"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
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.8]
Jeremiah 18:7, "In an instant I shall speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to pull down and to destroy it."
From this and the ensuing verses, Christians have concluded that the Jews vainly expect the fulfillment of those promises which refer to a prosperous futurity. They tell us (Jews), your hopes must be disappointed. Sinfully you have acted, yea sinfully in the sight of the Lord, for all the promises of the prophet, whether for good or for evil, are given conditionally. The Almighty ordains a propitious future for a people or for an individual; and if the people or the individual, by evil acts, become unworthy of such a benefit, it is withheld, and the Almighty substitutes evil for the intended good; and when the people or the individual again repent and improve, the imminent punishment is withdrawn, a favour is bestowed instead, as has been exemplified by the history of Jonah in Nineveh. The Christians interpret, therefore, the above passage from Jeremiah thus"At one instant I decree the destruction of a people or of a kingdom, etc. When, however, the people or the kingdom amend their conduct, I withhold the threatened calamity. At another instant I resolve to deal out benefits. When, however, the people offend me, and act disobediently, I recall my decrees of grace." To this the Christians add the following imputation:The Almighty has, time after time, released Israel from the tyranny of their enemies. Admonition after admonition He sent to them through His prophets to induce them not to follow the instigations of a corrupt heart, and He imposed on them the duty of obeying His commandments and statutes. The Israelites, however, whenever they felt the soothing help of the Lord, hardened their hearts again, and neglected the biddings of the Almighty. This has induced Him to abhor them and to reject them altogether. And He will never again favour them. See 2 Kings 17:20, "And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers until He had cast them out of His sight."
Thus says also Jeremiah (15:1), "And the Lord said unto me, If even Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my mind would not be towards this people; cast them out of my sight and let them go forth."
Refutation.It is a false accusation to allege, that we Jews expect the fulfillment of the divine promises so long as we persevere in evil doings, and commit sins like depraved men, and still expect a reward as if we were true and zealous servants of God. Far be from us any such presumption. But we do profess with an unshaken confidence that we shall one day cling to the Lord with an undivided heart, and that the Almighty will receive us in mercy, subdue our misdeeds, and then bring to pass all the glorious predictions given by the prophets. We rely on the words pronounced in Deuteronomy 4:30, "When thou shalt be in trouble, and when all these things shall have befallen thee, in the latter days thou shalt return to the Lord thy God and hearken to His voice; for the Lord thy God is a merciful God, He will not suffer thee to be weakened, nor will He destroy thee, nor will He forget the covenant with thy fathers which He swore unto them." We may also advert to chapter 30:1-8, of the same book, "And it shall come to pass, when all these things shall have come upon thee, the blessing and the curse which I have set before thee, and when thou shalt have taken it to heart among all the nations among which the Lord thy God shall have banished thee, that thou shalt return with all thine heart and with all thy soul to the Lord thy God, and obey His voice according to all that I command unto thee this day, thou and thy sons. And the Lord thy God shall bring back thy captivity, and gather thee from among all the people whither the Lord thy God shall have scattered thee. Even if thine outcasts be at the end of the heavens; even from thence shall the Lord thy God gather thee, and even from thence shall He take thee, and the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land which thy fathers inherited; and thou shalt inherit it, and He shall do good unto thee, and He shall make thee more numerous than thy ancestors. And the Lord thy God shall 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 life. And the Lord thy God shall bring all these imprecations upon thine enemies, etc., when thou shalt return to the Lord thy God." The prophets have also announced the constancy of our future adherence to the Lord, and have made the fulfillment of the good promised dependent on our full repentance. See Isaiah 44:22, "I have blotted out thine iniquities like a thick cloud, and thy sins like a cloud; return unto me, for I have redeemed thee." Also Jeremiah (3:14) says, "Return unto me, ye backsliding children, saith the Lord, for I am married unto you, and I will take you one from a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you into Zion." See also Ezekiel 33:11, "Say unto them. As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, house of Israel?" In like manner, says Hosea (14:1, 2), "Turn, Israel, unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast stumbled through thine iniquity. Take with yourselves words, and turn unto the Lord, and say unto Him: Thou who forgivest every iniquity, receive us graciously, and we will render the calves of our lips" (i. e. thanksgivings). Zechariah, in chapter 1:3, says, "And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts: Return ye unto me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts."
To the same effect, says Malachi 3:7, "Since the days of your fathers ye have departed from my statutes, and ye have not observed them: return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts." Similar passages abound among the prophets, which tend to prove that repentance is the fundamental condition on which all our hopes hinge, for no human being escapes the commission of sin. See Ecclesiastes 7:20, "For there is no righteous man in the earth who doeth good and sinneth not." Therefore our All-gracious Ruler has taught us the means of repentance, and the ways to avoid the snares of depravity. David had committed many transgressions, and subjected himself with sincere submission to the divine chastisements: his sins were, therefore, forgiven him, and his good works were accepted in favour of him and his posterity. See Isaiah 37:35, "And I shall protect this city to save it for my sake, and for the sake of my servant David." King Manasseh affords another instance of pardon having been obtained through sincere repentance, although he had exceeded his predecessors in the indulgence of an iniquitous conduct; yet the Lord was pleased with his contrition, and reinstated him on his throne. Consequently we thus interpret the passage, "At an instant I shall speak," etc. The reparation of Israel's conduct is the only condition of their escape from the infliction of condign punishments; therefore the prophet continues the divine message in the following manner: "Now go to, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord, behold I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you; return ye now every one from his evil way, and correct your ways and your doings." Nor are we disposed to imagine that we should suffer less for our sins than our forefathers did for theirs. On the contrary, we are admonished to be equally vigilant as our ancestors in the avoidance of sin; and when our frail human nature betrays us into sinful acts, it becomes our imperative duty to resort to sincere repentance, for only then the Lord receives us and casteth our sins into the abyss of oblivion. See Ezekiel 18:21, "But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he has committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him; in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live."
We may mention here, also, that the many divine predictions and promises which are of a cheering character have been given in the unconditional and irrevocable form of an oath; for instance, Ibid 36:7-12, "Thus saith the Lord God, I have lifted up mine hand, (which is the symbol of an oath) that the Heathens that are around you shall surely bear their shame. But ye, O, mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people of Israel, for they are at hand to come. For behold I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and you shall be tilled and sown. And I will multiply men among you, O, all ye house of Israel, even all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded, and I will multiply among you men and cattle, and they shall increase and bring fruit, and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings, and ye shall know that I am the Lord; yea, I will cause men to walk among you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more bereave them of men."
Thus the Almighty communicates to us in Ezekiel's prophecy, that he will prosperously re-establish the Holy Land in its primitive condition, and even enlarge His bounty upon it, so that it shall no longer consume Israel, its inhabitants.
The disputant cannot raise an objection and maintain that the prophecy of restoration is merely given conditionally, for there an oath is expressed, lifting of the hand, which does not admit of any condition whatever. See Deuteronomy 32:40, where we read, "For I lift up my hand unto the heavens, and I say, As true as I live for ever." Nor can it be asserted that this assurance merely relates to Israel's exit from Babylon, for at that period the Lord did not raise Israel to its pristine state, and then the whole of Israel did not return to their land; the ten tribes of Israel were omitted, and no more than 42,360 men of the tribe of Judah and Benjamin actually came back. Neither was Israel at that time spared from affliction, as it will be at the future redemption, which is clearly demonstrated by the contents of the above prophecy, and other passages, (see Ezekiel 36:22-28). In fact, the whole concluding part of the chapter speaks in an unconditional tone. And this is quite natural; for where the Almighty has given predictions relating to the glory of His name, and not that of our name, no conditional language could be applied. We have, in other similar passages decided and unconditional assurances (see, for instance, Isaiah 54:9, 10), "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters 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." Thus we find, ibid chapter 62:8, 9, "The Lord hath sworn by His right hand, and by the arm of His strength: Surely, I will no more give thy corn to be food for thine enemies, and the sons of the strangers shall no more drink thy wine for which thou hast laboured. But those that gather it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness." See also Jeremiah 31:35-37, "Thus saith the Lord, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon, and of the stars as a light by night, who divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar: The Lord of Hosts is His name. If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the Lord, If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord." When our opponent takes into consideration all these passages, how can he maintain that the Almighty has cast off and disowned Israel, and will no more vouchsafe to His people a redemption from this captivity? Surely the restoration will at last take place; then His anger will no more visit us, then His loving-kindness and His covenant of peace will no more be drawn from us, then He will no more cast us away, and no more deprive us of establishment as a nation. Our past sins will then no longer be remembered, but He will graciously pardon all our former errors and transgressions. For Jeremiah has, in the above prophecy, expressly announced in the name of the Lord, "I will pardon their sins, and remember their iniquity no more." Neither can the argument be founded on the words occurring in 2 Kings 17:20, "And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and He gave them into the hands of spoilers, until He cast them out of His sight." This rejection and casting away is only a temporary punishment limited to the period of the captivity, but is not final and perpetual; consequently it is not a dissolution of the ancient covenant. See, on this, Leviticus 26:44, "And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies I will not cast them away, nor will I abhor them to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God." The periods for their removal are fixed by the Almighty, and only known to Him, who, by means of frequent chastisements, desires to remove from them all that is unbecoming and objectionable. See Isaiah 1:25, 26, "And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge thy dross, and remove all the base metal; and I will restore thy judges as at first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning; afterwards thou shalt be called the City of Righteousness, the faithful city." Similar to this prophecy are the words of Ezekiel 22:15, "And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse them in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee." All this tends to prove the object of our exile as solely to purify us, to rid us of inherent imperfections, and to free us from the pollution of our sins. Hence the prophet, with a view to our ultimate purification, says, in Lamentations 4:22, "Thy iniquity, daughter of Zion, is ended; He shall no more cause thee to be a captive." Now, we will show that no argument can be established against us, from the words of Jeremiah 15:1, "And the Lord said unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind would not be toward this people; cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth."
These words were addressed to Jeremiah after the Lord had charged him thrice not to intercede on behalf of Judah and Benjamin, that they might be led into captivity like the other ten tribes. For the Lord had said to Jeremiah, chapter 7:15, 16, "And I will cast you out of my sight as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim: therefore, pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them, neither make intercession to me, for I will not hear thee." Now the Lord explained to him the reason why He would not listen to his intercessions, and he says (in verse 17, 18), "Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven, and pour out drink offerings unto other gods that they may provoke me to anger." In the same book, chapter 11:11, He says, "Therefore, thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, from which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me I will not hearken unto them." Also here the reason is pointed out why the Almighty would refuse to grant his prayer (ibid ver. 13), we find, "For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, Judah," etc. And in the same chapter we have a second warning of the Almighty that Jeremiah should not intercede (ibid. ver. 14), "Therefore, pray not for this people, nor offer up a cry or supplication for them, for I will not hearken in the time that they cry unto me in their trouble." For how could the Almighty be favourable to a petition for mercy while they continued in the sin which caused the infliction: nor could impenitent sinners find grace with Him. Hence the words, ibid., "And they shall cry unto me, but I will not hear them." The imminent evil relates to sword, pestilence, and famine. See chapter 14:15, "For through the sword, pestilence, and famine, I destroy them." When, therefore, Jeremiah perceived that the prayer for the house of Judah was in vain, he prayed (14:7), "O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for thy name's sake." The prophet then concludes with the words, "We are called by Thy name; therefore, forsake us not." Upon this follows the reply of the Almighty: "Thus saith the Lord unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, wherefore the Lord doth not accept them; He will now remember their iniquity and visit their sins." Hereby is meantSince the Jews have mistrusted me, and have preferred to seek their protection among the Egyptians and the Assyrians, in order to escape the danger of adversaries, and since the Jews have not refrained from following profitless objects, I will remove them and render them the captives of their enemies. But, before I shall lead them into exile, I will remember their iniquity by famine, and visit their sin by the sword and by pestilence.
After having acquainted the prophet that his people had no hope of deliverance from the evils decreed upon them, the third injunction was given to Jeremiah not to offer up a supplication for the deliverance of the people (see ibid. chap. 14:11, 12), "Then said the Lord unto me. Pray not for this people for their good; when they fast I will not hear their cry, and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them, but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence." Here again, allusion is solely made to their prayers coming from an impenitent heart, and offered up during their perseverance in wickedness.
The present passage reminds us of the one in Isaiah 1:15, 16, "And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers I will not hear; your hands are full of blood; make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil." The verses we have quoted demonstrate that favourable reception of prayers is only denied so long as those evil deeds continue which bring the punishment to pass, but the supplications meet with grace when the supplicant renounces his sinful conduct. The pious prophet Jeremiah seeing, then, that his influence was insufficient among the unfortunate transgressors, appealed once more to the Almighty not to reject them and not to abhor them, for the sake of His holy name, since the Lord had been acknowledged on earth as the God of Israel. He prayed also to the Almighty not to suffer Jerusalem, known as the seat of the glory of the Lord, to be reviled; moreover, not to break His covenant made with the Israelites when he brought them out of Egypt. Hence, he says in Jeremiah, 14:21, "Do not abhor us for Thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of Thy glory; remember us, and break not Thy covenant with us." Thereupon the Lord replies, that the prayer of Jeremiah would not avail to rescue the Israelites from the calamities of the evil ordained for them on account of their iniquities; and even if Moses and Samuel, who were superior prophets, were to raise their voice in the behalf of the transgressors, to avert the punishment of the sword, pestilence, and famine, their prayer will not avail. To this Divine resolve these words refer"Cast them out of my sight (presence), and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee. Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the Lord: Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity." So that all instigators to sin will meet with the fatal sentence assigned for them, while those who have been betrayed into sin will have to go into captivity, and save nothing but their lives. For the Lord desireth not to exterminate them altogether. See Jeremiah 5:18, "And even in those days I will not make an end of you." Nor were the prayers of Moses of any avail when the Israelites first sinned in worshipping the golden calf, nor on their giving way to the insinuations of the spies sent from the desert to search the Land of Promise; also when the instigators of sin were punished with death, and the survivors who had yielded to the bad example were visited with the merited punishment. The intercession on behalf of the transgressors would have proved fruitless unless the instigators had been first removed by sword, pestilence, and famine. But as soon as the necessary chastisement would be inflicted, and the remaining sinners would have expiated their sins by the miseries attending the exile, He will graciously receive them at the epoch of the restoration, and although they should not then be purified entirely from their sins, He will have compassion on them for the sake of His name, as is said in 1 Samuel 12:22, "For the Lord will not forsake His people on account of His great name, since the Lord has vouchsafed to make you His people." The same is said in Isaiah 48:9-11, "For my name's sake I will defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. Behold I refine thee, but not with silver. I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it, for why should my name be polluted, and I will not give my glory unto another." The re-establishment of the Holy City is an inducement to exalt us as His own people. See Isaiah 62:1, "For Zion's sake, I will not delay, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness shall go forth like a bright light, and her salvation like a brilliant flame." Nor will the Almighty ever be unmindful of the covenant made with our ancestors. See Leviticus 26:44, "And even in the land of their enemies I will not reject them, nor rebuke them to consume them, and to destroy my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God." This promise was subsequently repeated in the prophecy of Ezekiel 16:60, "And I will remember my covenant made with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant." Again, ibid. verse 62, 63, "And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord, in order that thou mayest remember me, and feel shame; but thou shalt open thy mouth no more on account of any degradation of thine, while I shall forgive thee for all thou hast done, saith the Lord." This last quotation clearly shews, that, although we have rebelled in the eyes of the Lord, he, nevertheless, will grant us forgiveness for His own sake, and for the sake of His covenant.
The promised favour will not be withheld from us, and we shall have passed through all our ordeals; we shall, at the appointed time, be planted again on our soil enjoying the perfect favour of the Almighty, and He will fulfil the promise given in Jeremiah 32:41, "And I shall rejoice over them to do good unto them, and I will in truth plant them in their land, with all my heart and with all my soul." We have thus had an opportunity to demonstrate that the threatened evils will finally be counterbalanced and replaced by benefits.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.9]
Jeremiah 31:15, "Thus saith the Lord, A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel is weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted on account of her children, because they are not to be found."
The Christians adduce this passage as a prophecy relating to their creed, and as if Jeremiah had here predicted the slaying of the children in Bethlehem, decreed by King Herod. For that king is said to have learnt that in Bethlehem of Judah a child had been born that was intended to be in future a king of the Jews, and as he could not ascertain who the future pretender was and where to be found, he ordered all the children under the age of two years, in and about Bethlehem, to be massacred. To this event the words quoted above refer, as the reader will find by examining Matthew 2.
Refutation.We have, on a former occasion, shown that the Christians support the doctrine of their religion by sentences dissevered from their contexts and connection, without regard to the concurrence of the entire paragraph from which their quotations are taken. If, according to their suppositions, Rachel, was weeping for the ruthless slaughter committed among the children of Bethlehem Judah, the question arises, why was not Leah represented as the grieving mother, since it was from her that those victims of the tyranny of Herod were descended? Another question arises: what connection has the bereavement there spoken of with the consoling promises given by the Lord? (Jer 31:16, 17), "And they shall return from the land of their enemy, and the children shall return to the boundary." The following explanation of the passage will, however, produce conviction:The prophet speaks here allegorically. The children alluded to here are the ten tribes in exile. These ten tribes are comprised under the designation of Ephraim (the tribe descended from Rachel); therefore she is weeping for her children who are banished from their country by the kings of Assyria. The ten tribes were called Ephraim, because their first king, after their defection from the king of Judah, was Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, from the tribe of Ephraim. This is confirmed by the prediction in Jeremiah 7:15, "And I shall cast you away from my presence, as I have cast away all your brethren, the whole seed of Ephraim."
The last Hebrew word in the verse cited in the beginning of this chapter (Jer 31:15), is ) איננו which, in reality, does not mean they are not (to be found); but he (or it is not to be found), because the singular relates here to the word עם (people), which is implied; for when the tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned from the Babylonian captivity, the ten tribes did not return with them, nor was the place of their settlement fully known; for this reason the whole number of the missing children (or people) is expressed in the singular. Alluding to the restoration of the whole people in the days of the Messiah, the prophet Jeremiah continues, in the name of God (ibid. 31:16, 17), "Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears, for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord. And they shall come again from the land of their enemies. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border." These verses, which are all connected with one another, give the most intelligible proof that the prophet did not allude to the death of the children of his people, but to their dispersion. By this interpretation we can make sense of the 18th verse of the same chapter, "I have heard Ephraim lonely bemoaning himself thus: Thou hast chastised me, yea, I was chastised as a young bullock untrained to the yoke." Again, ibid. verse 20, "Is Ephraim my dear son, is he my darling child"? And again, ibid. verse 21, "Set thee up waymarks, make unto thee high heaps, set thine heart towards the highway, even the way towards which thou wentest; turn again, O Virgin of Israel, turn again towards thy cities." These words refer to the return of the captives of Israel. The ultimate and complete return of the tribes of Israel was also predicted by Ezekiel 37:19, "Thus saith the Lord God, I will take the stick of Joseph which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand." This chapter points out the gathering of the ten tribes, and their re-union with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, as also their subordination under one king in the days of the Messiah.
We have already, in a former part of this work, noticed that the restoration of the ten tribes was not intended to happen at the return from the captivity of Babylon, and that altogether only 42,000 went back to the Holy Land.
Certain Christians have asserted that the name of Israel, mentioned in particular parts of Scripture which relate to the restoration, is restricted to the ten tribes; but this is not true, for it is written, that Israel shall be remembered by the tribe of Judah. See chapter 30:18, "And I shall bring back the captivity of Jacob's tents"; and in the same book, chapter 23:6, we find, "In his days shall Judah be saved and Israel shall dwell in safety." Amos 2, speaks first of the three transgressions of Israel, and then of those of Judah, meaning by those of Israel, the ten tribes. But when the name, Israel, alone occurs, it includes also the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, it being the collective name of the whole people.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.10.]
Jeremiah 31:31, "Behold the days come, and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." The Christians assert that the prophet Jeremiah here foretold the giving of a new law for the people of Israelviz., the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth.
Refutation.Scripture does not allude here to the substitution of a new law for the old one, but merely the making of a new covenant, a covenant independent of the law. Thus we find in the history of Phineas (Num 25:12), "Behold I give him my covenant of peace." The covenant thus made could not possibly mean the emission of a new law intended for Phineas alone. In Leviticus 26:42, we meet with a like mention of a covenant, "And I shall remember my covenant with Jacob, my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember," etc. From this mode of expression, nobody would venture to infer that the Almighty gave a special law to each of the patriarchs. Covenants also are made between man and man. Thus we find, in Genesis 21:32, "They two [Abraham and Abimelech] made a covenant with each other." Returning now to the true sense of the verse at the head of this chapter, we find that the Almighty has reserved for Israel the bestowal of a new covenant of protection when they shall be restored to their land, a covenant which, unlike the former one, will never be dissolved. On that account the prophecy continues (in Jeremiah 31:31 and following verses), that the future covenant will not be according "to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which covenant they broke," etc. After this introduction, the prophet proceeds, "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people." These quotations suffice to show, that the Almighty had not intended to issue a new law, but to impress His ancient divine law on their hearts, that it never should be forgotten throughout all time. The reader, on referring to chapter 19, will find that we demonstrated there the perpetuity of the divine law as it was given on Sinai; consequently the promulgation of a new law supplanting the former cannot possibly take place.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.11.]
Hosea 2:11, "And I will cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her Sabbaths, and all her solemn festivals." From this passage the Christians argued, that, on the coming of Jesus Christ, the dispensation of the laws for keeping Sabbaths, new moons, and festivals, was revoked, and the Lord found no more any pleasure in Israel's observance of those days; as was declared in Isaiah 1:14, "Your new moons and your appointed seasons my soul hateth."
Refutation.The prophet here merely announces that during the severe adversities resulting from the exile, the rejoicing formerly attendant on the festive seasons, will cease, and affliction come in its stead. This may be seen on referring to the accompanying verses, and is confirmed by the subsequent events. After the desolation of the temple, when the Israelites were prevented from the due observance of their religion, the obligation of the Sabbath and the enjoyments of the festivals were forgotten. See Lamentations 2:6, "The Lord has caused the solemn days and the Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion," which took place because "He hath increased to the daughter of Judah, mourning and lamentation." Had it been the intention of the prophets Isaiah and Hosea to predict the cessation of the Sabbaths and festivals, how could they and later prophets so emphatically urge the strict observance of these solemn days? See for instance, Isaiah 56: Nor does it follow from the expression, "Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hateth," that the Almighty was weary of the sacred observances, and desired to have them abrogated; but it is obvious, that the evil-doers of that period assembled at the sanctuary for idolatrous purposes. Their celebration of the Sabbaths and festivals could not be acceptable while they worshiped idols, and not the true Divine Being, as appears from the context of the first chapter of Isaiah. Were the Christian interpretation true, that the abolition of the sacred days is expressed in the first chapter of Isaiah why then, does the very same book conclude with the following prophecy which is to be fulfilled at the coming of the Messiah? "And it shall come to pass that from one Sabbath to another, and from one new moon to another, all flesh shall come to bow down before Me, saith the Lord." In like manner, Zechariah prophesied in the last chapter of his book, verse 16, "And it shall come to pass, that every one who is left of all the nations which came up 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." This shows that the festivals are to continue even at the time of the Messiah, when not only the Jews, but also the Gentiles then in existence, will solemnly observe the days of Holy Convocation. We have, moreover, to refer the reader to the nineteenth chapter of this work, where we remarked that even Jesus and his disciples held the Sabbath holy, and that, only several centuries after his death, a pope ordered the first day of the week instead of the seventh to be kept as the day of rest. Thus we prove that this innovation runs counter to the very doctrines inculcated by Jesus.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.12.]
Amos 2:6, "Thus saith the Lord, For three transgressions of Israel, and for four I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous and the poor for the value of a pair of shoes."
Some Christian writers have attributed this prophecy to the fate of Jesus, who was sold for thirty pieces of silver; and they have asserted that the fourth transgression being the sale of their righteous One will never be pardoned to Israel, and the consequence of this sin has been our present captivity.
Refutation.The interpretation betrays a want of due appreciation of the connecting sentences, and the parallel sayings by other prophets. The above verse means, that a casual concurrence of the three crimesidolatry, incest, and homicidewas not the primary cause of Israel's expulsion from the Holy Land, but the chief cause was the universal depravity that prevailed throughout the nation, of which the mercenary leaders of the people gave the iniquitous example. The prophet Amos says, therefore (5:12), "They persecute the just, they take a bribe, and oppress the poor in the gate." The word צדיק (righteous) used there has no reference to the man who leads a godly life, but only to the man whose cause is unimpeachable before the tribunal of justice, and in whose favour the sentence of the judges ought to be given. The word צדיק here is of the same signification as in Exodus 23:8, where it is said, that the bribe given to the judge, "perverteth the words of the righteous." The expression, "for they oppress the needy for a pair of shoes," means, that the judge, for the most insignificant bribe, turns the scale of justice, and deprives the poor hapless man of his right, by pronouncing in favour of the guilty who offers the bribe. The prophet also inveighs against rich sinners. Amos 8:4, "Hear this, ye who swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, saying, When will the new moon be gone that we may sell the corn, and the Sabbath that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances of deceit: that we may buy the poor for ourselves, and the needy for a pair of shoes, yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?" This passage is, in wording and sense, closely related to that of chapter 2, and both convey the idea of an iniquitous proceeding in buying and selling. We notice, in the above quotation, that the new moon was then more strictly observed, and ordinary pursuits were suspended, and, judging from the admonitions of the prophets, it would appear that they indulged in convivial and social entertainments. Compare with this 1 Samuel 20:5, beginning with "To-morrow is new moon," and the second book of Kings 4:23, "Why goest thou to-day to him [to the prophet], since it is neither new moon, nor Sabbath"; as the injustice described in the Book of Amos relates merely to the mercenary conduct of the superiors in legal decisions, and to the grovelling disposition of buyers and sellers in their several dealings, it must be deemed utterly futile to construe those words of Amos as alluding to the history of their Saviour. Besides, if the prophet had intended to make any allusion to Jesus, he ought to have ascribed the transgression to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who alone resided in the Holy Land in the days of Jesus, while the ten tribes were scattered among their enemies, and could take no part whatever in the proceedings against Jesus.
Nor can it be asserted that the expression, "And for the fourth transgression will not turn aside the punishment thereof," conveys the announcement, that Israel will never be pardoned for the sale of Jesus, for we find the very same mode of expression applied to the transgressions of Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, etc., who had no concern whatever in the sale of Jesus. When we read Scripture with proper attention we arrive at the very opposite conviction to the opinion of the Christians respecting our eternal condemnation. See, for instance, the following passages: Psalm 130:8 "And He will redeem Israel from all their sins." Jeremiah 33:8, "And I will cleanse them from all their iniquities which they committed against me, and I will pardon all their iniquities with which they sinned and rebelled against me." In the same book (chap. 50:20) we read, "In those days and at that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and not be seen; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; for I shall forgive all whom I shall cause to remain."
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.13.]
Amos 5:2. "The virgin of Israel is fallen: she shall no more rise; she is forsaken upon her land; there are none to raise her up." From this verse it has been argued, that the downfall of Israel is determined for ever, that our captivity will never terminate, and that we have no chance of redemption.
Refutation.It appears from other words of the same prophet that this prediction does not relate to the perpetual condemnation of Israel; for he says, at the close of his book (chap. 9:14, 15), "And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof, and they shall also make gardens and gather fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be rooted out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God." Since a contradiction in the prophetic promises cannot be admitted, the above passages can only be explained in the following manner. The prophet, after having related the evils which await Israel on account of their iniquitous conduct, reproaches them in chapter 4:6, of the same book, five successive times, "And ye have not returned unto me, saith the Lord."
He continues, in the same chapter 12, "Thus I will do unto thee, O Israel! and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel"! which implies penitence and good deeds; for then He will do good unto thee and change thy sufferings into happiness, for He is thy God who dispenses evil and good according to your doings. In order to represent Him to the mind as the universal Disposer of Events, the prophet goes on to say (ibid. 4:13), "For lo! He that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth His purposes unto man, that changes the morning into darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, the Lord, the God of Hosts, is His name." As Creator of the world He is cognizant of everything, He is the Maintainer and Supporter of all things, the most distant events He inspects clearly; and He, through His prophets, acquaints man with His designs. As He makes light and darkness alternate for the benefit of His creatures, He makes also the good and the evil to effect His will among the children of men. Thus He is to be worshiped under the name of God of Hosts as the God of the whole Universe. Thus He does, as Supreme Judge, dispose us to submit to His decrees; and although we may occasionally suffer in consequence of our errors and failings, we still feel that His protection extends over us in strict accordance with His goodness. This idea is conveyed by the whole tenor of the fourth chapter of the book of Amos, and forms an appropriate introduction to chapter 5 which begins thus, "Hear ye the word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel! The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise," etc. He speaks here of the virgin of Israel, and announces that the physical energies of the people are exhausted by the tyranny of strangers and by the loss of those sent into exile; their own kings and rulers had no longer power to effect the repentance required, and therefore a Divine intervention was necessary to accomplish their restoration. The prophet therefore, ibid. verse 3, brings the sad message,"For thus saith the Lord, The city that went out by a thousand shall leave a hundred, and that which went forth by a hundred shall leave ten to the house of Israel." According to the prophet, the calamities contingent on the fall of Israel would be fearful, for they would be cast down by the sword, or decimated by famine and pestilence, and only a small portion would be spared for the captivity. Against such national prostration the prophet points out the sole remedy, consisting in sincere repentance. The terrifying announcement of Israel's destruction is, therefore, entirely mitigated by the Divine counsel, Amos 5:4, "Thus saith the Lord unto Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live." It is well understood that the term to seek, means to become penitent. Isaiah, in 55:6, 7, uses a similar expression, "Seek ye the Lord, while he is yet to be found." He explains there his admonition by saying, "The wicked man shall leave his way, and the iniquitous man his thoughts, and return unto the Lord, and He will have compassion on him." This shows that the prophet Amos has not predicted the irretrievable ruin of Israel, but that it may hope to obtain, through penitence, its restoration and revival, as a nation.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.14.]
Micah 5:2, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto me a ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from everlasting." This verse has been designated by the Christians as confirming their faith; and they assert that the prophet meant to say that their Messiah would be born at Bethlehem, and they declare that it is impossible for Israel to expect that the Messiah will be born there, seeing that the city of Bethlehem has already been destroyed.
Refutation.For three reasons it is impossible to vindicate this prophecy in favour of Jesus, setting aside the numerous other unsubstantial arguments they allege to prove that he was the true Messiah. First,The above scriptural passage has no special allusion to him. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem does not entitle him to the claim of being the Messiah, for hundreds and thousands of children were born at Bethlehem, and that casualty did not constitute them Messiahs. Secondly,We read there, "From thee shall come forth unto me a ruler." Now, as to Jesus of Nazareth, he was by no means a ruler. On the contrary, the people ruled over him, as is evinced by the mode of his death. Thirdly,It is not said that Bethlehem would be the birth-place of the Messiah, for we find that the prophet adds there, "And his going forth shall be of olden times." But the sense of the verse is this: Thou Bethlehem, although one of the minor localities among the cities of Judah, from thee a man shall come forth (i. e., trace his descent back to thee), who shall be a ruler in Israel, and that same man will be the King Messiah who will be a descendant of David who came from Bethlehem. See 1 Samuel 17:12, where he is termed "The son of an Ephrathite from Bethlehem Judah." The words "since olden times," relate to the great space of time elapsed between the reign of David and the coming of the Messiah. We must also call the attention of the reader to the chapter preceding and the passages following the verse on which we are treating, and it will then be perceived that the whole prophecy is applied to the terrific convulsions predicted to happen at the epoch of the "latter days." In connection with this prophecy must be read the announcements of Ezekiel 38 and 39, and Zechariah 14: We must not be deterred from the adoption of this interpretation by the frequent recurrence in Amos 4 of the particle which, by its signification "And now," may be considered to indicate, that the subject of the prophecy is close at hand, for we frequently find the same עתה (now) is used merely to make an event present to the imagination, which event may, nevertheless, be exceedingly remote from its actual fulfillment.
See, for instance, Isaiah 43:19, "Behold I am doing a new thing, now it shall spring forth." This prophecy treated of an event to be fulfilled long after the time in which the prophet lived, ibid. 49:19: "For now thou [O land] art straightened, and without inhabitants, but those who swallow thee up are yet far away." See also Ezekiel 39:25, "Now I shall bring back the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon all the house of Israel." And ibid, 43:9, "Now they shall remove from me their lewdness and the carcasses of their kings." Thus we have also an allusion to the days of the Messiah in Micah 5:4, "For now he shall be magnified to the ends of the earth." In the same sense must be viewed the concluding words of chapter 4, "Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops, He hath laid siege against us. With a rod they shall smite the cheek, even Him who is the Judge of Israel." The last words are borne out by Zechariah 14:2, "And half of the city shall go into captivity." For then the judges and leaders of the people will be exposed to the most mortifying humiliation, in order to purify the remnant of Israel by the trials of persecution. See ibid. 13:9, "And I shall bring the third part into the fire, and I shall purify them as silver is purified, and try them as gold is tried, etc." Having now shown that the verse cited at the commencement of the chapter must be interpreted in connection with the preceding passages, we will discuss it in relation to the subsequent verses. We have in Micah 5:3, "Therefore, he will give them up until the time that she who travaileth has given birth." The meaning of this verse is, that Israel, compared with a woman in the pain of labour, shall suffer until the period of the delivery (i. e., redemption), and ultimately obtain the looked-for consolation. In like terms, says Jeremiah, in chapter 30:7, "And it is a time of trouble for Israel, and it shall be delivered therefrom." Thus says also Daniel in chapter 12:1, of his book, "And it shall be a time such as never had been since it became a nation, and at this time thy people shall be rescued." The words in Micah 5:3, "And the remnant of his brethren shall return with the children of Israel," mean the remnant of the brethren of the Messiahviz., the children of Judah and Benjamin who are scattered among the nations, shall return to their own land, together with the ten tribes of Israel. The word על in this verse has the same signification as עם meaning together with. In the same sense it occurs in Exodus 35:22, "And the men came together with the woman." This prophecy of Micah is identical with that given in Hosea 1:11, "And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall assemble together, and they shall make unto them a chief, and go up from the land." Returning again to Micah 5:4, we further read, "And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord," etc. This must naturally be attributed to the King Messiah, who will be endowed with extraordinary powers. Then "they shall abide," which means they shall then continue in the land in undisturbed peace. With this we compare chapter 4:4, "And every man shall abide under his vine tree, and under his fig tree, and none shall make him afraid," for the awe of the Messiah shall prevail throughout the whole earth. The following words in Micah 5:5, "And this shall be the time of peace, when Ashur (i. e, Assyria) shall come into our land," are equivalent to the words in Zechariah 9:13, "And he shall speak of peace to the nations." Ashur represents the enemy who brought terror into our country: such enemies shall, in the times of the Messiah, be utterly impotent. "We shall set up near him seven shepherds and eight principal men." The rendering of עליו "by or near him," is justified by the occurrence of the same Hebrew word in that verse in Numbers 2:20, "And near him, or together with him, in the tribe of Manasseh."
The words shepherds and principal men (or princes of men) relate to the leaders who will be appointed by the King Messiah. The numbers seven and eight must be taken as indefinite signs of number, meaning only many, as we find in Ecclesiastes, "Give a portion unto seven and also unto eight." The word shepherds (i. e., pastors) is synonymous with principal men (or, literally, princes of men), and means therefore overseers of the people. Micah, chapter 5:5, 6, continues, "And they shall lay waste the land of Ashur with the sword."
The word ורעו (and they lay waste) occurs in the same sense in Jeremiah 11:16, "And they shall break his branches"; and ibid. 2:16, "And they shall break the crown of thy head." Micah then speaks of the land of Nimrod, which was Babel, as is clear from Genesis 10:10, "And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel." Thus the Messiah shall deliver us from the Assyrians when they come into our land, and when they break in upon our borders. The King Messiah will rescue us from the power of arbitrary tyrants, so that we shall no more be molested by invading enemies. Ashur and Babel are selected by Micah as examples of Israel's enemies, because those two powers destroyed the Holy Land. The prophet then gives the consolation, Micah 5:7, "And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many nations as dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the Son of Man." This verse means that those who escape the tyranny of the enemies shall be placed under the special protection of the Almighty, and no human power shall prevail against the remnant of Israel. As the descent of dew is beyond human influence, so Israel shall be beyond the reach of human influence. The prophet then introduces a second comparison and says, "And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people, as a lion among the beasts of the forest." Israel is thereby compared with the most powerful creature unto which all other animals are inferior, and therefore he resumes, Micah 5:9, "Thine hand shall be exalted above thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off." This prophecy is in connection with the following: Micah 5:10, "And I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots, and I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds." For at that period Israel will attain a supremacy which will render war needless, and all hostile preparation will be superseded by universal peace. Hence Zechariah says, chapter 2:4, "And Jerusalem shall be inhabited as a town without walls."
The whole tendency of the prophecies we have now treated on, shows evidently that unfulfilled events are spoken of relating to the time of our Messiah when we shall be gathered together to the Holy Land, and when, after the overthrow of the opposing powers, universal peace shall reign on earth. No man can argue that those promises were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth, or his disciples. For the founders of the Christian religion passed their lives in unmitigated trouble, nor can it be asserted that an allusion to the Eternal God is implied by, "And his coming forth is from ancient time from the days of old." We cannot possibly attribute to the Infinite Being a "coming forth"; moreover, we shall have occasion to show, from our refutation of the Gospels, the total impropriety of giving Jesus the title of God, and from what we have advanced hitherto, it is quite evident that Jesus was just as far from being a Messiah, as he was from being a Divinity.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.15.]
Haggai 2:9, "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts, and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts." Christians have raised the question, In what did the glory of the latter house consist, seeing that the Jews, during the time of the first temple, were independent, and during that of the second temple they were vassals of the Persians, Syrians, and Romans, the last of whom ultimately destroyed the temple and banished the Jews. They therefore interpret it to signify that the existence of Jesus, during the time of the second temple, constituted its glory.
Refutation.The word כבוד (glory) has two significations. In the first place, it means worldly distinction and opulence. In this meaning, we find it in Genesis 31:1: "And from what belongeth unto our father, he has gotten all this הכבוד (wealth)." The same is meant in Proverbs 3:16, "In his left hand are riches and glory." In the second sense, כבוד means the real or spiritual distinction. For instance, in 1 Samuel 4:21, we have "the glory hath departed from Israel." See also Psalm 85:9, "That glory may dwell in our land"; and Zechariah 2:5, "And for glory I shall be in the midst of her." Some commentators have assumed this second sense to the passage under consideration, and they say that the superior glory of the second temple consisted in the entire absence of idolatry; some have said that the word כבוד relates to the first or fictitious kind of glory, because Herod is said to have decorated the temple in the most gorgeous style. But such an interpretation is set aside by the fulfillment of Haggai's prophecy (2:9), "And in that place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts." For during the existence of the second temple no peace reigned in the land; but according to Daniel, "the street and the entrenchment were to be built amidst the troubles of the times." Much less can it be said that the glory of the temple was reserved for the days of Herod, for from his house contention never departed, and after his death sufferings never ceased with the Jews, until their final over-throw. Nor can we admit that the glory of the second temple consisted in its longer durationa point discussed in the Talmud (Baba Bathra), for Scripture makes no mention of the glory being attributable to the length of the time during which the temple was constructed or lasted. And even if the duration of the second temple had exceeded by double the time that of the first temple, the word glory could not have been assigned to this distinction. Besides this, we must also notice that the peace promised to reign in the latter times, did by no means prevail during the existence of the second temple. The real object of the prophecy under consideration is to show, that the human labour displayed in rearing the second temple was esteemed but insignificant by the Almighty, for the prophet announces a complete change of heaven and earth. See ibid. 2:6, "For thus saith the Lord of Hosts, There is one thing yet which is a little matter with me, that I shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land." Then also will the prophecy be fulfilled, "and the valuable things of all nations shall come "(as contributions to the glory of the house of God). Hitherto such an event has not yet come to pass; but it will take place when all the nations of the earth, who are adverse to the Jews (and who are termed in Scripture, Gog and Magog), shall be subjugated and pacified. See Ezekiel 38:19, 20, "In my jealousy, and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel: so that the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all the creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are on the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence," etc. The restoration of the latter temple has, on that account, been brought into connection with the battle of Gog and Magog (i, e., the ultimate cessation of all warfare). At that time the temple will be erected in surpassing splendour, and testifying all is the Lord's according to the expression by Haggai, that "the gold and the silver belong unto Him." At that time the true glory of the house of God will be made manifest, and will excel that of the preceding temple. The Shechinah (the Divine presence) will re-appear there, and there everlasting peace will take up its abode. To this alludes Haggai, by saying at the end of his book, chapter 2:21, 22, "Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heaven and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, and I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride in them: and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of the brother." A similar vision seen by the prophet Zechariah, is also unconnected with the second temple, but relates to events to come in the latter days; for after fearful collisions of the last hostile kingdoms, the Messiah, descendant of Zerubbabel, will come, and He will be the perfection of all rulers. Hence Haggai says, in the concluding words of his book, chapter 2:23, "And I will make theeZerubbabelas a signet, for I have chosen thee, says the Lord of Hosts." The fulfillment was not to take place in the immediate times of Zerubbabel, for He remained during all His life in the same position as Governor of Israel, without being ever raised to that exalted rank of which Haggai speaks.
But we find in Scripture similar promises, which were to be accomplished among a later posterity. Thus, for instance, the Almighty said to Abraham, when He made a covenant with him to give him the Land of Canaan as an inheritance (Genesis 15:7), "I am the Lord who hath brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give thee this land for an inheritance."
This prediction undoubtedly related merely to the posterity of Abraham, as is set forth in the very same chapter (ver. 18), "In that day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying. Unto thy seed have I given this land," etc. We must, therefore, of necessity explain the prophecy of Haggai as referring to the third temple, of which Ezekiel, in chapter 40 and in subsequent passages, et passim, has given such an elaborate and distinct description. He has given us the express announcement that the Divine presence would reveal itself there in its fullest glory. See Ezekiel 43:4-7, "And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate which faces the east. So the spirit took me up and brought me into the inner court, and behold the glory of the Lord filled the house. And I heard one who was speaking unto me, and a man stood by me. 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, the house of Israel shall no more defile my Holy name," etc. This prevalence of universal peace will form the superior glory of the latter temple. The inferiority of the second temple may also be argued from the absence of the Holy ark, of the mercy seat, of the Urim and Thummim, etc.; but in the third temple, which is to be raised at a future day, all the tokens of Divine glory will be restored and serve as a pledge for the endurance of perpetual peace. Hence the prophet Haggai says, "And in this place will I grant peace, saith the Lord of Hosts." Utterly untenable is also the assertion of the Christians, that the glory of the second temple consisted in the event of the birth of Jesus. For, when he was born, the temple was fast approaching its dissolution and lacked that peace expressly promised. Besides this, Jesus himself admitted, that his object was not to afford peace; for he says in Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth, I came not to send peace, but a sword." This forms a positive evidence that the promise of universal peace remains still to be accomplished.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.16.]
Zechariah 9:9, "Rejoice very much, O daughter of Zion. Shout, daughter of Jerusalem. Behold thy king cometh unto thee; He is just and has been saved; He is poor and riding on an ass." On the authority of St. Matthew 21:5, the Christians maintain that the prophet, on pronouncing this prediction, had in view the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on the back of an ass.
Refutation.The whole prophecy from which the above portion is taken, bears internal evidence to the fallacy of this interpretation; for the prophet speaks solely of the ingathering of Israel and of the advent of the Messiah in the latter days. To arrive at this truth, the verse must be read in its relation with the antecedent and subsequent verses. Refer to the commencement of Zechariah 9:1, where we read, "The burden of the word of the Lord upon the land of Hadrach and Damascus, his resting place." The letter ב occurring in this verse in the word בארץ means upon, concerning, or relating to. It occurs in the same sense in Isaiah 21:13, "The burden upon Arabia," and the same meaning has the ב in many other passages of Scripture.
The lands of Hadrach and Damascus shall, in the time of the Messiah, be united with the land of Israel, and be termed the resting-place of the Divine glory, just as the ancient and more limited country of Israel was designated the resting-place of the Divine Glory.
In this mode, the Psalmist says in Psalm 95:11, "Unto whom I sware in my wrath, they should not enter into my rest"; or, as we find this expression more largely expanded in Deuteronomy 11:12, it is the land "which the Lord thy God inquireth after; the eyes of the Lord thy God are continually upon it." Now, in the times of the Messiah, the eyes of the Lord will rest favourably on the lands of Hadrach and Damascus, because all worship displeasing to the Divine Being will give way to the acknowledgement of pure truth. In the same way, many will also, in the other countries adjacent to our ancient fatherland, be incorporated in the possession of the House of Jacob, and according to the expression of Zechariah 9:1, "The eye of man shall be directed unto the Lord, as the eyes of all the tribes of Israel shall be towards the Lord; for all nations will say unto the men of Judea, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is among you." The words of Jeremiah 23:17 fully bear upon this subject, "Now they say unto my scorners, the Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace," etc.
Zechariah 9:2, "Also Hamath borders thereon, and also Tyre and Zidon, yet they were wise." Those towns, though considered as foreign countries (See Amos 6:2), will, in future, form only one empire with that of Israel. As to the wisdom of Tyre and Zidon, it is often alluded to by the prophets, as may be seen in Ezekiel 28. Such wisdom, available in worldly matters, will not prove of advantage against the supremacy of Israel. For, although "Tyre did build herself a strong-hold and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets, the Lord will cause her to grow poor." Zechariah 9:3. In rendering the words יורשנה, "He will cause her to grow poor," we are guided by the terms occurring in 1 Samuel 2:7, "The Lord maketh poor and maketh rich." Zechariah 9:4, further says, "And He will smite her power in the sea, and she shall be devoured with fire." This shows that temporal means will be utterly disregarded, and that confidence in perishable substance will be lost with the disappearance of the substance itself. Grand structures shall become insignificant, the towers of refuge and the walls of protection shall be demolished, and devouring fire shall demonstrate that man can never raise a bulwark against the will of the Lord, and that he can only fortify himself with the firmness of faith.
Again, we read in Zechariah 9:5, "Ashkelon shall see it and fear, and also Gaza be much afraid; and Ekron too, for He hath put to shame her trust." Terror shall emanate from the consciousness of their former unworthiness, and terror shall be followed by humiliation and desolation, as the natural consequences of depraved conduct. Therefore Zechariah says in the same chapter, verse 6, "The outcasts shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the glory of the Philistines, and I will take away the guilt of blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth." All this part, which is introductory to the verse at the heading of this chapter, shows that a total conversion from ungodly feelings and practices will take place in the countries adjacent to Palestine, and that they will be spared only to become faithful followers of our God, and like the Jebusite of former days, to be subjected to Israel. The various nationalities will then be joined into one faithful body; all will serve with equal ardour the God of Israel, saying in the words of Zechariah 8:23, "We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." The multitude of worshippers will abundantly increase so that the land of Israel will not be able to contain them, and therefore the boundary will, according to Divine promise, be enlarged, and Palestine extend in proportion as the faith of the followers of Judaism shall spread; for to speak with Isaiah 54:1, "The children of the desolate wife are greater than the children of the married wife," that is to say, the children returning from captivity will far exceed those who once left their native land. Hence Isaiah says, ibid. verse 2, "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt spread to the right and the left," etc. Jeremiah, too, affords a picture of the future enlargement of Jerusalem. See chapter 31:38, "Behold days shall come, saith the Lord, and the city shall be built unto the Lord from the tower of Hananeel to the gate of the corner," etc., and he concludes this prediction with the assurance, "it shall not be destroyed, nor shall it ever be broken down." As at that time the temple of the Lord will consequently be larger than it had been in former days, as is testified by Ezekiel 40 and in subsequent parts. The peace which will at that time rule in Palestine will be fairly established, so that no man shall have to apprehend any danger from abroad. Zechariah therefore predicts, chapter 9:8, "I will set up an army for my house, of those who proceed towards it, of those who return from it; and no oppressor shall move against them any more, for now I have seen it with mine eyes." With this prophecy we may compare Zechariah 2:5, "For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a protecting wall of fire round about." The expression, "for now I have seen it with mine eyes," relates to the time of the fulfillment, when the Jews will find relief from all tribulation; and then the Lord, who had turned his countenance from us, will again look upon us in mercy. In the same sense, we find in Exodus 2:25, "And God saw the children of Israel," by which is meant, "He looked upon them graciously." This forms a suitable introduction to the words, "Rejoice very much, daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem." The occasion for such joy is afforded by the concurrence of blissful events promised to happen in the days of the Messiah. Zion or Jerusalem is here addressed, individually, as the most important part of the Holy Land. Then He says, "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee; He is righteous, and is saved"; for the King Messiah will be a righteous Man; and, through his righteousness He will be saved from the destructive attacks of his assailants.
The Christians have perverted the sense of נושע he is saved, and have rendered it as if it were מושיע a Saviour. The authors of the English version have, with consistent faithfulness, taken an opportunity for perverting the sense by translating it ambiguously, and with more ingenuity than honesty, "and having salvation," instead of "having been saved." Such subterfuges do not strengthen, however, the cause of religion. We must notice, at the same time, that the word מושיע would not aid their interpretation, for we find this word also in the passive sense, for instance, יעלו מושיעים וכו and "the saved ones shall go up to judge the mount of Esau." The word עני, occurring in the verse at the beginning of this chapter, means meek and modest. A similar description of the character of the Messiah is given in Isaiah 42:2, "He shall not cry aloud and not raise himself up, and not make his voice to be heard abroad; a feeble reed He shall not break," etc; The appearance of the Messiah on the back of an ass is to indicate his disdain of all vain display, and also that, at the time of his advent, the use of horses for battle will no longer be required. This is amplified in the announcement, "And I will cut off the chariots from Ephraim and the horses from Jerusalem, and the bow of warfare shall be cut off." Thus is also the message given by Hosea 2:18, "And the bow and the sword I will break from the land; and I shall cause them to lie down in security."
Still more forcibly this is predicted in Isaiah 2:4, "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall no more lift up the sword against nation, and they shall no more learn the art of war." For this reason Zechariah says, "And He shall speak peace unto the nations." This shows again that the Messiah will conciliate hostile nations, according to Daniel 7:27, "All rulers serve Him and obey Him." Thus Zechariah 9:10, says, "And His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the ends of the earth." Then the Prophet continues (chap. 9:11), "Thou also who art in the blood of thy covenant, I have sent thy prisoners from the waterless pit."
In these words he addresses Israel, who will be saved through the blood of Abraham's covenant, to which we have adhered in spite of all temptation during the captivity, which is denominated a pit without water. We come now to verse 12, of the same chapter, "Turn ye to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope, even to-day do I declare, that I will render double unto thee." This may be interpreted in the following manner:Israel, ye prisoners, ever hopeful of your ultimate salvation, ye shall return to God, who is the stronghold and the tower of strength to those who trust in Him, for to-day I tell you again, you shall receive a double portion of all joys lost during the toils of your captivity; and thus I repeat the promise conveyed to you through the prophet Isaiah (chap. 60:17), "Instead of the silver I shall bring gold," etc.; and again (chap. 61:7), "For your shame, ye shall have double, and in return for confusion, they shall rejoice in their portion; therefore, in their land they shall possess the double," etc.
The object of the word, "double," is merely to express that God will abundantly bestow his gracious favours: hence the word משני is not confined to the literal sense of twice or twofold. Thus we have in Jeremiah 17:18, "And I will destroy them with double destruction." Thus the word "double" signifies merely a frequent recurrence of the same thing. In chapter 9:13, Zechariah continues, "For I have bent thy way, O Judah, towards me. I have filled the bow, O Ephraim, and raised thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, Javan (i.e. Greece), and made thee as the sword of a mighty man."
Here he alludes to the days of the Messiah when all Judah and Ephraim, that is to say, all Israel, will return to their land. For we have already shown, in a former part, that, at the return from Babylon, only a small portion of the Jews again settled in their own country. Now, in the time of the Messiah, all will take their abode in the land of their inheritance, and they will be no more divided into two kingdoms. This may be fully seen on referring to Ezekiel 37. The prophet there tells us, that the children of Zion will prevail over the children of Javan.
Sometimes we find in Scripture Gog and Magog as expressive of the opponents of the Jews, for both Javan and Magog appear in the genealogical enumeration of nations in Genesis 10:1, 2, as brethren and as sons of Japheth.
Having now shown that this chapter affords no foundation for the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah, since in his days those significant predictions remained altogether unfulfilled, we proceed to sum up the points we have discussed.1. In the days of the Messiah, will take place the gathering of Judah and Ephraim, that is, of all Israel.On the other hand, we have shewn that, in the days of Jesus, not one of those favourable events occurred, but indeed the reverse took place. The King Messiah is to declare cessation of warfare and permanent peace, while Jesus the Nazarene says, in Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I come not to send peace, but the sword."
2. Many nations will join Israel as the people of the Lord.
3. Gog and Magog, that is, the powers opposing Israel, will be overthrown.
4. Undisturbed peace will then reign throughout the world.
5. The King Messiah will have dominion over all the world.
The true Messiah is to have his dominion from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth; but Jesus, the Nazarene, had no worldly power over the smallest territory; for he says in Matthew 20:28, "The Son of Man (i.e. Jesus) came not to be served, but to serve," etc. From all this it is obvious that the Christians have no foundation on which to establish their dogma of a Messiah.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.17.]
Zechariah 12:10, "And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplications, and they shall look up to me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as in the mourning for an only son, and be in bitterness for him, as is the bitterness for the firstborn."
The Christians cite this verse as a testimony of the regret which Israel will feel at a future time for having pierced and slain Jesus, who combined human and Divine nature; therefore the Israelites will mourn for him, as one mourns for an only son.
Refutation.On an unprejudiced perusal of the whole prophecy, of which the above forms part, our Christian brethren would have perceived that the contents are solely referable to the confusion of empires during the latter days, or, as we are accustomed to call that era, the appearance and fall of Gog and Magog. We will elucidate this by taking an attentive view of the entire chapter. It commences with the warning, (Zech 12:2) "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about." "The cup of trembling" means the confusion and terror which will seize all nations at that period, "and also Judah who shall be engaged in the siege against Jerusalem." For the foreign nations invading the Holy Land, in order to conquer its capital, will coerce and compel the children of Judah to assist in the siege of Jerusalem. In that time, says Zechariah 12:3, "I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; all that burthen themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." The ill fate formerly attending the warfare of the Jews will now befall the Gentiles; for the prophet continues, (Zech 12:4) "In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with terror, and his rider with madness, and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and I will smite every horse of the nations with blindness." This supernatural intervention of the Almighty will bring the Jewish leaders to reason, on seeing the extraordinary power displayed in behalf of Jerusalem. (Zech 12:5) "And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem are too strong for me, through the Lord their God." The leaders of Judah will then no longer side with the devourers of their people, but will pour out their wrath on the enemies of the Jews, for the Almighty has declared, Ibid. verse 6, "In that day will I make the governors of Judah like a hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left, and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem." For during the troubles of our captivity, the ancient city of the Lord has become like an exile from her own soil; in the future, however, she will be restored to herself again, in her pristine glory. The Lord will then show mercy even to those, who, in their forgetfulness of duty and national affection, have risen against the metropolis of that people and their faith; and He will spare the Jews who first assisted in the siege, as He will spare the inhabitants of Jerusalem who suffered from the siege. The prophet therefore says, (Zech 12:7) "The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not magnify themselves against Judah." The success attending the cause of the Jews will be granted in such a manner as not to disturb the unanimity and brotherly feeling so indispensably requisite for the restoration of our people. The Jews will, at that time, be invested with new vigour: (Zech 12:8) "And he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David"; that is to say, the weakest among the Jews shall be distinguished as a hero, and be equal in courage to David. "And the house of David shall be godly as a messenger of the Lord before them." The Messiah himself will act as a messenger of the Lord, and in his own person will lead his subjects to battle against the hostile nations. Now the prophet proceeds by saying, Ibid. chapter 12:9, 10, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced," etc
The prophet having, in this manner, alluded to the great superiority of the Jews in the latter days, says now, that they will look to him in humility and contrition, on account of those who have been pierced and killed in war. The Jews will be so assured of the Divine assistance in their restoration, that they will feel afflicted on account of those who shall become the first victims of their warfare with the Gentiles. Thus Joshua and the Israelites were afflicted when first beaten by the inhabitants of Ai. That leader of the Israelites then exclaimed, (Joshua 7:7), "Wherefore hast thou caused this people to pass over the Jordan," etc. And again (ver. 8), "Lord, what shall I say, after Israel have turned their backs before their enemies"? In the same manner, the people shall, in the days of the Messiah, look up in contrition to God, and implore pardon on account of their having pierced (i. e., destroyed) the innocent. The term את אשר is equal to the term בעבור on account of, or because, and does not mean "whom," as it has been generally rendered. In Ezekiel 36:27, we have את אשר in the same sense, "And 1 shall do it on account of your walking (or because ye shall walk) in my statutes." The interest in the life of a fellow-man will be deeply felt during the latter thirty days that the Jews shall mourn for any man slain in the battle, as one is who mourns for the loss of an only son, and they shall be in bitter grief for him, as if it were for a first-born child. The comparison, with the loss of a first-born son, gives, in a few words, a picture of the intensity of grief. The subsequent comparison with the mourning of Hadadrimmon, we cannot further explain, there being no mention on record of the cause and circumstances of that mourning. The prophet then shows how each family in Israel will partake in the affliction caused by the report of the fallen in war; and as it is a well-known fact, that the mournful tidings vibrate more keenly in the hearts of feeling women, than in the hearts of interested men, the prophet draws a distinguishing line between the mourning of the two sexes; and, speaking of the high families of Israel, he says, "And the land shall mourn, each family separately, the family of the house of David separately, their wives separately," etc. The description given here of the belligerent parties, and of the result of their actions, near and at Jerusalem, evidently relates to a time not yet recorded in the pages of history. The Christians have therefore no basis, on which to rest their religious theory of the death of Jesus. Were there only a shadow of truth in their pretension, that the grief predicted by the prophet was to emanate from the mode in which Jesus met with his end on the cross, the prophecy ought to be worded, "And they will mourn for me, and be in bitterness for me." The fallacy of the assertions of the Christians, with regard to this prophecy, is not only to be proved from this detached part, but is also to be considered from what we demonstrated in the preceding parts. See, for example, chapter 10, where we have treated on the inconsistency of considering Jesus as the Messiah, and of the absolute impossibility of acknowledging him as the Godhead.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.18.]
Zechariah 13:7, "Awake, sword, against my shepherd, and against the man who is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts; smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones."
According to the opinion of the Christians, the prophet meant Jesus by the "Man who is my fellow," and the disciples of Jesus by the expression, "Smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered." This assertion rests on what we read in St. Mark 14:27.
Refutation.The explanation given by the Christians to the above passage, is devoid of truth. The context to which the above verse belongs, relates exclusively to the downfall of the kings of Palestine and to the dispersion of Israel. Simultaneously with that event the destruction of idolators was to take place, and the righteous alone were to be saved from utter annihilation. The command given to the sword to "smite the shepherd who is my fellow," merely signifies that those kings shall be punished who oppress the Jews, and who, in their delusion, believe they are doing a godly work in persecuting a religious people, and, in their inordinate conceit, imagine that they are the vicars and associates of the Almighty, whereas in the minds of those men the serpent of temptation whispers, as it did to our first parents, "And ye shall be like unto God, knowing good and evil."
This conceit we have met with among the rulers in Asia and Africa, where enlightenment has made less rapid strides than in Europe; and on that account humiliation is most needful to the uninstructed in order to teach them to know the littleness of pride and the superiority of meekness. "Smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered." This passage indicates that the rulers of the Gentiles, who boast of their iniquitous government, shall be overthrown; and, from their fall, the deliverance of Israel will arise. There are many shepherds that must be struck prior to Israel's entire deliverance; for, unlike the ancient captivity in Egypt, the Jews are now scattered throughout numerous states and kingdoms. The return of our people to the inheritance of their fathers will, therefore, not take place in one collected body, but in numerous detached hosts. The term וחפוצין of the above passage occurs also in the form of a noun in Isaiah 11:12, "And he shall gather the dispersed (נפצות) of Judah. "And I will turn my hand against the little ones." This passage likewise alludes to the subdued and powerless princes who shall be visited with humiliation according to their demerits. The Almighty will lend His help to those who have been the victims of malice. The inhabitants of the earth shall be awfully roused from their delusion, obeying the call of Isaiah, who says (chap, 34:1, 2), "Come near, ye nations, and listen, for the Lord will execute judgment on the cruel persecutors of His people."
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.19.]
Malachi 1:11, "For from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense is offered up unto my name, and a pure offering, saith the Lord of Hosts." The Christians maintain that this prophecy bears upon their faith, which has been so extensively diffused in the world.
Refutation.We do not discover in these words of Malachi any allusion to the faith of Christianity, which had no existence at the era of the prophet. We know well that Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, were contemporaneous, and lived about three hundred years anterior to Jesus. At the time of the last prophet, the Gentiles were worshippers of the heavenly constellations, and of idols representing those constellations. It was not, however, the intention of Malachi to expatiate on the abominations of Idolatry, but he merely delivered a reproof to the sinners of Israel who offered up loathsome sacrifices, and thereby profaned the name of the Almighty. Hence he says (chap. 1:12), "But ye are profaning it by saying. The table of the Lord is polluted, and the fruit thereof, even the meat, is contemptible." Subsequently the prophet reproaches the people, and says, (ver. 13) "And ye bring an offering which has been stolen, and the lame and the sick." Whoever reads with attention the lesson of the prophet, will find that he rebukes the Israelites for their having acted worse in their sacrifices to God, than the Gentiles towards their idols. In this he accords with Ezekiel 5:7, "And ye have not dealt in the fashion of the Gentiles that are around you." While the Israelites neglected to imitate what was laudable in the worship of the Gentiles, they blindly followed their reprehensible practices, and, therefore, Ezekiel blames his people by saying (chap. 11:12), "In my statutes ye have not walked, and after my judgments ye have not acted, but ye have acted after the customs of the Gentiles that are around you." "And in every place incense is offered up unto my name." Hereby a comparison is made between the sordidness in the sacrifices of the Israelites and the greater liberality of the idolators in their offerings to their false gods. For if the latter had been asked to whom they paid those tokens of reverence, they would have answered, to a Divine Power that governs the destinies of mankind, and, therefore, they were filled with awe and devotion, in spite of all their errors. But although those Gentiles had not a pure and an elevated idea of the Supreme Being, they were able to act agreeably to his revealed will; and, therefore, the prophet was justified in declaring in the name of the Lord, "For my name is great among the Gentiles." But since a worship cannot be approved in which a creature is put on an equality with the Creator, the Gentiles would only find favour by acquiescing in the sublime belief of an omnipresent and omnipotent Deity; for such a belief alone affords real gratification to the reasoning mind and to the wishful heart. Hence Malachi 3:4, goes on to say, "And the sacrifices of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasant unto the Lord as in days of old, and in former years." The means of finding favour in the eyes of the Almighty will only then increase when religious obstacles shall be removed. The favour of the Lord is therefore contingent on the purity of His worshipper, consequently Malachi declares (chap. 3:3), "And he shall sit as a refiner and as a purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." It is natural, that the sons of Levi and the priests should be prominently noticed in this prophecy, for those spiritual guides of the people were the very men who were designated "as the despisers of my name." Those who lead the way to sin must also by their example naturally be the first to meet with punishment. The verse which heads this chapter has a beautiful parallel in Psalm 113:3, "From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is praised. The Lord is high above all nations." It could not be said, that David included all contemporaneous Gentile nations in the adoration of the God of Israel; and that he considered all the heathen to be believers in the same Deity. For he condemns the practices in the worship of the heathen in the very same book, saying (Psalm 115:4-9), "Their idols are of gold and of silver, the works of the hands of man; they have mouths and speak not, they have eyes and see not, they have ears and hear not, they have noses and smell not, they have hands and feel not, feet and walk not, they speak not with their throats. Like unto them are those that make them, yea, all those that trust in them. Let Israel trust in the Lord, He is their shield and their help." Nearly the same terms are used in Psalm 135:15-19. We see, then, that the Gentiles, with all their errors, wished to adore a First Cause of all existence; yet the Psalmist as well as the prophet spoken of above, deemed the faith and the observances of Israel as those strongholds by which the mind of man obtains true eminence and consolation; consequently there is not the slightest motive to forsake the path which our religion points out to its followers, and to adopt a faith so manifestly at variance with our ancient law.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 4.20.]
Malachi, at the end of the book, saith, "Behold, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the coming of the great and awful day."
It has been asserted by Christian interpreters of this passage, that we Jews vainly expect the fulfillment of this prediction, because it has already been realized in the person of John the Baptist, who in spirit was equal to Elijah; it being said in Matthew 11:10, that Jesus declared that John was the Elijah predicted by Malachi. They particularly cite chapter 17 of Matthew, where Jesus is made to affirm (ver. 12 and 13) "But I say unto you that Elijah is come already, and they know him not, but have done to him whatever they listed." Thus his disciples were led to believe that Elijah and John were identical in the above prophecy.
Refutation.How can they deny the personal identity of the Prophet, mentioned in chapter 4:5? Who would venture to affirm that any other person is signified than the real Prophet Elijah, a truth equally manifest in the following passages: 1 Kings 18:21, "And Elijah drew near."2 Chronicles 21:12, "And a writing of Elijah the prophet readied him." If the prophecy under consideration had had reference to an indefinite individual, it would have been communicated in such terms as the following, "Behold, I shall send a man like the Prophet Elijah." Besides, he might have said, in terms which could not have failed to produce conviction, "Behold, I shall send you John." What necessity to have called him Elijah? Our argument gains in strength by the very statements contained in the Gospel of St. John 1:21, "And they asked him [John], what then, art thou Elias [Elijah], and he said, I am not.""Art thou that Prophet? and he answered. No." Comparing this passage with an assertion made in Matthew, we find a most glaring contradiction in the two Gospels. See Matthew 17:10 to 13, "And his disciples asked Him [Jesus], saying, Why then say the Scribes, that Elias [Elijah], must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias [Elijah] shall first come and restore all things. But I say unto you that Elias [Elijah], is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed; likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake to them of John the Baptist." It is utterly unnecessary to illustrate any further similar expressions bearing so visibly the stamp of human invention; and we are fully prepared to estimate the value of the interpretation given to this discrepancy by the Christian commentators, who maintain that John declined the title of "Prophet Elijah" out of pure humility. Humility will not allow us to utter an intentional untruth in order to establish our superiority. Faithful prophets have openly avowed their missions and the object of their appearance before the world. We dismiss, therefore, the claim of the Christian interpretation as totally unsatisfactory and unfounded.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 5.1.]
Psalm 110:1, "The Lord said unto my lord, Sit thou at my right side, until I make thine enemies thy footstool."
I heard once a Christian scholar plead that this passage can only have reference to Jesus, who was the combination of divinity and humanity; for of whom else could David have spoken as "my Lord" sitting at the right hand of the Almighty?
Refutation.To this I made the following reply:We attribute to David the composition of the 137th Psalm, commencing, "On the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept," a Psalm obviously treating of the Babylonian Captivity, which took place about four centuries after the death of David. An allusion to so distant a period could only have been made by a holy and an inspired writer.
There are also many passages in the book of Psalms which relate to the poet himself, as, for instance, Psalm 2:7, "I will declare it as a law. The Lord spoke unto me, Thou art my son, to-day I have begotten thee." In the same light must be considered many other subsequent Psalms. There are Psalms of another character, the object of which is to describe the period of the Jewish exile; to this class belongs the above-mentioned Psalm 137. Of the like prophetic character is Psalm 79:1, commencing, "O God, the heathen have come into thine inheritance, they have defiled thy holy temple." In a similar sense we take Psalm 74:1, "Wherefore, God, hast thou for ever forsaken us?" All such Psalms were composed for the captives of Israel through inspiration. We find other Psalms which have a still more remote bearing, and take within their range the gathering of the captives, and the days of the Messiah. See, for instance Psalm 96:1, commencing, "Sing unto the Lord a new song," etc. This and other Psalms were dictated by holy inspiration, and originated most likely from some occurrence which urged the mind of the poet to enlarge upon the future restoration of Israel. Sometimes the cause of the production of such Psalms is recorded and pointed out by expressions more or less definite. See, for instance, Psalm 20:1, "The Lord shall answer thee on the day of trouble," in which David spoke first of his own sorrow, and then passed over to those awaiting the children of Israel while engaged in hazardous warfare. In the same category stands, the Psalm, "God said unto my Lord (master), Sit thou at my right-hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Firstly, David speaks concerning himself, perhaps taking occasion to treat on this subject when his men had sworn "that he should no longer go with them to battle," on account of the danger to which he had so repeatedly exposed his life in conflict with the Philistines. See 2 Samuel 21:17, "Then the men of David swore unto him saying, Thou shall no longer go out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel." The psalm in question seems to have emanated from the impression made on the poet, while his men were anxious to prevent him from exposing his life any more in battle, and speaking, as it were, in their name, he makes them utter an appeal to himself in the following words, "God saith to my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool." Now, whether David was or was not the author of this appeal, we must allow that in any case this emphatic exhortation was well calculated to work a powerful effect on the mind of a man so pious as King David. Being thus assured of the protection of God, as confirmed by the words, "The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength from Zion," which is, that "He will send thee help from his sanctuary. He will support thee from Zion," as that holy city was the distinguished locality which "the Lord chose for his abode," the words which follow, "Thy people shall be willing on the day of thy power," mean, Thy subjects, King, will freely offer their lives to spare thine, while thou keepest away from danger. The passage, "Thou art my priest for ever according to the word concerning Melchizedek," means, Thou shalt, during all thy life, be unto me like Melchizedek, king of Jerusalem, who was denominated king and priest of the most high God. See Genesis 14:18, "And Melchizedek, king of Salem, caused bread and wine to be brought out, and he was a priest of the most high God." That David's sacred compositions rendered him worthy to be adorned with the title of priest appears evident enough from Scripture, as is exemplified in the Second Book of Samuel, where we read, that David built an altar, offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, which, accompanied by prayer and entreaty, "were accepted by the Lord, and the plague was stayed in Israel." The words על דברתי in the passage in the psalm in question, mean "according to." We find it in the same sense in Job 10 "according to thy knowledge." The letter י in דברתי is paragogic as the י in רבתי (Lam 1:1). We must mention here, by way of digression, a misinterpretation given to the passage, "And Melchizedek brought out wine and bread." The Christians believe, that the bread and wine were offered as articles of sacrifice, but plain sense compels us to believe that the presentation of these things was merely for the entertainment of his guests. The tenth part given by Abraham to Melchizedek, qualified the latter to be denominated priest of the Most High God. Hence we see that the Psalmist meant none but himself, in the composition we have been treating of, while, on the other hand, he alluded to the future condition of the dispersed people, when in his inspiration he proclaimed (Ps. 96:1), "Sing ye unto the Lord a new song, let the whole earth sing unto the Lord." Thus he says also in the subsequent psalm, (Ps. 97:1) "The Lord reigneth; let the earth be glad, many isles shall rejoice." Those psalms, as we said above, allude to the still unfulfilled ingathering of Israel. It appears to be a most unjustifiable assertion of the Christian expounder of the psalms to maintain that the phrase, "To sit at the right hand of God," applies to an actual son of God, for the Bible contains numerous proofs that the metaphor, "the right hand of God," solely signifies "Omnipotence of the Deity." What other interpretation could be assigned to the following sentences (Ps. 118 verse 16), "The right hand of the Lord is exalted, the right hand of the Lord worketh mighty things." Exodus 15:16, "Thy right hand, Lord, is glorified in strength; thy right hand, O Lord, crusheth the enemy." Even when speaking of man, "the right hand" implies strength and exertion. See for instance Psalm 144:8, "And their hand is the right hand of falsehood." To take the word in a narrow and literal sense, must involve the expounder in the glaring fallacy of applying corporeality to one whom he believes to be the Son of God. To a Jew, it would almost appear blasphemy literally to ascribe a right or a left hand to the Deity, a spiritual being to whom no attribute of corporeality can be absolutely ascribed. When the believer is urged to place himself on the right hand of the Lord, he can only understand that it is his duty to seek the protection of the Omnipotent. The more we read of Scripture, the more proofs we find that many parts of the Bible have been misinterpreted in order to favor a certain religious dogma. The psalm we are treating of has the expression, "The Lord hath sworn, he will not repent," which phrase has been considered as alluding to a new dispensation by which the sacrifices of flesh and blood should cease, and be substituted by oblations of bread and wine. But it has not been borne in mind that the Deity never changes his views "He is not a man that he should repent." Ordinances once given must be binding upon us, and upon all succeeding generations. We have already disposed of this subject in chapter 19 to which we refer the reader.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 5.2.]
Daniel 7:13, "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him." The Christian expositors of Scripture ascribe the object of this prophecy to the advent of their Messiah, who, according to their view of this prophecy, was to be a superhuman being; otherwise how could he come with the clouds of heaven?
Refutation.The prophet speaks here of a dream, in which things are meant to be represented in their literal sense. If the dream exhibits preternatural visions, the interpretation does not require a preternatural fulfillment. Daniel mentioned in the same chapter the destruction of the four kingdoms, and predicted that an enduring dominion will be granted to no other than the people holy to the Most High God. See ibid, verse 18, "And the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the dominion, and possess the kingdom for ever and ever, even for ever and ever." Again, verses 26, 27, "And the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all kingdoms shall serve and obey him."
The clouds of heaven mentioned in the quotation at the head of this chapter, bring to mind the heavenly rule which ordains changes on high, in the region which lies beyond the reach and influence of man. He that raises clouds, and makes them descend again to fructify the soil, must be acknowledged as the same supreme agent, and disposer of the fate of man. The idea is familiar to other prophets also. See for example Jeremiah 14:22, "Are there among the vanities of the heathen any that send down rain, and do the heavens yield them abundant showers?" "Is it not thou who art our God, and surely we will hope in thee; for thou doest all these things." The fleet clouds are often used as symbols of the swiftness with which God carries out His decrees. See Isaiah 19:1, "Behold, the Lord riding on a light cloud, and He is come to Egypt." Jeremiah 4:13, "Behold, like unto a cloud he rises up; like a whirlwind are His chariots. Isaiah 60:8, "Who are those that are flying like a cloud, and like doves to their windows?"
The superhuman powers developed in the divine dispensations are pointed out by Daniel 2:34, "Thou sawest that a stone was cut out, but not by any hands, which smote the image on his feet." In a like manner he mentions in the same chapter the aid that will be afforded by God (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 kingdom shall not be left to other people," etc. Thus the last kingdom on earth will be exalted beyond the others, by enjoying the special protection of heaven, and divine help shall descend upon the empire of the chosen ones, "as rain descends upon the earth blessed by the Lord."
Christians argue that the government spoken of by Daniel must belong to a Divine Being, because we read, "His dominion shall be an everlasting dominion." But we take those words in the sense that the kingdom shall be a perpetual and an inalienable inheritance, descending from father to son without interruption. Hence Daniel says, "And his kingdom shall not pass away." And again in chapter 7:27, "And all rulers shall serve and obey Him." The last-mentioned prediction is most decidedly not realised in the person of Jesus, for the Jews, the Mahommedans, and many other nations are not subject to the dominion of Jesus.
Christians may perhaps plead and say that the expression "all rulers," refers to a great number merely, and is applied here as in Genesis 24:10, "And he had in his hand all the goods of his master." But the connecting words must ever be our guide in cases of doubtful interpretation. Hence the word all here and in any other similar case, cannot be taken in a limited sense; for the prophet Daniel says, (7:27) "And the kingdom, and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom which is under all the heavens shall be given to him." Moreover, he expressly states in chapter 2:44, "I shall break in pieces and consume all those kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." The same prediction we find in Isaiah 60:12, "For the nation and the kingdom which shall not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly destroyed." The above-mentioned quotation, "And the saints of the Most High shall obtain the kingdom," has sole reference to the children of Israel. A few citations from Scripture will show that the title saints, or holy ones, is frequently given to Israel. Exodus 22:31, "And ye shall be unto me a holy people." Deuteronomy 7:6, "For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, the Lord thy God has chosen thee to be unto him a nation distinct from all the nations on the face of the earth." Isaiah 62:12, "The holy people, the redeemed ones of the Lord." Daniel 7:21, 22, "And I beheld the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them, until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." And again, verse 25, "And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws, and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Ibid. 8:24, "And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power shall he be mighty, and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper and act, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people." And ibid. 12:7, "It shall be for a time, times, and a half, and when he shall have accomplished the scattering the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished."
As Israel is called in Scripture the holy people of the Lord, so on the other hand is the Almighty represented as the Holy One of Israel. See Isaiah 12:6, "For great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee." Ibid, 37:23, "And thou hast lifted up thine eyes against the Holy One of Israel." Ibid. 41:14, "I have helped thee, saith the Lord, and the redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." Jeremiah 50:29, "For he rebelled against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel."
The appellation, in Daniel, Most High, which the Christians have endeavoured to appropriate to Jesus, is attributable to Israel, as will be seen on examining, other parts of the Scriptures. See Deuteronomy 26:19, "And to make thee most high above all the nations which He hath made for His praise, for His name, and for His glory; and that thou mayest be a holy people unto the Lord thy God as He hath spoken." Ibid, 28:1, "And the Lord will make thee most high above all people of the earth."
From all these passages, it is evident that Israel could not yield to any other nation the title given to it in holy writ, and it must be acknowledged that the saints of the Most High God can only be of that people which is declared to be most high among the nations of the earth.
The prophecies, showing that the wicked Gentiles shall perish, and that the righteous shall unite with Israel, are sufficient evidences to prove, that also the present prophecy relates solely to the chosen people, for surely no expounder could reason away the lucid and simple announcement made by Isaiah 4:3, "And all that shall be left in Zion, and that remain in Jerusalem, shall be called holy." And again in 60:21, "And thy people, altogether righteous, shall inherit thy land for ever."
Thus we see that Daniel had no other object in view than to represent in his prophecy the final glory of Israel.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 5.2.]
Daniel 9:26, "And after threescore and two weeks shall an anointed man be cut off, and shall have nothing, and a noble people cometh that shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and its end shall be in a flood, and until the end war is ordained to devastate." It is asserted by Christians that this verse reveals the fate of Jesus, who is to be cut off childless.
Refutation.In order to see how untenable is the position of the interpreters who rest their faith on such grounds, we must follow again the only just rule that can be adopted, and explain the verse from its context. We find in the same chapter (ver. 24), "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon the holy city, to make an end of sins, and to make a reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring to everlasting righteousness, and to seal up visions and prophets, and to anoint the Holy of Holies." The seventy weeks are evidently a given period of time elapsing from the destruction of the first to the destruction of the second temple. See Jeremiah 29:10, "For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word towards you, in causing you to return to this place." And Lamentations 4:22, "The punishment of thine iniquity is completed, daughter of Zion, He will not again lead thee into captivity." According to the vision of Daniel mentioned in chapter 7 of his book (the seventh and following verses), he saw that the fourth animal (indicating Rome) would persecute Israel for a great length of time; and he meditated on the visions which were not clear to him, because he had not received a special revelation concerning the latter captivity of the Jews. Hence he says, at the conclusion of the seventh chapter (ver. 28), "As for me, Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me, but I kept the matter in my heart." The same prophet had similar doubts regarding his visions when he heard the announcement (spoken of in chap. 8) of the cessation of the continual sacrifice, and of the destruction of the sanctuary, and of the overthrow of the people (see chap. 8:13, 26). He then thought that the predicted length of Israel's captivity related to that state into which his people then were precipitated; he therefore was told, "Conceal this vision, for it shall be for many days." This communication the prophet found at variance with the one made to Jeremiah, that the captivity would last for seventy years only. We have to explain on this occasion the meaning of "the evening and the morning," mentioned in the original Hebrew of chapter 8:14.* This expression is illustrated in Zechariah 14:7, "And in the eventide there shall be light." The prophet Daniel perceived in this that the darkness of Israel's troubles would be dispelled by the light of Salvation. See, in addition to this Jeremiah 30:7, "And it is a time of trouble for Jacob, and he shall be saved from it." The reverse state of destruction is depicted by gloom and darkness. See Amos 8:9, "And I shall darken the earth, on a day of light."* It is singularly remarkable that these words, upon which the prophet laid peculiar stress (see ibid. ver. 26), are omitted in the English version.Chapter 8 verses 13, 14 of Daniel, amply show that the prophet laboured originally under the opinion that the intended protraction of the captivity was owing to the iniquity of the people, and that they would pine in the state of banishment for two thousand three hundred days (signifying years); therefore he prayed to God to remove His wrath and anger. Neither did the angel of the Lord acquaint him of the actual termination of the last captivity, Daniel was only given to understand, that the cessation of prophecy would extend to the whole length of time necessary for the expiation of the sins of his people, for then would be fulfilled the prediction mentioned at the close of Lamentations 4:22, "Thy iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is ended; He shall no more cause thee to be led into captivity." Regarding the last exile of Israel, the prophet Ezekiel has recorded similar expressions in his book (chap. 22:15, "And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee." The complete restoration, which we expect during the latter days, will be crowned with "everlasting righteousness" (see Daniel 9:24). This is confirmed by the agreement of many prophecies. See Isaiah 51:6, "And my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished." Jeremiah 23:5, "And I will raise up unto David a righteous scion, and a king shall reign and prosper, and he shall do justice and righteousness in the earth." Isaiah 11:4, 5, "And he shall judge the poor with righteousness, and righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins." And at that time all Israel will be designated by the term righteous. See Isaiah 60:21, "And thy people will altogether be righteous." Again, ibid, chapter 61:3, "And men shall call them oaks of righteousness." The Psalmist likewise affords a testimony, since we find in Psalm 72:7, "In his days the righteous man shall flourish, Jerusalem will then be called, the abode of righteousness, the holy mount." We shall then say, in the words of Jeremiah (chap. 23:6), "The Lord our righteousness." The Messiah himself, according to the same prophet (chap. 23:6), will assume the title, "The Lord our righteousness," as we have already shown in the Chapter 19 of this work.
The words of Daniel (chap. 9:24) may be taken in the following sense:"And vision [prophecy] shall be sealed up," that is to say, it will be finally determined and confirmed, for we find a repetition of the same words with the same signification in Job 33:16, "And he sealed up the chastisement." It cannot, therefore, be pretended that prophecy will then discontinue altogether, for we read in Joel 2:28, "And it will come to pass afterwards that I shall pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy." The epoch of the restoration will thus completely restore the forfeited boon of Prophecy.
We return now to the explanation of the conclusion of verse 24, in Daniel 9, "And to anoint the Holy of Holies," which means that at the restoration of Israel, the Holy of Holies, or the Temple, will receive its new consecration after having lain desolate during the whole period of the captivity. An extensive description of that solemnity is to be found in the prophecy of Ezekiel, chapter 43.
The seventy weeks spoken of in Daniel 9, are enigmatic terms, conveying the various epochs of Israel's fate during their second occupation of the Holy Land and their subsequent exile. The first epoch, designated in chapter 9 verse 25, expressed by seven weeks, is evidently in allusion to Cyrus; for it is said there, "Know and understand that from the giving forth of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the anointed prince there shall be seven weeks." Now, we know well from the prophecy in Isaiah 45:1, that Cyrus was called the anointed king, for we find there, "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed king" (to Cyrus), etc.; and in the same chapter the Lord announces, "he shall build my city and send back my captives." The termination of sixty-two weeks is remarkable for the cessation "of an anointed king," that is to say, Israel is according to that prophecy to be bereft of his last ruler. "And there is none for him, there is no anointed ruler for the people of Israel." The cessation of a ruler over Israel is simultaneous with the fall of the Temple, and, consequently, alluded to the conquest by Titus, when Israel ceased to exist as a nation, and was deprived of its Temple, its ruler, and its country. If the Christians take an impartial view of this chapter of Daniel, they cannot possibly imagine that it alludes to Jesus, who suffered on the cross nearly half a century before the exile of Israel.
The contradictory remarks made by Christian expositors on this chapter, afford ample proof of the scanty notions they have of its real signification. Scientific readers who are anxious to obtain a view of all the contradictions which beset the path of the Christian expounders of Daniel, will find an interesting account given in Abarbanel's commentary on the book of Daniel, which bears the title Mangne Hayeschungah (the Shields of Salvation).
With this chapter, we shall conclude the elucidation of Scriptural passages cited by Christians in support of their faith.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 6.1.]
Some small portion of Christians have reproached the Jews with the disbelief in the Apocryphal books; but such persons have been confuted by scholars of their own creed. The works comprised under the collective title "Apocrypha," were composed at a late period after the dispersion of Israel, when prophecy was totally extinct, and when inspiration no longer elevated the compositions of religious writers. The Apocrypha has, therefore, no claim on our religious reverence. Some of those books may have an historical foundation, others are based on fiction and mere invention; and the whole of the Apocrypha was composed in the Greek language, which language does not bear the stamp of authority in the mind of the Jew; we may therefore dismiss this subject without entering into further detail.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.2.d.2. and Chapter 6.2.]
I observed to some Christians, that after the advent of the Messiah, there will be but one faith and one religion throughout the world. See Isaiah 45:23, "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall surely not be recalled, that before me every knee shall bend, and by me every tongue shall swear." Zephaniah 3:9, "For then shall I turn (restore) unto all the people a pure tongue, that they shall call upon the name of the Lord, and serve him with one accord." The Christians themselves must admit that there will take place a union of faith, since John acknowledges in his Gospel, chapter 10:16, that there will be "One shepherd and one flock." Now, since the doctrine of unity of faith is admitted on all sides, it is not necessary to argue which of the three principal creeds will prevail, whether the Jewish, the Christian, or the Mahommedan, for surely if one of those is to be adopted, the other two will of necessity fall. When we peruse the statements of the prophets, we must undoubtedly acknowledge that Israel's faith is intended to survive all others, See for instance, Isaiah 52:1, "Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion, put on the garments of thy glory, for neither the uncircumcised nor the unclean shall ever enter again into thy gates." Scripture evidently designates the Christians by the name of uncircumcised, and the Mahommedans, in despite of their frequent ablutions, deserve, in many respects, the epithet unclean. These two sects are more especially pointed out in prophecy, because they, as the representatives of Edom and Ismael, have alternately held possession of Jerusalem since its destruction by Titus.
From the time of the coming redemption, the prophet declares that none of the uncircumcised and the unclean shall ever again enter the gates of the Holy city. In the same manner says the prophet (Joel 3:17), "And Jerusalem shall be holy, and no stranger shall enter therein." Respecting the same two nations, says the prophet Isaiah, (66:17) "They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves in the gardens behind one in the midst of them, who eat the flesh of swine and the abominations and the mice, they shall perish altogether, saith the Lord." Those persons who sanctify and purify themselves are obviously the Ishmaelites who defile themselves by the most licentious indulgences. The reflective form of the Hebrew verb, as used in this quotation, conveys the idea of pretension and false claim, and in such a position are those of whom the prophet says, they "sanctify and purify themselves," The expression, the eaters of swine's flesh and other abominations, has allusion to the Christians, and their creed will therefore perish during the wars of the latter times. Concerning the people of Israel, however, Isaiah says, chapter 66:20, "And they shall bring all your brethren from all the Gentiles as an offering unto the Lord, on horses and chariots, and in litters, and upon mules and upon swift beasts, to my holy mount of Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a holy vessel into the house of the Lord." The nations surviving the wars of the latter times shall show honour to the Israelites, and hasten to join the true service of the Lord; hence the prophet says (chap. 66:23), "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to the other, and from one Sabbath to the other, all flesh shall come to bow down before me, saith the Lord." In the prophecy of Zechariah, we likewise find (chap. 14:16), "And it shall come to pass, that all who have been spared of all the Gentiles who come up against Jerusalem, shall come up from year to year to bow down before the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles." The prediction of a periodical visit to Jerusalem by all the Gentiles, for the observance of the festivals of the Lord, is an evident proof that they are to be united with the ancient nation of Israel. With this view the prophet Zechariah says (chap. 8:23), "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, At that time ten men from all the tongues of the Gentiles shall take hold of the skirts of a man that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." The same prophet declares in another place (chap. 9:7), "And I shall remove his guilt of blood from his mouth, and his abomination from beneath his teeth, and also he shall be left unto our God." This proves that they will abstain from eating unlawful food, like those who are born Israelites. We have already dwelt on this point, and refer the reader to the Chapters 15 and 35 of this work. In order to prove the strength of our doctrine beyond any doubt, we have only to add the clear prediction of the same prophet (Zechariah 14:9), "And the Lord shall be king of the whole earth; on that day the Lord shall be one, and his name one." The Lord will no longer be adored under the restricted title of King of Israel, as he actually is described by Isaiah, who says (chap. 44:6), "Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no other God." And again, chapter 45:15, "Surely thou art the God who art hidden, the God of Israel, and his Deliverer." In chapter 54:5, that prophet informs us of the extension of the name of the God of Israel, to that of the God acknowledged by all nations: he says, "For thy Maker is thy Husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name, and thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, he shall be called the God of the whole earth." The one God, and his one and only law of Sinai, will be acknowledged by all the inhabitants of the earth; no principle of Duality or of Trinity will then prevail. "All nations thou hast made will then come," as the Psalmist exclaims (Ps. 86:9), "and bow down before Thee and honour Thy name." And as throughout the realms of the universe the Supreme King of heaven will be acknowledged, so throughout all the kingdoms of the earth will his anointed king, Messiah, be the only worldly ruler. We shall have another opportunity of treating on the last mentioned subject when discussing, in the second part of this work, the merits of the contents of the other chapters of the Gospel of John. We conclude this chapter with the conviction that men of understanding and reading, attentively considering such passages as we have quoted, cannot any longer conscientiously refuse their assent to our belief of the future universal establishment of the Faith of Israel.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, 1.1.2.; 4.2; 6.3 and Part 2, Chapter 4.]
I have to set forth the following objection to the Christian religion. If our Christian brethren are sincerely anxious to separate truth from falsehood, they ought to examine the passages of the Old Testament quoted in the Gospel, and ascertain whether they are really applicable or not. A brief survey of such topics shows that the quotations in the Gospel can never be considered cogent or satisfactory. Whoever reads the statement made by the prophets must at once grant, that they never had it in contemplation to afford any clue or even a preference for the admission of a change or abjuration of the Faith of Israel. Besides this, the authors of the Gospel have occasionally garbled and perverted the form as well as the sense of the original text, and have thus based their erroneous opinion on an unstable foundation. Even in matters relating to history, where the fact has no relation to prediction and fulfillment, they have resorted to misrepresentation, which does not argue in favour of the veracity of their faith, or of their sound knowledge of the Scriptures. We shall examine these discrepancies in the Second Part of this work, and will now only make a few cursory remarks on one or two points.
Matthew, in the first chapter, (ver. 8) of his Book, says, "And Joram begat Ozias." This is not to be found in the Old Testament. In 1 Chronicles 3 verse 11, we read the following genealogy: "Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Jotham his son." Azariah, father of Jotham, here mentioned, was Uzziah, mentioned elsewhere in our Scripture, consequently the three generations of Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah, are omitted in the Gospel of Matthew. The omission is not caused by any oversight, but must have been intentional, in order to reduce the generations to the like number as those from Abraham to David, and thus to make both series of genealogy appear to consist of fourteen generations. Nor is the enumeration of the third series of fourteen generations during the Babylonian captivity, and coming down to Jesus, anything but a mere invention, in order to lead to the opinion that the three genealogical divisions ending in Jesus, were ordained as a special manifestation from the Almighty. Equally unsound is the tale of Matthew that Jesus was brought forth by a Virgin, in order to fulfil the words of Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, the young woman [according to the vulgate a virgin] shall conceive and shall bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel." What connection with the birth of Jesus has the address made by Isaiah to King Ahaz, in order to remove his fear of the two hostile kings then threatening Jerusalem? What comfort could it possibly have afforded to Ahaz, and how could it have allayed his terror, if the prophet, in proof of his divine mission, had given him a sign which could not and was not to be realized for more than five centuries after the death of the king? A fair examination of the entire passage in Isaiah will be found in Chapter 21 of this work. The same discordance between the word of Scripture and its application in the New Testament, will be found in referring to the following passage of Matthew 2:14, 15, "And he [Joseph] arose and took the young child and his mother by nighty and departed into Egypt. And he was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt have I called my son." The prophet alluded to in this portion of the gospel is Hosea, who in reality says (in chap. 11:1), "When Israel was a youth I loved him, and from Egypt I called my son." The fulfillment had not been delayed to the times of Jesus, but had taken place in the days of Moses when the Lord had told him (Exodus 4:22, 23), "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my first-born son"; and again, "Send away my son that he may serve me." What connection between Prophecy and the New Testament can be discovered in the following passage of St. Matthew? (chap, 2:16, 17, 18,) "And Herod sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem from two years old and under. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, (chap. 31:15), saying, Rachel is weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they are not." Whoever reads the complete passage delivered by Jeremiah, will soon perceive that he speaks of the captives, who, he says, ibid. ver. 16, "Shall return from the land of the enemy." And subsequently the prophet continues to say, (ibid. ver. 17), "And the children shall return to their boundary." It is thus quite evident, that Jeremiah is representing the lamentations of an afflicted mother, who alludes to the children who are living in captivity, and not those who have been massacred by a tyrant: the ten tribes being called by the name of Ephraim the descendants of Rachel; who was represented as a becoming emblem of maternal grief for her unhappy children. Moreover, if the prophet had intended to point out the affliction created by the massacre of the children in Bethlehem Judah, he would have selected Leah as the representative of the wounded spirit of a bereaved mother; for she and not Rachel was the female ancestor of the inhabitants of Bethlehem. Various other remarks on this passage have already been made in the Chapter 28 of this work.
In the same second chapter of Matthew, verse 23, we read, "And he came and dwelt in the city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a 'Nazarene.'" It is quite certain that the writings of our prophets afford not the slightest authority in support of this quotation.
In Matthew 5:43, Jesus is made to say, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy." Now we maintain that the additional injunction of hating the enemy flowed from the inventive mind of the author of the Gospel, and that it is not to be found in any part of the Jewish law. What we find in our law concerning the treatment of our enemy, is conveyed in totally different terms. See Exodus 23:4, 5, "If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou seest the ass of him that hateth thee, lying under his burden and wouldst forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him." Again, see Leviticus 19:17, 18, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart, thou shalt in anywise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The same precept is reproduced in Proverbs 25:21, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink."
In Matthew 23:35, Jesus reproaches the Jews for having slain Zacharias, son of Barachias, "between the temple and the altar." In this reproach an insufficient acquaintance with our Holy Books is shown, inasmuch as it was Zachariah, the son of Jehoiada, the priest, who was slain (see 2 Chronicles 24:22). Some Christian commentators endeavour to explain away this discrepancy, asserting that the father of Barachias had two names. But this is a clumsy subterfuge, for the priest Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, lived in the days of Joash, king of Judah, while Zechariah, the son of Berachiah, prophesied during the reign of Darius; therefore several centuries intervened between the existence of the two men bearing the name Zechariah.
In Mark 2:25, 26, Jesus is made to say to the Pharisees, "Have ye never read what David did when he had need, and was an hungered, he and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar, the high-priest, and did eat the shew-bread, which is not lawful but for the priest, and gave also to them that were with him?" This author of the Gospel likewise evinces an inattentive perusal of our Scriptures, since David did not go to Abiathar, but he went to Ahimelech, the father of Abiathar. See 1 Samuel 21:1, "And David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest"; and ibid, chapter 22:20, "And one of the sons of Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and ran after David." Nor did David come to Ahimelech with his followers, as the above quotation from Mark would lead one to suppose. For Ahimelech asked David (1 Samuel 21:1), "Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?" In St. John 3:34, Jesus communicates to his disciples, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another." This commandment is decidedly not new. Moses laid it down in the words "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
In Acts 7:4, is to be seen, "Then came he (Abraham) out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran, and from thence, when his father was dead. He [God] removed him into the land wherein ye now dwell." This is erroneous, for Abraham quitted Haran during his father's lifetime. And since Terah, the father of Abraham, died in Haran at the age of 205 years, he must have resided there for sixty years after the departure of Abraham. The following statement will prove this, according to the account given in Genesis:Terah was seventy years old when he begat Abraham, and the latter, when seventy-five years old, quitted his father; and Terah having died at the age of 205, he must, therefore, have been still living for sixty years after his son's departure. The order in which the history of Terah and Abraham is given in Genesis 11 and 12 has most probably led to the inaccuracies we have pointed out.
In Paul's Epistle to the Romans 9:24, the Gentiles are declared to be on an equality with the Chosen People. "Even us whom he hath called not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." As he says also verse 25, "I will call them my people which were not my people, and her beloved which was not beloved." Whoever peruses the first and second chapter of Hosea will find that Paul made use of the most tortuous means in order to shew that the Gentiles are meant by that prophet. So long as the people of Israel, through sin, forfeited the favours of God, they were stigmatized by the designation "Loammi (no more my people), and Lo-ruchamah (not received in mercy), but on returning to God, the Judgment was, according to the prophet, to be reversed, and they would bear the title "Ammi" (my people), and "Ruchamah" (received in mercy). The contents of Hosea's prophecy completely refute Paul's attempt to assimilate the Gentiles with the Jews.
In the same ninth chapter of Paul (ver. 33) a quotation from Isaiah is inserted, "Behold I lay in Zion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence, and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." This quotation is a mere fabrication of the author. In Isaiah 8:14, we find only, "And he shall be for a sanctuary, and for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both houses of Israel; for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." In chapter 28:16 of the same prophet, we read "Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone of trial, a precious corner-stone, which shall be well founded, yea securely founded; he that believeth shall not hasten from it." Paul thus combines various distinct passages to make them serve his own views.
In chapter 10:11 of Paul's Epistle to the Romans and 1 Peter 2:6, an inaccurate version of the above is given, "He that believeth on him shall not be ashamed" (or confounded). Scripture thus mutilated can certainly not uphold the fabric of human faith. Again, Paul says in Romans 10:6-8, "Say not in thine heart. Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above); or who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead. ) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee; even in thy mouth and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach." The words separated by Paul from their context, allude to the Divine promise contained in Deuteronomy 30:3, "God will turn the captivity of Israel and replace all evils with blessings," verse 2, "if thou wilt turn to the Lord with all thy heart and with all thy soul." "For this commandment or precept which I command thee this day is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven that thou shouldst say, Who shall go up for us to heaven and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it." Ibid. 11, 12, The grace of the Almighty here points out to us the magnitude of the duty of repentance, and the ease of accomplishing it. Commonly the value of worldly advantages is estimated according to the difficulty of obtaining them. But the preciousness of repentance consists in the means which the Almighty has placed within our reach; and therefore the subject closes with the terms ibid. verse 14, "but the thing is very nigh unto thee. It is in thy heart and in thy mouth that thou mayst do it."
In the Epistle to the Hebrews 10:5, Paul quotes the following words from our Scriptures:"Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body thou hast prepared me." The true passage occurring in Psalm 40:6, is, however, thus worded: "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ears hast thou opened," etc. The Psalmist touched here only on the subject of obedience as agreeing with the announcement made by Moses previously to the delivery of the Decalogue. See Exodus 19:5, where it is said, "And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto my commandments and keep my covenant, that ye shall be unto me a distinct people from among all nations, for mine is the earth." The matter is further developed by Jeremiah, who says in his book, chapter 7:22, 23, "For I spoke not unto your ancestors, and I commanded not unto them concerning the burnt offering and sacrifices; but this I commanded them, saying, Hearken unto my voice." Again, in 1 Samuel 15:22, obedience is enforced in preference to sacrifice, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold obedience is better than sacrifice, to attend unto Him is better than the fat of rams." We thus see that sacrifices were not ordained for their intrinsic value, but were intended to lead sinners into the temple, where they might contemplate on the mercy of God while performing the prescribed offering. Sacrifices consequently produced the same sanctifying effect on the mind, as healing medicines do on the body. We have here selected only a few Scriptural passages from those incorrectly cited in the New Testament, but will resume the subject more minutely in the Second Part of this work.
Many Christian commentators have lost their way, while attempting to reconcile those inconsistencies which we perceive in the New Testament, and they have found it necessary to assert, that it is not right to argue on those dubious matters. If that principle be true, it certainly would be better if the Jews were left unmolested by the assailants of their ancient religion, and if they were left free from the obtrusion of doctrines which interest neither faith nor reason.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 6.4.]
There is a striking instance of the fulfillment of prophetic warnings exhibited in the chastisement inflicted on the Gentiles, who relentlessly persecuted the Jews. There has never yet been a ruler exercising tyranny over the Jewish people who escaped with impunity. For although the Almighty deems it proper to visit Israel's transgressions, He does not suffer mortal man to act arbitrarily and fiendishly, where he is employed as the instrument of Divine Providence. Thus Pharaoh, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Haman, and other persecutors of the Jews, met with the retribution suited to their excesses, notwithstanding the calamities of exile falling upon the Israelites for their continuance in sin. They had not forfeited the title of God's people and His heritage, and He never disowned them so far as to destroy them totally; for the sole object of His corrections was to bring them back from their iniquitous conduct. And because He never rent asunder the tie of the covenant made with their fathers, He is in all parts of Scripture mentioned as their God. This is illustrated by the following quotation:Leviticus 26:44, "And even this I will do, when they shall be in the land of their enemies, I will neither despise nor loathe them so as to consume them, and to break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God." In their own country they committed sins arising from their prosperity and affluence, their punishment was, therefore, adjusted to their evil ways. The loss of the "goodly land," and the degradation from an independent to a dependent state, and from riches to poverty, were the chastisements proportioned to their withdrawal from the ways of God. In this respect, they shared the fate of a king's minister who has fallen into disgrace with his sovereign; even after his estate has been confiscated, he still remains a subject of his master, and in lowering him the king merely exercises his royal prerogative. Should now a stranger undertake to cast further humiliation upon the fallen courtier, will not his master direct his displeasure and vengeance upon him who tramples on the fallen man? History has, indeed, amply shewn that in the very same countries in which the Jew suffered persecution for his faith, the persecutors soon engaged in sanguinary conflicts among themselves under various pretexts. After the expulsion of the Jews from England, France, Spain, and Germany, unheard of cruelties ensued, the description of which excites the utmost horror in every breast, while, on the other hand, the countries in which the Jew was left unmolested, bore the most undeniable proofs of civilization, and obtained by providential retribution the enjoyment of prosperity. This state of quietude will ever remain uninterrupted wherever toleration prevails, although new sects may start up in defiance of newly established creeds. This opinion is founded on our own experience as well as on the following Scriptural testimonies:See Deuteronomy 7:15, "And the Lord shall remove from thee every sickness and all the evil diseases of the Egyptians; He shall not put them upon thee, but give them upon thine enemies." Ibid. chapter 30:7, "And the Lord thy God shall put all these oaths upon thine enemies and upon thy haters who have persecuted thee." See also Isaiah 41:11, 12, "Behold all those who were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded; they shall be as nothing, and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them and not find them. Even them that contended with thee; they that war against thee, shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought." Ibid. chapter 47:5, 6, "Sit thou silent and get thee into darkness, daughter of the Chaldeans; for thou shalt no more be called the Lady of Kingdoms. I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand. Thou didst shew them no mercy: upon the ancient thou hast very heavily laid the yoke." Ibid. chapter 49:26, "And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh, and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine, and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob."
See also Jeremiah 2:3, "Israel is holiness unto the Lord and the first fruits of his increase; all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord."
Ibid 30:16, "Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thy adversaries every one of them shall go into captivity, and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee, will I give for a prey." Joel 3:2, "I will gather all nations, and bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and divided my land." The same prophet says, at the conclusion of his book, chapter 3:19, "Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness for their violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land." Obadiah, in his prophecy (ver. 10), says, "For the violence against thy brother Jacob, shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever." See also the remaining part of this prophecy. Zephaniah 2:9, 10, "Therefore as I live, saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even as the breeding of nettles, and salt pits, and a perpetual desolation; the residue of my people shall spoil them, and all the remnant of my people shall possess them. This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached my people and magnified themselves." And at the conclusion of the book, the prophet says, (ver. 19), "Behold at that time I will undo all that afflict thee; and I will save her that halteth and gather her that was driven out, and I will set them as praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame." Zechariah 1:15, "I am very sore displeased with the nations that are at ease; for I was but little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction." Ibid. 2:8 and 9, "For thus saith the Lord of hosts, after the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which have spoiled you; for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. For, behold, I will turn my hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil unto their own servants, and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me." See also Psalm 83:1, commencing "God, keep not thy silence." Chapters 25, 26, 35, and that portion of 36, to verse 16, of the book of Ezekiel, afford further elucidations on the subject.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 6.5.]
The following argument may be raised against the Christians who oppose Judaism. They either believe that the Jews tormented and crucified Jesus with his will or against his will. If with his will, then the Jews had ample sanction for what they did, and could in that case only have merited the Divine approbation, acting as they then did in conformity with the ejaculation of David in Psalm 40:8, "I have been desirous to perform Thy will"; and Psalm 143:10, "Teach me to perform Thy will." The Jews must also have followed the admonition of Ezra 10:11, "And now give ye thanks unto the Lord the God of your fathers, and execute his desire." In addition to this we must ask, that if Jesus was really willing to meet such a fate, what cause was there for complaint or affliction? And why did he pray in the manner narrated in Matthew 26:39, "And he [Jesus], went a little further and fell on his face and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt." After Jesus had been fixed to the cross he gave evident proof of his non-identity with the Deity by exclaiming, (Matt 27:46) "My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" This argues that the will of God was different from that of Jesus, and that he bore no closer relation to the Creator than belongs to every other mortal.
We will now proceed to the other alternative, and suppose that the crucifixion of Jesus was done against his will. In this case the question arises, How could he be designated a God while he was incapable of resisting the power of those who brought him to the cross, and how could he be held as the Saviour of all mankind who could not save his own life?
The adoration paid to Jesus after his death recalls to our mind the passage in Ezekiel 28:9, "Wilt thou say before him that slayeth thee, I am God; but thou art a man and not a God in the hand that slayeth thee."
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 6.6.]
We would submit to discussion the question whether the Christians have any foundation for the belief that Jesus wrought his beneficial works for the salvation of the souls of his believers, and through his sufferings and his blood, he saved the followers of his creed from everlasting perdition in hell? If that were the case, the Christians would be dispensed from doing good actions, and be irresponsible for evil deeds. A passage occurring in St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (chap. 6:9,) will moreover show that the fall of Jesus was only of advantage to the upright, but not to sinners. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Of this we find a detailed explanation in the subsequent verses. Now, if sinners devoid of merit cannot be saved, why should the righteous who have merits require any intercession in order to obtain the Divine favour? It would appear then that the death of Jesus serves neither for the salvation of the sinner, nor for the salvation of the righteous.
Should the Christians argue that the death of Jesus was intended only to rescue from hell the souls of those who were involved in the sin of Adam, then we would refer back to the pages wherein we have fully proved that the prophets and the pious could not reasonably, and according to Scriptural evidence, incur damnation on account of the fall of Adam.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.6 and Chapter 3.7c and Chapter 6.7.]
An extraordinary degree of inconsistency presents itself in numerous points, when we compare the doctrine of the Christians with the teachings of Jesus and his Apostles.
In the first place, we find that Jesus does not, in any part of the New Testament, call himself "God" but continually calls himself "Man" or "the Son of Man." The title of Divinity attributed to Jesus is consequently conferred upon him without the sanction of that Book, the authority of which can alone be of value to the Christians.
In the second place, we notice that Jesus expresses himself, in various places, that he did not come to abolish the law of Moses, but to uphold it. Thus we read in Matthew 5:17, 18, "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 be fulfilled." In a similar manner, we find in Luke 16:17, "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail." Nevertheless, the Christians persist in believing that the Mosaic dispensation is no longer in force, but; has been superseded by that of Jesus.
In the third place, we observe, from the words of Jesus, that he thought everlasting bliss depended on the obedience to the holy laws of Moses, for when asked by the rich man, what he was to do in order to earn beatitude in life everlasting, Jesus answered (Matthew 19:17, 18, 19, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. The rich man said unto him, Which commandment? Jesus answered, Thou shalt do no murder; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; honour thy father and thy mother; and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The Christian of our day adds, that the sole condition on which life eternal depends, is the belief in Jesus as the Saviour of the soul. Jesus moreover taught the young man (Matt 19:21) "If thou be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor." This precept we have never yet seen performed by any Christian.
In the fourth place, we do not anywhere find the Christian who submits to the humiliation enjoined by Jesus on his disciples, when he said (Luke 6:29) "And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also," etc.
In the fifth place, we have to point out that, while the Christians believe that Mary, after having given birth to Jesus, still remained a virgin, Jesus himself was not of that opinion; for, according to John 2:4, he said, "Woman what have I to do with thee"?
In the sixth place, we find the Christians at variance, not only differing from the Mosaic, or rather Noachic prohibition of eating blood, but even from the injunction we read in Acts 15:20, "But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood." See also ibid. 15:29 and 21:25.
[A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish People, Chapter 3.6 and Chapter 6.7.]
We would ask the Christians who take the New Testament as a substitute for the Mosaic law, how they could venture to add, or diminish from the doctrines set forth in that law, seeing that the most severe denunciations are pronounced against him, who would dare either to add to, or omit the doctrines contained therein.
As points of addition, we must considerFirst, The dogma of the Trinity. The New Testament itself furnishes us only with proofs against the existence of a Trinity, as we have already shown in the tenth chapter of this book.
Secondly, We do not learn from the New Testament that Jesus called himself God, or that he arrogated to himself the unbounded power of the Almighty.
Thirdly, We have to ask those members of Christianity who worship images, how they could introduce a worship which runs counter to the stringent prohibitions of Jesus regarding this matter? For he prohibited his disciples from tasting the very flesh of animals sacrificed in honour of images. The defence attempted by those who bow to images is perfectly untenable. They allege that the images merely recall to mind the memory of holy men and women, and that they do not pay adoration to their inanimate representations. They, however, cannot deny that the form is polytheistic, and that, in their estimation, their bowing and prostration, and praying before those figures of saints, imparts a Divine character to those images.
Fourthly, The Christians, in visiting upon the Jews the death of Jesus, are acting against his expressed opinion; for, according to Luke 23:34, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
The wide scope to cruelty which has been given by the assumption of the right of avenging the death of Jesus on the Jews, has been sadly demonstrated in the conduct of the worst of men, who have heaped upon the inoffensive false accusations and acts of violence. As to the Christians' omission of acts enjoined by Jesus, we will point out
First, The non-adoption by Christians of the precept to sell their property and distribute among the poor the money thus realized: Matthew 19:21, and Luke 18:22. No Christian, according to our knowledge, ever acquiesces in this mode of doing charity.
Secondly, The Christians do not practise the following admonition, contained in Luke 6:35, "Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, and hope for nothing again"; and Matthew 5:44, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you."
Thirdly, The Christians have, without authority, abolished the law, repeated in the New Testament, that they should abstain from eating blood and the flesh of the strangled, as we have shewn in the preceding chapter, by citing Acts 15:29, and 21:25.
If Christians thus evade well-defined doctrines of the New Testament, they cannot cast any reproach on the Jew, who, from conscientious motives, refuses adherence to the new doctrines of the Christian religion.
Thus we have fairly established our objections to Christianity in the various arguments adduced in the preceding chapters, wherein we have refuted the attacks made by Christians upon the Jewish faith.
Let not the reader blame us for having occasionally made repetitions. Our desire has by no means been to swell the volume, but merely to render our arguments more clear and effective.
End or the First Part.
Copyright © 2008 JCR
All research and online books are
original to this site unless otherwise noted.