"Know, therefore, this day, and reflect in thy heart, that the
Lord he is God, in heaven above, and on the earth beneath,
there is none else."Deuteronomy 4:39
ADDRESS TO HIS CO-RELIGIONISTS
As we Israelites do not seek to impose our faith on othersa practice altogether repugnant to Judaismit is necessary to premise that the following work is intended exclusively for distribution among our Hebrew community.
Having made this declaration, the Translator informs his Readers, that the ensuing work will be found to be a faithful version of a valuable theological treatise, entitled חזוק אמונה or, FAITH STRENGTHENED. It was originally composed in Hebrew by Isaac ben Abraham, an Israelite, a native of Lithuania. The work was published A.M. 5393; and in De Rossi's "Dizionario Istorico," the author is designated as the most powerful opponent and refutant of the doctrines and dogmas of Christianity, that had ever appeared among the Jews. Indeed, an attentive perusal of the little volume cannot fail to convince us, that he was not only an able and a skilful controversialist, but an eminent biblical scholar, a man of deep and extensive research; and earnest in his investigation of truth. The grand design of his polemics, as he himself tells us, is to establish and make manifest the sublime truths of Israel's Faith, and expose and refute the erroneous views on which Christianity is founded. For this purpose his arguments are essentially based on Scripture authority, inasmuch as he derives his entire chain of proofs from apposite biblical texts, with which authorities every page of his work abounds. Arguments and opinions founded on sanctions so high and authoritative, demand our highest respect and most serious meditation. The sound and critical knowledge of the sacred language of our forefathers, for which our author was distinguished, and his perfect familiarity with Bible phraseology, obviously and emphatically enabled him to produce a more exact and accurate version of the original text, than it is possible to find in any authorised English version of the Bible. The result of this superior and decisive advantage was, that he was enabled to obtain a clearer and more definite conception of the real meaning and purport of those obscure and difficult passages which we find dispersed throughout the Law and the Prophets, and which are so arrogantly and so constantly cited by Christian theologians in support of their creed and doctrine. Of those intricate texts, our Author has given most ample and lucid explanations, and by a train of the most logical, and conclusive reasoning, he ably and forcibly refutes the erroneous and fallacious interpretations put upon them by the opponents of Judaism. And, more forcibly to disprove the arguments of his adversaries, and demonstrate the false and untenable foundation upon which they stand, he has, in a cursory view of each book of the so-called New Testament, shown the glaring inconsistences apparent in them, and detected and exposed the manifold discrepancies subsisting among their several authors, and the endless and contradictory misquotations from the Hebrew Scriptures which appear in those writings. Thus has our Author presented his people with a well-selected compendium of religious instruction, containing those grand fundamental principles of Judaism,namely, the belief in ONE INDIVISIBLE GOD, and THE ADVENT OF A FUTURE MESSIAH. To this mass of Scriptural knowledge let the biblical student resort, and therein he will find a most valuable aid, with an immense economy of time and labour. To this store-house of Scriptural information let the youth of our community also repair, and it cannot fail to afford them ample material for their perfect conviction of the truth and purity of our holy faith, and weapons of defence against the obtrusive efforts of the over-zealous proselyte-seeker, and the insidious attacks of the hireling missionary.
Such are the claims and merits, the purport and intent, of FAITH STRENGTHENED; but great and invaluable as those claims and merits are in the maintenance and elucidation of our Holy Faith, its worth and usefulness are but little known and imperfectly understood beyond the pale of the theological scholar, the work having been written in the Hebrew language. Actuated, therefore, with a wish to make its invaluable knowledge universally accessible to his Jewish brethren, the Translator has used his best endeavours to render it into the vernacular language of the country, in order that it may no longer be a sealed book, but may freely circulate among all grades and classes of the Jewish community, both in the mother country and in the colonies, and become, in the domestic circle and the private closet, a handbook, and a text authority of the principles and doctrines of our Holy Religion.
It may here be desirable to remark, that as the style of the Author was rather diffuse, and his language quaint and inharmonious, the Translator has adopted a more condensed and a more congenial phraseology. He has also omitted the superfluous repetition of the same arguments and quotations with which the original work was needlessly overlaid; as also certain epithets and harsh expressions, in which the Author, in despite of the moderation he professed, occasionally indulged; but which doubtless are referrible to the persecuting spirit of the times in which he lived. To those who are acquainted with the metaphorical style of the East, and the unadorned simplicity of European phraseology, it is unnecessary to state the difficulties attending the translation of a work like this, so as to adapt it to the taste of educated Englishmen. The difficulty of the task was further enhanced by the daily impediments to which the infirmities incident to old age cast in the way of an Octogenarian. That task, however, has been sweetened by the comfort and serenity of mind which accompany purely spiritual and religious undertakings, and has cheered on its aspirant, with the hope that his toilsome, but gratifying, undertaking, will not only tend to raise and excite a spirit of religious inquiry among all classes of the Jewish community, particularly the young and the inexperienced, but will impart new vigour, and bring new honour on the name and profession of the Israelite.
That FAITH STRENGTHENED may realize the exalted aim of its author, must be the ardent wish of every sincere admirer of, and faithful adherent to, the sound and pure principles of that Revelation the Almighty vouchsafed to bestow on his chosen people.
ABSTRACT FROM THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
My religious zeal was aroused, on finding that the name of the Supreme Being was dishonoured, and our Holy Law profaned, by the very people who had been appointed to be the guardians of faith and the witnesses of those grand truths which make the simple man wise, the sorrowing heart glad, and the dim eyes bright. To my grief, I found that the inquisitive and indefatigable study of religion, which yields due reward to its zealous followers, was not cultivated among us as in former days, and am persuaded that ignorance and growing misapprehensions have added mental to physical burdens. Persecutions arising from religious hatred were heaped upon the children of my faith in all quarters of the globe, and were ever increasing in acrimony, not less in consequence of the low state of knowledge possessed by the Jews in matters of theological controversy than by the confused and mistaken notions which Christians had formed of Judaism. But it is absolutely imperative on man to be at all times prepared to repel any attack made on his belief. In conformity with this observation, our sages have recorded their opinion in the following axiom:"Man ought assiduously to study his own faith, and be competent to give a proper reply to his antagonists," more particularly when we consider that, in the majority of cases, the opposition to our doctrines rests on the misinterpretation of those Scriptures of which we alone are the legitimate heirs and expounders.
Influenced by the foregoing reflections, I have undertaken this humble work, which, in its narrow compass, embraces a subject of the utmost importance. It is intended to afford a stronghold to the sincere believer in the Sinaic revelations who may be incapable of defending himself, and whose opinions may be exposed to the persevering attacks of his assailant. I refer my co-religionist so situated, to an attentive perusal of the "FAITH STRENGTHENED," wherein he will find an ample supply of arguments and proofs in favour and support of our venerable creed. In former years, when I investigated the works of several Christian divines, and had frequent disputations with other literary Christians, I made a point to reason in a mild and dispassionate manner. Indeed, I placed my reliance on the soundness of my position, by preserving a constant evenness of temper. Thus I rendered the discussions advantageous to myself and more acceptable to my opponents. Seeing that our Holy Scriptures contain immutable truths, revealed to us for the benefit of the whole human race, I have presented in this work such biblical passages as serve to illustrate the genuineness of Judaism, and also such as require elucidation, in order that the reader may fully perceive that, whatever seems obscure or tending to support Christianity, is, indeed, merely so in form, and relates wholly and exclusively to the sacred cause of Judaisma cause which no argument whatever can depreciate, for the leading object of our faith is to make erring men look up to the unerring Deity, and inspire the belief that one indivisible God rules over the destinies of all, requiring no mediator or intercessor to obtain remission for our sins.
I have endeavoured not merely to explain such passages of our Scriptures as are obnoxious to misconstruction, but also to arraign before the tribunal of common sense the assertions made by Christians which tend to throw discredit on the truths of the Jewish Faith. For this purpose, I found it advisable to sub-divide this work into two parts. The first portion is devoted to an examination of the objections raised by Christians against our religion, and to the proofs cited by them for the corroboration of their own doctrines. The refutation I have given it, is in many cases, based on the contradictory nature of their own statements. The second portion comprises a careful review and refutation of the glaring inconsistencies that are discoverable in the New Testament. With the view to render the argument introduced into this work more cogent and conspicuous, I have allotted in the first part a separate chapter to each particular subject of discussion. In the second part, it has appeared preferable to adopt distinct chapters for those passages of the New Testament which call for a special animadversion and refutation. May the God of all Spirits, who has rendered wisdom unfathomable, and who scrutinizes all hidden thoughts, bestow a blessing on my humble efforts, forgive all my unconscious errors, uphold me in my pure faith, and grant his Divine protection to me and all Israel. Amen.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2 a, b, c, d]
I was once asked by a Christian scholar, "Why do you Jews refuse to believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, evidence concerning him having been given by the true prophets, in whose words you also believe?"
And this is the answer which I gave him: How is it possible for us to believe that he was the Messiah, as we do not see any actual proof of his Messiahship throughout the prophetic writings. As for the passages which the authors of the Gospel adduce from the words of the prophets, to demonstrate that Jesus the Nazarene was the Messiah, they advance nothing relating to him, as will be shown in the second part of this work, in which we shall, in regular succession, point out the fallacies set forth in the Gospel. On the other hand, we shall see many incontrovertible proofs in support of our conviction that Jesus was by no means the Messiah. A few of these arguments may be here introduced.
He was not the Messiah is evident:1st, from his pedigree;1st. As to the pedigree of Jesus, he was not a descendant of David, being merely affiliated to him through Joseph, as is testified in the Gospel. For in Matthew, chapter 1, it is written, that Jesus was born of Mary during her virginity, and that Joseph knew her not until she had given birth to Jesus. According to this statement, the pedigree of Joseph can be of no avail to Jesus, and at the same time it is quite evident that the ancestry of Mary was unknown to the authors of the Gospel. But even the relationship of Joseph to David is wanting in proof, there being a discrepancy between Matthew and Luke in their account of his pedigree, which appears clearly when we compare the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, with that of Luke, at the end of chapter 3. Here we see conflicting testimonies; and where that is the case no belief can be attached to either statement. The prophets, on the contrary, predicted to us that the expected Messiah should be no other than a descendant of David.
2ndly, from his acts;
3rdly, from the period in which he lived; and
4thly, from the fact that, during his existence, the promises were not fulfilled which are to be realised on the advent of the expected Messiah, whereas the fulfillment of the conditions alone can warrant a belief in the identity of the Messiah.
2ndly. As to the works of Jesus, we find that He says of himself, Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to make peace on earth; I came not to send peace but the sword, and to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." On the other hand, we find Holy Writ attributing to the true and expected Messiah actions contrary to those of Jesus. We see here that Jesus says of himself, he is not come to make peace on earth, whereas Scripture says of the true and expected Messiah, in Zechariah 9:10, "And he shall speak peace unto the heathen," etc. Jesus says he came in order "to send the sword on earth," but Scripture says, Isaiah 2:4, "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Jesus says he came "to put father and son at variance," etc, but Malachi says (at the end of his book) that "before the coming of the true Messiah the prophet Elijah shall appear, and turn the heart of the fathers to their children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." Jesus says, concerning himself, Matthew 20:28, that he is not come to be served by the son of man, but to serve others. Concerning the true Messiah, however, Scripture says, Psalm 72:11, "Yea, all kings shall prostrate themselves before him; all nations shall serve him." And Zechariah 9:10, "His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the end of the earth." Thus states also Daniel 7:27, "And all rulers shall serve him and obey him."
3rdly. As to the period of his existence, it is evident that he did not come at the time foretold by the prophets; for they predicted the advent of the Messiah to happen at the latter days, see Isaiah 2:2, "And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains," etc. Further we read there, verse 4, concerning the king Messiah, "And he shall judge among the nations and arbitrate among many people, and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks," etc. Thus is also recorded in Scripture concerning the wars of Gog and Magog, which are to take place in the time of the king Messiah. Vide Ezekiel 38:8, "After many days thou shalt be visited; in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword," as will be explained in the proper place. The same is evident from Hosea 3:5, "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall revere the Lord and His goodness in the latter days." So we read also in Daniel 2:28, "And (God) maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days." Which passage refers to the subsequent prophecy, ib. ver. 44, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the sovereignty shall not be left to other people," etc. Hence we see clearly that the prophets predicted that the coming of the true Messiah would happen at the "latter days," and not before.
4thly. We have to consider the promises contained in the words of the prophets, which were not fulfilled in the time of Jesus, but are to be realised in future at the time of the true Messiah, who is still expected. They may be classed under the following heads:
(a.) At the time of the king Messiah there is to be only one kingdom and one king, namely, the true king Messiah. But the other empires and their rulers shall cease at that period, as we read in Daniel 2:44, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." Whereas, we now actually see that many empires, different in their laws and habits, are still in existence; and that in each empire a different king is ruling; consequently the Messiah is not yet come. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d]
(b). At the time of the king Messiah, there is to be in the world but one creed and one religion, and that is the religion of Israel, as is proved by Isaiah (52:1), "Awake, awake, put on thy strength, Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean." And further (chap. 66:17), "Who sanctify themselves and purify themselves [we prefer the literal translation of this obscure passage to the unwarranted and still more obscure translation of the Authorised Version] in the gardens, behind one in the midst of them who eat the flesh of the swine, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together saith the Lord." "And (ver. 23) it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come and worship before me, saith the Lord." Moreover, it is written in Zechariah (14:16), "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles." In the same book (chap. 8:23) we read, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts. In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men of nations of diverse languages shall take hold, even shall take hold of the skirt of a Jew [Authorised Version renders it "of him that is a Jew"], saying. We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you." There are many other passages in that book to the same effect. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.2.]
(c.) At the time of the Messiah, the idolatrous images and their memorial, as also the false prophets and the spirit of profanity are to vanish from the earth, as may be seen in Zechariah 13:2, "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols from the earth, and they shall no more be remembered, also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit [literally 'the spirit of uncleanliness'] to pass away from the earth." So also it is written in Isaiah 2:18, "And the idols he shall utterly abolish." So it is also said in Zephaniah 2:11, "The Lord will be terrible unto them, for he will cause all the gods of the earth to waste away, and men shall worship Him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.3.]
(d.) At the time of the Messiah, there will be no sins and iniquities in the world, particularly not among the Israelitish nation. Thus we find in the law (Deut. 30:6), "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart and the heart of thy seed to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." Again, in Zephaniah 3:13, "The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth." Again, in Jeremiah 3:17, "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem, neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart." Again, in Ezekiel 36:25-28, "And I will sprinkle clean water upon you: from all your impurity, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. And I will give unto you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them." Moreover, see Ezekiel 37:23-24, "Neither shall they defile themselves any more with the idols nor with their abominations, nor with their transgressions, and I will save them out of all their dwelling-places wherein they have sinned, and I will cleanse them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, and David my servant shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd, and they shall walk in my judgments and observe my statutes and do them." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.4.]
(e.) At the time of the king Messiah and after the war with Gog and Magog there will be peace and tranquillity throughout the world, and men will no longer require any weapons of war. So it is written in Isaiah 2:4, "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." See also Ezekiel 39:9, "And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the hand-staves and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years (ib. ver. 10.) so that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests, for with the weapons shall they kindle the fire." With these words agrees the prophecy of Hosea 2:20, according to the division of chapters in the Hebrew Bibles, (in the English version it is chap. 2 ver. 18.) "and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and I will make them to lie down safely." So says also Zechariah 9:10, "And the battle-bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace unto the heathen," etc. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.5.]
(f.) At the time of the king Messiah there will be peace in the Holy Land between the ferocious and domestic animals, so that they will not injure each other, and much less injure a human being, as is evident from the following prophecies of Isaiah 11:6, "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." (Ver. 7) "And the cow and the bear shall feed together; their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox." (Ver. 8) "And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den." (Ver. 9) "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord," etc. and (ib. 65:25) "And the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock, and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord." (See also Ezekiel 34:25) "And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods." (Ver. 28.) "And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them," etc. (See also Hosea 2:20, or in the English version, 18) "And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground," etc. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.6.]
(g.) At the time of the Messiah there will be no troubles, cares, and anxieties, among the restored Israelites, who will then be blessed with a prolonged and more happy life, as is foretold in the following passages of Isaiah (65:16). "He who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth, and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth, because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes." (Ver. 19) "And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people, and the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying." (Ver. 20) "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days, for the child shall die a hundred years old, but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed." (Ver. 21) "And they shall build houses and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them." (Ver. 22) "They shall not build and another inhabit, they shall not plant and another eat, for as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.7.]
(h). At the time of the Messiah the Shechinah (effulgency of divine presence) shall return to Israel as in former days, and the people of Israel increase in prophecy, wisdom, and knowledge, as may be seen by the following quotations from the prophets. (Ezek. 37:26) "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will establish and multiply them, and set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore." (Ver. 27) "My residence also shall be among them. Yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Ver. 28) "And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore." (lb. 39:29) "Neither will I hide my face any more from them, for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God." (lb. 43:7) "And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, etc. (lb. 48:35) "And the name of the city from that day shall be, 'The Lord is there'" (Joel 2:27) "And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and there is none else; and my people shall never be ashamed." (lb. 3:1; in the English Version 2:28) "And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." (lb. 3:17) "So ye shall know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through it any more." (lb. 3:21) "For I will avenge their blood that I had not avenged, for the Lord dwelleth in Zion." (Zec. 2:14; in the English Version, 2:10) "Sing and rejoice, daughter of Zion, for, lo! I come and dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord." (Isa. 11:9) "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." (Jer. 31:34) "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying. Know the Lord: for they shall know me, from the lowest of them to the highest, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.8.]
The above indications pointed out by the prophets as indispensable attributes of the true Messiah, have not been fulfilled in Jesus the Nazarene. Nor have we hitherto seen realised the prophetic assurances already named, or others that we have omitted, to avoid prolixity. And we therefore arrive at the just conclusion, that the true and expected Messiah has not yet come. In him alone all the predicted attributes undoubtedly will be manifested, and through him alone and in no other way, the scriptural promises will be accomplished.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 2.]
An argument has been adduced by Christians, to the effect, that the Almighty has rejected the Israelitish nation, because they would not listen to the teachings of the Messiah, his messenger, and because they executed judgment on him. The Lord has, therefore, say they, chosen the Christian nation, and he permitted Christ to suffer martyrdom for their sake and for the salvation of their souls, because they had acknowledged him and put faith in him.
This argument is unfounded; for the Christians themselves confess, that before the coming of Jesus, they (as Gentiles) denied the Almighty, and were idolaters. Even after the coming of Jesus, he was not received as a God, nor believed to be such until some hundred years subsequent to his existence. Yea, they (the Gentiles) themselves carried on exterminating persecution against him, his disciples, apostles, and followers. Nero, the emperor of Rome, for instance, caused Peter and Paul to die an unnatural death, on account of their endeavours to persuade and urge the people to believe in Jesus. Decius, the Roman emperor, caused, in a like spirit, Laurentius to be roasted alive in the year 254 of the vulgar era, because he persuaded people to embrace Christianity. So acted all the emperors that followed him; they persecuted the Christians, and killed the popes, and those who followed the religion of Jesus, as may be gathered from their ecclesiastical histories; The first Byzantine emperor who adopted the Christian faith, was Constantine, who established laws for his co-religionists 300 years after the death of Jesus. In his days lived Arius who composed a controversial work against the Christian dogmas, but Constantine lent no ear to his opinions. After the death of this monarch, Constantine the Second attached himself to the sect of Arius, and slighted the established doctrines; and his succeeding relative Julian, likewise adhered to the Arian views, and rejected the general principles of the Christian Faith. His example was imitated by several of his successors. There are, even in our times, people who acknowledge the authority of Arius, and who constitute the sect called by his name. This (the original repudiation of Christianity by the Gentiles) is also to be noticed among the [ancient] inhabitants of Prussia; when bishop Adelbert of Prague came to them to instruct them in his religion in the year 990, of the Christian era, they cut him in pieces. The Prussians and Poles were not converted to the Christian religion before the eleventh century, and the Scandinavians not until after the 1400th year of the vulgar era, as is stated in the Ecclesiastical histories. The majority of the followers of Christianity continue even at the present day to adore in their places of worship images of gold and silver, wood, and stone, and many of them shew divine reverence to the wafer, or sacramental bread by prostrating themselves before it.
These practices they keep up in contradiction to the teachings of Jesus: who rigorously impressed upon his disciples and apostles to abstain from them, as well as from the eating of the sacrifices offered up to idols. We also find in the Gospel, they are forbidden to eat blood, or the flesh of strangled animals; which interdictions are disregarded even by the most scrupulous Christians. They likewise desecrate the true Sabbath-day, the stringent commandment of which, was kept by Jesus, and subsequently by his disciples and his followers, during the period of 500 years. From that period, the ancient law was superseded by the Pope enjoining to celebrate the first day of the week, Sunday, as the sacred day. Hence arises the question: How can they boast to be the preferred nation, selected in reward of their homage to Jesus; or how can they assume the name of Christians, since there exists among them, no longer any observer of the Mosaical precepts, which Jesus himself declared inviolable? Besides, they deviate from his statutes by adding to, and diminishing from the dictates of the Gospel, while he pronounced severe maledictions against those who should venture to add or to diminish from his words, as may be learned from the passages above referred to, and will be set forth more fully in chapter 49 of this work.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 2.2.]
A member of the Greek Church, once addressed me in the following words:"Do you know wherefore you have no longer a king of your own people? It is because you have rejected the faith of Jesus Christ and His kingdom, for He was the king of Israel. On this account the empire of Israel has been destroyed."
I replied to him: "It is known, and evident from the words of the prophets, that in consequence of our manifold iniquities, our kingdom was destroyed in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, when this king led Zedekiah, king of Judah, captive to Babylon.
"This event took place more than four hundred years before the existence of Jesus. The Jews were then successively subjects of the Babylonians, Medes, and Greeks. Long before the birth of Jesus we had been kept in servitude by the Romans. You may see that proved in your Gospel of Luke, 3:1, 'In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea,' etc. See also John 19:15, 'Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.' Now, as to your ascribing to Jesus the government of Israel, we are at a loss to know who made him king, and where he ruled over Israel. You, members of the Greek Church, were the parties who first acknowledged Christianity in the kingdom of your Messiah, and you still continue in your faith in Him; and, nevertheless, your government has been destroyed, and you have no longer a king of your own people: for a Mohammedan ruler, the Turkish sultan, who is now in possession of the Holy Land, extends his sway over Greece.
There are many other Christian states which formerly elected their own kings, and now are subjected to the Ottoman power. On the other hand, you see the Mahommedans not only disbelieving the doctrines of Jesus, but even mercilessly persecuting the followers of his faith, and notwithstanding this, the empire of the Turks enjoys undisturbed prosperity.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 2.3.]
An eminent disciple of Martin Luther one day, thus argued with me:"You know that in our gospel, Acts, 5:34, it is mentioned that Rabbi Gamaliel, a learned and distinguished man, addressed the by-standing Jews in the following terms: (Ver. 38) 'Refrain from these men, and let them alone, for if this counsel, or this work be of men, it will come to nought; (ver. 39) but if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it, but it will continue firm, and ye must rebel against the intentions and the counsel of God.' To this he brings forward an example in Theudas and Judas of Galilee, who came forward as Messiahs of their own accord, without approbation and decree of the Almighty, and were in a short time utterly destroyed, with all their followers.
"You see then with your own eyes (said the Lutheran) that this faith, that is to say, the faith of Jesus and his apostles, has not been destroyed these 1500 years and more; consequently the before-mentioned trial (of the veracity of the Christian faith proposed by the Jewish doctor) is a convincing and perfect proof, that the words and acts of the founders of Christianity met with the full approbation of God."
Upon this, I gave him the following reply:The words reported in the gospel as having been used by Rabbi Gamaliel are not accredited among us; but were it even acknowledged that Rabbi Gamaliel did thus express himself, we know that he did not speak in a prophetic spirit, for he was no prophet, but that he expressed merely his views from what he had experienced in his own time of Theudas and Judas of Galilee. Hence it is possible he might have uttered his views, as Scripture says (Psalm 19:12), "Who can be aware of errors," etc. On the other hand, you may perceive incontrovertible testimony of the contrary from the idolatrous service which preceded Jesus, and which was renewed after his time, and did not cease for so many centuries. You well know that the worship of idols was introduced previously to the existence of our ancestor Abraham; for Terah the father of Abraham was an idolater, as is recorded in scripture, Joshua 24:2, concerning the father of Abraham and Nahor, "and they served other Gods."
Since that period to the present time, 3000 years and more have elapsed; and the worship of images still continues. For we see your Evangelists, who follow in the steps of Martin Luther, accuse those who walk in the faith of the pope of Rome of rendering homage to images in their houses of worship; yet it is manifest, that image-worship proceeds from the will of God.
Thus has also the infidel Mohammed instituted the spurious religion of the Islams. A religion the falsity of which you yourself acknowledge, and nevertheless this delusion lasted for above 1000 years, and is to this day not put down.
Would you say then that these two creeds, viz., Popery and Mohammedanism because they are not yet abolished, were established by the approbation or command of God? I have not the slightest idea, that a reasonable being can entertain such a supposition: but the fact is, that the Almighty says "leave the foolish-minded to themselves, for in futurity they will have to render account of their action" (vide treatise Abodah Zarah, on occasion of a question asked of Rabbi Gamaliel). Moreover it is known, from the words of the prophets, that idolatry will continue till the time of the Messiah, whose advent we expect; for concerning that period see Isaiah 2:18, "And the idols he shall utterly abolish." Again Zephaniah 2:11, "The Lord will be terrible unto them, for he will bring low all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship Him every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen." Again Zechariah 13:2, "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered" etc. Then will be fulfilled the passage contained in the same prophet, 14:9. "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth, in that day the Lord shall be One and His name One."
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 2.4.]
The same personage argued with me another time, and said, "You ought to know that, as long as you fulfilled the behests of God and his commandments, you were prosperous in this world; for the kings of Israel were great and mighty, so that our forefathers, and many other Gentile nations, were held under subjection by you; but now, since you have sinned against God, the case is reversed; for the rule has departed from you and passed over to us, so has our subjection departed from us and passed over to you. For, at present, you have no king or prince among you, and you are held under subjection by all nations. At the same time, our prosperity is a great proof of the goodness of our faith, as your former prosperity was a proof of the goodness of your faith, hence this your degraded state must be considered a convincing illustration of your evil doings in rejecting our creed." To this I replied:
"Your argument is fallacious in all its bearings, for in this world there are many wicked men, whose lot is as prosperous as if they were truly righteous men, while we frequently see the pious labouring under severe afflictions; an instance of this we find in the success of Nebuchadnezzar the wicked, and Alexander the Great, who extended their rule over a great part of the world, and especially over the land of the Israelites, nor had there ever been seen kings more prosperous in their government than they were. Yet they, with all their success, cannot be brought forward as an argument in favour of the superiority of the faith of the Gentiles over that of the subjugated Israelites, it being a well-known fact that they (the great kings) were worshippers of idols and the planets. Now in our day even you, Christians, agree that Islamism is nothing but a false system introduced by their pretended prophet Mohammed; nevertheless, they are prosperous in this world, and their religion and power spread over a large portion of Asia and Africa: consequently, how can you say that their prosperity is a proof of the goodness of their creed, seeing also that Scripture shews the reverse. Thus Proverb says, 3:12, "For the Lord chastiseth him whom He loveth," etc. The argument, therefore, which you derived from your prosperity in favor of your religion, is groundless, and must appear so to every man of good sense.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 2.5.]
A Christian scholar argued once with me, saying, "We have examined the words of the prophets, and have not found that even a single allusion was made or a prophecy revealed, concerning the captivity in which you at present arenamely, the captivity into which you were brought by the Romans. All the prophets speak only about the captivity and the conquest of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, yet not a word is contained in Holy Writ concerning your present captivity nor your deliverance from it, nor of the downfall of the Roman dominion. How can it then be known, that the appointed Messiah has not arrived, or that he is to arrive at some future periodsince all the promises recorded in the works of the prophets were fulfilled at the time of the second templeand it is this to which Matthew alludes, 11:13, 'For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John [the Baptist].'"
Upon this I made the following reply:
It is not to be wondered at, that you do not find any statement in the writings of the prophets, concerning the present captivity and the redemption therefrom, etc., for it is written Psalm 147:19, 20, "He declareth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel. He has not dealt so with any nation, nor has He made known His judgments unto them."
But I will shew, first, distinct prophecies concerning our dispersion and our scattered state in this exilea dispersion which is wonderfula scattered state, which is unprecedented, for where have we seen any other nation spread throughout all parts of the earth?
Secondly. I will bring forward prophecies fixing our continuance in this captivity for a protracted period extending to the latter days; and also promises of the prophets regarding our redemption from this captivity; and likewise many predictions from the sacred writers respecting the overthrow of the Roman and other powers who must be deemed unworthy to be allied with the nation of Israel at the time of its restoration. There are several other prophecies yet unaccomplished, which will come to pass at the appointed season.
Now referring to the prophecy concerning the captivity: viz., the captivity effected by the Romans, we read in the law (Deut. 28:64), "And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other"; for, in the Roman captivity, the Jews belonging to the second temple were dispersed and scattered in divers countries then possessed by the Romans. They brought with them people of various nations to besiege Jerusalem for they could not make an easy conquest on account of the great valour of the Jews. Such was not the case at the destruction of the first temple, the Jews being then too few and weak, so that the unaided Babylonians were sufficient to reduce them and to lead them into captivity; they were, therefore, only banished to Babel, as we read at the end of the Second Chronicles (36:20), "And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon, where they were servants to him and his sons, until the reign of the kingdom of Persia." Thus we find also in Ezra (2:1), "Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had carried away to Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one into his city." See also in the same prophet (1:11), "All the vessels of gold and of silver were 5400; all these did Sheshbazzar bring with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon into Jerusalem." You see here, from the testimony of Scripture, that the Israelites were only exiled to Babel, and returned only from thence. When we therefore read in Deuteronomy (30:3), "That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, etc., and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God has scattered thee," we cannot possibly ascribe it to the captivity of Babel, but only to that of Rome.
When, further, the prophet Ezekiel says (22:15), "And I will scatter thee among the heathen and disperse thee in the countries and cause thy impurity to cease," we cannot possibly refer it to any other than this last captivity, viz., the Roman captivity. For in the captivity of Babylon their impurity was not removed from them. When they had left Babylon and arrived in the Holy Land, there were still among them men who had taken heathen wives, who profaned the sabbath and committed many more iniquities; hence they became again subject to captivity for their many sins. To this must be referred the remark of the prophet, that by reason of the length of this sad captivity, our sins and our impurities will be removed from us, so that we shall not be exiled again. See Lamentations (4:22), "The punishment of thy iniquity is accomplished, daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity, etc." See also Amos (1:6), "Thus saith the Lord, For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof, because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom"; and in the same chapter (ver. 9), "Thus saith the Lord, For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof, because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant."
These prophecies referred to the future: viz., to the destruction of the second temple, for those who had escaped from the captivity of Titus and fled to the countries of the Philistines and to Tyre, both adjacent to the Holy Land, were seized and delivered up to the hand of Edom; that is, Titus and his army; for the Nazarene Nations, and the Romans at their head, are alluded to in Scripture under the title of Edom, or daughter of Edom, in like manner as those nations which were converted to the creed of Islam, are called by the Hebrews, Ismaelites, on account of their supposed ancestor Ismael.
Now, what the prophet says (Amos 1:9) concerning the whole captivity, means, that there remained no fugitive or runaway who was not subject to the yoke of the Romans, while there had remained many remnants during the Babylonian captivity who did not yield to the supremacy of the Chaldeans; and, therefore, went to Egypt, as Scripture testifies (see Jeremiah 43:7), "So they came into the land of Egypt, for they obeyed not the voice of the Lord." As to the expression of Amos (1:9), "And they remembered not the brotherly covenant," it alludes to the covenant that existed between Hiram, king of Tyre, and King Solomon; for Scripture says, "That they made a covenant together and addressed each other as brothers (see 1 Kings 9:13).
We shall now proceed to consult scripture respecting our continuance in this protracted captivity; and we shall perceive that after having surmounted many days of trouble and affliction, the Lord will have mercy again on us in the latter days; and we shall be convinced that, though our deliverance is so long deferred, the Lord will not forget His covenant and His oath which He swore unto our fathers. See Deuteronomy 4:30, 31, "When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, thou shalt turn to the Lord thy God, and be obedient unto His voice. For the Lord thy God is a merciful God, and He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which He sware unto them." Hosea 3:4, "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without Ephod, and without Teraphimafterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord, their God, and David their king, and shall reverence the Lord in the latter days." This prophecy evidently refers to our present exile; for we have no king, and no prince in Israel, but are under the dominion of Gentiles and their monarchs. We cannot offer sacrifice to God, or seek information by means of the Urim and Thummin, neither is there a false oracle of the Teraphim, which, according to the representation of idolaters, revealed coming eventsbesides all Israelites are now in captivity, and what the prophet says, "Afterwards Israel shall return," refers to the latter days, close to the time of salvation when the children of Israel shall come back penitently and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, for then they will regret their ejaculation (1 Kings 12:16), "What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse"; for he who denies the kingdom of David is as sinful as if he had rebelled against the Lord himself, who has given an everlasting dominion unto David and his seed. At the time of salvation shall be fulfilled the saying of Jeremiah 30:9, "They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them." We find besides an allusion to the redemption from the captivity by the Romans in the law, as well as in many passages of the Prophets (see Deut. 30:3) "Then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity and have compassion on thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations';' and (ver. 4.) "If any of them be driven out to the uttermost of heaven, from thence will I the Lord thy God gather thee and from thence will He fetch them." (Ver. 5.) "And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it, and He will do thee good and multiply thee above thy fathers (ver. 6). And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayst live." We see that these passages were not fulfilled on the return of Judah and Benjamin from Babylon; for the number of those who returned amounted to only 42,360, as recorded in Ezra 2. The majority remained in Babylon because they were unwilling to go back to Jerusalem. How then can it be maintained that the promise has been fulfilled, which declares "if any of them be driven out to the uttermost part of heaven, from thence the Lord thy God will gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee."
If even at the time of the second temple, during an abode in the Holy Land, the Lord has not done us more good, nor multiplied us more than our fathershow can it be asserted that the promises have been fulfilled? viz. "And He will do thee good and multiply thee above thy fathers." For during all the days of the second temple we were in distress and trouble. See Daniel 9:25 "And after three score and two weeks the streets shall be built again and the wall even in troublesome times." See also the prophecy of Isaiah 43:5 "Fear not, for I am with thee; I will bring thy seed from the East, and gather thee from the West." (Ver. 6). "I will say to the North give up, and to the South keep not back. Bring my sons from far and my daughters from the end of the earth." Again (11:12), "And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the out-casts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four comers of the earth." See also the prophecy of Ezekiel 39:28, "But I shall gather them into their own land, and leave none of them any more there" (namely in the land of the enemy).
Assurances of this description, were not realised at the exit of the Israelites from Babylon to Jerusalem, for they not having been dispersed, after the captivity of Babylon, in the four quarters of the globe, how can the promise have been fulfilled that says, "And He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four comers of the earth?"
There having remained many in the captivity of Babylon, as we have mentioned above, how was the prophecy brought to pass which states "And I will leave none of them there any more?" We have further to shew that during the time of the construction of the second temple, the prediction was not fulfilled which is contained in Isaiah 60:10, "And the son of the strangers shall build up the walls; and kings shall minister unto thee." For at that time the heathens derided the Jews, saying (Nehem. 4:2) "What are these feeble Jews doing"? etc. And they prevented and interrupted them in building up the walls; moreover the passage, "And kings shall serve thee" was not fulfilled at that period; for we read in Ezra 9:9 "We are bondsmen; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia." This is also written in Nehemiah 9:36. "Behold we are servants this day, and for the land that Thou gavest unto our Fathers to eat the fruit thereof, and the good thereof, behold we are servants in it." (Ver. 37) "And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us, because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies and over our cattle at their pleasure, and we are in the greatest distress." Further, we find in Isaiah 60:11, "Therefore thy gates shall be open continually, they shall not be shut day or night." This prediction did not come to pass during the second temple. For we observe in Nehemiah 7:3, "And I said unto them, let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot," etc. Hence you may conclude, that not only these promises, as well as the above-mentioned assurances, were not fulfilled during the time of the second temple, but that just the contrary took place in respect to them as we have already related. We must therefore arrive at the conviction, that these prophecies and promises, and many others not mentioned here, referred to our redemption from the captivity in which we now are.
We shall now proceed to consider the predicted down-fall of the Gentile nations, which is to take place in the days of the expected Messiah. Concerning that period, we read in Numbers 24:17. "I see it, though it will not happen now; I behold it, though not nigh, there shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel, it breaketh down the comers of Moab and crusheth all the children of Seth." The king Messiah, whose grandeur and lustre make him comparable with the stars of heaven, will, according to this prophecy, subject to his power all the children of Seth, and He will perform such heroic deeds as were never accomplished before Him.
To the exploits of this king, are referable the conquests predicted in the above chapter of Numbers, "And Edom shall become an inheritance, and Seir shall be a possessor of its enemies, and Israel shall do valiant deeds; and he who is descended from Jacob shall rule, and he that escapeth from the city [of the enemy] shall perish."
The many predictions regarding Edom recorded in Isaiah, Obadiah, and other prophets, have, by our laws, been explained as alluding to Rome, which, since the time of the destruction of the second temple, has exhibited the fiercest persecutors, and most implacable enemies of the Jews and their faith.
To this effect, Isaiah says, 34: 8, "For the Lord hath a day of vengeance, a year of retributions for the controversy of Zion." Every iniquitous act committed by the adversary of Zion will meet with condign visitation, and human liberty shall triumph on the ruins of tyranny. Hence he says, "And the redeemed of the Lord shall return and enter Zion with joy, and ever-lasting gladness shall be upon their head. Exultation and rejoicing shall reach them, and sorrow and affliction shall flee from them far away." The comfort promised in the Lamentation of Jeremiah will then be realised, for in 4:22, it is said: "The punishment of thine iniquity, daughter of Zion, has been fulfilled; he will no more lead thee into captivity. He has visited thine iniquity, daughter of Edom, he hath laid bare thy sins." Love will then be shewn by the Gentiles to the Jews, and according to Isaiah, 66:20, "They will bring your brethren from among all the Gentiles as a gift unto the Lord .... to Jerusalem, my holy mountain." An objection has been raised against a complete restoration of the Jews, grounded on some partial texts of Scripture; but let us refer those who make the allegation, to the following scriptural passages which afford a complete refutation of such a supposition: For Joel says (3:19-20), "Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom a howling wilderness, on account of the violence done to the children of Judah and on account of the innocent blood which they shed in their land. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation."
We should not take these words in the narrow limits in which they may present themselves to readers, who fix upon a single scriptural passage without comparing it with the more extensive detailed passages of a similar character. In fact, we have already stated, that by Edom we understand Rome; and we must, with justice to truth, submit that Egypt means the heavy yoke of the Mahommedan power.
The Ishmaelites (or Mahommedans) have traced their origin back to Hagar, "the Mitzrith," or Egyptian bondwoman, and were, therefore, called by the prophet, Mitzrayim (Egyptians).
It appears also perfectly accountable that the prophet speaks of the children of Judah rather than of the whole house of Israel. For, on the overthrow of the Ten Tribes, the name of the prevailing and distinguished tribe of Judah was adopted to designate the whole nation of Israel. Hence he says, "And Judah shall remain there and for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation." Obadiah actually predicts that all Israel (not only Judah) shall obtain the ultimate victory. He says, "And the house of Jacob shall be as a fire, and the house of Joseph as a flame, and the house of Esau as stubble," etc. And he concludes by saying, "And the saviours shall go up to the mount Zion, to judge the mount of Esau, and the kingdom shall belong unto the Lord."
We will now, for the sake of clearness, review in regular order the prophecies which are unfulfilled, and are yet to come to pass in the days of the expected Messiah.
1. The ingathering of the Ten Tribes, and their union with Judah and Benjamin under the dominion of one king of the house of Judah (see Ezek. 37:16), "And now, son of man, take unto thee one staff, and write thereon, for Judah and Israel," etc.
2. The rise of Gog and Magog, and their incursions into the territory of Israel (see Ezek. 38 and 39. See also Zech. 14:12), "And this shall be the plague which shall strike all the nations who have carried their hosts against Jerusalem," etc. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.5]
3. The Mount of Olives shall be rent asunder (see Zech. 14:4), "And his feet shall stand on that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem, and the mount of Olives shall be rent asunder in the midst of the east and the west, so as to become a very extended valley," etc. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.9]
4. The river of Egypt shall be divided, and dry up prior to the gathering of the exiles of Judah (see Isaiah 11:15, 16). "And the Lord shall cause the tongue of the sea of Egypt to be dried up, and He will wave His hand against the river in the strength of His spirit, and He will smite it into seven rivers. And men shall walk through it dry shod, and it shall be a path for the remnant of his people which shall remain from Assyria as it was unto Israel on the day when they went out of Egypt." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.10]
5. Ezekiel 47:1, 12, "The waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward...And by the river shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, nor the fruit thereof be consumed. It shall bring forth new fruit according to his month. Because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary, and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." Zechariah, 14:8, "And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem, half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea, in summer and in winter shall it be." Joel 3:18, "It shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters; and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Sheetim." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.11]
6. The conversion of the Gentiles to Judaism, see Zechariah 8:23, "They will say (to the Jews), We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.2]
7. The annual pilgrimage of the remnant of all nations to Jerusalem "to bow down to the King the Lord of Hosts," etc. see Zechariah 14:17. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.2]
8. The celebration of the Sabbath, and the new moons by all the Gentiles (see the end of the Book of Isaiah ver. 23.) [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.2]
9. The total extinction of idolatry. See Isaiah 2:18, "And the idols he will consume completely"; and 42:17, "They shall turn backward, and be filled with shame who trust in images, and say unto the molten statues. Ye are our gods!" See also Psalm 97:7. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.3]
10. Unity of faith shall prevail throughout the world. See Isaiah 45:23, "By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, righteousness hath come forth from my mouth, and a word which shall not emptily return, namely, that unto me every knee shall bend, and by me every tongue shall swear." Zechariah 14:9, "And the Lord shall be a King over the whole earth; on that day shall the Lord be one and his name One. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.2]
11. The kingdom of Israel shall be the principal one in existence. See Isaiah 60:10, "And the children of strangers shall build thy walls, and their kings shall serve thee." Also, verse 12, "For the nation and the kingdom which shall not be willing to serve thee shall perish, and the people shall be utterly destroyed." Daniel 7:27, "And the kingdom and the dominion and the multitude of kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of saints of the most high, whose kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers shall serve and obey Him." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.1]
12. Peace shall be restored after the subjugation of the resisting powers. See Isaiah 2:4, "And they shall strike their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall no more lift up sword against nation, and they shall no more learn warfare." Hosea 2:18, "And the bow and the sword and the warfare I will break down and remove from the land, and ye shall rest in security." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.5]
13. That there should be peace and harmony even among the animals, in the land of Israel; nor should they harm man. See Isaiah 11:6, "The wolf shall also 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." (Ver.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. (Ver. 8) And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. (Ver. 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."
The like auspicious promises are repeated and amplified Isaiah 65:6, and Ezekiel 34:26. Also in Hosea 2:18, we read, "And in that day, I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground," etc. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.6]
14. Sin shall no longer prevail. See Deuteronomy 30:6, "And the Lord shall circumcise thy heart and the heart of thy seed to love the Lord thy God," etc. Isaiah 60:21, "And thy people, being righteous altogether, shall possess the land for ever. They are scions of my planting, the work of my hands, my glory." Jeremiah 3:17, "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall straightway flock into it, and shall no more go after the perversion of their evil heart." Ibid, chap. 50:20, "In those days and at that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought and not be, and the sin of Judah, and it shall not be found, for I shall forgive those I shall leave behind." Ezekiel 36:25-27, "And I shall sprinkle upon you pure water, and ye shall be clean; from all your impurities will I cleanse you," etc. "And I will give unto you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put into you, and I will remove the heart of stone out of your flesh; and I will give unto you a heart of flesh, and my spirit will I put into you, and I will do it so that you shall walk in my statutes, and observe my judgments and do them." Again, ib. 37:23 and 24, "Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will save them out of all their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them, so that they shall be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd; they shall also walk in my judgments and observe my statutes and do them." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.4]
15. Ancient troubles and sorrows shall cease for ever. See Isaiah 65:16, "He that blesseth himself in the land shall bless himself with the God of Truth, and he that sweareth in the land shall swear by the God of Truth; for the former troubles shall be forgotten, and be withdrawn from mine eyes," Again (ver. 19), "And I shall exult in Jerusalem, and rejoice in my people. The voice of crying shall not be heard," etc. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.7]
16. The Divine presence (Shechinah) shall be restored, as is promised in the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:26, 27, and 28, "And I shall make unto them an ever-lasting covenant, yea, an everlasting covenant it shall be unto them. And I shall favour them and multiply them, and I shall put my sanctuary in the midst of them, my divine presence shall for ever be among them, and I shall be unto them as a God, and they shall be unto me as a people, and all the nations shall know that I the Lord am sanctifying Israel, since my sanctuary shall for ever be amongst them." Again, ib. 39:29, "And I shall not hide any more my countenance from them, since I have poured my spirit over the house of Israel, saith the Lord God." Joel 2:27, 3:17 "And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel...and I am the Lord your God residing in Zion my holy mountain; and Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall no more pass through it." See also Isaiah 11:9, "And the earth shall be full of knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.8]
17. The prophet Isaiah will appear before the coming of that "great and awful day" (see the end of Malachi).
18. The future temple will be rebuilt according to the design predetermined by the Almighty (see Ezekiel 40 to 45). [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.12]
19. The ancient division of the Holy Land will be resumed. See Ezekiel 47:13, commencing "Thus saith the Lord your God, This is the border whereby ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel," etc. [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.12]
20. The resurrection will take place in those latter days. See Deuteronomy 32:39, "Behold I, even I, am ever the same, and there is no other god with me. I bring to death, and I bring to life again; I crush and I heal again," etc. Isaiah 26:19, "Thy dead shall live again, together with my dead body shall rise again. Awake and sing, ye that live in the dust," etc. See also Daniel 12:2, "And many of those that sleep in the dust shall awake; these for eternal life and those for disgrace and everlasting horror." [A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.13]
These points are subjects of ardent expectation, and will surely be fulfilled at the appointed time of the King Messiah. Nothing that is promised will be withheld, "for God is not a man who lieth."
A strong corroboration of our belief in the triumphs of the Messiah is afforded us by the description of the fifth kingdom in Daniel 2. The fifth kingdom, not represented by any part of the image seen in Nebuchadnezzar's vision, will subsist for ever; that is to say, the state and the faith of Israel will supersede all other kingdoms and creeds. This is predicted in the following words of Daniel 2:44:"And in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and his kingdom will not be left to another people, but it will crush and demolish all those kingdoms, and it shall last for ever." Israel is called "The people of saints (or holy people) of the most High," a designation of which we find many instances in our Holy Scriptures.
The epithet "holy people" is given us, for example, in Deuteronomy 7:6, "For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and He has chosen thee to be unto Him a people select from all the nations," etc. Isaiah 62:12, "And they shall call them, The holy people. The redeemed of the Lord." Jeremiah 2:3, "Israel is holiness unto the Lord, the firstling of his produce," etc.
The important passage in Daniel 7:18, "And the saints of the most high shall receive and possess the kingdom to eternity and to the eternity of eternities," etc., relates, therefore, as every unbiassed reader must perceive, to the people of Israel, and to no other nation, for surely the same Providence which has established us, and has blessed us with a holy revelation, will also watch over us and render our future condition great, glorious, and free from the recurrence of past dangers.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 2.6.]
Christians have raised the following argument against our restoration:They say, in the captivity of Egypt you [Jews] have been kept four hundred years; in that of Babylon, seventy years; but in subjugation by the Romans your, captivity has been prolonged more than 1500 years. Moreover, you had received predictions which determined with exactness the duration of your two former exiles, while that of the present time was not even revealed to the prophets, so that now it may be said, You are suffering under the curse written in Leviticus 26:38, "And ye shall be lost among the gentiles, and the land of your enemies shall consume you." The very length of your exile is a proof that God does not desire to lead you back to the land of your fathers.
Reply:The communication made to Abraham of the period fixed for Israel's captivity in Egypt was merely incidental, it being explanatory of the delay in the appropriation of the territory promised to that patriarch. When the Lord said to him, "Thou must know, thy seed shall be strangers in a land which shall not be theirs, and they shall make them serve, and shall afflict them four hundred years," it intimated that the land would only be allotted to the posterity of Abraham after the iniquity of the first inhabitants of Palestine would be full, and when, according to the unerring Divine prescience, the fit time for releasing the Jews from their taskmasters, and for punishing the Canaanites, would arrive. The long period for Israel's humiliation in Egypt allowed, therefore, ample time for the nations of Palestine to repent and to abandon their evil doings. The length of the Babylonian captivity was, according to our humble view, limited to seventy years, because seventy sabbatical years had been neglected. The duration of the exile of the Jews was thus appointed to be equal to the number of years during which the divine ordinance of abstaining from husbandry and of giving rest to the soil, had been broken. Thus we read in Leviticus 26:34 and 35, "Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye shall be in your enemies' land, even then shall the land rest and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest, because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it." With this passage we compare the following of 2 Chronicles 36:21:"To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths, for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil three score and ten years."
The special object of the captivity of Babylon had been attained by the short exile, the wider object of their present exile, however, requires a more prolonged period. We have now to expiate the sins committed from the time of Israel's first entrance into the Holy Land,sins which have created a division between us and the Lord; therefore, Divine Wisdom has ordained that we shall abide our time in dispersion until the approach of the latter days. Thus says Ezekiel 22:15, "And I will scatter thee among the gentiles and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee." To this captivity also alludes the promise in Lamentations 4:22, "Thine iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is ended; He will no more cause thee to go into captivity." We have already, in a former quotation from 2 Chronicles, shown the real cause of the second captivity, and are now enabled satisfactorily to infer from the above extract from Lamentations that troubles endured in our present exile have been decreed with the view of purifying us from our sins, and of bringing to pass the prediction in Deuteronomy 30:6, "And the Lord will circumcise thy heart and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul for the sake of thy own life." In regard to this present captivity, it is also said in Ezekiel 36:26 and 27, "And I will give unto you a new heart, and a new spirit I will place in the midst of you." Again (ib.), "And I will make that you shall walk in my statutes and observe my judgments and do them." There are many other promises which have not as yet been realized, because the ancient sins are not completely eradicated. We have moreover to state that the time of the ultimate redemption is unrevealed, because the knowledge of it would not encourage the timorous if they were to perceive it to be at too remote a distance, to persevere in godliness, nor would it avail the refractory, who would be the more presumptuous if they were to notice that the approaching restoration is not delayed by their own evil ways. The founder of the Christian faith was himself of opinion that the period of the restoration was to remain unknown to his disciples, and he gave, in the book of Acts 1:6 and 7, a striking proof that he was neither a messiah nor a divine being. We find there, "When they [viz., the apostles], therefore, were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." The term of this captivity has indeed not been confided to any man, and is solely known to God, whose knowledge is unsearchable.
Our opinion, that our restoration depends on repentance, is founded on the following passage from Deuteronomy 30:1 to 6:"And it shall come to pass when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and shall call to mind among all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee; and thou shalt turn unto the Lord thy God and shalt obey His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children with all thine heart and with all thy soul: that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity and have compassion on thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee; and the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed; and thou shalt possess it, and He will do thee good and multiply thee above thy fathers, and the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart and the heart of thy seed," etc.
On our own will, then, depends our repentance, and consequently also the abbreviation of the period of our captivity.
From the verse in Leviticus 26:38, "And ye shall be lost among the gentiles, and the land of your enemies shall consume you," it must not be inferred that an irrevocable loss or a total perdition is meant. The Hebrew word expressive of loss, "Abad," alludes to the temporary state of despair,a state in which a man is unable to escape the impending danger, though relief and deliverance may be his portion at some future day. Hence Isaiah 27:13, "And the lost ones in Assyria and those exiled in the land of Egypt shall come," etc.
If "Abad" (to lose or be lost) were to be taken in the sense of complete perdition or cessation of existence, it could not have been said in Leviticus 26:44, "And even this, when they shall be in the land of their enemies, I shall not reject them nor abhor them so as to consume them and to break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God." See also Isaiah 66:22, "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I am making remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain." Jeremiah 30:11, "For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee; though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, I will not make a full end of thee; but I will correct thee in measure and will not leave thee altogether unpunished."
The warning pronounced in Leviticus 26:38, "And the land of your enemies shall consume you," has, unfortunately been fulfilled in a grievous measure; many of our brethren have sealed with their blood their fidelity to the faith of their fathers, undergoing the penalties described in Psalm 44:22, "For thy sake we are slain all the day long, we are considered like sheep for the slaughter."
The argument, that the length of our present captivity is a proof of our total rejection from the special favour of the Almighty has no reasonable foundation whatever. The designs of the Almighty take their regular and unerring course through hundreds and thousands of years. They are most wisely conceived, although their working and ultimate completion escape our perception, or extend beyond our terrestrial existence. Besides this, their own history elucidates the truth of the saying uttered by the psalmist (Psalm 90:4), "A thousand years are in Thine eyes, only like yesterday which is past." The world had existed more than two thousand years before the Almighty revealed Himself, and chose "a nation from the midst of a nation, with trials, and signs, and miracles, and warfare, and a strong hand and an out-stretched arm, and awfully great doings."
Finally, we would remind those who taunt us with an everlasting abandonment, because of the restoration not having as yet been granted to us, that the salvation through Jesus, which forms their religious boasting, and which, according to their doctrines, saved the souls of the pious patriarchs from the dominion of Satan, did not come to pass till about four thousand years after the creation of man, why should they then object to our waiting for the time of favour when the appointed period of our restoration shall arrive?
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 2.7.]
We were once questioned by a Christian, how we could expect to be reinstated in the inheritance of our several tribes, seeing that we are totally unaware of which tribe we are descended, and being so completely mixed up with each other as not to possess any means of tracing our pedigree?
To this we replied:
The tribes led into captivity by Salmonassar, king of Assyria, were not destroyed, but merely transported from one country to another. Judah, the principal tribe, and Benjamin, remained alone in Palestine. Many of the exiles of the ten tribes who returned settled among the tribe of Judah, who, continuing in the land of their fathers, gave the name of Judah (in Latin Judæushence the curtailed name Jew formerly spelt Jue) to the whole remnant of Israel.
Thus we find in the book of Esther, that Mordecai, though descended from Benjamin, was called, like all the other exiles of Persia, a Jehudi (i. e., a Judaean, or Jew). The descendants of the priests and the Levites have to this day retained the knowledge of their origin. Those who are ignorant of their origin will, at the time of our restoration, be endowed by Divine aid, with the necessary knowledge of their descent. For the prophet Elijah will come before "the great and awful day," and he will turn the heart of the children to their fathers'!
WE SHALL NOW PROCEED TO THE EXPLANATION
OF SUCH BIBLICAL PASSAGES AS ARE ASSUMED BY CHRISTIANS
TO BEAR REFERENCE TO CERTAIN POINTS OF THEIR FAITH.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.1.]
Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning Elohim [God] created the heaven and the earth." Elohim, ending in a plural form as though it meant Gods, has been interpreted by Christians as an evidence of the plurality in the Deity, consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who are denominated Trinity. Our view of the term Elohim is as follows:
Those who are conversant with the Hebrew language are aware that Elohim relates not merely to the Supreme Being, but also to angels and human authorities. Manoah, the father of Samson (mentioned in Judges 13:22), after he found that he had perceived "an angel of the Lord," said, "We shall surely die, for we have seen Elohim." In reference to human authorities, we read in Exodus 2:2:9, "Before the Elohim [judges] the cause of the two men shall be brought, and he, whom the Elohim [judges] shall declare guilty, shall pay twofold unto his neighbour." Having thus shewn that the word Elohim bears various interpretations, it is perfectly out of question to refer it in the first verse of Genesis, to a plurality of persons in the Deity, of which assumption no corroboration whatever is given in our Revelation.
We should like to understand how the name of Elohim, given by God to Moses, Exodus 7:1, in the words, "Behold I have made thee an Elohim to Pharaoh," can be allowed by Christian expounders to allude to a plurality of persons, and represent in a mortal creature a visible Trinity?
Suppose, for argument's sake, Elohim does allude to a plurality of persons, how could the occurrence of Eloha (the singular form of Elohim) be justified? Thus we find in Deuteronomy 32:15, "And he forsook the Eloha [God] who made him," and Psalm 50:22, "Ye who forget Eloha [God]." Again, how can the advocates of the existence of a Trinity account for the alternate employment of Elohim and Eloha? See Isaiah 44:6, "And besides me there is no Elohim"; and, in ver. 8, we read, "Is there an Eloha besides me?" If the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity depend on the term "Elohim," the word "Eloha "most decidedly disproves it, since it renders the allusion to a plurality perfectly unnecessary.
The real object in the plural form in Elohim is to represent authority and power. The genius of the Hebrew language admits this particularity not merely in Elohim, but in words of profane signification. Thus is used Adonim (lords) instead of Adon (lord). For instance, Isaiah 19:4, "In the hand of a hard Adonim [lord, literally lords]", Genesis 39:20, "And the Adonai [lords instead of Adon, Lord] took him, viz., Joseph," etc.; Exodus 31, "If בעליו [Baiolou, his master] is with him," etc.
The plural form is used instead of the singular in many modem languages (for instance you instead of thou).
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.1.]
Genesis 1:26, "And God said, We will make man in our image according to our likeness, and they shall rule over the fish of the sea," etc.
From the words, "We will make man," the Christian expounders of this verse infer, that an allusion to a plurality of divine persons is made.
Refutation:If the verb נעשה Naasseh, we will make, related to a divine plurality, why do we find immediately afterwards the singular form, "And God created man in His image?" or why not, "And they created man?" The same explanation which we have given in the preceding chapter on the employment of the plural form, holds also good in regard to the present passage.
To bring to mind the manifold powers of the Almighty employed in the creation of the noblest of His creatures, the plural is employed by way of high distinction. We will point out some other passages which contain the verb in the plural for the sake of emphasis, although they indicate a strict unity of person. Genesis 11:7, "Go to, let us go down and let us confound their speech," instead of "let me," etc. Job 18:2, "Ye shall understand, and then we will speak" (instead of I will speak).
The words of the Almighty, "We will make man in our image," may have been addressed to the Angels, for "He maketh known his will to his servants." Thus we find in Genesis 18:17, "Should I conceal from Abraham what I am doing?" In the same chapter occurs a parallel expression to the above-mentioned passage in Genesis 11:7; but there the singular number is used, "I will go down and see." If a doctrine of plurality of personages were to be enforced by the grammatical form of words, the very alterations which occur between the singular and the plural would frustrate such a doctrine, and suggest doubt and uncertainty instead of confidence and conviction. Our Holy Scriptures contradict in the most direct terms every opinion which departs from the belief in an immutable unity, or ascribes corporeity to him in whose spiritual likeness the soul of man is created with the object of acknowledging, obeying, and adoring the eternal one God.
It is remarkable, that Christians are desirous to make us believe in the doctrine of the trinity, which is so totally unauthorised by our Holy Bible, and even by their own New Testament.
Our Divine Law tells us expressly in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord."
Ibid. 4:35, "Thou hast been shewn these things, in order to know that the Lord is God, and there is none besides Him."
And again, ib. (ver. 39) "Thou shalt know to-day and take it to heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and on the earth beneath, and there is none besides."
Isaiah 43:11, says, "I, even I, am the Lord, and there is no saviour besides me"
Ibid. 44:6, "Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel and his Redeemer, I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God."
Ibid. 45:5, "I am the Lord, and there is none else besides me."
Again (ver. 6), "In order that they shall know, from the rising of the sun [east] unto the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is none else."
Ibid, 40:18, "And to whom will you liken God, and what likeness have you to compare with him."
Jeremiah 10:6, "There is none like Thee, O Lord. Thou art great, and thy name is great in power."
Hosea 13:4, "I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no God but me; and there is no Saviour besides me."
Psalms 86:10, "For thou art great and doing miracles; Thou alone art the Lord."
Nehemiah 9:6, "Thou alone art the Lord, Thou hast made the heavens, the heavens of the heavens, and all their hosts," etc.
1 Chronicles 17:20, "There is none like unto thee, and there is no God like unto thee, and there is no God besides thee, according to all we have heard with our ears."
We might adduce numerous other similar corroborative passages, were it needful. In order to counteract the dangerous effect of the belief in a good and evil principle (a belief prevailing in Persia, etc.), our Divine Instructor tells us, "Behold now that I even I am ever the same, and there is no God with me; I kill and I bring to life; I crush and heal again." Isaiah 45:7, "He formeth light and createth darkness, maketh peace and createth evil; I the Lord am doing all these things." The Deity, who calls into being conditions and events of totally opposite natures, and who, by mere power of will brings things into being, or reduces them into annihilation, is, according to all scriptural testimony, the most absolute Unity, and, as such, without the slightest shade of mysticism. This Unity can alone be comprehended by our finite understanding. He who alone possesses absolute power, and is the first cause, is the Creator of Beings who depend on His will, remain ever, and in every respect, subjected to His Supreme Mandate, and are liable to change and decay. Hence, also, human reason subscribes to the doctrine that God is an absolute and a perfect Unity.
This absolute Unity cannot, under any logical view, be divided into a Duality or a Trinity. If such division is to be forced upon the faith of man, reason remonstrates against it; the faculty of thought given to us by the Almighty protests against a false representation of the Divine Being, and proves that God has constituted the mind in such a manner as to worship Him in accordance with His true attributes. From the moment that a divisibility of essence is attributed to God, we should be compelled to maintain, with the Polytheists, that He is deficient of omnipresence, and that He is comparable with created matter. How can we, then, repudiate such clear testimonies of God's unity, as are contained in passages like the following, Isaiah 40:18: "And unto whom will ye liken God, and what likeness have ye to compare unto Him"? We cannot even grant that God from His own resolve would reproduce, and double or treble Himself. Such an assumption could only spring from the narrowest views of a sophistical or a perverted mind; but it could not emanate from a faith which commands veneration and rational obedience.
Even the authors of the New Testament have given opinions which disprove the untenable position of the Christians who make belief in the Trinity an indispensable portion of their creed. Matthew 12:32, says, "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." The same is repeated in Mark 3:28, 29, and Luke 12:10. These authorities of the Christians have their data here clearly averred that there is no identity between the true Deity and the personages subsequently added to the name of the Divine Being. In Mark 13:32, we have also a proof of the want of identity between the Son and the Father: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."
Nor do we find throughout the New Testament any evidence to show that the belief in a Trinity constitutes a part of the code of Christianity, or that Jesus and God are to be held as One and the same Being. On the contrary, Jesus himself is made to profess, in Matthew 10:40, "He that receiveth you receives me, and He that receiveth me receiveth Him that sent me." Here Jesus puts himself merely as a messenger of God. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans 5:15, also says, "The gift by grace, which is by one man Jesus Christ," etc. Matthew 20:18, again says, "Behold, we go to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed," etc.; and in verse 28 he states, "Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister," etc.
In the very prayer instituted by Jesus, and denominated after him "The Lord's Prayer," his disciples are taught to invoke the Father who is in heaven, but are not told to use the combination subsequently made of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We see clearly that the New Testament affords not a single evidence to authorise a change from the pure belief in the Divine Unity to the complex and unintelligible dogma of that of the Trinity.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.2.]
Genesis 2:17, "And from the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat. For on the day thou shalt eat thereof thou shalt surely die." The religious authorities of the Christians deduce from this passage the belief that Adam, by transgressing the Divine prohibition, forfeited individually, and through him all his posterity, the enjoyment of the everlasting beatitude of the soul, and that he and his seed, including our patriarchs, prophets, and pious ancestors, fell a prey to hell, from which they were only saved through the death and intercession of Jesus. The reduplication of the Hebrew phrase מות חמות (dying thou shalt die, or, thou shalt surely die), is taken to be a proper testimony of this singular tenet. As a further proof that the ancient personages mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures were aware of the doom awaiting them after their quitting this life on earth, Christian authors have cited the lament of Jacob in Genesis 37:35, "I shall go down into hell (Sheol) to my son in mourning." Also the words of Hezekiah, in Isaiah 38:10, have been pointed out as corroborative evidence, for he says there, "I shall enter the gates of hell (Sheol)."
Refutation.When Adam was told by the Almighty, "On the day thou shalt eat thereof thou shalt surely die," it was implied that Adam should actually be punished with the loss of life, on the very same day he should counteract the command of God; but we evidently see by his continued existence that he only ensured the penalty of death. A passage similar to the one we have just quoted occurs in 1 Kings 2:37, where Shimei, once the insolent enemy of the fugitive king, David, was prohibited by the son of that monarch from quitting the capital; and he was told, "On the day thou shalt go forth from Jerusalem and pass the brook of Kidron, thou must know that thou shalt surely die." Yet Shimei was not punished with death on the same day he left Jerusalem. In like sense, we take the Divine injunction ending with the term, "Thou shalt surely die." It meant that on the day Adam would, by his disobedience, incur the displeasure of the Almighty, he would be afflicted by various punishments, such as reaping thorns and thistles, and living by his hard labour on the scanty produce of an unblessed soil, and until his severe trials should terminate in the fatal dispensation of death. This sentence being the most prominent and inevitable destiny of the transgressor, it was announced in the first instance, but not with the intent of its being immediately fulfilled.
As to the idea of the reduplication of the verb "to die," shewing that the punishment attending the transgression of Adam was of an hereditary nature, we have found in Scripture a complete refutation of such an interpretation; for we read in Deuteronomy 24:16, "Fathers shall not die for children, nor children for fathers." The principle here laid down cannot solely be referred to the sentence of death, but relates also to every minor punishment, so that neither parents nor children are to be amenable to punishment for each other's misdeeds.
The reader, on referring to the whole matter of Genesis 3, will perceive that it had not been the object of the Almighty to remove Adam from the earth on the day he committed the transgression of the Divine command. The punishments Adam had to endure, received their completion only at his death. In the passage above cited, it is stated that the mission of the first patriarch was the propagation of his species. His mode of subsistence is there pointed out to consist in long and wearying toil, and only after a period predetermined "by the Almighty" the doom was to be accomplished, which was pronounced in the words, "Thou art dust, and unto dust shalt thou return." These last words evidently shew that the retribution of Adam's sin related to the body, and not to the soul, for nothing but the inanimate corpse is the prey of the earth its native element. Of that portion alone it is appositely remarked in Ecclesiastes 12:7, "The dust returneth to the earth as it was, but the spirit shall return to God who gave it."
We see thus that the formula מות חמות ("dying thou shalt die," or "thou shalt surely die"), alludes to the perishable state of the body, and not to the state of the soul. But we have further evidence that the soul of the posterity of Adam were not consigned to perdition, in consequence of the sin of the first father; for we find in the Levitical laws that abscission of the soul from her people is to be the punishment for various sins. See, for instance, Leviticus 7:27: So that each man who dies in his own guilt must suffer for his own iniquity, and is severed from his people, that is to say, his soul is excluded from a reunion with the souls of those who have gone before him into the realms of bliss. On the other hand, we find numerous instances, that, in describing the death of the righteous, the text used runs thus: "And they were gathered unto their people," see, for instance. Genesis 25:17; Deuteronomy 32:50. A sentence in direct opposition to the annihilation of the soul, illustrating our argument, may be found in Leviticus 22:3, "That the soul shall be cut off from my presence, I am the Lord."
In these early records of humanity we have a clear lesson of the immortality of the soul. The pious and worthy are received into undisturbed beatitude, while those who defile themselves by sins are removed from the enjoyment of the glorious contemplation of the Deity.
Far be it, therefore, from us to put faith in the doctrine propounded by Christian divines, that the predecessors of Jesus were, without regard to their innocence or piety, totally and collectively abandoned, and consigned to the abode of hell. Far be it from us to believe that, that God causes "His pious servants to see perdition"; that He hated those who loved Him, or that He regarded them favourably while they lived on earth, yet disowned them after they had quitted the scenes of their pious aspirations.
It is utterly revolting to the mind to attribute to the Almighty the slightest degree of injustice, or of indifference to man, whether he be righteous or iniquitous. How could such a prophet as Jonah have prayed, 4:3, "And now, Lord, do Thou take my soul from me, for my death is better than my life." Would he, cognisant of the future punishment of the soul, have desired to be taken away from this earth, in order to undergo inevitable torments in after life? Again, when Enoch and Elijah were "taken away by God," as Scripture expresses it, and which removal could happen to the soul only, should we imagine that God designed to manifest His special love to them, by giving them over to constant torments in hell?
We have to combat another unfounded opinion set forth by our antagonists. They maintain that their "God Messiah," through his own death, saved the souls of those who had gone before him from their doom in hell. How can it be asserted that the first sin of the first man should meet with retrospective and prospective atonement, through the perpetration of a far more heinous crime in laying a violent hand on the body of a presumed Deity? The difficulty of the position of those who maintain these views is increased by the very words of Paul, in his epistle to the Romans 5:14: "Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression," etc.
In Leviticus 18:5, we find a still stronger proof of the inconsistency of believing that a divine displeasure was felt against all predecessors of Jesus. We read there, "And ye shall observe my statutes and my commandments which man shall perform, and through which he shall live." Scripture here points out to us in the clearest and most incontestable manner, that immortal bliss is conceded to the individual who faithfully adheres to the Divine will, so that man is not in any respect dependant on the acts which may have been performed by his ancestors. We may now apply this reasoning to the sin of Adam, since we see that man receives rewards and punishments according to his performance of the Divine commandments, and that he is individually responsible for his actions, also Adam could only be personally accountable for the sin he had committed.
The commandments, being denominated "a tree of life, for those who take firm hold of them," do not suggest that our terrestrial existence is to be prolonged by their observance; but they are calculated to place us on an equality of excellency with the patriarchs, the chosen servants of God. Without closing our ears against truth and reason, we cannot admit that a responsibility is imposed upon man for the sins of his first progenitor. Man's own immortal life is imperilled by his own doings, and therefore God, in His Divine mercy, has enjoined on us His commandments, "which man performeth and lives thereby." Passages to the same effect are repeatedly found even in the book of Ezekiel, see 18:19, 20, where he speaks concerning the life of the soul, "He who does judgment and righteousness shall surely live and not die." And again, it is written there, "And who does judgment and righteousness, his soul shall live"; for except the life of the soul, there is no life but what is succeeded by death. From all that has been adduced hitherto, it is clear, that the holy and righteous men were not condemned to hell, nor afflicted with the spiritual torments of the first man, they not having rebelled against the Lord; but, on the contrary, they found favour in His sight, and secured everlasting salvation through their own merits, without requiring extraneous interference to save their souls. In support of our conviction Ezekiel says, chap. 18, "The soul that sinneth shall die. The son shall not be visited through the iniquity of the father, nor the father through the iniquity of the son," etc. The object of the prophet is to declare that there shall be no condemnation to the soul, except through its own crime, not through the crime of another. It is here in place to settle an apparent contradiction of Scripturenamely, We find stated in the ten commandments, "He visiteth the iniquities of the fathers on their children," etc.; from this an hereditary punishment seems obvious: but on a close examination, this phrase is satisfactorily explained. The punishment of fathers on their children takes place where the iniquity is continued to be exercised by the children; and therefore Holy Writ holds out the threat of successive visitation, saying, On those who hate me, which explanation is applicable to all similar passages in Scripture. Conformably to this interpretation, the author of the Lamentations says, chap. 5. "Our fathers sinned and are no more, and we have borne their iniquities," which means, "Our fathers. through their guilty conduct, brought on the troubles of the captivity, and they died in consequence of their misdeeds. We also, who succeeded them in this captivity, have added to our own transgressions those of our ancestors, by imitating their evil deeds, and thus fulfilling the prediction, Leviticus 26:39, "And they who are left among you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemy's land, and also through the iniquities of their fathers retained among them they shall pine away." The pious contemporaries of the captivity, however, as for instance, Jeremiah, Baruch the son of Nerejah, Ezekiel, Daniel with his companions, and others, were benefited through the very trials which they shared with their sinful brethren; for among the Gentile governments they were raised to far greater distinction than they had attained under the kings of Israel. These advantages they enjoyed solely through the care with which they avoided the deeds of their wicked ancestors; and therefore they laboured not under the infliction of curses which the Almighty ordains to the race of sinners. The opinion of the Christians, that no salvation was granted prior to the death of Jesus, meets with another refutation in Luke 16:19: the history of the beggar Lazarus represents that he was after death to repose in beatitude on the bosom of the patriarch Abraham. This shews that Abraham and Lazarus were not in hell, and leads to the conclusion that the pious were not deprived of a felicitous eternity, even before Jesus was said to have redeemed them, but that the wicked only meet with merited retribution.
We return once more to the reduplication of the term thou shalt surely die, which, as we have before stated, has been misapplied to the death of the soul. The argument is totally wrong, and rests on the misapprehension of the Hebrew idiom, according to which the infinitive is frequently placed before the ordinary tense; see, for instance, 2 Kings 8:10, "Go and say, Thou shalt surely not live; and the Lord revealed unto me that he shall surely die" (the infinitive die, and to live, here accompanies the respective future tenses). The sentence quoted here serves as a reply to the question asked by the king, "Shall I recover from my illness?" (literally live through). The answer can only suit the question. The enquirer asks merely whether he is to live on or die (in a bodily sense), and the answer refers to the death with regard to the body only, and is given with the double verbs. Such a reduplication occurs also in 1 Samuel 14:44, where Saul says, "Surely Jonathan shall die," and in the same book (22:16), "Surely, Ahimelech, thou shalt die." Though the threat of death is expressed with the repetition of the verb מות (to die) it has no other signification than bodily death. Other verbs are repeated in a like manner, for instance, Exodus 21:20, נקם ינקם, he shall surely be revenged: Ibid (19:13, סקול יסקל או ירה ײרה "He shall surely be stoned or shot through." Genesis 15:13 ידע תדע (knowing thou shalt know) "thou shalt surely know." On the other hand, we find in Scripture that the use of the simple unrepeated verb, מות, to die, is sufficient to indicate perdition of the soul, as, for instance, Ezekiel 18:20, "The soul that sinneth it shall die," היא תמות. From the preceding proofs and argument it is established that there is not the remotest allusion to hell in the lament of Jacob. Genesis 37:35, "I shall go down into the grave (Sheol) unto my son mourning." Neither in the thanksgiving of Hezekiah (chap. 38:10), where he says, "I shall go to the gates of the grave שאול (Sheol). Thus we find also in the Psalms (49:15), "Like sheep they are laid into the grave (Sheol)." Again, "Sheol cannot thank thee." In these passages, the word מות (maveth) death might be used appropriately for Sheol (the grave). In other parts likewise Sheol is used as the resting place of the inanimate body; for instance, Job 14:13, "O that Thou wouldst hide me in the (Sheol)"; Ecclesiastes 9:10, "In the (Sheol) whither thou art going"; Genesis 37:35, "I will go down into the grave (Sheol) unto my son"; and instances where Sheol means the depth of the earth are to be met with in the Psalms (139:8), "If I make my bed in the grave (or depth of the earth), Thou art there"; and Job 11:8, "And deeper than the grave what canst thou know?"
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.3.]
Genesis 3:15, "And I will put an enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel." The Christians attempt to strengthen their faith by maintaining that the words, "it shall bruise thy head," is a type of Jesus, who is to kill Satan, styled in holy writ "the serpent."
Refutation.The interpretation is fallacious, for if the passage under consideration meant that Jesus was to kill Satan, that is to say, destroy the cause of sin, there ought not to be any sinners among his believers, but since they still continue committing sins, that opinion is overthrown both by their practical life and by the same verse on which they found this doctrine. The end of the passage (thou shalt bruise its heel) shows the unsoundness of such assertions. How could the serpent (sin) do injury after its being destroyed? Moreover, how could Satan induce the Jews and the heathen to kill Jesus and his disciples, he (Jesus) already having destroyed Satan. Paul himself affords a refutation by promising (Romans 16:20), "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." The same writer, in his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, states (chap. 2:18), "Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I, Paul, once and again, but Satan hindered us." This tends to show that, even after the death of Jesus, in the times of Paul, Satan had still preserved his existence and exercised his dominion over those who had been saved through Jesus, and that, the Gospel is at variance with this symbolical interpretation.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.4.]
Genesis 22:18, "And in thy seed shall the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou (Abraham) hast obeyed my voice." On this verse the Christians found the assertion, that the promise given to Abraham as to the blessing of all nations through his seed, had no reference to the whole race of Abraham's descendants, but specially and exclusively to Jesus as the pre-eminent posterity of the patriarch; that, therefore, this promise was never realized on other individuals.
Refutation.Here, again, we have to treat with a palpable fallacy, because the Christians generally argue in favour of their religion from detached portions of the prophecies, without going deeply into the sacred subject and studying the context. The slightest attention to the verse which precedes the one cited, will enable us to judge that no single individual is meant by the Divine bounty. For there we see plainly predicted, "For I will surely bless thee, and multiply thy seed like the stars of heaven, and like the sand on the shore of the sea, and thy seed shall inherit the gates of his enemies; and with thy seed shall be blessed all the nations of the earth," refers to the whole posterity, which is to be abundant as the stars of heaven, and the sand on the shore of the sea. Through the entire seed, through the whole people of Israel the other nations of the earth are to be blessed. Moses gives his testimony to this in addressing the people of Israel, Deuteronomy 1:10, "The Lord your God hath multiplied you; and behold ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude." To this effect, also, the Almighty gave His assurances to Israel and Jacob, see Genesis 26:4, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed"; and lb. 28:14, the Lord says to Jacob, "And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shall spread abroad to the west, to the east, to the north, and to the south, and through thee and thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." The Divine promises of love agree with the one given to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed"; and lb. 18:18, "And Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him."
The patriarchs had become a blessing to all the nations of the earth by fearlessly acknowledging the existence, unity, and omnipotence of the Lord, and by proclaiming His name in all their migrations; and they had raised themselves above all other people by their communion with the Divine Being, who awards true blessing and spiritual beatitude.
An equal reward of bliss was appointed unto their children following their paths and observing the virtuous acts of their forefathers. Agreeably to this, Scripture declares. Genesis 18:19, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, that they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him." See also Isaiah 51:2, "Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him." It is well known no spiritual blessing has ever fallen to the lot of the Gentiles, unless conveyed to them through the medium of Israel's religion. This will be borne out by the following quotations:Numbers 10:32, "And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us [Israelites] the same we do unto thee [Gentiles]." Isaiah 14:1, "For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land, and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob." lb. 56:6, "Also the sons of the strangers that join themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love the name of the Lord to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant." (Ver. 7) "Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer," etc. lb. 60:3, "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Zechariah 2:15 (English version, ver. 11), "And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of Hosts hath sent me unto thee." lb. 8:23, "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, in those days it shall come to pass that ten men out of all languages of the nations, shall take hold, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." And Psalms 67:1, "God will be gracious unto and will bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us."Selah. "That thy ways may be known upon earth," etc. Passages analogous to the preceding will be amply discussed in the course of this work.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.5.]
Genesis 49:10, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto him shall belong the gathering of the people."
The Christians argue from this verse, that the patriarch Jacob did hereby prophesy the coming of Jesus, whom he (Jacob) called Shiloh, and through him (Jesus) the prophecy was fulfilled; for the sceptre did not depart from the Jews until Jesus appeared: with Him only departed royalty from the Jews.
The Refutation.The Christians labour under the misconception, that Jesus was a member of the tribe of Judah, and king of the Jews. Now, were this interpretation the true one, how can they reconcile it with the fact, that the sceptre did not depart from Judah at the advent of the so-called Shiloh? Moreover, we find that Judah lost the sovereignty at the destruction of the first temple, when Nebuchadnezzar led Zedekiah, king of Judah, into captivity; an event which happened 430 years anterior to the birth of Jesus. During the existence of the second temple, however, we find no indication that a descendant of Judah governed Israel. Herod and his descendant, who occupied the throne until the fall of the second temple, were of low birth, and belonged to the tribe of Judah. How can they, therefore, maintain that the sceptre had not departed from Judah, nor royalty from Israel, until the coming of Jesus?
In investigating the true sense of the words, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah" (meaning the tribe of Judah), we perceive that the patriarch Jacob, by his blessing, bequeathed to Judah the supremacy over his brethren. Accordingly, he says, Genesis 49:8, "The children of thy father shall bow down to thee';' and on this account he compares him with the lion as the king among the animals. Hence we find the tribe of Judah taking the precedence in the encampments (see Numbers 10:13, et seq.), "And Nashon, the prince of that tribe, was admitted on the first day [of the dedication of the tabernacle] to offer up his sacrifice" (see Numbers 7:12). Subsequently, when Joshua was dead, and the Israelites inquired of the Lord, Judges 1:1, "Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first to fight against them? The Lord said, Judah shall go up," etc. From these passages it appears, that, after the leader had left the tribes without a successor, they inquired which of them should assume the rule and precedency, and the Almighty awarded it to the tribe of Judah who, 1 Chronicles 5:2, was the most powerful among his brethren. This superiority may be ascribed to David, who said of himself, 1 Chronicles 28:4, "The Lord chose me before the house of my fathers to be king over Israel for ever; for he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah the house of my father, among the sons of my father he willed to make me king over all Israel." From David the royalty descended to Zedekiah, king of Judah, who was of the seed of David. With this king the sovereignty departed from the tribe of Judah. There remained during the whole series of the two captivities only a few dignitaries as princes and chiefs of the captivities who had been denominated by the patriarch Jacob מחוקקים (law-givers).
During the existence of the second temple, and also at the time when the priests and their subordinates ruled, there were found princes, descended from David and from the lineage of Zerubbabel, as is stated in the work "Seder Ngolam Zuta."
It is true, we find that originally King Saul was elected ruler, though not descending from the tribe of Judah, but from that of Benjamin; but, at that period, it was against the desire of the Almighty to admit a king. On that account he would not have a king chosen from the tribe to which the promise of a permanent dynasty had been given; and He appointed for them a king who should occupy the throne only for a short time. To this fact Scripture alludes, Hosea 13:11, "I gave thee a king in mine anger, and removed him in my wrath," for he and his children were slain, and the sway departed from him. All this misfortune came to pass, because the Israelites had desired a king in the time of Samuel, the prophet of the Lord, who was their judge and leader: hence we find in 1 Samuel 8:7, "for they have not rejected thee, but me they have rejected from ruling over them." Yet, even in the times of Samuel, the dignity of the leadership was not totally removed from the tribe of Judah, for David was the man who conducted Israel to battle. Hence we must interpret the words "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah," according to their literal sense, viz., that the sceptre of royalty shall not be taken from Judah as long as the kingdom shall last. And the words "nor a lawgiver from between his feet," viz., that the lawgivers shall not depart, must have reference to the sages and scribes who, being from the seed of Judah, were rulers and leaders during the captivity; for the chiefs of the captivity were descendants of David, and the minority of our exiled were from the tribe of Judah, and many of them were of the lineage of David. They distinguished themselves as scholars and theologians, i.e sages and scribes, and therefore they were called lawgivers, in the same manner as Moses, the "chief of the prophets," is called in the Hebrew מחוקק, "law-giver," (see Deut 33:21). For there is the portion of the lawgiver concealed, "and he led the heads of the people, and executed the justice of the Lord, and His judgments with Israel." We see, also, in Judges, "From Nachir descended lawgivers, and from Zebulon those who handle the pen of the scribe," which refers again to the sages and the learned who were the rulers of their people. The words from "his feet, are synonymous with his seed. The word שילה (Shiloh) signifies the youngest child, or the last child, and is derived from the same root as יכשליתה (and towards her young one, Deut 28:57), which the Chaldee version renders "and towards the youngest of her children." The term Shiloh refers to our expected king, Messiah, and who will appear in the latter days and be one of the seed of Judah. The words until Shiloh shall come, do not mean that at the coming of Shiloh, the sceptre shall immediately depart; but, on the contrary, that it shall not depart thereafter. The word עד (until) is used in the same sense in the following instances, (Gen 28:15), "For I will not leave thee until I shall have done what I have promised unto thee"; and (Deut 7:24), "No man shall be able to stand before thee until thou shalt have destroyed them." The word יקהת meaning "authority," in the verse of Genesis under consideration recurs in the Proverbs, 30:17. The supreme power and authority of the Messiah alluded to in Jacob's prophecy is predicted, also, in Daniel, who says "And all rulers shall serve and obey him."
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.6.]
Deuteronomy 14:3, "Thou shalt not eat any abomination." The Christians adduce against this passage one from Matthew 15:11, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth"; they consider us, therefore, in the wrong for not eating of unclean animals.
Refutation.Independent of motives of economy, persons may refuse certain articles of food on different grounds. The food may be too expensive, and, therefore, unsuitable to persons of a low condition; or it may be of too inferior a quality, and, therefore, unfit for a man in a high station of life. It is obvious that Christians will not argue, that the food of unclean animals is denied us on account of the luxuriousness of such nourishment, or the unworthiness of the Israelites, for Scripture inculcates the reverse, viz., that certain creatures are unclean, and that the Israelites are to be a holy nation. Hence, if Christians partake of food denominated unclean, they must consider themselves unholy. Our conclusion is borne out by Scripture, for we read in Leviticus 11:8, "they [certain animals] shall be unclean unto you." This implies, that they shall be forbidden to you Israelites, who are a holy nation, but not to you, the Gentiles, who have not been equally distinguished by the Almighty.
Of the same tenor is the admonition in Leviticus, 11:43 and 44, "Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall you make yourselves unclean with them that ye should be defiled thereby. For I am the Lord your God, ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves and ye shall be holy: for I am holy. Neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." See also Leviticus 20:25 and 26, "Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean; and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And ye shall be holy unto me; for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine." Also, Deuteronomy 14:1, 2, & 3, "Ye are children of the Lord your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead, for thou art a holy nation unto the Lord thy God. And the Lord has chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself above all the nations that are upon the earth. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing." This portion concludes with the words, "Ye shall not eat of anything that dieth of itself, thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates that he may eat it, or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God; thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk" (ver. 21). These verses afford sufficient evidence, that such creatures, on account of their being unclean, were prohibited food to the Israelites, who are a holy people, designated the "children of the Lord." For unclean food defiles the body of him who eats of it; and a defiled body infects the soul. Now, a soul that is defiled will not be admitted into the sanctuary, that is to say, before the Divine presence, but will be deprived of a glorious future. The declaration of the revealed law, that unclean food defiles the body of the eater, at once overthrows the argument of the Christians, "that things entering the mouth do not defile a man, but only those proceeding from the mouth."
In what way can the opinion of the Gentiles, based on their Gospel, be reconciled with the various precepts regarding certain animals expressed in many parts of our Holy Writ? for instance, "Do not defile yourselves by them." '"Ye shall be defiled through them." "Do not defile your souls by the creeping things," etc. All this must bring conviction, that unclean food doth defile both body and soul. Who then will venture to render lawful what God has forbidden, and annul His statutes? Moreover, if the founders of Christianity had considered it lawful for the Gentiles to partake of unclean food, why did they prescribe to them (in Acts 15:20), "to abstain from things strangled and from blood"? It ought also to be kept in mind, that Adam incurred punishment for transgressing a command which had been imparted to him only once. How much greater must the transgression be of those who venture to eat of unclean food which had been so repeatedly prohibited to them? Besides, we find great inconsistencies in this principle contained in the Books of Matthew and Mark ("That not what goeth into the mouth defiles," etc.), for many intoxicating drinks will doubtlessly defile when allowed to go down into the mouth of man in excess, while from the mouth of man come out the words of the living God, praises and thanksgivings to His glorious name, wise and moral maxims, and social converse for the interchange of ideas. All such utterance does not defile man; and he may through his words even deserve to be called a holy man.
As to our Sacred Scripture, it gives the assurance, that in times to come, even the Gentiles will abstain from eating blood and unclean and abominable food. See Zechariah 9:7, "And I shall remove his blood from his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth."
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.7.]
Deuteronomy 27:26, "Cursed is he who will not keep the words of this law to fulfil them; and all the people shall say Amen." The Christians infer from this verse, that the law of Moses curses all who neglect any commandment of the law, and there being so many commandments, no man can properly practise them: hence, all Jews must be cursed.
Refutation.The tenor of this verse does not go to pronounce a curse against every one who will not keep the obligations and prohibitory laws set forth in the Books of Moses. A strict fulfillment of all the commandments is utterly impossible. Even our legislator Moses, the chief of prophets, observed only those which he found practicable out of Palestine; since many of the divine precepts had been especially adapted to and were solely practicable in the Holy Land. How much greater is the claim of other Israelites to be forgiven if they abandon certain precepts, the performance of which is rendered impracticable in consequence of existing circumstances? nor will they be included in the curse if they transgress a commandment when led astray by the impulse of passion, provided it be followed by sincere repentance, "for there is no righteous man on earth who will do good and not sin"; and repentance is the balm and remedy for the pain and the mortification of sin. An instance is afforded in King David, though he sinned in the case of Uriah, the Hittite, he was not cursed (by reason of his repentance); on the contrary, he was blessed by the Almighty with an everlasting benediction, since a covenant was made with him that his throne should never be destroyed. See Jeremiah 33:20, "Thus speaketh the Lord, if ye can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, and there should not be day and night in their season, then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne." The merit of his general piety availed during a long period to him and his seed after him, and to all his nation. See Isaiah 37:35, "And I shall protect the city and save it for mine own sake and for the sake of my servant David." This is a clear evidence, that a man failing to observe a portion of the divine law will not be accursed, so long as no opportunity of evincing his obedience has been afforded him. In like manner will he be spared who, sinning under the influence of passion, resolutely abandons his error, and shews sincere contrition. Only such a man is cursed who refuses to believe in the revealed will of the Almighty, or who rejects and contemns the divine commands.
In corroboration of the argument, we may refer to the identical words of the passage under consideration, viz., "Cursed is he who will not keep the words of the law to fulfil them." If no exception whatever were admissible in the rigid observance of the divine precepts, the inspired penman necessarily would have said, "Cursed be he who will not keep every word of the law." The latter words, "to fulfil them," shews that the malediction concerns only those who evade the opportunity of manifesting their obedience. We further find in Deuteronomy 28:15, "And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt not obey the voice of the Lord thy God to keep and fulfil all the commands and statutes which I command you this day, all these curses shall come upon thee and reach thee." This warning does not refer to a person who neglects the keeping and fulfillment of all the commandments without any exception, but to him who does not listen to the voice of God, but impiously rebels against it, and shakes off the yoke of divine government. The curses will come upon him if he does not finally return to God with perfect repentance. It is acknowledged that God gave the law to His people from pure love, not for His own sake, but for their benefit; nor did He multiply His commandments to weigh His creatures down with their burden, and bring perdition upon man's soul, but to increase the claim of reward, and prepare the spirit for a glorious futurity. Not a single commandment is to be despised, for each contains the seed of heavenly bliss. The more strictly and diligently man conforms to the number of divine precepts, the greater becomes his worth and merit in the eyes of the Lord.
We find that Moses yearned to enter into the Holy Land in order to obtain an opportunity to fulfil all those commandments that had been ordained to be practised in Palestine. Here we must remind the reader that the curses proclaimed in Deuteronomy 27, obviously relate to the commission of secret and revolting sins, for the maledictions contain the expression ושם בסתר "And who put it (viz., the idol) into a secret place," while overt transgressions meet punishment from the human tribunal. In a like manner we find, in the same chapter, that he will be cursed "who smites his neighbour secretly"; this alludes, also, to the slanderer who secretly injures his fellow-man. A parallel expression occurs in the 101st Psalm, in the words "Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off." To avoid the error of its being understood with regard to corporal punishment, the law adds the words secretly or privately. A similar curse recoils upon him who refuses to observe certain laws, because he considers the word of God unimportant, a presumption which certainly ranks among the secret sins. To sum up our review of these twelve verses of Deuteronomy 27, we remark, that in the same mode as the public transgressor is punished by public justice here below, so the secret transgressor will be punished by the invisible and supreme justice of our Heavenly Father. Only that man will be condemned who obstinately persists in vice and scornfully disdains mercy which the Lord offers to repentant sinners. This again may be illustrated by the words in (Deut 29:29), "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but matters revealed, belong to us and to our children for ever." The Christians have argued against us from this verse without fully comprehending its purport, and we can oppose them on their own grounds, by referring them to the concluding verses of their Gospel, viz., "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecies of these books, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in these books; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of these prophecies, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life and out of the Holy City, and from the promises written in these books." Now the Christians must be well aware that they have acted in contradiction to these emphatic warnings, in having both added and diminished from their own doctrines. Thus, for instance, they have made an innovation by keeping the Sabbath on the first day of the week instead of the seventh, for which no sanction whatever can be found in the Gospel. On the other hand, they have totally disregarded commands enforced on them. See Acts 15:20, where the eating of blood and of strangled creatures is forbidden. To these commands they actually do not conform, for they unscrupulously eat of both these forbidden articles.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 2.5.]
Some Christian divines have asserted that the curses pronounced in Leviticus 26:42, relate to the destruction of the first temple, and are therefore accompanied by the consoling words, "And I shall remember the covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham I shall remember, and I shall remember the land." In the same light they view the passage, "And I shall remember unto them the first covenant that I brought them out of Egypt before the eyes of the Gentiles to be their God, I am the Lord." The Christians refer these topics to the remembrance of the second temple, and the redemption is said to allude to the captivity of Babel; but the subsequent curses contained in Deuteronomy 28 are referred to the demolition of the second temple, and hence are unaccompanied by consolatory words as Israel is to have no restoration from this exile.
Refutation.Scripture does not authorise the supposition that the first-mentioned curses refer to the destruction of the first temple only; the warnings contained in Leviticus with regard to the first covenant, though materially and principally referring to the first temple in which the captivity commenced, include, also, the destruction of the second temple and the afflictions suffered by Israel in the present captivity. At the same time we perceive that the curses contained in Deuteronomy mention facts relating exclusively to the first destruction. Among the maledictions mentioned in Leviticus 26:31, we read, "And I shall destroy your sanctuaries," the latter word being in the plural must evidently be understood to include both the first and the second temple; nor can the word sanctuaries refer to palaces; since the passage in Leviticus goes on to say "And I shall not smell your sweet savours," therefore it naturally points to the sacrifices offered up in the sanctuaries. Thus also the curses contained in Deuteronomy 28:25, "The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies; thou shalt go out against them one way, and in seven ways thou shalt flee before them." This undoubtedly did not take place during the time of the second temple, for then the Jews prevailed, and the Romans suffered a total defeat, as is related by Joseph Ben Gurion. The Roman writers themselves acknowledge evidently this fact; the prophecy, however, was fulfilled during the time of the first temple (see Isaiah 22:3) "All thy rulers are fled together, they were bound by the archers; all that were found in thee were bound together, which fled from a distance." Moreover, if we say there are two captivities, we must also say there are two redemptions, viz., the first already effected at the building of the second temple, and the second expected at a future period; and what man of sense can believe that the redemption of the second temple was a complete redemption, since the Ten Tribes did not join in the return to Jerusalem? There were only 42,360 men of Judah and Benjamin, who availed themselves of the permission given by Cyrus, king of Persia, while the majority still remained in Babylon. Nor can it be said that those who had returned to Jerusalem enjoyed full independence, for when settled there, they were tributary to the Medes and Persians, as is related in Nehemiah 9:36, "Behold, we are now servants, and the land which Thou hast given to our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and its goodly produce; behold, we are servants in it, and it yieldeth much increase to the kings whom thou hast set over us, because of our sins, and also they have dominion over our bodies," etc. Subsequently the cruelties experienced proceeded from the Greeks, and afterwards from the Romans. Though the Jews sometimes rebelled, and nominated their own kings, yet there was no ruler over them of the posterity of David, on whose house the sceptre will devolve at the final restoration. The Asmoneans were of the tribe of Levi, and members of the priesthood; and they were succeeded by Herod and his descendants until the ruin of the second temple, as we have mentioned above.
The inferiority of the second temple may also be judged from the absence of the Ark, the Mercy-seat, the Cherubim, and the Urim, and the Thummin, and the Shechinah. The temple was deprived of the Shechinah (the manifestation of the divine presence); all the prophecies ceased, and the former miracles were no longer witnessed. Under these circumstances, how can it be asserted that Israel's redemption was complete? We must rather acknowledge, that the Lord excited compassion in the heart of Israel's conquerors, and awakened the mind of Cyrus to grant permission to the Jews to return to Jerusalem, to rebuild the temple, to serve the Lord, and to be freed from their bondage.
We thus see that the evil consequences of the original captivity still subsisted, and the return from Babylon; though Herod, after committing great bloodshed among the sages and pious of Israel, built a splendid and magnificent temple, yet it is not a matter of doubt that Herod was all the time subjected to the Romans, and held his throne under their authority. All this tends to shew that the captivity continued from the day of the destruction of the first temple by Nebuchadnezzar until the present time. The apparent omission in Deuteronomy 28 of consolations and the like promises, as are held out in Leviticus at the close of the maledictions, can easily be explained, since in the former portion the words of the covenant are not completed; for immediately after the denunciations, Moses assembled the Israelites to establish the covenant with them while they were standing before the Lord; hence we read in Deuteronomy 29:12, "That thou shouldst enter into covenant with the Lord thy God and into his oath." Moses adds in this chapter the oaths of the covenant, in addition to what he impressed on them in the preceding chapter; then after laying before them the dread of the calamities, he subjoins the most emphatic consolation and promise of perfect redemption. See Deuteronomy 30:1, "And it shall come to pass when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations whither the Lord thy God has driven thee," (ver. 2) "And shalt return unto the Lord thy God and shalt obey his voice, according to all I commanded thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart and with all thy soul," (ver. 3) "That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God has scattered thee." (ver. 4) "If any of thine be driven out unto the utmost part of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee." (ver. 5) "And the Lord thy God will bring thee unto the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it, and He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers." Verse 6, "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul that thou mayst live." Verse 7, "And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies and on them that hate thee which prevented thee." Verse 8, "And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all the commandments which I command thee this day." Verse 9, "And the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thy hand, and in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land for good: for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers." Verse 10, "If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul." Hence, we see that this prediction is awaiting fulfillment, since the particulars contained in the above quotation did not, during the time of the first or second temple, take place. At the same time, we discover in the said passages every consolation that hope can suggest, for it points out at once both our restoration and the redemption of our souls: a redemption which is the truest deliverance from all troubles, and the boon and summit of all human aspirations. The promise with regard to our future state far surpasses the promise given in Leviticus, which alludes merely to our political restoration. There is certainly a distant allusion to the divine regard and consideration of the second temple; yet, as full liberty never shone upon those who went up, as we have clearly and incontestably shewn, we must necessarily conclude, that the curses, as contained in Deuteronomy, will be succeeded by those superlative and extensive blessings which a future and universal restoration will produce for Israel.
The Christians offer an objection against the divine law, by stating that the Mosaic code gave no promise to the faithful of bliss in a future state, but limited all reward and punishment solely to our existence here below. They refer us to the 26th chapter of Leviticus, and maintain that on this account no mention is made in the law or in the prophetic writings concerning the condition of the soul in a future state, and that all predictions relate only to worldly prosperity.
Refutation.The divine law dwells in many passages on our reward in this world, man being a compound of matter and spirit; and agreeably to this division the divine commandments are likewise of a double character, some calling on our physical, others on our intellectual powers. Now, the fulfillment of our duties depends on the co-operation of body with mind. Our material state is open and manifest to all, while our spiritual condition remains imperceptible. On this account, Holy Writ treats with clearness and precision on the dispensations affecting our material condition, and touches but lightly upon those affecting the soul in a future state. We must here call attention to the forcible truth, that the uninterrupted enjoyment of peace and prosperity of our corporeal existence must ever be the prime object of our wishes, and the benevolent design of the Almighty. It is only in the tranquil untroubled state of the body that man has an opportunity to devote himself fully and entirely to the faithful performance of the divine behests. When struggling with malady, or suffering from hunger, or labouring under any bodily affliction, it becomes impossible for us to fulfil many of our religious duties. The law, therefore, holds out the reward to its pious followers, that their bodies shall be free from trouble and disease, so that they may be enabled to conform to the Holy Will of the Almighty, and thereby prepare the soul for eternal bliss. We see clearly in Leviticus (26:11 and 12), that the law, after promising temporal happiness, adds also the boon of spiritual welfare. See ibid., "And I shall place my residence among you; and my soul shall not abhor you, and I shall walk among you, and I will be your God, and you shall be unto me a people." Thus was also promised to Abraham and his posterity worldly success for the performance of the covenant. Spiritual reward is indicated by the following passage in Genesis (17:7): "I will be unto thee a God, and to thy seed after thee." In the same chapter (ver. 8) the gracious addition is made, "And I shall be unto them a God." The patriarch Jacob, too, when concluding his vow by saying (Gen 28:21), "And the Lord will be unto me a God," alluding to spiritual welfare, as every thinking man must acknowledge. Not in this portion alone, but throughout the whole law, we meet with a variety of passages bearing reference to the ultimate destination of man, especially where God's immediate influence and supervision over the conduct are expressed.
The very ceremonial observances ordered in the law, and the whole temple service had no other purpose than to bring the worshipper near the Throne of Mercy, and to purify and to prepare the soul for a more exalted state. The closeness with which God, by His covenant, has bound unto himself the people of Israel, is the reason He called them "His firstborn son," "His chosen one," "His friend," "His beloved," "His holy one, "His portion," and "The bond of His heritage. The epithet, סגולה (Segulah), commonly rendered "peculiar people," has occasionally the signification of any object peculiarly precious and valuable. This interpretation of the foregoing Hebrew word is confirmed in Ecclesiastes 2:8. The announcement of Divine Grace, or favour, our lawgiver, Moses, communicated to Israel by denominating them "Children of the Almighty," who are beloved by their Father in Heaven, attached to Him in their present state, and not separated from Him in the life to come. We refer the reader to Deuteronomy 14:1, 2, "Ye are the children of the Lord your God; ye shall not cut yourselves nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord has chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself above all the nations that are upon the earth."
The tendency of these passages, is to teach that it is unbecoming to indulge in excess of grief on account of the death of the body, since it is declared that Israel is a nation holy to the Lord and chosen by Him. By the word chosen we understand that the soul is destined to adhere to Him and to enjoy His presence for ever. If earthly distinctions were intended to be the sole purport of human existence, death would be a more severe visitation on the rich than on the poor. Another allusion to a future state, we must refer to Leviticus 18:5, "Ye shall, therefore, keep my statutes and my judgments, which if a man do he shall live in them, I am the Lord." It cannot be imagined that this relates to longevity on earth, for we do not find that the pious, who observe the divine law, prolong their existence here below, beyond those who transgress; the passage, therefore, necessarily refers to immortal life.
The opinion of the opponents of Judaism is that the first man, through his rebellion against the word of God, was condemned to spiritual death. They rest their argument on the passage in Genesis 2:17, "For on the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," which death they deem to be that of the soul. Now, by comparing this passage with the preceding quotation, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the curse of Adam will have no effect on those who faithfully obey the divine ordinances set forth in the Mosaic law. We refer the reader, also, to the 5th chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, which forcibly corroborates our argument; a careful perusal of the following words, from Deuteronomy 32:46, 47, will likewise justify the view here taken: "Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe, to do all the words of this law, for it is not a vain thing for you, because it is for your life; and through this thing you shall prolong your days on the earth," etc. Here, two different rewards obtainable through observance of the Divine Law are held out to man. There is a spiritual reward and a temporal reward. Concerning the spiritual. Scripture says, "For it is your life"; and concerning the temporal reward, we read, "And through this thing you shall prolong your days on the earth." The welfare of the soul, on account of its surpassing value, is mentioned first, though in reality it is the last lot of man. Another allusion to the reward of eternal life is made in Deuteronomy 33:29, in the very last words recorded in the speech of Moses, "Happy art thou, Israel, who is like unto thee a people saved by the Lord?" This verse conveys the idea that worldly acquisitions, such as dominion, power, conquest and increased wealth do not constitute true happiness, because they can be shared by nations who do not acknowledge God; for true happiness is spiritual salvation, of which no people have been declared worthy excepting the people of Israel, as we perceive in the words, "Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, a people saved by the Lord?" A truth confirmed in the words which follow. He is "the shield of thy help," seem to convey the idea, that the boon of spiritual blessings does not exclude temporal happiness; and that those who devote themselves to the Lord, find also their protection in Him in the time of need. The same idea is expressed in the words of the Psalmist, "Trust in the Lord, He is your salvation and shield." The Divine interposition is further illustrated in the sequel of the verse under consideration (viz. Deut 33:29), where we see "The shield of thy help," and "Who is the sword of thy glory"; showing, as the Psalmist says, "That not by their own swords they inherited the land."
A reference to the punishment of the soul is made in Leviticus 22:3; "Say unto them according to your generations, every man of your seed who shall approach to the sanctuary which the Children of Israel shall sanctify unto the Lord while his impurity is upon him, that soul shall be cut off from before me; I am the Lord." The words from before me" relate to the soul which originates from a holy source, and to which it will return if found worthy. A similar allusion to the soul is made, ibid 23:29; "For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted on the self-same day shall be cut off from her people"; and again, "and every soul which shall do any work on the self-same day, that soul shall I cause to be lost in the midst of her people"; that is to say: she shall not be gathered to the souls of the pious who are denominated "her people." Thus, we find in Genesis 25:8, "And he was gathered unto his people"; that is to say: he was gathered to, and associated with the spirits of pious and Godly men. We will give a further proof that scripture does not treat here on the mere body; for in Deuteronomy 32:50, we read, "And thou shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother died in the mountain Hor, and was gathered unto his people." Thus, we see that the term gathering applies exclusively to the soul. In like manner, Isaiah 58:8, "The glory of the Lord gathereth thee in." Balaam, though a Gentile prophet, perceiving by the power of his vision that the Israelites not only stood in this world under the special supervision of the Almighty, but had also a blissful end and rich hope after their death; he therefore prayed for himself to be deemed worthy of participating in their spiritual bliss in a future state. See Numbers 23:10, "May I die the death of the righteous, and my last end be as his."
The theme of beatitude of the soul is constantly reverted to by David in his Psalms, and is the incentive for keeping the commandments of the Divine law, and of pouring forth prayers for its attainment. See Psalm 19:7, "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul." Psalm 27:13, "Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 116:8, 9: "For Thou saveth my soul from death, my eye from tears, my foot from stumbling; I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 26:9 "Do not gather in my soul with the sinners." Psalm 16:10, 11: "For Thou wilt not leave my soul in the grave; Thou wilt not let thy pious men see corruption; Thou makest us know the path of life; fulness of joy is in thy countenance; delights are at thy right hand for ever." Psalm 49:15: "But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He will take me, Selah." Psalm 25:12, 13: "Who is the man who feareth the Lord, him shall He teach in the way he should choose, his soul shall abide in bliss, and his seed shall inherit the earth." Psalm 31:19: "How great is Thy goodness which Thou hast preserved for those who fear Thee." Psalm 36:7, 8, 9: "How precious is Thy mercy, God, and the children of men shall be protected under the shadow of Thy wings; they shall be satisfied with the fatness of Thy house, and Thou shalt give them drink from the stream of Thy delights, for with Thee is the source of life; in Thy light we shall see light." Psalm 73:25: "Who will be for me in Heaven, if I delight not to be with Thee on earth?" And various other passages of like description occur throughout the Psalms. Solomon, the son of this sublime poet, has enlarged on the beautiful representation of the Heavenly fruit: he says in Ecclesiastes 3:21: "Who knoweth the spirit of man which rises on high?" and ibid. 12:7: "And the dust goeth to the earth as it was, and the spirit returneth to God who gave it": and Proverbs 11:7: "When the wicked man dies, hope is lost, and the expectation of his exertions is lost." Ibid 14:32: "The wicked man is driven away by his own evil doings; but the righteous man confideth even in his death." And ib. 23:17, 18: "Let thy heart not envy the sinner, but abide in the fear of the Lord the whole day; for surely there is an hereafter, and thy hope shall not be cut off." And ibid. 24:14: "Know, then, that wisdom is equally good for thy soul if thou findest it; and there is an hereafter, and thy hope shall not be cut off." See also Isaiah 14:17, where he says: "Israel is saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation," etc. A parallel phrase occurs in the words of Moses, Deuteronomy 33:29, viz.: "Happy art thou, Israel, who is like unto thee?"
This implies that the spiritual salvation is not a transitory boon, but an everlasting benefit; therefore Isaiah says, in chapter 45:17, "Ye shall not be abashed and not be ashamed through eternity." Isaiah remarks, on the death of a penitent man (chap 57:18) "I saw his ways and I healed him, and led him to his repose, and I bestowed comfort on him and on his mourners." The words, "And I saw his ways and I healed him," clearly indicate the spiritual healing, that is, the pardon for iniquity. To the same effect we read in Psalm 41:4, "Heal my soul, for I have sinned unto Thee." Also in Isaiah 6:10, "And he shall return and be healed," (which means after the expiation of his sins) "I shall lead him to his destination, and thereby bestow comfort upon him, and also to his mourners," who will derive consolation from the knowledge that after his death he will partake of that happiness which is reserved for the pious in the world of souls. The grant of a glorious reward of the pious is alluded to in Isaiah 58:8, "Then thy light shall break forth like the morning dawn, and thy healing shall spring forth speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of thy God shall gather thee, viz., into the place of happiness where the souls of the righteous are received in the bond of endless life." The term light applies to the existence of the soul in the region of spirits, where it enjoys immortal bliss in the presence of the Lord. This is further illustrated by what Abigail said to David (1st Sam 25:29), "And the soul of my lord shall be bound up in the bond of the living with the Lord thy God"; on the other hand she says, with regard to the spiritual punishment of the wicked, "And the soul of thine enemies He shall cast away as from a sling." And Ezekiel says (18:21), "The wicked man who turneth away from all his sins which he hath committed, and observeth all my statutes and does judgment and righteousness, he shall surely live"; and further, "When the wicked man returneth from the wickedness which he hath committed, and shall do judgment and righteousness, he shall live with his soul." "When he turneth from all his transgressions, he shall surely live and not die." And 20:11, "And I gave to them my statutes, and my judgments are made known to them which if a man doeth he shall live in them." It is perfectly obvious that the prophet speaks of everlasting life wherein no death can occur, and which may justly be denominated true existence with regard to the future state. Elihu says (Job 33:30), "To bring back his soul from perdition to shine in the light of the living." The prophet, Zachariah speaks on that subject in chapter 3:7, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, if thou wilt walk in my ways and keep my observances, and judge also my house and guard my court, I will give thee ingress among those who are standing here," (the ministering Angels). This promise manifestly shows that the soul, after being freed from the body, obtains a blissful habitation in the world of spirits. We may also quote the words of Daniel (12:2). "And many of those who sleep in dust shall awake, some for eternal life and some to shame and everlasting contempt, and they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they who promote righteousness shall be as stars for ever and ever."
The above verses found in the law, in the Prophets and in the Hagiography form a sufficiency for our faith in spiritual rewards and punishments hereafter. There are many other passages to be met with in the Divine Law and the Prophets, affording additional evidence of the immortality of the soul.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.7b and Chapter 3.7c.]
Many Christians oppose us with the opinion that the Mosaic law had not been established for a permanent, but only for a limited period, and was totally abrogated by Jesus, who bequeathed to his disciples and followers a new law which dispensed them from conforming to the ancient statutes and ordinances laid down in the Mosaic code. For (they allege) according to the old law, they (the Israelites) had been given over to the power of death, while the new dispensation was a law of grace and easy to practise. The commandments given, they say, were so rigorous that no man could observe them properly. Hence it came that the fundamental laws, such as circumcision and the observances of the Sabbath, were but temporary, and continued only to the time of the coming of Jesus the Nazarene, who immediately substituted baptism instead of circumcision, and the consecration of the first day instead of the seventh.
Refutation.This statement of the Christians is fallacious. The Gospel itself refutes their opinion, for in Matthew 5:17 to 20, Jesus says to his disciples, "Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfil; for verily I say unto you, till Heaven and earth pass one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all is fulfilled"; "Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven."
The Christians themselves must admit that Jesus and his Apostles were circumcised; for we find that Paul circumcised his disciple, Timotheus, as is recorded in the Acts 16:3, which fact proves, according to their own statement, that the law was not abolished even after the existence of Jesus. The seventh day was also kept sacred by the founders of the Christian religion and its disciples. The Sabbath was observed (the translator refers to the book of Feasts and Fasts published 1825) for nearly five hundred years after the vulgar era, when one of the Popes instituted the sanctification of the first day of the week instead of the proper Sabbath-day. See. the record thereon in Zemach David.
The seventh day is not merely instituted as a ceremonial law, prescribing to us cessation of all labour, but is to be held universally sacred by the express word of the Almighty, "Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy," Exodus 20:8. See also ibid 16:29, "Behold the Lord giveth you the Sabbath; therefore He giveth you, on the sixth day, food for two days." The supply of manna during the six days of the week, and the allotment of double the quantity on the sixth day afford a miraculous confirmation of the sanctity of the Sabbath.
Therefore the Divine Ordinance of the Sabbath cannot be abrogated; more especially as this command is included in the decalogue, the authority of which is acknowledged by all followers of Christianity. It appears, however, that the Christians have been anxious to abolish the law of Moses on their own accord and responsibility, for they have no authority whatever for doing so from Jesus and his Apostles. If Jesus had really absolved them from the commandments contained in our Bible, wherefore did he urge the observance of a part of them; as, for instance, the honour due to parents, neighbourly love and charity? Wherefore did he warn them against homicide, adultery, theft, and false testimony? See Matthew 19. On what foundation rests the Apostle's prohibition to abstain from idolatry, incest, and eating of blood and strangled animals? (See Acts 15:20.) Nor can we comprehend the assertion that the law of Moses must discontinue because the Israelites had been guilty of death according to it, but not according to the law of Jesus, which was called the law of Grace. Did not St. Paul order the death of one marrying his father's wife? (See 1st Cor 5:1). Even at the present day, Christians inflict death on the murderer, the adulterer, and the thief;* while, according to the Mosaic dispensation, pecuniary thefts were not punished with death. See Exodus 21:16, where it is said "He who stealeth man and selleth him, he shall be put to death," etc. Equally untrue is it that the law of Jesus is more easy to practise than that of Moses. In Matthew 19:21, we find, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor." The same is repeated in Luke 18:22. This shows that it is required by the laws of Jesus, that man shall dispose of his property and devote it to charitable purposes; the law of Moses, however, decrees that only the tenth part of the harvest shall go for charitable purposes, and the remainder be enjoyed by the owner. This proves that the legislative system of Moses is by no means oppressive; but on the contrary, serves to benefit both the body and the soul. Again, if men have been dispensed from obedience to the laws of Moses, why do they acknowledge some of the laws on consanguinity, and prohibit intercourse between the following six degrees of affinity, namely, with the mother, the father's wife, the sister, the brother's wife, the daughter, and the son's wife? With regard to other relations they are not guided by the Divine enactments transmitted to us through Moses; but occasionally they permit the unlawful, and forbid the legitimate degrees of intermarriage.[* This was perfectly true at the date when the author wrote.Translator.]The Christians seem here to abandon the solid foundation on which we rest our hopes, and act from self-formed opinions. The Gospel presents no express code on the points in question, and if these laws are no longer valid which determine the relationship of consanguinity, why did not Jesus introduce new regulations in lieu of the laws of Moses? In modern days the Christians are partly guided by the Mosaic code, and partly by human enactments at various periods. They make changes and alterations, accommodating them to the customs of the day, and render established principle subservient to temporary wants and arbitrary innovations. Convinced, as we Israelites are, that the divine revelation proceeds from Infinite Wisdom, and is, therefore, in itself complete and perfect in its aim, we cannot possibly admit of any change, deviation, addition, or diminution. Holy Writ warns us on this point. Deuteronomy 4:2: "Every word which I command you ye shall observe and do. Thou shalt not add undo it, and not diminish therefrom." Further (chap. 4:8), "Where is a nation so great which has such just and righteous statutes as all this law is which I place before you this day?" Ibid, "If thou wilt obey the voice of the Lord thy God to observe His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of this law," etc. In the same book (33:4) we read, "The law that Moses commanded unto us is an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob." To this we add the words of the Psalmist (19:7-9), "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is faithful, making wise the foolish; the statutes of the Lord are just, rejoicing the heart; the commandments of the Lord are pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, standing for ever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." In the same book (Psa 119:44) he says, "And I will keep thy commandments for ever and ever." We refer also to the conclusion of the prophecy by Malachi, who says, "Remember ye the law of my servant Moses which I commanded him in Horeb, concerning all Israel (giving them), statutes and judgments." These verses give satisfactory evidence, that the divine law in its sublime perfection and simplicity is not to be enlarged or curtailed, and much less to be abrogated and superseded by any other code. The immutability of the law is pronounced in Deuteronomy 28:1, "And thou shalt listen to the voice of the Lord, and do all His commandments which I command thee this day." The same is repeated in a subsequent passage, it being said, "If thou wilt but listen to the voice of the Lord thy God to observe His commandments which are written in the book of this law."
This manifestly proves that the gracious promises and assurances will only be realised provided we rigidly follow the precepts prescribed in the books of Moses. The expression, "this day," points out the impossibility of a subsequent legislation, and the unchangeableness of the revealed Will of the Almighty. In a like manner, we learn from the passage, "The law which Moses commanded us," is an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob; that, contrary to the Christian belief, no period whatever has been assigned to limit the duration of the Mosaic code. The law of Moses is to remain an everlasting inheritance to the congregation of Jacob for ever. "For it shall not be forgotten out of the mouth of his seed." The term, "congregation of Jacob," (instead of house or seed of Jacob), shews that the law is not merely an inheritance to the children of Jacob, but to all who may congregate with them, "from the sons of the stranger, who join themselves to the Lord to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, and to be His servants. Every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant." "They shall," as Isaiah says (14:1), "be joined with them, and be included in the house of Jacob." The expression, "All His commandments are sure, they stand fast for ever and ever," is no less an evidence of the eternity of the laws contained in the Pentateuch, as לעד ("for ever"), and לעולם ("eternally"), imply an uninterrupted and endless course of time. We meet with an unmistakable use of the two words in the Psalm 148:6, "And He has established them for ever and ever, He has given an ordinance and it shall not be infringed." The passage, "And I will keep Thy commandments continually for ever and ever," alludes to a period unlimited by time. In accordance with this, we find in Exodus 15:18, the words "The Lord shall rule for ever and ever." So likewise in the exhortation of the last of the prophets (Malachi 4:4), "Remember ye the law of Moses, which I commanded unto him on Horeb, concerning all Israel (giving him statutes and judgments)," we discover that there will never be any other law besides the law given unto Moses on Mount Sinai. We likewise meet with Gentile authorities, who state that the law of God given to Israel is eternal and perfectthat no succeeding law has ever been giventhat those are mistaken who assert that Moses gave the first and Jesus the second lawand that Jesus gave no new law, but merely confirmed the commandments given through Moses. Thus in all these doctrinal points they are found to agree with us.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.1.]
"And many nations shall go and say, Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He shall teach us in His ways, and we will walk in His paths, for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3). This verse is combined by the Christians with that in Isaiah 51:4: "Hearken unto me, O my people, and give ear unto me, my nation, for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment for a light of the people." They deduce from it that Isaiah here prophesied that there would be a future covenant, viz., the law of Jesus; the law of Moses having been delivered on Sinai, while the new doctrine of Jesus was promulgated in Zion.
Refutation.The preceding chapter disproves this assertion, we having therein established on incontestable testimony, that the law of Moses is not to be revoked, and that no second revelation is to be added to the former; therefore no inference or support can be derived from the above texts. The verses quoted do by no means declare that a new law was to be given by the Almighty, but that the תורה, which means instruction and improvement, shall go forth from Zion, and shall be communicated through the advent of the true expected Messiah. Hence, they shall say, "And he shall instruct us in his ways, and we will walk in his paths." The King Messiah is to be the Instructor. In allusion to him, the prophet says, "And he shall judge among the Gentiles." A passage relating to this we read in Isaiah (42:1, 4), "Behold the servant on whom I shall rely, for he as judge and a teacher, shall carry out judgment among the Gentiles, and they shall wait for his instruction." A parallel promise is given in the words, "For the law [i. e. instruction] shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment rest as the light of Nations." The beneficent activity of the King Messiah is further exhibited in the prediction (Isaiah 2:4), "And they shall strike their swords into ploughshares," etc.
This justifies the expectation that, in cases where otherwise wars arising from strife and contention would occur, appeals will be made to the King Messiah, who will rule over all nations, and decide which party is in the right, and which in the wrong. Thus, he will establish peace between them, and thus prevent warfare between nations. The destructive instruments of battle will no longer be required, but will be converted into implements of husbandry. "Their swords shall be struck into ploughshares, their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall no longer lift up sword against nation, and they shall no longer learn the arts of war." We acquire by this prophecy a manifest assurance that the law which is to proceed from the Messiah is nothing else but the instruction and propagation of the most humane principles. The Hebrew word תורה is very frequently used for conveying the idea of instruction. See Proverbs 1:8, "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law (or teaching) of thy mother." Further, ibid. 3:1, "My son, forget not my laws (teachings), and let thine heart keep my precepts." And in the same chapter, "for I give you a good doctrine: do not forsake my laws" (i. e. instructions). No person will venture to assert, that King Solomon alluded to any new law written by himself, or any of his contemporaries. Controversial opponents, themselves, must acknowledge, that the word תורה in the Book of Proverbs has no other meaning but worldly uninspired instruction; and the inference deducible from this interpretation, with regard to the passage under discussion, is so obvious, that it leaves no ground for vindicating the existence of a new law, subsequent to the one given by Moses.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.2 and Chapter 4.3.]
Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore, the Lord shall give unto you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she will bear a son, and she will call his name Emmanuel" (God is with us). This verse is applied by the Christians as an evidence of their faith. The prophet, they say, predicted here, that an Israelitish virgin would conceive, and bare a son (Jesus) under the influence of the Holy Ghost, as is related in the Gospel of Matthew.
Refutation.This assertion rests solely on the support of imagination. The word עלמח (young woman) used in this verse, does not mean a virgin, as they maintain, but signifies merely young woman. See Genesis 24:14, where Abraham's servant says, first, "And there shall be a damsel הנערה to whom I say," etc. : and afterwards, he says, "and there shall be a young woman העלמה who cometh out to draw water," etc. Both נערה and עלמה can be applied either to a maiden or a married woman. With regard to a maiden, we find in Genesis 24:28, "the young woman run and told her father's household": and, in Ruth 2:5, "To whom belongeth this young woman?" (הנערה). In the same way, we meet with the word עלמה meaning simply young female: for instance, Exodus 2:8, "And the young woman went and called the mother of the child." As we express in Hebrew both words indiscriminately for a virgin or a married woman, so we apply, respecting a young man, both נער and עלם See 1 Samuel 17:58, "Whose son is this lad?" (עלם) And in the same chapter, v. 56, "Whose son is this young man?" (נער) The age of adolescency is likewise expressed both by עלוםים and by נעורים. See Isaiah, 54:4, "and thou shalt forget the shame of עלוםים thy youth." And Jeremiah 31:19, "and the disgrace of נעורי my youth." This proves, that the female in minor age, whatever her state may be, is denominated alike by נערה or עלמה in the same manner as the young man in minor years is styled נער or עלם. The wife of Isaiah, who was still youthful, is termed in Scripture, עלמה young woman. Moreover, the sense of the chapter is altogether adverse to the exposition of the Christians. It refers to Ahaz, king of Judah, who had been in great trouble and consternation on account of the confederacy which the monarchs (Pekah, king of Israel, and Rezin, king of Syria,) had determined on, namely, to besiege and subjugate Jerusalem. See Isaiah 7:2, "And it was told to the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim; and his heart was moved, and the heart of the people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind." Hence, the Lord sent to him the prophet Isaiah, to give him courage, that his heart should not be dismayed at their approachsince their design would assuredly be frustrated. To convince him of this, the Almighty gave him a sign, or token that Jerusalem would remain unmolested, and that the territories of Samaria and Damascus would soon be abandoned and deserted. Had it been the purpose of inspired writ to announce, as the Christians maintain, the advent of Jesus, how could Ahaz be concerned in a sign that could only be realized many centuries after his death, or how could any promise cheer his heart that was not to be fulfilled in his own days? It is true, there is also a prophecy, in this chapter, relating to calamities suspended over the hostile kings, and which happened within sixty-five years subsequent to the existing danger; "For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be no people." But the computation of sixty-five years did not commence from the date of the prophecy. At the period when the prophet spoke, his young wife was pregnant, and bore a son, who was first called Emmanuel (God is with us), and afterwards, Maher-shalal-hash-baz (speed the plunder, hasten the spoil). "For," says Isaiah, "before the boy shall know how to call father and mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria." The fulfillment of this event is thus recorded in 2 Kings 16:9. "And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him, and the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the captives to Eir, and slew Bezin." In the same book (15:29) the fate of Pekah, king of Israel, is described in the following words. "In the days of Pekah, the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came to Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-Beth Maachah, and Janoah, and Kedeth, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria." Verse 30, "And Hosea, the son of Elah, made a conspiracy against Pekah, the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham, the son of Uzziah." The word of the prophet Isaiah "within sixty-five years," is to be understood, as at the completion of these years, counted from the time of the prophecy of Amos, who predicted, concerning Damascus (in his book, 1:5), "And I will break the bolt of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitants of the valley, and even the support of the sceptre from Beth-Eden, and the people of Syria shall go into captivity into Kir, saith the Lord." About Israel, the same prophet predicted (ibid. 7:11), "And Israel shall be exiled from its territory." Hence it appears, that before three years had elapsed after this announcement, the Syrians, and many of the Israelites, with the kings, Rezin and Pekah, were carried into captivity to Assyria. In the twentieth year of Jotham, which was the fourth of Ahaz, Hosea, the son of Elah, killed Pekah, the son of Remaliah, and reigned in his stead.
There is here a variation of statements with regard to these events, twenty years being ascribed to the government of Jotham, while subsequently it is mentioned that the occupation of the throne only lasted sixteen years, so that the four additional years must be considered to belong to the reign of his son Ahaz. We reconcile this discrepancy by the view, that, Ahaz having been a wicked king, Scripture prefers adverting to the departed pious king Jotham than to the reigning monarch, the ungodly Ahaz. Thus the sixty-five years expired in the ninth year of Hosea, the son of Elah, when the complete exile of all Israel took place. The following calculation will shew the historical connection between the prophecy and its fulfillment. Amos prophesied two years before the earthquake, which occurred in the seventeenth year of the reign of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel. This king ruled twenty-four years after the earthquake. Then Menahem governed twelve, Pekahiah two, Pekah twenty, and Hosea nine years, which make together the sum of sixty-five years. The seven months of the reign of Zechariah and Shalum are omitted from the calculation, being included in the years of the other kings. This calculation has been adopted by several Christian authors. If our opponents should ask who the young woman was to whom Isaiah alluded when he said, "She is with child, and shall bear a son"; we reply, that she was (as we have before asserted) the prophet's wife. This is proved by Isaiah 8:3, "And I came to the prophetess, and she conceived and bare a son; and the Lord said unto me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz." The question may then arise. How could he be called so after the name Emmanuel had been previously given to him to afford a sign to Ahaz? We answer, by showing that the child received not two but three names, in consideration of the three kings concerned in the prophecy. Referring to the king of Judah he was named Emmanuel (God is with us), to indicate that from the time of his birth peace would prevail in Judea.
Alluding to the king of Israel, he was called Maher-shalal, and in allusion to the king of Syria he received the name of Hash-baz, pointing out by the two latter names, that those monarchs, with all their possessions, would soon become the spoil of the Assyrian kings. The two names are of a synonymous character, and in perfect accordance with each other. Therefore the prophet says, shortly after mentioning Emmanuel, (7:16), "for before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both the kings." In the same style he repeats after the name of Maher-shalal-hash-baz, "For before the child shall have knowledge to call, My father and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria." Seeing that these two verses are in perfect consonance with each other, the child spoken of must needs be the very same, and he being the son of Isaiah, stands a sign and token to these three kings. The intention to express several events by giving several names to one individual, is evident from the double appellation.
Shear Jashub (i.e. a remainder shall return) is an illustration of the ten tribes who are to remain in their captivity, while the two united tribes of Judah and Benjamin were to return from Babylon to Jerusalem at the expiration of the seventy years. On that account the prophet said, after the second son had been born unto him, "Here I stand, and the children which God has given me for signs and tokens in Israel"; and for this purpose only the Almighty bid him meet Ahaz, accompanied by his son Shear Jashub. Though the latter son was then but very young, his two names with opposite meanings stood as tokens for the future destiny of Ephraim (the ten tribes) on the one hand, and of Judah on the other.
R. David Kimchi has given a forced interpretation to the passage on Emmanuel; believing that this individual was not the son of Isaiah, but of the king. The prophet expressing himself (chap. 8:8), "And the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Emmanuel"; our expositor supposes, that the possessive, thy, could not have been addressed to a person who was not a son of the ruler of the country. But this conclusion is, to me, quite unfounded. We find, frequently, ארצך (thy land), meaning thy native land, or country. See, for instance, Genesis 12:1, "And the Lord spake unto Abraham, go out of thy land." Now, it is well known, that Abraham was not the lord of the land which he was ordered to quit; but that the word his land could only be applied to it inasmuch as it was the land of his birth. See also Jeremiah 12:15, "And I shall bring them back, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land." Moreover, suppose Emmanuel was the son of a king, how could the land of Israel have been called his country, since he did not succeed his father in the government? It appears to me, that when Isaiah prophesied, saying, "Behold, the woman is with child," he was not aware that he spake about his own wifejust as Samuel was not conscious that he prophesied concerning David, when he said to Saul, 1 Samuel 13:14, "The Lord has sought unto Himself a man after His own heart, and has appointed him prince over His people." Further, when Samuel said (chap 15:28), "The Lord has torn away from thee the kingdom of Israel, and has given it to thy neighbour, who is better than thee"; for being at the house of Jesse, he knew which of the sons he was to anoint for the kingdom; so that when remarking to Eliab, he exclaimed, "Surely, the Lord's anointed is before Him"; but only when he came to David, then the Lord told him to anoint him. With the same ignorance of things unrevealed, in the moments of inspiration, Isaiah prophesied on the young woman, until the token given him in the second prophecy rendered it manifest to him; the Lord saying then to him (chap. 8:1), "Take unto thee a large scroll, and write upon it with man's pen, Maher-shalal-hash-baz." After which Isaiah writes, "I took unto myself faithful witnesses; namely, Uriah, the priest, and Zechariah, the son of Jebarachiah; and I came near to the prophetess, and she conceived, and bare a son, and the Lord said unto me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz." It was necessary he should take faithful witnesses, in order to record all the minute parts of the Divine bidding, since he himself had to fulfill all.
Scripture introduces the words, "And it was told to the House of David," instead of to "Ahaz," etc. We account for this by the fact, that Ahaz was a wicked man; and it was thought proper, therefore, to indicate that the miracle did not occur for the merit of this king, but for the merit of his ancestor. The disputant may ask, "In what did, then, the sign and miracle consist, if the prophet predicted merely that a married woman would conceive and bear a son?" We reply, that the sign and the miracle, undeniably, consisted in the assurance of an event that could not be foreseen and foretold by a profane man. Conception and birth do not depend on human will; and many an infant is born that never sees the light nor can we know whether the mother will give birth to a son or a daughter. Another miracle is, the prediction that the mother of the new-born child would call it Emanuel; and this prediction fulfilled, vouches for the truth of the additional prophecy, that Judah and Jerusalem would be saved from the attack of two belligerent kings. Again, it is a miracle, that the child, after its birth, was not to such from the breasts of its mother, like other sucklings, but would feed on butter and honey. See Isaiah 7:15, "Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good." This fare, and the abstaining from mother's milk shall endow him with knowledge to avoid the evil and to prefer the good, and make him excel all other children in intellect. The activity of free agency is to commence with him as soon as he can call father and motherwhich renders him pre-eminent among other children of his age. The confirmation of this even is in chapter 8 of Isaiah.
The Christians maintain, that if that child had been born from the young woman like other children of men, his name could not have been called Emanuel (God is with us): but that this name was quite applicable to Jesus, who was a compound of the Divine and human nature.
Refutation.It is the Hebrew idiom to join the name of the Almighty to the proper names of men, and even to inanimate objects; for instance, Samuel, Zuriel, Uziel, Michael, Eliezer, Elijah, Isaiah, Zurishaddai, etc. in Genesis 33:20, an altar was called, "El-Elohe Israel" (i.e. God is the God of Israel). In Exodus 17:15, an altar is called, "The Lord is my banner." We find the application in Jeremiah 33:16, "The Lord is our righteousness." In Ezekiel 48:35, we find the expression, "The Lord is there," which is applied to Jerusalem, the Holy city, as a name which will be given to it at the time of the Messiah, when the glorious presence of the Almighty shall return to it. That, however, Jesus should be called by the name Emanuel is not affirmed by any passage of the Gospel. We only find in Matthew 1:20, that the angel said to Joseph in a dream, "Fear not to receive Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost, and she shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Jesus (ישוע), for he shall save his people from their sins. Now, all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel," etc. It is further stated, "And Joseph took unto him Mary his wife, and knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son, and she called his name Jesus." In Luke 2:21, we find, "And when the eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child he was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb." From this it appears that Emmanuel was a different individual from Jesus, for Jesus was in no instance called Emmanuelas to the name Jesus, it was given to him by mere chance, there were many other Jews named Jesus. See Ezra 2, 3, and 10, and the 2nd book of Chronicles 31. The Jews spell Jesus ישו because the ע is omitted in the pronunciation of the Christians; but suppose the ע is to be retained, there is no inference deducible from that in favour of their faith, as Matthew tried to establish for the Christians, to apply the name of Jesus also to the son of Sirach, who wrote a book called Ecclesiasticus.
Our disputant may ask. Of whom did Isaiah prophesy in chapter 9:6, when he said, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: on his shoulders shall be the government: and they shall call him Wonderful, Counsellor, Almighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of [his] government and peace there shall be no end [without end, Heb.] 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"?
We give the following reply: Those passages refer to Hezekiah, king of Judah, during whose government Israel experienced, through a divine intercession, a signal deliverance from Sennacherib, king of Assyria, who had raised a siege against Jerusalem with an army of a hundred and eighty thousand valiant men. That this great miracle, namely, the fall of the camp of Sennacherib, referred to in the verses under consideration, was occasioned from the regard entertained by the Almighty for "the virtue of the child born unto us," and which, at the time of the prophecy, was already "given unto us." For when Ahaz ascended the throne, Hezekiah had already attained his ninth year. The truth of this exposition is borne out by the verses antecedent and subjoined to the passage "for a child has been born unto us." The latter word of the 6th verse of the 9th chapter of Isaiah must be rendered thus: "And he who is Wonderful, a Counsellor and Omnipotent God, a Father of Eternity, he called his (the child's) name Prince of Peace." The child born unto Ahaz is entitled the Prince of Peace because of the peace granted to Israel in the days of Hezekiah.
The preceding epithets are applied to the Almighty as indications of marvellous occurrences accompanying the life of Hezekiah, "God showed Himself Wonderful," causing for his (Hezekiah's) sake, the shade of the sun-dial to recede; as "Counsellor," the Lord established his own designs, and frustrated those of Sennacherib; as "the Omnipotent God," He evinced His divine attribute by suddenly destroying the immense army of the invading king; as "Father of Eternity," and Ruler of time, who, according to His pleasure, adds to and diminishes from the life of mortals. He manifested His power by prolonging the life of Hezekiah for a period of fifteen years.
The opponent may object to the above translation, by pleading, that he finds in his version of lsaiah the verb (ויקרא) in the passive, viz.: "and his name was called, and not, as we are supposed to read, taking the verb in the active form (he called his name), so that the epithets which follow apply to the child, whose name the Almighty called "Wonderful," etc.
We know well that Jerome has made a practice of accommodating Scripture to the notions of his own creed; and has endeavoured to establish an authority for his belief in the Divinity of Jesus. All endeavours, however, have failed. Even after adopting the reading of Jerome, we should be entitled to assign the above epithets to Hezekiah, since we have already proved that the nature of the holy language allows application of the name of the Almighty to human beings, and even to inanimate objects, inclusively. To give to Jesus the above appellations is altogether incompatible with his own history. How can he claim the names "Wonderful" and "Counsellor," when it is remembered, that one of his disciples frustrated his designs, and betrayed him to his enemies? How can he merit the title, "Powerful" or "Omnipotent God," who suffered an unnatural death? How can he be the "Father of Eternity," who did not attain even half of the natural period of human life? How can he be distinguished as the "Prince of Peace?" whereas, no peace existed in his days: and as he himself asserted, by saying, "I am not come to bring peace into the earth, but the sword." The Christians avail themselves of the passage, "to the increase of government, and peace without end," to oppose us with the following question:"If the intention of the prophet had been to prophesy an earthly kingdom, how could he say that his (the king's) government would be without end?" We reply to this, that the expression, "without end," (אין קץ) is a mere figure of speech. We find, similarly. in Isaiah, 2:7, "And his land was full of silver and gold, and there was no end to his treasures; and his land was full of horses, and there was no end to his chariots."
Thus we find, also, in Ecclesiastes 4:8, "There is One, and no second, and he has neither son nor brother; and there is no end to all his troubles." At the end of the above prophecy, Isaiah says, chap. 9:7, "On the throne of David, and over his kingdom." This passage is a clear refutation of the Christian doctrine of the Messiah, for Jesus never sat on the throne of David, and never ruled over Israel. Should they interpret the throne of David in a spiritual sense, we must declare that the throne of David never meant anything but in relation to terrestrial government. David sat on a real throne, and his kingdom was a positive reality. Scripture, therefore, treats of it here in that sense only, and does not allude to any visionary kingdom. The expression, to establish it, and support it, "in judgment and righteousness, now and for evermore," shows that his dominionthat is, the dynasty of Davidwill never perish. And though an interruption has occurred during the time of the captivity, the government, nevertheless, will in the days of the Messiah, return to the scion of David. See Ezekiel 37:25, "And they shall live in it, and their children, and their children's children, to eternity, and my servant David shall be prince over them for ever." This whole passage refers to the Messiah, as will be shown hereafter. Our opponents may remark, "How can the idea of eternity be understood from the words 'even for evermore,' if the government of the house of David ceased from the time of the captivity?" Our answer to this argument is, that an intermediate cessation destroys not the nature of the perpetual duration; for we find that the commandment of circumcision, was enjoined on the posterity of Abraham, as an everlasting covenant, (see Genesis 17:7), "And my covenant shall be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant"; and, nevertheless, the ceremonial was, from sanitary motives, discontinued during the whole period of the journey through the desert. When, however, the tribes had entered the Land of Promise, the practice of that covenant was resumed, and will remain in force, even in the days of the Messiah, as the Prophets have declared to us. See Isaiah 52:1, "Awake, awake! put on thy strength, Zion; put on thee the garments of thy glory, Jerusalem, thou holy city, for there shall never more enter into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean." The prophet Ezekiel likewise says (chap. 44:9), "Thus saith the Lord God, Any son of an alien, of an uncircumcised heart and of uncircumcised flesh, shall not enter into my sanctuary." Another instance we find in the covenant which the Almighty made with Phineas to grant the high priesthood to him and his posterity for ever; a long suspension occurred among his posterity, for we learn that Eli, Abimelech, and Abiathar officiated as high priests, until King Solomon ascended the throne; nevertheless that dignity reverted to the rightful party, viz., the descendants of Phineas (see 1st Kings 2:26); where it is related that Solomon deposed Abiathar, and placed Zadok in his office. The same is related in 1st Chronicles 29:22, "And Zadok they anointed to be priest because he was of the lineage of Phineas"; and though another interruption in the dignity of priesthood took place during the time of the captivity, it will be restored at the coming of the Messiah; and the words in Numbers 25:13, will be realized, "And it shall belong to him and to his seed after him as an everlasting priesthood." Ezekiel informs us on this point by telling us (chap. 44:15), "And the priests, the Levites, the children of Zadok, who observed the observances of my sanctuary, while the children of Israel strayed from me, they shall come nigh unto me." This prophecy is connected with the Advent of the Messiah, as will be explained in its proper place. We have now given a full refutation to mistaken assertions of our opponents, and having founded our arguments on prophecy, they can only be opposed by opponents of truth itself.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.4]
Isaiah 52:13, "Behold my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high." In this and the verses that follow until the end of chapter 53 the Christians assert, that the prophecy of Isaiah constitutes a prediction of Jesus, the Nazarene, concerning whom Isaiah has said, "He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high," because to him alone it is asserted these words can be attributed, "Surely he has borne our sicknesses and our pains. He was wounded by our transgressions and oppressed by our iniquities." For he is said to have, by his death, saved their souls from the power of Satan.
Refutation.This assertion lacks truth, Scripture having declared, "Behold my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted," etc.; how can these words be made to refer to Jesus, after they (the Christians) inconsiderately represent him to be God? If he were a Divine Being, how could the prophet call him a servant? The Christian disputant may say, that in a corporeal respect he was called servant, and in a spiritual respect he was entitled God. To this defence we object, by referring the reader to chapter 10, where we have given comprehensive proofs of the non-divinity of Christ, by shewing that, by the authors of the Gospel, he was not considered to be a God, and much less so by himself. This matter shall again be noticed in the second part of this work; when we shall refute the several passages of importance relative to the subject in the Gospel. We may be permitted to mention here that the prophetic word, "He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high," were not fulfilled in Jesus, he having been condemned to death in an inglorious manner, and thus the prophecy was not realized in him"He shall see seed and live many days," for he had no offspring. His disciples cannot be called his offspring, though the word בנים (sons) is applicable to them, and אבות (fathers) to the teachers. The word זרע (seed) is used in the Bible only for bodily heirs; nor do we find that Jesus reached an old age, for he was put to death when thirty-three years of age. We cannot apply the words, "he shall live long" (English version, "prolong his days") to a Divine Being, for the term of longevity is inappropriate to the Deity who is the Prime Cause of all existence, and whose self-existence is eternal; moreover, we wish to know to whom will the Christians attribute the promise, "Therefore will I apportion unto him spoil among the many, and with mighty men he shall share the spoil." Who are the many and mighty men with whom Jesus is to partake in the spoil? and to whom refer the words, "And he intreated for the transgressors"? Did Jesus, who, according to their futile notions, was styled a God, pray for transgressors? Many more such queries suggest themselves on this theme, but we will first examine the true import of the chapter. The words, "Behold my servant shall prosper," to the end of the 53rd chapter, concern the people of Israel, who are still bearing the yoke of this captivity, and are termed my servant in the singular number, which expression is used in many other places; for example (Isaiah 41:8, 9), "And thou, Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, my friend." Again, "And I say unto thee, Thou art my servant." In chapter 44:21, Isaiah says, "And now hear, Jacob my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen"; and further on, "Fear not, my servant Jacob"; and "Remember these things, Jacob and Israel, for thou art my servant." "I have formed thee to be my servant." Ibid. 45:4, "For the sake of Jacob my servant and Israel my chosen one." We find also in the Prophecies of Jeremiah (30:10), "Fear not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord, and be not dismayed, Israel." The same is repeated, "Fear not, O Jacob my servant, saith the Lord." Similar expressions occur in the Psalms. Psalm 136:22, "An inheritance to Jacob his servant," etc. All these passages afford an evidence that the term servant in the singular is frequently addressed to the whole people of Israel. The same form of address in the singular is used in the delivery of the ten commandments, though directed to an assembly of six hundred thousand persons.
We may be asked, What connexion with Israel has the following passage in Isaiah 53:4, 5: "Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our pains, and we considered him plagued, stricken by God, and afflicted. And he was wounded by our transgressions, and bruised by our iniquities. The chastisement for the sake of our weal came upon him, and by his wounds we were healed." It may be alleged, that it has never been known at any period that the people of Israel have borne the sicknesses, the pains, and the wounds due to the iniquity of other nations; and whatever afflictions and troubles Israel have endured, came upon them on account of their own sins, and not for those of other nations.
In our reply to this objection, we will show, first, that the prophets frequently designate humiliations and adversities by the name of sickness and wounds. Compare Isaiah 1:5, 6, "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint, from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrifying sores." And again in 30:26, "In the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the sore of their wound." In like manner, Hosea 6:1, "He has torn and He will heal us. He hath smitten and He will bind up." Lamentations 2:13, "For thy breach is great like the sea, who can heal thee?" Jeremiah 10:19, "Woe is me for my hurt, my wound is grievous, and I said, This is my sickness, and I must bear it." Afterwards he explains the meaning of this fracture, this sore, and this sickness, by exclaiming (ibid. ver. 20), "My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken; my children are gone forth from me, and they are not," etc. Ibid. 30:12, "For thus saith the Lord, Thy fracture is mortifying, thy wound is exceedingly sore." Soon afterwards the consolation is given in the words in verse 17, "I shall bring relief unto thee and heal thee from thy wounds." The prophet then explains in what the healing and relief are to consist, viz. (ver. 18), "Thus speaketh the Lord, I shall bring back the captivity of thy tents, O Jacob, and I shall have compassion on its inhabitants, and the city shall be built on its ruins, and the palace shall stand in its proper place. There shall again proceed forth from them thanksgiving and the voice of mirth, and I shall increase them, and they shall not be diminished," etc. In chapter 33:6 to 8, he says, "I bring up into it a remedy and healing, and I shall heal them." Therefore, he explains in what the remedy and healing will consist, in the words, "And I shall bring back the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Jerusalem, and I shall build them as formerly, and I shall cleanse them from all their iniquities which they have committed against me," etc.
From all these verses it appears, that Scripture designates the captivity as attended with calamities, and describes the troubles that took place during the exile under the names of bruises and woundsbut redemption, enlargement, and deliverance. Scripture depicts by the terms of curing and healing. Now, with the prophecy, "My servant shall be prosperous," we receive comfort, and strengthening of our heartsalthough we are lowered deeply, and trodden down to the ground by reason of our captivity, hope is offered us for the future; and through the mercy of the Lord, we shall be raised, and exalted, and promoted to a high degree. When the days of restoration dawn upon us, the Gentile nations, together with their rulers, in witnessing the deliverance of Israel, and their elevation to a most exalted rank, will be greatly amazedas they previously have been at our degradation during our captivity, when contumely and insult have been our lot from all nations of the earthso they will express their wonder at our improved condition, and they will say, one to the other, "Now it is manifest to us, that we have all strayed like a flock without a shepherd; each of us has turned his own way; our fathers inherited fallacy and vanity, in which there is no profit; no Divine law, nor any true faith, is belonging to any nation of the world except the people of Israel. The plagues and the torments which the Israelites have borne in captivity have not come upon them on account of their sins: we, ourselves, ought to have borne the trouble and the chastisements on account of the greatness of our iniquity. Surely, the sickness and the pain which ought to have come upon us, came upon them, to atone for our sins: while they were servants under our authority, while they have interceded for our welfare, and the success of our kingdomsyet we considered it differentlynamely, that on account of the greatness of their sin, for inflicting death on our Messiah, who is our God, these great calamities have befallen them." So far will go the words of the Gentiles
Here we may mention, that the Gentiles are not responsible for their trespasses in the same manner as those to whom the will of God has been revealed. Only when their iniquity is outrageous, when their ill-treatment of righteous Israelites is aggravated, when the enormities inflicted on the Israelites equalled the chastisements imposed upon those who perished by the Deluge, or of those who shared the fate of Sodom and Gomorrahit will be then the Lord will visit their iniquities, and bring total destruction upon them: though permitting the suffering and persecution of Israel, he will not allow actual extinction. This forbearance towards us is expressed in Jeremiah 30:11, "For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee. For I shall make an end of all the Gentiles among whom I have scattered thee; but of thee I shall not make an end; I shall correct thee in measure, but I will not hold thee guiltless.: Amos, likewise, notices in his book, chapter 3:2, "I have known you from all the families of the earth; on that account, I shall visit upon you all your sins": and in the Proverbs 3:12 we find "Him whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth," etc., "and he shall cleave to the house of Jacob." The punishments of Israel are not only for their own good, but also for that of other nations. Hence, Isaiah prophesied concerning the restoration of Israel, chapter 14:1, "And strangers shall be joined with them." It is well known that Israel is the chosen nation concerning whom it is recorded in Exodus (chap 19:5), "And ye shall be unto me a peculiar people from among all the nations; for mine is the earth." All this tends to prove, that the Almighty revealed His law to Israel for the purpose that they should learn to walk in the right way, and to perform righteous deeds. With this distinguished gift for themselves. He has coupled the noble mission that they should become useful to other nations; "For His mercy extends to all His creatures." With a view to Israel's instrumentality in His Divine government, we find (in Exo 19:6), "And they shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." And to the same purport says Isaiah (chap 61:6), "And ye shall be named the priests of the Lord; ye shall be called the servants of our God." "Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory ye shall triumph." In numerous parts of the Scripture, the people of Israel are called priests, it being the duty of that class to inculcate religious duties and precepts, and to "teach Jacob judgments, and Israel the Law." Thus, it is our vocation to instruct, in the law of the living God, the Gentiles, among whom we are dispersed; and as the Psalmist says. Psalm 96:3, to "relate His glory among the Gentiles, His wonderful works among the nations."
All future felicity of the Gentiles will proceed from Israel, as has been assured to our patriarchs, (see Genesis 12:3,) "And in thee all the nations of the earth shall be blessed"; and ibid, 28:14, "And through thee and thy seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Here we have an additional testimony that the people of Israel are graciously distinguished, the Almighty having appointed them as His portion and inheritance, (see Psalm 135:4), "The Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, and Israel as His distinct," (people), or in other words of Scripture, Deuteronomy 32:9, "For his people are the portion of the Lord, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." The law has, therefore, been given to us, with the intention that we should teach to other nations the ways of the Lord. When the guide pursues the right road those who follow will safely reach the end of the journey, while the stragglers will undoubtedly lose their way altogether. Therefore must those who wish to arrive at their destination keep close to their leaders; and thus, at a future day, according to the prophecy of Zechariah 8:23, "Ten men from the Gentiles of various tongues shall take hold of the garment of the Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." The felicity of Israel will be shared by those who associate with them in the same manner as Jethro (and his descendants who settled in Palestine) shared in the welfare of our people according to the promise of Moses, Numbers 10:32, "And it will come to pass, if thou will go with us, that all the good which the Lord will do unto us we will do unto thee." In Jeremiah 35:19, there is a further evidence that the promise given by Moses was fulfilled. The prophet says, "There shall never be wanting to Jonadab, the son of Rechab, a man to stand before me." Here the words, "to stand" mean to endure, to last, in conformity with the phrase used in Isaiah 66:22, "As the new Heavens and the new earth shall stand before me, saith the Lord, so shall stand your seed and your name."
Returning again to the examination of Isaiah 53 we have to notice, that, at the time of the restoration, the followers of the Jews will escape unhurt from all the troubles incident to wandering strangers. The Jews will resemble those warriors who, standing foremost, are exposed to the most imminent perils, and nevertheless, when the enemies shall be conquered, those who are in the rear shall equally share in the spoil, although not exposed to the same amount of danger. Hence Isaiah 53:5, says, metaphorically, "He is pierced for the sake of our transgressions, he is bruised for the sake of our iniquity, the chastisement for our good comes upon him, and through his sore we are healed." The prophet, proceeding (ibid ver. 12), in the same figure of speech, alludes to the spoil allotted to the front ranks of the divine army of the Israelites, and says, "Therefore will I give him his portion among the many, and with the mighty he shall divide spoil, because he has exposed himself to death, and has been counted among sinners, and has borne the iniquity of many, and interceded for transgressors."
From previous as well as subsequent verses, the reader is enabled to judge that the inspired writings treat solely on the calamities which Israel has to endure during the captivity, and that compensation will be granted to them from the time of their redemption from the captivity. See, for instance, Isaiah 52:1, "Awake, awake, put on thy strength, Zion, put on the garments of thy glory, Jerusalem, thou holy city, for there shall no more enter thee the uncircumcised and the unclean." Now this passage is succeeded by the words (Isa 52:12), "For not speedily shall ye go forth; ye shall not go in by flight, for the Lord is going before you, and the God of Israel is gathering you." Then follow these words (Isa 52:13), "Behold, my servant shall prosper." Chapter 54:1, commences, "Rejoice, thou barren woman who hast not borne"; and the verses which follow equally indicate Israel's final redemption. All these Divine promises are strictly connected with the gracious assurance laid down. Ibid 51:22, "Thus saith thy Sovereign, the Lord my God, who pleadeth the cause of His people; behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury, thou shalt drink it no more." The same harmony is evident between the expression, "No uncircumcised and unclean shall enter there," and the oath contained in chapter 54:9, 10, "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee; neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee." Having now dwelt generally on the prophecy relative to the restoration of Israel, we shall examine, more closely, each particular expression.
Isaiah 52:13, "Behold my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised and exalted, and be very great."
The word ישכיל "he shall prosper," is found again in the 1st Samuel 18:14, "And David was prosperous in all his ways." "My servant shall prosper," relates to that period when Israel shall leave the countries of its captivity, and be elevated to the highest degree of happiness. "As many were astonished at thee, so was his appearance deteriorated more than that of any man, and his form more than that of the sons of men." The word astonished expresses the surprise which will be felt, and is used in the same sense in Ezekiel 28:19, "And all who knew thee among the nations were astonished at thee." The astonishment is to be felt by those who are to consider "thy (Israel's) deep humiliation, and the duration of thy captivity; and they shall say one to the other (Isa 52:14), "Truly, his appearance is deteriorated more than any man, and his form more than that of the sons of men." And indeed it has become proverbial among the Gentiles, to exclaim, at the wretched appearance of their neighbour, "he looks as miserable as a Jew."
Isaiah 52:15, "Thus, he shall startle many nations, the kings shall shut their mouths against him, for what has not been told them they have seen, and what they have not heard they have understood."
The prophet Isaiah means to say, that in the same manner as the Gentiles formerly were amazed at the depth of humiliation into which we had been thrown, they shall, at a future period, be astounded at the height of distinction at which we shall arrive; and they shall then say to each other, "who would have believed the report brought to us?" etc. The kings themselves shall remain dumb and speechless. The verb יקפצו they shall keep (their mouths) closed or shut, is similarly used in Job 5:16, "and wickedness closed its mouth." With the above prophecy of Isaiah agrees, also, the prophet Micah, chapter 7:10, "Gentiles shall see it, and be ashamed, in spite of all their strength; and they lay their hands on their mouths when perceiving that our distinctions shall surpass every description and prediction: "Who would have believed the report we have heard; and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" This shall be said by the Gentiles at the sight of Israel's prosperity. "We (shall they exclaim), we have put no faith in the hearsay that reached us through the prophets, and now we perceive with our own eyes that more has been done than we had heard; for how could we conceive that the omnipotence of the Almighty would manifest itself especially on behalf of such an insignificant and disregarded people!"
"He grew up before him like a sucking babe, like a root on parched land, without form, without beauty that we might look at him, without comeliness that we might find pleasure in him."
The purport of this is, that the Gentiles shall declare the rise of Israel is just as preternatural as if a branch were to grow from parched ground. "While groaning under the yoke of his captivity, how could we suppose that he could endure the burdens imposed on him? When we consider their wasted body, and saw them groping their way like the blind, we did, indeed, not envy and covet their lot; but on the contrary , we vilified and spurned them. Isaiah 53:3, "He was despised and the least of men; a man of pains, and acquainted with disease, and as one from whom man hideth his countenance, he was despised, and we esteemed him not." This means, How should we (Gentiles) have envied his (the Jew's) lot who was the most despised and abject of the children of men; who was accustomed to load himself with all the troubles and torments of his exile, which may be compared to pains and diseases. On account of his extraordinary inferiority and degradation we despised him, hiding our faces from him, being unwilling to notice him. "However, he hath borne our diseases, and carried our pains, and we esteemed him smitten of God and afflicted."
This meansThe Gentiles after having perceived, by ocular evidence, that he (the Jew) has the truth on his side, they shall say: "We have all wandered like sheep, the miseries and persecutions of the captivity have not befallen him on account of his own iniquity, but ought to have come upon us on account of our iniquity; and while we believe that he underwent trials and chastisements in retribution for his rebellion to God, he (the Jew) suffered in consequence of the transgressions of the Gentiles. And he was tormented on account of our transgressions; he was bruised on account of our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises, we were healed." The word מחלל (afflicted) is related to חיל (pain as women in labour).
The phrase "the chastisement of our peace was upon him," indicates that this life presents a world of change and vicissitude, no enjoyment is complete and perfect; there is no state of peace without struggle; there is no quietude without an intermixture of strife and contention, and there is no gladness and enjoyment without sorrow and contrition. All pleasures and delights are intermingled with evils. Hence we (Gentiles) see clearly that "the chastisement of our peace has come upon him"; that is to say, we (Gentiles) have acquired a state of peace, but the struggles by which it was obtained fell to his (the Jew's) lot. Thus he (the Jew) received wounds and bruises, as results of his captivity, while we derived from his vicissitudes healing and restoration, viz., prosperity and dominion. The word נרפא (healed) is used in an analogous sense, in Exodus 15:26, "For I the Lord am He who healeth thee" which sentence accords with the preceding words, "All the diseases which I put upon the Egyptians, I shall not put upon thee."
The word וּבַחֲבֻרׇתו means "by his bruises." The omission of the Dagesh, in the second radical letter, has led some to interpret it "in his society." Those expositors compare the word with that occurring in Hosea 4:17, viz., חבור עצבים אפרים "Ephraim is associated with Idols," etc. In that case, it would seem that we (Gentiles) praying to God in society, or in conjunction with them (the Jews), the Almighty listened to our entreaties and sent us relief from our afflictions. Isaiah 53:6, "We all strayed like sheep, each of us turned to his own way; and the Lord visited on him the iniquity of us all."
This meansThe Gentiles will make confession of their guilt, by acknowledging that the Lord is truly and entirely with Israel, and that they (the Gentiles) strayed like a shepherdless flock, every man following his own way, and each people worshipping his peculiar god: "but now," will they say, "now we know that our idols are not gods."
In corroboration of this we find, in Jeremiah 16:19, 20, "To thee nations will come from the corners of the earth, and they will say, Surely our fathers inherited falsehood, vanity in which there is no profit." Moreover we read there, shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? (shall the Gentiles continue in their accusation) "We have deserved a most rigorous punishment, but the Lord visited and cast our punishment upon Israel. He has hitherto laboured for our sake and borne our yoke and our tribulations, henceforward we will freely and cheerfully labour for him, and subject ourselves to him."
Therefore Isaiah says, 61:5, "And strangers shall stand forth and feed your flocks," etc. With the same view that prophet says (chap 49:23), "And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down their faces to the ground before thee, and they shall lick the dust off thy feet, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord, and that those who hope in me shall not be put to shame."
Isaiah 53:7, "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 its shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." For (will the Gentiles say concerning the Israelites) while that people was held captive under our power we extorted from them contributions under various pretexts, and by means of false accusations. We inflicted on them bodily torments, yet they shewed patient endurance under them, and remained silent and calm like the lamb when led to the slaughter, and like the weak defenceless sheep submitting to the shearers.
This condition of Israel is prefigured in the complaint in Psalm 44:11, "Thou givest us away like the sheep that is to be consumed." A similar comparison is made by Jeremiah (50:17), "Israel is like a scattered flock, the lions have chased them away: first, the king of Assyria has devoured them; and lastly, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, has crushed them." Isaiah 53:8, "He was taken away from prison and severe judgment, and who shall speak of his generation? for he was cut off from the land of the living, and through the transgression of my people he was stricken."
This meansThat by this time the Israelites will have escaped the direful oppressions to which they had been subjected during their exile; and it will then be manifest that no human language can supply an adequate description of the incessant afflictions endured by the Jews, and of their unswerving belief in the only One God. Then will the Gentiles acknowledge that the visitation which befell the Jews tended less to illustrate the sinfulness of the victims, than the depravity of the persecutors. The word "transgression" is followed by the expression, "my people," for each nation will attribute to itself the consequences of the malignity to which Israel had been exposed.
Isaiah 53:9, "And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich his tomb, although he had done no wrong, and no guile had been in his mouth."
This meansThat, in honour of his religion, the Israelite used to expose himself freely to martyrdom, as is confirmed by the above-cited allusion to it in Psalm 44:22, "For on account of thee, we are slain all the day, for we are considered like sheep for slaughter, for we have constantly been attacked by false accusation, through which they sought to inflict on us the retributions due to the guilty."
In all such cases the persecuted parties were not offenders, and we Gentiles felt incensed because the Israelites would not conform to our ill-founded dogmas, and "would not hold deceit in their mouths." For even to escape death the Israelites would not make a confession with their lips to which their hearts must give an utter denial. Ibid, 10, "And it pleased the Lord to humble him. He afflicted him with ailment. Since his soul has offered itself as a sacrifice, he shall see seed and live long, and the delight of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."
This meansSince Israel has so firmly adhered to the divine law, and has subjected himself to death under religious persecution, we [Gentiles] see no other object for the infliction and chastisements, except that the Almighty visits him with punishments in order to humble and to try him with a view to compensate him for his submission: therefore, in sharing his grave with the Israelite he shall see seed, that is to say, become exceedingly numerous. This elliptical mode of omitting the word expressive of excess and largeness occurs also in Numbers 13:32, where we find אנשי מדה "Men of size," that is, men of large or gigantic size. Other prophets also contribute their testimony to the future increase of Israel. See, for instance, Zechariah 10:8, "I will hiss for them and gather them, for I have redeemed them, and they shall increase as they have increased."
In the same chapter the prophet foretells (10:10): "I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, and it shall not be large enough for them" (English Version, "no place found for them"). Ezekiel 36:37, has on the same subject the following prophecy: "I will increase them with men as a flock." The words "he shall live long" have a parallel in Isaiah 65:22, "For as the days of the tree shall be the days of my people." Zechariah says, in chapter 8:4, "And every man (shall sit) with his staff in his hand for very age."
The Almighty in afflicting and humbling us during our captivity purposes, therefore, to bring to pass our ultimate benefit, and to strengthen our number in the time of our restoration. This is confirmed in Deuteronomy 30:5, "And He will make thee better and more numerous than thy fathers were." So far go the words which convey the restoration of Israel. The last two verses of the chapter contain the promise added by the Almighty (Isaiah 53:11 ), "He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant make many righteous, for he shall bear their iniquities." The words, "by his knowledge," are thus illustrated in Jeremiah 31:34, "For they all shall know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them." "He shall make many people righteous," means that Israel shall impart its knowledge of righteousness to the Gentiles. See on this point Micah 4:2, "And many nations shall come and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Hence, Israel, the servant of the Lord, shall, by his righteousness, remove the wickedness of the Gentiles, and through his righteousness peace and happiness shall reign among mankind at large. Isaiah 53:12, "Therefore will I divide him a portion among the great, and with the mighty he shall divide the spoil; because he poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many, and prayed for the transgressor."
This meansI shall allot him a portion and a reward among the greatest and worthiest men that lived on earth, viz., among the patriarchs and holy prophets.
The allotment will consist in spiritual beatitude which far surpasses all corporeal well-being. The translation of רבים (great) is justified by the occurrence of ורב in Genesis, "And the greater [in the English Version, the elder] shall serve the younger." But worldly prosperity is likewise promised in Isaiah's prophecy, as he says, "And with the mighty he shall divide the spoil." "The mighty" are the hosts of Gog and Magog, and the nations who will come to carry on war with Jerusalem, and who will be removed by sudden death. See Ezekiel 38:22, "I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood, and I will pour down floods of rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him," etc. Israel shall then partake of the spoil and property in retribution of the extortion and depredation formerly practised towards Israel. See Zechariah 14:14, "And the wealth of all heathen shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and raiment in great abundance."
Thus Israel shall be compensated for the bodily and mental suffering heaped upon them during their exile.
In that epoch, life shall be ransomed by life and property by property. This is intended by the words, "Because he poured forth his soul unto death." The verb הערה "he poured forth" (from the root ערה) is synonymous with the expression in Genesis 24:20, "And she poured forth her pitcher," etc.
"And he was numbered with the transgressors" is analogous to the sentence, "And he made his grave with the wicked." That is to say, the gentiles treated Israel as a wicked, ungodly race, and, therefore, these exuberant blessings shall now be bestowed unto Israel which are reserved for the upright and God-fearing men, and those who revere His name like the holy patriarchs and the prophets of our people. "He bore the sin of many" means, he was not only free from the wickedness imputed to him by the gentiles, but through his piety he bore their sins and suffered for their iniquity. At the same time he prayed for those nations who had inflicted on him heavy sufferings, and besought the Almighty to grant prosperity and abundance to the kingdoms of the gentiles. See Jeremiah 29:7, "And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried captive, and pray unto the Lord for it," etc. With the same tolerant spirit our Rabbins admonish us thus: "Pray for the prosperity of thy native country." The prayers we offer up to the Almighty are an evidence of our submission to this precept. We pray for the long life and happiness of our gentile rulers, and we address other prayers all tending to prove the interest we take in the welfare of other nations; we pray for the fertility of their land and for the plentiful supply of food required for the nourishment of all.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.5]
Isaiah 64:5 (in the English version, ver. 6), "And we are all as an unclean man, and all our righteousnesses are as a rotten garment and as a leaf, and our iniquities take us away like a wind." A Christian once addressed me in the following terms:"That there is not one man on the earth who does good and sinneth not. Yea, ye must know well that there is not one man capable of observing all the commandments prescribed in the laws of Moses; and that your righteous acts have not enabled you to attain the end you seek. How inefficient, then, must the prayers and the actions of the wicked prove?"
ReplyWe must certainly admit that no man can obtain salvation through his own acts alone; but man must combine with his piety a total submission to the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord. Jeremiah announces it clearly (chap. 30:21), "And I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me, for who is he whose heart is emboldened to approach unto me?"
The Psalmist says, in the same manner (Psalms 65:4), "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest to be near unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts." Therefore, he prays (in Psalm 79:9), "Help us, God of our salvation, for the sake of the glory of Thy name, and deliver us and forgive us our sins, for the sake of Thy name." In Psalms 25:11, the sacred poet says, "For the sake of Thy name forgive us our iniquity, for it is great." Again in Psalms 115:1, "Not unto us, Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for the sake of Thy mercy, and for the sake of Thy faithfulness." Again in Psalms 143:11, "For the sake of Thy name thou shalt quicken me; for the sake of Thy righteousness thou shalt bring my soul out of trouble." In Psalms 44:26, he exclaims, "Arise and deliver us for the sake of Thy loving-kindness, in the greatness of Thy mercy blot out my transgression." And in Psalms 80:3, he implores the Almighty, "Return unto us, O God, and cause Thy countenance to shine (upon us) and we shall be saved." Thus says, also, the prophet Jeremiah 14:7, "If our iniquities testify against us, then grant, O God, for the sake of Thy name"; and further, (14:21) "For the sake of Thy name do not rebuke us." In the Lamentations 5:21, he says "Cause us, Lord, to return unto Thee and we shall be turned." Daniel, in his prayer, 9:18, 19, uses similar language, "For not on account of our righteousness we pour out our supplications before Thee; but on account of Thine abundant mercies, O Lord, hear them; Lord, forgive us; O Lord, hearken and grant them; delay not, O God, for Thine own sake, for Thy name is called upon Thy city and Thy people." Numerous other passages might be quoted all conveying the same idea.
Hence the Almighty has given us the assurance, through His prophets, to deliver us from our captivity, and to blot out our sins and iniquities, not for our sake but for His own sake. Thus Isaiah says, 48:11, "For my sake, for my own sake will I do it." In chapter 43:25, the same prophet says, "I, even I, am he who blotteth out thy transgressions for my own sake, and thy sins I will not remember." This is expressed, also, by Ezekiel, 36:22, "Not for your sake, house of Israel, am I dealing thus, but for my holy name." We find in the same book, chapter 20:44, "And ye shall know, that I am the Lord, by my dealing for the sake of my name, and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt actions, house of Israel, saith the Lord God." We may cite here, also, the words of Jeremiah 31:37, "Thus saith the Lord, If the heavens above shall be measured, or the foundations of the earth be searched, I will also rebuke the seed of Israel for all they have done." This divine declaration clearly confirms our opinion that our salvation does not solely depend on our imperfect individual merit and righteousness, but on the mercy of the faithful God, who will never change although we may be found undeserving before him.
The expression of the prophet, "We are all unclean, and all our virtues are like a rotten garment," has reference to such religious works as are performed through vain-glory and selfish motives, in order to create envy among our neighbours, it is evident enough that the best actions must displease the Almighty when they originate from base motives; "For the Searcher of hearts," say our sages, "regards the intentions only." Hence the admonition in Deuteronomy 15:10, "Thou shalt supply him liberally, nor shall thy heart be vexed while thou givest." And in chapter 28:47, we read, "Because thou didst not serve the Lord thy God in joy, and with a cheerful heart." The above passage, "We are all unclean, and all our righteousness is like a rotten garment," relates, therefore, to the objectionable conduct and impure intentions of those who selfishly labour in the cause of the Almighty, and, as the leaves dropping from the tree are carried away by the wind, so we, in consequence of our sins, are dispersed throughout all the quarters of the globe.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.6]
Jeremiah 3:16, "And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord, neither shall it come to mind, neither shall they remember it, neither shall they visit it, neither shall that be done any more." From this the Christians argue that the law of Moses, which was deposited by the side of the ark, would at a future period be annulled.
Refutation.In chapter 19 we have already proved by unmistakable evidence, and especially by their own Gospels, and even by allusions to their theological writers, that the law of Moses is eternal, and that no new revelation will ever supplant our old law. Having then sufficiently proved the feebleness of the opinions adverse to this view, we confine ourselves here to the above quoted explanations: every reader of the Scriptures knows the passage in 1 Kings 8:9, "There was nothing in the ark but the two tables of stone." These tables having been called the tables of the covenant, the ark, as the receptacle of those tables, was named "the ark of the covenant." The Christians themselves admit that the contents of the tables of the decalogue are immutable, and that no man can hope for the salvation of his soul who repudiates the Ten Commandments. We shall have to return to this subject on reviewing some passages in Matthew 19. So much is certain, that the Christians are enjoined to follow the Ten Commandments, although they have arbitrarily altered the day appointed for the celebration of the Sabbath, and, although no sanction for so doing was given either by Jesus or his disciples; consequently, the Christians have no right to plead that the Ark of the covenant of the Lord, and the two tables with their contents, will ever be forgotten; nor are they justified in the assertion, that the law of Moses will be abrogated: and not be remembered any longer by Israel, since the scriptural passages cited by them do not afford any evidence in support of their argument, particularly as Malachi, the last of the prophets (chap. 4:4), gives the divine admonition, "Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded him on Horeb, enjoining it on all Israel with the statutes and judgments." This prophet clearly demonstrates that the divine law will certainly not be abolished at any future time; on the contrary, that the dignity of Israel and the dignity of Jerusalem will be augmented at a future day. Hence he alludes to those days when Israel shall have increased and multiplied in the Holy Land, and when the Gentile nations shall come to seek the Word of the Lord at Jerusalem. To this effect says Isaiah (chap. 2:2), "And all nations shall flow unto Him." Those nations shall not profanely ask after the divine covenant, and intrude into the resting-place of the Holy Ark, for they shall be too fully impressed with the sanctity of the house of God, where the throne of judgment will be re-established. The temple will then not be the exclusive locality to which the Gentiles shall flock, but "all Jerusalem will be a residence of divine knowledge," whither the Gentiles shall resort in order to call upon the name of the Lord, and to serve Him with one accord; and the sacred and godly duties of man will not be limited only to the precincts of the temple. See Joel 3:17, "And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall not pass through it." Here we learn that the holiness of Jerusalem will prevent aliens from entering it for the purpose of desecrating it. The unworthy among the Gentiles, and the unclean among Israel, will in like manner be kept away through awe of the Holy City; but the city of the Lord shall spread its conversion and enlightening influence to the remotest distance. The Gentiles, following the wholesome ministration of the chosen race, will be deemed servants of the Lord like the children of Israel. The prophet, therefore, says, "And many nations will join the Lord and shall be my people." In chapter 56:6, 7, Isaiah predicts, "Also the sons of the strangers that join themselves to the Lord to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants: every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant, even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people."
This shows that, at the time of the Advent of the Messiah, all nations will pay homage to the holiness of the land of Israel, and the entire land of Palestine will assume the sacredness of the city of Jerusalem; and the city of Jerusalem will again partake of the sanctity of the Divine Temple.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.7]
Jeremiah 14:8, "Hope of Israel, the Saviour in the time of trouble, why shouldst thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for the night?" I was once asked by a Christian the meaning of the expression, "Hope of Israel, the Saviour in the time of trouble." I replied, the prophet here addressed the Almighty, as in chapter 17:13, "O Lord, the Hope of Israel, all who forsake thee shall be ashamed." The same Deity is the Saviour of Israel in the time of trouble, and there is no other Saviour besides Him. See also Hosea, chapter 13:4, "And there is no Saviour besides me." My interrogator said thereupon, You ought to bear in mind that the prophet, speaking about this Saviour, says, "Why shouldst thou be as a stranger and as a wayfaring man, that turneth aside to tarry for the night? Does not this prove to you, by means of those prophetic words, that the saving Divine Being would dwell like a stranger on earth, as our Saviour Jesus actually did? why then do you withhold from him your belief after the prophet gives his testimony about him?" I replied to this, "You Christians are accustomed to establish your objections to our faith, and the evidences of your faith, on detached biblical passages, without regard to the leading idea, and with the preceding and subsequent words of the text, nor do you make unbiassed comparisons with the parallel sayings of other prophets; for your object is not to expose absolute truth, but to confirm, by means of subtleties and specious reasonings, your preconceived notions."
The true object of Jeremiah will be found on the perusal of the adjoining passages. Jeremiah having a prescience of the famine which was about to take place in the Holy Land (see the commencement of chap. 14), when he saw that the severity of the dearth would exceed all bounds, and the consternation of Jerusalem would put up a cry to heaven; when he noticed that the calamity would be so universal that the very brutes of the field would suffer under its scourge, he made the confession recorded in the words, (ver. 7) "If our iniquities bear witness against us, Lord, then deal with us according to Thy name." By this he declared, that the trouble had not come upon our people by way of chance, but as a consequence of our misdeeds; for the famine did not prevail anywhere else except in the Land of Israel; therefore, he implored of the Almighty to grant relief for the sake of His Holy Name: that is to say, God, as proclaimed in His supreme unity by our nation, is on that account called "the God of Israel," whilst we are denominated "His people and the flock of His pasture." When He chastises us, He acts in accordance with justice, since our derelictions are numerous, and since we so frequently strayed in the pursuit of idolatry, the perpetration of violence, and in listening to false prophets. Jeremiah having thus made confession of our sins, exclaims, by way of entreaty, "Thou Hope of Israel, and its Saviour in the time of trouble!" The prophet hereby implies, that, although they have departed from Thy paths, they (the Israelites) still hope that Thou wilt save them from the present distress, and as Thou hast delivered them in every generation, so wilt Thou also now have mercy on them, and not suffer them to be consumed by famine. Then the prophet continues, "Why wilt Thou be like a stranger and like a traveller who has turned aside to pass the night." By this we have to understand, "That Thou, O Lord, wilt hide Thy face from us and have no compassion on us, it will appear as if Thou wert not the Lord of the Earth, but as if thou wert a stranger in a foreign country, without power therein to afford relief from trouble." In a similar manner said Moses (Numbers 14:15, 16), "And if Thou wilt kill all the people like one man, then the nations who have heard Thy fame will say. Because the Lord had not the power to bring this people," etc. So prays also the Psalmist, "Arise, why wilt Thou sleep; O Lord, awake, why wilt Thou abandon us for ever"; or, in other words, Permit it not to appear as if Thou wert unmindful of our misery and of our affliction. In fact, all the prophets address the Almighty in an anthropomorphical manner, in order to convey their ideas more intelligibly to their audience.
The reason that Jeremiah compares the Almighty with a stranger is threefold. 1st. A sojourner in a foreign land, one passing merely through a foreign city, is unable to rescue the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor, or the poor and the needy from the hand of the depredator. For though such strangers or travellers be of high rank, their authority is too inconsiderable, when in a foreign land, to afford any assistance to those around them. Thus the Sodomites said about Lot: "This one man came to live here as a stranger, and now he will be even a judge." 2ndly. Though a man be a native or an established settler, he may be unable to give assistance in times of trouble, being deprived of the requisite influence and presence of mind. Bewildered about his own safety, he is utterly incapacitated to extricate others from their unfortunate state. 3rdly. Even he can only grapple with those who are inferior in valour and strength, but when met with a superior force he most either desist or submit. Hence the prophet says, "Why wilt thou be like a mighty man who is unable to save."
In order, however, at the same time, to teach that such a condition is totally incompatible with the divine nature of the Almighty, and to show that the Almighty is really the God of the heavens and of the earth, and at the same time dwells among us, the prophet, by the addition, "But Thou art among us," refutes the imputation that the God of Israel is a stranger, and rather proves that He is established where we sojourn, and that we are the strangers and not He; that we have, therefore, the best founded expectation that He will save us. The same declaration, "Thou art in the midst of us," stands in just opposition to the question, "Why wilt thou be like a bewildered man?" The prophet suggests that the Almighty, far from being perplexed by the suddenness of terrific occurrences, rather manifests himself as an incomparable and omnipotent deliverer. In like manner we see in the words, "And Thou art among us," a repudiation of the idea that "Thou art like a strong man who cannot deliver," when resisted by a superior force; for the prophet now acknowledges, "And Thy name is called upon us, for Thou hast long been adored by us as the God of Israel. Thou hast brought us out from the land of Egypt with a strong hand, and an outstretched arm."
The very words of the Decalogue connect the divine unity with the deliverance from Egypt, since it is said, "I am the Lord thy God who hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt." It is a notorious fact, that Scripture in various places points out the condescension of God, who allied His name with Israel, by saving them from various troubles. See, for instance, Leviticus 22:33, "Who hath brought you out of Egypt, in order to be unto you a God." When the subjects of King Hezekiah were rescued from the hand of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, the Almighty was also acknowledged as God of Israel. See 2 Kings 19:20, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Since thou hast prayed unto me concerning Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, I have heard thee." The prayer here alluded to was received favourably, because it expressed unconditional submission to the all-powerful Being who alone rules the destinies of His creatures. Further views of the faith of Israel in the salvation by the Lord, may be obtained from Deuteronomy 3:24, where we read, "For who is a God in heaven or in the earth, who could perform anything like unto Thy deeds and Thy mighty works?" Isaiah says, (chap. 45:15) "Truly Thou art an invisible God, the God of Israel and its Saviour." Jeremiah (chap. 3) says "Verily in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel; our trust, our reliance is therefore in Thee, and Thou wilt neither abandon nor forsake us." Thus we understand the quotation from Jeremiah, which is placed at the heading of this chapter, and which is totally misapplied when referred to on account of his having been a stranger on earth.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.8]
Jeremiah 17:4, "And I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not; for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever."
Christian expositors have explained this verse by the assertion that Jeremiah here predicted an everlasting captivity, from which no redemption is to be hoped.
Refutation.The Hebrew words עד עולם occur in Scripture in three significations. First, in application to an existence unlimited by time. Thus, we have in 2 Samuel 7:26, "That Thy name may be magnified for ever, by saying The Lord of Hosts is the God of Israel." In 1 Chronicles 17:24, we also find, "In order that Thy name may be magnified for ever, by saying, The Lord of Hosts is the God of Israel." The second meaning of עד עולם for ever, relates to man's , limited existence on earth, (see 1st Samuel 1:22), "That he may sit here for ever." And 2nd Samuel 12:10, David is thus forewarned, "The sword shall never depart from thy house." The word never merely relates to David's lifetime. ln the third place, the Hebrew expression עד עולם stands distinct from the forenamed two meanings, and relates to a period finite in the prescience of the Almighty, but unlimited according to the knowledge of men. See Isaiah 32:14, "Because the palaces shall be forsaken, the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks." The limitation of the words for ever is shewn in the verse immediately following, "Until the spirit be poured down upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field," etc. The destruction decreed to last for ever will, nevertheless, give way to restoration as soon as the spirit, that is to say the favour of the Lord, shall descend on us. The term it shall burn for ever, refers to the third signification; but it cannot mean the infinitude of eternity as some Christians would have us believe, because all the prophets have predicted a complete restoration to the whole house of Israel. What can be more explicit than the following passages:Isaiah, in chapter 66:20, says, "And they (the Gentiles) shall bring all your brethren a gift from all nations as a gift unto the Lord, on horses and in chariots," etc. Jeremiah 30:8, says, "Strangers shall no more enslave them (the Israelites)." Ezekiel 39:28, 29, says, "And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, since I have caused them to be exiled among the Gentiles; and I will gather them into their land, and I will not suffer any of them to remain behind, and I will no more hide my countenance from them, as I have poured out my spirit over all the house of Israel, saith the Lord God." Such well defined promises admit of no contradiction, or they have all proceeded from the same divine source.
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