Herzog's Cyclopædia.) That is, the fact that, although the Arabic numerals were first printed in the margin of a Hebrew Bible in 1660, at the instance of John Leusden, an attempt was begun at the same thing in the Hebrew Bible of Plantinus, small 8vo, Antwerp, 1574. In this volume, every fifth verse is marked with Hebrew numerals, after the fashion already long in vogue; but the first 16 pages (that is, the first sheet) has also the Arabic numerals in the margin, opposite the beginning of each verse, like the modern Hebrew Bibles. The last verse thus numbered is Genesis xxxi. 4, verse 5 beginning the next page.
After I had discovered this fact for myself, I found that it was noted in Masch's Le Long, Pars i., Cap. i., Sect. i., $ xxxvi. 1., as follows: “ Capita et versus Judæorum more sunt distincti; at in prima codicis plagula singulis commatibus numerus arabicus in margine est adscriptus.” Whether the other Plantin Bible of the same date (also 1573), in smaller form, has the same phenomenon or not I am unable to say ; though Masch
says, “ Altera editio in forma minori ab hac non nisi forma differt." The only copy of that edition, which is ordinarily accessible to me, is at present boxed up. But the Plantin Peshitto Syriac New Testament of both forms, the first, (about) 1573 ; the second, 1575, --- have the Arabic verse-numbers in the margin.
Also, though in the New Testament the modern verses were made by Robert Stephen for his Latin Concordance of 1555, and are commonly reported to have been first used for reference in that book, the fact is that the first references made by the modern verse-numbers appear in the marginal references of his first New Testament divided into verses (1551), in the “ Index ” of the same, and in the “ Harmonia Evangelica ” which forms a part of the second volume of the same.