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shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away. Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate."
No one can doubt, after reading these two quotations, that the Old Testament writers made the valley of Hinnom or tophet, an emblem of something. It is our duty candidly and carefully to consider what that thing is. I shall attempt briefly to do this. 1st, Then, it is evident that they made tophet an emblem of punishment, and of future punishment, but, not of future eternal punishment in another state of existence. This all will admit without any hesitation, 2d, It is equally evident that they made it an emblem of future temporal punishment to the Jews as a nation. Not a word is dropped, that this punishment was to be in a future. state of existence, or of eternal duration. No; it is a punishment of a temporal nature, in this world. It is a prediction of miseries to be endured by the Jews, for their sins. It is not mentioned as a punishment for wicked men generally, or for Jews and Gentiles indiscriminately. No; the Jews, and they as a nation, were to suffer this punishment. In this prediction they are reminded of the crimes they had committed against the Lord, in the valley of Hinnom, and it is used by the spirit of God, as an emblem of the punishment he was to inflict upon them. This is very apparent from the following verses in the above quoted passages, Jer. chap. vii. 20, 21. and xix. 4, 5. No man, we think, can read these predictions of the prophet, without recognising that our Lord, in the following texts, referred to the same punishment. "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the
blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except these days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled," Matth. xxiii. 35. and xxiv. 21, 22. Luke xxi. 22. Yes, the days referred to, were indeed the days of vengeance, and the things which God had long predicted, were fulfilled, and the above quoted predictions of Jeremiah, were surely of the number. But that we may see more particularly what Jeremiah made Gehenna or tophet an emblem of, it is necessary to point this out by going over the above predictions.
1st, Then, the prophet predicts, that the valley of Hinnom should be to the Jews the valley of slaughter, and that they should bury in tophet till there should be no place to bury. The verses which predict this, are Jer. vii. 32. and xix. 6, 11. That this referred to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, there can be no doubt. In proof of its exact fulfilment, I quote the following from M'Knight on Matth. chap. xxiv. He says:-"besides, in the progress of the siege, the number of the dead, and the stench arising from their unburied carcases, must have infected the air, and occasioned pestilence. For Josephus tells us that there were no less than six hundred thousand dead bodies carried out of the city, and suffered to lie unburied." It should be recollected, that we have seen that the valley of Hinnom was in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem.We see then this part of Jeremiah's prediction literally and minutely fulfilled.
2d, Jeremiah further predicts, "that their carcases also should be meat for the fowls of heaven and
for the beasts of the earth." See chap. vii. 33. and xix. 7. If the fowls of the air, and beasts of the field did not feed on their carcases, it was not for want of opportunity, for we have seen that six hundred thousand of their carcases lay unburied. This part of the prediction was also literally fulfilled.
3d, Jeremiah also predicts, that "in the straitness of the siege, they should eat the flesh of their children." See Jer. xix. 9. This was also fulfilled in the siege of Jerusalem, as Josephus, their historian, testifies.
4th, He further predicts, that "their land should be desolate," Jer. vii. 34. and xix. 8. This it soon became, after the destruction of the city and temple, and in this state in a great measure it remains until this day.
5th, Again, the prophet predicts, "that their city should be as tophet," chap. xix. 12. We have seen, that he said before," the valley of Hinnom should be to them the valley of slaughter, and that they should bury in tophet till there should be no place to bury." It is evident, from these parts of the prophet's prediction, that the city of Jerusalem should be as tophet or like unto tophet. Tophet is used as an emblem to describe the misery in which it was to be involved by the judgments of God. And why, it may be asked, was tophet made an emblem of those temporal miseries, rather than any thing else? To this I answer, that no temporal miseries since the world began, nor ever shall be, could equal them in severity, and no place known to a Jew could be more fitly chosen by the prophet as an emblem to represent them. I shall here quote the following account of the valley of Hinnom, or tophet, in addition to what may be gathered from simply reading the above passages in the Old Testament. Calmet, on the word tophet, thus writes:
"It is thought tophet was the butchery, or place of
slaughter at Jerusalem, lying south of the city, in the valley of the children of Hinnom. It is also said, that a constant fire was kept here, for burning the carcases, and other filth, brought hither from the city. Into the same place they cast the ashes and remains of the images of false gods, when they demolished their altars, and statues. Isai. xxx. 33. seems to allude to this custom, of burning dead carcases in tophet, when speaking of the defeat of the army of Sennacherib, he says; for tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large. The pile thereof is fire, and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone doth kindle it.'-Others think the name of tophet is given. to the valley of Hinnom, because of the sacrifices offered there to the god Moloch, by beat of drum, to drown the cries of the consuming children."---The idol god Moloch was worshipped in the valley of Hinnom. On the word Moloch, Calmet says:-"The rabbinsassure us, that the idol Moloch was of brass, sitting on a throne of the same metal, adorned with a royal crown, having the head of a calf, and his arms extended as if to embrace any one. When they would offer any children to him, they heated the statue within by a great fire; and when it was burning hot, they put the miserable victim within his arms, where it was soon consumed by the violence of the heat; and, that the cries of the children might not be heard, they made a great noise with drums, and other instruments, about the idol. Others say, that his arms were extended, and reaching toward the ground; so that when they put a child within his arms, it immediately fell into a great fire which was burning at the foot of the statue. Others relate that it was hollow, and had internally seven partitions, the first of which was appointed for meal or flour; in the second there were turtles, in the third an ewe, in the fourth a ram, in the
fifth a calf, in the sixth an ox, and in the seventh a child. All these were burned together, by heating the statue on the inside."
6th, The prophet adds, that "all the evil which the Lord had spoken he would bring upon them," chap. xix. 15. The following words of the apostle, 1 Thess. ii. 16. sufficiently explains this," for the wrath is come, or coming upon them to the uttermost." And the words of our Lord, quoted above,-" for these be the days of vengeance, that all things that are written may be fulfilled." Luke xxi. 22. This part of the prediction compared with these passages, show that the prophet did refer to the dreadful punishment which God brought upon the Jewish nation at the end of the world, or age, and described, Matth. xxiv. For "all the evil which the Lord had spoken" he did not bring upon them until the destruction of their city and temple by the Roman army.
Such are the principal things contained in this prophesy of Jeremiah. Whatever fulfilment these things had in the captivity, in the reign of Zedekiah, we think, the ultimate fulfilment of them took place in the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. It is then put beyond all fair debate, that Gehenna was made an emblem of punishment to the Jews; and nothing but ignorance of their own Scriptures could prevent their fully knowing this. It is made an emblem of temporal punishment, and a very striking emblem indeed. But that it was made an emblem of eternal punishment to the Jews, or any of the human race, does not appear from this prophesy of Jeremiah, or any other part of the Bible. We hope these things will be kept in view, as they have a very important bearing on what is to follow, in considering the passages about Gehenna in the New Testament. Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom, or tophet, is made by Jeremiah an emblem of the temporal calamities coming on the Jewish nation.