PROPHECY AND CHOKMA IN THE FIRST EPOCHS OF THE DIVISION OF THE KINGDOM.
§23. The Prophets after the Division of the Kingdom until the Reign of Jehoshaphat and the Dynasty of Omri.
"VTATHAN bound the Messianic promise for ever
to the house of David, and Gad, since he directed David to erect an altar upon the threshingfloor of Araunah (Chronicler, Oman) the Jebusite, laid the foundation for the temple upon Moriah (2 Chron. iii. 1), in which Israel, praying and sacrificing for over a thousand years, honoured God. But we have no prophetic writings or public addresses, handed down by tradition, of either of these two prophets, or of the prophets of the first six or seven decades after the division of the kingdom, of whom Ahijah, Jedi (Iddo), Jehu ben Chanani appeared in the kingdom of Israel, and Shemaiah, Iddo, Azariah ben Oded, Chanani in the kingdom of Judah. The Books of Kings and Chronicles make us acquainted with the interference of these prophets in the history of the times, and with the words which accompanied their deeds. Their attitude to the Messianic hope is withdrawn from our knowledge. But granted that their utterances, although freely reproduced, are still not without connection with tradition, these prophets appear in many thoughts and forms of thought connected with the Messianic hope as forerunners of the later prophets.
The prophetic word of Obadiah (ver. 17) and Joel (iii. 5) concerning a np^s [an escaping] of Israel, which is to participate in salvation, after judgment has gone forth, was uttered even by Shemaiah under Jeroboam (2 Chron. xii. 7); and in the prophecy of Hosea concerning Israel's final repentance and conversion (iii. 4 f., v. 15) we seem to have the echo of the prophecy of Azariah under Asa (2 Chron. xv. 31), as well as of the word of Ahijah the Shilonite, that a lamp CVJ=TJ) shall remain for David (1 Kings xi. 36), which is a favourite expression for a promise given to David (1 Kings xv. 4: 2 Kings viii. 19; 2 Chron. xxi. 7; Ps. cxxxii. 17).
But we do not perceive anything at all which can be placed in connection with the Messianic hope in that which the historical books relate concerning the prophets of the following royal historical epoch, from Jehoshaphat and Ahab to Amaziah and Jeroboam II., namely, the Chronicles, concerning Jehu ben Chanani, Jahaziel ben Zechariah, Eliezer ben Dodawahu, and the martyr Zechariah ben Jehoida; and the Book of Kings, concerning Micaiah ben Imlah (see his address, 1 Kings xxii. 17-23), and concerning the two gigantic, wonderful prophets Elijah and Elisha.
In all which these prophets do and say there is no occasion for a testimony of Messianic significance, not even in the words which accompany Elijah's and Elisha's deeds. Their calling is directed to contend against heathenism, and in distinction from the prophets of the worship of Baal and Astarte, and of Yahweh under the form of a steer, to train up prophets of the one supernatural holy God. But it would be a wrong conclusion from silence if we should deny the Messianic hope to all these. None of the prophets of Judah or Israel denounces the division of the kingdom. All recognise that it stands de jure. But true religiousness would not be possible in Israel as in Judah unless there were connected with it the longing for the removal of the divine decree, and therefore for a king over the reunited kingdom, for another David, for the Messiah.
§ 24. The Metaphysical Conception of Wisdom in the Introduction to the Booh of Proverbs.
While the Messianic proclamation of the prophets appears to have run dry, the extra-national pure religious enrichment and deepening of the knowledge of salvation is continued. The Book of Proverbs, which belongs to this literature, has for its chief parts two collections of Solomonic proverbs, of which the younger, as is indicated in xxv. 1, was revised by the "Men of Hezekiah." There is no more favourable time for editing the older collection than the period of Jehoshaphat, the king who, more perhaps than any other, seemed to be concerned for the promotion of the training of the people upon the ground of true religiousness (2 Chron. xvii. 7-9).
There follow upon the title and motto of the older collection of proverbs (i. 1-7) in i. 8-ix., connected addresses in the form of proverbs, which serve the rioty "beto (the Proverbs of Solomon x. 1) as an introduction, and, directing themselves especially to the youth, commend the wisdom which is rooted in the fear of God. The one who utters the prologue speaks here as a father to his children, but three times he introduces Wisdom herself as speaking (i. 20 ff., viii. 1 ff., ix. 1-12). He calls her nnan or rton (i. 20, ix. 1), which is just such an intensive plural as She comes forth publicly after the manner of a street preacher and travelling teacher. She appears as a person of divine character, for she promises (i. 23) those who return to her a participation in her spirit, and it is presupposed (ver. 28) that prayer is offered to her, and that she causes prayers to be answered, or even unanswered. The personification, in itself considered, can be regarded just as purely allegorical as that of folly (ix. 13). But the question ever recurs, What is the conception which the author has of this Wisdom who gives forth the spirit from herself, and is to be called upon in prayer? It appears from her testimony that, in his opinion, she is more than a personified characteristic, more than a personified good (viii. 22-31): "Yahweh hath brought me forth1 as the firstling of His way [of His activity, which had its end in a world of creatures], before any of His works from the beginning. From everlasting I was established, from the very first, from the primitive commencement of the earth. When the depths of water did not exist, I was born, when the fountains did not exist, laden with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was born—when He bad not yet worked out the earth and the fields, and the sum of the particles of dust of the earth. When He prepared the heaven I was there, when He measured off a circle about the surface of the depths of water. When He fastened the heights of ether above, when the sources of the depths of the waters broke forth mightily, when He set to the sea its bounds, that the waters should not transgress His commands; when He measured off the foundations of the earth, then I was by him as a workman,2 and I carried on a joyous play daily, gamboling before Him all the time, gamboling in the world of His earth, and carrying on my joyous play among the children of men."
Five thoughts come in this self-testimony of Wisdom
1 The Targum and the Syriac version translate 'JSIB, which
is inadmissible; for, in the view of the author, the bringing forth of Wisdom preceded &ro JVCJ'K'O (JITtOa ilCJJD), she is therefore not even a work of creation.
2 The noun poN forms no feminine, and has therefore, like artifex, two genders. It is here considered as feminine; but, since Wisdom is to be thought of as without gender, is not to be translated as a feminine Ivftiovpyo; (cf. nevertheless Wisd. vii. 21, T£x»<T/f).
to pictorial expression: (1) she was born of God before the creation of the world; (2) she was present as this came into being; (3) she took on by it a mediating position, since God in the execution of His thoughts of creation made use of her mediation; (4) this service which she rendered to God, the Creator, was for her a delightful pleasure; (5) the dearest circle of her activity, but within the entire creation, was the earth and the men upon it.
As the Spirit of God is a power which goes forth from God, which makes alive that which is to be created, and maintains in life that which is created; so Wisdom is a power born of God, which makes that a reality which is to be created in the manner willed by God, and which helps free creatures, especially men, to the attainment of the end divinely willed. If we thought of these powers, ejected from God, as special divine existences separated from God, we should have a mythological representation which could not be harmonized with the unity of God. The true state of the case should rather be represented, that God, as the origin of being, discloses the Spirit and the Wisdom from Himself as special ways of the manifestation of His being. Spirit and Wisdom are powers originating in the being of the one God, and surrounded by His one being. Without finding in it the trinitarian dogma, we nevertheless ascertain that the Old Testament Scriptures, since on their first page they discriminate between D'iTPK and Cn^N W\ do not conceive of God as an inflexible monas, and that, since
the enters as causa media of God's relation to
the world, the one being of God is represented as threefold. As in the Old Testament history the way is prepared for the New Testament revelation of God, since it distinguishes between God and His Spirit and His Angel, in which His name, that is, the self-revelation of His being, is to be made; so the way is prepared in the Old Testament Chokma literature, since it distinguishes between God and His Spirit and His Wisdom. It is remarkable that the utterances of Wisdom in Prov. i. and viii. correspond remarkably with the utterances of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Even the beginning of John i. 1, ev apy^ Tjv 6 \0709, is related in contents to the \srn JVtwn 'JJj5 'n (Prov. viii. 22). And when the apostle (Col. i. 16) says of Christ: To. irdvja Si aurov ical et9 avrbv eicnarat, this can be transformed, according to Prov. viii. 22—31, into the utterance that Wisdom, which was the mediatrix of the creation of the world, and is the ideal goal of the world's history, has appeared in Him historically and bodily.
§ 25. The Epithalamium, Ps. xlv.
Our view is now again turned from the moralizing and dogmatizing Chokma to lyric poetry, which moves in hopes and wishes; for, as we go farther from the period of Jehoshaphat's reign, the forty-fifth Psalm draws our attention to itself, which we hold, for probable reasons which we have expressed elsewhere,—cf. ver. 9 with 1 Kings xxii. 39; Amos iii. 15,—for an epithalamium composed on the marriage of Joram, the son of Jehoshaphat, with Athaliah, the daughter of the wife of Ahab, sprung from the royal house of Tyre. Without holding our view as infallible, we consider that it is sufficiently established, so that we are subjectively justified in attributing this psalm to the time of Jehoshaphat and Joram. But whether the king whom the poet celebrates was Joram, or perhaps some one else, it remains permanently established (1) that he stands before the poet in the light of Messianic exaltation and destiny, and (2) that he did not justify the wedding wishes and expectations. In three places the one who is celebrated is raised beyond the bounds of time into the sphere of the unending. "Thou art endowed with beauty," says ver. 3, "more than the children of men. Grace is poured out upon thy lips, therefore Elohim hath blessed thee for ever" The beauty and the grace of his appearance make the impression of an imperishable blessing. And the conelusion of ver. 18 is: "I will extol thy name in all generations, therefore peoples will praise thee for ever and ever" (*W a<$), — the poet, speaking in the name of the immortal congregation, knows beforehand that his praise of this king will be spread abroad in ever wider circles over the entire inhabited world, and will resound for ever. In ver. 7 he even appears to address :"Thy throne, Elohim, endures for
ever and ever" (Tgl D^tf). The Epistle to the Hebrews (i. 8 f.), at least, proceeds from the understanding of this D'n^K as a vocative, and we may
correct or explain as we will, ver. 7 a is certainly not an address to God. The three utterances, whether Solomon or Joram, or whoever else may be this king, are hyperboles, but which have nothing in common with the royal apotheoses of courtly Oriental poetry. The poet cherishes really the transcendent hope that the young king who is about to be married will realize the ideal of the theocratic kingdom, and hence the Messianic idea. The one celebrated nevertheless disappointed these high expectations, and far from being an object of uersal and everlasting praise, he has disappeared. But, on the other hand, the poet was in so far not deceived, since he really, as two thousand years ago, yet sings the praise of the divine King in this song which still exists. For since this psalm was received into the hymn-book of the Church, it has ceased to be a song written for a special occasion. It is, according to the prophetic word, to be understood as a song of praise to King Messiah, and for the New Testament Church, for which, more than for the Old Testament, all sensuous elements have been transformed into supersensuous, it is a song of the "marriage of the Lamb," closely related to the Song of Songs as mystically understood.
Remark.—As Canticles, antitypically and hence mystically understood, remains out of the range of the Old Testament progress of the knowledge of salvation, and could only be taken into account when, in the view of the poet himself, it was an allegorical picture; so Ps. xlv., first through the signification which the congregation connects with it, which Hermann Schultz in his Old Testament Theology calls "the second meaning of Scripture," becomes eschatological and Messianic. The praise of the poet himself is connected with a king who belongs to his own time, whom he regards as fulfilling the Messianic hope, in so far as he appears to him in his heavenly beauty, his irresistible power, his moral purity and elevation, the full realization of the close relation in which David and his seed is placed to God. But this king marries a king's daughter, and his throne is eternal only through inheritance 17a). These
are characteristics which do not enrich the image of the Messiah, but only cloud it; for the Messiah, as is predicated in the Old Testament, is raised above the earthly conditions of marriage and of the blessing of children. His throne is eternal, because it has eternal duration in Him, and without being inherited outside of Himself. These characteristics, which are occasioned by the origin of the song as a marriage poem, demand for the psalm as a church, and at the same time as a New Testament hymn, a spiritual metamorphosis. And in view of these characteristics, the interpretation of 7a, as a vocative is improbable, and, presupposing the primitive character of the text, is to be translated, "Thy throne of Elohim (cf. the syntax of 2 Sam. xxii. 33) is for ever and ever," that is, the throne which thou takest as anointed of God. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews cites and uses the passage according to the Greek text.