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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
the special title of the Saviour promised to the world through the Jewish race. We have space for the discussion of a few points only ofthis extensive theme, and we here treat especially those points not particularly discussed under other heads. (See REDEEMER).
I. Official Import of the Name. — The Hebrew word מָשַׁיחִ, Mashi'ach, is in every instance of its use (thirty-nine times) rendered in the Sept. by the suitable term Χριστός, which becomes so illustrious in the N.T. as the official designation of the Holy Saviour. It is a verbal noun (see Simonis Arcanum Form. Hebr. Ling. p. 92 sq.), derived from מָשִׁח, and has much the same meaning as the participle מָשׁוּח (2 Samuel 3:39, and occasionally in the Pentateuch), i.e. Anointed. The prevalent and all but universal (Isaiah 21:5 and Jeremiah 22:14 being perhaps the sole exceptions) sense of the root מָשִׁח points to the consecration of objects to sacred purposes by means of anointing-oil. Inanimate objects (such as the tabernacle, altar, laver, etc.) are included under the use of the verb; but the noun מָשַׁיחִ is applied only to animate objects. There is, however, some doubt as to 2 Samuel 1:21, — מָגֵן שָׁאוּל בְּלַי מָשַׁיחִ בִּשֶּׁמֶן -wb ere, according to some (Maurer, Gesenius, Furst; see also Corn. h Lapide, ad loc.), the phrase, "not anointed with oil," is applied to the shield (comp. Isaiah 21:5). The majority of commentators refer it to Saul, " as if he had not been anointed with oil." So the A. V., which seems to follow the Vulgate. This version, however (quasi non esset unctus oleo), is really as inexplicit as the original, admitting the application of " anointed" to either the king or his shield. This double sense is avoided by the Septuagint (θυρεὸς Σαοὺλ οὐχ ἐχρίαθη ἐν ἐλαίῳ), which assigns the anointing, as an epithet, to the shield. The Targum of Jonathan refers the מָשַׁיחִ to Saul, but drops the negative. To us the unvarying use of the word, as a human epithet, in all the other (thirty-eight) passages, two of them occurring in the very context of the disputed place (2 Samuel 1:14; 2 Samuel 1:16), settles the point in favor of our A. V., as if the king had fallen on the fatal field of Gilboa like one of the common soldiers, "not as one who had been anointed with oil." (See ANOINTING).
The official persons (" the Christs of the O.T. Perowle, Coherence of O.T. and N. T) who were consecrated with oil were priests (Exodus 28:41; Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:5; Leviticus 4:16; Numbers 35:3-5), kings (1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 16:3; 2 Samuel 12:7; 1 Kings 1:34), and prophets (1 Kings 19:16). The great Antitype, the Christ of the N.T., embraced and exhausted in himself these several offices, which, in fact, were shadows of his threefold functions as the Prophet, Priest, and King of his people. It is the preeminence which this combination of anointed offices gave him that seems to be pointed at in Psalms 45:8, where the great Messiah is anointed "above ‘ his fellows;" above the Christs of old, whether of only one function, as the priest Aaron, or the prophet Elisha, or the king Saul; or of two functions, as Melchizedek the priest and king, or Moses the priest and prophet, or David the king and prophet. In our Saviour Christ is uniquely found the triple comprehension, the recapitulation in himself of the three offices (see Eusebius, Hist. Ecclesiastes 1:3, vol. i, p. 24, by Burton [Oxon. 1848]). But not only were the ancient offices typical, the material of consecration had also its antitype in the Holy Ghost (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. Ilium. 10:99; Catech,. Neoo. p. 202, 203; Basil, contra Eunom. v; Chrysostom on Psalms 45; Theodoret, Epit. divin. Decret. xi, p. 279; Theophylact on Matthew 1; (Ecumenius on Romans i, etc.). The prophecy of Isaiah 11:1 The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, because Jehovah hath anointed me") was expressly claimed by Jesus for fulfilment in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21) on his return to Galilee "in the power of the Spirit" (Luke 4:14), which he had plenarily received at his recent baptism (Luke 4:1), and by which he was subsequently led into the wilderness (Luke 4:1).
This anointing of our Lord to his Messianic functions is referred to in a general sense in such passages as Isaiah 11:2 and Acts 10:38. But from the more specific statement of Peter (Acts 2:36), it would appear that it was not before his resurrection and consequent ascension that Christ was fully inducted into his Messianic dignities. "He was anointed to his prophetical office at his baptism; but thereby rather initiated to be, than actually made Christ and Lord. Unto these two offices of everlasting Priest and everlasting King he was not actually anointed, or fully consecrated, until his resurrection from the dead" (dean Jackson, Works, 7:368). As often as the evangelists style him Christ before his resurrection from the dead, it is by way of anticipation (ibid. p. 296). On this point, indeed, the grammatical note of Gersdorf (Sprachchar. 1:39, 272), as quoted by Winer (Gramn. des N.T. sprachid.ὁ Χριστός [the expected Messiah, like ὁ ἐρχόμενος ], while Paul and Peter employ Χριστός, as the appellation had become more of a proper name. In the epistles of Paul and Peter, however, the word has the article when a governing noun precedes" (for extremely elaborate tables, containing every combination of the sacred names of Christ in the N.T., the reader is referred to the last edition of bishop Middleton's Doctrine of the Greek Article, by H. J. Rose, BD., App. ii, p. 486-496). Twice only in the N.T. does the Hebrew form of it (Messias) occur, in John 1:41; John 4:25; and twice only in the O.T. have our translators retained the same form (Messiah), in Daniel 9:25-26. In these passages, both in the Greek of the evangelist [Μεσσίας, or (as Griesbach preferred to read) Μεσίας , more closely like the original] and in the Hebrew of the prophet [מָשַׁיח ], there is an absence of the article-the word having, in fact, grown out of its appellative state, which so often occurs in the earlier books, into a proper name; thus resembling the course of the Χριστός of the Christian Scriptures. (See CHRIST).
II. The gradual Growth of the Messianic Revelation.
1. First or Patriarchal Period.
(1.) In the primeval promise (Genesis 3:15) lies the germ of a universal blessing. The tempter came to the woman in the guise of a serpent, and the curse thus pronounced has a reference both to the serpent which was the instrument, and to the tempter that employed it; to the natural terror and enmity of man against the serpent, and to the conflict between mankind redeemed by Christ its Head, and Satan ‘ that deceived mankind. Many interpreters would understand by the seed of the woman the Messiah only; but it is easier to think with Calvin that mankind after they are gathered into one army by Jesus the Christ, the Head of the Church, are to achieve a victory over evil. The Messianic character of this prophecy has been much questioned by those who see. in the history of the fall nothing but a fable: to those who accept it as true, this passage is the primitive germ of thei Gospel. "The seed of the woman," the vagueness and obscurity of which phrase was so suited to the period of the protevangelium, is cleared in the light of the NT. (see Galatians 4:4, where the γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός explains the original זִרְעָהּ ). The deliverance intimated was no doubt understood by our first parents to be universal, like the injury sustained, and it is no absurdity to suppose that the promise was cherished afterwards by thoughtful Gentiles as well as believing Jews; but to the latter it was subsequently shaped into increasing precision by supplementary revelation's, while to the former it never lost its formal vagueneess and obscurity. The O.T. gives us occasional gleams of the glorious primeval light as it struggled with the gross traditions of the heathen. The nearer to Israel the clearer the light; as in the cases of the Abimelechs (Genesis 20:6; Genesis 26:28), and Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18), and Job (Job 19:25), and Balaam (Numbers 24:17), and the magi (Matthew 2), and the Samaritan woman (John 4:25; and see, on the Christology of the Samaritans, Westcott's Introduction, p. 148, 149). But even at a distance from Israel the light still flickered to the last, as "the unconscious prophecies of heathendom" show, as archbishop Trench happily designates-though in a somewhat different sense-the yearnings of the Gentiles after a deliverer (Hulsean Lectures for 1846; see also bishop Horsley's Dissert. on the Messianic Prophecies dispersed among the Heathen, in Sermons, ed. 1829, 2:263-318; and comp. Virgil's well-known eclogue Pollio, and the expectations mentioned by Suetonius, Vit. Vespasian. 4:8,- and Tacitus, Hist. v. 9, 13, and the Sibylline oracles, discussed by Horsley [ut sup.], with a strong leaning to their authenticity). See below, § 4:1 (3). But although the promise was absolutely indefinite to the first father of man (on which see bishop Horsley, Sermon xvi, p. 234, 235, comp. with Faber's Prophetical Dissert. 7:4 and 5), additional light was given, after the deluge, to the second father of the human race.
(2.) To Noah was vouchsafed a special reservation of blessing for one of his sons in preference to the other two, and-as if words failed him-he exclaimed, "Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem!" (Genesis 9:26). Not that at any time God meant to confine a monopoly of blessing to the individual selected as the special depositary thereof. In the present instance Japheth, in the next verse, is associated with his brother for at least some secondary advantage: " God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem." Instead of blessing Shem, as he had cursed Canaan, he carries up the blessing to the great fountain of the blessings that were to follow Shem.
(3.) The principle of limitation goes on. One of Shem's descendants has three sons. Only one of these is selected as the peculiar treasurer of the divine favor. But not for himself alone was Abraham chosen. As in Shem's instance, so here again Abraham was to be the centre of blessing to even a larger scope. More than once was he assured of this: "In thy seed [" in thee," 12:3] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 22:18). The Messianic purport of this repeated promise cannot be doubted after Christ's own statement (John 8:56) and Paul's comment (Galatians 3:16). The promise is still indefinite, but it tends to the undoing of the curse of Adam by a blessing to ‘ all the earth through the seed of Abraham, as death had come on the whole earth through Adam. When our Lord says "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56), we are to understand that this promise of a real blessing and restoration to come hereafter was understood in a spiritual sense, as a leading back to God, as a coming nearer to him, from whom the promise came; and he desired with hope and rejoicing ("gestivit cum desiderio," Bengel) to behold the day of it.
(4.) In Abraham's son-the father of twin sons we meet with another limitation; Jacob not only secures the traditional blessing to himself, but is inspired to concentrate it at his death on Judah, to the exclusion of the eleven other members of his family. "Judah, thou art he whom thy brothers praise... The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come" (Genesis 49:8; Genesis 49:10; see Perowne's Essay, p. 26,188; Delitzsch, ad loc.; bishop Pearson, Creed, art. ii; Hengstenberg, Christol. 1:59, 60; Davison, On Prophecy, p. 106; Dollinger, Gentile and Jew in the Courts of the Temple of Christ, translated by Darnell, 2:392. Onkelos and Raschi, it may be worth while to add, make Shiloh here to refer to the Messiah, as do D. Kimchi and Abendana). To us the Messianic interpretation of the passage seems to be called for by the principle of periodical limitation, which amounts to a law in the Christological Scriptures. We accept the conclusion, therefore, that the שַׁילֹה of this verse is the : שִׂראּשָׁלוֹם, " Prince of Peace," of Isaiah 9:5 ; and the זֶה שָׁלוֹם, " This man is peace," of Micah 5:4; and the
דַבֶּר שָׁלוֹם, "the peace-speaker," of Zechariah 9:10.; and the Εἰρήνη ἡμῶν , "our peace," of Paul, Ephesians 2:14 in a word, our Messiah, Jesus Christ. This, then, is the first case in which the promises distinctly centre in one person; and he is to be the man of peace; he is to wield and retain the government, and the nations shall look up to him and obey him. (See SHILOH).
2. Mosaic Period.
(1.) The next passage usually quoted is the prophecy of Balaam (Numbers 24:17-19). The star points indeed to the glory, as the sceptre denotes the power, of a king. Onkelos and Jonathan (pseudo) see here the Messiah. But it is doubtful whether the prophecy is not fulfilled in David (2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 8:14); and though David is himself a type of Christ, the direct Messianic application of this place is by no means certain.
(2.) The prophecy of Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18)," I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him," claims attention. Does this refer to the Messiah? The reference to Moses in John 5:45-47 He wrote of me seems to point to this passage; for it is a cold and forced interpretation to refer it to the whole types and symbols of the Mosaic law. On the other hand, many critics would fain find here the divine institution of the whole prophetic order, which, if not here, does not occur at all. Hengstenberg thinks that it does promise that an order of prophets should be sent, but that the singular is used with direct reference to the greatest of the prophets, Christ himself, without whom the words would not have been fulfilled. "The spirit of Christ spoke in the prophets, and Christ is in a sense the only prophet" (1 Peter 1:11). Jews in earlier times might have been excused for referring the words to this or that present prophet; but the Jews whom the Lord rebukes (John 5) were inexcusable; for, having the words before them, and the works of Christ as well, they should have known that no prophet had so fulfilled the words as he had.
(3.) The passages in the Pentateuch which relate to "the Angel of the Lord" have been thought by many to bear reference to the Messiah.
3. Period of David.-Here another advance is found in prophetic limitation. Jacob had only specified the tribe, now the particular family is indicated from which Messiah was to spring. From the great promise made to David (2 Samuel 7:11-16), and so frequently referred to afterwards (1 Kings 11:34; 1 Kings 11:38; Psalms 89:30-37; Isaiah 55:3; Acts 13:34), and described by the sweet psalmist of Israel himself as "an everlasting covenant ordered in all things, and sure" (2 Samuel 23:5), arose that concentrated expectation of the Messiah expressed by the popular phrase Son of David, of which we hear so much in the N.T. (comp. Matthew 9:27; Matthew 12:23; Matthew 21:9; Matthew 22:42; Mark 10:47-48; Mark 11:10; Luke 1:32; Luke 18:38-39; John 7:42; Romans 1:3; Revelation 22:16; with Jeremiah 23:5).
In the promises of a kingdom to David and his house "forever" (2 Samuel 7:13), there is more than could be fulfilled save by the eternal kingdom in which that of David merged; and David's last words dwell on this promise of an everlasting throne (2 Samuel 23). Passages in the Psalms are numerous which are applied to the Messiah in the N.T. such are Psalms 2, 16, 22, 40, 110. Other psalms quoted in the N.T. appear to refer to the actual history of another king; but only those who deny the existence of types and prophecy will consider this as an evidence against an ulterior allusion to Messiah; such psalms are 45, 68, 69, 72. The advance in clearness in this period is great. The name of Anointed, i.e. King, comes in, and the Messiah is to come of the lineage of David. He is described in his exaltation, with his great kingdom that shall be spiritual rather than temporal (Psalms 2, 21, 40, 110). In other places he is seen in suffering and humiliation (Psalms 22, 16, 40).
Having now confined the Messiah's descent to the family of the illustrious king who was "the man after God's own heart," prophecy will await God's own express identification of the individual (see it given in Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5; Mark 1:11; Mark 9:7; Luke 3:22; Luke 9:35; and referred to in 2 Peter 1:17). But it will not idly wait. It has other particulars to announce, to give point and precision to a nation's hopes.
4. Period of Prophetism. — After the time of David the predictions of the Messiah ceased for a time, until those prophets arose whose works we possess in the canon of Scripture. They nowhere give us an exact and complete account of the nature of the Messiah; but different aspects of the truth are produced by the various needs of the people, and so they are led to speak of him now as a Conqueror, or a Judge, or a Redeemer from sin; it is from the study of the whole of them that we gain a clear and complete image of his person and kingdom. This third period lasts from the reign of Uzziah to the Babylonian captivity. The Messiah is a King and Ruler of David's home, who shall come to reform and restore the Jewish nation and purify the Church, as in Isaiah 11, 40-66. The blessings of the restoration, however, will not be confined to Jews; the heathen are made to share them fully (Isaiah 2, 66). Whatever theories have been attempted about Isaiah 53, there can be no doubt that the most natural is the received interpretation that it refers to the suffering Redeemer; and so in the N.T. it is always considered to do. The passage of Micah 5:2 (comp. Matthew 2:6) left no doubt in the mind of the Sanhedrim as to the birthplace of the Messiah. The lineage of David is again alluded to in Zechariah 12:10-14. The time of the second Temple is fixed by Haggai 2:9 for Messiah's coming; and the coming of the Forerunner and of the Anointed is clearly revealed in Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:5-6.
All the more important events of the coming Redeemer's life and death, and subsequent kingdom and exaltation, were foretold. Bethlehem was to be his birthplace (Micah 5:2; comp. with Matthew 2:1-6); Galilee his country (Isaiah 9:1-2; comp. with Matthew 4:14-16); a virgin his mother (Isaiah 7:14; comp. with Matthew 1:23); he was to preach glad tidings to the meek and to bind up the broken-hearted (Isaiah 61:1; comp. with Luke 4:17-21); though her king, he was to come to the daughter of Zion, just and having salvation, lowly and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass (Zechariah 9:9; comp. with John 12:14-15); he was to be despised and rejected of men; was to be led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:3; Isaiah 53:7; comp. with Psalms 22:6; John 1:11; John 18:40; Mark 14:61; Mark 15:5); his garments were to be parted, and lots cast upon his vesture (Psalms 22:18; comp. with John 19:23-24); his hands and feet were to be pierced (Psalms 22:16; comp. with Luke 23:33, and John 20:25); he was to have vinegar give in to him to drink (Psalms 69:21; comp. with Matthew 27:34; Matthew 27:38); he was to pour out his soul unto death; was to be numbered with the transgressors; and his grave, though intended to be with wicked men (see this translation in Mason and Bernard's Hebr. Gram. 2:305), was in reality destined to be with a rich man (Isaiah 53:9; comp. with Matthew 27:57-58); his soul was not to be left in hell, nor his flesh to see corruption (Psalms 16:10; comp. with Acts 2:31; Acts 13:34-36); he was to sit on the right hand of Jehovah till his foes were made his footstool (Psalms 110:1; comp. with 1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 1:3; Mark 16:19, and 1 Corinthians 15:25) his kingdom was to spread until ultimately "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, should be given to the saints of the Most High" (Daniel 7:27; see Perowne, Coherence, p. 29, 30). Slight as is this sketch of the prophetic announcements with which God was pleased to sustain human hope amid human misery, "as a light that shineth in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19), "shining more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18), it is yet enough to suggest to us how great must have been the longing for their Deliverer which such persistent and progressive promises were likely to excite in the hearts of faithful men and women.
The expectation of a golden age that should return upon the earth was,, as we have seen, common in heathen nations (Hesiod, Works and Days, p. 109; Ovid, Met. 1:89; Virgil, Ecl. iv; and passages in Eusebius, Prcep. Ev. 1:7; 12:13). It was doubtless inspired by some light that had reached them from the Jewish revelation. This hope the Jews also shared, but with them it was associated with the coming of a particular person, the Messiah. It has been asserted that in him the Jews looked for an earthly king, and that the existence of the hope of a Messiah may thus be accounted for on natural grounds and without a divine revelation. But the prophecies refute this: they hold out not a King only, but a Prophet and a Priest, whose business it should be to set the people free from sin, and to teach them the ways of God, as in Psalms 22, 40, 110; Isaiah 2, 11, 53, In these and other places, too, the power of the coming One reaches beyond the Jews and embraces all the Gentiles, which is contrary to the exclusive notions of Judaism. A fair consideration of all the passages will convince us that the growth of the Messianic idea in the prophecies is owing to revelation from God. The witness of the N.T. to the O.T. prophecies can bear no other meaning; it is summed up in the above-cited words of Peter (2 Peter 1:19-21; comp. the elaborate essay on this text in Knapp's Opuscula, vol. i). Our Lord affirms that there are prophecies of the Messiah in the O.T., and that they are fulfilled in him (Matthew 26:54; Mark 9:12; Luke 18:31-33; Luke 22:37; Luke 24:27; John 5:39; John 5:46). The apostles preach the same truth in Acts 2:16; Acts 2:25; Acts 8:28-35; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:23; Acts 13:32; Acts 26:22-23; 1 Peter 1:11, and in many passages of Paul. Even if internal evidence did not prove that the prophecies were much more than vague longings after better times, the N.T. proclaims everywhere that although the Gospel was the sun, and O.-T. prophecy the dim light of a candle, yet both were light, and both assisted those who heeded them to see aright; and that the prophets interpreted, not the private longings of their own hearts, but the will of God, in speaking as they did (see Knapp's Essay for this explanation) of the coming kingdom.
5. The period after the close of the canon of the O.T. is known to us in a great measure from allusions in the N.T. to the expectation of the Jews. From such passages as Psalms 2:2; Psalms 2:6, ‘8; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Zechariah 9:9, the Pharisees, and those of the Jews who expected the Messiah at all, looked for a temporal prince only. The apostles themselves were infected with this opinion till after the resurrection (Matthew 20:20-21; Luke 24:21; Acts 1:6). Gleams of a purer faith appear (Luke 2:30; Luke 23:42; John 4:25). On the other hand, there was a sceptical school which had discarded the expectation altogether. No mention of the Messiah appears in the Book of Wisdom, nor in the writings of Philo; and Josephus avoids the doctrine. Intercourse with heathens had made some Jews ashamed of their fathers' faith.
It is quite consistent with the prospects which, as we have seen, the prophecies were calculated to raise, that we are informed by Luke of the existence of what seems to have been a considerable number of persons "that looked for redemption in Israel" (Luke 2:38). The demeanor of these believers was exhibited in a close and conscientious adherence to the law of Moses, which was, in its statutes and ordinances, at once the rule of pious life and the schoolmaster to guide men to their Messiah (Galatians 3:24). As examples of these "just and devout" persons, the evangelist presents us with a few short but beautiful sketches in his first and second chapters. Besides the blessed Mary and faithful Joseph, there are Zacharias and Elisabeth, Simeon and Anna-pictures of holiness to be met with among men and women, married and unmarried, whose piety was strongly toned with this eminent feature, which is expressly attributed to one of them, " waiting for the consolation of Israel" (comp. Luke 1:6 with Luke 2:25, and Luke 2:37-38). Such hopes, stimulated by a profound and far-sighted faith, were exhibited at the birth and infancy of the Messiah Jesus by these expectant Jews; and they were not alone. Gentiles displayed a not less marvellous faith, when "the wise men from the East" did homage to the babe of Bethlehem, undeterred by the disguise of humiliation with which the Messiah's glory was to the human eve obscured (Matthew 2:2; Matthew 2:11). But at his death, no less than at his birth, under a still darker veil of ignominy, similar acknowledgments of faith in his Messiahship were exhibited. Mark mentions it as one of the points in the character of Joseph of Arimathaea that he "waited for the kingdom of God;" and it would seem that this faith urged him to that holy "boldness" of using his influence with Pilate to rescue the body of Jesus, and commit it to an honorable tomb, as if he realized the truth of Isaiah's great prophecy, and saw in the Crucified no less than the Messiah himself (Mark 15:43). To a like faith must be imputed the remarkable confession of the repentant thief upon the cross (Luke 23:42)a faith which brought even the Gentile centurion who superintended the execution of Jesus to the conviction that the expiring sufferer was not only innocent (Luke 23:47), but even "the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54, and Mark 15:39). This conjunction of Gentile faith with that of Hebrews is most interesting, and, indeed, consistent with the progress of the promise. We have seen above how, in the earliest stages of the revelation Gentile interests were not overlooked. Abraham, who saw. the Messiah's day (John 8:56), was repeatedly assured of the share which all nations were destined to have in the blessings of his death (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:18; Acts 3:25). Nor was the breadth of the promise afterwards narrowed. Moses called " the nations" to rejoice with the chosen people (Deuteronomy 32:43). Isaiah proclaimed the Messiah expressly as " the light of the Gentiles" (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6); Haggai foretold his coming as "the desire of all nations" (Haggai 2:7); and when he came at last, holy Simeon inaugurated his life on earth under the title of "a light-to lighten the Gentiles" (Luke 2:32). When his Gospel was beginning to run its free course, the two missionaries for the heathen quoted this great prophetic note as the warrant of their ministry: "I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47). Plain, however, as was the general scope of the Messianic prophecies, there were features in it which the Jewish nation failed to perceive. Framing their ideal not so much from their Scriptures as from their desires, and impatient of a hated heathen yoke, they longed for an avenging Messiah who should inflict upon their oppressors retaliation for many wrongs. ‘ his wish colored all their national hopes; and it should be borne in mind by the student of the Gospels, on which it throws much light. Not only was the more religious class, such as Christ's own apostles and pupils, affected by this thought of an external kingdom, even so late as his last journey to Jerusalem (Mark 10:37); but the undiscriminating crowds, who would have forcibly made him king (John 6:15) so strongly did his miracles attest his Messianic mission even in their view (John 6:14) and who afterwards followed him to the capital and shouted hosannas to his praise, most abruptly withdrew their popular favor from him and joined in his destruction, because he gave them no signs of an earthly empire or of political emancipation. Christ's kingdom was "not of this world" — a proposition which, although containing the very essence of Christianity, offended the Jewish people when Jesus presented himself as their veritable Messiah, and led to their rejection of him. Moreover, his lowly condition, sufferings, and death, have been a stumbling-block in the way of their recognition of him ever since. (See SAVIOUR).
III. Jewish Views respecting the Messiah. — "Even in the first prediction of the woman's seed bruising the serpent's head, there is the idea of a painful struggle and of a victory, which leaves the mark of suffering upon the Conqueror" (Smith's Messianic Prophecies of Isaiah , p. 164). This thought has tinged the sentiments of all orthodox believers since, although it has often been obscured by the brilliant fancy of ambition. (See SON OF MAN).
1. Early Jewish Opinions.-The portrait of an afflicted and suffering Messiah is too minutely sketched by the Psalmist (Psalms 22, 42, 43, 69), by Isaiah (ch. 53), by Zechariah (ch. 11-13), and Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27), to be ignored even by reluctant Jews; and strange is the embarrassment observable in Talmudic Judaism to obviate the advantage which accrues to Christianity from its tenure of this unpalatable doctrine. Long ago did Trypho, Justin Martyr's Jew, own the force of the prophetic Scriptures, which delineated Messiah as "a man of sorrows" (Justin. Dial. 89). In later times. after the Talmud of Babylon (7th century) became influential, the doctrine of two Messiahs was held among the Jews. For several centuries it was their current belief that Messiah Ben-David was referred to in all the prophecies which spoke of glory and triumph, while on Messiah Ben- Joseph of Ephraim fell all the predicted woes and sufferings. By this expedient they both glorfied their traditional idea which exonerated their chief Messiah, of David's illustrious race, from all humiliation, and likewise saved their nominal deference to the inspired prophets who had written of the sorrows of Messiah. (For a popular sketch of this opinion of two Messiahs, the reader is referred to Smith's sermons On the Messianic Prophecies of Isaiah, p. 177-181; see also Buxtorf's Lexicon Talmud. s.v. משיח, p. 1126, 1127, and s.v. אִרְמַילוּס; Eisenmenger's nedecktes Judenthum, 2:720-750; Otho's Lexicon Rabbin. Schittgen, Horae Hebrews et Rabbin. 2:1-778.) All the references to a suffering Messiah made by great writers, such as Rashi, Ibn-Esra, and D. Kimchi, are to "Messiah Ben-Joseph;" while of the more than seventy quotations cited by Buxtorf from the Targums, including Onkelos, not one refers to the Messiah as suffering.
This early Targumistic literature (as distinguished from the latter Rabbinical) dwells on the glories, triumphs, and power of a conquering Messiah. However absurd this distortion was, it was yet felt to be too great a homage to the plain interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures as given by Christian writers, who showed to the votaries of the Talmud that their earlier authors had applied to the Son of David the very passages which they were for referring to the Son of Joseph. From the tenth and eleventh centuries, therefore, other interpretations have been sought for. Maimonides omits the whole story of Messiah Ben-Joseph in his account of the Messiah; see Pococke, Append. on Malachi. The Messiah has been withdrawal together from the reach of all predicted sufferings. Such passages as Isaiah 53, have been and still are applied to some persecuted servant of God, Jeremiah especially, or to the aggregate Jewish nation. This anti-Messianic exegesis is prevalent among the Neologians of Germany and France, and their "free-handling" disciples of the English school (see Dr. Rowland Williams, Essays and Reviews, p. 71-75 [edit. 2]). Thus Jewish sentiment has either reverted to that low standard of mere worldly expectation which recognises no humiliation in Messiah, but only a career of unmixed triumph and glory, or else has collapsed in a disappointment and despair which forbid all speculation of a Messiah whatever (Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judezth. i,. 677). Jewish despair does not often resolve itself into Christian hope. Here and there affecting instances of the genuine change occur, such as the two mentioned by bishop Thirlwall (Reply to Dr. W.'s earnestly respectful letter, p. 78); in the second of which-that of Isaac da Costa-conversion arose from his thoughtful reflections on the present dispersion of the Jewish race for its sins. His acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah solved all enigmas to him, and enabled him to estimate the importance of such prophetic promises as are yet unfulfilled to Israel. But the normal state of Jewish Messianic opinion is that sickness of heart which comes from deferred hopes. This despair produces an abasement of faith and a lowering of religious tone, or else finds occasional relief in looking out after pretended Messiahs. Upwards of thirty cases of these have deluded the nation in its scattered state since the destruction of Jerusalem. (See MESSIAHS, FALSE).
The havoc of life and reputation caused by these attempts has tended more than any thing else to the discouragement of Messianic hopes among the modern Jews. Foremost in the unhappy catalogue of these fanatics stands the formidable rebellion under Bar-Cocheba, in the 2d century. Rabbi Akiba, "the second Moses," the great light of the day in Jewry, declared before the Sanhedrim that Bar- Cocheba was the Messiah. Rabbi Jochanan alone made opposition, and said, "Grass, O Akiba, will grow out of thy jaws, and yet the Son of David not have come." We know not what was the fate of Bar-Cocheba (or Bar- Coseba, "the son of lying," as his disappointed dupes at length called him), but the gray-headed Akiba was taken by the Romans and executed. More are said to have perished in this attempt than in the previous war of Titus. Embarrassing as all these failures are to the Jews, they only add one more to the many proofs of the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth, who expressly foretold these delusions of "false Christs" (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22), as one class of retributions which should avenge on Israel the guilt of his own rejection. Not only, however, from the lowliness and suffering of the Christian Messiah, but in a still greater degree from his exalted character, there arises a difficulty of faith to the Jewish objection. The divinity of nature which Jesus claimed is perhaps the greatest doctrinal obstacle to his reception among the Jews. See Gfrorer, Gesch. d. Urchristenthums (Stuttg. 1838); Solani, Croyances Messianiques (Strasb. 1864). (See SON OF GOD).
2. Modern Jewish Views. — The hope of a Messiah the bounteous benefactor and inaugurator of a glorious reign on earth, firmly establishing forever and ever the greatness of Abraham's descendants-had prevailed even among the children of Israel, but it required the days of trial and tribulation, such as came in the days of the exile, to create a yearning for the appearance of the King, the Conqueror, the God of Israel. Within the Romans of a foreign ruler, and subject to his rule, the Messiah became an ever-present being to the thoughts and to the visions of the Jews; and yet when at last the Son of man came to his own, his own knew him not. But though they rejected him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, the faith in a Restorer of Israel for many centuries continued to knit together the nation in their dispersed condition. Of late only a change has come over them, and the Jewish camp may be truly said to have divided into three distinct branches: (1) the extreme right, (2) the extreme left, and (3) the centre.
(1) The Jews belonging to the first class are those. who remain either (a) orthodox in their adherence to the liberal interpretation of the Bible and tradition, or (b) who, though accepting both Bible and tradition, favor. a liberal construction of the traditional usages. This class of Jews continue to look for a personal reign of Messiah, and their restoration to the land of their forefathers. Their number is daily decreasing, however, and the time promises to be soon when they shall be counted among the things that were.
(2) To the second class belong those Jews generally denominated Reformed. "They would sweep away Talmudism and the ceremonial law, claiming a complete emancipation from religious thraldom as their indefeasible right. They question the propriety of interpreting the prophets as predicting a personal Messiah, and deny the possibility of a restoration of Israel as a nation of political entity. In 1840 they for the first time gave public expression to their belief in a meeting at Fraakfort, when they declared that "a Messiah who is to lead back to Palestine is neither expected nor desired by the associated, and they acknowledge that alone to be their country to which they belong by birth or civil relation.' In 1869 a meeting of the educated Jews of Germany was held in the city of Leipsic, at which eighty-four different Jewish congregations were represented. Twenty-four of the attendants were rabbis of high repute; the lay members men who had secured the highest places in the gift of the nation, among them the late Dr. First, then professor at the University of Leipsic, the learned Lazarus, of the University of Berlin, etc In 1840 the gathering had been composed of a handful of rationalistic Jews; in 1869 the meeting at Leipsic was attended by Israel's ablest and most devoted adherents, Yet these men rejected the belief in Israel's restoration, and passed the following resolution: "Those portions of our prayers which refer to the re- establishment of the annual sacrifices at the Messianic period, or to the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, must be modified." Now widespread the opinion represented at this time owing may be best judged if such a conservative journal as the London Jewish Chronicle is led to comment that " Although every Jew is bound to believe in a Messiah, the question whether that expression indicates a person or a time, and whether he or it has arrived or not, is, according to the Talmud, an open question.".
(3) The main portion of modern Judaism consists of the moderate party, embracing those Jews who seek to develop a higher spirituality from the old form of Judaism. With them the ceremonial law is valuable only as a hedge to keep the people apart from other forms of religion till the times are fulfilled. Like Kimchi, Abrabanel, and other Jewish commentators, they apply the oracle in Isaiah 11:1-10 to the age of the Messiah, whose advent they place at the very time when the final gathering of the Jewish people is to be accomplished. " The one," says the Revelation Prof. Marks (Jewish Messenger, January, 1872), His to be immediately consequent upon the other; or, rather, they are prophesied as synchronous events." Denying the accuracy of Christian interpretation, which refers the 11th chapter to the first, and the 12th chapter to the coming of Christ in the final day, they insist that the Hebrew Scriptures teach only one Messianic appearance, and that chapter 11 warrants no distinction in point of time between "the clearly-defined occurrences which are to mark Messiah's advent;" "and," continues Prof. Marks, "so far from representing the complete regeneration of the moral world as the result of many centuries after the promised Messiah shall have appeared, the prophet of the text mentions the universal peace and harmony that shall prevail, as well as the ingathering of the dispersed of Judah and of Israel, as the especial events which are to characterize the inauguration of the Messianic age. The promised regenerator of mankind is to be known by the accomplishment of these his appointed tasks; and no one, according to the Jewish view of prophetic Scripture, is entitled to the name of ‘ the Messiah' who does. not vindicate his claim to that high office by means of the fulfilment of the conditions which the word of inspiration has assigned to his coming."
As is well known, the Jews looked for a Messiah in the days of our Saviour. For centuries after the whole nation was incessantly on the watch: their prosperity seemed the harbinger of his coming; their darkest calamities, they believed, gathered them only to display, with the force of stronger contrast, the mercy of their God and the glory of their Redeemer. Calculation upon calculation failed, until at last, their courage threatening desertion, the rabbinical interdict was sent forth to repress the dangerous curiosity which, often baffled, would still penetrate the secrets of futurity. "Cursed is he who calculates the time of the Messiah's coming" was the daily message to the faithful of the synagogue; and at last it was declared that "No indication is given with regard to the particular epoch at which the prophecy of the 11th chapter (of Isaiah) is to be accomplished," but that the inspired messenger of God has furnished means of determining by the evidence of our senses the distinctive signs by which the advent of the Messiah is to be marked, viz.
(1) the arrival of the golden age (Isaiah 11:7-9);
(2) the rallying of the nations, unsought and uninvited, around the Messianic banner (Isaiah 11:10); and
(3) the second ingathering of the whole of the Jewish people, including the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, as well as those which composed the kingdom of Samaria, and are popularly spoken of as "the lost tribes" (Isaiah 11:11-12. Compare on this. point Lindo, The Conciliator of R. Manasseh ben-Israel [Lond. 1842, 2 vols. 8vo], 2:143). "As Jews, we," they say, "maintain that the promised Messiah has not yet appeared, and that the world has never witnessed such a moral picture as the prophets predict of the Messianic age." And yet they are obliged themselves to confess that "Various opinions prevail [among them] with respect to what is to be precisely understood by the coming of the Messiah. Some hold that it implies the birth of a particular personage; others, that it describes the conjunction of certain events which are to act with extraordinary moral power on the world at large. But what it does especially behoove us to bear in mind is, first, that the prophets identify the Messianic advent with an age when brute force shall have come to an end, when warfare and strife shall have disappeared from the earth, and when love shall have become the sole governing principle of humanity; and, secondly, that this important work of the regeneration of mankind is to be brought about by the instrumentality of the Jewish people, if not by some remarkable individual born of that race."
Jesus the Christ they refuse to recognise as that " remarkable individual," "because," as one of their number has declared, "we do not find in the present comparatively imperfect stage of human progress the realization of that blessed condition of mankind which the prophet Isaiah associates with the era when Messiah is to appear. And as our Hebrew Scriptures speak of one Messianic advent only, and not of two advents (even those in the synagogue who speak of a Messiah from the house of Joseph concurrently with one from the house of David make their advent synchronous); and as the inspired Book does not preach Messiah's kingdom as a matter of faith, but distinctly identifies it with matters of fact which are to be made evident to the senses, we cling to the plain inference to be drawn from the text of the Bible, and we deny that Messiah has yet appeared, and upon the following grounds: First. Because of the three distinctive facts which the inspired seer of Judah inseparably connects with the advent of the Messiah, viz. the cessation of war and the uninterrupted reign of peace, the prevalence of a perfect concord of opinion on all matters bearing upon the worship of the one and only God, and the ingathering of the remnant of Judah and of the dispersed ten tribes of Israel-not one has, up to the present time, been accomplished. ‘ Second. We dissent from the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah announced by the prophets, because the Church which he founded, and which his successors developed, has offered, during a succession of centuries, a most singular contrast to what is described by the Hebrew Scriptures as the immediate consequence of Messiah's advent, and of his glorious kingdom. The prophet Isaiah declares that when the Messiah appears, peace, love, and union will be permanently established; and every candid man must admit that the world has not yet realized the accomplishment of this prophecy. Again, in the days of Messiah, all men, as Scripture saith, ‘ are to serve God with one accord;' and yet it is very certain that since the appearance of him whom our Christian brethren believe to be Messiah, mankind has been split into more hostile divisions on the grounds of religious belief, and more antagonistic sects have sprung up, than in any historic age before Christianity was preached." For the articles of confession, see the article. (See JUDAISM), 4:1057, Colossians 1 (9 and 12), 1058, and especially those portions in Conservative and Reformed JUDAISM; also (See RESTORATION OF THE JEWS).
IV. Proof of the Messiahship of Jesus. — This discussion resolves itself into two questions. (See JESUS CHRIST).
1. The promised Messiah has already come. To prove this assertion, we shall confine our remarks to three prophecies.
(1.) The first is the passage above commented on, occurring in Genesis 49:8; Genesis 49:10, where Jacob is giving his sons his parting benediction, etc. When he comes to Judah, he says: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the obedience of the people be." It is evident that by Judah is here meant, not the person, but the tribe; for Judah died in Egypt, without any pre- eminence. By sceptre and lawgiver are obviously intended the legislative and ruling power, which did, in the course of time, commence in David, and which for centuries afterwards was continued in his descendants. Whatever variety the form of government-whether monarchical or aristocratical might have assumed, the law and polity were still the same. This prediction all the ancient Jews referred to the Messiah. Ben-Uzziel renders it, "Until the time when the king Messiah shall come." The Targum of Onkelos speaks to the same effect, and that of Jerusalem paraphrases it thus: " Kings shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor doctors that teach the law from his children, until that the king Messiah do come, whose the kingdom is; and all nations of the earth shall be subject unto him." Now that the sceptre has ‘ departed from Judah, and, consequently, that the Messiah has come, we argue from the acknowledgments of some most learned Jews themselves. Kimchi thus comments on Hosea: "These are- the days of our captivity, wherein we have neither king nor prince in Israel; but w
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Messiah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/messiah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Third Sunday after Epiphany