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The first chapter opens with a description of God's awful majesty and power, which nothing created can withstand. These attributes shall be directed to the utter and perpetual overthrow of Nineveh and the salvation of God's afflicted people. The second chapter begins a sublime description of the process of this destruction by the invasion of foreign armies.

The third continues the account of the desolation of Nineveh by her foes. For her innumerable sins she shall be brought to shame before the nations of the earth, and made like populous No, that is, No-amon, the celebrated metropolis of upper Egypt, also called Thebes, whose children were dashed in pieces and her great men laid in chains. The present condition of Nineveh, a mass of uninhabitable ruins, is a solemn comment upon the closing words of the prophecy; "There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the report of thee shall clap their hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?

Respecting Habakkuk's personal history we have no information. The apocryphal notices of him are unworthy of credence. From the fifth and sixth verses of the first chapter it is evident that he prophesied not long before that series of invasions by the Chaldeans which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the people; that is, somewhere between and years before Christ, so that he was contemporary with Jeremiah and Zephaniah.

The theme of his prophecy is, first, the overthrow of Judea by the Chaldeans, and then the overthrow in turn of the Chaldean monarchy, each power in turn for its sins. In the first chapter he predicts in a dramatic form -- that of expostulation with God on the part of the prophet, and God's answer -- the approaching desolation of the land by the Chaldean armies, whose resistless power he describes in bold and striking imagery.

In the second chapter the prophet appears standing on his watch to see what answer Jehovah will give to the expostulation with which the preceding chapter closes. He receives a comforting message, but one that will try the faith of God's people by its delay. Verse 3. It is an announcement of the overthrow of the Chaldean oppressor, carried out in a series of bold and vivid descriptions in which woe upon woe is pronounced against him for his rapine, covetousness, iniquitous oppression, and idolatry.

The third chapter is a lyric ode in which the prophet, in view of both the judgments that God is about to execute on his countrymen through the Chaldeans chap. Thus this sublime song is both a prayer for the renewal of God's wondrous works in the days of old and a prophecy of such a renewal. The apostle Paul quotes the words of Habakkuk: "The just shall live by his faith" , and applies them to all believers Rom.

The language of chap. It was also to be in the day of that generation -- "in your days.

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The dedication of Habakkuk's ode "to the chief musician" -- the Hebrew word is the same that so often occurs in the titles of the Psalms -- implies that this ode was to be used in the solemn worship of God. The added words, "on my stringed instruments," are most naturally understood of those under his charge as a leader in the service of song in the sanctuary. Hence we infer with probability that Habakkuk was a Levite. Zephaniah prophesied in the reign of Josiah , apparently while his work of reformation was in progress and not yet completed , 8, 9 ; that is, somewhere between his twelfth and his eighteenth year 2 Chron.

In the first chapter he predicts the utter desolation of Judah, and with it the destruction of all the patrons of idolatry and the rich and presumptuous sinners in Jerusalem. In the second chapter he exhorts the covenant people to repentance in view of the judgments that are coming upon them verses , threatens the surrounding nations -- Philistia, Moab, and Ammon -- with desolation verses , and denounces the judgments of God upon the Ethiopians and Assyrians verses In the third chapter, after a severe rebuke of Jerusalem for her incorrigible rebellion against God verses , he foretells in glowing language the future purification and enlargement of Zion, and the destruction of all her enemies verses The style of Zephaniah is clear and flowing, having a general resemblance to that of Jeremiah.

He has frequent allusions to the earlier prophets. The genealogy of Zephaniah is given through Cushi, Gedaliah, and Amariah to Hezekiah; for in the original Hebrew the words Hizkiah and Hezekiah are the same.

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As it is not usual that the descent of prophets should be given with such particularity, it has been assumed, with some probability, that this Hezekiah was the king of that name; though in this case we should have expected the addition "king of Judah. In 2 Kings , where the writer is speaking of the reformation under Josiah, the word is translated "idolatrous priests;" in Hosea simply "priests," which is its meaning in the Syriac language. Some have maintained that the invasion of Judah to which Zephaniah refers was that of the Scythians described by Herodotus, 1.

From the fact that "the king's children" are included in the threatened visitation -- in the Hebrew, "I will visit upon the princes and the king's children" -- some have inferred that they must have been already grown and addicted to idolatrous practices; consequently that Zephaniah wrote later than the eighteenth year of Josiah. But, as Keil and others have remarked, the mention of the king's children may have been added simply to indicate the universality of the approaching visitation; not to say that the prophetic vision of Zephaniah may have anticipated the sin and punishment of these king's children -- Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim.

Haggai is the first of the three prophets after the captivity, who are commonly called Prophets of the Restoration. His four short messages to the people were all delivered in the space of three months, and they all had reference to the rebuilding of the temple. By the slanderous representations of the Jews' enemies this work had been interrupted, as we learn from the fourth chapter of Ezra.

Meanwhile the Jews, having yielded to the spirit of unbelief, had lost their zeal for God's cause and grown cold and indifferent. For this the prophets Haggai and Zechariah were sent to reprove them, while at the same time they encouraged them to resume the work, a mission which they successfully accomplished.

Ezra , 2.

The first message is dated "in the second year of Darius the king" -- Darius Hystaspes, who ascended the throne of Persia B. In this message the prophet sharply reproves the people for their indifference to the cause of God's house and their selfish devotion to their own private interests, which have brought upon them the divine rebuke. The effect of his words in exciting both rulers and people to renew the work upon the temple is added.

The second message "in the one and twentieth day" of the same month is throughout of an encouraging character. The elders who had seen the first house in its glory, were despondent in view of the comparative meanness of the new edifice.

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Jehovah promises them that "the Desire of all nations" shall come, that he will fill this house with glory, so that "the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former" This promise was fulfilled in a material way in the second temple as renewed by Herod the Great. But the real reference is to its spiritual glory. It was honored by the presence of the Son of God, who is the brightness of the Father's glory. In the third message, "in the four and twentieth day of the ninth month," the prophet in a sort of parable, rebukes the people for their heartless formality, which, like the touch of a dead body, defiles all their offerings and services, yet promises them God's blessing upon their repentance.

The last message, which was delivered on the same day, is wholly occupied with the future. Amid commotions and overturnings God will destroy the power of the heathen nations, and make Zerubbabel as a signet. The reference is to a seal-ring, and the promise is that God will preserve Zerubbabel from all the assaults of the wicked. Zerubbabel was one of the Messiah's ancestors Matt. Zechariah, the second and greatest prophet of the Restoration, calls himself the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo But in Ezra the name of the father is omitted, perhaps as being less known, and he is called simply the son of Iddo chaps.

There is no reason to doubt the identity of this Iddo with the priest of that name who went up from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Jeshua Neh. He began to prophesy two months after Haggai chap.


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The book of Zechariah may be naturally divided, according to its contents, into three parts. The first six chapters constitute the first of these parts. After a short introductory message there follows a very remarkable series of visions relating to the reestablishment of the Jews in their own land, and the future dispensations of God towards them; the whole being closed by a symbolic prophecy of Christ as both priest and king upon the throne of David.

To the second part belong the prophecies contained in the seventh and eighth chapters. The occasion of the first of these was a question proposed to the prophet concerning the observance of a certain fast. He first rebukes the people for their formality, and then proceeds to encourage them in the way of duty, adding glorious promises respecting the future prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem.

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The remaining six chapters, constituting the third part, appear to have been written at a later time. They all relate to the future destinies of the covenant people, and, through them, of the visible kingdom of God on earth. But the first three of these chapters are mainly occupied with the nearer future, yet with glimpses at the final consummation in the latter days. They are generally understood to predict the conquests of Alexander the Great , the conflict of the Jews with their enemies in the Maccabean age , the advent of Christ , the corrupt and rapacious character of the Jewish rulers at that era, their rejection of Christ, and the consequent rejection of the nation by God chap.

They also contain a prediction of the final reunion and restoration of "the house of Judah" and "the house of Joseph" ch. The remaining three chapters are occupied with the great and decisive conflict of the last days, which is to usher in the era of millennial glory. The prophecies of Zechariah, containing as they do a portraiture of the destiny of God's people to the end of time, and comprehending so many mighty events which yet await their fulfilment, present to the interpreter many difficulties, some of which have hitherto been found insoluble, and will probably remain unsolved till the mystery of God contained in them shall have been fulfilled.

One thing, however, they clearly reveal to us: that the future triumph of God's kingdom is certain, and that all the great movements in the history of the nations, however unpropitious they may seem at the time, are parts of the mighty plan of divine providence which shall end in making the kingdoms of this world the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. Some have suspected an early error in the manuscript of Matthew's gospel; but of this there is no satisfactory proof. Others have thought that the part of our present book of Zechariah which contains the prophecy in question actually belongs to Jeremiah; but upon this hypothesis it remains a mystery how it should have been attached to the writings of Zechariah.

Upon the ground of diversity of style and other alleged internal marks, it has been maintained by some biblical scholars that the whole of the last part of Zechariah belongs to an earlier age; but the validity of this conclusion is denied by others. The Book of Haggai , the 10th book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, is a brief work of only two chapters. Written about bce by the prophet Haggai, the book contains four oracles. The first oracle calls for Zerubbabel , the governor of Judaea, and Joshua, the high priest, to rebuild the Temple chapter 1, verses 1— A drought and poor harvests, according to Haggai, had been caused because the returnees from the Exile had neglected or failed to rebuild the Temple.

The second oracle, addressed to the political and religious leaders and the people, sought to encourage them in their rebuilding efforts chapter 2, verses 1—9.

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His promise, however, remained unfulfilled. The Book of Zechariah , the 11th book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, dates from the same period as that of Haggai—about bce. After an initial call to repentance chapter 1, verses 1—6 , Zechariah had a series of eight visions chapter 1, verse 7 to chapter 6, verse The first is of four horsemen who have patrolled the Earth to make sure that it is at rest. The second vision is of four horns i. The third vision is of a man with a measuring line, but Jerusalem will be beyond measurement.

The fifth vision is of a golden lampstand and an olive tree to emphasize the important positions of Joshua and Zerubbabel, which these two figures symbolize. The eighth vision of four chariots probably refers to the anticipated messianic reign of Zerubbabel, a hope that was thwarted. Chapters 7 and 8 concern fasting and the restoration of Jerusalem. The remaining chapters—9—14—are additions that contain messianic overtones.

Priests are condemned for failing to instruct the people on their Covenant responsibilities, idolatry is attacked, and men are castigated for deliberately forgetting their marriage vows when their wives become older.