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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 first address of Deuteronomy (1:6–4:40) recalls the benefits of God to the Israelites. The second address of the inspired writer (5:1–26:19) repeats the whole economy of the Old Testament, first dwelling on its general obligations (5:1–11:32), and then proposing them singly (12:1–26:19). In this latter portion we have again first the obligations towards God (12:1–16:17), then those towards God’s representatives (16:18–18:22), and thirdly those towards our neighbor (19:1–22:30), followed by a few particular precepts concerning legal cleanness and sanctity. The third address finally proposes motives why the people should be faithful and obedient to God.

It is plain that our prophecy is contained in the part which contains the national obligations towards God’s representatives. But here again we have first the obligations towards the judges and future kings (16:18–17:20); then those towards the priests (18:1–8); and thirdly those towards the prophets (18:9–22). The prophecy now under consideration coincides with this last section of Deuteronomy.

2. FALSE EXPLANATIONS.—a. The prophet here predicted is Josue alone (Bechai, Rashi, Aben-Ezra, and some Jewish writers at the time of St. Augustine; cf. c. Faust. xvi. 19). But God had raised up Josue before the time at which Moses predicted the coming prophet (Num. 27:18–23).

b. The prophet here promised is the whole series of prophets, not including the Messias (Solomon Jarchi, Moses Maimonides, and a number of more recent Jewish writers). This opinion is antecedently improbable, because it supposes that the greatest of the prophets, whose spirit worked in all the other prophets, is not to be numbered among them (cf. 1 Pet. 1:11).

c. It may be of interest to note the position of Baldensperger (Das Selbstbewusstsein Jesu, pp. 138 ff.) on the question whether Moses is a type of the Messias, or rather whether the ancient Synagogue considered the Messias as a prophet like unto Moses. First, the author points to John 1:20, 21 (cf. John 7:40, 41), insisting on the distinction which the Jewish messengers make between the prophet and the Messias. Besides, neither the Book of Enoch nor the Book of Jubilees represents the Messias anyway like Moses; in the “Assumptio Mosis,” where we most expect an approach between the prophet and the Messias, the passage from Deuteronomy simply refers to Josue (1:5–7). But it is strange how a man of Baldensperger’s ability can be so wrapt up in a favorite idea as to neglect, or perhaps purposely omit, those considerations that oppose his theory most effectually. He indeed refers to John 6:15, where the people endeavor to make Jesus their king, but explains it as a momentary impulse. Why does the writer omit the rest of the chapter (vv. 30, ff.), where the people compare the Messias with Moses in so many words: “What sign therefore dost thou show that we may see, and may believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat …”? Nor does the author sufficiently explain Josephus’ account concerning Theudas (Antiq. XX. v. 1; cf. Acts 5:36), and the Egyptian (Antiq. XX. viii. 6; cf. B. J. II. xiii. 5; Acts 21:38). For to answer that these facts do not refer to the pre-Christian period, or that those leaders intended only to begin the Messianic movement, expecting God or the Messias himself to interpose his power suddenly according to the needs of the circumstances, or, finally, that the resemblance of these pseudo-Christs is only outward, consisting in miracles rather than an exercise of legislative power, is to acknowledge the weakness of one’s cause. For how can we imagine that those false Christs should have urged their claims to the Messiasship by peculiarities which had been ascribed to the Messias by the sect of the Christians? Had not the Synagogue’s tradition acknowledged the necessity of the given characteristics in the person of the Messias, those deceivers would never have dared to make them the marks of their Messianic claims. If Baldensperger supposes that Theudas and the Egyptian did not intend to claim the Messiasship for themselves, but prepared the way for another Messias, he proceeds not only gratuitously, but against the clear report of the Acts and of Josephus. As to the legislative character which is wanting in the pseudo-Christs and is present in the type, it must be remembered that both Theudas and the Egyptian were only deceivers, and cannot, therefore, be expected to resemble Moses in everything. But they surely did resemble him in those characteristics on the strength of which they claimed the Messiasship. Baldensperger’s position is still more weakened by the instances of Simon Magus and the Samaritan Dositheus.

What the author alleges about the Rabbinic development of the similarity between the Messias and Moses is another strong proof against his position. For whether the Synagogue expected the Messias to be like Moses, or to be a prophet like Moses, in either case Moses is the Messianic type. And what greater folly could the Rabbinic writers have committed than to grant that Moses is according to the Old Testament a Messianic type, if this was not the teaching of the Jews before the time of Jesus? Besides, the points in which the Synagogue has found or established a similarity between the Messias and Moses do not substantiate Baldensperger’s contention. α. In accordance with the education of Moses, the Messias will be born in a royal palace in Bethlehem, and will be concealed (Jer. Ber. II. 4). β. In memory of the flight of Moses the Messias appears, disappears, and reappears; the time of the disappearance is to last 45 days, according to Dan. 12:11, 12 (Midr. Ruth, ii. 4). γ. The Messias is the second redeemer, the Saviour (Goel), and resembles in his deeds the first redeemer (Jalk. ii. 54 c.; cf. Ps. 72:8; Midr. Kohelet i. 9). As the first redeemer placed his wife and children on an ass, so will the second redeemer ride upon an ass (Zach. 9:9). As the former brought down manna from heaven, and caused water to issue from the rock, so will the latter perform similar prodigies (Keth. 111 b. according to Ps. 72:16; Joel 3:18).

Whatever may be the opinion of Baldensperger, Christians were right in drawing from the earliest period attention to the striking similarity between Moses and Jesus Christ. This was done by the holy deacon St. Stephen (Acts 7:37, and passim), and by St. John (1:46; 3:14; 5:46; 6:32, etc.). The number forty is characteristic in the life of both Moses and Jesus (Acts 7:23, 30); there are seventy disciples in the gospels (Luke 10), and seventy ancients in the history of Moses. The number seventy may here allude to the universality of the nations, for according to Jewish belief the nations of the earth are seventy in all (Jalk. i. p. 215 c.); even Solomon made seventy candlesticks, because he reigned over seventy nations (cf. Edersheim, ii. p. 136). A resemblance between Moses and Jesus Christ we find also in the history of the transfiguration, especially in the closing words of the address (Mark 9:7), in the two Messianic witnesses (Apoc. 11), in the brilliancy of the face (Midr. II. Kings. xxiii. 4; Ber. R. xii. after Jud. 5:31; Philo, de vita Mosis, iii. 2), in the seven tents which God produces for the Messias (Jalk. ii. p, 56 d), in the words concerning the sorrows of the Messias (cf. the last-cited passage with Mark 9:12). In point of fact, when there is question of the transfiguration and of the miracles accompanying the miraculous increase of bread, Baldensperger freely grants that these particulars were not transferred from Christian theology into the Jewish Messianic doctrine, but originated in the pre-Christian principle (Mich. 7:15) that in the Messianic days the miracles of the Exodus will be repeated (Mechilta Jer. xvi. 14; Tanch. Deut. 99 a; Midr. Ps. cviii. 23; Jalk. ii. 112 b; Midr. Koh. i. 9). Arguments of this kind belong rather to the land of dreams than to the domain of reason. We must not omit the parallel between the birth of the Messias and that of Moses. It is true that the place of Christ’s birth was predicted by Micheas, his flight into Egypt was prophesied by Osee; but at the same time we must acknowledge a striking resemblance in Jesus’ birth to that of the great Hebrew leader. Josephus (Ant. II. ix. 2 f.) speaks of a prophecy given to Pharao concerning the birth of the Israelite redeemer, and of a visionary dream granted to Amram; the Book of Jubilees mentions repeatedly fathers and mothers who foresee and predict the future of their children; Sota (xii. a; Jalk. i. 51 c; cf. Edersheim, i. p. 186) establishes the virginity of Moses’ mother and his father’s sinlessness. Josephus (l. c.) mentions the easy bringing forth of Jochebed, and in Shem. Rab. (45) Moses’ mother is declared to be blessed. To say with Baldensperger that the Christian account of Jesus’ birth is only an attempt to outdo the history of Moses’ nativity, is to acknowledge the parallelism of the accounts and also the impossibility of explaining them naturally.

3. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. The Messianic reference of the prophecy is clear from the New Testament; in Acts 3:22, 23, St. Peter applies the passage explicitly to Jesus Christ. In Acts 7:37, St. Stephen explains the text in the same manner. In Acts 10:43, St. Peter again says: “To him all the prophets give testimony;” now, on the one hand, Moses is evidently a prophet (Deut. 34:10; Num. 12:6–8), and, on the other, Moses does not give testimony to Jesus expressly except in Deut. 18:9–22. The Messianic reference of the prophecy may be indirectly proved from John 1:45; 5:45; 4:25; etc.

b. The principal references to the patristic authorities concerning the Deuteronomic passage may be found in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, i. p. 111 f. St. Jerome has an explanation of the prophecy according to which it applies to the series of prophets; he does not, however, exclude its reference to the Messias, though he is silent about it.

c. The Jewish testimonies favoring the Messianic reference of the passage have been given in the preceding number, where there was question of Baldensperger’s theory.

4. IN WHAT SENSE IS THE PROPHECY MESSIANIC?—a. In its literal sense; because: α. Throughout the prophecy there is question of “the prophet” in the singular number; hence the literal meaning of the passage refers to the one great prophet, the Messias. β. The prophet is to be like unto Moses; now Moses was not only a prophet, but also a legislator. Hence the prophet foretold must be both prophet and legislator, which is verified in Jesus Christ alone. γ. The Jews understood the prophecy as referring literally to one person: John 6:14; 7:40; 1:19–21; Matt. 21:11; 1:45; cf. John 1:49; Luke 7:16; John 9:17; Luke 24:19; Matt. 17:5). The Samaritan tradition agrees with the Jewish on this point, as is clear from John 4:25. For, on the one hand, the Samaritans admitted only the Pentateuch, and, on the other, the woman at the well declared distinctly her expectation of the Messias who was to make known everything to the Samaritans. The Clementine Recognitions (I. 54) explicitly state: “The Samaritans expect only one true prophet according to the prediction of Moses, and they have been prevented by the wickedness of Dositheus from believing that Jesus is he whom they expect.” The same belief appears to exist among the Samaritans of our day. For when Sylvestre de Sacy asked the head rabbi of the Samaritans, Shalma-ben-Tabia, who resides at Naplous, about the meaning of the prophecy of Moses, that dignitary answered: “What you state about the prophet Hathab (the Messias) is as you say; Jehovah said to Moses: I will raise them up a prophet out of the midst of their brethren like to thee. Great is the mystery of the Hathab who is to come.” The same Shalma when asked in 1853 A.D. by Bargès whether the Samaritans, like the Jews, expected a Messias, answered immediately: “Certainly; and our hope will not be confounded, since it is based on the promise of the Lord, who said to Moses: I will raise them up a prophet out of the midst of their brethren like to thee; and I will put my words in his mouth and he shall speak all that I shall command him.” At the same time, the rabbi pointed with his hand to the passage in Deuteronomy which he read aloud (cf. Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque du Roi, t. xii. pp. 29, 30; Bargès, Les Samaritains de Naplouse, pp. 89, 90).

b. The prophecy of Moses is Messianic only in a typical sense, its literal sense referring to the whole series of the prophets; at least, the prophecy is not exclusively Messianic in its literal sense. Reasons: α. The arrangement of the whole book requires that in the passage now under discussion there should be question of the whole series of prophets. For the inspired writer speaks first of our duties towards God, then of our obligations towards the ministers of God (judges, kings, priests, prophets), and finally of our duties towards our neighbor. Now this order is destroyed if we suppose that instead of the prophets we must understand the Messias. β. The same conclusion as to the meaning of the prophecy may be drawn from the immediate context of the passage. On the one hand, the fact that the Lord will raise up from among the people a prophet like Moses is assigned as the reason why they should not consult soothsayers and fortune-tellers; and on the other hand, this prophet is represented as the one whom the Israelites on Horeb had asked for. Now, the people on Horeb had not asked for the Messias alone; and the coming of the Messias would not have been a valid reason for not consulting diviners and soothsayers after the manner of the Gentiles. The criterion, too, which the inspired writer gives for distinguishing between the true and the false prophet is not applicable to the Messias only, but has been actually appealed to by several of the prophets; and if this criterion had fitted the Messias alone, the Israelites should have taken the first prophet in whom it was verified—and it was verified in the case of every true prophet—for the promised Messias. The immediate context of the Deuteronomic prophecy points therefore to its application to the whole series of prophets. γ. The description of the promised prophet well agrees with what we know of the Israelite prophets, of their divine election, of their influence on the life of the Hebrews, political, religious, and social, of their legislative authority, and, in fine, of their whole official character in the synagogue.

c. If we compare the arguments for the former with those for the latter view, we find that, on the whole, the former are of less weight than the latter. It is true that attempts have been variously made to answer the latter, but they are so futile that they are hardly worth repeating. All answers worthy of the name are only partial solutions and destroy the order of the Book of Deuteronomy, by maintaining that vv. 15–19 do not form one continuous text with the preceding verses, or that the argument for not consulting soothsayers and diviners is taken from the dignity of the prophet promised, not from the continual presence of a divinely-appointed representative of God (Patrizi, Bade). The reasons advanced for the former view admit of a more satisfactory answer. In Hebrew the singular number is often used collectively, so that “the prophet,” too, may be taken in a collective sense (Gen. 1:26; Ps. 36 (37):7; Deut. 17:14–20; Dan. 9:24; etc.). The other Hebrew prophets, too, had really legislative power, so that in this particular point they resembled Moses. The fact that the Jews at the time of Jesus Christ understood the prophecy as referring to a single person does not prove much; at most it may be inferred that at that particular time they expected another prophet for whom they had waited as long as four centuries. Even at the time of the Machabees they had laid aside the stones of the polluted altar in order to learn from the next prophet what they should do with them. The question asked according to St. John by the embassy from Jerusalem shows clearly that the prophet whom the Jews expected was not identical with the Messias. The tradition of the Samaritans is of too recent date to decide the particular manner in which the Deuteronomic prophecy refers to the Messias. Since they do not acknowledge a typical sense, and since the prophets among them have been extinct too long to allow any special reference to them, it is but natural that we find among the Samaritans a tradition maintaining the literal application of the text to the Messias.

d. The other arguments which are urged for the Messianic character of the prophecy do not necessitate its exclusively literal reference to the Messias. The passages of the New Testament require only that Christ should be comprehended in the series of prophets predicted. As to the Fathers, their testimonies are not at one concerning the sense in which the prophecy is Messianic: a number of them appeal to the prophecy in order to show that entire obedience is due to Jesus Christ without on that account necessarily excluding a prophetic reference to the other prophets; a few clearly contend that the prophecy refers to Jesus Christ alone; others explain the passage typically of Christ (Clem. of Alex., Ven. Bede, St. Augustine); others, again, explain the prediction of Jesus Christ in so far as he is contained in the series of prophets (Euseb., Jerome, Origen, Theodoret, Walaf. Strabus). Cf. Cornely, Introd. II. ii. p. 279. As to the later authorities, the prophecy is applied to Christ alone by the “glossa interlinearis,” by Burgensis, Cajetan, Joseph a Costa, Estius, Patrizi, Bade, Corluy, etc.; Christ, together with the other prophets, has been found in the Deuteronomic passage by St. Bruno, Albertus Magnus, Card. Hugo, Nicholas de Lyra, Dionysius the Carthusian, Alphonso Tostado, Bonfrère, a Lapide, Menochius, Tirinus, Frassen, Gordon, Calmet, Allioli, Reinke, Loch, Reischl, Meignan, Bisping, Scholz, Knabenbauer, de Hummelauer, Cornely, etc.; Vatable and Sa apply the prophecy to Josue and to Christ, but this view has not been adopted by any of the modern commentators. It follows, therefore, that whether we follow intrinsic or extrinsic evidence, the Deuteronomic prophecy applies to the whole series of prophets in such a manner as to include Jesus Christ as their head and master.

DEUT. 18:9–22

When thou art come into the land, which the Lord thy God shall give thee, beware lest thou have a mind to imitate the abominations of those nations. Neither let there be found among you any one that shall expiate his son or daughter, making them to pass through the fire; or that consulteth soothsayers, or observeth dreams and omens, neither let there be any wizard, nor charmer, nor any one that consulteth pythonic spirits, or fortunetellers or that seeketh the truth from the dead. For the Lord abhorreth all these things, and for these abominations he will destroy them at thy coming; thou shalt be perfect and without spot before the Lord thy God. These nations whose land thou shalt possess hearken to soothsayers and diviners: but thou art otherwise instructed by the Lord thy God. The Lord thy God will raise up to thee a prophet of thy nation and of thy brethren like unto me; him thou shalt hear; as thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the assembly was gathered together, and saidst: Let me not hear any more the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see any more this exceeding great fire, lest I die. And the Lord said to me, They have spoken all things well. I will raise them up a prophet out of the midst of their brethren like to thee, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak all that I shall command him; and he that will not hear his words, which he shall speak in my name, I will be the revenger. But the prophet who being corrupted with pride shall speak in my name things that I did not command him to say, or in the name of strange gods, shall be slain. And if in silent thought thou answer: How shall I know the word, that the Lord hath not spoken? thou shalt have this sign: Whatsoever that same prophet foretelleth in the name of the Lord, and it cometh not to pass, that thing the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath forged it by the pride of his mind, and therefore thou shalt not fear him.

1. Moses predicts the prophetic office of the Messias, his Hebrew birth, his fulness of the divine communications, his faithful discharge of the teaching office, his office of promulgating the new covenant, and the duty of all men to listen to his voice and to follow his instruction.

2. The question whether Moses himself had consciously in view the person in whom his prediction would find its ultimate fulfilment has really little or nothing to do with the interpretation of the passage. What is true of all prophetic prediction may be true of the present prophecy; as other prophets do not always fully understand their prophetic utterances, so may Moses have been in doubt or ignorance concerning the full import of his inspired words. On the other hand, we express this view as a mere possibility, not as a probability. For though the great Hebrew leader was obliged to accommodate himself in his words to the rude state of his nation, we know that he himself was admitted to the closest intimacy with his God and Creator, and was instructed in mysteries such as few even of the Christian saints have been privileged to see.

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