Habakkuk 3:16
When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he comes up to the people, he will invade them with his troops.
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(16-19) Habakkuk now reverts abruptly to the Divine sentence of Habakkuk 1:5 et seq., and describes with what emotion he meditates on the coming disasters, and on his own inability to prevent them. His anxiety is, however, swept aside by a joyful and overpowering confidence in God. These verses are a kind of appendix to the preceding poem.

(16) That I might rest . . .—Better, that I should be resting quiet in the day of trouble, when he cometh up against the people who is to oppress them.

Habakkuk 3:16. When I heard, my belly trembled — The prophet, having recounted, for the present encouragement of the faithful, the wonderful works which God had formerly wrought for his people, here returns again to his first subject, namely, the revelation which he had received from God, concerning the calamities which should be brought on the Jewish people by the Chaldeans. My belly trembled, my lips quivered, &c. — A consternation and shaking seized me, and I could not speak for grief and astonishment, at being informed what great miseries were coming upon my nation. Rottenness entered into my bones — I could no more stand than a person whose bones are rendered rotten by disease. That I might rest in the day of trouble — These words are interpreted in different ways: some suppose that the prophet here expresses a desire of being gathered to his fathers in peace, before the king of Babylon should invade Judea, and carry the people away captive; and that he adds, as a reason of his prayer, a description of the desolation which should then come upon the land. In this sense the clause is understood by Mr. Green, who therefore interprets it, O that I might be at rest before the day of distress, when the invader shall come up against the people with his troops! But Noldius, whose interpretation is approved by Lowth, reads, Yet I shall rest in the day of trouble, when he shall come up against the people, even he who shall invade them with his troops. The prophet may be considered as speaking in the person of every truly pious Jew; I shall rest secure under the divine protection, when the Chaldeans shall come to invade Judea. This sense of the clause accords well, perhaps better than any other, with the following verses; in which we have a plain and noble description of the confidence we ought to have in God, in the most trying times, and when involved in the greatest calamities.3:16-19 When we see a day of trouble approach, it concerns us to prepare. A good hope through grace is founded in holy fear. The prophet looked back upon the experiences of the church in former ages, and observed what great things God had done for them, and so was not only recovered, but filled with holy joy. He resolved to delight and triumph in the Lord; for when all is gone, his God is not gone. Destroy the vines and the fig-trees, and you make all the mirth of a carnal heart to cease. But those who, when full, enjoyed God in all, when emptied and poor, can enjoy all in God. They can sit down upon the heap of the ruins of their creature-comforts, and even then praise the Lord, as the God of their salvation, the salvation of the soul, and rejoice in him as such, in their greatest distresses. Joy in the Lord is especially seasonable when we meet with losses and crosses in the world. Even when provisions are cut off, to make it appear that man lives not by bread alone, we may be supplied by the graces and comforts of God's Spirit. Then we shall be strong for spiritual warfare and work, and with enlargement of heart may run the way of his commandments, and outrun our troubles. And we shall be successful in spiritual undertakings. Thus the prophet, who began his prayer with fear and trembling, ends it with joy and triumph. And thus faith in Christ prepares for every event. The name of Jesus, when we can speak of Him as ours, is balm for every wound, a cordial for every care. It is as ointment poured forth, shedding fragrance through the whole soul. In the hope of a heavenly crown, let us sit loose to earthly possessions and comforts, and cheerfully bear up under crosses. Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry; and where he is, we shall be also.When I heard - , better, "I heard and ..." The prophet sums up, resuming that same declaration with which he had begun, "I heard, I was afraid." Only now he expresses far more strongly both his awe at God's judgments and his hopes. He had just beheld the image of the destruction of Pharaoh, the end of the brief triumphing of the wicked and of the trials of God's people. But awful as are all the judgments of God upon the enemies of His people, it was not this alone which was the object of his terror. This was deliverance. It was the whole course of God's dispensations, which he had heard; God's punishment of His people for their sins, and the excision of their oppressors, who, in His Providence, fulfilling their own evil end, executed His chastisements upon them. The deliverances, which shadowed out the future, had their dark side, in that they were deliverances. The whole course of this world is one series of man's unfaithfulnesses or sins, God's chastisements of them through their fellow-sinners, and His ultimate overt brow of the aggressors. Those first three centuries of glorious martyrdoms were, on the one side, the malice and hatred of Satan and the world against the truth; on the other side, the prophets of those days told their people that they were the chastisements of their sins. Future deliverance implies previous chastisement of those delivered. The prophet then, at the close, in view of all, for himself and all whose perplexities he represented and pleaded before God, chooses his and their portion. "Suffer here and rest forever!" "Endure here any terror, any failure of hopes, yet trust wholly in God, have rest in the day of trouble and sing the endless song!" Again he casts himself back amid all the troubles of this life.

I heard - (i. e. that speech of God uttering judgments to come) "and my belly," the whole inward self, bodily and mental, all his hidden powers, trembled , "vibrated" as it were, "Sin every fibre of his frame," at the wrath of God; "my lips quivered at the voice of God," so that they almost refused their office and could hardly fulfill the prophetic duty and utter the terrors which he had heard; his very strongest parts, the bones, which keep the whole frame of man together, that he be not a shapeless mass, and which remain unconsumed long after the rest has wasted away in the grave, "rottenness entered into them," corruption and mouldering eating into them; and "I trembled in myself" (literally under me) so that he was a burden to himself and sank unable to support himself, "that I might rest in the day of trouble."

All up to this time was weariness and terror, and now at once all is repose; the prophet is carried, as it were, over the troubles of this life and the decay of the grave to the sweetness of everlasting rest I, the same, suffer these things, terror, quivering, rottenness in the very bones themselves. "I (literally) who shall rest in the day of trouble." I who had not rest until then, shall enter into rest then in the very day of trouble to all who found their rest in the world not in God, the day of judgment Psalm 94:12-13.. "Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him in Thy law, that Thou mayest give him patience in time of adversity, until the pit be digged up for the ungodly."

"O my soul; had we daily to bear tortures, had we for a long time to endure hell itself, that we might see Christ in His glory and be the companion of His saints, were it not worth enduring all sorrow, that we might be partakers of so exceeding a good, such exceeding glory?"

When he cometh up unto the people, he shall invade them with his troops - or, which is probably meant, "when he cometh up who shall invade them." It is a filling out of "the day of trouble." However, near the trouble came, he, under the protection of God and in firm trust in Him, would be at rest in Him. The troubles of God's prophets are not the outward troubles, but the sins of their people which bring those troubles, the offence against the majesty of God, the loss of souls. Jeremiah was more at rest in the court of the prison, than when all the people did curse him Jeremiah 15:10 for telling them God's truth. He who fears God and His judgments betimes, shall rest in perfect tranquility when those judgments come. The immediate trouble was the fierce assault of the Chaldees whose terror he had described; and this, picturing, as through the prophecy, all other judgments of God even to the last, when devils shall contend about the souls of people, as Satan did about the body of Moses.

16. When I heard … trembled—namely, at the judgments which God had declared (Hab 1:1-17) were to be inflicted on Judea by the Chaldeans.

belly—The bowels were thought by the Hebrews to be the seat of yearning compassion (Jer 31:20). Or "heard" may refer to Hab 3:2, "When I heard as to Jehovah's coming interposition for Israel against the Chaldeans being still at some distance" (Hab 2:3); so also the voice" [Maurer].

at the voice—of the divine threatenings (Hab 1:6). The faithful tremble at the voice alone of God before He inflicts punishment. Habakkuk speaks in the person of all the faithful in Israel.

trembled in myself—that is, I trembled all over [Grotius].

that I might rest in the day of trouble—The true and only path to rest is through such fear. Whoever is securely torpid and hardened towards God, will be tumultuously agitated in the day of affliction, and so will bring on himself a worse destruction; but he who in time meets God's wrath and trembles at His threats, prepares the best rest for himself in the day of affliction [Calvin]. Henderson translates, "Yet I shall have rest." Habakkuk thus consoling his mind, Though trembling at the calamity coming, yet I shall have rest in God (Isa 26:3). But that sentiment does not seem to be directly asserted till Hab 3:17, as the words following at the close of this verse imply.

when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade—rather (as English Version is a mere truism), connected with the preceding clause, "that I might rest … when he (the Chaldean foe) cometh up unto the people (the Jews), that he may cut them off" [Calvin]. The Hebrew for "invade" means, to rush upon, or to attack and cut off with congregated troops.

When I heard, what dreadful desolations God threatened against Israel, Habakkuk 1:5-11, for of those he now speaketh and meditateth, having finished his elegant description of God’s wonderful works of mercy toward Israel of old, and left them as a foundation of comfort and hope.

My belly, or heart, or bowels, or inward parts, Proverbs 20:27, trembled; another effect and sign of surprising fears and astonishment.

At the voice; at the mere report. Rottenness entered into my bones; a consumption and decay of all my strength; a languishing of my spirits, and a declining of my rigour: a very usual effect of great fears.

I trembled in myself; I was all shaken, as with an earthquake, no part was free or unshaken. That I might rest in the day of trouble; these fears awakened my remembrance of that God, and those wonders which I have recounted; these fears have occasioned my search into this mystery of Providence, that, understanding it I might, as I do, betake myself to God, and his covenanted mercies, that I may rest in him, who will make it go well with the righteous, even with those righteous who shall live to see and feel the troubles of those days.

When he cometh up; the king of Babylon, with all his bitter and cruel nations, bent on violence and rapine.

Unto the people; against the Jews, my people, saith the prophet.

He will invade them with mighty force, and cut in pieces, make most bloody work among them.

With his troops; with numerous armies, and spoil in troops, where what one leaves another will take; where none escape the fury of some or other in the troops: see this accomplished 2 Kings 25. When I heard, my belly trembled,.... His bowels, his heart within him, at the report made of what would come to pass in future time; and not so much at hearing of the judgments of God that should come upon the enemies of his Church, antichrist and his followers; though even these are awful and tremendous to good men; see Psalm 119:120 but upon hearing what troubles and distresses would come upon the churches of Christ, previous to these, afterwards called a day of trouble in this verse, and more particularly described in the next Habakkuk 3:17,

my lips quivered at the voice; at the voice of these words, as the Targum; at the voice of the Lord, expressing and foretelling these calamities, through fear and dread, consternation and amazement; under which circumstances the natural heat of the outward parts of the body retires to defend the heart, and leaves them trembling and quivering, particularly the lips, so that they lose their use for a time; and a person in such a case can hardly speak:

rottenness entered into my bones; he became weak and without strength, as if he had long been in a wasting consumption; or was at once deprived of all his strength, and it was turned into corruption; see Daniel 10:8,

and I trembled in myself; within himself, in all his inward parts, as well as in his outward parts: or, "under myself" (x); was not able to keep his place, could not stand upon the ground that was under him; his knees trembled, as the Syriac version:

that I might rest in the day of trouble; rather, as Noldius (y) renders the particle, "yet", or "notwithstanding, I shall rest in the day of trouble"; which had been represented to him in vision; and which he had a sight of by a spirit of prophecy, as coming upon the church of Christ, and had given him that concern before expressed. The Syriac version of this and the next clause, which it joins, is, "he showed me the day of calamity, which is about to come upon the people". Here begins the prophet's expression of his strong faith and joy in the midst of all the distresses he saw were at hand; herein representing the church, and all true believers helped to exercise faith in those worst of times. This "day of trouble" is the same with the hour of temptation that shall come upon all the earth to try the inhabitants of it; the time of the slaying of the witnesses, which will be such a time of trouble as never was in the world; see Revelation 3:10. The "rest" the people of God will have then, which the prophet had faith in for them, will lie in the Lord's protection and keeping of his people; his perfections, power, and providence, are the chambers of rest and safety he will call them unto, and the shadow of his wings, which they will make their refuge till these calamities and indignation be overpast, Isaiah 26:20

when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops; or rather "him"; not "the people"; the people of God, "he" the Lord or Christ comes unto; but the enemy of them: this is the ground of the prophet's faith and confidence before expressed, or of the church's he personated; namely, that when Christ, Michael the great Prince, should come up to his people, appear for them, and stand on their side, he would lead his troops and march his army against their grand enemy antichrist; and "cut him to pieces" (z), as some render the word: so Christ is represented as a mighty warrior, marching at the head of his troops, the armies of heaven following him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, who are the called, chosen, and faithful; and with these he will fall upon the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the earth, gathered together at Armageddon, and utterly destroy them, Revelation 16:14.

(x) "subtus me", Drusius, De Dieu; "subter me", Cocceius, Van Till. (y) Ebr. Concord. Part p. 108. No. 550. (z) "ut excidat eum", Calvin; "succidet eum", Vatablus.

When I {t} heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in {u} the day of trouble: when he cometh up {x} to the people, he will invade them with his troops.

(t) He returns to that which he spoke as in, Hab 3:2 and shows how he was afraid of God's judgments.

(u) He shows that the faithful can never have true rest, except that which they feel before the weight of God's judgments.

(x) That is, the enemy, but the godly will be quiet, knowing that all things will turn to good for them.

Verses 16, 17. - § 4. The contemplation of the Divine judgments produces in the people of God at first, fear and trembling at the prospect of chastisement Verse 16. - When I heard. "When" is better omitted. "I heard" the report of thee (vex. 2). The LXX. refers to Habakkuk 2:1, rendering, "I watched." If the former part is the paean of the congregation, the present is the prophet's own utterance expressive of his dismay at the prospect before him. My belly trembled. My inmost part, my inward self, trembled with fear (comp. Isaiah 16:11). My lips quivered at the voice. My lips quivered with fear at the voice of God that sounded in me (Habakkuk 2:1), proclaiming these awful judgments. The word rendered" quivered" (tsalal) is applied to the tingling of the ears (1 Samuel 3:11; 2 Kings 21:12), and implies that the prophet's lips so trembled that he was scarcely able to utter speech. The LXX. renders, "from the voice of the prayers of my lips." Rottenness entered into my bones. This is an hyperbolical expression, denoting that the firmest, strongest parts of his body were relaxed and weakened with utter fear, as if his very bones were cankered and corrupted, and there was no marrow in them. And I trembled in myself. The last word (tachtai) is rendered variously: "under me," according to the Greek and Latin Versions, i.e. in my knees and feet, so that I reeled and stumbled; or, "in my place," on the spot where I stand (as Exodus 16:29). That I might rest in the day of trouble; better, I who shall rest in the day of tribulation. The prophet suddenly expresses his confidence that he shall have rest in this affliction; amid this terror and awe he is sure that there remaineth a rest for the people of God. This sentiment leads naturally to the beautiful expression of hope in the concluding paragraph (ver. 17, etc.). Keil and others render, "tremble that I am to wait quietly for the day of tribulation;" that I am to sit still and await the day of affliction. But Pusey denies that the verb (nuach) ever means "to wait patiently for," or "to be silent about;" its uniform signification is "to rest" from labour or from trouble. Thus the Septuagint, Ἀναπαύσομαι ἐν ἡμέρα θλίψεως, "I will rest in the day of affliction;" Vulgate, Ut requiescam in die tribulationis. When he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. This should be, When he that invades with bands comes up against the people; i.e. in the day when the Chaldeans attack the Israelites (comp. 2 Kings 24:2, where the word "bands" is also used). Septuagint, Τοῦ ἀναβῆναι εἰς λαὸν παροικίας μου: "To go up against the people of my sojourning;" Vulgate, Ut ascendam ad populum aecinctum nostrum, which is thus explained: "I will bear all things patiently, even death itself, that I may attain to the happy company of those blessed heroes who fought for their country and their God." It is obvious to remark that this is a gloss, not on the original text, but on the erroneous version. The previous announcement of the glory to which Zion is eventually to attain, is now completed by the announcement of the birth of the great Ruler, who through His government will lead Israel to this, the goal of its divine calling. Micah 5:2. "And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, too small to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee will He come forth to me who will be Ruler over Israel; and His goings forth are from the olden time, from the days of eternity." The ואתּה, with which this new section of the proclamation of salvation opens, corresponds to the ואתּה in Micah 4:8. Its former government is to return to Zion (Micah 4:8), and out of little Bethlehem is the possessor of this government to proceed, viz., the Ruler of Israel, who has sprung from eternity. This thought is so attached to Micah 5:1, that the divine exaltation of the future Ruler of Israel is contrasted with the deepest degradation of the judge. The names Bethlehem Ephratah ('Ephrâth and 'Ephrâthâh, i.e., the fertile ones, or the fruit-fields, being the earlier name; by the side of which Bēth-lechem, bread-house, had arisen even in the patriarchal times: see Genesis 35:19; Genesis 48:7; Ruth 4:11) are connected together to give greater solemnity to the address, and not to distinguish the Judaean Bethlehem from the one in Zebulun (Joshua 19:15), since the following words, "among the thousands of Judah," provide sufficiently for this. In the little town the inhabitants are addressed; and this explains the masculines אתּה, צעיר, and ממּך, as the prophet had them in his mind when describing the smallness of the little town, which is called κώμη in John 7:42. צעיר להיות, literally "small with regard to the being among the 'ălâphı̄m of Judah," i.e., too small to have a place among them. Instead of the more exact מהיות, להיות is probably chosen, simply because of the following להיות.

(Note: The omission of the article before צעיר, and the use of להיות instead of מהיות, do not warrant the alteration in the text which Hitzig proposes, viz., to strike out להיות as erroneous, and to separate the ה from אפרתה and connect it with צעיר equals אפרת הצּעיר; for the assertion that צעיר, if used in apposition, must have the article, is just as unfounded as the still further remark, that "to say that Bethlehem was too small to be among the 'ălaphı̄m of Judah is incorrect and at variance with 1 Samuel 20:6, 1 Samuel 20:29," since these passages by no means prove that Bethlehem formed an 'eleph by itself.)

Alâphı̄m, thousands - an epithet used as early as Numbers 1:16; Numbers 10:4, to denote the families, mishpâchōth, i.e., larger sections into which the twelve tribes of Israel were divided (see the comm. on Numbers 1:16 and Exodus 18:25) - does not stand for sârē 'ălâphı̄m, the princes of the families; since the thought is simply this, that Bethlehem is too small for its population to form an independent 'eleph. We must not infer from this, however, that it had not a thousand inhabitants, as Caspari does; since the families were called 'ălâphı̄m, not because the number of individuals in them numbered a thousand, but because the number of their families or heads of families was generally somewhere about a thousand (see my biblische Archologie, 140). Notwithstanding this smallness, the Ruler over Israel is to come forth out of Bethlehem. יצא מן does not denote descent here, as in Genesis 17:6 for example, so that Bethlehem would be regarded as the father of the Messiah, as Hofmann supposes, but is to be explained in accordance with Jeremiah 30:21, "A Ruler will go forth out of the midst of it" (cf. Zechariah 10:4); and the thought is simply this, "Out of the population of the little Bethlehem there will proceed and arise." לי (to me) refers to Jehovah, in whose name the prophet speaks, and expresses the thought that this coming forth is subservient to the plan of the Lord, or connected with the promotion of His kingdom, just as in the words of God to Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:1, "I have provided me a King among his sons," to which Micah most probably alluded for the purpose of showing the typical relation of David to the Messiah. להיות מושׁל is really the subject to יצא, the infinitive להיות being used as a relative clause, like לכסּות in Hosea 2:11, in the sense of "who is destined to be ruler." But instead of simply saying יצא מושׁל ישׂראל, Micah gives the sentence the turn he does, for the purpose of bringing sharply out the contrast between the natural smallness of Bethlehem and the exalted dignity to which it would rise, through the fact that the Messiah would issue from it. בּישׂראל, not in, but over Israel, according to the general meaning of משׁל ב. The article is omitted before mōshēl, because the only thing of primary importance was to give prominence to the idea of ruling; and the more precise definition follows immediately afterwards in וּמוצאתיו וגו. The meaning of this clause of the verse depends upon our obtaining a correct view not only of מוצאות, but also of the references to time which follow. מוצאה, the fem. of מוצא, may denote the place, the time, the mode, or the act of going out. The last meaning, which Hengstenberg disputes, is placed beyond all doubt by Hosea 6:3; 1 Kings 10:28; Ezekiel 12:4, and 2 Samuel 3:25. The first of these senses, in which מוצא occurs most frequently, and in which even the form מוצאות is used in the keri in 2 Kings 10:27, which is the only other passage in which this form occurs, does not suit the predicate מימי עולם here, since the days of eternity cannot be called places of departure; nor is it required by the correlate ממּך, i.e., out of Bethlehem, because the idea which predominates in Bethlehem is that of the population, and not that of the town or locality; and in general, the antithesis between hemistich a and b does not lie in the idea of place, but in the insignificance of Bethlehem as a place of exit for Him whose beginnings are in the days of eternity. We take מוצאות in the sense of goings forth, exits, as the meaning "times of going forth" cannot be supported by a single passage. Both קדם and ימי עולם are used to denote hoary antiquity; for example in Micah 7:14 and Micah 7:20, where it is used of the patriarchal age. Even the two together are so used in Isaiah 51:9, where they are combined for the sake of emphasis. But both words are also used in Proverbs 8:22 and Proverbs 8:23 to denote the eternity preceding the creation of the world, because man, who lives in time, and is bound to time in his mode of thought, can only picture eternity to himself as time without end. Which of these two senses is the one predominating here, depends upon the precise meaning to be given to the whole verse.

It is now generally admitted that the Ruler proceeding from Bethlehem is the Messiah, since the idea that the words refer to Zerubbabel, which was cherished by certain Jews, according to the assertion of Chrysostom, Theodoret, and others, is too arbitrary to have met with any acceptance. Coming forth out of Bethlehem involves the idea of descent. Consequently we must not restrict מוצאתיו (His goings forth) to the appearance of the predicted future Ruler in the olden time, or to the revelations of the Messiah as the Angel of Jehovah even in the patriarchal age, but must so interpret it that it at least affirms His origin as well. Now the origin of the Angel of the Lord, who is equal to God, was not in the olden time in which He first of all appeared to the patriarchs, but before the creation of the world - in eternity. Consequently we must not restrict מקּדם מימי עולם (from of old, from the days of eternity) to the olden time, or exclude the idea of eternity in the stricter sense. Nevertheless Micah does not announce here the eternal proceeding of the Son from the Father, or of the Logos from God, the generatio filii aeterna, as the earlier orthodox commentators supposed. This is precluded by the plural מוצאתיו, which cannot be taken either as the plur. majestatis, or as denoting the abstract, or as an indefinite expression, but points to a repeated going out, and forces us to the assumption that the words affirm both the origin of the Messiah before all worlds and His appearances in the olden time, and do not merely express the thought, that "from an inconceivably remote and lengthened period the Ruler has gone forth, and has been engaged in coming, who will eventually issue from Bethlehem" (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ii. 1, p. 9).

(Note: We must reject in the most unqualified manner the attempts that have been made by the Rabbins in a polemical interest, and by rationalistic commentators from a dread of miracles, to deprive the words of their deeper meaning, so as to avoid admitting that we have any supernatural prediction here, whether by paraphrasing "His goings forth" into "the going forth of His name" (we have this even in the Chaldee), or the eternal origin into an eternal predestination (Calv.), or by understanding the going forth out of Bethlehem as referring to His springing out of the family of David, which belonged to Bethlehem (Kimchi, Abarb., and all the later Rabbins and more modern Rationalists). According to this view, the olden time and the days of eternity would stand for the primeval family; and even if such a quid pro quo were generally admissible, the words would contain a very unmeaning thought, since David's family was not older than any of the other families of Israel and Judah, whose origin also dated as far back as the patriarchal times, since the whole nation was descended from the twelve sons of Jacob, and thought them from Abraham. (See the more elaborate refutation of these views in Hengstenberg's Christology, i. p. 486ff. translation, and Caspari's Micha, p. 216ff.))

The announcement of the origin of this Ruler as being before all worlds unquestionably presupposes His divine nature; but this thought was not strange to the prophetic mind in Micah's time, but is expressed without ambiguity by Isaiah, when he gives the Messiah the name of "the Mighty God" (Isaiah 9:5; see Delitzsch's comm. in loc.). We must not seek, however, in this affirmation of the divine nature of the Messiah for the full knowledge of the Deity, as first revealed in the New Testament by the fact of the incarnation of God in Christ, and developed, for example, in the prologue to the Gospel of John. Nor can we refer the "goings forth" to the eternal proceeding of the Logos from God, as showing the inward relation of the Trinity within itself, because this word corresponds to the יצא of the first hemistich. As this expresses primarily and directly nothing more than His issuing from Bethlehem, and leaves His descent indefinite, מוצאתיו can only affirm the going forth from God at the creation of the world, and in the revelations of the olden and primeval times.

The future Ruler of Israel, whose goings forth reach back into eternity, is to spring from the insignificant Bethlehem, like His ancestor, king David. The descent of David from Bethlehem forms the substratum not only for the prophetic announcement of the fact that the Messiah would come forth out of this small town, but also for the divine appointment that Christ was born in Bethlehem, the city of David. He was thereby to be made known to the people from His very birth as the great promised descendant of David, who would take possession of the throne of His father David for ever. As the coming forth from Bethlehem implies birth in Bethlehem, so do we see from Matthew 2:5-6, and John 7:42, that the old Jewish synagogue unanimously regarded this passage as containing a prophecy of the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem. The correctness of this view is also confirmed by the account in Matthew 2:1-11; for Matthew simply relates the arrival of the Magi from the East to worship the new-born King in accordance with the whole arrangement of his Gospel, because he saw in this even a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies.

(Note: In the quotation of this verse in Matthew 2:6, the substance is given freely from memory: Καὶ σὺ Βεθλεέμ, γῆ Ἰούδα, οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη εἶ ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα· ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ ἐξελεύσεται ἡγούμενος, ὅστις ποιμανεῖ τὸν λαόν μου, τὸν Ἰσραήλ The deviations from the original text may be accounted for from the endeavour to give the sense clearly, and bring out into more distinct prominence the allusion in the words to David. The γῆ Ἰούδα, in the place of the Ephrata of the original, has sprung from 1 Samuel 17:12, where Bethlehem is distinguished from the town of the same name in Zebulun in the account of the anointing of David as king, as it frequently is in the Old Testament, by the addition of the word Judah; and γῆ Ἰούδα, "land of Judah," is attached loosely in apposition to the name Bethlehem, in the place of the more precise definition, "in the land of Judah." The alteration of the expression, "too small to be among the thousands of Judah," into οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη, κ.τ.λ., does not constitute a discrepancy, but simply alters the thought with an allusion to the glorification which Bethlehem would receive through the fact of the Messiah's springing from it. "Micah, looking at its outward condition, calls it little; but Matthew, looking at the nativity of Christ, by which this town had been most wondrously honoured and rendered illustrious, calls it very little indeed" (C. B. Mich.). The interpretation of באלפי (among the thousands) by ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν (among the princes) was very naturally suggested by the personification of Bethlehem, and still more by the thought of the ἡγούμενος about to follow; and it does not alter the idea, since the families ('ălâphı̄m) had their heads, who represented and led them. The last clause, ὅστις ποιμανεῖ, κ.τ.λ., is simply a paraphrase of בּישׂראל, probably taken from v. 3, and resting upon 2 Samuel 5:2, and pointing to the typical relation existing between the David born in Bethlehem and the second David, viz., the Messiah. The second hemistich of the verse is omitted, because it appeared superfluous so far as the immediate object of the quotation was concerned.)

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