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CONSIDERED; AND PROVED TO BE LITERALLY FULFILLED IN JESUS. Containing An Answer to the Objections of the Author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy .
THE design of the following sheets is to consider the prophecies of the Old Testament, respecting the Messiah; and to prove that they are literally fulfilled in Jesus, against both Jews and Deists. I have therefore collected together the exceptions of the former to those prophecies, and the rather because they are, as far as known, made use of by the latter. I have consulted, as much as I was able, the writings, both of old and later Jews, and shewn, that in most, if not in all the prophecies considered, they have understood them of the Messiah. I produce those authorities, not as decisive in this controversy, but as the convictions and concessions of an adversary, and that a bitter and implacable one to Christianity, and which I think deserves consideration with the Deist. I cite old Jews to shew the sense of the ancient synagogue; the later ones to shew the strength of conviction upon their minds, who cannot but have observed, what use the Christians have made of those prophecies, and though often pinched with them, yet they have been obliged to own them as prophecies of the Messiah, for which reason the testimonies of later Jews, seem to have the most strength and force in them, And that the reader may riot be at a loss about old Jews and later Jews , he is desired to observe that by old Jews , I mean those who wrote, or are supposed to have wrote within the first five or six centuries after Christ, as the authors of the Targums , Talmuds , Rabboth , Zohar , &c. and by later Jews, I mean those who wrote within the last five or six centuries, as Maimonides , Jarchi , Aben Ezra , Kimchi , &c.
The author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy , whose exceptions I have all along considered, has advanced several things with regard to the belief of the Jews, concerning a Messiah, which I think myself obliged to take notice of in this place.
First , He seems to insinuate as though the belief of a Messiah among the Jews, was not anciently a fundamental article of their faith, but made so from the eleventh century, when their confession of faith was drawn up by R. Moses Maimonides . That the Jews’ confession of faith, was drawn up by Maimonides , about that time, in thirteen articles, is not denied, which articles are generally believed by all of them, without any contradiction, as Leo Modena says; but then this no more proves, that the article relating to the Messiah, then began to be a fundamental article of their faith, than the article respecting the unity of the Divine Being, which must be acknowledged, was always the faith of the Jewish church: Besides, Maimonides did not make, but only drew up, those articles, and it is highly reasonable to suppose; that he drew them up not as the novel opinions of some particular persons; but as what had been the ancient, constant, and universal sense of his people; and what would be received as such without hesitation, as they accordingly were. R . Joseph Albo is the only person that is usually cited as denying the article of the Messiah to be a fundamental one; he reduced the Jews’ confession of faith to three general heads, which he calls roots, namely, the belief of the Divine Being, the law of Moses , and a state of rewards and punishments, to which he thought all the rest reducible; now, though he is not willing to allow the article of the Messiah to be rq[ a root , or a fundamental principle , his design herein being manifestly enough to oppose the Christian religion, whose main fundamental principle is faith in the Messiah, Jesus; I say, though he is not willing to allow it to be a root ; yet he grants that it is a branch, which ã[tsm gj rq[ ˆm arises from the third root , that is, that of rewards and punishments, and declares that all ought to believe the Messiah , who receive the law of Moses ; that the prophets prophesied of his coming , which is sure and evident ; that he who does not believe the coming of the Messiah , denies the words of the prophets , and is a transgressor of the affirmative precepts ; so that though he will not allow the article of the Messiah, to be a fundamental one; in which he was alone, and had no followers; yet he owns it to be a branch of a fundamental one; and therefore we should be so far from concluding from the single opinion of this person, that this was not a fundamental article of the Jewish faith, that the contrary is rather evident from hence.
Secondly , The same author intimates, that many of the Jews themselves have seemed to have no expectation of a Messiah, as the Sadducees and Scribes, the Samaritan Jews, Josephus , and some in his time, R. Hillell in the third century; nay, that Maimonides speaks very indifferently of it. As to the Sadducees , they as impatiently expected the Messiah, as the rest of the Jews did, were as intent upon detecting of Jesus, whom they supposed not to be the true Messiah, and were as violent opposers of him and his followers, as any others; which they would not have concerned themselves about, had they not believed in a Messiah. Some say, that the Caraites , are of the old stock of the Sadducees , and hold the same doctrines as they did, who it is certain expect a Messiah, as much as the other Jews do. As to the Scribes , who, though they were, as this author says, letter men , yet believed ( Mark 7:35; 9:11) that Christ , or the Messiah , is the son of David , and that Elias must first come ; indeed he says that what he has said of the Sadducees and Scribes, he only proposes in the way of conjecture, but it seems to be a conjecture without any foundation for it, As to the Samaritan Jews, nothing is more manifest, than that in the times of Jesus they expected a Messiah; it was a notion which seemed universally to obtain among them, as appears from the woman of Samaria , with whom Jesus conversed, who could say ( John 4:25), I know that the Messiah cometh which is called Christ . It is allowed that the modern ones, have notions of a Messiah, though very confused and very different, which need not be wondered at, since they reject the books of the prophets, and confine themselves to the five books of Moses . In one of their letters to Sealiger , they say the name of the Messiah with them, is bhçh which it seems they do not know the signification of, though it seems to be an abbreviation of abhçh o ercomeno V, he that is to come , whereby the Samaritan as well as the Jerusalem Jews, understood the Messiah, as is manifest from the words of the woman just now mentioned, As to Josephus , and some other Jews in his time, who thought that Vespasian was the prince that was to come, it is manifest enough that they expected a Messiah, though they were mistaken in the person, whom they thought to be, he, nor can any thing else be fairly concluded from hence. R. Hillell it is true, gave out that “Israel was to have no Messiah, because they enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah ;” but then this was only the opinion of a single person; for notwithstanding his authority, the Jews still expect a Messiah; besides, this saying of his was not a disbelief of the Messiah, but a mistaken notion about the time of his coming; and as for Maimonides speaking indifferently of the Messiah, it need not be wondered at in him nor in any other of his nation, if there has been any other who has done so; since they have been so wretchedly disappointed in their expectation of him, and since they see so little need of, and expect so little from him.
Thirdly , This same author would have us believe, that the expectation of a Messiah, among the Jews, was grounded, not upon the literal , but upon the allegorical , and traditional sense of the Scriptures; but if so, how came the Scribes , who, as this author acknowledges, were a party of letter-men , to expect a Messiah, and to say, that he was the Son of David , as has been before observed? Surely those men who are “supposed to have rejected many of the prevailing Jewish notions, not founded on the letter of the scriptures,” would have rejected the notion of a Messiah, if not founded thereon.
Besides, the Caraites , or Scripturians , an ancient sect among the Jews, f12 rejecting the mystical, enigmatical, traditional, and allegorical expositions of the Rabbis, strictly and closely adhere to the very letter of the scriptures, and yet expected a Messiah as much as other Jews do. Now, from whence could this expectation arise? or whereon could it be grounded, but the literal sense of the Scriptures? It is therefore a mistake that a notion of a Messiah cannot he established from the prophecies of the Old Testament, without a mystical and allegorical sense of them; for in their first, literal, and obvious sense, they respect him, as I hope, the following account of them grill make appear.
Fourthly , I cannot but much wonder, that this author should think “most probable, that many of the places, wherein the Messias is expressly named in the Chaldee Paraphrases , are interpolations;” especially, when he thinks that those writings are much more modern, and of a later date than the Jews would have them to be; for the later the date of them is, the less reason is there to suppose them to be interpolated in those passages which respect the Messiah; for surely it can never be thought, that they would take such a method with their own Targums on those prophecies, when they must be supposed to know what use the Christians made of them, both against them, and in vindication of Christianity; nor is there any thing with which the Jews are more puzzled and confounded, than when they are urged with those paraphrases; and there is a great deal of reason to suppose, that those places, wherein the Messiah is expressly named, are so far from being interpolations, that were not those writings so sacred with them, as that they dare not corrupt them, they would have expunged them long ago. As to this author’s reason for these thoughts, that “Josephus says, those Jews who were in the vulgar error, or the belief of a Messias to arise out of their nation, built their expectation but on one ambiguous oracle or prophecy, found in their sacred books.”
I would only reply, that Josephus indeed, speaks of an oracle or prophecy found in their sacred books ; that about that time one of them , from their country, should rule over the world ; which oracle he calls an ambiguous one, and says was what chiefly excited the Jews to the war , but then he no where says, that the Jews’ expectation of a Messiah was built upon one single, doubtful prophecy, but that their expectation of his arising out of their country, and at that time was so; the ambiguity of which oracle lay in his arising out of their nation , which some understood of his being horn there, as the generality of the Jews did and others, of his entering upon his government there, as Josephus did, and therefore applied it to Vespasian :
From whence it appeal’s that this instance gives no reason to conclude, that the passages respecting the Messiah, in the Chaldee paraphrases, are interpolations; for the Jews might have many plain prophecies, on which they built. their expectation of a Messiah, some of which these paraphrases have pointed out to us; and yet Josephus speaks but of one ambiguous or doubtful prophecy respecting the time of his coming, and the country from whence he was to arise, which excited the Jews to the war, and animated them obstinately to persist therein; in which he supposes them to be mistaken, though, alas the ground of their mistake, and which therefore was fatal to them, was, that the Messiah, the person prophesied of, was already come.
I conclude with desiring the reader to observe, that I do not produce the prophecies of the Old Testament, respecting the Messiah’s second coming, as literally fulfilled in Jesus, but as to be so fulfilled in him, and the reason of my taking notice of them, is to make the scheme of prophecy more complete; and seeing all the rest of the prophecies, respecting the Messiah, have had a literal completion in Jesus, there is a great deal of reason to believe that these will also; especially, seeing it is such a completion of them, that Jesus and his apostles have given us reason to expect. I have not, indeed, inquired into the authenticity of the book of Daniel , and of the two first chapters of St. Matthew ’s gospel, which the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy has called in question, but have taken them for genuine parts of the sacred writings; the reason why I have not attempted an enquiry of this nature, when I have had occasion to consider some passages in those parts of Scripture, is, because I was not willing to interrupt the reader, by breaking the thread of prophecy. I must confess, that what this author has advanced on this head deserves consideration; and I hope, that some of the learned writers in this controversy, will think it worth their notice and regard. I shall only add, that whereas my design in writing the following sheets, is an honest, and impartial enquiry after truth, and an attempt to establish and promote it; in doing of which, as I have treated the argument with candor and temper; so, I hope, if I should appear to be mistaken in any thing I have advanced, I shall be candidly treated, as I shall be heartily thankful for such a discovery.
CHAPTER -The Introduction; with a particular consideration of that first prophecy, respecting the MESSIAH, recorded in Genesis 3:15. THOUGH the prophecies of the Old Testament, concerning the Messiah, which have had their exact completion in Jesus , are not the only proofs of the truth of the Christian Religion; there being many others, namely, the nature, importance, and tendency of the doctrines of the gospel, the verity and reality of facts recorded in the New Testament, such as the miracles of Christ, his resurrection from the dead, &c., yet are they real and unquestionable ones, and such as deserve our particular consideration; especially seeing Christ, and his apostles, so frequently appealed to them, to confirm the truth of what they delivered. Salvation by Jesus Christ, is the great doctrine of the gospel, and the sum and substance of the Christian Religion, of which salvation , says the apostle Peter ( 1 Peter 1:10,11), the prophets have enquired, and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify, when it testified, before-hand, the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
One main and principal branch of this salvation, is the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Christ; now to him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins ( Acts 10:43); and indeed Jesus and his apostles said ( Acts 26:22,23), none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people and to the Gentiles.
It was the common and usual practice of Christ to direct his hearers to search the scriptures of the Old Testament, they are they , says he ( John 5:39,46), which testify of me ; yea he expressly says that Moses wrote of him ; he always spoke of his sufferings, and of several circumstances of them, as predicted by the prophets; and therefore after his resurrection, in order to lead his disciples into a thorough acquaintance with these things ( Luke 24:27,44), beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself, and declared that all things must be fulfilled , which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning him.
The marks and characters of the Messiah , as fixed by the prophets, in the Old Testament, are very plain and visible in Jesus, which have been no small confirmation of the faith, hope, and joy, of those who have believed in him. Hence, says ( John 1:45) Philip to Nathanael , these two being some of the first that believed in him, and whose hearts were filled with joy at the first notice of him, We have found him , of whom Moses in the law , and the prophets did write , Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Now though this kind of proof is not the only foundation of the Christian Religion, yet it must be esteemed a very considerable part of it, for we who believe in Jesus , are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets , Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone , which foundation a late author has endeavoured to undermine, in several tracts on this subject of prophecy. Wherefore it highly becomes those who have any value for Jesus, the Redeemer, to attempt the rescuing of it, against such bold attacks, and daring insults, upon the best and most excellent religion in the world. I am sensible that several prophecies have been already, in this present controversy, very learnedly and judiciously discussed, and sufficiently cleared from those exceptions which have been made against them, as also am conscious of my own weakness and inability to engage in such a work; yet, having the Redeemer’s glory at heart, and being fully assured of the goodness of the cause, as well as willing to contribute what I can towards the securing the honour of Jesus, the confirmation of believers, and conviction of infidels, I have undertaken the consideration of the prophecies of the Old Testament, respecting the Messiah, which are either cited as such in the New, or are generally, by Christian interpreters, referred to him; and shall attempt to prove, that they truly and properly belonged to the Messiah, and have been actually and exactly fulfilled in Jesus, which must be no inconsiderable evidence of the truth of the Christian Religion.
I shall begin with Genesis 3:15, which is the first prophecy respecting the Messiah, of whom in the volume of the book , in the first roll thereof, en kefalidi bibliou in the head or beginning of the book of God, it was written , that he should do the will of God; which was no other than to destroy Satan the old serpent, with his works, and rescue sinful and miserable man out of his hands, pursuant to this original prophecy, which was given quickly after man’s apostasy from God, and stands at the head and front of the Bible, from the giving forth of which, the Messiah has been spoken of by the mouth of all God’s holy prophets, which have been since the world began ( Luke 1:70).
Now this, and the preceding verse, contain the judiciary sentence pronounced by God upon the serpent, for his concern in the apostasy of man from his Creator, of the real causes of which, and what artful methods were used to effect it, together with the dreadful consequences thereof, a particular account is given in this chapter. But for the better and more full explanation of those words, it will be proper to consider these two things.
I. Who, or what is meant by the serpent, on whom this sentence is pronounced.
II. The several parts and branches of that sentence.
First , It will be proper to consider who, or what is meant by the serpent.
That a true and real serpent, and not the mere appearance or image of one is here intended, is manifest, from its being reckoned among the beasts of the field , (ver. 1), from that cunning and subtlety which are there ascribed so it, and which are remarkably eminent in this creature, as also from the nature of the curse denounced against it, which was to go upon its belly and eat dust all the days of its life . These words cannot be understood solely, and alone, of a real serpent, but of Satan, in it, and with it, and of that only, as used and actuated by him, he being the principal, this only the instrument, as will appeal from the following considerations. 1. Speech is ascribed to it, which is peculiar to rational creatures; for the opinion of Philo , Josephus , Aben Ezra and others, that beasts, in their original, and primeval state, were endued with a faculty of speaking, must be rejected as entirely fabulous: but this may well be understood of Satan speaking in the serpent, whose common practice has been to utter voices in persons possessed by him; nay, to give forth oracles from the Gentile idols, things inanimate, and may as well be supposed to form articulate words in the mouth of the serpent, as the angel of the Lord did in the mouth of Balaam ’s ass. 2. This serpent appears to be endued with reason and understanding; here is a design formed by him against the glory of God and the happiness of man, managed with all the subtlety and contrivance imaginable, as well as malice and envy, which are very visible throughout his whole conduct, and can never be applicable to an irrational creature. 3. It is not reasonable to suppose, that human nature, as endued with reason, knowledge, and wisdom, even in its full strength and glory, could be outwitted, seduced and overcome, by a creature so mean and inferior to it. 4. The writings of the New Testament always refer the deception of mankind, to the malice and cunning of Satan and that often, under the name of a serpent ( John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 9:3; Revelation 12:9). 5. Though these writings are of no account with Jews and Deists, yet the sense of the former, respecting what we have now under consideration, perfectly agrees with them; many of their chiefest masters acknowledge, that Satan accompanied the serpent, was in him, was the cause of the ruin and destruction of mankind, and was principally intended in the curse, which also appears from the names they give the serpent, as lams , which signify the God that hath blinded , to which the apostle has some regard, when he says ( 2 Corinthians 4:4), speaking of Satan, the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not : also they call him twmh dalm the Angel of Death , because he was the cause of death to Adam , and all the world; to this the apostle refers, when he tells us ( Hebrews 2:14), that Jesus came to destroy him that had the power of death , that is the Devil . Moreover, nothing is more usual with them than to call Satan, ynwmdqh çjn the old serpent , which is the very name St. John gives him ( Revelation 7:9. and 20:2), and no doubt takes its rise from this history of the serpent in Genesis . But, Secondly , I shall now consider the several parts of the curse denounced against the serpent, which are these, namely, to be the most accursed of all creatures, to go upon its belly, to eat the dust of the earth, and live in a continual enmity with mankind, to which, though it would be hurtful, yet man should have the advantage over it; all which has been exactly fulfilled in it; for the serpent is the most hateful of all creatures, and, however erect its posture might he before the execution of this sentence, it is certain that now it is a reptile upon the earth; the dust of which is its food: and between which and man there is a real enmity; man abhors the sight of a serpent, and a serpent abhors the sight of man, and though it may secretly, and at unawares, bite the heels of men, yet man has the advantage over it so as be can easily bruise and crush its head, which, being most in danger, it is most careful to guard. Now, the infliction of this upon the serpent is no ways unreasonable, since it was used by Satan as an instrument to bring about his vile and wicked designs; besides, by this curse, God shewed the more his detestation of the sin of Satan, in ruining mankind, and how much it was displeasing to him; seeing he would not suffer either principal or instrument to escape; for it must not be supposed that this curse only regarded this brute creature, but that it was chiefly designed against Satan, the sole projector and conductor of the whole affair; for it would not be agreeable to the justice of God, to inflict this on the instrument and let the principal go free; nor would there be any proportion between the sentence against man and the serpent, if this concerned the serpent only, which will appear more manifest, by considering the several parts of the sentence, and how they have been executed upon Satan.
First , One part of the curse is that he should go upon his belly , which is periphrasis of creeping upon the earth, and is aptly expressive of the great dragon , that old serpent , called the Devil and Satan , being cast out of heaven into the earth , and his angels with him ; where he now has his abode and rules in the hearts of men, for which reason he is called, the God and prince of this world , being never able to rise higher, and regain his place, and first estate in the highest heavens, which is no small part of his punishment.
Secondly , Another part of the curse denounced against him is, his eating the dust of the earth , which designs the mean and abject condition in which Satan now is, who does not, as formerly, feed upon angels ’ food , the joys of heaven, but entertains himself with base mean and earthly lusts, in which that impure spirit delights. Moreover, it may also intend the very great subjection of Satan, not only to Christ, the King of kings, who has led captivity captive, but even to the meanest of his people, under whose feet the God of peace will shortly bruise him , which is no small mortification to that proud spirit: Thus the phrase of licking the dust of the earth is used in Psalm 72:9 and Micah 7:17.
Thirdly , As a further degree of punishment to him, it is threatened by God that he would put enmity between him and the woman , between his seed and her seed : the meaning of which is, that the woman, into whose affections he had insinuated himself, and with whom he had so much familiar conversation, now seeing how much she had been imposed upon, and seduced by him, to the ruin of herself and posterity, should be filled with an enmity to him, which should be placed in her, as a punishment of him, and which enmity should not center in her only, but be transmitted to her seed , by which must be meant more especially the Messiah, who, by way of eminency, may be called the seed of the woman , who should oppose himself to Satan, and his seed, the evil angels, and the whole race of wicked and ungodly men, which would hate and persecute both him and his people.
Fourthly , For the filling up the measure of his just punishment it is promised that an entire victory over him should be gained by the woman’s seed, it shall bruise thy head , and thou shalt bruise his heel , for this word it manifestly refers to the woman’s seed, by which is intended the Messiah; nor can it be any just objection, to the application of it to him, that the word seed is a collective word, seeming it is often used to design a single person, as in Genesis 4:25, chapter 15:2, and chapter 21:13. That this is to be understood of him, will appear more evident, if we consider the following things:
First , That the person spoken of, is called the seed of the woman , and not of the man, which can agree with no other than the Messiah, who was to be born of a virgin, as was afterwards more clearly revealed by Isaiah 7:14.
Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel; which was fulfilled in Jesus, who was truly the seed of the woman , and of her only, being made of a woman , and not begotten by man, but was conceived in the womb of the virgin, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Secondly , The word awh which is here rendered “it ”, is one of the names of God, and is so used in <19A227> Psalm 102:27 but thou art the same , awh hta thou art HE . See also Isaiah 48:12, and thus the Jews frequently use it, nay, in Zohar they apply it to the eternal and blessed God, bruising the serpent’s head, as expressed in this text, which well agrees with Jesus, who is the unchangeable, eternal, and omnipotent HE , auto V who is the same yesterday , today , and for ever , the true alpha and omega , the first and the last , which is , and which was , and which is to come , the Almighty .
Thirdly , The work he was to do deserves consideration, and proves the person spoken of, to be the Messiah, which was to bruise the serpent ’s head , that is, to destroy Satan and all his works, set aside all his craft and cunning, crush all his machinations and designs, and overturn his whole empire; now this is frequently spoke of in the Old Testament, as the Messiah’s work; and, in some places, a peculiar reference seems to be had to this original prophecy; as in <19B006> Psalm 110:6, which psalm solely belongs to the Messiah, where it is thus prophesied of him, he shall wound the heads over many countries , çar xjm hbr xra l[ which may be thus rendered, he shall wound the head , that is, him that is the head, or ruler, over a large country , which is no other than Satan, the god and prince of this world, who was to be wounded, bruised, and destroyed, by the Messiah. Again in Habakkuk 3:13 it is said, f24 Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine Anointed; thou woundest the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck.
Which agreeable to Kimchi ’s reading and comment, who expounds it of the Messiah, may be thus paraphrased, “As thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, when they entered into the land of Canaan ; so wilt thou go forth for the salvation of thy people, by the hands of Messiah, the son of David , who shall wound Satan, who is the head, the king and prince of the house of the wicked, and shall raise up all his strength, power, policy, and dominion.”
Fourthly , The sufferings of the Messiah, are very fitly expressed by the serpent’s bruising his heel : Some by his heel , understand his people, here on earth; and by bruising it, those persecutions which Satan and his emissaries are continually raising against, and afflicting them with; though it rather seems to intend his human nature, which as the divine nature is the head and chief in Christ, this is the heel , the inferior and lowest nature in him, which was frequently exposed to Satan’s insults, temptations and persecutions, and what he particularly struck at, and at length so far succeeded as to bring him to a shameful and ignominious death, the iniquity of his heels , the sins of his people, which he bore in his own body on the tree, then compassing him about .
Fifthly , Several Jewish writers have understood this clause of the Messiah, and particularly the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem ; the former of which in his paraphrase of it says, there shall be healing for the heel , in the days of the king Messiah ; and much to the same purpose says the latter.
The Targum of Onkelos , seems well to express the secret, spiteful, malicious, and insidious manner, in which Satan attacked the Messiah, in the end of the world by paraphrasing the words thus, he shall remember thee what thou didst to him of old , and thou shalt observe or watch him in the end . Though later Jews oppose the application of it to the Messiah, especially to Jesus, and two things are chiefly objected by them. First , that Jesus did not bruise or destroy Satan, but rather Satan was the procuring cause of the death of Jesus; to which I reply, that Satan so far gained his point, as to bring about the death of Jesus, we Christians do not deny, but then we assert, that Jesus, through death destroyed him that had the power of death , that is , the devil , by which we do not mean an annihilation of his being, but a dispossessing him of his power, a confounding of his schemes and projects, a destruction of his works, and a subjection of him to Christ, the triumphant conqueror, who has ascended on high , and led captivity captive . Secondly , they object that Satan still retains a power over persons; and that the apostle Paul himself acknowledges, that he hindered him and others from coming to the Thessalonians ( 1 Thessalonians 2:18, and that in Romans 16:20), the same apostle speaks of Satan, as to be bruised, under the feet, of the followers of Jesus, and not as already bruised: to which I answer, that Satan indeed has often a permission from Christ, to do many things which tend to the disquietude and discomfort of his people; but yet he can go no further than he has leave, which shows that he is entirely conquered by Christ, and in subjection to him; and though he is not fully and completely bruised under the feet of saints, yet is he under the feet of Jesus, who has spoiled principalities and powers and made a shew of them openly ..
A late author objects that though Jesus might bruise the devil ’s head , or triumph over him , yet Jesus was the only person , that ever was born , whose heel the devil could not bruise , or over whom the devil could not triumph , by any attack , whatsoever . But I have already shewn in what sense Christ’s heel was bruised, by the devil, and how he, and his emissaries triumphed over him, having nailed him to the cross, and laid and secured him in the grave: But this triumph did not last long, for though he was crucified through weakness , he liveth by the power of God , though his heel was bruised, his head could not be; for though he was dead, he is now alive, and will live for evermore.
In fine, from this first prophecy, we learn, that the Messiah was to be incarnate, born of a woman, and not begotten by man; that he was to suffer and die; as also, that he was to destroy Satan and his works, which Jesus has done: And it may be observed, that salvation was proclaimed, as soon as sin was committed, and a prophecy of a Messiah given forth as soon as there was any need of one.
CHAPTER -Shewing that the Messiah was promised to Abraham, and what advantages the nations of the world were to receive by him. THE next prophecy, respecting the Messiah, or discovery that was made of him to the sons of men, was made to Abraham, ( Genesis 22:18). And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Now, in the former prophecy, it was left undiscovered and undetermined, out of what people or nation the Messiah should arise, and only, in general declared, that he should be the seed of the woman; but in this it is expressed in plain terms, that he should be of the seed and posterity of Abraham; as Jesus, the true Messiah was, who ( Hebrews 2:16) took not upon him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, and is therefore justly called ( Matthew 1:1) Abraham’s son. But, for the better understanding of this prophecy, two things should be inquired into, 1. Who is meant by the seed of Abraham, in whom all nations should be blessed? 2. What advantages the nations of the world should receive by this promised seed?
First, It will be proper to inquire, who is meant by the seed of Abraham, in whom all nations of the earth were to be blessed? Now this seed cannot intend Isaac, the immediate seed of Abraham, because this blessing in the extensiveness of it, was never verified in him: Besides, it is carried down to his posterity ( Genesis 26:4), as not terminating in him, it not being intended of him; and for the very same reasons, it cannot design Jacob, the immediate seed of Isaac, (see Genesis 28:14), nor has it ever received its completion in the whole body of the Israelitish nation, the posterity of Jacob ; for what advantages have the nations of the world ever received from them? or when, and how have they been blessed in them, or the Jews ever been the occasion of any blessing to them? Whilst they continued in their own land, they dwelt alone, and were not reckoned among the nations ; they kept themselves at the utmost distance from other people; their religion, laws, and customs being different from them; they would have no communion with them, either on a civil or sacred account; nor any conversation; they would not perform any civilities to them, no, not even the common offices of humanity; nay, there was a real enmity in the Jews against the Gentiles; The former thought it no crime to do any hurt or mischief to the latter, either in person or estate; nay, their hatred has ran so high as even to do all they could to hinder their everlasting salvation, and all arising from a mistaken sense of Deuteronomy 23:6. And since the destruction of their civil polity, and their dispersion, the nations have received no advantage from them; they have not been in a capacity to give them any assistance so that as the nations of the world never have been, they never are likely to he blessed in those people, who have always been so far from being accounted a blessing to them, that their name has been used by way of reproach, and as a proverb, a taunt, and a curse, wherever they have been driven. From whence it appears that the nations of the world never took up this, as a form of blessing among them, God bless you, as he did the Israelites or seed of Abraham; which a late author f27 thinks to be the sense of the phrase here, from its use in all other places; in which sense it is true, he has the concurrence of the greatest part of the modern Jews; authorities which he at other times treats with the utmost contempt: But no one instance can be produced, when the nations of the world ever used such a form of blessing as this; nor does the use of the phrase, in all other places, determine this to be the sense of it here: (see Deuteronomy 29:19; Psalm 72:17; Isaiah 65:16; Jeremiah 4:2); where there is not the least foundation for such an interpretation.
Besides, in parallel texts, the word is used in Niphal, in a passive form, as in Genesis 12:3 and Genesis 18:18 and 28:14, which directs us to the plain sense of the words in this. And as to Genesis 48:20, the only place produced in favour of this sense, the word is purely active, and so no proof of the use of it in a different form; and though that text informs us what would be a usual form of blessing among the Jews; yet neither that, nor any other text, nor any history either sacred or profane, acquaints us, that that, or any other Jewish form of blessing, would be used among the Gentiles. Now, as it appears that this prophecy never had its completion, either in the more near posterity of Abraham, as Isaac or Jacob, or in his more remote, even the whole body of the Jewish nation, in any age, or period of time, it remains, that some other person or persons must he fixed upon, which can be no other than the Messiah, even our Jesus, to whom the apostles have applied it ( Acts 3:25,26; Galatians 3:8). The import of which is, that the Messiah should be of Abraham’s seed, and that the Gentiles should be blessed in him; and though Modern Jews have coined other interpretations of this prophecy, yet the ancient ones understood it in the sense now given. Two things are principally objected by modern Jews against the application of it to the Messiah, and in favour of its intending the whole body of the Israelites: 1. They say the word seed cannot be understood of a single person, but is used collectively of a large number; but instances have been given, in the preceding chapter, where the word seed is used of a single person; so that St. Paul is to be justified, when he says ( Galatians 3:16), Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. 2. They object that no blessing comes to the nations of the world, but through the Jews to which I answer; it is true that salvation is of the Jews; that to them belong ( Romans 9:4,5) the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the glory of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever; from whom the nations of the world receive all their blessings; but then we deny that the Gentiles receive any blessings from them, but only as through the Messiah, Jesus, one of their nation, who was made a curse, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles. But, Secondly, Let us now consider the advantages which the nations of the world were to receive from the Messiah, this promised seed. And it is to he observed, that by all the nations of the world, every individual person therein is not intended, but only some in all nations, who, with Abraham, believe in the same promised seed, as the apostle has taught us to explain this prophecy; So then, says he ( Galatians 3:9), they which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham. The Jews look upon it to be a sufficient verification of this prophecy, that some of the Gentiles, by means of their patriarchs, have been brought to the knowledge of the being, unity, providence, and omnipotence of God, which knowledge is the cause of all true blessedness: but the plain meaning of the prophecy is, that though the Messiah was to be of Abraham’s seed, yet his posterity alone were not to receive the advantage thereof; but his divine blessings were to extend to the several nations of the world.
The calling of the Gentiles, by the Messiah, was the great mystery, which in other ages was not made known so clearly, as it is now under the Gospel dispensation; there were indeed frequent intimations of it in the Old Testament, and the Jews could not be altogether strangers to it, though nothing was more displeasing and provoking to them: This temper of theirs, God long ago foretold by Moses, saying ( Deuteronomy 32:21), I will move them to jealousy, with those which are not a people, I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation; that is, by calling and blessing them. Isaiah, of all the prophets, spoke most largely concerning the blessings designed for the Gentiles by the Messiah; but the apostle says ( Romans 10:20), that he was very bold on that account; for he was sure to incur the displeasure of the Jews; nay, run the risk of his life for being so. Near the time of the Messiah’s coming, this controversy was much agitated in the schools of Hillell and Shammai, namely, Whether or no, when the, Messiah came, the nations of the world would have any advantage by him? A vast majority were on the negative side of the question; though some few, such as old Simeon, and others, knew, that he was to be a light to the Gentiles, as well as the glory of his people Israel: but the greater part were so far from thinking that the Gentiles would be redeemed by the Messiah, that they firmly believed they would be all destroyed at his coming, and have no favour or mercy shewn them. This notion Jesus and his apostles much opposed, and is the true reason of the grace and redemption of Christ being expressed in those universal terms, they so often are in the New Testament. The controversy was not then, as it is now, between the Arminians and Calvinists, Whether all and every individual of human nature were to be redeemed by Christ; but, Whether any of the Gentiles should be redeemed by him, or no? which, as I said before, was determined in the negative: But Jesus and his apostles declared against it: Our Lord, in a discourse of his with one of their learned Rabbis, says ( John 3:16), God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
By the world here, Christ means the Gentiles, as distinct from the Jews, as manifestly appears from the words of the apostle John, who lay in the bosom of Jesus, and must be allowed to be the best interpreter of his words. Now he tells us, that Jesus was ( 1 John 2:2) the propitiation for our sins, meaning the sins of the Jews; for John was a Jew; and, says he, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world; wherein he explains the words of Jesus, and, at the same time, struck at the darling notion of the Jews. The apostle Paul uses the word in the same sense ( Romans 11:12,15), for there was much the same distinction then as now; there were Israel, and the nations of the world, as now the church and the world, the former of which the Jews claimed to themselves, and the other they gave to the Gentiles, whom they looked upon as rejected of God; but Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, for Gentiles as well as Jews, and the grace of God hath appeared unto all men; the doctrine thereof, after the resurrection of Jesus, was no more confined to Judea, but carried into the Gentile world, by the first preachers thereof, who had a commission from Christ to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; whereby the blessings of the Messiah were conveyed to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews; which brings us to consider the several advantages which the nations of the earth were to receive from the Messiah, the promised seed, which are as follow: 1. Redemption, which is the source and spring of all the rest. The Messiah is frequently spoken of, in the Old Testament, under the character of a Redeemer, and the Jews always expected him as such; many instances might be produced from thence as proofs of it: I shall content myself with mentioning one, which I the rather choose, because it is cited in the New.
The passage is in Isaiah 49:20.
And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. This, says Aben Ezra, is the Messiah.
The Jews quarrel with this citation, and charge the apostle with a perversion of the prophet’s words, which, how justly, will appear by considering the principal differences between them the prophet says, The Redeemer shall come to Zion; but, according to the apostle it is, There shall come out of Sion the deliverer: For the reconciling of which, it ought to be observed, that the servile letter? sometimes signifies from, as well as to, when it is put in the room of?, of which, some instances may be produced; (see Exodus 16:1. and 19:1; Numbers 33:38; Ezra 3:8; 1 Kings 12:24; compared with 2 Chronicles 11:4). Besides, the Messiah was to come out of Zion: Hence says David ( Psalm 14:7), O that the salvation or Saviour of Israel were come out of Zion: so that our apostle fitly expresses the faith and expectation of the old Jewish church in this citation. The other difference is, in Isaiah; it is said, that this Redeemer should come to those that turn from transgression in Jacob; when the apostle says, that when he is come, he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. The Jews, who quarrel with him for his version of this clause, would do well to consider, that this is exactly agreeable to the Septuagint version, the authors of which were all Jews: besides, the Targum on the place favors our apostle’s version and sense, which paraphrases it thus, “The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and so turn the rebellious ones of the house of Jacob to the law.” From the whole it appears that they have no reason to charge the apostle with a false citation or perversion of Isaiah’s words, which not only declare the character of the Messiah, as a Redeemer, but also acquaints us with the nature of his redemption; not a deliverance from the Roman yoke, as the Jews vainly expected; but this Redeemer was to remove ungodliness from Jacob; he was to redeem Israel from all her iniquities: Salvation by him was to be an everlasting salvation, and not a mere temporary one and such a salvation old Jacob expected, who, whilst he was blessing his sons, a little before his death, breaks out in this pathetic manner ( Genesis 49:18), I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord. Remarkable is the paraphrase of Jonathan ben Uzziel on these words; “ When Jacob saw, says the paraphrast, that Gideon the son of Joash, and Sampson the son of Manoah, were appointed to be redeemers, he said, Not for the redemption of Gideon do I wait, nor for the redemption of Sampson, because their redemptions are but temporary; but for thy redemption, O Lord, do I wait; because thy redemption is an everlasting one.” Some copies read the last clause thus; “but for the redemption of Messiah the son of David.” Much to the same purpose also is the Jerusalem Targum on the place. From whence it appears, what sort of a redeemer, and what kind of redemption the ancient Jews expected; even such a Redeemer as Jesus is, whose name was called so, because he saves his people from their sins, who is become the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.
Now of this salvation and redemption, by the Messiah, the Gentiles were to partake as well as the Jews; for God gave him to be ( Isaiah 49:6) a light to the Gentiles, that he might be his salvation unto the ends of the earth; and accordingly the Gospel is become the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Though salvation is of the Jews; the author of it came from among them, and to them it was first preached, yet it does not belong to them only, all the nations of the earth being to be blessed, in the Messiah, with this blessing.
The writings of the Old Testament abound with intimations of the Messiah, as a Redeemer, and the nature of redemption by him ( Isaiah 9:6); nor are they wanting to give us an account of the greatness of his person; they represent him as the mighty God, God’s equal and fellow ( Zechariah 13:7), as the Adon or Lord ( Malachi 3:1), whom the Jews sought, of whom, in a time to come, it should he said, Lo ( Isaiah 25:9), this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord, we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation; though they also often speak of him as a man, as a son bore, and a child given, as one that should be exposed to very great sorrows, hardships, and sufferings, nay to death itself; hence it appears, that the Jews had no reason to quarrel with Jesus, as they did, for that he being a man made himself God; especially when his works declared him to be so for the Messiah of the prophets was to be both God and man. 2. Another blessing which the nations of the earth were to be blessed with, in the Messiah, or advantage they were to receive by him, is justification from all sin and condemnation; the apostle seems to have this blessing, designed for the Gentiles solely in view, namely, citing Genesis 12:3, he says ( Galatians 3:8), And the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
The people of God, under the Old Testament, were sensible that there was no justification before God, by any righteousness of their own, which they knew and acknowledged to be as filthy rags, wherefore they desired ( <19E302> Psalm 143:2) that God would not enter into judgment with them; for in his sight no man could be justified, that is, by any works of his own.
Now one part of the Messiah’s work was ( Daniel 9:24) to bring in everlasting righteousness, for the justification of those that believed in him; hence one of his famous names and titles is, The Lord our righteousness ( Jeremiah 23:6), and from him, they expected their justifying righteousness, surely ( Isaiah 45:24,25), shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength —in the Lord, or according to the Chaldee paraphrase, in or by the Word of the Lord, the eternal Logo V, shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory ; which blessing the Jews were not to enjoy alone, for the Gentiles were to share with them in it, who were not only to see this righteousness in others, but to enjoy it themselves; for all the Messiah’s people, whether Jew or Gentiles, were to be all righteous, and indeed at present the latter have the greatest share in this righteousness; for while Israel ( Romans 9:30,31), which followed after the law of righteousness, have not attained to the law of righteousness; the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith, which they have not from themselves, but from the Messiah, Jesus, who is the ( Romans 10:4) end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes, by whom they ( Acts 13:39) are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. 3. Another blessing, which the Gentiles, as well as Jews, were to receive from the Messiah, is peace. Peace and abundance of it were promised to be in the days of the Messiah; many ( Psalm 72:3,7; Isaiah 9:6,7; Haggai 2:9) prophecies speak of it, one of the Messiah’s titles is Prince of peace; nay, he is called The peace; because all true peace is owing to him, he is both the author and donor of it, which Gentiles as well as Jews participate of; for the Messiah was to ( Zechariah 9:10) speak peace unto the heathen, which Jesus has done, by preaching peace to them which were afar off and to them which were nigh f33 , that is, to the Jews, who were a people near unto the Lord; and to the Gentiles, who were afar off from him; the one also being upon the spot where Jesus and his disciples first began to preach, the other at a distance from them; and this Jesus did, as having an equal right unto, and a real concern for both, being Lord of all. 4. Pardon of sin is another valuable blessing, which the nations of the earth were to be blessed with in the Messiah, as well as the posterity of Abraham. This is one of those consolations in Isaiah 40:2 which Kimchi acknowledges shall be in the days of the king Messiah; it is part of the covenant ( Jeremiah 31:34), which was then to be more fully and clearly opened; this God promised, and this the ancient Jews expected on the score of the Messiah’s being wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their iniquities; though now they have lost the true notion of atonement for sin, which they expect not from the death of the Messiah, but from their own death; which, in their form of confession used by sick persons, their desire may be for the pardon, remission, and atonement of all their iniquities, transgressions, and sins, which is owing to their ignorance of the true expiation and forgiveness of sin, by the death of Christ, who is the propitiation, not for the sins of Jews only, but for those of the Gentiles also, for ( Acts 10:43) to him give all the prophets witness, that whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins; which valuable blessing we have in Jesus, whose blood was shed for many to obtain it. 5. Submission to the Messiah’s laws and government, in and among the nations of the earth, as well as among the Jews, was Promised and might be expected in the days of the Messiah. The apostle Peter seems to make the completion of the prophecy, now under consideration, so far as it respected the seed of Abraham, chiefly to lie in this, his words are these ( Acts 3:25,26), Ye, says he, speaking to the Jews, are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first, God having raised up his son Jesus, hath sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
Now, though the Messiah was sent to the Jews, and first made known unto them, the gospel first preached among them, and some of them turned to him; yet, by far, a greater number among the Gentiles, which was predicted in many prophecies; that when Shiloh was come, the gathering of the people, the nations of the world, was to be to him as soon as ever the root of Jesse was set up as an ensign to the people, the Gentiles were to seek unto it, nay, the isles afar off were to wait for his law, and would readily embrace it, upon its first promulgation; all which have been more or less fulfilled since the times of Jesus. 6. A very great effusion of the Spirit was promised and expected in the days of the Messiah; which was eminently fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, quickly after the ascension of Jesus, to verify the prophecy of Joel, in Joel 2:18, which many Jewish writers acknowledge belongs to the days of the Messiah. 7. The nations of the earth were to be blessed with abundance of knowledge, when the Messiah came;the earth was to be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as thy waters cover the sea; so that there would be no need for every man to teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying ,Know the Lord, for they were all to know him, from the least of them unto the greatest of them and this was so current an opinion, and so universally known and embraced, that the poor woman of Samaria could say ( John 4:25), I know the Messiah cometh, which is called Christ, when he is come he will tell us all things; which character well agrees with Jesus, who has opened the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, has made an ample discovery of his Father’s mind and will, has brought life and immortality to light by the gospel, and diffused the savor of his knowledge in every place.
In fine, all blessings here, and everlasting happiness hereafter, were promised unto, and might be expected from the Messiah, by the nations of the world; of which blessings, the gospel of Christ has brought them the joyful tidings for the salvation of God has been sent unto them, and they will hear it.
And seeing it is so, no wonder that this promised seed of Abraham should be so much expected, so ardently prayed for, and earnestly desired as he was; it need not therefore seem strange that he should be the delight of the Jewish nation, and the desire of all others.
CHAPTER -Concerning the Time of the Messiah’s Coming HAVING endeavored to prove that there was a very curly intimation given of the Messiah, as the seed of the woman , to our first parents after their apostasy from God; and considered the several advantages which the nations of the earth were to receive from him, as the seed promised to Abraham ; and the various blessings which might be justly expected at his coming; it will be proper now to inquire into the time when this great person was to make his appearance in the world. That there was a time fixed and appointed by God for the Messiah’s coming, which the apostle calls ( Galatians 4:4) the fullness of time , the prophet Habakkuk ensures us, when he says ( Habakkuk 2:3), the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
The vision , or prophecy, concerns the Messiah, therefore is called, by way of eminency, the vision ; the impletion of which was exceeding desirable to the people of God, who were often impatient because it was so long deferred; and therefore wanted fresh assurances to support them in their expectations thereof, which is the manifest design of these words. The person here spoken of, is described by a character which is peculiar to the Messiah, as being he who was to come , for those words aby ab yk may be thus rendered, because he that is to come , or that cometh , will come ; and so they are by the Septuagint version, and justified by the apostle’s citation in Hebrews 10:37. Now this was such a common paraphrase of the Messiah, and so well known among the Jews, that when John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus, for satisfaction about his Messiahship, the question was put in no other form than this ( Matthew 11:3), Art thou he that should come , o ercomenoV, or do we look for another : which character will be hard to fix upon Cyrus , or any other beside the Messiah.
Moreover, the manner of the Messiah’s coming is very aptly represented in this text; for what we render, it shall speak ; and not lie , may be well translated, he shall break forth as the morning, and not deceive . And thus the coming of the Messiah is described in 2 Samuel 23:4, and he , that is, the king Messiah, according to the Targum , who, verse 3 was to arise and rule in the fear of the Lord, shall be as the light of the morning , even a morning without clouds : which well agrees with Jesus, who is called ( Luke 1:78) the day spring from on high that hath visited us ; but if we read the words thus, he shall speak and not lie , they are fitly expressive of the Messiah’s work and office, as a prophet, who was to speak truth and not deceive, and well agree with Jesus, who spake such words of truth and wisdom, and in such a manner as never man did. Nay, the very time of the Messiah’s coming is pointed at in this prophecy, at the end he shall speak , or break forth , that is, at the end of the Jewish economy, as Bishop f38 Chandler well observes, when their civil and church state were near their dissolution; at which time it is notorious enough that Jesus came.
Moreover many Jewish writers acknowledge, that this prophecy belongs to the Messiah, and often use it to support them under the wretched disappointments they meet with, as to the coming of their vainly expected Messiah, as it was indeed of real service, this way, to their fathers before the coming of the true one: for the manifest design of it seems to be, to encourage the just to live by faith , in a full and humble expectation of it, though it might seem to tarry longer than they first looked or wished for, and not proudly and haughtily reject the promises of God, as never to be fulfilled; as appears from the following verse.
These things being considered, it will appear, that this prophecy does not intend Cyrus , and the restoration of the Jews from captivity by him; which a late author, supported by the authority of Grotius , thinks to be a more natural sense of it: but it is designed to carry the faith and expectation of God’s people to a greater person, and a far greater deliverance.
Now, as there was a fixed, determinate, and appointed time for the Messiah’s coming; so the prophets of the Old Testament were very solicitous and diligent in their inquiries about it ( 1 Peter 1:11), Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them, did signify, when it testified before hand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
Nor were their searches fruitless; for God was pleased to point out to many of them, the very exact and precise time of his coming: And it is somewhat remarkable, that, whereas Jesus came at the very time fixed by the prophets, so there was about that time a general expectation of the Messiah’s coming among the Jews, arising from the prophecies which went before it; which I shall consider in the following method.
I. I shall endeavor to prove, that the Messiah was to come before the tribe of Judah , and rule and government in that tribe ceased; or before the Jews’ commonwealth or political state were abolished.
II. Make it appear, that he was to come before their ecclesiastical or church-state ceased, or, in other words, before the second temple was destroyed.
First , I shall endeavor to prove, that the Messiah was to come before the tribe of Judah , and rule and government in that tribe ceased; or before the Jews’ commonwealth or political state was abolished; which I shall endeavor to do from Genesis 49:10.
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be which words are a prophecy of Jacob ’s concerning the tribe of Judah , and of the Messiah, who was to spring from thence, as I shall also endeavor to make appear. Jacob perceiving that the time of his departure was at hand, called his sons together, and being under a spirit of prophecy, declared unto them what would befall their posterity in succeeding ages: for it ought to be observed, that what he prophecies of them, does not so much concern them personally, as their tribes and future posterity; as also, that what he predicts concerning them, was to befall them in the times of the Messiah; for, says he ( Genesis 49:1), Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befal you in the last days; that is, in the days of the Messiah. Kimchi says, wherever the last days are mentioned, the days of the Messiah are to be understood, as they are here, which many Jewish writers acknowledge; and more especially what is foretold concerning the tribe of Judah , seems to concern him and his times; as when he speaks of his brethren praising of him, of his enemies being subdued under him, and the respect he should have from his father’s children (v. 8), as also when he compares him to a lion ’s whelp , (v. 9).
Hence one of the titles of Jesus is, The lion of the tribe of Judah ( Revelation 5:5), the time of whose coming is manifestly predicted in verse 18, as will appear by considering, 1. Who is meant by Shiloh . 2. The time of his coming, as here fixed. 1. I shall consider who is here meant by Shiloh . The Targums of Onkelos , Jonathan ben Uzziel , and the Jerusalem , understand it of the king Messiah, which was certainly the generally received sense of the ancient Jews, and is acknowledged by many of the modern ones; though some indeed, observing how much this prophecy militated against them, and what use has been made of it by the Christians, to prove that the Messiah must be already come, have endeavored to apply the words to something else, or to some other person. Some would have the city Shiloh intended; others Moses , others Saul , others David , others Jeroboam, others Ahijah the Shilonite , and others Nebuchadnezzar ; which different senses, show the wretched puzzle and confusion they are thrown into, since they have forsaken the true sense of the words; and these being so disagreeable to each other, as well as inconsistent with the text, do not deserve a particular consideration. But that the Messiah is here meant by Shiloh , I shall endeavor to make appear; 1st , From the signification of the word Shiloh . 2dly , From what is said of him in the text, that unto him shall the gathering of the people be . 1st, That the Messiah is intended by Shiloh , may be collected from the signification of the word; for though learned men, both among Jews and Christians, differ about the derivation and signification of it; yet, in any, and every of the senses, which they give thereof, it well agrees with the Messiah. Kimchi says it signifies his son , and so should be rendered, until his son come ; that is Judah ’s son; now what son of his can be so reasonably supposed to be intended, as the famous renowned son of his, the Nagid , the prince Messiah, who was to spring from his tribe, as it is manifest the Messiah Jesus did; and the word having a feminine affix , had led some to observe, and that not without some reason, that this son of Judah was to be the seed of the woman , or to be born of a virgin. Others, as Onkelos and Jarchi , paraphrase it, as if it was zlç that is, whose it is ; thus, until he comes whose is the kingdom ; and understand it of the Messiah, as they might justly do; for to him of right the kingdom belongs, and to him it is given; as it is said in Ezekiel 21:27, I will overturn , overturn , overturn it , and it shall be no more until he come whose right it is ; which R. Abendana applies to the Messiah, as it ought to be. Others have taken it to be a compound word of wl and yç , so read it, to whom gifts , that is, belong or shall be brought; for which Jarchi cites the Midrash Agadah . Now of the Messiah it is prophesied, that presents should be brought, and gifts be given to him ( Psalm 72:10,15), which had its literal accomplishment in the Messiah Jesus, to whom the wise men presented gifts ; gold , and frankincense , and myrrh . But most learned men derive the word from the root hlç , which signifies to be quiet , peaceable , and prosperous ; so that Shiloh is one that is so; which character well agrees with the Messiah, who was to be of a quiet and peaceable disposition : His voice was not to be heard in the streets ; he was to be the man , the peace , the author and donor of all peace, with whom all things were to succeed well; for the pleasure of the Lord was to prosper in his hand , as it did in Jesus’, who obtained a complete victory over all his enemies, and procured eternal salvation for his people.
From the whole it appears, that the variety of interpretations this word is subject to, is not sufficient to confound the application of this prophecy to a Messias, as the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy , &c. p. 136, asserts. 2dly , That the Messiah is here, intended, may be also concluded from what is here said of this Shiloh , namely, and unto him , shall the gathering of the people , or Gentiles, be ; which can agree with no other but the Messiah, to whom the Gentiles would seek , and in whom they would trust : for which way soever the words be rendered, they will suit with him. Some render themthe obedience of the people , agreeable to the use of the word in Proverbs 30:17. Now this is true of the Messiah, whose people are a willing people ; that is, to serve and obey him in the day of his power , to whom the Gentiles have, in a very remarkable manner, given a free and cheerful obedience, and verified this prophecy of him ( Isaiah 55:5); Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee; that is, to him who is promised as a leader and commander of the people : which Kimchi understands of the Messiah. Again, the Septuagint render the words by prosdokia eqnwn, the expectation of the nations : and so indeed the Messiah was: not only of the Jewish, but of other nations; the isles afar off waited for him, who was the desire of all nations ( Haggai 2:7). Moreover, if we read the words according to Jarchi , to him shall the gathering of the people be , and which is our version, they are very applicable to the Messiah, to whom the people, and particularly the Gentiles, were to be gathered; and well agree with Jesus, who had no sooner entered upon his public ministry, but crowds of people flocked to, and attended on him; and as soon as his gospel was published among the Gentiles, vast numbers of them embraced, and steadfastly adhered to it; through the preaching of which there has been a very great collection of persons to Christ, in all ages ever since; before whom all nations will he gathered , at the day of judgment, whom he will separate one from another , as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats , But I proceed, 2. To consider the time of Shiloh ’s or the Messiah’s, coming, according to this prophecy; which was to be, before the scepter and lawgiver depart from Judah . The Hebrew word fbç here translated the scepter , frequently signifies a tribe , and is so used in this chapter (vv.16, 18), and may be so here; and then the meaning is, that Judah ’s tribe should not be scattered and confounded, as the rest of the tribes of Israel were, but remain a distinct tribe, until the coming of the Messiah. The word may be rendered a scepter , and often is, which being an ensign of government, is here expressive of the rule or government which was to continue in the tribe of Judah until Shiloh came. The Jews acknowledge that rule and government are here intended; and I think, that these two senses of the word may be very easily joined together; for there can be no rule or government, where there is not a tribe or a body of people collected together in some order, any more than such a body can subsist long without rule or government; and then the meaning of this prophecy is, that Judah ’s tribe , and rule and government therein, were to continue until the Messiah came; or that the Messiah was to come before it ceased to be a tribe, and rule and government were removed from it: That Judah continued a distinct tribe, and that only, until the coming of the Messiah Jesus, is certain: Now, that this may appear manifest, let it be observed, that Judah , with his posterity, upon this blessing, designation, or appointment of Jacob , first commenced a distinct tribe of themselves, as did also the other sons of Jacob , with their posterity: for in this chapter we have the first account of the tribes of Israel , arid of Jacob ’s family being reduced into such a form: Now, from henceforward they, with Judah , continued so until they were carried away captive into Assyria , where they were scattered and lost, and never returned more; and yet, which is very remarkable, and was, no doubt, designed to fulfil this prophecy, Judah , though carried captive into Babylon , was preserved as a distinct tribe, returned as such from thence, and continued so until the times of Jesus.
Now, as long as this tribe continued a distinct tribe, rule and government continued in it; as they commenced together, they concluded together.
What kind of rule or government was in Judah ’s tribe, may be collected from what appears to have been in the rest of the tribes: Judah ’s rule or government was of the same nature with that of his brethren, only it was to continue longer; his scepter was of the same kind with theirs, only it was not to depart when theirs did; and therein, and therein only, lies the superior excellency of Judah ’s blessing, as to this part of it at least, to the rest of his brethren. Now it is plain and manifest from scripture, that every tribe had its heads , princes , and rulers ; we are informed of this very early, for before the coming of the children of Israel out of Egypt , we have an account of the heads of their fathers houses ( Exodus 6:14), which in other places are called the heads of the tribes ( Numbers 30:1; Joshua 14:1), and seeing this form of government obtained so early, it is highly probable that it was fixed by Jacob a little before his death, at the time when the distinct tribes were settled by him; and it is manifest enough, that the rule or government designed by the scepter here, be it what it will, was in the hand of Judah , when this prophecy was given forth; as appears from those words, the scepter shall not depart from Judah , which, as a late ingenious writer well observes, “Suppose the scepter to be already in the hand of Judah , for there cannot be any sense in saying, that a thing shall not depart which never yet was in possession.”
Now, as it appears that this form of government, among the tribes, was before Moses ’ time, so no alteration was made therein by him, though he was their legislator, who delivered to them, from God, the best system of laws and government that ever any people enjoyed, but left it just as he found it; (see Numbers 1:14. Deuteronomy 31:28), and so did Joshua his successor, as is manifest from Joshua 23:2 and Joshua 24:1. It continued during the time of the Judges; nay, when all the tribes of Israel united under one head, and the kingly government took place, it no ways affected this ( 1 Chronicles 28:1; 1 Kings 8:4). And thus it remained in all the tribes as long as they subsisted; the tribe of Judah , continuing longer than the rest, it abode with them, and that even in the Babylonish captivity, where it was preserved by twylg yçar the heads of the captivity , as the Jews call their rulers which they had at that time, who returned with them into their own land, and marched at the head of them; (Ezra 1:5; 2:2. Nay, this rule and authority were not abolished by the reign of the Hasmonæans , who were of the tribe of Levi ; for, during their reign the Sanhedrim , which was their highest court of Judicature, chiefly consisted of men of the tribe of Judah , there being only that tribe, and little Benjamin which: was confounded with it, that returned from Babylon ; and especially the ayçn , or prince of that assembly, was always of the tribe of Judah ; even quite down unto, and in the times of Jesus, we have an account of those elders and rulers of the people; they are so frequently mentioned in the New Testament, that I need not take notice of particular instances: but quickly after those times, the tribe of Judah failed, and appeared no more a distinct tribe in the world, and with it was put down all rule and authority; the tribe ceasing, of consequence all rule and government must cease with it; the Jews are no more a body politic, in the possession of rule and government among themselves; but have been subjected, for these sixteen or seventeen hundred years, to the laws and government of other nations, among whom they are dispersed: the scepter is entirely departed from Judah , and therefore the conclusion which we may fairly deduce from hence is, that the Messiah must be come.
It appears from what has been said, that there is no need to suppose kingly power and authority intended by the scepter , that not always being an emblem of regal dominion. Those who understand it in this sense, are not able to defend the prophecy against the Jews; for the kingly power, in the tribe of Judah , did not take place till David ’s time, above six hundred years after this prophecy, and ceased in Zedekiah , above five hundred years before the birth of Jesus; but this form of government, which was placed in the heads and princes of the tribe, commenced when the tribe itself did, and continued in it, without interruption, as long as there was one. Therefore if any particular form of government is here intended by the scepter, this bias the fairest for it; but if only rule and authority in general are here intended, without designing any one particular form, but that this tribe should be a body politic, governed by its own laws, until the coming of the Messiah, the prophecy has had its completion; for this tribe, ever since it existed, has been under some kind of government or other, either Monarchical, Aristocratical, or Democratical; nay, during the Babylonish captivity, it remained a body politic, governed by its own laws, as it was when Herod , an Idumean , was upon the throne, the scepter even then was not departed from it; ‘but now there is not the least appearance of any form of government whatever, nor has there been for many hundreds of years; and indeed how should there be any, when even the tribe itself is not in being.
There remains one thing more to be considered, and that is, what is to be understood by the lawgiver between his feet , who was not to be removed from thence until the Messiah came: by a lawgiver , we are not to understand a person or persons, that have a power of making and prescribing laws; for the tribe of Judah had no power to make laws either for itself or others, but was subjected to and governed by those unalterable laws which were delivered by Moses to that and the rest of the tribes.
Some Jewish writers, understand by this word qqwjm any ruler or governor that has dominion and jurisdiction over others, and so the word is used ( Judges 5:14), and then it intends the same as the word scepter does; others, as the three Targums on the place, understand by it, the Scribes , and teachers of the law , of which there was a great number among the Jews, in the time of Jesus; so that these were not then removed from between Judah ’s feet; but now the tribe is extinct, their genealogies are entirely lost, so that, though the Jews pretend to have doctors of the law among them, they are not able to make it appear that they are of the tribe of Judah . Now the Messiah was to come whilst this tribe was in such a state, that it might appear that it had rule and authority within itself, and proper persons to execute and explain its laws, which does not now appear, neither has it for many hundreds of years, and consequently the Messiah must be come; let the Jews therefore tell us what person appeared before the departure of the scepter and lawgiver, from that tribe, with whom the characters of the Messiah so well agree as with Jesus.
The Jews have tried several ways to enervate this testimony of the Messiah’s being already come. Menasseh ben Israel , has collected together, no less than eleven different senses of the words, and all designed to baffle the argument made use of, from hence, by Christians, but to no purpose; the word translated a scepter , they would have rendered a rod or staff ; and sometimes to signify a rod of correction , at other times a staff of support , which they say shall not be wanting to the tribe of Judah , until the Messiah comes; but it may be very reasonably demanded of them, what peculiar affliction has befallen that tribe, which did not the rest of the tribes of Israel ; besides, Judah was in a very flourishing condition, for five hundred years, under the reign of David ’s family; and when the rest of the tribes were carried captive, arid returned no more, Judah was preserved as a distinct tribe: it is true, ever since the rejection of Jesus, as the Messiah, the rod of correction has been upon them, and will continue until God gives them repentance: As to a staff of support, what support have they had, when they have been so many hundred years out of their land, destitute of those privileges they there enjoyed, living among the nations in the utmost disgrace, and for the most part, in poverty and distress? Again, sometimes Shiloh must mean any body but the Messiah; and at other times they are obliged to own the Messiah is intended, which shows both the ignorance and confusion of their greatest masters. The story of Benjamin of Tudela , of a certain Jew of the house of David having jurisdiction over a thousand Jews at Bagdat in Persia , is not to be credited, it having never been as yet confirmed; and if it could, how would it prove that the scepter is still in the tribe of Judah , and that the lawgiver is not yet removed from between his feet.
From the whole, it appears that the tribe of Judah is not now a distinct tribe, but has lost all manner of rule and authority; and that the Jews are not a body politic, having rule and. dominion within themselves, therefore the scepter is departed from them, and consequently Messiah must be come. That this is the true state of that people, themselves have been obliged to acknowledge f57 and particularly that saying of R. Rachmon , recorded in the Talmud , is very remarkable, “Wo to us says he, for the scepter is departed from Judah , and the son of David is not yet come.”
Now Jesus did come before the departure of the scepter and law-giver from Judah , and before the Jews ceased to be a nation, a body politic, governed by their own laws, and he having all the marks and characteristics of the true Messiah, ought therefore to be received as such. But I proceed,.
And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.
From whence I shall attempt to prove, First, That by this house, in the text, must be meant the second temple .
Secondly, That the Messiah, who is here designed by the desire of all nations, was to come into this temple; and that accordingly our Jesus did .
Thirdly; That the Messiah’s coming into this temple is the greater glory, which is promised to it .
First , I shall endeavor to prove, that the house here spoken of is to be understood of the second temple. This is so plain a case, that one would think no person could deny it. The temple which Solomon built was burnt down by the Chaldeans , and entirely destroyed. The people of the Jews were just now returned from Babylon , with leave from Cyrus to rebuild their temple, which they undertook under the conduct of Zerubbabel , Joshua , and others; and it is the manifest design of the prophet, both in this and the preceding chapter, to animate them to it, and encourage them in it, notwithstanding the mean figure it was like to make in comparison of that of Solomon ’s . Several Jewish writers acknowledge the second temple to be here intended; though others of them, evidently seeing how strong the argument from hence is to prove that the Messiah must be come, would have a third, temple intended, which they fancy will be built in the days of the Messiah. But that the second temple, and not a third is here meant, is evident, 1. From the pronoun this , hzh tybh ta this house , which manifestly points out the house that was then building, exclusive of all others; this house , this very house , which you have begun to build, and which appears so mean and contemptible in your eyes, in comparison of the former, even this house will I fill with glory . Nay, 2. It is expressly called, in verse 9 ˆwrjah hzh tybh this latter house , which distinguishes it from the former that was built by Solomon ; now if that was the first house, then this must be the second. Bishop Kidder has given instances, from Exodus 4:8,9 and Deuteronomy 24:3, where the word ˆwrja , translated latter, must necessarily signify the second .
Besides, 3. The scope of the prophecy being to encourage the present builders, confines it to the second temple. Cyrus had given the Jews leave to go into their land, and build their temple, which they undertook, but finding some difficulties attending, laid the work aside, and betook themselves to beautifying their own houses, vainly imagining, that the time was not come for this house to be built, as appears from chapter 1:2, therefore the prophet reproves them for it, verses 3-6, exhorts them to attend the work again, verses 7, 8, and informs them, that all the calamities which were come upon them; were owing to their remissness herein, verses 9-11, whereby the princes and people were stirred up; and, encouraged to reassume it, verses 12-14; but still it was discouraging to those who had seen the glory of the first temple, to observe that this came so very considerably short thereof. Now the Lord, by the mouth of the prophet, encourages those persons to go on in building, by assuring them, that, notwithstanding the meanness of this fabric, it should be filled with a glory excelling the former. Had a third temple been intended, what encouragement would it have been to the builders to be told, that this house, which they were building, would in a very little time be pulled down, and a very stately and magnificent one built in its room, which should not only equal, but be superior to that o f Solomon ’s ? I say, what encouragement would this have been to them to go on with their work, and prosecute it with vigor? It would rather have discouraged, and made them remiss, careless, indolent, and inactive. Moreover, 4. The time, yet a little while , when all this glory was to appear, can by no means agree with a third temple; it is now above two thousand years ago since this prophecy was given out, which surely cannot be accounted a little while , and yet no third temple built, nor any likelihood of any. The objection from hence against the application of the prophecy to the times of Jesus, will be considered hereafter. The second temple then being intended by this latter house, I shall, Secondly , Endeavor to prove, that the Messiah, who is here designed by the desire of all nations , was to come into this temple, and that Jesus accordingly did. It may be expected that I should first prove, that the Messiah is intended by the desire of all nations . Jarchi , Kimchi and Aben- Ezra , would have the desirable things of the nations meant, such as gold, silver, and precious stones, which they would bring into the temple and offer there as presents, which sense is not only contrary to the grammatical construction of the words, but foreign enough from the context, as well as too low to answer those surprising instances of God’s power, as the shaking the heavens and the earth, etc. which were to usher it in. R. Akiba applied this prophecy to the Messiah, and the character, here given, well agrees with him; all nations of the earth were to receive very great blessings and considerable advantages from him, as has been already proved, and therefore he must needs be a very desirable person. Besides, the very great commotion of the heavens, the earth, the sea, and dry land, and all the nations therein, here mentioned, can agree with no other but the Messiah, and the time of his coining. Moreover, nothing but the appearing of the Messiah in this temple, could make it preferable to, and more glorious than that of Solomon ’s . Now it is certain, that the Messiah was to come into this temple, the desire of all nations shall come ; whither? To his temple , as we are taught to explain it, from what follows, namely, I will fill this house with glory , and from a parallel text in Malachi 3:1.
Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple: even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.
R. David Kimchi understands this prophecy of the Messiah, who may very easily be concluded to be the person intended, from those magnificent titles here given to him, as the Lord , and the messenger of the covenant , which can agree with no other: One and the same person is meant both in Haggai and Malachi, in the one he is called the desire of all nations , in the other the Lord whom the Jews sought and delighted in ; the one says, he shall come in a little while ; the other that he shall come suddenly to his temple ; which is the same with Haggai’s latter house ; for into no other could he come suddenly. Nothing is more manifest, than that Jesus did come into this temple: The Jews expected to meet with the Messiah in the temple; hence old Simeon and Anna the prophetess waited there for him; where the former met with the young child Jesus, at the time of his presentation before the Lord: Here at twelve years of age, he disputed with the doctors; when he had entered upon his public ministry, here he taught the people, and that daily; here he wrought many of his miracles; here he was acknowledged to be the Messiah, and that even by the children, who cried in the temple, and said, Hosanna to the son of David ; where, as the Lord and proprietor of it, he cast out the buyers and sellers, and other profaners thereof ( Matthew 21:12-14). It can be no objection against the application of these prophecies to Jesus, that it was the temple built by Herod , that he came into; for the temple which was built by the Jews, after their return from Babylon , re-edified by Herod , and at last destroyed by Vespasian , was but one and the same, and is always called by the Jews ynç tyb the second house ; besides, if they make Herod’s temple to be distinct from Zerubbabel ’s , and so a third temple; then this temple which they vainly expect, must be a fourth, and not a third; nor can the objection of the Jew be thought to have any weight in it, namely, that Jesus came into this temple at the latter end of it; for it is enough that he was there at all; and the very objection is an acknowledgment thereof. But I. proceed,.
Thirdly , To show, that the Messiah’s coming into this temple is the greater glory promised unto it. I will fill this house with glory ,—the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former . Now let it be observed, that Solomon ’s temple, which is the former house referred to, was very great , glorious, and magnificent; nay wonderful great , as will evidently appear, if we consider the vast treasure amassed together by David , and expended by Solomon ; the large number of workmen employed therein, the prodigious charge in making provisions for them, the stateliness and richness of the fabric; the like to which was never seen in the world; God himself having drawn the model and pattern of it, and gave it to David in writing: Its dedication by Solomon was very magnificent; to all which add; the glory of the Lord filled it, and continued in it. Now the glory of the latter house must be something very considerable, which made it not only equal, but even superior to this. Again, it ought to be remarked, that by the Jews’ own confession, there were several things wanting in this latter house, which were in the former, especially these five,the ark , the Urim and Thummim, the fire from heaven , the Shechinah , and the Holy Ghost : Besides, several of the ancient men, who had seen the glory of the former house, wept when the foundation of this was laid; it being, in their eyes, in comparison of that as nothing . Therefore I say it must be something very considerable in this latter house, which must make the glory of it exceed that of the former. Some of the Jewish writers would have the glory of this second house consist in its duration; the first house, they say, continued four hundred and ten years, but this second house four hundred and twenty; so that, according to this computation, it stood ten years longer than the former, though they are not able to give any proof thereof: but supposing this to be true, and that the builders were beforehand acquainted with it, what great encouragement could this be to them to go on with their work? how could the continuance of it a few years longer compensate for the want of what has been mentioned, and set it upon a level with, nay make it preferable to such a glorious fabric, as Solomon ’s was? Besides, can it ever be imagined, that such a strange and uncommon commotion would be made in the heavens, earth, and sea, and that only to usher in such a trifling glory as this? Others therefore say, that the structure of this second temple, as it was built by the Jews in Zerubbabel ’s time, the glory of it increased by the great riches which the Gentiles brought into it in the times of the Hasmoneans ; and as it was reedified by Herod , exceeded in magnificence even that built by Solomon :
But it is not at all likely, either that the people of the Jews, who were just returned from captivity, and were both poor and few, or that Herod , who was a tributary to the Roman empire, should ever be able to raise such a structure: Their whole account depends upon the authority of Joseph ben Gorion , who was a much later author than the true Josephus ; and as to the riches which were brought into this temple by the Gentiles, in the times of the Hasmoneans , they were very inconsiderable and could never equal, much less give it an excelling glory to Solomon ’s temple; besides, gold and silver are expressly excluded in the text, from being any part of this glory: The silver is mine , and the gold is mine , saith the Lord of hosts ; as much as to say, “Silver and gold, which so much adorned the first house, the want of which makes this look so mean and contemptible in your eyes, are wholly at my command; I have an indisputable right to, and propriety in them; and was it my will and pleasure, I could easily amass vast treasures together, to enrich and adorn this house; but I have in my eye a greater glory than this, which I design to introduce into it; The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former .”
R. Azarias , by the desire of all nations , and the excelling glory of this latter house, would have the coming of Alexander the Great to Jerusalem , with his princes, intended, who honored the temple with his presence, and gave peace to the Jewish nation, when all the rest of the nations were in commotion and disturbance: but surely the coming of this person into this house, could not give it a greater glory than that which the first house had, which was built and dedicated by Solomon ; who was a far greater prince than ever Alexander was: However this we gain by this interpretation; that a person or persons are here intended by the desire of all nations , and not things; which person I have before proved to be the Messiah. Seeing therefore none of the things mentioned can give this latter house a greater glory than the first, and there being nothing, either in the text or context, which points out this excelling glory to us, but the coming of the desire of all nations into it, it may very safely be concluded, that it was the appearance of the Messiah in his temple, which was here designed, whose presence made it far more glorious than the former house was; for the glory of God, which was in shadow in the former house, here appeared bodily. But, Fourthly , There are several circumstances in the text which point out, both the person that was to come, and the time of his coming. 1st , All this was to be done in a very little time. Yet once it is , a little while , very quickly after this prophecy, or suddenly , as Malachi says, the Messiah was to come. Now, if the Messiah was to come in a little time after this, certainly he must be already come; for surely the space of two thousand years, and upwards, (for so long it is since this prophecy was given) can never he accounted a little while . Indeed a late author objects, that this seems a phrase not very properly applicable to a fact four hundred years after ; to which I answer, that this space of four hundred years, might very well be called a little while , in comparison of the long space of time which had elapsed since the first promise of the Messiah was given; besides, it is usual with the prophets to represent things which were at some distance, near; in order to strengthen the faith, and encourage the expectation of God’s people; moreover, it was but a little while ere things began to work towards the accomplishment of this prophecy. 2dly , It is prophesied that at, or before, the coming of this great person, there would be a very great shaking of the heavens, the earth, the sea, and dry land, yea of all nations; which may intend those mutations and revolutions that were made in the several kingdoms and nations of the world, between this prophecy, and the coming of Jesus, which the history of those times gives an account of; and indeed it was but a little while ere this shaking began, for the Persian monarchy, which was then flourishing, was quickly after subdued by the Grecian ; and that, in a little time, underwent the same fate from the Roman : Or else it may intend those f71 prodigies and wonders, which were wrought in the heavens, earth, and sea, at the birth, in the lifetime, and at the death of Jesus; at whose birth an unusual star appeared in the heavens, in whose lifetime miracles of various sorts were wrought, both by land and sea; and at whose death the sun was darkened, the earth quaked and the rocks were rent asunder. Never was there such a shaking among the nations as at the time of Christ’s coming. Herod and all Jerusalem with him, were moved and shaken at the tidings of His birth; angels descended from heaven to celebrate it, wise men came from the east to inquire after it; and, in a little time, all the nations under the heavens were shaken, moved, and stirred up, either to oppose or embrace him. Moreover, the apostle, in Hebrews 12:26 and 27, does not unfitly apply those words to that change which was made in the worship of God, by the coming of Jesus the true Messiah. 3dly , The Lord promises to give peace in this place at this time, and in this place will I give peace , saith the Lord of hosts ; which was made good, when he gave the Messiah, Jesus, the man , the peace , who has made peace by the blood of his cross , and has sent forth his ministers into all the nations of the earth, preaching peace by Jesus Christ who is Lord of all .
And if it is true, what some have asserted, that there was an universal peace in the world, in the times of Augustus , after all those shakings in the nations, in whose time Jesus was born; this prophecy has then had its fulfillment in a temporal way, and if there was not peace in those times, it will be hard to find it during the second temple.
From what has been said, it appears, that the Messiah was to come before the second temple was destroyed, and consequently must be come many hundred years ago: and it is certain that Jesus did come whilst this temple stood, attended with all the characters of the Messiah. The Jews are very much perplexed with this argument; and therefore are forced to acknowledge, that the Messiah was born before the destruction of the second temple, but ridiculously though tell us, that he lies hid, either at Rome , or in the sea, or in paradise, which shows the wretched ignorance, obstinacy, and judicial blindness, attending those people. R. Josse , who saw the destruction of the temple by Titus , said. “The time of the Messiah is come:” which he might very well conclude from hence, as all Jews ought to do.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an, end of sin, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks, and three, score, and two weeks, the street shall be built again, and the wall even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks, shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations, he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined; shall be poured upon the desolate.
The occasion of this prophecy is manifestly this; The prophet Daniel now being in captivity, and understanding by books, especially by the prophecy of Jeremy , that it would be a seventy years captivity, falls into a very great concern of mind for the people of the Jews, the city of Jerusalem, and the holy temple; and therefore sets apart some time in fasting and prayer to God on the account thereof; whose prayers were very quickly heard, he being a person greatly beloved ; for even at the beginning of his supplications , the commandment came forth , orders were given and the angel Gabriel immediately dispatched, as a messenger, to give him an account of those things which he was so very solicitous about; and the things which the angel had a commission to give him skill and understanding in, were of very considerable importance; as that there would be a royal edict issued forth in favor of the Jews; by virtue of which they would have full liberty to rebuild Jerusalem , the streets and wall thereof, tho’ it would be attended with a great deal of trouble and opposition; that after a certain space of time, here specified, was elapsed, the Messiah, the prince, whom he, and those of his nation expected, would be cut off; and that upon the cutting off of this great person, would very quickly ensue the utter ruin and destruction of the Jewish nation, city, and temple. These things, I say, which the angel had to deliver to him, being so very important and momentous, he prefaces the account of them after this manner, understand the matter , and consider the vision , that he might closely fix his attention thereunto. And that we may the better understand the meaning of this prophecy it will be proper to consider, First, What kind of weeks are here intended, which are said to be determined upon Daniel’s people, and upon his holy city, and what meant by their being thus determined.
Secondly, The several events which were to be fulfilled within, or quickly after, the expiration of these weeks, and how they have had an actual and exact completion.
First , It will be proper to inquire, what kind of weeks are here meant, and in what sense they were determined upon the people of the Jews, and their holy city Jerusalem . By weeks here, we must either understand weeks of days or weeks of years; not weeks of days, that being too short a time for so many events, as are here specified, to be fulfilled in; the whole seventy weeks, taken in this sense, not amounting to a year and a half, within which space of time, none of those things, predicted by the angel, came to pass: Jerusalem with its streets and wall was not rebuilt in seven weeks time, nor was the Messiah cut off after sixty-nine weeks, understanding them of weeks of days, according to any hypothesis whatever; nor were the Jewish nation, city, and temple wholly destroyed, after the expiration of the whole seventy weeks, taking them in this sense: therefore we are to understand by them weeks of years.; and about this, we have no controversy with the Jews, nor with the author of the Scheme of Literal Prophecy , who readily acknowledge it. This way of speaking and writing has been used both by Greek and Latin authors; though was it not, yet the frequent use of it, among the Jews, would he sufficient to justify such a sense of it here: thus in Genesis 29:27, says Laban to Jacob , concerning his daughter Rachael , taz [bç alm , fulfil her week , or fill up a week for this : that is, Serve me seven years for this, and we will give her also unto thee , which Jacob accordingly did (v. 21). Thus the Jews reckon their Jubilees by sabbaths or weeks of years; (see Leviticus 25:8). Besides, this appears to be a style in use among the prophets, to put a day for a year , as in Ezekiel 4:4,5, which way of writing the apostle John has followed in his Revelation (see Revelation 12:6. and 13:5), and that this kind of week Daniel intends here, seems manifest from Daniel 10:2,3, where Daniel , speaking of his mourning and fasting for the space of one and twenty days , expresses it, not as our translation, three full weeks , but µymy µy[bç hçlç three weeks of days , which seems to be designed to distinguish them from those weeks used in this prophecy, as well as to prevent any mistakes that might arise from hence; so that by the space of seventy weeks we are to understand four hundred ninety years ; for such a length of time was to run out, ere all the events specified hi this prophecy should have their full accomplishment.
Now these weeks are said to he determined upon Daniel ’s people , and holy city : By his people , we are no doubt to understand the Jews, who were his countrymen, of the same stock and religion with him, for whom he had, a very great and affectionate regard; and by his holy city , the city Jerusalem , the metropolis of Judea , where the temple formerly stood, and the pure worship of God had been kept up, for which Daniel had no small concern. Now when seventy weeks , or four hundred ninety years , are said to be determined upon these, the meaning is, that such a space of time was fixed and determined for the accomplishment of several events here mentioned, relating to the people; of the Jews and their city; and a verb singular being in construction with a noun plural, may denote, that every week in the whole number was determined, fixed, and cut out for some event or other; every which event was to have its full and exact completion. The word which is here translated determined , is, by the Vulgate rendered abbreviatæ , shortened or abbreviated ; which version the Papists adhere very closely to, and which the author of the Scheme of Literal Prophecy , page 175, appears to be an advocate for; he says it is so rendered by the Greek . The Septuagint indeed translates it suneiuhqhsan , conciscæ sunt , are concise or cut , but not shortened : He cites Tertullian as rendering the word the same way; whose authority cannot be very considerable, seeing he was entirely ignorant of the Hebrew language; It is somewhat surprising to me, when he says, the original word both in Hebrew and Chaldee signifies to abbreviate or cut and not to determine ; which I am sure is contrary to the judgment of Jewish writers, f75 who must be allowed to understand their own language and writings; they tell us that it signifies the same as rzg , to decree , determine, or decide any thing: That the word signifies to cut , is not denied; but that it does not signify to determine must be denied; for the word is oft so used, as will appear hereafter. It is strange, that Lively ’s Chronology should be referred unto, who was far from embracing the version of the Vulgate , as appears from what follows; which I shall the rather choose to transcribe, because it furnishes us with instances of the use of the word under consideration: “The Papists, says he, in their expositions, allege that translation (the Vulgate) preferring it before the original text itself received from heaven. And hereof it is, that Pererius , in his exposition on this place, standeth so much upon the word abbreviatæ , shortened , urging it greatly in proof of his short moon years: It is a proof indeed from the bad interpretation of a man, not warrantable from the mouth of God, whose word in this place is dtj , which; in the holy tongue, signifieth properly to cut , in that sense it is often used by the Hebrew writers, calling a piece of thing dtj and hkytj , as Camius , in the second part of his Miclol , and Elius in his Tishbi testify.—It is also expounded by the Greek interpreter, who here, to express the Hebrew word dtj hath suntemnw signifying to cut .” “The meaning is, that so many years were determined and decrec1, by a speech borrowed from things cut Out, because that in determining and decreeing things, the reason of man’s mind sundering truth from falsehood, and good from bad, doth, by judgment, as it were, cut out that which is convenient and fit to be clone. Whereunto a like example in the same word is read iii the Chaldee Paraphrase of Esther , the fourth chapter, and the fifth verse atwklm ymntp ˆktjtm hmwp rmym l[yd Ëtj yrqtmd laygdl rtsa tarqw which in English is thus much:
And Esther called for Daniel , whose name was Hathac , by the word of whose mouth, the matters pertaining to the kingdom were cut out, that is, determined and appointed.”
After which he proceeds to give like instances in other words of the same signification, as Esther 2:1 and 1 Kings 20:40, and observes, that Latin authors use the word decido in the same sense, and concludes with remarking that Theodoret , in his exposition of this place, takes the Greek word in the same sense; they are cut; that is, appointed and decreed. From hence it appears, that his appeal to Lively is of little service to him. Again, it is still more strange, that this author should refer us to any texts of scripture, to confirm this sense of the word, when it is not used in any other place of the Bible, nor indeed any word derived from it; and more remarkable still, that two passages should be referred to in the New Testament, to give us the sense of an Hebrew word, though perhaps this author only designs to observe to us, in what sense the word shorten is used, or else how the word brevio , or abbrevio , is used by the Vulgate ; for which father Harduin , has produced the same passages, namely, Job 17:1, Proverbs 10:27, Matthew 24:22 and Romans 9:28, from whence this author seems to have taken the hint; but, after all, it is a little difficult to know what he aims at in attempting to establish this version, unless it be to give countenance to that notion which he seems to espouse, and in which he agrees with Harduin , namely, that the seven weeks and the sixty two weeks have one and the same epoch , which they make to be the fourth of Jehoiakim ; for lunar years are rejected by them both, which most, who follow this version, contend for, and which they suppose to be the reason, why those weeks are said to be shortened: But, not to insist any longer upon this, I would only add, that to understand the word in its first and primary sense, which is to cut , is very aptly expressive of the division or section of those seventy weeks into distinct periods, as 7. 62. 1. in which distinct periods different events were to be accomplished. I therefore, Secondly , Proceed to consider the several events which were to be fulfilled within, or quickly after the expiration of these weeks, and how they have had their actual and exact establishment; which are delivered.
First , More generally, in verse 24. When I say more generally, I mean, that the angel in this verse gives an account of the several events which are not particularly referred to any distinct period, into which those seventy weeks are divided; but are given out in general as to be all of them fulfilled within the term of seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, which upon enquiry, we shall find to be fulfilled in, or by Messiah, the prince, and at, or about the time of his being cut off, and principally regard the work he was to do, which was, 1. To finish the transgression . The Hebrew word alk signifies to restrain as well as to shut up or finish; and the former Dr. Predeaux observes, f80 rather than the latter; (see Genesis 8:2; Psalm 40:11; 119:101; Ezekiel 31:15) and indeed it will be very difficult to give one single instance where it is used in the latter sense; so that the meaning is not to put an end to all punishment for the sins of the Jews, which the author of the Literal Scheme , from Grotius , Marsham , and Harduin , endeavors to establish; for nothing is more manifest, than that the measure of the punishment of that people, is not completed yet; but the plain meaning is, that a restraint would be laid upon the prevalence of transgression by the Messiah when he came. Now it is notorious enough, that though sin very much abounded when Jesus came, both in the Jewish nation and in the Gentile world, and, perhaps, as it had never done before, since it first entered into the world, and which, by the way, the Jews make to be one sign of the Messiah’s coming; yet, notwithstanding this, I say, there never was an age wherein greater restraints were laid upon sin, than in this and that first by the ministry of John the Baptist, and at Jesus Christ, in the land of Judea , and then by his apostles, in the Gentile world. 2. Another thing, mentioned in this prophecy, which the Messiah was to do at his coming, was to make an end of sins . Our translators here follow the Keri , or marginal reading, and not the Cetib , or textual writing, which is to seal up sins ; either reading, fully expresses the Messiah’s work: Things which are sealed up, are hid and covered, and sin is said to be so, when forgiven ( Psalm 32:1). Now when the Messiah is said to seal up sins , the meaning is, that he should procure the pardon of them, which Jesus has done by the effusion of his blood; as also, by the sacrifice of himself , has put away sin , or made an entire end of it. 3. As another branch of his work, he was to make reconciliation for iniquity . The Hebrew word rpk here used, signifies to expiate or make atonement for sin by sacrifice , as it is frequently used; (see Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 4: 20, 26, 31, 35). Now that the Messiah, Jesus, made reconciliation for the sins of the people , this way, is manifest enough from the writings of the New Testament, and especially from the epistle to the Hebrews . I shall take no other notice of three different Hebrew words being here used, to express sin by, than only just to observe, that it may be to show, that all manner of sin was to be restrained, sealed up, made an end of, and expiated by the Messiah; to which well agrees what the apostle John says, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin ( 1 John 1:7). 4. The Messiah was also, according to this prophecy, to bring in everlasting righteousness ; for this, surely, could be brought in by no other, than he, whose name is the Lord our righteousness . The author of the Literal Scheme , refers this to the very great piety and religion of the Jews, in the times of Onias the high-priest, so much extolled in Maccabees 3:2 which father Harduin makes typical of the holiness that was to be brought into the world by the Messiah; but surely, how considerable so ever the improvement of those persons was, in the observation of their religion and laws; yet it could never be called an everlasting righteousness . Sir J . Marsham has given a better sense of this clause than this, who acknowledges it to be the eternal righteousness of God, to whom righteousness is ascribed in verse 7, and indeed it is no other than the righteousness of God , which is unto all , and upon all them that believe , of which the Messiah, Jesus, is the author, who is become the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes . Now, 5. By the Messiah’s accomplishing all this, he was to seal up the vision and prophecy ; not the prophecy of Jeremiah , concerning the end of the captivity, which the author of the Literal Scheme thinks is intended, supported by the authorities of Marsham and Harduin ; for this prophecy, when Daniel had this vision, wanted but a very little time of having its full accomplishment; therefore it cannot be supposed, that seventy weeks of years should be fixed and determined, for the accomplishing of an event, which was to be fulfilled, in two years time, or thereabout. No, by sealing the vision and prophecy is meant the Messiah’s fulfilling whatever was predicted by the prophets concerning him, whereby he would seal up , and put an end to vision and prophecy in the Jewish church; all which has been exactly completed by the Messiah, Jesus, who, in what he has done and suffered, has sufficiently verified whatever was in the Old Testament, prophesied of the Messiah; as I hope my account of prophecies will make appear. It is undeniable matter of fact, that ever since the times of Jesus, prophecy has ceased among the Jews; nor can they themselves deny it, nay they tell us, that “There has never arose a prophet in Israel since the building of the second temple;“ which deficiency, they say, was supplied by Bath-Kol ; but that is ending prophecy too soon, for the law and the prophets were until John ; however, it is now ceased; it lasted so long as there was any need of it; but when the Messiah, the sum and substance of all, was come, it was at an end among that people. Now in order to the accomplishing of all these things, 6. The most holy was to be anointed . The author of the Literal Scheme f88 wou1d, with Marsham and Harduin or rather Harduin’s defender, have either the high priest or temple intended, which cannot be true of the second temple, nor of the high priest under that: for the anointing oil being hid, as the Jews say by Josiah , could never be found, and consequently not used under the second temple. It is better, therefore, with some Jewish writers, to understand the Messiah, who was typified both by the highpriest and temple, and was to be anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows ; the whole well agreeing with the Messiah, Jesus, who was perfectly holy, both in nature and life, and being anointed with the Holy Ghost , and with power , went about doing good and healing all manner of diseases ; preached the gospel to the meek, expiated the sins of his people, and now reigns as God’s anointed king, upon his holy hill of Zion . But I proceed, Secondly , To consider those events which are more particularly delivered in the verses 25-27, where the seventy , weeks , or four hundred and ninety years, are distributed into three distinct periods, and to every period, particular events are assigned. 1st, The seventy weeks are distributed into seven weeks, or forty-nine years. 2dly, Into sixty and two weeks or four hundred and thirty-four years.
And, 3d1y, Into one week, or seven years. I shall begin, 1st , With the consideration of the seven weeks, or forty-nine years, and the events to be fulfilled within that time, and endeavor to fix the true epoch of them, which as Sir. J . Marsham says, istotius negotii cardo , the chief point of all, the very hinge, on which the whole affair turns. Now the rule which we are to go by, and which is fixed by an express character in the text, is, the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem , its streets and wall , within the compass of which time all this was to be effected; now then the question is, of the going forth of what commandment these words are to be understood? That the word , commandment , or promise of the Lord to Jeremiah in chapter 25 and 29, concerning the end of the captivity, is not intended; which hypothesis the author of the Literal Scheme has embraced, is manifest; because that was not a commandment to rebuild Jerusalem , its wall and street, after an expiration of seven weeks, or forty-nine years; but only a promise of release from captivity, after seventy years were accomplished; so that there is a wide difference between the one and the other: besides, these seventy years were now very near accomplished, nor did Daniel want any information about the expiration of them; he had learnt, by books , the number of the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet ; so that he knew when these years began, and consequently when they would end, therefore there was no necessity of an angel’s being dispatched from heaven to acquaint him with these things; nay, this would be to make the angel’s preface to the account of these weeks trifling, when he says, know therefore , and understand , when he must be supposed to know this already; nor can the epoch of these weeks be the going forth of the commandment to the angel in verse 23, to go to Daniel , and acquaint him with these things, which commandment came forth at the beginning of Daniel ’s supplications , as Sir J . Marsham has fixed it; for that was no command to rebuild Jerusalem , &c. but an order to Gabriel , forthwith to go to Daniel , and apprize him of things relating to his people and city, for which he was so much concerned. But to proceed; after the exhibition of this vision to Daniel , there were no less than four several commandments, or edicts, issued forth in favor of the Jews, their nation, city or temple. The first was that of Cyrus in the first year of his reign, recorded in Ezra 1:3, which appears to be a proclamation to build the house of the Lord the temple, and not the city of Jerusalem with streets and wall, and therefore cannot be the commandment here intended; it was only the temple he gave them liberty to rebuild, encouraging them to, and making provision for it; moreover it appears, that when this record of Cyrus was researched, the contents of it were only a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem , which was made in this following form, Let the house be built, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid, &c. as for the text in Isaiah 44:28, it is no prediction of any decree that Cyrus would issue forth for the rebuilding of Jerusalem , nor did he ever make any on that account; and it ought to be observed, the words are manifestly the words of God, and not of Cyrus ; for he that saith of Cyrus , He is my shepherd ; is also represented as saying to Jerusalem , Thou shalt be built ; and to the temple , Thy foundation shall be laid ; these words are God’s promise, and not Cyrus ’ decree; besides, to compute these seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years, from the date of Cyrus ’ decree, in favor of the Jews, will fall short by many years, of reaching the great event, which was to be accomplished at the expiration of them, namely, the cutting off of the Messiah ; therefore this can never be the true epoch of these weeks. The second decree made in favor of the Jews, was in the times of Darius king of Persia ; which Darius , as Dr. Prideaux has sufficiently proved, could not be Darius Nothus , as Scaliger and others who have followed him, much less Darius Codomannus , but truly Darius Hystaspis . The decree referred to, which he made in favor of the Jews, is recorded in Ezra 6 which decree only regards the temple, and indeed is only a confirmation, or ratification, of Cyrus ’ decree, with a strict charge to his governors not to disturb, but to assist the Jews in their work; so that for the same reasons that the computation of these weeks cannot begin from Cyrus ’ decree, it cannot begin from this; whether the decree went forth, in the second, or third, or fourth years of this king’s reign it matters not.
There were now two other decrees made in favor of the Jews, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia ; the one in the seventh, the other in the twentieth year of his reign. This Artaxerxes was not Artaxerxes Mnemon, nor Artaxerxes Ochus ; but Artaxerxes Longimanus , as Dr. Prideaux has fully made appear. The decree which was made in favor of the Jews, in the seventh year of his reign, is recorded in Ezra 7:13,21 in which he only confirmed what his predecessors had granted concerning the temple, and that only with respect to needful provisions for offerings and sacrifices; in the decree, he gives order to his treasurers to assist herein, and exempts the priests, Levite , &c from all toil , tribute or custom ; but not one word of building the streets and wall of Jerusalem . Ezra , to whom the king gave the letter which contained this decree, had no commission to rebuild Jerusalem , nor did he attempt it; from hence, therefore, we are not to begin the computation of these weeks. It remains then to consider the last decree, or commandment, which went forth in the twentieth year of this king’s reign, of which we have an account in <160201>Nehemiah 2:1, 6-8. The occasion of it was this; Nehemiah having an account of the state and condition of the Jews, and of the city of Jerusalem , how they were in great affliction and reproach , and particularly that the WALL of Jerusalem was broken down , and the gates thereof burnt with fire ; having, I say, received such an account of things from Hanani , and some other Jews, who were lately come from thence, it filled him with a great deal of trouble and concern; insomuch that when he came into the king’s presence it was easily discerned by the king who inquiring the reason of it, Nehemiah freely tells him, that it was because the CITY, the place of his fathers sepulchres , lay waste , and the gates thereof were consumed with fire ; and then takes the opportunity to request of him, that he might be sent unto Judah , to the CITY of his fathers sepulchres , that he might BUILD it ; and also humbly desired a letter from the king unto Asaph the keeper of the king ’s forest , that he might give him timber to make beams for the gates of the palace , which appertained to the house , and for the WALL of the city ; all which was accordingly granted him; by virtue of which grant he immediately went to Jerusalem , and encourages the Jews to build the wall , which they accordingly did, and that in a very little time, notwithstanding all the opposition that was made against them. Now this grant, or commandment, of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah , exactly agrees with the express character of the commandment in this prophecy under consideration. The seven weeks were to bear date from the going forth of a commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem , even the street and wall thereof. Now there never was any commandment went forth before this, on the account of the city and wall of Jerusalem , nor any since: there being no need of any, for by virtue of this, the city, street, and wall, were actually re-edified. Now here must the epoch of the seven weeks, or forty-nine years, be fixed, within which compass of time this event was to be fulfilled, namely, the rebuilding the streets, and wall of the city of Jerusalem ; for that this event belongs solely to the period of the seven weeks is manifest, as Dr. Prideaux observes, f96 om the appropriating the time of the Messiah to the period of sixty two weeks in the next verse, which necessarily leaves this entirely here where I have fixed it; besides, it is here predicted, that the street should be built again , and the wall , µyt[h qwxbw which some have f97 rendered in the strait or smallest pittance of time , in angustia temporum , in the narrow space of these two periods , that is, in the lesser of them, which is that of seven weeks; so that the prophecy expressly refers this event to this distinct period; though if it should be rendered troublous times , or times of oppression and affliction, it is notorious enough, what trouble and affliction Nehemiah and the Jews met with, from Sanballat , Tobiah , and Geshem the Arabian ; (see Nehemiah 4 and 6). Now for the completing of this work, seven weeks , or forty-nine years, are cut out , limited and determined, in which space of time it is reasonable to suppose the city was built upon her own heap , its streets , or broad places , were filled with agreeable ranges of houses, and its wall settled upon its own foundation, and indeed in much less time all this could not well be done. But I proceed, 2dly , To consider the sixty-two weeks , or 434 years, after the expiration of which the Messiah was to be cut off . Having fixed the epoch of the seven weeks, or forty-nine years, there is no difficulty in beginning these, for these weeks begin where the others end; the seven weeks and sixty-two weeks have not one and the same epoch, as the author of the Scheme of Literal Prophecy , from father Harduin , would have it, who here contends for abbreviated weeks; for the seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks, are in the 25th verse, reckoned by the angel, in one and the same continued reckoning, as reaching to the Messiah; for he expressly says, that from the going forth of the commandment—unto the Messiah the Prince , shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks , that is, sixty nine weeks or four hundred and eighty-three years; but there being this particular event, of the street and wall to be rebuilt within the compass of the first seven weeks of this sixty-nine or which was to be completed about the end thereof, is the true reason of the angel’s using this uncommon way of reckoning; and therefore having dispatched the first period, and the event which belonged to it, he now proceeds to the second and larger period, which would reach down to the Messiah’s death; and in order to the clearing of this part of the prophecy, it will be proper, 1. to inquire who is to be understood by the Messiah , and the Messiah the prince , 2. what by his being cut off and that not for himself ; and 3. the exact and precise time thereof according to this prophecy. 1. I shall inquire who we are to understand by the Messiah , and the Messiah the prince : that the Messiah the prince in verse 25 is the same with the Messiah in verse 26 that was to be cut off, manifestly appears at first view, there being no character whereby to distinguish one from the other in the whole prophecy, though indeed the author of the Scheme of Literal Prophecy , with the help of father Harduin , has found out no less than three Messiahs in this prophecy, namely Messiah Cyrus ; Messiah Judas Maccabæus , and Messiah Onias the high priest; the two first he makes to be Messiah ’ princes , and the other a Messiah priest . The Messiah Cyrus he makes to come at the end of the seven weeks, or fortynine years, from the date given, which he supposes to be the fourth of Jehoiakim ; and the Messiah Judas Maccabæus at the end of sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty four years, beginning from the same date; about which time also a third Messiah was to arise, even Messiah Onias the high priest, who was an upright person, of great holiness, and taken off by an unjust death but to all this I reply, that Cyrus cannot be intended by the Messiah in verse 25, whom this author places at the end of the seven weeks, or forty-nine years, because he was dead long before these weeks began; nor can Judas Maccabæus be the Messiah that was to come after the expiration of sixty-two weeks, supposing that they bear the same date with the former; because Judas Maccabæus must have lived and been dead many years before the expiration of these weeks; and for the very same reason Onias the high priest cannot be meant, whose death father Harduin makes typical of the death of the true Messiah, Jesus, who he says is directly intended here by the Holy Ghost; and herein the author of the Scheme of Literal Prophecy dissents from him, seeing he will not allow the Messiah, Jesus, to be at all intended; but as for Harduin , he says the prophecy particularly belongs to Christ, and that it had not its completion in the times of Antiochus and Judas Maccabæus , and herein opposes both Estius and Sixtus Senensis ; he likewise asserts, in so many words “that this was far from being fulfilled in Onias , that he was the most holy , for strictly and properly speaking, says he, this word only denotes him who is eminently the holy one ; nor was it ever fulfilled in the times of Onias , that everlasting righteousness should then appear; nor was it then fulfilled that the Messiah should be slain, neither was Onias properly the Messiah, as we have before said, as the Jews themselves acknowledge, nor was it ever fulfilled under Onias , that the whole Jewish nation should deny him and that the same people should be rejected upon that account; nor was it fulfilled after the death of Onias , that the desolation of the temple should continue until the consummation; for before the people were to cease to be a people, that is, before the last and utter destruction of the temple, all the prophecies concerning the Messiah were to be fulfilled.”
Some Jewish writers would have Herod Agrippa intended by the Messiah that was to be cut off , who they say was the last king of the Jews, and was slain by Vespasian in the destruction of Jerusalem ; but this is all false: for he was not properly a king of the Jews, having only Galilee for his jurisdiction, was not slain by Vespasian , but was a confederate of the Romans , lived some years after the destruction of the city, and at last died in peace. This is manifestly designed to destroy the application of the prophecy to the Messiah, though some of them have acknowledged that it belongs to him. R. Nehemiah , who lived fifty years before Christ, asserted, that the time of the Messiah, signified by Daniel , could not be protracted beyond those fifty years. The Jews tell a story of Jonathan ben Uzziel that having finished his Targum on the law, he attempted to write one upon the Hagiographa , but was hindered by a voice from heaven, which gave this as a reason why he should not proceed, becausetherein the end of the Messiah is delivered to us , that is, the time of the Messiah’s being cut off as fixed in Daniel , which book is one of the Hagiographa ; f105 that the Messiah is here intended may be collected from the name and title here given him, by which I not only mean that of Nagid the prince , who was to come out of Judah ’s tribe ( 1 Chronicles 5:2), but that other of Messiah; it is certain that this name was well known among the Jews, and that in the times of Jesus, as belonging to that great person spoken of by all the prophets; it is used sixty or seventy times in the Targums . Now, if this does not belong to him here, it will be hard to find another place where it is absolutely, and by way of eminency, given unto him, and yet we find that he was commonly known among the Jews by this name, and that by the meaner sort: (see John 1:41; 4:25) which surely they must have learned from some of the prophecies, and it can hardly be conceived from whence, unless from this prophecy: besides, the work this person was to do, can agree with no other; the several branches of which, are mentioned in verse 24. I go on, 2. To inquire what is meant by his being cut off . The Hebrew word trk here used, signifies to be cut off in a judicial way , and so it is frequently: (see Genesis 17:14; Exodus 12:15; Numbers 15:30,31), so that when the Messiah is said to be cut off , the meaning is, that he shall die, and that his death shall be penal, or executed upon him in a judicial way, which was verified in Jesus who was tried, condemned, adjudged to death in a judicial way by men, as well as made a curse by God; and herein fulfilled what was prophesied of the Messiah in Isaiah 53:8 who was to be taken from prison and from judgment, to be cut off out of the land of the living, and to be stricken for the transgression of the people of the Jews. And now, lest it should be thought that he was cut off for any iniquity that was found in him, it is added, and not for himself ; no, as Isaiah says in chapter 53:5, he was wounded for our transgressions , he was bruised for our iniquities ; though some choose to render this clause otherwise, as he shalt have no people , that is, among the Jews, that will believe in or obey him; as Jesus had few indeed in that nation; or they shall not be his people ; for upon their rejection of the Messiah, Jesus, they were rejected from being the people of God; or there shall be none to help him , that is, in obtaining eternal redemption, because he needed none. Jarchi makes wl ˆya to be the same as wnnya is not , which phrase is frequently expressive of death, as Genesis 42:13,32,46 and Jeremiah 31:15. Then the meaning will be, that the Messiah shall be cut off and die, or he cut off by death. The author of the Scheme of Literal Prophecy objects, upon this account,, against the application of this prophecy to the Messiah; and observes, that “the Jews, in Jesus’ time, were so far from understanding Daniel ’s Messias , who was to be cut oft ; to have any relation to the Messias they expected; that their opinion was, that the Messias should never die ; and even the apostles and disciples of Jesus thought Jesus could not be the Christ when they saw him suffer and die .”
To which I answer, this is no proof that the Messiah, according to the prophets, was not to die: but only a proof of the ignorance of those persons, which seems to arise from want of being sufficiently acquainted with this truth, that the Messiah was to be both God and man; and indeed it is no wonder that the common people were ignorant of those things, when their learned doctors were so; hence it was that they were so wretchedly confounded by Christ when he questioned them about the Messiah, and in what sense he was both David ’s son and Lord ( Matthew 22:42), besides this notion that the people had learnt out of the law, that Christ abideth for ever , was no ways inconsistent with his death; for though Jesus was dead , yet he is now alive , and will continue so for evermore : It is certain the Jews are aware that the Messiah of the prophets was to suffer and die, as well as to be exalted and dignified; and finding such different characters of him, which they thought irreconcilable in one person, have vainly imagined two Messiahs; the one they call Messiah the son of Joseph , who they say shall be slain in the war of Gog and Magog, and the other they call Messiah the son of David , whom they fancy will be a very potent, magnificent, and victorious prince; though about the time of his continuance they are divided: and as to the disciples of Jesus, it must be acknowledged that there was much ignorance, diffidence, and unbelief in them, especially in those two referred to by this author, all which was removed by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, when life and immortality was brought to light , and he declared to be the Son of God , and true Messiah, with power . In short these exceptions are insufficient to disprove the Messiah being intended in Daniel ’s prophecy, or that the Jews understood it of him, for this they might, and yet not understand all those things that were said of him therein, and much less be capable of reconciling them with the characters elsewhere given of him. I have already given instances of Jews, both before and after the times of Jesus, who understood this prophecy of the Messiah; besides, we have the testimony of Joseph us in this matter, and in him as Bishop Chandler observes, the testimony of the whole nation. But I proceed. 3. To consider the exact and precise time of the Messiah’s cutting off; in order to which, it will be proper to fix the form of the year here made use of, which it is highly reasonable to suppose, was that which was in common use among the Jews. The learned Dr. Marshal , according to whose hypothesis I have all along proceeded, in the consideration of these weeks, has made it sufficiently appear, that the year in common use, not only among the Egyptians , Chaldeans , Persians , Greeks , and other nations of Asia , but also among the ancient Jews, consisted of just three hundred and sixty days, they reckoning thirty days to a month, and twelve months to a year, which way of reckoning appears to be as old as Noah ’s flood; (see Genesis 7:11,24; 8:3, 4), but what has fully satisfied me, and I think is sufficient to satisfy any person, that this form of year is here used, is, that not only the seventy years captivity of the Jews in Babylon , which, at the time of this prophecy, was not fully expired, were reckoned ac. cording to this form of year, as the above-mentioned learned writer has fully proved; but also that St. John , in his Revelation , who in many things copied after Daniel , using Daniel ’s language in speaking of a time , and times , and half a time , explains it by forty-two months and one thousand two hundred and sixty days ; (see Revelation 12:6,14; 13:5), which number of days cannot be reduced into three years and a half, by any form of year whatever but this. From the whole it appears, that the form of year then commonly in use, was according to this eastern way of reckoning. The famous Selden indeed tells us, that the Jewish astronomers had a solar year, consisting of three hundred and sixty-five days and six hours; but then at the same time he informs us, that this was only used in schools, as being serviceable and helpful to learned studies, and not in common among the people. It is somewhat strange to me, that the author of the Scheme of Literal Prophecy should account Chaldee and Lunar years of one and the same form as consisting of three hundred and eighty-days; when in a lunar year, strictly and properly, there are but three hundred and fifty-four days and about nine hours; and so the Jews now reckon, when they have an equal number of full and deficient months; that is, when six of their months consist of thirty days each, and the other six of twenty-nine only; so that the number of the days of the year varies according to the number of the full and deficient months; but then their highest number of days is but three hundred and fifty-six, as their lowest is three hundred and fifty-two: but a Chaldee year, or a year according to the old eastern way of reckoning, consisted of three hundred and sixty days, and not as this author says, of three hundred and eighty, unless there should be a misprint of the figures 380 for 360; but then Lunar and Chaldee years will not appear to be the same. And if our author refers to the form of year made use of by the Jewish Sanhedrim for the regulating of their festivals, who when they thought proper intercalated a thirteenth month, which they called Veadar , or the second Adar , which way of reckoning is entirely unscriptural as well as very uncertain, depending upon the judgment, will, and pleasure, of the Sanhedrim ; though the Jews assert, that Moses received this form of intercalation from mount Sinai ; if, I say, he refers to this form of year, it is manifest that such an intercalated year consisted of more days than three hundred and eighty; for when, according to their reckoning, their months consisted equally of thirty and twenty-nine days, and supposing the additional month Veadar only consisted of twenty-nine days, yet then there must be three hundred and eighty-three days in the year, and according to their different reckonings of their full and deficient months, it had sometimes three hundred and’ eighty-five and three hundred and eight-six days, and the lowest number was three hundred and eighty-one. But to return from whence I have digressed: The form of year used in this prophecy of Daniel , appearing to be that which was commonly in use among the eastern nations, which consisted of three hundred and sixty days, and there being four hundred and eighty of those years cut out and determined for the cutting off the Messiah, we shall consider how this event had its full and exact completion. Let it therefore be observed, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem in the mouth Nisan , which answers to our April , in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes king of Persia , unto the month Ijar , which answers to our May , in the eighteenth year of Tiberius emperor of Rome , and of the vulgar æra of Christ 32, were just four hundred and eighty-three of those eastern years; here then ending Daniel ’s sixty-nine weeks or four hundred and eighty-three years, we must look out for the cutting off the Messiah, which must be accomplished before one day in another week was over, or one year more was elapsed, and accordingly the Messiah, Jesus, was cut off the Passover following, in the month Nisan , being the nineteenth year of Tiberius , and the thirty-third of the vulgar æra of Christ; and herein was verified this very great and illustrious prediction; but for fuller satisfaction, as to a particular calculation of those weeks or years, I refer the reader to Mr. Marshall ’s excellent Chronological Treatise upon the Seventy Weeks of Daniel , and his Chronological Tables therein inserted; wherein he has demonstrated the real truth of these things, in perfect agreement with the scriptures, with this prophecy, and all the parts of it, and with Ptolomy’s Canon , that golden rule of time. And now having proved the time of the Messiah’s cutting off, as fixed in this prophecy, to be literally, precisely and exactly fulfilled in the death of the Messiah, Jesus, I have no further immediate concern therewith; but however, not willing to overlook any part of so considerable a prophecy, I shall therefore, 3dly , Consider the remaining one week , and the events which were to be accomplished within that time. After the cutting off of the Messiah, the destruction of the Jewish nation, city, and temple, was quickly to ensue, which is expressed in general at the latter end of the twenty-sixth verse; for after the angel had observed to Daniel , that. the event of the Messiah’s death was to have its accomplishment at the end of the sixty-nine weeks, he adds, and the people of the prince that shall come , shall destroy the city , and the sanctuary , and the end thereof shall be with a flood , and unto the end of the war desolations are determined . The meaning of which is, that in a little time after the cutting off the Messiah, the Roman army, under the command of Vespasian , should enter into the land of Judea , make war there, destroy the city of Jerusalem , and that famous temple that stood there; nay, the destruction should be universal, like a mighty flood , or violent inundation, it should overspread the whole country, and carry all before it; for from the beginning of the war to the end thereof, utter ruin and destruction is determined by God upon that people and nation. There, are some learned men who, by the prince that shall come understand the Messiah , the prince , whose people the Romans should be, under whose direction, and by whose order, all these judgments should be inflicted upon the Jewish nation; but I choose rather to understand Titus Vespasian , who was to come in a little time after the death of the Messiah, and make all these very great devastations in the land of Judea ; and many Jewish writers so interpret it; and it ought to be observed that the word abh that shall come , is not in construction with m[ the people , but with rygn the prince ; and accordingly Aquila thus renders the word laov hgoumenou ercomenou , the people of the prince that is to come , or of the future prince ; and, in the same form the Septuagint read the words. But to proceed, to consider the period of time in which the desolation determined was to have its accomplishment, and that is within the remaining one week , and especially in the half part thereof; but of this period, and of the events to be fulfilled therein, we have a particular account in the, twenty-seventh verse of this prophecy, and he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease , and for the overspreading of abomination he shall make it desolate , even until the consummation , and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate , which is a prediction of these following events; First , that the Roman people , who was to destroy the city and sanctuary , would, for the more easy effecting the same, make peace with many nations for the space of one week or seven years , which is meant by confirming the covenant with many for one week ; in the beginning of which week, as it appears, they did actually make peace with the Parthians , Medes , and Armenians , whereby this event predicted had its full accomplishment. Secondly , it is said that the same people should in the midst of the week , yxjw in the half part thereof, cause the sacrifice and oblation , that is, the Jewish sacrifice to cease , which accordingly was literally fulfilled towards the close of the latter half part of this week, when the city of Jerusalem being closely besieged by Titus , what through the sharpness of the siege, the divisions of the people, and the want both of time and men to offer sacrifice, and beasts to offer up, the endelecismov or daily sacrifice , as Josephus says, entirely ceased, to the great grief of the people; nor have the Jews ever since the destruction of their city and temple offered sacrifice, esteeming it unlawful so to do in a strange land. Thirdly , in the same half part of the week, for the overspreading of abominations , they were to make the land desolate , &c. which words l[w pnk µyxwqç µmçm may be thus rendered, and upon the wing , or battlements of the temple, shall be the abominations of the desolator , or of him that maketh desolate , that is, either the ensigns of the Roman army, which had upon them the images of their gods and emperors, which they set up in the holy place and sacrificed unto, than which nothing could be a greater abomination to the Jews; or else the blood of the zealots, were slain upon those battlements is here meant, by which the holy place was polluted and defiled and thus this city and sanctuary were to continue in their ruin and desolation until the consummation of God’s vengeance determined by him should be fully poured upon the desolate people of the Jews, which has been and continues to this very day, it may be now proper to inquire, when this one week , or period of seven years, began, in which time these several events were to be accomplished: and this we easily learn from the ending of it, which must be in the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem , when the daily sacrifice ceased , and the abomination of desolation was set up, which was in the vulgar æra, Christ seventy; and consequently the beginning of these seven years must be in the sixty-third of the same æra, above thirty years after the expiration of the sixty nine weeks, where one would have thought these should have begun, had it not been for the express characters in the text, which pin them down to the times where we have placed them. The true reason why the judgments of God were not immediately inflicted upon the Jewish nation, for their rejection of the Messiah, but were deferred until this time, seems to be the display of God’s goodness, patience, and long-suffering to that people; as he gave to the old world space to repent before he brought the flood upon them, so he did to this nation; but all instances of his grace and goodness being slighted and despised, about the beginning of this one week , which was cut out and determined upon them, things began to work towards their final ruin and destruction, which at the close thereof were fully accomplished.
And now seeing the utmost extent of this prophecy is the destruction of. the city and temple of Jerusalem , as many Jewish writers themselves acknowledge, it may therefore be fairly concluded, that the Messiah must be come; for if the Messiah was to be cut off at the end of sixty-nine weeks, of those seventy determined upon Daniel ’s people and city, and the whole seventy weeks have many hundred years ago had their full accomplishment in the utter desolation of that people and city; then consequently the Messiah must be come, and be cut off also many hundred years ago. The Jews are sensible of the poignancy and strength of the argument formed from hence, and therefore have denounced a curse upon those who compute the times of the Messiah, in the following form, as recorded in their Talmud jpyt ˆmx[ lç ybçjm ˆyxyq “Let them burst,” or, as others render them, “ Let their bones rot who compute the times;” which is manifestly designed to deter the people from considering this prophecy of Daniel , wherein the time of the Messiah’s cutting off is precisely fixed, and to keep them in ignorance and unbelief as to the true Messiah, Jesus, who came and was cut off at the precise time fixed herein.
I shall conclude this chapter with only observing, that the prophecy in Hosea 3:4 is exactly verified in this people, for the children of Israel shall abide many clays without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an Ephod, and without Teraphim.
They are not now a body politic, having rule and dominion among themselves, they have no king nor prince of their own, the scepter is departed from them, neither is any sacrifice offered by them, for the daily sacrifice is ceased ; and though they were a people once very prone to idolatrous worship, there is not now an image among them. May the following words have the same exact completion, which there is reason to believe will in God’s own time! Afterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God , and David their king ; or as their own Targumist paraphrases it, “And shall hearken to the Messiah the son of David their king, and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.”
CHAPTER -Showing the Lineage and Descent of the MESSIAH. HAVING considered the time of the Messiah’s coming into the world, it may now be proper to inquire into his lineage and descent from what nation he was to arise, in what tribe and family thereof he was to be born, of which the prophecies of the Old Testament are not wanting to inform us. And, First , It appears that he was to be of the nation and stock of Israel ; no stranger might sit upon the throne of Israel , all their kings in common were to be of themselves, and much more the king Messiah, of whom it is prophesied in so many words ( Jeremiah 30:21): Their nobles wryra their noble one, shall be of themselves , and their governor shall proceed out of the midst of them ; which the Targum renders thus, their king shall be anointed from among themselves , and their Messiah shall be revealed from the midst of them ; and so it is applied in the Talmud . f124 “It is very well known, says Kimchi on the text, that the king Messiah shall be of Israel ;” and it is as well known that Jesus was of the same stock and herein, principally, lies the glory and preferableness of that nation to the Gentiles; that of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever ( Romans 9:5), to which Jesus refers, when he said to the woman of Samaria , Salvation is of the Jews ( John 4:22); and the author of The Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons , &c. himself thinks, that it “seems to signify only, that the Messias, or savior, or redeemer of Israel , should arise out of the Jerusalem Jews.” The first prophecy concerning the Messiah, left it entirely undetermined as to what particular people, or nation, he should spring from had he arose from any nation, or any family, among men, it would have, been sufficient to have verified that; but after the promise and oath were made to Abraham , it was necessary that he should be of his seed, as Jesus is, who is therefore called the son of Abraham ( Matthew 1:1), and is an Israelite indeed , in the fullest, and most extensive sense of that phrase; hence it appears, that no one of any other nation could be the Messiah, whatever pretensions he might make unto it; Herod therefore could not be the Messiah, because he was an Idumean ; this some have thought to he the principal tenet of those called Herodians , though they seem rather to he Herod ’s courtiers, or his menial servants; nor could it be Vespasian , he being a Roman ; though Josephus , more out of flattery, f127 perhaps than from his real judgment, bestowed that title on him.
Secondly , It is also as plain, that the Messiah was to be of the tribe of Judah hence he is called Shiloh , his , that is, Judah ’s son ; on this score that tribe had the preeminence of the rest ( 1 Chronicles 5:2), for Judah prevailed above his brethren , because of him the chief ruler , the Nagid , the prince Messiah, was to come; for which reason this tribe was preserved a distinct tribe until, and after, the times of Jesus, when the other tribes were not only carried captive, but scattered among the nations, and never more returned as such. Now it is evident , as the apostle says ( Hebrews 7:14), that our Lord sprang out of Judah ; hence one of his famous titles is,the lion of the tribe of Judah .
Thirdly , It is no less manifest from the prophecies of the Old Testament that the Messiah was to be of the house and family of David hence. 1st , The Messiah is called the root of .Jesse , and the rod which should come out of his stem, according to the prophecy in Isaiah 11:1, and there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots; which the Targumist paraphrases thus, “And a king shalt come forth from the sons of Jesse, and the Messiah shall be anointed from his childrens’ children;” and is acknowledged to be a prophecy relating to the Messiah, by many Jewish writers; as is also verses 10, where it is said, and in that day there shall be a root of Jesse , which shall stand for an ensign of the people , &c. This manifestly enough appears from the whole context, as might be easily argued and sufficiently proved, from the very great qualifications of this person (vv.2, 3), from his work and office, in judging the world; and that righteousness and integrity with which he will perform it (vv. 4, 5). from the peaceableness of his kingdom (vv. 6-9), and from the prodigious gathering of the Gentiles to him (vv. 10-12). The prophecy in verse 1 aptly enough expresses the very low, poor, and mean condition of Jesse ’s or David ’s family, at the time when the Messiah should spring from thence, which should be like to a tree cut down to its roots, and have nothing left but a stern or stump under ground, from whence should arise a noble branch; and well agrees with the state of that family, when Jesus came of it, which, though it had been very considerable and very flourishing, was now reduced very low; yet from thence, out of the very roots and stem of Jesse , God brought forth his servant the Branch . The Jews to this day pray for the Messiah under the name of the son of Jesse . This prophecy cannot be understood of Hezekiah , as a late author says, because Hezekiah was now born when this prophecy was given out; nay must be then ten or twelve years of age.
Secondly , On this account he is also called the son of David ; this is a title which the Jews frequently give to the Messiah, and was much used by them in the times of Jesus, who put this question to some of them, saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? ( Matthew 22:42), to which they very readily reply, without any manner of hesitation, The son of David , it being an opinion universally received among them, that the Messiah should be of David ’s line; nor was this known only to the wise and learned, but even among the vulgar people, the poor blind man that begged by the way side, saluted Jesus with this title, as believing him to be the Messiah; nay, the very children in the temple cried, Hosanna to him, as the son of David and manifest enough it is he was of that family, for his supposed father Joseph , and his real mother Mary , were both of that house.
The author of the Scheme of Literal Prophecy says, f134 “That it does not appear that the virgin Mary was of the line of David , but rather of some line in the tribe of Levi ; and that Jesus could not be of the line of David , as descended from her, seems plain, since St. Matthew makes him to be of the line of David only on account of Joseph , who was not his father, and at the rime of Jesus’ birth only betrothed to the virgin Mary ; (which should seem an extraordinary method of proceeding in St. Matthew , if Jesus had been of the line of David by Mary ) and since the Jews never reckon families by females.”
To which I reply, that Joseph , the husband of Mary , was of the line and family of David , is not disputed, and that Mar y, was of the same line and family may be easily collected from her being taxed and enrolled in the same city with him ( Luke 2:3-5).
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
Now, as Grotius upon the place observes, had not Mary been of the house and family of David , she ought to have been taxed or enrolled in the city of her own family, and not in this; besides, she is expressly said to be of the house of David ( Luke 1:27), where the angel Gabriel is directed to go to a virgin (espoused to a man whose name was Joseph) of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.
Those words, of the house of David , are to be connected with the virgin , and not with Joseph ; for the design of the words is not to give an account of Joseph , to whom the virgin was espoused, but of the virgin herself, who is here described by the place of her abode, Nazareth ; her relation to Joseph , being espoused to him; her lineage and descent, being of the house of David ; and by her name, which was Mary ; and this sense and reading of the words the grammatical construction of them will easily admit of, as several learned men have observed. What our author seems to have a regard to, as what would serve to support this his hypothesis, “That it does not appear that the virgin Mary was of the line of David , but rather of some line in the tribe of Levi ,” is, ( Luke 1:5,36), which he cites in his margin, in which place Elizabeth , who was of the tribe of Levi , is said to be cousin to the virgin Mary ; from whence, I suppose, he would conclude, that they were both of a family; to which I answer, that though Elizabeth ’s father was of the house of Aaron in the tribe of Levi ; yet, her mother might be of the house of David , in the tribe of Judah ; and so Mary and she be cousins; nor can our author well object to me, that it was either unlawful or unusual to marry out of their tribes and families, for, according to his own hypothesis, Joseph of the house of David , in the tribe of Judah , must marry Mary , of the house of Aaron , in the tribe of Levi .
Again, whereas the same author says, “That Jesus could not be of the line of David , as descended from her, (the virgin) seems plain, since St. Matthew makes him to be of the line of David , only on account of Joseph who was not his father, and at the time of Jesus’ birth only betrothed to the virgin Mary .”
I reply, that St. Matthew makes Jesus to be of the line of David , on the account of Joseph is certain; but how this makes it plain that he could not be of the line of David , as descended from the virgin, I cannot see; for if Joseph and Mary were both of one house and family, as I think has been already proved, then St. Matthew ’s making Jesus to be of the line of David on the account of Joseph , who was the reputed father of Jesus, and was betrothed to his real mother Mary , makes him also to be of the same line, as descended from her. I perceive that this author thinks it to be an extraordinary method of proceeding in St. Matthew , in tracing the genealogy of Jesus down to Joseph , and not to Mary , if Jesus had been of the line of David by her, which I think need not seem so, since, as he himself observes, the Jews never reckon families by females ; for it is a common maxim with them tjpçm al µa tjpçm Matris familia , non farnilia , and therefore the genealogy of Jesus is reckoned not by Mary , but by Joseph , to whom she was espoused; besides, Joseph was the reputed father of Jesus, the Jews knew no other, and had Joseph been of any other family than that of David , they would have rejected Jesus on that very score; therefore it need not be wondered that St. Matthew , in order to remove this stumbling block out of their way, gives us the genealogy of Jesus by Joseph ; and it deserves to be observed, that it is not so much the design of St. Matthew to give us the natural descent of Jesus as St. Luke does, but to show us the royal line of Jesus, and that being the legal heir of Joseph , as he certainly was, being born of his wife, and that not in adultery, whilst he himself was living, had an undoubted right to the crown and throne of David . For if a child begotten of a woman, after the death of her husband, by his next brother, was, according to the law, in Deuteronomy 25 to be accounted the son and rightful heir and successor of the deceased; much more might Jesus, who was born of the wife of Joseph whilst he was living, and that not begotten by another man, be accounted the son of Joseph , of the same house and family with him, nay appear to be his rightful heir and successor. So that from the whole, there appears to be a great deal of reason why St. Matthew took such a method, notwithstanding Jesus was of the line of David , as descended from the virgin Mary : nor should this seem to be an extraordinary method of proceeding in him, seeing it was so very agreeable to the laws, customs, and usages of the Jews. 3dly , For the very same reason the Messiah is called David in many places of scripture, as in Jeremiah 30:9, Ezekiel 34:23,24 and 37:24, 25, and Hosea 3:5, in all which the Jews themselves acknowledge the Messiah is intended; and good reason there is for it, for they can never be understood of David himself, these prophecies being given out a great many years after his death; neither can they agree with any so well as with the Messiah, who was to be of his posterity, and therefore bears his name; which is no unusual thing for children to do; besides, the context of these several prophecies, and the manifest scope of them, determine them to belong to him. Moreover, David was an eminent type of the Messiah, and that in many respects, as in the meanness of his descent, the comeliness of his person, his wisdom and prudence, his courage and valor, in his holiness, and the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, with which he was endued, as also in his kingly office, and in the battles which he fought, as well as in the conquests which he, obtained, and therefore the Messiah might well hear his name; and no wonder it is, that David should so often speak of the Messiah in his own person, and that many things which are spoken of David may very aptly be applied to him. Now of this man’s seed hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus ( Acts 13:23).
CHAPTER -Concerning the miraculous Conception and Birth of the MESSIAH. HAVING considered the lineage and descent of the Messiah, I shall proceed to inquire into the manner of his conception and birth, which were to be very extraordinary and unheard of; for it appears from several prophecies, that he was to be born of a virgin, which truth I shall endeavor to establish from the consideration of the following ones; and shall begin, First , With Isaiah 7:14; Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
This is the grand and principle prophecy which concerns this affair; for though it might be hinted before, yet it does not seem to be so clearly revealed till now. The Messiah, in his person and office, was gradually revealed unto the sons of men; what some ages had but a very faint and glimmering view, others enjoyed a more perfect knowledge of: the first prophecy may indeed be well thought to contain this truth, when it speaks of the Messiah as the seed of the woman ; but yet it does not so clearly express it as this, for Eve does not seem to be apprehensive of it, who, upon the birth of her first child, says ( Genesis 4:1), I have gotten a man hwhyAta the Lord ; which Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrases thus, “I have gotten a man, the angel of the Lord;” supposing that she had got the promised seed, the angel of God’s presence, and messenger of the covenant; now had she clearly known that he was to be born of a virgin, she could not have imagined that she had brought him forth and perhaps this may be the reason, why many of the good women of Israel , as Rachael , and Hannah , were so desirous of children, every one hoping that the Messiah would come of them, not being so well acquainted with the extraordinary manner of his birth; but this prophecy of Isaiah puts it beyond all doubt that he was to be born of a virgin; nor could the Jews ever after expect him to be born of any other, as will manifestly appear from the following considerations. 1st , The Hebrew word hml[ signifies a virgin, and no other, and is justly rendered by parqenov, by the evangelist Matthew , as it had been some hundreds of years before by the Septuagint interpreters, and appears to be the constant and universal sense of the word in all places of the Old Testament where it is used, which are these following, Genesis 23:43, Exodus 2:8, Psalm 68: 21, Canticles 1:3 and 6:8, and Proverbs 30:19 the latter of which the Jews have pitched upon, and chiefly insist on, as militating against this sense of the word hml[ used by Solomon for a maid , or virgin, where they say it cannot be meant of a pure and uncorrupted virgin; because, it is added, such is the way of an adulterous woman , she eateth , and wipeth her mouth , and saith , I have done no wickedness to which I answer, that it does not appear, that the maid and the adulterous woman , are one and the same person; but supposing they were, she might, though vitiated be called a maid, or virgin, according to her own profession of herself, or as she appeared to others who knew her not; or as she was antecedent to her defilement, which is no unusual thing in scripture (see Deuteronomy 22:28); though the genuine sense of the words seems to he this, that Solomon was not acquainted with, much less approved of the secret contrivances, artful ways, and hidden methods, which wicked men take to seduce and decoy innocent virgins, and compass their lust upon them; for had it been intended of the way of natural generation, he could not be ignorant of it; so that this instance makes nothing for them, nor anything against us; besides, the Hebrew word is derived from the root µl[ which signifies to hide , or cover , which well agrees with the pure and incorrupt state of virgins; as also with a common custom used in the eastern nations, where virgins were kept recluse, and shut up from the public company and conversation of men. 2dly , The birth of this son is represented as something stupendous and extraordinary, as a sign, twa , a prodigy, wonder, or miracle; and for that reason has a behold prefixed unto it: Was the meaning of the prophet only this that a young married woman should be with child, where would the wonder be? What surprising thing is this which every day gives us repeated instances of? And if this was all that is intended, what need of such a pompous apparatus as this to introduce it? Near ye now , O house of David—the Lord himself shall give you a sign , behold , &c, Some of the Jewish writers would have the sign, or wonder, be, that this young woman was unfit for conception at the time of this prophecy; but no such intimation is given either in the text or context; others, that it lies in this, that it was a male child, and not a female which is predicted; but the sign or wonder does not lie in the truth of the prophet’s prediction, but in the greatness of the thing predicted; besides, the verification of this would not have given the prophet much credit, nor Ahaz , or the house of David , much consolation for this might have ascribed rather to a happy conjecture, than to a spirit of prophecy; much less can the wonder be, that this child should eat butter and honey as soon as it was born, as others, when nothing is more natural to and common with young children, than to take down any kind of liquids which are sweet and pleasant. 3dly , The scope of the prophecy is to comfort the dejected house of David , who appear to be in the utmost confusion, at the tidings of the conspiracy formed against them by the kings of Syria and Israel ; upon which Isaiah is sent with a message to Ahaz , who, upon meeting with that prince, attended with his nobles, bids him ask a sign of the Lord his God , either in the height above or in the depth ; but he, in a haughty, irreverent, and irreligious manner, rejected it, under a specious pretence of not tempting God; upon which the prophet turns himself from him to the distressed house of David , and comforts them with the news of the Messiah’s birth, who was to spring from them, than which nothing could be more supporting to them under their present fears; for hereby he assures them that they should never be destroyed or cut off before the Messiah came; who was to be born of a pure virgin; and consequently they need not fear anything from this formidable confederacy. 4thly , This prophecy had its literal accomplishment in Jesus, whose conception and birth were after this extraordinary manner, which cannot be said of any other person ( Matthew 1:19,22,23); Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost—which was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, &c. which matter of fact, as it was not attempted to be disproved by the Jews in Christ’s time, who were most capable of discovering the fraud or imposture, if there had been any, so it cannot by the malice and cunning of later ones, who, though in contradiction to it, do now assert, that the Messiah was to be born as other men are, in the ordinary and common way of generation; yet it appears, that they were formerly of different sentiments, as is manifest from several of their traditional sayings, recorded both in their own writings and in the writings of the evangelists, which Bishop Chandler has collected and laid together in his excellent Defense of Christianity , and it deserves to he remarked what that learned prelate observes, that those who set up for Messiahs, as Simon Magus , and others, pretended to have God for their father, and to be born of a virgin; and no wonder they should, for how could they expect to he received, especially among the Jews, without such a pretence, when so glaring a prophecy as this respecting the manner of the Messiah’s birth, stood so openly in their sacred books? The Jews object several things to the application of this prophecy to Jesus, which are as follow: 1. They say, that the birth of this child was to be a sign to Ahaz , and to the house of David , of present deliverance, which say they, the birth of Jesus, seven or eight hundred years afterwards, could not be to which I answer, that this promise does not seem to be made to Ahaz ; he having despised the prophet, and rejected his offer, but to the disconsolate house of David ; who are hereby assured, that no conspiracy, now, or hereafter formed against them, should ever succeed to the extirpation or destruction of them, before Immanuel came, who was to be born of a virgin; and indeed, as Mr. Whiston well observes, f145 “The longer that birth was future, the longer was the house of David secure by this prophecy of deliverance from destruction: because that family was by no means to fail till the birth of Immanuel , of a pure virgin, was come to pass.”
Besides, what, is suggested, that a thing future cannot be a sign of what is present, or of what was done long before the sign existed, is not always true; for Moses ’ serving God on mount Horeb , after he had brought the people of Israel out of Egypt , is mentioned in Exodus 3:12 as a sign or a token of his present mission to that people, which was some considerable time before this sign existed; so likewise the sign of the deliverance of the city of Jerusalem from the army of Senacherib king of Assyria , was not fully to exist until the third year after it ( Isaiah 37:30), moreover, the word sign is not to be taken relatively , but absolutely for a wonder or miracle; and we find that signs and wonders are frequently joined together in scripture, as explanative of each other; and it is easy to observe, that the miracles of Jesus Christ are sometimes called signs . 2. They object that this deliverance was to be before this child came to years of discretion, and therefore cannot be understood of one that was to be born several hundreds of years after; to which it may be replied, there is no necessity of concluding, that the child , in verse 16 is the same with the son that was to be born of a virgin, in verse 14, but rather the prophet’s son Shearjashub , whom he is bid to take with him (v. 3), and who must therefore be supposed to bear some part, or answer some end or other in this prophecy, which it is very probable may be this, namely, to assure the house of David , that the land which was abhorred by them, should he forsaken of both her kings, before the child, which was with him, was grown to years of discretion; though it may as well be understood of any child, and so of the promised Messiah; and the meaning be, that before any child, or new born babe, such an one as is promised in verse 14 arrives to years of discretion, that is, in the space of three or four years, this remarkable deliverance shall be wrought, and ye shall be freed from all fears of being destroyed by those princes. 3. They further argue that this son prophesied of, was to be called Immanuel ; whereas Jesus was never called so; in answer to which it will be sufficient to say, that the meaning is, that be should be so, and not that this should be the name whereby he should be commonly called , which is a very frequent use of this phrase in scripture; as for instance, it is said of the child prophesied of in Isaiah 9:6 that his name should he called wonderful , counselor , the mighty God , the everlasting father , and prince of peace ; now let this child be who he will, Hezekiah , or the Messiah, or any other, it cannot be supposed that he should be usually called, and commonly known by all those several and pompous names, but only that there should be something in him, or done by him, which should answer to these characters given of him, which agrees with the instance under consideration; Jesus is the true Immanuel , God with us , God in our nature, who dwelt among us, and has, by his blood, procured peace and reconciliation with God for us. Besides, though Jesus and Immanuel differ in sound, yet not in sense, the one signifying a Savior , the other God with us , who when he is so, is a Savior to us; so that Jesus is to us, what be is here promised he should be. 4. What they further object, that it is no where said of Jesus that he eat butter and honey , as is said of this child (v. 15) is very weak and ridiculous; for though the evangelist does not relate this, it does not from thence follow that he did not eat thereof, it is rather highly reasonable to suppose he did; for the land of Canaan where he was born, was a land flowing with milk and honey ; so that theme was plenty of this kind of food for poor families, in one of which Jesus was born, and therefore no doubt lived upon the common food of the country; besides, the phrase seems designed to express the truth of his human nature, that he should be educated as other children were, and does very particularly point out the land where he was to he born. Now, for such reasons as these, they, as well as some others, would not have this prophecy understood of Jesus, but of Ahaz ’s wife, and his son Hezekiah , which cannot be; for Ahaz reigned but sixteen years ( 2 Kings 16:2), and Hezekiah his successor was twentyfive years old when he began his reign ( 2 Kings 18:2), so that he was nine years of age when Ahaz began to reign, and therefore could not be less than eleven or twelve years old when this prophecy was given; which some Jewish writers observing, have declined this sense of the words, and would have them be understood of some other son of Ahaz , by some young woman; but no other son of Ahaz , was ever lord of Judea , as this Immanuel is represented to be, in 2 Kings 8:8, nor can the words be understood of Isaiah ’s wife and son, since Isaiah would never call her a virgin who had born him children, one of which was now with him; nor indeed a young woman , but rather the prophetess , as he does in 2 Kings 8:3, nor was any son of his king of Judah , as this appears to be in the place before cited. Therefore as this prophecy is applicable to none but Jesus, so it had a literal accomplishment in him only. R. Akiba explained it the same way as we Christians do. But I proceed, Secondly , To the consideration of Jeremiah 31:22, as another prophecy respecting the extraordinary conception and birth of the Messiah; where it is thus written, how long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? For the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth: a woman shall compass a man.
That the incarnation of the Messiah is here intended, will appear, if we consider that all other senses, whether of Jewish or Christian interpreters, are weak, ridiculous, and impertinent; as when they understand the text to refer to the heroic spirit which appears in some women, superior to men; to the unusual practice of women suing to men to be joined in marriage to them, as in Isaiah 4:1, or to the people of Israel ’s turning to God after their apostasy from him, with others of the same stamp. Besides, the context manifestly shows, that this is a prophecy of the Messiah; from here are several blessings promised which only could be had from him, and which the Jews only expected in his days; (see vv. 10-14), and it deserves to be remarked, that the slaughter of the infants, at his birth, is prophesied of in verse 15, which I shall particularly consider hereafter: moreover, the scope of the text well suits with the incarnation of the Messiah, which is to excite the Jews to return to their own land, since nothing could more effectually do it, than to put them in mind that the Messiah was to he born there, whose incarnation was to be extraordinary: he was to be conceived by, and born of a virgin, which may therefore well be called a new thing , an unheard of one, and a creation ; for the human nature was immediately prepared and formed, by the power of the Holy Ghost, without the help of man. This phrase, a woman ’s compassing a man , does very aptly express her conception and bearing of a man child, and intends here such a conception as is extraordinary and miraculous, and therefore is called a new thing in the earth , produced by an almighty creative power. Besides, to whom can this rbg , this mighty man be so well referred as to the man , God’s fellow , the promised Messiah. Some of the Jews themselves have acknowledged, that the Messiah is here intended, and that by this woman is to be understood a virgin: the version of the Septuagint very manifestly hints at it, which renders the words thus, ote ektise kurio V swthrian ei V katafuteusin kainhn , because the Lord hath created salvation for a new plantation ; by which they seem to design no other than the promised Savior, the branch of the Lord ’s planting, which was to be beautiful and glorious , as well as to arise in a new, surprising, and unheard of manner.
Thirdly , This surprising mystery of the Messiah’s incarnation, is represented in Daniel 2:45; by a stone cut out of the mountain without hands . That the Messiah’s kingdom is intended in the former verse, the Jews acknowledge, and what is said of it well suits with the kingdom of Jesus, which is not of this world; but is a spiritual one; set up by God himself, and not supported and preserved by human policy or worldly force, and so is such a kingdom as this was to be, notwithstanding the insinuations of a late author to the contrary; for though it shall break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms , yet this shall not be effected by force of arms, or worldly policy, but by the prevalence of the gospel, in rooting out from among them, idolatry, superstition, and every thing else which is opposed to his kingdom; and by subjecting them entirely to him, whose kingdom shall stand for ever , which cannot be said of any other; nor should the small beginnings of it, or time progress it has yet made in the world, be any hindrance to our faith in the full and complete accomplishment hereof; seeing it is manifest enough, that the Messiah’s kingdom, in this sense, is set up, gains ground, and is daily advancing in the world. But to proceed to the consideration of these words, let it be observed, 1st , That it is no unusual thing in scripture for a king or kingdom to be signified by a stone : nor is it any thing uncommon for the Messiah to be represented under the same metaphor; as in Genesis 49:24, from thence is the shepherd , the stone of Israel , that is, the Messiah, who is both the shepherd of his flock, and the rock and fortress of his people, who, as man, descended from Jacob , and as the God-man from Jacob ’s God. R. Saadiah Gaon explains the text in Daniel , by this in Genesis . So <19B822> Psalm 118:22, the stone which the builders refused, is become the head stone of the corner, is to be understood of the Messiah, as it is applied, both by Jesus Christ and his apostles ( Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:10,11; 1 Peter 2:7); which is acknowledged by the Jews themselves; and is sufficiently evident from the context; (see also Isaiah 28:16), and the Targum on the place, which tried stone there spoken of Jarchi understands of the king Messiah, agreeable to 1 Peter 2:6. 2dly , It deserves to be remarked, that natural generation, especially when there is something unusual and remarkable in it, is sometimes expressed by a cutting, hewing, or digging out of a rock , as in Isaiah 51:1,2; hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that, seek the Lord, look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged; which metaphorical expressions are explained in the, following words, “Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you;” where the birth of Isaac , when his father was an hundred years old, and his mother ninety, which was something extraordinary, is manifestly referred to; to which might be, added, Deuteronomy 32:18 where a phrase is used which may deserve consideration under this head. 3dly , It ought to be observed, that this phrase without hands , is expressive of a work, not to be effected by the hands of man, but by the power of God, which is the constant use of the phrase in the New Testament, borrowed from hence (see 2 Corinthians 5:1; Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 8:2); now this, as it is applied to the Messiah, who is here represented under the metaphor of a stone , and whose incarnation is expressed by being cut out of a mountain , signifies, that it was sine opere virili , without the help of man, and was brought about in a divine, supernatural, and extraordinary manner, as was the birth of the Messiah, Jesus, who was born of a virgin, through the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, which is both an instance of almighty power on God’s part, and wonderful condescension on Christ’s, as well as gives a very great display of the divine wisdom, which has provided a Savior for us in our own nature, brought into the world in such a way, whereby he became entirely exempted from that pollution which has infected all human nature; so that hereby, that human nature, which was assumed by him, was very fit and proper to be united to a divine person, and he a very suitable Savior for us sinners ( Hebrews 7:26), for such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.
CHAPTER -Concerning the place of the MESSIAH’S Birth. THE place of the Messiah’s birth comes next to be inquired into, which, by prophecy, has been fully determined, and clearly pointed out to us in Micah 5:2.
But thou Bethlehem-Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be ruler in Israel: whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Now in order to set this prophecy in a clear light, and to make it appear that it concerns the place of the Messiah’s birth, for which it is cited in the New Testament. I shall endeavor, 1. To prove, that the Messiah and no other is here intended. 2. That the Jews expected the Messiah to he horn at Bethlehem , according to the true intent of this prophecy. 3. That Jesus was born there. 4. Answer the objections made against the application of this prophecy to Jesus, supposing the Messiah intended and, 5. Attempt to reconcile the seeming differences between the text as it here stands, and as it is cited by the evangelist Matthew .
First , I shall endeavour to prove, that the Messiah, and no other, is intended in this prophecy, Zerobabel cannot be meant, who is the only person produced, besides the Messiah, to whom the prophecy is thought to belong for he was not born at Bethlehem , but at Babel , as his name declares, nor was he any ruler in Israel , as is said of this person; he was indeed a governor of Judah , and an head of the captivity, but never was a ruler in the land of Israel , or over the tribes which bore that name, much less can it be said of him, that his goings forth have been from of old , from everlasting ; for to say, with Grotius that this phrase intends f154 “Zerobabel ’s taking his origin from an illustrious house of old, and a royal family of five hundred years standing,” is intolerable; for however Zerobabel may be considered as seminally in David ’s loins, as Levi was in Abraham ’s , so long before his birth; yet his goings forth from thence can never be said to be five hundred years before they were besides, it is a wretched perversion of a phrase, which is peculiar to the eternal God, and belongs to the Messiah, as being such, who appears to be the only person here intended is manifest, 1. From the context. In verse 1 the person intended is called the judge of Israel , whom Aben Ezra says, is either the Messiah, or Zerobabel ; but the character well agrees with the Messiah, to whom it is frequently given ( Isaiah 2:4; 11:3, 4), and by no means to Zerobabel , who never was a judge of Israel , as has been already observed; nor do we read that he was ever treated in that rude and barbarous manner, as it is here prophesied this person should be, namely, to be smitten with a rod upon the cheek , which was literally fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus ( Matthew 26:67), in whose face some spit ; and others buffeted, and others smote him with the palms of their hands, errapisan , smote him with rods, as the word primarily signifies. Moreover, the characters given of the person mentioned in this verse, agree well with the Messiah; as that he should be a ruler in Israel ; for the Messiah is all along in scripture represented as a king, a prince, or governor, and as such the Jews expected him; and of him, he being the eternal God, it may be very well said, that his goings forth have been from of old , from everlasting , a phrase used to express the eternity of God, ( Habakkuk 1:12), and being applied to the Messiah, is by Solomon Jarchi well explained by Psalm 72:17 wmç nwgy çmç ynKl before the sun was, his name was Jinnon , which the Jews say is one of the names of the Messiah, and signifies son ; and so the words are expressive of his eternal filiation, the phrase well agreeing with this here used. Likewise what is said in the following verses, exactly suits with him, as that until his birth, according to verse 3 the Jews were to be given up to a great deal of sorrow and trouble, which was true of the times between this prophecy and the birth of Jesus; after which, there was to be a coalition of Jews and Gentiles: In verse 4 he is represented as a shepherd feeding his flock, in the strength, and by the authority of his God; on the account of which his name should be great in all the earth, which can be applied to none so well as the Messiah: In verse 5 he is called the peace , that is, the author of peace, which he gives unto his people, whenever their enemies, such as sin, Satan, the world, &c. make any attack upon them; nor need it be thought strange, that these should he represented by the Assyrian who was the then known, common, and avowed enemy of the people of Israel ; nor ought this to be concluded to lie against its being a literal prophecy, that though the Assyrians are by name mentioned, yet not they, but other enemies, under their name, may be intended, as a late author would insinuate; for according to himself, in another place, f157 “A literal sense may be signified as well and as obviously by a figurative, as by the most simple or literal expression.”
The words may, and I think ought, to be rendered thus, and this man , or person, shall be the peace , O Assyrian , aby yk for he , that is the man, the peace , shall come into our land , that is, shall be made flesh and dwelt with us, and so make peace with God for us; and because he shall tread in our palaces in the temple, and in the synagogues and we will raise up , that is by our prayers and entreaties to God for him , or with him , l[ for µ[ seven shepherds and eight principal men , that is, a sufficient number of gospel ministers, who shall carry the gospel into the Gentile world, and with the sword of the spirit which is the word of God , do execution there, by pulling down the strong holds of sin and Satan, and subjecting souls to the obedience of Christ. 2. It appeal’s from the scope of the place, that the Messiah is here intended, which is to comfort and support the Jews under those severe afflictions that should befall them. In the three last verses of the preceding chapter, they are assured of deliverance out of the hands of the Chaldeans , over whom they should have the ascendant; yet, nevertheless in process of time, either for their evil treatment of their magistrates in common, or rather particularly of the Messiah, the Roman army, called the daughter of troops (v. 1), under the command of Titus Vespasian , should be gathered against them, and lay siege to their city, whereby it would be laid desolate; and the adjacent towns entirely depopulated, and among the rest of Bethlehem . Now for the comfort of the Jews, in the view of these calamities, and particularly the inhabitants of Bethlehem , it is promised, that the Messiah should arise from thence, before those desolating judgments came upon them. 3. It is acknowledged by many Jewish writers, that this prophecy belongs to the Messiah, and was certainly so understood by the Jews in Christ’s time, as I shall have occasion to take notice hereafter. For, Secondly , It is manifest enough that the Messiah was expected by the Jews, to be born at Bethlehem , as appears, 1st , From some passages in the New Testament, which show that this was the current opinion of the Jews, in Christ’s time. When Herod had the tidings of the king of the Jews being born, brought him by the wise men of the east, which gave him a great deal of trouble and uneasiness, he summoned the chief priests and scribes together, and demanded of them where Christ should be born ; to which they reply very readily, without any manner of hesitation, in Bethlehem of Judea ( Matthew 2:5,6); and for strengthening of their assertion, and for the satisfaction of him, cite this very prophecy of Micah , which manifestly shews, what was the then received sense of this prophecy in the Jewish church, as well as where they expected the birth of the Messiah: nay, this was not only the opinion of the more learned among the Jews, who were better versed than others in the knowledge of the law and the prophets, but even of the common people, who concluding from the education and conversation of Christ in Galilee , that he was born there, thought they had got a considerable argument to prove that he was not the Messiah; for say they (John 7;41, 42), Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?
Now from whence should they be informed of this? or what scripture could they have in view, but this prophecy of Micah ? 2dly , This appears to be the sense of their ancient Targums ; thus upon the text in Genesis 35:21, where it is said that Israel journeyed and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar ; which, by comparing with verse 19, appears to be a place near Bethlehem ; the Targum of Jonathan adds, “the place from whence the Messiah shall be revealed in the last days,” and mention being made in Micah 4:8 of this Migdal Edar , or tower of Edar , the Targumist takes occasion to speak of the Messiah and applies it to him. Nay, 3dly , Later Jews have asserted, that the Messiah was born at Bethlehem , before the destruction of that place, but not yet revealed, being hid, because of their sins and transgressions; which, though a Talmudic story, is a plain indication of the conviction of their minds, as to the intent of this prophecy, and of the universal and constant expectation of their forefathers grounded upon it. There are indeed some objections advanced by the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy , &c. against this general expectation of the Jews, concerning the place of the Messiah’s birth. 1. He objects, “That, since Jesus’ time, it has been deemed among the Jews a matter of no consequence, where the Messias was born, since they have set up many Messiahs, who they knew were not born at Bethlehem ,” which need not at all be wondered at in them, who have rejected the true Messiah, since whose times this town of Bethlehem has been wholly destroyed; and therefore despairing of meeting with this character of a Messiah, in any person, have hid it aside, as they have done many others; such as his being born before the departure of the scepter from Judah , and during the second temple, and that he should be of the tribe of Judah , &c. though, when pressed with those instances, are obliged to recur to the aforementioned Talmudic fiction, of his being there and then born but hid for the sins of the people, which is a manifest indication of the wretched puzzle and confusion they are thrown into. 2. He objects, that “the Jews, in Jesus’ time, made it a part of the character of the Messias not to know whence he was ” ( John 9:29), to which may be replied, that the meaning is, not that they knew not the place of his birth, for the contrary is evident from the ready reply of the chief priests to Herod , and the way of reasoning the common people made use of from the prophecy of Micah , to confront the Messiahship of Jesus, as has been already observed: And, by the way, what service this instance of the Jews arguing against Jesus, that Bethlehem , and not Galilee , was to be the place of the Messiah’s birth, can be of to our author, I cannot see, which is in another place produced by him, seeing it directly militates against his notion. But to proceed; neither can the meaning of this phrase be that they did not know who were his remote ancestors, for they knew that he should be the son of David ; but the meaning is, that they should not know who was his father, seeing he was to be born of a virgin, and his descent and original to be from above. Besides, this author ought to have confuted the sense given of this phrase in John 7:26,27 by Bishop Chandler , who has very well supported it, before he had made this an objection against the place of the Messiah’s birth being pointed out by prophecy, and its being made known unto, and expected by the ancient Jews. 3. He objects, that there are some “Jews who deny the truth of Herod ’s sending for to know of the chief priest where the Messiah was to be born; and say, that Jesus was not born in Herod ’s time, but in Cyrenius’ time, eleven years after the death of Herod ;” who these Jews are he does not say, unless he means the evangelist Luke , whom he cites, whose words are in Luke 2:1 and 2.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should he taxed (and this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
Now this author supposes, that this tax, or enrolment, is to he understood of that which was made by Cyrenius when Governor of Syria , when Judea was annexed to it as a province, which was ten or eleven years after the death of Herod , and from thence would conclude, that Jesus was not born in the days of Herod , but about eleven years after his death which will appear to be a mistake, for this tax here mentioned, was not made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria , but rather when Sentius Saturnius was, as Tertullian says, and is here very manifestly distinguished from that made when Cyrenius was president; for the words may be read either thus, and this tax , or enrolment, was made before Cyrenius was governor of Syria , prwth being used for protera, of which many instances are given by learned men, who also approve of this reading of the words and this solution of the difficulty, or else the words ( Auth h apografh prwth egeneto hgemoneuonto V th V Suria V Kurhniou) may be read thus, this was the first tax , assessment, or enrolment, of Cyrenius the governor of Syria . Many instances of a parallel construction with this have been given by a late writer; so that the meaning is, that this tax which was made at the birth of Jesus, was the first that Cyrenius was concerned in, and is manifestly distinguished from that which was made during his being governor of Syria , when Archelaus was banished from Judea , ten or eleven years after Herod ’s death which Josephus gives an account of, and Luke refers to in Acts 5:37. Moreover the words do not suppose that Cyrenius was governor of Syria when this first tax was made, for he then acted only as Cæsar ’s procurator , but that he had been so before Luke wrote this history; and this being a title of honor, and what might perhaps distinguish him from others of the same name, he gives it to him.
Thirdly , Having proved that the Messiah was to he born at Bethlehem , and that this was the expectation of the ancient Jews, proceed to prove, that Jesus was born there; though it was very improbable it should ever have been so; for his mother dwelt at Nazareth , where he was conceived, and where it was most likely he would have been born; but an all-wise providence, in order to bring about the completion of an ancient prophecy, and to fix upon him one of the true characters of the Messiah, orders it otherwise, putting it into the heart of Augustus Cæsar , the Roman Emperor, to make a taxation, or enrolment of the subjects and tributaries of his empire, which obliged Joseph and Mary to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem , in order to be taxed with those of their own lineage and family, where Mary was delivered of the child of Jesus; whither, in all probability, she had not come, being so near the time of her delivery, had she not been obliged to it by this decree; which decree appears the more remarkable, because there does not seem to be any real necessity for it; nor is it certain that it went through the empire, but seems designed to bring about this event: and it will appear still more remarkable, when it is observed, that Augustus had decreed such an enrolment at Tarracon in Spain , twentyseven years before the birth of Christ, but was diverted from it by some disturbances in the empire; so that it was deferred to this time; now had this enrolment been made then, in all likelihood it had not been done now, and Joseph and Mary would not have had occasion to come to Bethlehem ; but thus it must be , and thus were things ordered by an infinite and all-wise providence to effect it; nor do the Jews themselves deny that Jesus was born there; nay, acknowledge it, in a vile and blasphemous book of theirs, designed to cast all the odium and reproach upon the name of Jesus, that they could possibly heap together. But, Fourthly , There are some objections made against this prophecy of Micah ’s being applied to Jesus, though the Messiah be allowed to be here intended. Which are as follow: 1. It is objected, that Jesus did not rule over Israel but they over him, seeing they so far prevailed against him, as to put him to death; and therefore cannot be the person intended, because he was to be a ruler in Israel . To which may be replied, it is true, that, by the divine permission, the Jews compassed their design in taking away his life yet God has exalted him, with his own right hand, to be a Prince and a Savior and whom they crucified he has made both Lord and Christ; whose kingly power has appeared in the destruction of that nation and people, whom he has ruled ever since with a rod of iron ; and now rules over the true Israel of God, by his word and Spirit; having carried the gospel into the Gentile world, where it has been propagated and maintained, notwithstanding all the art, policy, and power of man. 2. It is further urged, that this person in verse 5 is said to be the peace , that is, the author of peace; and that the times of the Messiah are always represented as peaceable times, which, it is asserted, is inapplicable to the times of Jesus. But it ought to be observed, that the peace which the Messiah was to effect, and was expected in his days, is a spiritual, and not a temporal peace; and such a peace as this was proclaimed by the angels at the birth of Jesus, procured by his blood, and is bestowed on his people, who, in the mid of all their sorrows, afflictions, and persecutions, enjoy a peace which passeth all understanding . Though, 3. On the other hand, it is objected, by the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy , &c. that the fifth and sixth verses of this prophecy, which represent this person as appearing in an hostile manner against the enemies of Israel , “are so plain, as not to need the least comment, to show them to be inapplicable to the peaceable times, and to the person of Jesus,” though they, in a very beautiful manner, represent him as the prince of peace, obtaining a glorious victory over all his and his people’s enemies, thereby saving them out of their hands, and of his mighty conquests, through the preaching of the gospel in the Gentile world; whereby his people were delivered from their ignorance, infidelity, idolatry , and superstition, as well as from the wretched slavery of their lusts and corruptions. But, Fifthly , I proceed to reconcile some seeming differences between this prophecy, as it stands in Micah , and as it is cited by the evangelist Matthew ( Matthew 2:6), the most material of which are as follow: 1. The first seeming difference, is in the name of the place; for what Micah calls Bethlehem-Ephratah , is called by Matthew , Bethlehem in the land of Judah . The reason whereof seems to he this, there were two Bethlehems , one in the tribe of Zabulon ( Joshua 19:13), and the other in the tribe of Judah , which is sometimes called Betldehem-Judah ( Judges 17:7), and sometimes Bethlehem-Ephratah ; for that Bethlehem-Ephratah was in the tribe of Judah is manifest enough from the Septuagint version of Job 15:60 (?), as well as from Ruth 1:2. Now in order to give a plain answer to Herod ’s demand, where the Messiah was to be born, it was proper to distinguish this Bethlehem in the tribe of Judah , from that in the tribe of Zabulon ; so that he might not be at a hiss about the place of his birth; and this distinction was the more needful, seeing the Messiah was to spring from the tribe of Judah . But, 2. And what is attended with a greater difficulty, is another seeming difference, as to what is predicated concerning this place the text in the prophet says, that it was little among the thousands of Judah ; but, as cited by Matthew , it is said to be not the least , though this difference does not appear so very considerable, as it is represented by some expositors; for though this place was little among the thousands of Judah , yet it might not be the least ; it is true, the difference between the Septuagint version of the text, and the citation in Matthew , is considerably greater, for according to the former, this place was oligisov , the least , the very least; but according to the latter oudamwv elacisth , by no means the least . But we are not now immediately concerned for the reconciliation of the citation to the Septuagint version, but to the Hebrew text, which may be either rendered by way of interrogation thus, art thou the least ? &c. and the answer be according to Matthew , No, thou art not the least , &c. or else the word rbd may he understood, and so be rendered thus, it is a small thing to be among the thousands of Judah , for out of thee , &c. that is, a greater honor shall be conferred on thee; the Messiah shall spring from thee.
Again, Bethlehem might be little , and not little , or the least , in different respects, and at different times; it might be little, mean, and contemptible, as to worldly splendor, riches, number of inhabitants, pompous buildings, &c. and yet not be little or mean when considered as the place of the birth of many great persons, such as Boaz , Jesse , David , &c. and especially the king Messiah; it might be little in Micah ’s time, and yet not little in Matthew ’s time; especially seeing it had then received a considerable additional honor by Christ’s being born there.
Besides, Dr. Pocock has proved, that the Hebrew word ry[x signifies both little and great , or of great note and esteem, which he has confirmed from the authorities of R. Tanchuma , Eben Jannahius , the Chaldee paraphrast on Jeremiah 48:4. and from the Arabic , Syriac , and Septuagint versions of Zechariah 13:7, and it is very easy for anyone, who is ever so little acquainted with the Hebrew language, to observe that many words are used therein in a contrary signification. I need not give instances, the learned author now mentioned has furnished us with many. 3. There are some other lesser differences which admit of a more easy reconciliation; as what Micah calls thousands , in Matthew, are called princes . The tribes of Israel were divided into thousands, and every thousand had its prince or ruler; so that though here is a difference in words, yet none in sense; it is true what Micah calls a ruler in Israel , Matthew expresses by a governor that shall rule or feed my people Israel , but here is no repugnancy and whereas the pronoun yl to me is omitted by Matthew , the reason is, because the words are only historically recited by him, God himself speaking in his own person in the prophecy. Thus have I endeavoured to reconcile the seeming differences between Micah and Matthew ; though had they been such as would not have admitted of a reconciliation, the evangelist could not have been justly charged with a perversion, or misquotation, of the prophet’s words, seeing it is not his own version, but that of the chief priests and scribes, which he gives us, and therefore had it been never so faulty, they, and not he, must have been chargeable with it; for he would have acted the part of a faithful historian, in transmitting it to us in their own words. From the whole, it appears, that Micah 5:2 is a literal prophecy of the place of the Messiah’s birth; that it was pertinently and faithfully produced for that purpose in Matthew 2:6 and that Jesus was born at Bethlehem , according to the true purport of this prophecy though we do not produce this singly, as an argument to prove him to be the true Messiah, for we know as well as the Jew, who objects to us, that there were hundreds and thousands born at Bethlehem , who could not be all Messiahs nor did they make any pretensions to it; yet this being a characteristic of the Messiah, as fixed in the Old Testament, and fully agreeing with Jesus, may, with other evidences, be urged as a corroborating one of his being the true Messiah.
CHAPTER -Shewing the several Circumstances which were to attend or fallow upon the MESSIAH’S Birth, according to the prophets; and how the; were punctually fulfilled in JESUS.
From inquiring into the place of the Messiah’s birth, I proceed to consider the several circumstances which were to attend it, or very quickly follow upon it, according to the prophecies of the Old Testament, and show how exactly they had their completion in Jesus; the principal of which are cited and laid together by the evangelist Matthew , in the second chapter of his gospel; I shall begin, First , With that uncommon and unusual appearance of a star in the east, at the birth of Jesus, the account of which we have in Matthew 2:2,9,10, and though no prophecy is there referred to, as fulfilled by this phenomenon; yet I shall attempt to prove, that there was a prophecy went before of it; that this was agreeable to it, and that accordingly the Jews expected such an appearance at the time of the Messiah’s birth. The prophecy which, I suppose, points out this circumstance to us, is in Numbers 24:17.
There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab and destroy all the children of Sheth.
That this is a prophecy of the Messiah, is acknowledged by many Jewish writers: both the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan interpret it of him and Aben Ezra says, that is, of their Rabbis, expound it of the Messiah; nor have other writers any just reason to understand it otherwise. That Balaam spoke this by a prophetic spirit, is manifest from verse 16, that he speaks of a person, whom he should see at a distance in future times is no less evident, from the former part, of this verse, which seems to be no other than he whom every eye shall see , when he comes in the clouds of heaven : and that this person is the Messiah, may very easily be evinced, not only from the title which is here given him, a scepter , that is scepter-bearer, whose throne is for ever and ever ; the scepter of whose kingdom is a right scepter ; as also from whence he was to arise, which was out of Israel ; but likewise from the work he was to do, which is to smite the corners of Moab , and destroy all the children of Sheth ; which never had its completion in any one else of the posterity of Jacob : hence a learned Jew was obliged to confess; that Balaam spake this concerning the Messiah, “whose coming says he, we are waiting for, that this prophecy might be fulfilled:” which has been fulfilled in and by Jesus, who has spoiled principalities and powers, and has obtained an entire conquest over all his enemies, signified here by the corners of Moab , and now rules over all the children of men , as Onkelos renders the last clause of the verse; his dominion being from sea to sea , and from the river unto the ends of the earth : though by the children of Sheth , are rather meant the people of God, the Sethites , as distinguished from the Cainites , who are not so, whom the Messiah, in a peculiar manner, was to rule over and not destroy ; or rather whom he was to gather together to himself; for the word signifies to cluck together , as a hen does her chickens, which simile Christ makes use of Matthew 23:37.
Having thus proved that the Messiah is prophesied of in this text, it may be proper to inquire whether the star here mentioned, is to he considered as one of the Messiah’s titles, or as one of the signs of his coming. It must be acknowledged, that some of the ancient Jews looked upon this as one of the Messiah’s titles; hence one, who set up for a Messiah among them, and was for a time received by them as such, was called abkwk rb the son of a star , with a view to this prophecy; though when he was discovered by them to be an impostor they called him abyzwk rb the son of a lie ; and perhaps it may be with a regard to this prophecy, that Jesus is called the bright and morning star , though I am rather inclined to think, that the star, here spoken of is to be considered as a sign of his coming, and not as one of his titles; that as there will be a visible sign in the heavens of the second coming of the son of man, so there was to be one of his first coming; and that the words should be rendered thus, when a star walks drd or steers its course from Jacob , then a scepter , or scepter-bearer, shall rise out of Israel ; and there are two things which confirm me in this sense of the words. 1. The conclusion of the wise men, that the king of the Jews was born, from an appearance of a star in the east; and their coming to Jerusalem to worship him upon that account; for what could direct them to make such an observation, or draw such a conclusion, but this prediction of Balaam ’s which had been some way or other conveyed to them, or rather had remained among them, ever since the times of Balaam , who was one of their countrymen. Abulpharagius, an Arabic writer, tells us, that Zoroastres , who lived four or five hundred years before Christ, foretold to his magicians the coming of Christ; and that at the time of his birth, there should appear a wonderful star, which would shine by day as well as by night; and therefore left it in command with them, that when that star appeared they should follow the directions of it, and go to the place where he was to be born, and there offer gifts and pay their adoration to him: And that it was by this command, that the three wise men came from the east, that is, out of Persia , to worship Christ at Bethlehem . Now supposing all this to be true, it is very easy to guess where Zoroastres had his information; for, by the accounts given of him, he appears to be a Jew, both by birth and religion ,was a servant of one of the prophets of Israel , and well versed in the sacred writings; and therefore may well be supposed to have learned all this from the prophecy of Balaam , which he informed his magicians of. 2. The Jews themselves have expected such a star to appear at the time of the Messiah’s coming; for thus they say, more than once, in the book of Zohar , that “when the Messiah shall be revealed, a bright and shining star shall arise in the east.”
Now what could lead them to such an expectation, but this prophecy of Balaam , which is cited by them in the very same place? for surely the account which our gospel gives of the appearance of a star at the birth of Jesus, could never be the foundation of such a thought; they would never pay such a deference to the evangelic history, and to our Jesus, as to form a notion, or ground an expectation of their Messiah, agreeable thereunto; but would rather, as in other cases, either stifle their former generally received notions of a Messiah, or deny plain matters of fact relating to Jesus so that this expectation of theirs, that a star should appear at the coming of the Messiah, must be founded on this prophecy, which had its fulfillment in Jesus. But I proceed, Secondly , To consider another circumstance that was to follow upon the birth of the Messiah, which, very agreeable to ancient prophecy, had its completion in Jesus, and was brought about after this manner: Herod having given in charge to the wise men, who were directed into the land of Judea , by the star before mentioned, that when they had found the young child they inquired after, and paid him their adoration, they should return and give him an account thereof; but they being warned of God in a dream not to do as he had commanded them, returned another way; and immediately an angel is dispatched to Joseph , to order him to take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt , who accordingly did so.
Now all this was done, says the evangelist ( Matthew 2:15), that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son.
Now the question is, what prophecy is here referred to, and whether what is referred to, is a prophecy of the Messiah, and may be justly applied to Jesus. There are some who have thought that the prophecy referred to, is either Numbers 23:22 or else chapter 24:8, though the more generally received opinion is, that it is Hosea 11:1, When Israel was a child then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt; which words, at first view , seem solely to regard the deliverance of the people of Israel out of Egypt ; wherefore different ways have been taken to make a just and proper application of them to the Messiah, and are by some considered either by way of accommodation of phrases to a like event, or by way of type, which has a fresh completion in its antitype, or as a proverbial sentence which might be adapted to any remarkable deliverance out of hardship, misery, and destruction. Now though it may be granted, that Israel was a type of the Messiah, and is therefore one of the names by which he is called in the Old Testament, particularly in, Isaiah 49:3, and that there is a very great resemblance between Israel ’s going down into, and coming out of Egypt , and that of Christ’s, as also, that the deliverance of the people of Israel out of Egypt might he used proverbially to express any remarkable deliverance from imminent danger, yet I apprehend that the words are to be understood of the Messiah in their first, literal, proper, and obvious sense, and of him only; and so the evangelist Matthew must be supposed to understand them, whose manifest design is to produce direct proofs of Jesus’ Messiahship, out of the Old Testament, which mere allusions, types, allegories, and accommodations of phrases cannot be allowed to be. Now, in order to fix the literal sense of these words, as applicable to the Messiah, let it be observed, that the scope and design of the preceding chapters is to set before the people of Israel their many provoking sins and transgressions, in order to bring them to an acknowledgment of, and repentance for them; and to declare, that upon their non-repentance, divine judgments would be executed upon them, to the utter ruin of their kingdom and nation, which account is continued to the end of the tenth chapter: but God being rich in mercy , in wrath remembers mercy , and for the sake of his own people, which were among them, mitigates this sentence, and in the eleventh chapter declares the yearnings of his heart towards them, and his very great affection for them, not withstanding all their ingratitude to him; the true causes of which kindness of his, are laid together in this first verse, which may stand connected with the latter part of the last verse of the preceding chapter; in a morning shall the king of Israel be utterly cut off , the true reason of which is because Israel r[n yk is a child , that is, a rebellious and disobedient one, therefore he shall be many days without a king and without a prince ; nevertheless I love him ; and have therefore determined to call my son out of Egypt , who will be obliged to retire there for some time, and will set him upon the throne of his father David , who shall reign and prosper and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth or else the words may he considered, as giving the reason of God’s merciful dealing with the people of Israel , notwithstanding all their rebellions against him, and the many provocations he had received from them, because Israel is a child , that is, weak, helpless, and cannot govern himself; foolish, ignorant, imprudent, and needs instruction; and I love him , therefore I have determined to call , or I will call , the past tense for the future, which is common in the Hebrew language, especially in the prophetic writings, my son out of Egypt , who, through Herod ’s rage and malice, will be obliged to abide there for a while, yet I will bring him from thence into the land of .Judea , where he shall be brought up, and shall help my child paidoV, Israel , shall instruct him in the precepts of the law, and in the doctrines of the gospel, and at last, by suffering death, shall procure the pardon of all his transgressions; for notwithstanding all his ingratitude towards me, of which a particular account is given in verses 2-7, yet I cannot but have a regard for him, and show compassion to him, and therefore he says in verse 8, How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.
Now this appears to be the natural and unconstrained sense of these words, which sufficiently justifies the evangelist Matthew in his citation of them, on the occasion of Jesus’ going into Egypt and his return from thence; they being a literal prophecy of the Messiah, which had its exact fulfillment in Jesus. But, Thirdly , The next circumstance we meet with, which followed upon the birth of Jesus, agreeable to ancient prophecy, is the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem , the commission of which barbarous action, the Jews themselves acknowledge; and was on this wise: Herod finding himself disappointed by the wise men, fell into a very great rage, and immediately orders all the infants in Bethlehem , and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, to be slain; which orders were accordingly obeyed, and then , says the evangelist ( Matthew 2:17,18), was fulfilled, that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
The prophecy referred to, is in Jeremiah 31:15, which, upon examination, will appear to be a literal prophecy relating to this fact, and this only; for that it cannot be understood of the Babylonish captivity, and of the mourning of the Jewish women upon that account, is evident, if it be considered, 1. That in such a general calamity the mourning is general, as undoubtedly that was, and not confined to mothers only, as this is. 2. That there is no reason to believe that the mourning for the captivity was confined to a particular place, much less that Ramah should be that place, since there is no manner of evidence that the captives were gathered together there, and there deplored their miserable condition. Besides, 3. The cause of this mourning is not captivity , but death; Rachel is introduced weeping for her children, not because they were carried captive , but because they are not ; which is a phrase by which death is frequently expressed, as in Genesis 37:30 and chapter 42:3, but every thing well agrees with the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem , and there are several things in the context, as well as in the text, which serve to confirm this sense. 1st . The preceding verses manifestly speak of the blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom, and of the joy and comfort which his people should partake of; but lest any should imagine that that dispensation should be entirely free from the usual sorrows, distresses, and afflictions of life, it is declared, that the people of God would at some times, not only be attended with distress in their own consciences for sin, and the chastisements of God upon their persons for the same, as in verses 18, 19, but also with bitter persecutions from the world, and that, even almost as soon as the Messiah was born, Satan would begin to exert his rage, and the most tragical and barbarous action be committed, that ever was heard of, which is expressed in the prophecy under consideration. 2dly , The tender and sorrowful mothers mourning over their slaughtered infants, in and about Bethlehem , may very well be represented by Rachel ; not only because Bethlehem was the place of her sepulchre ( Genesis 35:19,20), but because of her eager desire and overmuch fondness of having children ( Genesis 30:1), and therefore a very fit person to represent tender and affectionate mothers bewailing the death of their children; and though Bethlehem was in the tribe of Judah , where Leah ’s , and not Rachel ’s children lived, yet Ramah was in the tribe of Benjamin , who was Rachel ’s child; which two tribes of Judah and Benjamin , bordering on each other, the prophecy well agrees with the evangelist’s account of this matter; for though Bethlehem of Judah was the principal seat of this tragical action, yet it was not confined there, but was extended to all the coasts thereof; so that the voice of lamentation was heard in Ramah of Benjamin : Thus the objection of the Jews against the citation of this prophecy in Matthew , and its application to Jesus, is removed. 3dly , The comfort administered from the consideration of a better resurrection, is suitably adapted to the case of those sorrowful mothers (vv. 16, 17), Thus saith the Lord, Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall he rewarded, saith the Lord, and they, that is, the children which were slain, shall come again , in the resurrection, from the land of the enemy , the grave, for the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death ; so that there is hope in thine end , saith the Lord , that thy children shall come again to their own border , and stand in the latter day upon that very spot of ground where their blood was shed. 4thly , The miraculous conception and birth of the Messiah, are predicted in verse 22 as has been made appear in a preceding chapter. 5thly , An account is given of the new covenant in verses 31-34, which peculiarly belongs to the times of the Messiah, as is acknowledged by the Jews themselves; so that from the whole it appears, that Jeremiah 31:16 is a literal prophecy of the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem , justly cited by the evangelist Matthew , and properly applied to that case, which happened quickly after the birth of Jesus.
Fourthly , The next circumstance to he considered, is Jesus’ dwelling in a city called Nazareth , whereby the evangelist says ( Matthew 2:23), was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
Here the enemies of Christianity mightily triumph, and charge the evangelists with manifest falsehood, in citing a passage out of the prophets which is not to be found in them and it must be acknowledged, that there are some seemingly considerable difficulties attend this place, and perhaps greater than any passage which occurs in the whole controversy about prophecy. Bishop Kidder has observed several things which considerably abate the difficulties thereof; as that the evangelist does not quote any particular prophet for these words, but says, that it might he fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets ; so that he seems to regard rather the sense of many, than the words of any particular prophet. Again, that the expression, he shall be called a Nazarene , imports no more than this, he shall be one , which is the frequent use of the Hebrew word arq to call ; so that if it can be proved, that it was the sense of the prophets, that the Messiah should be a Nazarene , the evangelist will be sufficiently justified in this passage; besides, as the same learned prelate well observes, the evangelist only says, that it was spoken by the prophets, he does not say that it was written by them; so that we lie under no obligation, from hence, to find out a passage in their writings where those words expressly occur, for the writers of the New Testament assert many things as matter of fact, which they received by tradition, and which cannot reasonably be denied; as that Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses ( 2 Timothy 3:8), that Moses said, he exceedingly feared and quaked ( Hebrews 12:21), at the giving of the law on mount Sinai , &c. And I would add, that these words, he shall be called a Nazarene , seem rather to be the words of the evangelist, than any citation out of the prophets; or allusion to any words of theirs; what Matthew says, is, that he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth , that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets ; he does not tell us in express words, what that was which was spoken by the prophets, though he very plainly hints it to us, which is that he should be despised, condemned, and reproached by men, which was not only foretold by one, but by many of the prophets; and then assigns a reason to prove, that what was spoken by the prophets, was fulfilled in his dwelling at Nazareth , oti Nazwraio V klhqnsetai , because he is, and will be called a Nazarene , from his dwelling there, which name was given to him and his followers by way of reproach: and as to the two instances produced by Mr. Whiston , of Christ’s being called by Pilate and Philip , Jesus of Nazareth in a contrary sense; he would do well to observe, that the former used this title with a design to reproach, and the latter to show that he was not ashamed to own him under one of his most contemptible characters; and it may not be amiss to observe, that the word legontwn , saying , is not here used by the evangelist; he does not say, which was spoken by the prophets , sayings as he does in verses 15 and 17, where he cites plain and direct prophecies; though, supposing that the evangelist regards some passages of the prophets, the sense of which is, that the Messiah should be called , or be , a Nazarene , it will not be a very difficult task to undertake to find them out; for not to insist upon Isaiah 11:1, where the Messiah is called Netzer , as the Targum on the place explains it, which is the very name of the city of Nazareth , as David de Pomis observes, and signifies a branch , by which name the Messiah is well known in the Old Testament, as the Jews themselves acknowledge; I say, not to insist upon this passage, which some think the evangelist had in his thoughts, in Jeremiah 31:6, it is said, there shall be a day that the watchmen µyrxn the Nazarenes, upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion, unto the Lord our God; by which name of Nazarenes , it is well known the followers of Jesus were called, as appears from Acts 24:5, and this being a prophecy of the means of the Jews restoration well suits with them. R. Abarbinel says, f188 that the prophet, by the Holy Ghost, foresaw that the Romans would believe in Jesus of Nazareth , and therefore would be called Nazarenes from him: now, if the prophets foretold that the followers of the Messiah would be called Nazarenes , then he himself must be called so, from whom they take the denomination, and, by some way or other, this must be brought about, which was by his dwelling in the city of Nazareth . Besides, in Isaiah 9:1,2, which, by comparing with verse 6, appears to be a prophecy of the Messiah, there is mention, not only made of Galilee of the nations , as the place of the Messiah’s habitation, where that fwv that great light , was to appear, but also of the land of Zebulun , in the midst of which was the city of Nazareth ; but this text I shall more fully consider hereafter in its dueplace; from the whole it appears, that it may be collected from the prophets, as their sense, that the Messiah was to be a Nazarene , which had its exact completion in Jesus.
CHAPTER -Concerning the Prophetic office of the MESSIAH; wherein is proved, that he is the prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 8:15 also enquiry is made, who was to be his fore-runner; what was his prophetic work; and where he was to perform his office. HAVING traced the prophecies of the Messiah to the very place of his habitation, and they being entirely silent as to anything relating to him, or that should befall him, until the time of his manifestation, as the great prophet in Israel , and the evangelic history being as silent with respect to Jesus, during the same space of time, unless it be in the single instance of his going up to Jerusalem , at the feast of the passover, with his parents, and his disputing with the doctors in the temple, when at twelve years of age, I shall therefore, in this chapter, consider him in the capacity of a prophet, and as exercising that office; and the method I shall take will be as follows:
First , I shall endeavour to prove from Deuteronomy 18:15. that the Messiah was to be a prophet.
Secondly , Shall inquire who was to be his fore-runner, according to the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi .
First , I shall endeavour to prove, that the Messiah was to be a prophet, from Deuteronomy 18:15.
The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, unto him shall ye hearken.
These words are applied to the Messiah, Jesus, by the apostle Peter in Acts 3:22. Christ seems to have regard to them when he says ( John 5:46), Moses wrote of me . Nay, God the Father manifestly directs to them, at the transfiguration of Christ upon the mount, when, Moses and Elias being present, he enjoined the disciples, by a voice from Heaven, only to hearken to him; saying, This is my beloved Son , in whom 1 am well pleased ; hear ye him which is the very injunction in the text under consideration. How just the application of these words in the New Testament, to Jesus, as the Messiah, is, I shall now consider. These words can be understood of no other but the Messiah; not of any single prophet., as Joshua , as some;Jeremiah , as others think; not, Joshua , for though he was the immediate successor of Moses, and was appointed a leader and commander of the people of Israel , to whom they hearkened; yet was he no prophet, nor was he ever accounted as such by the Jews; nor Jeremiah , for though he was a prophet, yet not like to Moses , at least he had no peculiar likeness to him, which might not be observed in other prophets; nor is a succession of prophets here intended, which is the opinion of others, for it is a single prophet that is here spoken of; so the Targums , both of Onkelos and Jonathan , and the Septuagint version, understand it; neither had the Jews ever a constant succession of prophets, being frequently without any; besides, take all the prophets, from Moses to the times of Jesus, and consider them either collectively or singly, there will appear a very great dissimilitude between them; whether we regard the very great familiarity and intimate converse he had with God, or the signs and wonders which were done by him, or the great deliverance which he was an instrument of, as it is said in Deuteronomy 34:10,11, And there arose not a prophet since in Israel, like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do, &c.
Accordingly the Jews have always magnified and extolled Moses above all the prophets, and that in the case of prophecy, calling him,the prince of the prophets ; and say, that “all the prophets prophesied from the fountain of his prophecy.” Maimonides assigns several differences between the nature of their prophesying and his, though he allows the Messiah to be equal with him as a prophet: and as to miracles, put all those of the prophets together, they do not come up to Moses ’; his miracles in number exceed them all. Manasseh Ben-Israel has took the pains to collect and compare them together, and, according to him, the miracles done by, or on the account of the prophets, were seventy-four; but those done by Moses , or on his account, were seventy-six; but how just this account is, I do not pretend to say. Moreover, it ought to he observed, that it was a single prophet, some famous and noted one, whom the Jews expected in the times of Jesus, the foundation of which expectation must be those words of Moses , and from what they saw and heard of Jesus, they were ready to conclude he must be the person ( John 6:14), then those men when they had seen the miracles that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet which should come into the world.
From the whole it appears, that a succession of prophets is not intended, nor any other single prophet, but the Messiah, as may he more fully evinced, 1. From the connection of the words with the preceding verse, which should be read thus, for these nations which thou shalt possess , hearkened unto observers of times , and unto diviners : but as for thee ,not so are they , whom the Lord thy God giveth unto thee , that is, the prophets whom the Lord will raise up among you, will not be like the jugglers and diviners among the heathens, who deceive and impose upon mankind, for these will be men sent and inspired by God, and will be true and faithful in the discharge of their office: Now that they might be encouraged to hearken to these prophets, and lest they should be discouraged because they would come far short of Moses , he informs them in this verse, that a prophet , an eminent one, one preferable to all others, and every way like to him, would God raise up unto them; so that if a succession of prophets is intended anywhere, it is in the former verse, and not in this, where speaking of the preferableness of them to the diviners and wizards of the Gentiles, he takes the opportunity to raise their expectation of, and direct their faith unto, the famous and super-excellent prophet that was to come. 2. From the occasion of the words, which, according to verses 16-18, was the request of the people of Israel , who, being terrified at what they saw and heard at mount Sinai , desired that God would not speak with them immediately, but that some person might be appointed to deliver his mind and will, and accordingly Moses was; which, for the present, was a satisfaction to them. Moreover, the Lord also assured them, that for the future, when it was his pleasure to make a new revelation, or a further discovery of his mind and will, he would not do it in this terrible manner, but would raise up a person of their own flesh and blood, like unto Moses , by whom it should be delivered, which was sufficient to prevent their fears for the future; and thus it was, for as the law was given by Moses , so grace and truth came by Jesus Christ . From hence it appears, that there is no room for the exception of a late author, namely, that the exigencies of the people required an immediate prophet, or a succession of them, to be raised up, which exigencies could not be answered by a prophet two thousand years to come, for the people were in no such exigency; they had just now received a revelation of God’s mind and will to them by Moses, and this was to suffice until the Messiah came; for the business of the prophets, who were afterwards raised up, was not to bring a new revelation, but to urge, inculcate, and explain the old one; and it was enough for the satisfaction of the people, and to answer their exigencies, that whenever it pleased God to make a new revelation of his will, whether it was one, two, three, or four thousand years afterward, that he would raise up such a person as is here described, by whom he would do it; which he has accordingly made good in the Messiah, Jesus. 3. This may be further argued, from what is threatened to those who should refuse to hearken to him (v. 19), And it shall come to pass , that whosoever will not hearken to my words , which he shall speak in my name , I will require it of him , that is, I will punish him for it; which the apostle expresses by ( Acts 3:23), a being destroyed from among the people ; and Maimonides says, that such a person is “guilty of death by the hands of heaven.” Now this never was so remarkably fulfilled, as in the destruction of the Jewish nation, for their rejection of Jesus, as the true Messiah and prophet of God; though the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy says, that this was “so far from being true in respect of Jesus, that himself was cut off, and not his opposers and enemies.” To which may be replied, that it is true that Jesus was cut off for the sins of his people, as was before predicted of him; but then, that those who rejected him died in their sins, that wrath came upon them to the uttermost, that their city and temple were destroyed, and they involved in utter ruin and destruction, this author surely cannot be ignorant of. f201 4. That the Messiah is here intended, and that Jesus is he, will appear from the description of this prophet, which exactly agrees with him; for besides that, general character of his being an Israelite , one raised up in the midst of them, of their own flesh and blood, which is common to all Jewish prophets, he is every way like unto Moses , and that even in those things in which there is a dissimilitude between Moses and other prophets; was Moses a mediator, and faithful in the discharge of his work? so was Jesus; was he a deliverer of Israel out of Egyptian bondage? Christ has delivered his people out of a far worse bondage, even that of sin; had Moses such familiar converse with God as none of the other prophets ever had? Jesus lay in the bosom of God, and has revealed him unto us; was Moses preferable to all others, for the signs and wonders which he wrought?
Christ did those works which none other man did ; If then Jesus is not only like to Moses in those things in which other prophets were, but also in those in which there was a dissimilitude between them, certainly he bids fairest to be the prophet in the text. The above mentioned author says, f202 “This prophecy cannot relate to Jesus, inasmuch as the prophet here spoken of might be tried and condemned as really a false prophet.”
To which I answer, that the trial and condemnation of the false prophet, in verses 20-22, can never be understood of the prophet promised in verse for it can never be thought, that he who was to be raised up by God, and was to have his words put into his month, and to whom the people were to hearken, should speak in the name of other gods, or that which God commanded him not; it only supposes, that some persons might make pretensions to be this prophet who were not so, and, in order to the discovery of them, they were to be tried after the manner directed to, and upon conviction to be cut off, which no ways prejudices the application of this famous prophecy to Jesus, who appears, from all considerations, to be the person intended. I proceed, Secondly , To inquire who was to be the forerunner of this great prophet, according to the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi ; and shall attempt to prove that John the Baptist is the person designed. 1st , This person is represented as the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, whose work was to prepare the way of the Lord, and to make straight in the desert a high way for our God ( Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1), which prophecies are in the New Testament applied to John the Baptist ( Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:2,3; Luke 3:4), and how justly will easily appear, if it be considered that the very place where he began his ministry is, pointed at, who came preaching in the wilderness of Judea ; and as for the work he was to do, which was to prepare the way of the Lord , it exactly suits with him; for John ’s ministry had a very great tendency to dispose the people to a reception of the Messiah, he preached the doctrine of repentance to them, which the Jews acknowledge to be necessary to the coming of the Messiah; he declared that the kingdom of Heaven , or the Messiah, was at hand ; he baptized with the baptism of repentance , which made the Jews inquire whether he was not the Christ, or Elias , or that prophet; and at the same time he advised the people to believe on him which should come after him , that is, on Christ Jesus , as the apostle Paul informs us ( Acts 19:4); he endeavored to take off the Jews from their vain confidence in fleshly privileges, as being the descendants of Abraham , and so fulfilled Isaiah ’s prophecy of him, every valley shall be exalted , and every mountain and hill shall be made low ; and the crooked shall be made straight , and the rough places plain . Whereby persons were prepared to receive the Messiah; nay, he did, as it were, with his finger point him out unto them, saying, Behold the Lamb of God , which taketh away the sin of the world . That the Lord , whose way was to be thus prepared by this person, is the Messiah, and that this prophecy belongs to the time of his appearing, may easily be concluded from the context. The consolations to be administered to God’s people by his ministers, mentioned in verse 1 and 2, were to have their full completion in the days of the Messiah , as Kimchi on the place observes, who is prophesied of more expressly in verses 9-11 as one that was to appear to the joy of his people, and would come with a strong hand , vigorously prosecute his designs, faithfully perform his work, and then receive his full reward. He is moreover represented under the character of a shepherd , and as one that would very tenderly discharge the several parts and branches of that office; which character, as it is frequently given to the Messiah in the Old Testament, is what Jesus bears in the New. 2dly , The person who was to be the forerunner of the Messiah, is spoken of under the name of Elijah the prophet , ( Malachi 4:5,6); Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
All which well agrees with John the Baptist ; and that he is the person intended, may very easily be argued from the time of his coming, which. was before the coming of the great and dreadful or illustrious epifanh , as the Septuagint renders it, day of the Lord : from the work he was to do, which was to turn the heart of the fathers to , or rather with , thee children , l[ for µ[ as Kimchi on the place observes; and the meaning is that he should convert, or turn, abundance of people, both fathers and children, from their iniquities, which, John the Baptist was an instrument of doing ( Matthew 3:5,6), for Jerusalem and all Judea, all the region round about Jordan, went out to him, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
Besides it deserves consideration, that the awful argument, which this person was to enforce his ministry with, lest I come and smite the earth , or land with a curse , which is expressive of the destruction of the Jewish nation, in case of non-repentance, exactly suits with the ministry of John the Baptist , who declared to the Jews, that, unless they brought forth fruits meet for repentance , wrath , would come upon them, that the axe was then laid to the root of the tree , and that every fruitless one would be hewn down and cast into the fire ; and accordingly, for their non-repentance, their contempt of John ’s ministry, and rejection of the Messiah, this wrath did come upon them; their land was smitten with a curse , their city and temple were destroyed, and they wholly ceased to be a nation or commonwealth.
Two things principally are objected against this sense of the words of by a late author. 1. That the real Elias is here intended, and therefore the Septuagint translators render it expressly, Elias the Tishbite , and that the Jews accordingly expect Elias to come in person. To which I answer, that as to the Septuagint version, it can be of no weight in this case; because the word Tishbite is not in the original text, but put in by those translators, without any warrant or authority for it; and though it was indeed the opinion of many of the Jews, that Elias should come in person, before the coming of the Messiah; yet not of all of them, for some of them have thought, that some great prophet, equal to Elias , and endued with the same spirit, is intended; and particularly this is the opinion of Maimonides . f205 Besides, it no unusual thing for one person to he called by the name of another, very much like him, for integrity, wisdom, courage, zeal, &c. this is no ways disagreeable to the language of other authors; thus Turnus is by Virgil called another Achilles : much less to the language of the scriptures, where the Messiah is frequently called by the name of David , because of their very great likeness and agreement; besides, it is usual with the Jews to call Phinehas by the name of Elias , because, of his great zeal for the Lord of hosts; and for the very same reason may John the Baptist be called by the name of Elias , there appearing to be a very great resemblance between Elias and John , in their temper and disposition, in their manner of clothing, and austere way of living, in their eximious piety and holiness, in their courage and integrity in reproving vice, arid their zeal and usefulness in the cause of God and true Religion; so that John the Baptist may well be said to come in the Spirit and power of Elias , as the angel expresses it ( Luke 1:17), and on the account thereof be called by his name. 2. Another objection produced by the same author, and which appears the most formidable is, that “John , who must be supposed to know who he was himself, when the question was asked him, whether he was Elias , denied himself to be Elias .”
In answer to which, let it be observed, that the Jews, in putting this question to John whether he was the Elias or no, meant whether he was Elias in person, the real Elias , Elias the Tishbite , or no, and so John understood them, and therefore very honestly and sincerely replies, that he was not, that is, that he was not Elias the Tishbite , though he does not deny that he was the person intended by the Elias that was prophesied should come, and therefore, that they might not be at a loss to know who he was, he tells them, he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness , make straight the way of the according to Isaiah ’s prophecy, who is the same person that Malachi in Malachi 3:1 calls the Messenger of the Lord, who was to prepare the way before him, which messenger is no other than Elias the prophet in Isaiah 4:5, as will appear by comparing the places together; so that though John denies himself to be Elias the Tishbite , yet he owns himself to be the person intended by the Elias that was to come. And from hence it appears, that when Christ says of John the Baptist ( Matthew 11:14), This is Elias which was for to come , he says nothing contrary to, or irreconcilable with the words of John , as the Jews object; for Christ does not say, that he was Elias in person, or Elias the Tishbite , but only that he was the Elias which was for to come , that is, he who was intended by him. I proceed, Thirdly , To consider the work which the Messiah, as a prophet, was to do, and which our Jesus did, 1st , One part of the Messiah’s work, as a prophet, was to preach the gospel, according to Isaiah 61:1, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me, to preach the good tidings to the meek; which prophecy is acknowledged, by some Jewish writers, to belong to the Messiah; and indeed the unction of the Spirit here spoken of best agrees with him, who was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows , as well as the work he was to do which is such as no mere creature is capable of, especially that of binding up the broken hearted . With this prophecy Jesus began his ministry, applying it to himself, and, in all respects, answered the several things contained therein, which is no small proof of his Messiahship. Hence, among the several evidences thereof, which he gave the disciples of John , who were sent by their master to inquire of him, whether he was he that should come , or whether they were to look for another , this was one, the poor have the gospel preached to them ; for as the Messiah was to preach glad tidings to the meek , or poor , ptwcoiV, as the Septuagint render it; so it is manifest enough, that Jesus’ audience was chiefly of that sort; those flocked unto him, attended on his ministry, and embraced his doctrine, when he was rejected by the wise and wealthy. Besides, the Gospel was preached by him, not after the ordinary manner, but in such a way as it never had been before, nor has been since; for his enemies themselves being witnesses, never man spake like him, Iris words were clothed with majesty and power, he taught as one having authority , and not as the scribes , to the surprise and astonishment of all that heard him. 2dly , Another part of his work was, to perform miracles for the confirmation of the truth of his mission. That the Messiah was to work miracles, is manifest from the predictions of the prophets, especially Isaiah (Isaiah 24:5,6), who says, that when God comes with vengeance , even God with a recompence to save his people, which is to be understood of the great salvation by the Messiah, then the eyes of the blind shall be opened , and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped , then shall the lame man leap as an hart , and the tongue of the dumb shall sing ; all which was verified in Jesus, who gave these very instances to John ’s disciples, as evidences of his being the true Messiah. That the Jews in the times of Jesus expected the Messiah to do miracles, is plain from what they say in John 7:31, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?
And though later Jews would willingly establish such a notion, as that there is no need to look for miracles to be wrought by the Messiah when he comes, yet it is certain that their more ancient writers were of a different mind, and expected as many, and as great miracles to be wrought, as were at the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt ; nay, Maimonides himself f212 who seems fond of the above said notion, yet is obliged to acknowledge, that miracles will be wrought by the Messiah, and that upon the account of them, he will meet with a great deal of respect from the actions of the world. That Jesus did do such miracles as were predicted of the Messiah, is not only affirmed by the evangelists, who were men of probity, honesty, and integrity, but is also acknowledged by those who were no friends to the religion of Jesus; nay, by those who were his bitter and implacable enemies; which miracles of his are very good proofs of his being the true Messiah, and that prophet whom Moses spoke of, and the Jews expected; hence some of them, that saw the miracles which Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world ( John 6:14). 3dly , Another part of a prophet’s work is to foretell future events; and it is a rule which Maimonides lays down, that if all a prophet says comes to pass, then he is to be accounted a true and faithful one; now Jesus foretold many things before hand, which exactly and punctually came to pass; he foretold the evil treatment he should meet with from the Jews, his being betrayed by one of his own disciples, his being denied by another, and forsaken by them all also his death and the manner of it; his resurrection from the dead; the destruction of the Jewish nation; the preaching of the gospel, and the success thereof in the Gentile world; all which were exactly accomplished; and therefore he justly deserves the character of a prophet, and to be esteemed as one sent by God. But, Fourthly , I shall now inquire into the place where the Messiah was chiefly to fulfil his ministry, as the great prophet in Israel , which appears to be Galilee of the nations , according to a prophecy in Isaiah 9:1,2.
Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at time first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Napthali; and afterwards did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great lights they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
The former of which verses should be read thus; Nevertheless the dimness shall not be to her as her oppression , for as at the first time he debased the land of Zebulun and the land of Napthali , so in the latter time , or hereafter , he will make it glorious by the way of the sea , beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations ; the learned Mr. Mede reads the words much the same way; and the plain meaning of them is this, that whereas those parts of the land of Israel , here mentioned, had suffered much by Tiglath Pilezer , who had carried them captive ( 2 Kings 15:29), which is the vexation referred to; so they should be very much honored and glorified, by the presence and conversation of the Messiah, who is the great light , in verse 9, that was to shine in those dark and obscure parts, and give light unto them, and there become famous himself, and make them so by his doctrines, miracles, and holy life and conversation; who is no other than the child born, and son given, of whom such great things are spoken, and to whom such magnificent titles are given in verses 6 and 7. Now this prediction was exactly verified in Jesus; for though he was born at Bethlehem , in the land of Judah , according to the prophecy in Micah 5:2, yet he was educated and brought up in Galilee , from whence he came to be baptized by John , when the time drew nigh of his entering upon his public ministry: but after he had been tempted in the wilderness, and had heard of John ’s being cast into prison, he departed into Galilee, and, leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coasts in the borders of Zabulon and Napthali: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, &c. ( Matthew 4:12-16), it was here be began to preach (v. 17), here he called his first disciples (vv. 18, 21), here he staid and continued some time, for he went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues , &c. (v. 23), here he wrought his first miracle ( John 2:11), here he chiefly conversed, here he promised to meet with his disciples ( Matthew 26:32), and here he accordingly did ( Matthew 28:7,10,16), he was so much in those parts that the Jews concluded that Galilee was the place of his birth; hence say they, in John 7:41, Shall Christ come out Galilee ? but though he was not to he born there, yet he was to converse there much. The ancient Jews expected the Messiah to he revealed, and make his first appearance in Galilee ; for so they affirm in their book of Zohar ; now what could be the foundation of such an expectation, but this prophecy of Isaiah , which has had its literal accomplishment in Jesus? But, Fifthly , I proceed to consider what success was to attend the Messiah’s ministry, which was to be but very small and inconsiderable; for he and his ministry were to be slighted and rejected by men, according to the prophecies that went before of him, which declare, that, the hearts of men, instead of being converted under his ministry, would grow more obdurate, their ears be heavy, and their eyes shut which is not to be imputed to any weakness and insufficiency, either in his doctrine, or method of teaching, but to the wretched depravity and corruption of human nature. Now so it was with respect to the ministry of Jesus; for though he spake as never man did, taught with authority , as the scribes did not, and confirmed his doctrines by many surprising and unquestionable miracles, yet there were but few that believed on him; for their minds were blinded and their hearts were hardened; and that this might be no occasion of stumbling to his disciples, he acquaints them, that this was no other than what was prophesied of beforehand ( Matthew 13:13-16; John 12:37-40). The prophecy which he more especially refers to, is in Isaiah 6:9,10, which prophecy a late author asserts, f217 “according to its literal sense, relates to the obstinate Jews, who lived in the time of Isaiah , though Jesus says that it was fulfilled in his time, in those to whom he spoke in parables;” but why according to its literal sense, it may not as well relate to the Jews in Jesus’ time, as to those in Isaiah ’s , there seems no reason to conclude; for the Jews in Jesus’ time were much of the same complexion with those in Isaiah ’s ; nay the character suits better with the Jews in the time of Jesus, than with those in the time of Isaiah ; for though this judicial blindness began in the time of Isaiah , yet in succeeding ages it increased, being grown to a prodigious pitch in the time of Jesus, and was still increasing until the utter destruction of the nation, for so long it was to continue, according to Isaiah ’s prophecy, who asks this question (v. 11) Then said I , Lord , how long ? that is, will this obstinacy and blindness continue? and he answered , Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant , and the houses without man , and the land be utterly desolate , and the Lord have removed men far away , and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land , which cannot be understood of the devastation by Senacherib , or of the Babylonish captivity, in neither of which was there such an utter desolation of the land of Judea , as is here spoken of, but seems very plainly to point out the destruction of the Jews temple, city, and nation, by the Romans , which was the just demerit of their blindness, obstinacy, and infidelity.
Besides, it looks as if Isaiah had the Jews in the times of the Messiah, principally in view, for these things said he of them when he saw the glory of the Messiah, of which some account is given in verses 1-5 and spake of him .
CHAPTER -Concerning the remarkable occurrence of the MESSIAH’S riding to Jerusalem upon an ass, wherein the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. is particularly considered. HAVING traced the prophecies which concern the Messiah quite down to his entrance upon, and discharge of his work and office as a prophet, I cannot proceed any further, without taking notice of a remarkable occurrence, which was to happen towards the close of his ministry, namely, his riding to Jerusalem upon an ass. That Jesus did do so, a little before his death, not only the evangelists assure us, who are to be credited, but even the Jews themselves, the avowed and implacable enemies of Jesus, have acknowledged; now hereby an ancient prophecy was fulfilled, as the evangelists observe, Matthew 21:4,5, John 12:14-16, the prophecy referred to is Zechariah 9:9, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
That this prophecy in its primary, obvious, and literal sense, is to be understood off the Messiah, and no other, and may justly be applied to Jesus, is what I shall attempt to prove. Some indeed would have Zerobabel here intended, others Nehemiah , and others, Judas Maccabæus ; but neither of them were kings, nor were they poor, or is it any where recorded of any of them, that they rode upon an ass to Zion , or Jerusalem , in such a public manner, attended with such demonstrations of joy, as this person is said to do; and no other person being mentioned, to whom this prophecy is supposed to be applicable, the Messiah must be intended, to whom all the characters here mentioned exactly agree; who is frequently represented in the Old Testament as a king , and as Zion ’s king ; as one that should execute judgment and justice in the earth , as the Saviour of his people, and the prince of peace . Several Jewish writers understand this prophecy of the Messiah, and it is certain that the Jews, in the times of Jesus, so understood it, as is manifest from their behavior towards him; for when they saw him coming to Jerusalem upon an ass, they spread their garments and branches of trees in the way , and cried , saying , Hosanna to the son of David , Blessed be the king of Israel , that cometh in the name of the Lord ; which shows that they looked upon this prophecy to be a prophecy of the Messiah; and from this circumstance concluded that Jesus was he, or they would never have attended him with such kind of acclamations, and given him such magnificent titles as these; and indeed there is nothing in the whole prophecy, which, as it solely concerns the Messiah, but what is entirely applicable to Jesus.
First , The person here prophesied of , is represented as a king , as Zion ’s king , and as one that should come to her, for her good.
That the Messiah was to be a king, is no controversy between us and the Jews; one of the most common and usual epithets they give him, is the king Messiah ; but the controversy between us, is, whether he was to be a temporal or a spiritual one; the Jews expected him in the former character, and therefore rejected Jesus, because he was not such a one; a king he was, and never denied it, though he declared that his kingdom was not of this world ; he is Zion ’s king, the king of saints , and will rule and reign as such for ever, for the good, safety, and protection of his people, and to the confusion of all his and their enemies.
Secondly , Another character of this great person is, that he should be just , or righteous in all his works, actions, and administrations, which well agrees with Jesus, who was just in all his actions both to God and man, he rendered to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar ’s , and to God the things that are God ’s ; his whole life was one continued series of righteousness and holiness; so that though his enemies sought, time after time, an occasion against him, they could find none; and therefore, in order to take away his life, which they thirsted after, they exhibited a false accusation against him; and though they carried their point so far, as to prevail upon Pilate to adjudge him to death, yet he washed his hands and declared him to be an innocent person.
Thirdly , It is said of this king of Zion , that he is one having salvation , that is, one that has a commission to effect it, is every way qualified for it, and is become the author of it. Such an one is Jesus, as his name signifies, who is become the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him . The author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy objects from a late writer, f224 that the Hebrew word should bc rendered saved , and that it relates to Zerobabel , or some person who came from Babylon , and was saved during their captivity and destruction; to which I answer, that granting the Hebrew word [çwn should not be rendered actively having salvation , saving , saving himself , or a Saviour , as most versions do, the word being in the passive form, though there are many instances of words in that language, which are of the passive form, that are to be understood in an active sense; I say, granting that it should not be rendered so, but passively, saved , there is no need to apply it to Zerobabel , or some person who came from Babylon , and was saved from thence, to whom the other characters in the text will by no means agree: for in this sense of the words, it is applicable enough to the Messiah, Jesus, who was saved , rescued, and delivered out of the hands of death and the grave, and thereby became a fit and proper Saviour for others; for had he not been saved himself, he could never have been the Saviour of others. Besides, I find the Jews use this word [çwn among the several epithets which they give to the most high God, in their solemn prayers and addresses to him: now, if it may be predicated of the great God, it may surely of the Messiah, without any diminution of his glory; yea, even as considered, in his highest nature, as the eternal Son of God.
Fourthly , Another epithet given to this great person in the text, is, that he is lowly or poor , as the word may be rendered; which character alone is sufficient to exclude the above-mentioned persons from being intended here; Zerobabel cannot, who was governor of Judah , and with such vast expenses rebuilt the temple; nor Nehemiah , who , during his captivity, was cupbearer to the king of Persia , and afterwards made governor of Judah , though he did not eat the bread of the governor, but at his own charge kept one hundred and fifty Jews at his table out of his own substance, gave to the treasure a thousand drams of gold , fifty basons , five hundred and thirty priests garments; and therefore surely could not be a poor man; nor can Judas Maccabæus be intended, for the same reason, who was much enriched with the spoils he took in war, wherewith he adorned and beautified the temple; but the character well agrees with Jesus, who was not only born of poor parents, and brought up in a mean and obscure manner, but even in his more public life was attended with poverty in his outward circumstances; he had no where to lay his head, was obliged to some women for his sustenance, who ministered to him of their substance , and when he died had nothing to leave his mother, but bequeaths her to the care of one of his disciples. Again, if we render the word lowly or meek , it exactly suits with him, whose unparalleled meekness and lowliness of mind appeared in his assumption of human nature, in his courteous and affable carriage to persons far inferior to him, even publicans and sinners, and in his ministering to his own disciples, especially in that last act of his washing of their feet, in which, as well as in all the actions of his life, he set them a pattern, and taught them to learn of him, who was meek and lowly .
Fifthly , This person is further described by his riding upon an ass ; and accordingly the Jews have expected the Messiah to make such an appearance, as Jesus did, which is not only attested by the evangelists, but acknowledged by the Jews themselves, as has been already observed.
Sixthly , This person was to remove all the instruments of war, and speak peace unto the heathen (v. 10), which has been exactly fulfilled in Jesus, who having made peace by the blood of his cross , has by his ministers preached it both to Jews and Gentiles; whose gospel is the gospel of peace , his kingdom a kingdom of peace, and he himself the prince of peace .
Seventhly , his kingdom was to be very extensive; for it is said that his dominion shall be from sea to sea , and from the river even unto the ends of the earth ; which is the reason Jarchi gives, why it is impossible to understand this prophecy of Zechary , of any other but the Messiah, of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end ; and which will more manifestly appear when the kingdoms of this world shalt visibly become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ .
Eighthly , The coming of this person is represented as something very remarkable and extraordinary, and as what would be matter of joy to Zion ; and therefore, a behold , is prefixed to it, and Zion is called upon to rejoice and shout ; all which was literally fulfilled in Jesus’ entrance, into the city of Jerusalem; for it is said that all the city was moved , being surprised at the strange and uncommon appearance he made, which was attended with shouts and acclamations of joy, from the people, crying Hosanna to the son of David . So that from the whole it appears, that this is another literal prophecy of the Messiah, which had its exact accomplishment in Jesus.
CHAPTER 10. Concerning the sufferings of the Messiah; wherein <192201>Psalm and <235301>Isaiah 53 are particularly considered: as also the several circumstances which were to attend these sufferings. THE writers of the New Testament, as they give an account of the sufferings of Jesus, so they appeal to the books of the Old Testament, as containing prophecies which speak of the Messiah’s sufferings; from whence they reasoned with the Jews, ( Acts 17:2,3.) opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead; and that that Jesus whom they preached was Christ.
They aver, that the divine Spirit in the prophets ( 1 Peter 1:11.) testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ unto them, as well as the glory that should follow; and that when they spoke of the sufferings of Jesus, they said, ( Acts 26:22,23.) none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say, should come to pass; and that, in what the Jews did to Jesus, was fulfilled, what ( Acts 3:18) God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets. Nay, Jesus himself, in reproving some of his disciples for their dullness and unbelief, said unto them, ( Luke 24:25-27.)
O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; ought not Christ to to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? therefore beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself; that is, those things which chiefly concerned his sufferings. Now, seeing there are such manifest appeals to the hooks of the Old Testament, as containing prophecies of a suffering Messiah, which had their fulfillment in Jesus, my business in this chapter will be, First, To consider those prophecies which speak of him as such, and attempt to approve that they belong to him, and him only.
First, I shall consider those prophecies which speak of the Messiah as suffering, and attempt to prove that they belong to him, and him only. Now the principal prophecies which speak of this affair, and are generally understood to belong thereunto, are contained in Psalm 22 and Isaiah which I shall particularly consider. 1st, The Twenty Second Psalm is commonly understood by Christian interpreters to be a prophecy of the Messiah as suffering; and indeed it cannot with any tolerable color or pretense be applied to any other. That one single individual person is spoken of, throughout the Psalm, the whole series and connection thereof manifestly shew, and therefore the whole body of the Jewish nation, or the congregation of Israel, cannot be intended. Besides, this person is not only distinguished from the viler sort of the people, by whom he was reproached and reviled, verse 6-8 but also from those who are called the brethren, the congregation of Israel, and those who fear the Lord, verse 22, 23 before whom he was to praise the Lord. And as a single person, so a suffering person is certainly intended, as is manifest from his being represented as one forsaken of God, despised by men, encompassed by his enemies, by whom he is cruelly racked and tortured, his bones dislocated, his hands and feet pierced, and he even brought to the dust of death. Now this single and suffering person can be no other than the Messiah; some of the Jewish writers, indeed, would have Esther to be the subject of this prophecy, to whom not one sentence, nor single word in the whole Psalm, can with any tolerable shew of reason be applied. Others, and with much more appearance of truth, would have David intended; but yet there are some things in this Psalm, which, in their plain, obvious and literal sense, cannot be applied to him, as the shooting out of the lip, and shaking the head at him, by wicked persons, using at the same time that very form of words mentioned in verse 8 the dislocation of his joints, verse 14 the piercing of his hands and feet, verse 16 the parting of his garments and casting lots upon his vesture, verse 18 neither of which were true of David, but were to be accomplished in the Messiah, and had their full and literal completion in Jesus, as will be more particularly observed hereafter. And that the Messiah is intended in this Psalm, may be collected from the title; upon, or concerning Aijeleta Shahar, which respects the subject thereof, and may be rendered, the hind of the morning, which well agrees with the Messiah, and is expressive of his swiftness and readiness in appearing for the salvation of his people, and with our Jesus, who in the very morning of his infancy, was hunted after by Herod, and his agents, to take away his life; Others render it the morning star, which is one of the titles of Jesus, Revelation 22:16 The Targum expresses it by the daily morning sacrifice, which was typical of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, and is very justly taken notice of here, where the sufferings of the Messiah are so particularly set forth, which were to be a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of men. Besides, the person treated of in this Psalm, is one in whom the happiness of God’s people was much concerned; by whom the meek were to be satisfied, and enjoy eternal life, as the consequence of his sufferings, and therefore are called upon to praise the Lord on that account, verse 23-26 Moreover, the conversion of the Gentiles through the preaching of the gospel, which was peculiar to the days of the Messiah, was to follow upon the sufferings of this person. Nay, even some Jewish writers have been obliged to apply some parts of this Psalm to the Messiah, which they evidently saw could not in any tolerable sense be referred to any other. 2dly, The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is another prophecy, which is generally understood by Christian interpreters of the Messiah and his sufferings. The modern Jews, indeed, not being able to make it suit with their now generally received notions of the Messiah, have endeavored to substitute some other person as the subject thereof. It would be both tedious and needless to reckon up the several different persons to whom they endeavor to apply this prophecy; all disagreeing with each other; which shews the wretched uncertainty they are under, since they have left the true, plain, obvious, and anciently received sense thereof; some referring it to Abraham, others to Moses, others to Ezra, others to Zerobabel, others to any righteous person in general; all which senses are weak, ridiculous and impertinent, there being no manner of foundation in the whole prophecy for an application of it to any of those persons, and therefore deserve not our consideration. The principal opinions, and which seem mostly to prevail among them, are, that this prophecy is to be understood either of the body of the people of Israel in general, or of Josiah or Jeremiah, in particular; though in each of them they go contrary to their own Targum, Talmud, and other ancient writings of theirs; there are some who strenuously contend for the former, namely, that the whole body of the people of Israel, in captivity, is intended, which can never be the true sense of the prophecy; for one single individual person is spoken of from the beginning to the end thereof, who is manifestly distinguished in verses 4-8 from the people of Israel, whose sins and sorrows he was to bear, and for whose transgressions he was to be stricken and wounded. Abarbinel would have king Josiah here intended, who was slain by Pharaoh Necho at Megiddo, and supposes that it is the report of his death which is complained of in verse 1. as what none would believe, by reason of his celebrated piety; he farther supposes that he is said in verse 2. to grow up as a tender plant, because of his early devotion, and the great progress he made therein; that he is said to be despised, verse 3 because he was killed by Necho, a contemptible man; that he was a man of sorrow, because often sick and troubled with the gout; that it appears he bore the griefs of the people, verse 4 since the sins of the nation caused his death, verse 5 that it is a mistake that the people were much addicted to the law in his time, for he says, verse 6 all we, like sheep, have gone astray, and that God would revenge his death upon many nations. But Abarbinel here contradicts himself, for he at other times, with other Jews, would have the prophecy understood of the people of Israel, and therefore not of Josiah; besides, here are several things said relating to Josiah, of which some are true, others notoriously false, and destitute of all manner of proof; it is true indeed that he was a very pious prince, and devoted himself very early to religion, but then it is notoriously false that the people were not much addicted to the law in his time; for it was in his time that the book of the law was found, the covenant between God and the people renewed, a general reformation obtained, and such a passover kept as never had been since the times of the judges: it is also false, that the sins of the people were the occasion of Josiah’s death, but rather his own rashness, vanity, and ambition, in meddling in an affair to which he did not seem to have any real call; and it is equally as false, that God revenged his death upon many nations; nor was Pharaoh Necho, by whom he was slain, a contemptible person, but a very potent and considerable prince; his saying that none would believe the report of Josiah’s death, wants proof, as well as his representing him as a sickly person, and subject to the gout.
But to let pass these things, as not worthy of consideration, it may easily be observed, that there are many things in this prophecy which can by no means agree with him; as that he did no violence, the contrary is evident in the case of Pharaoh-Necho; that he bore the sins of others, and died for them, and made his soul an offering for sin; that his days were prolonged, that the pleasure of the Lord prospered in his hand; much less could it be said of him, Who shall declare his generation? Others would have Jeremiah in tended, in which they are followed by Grotius, and this the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy seems to incline to: But the characters given of the person, who is the subject of this prophecy, by no means agree without Jeremiah, for this person is represented as one without guilt, entirely free from sin, and who had never gone astray, like other men; as one that was to suffer for the sins of others, which sufferings he was to bear with the utmost patience; nay, even to intercede for those transgressors who were the cause of them; and though he was to be cut off , or die, yet he was to live again, have a large number of disciples and followers, and be very much exalted and dignified; which cannot be said of Jeremiah, who was subject to the same sinful infirmities as other men are, was not wounded nor bruised, nor did he die for the sins of his people; and as for the sufferings which he underwent for them, he was far from bearing them with patience; for he even cursed the day wherein he was born, on the account thereof; he prayed that he might see the vengeance of God upon them; that God would pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter; neither had he a large number of disciples, nor was he exalted and extolled, as this person is represented to be. But all and every part of this prophecy exactly agrees with the Messiah Jesus, whose first appearance was mean and abject, on the account of which he was despised by men, by whom he suffered many things, which he bore with inexpressible patience, and at last death itself, which was an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of all his people, which being laid on him, he bore in his own body on the tree, and being raised from the dead, is now exalted, extolled, and made very high, at his Father’s right hand, where he ever lives to intercede for transgressors; and has ever since had a large number of disciples, who have embraced his doctrines, and espoused his cause; a seed which have served him, and will continue to do so, till time shall be no more.
Secondly, Having considered those two remarkable prophecies which speak of the Messiah as suffering; I proceed to consider the several parts of his sufferings, as they are pointed out in those prophecies, and observe their fulfillment in Jesus. 1st, He was to undergo much reproach from men, to be despised, ( Isaiah 53:3. Psalm 22:6) and rejected by them; nay, to be accounted a worm and no man. How much Jesus was slighted and disesteemed by the men of his generation, on the account of his mean parentage, education, outward poverty, the despicableness of his followers, etc. is notorious enough; as well as how he was flouted, jeered, and scoffed at, when upon the cross, by his enemies, who used the very words in Psalm 22:8 wagging their heads at him. 2dly, He was to be smote and buffeted; this judge of Israel was to be smote with a rod upon the cheek, ( Micah 5:1.) as Jesus was, both by the Jewish and Roman soldiers, which he very patiently endured; and, as was prophesied of him, ( Isaiah 1:6) gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, and hid not his face from shame and spitting. 3dly, He was to suffer death for the sins of his people; he was not only to be wounded ( Isaiah 53:5,8,12. Psalm 22:15.) and bruised for their transgressions, but to be cut off out of the land of the living, his soul was to be poured out unto death, and he brought into the dust thereof; accordingly Jesus died for our sins; ( 1 Corinthians 15:3.) according to these scriptures. 4thly, As he was to die, so he was to die the death of the cross, which might be collected from the piercing of his hands and feet, the disjointing of his bones, and the prodigious fever which was to seize him, and dry up his strength like a potsherd, and cause his tongue to cleave to his jaws, all which circumstances, usually attending the crucifixion of persons, were prophesied of in the twenty-second Psalm. Now it is manifest enough that Jesus was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; though it was very unlikely that he ever should have died in that manner, that not only being a Roman punishment, but also what was not usually inflicted on persons gully of the crime with which he was charged, and for which he was condemned; but so it was, that these prophecies might be fulfilled, as well as his own predictions be verified. 5thly, He was to be buried and laid in the grave, which was the finishing part of his humiliation. Isaiah says of the Messiah, ( Isaiah 53:9) that he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, which words may be rendered thus, he put, or placed his grave with the wicked, but, his tombstone, wytmb or sepulchral monument, was with the rich; which was literally fulfilled in Jesus, whose grave, though it was put under the care and custody of the wicked soldiers, who were placed there to watch, lest the disciples should remove the body, and say he was risen from the dead, which circumstance attending his interment, might seem somewhat dishonorable, yet, there being a famous tomb erected over it, at the charge of Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, rendered his burial honorable, which honor was done him, because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Hereby another prophecy appears to be fulfilled, which speaks of the Messiah’s burial, in Isaiah 11:10 and his rest shall be glorious, this may very well be understood of the grave, which is a place of rest, where, as Job says, Job 3:17 The wicked cease from troubling, and the weary be at rest. The Vulgate renders the words thus, erit se-pulchrum ejus gloriosum,” his grave shall be glorious.” I have already proved, that this prophecy belongs to the Messiah. Abarbinel owns it, and not only so, but also acknowledges, that this clause may be expounded of the Messiah’s honorable burial. The author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy ought to take this as a full answer to his exception, out of Grotius and White, against the prophecy in Isaiah.
To conclude this head; the occasion, nature, efficacy, and intent of the Messiah’s sufferings, as delivered in those prophecies, appear to be the very same as those of the sufferings of Jesus, delivered in the New Testament. The occasion of the Messiah’s sufferings was not to be for any sin of his own, but for the sins of others, for which his death was to be a propitiatory sacrifice, whereby sin was to be abolished and done away, peace and pardon procured, and an everlasting righteousness brought in, and this upon the account of all the people of God; for he was to bear the sins of many, and be stricken for the transgressions of his people; all which perfectly agrees with those doctrines respecting the occasion, nature, efficacy, intent, and extent of the sufferings of Jesus, which the New Testament abounds with. But I proceed, Thirdly, To consider the several circumstances which were to attend the death and sufferings of the Messiah. And I shall begin, 1st, With the hypocrisy and treachery of one of his familiar friends; that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of his disciples, not only the evangelists affirm, but the Jews themselves acknowledge in the account which they themselves. gave of the life and actions of Jesus. Now this, Jesus says, was to come to pass, ( John 13:18) that the scripture might be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lift up his heel against me.
The scripture referred to is Psalm 41:9. which Psalm, in its literal, and obvious sense, wholly belongs to the Messiah. In verse 1-3, the happiness of those persons is set forth, who should consider the poor, that is, the Messiah in his low estate, one of whose characters is lowly or poor, Zechariah 9:9 in verse 5. his enemies are represented wishing for his death, saying, When shall he die and his name perish? which was the thing the Jews so earnestly desired, and so much longed for, with respect to Jesus, and never left plotting till they had effected it; which hypocrisy, perfidy, treachery, and vile designs of theirs, are very aptly described in verses 6, 7. where the true complection and actions of the Jews, in the times of Jesus, are expressed to the life; see Matthew 22:15-18 and chapter 26:3, 4 and this thing which they so much desired, they brought about by suborning false witnesses, and bringing a wrong charge, and false accusation against him, which is signified in verse 8 an evil disease, l[ylb rbd a word of Belial, a wicked word, or false accusation, say they, cleaveth fast unto him, which was that of making himself a king, forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, Luke 23:2. which succeeded according to their wishes, to the taking away of his life; and therefore, in an exulting and triumphing manner, they say, And now that he lieth, that is, in the grave, as the word bkç is sometimes used; see 2 Samuel 7: 12. he shall rise up no more, that is, from the dead, though that was a mistake of theirs, for he was raised from the dead, for which he prays, verse 10 that he might requite these his enemies, as he did, by destroying their city, temple, and nation. Now all these things must needs be very afflicting to the Messiah, and he mentions them here by way of complaint; but yet what was an aggravation of them, and made them still more heavy, was the deceitfulness and treachery of one of his disciples, who betrayed him into the hands of his enemies; and he complains of it as such in verse 9. Yea mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lift up his heel against me Though he concludes the Psalm with joy and thankfulness for God’s raising him from the dead, exalting him with his own right hand, and setting him before his face for ever, verse 11-13.
There is indeed one thing which may seem to render this Psalm inapplicable to the Messiah, and so to Jesus, and that is, this person confesses himself to be a sinner in verse 4 I said, Lord be merciful unto me, and heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee. The words may be rendered thus, heal my soul, that is, delivered me out of my sorrows and afflictions, dl ytafj yk because I have made an offering for sin unto thee; the word afj in Pihel, is frequently used to expiate, atone, or make an offering for sin; see Exodus 29:36 Leviticus 6:20 and chapter 9:15. Psalm 2:7. And in Hithpahel, to purify, or cleanse, oneself from sin; see Numbers 19:12,13,20 and though the word is not so frequently used in Kal, in the sense of making an offering for sin; yet some instances may be produced, where it seems to require such a translation; thus in Leviticus 5:7.
If he be not able to bring a lamb, them shall he bring wfça ta his trespass-offering, afj rça which he shall, or is to offer for sin, two turtledoves, etc.
Again in verse 11.
If he be not able to bring two turtle doves — then shall he bring his offering afj which he shall offer for sin, offeret pro peccato suo, Vulg. Lat. the tenth part of an ephah etc. besides, tafj is frequently used for a sin offering; see Exodus 29:14 Leviticus 4:3,8,21,24,29,33,34 which well agrees with the Messiah, who was to make his soul an offering for sin, ( Isaiah 53:10.) and with Jesus, who was made sin, ( 2 Corinthians 5:21.) that is, an offering for sin, for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. From the whole it appears, that this Psalm is a literal prophecy of the Messiah, and that Judas’s betraying of Jesus, was a literal accomplishment of the passage referred to in it. I proceed, 2dly, To consider another circumstance which was to attend the Messiah as suffering, and that is his being sold, by the same person that betrayed him, for thirty pieces of silver. That Jesus was sold at such a price, cannot well be denied, neither is it: Judas agreed with the chief priests to deliver him into their hands, on this consideration, who, having done his work, receives his wages; but his conscience afterwards accusing him for this vile and barbarous action, he returned them the money, acknowledging his guilt; but they not judging it lawful put this money into the treasury, because it was the price of blood, bought the potter’s field with it, to bury strangers in; all which was exactly according to the prophecies of the Old Testament, for the evangelist, when he had given the historical narration of these things, observes, That ( Matthew 27:9,10.) then was fulfilled, that which was spoken by Jeremy 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: and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.
This prophecy not appearing in any of the writings which bear the name of Jeremy, but being in the prophecy of Zechariah, chapter 11:12, 13. creates some difficulty; which, in order to remove, let it be observed, that the sacred writings were divided by the Jews into three parts; the first is called the law, which contains the five books of Moses; the second the prophets, which contain the former and the latter prophets; the former prophets began at Joshua, the latter at Jeremy; the third was called Cetubim, the Hagiographa, or holy writings, which began with the book of Psalms. Now, as this whole third and last part is called the Psalms, Luke 24:44 because it began with that book, so all that part which contained the latter prophets, beginning at Jeremy, for the same reason, might be called by his name: hence a passage standing in the prophecy of Zechariah, who was one of the latter prophets, might be justly cited under the name of Jeremy. Moreover, the learned Mr. Mede has proved, by many arguments, that the four last chapters of the book of Zechary were wrote by Jeremy, and if so, the difficulty is at once removed; therefore the next thing to be enquired into, is the justness of the application of this prophecy. Now that it is a prophecy of the Messiah, which was fulfilled in Jesus, manifestly appears from the context, as well as the text itself; the person here spoken of, is, in verse 4 called to feed the flock of slaughter, which being in a very poor condition, verse 5, 6 the state of the Jews therefore, at the time of Christ’s coming, is hereby very aptly represented; he agrees to do it, verse 7 and accordingly furnishes himself for it; but he is rejected, despised, and abhorred, by the shepherds, the principal men in church and state, because he severely inveighed against their doctrines and practices, verse 8 whereupon he rejects them, and dissolves both their civil and church state, which can suit with no other times than the times of Jesus, verse 9-11, 14 and lest it should be thought that he used them with too much severity, he gives one single instance of their wretched ingratitude to him, which shews how little they esteemed of him, and that is their valuing of him at no greater a price than thirty pieces of silver, verse 12, 13 which were afterwards cast unto the potter. It may perhaps be objected to the application of this prophecy to Judas’s betraying of Jesus, that, supposing Messiah is here intended, the money is said to be given into his hands, and not into the hands of him that was to betray him, and I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. To which I answer, that the words yrbç wbj should not be rendered give me my price, but give my price, that is, give what you think fit to value me at, into the hand of him that is to betray me, and accordingly they did so; so they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver; which is the very sum the chief priests covenanted with Judas for, and which he received, according to Matthew 26:15. Again, if it should be objected to the citation of St. Matthew , that it is considerably different from the words of the prophet; for whereas it is said in the prophet, I took the thirty pieces, and cast them, etc. the evangelist says, they took the thirty pieces, etc. and they gave, etc.
It may be replied, that elabon in St Matthew may be very welt rendered I took, as edwkan may very reasonably be supposed to be put for edwka ; and so the Syriac seems to have read it, seeing it renders the word by tbhy I gave; but all this cannot be better expressed than in the words of the learned Mede, f244 “ Elabon here in St. Matthew (says he) is the first person singular, and not the third plural, as we are wont to translate it, for it answers to tbhy in the Hebrew. The same person and number must also edwkan be, whether the n be paragogical, or an ancient slip of the scribe; for the Syriac translates it dedi, and in the Hebrew it answers to hjqaw , all this to be so, the words following evince; namely, kaqa sunetaxe moi Kuriov , how will it cohere else? they gave, etc. as the Lord commanded me; must it not needs be, I gave, etc”?
But if it should be still objected that the Messiah, and not the betrayer, is said to cast this money to the potter, And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter, in the house of the Lord; it may be replied, that Jesus may be said to do that which Judas and the chief priest did, because, by his almighty power and providence, he over-ruled those things for good, which in themselves were evil. Judas thought to have convertd the money to his own use, and the priests would have been glad to have taken it again to themselves, but Christ obliged Judas to carry back the money to the priests, and cast it into the temple; and worked upon the minds of the priests not to put it into the treasury, but to buy the potter’s field therewith, whereby the prophecy in its literal sense, was fully accomplished. 3dly, Another circumstance which was to attend the Messiah’s sufferings, is, his being forsaken by the rest of his disciples. That the disciples of Jesus forsook him and fled, when he was apprehended by his enemies, not only the evangelist, but the Jews themselves affirm. Now this was foretold by Jesus, who declares that so it should be, because it is written, ( Matthew 26:31,56.)
I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; which prophecy is a manifest prophecy of the Messiah, as appears not only from the character of a shepherd, which is frequently given to the Messiah in the Old Testament, and is what Jesus bears in the New; but also from his being God’s fellow, which cannot be said of any other, and is justly applicable to him, who, ( Philippians 2:6.), being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with him. Many Jewish writers refer those words of Zechariah to the days of the Messiah, even to Messiah the son of Joseph. 4thly, The Messiah was not only to be forsaken by his disciples, but also by his God; this dereliction is prophesied of in Psalm 22 which Psalm has been proved to belong to the Messiah. Accordingly Jesus, while he was suffering on the cross, was deserted by his Father, and in his agony used the very words with which the Psalm begins, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 5thly, The Messiah was to be numbered with transgressors; accordingly, with Jesus, the Jews crucified two thieves, ( Mark 15:15,27,28.) the one on his right hand, and the other on his left; and the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.
Nothing could more effectually do it, than their placing him between them, and his dying with them, which was a manifest indication, that he was reckoned as a malefactor, and so was numbered with them. 6thly, His garments were to be parted, and lots cast upon his vesture, according to Psalm 22:18 which was literally fulfilled in Jesus, Matthew 27:35. 7thly, It was prophesied of him, that gall would be given him for his meat, and vinegar for him to drink, and accordingly these were given to Jesus, when upon the cross; and therefore, in order to bring it about, and that this scripture might be fulfilled, he said, I thirst; which was not fulfilled by a mere accommodation of such a phrase found in the Psalms, for this does not suppose that there was a prophecy of him, that he should say, I thirst, but his saying so, was an evidence of that thirst being upon him, prophesied of in Psalm 22:15. which was the occasion of fulfilling the prophecy, concerning the gall and vinegar, which were to be given him in this distress. Psalm 69:21. 8thly, A bone of him was not to be broken. Now it is very remarkable, that whereas it was a custom to break the legs of the crucified, and accordingly the legs of the thieves, which were crucified with Jesus, were broken; but when they came to him, finding him dead, notwithstanding all their rage and malice against him, they brake not his legs; and the evangelist observes, ( John 19:36.) that these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
The scripture referred to, is Psalm 34:20. he keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken. Which, if understood of the righteous in general, had a very particular and remarkable completion in Jesus, though it seems rather to regard some particular person, and who can be so well supposed to be understood as the Messiah? To understand it of the righteous in general, will not hold good, for such a calamity sometimes befals them as well as the wicked; and when under such a distress of body, they would be liable to a greater distress of mind; for from hence they would be apt to conclude, that they were not righteous persons, nor under the special care and protection of God, otherwise this promise would be made good to them, he keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. 9thly, The Messiah was to be pierced, at the time of his suffering, and accordingly Jesus was; for one of the soldiers, with a spear, pierced his side; whereby, as the evangelist observes, ( John 19:37) that scripture was fulfilled, they shall look upon him whom they have pierced: the scripture is Zechariah 12:10. Which prophecy, by many Jewish writers, is understood of the Messiah, and of the piercing him. The author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy, says, that the words “manifestly appear not to concern Jesus; his reasons are, because there was to be a war in Judea, and a siege of Jerusalem, and then a deliverance of the Jews, by the destruction of all the nations that should come up at that time against Jerusalem. ” And Mr. Sykes asks, “Did any one circumstance of all this happen to the Jews about the time of the death of Jesus? or rather, was not every thing the reverse of what Zechariah says; and instead of all nations being destroyed that came about Jerusalem, Jerusalem itself was destroyed; instead of a spirit of grace and supplications, the Jews have had their hearts hardened against the Christ; instead of mourning for him whom they pierced, they curse him and his followers even to this day.”
To both which I reply, that these things instanced in, were not according to this prophecy, to come to pass at the time of the piercing of the Messiah, but at the time of the Jews looking to him, and mourning for him, on the account thereof, when brought under a conviction of their evil in so doing; now whereas the piercing of the Messiah has been literally fulfilled in Jesus, and though the Jews, even to this very day, are hardened against him; yet there is no reason to conclude, but that that part of the prophecy, which concerns their looking to him, and a mourning for him, on the account of his being pierced by them, will also, in God’s own time be fulfilled; when we may reasonably expect all these circumstances, attending it, will have their full accomplishment.
CHAPTER 11. Concerning the Resurrection of the MESSIAH from the dead. HAVING considered the several prophecies which regard the Messiah’s sufferings, and the several circumstances, which were to attend them, I shall now proceed to consider those which speak of his resurrection from the dead; and shall begin, First, With Psalm 16:10. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy One to see corruption. The meaning of which is, be it spoken of who it will, that God would not leave the body of this person in the grave, so long as to be corrupted in it, but would raise him up from thence; by soul, being meant a dead body, as the word çpn sometimes signifies; Leviticus 19:28 and chapter 21 and by hell, the grave, which is no unusual sense of the word lwaç , for which see Genesis 42:38 Isaiah 38:18. Now this text is more than once produced by the apostles, to prove the resurrection of Christ from the dead, who argue from it, not in a mystical, enigmatical, and allegorical way, not by mere allusion to it, nor by an accommodation of phrases, but from its strict, literal, and obvious sense; in which sense they prove, that it cannot be understood of David, for as one of them says, ( Acts 2:29,34.)
David is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day, and is not ascended into the heavens, that is, he died and was buried, and continues in his grave to this day; he never ascended to heaven, therefore cannot be the person intended; and yet still more plainly and nervously, another of them argues, that David, ( Acts 13:35-37.) after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption; but he whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
And now, as there are some things in this Psalm which cannot be true of David, and especially in this text, so every thing in it well agrees with the Messiah; such as his trust in God, as he was man, and Mediator, verse 1. his very great regard to the saints and delight in them, verse 2, 3, his disregard to others who were hastening after another god, or another savior; whose sacrifices, as an high priest, he would not offer up, neither make intercession for them, verse 4 his very exceeding great satisfaction, in having the God of Israel for his portion, and in his lot being cast among his peculiar people, verse 5, 6 his thankfulness for advice and direction in the time of his sorrows, and sufferings, and his dependance upon God’s almighty power then to support him, verse 7, 8 and lastly the joy and comfort he was filled with, in the views of his resurrection from the dead, and his enjoyment of the heavenly glory, verse 9-11. All which well agree with Jesus; and especially what is said in verse 10. where the character of an holy One exactly suits with him, who was so, both in nature and life, as also this holy One’s seeing no corruption, was eminently, remarkably, and literally fulfilled in him, who, though he was crucified and laid in the grave, yet was raised from thence the third day, which was before the usual time that dead bodies corrupt and putrify; see John 11:39. Mr. Sykes observes, f249 “That it is in the original thou wilt not leave me lwaçl to the grave, nor suffer thine holy One to see the pit: That in the translation used by the apostle, it is exactly according to the original, eiv adou , not en adou ; and it is impossible to render the word eiv , to or into, by en, in: That as to the other word corruption, the same word signifies the pit, or grave, in Hebrew; and that so it ought to be rendered, according to the customary way of speaking amongst the Hebrews.” To which I reply, that as to lwaçl signifying to and not in the grave, it may be observed, that l is frequently put for b , and so signifies in, which is a very common acceptation of it, many instances might be produced in proof thereof, and even of it, as affixed to this very word; thus in Psalm 31:17. Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent lwaçl, not to, but in the grave. Again, Psalm 49:14 Like sheep they are laid lwaça , not to, but in the grave; once more, though as affixed to another word, Isaiah 51:14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die, tjçl, which surely cannot be rendered to, but in the pit. And as to the translation used by the apostle, eiv adou seems plain enough to be put for en adou , where there is a manifest ellipsis of the word domov , or oikov, or topov , or some such word; for neither eiv , nor en , are usually put in construction with a word of the genitive case; and Mr. Sykes cannot be ignorant of eiv being frequently put for en ; of which, instances might be given; see Matthew 2:23. Mark 2:1. and chapter 13:16 Luke 11:7. It is true, the Hebrew word tjç, here translated corruption, does signify a pit, and is frequently so rendered; on which account the Jews object against the apostle’s version of the words, and the application of them to Jesus; but then it ought to be observed, that the word, in its first, proper, and literal sense, signifies corruption; and that a pit, or grave, is only called by this name, because dead bodies, or carcases, are therein corrupted; now we ought not to depart from the first and literal sense of a word unless some very good reason can be given for it: instances may be produced, where the word cannot be understood in any other sense: Thus, in Leviticus 22:25. it is said, Neither from a stranger’s hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these, because µtjçm their corruption is in them; and so in Psalm 55:23.
But thou, O God, shalt bring them down, tjç rabl , into the pit of destruction, or corruption; nd that it must be so understood here, is manifest, because, as the Author of The true Grounds and Reasons, etc. well observes, “Whether the Psalmist speaks in his name, or the Messiah’s, they were both thrown into the pit of corruption; ” so that from the whole, nothing can be concluded from hence, against its being a literal prophecy of the Messiah; nor ought the Jews, especially, to object this, when their own Midrash acknowledges, that the sense of these words is, that the moth and worm should have no power over him; which was not literally true of David, but was of the Messiah Jesus. Secondly, Another text of scripture, which may be considered as a prophecy of the Messiah’s resurrection, and is produced by the apostles, ( Acts 13:33.) as a proof thereof, is Psalm 2:7.
The whole Psalm belongs to the Messiah, and was so understood by the ancient Jewish writers, who have applied several passages in it to the Messiah, and particularly this verse. That the whole Psalm is to be understood of the Messiah, may be easily collected from the mad council, and vain attempts of the kings of the earth against him, verse 1-3 who in verse 2 is expressly called the Lord’s anointed, or Messiah; from God’s decree and resolution to, make and declare him king of Zion, notwithstanding their utmost efforts against him, verse 4-6 from his having the Gentiles for his inheritance, ver 8, 9. which is true of no other; and especially from that reverence, adoration, and worship, which are to be given to him, and that trust and confidence that is to he placed in him, verse 10-12. which can by no means agree with David, nor with any mere creature whatever; and as for this seventh verse, it is inapplicable to any but the Messiah, for unto which of the angels, said God, at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee: ( Hebrews 1:5.) and if not to any of the angels, much less to David, or any other; and is therefore very justly produced by the apostles, as a proof of the Messiah’s resurrection, which is very aptly expressed by a begetting, even as the general resurrection of the dead is called paliggenesia , the regeneration, or a begetting again; ( Matthew 19:28.) and it is upon this account that Jesus is called the first born from the dead. ( Colossians 1:18) Besides, as there is a very great affinity between the birth and resurrection of a person, so the resurrection of Christ was really natalis imperii, the birthday of his kingdom, or when he was made or declared to be both Lord and Christ; nay, he was thereby declared to be the Son of God with power, so that these words, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee, are very pertinently applied by the apostles to this present purpose. Thirdly, Another prophecy, which seems to regard the resurrection of the Messiah, is Isaiah 26:19. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise; which, by many interpreters, both Jewish and Christian, is understood of the resurrection from the dead; now these words are not the words of the prophet, but are an answer to the prophet’s complaint, in the preceding verses, where, in he is assured, that though his people should be distressed and diminished by several calamities, as captivity, sword, famine, etc. yet they should live again in the resurrection of the just; and the person speaking, appears to be the Messiah, from the characters of him in the context, who is the Lord Jehovah, in whom is everlasting strength, verse 4 the desire, the expectation of his people, verses 8, 9 who ordains peace for them, and works all their works in them verse 12 and has the sole dominion over them, verse 13. Now, at the time of the resurrection of the Messiah’s dead body from the grave, others were to arise with him, which was accordingly fulfilled in Jesus, for the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints, which slept, arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection. ( Matthew 27:52,53.)
Though these words may be rendered, Thy dead men shall live, as my dead body shall they arise, that is, either in the same way and manner as my dead body shall they arise; or, as sure as I shall arise, so sure shall they; agreeable hereunto, the resurrection of Jesus is both the exemplar and pledge of ours, for Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. ( 1 Corinthians 15:20.) Fourthly, As another proof, out of the Old Testament, that the Messiah was to rise from the dead, the apostles produce ( Acts 13:34.) Isaiah 55:3. I will give you the sure mercies of David. That the Messiah is here intended, appears very manifest from his name David, which name is frequently given to him; see Jeremiah 30:9. Ezekiel 34:23, Hosea 3:5. as also from his several offices in the following verse, where he is said to be given for a witness to the people, a leader and commander of them; which words, as well as the former, are by Aben Ezra and Kimchi understood of the Messiah; but the greatest difficulty is how this appears to be a pertinent proof of the Messiah’s resurrection from the dead; and therefore, in order to make it appear to be so, let it he observed, that by the sure mercies of David, are to be understood the blessings of the everlasting covenant, which the Messiah, by his death and sufferings, was to procure for all his people; but had he only died and not been raised from the dead, those blessings had not been ratified or made sure unto them; therefore, when God promises his people, that he will give them the sure mercies of David, or of the Messiah, he promises that the Messiah shall not only die to procure mercies for them, but that he shall rise again from the dead to make them sure to them. Fifthly, As the resurrection of the Messiah from the dead, was predicted by the prophets, so the very time thereof was fixed by them. Hence the writers of the New Testament, as they declare that Christ rose from the dead, according to the scriptures of the Old Testament, so they likewise declare, that he rose from the dead the third day, which scriptures referred to, according to these scriptures; f ( 1 Corinthians 15:4.) are not merely some typical predictions of the Old Testament, as that of Isaac’s deliverance on the third day, after he had been given up to death by his father, Genesis 22:4 and that of Jonah’s being three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, Jonah 1:17 compared with Matthew 12:40 though undoubtedly reference is made to them; but to a real prophecy, which in its literal and obvious sense is to be understood of this affair, The prophecy I have in view is Hosea 6:2.
The Targum understands the words of the resurrection of the dead; for of no other resurrection, but the resurrection of the Messiah, and of his people in him, can they, in their literal sense be understood; because the time, the third day, will agree with no other; whose coming is prophesied of in the following verse, as what would be very glorious in itself, and profitable to God’s people; besides it suits best with the scope of the place, which is to animate and encourage sinners to turn to the Lord, where they might expect healing, or pardon, through the promised Messiah, who by dying would obtain life for them, and by rising again the third day, procure their justification and acceptance with God, that so they might live in his sight; and the reason why it is expressed in the plural number, in the third day he will raise us up, was to encourage those persons to hope and believe in God, front the consideration of their sharing in the resurrection of the Messiah, and the several benefits which were to spring from thence, who was to arise from the dead, not as a single, but as a public person, representing all his people; so that when he was raised from the dead, they might be said to be raised up together with him; which is a phrase that the writers of the New Testament more than once make use of; see Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1. Now that Jesus rose from the dead, according to these prophecies of the Old Testament, as well as his own predictions, we have the most unquestionable evidence; that he really died, the Jews themselves make no doubt of it; that he rose from the dead, his disciples, with one mouth, asserted, ( Acts 1:3.)
To whom he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days:
So that they had all the opportunity they could desire, of satisfying themselves in this matter, some of them not being very credulous of it; they were men who perfectly knew him in his life-time, and after his resurrection eat and drank with him, saw the very prints of the nails and spear in his hands, feet, and side, handled his body, had views of him at several times, and a conversation with him for full forty days; and now, upon this ocular demonstration, they published it to the world, in doing of which they could have no sinister end to serve; for upon the score hereof, they were sure to meet with shame and reproach, afflictions and persecutions; nay, death itself, wherever they came. Besides, as they were men of probity, and integrity, who attested this with such plain evidence, so they were not a few; for it was not only two or three, nay, nor the twelve only, that saw him, but he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; ( 1 Corinthians 15:6.) and besides this human testimony, which in other matters of fact we should no ways scruple, we have that of an angel, Matthew 28:6 nay, of the Holy Ghost himself, for, says the apostle, speaking of Christ’s resurrection, ( Acts 5:32.)
And we are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hark given to them that obey him; which testimony he gave by the very large effusion of his gifts and graces upon men, as Jesus, in his life-time had promised. Nay, the vile methods which the Jews took to stifle the belief of the resurrection of Jesus, might easily be improved into an evidence of it, who hired the soldiers to say, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept; ( Matthew 28:13) which shews, that they were under a conviction of the truth of his resurrection, though they were not willing it should obtain in the world; besides, it is very improbable that the disciples, who were but a weak body of men, and now terrified and disheartened at the death of their master, should attempt to remove his body, when they knew there was a guard of soldiers about it; and if they did attempt it, why did not the soldiers hinder them, who certainly had it in their power? and if it should be said, as they did, they were asleep, what credit can be given to such a testimony? for if asleep, how should they know the disciples did it?
Nor have we less evidence of his rising again the third day; it was proper that he should continue in the grave for some time, that it might appear that he was really dead; though it was not convenient he should lie so long, as that his body should corrupt and putrify; because it was prophesied of him, that he should see no corruption; and whereas the third clay was fixed in prophecy for his rising from the dead, and which was the day he gave out he should rise on, so he accordingly did; for though there were but one whole day and two nights, between the death of Christ and his resurrection, yet it was on the third day from his death, that he rose again, the day on which he died being reckoned as one, and that on which he rose again another.
Now this article, of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, as it is a grand article of the Christian religion, for if a man believes in his hear, ( Romans 10:9.) that God hath raised him from the dead, he shall be saved; so it is an unquestionable evidence of Jesus’s being the true Messiah; this, Jesus gave as a sign thereof to the Jews, ( Matthew 12:38-40.) when they desired one of him, and it should be a satisfactory one to the Deist.
CHAPTER 12. Concerning the Ascension of the MESSIAH to Heaven, his session at God’s right hand, and second coming to judgment. THAT the Messiah was to suffer death, and rise again from the dead, according to the prophecies of the Old Testament, I have endeavored to prove in the two preceding chapters; my business in this will be, to shew that he was to ascend into Heaven, sit down at God’s right hand, and come a second time to judge the world in righteousness. First, I shall endeavor to prove from the prophecies of the Old Testament, that the Messiah, after his resurrection from the dead, was to ascend up into Heaven; and there are several prophecies which point out this unto us, particularly Psalm 47:5. God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet; which Psalm, both Kimchi and Aben Ezra acknowledge, belongs to the Messiah, who is very manifestly prophesied of in the glory of his regal majesty, and as exalted upon the throne of his holiness; and if it should be said, that these words are inapplicable to the ascension of Jesus into Heaven, because his ascension thither was not attended with a shout, or the sound of a trumpet; it may be replied, that if it be considered what the angels said to the disciples, who stood gazing at Jesus as he went up to Heaven, it will appear highly reasonable to conclude, that he went up with the shout of angels and the trumpet of God, for they tell them, ( Acts 1:11.), that this same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into Heaven. Now we are told, ( Thessalonians 4:16.) that he shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.
If therefore his ascent to Heaven was as his descent will be, then it was both with a shout and with the sound of a trumpet. Again, the Messiah’s ascension to Heaven might. be argued from his session at God’s right hand; for if he was not to ascend up into Heaven, he could never sit at God’s right hand there. That he was to sit at God’s right hand is manifest frown <19B001> Psalm 110:1. which cant, or be understood of David, or any other person, but the Messiah, as the apostle, from its literal and obvious sense, very strongly argues, saying, ( Acts 2:34.)
For David is not ascended into the Heavens, for he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand; but of this more hereafter.
Again, Daniel 7:13. where one like the son of man is said to come with clouds of Heaven, unto the Ancient of days, and to be brought near before him, may very well be understood of the Messiah’s ascension into Heaven, and his introduction into the presence of the Most High. That the Messiah is here intended by the son of man, many Jewish writers acknowledge, f260 and the word ynn[ Anani, which signifies clouds, in which the son of man is said to come, is from hence become among them a known name for the Messiah; and that this is to be understood of his ascension into Heaven, may easily be collected from his coming with the clouds of Heaven, which was literally fulfilled in Jesus, whom when he was taken up from the earth, a cloud received out of sight: from his being conducted by others to the Ancient of days, as Jesus was by angels into his Father’s presence: from that dominion, glory, and kingdom, which are said to be given him, in verse 14 which well agrees with the ascension of Jesus, who being exalted at God’s right hand, was made or declared to be both Lord and Christ, all which is certainly more agreeable to the literal sense of Daniel than what the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy advances, who, with Grotius by the son of man, understands the “Roman kingdom;” and by coming with the clouds of Heaven, “coming with a quick motion,” which is his literal sense of this prophecy.
Again, Micah 2:13. might be alledged, as a prophecy of the Messiah’s ascension into Heaven, where it is said, that The Breaker up is come up before them: they have broken up and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it, and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them.
The Jews understand this of the Messiah, which may be very aptly applied to Jesus, who is gone up and entered into heaven as prodro>mov, the fore-runner for his people, having broken up the way, removed all difficulties out of it, and opened the gates of heaven for them.
But that which most clearly of all expresses the ascension of the Messiah into heaven is Psalm 68:18.
The design of this Psalm is to prove, that the presence of God among his people is always useful and salutary to them, though to the confusion and destruction of their enemies, which the Psalmist expresses in verse 1-5 which he proves by an induction of particular instances under the legal dispensation, beginning at verse 7 and ending at verse 14 and from thence proceeds to set forth the glory and security of the gospel church, from the presence of Jehovah in it, verse 15, 16 who is described by his magnificent retinue, even thousands of angels verse 17 by his triumphant ascension into Heaven, verse 18 and by his being the author of salvation, verse 19, 20 the whole of which description entirely agrees with the Messiah; and particularly what is said of this person’s ascending on high, can be understood of no other; not of Moses’s ascending up to the firmament at the giving of the Law, as the Targum and Jarchi interpret it, for though Moses ascended to the top of mount Sinai, yet we no where read that he went up to the firmament of Heaven; nor is it to be understood of David’s going up to the high fortresses of his enemies, as Aben Ezra would have it, which sense is both jejune and impertinent; or of God’s ascent from mount Sinai when he gave the Law, of which ascent there is not any mention made in scripture; but of the Messiah’s ascension into Heaven, which may very well be signified by this phrase on high; see <19A219> Psalm 102:19, Jeremiah 25:30. which ascension is not to be understood figuratively, as Genesis 17:22. but literally, it being real, local, and visible, as that of Jesus’s was. Besides, the circumstances which were to attend this cension, manifestly shew this to be the sense of the words, as his leading captivity captive, which well expresses the Messiah’s triumphant conquests over all his enemies, and had its full accomplishment in Jesus, who made an end of sin, abolishes death, and spoiled principalities and powers, and made a shew of them openly, and having so done, went up, as a triumphant conquerer to heaven, where he received the promise of the Holy Ghost, that is, the several gifts and graces of the Spirit in their fullness, and bestowed them upon men, even rebellious ones, whereby they became a fit habitation for God, that he might dwell with them and they with him; and thus the other circumstance which was to attend the ascension of this person, namely, his receiving gifts for men, had its completion in the Messiah, Jesus. The apostle, in citing those words, Ephesians 4:8 and applying them to Jesus, renders this last clause somewhat different from what it is in the original text, and instead of received gifts for men, reads it, and gave gifts to men; though the Jews have no reason to quarrel with it as they do, for their own Targum renders it after the same manner, the Hebrew word signifying both to give and to receive; nor is there any disagreement in sense; the Messiah was to receive these gilts, in order to give them to men; accordingly Jesus, having received them, did so. The words, as they stand in the Psalms, are a prophecy of what the Messiah was to do, but as cited by the apostle, are a narration of what Jesus had done.
From the whole it appears, that the Messiah was to ascend into Heaven, according to the prophecies of the Old Testament, which had their fulfillment in Jesus, who, as he before-hand declared that he should ascend into Heaven, actually did so, of which his disciples were eye-witnesses; he also being seen of angels, and accompanied by them, was received up into glory, where he ever lives to make intercession for his people. I proceed, Secondly, To shew that the Messiah, upon his ascension into Heaven, was to sit down at God’s right hand. He is called the man of God’s right hand, Psalm 80:17. and that not only because he is most dear to God, as Benjamin was to his father, and therefore was called by him the son of the right hand; nor because that by him he sustains and upholds all things, nor because he was strengthened and supported by God’s right hand in performing the work of salvation; but because, being exalted by it, he was made to sit down at it, which is in so many words expressed in Psalm 80:17.
That the Jews, in the times of Jesus, understood this Psalm of the Messiah, is manifest from the discourse which passed between him and them concerning the Messiah: He first asks them, ( Matthew 22:42-46.) What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? To which they readily reply, The son of David. To this he objects, How then does David in spirit call him Lord? and for the proof thereof, produces this very text, The Lord said unto my Lord, etc. from whence he argues, If then David call him Lord, how is he his son? which nonplussed them, and threw them into the utmost confusion; for no man was able to answer him a word. Now had it been the generally received sense of the Jewish synagogue, at this time, that this Psalm was to be understood of some other person, and not the Messiah, they could very easily have objected it to him: but Jesus seems to argue with them from what was agreed on, on all hands, and of which there could be no dispute among them: namely, that this Psalm was wrote by David; that it was wrote by him tinder the inspiration of the Spirit; and that the Messiah was the subject thereof: and, indeed, they by their silence acknowledge it; for had they not believed it, they would not have been reduced to the distress they were; nay, even some of their most celebrated Doctors since, have confessed the same, though others, observing what confusion their forefathers were thrown into from hence by Jesus, and what improvement his followers have made of it since, for the vindication and establishment of their religion, have quitted the sense of the old synagogue, and introduced strange and foreign ones, which are inconsistent with themselves, and have no manner of foundation in the Psalm. Some of them would have Abraham the patriarch to be the subject thereof, and that it was composed, either by Melchizedek, or Eliezer the servant of Abraham, or else by David, on account of the victory Abraham obtained over the kings, Genesis 14 in rescuing his kinsman Lot. But Melchizedek could not be the author of it, because he was a far greater person than Abraham; he blessed him, and received tithes from him, and therefore could not call him his Lord. It is true Eliezer might, as being his servant, but then he could not assign unto him a seat at the right hand of God; nor say of him, that he had an everlasting priesthood after the order of Melchizedek: Besides, the Psalm is a Psalm of David, though not composed by him on this account, for the very same reasons. Others would have David intended, but David was the penman of this Psalm, and therefore cannot be supposed to say so of himself; and whereas some of them say, that it was wrote by some of the singers, concerning him, it may be replied, that the title declares the contrary. Besides, David, is not ascended into the Heavens, neither is he set down at the right hand of God, nor had he any thing to do with the priesthood, much less was he a priest after Melchizedek’s order; which is peculiar to the Messiah Jesus, who was made an high-priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek, ( Hebrews 6:20.) of whose kingdom and priesthood, sufferings and exaltation, his conquests over his enemies, and success of his gospel, this Psalm is a very plain and manifest prophecy. The person speaking in this first verse, is Jehovah, the father; the person spoken to is David’s Adon, or Lord, the promised Messiah, whom the Jews, in Malachi 3:1 sought, and whose coming they earnestly desired. What is said unto him, is, that he was to sit at God’s right hand, which is expressive of his exaltation, power and authority; the time how long, is until he made his enemies his footstool; that is, until they are all subdued under him, and the last enemy which shall be destroyed, is death.
Now that Jesus is set down at God’s right hand, the writings of the New Testament constantly affirm. Jesus himself, before the high-priest, declared, that they should see the Son of man, ( Matthew 26:64.) meaning himself, sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven; and his apostles do frequently aver, that he is set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Nay, Stephen saw him standing there, being risen from his seat, as one provoked at the indignity offered to his servant; otherwise his usual posture is to sit; which signifies, that he has done his work, which has been graciously accepted, and is now taking his rest, ease, and pleasure, being placed upon the same throne with God, and crowned by him with glory and honor, where he will continue to sit, for the advantage of his church and people, until he comes a second time to judge the world, which I shall, in the next place, Thirdly, consider. That there will be a future judgment, we have no controversy with the Jews, and it might easily be established, from the very reason of things against the Deists. The Jews suppose a revelation of this truth very early in the world; yea, that this notion obtained as early as the times of Cain and Abel, making the reason of their disagreement to be their differing sentiments about it, which was the cause of that tragical and barbarous action which Cain committed. However, it is certain, that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of the day of judgment, (Jude 14, 15.) and the writings of the Old Testament abundantly confirm the truth of it, where God is frequently represented as a judge, and the persons to be judged, both the righteous and wicked, ( Ecclesiastes 3:17.) are very evidently pointed out, as well as the several things which shall be brought into judgment, as every kind of work, whether it be good or whether it be evil, ( Ecclesiastes 11:9, Ecclesiastes 12:14.) nay, the several issues and events thereof, as the everlasting happiness of the saints, and perpetual punishment of the wicked; yea, the glory, majesty, form, and manner of this awful procedure are exactly described, as the setting of the judgment, the placing of the thrones, the majestic appearance of the judge, his vast retinue, the large number of persons that shall stand before him to be judged, and the opening of the books, from whence they are to be judged; see Daniel 7:9,10. compared with Revelation 20:11,12.
Now the person who is to have the conduct and management of this awful affair, is the Messiah, who is often spoken of as a judge in the Old Testament, and as every way qualified for such a work, being a person of great knowledge and wisdom, ( Isaiah 11:2-5.) courage and majesty, having the fear of God before his eyes, of very great sagacity and penetration, as well as of very great integrity and faithfulness, of whom it is prophesied in Psalm 98:9 that he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity; which Psalm solely belongs to the Messiah. Kimchi ( Psalm 93:1.) says, that all the Psalms, from the ninety-third Psalm to the hundredth Psalm inclusive, belong to the days of the Messiah, and the several arguments of them will easily evince it. Jarehi endeavors to prove, ( Psalm 96:1.) that the ninety-sixth Psalm, which is of the same nature with this, beginning and ending in the same manner, regards future times; because it thus concludes, for he cometh to judge the earth; and adds, that wherever mention is made of a new song, it is dyt[j l[ concerning the time to come, or relates to the times of the Messiah; and R. Abendana says, the reason of those metaphorical expressions being used in verse 4-8 is, because of the greatness of that joy which shall be in the days of the Messiah; which is justly occasioned by those marvellous things which he has done, in redeeming his people, and those conquests which he has obtained over all his and their enemies, verse 1. as also, by making his salvation known, and openly shewing his righteousness to the Gentiles, as well as to the house of Israel, verse 2, 3. which exactly suits with the Messiah, and has had its fulfillment in Jesus; that this is to be understood of his second coming, and not of his first, may be concluded from the end thereof, which is to judge the earth; but the end of his first coming was not to judge the world, ( John 12:47.) but to save it. Moreover, in the parallel text to this, in Psalm 96:13. this phrase is repeated, for he cometh, for he cometh, to judge the earth; which may be designed to denote either his second coming, or the certainty thereof, or else the speed and haste he would make in coming, as Jesus says, Surely I come quickly, ( Revelation 22:20.) to which John replies, Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus. Again, as the first coming of the Messiah was matter of great joy to all those who waited for the consolation of Israel, so will his second coming be to all those who love and look for his glorious appearing; at or about which time many of the prophecies of the Old Testament, which now remain unfulfilled, will have their full accomplishment, for which the people of God, under the present dispensation, are looking, waiting and praying.
CHAPTER 13. Concerning the magnificent and august names and titles of the MESSIAH in the Old Testament.
I THOUGHT to have concluded this account of the prophecies of the Old Testament, respecting the Messiah, with the preceding chapter; but observing some prophecies left unconsidered, which contain some of the famous names and titles of the Messiah, I thought it necessary to take notice of them, and especially, seeing they are objected to, by the enemies of Christianity: I have already, in the course of this work, considered several of the names and titles of the Messiah, by which he is called in the prophecies, as that of Shiloh, the Savior or Peace-maker, Genesis 49:10 Immanuel, or God with us, Isaiah 7:14 Messiah the Prince, Daniel 9:21 the desire of all nations, Haggai 2:7 all which several titles serve to set forth the greatness of his person, as well as his very great usefulness to mankind, as do also the following ones, which I now intend to consider; and shall begin, First, With Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
The ancient Jews applied this prophecy to the Messiah. Their ridiculous traditions, recorded in their Talmud, of God’s desire to make Hezekiah the Messiah, and Senacherib, Gog and Magog; and that saying of R. Hillell’s, “That Israel should not have a Messiah, because they enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah,” shew plainly that that they were under a conviction of this prophecy’s belonging to him, though they foolishly attempt to wrest it to Hezekiah, whom they are therefore obliged to make the Messiah. The Targum manifestly refers those words to the Messiah, as do also others of their ancient and later writers; though others of them would have Hezekiah intended, who are herein followed by Grotius, and the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy, who says “The words are manifestly spoken of him;” but Hezekiah surely can never be this rly this new-born babe, as the word properly signifies, when he was at least nine or ten years of age, when this prophecy was given forth; nor can any reason be assigned, why he should, in such a peculiar and unusual manner, be called ˆb a son; nor can it be said of him that he was that great light which shined upon the inhabitants of Galilee; nor was his birth the occasion of so great joy, as the birth of this child is said to be; nor can it with any justness be said of Hezekiah, that of the increase of his government and peace there was no end, seeing his government extended only to the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin his reign was but twenty-nine years, and that for the most part attended with affliction, oppression and war; besides, the august titles, here used, cannot be ascribed to him, or to any mere creature whatever; for as R. Sol. ben Melech on the place observes, they are drbty lal µyywnb “the names of the blessed God,” which Kimchi and Jarchi acknowledge, and therefore are forced to transpose the words thus, and he who is the wonderful Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, shall call his name, The Prince of Peace; so that only this last is the name of the child, and all the rest are the names of God, who calls him so. But this reading is a violent distortion of the text, and if such a method was allowed of, we should be left to a very great uncertainty in the sacred writings. “It is contrary to the use of the scripture, (as a learned man observes, ) that the word wmç , his name, should be placed before the name of him that calleth, when every where else it is placed between the name of him that calleth, and him that is called; so that that name which follows the word wtç , his name, is always ascribed to him that is called, and not to him that calleth, as appears from Genesis 16:15, Genesis 21:3, Genesis 23:14, Exodus 2:22, Ruth 4:17, 1 Samuel 1:20, 2 Samuel 12:5.”
This reading is also contrary to the very syntax of the words, for if they were to be read thus, there should have been ta the sign of the accusative case, before µwlç rç the Prince of Peace, to have distinguished it from those several nominatives; whereas there is not: It is moreover contrary to the accents, for there is only a Tiphca on r[ yba the everlasting Father, which is no distinguishing accent, especially in propositions; and often idle and does not distinguish at all, but serves only to carry on the sentence to the next member. It would have appeared more plausible, if the stop had been made at rwbg la the mighty God; for a Sakeph Katon is there, which is an accent of far greater power, but this would not answer their end; for they would be under an equal difficulty, in applying the title of the everlasting Father to Hezekiah, as that of the mighty God. Besides, what reason can be given, why the great God should have so many titles and epithets given unto him, and that only at the giving of a name to a young Prince? What was there in Hezekiah that should require this, especially when we consider, that when God has either given new names to persons, or changed their old ones, who were as famous as ever Hezekiah was, and as much in the divine favor, yet he never used such a way of speaking as this.
What the Jews think will much help them in this sense and reading of the words, is, that arqyw is in the active, and not in the passive form, and therefore should be rendered, and he shall call his name, etc. and not as we render it, and his name shall be called, etc. on which account, they are ready to charge us with a corruption of the text. To which I answer, it is true, the word is in the active form; but yet, nothing is more frequent in the Hebrew language, than for verbs active of the third person, to be used passively, when the nominative is not expressed; and this is the very manifest sense of this word in many places; see Genesis 16:14 Samuel 2:16 Isaiah 62:2. Besides, this word is rendered in the passive sense, in this very text, both by the Targum, and by several versions made by the Jews themselves; though, if we understand the word actively, it no ways prejudices the application of those several names to the Messiah; for it is very easy to supply the nominative case, either thus, Jehovah, or God the Father shall call, etc. or thus, and every one shall call his name Wonderful, etc.
From the whole it appears, that all, and every one of those titles, belong to one and the same person, even to the child or Son, here spoken of, which Aben Ezra acknowledges to be the true sense of the words; but how they can, with any justness, be applied to Hezekiah, or be thought to be manifestly spoken of him, I cannot apprehend; for will it be sufficient to say, with the above sam Jewish writer, that he was called Wonderful, because of the miracles which God wrought in his days; Counsellor, because he consulted with his princes about keeping the passover in the second month, 2 Chronicles 30:2. the mighty God, becacause he was strong and powerful; the everlasting Father, or Father of Eternity, because the kingdom of the house of David was continued somewhat longer for his sake; and the Prince of Peace, because there was peace in his days? Surely it cannot be thought sufficient to entitle him to the name of Wonderful, that God did, in his days, and for his sake, cause the sun to return ten degrees; nor could he be called so on the account of his eminent virtues, which did not shine more brightly in him than in many others. Nor is it enough to say, that he was the Counsellor, because he took counsel with others, but was not a counsellor of others, often wanted counsel himself, and therefore sometimes acted a foolish part, as in the case of his shewing the ambassadors of Babylon all his treasures; much less could he be called the mighty God, or the strong One, because of his might, power, and prowess in war, when we read but of one single exploit of his, of this kind, which could be any indication of it, and that is, his smiting the Philistines unto Gaza, and the borders thereof; 2 Kings 8:8 Though afterwards we read, that the King of Assyria came and took all his fenced cites, and obliged him to pay a considerable tribute to him; nor ought he to be called the everlasting Father, or Father of Eternity, who himself lived but four and fifty years, and the regal power of his posterity, in a few years, ended in Zedekiah; nor can I see how he can well be called the Prince of Peace, who was frequently distressed and oppressed by his enemies, his reign was chiefly spent in war, and can be supposed only to enjoy peace towards the close thereof.
But now the whole prophecy, and the several names given to this child, well agree with the Messiah; it is he, whose conversation in Galilee of the nations would make it glorious, as has been elsewhere observed, at whose coming light would shine upon the inhabitants thereof; whose birth would produce a joy like the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil; whose deliverance of people from the yoke of slavery, would not be effected in a common way, but as in the day of Midian, when Gideon, in such an incredible and extraordinary manner, delivered the Israelites: for this victory which he, the Messiah, was to obtain over all his enemies, would not be, like the victory of other warriors, attended with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood, but would be ça tlbam hprçl htyhw like to the burning of devouring fire, effected suddenly, in a moment, and without any noise, blood, or wounds; which same person, being placed upon the throne of David, would bear the government upon his shoulder, wield the scepter in righteousness, and increase the peace of all his subjects. He might well be called Wonderful, because he was to be born of a virgin, Isaiah 7:14 Counsellor, because the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, was to rest upon him, Isaiah 11:2. the mighty God, because the Adon, the mighty Lord, who sits at God’s right hand, and rules in the midst of his enemies, having obtained a compleat victory over them, <19B001> Psalm 110:1,2,5,6 the everlasting Father, because he was to see his seed, and to prolong his days, Isaiah 53:10 the Prince of Peace, because he was to be the man, the peace, who was to speak peace to the Heathen, abundance of which was to be in his days, Micah 5:5, Zechariah 9:10, Psalm 72:3,7.
Now, how well also these names suit the Messiah, Jesus, is easy to observe, who may well be called Wonderful, on the account of his extraordinary and wonderful conception and birth, as well as on the account of the many surprising miracles which were wrought by him; and if we regard him both as God and man, having two natures, human and divine, united in one person, he will appear to be alp , a wonder, a miracle. With as good reason also may he be called Counsellor megalhv boulhv aggelov, the angel of the great counsel, as the Septuagint reader it, who was always with God; was privy to all his designs, counsels and purposes; was consulted by him in all the works of his hands, as creation and redemption; is the wisdom of God, and has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hid in him, and therefore a very proper person to give advice and counsel to his people. No less does he deserve the title and character of the mighty God, who has spoiled principalities and powers, subdued all his and his people’s enemies, procured everlasting salvation for sinners, and is able to save, to the uttermost, them that come unto God by him; very agreeably may he be called, the everlasting Father, or the Father of the age to come, pathr tou mellontov aiwnov, as the words are rendered by the Septuagint: for the hbh µlw[ the world to come, God has not put in subjection to angels, ( Hebrews 2:5.) but has made it the care and charge, and put it under the government and conduct of his Son, Jesus Christ, at whose coming this new age, or world, began, and therefore he may well be called the Father of it. And, to conclude this, nothing can more fully and aptly express the temper of his mind, the nature of his work, and the diffusive blessings of his goodness to the sons of men, than when he is called the Prince of Peace.
These things being considered, the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy, with Grotius and the Jews, will have little reason to conclude, that these “words are manifestly spoken of Hezekiah ,” but rather conclude, that they are manifestly spoken of Jesus the Messiah; nor will the Jew have any reason, in that audacious and insulting manner, to say, as he does, “That it is impossible that Jesus should be called by those names; for, says he, how can his name be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, when a foolish disciple of his knew his counsels, even so as to deliver him unto his enemies? And how can he be called the mighty God, who was slain? Moreover, how can he be called the everlasting Father, who died before he had lived out half his days?
Besides, how can he be called the Prince of Peace, in whose days there was no peace, for as he himself testifies, saying, I am not come to give peace on earth, but a sword? ” all which, with what spite and malice, want of truth, as well as with what folly and ignorance they are spoken, may easily be collected from what has been already said concerning Jesus, and the application of this prophecy to him. I proceed, Secondly, to consider, Jeremiah 23:6 where we have an account of another of the Messiah’s names, the words are these, In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is his name, whereby he shall be called, the Lord our righteousness.
The person intended in those words, is undoubtedly the same, who in the preceding verse is called, The Righteous Branch, and is promised to be raised up unto David, which not only the Targum understands of the Messiah, and therefore thus paraphrases it, I will raise up unto David, Messiah the righteous, but also many other Jewish writers. Grotius, indeed, would have Zerobabel intended, but that cannot be, for though Zerobabel was a branch of David’s family, yet he never was king over Judah and Israel; nor were those people in such a very safe, secure, and prosperous condition, in his days; and though he was no doubt a righteous person, yet was he not so by way of eminency, nor was his name The Lord our righteousness, neither can any reason be given; why he should be called so. But every thing agrees well with the Messiah, who was frequently promised, and always expected as a king, in whose hand the pleasure of the Lord should prosper, and by whom justice and judgment should be executed in the earth; for righteousness was to be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins; Israel was to be saved in him with an everlasting salvation; he was to be just, or righteous, in himself, and to bring in everlasting righteousness for others, whereby he was to justify many; so that it is no wonder, that his name should be called, The Lord our righteousness, which name the Messiah Jesus well deserves, seeing he is become the end of the Law for righteousness, to every one that believes, and is of God, made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
Abarbinel thinks that wnqdx hwjy , The Lord our righteousness, is not the name of the Messiah, but the name of God, who calls the Messiah the righteous Branch; but this sense is contrary to the natural position of the words, and can never be supported without a violent torturing of the text. R. Saadiah Gaon is for separating hwjy the Lord, from wnqdx our righteousness; he is willing to allow, that wnqdx our righteousness, is the name of the Messiah, but then he would have hwjy Jehovah to be the name of God, who calls him so; but such a division of the words is contrary to the accents, which R. Aben Ezra opposes unto him, and says, that he would never hare attempted such a division of the words, and had he observed that the accent Tiphca is upon warqy he shall call him, or he shall be called, which divides it from hwhy , Jehovah, and that the accent Merca is upon hwhy Jehovah, which unites it to wnqdx , our righteousness; this observation sufficiently confirms our version of this text.
There is one thing more I would just observe, before I dismiss this prophecy, and that is, that the word warqy which we translate passively, shall be called, is in the active form, and may be rendered, shall call him, as it is both by the Targum and Septuagint, though, as has been observed on the preceding prophecy, verbs active of the third person, when the nominative to them is not expressed, as here, are often used passively; but if the active sense should be insisted on, it is easy to supply it, either thus, everyone shall call him, etc. or thus, God shall call him, etc. or thus, as Kimchi and others, Israel shall call him, The Lord our righteousness.
From the whole it appears, that this prophecy belongs to the Messiah, and admits of a very easy application to Jesus. Thirdly, The next prophecy of this kind, which I shall consider, is Zechariah 6:12. And speak unto him, that is, to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lords of Hosts, saying, Behold the man, whose name is the Branch, and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.
The same person is spoken of under the same title and character in chapter 3:8 For behold I will bring forth my servant the Branch, which the Targum paraphrases thus, Behold I will bring forth my servant the Messiah; and has been so understood by many Jewish interpreters. I have, in considering the former prophecy, observed, that the Messiah is called the righteous Branch in Jeremiah 23:5. as he is also in chapter 33:15 and in Isaiah 4:2 it is said, In that day shall the Branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious; which the Targum renders thus, At that time the Messiah of the Lord shall be for joy and glory: and so Kimchi expounds it of him. Once more, the Messiah is in Isaiah 11:1 called, a Branch, which should grow out of Jesse’s root. Thus we see, that this name, the Branch, is very frequently given to the Messiah, and perhaps, some reference is made to this name in <19D217> Psalm 132:17. where it is said, There will I make the horn of David to bud; I hare ordained a lamp for mine Anointed.
And it is certain the Jews have so understood it, who, in their prayers for the Messiah’s coming, frequently express themselves after this manner, f284 “O God make the horn of thy servant David to bud, and ordain a lamp for the son of Jesse, thy Messiah, in haste, in our days.”
The author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy indeed says, from Grotius to White, “That Esay, Jeremy, and Zechary, do not, by their use of the term branch, mean to signify the Messias; but the Jews in captivity in one place, namely Isaiah 4:2. Hezekiah in another, Isaiah 11:1. Zerobabel in three other places, namely, Jeremiah 23:5. Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12.” though he offers nothing in proof thereof. As to Isaiah 4:2. it is much more likely that the Messiah is intended than the Jews in captivity; for what great beauty and glory appeared in them, even when they returned from thence? Nay, this branch of the Lord, and fruit of the earth, is manifestly distinguished from them that are escaped from Israel, and him that is left in Zion. The beauty and glory predicted of this branch, best agrees with the Messiah; as do also the blessings promised in the following verses; such as the sanctification, washing away the filth, purging the blood of God’s people, and the protection and glory of them. That Hezekiah cannot be intended in Isaiah 11:1. I have already proved in a preceding chapter; for he must be born some years before this prophecy was given forth; and that Zerobabel is not Jeremy’s righteous Branch in chapter 23:5. I think I have sufficiently made appear; and shall now attempt to prove, that the Messiah, and not he, is intended by Zechary, when he says, Behold the man, whose name is the Branch. The Targum reads it, Behold the man, whose name is the Messiah. Jarchi says, there are some who interpret it of the king Messiah; which interpretation R. Abendana strenuously contends for; and which is the sense of some of their ancient writers; and that it is the true sense, may be pretty easily collected from the context. This person was to be both a king and priest; he shall sit and rule upon his throne, and he shall be a priest upon his throne. Zerobabel was neither king nor priest, the Messiah both. This person was to build the temple of the Lord, and to bear the glory: Not a third temple, which the Jews vainly expect; nor the second temple, built by Zerobabel, from whence so much glory did not arise to the builder of it, it being mean and contemptible, in comparison of that of Solomon’s; but the church of God, which is the temple of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth, which was to be built in a very glorious manner, in the days of the Messiah, and was to consist of Jews and Gentiles; for they that were afar off, that is, the Gentiles, were to come and build in the temple of the Lord, and so the counsel of peace was between them both; that is, Jew and Gentile, which was exactly fulfilled by the Messiah Jesus, who made peace between them both, incorporated them both into one building, of which he himself is the corner stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also, ( Ephesians 2:14,17.) that is, ye Ephesians, ye Gentiles, are builded together, with the Jews, for an habitation of God through the Spirit; and now he bears all the glory of it. Once more, this person was not as yet grown up out of his place, but it is promised that he should, which cannot be true of Zerobabel, who was already grown up, and had been for some time actually engaged in building the second temple, as appears from Haggai’s prophecy. The Messiah then, and not Zerobabel, is the person intended, whose name may well be called the Branch, by way of eminency, he being the most glorious branch of David’s family, who also was to spring from thence, when that family was only like a root in a dry ground; all which well agrees with the state of that family in the times of Jesus, and with that very mean appearance, which he made, when he, this branch, first budded forth from thence. The Septuagint here render the word hmx , the Branch, by anatolh , which properly signifies the rising of the sun, or that part of the heaven where the sun rises, and so may respect the Messiah as the sun of righteousness, who was to arise with healing in his wings. Hence Zacharias in his song, calls the Messiah Jesus ( Luke 1:78.) anatolh ex uyouv , the dayspring from on high, who hath visited us: and from hence, perhaps, Oriens was used for a name of the Messiah: and it is not without some shew of reason, that some have thought this to be the meaning of the word in Tacitus, when he says, Pluribus persuasio inerat, antiquis sacerdotum literis continero, eo ipsi tempore fore, ut valesceret oriens, “many were persuaded that in the ancient books of the priests were contained a prophecy, that at that time the east should prevail.” In fine, the Messiah is the man whose name is the Branch, so often spoken of by the prophets, so much expected by the Jews, and who budded forth in the person of Jesus. I shall conclude all with the words of Zacharias, ( Luke 1:68 etc.)
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spake by the mouth of all his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant auto us; that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.