Two that sit together and are occupied in the words of
Torah have the Shekinah in their midst, for it is said,
"Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to
another; and the Lord listened and heard, and a book
of remembrance was written before Him, for those
who feared the Lord and thought upon His name."
Pirkei Avot 3:2/Malachi 3:16
The primary object of the following pages is to make Christianity better understood of Jews. For nothing is more astounding to Christian people than the strange notions about it which Jews still hold. The author, indeed, cannot hope to be always right in his own statements about Judaism, though he is much encouraged by the fact that none of the Jewish reviews of the first volume pointed out any errors in this respect,* but Jewish writers go wrong not so much in details as in their general idea of what Christianity is, and especially of what it holds with regard to Christ Himself. Further, they often assume that Christianity is identical with Roman Catholicism. This is not unnatural on the part of non-Christians, but it is not true. In any case, not Roman Catholicism but the New Testament alone is the standard adopted in this work. No doubt, however, as the author belongs to the Anglican branch of the Catholic Church, he is inclined to regard the New Testament from the standpoint of the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-nine Articles.* Naturally they disagreed both with the work as a whole, and with some of its interpretations of the Old Testament in detail.The Jewish writer of a review of the first volume complained that the book was a petitio principii, on the ground that the truth of the Christian religion was assumed, and therefore it had no force for a Jew. Naturally, a Christian must assume the truth of Christianity, and he has only to consider how best he may expound it and defend it. In the present case the form adopted is due to the fact that there has not been in English any systematic reply to the arguments of R. Isaac of Troki, and that these arguments are used to-day, with hardly any change, by almost every Jew who writes about Christianity. R. Isaac's work is in two parts, the First on the Old Testament, which has been considered in the first volume, the Second on the New Testament, which is the subject of this. He found it impossible to keep the two subjects quite distinct, but a mere repetition of arguments has been avoided here.
It was originally proposed to produce a third volume dealing with other and newer arguments put forth by Jews, but if that volume is ever written it will be on such very different lines from these that it will require a new name, and be an independent work. It needs to be done by some one, and the present writer cannot but hope that these two volumes may in some measure have prepared the ground for it.
For the attacks of Judaism upon Christianity are certain to become stronger as Jews acquire more independence and power, and Christian people will be obliged to arouse themselves out of their lethargy if they are not to lose the day. It is the duty of us Christians to study Judaism, and, with increasing knowledge of it, to present to Jews our blessed Lord Jesus as the true Messiah of Jews and Gentiles alike.
There is another matter which may not be passed over. The writer has been blamed by some for dealing too tenderly with his opponents, and especially for acknowledging that they are sometimes in the right. Yet absolute frankness is in the end by far the best policy, and the wrath of man has never yet forwarded the righteousness of God. The writer also has but little sympathy with those godly and earnest Christians who are unable to see the spiritual side of the religion of modern Jews. For, after all, it, and nothing less, has been the salt which has preserved the Jewish nation until now, in spite of the officialism that has only too often hampered its development.
Lastly, it is a privilege to be allowed to write at a time when the first stage in the fulfillment of God's many promises to the Jews is already accomplished, in the deliverance of the Holy Land from its oppressors. May that Land soon become the home of a Nation of Jews who little by little learn to recognize the Glory of their greatest Son, acknowledging Him as King and LORD.
A. L. W.
The Festival of the Conversion of St. Paul, 1919
THE PREAMBLE (הצעה) TO PART II.
296] In Part 2 R. Isaac leaves the Old Testament as such, and turns to examine the New Testament itself. With the change of subject he makes also some change in method. For he deals much more concisely with each point under discussion. Hence, although the Second Part contains 100 sections as against 50 in the First Part, it fills in Deutsch's edition only 72 pages as against 282.
After stating that his text-book for the New Testament has been the latest translation made by Simon Budny in 1572 A.D. (into Polish), the Rabbi writes a brief Introduction to this Second Part, the object of which is to represent the New Testament as completely untrustworthy. He begins by saying that although Christians affirm that the Gospel is a new Law, the Gospel itself never says that Jesus gave a new Law, but, on the contrary, that He affirmed the permanence of the Law of Moses.
We have already considered this statement in our examination of Part 1 Chapters 19, 20, 29, paragraphs 179, 180-181, 230-233.
297] The Rabbi then makes the amazing assertion that it is well known that the New Testament was not written till the time of Constantine, three hundred years after the death of Jesus. He refers to Part 1, Chapter 2, but he does not actually say so there, nor is it a necessary deduction from what he does say.** His words are: "Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to accept the religion of Jesus," adding וחקק תורת הנוצרים, which Deutsch, apparently translates by "und als Staatsreligion einfuhrte," i.e. "made it the religion of the State." R. Isaac, as it seems, now interprets his own words to mean, "wrote the law of the Christians."But it is not worth while delaying the reader with a refutation of so absurd a statement.** In virtue, however, of the fact that the statement is repeated in some quite recent Jewish books, it may be well to point out; (1) Though R. Isaac says the New Testament was not written till three hundred years after the time of Jesus, translations of it were made in Latin and Syriac at least as soon as a hundred and twenty years after His death; (2) Allusions to it are found in writings composed less than ninety years after His death (Ignatius's Letters, the Epistle of Polycarp, the Epistle of Barnabas); (3) St. Paul died less than forty years after the death of Jesus, and there are very few scholars of our time who deny that he wrote most of the Epistles attributed to him; (4) The earliest of these (1 Thessalonians) was written in 50 or 51 A.D., i.e. not more than twenty-one years after the death of Jesus, and presupposes throughout the chief events recorded in the Gospels; (5) Harnack, who certainly holds no brief for orthodox Christianity, dates the Gospel according to St. Mark at least as early as 50-60 A.D.He goes on to say that if the New Testament was written long after Jesus' death, He evidently could not have given the new Law. But no Christian has ever supposed that Jesus wrote the New Testament. We say only that it contains a true record of His life, His teaching, His death, and His resurrection. But, replies the Rabbi, Jerome in his Preface to the books of the New Testament says that Mark and Luke wrote things they had heard from others, meaning that they wrote long after the death of Jesus, for they were not born during His lifetime. How strange it is that so learned a man as R. Isaac could have made so childish a remark!* Jerome was but following the statements of the New Testament itself in pointing out that neither Mark nor Luke was one of the Twelve Apostles (though plainly enough they were both born during our Lord's life on earth), and that therefore they had not themselves seen and heard what they recorded. But the Rabbi might have known also that Jerome in the same place speaks of Mark as the interpreter of Peter himself, and that he wrote down what Peter preached. Further, no one doubts that St. Peter had seen and heard everything, so that if St. Mark wrote down his words there is not much room left for inaccuracy! R. Isaac's appeal to Jerome weakens, instead of strengthens, his argument.* Had the Rabbi turned to the actual words of Jerome he would have seen his mistake: "Secundus Marcus, interpres Apostoli Petri, et Alexandrinae Ecclesiae primus Episcopus, qui Dominum quidem Salvatorem ipse non vidit, sed ea quae magistrum audierat praedicantem, juxta fidem magis gestorum narravit, quam ordinem. Tertius Lucas Medicus, natione Syrus Antiochensis (cujus laus in Evangelio) qui et ipse discipulus Apostoli Pauli, in Achajae, Boeotiaeque partibus volumen condidit, quaedam altius repetens, et ut ipse in Prooemio confitetur, audita magis, quam visa describens" (Vallarai, vii. 4).298] Yet, says R. Isaac, the Gospels contradict each other! But they all agree about the important facts. What more would he have? Had their agreement extended to every little detail of action and word he would have been the first to cry: "This is not natural; there must have been collusion; there never were in all the ages of the world three or four witnesses (however truthful) who agreed in everything, unless they had arranged together beforehand what exactly to say." No, the very disagreement about small points, and unimportant words, shows the independence, and the general trustworthiness, of the writers. Cf. paragraph 368.
299] Lastly, R. Isaac calls attention to the disagreement between the words of quotations from the Old Testament and the words in the Old Testament itself; and he adds that often not only the words of such passages are changed, but also their meaning. With this objection of R. Isaac's we have already dealt briefly in paragraphs 137-142 and elsewhere, to which we would refer our readers. Here it must suffice to say bluntly that the divergence of the quotations in the New Testament, whether in words, or in meaning, or in both, is no greater than that of the quotations found in the Talmud and the Rabbinic writings. The writers of the New Testament were Jews (except presumably St. Luke, who wrote the Third Gospel and the Acts), and they quoted and explained the Old Testament after a Jewish fashion. We could not expect them to do anything else. R. Isaac was a Karaite, so perhaps did not himself indulge in such Midrashic methods. But the Karaites arose long after the time of the writers of the New Testament, who naturally pursued the methods of their contemporaries and fellow-Jews.
1. THE GENEALOGIES OF THE LORD JESUS.
300] These have been fully discussed in paragraphs 8-13. See also infra, Chapter 35, paragraphs 408, sq.
2. THE VIRGIN.(Matt 1:22, 23) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us
(Isa 7:14) Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
301] This also has been considered in paragraphs 186-191.
3. THE PERPETUAL VIRGINITY OF MARY.(Matt 1:25) And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. Chapter 3
302] R. Isaac says that this doctrine is contradicted by Matthew 1:25. Even if this be so, it is not of great importance, for the doctrine is at best only a pious opinion, not contained in the Creed, nor belonging to the foundation of faith. R. Isaac, no doubt, thought that it was, for round him lived many Romanists. Here he says that Mary's other sons were James, Joses, Simon and Judas (cf. Chapter 17). Perhaps so, but on the whole the older tradition, which "seems especially to represent the Palestinian view," is more probable, that these were the half brothers of our Lord, sons of Joseph by a former wife.** See the classical discussion on this subject in Bishop Lightfoot's Galatians.303] R. Isaac also is surprised that Joseph did not "call His name Immanuel," after the prophecy. Had he done so, however, the Rabbi would certainly have suspected fraudulent agreement with it. According to Christian teaching the title, "God with us," was completely fulfilled when the Divine Person took human nature. See paragraph 191.
4. CHRIST AND EGYPT.(Matt 2:15) And 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.
(Hosea 11:1) When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
Chapter 4. Compare Part 1, Chapter 45.
304] R. Isaac says that these words quoted by St. Matthew from the book of the Prophet Hosea do not in reality refer to Jesus at all, but to the nation of Israel. For the whole sentence is, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." So also God speaks to Moses: "Thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, my firstborn: and I have said unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me" (Exo 4:22, 23).
Now it may be granted at once that no Christian scholar of to-day supposes that Hosea consciously referred to Christ. "Son" is evidently the nation of Israel. So far R. Isaac is right. But I ask: Did St. Matthew think that Hosea referred consciously to Christ? I see no sign that St. Matthew did. Why then did he quote the passage, with the prefatory words, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet"? The answer to this is of deep importance for understanding not only this passage but also many other passages in the New Testament.
305] St. Matthew did not want to prove anything, as, for example, that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah because He went down to Egypt as Hosea said He would, but he desired to illustrate the history of Jesus from the history of the Jews. Jesus the Messiah, writes St. Matthew, went down into Egypt. "Down into Egypt," we can imagine a Jew crying, "that seems strange for Messiah." Not at all, answers St. Matthew, even Israel went down there in the childhood of the nation, as Hosea says. And further, the suggestion lies close at hand that as Egypt was connected with the beginning of a new era for the people so also was a new era connected with the visit of Jesus. I grant that St. Matthew loves to draw parallels between the history of Messiah and that of Israel, and even to find it fitting that He who was the noblest flower of the stock of Israel should correspond perfectly to Israel, but what of that? Did not the Rabbis themselves love to draw parallels between Israel and its parent stock of Abraham?* If one Jew does this, may not another Jew ? Wherein is the harm ? Save perhaps that no liberty of thought, no brilliancy of illustration is to be allowed to a Jew who is also a believer in Jesus ! No, in his case everything must be taken as literally as possible, lest after all it be seen too convincingly that the writers of the New Testament were thorough Jews, none the less so for their faith in Jesus, and thus some of the old controversial weapons employed by Jews for centuries should be found worthless!* See the Breshith R. on Genesis 12:20, Chapter 40 end, where it is said, "Everything that is written of Abraham is written of his children," in proof of which statement eleven examples are given, amongst them, "Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there" (Gen 12:10), and "our fathers went down into Egypt" (Num 20:15).306] Or is the fault that Messiah is termed God's Son? Hardly. No learned Jew can find fault with that. The Nation of Israel is called God's son in Exodus 4:22, 23; the King of Israel is called God's son in Psalm 2:7; and in the Talmud this second Psalm is applied to Messiah.* See Rashi on T. B. Sukkah, 520, "To-day have I begotten Thee: To-day I will reveal to creation that Thou art My Son."
את מוצא כל מה שכתוב באברהם כתוב בבניו וגו
היום ילדתיך׃ היום אגלה לבריות שבגי אתה* On the second Psalm, see paragraphs 480-493.No, it is not the word "Son," when used of Messiah, to which Jews can object; it is the full meaning of the word which is given to it by Christians. But it is unjustifiable to turn round and blame a Christian man, such as St. Matthew was, for applying the term "Son" to Messiah, without at the same time defining the point to which objection is taken. I repeat once more that St. Matthew's object was not to furnish a proof for the divinity of Messiah, who, as he believed, was Jesus of Nazareth, but only to illustrate His history, and to enlarge on the treatment He received. "The King of the Jews, like the Jewish nation itself, left Palestine and took refuge in Egypt, and then returned to Palestine again" (Plummer on Matt 2:14). Hosea 11:1 is not a proof-text in the ordinary sense of the word, and cannot be used for one. But St. Matthew was fully justified in quoting it.
5. RACHEL WEEPING.(Matt 2:16-18) Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. Chapter 5
307] See the discussion of the quotation from Jeremiah 31:15 in Part 1, Chapter 28, paragraphs 228 sq. Observe also that in Jeremiah happiness and blessing follow lamentation. So in the mind of the Evangelist the massacre connected with the infancy of Christ was a prelude to His appearance as the Deliverer.
6. NAZARETH.Matt 2:22, sq. "And being warned of God in a dream, he [i.e. Joseph] withdrew into the parts of Galilee, and came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, that he [i.e. Jesus] should be called a Nazarene." Chapter 6
308] Upon this passage R. Isaac remarks: "With regard to this Matthew had a false dream, for this saying is nowhere to be found among the sayings of the prophets."
The difficulty of the passage is well known, for it is a fact that the saying, "He shall be called a Nazarene," is not to be found in the Old Testament. So far the Rabbi is right. Was then St. Matthew wrong? That is another question altogether. My readers, I trust, will have learned by this time to look somewhat below the surface when they meet with a quotation, or what looks like a quotation, in the New Testament, just as they are accustomed to look below the surface with almost every quotation of the Old Testament in the Talmudic writings. For all Talmudic scholars know that quotations from the Bible have more than meets the eye at the first glance.
309] Yes, the passage is no quotation in the strict sense of the word. But we must not forget that Messiah is called a Nezer (נצר) in Isaiah 11:1 ("And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit"), as the Targum itself testifies, when it translates נצר by Messiah:
ויפוק מלכא מבנוהי דישי ומשיחא מבני בנוהי יתרבי׃
Every learned Jew knows that it was quite in accordance with Jewish custom to make such a play on words as is implied in our passage in the First Gospel. Jesus lived at Nazareth, for the Prophets said He was to be a Nezer. Of course in these days no Christian would use this as "a proof-text," a text, namely, to prove to an opponent that the Old Testament said that the Messiah was to live at Nazareth. But St. Matthew never intended his words to have this meaning, or to be so used. He was writing for Jewish Christians like himself, themselves called Nazarenes, and he was pleased to discover in the Old Testament by Jewish methods an allusion to Nezer as a name of Messiah. It is worth noticing that in much the same way the legendary list of five of our Lord's disciples, recorded in T. B. Sanhedrin, 43a, gives the names of one of them as Nezer, and adduces Isaiah 11:1 in an argument on his behalf.
310] We thus see that the "quotation" in Matthew 2:22, sq., is fully in accordance with Jewish modes of illustrating facts and doctrines from passages in the Old Testament, although these had nothing to do with the case in point according to their proper and literal meaning. As we have seen repeatedly, the writer of the First Gospel believed in the Messiahship of Jesus on quite independent grounds, and for the edification of himself and his fellow-believers illustrated his belief from the Old Testament by methods which large numbers of Jews of his day adopted. Can any thoughtful Jew blame him for this?** It should also be borne in mind that the title צמח ("Branch"), which is used of Messiah in Jeremiah 23:5, and recognized by the Jews as a Messianic term, may have had something to do with the mention of נצר, a word of similar import. Perhaps St. Matthew's reference to "the prophets" (in the plural) is in favour of this.
7. THE TEMPTATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.(Matt 4:1-11) Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
(Mark 1:12, 13) And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
(Luke 4:1-13) And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
311] R. Isaac asserts that the story of the Temptation shows that Jesus could not have been God, for Satan would be afraid to tempt God, and also God could not be tempted, nor led about against His will. The whole story, he adds, is plainly the nonsensical product of ignorant men.
Let us see whether this harsh verdict is justified. After all, these ignorant men have moved the world! Perhaps there is more even in this narrative than is visible to so sharp-sighted a critic as R. Isaac.
If Jesus was God, he says, Satan would have been afraid to tempt Him. But why assume that Satan knew He was God? Have we any reason to suppose that Satan is omniscient? It is at least within the bounds of possibility that this was hidden from him. Or again, and this is much more probable, Satan may have known Jesus better than R. Isaac knew Him, and may have understood that even though Jesus was God, yet inasmuch as He was also man He could be tempted as man. For it is in this very point that, as we have seen again and again, R. Isaac misunderstands the whole doctrine of Christianity. This rests on the foundation-belief that Jesus was as perfectly man as He was perfectly God, not "half-man and half-God," but wholly God and wholly man. If so, it stands to reason that as man He could be subject to temptation, or, so far, He would be exempt from the common lot and experience of man. If the first Adam was tempted, the Second must be tempted also.
312] If then Jesus, as the New Testament teaches us, was entirely man, as well as God, it was necessary for Him to undergo temptation. Suppose, therefore, that the story of the Temptation were false, it might well be no mere nonsense due to the vapourings of a frivolous mind, as the Rabbi thinks, but might still contain deep spiritual truths. On the other hand, if the story be true, as we believe (for it is all of a piece with the doctrine of the Incarnation), it is of the very greatest value. We learn from it, for example, that temptation is necessary for all, that it is part of the process by which spiritual advance is made. Also we see that sin is no necessary part of human life. For a sinless Being, though man, can resist temptation. We may gather also that the more completely a person resists temptation the more deeply he feels the attack. He who yields to temptation can never have gauged its full force; it must always have contained a further degree of strength which the Arch-tempter did not find necessary to bring to bear upon him. But He who fights so successfully that He endures the whole extent of the temptation, and comes off conqueror, knows how sore and bitter a thing temptation can really be. Hence He is able to sympathize to the uttermost with all who are tempted, however fierce the temptation to which they are exposed.
313] Observe, secondly, from the history of the Temptation, that even a sinless human Being must use the right means if He is to overcome. It was by no accident, but by the very necessity of the case, that the Lord Jesus quoted Scripture as His weapon against Satan. Neither, may we add, was it by accident, but in accordance with psychological probability, that the passages He cited were, as it seems, verses that He had learned as a child. It is in times of stress and danger that our earliest lessons produce their full effect upon us.** Our Lord's three quotations are from Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16, 13. Every child learned portions of Deuteronomy (6:4-9, 11:13-21), as included in the Shma', and it is probable that neighbouring portions were often added.314] Thus the Temptation is all of a piece with the perfect humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the description of Him in the New Testament. If it be granted that Jesus was fully man as well as fully God, then some such temptation as that related in the Gospels was to be expected, especially if the narrative of His Baptism be accepted as historical. Grant that Jesus was baptized, then we must allow also that a temptation of special strength was likely to follow it. Consider the circumstances. Jesus, brought up as a carpenter at Nazareth, had dedicated Himself to His work. He had been baptized, and, we are told, had heard a voice of encouragement, and had received an outpouring of the Holy Ghost. He had then been led up by the Spirit into solitude.
315] When we endeavour to understand ever so slightly the mind of Jesus at this time, what can we discover? It may be presumed that He had been brought up in the common opinion of His contemporaries, that Messiah was to be a great king, leading the Jews to victorious war against Gentile nations, whom He was to subdue and bring under the yoke of the kingdom of God by their submission to Judaism. Seeing then that He was man, with absolutely human thoughts and feelings, and limited by the conditions of His Incarnation to human methods of plan and action, surely it is probable, not to say certain, that after His formal consecration to His work He should consider the best method of accomplishing it. Perhaps one object of the descent of the Holy Spirit was to make things more clear to His human understanding. If so, what wonder that His time of meditation in the wilderness should also be a time of conflict? What wonder that the arch-fiend should use whatever powers over nature he possessed (and of the extent of these powers we are supremely ignorant) to suggest to Him (for there is no hint that such a doubt originated with Jesus), and to convince Him, that spiritual means alone would be insufficient to accomplish His purpose? Jesus was starving! Why not, since all power was at His disposal, change the breadlike stones into actual food? Convinced, however, that human life does not depend ultimately on material food, Jesus will wait, and trust His Father. He will work miracles later, but He will work none for Himself. Satan sees that Jesus can trust! He suggests to Him, therefore, that He should trust God's protection utterly, even to the specific word of promise in the Psalms, that God's angels should keep Him against dashing His feet against a stone. "See," he says, "Thou art standing on the Temple's pinnacle above the Temple area, or rather [if the interpretation be right] on the very edge of the precipitous ravine on the eastern side of the Temple wall, show then Thy trust!" But Jesus can distinguish between trust and presumption. Where God calls He will follow, and will be safe; otherwise He has no warrant to expect protection. Man may not thrust himself out into needless dangers.** Edersheim writes; "Jesus stands on the watch-post which the white-robed priest has just quitted. Fast the rosy morning-light, deepening into crimson, and edged with gold, is spreading over the land. In the Priests' Court below Him the morning-sacrifice has been offered. The massive Temple-gates are slowly opening, and the blast of the priests' silver trumpets is summoning Israel to begin a new day by appearing before their Lord. Now then let Him descend, Heaven-borne, into the midst of priests and people. What shouts of acclamation would greet His appearance! What homage of worship would be His! The goal can at once be reached, and that at the head of believing Israel" (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 1887, i. 304). The brilliancy of the word-painting almost blinds us to the fact of the absence of the smallest hint of the presence of the priests and people. This interpretation also implies that Jesus was already visible where He stood on the pinnacle, in itself a matter that would demand grave inquiry. It is interesting to notice that in T. J. Peak, viii. 9  (21b) the devil quotes Scripture, and is answered by another text.316] Both these, however, were but lesser forms of temptation. With men of power beyond their fellows Satan employs a form much more subtle and enticing. Jesus was Messiah! Let Him then use the means. All the powers and opportunities of this world should be placed at His disposal, if He would but acknowledge Satan in some degree as the rightful master of the world, using (as the phrase seems to mean) methods generally in vogue, which, by reason of the fact that they were not based on trust in God, were ultimately due to evil influence. But Jesus answers: "Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." The reply is final. For it cuts up by the roots all suggestion that He will win His victories, and accomplish His work, by worldly means. It is God, God alone, whom He will obey and follow, God alone to whom He will look for the gift of a world. The result is that He is able to say in the closing verses of the First Gospel, "all authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Matt 28:18).
317] Thus the narrative of the Temptation is no idle tale, but fits in admirably with the rest of the message of the New Testament. For the central lesson of the narrative is that the work of Messiah is to be spiritual, and the means He uses are to be spiritual also. Material and external victories are not necessarily the road to spiritual conquest. His method is to start from within and to work outwards, to purify the heart, knowing that by so doing the life will gradually correspond. Herein indeed lies for all time the great contrast between the religion of the world and that of the Lord Jesus. True success (He will teach us), true victory, lies not in the Law, but in the Promise; not in Works, but in Grace; not in the Flesh, but in the Spirit.
8. THE LIGHT IN GALILEE.(Matt 4:13-16) "And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, and in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, Toward the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, The people which sat in darkness saw a great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, to them did light spring up."
(Isa 9:1, 2 [8:23; 9:1, Heb.]) "In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time hath he made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. They that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
318] R. Isaac complains that the Evangelist purposely misinterpreted the quotation from Isaiah by omitting all reference to the context, and he proceeds to give his own explanation of it. This is to the effect that the prophet referred, first, to the comparatively light affliction of the country under Tiglath-Pileser, and then to the much more heavy affliction of it under Sennacherib. For this reason too the prophet mentions both the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan, that he may include the borders of the Holy Land, west and east. The Gentiles then are those strangers who lived in the midst of Israel, as well as the Philistines on its borders. The Light refers to God's deliverance of Israel by the destruction of Sennacherib. Israel then was raised on high among the nations by this deliverance wrought on her behalf, and its joy was increased in its thanksgiving in the Temple, while the joy of the enemy was not increased. The following verses then refer to the destruction of the enemy by the angel of God, and the prophecy is connected with the son who was born to Ahaz, namely Hezekiah, who was more than nine years old when the prophecy was given.
319] The Rabbi's explanation, however, is rather grossly inaccurate. In the first place, he can hardly be right in his interpretation of הקל and הכביד, although it is that of the English Authorized Version ("he lightly afflicted," "did more grievously afflict"), for surely the emphasis of the passage is laid upon the greatness of the light and the glory that is to come. The translation adopted by the English Revised Version, and by most scholars of our time, is far more probable, viz. "he brought into contempt," "hath he made it glorious."
In the second place, it is hardly possible to drag in the conquests of Sennacherib and the deliverance of Judah (not Israel, for by that time the Northern Kingdom had fallen) as early as these verses. They clearly refer to the North, and to the North alone. The prophet, that is to say, desires to comfort Northern Israel for its losses, and foretells the glorious Light that shall one day shine upon it.* No one who acknowledges the greatness of Jesus of Nazareth can fail to find in the language of this passage of the Book of Isaiah a fitting illustration (to say the very least) of His work.*** We assume that Isaiah 9:1b (8:23b, Heb.) is genuine. Of course, if it is an addition by a later editor, 9:2 (9:1, Heb.) and succeeding verses have no connexion with Galilee, then it was only the editor who contrasted the contempt for Galilee with its future glory, not Isaiah himself. But we have to deal with the text as we find it.320] Having shown that it is quite allowable to see in the words of the Prophet an indication of the great light that shone on Galilee in the person of the Lord Jesus, we turn to consider very briefly the form in which the Evangelist presents them. In the first place, he omits all direct mention of the contrast of the contempt and the glory. Therefore after mentioning Zebulun, Naphtali and Galilee, etc., he at once declares that on this people which had been in darkness there arose a great light. He assumes it as well known that Galilee had been in darkness. To this statement, at least, no Talmudically trained Jew is likely to object For the Talmud has many well-known passages affirming the ignorance of the Galileans in legal matters, which was due largely to their inaccuracy of pronunciation.*
** Mr. C. G. Montefiore in his Commentary on the passage in St. Matthew writes: "The obscure passage from Isaiah, here quoted with various modifications from the original Hebrew text, is, however, a Messianic prophecy" (The Synoptic Gospels, 1909, p. 471).
B. H. Gebhardt quotes the following passage from the Zohar on the authority of the Yalqut Chadash, p. 142, c. 4: "Messiah will be revealed first of all in Galilee, for there the Captivity began" (Centum loca Novi Testamenti, 1699, p. 25).
But I have not been able to verify the quotation, and it sounds suspiciously like a tradition manipulated in the interests of Christian readers. In any case the saying states succinctly one reason that doubtless led the author of the First Gospel to make his quotation.
[JCR - 1. Zohar - Vol. 12 Vayakhel - 43. The resurrection of the dead
493. Rabbi Shimon said, at that time when the dead of the world will arise and prepare themselves to go to the Holy Land, troops upon troops shall rise upon the land of the Galilee. For there King Messiah is destined to be revealed, as this is the portion of Joseph, and the place where they were first broken and whence they were exiled from their habitations to be dispersed among the nations as said "but they are not grieved for the ruin of Joseph" (Amos 6:6).
2. Zohar - Vol. 8 Shemot - 15. The coming of Messiah
100. AND HE EXPLAINS: "For fear of Hashem." This is the trembling of the whole world, "and for the glory OF HIS majesty" is Messiah. "...When He arises to shake the earth terribly..." refers to when MESSIAH will arise and be revealed in the land of Galilee, because this was the first place in the Holy Land that was destroyed BY ASHUR. Therefore, He will be revealed there before any other place, and from there He will stir wars all over the world.
3. Zohar - Vol. 8 Shemot - 15. The coming of Messiah
129. After twelve months, that light will be stretched between the heaven and the earth and rest on in the Land of Galilee, since the exile of Yisrael, NAMELY THE EXILE OF ASHUR, was initiated in Galilee. Then will MESSIAH be revealed from that very same light of the "bird's nest," and return to his place. On that day, the whole earth will tremble as earlier, from one end of heaven to the other end, and then the whole world will see that Messiah has been revealed in the land of Galilee!]* See such passages in Neubauer, La Geographic du Talmud, 1868, pp. 183 sqq., or Buxtorf, Lexicon, 1640, pp. 434 sqq.321] Secondly, the Evangelist seems to put Capernaum on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali, whereas it appears to have been wholly within the boundaries of the latter. In fact, however, the word translated "borders" never means in Matthew the lines dividing the two countries, but their districts (see 2:16, 8:34, etc.). St. Matthew regards the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali as one: so also those of Tyre and Sidon (15:21). In any case, Zebulun was not far off, and numbers of those who frequented Capernaum must have come thence. It may be pointed out that some mention of Zebulun in this connexion was almost imperatively necessary, because Nazareth was in Zebulun, and, though the Light shone at its brightest in Naphtali, it was in Zebulun that it actually arose.** See Zahn in loco. "By the way of the sea" probably means the country lying towards the Mediterranean, i.e. Western Galilee. Then "beyond Jordan" marks the portion adjacent on the east, and "Galilee of the nations" in particular the northern district.322] Lastly, it may be observed that St. Matthew, who had noticed the coming of distant heathen to worship Messiah (2:1-12
), though He was persecuted by the then ruler of the nation, found it very significant that His public activity should begin at a distance from the home of the hierarchy, and in a district which had been the first to suffer from heathen attacks in the past, and possessed at the present moment a population in which there was a great mixture of the heathen element. The Evangelist's quotation of the passage was fully justified.
1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
9. CATCHING MEN ALIVE.(Matt 4:18, 19) "And walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. And he said unto them, Come ye after me; and I will make you fishers of men."
(Luke 5:10) "And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men."
323] R. Isaac bids his readers notice that here by chance Jesus spake the truth, for His aim is to catch men as people catch fish, and just as fish gathered in a net die at once, so men who are caught in the Christians' net cannot have any spiritual life hereafter.
On such a subject as this the Rabbi's jokes are unseemly, and not worthy the attention of serious thinkers. For every educated man is aware that there are few metaphors which cannot be pressed to mean something absurd, and contradictory to the general sense of the passage in which they are found. In case, however, any one be found inclined to take his remarks seriously, it may be well to point out that the word translated "catch" in St. Luke is a technical word meaning to take alive, and does not contain the least hint of death as the result, but rather the reverse. The thought of Jesus' words is that of saving from the ocean of sin, and bringing into life eternal. There is, it may be added, no suggestion of the death to sin through which every true believer passes, or of the suffering endured by many Christians in the cause of Christ, suffering sometimes even to death, in the case of converts from heathenism, Mohammedanism, and even Judaism.
10. THE PERMANENCE OF THE LAW.(Matt 5:17-19) 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. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
(Luke 16:17) And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
324] R. Isaac has already discussed this subject at greater length in Part 1, Chapter 19. See paragraphs 173-179, also The Hebrew-Christian Messiah, Lect. V.
11. "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES."(Matt 5:44) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Chapter 11** Paragraphs 325-332 are taken almost verbatim from The Hebrew-Christian Messiah, pp. 167-176.
325] A fierce battle has been waged round these words; on the part of Christians to prove that the Jews knew nothing of the precept, "Love your enemies"; on the part of Jews to show that it contains nothing new, for Jews have always taught it, and practised it much better than Christians.
It may, however, be questioned whether either party in the strife has taken the trouble to recognize certain facts, and it may, therefore, be worth while to attempt to state the more important of these.** Observe that when our Lord quotes the words, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy," He does not say by whom this saying was uttered. He does not even add, as He does in verses 21 and 33, that it was said "to them of old time." This is important, for, if we assume with many Jewish writers, that He was speaking directly of the contents of the Law of Moses, we are going further than the language warrants. It is more probable that He had in His mind the popular teaching of His time, which, however, as we fully grant, made the claim to have been handed down from of old.326] The first is that at the time when Christ quoted the precept: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy," it did truly represent the common teaching and practice of men in general. No one will deny this in the case of the non-Jewish nations;* and, unless their statements about the Jews are wholly untrustworthy, the impression produced by Jews upon non-Jews was in accordance with it. Jews did appear to Gentiles to be kind to members of their own race, but to them only.** Further, we all know that in the early days of the Hebrew nation, when public justice was weak, much was left to the action of the individual, and he who was wronged satisfied justice by personal retaliation on his enemy, his private enemy, though not one of the enemies of his nation, nor necessarily an enemy of his God.*** It is true that in the time of Christ public justice was better administered than of old, but it was very far from perfect, and there is no reason to think that the common doctrine and practice of Jews towards other Jews was greatly altered. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy," did represent the popular teaching and practice of the day.* Among them "preparing for enemies things of enmity" (Aesch. Agam. 1374) was both the normal state of a man and also his duty; as Euripides says: "Be it thine, my son, to be friendly to thy friends, and to hate thine enemies" (Herc. Fur. 585, quoted by Wetstein).327] The second fact is that in the atmosphere in which the Lord Jesus was brought up there were currents breathing the warm air of love towards all men. It cannot be denied by fair-minded scholars that this precept of "Love your enemies" is found essentially, both as theory and as practice, in the Old Testament, as well as in other Jewish teaching earlier than the time of Christ. Read 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 see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt help with him." Read Leviticus 19:17, 18: "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour, and not bear sin because of him. Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." True, that in this last passage the reference is exclusively to fellow-Hebrews, "the children of thy people," and therefore we may not find in it a direction to treat all men kindly, in spite of their enmity, and regardless of whatsover nationality they may possess, but for the moment we are not considering this. The point is that the Jew is directed by the Law to show love towards his personal enemy. So again the words of Job tell us that anything like joy at disaster to such an enemy is contrary to the mind of God, for we find Him saying: "If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him" (Job 31:29). That this kind of instruction did not remain only a matter of theory, but was carried out into practice by the best men, is seen by the behaviour of David to Saul twice over (1 Sam 24 and 26). A later passage of Scripture teaches us the same duty, though it appends two reasons which hardly belong to the highest strata of ideal ethics: "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee" (Pro 25:21, 22). And we may perhaps adopt the more charitable explanation of Proverbs 24:17: "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he is overthrown: lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him,"* that this means "from him to thee," because of thy selfish joy in his shame.**
** As Tacitus says: "With each other resolute trust, ever-ready pity: but towards all others enmity and hatred" (Hist. v. 5). Consider also Ecclus. xii. 4.
*** For the Curse on apostates and Hebrew-Christians in the early forms of the Eighteen Benedictions see The Hebrew-Christian Messiah, pp. 163-165, Compare also T. B. Taanith 7b. "Rabba bar Huna said: 'In the case of any man who is arrogant, it is permissible to call him "wicked," for it is said, "The wicked man hath hardened his face"' (Pro 21:29). R. Nachman bar Isaac said: "It is permissible to hate him, for it is said, "The hardness of his face is changed" (Eccl 8:1); read not, "is changed," (יְשֻׁנֶּא) but "one shall hate"' (יִשְׂנׇא); i.e. one shall hate the hardness of his face.* It is, by the by, worthy of notice that in the best texts of Aboth iv. 19 (26), R. Samuel the Little, or the Younger, makes this passage his own, without the addition of the last two clauses. It may be that by this time (about 125 A.D.) higher motives were generally accepted. But this did not prevent him from composing the curse on the heretics in the Eighteen Benedictions.328] Similar teaching may be found in post-Biblical Jewish books which were written either before the time of Christ, or approximately at the same time. In Ecclus. xxviii. 2 we read: "Forgive thy neighbour the hurt that he hath done thee; and then thy sins shall be pardoned when thou prayest." Still plainer examples are to be seen in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Issachar vii. 6: "I loved the Lord; likewise also every man with all my heart." Zebulun viii.: "Have, therefore, yourselves also, my children, compassion towards every man with mercy, that the Lord also may have mercy upon you. . . . For in the degree in which a man hath compassion upon his neighbours, in the same degree hath the Lord also upon him. . . . Do not set down in account (i.e. as a ledger account), each one of you, evil against his brother." Dan. v. 3: "Love the Lord through all your life, and one another with a true heart." Gad. vi. 1, 3: "And now, my children, I exhort you, love ye each one his brother, and put away hatred from your hearts, and love one another in deed, and in word, and in the inclination of the soul. . . . Love ye one another, therefore, from the heart; and if a man speak against thee, cast forth the poison of hate and speak peaceably to him, and in thy soul hold not guile; and if he confess and repent, forgive him"; vii. 7: "Put away, therefore, jealousy from your souls, and love one another with uprightness of heart." Joseph xvii. 2: "Do ye also love one another, and with long-suffering hide ye one another's faults"; xviii. 2: "And if any one seeketh to do evil unto you, do well unto him, and pray for him, and ye shall be redeemed of the Lord from all evil."
** See Dr. I. Abrahams, Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, 1917, p. 152.
329] Still more striking is the saying in the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, l. 3, 4, which is thought to be not later than 50 A.D.: "Every wound, and every affliction, and every evil word and attack, endure for the sake of the Lord. And when you might have vengeance do not repay, either your neighbour or your enemy. For God will repay as your avenger in the day of the great judgment. Let it not be for you to take vengeance." So again Philo writes (on Exo 23:4; de Humanitate, Chap. 15, Young's translation iii. 439): "If you see the beast of one who is thy enemy wandering about, leave the excitements to quarrelling to more perverse dispositions, and lead the animal back and restore him to his owner; for so you will not be benefiting him more than yourself: since he will by this means save only an irrational beast which is perhaps of no value, but you will get the greatest and most valuable of all things in nature, namely, excellence. And there will follow of necessity, as sure as shadow follows a body, the dissolution of your enmity." We know very little of Hillel, but the following sentence may, no doubt, rightly be attributed to him: "Be of the disciples of Aaron; loving peace, and pursuing peace; loving mankind, and bringing them nigh to the Torah" (Aboth 1. 12 ). So also his charge, good enough as far as it goes, "What is hateful to thyself do not to thy fellow: this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary" (T.B. Sabb. 31a), following in the wake of Tobit iv. 15, "What thou thyself hatest, do to no man."
330] Can, however, this be said of the Talmud and later Jewish writings, which claim to have absorbed the essence of pre-Christian Judaism? Can such a spirit of love be attributed to them? On the whole, yes. I am indeed well aware that passages are often quoted from the Talmud, as well as from Maimonides and other writers, to the effect that Gentiles are to be treated unscrupulously, and the commonest actions of ordinary humanity are not to be shown them. But in some of the cases cited the rules were due to fear of complicating matters with the Gentile authorities, who were ever on the look-out for opportunities of accusing the Jews of proselytizing, and in others they represented only the opinions of individual teachers.** See also the catena on the subject in the Jewish Encyclopedia, s.v. Gentile, v. pp. 617 sqq. On the Golden Rule see C. Taylor, Pirqe Aboth, 1897, p. 142.Something, no doubt, must also be attributed to the arrogance of certain Rabbis, especially in their relation to those co-religionists who expressed opinions contrary to their own. No sensible man to-day, it is true, whether Jew or Christian, will claim that the Talmud is a miracle of kindliness, but much less will he affirm that it is the concentration of brutality and ignorance. The prayer at the Daily Morning Service has not been in vain: "Oh my God! guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile; and to such as curse me let my soul be dumb, yea, let my soul be unto all as the dust" (Singer, p. 54).
It may then be fully granted that the saying, "Love your enemies," or its equivalent, was both known to Jews and practised by them before it was spoken by the Lord Jesus, and that, in some degree, it has always been a part of Jewish ethics from the very first.
331] If so, how is it that our Lord can say in so many words: "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies"? Yet why should He not? For though love to enemies was taught in the Law (and He does not say the contrary), and though it was taught by individual Jewish leaders before our Lord's time, or independently of Him about the same time, there is no reason to think that it was ever the popular theory or practice. So far from this, it may be pointed out that the precept "Love your enemies" is not the popular theory or practice even now, either among Jews or Christians. The religion of an ordinary man down to this twentieth century has always permitted hatred of a private enemy.
Popular religion has ever said, "Love thy friend and hate thine enemy." There is still need for Christ to add: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies."* If, however, Christ were to come to us Christians and utter these words now there would be this difference from His language to the Jews of old. He would add: Remember what you have heard from your earliest youth; you have been brought up as Christians, and the essence of Christianity is the news of God's love to men, the very worst of men. You as Christians, and because you are Christians, must endeavour to imitate God. More than this. You as Christians profess to have accepted as your own the wonderful love which God has shown you; surely then you feel your own hearts moved with love to others? Afterwards perhaps He would quote statements of the New Testament to the effect that love is in reality the greatest of all principles (1 Cor 13
); that it sums up the whole Law (Gal 5:14); and that every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God, while he that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love (1 John 4:7, 8).
1 Corinthians 13
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.* "Der beruhmte christliche Maler Anselm Feuerbach mahnt, nach folgendem Grundsatz zu handeln: 'Wenn dich einer auf die rechte Backe schlagt, so gib ihm dafur zwei auf die linke" (Ein Vermachtuis, 11-14 Auflage, Berlin, 1911, p. 258, quoted by J. Scheftelowitz in the Monatschrift fur Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, 1912, p. 369). "He is a fool," said Frederick the Great, "and that nation is a fool, who, having the power to strike his enemy unawares, does not strike and strike his deadliest" (J. A. Cramb, Germany and England, 1914, pp. 42 sq.). Mr. G. Friedlander, by the by, rightly calls attention to the fact that the phrase, "But I say unto you," is found at least once in Philo, Quod det. pot. chap. 43, Cohn's edition, chap. 158 (Hellenism and Christianity, 1912, p. 122),332] We grant, of course, that in Judaism, past and present, love to others is a duty; but in Christianity it is the very central duty of all. We affirm that while the golden thread of love as a moral obligation is visible here and there in the Old Testament and in Jewish books, it enters into the very web and woof of Christ's teaching and of Christianity. The prayer: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), may not be part of the original form of the Third Gospel, but at least it represents the feeling of the early Christian Church, a feeling due to Christ's teaching. His whole existence here on earth, and His endurance of the Cross, were, according to the New Testament (and it is the Jesus of the New Testament whom alone we know), the outcome of love for us sinful men, Jews and Gentiles alike. There is no such transcendent emphasis on love in any other religion. Christianity alone is the religion of love, based on love and carried out by love. But it is not a religion which can be learned by rote; it is not a religion simply of the head. Only so far as it becomes part and parcel of our very life does it become real. Hence, unless an individual Christian appropriates to himself the love of God in Christ, he has not learned in truth what Christianity means, and he may very easily come terribly short in love to others, and treat them with shocking cruelty. Still, in spite of all the failings of its followers, Christianity has been, and still is, the one active religion of love in the world, the one religion that urges its professors to do all, and suffer all, from love to God and man. Jews have never shown a tithe of the activity of love to men which Christians have shown. What is the cause? Love is not the centre of Judaism; it is the centre of Christianity. To quote a well-known commentary on the Epistle to the Romans: "In Christianity this principle, which had been only partially understood and imperfectly taught, which was known only in isolated examples, yet testified to a universal instinct, was finally put forth as the paramount principle of moral conduct, uniting our moral instincts with our highest religious principles. A new virtue, or rather one hitherto imperfectly understood, had become recognized as the root of all virtues, and a new name was demanded for what was practically a new idea" (Sanday-Headlam, Romans, 1896, p. 376). Christ desired to enforce the law of love towards all, whatever might be the relation in which any of His followers stood to others, and whatever the treatment they received. The popular religion was: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy." The Messiah added: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies."* It will be apparent that our Lord's words are interpreted above as referring primarily to the current and popular conception that hatred of an enemy is allowable, or even praiseworthy, whether he be national or personal. But two other explanations may be mentioned. One, earnestly advocated by the present learned Dean of Lichfteld, Dr. Savage, is that our Lord was defending the best Jewish teaching and practice of the time, as regards duty to a foreign nation, and was opposing all hatred of Gentiles, especially of the Roman conquerors The Gospel of the Kingdom, 1910, pp. 126-134. Cf. also Malwyn Hughes, The Ethics of Jewish Apocryphal Literature, 1909, p. 121). But there is nothing to limit the reference of the words to this. The second explanation is that our Lord was speaking against the bitterness of one Jewish sect towards another, as, for example, of the Pharisees towards the Sadducees; or of factions among the Pharisees themselves, as, for example, of the followers of Hillel towards those of Shammai, or again of both Pharisees and Sadducees towards less orthodox sects, as, for instance, the Essenes. But again this interpretation limits the meaning of Christ's words. In reality, He desired to enforce the law of love towards all, whatever might be the relation in which any of His followers stood to others, and whatever the treatment they received.
12. THE SON OF MAN.(Matt 8:20) "And Jesus saith unto him. The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (parallel passage, Luke 9:58). Chapter 12
333] Three objections are raised by R. Isaac with regard to these words. First, if Jesus was God, why did he call himself the Son of man? Secondly, seeing that he does call himself Son of man, it is not fitting that men should trust in him; for Psalm 146:3 says, "Put not your trust in princes, nor in a son of man" (ben-'adam). We read also in Jeremiah 17:5, "Thus saith the LORD: cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD." Thirdly, if Jesus was God, how could he say that he had not where to lay his head, for the whole world is his? "The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof" (Psa 24:1).
334] As to the second of these objections we may point out that it is valid only if Jesus is no more than a son of man, and that, if, on the contrary, there is something about Him which removes Him from the category of ordinary men, this objection fails. As to the third objection, we answer that it is of no weight at all. If it is anything more than a verbal quibble, it is due to a misunderstanding of the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. After all, we must suppose that Jesus did not intend to talk nonsense, and also that the Evangelist who recorded His saying saw some meaning in it. It is quite self-evident that the whole world belongs to God. If, therefore, Jesus was God, and knew Himself to be God, it is plain that He was speaking of something which was not affected by His Godhead. He who spoke was certainly also man, and His hearers, whatever they thought about His Godhead, would understand that He was referring to His state as man. But it is a fact that as man He owned no spot on earth which He could call His own.
335] The first of the Rabbi's questions is of more importance, and demands fuller consideration. Yet observe his carelessness, due, no doubt, to his ignorance of the Greek language, and his trust in Latin, or more probably Polish, neither of which languages has an article (cf. par 274). For he writes, "If Jesus was God, as they say, why did he call himself son of man?" For we may fairly answer that Jesus never calls Himself "son of man."* The Greek phrase at least is always "the Son of man" (ο υιος του ανθρωπου), and if He originally spoke Hebrew the original of this cannot have been בן אדם but בן האדם. It may, indeed, be granted that if the Greek is the translation not of Hebrew but of Aramaic, the meaning of the latter (בר אנשא) is not quite so certain. But as אנשא alone means a human being, we must assume that the בר has some force. In any case, as Dalman,** the greatest living authority on the Palestinian Aramaic of the first century, points out, "בר אנשא like בן האדם is quite unheard of in the older Jewish Aramaic literature. 'The human being' is there called merely אנשא." We can at most, he implies, only think it probable that "בר אנשא was used in the time of the Lord Jesus. He goes on to say that "בר אנשא "must not be rendered simply by 'the human being' (der Mensch), but only by 'the son of man' (der Menschensohn), if the essential character of the expression is not to be entirely obliterated." Further, he says, it is not to be translated by "the son of the man," which would be expressed in Aramaic by ברה דאנשא (literally "his son, that of the man"). It is evident that this last expression in Aramaic, like ο υιος του ανθρωπου, might lead to the false suggestion that the Person so entitled was the son of some man in particular, and was, therefore, nothing more than an ordinary human being. Hence neither in Aramaic nor in Greek would it commend itself for general use by Christians as a title of the Lord Jesus. He Himself indeed, speaking in Jewish surroundings, might use it of Himself, but His followers would shrink from using it of Him, because it could be so very easily misunderstood.* Except in John 5:27, where υιος ανθρωπου is not a title, as is ο υιος του ανθρωπου.336] It would take us very far afield to discuss at any length the reasons why the Lord Jesus gave Himself this title.* Probably He took it from Ezekiel (e.g. 2:1). For, as Kimchi points out in his commentary on that passage, the address "Son of man" is associated there not only with the idea of weakness common to humanity, but also with that of power. For immediately after the Prophet had seen above the firmament "the likeness of a throne . . . and upon the likeness of the throne ... a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above," and he had said, "This was the appearance of the glory of the LORD," then we read, "And he said unto me, Son of man." He who was the Charioteer of that great chariot had the appearance of a man, yet addressed the Prophet by the title of Son of man, recalling at once weakness with suffering, and yet power with glory. Man belongs not to earth alone, but to heaven also; glory is his prerogative as well as weakness and suffering. So Jesus claims the title for Himself, and uses it when He is speaking of His sufferings (e.g. in this passage, Matt 8:20), and of His present power (e.g. Matt 9:6), and also of His future glory (e.g. Matt 26:64), in the last passage appropriating to Himself the language of Daniel 7:13.
** Die Worte Jesu, 1898, pp. 195 sq.; E.T., The Words of Jesus, pp. 238 sq.* Perhaps I may be allowed to refer to The Hebrew-Christian Messiah, Lect. VIII., where I have entered fully into the subject, including the relation of the term to the use of a similar phrase in the Book of Enoch and elsewhere.337] We can thus see that on the lips of Jesus the phrase meant very much more than a statement that He was a mere man. It meant that He was man indeed, man to suffer, but man also related to God, and man about to be glorified on high. It is evident then that this is quite consistent with the Christian doctrine about Him, that although He was God He was also fully and truly man. To say that because He was man therefore He could not be God is a mere assertion without proof. And, we may add, it contradicts Ezekiel's vision of God as man. But perhaps that is why Jewish teachers have always felt shy of studying "The Chariot." Cf. also paragraphs 561-563.
13. MESSIAH AND PEACE.(Matt 10:34, 35) "Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." Cf. Luke 12:51. Chapter 13
338] R. Isaac here repeats the arguments that he used as far back as the first section of the First Part of his book, and also says that to separate a son from a father is contrary to the work of Messiah, for in the last verse of Malachi we read that Elijah will come to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers. Hence, argues the Rabbi, Jesus cannot be the Messiah.
Our readers, however, will hardly expect us to imitate R. Isaac in this repetition. We therefore refer them to the reply made in paragraphs 14-20. As for the Coming of Elijah, we may refer to what has been said in paragraphs 269-275.
14. THE SENDER AND THE SENT.(Matt 10:40) "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." Cf. Luke 10:16. Chapter 14
339] It should be observed that there is some doubt about the actual words employed by R. Isaac in his remarks upon this passage, but, as usual, we follow the text preferred by his editor, D. Deutsch. The Rabbi tells us that from this passage Christians deduce their belief that Jesus is one with Him who sent Him. If so, he goes on to say, we must also believe that the Twelve are one with Him, i.e. that not only the Three are One but the Fifteen are One. He refers also to John 10:38.
340] No doubt, since the Rabbi says so, there were some persons who deduced the proof of the Trinity from this verse (though it is a little hard to believe it), and so far the Rabbi was right to mention the argument and to ridicule it. But one would have supposed that most readers, whether Jews or Christians, would have perceived the meaning intended by the Lord Jesus: he who receives you receives My message, and thus receives Me, and he who receives Me receives the message with which I was entrusted, and so receives Him who sent Me with it. The words of Jesus are in fact nothing more than a somewhat elaborate form of the Jewish saying recorded in the Mishna, Berakoth v. 5. (שלוחו של אדם כמותו) "A man's messenger is as himself." Compare also the words of Rashi on Exodus 33:7. (למבקש פני זקן כמקבל פני שכינה) "He who seeks the face of an elder is as if he receives the face of the Shekinah."* Consider also what the Lord Jesus says upon another occasion: "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me" (Matt 25:40). In the same way He speaks to the zealous Pharisee on the road to Damascus: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" (Acts 9:4). Let it, however, be fully granted to the Rabbi that the Lord Jesus had in His mind something stronger than the Jewish unity of representation which is expressed in the two Jewish sayings quoted above. For though it were sheer folly to suppose that Jesus were numerically one with His people, there is a sense, a spiritual sense no doubt, but none the less real on that account, in which He is joined to His people. Yes, the union of Christ with those who believe on Him, not with the mere recognition of the brain, but with the full acceptance of the heart, is so close that it can be compared to nothing less than the union of members of a body with their Head. On this see Ephesians 4:15, 16.* From Tanchuma on Exodus (ed., Buber, p. 115), which, however, qualifies the elder as "full of the law" (מלא תורה). The whole page deserves study. Cf. Bechai on Exodus 23:21 (Amsterdam, 1736, p. 113a bottom), "Every one who rebels against him (the Angel) rebels against my proper Name which is in him." (כל הממר בו ממר בשמי המיוחד שבקרבו) See also T. B. Sanhedrin, 38b.As regards the Rabbi's absurd mathematical argument against the Trinity in Unity, it is sufficient to refer our readers to paragraph 110.
15. UNTIL JOHN.(Matt 11:13, 14) "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, which is to come."
(Luke 16:16) "The law and the prophets were until John."
341] In this section R. Isaac makes three remarks: first, the statement that the Law and the Prophets were to cease when John the Baptist came is contrary to the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 5:17: "Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets," as has been shown in Part 1, Chapter 19. Secondly, the prophets plainly did not come to an end in the time of John, for there are still a great many prophecies which have not been fulfilled (see Part 1, Chapters 6-8). Thirdly, although Jesus says that John was Elijah, this is contradicted by the statement of John himself that he was not a prophet (see Part 1, Chapter 39).
342] With the second of these points we have already dealt at sufficient length in paragraphs 25-71 and 94-104, and with the third in paragraph 274. Also we have considered the first point in paragraph 174, so far as regards Matthew 5:17 alone. It seems, however, desirable to study the two passages, Matthew 11:11-14 and Luke 16:15-17, somewhat more, in order that by doing so the objections raised by R. Isaac may be more completely answered.
343] Consider first Matthew 11:11-14. "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven sufifereth violence, and men of violence take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, which is to come." These are confessedly difficult verses, but the connexion of them appears to be this: John is the greatest of the prophets, yet the least in the kingdom of heaven; the weakest and most insignificant of those who believe in Me, has greater privileges than he. For a great change has taken place. True religion is no longer a matter of birth and early training. It is obtained by personal grasp of faith. Only men of real determination seize the kingdom for themselves. For now has come that consummation to which the prophets, and even also the Law itself, looked forward, so that their work is done. If we may explain the meaning in another way, we may say that as the moon and the stars are not abolished by the advent of the dawn, yet do become insignificant in the rays of the sun, so it is with the prophets and the Law now that the Light of the world has appeared. And the herald of the dawn was John, foretold under the name of Elijah.
344] Let us now consider the second passage, Luke 16:15-17. "And he said unto them, Ye [Pharisees] are they that justify yourselves in the sight of men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the law to fall." The connexion of thought appears to be this : You Pharisees think yourselves so good! You trust to the way in which you have fulfilled the Law! But a great change has come. The time-limit for the Law and the Prophets has expired. Every one, even though he knows himself to be a sinner who has not kept the Law, is pressing into the Kingdom of Heaven, the good news of which I am proclaiming. Does the Law then cease, so that godliness is of no account? Far from it, as you will discover to your cost. The teaching of the Law stands firm, firmer than the earth or the very sky itself, condemning every shade of unholiness, stands as the aim set before men which they should endeavour to attain.
345] Is it not remarkable how closely connected in the thought of this passage is Christ's statement of the permanence of the Law with His other statement that it lasted only until John? None but a very superficial reader could suppose the two statements to be contrary to each other. But if they are not contrary when in immediate connexion, as in this passage of the Third Gospel, neither are they when they are separated by six chapters in the First. There is, then, no real contradiction between Matthew 11:13 and 5:17.
On the permanence of the Law, see paragraphs 173-179.
16. "A WORD AGAINST THE SON OF MAN."(Matt 12:32) "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him ; but whosoever shall speak againstt he Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in that which is to come." See also Luke 12:10. Chapter 16
346] Our Rabbi argues that these words show that Jesus is only human and not divine; also they show that the Son and the Holy Spirit are not one; and that therefore the Three are not one. It is sufficient to refer our readers to what has been said on the real meaning of the term "Son of man," as applied to Himself by the Lord Jesus, in paragraphs 333-337, where we considered Chapter 12, On the passage in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity, see paragraph 113. See also The Hebrew-Christian Messiah, pp. 295 sq.
17. THE WORDS OF THE MEN OF NAZARETH.(Matt 13:55) "Is not this the carpenters son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?" See also Mark 6:3, where, however, Jesus is not called the carpenter s son, but the carpenter. Chapter 17
347] R. Isaac argues that these passages show the falsity of the Christian doctrine that Joseph did not know Mary either before the birth of Jesus or afterwards.
With regard to the first part of the Rabbi's assertion, we may point out that nothing is proved against the Christian doctrine of birth of the Lord Jesus from a pure virgin by the popular language of the men of Nazareth. They certainly were not aware of the relation in which Joseph and Mary stood to each other before the Nativity. On the subject of the Virgin-Birth in general, see paragraph 13; also The Hebrew-Christian Messiah, pp. 24-26.
As to the second part of the Rabbi's assertion, we may say that the Perpetual Virginity of the Virgin Mary is not a doctrine contained in the New Testament. For several centuries it was no more than a pious opinion among Christian people. As, therefore, it is not a Christian doctrine in the strict sense we are not concerned to defend it. See further, paragraph 302.
18. THE DIETARY LAWS.(Matt 15:1-20 [especially verse 11]) "Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man." See also Mark 7:1-23; Luke 11:37-41.
348] All the arguments which R. Isaac adduces here have been considered in paragraphs 152-159, to which, therefore, we refer the reader.
The question, however, has lately been raised among scholars whether the Gospels state the case accurately, when they imply that the careful attention to the Dietary Laws was observed by all Jews in the time of the Lord Jesus, or whether, as is affirmed, many of the rules referred only to priests in their attendance in the Temple. The question is interesting, and still under discussion. But perhaps it is not very practical. For, after all, the Gospels, which were written more than a hundred years before the Mishna, are quite as good evidence as it for the habits and customs of the Jews in the first half of the first century of our era; and, secondly, it is certain that the general precepts connected with the Dietary Laws were observed as early as then, even if all the minutiae of the Rabbinic rules had not been worked out, or applied to the community generally. See also paragraphs 418 sq., 478.** Cf. Mr. G. Margoliouth, Expository Times, April, 1911 (vol. xxii. pp. 261-263).
19. "WHY CALLEST THOU ME GOOD?"(Mark 10:18-21) "Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good save one, even God, Thou knowest the commandments. . . . And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest; go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." See also Matthew 19:16-22; Luke 18:18-23. Chapter 19
349] It should be observed that we are not absolutely certain of the exact words used by the Lord Jesus in His reply to this rich young ruler. For although the three Evangelists agree in their record of the incident as a whole, they differ in details, as all true witnesses always do (see par 298).
The opinion of most scholars is that St. Mark represents the first and most important saying of the Lord Jesus more accurately than St. Matthew, and therefore we have quoted his language.* We do this the more willingly in that it agrees essentially with the common text of St. Matthew, which, of course, is the one quoted by R. Isaac. We give, that is, the saying in almost exactly the same form as that in which it appears in the Chizzuk Emunah.* St. Luke gives the first part of our Lord's words in precisely the same form.350] (1) The first argument of R. Isaac is that the words of Jesus, "Why callest thou me good? none is good save one, even God," prove that He was not God. Other Jewish writers argue also from these words that He knew Himself not to be sinless. It will be well to consider the two arguments together. The fact is that all Jews assume both that He was not divine, and also that He was like other men, not free from sin, and they read His words to the young ruler under these assumptions. Whether, however, it is scholarly, or strictly in accordance with a scientific spirit of inquiry, to allow assumptions to determine the meaning that is to be given to a saying, may be more than doubted. For Jesus does not say, in so many words, I am not good, neither does He expressly say, I am not God, and it is only right that we should be very careful how we go beyond the letter of what He actually does say. Further, it is but right to ask what meaning the writer of the Gospel gave to the words, and, at the same time, to remember that the later we suppose the Gospel to have been written, the more difficult is it to believe that the writer understood the words to be a denial of the sinlessness and the divinity of Jesus. Bearing in mind the clear-cut statements of the belief in the divinity of Jesus contained in the Epistles of St. Paul, it is impossible to suppose that the writers of the Second and Third Gospels did not acknowledge both His sinlessness and His divinity. The writers, then, of these two Gospels certainly did not see in these words of Jesus a statement that He was not sinless, and that He was not God.
351] What, then, does He mean, when, to the rich young man who asked, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" He replies: "Why callest thou me good? none is good save one, even God"? May He not mean this? Do not come to Me as to a teacher on whose authority you wish to lean, however good you may think Me to be; look up to God. It was not an occasion on which Jesus could, with any respect either for Himself or for His inquirer, reply, "I am God, therefore worship Me." To have done so would have been to have made Himself, if we may say it with reverence, a mere fetish, and it would certainly have been completely contrary to the whole method of His teaching, which was to bring out character, and lead on inquirers, from what they already possessed, to further truth, in a natural and orderly way. You come to Me, the reply may mean, as a teacher from whom you would take orders; nay, look to God alone. In other words, His reply cuts at the very root of much of the Jewish teaching of the time, subservience to mere authority. Human teachers, human institutions, however good they are, must not usurp the place of God. This young ruler, who assuredly has no real knowledge of the divine nature of Him whom he is addressing (and Jesus cannot at this stage enlighten him on this point without doing him more harm than good), is bid seek God rather than man. Alas, for the ever-recurrent need of the Lord's warning! Judaism has suffered, and is suffering, from insisting on tradition, instead of bidding men see that they come into touch with the living God. Christianity also has far from escaped the danger. Many and many a so-called Christian leans upon the teaching of the Church instead of leaning directly upon God. If this interpretation of the Lord's saying be right, it is obvious that the Rabbi's argument is unsound.** We may, perhaps, compare with our Lord's reply to the young ruler the way in which He dealt with another inquirer. Nicodemus was inclined to patronize Jesus, but he is told that he must experience a complete change of heart and life before he can even understand the things of God. In each case Jesus bids the inquirer go much deeper, further down into realities, than he was prepared to go at first (John 3:3, 5).352] (2) R. Isaac argues next that the direction by Jesus to keep the commandments proves that it is impossible for a man to be saved without observing the commands contained in the Law of Moses. Yet what else could Jesus say to a Jew who came to Him thinking himself good? There was as yet no higher test of righteousness than the Law of Moses. Besides, the Rabbi's objection is in all probability due largely to his misconception of what faith in Christ involves. In Part 1, Chapter 48, he stated that Christians thought that if a man believed on Christ there was no need for him to practise good works. We showed the error of this supposition in paragraphs 290 sq.
353] (3) "Go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor." This, affirms R. Isaac, contradicts the very foundation of the Christian religion (זה הדבר סותר יסוד דתם). For Christians, he says, assert that just because the Law of Moses was too heavy in its demands, the lighter law of Jesus was given, and here Jesus decrees that this young ruler should give all his inheritance to the poor! The Law of Moses, on the contrary, ordered that a man should give to the poor only one-tenth of the increase of his inheritance, and that the rest of the increase, as well as the inheritance itself, should remain his own. Therefore it is plain, says the Rabbi, that the Law of Moses is not as heavy as Christians assert, but it is for the advantage of our bodies and souls, as has been explained in Part 1, Chapter 19. The Rabbi also refers to Luke 6:27, which will be considered later, paragraphs 415-417.
354] (i.) To this we reply, first, What right has R. Isaac to assume that when the Lord Jesus speaks thus to one man, He is giving a command binding upon all? When a physician bids his patient take a certain medicine, it is more than rash to assume that he is at the same time ordering all his patients to take it, or that he even wishes them to do so. That the early Christians, those of the time before the Gospels were written, did not so understand the words is clear from the fact that although St. Paul again and again speaks of collecting gifts of money, there is not a word in all his writings which leads us to suppose that he expected every believer to part with all he possessed. Plainly, however, to the young ruler it was a decisive test of the reality of his faith on God, for, alas, he went away grieved. He put the things of the world before the service of God.
355] (ii.) Yet when the Rabbi speaks of the Law being easier than Christianity he has some right on his side. For the Law is full of clear and definite commands, and these are entirely absent from Christianity. But it is always easier to understand, and therefore, if one chooses, to obey, definite commands, than to learn the will of God generally. When Christ does give definite commands, they are either given with the aim of bringing out the ideal of religious life, and are therefore generally stated in a paradoxical form, or they are intended to refer only to an individual case, as with the young ruler. For indeed, in the truest sense of the words, Christianity is harder, far harder, than Judaism. How this is we have explained in some measure in paragraph 179.* Suffice it here to say that Christianity is harder inasmuch as it is a fuller revelation of God and His will than Judaism is. Yet, on the other hand, it is, blessed be God, incomparably lighter, inasmuch as it proclaims in Christ the freeness of pardon, and the promise of grace. In Christ there is not only forgiveness and acceptance, but also power. See further, paragraphs 415-417.* See also The Hebrew-Christian Messiah, pp. 233-236, and the references there.
20. "NOT MINE TO GIVE."(Matt 20:23) "To sit on my right hand, and on my left hand, is not mine to give, but it is for them for whom it hath been prepared of my Father." See also Mark 10:40. Chapter 20
356] R. Isaac deduces from these words of the Lord Jesus that as it was not in His power to do what He liked, therefore the Father and the Son are not one. They, therefore, who trust in Jesus will be ashamed.
This, however, is only one more instance of the way in which our Rabbi has misunderstood the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. For it is plain to any thoughtful Christian that He answered in the character in which He was addressed. The two disciples, and their mother, did not make their request to Jesus as God, but as Messiah, the leader of Israel, and Jesus answered in the same capacity. You address Me as man, He might have replied, and as man I am unable to do this for you. It rests with My Father in heaven, and with Him alone. In other words, the question of the Divinity of Jesus is not raised. We should add that an attempt has been made by well-meaning Christian expositors to translate our Lord's words: "To sit on My right hand . . . is not Mine to give except to them for whom," etc. But it is barely possible to translate the Greek in this way.
21. THE SON OF MAN AS MINISTER.(Matt 20:28) "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." See also Mark 10:45. Chapter 21
357] The objection raised here is that Jesus shows in two ways that he is not God: first, because he calls himself the Son of man; secondly, because he ministers, and is not ministered unto. Further, he thus declares that he is not Messiah, for of King Messiah it is said: "His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth" (Zech 9:10); "Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him" (Psa 72:11); "And all dominions shall serve and obey him" (Dan 7:27).
Mark this last verse. After all, R. Isaac does think that Daniel 7 refers to the Messiah! See paragraph 283.
358] With regard to the employment of the term Son of man, and its relation to the opinion that Jesus was not divine, see paragraphs 333-337. With regard to Messiah not serving, it may be replied, as has been replied by Christian writers, that the Servant of God may be expected to serve, and that the Shepherd may be expected to tend the sheep. But that service, and even suffering, in the service is compatible with the Messiah, and even the divine Messiah, is shown at perhaps sufficient length in paragraphs 213-218. Mr. C. G. Montefiore, on Mark 10:45, says rightly, "The ethical conception of greatness realized in lowly service may surely and safely be ascribed to Jesus."
22. ZACHARIAH SON OF BARACHIAH.(Matt 23:35) "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar."
(Luke 11:51) "From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zachariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary!"
359] We cannot be surprised that R. Isaac lays hold of the expression, "Zachariah son of Barachiah," found in the First Gospel, and brands it as an evident mistake. For that it constitutes a real difficulty no Christian will deny. Taking it, however, at its worst, we must beware of attributing to it a greater importance than it possesses. For we must remember that no thoughtful Christian regards the New Testament in the way that the orthodox Mahommedan regards the Qoran. This, it is asserted, is miraculously perfect in every word and letter. Christians do not say this of the New Testament, and never have said so by the mouth of their theologians. If, therefore, it be proved that there is an error in the New Testament as such, it goes little further in their mind towards sullying the fairness of the whole than a drop of ink towards sullying the ocean.
360] The difficulty is as follows. The phrase, "Zachariah son of Barachiah," suggests the writer of the prophecy contained in the Book of the Twelve, or, as we say, the Minor Prophets, whose full name is "Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo" (Zech 1:1). But no hint is given in Scripture that he died in any such cruel way as is here stated. Another Zechariah, however, did so die, Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who "stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? Because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD" (2 Chron 24:20, 21).
361] It does look, then, as though the phrase in the First Gospel was due to an error, the confusion of Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the writer of the canonical book, with Zechariah the son of Jehoiada. If so it is worth noting that even this error is in accordance with the thoroughly Jewish character of the writer of the First Gospel, for precisely the same mistake is made by the writer of the Targum on Lamentations 2:20: "As ye slew Zechariah the son of Iddo, the high priest, and a faithful prophet, in the sanctuary of the LORD on the Day of Atanement." Here, it will be observed, the name of the Minor Prophet, Zechariah son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, is given in error for that of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada. The Christian Jew and the Rabbinic Jew make the same mistake.
362] Curiously enough another cause may have had part in the confusion. Josephus tells us in his War, IV. v. 4 that, during the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, as the zealots "intended to have Zacharias, the son of Baruch,* one of the most eminent of the citizens, slain, for what provoked them against him was that hatred of wickedness and love of liberty which were so eminent in him: he was also a rich man, so that by taking him off, they did not only hope to seize his effects, but also to get rid of a man that had great power to destroy them. . . . Zacharias was accused of a design to betray their polity to the Romans, and of having traitorously sent to Vespasian for that purpose. Now there appeared no proof or sign of what he was accused. . . . Now the seventy judges brought in their verdict, that the person accused was not guilty, as choosing rather to die themselves with him, than to have his death laid at their doors; hereupon there arose a great clamour of the Zealots upon his acquittal ... so two of the boldest of them fell upon Zachanas in the middle of the temple, and slew him."** This murder took place in 67 or 68 A.D., and it is possible that the writer of the First Gospel may have himself written "Zachariah son of Barachiah," to suggest to the thoughtful Jewish reader that even to the latest times, immediately before he wrote, the Jews continued to slay persons who had a "hatred of wickedness." If so, his addition to the words of the Lord Jesus would come very near to that spirit of Haggada to which we have already had occasion to refer.* In the best text of the Greek, however, we find Zecharias son of Baris (βαρεις, Niese).363] Yet it must be remembered that it is not absolutely certain that the words "son of Berachiah" belong to the original form of the First Gospel. They are absent from the great Sinaitic manuscript, and from at least two others which are late. It may be granted, however, that this evidence is insufficient to outweigh the probability that the author of the First Gospel did himself write the phrase.
** Whiston-Margoliouth's translation.
364] Whether the Lord Jesus used it is another question altogether. It does not occur in the Third Gospel, and, following the rule that the shorter reading is to be preferred to the longer, it is probable that He said only what St. Luke records: "From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zachariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary."
365] Assuming, then, that the Lord Jesus did intend to refer to the murder of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, why should this be deemed of such importance? Now this is not a question which concerns the Gospels only. For in the Talmud we find that it took quite a special place, just as it does in the Gospels, among the awful sins of the nation which called down the wrath of God. See in particular the Jerusalem Talmud, Taanith, IV., near the end (69 a, b), where R. Jochanan says that 80,000 priests were killed by Nebuzaradan because of the blood of Zechariah; and more fully in the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 96, b. Yet wherein lay the importance of this particular murder, that such emphasis should be laid upon it? The name of Abel suggests the reason. The murder of Abel comes in the first book of the Hebrew Bible, and the murder of Zechariah comes in Chronicles, the last book. The whole sentence, then, is as much as to say: from the very first to the very last pages of the Bible you oppose and kill those who would tell you faithfully of your sins against God, and warn you of approaching punishment. Would that the solemn words of the Lord Jesus had not passed unheeded!** It has been suggested that one reason why the Lord Jesus referred to the death of Zechariah the son of Berechiah was that his tomb (of Herodian date) had just been built in the Valley of the Kedron. If so, He may well have referred to him also as the latest example of hypocritical eulogy (see W. Becker, Anmerkungen zu ausgewahlten Stellen des Alten Testaments, 1904, p. 36).
23. THE ANOINTING OF JESUS FEET.(Matt 26:6, 7) "Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment, and she poured it upon his head, as he sat at meat."
(Mark 14:3) "And while he was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster cruse of ointment of spikenard very costly; and she brake the cruse, and poured it over his head."
(Luke 7:37, 38) "And behold, a woman which was in the city, a sinner; and when she knew that he was sitting at meat in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster cruse of ointment, and standing behind at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment." Compare verse 46, where Jesus says to Simon his host, "My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but she hath anointed my feet with ointment."
(John 12:3) "Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair."
366] On these passages R. Isaac remarks: "See, attentive reader, how the writers of the Gospel in relating a single incident do not agree with each other in their language. Hence we see that a lie is in their mouth."
367] (1) Observe the assumption of our Rabbi that the incident recorded in all four Gospels is one and the same. Perhaps he is right, but it is very far from certain. No doubt the incidents related in Matthew and Mark are the same, and probably also that found in John. But the position of it is so different in Luke, nearly at the beginning of Jesus' ministry instead of at the very end, and (of much more importance) the character of the woman in Luke is so alien from that of Mary the sister of Martha, described in Luke 10:38-42
, and in John 11:1-44
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesusí feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
, that it is hard to suppose that he is relating the same event.
1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. 11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. 30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. 31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
368] (2) Yet, granting that it is the same, what follows? It is a well-known principle of evidence in courts of law that if witnesses agree in words, then they have made up their evidence, and, further, that their agreement in the greater facts of the case, together with disagreement in details, is the best possible proof of the truth of the incident to which they bear witness. Why are we to change our procedure when we examine the evidence of witnesses in regard to an incident in the life of Jesus? What does Lessing say, a writer whom every Jew respects? "Suppose that Livy and Polybius and Tacitus describe the same event, engagement, or siege with such differing circumstances that the details as given by one writer seem to contradict entirely those narrated by another, has there ever been any doubt about the event itself on which they all agree?"* In a word, variety of detail confirms, not weakens, the general truth of a narrative (see par 298).* Lessing s Duplik; quoted by Prof. Konig in the Expositor, VIII, iv. p. 313 (April, 1911).
24. CHRIST'S WILL TO SUFFER.(Matt 26:39) "And he went forward a little, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." See also Mark 14:35 sq. and Luke 22:41 sq. Chapter 24
369] This passage has already been considered in paragraph 289, but here R. Isaac asks an additional question, Why was Jesus troubled if it was His will to suffer? What? Did the Rabbi never make up his mind to perform a difficult task, and yet shrink from it, even pray God that he might not have to carry out his purpose? I have no doubt that as a God-fearing Jew he did. And should not Jesus (man in the truest and fullest sense, though also God) shrink from what was ten thousand times worse for Him than for men generally, death, with the hiding of that Face for a moment, in the light of which He had up to that time continuously walked? See also paragraphs 376-378.
25. THE THIRTY-PIECES OF SILVER.(Matt 27:9, 10) "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was priced, whom certain of the children of Israel did price; and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me."
(Zech 11:12, 13) "So they weighed for my hire thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter [or, into the treasury], the goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them unto the potter [or, into the treasury], in the house of the LORD."
370] The passage is very difficult, both in the Old Testament and in the New. Let us first examine the passage as it stands in the Book of Zechariah.
R. Isaac gives us a long explanation of Zechariah 11:1-17
, but, as it is of a kind which no living scholar to-day would accept, it is hardly necessary to attempt to reproduce it. The salient points of it are that the chapter refers to time that was still future when the prophet wrote, the intention of the prophet being to show how the children of Judah will be guided by God all the days of the Second Temple until its destruction. The three shepherds slain (v. 8) are Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, all of whom died in one month, and with whose death prophecy came to an end in Israel. They were cut off because Israel refused to receive reproof, God's soul being weary of the people of Israel. The thirty shekels are the thirty righteous men who kept God's commandments in the generation after the death of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah. The potter should be read as the treasurer. The foolish and worthless shepherds are the members of the House of Herod, who were the cause of the destruction of the kingdom.
1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. 2 Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down. 3 There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.
4 Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; 5 Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not. 6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbourís hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them. 7 And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. 8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me. 9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another. 10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. 11 And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD. 12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. 14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
15 And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. 16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. 17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
It will be observed that R. Isaac, with some Jewish and most Christian commentators, is of opinion that the prophet is directly foretelling events then lying in the future. But while Christians, generally speaking, say that he is predicting events connected with the death of the Lord Jesus, R. Isaac says that the events in part immediately precede the death of Zechariah, and in part happen some hundreds of years later.
371] To our own mind both one and the other of these systems of interpretation are mistaken. We understand vv. 1-14 (it is hardly necessary to go further) as follows: Vv. 1-3. The land is desolate. Vv. 4-6. The cause of its desolation is stated generally; the rulers, and the king, treat the nation as their own, crushing them to pieces, and so in turn shall they themselves be treated, and not be delivered out of the hand of the enemy. Vv. 7-11. The cause is described more particularly, but in words the exact meaning of which is sometimes doubtful. This is due in part to the presence of many allusions, which probably were intelligible enough at the time, but of which the meaning is now lost, and in part to the way in which the prophet employs the first person singular. Sometimes he speaks as the shepherd appointed by God, at others he identifies himself with God, using the first person of actions which God alone can perform. "So I fed the flock that was appointed for slaughter" (v. 7). He then took two staves, one called Beauty, signifying the Delight that God s people are to Him, and one called Bands or Brotherhood (v. 14), signifying the union God s people ought to have with one another.* Thus were the sheep tended. But sin entered; for God cut off three shepherds (doubtless three kings, but who, we know not**) in one month," and my soul lost patience with them [that is, with the people], and their soul also loathed me." Henceforth they were to be left to themselves, God would shepherd them no more, and the covenant staff of Beauty was solemnly broken. Then come the verses in which we are more immediately interested, vv. 12, 13. Here God is insulted in the person of His prophet. The latter has performed his office as shepherd, and now asks for his payment for his duties. Observe the result. They (the representatives of the nation) do not like to give nothing; they are too selfish and worldly to give much. They therefore weigh out to him thirty shekels, which was in fact the sum paid for a slave killed by accident (Exo 21:32). God s representative, therefore God Himself, is valued at no more than the very lowest of the people! A baser insult could hardly be imagined; it shows that the nation, in spite of all its talk and profession, cares nothing for God. We cannot wonder that the prophet is bid throw the money away. Whither? Probably "into the treasury." Standing, as he seems to have been, in the Temple court, he throws it down towards the treasury. Then (v. 14) he breaks also the second staff called Bands, because there is no brotherhood any more between the different parts of the nation. The nation's ill-treatment of God in the person of His prophet brings destruction.* Perhaps "Beauty" means the Priesthood with the temple and its services, and Bands, the House of David.372] If this, as seems probable, is the general meaning of the passage, is it very unreasonable of the author of the First Gospel to quote it in reference to the Lord Jesus? To him the treatment received by Jesus was a shocking example of ingratitude, and, so far, it was certainly a fulfilment of the principle underlying the prophecy. We may go further and say that it would be very hard indeed to find in all history an incident that fulfils it so completely.
** The latest commentator, Prof. W. Emery Barnes, says: "The three last kings, Jehoiakim, Coniah, and Zedekiah, were cut off in a short space (about eleven years), as it were one month" (Cambridge Bible for Schools, 1917, pp, 83, 86).
373] It is necessary, however, for fear of being misunderstood, to point out clearly that the quotation of this prophecy is not intended to be of the nature of a mathematical proof. Probably the Evangelist never so intended it; certainly no thoughtful Christian of to-day could so employ it. We Christians do not ask any Jew to believe on the Lord Jesus because this passage directly refers to Him. What we do say is that when a person has accepted Jesus on quite other grounds, he sees that the treatment of his Master when He was on earth fulfilled in a very remarkable degree the principle of this passage. The Evangelist is fully justified in his use of the passage generally.
374] With regard to the details of the manner and form of the "quotation" the case is different. R. Isaac indeed does not mention what is to most persons the chief difficulty, the fact that the Evangelist quotes the words as spoken by Jeremiah. For with our present information we must accept this as the right reading of the Greek text. There are many theories to account for the word "Jeremiah," none of them satisfactory. One is that it was due to a lapse of memory, a very crude, not to say childish, solution. Another is that the Evangelist used a summary of sayings taken from the Old Testament, in which a passage from Jeremiah was the first in a series which included these words from Zechariah. Another, that because in the Babylonian Talmud and some manuscripts of the Bible the Book of Jeremiah is found at the head of all the Latter Prophets (see Ginsburg, Introduction to the Massoretico-critical edition of the Hebrew Bible, 1897, p. 5), it may have given its name to all. Another, that some of the terms in the form employed by St. Matthew do actually occur in Jeremiah, and therefore he quotes all as belonging to that prophet. But there is no absolutely certain reply to the difficulty. Yet it should not be forgotten that, according to modern scholarship, the Evangelist is at least right in attributing the words to some one else than Zechariah, for the author of Zechariah 11, whoever he is, certainly cannot be he.* The contrast between Zechariah 1-8 and the remaining chapters is too great for the whole book to have been written by Zechariah, the grandson of Iddo, who returned from Babylon. Whether the eleventh chapter was written later than the Return, as some scholars think, or earlier, as others maintain, is a very interesting question, but one which does not really affect our present discussion.* Prof. W. Emery Barnes (see par 371), however, thinks that the two writers are separated only "by perhaps half a generation" (p. xx).375] So also with the form of the quotation. R. Isaac blames the author of the Gospel because it is not verbally exact. As if quotations in the Talmud and the Midrashim were always verbally exact, and not sometimes compounded of phrases from various parts of Scripture! But indeed I frankly confess that we do not at present possess sufficient means whereby to solve all the difficulties of St. Matthew's language here. We are not in a position to explain in detail his choice of words. He is fully justified in his quotation as a whole, but we cannot say more.
26. FORSAKEN.(Matt 27:46) "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" So also Mark 15:34. Chapter 26
376] The argument of R. Isaac is that by these words the Lord Jesus showed He was not God, but only a man like other men, who call upon God in the time of their distress.
But what would the Rabbi have? Would he wish Him not to call upon God? For the objection shows a complete failure to grasp what the Christian doctrine of the nature of Jesus Christ really is. Jesus, we Christians affirm, was man as well as God. If so, was He not to have human suffering? And, if He suffered, was He not to pray for help from His Father in heaven, as men do? Not so, argues the Rabbi. If He was God, then He must have no experience of human trial and suffering, in other words, He must have no experience of human life, and, above all, no experience of human life on its spiritual side. But this can only mean that, according to the Rabbi, He was man only in appearance, not in fact. This, however, is not Christianity, not the Christian doctrine of Christ at all. If this indeed were the Christian faith, the Rabbi might well argue that those passages of Scripture which speak of the sufferings, and the prayers, of the Lord Jesus proved the inaccuracy of the belief that He was divine. As the case stands, the Rabbi has but set up a scarecrow which he labels Christianity, and then proceeds to demolish. May all the readers of these pages be saved from such misunderstanding of the facts, with correspondingly false conclusions.
377] There is, however, a real difficulty underlying the Rabbi's objection. Many Christian people do not understand the use of these words by our Lord. They ask: How is it that Jesus, who had always lived in the full light of His Father's countenance, should, in this very moment of His sorest need, have had that countenance hidden from Him?
Yet, if Jesus came, as He said He came, to save the lost (Luke 19:10), and to offer a ransom for many (Matt 20:28), is it unreasonable to suppose that the supreme point of such a sacrifice would take place at His death? Should not we expect to find, on the contrary, that at His dying He reached the lowest depth in self-sacrifice? If a sacrifice for sin were required would not this imply some contact with sin? And, if so, would not this necessarily involve an experience far more terrible than can be conceived by us, who are accustomed to the presence of sin from our childhood? Would it not be agony to a perfectly holy person to lose the sense of communion with His Father in heaven? Would it not also be probable that some such cry as that recorded in the First and the Second Gospels, expressive of His awful sense of desolation, would be wrung from Him? We Christians see in these words the very bitterness of death, of which no true believer in Christ shall have experience (John 8:51).
378] Lastly, it is important to remember that this is not the last recorded cry of the Lord Jesus. For lower down in this same chapter of the First Gospel (v. 50) we read: "And Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit." See also Mark 15:37. What He said at this last cry we may learn from the other two Gospels. St. Luke's words are: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said this, he gave up the ghost" (23:46). St. John writes: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit" (19:30). In either case, that is to say, He uttered words of solemn acquiescence and thankful confidence. The victory over death had already begun (cf. par 369).
27. THE VICTORIOUS CHRIST.(Matt 28:18) "And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth." Chapter 27
379] (1) The words show, according to R. Isaac, that Jesus was not God, because he received his power from another, while the Creator gives power, but receives it from none.
We answer that once more R. Isaac's argument does not touch the Christian position in the least. We affirm emphatically that Jesus was Man, and that as man He received this power from on high. If, on the other hand, it be asked, Why did not Jesus take such power as God? Why was He given it as man? we reply that for Him to have taken it as God would be contrary to the whole idea and doctrine of the Incarnation. If Jesus were, during His time on earth, to use His divine power as such, He would so far be acting contrary to the spirit in which He became incarnate; He would cease to be living in all respects as man.* It was just because He humbled Himself, and became obedient to His Father in heaven, even as far as death, yea, the death of the cross, that God, on His part, highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:8-11). For the gift which Jesus here says He had received was stupendous. Before, He had received power for special acts (see 11:27); but now it is the full possession of might and authority. The conqueror of death has received His reward, nothing less than the government of the whole universe, earth and heaven. It is the beginning of the state described in Ephesians 1:19-22: "That working of the strength of his [i.e. God's] might which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and he put all things under his feet."* This applies to our Lord's miracles also. See The Hebrew- Christian Messiah, pp. in, 123, 338, 340.380] (2) R. Isaac, however, urges that if Christians say that it is the Father of the Lord Jesus who gives him this authority, and no other than He, this shows that, after all, the Father and the Son are two, not one, for there is a Giver and a Receiver. Christians, however, say that the Father and the Son are one.
The difficulty felt by the Rabbi is more reasonable this time, but he is led away by words. For in fact he makes a much more complete division between the two Persons of the Trinity in Christian doctrine than the Christian doctrine itself makes. He thinks that the word "Person" when used of distinctions in the Godhead has precisely the same sense as when it is used of men. Christians do not believe this. One of the first of living theologians, Professor Sanday, of Oxford, writes as follows: "'Person' in Trinitarian usage, is a mode of being which serves as a ground or basis (a real ground or basis) of special function, but just stops short of separate individuality. It implies distinction without division" (Personality in Christ and in Ourselves (Oxford, 1911, p. 19)). The definition, no doubt, is hard, and, strictly speaking, beyond our human comprehension, but the Jewish controversialist may not, for that reason, attack Christian teaching, for what, in reality, it does not teach.
28. DAVID AND THE SHEWBREAD.(Mark 2:24-26) "And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? And he said unto them, Did ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? How he entered into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which it is not lawful to eat save for the priests, and gave also to them that were with him?" See also Matthew 12:2-4; Luke 6:2-4. Chapter 28
381] This passage presents several points of interest, of which the best known is the difficulty about Abiathar. For we should have expected to find the name of Ahimelech instead. It was Ahimelech who was Priest when David came to Nob, not his son Abiathar (1 Sam 21:2, compare 22:20). R. Isaac and many Jews make merry over this discrepancy. But they forget that they ought to find fault with the Old Testament as much as with the New. For in both there is the same confusion of names. While in 1 Samuel 21:2-10 (I take the Hebrew numeration of the verses), and 22:9, 11, 14, 16, the Priest (i.e. the High Priest, no doubt) is called Ahimelech, and in 22:20 Abiathar, his son, succeeds him, yet in 2 Samuel 8:17; 1 Chronicles 18:16, 24:6, Abiathar is spoken of by the name of "Abimelech (or 'Ahimelech'), son of Abiathar." Thus in one set of passages in the Old Testament (naturally I am referring to the Massoretic text, and not to emendations of it found in critical commentaries) the Priest at the time when David went to Nob is called Ahimelech and his son Abiathar, in another set the Priest's name is Abiathar, and his son is called Ahimelech. It is therefore thoroughly inconsistent for a Jew to find fault with the New Testament for saying that the Priest's name when David came to Nob was Abiathar, when the Old Testament says as much in certain passages. The fact is that it has not pleased the LORD that the records of either the Old Testament or the New should be absolutely free from human errors. We might have supposed that they would be, but they are not.** It is unnecessary to do more than mention such explanations as (a) there were two Priests at Nob, Ahimelech and Abiathar, of whom Abiathar was the more important; (b) Ahimelech was old, and Abiathar was High Priest de facto, though not de jure.382] Another point raised by R. Isaac is that the New Testament says that David gave also to them that were with him, whereas David came alone (1 Sam 21:1). For, says the Rabbi, although David told the Priest that he had bid the young men wait at a short distance, this was only to put him off the scent, just as in 1 Samuel 27:10, he tells Achish he had raided the South of Judah, when in reality he had smitten the Arabian tribes who dwelt in the district towards Egypt. R. Isaac's explanation is possible, no doubt, but it seems rather gratuitous to make out that David told a lie unless we have direct confirmation that he did. Most Jewish commentators upon the narrative describing the events at Nob assume that he spoke the truth.** E.g. Rashi, D. Kimchi, Levi ben Gerson.383] We are surprised that R. Isaac makes no attempt to consider the meaning of our Lord's answer, and to see the relation in which the passage adduced from the Old Testament stands to the objection urged by the Pharisees. Dr. Emil G. Hirsch (Jewish Encyclopedia, x. 597) is more thoughtful. He writes: "The disciples plucked and rubbed the ears of corn and thus violated a rabbinical sabbath ordinance (Maimonides, Yad, Sabb. viii. 3; Talm. Jer. Sabb. 10a, Sabb. x. 7). But the defence of Jesus assumes that the disciples were in danger of dying of starvation; he charges his critics with having neglected charity. This must imply that they had not provided the sabbath meals for the poor (Peah, viii. 7). Thus he answers their charge with another. For the act of the disciples there was some excuse; for their neglect to provide the sabbath meals there was none."
Dr. Hirsch's argument is ingenious, but very far-fetched. For nothing in the narrative suggests that the disciples were in danger of starvation. Neither can we assume, without more proof than Dr. Hirsch adduces, that the sabbath meals for the poor were customary at so early a date.
It is more probable that our Lord's answer was intended, as usual with Him, to confute the principle underlying the objection adduced by the Pharisees, rather than to blame them for some specific neglect. The Pharisees permitted work on the sabbath only if life were in danger (Mishna, Sabb. xviii. 3). Our Lord shows them that they cannot defend such a limitation by Scripture. For Scripture itself gives an example of a saint of God, no less a person than David himself, with the full consent of the High Priest of the time, profaning holy things. The shewbread, by the direct order of the Law itself (Lev 24:9) was reserved, because of its special holiness, for the priests alone. Yet David and his followers ate of it, although they were scarcely in danger of starvation. It was a great convenience to them, hardly more. The Pharisaic principle of danger of death did not apply in their case. The holiness of material or time ought not to be so rigidly restricted as the Jewish teachers supposed.
384] It should also be noticed that in St. Matthew's account of the discussion a second example is quoted, even more direct. The sabbath indeed is holy, yet not only are sacrifices to be performed on it (Num 28:9, 10), but also the shewbread is to be prepared. So 1 Chronicles 9:32: "And some of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the shewbread, to prepare it every sabbath." Jesus asks therefore: "Have ye not read in the law how that on the sabbath day the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless?" This, at any rate, was no matter of life or death. The sanctity of the sabbath was not, as the Pharisees supposed, intended to exclude actions that conduced to the better carry ing out of the Divine will. Rules and regulations may easily be made a bondage contrary to the purpose of the Divine Lawgiver. The Pharisees interpreted the law about the sabbath by virtually turning it into a series of negative commands, "Thou shalt not do this, and shalt not do that." But the Old Testament itself teaches that all such negative commands fail to reach the purpose of the Law. God wishes His people to enjoy fuller liberty than that conceded by Rabbinic rules.
29. His MOTHER AND His BRETHREN.(Mark 3:31-35) "And there come his mother and his brethren; and, standing without, they sent unto him, calling him. And a multitude was sitting about him; and they say unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answereth them, and saith, Who is my mother and my brethren? And looking-round on them which sat roundabout him, he saith, Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." See also Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21. Chapter 29
385] On this passage R. Isaac remarks that when the mother and brethren of Jesus saw that he was deceiving the simple among the people and leading them astray, they did not wish to enter into the house where he was, but sent to call him outside, so that they might keep him back from that work. He, however, did not listen to their voice, and was not willing to go out to them, even as they would not listen to him. The proof that their action was taken in unbelief is to be seen in John 7:5: "For even his brethren did not believe on him."
386] The Rabbi says, it will be observed, that the reason why the mother and the brethren of the Lord Jesus did not enter the house was that they considered Him to be a deceiver. This, however, as Gusset remarks in his reply to our author, is only an impudent suggestion. Judging by the narrative of both St. Mark and St. Matthew it is at least quite as likely that they could not approach the door of the house because of the crowds that surrounded it,* and, in fact, this is expressly told us by St. Luke: "They could not come at him for the crowd" (8:19). It was a very different thing for a message to be passed in. Besides, even if it were just possible for them to squeeze their way up to Him, they would hardly care to reason with Him in the presence of others. Family arguments are best conducted in private. This portion of the Rabbi's remarks may be dismissed.* In Mark 3:20 we are told that the throng was so great that He and His disciples "could not so much as eat bread."387] The important part, however, of what he says in his suggestion that the unbelief of His mother and brethren would be impossible if He had been really divine; if His own mother and brethren did not believe on Jesus no one else ought to do so; they could not be mistaken.
Consider, first, the case of His Brethren. Is their unbelief unnatural, even if Jesus were all that Christians believe Him to be? "A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house" (Mark 6:4), and we should have supposed that it was especially difficult for His brothers to perceive that He with whom they had lived and worked and played was, after all, superior to themselves. They did, however, believe on Him after His resurrection, but at this stage in Christ's history they did not. On the contrary, with the same readiness to rush to conclusions that has marked the worldly in all ages (see Festus words to St. Paul, Acts 26:24), they said He was beside Himself (Mark 3:21), a phrase which may mean only that He was over-excited, or else that He was mad. But no thoughtful person to-day, believer or unbeliever, regards Jesus in this light.
388] Consider next the case of His Mother. There would, as may be granted, be a real difficulty if she did not believe that He was the Messiah, when she remembered the circumstances of His birth. Yet it is not said, either here or in any other passage of Scripture, that she did not believe on Him. Surely her anxiety for Him was very natural. She showed lack of trust, it is true, but a mother's heart will ever yearn over the safety of her child. Neither can any reason be alleged why the fact that she knew He was the Messiah should weaken her anxiety. It might well increase it, as she came to perceive more clearly whither He was being led, and to what contumely and suffering He would be exposed. St. Peter, it, must be remembered, acknowledged Him to be the Messiah, and almost immediately after doing so, tried to persuade Him that He would not be called upon to endure suffering and death (Matt 16:16, 22).
389] Before leaving this passage it may be well to observe, first, that the Lord Jesus had intimate knowledge of the purport of the conversation which His mother and brethren desired to hold with Him, although it did not actually take place. Perhaps He had had previous experience of their arguments, or perhaps His knowledge was due to His unique power of knowing what was in man (John 2:25).
Secondly, notice the beauty of His words, free from all trace of impatience or irritation at the interruption: "Looking round on them which sat round about him, he saith, Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." He invites all, and promises them the warmest reception into His most intimate affection.
390] Lastly, if we are at all surprised that the Lord Jesus did not at once leave the crowd and go to His mother and brethren, it must be remembered that in a life of complete devotion to God's cause there are times when one's own nearest and dearest must take only a secondary place. Martyrdoms, of Jews and Christians alike, testify to this. "Who said of his father, and of his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren" (Deut 33:9), are not words easily forgotten. If the Lord Jesus acted upon them, when occasion rose, who dare blame Him? Certainly no pious Jew. That however this zeal in the cause of God is fully consistent with the utmost tenderness and love may be seen from the thoughtful care of the Lord Jesus for His mother, as He hung upon the cross: "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home" (John 19:26, 27).
30. THE FIG-TREE CURSED.(Mark 11:12-14) "And on the morrow, when they were come out from Bethany, he hungered. And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season of figs. And he answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit from thee henceforward for ever." See also vv. 20-24, and Matthew 21:18-22. Chapter 30
391] R. Isaac makes some very strong remarks upon this miracle, most of which there is no need to reproduce here. His arguments are three: first, that if Jesus had been God, or even had had the Spirit of God resting upon Him, He would have known that there were no figs on this tree before He came near it. In any case He had no right to blame the fig-tree. Secondly, He had better have decreed that the tree should be changed into figs for His own advantage, and for the satisfying of His hunger, if He had the power to change Nature as He liked, as His followers believe. Thirdly, a Christian argued that the narrative was not to be understood literally, but as a parable. Israel is compared to a fig-tree, and when Christ came He found no wise men in the Nation, which, alas! did not receive Him, and was punished accordingly.* The Rabbi replies that his argument was against the words of the prophets, who said that in the days of Messiah knowledge should abound.* See also Jerome, in his Commentary on Matt 21:18 sq. (Vallarsi, vii, 167).392] To take the last point first. When R. Isaac maintains that knowledge was to abound in the days of Messiah, and that therefore He could not have found ignorance in Israel, he confounds facts with results. Knowledge was to be the result of the coming of Messiah; it was not necessarily great before His appearance. He would bring it about; He would not certainly find it already existing.
R. Isaac, however, is doubtless right when he objects to his opponents' argument that the narrative as a whole is allegorical and has no basis of fact. Whether or not it has a parabolic lesson as well as moral and spiritual lessons, we will consider later on. But in itself we must, with the Rabbi, treat it as historical, and learn its lessons first on that supposition.
393] The incident has produced many misinterpretations, but in reality presents no great difficulties. One theory may be put on one side at once. It is said that on the fig-trees in Palestine may sometimes be found in the spring, even as late as immediately before Passover (say, in the end of March or the beginning of April), winter figs, which, being the latest, or third, harvest of the fig-tree, have survived throughout the winter. It is not very probable that such figs would have been left unpicked on a tree so near the city as this tree was, but in fact the narrative is wholly opposed to this theory. For it does not explain how it was that the presence of leaves induced our Lord to expect to find figs upon the tree.
394] No, we must take the narrative as it stands, and it will explain itself. He saw from afar the fig-tree in full leaves, and therefore He hoped to find some of the early little figs known as taksh growing upon it. The point is that other fig-trees were not in full leaf, this one was; therefore it might have such figs also, although the time for ordinary edible figs (dafur), about June, was not yet. But neither was it the time for most fig-trees to be in full leaf. Early leaves implied early figs. But on this pretentious and precocious tree there were leaves only and no figs. Jesus had a right to expect that a tree which had such good leaves would have some figs. But it had none. Hence He was justified in being disappointed with it.** See especially Dr. Masterman's article on Fig in Hastings' One Volume Dictionary.395] R. Isaac, to be sure, says that if Jesus was God He would have known there were no figs upon even this fig-tree. The Rabbi once more misunderstands the Christian doctrine of the Godhead and manhood of Jesus. For according to this He put aside His attributes as God when He was living the life of man. It was not in accordance with His method of living out the human life as it ought to be lived, for Him to exercise His power as God, even in foreknowledge.
396] Similarly, R. Isaac's objection that Jesus, if He was divine, ought to have changed the fig-tree into figs, shows a curious ignorance of the conditions by which Christ fulfilled His work. This was the very thing which the devil challenged Him to do at the temptation, to change stones into bread for His own benefit, and He would have none of it. No, you will find no selfishness of any kind in the actions of Jesus of Nazareth.
397] Yet, granting that Jesus felt disappointed with the fig-tree, why did He curse it, and make it wither away? In part to show His power. It was very salutary for His disciples, and through them for others, to learn the power of the Christ. The Master is no weak person upon whom one can play with impunity tricks of shallow pretentiousness. He is the Lord, to whom even in His human capacity is given awful power. If we have leaves we ought also to have fruit, or we shall bear the punishment of our empty show.
Further, this exercise of power was, as the Lord Himself says, to encourage His followers in prayer. The forces which He used were at their disposal also. If their faith was real they should say to this mountain: "Be thou taken up and cast into the sea," and it would obey them (Mark 11:23). Probably no one is foolish enough to ask how it is that believers in Christ do not throw mountains about in this way, for the reply is evident, that to do so without sufficient reason would not be an act of faith at all, and that we can hardly conceive any reason sufficient to justify such an act. Again, every thoughtful person would say that those Orientals, at least, to whom our Lord was speaking in the first instance, would perceive that He was using a hyperbolical expression, which few people then would fail to understand. Difficulties as great in the moral world as mountains are in the physical have been overcome again and again by the power of a Christian's faith.
Some persons, however, may be inclined to think, rather strangely it must be confessed, that Christ had no moral right to destroy a tree, which in its ignorance had done no harm But this is folly. For every day we destroy plants and trees to satisfy our bodily desires, or minister to the physical well-being of ourselves or others. Much more are we, or the Lord Jesus, justified in doing so for the sake of moral and ethical well-being. If the destruction of the fig-tree tended to the spiritual advantage of the disciples and other believers, the Lord cannot be blamed for destroying it.
398] Yet, when all is said, it remains probable that behind the action, with its immediate moral and spiritual lessons, there was a parabolic meaning also. R. Jose the son of the Damascene woman, about the middle of the second century, compares the Holy Land to a fig-tree,* and it is not at all impossible that, if not to our Lord, at least to those who recorded the act, it suggested the state of the Nation of Israel in the early part of the first century, and its fall in the latter part. For, disguise it as we may, there is much similarity between the fig-tree and the Nation. The Nation was pretentious; it had a show of personal righteousness far exceeding that of the other nations of the world; for it had had privileges of position and of religious culture; yet when the Lord came to it He was rejected; it gave Him no fruit wherewith to satisfy His hunger for the righteousness that He ought to have found in it. A short time passed, and Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Nation scattered. There is no occasion to go into details; parables will never bear too close an examination. It is enough that the general outline fits the circumstances. Thank God that the fig-tree is unlike the Jewish nation in this particular, that the latter shall one day recover its vigour, and, recognizing its Lord, yield to Him its fruit. The LORD hasten it in His time!* Siphre, Deut., Chap. 1 near end, ed. Friedmann 65a; see Klausner, Die Messianische Vorstellungen des judischen Volkes im Zeitalter der Tannaiten, 1904, p. 107,
31. KNOWLEDGE OF THE DAY OF THE LORD.(Mark 13:32) "But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." See also Matthew 24:36. Chapter 31
399] R. Isaac urges that this passage shows that the Son is not God, seeing that He does not know the things of the future. We have already considered the Rabbi's objections in paragraph 114, but we may make a few additional remarks.
It would be well if the Rabbi had seriously considered the place which is here attributed to the Son. The order, it will be observed, is man, angels, the Son, the Father. Who or what, then, is the Son who is set above the angels? Scripture, in the Old Testament and the New alike, knows of no being who is above them save God Himself. When, therefore, Jesus sets the Son above them, as He does in this verse, He is claiming for the Son equality with God. Let our Jewish readers take this to heart, and endeavour to answer the question why He does so.
400] They will reply, however, whether they face the difficulties of that question or not, that Jesus of Nazareth attributes to the Son ignorance of the great event of the future, the Day of the LORD, and will repeat R. Isaac's argument. Yet no thoughtful Christian can be surprised that such ignorance is attributed to the Son. It is only in accordance with the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. For according to this we have no right to expect that the incarnate Son of God should know everything with such knowledge as can be expressed in human words. Probably indeed His knowledge as God was altogether in abeyance, this being one of the things which He put off from Him when He became man (see par 590). But in any case there must have been many things known to the Son as God which it would be impossible for Him to receive into His intellect as Man, unless we make the human nature of the Lord Jesus an altogether monstrous and unhuman thing. It is true that we cannot well blame R. Isaac himself for not perceiving this somewhat evident truth, for in his days it had not been properly perceived by Christians. But every Jew of to-day ought to be free from the temptation to be surprised when Christians speak, or the New Testament itself speaks, of the Lord's ignorance. We must, if we are students of the Bible in either of its parts, be very jealous for the truth of the human nature of the Lord Jesus, and not minimize the reality of that nature in honour of the divine. It is plain that the knowledge of the time when the Day of the LORD will come has no practical connexion with holiness, either for the Lord Jesus or for ourselves, or again either for His or for our ministry on earth. In fact, to require that He should know it would be much on a par with the demand made to Him that He should show a portent out of heaven (Matt 16:1). The knowledge would be as unnatural as the action. Both would be altogether contrary to the limitations of human nature, as well as to the methods of work by which from the very first the Messiah determined to accomplish His task of bringing salvation to the world (Matt 4:1-11
1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
32. THE MESSAGE OF THE ANGEL GABRIEL TO THE VIRGIN MARY.(Luke 1:30-33) "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Chapter 32
401] These words are said to be contrary to other passages in the Gospels, and therefore, as two contraries cannot both be right, if the other passages are true this is false. Our Rabbi has plainly been to school and learned his Euclid, or whatever was the equivalent for a book of logic suitable for boys in his day. His proposition is self-evident. Things that are really contrary to each other do not agree, and cannot both be right. Unfortunately he does not prove that this contrariety exists in the cases under discussion, so that his deduction falls to the ground.
1. Had Mary, it is affirmed, received the assurance of the angel she would have told His brethren, and she and they would have taken the lead in acknowledging Him, and His brethren would not have disbelieved in Him for a time. We have already considered this argument to some extent in paragraph 387, and need hardly repeat what was said so recently. It may, however, be pointed out that there were good reasons why Mary should not mention the Virgin Birth at first, even to the Brethren. For they could hardly have kept the information to themselves, and if it had become widely known most people would not have believed it, and it would only have been an additional stumbling-block in the way of true belief in the Lord Jesus. For, we must repeat it again and again, in spite of the danger of becoming wearisome to our readers, Jesus of Nazareth never invited belief in Himself on the ground that He was God, and performed miracles as God. His own miraculous birth is the very last thing to which we can imagine Him appealing as evidence for the truth of what He taught, and of His claim to be the Messiah.
402] 2. R. Isaac here repeats his foolish objection that the angel ought to have said that the name of Messiah was to be Immanuel, not Jesus, in accordance with the words of Isaiah 7:14. We have already dealt with this in paragraph 191.
403] 3. As for the supposed difficulty that Jesus was never king, sitting on the throne of David, see the discussion in paragraphs 25-30, 79, 198.
4. His descent from David is considered in paragraphs 8-13.
404] 5. The angel says that there will be no end to His kingdom, and yet St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:24-29 that Jesus will give back the kingdom to God. This is another ridiculous objection. For every thinking man knows that terms which are used with reference to things of time may not be transferred to things of eternity. Thus it is self-evident, one would have supposed, that the words of the angel refer to this world, and St. Paul's language to the next.
Observe, however, as Mr. J. Z. Lichtenstein has pointed out,* that the belief that Messiah will, at the end, when His work is finally accomplished, hand over His kingdom to the Father, is quite in accordance with Jewish belief. For in the Pirqe d'Rabbi Eliezer, Chapter 11, ten kings of the world are enumerated, viz. God, Nimrod, Joseph, Solomon, Ahab, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander of Macedon, and the ninth, the Messiah. But as for the tenth: "He who was the first king will be the last king, as it is said: Thus saith the Lord, the King, ... I am the first, and I am the last; and beside Me there is no God" (Isa 44:6).** The Rabbinic doctrine that Messiah will give back the kingdom to God is therefore accepted by St. Paul, who does but explain its meaning.* חזוק אמונת אמת, in loco.405] 6. But if so, argues the Rabbi, the Son and the Father are not one! This, however, is to reopen the whole question of the Three in One. We have already considered this at length in paragraphs 105-125, and do not think it necessary to repeat here what has been said already. But our Rabbi completely misunderstands the Christian doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.
** The translation is that of Mr. G. Friedlander, 1916.
33. THE FEAST OF THE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. DECEMBER 8.(Luke 2:6, 7) "And it came to pass, that while they were there [at Bethlehem], the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son." Chapter 33
406] At this point our Rabbi makes a ridiculous mistake, saying that according to the Christians Mary conceived on December 8, and brought forth her Son on December 25, Christmas Day. Of course December 8 is the feast of the conception of Mary by her mother, as he confesses certain Christians told him. He forgets the other Christian Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. His mistake was doubtless due, as Gusset points out, to his ignorance of Latin, and his consequent assumption that the Latin conceptio answered exactly to the Hebrew הריון. For while the Latin Dies conceptionis Mariæ can only mean the day when Mary was conceived, he translated it by יום הריונה של מרים, which can only mean the day when Mary herself conceived. There is, however, this excuse for the Rabbi, that he may have heard something of the extravagant way in which the Roman Church employs on December 8 the words addressed to Mary by the angel at the Annunciation.
34. THE VIRGIN BIRTH.
407] R. Isaac here quotes several passages from the Third and Fourth Gospels in support of his contention that Joseph was the father of the Lord Jesus, but does not add anything fresh to what he has already said. It therefore seems unnecessary to do more than refer the reader to the arguments paragraphs adduced in 8-13, 388, 401 sq. See also the two paragraphs following.
35. THE GENEALOGIES ONCE MORE.(Luke 3:23-38) "Jesus . . . being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli . . . Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." Chapter 35
408] Our Rabbi brings forward once more the difficulty of the differences between the genealogy contained in Matthew and that contained in Luke, asking in particular which Joseph was the husband of Mary, for St. Matthew says that "Matthan begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Joseph," while St. Luke says, "Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat." He afterwards asserts that Jesus was called "Son of God" because He was descended from "Adam, the son of God."
I do not propose repeating the argument adduced in the first volume, paragraphs 8-13. It was shown there that both genealogies are those of Joseph, and that while St. Luke traces the natural descent of Joseph, St. Matthew traces his heirship. Also it was shown that Mary herself was in all probability descended directly from David, the evidence for this lying not in the genealogy of St. Luke, as has fondly been thought, but in the statements of other parts of Scripture, and in the early belief of the Christian Church.
409] With regard to the Rabbi's last point, a few words will suffice. He carefully omits the words, "as was supposed," for they would have shown plainly enough that St. Luke knew well that Jesus was not the actual son of Joseph, as R. Isaac implies. Why, however, St. Luke carries his genealogy as far back as Adam is not certain. According to the Rabbi it is in order that he may show that Jesus was called the Son of God because He was descended from Adam! This in reality means that Jesus was like other men, which stands in such flagrant contradiction to St. Luke's own record of the angel's words in 1:35 ("The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also that which is to be born shall be called holy, the Son of God"), that this explanation is quite untenable.
It is more likely, as has been suggested (see J. Lichtenstein's Hebrew commentary in loco), that St. Luke is giving a hint that as Adam was son of God in a special sense, so also was Jesus born of Him in a unique way (cf. Rom 5:14), the reference being in that case, as it appears, not to His eternal sonship, but to His Virgin Birth. Other scholars, however, are content to see in St. Luke's words only a desire to draw the attention of Gentile readers, who were not well acquainted with the Old Testament, to the fact that the human race had a divine origin. This would be a means of reminding them of their rightful position, and of summoning them to use their privileges. On the whole the former interpretation is the more probable.
36. THE PROCLAMATION AT NAZARETH.(Luke 4:17-21) "And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: he hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them. To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears." Chapter 36
410] The inauguration of the new reign! A king has come! One whose kingdom possesses those qualities and characteristics which poets and prophets of all time have foretold of the great King, and courtiers of earthly monarchs have ever loved to portray, as marking the reign of their own sovereign. "Him whom his sins had delivered up to death, my Lord the King has let go live. Those who many years sat prisoners, hast thou set free! Those who many days were ill, hast thou restored to health! The hungry are satisfied, the emaciated are become fat, the naked are clad with garments!" So writes a courtier to his master Assurbanipal, king of Assyria. And so, as Kimchi says in his Lexicon, s.v. משח and as Saadiah says in his Emunoth w'Deoth, the Prophet in Isaiah 61:1, 2 puts into the mouth of Messiah a description of the glories of his reign: "The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." What wonder if the Lord Jesus, conscious of the changes that His coming would call forth; remembering the comfort that the good news would bring to those in sorrow of heart; the work that His servants would do in alleviating the misery of prisoners (yes, and in literally setting free from prison many a man and woman, who in earlier times would have been kept there); foreseeing also the impetus that His coming was to give to the medical art, and the consequent release of many a blind man from the darkness in which he lived for years; remembering also the liberty of soul to be enjoyed by the sinner, when he experiences in his own heart the knowledge of the redemption procured for Him by the Messiah I ask again, can we wonder that the Lord Jesus made this proclamation of the character of His reign, when He first stood up to preach in the synagogue at Nazareth? Regard the Lord Jesus as we may, it cannot be denied by any thoughtful person, be he Gentile or Jew, that His coming was the beginning of a new era of spiritual power, of mental activity, of the ever-increasing conquest of social enormities and physical ills. The claim in the synagogue at Nazareth that a new kingdom had begun, established on the lines foretold by the prophet, has been fully justified at the bar of history.
411] R. Isaac, however, raises a twofold objection to the quotation of the passage from Isaiah made in the Gospel. He says that it is inaccurate, both in its language and in its general tenour.
Probably it has often occurred to the readers of the Chizzuk Emunah that its arguments are intended for use among Gentiles, and not for home consumption among the Jews. Its author may well have expected a Gentile reader to be impressed, for example, by the argument that a quotation found in the New Testament is inaccurate, and that therefore the writing in which it occurs is to be rejected as untrustworthy. But he must have known better than to suppose that any Jew worthy of the name, with at least some knowledge of Jewish literature, would be caught by it. For every Jew who has read even a few pages of Talmud or Midrash knows perfectly well that quotations in those writings from the Hebrew Bible are almost as often inaccurate as accurate, But he does not, for that reason, turn round and refuse to have any more to do with books and writers which can make such mistakes. On the contrary, he is well acquainted with the fact that the more accurately persons know their Bible, and the more directly they have in their minds, when they are writing or arguing, persons who know the Scriptures as well as they do themselves, the more easily they omit words, or add clauses from other contexts, if, by doing so, they can either make their argument more concise, or can express it more clearly. With Jewish writers mere verbal accuracy in a quotation is almost of no importance at all. When a Jew, in arguing with a Gentile, pretends that it is, he is presuming on the Gentile's ignorance of things Jewish.
412] Into the reasons for the inaccuracies in this quotation it is hardly necessary to enter. J. Z. Lichtenstein,* on the basis of Azariah dei Rossi's Meor 'Enayim, c. ix., argues that as the quotation agrees verbally neither with the Hebrew nor with the Septuagint, it was probably taken from an Aramaic translation, a Targum, which was used in the synagogue at Nazareth instead of the Hebrew text. But it can hardly be true, as this theory presupposes that in the time of our Lord Hebrew rolls existed only at Jerusalem or in the houses of wealthy men, and that the synagogue of even a small town, such as Nazareth, did not possess one. It is indeed probable that there was an Aramaic version of the Scriptures in use in Palestine at that date, but we have at present no direct evidence of its existence, and therefore cannot fall back upon this suggestion. It seems more likely that the narrator has combined in his account the words of our Lord's explanation with those of the passage of Holy Writ which He had just read.* In his reply to R. Isaac, Chizzuk Emunath Emeth, 1879.413] It is more serious that the Rabbi complains that the Evangelist misrepresents the tenour of the Prophet's language. He asserts that the prophet not only speaks the words in his own person, but also intends them to afford comfort to those who were to be long years in Exile, so that they should not forsake the Law of God. Had the Evangelist, he says, only quoted the verses further on in the chapter, and as well as those which preceded it, it would have been clear that there was no reference to Jesus at all; Isaiah was thinking of the Jews in Exile, not of any deliverance brought about by the Messiah. So at least seems to be the meaning of the Rabbi's remarks.
414] I grant quite frankly that the Prophet's words were intended to comfort the exiles in Babylon. But, as Kimchi and Saadiah saw, the language is too great to fit the prophet himself, similar words had already been placed in the mouth of the Servant of the LORD (42:1, 48:16, compare 49:1 sqq., 50:4 sqq.), and the blessings described had been already attributed to the "shoot out of the stock of Jesse" in 11:1-9
. And, in any case, even if it could be shown that the words were to be referred to the Prophet himself, the events are far greater than can be satisfied by the blessing received in the return from the Exile. They refer much more naturally to the great Redemption to which the Prophet and the Exiles alike looked forward, the coming of the King whom all Israel was expecting. If so, Jesus (who believed Himself to be that King), and the Evangelist (who fully accepted Him as such), cannot be blamed for quoting them. The words accurately describe the work of Jesus, as it has become known in history, and as it promises to show itself in ever-increasing measure. Would that all the professed followers of Jesus were doing their part to bring home to all men the reality of His rule, by the submission of their own lives and characters to Him!
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatriceí den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
37. TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK.(Luke 6:27-29) "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you. To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and from him that taketh away thy cloke withhold not thy coat also."
Compare Matthew 5:39: "But I say unto you, Resist not him that is evil: but whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." See paragraphs 325-332.
415] Nothing seems more astonishing to an Englishman who is discussing the New Testament with a Jew than the forgetfulness of the latter that the New Testament was written at first by Eastern teachers for Eastern people, and that therefore many of its sayings were never intended to be understood literally. Yet it is seldom that a Jew makes a similar mistake with regard to the writings which he himself accepts and honours. How ridiculous, for example, it would be, if, after reading in T. B. Baba Qama, 92b: "If thy companion calls thee an ass make thy back feel the saddle," he were, when called an ass, to go off straightway to the stable, and, fetching out the saddle, solemnly proceed to fasten it on himself, because, as he asserts, he desires to carry out the precepts of his teachers! How completely he would be misunderstanding, not only their words, but even the very spirit of their charge!
So also is it with these passages of the New Testament. When R. Isaac solemnly remarks that he has not seen any Christian turn his cheek to be smitten the second time, he forgets that in all probability Christ never supposed any of His hearers would be so stupid, so slow at the "uptake," as our Scottish friends would say, as not to understand that He was using a figure of speech. "Of two evils choose the less." It is better to suffer more injury than to lose one's temper; it is better (do not the Jews themselves somewhere say so?) to be among the number of the afflicted than to be among those that afflict; it is better to be of those that are persecuted than of those that persecute.
Christ Himself shows us that He did not intend His words to be understood absolutely but relatively, for when He was struck by an officer in front of the High Priest, He did not, in the senseless literal fashion that R. Isaac would have us interpret His saying, turn His face round on the other side to receive another blow, but quietly, and without any feeling of irritation or vexation whatever, asked for legal treatment and proper behaviour: "If I have spoken evil bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?" (John 18:23).
416] R. Isaac thinks that he scores another point against us Christians when he says that St. Paul objected to being smitten on the mouth, and cursed the High Priest who ordered this blow to be given him. But he forgets that no Christian claims perfection for St. Paul, and also that St. Paul apologized for speaking thus of the High Priest, and frankly confessed his ignorance that his judge held that high position: "I wist not, brethren, that he was high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of a ruler of thy people" (Acts 23:5). In fact, he carried out the spirit of the Lord's command, at least as soon as he was informed of the status of his judge. Christ's words plainly meant that His followers were not to pay back evil with evil. For, as Mr. C. G. Montefiore says: "Not to answer rudeness by rudeness, to suppress a retort, to forgive an injury what are all these things and dozens like them but not resisting evil?" (The Synoptic Gospels, 1909, ii. 514).
417] Enough has been said to show that when R. Isaac goes on to argue that the passage shows the extreme difficulty of keeping the Christian religion, he is lying under a misapprehension of its true meaning, for it regards the heart, not the merely external action. But we have already considered the relative difficulty of Judaism and Christianity in paragraphs 179, 352-355, and it is not necessary to repeat what has there been said. To put the matter in a nutshell, compared with Judaism, Christianity is far easier for the repentant sinner, and far harder for the conscientious believer.
38. WASHING HANDS.(Luke 11:37-41) "A Pharisee asketh him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter; but your inward part is full of extortion and wickedness. Ye foolish ones, did not he that made the outside make the inside also? Howbeit give for alms those things which are within; and behold, all things are clean unto you." Compare Matthew 15:1-11. Chapter 38
418] Our Rabbi is surprised that in spite of these words Christians do wash their hands before meals. Certainly. Why not? Would he have us go dirty? Christ did not tell us not to wash our hands. What He said was that it was not necessary to wash them. And we have obeyed Him. No Christian makes a conscience of eating with washed hands; washing is not to him a religious action, as it was to the Pharisees, for fear that otherwise they might by some possibility partake of something ceremonially unclean.
419] R. Isaac also says that he can see no sense in the answer given to the Pharisee. If so, it is because he has not considered the connexion of thought. The Pharisee blamed our Lord for eating with unwashen hands. Christ speaks in reply of ritual washing generally, and points out that there is always a danger of caring about the ritual, and neglecting that which the ritual represents. The cleansing of the heart is more important than the cleansing of the hands; it is better to give the contents of the dishes in alms to the poor than to be so very particular about the polishing of the outside! What fault can the most orthodox Jew find with such teaching?
See also paragraphs 152-159, 348, 478.
39. THE PARABLE OF THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS.(Luke 16:19-31) "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich manís table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abrahamís bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my fatherís house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." Chapter 39
420] R. Isaac here repeats his false impression of Christian doctrine about the Fall and its effects, which we have already considered in paragraphs 126-130.
40. CHRIST PRAYS HIS FATHER TO FORGIVE HIS ENEMIES.(Luke 23:34. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Chapter 40
421] Here we have another of those delightful dilemmas on the horns of which R. Isaac tries to impale us Christians. He tells us we say that God afflicted the Jews because of their ill-treatment of Jesus; if so, then God did not hear the prayer of Jesus; on the other hand, if He did hear the prayer of Jesus, then the Jews were not punished because of their treatment of Him.
At any rate every Jew must confess that Jesus here gives a practical exemplification of His own charge in 6:28: "Bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you," and that "at the supreme and most difficult moment" (C. G. Montefiore, The Synoptic Gospels, 1909, ii. 1079).
422] Yet was His prayer not heard, even though the Jews were punished for their treatment of Him? If He was all He claimed to be, the supreme revelation to them of the will of God, would it not have been much worse punishment if they had either been destroyed utterly, or left alone to go on as before? Is not chastisement one of the surest signs of love, though not, of course, of satisfaction with the person loved? As Moses interceded so also did Jesus intercede; the preservation of the Jews until this very day is the surest proof that His prayer was heard.
It may, however, be questioned whether it is right to limit this prayer to the Jews. Many have thought that He had in mind the Roman soldiers who were the instruments in putting Him to death. I do not know. I am glad that I am not called upon to decide. But two things are clear; first, that neither the Roman soldiers nor the Jews were conscious of the enormity of the sin they were committing; and secondly, that both Gentiles and Jews have reaped the benefit of that prayer. It breathes the very spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. For He came not to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17). We none of us know the depth and awfulness of any sin we commit. It is God's crowning mercy that forgiveness has been won for us by Christ, that God's pardon for our sins may be obtained on our petition.
41. JOHN THE BAPTIST DENIES THAT HE WAS EITHER ELIJAH OR THE PROPHET.(John 1:21) "And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No." Chapter 41
423] We have already dealt with both parts of this verse in paragraphs 269-275.
CHRIST ADDRESSES His MOTHER BY THE TITLE OF "WOMAN."(John 2:4, 19:26) 2:4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come...19:26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Chapter 42
424] R. Isaac remarks that Jesus here gives to His mother the title of אשה, which always means a married woman, whereas if Christians are right in believing in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary He ought to have called her בתולה.
How ridiculous a learned Rabbi can sometimes be! Besides he is quite wrong in his facts. The use of אשה proves nothing at all. For if the reader will be good enough to look at the very first passage in Scripture where the word occurs, he will find that when Eve was made, before she was brought to Adam, she was called אשה. No doubt Christ used the term as an ordinary title of respect. It is perhaps hardly necessary to mention again that the doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity of the mother of our Lord is at best only a pious belief, and not generally accepted among Protestant Christians. See paragraph 302.
43. HEROD'S TEMPLE FORTY-SIX YEARS IN BUILDING.(John 2:20) "The Jews therefore said, Forty and six years was this temple in building." Chapter 43
425] It is asserted by R. Isaac, and many of the less instructed Jews of our own time, that this statement is wrong. For in the first place Herod the Great, who built it, reigned only thirty-seven years in all; and secondly, Josephus expressly tells us that it was built in eight years (Antt. XV. xi. 5, sect. 420).
The proof looks clear, does it not? Yet I wonder that the objectors do not read a little further, and say, also with Josephus, that the Temple itself was built in a year and a half (Antt. XV. xi. 6, sect. 421). They have, however, overlooked the fact that the former passage really refers only to the building of the cloisters and the outer enclosures, and, much more important, that Josephus also tells us that at the end of the procuratorship of Albinus (64 A.D.) the Temple was "finished" (Antt. XX. ix. 7, sect. 219). How long, then, did it take? Not a short year and a half; not only eight years; but if, as seems to be the case (Josephus, War, I. xxi. 1, sect. 401), it was begun about 20 B.C., some eighty-four years in all. This at least is what Josephus really tells us, if we take into consideration not only one or two of his passages, but all three.
426] It may, however, be asked, Why, then, in the Gospel do the Jews say only forty-six years, and not eighty-four? Because they were speaking at a time when only forty-six years had elapsed. Their words do not mean, do not even imply, that the Temple was actually finished when they spoke, but that it had already been forty-six years in building. The supposed difficulty then falls to the ground. Observe, by the bye, that the verse serves as an approximate guide to the date of our Lord's conversation. It must have been held in about the year 26 A.D. This agrees with the probable date of His birth. For, as is well known, the early calculators made a mistake in reckoning the commencement of the present era by some four or five years at least too late.
44. THE INCARNATE CHRIST.(John 6:38) "For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." Chapter 44
427] Those who have not yet accepted the Christian Faith seem to us Christians to be singularly slow in understanding what that faith is. For we must set it down to ignorance of the nature of Christianity when we find R. Isaac asking in all seriousness whether this saying of Christ's refers to the descent of His body from heaven or of His soul, and further pointing out that if it was His body then the saying is contrary to the statement in the Gospel according to St. Luke, that He was born at Bethlehem. But it would never occur to a Christian to suppose for one moment that Christ here intended to say that His body came down from heaven. It is self-evident to him that this was not the case.
428] Then, says our Rabbi triumphantly, it must be His soul which is said to have come down! But this is true of every man's soul; wherein then lies the superiority of Jesus? But he is mistaken again. Christians never suppose that Christ meant that His soul came down from heaven into a body which was from earth. What they affirm is this, and this is the meaning of Christ's words here, that Christ as a Person came down from heaven, and took a human soul and a human body, both of which were as truly and as completely human as those of ordinary men. In this verse, that is to say, Christ claims to have existed before He became man, and to have come down to earth in order to become man. Perhaps we Christians see the difficulty, as well as the magnificence, of this belief at least as clearly as do Jews, but at any rate let there be no misunderstanding as to what Christians believe. To remove misunderstanding is one of the principal objects of this course of studies in Jewish and Christian controversy.
429] Our Lord's words, however, suggest to the Rabbi another question. Christ says that He has come "not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." On this R. Isaac remarks: "This shows that the sender is not one with the sent, for the will of the sent is not like the will of the sender."
With regard to this it should be noticed that Christ does not say that His will was different from His Father's, as though He Himself desired one thing and His Father another. There is no trace of such opposition here. On the contrary, He was content to do His Father's will whatever it might mean for Him in suffering.
Yet it is probable that what the Rabbi intended to say was that Jesus' words indicate the existence of two wills, His own and His Father's, and that, in the connexion in which the words were spoken, this indicates that in the Divine "Persons" (to use the only term at our disposal, imperfect though it is) there were and are separate and distinct wills, although, as we Christians believe as strongly as Jews, there is One God and One God only.
430] With regard, however, to the existence of a will in each of the Divine "Persons," there is little to be said, because we are on the threshold of truths which far surpass the limits of human thought. Every one acknowledges that at first it seems contradictory to affirm that in the one Godhead there is more than one will, but religious and philosophic thought soon finds itself at a loss when it endeavours to grasp the significance of expressions revealing the nature and essence of the Divine. Given a Teacher of so holy a character, so far-seeing a vision, so remarkable a power as Jesus of Nazareth, it is but true wisdom to accept His statements of the Being of God, and to endeavour to understand them as far as we can.
431] It must, however, not be forgotten that when Christ spoke these words He had in mind not the Son in heaven, but Himself living and working upon earth. In this case, then, it is plain that as He was fully man He had a will, distinct from that of God. And He may well have been thinking chiefly of this will, and have intended to say that it (though distinct from the will of His Father) was nevertheless always entirely given up to carrying out the desires, not of Himself, but of that Father in heaven. He claims that as man He desired nothing but what His Father willed. Even so the claim is great, but only because it transcends our own experience. Nothing less could be expected of Jesus if He was as faultless as He is described in the Gospels. True that (with this interpretation) the verse lays stress on the manhood of the Lord Jesus. But no Christian will object to this. For if Jews will only understand that for Christians Jesus Christ is absolutely and entirely man, as well as absolutely and entirely God, they will cease from adducing as arguments against Christian teaching any of those passages in the New Testament which insist on His manhood. We grant to the very uttermost that He was man, and we do but wish that our own wills were like His will, completely handed over to our Father in heaven, content to do and to bear His will. For therein lies peace and unutterable joy.
45. THE UNBELIEF OF THE LORD'S BRETHREN.(John 7:5) "For even his brethren did not believe on him." Chapter 45
432] The Rabbi has already spoken of this in Chapters 29, 32 (see paragraphs 385-390, 401, and also 536), and apparently returns to it here only because it gives him an opportunity of heaping up abuse on our Lord. It is sufficient to refer the reader to the discussion upon those sections.
46. R. JOSHUA BEN PERACHIAH.(John 7:15) "The Jews therefore marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" Chapter 46
433] This again is not true, says our Rabbi, for Jesus the Nazarene was a scholar of R. Joshua ben Perachiah, and fled with him to Alexandria because of King Jannai, as the wise men of that generation testified in the Talmud, when they saw him with their eyes.
R. Isaac rightly understands the Evangelist to mean that our Lord had not received technical instruction from recognized Rabbinic teachers, and he flatly denies that statement. What is his authority for his denial? The Karaite sceptic (כוסר), as J. Z. Lichtenstein writes in his Chizzuk Emunath Emeth, here appeals to the Talmud! Certainly indeed he shows that he does not know much about that famous work, for he thinks, in the first place, that its authors lived at the same time as Christ, instead of four or five hundred years later; and, in the second place, that R. Joshua ben Perachiah was a contemporary of Jesus, instead of living, as he did, some eighty years before His birth! For observe that R. Isaac informs us when R. Perachiah lived; it was in the time of King Jannaeus, who persecuted the Rabbis, about 87 B.C. So we are told in T. B. Sanhedrin, 107b; Sota, 47a; which may be consulted very conveniently in Strack's Jesus, die Hæretiker und die Christen, 1910, sect. 8b, c. Strack further adds (pp. 33 sq.) that learned Jewish scholars like Z. Frankel and Gratz consider that the statement in the Babylonian Talmud is spun out of a somewhat similar statement in the Jerusalem Talmud (Chagiga, II. 2, p. 77d) (where, however, the name of R. Perachiah's pupil is not given), and is quite untrustworthy. In fact, no scholar of to-day believes it for a moment. It is a mare's nest.
434] Observe, however, the impression made by the Lord Jesus upon His audience. They were learned men, and perceived that His method of discussion, and the phrases by which He expressed Himself, did not correspond with those which were in favour among themselves. Yet they could not withhold their admiration at the matter of His teaching, and the far-seeing power that it revealed. For in spite of His evident want of scholastic training, He went to the root of things, and spoke with deep theological knowledge. Yes, for, after all, there is something better than that poring over the minutiæ of pilpul which is so dear to many a learned Jew; and there is something more inspiring than even the most original lectures at a great University. God is at the centre of things, and he who is most in touch with Him has the truest understanding of theology. It was this which marked the Lord Jesus throughout His courseHis abiding communion with His Father in heaven, and His consequent insight into spiritual facts. The learned Rabbis around Him might well wonder; He drew His inspiration from heaven, and revealed to them the will of God, and the truth concerning Him.
47. THE ADULTERESS.(John 8:3-11) "The scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman taken in adultery; and . . . they say unto him . . . Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such: but what sayest thou of her? And this they said, tempting him, that they might have whereof to accuse him. But Jesus . . . said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her . . . and Jesus lifted up himself, and said unto her, Woman, where are they? Did no man condemn thee? And she said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more." Chapter 47
435] The incident appears shocking to R. Isaac, because, in the first place, he says, the decision of Jesus is against the Law; next, it is contrary both to human laws and even to Christian practice; lastly, it would lead, if carried out logically, to the destruction of all laws, and ultimately to that of the human race.
436] Yet, in reality, the Rabbi is making much ado about nothing. For his whole argument is based upon the assumption that Jesus gave here a legal decision, whereas nothing was further from His thoughts.
Observe that if the Scribes and Pharisees had been really sincere in their demand that the Law should be kept, they would either have brought the guilty man with them, as well as the guilty woman, or, if that was not possible, at least would have included him in their statement of the case. For those passages of the Law to which they appealed definitely condemn the man to death as much as the woman. See Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22. For some reason, however, they did not do this, and so they have laid themselves open to the suspicion that they did not really care about the fulfilment of the Law.
437] We can indeed hardly be judging them unjustly if we attribute another motive to them. Their question was a mere trap for the Teacher from Galilee. Just as on another occasion they tried to ensnare Him over the question whether it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not (Matt 22:15-22
), in the hope that He would either appear to zealous Jews to be contradicting the letter of the Mosaic Law, or else would embroil Himself with the Roman authorities, so it was now. If He let the woman off, it was clearly against the Torah; if He condemned her to death, capital punishment was at that time the prerogative of Rome (John 18:31). But our Lord, it will be observed, never answered their question. He was not a judge, a legally appointed representative of justice, and He refused to act as one (Luke 12:14).
15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesarís. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesarís; and unto God the things that are Godís. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.
438] Besides, we must remember that the work of Jesus was something much greater, much further-reaching, than that of adding to the countless number of legal decisions. His aim was not to decide questions of Law, but to convince people of their own sin, and so to bring them in humility to God. Hence it was, that, as the Scribes and Pharisees waited round Him, thinking that now at last He was in a hopeless dilemma, He solemnly looked at them and said: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Yet what tenderness He showed even to them! For when He had said this He looked down again, that He might not see their blushes, and one by one they went away, each convicted that he himself at least (whatever might be the case with the others) was not so free from sin that he could dare take the leading part in the execution of this sinful woman.
Then Jesus spoke to the woman, asking her if she had been formally condemned, and on her replying in the negative, added that neither would He, for His part, pronounce formal condemnation on her. But His last words showed plainly enough what He thought, for He bade her sin no more.
May we not hope that such a deliverance from the threatening of the Scribes and Pharisees to bring her to death, with the solemn warning of the holy Teacher, would combine to lead her to see the awfulness of her sin, and bring her to true repentance? Certain it is, at least, that the faithful and wise attitude of our Lord has not had that dire effect upon morals and law which is predicated of it by the Rabbi, and that the teaching of Jesus has always been the great incentive to purity and holiness, when His followers have endeavoured to obey it.
48. DID JESUS CLAIM TO BE GOD?(John 8:40) "But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I heard from God." Chapter 48
439] One can hardly be surprised that a person seeking for arguments against our holy faith should lay hold of these words, and bid us notice that our Lord here calls Himself man, not God, but after all that we have said to our readers at different times about the reasons why the Lord Jesus called Himself man, we can hardly suppose it to be necessary to repeat ourselves now. Suffice it to say that no Christian denies for a moment that Jesus was man, and therefore fully acknowledges that it was only right for Him to use the term of Himself. See what has been said on Part 1, Chapter 10, paragraphs 113, 114. See also paragraph 200 and also the remarks on Part 2, Chapter 44, paragraphs 427-431, with reference to John 6:38. As for R. Isaac's statement that our Lord never called Himself God, it is enough to refer the reader to paragraph 123, and to the discussions on 50, 51 of this Part (par 441-447). The Lord Jesus knew that He was man, and knew also that He was God, incredible though it seems to our Jewish friends, and He referred sometimes to the one fact, and sometimes to the other.
49. ONE FLOCK AND ONE SHEPHERD.(John 10:16) "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock, one shepherd." Chapter 49
440] The vision of our Lord goes forth beyond the immediate present to the distant future, and to many other countries than Palestine, as well as to numberless other races than that of Israel, and wonderfully indeed has His prophecy been fulfilled! But our Rabbi strangely uses the verse as an occasion for an attack upon our Lord and His followers. For he not only says that our Lord here speaks the truth, in saying that there shall be one religion and one king, according to the testimony of the prophets (and so far every Christian will agree with the Jew), but proceeds to argue that this religion will be that of Israel, and the King the Jewish Messiah. Even to this, in itself, we can make no objection. But what the Rabbi means is that Christianity is not the religion of Israel, which we utterly deny, and that Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah.
But why should we trouble our readers over and over again? They will find the errors of the Rabbi's arguments exposed, as regards the one religion, in paragraphs 31-34, and the one king in paragraphs 15, 25-30, 79.
50. JESUS ONE WITH THE FATHER.(John 10:30) "I and the Father are one." Chapter 50
441] These words of the Lord Jesus are very important, and demand our careful consideration. For from them, as R. Isaac says, Christians deduce the oneness of essence of the Father and the Son.
(1) Against this interpretation the Rabbi brings once more his favourite text, Mark 13:32, but we have already considered this in paragraphs 114, 399 sq.
442] (2) He brings forward a more serious argument by saying, on the authority of a Socinian writer, Martin Czechowitz, who died in 1608,* that Jesus' words do not necessarily mean that the Father and the Son are of one essence, for St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:8: "Now he that planteth [St. Paul] and he that watereth [Apollos] are one," which does not mean that St. Paul and Apollos were one man, but only that they worked together with the same aim and purpose. What have we Christians to say in reply? This, that no one ever supposed that our Lord's words in themselves necessarily conveyed the usual Christian interpretation of them, but that when they are considered in their context they do necessarily convey it. For read the passage. In verse 28 Jesus said: "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one is able to snatch them out of my hand." Then in verse 29: "My Father, which hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." There we have similarity, and, as it would seem, equality of infinite power, predicated of both the Father and the Son. Can beings possess equality of infinite power and yet be distinct in essence?* The reference is to his Colloquium trium dierum, p. 60, which was published in Latin and in Polish.Further, how did they who listened to our Lord understand Him? This at least is certain. For the Jews were so furious with Him that they took up stones to cast at Him, and when He asked the reason, they replied, "For blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." To them His meaning was quite clear; by saying "I and the Father are one "He claimed to be God, in the highest possible sense of the term. Yet, as the words are recorded for us in the Greek, there are two points which ought not to be overlooked. First, the word "one" is in the neuter gender, not the masculine. Our Lord does not, that is to say, mean that He is identical in personality (for want of a better term) with the Father, but that He is one in essence with Him. Secondly, that along with this unity He and the Father remain distinct; He says "are," not "am." He claims, while remaining other than the Father, to be of one essence with Him.
443] (3) What! says our Rabbi, claim to be God indeed! That is blasphemy! Then He rightly met the fate of Nebuchadnezzar and the Prince of Tyre! Every Christian must confess that R. Isaac is right, perfectly right, if Jesus was not God. But if He was, where is the blasphemy? The fact is that a Jew never argues out, either with himself or with others, the question whether Jesus was divine. He always assumes that He was not, and endeavours to meet the Christian upon that assumption. He never looks the question fairly in the face. Can it possibly be that he is afraid to do so?
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