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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. POSITION OF PS. 2—In several Hebrew manuscripts the first and second psalms are united so as to form only one psalm; in others the second stands first in numerical order. The Greek editions of the New Testament by Erasmus, Bengel, and Griesbach consider our first psalm as a kind of introduction to the whole psalter, and begin their numbering with our second psalm. They do so on the authority of several Latin and Greek Fathers, who quote the seventh verse of Ps. 2 as occurring in Ps. 1. But the greater number of manuscripts and editions of the New Testament, the Vulgate and the Oriental versions among the rest, quote the passage as taken from Ps. 2. A few manuscripts omit the number entirely (cf. Acts 13:33).

2. STRUCTURE OF PS. 2—In the Hebrew text this psalm consists of four stanzas, the first three of which contain seven trochaic hexasyllabic verses each, while the fourth numbers eight. In the first stanza the psalmist beholds a multitude of kings and nations in rebellion against Jehovah and his Anointed; in the second Jehovah derides the insurgents, and declares that he has established his Anointed as king in Sion; in the third the Anointed claims an absolute dominion over all the nations of the earth by right of inheritance; in the fourth the psalmist exhorts the kings to serve and fear Jehovah, in order to escape his angry vengeance (cf. Cheyne, “Book of Psalms” pp. 3 f.).

3. Author of the Psalm.—Opinions: 1.—The psalm was written by Asaph, the prophet, when the Ammonites and other nations, in league with them, conspired against the kingdom of Israel and the king Josaphat (2 Paral. 20. Rudinger). There is no solid foundation for this opinion.

2. The author is an unknown person, who speaks of one of the later Hebrew kings (Hensler). But greater power and glory is predicted of Sion’s anointed king than were enjoyed by any of the kings of Juda or Israel after Solomon’s time.

3. Nathan the prophet wrote the second psalm at the time when Adonias, the son of David by Haggith, exalted himself, saying: “I will be king” (3 Kings 1:5). The psalmist intended to prevent the meditated rebellion by persuading his countrymen to embrace the interests of their divinely appointed king, Solomon (Anonym. author). But even if we grant that the word “kings” may designate persons ambitious of becoming kings, we cannot understand how it can apply to Adonias alone, or how the word “Gentiles” (Goyim in Hebrew) can be used of the Israelitic tribes. The denunciations too are of a severer character than they would have been had they been addressed to the Jews.

4. The opinion that Ps. 2 was written by Solomon (Ewald, Paulus, Bleek, etc.), or by Ezechias (Maurer), or by Isaias, or at the time of Isaias (Delitzsch), hardly needs to be discussed, since the reasons establishing the psalm’s true authorship will sufficiently answer all the arguments of our opponents.

5. King David is the author of the second psalm. Proofs: a. In Acts 4:25 the beginning of Ps. 2 is introduced with the words, “who by the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, hath said.” Compare also Acts 13:33, 34. b. The first forty, or, according to the Hebrew text, the first forty-one psalms constitute what is known as the first book of the psalter, which was, according to the more common opinion, written by David. In the Hebrew text thirty-seven psalms out of the forty-one are ascribed to David in the titles of the Psalms. c. The second psalm is very similar to Ps. 109 (110), which latter was beyond all doubt composed by David (cf. Ps. 2:7 and 109:2, 5, 6). d. Supposing the Messianic character of the second psalm, which we shall establish in the next paragraph, its description of the anointed king fits very well into the time of David. e. Jewish tradition, too, ascribes the psalm to David, as may be seen from the words of Solomon Jarchi and David Kimchi. If Aben Ezra ascribes it to some of the minstrels,” still he insists that it has reference “to David at the time when he was chosen king.” Driver (Introduction to the Literat. O. T., pp. 362 f., note) does not consider that David is both prophet and king.

4. SUBJECT OF THE PSALM.—The subject of the second psalm is identical with the “anointed king.” Opinions: 1. All Catholics must hold that the “anointed king” is, at least, a type of the Messias; that, therefore, the subject of the psalm, at least in its typical meaning, is Christ Jesus. Reasons: a. Such is the tradition of the Synagogue. Jarchi says: “Our doctors expound this psalm as having reference to King Messias; but in accordance with the literal sense, and that it may be used against the heretics [i.e., the Christians,] it is proper that it be explained as relating to David himself.” David Kimchi expresses himself as follows in the exposition of this psalm: “There are some,” says he, “who expound this psalm as referring to Gog and Magog; and that the anointed king is the Messias. Our doctors of blessed memory thus expounded it, and the psalm so explained is very perspicuous; yet it seems more reasonable to think that David composed it in reference to himself, and in this sense we have accordingly explained it” (cf. Coroll. 1A). b. Christian tradition agrees on this point with the Jewish; the Fathers of the Church have made use of the second psalm in proving the divinity of Christ against the Arians (cf. Kilber, “Analysis Biblia,” ii. 8, 2d ed.). c. The psalm is applied to Christ in the New Testament (cf. Acts 4:25–27; 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; Apoc. 19:15).

2. Many Catholic and some Protestant commentators maintain that the anointed king and all that is said of him refers literally to the Messias. Reasons: a. From the above cited passages of Jarchi and Kimchi it appears that such was the Jewish tradition. b. The whole psalm in its literal sense well agrees with the Messias; the literal sense of several of its clauses cannot apply to any one else, e.g., “this day have I begotten thee,” and “I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.” c. The fact that the terms “Christ” (Messias) and “Son of God” became proper names of the expected Redeemer (John 4:25; 1:49) is owing to the second psalm. This is also another proof that the Jews understood the psalm in its literal sense of the Messias. d. Ps. 109 (110), which is similar to Ps. 2, is commonly explained as referring in its literal sense to the Messias. A like explanation must then be given of the second psalm.

3. Patrizi is of opinion that part of the psalm taken in its literal sense applies to the Messias, part to King Solomon. The reasons given in the preceding paragraph lead him to the partial Messianic interpretation, while the words of the prophet Nathan, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son” (2 Kings 7:14), spoken as they are of Solomon, establish in his opinion the Solomonic relation of the psalm. Thus type and anti-type are blended into one.

4. Some expositors have thought that Solomon is the king celebrated in this song (Ewald, Bleek, etc.). Reasons: a. In 2 Kings 7:13, 14, Solomon is called “son of God.” b. Among all the kings of Israel Solomon was the only one, so far as we know, who, after being anointed at the fountain Gihon, was brought up with royal pomp to Mount Sion. c. It may be supposed that in the beginning of Solomon’s reign the subdued surrounding nations would attempt to free themselves from the power of the Israelite king. This rebellion, being of but short duration, has not been mentioned in any of Israel’s historical books. This last reason, however, is nothing but a gratuitous conjecture in support of a favorite hypothesis. It is stated in explicit terms in 3 Kings 5:4, 5 and 1 Paral. 22:9 that Solomon’s reign was a period of profound peace. Again Ps. 89:27, 28 promises that God will make David his “first-born, high above the kings of the earth.” The above reasons, then, do not prove that the second psalm, in its literal meaning, must apply to Solomon.

5. Another class of writers maintains that David is the subject of the second psalm. Reasons: a. David is often called the anointed, as in 2 Kings 12:7; Ps. 19 (20):7. b. David wielded his royal power on Mount Sion (1 Par. 15:1; 16:1). c. There were several periods in David’s reign that agree with the description given in the psalm: 1 The period when David was attacked by the army of the Philistines, after he had taken the stronghold of the Jebusites (Jarchi, Kimchi) (cf. 2 Kings 5:20). 2. When David had gained the victory over the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, and the other neighboring nations (cf. 2 Kings 8:1–15) (Grotius, Möller, etc.). 3. When the Benjamites together with Saul’s family supported Isboseth against David (Döderlein). 4. When David’s son Absalom conspired against his father (Kuinoel, etc.). d. The psalmist, whom we have identified with David, writes as of actual and present occurrences. But we must remember, on the one hand, that the prophetic vision commonly presents future scenes as actually present; we must consider, on the other, that at the time of the first of the above victories over the Philistines Sion was not as yet the Holy Mount, since the ark of the covenant did not then rest on Sion (cf. 2 Kings 6:1). As to the subsequent victories of David, they did not subdue rebellious nations, previously subject to David’s sway, as the psalm describes it; but they were gained over the independent surrounding tribes and the members of his own family. Though David was anointed he did not receive his consecration on Mount Sion, but first in Bethlehem and later at Hebron (1 Kings 16:1–3; 2 Kings 2:1–4).

To sum up, the second psalm was written by David, and refers to the Messias, probably in its literal sense. By this is not excluded the opinion that some particular external occurrence or a chain of such occurrences was the immediate occasion of the psalm. Nor is the opinion of those writers who apply the psalm only in its typical sense to Christ destitute of probability. Delitzsch (Commentar iiber den Psalter, vol. i. p. 9) well expresses the result of his investigation. “The question concerning the person of the Anointed,” he says, “need not detain us long; for in the labyrinth of opinions one point remains certain beyond all doubt: that the person of the Anointed, in whom the whole psalm centres, appears in that divine splendor of power which the prophet predicted of the Messias. Whether it be a present or a future king … who is thus considered in the light of the Messianic prophecies, in either case the Anointed is according to the psalmist’s mind the person of the Messias” (cf. Cheyne, “Book of Psalms,” p. 4).

Ps. 2

Why have the Gentiles raged,

And the people devised vain things?

The kings of the earth stood up,

And the princes met together.

Against the Lord, and against his Christ.

Let us break their bonds asunder,

And let us cast away their yoke from us.”

He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them,

And the Lord shall deride them.

Then shall he speak to them in his anger,

And trouble them in his rage.

But I am appointed king by him

Over Sion, his holy mountain,

preaching his commandment.”

The Lord hath said to me: “Thou art my son,

This day have I begotten thee.

Ask of me, and I will give thee

The Gentiles for thy inheritance,

And the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron,

And shalt break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

And now, O ye kings, understand,

Receive instruction you that judge the earth.

Serve ye the Lord with fear,

And rejoice unto him with trembling.

Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry

And you perish from the just way

When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time.

Blessed are all they that shall trust in him.

1. IN THE LIGHT OF CHRISTIAN REVELATION.—It has been shown in the explanation of the third stanza that the anointed king is the son of God (Heb. 1:5; 5:5; Acts 13:32, 33; 4:25, 26; cf. Kilber, Analysis Bibl. ii. p. 8, notes); we have also seen that the psalm is Messianic, i.e., that the anointed king is identical with the promised Messias. The inference that the Messias is the son of God is therefore unavoidable. Those who contend that this sonship may be one by adoption, not by generation, must be referred to the text of the psalm itself. For though the title “son of God” is throughout the Old Testament not unfrequently given to the earthly leaders of the theocracy, the friends and servants of God, still the phrase “I have begotten thee,” as even De Wette confesses, nowhere indicates merely adoptive sonship when God himself employs it. Besides, in Ps. 44 (45):7 and 109 (110):5 the same person is called Lord and God, and in the last but one verse of Ps. 2 he is named “Son.” Consequently, we must again infer that the anointed king’s sonship surpasses a merely adoptive one. Finally, according to the present Hebrew text, we must read: “Kiss the son, lest he become angry …,” so that our trust must be placed in the son. But we can trust in Jehovah alone according to Ps. 117 (118):9; 145 (146):3; Mich. 7:5.

2. IN THE LIGHT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.—But lest we should seem to explain the prophecy of Ps. 2 entirely in the light of the New Testament and of Christian Theology, we must consider in what light the Messias was regarded even in the Synagogue. We have already seen that both Jarchi and Kimchi testify to the traditional Messianic interpretation of Ps. 2; we might consequently infer a priori that the ancient Synagogue must have expected a Messias who would be in a special way the Son of God. This inference we shall see amply confirmed by unsuspected testimony. For we shall investigate in the first place on what grounds Jarchi and Kimchi have asserted the existence of a Jewish tradition for the Messianic character of Ps. 2; in the second place we shall give a few testimonies to show what manner of Divine sonship was attributed to the Messias by the learned writers of the Synagogue; finally will be given the Jewish exegesis of a few prophecies that the Synagogue considered as nearly related to Psalm 2.

A. Rabbinic Testimony for the Messianic Character of Ps. 2—a. The psalm will be verified in the time of Gog and Magog. In Mechilta (fol. 3, 3) we read: “In future times, too, Gog and Magog shall fall down before Israel; David shall see it and exclaim, ‘Why have the Gentiles raged?’ ” The Talmud (Abodah zarah, fol. 3, b), treating of the Messianic times, has the following: “When the war of Gog and Magog begins, they will say to them: ‘Against whom have you gone forth?’ They answer: ‘Against the Lord and against his Christ.’ ” Finally, Midrash Esther (fol. 107, 4; cf. Tanchuma, fol. 55, 2; Vayikra Rabba, sect. 27 fin.) confirms the same statement: “Rabbi Levi has said: Gog and Magog too will say in the times of the Messias: Those who have done anything against Israel before us have acted foolishly, for they (the Israelites) have a patron in heaven. We shall not act in the same way, but we shall first attack the patron, and afterwards the Israelites. The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together against the Lord and against his Christ. Then God will say to them: You wicked men, will you attack me? How many armies, how many thunderbolts, and how many Seraphim and angels do I not possess? My power shall come forth and strive against you.” Jewish exegesis has, therefore, identified the war of Gog and Magog against Israel with the rebellion described in Ps. 2. But the same war will take place in the times of the Messias, as is clearly understood from the second and third of the above testimonies. Compare also Ezech. 38:2 and 39.

b. Again, the Jewish tradition holds that to the anointed king of Ps. 2 all power will be given, and all homage due. The Zohar (Deut. fol. 109, col. 436) comments on the phrase “kiss the son” (rendered in our versions “embrace discipline”). “Kiss ye the hands of the son, for God has given him power over all, so that all must serve him. For he is crowned with justice and mercy. He who deserves justice shall come to judgment; whosoever is worthy of mercy shall obtain mercy. Whosoever is not willing to praise this son, his sins shall be brought forth before the holy king, and before the heavenly mother.” If we compare this description of the anointed king with the description of the Messias given in the manifestly Messianic passages of Isaias (9:6 f.; 11:2 f.), we see again that Jewish exegesis has identified the anointed king of Ps. 2 with the Messias.

c. But we go a step farther; the earliest Jewish commentaries expressly stated the identity of the Messias with the hero of Ps. 2 We read in the Zohar (Gen. fol. 77, col. 293): “Beginning at that very time King Messias will rise up, and then all Gentiles will be gathered to battle against Jerusalem,” as David says: “The kings of the earth stood up.” The same work has the following passage (Ex. fol. 24, col. 96): “The holy and all-blessed God puts on power against the Gentiles, who rise up against him, as is written: and the princes met together against the Lord and against his Christ, and this shall happen in the time of King Messias.” Bereshith Rabba (sect. 44, fol. 42, 4; Mechilta and Seder ‘Olam in Yalkut Simeoni II. fol. 27, 4) says: “God has said to three persons: ‘Ask of me;’ to Solomon, to Achaz, and to the Messias.” The Talmud is not less explicit in the Messianic interpretation of Ps. 2. The treatise Succah (fol. 52, 1) says: “Our Rabbis teach: the holy God, blessed be he, says to the Messias, the son of David: Ask of me.” The Midrash Tehillim (ad Ps. cxx. 7, fol. 45, 4) gives a commentary on Ps. 2:9: “The holy God, blessed be he, says to the Messias: Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron.” The same Midrash in its commentary on Ps. 2:7 has the following passage: “Preaching his commandment—this has been preached long ago in the Law, in the Prophets, and in the doctrinal books: In the Law, Ex. 4:22: Israel is my son, my first-born; in the Prophets, Is. 52:13: Behold, my servant shall understand; and 42:1 refers to the same: Behold my servant, I will uphold him; in the doctrinal books, Ps. 110:1, The Lord said to my Lord; and Ps. 2:7: The Lord hath said to me, thou art my son; and again Dan. 7:23; and lo … with the clouds of heaven.” The Jewish teaching concerning the Messianic reference of Ps. 2 is therefore certain beyond all doubt.

B. The Divine Sonship of the Messias as taught in the Synagogue.—a. The anointed king is represented as the son of a king. Mechilta (Yalkut Simeoni II. fol. 53, 3), when commenting on the words “against the Lord and against his Christ,” has the parable of a robber who stands defiantly behind a royal castle and holds the following monologue: “If I seize the king’s son, I shall kill him and crucify him, that he may die a painful death;” but the holy Spirit derides him, as is written: “He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them.”

b. Again, the Messias is represented as having no father. Bereshith Rabba (cf. Raym. Martini, part iii., dist. iii.8, 5, et Hier. de S. Fide i.5) has the following passage: “Rabbi Barachias speaks thus: God says to the Israelites: You tell me (Lam. 5:3) we are become orphans without a father. Neither has the ‘Goel’ a father, whom I shall raise up unto you; according to Zacharias 6:12: Behold a man, the Orient (Zemach) is his name, and under him shall he spring up. And Is. 53:2 says: and he shall grow up as a tender plant before him. Of the same [person] David says in Ps. 109 (110):3: from the mother of the dawn the dew of thy youth has come unto thee [for the different translations of this passage see the commentary on Ps. 109 (110)]; and in Ps. 2:7: The Lord hath said to me: thou art my son.”

c. In the third place, the Messias is declared to be God’s Son. Midrash Tehillim commenting on the words, “thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee,” has the following passage: “When the time of the Messias shall come, then the holy God, praised be his name, shall say to him: It is my duty to make a new covenant with him. For he says, To-day have I begotten thee. Then is his hour, when he shall be declared as his son.”

d. Finally, the Messias is openly represented as the Son of God. Zohar (Gen. fol. 88, col. 348) plainly expresses this: “This is the faithful shepherd. Of thee it is said, ‘kiss the son;’ thou art the prince of the Israelites, the Lord of the earth, the Lord of the ministering angels, the son of the Most High, the son of the holy God, blessed be he, and the gracious Shekhinah.” Consequently, we may safely maintain that the Synagogue understood Ps. 2 not only of the Messias, but also of a Messias who would be the Son of God.

e. To give this last assertion a still more solid foundation, we shall next consider several passages of ancient Rabbinic writers containing the same doctrine, though they are not connected with Ps. 2. Some of these passages reveal this truth implicitly and obscurely; others state it clearly and unmistakably. The former may be reduced to the places in which the Messias is called “the Middle Column,” “the lower Adam,” “the plant from below and above;” the latter is found in those authors who call the Messias the first-born, the Son of God.

I. IMPLICIT TESTIMONY.—a. The Messias is the Middle Column.—Tikkune Zohar (c. 24, fol. 68, 2) tells us: “It is said of the Middle Column: Israel is my son, my first-born” (Ex. 4:22). Here it suffices to recall what is written concerning the Middle Column in the Zohar (Numb. fol. 91, col. 364): “The Middle Column is the Metatron who, being beauty and comeliness, establishes peace with God in the highest: his name is like the name of his Lord, being made after his image and likeness; he comprises within himself all qualities from above downward, and from below upward (i.e., the divine and the human nature), and he unites everything in the middle.” We must only add that Metatron is the name of the great Presence-angel, who guarded Israel in the Old Testament, and who is identical with the Messias (cf. I. Myer, Qabbalah, pp. 365 f.).

b. The Messias is the Terrestrial Adam.—Prov. 30:4 reads: “Who hath ascended up into heaven, and descendeth? who hath held the wind in his hands? who hath bound up the waters together as in a garment? who hath raised up all the borders of the earth? what is his name, and what is the name of his son, if thou knowest?”Referring to this verse the Zohar (Gen. fol. 39, col. 154; Tikkune Zohar c. 69, fol. 108, 2) says: “What is his name? The upper or celestial Adam. What is the name of his son? The lower or terrestrial Adam.” Again in Zohar (Deut. fol. 119, col. 473) we read: “The words ‘what is the name of his son?’ refer to the faithful shepherd, i.e., to the Messias.” Consequently, the Messias, the terrestrial Adam, is the son of the celestial Adam. It follows from these passages, at least, that the Messias was expected to have a celestial origin.

c. The Messias is the Plant from Below and Above.—Bereshith Rabba (sect. 90, fol. 91, 3, part iii. dist. i. 10, 12), interpreting Cant. 8:12, “my vineyard is before me,” says: “This is King Messias, as Ps. 80:16 has it; And perfect the same which thy right hand hath planted. There is a twofold plantation (a celestial and a terrestrial). The lower one is Abraham, but the joint upper and lower one is the Messias, according to Mich. 2:13: ‘He shall go up that shall open the way before them.’ ” Here too the twofold nature of the Messias is obscurely indicated.

II. EXPLICIT TESTIMONY.—a. The Messias is the First-Born.—Turning now to clearer passages, we may in the first place return to Ex. 4:22: “Israel, my first-born” are words applied to the Messias, not only by Jewish writers, but also by St. Matthew. We read in Myer (Qabbalah, pp. 261 f.): “From its union with Kether, out of which it is emanated, and to which it returns, proceeds Chokhmah, i.e., Wisdom, the Word or Son, the Logos, called the Firstborn …” And again (ibid.): “It (Wisdom) is also called by the Qabbalah ‘the only begotten Son,’ ‘the Firstborn of Elohim,’ etc.”

What is important here is the identity of Chokhmah or Wisdom (Logos, Word) with the Messias, as St. John has established it. Again, Tikkune Zohar (c. 14, pr.) has the following passage: “Come and see. Of Wisdom it is written, Ex. 13:2: Sanctify unto me every first-born. For every first-born is called after her (Wisdom’s) name. Hence the Shekhinah too is named the First-born. Of Wisdom it is clearly said in Ezech. 44:30: The first-fruits (literally, the beginning) of all the first-born. His first-born son is the first of all, and the Middle Column.” Now we have already seen that the Messias was called both “Middle Column” and “Shekhinah.” Consequently “the first-born” was one of the Messianic titles.

b. The Messias is the Son of God.—Shemoth Rabba (sect. c. 35, fol. 133, 2) reads: “We find that in future times all nations, but Egypt first of all, shall offer gifts to King Messias. And lest anyone should think that God would not accept the gift from them, the holy God, blessed be he, says to the Messias: Accept them from them. From that time gifts have been offered to my son in Egypt, as is written, Ps. 67 (68):32: Ambassadors shall come out of Egypt.” The Talmud repeats this passage, substituting “to my sons” instead of “to my son,” so as not to favor the Christian teaching that the Messias is the Son of God. What has been said establishes the traditional teaching of the Synagogue concerning the divine sonship of the Messias beyond all reasonable doubt; for a still fuller statement of the same see the section on the Divinity of the Messias.

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