Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 8
(362) I HAVE proved by how many prophecies the coming of the Word of God to men was foretold, and that it was announced by the Hebrew prophets whence He should (b) come, and where and how He should be seen by men on earth, and that He was actually the Person, the eternal pre-existent Son of God, Whom we have learned to recognize by the other names of God and Lord and Chief Captain, and Angel of Great Counsel and High Priest. And I begin at this point, in continuance of the preceding proof, to give the evidence with reference to the period of His Appearing drawn again from prophetic predictions.
(363) The Holy Scriptures foretell that there will be unmistakable signs of the Coming of Christ. Now there were among the Hebrews three outstanding offices of dignity, which made the nation famous, firstly the kingship, secondly that of prophet, and lastly the high priesthood. The prophecies said that the abolition and complete destruction of all these three together would be the sign of the (b) presence of the Christ. And that the proofs that the times had come, would lie in the ceasing of the Mosaic worship, the desolation of Jerusalem and its Temple, and the subjection of the whole Jewish race to its enemies. They suggest other signs of the same times as well, an abundance of peace, the overturning in nation and city of immemorial local and national forms of government, the |97 conquest of polytheistic and daemonic idolatry, the knowledge of the religion of God the one Supreme Creator. The holy oracles foretold that all these changes, which had (c) not been made in the days of the prophets of old, would take place at the coming of the Christ, which I will presently shew to have been fulfilled as never before in accordance with the predictions. I have already, you will remember, accounted for the Christ coming in these last times and not long ago, but I will here shortly repeat myself. In the old days the souls of men were tyrannized over by squalid folly and sin, and a strange godlessness ruled (d) over all human life, so that men were like wild and untamed beasts. They knew nothing of cities, or constitutions, or laws, nor anything honourable or progressive; they set no store on arts and sciences, they had no conception of virtue and philosophy, they lived in lonely deserts, in mountains, caves, and villages; they preyed on their neighbours like robbers, and gained their livelihood mostly by tyrannizing over those weaker than themselves. But though they did not know the Supreme God, nor the path of true religion, yet inspired by conceptions of natural religion they agreed in self-taught principles about the (364) existence of a divine power, regarded it as and called it God, and considered the name one of salvation and beneficence, but they were not yet able to realize anything beyond a Being transcending the world of visible nature. Wherefore some of them—
25. "worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator; 21. and they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; 23. and they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things."
And so they made images of their kings and tyrants long dead, and paid them divine honours, and by imputing divinity to them sanctified their wicked and lustful deeds as works of the gods. |98
How could the wise and good word of Christ, instilling the (c) quintessence of wisdom, be in harmony with men in that condition, and involved in such depths of evil? So that holy and all-seeing Justice, pruning them like a wild and dangerous wood, now afflicted them by floods, now by fire, now delivered them to wars, butchery and sieges at one another's hands, urged on as they were to war against (d) each other by those very daemons whom they regarded as their gods, with the result that human life in those days admitted no neighbourly intercourse, mutual association or union. Those were few, as might be expected in such days, and easily numbered, who, as the Hebrew oracles tell us, were found to be godly; with such, Justice met by the use of oracles and theophanies, she took them by the hand and cared for them with the elementary but helpful Mosaic legislation.
But when at last by the legislation laid down for them, and by the later teaching of the prophets poured out like a sweet smell upon all men, the character of the people became civilized, and constitutions and legal systems were (365) established among most nations, and the name of virtue and philosophy became popularly honoured, as if their old savagery had ceased and their wild and cruel life were transferred to something gentler: then at length, at the fitting time, the perfect and heavenly teacher of perfect and heavenly thoughts and teaching, the leader to the (b) true knowledge of God, God the Word, revealed Himself, at the time announced for His Incarnation, preaching the Gospel of the Father's love, the same for all nations, whether Greeks or Barbarians, to every race of men, moving all to a common salvation in God, promising the truth and light of true religion, the kingdom of Heaven, and eternal life to all.
Such, then, is my account of the reasons why the Christ (c) of God shone forth on all men now and not long ago. |99
We will now, retracing our steps, examine in detail the signs portending His Coming, first noting what is said in the Gospels about the date of His Birth. Matthew then records the date of His appearance in the flesh, thus: "When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judrea, in the days of Herod the king"; and a little later, he says: "Hearing that Archelaus reigned over Judaea, instead of Herod his father." And Luke shewed the date of His teaching and (d) manifestation, saying :
"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, Herod tctrarch of Galilee, and his brother, Philip, tetrarch of Ituraea and the land of Trachonitis; and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being High Priests."
With these we shall do well to compare the prophecy of Jacob given by Moses to this effect.
CHAPTER 1 (366)
Of the Time of His Appearance among Men. How at the Time which the Hebrews fail of their Kingdom, the Expectation of the Gentiles shall approach, which also came to pass at Our Saviour's Appearing.
1. "Jacob called his sons and said, Come together (b) and hear what shall befall you at the end of the days. Come together and hear, ye sons of Jacob, hear your father."
Then, after rebuking his elder sons, one for one thing, one for another, as being unworthy because of their sins (c) of the prophecy about to be given, he prophesies thus to his fourth son, as having shewn himself a better man than his brothers:
8. " Judah, thy brethren shall praise the, | thy hands shall be on the back of thy enemies, | the sons of thy father shall bow down to thee. | 9. Judah is a lion's |100 whelp, | Thou hast sprung up, my son, from a slip. | Lying down thou didst sleep as a lion and a whelp, | Who shall arouse thee? | 10. A ruler shall not fail from Judah, | nor a governor from his loins, | until the things laid up for him come, | and he is the expectation of the nations."
First, consider what is meant by "the things laid up for him," and see if they be not the prophecies about the calling of the Gentiles, that God gave to those with Abraham. For it is written, that God said to Abraham :
"And thou shalt be blessed, and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
"Abraham," he says, "shall become a great and mighty nation, and in him shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."
Similar oracles were spoken to Isaac in this wise :
"And I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and in thy seed shall all nations of the world be blessed."
And also to Jacob this is said :
"I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac, fear not."
And then :
"And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
And at another time God said to him :
"I am thy God, increase and multiply: nations and assemblies of nations shall come out of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins."
Jacob, who knew the predictions of God concerning the calling of the nations, having twelve sons, called them all together to his deathbed, to discover in the line of which son God's predictions would be fulfilled. And, then, having laid rebukes on the three first for their wrongdoings, he tells them also that the fulfilment of the prophecies will not come about through them because of their wicked deeds. But coming to the fourth, who was |101 Judah, he at once prophesies to him that the oracle, which says, "kings shall come from thy loins," will be fulfilled in his descendants. For it was plain that the kingly family was established in the tribe of Judah: and (c) he shews at the same lime at what period the prophecies of God and the promises to the Gentiles will fall due, and he teaches that one will come forth from him who will cause all nations and tribes to be admitted to the blessings of Abraham. All these things, then, were "the things laid up for him," that is to say, the ancient prophecies concerning the nations, and the words, "kings shall come (d) out of thee," whereby his tribe has precedence of those of his brethren, as royal and pre-eminent.
Directly the whole nation was organized in the time of Moses God gave his tribe the chief rank among the tribes. For it is written:
"And the Lord spake to Moses and Aaron, saying, Let the children of Israel encamp fronting one another, every man keeping his own rank, according to their standards, according to the houses of their families before the Lord, around the tabernacle of witness; and they that encamp first towards the east, shall be the order of the camp of Judah with their host."
And later in the part that refers to the renewing of the sanctuary:
"The Lord said to Moses, One prince each day shall offer their gifts. And he that offered the first day was Naason, son of Aminadab, prince of the tribe of Judah."
And in the Book of Joshua, son of Nave, when the land of promise was divided by lot among the other tribes, the tribe of Judah took its own portion of the land without casting lots, and first of all. And, moreover, "After the death of Joshua the children of Israel inquired of the Lord, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanite, leading our fighting against him? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up. Behold, I have given the land into his hands." These words, then, make it clear that God (b) |102 ordained the tribe of Judah to be the head of all Israel, and the account goes on: "And Judah went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanite and Perizzite into his hand." And also: "And the children of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it, and the sons of Judah came down from fighting against the Canaanite." And again: "And Judah went up with Symeon, his brother." And then: "And the Lord was with Judah, and gave him the Mount as his portion." And after this: "And the sons of Joseph went up, they also who were in Bethel, and Judah with (c) them." And in the Book of Judges, when different men at different times were at the head of the people, though individually the Judges were of different tribes, yet speaking generally the tribe of Judah was head of the whole people, and much more so in the times of David and his successors, who belonged to the tribe of Judah, and continued to rule until the Babylonian Captivity, after which the leader of those who returned from Babylon to their own land was Zerubbabel, the son of Salathiel, of the tribe of Judah, who also built the Temple. Hence, too, the Book of Chronicles, when giving the genealogies of the twelve tribes of Israel, (d) begins with Judah. And you will see it follows from this that, in the days that succeeded, the same tribe had the headship, although different individuals had temporary leadership, whose tribes it is impossible to decide with accuracy, because there is no sacred book handed down to give the history of the period from then to the time of our Saviour. But it is true to say that the tribe of Judah continued so long as the free and autonomous constitution of the whole nation lasted under its own leaders and kings. And this was the case from the beginning until the time of Augustus, (369) when, after our Saviour's appearance among men, the whole nation became subject to Rome. And then instead of their ancestral and constitutional rulers they were ruled first by Herod, a foreigner, and next by the Emperor Augustus. And so long as there had not yet failed a prince from Judah, nor a leader from his loins, the dates of the prophecies are given from the reigns of the kings. Thus Isaiah prophesies in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. As did Hosea. Amos, in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and in the days of (b) Jeroboam, son of Joash, king of Israel; and Zephaniah |103 in the days of Josiah, son of Amos, king of Judah. And Jeremiah too. But when a prince failed from Judah, and a governor from his loins, when the expectation of the Gentiles foretold in Christ was just about to shine on human life, there were no longer any rulers styled kings in Judah or governors in Israel. And since they had failed at the appointed time in accordance with prophecy, Augustus first, and then Tiberius, was called king of the Jewish nation, in common with the other nations, and under (c) them were procurators and tetrarchs of Judaea, and Herod of course, who, as I have already said, was not a Jew by birth, and received his authority over the Jews from Rome.
After these observations, we will now attempt a consideration of the prophecy: "Judah, thy brethren shall praise thee." Jacob had twelve sons, the fourth being Judah, who as I have said already, was the one and only head of the Hebrew tribes. But it will be evident, that (d) the words addressed to him by his father did not refer to him as an individual man, if we consider the words of Holy Scripture, and especially the speech of Jacob to his sons:
"And Jacob called his sons to him, Come together and I will tell you what shall come to pass in the last days. Gather together and hear, ye sons of Jacob, hear Israel your father."
For he clearly promises here to predict what will happen to them a long time afterwards, or, in his own words, in the last days. And for other reasons what Jacob said could not apply to the first individual who bore the name of Judah. His brethren did not praise him: for what great deed of his could they have done so? It would have been more applicable, if it had been addressed to Joseph, for (370) we know that Judah himself with his other brethren bowed down to him, except of course that this happened before the prophecy; but afterwards there is no record of anything of the kind connected with Joseph, or Judah. And the words, "Thou didst fall and sleep as a lion and a lion's whelp," seem to call for a wider interpretation than one concerning Judah. The words that follow, too: "There shall not fail a prince from Judah, nor a governor from his loins, until that come which is laid up for him, and he is |104 (b) the expectation of nations," seem to me to give in a disguised form the time of the coming of the subject of the prophecy. For the one event, he says, will not take place, until the other does. The kings and rulers of the Jewish nation, that is, will not cease before the expectation of the nations shall come, and that which is laid up for the subject of the prophecy. Theodotion agrees with this rendering of the Septuagint, but Aquila thus translates:
"The sceptre shall not be removed from Judah, and he who knoweth exactly from between his feet, until also there come to him a congregation of people."
(c) And this saying, "There shall not fail a prince from Judah," cannot be referred to Judah as an individual man any more than, "Judah, thy brethren shall praise thee." For there were rulers and governors of the Jewish nation at many times who were not descended from him. Moses, for instance, its first ruler, was not of the tribe of Judah but of Levi. Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim; after whom their ruler was Deborah, of the tribe of Ephraim, and Barak
(d).of the tribe of Naphthali, then Gedeon of Manasseh, then Gedeon's son, and after him Thola of the same tribe, then Esebon of Bethlehem, and then Ailon of Zabulon, Labclon of Ephraim, and Samson of Dan; then there being no regular ruler, Eli the priest, of the tribe of Levi, was their leader, All these Judges judged Israel, not in the line of succession from Judah, but one from one tribe and one from another. And they were followed by the first king, Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin. How, then, can the words, "there shall not fail a prince from Judah, nor a governor (371) from his loins," be referred, as one would suppose they should be, to rulers and governors of the tribe of Judah, when from the time of Jacob's death, for nearly a thousand years, they do not appear to have been drawn from the tribe of Judah only, but some from one tribe, some from another, up to the time of David? And if it be true that David and his successors sprung from the tribe of Judah ruled the Jewish nation, after so many others, yet we must remember that they did not continue to rule the (b) whole people for the whole of those five hundred years, but only three tribes, and not the whole of them, for during their reigns other kings governed the larger part of the nation— that is to say, the whole of the other nine tribes. For after |105 the death of Solomon, since the whole nation was divided from Judah, the successors of David, as I said, did not rule the whole Jewish nation up to the time of the Babylonian Captivity. And in their times the heads of Samaria, which was the name of the State held by the nine tribes, were not drawn from Judah, but now from one tribe, now from (c) another, the first being Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephraim, and those immediately after him, so that in the period between David and the Babylonian Captivity, kings of the line of Judah never ruled the whole nation.
There is no need to add that after the return from Babylon for more than five hundred years again until the birth of Christ the Jewish constitution was aristocratic, the high priests, for the time being, acting as heads of the State, none of whom came from the tribe of Judah. So from all these reasons it is proved that there is no reference here to Judah the original individual, to his descendants, nor in the oracle that said: "A prince shall not fail from Judah, (d) nor a governor from his loins," but that the only consistent interpretation of the passage is the one I have already given, that we must understand it of the tribe as a whole. The tribe most certainly was leader of the whole nation from the very beginning, from Moses' own time. And in accordance with such headship, as being designed by God from the outset, the country is even now called Judaea after the tribe, and the whole race are known as Jews. We must, therefore, understand it to mean what would be expressed more clearly, if it were said that the tribe of Judah would never lose its headship of the whole nation. So Symmachus says: "The power shall not be taken away (372) from Judah," shewing of course the authority and the royal position of what was afterwards to be the tribe of Judah. From it neither "the sceptre," as Aquila says, this being the symbol of royal rule, nor "the power," according to Symmachus, shall be taken away, the prophecy affirms, "until he come," it says, "for whom it is laid up, and he shall be the expectation of the nations." What expectation was this, but that of which Abraham and those after him had received the prophecies? First, is it not very striking that (b) though there were twelve Hebrew tribes, the race even now |106 has its name from none but Judah? It can only be explained by the prophetic oracle, which attached the royal position to the tribe, of Judah. And it is for this same reason that their fatherland is called Judaea. For why was not the nation called after the eldest of the twelve, I mean (c) Reuben, according to the divine law of primogeniture? Why not from Levi, who was greater than Judah in order of birth, and also in receiving the priesthood? Why not, even more, was the race and the country not called after Joseph, from his acquiring rule not only over the whole of Egypt, but over his own relations, and because his descendants, long years after, were to rule as many as nine tribes of the nation, on whose account it was far more probable that the whole race and the country would have been named after their ancestor? And who would not agree (d) that they might reasonably have been called from Benjamin, since their famous mother-city and the all-holy Temple of of God was in the portion of his tribe? But yet, in spite of all, the name of the Lord and of the whole nation was . drawn from none of them but Judah, as the prophecy foretold. I have, therefore, referred the words, "A prince shall not fail from Judah," to the tribe, and only in that sense is the prediction true. For from the time of Moses there has not failed a continued line of rulers of part of the nation, drawn as I said from different tribes, but the tribe of Judah has all along stood forth as the head of the whole (373) nation. An illustration will make what I have said clear. Just as the procurators and governors appointed in the Roman Empire over nations, their praefects and military chiefs, and their highest kings, are not all drawn from |107 Rome nor from the seed of Remus and Romulus, but from many different races, and yet all their kings and the rulers and governors below them are all called Romans, and their power is named Roman, and the rule of them all generally has this appellation, in the same way we (b) should think of the Hebrew state, where you have the name of the tribe of Judah applied generally to the whole nation, though there be kings and governors of divisions from different tribes, but all honoured with the name of Judah. We understand then that the prophet's words: "Judah, thy brethren shall praise thee," were to be applied to the whole tribe. For he knew that being marked out for precedence it would be honoured more than the other tribes, and since it was best in warfare, and the sole leader of the whole nation in operations against the enemy, he rightly continues: "Thy hands shall be on the back of thy (c) enemies." Then for its ruling and royal position he calls it, "a lion's" whelp." And as ancestor and prophet, glorying in the reputation of the tribe, he adds: "From a seed, my son, thou hast ascended"; while the words: "Falling down thou hast slept as a lion, and as a lion's whelp," shew its character of terror and bravery, its utter fearlessness of external attack, and contempt of its foes. He being such, (d) or rather, his tribe being such, who, he says, shall arouse it? He suggests that the Person who is to remove the tribe in question from its throne, and move it from its royal position, will be some one great, wonderful, unusual, and hard to imagine. Then he tells us who it is to be, telling us that it is He Who is the Expectation of nations, of Whom it is predicted that He will only appear among men, when the ruler fails, and the governor is changed, and the tribe of Judah is removed from its position of power. Who is this, but our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?—at Whose birth, as the prophecy before us (374) predicted, the rulers and governors set over their nation from the Jews themselves would fail, the tribe of Judah lose the dominant and royal position that it had held over the nation for so long, and be subject to the Romans, their rulers from that day to this, who overcame the Jewish |108 (b) nation together with the rest of the world, and under whom Herod, a man of alien birth apart from their race, was appointed king by Augustus and the Roman Senate. For Herod was son of Antipater, and Antipater belonged to Ascalon, and was son of some temple-server at the Temple of Apollo, who married a woman named Kuprine, of Arab race, and begat Herod. He, you will remember, being sprung from this family, got rid of and slew Hyrcanus, the last of the line of ruling high-priests, with (c) whom the government of the Jews by native rulers came to an end, Herod being, as I say, the first foreigner to be called the King of the Jews. In his time Jesus Christ was born, and at one and the same time the position of the tribe of Judah was taken away, the authority of the kingdom of the Jews destroyed, and the prophecy preceding this fulfilled: "There shall not fail a prince from Judah, nor a governor from his loins, until there come the things laid up for him," who, he says, will not only be the expectation of the Jews, but of the Gentiles. As, therefore, the expectation of the call of the Gentiles, prophesied long (d) before to Abraham, was "laid up," until the rulers and governors of the Jewish race should have ceased, and their independent government should have been changed to submission to Rome, and to the Gentile Herod, the Evangelist Luke, noting the date of the cessation of Jewish rulers, tells us that the teaching of Christ began in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea; and Matthew says the same |109 in a disguised form. For having described the birth of our Lord and Saviour, he adds: "And when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judrea, in the days of Herod the king, behold wise men came from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is that which is born king of the Jews?" wherein he shews clearly enough both that they were under (375) foreign rule, and also the calling of the foreign nations from the East by God. For foreigners ruled over the Jews, and foreigners coming from the East recognized and worshipped the Christ of God, Who had been prophesied of old. The prophecy of Jacob is thus seen clearly to have been fulfilled, being brought to pass at the end of the national existence of the Jews, even as he predicted to his sons, saying: "Come together, that I may announce to you, what shall happen to you at the end of the days." (b) For we must understand by the end of the days the end of the national existence of the Jews. What, then, did he say they must look for? The cessation of the rule of Judah, the destruction of their whole race, the failing and ceasing of their governors, and the abolition of the dominant kingly position of the tribe of Judah, and the rule and kingdom of Christ, not over Israel but over all nations, according to the words, "This is the expectation of the nations."
And who would not agree that all this has been definitely (c) fulfilled in the coming of our Saviour, when they who of old before Christ's birth, with their native rulers and governors and wise hearers of the holy oracles, prided themselves in their own kings, high priests and prophets, and when the tribe of Judah, being the royal tribe, the conqueror of their enemies, the leader and ruler of the whole nation, with its men of old renown has from that day to this lain under the heel of Rome? For the Christ of God was definitely manifested, and from that day the said expectation of the Gentiles is preached to all nations, (d) Or who can deny, that concurrently with the appearance of our Saviour Jesus the solemnities of the Jews, their city with its Temple and the worship performed therein, have come to an end, together with their native rulers and governors, and that from that time the hope and expectation of the nations through all the world has been made known, since the things laid up in the Lord |110 have come. What are these things, but those set forth by Judah?—
"Thy brethren shall praise thee, thy hands shall be on the back of thine enemies, lion of the tribe of Judah. O my son, thou hast ascended from a seed, falling thou hast slept as a lion and as a lion's whelp: who shall awake thee?"
(376) But the words, "The things laid up for him," have another sense; let us now consider them, only premising that the Holy Scriptures are accustomed to give the Christ different names. Sometimes they call Him Jacob:
"Jacob, my son, I will help thee; Israel, my chosen, my soul hath received him, he shall bring judgment unto the nations,"
and that which follows. To which is added, "Till he place judgment on the earth, and in his name shall the Gentiles (b) hope." Sometimes they name Him Solomon or David: Solomon as in the 71st Psalm, inscribed to Solomon, whose contents evidently refer to Christ. For the words, "He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the world's end, and all the nations shall serve him," and the contents of the Psalm that follow, can only apply to the Christ. Christ, again, is called David in the 88th Psalm, for expressions therein are only applicable to Him, and not to David, for instance:
"He shall call me, Thou art my father, and I will make him my firstborn, high above the kings of the earth. I will keep my mercy for him for ever."
(c) And again:
"His seed shall remain for ever, and his throne is as the sun before me, and as the moon fixed in the heaven."
So, then, besides the many other names given to Christ by the Holy Scriptures, it is possible that He may be called Judah also in the passage before us, especially as He sprang from the tribe of Judah. For the apostle certifies the fact (d) that our Lord and Saviour sprang from the tribe of Judah. For Him, then, were "the things laid up for Judah" figuratively intended in the prophecy. And what were they? First, the praise of His brethren; second, to lay his hands on the back of His enemies; third, to be worshipped by the sons of His Father. And they came to pass, |111 for His performance of miracles and wondrous prodigies aroused wonder, and He was praised and worshipped by His own disciples and apostles, whom He shrank not from calling brethren, saying by the Psalm, "I will declare thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the Church I will praise thee," and also when He bids the women with Mary announce the news to them as His brethren, for He says, "Make known to my brethren that I ascend to my Father, (377) and your Father, and to my God, and your God." Thus then, His brethren at first praised Him only as a remarkable man because of His miracles, believing Him most likely to be one of the prophets; but when meanwhile they saw His wonderful miracles, and how He destroyed the enemy and the avenger, and death the prince of this world, together with the other unseen hostile powers, thenceforth they (b) believed Him to be God and worshipped Him. And the hands of our Saviour were upon the back of His enemies, when He directed all His deeds and powers and miracles to the destruction of the daemons and evil spirits. Yea, when too He spread out His hands on the Cross, even then His hands were on the back of His enemies, since they fled and turned their backs on Him, and even more, when yielding up His spirit to the Father, disembodied and (c) stripped of that flesh, which He had assumed, He went to the place of His enemies, having life in Himself, to loose death, and the powers arrayed against Him, which perhaps at first conceived that He was an ordinary man and like all men, and so encircled Him and attacked Him as they would any one else, but when they knew that He was superhuman and divine, they turned their backs and fled from Him, so that He laid His hands on them, and drave them on with His divine and sharpened arrows, as is here said, "Thy hands shall be on the backs of thy enemies." |112
And if to-day many enemies of our Saviour attempt from (d) time to time to war against His Church, these too He routs with invisible hand and divine power, even as it is said of them, "His hands shall be on the back of his enemies." And since also He has received the trophies of victory over His enemies, the words, "The sons of thy father shall worship thee," are also fulfilled: that is to say, all the angels of heaven, and the ministering spirits, and the divine powers, and on earth the apostles and evangelists, and after them those of all nations who through Him are enrolled under the one and only true God and Father, have learned that Christ is God the Word, and have consented to worship (378) Him as God.
But as it was necessary for the mysteries of both His Birth and Death to be included in the prophecy concerning Him, Jacob rightly proceeds to add to what has gone before:
"Judah is a lion's whelp. From a seed, my son, thou hast ascended, falling down thou hast slept as a lion and a lion's whelp: who shall arouse thee?"
He calls Him then a lion's whelp because of His being born of the royal tribe. For He was of the seed of (b) David according to the flesh. "From a shoot thou hast grown, my son," he says, because He was born of the seed and root of Jacob who foretold it, being primarily God the Word, and becoming secondarily the Son of man, through the dispensation He undertook for us. And the words, "Falling down thou didst sleep as a lion and a whelp," are significant of His Death, because Scripture is accustomed, |113 as is shewn in many other places, from the conviction of their kinship to call death a sleep. And "Who shall awake him?" is a wonderful reference to His Resurrection from the dead. For he who said, "Who will awake him?" (c) knew quite well that He would be awaked. And it is remarkable that he should add, "Who then shall do this and raise him up? "so as to impel us to ask who it was that raised up our Lord Who died on our behalf. For Who else was it, but the God of the Universe, His Father, to Whom the Saviour's Resurrection is solely to be attributed, according to the Scripture which says, "Whom the Father raised from the dead "?
Instead of, "Judah is a lion's whelp, from a shoot, my (d) son, thou hast ascended, falling down thou hast slept," Aquila says more plainly, "Judah is a lion's cub, from destruction, my son, hast thou ascended, bending thou hast laid down." And Symmachus says, "Judah is a lion's whelp, from capture, my son, hast thou ascended, having knelt thou hast been established.'' By which the Resurrection of the dead is clearly meant, and the escape of our Saviour from Hades, as from a trap for wild beasts. The kneeling and the being established instead of falling, signify death by the kneeling, and not being dragged away like the souls of other men by "being established." All this then was laid up before for Christ. But while this remained unfulfilled, the Jewish nation lasted, and their rulers and governors and they who were wise interpreters of the sacred oracles about the Christ stood out among them; but when (379) that which had been laid up for Judah had come, and He appeared on earth of Whom it was foretold that He should spring from the seed and shoot of the prophet himself, after falling down and sleeping, or "kneeling," according to Symmachus, He was established and raised up, laying His hands on the back of His unseen spiritual enemies; and His brothers and disciples first praising Him and wondering, afterwards were convinced that He was God, and worshipped Him as God; then were fulfilled the things laid up for Him, for because of this the answer was given, "Until there come the things laid up for him." For (b) from that day to this, the things laid up for Him being come, the rulers and governors of the Jewish nation have ceased, the rulers of the Gentiles have been placed at their |114 head, and the nations on the other hand knowing the Christ of God have made Him their Saviour and Hope. After all this there follows:
"Binding his foal to the vine, and the foal of the ass to the branch, he shall wash his robe in wine, and his garment in the blood of the grape. His eyes shall be cheering from wine, and his teeth white as milk."
Here I should understand by the foal, the choir of apostles and disciples of our Saviour, and by the vine to which the foal is bound, His divine and invisible power, as He Himself taught when He said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman." And the branch of the said vine is the teaching of the Word of God, by which He bound the foal of the ass—that is to say, the new people of the Gentiles, (d) the offspring of His Apostles. And you may say that this was literally fulfilled, when, according to Matthew, the Lord said to His disciples:
"Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her; loose them and bring them to me."
And there is real food for wonder if one studies the account in the prediction of the prophet, that he should have foreseen by the Holy Spirit, that the subject of his prophecy would not come riding on chariots and horses like some distinguished man, but on an ass and a foal, like a poor common man of the people. And this raised another prophet's wonder, who said: (380)
"Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion, behold thy King cometh unto thee meek, sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass."
And the words, "He will wash his garments in wine, and in the blood of the grape his girdle," will shew you surely how as in a secret way He suggests His mystic Passion, in which He washed His garment and vesture with the washing wherewith He is revealed to wash away the old stains of them that believe in Him. For with the wine which was indeed the symbol of His blood. He cleanses them that are baptized into His death, and believe on His |115 blood, of their old sins, washing them away and purifying (b) their old garments and vesture, so that they, ransomed by the precious blood of the divine spiritual grapes, and with the wine from this vine, "put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man which is renewed into knowledge in the image of Him that created him."
The words, "His eyes are cheerful from wine, and his teeth white as milk," again I think secretly reveal the (c) mysteries of the new Covenant of our Saviour. "His eyes are cheerful from wine," seems to me to shew the gladness of the mystic wine which He gave to His disciples, when He said, "Take, drink; this is my blood that is shed for you for the remission of sins: this do in remembrance of me." And, "His teeth are white as milk," shew the brightness and purity of the sacramental food. For again, He gave Himself (d) the symbols of His divine dispensation to His disciples, when He bade them make the likeness of His own Body. For since He no more was to take pleasure in bloody sacrifices, or those ordained by Moses in the slaughter of animals of various kinds, and was to give them bread to use as the symbol of His Body, He taught the purity and brightness of such food by saying, "And his teeth are white as milk." This also another prophet has recorded, where he says, "Sacrifice and offering hast thou not required, but a body hast thou prepared for me."
But these matters should be examined at leisure, for they require deeper criticism and longer interpretation. For the present I must refuse to enter on that great task, in order that I may incorporate in this work the evidence that the time of the Saviour's Coming from above was known to the (381) ancient prophets, and clearly handed down in writing. |116
How after the Period of Seven Times Seventy Years, or 490 Years, the Christ having appeared to Men, the Jewish Prophets and their surpassing Temple Worship will be dissolved, and They Themselves will be taken by Mutual Sieges as by a Flood, and their Holy Temple undergo its Final Desolation.
[Passage quoted, Dan. ix. 20-27.] (Given in full on account of wide divergence from S.)
(c) "20. AND while I yet spake and prayed and confessed my sins and the sins of my people Israel, and casting my misery before the holy Mount of my God, 21. and while I yet spake in prayer, behold the man Gabriel, whom I had seen at the beginning came flying, and he touched me about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22. And he instructed me and spake with me, saying, O (d) Daniel, 23. I am now come forth to impart to thee understanding. At the beginning of thy supplication the word came forth, and I am come to tell thee, for thou art a man greatly beloved: therefore consider the matter, understand the vision, for thou art a man greatly beloved. 24. Seventy weeks have been decided on for thy people, and for the holy city, for sin to be ended, and to seal up transgressions, and to blot out iniquities, and to make atonement for iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. 25. And |117 thou shalt know and understand, that from the going forth of the command for the answer and for the building of Jerusalem until Christ the Prince shall be seven (382) weeks, and sixty-two weeks; and then it shall return, and the street shall be built, and the wall, and the times shall be exhausted. 26. And after the sixty-two weeks, the Anointing shall be destroyed, and there is no judgment in him, and he shall destroy the city and the sanctuary together with the coming prince; they shall be cut off in a flood, and, to the end of the war which is rapidly completed, in desolations. 27. And one week shall establish the covenant with many: and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away: and on the temple shall be an (b) abomination of desolations: and at the end of time shall an end be put to the desolation.
When the captivity of the Jewish people at Babylon was near its end, the Archangel Gabriel, one of the holy ministers of God, appeared to Daniel as he prayed, and told him that the restoration of Jerusalem was to follow without the slightest delay, and he defines the period after the restoration by numbering the years, and foretells that after the predetermined time it will again be destroyed, and that after the second capture and siege it will no longer have (c) God for its guardian, but will remain desolate, with the worship of the Mosaic Law taken away from it, and another new Covenant with humanity introduced in its place. This was what the Angel Gabriel revealed to the prophet as by secret oracles. So then he says to Daniel:
"I am now come forth to impart to thee understanding, at the beginning of thy supplication the word came forth, and I am come to tell thee, for thou art a man greatly beloved. Consider the matter, understand the vision"; (d)
clearly urging him to a deeper consideration and understanding of the meaning of his words. He calls it then a vision from its involving deeper consideration, and more |118 than common understanding: wherefore we, too, if we call on Him who gives understanding, and pray that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened, should trust confidently in the vision of this passage:
"Seven times seventy weeks," he says, "have been decided on for this people and for thy holy city, for sin to be ended, and to seal up transgression, and to blot out iniquities, and to make atonement for iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the people, and to anoint the most holy."
(383) It is quite clear that seven times seventy weeks reckoned in years amounts to 490. That was therefore the period determined for Daniel's people, which limited the total length of the Jewish nation's existence. And he no longer calls them here "God's people," but Daniel's, saying, "thy people." Just as when they sinned and worshipped idols in the wilderness, God called them no more His people, but Moses', saying, "Go, descend, for thy people has sinned." (b) In the same way here too he explains why the definite limit of time is determined for them. It was that they might know they were no longer worthy to be called the people of God. And he adds, "And for thy holy city": where we hear again the unusual "thy," for he says, "for thy people, and for thy holy city," as much as to say, "the city you think to be holy." The original Hebrew and the other translators (c) agree in the addition of "thy" both to the people and the city. For Aquila has, "On thy people, and on thy sacred city"; and Symmachus, "Against thy people, and thy holy city": wherefore in accurate codices of the Septuagint "thy" is added with an asterisk. For since Daniel had often called the people "the people of God "in the words of his prayer, and the place of the city "the holy place of (d) God," the One who answers in contrast says that neither people nor city are God's, but "thine," who hast prayed and spoken thus of the people and the place and the city. Daniel's words run thus: "16. Let thy anger be turned away, even thy anger from Jerusalem thy city, thy holy mountain." And, "Thy people is a source of ridicule to all that are round about them." And again, "17. Shew thy face upon the desolation of thy sanctuary." And once more, "18. Behold the ruin of thy city, which is called by thy |119 name," followed by, "19. That thy name may be named upon thy city, and upon thy people." After this prayer he adds: "20. And while I was yet speaking and praying, behold Gabriel, whom I saw in my vision, came flying, and touched me, and said what is written above." (384)
The prophet then clearly called the city not a city pure and simple but "God's city," and the sanctuary, "God's sanctuary," and the people "God's people," from his feeling for the people. But Gabriel does not describe them in this way; on the contrary, he says, "for thy people," and "for thy holy city," shewing in so many words that city, people, and sanctuary were unworthy to be called God's.
So, then, he first defines the length of time determined (b) for the people, and then for the city. And it is seen to be the period from the restoration of Jerusalem, which was in the reign of Darius, King of Persia, until the reign of Augustus, Emperor of Rome, and of Herod the foreign King of the Jews, in whose times our Saviour's Birth is recorded, as the prophecy goes on to shew. And he adds next:
"For sin to be ended, and to seal up transgressions, and to blot out iniquities, and to make atonement for (c) iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the most holy."
Instead of, "For sin to be ended, and to seal up transgressions," Aquila translated, "For ending disobedience, and for completing transgression." I think that our Saviour's words to the Jews, "Ye have filled up the measure of your fathers," are parallel to this. For the transgression of the Jewish nation culminated in the plot they dared to make against Him, and what Aquila calls their "disobedience "to God reached its end. For many times of old the long-suffering of God had borne with their transgressions before the Saviour came, as is shewn by the prophet's words: but just as in the case of the ancient (d) foreign inhabitants of the land of promise it was said to Abraham, "The sins of the Amorites are not yet fulfilled," and if they were not yet fulfilled they could not yet be driven from their native land, but when they were fulfilled, they were then destroyed by Joshua, the successor of Moses: so also you will understand in the case of the |120 before-mentioned people. For while their sins were not fulfilled, the patience and long-suffering of God bore with them, calling them many times to repentance by the prophets. (385) But when, as our Saviour said, they had filled up the measure of their fathers, then the whole collected weight worked their destruction at one time, as our Lord taught again when He said:
"All the blood poured forth from the foundation of the world, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias, shall come upon this generation."
For presuming last of all to lay their hands on the Son of God they completed their disobedience and completed their sins, according to Aquila's translation, or according to the Septuagint, "Their sin was bound and sealed." But since He came not only for the falling but for the rising again of many in Israel, as is said of Him, "Behold, he is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel," Daniel rightly proceeds to add, "And for the blotting out of (c) transgressions and for making atonement for iniquities." For since it was impossible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take away sins, and the whole race of mankind needed a living and true offering, of which the Mosaically designed propitiation was a type, and our Lord and Saviour was this Lamb of God, as it was said of Him, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world; and again, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for those of the whole world "; He brings redemption (d) also, according to Paul's words, "Who is become wisdom to us from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption"—he naturally teaches that His coining is at once the fulfilment and the completion of the sin of those who have sinned against Him, at the same time as it is the blotting out and purification of sins, and the propitiation for the transgressions of them that believe in Him.
And Aquila to the words, "For the fulfilling of their disobedience and the completion of their sin," added, "For the propitiation of their transgression," clearly suggesting that He would be the propitiation for all transgressions of old time done in ignorance. Next to this comes, "For the bringing in of everlasting righteousness." The Word of |121 God is in truth Himself eternal Righteousness, Who is made unto us by God Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption, in the words of the Apostle. But further by His own Presence also He shared Righteousness with all men, shewing by His works that God is not only the God of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles: for (386) there is one God, Who will judge the Circumcision from their faith, and the Uncircumcision by faith. Wherefore Peter wondering at those with Cornelius being thought worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit says, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness is accepted with him." And Paul also says that the Gospel is of righteousness, saying, "For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. For the righteousness of God is revealed in it." And it is said of Christ in the Psalms: (b) "In His days shall arise righteousness, and abundance of peace." And His coming shewed clearly the righteousness of God, who reckoned the whole of mankind worthy of the calling of God. Such was not the Mosaic dispensation, which was given to the Jews only: wherefore having appeared for a time it has passed away. But the (c) righteousness proclaimed by our Saviour is fitly called eternal righteousness, as Gabriel said, "And to bring in eternal righteousness."
Instead of "Seal the vision and the prophet,'' Aquila gives, I think, a more suitable rendering, viz. "And for fulfilling vision and prophet." For our Lord Jesus Christ did not come as it were to seal up the visions of the prophets, for He rather opened and explained those that were of old obscure and sealed, tearing away so to say the seals impressed on them, and taught His disciples the meaning of the Holy Scriptures. Hence He says, "Behold, (d) the lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed, and he has opened the seals that were set on the book," in John's Apocalypse. What are these seals but the obscurities of the prophets? Isaiah knew them well and definitely says too: "And these words shall be as the words of the sealed book." The Christ of God did not come then to shut up the vision and the prophet, but rather to open them and bring them to the light. Hence I prefer Aquila's rendering, |122 (387) "For fulfilling the vision and the prophet." And it agrees also with our Saviour's words, "I have not come to destroy the law or the prophets, I have not come to destroy but to fulfil." "For the end of the law is Christ," and all the prophecies concerning Him we know remained unfulfilled and uncompleted, until He came and brought fulfilment to the prophecies about Himself. It is possible, too, for the version of the Septuagint, "To seal up the vision and the prophet," to bear this meaning: "For the Law and the prophets continued until John," and from his day the ancient inspiration of the Jewish race has ceased, and its predictions of the Christ, and they who in the Holy (b) Scriptures saw genuine visions have come to an end, as if divine grace were shut up and bound with seals: and so it is the case that from that day there has been no activity of prophet or seer among them; this has altogether ceased from the time named till our own day.
He proceeds, "And to anoint the Most Holy"; and this also is plain for the same reason, that until the time of our Saviour the Most Holy, the High Priests were anointed (c) following the ritual performed according to the Mosaic Law, but from that date they have ceased to be, as the prophecy foretells. So too the words of Jacob to Judah foretold the cessation of the princes and rulers of the Jewish nation, as I have already stated. Now since the prophets' and priests' primacy of the people was very much later than that of the kings, the oracle in the prophecy first quoted foretells the destruction of the princes and governors of the Jewish nation, while the one we are considering predicts (d) the cessation of the prophets and priests as well, who were of old their chief ornament, which the Coming of our Saviour actually fulfilled. And as Aquila translates, "For the anointing the most consecrated," it might be thought that the ancient Jewish High Priest was meant, since many of the inferior priests were called "holy," but only the High Priest "Most Holy." And this idea at first sight is tempting. For up to the times of our Saviour the High Priests in continuous line at the same time ruled the people, (388) as they continuously performed the service of God according to the ritual ordained by Moses; but from our Saviour's times their order was first thrown into confusion, and shortly afterwards altogether abolished. But as I find |123 nowhere in the Holy Scriptures the High Priest called "Most Holy," I am of opinion that in this passage only the Only-begotten Word of God is meant, who is properly and truly worthy of that name. For if men excel and reach all attainable virtue they should be content to be called "holy," sharing and participating in the character of Him Who said, "Be ye holy, for I the Lord am Holy." But what human being could rightly be called "Most Holy," except the one Beloved Son of the Father, called Holy of holies as also King of kings and Lord of lords? For to Him only, as excelling whoever of Moses' ordaining that were anointed with earthly and manufactured oil, was it said, "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity, therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy fellows."
Being anointed wherewith, He says in His own Person in Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me." Since, then, it is evident that our Saviour was anointed uniquely beyond all that ever were with the excellent spiritual, or rather divine unction, He is rightly called "Holy of holies," as one might say, "High Priest of high priests," and "Sanctified of the sanctified" according to the oracle of Gabriel. (d)
And all these things were fulfilled when the seventy weeks were completed at the date of our Saviour's Coming. So when the aforesaid Angel had given this summary prediction to the prophet, he again returns to the subject of the seventy weeks, explaining accurately and in detail at what point the weeks must begin to be counted, and what will happen at the time said. He therefore says: "And thou shalt know and understand, that from the going forth of the command for the answer and for the building of Jerusalem shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, and then it shall return, and the street and wall shall be built." (389) And with regard to this I think it right not to leave unknown the studies of a predecessor on this subject, but to quote from them as suitable to my readers. For it is a good saying that "the goods of friends are common." 1 And as it is right to use what others have expressed well in a right spirit, and not to deprive fathers of their children, |124 or the first begetters of their own offspring, I will quote his exact words. This extract from Africanus is to be found in the Fifth Book of his Chronography, and it runs as follows:
(b) "The section thus expressed gives much strange information. But here I will make the necessary examination of the times and the matters connected with them. It is clear, then, that the coming of the Christ is foretold as to occur after seventy weeks. For in the time of our Saviour, or after His time, sins are done away and transgressions ended. And by this remission iniquities are blotted out (c) by a propitiation together with unrighteousness, eternal righteousness is published beyond that of the law, visions and prophecies (last) until John, and the Holy of holies is anointed. For these things existed in expectation only before our Saviour's Coming. And the angel explains we must count the numbers, that is to say the seventy weeks, which are 490 years, from the going forth of the word of answer and from the building of Jerusalem. This took place in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, King of Persia. For Nehemiah his cup-bearer made the request, (d) and received the answer that Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and the order went forth to carry it out. For till that date the city lay desolate. For when Cyrus after the seventieth year of the Captivity spontaneously allowed every one who wished to return, those with Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel went back, and those afterwards with Ezra, and were at first prevented from building the Temple, and the wall of the City, as no order had been given for it; and so |125 there was a delay until Nehemiah and the reign of Artaxerxes and the one hundred and fifteenth year of the Persian Empire. And this was 185 years from the taking of Jerusalem. It was then that King Artaxerxes gave the order (390) for it to be built. And Nehemiah was sent to take charge of the work, and the street and wall were built, as it had been prophesied. And from that date to the coming of Christ is seventy weeks. For if we begin to count from any other point but this, not only the dates will not agree, but many absurdities arise. If, for instance, we begin counting the seventy weeks from Cyrus and the first Mission, the period will be too long by more than a century, if from (b) the day the angel prophesied to Daniel still longer, and longer still if we start from the beginning of the Captivity. For we find the length of the Persian Empire to be 230 years, and of the Macedonian 300, and from then to the sixteenth year of Tiberius Caesar 60 years. And from Artaxerxes to the time of Christ seventy weeks are (c) completed according to Jewish reckoning. For from Nehemiah, who was sent by Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem, in the one hundred and fifteenth year of the Persian Empire, and in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, and in the fourth year of the eighty-third Olympiad up to that date, which was the second year of the two hundred and second Olympiad, and the sixteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, there are 475 years, or 490 according to Hebrew reckoning. For they reckon years by the course of the moon, I ought to (d) tell you, counting 354 days, while the course of the sun is 365 ¼ days, twelve lunar revolutions, being exceeded by one solar by 11¼ days. Therefore the Greeks and the Jews add three intercalary months to every eighth year. For eight times 11¼ days makes three months. So then 465 years, in eight-year cycles, makes fifty-nine years and three months. Since adding the three intercalary months every eighth year, we have a few days short of fifteen years. And these added (391) to the 475 years complete the seventy weeks."
This, then, is from Africanus. And if I may make an apposite comment myself on the passage, I would say that the prophecy does not make the division of the seventy weeks without an object or haphazard. For having divided them into the first seven, and another sixty-two, it adds the |126 last one after a quantity of intermediate matter, and thus (b) determines the number of seventy weeks. And so it says, "And thou shalt know and understand from the going out of the word of answering and of building Jerusalem until Christ the governor there are seven weeks and sixty-two weeks." Then having interposed other matter, it adds the last saying, "And He shall make a covenant with many one week." I do not think that any one who regards these as the words of God, can suppose that these statements have no object, or are scattered without the divine intention. I thought it was right first to draw attention to this, and then to give a more (c) elaborate solution of the problem to my readers. And if I must reveal what is in my mind, I would say that according to another meaning or interpretation, he that is called in the preceding extract "Christ the governor" (viz. "From the going forth of the word of answering and the building of Jerusalem until Christ the governor"), is none other than the roll of the high priests who governed the people after (d) the prophecy and the Return from Babylon, whom Scripture commonly calls Christs. For I have shewn that they were the only governors of the nation, beginning with Joshua, son of Josedec, the Great Priest, after the return from Babylon, and up to the date of the Coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ. For I think that the fact that the intermediate period of their primacy, during which they governed, is meant, is shewn by the words, "From the going forth of the answering and the building of Jerusalem, until Christ the governor, is seven weeks and sixty-two weeks." And the weeks of years make 483 years added together from the reign of Cyrus up to the Roman Empire, when Pompeius (392) the Roman general attacked Jerusalem and took the city by siege, and the whole city became subject to Rome, so that thenceforward it paid taxes, and obeyed the Roman enactments.
At this period, then, is concluded the 483 years, when they came to an end who held, according to the Mosaic Law, the primacy of the nation, and the priesthood, whom I understand the Holy Scriptures to call here "Christ the governor." And if it be necessary to publish a roll of the succession of the high priests who held office during this (b) intermediate period, I have no objection so to do in |127 confirmation of my statements. First, then, after Daniel's prophecy, in the reign of Cyrus, King of Persia, after the Return from Babylon, came Joshua son of Josedec, called the Great Priest, with Zerubbabel from captivity, and laid the foundations of the Temple, but since he was hindered in the work by the neighbours, the first seven weeks of years named by the prophet came to an end, during which the building of the Temple remained unfinished. This is why (c) the divine word separates the first seven from the remaining weeks, saying seven weeks, and then after an interval adding, and sixty-two weeks. For from Cyrus to the completion of the building of the Temple are seven weeks of years. Hence the Jews attacking our Saviour said, "Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days?'' These men, you say, said that the Temple was built in forty-six years. So they reckoned (d) from the reign of Cyrus first, who first permitted those of the Jews who wished to go up to their own land, to the sixth year of King Darius, in whose reign the Temple was finally completed. But Josephus, a Jewish author, says that three more years were spent in completing the surrounding outside buildings, so that it seems probable that the seven first weeks were divided in the prophet's words into nine years and forty years, and that the remaining sixty-two were counted from the reign of Darius, in whose time Joshua, son of Josedec, and Zerubbabel, son of Salathiel, who were still alive, were both at the head of the rebuilding of the (393) Temple, when Haggai and Zechariah were prophets, after whom Ezra and Nehemiah, who also came up from Babylon, built the wall of the city, when Joiachim was high priest. He was son of Joshua, son of Josedec, and Eliashib succeeded him in the high-priesthood, then Joiada, after him Jonathan, and after him Jaddua. The books of Ezra record them, saying, "And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim begat (b) Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada, and Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua."
In the time of this Jaddua, Alexander of Macedon conquered Alexandria, and, as Josephus relates,2 came to Jerusalem and worshipped God. And Alexander died at the beginning of the 114th Olympiad, 236 years after |128 (c) Cyrus, who began to rule over the Persians in the first year of the fifty-fifth Olympiad.
Now after the death of Alexander of Macedon, and after the said High Priest, Onias ruled the nation, also enjoying the high-priestly office: in whose day Seleucus conquered Babylon and put on the crown of Asia, twelve years after Alexander's death, and the whole period from him to Cyrus is 248 years From that point the Book of Maccabees begins to count the years of the Hellenic Empire. And after Onias, the High Priest Eleazar ruled the Jews, in whose time the Seventy translated the Holy Scriptures and deposited (d) them in the Library of Alexandria. And after him a second Onias, followed by Simon, in whose day flourished Jesus, son of Sirach, who wrote the excellent book called Wisdom. After him a third Onias ruled, in whose time Antiochus besieged the Jews and compelled them to hellenize. After whom Judas, called the Maccabee, was at the head of the State, and cleansed the land of the unholy, being succeeded by his brother Jonathan. And then Simon, to whose death the First Book of Maccabees reckons 177 years from the beginning of the Syrian rule, and ends its history at that date. So that the period from (394) the first year of Cyrus and the Persian Empire up to the end of the record of the Maccabees and the death of Simon is 425 years. And then Jonathan held the high-priesthood, according to Josephus, for twenty-nine years.3 After him Aristobulus ruled for a year, who was the first to assume the royal diadem 4 besides the high-priesthood after |129 the return from Babylon. Alexander succeeded him, as both king and high priest, and was at the head of the State for twenty-seven years. To whose date is comprised in all, (b) from the first year of the reign of Cyrus and from the return of the Jews from Babylon, 482 years, in which period the high priests ruled, who I believe are called in the prophecy "Christs and governors." After whom, when the last of them the High Priest Alexander died, the State of the Jews was left without king or leader, so that the kingdom came to a woman. And when her two sons, Aristobulus nnd Hyrcanus, were quarrelling with each other, Pompey, the (c) Roman general, attacked Jerusalem, and took the city by siege, denied its holy places, and even entered the Holiest of all. And this came to pass in the first year of the 179th Olympiad, 495 years after the empire of Cyrus, who began to rule in the fifty-fifth Olympiad. And Pompey, then, having taken Jerusalem by force, sent the before-named Aristobulus a prisoner to Rome, bestowing the High-Priesthood on his brother Hyrcanus, and the whole nation was from that date subject to Rome. Then after this, Herod, (d) the son of Antipater, destroyed Hyrcanus, and was entrusted with the Jewish kingdom by the Roman senate, being the first ruler of a foreign stock, and he destroyed the order of the Mosaic High-Priesthood. For the divine Law ordained that the most high high-priest should hold office for life; but Herod preferred to the office men who were not of the priestly tribe nor otherwise suitable, who were alien and strange to the priestly line of succession, and he gave the position not even to them for life, but only for a short and limited time, sometimes to one, sometimes to another; so (395) that the first seven weeks must be reckoned from Cyrus to Darius, and the remaining sixty-two from Darius to Pompey the Roman general.
And if you reckon the period of the seven and sixty-two weeks in another way a third time, they will comprise 483 years, up to Augustus and Herod, the first king of foreign (b) stock, in whose reign the Birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ is recorded to have occurred, if you begin to reckon from Darius and the completion of the Temple. For the prophet |130 Zechariah shews that the seventy years of the Desolation of Jerusalem were completed in the second year of Darius, when he says: "On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh (c) month (this is the Sabbath), in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah son of Barachiah." And then he adds, "And the Angel of the Lord answered, and said, O Almighty Lord, how long wilt thou not pity Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, which thou hast despised these seventy years past?"
This, then, was the very time that Daniel, inspired by the divine spirit, marked when he said, "I Daniel understood in the books the number of the years, what was the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, for the fulfilment of the desolation of Jerusalem seventy years, and I turned my face to the Lord my God, to present my prayer and petition." Then after his prayer the Angel prophesied to (d) him of the seventy weeks, and told him at what point to begin to reckon the time, saying, "And thou shalt know and understand from the going forth of the word of answering and from the building of Jerusalem until Christ the governor." The first answer allowing Jerusalem to be rebuilt was of course that of Cyrus, but it did not take effect, because the neighbours interfered. But when Darius gave his order afierwards, and the building of the Temple was also completed in his reign, from that date began to be fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel, which said, "From the going forth of the word of answering and from the building (396) of Jerusalem," and that which said, "I Daniel understood in the books the number of the years, which was the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, for the fulfilment of the desolation of Jerusalem seventy years." The completion of the period of seventy years is therefore shewn to have been reached in the second year of Darius, so that we must anyway reckon the seventy weeks from the sixty-sixth Olympiad, and from the second year of Darius, in which the building was completed. And if you reckon the succeeding (b) period from that date up to King Herod and the Roman Emperor Augustus, in whose times our Saviour was born on earth, you will find it amounts to 483 years, which are the seven and sixty-two weeks of the prophecy of Daniel. |131 From the sixty-sixth Olympiad to the 186th Olympiad there are 121 Olympiads, or 484 years, an Olympiad consisting of four years, during which time Augustus the Roman Emperor, in the fifteenth year of his reign, gained the (c) kingdom of Egypt and of the whole world, under whom Herod was the first foreigner to ascend the Jewish throne, and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was born, the time of His birth synchronizing with the fulfilment of the seven and sixty-two weeks of Daniel's prophecy.
And afterwards comes the one remaining week, separated from them and divided by a long interval, during which occurred all the other events that are predicted in between, all of which being foretold in the middle of the oracle were fulfilled; they run in the following way: "After the seven (d) and sixty-two weeks the Unction shall be cast out, and there is no judgment in it. And he will destroy the city and the Holy Place with the leader that cometh, and they shall be cut off as by a flood, and until the end of the completion of the war by destructions."
And this was evidently fulfilled in the time of Augustus and Herod, at whose day I say the seven weeks foretold were summed up. The regular and orderly Unction of the High Priest continued uninterrupted until the time of Herod and Augustus, and the ancient line of the High-Priesthood was ended with Alexander, the Father of Hyr-canus; and Herod, after murdering Hyrcanus, is said to (397) have conferred the office no longer on members of the ancestral line, but on obscure and unknown men. This the oracle foresaw and predicted, when it said, "And after the seven and sixty-two weeks, the Unction shall be cast out, and judgment shall not be in it." And this is made clear by the other translators: for Aquila says, "And after the seven weeks and the sixty-two, he that is anointed shall be cast out, and there is no place for him." And Sym-machus, "And after the weeks the seven and sixty-two the Christ shall be cut off, and shall not belong to him:" which (b) seems strong confirmation of my interpretation of "Christ the Governor."
It says then that Christ shall be cast out after the completion of the said weeks. Who can this be but the |132 governor and ruler of the high-priestly line? He remained therefore until the weeks were fulfilled; and when they came to an end, the ruler of the nation in the line of succession (c) was cut off as the prophecy foretold. And this was Hyrcanus, whom Herod murdered, and seized the kingdom on which he had no special claim, and he was its first king of alien stock. And moreover Hyrcanus was not only personally cut off as the last anointed successor of the ancient high-priests, but the line as well which descended from those ancient high-priests was itself cut off, and the Legal Unction was no longer used according to judgment, but in a confused and disorderly way not according to the Mosaic enactments. And these events happened concurrently and fulfilled the prediction, "The Unction shall (d) be cast out, and there is no judgment in it." Josephus, himself a Hebrew, is sufficient evidence of this, giving the history of those times in the Eighteenth Book of the Archaeology of the Jews:5
"Herod was then made king by the Romans, but did no longer appoint High-Priests out of the family of Asamonaeus, and these were called Maccabeans, but made certain men to be so that were of no eminent families, but only of the Hebrew race, excepting that he gave that dignity to Aristobulus; for he made this Aristobulus, the son of Hyrcanus, high priest, and took his sister Mariamne to wife, aiming at winning the goodwill of the people through their memory of Hyrcanus. Yet did he afterwards, out of his fear lest they should (398) all bend their inclinations to Aristobulus, put him to death in Jericho, and that by contriving to have him suffocated while swimming, as I have already related. But after this man he never entrusted the High Priesthood to the descendants of Hyrcanus. Archelaus also acted like his father Herod in the appointment of the High-Priests, as did also the Romans, who took the government over the Jews into their hands afterwards."6 |133
And again in another place he says of them: (b)
"But when Herod came to be king he rebuilt this tower, which was very conveniently situated, in a magnificent manner, and called it Antonia, and he took the high-priestly vestments, which he found lying there, and kept them, believing that while he had them the people would not revolt against him. And Herod's example was followed by Archelaus his son, who was made king after him, after whom the Romans when they entered on the government took possession of the high-priestly vestments, and had them laid up in a stone chamber under a seal."7
I think it must be clear to all that this was the fulfilment (c) of the oracle, which said, "And after the seven and sixty-two weeks the Unction shall be cast out, and there is no judgment in it."
And you may see better the meaning of the words, "And there is no judgment in it," if you consider the haphazard appointments of the high-priests after Herod's time and in the time of our Saviour. For whereas by the divine Law (d) it was ordained that a high-priest should hold office all his life and be succeeded by his legitimate son, in the period in question, when the Unction had been cast out as the prophecy foretold, Herod first, and after him the Romans, appointed what high-priests they liked haphazard or not according to the Law, bestowing the dignity on common and unknown men, selling and peddling the office, giving it now to one now to another for a year. And the Evangelist St. Luke seems to imply this, where he says, "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod, Philip and Lysanias being tetrarchs, Annas and Caiaphas being high-priests." For how could they both be high-priest at the same time unless the rules of the high-priesthood were disregarded? "In witness whereof Josephus writes: (399)
8 "Valerius Gratus the Roman General, after closing the high-priesthood of Ananus, appointed Ismael the son of Pheba, and removing him shortly afterwards appointed Eleazar son of Ananus the high-priest. A year later he removed him, and gave the office to |134 Simon son of Gathimus. He did not remain high priest more than a year, when Josephus, son of Caiaphas, took his place."9
(b) I was obliged to give this quotation because of the words "The Unction shall be cast out, and there is no judgment in it,'' which seem to me proved by it beyond any doubt.
After this the prophecy says, "And the city, and the holy place, he will destroy, with the governor that cometh." Here again I understand the rulers of foreign stock who succeeded him to be meant. For as above he named the High-Priests, Christs and Governors, saying, "Until Christ the Governor," in the same way after their time and after their abolition there was no other ruler to come but the (c) same Herod of foreign stock, and the others ruled the nation in order after them, in whose company and by whose aid, using them as his agents, that hateful bane of good men is said to have destroyed the city and the Holy Place. And indeed he destroyed of a truth the whole nation, now upsetting the established order of the priesthood, now perverting the whole people, and encouraging the city (which (d) stands metaphorically for its people) in impiety. And Aquila agrees with my interpretation of the passage, translating thus, "And the people of the governor that cometh will destroy the city and the holy place." Meaning that the city and the Holy Place arc not only to be ruined by the leader to come, whom I have identified in my interpretation, but also by his people. And you would not be far wrong in saying, too, that the Roman general and his army arc meant by the words before us, where I think the camps of the Roman rulers are meant, who governed the nation from that time, and who destroyed the city of Jerusalem itself, and its ancient venerable Temple. For they were cut off by them as by a flood, and were at once involved in destruction until the war was concluded, so that the prophecy was fulfilled and they suffered utter desolation (400) after their plot against our Saviour, which was followed by their extreme sufferings during the siege. You will find an accurate account of it in the history of Josephus.
But after the prophecy of the events that happened to the Jewish nation in the intermediate period between the |135 seven and sixty-two weeks, there follows the prophecy of the new Covenant announced by our Saviour. So when all the intermediate matter between the seven and the sixty-two weeks is finished, there is added, "And he will confirm (b) a Covenant with many one week," and in half the week the sacrifice and the libation shall be taken away, and on the Holy Place shall come the abomination of desolation, and until the fullness of time fullness shall be given to the desolation. Let us consider how this was fulfilled.
Now the whole period of our Saviour's Teaching and working of Miracles is said to have been three-and-a-half years, which is half a week. John the Evangelist, in his Gospel, makes this clear to the attentive. One week of years therefore would be represented by the whole period of His association with the Apostles, both the time before His Passion, and the time after His Resurrection. For it is written that before His Passion He shewed Himself for the space of three-and-a-half years to His disciples and also to those who were not His disciples: while by teaching and miracles He revealed the powers of His Godhead to all equally whether Greeks or Jews. But after His Resurrection He was most likely with His disciples a period equal |136 to the years, being seen of them forty days, and eating with them, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, as the Acts of the Apostles tells us. So that this would be the prophet's week of years, during which He "confirmed a covenant with many," confirming that is to say the new Covenant of the Gospel Preaching. And who were the many to whom He confirmed it, but His own disciples and Apostles, and such of the Hebrews who believed in Him? And moreover, half through this week, during which He confirmed the said Covenant with many, the (401) sacrifice and libation was taken away, and the abomination of desolation began, for in the middle of this week after the three-and-a-half days of His Teaching, at the time when He suffered, the Veil of the Temple was torn asunder from the top to the bottom, so that in effect from that time sacrifice and libation were taken away, and the abomination of desolation stood in the holy place, inasmuch as the Being had left them desolate, Who had been from time immemorial till (b) that day the guardian and protector of the place. For it is fitting to believe that up to the Saviour's Passion there was some Divine Power guarding the Temple and the Holy of Holies. For He could not have attended with the multitude at the Temple to keep the Feasts according to the laws, if He had not known that it still remained a place worthy of God. Therefore there were in the Temple also some that prophesied up to that time, as Anna the (c) Prophetess, daughter of Phanuel, and Simeon, who took Him into his arms when He was an infant, whose prophecies are handed down in Scripture. Nor could our Lord have said to the leper, "Go, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto thee," if He had not considered it right for the legal observances to be carried out there as in a holy place worthy of God. Nor would He have thrust out those who bought and sold, saying, "Take these things hence, and make not |137 my Father's House a house of merchandise," if He had not thought that the Temple was still to be reckoned sacred. But it was when the hour of their extreme wickedness drew near, that He explained all when He said, "Behold your house is left unto you desolate," which also was fulfilled, when at his Passion the Veil of the Temple was wholly rent in twain, and from that moment the sacrifice and libation well pleasing to God according to the ordinance of the Law was in effect taken away, and when it was removed, the abomination of desolation, as the prophecy before us says, appeared in its place. And if it be said that the worship of the Sanctuary appeared to continue for a time, yet it was not pleasing to God, being offered without judgment and not according to the Law. For as before of (402) old when the Unction was abolished, and the lawful line of High Priests ceased after the death of Hyrcanus, they who held the office afterwards seemed to perform disordered and illegal rites, since they were breaking the fitting Laws, of whom the prophecy said, "The Unction shall be cast out, and there is no judgment in it," referring to its illegality and lack of judgment; so here you will rightly say it has happened to the offering and libation, which were rightly and (b) lawfully offered before our Saviour's Passion, while the Power still guarded the Holy Places, but which were taken away directly after the perfect and supreme Sacrifice which He offered, when He offered Himself for our sins, being the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world, which sacrifice having been delivered to all men in the new Sacraments of the new Covenant, the Sacrifices of the old are taken away. For concurrently with the fulfilment of the oracle which says, "And he shall confirm a covenant (c) with many one week," all that is connected with the old Covenant is abolished. And when was the new Covenant confirmed, but when our Lord and Saviour, about to consummate the great Mystery of His delivery to death, on the night in which He was betrayed, delivered to His disciples the symbols of the unspeakable words of the new Covenant referring to Him? For concurrently with this celebration, (d) the old Covenant of Moses was abolished, which was shewn by the veil of the Temple being rent at the very time. Sacrifice and libation being from that time abolished and ceasing in effect and truth, any sacrifices that were |138 afterwards thought to be offered there were celebrated in a profane place by profane and unhallowed men. Hear the witness of Josephus about this:
"On the day of Pentecost, the priests going by night into the Temple, as was their custom, for the services, said that they were first conscious of a quaking and a sound, and afterwards of a sudden voice which said, Let us depart hence."
And he records this to have taken place after the Passion of our Saviour.10 And the same writer says elsewhere: (403) "Pilate the Governor "(meaning the Pilate of our Saviour's time) "brought the images of Caesar into the Temple by night, which was unlawful, and caused a great outburst of tumult and disorder among the Jews." 11 Which Philo 12 confirms, saying:
"Pilate laid up in the Temple by night the imperial emblems, and from that time the Jews were involved in rebellion and mutual troubles."
And from that time a succession of all kinds of troubles afflicted the whole nation and their city until the last war against them, and the final siege, in which destruction (b) rushed on them like a flood with all kinds of misery of famine, plague and sword, and all who had conspired against the Saviour in their youth were cut off; then, too, the abomination of desolation stood in the Temple, and it has remained there even till to-day, while they have daily reached deeper depths of desolation. And perhaps this will be so until the end of the world, according to the limit set by the prophet when he said, "And unto the consummation of time a fulfilment shall be given to the desolation." (c) These words our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ sealed, when He said, "When ye shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, standing in the Holy Place, then ye shall know that her desolation draws near."
And if the Jews are hard to persuade of this, they must be convicted not only of a shameless opposition to truth |139 and clear evidence, but also of misrepresenting, so far as they can, the predictions as falsehoods, if it is to be thought that in the seventy weeks of years some of them include all the time, while they prophesy of what is to happen in the intermediate period, while others, though we are now nearly a thousand years from the date of the prophecy, admit no (d) sign of the fulfilment of what was written, although their Unction has been abolished, as the divine prediction foretold, and their sanctuary, and the former inhabitants destroyed and utterly brought to naught in the flood of the completed war, and strangest thing of all even now to be seen, I mean, the abomination of desolation still standing in the one holy place, concerning which our Lord and Saviour said what I have quoted.
As this is before our eyes even now, it is extraordinary (404) that the Jews are not only so daring as to refuse to see what is clear, but so blind and dark in their minds as well as not to be able to see the clear and evident fulfilment of the Holy Scriptures. But they are in the state now that Isaiah prophesied they should come to, and his words are fulfilled:
"Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see and not perceive. For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at (b) any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."
But since it was said of old of the nations that believe in Christ, "To whom it has not been announced concerning Him, they shall see, and they who have not heard, shall understand," I also by His grace and that of the Father that sent Him have given as full an interpretation as I could of this passage, and have quoted also the critical conclusions of Africanus, my predecessor, as germane and accurate, and therefore to be made use of as satisfactory. (c) |140
The Prophet foretells what will be the Signs of the Coming of the Lord to Men, the Complete Destruction of the Sacred Customs of the Jews, the Knowledge of the God that was announced by the Prophets, the Deepest Peace of All Nations.
(405) [Passages quoted, Micah i. 2-4; iii. 9-12; iv. 1-4.]
(d) I HAVE already considered this prophecy among the passages. And I have pointed out that only from the date of our Saviour Jesus Christ's Coming among men have the objects of Jewish reverence, the hill called Zion and Jerusalem, the buildings there, that is to say, the Temple, the Holy of Holies, the Altar, and whatever else was there dedicated to the glory of God, been utterly removed or shaken, in fulfilment of the Word which said:
"Behold the Lord, the Lord comes forth from his place, and he shall descend on the high places of the earth, and the mountains shall be shaken under him."
And when those kings are shaken, the souls of the Jews, called "valleys," because of the contrast of their wretchedness with their former exaltation, bewailing the passing of (406) the aforesaid glory, will melt like wax before the fire, and be as water rushing down a chasm, through the multitude of those that fall from bad to worse. And all this it says will come to pass because of the sin of the house of Jacob, and the transgression of the house of Israel. And it goes on to describe this sin and transgression, "They that defile judgment and pervert all that is right, who build Sion with blood and Jerusalem with unrighteousness." With blood! Yes, this was the cause of their final misery, for that they pronounced the impious curse upon themselves, saying, (b) "His blood be on us and on our children." Therefore, it says this, "Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be as a storehouse of fruit," a prophecy which was only actually fulfilled after the impious treatment of our Saviour. For from that time to this utter desolation has possessed the land; their once famous Mount Sion, instead |141 of being, as once it was, the centre of study and education based on the divine prophecies, which the children of the (c) Hebrews of old, their godly prophets, priests and national teachers loved to interpret, is a Roman farm like the rest of the country, yea, with my own eyes I have seen the bulls plowing there, and the sacred site sown with seed. And Jerusalem itself is become but a storehouse of its fruit of old days now destroyed, or better, as the Hebrew has it, a stone-quarry.
So Aquila says, "Therefore for your sake the land of Zion shall be ploughed, and Jerusalem shall be a quarry of (d) stone," for being inhabited by men of foreign race it is even now like a quarry, all the inhabitants of the city choosing stores from its ruins as they will for private as well as public buildings. And it is sad for the eyes to see stones from the Temple itself, and from its ancient sanctuary and holy place, used for the building of idol temples, and of theatres for the populace. These things are open for the eyes to see, and it should be clear as well that it is hence that the new law and word of the new Covenant of our Saviour Jesus Christ goes forth. For countless companies (407) of people, races of all kinds deserting their fathers' gods and their old superstitions, call on the Supreme God. And thus it is reckoned the deepest peace, there being no diversity of government or national rule, that nation should not take up sword against nation, and that they should not learn war any more, but that each farmer should rest under his vine and under his fig tree, according to the prophecy, and that none should make him afraid. (b)
As this state of things was never achieved at any other time but during the Roman Empire, from our Saviour's birth till now, I consider the proof irrefutable that the prophet refers to the time of our Saviour's coming among men. |142
Signs of the Time of the Coming of the Word of God to Men, the Call of the Gentiles, and Final Destruction of Jerusalem.
[Passages quoted, Zech. ii. 10, 11; ix. 9, 10.]
AFTER this prediction of our Saviour's Coming, the prophecy now goes on, after interposing other matter, to speak of the final desolation of Jerusalem, partly under figurative and disguised forms, and partly quite clearly. Figuratively, for example, when it says:
(408) "1. Open thy doors, Libanus, and let the fire devour thy cedars; let the pine howl, because the cedar has fallen: for the mighty men have been greatly afflicted. 2. Howl, ye oaks of the land of Eashan, for the thickly planted forest has been torn down. 3. The voice of shepherds mourning, for their greatness is brought low: The voice of roaring lions, for the pride of Jordan is brought low."
This is figurative. But the same prophet goes on to give a clear interpretation of it.
(b) "2. Behold, I will make Jerusalem as shaking doorposts to all the nations round about, and in Judaea there shall be a siege against Jerusalem. 3. And it shall be in that day, I will make Jerusalem a stone trodden under foot by all nations; every one that tramples on it shall utterly mock it, and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered unto her."
And shortly after he adds:
(c) "10b. And they shall look on me, whom they pierced, because they have mocked me, and shall make lamentation for him as for a beloved, and grief as for a firstborn son. 11. In that day the lamentation of Jerusalem shall be increased, as the mourning for Roon cut down in the plain. 12. And the land shall mourn according to families. The family of the house of David by itself, and its women by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and its women by themselves; the |143 family of the house of Levi by itself, and its women by themselves; the family of the house of Simeon by itself, and its women by themselves. 14. All the families that are left, each family by itself and their wives by themselves."
And again, after other matter, he announces yet more (d) clearly the siege of Jerusalem, saying:
"1. Behold the days of the Lord come, and thy spoils shall be divided in thee. 2. And I will bring up all nations unto Jerusalem unto war, and the city shall be taken, and its houses plundered, and its women defiled, and half of the city shall go into captivity, and the remnant of my people shall not be cast out of the city. 3. And the Lord shall come forth; and shall fight with those nations, as when he fought in the day of war. 4. And his feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem."
Then, after an interval, he says:
"And there shall be one Lord, and his name one, encircling the earth and the wilderness."
And again after other matter, concluding the book of His (409) prophecy, He prophesies the calling of the Gentiles:
"And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall be left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall even come up every year to worship the King the Lord Almighty, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 17. And it shall come to pass that whosoever of all the families of the earth shall not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, even these shall be added to the others. 18. And if the family of Egypt (b) shall not go up nor come thither, then upon them shall come the fall, with which the Lord shall strike all nations, as many as go not up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 19. This is the transgression of Egypt, and the transgression of all the nations, as many as go not up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles."
So prophesied Zechariah after the Return from Babylon, in the reign of Darius, King of Persia, when Jerusalem was but just arisen from the desolation which it suffered under the Babylonians. And the whole period from Darius the (c) Persian, in whose time Zechariah prophesied, even to Augustus, Emperor of Rome, amounts to the seven and |144 sixty-two weeks of years in Daniel, which are equivalent to 483 years, as I have shewn in my recent investigations. And neither in the time of the Macedonians from Alexander onwards, not even if you include the reign of Augustus, was (d) anything similar to the words of the prophet fulfilled. For when in those days did the Lord, Whom the prophet speaks of as divine, come among men, and many nations know Him, and confess Him to the only God, and take refuge in Him, and be to Him a people? Or when in the times of the Macedonians or Persians did the king who was foretold come, sitting upon an ass and a young colt? When did He come and utterly destroy the royal array of the Jewish nation, here called Ephraim, and of Jerusalem itself, called chariots and horses, and conquer the army of the Jews? For this is what the oracle revealed, saying:
"Behold thy king cometh to thee, righteous and a saviour, himself meek, and sitting upon an ass and a young colt, and he shall utterly destroy the warlike bow." (410)
For so it was prophesied concerning the destruction of the royal glory of the Jewish nation, at the same time, as, on the other hand, the prophecy of peace for the Gentiles was repeated in agreement with those previously quoted, namely, "And abundance of peace shall be from the Gentiles." In place of which Aquila and the other translators render, "And he shall speak peace to the Gentiles," which stands specially and literally fulfilled from the reign of Augustus, since from that date varieties of government ceased, and (b) peace enwrapped most of the nations of the world. And before the Roman days under Persians or Macedonians what King of the Jews was there, who "ruled from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the ends of the earth?" And so the other translators have shewn. Therefore Aquila says:
"And he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to to sea, and from the river to the ends of the world."
With this agrees the passage in the 101st Psalm concerning the Christ that is to be born of the seed of Solomon:
"In his days righteousness shall arise, and abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth, and he shall (c) rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the world." |145
For these words about the son of Solomon are as exalted as those in the prophet. When, then, this took place and in what way, and in what period, let him that can, inform me. And when did Jerusalem after its siege by the Babylonians undergo a second burning, and have its Temple thrown to the ground?
And the figure used by the prophet is also exceedingly (d) strange when he says, "O Libanus, open thy gates, and let fire devour thy cedars." For he calls the Temple here, as was not unusual, by the name of Libanus (it is so called in other prophecies). To this the Jews themselves now assent, since Isaiah, too, has a similar prophecy to the one before us, namely:
"Behold, the Lord of Sabaoth shall disturb the noble with might, and the lofty shall be crushed in their pride." And Libanus shall fall with its lofty ones, and there shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse, and a flower shall spring up from his roots, and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him."
To which he adds:
"And there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall (411) rise to rule the Gentiles, in him shall the Gentiles trust."
Here, too, the destruction of Libanus and the call of the Gentiles is connected with the birth of Christ, of the seed of Jesse and David. And Ezekiel actually calls Jerusalem Libanus when he says, "The great eagle, with great wings, that hath the dominion, cometh to Libanus, and tore off the tender boughs of the cedar." And he goes on to explain this himself, as happening when Nebuchadnezzar shall come to Jerusalem and take her rulers, and that which follows. But Ezekiel's prophecy is about the first siege, and Zechariah's about the second. When, then, after the time of Zechariah in the time of the Macedonian Empire was the Temple burnt? There was no such time. For after its burning by the Babylonians, it was not burned again till in the time of Titus and Vespasian, the Roman Emperors, it was utterly destroyed by fire, and it is in relation to this that the prophet summons the ancient rulers of the nation in a figure to mourn and weep, when he says: "Let the (c) |146 pine weep because the cedar is fallen, because the great ones are in great misery. Let the oaks of Bashan weep, because the wood that is planted is torn down: a voice of shepherds that lament, because their greatness is in misery." Then truly Jerusalem was as a portico shaken by all nations around it, and there was a force encircling Judaea, and their venerated Temple and its Holy Place is even to-day a stone trodden under the feet of all nations, and all that mock are mocked according to the prophecy.
(d) Yea, in return for their insults to the Lord who thus prophesied, there has not failed for them lamentation, mourning and wailing. And it was only after our Saviour came, and even until our own time, that all the families of the Jewish nation have suffered pain worthy of wailing and lamentation because God's hand has struck them, delivering their mother-city over to strange nations, laying their Temple low, and driving them from their country, to serve their enemies in a hostile land; wherefore even now every house and every soul is a prey to lamentation. And so the prophecy says, "And family shall mourn by family, the (412) family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves, and all that follows this."
And which were the days after the age of Zechariah, when the spoils of Jerusalem were divided, and all nations were gathered against them in battle, and the city was taken, their houses looted, their women defiled, and they themselves led into captivity, while the Lord was at the same time aiding the nations warring against Jerusalem and drawn up against them? Or when did His feet stand (b) on the Mount of Olives? Or when was the Lord King of all the earth, when was there one Lord over all men, when did His Name encircle the whole earth and the wilderness? It is impossible to argue that this was fulfilled previously to the period of the Romans, in whose time the Jewish Temple was burnt for the second time after its destruction by the Babylonians, and their city from then till now has been inhabited by foreign nations.
And it was when our Lord Jesus, the Christ of God, had (c) visited the olive-grove over against Jerusalem, since the words of the prophecy were fulfilled which said, "His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives opposite to Jerusalem," that is, the life of holiness having been established |147 throughout all the world, that all the nations, according to the prophecy, kept the Feast of Tabernacles together in every place to the God of the prophets, and the Egyptians from that time recognizing God erected tents in every town and country place, which mean the local Christian Churches. For the power of our Saviour Jesus Christ has pegged them (d) far better than Moses' tents through the whole world, so that every race of men and all the Gentiles may keep their Feast of Tabernacles to Almighty God.
When, then, we see what was of old foretold for the nations fulfilled in our own day, and when the lamentation and wailing that was predicted for the Jews, and the burning of the Temple and its utter desolation, can also be seen even now to have occurred according to the prediction, surely we must also agree that the King who was prophesied, (413) the Christ of God, has come, since the signs of His coming have been shewn in each instance I have treated to have been clearly fulfilled.
The Signs of the Times of the Lord's Coming, and the Egyptians' Acknowledgment of the God of the Prophets.
[Passages quoted, Isa. xix. 1-3; xix. 19-21.]
THIS is a passage that I have already partly expounded. Now if the Egyptians are not seen in our own time deserting their ancestral gods and calling upon the God of the prophets; if throughout Egypt in every locality, town and country there are not altars erected to the God that was formerly acknowledged only by the Hebrews; if the idols of (414) Egypt have not been shaken, for that the power of the daemons that hung about them is gone, and the ancient superstition driven from the soul of the Egyptians; and once more, if there is not intestine war arisen through all the households of Egypt, between them that receive the Lord and worship the God of the prophets and reject their |148 immemorial polytheistic error, and them that oppose the (b) converts of the Lord in their adherence to the evil of their fathers; if they do not even now in their efforts to question their own gods and the idols and them that speak out of the ground and the diviners by familiar spirits, make a vain and useless appeal to them because the daemons are no longer able to work in them as they did of old—if all these things are not seen to have been actually fulfilled, why (c) then, you may consider that the prophetic oracle is unfulfilled, and that the Lord that was prophesied has not yet visited our human life.
But if, on the other hand, we can see the people of Egypt far more patently in actual fact than in mere description, some of them acknowledging the God of the prophets, and for His sake renouncing their ancestral gods, some of them raising political dissension against the converts, some of them even now calling upon their gods and images and them that speak from the ground, who no longer can effect aught, and some throughout all Egypt raising an altar to the Lord of the prophets for each local Church, calling no (d) longer in their troubles and persecutions on beasts or reptiles as their gods, nor on wild animals and unreasoning brutes as their fathers did, but on the Supreme God, retaining Him only and the fear of Him in their minds, praying to Him, and not to the daemons, and promising what men should promise God—how can we deny that the prophecies of long ago have at last been fulfilled? And these foretold that the Lord would come to Egypt not in an unembodied state, but in a light cloud, or better "in light thickness," for such is the meaning of the Hebrew, shewing figuratively His Incarnate state. Therefore the prophecy |149 goes on to call Him a man that is a Saviour, saying, "And (415) the Lord shall send to them a man that is a Saviour." Here again the Hebrew is, "And He shall send to them a Saviour, who shall save them." As the proof is now so clear from this, I consider that there is no question of the time at which the prophecies foretold the Lord's Coming.
I have here only briefly collected the evidence for the time of the Advent of our Lord. If the other Scriptures were searched at leisure much more could be discovered. But as I am well satisfied with what I have brought before (b) you, I will now address myself to the other prophecies. And our next task will be to collect from inspired prophecy the predictions about the earthly dispensation of the Incarnation.
[A few footnotes renumbered and placed at the end]
1. 1 Cf. Plato, Republic, 543 A.
2. 1 Jos., Ant. XI. 5. 8.
3. 2 "Thirty years."—Jos., Ant. XX. 10. 3.
4. 3 Jos., Ant. XIII. 11. 1.
5. 2 The reference is to Jos., Ant. Jud. XX. (not XVIII.) cap. viii. (x.),
6. 3 Jos., Ant. Jud. XX. 10. 5.
7. 1 Jos., Ant. Jud. XVIII. 4. 3.
8. 2 See Eus., H.E. I. 10.
9. 1 Jos., Ant. Jud. XVIII. 2. 2.
10. 1 Jos., B.J. VI. 5,3.
11. 2 Jos., Ant. XVIII. 3, and B.J. II. 9. 2.
12. 3 Philo Jud., cf. leg. ad caium 38, pp. 589, 590.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.
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