« PreviousContinue »
the great degree of credit attached to the Septuagint is much weakened by a very just observation which too often escapes the attention of the learned.
• With respect to the Greek version of the LXX in particular, it may reasonably be made a doubt, whether the MSS from which it was made, were they now extant, would be entitled to the same degree of credit as our modern Hebrew text, notwithstanding their comparatively high antiquity. There is certainly much reason to believe that, after the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, perhaps from a somewhat earlier period, the Hebrew text was in a much worse state of corruption, in the copies which were in private hands, than it has ever been since the revision of the sacred books by Ezra. These inaccurate copies would be multiplied during the whole period of the captivity, and widely scattered in Assyria, Persia, and Egypt ; in short, through all the regions of the dispersion. The text, as revised by Ezra, was certainly of much higher credit than any copies, notwithstanding their greater antiquity. His edition succeeded, as it were, to the prerogatives of an autograph,-the autographs of the inspired writers themselves being totally lost,--and was henceforward to be considered as the only source of authentic texts : insomuch, that the comparative merit of any text now extant will depend upon the probable degree of its approximation to, or distance from, the Esdrine edition. Now, if the translation of the LXX was" made from some of those old MSS which the dispersed Jews had carried into Egypt, or from any other of those unauthenticated copies,—which is the prevailing tradition among the Jews, and is very probable, at least it cannot be confuted,—it will be likely that the faultiest MS now extant differs less from the genuine Esdrine text than those more ancient, which the version of the LXX represents.' P. xxxvi,
If this be the real character of the Septuagint in its original form, what must be the degree of reliance upon it now that it appears with all the confusion introduced into it from the wellmeant labours of Origen, and is in fact so entangled with other versions, that it is a Herculean labour to free it from its impurities?
Hosea, as we have already confessed, in common with the her Jewish prophets, has his difficulties; but, perhaps, in none are the main scope and tenor of the prophecy more easily discerned. The prophet is intent on one object--the transgression of the sons of Israël, its consequences, and their final recovery. The situation of the ten tribes engrosses the chief part of his attention ; but the fate of Judah is incidentally touched upon, and its comparatively inferior guilt prior to its dispersion. The : relation of God to his people is depicted under the image of the love of a husband to his wife ; and hence the apostasy of the latter is shadowed under the strong terms of fornication and adultery. To the supposed refinement of modern days such language may appear very gross, and scarcely justifiable; but
too often, it is to be feared, this will arise from a secret reloc. tance to admit the grievous enormity of such transgressions: the abominable sacrifices of the offenders, their detestable absurdity in the worship of images, cannot be painted in too odious figures; and the history of the Christian church is a proof that language too energetic could not possibly be used; as the fate of the Israëlites, and the expostulations of the prophets, have not prevented innumerable bodies of Christians from falling into similar delusions—from deserting the true God, and surrendering themselves to her who is in Scripture described as the mysterious Babylon, the mother of whoredom and abominations of the earth.
To make a deeper impression on the Ephraimnites, Hosea is ordered to marry a woman of loose and disorderly life, a just image of themselves for many generations. Of her he has three children, to whom significant names are given. The first is Jezraël, which is interpreted by our author a seed of God, and is supposed to delineate the true worshippers of the divinity, who had been persecuted by the house of Jehụ. To this meaning we can by no means accede; for it does not
that the house of Jehú were, as the author would represent them to be, persecutors of the true worshippers, and in the instance of the affectionate address of Joash to Elisha on his death-bed, we have sufficient grounds for a contrary persuasion. The interpretation given by the prophet leads indeed to a very different meaning. The child Jezraël was a sign to the nation, to revive the memory of the blood shed by Jehu in Jezraël, and the promise of God that his family should sit on the throne to the fourth generation, History inforins us that this prophecy was fulfilled, and, at the time the child was born, namely, in the reign of Jeroboam, it was foretold that in a few years more the house of Jehu should be destroyed. Yet it is said, why should God visit the blood of Jezraël upon Jehu, since the act of Jehu was declared to be agreeable to God? But it is to be recollected, that the whole house of Jehu plunged into the iniquities for which that of their predecessors had been extirpated. Hence the divine retribution on Jehu's family was just; and history assures us, to speak in common language, that Ahab's family was avenged, for that the house of Jehu perished by a similar conspiracy. The name of Jezraël, moreover, seems by no means to adinit the interpretation of seed of God' from the remaining part of the prophecy, and I will abolish the kingdom of the house of Israël. Thus the name of jezraël was an important sign to the nation. Jehu's family was soon after extirpated; and from that period the symptoms of the abolition of their kingdom became evident, and their dispersion was ascertained to be as inevitable as the fate of the former family.
The birth and names of the two other children do not afford any difficulty to commentators. The daughter represents the weak state of the ten tribes, from conspiracy, faction, and invasion, after the extirpation of Jehu's family; and the son is the figure of their total destuction as a kingdom and a people. This is the general scope of the following chapters, in which various incidents are enumerated, to heighten the picture, and show the depraved state of the ten tribes in the most striking colours; but they are not left a prey to despair ; for sufficient encouragement is still afforded to the devout part of the nation to believe that their deliverance should be wrought in a most wonderful manner, and that they should again become the people of God.
This view of the subject is amply dilated in a very prolix preface, in which, however, we do not see any thing particularly striking, or that has not occurred to prior commentators. We agree entirely with the author in that part of his recommendation of his own version in which he observes that it ought not to supersede the use of the public translation in the service of the church. The fact is, it may be well applied to, in conjunction with bishop Newcome's, to afford a completer idea of the original : in some cases it is superior to the vulgar version ; but, as a whole, it is assuredly not so fit for public use. Accompanying the translation are a body of notes, explaining the sense of the version as it occurs; and at the end of the work are introduced a variety of critical remarks on the original and its translators. We shall give an instance or two of this mode of commenting upon the sacred prophet. Upon the birth of Lo-ruhamah it is observed, that, though compassion shall no longer be extended to the ten tribes, Judah shall be cherished with tenderness and preserved by a supernatural deliverance : on which our author makes the following remark :
. These expressions are too magnificent to be understood of any thing but the final rescue of the Jews from the power of Antichrist in the latter ages, by the incarnate God destroying the enemy with the brightness of his coming; of which the destruction of Sen. nacherib's army in the days of Hezekiah might be a type, but it was nothing more. It may seem, perhaps, that the prophecy points at some deliverance peculiar to the house of Judah, in which the ten tribes will have no share; such as the overthrow of Sennacherib actually was; whereas the destruction of Antichrist will be an unia versal blessing. But, in the different treatment of the house of Judah and the house of Israel, we see the prophecy bitherto remark. ably verified. After the exçision of the kingdom of the ten tribes, Judah, though occasionally visited with severe judgements, continued however to be cherished with Ged's love, till they rejected our Lord. Then Judah became Loammi; but still continues to be visibly an object of God's love, preserved as a distinct race for gracious purposes of mercy. Perhaps in the last ages the converts of the house of Judah will be the principal objects of Antichrist's malice. Their deliverance may be first wrought; and through them
the blessing may be extended to their brethren of the ten tribes, and ultimately to the whole world. This order of things the subsequent prophecy seems to point out.'
Now we shall observe upon this comment, that the salvation alluded to refers only to the house of Judah, that it takes place when the ten tribes are in the desolate state represented by the term Lo-ruhamah; and, consequently, there is no time to which it can be so properly referred as to the signal deliverance of Judah from the invasion of the all-powerful arms of Sennacherib. The idea of a farther deliverance of Judah, independently of that of the ten tribes, is altogether conjectural; and the introduction of Antichrist, and the converts of the ten tribes of Judah, and the incarnate God to destroy their enemies, seems to have no foundation whatsoever in the text; for whenever the day of the restoration of the Jews may arrive, it is said that both the children of Judah shall be collected, and the children of Israel shall be united, and they shall appoint themselves one head, and come up from the earth. Let us not be wise above what is written, nor admit specious conjectures in our comments, beyond what we would allow in the received text.
In the eleventh chapter, twelfth verse, a proof is discovered of the Trinity not entirely unknown to some commentators, but long rejected by our public translation as well as by the great body of interpreters. The term in our common version rendered " the saints' is by our author transmuted into the holy ones; on which we meet with the following note :
• The word may signify either the constancy of Judah's fidelity to the “Holy Ones;” or the firmness of the support, which he shall receive from them. “ The Holy Ones,” the Holy Trinity. By the use of this plural word the prophecy clearly points to the conversion of the Jewish people to the Christian faith.'
We shall simply observe, that the term the holy ones' is improper, for the original wants the article the. The LXX read the same words nearly as we have them, but in one place conjoin what with us occurs separately. The difficulty seems to be in the punctuation; and the question is, whether we should use Y, ngom, a people, or Duy, ngim, with. The text has only Dy, ngm, and we are not bound to the Masoretic punctuation. Referring our readers to the Septuagint and to Michaëlis's translation, we beg leave to suggest the following, in which we have derived assistance from both; * Ephraïm hath compassed me about with treachery, and the house of Israël and Judah with deceit. Still the people of God shall have dominion, and a holy nation be established. If it should be asserted that the stop must be placed at Israël, then the following must be predicted of Judali, who will have dominion, and be established
a holy nation. It seems however worthy of inquiry, whether the prophet did not here foresee the glory of Messiah's kingdom; and though both branches of the chosen people should be rejected, still in the divine counsels remained a remedy for their revolt, by the ingraft of the wild olive and the call of the Gentiles ?
In the notes at the end the writer dilates with much self-satisfaction, and sometimes produces matter worthy of notice independently of criticism; yet there seems to be no reason for the introduction of several of these notes on a translation of Hosea any more than on many of the antecedent prophets; and a reader who engages in a perusal of one of Hosea ought to be previously instructed on such subjects. We mention this particularly in the present times, when paper is so expensive a commodity; and a translator should endeavour to compress his ideas into as small a compass as possible, instead of swelling them out, as in the instance before us, to a length far beyond what the case requires. Surely a long note upon the meaning of the word prophet was unnecessary; yet to several the explanation of the term graven images may be useful, and, as not generally understood, properly inserted.
• The graven image was not a thing wrought in metal by the tool of the workman we should now call an engraver; nor was the molten image, an image made of metal, or any other substance melted, and shaped in a mould. In fact, the graven image and the molten image are the same thing, under different names. The images of the ancient idolaters were first cut out of wood, by the carpenter, as is yery evident from the prophet Isaiah. This figure of wood was overlaid with plates either of gold or silver, or, sometimes perhaps, of an inferior metal ; and in this finished state it was called a graven image (i. e. a carved image), in reference to the inner solid figure of wood, and a molten (i. e. an overlaid, or covered) image, in reference to the outer metalline case or covering. And sometimes both epithets are applied to it at once. “ I will cut off the graven and molten image.” Again, “What profiteth the graven and molten image?” The English word “molten” conveys a notion of melting or fusion. But this is not the case with the Hebrew word for which it is given. The Hebrew 70) fignifies, generally, to overspread, or cover all over, in whatever manner, according to the different subject, the overspreading or covering be effected; whether by pouring forth a substance in fusion, or by spreading a cloth over or before, or by hammering on metalline plates. It is on account of this metalline case that we find a founder employed to make a graven image ; and that we read in Isaiah of a workman that “ melteth a graven image:” and in another place we find the question, “ Who hath molten a graven image!" In these two passages the words should be " overlayeth,” and “ overlaid.”
P. ! 34• In the version itself we may point out some places where it is superior to that established by authority. Chảp. I. 6. In