Christian Churches of God
The Twelve Prophets
(Edition 1.0 20150314-20150314)
The Twelve Prophets are the last in order of sequence in the Canon but by no means are they minor or least in the importance of God’s Prophets.
The Twelve Prophets
The Canonical List of the Twelve Prophets so called as Minor Prophets are listed in the order of:
They fall into a structure of three prophets; then six prophets and then three prophets.
The order in which they appear is not the order in which God sent them. God sent Amos first when he appears third in the Canon for example. Some such as Zechariah were killed by the priests and prophets. Others were severely persecuted.
THE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF THE PROPHETS.
Israel was given forty years warning from 761-721 BCE as we saw with the earlier prophets Jonah and Amos. Abraham ibn Ezra the medieval scholar places him in the forty years prior to the fall of Samaria but later scholars limit him to the thirty years prior to the fall (750-720) (cf. Soncino, Intro to p. 1).
There is no doubt that God directed the warnings to Israel for forty years before the fall of Samaria in accordance with normal procedures of prophecy.
Israel was given 40 years and so also was Judah from 30 CE at the Passover of the death of Christ until 70 CE at the end of the Seventy weeks of years and the destruction of the Temple by Rome (see the papers The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 013) and War with Rome and the Fall of the Temple (No. 298)).
So also did the Sign of Jonah extend for 40 jubilees in the Jubilee for a year basis of the church in the wilderness as was Israel in the wilderness in the Exodus. So also were the Churches of God given 40 years of the Measuring of the Temple from 1987 to the Jubilee of 2027 (see also the paper Measuring the Temple (No. 137)).
The entire Twelve Prophets extend from 40 years before the fall of Samaria to the Last Days and the coming of the Messiah and the captivity of Jerusalem. Then Zechariah takes the process on into the millennial system.
The warning to the Assyrians who were instrumental in the fall of Israel was taken to them by Jonah and therefore his placing has relevance to that of Amos.
As we will see from the commentary Jonah the son of Amittai is a known historic personage. He is mentioned in 2Kings 14:25. He was from Gath-hepher which is a border town in Zebulun (cf. Josh. 19:13). It is probably identified with Khirbet ez Zurra’ which is an extensive site located three miles NE of Nazareth, which was in Galilee. The statement of the Pharisees in John 7:52 was thus a lie. Christ came out of the area of Nazareth in Galilee, as had Jonah. It was occupied in Iron Ages I and II i.e. 1200-600 BCE and thus in the period of Jonah and before that in the Late Bronze Age from 1550 BCE onwards. Jonah was a contemporary of Jeroboam II king of Israel (793-775 BCE) and the earlier years of Uzziah (775-757 BCE). It lay a short distance to the north of the remains of the village of Meshed which is where the traditional site of the Tomb of Jonah lies.
As we saw from The Fall of Egypt (No. 036), and examined again in the commentary on Jonah, in 732 BCE the Assyrian Tiglath Pileser III annexed Damascus making Israel and Judah tributary states. In 729 BCE Tiglath Pileser III annexed Babylon and Shalmaneser V (from 724-721 BCE) annexed Israel in 722 BCE. His successor Sargon II deported the ten tribes.
The witness of Jonah was over forty years from the reign of Jeroboam II (793-775) to Uzziah (775-753) and the combined reigns was a period of forty years with the probation period from the third year of the reign of Uzziah ca 772-732 to Tributary status to the Assyrians. Israel was sent into captivity to the Assyrians over the period from 722 BCE which was approximately 40 years and then 50 years or a jubilee from the prophesies of Jonah to Israel. Jonah should have learned from the mission to Nineveh and warned Israel of what God did to them and what was then to happen to Israel but they did not listen as Judah did not listen during its forty years given for repentance (see also the paper Outline Table of the Age (No. 272)).
It appears that Jonah and Amos were contemporaries warning both Assyria and Israel and at a period that gave them 40 years warning before judgment.
As we see in the text of Commentary on Hosea, the Talmud and Midrash have many references to Hosea and there he is considered the greatest of his prophetical contemporaries (cf. Pes. 87a). The commentators believe his father Beeri to have been a prophet and his prophecy incorporated into Isaiah 8:19ff (cf. Lev. Rabba 6, xv, 2). The commentators are of the opinion that not all Hosea’s prophecies are in chronological order but we will see if that holds water with the hindsight of history. The Talmud admits the Canon is not in order also (B.B 14a). Refer to the Commentary.
Joel deals with the preparation of the elect particularly from the Messiah and in the last days. It has important aspects of the sanctification of the congregation of Israel as the Temple of God and precedes and is complementary to and preparatory for the writings of Ezekiel. Bullinger places it with Ezekiel from the fifth year of Jehoiakin’s captivity but it is undated. Some rabbis place it elsewhere. The canon places it between Hosea and Amos. We however know that Amos and Jonah preceded Hosea and Joel being undated and concerning later events logically falls subsequently to Hosea. The Chronology is therefore assumed as Amos, Jonah, Hosea. It is however quite probable that the true order is Jonah, Amos and Hosea.
Amos is generally accepted as writing between the years 765 and 750 BCE in the reign of Jeroboam II (782-743). His book is listed third in the Canon but he is accepted to have been first of the later prophets and his work distances himself from the earlier prophets with whom corruption had entered their schools as we see from his writings. His denial of the prophets does not mean that he was not one but rather he condemned their corruption and was not one of them.
The earthquake to which he refers in 1:1 is held to have occurred in the time of Uzziah (Zech. 14:5). The eclipse of the sun referred to in 8:9 is calculated to have occurred in 763 BCE (cf. Soncino Intro., p. 81).
Once again we see the period of thirty and forty years come into play in the repentance of Israel (cf. also Cox. Commentary on Jonah). The warning is marked at 763-2 BCE and in 733 the Assyrians captured Damascus and made Israel a tributary system. In 723-2 they moved on Samaria and in 722 BCE the Israelites were taken into captivity and removed north of the Araxes not to return until the Second Advent of the Messiah.
The prophet Micah came from the lowlands of the Shephelah near the Philistine border. He prophesied in the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (739-693 BCE). He was the younger of his contemporaries Hosea and Amos (cf. Soncino, p. 153). Micah has much in common with the two earlier prophets and we see from the texts that he takes the condemnation of the structure and the priesthood and its influences from the Baal Sun cults and the prophecies as to how God is to deal with Israel. Isaiah is compared to Micah in the Appendix. It is likely that they were contemporaries or in a similar period.
We will place the prophets from Isaiah subsequently. The prophets Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel are subsequent to this period and are at the fall of Judah to the Babylonians.
The text in Obadiah appears to have been written at the time of Jeremiah although we are unsure of when this was written and the first verses of 1-9 draw on the prophecies stated in Jeremiah 49:7-22 especially at 49:9, 14-16 where it is verbatim (cf. Soncino). The work is dominated by the themes of justice and judgment for Edom.
As is pointed out in the commentary the struggles and hatred of Edom for his twin brother was experienced from the struggles in the womb and has continued on over history in a conflict not seen among brothers.
The conflicts occurred also with David both under Saul and later in his reign and down to
the war with the Hasmoneans ca.130 BCE and the prophets continually cry for vengeance against Edom or exult in its overthrow.
Amos condemns Edom because he kept his wrath against Israel forever (Amos 1:11).
(Other texts are noted by the Soncino as at Isa. ch. 34; Ezek. 35; Ps. 137:7; Lam. 4:21.)
We should assume that the text is subsequent to Jeremiah with Obadiah quoting him rather than the reverse.
Most scholars agree that the earliest possible date for the writing is 663 BCE at the fall of Thebes to Assyria. The latest possible date is the fall of Nineveh in 612 BCE. The Neo-Babylonian state was founded by Nabopolassar in 625 BCE and, mobilising the Babylonian forces, he marched up the Euphrates to Qablinu where he inflicted on the Assyrian Army a massive defeat. The Medes began attacking from the East and in 614 they took and sacked the city of Asshur. Nabopolassar made an alliance then with their king. Together the Medes and Chaldeans continued attacking until Nineveh fell in 612 BCE. 625 BCE is the most probable date for both Nahum and Zephaniah at the discovery of the Scroll of the Law ready for the restoration of Josiah in the 18th year of his reign. Thus it was at the beginning of the consolidation of the Babylonians which were to be used to destroy Assyria.
Bullinger believes that the villain of 1:11 is actually Rab-shekeh of 2Kings 18:26-28 the seemingly apostate Jew that became a senior officer or political officer of Sennacherib and he held a deadly animosity to Yahovah of Israel. Bullinger dated the writing to the 14th year of Hezekiah and thus in the year 704/3 BCE. This is probably too early but it is after the fall of Israel.
The name Obadiah means servant of the Lord. It is the name of twelve different people in the OT. We are unsure of who this prophet was.
It is unsure of when this was written and the first verses of 1-9 draw on the prophecies stated in Jeremiah 49:7-22 especially at 49:9, 14-16 where it is verbatim (cf. Soncino). The work is dominated by the themes of justice and judgment for Edom. Given this fact we must assume it was written after Jeremiah and probably before the discovery of the scroll in the Temple for the restoration. It was therefore written before Zephaniah.
From the above we should then consider Zephaniah. As we see from the commentary Zephaniah is listed ninth among the prophets of the OT canon. His genealogy is listed over four generations because the word of his ancestor in the KJV is the same word in Hebrew as Hezekiah and the authorities are confident he was the great-great grandson of Hezekiah King of Judah.
It is considered by E.A. Leslie (Interp. Dictionary of the Bible, Bk. IV, pp. 951ff.) that his work is dated by the activities of the Scythian invasion ca 630-625 BCE. The activities of the Baal and Mother Goddess cults of the Assyrian and Babylonian religions had entered Judah after the Assyrian expansion and Manasseh erected altars and chariots on the upper chambers of King Ahaz to worship the Sun and Mystery cults. They worshipped the sun, moon and all the signs of the zodiac and all the Host of heaven (2Kgs. 23:11ff).
It seems that Habakkuk prophesied shortly after the Temple scroll was discovered in the reign of Josiah in 621 BCE. Josiah’s restoration was short lived and under Jehoiakim the people began to practice idolatry again and lawlessness became rampant. The king disguised his weakness with tyranny and finally became subservient to Nebuchadnezzar (cf. 2Kgs. 14:1).
The Seder Olam teaches that Joel, Nahum and Habakkuk all prophesied in the days of Manasseh (cf. Soncino Intro., p. 211). That king was so wicked they allegedly omitted his name from their books. The most probable sequence begins after 621 and begins with the rise of the Chaldeans. Some think that it was perhaps between the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BCE and the fall of the Temple in 586 BCE; say ca. 600 BCE during the reign of Jehoiakim.
However, there is much more to this prophecy than is deduced by the rabbinical authorities. Their limitation to post Carchemish may be a limitation on the prophecy as we see from the conquests of Nabopolassar, 1st king of the Chaldean dynasty, and the Medes.
As we will see from the Commentary on Haggai, the name Haggai is derived from the word Hag or feast, or festival. The text is delivered on the New Moon, but Bullinger incorrectly states in his note that it refers to the full moon which is an error (cf. Companion Bible, fn. 1). It is the Sixth month or the month of Elul. It is in the Second year of Darius the Persian (Darius II) when the instruction to complete the Temple is given by Yahovah through Haggai.
This text is thus an instruction from Yahovah to Judah in tandem with the prophecy given through Zechariah.
The command is given in the First year of the 71st Jubilee. The complete structure of 70 Jubilees from the closure of Eden is complete with the Jubilee in 424/3 BCE, and the Temple is now to be reconstructed. This is the second command given by God but the work was stopped over a period from the decree of Cyrus down to Artaxerxes I who stopped construction, and it was ceased until the Second year of Darius the Persian (see the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 013)).
Timing of Darius and the Prophets
As we have seen from the commentaries on Haggai and on Zechariah, Darius II assumed the throne in late 424 or early 423 BCE. The decree was issued to commence construction in 422 BCE (Ezra 6:1 and 4:24) (i.e. his second year). The 70 weeks of years commences from this date. From Ezra 5 it appears that Haggai and Zechariah prophesy in 423 BCE and 422 BCE. 70 weeks of years commences from 423/22 BCE (i.e. first year of the new Jubilee period). Construction was completed in the sixth year of Darius the Persian (Ezra 6:15) in 3 Adar i.e. March 418 BCE. Darius dies in the period from the end 405 to the spring 404 (see the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 013): Bullinger’s chronology is wrong in this regard as are the relevant appendices).
This prophecy is thus tied to the reconstruction of the Temple and forms part of the Key of David system of prophecy and administration leading to the Last Days and the final reconstruction of the Temple (see Rule of the Kings Part III: Solomon and the Key of David (No. 282C)).
Section one occurs at the commencement of construction and ends in year 2 of the construction at the halfway point. The second section is then given over the last half of the construction. Each section thus covers two of the four years of the construction and is tied in prophecy to the restoration of Israel and Judah under Messiah, and the Church that is mentioned here in the text as ruling with Messiah at Jerusalem.
Haggai also is involved in prophecy over the period as we have noted.
Malachi was the last prophet and operated in the closing years of Ezra’s life. He lived at the time that Zechariah was killed.
Matthew 23:35 states that Zechariah was killed between the temple and the altar. He was untimely killed by the priests, stopping his work.
 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?  therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town,  that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechari'ah the son of Barachi'ah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
Christ is talking to the priests and this is a very significant point. It shows that Zechariah was killed in an untimely manner. Zechariah 1:7 shows that it was Zechari'ah the son of Berechi'ah, son of Iddo, the prophet. (See Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 4.5.4 for explanation, also Bullinger’s footnotes.) This is mentioned as it gives rise to a problem in Malachi and Zechariah.
In the last chapters of Zechariah there is a slight change in style and what is assumed is that Malachi took over duties and began to write and to finish off the last few chapters of Zechariah’s work and then closed the Canon with his book, which then became the last book of the Canon written. It was on the death of Alexander the Great which was concurrent at 323 BCE. Ezra the scribe died at the same time. The Sedum Olam Rabbah makes the point that they were contemporaneous in their deaths. Then they compiled the Old Testament Canon from the time of this death in 323 BCE. The books were listed and published and sent out by 321 BCE.
Malachi is one of the six undated of the Twelve so called “Minor” Prophets. His book shows that the Temple worship with its sacrifices was fully restored but the ceremonial formalism and the hypocrisy which culminated in the days of our Lord’s ministry was seen actively at work at the time of Malachi. No sooner were the restraining influences of Ezra and Nehemiah removed than the corruption began and war went on apace as evidenced by Malachi 1:7-8 and 3:8 etc.
Thus the Chronological list of the Twelve Prophets is:
Amos and Jonah perhaps contemporaneous.
Isaiah was also prophesying over this period. Modern scholars try to split Isaiah up into three texts and place one pre-exilic and the others post exilic. There is little doubt that he was writing somewhere before the fall of the Temple and during the exile but from Palestine. Rather than deal with the issue here we will deal with the datings and timings of Isaiah and the other prophets of the exile in their commentaries.
Bullinger’s notations re the Twelve Prophets.
The Prophets of the Old Testament are divided in the Hebrew Bible into TWO groups:
I. The “FORMER" Prophets (Joshua to Kings. Zech. 1. 4; 7. 7, 12). See note on p. 289, and Ap. 1. II; and therefore by inference,
II. The" LATTER" Prophets (Isaiah to Malachi) in unbroken sequence (Daniel being by man's arrangement and nomenclature in the Hagiographa). See Ap. 1. III
In all Hebrew manuscripts, and printed Hebrew Bibles, the Twelve Minor (or Shorter) Prophets are written, and printed in unbroken sequence; and have always been counted, and have come down to us, as one book.
Just as each Tribe was a separate entity in Israel, and yet all the twelve together formed one Nation, so these Twelve Prophets are combined together to form one book.
As the former (the twelve Tribes) are called "dodekaphulon" = twelve tribes (from dodeka = twelve, and phule = tribe), Luke 22. so ; Acts 26. 7 ; and James 1. 1 ; so the latter (the twelve prophets) are called “dodeka propheton" (Ecclesiasticus 49.10). In his praise of “famous men", the writer (Jesus, the son of Sirach) says: "and of the twelve prophets (ton dodeka propheton) let their memorial be blessed, and let their bones flourish again from out of their place ; for they comforted Jacob (i.e. the twelve-tribed Nation) and delivered them by assured hope."
The Hebrew text of this twelve-volumed book is divided into twenty-one Sedarim (or sections for public reading), and these read on without regard to the beginnings or endings of the separate books, thus showing that the twelve books are to be treated as one book. The twenty-one Sedarim are as follows :-
1. Hos. 1.1-15.
2. ″ 6.1-10.11.
3. ″ 10.12-14.6.
4. ″ 14.7 -Joel 2.26.
5. Joel 2.27-Amos 2.9.
6. Amos 2.10-5.13.
7. ″ 5.14-7.14.
8. ″ 7.15-Obad. 20.
9. Obad 21-Jonah 4.11.
10. Mic. 1.1-4.4.
11. ″ 4.5-7.19.
13. Hab. 1.1-3.19.
14. Zeph. 1.1-3.19.
15. ″ 3.20-Hag.2.22.
16. Hag. 2.23-Zech.4.1.
17. Zech. 4.2-6.13.
18. ″ 6.14-8.22.
19. ″ 8.23-11.17.
20. ″ 12.1-14.20.
21. ″ 14.21-Mal.4.6.
From the above twenty-one Sedarim it will be noticed that only four books begin with a Seder (Hosea, Micah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah) ; while seven others overlap, and include portions of two books (as in the case of Nos. 5: 8, 9, 12, 15, 16, and 21). See notes on pp. 366 and 616.
§ In seeking for the Structure of their Canonical order as a whole, it will be noted that six are dated (Hosea, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah), and the other six are not dated (Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Malachi). These twelve are again divided into two groups: nine before the Captivity and three after it. Of the dated prophecies, two contain the names of a King of Israel; two contain Kings of Judah only; and two contain Kings of Medo-Persia only.
Thus, three groups are formed, consisting of three books (1); six books (2); and three books (3).
As thus set out on p. 1206, further correspondences
will be noted as to the special and general scope of the several prophecies, as indicated by the respective index-letters.