Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown


The Pentateuch, the name by which the first five books of the Bible are designated, is derived from two Greek words, pente, “five,” and teuchos, a “volume,” thus signifying the fivefold volume. Originally these books formed one continuous work, as in the Hebrew manuscripts they are still connected in one unbroken roll. At what time they were divided into five portions, each having a separate title, is not known, but it is certain that the distinction dates at or before the time of the Septuagint translation. The names they bear in our English version are borrowed from the Septuagint, and they were applied by those Greek translators as descriptive of the principal subjects–the leading contents of the respective books. In the later Scriptures they are frequently comprehended under the general designation, The Law, The Book of the Law, since, to give a detailed account of the preparations for, and the delivery of, the divine code, with all the civil and sacred institutions that were peculiar to the ancient economy, is the object to which they are exclusively devoted. They have always been placed at the beginning of the Bible, not only on account of their priority in point of time, but as forming an appropriate and indispensable introduction to the rest of the sacred books. The numerous and oft-recurring references made in the later Scriptures to the events, the ritual, and the doctrines of the ancient Church would have not only lost much of their point and significance, but have been absolutely unintelligible without the information which these five books contain. They constitute the groundwork or basis on which the whole fabric of revelation rests, and a knowledge of the authority and importance that is thus attached to them will sufficiently account for the determined assaults that infidels have made on these books, as well as for the zeal and earnestness which the friends of the truth have displayed in their defense.

The Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch is established by the concurring voices both of Jewish and Christian tradition; and their unanimous testimony is supported by the internal character and statements of the work itself. That Moses did keep a written record of the important transactions relative to the Israelites is attested by his own express affirmation. For in relating the victory over the Amalekites, which he was commanded by divine authority to record, the language employed, “write this for a memorial in a book” [Hebrew, the book], (Ex 17:14), shows that that narrative was to form part of a register already in progress, and various circumstances combine to prove that this register was a continuous history of the special goodness and care of divine providence in the choice, protection, and guidance of the Hebrew nation. First, there are the repeated assertions of Moses himself that the events which checkered the experience of that people were written down as they occurred (see Ex 24:4-7; 34:27; Nu 33:2). Secondly, there are the testimonies borne in various parts of the later historical books to the Pentateuch as a work well known, and familiar to all the people (see Jos 1:8; 8:34; 23:6; 24:26; 1Ki 2:3, &c.) Thirdly, frequent references are made in the works of the prophets to the facts recorded in the books of Moses (compare Isa 1:9 with Ge 19:1; Isa 12:2 with Ex 15:2; Isa 51:2 with Ge 12:2; Isa 54:9 with Ge 8:21, 22; compare Ho 9:10 with Nu 25:3; Ho 11:8 with Ge 19:24; Ho 12:4 with Ge 32:24, 25; Ho 12:12 with Ge 28:5; 29:20; compare Joe 1:9 with Nu 15:4-7; 28:7-14; De 12:6, 7; 16:10, 11; compare Am 2:9 with Nu 21:21; Am 4:4 with Nu 28:3; Am 4:11 with Ge 19:24; Am 9:13 with Le 26:5; compare Mic 6:5 with Nu 22:25; Mic 6:6 with Le 9:2; Mic 6:15 with Le 26:16, &c.) Fourthly, the testimony of Christ and the Apostles is repeatedly borne to the books of Moses (Mt 19:7; Lu 16:29; 24:27; Joh 1:17; 7:19; Ac 3:22; 28:23; Ro 10:5). Indeed the references are so numerous, and the testimonies so distinctly borne to the existence of the Mosaic books throughout the whole history of the Jewish nation, and the unity of character, design, and style pervading these books is so clearly perceptible, notwithstanding the rationalistic assertions of their forming a series of separate and unconnected fragments, that it may with all safety be said, there is immensely stronger and more varied evidence in proof of their being the authorship of Moses than of any of the Greek or Roman classics being the productions of the authors whose names they bear. But admitting that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, an important question arises, as to whether the books which compose it have reached us in an authentic form; whether they exist genuine and entire as they came from the hands of their author. In answer to this question, it might be sufficient to state that, in the public and periodical rehearsals of the law in the solemn religious assemblies of the people, implying the existence of numerous copies, provision was made for preserving the integrity of “The Book of the Law.” But besides this, two remarkable facts, the one of which occurred before and the other after the captivity, afford conclusive evidence of the genuineness and authenticity of the Pentateuch. The first is the discovery in the reign of Josiah of the autograph copy which was deposited by Moses in the ark of the testimony, and the second is the schism of the Samaritans, who erected a temple on Mount Gerizim, and who, appealing to the Mosaic law as the standard of their faith and worship equally with the Jews, watched with jealous care over every circumstance that could affect the purity of the Mosaic record. There is the strongest reason, then, for believing that the Pentateuch, as it exists now, is substantially the same as it came from the hands of Moses. The appearance of a later hand, it is true, is traceable in the narrative of the death of Moses at the close of Deuteronomy, and some few interpolations, such as inserting the altered names of places, may have been made by Ezra, who revised and corrected the version of the ancient Scriptures. But, substantially, the Pentateuch is the genuine work of Moses, and many, who once impugned its claims to that character, and looked upon it as the production of a later age, have found themselves compelled, after a full and unprejudiced investigation of the subject, to proclaim their conviction that its authenticity is to be fully relied on.

The genuineness and authenticity of the Pentateuch being admitted, the inspiration and canonical authority of the work follow as a necessary consequence. The admission of Moses to the privilege of frequent and direct communion with God (Ex 25:22; 33:3; Nu 7:89; 9:8); his repeated and solemn declarations that he spoke and wrote by command of God; the submissive reverence that was paid to the authority of his precepts by all classes of the Jewish people, including the king himself (De 17:18; 27:3); and the acknowledgment of the divine mission of Moses by the writers of the New Testament, all prove the inspired character and authority of his books. The Pentateuch possessed the strongest claims on the attention of the Jewish people, as forming the standard of their faith, the rule of their obedience, the record of their whole civil and religious polity. But it is interesting and important to all mankind, inasmuch as besides revealing the origin and early development of the divine plan of grace, it is the source of all authentic knowledge, giving the true philosophy, history, geography, and chronology of the ancient world. Finally, the Pentateuch “is indispensable to the whole revelation contained in the Bible; for Genesis being the legitimate preface to the law; the law being the natural introduction to the Old Testament; and the whole a prelude to the gospel revelation, it could not have been omitted. What the four Gospels are in the New, the five books of Moses are in the Old Testament.”

Genesis, the book of the origin or production of all things, consists of two parts: the first, comprehended in the first through eleventh chapters, gives a general history; the second, contained in the subsequent chapters, gives a special history. The two parts are essentially connected; the one, which sets out with an account of the descent of the human race from a single pair, the introduction of sin into the world, and the announcement of the scheme of divine mercy for repairing the ruins of the fall, was necessary to pave the way for relating the other, namely, the call of Abraham, and the selection of his posterity for carrying out the gracious purpose of God. An evident unity of method, therefore, pervades this book, and the information contained in it was of the greatest importance to the Hebrew people, as without it they could not have understood the frequent references made in their law to the purposes and promises of God regarding themselves. The arguments that have been already adduced as establishing the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch prove of course that Moses was the author of Genesis. The few passages on which the rationalists grounded their assertions that it was the composition of a later age have been successfully shown to warrant no such conclusion; the use of Egyptian words and the minute acquaintance with Egyptian life and manners, displayed in the history of Joseph, harmonize with the education of Moses, and whether he received his information by immediate revelation, from tradition, or from written documents, it comes to us as the authentic work of an author who wrote as he was inspired by the Holy Ghost (2Pe 1:21).

Exodus, a “going forth,” derives its name from its being occupied principally with a relation of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and the incidents that immediately preceded as well as followed that memorable migration. Its authorship by Moses is distinctly asserted by himself (Ex 24:4), as well as by our Lord (Mr 12:26; Lu 20:37). Besides, the thorough knowledge it exhibits of the institutions and usages of the ancient Egyptians and the minute geographical details of the journey to Sinai, establish in the clearest manner the authenticity of this book.

Leviticus. So called from its treating of the laws relating to the ritual, the services, and sacrifices of the Jewish religion, the superintendence of which was entrusted to the Levitical priesthood. It is chiefly, however, the duties of the priests, “the sons of Aaron,” which this book describes; and its claim to be the work of Moses is established by the following passages:–2Ch 30:16; Ne 8:14; Jer 7:22-23; Eze 20:11 Mt 8:4; Lu 2:22; Joh 8:5; Ro 10:4; 13:9; 2Co 6:16; Ga 3:12; 1Pe 1:16.

Numbers. This book is so called because it contains an account of the enumeration and arrangement of the Israelites. The early part of it, from the first through the tenth chapters, appears to be a supplement to Leviticus, being occupied with relating the appointment of the Levites to the sacred offices. The journal of the march through the wilderness is then given as far as Nu 21:20; after which the early incidents of the invasion are narrated. One direct quotation only from this book (Nu 16:5) is made in the New Testament (2Ti 2:19); but indirect references to it by the later sacred writers are very numerous.

Deuteronomy, the second law, a title which plainly shows what is the object of this book, namely, a recapitulation of the law. It was given in the form of public addresses to the people; and as Moses spoke in the prospect of his speedy removal, he enforced obedience to it by many forcible appeals to the Israelites, concerning their long and varied experience both of the mercies and the judgments of God. The minute notices of the heathen people with whom they had come in contact, but who afterward disappeared from the pages of history, as well as the accounts of the fertility and products of Canaan, and the counsels respecting the conquest of that country, fix the date of this book and the time of its composition by the hand of Moses. The close, however, must have been added by another; and, indeed, it is supposed by some to have formed the original preface to the Book of Joshua.

Joshua. The title of this book is derived from the pious and valiant leader whose achievements it relates and who is commonly supposed to have been its author. The objections to this idea are founded chiefly on the clause, “unto this day,” which occurs several times (Jos 4:9; 6:25; 8:28). But this, at least in the case of Rahab, is no valid reason for rejecting the idea of his authorship; for assuming what is most probable, that this book was composed toward the close of Joshua’s long career, or compiled from written documents left by him, Rahab might have been still alive. A more simple and satisfactory way of accounting for the frequent insertion of the clause, “unto this day,” is the opinion that it was a comment introduced by Ezra, when revising the sacred canon; and this difficulty being removed, the direct proofs of the book having been produced by a witness of the transactions related in it, the strong and vivid descriptions of the passing scenes, and the use of the words “we” and “us,” (Jos 5:1-6), viewed in connection with the fact, that, after his farewell address to the people, Joshua “wrote these words in the book of the law of God” [Jos 24:26]–all afford strong presumptive proof that the entire book was the work of that eminent individual. Its inspiration and canonical authority are fully established by the repeated testimonies of other Scripture writers (compare Jos 6:26 with 1Ki 16:34; compare Jos 10:13 with Hab 3:11; Jos 3:14 with Ac 7:45; Jos 6:17-23 with Heb 11:30; Jos 2:1-24 with Jas 2:25; Ps 44:2; 68:12-14; 78:54-55). As a narrative of God’s faithfulness in giving the Israelites possession of the promised land, this history is most valuable, and bears the same character as a sequel to the Pentateuch, that the Acts of the Apostles do to the Gospels.

Judges is the title given to the next book, from its containing the history of those non-regal rulers who governed the Hebrews from the time of Joshua to that of Eli, and whose functions in time of peace consisted chiefly in the administration of justice, although they occasionally led the people in their wars against their public enemies. The date and authorship of this book are not precisely known. It is certain, however, that it preceded the Second Book of Samuel (compare Jud 9:35 with 2Sa 11:21), as well as the conquest of Jerusalem by David (compare Jud 1:21 with 2Sa 5:6). Its author was in all probability Samuel, the last of the judges (see Jud 19:1; 21:25), and the date of the first part of it is fixed in the reign of Saul, while the five chapters at the close might not have been written till after David’s establishment as king in Israel (see Jud 18:31). It is a fragmentary history, being a collection of important facts and signal deliverances at different times and in various parts of the land, during the intermediate period of three hundred years between Joshua and the establishment of the monarchy. The inspired character of this book is confirmed by allusions to it in many passages of Scripture (compare Jud 4:2; 6:14 with 1Sa 12:9-12; Jud 9:53 with 2Sa 11:21; Jud 7:25 with Ps 83:11; compare Jud 5:4, 5 with Ps 7:5; Jud 13:5; 16:17 with Mt 2:13-23; Ac 13:20; Heb 11:32).

Ruth is properly a supplement to the preceding book, to which, in fact, it was appended in the ancient Jewish canon. Although it relates an episode belonging to the time of the Judges, its precise date is unknown. It appears certain, however, that it could not have been written prior to the time of Samuel (see Ru 4:17-22), who is generally supposed to have been its author; and this opinion, in addition to other reasons on which it rests, is confirmed by Ru 4:7, where it is evident that the history was not compiled till long after the transactions recorded. The inspiration and canonical authority of the book is attested by the fact of Ruth’s name being inserted by Matthew in the Saviour’s genealogy [Mt 1:5].

The First and Second Books of Samuel. The two were, by the ancient Jews, conjoined so as to make one book, and in that form could be called the Book of Samuel with more propriety than now, the second being wholly occupied with the relation of transactions that did not take place till after the death of that eminent judge. Accordingly, in the Septuagint and the Vulgate, it is called the First and Second Books of Kings. The early portion of the First Book, down to the end of the twenty-fourth chapter, was probably written by Samuel; while the rest of it and the whole of the Second, are commonly ascribed to Nathan and Gad, founding the opinion on 1Ch 29:29. Commentators, however, are divided about this, some supposing that the statements in 1Sa 2:26; 3:1, indicate the hand of the judge himself, or a contemporary; while some think, from 1Sa 6:18; 12:5; 27:6, that its composition must be referred to a later age. It is probable, however, that these supposed marks of an after-period were interpolations of Ezra. This uncertainty, however, as to the authorship does not affect the inspired authority of the book, which is indisputable, being quoted in the New Testament (1Sa 13:14 in Ac 13:22, and 2Sa 7:14 in Heb 1:5), as well as in many of the Psalms.

The First and Second Books of Kings, in the ancient copies of the Hebrew Bible, constitute one book. Various titles have been given them; in the Septuagint and the Vulgate they are called the Third and Fourth Books of Kings. The authorship of these books is unknown; but the prevailing opinion is that they were compiled by Ezra, or one of the later prophets, from the ancient documents that are so frequently referred to in the course of the history as of public and established authority. Their inspired character was acknowledged by the Jewish Church, which ranked them in the sacred canon; and, besides, it is attested by our Lord, who frequently quotes from them (compare 1Ki 17:9; 2Ki 5:14 with Lu 4:24-27; 1Ki 10:1 with Mt 12:42).

The First and Second Books of Chronicles were also considered as one by the ancient Jews, who called them “words of days,” that is, diaries or journals, being probably compiled from those registers that were kept by the king’s historiographers of passing occurrences. In the Septuagint the title given them is Paraleipomenon, “of things omitted,” that is, the books are supplementary because many things unnoticed in the former books are here recorded; and not only the omissions are supplied, but some narratives extended while others are added. The authorship is commonly ascribed to Ezra, whose leading object seems to have been to show the division of families, possessions, &c., before the captivity, with a view to the exact restoration of the same order after the return from Babylon. Although many things are restated and others are exact repetitions of what is contained in Kings, there is so much new and important information that, as Jerome has well said, the Chronicles furnish the means of comprehending parts of the New Testament, which must have been unintelligible without them. They are frequently referred to by Christ and the Apostles as forming part of “the Word of God” (see the genealogies in Mt 1:1-16; Lu 3:23-38; compare 2Ch 19:7 with 1Pe 1:17; 2Ch 24:19-21 with Mt 23:32-35).

Ezra was, along with Nehemiah, reckoned one book by the ancient Jews, who called them the First and Second Books of Ezra, and they are still designated by Roman Catholic writers the First and Second Books of Esdras. This book naturally divides itself into two parts or sections, the one contained in the first six chapters, and which relates the circumstances connected with the return of the first detachment of Babylonish exiles under Zerubbabel with the consequent rebuilding of the temple and the re-establishment of the divine service. The other part, embraced in the four concluding chapters, narrates the journey of a second caravan of returning captives under the conduct of Ezra himself, who was invested with powers to restore, in all its splendor, the entire system of the Jewish ritual. The general opinion of the Church in every succeeding age has been that Ezra was the author of this book. The chief objection is founded on Ezr 5:4, where the words, “Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building?” have occasioned a surmise that the first portion of the book was not written by Ezra, who did not go to Jerusalem for many years after. But a little attention will show the futility of this objection, as the words in question did not refer to the writer, but were used by Tatnai and his associates [Ezr 5:3]. The style and unity of object in the book clearly prove it to have been the production of but one author. The canonical authority of this book is well established; but another under the name of Ezra is rejected as apocryphal.

Nehemiah appears to have been the author of this book, from his usually writing in his own name, and indeed, except in those parts which are unmistakably later editions or borrowed from public documents, he usually employs the first person. The major portion of the book is occupied with a history of Nehemiah’s twelve years’ administration in Jerusalem, after which he returned to his duties in Shushan. At a later period he returned with new powers and commenced new and vigorous measures of reform, which are detailed in the later chapters of the book.

Esther derives its name from the Jewess, who, having become wife of the king of Persia, employed her royal influence to effect a memorable deliverance for the persecuted Church of God. Various opinions are embraced and supported as to the authorship of this book, some ascribing it to Ezra, to Nehemiah, or to Mordecai. The preponderance of authorities is in favor of the last. The historical character of the book is undoubted, since, besides many internal evidences, its authenticity is proved by the strong testimony of the feast of Purim, the celebration of which can be traced up to the events which are described in this book. Its claim, however, to canonical authority has been questioned on the ground that the name of God does not once occur in it. But the uniform tradition both of the Jewish and the Christian Churches supports this claim, which nothing in the book tends to shake; while it is a record of the superintending care of divine providence over his chosen people, with which it is of the utmost importance the Church should be furnished. The name of God is strangely enough omitted, but the presence of God is felt throughout the history; and the whole tone and tendency of the book is so decidedly subservient to the honor of God and the cause of true religion that it has been generally received by the Church in all ages into the sacred canon.



Hebrew poetry is unique in its kind; in essence, the most sublime; in form, marked by a simplicity and ease which flow from its sublimity. “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me [the Hebrew poet], and his word was in my tongue” (2Sa 23:2). Even the music was put under the charge of spiritually gifted men; and one of the chief musicians, Heman, is called “the king’s seer in the words of God” (1Ch 25:1, 5). King David is stated to have invented instruments of music (Am 6:5). There is not in Hebrew poetry the artistic rhythm of form which appears in the classical poetry of Greece and Rome, but it amply makes up for this by its fresh and graceful naturalness.

Early specimens of Hebrew poetry occur; for example, Lamech’s skeptical parody of Enoch’s prophecy, or, as others think, lamentation for a homicide committed in those lawless times in self-defense (Ge 4:23; compare Jude 14; Ex 32:18; Nu 21:14, 15, 17, 18, 27 Nu 23:7, 8, 18; 24:3, 15). The poetical element appears much more in the Old than in the New Testament. The poetical books are exclusively those of the Old Testament; and in the Old Testament itself, the portions that are the most fundamental (for example, the Pentateuch of Moses, the lawgiver, in its main body), are those which have in them least of the poetical element in form. Elijah, the father of the prophets, is quite free of poetical art. The succeeding prophets were not strictly poets, except in so far as the ecstatic state in inspiration lifted them to poetic modes of thought and expression. The prophet was more of an inspired teacher than a poet. It is when the sacred writer acts as the representative of the personal experiences of the children of God and of the Church, that poetry finds its proper sphere.

The use of poetry in Scripture was particularly to supply the want not provided for by the law, namely, of devotional forms to express in private, and in public joint worship, the feelings of pious Israelites. The schools of the prophets fostered and diffused a religious spirit among the people; and we find them using lyric instruments to accompany their prophesyings (1Sa 10:5). However, it was David, who specially matured the lyric effusions of devotion into a perfection which they had not before attained.

Another purpose which Psalmody, through David’s inspired productions, served, was to draw forth from under the typical forms of legal services their hidden essence and spirit, adapting them to the various spiritual exigencies of individual and congregational life. Nature, too, is in them shown to speak the glory and goodness of the invisible, yet ever present God. A handbook of devotion was furnished to the Israelite whereby he could enter into the true spirit of the services of the sanctuary, and so feel the need of that coming Messiah, of whom especially the Book of Psalms testifies throughout. We also, in our Christian dispensation, need its help in our devotions. Obliged as we are, notwithstanding our higher privileges in most respects, to walk by faith rather than by sight in a greater degree than they, we find the Psalms, with their realizing expression of the felt nearness of God, the best repertory whence to draw divinely sanctioned language, wherewith to express our prayers and thanksgivings to God, and our breathings after holy communion with our fellow saints.

As to the objection raised against the spirit of revenge which breathes in some psalms, the answer is: a wide distinction is to be drawn between personal vindictiveness and the desire for God’s honor being vindicated. Personal revenge, not only in the other parts of Scripture, but also in the Psalms, in theory and in practice, is alike reprobated (Ex 23:4, 5; Le 19:18; Job 31:29, 30; Ps 7:4, 5, 8, 11, 12; Pr 25:21, 22), which corresponds to David’s practice in the case of his unrelenting enemy (1Sa 24:5-6; 26:8-10). On the other hand, the people of God have always desired that whatever mars the cause of God, as for instance the prosperity of the enemies of God and His Church, should be brought to an end (Ps 10:12; 35:27; 40:16; 79:6, 10). It is well for us, too, in our dispensation of love, to be reminded by these psalms of the danger of lax views as to God’s hatred of sin; and of the need there is that we should altogether enter into the mind of God on such points at the same time that we seek to convert all men to God (compare 1Sa 16:1; Ps 139:21; Isa 66:24; Re 14:10).

Some psalms are composed of twenty-two parallel sentences or strophes of verses, beginning with words of which the initial letters correspond with the Hebrew letters (twenty-two) in their order (compare Ps 37:1-40 and Ps 119:1-176). So also Lamentations. This arrangement was designed as a help to the memory and is found only in such compositions as do not handle a distinct and progressive subject, but a series of pious reflections, in the case of which the precise order was of less moment. The Psalmist in adopting it does not slavishly follow it; but, as in Psalm 25, he deviates from it, so as to make the form, when needful, bend to the sense. Of these poems there are twelve in all in the Hebrew Bible (Ps 25:1-22; 34:1-22; 37:1-40; 111:1-10; 112:1-10; 119:1-176; 145:1-21 Pr 31:10-31; La 1:1-4:22).

The great excellence of the Hebrew principle of versification, namely, parallelism, or “thought rhythm” [Ewald], is that, while the poetry of every other language, whose versification depends on the regular recurrences of certain sounds, suffers considerably by translation, Hebrew poetry, whose rhythm depends on the parallel correspondence of similar thoughts, loses almost nothing in being translated–the Holy Spirit having thus presciently provided for its ultimate translation into every language, without loss to the sense. Thus in our English Version, Job and Psalms, though but translations, are eminently poetical. On parallelism, see my Introduction to Job. Thus also a clue is given to the meaning in many passages, the sense of the word in one clause being more fully set forth by the corresponding word in the succeeding parallel clause. In the Masoretic punctuation of the Hebrew, the metrical arrangement is marked by the distinctive accents. It accords with the divine inspiration of Scripture poetry, that the thought is more prominent than the form, the kernel than the shell. The Hebrew poetic rhythm resembled our blank verse, without, however, metrical feet. There is a verbal rhythm above that of prose; but as the true Hebrew pronunciation is lost, the rhythm is but imperfectly recognized.

The peculiarity of the Hebrew poetical age is that it was always historic and true, not mythical, as the early poetical ages of all other nations. Again, its poetry is distinguished from prose by the use of terms decidedly poetic. David’s lament over Jonathan furnishes a beautiful specimen of another feature found in Hebrew poetry, the strophe: three strophes being marked by the recurrence three times of the dirge sung by the chorus; the first dirge sung by the whole body of singers, representing Israel; the second, by a chorus of damsels; the third, by a chorus of youths (2Sa 1:17-27).

The lyrical poetry, which is the predominant style in the Bible and is especially terse and sententious, seems to have come from an earlier kind resembling the more modern Book of Proverbs (compare Ge 4:23, 24). The Oriental mind tends to embody thought in pithy gnomes, maxims, and proverbs. “The poetry of the Easterns is a string of pearls. Every word has life. Every proposition is condensed wisdom. Every thought is striking and epigrammatical” (Kitto, Biblical Cyclopædia). We are led to the same inference from the term Maschal, a “proverb” or “similitude,” being used to designate poetry in general. “Hebrew poetry, in its origin, was a painting to the eye, a parable or teaching by likenesses discovered by the popular mind, expressed by the popular tongue, and adopted and polished by the national poet.” Solomon, under inspiration, may have embodied in his Proverbs such of the pre-existing popular wise sayings as were sanctioned by the Spirit of God.

The Hebrew title for the Psalms, Tehilim, means “hymns,” that is, joyous praises (sometimes accompanied with dancing, Ex 15:1-20; Jud 5:1-31), not exactly answering to the Septuagint title, Psalms, that is, “lyrical odes,” or songs accompanied by an instrument. The title, Tehilim, “hymns,” was probably adopted on account of the use made of the Psalms in divine service, though only a part can be strictly called songs of praise, others being dirges, and very many prayers (whence in Ps 72:20, David styles all his previous compositions, the prayers of David). Sixty-five bear the title, “lyrical odes” (Mizmorim), while only one is styled Tehilah or “Hymn.” From the title being Psalms in the Septuagint and New Testament, and also in the Peshito, it is probable that Psalms (Mizmorim) or “lyrical odes,” was the old title before Tehilim.

Epic poetry, as having its proper sphere in a mythical heroic age, has no place among the Hebrews of the Old Testament Scripture age. For in their earliest ages, namely, the patriarchal, not fable as in Greece, Rome, Egypt, and all heathen nations, but truth and historic reality reigned; so much so, that the poetic element, which is the offspring of the imagination, is found less in those earlier, than in the later, ages. The Pentateuch is almost throughout historic prose. In the subsequent uninspired age, in Tobit we have some approach to the Epos.

Drama, also, in the full modern sense, is not found in Hebrew literature. This was due, not to any want of intellectual culture, as is fully shown by the high excellence of their lyric and didactic poetry, but to their earnest character, and to the solemnity of the subjects of their literature. The dramatic element appears in Job, more than in any other book in the Bible; there are the dramatis personæ, a plot, and the “denouement” prepared for by Elihu, the fourth friend’s speech, and brought about by the interposition of Jehovah Himself. Still it is not a strict drama, but rather an inspired debate on a difficult problem of the divine government exemplified in Job’s case, with historic narrative, prologue, and epilogue. The Song of Solomon, too, has much of the dramatic cast. See my Introductions to Job and Song of Solomon. The style of many psalms is very dramatic, transitions often occurring from one to another person, without introduction, and especially from speaking indirectly of God to addresses to God; thus in Ps 32:1, 2, David makes a general introduction, “Blessed is the man whose iniquity is forgiven,” &c.; then in Ps 32:3-7, he passes to addressing God directly; then in Ps 32:8, without preface God is introduced, directly speaking, in answer to the previous prayer; then in Ps 32:10, 11, again he resumes indirect speaking of God, and addresses himself in conclusion to the righteous. These quick changes of person do not startle us, but give us a stronger sense of his habitual converse with God than any assertions could do. Compare also in Ps 132:8-10, the prayer, “Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy. For thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed,” with God’s direct answer, which follows in almost the words of the prayer, “The Lord hath sworn unto David,” &c. [Ps 132:11-18]. “This is my rest for ever [Ps 132:14]. I will clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.” Thus also in the second Psalm, various personages are introduced, dramatically acting and speaking–the confederate nations [Ps 2:1-3], Jehovah [Ps 2:4-6], the Messiah [Ps 2:7-9], and the Psalmist [Ps 2:10-12].

A frequent feature is the alternate succession of parts, adapting the several psalms to alternate recitation by two semi-choruses in the temple-worship, followed by a full chorus between the parts or at the end. (So Ps 107:15, 21, 31). De Burgh, in his valuable commentary on the Psalms, remarks, “Our cathedral service exemplifies the form of chanting the Psalms, except that the semi-chorus is alternately a whole verse, instead of alternating, as of old, the half verse; while the full chorus is the ‘gloria’ at the end of each Psalm.”

In conclusion, besides its unique point of excellence, its divine inspiration, Hebrew poetry is characterized as being essentially national, yet eminently catholic, speaking to the heart and spiritual sensibilities of universal humanity. Simple and unconstrained, it is distinguished by a natural freshness which is the result of its genuine truthfulness. The Hebrew poet sought not self or his own fame, as did heathen poets, but he was inspired by the Spirit of God to meet a pressing want which his own and his nation’s spiritual aspirations after God made to be at once a necessity and a delight. Compare 2Sa 23:1, 2, “The sweet Psalmist of Israel said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me,” &c.

Ewald rightly remarks that several odes of the highest poetic excellence are not included (for example, the songs of Moses, Ex 15:1-19 and De 32:1-43; of Deborah, Jud 5:1-31; of Hannah, 1Sa 2:1-10; of Hezekiah, Isa 38:9-20; of Habakkuk, Hab 3:1-19; and even David’s dirge over Saul and Jonathan, 2Sa 1:17-18). The selection of the Psalms collected in one book was made not so much with reference to the beauty of the pieces, as to their adaptation for public worship. Still one overruling Spirit ordered the selection and arrangement of the contents of the book, as one pervading tone and subject appear throughout, Christ in His own inner life as the God-man, and in His past, present, and future relations to the Church and the world. Isaac Taylor well calls the Psalms, “The Liturgy of the spiritual life”; and Luther, “A Bible in miniature.”

The principle of the order in which the Psalms are given to us, though not always discoverable, is in some cases clear, and shows the arrangement to be unmistakably the work of the Spirit, not merely that of the collector. Thus Psalm 22 plainly portrays the dying agonies of Messiah; Psalm 23, His peaceful rest in Paradise after His death on the cross; and Psalm 24, His glorious ascension into heaven.



This constitutes the second division, the others being the Law and Hagiographa. It included Joshua, Judges, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, called the former prophets; and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, &c., to Malachi, the latter prophets. Daniel is excluded, because, though highly endowed with prophetic gifts, he had not filled the prophetic office: his book is therefore classed with the Hagiographa. Ezra probably commenced, and others subsequently completed, the arrangement of the canon. The prophets were not mere predictors. Their Hebrew name, nabi, comes from a root “to boil up as a fountain” (Gesenius); hence the fervor of inspiration (2Pe 1:21). Others interpret it as from an Arabic root (Ex 4:16, “spokesman” of God, the Holy Ghost supplying him with words); communicated by dreams (Joe 2:28; Job 33:14-17–no instance of this occurs in Isaiah); or visions, the scene being made to pass before their mind (Isa 1:1); or trance, ecstasy (Nu 24:4, 16; Eze 1:3; 3:14); not depriving them, however, of free conscious agency (Jer 20:7, 9; 1Co 14:32).

These Peculiar Forms of inspiration distinguish prophets, strictly so called, from Moses and others, though inspired (Nu 12:6-8). Hence their name seers. Hence, too, the poetical cast of their style, though less restricted, owing to their practical tendency, by the outward forms observed in strictly poetical books. Hence, too, the union of music with prophesying (1Sa 10:5). This ecstatic state, though exalted, is not the highest: for Jesus Christ was never in it, nor Moses. It was rendered necessary by the frailty of the prophets, and the spiritual obtuseness of the people. It accordingly predominates in the Old Testament, but is subordinate in the New Testament, where the Holy Ghost by the fulness of His ordinary gifts renders the extraordinary less necessary. After the time of the Mosaic economy, the idea of a prophet was regularly connected with the prophetic office–not conferred by men, but by God. In this they differ from mystics whose pretended inspiration is for themselves: prophetism is practical, not dreamy and secluded; the prophet’s inspiration is theirs only as God’s messengers to the people. His ordinary servants and regular teachers of the people were the priests; the prophets distinguished from them by inspiration, were designed to rouse and excite. In Israel, however, as distinguished from Judah (as there was no true priesthood) the prophets were the regular and only ministers of God. Prophecy in Israel needed to be supported more powerfully: therefore the “schools” were more established; and more striking prophetic deeds (for example, Elijah’s and Elisha’s) are recorded, than in Judah. The law was their basis (Isa 8:16, 20), both its form and spirit (De 4:2; 13:1-3); at times they looked forward to a day when its ever-living spirit would break its then imperfect form for a freer and more perfect development (Jer 3:16; 31:31); but they altered not a tittle in their own days. Eichorn well calls Moses’ song (De 32:1-47) the Magna Charta of prophecy. The fulfilment of their predictions was to be the sign of their being real prophets of God (De 18:22); also, their speaking in the name of no other but the true God (De 18:20). Prophecy was the only sanctioned indulgence of the craving after knowledge of future events, which is so prevalent in the East (De 18:10, 11). For a momentary inspiration the mere beginning of spiritual life sufficed, as in Balaam’s case; but for a continuous mission, the prophet must be converted (Isa 6:7). In Samuel’s days (1Sa 10:8; 19:20) begin the prophetic “schools.” These were associations of men, more or less endowed with the Spirit, in which the feebler were helped by those of greater spiritual powers: so at Beth-el and Gilgal (2Ki 2:3; 4:38; 6:21). Only the leaders stood in immediate communion with God, while the rest were joined to Him through their mediation (1Ki 19:15; 2Ki 8:13); the former acted through the latter as their instruments (1Ki 19:16; 2Ki 9:1, 2). The bestowal of prophetic gifts was not, however, limited to these schools (Am 7:14, 15).

As to Symbolic Actions, many of them are not actual but only parts of the prophetic visions, internal not external facts, being impossible or indecent (Jer 13:1-10; 25:12-38; Ho 1:2-11). Still the internal actions, when possible and proper, were often expressed externally (1Ki 22:11). Those purely internal express the subject more strikingly than a naked statement could.

Other Criteria of a true prophet, besides the two above, were, the accordance of his addresses with the law; his not promising prosperity without repentance; his own assurance of his divine mission (sometimes received reluctantly, Jer 20:8, 9; 26:12), producing that inward assurance of the truth in others, which is to them a stronger proof from the Spirit of God, than even outward miracles and arguments: his pious life, fortitude in suffering, and freedom from fanaticism, confirm these criteria. Miracles, though proofs, are not to be trusted without the negative criteria (De 13:2). Predictions fulfilled in the prophet’s lifetime established his authority thenceforth (1Sa 3:19; Jer 22:11-12; Eze 12:12,13; 24:1-27).

As to their Promulgation, it was usually oral, before the assembled people, and afterwards revised in writing. The second part of Isaiah and Ezekiel 40-48 were probably not given orally, but in writing. Before Isaiah’s and his contemporaries’ time, prophecies were not written, as not being intended for universal use. But now a larger field was opened. To the worldly power of heathen nations which threatened to destroy the theocracy is henceforth opposed the kingdom of God, about to conquer all through Messiah, whose coming concerns all ages. The lesser prophets give the quintessence of the prophecies of their respective authors. An instance of the mode of collecting and publishing prophecies occurs (Jer 36:4-14). Those of the later prophets rest on those of the earlier (Zec 1:4; 7:7, 12). Ewald fancies that a great number of prophetic rolls have been lost. But the fact of the prophets often alluding to writings which we have, and never to those which it can be proved we have not, makes it likely that we have all those predictions which were committed to writing; the care bestowed on them as divine, and the exact knowledge of them long after (Jer 26:18, 19), confirm this view.

The Arrangement is chronological; but as the twelve lesser prophets are regarded as one work, and the three last of them lived later than Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the former are put after the latter. The lesser prophets are arranged chronologically, except Hosea, who being the largest, is placed first, though some were earlier than he; also Jonah, who seems to have been the earliest of the latter prophets.

As to The Messiah, no single prophet gives a complete view of Him: this is made up of the various aspects of Him in different prophecies combined; just as His life in the Gospels is one under a fourfold aspect. In the first part of Isaiah, addressed to the whole people, the prominent idea is His triumph, as King, the design being there to remove their fears of the surrounding nations; in the second, addressed to the elect remnant, He is exhibited as Prophet and Priest, Himself being the sacrifice.



The prophetic gift existed long before the prophetic office was instituted. Thus Enoch had the former (Jude 14); so Abraham is called a prophet (Ge 20:7) as are also the patriarchs (Ps 105:15). The office was first instituted under the Mosaic economy; but even then the gift was not always connected with the office; for example, Daniel was endowed largely with the gift, but was never called to the office, as living in a heathen court where he could not have exercised it. So David (Mt 13:35; 27:35). Hence the writings of both are classed with the Hagiographa, not with the prophets. Moreover, though the office ceased with the close of the Old Testament dispensation, the gift continued, and was among the leading charisms of the New Testament Church. “Prophet” (in Hebrew, from a root, “to gush out like a fountain”) meant one acting as spokesman for another (Ex 7:1); so, one speaking authoritatively for God as interpreter of His will. “Seer” was the more ancient term (1Sa 9:9), implying that he spake by a divine communication presented either to his senses or his mind: as “prophet” indicated his authority as speaking for God.

Christ was the only fountain of prophecy (1Pe 1:11; Re 19:10; also Ac 16:7, the oldest reading, “the Spirit of Jesus”), and declared God’s will to men by His Holy Spirit acting on the minds of the prophets. Thus the history of the Church is the history of God’s revelations of Himself in His Son to man. The three divisions of this history, the Patriarchal, the Mosaic, and the Christian dispensations, are characterized each by a distinct mode of God’s manifestations–that is, by a distinct form of the prophetic gift. (1) The theophanic mode characterizes the Patriarchal dispensation: God revealing Himself in visible appearances, or theophanies. (2) The theopneustic mode, the Mosaic: God revealing Himself through God-inspired men. (3) The theologic mode, the Christian: God revealing Himself, not merely at intervals as before, but permanently by inspired writings (“the oracles of God,” 1Pe 4:11).

In the first or patriarchal age, men work no miracles, unlike all other primeval histories, which abound in miracles wrought by men: a proof of genuineness. All the miracles are wrought by God without man’s intervention; and the divine communications are usually by direct utterance, whence the prophetic gift is rare, as God in this dispensation only exceptionally employs the prophetic agency of men in it: only in Ge 20:7, is the term “prophet” found. In the second or Mosaic dispensation, God withdraws Himself more from direct communication with man and manifests Himself through human instruments. Instead of working miracles directly, Moses, Joshua, &c., are His agents. So in His communications He speaks not directly, but through Moses and his successors. The theocracy needed a new form of prophetic gift: God-inspired (theopneustic) men must speak and act for God, the Head of the theocracy, as His administrators; the prophetic gift is therefore now connected with the prophetic office. These prophets accordingly are acting, not writing, prophets. The latter did not arise till the later ages of this second dispensation. Moses acted as a legislator; Joshua, the Judges, and Samuel as executive prophets; David and Solomon as devotional prophets. Even in the case of the writing prophets of the latter half of the Mosaic dispensation, their primary duty was to speak and act. Their writing had reference more to the use of the New Testament dispensation than to their own (1Pe 1:12). So that even in their case the characteristic of the Mosaic dispensation was theopneustic, rather than theologic. The third, or Christian dispensation, is theologic, that is, a revelation of God by inspired writings. Compare 1Pe 4:11; 2Pe 1:16-21, where he contrasts “the old time” when “holy men spake by the Holy Ghost” with our time when we have the “sure word of prophecy”; or, as it may be translated, “the word of prophecy confirmed [to us].” Thus God now reveals His will, not by direct theophanies, as in the first dispensation; not by inspired men, as in the second; but by the written word which liveth and abideth for ever (as opposed to the desultory manifestations of God, and the noncontinuance in life of the prophets, under the two former dispensations respectively, 1Pe 1:23; 2Pe 3:2, 16). The next form shall be the return of the theophanic manifestations on earth, in a more perfect and abiding form than in the first age (Re 21:3).

The history of the prophetic office under the Mosaic dispensation falls into three divisions. (1) The first ends with the age of Samuel and has no regular succession of prophets, these not being needed while God Himself ruled the people without an hereditary executive. (2) The second period extends from Samuel to Uzziah, 800 B.C., and is the age of prophets of action. Samuel combined in himself the three elements of the theocracy, being a judge, a priest, and a prophet. The creation of a human king rendered the formal office of prophet more necessary as a counterpoise to it. Hence the age of the kings is the age of the prophets. But at this stage they were prophets of action, rather than of writing. Towards the close of this second period, the devotional and Messianic prophecies of David and Solomon prepared the way for the third period (from 800 B.C. to 400 B.C.), which began under Uzziah, and which was the age of written prophecy. (3) In this third period the prophets turn from the present to the future, and so the Messianic element grows more distinct. Thus in these three shorter periods the grand characteristics of the three great dispensations reappear. The first is theophanic; the second, theopneustic; and the third, theologic. Just as the great organic laws of the world reappear in smaller departments, the law of the tree developing itself in miniature forms in the structure of the leaf, and the curve of the planet’s orbit reappearing in the line traced by the projected cannon ball [Moore].

Samuel probably enacted rules giving a permanent form to the prophetic order; at least in his time the first mention occurs of “schools of the prophets.” These were all near each other, and in Benjamin, namely, in Beth-el, Gilgal, Ramah, and Jericho. Had the prophet been a mere foreteller of events, such schools would have been useless. But he was also God’s representative to ensure the due execution of the Mosaic ritual in its purity; hence arose the need of schools wherein to study that divinely ordained institution. God mostly chose His prophets from those thus educated, though not exclusively, as the cases of Amos (Am 7:14) and Elisha (1Ki 19:19) prove. The fact that the humblest might be called to the prophetic office acted as a check to the hereditary kingly power and a stimulus to seeking the qualifications needed for so exalted an office. The Messianic Psalms towards the close of this second period form the transition between the prophets of action and the prophets of word, the men who were busy only with the present, and the men who looked out from the present into the glorious future.

The third period, that from Uzziah to Malachi, includes three classes of prophets: (1) Those of the ten tribes; (2) Those of the Gentiles; (3) Those of Judah. In the first class were Hosea and Amos. Few of the writing prophets belonged to Israel. They naturally gathered about the seat of the theocracy in Judah. Hence those of the ten tribes were mostly prophets of action. Under the second class fall Jonah, Nahum, and Obadiah, who were witnesses for God’s authority over the Gentile world, as others witnessed for the same in the theocracy. The third class, those of Judah, have a wider scope and a more hopeful, joyous tone. They fall into five divisions: (1) Those dwelling in Judah at the highest point of its greatness during its separate state; namely, the century between Uzziah and Hezekiah, 800-700 B.C., Isaiah, Joel, and Micah. (2) The declining period of Judah, from Manasseh to Zedekiah, for example, Zephaniah and Habakkuk. (3) The captivity: Jeremiah. (4) The exile, when the future was all that the eye could rest on with hope; for example, Ezekiel and Daniel, who are chiefly prophets of the future. (5) The restoration: to which period belong the three last writing prophets of the Old Testament, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. John the Baptist long subsequently belonged to the same dispensation, but he wrote nothing (Mt 11:9-11); like Elijah, he was a prophet of action and preaching, preparing the way for the prophets of word, as John did for the Incarnate Word.

To understand the spirit of each prophet’s teaching, his historical position and the circumstances of the time must be considered. The captivity was designed to eradicate the Jews’ tendency to idolatry and to restore the theocratic spirit which recognized God as the only ruler, and the Mosaic institutions as His established law, for a time until Messiah should come. Hence the prophets of the restoration are best illustrated by comparison with the histories of Ezra and Nehemiah, contemporaries of Malachi.

Of the three prophets of the restoration, two, Haggai and Zechariah, are at the beginning of the period, and the remaining one, Malachi, is at the close. The exile was not one complete deportation of the people, but a series of deportations extending over a century and a half. So the restoration was not accomplished at once, but in successive returns extending over a century. Hence arises the different tone of Haggai and Zechariah at its beginning, and of Malachi at its close. The first return took place in the first year of Cyrus, 536 B.C.; 42,360 persons returned under Shesh-bazzar or Zerubbabel and Joshua (Ezr 2:64). They built an altar and laid the foundations of the temple. They were interrupted by the misrepresentations of the Samaritans, and the work was suspended for fourteen years. The death of Smerdis gave an opportunity of renewing the work, seventy years after the destruction of the first temple. This was the time when Haggai and Zechariah arose, the former to incite to the immediate rebuilding of the temple and restoration of the Mosaic ritual, the latter to aid in the work and to unfold the grand future of the theocracy as an incentive to present labor. The impossibility of observing the Mosaic ritual in the exile generated an anti-theocratic indifference to it in the young who were strangers to the Jerusalem worship, from which the nation had been debarred for upwards of half a century. Moreover, the gorgeous pomp of Babylon tended to make them undervalue the humble rites of Jehovah’s worship at that time. Hence there was need of a Haggai and a Zechariah to correct these feelings by unfolding the true glory of the theocratic institutions.

The next great epoch was the return of Ezra, 458 B.C., eighty years after the first expedition under Zerubbabel. Thirteen years later, 445 B.C., Nehemiah came to aid Ezra in the good work. It was now that Malachi arose to second these works, three-fourths of a century after Haggai and Zechariah. As their work was that of restorers, his was that of a reformer. The estates of many had become mortgaged, and depression of circumstances had led many into a skeptical spirit as to the service of God. They not only neglected the temple of worship, but took heathen wives, to the wrong of their Jewish wives and the dishonor of God. Therefore, besides the reformation of civil abuses and the rebuilding of the wall, effected through Nehemiah’s exertions, a religious reformer was needed such as was Ezra, who reformed the ecclesiastical abuses, established synagogues, where regular instruction in the law could be received, restored the Sabbath, and the Passover, and the dignity of the priesthood, and generated a reverence for the written law, which afterwards became a superstition. Malachi aided in this good work by giving it his prophetical authority. How thoroughly the work was effected is proved by the utter change in the national character. Once always prone to idolatry, ever since the captivity they have abhorred it. Once loving kingly rule, now contrary to the ordinary course of history, they became submissive to priestly rule. Once negligent of the written Word, now they regarded it with reverence sometimes bordering on superstition. Once fond of foreign alliances, henceforth they shrank with abhorrence from all foreigners. Once fond of agriculture, now they became a trading people. From being pliable before, they now became intensely bigoted and nationally intolerant. Thus the restoration from Babylon moulded the national character more than any event since the exodus from Egypt.

Now the distinction between Judah and the ten tribes of Israel disappears. So in the New Testament the twelve tribes are mentioned (Ac 26:7; Jas 1:1). The theocratic feeling generated at the restoration drew all of the elect nation round the seat of the theocracy, the metropolis of the true religion, Jerusalem. Malachi tended to promote this feeling; thus his prophecy, though addressed to the people of Jerusalem, is called “the word of the Lord to Israel” [Mal 1:1].

The long silence of prophets from Malachi to the times of Messiah was calculated to awaken in the Jewish mind the more earnest desire for Him who was to exceed infinitely in word and deed all the prophets, His forerunners. The three prophets of the restoration being the last of the Old Testament, are especially distinct in pointing to Him who, as the great subject of the New Testament, was to fulfil all the Old Testament.



Parables. Where Spoken. Where Recorded. The two debtors [Capernaum] Lu 7:40-43. The strong man armed Galilee Mt 12:29; Mr 3:27; Lu 11:21, 22. The unclean spirit Galilee Mt 12:43-45; Lu 11:24-26. The sower Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:3-9, 18-23; Mr 4:3-9, 14-20; Lu 8:5-8, 11-15. The tares and wheat Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:24-30, 36-43. The mustard seed Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:31, 32; Mr 4:30-32; Lu 13:18, 19. The seed growing secretly Seashore of Galilee Mr 4:26-29. The leaven Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:33; Lu 13:20, 21. The hid treasure Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:44. The pearl of great price Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:45, 46. The draw net Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:47-50. The unmerciful servant Capernaum Mt 18:21-35. The good Samaritan Near Jerusalem Lu 10:29-37. The friend at midnight Near Jerusalem Lu 11:5-8. The rich fool Galilee Lu 12:16-21. The barren fig tree Galilee Lu 13:6-9. The great supper Perea Lu 14:15-24. The lost sheep Perea Mt 18:12-14; Lu 15:3-7. The lost piece of money Perea Lu 15:8-10. The prodigal son Perea Lu 15:11-32. The good shepherd Jerusalem Joh 10:1-18. The unjust steward Perea Lu 16:1-8. The rich man and Lazarus Perea Lu 16:19-31. The profitable servants Perea Lu 17:7-10. The importunate widow Perea Lu 18:1-8. The Pharisees and publicans Perea Lu 18:9-14. The laborers in the vineyard Perea Mt 20:1-16. The pounds Jericho Lu 19:11-27. The two sons Jerusalem Mt 21:28-32. The wicked husbandmen Jerusalem Mt 21:33-44; Mr 12:1-12; Lu 20:9-18. The marriage of the king’s son Jerusalem Mt 22:1-14. The ten virgins Mount of Olives Mt 25:1-13. The talents Mount of Olives Mt 25:14-30.



On the order of some of our Lord’s Miracles and Parables, the data being scanty, considerable difference obtains.

Miracles. Where Wrought. Where Recorded. Water made wine Cana Joh 2:1-11. Traders cast out of the temple Jerusalem Joh 2:13-17. Nobleman’s son healed Cana Joh 4:46-54. First miraculous draught of fishes Sea of Galilee Lu 5:1-11. Leper healed Capernaum Mt 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Lu 5:12-15. Centurion’s servant healed Capernaum Mt 8:5-13; Lu 7:1-10. Widow’s son raised to life Nain Lu 7:11-17. Demoniac healed Capernaum Mr 1:21-28; Lu 4:31-37. Peter’s mother-in-law healed Capernaum Mt 8:14, 15; Mr 1:29-31; Lu 4:38, 39. Paralytic healed Capernaum Mt 9:2-8; Mr 2:1-12; Lu 5:17-26. Impotent man healed Jerusalem Joh 5:1-16. Man with withered hand healed Galilee Mt 12:10-14; Mr 3:1-6; Lu 6:6-11. Blind and dumb demoniac healed Galilee Mt 12:22-24; Lu 11:14. Tempest stilled Sea of Galilee Mt 8:23-27; Mr 4:35-41; Lu 8:22-25. Demoniacs dispossessed Gadara Mt 8:28-34; Mr 5:1-20. Jairus’ daughter raised to life Capernaum Mt 9:18-26; Mr 5:22-24; Lu 8:41-56. Issue of blood healed Near Capernaum Mt 9:18-26; Mr 5:22-24; Lu 8:41-56. Two blind men restored to sight Capernaum Mt 9:27-31. Dumb demoniac healed Capernaum Mt 9:32-34. Five thousand miraculously fed Decapolis Mt 14:13-21; Mr 6:31-44; Lu 9:10-17; Joh 6:5-14. Jesus walks on the sea Sea of Galilee Mt 14:22-33; Mr 6:45-52; Joh 6:15-21. Syrophoenician’s daughter healed Coasts of Tyre and Sidon Mt 15:21-28; Mr 7:24-30. Deaf and dumb man healed Decapolis Mr 7:31-37. Four thousand fed Decapolis Mt 15:32-39; Mr 8:1-9. Blind man restored to sight Bethsaida Mr 8:22-26. Demoniac and lunatic boy healed Near Cæsarea Philippi Mt 17:14-21; Mr 9:14-29; Lu 9:37-43. Miraculous provision of tribute Capernaum Mt 17:24-27. The eyes of one born blind opened Jerusalem Joh 9:1-41. Woman, of eighteen years’ infirmity, cured [Perea.] Lu 13:10-17. Dropsical man healed [Perea.] Lu 14:1-6. Ten lepers cleansed Borders of Samaria Lu 17:11-19. Lazarus raised to life Bethany Joh 11:1-46. Two blind beggars restored to sight Jericho Mt 20:29-34; Mr 10:46-52; Lu 18:35-43. Barren fig tree blighted Bethany Mt 21:12, 13, 18, 19; Mr 11:12-24. Buyers and sellers again cast out Jerusalem Lu 19:45, 46. Malchus’ ear healed Gethsemane Mt 26:51-54; Mr 14:47-49; Lu 22:50, 51; Joh 18:10,11. Second draught of fishes Sea of Galilee Joh 21:1-14.



Certainty in these dates is not to be had, the notes of time in the Acts being few and vague. It is only by connecting those events of secular history which it records, and the dates of which are otherwise tolerably known to us–such as the famine under Claudius Cæsar (Ac 11:28), the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by the same emperor (Ac 18:2), and the entrance of Porcius Festus upon his procuratorship (Ac 24:27), with the intervals specified between some occurrences in the apostle’s life and others (such as Ac 20:31; 24:27; 28:30; and Ga 1:1-2:21)–that we can thread our way through the difficulties that surround the chronology of the apostle’s life, and approximate to certainty. Immense research has been brought to bear upon the subject, but, as might be expected, the learned are greatly divided. Every year has been fixed upon as the probable date of the apostle’s conversion from A.D. 31 [Bengel] to A.D. 42 [Eusebius]. But the weight of authority is in favor of dates ranging between 35 and 40, a difference of not more than five years; and the largest number of authorities is in favor of the year 37 or 38. Taking the former of these, to which opinion largely inclines, the following Table will be useful to the student of apostolic history:

A.D. 37 Paul’s Conversion Ac 9:1. A.D. 40 First Visit to Jerusalem Ac 9:26; Ga 1:18. A.D. 42-44 First Residence at Antioch Ac 11:25-30. A.D. 44 Second Visit to Jerusalem Ac 11:30; 12:25. A.D. 45-47 First Missionary Journey Ac 13:2; 14:26. A.D. 47-51 Second Residence at Antioch Ac 14:28. Third Visit to Jerusalem Ac 15:2-30; Ga 2:1-10. (on which see Notes) A.D. 51,53, or 54 Second Missionary Journey Ac 15:36, 40; 18:22. A.D. 53 or 54 Fourth Visit to Jerusalem Ac 18:21, 22. Third Residence at Antioch Ac 18:22, 23. A.D. 54-58 Third Missionary Journey Ac 18:23; 21:15. A.D. 58 Fifth Visit to Jerusalem Arrest and Imprisonment at Cæsarea Ac 21:15; 23:35. A.D. 60 (Autumn)– A.D. 61 (Spring) Voyage to and Arrival in Rome Ac 27:1; 28:16. A.D. 63 Release from Imprisonment At Crete, Colosse, Macedonia, Corinth, Nicopolis, Dalmatia, Troas Ac 28:30. 1 & 2 Tim. 1:1-4:22 and Tit. A.D. 63-65, or 66, or possibly as late as A.D. 66-68 Martyrdom at Rome