Page images

the exhaustion of the river seems scarcely allowable on the common principles of symbolical interpretation. If the Nile is here to be understood figuratively, the drying up and diversion of its streams can with difficulty be conceived to mean the introduction of poverty, lamentation, and confusion, among the Egyptians: it would rather typify, as I have already stated, the subversion of their polity and their gradual depopulation and emigration. As for the Saviour and the great one, the evident connection, in which that person is placed with a general diffusion of real religion throughout Egypt, will not allow us, without a singular degree of harshness, to suppose him to be Alexander the great. Whatever increase of religion there might be in Egypt during his reign and those of his successors, the Egyptians, as a nation, were undoubtedly idolaters. The same remark applies with equal force to the Assyrians. Hence I cannot but think the introduction of comparatively a few Jews into those countries a most imperfect and unsatisfactory solution of the predicted religious unity of Egypt, Israel, and Assyria. Is it reasonable to believe, that the Lord of hosts would esteem Israel the third with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land; and that he should be represented as saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance; merely because Nebuchadnezzar carried the Jews captive to Babylon, and because many of the same people had emigrated to Egypt in the days of Alexander and the Ptolemies? How then will our doubt respecting the propriety of this interpretation be increased, when we find Bp. Newton himself confessing, that the Egyptian Jews "were generally very wicked men, and disobedient to the word of the Lord, and that upon that account the prophet Jeremiah denounced the heaviest judgments against them." His Lordship adds indeed, as if with a view to anticipate the objection which so naturally arises out of his own statement, that "some good men might be ming. led among them, who might open his prophecies to the Egyptians, and they themselves when they saw them fulfilled might embrace the Jewish religion." But in the case of a prophecy, which is said to be already accom

plished, we can scarcely allow a series of conjectures to be a sufficient exposition. After all, even granting the conjectures to be well-founded, still the exposition will be incomplete. Isaiah manifestly speaks of a general conversion of the whole land of Egypt, and that not merely to nominal but to real religion: hence, when he peculiarly mentions five cities, we must not understand him as contradicting and limiting the rest of his prediction, but simply as alluding to five principal cities which he considers as subincluding all the rest*. But Bp. Newton in a great measure confines the conversion to the five cities; and even in those five cities to a part only of their inhabitants, the Jews and their Egyptian proselytes. Onias might very possibly suppose the prophecy to have been accomplished in his day; or rather, with a view to what he conceived would be the accomplishment of it, he might allege this very prophecy to the king and queen of Egypt, in order to induce them to permit him to build a temple to God in the prefecture of Heliopolis, or the city of the Sun: yet, although he succeeded in his plan, it is not thereby so much proved that the prediction was then really accomplished, as that he was willing to believe it to have been then accomplishedt. In fine, Bp. Newton himself does not seem perfectly satisfied with his own interpretation: he allows, that the prophecy will be more amply fulfilled hereafter. "Thus," says he, " "by the means of the Jews and proselytes dwelling in Egypt and Syria, Israel, Egypt and Syria were in some measure united in the same worship. But this was more fully accomplished, when these countries became Christian, and so were made members of the same body in Christ Jesus. And we piously hope and believe, that it will still receive its most perfect completion in the latter days, when Mohammedism shall be rooted out and Christianity shall again flourish in these countries, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in and all Israel shall be saved." To this last event, I, on the contrary, cannot refrain from

* Compare Isaiah xix. 18. with ver. 21-25.

† Bp. Lowth, although he adopts in the main Bp. Newton's interpretation of this prophecy, objects much in the same manner with myself to the appli cation of that part of it, which speaks of the city of the sun, to Onias.

thinking that the prophecy ought to be altogether confined, for reasons which have already been sufficiently stated.


The dispersion of the Jews-Their restoration from the westThe lamentation of Judah on account of the treachery of Antichrist-His restoration in the midst of great political troublesThe overthrow of Antichrist-The triumph of the restored Jews -The certainty of their restoration and of the overthrow of Antichrist-The exhaustion of the Euphrates and the Nile.

Isaiah xxiv. 1. Behold, the Lord maketh the land empty, and layeth it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. 2. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. 3. The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. 4. The land mourneth, and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the land do languish. 5. The land also is defiled beneath the inhabitants thereof: because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant; 6. Therefore hath a curse devoured the land, and they that dwell therein are desolate; therefore the inhabitants of the land are burned, and few men left. 7. The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merry-hearted do sigh. 8. The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth. 9. They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it. 10. The city is broken down; it is become a confused heap; every house is shut up, so that no man may come in. 11. There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened; the mirth of the land is gone. 12. In the city is left desolation; and the gate


is smitten with destruction. 13. For thus it shall be in the inmost parts of the land, in the midst of the people; it shall be as the gleaning of an olive tree, as the straggling grapes that remain when the vintage is done.

14. Yet they shall lift up their voice; they shall exult in the majesty of the Lord; they shall shout from the sea *. 15. Wherefore glorify ye the Lord by Urim, the name of the Lord God of Israel in the isles of the sea. 16. From the uttermost parts of the earth† have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous one. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, wo unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.

17. Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth. 18. And it shall come to pass, that he, who fleeth from the noise of the fear, shall fall into the pit; and he, that cometh up out of the midst of the pit, shall be taken in the snare: for the fissures on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. 19. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. 20. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.

21. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall send his visitation upon the host of the high

[ocr errors]

They shall shout from the sea.] "Or from the isles of the sea, as it is expressed in the following verse; i. e. from the isles of the western or mediterranean sea, whither many of the Jews were scattered, and from whence they should return into their own country in the latter days. The Hebrew word Ijam signifies the West as well as the sea, because the mediterranean sea lay westward of Judea and so the word is rendered by some interpreters here. This verse is to be understood of the final restoration of the Jews." Mr. Lowth in loc.

From the uttermost parts of the earth.] "From the uttermost parts of the earth means the same as from the isles of the sea in the foregoing verses: from these utmost regions have we heard the joyful acknowledgment of the righteous, praising God for their deliverance and for all the glorious things he hath done for them, making them thereby remarkable in the eyes of the world as his favourites-We may observe, that the word Tsebi is often taken for Judea, as being the glory of all lands-And, if we take the word in this sense, the meaning of the place will be, That the substance of their hymns was, that now the promised land should be restored to the righteous seed of Abraham. Which confirms the interpretation given of ver. 14, that the context relates to the final restoration of the Jews." Mr. Lowth in loc.

one on high, and upon the kings of the earth on the earth. 22. And they shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered into the vault of a dungeon, and they shall be shut up in prison, and after many days shall they be visited. 23. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.

xxv. 1. O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name: for thou hast done wonderful things thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. 2. For thou hast made of a city, an heap; of a defenced city, a ruin; the tower of strangers, to be no city: it shall never be built. 3. Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee, the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee. 4. For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones was as a storm against the wall. 5. As heat in a dry place, thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers; as heat in the shadow of a cloud, the branch of, the terrible ones shall he humbled.

6. And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees; of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. 7. And he will entirely remove in this mountain the face of the covering that is cast over all the peoples, and the veil that is spread over all the nations. 8. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. 9. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. 10. For in this mountain shall the hand of the Lord rest; and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill. 11. And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim : and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of

« PreviousContinue »