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

1. THE PROPHECY AND ITS CONTEXT.—The chapter belongs to the second division of the Book of Isaias, forming the fourth canto of its third part. In the first canto, or chapter 58, the prophet proposes renovation of heart and mind as the way of reaching salvation. The second canto, ch. 59, repeating nearly the same lesson, contends that sin alone impedes the advent of the divine kingdom which God himself will restore since man cannot. In the third canto, ch. 60, he describes God’s kingdom by pointing to the glory of Jerusalem, over which God’s splendor will rise, attracting thither all the nations of the earth. In the fourth canto the Messias is represented as the one who will lift up Jerusalem to its glory, and lay the foundations of a theocracy. The Messias himself explains to whom he is to bring salvation, and how its benefits may be shared.

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. According to the Chaldee version Isaias himself is the subject of chapter 61, for it adds: “the prophet said.” St. Thomas (Schegg, Loch, Calmet) is of opinion that either Christ or the prophet is the subject of the chapter; while the greater number of non-Catholic interpreters regard the prophet as the subject of the prophecy. In point of fact, vv. 1, 2 contain nothing that might not be predicated of a prophet.

b. Verse 3 settles the question as to the subject of the chapter; for in it salvation is no longer predicted but has effectually come to pass. A mere prophet might foretell but could not effect Messianic salvation, which is peculiar to the Messias alone. That the Messias is the subject of the predictions follows also from the connection of ch. 61 with the preceding ones, so that the possibility of a mere prophetic reference is excluded. Again, in the fourth verse we have various predictions that are repetitions of preceding Messianic prophecies. And since these predictions have reference to the time of the Messias, it follows that we cannot interpret ch. 61 as referring literally to Isaias and the return from the captivity, and only typically to Christ.

c. The New Testament, also, supposes the Messianic reference of the prophecy, since, according to Luke 4:21, Christ himself says: “This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears.”

d. The testimonies of the Fathers regarding the Messianic reference of this prophecy may be seen in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica (ed. Tailhan, i. p. 390); St. Ephrem should have been added to the number of witnesses, for he gives only a Messianic explanation of the chapter.

e. Jewish tradition, too, explains the chapter as having a Messianic meaning. Yalkut on Ex. 12:48 reads: “A teacher of Elias’s school said: Once I went from place to place, and I found an old man who said to me: What will become of the nations of the world in the days of the Messias? I said to him: My son, every nation and every kingdom that hath persecuted and mocked Israel shall see the blessing of Israel, and shall return to their dust and have no share in life; for it is said: The wicked shall see it and be grieved (Ps. 112:10). But every nation and every kingdom that did not persecute and mock Israel will come in the days of the Messias; for it is said: And strangers shall stand and shall feed your flocks, and … (Is. 61:5, 6).”

The following passage of the Pesikta (ed. Buber), p. 149, col. 1, refers to our prophecy: “He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation (Is. 61:10). There are seven garments which the Holy One, blessed be his name! has put on since the world began, or will put on before the hour when he will visit with his wrath the godless Edom. When he created the world, he clothed himself in honor and glory; for it is said: Thou art clothed with honor and glory (Ps. 104:1). When he showed himself at the Red Sea, he clothed himself in majesty; for it is said: The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty (Ps. 93:1). When he gave the law, he clothed himself with might; for it is said: Jehovah is clothed with might, wherewith he hath girded himself (Ps. 93:1). As often as he forgave Israel its sins, he clothed himself in white; for it is said: His garment was white as snow (Dan. 7:9). When he punishes the nations of the world, he puts on the garments of vengeance, as it is said: He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak (Is. 59:17). He will put on the sixth robe when the Messias is revealed. Then will he clothe himself in righteousness; for it is said: For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation on his head (ibid.). He will put on the seventh robe when he punishes Edom. Then will he clothe himself in red; for it is said: Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel? (Is. 63:2) But the robes with which he will clothe the Messias will shine from one end of the world to the other; for it is said: As a bridegroom decked with a crown (Is. 61:10). And the sons of Israel will rejoice in his light, and will say: Blessed be the hour when the Messias was born; blessed the womb which bore him; blessed the eyes that were counted worthy to see him. For the opening of his lips is blessing and peace; his speech is rest to the soul; the thoughts of his heart are confidence and joy; the speech of his lips is pardon and forgiveness; his prayer is like the sweet-smelling savor of a sacrifice; his supplications are holiness and purity. O how blessed is Israel, for whom such a lot is reserved; for it is said: How great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee (Ps. 31:19).” Cf. Reinke, Mess. Weissagungen, ii. p. 294; Galatinus, de arcanis cath. veritatis, lib. ii. cap. vi. p. 61, ed. Basil. 1550; Barheb; Hebraica, vol. iv. pp. 49, 50.

IS. 61

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me; he hath sent me to preach to the meek, to heal the contrite of heart, and to preach a release to the captives, and deliverance to them that are shut up; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint to the mourners of Sion, and to give them a crown for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of grief; and they shall be called in it the mighty ones of justice, the planting of the Lord to glorify him.

And they shall build the places that have been waste from of old, and shall raise up ancient ruins, and shall repair the desolate cities, that were destroyed for generation and generation. And strangers shall stand and shall feed your flocks, and the sons of strangers shall be your husbandmen, and the dressers of your vines. But you shall be called the priests of the Lord; to you it shall be said: Ye ministers of our God; you shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and you shall pride yourselves in their glory. For your double confusion and shame, they shall praise their part; therefore shall they receive double in their land, everlasting joy shall be unto them. For I am the Lord that love judgment, and hate robbery in a holocaust; and I will make their work in truth, and I will make a perpetual covenant with them. And they shall know their seed among the Gentiles, and their offspring in the midst of people; all that shall see them shall know them, that these are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, and with the robe of justice he hath covered me, as a bridegroom decked with a crown, and as a bride adorned with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth her seed to shoot forth, so shall the Lord God make justice to spring forth, and praise before all the nations.

a. It follows from the present passage that only those that mourn with the afflicted people of God will receive the benefits of the Messianic blessings. Those who are happy and satisfied in the midst of the Babylonian captivity or of the inferior condition of the chosen people are not mentioned among the sharers of future happiness.

b. Moreover, holy Simeon’s words (Luke 2:34), “this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel,” find their exact parallel in Isaias’ words: “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.”








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