messenger or angel, the last of the minor prophets, and the
writer of the last book of the Old Testament canon (Mal. 4:4, 5,
6). Nothing is known of him beyond what is contained in his book
of prophecies. Some have supposed that the name is simply a
title descriptive of his character as a messenger of Jehovah,
and not a proper name. There is reason, however, to conclude
that Malachi was the ordinary name of the prophet.
He was contemporary with Nehemiah (comp. Mal. 2:8 with Neh.
13:15; Mal. 2:10-16 with Neh. 13:23). No allusion is made to him
by Ezra, and he does not mention the restoration of the temple,
and hence it is inferred that he prophesied after Haggai and
Zechariah, and when the temple services were still in existence
(Mal. 1:10; 3:1, 10). It is probable that he delivered his
prophecies about B.C. 420, after the second return of Nehemiah
from Persia (Neh. 13:6), or possibly before his return.
Malachi, Prophecies of
The contents of the book are comprised in four chapters. In the
Hebrew text the third and fourth chapters (of the A.V.) form but
one. The whole consists of three sections, preceded by an
introduction (Mal. 1:1-5), in which the prophet reminds Israel
of Jehovah's love to them. The first section (1:6-2:9) contains
a stern rebuke addressed to the priests who had despised the
name of Jehovah, and been leaders in a departure from his
worship and from the covenant, and for their partiality in
administering the law. In the second (2:9-16) the people are
rebuked for their intermarriages with idolatrous heathen. In the
third (2:17-4:6) he addresses the people as a whole, and warns
them of the coming of the God of judgment, preceded by the
advent of the Messiah.
This book is frequently referred to in the New Testament
(Matt. 11:10; 17:12; Mark 1:2; 9:11, 12; Luke 1:17; Rom. 9:13).
hidden, spurious, the name given to certain ancient books which
found a place in the LXX. and Latin Vulgate versions of the Old
Testament, and were appended to all the great translations made
from them in the sixteenth century, but which have no claim to
be regarded as in any sense parts of the inspired Word.
(1.) They are not once quoted by the New Testament writers,
who frequently quote from the LXX. Our Lord and his apostles
confirmed by their authority the ordinary Jewish canon, which
was the same in all respects as we now have it.
(2.) These books were written not in Hebrew but in Greek, and
during the "period of silence," from the time of Malachi, after
which oracles and direct revelations from God ceased till the
(3.) The contents of the books themselves show that they were
no part of Scripture. The Old Testament Apocrypha consists of
fourteen books, the chief of which are the Books of the
Maccabees (q.v.), the Books of Esdras, the Book of Wisdom, the
Book of Baruch, the Book of Esther, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit,
The New Testament Apocrypha consists of a very extensive
literature, which bears distinct evidences of its non-apostolic
origin, and is utterly unworthy of regard.
Nehemiah, Book of
The author of this book was no doubt Nehemiah himself. There are
portions of the book written in the first person (ch. 1-7;
12:27-47, and 13). But there are also portions of it in which
Nehemiah is spoken of in the third person (ch. 8; 9; 10). It is
supposed that these portions may have been written by Ezra; of
this, however, there is no distinct evidence. These portions had
their place assigned them in the book, there can be no doubt, by
Nehemiah. He was the responsible author of the whole book, with
the exception of ch. 12:11, 22, 23.
The date at which the book was written was probably about B.C.
431-430, when Nehemiah had returned the second time to Jerusalem
after his visit to Persia.
The book, which may historically be regarded as a continuation
of the book of Ezra, consists of four parts. (1.) An account of
the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, and of the register
Nehemiah had found of those who had returned from Babylon (ch.
1-7). (2.) An account of the state of religion among the Jews
during this time (8-10). (3.) Increase of the inhabitants of
Jerusalem; the census of the adult male population, and names of
the chiefs, together with lists of priests and Levites
(11-12:1-26). (4.) Dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the
arrangement of the temple officers, and the reforms carried out
by Nehemiah (12:27-ch. 13).
This book closes the history of the Old Testament. Malachi the
prophet was contemporary with Nehemiah.
festive, one of the twelve so-called minor prophets. He was the
first of the three (Zechariah, his contemporary, and Malachi,
who was about one hundred years later, being the other two)
whose ministry belonged to the period of Jewish history which
began after the return from captivity in Babylon. Scarcely
anything is known of his personal history. He may have been one
of the captives taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. He began his
ministry about sixteen years after the Return. The work of
rebuilding the temple had been put a stop to through the
intrigues of the Samaritans. After having been suspended for
fifteen years, the work was resumed through the efforts of
Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 6:14), who by their exhortations
roused the people from their lethargy, and induced them to take
advantage of the favourable opportunity that had arisen in a
change in the policy of the Persian government. (See DARIUS
¯T0000975 .) Haggai's prophecies have thus been
characterized:, "There is a ponderous and simple dignity in the
emphatic reiteration addressed alike to every class of the
community, prince, priest, and people, 'Be strong, be strong, be
strong' (2:4). 'Cleave, stick fast, to the work you have to do;'
or again, 'Consider your ways, consider, consider, consider'
(1:5, 7;2:15, 18). It is the Hebrew phrase for the endeavour,
characteristic of the gifted seers of all times, to compel their
hearers to turn the inside of their hearts outwards to their own
view, to take the mask from off their consciences, to 'see life
steadily, and to see it wholly.'", Stanley's Jewish Church. (See
whose God is Jehovah. (1.) "The Tishbite," the "Elias" of the
New Testament, is suddenly introduced to our notice in 1 Kings
17:1 as delivering a message from the Lord to Ahab. There is
mention made of a town called Thisbe, south of Kadesh, but it is
impossible to say whether this was the place referred to in the
name given to the prophet.
Having delivered his message to Ahab, he retired at the
command of God to a hiding-place by the brook Cherith, beyond
Jordan, where he was fed by ravens. When the brook dried up God
sent him to the widow of Zarephath, a city of Zidon, from whose
scanty store he was supported for the space of two years. During
this period the widow's son died, and was restored to life by
Elijah (1 Kings 17: 2-24).
During all these two years a famine prevailed in the land. At
the close of this period of retirement and of preparation for
his work (comp. Gal. 1:17, 18) Elijah met Obadiah, one of Ahab's
officers, whom he had sent out to seek for pasturage for the
cattle, and bade him go and tell his master that Elijah was
there. The king came and met Elijah, and reproached him as the
troubler of Israel. It was then proposed that sacrifices should
be publicly offered, for the purpose of determining whether Baal
or Jehovah were the true God. This was done on Carmel, with the
result that the people fell on their faces, crying, "The Lord,
he is the God." Thus was accomplished the great work of Elijah's
ministry. The prophets of Baal were then put to death by the
order of Elijah. Not one of them escaped. Then immediately
followed rain, according to the word of Elijah, and in answer to
his prayer (James 5:18).
Jezebel, enraged at the fate that had befallen her priests of
Baal, threatened to put Elijah to death (1 Kings 19:1-13). He
therefore fled in alarm to Beersheba, and thence went alone a
day's journey into the wilderness, and sat down in despondency
under a juniper tree. As he slept an angel touched him, and said
unto him, "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for
thee." He arose and found a cake and a cruse of water. Having
partaken of the provision thus miraculously supplied, he went
forward on his solitary way for forty days and forty nights to
Horeb, the mount of God, where he took up his abode in a cave.
Here the Lord appeared unto him and said, "What dost thou here,
Elijah?" In answer to his despondent words God manifests to him
his glory, and then directs him to return to Damascus and anoint
Hazael king over Syria, and Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha to
be prophet in his room (1 Kings 19:13-21; comp. 2 Kings 8:7-15;
Some six years after this he warned Ahab and Jezebel of the
violent deaths they would die (1 Kings 21:19-24; 22:38). He
also, four years afterwards, warned Ahaziah (q.v.), who had
succeeded his father Ahab, of his approaching death (2 Kings
1:1-16). (See NABOTH ¯T0002645.) During these intervals he
probably withdrew to some quiet retirement, no one knew where.
His interview with Ahaziah's messengers on the way to Ekron, and
the account of the destruction of his captains with their
fifties, suggest the idea that he may have been in retirement at
this time on Mount Carmel.
The time now drew near when he was to be taken up into heaven
(2 Kings 2:1-12). He had a presentiment of what was awaiting
him. He went down to Gilgal, where was a school of the prophets,
and where his successor Elisha, whom he had anointed some years
before, resided. Elisha was solemnized by the thought of his
master's leaving him, and refused to be parted from him. "They
two went on," and came to Bethel and Jericho, and crossed the
Jordan, the waters of which were "divided hither and thither"
when smitten with Elijah's mantle. Arrived at the borders of
Gilead, which Elijah had left many years before, it "came to
pass as they still went on and talked" they were suddenly
separated by a chariot and horses of fire; and "Elijah went up
by a whirlwind into heaven, "Elisha receiving his mantle, which
fell from him as he ascended.
No one of the old prophets is so frequently referred to in the
New Testament. The priests and Levites said to the Baptist (John
1:25), "Why baptizest thou, if thou be not that Christ, nor
Elias?" Paul (Rom. 11:2) refers to an incident in his history to
illustrate his argument that God had not cast away his people.
James (5:17) finds in him an illustration of the power of
prayer. (See also Luke 4:25; 9:54.) He was a type of John the
Baptist in the sternness and power of his reproofs (Luke 9:8).
He was the Elijah that "must first come" (Matt. 11:11, 14), the
forerunner of our Lord announced by Malachi. Even outwardly the
Baptist corresponded so closely to the earlier prophet that he
might be styled a second Elijah. In him we see "the same
connection with a wild and wilderness country; the same long
retirement in the desert; the same sudden, startling entrance on
his work (1 Kings 17:1; Luke 3:2); even the same dress, a hairy
garment, and a leathern girdle about the loins (2 Kings 1:8;
How deep the impression was which Elijah made "on the mind of
the nation may be judged from the fixed belief, which rested on
the words of Malachi (4:5, 6), which many centuries after
prevailed that he would again appear for the relief and
restoration of the country. Each remarkable person as he arrives
on the scene, be his habits and characteristics what they may,
the stern John equally with his gentle Successor, is proclaimed
to be Elijah (Matt. 11:13, 14; 16:14; 17:10; Mark 9:11; 15:35;
Luke 9:7, 8; John 1:21). His appearance in glory on the mount of
transfiguration does not seem to have startled the disciples.
They were 'sore afraid,' but not apparently surprised."
(2.) The Elijah spoken of in 2 Chr. 21:12-15 is by some
supposed to be a different person from the foregoing. He lived
in the time of Jehoram, to whom he sent a letter of warning
(comp. 1 Chr. 28:19; Jer. 36), and acted as a prophet in Judah;
while the Tishbite was a prophet of the northern kingdom. But
there does not seem any necessity for concluding that the writer
of this letter was some other Elijah than the Tishbite. It may
be supposed either that Elijah anticipated the character of
Jehoram, and so wrote the warning message, which was preserved
in the schools of the prophets till Jehoram ascended the throne
after the Tishbite's translation, or that the translation did
not actually take place till after the accession of Jehoram to
the throne (2 Chr. 21:12; 2 Kings 8:16). The events of 2 Kings 2
may not be recorded in chronological order, and thus there may
be room for the opinion that Elijah was still alive in the
beginning of Jehoram's reign.
comforted by Jehovah. (1.) Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7. (2.) Neh. 3:16.
(3.) The son of Hachaliah (Neh. 1:1), and probably of the
tribe of Judah. His family must have belonged to Jerusalem (Neh.
2:3). He was one of the "Jews of the dispersion," and in his
youth was appointed to the important office of royal cup-bearer
at the palace of Shushan. The king, Artaxerxes Longimanus, seems
to have been on terms of friendly familiarity with his
attendant. Through his brother Hanani, and perhaps from other
sources (Neh. 1:2; 2:3), he heard of the mournful and desolate
condition of the Holy City, and was filled with sadness of
heart. For many days he fasted and mourned and prayed for the
place of his fathers' sepulchres. At length the king observed
his sadness of countenance and asked the reason of it. Nehemiah
explained it all to the king, and obtained his permission to go
up to Jerusalem and there to act as _tirshatha_, or governor of
Judea. He went up in the spring of B.C. 446 (eleven years after
Ezra), with a strong escort supplied by the king, and with
letters to all the pashas of the provinces through which he had
to pass, as also to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests,
directing him to assist Nehemiah. On his arrival he set himself
to survey the city, and to form a plan for its restoration; a
plan which he carried out with great skill and energy, so that
the whole was completed in about six months. He remained in
Judea for thirteen years as governor, carrying out many reforms,
notwithstanding much opposition that he encountered (Neh.
13:11). He built up the state on the old lines, "supplementing
and completing the work of Ezra," and making all arrangements
for the safety and good government of the city. At the close of
this important period of his public life, he returned to Persia
to the service of his royal master at Shushan or Ecbatana. Very
soon after this the old corrupt state of things returned,
showing the worthlessness to a large extent of the professions
that had been made at the feast of the dedication of the walls
of the city (Neh. 12. See EZRA ¯T0001294). Malachi now appeared
among the people with words of stern reproof and solemn warning;
and Nehemiah again returned from Persia (after an absence of
some two years), and was grieved to see the widespread moral
degeneracy that had taken place during his absence. He set
himself with vigour to rectify the flagrant abuses that had
sprung up, and restored the orderly administration of public
worship and the outward observance of the law of Moses. Of his
subsequent history we know nothing. Probably he remained at his
post as governor till his death (about B.C. 413) in a good old
age. The place of his death and burial is, however, unknown. "He
resembled Ezra in his fiery zeal, in his active spirit of
enterprise, and in the piety of his life: but he was of a
bluffer and a fiercer mood; he had less patience with
transgressors; he was a man of action rather than a man of
thought, and more inclined to use force than persuasion. His
practical sagacity and high courage were very markedly shown in
the arrangement with which he carried through the rebuilding of
the wall and balked the cunning plans of the 'adversaries.' The
piety of his heart, his deeply religious spirit and constant
sense of communion with and absolute dependence upon God, are
strikingly exhibited, first in the long prayer recorded in ch.
1:5-11, and secondly and most remarkably in what have been
called his 'interjectional prayers', those short but moving
addresses to Almighty God which occur so frequently in his
writings, the instinctive outpouring of a heart deeply moved,
but ever resting itself upon God, and looking to God alone for
aid in trouble, for the frustration of evil designs, and for
final reward and acceptance" (Rawlinson). Nehemiah was the last
of the governors sent from the Persian court. Judea after this
was annexed to the satrapy of Coele-Syria, and was governed by
the high priest under the jurisdiction of the governor of Syria,
and the internal government of the country became more and more
(Heb. nabi, from a root meaning "to bubble forth, as from a
fountain," hence "to utter", comp. Ps. 45:1). This Hebrew word
is the first and the most generally used for a prophet. In the
time of Samuel another word, _ro'eh_, "seer", began to be used
(1 Sam. 9:9). It occurs seven times in reference to Samuel.
Afterwards another word, _hozeh_, "seer" (2 Sam. 24:11), was
employed. In 1 Ch. 29:29 all these three words are used: "Samuel
the seer (ro'eh), Nathan the prophet (nabi'), Gad the seer"
(hozeh). In Josh. 13:22 Balaam is called (Heb.) a _kosem_
"diviner," a word used only of a false prophet.
The "prophet" proclaimed the message given to him, as the
"seer" beheld the vision of God. (See Num. 12:6, 8.) Thus a
prophet was a spokesman for God; he spake in God's name and by
his authority (Ex. 7:1). He is the mouth by which God speaks to
men (Jer. 1:9; Isa. 51:16), and hence what the prophet says is
not of man but of God (2 Pet. 1:20, 21; comp. Heb. 3:7; Acts
4:25; 28:25). Prophets were the immediate organs of God for the
communication of his mind and will to men (Deut. 18:18, 19). The
whole Word of God may in this general sense be spoken of as
prophetic, inasmuch as it was written by men who received the
revelation they communicated from God, no matter what its nature
might be. The foretelling of future events was not a necessary
but only an incidental part of the prophetic office. The great
task assigned to the prophets whom God raised up among the
people was "to correct moral and religious abuses, to proclaim
the great moral and religious truths which are connected with
the character of God, and which lie at the foundation of his
Any one being a spokesman for God to man might thus be called
a prophet. Thus Enoch, Abraham, and the patriarchs, as bearers
of God's message (Gen. 20:7; Ex. 7:1; Ps. 105:15), as also Moses
(Deut. 18:15; 34:10; Hos. 12:13), are ranked among the prophets.
The seventy elders of Israel (Num. 11:16-29), "when the spirit
rested upon them, prophesied;" Asaph and Jeduthun "prophesied
with a harp" (1 Chr. 25:3). Miriam and Deborah were prophetesses
(Ex. 15:20; Judg. 4:4). The title thus has a general application
to all who have messages from God to men.
But while the prophetic gift was thus exercised from the
beginning, the prophetical order as such began with Samuel.
Colleges, "schools of the prophets", were instituted for the
training of prophets, who were constituted, a distinct order (1
Sam. 19:18-24; 2 Kings 2:3, 15; 4:38), which continued to the
close of the Old Testament. Such "schools" were established at
Ramah, Bethel, Gilgal, Gibeah, and Jericho. The "sons" or
"disciples" of the prophets were young men (2 Kings 5:22; 9:1,
4) who lived together at these different "schools" (4:38-41).
These young men were taught not only the rudiments of secular
knowledge, but they were brought up to exercise the office of
prophet, "to preach pure morality and the heart-felt worship of
Jehovah, and to act along and co-ordinately with the priesthood
and monarchy in guiding the state aright and checking all
attempts at illegality and tyranny."
In New Testament times the prophetical office was continued.
Our Lord is frequently spoken of as a prophet (Luke 13:33;
24:19). He was and is the great Prophet of the Church. There was
also in the Church a distinct order of prophets (1 Cor. 12:28;
Eph. 2:20; 3:5), who made new revelations from God. They
differed from the "teacher," whose office it was to impart
truths already revealed.
Of the Old Testament prophets there are sixteen, whose
prophecies form part of the inspired canon. These are divided
into four groups:
(1.) The prophets of the northern kingdom (Israel), viz.,
Hosea, Amos, Joel, Jonah.
(2.) The prophets of Judah, viz., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah,
Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah.
(3.) The prophets of Captivity, viz., Ezekiel and Daniel.
(4.) The prophets of the Restoration, viz., Haggai, Zechariah,
one who follows on another's heels; supplanter, (Gen. 25:26;
27:36; Hos. 12:2-4), the second born of the twin sons of Isaac
by Rebekah. He was born probably at Lahai-roi, when his father
was fifty-nine and Abraham one hundred and fifty-nine years old.
Like his father, he was of a quiet and gentle disposition, and
when he grew up followed the life of a shepherd, while his
brother Esau became an enterprising hunter. His dealing with
Esau, however, showed much mean selfishness and cunning (Gen.
When Isaac was about 160 years of age, Jacob and his mother
conspired to deceive the aged patriarch (Gen. 27), with the view
of procuring the transfer of the birthright to himself. The
birthright secured to him who possessed it (1) superior rank in
his family (Gen. 49:3); (2) a double portion of the paternal
inheritance (Deut. 21:17); (3) the priestly office in the family
(Num. 8:17-19); and (4) the promise of the Seed in which all
nations of the earth were to be blessed (Gen. 22:18).
Soon after his acquisition of his father's blessing (Gen. 27),
Jacob became conscious of his guilt; and afraid of the anger of
Esau, at the suggestion of Rebekah Isaac sent him away to Haran,
400 miles or more, to find a wife among his cousins, the family
of Laban, the Syrian (28). There he met with Rachel (29). Laban
would not consent to give him his daughter in marriage till he
had served seven years; but to Jacob these years "seemed but a
few days, for the love he had to her." But when the seven years
were expired, Laban craftily deceived Jacob, and gave him his
daughter Leah. Other seven years of service had to be completed
probably before he obtained the beloved Rachel. But "life-long
sorrow, disgrace, and trials, in the retributive providence of
God, followed as a consequence of this double union."
At the close of the fourteen years of service, Jacob desired
to return to his parents, but at the entreaty of Laban he
tarried yet six years with him, tending his flocks (31:41). He
then set out with his family and property "to go to Isaac his
father in the land of Canaan" (Gen. 31). Laban was angry when he
heard that Jacob had set out on his journey, and pursued after
him, overtaking him in seven days. The meeting was of a painful
kind. After much recrimination and reproach directed against
Jacob, Laban is at length pacified, and taking an affectionate
farewell of his daughters, returns to his home in Padanaram. And
now all connection of the Israelites with Mesopotamia is at an
Soon after parting with Laban he is met by a company of
angels, as if to greet him on his return and welcome him back to
the Land of Promise (32:1, 2). He called the name of the place
Mahanaim, i.e., "the double camp," probably his own camp and
that of the angels. The vision of angels was the counterpart of
that he had formerly seen at Bethel, when, twenty years before,
the weary, solitary traveller, on his way to Padan-aram, saw the
angels of God ascending and descending on the ladder whose top
reached to heaven (28:12).
He now hears with dismay of the approach of his brother Esau
with a band of 400 men to meet him. In great agony of mind he
prepares for the worst. He feels that he must now depend only on
God, and he betakes himself to him in earnest prayer, and sends
on before him a munificent present to Esau, "a present to my
lord Esau from thy servant Jacob." Jacob's family were then
transported across the Jabbok; but he himself remained behind,
spending the night in communion with God. While thus engaged,
there appeared one in the form of a man who wrestled with him.
In this mysterious contest Jacob prevailed, and as a memorial of
it his name was changed to Israel (wrestler with God); and the
place where this occured he called Peniel, "for", said he, "I
have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved"
After this anxious night, Jacob went on his way, halting,
mysteriously weakened by the conflict, but strong in the
assurance of the divine favour. Esau came forth and met him; but
his spirit of revenge was appeased, and the brothers met as
friends, and during the remainder of their lives they maintained
friendly relations. After a brief sojourn at Succoth, Jacob
moved forward and pitched his tent near Shechem (q.v.), 33:18;
but at length, under divine directions, he moved to Bethel,
where he made an altar unto God (35:6,7), and where God appeared
to him and renewed the Abrahamic covenant. While journeying from
Bethel to Ephrath (the Canaanitish name of Bethlehem), Rachel
died in giving birth to her second son Benjamin (35:16-20),
fifteen or sixteen years after the birth of Joseph. He then
reached the old family residence at Mamre, to wait on the dying
bed of his father Isaac. The complete reconciliation between
Esau and Jacob was shown by their uniting in the burial of the
Jacob was soon after this deeply grieved by the loss of his
beloved son Joseph through the jealousy of his brothers (37:33).
Then follows the story of the famine, and the successive goings
down into Egypt to buy corn (42), which led to the discovery of
the long-lost Joseph, and the patriarch's going down with all
his household, numbering about seventy souls (Ex. 1:5; Deut.
10:22; Acts 7:14), to sojourn in the land of Goshen. Here Jacob,
"after being strangely tossed about on a very rough ocean, found
at last a tranquil harbour, where all the best affections of his
nature were gently exercised and largely unfolded" (Gen. 48). At
length the end of his checkered course draws nigh, and he
summons his sons to his bedside that he may bless them. Among
his last words he repeats the story of Rachel's death, although
forty years had passed away since that event took place, as
tenderly as if it had happened only yesterday; and when "he had
made an end of charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into
the bed, and yielded up the ghost" (49:33). His body was
embalmed and carried with great pomp into the land of Canaan,
and buried beside his wife Leah in the cave of Machpelah,
according to his dying charge. There, probably, his embalmed
body remains to this day (50:1-13). (See HEBRON ¯T0001712.)
The history of Jacob is referred to by the prophets Hosea
(12:3, 4, 12) and Malachi (1:2). In Micah 1:5 the name is a
poetic synonym for Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes. There
are, besides the mention of his name along with those of the
other patriarchs, distinct references to events of his life in
Paul's epistles (Rom. 9:11-13; Heb. 12:16; 11:21). See
references to his vision at Bethel and his possession of land at
Shechem in John 1:51; 4:5, 12; also to the famine which was the
occasion of his going down into Egypt in Acts 7:12 (See LUZ
¯T0002335; BETHEL ¯T0000554.)