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divine promises; on the contrary, it is always to be presumed, that more is meant than the highest figures can express adequately.”
Chapters Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth.
The language of this prophecy is so express and remarkable, that few commentators have hesitated to pronounce it belonging to the latter days; foretelling the destruction of the last opponents of Christ's kingdom, and the establishment of his glorious reign as King of Zion. The occurrence, however, of the names Edom and Bosra, has induced some to look for correspondent events in the destruction of this nation, and its capital, by the Babylonians. But, Bishop Lowth has very justly remarked: “This event, as far as we have any account of it in history, seems by no means to come up to the terms of the prophecy, or to justify so high wrought and so terrible a description: and it is not easy to discover, what connexion the extremely flourishing state of the church or people of God, described in the next chapter, could have with these events, and how the former could be the consequence of the latter, as it is represented to be. By a figure very common in the prophetical writings, any city or people, remarkably distinguished as enemies of the kingdom and people of God, is put for those enemies in general. This seems here to be the case with Edom and Bosra. It is, therefore, reasonable to suppose, with many learned expositors, that this prophecy has a further view to events still future; to some great revolutions to be effected in later times, antecedent to the more perfect state of the kingdom of God upon earth, and serving to introduce it, which the holy Scripture warrants us to expect.” In truth, the prophecy in this chapter is but one of a series; the whole of which, as we have seen, relate to the wonderful events of the last times, and are “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come :” and this force of truth upon the mind of Bishop Lowth, who, probably, contrary to his own hypothetical opinions respecting these oracles, could not but see the unsuitableness of their application to the literal Edom and Bosra, is not more remarkable than the common consent of the ancient Jewish expositors, that by these terms, in this and other prophecies, the empire and city of Rome is intended : * and with our present knowledge of this great enemy from “Chittim,” we perceive a particular reason why it should be prophetically symbolized as Edom. Edom, we know, was a name of Esau, Jacob's brother. He was a child “born after the flesh” in the holy family, and as such entitled to the distinctions and privileges of the external church of God. He was a “child of the kingdom,” but he was profane, and despised his birthright; and hence, by divine interposition, was prevented from inheriting the promised blessing. The nations of Europe, of Roman extraction or civilization, by their conversion to the religion of the Messiah, have come to stand in this same relation to the family of Abraham; but, becoming apostate from the true religion, not walking in the footsteps of Abraham's faith, they answer to the type and character of Esau, and not of “ Jacob, whose name is called Israel.” From the opening of this oracle, we perceive that the whole world is concerned in its burden: –
* “Interpretes Hebraei omnes Imperii Romani; quod illi existiex traditione veteri prophetiam mant hic venire sub mystico nohanc interpretantur de destructione mine Edomi."—VITRINoa.
1. DRAw near, ye nations, to hear;
2. For Jehovah hath anger against all nations, And wrath against all their armies.
He hath devoted them, he hath given them up to slaughter; 3. And their slain shall be cast forth:
And the stench of their putrid corses shall arise,
This dreadful picture of destruction is so similar to what we have learned from former oracles, that I need but refer to them in the margin *. The “song of remembrance” will show us whereabouts, in the history of the church and of the world, we are to bring in this prediction. A “people that delight in war” has already been given us, as a prophetical description of a prominent character of the last times. It should seem, that many nations are engaged in the conflicts of this awful period : and, as we read before, in the same symbolical language of prophecy, not only the armies of all nations perish at this epocha; struggling, it may be, and ready to decide the conflict, for the empire of the world, on the mountains and plains of Palestine; but we are to expect a total change and revolution in the political world, to the entire overthrow and destruction of all human power and authority, as exercised by the corrupted and wicked rulers of mankind: and this will be found the grand burden of prophecy:*—
* Jude, 14; Job, xix. 23, &c.; Deut. xxxii. 40, &c.; Numbers, xxiv. 24; 1 Sam. ii. 10; Psalms, iii.; ix. 15; x.; xlvi.; lwiii. 9; lxviii.; lxxvi. 5; lxxxix.; xcvii.; cx.; Isaiah, ii. 10; xiii.; xxv.; xxvii. 1; xxix. 5; xxx. 30. o
4. And all the hosts of the heavens shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll:
And all their hosts shall fall,
The object of this vengeance is next introduced under the name of Edom, and its metropolis Bosra. This seems to predict, that the country from whence those armies of congregated nations came, whose blood had moistened the hills of Canaan, is, at the same time, itself the scene of this vengeance of Almighty God. The destruction is represented as a general slaughter of all kinds of cattle, and the burning of a country by fire and brimstone, so as to be rendered for ever a complete scene of ruin and desolation: –
5. For my sword hath been bathed' in heaven,
* Isaiah, xiii. 9; xxiv. 19; xxx. 26.
'Some propose to read conta, in blood, instead of pown, in heaven. Others propose now), “was made bare,” which Bishop Lowth approves. Bishop Stock has, “tempered." I conceive, however, the metaphor to be the listing up of the
sword; so that it seems, as it were, bathed in the sky, the dreadful stroke of which is to come down on the mystic Edom. “My knife,” the knife of “sacrifice.”—HoRSLEY.
Lo, upon Edom shall it come down,
6. The sword of Jehovah is glutted with blood,
It is anointed with fat;
With the blood of lambs and of goats,
For Jehovah hath a sacrifice in Bosra, 7. And a great slaughter in the land of Edom :
And the beeves shall fall with them,
And their land shall be drenched with blood,
8. For it is the day of Jehovah's vengeance, The year of retributions' to vindicate Zion.
9. And HER streams shall be turned into pitch,
And her dust into sulphur,
And her whole land shall become burning pitch.
10. It shall not be quenched day nor night, Her smoke shall ascend for ever.
From generation to generation she shall lie desert,
11. But the pelican and the heron shall possess her, The bittern and the raven shall dwell there:*
And he shall stretch over her the line of ruin,
* Or “the year of awards in judgment, in the cause of Zion,” or for Zion's advocate.
* We cannot be at a certainty what kind of birds are here intended. Birds frequenting the most desolated and retired spot they evidently are. The same may be
said of some of the animals men-