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Isaiah (in Hebrew, Yeshayahu, "Salvation of God"), the
earliest and most sublime of the four greater Hebrew prophets,
was the son of Amoz (2 Kings xix, 2-20; Isaiah xxxvii, 2), and he
uttered his oracles during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz,
and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. The dates of his birth and death
are unknown, but he lived from about 760 B.C. to about 700 B.C.
He was married and had three sons—the children referred to in
Isaiah viii, 18; and he appears to have resided near
But by most competent critics it is now held that the last
twenty-seven chapters (40-66) of the book bearing his name were
the work, not of the prophet, but of a later writer who is
commonly styled the second or Deutero-Isaiah. In this portion of
the book, Cyrus, who was not born till after 600 B.C., is
mentioned by name (Isaiah, xliv, 28; xlv, i); and events which
did not take place till a century after the prophet's death are
referred to as happening contemporaneously with the writer's
account of them. The style of these last twenty-seven chapters,
also, is different, and the tone is more elevated and
Dore's ideal portrait is more suited to the second or
pseudo-Isaiah, than to the real one.
DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB'S HOST.
Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria,
He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor
come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the
way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come
into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city, to
save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
And it came to pass that night that the angel of the Lord went
out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore
and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning,
behold, they were all dead corpses.
So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and
returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was
worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and
Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into
the land of Armenia. And Esar-haddon his son reigned in his
stead.—2 Kings xix, 32-37
And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of
Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the
Lord, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all
the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and
against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake
unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. It may be
that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to
do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way;
that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.
Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch
wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord, which
he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book. Jeremiah xxxvi;
The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son
of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth
of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah
king of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel,
unto thee, O Baruch; thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the Lord
hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I
find no rest.
Thus shalt thou say unto him, The Lord saith thus; Behold,
that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have
planted I will pluck up, even this whole land. And seekest thou
great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will
bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I
give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goesth.
Jeremiah xlv, 1-5.
Ezekiel, the third of the great Hebrew prophets, was the son
of the priest Buzi. (Ezekiel i, 3). He was probably born about
620 or 630 years before Christ, and was consequently a
contemporary of Jeremiah and Daniel, to the latter of whom he
alludes in chapters xiv, 14-20 and xxviii, 3. When Jerusalem was
taken by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. (2 Kings xxiv, 8-16; Jeremiah
xxix, 1-2; Ezekiel xvii, 12; xix, 9), Ezekiel was carried captive
along with Jehoiachin, or Jeconiah, king of Judah, and thousands
of other Jewish prisoners, to Babylonia, or as he himself calls
it, "the land of the Chaldeans." (Ezekiel i, 3). Here, along with
his exiled fellow-countrymen, he lived on the banks of the river
Chebar (Ezekiel i, 1-3), in a house of his own (viii, i). Here
also he married, and here, too, his wife, "the desire of his
eyes," was taken from him "with a stroke" (Ezekiel xxiv, 15-18).
His prophetic career extended over twenty-two years, from about
592 B.C. to about 570 B.C.
The book bearing his name is written in a mystical and
symbolical style, and abounds with visions and difficult
allegories which indicate on the part of the author the
possession of a vivid and sublime imagination. Ezekiel's
authorship of it has been questioned. The Talmud attributes it to
the Great Synagogue, of which Ezekiel was not a member. It is
divisible into two portions. The first (chapters i-xxiv) was
written before, and the second (chapters xxv-xlviii) after, the
destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C, the
eleventh year of the prophet's captivity (Ezekiel xxvi, 1-2; XI,
i). The present text is very imperfect, being corrupted by the
interpolation of glosses and other additions by later hands.
Dore's picture represents the prophet uttering his oracles to
his fellow-exiles ("them of the captivity"), or to the "elders of
Judah," or "elders of Israel," on one of the occasions to which
he himself alludes (viii, I; xi, 25; xiv, I; xx, I).
THE VISION OF EZEKIEL.
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the
Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley
which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round
about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and,
lo, they were very dry.
And he said unto me; Son of man, can these bones live? And I
answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.
Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto
them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the
Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter
into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and
will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put
breath in you, and ye shall live and ye shall know that I am the
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there
was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the, bones came together,
bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh
came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was
no breath in them.
Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of
man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the
four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into
them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding
Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole
house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our
hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy
and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people,
I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your
graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know
that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people,
and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in
you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land:
then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed
it, saith the Lord.—Ezekiel xxxvii, 1-14.
Respecting the parentage or family of Daniel, the fourth of
the great Hebrew prophets, nothing is known, though he appears to
have been of noble if not of royal descent (Daniel i, 3). When,
in the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim (607, 606, 605,
or 604 B.C.), Jerusalem was first taken by Nebuchadnezzar,
Daniel, then a youth, was among the captives carried to Babylon.
By the king's orders, he, with others of the Jewish youth, was
educated for three years (Daniel i, 3-7). At this time Daniel
acquired the power of interpreting dreams (i, 17), which he used
with such advantage in expounding a dream of Nebuchadnezzar, that
he was made ruler over the whole province of Babylon (Daniel ii,
46-48). Daniel's interpretation of Belshazzar's famous vision
having been fulfilled by the capture of Babylon by Darius, that
conqueror promoted Daniel to the highest office in the kingdom
(Daniel vi, 1-3). The prophet also prospered greatly during the
reign of Cyrus (Daniel vi, 28).
The book of Daniel is written partly in Chaldaic or Syriac
(the vernacular Aramaic language spoken by the people of
Palestine), and partly in sacred Hebrew. It is manifestly
divisible into two portions. The first (chapters i-vi) narrating
the details of the prophet's life, and the second (chapters
vii-xii) setting forth his apocalyptic visions. Much doubt has
been cast upon the authenticity of the work. The evident
reference in the eleventh chapter to the conquest of Persia by
Alexander the Great, which took place about 330 B.C., or more
than two hundred years after Daniel flourished, has led many
modern critics to believe that the work was composed in the time
of the Maccabees.
Dore's picture appears to be intended to represent the prophet
meditating over one of the many visions which came to him.
THE FIERY FURNACE.
Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and
accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar,
O king, live forever. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set
over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they
serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast
Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men
before the king.
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego? do not ye serve my gods, nor
worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready
that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp,
sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall
down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye
worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a
burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you
out of my hands?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the
king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this
matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us
from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of
thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king,
that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image
which thou hast set up.
Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his
visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego:
therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the
furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And
he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them into the
burning fiery furnace.
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and
their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the
midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king's
commandment was urgent and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame
of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abed-nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego
fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in
haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast
three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered, and
said unto the king, True, O king.
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the
midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the
fourth is like the Son of God.
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning
fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth and come
hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the
midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and
the king's counselors, being gathered together, saw these men,
upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their
head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of
fire had passed on them.—Daniel iii, 8, 9, 12-27.
Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his
lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he
tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels
which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which
was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and
his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden
vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God
which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives,
and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine and praised
the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and
In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote
over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the
king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts
troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and
his knees smote one against another.
[On the failure of his astrologers and soothsayers to
interpret the writing, the king, at the suggestion of his queen,
sends for Daniel, who interprets it as follows:]
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father
a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honor: and for the majesty
that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages, trembled
and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would
he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he
put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened
in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took
his glory from him and he was driven from the sons of men; and
his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the
wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was
wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God
ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it
whomsoever he will.
And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart,
though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against
the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his
house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy
concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the
gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which
see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath
is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.
Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing
And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL,
UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath
numbered thy kingdom and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in
the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is
divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
And Darius the Median took the kingdom.—Daniel v.
DANIEL IN THE LIONS' DEN.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into
his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward
Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and
prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making
supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake
before the king concerning the king's decree Hast thou not signed
a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or
man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into
the den of lions.
The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to
the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel,
which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not
thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh
his petition three times a day.
Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased
with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he
laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the
king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is,
That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be
changed. Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel and
cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto
Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver
thee. And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den
and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet
of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning
Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night
fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him:
and his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in
the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he
came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel:
and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the
living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to
deliver thee from the lions?
Then said Daniel unto the King, O king, live forever. My God
hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they
have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in
me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that
they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up
out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because
he believed in his God. And the king commanded, and they brought
those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the
den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the
lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in
pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.—Daniel
THE PROPHET AMOS.
Amos, one of the earliest of the Hebrew prophets, flourished
during the reign of Uzziah, about 790 B.C., and was consequently
a contemporary of Hosea and Joel. In his youth he lived at Tekoa,
about six miles south of Bethlehem, in Judaea, and was a herdsman
and a gatherer of sycamore fruit (Amos i, i; vii, 14). This
occupation he gave up for that of prophet (vii, 15), and he came
forward to denounce the idolatry then prevalent in Judah, Israel,
and the surrounding kingdoms.
The first six chapters of his book contain his denunciations
of idolatry; the other three, his symbolical vision of the
overthrow of the people of Israel, and a promise of their
restoration. The style is remarkable for clearness and strength,
and for its picturesque use of images drawn from the rural and
pastoral life which the prophet had led in his youth.
JONAH CALLING NINEVEH TO REPENTANCE.
And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time,
saying, Arise, go unto to Nineveh, that great city, and preach
unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word
of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three
days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's
journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh
shall be overthrown.
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast,
and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least
of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose
from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him
with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be
proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the
king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor
flock taste anything: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let
man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto
God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the
violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn
and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way;
and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do
unto them; and he did it not.—Jonah iii.
DANIEL CONFOUNDING THE PRIESTS OF BEL.
Now the Babylonians had an idol called Bel: and there were
spent upon him every day, twelve great measures of fine flour,
and forty sheep, and sixty vessels of wine. The king also
worshipped him, and went every day to adore him: but Daniel
adored his God. And the king said unto him: Why dost thou not
adore Bel? And he answered, and said to him Because I do not
worship idols made with hands, but the living God, that created
heaven and earth, and hath power over all flesh. And the king
said to him: Doth not Bel seem to thee to be a living God? Seest
thou not how much he eateth and drinketh every day? Then Daniel
smiled and said: O king, be not deceived: for this is but clay
within, and brass without, neither hath he eaten at any time.
And the king being angry called for his priests, and said to
them: If you tell me not, who it is that eateth up these
expenses, you shall die. But if you can show that Bel eateth
these things, Daniel shall die, because he hath blasphemed
And Daniel said to the king: Be it done according to thy
Now the priests of Bel were seventy besides their wives and
little ones and children. And they went with Daniel into the
temple of Bel. And the priests of Bel said: Behold, we go out:
and do thou, O king, set on the meats, and make ready, the wine,
and shut the door fast, and seal it with thy own ring: and when
thou comest in the morning, if thou findest not that Bel hath
eaten all up, we will suffer death, or else Daniel that hath lied
And they little regarded it, because they had made under the
table a secret entrance, and they always came in by it, and
consumed those things.
So it came to pass after they were gone out, the king set the
meats before Bel: and Daniel commanded his servants, and they
brought ashes, and he sifted them all over the temple before the
king: and going forth they shut the door, and having sealed it
with the king's ring, they departed.
But the priests went in by night, according to their custom,
with their wives and their children: and they eat and drank all
And the king rose early in the morning, and Daniel with him.
And the king said: Are the seals whole, Daniel? and he answered:
They are whole, O king. And as soon as he had opened the door,
the king looked upon the table, and cried out with a loud voice
Great art thou, O Bel, and there is not any deceit with thee. And
Daniel laughed: and he held the king that he should not go in:
and he said: Behold the pavement, mark whose footsteps these are.
And the king said: I see the footsteps of men, and women, and
children. And the king was angry. Then he took the priests, and
their wives, and their children: and they showed him the private
doors by which they came in, and consumed the things that were on
The king therefore put them to death, and delivered Bel into
the power of Daniel: who destroyed him, and his temple.—Daniel
xiv, I-21 (Douay Version).
HELIODORUS PUNISHED IN THE TEMPLE.
But Heliodorus executed that which he had resolved on, himself
being present in the same place with his guard about the
But the spirit of the Almighty God gave a great evidence of
his presence, so that all that had presumed to obey him, falling
down by the power of God, were struck with fainting and dread.
For there appeared to them a horse with a terrible rider upon
him, adorned with a very rich covering: and he ran fiercely and
struck Heliodorus with his fore-feet, and he that sat upon him
seemed to have armor of gold. Moreover, there appeared two other
young men, beautiful and strong, bright and glorious, and in
comely apparel: who stood by him, on either side, and scourged
him without ceasing with many stripes.
And Heliodorus suddenly fell to the ground, and they took him
up covered with great darkness, and having put him into a litter
they carried him out. So he that came with many servants, and all
his guard into the aforesaid treasury, was carried out, no one
being able to help him, the manifest power of God being known.
And he indeed by the power of God lay speechless, and without all
hope of recovery.—2 Maccabees iii, 23-29.