Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 10
(461) HAVING considered the passages that predict the Coming among men of the God that was foretold, we are now called to expound those that refer to His departure from this life, and to study what the prophets said would (462) happen to Him from the earliest days of prophecy. And I will begin by expounding those which have to do with the men that plotted His Death, which will occupy no small part of the present Book.
But before beginning my argument let me repeat what I have often said about the dispensation of Christ, that we must strictly distinguish what belongs to His Divinity from what belongs to His Humanity. As Divine we recognize Him as the Word of God, the Power of God, the Wisdom of God, the Angel of Great Counsel, and the Great Eternal High Priest, offering sacrifice for the existence and preservation of all, and propitiating the Father. (b) And as Human we know Him as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, and as a sheep led to the slaughter. And this was the human body, which as a high priest He took like a lamb or sheep from the flock of humanity, and offering the firstfruits of the human (c) race, sacrificed them to the Father. By it He entered into human nature, which could only thus perceive the Word of God, and His spiritual unembodied power, being able with eyes of flesh to see nothing higher than flesh and physical things. So that everything that follows, which may seem to lower His glory, must be taken as conceived of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, and of His human body. |191
For He was the Lamb that takes away sin, according to John the Baptist, when he said: "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world," and He was the Lamb led to the slaughter in the oracle of Isaiah, which said: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before her shearers is dumb." And of Him as of a lamb was it said: "For the sins of my people he was led to death." For it was necessary that the Lamb of God, taken by the great High-Priest on behalf of the other kindred lambs, for all the flock of mankind, should be offered as a sacrifice to God: "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead," says the apostle; "and as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation: even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Hence, also, He taught His disciples that He was life and light and truth, and the other conceptions of His Divinity, whereas to them that were not initiated into the secrets of His nature, He said: "Why do ye seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth?"
As then in what has gone before I have dealt with what specially concerns His Divinity, so now in like manner I will shew the human sufferings of the Lamb of God, since what occurred before His Passion lies between the two, partaking both of the nature of His Divinity and His Humanity. With this necessary proviso, let us now consider the oracles which concern the traitor Judas, and his fellow-conspirators against Christ, and the events at the time of His Passion.
From Psalm xl.
Of Judas the Traitor, and His Fellow-Conspirators against Christ.
[Passage quoted, Ps. xl. 1-12.] (464)
As it has been supposed by some that the Book of Psalms merely consists of hymns to God and sacred songs, and |192 that we shall look in vain in it for predictions and prophecies of the future, let us realize distinctly that it contains many prophecies, far too many to be quoted now, and it must suffice for proof of what I say to make use of two Psalms ascribed to Asaph, written in the time of David. For Asaph was one of the Temple Musicians then, as is stated in the Book of Chronicles, and was inspired by the Divine Spirit to speak the Psalms inscribed with his name. And what do these Psalms include? Predictions of the siege of Jerusalem, the royal city of the Jewish race, which took place nearly five hundred years after the prediction. For we read in the 73rd Psalm, inscribed "A Psalm of understanding for Asaph":
"Wherefore hast thou rejected us, O God, for ever? | Wherefore is thy wrath kindled against the sheep of thy pasture? | 2. Remember thy congregation, which thou hast possessed of old, | and hast ransomed as the rod of thy inheritance; | this Mount Zion wherein thou hast dwelt. | 3. Lift up thine hands against their pride unto the end: what things hath the enemy done evilly in thy sanctuaries, | 4. and they that hate thee have boasted in the midst of thy Feast: | 5. they have set up their banners for signs, ignorantly as it were in the entrance above. | They cut down its doors at once with axes as in a wood of trees, | they have broken it down with hatchet and stone-cutter. | 7. They have burnt thy sanctuary to the ground with fire, | and have profaned even with the ground the dwelling-place of thy name."
This is in Psalm lxxiii.; and Psalm lxxviii. of Asaph contains this:
"O God, the Gentiles have entered into thine inheritance, and defiled thy holy temple; they have made Jerusalem a store-house of fruits, they have given the dead bodies of thy servants to be meat for the birds of the air, the flesh of thy saints to the beasts of the fields." |193
The first of these passages, I mean the one from Psalm lxxiii., was spoken in David's reign before the building of (465). Solomon's Temple, and it was only fulfilled the first time by the siege by the Babylonians, and the second time in the Roman war against the Jews. For what was predicted and proclaimed in the said Psalms by Asaph was brought to pass in the destruction of the first and second Temples. And the second passage, from Psalm lxxviii., was fulfilled in the time of Antiochus, called Epiphanes, who being King of Syria entered Jerusalem, polluted the Temple, destroyed (b) the Altar, and in his endeavour to compel the Jews to hellenize, slew countless men and women who were martyrs for their law and their father's religion, and he inflicted all sorts of punishments on them. It was therefore to that time, and to Antiochus' successors who emulated his deeds, that Asaph's prophecies in Psalm lxxviii. refer. And the Book of those called Maccabees confirms what I say, which has this passage:
"And to Jakeimon and Bacchides there came a (c) deputation of scribes asking for justice." And it proceeds to say: "And he sware to them saying, We will not bring evil on yourselves and your friends. And they believed him. And he took of them sixty men and slew them in one day, according to the word of Asaph, which he wrote, They gave the dead bodies of thy servants to be meat for the birds of the air, and the flesh of thy saints to the beasts of the land, their (d) blood have they poured out like water on every side of Jerusalem, and there was no man to bury them."
If these events were thus predicted and fulfilled, it is not surprising that in the same way the oracle quoted from Psalm xl. should announce what would happen in connection with the plot on our Saviour, though not all men should understand, that He being the Word of God, Wisdom, Life, and the True Light, and possessing all the wealth of the good, for our sakes became poor, taking our flesh, and being made like in kind to mortal man and beggars, taking on Him the form of a slave and a poor man, and most of all when He fulfilled the Psalmist's prophecy. He that understands these sayings to refer to |194 Himself, naturally is blessed at the beginning of the Psalm, as receiving the written promise.
(466) So it proceeds in the rest to speak in the person of a poor man and a beggar, that is to say of our Saviour Who for our sakes became poor: "I said, Lord, have mercy on me." And John, the Evangelist, is an independent witness that the words of this Psalm are spoken in the Person of our Saviour. For he records, that:
"Jesus once took a towel and girded himself, and washed the feet of his disciples and said, I know whom I have chosen. But that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth with me, the same hath lifted his heel against me."
For He made it clear there that the Scripture referred (b) to was the Psalm before us, in which it is said: "For the man of my peace, in whom I trusted, he that ate of my bread hath raised his heel against me." He it is, then, Who says at the beginning: "I said, Lord, have pity on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee," and speaks through the whole Psalm. Symmachus gives a clearer rendering of these words, as follows:
"When I said, O Lord, have pity on me, heal my soul, even if I have sinned against thee, my enemies have spoken evil against me, when shall he die and (c) his name perish? And when he comes to gaze on me his heart speaks vanity, it gathers unrighteousness on itself: and when he goes out he tells it. All they that hate me have whispered against me with one consent, conceiving evil concerning me. An unrighteous word is poured out within them, and when he fall may he never rise up. Yea, even the man who was at peace with me, in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, has magnified himself against me accordingly. But thou, O Lord, pity me, and raise (d) me, that I may reward them. By this I shall know that thou wishest it, if my enemy does not revile me. Thou hast defended me because of my innocence, and shall set me before thee for ever." |195
And Aquila is in exact agreement with Symmachus. With regard first to the words which are apparently said in the Person of our Saviour: "Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee," you will notice in Symmachus they are not so rendered, but thus: "Heal my soul, even if I have sinned against thee." And He speaks thus, since He shares our sins. So it is said: "And the Lord hath laid on him our iniquities, and he bears our sins." Thus the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world, (467) became a curse on our behalf:
"Whom, though he knew no sin, God made sin for our sake, giving him as redemption for all, that we might become the righteousness of God in him."
But since being in the likeness of sinful flesh He condemned sin in the flesh, the words quoted are rightly used. And in that He made our sins His own from His love and benevolence towards us, He says these words, adding further on in the same Psalm: "Thou hast (b) protected me because of my innocence," clearly shewing the impeccability of the Lamb of God. And how can He make our sins His own, and be said to bear our iniquities, except by our being regarded as His body, according to the apostle, who says: "Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members?" And by the rule that "if one member suffer all the members suffer with it," so when the many members suffer and sin, He too by the laws of (c) sympathy (since the Word of God was pleased to take the form of a slave and to be knit into the common tabernacle of us all) takes into Himself the labours of the suffering members, and makes our sicknesses His, and suffers all our woes and labours by the laws of love. And the Lamb of God not only did this, but was chastised on our behalf, (d) and suffered a penalty He did not owe, but which we owed because of the multitude of our sins; and so He became the cause of the forgiveness of our sins, because He received death for us, and transferred to Himself the scourging, the insults, and the dishonour, which were due to us, and drew down on Himself the apportioned curse, being made a curse for us. And what is that but the price of our |196 souls? And so the oracle says in our person: "By his stripes we were healed," and "The Lord delivered him for our sins," with the result that uniting Himself to us and us to Himself, and appropriating our sufferings, He can say, "I said, Lord, have mercy on me, heal my soul, (468) for I have sinned against thee," and can cry that they who plot against Him, not men only but invisible daemons as well, when they see the surpassing power of His Holy Name and title, by means of which He filled the world full of Christians a little after, think that they will be able to extinguish it, if they plot His death. This is what is proved by His saying: "My enemies have spoken evil of me, saying, When shall he die and his name perish?"
And since they attacked Him with the words of guile, attempting to entangle Him, as Holy Writ bears witness, (b) telling us how different charges and accusations were engineered against Him at different times, He therefore adds: "And if he come to see me, his heart speaks vanity, he heaps unrighteousness on himself; he has gone out, and spoken the same against me." After this, too, He clearly reveals the vile traitor himself, who, after making a covenant with the rulers of the Jews to betray his master, no more (c) went as he used to the school of His holy teaching, nor went as to His teacher, nor like the others passed His time with the Saviour, but awaited and hunted for an opportunity to lay hands on Him. For this is what he is accused of doing by the Holy Evangelists, of whom Matthew says:
"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought an opportunity to betray him to them."
(d) And Mark says:
"And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. And when they heard it they were glad, and promised to give him money: and he sought how he might conveniently betray him." |197
And Luke writes thus:
"And Satan entered into Judas that was called Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve, and he departed and spake with the chief priests and scribes, and the captains of the Temple, that he might betray him unto them, and they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he sought opportunity to betray him unto them apart from the multitude."
So the prophecy before us prophesies the same things, when it says:
"And if he came to see me his heart spake vanity, he gathered iniquity on himself. He went out, and spake the same. Against me all my enemies whispered";
where Symmachus renders:
"Coming in to spy on me, his heart spake vanity, he heaped unrighteousness upon it: and when he went out he spake against me. All they that hate me (469) whispered with one voice against me."
Yes, for he alone went into his master as a friend and a disciple, to spy and search out, while he hid his plot in his own heart. And when he went out, he spake against Him (b) at once with many of the same mind, betraying the Saviour to His enemies, and secretly made a pact with the rulers of the Jews, about other things, but of course about money as well, for which he promised to betray Him, and about which he whispered with them. Wherefore it says:
"He went out and spake at once. All my enemies whispered against me, against me they imagined evils. They determined an evil plan against me."
Perhaps the covenant for the money is meant by the "unjust word" of the prophecy, or perhaps the impious (c) and unjust intentions they had against Him, supposing that He would be extinguished and destroyed after death, and would no longer be reckoned among the living. For such is the meaning of: "When he sleepeth he shall surely never rise up again," which Symmachus has expressed more clearly: "And falling he will not arise"; where Aquila says: "And whosoever sleep, he shall not rise again." So |198 far it has spoken generally about all those who conspired (d) against Him at the time of His Passion; but it goes on now to speak of the traitor particularly, as of one of His disciples: "For the man of my peace also, in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." Instead of which Symmachus again renders: "And a man, who was at peace with me, in whom I had confidence, who ate of my bread with me, hath magnified himself against me." For of a truth it is the lowest and most accursed of men who after sharing a master's table, and the nurture of his instruction, goes wrong and treats his benefactor in the opposite way to which he has been treated himself.
And since the enemies in their plotting said: "When shall he die, and his name perish?" and thought that if he lay down he would never rise up again, therefore (470) our Lord and Saviour praying for the reverse of this, and assured of an unhindered resurrection by His Father, says:
"Lord, have mercy upon me, and raise me up, and I will reward them. In this I know that thou hast favoured me, because my enemy shall not triumph over me."
And it is quite clear how after His resurrection from the dead immediate judgment, that did not tarry, fell on the conspirators, so that death who was the enemy of His return to life was made ashamed, and they that mocked (b) Him said, "O death, where is thy sting? O death, where is thy victory? "And those who have read the history of the times after our Saviour's resurrection, in Josephus, will remember what troubles fell on the Jews and their rulers, involved in which they received the right reward for what they did to Him. All this, then, that fell upon them was the fulfilment of the prophecy: but our Saviour's Resurrection from the dead proved to all that in Him the Father was well pleased, as He tells us when He says:
(c) "Have mercy upon me, and raise me up, and I will reward them. By this I know thou hast favoured me, because my enemy doth not triumph over me."
And notice how in pouring forth this prayer to His God and Father, with what confidence He witnesses boldly to |199 His own sinlessness, although He had said before, "Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee." But I have (d) already shewn that the words, "I have sinned against thee," are not to be taken literally, and Symmachus interprets them more clearly when he says, "Heal my soul, even if I have sinned against thee," as could well be said of our sins, which our Lord and Saviour took upon Himself. Whereas the words, "Thou hast protected me for my innocence," exhibit the absolute integrity of His nature, to which He traces in His teaching the stability and sureness of His life and His preservation after His Resurrection, when He adds, "Thou hast established me before thee for ever": or, "And thou wilt establish me before thee for ever," according to Symmachus.
From Psalm liv. (471)
Also of Judas, and of them that with Him conspired against Christ.
[Passages quoted, Ps. liv. 2-5, 10-14.]
"2. HEAR my prayer, O God, | and do not despise my supplication. | 3. Attend to me and hearken to me: | I was grieved in my meditation, and troubled | 4. by the voice of the enemy, and by the affliction of the sinner. [ For they brought iniquity against me, and (b) in wrath reviled me. | 5. My heart was troubled within me, and the fear of death fell upon me. | Fear and trembling came upon me, and darkness covered me."
And that which follows, to which he adds:
"10. Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues, | for I have seen iniquity and strife in the city. | 11. Day and night it shall go round it upon its walls, | and iniquity and sorrow 12. and unrighteousness are in the midst of it, | and usury and craft have not left its streets, (c) 13. For if an enemy had reproached me, I would have borne it: | And if he that hated me had magnified himself against me, I would have hid myself from him: | 14. but it was even thou, O man like-minded, my |200 guide, and my friend, | who in companionship with me sweetened my food: | we walked in the house of God in unity." (d)
"If an enemy had reproached me, I could have borne it, and if he that hated me had magnified himself against me, I would have hid myself from him: but it was even thou, O man like-minded, my guide and my friend, who in companionship with me sweetened my food,"
resemble----"For the man of my peace, in whom I trusted, he that ate of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me," said of Judas in the previous prophecy. As then there he was shewn to be a man of peace, when he was the Saviour's disciple and numbered among the apostles, so here he is called like-minded, His guide and His friend. And as there it was said of him, "He that eateth with me hath lifted up his heel against me," so also here it is said to the same person, "Who in companionship with me sweetened my food." Yea, for he was privileged to be one of them that partook of the secret companionship and spiritual food that (472) our Saviour gave His disciples. For to the crowds and multitudes without He spoke in parables, but only to His disciples, of whom Judas was reckoned one, did He unfold all things. So it is said, "He that ate my bread hath lifted up his heel against me," and, "who in companionship sweetened my bread." This Aquila interprets more clearly, "We together (b) supped sweetly on mysteries," and Symmachus, "We joined together in sweet companionship." And instead of, "Thou, O man like-minded, my guide and friend," Symmachus renders, "Thou, O man of like disposition, my guide and my friend." Now if he was privileged to stand so high among the friends of our Saviour, His words about him are natural, "If an enemy had reviled me, I would have borne it," and that which follows.
Then after this prophecy about Judas, He proceeds to foretell His own preservation and escape from death, in the words:
"I cried unto God, and the Lord saved me. At evening and morning and at noon I will tell and proclaim, and he shall hear my voice, and shall ransom my soul in peace."
(c) Thus in prayer He speaks of the time before His death |201 during which Judas hatched his treachery against Him. And it was then that our Lord and Saviour, as one who mourned for the destruction and ruin of His friend, and still more for the casting away of the whole Jewish race, as if in sympathy with friends gone mad who were very dear to Him, calls all His union with (hem and instruction of them wasted, in that it has profited them nothing, saying:
"I was grieved with my wasted efforts, and I was moved by the voice of the enemy, and by the affliction of the sinner. For they fell," He says, "into iniquity, and reviled me in anger."
This may either be referred to the Jewish rulers, who (d) attempted to catch Him with enmity and conspiracy, or it may have been spoken of the invisible powers that fought against Him from without, and inspired the plot that was carried through by men. And this I think agrees with His words in the Gospels at the time of the Passion, when He says to His disciples: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.'' And again, "Now is my soul troubled." The words of the Psalm are similar to those, where it said: "My heart is moved within me, and the fear of death is fallen upon (473) me; Fear and trembling have come upon me, and darkness hath covered me," in which He reveals the attacks of the opposing powers upon Him. As then in the prophets a certain "spirit of adultery "is named, e.g. "They were deceived by a spirit of adultery" and "the spirit of error in the wilderness," so also the spirit of death would cause fear, just as the spirit of strength would be the source of power and divine bravery. So we should call it "the (b) spirit of fear and trembling," and, indeed, "the spirit of fear and confusion "as well, which usually comes on nearly all that die as martyrs for their religion, and much more would be laid on Him that underwent death for all. But whether it was the spirit of fear and of death, or of fear and trembling, or any other like power that fell upon Him, at any rate it did not break Him down, for He, like a noble athlete, threw (c) far from Him the fear of death by His assurance of life, for He is the Life. And so He drove far off the spirit of fear and trembling which attacked Him by the power of the spirit of bravery, might, and strength. For according to Isaiah, "There rested on Him (together with the other |202 spirits), the spirit of counsel and strength." So, too, He puts to flight the spirit of darkness by the power of His own light. For, "The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." You will find similar passages (d) in Psalm xxi., where again, in His person, it is said, "Many oxen have come about me: fat bulls hemmed me in. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ramping and roaring lion." And also, "Many dogs have encircled me, the council of the wicked-doers has surrounded me." And once more:
"Save my soul from the sword, and my only-begotten from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth, and my humility from the horns of the unicorns."
Here He clearly calls the evil powers bulls and calves, lions, dogs and unicorns, who hemmed Him in and surrounded (474) Him at the time of His Passion, but were not able to do aught against Him. And this follows, only if these parts of the Psalm refer to our Lord and Saviour: but if they do not refer to Him, but to some one else, you must yourself reduce the passage to harmony. And immediately after the prediction of the conspiracy against Him, He continues also about the mother-city of the Jews, Jerusalem, ,and says, "I saw iniquity and strife in the city," and that which (b) follows, the meaning of which there is no time now to expound.
From Psalm cviii.
Still of Judas, and of the Apostle elected in His Room, and of the Jewish Nation.
[Passage quoted, Ps. cviii. 1-8.]
AND the Apostle Peter is a sufficient witness that this prophecy refers to the traitor Judas, when, after the Saviour's Ascension, all the apostles being gathered together with many of the brethren, he stood up in the midst, and said: |203
"Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spake before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the (475) dwellers at Jerusalem, insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the Book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take."
Peter, then, in saying thus, suggested that another must be chosen in place of Judas, to fill up the deficient number of the twelve apostles, so that the prophecy might be fulfilled. And when the lot had been cast, it fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the twelve apostles. Since this was (b) thus fulfilled, it follows that the person who speaks in this Psalm can only be our Saviour, Who thought good to anticipate by the record of the Holy Spirit the very prayer that was sent up by Him to the Father at the time of His Passion, foretelling what would happen to Him in the future.
He says, then, "O God, pass not over my praise in silence," praying that the instruction delivered by Him to His disciples and the praise of the new Covenant might not be lost in silence, but might live to the end of time. "The (c) mouth of the sinner and the mouth of the crafty "would have special application to Judas, who went to the Chief Priests and said to them:
"What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him unto them."
And after making this covenant against Him, he was one of those that sat down with Him at the Feast of the Passover, when our Saviour----
"sat down with the twelve, and as they were eating, (d) said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one |204 of you shall betray me. And being very sorry they began to say unto him, Lord, is it I?"
Among whom was Judas, who opened that mouth of his, full of deceit and irony, and answered, "Is it I, Rabbi? "a crafty mouth indeed, with which he gave the signal to the conspirators against our Saviour, saying, "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he." And he fulfilled his words by acts, when he went to Jesus, and said to Him, "Hail, Rabbi, and kissed him." And Jesus said to him, "Friend, wherefore art thou come? "and "Judas, betrayest thou the son of man with a kiss? "So then in anticipation, he says by the Psalm:
"The mouth of the crafty is opened upon me. They have spoken against me with crafty tongue, and have encircled me with words of hatred, and have fought against me without a cause."
Here He has in mind not only Judas, but the other conspirators against Him. For the Gospel relates, that even while the Saviour was still speaking to His disciples----
"behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves from the chief priests and elders of the people! To whom the Lord said, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the Temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But this is all come to pass, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled."
And He says also in the Psalms: "Instead of loving me, they spake evil of me, but I continued to pray." This, too, was fulfilled, when, as our Saviour prayed with the eleven apostles in the place called Gethsemane, and departed from them a little way, and knelt down to His Father, and prayed a second and a third time, Judas with the Rulers of the Jews matured his conspiracy, collecting and leading the multitude of them that were prepared to take Him with swords and staves.
And they did evil to Him instead of good, and gave Him hate in return for His love, when they were ill-disposed towards the Saviour, and Benefactor and Teacher, Who had given them such healing and treatment by His words and teaching and all sorts of benefits. In return for which, |205 since they did evil to Him instead of good, and gave Him hatred for love, He rightly adds:
"Set a sinner over him, and let Satan stand at his right hand. When he is judged let him go forth condemned, and let his prayer be turned into sin; let his days be few, and another take his office."
And the holy apostle, applying this Scripture to the traitor, shewed clearly by anticipation what would be the end of these things. Now you yourself can see, how a sinful ruler and head was given to the Jewish race, after their presumptuous deeds against the Saviour, and how they were forced to serve strangers and idolaters instead of their ancient godly rulers. Who would not be struck by the (477) fulfilment of the prediction? For the oracle says, "Let his days be few," and there is no doubt that the whole period after their plot against our Saviour was short, during which they appeared to abide, after which they underwent the siege and were utterly destroyed, and then another took office, namely the people founded by Christ.
And you will understand the rest of the Psalm in a similar (b) sense. The words that follow, spoken as of certain children of Judas, "Let his children be orphans," and the like, may be referred primarily to Judas, and secondarily to all who like him betray the word of salvation. And you may understand in a similar way, his wife, and the sins of his father, and of the Jewish Synagogue, which is called his mother. For I think that this is meant by "let not the sin of his mother be done away." But just as in the preceding (c) prophecy, our Lord and Saviour was called a beggar and a poor man, as I have pointed out in expounding, "Blessed is the man that considereth the poor and needy," so in the present Psalm He is called by these names.
May such and such judgments fall on Judas, He says, and those who have like desires to his. What those judgments are He adds in these words:
"Because he remembered not to do mercy, and persecuted the poor and the beggar and the stricken in spirit even unto death. He loved cursing and it shall come to him; he wished not blessing, and it shall be far off from him."
And a little lower down He again calls Himself a poor man (d) and a beggar, and says: |206
"And thou, Lord most high, have mercy on me, for thy name's sake, for good is thy mercy. Save me, for I am poor and a beggar."
And he adds after an interval:
"My knees were weak through fasting, and my flesh was changed for lack of oil, and I become a jest to them. They saw me, and shaked their heads at me." (478)
And all this was fulfilled, when "The passers-by reviled him, wagging their heads and saying, He saved others, himself he cannot save." And since, even now, the Jews draw down the curse of their fathers upon themselves, and are wont with blasphemy and impious words to anathematize our Lord and Saviour and all that believe on Him, He goes on to say:
"They shall curse, hut thou wilt bless. May they that arise against me be ashamed, but thy servant shall rejoice. Let them who speak evil of me be clothed with shame, and be clothed in confusion as with a cloak. (b) But I will confess the Lord with my mouth, and amid many will I praise him, for he stood by the right hand of the poor, to save my soul from the persecutors."
And it is quite clear, even now, to what evils they that invoke curses in their synagogues have grown accustomed, never at all being able to recover from those same times, while He offers to His Father in the midst of many nations the praise of His new Covenant, having the Father working with Him, Who sits at His own right hand. "Wherefore," (c) He says, "in the midst of many will I praise him, for he stood at the right hand of the poor." And He assures of His own preservation after death in the words: "To save my soul from the persecutors." For after He had said above, "He persecuted the poor man and the beggar and him that was stricken in heart even unto death," and had shewed forth His own death outlining the prophecy, He said figuratively, "For he stood at the right hand of the poor, to save his soul from the persecutors." |207
Still of Judas, and of the Money in Return for which He betrayed the Lord, and of the casting away of the Jewish Race, both Rulers and Ruled.
[Passage quoted, Zech. xi. 7b-14.] (479)
THIS was fulfilled when, according to Luke:
"Judas went away, and spoke with the chief priests (c) and scribes and captains of the Temple, that he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money;"
or, according to Mark when, "he went to the chief priests to betray him; and they were glad and promised to give him money." In each case it is simply money that is named. But in Matthew the amount is recorded, and it agrees with the quotation from Zechariah. For Matthew says:
"Then went one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, (d) to the chief priests, and said to them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? and they weighed unto him thirty staters."
And this agrees with, "And they weighed my price thirty pieces of silver," spoken by the Lord in the prophecy.
And there is added to this, "And the Lord said to me, Drop them into the furnace, and see if it is good metal, as I was tested by them." For which Aquila renders: "And the Lord said to me, Drop them into the furnace, cast them to the potter: very great is the price, at which I was valued by them."
And notice how the Lord Himself confesses that a sum of (480) thirty pieces of silver was given for Him. The meaning of His words implies something like this: I the Lord from the very first day ceased not to give to you Jews proofs of My kindness, and in countless ways I did you good, not only through the earliest prophets, but also by My presence in moral teaching and spiritual education, in signs and wonders, and other miracles, and in cures and attentions: now you (b) that were privileged to receive such benefits, give My price or refuse it, demanding of them, it would seem, the fruits of holiness, and the proof of their faith in Him. But they, as |208 the preceding quotation tells, instead of loving Me spoke evil of Me, and laid evil on Me instead of good, and hatred instead of My love, weighing out thirty pieces of silver, as if they valued at that price Him that was sold. But since the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is, He rightly bids them cast it into the furnace, adding, "As I was tested by them." Perhaps the House of God is here (c) called a Furnace. For the Lord says, according to the Septuagint, "Cast them into the Furnace," and adds, "And they cast them into the Furnace, the House of God"; while according to Aquila the Lord says, "Cast it, that is the money, to the potter," and adds, "And I cast it in the House of the Lord to the potter." According to Symmachus, the Lord says, "Cast it into the furnace," (d) and adds, "I cast it into the House of the Lord, into the Furnace." And was not this fulfilled when Judas----
"3. that betrayed the Lord, seeing that he was condemned, repented and returned the money to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood? 4. And they said to him, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5. And he cast down the money in the Temple and went and hanged himself. 6. And the chief priests took the money and said, It is not lawful to put them in the treasury, for it is (481) the price of blood. 7. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potters' field to bury strangers in: 8. Wherefore that field is called the field of blood unto this day. 9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value, 10. and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me."
But as this passage is not found in the prophecy of Jeremiah, you must consider whether it is to be supposed that they have been removed through any evil intention, or whether there has been an error in copying, through the |209 mistake of some careless transcriber of the Holy Gospels, who wrote Jeremiah instead of Zechariah, where he ought to have copied, "Then was fulfilled that which was written by Zechariah the prophet," and instead of, "And they cast them into the house of the Lord, into the furnace," wrote in error, "And they bought with them the field of the potter." For the prophecy explicitly states that the money was cast into the Temple of the Lord, so does the Gospel: for, "Judas," it (c) says, "cast the money into the Temple, and departed." And perhaps it was through this money that the Temple was rendered profane, and the words, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate," were fulfilled. And you may well ask whether the House of God was called a Furnace, because it is there that the souls of men are fashioned as in a crucible by the fire of divine teaching, or convicted of impurity, as if they were fired and tried in a furnace. Hence Aquila says, "I cast the money in the house of the (d) Lord to the potter," clearly teaching that the Divine Word dwells like a potter in the House of the Lord, and moulds and renews the souls of them that enter.
But if the price of Him that was valued, there cast down rendered the House profane, it is natural for Him to proceed to say, "And I cast the second rod, the Rope, to break the covenant between Judah and Israel."
For from that day the multitude of the nation was cut away from God's ancient providential guardianship. And I suppose the second rod to mean the whole Jewish nation. It is therefore called a Rope in the words, "The one I called Beauty, and the other I called a Rope." And he (482) proceeds to speak clearly of the second: "And I cast away the second rod, the Rope, to break my covenant between Judah and Israel." For they were the Rope and the second rod. But the first rod, called Beauty, was Jerusalem itself, and the Mosaic Worship, and the whole of the old covenant. This is shewn by the prophecy, saying, "And I will take my rod of beauty, and I will cast it away, to break my covenant." You sec that it says that the first rod was the (b) Covenant, and the second rod the Rope, but He threatens to cast them both away, first saying, "And I will take for myself two rods, the one I called Beauty, and the other I called a Rope"; or with Symmachus, "The one I called (c) glory, and the other I called a Rope." For thus he rightly |210 styled the glory and beauty of the whole nation the divine Law, and the Covenant, which it included. For the solemnities of Jerusalem, and the high-priestly ritual, and all the ancient observances of the divine Law and old Covenant, were a fair glory to them that lived under their order. And the multitude of the nation is called a Rope by Moses, (d) when he says: "The portion of the Lord is His people Jacob, and Israel is the Rope of His inheritance."
But here it is prophesied that there will be a complete change of the two rods at the time named, so that the ancient Covenant that was therein of old, and its ancient beauty being destroyed, and the Rope and the whole nation broken through, when they had valued for thirty pieces of silver Him that was valued, they should bear the fit dishonour for their impiety. It therefore says, "And I will take my rod of Beauty, and cast it away, and break my covenant." And also, "And I cast away the second rod, the Rope." (483) And when the prophecy goes on to say, "And I will take away three shepherds in one month," I think that it refers to the three divisions of the ancient leaders of the people of God----the King, the Prophet, and the High-Priest----for by those three shepherds all the affairs of the ancients were managed. But since those three offices were destroyed together in our Saviour's time----(for their king reigned not in accordance with the Law, being a foreigner and not a member of the Jewish race; their high-priest was appointed to his office by the Romans, and did not attain his rank by the order of succession of the tribe, nor according to lawful (b) custom; and their prophets that had ceased until John arose were no longer active among them, but they had instead a wicked false prophet who led the people astray)---- He rightly threatens that He will take away at one time the three offices of grace, that had of old adorned the whole nation with wondrous glory, and says, "And I will take away three shepherds in one month, and my heart shall be sorrowful for them." For which Aquila renders, "And my soul was torn asunder for them," Symmachus, "And my soul perished for them," and Theodotion, "And my soul (c) perished about them." And he gives the reason of the perishing of his soul, saying, "For their souls were hardened |211 to me." Instead of this Aquila has, "For their soul was strong in me"; and Symmachus, "And their soul reached its height in me." And a similar expression to the words, "Their souls are hardened to me," of the Septuagint, is found in Jeremiah as spoken by the Lord, namely:
"I have left my home, I have forsaken my inheritance, I have given my beloved soul into the hand of its enemies. My inheritance has become to me as a lion in a forest, it has opened on me its voice. Is not my (d) beloved now to me as a hyaena's cave? "
And then He naturally goes on to say:
"I will not shepherd you, that which is dying may die, that which is failing may fail, and let the remnant eat each one the flesh of his neighbour."
And after this He says, "I will take my rod of beauty and cast it away." For which Aquila renders: "And I took my rod, the Glory, and cut it off," meaning the Mosaic Worship. Thus the first rod mentioned in the beginning of the passage is said to be the first to be broken and cast away. But when the price of Him that was valued and the (484) money paid for Him to the traitor was cast into the House of the Lord as into a furnace, then we see what is prophesied will happen to the second rod, that is to say to the whole nation in the words, "And I cast away the second rod, the Rope, to break my covenant between Judah and Israel."
And as the oracle intended clearly their destruction by this, it naturally goes on to say that they shall no longer recognize the power of things prophesied, but the Canaanites will, when He says, "And the Canaanites shall know, my (b) sheep kept for me, because it is the Word of the Lord." Who are meant by the Canaanites but ourselves, who once were foreigners, and sheep kept for Christ from all the old heathen and sinful nations? We that have been converted by His grace, and understanding the things prophesied, have received the true knowledge of the word of the Lord; yea, we Canaanites know and understand what was meant; but they that boasted of Israel, and gloried in being of the (c) seed of Abraham, neither knew nor understood. |212
Still of Judas, Who is named.
[Passage quoted, Jer. xvii. 1-4.]
THOUGH this passage is not found in the Septuagint, yet it is in the Hebrew and in the editions of the other translators, and is quoted with asterisks in the more accurate copies of the Septuagint. I have necessarily quoted it, (485) because it gives the name of the traitor Judas, and teaches that the sin he committed can never be wiped out. For this I think is implied by the words, "The sin of Judas is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond." It could refer also to the whole Jewish nation, as a threat of the utter destruction that would overtake them in the immediate train of their indelible iniquity, an interpretation I have no time now to expound word by word, (b) And now that I have prepared the way by giving so many examples of prophecies concerning him that was to betray our Lord and Saviour, and those that conspired against Him in other ways, let us examine what was foretold in connection with His actual Passion.
Of the Eclipse of the Sun at the Time of Our Saviour's Passion, and of the Total Destruction of the Jewish Nation.
[Passage quoted, Amos viii. 7-12.]
THIS prophecy foretells the pride, insolence and rebellion of the Jews against our Saviour, and says that the Lord (486) sware against the presumption of Jacob, that their insolence |213 against Him should never be forgotten, and that their land and its inhabitants should undergo suffering and mourning, and that no more as before should they be punished a little while and then restored, but that this judgment should last for ever. For He says, "Complete destruction shall come upon them," meaning that wrath in the time of the Roman Empire would attack them, that a river should rise on them as on men who before were lifted up.
And then after this anger of God against them, their state, He says, will again "Come down like the river of (b) Egypt."
By which I think is meant, that the ancient glories of the Jews once so lofty, so prized by God, and as it were exalted on high, will become like the state of the heathen nations, which flow and pass by like a river, and will go from height to depth. And He next tells what will happen at the time of the saving Passion, "In that day," He says, saith the Lord, "the sun shall set at midday, and the light shall be (c) darkened on the earth at daytime," and this was plainly fulfilled, when our Lord was lifted up, according to the Gospel:
"And there was darkness over all the earth from the sixth hour even to the ninth hour, and about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani."
This prophecy was thus fulfilled, and it goes on to say:
"And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your song into lamentation. And I will bring sackcloth (d) on all loins, and baldness on every head: And I will make him as grief for a dear one, and them with him as a day of pain. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send famine upon the earth, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord," etc.
And all this prophecy of what would result from their insolence against the Christ has been clearly proved to have taken place after their plot against our Saviour. For it was not before it, but afterwards from that day to this that God turned their feasts into mourning, despoiled them of their famous mother-city, and destroyed the holy Temple (487) |214 therein when Titus and Vespasian were Emperors of Rome, so that they could no longer go up to keep their feasts and sacred meetings. I need not say that a famine of hearing the Word of the Lord has overtaken them all, in return for their rejection of the Word of God; since with one voice they refused Him, so He refuses them.
(b) From Zechariah.
Still concerning the Eclipse of the Sun, and of the Time of the Saving Passion.
[Passage quoted, Zech. xiv. 5-9.]
THIS was fulfilled by the coming of our Saviour, accompanied either by His holy apostles and disciples, or by His holy ones, the divine powers and unembodied spirits, His (d) angels and ministers, of whom the holy gospel says, "Angels came and ministered unto him." In that day (for this is the usual name given in Holy Scripture to the time of His sojourn on earth) the prophecy before us was fulfilled as well as the other predictions, when at the time of His Passion, "From the sixth hour unto the ninth hour there was darkness over all the earth." Therefore the prophecy says, "In that day there shall be no light." And also, "It shall not be day nor night: but towards evening it shall be light." Where we have, I think, an exact description of the time, when, our Lord being lifted up, though it was day, (488) night filled the atmosphere from the sixth to the ninth hour. And afterwards the darkness cleared, and it was bright daylight, until night fell as usual. So the word of the prophecy implies, "And that day is known to the Lord, and it shall be neither day nor night: and towards evening it shall be light." For it was not day because of the midday darkness; nor was it night because of the returning day, which is shewn by the words, "Towards evening it shall be light." (b) And the mention of the wintry season is astonishing indeed in the words of the prophecy, which say, "There shall be frost and cold"; for this is supported by the evidence of |215 the Gospel, which tells how Peter following Jesus warmed himself in the Hall of Caiaphas with the others, where a fire was kindled. John actually mentions the cold, saying, "The servants and attendants stood round, having made a fire of coals, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves." The prophecy was thus literally fulfilled. And figuratively, as well in regard to the whole Jewish nation the reality of which those things were symbols was also fulfilled----when the light of salvation shone on them, and they chose darkness rather (c) than light, and the light departed from them, and unspeakable night overwhelmed them, and the eyes of their mind were darkened, so that the rays of the Gospel should not shine in their hearts, and when too their love to God waxed cold. And in them too the rest of the prophecy was fulfilled, when on the day of our Saviour's coming living water came forth from Jerusalem, and the fruitful living word of Gospel Teaching went forth to all nations, beginning from (d) Jerusalem, yea, from Jerusalem itself, and was spread over all the earth, even to the utmost bounds of the world. The Lord and Saviour Himself speaks of this water to the Samaritan woman:
"If thou knewest who it is that asketh thee for drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."
And He goes on to teach what advantage would accrue to all that taste of the living spiritual spring, saying that they that drink thereof, denying the many evil daemons who ruled them of old, will confess their one Lord and King, and that the Lord, that once was known only to the Hebrews, will become King of all nations that believe in (489) Him from all the earth, and that His Name will be one, encircling all the earth and the wilderness. And who is not struck at seeing this fulfilled? For the Christian name, derived from the Name of Christ (and Christ was indeed the Lord) has encircled every place and city and land, and the very nations that dwell in the wilderness and at the ends of the earth, as the prophecy foretold. |216
From Psalm xxi.
Of What was done at Our Saviour's Passion. At the End concerning His being succoured in the Morning.
(490) [Passage quoted, Ps. xxi. 2-32.]
THE words, "My God, give ear to me, why hast thou forsaken me?" spoken at the opening of the Psalm, are recorded by Matthew to have been said by our Saviour at the time of the Passion:
"And at the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour, and at the ninth hour Jesus called with a loud voice, Eloim, Eloim, lama sabachthani, that is to say, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
And the Hebrew words are taken from this prophecy. So, then, the beginning of the Psalm includes the words "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani" in the same syllables, which (491) Aquila has thus translated: "My strong one, my strong one, why hast thou left me?" And everyone will agree that this is equivalent to our Saviour's words at the time of His Passion. You may therefore be quite convinced that the Psalm refers to Him and no one else, for its contents harmonize with none other but Him. The other predictions are exactly fulfilled in Him; and especially the words, "They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots." It also foretells literally the (b) driving in of the nails, when His hands and feet were nailed to the Cross, saying "They pierced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones." And the other predictions apply to Him alone, as my argument will shew. But if any one would apply them to some other person, whether king, prophet, or other godly man among the Jews, let him prove if he can how what is written is in harmony with him. For who of those who were ever born of women has attained such heights of virtue and power, as to embrace the knowledge (c) of God with unchanging reason, with unruffled soul, and with sober mind, and to fasten all his trust on God, so |217 as to say, "Thou art He that took me out of my mother's womb, my hope from my mother's breasts. I was cast on thee from my mother, from my mother's womb Thou art my God." And who that has ever been so cared for by God, has also become "a reproach of men "and "the outcast of the people''? By what bulls and calves can we (d) suppose such a man to have been surrounded? And in what suffering was he "poured out like water"? How were "all his bones loosened"? How was "he brought into the dust of death," and being brought into the dust of death how does he say those words still and live and speak? Who are "the dogs "that surround him, that are other than the beforenamed "bulls and calves"? What gathering of evil men pierced his feet as well as his hands, stripped him of his raiment, divided some of it among themselves, and cast lots for the remainder? What was the sword, the dog, and the lion? Who are they that surrounded him that are called Unicorns? And how after (492) a struggle with such numbers, after being brought into the dust of death, can he promise to proclaim His Father's name, not to all, but only to his brethren?
Who are the brethren, and what church is it of which this sufferer says, "In the midst of the Church I will hymn thee," adding, not the one Jewish nation but, "All the earth shall understand, and turn to the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him"? It is for you yourself to test every expression in the Psalm, and see if it is possible to apply them to any chance (b) character. You will find them only applicable to our Saviour, Who is most true and most to be trusted, and Who applied the words of the Psalm to Himself, as the Evangelists bear witness: Matthew in the quotations I have given, and Mark in his own record, where he says:
"And at the sixth hour there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour (c) Jesus cried with a loud voice saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani, which is to say, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And certain of them that heard said, He calleth for Elias.''
Let us now proceed to investigate, in what way the |218 expressions of the Psalm must be referred to Him. And first we will deal with the inscription which says, "To the end," or according to Aquila, "To the Conqueror," or according to Symmachus, "Ode of Victory concerning the Succour." I have an idea, based on the words of the Evangelists, "There was darkness from the sixth hour unto the ninth hour," that our Saviour's Passion was concluded about the ninth hour, when with a loud voice He spake the words quoted a little before, and that we should consider that His Passion was past at eventide on the approach of night. Then His Resurrection from the dead, which was the Succour of the Father Who succoured Him, and drew Him to Himself, from the land of death, and received Him, must have taken place at dawn, as we learn from the Evangelists. For Luke says, "On the first day of the week at the break of dawn they came [that is the women], to the sepulchre, bearing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And going in they did not find the Body, because our Saviour was already risen from the dead." Mark also tells the same story, saying:
"And very early in the morning, on the first day of the week they went to the sepulchre, at the rising of the sun, and said to one another, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the Sepulchre? for it was very great."
They went, and found it rolled away. And He was already risen. There is the same witness in John: "On the first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene to the sepulchre, while it was still dark, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre." And Matthew too, although he had said, "late on the Sabbath," adds, "As it began to dawn on the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary to see the sepulchre, and behold there was a great earthquake. For the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone from the door of the sepulchre." I have necessarily given |219 these quotations to shew the meaning of the "succour at dawn "predicted in the Psalm. For since it tells of our Saviour's Passion, and since the dispensation concerning Him was in no way hindered by the Passion, and the end of the Passion was His Resurrection from the dead and "the succour at dawn," the oracle crowns its description with the final miracle, as if the whole account and the sufferings before the end were incidental to the Resurrection from the dead, and the succour at dawn. For our Lord and Saviour said, (d) "My God, my God, give ear to me, why hast thou forsaken me? "And then added, "I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men, and the outcast of the people"; and in addition to this, "Many oxen have encircled me, fat bulls have hemmed me in"; and gave a clear prediction of His Death in the verse, "Thou hast brought me into the dust of death, for many dogs have surrounded me, the council of the wicked has hemmed me in, they pierced my hands and my feet;" and He gave still further details of His Passion in the words, "They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots." And having given those and similar predictions He did not cease there, but added: "Ye that fear the Lord praise (494) him, for he hath not despised, nor been angered at the prayer of the poor, nor turned his face from him, but when I cried unto him he heard me." How could He claim to have been heard, unless He had had a complete answer to the prayers which He had just uttered, when He said, "Thou hast brought me into the dust of death. Save my soul from the sword, and my only-begotten from the power of the dog"? Nay, having prayed thus, and asked that He might be rescued and saved from these enemies, He adds, '' He hath not despised, nor been angry at the prayer of the poor, nor turned away his face from him: but when I cried unto him, he heard me." He evidently means His Return to life after death, which came to pass through the Succour at dawn, which the Psalm goes on to shew, saying, "But thou, O Lord, do not remove thy help, come to my succour." And it is. this succour that is referred to by the Inscription of the Psalm.
So much about the Inscription of the Psalm. Let us now (c) sound the deeper studies of the Hebrews on the words, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani," which were said by. our |220 Saviour in the hour of His Passion in the actual Hebrew words, and which are enshrined in the Psalm. Now Eloeim is a name for God. And you will find it throughout nearly all the Scriptures: and even now in the Septuagint He is called properly by the Hebrew name. Though of course the Hebrews had other expressions for the divine Name----such as Saddai, Jao, El, and the like.
This Psalm then uses "Eli, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani," as our Lord Himself does, and not Eloeim. And so Aquila, aware of the distinct meaning of God's Hebrew name of Eloeim, did not, like the other translators, think good to render them "My God, my God"----but "My strong one, my strong one," or more accurately, "My strength, my strength." So that taking this sense the Lamb of God our Saviour, when he said, "Eli, Eli," to His Father, meant, "My strong one, my strong one, why hast thou forsaken me?" And may.be He was crucified, because His Strong One had left Him, as the apostle says, "For he was crucified in weakness, but he liveth by the power of God," implying that He would not have been crucified, unless His Strong One had left Him. And surely it befits the Lamb of God, Who was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearers is dumb, to attribute His own powers to God, and to reckon He had nothing of His own except His Father: wherefore He calls His Father His Strength, just as in Psalm xviii. He gives Him the names of Strength and Refuge, saying:
"I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my foundation, and my refuge, and saviour. My God, my helper, and I will trust in him; my protector, the horn also of my refuge, and my succour.
His Strong One forsook Him then, because He wished Him to go unto death, even "the death of the cross," and to be set forth as the ransom and sacrifice for the whole world, and to be the purification of the life of them that believe in Him. And He, since he understood at once His Father's Divine counsel, and because He discerned better than any other why He was forsaken by the Father, humbled Himself even more, and embraced death for us with all willingness, and "became a curse for us," holy and |221 all-blessed though He was, and "He that knew no sin, became sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Yea more----to wash away our sins He was crucified, suffering what we who were sinful should have suffered, as our sacrifice and ransom, so that we may well say with the prophet, He bears our sins, and is pained for us, and he was wounded for our sins, and bruised for our iniquities, so that by His stripes we might be healed, for the Lord hath given Him for our sins. So, as delivered up by the Father, as bruised, as bearing our sins, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. With this the apostle agrees when he says, "Who spared not his own Son, but delivered him for us all." And it is to impel us to ask why the Father forsook Him, that He says, "Why hast thou forsaken me? "The answer is, to ransom the whole human race, buying them with His precious Blood from their former slavery to their invisible tyrants, the unclean daemons, and the rulers and spirits of evil.
And the Father forsook Him for another reason, namely, that the love of Christ Himself for men might be set forth. For no one had power over His life, but He gave it willingly for men, as He teaches us Himself in the words, "No one taketh my life from me: I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."
After this He says, "Far from my salvation are the words of my sins." Instead of which Aquila translates, "Far from my salvation are the words of my complaint"; and Symmachus, "The words of my lamentations are removed from my salvation." And in yet a fifth translation it is rendered, "Far from my salvation are the words of my requests." It I is to be especially remarked that in neither of these translations does the expression "of my sins "appear, as it sometimes happens that similar alterations are made in a text by the error of a copyist. And we must accept the version given by the majority of the translators, unless we can understand Him to mean that the sins are ours, but that He has made them His own.
He next says, "My God, I will cry by day, and thou (d) wilt not hear, and by night, and it shall not be folly for |222 me." Instead of which Symmachus has, "My God, I will call by day, and thou wilt not hear, and by night, and there is no silence." He is surely shewing His surprise here that the Father does not hear Him, He regards it as something strange and unusual. But that Father reserved His hearing till the fit time that He should be heard. That time was the hour of dawn, of the Resurrection from the dead, when to Him it could be more justly said than to any, "In a time accepted I heard thee, and in a day of salvation I succoured thee. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." This, of course, could be said in another sense by our Saviour, as one always accustomed to be heard by the Father, as if He said, to put it more clearly: "Is it possible, O Father, that I, Thine only and beloved Son, should not be heard, when I cry and call to my Father? "For this is the very point He dwells on in John's Gospel at the raising of Lazarus, when He says, "Take away the stone from the sepulchre," and "raised his eyes to heaven and said, Father, 1 thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always." If, then, He heareth Him always, it is not in doubt but in absolute assurance that He will be heard, as if it were impossible for Him not to be heard, that He speaks in the form of a question the words: "My God, shall I cry in the day, and thou not hear?" And we must put a note of interrogation after "hear," and understand that the answer to the question is a negative.
And He shews that this is right a little further on in the Psalm, when He says:
"He hath not despised, nor been angry at the prayer of the poor, nor turned his face from him, but when he cried unto him he heard him."
For how could He say negatively, "My God, I will cry by day, and thou wilt not hear," except in the sense I (c) have suggested? And I think He implies this sense when He says, "My God, shall I cry by day, and wilt thou not hear? and by night, and it is not folly for me." "For I do not cry 'Thou wilt not hear,' He says, 'in folly': for I know that I say this inspired by the conviction that it is Thy nature to help and to hear not only me, but all Thy |223 saints. For Thou ever 'dwellest in Thy saints' continually, and art 'the praise' of every godly man that is called 'Israel.' For Thy sake to every one that worships Thee no (d) common praise accrues; in Thee our fathers hoped, and by their trust were saved from the evils that attacked them, 'Unto Thee they cried, and were saved.' Since, then, all Thy saints have had this blessing of Thee, to cry unto Thee and be heard and not be ashamed, how much more readily and specially wilt Thou hear Thy beloved Son that cries? And, if I ask as one who wonders, 'Shall I cry and Thou wilt not hear?' yet shall not My words be regarded as folly. For I know that I utter My prayer, not as one that glories or as one that boasts, but as one of lowly mind. For being gentle and lowly in heart, My words are humble and spoken in humility like My own gentleness, even as I call Myself a worm. For what could be more lowly than a worm? Hence I call Myself 'no man,' since I have descended from (498) My own majesty to such lowliness, that I seem to be no more than a worm, so that I may undergo even death and the destruction of My body. For how else can worms be generated but from the destruction of bodies, and I going to such destruction recognize Myself rightly as a worm and no man. So, too, have I become a reproach of men and the outcast of the people, and I should have become neither unless I had reached the state of a worm at the time of My Passion. For it was then that they who saw Me hanging (b) on the Cross mocked Me, and spake with their lips, and shook their heads saying, 'He trusted in God, let Him deliver him, let Him save him if He desires him.'"
This was the clear prophecy of the Psalmist of what was (c) to come to pass a long time after him, and it was fulfilled when, according to Matthew----
"Two thieves being crucified with him, one on the right of the Saviour and one on the left, the passers-by reviled him, wagging their heads and saying, Woe, Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself; if thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise the chief priests mocking him with the elders and scribes said, he saved others, himself he cannot save. If he be the King of |224 Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. If he trusted in God, let him deliver him now if he will have him, for he said, I am the Son of God."
And according to Luke:
"The people stood beholding, and the rulers with them mocked him saying, He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Christ, the Son of God, the chosen."
And according to Mark:
"And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself and come down from the cross. Likewise the chief priests, mocking between themselves with the scribes, said, He saved others, himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe in him."
Where is the discrepancy between this and the prophecies in the Psalm,
"I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men and the outcast of the people. All they that saw me reviled me, they spoke with their lips, they shook their heads, saying, he trusted in the Lord, let him deliver him, let him save him if he desires him"?
Wonder not if this was said of and fulfilled by the Passion of our Saviour, for even now He is a reproach among all men who have not yet received faith in Him ! For what is more shameful or worse than any reproach than to be crucified? Yea, He is an outcast of the people of the Jews, for even to-day that whole race loves to mock Him, to set Him at naught, and to spit on Him: wherefore the apostle rightly says:
"We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Gentiles foolishness."
And that which follows in the Psalm you will find even now said of Him by the multitude. Such, then, was His prayer concerning the affliction that overtook Him. And since He knew that His original union with our flesh, and His birth of a woman that was a Virgin was no worse |225 experience than the suffering of death, while He speaks of His death He also mentions His birth, saying to the Father:
"Thou art he that took me out of my mother's womb: Thou wast my hope even from my mother's breasts. On thee was I cast from my mother: from my mother's womb thou art my God."
Thus He naturally remembers this to comfort Him in His present affliction.
"For just as Thou wert My Succour," He says, "when I took the body of man, when Thou, my God and Father, like a midwife didst draw the body that had been prepared for Me by the Holy Spirit from My travailing mother, putting (d) forth Thy power, to prevent any attempt or plan of hostile powers, envious of My entry into humanity. And since at the very Conception Thou didst overshadow that which was in the womb, so that the rulers of this world might not be aware of the Conception of the Holy Virgin by the Holy Spirit; which mighty mystery thy Archangel Gabriel did reveal to Mary, saying: 'The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.' Just as the power of the Highest overshadowed Me when I was conceived, and took Me out of My mother's womb when I was born, so it is now My sure consolation, that Thou wilt much more save Me from death. And in this hope I put My trust in Thee, My God, My Lord, My Father: I put My trust not as now first beginning My hope in Thee, for I trusted Thee even when I drew My infant food from My mother's breasts, and was thought to be like human babes powerless and without reason. Such I was not, though I had a human body: it was not like in power or (b) substance to other bodies, I was free and unfettered, as Thy Lamb, O God, though at that age nourished with milk, I mean from My mother's breasts. And no one will think this impossible, if he remembers that even before I was cast on Thee from My mother, and from the womb of My mother Thou art My God. For while still carried in the treasury of her that brought Me forth I saw Thee, My God, (c) as one who continued separate and untroubled though in |226 such close contact with things of flesh, yea, as one who had no body yet and was free of all bonds. And so was I cast on Thee from My mother, on Thee, My God, from My mother's breasts, so that My power was felt while I was still borne in the womb of the Holy Virgin by My forerunner John, while he was yet in the womb of Elizabeth, so that, stirred by My divinity, he leapt for joy, and was filled with (d) the Holy Spirit.
"Bearing such memories in My mind, and ever setting My God and Father before My eyes, it is not strange that in this present hour of supreme suffering I should do the same, when in My obedience to Thee, My Father, of My own will and consent I became a worm and no man, a reproach of men and the outcast of the people. And now when all who gaze on My body nailed to the Cross think they see a sight of ill omen and mock Me, pouring such a flood of reviling and satire upon Me, shewing that they not only think evil of Me and harbour it in their minds, but speak it without fear and say it openly: for 'They spoke with their lips, and shook their heads, saying, He (501) trusted in the Lord, let Him deliver him.'
"So now when such troubles hem Me in, I call upon Thee, My Father, who drew Me out of My mother's womb, on Whom I was cast from My mother, in Whom I trusted from her breasts, made known to Me and acknowledged as My God even from My mother's womb, and I beseech Thee not to depart from Me, for affliction is near. For there comes, He says, yea, is all but come and at the door, afflicting Me and pressing upon Me the last cloud of all, the cloud of My surpassing trouble. I do not mean this (b) trouble which now enfolds Me, nor the Cross, nor the jeers of men, nor the mockery, nor anything at all that I underwent before the Cross, scourging, insults, nor all My vile treatment from the sons of men; but I look to the dissolution of the body in death itself, and the descent into Hades next thereto, and the onset of the hostile powers opposed to God. And I therefore say, 'Trouble is near, and there is no helper.'"
It is surely the very climax of affliction to have no helper. |227
For Christ went thither for the salvation of the souls in (c) Hades that had so long awaited His arrival, He went down to shatter the gates of brass, and to break the iron bonds, and to let them go free that before were prisoners in Hades. Which was indeed done, when many bodies of the saints that slept arose and entered with Him into the true Holy City of God. But the opposing powers, added to mere human evil, attacked Him, grieving and afflicting Him sorely, though in His excess of goodness He lamented even over them. (d)
But observe how all this is said, as in the person of Him that was carried in a mother's womb, and born of a mother, Whom we called the Lamb of God. For the words about the Passion apply to Him, just as did those about the Incarnate Birth. For that which is born must die, and that which dies can only travel the road to death which starts from birth.
This, then, our Lord and Saviour unfolds, not as being in nature without flesh and body, nor in so far as He is regarded as the Word of God and Divine, but in so far as He was able to say in His prayer to His Father:
"Thou didst draw me out of my mother's womb, (502) thou wast my hope from my mother's breasts. I was cast on thee from my mother, thou art my God from my mother's womb."
He then in His Passion prays such a prayer to His Father, and says:
"Many hostile forces will surround Me, unclean daemons, and spirits of wickedness, and above all the prince of this world himself the vilest of them all, who because of their wickedness may well be called after evil beasts, be it savage (b) bulls, or calves, or lions, or dogs. And as I essay to withstand them all, but to do them no good, because from the intense evil of their nature they are incapable of receiving good from Me, with none of them for My helper or fellow-worker in My contest on behalf of the souls in Hades, am I not right in saying, 'Trouble is near, and there is no helper'?"
Of course it was not to be expected that any of the evil |228 and hostile powers would have worked with Him, or aided (c) Him in His mission of good. But surely the bitterest element in the cup of pain that was His, was that none of the good and favouring angels, and none of the divine powers, dared to venture to the halls of Death and help Him in succouring the souls there. For in Him alone was there courage, since to Him only were the gates of death opened, Him only the janitors of Hades saw and feared, and He that has the power of death, descending from His royal throne, as recognizing Him only for His Lord, spoke gently (d) to Him with prayer and supplication, as Job relates. Yet He, seeing the impious realm of the tyrant so strong that no heavenly being dared to accompany Him to that bourne, or to help Him in saving the souls there, cries naturally, "Trouble is near, and there is ho helper," since the only Being from heaven who could have helped Him had forsaken Him, so that the glory and independence of His own choice and of His own victory might be proclaimed to all. And since the only Being that could help Him was not then His helper, it is natural that His first words should be, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why (503) hast thou forsaken me?" For when He was conceived, and when He was brought forth by the Holy Virgin His Father's power was with Him, when the Holy Spirit came upon the maiden, and the Power of the Highest overshadowed her, and the Father Himself, as the oracle shews, drew forth Him that was begotten from her womb. But when in the hour of His Passion He entered on His struggle with Death, the Helper was no longer with Him. Yea, I (b) believe His own witness of this. For the words, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which He spoke on the Cross, and which were prophetically foretold in the Psalm, what else do they mean but that like a great athlete He was matched |229 against all these adversaries, while Almighty God ordered the contest and gave the decision? Thus He summons His Father as the overseer of what is being done, and as the adviser, like a clever Anointer, to come to Him, especially as He has no other helper, but only Him that governs (c) the content. And so He says in prayer, "Be not thou far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no helper."
And when with divine eyes He saw His body being suspended on the tree, the unembodied and invisible powers without in the air hovering around Him like voracious birds and wild beasts, and knew that almost at once His body would be a corpse, and fell the powers and rulers of the air surging around Him on every side, the spirit which now worketh in the children of disobedience, and the (d) daemons flying over the earth wherever men inhabit, and perhaps also the wild and dreadful beasts of Tartarus, of which Isaiah said, addressing Lucifer that had fallen from heaven: "Hades beneath was disturbed to meet thee, all the giants rose before thee." When, then, He saw all those without surrounding His crucified body, and preparing to attack Him, He describes their array when He says: "Many oxen have surrounded me, fat bulls hem me in. They have (504) opened their mouths against Me, as a lion voracious and roaring." For most likely they thought that the soul which dwelt in the body of Jesus was human and like other human souls; and opened their mouths as if to devour it like the other human souls. So He says, "They opened their mouths on me, like a lion voracious and roaring." And next He adds, "I am poured out like water." This may be said to have been fulfilled outwardly and historically, when One of the soldiers, according to the Evangelist John, (b) "pierced the side "of the Lamb of God "with a spear, and forthwith came there out blood and water." But He rather seems to refer to the dying of His entire spiritual being when He says:
"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are loosened, my heart in the midst of my body is like melting wax. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue has cleaved to my throat."
For this is surely a description of a dead body. So, too, |230 He adds, "And thou hast brought me to the dust of death."
And then, starting again from what was now past, to comfort Himself for what was yet to happen, He describes what He went through when they plotted against Him. "Many dogs surrounded me, the council of the wicked hemmed me in," meaning probably both the soldiers and the Jews who rose against Him.
"27. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30. And they spit upon him, and took the reed and smote him on the head. 31. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him."
This is almost an exact fulfilment of "Many dogs surrounded me, the council of the wicked hemmed me in"; moreover, "They pierced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones," and also, "They came staring and looking upon me," and "They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots," were all fulfilled, when they fastened His hands and feet to the Cross with nails, and when they took His garments and divided them among them. For John's record is:
"23. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier (b) a part: and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam woven from the top throughout. 24. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots whose it shall be; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith: They parted my garments among them, and for my vesture did they cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did." |231
And Matthew witnesses to what was done as follows:
"And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him."
The dogs that surrounded Him and the council of the wicked were the rulers of the Jews, the Scribes and High Priests, and the Pharisees, who spurred on the whole multitude to demand His blood against themselves and against their own children. Isaiah clearly calls them dogs, when he says: "Ye are all foolish dogs, unable to bark." For when it was their duty, even if they could not acquire the character of shepherds, to protect like good sheepdogs their Master's spiritual flock and the sheep of the house of Israel, and to warn by barking, and to fawn upon their Master and recognize Him, and to guard the flock entrusted to them with all vigilance, and to bark if necessary at enemies outside the fold, they preferred like senseless dogs, yes, like mad dogs, to drive the sheep wild by barking, so that the words aptly describe them, which say: "Many dogs have surrounded me, the council of the wicked have hemmed me in." And all who even now conduct themselves like them in reviling and barking at the Christ of God in the same way may be reckoned their kin; yea, they who like those impious soldiers crucify the Son of God, and put Him to shame, have a character very like theirs. Yea, all who to-day insult the Body of Christ, that is the Church, and attempt to destroy the hands and feet and very bones, are of their number, if it be true that:
"We are one body in Christ, and all members one of another, and the head must not say to the feet, I have no need of you, nor the eyes to the hands."
Thus in times of persecution, it may be aptly said of those who work against the members of Christ on the side of their enemies: "They pierced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones." Then, too, they divide His garments among them, and cast lots upon His vesture, when each individual tears and destroys the glory of His |232 Word, I mean the words of the Holy Scriptures, now this way, now that, and when they take up opinions about (c) Him from misleading schools of thought such as godless heretics invent.
To crown all this He addresses the following prayer to His God and Lord and Father: "But thou, O Lord, take not far off thy help." Left for a little while alone for the shewing forth of the contest, and stripped to contend with Death without a helper, well aware that His only succour from His Father will be by the Resurrection from the dead, He naturally now prays to escape from the (d) array of His adversaries. So He says: "Thou, O Lord, remove not far thy help, afford me succour. For my succour will come from thy help," and it is perhaps in reference to His succour that the whole Psalm is entitled "Concerning the succour at dawn."
"Have regard then to My succour, extending to Me as soon as dawn conies the succour of the Resurrection from the dead, which I know that I shall receive, if thou remove it not from Me. Save My soul from the sword, My Only-begotten from the power of the dog. Thou wilt save Me from the mouth of the lion, and (507) my lowliness from the horns of the unicorns."
By which I understand Him to mean the powers of the under-world, which it is not in my power to distinguish and divide into classes, shewing which was the sword that threatened our Saviour's life, or which one like a dog of death stretched forth its death-fraught paw, to capture it. For He says: "Save my soul from the sword, my Only-begotten from the power of the dog." And another evil (b) power reckoned as one of the wild beasts there, called a lion, opening wide its vast and yawning mouth of death, essays to devour His soul with the others of them that go down to Hades, just as long before mighty Death devoured them, being none other than the lion that opened his mouth before our Saviour, from which He prayed to His Father to deliver Him, saying: "Save me from the lion's mouth."
And there were other evil and impious powers working (c) against the Unicorn of God, and attempting to seduce Him |233 from His purpose, from whom too the Unicorn of God, our Lord having His Father as His only horn, prays that His lowliness may be saved, saying: "And my lowliness from the horns of the unicorn." What lowliness, but that wherewith, being in the form of God, He humbled Himself and emptied Himself, being obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. Yea, so low descending, and coming even to this, I mean even to the sword in Hades, and to the hand of Him that is called its dog. (Whence, perhaps, the Greeks hearing of some such dog of death, painted it with three heads): and coming to the throat of the said lion, and subjecting His lowliness to the attacks of the impious Unicorns, and thus having completed the whole dispensation of His self-emptying and humiliation, and prayed that now at last He may receive help and the succour of His Father, He adds: "Thou, O Lord, remove not thy help far off, attend to my succour." And though He says this, His Father is not too far off to hear Him, He is not removed far off, He is not separated by the smallest space, but is actually saying to Him: "While thou speakest, I will say, I am here."
And He, well aware of this, and receiving succour from His Father, as He had prayed, begins from that point to chant the Hymn of Triumph, making the Psalm, "Concerning the succour at dawn," in which He says: "I will recite thy name with my brethren, in the midst of the Church I will hymn thee." First, of course, to the disciples and apostles, whom He calls His brethren, He promises to announce the good news of joy and gladness in Him, And in accordance with this, Matthew teaches, saying;
"And, behold, Jesus met them, that is to say, those with Mary Magdalene, saying, All Hail. And they came to him and clasped his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus saith to them, Fear not, go tell my brethren, that they must go before me into Galilee. And there shall they see me."
And John, too, after the Resurrection from the dead, introduces Jesus saying to Mary:
"Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brethren and say to them, I ascend |234 to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God."
Thus He says that He will tell the Name of His Father first to the apostles, whom He calls His brethren. And after them, with swift progress, He promises that He will teach the Hymn of His Father to the Church founded in His (d) Name throughout all the world. It is just as if some supreme teacher of philosophy should give a course of instruction in the midst of his pupils for them to hear and and understand, that He in the midst of the Church says: "I will hymn thy praise," that the Church, learning and hearing His words, might in fit manner sing back the praises, no longer of the daemons, but of the One Almighty God, by Him that preached Him. He promises so to do, and from that very point earnestly bids the Church, and His brethren to hymn the Father's praise. Wherefore He says: "Ye that fear the Lord praise him, glorify him all ye seed of Jacob." And: "Let all the seed of Jacob fear him, for he hath not despised, nor been angered at the (509) prayer of the poor, nor turned away his face from him, but when he cried unto him he heard him." And thus he clearly shewed His release from the evils that were named before. For if God heard Him when He cried to Him, when He prayed for His life to be delivered from the sword, and His Only-begotten from the dog, and His lowliness from the mouth of the lion, and the horns of the unicorn, it follows that we must understand Him to be released from them, when He says: "For God was not (b) angered by his prayer, and turned not his face from him, but when he called unto him, he heard him." And so it came to pass that being rescued from His woes, and escaping from death, He sojourned with His disciples and brethren, and sang His Father's praise "in the midst of the Church." And notice how He calls Himself "poor," in harmony with the prophecies already quoted, in which He was called poor and a beggar.
And when He has thus shewn His Resurrection, He (c) again returns to His Father, and says: "From thee is my praise in the great Church," remembering the great Church of all nations established throughout all the |235 world, in which the Saviour's praise is for ever sung, by the will and co-operation of His Father. So He says: "From thee is my praise in the great Church." For of a truth it is great, this Church, gathered of every race of mankind, and above all comparison in gravity and nobility of life, and majesty of belief, while the Jewish nation, and (d) the synagogue of the Circumcision, is so attenuated in the poverty of its teaching, and life, and thought, and conceptions of God.
Then He adds: "I will pay my vows in the sight of all that fear him," meaning by "all that fear him," the aforesaid great Church, to which He said: "Ye that fear the Lord, praise him." And what vows does He mean that He will pay, but those which He promised? And what did He promise, but those, of which He said: "I will tell thy Name to my brethren. In the midst of the Church I will praise thee? "And He proceeds: "The poor shall (510) eat and be satisfied, and they that seek the Lord shall praise him----their heart shall live for ever. All the ends of the earth shall remember and shall turn to the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him. For the Kingdom is the Lord's, and he rules over the nations."
In these words He very aptly proclaims the glorious works after His Resurrection, which are fulfilled in the calling of men from all nations, and by the election of men from the ends of the earth, the results of which being visible to all eyes afford evidence of the truth of the words of (b) the Psalm. And we, too, are the poor, whom like beggars in the things of God, the word of salvation nourishes with spiritual bread, the life-giving food of the soul, and affords eternal life. So the Psalm says: "The poor shall eat and be satisfied, and they that seek the Lord shall praise him, their heart shall live for ever." And the peroration of the (c) whole prophecy crowning all----"The generation that cometh shall be announced to the Lord, and they shall announce his righteousness to a people that shall be born, whom the Lord has made"----specifically foretells the Church of the Gentiles, and the generation established on the earth, through our Saviour Jesus Christ. For what could this people be which, it is here said, will be born for God after these things, which did not exist of old, and did not appear |236 among men, but will be hereafter? What was the generation, which was not then, but which it is said will come, but the Church established by our Saviour in all the world, and the new people from the Gentiles, of which the Holy Spirit wonderfully spake by Isaiah, saying, "Who hath heard such things, and who hath seen them thus? The earth was in travail for one day, and a nation was born at once."
In this exposition I have but touched the fringe of the subject, but I must now pass on in haste to other topics, since time presses. But whoever cares for the Saviour's bidding, "Search the Scriptures, in which ye think to have eternal life, and those are they that witness of me," let him plunge his mind in each word of the Psalm, and hunt for the exact sense of the truth expressed.1
A FRAGMENT OF THE FIFTEENTH BOOK
Given by A. Majus in the New Collection of Ancient Writers. Rome, 1825, tom. 1, par. 2, p. 173, in the Commentary on Daniel ii. 31.
I THOUGHT it incumbent on me to quote what is said by the famous Eusebius Pamphilus, of Caesarea, in the Fifteenth Book of The Proof of the Gospel; for in expounding the whole vision he says as follows:----"I believe this in no way differs from the vision of the prophet: for the prophet saw a great sea, just as the King saw a vast image: the prophet again saw four beasts, which he interpreted to mean four kingdoms, just as the King from the gold, silver, brass, and iron, figuratively described four kingdoms: and, once more, as the prophet saw a division of the ten horns of the last beast, and three horns destroyed by one, so the King saw part of the extremities of the image to be iron and part clay. And, moreover, as the prophet, after the vision of the four kings, saw the Son of Man receive universal rule, power and empire, so the King seemed to |237 see a stone destroy the whole of the image, and become a great mountain that filled the sea. And the explanation is easy, for it was natural that the King, deceived as he was by the outward appearances of life, and admiring the beauty of the visible like colours in a picture, to liken the life of all men to a great image, whereas the prophet was rather led to compare the vast and mighty surge of life to a great sea. So the King, who admired the substances of gold, silver, brass, and iron, which are costly among men, likened the dominant empires that succeed one another in the human world to substances, while the prophet described the same empires under the forms of wild beasts, according to the ideals of their rule. Then again the King, who probably was conceited, and prided himself on the empire of his ancestors, the mutability of human things is revealed, and the end of earthly kingdoms, to purify him of his pride, and to make him realize the instability of human things, or at least the final universal Kingdom of God. For after the first, or the Assyrian Empire, signified by the gold, was to come the Persian, shewn forth by the silver; and thirdly, the Macedonian, portrayed by the brass; and after that, the fourth, that of the Romans, would follow, more powerful than its predecessors, and therefore likened to iron. For it is said of it, 'And the fourth kingdom shall be stronger than iron': just as iron crushes and subdues everything, so did Rome crush and subdue. And after these four, the Kingdom of God was presented as a stone that destroyed the whole image. And the prophet agrees with this in not seeing the final triumph of the Kingdom of the God of the Universe before he has described the course of the four world-powers under the similitude of the four beasts. I consider, therefore, the visions both of the King and the prophets, that there should be four empires only, and no more, to be proved by the subjection of the Jewish nation to them from the time when the prophet wrote."
[Note to the online text: the remainder of books 11-20 is lost.]
[A footnote has been renumbered and moved here]
1. 3 The last five lines are supplied by Fabricius from another MS.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
|Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts|