Hosea 4:4
Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for your people are as they that strive with the priest.
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(4) Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another.—Better, Nevertheless, let no one contend, let no one reprove, for the voices of wise counsel, the warnings of the prophet, will be silenced. Ephraim will in his obstinate wrong-doing be left alone. The last clause of the verse is rendered by nearly all versions and commentators, Though thy people are as those who contend with a priesti.e., are as guilty as those who transgress the teaching of the Torah by defying the injunctions of the priest (Deuteronomy 17:12-13; Numbers 15:33). But the Speaker’s Commentary gives a different rendering, which is better adapted to the denunciations of the priest in the following verses (comp. Hosea 6:9). By a slight change in the punctuation of the Hebrew we obtain the interpretation, “And thy people, O priest, are as my adversaries.” The position of the vocative in Hebrew, and the absence of the article, are, no doubt, objections to such a construction, but they are not insuperable, and the compensating advantage to exegesis is manifest.

Hosea 4:4-5. Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another — Bishop Horsley translates this clause, By no means let any one expostulate, nor let any one reprove; adding, by way of paraphrase, “For all expostulation and reproof will be lost upon this people, such are their stubbornness anal obstinacy. For my people are as they that strive (Are exactly like those who will contend, Horsley) with the priest — “To contend with the priest, the authorized interpreter of the law, and the typical intercessor between God and the people, was the highest species of contumacy and disobedience, and by the law was a capital offence, Deuteronomy 17:12. God tells the prophet that contumacy and perverseness, even in this degree, were become the general character of the people; that the national obstinacy, and contempt of the remonstrances and reproofs of the prophets, were such as might be compared with the stubbornness of an individual who, at the peril of his life, would arraign and disobey the judicial decisions of God’s priests.” In other words, that there was no modesty, nor fear of God or man, left among them, but they would contend with their teachers, reprovers, and counsellors. The LXX. translate this clause, Ο δε λαος

μου ως αντιλεγομενος ιερευς, My people are as a gainsaying priest, that is, as Houbigant interprets it, they follow the rebellion of the priest: or, are as wicked as those priests who infamously desert the service of God for that of idols. Pocock on the place quotes a MS. Arabic version, which considers the words as declarative, and translates them accordingly; a sense which is approved by Archbishop Newcome, who renders the verse, Yet no man contendeth, and no man reproveth; and as is the provocation of the priest, so is that of my people. While every kind of wickedness abounded, and crimes of all sorts were openly committed from one end of the land to the other, there was no person, either prophet, priest, or magistrate, who protested against such vices, or steadily opposed them. Therefore shalt thou fall — The last sentence was addressed to the prophet, “Thy people, O prophet;” this to the people themselves, “Thou, O stubborn people.” This sudden conversion of the speech of the principal speaker, from one to another of the different persons of the scene, is frequent in the prophets. In the day — Not for want of light to see thy way; but in the full daylight of divine instruction thou shalt fall. Even at the rising of that light which is for the lighting of every man that cometh into the world. In this daytime, when our Lord himself visited them, the Jews made their last false step, and fell. Thou shalt fall when it is least probable; when thou thinkest thy state most secure and prosperous. And the prophet also, &c., in the night — “In the night of ignorance, which shall close thy day, the prophet shall fall with thee; that is, the order of prophets among you shall cease.” Thus Bishop Horsley, who understands the words as spoken of true prophets. But it seems more probable that they are intended of false prophets, and that the meaning is, that their revelations, to which they pretended in the night, or in the darkness of ignorance and error, should be delusive and dangerous ones. Or, the people were to fall by day, the prophets by night, because the ruin of the latter would be the consequence of the ruin of the former: the prophets would then fall after the people, when the people, being destroyed, it should appear that the prophets had spoken falsely by predicting prosperity. And I will destroy thy mother — That is, the mother city, the metropolis. So Capellus, Houbigant, and Archbishop Newcome. If the prophet be considered as addressing the ten tribes only, Samaria is meant; but if he addressed the children of Israel in general, then Jerusalem must be intended: which city, and not Samaria, was the metropolis of the whole nation.4:1-5 Hosea reproves for immorality, as well as idolatry. There was no truth, mercy, or knowledge of God in the land: it was full of murders, 2Ki 21:16. Therefore calamities were near, which would desolate the country. Our sins, as separate persons, as a family, as a neighbourhood, as a nation, cause the Lord to have a controversy with us; let us submit and humble ourselves before Him, that he may not go on to destroy.Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another - Literally, "Only man let him, not strive, and let not man reprove." God had taken the controversy with His people into His own hands; the Lord, He said , "hath a controversy (rib) with the inhabitants of the land" Hosea 4:1. Here He forbids man to intermeddle; man let him not strive. He again uses the same word . The people were obstinate and would not hear; warning and reproof, being neglected, only aggravated their guilt: so God bids man to cease to speak in His Name. He Himself alone will implead them, whose pleading none could evade or contradict. Subordinately, God, teaches us, amid His judgments, not to strive or throw the blame on each other, but each to look to his own sins, not to the sins of others.

For thy people are as they that strive with the priest - God had made it a part of the office of the priest, to "keep knowledge" Malachi 2:7. He had bidden, that all hard causes should be taken "to Deuteronomy 17:8-12 the priest who stood to minister there before the Lord their God;" and whose refused the priest's sentence was to be put to death. The priest was then to judge in God's Name. As speaking in His Name, in His stead, with His authority, taught by Himself, they were called by that Name, in Which they spoke, אלהים 'elohı̂ym Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9, "God," not in regard to themselves but as representing Him. To "strive" then "with the priest" was the highest contumacy; and such was their whole life and conduct. It was the character of the whole kingdom of "Israel." For they had thrown off the authority of the family of Aaron, which God had appointed. Their political existence was based upon the rejection of that authority. The national character influences the individual. When the whole polity is formed on disobedience and revolt, individuals will not tolerate interference. As they had rejected the priest, so would and did they reject the prophets. He says not, they were "priest-strivers," (for they had no lawful priests, against whom to strive,) but they were like priest-strivers, persons whose habit it was to strive with those who spoke in God's Name. He says in fact, let not man strive with those who strive with God. The uselessness of such reproof is often repeated. He "that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame, and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot" Proverbs 9:7-8. "Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee" Proverbs 23:9. Speak not in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of thy words." Stephen gives it as a characteristic of the Jews, "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do ye" Acts 7:51.

4. let no man … reprove—Great as is the sin of Israel, it is hopeless to reprove them; for their presumptuous guilt is as great as that of one who refuses to obey the priest when giving judgment in the name of Jehovah, and who therefore is to be put to death (De 17:12). They rush on to their own destruction as wilfully as such a one.

thy people—the ten tribes of Israel; distinct from Judah (Ho 4:1).

Yet; though judgments great and wasting are so sure, though the approaching calamities will lay all utterly waste.

Let no man; none of private capacity, no priest or prophet, any more open their mouths to reason and debate with this people; let all know they are so obstinate and hardened it is to no purpose to warn any more.

Strive; contend, as in causes pleaded before a judge; lay not the law before them, who have so often refused to hear it.

Nor reprove; no more chide, or sharply inveigh against their sins and ways. Or this whole passage may be thus read,

Yet certainly there is none that may or can strive, & c. All are so corrupted, that there is none free who may with confidence argue against others. But our version is better of the two.

Thy people; thy countrymen, Hosea, if the former words be the words of God to the prophet. Or else, if they be the words of the prophet to the people, then he speaks to them of the temper of their neighbours and people with whom they dwelt. It is much one which we take, for Hosea was now among them; and whether his people or no, they are still the same persons spoken of.

Are as they that strive with the priest; there is no ingenuity, modesty, or fear of God or man left among them, they will contend with their teachers, reprovers, and counsellors; they will justify themselves, and contemn all reproof; they will adhere to sin, and reject all better advice, just as they Malachi 1:2,7 2:14. This doth not suppose, much less assert, the priests of Baal and the calves to be true priests; but were they as true as they are false, yet such is the temper of the people, they would not hear, consider, and amend, whoever contested with them. Let them alone therefore to perish with obstinate sinners. Yet, let no man strive, nor reprove another,.... Or rather, "let no man strive, nor any man reprove us" (q); and are either the words of the people, forbidding the prophet, or any other man, to contend with them, or reprove them for their sins, though guilty of so many, and their land in so much danger on that account: so the Targum,

"but yet they say, let not the scribe teach, nor the prophet reprove:''

or else they are the words of God to the prophet, restraining him from striving with and reproving such a people, that were incorrigible, and despised all reproof; see Ezekiel 3:26 or of the prophet to other good men, to forbear anything of this kind, since it was all to no purpose; it was but casting pearls before swine; it was all labour lost, and in vain:

for thy people are as they that strive with the priest; they are so far from receiving correction and reproof kindly from any good men that they will rise up against, and strive with the priests, to whom not to hearken was a capital crime, Deuteronomy 17:12. Abarbinel interprets it, and some in Abendana, like the company of Korah, that contended with Aaron; suggesting that this people were as impudent and wicked as they, and there was no dealing with them. So the Targum,

"but thy people contend with their teachers;''

and will submit to no correction, and therefore it is in vain to give it them. Though some think the sense is, that all sorts of men were so corrupt, that there were none fit to be reprovers; the people were like the priests, and the priests like the people, Hosea 4:9, so that when the priests reproved them, they contended with them, and said, physician, heal thyself; take the beam out of your own eye; look to yourselves, and your own sins, and do not reprove us.

(q) "et ne reprehendito quisquam, scil. nos", Schmidt.

Yet {c} let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.

(c) As though he would say that it was in vain to rebuke them, for no man can endure it: indeed, they will speak against the prophets and priests whose office it is chiefly to rebuke them.

4. Yet let no man strive … as they that strive with the priest] The view of the meaning of this verse suggested by A.V. may be expressed in the words of Henderson. ‘All reproof on the part of their friends or neighbours generally would prove fruitless, seeing they had reached a degree of hardihood, which was only equalled by the contumacy of those who refused to obey the priest, when he gave judgment in the name of the Lord, Deuteronomy 17:12.’ This assumes that the counsel not to strive comes from Jehovah. We might however follow Ewald, who understands the opening words of Hosea 4:4 to mean that the people ‘will not permit any one, even a prophet, to contend with them, although they themselves do not scruple in the least to quarrel with every one, even with the priest who would admonish them, in spite of the traditional reverence for his office, Deuteronomy 17:8-18; Eccl. 4:17, 18.’ The comparison at the end of the verse, when explained thus, is no doubt obscurely expressed, but not more so than that in Hosea 5:10, ‘the princes of Judah are become like those that remove the bound.’ Still there are objections, viz. (1) that in Hosea 4:6 the second person undoubtedly refers to the priesthood, and why should it be taken differently in Hosea 4:5? and (2) that in Hosea 4:6 the priests are so vehemently denounced, that we can hardly suppose that contending with them would be referred to as a sin in Hosea 4:5. Various conjectures have been proposed for emending the passage. The most plausible is that of Prof. Robertson Smith (The Prophets of Israel, p. 406), who for kim’ribhç ‘as they that strive with’, reads mârû bhî ‘have rebelled against me.’ At any rate, we must agree with him and with Mr Heilprin, that the concluding word is a vocative—‘O priest.’ The view of the meaning of Hosea 4:4-6 given in the note before this is based upon this conjecture. ‘Priest’ here = priestly caste, as ‘a prophet’ in Deuteronomy 18:18 = an order of prophets.

4–6. It is not you, the laity, bad as you are, who are most to blame; do not waste your time in mutual recrimination. The real blame lies with the priests. Jehovah has a solemn word for thee, O priest; thy whole clan are virtually in rebellion against me. For thy penalty, thou shalt suffer one blow after another, (a ‘fall’ means a calamity), as it were by day and by night; and thine accomplice, the prophet, shall partake in thy punishment. Yea, thy whole stock, priests as well as people, Jehovah will destroy. And why? Because thou, O priest, whose duty it was to teach the life-giving knowledge of God, hast absolutely rejected it thyself. Henceforth thou art no priest of mine.Daniel 9:1 and Daniel 9:2 mention the occasion on which the penitential prayer (vv. 3-19) was offered, and the divine revelation following thereupon regarding the time and the course of the oppression of the people of God by the world-power till the completion of God's plan of salvation.

Regarding Darius, the son of Ahasverosch, of the race of the Medes, see under Daniel 6:1. In the word המלך the Hophal is to be noticed: rex constitutus, factus est. It shows that Darius did not become king over the Chaldean kingdom by virtue of a hereditary right to it, nor that he gained the kingdom by means of conquest, but that he received it (קבּל, Daniel 6:1) from the conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus, the general of the army. The first year of the reign of Darius the Mede over the Chaldean kingdom is the year 538 b.c., since Babylon was taken by the Medes and Persians under Cyrus in the year 539-538 b.c. According to Ptolemy, Cyrus the Persian reigned nine years after Nabonadius. But the death of Cyrus, as is acknowledged, occurred in the year 529 b.c. From the nine years of the reign of Cyrus, according to our exposition, two years are to be deducted for Darius the Mede, so that the reign of Cyrus by himself over the kingdom which he founded begins in the year 536, in which year the seventy years of the Babylonish exile of the Jews were completed; cf. The exposition under Daniel 1:1 with the chronological survey in the Com. on the Books of the Kings.

The statement as to the time, Daniel 9:1, is again repeated in the beginning of Daniel 9:2, on account of the relative sentence coming between, so as to connect that which follows with it. We translate (in Daniel 9:2), with Hgstb., Maur., Hitzig, "I marked, or gave heed, in the Scriptures to the number of the years," so that מספּר (number) forms the object to בּינתי (I understood); cf. Proverbs 7:7. Neither the placing of בּספרים (by books) first nor the Atnach under this word controvert this view; for the object is placed after "by books" because a further definition is annexed to it; and the separation of the object from the verb by the Atnach is justified by this consideration, that the passage contains two statements, viz., that Daniel studied the Scriptures, and that his study was directed to the number of the years, etc. בּספרים, with the definite article, does not denote a collection of known sacred writings in which the writings of Jeremiah were included, so that, seeing the collection of the prophets cannot be thought of without the Pentateuch, by this word we are to understand (with Bleek, Gesenius, v. Leng., Hitzig) the recognised collection of the O.T. writings, the Law and the Prophets. For הסּפרים, τὰ βιβλιά, is not synonymous with הכּתוּבים, αἱ γραφαί, but denotes only writings in the plural, but does not say that these writings formed already a recognised collection; so that from this expression nothing can be concluded regarding the formation of the O.T. canon. As little can בּספרים refer, with Hv. and Kran., to the letter of Jeremiah to the exiles (Jeremiah 29), for this reason, that not in Jeremiah 29, but in Jeremiah 25:11., the seventy years of the desolation of the land of Judah, and implic. of Jerusalem, are mentioned. The plur. ספרים also can be understood of a single letter, only if the context demands or makes appropriate this narrower application of the word, as e.g., 2 Kings 19:14. But here this is not the case, since Jeremiah in two separate prophecies speaks of the seventy years, and not in the letter of Jeremiah 29, but only in Jeremiah 25, has he spoken of the seventy years' desolation of the land. In בּספרים lies nothing further than that writings existed, among which were to be found the prophecies of Jeremiah; and the article, the writings, is used, because in the following passage something definite is said of these writings.

In these writings Daniel considered the number of the years of which Jeremiah had prophesied. אשׁר, as Daniel 8:26, with respect to which, relates not to השׁנים, but to השׁנים מספּר (number of the years). It is no objection against this that the repetition of the words "seventy years" stands opposed to this connection (Klief.), for this repetition does not exist, since מספּר does not declare the number of the years. With למלּאת (to fulfil) the contents of the word of Jehovah, as given by Jeremiah, are introduced. לחרבות does not stand for the accusative: to cause to be complete the desolation of Jerusalem (Hitzig), but ל signifies in respect of, with regard to. This expression does not lean on Jeremiah 29:10 (Kran.), but on Jeremiah 25:12 ("when seventy years are accomplished"). חרבות, properly, desolated places, ruins, here a desolated condition. Jerusalem did not certainly lie in ruins for seventy years; the word is not thus to be interpreted, but is chosen partly with regard to the existing state of Jerusalem, and partly with reference to the words of Jeremiah 25:9, Jeremiah 25:11. Yet the desolation began with the first taking of Jerusalem, and the deportation of Daniel and his companions and a part of the sacred vessels of the temple, in the fourth years of Jehoiakim (606 b.c.).

(Note: Thus also the seventy years of the Exile are reckoned in 2 Chronicles 36:21-23; Ezra 1:1. This Ewald also recognises (Proph. iii. p. 430), but thinks that it is not an exact reckoning of the times, but rather, according to Zechariah 1:12 and Daniel 9:25, that the destruction of Jerusalem forms the date of the commencement of the desolation and of the seventy years. But Daniel 9:25 contains no expression, or even intimation, regarding the commencement of the Exile; and in the words of Zechariah 1:12, "against which Thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years," there does not lie the idea that the seventy years prophesied of by Jeremiah came to an end in the second year of Darius Hystaspes. See under this passage.)

Consequently, in the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede over the kingdom of the Chaldeans the seventy years prophesied of by Jeremiah were now full, the period of the desolation of Jerusalem determined by God was almost expired. What was it that moved Daniel at this time to pour forth a penitential prayer in behalf of Jerusalem and the desolated sanctuary? Did he doubt the truth of the promise, that God, after seventy years of exile in Babylon, would visit His people and fulfil the good word He had spoken, that He would again bring back His people to Judea (Jeremiah 29:10)? Certainly not, since neither the matter of his prayer, nor the divine revelation which was vouchsafed to him in answer to his prayer, indicated any doubt on his part regarding the divine promise.

According to the opinion of Bleek and Ewald, it was Daniel's uncertainty regarding the termination of the seventy years which moved him to prayer Bleek (Jahrbb.f. D. Theol. v. p. 71) thus expresses himself on the subject: "This prophecy of Jeremiah might be regarded as fulfilled in the overthrow of the Babylonian kingdom and the termination of the Exile, when the Jews obtained from Cyrus permission to return to their native land and to rebuild their city and temple, but yet not perfectly, so far as with the hope of the return of the people from exile there was united the expectation that they would then turn in truth to their God, and that Jehovah would fulfil all His good promises to them to make them partakers of the Messianic redemption (cf. Jeremiah 29:10., also other prophecies of Jeremiah and of other prophets regarding the return of the people from exile, such as Isaiah 40ff.); but this result was not connected in such extent and fulness with the return of the people and the restoration of the state." On the supposition of the absolute inspiration of the prophets, it appeared therefore appropriate "to regard Jeremiah's prophecy of the seventy years, after the expiry of which God will fulfil His good promises to His people, as stretching out into a later period beyond that to which the seventy years would extend, and on that account to inquire how it was to be properly interpreted." Ewald (Proph. iii. p. 421ff.) is of opinion that these seventy years of Jeremiah did not pass by without the fulfilment of his prophecy, that the ruins of Jerusalem would not continue for ever. Already forty-nine years after its destruction a new city of Jerusalem took the place of the old as the centre of the congregation of the true religion, but the stronger hopes regarding the Messianic consummation which connected itself herewith were neither then, nor in all the long times following, down to that moment in which our author (in the age of the Maccabees) lived and wrote, ever fulfilled. Then the faithful were everywhere again exposed to the severest sufferings, such as they had not experienced since the old days of the destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore the anxious question as to the duration of such persecution and the actual beginning of the Messianic time, which Daniel, on the ground of the mysterious intimation in Daniel 7:12, Daniel 7:25 and Daniel 8:13., regarding the period of the sufferings of the time of the end, sought here to solve, is agitated anew; for he shows how the number of the seventy years of Jeremiah, which had long ago become sacred, yet accorded with these late times without losing its original truth. Thus Ewald argues.

These two critics in their reasoning proceed on the dogmatic ground, which they regard as firmly established, that the book of Daniel is a product of the age of the Maccabees. All who oppose the genuineness of this book agree with them in the view that this chapter contains an attempt, clothed in the form of a divine revelation communicated to the prophet in answer to his prayer, to solve the mystery how Jeremiah's prophecy of the beginning of the Messianic salvation after the seventy years of exile is to be harmonized with the fact that this salvation, centuries after the fall of the Babylonish kingdom and the return of the Jews from the Babylonish exile, had not yet come, but that instead of it, under Antiochus Epiphanes, a time of the severest oppression had come. How does this opinion stand related to the matter of this chapter, leaving out of view all other grounds for the genuineness of the book of Daniel? Does the prayer of Daniel, or the divine revelation communicated to him by means of Gabriel regarding the seventy weeks, contain elements which attest its correctness or probability?

The prayer of Daniel goes forth in the earnest entreaty that the Lord would turn away His anger from the city Jerusalem and His holy mountain, and cause His face to shine on the desolation and on the city that was called by His name (Daniel 9:15-18). If this prayer is connected with the statement in Daniel 9:2, that Daniel was moved thereto by the consideration of the words of Jeremiah regarding the desolation of Jerusalem, we can understand by the ruins, for the removal of which Daniel prayed, only the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple which was brought about by the Chaldeans. Consequently the prayer indicates that the desolation of Jerusalem predicted by Jeremiah and accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar still continued, and that the city and the temple had not yet been rebuilt. This, therefore, must have been in the time of the Exile, and not in the time of Antiochus, who, it is true, desolated the sanctuary by putting an end to the worship of Jehovah and establishing the worship of idols, but did not lay in ruins either the temple or the city.

In his message (Daniel 9:24-27) the angel speaks only of the going forth of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, and present the going forth of this word as the beginning of the seventy weeks of Daniel determined upon the people and the holy city within which Jerusalem must be built, and thus distinguishes the seventy weeks as distinctly as possible from Jeremiah's seventy years during which Jerusalem and Judah should lie desolate. Thus is set aside the opinion that the author of this chapter sought to interpret the seventy years of Jeremiah by the seventy weeks; and it shows itself to be only the pure product of the dogmatic supposition, that this book does not contain prophecies of the prophet Daniel living in the time of the Exile, but only apocalyptic dreams of a Maccabean Jew.

(Note: The supposition that the seventy weeks, Daniel 9:24, are an interpretation of the seventy years of Jeremiah, is the basis on which Hitzig rests the assertion that the passage does not well adjust itself to the standpoint of the pretended Daniel, but is in harmony with the time of the Maccabees. The other arguments which Hitzig and others bring forth against this chapter as the production of Daniel, consist partly in vain historical or dogmatic assertions, such as that there are doubts regarding the existence of Darius of Media, - partly in misinterpretations, such as that Daniel wholly distinguishes himself, Daniel 9:6, Daniel 9:10, from the prophets, and presents himself as a reader of their writings (Hitz.), - opinions which are no better founded than the conclusions of Berth., v. Leng., and Staeh., drawn from the mention of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Daniel 9:7, and of the holy city, Daniel 9:24, that Jerusalem was then still inhabited and the temple still standing. To this it is added, that the prayer of Daniel is an imitation of the prayers of Ezra 9:1-15 and Nehemiah 9, or, as Ewald thinks, an extract from the prayer of Baruch (Bar. 1 and 2).)

Moreover, it is certainly true that in the Exile the expectation that the perfection and glory of the kingdom of God by the Messiah would appear along with the liberation of the Jews from Babylon was founded on the predictions of the earlier prophets, but that Daniel shared this expectation the book presents no trace whatever. Jeremiah also, neither in Jeremiah 25 nor in Jeremiah 29, where he speaks of the seventy years of the domination of Babylon, announces that the Messianic salvation would begin immediately with the downfall of the Babylonian kingdom. In Jeremiah 25 he treats only of the judgment, first over Judah, and then over Babylon and all the kingdoms around; and in Jeremiah 29 he speaks, it is true, of the fulfilling of the good word of the return of the Jews to their fatherland when seventy years shall be fulfilled for Babylon (Daniel 9:10), and of the counsel of Jehovah, which is formed not for the destruction but for the salvation of His people, of the restoration of the gracious relation between Jehovah and His people, and the gathering together and the bringing back of the prisoners from among all nations whither they had been scattered (Daniel 9:11-14), but he says not a word to lead to the idea that all this would take place immediately after these seventy years.

Now if Daniel, in the first year of Darius the Mede, i.e., in the sixty-ninth year of the Exile, prayed thus earnestly for the restoration of Jerusalem and the sanctuary, he must have been led to do so from a contemplation of the then existing state of things. The political aspect of the world-kingdom could scarcely have furnished to him such a motive. The circumstance that Darius did not immediately after the fall of Babylon grant permission to the Jews to return to their fatherland and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, could not make him doubt the certainty of the fulfilment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah regarding the duration of the Exile, since the prophecy of Isaiah, Isaiah 44:28, that Coresch (Cyrus) should build Jerusalem and lay the foundation of the temple was beyond question known to him, and Darius had in a certain sense reached the sovereignty over the Chaldean kingdom, and was of such an age (Daniel 6:1) that now his reign must be near its end, and Cyrus would soon mount his throne as his successor. That which moved Daniel to prayer was rather the religious condition of his own people, among whom the chastisement of the Exile had not produced the expected fruits of repentance; so that, though he did not doubt regarding the speedy liberation of his people from Babylonish exile, he might still hope for the early fulfilment of the deliverance prophesied of after the destruction of Babylon and the return of the Jews to Canaan. This appears from the contents of the prayer. From the beginning to the close it is pervaded by sorrow on account of the great sinfulness of the people, among whom also there were no signs of repentance. The prayer for the turning away of the divine wrath Daniel grounds solely on the mercy of God, and upon that which the Lord had already done for His people by virtue of His covenant faithfulness, the צדקות (righteousness) of the Lord, not the "righteousness" of the people. This confession of sin, and this entreaty for mercy, show that the people, as a whole, were not yet in that spiritual condition in which they might expect the fulfilment of that promise of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:12.): "Ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart; and I will be found of you, and will turn away your captivity," etc.

With this view of the contents of the prayer corresponds the divine answer which Gabriel brings to the prophet, the substance of which is to this effect, that till the accomplishment of God's plan of salvation in behalf of His people, yet seventy weeks are appointed, and that during this time great and severe tribulations would fall upon the people and the city.

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