A Rabbi's Impressions of the Oberammergau Passion Play, by Joseph Krauskopf, , at sacred-texts.com
p. 154 p. 155
What of the Old Testament Prophecies of Christ?
"Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come and let us go to the seer; for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a seer."1 Samuel IX, 9.
"And Moses said unto him, Art thou zealous for my sake? Would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!"Numbers XI, 29.
"Before me there was no God formed, and after me there will be none. I, I am the Lord, and beside me there is no saviour."Isaiah XLIII, 10-11.
"I am Jehovah. . . I will not give my glory to any other nor my praise to graven images."Isaiah XLII, 8.
"Search the Scriptures."St. John v, 39.
"Where are the signs fulfilled whereby all men
Should know the Christ? Where is the wide-winged peace?
Shielding the Lamb within the Lion's den?
The freedom broadening with the wars that cease?
Do foes clasp hands in brotherhood again?"
EMMA LAZARUS, An Epistle, XXV.
IT scarcely needed the word peace under the beautiful medallion over the entrance of this House of Worship. The master-hand of Ezekiel, the sculptor, has written itAn emblem of peace made a cause of war. on every figure there portrayed, and the master-mind of Isaiah, the prophet, has stamped it upon every lineament of that peaceful group of lion and lamb lying side by side, and of little child toying unharmed with the asp. Upon mature reflection, however,
we perceive that there was a good reason for hewing the word peace, in bold and legible letters, under this emblem of the white-winged daughter of God. The letters, aided by the sculptor, may possibly prevent a further misapprehension of the prophet's words. For, though meant to convey lessons of peace, they have hitherto been the cause of little else than discord; though uttered to imbue the hearts of men with love for their fellow men, they have filled them instead with cruel hatred; though set up as a goal of man's striving after universal peace, man increased the distance between it and himself by making this picture of the prophet the cause of one of the bitterest strifes that has ever separated two peoples. One people saw in this picture the foreshadowing of a Messianic Age that some day is to dawn; the other people saw therein a prophecy of the very labors wrought, and the very blessings inaugurated, by the Messiah who had come.
It needs not my telling which of these two peoples believed that the Messiah had come, Messianic prophecies differently interpreted by Christian and Jew.and which believed that the Messianic Age had not yet dawned; which believed that universal peace, as pictured in the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, came with the Messiah, and which believed that it is still far distant,
and is still to be striven for; which of the two persecuted, and which suffered persecution because of its inability to believe in a Saviour who had not saved, in a Redeemer who had not redeemed, in a Messenger of Peace and Good Will, who had innocently become the cause of more suffering than it had ever experienced prior to his coming.
It is true the Jews rejected the Messiah-ship claimed for the Nazarene Rabbi, but not for the reason generally assigned by Christians. It was not blindness that prevented their seeing the "Light of the World," it was their clear-sightedness that rendered it impossible for them to regard the Galilean teacher in any other light than that of a pious Rabbi, than that of a noble patriot and martyr.
It was not a lack of faith that made them spurn the "Son of God," it was their abundant faith in their monotheism that forbade them to believe in, and to pay reverence to, any other but the God Jehovah. It was not ignorance that prevented their seeing in the life and deeds of Jesus the fulfilment of the prophets' predictions, it was their scholarly acquaintance with the Scriptures, their intimate knowledge of the genius of their language, of the idiom and style and poetic flights and figurative rhapsodies of their bards and prophets, that made them interpret Old Testament passages differently from the New
[paragraph continues] Testament writers of the early centuries of our present era. The latter's knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures was either derived from faulty Greek translations or from Gentile missionaries, who had a very imperfect or a very perverted knowledge of the Hebrew tongue and of Jewish history and institutions.
This defense of the Jew is liable to a serious charge. It casts a doubt upon the Let the Scriptures decide.scholarship of the founders of Christianity. We find ourselves in a peculiar dilemma. A defense of the Christian involves an attack on the Jew. A defense of the Jew involves an attack on the Christian. Our love for our cause makes us eager to see our name cleared of a false accusation. Our love of justice makes it a sacred duty not to say or do aught that might reflect discredit on the name and faith of the Christian.
There is but one way out of the difficulty, and that is to let the Scriptures speak for themselves, to analyze the so-called Old Testament Messianic predictions of Christ, to investigate the history of the times, the state of society, and the modes of thought, during the periods in which their authors wrote or spoke, and then, in the light of the result of these researches, examine the Messiahship claimed for Jesus.
Since there is quite a number of such so-called
[paragraph continues] Messianic predictions in the Old Testament, and since our time is limited, we can devote ourselves to an analysis of but a few. We shall therefore take up, first of all, the generally claimed richest source of Christologythe prophet Isaiah. We shall investigate a few of his strongest Messianic predictions to see whether he speaks of things that had happened or were happening, or were about to happen in his own time, or whether he predicts a state of affairs to be fulfilled, about eight hundred years later, in the days of Jesus sojourn on earth.
We turn to the King James Version of the Book of Isaiah, and from among the chapters indicated by their headings as foretelling the coming of Christ we select the following:
I.ISAIAH 7: 14-16. . . . 14. Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
II.ISAIAH 9: 6, 7. 6. For unto us a child is born, unto us 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. 7. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
III.ISAIAH 11: 1-9. 1. And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2. And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. 3. And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall
not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears. 4. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cocatrice's den. 9. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
IV.ISAIAH 42: 1-7. I. Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. 2. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. 5. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein. 6. I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. 7. To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
V.ISAIAH 53: 1-12. 1. who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2. For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4. Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to
the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, and he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
You are puzzled at the striking applicableness of these texts to the life of Jesus, as portrayed in the gospels. You wonderRemarkable resemblance between Isaiah and gospels. whether they are not really prophecies, which found their fulfilment, several hundred years later, in the Nazarene preacher. You wonder also how, in the face of such remarkable utterances, the Jews, as a body, could refuse, and can still refuse, to accept him for their Messiah to whom the foretold signs and characteristics apply so faithfully.
There is good reason for such surprise and for such thoughts. The Messiah of the Evangelists certainly answers in manyResemblance invites examination. respells the language of Isaiah. But enter with me into an inquiry as to when the cited texts were written, and by whom, and with what end in view, into an investigation as to the kind of Messiah the Jews expected, and
as to what they understood under the terms prophet and prophecy, and the words of Isaiah will lose much of their mystery, and you will see the reason for the Jews rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.
At the very outset, we must bear in mind that at the time of Isaiah the terms prophet True meaning of the word Prophet given.and prophecy and prophesying had a different meaning from what they have since acquired. Etymologically, the verb in Hebrew simply means to bubble, to pour forth, to utter fluent speech, and, hence, the noun designates the speaker, the preacher, the pleader, the interpreter, the counselor, the admonisher, the poet, the rhapsodist. The English meaning of these terms kept tolerably close to their Biblical use, for we have it on the authority of Dean Stanley, that, as far down as the seventeenth century, they were used in the sense of preaching or speaking. From that time on they acquired the Greek meaning, that of "foreseeing or foretelling future events." In Biblical times, however, that meaning was foreign. Aaron, Miriam, Deborah, were named respectively prophet and prophetesses because of their power of speech and song. Moses, Elijah, Elisha, were named prophets, yet foretelling of events to happen hundreds of years after their death is not mentioned among their accomplishments. The ancient Chaldean paraphrases (Targumim)
of the Old Testament books, adhere to the original meaning of these terms, as do many of the Jewish mediæval commentators. Moses even cautions his people against following "foretelling" prophets, as the Heathens do, and warns them against believing in them, even if their signs and wonders come to pass.
The functions of the Biblical prophets were plainly those of preachers and scribes, of reformers and exhorters, of statesmen andProphet only deals with present. patriots. They were the counselors of kings when these governed justly, and their bitterest opponents when these tyrannized the people. They were the coadjutors of the priests when these ministered righteously, and their relentless foes when these degraded their calling. When their services were not needed, they generally withdrew from the world, and, in their seclusions, surrendered themselves to profound meditations and ecstatic reveries on thoughts and matters uppermost in their own or in the people's minds. But, when there was work for them to do, they were on hand, and the suddenness of their appearance, the strangeness of their attire, the fervor of their speech, the depth of their emotions, the profundity of their thought, the clearness of their vision, the boldness of their denunciations, the grandeur of their tropes and allegories, awed
the people, and inclined many to look upon them as beings divinely endowed, and to accept their messages as oracles.
This then is clear, that the "foreseeing and foretelling of future events" was not a Foretelling not function of prophet.characteristic of the Biblical prophets. We have, therefore, no historical and no logical right to torture the words of Isaiah into a prophecy of something to happen hundreds of years after his death, when, by the very limitations of human finiteness, they could not possibly have applied to any other events save such as took place during or prior to his time, or were expected soon to follow as logical consequences of existing states of affairs, or were cherished as sweet dreams, as fond ideals.
What the events may have been to which he refers is naturally the next question that To whom or to what does Isaiah refer?suggests itself. A proper answer to this question necessitates a proper knowledge of the times in which Isaiah lived. But which Isaiah? "Ay, there's the rub." Even but a superficial study of the book of Isaiah suffices to show that it had no less than two authors, and very likely many more; that about a century and a half stretch between the first thirty-nine chapters, known as the Assyrian period, and the last twenty-seven chapters, known as the Babylonian period; that chapters of the first part belong to the second part,
and vice versa; that the first part is fragmentary, and the second part largely an anthology of different sacred writings by different men, during and after the Babylonian captivity, and which, according to the custom of those days, were attributed to Isaiah, as other writings of that period were credited to Moses and David and Solomon.
The time of the first Isaiah was about the middle of the eighth century before our present era. Judea was his country, and JerusalemTime of the first Isaiah. was his home. His labors covered the reigns of kings Ahaz and Hezekiah; the former, one of the wickedest kings who ever ruled over Judea; the latter, one of the best. The kingdom of Judah was then beset by dangerous enemies. To the north lay Samaria and Syria, leagued against their southern neighbor. To the north of these stretched all-conquering Assyria. Ahaz, terror-stricken by the advance of the united Samarian and Syrian forces, is about to invite the Assyrian conqueror to his aid. Isaiah fears the invited Assyrian more than the threatening enemy. The latter may be repelled, but the invited helper will find Judea a goodly land, and Jerusalem a powerful fortification, that will prove very serviceable in his campaign against Egypt, and he will therefore have no scruples about making himself master of it. Isaiah, deeming it his duty to warn his king against
the proposed alliance, appears before him, points out the danger, assures him of Judea's ability to cope with the enemy, without any other help except that of God. Ahaz is distrustful. The weaker the king's faith, the stronger becomes the faith of the prophet. He must save his people from their pending doom. He must convince the cowardly king. He must make him see that victory is nigh. Waxing enthusiastic in his exhortation, he points to a young expectant woman present at the audience, probably his own wife, the prophetess, and says, that before the child, soon to be born, and to be named "Immanuel" (God with us), "shall know to refuse the evil and chose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings."
This is the simple explanation of the first of the Messianic prophecies quoted above, Explanation of the "Virgin-child."and which is claimed to foretell the birth of Jesus to happen some eight hundred years later, and to accomplish this feat the Hebrew word עלמה meaning young woman is erroneously translated as virgin, and the fact that the child is to be named Immanuel is altogether ignored, since Jesus was never known by the name of Immanuel.
Returning to King Ahaz, we find him spurning Isaiah's counsel. He makes an alliance with Assyria, brings trouble upon his
people, continues in his wickedness. IsaiahExplanation of the "Righteous child." is disappointed, but not disheartened. His hope is in the royal son Hezekiah, probably his pupil, then about twelve years of age, and who gives promise of becoming a man of piety and wisdom and goodness and courage, which promise he fully confirmed as king. It is to this heir to the throne that the second of our cited Messianic prophecies plainly points, both historically and grammatically, and not to a child to be born some eight centuries later, as the King James Version o Isaiah declares, and to give its declaration a semblance of truth, permits itself to translate the Hebrew words אל גבור which mean "hero of God," into The mighty God.
Continuing with the history of that time, we find the alliance of Ahaz with Assyria working out its destructive course, as IsaiahExplanation of the "lion and lamb symbol." had feared. Assyria had conquered Syria, had destroyed the kingdom of Israel, had led the ten tribes into captivity, and was now at the gates of Jerusalem to deal similarly with the kingdom of Judah. The people are terror-stricken. Isaiah inspires them with hope and courage. He has faith in the strength of his people. God will be with them for the righteous Hezekiah's sake, their young prince and leader. Victory will be theirs. The prince will mount the throne in his wicked father's stead, and under him the
royal house of David will blazon forth again in all its pristine glory. The scattered tribes of the kingdom of Israel will reunite with their brethren of the kingdom of Judah. All jealousies will cease. Peace will reign supreme. The lion and the lamb will lie down together. None will hurt and none will destroy, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.
This is the meaning of the third of our above cited so-called Messianic passages of Isaiah. Much of this came to pass. The Assyrian was defeated at the gates of Jerusalem. Hezekiah mounted the throne, and fulfilled many of the expectancies of the Prophet. The people hailed him as their Messiah. He instituted needed reforms, fostered literature, purified and strengthened religion, inaugurated an era of peace and prosperity, such as was perhaps never again witnessed in Judah, such as to induce a Rabbi, many hundred years later, to declare, in the Talmud, that Israel need not look for a Messiah, that he had already come in the time and in the person of King Hezekiah.
Turning to the last two of our cited so-called Messianic passages of Isaiah, we find ourselvesExplanation of the "faithful servant." in a different age, and within a different literature. We are in the Babylonian period, about a century and a half later than the Assyrian period. In the twenty-seven
chapters, which embrace this second division, Chapters XLLXVI, we trace the story of Judah's overthrow by the Babylonian conqueror; her being led into captivity; her longing to return to her native land; her hoping and praying for a redeemer; his coming at last in the person of the Persian king Cyrus, the conqueror of Babylon; his permitting the Judean captives to return; their hailing him, notwithstanding his Persian belief, as their Messiah; their restoration of Jerusalem, and the commencement of their Second Commonwealth. But in and between, we encounter passages and fragments of chapters that are of Palestinian origin,that refer to times preceding and succeeding the Babylonian captivity, and which, by different styles and teachings, prove themselves compositions of different authors and of different times.
Nevertheless, while the meaning of some of the passages is obscure, that of others is quite clear. Among such we may class the forty-second chapter, which we have cited above as the fourth of the so-called Messianic passages of Isaiah. It occurs in the midst of the joyful expectancy of speedy redemption from Babylonian captivity, and of their glorification of the Persian deliverer. The personage referred to in that chapter strongly points to Cyrus. He brings the Gentile
captor to terms. He favors Israel; he does not break the bruised reed, he releases the prisoners from their prison, and leads those that sit in darkness forth into the light. Applied to Cyrus, this passage has an historical and natural meaning; applied to Jesus, six hundred years later, the text has to be tortured into meaning things that never could have been meant. It cannot be truthfully said of the Nazarene preacher that he never caused his voice to be heard in public, that he did not fail, and was not discouraged, before he had established judgment on the earth. The closely following eighth verse positively prohibits such an application of the text, since it makes God declare, that He alone is God, that He will not share His glory with another.
Turning to the last of our cited so-called Messianic prophecies of Isaiah, we encounter Explanation of the Suffering Martyr.the most famous of them all, the celebrated fifty-third chapter (including the last three verses of the preceding chapter). Here the suffering and the crucifixion of Jesus, it is claimed, are more than foreshadowed, they are literally described. Without considering, for the present, how the likeness between this Old Testament chapter and chapters of the New Testament, written eight or ten centuries later, came about; without stopping to show how in the interest of the
missionary success among Jews, New Testament stories were frequently written with the manifest purpose to harmonize with, or to serve as fulfilments of, the supposed Messianic requirements of the Old Testament, let it suffice, at present, that a comparison between the earlier and later narratives shows, first, considerable of contrast between the two, and, secondly, that since the earlier narrative is not even told or written as a prophecy, the later narrative cannot very well be a fulfilment thereof.
The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah (including the last three verses of the preceding chapter) is no prophecy. It speaks in the past tense, and narrates a past event. Its author is unknown. It is evidently a dirge or eulogy or lamentation over some martyr. If the author is of the Babylonian period, it may refer to Jeremiah; if of the Assyrian period, it may refer to some prophet persecuted by King Menasseh, who, upon ascending to the throne, after the death of his father, the good Hezekiah, imitated the wickedness of his grandfather Ahaz. It may have referred to the sufferings of Israel Personified, the Servant of God. It may not apply to any of those that have been named, but there cannot be the slightest doubt that it could ever have meant the martyrdom of Jesus, which occurred centuries later. If the
gospel stories of Jesus are true, no eulogy could apply to the attractive, popular, and winning Nazarene martyr, that says that he was not only unattractive but also positively repulsive, that people ran from him as if he were a leper, and hid their faces from him as if afflicted with foul disease.
Let us turn to some of the other Old Testament writings, and examine a few of the Other portions of Scripture examined.passages that have been claimed by Christological writers as prophecies of Christ. In the Book of Judges, in connection with the infancy of Samson, the giant, we read: "For, lo, thou shalt . . . bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from his infancy, and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines." Turning to St. Matthew we read, in connection with the infancy of Jesus: "And he (Joseph) came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene."
The birthplace of Jesus was manifestly Nazareth. Neither he nor his disciples deniedThough born at Nazareth, Bethlehem assigned birthplace to satisfy prophets. his Nazarene birth when his Messiahship was opposed on the ground that the Messiah of the Jews was to be born at Bethlehem. St. Luke, however, satisfies the Bethlehem requirement by having him born at that place during a temporary stay of his
parents in the city of David; while St. Matthew leads us to believe that Bethlehem was the original home of Joseph, and that after the birth of his child he moved to Nazareth "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets: He shall be called a Nazarene." To fulfill this prophecy, however, he is obliged to apply to Jesus a phrase that is spoken of Samson, the giant, twelve hundred years before, and to misquote it, and to commit the blunder of giving identical meanings to the two totally different words Nazarene and Nazarite, the one meaning an inhabitant of the city of Nazareth, the other meaning a member of a religious order.
St. Matthew, having thus satisfied, as he believed, the requirements of the Jews, St. Luke, who is a thorough Roman, is nowChristmas assigned as time of birth to satisfy Gentiles. necessitated to satisfy those of the Gentiles. These were in the habit of celebrating, amidst great festivities, the fourth December week, in which the winter-solstice occurred, as the Festival of the Birth of the Sun, of the Dawn of the New Year. Probably recognizing that the Gentiles could not be weaned from it, the Apostle retained it, but with a different significance. He made it stand for the Feast of the Birth of the Son of God, of the Dawn of the New Light. Unfortunately, however, this involved him in a new blunder. December being a winter-month,
and the very height of the rainy season of Judea, the shepherds, to whom the angel brought the message of the birth of the Saviour, could not have been out in the fields all night with their flocks. Nor is it likely that, at such an inclement season of the year, the people would have been summoned to Bethlehem from all parts of Palestine, as St. Luke informs us in the second chapter of his gospel, for the purpose of paying their taxes (not to speak of the historical inaccuracy of this tax-collection in the time of Herod the Great, by order of the Roman Emperor, when Judea did not become a Roman province till after this Herod's death); moreover, it is highly improbable that Joseph would have obliged his wife to accompany him, in her condition, and at such a time, on so long and so difficult a journey as that which lay between Nazareth and Bethlehem. It is not an insignificant fact that the other two gospels contain nothing of these narratives of St. Matthew and St. Luke, and that the former of these two seems ignorant of the tax-collecting story of the latter.
St. Matthew then proceeds to tell us that King Herod, hearing of the birth of Jesus, A misuse of text to give cause for flight to Egypt.and fearing to be supplanted by him, resolves to destroy him; an angel, however, advises the Holy Family to flee to Egypt and not to return till after Herod's death, "that it might
be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son." He, moreover, informs us that Herod, unable to find the Divine child, institutes a massacre of all children of two years old and under, found at Bethlehem and along the sea coast, thereby fulfilling Jeremiah's prophecy: "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."
Of all this, however, the other gospels say nothing. And as to the two references to the prophets, they are most flagrant misapplications, as a perusal of the text readily proves. The son to be called out of Egypt, of which Hosea speaks, refers to the children of Israel, the whole sentence reading: "When Israel was a child then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." The weeping for the children, of which Jeremiah speaks, refers to their going into captivity, about six hundred years before the time of Christ. The following verse speaks comfortingly of their returning again to their own land, which did occur, but which comforting assurance as to a return could not apply to the children massacred by Herod, to whom this prophecy is supposed to refer. Besides, Rama was not Bethlehem, one was a city in Benjamin, the
other in Judea; and Rachel was the mother of the Benjamites, and not of the Judeans. Furthermore, if a massacre, such as St. Matthew speaks of, bereaving hundreds of families, had occurred, so cruel an event would surely have been chronicled in Jewish literature alongside the other cruelties of Herod that are mentioned and described in detail. But no mention is made, not even a hint is given us, of such a cruelty in the entire Jewish literature of that period.
Passing over, for the want of time, a number of other supposed fulfilments of ancient Misuse of text to fulfil entry into Jerusalem.prophecies, we reach the description of our hero's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We are told that he sent two of his disciples to fetch him an ass and a young colt in order "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold thy king cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." The fulfiller of this supposed prophecy displays both grammatical and historical ignorance. Ignorant of the parallelism of Hebrew poetrythe same thought or figure repeated, in slightly altered language, in the line immediately followinghe introduces two asses where but one is meant, and he applies to Jesus a passage descriptive of the noble Hezekiah's entry into Jerusalem, and which gave basis to the belief
generally held by the prophets of that time, that the Messianic age had dawned with Hezekiah's ascent to the throne of David, as the following correct rendition of the text clearly indicates:
Reaching the story of Judas betrayal, St. Matthew tells us that the price of his treachery was thirty pieces of silver, thatMisuse of text to make Judas a betrayer. he afterwards repented of his deed, threw the money into the Temple, and hanged himself; that the chief priests bought a potter's field with the money, not thinking it lawful to put such money into the treasury; that all this was in fulfilment of "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." There is much confusion here, and all originating from a mistranslation and misapplication of the original text. In the
first place, St. Matthew has in his mind a passage in Zechariah, which he erroneously credits to Jeremiah, and which he misquotes. The original text, which reads: "And I (Zachariah) said unto them: If it be good in your eyes, give me my reward; and if not, forbear. So they weighed out as my reward thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me: Cast it into the treasury, the precious price which I am prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them into the House of the Lord, into the treasury;" this original text tells of the prophet representing himself as a shepherd of Israel, and receiving as his hire thirty pieces of silver, and casting that sum into the treasury of the Temple. This simple account is turned into a prophecy, and in its fulfilment, language is violated, and agreement with the other gospels is sacrificed, the word meaning treasury is translated into potter (a meaning which this word in Hebrew sometimes has, but not when used as in this verse), and Judas is made to betray his Master for thirty pieces of silver, and repenting, to hang himself, though the Acts of the Apostles assures us that, after purchasing the potter's field himself, he met his death by falling headlong, and bursting in the middle.
In the account of the crucifixion we are told that they "parted his garments, casting
lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: "They parted my garments among them, and upon my vestureMisuse of text in connection with crucifixion. did they cast lots." The prophet here referred to is the Psalmist, and a perusal of the twenty-second psalm, from which this quotation is taken, shows that it is the supplication of one in despair, possibly of David in a time of great distress, but more probably of Jeremiah, during the captivity, crying out: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me," and enumerating the wrongs done him by the enemy, among which he mentions the parting of his garments among them, and the casting lots for his vesture, and the piercing of his hands and feet. The narrative speaks of something that has already come to pass, and it could not, therefore, be a prophecy of what is to take place a thousand or five hundred years later, without doing violence to the language and history of the Old Testament.
Here we shall cease. Though much more testimony might be adduced, we believe enough has been advanced to enable us fullyThe prophets did not prophesy Jesus. to answer our question whether the prophets of Israel prophesied Jesus. With the mass of proof before us we have no other alternative than to answer No. To answer otherwise would necessitate obliterating from our minds all knowledge of Hebrew and Jewish
history. On our side we have, first, the original language of the Bible; secondly, the transmitted expounding of it by the learned schools of Palestine, Babylon, and Alexandria; thirdly, our Rabbis repudiation of the false interpretations of these cited Old Testament passages from the time they were foisted upon a credulous world; fourthly, the Jewish and non-Jewish critical scholarship of the present age.
Let no one think that, in the rejection of the Divinity of Jesus, the Jew is animated by The Jew cannot regard Jesus as a God.stubbornness. Why should he be? Why should he reject what might forever free him from prejudice and persecution? No one has yet accused the Jew of being indifferent to respectful consideration by his fellow men, or of being insensible to adversity and suffering. Why should he voluntarily bring disgrace and misery upon himself, when, by acknowledging Jesus as his Saviour, he might even become the pet of nations? He would if he could. But he cannot. He has proven by eighteen hundred years of suffering that he values truth above earthly gain. He cannot believe that his incorporeal, invisible, inconceivable God became human, simply to preach and teach sermons and lessons such as were preached and taught every day, in the synagogues and schools of Palestine and Babylon, at the time of Jesus. He cannot
believe that his God became human to be slain, so that the world might be saved through His blood. He cannot believe that his God became human to save the worldand make such a failure of it as is witnessed by the wars between Christian nations, by the strifes between Christian sects.
The Jew is proud of Jesus as he is of the other illustrious men of his race. He believes that he honors him more by denyingBut he is proud of him as a man. his divinity than he would by affirming it. By denying it, he rescues his noble manliness; by affirming it, he would aid in burying it under the rubbish of myth. He believes he renders humanity a noble service by denying that a Saviour has come. He believes that he hastens the coming of the Messianic Age, of which the prophets had dreamed, by placing such noble men as Jesus before the people for inspiration and imitation. He believes that salvation lies before us, not behind. With Tennyson he still looks for "the Christ that is to be." And he will continue to look for him until every man will be that Christ. Then, and not till then, will Israel's Messianic hope be realized. Then, and not till then, will there be peace on earth, and good will among all men.