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Alas! who shall survive the destruction from God?
But Ashur shall be brought low:'
The passage is justly considered as obscure, and has given rise to various interpretations. If the above be correct, by the oppression from the hand of Chittim, we are to understand those judgments inflicted on the Israelites by the Europeans, both Macedonians and Romans.1 But as Ashur, and as Heber had been depressed, so should at last the mightier European foe. By Heber, from the connexion, I understand the Persians. The term signifies, " He who passes from the other side," more especially "He who comes from the other side of the river" —" the Euphrates." This was the situation both of Nineveh and Babylon, but more particularly of the Medes and Persians. To them, therefore, 1 conclude the term Heber to apply, and that Ashur denotes both the Assyrian empires, that of Nineveh and that of Babylon.
'From the Arab. See Sim. Le*. Or, perhaps, it might be better, with Dr. Guides, after the reading of the LXX, and u Suinaritan MS. 1n render
Who shall escape from the hand ofChittiin.
The Vulgate renders " Venient in trieribus de Italia,* suIiciabunt
Assyrios, vastabuntque Hebraos, et ad extreraum etiam ipsi peribunt."
2 Translating v» impersonally.
3 Both the Macedonians and the ancient inhabitants of Italy were descended from Kittim, Dtq, the son of Jnran.—See Wells' Geog. Part I. cnp. III. sect. ii.
Bishop Horsley, though he does not give the same explanation of these lines, very justly designates them as " a complicated exhibition of the infinitely varied business of the whole world, from the prophet's own time to the fall of the Roman empire."
The prophecies of Balaam, therefore, confirm the former prophecies respecting the high destinies of Israel in the dispensations of God; and they seem to discover to us that the last foe that falls for Israel's sake is European.
THE PKOPHECIES OF THE ERA OF DAVID.
In pursuing our chronological survey of the Scriptures, for the purpose of collecting the information, they have, from time to time, imparted respecting the glorious advent of the Saviour, we now enter, after a long interval of three hundred years *, '' from Moses to Samuel," upon a new era of prophecy, which may be justly considered as the era of David: since by him chiefly were delivered those oracles we are going to consult.
The Spirit of prophecy began, in this age, however, with a more lowly instrument than the son of Jesse. In proceeding to make known to the church some further mysteries of the coming of the great Redeemer, Hannah, the mother of Samuel, is first the subject of the divine inspiration. Samuel was a child obtained by a mother's prayer, after long waiting, and many disappointments of her hope. In these circumstances, she seems to be regarded, in the view of Heaven, as a type of the "mystic Eve," who has, at length, gotten her "promised seed" from Jehovah. In this character she is inspired to prophesy, and she pursues a theme that suits neither herself nor Samuel; but which bears a very strong resemblance to the words afterwards put in the mouth of the virgin mother of our Lordf.
* From 1451 before Christ to about 1165.
f "The ancient Jews referred this hymn of Hannah to the times of the Messiah."—Dean Aims,
And Hannah prophesied, and said: —
1. My heart exulted in Jehovah,
My mouth was opened over mine enemy,
2. There is none holy as Jehovah,
And there is no protector like our Elohim.
The sense of her own mercies, we may suppose, first kindled the thought of gratitude in Hannah's mind; but, while she seeks to express her happiness and thankfulness to God, she is filled with the Holy Ghost, and hei language soon swells with a greater theme than the birth of Samuel. Even in the expressions with which the hymn opens, we should regard her as the church exulting in the midst of her insulting foes, in prophetic anticipation of a Saviour's birth, rather than as Hannah exulting over her reviling sister. But the subject becomes more distinct and manifest as we proceed:—
3. Talk not so very proudly,
Let not arrogancy come out of your mouth;
For Jehovah is a God that discerneth,
As addressed to the scoffers of the church, and of her hopes, we see the propriety of these reproofs, and of this solemn appeal to that God who will judge the world in righteousness. In regard of Hannah's private enemies, the propriety and importance of this would not be so manifest: —
* For KVi, all the versions hnve ~fn. VOL. I. T
4. The bow of the mighty was stayed,*
And the enfeebled were girded with strength.
5. Those that were full have been hired for bread,
The barren woman hath borne seven,
And she that was fruitful in children hath drooped. J
These are general figures, descriptive of a deliverance, wrought for certain poor and afflicted objects, that produces a complete reverse, not only in their own condition, but in the condition of their insulting enemies. The same metaphor is used in the '' Magnificat"—" He filleth the hungry with good things, and the rich he sendeth empty away," &c. The meaning is evident; the people, who, as the children of promise, are waiting for deliverance from the expected Saviour, will be found, for the most part, a poor and afflicted, perhaps a persecuted people; and the salvation, which God will accomplish among mankind, will be of a nature that will lay low the pride of man, and strangely reverse the condition of men in society. In short, the power of God, and the nothingness of man, is to be eminently displayed in this transaction : —
6. Jehovah killeth and maketh alive,
He bringeth down to hell and bringeth up:
Jehovah maketh poor and maketh rich,
This is, indeed, a striking intimation to Israel, that the salvation expected was not to be accomplished by
* Literally " sealed up."
J Become weak, or weary; it is applied both to the languor of sickness, and the fading of plants.