Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 7
(308) WE have learned in the preceding Book from the words of the prophets that God would come to men and would live among men on earth, and that the two chief signs of His presence would be the calling of the nations of the world to receive the true knowledge of God, and the ruin and desolation of the Jews through their unbelief in Him ; and we have investigated how the prophecies were fulfilled. (309) We will now attempt in this Seventh Book of The Proof of the Gospel to treat in due order of the way in which He says that He is to make His entrance into humanity. So then our present object is to see what kind of prophecies were made of God's coming among men, where it was predicted He should be horn, and from what race it was proclaimed that He should come.
(b) From Isaiah.
The Manner of the Lord's Stay among Men.
A prediction of the Jews' unbelief in Christ, and the sign (c) that was given them by the Lord. It was this : A Virgin giving birth to God, at Whose Birth the complete destruction of the Jewish race was foretold, the subjection of their land to foreign enemies, and the flourishing of that, which before was desert, under divine cultivation. Thus the Church of the Gentiles was shewn forth. As the great Evangelist St. John, teaching of our Lord and Saviour as the very Word of God full of supernatural power, begins his holy Gospel, by setting side by side His Divinity and His |49 Humanity in His presence among men, saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him," and adding after this, "and the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us"; so in the same strain the inspired prophet, about to proclaim God born of a Virgin, tells first the vision of His Divine glory, when he thus describes the Being of God:
"1. I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and exalted. And the house was full of his glory. 2. And Seraphim stood round about him: each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly. 3. And they (310) cried one to another and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord of Sabaoth, the whole earth is full of his glory."
And he adds also:
"8. And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people? And I said, Behold, Here am I. Send me. 9. And he said, Go and say to this people, Ye shall hear indeed, but shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but not perceive. 10. For this people's heart has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 11. And I said, How long, O Lord? And He said, Until the cities be deserted, by reason of their being uninhabited, and the houses by reason of there being no man."
What Lord may we say the prophet saw but Him Whom we have proved to have been seen and known by the fathers with Abraham in previous days? He, we have already learned, was both God and Lord, and Angel and Captain of the Lord's power as well. So then in approaching the account of His Coming to men the prophecy before us tells first of His divine kingdom, in which it says that the prophet saw Him sitting on a throne high and exalted. This is that throne which is mentioned in the Psalm of the Beloved, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever," on which the Most High Creator of the Universe, His God and Father, bade his Only-begotten sit, saying, "Sit thou on my right hand, until I |50 make thine enemies thy footstool." John the Evangelist supports my interpretation of this passage, when he quotes the words of Isaiah, where it is said, "For this people's heart is become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed," referring them to Christ, saying, "This said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and bare witness of him." The prophet then seeing our Saviour sitting on His Father's throne in the divine and glorious kingdom, and moved by the Holy Spirit, and being about to describe next His coming among men and His Birth of a Virgin, foretells that His knowledge and praise would be over all the earth, by introducing the song of the Seraphim (311) round His throne: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth, the whole earth is full of his glory. And who are the Seraphim around the Christ of God? Perhaps the choirs of angels and divine powers, perhaps the prophets and apostles. For the translation of Seraphim is "Rule of His Mouth." The prophets and apostles would bear this name, because from their mouth were the firstfruits of the preaching of salvation. So also the powers of the Holy Spirit are called (b) "Wings," as hiding the beginning and the end of the knowledge of God, as being secret and inconceivable in nature, but they reveal the central parts of his dispensation, since these alone are knowable by men; that which is beyond and that which comes after them is left unsaid. And the divine and heavenly powers are signified by the Seraphim, according to another rendering of the word, as (c) "fires." As it is said, "He maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire." These cry and shout one to another according to their power, shewing forth the holiness of the Being acclaimed as God, and, strangest of all, they do not acclaim His Godhead because heaven and the things of heaven alone are full of His glory, but because all the earth also shares in His power by His Coming from heaven to men as prophesied, in the prediction which follows, announcing His Birth of a Virgin and His glory spread through all the earth.
Lord of Sabaoth is translated "Lord of Powers." And He is the Captain of the Powers of the Lord, Whom also the divine powers salute as Lord of Sabaoth in the 23rd Psalm, |51 foretelling His return from earth to heaven: "Lift up your gates, ye princes, and be lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Powers, He is the King of glory."
In the Hebrew He is here again called Lord of Sabaoth. (312) And since He is the King of glory, and by His sojourn here the whole earth would be filled with His glory, both in the psalm and in the prophecy the fulfilment is rightly placed in the present: in the prophecy in the words, "The whole earth is full of his glory," in the psalm at the beginning where it says, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and all that dwell therein." After this prophecy, the prophet next proceeds to bear witness, that though the whole earth shall be full of His glory, yet the Jewish race shall not participate, where he says, "And the Lord said (that is to say, the Lord of Sabaoth in the vision), Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people? And I said, Behold, here am I. Send me. And He said, Go and say to this people, Ye shall hear, and shall not understand. And ye shall see and not perceive: For this people's heart is become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed, lest they should hear with their ears, and see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." Here he expressly foretells the opposition of the Jews to Him, and how they will see Him, and not understand Who He is; how they will hear Him, speaking and teaching them, but will be quite unable to grasp Who it is that speaks with them, or the new teaching He offers them. And John the Evangelist witnesses to the fulfilment of these words referring to Our Saviour, where he says, "Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they believed not on Him, that Isaiah the prophet's words might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
"Therefore they were not able to believe, because again Isaiah said, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, so that they should not see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and bare witness of Him." Thus the Evangelist |52 most certainly referred the Theophany in Isaiah to Christ, and to the Jews who did not receive the Lord that was seen by (313) the prophet according to the prediction about Him. To the prophet, then, who had seen the Lord of Sabaoth the oracle says that he is to tell the Jewish race, that they shall see Him at some future time, but shall not understand Who He is, and shall hear Him speak and teach among them, but shall not know Him, because of the hardening of their hearts. Then Isaiah, after the prophecy here quoted, describes in the course of his record the enemy's attack on Ahaz, who at that time held the kingdom of the Jewish people, and declares that the destruction of their visible (b) enemies will be at no distant date. And he shews that the defeat of their spiritual and unseen foes will be as complete, those daemons and unseen powers, of whom I treated at the beginning of this work, for having involved not only the Jewish race but the whole of mankind in every form of evil, and especially in godless idolatry; and that could only be achieved by the sojourn of the Word of God among men as prophesied, and His receiving His earthly tabernacle (c) from a pure Virgin. Why this was necessary, it is now the time to explain.
Concerning the Sojourn of Our Saviour.
Since the apostle said, "By man death entered into the world," it was surely essential that the victory over death should be achieved by man as well, and the body of death be shewn to be the body of life, and the reign of sin that before ruled in the mortal body be destroyed, so that it should no longer serve sin but righteousness. And since long ago man fell through the sins of the flesh, the standard of victory over his enemies was rightly upraised again by one that was sinless and undefiled of all evil. And who were these enemies, but they who of old had overcome the human race by the pleasures of the flesh? And moreover men required that the Word of God coming to dwell with |53 them, and to give holy teaching to their earthly ears, and to shew the power of God clearly to their eyes by signs and (314) wonders, should accomplish His work through our natural equipment, for it is only possible for men to see bodily things with their eyes, and to hear that which is spoken by the tongue. It was then in order that we might receive the knowledge of spiritual and unembodied things by our bodily senses that God the Word employed a speech that was akin and familiar to us, and shewed forth all the salvation given through Him to those who themselves could (b) hear and see His divine words and works. And this He did, not being like ourselves bound down by the limitations of the body, nor experiencing aught below or above His Divinity, nor hampered as a human soul is by the body so as to be unable to act as God, or to be omnipresent as the Word of God, and to fill all things and to extend through all: but He incurred no stain or corruption or pollution from the body He had taken, because, as the Word of God, He remained by nature without body, or substance, or flesh, and went through the whole dispensation of His Incarnation with divine power and in ways unknown to us, sharing (c) what belonged to Him, but not receiving what belonged to others. What, then, was there to fear in the dispensation of the Incarnation, since the undefiled was incapable of defilement, and the pure of being soiled by the flesh, and the passionless Word of God of corruption by the proper nature of the body, any more than the rays of the sun are harmed by touching corpses and all sorts of bodily things? Nay, on the contrary, the corruptible was transformed by the divine Word, and was made holy and immortal, even (d) as He willed: yea, and so it ministered to the divine purpose and works of the Spirit. And all this was done by a loving God and by the Word of God for the curing and salvation of all men, in accordance with the words of the prophets who had foretold from ancient days His wondrous Birth of a Virgin. And quite necessarily the prophet prefaces Christ's Birth of a Virgin by an exhortation to attention, crying aloud to his hearers, "If ye will not believe, neither (315) shall ye understand."
And then he adds the following words: |54
"10. And the Lord added to speak unto Ahaz saying, 11. Ask for thyself a sign from the Lord thy God in the depth or in the height. 12. And Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt God. 13. And he said, Hear now, house of David; is it a small thing to you to strive with man, and how do ye strive with the Lord? 14. Therefore the Lord shall give you a sign: Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel: 15. Butter and honey shall he eat, before he knows to choose the good and refuse the evil. 16. Wherefore before the child know good or evil, he does not obey wickedness, that he should choose the good. And the earth shall be forsaken, on account of that which thou fearest, of her two kings."
Such is the prophecy. But the opening of the prophecy (c) is worthy of our study, which bears witness to those that read it, "If ye do not believe, neither will ye understand." And it is above all necessary to note that the words shew that its readers need not only intellect but faith, and not only faith but intellect. Hence the Jews who do not believe in Christ, though they are even now hearers of these words, have not even yet understood Him of Whom the prophecy was given, so that in their case the prediction has its primary fulfilment. For though they hear daily with their ears the prophecies about Christ, they hear them not (d) with the ears of their mind. And the sole cause of their ignorance is unbelief, as the prophecy truly reveals of them and to them. For it says, "If ye will not believe, neither shall ye understand."
And if they say that she who conceived is called not a virgin but a young woman in Scripture (for so it is said it is explained among them) what worthy sign of the promise of God, we answer, would this be, if like all women after union with a man a young woman were naturally to conceive? And how could he that were born of her be God? And not simply God, but "God with us"? For that is the meaning of Emmanuel, which name it says the child is to be called. "For behold a virgin," it says, "shall conceive (316) and bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel, which is interpreted God with us." Where would be |55 God's struggle, where His labour and difficulty, if a woman were to bring forth in the accustomed manner?
For in our versions translated by the Seventy, men of Hebrew race, experts in the accuracy of their knowledge of their national language, we find: "Is it a small thing for you to contend with man? And how will ye contend with God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, who (b) shall be called God with us." (For as I said this is the meaning of Emmanuel.) And in the versions of the Jews according to the transcript of Aquila [Aquila was a proselyte, and not a Jew by birth] we have a rendering to the same effect, "Hear then, house of David; is it a small thing with you to weary men that ye would weary my God also? Therefore He will give you this sign: Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and thou shalt call His name Emmanuel." In Symmachus it stands thus— [Symmachus is said to have been an Ebionite. There was a sect of the Jews so designated said to have believed in Christ, to which Symmachus belonged, and his rendering is as follows]—"Hear, house of David, is it not enough for you to weary men, that ye weary my God? "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you this sign: "Behold a young woman conceives and bears a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel." For since the hardness of the Jewish (d) character and their disinclination for holiness caused sweat and toil, and no common labour and struggle to the prophets of old time, therefore he says, "Is it not enough for you to weary the prophets of God, and to contend with men: but now will ye even weary my God, and contend even with my God also?" Such is Theodotion's translation. Thus the prophet calls the God, Who is like to be wearied |56 and challenged to contend, his own God, and not the God of those whom he addresses, which he could hardly do if he referred to the Supreme God of the Jews, among whom it had been handed down from their Fathers that they must (317) preserve the worship of God the Creator of all things. And what could the contest and labour or the toil of this God in the prophecy refer to but His entry by human birth, as I and the Septuagint interpret it, of a virgin, or even according to the current Jewish rendering, of a young woman? For you will find in Moses the phrase "young woman "used of one who is undoubtedly a virgin, at least he uses the word of one who has been violated by one person after her betrothal to another.
(b) But also Emmanuel, the child of the Virgin, is to be endowed with more than human power, He is to choose the good before He knows evil, and to refuse evil in choosing the good: and this not in manhood but in childhood. Therefore it runs, "Before the child knows good or evil, he shall refuse evil in choosing the good," which shews that He is completely immune from evil. And He (c) bears a greater than any human name, God with us. And this is why the sign connected with Him is said to have depth, and also height: depth, by reason of His descent to humanity, and His presence here even unto death: height, by reason of the restitution of His divine glory from the depth, or because of the divine nature of His pre-existence. Emmanuel can only be He Who has already |57 been proved to be God the Lord, Who was seen by Abraham in human shape. And if the Jews refer the prophecy to Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, saying that his birth was thus (d) predicted to his father, we answer that Hezekiah was not God with us, nor was any sign shewn forth in him of a divine nature. Nor was there any divine struggle or labour attendant on his birth. Hezekiah, moreover, can be shewn to be excluded by the date of the prophecy. For this prophecy was given about future events when his father Ahaz was actually king, whereas Hezekiah is known to have been born before Ahaz came to the throne. And if the prophecy we are considering has no reference to him, it is still further from referring to any other Jew who lived after its date, except to the birth of the true Emmanuel, that is, (318) God born with us, and to the sojourn among men of our Saviour the Word of God. For the land of the Jews was left desolate by the loss of its two kings, as the oracle said would come to pass as follows: "The land shall be deserted from the face of two kings"; and this actually and literally took place. For in the time of King Ahaz and Isaiah son of Amos at the date of this prophecy, the king of Syria in Damascus, and the king of Israel in Samaria, not the king (b) who ruled at Jerusalem, but the king of the multitude of Jews who revolted from the law of God, made a compact one with another, and besieged them that were under the sovereignty of David's successors. The prophecy foretells the destruction of both these kings, both the Jew and the one of foreign race, who had combined together against the Lord's people, and says that they will swiftly be severed and give up the war: and that their kingdom and succession (c) will be completely destroyed and extinguished after the birth of Him who is foretold as "God with us."
Now recognize at what date the kingdoms of Damascus and Judaea both ceased to exist, and at what period the land of the Jews was left without a king, as well as the land of the Damascenes, once so powerful, formerly the great overlord of all Syria. For the probability is that at the time of their destruction Emmanuel would be born, and He that was foretold would come. If we to-day could see the (d) kingdoms referred to still in existence, it would be vain to inquire further, we could only extend our hopes into the future; but if their destruction is actually evident, so that |58 our time sees no kingdom either of Damascus or of Judaea, it is clear that the prophecy has been fulfilled which said, "And the land shall be deserted from the face of two kings, whom thou fearest, from their face,"—kings being used for "kingdoms." For Symmachus says, "The land shall be left, from which you suffer ill, by the face of her two kings." And Aquila, "The land shall be left, which thou disdainest, from the face of her two kings." And Theodotion translates thus, "The land shall be left, which thou hatest, from the face of her two kings." Do you see how it is prophesied that the land shall be left kingless? What land, but that of Damascus, and that of Israel? For the kings to whom the prophecy refers ruled these lands. It was their lands that Ahaz despised or hated, wearied and suffering under their attacks. When then did they fall? For if this part of the prophecy was fulfilled, the foregoing part must have also taken place, and this was, that a Virgin should bear "God with us."
Now if we inquire of history it is abundantly clear that the line of kings of Damascus was uninterrupted up to the date of the appearance of our Saviour Jesus Christ. The holy apostle mentions Aretas, King of Damascus, and the kingship of the Jews continued untouched even until then, though it was irregular: for Herod and his successors in the time of our Saviour did not inherit the throne as being of David's line.
And it was after His Appearing, and the preaching of the Gospel of the Virgin's Son to all mankind, that the land was "left of the face of two kings." For from that date by the rule of the Roman Emperor over all nations, all local dominion in city and state ceased, and the prophecy before us in common with the others was fulfilled. |59
Such was the literal fulfilment. But the prophecy also shews figuratively the stability, the calmness and peace of every soul, who receives the God that was born, Emmanuel Himself. For now that the one Christ, and the Word (d) proclaimed by Him, rule as kings over the souls of men, the old enemies have been put to flight, the two forms of sin, the one that leads men into idolatry and into a diversity of varied beliefs, the other that tempts them to moral ruin. Of these I say the earthly kings of old above-named were symbols. Of these the king of Damascus was the picture of the Gentile errors with regard to idols. And the other, of those who had rebelled from Jerusalem, that is to say from the worship of God according to the Law.
That we should understand the passage figuratively can (320) also be seen from what follows, where it is prophesied that in the time of Emmanuel certain flies and bees will attack the Jews, some from Egypt, some from Assyria, and that a man will shave their head and feet and beard, and that a man will nourish a heifer and two sheep, and other things destined to happen at one and the same time, which it is impossible to understand literally, but only figuratively. (b)
This, then, is so. And the proof that the Scripture before us foretold the manner of the Birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, is supported by the Evangelist, who wrote:
"18. The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise. When his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19. And Joseph her husband being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20. And while he thus intended, behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him saying, Joseph, Son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21. And she shall bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins. 22. And all this was done that the word of the Lord spoken by the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel, which is being interpreted, God with us." |60
And thus according to our teaching the reality of the divine foreknowledge is confirmed by the course of events, otherwise the truth of the prophecy could not have been shewn. Let us now consider the important things which it is said in the next part of the prophecy will happen in that day, that is to say at the time of Christ's appearing.
(321 ) [Passage quoted, Isa. vii. 18-25.]
Such are the events included by this prophecy in its prediction of the day of Emmanuel. I will now go through the revelations they give us, epitomizing their meaning. "The Lord," it says, "will hiss for flies in that day, which shall rule over part of the river of Egypt, and for the bee which is in the land of the Assyrians."
The souls of the men who before worshipped idols, or the impure and horrid powers, I think, are called flies, and flies of Egypt, as delighting in sacrifices and the blood of idols. And the bee is an animal armed with a sting, that knows how to rule and to obey and to fight, and can defend itself and wound its enemies. These two then combining together, the one from the land of the Rulers (which is the meaning of "Assyrians") the other from the land of the idolaters, will be bidden, it says, as by the hissing of the Lord God of the Universe, to rule the whole of Judaea, because of their unbelief in Christ, in the day of Emmanuel. And it means by this that a foreign military power will occupy Jerusalem and Judaea. This too our Saviour foretold more definitely, when He said, "And Jerusalem shall be trodden by the Gentiles." This was fulfilled not long after our Saviour spoke, when the Romans took the city, and settled strangers there, and established them on its site.
It is also said that the same Lord will shave with the razor of the Assyrian king, that is to say with the discipline of the Prince of this world, the head and the feet and the beard of what can only mean the Jewish race. That is to say He will take away their order and beauty by the might (322) of some universal Empire, He disguises the Romans in this way. For I believe that under the name of Assyrians he means the rule of races, that gain Empire at each period |61 of history, because Assyrians in Hebrew means Rulers. And the Romans are now such Rulers.
And in truth the God of the Universe has taken away all the glory of the Jews, which was as their hair, and all their manhood, signified by their beard and the hairs of their feet, by means of the Roman razor, that is to say their (b) statecraft and military power. And it was only after the Birth of our Saviour, Emmanuel Himself, that God took away all their glory through the Roman rule.
Aquila translates, "By the kingdom of Assyria," for "of the king of Assyria," Theodotion and Symmachus, "By the king of the Assyrians," making it clear that there is no threat to shave the head of the king of Assyria, but that by means of his razor and by means of the king of Assyria the things prophesied will fall on the Jewish nation. And the event (c) justified the prophecy. And one could note carefully at leisure many other sayings in the prophecies apparently directed against the Assyrians, which are quite inapplicable to them, since they refer to the rule of the dominant nation at some particular period. We have thus already seen the Persians called Assyrians by the Hebrews; and so we may conclude that the prophecy here refers to the Roman Empire. For (d) we see them as Rulers under the Rule of God in the period after our Saviour's coming. Yet no one must understand me to say that every reference to the Assyrians in Holy Scripture refers to the Romans; that would be foolish and absurd. But I will shew in the proper place that there are certain prophecies concerned with the witness to Christ, which are to be understood of the Romans under the name of Assyrians, since the meaning of the word always implies the dominant Power of an epoch.
For my part, and I have thoroughly reasoned out the grounds of my opinion, I am persuaded that the only (323) reason why the prophetic writings abstain from naming the Romans is that the teaching of our Saviour Jesus Christ was going to shine throughout the Roman Empire on all mankind, and that the books of the prophets would be popular in Rome itself, and among all the nations under Roman rule. It was therefore to prevent any offence being taken by the rulers of the Empire from a too clear reference to them, that the prophecy was cloaked in riddles, in many (b) other contexts, notably in the visions of Daniel, just as in |62 the prophecy we are considering, in which it calls them Assyrians, meaning Rulers.
It is then with their razor that it prophesies that after the birth of Emmanuel the whole order of the Jews will be abolished.
And also on that day, I mean the day of Emmanuel, or of Christ's Appearing, "A man, it says, will rear a heifer, and two sheep. And it shall come to pass from the abundance of milk, he that is left on the land shall eat butter and honey." By this he suggests the hunger and extreme penury of the Jews, not enjoying their natural food of corn, neither ploughing, sowing, nor reaping, possessing no flocks of sheep nor herds of cattle, but only possessing two sheep and a heifer to provide them with milk. Or perhaps he means figuratively, that those Jews left in the land, the choir of apostles and evangelists of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, each one of whom was a remnant according to the election of grace, and therefore called "he that is left" in the land, will rear a heifer and two sheep, three orders in each church, one of rulers, two of subordinates, since the Church of Christ's people is divided into two divisions, the faithful, and those not yet admitted to the laver of regeneration, to whom the holy apostle says, "I have fed you with milk, not with strong meat"; while he aptly calls those who are in a state of greater perfection a heifer, because they are the offspring of the more perfect bulls, like the apostle himself, who says of his own labour and that of his fellow-workers, "Does God take care for oxen, or is this said altogether for our sakes?" Thus the whole order of the leaders of the Church is called a heifer, for they are occupied in ploughing and sowing the souls of men, being the offspring of the ways and teaching of the apostles, who are said so to abound in virtue, that they provide of their fruitfulness fruitful and spiritual milk in elementary teaching, and nourish many besides themselves.
And it predicts also of those that shall be left in the land, that something else will happen in that day, that is to say at the time of Emmanuel's presence. What is it? Every place, it says, of the people of the Circumcision, where there were 1000 vines for 1000 shekels, shall be dry and thorny. For with arrow and bow they shall come there |63 (obviously the enemy) and the land shall be dry and thorny.
And note that everything the prophecy predicts will fall on the Jewish race in the day of Emmanuel, I mean at the time when the spiritual light of our Saviour's gifts shines on all men. He says that unclean and hostile powers which worked of old among the Gentiles, in Egypt and the land of the Assyrians, when the Lord hisses, and as it were urges them on and encourages them, will come upon their land, because they deserved the visitation. And it says that these powers will rest in valleys, and in caves of the rocks, in caverns, and in all their clefts, both figuratively understood of their souls, their bodily senses, their reason, and their divided minds, and directly in a literal sense of the whole country. Who would not wonder, when he sees how enemies have taken possession of every part of Judaea, and how foreigners and idolaters rest in all their cities and country? And the prophecy says that He will not only treat them thus, but will shave their head, the hairs of their feet and their beard, that is to say the whole order that of old was theirs, with the razor of the king of the Assyrians, as I have interpreted him.
At the same day and at the same time he threatens that he will plunge them into an extreme poverty of godly riches, so that they are devoid of rational bread, and of solid spiritual food, and are all content to be nourished with the milk of infants, and with elementary teaching. And to crown all, their vines will be dry. For when, as the same prophet says, their farmer and master expected them to bring forth a bunch of grapes, and they brought forth thorns, and not justice, but a cry, it is said that he will take away his mound and destroy the wall, and turn the vineyard into a dry place, and will deliver it to enemies, who, he says, will come there with arrow and bow, receiving their authority from God, Who delivers it to them not unjustly, but most justly, because all their land is become dry and thorny. Therefore, then, since they have made themselves dry and thorny, men will come, he says, with arrow and bow, with authority against them. Wonder not if this is expressed in dark and riddling figures. For I have already attributed the cause of such economy of Scripture to the desire to hide the final destruction of the |64 Jewish race, so that they might preserve the Scriptures for our benefit and use. For if the prophets had openly predicted destruction for them, and prosperity for the Gentiles, none of the Jews would have loved them, but they would have destroyed their writings as hostile and opposed to them, and it would have been impossible for us Gentiles to have made use of the prophetic evidence about our Saviour and ourselves. But yet when all this shall have happened to the Jewish race in Emmanuel's day, according to my interpretation of the prophecy, a scanty remnant of them is said to be left, of which the apostle says: "There was a remnant according to the election of grace." This it is surely, which shall rear a red heifer and two sheep, and from the abundance of their milk feed on butter and honey. And I have shewed according to my second interpretation that this describes the whole apostolic choir of the disciples of our Saviour Jesus Christ. But as those who are left behind are thus described in the prophecy, so also when the whole land of the Jewish nation and their vineyard has been transformed into sand and thorns, and therefore delivered to the enemy, it is prophesied in direct opposition to this that every arable (326) mountain shall be ploughed. And I think that the Church of our Saviour Jesus Christ is thus suggested, of which He also says: "A city set on a hill cannot be hid." For I think that the exalted, high, and lofty constitution of the Church is here called a mountain. It is, then, this arable mountain that it says shall be ploughed, so that no fear may attack it, and that it shall be so far changed from its former desolation, aridity, and thorns, as to be fit for "a pasture for sheep, and a place for cattle to tread."
(b) And we can remember, that the Church of Christ which of old was dry and thorny, has undergone by His grace such a transformation, that it grows such a crop of the grass and fodder of spiritual harvest, that the sheeplike and simpler souls can delight in it, and that those who have reached a more perfect development, here called bulls, can plough and till it, as I shewed that the holy apostle taught, when he said:
"Doth God take care for oxen, or doth he say it altogether for your sakes? For your sakes was it |65 written, that he that plougheth should plough in hope, (c) and he that harroweth in hope to share therein."
Thus the land that was before desert and dry has been transformed after the coming of Christ, so that it is fit for those, whom I understand as the bulls, to cultivate suitably.
And notice how the Virgin Birth is prophesied under the same figure, by which at the same time the prophecy says that the land that of old bore fruit worth a thousand shekels will be dry and thorny, and all the land because it is so dry and thorny will be delivered to those that attack it with (d) arrow and bow; while to every mountain the opposite will happen. They will be transformed from their previous dry and thorny state into a pasture of flocks and a place for cattle to tread, and no fear shall enter there. Whereby I think our Saviour's Virgin Birth is clearly meant, and all that happened after it both to the whole Jewish community and to the other nations. The prophecy plainly foretells the change of each of these divisions to the opposite of what they were before, the change of the Jewish nations from better to worse, and the change of the Gentile Church from its old desolation to a divine fruit-fulness, both of which are to be brought to pass according to the prophecy at the same time, that of the appearance of (327) Emmanuel, and are shewn to have actually been fulfilled after our Saviour's birth, and at no other time, both by the events in Jewish history which have been clearly told, and by the existence of the Gentile Church.
For if after the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ Himself the kingdoms of Damascus and Judaea had not come to an end, and if we could not see with our own eyes their lands released from them, and given over to foreign idolaters to inhabit; and, moreover, if the old (b) stately beauty of their very Temple had not become sand and thorns, and if no impure idolaters had come as their enemies to attack them with bow and arrow, urged on by the Lord Himself from abroad, and stayed in their country making every place and every city their own; and on the other side, if by the teaching of our Saviour no nations brought to believe in Him had changed from the sands |66 and thorns of their ancient barrenness and brought forth a holy and godly spiritual harvest; and again, if they who saw Christ with their eyes had not rejected Him, if they who heard Him speak had not turned a deaf ear to Him, and if the rest of the prophecy could not be proved to have been most exactly fulfilled from the days of Jesus our Saviour—then He would not be the subject of the prophecy. But if the fulfilment of the prophecies is. as the saying is, clear to a blind man, as only brought to pass from the period of His coming, why need we any longer be in doubt about the Virgin Birth, or refuse by wise reasoning to base our belief in that which was the beginning of this matter, on the evidence of what we can even now see? And what do we even now see, but the Jews' disbelief in Him, so clearly fulfilling the oracle, which said: "Hearing ye shall hear and not understand, and seeing ye shall see and not perceive, for the heart of this people is waxed hard," and the siege of Jerusalem, and the total desolation of their ancient Temple, and the settling of foreign races on their land, enslaving them with stings, that is to say with harsh enactments—for this is meant by the figures of the flies and bees—and above all the transformation of the heathen world from its former desolation into the field of God. Who would not be struck with astonishment at these spectacles? And who would not agree that the prediction is truly inspired, when he heard that these words were consigned to books and taken care of by our ancestors a thousand years ago, and only brought to a fulfilment after our Saviour's coming? If, then, the prediction was wonderful, and the result of the prediction yet more wonderful, and beyond all reason, why should we disbelieve that the actual entrance of Him that was foretold was allotted a miraculous and superhuman kind of birth, especially as the clear evidence of the other miracles, as marvellous (as the Birth itself) in their sequence from that Birth compels us to accept the evidence of the other wonders connected with Him. |67
But following this, after, For a pasture of flocks, and a place for cattle to tread, a second prediction is attached, to the foregoing: "And the Lord said to me, Take a book (c) for thyself," which we will consider, when I have quoted it.
From the same.
Concerning a New Writing, that is to say the New Covenant; a Prophetess is said to conceive of the Holy Spirit and bear a Son, Who, conquering Foes and Enemies, shall be rejected by the Jews, and will be a Saviour to the Gentiles. And what the Nation of the Jews will suffer after their Disbelief in Him, is shewn at the Same Time.
[Passage quoted, Isa. viii. 1-4.]
This prophecy is connected with the preceding. For she that was there called a Virgin, and was said to bear God with us, is here called a Prophetess. And if it be asked whence she should conceive being unmarried, the prophecy now gives teaching on this point, for it says: "And I went in to the prophetess; and she conceived and bare a son." This must be understood of the Holy Spirit, under Whose Divine influence the prophet spoke. The Holy Spirit then Himself confesses that He went in to the prophetess: and this is clearly fulfilled in the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, when:
"The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man, whose name was Joseph, of the house and lineage of David. And he said to her, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women."
"Fear not, for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bear a son, and shall call his name Jesus. And Mary said, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" He answered, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Wherefore the holy thing that is born shall be called Son of God." |68
(d) And in the preceding prophecy, coincident with the birth of Emmanuel, before the Child knows good or evil, it is said that the land is forsaken by the two kings that are attacking it, namely the kings of Samaria and Damascus; while in this prophecy it says that before the Child calls on His father or mother, He shall take the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria, whose kings He previously prophesied would be destroyed at the birth of Emmanuel.
I have already pointed out that actually in the time of Ahaz two kings made a covenant and attacked those ruled by David's successors; the one, ruler of the idolatrous Gentiles of Damascus; the other, king of the Jewish people in the city of Palestine called Samaria, which we (330) call Sebaste. Concerning whom God said to Ahaz: "Fear not, let thy heart not be sick, for these two smoking firebrands." And he foretells that the destruction of these men will be immediate, and proceeds to prophesy that on the birth of God with us, both their kingdoms will be utterly extinguished and destroyed. And we know from history that until the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ (b) the kingdoms of Judaea and Damascus continued, but that after His appearance to all men, they ceased in accordance with the prophecy, for the Roman Empire absorbed them concurrently with the preaching of our Saviour.
And after this literal prediction the prophecy passes to a figurative and generally more spiritual form of revelation, and it understands two ranks of invisible enemies and hostile daemons, warring in different ways against humanity, one active always and everywhere in promoting idolatry and false beliefs among mankind, the other occasioning the (c) corruption of morals. And taking the type of idolatrous error in the king of Damascus, and of the decline of the pure and healthy life in the king of Samaria, it says that the earth, meaning thereby the men who inhabit it, will only be released from their power, when God appears on earth as Emmanuel. When He has shone forth and ruled over the soul of man, none of the old tyrants will be left. Thus, then, you will understand that here it refers to the (d) same beings, when it says: "He will take the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria," for our Saviour Jesus Christ's power conquers completely all our unseen |69 enemies, who for long ages besieged all men with their aforesaid godless and harmful activities. And in the literal sense as well you may see the power of Damascus destroyed concurrently with the Birth and appearance of our Saviour, and the spoils of Samaria taken, that is to say their kingdoms, which continued up to the time stated, but in the fulfilment of the divine prediction have ceased from then till now. (331)
Some say, interpreting otherwise, that the Magi, who came from the East to worship Christ, the young Child, are meant by the "power of Damascus": and you might say more universally that all who have rejected godless, polytheistic idolatry, and obeyed the word of Christ, especially if they be furnished with this world's reason and wisdom, are those meant by the "power of Damascus." And by the "spoils of Samaria" you will in this case understand our Saviour's Jewish apostles and disciples, (b) whom as it were He took as His spoils from the hostile Jews who attacked Him, and armed for the conflict with the king of the Assyrians, by whom again the Prince of this world is figuratively meant. But as Aquila has translated more clearly: "The adversary of the king of the Assyrians" by "In the face of the king of the Assyrians,'' it is worth considering whether here the Roman Empire is not meant, if the translation given a little before of "Assyrians" as "rulers or ruled" be correct. As then (c) here, also, the king of the Assyrians is connected with the appearing of our Saviour, it is probable that here also the Roman Empire is intended, through their being directed by God to subject the nations to themselves. It is therefore prophesied that the child that is born will take the power of Damascus, and the spoils of Samaria, and will deliver them against the face of the Assyrians, and before the eyes of those ruled by God, and that He will do this at the time of His Birth, directing the fate of humanity with secret divine power, while physically still a babe. (d)
The prophet commands all this to be delivered in a new and great book in the writing of a man, by which is meant the new Covenant. And he adds as witnesses of his sayings a priest and a prophet: his word thus teaching us, of the necessity of using in Christian evidences the witness of the sacrificial system in the law, and of the prophets who |70 succeeded it; and he desires, for other reasons, that there should be eye-witnesses of the Child's birth, that we might be able to understand what is prophesied of Him. For it was said above: "For if ye will not believe, neither will ye understand," and (he writes) that the one should have (332) "the Light of God" (this is the meaning of Uriah), and that the other being "the Son of Blessing" should bear the "memory of God in himself" (this is the meaning of Zachariah son of Barachiah).
Such is my exposition of the passages, and if any of the Jews does not agree with me, let him point out to me who at any time was born in this nation as Emmanuel, and how the prophet, came in to the prophetess, and who she was, and how she conceived immediately, and who was the child that was born of the prophetess, whom the Lord (b) Himself named: "Take the spoil speedily, keenly rob," and why the child was so called. They must shew, too, that the child, before he called on his father and mother, took the power of Damascus, and the spoils of Samaria against the king of the Assyrians. For we, understanding these sayings both literally and figuratively, hold that they were fulfilled in our Saviour's Birth, shewing that you must deal with the prophecies first in their literal and (c) obvious sense, and next allegorically. Immediately after the aforesaid words another prophecy follows in disguised language.
[Passage quoted, Isa. viii. 5-8.]
It is clear that the only way to preserve the sense of this passage is to explain it figuratively. Thus it means by the water of Siloam that goes softly, the Gospel teaching of the word of salvation. For Siloam means "sent." And this would be God the Word, sent by the Father, of Whom Moses also says, A ruler shall not fail from Juda, nor a prince from his loins, until he come for whom it is stored up, and he is the expectation of nations. For instead for whom it is stored up, the Hebrew has "Siloam," the word (333) of prophecy using the same word Siloam there and here, which means "the one that is sent."
And Raashim again was king of the idolatrous Gentiles in Damascus, as was also the son of Romelias of the Jews |71 in Samaria who deserted the Jewish worship of their ancestors. And so God threatens that on those who will not accept Siloam, that is to say Emmanuel, who is sent to them, and the Son born of the prophetess, and His pleasant and fruitful Word, but reject it, though it flows softly and (b) gently, and choose for their own selves the prince of idolatrous Gentiles or the leaders of the apostasy of God's people, He will bring the strong and full flood of the river, which the word of the prophecy interprets for us to be the king of the Assyrians: meaning here again either figuratively the Prince of this world, or the power of Rome actually dominant, to which they were delivered who rejected the said water of Siloam that went softly, and (c) embraced beliefs utterly hostile to good teaching. At once surely and without delay on those who rejected the Gospel of our Saviour, and refused the water of Siloam that went softly, the Roman army came under God's direction through all their valleys, trod down all their walls, took away from Judaea every man who could raise his head, or was able to do anything at all, and so great was their camp that it filled the whole breadth of Judrea. (d)
So the prophecy was literally fulfilled against them. Learn why it was if you desire to know. Because Emmanuel, God with us, the Child of the Virgin, was not with them, for if they had had Him, they would not have suffered thus. Wherefore the prophet next cries to the Gentiles, saying, "Emmanuel, God with us: know ye nations and yield." And this I have interpreted, so as to shew that most prophecies can be explained either literally or figuratively. Hence we must proceed to consider the remainder of the prophecy before us in both ways. And if the Jews say that even now (334) we are to expect the fulfilment in the future, expecting these things to be accomplished actually and literally by the Christ they look for, let us ask them, how he that is to come will take the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria against the king of the Assyrians, inasmuch as Samaria at the present time is destroyed, and no longer exists, and the power that bore the name of Damascus is abolished, and so is the Assyrian Empire, which the Medes (b) and Persians destroyed and superseded between them? And as none of these people hold empire, how is it possible to look for their destruction in the future? |72
Neither is it possible to claim that they were fulfilled at any other time in the distant past. No Hebrew sprung from the union of a prophetess with the prophet Isaiah ever (c) took the spoils of Samaria and the power of Damascus warring against the king of Assyria, as the literal sense would imply. So that everything compels us to agree that the fulfilment has only been in the way I have described, and at no other time than that of the appearance of Jesus our Saviour, in Whose day I have proved that the things aforesaid were fulfilled.
And there was therefore written according to the prophecy on His appearing a new book, the word of the new Covenant containing the birth of the Son of the prophetess, (d) Who also has literally by secret and divine power delivered the kingly power of both Damascus and Samaria and their spoils as explained by me into the hands of the Roman Empire: and figuratively of course as well, He has drawn up His Jewish disciples, claiming them as it were for His spoils, girding them with arms of spiritual strength, against the face of the said king of the Assyrians, and made them into heavy-armed soldiers, as His own soldiers. But those who refused the fruitful and life-giving water of His own teaching, which goes softly, and preferred what is hostile and opposed to God, He has handed over to the king of (335) the Assyrians, by whom they are even now enslaved. For verily He has gone up all their valleys, and all their walls, and taken away from Judaea every ruler and king, denominated "head," and every one capable of doing anything, with the result that from that time to this they have possessed no head, no able man of God, as were their ancient saints, whether eminent for prophecy, or even for righteousness and godliness.
And it is evident that their whole country is even now (b) subject to their enemies, and that this was all completed when Emmanuel came. Thus, then, the Hebrew Scriptures contain the double message that Emmanuel would be rejected by the Jews and cause their great miseries, and that He would be accepted by us Gentiles and prove Himself our source of salvation and of the knowledge of God. Wherefore the next saying is, "God is with us: know ye Gentiles and yield." How truly do we yield, we Gentiles that believe on Him, vanquished by the truth and power of Him |73 Who is God with us, and conquered we obey Him (c) everywhere alike, even though we dwell in the very ends of the earth, according to the prophecy which says, "Obey even at the ends of the earth." Yet though we obey Him and hear His call, the prophecy as it proceeds must refer to those nations that do not yet believe, saying, "Ye that were strong be vanquished. For if ye again be strong, ye shall again be vanquished, and whatever word ye take, shall not remain among you, for God is with us. Thus saith the Lord to them that disbelieve with strong hand." (d)
In which words the prophecy says clearly to them that are restive under and rebel against Christ's teaching and put no trust in His strong hand, that they will have no strength if they attempt to war with the God with us, and that whatever counsel they take against Him shall not abide with them, because Emmanuel is with us, and it is easy for us who see the threats directed against us and the attacks of rulers in these days, to realize the truth of the conclusion, and that they can never carry out their threats because God is with us. (336)
From the same.
That tlie Son to be Born of the Virgin prophesied of, or Prophetess, is Called God, Angel of Great Counsel, and by Other Strange Names, and that His Birth is the Occasion of the Light of Holiness to the Gentiles.
[Passage quoted, Isa. ix. 1-7.]
This is the third prophecy of the Child, making known the same thing in different ways. As our present object is to exhibit the manner of God's coming to men, note the number of ways in which He is shewn forth. First, He was set before us under the name of Emmanuel, God born of a Virgin; secondly, as the Child of the prophetess and the Holy Spirit, being none other than the before-named; thirdly, in the present passage, being one and the same as in the former, wherein His Name is said to be, according to the Septuagint, Angel of Great Counsel, and as some of |74 the copies have, "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, (337) Potentate, Prince of Peace, Father of the World to Come." In the Hebrew, as Aquila says:
"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and a measure was upon his shoulders. And his name was called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty, Powerful, Father, even Prince of Peace, and of his peace there is no end."
And as Symmachus:
"For a youth is given to us, a son is given us; and his instructions shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Miraculous, Counselling, Strong, Powerful, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, and of his (b) peace there is no end."
In the Septuagint it is not simply Angel, but that he should be born as Angel of Great Counsel, and Wonderful Counsellor, and Mighty God, and Potentate, and Prince of Peace, and Father of the World to Come, and it was there prophesied that He should be a Child. He is referred to that was previously called differently the Word of God, and God and Lord, and also named the Angel of His Father, and the Captain of the Lord's Host. But who can this be who, in Aquila's version and those even now current among (c) the Hebrews, is "begotten among men, and become a child, Wonderful and Strong, Counsellor, Powerful, and Father, yea even Prince of peace, Whose peace, he says, will never end?" or in that of Symmachus, "Miraculous, Counselling, Strong, Powerful, Eternal Father, Prince of peace, and that endless and infinite"; or in Theodotion's "Counselling wonderfully, Strong, Powerful, Father, Prince of peace, for increasing instruction, of Whose peace there is no end."
And that which follows I leave you to consider by yourself, only remarking that this Being Who is called Eternal Father, (d) and Prince of Endless Peace, and Angel of Great Counsel is prophesied of as being begotten and becoming a child, and on His birth among men wills that they shall be burnt with fire who grudge the salvation He wins for the Gentiles, be they evil daemons, or be they wicked men, of whom He says, "That every garment and raiment wrought by guile, they will repay with interest." And who can these be, but |75 those of whom it was elsewhere spoken in the person of our Saviour, "They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots "? And they who are partakers of their sin, who will also desire, when they shall see their own judgment at some future time, that they had been burnt with fire before they sinned, before the Angel of Great Counsel had been sinned against by them?
Now consider yourself whether it does not overstep the limits of human nature that His peace should be said to be endless, and that He should be called Eternal Father; and also that He should be called not simply Angel, but Angel of Great Counsel, and Mighty God, and the other names in the list. And it says too that the kingdom of David will be restored by Him, which you will understand thus: there were many promises given to David, in which it was said:
"And I will set his hand in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers: he shall call upon me, Thou art my father, my God, and the helper of my salvation, And I will make him my firstborn, high above the kings of the earth. For ever I will keep my mercy for him, and my covenant shall stand firm with him, and I will make his seed for ever and ever, and his throne as the days of heaven."
"Once have I sworn by my holiness, I will not fail David, his seed shall remain for ever, and his throne is as the sun before me, and as- the moon established for ever."
God promised all this to David in the Psalms, but through the sins of his successors the opposite actually happened— for the kings of David's seed lasted until Jeremiah, and ceased on the siege of the holy city by the Babylonians, so that from that date neither the throne of David nor his seed ruled the Jewish nation. And the Holy Spirit thus foretells the failure of the promises made to David in the same passage of the Psalm:
"But thou hast rejected, and made of no account, thou hast cast down thy Christ: Thou hast destroyed the covenant of thy servant, and cast his glory to the ground, thou hast broken down all his strongholds." |76
And a few verses later:
"Thou hast broken down his throne to the ground, thou hast lessened the days of his time, thou hast proved dishonour upon him";
a course of events which has been begun and carried to its conclusion from the Babylonian captivity of the Jews up to (339) the Roman Empire and Tiberius. For no one of the seed of David appears to have sat on the throne of the Hebrews in the intervening period up to the coining of Christ. But when our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who was of David's seed, was proclaimed King of all the world, that very throne of David, as though renewed from its degradation and fall, was restored in the divine kingdom of our (b) Saviour, and will last for ever; and even now, like the sun in God's Presence, is lighting the whole world with the rays of His teaching, according to the witness of the Psalm and the prophecy before us, which says concerning the Child that should be born, on the throne of David (that is to say, the eternal and lasting throne promised to David), He should sit in His kingdom, to guide it, and uphold it in (c) justice and judgment from now even for ever. The Angel Gabriel should be a sufficient teacher that this was fulfilled, when he said in his sacred words to the Virgin:
"Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God; and behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." [[Luke.i. 30.]]
(d) And the prophet expecting this birth of Christ in the aforesaid Psalm, and regarding its postponement and delay as if it were the cause of the fall of David's throne, cries in disgust, "But thou hast refused, and made of no account, and cast off thy Christ." And he prays as though doubting the Divine Being, that the promise may be somehow swiftly fulfilled: "Where is thine ancient pity, Lord, which thou swarest unto David in thy truth? "which same things his prophecy most clearly says will be fulfilled at the birth of the Angel of Great Counsel. "Wherefore they will wish," he says, "to have been burnt with fire, those before named |77 for unto us a child is born, and to us a son is given, the Angel of Great Counsel." To us, that is, who in Galilee of the Gentiles have believed on Him, to whom He has brought light and joy, and the new and fresh drink of the mystery of the new Covenant: according to the prophecy which says:
"First drink this, drink quickly—land of Zabulon, (340) and land of Nephthalim, and the rest who dwell by the coast, across Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: O people that sat in darkness, behold a great light, and to them that sat in darkness and the shadow of death a light is risen."
These are they who from the Gentiles believed in the Christ of God, and the disciples and apostles of our Saviour, whom He called from the land of Zabulon and Nephthalim, and chose for the preachers of His Gospel. To them therefore who believed, the Angel of Great Counsel is given as a son to bring them salvation, but to them who disbelieved (b) fire and burning.
He says that the ground of this whole dispensation is the zeal of the Lord, "The zeal of the Lord of Sabaoth will do this." What is the character of this zeal? Is it not that recorded by Moses, where he says:
"They have provoked me to jealousy, but not according to God. They have angered me with their idols. And I will provoke them to jealousy by a nation which is not. By a foolish nation I will anger them "? [[Deut.xxxii. 21.]]
But as I have by God's help solved the problems of the (c) sojourn on earth of Him that was prophesied, and also the character of His coming from prophetic evidence, it is now the time to investigate the place where He should be born, His race, and the Hebrew tribe from which it was predicted He should come. These, then, shall be our next subjects. |78
(341) Of the Place of the Birth of the God fore-announced, and how He will come forth from Bethlehem, a Town of Palestine, being from Eternity, as Governor of the Race of the Holy, and how it is foretold that the Lord will feed them that have believed in Him unto the Ends of the Earth.
[Passage quoted, Micah v. 2-6.]
EMMANUEL, which is interpreted God with us, has been clearly shewn in the passages quoted to have been born of (b) the Virgin, and the Angel of Great Counsel to have become a child. But the place of His Birth had also to be pointed out. It was therefore prophesied that a ruler would come forth from Bethlehem, whose goings forth were from eternity. And this could not be referred to a human being, but only to the nature of Emmanuel and the Angel of Great Counsel.
For eternal existence can be assumed only of God. A person who exists from eternity, then, is predicted as about to come forth from Bethlehem, a Jewish town not far from (c) Jerusalem. And we find that the only famous man who was born there was David, and then later our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Christ of God, and besides them no other. But David, who came before the date of the prophecy, was dead many years before the prediction: nor were his goings forth from the days of eternity. It only remains that the words were fulfilled in Him that was born afterwards from Bethlehem, the true Emmanuel, God the Word going forth before the whole creation, and called (d) "God with us," especially as His Birth at Bethlehem undoubtedly shewed God's Presence, by the wonders connected with it: for St. Luke writes its record thus:
[Passage quoted, Luke ii. 1-18.]
So Luke writes. And Matthew tells the story of our Saviour's birth as follows:
[Matt. ii. 1-12.] |79
I have quoted these passages in full to shew that what happened at Bethlehem at the Birth of our Saviour furnishes adequate evidence that He was the Person meant by the prophecy. And to this day the inhabitants of the place, who have received the tradition from their fathers, confirm the truth of the story by shewing to those who visit Bethlehem because of its history the cave in which the (c) Virgin bare and laid her infant, as the prophecy says:
"Therefore he shall give them until the time of her that brings forth: She shall bring forth, and the rest of their brethren shall turn to them."
And by "her that brings forth "he means accordingly her that in the former prophecies was called a Virgin, and the prophetess who was delivered of Emmanuel and the Angel of Great Counsel. For until her day and that of Him she bare the old conditions of the nation were unaltered, the prescription being laid down until the time of "her that (d) brings forth, "that is, until the miraculous Birth of Him that was born of the Virgin; but after His day their kingdom was taken away, and the remnant of their brethren, those, that is to say, who believed in the Christ of God, became apostles and disciples and evangelists of our Saviour, whom, when they turn to Him, the Lord Himself is said to feed, not as before by angels or men that served him, but by Himself personally, so that thus they might be glorified to the ends of the earth. For they were glorified when "their voice went into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." It is clear what a great flock of spiritual human sheep has been won for the Lord throughout the whole world by the apostles: and this flock the Lord Himself is (314) said personally to look after and feed with His strength, being both Shepherd and Lord of the flock, so that the sheep are protected by the strong hand and mighty arm of their Master and Shepherd, from danger of attack from wild and savage beasts.
Such is the character of the events at Bethlehem, and of the Coming of the God that was fore-announced. But the account of the Coming from Heaven to men of the Lord and (b) |80 Shepherd Himself I have already quoted from the prophecy we have before us, in which it is said:
"Hear all peoples, and let the earth attend, and all that are therein, and the Lord shall he a witness to you, the Lord from his holy house. Wherefore behold the Lord, the Lord comes forth from his place, and shall descend,"
(and that which follows); to which he adds, "For the sin of Jacob is all this done, and for the transgression of the house of Israel." But it is clear, from what the same prophet goes (c) on to say, that it was not only because of the sin of the Jews, that the Lord came down, but also for the salvation and calling of all nations. For he proceeds to say:
"And the mountain of the Lord shall be visible to the end of the days, and many peoples shall haste to it, and many nations shall come and say, Come, let us go up to the Mount of the Lord."
And therefore, after the proclamation that the Eternal shall come forth from Bethlehem, he says that he will no more rule only over Israel, but over all men together even unto the ends of the earth; for he says:
(d) "And he shall stand and see, and shall feed his flock with the strength of the Lord, and they shall live in the glory of the name of the Lord God: wherefore now they shall be glorified even unto the ends of the earth, and this shall be peace."
Who shall have this peace, but the earth, in which the flocks of the Lord shall be glorified? And it is plain to all that this was fulfilled after the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
For before Him there was great variety of government, all nations being under tyrannical or democratic constitutions, as for instance, Egypt was ruled by its own king, (345) and so were the Arabs, the Idumueans, the Phoenicians, the Syrians and the other nations; there were risings of nations against nations and cities against cities, there were countless sieges and enslavements carried through in every place and country, until the Lord and Saviour came, and concurrently with His coming, the first Roman Emperor, (b) Augustus, conquered the nations, variety of government was almost completely ended, and peace was spread through all the world, according to the prophecy before us which |81 expressly says of Christ's disciples: "Wherefore they shall be glorified to the ends of the earth, and this shall be peace."
And the oracle in the Psalms, which says about Christ, "There shall rise in his days justice and peace," is in agreement with this. And I think that is why He is called "Prince of Peace" in the prophecy that I quoted before this. And I would ask you to notice that the prophet we are considering says at the outset that the Lord will come from heaven, and that the subject of the prophecy will only pasture his flock after His birth at Bethlehem. And (c) the Evangelist, whose words I have cited, furnishes the evidence that this was the case with regard to our Lord and Saviour.
The Christ is called the governor and shepherd of Israel, in accord with the custom of Holy Scripture to give the name of the true Israel figuratively to all who see God and live according to His Will: just as contrariwise it calls the Jews, when they sin, by names that suit their ways, Canaanites, and seed of Canaan not Judah, Rulers of Sodom, and people of Gomorrah. Though, of course, (d) also, all our Saviour's life was literally passed with the Jewish race, and He was the Leader of many gathered out of Israel, as many of the Jews as knew Him and believed in Him.
Such, then, was the fulfilment of the prophecy quoted. But one must start fresh in considering that which succeeds it, which runs thus:
"When the Assyrian shall attack your land, and come against your country, there shall be raised up against him seven shepherds, and eight 'bites' of men,"
with that which follows, whose meaning we are not now called upon to unfold.
Now it might be said that after the expedition of the Assyrians into Judaea, when they overcame the Jews, the number of rebellions against them is shewn by the seven shepherds and the eight "bites": and that historians of (346) Assyria would know this, and at the end of their rule the one foretold was born at Bethlehem, after the seven shepherds and the eight "bites" had happened to the |82 Assyrians in the period after their expedition against Judaea. But we must not now devote more time to what would entail a long inquiry.
From Psalm cxxxi.
To David, inquiring where should be the Birthplace of the Predicted God, Ephratha, which is Bethlehem, is made known by the Holy Spirit.
(c) [Passages quoted, Ps. cxxxi. 1-7, 10, 11, 17.]
This prophecy agrees with the preceding in stating that the God about whom the prophecy is made will come forth from Bethlehem. And it is about this place that David first prays God to teach him, since he does not know it, (347) and then after his prayer he is taught. For when he has received the oracle addressed to him in the Psalm which said: "Of the fruit of thy body I will set upon thy seat," and, "There will I raise up a horn for David, I have prepared a lantern for my Christ," he rightly falls down before God, and there fallen to the earth worships, and with yet greater intensity of prayer swears that he will not enter the tabernacle of his house, nor allow his eyes to sleep, nor his eyelids to slumber, nor ascend the couch of his bed, (b) but will lie on the ground worshipping and adoring, until he finds a place for the Lord, and a tabernacle for the God of Jacob—that is, until he learns by the Lord's revelation to him the birthplace of the Christ.
So having prayed and desired to learn it, not long after he beholds by the Holy Spirit what will be in the future; for God has promised to His people that he will hear them even while they speak. So his prayer being heard he (c) is favoured with an oracle which cries "Bethlehem," that being the place of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the God of Jacob. And so when the Holy Spirit prophesied that this was within him, he, listening to his inner voice, adds: "Lo, we heard of it in Ephratha." And Ephratha is the same as Bethlehem, as is clear from Genesis, where it is said of Rachel, "And they buried her in the Hippodrome of Ephratha,'' and this is Bethlehem. And the previous prophecy ran: "And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephratha." |83 "Behold," he says, "we have heard it! "—evidently (d) meaning the birth of Christ and the entering of the God of Jacob into His tabernacle. For what else could the tabernacle of the God of Jacob be but the Body of Christ, which was born at Bethlehem, in which, as in a tabernacle, the divinity of the Only-begotten dwelt? And the habitation is not said to be simply of God, but is qualified as of the God of Jacob, that we may know that it is the God that dwells therein, Who was seen by Jacob in human form and shape, wherefore he was deemed worthy of the name, Seer of God, f6r such is the translation of his name. And I have established in the early part of this work that He that was seen by Jacob was none other than the Word of God. Bethlehem was therefore revealed to David when he prayed and desired to know the place and the habitation of the Lord and God of Jacob, wherefore he said: "Behold, we heard it at Ephiatha," and added: "Let us worship at (348) the place where his feet stood." Therefore in these words the Lord God of Jacob Himself foretold that His own place and habitation would be in Ephratha, which is Bethlehem, agreeing with the prophecy of Micah, which said: "And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephratha, out of thee shall come a governor, and his goings forth are from eternity," which, when we lately examined, we found could only apply to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who was born at Bethlehem according to the predictions. For (b) it is certain that no one else can be shewn to have come forth from there with glory after the date of the prophecy: there was no king, or prophet, or any other Hebrew saint who can be shewn to have been of David's seed, and also born at Bethlehem, except our Lord and Saviour, the Christ of God. We must, therefore, own that He, and no one else, is the subject of this prophecy, and (c) for the additional reason that further on the same Psalm proves it, calling Him Christ by name, where it says: "For the sake of David thy servant, turn not away the face of thy Christ." And again: "There will I raise up a horn for David, I have prepared a lantern for my Christ, his enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon him my holiness shall flower." Where else does he say: "I will raise up a horn for David," but in Bethlehem—Ephratha? (d) For it was there the horn of David, the Christ according |84 to the flesh, arose like a great light, and there the God of the Universe prepared the lantern of the Christ. And the human tabernacle was the lantern as it were of his spiritual light, through which, like an earthen vessel, as if through a lantern, He poured forth the rays of His own light on all who were oppressed by ignorance of God and thick darkness.
Yes, indeed, I think that it was clearly revealed here that the God of Jacob, from the beginning the Eternal, would dwell among men, and that He would be born nowhere else but in the place at Bethlehem, near Jerusalem, in the spot that is even now pointed out, for there no one is witnessed to by all the inhabitants as having been (349) born there in accordance with the Gospel story, no one remarkable or famous among all men, except Jesus Christ. And Bethlehem is translated, "House of Bread," bearing the name of Him Who came forth from it, our Saviour, the true Word of God, and nourisher of spiritual souls, which He Himself shews by saying: "I am the Bread that came down from heaven." And since it was David's mother-town as well, the Son of David according to the (b) flesh rightly made His entrance from it according to the predictions of the prophets, so that the reason is clear why He chose Bethlehem for His mother-town.
But He is said to have been brought up at Nazara, and also to have been called a Nazarene We know that the Hebrew word "Naziraion" occurs in Leviticus in connection with the ointment which they used for unction. And the ruler there was a kind of image of the great and (c) true High Priest, the Christ of God, being a shadowy type of Christ. So there it is said about the High Priest according to the Septuagint: "And he shall not defile him that is sanctified to his God, because the holy oil of his God hath anointed him": where the Hebrew has nazer for oil. And Aquila reads: "Because the separation, the oil of God's unction, is on him"; and Symmachus: "Because the pure oil of his God's anointing is on him ": and Theodotion: "Because the oil nazer anointed by his God is upon him." So that nazer according to the Septuagint is "holy," according to Aquila "separation," according to Symmachus "pure," and the name Nazarene will therefore mean either holy, or separate, or pure. But the ancient |85 priests, who were anointed with prepared oil, which Moses (d) called Nazer, were called for that reason Nazarenes; while our Lord and Saviour having naturally holiness, purity, and separation from sin, needed no human unguent, yet received the name of Nazarene among men, not because He was a Nazarene in the sense of being anointed with the oil called Nazer, but because He naturally had the qualities it symbolized, and also because He was called Nazarene from Nazara, where He was brought up by His parents according to the flesh and passed His childhood. And so it is said (350) in Matthew:
"Being warned of God in a dream [Joseph is referred to] he departed into the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazara, that the saying of the prophets might be fulfilled, He shall be called a Nazarene."
For it was altogether necessary that He Who was a Nazarene naturally and truly, that is holy, and pure and separate from men, should be called by the name. But since, needing no human unction, He did not receive the name from the oil nazer, He acquired it from the place named (b) Nazara.
This proof being thus complete, let us now investigate from what race, and from which Hebrew tribe, it was foretold that the Saviour of our souls, the Christ of God, should come. And I will first quote the Gospel passages about it, and then add the prophets' evidence to theirs, like seals that agree together. Matthew thus gives the genealogy of Christ according to the flesh: |86
"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Juda," and that which follows.
And the apostle agrees with this, when he says:
"Separated to the gospel of God, which he had before promised by his prophets in the holy scriptures concerning his son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh."
These words would agree with the corresponding predictions.
From the Second Book of Chronicles.
From what Race and from what Hebrew Tribe it was foretold that the Christ should come.
[Passages quoted, 1 Chron. xvii. 11-13; Ps. lxxxviii. 26; verses 4, 35, 29; and cxxxi. 11.]
THERE is no doubt that Solomon was the son of David and his successor in the kingdom. And he first built the Temple of God at Jerusalem, and perhaps the Jews understand him to be the subject of the prophecy. But we may fairly ask them whether the oracle applies to Solomon, which says, "And I will set up his throne for ever," and also where God sware with the affirmation of an oath by his holy one, "The throne of him that is foretold, shall be as the sun, and the days of heaven." For if the years of the reign of Solomon are reckoned, they will be found to be forty and no more. Even if the reigns of all his successors be added up, they do not altogether come to 500 years. And even if we suppose that their line continued down to the final attack on the Jewish nation by the Romans, how can they fulfil a prophecy which says, "Thy throne shall |87 remain for ever, and be as the sun and the days of heaven "? And the words, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son," how can they refer to Solomon, for his history tells us much about him that is foreign and opposed to the adoption of God? Nay, hear the indictment against him:
"And Solomon loved women, and took many strange wives, even the daughter of Pharaoh, Moabites, Ammonites, and Idumaeans, Syrians and Chatteans, and Amorites, from the nations of whom the Lord said to the children of Israel, that they should not go in to them."
And in addition to this:
"And his heart was not right with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father; and Solomon went after Astarte, the abomination of the Sidonians, and after their king, the idol of the sons of Ammon. And Solomon did evil before the Lord."
And again further on he adds:
"And the Lord raised Satan against Solomon, Ader the Idumaean."
Now who would venture to call God his father, who, lay under such grievous charges, and to call himself the firstborn son of the God of the Universe? Or how could these sayings apply first to David, and then to his seed? But they do not even apply to David, if you reflect. Therefore we require some one else, here revealed, to arise from the seed of David. But there was no other born of him, as is recorded, save only our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ of God, Who alone of the kings of David's line is called through the whole world the Son of David according to His earthly birth, and Whose Kingdom continues and will continue, lasting for endless time. It is attacked by many, but always by its divine superhuman power proves itself inspired and invincible as the prophecy foretold. And if you hear God swear by His holy one, hear Him swear as Father by the Word of God, existing before all ages, His Holy and Only-begotten Son, of Whose divinity the passages I have quoted have spoken in many ways, by Whom His God and Father swears as by His dearly beloved, that He would glorify Him that was of the seed of David for ever. |88
And this came to pass when the Word became flesh, and took and made divine Him that was of David's seed. Wherefore he calls him Son, saying, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son." And again, "And 1 will make him my firstborn." From this it is then clearly explained that the firstborn Son of God will be of the seed of David, so that the Son of David is one and the same as the Son of God, and the Son of God one and the same as the Son of David. And thus it was prophesied that the Firstborn of the whole creation, Himself the Son of God, was to become Son of man.
The Scripture of the Gospel sets its seal on this oracle, where it says that the Angel Gabriel, standing by the holy Virgin, spake thus concerning our Saviour:
"He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David, and he shall rule over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
And after a little, Zacharias the father of John, prophesies thus concerning Christ in the same gospel:
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and wrought redemption for his people, and hath raised a horn of salvation for us in the house of David his son, as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets from ages past."
The fact that our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ of God, and none other, has received the throne promised for ever to David, has then been adequately proved by the prophecies quoted, and by the words of Gabriel and Zachariah, in which He is regarded as of the seed of David according to the flesh.
But the reason why the holy evangelists give the genealogy of Joseph, although our Saviour was not His son, but the son of the Holy Ghost and the holy Virgin, and how the mother of our Lord herself is proved to be of the race and seed of David, I have treated fully in the First Book of my Questions and Answers concerning the genealogy of our Saviour, and must refer those interested to that book, as the present subject is now occupying me. |89
From Psalm lxxii.
Of Solomon and of His Seed that is to come.
[Passages quoted, Ps. lxxii., i, 5-8, 16b.]
As this Psalm is addressed to Solomon, the first verse of (354) the Psalm must be referred to him, and all the rest to the son of Solomon, not Rehoboam, who was king of Israel after him, but Him that was of his seed according to the flesh, the Christ of God: for all who are acquainted with the Holy Scriptures will agree that it is impossible to connect (c) what is said in this Psalm with him or his successors, because of what they reveal about him. Nay, how is it possible to apply to Solomon, or his son Rehoboam, the burden of the whole Psalm?—for instance, "He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth." And "He shall remain as long as the sun, and before the moon for ever," and other similar statements. Yet the words at the beginning of the Psalm are at once seen to apply to Solomon, which say, "O God, thou wilt give judgment to the king." And the addition, "And thy justice to the king's son," to the Son of Solomon, not his (d) firstborn who succeeded him in the kingdom (for he only ruled the Jewish nation seventeen years, being a wicked king), nor any of the successors of Rehoboam, but only to one of the seed of David, who could thus be called the son both of David and Solomon. And this is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For His Kingdom and its throne will stand as long as the sun. And He alone of men, as the Word of God, existed before the moon and the creation of (355) the world, and He alone came down like dew from heaven on all the earth: and it was said in our quotation a little above, that He had risen on all men and that His justice would remain even until the consummation of life, which is called the removal of the moon. And our Saviour's power is supreme from the eastern sea to the west, beginning its |90 (b) activity at the river, which is either the Sacrament of Baptism, or from Jordan, where He first appeared to benefit mankind. Yea, from that time His kingdom has spread and extended through the whole world. And Jerusalem being meant by Libanus, as is made clear by many prophecies, because of its ancient altar and temple, and the offerings thereon to the honour of God like Libanus, the Church of the Gentiles the fruit of Christ is said to be (c) about to be exalted above Libanus. And if the studious consider this Psalm in its literal sense at leisure, they will find that its contents only apply to our Lord, and not to Solomon of old, or any of his successors on the throne of Judaea, who reigned but a few years, and only over the Jewish land.
(d) From Isaiah.
Of Jesse, and the Seed to be born of Him.
[Passage quoted, Isa. xi. 1-10.]
(356) This Jesse was David's father. As, then, in the preceding prophecies it was foretold that one should come forth of the fruit and seed of David, and also of the seed of Solomon, in the same way here it is prophesied that one will come forth of the seed of Jesse, that is to say of David, many years after the death of both David and Solomon. And this (b) passage decides the quibble of the Jews already noticed with regard to Solomon. For Isaiah writes this prophecy about some one other than him many years after the death of Solomon, who should arise from the stem of Jesse, and the seed of David. And I do not think it can be doubted that the words apply only to our Saviour, the Christ of God, considering the promise in the prediction, which says, "And (c) there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that riseth to rule the nations, in him shall the nations trust," and the way in which our Saviour fulfils them.
For He alone, after His Resurrection from the dead, intended here I think by the word "Arise," ruled not only the Jews but all nations, so that the prophecy does not lack fulfilment, as it is quite clear that the words, "In Him |91 shall the Gentiles trust," are fulfilled in Him, as well as the other prophecies.
And the references to the animals and wild beasts becoming tame and laying aside their fierce and untameable nature through His sojourn here will be allegorically understood of men's rough and wild ways and fierce characters being changed by Christ's teaching from irrational savagery. They must certainly be allegorically understood, especially (d) if one understands the root of Jesse mentioned by the prophet, and the rod, figuratively, and expounds in an intelligible way, "Justice shall be the girdle of his loins, and truth the girdle of his reins." For if one can only interpret this allegorically it follows that one must treat the passages that refer to the animals necessarily in a figurative way as well.
From Jeremiah. (357)
A Righteous Rising from the Seed of David upspringing, and the same a King of Men, and a New Name to be given to those ruled by Him, and the Forgiveness of their Former Sins.
[Passages quoted, Jer. xxiii. 6-8, xxx. 8, 9.]
Jeremiah prophesies thus long after the death of David and even the time of Solomon concerning a king who is to arise from the seed of David, whom he first calls "the rising," not simply but with the adjective "just," as though he were to shine forth from the sun of righteousness, of whom I treated in my evidences about the Second Cause, where I shewed that the pre-existent Word of God besides (d) many other names was called Sun of Righteousness, quoting the prophecy which said, "To them that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise." Therefore the prophecy in the present passage is that God will raise up "a righteous rising" to David, in the sense of a sun of righteousness. And he calls the same Being an understanding king, and one who does judgment and justice on the earth. He gives him too the same name as David, who died very long before. For you must note carefully how at the beginning |92 he says, "And I will raise up to David a righteous rising," (358) and adds at the end, "And I will raise up David to be his king." Whose, but David's?—for it was to him that he said He would raise up a righteous rising.
And Zechariah prophesying of the same Being likewise calls Him "arising," saying, "Behold I will raise up my servant, the rising," and also, "Behold a man whose name 8. is 'The Rising,' and beneath him springs righteousness."
But no one, it is certain, arose after the time of Jeremiah among the Jews who could be called "a righteous rising" and "an understanding king doing judgment and righteousness on the earth." For if it be suggested that Jesus son of Josedec is meant, it must be answered that the ('-') prophecy is inapplicable to him. For he was neither of David's seed nor did he reign as king. How could this apply to him, "And I will raise up David to be his king," when he was of the tribe of Levi, and of high-priestly rank, and of another tribe than David, and is never recorded to have been king? We conclude that, as no other can be discovered, we must agree that the subject of this prophecy (c) can only be our Lord and Saviour, called in other places "the light of the world," and "the light of the nations." He therefore must be the subject of this prophecy, and the prediction is absolutely true. For He alone of David's seed and figuratively named after his ancestor, for David means "strong-handed," preached judgment and justice by His teaching to all men on earth, and alone of all that ever lived is king not of one land only, but of the whole world, and alone has caused righteousness to arise over all the world, according to what is said of Him in the Psalm: "Righteousness shall arise in his days, and abundance of peace."
And Judah and Israel were to be saved in His days, that (d) is to say all the Jews who through Him reached holiness, His apostles, disciples and evangelists, or perhaps all who represent the Jew mystically understood and the true Israel which sees God spiritually.
"For he is not a Jew," the apostle says, "that is one outwardly, nor circumcision the outward circumcision in the flesh, but he is a Jew which is one in secret, and circumcision is of the heart in the spirit not the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God." |93
It is these, then, the secret Jew and the true Israel, that he says are through Christ's calling to be named by a new name, neither Jew nor Israel, but one quite different from these. For He says that the Lord will call them by the (359) name of Josedekeim, which means, "The Lord's just ones."
And I ask you to consider whether this name Josedekeim, by which the disciples of Jesus are called by God, be not formed from Joshua; they would thus be named by men from the name of Christ which is Greek (i. e. Christians), and by the prophets, from Jesus, in the Hebrew tongue, because they are saved by Him, Josedekeim. So it is said, "And this is the name by which the Lord shall call them, (h) Josedekeim among the prophets." So, then, we see that the people that are to become through the subject of the prophecy the spiritual Jews and the true Israel, will be called Josedekeim from Joshua, and they will be called by this name, he says, not by men, but by God, and by His prophets. For you must note carefully the passage that says, "And this is the name which the Lord shall call them, Josedekeim by his prophets." And its translation in Greek is. as I said, "God's just ones." And God promises that (c) He will break from those who are thus to be saved the old heavy yoke of bitter daemons and shatter the bonds of the sins by which they were held of old, so that they will no more serve strange gods, but bear fruit and please Him only. Compare with this the oracle in the Second Psalm concerning the Coming of Christ and the calling of the Gentiles, which says: "Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast off their yoke from us." To which, I think, this we are considering is akin when it says:
"In that day, saith the Lord, I will break the yoke from off their necks, and shatter their bonds, and they (d) shall not serve other gods, but shall serve the Lord their God."
But in proof that it was predicted that the Christ of God should be born of the fruit of David's body, and of the seed of Solomon, as actually was the case, since the Holy Scriptures call Him David as well as by many other names, I have given sufficient confirmation.
And it should raise no question, that He is said to come from the tribe of Judah, for that was the tribe to which David belonged. |94
But I will give the oracle of Moses that states this, though it is already proved sufficiently. It runs thus:
How from the Tribe of Judah shall be born the Christ of God, and shall be established as the Expectation of Nations.
[Passage quoted, Gen. xlix. 8-10.]
The whole Hebrew race consisted of twelve tribes, one of which had Judah for its ancestor and head, to whom the above words were addressed, telling him that the Christ should spring from him. And if you compare with this prophecy the other prophecies I have quoted, you will find all through them that the same Being is proclaimed by a sign common to all. For one said of Him that springs from the root of Jesse, "And there shall be one arising to rule the nations, on him shall the nations trust." Another said of the son of Solomon, "He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the world, and in him all nations shall be blessed." And the one before us similarly says, "Until he come for whom it is laid up, and he shall be the expectation of nations."
If, then, the predictions about the nations are in accord, and the previous ones have been proved to refer to our Saviour, nothing prevents us referring this one to Him as well, if these prophecies are agreed to be in harmony, especially with regard to the fact that the kings and rulers of the Jewish nation continued in the same line of succession until the period of Christ's appearing, but failed directly He appeared, and by the prediction of Jacob the expectation of the nations demanded a satisfaction.
Christ therefore is foretold here also, as destined to come from the tribe of Judah, and since He has been shewn to have been born of David, Solomon, and the root of Jesse, it is evident He came from the same tribe as they. For David was son of Jesse, and Solomon of David, both of the tribe of Judah. Our Lord and Saviour must therefore spring from it, as the wonderful evangelist Matthew states |95 in his geneaology, "The Book of the generation of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, Jacob begat Judah."
And now that I have adequately proved these points, it is time to consider the period of the fulfilment of the prophecies.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
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