Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 9
(416) IT remains for me now to redeem my promise to go on to expound the dispensation connected with the Incarnation of the very Word of God. My previous labours in the eight books already completed have been concerned (417) with Him. I have now devoted myself to tracing the Theology of His Person, now to considering His Descent to us from heaven, now His Character, His Name, and the time of His Advent. As the treatment of these subjects is complete, it is now time to consider the matters connected with His Coming, and to shew how these also were predicted among the Hebrews. And the fulfilment of the predictions shall be confirmed by the witness of (b) the Holy Evangelists, and their historical account of the actual events.
Let us then begin, as the proof about His Birth, tribe, and family is complete, by considering the star which appeared at His Birth, which was new and a stranger among the usual lights of heaven. For this, too, was proclaimed by Moses long before in times far distant in the following words.
Of the Things that happened at the Incarnation, and of the Star that appeared at Our Saviour's Birth.
MOSES, in the Book of Numbers, says of the star that appeared at the Birth of our Saviour, as follows.
[Passage quoted, Num. xxiv. 15-19.]
We are told that Balaam's successors moved by this (for the prediction was preserved most likely among them), when they noticed in the heavens a strange star besides the usual ones, fixed above the head, so to say, and, |151 vertically above Judaea, hastened to arrive at Palestine, to (418) inquire about the King announced by the star's appearance. Matthew the Evangelist witnesses to this as follows:
1. "And when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, 2. Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him."
And when they had been sent on their way they reached Bethlehem.
9. "And, behold, again, the (same) star, which they saw before in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was. 10. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with (b) exceeding great joy, and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him."
This is the account in the Holy Gospel. But the word of the prophecy says that striking events will be heralded by the rising of the star and the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, viz., the crushing of the leaders of Moab, and the raid on the sons of Seth, and the inheriting by the Jewish nation of its other enemies, these being Edom and Esau. What could be thus figuratively described by the leaders (c) of Moab, but the destruction of the invisible rulers, I mean the daemons whom the Moabites had of old considered gods? But others were not mentioned, because of Israel's idolatry in the wilderness, when "the people were initiated into the rites of Belphegor." (This daemon was honoured as a god by Balak, King of Moab.)
As, therefore, Israel was conquered on this occasion by the invisible powers of Moab, I mean by those regarded as gods by the Moabites (for they committed idolatry and worshipped idols, as Scripture says, and were initiated into the cult of Belphegor, a Moabitish daemon, and committed |152 adultery with the women of Moab), Balaam in his prophecy appositely paints the picture of a complete reversal and change in days to come: "A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a man shall spring from Israel, and he shall crush the leaders of Moab." As if he had said, more plainly, that the daemons of Moab who once triumphed over Israel would suffer a crushing defeat on the birth of the subject (419) of the prophecy, and that when these were crushed, the sons of Seth, Edom and Esau, and the other nations, by whom, I think, are meant those that had long been the slaves of daemonic error, would be converted from their superstition to the service of Him that was foretold. For it says: "And Edom shall be an inheritance, and Esau his enemy shall be an inheritance." So it says that those who were once enemies of God and of Israel will become the inheritance of Him that was prophesied. For He it was to Whom it was said by God and His Father: "Desire of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance." And while they enter into the inheritance of the (b) saints, the reverse is prophesied for Israel—for it says: "Israel hath wrought in strength." And it wrought in strength the worst sin of all; wherefore He will be aroused by them, and will drive them out. Who is this but the Word of God that was foretold, Who also "destroyed him that was saved from the city"? And I think that this refers figuratively to Jerusalem, in which all that were saved perished, or perhaps to the whole constitution of the Jewish nation. I need not describe at greater length (c) how this was fulfilled, how, when our Saviour shone forth on mankind, the nations that before were idolaters were converted and became His portion, at the same time that the Jewish nation and their mother-city underwent unexampled sufferings. Thus, I will conclude what I have to say of the agreement of prophetic prediction with Gospel fulfilment. Let us now learn the reason why the star appeared. Now Moses says, that all the stars were set in the firmament by God "for signs and for seasons." But this was a strange and unusual star, not (d) one of the many known stars, but being new and fresh by its appearance here it portended a new luminary that should shine on all the Universe, the Christ of God, a great and a new Star, whose likeness the star that appeared |153 to the wise men symbolically shewed. For since in all the holy and inspired Scriptures the leading object of the meaning is to give mystic and divine instruction, while preserving as well the obvious meaning in its own sphere of historical facts, so the prediction before us was properly and literally fulfilled in the matter of the star that was prophesied to appear at our Saviour's Birth.1
In the case of other remarkable and famous men we (420) know that strange stars have appeared, what some call comets, or meteors, or tails of fire, or similar phenomena that are seen in connection with great unusual events. But what event could be greater or more important for the whole Universe than the spiritual light coming to all (b) men through the Saviour's Advent, bringing to human souls the gift of holiness and true knowledge of God? Wherefore the herald star gave the great sign, telling in symbol that the Christ of God would shine as a great new light on all the world.
And the prophecy foretells a man as well as a star, for it says: "A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a man shall spring from Israel," naming first the heavenly light, the Word of God, and next the Humanity. And He is called, as I have shewn in my former books, in other places by the varying names of Rising, Light, and Sun of (c) Righteousness. And here, by applying to Him the verb from "Rising," "a star shall rise out of Jacob," it shews His Diviner aspect, as "giving light to every man that cometh into the world"; while it shews the Humanity, by the suffering that comes to Him, where it foretells that He will fall to rise again, in words like what Isaiah says of Him: "And there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to rule the Gentiles; in Him shall the Gentiles |154 trust." And we see how true it is that the light of our (d) Saviour, which rose from Jacob, that is from the Jews, has shone on all nations but Jacob, from whence it came forth.
And while this can be found in many prophecies, which say as it were to Christ Himself: "Behold, I have set thee for a light to the Gentiles, for a covenant of thy race," it is especially obvious in the words of Balaam, when he says: "A man shall come from his seed, and shall rule many nations." Whose seed but Israel's, as the context shews? And thus our Saviour, the Word, as the prophecy foretold, ruling over the nations threw down the invisible noxious powers which had governed them so long, the spirits of evil, and the band of daemons, called figuratively here the princes of Moab, Seth, Edom, and (421) Esau.
The words: "I will point to him, but not now, I bless him but he draws not near," which are obscure in the Septuagint, are more clearly rendered by Aquila: "I shall see him, but not now; I expect him, but he is not near." And Symmachus more plainly still says: "I see him but not near." Balaam would speak thus of things revealed to him that would be accomplished a very long time after (b) his own days. And so at the conclusion of two thousand years after his prediction they were fulfilled in our Saviour's Coming among men.
How the Lord resting in the Sacred Body which He took from the Virgin will come to Egypt, is both Literally and Figuratively foretold, and that all the Superstition of the Heathen will be destroyed at His Advent.
[Passage quoted, Isa. xix. 1.]
I SUPPOSE that the reason why it is foretold that the Lord (d) would come to Egypt is this: The Egyptians are said to have been the first to practise the errors of polytheism |155 and the daemons, and to have introduced superstition to the rest of mankind, and to have been concerned more than others with the activities and meddling of the daemons. And Holy Scripture witnesses that they were the enemies of God's people from the very beginning, for it is written that their ancient king confessed that he did not know the Lord, when he said: "I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go." So, then, it is because Scripture wishes to shew the great marvel of the divine power of Christ that it foretells His going to Egypt, in (422) predicting that the Egyptians will undergo an extraordinary conversion, when it goes on to say: "And the Egyptians shall know the Lord, who before knew Him not, and shall pray to the Lord," and so on. Above in the previous chapter Edom and Esau are called the inheritance of the subject of the prophecy, these names being used for strangers to Israel. Here it is predicted of Egypt and its people that they will not acknowledge idols any more, (b) but the Lord revealed by the Jewish prophets. Now if we cannot see this actually fulfilled before our eyes, we must not say that the Lord's coming to Egypt has taken place; but if beyond all need of argument the truth is shewn by facts, and reveals clearly to the most unobservant the Egyptians rescued from hereditary superstition, and followers of the God of the prophets who foretold that this would take place, serving Him only, and greeting every (c) form of death for their duty to Him, to what else can we attribute it, but to the Lord coming to Egypt, as the prophecy before us predicted?
It is, of course, possible that the prophecy from another point of view teaches in a figurative and disguised way about the earthly universe, into which it prophesies that the Lord will come on a light cloud, a figure of the Humanity that He took of the Virgin and the Holy Spirit. And that the idols of Egypt to be shaken, are the idols of (all) nations, while the vanquished Egyptians are all those (d) who were of old distracted by idolatry. This may be so, yet when our Lord in bodily form was carried into Egypt, when Joseph arose in obedience to the oracle, and took Mary and the young Child, and went into Egypt, it is probable that the evil daemons who dwelt there of old were greatly moved by His unspeakable power and might; and |156 most of all when, through His teaching, so many of Egypt's inhabitants afterwards rejected the errors of the daemons, and even now profess to know the God of the Universe alone.
(423) That which immediately follows I will interpret when I have more leisure, for it is figuratively expressed, and would need considerable labour.
It is foretold that Christ would come into Egypt, and would return from thence again.
[Passage quoted, Num. xxiv. 3-9.]
THE oracle in the previously-quoted prophecy, in saying (d) that the Lord would come into Egypt, foretold the journey of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He went into Egypt with His parents. Here we have the prophecy of His return from Egypt in its natural order, when He came back with His parents into the land of Israel, in the words: "God led him out of Egypt." For our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the Christ of God, was the only one of the seed of Israel and of the Jewish race, Who has ruled over many nations, so that it is indisputable that He is the fulfilment of the prophecy which says, literally, "that a man will come from (424) the Jewish race, and rule over many nations." If He be not, let him who will suggest some other famous man among the Hebrews, who has ruled over many nations. But this he cannot do, for such a man never existed. But with regard to our Saviour, truth itself will shout and cry aloud, even if we say nothing, shewing plainly that His Divine Power through the human body He took of the seed of Israel according to the flesh has ruled, yea, and even now will rule many nations.
He it was, then, and none other, Whom the prophecy foretold, in Whose time the kingdom of Gog should be exalted concurrently with the growth of Christ's power. (b) It is said that by this figure the Hebrews disguised the |157 Roman Empire, which grew concurrently with the teaching of Christ. And the Prophet Ezekiel also mentions Gog, naming him Ruler of Ros, Mosoeh, and Thobel, probably disguising the city of Rome under the name of Ros, because empire and power are signified in Hebrew by that word; by Mosoeh, he meant Mysia and the (c) adjacent nations, which are now subject to Rome; and by Thobel Josephus means Iberia, saying that the Thobelian Iberians sprang from Thobel. He says that Gog, the ruler of all of them, will be exalted at the coming of the Christ prophesied, Whom God led out of Egypt, when, as Matthew records, Herod laid a plot against Him when He was a Child, and Joseph informed by God took the young Child and His mother, and afterwards returned into the land (d) of Israel.
And Christ possessed "the glory of an Unicorn," because in Him was pleased "to dwell all the fullness of the Godhead," in the words of the Holy Apostle. And, therefore, as accounting the God of the Universe and His Father to be His Horn, He was called "Unicorn" also in other Scriptures.
And He, the Word of God, defeated with shafts of mind and spirit His enemy and opponent the devil, and all the invisible and evil powers around Him with greater invincible might, and even now rules over many nations whose gross fleshly instincts He fines down and makes them fit to tread the narrow way of eternal life. (425)
And moreover He too, the Man who came from Israel, Who ruleth many nations, having lain down, "rested as a lion," he says, plainly indicating the dispensation He had accepted, according to which like a kingly and terrible wild beast He rested, for none were able to remove His rule and His Kingdom, and all who blessed the Christ, glorifying the greatness of their teaching by word and deed, received in return the blessing of God, increasing and multiplying daily, according to the divine commandment, "Increase and multiply and replenish the earth," which in them is fulfilled more truly and divinely. While in contrast (b) to them, they who since their original plot against Him |158 even until now curse Him in their synagogues, have drawn down the curse of God on their heads from that day to this. Wherefore they do not cease to behold the utter desolation and destruction of their kingdom and of their Temple of old so venerable. And it is worth comparing with this prophecy that of Jacob to Judah, which I have already shewn to be most clearly applicable to our Saviour, and to recognize (c) the agreement of the two. For as we have here, "A man shall come forth from his seed," i. e. Jacob's, so we had there, "From a slip, my son, thou hast ascended," said by Jacob to the subject of the prophecy.
As we read too in this prophecy, "And he shall rule many nations," in the other we have similarly, "And he (d) shall be the expectation of nations." Again this one says, "He shall eat the Gentiles his enemies, and with his darts he shall shoot his enemies," just as the other, "Thy hands shall be on the back of thine enemies"; while, "The whelp of the lion of Judah," and, "Falling down thou didst couch as a lion, and as a young lion who shall arouse thee? "in the other prophecy are, I think, identical with the words in the one before us, "Lying down he couched as a lion, and as a lion's whelp, who shall raise him up? "I have set these passages side by side, so that the proof concerning our Saviour may rest on a firmer foundation, established on the agreement "of the mouth of two witnesses."
All therefore that I have deduced from the prediction (426) of Jacob would apply to that of Balaam, because of the similarity of their sayings. And if it was then established by a lengthy demonstration that the former were fulfilled in our Saviour, it follows that this is also true of the latter. |159
Again concerns the Words, Out of Egypt have I Called My Son, and King Herod, and the Destruction of the Kingdom of the Jews.
[Passages quoted, Hos. x. 14; xi. 1.]
FOLLOWING the Hebrew slavishly, Aquila translates, "Out (c) of Egypt have I called my son." But I have noted the exact words, because Matthew quoted the prophecy, when he recorded that Jesus was carried into Egypt, and returned thence to the land of Israel. And if any one objects to the idea of our Saviour's going into Egypt, let him know that He went for good reasons. For neither was it fitting for (d) Him to restrain Herod from his self-chosen wickedness, nor that our Saviour while still an infant should begin to shew His Divine Power by working miracles before the time, which would have been the case, if He had punished Herod miraculously for plotting against Him, and had not submitted to go down to Egypt with His parents. For it was surely the note of a better dispensation that He should wait till the fitting time to begin the miracles of His Divinity, Whose whole life is known to have been gentle and patient, ready to do pood deeds and acts of kindly service, and not to defend Himself from them that would not hear Him, even when "He was led as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers was dumb." Where then is the (427) improbability that one like Him when a child should give way before Herod's wickedness, Who we know when a man yielded and submitted to evil men, hid Himself and shrank from the glory of His miraculous works? For He used to bid those He had healed tell no one.
And if any prefer to apply the prophecy to the people, regarding it as spoken concerning the people of Israel, let him consider the sequence of the argument, which implies that this will take place after the saying addressed as to Jerusalem itself, "And destruction shall be raised up in thy (b) |160 people, and all thy strong places shall depart." And those things, it says, which such and such a king suffered in a war in which he was involved, when they dashed the mother to the ground on her children, the like will I do unto you because of your wickedness. He must mean by "you" them that are called Israelites, who also were cast away with their king, by whom he implies Herod. "And you have suffered all this," it says, "because Israel is a child, (c) and I loved him, and out of Egypt have I called my son." But how can he praise and blame the same people at the same time? The real meaning supplies the explanation. The Christ is called "Israel," in other prophecies, as He is in this. Since then, it says, being obedient to Me, He took the form of a servant, and became My beloved Son, fulfilling all My will, therefore I called Him back as My (d) true and beloved Son from the Egypt whither He descended when He became man, meaning by Egypt this earthly sphere, or possibly Egypt itself. But you, to whom the prophecy is spoken, shall suffer ruin and destruction, together with your king. Such is the prophecy. And we can see that from our Saviour's time by the siege of Jerusalem the independence and national power of the Jewish race that existed up till then was destroyed and utterly cast away. This is the third prophecy concerning Egypt, and His sojourn there.
But if any one say that it does not apply to our Saviour, yet let him not deny that the words quoted by Matthew were taken by him from the witness of Moses, which I have lately expounded, when explaining the words, '' God led (428) him out of Egypt," and as the evangelist himself never says that the oracle was quoted from the prophecy of Hosea, he can seek for it and find it laid up in any place, whence it is probable that the evangelist quoted it. |161
Of the Preaching of John in the Wilderness.
[Passage quoted, Isa. xl. 3.]
THIS prophecy too was necessarily to be fulfilled in the (c) times of our Saviour. And according to the Evangelist Luke, in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, and those numbered with him, the Word of God came to John, the son of Zachariah, in the wilderness, "And he went into all the country around Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." To this the evangelist adds the witness, saying, "As it is written in the books of the words of Isaiah the prophet, 'The Voice of One crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord,'" and that which follows. What then did John's voice shout in its preaching in the (d) wilderness, but an invitation to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, as to reptiles of the wilderness, akin to his "generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? "And he changed too the crooked souls into straight, and the rough roads into smooth by saying to them, "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance." And this was fulfilled when John had prepared them to behold the glory of the Lord, and what is called "the salvation of our God," which is the Christ, as he bore witness, saying:
"I indeed baptize you with water, but there cometh (429) one after me that is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire."
Who also seeing Jesus coming cried:
"Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world: This is he of whom I spake, a man cometh after me, who was before me.''
And Symeon also bare witness that the same Jesus was "the salvation of God," who took Him in his arms when He was still an infant, and said:
"Now thou art letting thy servant, O Lord, depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen |162 thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face (b) of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles."
With which the prophet agrees, saying, "And all flesh shall see the salvation of God." For "all flesh" stands for "all the nations." And I need not say this was fulfilled, and that all nations knew the Christ of God. Such was the literal fulfilment of the prophecy.
(c) But why did John go forth to preach in the wilderness, and not in cities, or in Jerusalem itself? It might be answered that he did so in fulfilment of the prophecy. But a critical questioner will at once inquire, what this prophecy meant to teach when it spoke of the wilderness and the things to do with it. And I should reply to him that it is a symbol of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Altar there, and of the Mosaic worship, because the forgiveness of sins was no longer extended to them by the legal (d) sacrifices, but by the cleansing and washing delivered to her that was before thirsty and deserted; I mean the Gentile Church, in which also the prophetic voice bids to prepare the way of the Lord, foretelling that the souls which are lying deep in sin as in a valley will be raised up, and that the old heights of Jerusalem, and of her rulers and kings, called "mountains and hills," shall be laid low, which being completed, he says, "All flesh shall see the salvation of God," meaning every soul united with a body, both Greek and Barbarian, of every nation without exception, and this is seen to have been fulfilled according to the prophecy.
(430) Now let me ask myself what it was in John that struck the multitude with fear, so that they marvelled at him and put trust in his baptism of repentance, and all from every side left their homes, and flowed in one stream into the wilderness, having regard to the fact that the records give no account of anything he did; for we are not told that he raised the dead, or worked other miracles.
What then was it that struck the multitude? Surely it was his manner of life so strange and different to that of the people; for he came forth from the desert clad in a strange (b) garment, refusing all social human intercourse, he went not into village or city or the human haunts of men, he did not even share their common food; for it is written that from childhood he was in the deserts, until the day of his shewing |163 forth, to Israel, yes, and his raiment was made of camels' hair, and his food locusts and wild honey.
How, then, should they not have been naturally alarmed, when they saw a man, with the hair of a Nazarite of God, (c) and a divine face, suddenly appearing from the lonely wilderness clothed in a strange kind of dress, and after preaching to them going back again into the wilderness, without eating or drinking or mingling with the people, and must they not have suspected that he was more than human? For how could a man not need food? And so they understood him to be an angel, the very angel foretold by the prophet, in the words, "Behold, I send my angel before (d) thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee," a passage of Scripture which is quoted by the Evangelist Mark. And the Saviour also bears witness in the words, "John came neither eating nor drinking, and you say, He hath a devil." For it was just as natural that unbelievers, with minds hardened and shut against the truth, should thus blaspheme John because of his living as he did, as that those who were in accord with his noble character should reckon him an angel. Such, then, I understand to be the reasons why John was a marvel to those who saw him; and therefore they hastened from all sides to the cleansing of the soul, of which he preached.
Josephus, too, records his story in the Eighteenth Book (431) of the Jewish Archeology, writing as follows:
"Now. some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army 1 came from God, and that very justly as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism. For so the washing would be (b) acceptable to Him."2 |164
From the same.
Still concerning the Wilderness, and the River called Jordan, by which John baptized.
[Passage quoted, Isa. xxxv. 3-6.]
THIS, too, was fulfilled, was clearly fulfilled, by our Saviour's miraculous works after John's preaching. Notice therefore how He bears good tidings to the desert, not generally, or to any desert, but to one particular desert by the bank of Jordan. This was because John lived there and baptized there, as Scripture says:
"John was in the desert baptizing, and there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and all they of Jerusalem, and were baptized of him in Jordan."
I think the desert here is a symbol of that which of old was void of all God's good things, I mean the Church of the (432) Gentiles, and the river by the desert that cleanses all that are bathed therein is a figure of some cleansing spiritual power, of which the Scriptures speak, saying, "The movements of the river make glad the city of God." And this means the ever-flowing stream of the Holy Spirit welling from above and watering the city of God, which is the (b) name for life according to God. This river of God, then, has reached even unto the desert, that is the Gentile Church, and even now supplies it with the living water that it bears.
Moreover, it is said in this prophecy that the glory of Lebanon and the honour of Carmel shall be given to this wilderness. What is the glory of Lebanon, but the worship performed through the sacrifices of the Mosaic Law, which God refused in the prophecy which says, "Why do you bring me Libanus from Saba? And of what service to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?" He has transferred (c) the glory of Jerusalem to the desert of Jordan, since, from the times of John, the ritual of holiness began to be performed not at Jerusalem but in the desert. In like manner, too, the honour of the Law and of its more external ordinances, was transferred to the wilderness of Jordan for the same reason, viz. that they who need the healing of their |165 souls no longer hastened to Jerusalem but to that which was called the wilderness, because there the forgiveness of (d) sins was preached. And I think our Saviour's own Presence at the Baptism is meant by, "And my people shall see the glory of the Lord, and the majesty of God." For then it was that the glory of our Saviour was seen, when:
"Being baptized he went up from the water, and the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and staying upon him.":
When also there was heard "A voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased." Yea, and every one that rightly approaches the Sacrament of Baptism, and accepts the teaching of Christ's Divinity, shall see His glory, and shall say with Paul, "Even we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him not."
From Psalm xc. (433)
Of the Temptation of Our Lord After His Baptism.
[Passage quoted, Ps. xc. 1-13.]
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ, so far as He is (d) regarded as Man, is said "to dwell under the succour of the Most High, and to rest under the shelter of his God and Father." We know that, by making His Father His only refuge in the time of His Temptation by the devil, He was saved from the nets of the powers opposed to Him, here called "hunters," when, like an ordinary human being, He was driven into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, and was in the wilderness forty days and forty nights tempted of Satan, and was, as the evangelist tells us, "with the wild beasts." These were the same, as those this Psalm mentions, when it says to Him that dwells under the |166 protection of the Most High, "Thou shalt go upon the asp and the basilisk, and shalt trample on the lion and dragon." And it not only says that He shall be saved from them, but (434) from "the troubling word" also. What can this mean, but the words which according to the Holy Gospel were directed against Him by the tempter?
It is worth our consideration why our Saviour, being what He was, should undergo temptation. He came to expel from man every disease and sickness, and the spirits that hampered him, and the unclean daemons which had ruled all men on earth from immemorial time by means of polytheistic superstition. He did not attack them secretly as one who hides himself, but He marched against their leaders who (b) surrounded Him and were before invisible, in the Humanity that He had assumed, He charged into the midst of the devil and his array of daemons, trod upon asp and basilisk, trampled on lion and dragon, and destroyed the thousands and ten thousands of enemies that had ruled so long, some fighting on His right hand, some on His left, rulers and powers, and those too who are called "World-rulers of this darkness," and spiritual powers of (c) evil; He proved thus, that they were quite powerless, and finally frightened away, far from Him, with the word of His mouth the devil himself, their instigator to evil. He went through and trampled on every power opposed to Him, He offered Himself as a target to those who wished to attack and tempt Him, and as none were able to resist Him, He won salvation for mankind. Wherefore, when the (d) daemons saw Him, they recognized Him, because of the aforesaid sojourn in the wilderness, and said to Him, "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, Son of God? "Let this suffice on this matter. What follows in the Psalm is an address to the Christ, beginning at—
"With his shoulders he [that is the highest] shall overshadow thee, and under his wings shalt thou hope, and his truth shall surround thee with a shield."
And whereas His Temptation lasted forty days, and as many nights, it is said of those that attacked Him by night, "Thou shalt not fear the terror by night"; and of those |167 that warred against Him by day, "From the arrow that flieth by day." And also of the foe of night, "From the thing that vvalketh in darkness," and of those of daytime, "From the attack and the demon of mid-day." Then, as in (435) the Temptation, the evil powers encircled Him, some on His right side, and some on His left; the right being the stronger side, it is naturally said to Him, "A thousand shall fall at Thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but they shall not come near Thee." "At thy side" is used for "on thy left hand," in order, perhaps, not to utter the word "left," because nothing ill omened or left-handed was found in Him. And since a myriad and a thousand are (b) said to fall at His side and on His right hand, the next sentence comes naturally, "Yea, with thine eyes shalt thou behold, and see the reward of sinners." And this shall take place, it says, "About thee, the Christ of God," for, "Thou Thyself O Lord, who art my hope, hast made the Highest thy refuge." Here, too, you will observe how the prophet, in saying to the Lord Himself, "Thou, Lord, art my hope, thou hast made the Highest Thy refuge," discriminates carefully between One who is Lord in a special sense, and His Father, God Most High. And, therefore, as Christ (c) has made His Father, God Most High, His refuge, it is said to Him:
" Evil shall not attack thee, and no scourge shall approach thy dwelling, for he shall charge his angels concerning thee, to keep thee in all thy ways: They shall bear thee in their hands, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."
And note, carefully, how in, "For thou, Lord, art my hope, Thou hast made the Highest thy refuge," the equivalent for "Lord" in Hebrew is the Tetragram, which the sons of the Hebrews say must not be spoken and reserve for God alone; but I have previously shewn that it is also used for (d) the Godhead of the Word in many places of Scripture, as in this Psalm which says, as speaking to the person of the Lord Himself, "For Thou, Lord, art my hope, thou hast set the Most High for thy refuge "; as much as to say:
"For thou thyself, O Lord, who art the hope of me that utter this prophecy, knowest a greater than thyself, God Most High, and thou hast made Him thy refuge."
So in the opening of the Psalm it was said of Him: |168
(436) "He that dwelleth under the protection of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. He shall say to the Lord, Thou art my helper and my refuge, my God, my Succour, and I will trust on him."
"Since then, thou, O Lord, hast made the Most High thy refuge."
the Psalmist therefore says:
"He shall save thee from the snares of the hunters, and from the troubling word and with his shoulders he shall overshadow thee. Therefore, having such fatherly succour from the Highest, Thou shalt not fear the terror by night, nor any of the evils that are mentioned before, (b) or added after. For thou, O Lord, hast made the highest thy refuge, therefore evil shall not attack thee, and no scourge shall come nigh thy dwelling."
You will find the activities of the daemons, also called scourges, in the Gospels, which the Psalmist says are incapable of daring to approach Christ's dwelling, that is His Body. How could they, when He could drive them out of men by a mere word? Of this dwelling, David also once sware an oath to the Lord, and prayed to the God of Jacob, saying:
(c) "I will not climb up into my bed, I will not suffer mine eyes to sleep, or my eyelids to slumber, nor the temples of my head to take any rest, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the God of Jacob."
And it was on account of this tabernacle that it was said:
"Thou shalt not fear any terror by night, and He shall save thee from the snares of the hunters, and from the troubling word, and evils shall not attack thee, and a scourge shall not come nigh thy dwelling."
And other things that regard Him more from the side of His Humanity, such as:
"He shall charge his angels concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."
For such words would not apply to God, but only to the tabernacle, which He assumed for our sake, when the Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us. Here I think it will be well to quote the words of the other translators, to put what I have said on an exact foundation. Of whom, Aquila said: |169
"For thou, Lord, my hope, hast set thy dwelling (437) very high. Evils shall not affect thee, and no touch shall come near to thy shelter: for he gave command to his angels to guard thee in all thy ways.''
And Symmachus has:
"Thou, Lord, art my security, thou hast set thy dwelling very high. Evil shall have no power over thee, and no touch shall draw near thy tent. For he gave charge to his angels concerning thee to keep thee in all thy ways."
The Lord, then, is here addressed about some one greater than Himself, Who
"has charged his angels concerning thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee (i.e., The Lord) lest at any time thou, O Lord, dash thy foot against a stone."
And the devil used these words in his Temptation of our (b) Saviour, when he took Him into the holy city, and set Him upon the wing of the Temple and said to Him:
"If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down hence, for it is written, he shall give his angels charge over thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone,"
To whom the Lord answered and said:
"It is written, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God."
Then, though the evangelist tells that, during the Temptation, He was with the wild beasts, we are not told what they were, but the prophecy in the Psalm tells us more clearly in a disguised way the kinds of beasts, viz.: "Thou shalt (c) step on the asp and the basilisk, and shalt trample on the lion and dragon." It is thus said that he will trample on the kingliest of the wild beasts of the spirit, the lion and dragon, as well as the asp and the basilisk, that is to say, the devil himself, and the ruling evil powers that follow him.
And He bestows the power on His disciples and apostles who possess goodness like His own of walking upon serpents and scorpions, not allowing them to be tempted above that (d) they are able; for it was for Him alone to destroy the most evil powers, and the chief of them all, the prince of this world, by His Divine Power. |170
Of Galilee of the Gentiles, where our Saviour worked most of His Miracles, and of the Call of His Apostles.
(438) [Passage quoted, Isa. ix. 1-6.]
(c) THIS also was fulfilled in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ besides all the other prophecies, when according to the wondrous Evangelist—
(439) [Passage quoted, Matt. iv. 12-25.]
I have quoted this passage in its entirety, because the (b) prophecy promised that there would be a great light in Galilee, or in the land of Zabulon and Nephthalim, which are the same as Galilee. Now why did He pass most of His life in Galilee of the Gentiles? Surely that He might make a beginning of the calling of the Gentiles, for He called His disciples from thence. Wherefore, shortly after, in the same Gospel you will find that Matthew was called from Galilee, and in another Gospel, Levi also. And Philip, according to John, came from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew (c) and Peter, which was in Galilee. The marriage too, in the same Gospel, was in Cana of Galilee, when the Lord miraculously transformed the water into wine. "There he made a beginning of signs, when also he manifested his glory, and his disciples believed on him." Consider whether this first miracle of our Saviour that took place in Cana of Galilee, of the transformation of the water into wine, is not foretold in the beginning of this prophecy, where it says: "Drink this first. Act quickly, land of Zabulon and (d) Nephthalim, Galilee of the Gentiles." And if this miracle were a sign of the mystic wine, that wine of the faith of the new Covenant that is transformed from bodily joy to a joy of mind and spirit, consider whether this too was not suggested in what follows about Galilee, in the prophecy that the inhabitants of Zabulon and Nephthalim would be the first to come into the presence of Christ, to partake of the draught of Gospel preaching. It says, too, that the spring of their joy will be the shining of a great light, for them who before His Coming sat continually in darkness and the shadow of |171 death. But that when the light of salvation has sprung up, they will rejoice as men rejoice in harvest, and as they who (440) divide the spoils. And this was actually fulfilled, when our Lord and Saviour, calling His Apostles from Galilee, shewed forth to them His miracles and His teaching. The prophecy says that they will rejoice before Him, "as men rejoice in harvest." In what harvest, 1 ask, but that of which He spake in His teaching, "Lift up your eyes and behold the lands, that they are already white unto harvest"? By this He meant the gathering in of the Gentiles: of whom it is also said, "They shall rejoice, as they who divide the spoils." (b) Therefore the disciples and evangelists of our Saviour, dividing between them the lands of the nations, and all the earth under heaven, despoiled the countless princes of this world, who were before rulers of the nations. And we should also recognize that He says there will be another reason for their joy, viz.: their relief from the external yoke of the law, that of old was laid on them, which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear. And not only was this (c) yoke removed from them, but the rod of the exactors which before pressed on their neck. He shews who the exactors are in another passage, where He says: "My people, your factors take your corn, and the exactors rule over you." But these men of Zabulon and Nephthalim will rejoice having seen the great light for these reasons, and they who exacted of them of old will be required to repay even to the last farthing, and repaying every garment and vestment they will be burned with fire in the day of retribution. And all this, (d) He says, they will suffer, because "Unto us a child is born, a son is given to us, the Angel of Great Counsel.'' Who are meant by "us," but we who have believed in Him, and all Galilee of the Gentiles, on whom the great light is sprung up? And what is this light but the Child that was born, and the Son that was given us by God, Who is named the Angel of Great Counsel, and the Prince of Peace, the Potentate, the Mighty God, and the Father of the world to come? But I have already shewn in its right place that these words can only be referred to our Lord and Saviour. |172
From Psalm lxvii.
Of the Calling of the Apostles. (441)
[Passage quoted, Ps. Ixvii. 24-27.]
I THINK that here none but the Apostles can be meant by the rulers of Nephthali. For thence our Lord and Saviour called them according to the quotation from Matthew. The Scripture is prophesying the Coming of the Word of God to men, and His Incarnate sojourn here, (c) when it says, "Thy goings, O God, have been seen," and that which follows. And the prophets of old were like heralds of His Epiphany, and arrived before Him with proclamation and chant, with music of psaltery and choir and all kinds of spiritual instruments, in the midst of damsels playing on timbrels." For the inspired prophets going in every way into the midst of the Jewish synagogues, heralded the coming of the Christ, and by the Holy Spirit (d) addressed the Apostles of our Saviour saying, "Praise the Lord God in the congregations from the fountains of Israel." And the "fountains of Israel" must be the words delivered to Israel. "For they first trusted the oracles of God," whence it will be necessary for us to draw and water the churches of Christ. By "maidens playing on timbrels" he suggested the souls that lived of old by the more external Law of Moses, calling them "maidens" because of their youth and imperfectly developed minds, and "timbrel-players "because of their devotion to external worship.
(442) CHAPTER 10
Of the Reading from the Prophecy by Our Lord in the Jewish Synagogue.
[Passage quoted, Isa. lxi. 1.]
Now this prediction our Lord Himself claims to be fulfilled in Himself, when He came to Nazareth, where He was brought up: |173
"He entered, as his custom was on the Sabbath day, into the synagogue, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon (c) me, because he hath anointed me, to preach the gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and giving of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened upon him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears."
Our Lord and Saviour is clearly shewn in this passage to (d) have been anointed with another and a better unction than the priests of old days, who were externally anointed, not with oil manufactured, nor by men, as were those others, but with the Divine Spirit of His God and Father, whereby as sharing in His unbegotten Godhead He is called God and Lord by the Holy Scriptures.
And in harmony with the prophecy before us He is introduced by Matthew preaching the Gospel to the poor when—
"Seeing the multitudes he went up into a mountain, and when he had sat down, his disciples came unto him, and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
And it is recorded that He gave sight to many that were (443) blind, not only enlightening them that were deprived of bodily vision, but also causing them that were before blind in soul to receive spiritual vision and the knowledge of God. And, moreover, He preached freedom and release from their bonds to the prisoners bound and constrained by the unseen daemonic powers, and hampered by the chains of sin, if they, too, would believe His preaching, and run to Him as their Ransom and Saviour, and trust His promises.
The remainder of this oracle I will expound in its place (b) in the section concerning the promises.3 |174
(c) Of the Lawgiving according to the Gospel of Christ.
[Passage quoted, Deut. xviii. 15-19.]
IT must be noticed that no prophet like Moses has ever arisen among the Hebrews, who was a lawgiver and a teacher of religion to men, except our Saviour, the Christ of God. Therefore at the end of Deuteronomy it is said: "There has not arisen a prophet in Israel like unto Moses," though, of course, many prophets succeeded him, but none were like him. And the promise of God recognizes the whole future, that one only, and not many, should arise and be like him. And it implies that he will be a lawgiver and a teacher of religion to men, such as none but our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has been proved to be, being lawgiver and prophet of the God of the Universe (444) His Father at the same time.
But Moses was leader of but one nation, and his legislation has been proved to be only applicable to that one nation; whereas the Christ of God, receiving the promise from His Father, "Desire of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance," as being established by His (b) Father the Giver of the new law of holiness not to the Jews only, but to the whole human race, in calling all nations set before them a legislation that they could obey and that suited them. Thus by a diviner power than that of Moses He ordained through all the world His holy laws by His evangelists, legislating with more than human authority, saying, "Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill: but I say unto you that ye must not be angry without a cause," and that which follows this saying, as it is preserved in His written teaching, with regard to which the Evangelist says, "They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes."
As I have treated of the manner of our Saviour's teaching and legislation in the beginning of this work, when I |175 explained what Christianity is, I will now refer my readers to that exposition. But it is worthy of notice why the Lord promises that a prophet shall arise. For when He had commanded Moses to sanctify the whole people for three days, that they might see and hear His Divine Appearing, and they were too weak for the favour of God: wherefore when they were at the beginning of the vision they refused and said to Moses: "Speak thou to us, and let not God speak to us, that we die not," and the Lord, as was meet, was pleased by their caution, and says, "They have rightly spoken all that they have spoken. A prophet will I raise up to them from the midst of their brethren, like unto thee." Then it was that He gave the reason of His own future Coming to men like a prophet. It was man's weakness, and his refusal of the greater vision of the greater. You see, too, the reason why the prophet that was foretold should become Incarnate. And so it was natural for the Jews, who expected Him, to inquire of John the Baptist, and say, "Art thou the prophet? and he said, No." And John spoke the truth, he did not deny that he was a prophet, for he was, but he denied that he was the prophet meant by Moses, because he taught that he was sent before that prophet.
And since the Word predicted that the prophet would be raised up for them of the Circumcision, our Lord and Saviour, being Himself the One foretold, rightly said:
"I am not come but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." "And He commanded His apostles saying, Go not into the road of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel";
shewing clearly that He was primarily sent to them as the prophecy required. But when they would not receive His grace, He reproves them elsewhere, saying, "For I came, and there was no man, I called and there was none that heard." And He says to them, "The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bearing the fruits of it." And He bids His own disciples after their rejection, "Go ye and make disciples of all nations in my name.'' So, then, we that are the |176 Gentiles know and receive the prophet that was foretold, and sent by His Father, as being Lawgiver to all men of the religion of the God of the Universe, through His saving Gospel teaching, that other prediction being fulfilled at the same time which says, "Set, Lord, a Lawgiver over them, let the Gentiles know themselves to be men," while the Jewish nation, not receiving Him that was foretold, has paid the fit penalty according to the divine prediction which said, "And the man who will not hear all things whatsoever the prophet shall speak in My Name, I will exact vengeance on him." Surely He has avenged on that people all the blood poured out on the earth, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, yea, even to crown all to the Christ Himself, Whose blood they called down not only on themselves but on their children, and even now they pay the penalty of their presumptuous sin.
(446) CHAPTER 12
Of Christ walking on the Sea.
[Passage quoted, Job ix. 7.]
(b) THESE words also can only apply to our Lord and Saviour, as the Creator of the Universe, God's Word. For He is the only One ever said to have walked on the sea, which He did when Incarnate, having taken the body and form of man, when He—
"22. constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come he was there alone. 24. But the ship was now in the midst of the (c) sea. ... 26. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; |177 and they cried out for fear. 27. But straightway he spake unto them saying, Be of good cheer: It is I; be not afraid."
Now it would not appear to agree with orthodox theology to understand the oracle as referring to God Most High and the Father of the Universe. For what reverence or propriety is there in talking of the God of the Universe walking on the sea? How could He be thought to walk on the sea Who includes all things, and fills heaven and earth, and says, "The heaven is my throne and the earth my footstool?" And "I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?" But our Lord and Saviour "emptied himself and took the form of a slave, and being found in fashion as a man," offering a proof to His disciples of His Divine Power which eluded the multitude, is described as having walked on the waves of the sea, and to have rebuked the storm and the winds, when they who saw Him were astonished and said, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him? "And this was a symbol of something greater, that other spiritual sea, in which a dragon is said to have been made to be mocked by the angels of God, on which also our Lord and Saviour walked and is said to have crushed the head of the dragon (447) therein and of the other subject dragons, according to the words, "Thou hast bruised the heads of the dragons in the water, and thou hast bruised the heads of the dragon": clearly of another spiritual sea of which He says again in the Psalms, "I went into the depths of the sea." And recounting to Job the things concerning himself:
" Hast thou gone to the spring of the sea, and hast thou walked in the steps of the depth? The gates of (b) death did they open to thee in fear, and did the porters of Hades fear when they saw thee?"
Thus when He walked on the sea in our human life, and rebuked the winds and the waves, He performed a natural symbolism of something unspeakable. |178
Of the Miracles He Performed.
[Passage quoted, Isa. xxxv. 3.]
Now we have this prophecy fulfilled in the Gospels, partly, when they brought to our Lord and Saviour a paralytic lying on a bed, whom He made whole with a word; and partly, when many that were blind and possessed with (d) daemons, yea, labouring under various diseases and weaknesses, were released from their sufferings by His saving power. Nor should we forget how even now throughout the whole world multitudes bound by all forms of evil, full of ignorance of Almighty God in their souls, are healed and cured miraculously and beyond all argument by the medicine of His teaching. Except that now we call Him God as we should, as One Who can work thus, as I have already shewn in the evidence of His Divinity. Yea, surely (448) it is right now to acknowledge Him to be God, since He has given proof of power divine and truly inspired.
For it was specifically God's work to give strength to the paralysed, to give life to the dead, to supply health to the sick, to open the eyes of the blind, to restore the lame, and to make the tongue-tied speak plain, all of which things were done by our Saviour Jesus Christ, because He was God, and they have been witnessed to by many throughout (b) all the world that preach Him—whose evidence unvarnished and veritable is confirmed by trial of torture, and by persistence even unto death, which they have shewn forth before kings and rulers and all nations, witnessing to the truth of what they preach. And I think that the spirit of prophecy addresses to these apostles and evangelists the words that begin with, "Lift up the hands that hang down, and the palsied knees." For when they had grown weary (c) in their hands and powers of action, in their feet and walking with the long circuit of Mosaic observance, He awaked them to the life of the Gospel, and said, "Be strong, ye hands that hang down, and feeble knees," to |179 prepare them, that is to say, for the Gospel race. And be strong, too, to encourage others, and to urge them to cling to the salvation of the Gospel, ye that before were low in spirit, and let not any fear take you of them that oppose the Gospel preaching, but against them be strong and of a good courage.
For it is God and the Word of God, not one like Moses or the prophets, that was not only the Worker of the Miracles, but is also the Cause of your own strength. And the strongest confirmation of the Divine Power of the Saviour here foretold, by which He really used to cure the lame, the blind, the lepers and the palsied with a word according to that which is written concerning Him, is the power even now energizing through the whole world from His Godhead, by which is shewn to them that can see what He was while on earth, since after so many years His proclamation of the Word of God is seen to last on invincible and true, overcoming all that have attempted from the beginning until now to withstand His teaching; He attracts to Himself great multitudes from all the world, and releases them that come to Him from all kinds of evil and diseases and troubles of the spirit; He summons to His holy school all races, Greek and Barbarian; He leads countless hosts to the knowledge of the one true God, and to a healthy and pure life, as befits those who promise to worship Almighty God. And He our God, since He is the Word of God, it says, "Gives judgment and will give, He will come and save us." For, according to the Psalm which says, "Give the King thy judgment, O God," and, according to the Gospel teaching, in which it is said, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son," having received the authority to judge from the Father, judging in righteousness, He repays justly to the Jewish people the fit penalty for their presumptuous treatment of Him and His prophets, and ever saves in justice as well those who come to Him, whose spiritual ears and eyes He has opened. Wherefore the divine word calls the time of His Appearance the time of retribution, saying elsewhere, "Call on the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retribution." This was the time of retribution in which all |180 the blood poured out from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, yea, even to the precious Blood of Jesus, was required of the generation of them that had sinned against Him, so that from that time they underwent utter destruction and their final siege. And the judgment declared against them wrought this retribution; wherefore the prophecy says, "Behold our God exacts judgment, and will repay." And the judgment on them that shall be saved by Him is foretold next in the words, "He will come and save us; then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf hear," and that which follows. And another prophecy also promises that the Christ will bring this saving (450) judgment, saying:
"Behold my Son, I will succour him, my chosen, my Spirit hath accepted him, he shall bear judgment to the nations."
Wherefore it is also said concerning the Word of the new covenant:
"For out of Zion shall come forth a law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and he shall judge in the midst of the nations."
For there is little doubt that He effects the calling of them that turn to Him with divine justice and ineffable counsels. And, moreover, as teaching us of the divine judgment, and instructing us always to act as under judgment, He is said "to bear judgment to the nations."
From the same.
Of the Signs and Wonders which He worked.
[Passage quoted, Isa. viii. 16-20 a.]
IN the Epistle to the Hebrews, the apostle, quoting the (d) above passage, "Behold, I and the children which God has given me," expounds it of the Christ, saying, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, |181 he also himself took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death."
And here the prophet calls God's children the Apostles, through whom he teaches that the Lord of Sabaoth, Who dwells in Mount Zion, will do signs and wonders in the house of Jacob, and that they will be manifest if sealed, as is our custom, with the seal of Christ on their foreheads, and taught no more to learn the Law of Moses, since it stands no longer, and since that which is called the house of Jacob is deserted by God.
This is rendered obscurely in the Septuagint:
"Then they shall be manifest who seal up the law, so (451) as not to learn. And he will say, I await God, who turns his face away from the house of Jacob, and I will trust in him."
Symmachus translates more clearly, thus:
"Bind the testimony, seal the law in my ordinances. And I will expect the Lord that hides his face from the house of Jacob, and I will await him."
And Aquila also translates in this way:
"Bind up the witness, seal the law in my teachings. And I will expect God that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will await him."
This, then, the apostles of our Saviour are taught to do. (b) And He proceeds to say to them:
"Behold, I and the children, which God has given me. And they shall be for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of Sabaoth who dwells in Mount Sion."
And the Lord of Sabaoth, the Word of God dwelling in the Humanity He has taken, and sojourning in Mount Zion, working signs and wonders, commands both His disciples and all those that believe on Him, sprung from all those who before were idolaters, to fear idolatrous error no longer: (c) therefore if idolaters of the Gentiles would sap their foundations and induce them to inquire of pythons and the daemon oracles, as if they were equal to the prophetic inspiration of inspired and godly men, they ought to answer and say, "Wherefore do they inquire of the dead concerning the living? For he has given a law for succour," and the |182 rest of the passage. For they that have once taken the law and the commandments of salvation for succour and help (d) in their individual life have little need to trouble themselves about the prophecy that springs from daemonic deceit.
From the same.
Concerning Christs Reticence about His Miracles. (452)
[Passage quoted, Isa. xlii. 1-7.]
THE Evangelist alludes to this passage, when the Pharisees went out and took counsel against our Saviour to put Him (c) to death, when He healed the sick on the Sabbath day. But Jesus, knowing, as He says, this conspiracy against Him, departed thence, and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all, and He straitly charged them that they should not make Him known. And lie adds to this the words, "All this was done" (that is to say His departure, and His yielding to those that plotted, and His effort to escape notice in the miracles that He did, and His pledging those that were healed not to make Him known), in order that what was said by the prophet might be fulfilled, when He said:
"Behold, my son, in whom I am well pleased, my beloved in whom my soul delighteth; I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall bear forth judgment to the Gentiles; he shall not strive nor cry, neither shall his (d) voice be heard in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, until he bring forth judgment to victory, and on his name shall the Gentiles trust."
Notice carefully how Matthew, when he says, "Behold my son, in whom I am well pleased, my beloved in whom my soul delighteth," mentions neither Jacob nor Israel. He does not say, "Jacob my son and Israel my beloved," but simply "Behold, my son and my beloved." Hence the |183 names of Jacob and Israel are obelized in the Septuagint, as if the prophecy were not in the Hebrew. And it is silently omitted by the other translators, as it is not found in the Hebrew. And thus it is not inserted by the Evangelist, (453) who was a Hebrew, and followed the Hebrew text in his quotation. Therefore the prophecy does not apply either actually or figuratively to the Jews, but only to the Christ of God, to Whom the clear evidence and the results bear witness. For He alone prophesied the future judgment to the Gentiles, quietly sojourning in human life, and setting judgment on the earth. And not only did He not break the bruised (b) reed, but so to say bound it up, setting up and strengthening the weak and the bruised in heart. And just as He did not neglect the sick and corrupt, who needed His medicine, nor bruise the repentant with hard judgment, so He did not quench them that continued in evil, and were smoking under the fire of passion, by preventing their following their own choice, nor did He punish any of (c) them before the time, reserving the time of their due chastisement for the general Judgment: therefore it is said, "And the smoking flax He shall not quench."
The words, "And in his name shall the Gentiles trust," have also been exactly fulfilled. For the nations of Christians trust only in the Name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and are marked with His Name as that of the Father of the religion with which they are associated. For it was foretold that He should be given for a Light to none but the Gentiles. And by Him in accordance with the prediction, the eyes of the blind—those that had long been impaired in understanding, and not only of these but of (d) those who had lost their very bodies, and those who before were involved, bound and chained in sin, in darkness and ignorance of true religion, by Him freed from their sins— were accounted worthy of the light of knowledge and of the freedom of God. And if you at your leisure test the rest of the passage, as I have so far done, you will find each one of its predictions fulfilled in our Lord and Saviour, and in Him alone. |184
(454) From the same.
Of the Disbelief of the Jewish People in Him.
[Passages quoted, Isa. vi. i; 8-10.]
THIS, too, is fulfilled in our Saviour, according to John, when he says:
"37. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38. That the (c) saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" 39. Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40. He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him."
Or according to Matthew:
"10. And the disciples came and said to him, Why (d) speaketh thou unto them in parables? 11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given ... 13. Therefore speak I unto them in parables, because they seeing see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand . . . 15. lest they should be converted, and I should heal them."
Then was fulfilled in them the prophecy of Isaiah which said, "Go and say to this people, Hearing ye shall hear, and not understand," and that which follows. Notice how S. John proceeds saying, "These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him." As the prophet had seen the Christ and the glory of Christ in the vision in (455) which he said, "I saw the Lord of Sabaoth sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up," and that which follows. And who would not be struck by the prophecy, seeing so clearly |185 even now the unbelief of the Jews? Even so of old, when they saw Him Incarnate and working miracles among them, they did not behold Him with the eyes of their soul and with understanding vision, nor had they any vision of spiritual inspiration, so as to understand what power it was that worked so wondrously and so prodigally among them. Yes, they who were counted worthy to receive with (b) their eyes the words of eternal life, and listened to the voice of divine wisdom, did not hear with the ears of their understanding, and so made themselves an evident fulfilment of the prophecy. And even until now, though the power of Christ, by which every race of mankind, divorced from its ancestral superstition, is being led to the Christian religion, is so obvious to them, yet they do not regard it with their understanding, nor consider that what neither Moses nor his successors among the prophets achieved has been brought to pass by these alone, namely, to give up idolatry and pay no heed to polytheistic error, which has (c) been accomplished among all nations by the power of our Saviour. And so when they read the witness of the prophets concerning Him, they hear with their ears and do not understand, and the prophecy before us is literally even now fulfilled against them.
How it is foretold that He should ride into Jerusalem on a Colt.
[Passage quoted, Zech. ix. 9, 10]
As Zechariah prophesied thus after the Return from Babylon towards the conclusion of prophecy, there is no record of a Jewish king, such as the prophecy predicts, (456) except our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in Whom this prediction was fulfilled, when He literally said to His disciples:
"Go ye into the village over against you, and ye shall find an ass tied and a colt with her; loose them |186 (b) and bring them unto me. And if any man say, What do ye? ye shall say to him, The Lord hath need of them. And they went and did as he commanded them."
Such, then, was the prophecy and such the fulfilment. But what was His riding on an ass meant to shew forth but the lowly and humble manner which marked His first Coming? For the second Coming shall be glorious, that of which Daniel speaks unfolding and revealing his vision:
"9. I saw until the thrones were set, and the Ancient (c) of Days did sit. Thousand thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. 13. And, behold, one as a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came even to the Ancient of Days, 14. and there was given to him rule and honour and a kingdom, and all peoples, tribes, and tongues serve him. His power is an everlasting power, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed."
(d) But the first Coming of His Incarnation and humiliation has this great symbol and sign among others, the prophecy that He should be called meek and gentle, and that He should come sitting upon an ass. For this is a proof of His sharing our humanity. Whereas the glory of His second divine Coming is shewn by His being borne on the clouds of heaven, and His eternal rule over all nations. And it is reasonable to quote them both to the Jews, and to ask them to explain how they can save the credit of the prophecies, if they confine them to a reference to a single Coming of Christ: for if they both refer to Christ, as they agree, they are bound to tell us when we ask them, how it is possible for the same person at the same coming to be (457) borne upon the clouds of heaven, and also to ride on an ass and a young colt: for these two things are very different. And if you collect the many similar prophecies concerning Christ, and compare their differences side by side, you will decide that some of them refer to His first Coming, being fulfilled at His first Epiphany, while others apply to His second Coming in glory.
For He utterly destroyed by His Divine Power the chariots and horses and weapons of war at His first Coming from |187 the material Jerusalem and the people of Ephraim: (b) where-fore from that day to this their kingdom has never existed, nor their ancient powerful military array or warlike power. And all the Jewish people are here well called Ephraim, not Israel or Judah, so as not to bring into dishonour names of more dignity. And you will find that other prophets call the whole people Ephraim, when charging and accusing them of great crimes, as here. For after the return from (c) Babylon, when the former division of the people had ceased, who are more likely to be meant by Ephraim than the actual inhabitants of Jerusalem? And it was their warlike and military power, that had lasted until Roman times, that our Saviour's Coming destroyed with divine secret power, as the prophecy foretold.
The oracle also calls here on the Church of the Gentiles, not simply to rejoice, But to rejoice greatly, in its message of good news, because of the coming of the Word of God (d) to her; and it calls her the daughter of the heavenly Zion and of the former congregation, because all we that are Gentiles, who believe in Christ, are the offspring and children of Christ and His Apostles, as they whose mother is the Jewish synagogue: and that which follows was also fulfilled at our Saviour's Coming. For unexampled peace has filled all nations from the time of His coming: no longer do states war with states as before, nor nations contend with nations, nor is human life as of old in a state of constant disturbance; Athenians do not attack (458) Lacedaemonians, Syrians Phoenicians, Arabians the inhabitants of Palestine, nor the Egyptians their neighbours. All have been united from that time by God's help, and it is true that there has been "abundance of peace" among the nations from that day to this, according to the prophecy. Jesus alone, and the word of Gospel teaching preached by Him, have ruled men from sea to sea, from the east to the setting sun. and from the rivers to the bounds of the earth, (b) as the prophecy foretold.
Aquila's rendering of this is as follows:
"He shall speak peace among the nations, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the ends of the earth." |188
Compare with this what occurs in the Psalm, inscribed "To Solomon, of the King's Son," that is to say, of Him that will spring from Solomon's seed, of Whom the Psalm (c) says, "And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the ends of the world." And the same Psalm refers to the peace here described, when it says, "In his days righteousness shall arise, and abundance of peace." Isaiah, too, agrees with this when he says, "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their lances into (d) pruning-hooks; nation shall not take up sword against nation, and they shall not learn war any more." You will find Micah in agreement with this, and many other prophets. And if you note, as I said, the dates, you will be able to appreciate that from the time of Augustus, and of the Epiphany of our Saviour that shone forth in his day, during the period of the Roman Empire the old dissensions and varieties of national government have ceased, and thus from that date the peace of the prophecy began. Just as it then began, a day will come when the prophecy will be fulfilled in all its fullness, when, as the apostle says, "the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in."
From Psalm cxvii.
Of the Cry, Hosanna to the Son of David.
[Passage quoted, Ps. cxvii. 22-27.]
WHEN our Saviour Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem, riding on an ass according to the previous prophecy, He fulfilled the prediction of Zechariah, for as the Holy Evangelist tells us, the crowds that went before and followed Him cried, saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest." (c) And when He entered Jerusalem, "All the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitudes said, This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee." As, therefore, Hosanna is said in the Psalm we are considering, which is translated "Save us now," and the Hebrew has "Lord, save |189 us," and the words, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," are taken from the same Psalm, and these words can only refer to the Christ of God, we naturally apply the rest of the prediction to Him. For He is blessed, (d) Who is named by another prophet, "He that cometh," in the passage, "Yet a little while, and he that cometh will come, and will not tarry," Who also came in the Name of the Lord God His Father. And He is the Lord God that appeared for us. For He insists that He has come in the Name of His Father when He says to the Jews, "I have come in my Father's Name, and ye receive me not. If another come in his own name, him ye will receive." He, then, that appeared for us, the Lord God, the Blessed, He that cometh in the Name of the Lord, was also the stone, (460) which they who of old built up the people on the foundation of the Mosaic teaching, set at naught, and which, set at naught by them, is become the head of the corner of the Church of the Gentiles, which the oracle says is wonderful, not to all that look on it, but only to the eyes of prophets, when it says, "And it is wonderful in our eyes."
And it calls His Epiphany also "the day which the Lord hath made," for He was the true Light, and the Sun of Righteousness, and the Day of God, in which we may also (b) say, "This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."
Now that this part is thus concluded, I will proceed to consider the prophecies concerning the Passion.
[A few of the footnotes have been renumbered and placed here]
1. 3 Cf.: Euseb., H.E. I. 11.
2. 4 Jos., Ant. XVIII. 5. 2.
3. 1 A section in one of the lost books.
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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