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

Section I. The Son of David Shall Rule Forever

2 Kings 7:1–16; 1 Par. 17:1–17.

1. HISTORY OF THE PROPHECY.—The second Book of Samuel, or of Kings, as it is named in our editions, opens with the lament of David over Saul and Jonathan. David is then made king at Hebron over Juda, and subsequently, after the murder of Isboseth, over all Israel (c. 2–5:3). Joab next captures the stronghold of Jebus, which David henceforth makes his residence (5:4–16); then follow successful wars against the Philistines (5:17–25), and the ark is removed from the house of Obededom to the city of David (6). Now David formed the purpose of building the Lord a temple in accordance with Deut. 12:10 ff., but Nathan the prophet reveals to him that the Lord reserves this work for his son.

2. AUTHORSHIP OF THE PROPHECY.—According to Driver (Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, New York, 1892), Anna’s song and the prophecy of Nathan are among the parts which in their present form have some affinities in thought and expression with Deuteronomy, though decidedly less marked than those observable in the Redaction of Kings, so that they can hardly be later than c. 400 B.C.

The contents of the Books of Samuel are so various and abundant that they can hardly be the work of any single man, and the descriptions are so minute and accurate that we cannot suppose oral tradition to be the only source of the books. On the other hand, the books cannot be considered a mere compilation of pre-existing documents, since they constitute one continuous whole. The repetitions which are said to occur are either the mere history of a repeated fact—thus David fled twice to the Philistines, and twice he proved his marvellous generosity towards Saul—or they are narrating the same fact from different points of view and in different connections, as may be seen in the history of the Ammonite-Syrian war, which is mentioned in 2 Kings 8:12, and again in 10:1 ff., in order to connect this event with David’s sin.

The author of the books is not named in Sacred Scripture, and Samuel, who is called their author in the Babylonian Gemara, can hardly have written them, since they contain numerous events that happened after Samuel’s death. The opinions that Gad, or Nathan, or Isaias, or Jeremias, or Ezechias, or Esdras, has written the books are without solid foundation. We believe that Samuel and Gad and Nathan are the joint authors of Kings I, II. (1 Par. 29:29; 27:24; ancient tradition).

The time of composition may be inferred from the following facts: 1. Mention is made of a distinction between Juda and Israel, a distinction that was introduced in David’s time (1 Kings 11:8; 17:52; 18:16; 2 Kings 2:9–10; 5:1–5; 19:41; 20:2; 2 Kings 3:10; 24:1). 2. On the other hand, the author does not tell us of Solomon’s reign, though he supposes David’s death (2 Kings 5:4), and asserts that Siceleg belongs to the kings of Juda (1 Kings 27:6): the last of these facts seems to show that the division into the two kingdoms had already taken place at the time of the writer. 3. In the Septuagint version of 2 Kings 8:7 and 14:27 there is mention of Roboam; if then the authenticity of these passages were beyond dispute, it would be certain that the books have been written during the reign of Roboam. The facts contained in 1 Kings 8:8; 12:2; 29:3, 6, 8; 2 Kings 7:6, which are sometimes alleged as indicative of the author’s time, do not shed any real light on the subject. The books must have been completed towards the end of Solomon’s reign, or under his son Roboam.

3. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—1. Nathan’s prediction is regarded as a prediction after the event by those authors whose views have been stated above in Driver’s synopsis. Here belong De Wette, Movers, Ewald, Baur, Diestel (cf. Meignan, “Prophéties Messianiques,” Paris, 1878, pp. 120 ff.). According to these writers the words of Nathan, which were very few and most obscure, have after the event been amplified into the present prophecy. This view has been sufficiently refuted where the age of the Books of Kings was determined.

2. The Messianic reference of Nathan’s prophecy is clear from Christian tradition. a. Not to speak of the epistle to the Hebrews (1:5) in which the Apostle understands the passage of Christ’s natural divine sonship, b. we may point to the testimony of Tert. (M. 2, 350), Lact. (6, 486), Just. (6, 750), Euseb. (22, 430), Cyr. Alex. (76, 114), Basil (32, 882), Theodoret, Procop., Walaf., St. Augustine (Civ. Dei, xvii. 8), of St. Chrysostom (Hom. 23 in Act. Apost.), and of St. Ambrose (Apol. David altera; cf. St. Aug., de præsent. Dei, 35; in Ps. cxxvi). c. Besides, it must be observed that in point of fact, the whole prediction perfectly agrees with Jesus Christ: he is the son of David, he has built a house unto God by instituting the Church, his royal throne will last for ever, he is the Son of God, he has been chastised by God for our sins; still the mercy of God has not departed from him, but has raised him from the dead and given him all power in heaven and on earth.

3. The question may be raised whether Nathan’s prediction applies to Christ in its literal or in a typical sense. There are certain reasons which would seem to show that all applies to Christ, and to Christ alone, in its literal meaning. a. Jesus alone reigns for ever, and b. according to St. Paul God has said of him alone: “I will be to him a father” (cf. Heb. 1:5). But, on the other hand, there are certain reasons that prevent us from applying the prediction to Jesus Christ alone. a. According to verse 13, the material temple seems to be had in view; b. the comparison with Saul which is found in the passage does not well suit Jesus; c. in Ps. 88 (89) 31 it is clearly stated that verse 14 refers to the personal sins of David’s descendants; d. the eternity of the predicted reign does not exclude the other descendants of David, though it necessarily includes also the Messias.

4. These reasons for and against the literal application of the passage to the Messias have occasioned a difference of opinion concerning the real import of the prophecy. There are some authors who understand verses 12 and 13 and the second part of verse 14 literally of Solomon, while the other parts are applied to the Messias in their literal meaning. It is true that a. no fact of history contradicts this exposition, and b. that Heb. 1:5 is thus applied to Christ alone, as it must be; but, on the other hand, a. no reader finds such a mingling of the literal sense of Scripture natural or plausible, and b. 1 Par. 22:10 demands that the first part of verse 14, quoted in Heb. 1:5, be applied to Solomon in its literal sense.

5. On account of these reasons, other authors have thought fit to apply the whole passage in its literal sense to Solomon and his offspring, including the Messias, because all these will exercise the royal power in their own time and order. Some of these will be bad men, and therefore the Lord will correct them by means of punishments, without on that account withdrawing his favor from the race as such. And if it be said that St. Paul in the repeatedly quoted passage of the epistle to the Hebrews applies this prophecy to Christ’s natural sonship of God, which cannot be applied to the other descendants of David, it must be kept in mind that the apostle argues from the typical meaning of the passage, which applies to Jesus Christ alone as the antitype. Again, it may be said that the whole prophecy applies to the whole series of David’s offspring, but is not equally fulfilled in the single members. This explanation is given by Reinke, Hengstenberg; Corluy and Cardinal Patrizi give a similar explanation.

6. According to Cardinal Patrizi we are bound to apply the words, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son,” in their typical sense to the Messias on account of St. Paul’s argument in the epistle to the Hebrews. For the apostle uses the words about Christ’s natural sonship of God, and since they do not signify this in their literal sense, they must have this meaning in their typical sense. As to the rest of Nathan’s prediction, we may apply it typically to the Messias, but are not bound to do so. For it is well understood that David and Solomon are types of the Messias: a. Ps. 71 (72) mingles the praise of Solomon with that of the Messias, or rather it describes the Messias in such a manner that the description applies also to Solomon. b. Jer. 30:9 calls the Messias king David. c. In Ps. 15 (16):10, 11; 21 (22):17–19 David impersonates the Messias. d. The Messianic types of David and Solomon appear also in Ezech. 34:23, 24; Os. 3:5; Amos 9:11. e. Solomon, the favorite son of David, is rightly looked upon as a type of the true son of David (Is. 11:1; Jer. 22:30; Matt. 1:1; Luke 1:32; Apoc. 22:16; 5:5; Matt. 12:23; 15:22; 21:9; Mark 12:35–37; Jo. 7:42; Rom 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8). f. The very name of Solomon, or “Peaceful,” prefigures the peace of the Messianic reign (cf. Mich. 5:5; Is. 9:6, 7; Luke 1:79; 2:14; Is. 53:5; Jo. 14:27; Acts 10:36; Eph. 2:14, 17; Col. 1:20, etc.). g. The extraordinary wisdom possessed by Solomon is rightly regarded as a type of the eternal Wisdom, or the Word Incarnate (cf. Col. 2:3).

2 KINGS 7:1–16

And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, he said to Nathan the prophet: “Dost thou see that I dwell in a house of cedar, and the ark of God is lodged within skins?” And Nathan said to the king: “Go do all that is in thy heart, because the Lord is with thee.” But it came to pass that night that the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: “Go and say to thy servant David:

Thus saith the Lord: Shalt thou build me a house to dwell in, whereas I have not dwelt in a house from the day that I brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt even to this day, but have walked in a tabernacle, and in a tent, in all the places that I have gone through with all the children of Israel? Did I ever speak a word to any one of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying: Why have you not built me a house of cedar? And now thus shalt thou speak to my servant David: Thus saith the Lord of hosts: I took thee out of the pastures from following the sheep to be ruler over my people Israel, and I have been with thee wheresoever thou hast walked, and have slain all thy enemies from before thy face, and I have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great ones that are on the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and I will plant them, and they shall dwell therein, and shall be disturbed no more, neither shall the children of iniquity afflict them any more as they did before, from the day that I appointed judges over my people Israel, and I will give thee rest from all thy enemies.

And the Lord foretelleth to thee

That the Lord will make thee a house;

And when thy days shall be fulfilled,

And thou shalt sleep with thy fathers,

I will raise up thy seed after thee

Which shall proceed out of thy womb,

I will establish his kingdom;

He shall build a house to my name,

And I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever;

I will be to him a father,

And he shall be to me a son;

And if he commit any iniquity,

I will correct him with the rod of men,

And with the stripes of the children of men.

But my mercy I will not take away from him,

As I took it from Saul,

Whom I removed from before my face.

And thy house shall be faithful,

And thy kingdom for ever before thy face,

And thy throne shall be firm for ever.”

According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak to David.

1. The following are, therefore, the Messianic characteristics predicted in Nathan’s prophecy: a. The Messias will be of David’s flesh and seed. b. He will be David’s heir. c. His reign will last for ever. d. He will surely come, however unfaithful the house of David may prove to be. e. He will be the natural son of God.

2. But it follows from the preceding paragraphs that not all these particulars could be understood from the prophecy unless God specially enlightened the mind of the reader or hearer. What David could naturally infer from Nathan’s words was that some kind of royal power would remain in his family for ever, or at least for a long space of time. In point of fact, however, the Holy Ghost seems to have enlightened David’s mind so that he understood also the Messianic reference clearly. This we conclude from Acts 2:30, 31; Ps. 15 (16):10; 71 (72); 44 (45):7.

Section II. The Son of David is the Prince of Pastors

Jer. 23:1–8.; cf. Jer. 33:14–26.

1. CONNECTION OF THE PROPHECY WITH ITS CONTEXT.—Jer. 21:11–23:8 forms an important group of prophecies. The divine judgments on the successive rulers who occupied in Jeremias’ day the throne of David are vividly described. An introductory statement is found in 21:11–14; then follows an admonition impressing upon the king the paramount importance of justice, 22:1–9; this part may be regarded as the fulfilment of Deut. 29:23 f.; next follow the special judgments on the individual kings. First Sellum (Shallum, the recompensed, who must be identified with Joachaz) will suffer perpetual banishment in Egypt, vv. 10–12; Joakim (Jehoiakim) will have an ignominious end, since his exactions strangely contrast with the just dealings of his father Josias, vv. 13–19; in the third place, Jechonias (Jehoiachin) will be banished to a foreign land, vv. 20–30.

After this follows the climax of the entire prophecy in 23:1–8: vv. 1–2 contain a denunciation of the faithless shepherds who have neglected and ruined their charge; but if thus the one part of 2 Kings 7:14 finds its fulfilment, God does not forget the favorable promise made to the house of David. Consequently, Jeremias closes with a promise of ultimate restoration, and a picture of the rule of the ideal king springing from Jesse’s seed, contrasting this rule point by point with the defects of his own contemporary kings, vv. 3–8. Such contrasts are noticeable between 22:13, 17 and 23:5b; 23:1–2 and 23:6a; 3:15 and 23:4. About the special meaning of the royal names in these prophecies commentators are not yet agreed; some of the more plausible explanations may be seen in Knabenbauer (In Jer., p. 283) and in Hengstenberg (Christology, Washington, 1839, iii. pp. 398 f.).

2. JER. 33:14–26 is parallel to Jer. 23:1–8; in fact, Driver calls it a mere repetition in a slightly varied form; Briggs (Messianic Prophecy, p. 244) says: “These [prophecies] are essentially the same, and yet they differ in certain important particulars, showing that the second passage is an enlargement and an improvement upon the first.” The principal difficulty arising in connection with the second passage is the doubt concerning its authenticity. The doubt has its foundation in the fact that a. the second passage is wanting in the LXX., and b. that parts of the passage are a mere repetition of previous prophecies; thus vv. 14, 15, 16 are nearly the same as Jer. 23:5, 6; vv. 20–22 are almost identical with 31:35–37; vv. 25, 26 are apparently taken from the same place.

It is on this account that J. D. Michaelis, Jahn, Hitzig, Movers, and Scholz reject the authenticity of Jer. 33:14–26. Catholic authors generally, and among non-Catholics, Küper, Hengstenberg, Ewald, Graf, Keil, and Smith defend the authenticity of our passage. As to its absence from the LXX. version, a. it may be owing to an accident, or b. the Hebrew copy from which the version was made may have accidentally lacked the passage. c. Hengstenberg is of opinion that its absence from the LXX. proves only that even at such an early date there were scholars who had as little critical judgment as those learned men of our day manifest who reject the passage as unauthentic (cf. Knabenbauer, in Jer., p. 421; Hengstenberg, “Christology,” Washington, 1839, iii. p. 445; Briggs, “Messianic Prophecy,” p. 244, etc.).

3. SUBJECT OF THE PROPHECY.—The principal subject of the prophecy is determined by the meaning of the “pastors” in v. 4, of the “just branch” in v. 5, and of the “Lord our just one” in v. 6. a. Venema agrees with several scholars preceding him in explaining v. 4 as referring to the time of the Machabees. But it must be granted that according to the context the “pastors” will be connected with “the just branch” of David; now the Machabees did not belong to David’s royal family. b. The same reasoning holds with regard to Grotius’ opinion according to which the “pastors” refer to Esdras and Nehemias. c. The explanation according to which Zorobabel is spoken of in the fourth verse is, at least, incomplete; it is, however, defended by St. Ephrem, Theodor., Calmet, Reinke, Sanct., etc. Hengstenberg endeavors to exclude this interpretation for two reasons: First, the subject spoken of in verse 4 must be identified with the “just branch” mentioned in the fifth verse; now the latter can hardly be identified with Zorobabel. Secondly, if Zorobabel were spoken of in the fourth verse. Jeremias would describe the Israelite salvation by degrees; but such a gradual development of salvation is unknown in the prophet Jeremias (cf. Hengst., iii. p. 406). The fourth verse speaks about “pastors” in the plural, because the evil to which this particular good is opposed consisted of a series of individuals, or else because the opposing good is considered as a generic idea. d. The majority of Christian interpreters explain v. 4 as referring to the Messias (Mald., Mar., Lap., Men., Tir., Bade, Scholz, Schn., Hengst., etc.). α. The connection of the verse with the following β. the extent of the promises connected with the shepherds, γ. the New Testament passages representing the Messias as the good shepherd, and δ. the usual way in which Jeremias describes the Messianic salvation are so many proofs that the Messias is spoken of in the fourth verse. e. Still all this may be granted, and nevertheless the above-mentioned reference of the passage maintained, in so far as Zorobabel is truly a type of the future Messias. Such a view would remove most of the difficulties above stated, and would satisfy all exigencies of text and context.

Thus far we have supposed that the context of verse 4 refers to the Messias; this supposition must now be based on a solid foundation. Verse 5 supplies us several proofs for our position. a. The “branch” is a peculiarly Messianic title, as may be inferred from the dying words of David (2 Kings 23:3–5 Heb.), from Is. 4:2; Zach. 3:8; 6:12. Then, he who is here called “the branch” is named “David,” Jer. 30:9; “pastor,” Ezech. 34:23; “my servant David,” Ezech. 37:24 (cf. Os. 3:5; Mich. 5:1; Is. 11:1; Am. 9:12). b. The words “a king shall reign” bear a peculiarly Messianic reference. The restoration of the theocracy had been repeatedly promised, and the Davidic king was foretold in 2 Kings 7:14 and 2 Kings 23:3–5 (Heb.). c. The words “shall be wise” have also a Messianic bearing, as may be seen from Is. 11:2; 42:1; 52:13 (Heb.). d. Finally, the clause “and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” well agrees with the Messianic explanation of the whole passage. For similar attributes are predicated of the Messias in Is. 9:6, 7; 11:3 f.; 42:6; 49:6, 7 f.… David is therefore rightly considered as the type and the model of the Messias (2 Kings 8:15).

The Messianic reference of the whole passage is also confirmed by the sixth verse, where the name of the coming Saviour is given as “the Lord our just one,” or, as the Hebrew text reads,” the Lord our justice.” For though Scholz, Ewald, Graf, Naeg., Cheyne refer this name to Israel, their reason for doing so is by no means proof against all exceptions. It is true that in 33:16 Jeremias applies this name to Jerusalem, but this fact does not show that the prophet applies the name to Jerusalem wheresoever he uses it. a. As the context in which Jeremias employs this name differs in different passages, so may its application vary in various contexts. It is not at all improper that Jerusalem should be named “the Lord our justice,” since Jerusalem as the type of the Church represents the Messias’ mystical body. b. But in the present context, the opening clause shows unmistakably that the Messias himself is denoted by the name. For in the Hebrew text we read “in his days,” and not “in those days.” The pronoun “his” refers back, therefore, to the “branch” of the preceding verse. c. At the same time it is connected with the “him” of the sixth verse. Hence the “him” of verse 6 is identical with the “branch,” which we have shown to be a name of the Messias. And consequently, “the Lord our justice” is the name by which they shall call the Messias.

Finally, we must add a few Rabbinic testimonies to show that our interpretation of Jeremias’ prophecy agrees with that of the Synagogue. The Targum translates the clause of verse 5, “I will raise up to David a just branch,” by the words: “I will raise unto David the Messias the just.” The Talmud (Baba Bathra, 75b; Yalkut in loco) has the following comment on the sixth verse: “Rabbi Samuel, the son of Nachman, said in the name of Rabbi Jonathan: Three are called by the name of the Holy One, blessed be he! viz.: the just, the Messias, and Jerusalem. Of the just it is said: Every one that is called by my name (Is. 43:7). Of the Messias it is said: This is his name … And of Jerusalem it is written: And the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there” (Ezech. 48:35).

The Midrash on Lamentations 1:16 bears clear testimony for the Messianic character of our passage: “What is the name of the king Messias? Rabbi Abba, son of Kahana, said: Jehovah, for it is written: This is his name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness. Rabbi Levi said: Blessed is the city whose name is like the name of its king, and the name of its king like the name of his God. Blessed is the city whose name is like the name of its king; because it is written: And the name of the city from that day shall be ‘Jehovah is there’ (Ezech. 48:35); and the name of its king like the name of its God; for it is written: And this is his name whereby … Rabbi Joshua, son of Levi, said: Branch is the name of the Messias, for it is written: Behold the man whose name is Branch, and he shall grow out of his place. Rabbi Judan said, in the name of Rabbi Ibo: Comforter (Menachem) is his name; for it is written: The comforter is far from me (Lam. 1:16). Rabbi Hanina replied: There is no contradiction in the assertions of both; for Zemach and Menachem are equal in number” (cf. Midrash on Ps. 21:1; Prov. 19:21; Mechilta on Jer. 16:14).

The Talmud (Berachoth, fol. xii. col. ii.) has a similar testimony on Jer. 23:7, 8: “Ben-Zoma asked the wise men: Will mention be made of the Egyptian Exodus in the days of the Messias? Is it not said: The days come, saith the Lord …? They replied: The Egyptian Exodus will not lose its place altogether, but will only become secondary, in view of the liberation from the subjection to the other Gentile kingdoms.”

The Targum translates Jer. 33:15: “I will raise up unto David the Messias of justice,” instead of the common version: “I will make the bud of justice to spring forth unto David.” Hence the Messianic interpretation given by the Synagogue of the latter passage is beyond dispute.

JER. 23:1–8

Woe to the pastors that destroy and tear the sheep of my pasture,” saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord the God of Israel to the pastors that feed my people: “You have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold I will visit upon you for the evil of your doings,” saith the Lord.

And I will gather together the remnant of my flock, out of all the lands into which I have cast them out, and I will make them return to their own fields, and they shall increase and be multiplied.”

And I will set up pastors over them, and they shall feed them; they shall fear no more, and they shall not be dismayed, and none shall be wanting of their number,” saith the Lord.

Behold the days come,” saith the Lord, “and I will raise up to David a just branch; and a king shall reign, and shall be wise; and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In those days shall Juda be saved, and Israel shall dwell confidently; and this is the name that they shall call him: The Lord our just one.”

Therefore, behold the days come,” saith the Lord, “and they shall say no more: The Lord liveth who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but: The Lord liveth who hath brought out and hath brought hither the seed of the house of Israel from the north country, and out of all the lands, to which I had cast them forth; and they shall dwell in their own land.”

JER. 33:14–26

Behold, the days come,” saith the Lord, “that I will perform the good word that I have spoken to the house of Israel, and to the house of Juda. In those days and at that time, I will make the bud of justice to spring forth unto David, and he shall do judgment and justice in the earth. In those days shall Juda be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell securely, and this is the name that they shall call him: The Lord our just one.”

For thus saith the Lord: “There shall not be cut off from David a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel. Neither shall there be cut off from the priests and Levites a man before my face, to offer holocausts, and to burn sacrifice, and to kill victims continually.”

And the word of the Lord came to Jeremias, saying: “Thus saith the Lord: if my covenant with the day can be made void, and my covenant with the night, that there should not be day and night in their season: then may also my covenant with David my servant be made void, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne, and with the Levites and priests my ministers. As the stars of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea be measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites my ministers.”

And the word of the Lord came to Jeremias, saying: “Hast thou not seen that this people hath spoken, saying: ‘The two families which the Lord had chosen are cast off,’ and they have despised my people, so that it is no more a nation before them?” Thus saith the Lord: “If I have not set my covenant between day and night, and laws to heaven and earth: then indeed I will also cast off the seed of Jacob, and of David my servant, so as not to take any of his seed to be rulers of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will bring back their captivity and will have mercy on them.”

1. The people of Israel is assured that whatever moral and political evils have befallen the theocracy on account of its faithless pastors the Lord himself will repair by means of faithful pastors and of the just and wise rule brought in by David’s branch. And since the latter was commonly identified with the Messias, it follows that Jeremias consoles the people with the Messianic hope, and thus strengthens it to bear patiently the evils of the coming exile.

2. Since David’s branch will be called “Jahveh our just one” many interpreters have looked upon this name as indicating the divine nature of the Messias. a. The question whether the subject of the clause “they shall call him” is indefinite (Jerome and the majority of commentators) or whether “the Lord” must be supplied (LXX.), is of no special weight either for or against the foregoing opinion. b. The opinion is more solidly supported by the fact that the Messias must be what he is named. But he is called “Jahveh our justice.” Hence he is “Jahveh our justice.” But the divine name Jahveh is incommunicable to creatures. Hence the Messias is God. Still, this argument is considerably weakened by the consideration that Jerusalem bears the same name in Jer. 33:16 (Heb.), and that the altars erected by Moses and Jacob have a divine name (Ex. 17:15 (Heb.); Gen. 33:20 (Heb.)). c. Nor is the argument that the preceding reason is valid because it rests on the name of a person strong enough to render the opinion in defence of which it is urged scientifically probable. For there are many proper and personal names in Hebrew which are etymologically composed of El or Jahveh, like the name “Jahveh our justice,” without on that account implying the divinity of the bearer. Joachaz, Joakim, Jechonias, Sedecias are only a few examples illustrating this fact. d. It is therefore safer to prove the divinity of the Messias from other passages of the Old Testament. That done, one may return to the name “Jahveh our justice,” and show that it contains a summary of the whole Messianic economy. It describes the Messias, considered absolutely, as gifted with all the treasures of divinity; and, from a relative point of view, it represents him as the fountain of all supernatural grace, since he is our justice.

3. The priests of whom Jeremias here speaks are not the descendants of Aaron according to the flesh (cf. Jer. 3:16; 31:32). In the same manner the prophet must be understood to speak about the pastors and princes as the moral offspring of David. Ps. 44:8 supposes that the Messias will have a number of companions in his work of redemption; and since the Messias is called David, king, the prince of pastors (Ezech. 34:23; 37:22, 24, 25), his companions are rightly designated sons of David. The Hebrew word for seed” bears such an interpretation, and the New Testament strictly agrees with it (Gal. 3:20; 1 Pet. 2:5; Apoc. 1:6; 5:10).

Section III. The Messias will spring from “the Marrow of the High Cedar”

Ezech. 17.

1. TIME AND OCCASION OF THE PROPHECY.—Nabuchodonosor, king of Babylon, had carried Jechonias (Joachin), the son of Joakim, to Babylon, after he had reigned only three months. Matthanias, Joachin’s uncle and son of Josias, was made King of Juda in place of his nephew; his name was changed to “Sedecias” on the occasion of his swearing fidelity to the king of Babylon. All this occurred in the eighth year of Nabuchodonosor’s reign. As early as the fourth year of Joakim’s reign the prophet Jeremias had commanded all to subject themselves to Nabuchodonosor (Jer. 25:11), signifying that only on this condition Jerusalem would be saved from ruin (Jer. 21:8; 38:2, 17, 18). But Sedecias and his princes trusted in Egypt, expecting freedom from the Babylonian yoke through an Egyptian alliance. The oath of fidelity was broken, and open hostility against Babylon was begun. In this manner they revolted not only against Babylon, but also, and especially, against God, disobeying his commands and profaning his name. Ezechiel’s prophecy is to be placed between the portion cc. 8–11, out of the sixth month of the sixth year, and c. 20, out of the fifth month of the seventh year, since the carrying away of Jechonias (599 B.C.). It was therefore spoken about five years before the destruction (c. 593 B.C.).

2. DIVISION OF THE PROPHECY.—The prophet describes in vv. 1–21 Sedecias’ disloyalty to his Babylonian masters, and the consequences which will result from it; in vv. 22–24 he gives us a glance at brighter days to come, and the restoration of the Davidic kingdom in the future. The first part contains in vv. 3–10 an allegory, which is explained and applied to the circumstances in vv. 11–21.

3. THE MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PASSAGE is proved in the Corollary.


And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel, and say: Thus saith God: A large eagle with great wings, long limbed, full of feathers, and of variety, came to Libanus, and took away the marrow of the cedar. He cropped off the top of the twigs thereof, and carried it away into the land of Chanaan, and he set it in a city of merchants. And he took of the seed of the land, and put it in the ground for seed, that it might take a firm root over many waters; he planted it on the surface of the earth. And it sprung up and grew into a spreading vine of low stature, and the branches thereof looked towards him, and the roots thereof were under him; so it became a vine, and grew into branches, and shot forth sprigs. And there was another large eagle, with great wings, and many feathers, and behold this vine, bending as it were her roots towards him, stretched forth her branches to him, that he might water it by the furrows of her plantation. It was planted in a good ground upon many waters, that it might bring forth branches, and bear fruit, that it might become a large vine. Say thou: Thus saith the Lord God: Shall it prosper then? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and strip off its fruit, and dry up all the branches it hath shot forth, and make it wither, and this without a strong arm, or many people, to pluck it up by the root? Behold, it is planted: shall it prosper then? Shall it not be dried up when the burning wind shall touch it, and shall it not wither in the furrows where it grew?”

And the Lord came to me, saying: “Say to the provoking house: Know you not what these things mean? Tell them: Behold the king of Babylon cometh to Jerusalem, and he shall take away the king and the princes thereof, and carry them with him to Babylon. And he shall take one of the king’s seed, and make a covenant with him, and take an oath of him, yea, and he shall take away the mighty men of the land, that it may be a low kingdom, and not lift itself up, but keep his covenant and observe it. But he hath revolted from him, and sent ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. And shall he that hath done thus prosper or be saved? and shall he escape that hath broken the covenant? As I live, saith the Lord God: In the place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he hath made void, and whose covenant he broke, even in the midst of Babylon shall he die. And not with a great army, nor with much people shall Pharao fight against him, when he shall cast up mounds and build forts to cut off many souls. For he hath despised the oath, breaking his covenant, and behold he hath given his hand: and having done all these things, he shall not escape.” Therefore, thus saith the Lord God: “As I live, I will lay upon his head the oath he hath despised, and the covenant he hath broken. And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my net, and I will bring him into Babylon, and will judge him there for the transgression by which he hath despised me. And all his fugitives with all his band shall fall by the sword, and the residue shall be scattered into every wind, and you shall know that I the Lord have spoken it.”

Thus saith the Lord God: “I myself will take of the marrow of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off a tender twig from the top of the branches thereof, and will plant it on a mountain high and eminent. On the high mountain of Israel will I plant it, and it shall shoot forth into branches, and shall bear fruit, and it shall become a great cedar, and all birds shall dwell under it, and every fowl shall make its nest under the shadow of the branches thereof. And all the trees of the country shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, and exalted the low tree, and have dried up the green tree, and have caused the dry tree to flourish. I the Lord have spoken and have done it.”

MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF EZECHIEL’S PROPHECY.—The Messianic nature of the present prophecy appears 1. from parallel Messianic predictions contained in the Old Testament. The figure of the twig may be compared with the figurative language in Am. 9:11; Isaias too uses similar metaphors when speaking of the Messias in 4:2; 11:1; 53:2; cf. 6:13. 2. The same follows in the second place from several passages which refer to the Messias in the New Testament. In St. Luke 1:32, 33 it is said that the Lord God will give Christ the throne of his father David, and that Christ will reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and that of his reign there will be no end. Then again we have several parables in which the kingdom of God is compared to the mustard-seed (Matt. 13:31; Mark 4:31; Luke 13:19). 3. The Targum distinctly and beautifully refers vv. 22, 23 to the Messias, so that the Jewish tradition agrees with our interpretation. 4. This reference of the passage to the Messias, drawn from extrinsic authority, is confirmed by the very extent of the promise. 5. We must notice especially the similarity between the description given of the vine in this passage and in Ps. 79; Mich. 4:6. Theodoret understands the words “on the high mountain of Israel will I plant it” as referring to Christ’s crucifixion on Golgotha (cf. Trochon, Ezech. pp. 121 ff.; Knab. in Ezech. c. xvii.; Hengst., “Christology,” iii. pp. 470 ff.; Briggs, “Messianic Prophecy,” p. 270; etc.).

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