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

Section I. A Priest Forever

Ps. 109 (110)

1. STRUCTURE OF THE PSALM.—The psalm consists, according to Prof. Bickell’s analysis, of six stanzas of four verses each. The even verses are pentasyllabic, the uneven are heptasyllabic. The movement is iambic. The psalmist hears the word of Jehovah addressed to a king to be seated near him on his war-chariot (v. 1). The king immediately complies with Jehovah’s invitation, and with a mighty sceptre in his hand, accompanied by numerous associates, he proceeds against his enemies (vv. 2, 3). Jehovah then declares that the king is also priest; the latter battles successfully against his enemies, and after refreshing himself with a drink from the spring near the wayside he pursues them into their own territory (vv. 3, ff.). According to Le Hir: a. The words of Jehovah (v. 1); b. Address to the king (vv. 2–4); c. Address to Jehovah (vv. 5–7).

2. AUTHOR OF THE PSALM.—The author of the psalm is David. Reasons: a. According to Matt. 22:43–45 Jesus himself testifies that David in spirit spoke of the Messias in the psalm. Cf. Luke 20:41–44; Mark 12:35–37. In Acts 2:34 St. Peter bears witness that David composed the psalm: “For David ascended not into heaven, but he himself said: The Lord said to my Lord …” b. The title of the psalm gives testimony to the same effect, for it reads, “a psalm of David,” the preposition in the Hebrew text usually signifying authorship. It is true that in the Arabic the name David is missing in the title, and that the LXX. version with its derivatives renders the title “a psalm about David,” not “a psalm of David.” But St. Jerome, the Chaldee version, and the Syriac are perfectly clear in their rendering of the title, assigning the psalm to David as its author. Those who contend in our days that David is not the author do so because they oppose the Messianic bearing of the psalm.

3. NON-MESSIANIC EXPLANATIONS OF THE PSALM.—a. It treats of Abraham and his victories over his enemies (Jarchi, Talmud tract. Nedarim, Midrash Tehillim, Abendana). But the title of the psalm, the tradition regarding its authorship, and the history of Abraham are against this opinion. For Abraham had no such part in the theocracy as v. 1 ascribes to the king in the psalm; Sion had not entered into the Jewish history at the time of Abraham, yet it appears in v. 2; in Abraham’s time the brightness of the saints (the adorned apparel of the chosen warriors) was not yet known, and still it appears in v. 3. The hero-king of the psalm is both king and priest, and still Abraham pays tithes to Melchisedech (Gen. 14:18–21).

b. The psalm refers to David (Chald., Solomon ben Melech, Ilgen, Friedländer, Ewald, Maurer, etc.). Aben-Ezra refers the psalm to David’s war against the Philistines (2 Kings 21:15–17); Mendelsohn sees in the psalm an allusion to David’s history as told in 2 Kings 11 and 12:27 ff.; Paulus and Ilgen are of nearly the same opinion as Mendelsohn, their chief reason being the name “Rabba” which occurs in v. 6, and which is according to them the capital of the Ammonites. This opinion is wholly unfounded. David never figured as a priest in Hebrew history, while the king of the psalm is a priest for ever (v. 4). The contents of v. 1 too are not applicable to David. For though the verb “yashab” may have the meaning “to remain” (2 Kings 2:2, 4, 6; Jud. 6:18; Os. 3:3; cf. the Greek καθίζειν in Luke 24:49; Acts 18:1), that meaning hardly fits into the context of v. 1. Why should the king be seated quietly at the right of Jehovah, in his war-chariot, until God had subdued his enemies? This would be unworthy of the king, and opposed to the ordinary providence of God. The same reasons are against the opinion that the psalm applies to David during the time of Absalom’s rebellion (cf. Gabler’s Theol. Journal, Bd. viii. p. 536 ff.), or that it refers to Solomon the peaceful ruler of Israel, or to Zorobabel (Chrysost.), who was neither king, hero, nor priest, or to Ezechias (Borhek, St. Ambrose, several Jews who lived at the time of St. Justin, and Tertullian), who gained the victory over the Assyrian armies without any exertion on his part (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Par. 32:21–23; Is. 37:36; Tob. 1:21), or to the Machabean prince Jonathan (Hitzig, 1 Mach. 10:21), or to the angel guardian of David, who is neither priest nor human hero.

c. The psalm refers to king Ozias wishing to offer incense in the Temple, prevented by the priests from doing so, and struck with leprosy for his bold attempt (2 Par. 26:16 ff.). This fact supposes, according to de Wette, a previous struggle between the priesthood and the king, in which the question must have been discussed whether the king could claim the sacerdotal rights. A partisan of the royal party must, therefore, have composed this psalm in order to show the divine right of the Hebrew king to the priestly dignity. But this view must, in the first place, disregard the title of the psalm; then, it does not appear how, according to this assumption, the psalm could have been received among the inspired writings of the Hebrews. Besides, the whole hypothesis is at best only an ingenious conjecture.

d. General arguments against the Messianic explanation of the psalm. 1. At the time of David and Solomon the Messianic idea was not sufficiently developed to admit the reference of the psalm to the Messias. Yet we find several of the Messianic ideas contained in the psalm, in the books of Moses, or at least in Pss. 2 and 72, and in 2 Kings 23, which latter pieces belong to the time of David and Solomon. 2. The psalmist speaks in the song to a contemporary, hence does not address the Messias. But the prophets frequently speak of future things as if they were present, owing to the circumstance that they see them actually present in their prophetic visions (cf. Is. 7:14; 9; 11). In the present psalm it is evident that David speaks of the future, since he calls another king his Lord. 3. A Messias who was both priest and king has never appeared; hence the psalm cannot be taken in a Messianic sense.—There can be no difficulty about the priesthood of Jesus; only his royal dignity is denied him by our opponents. We refer them to John 18:35–38, where Jesus himself explains to Pilate the nature of his royal dignity. Driver, in his “Literature of the Old Testament” (p. 362, note), has added the following difficulties. 4. Adoni (my lord) is commonly used in addressing the Israelite king. But the learned author surely cannot deny that the Messias was eminently the theocratic king. 5. Messianic prophecies have regularly as their point of departure some institution of the Jewish theocracy—the king, the prophet, the people (Is. 42:1, etc.), the high-priest, the temple (Is. 28:16); the supposition that David is here speaking and addressing a superior who stands in no relation to existing institutions, is not indeed impossible (for we have no right to limit absolutely the range of prophetic vision), but it is contrary to the analogy of prophecy.—We have noticed already that at the time of David prophetic writings existed or came into existence in which the Messias is exhibited under nearly the same aspect under which we see him in the present psalm. As to the principle enounced by Driver, the leading Messianic characteristics of the psalm are the priesthood and the royal dignity; now both existed at David’s time, so that the prophet could take his point of departure from them. 6. The correctness of this reasoning, Prof. Driver says, is strongly confirmed by vv. 3, 5–7, where the subject of the psalm is actually depicted, not as a spiritual superior, but as a victorious Israelite monarch, triumphing through Jehovah’s help over earthly foes.—It is strange indeed that the Professor can almost in the same breath advance two objections, one of which answers the other. Have we not been told a moment ago by the learned author that the prophets commonly take their point of departure from some existing theocratic institution? and must they not in the same manner take their departure from some tangible fact of sense in order to be understood by their readers or hearers? The psalmist, therefore, taking his starting-point from the semblance of a successful warrior, depicts the Messianic hero in all the glory of his spiritual conquests. 7. To do justice to Prof. Driver we must add, that he continues his dissertation by telling his readers that “the psalm is Messianic in the same sense that Ps. 2 is: it depicts the ideal glory of the theocratic king, who receives from a prophet … the twofold solemn promise of victory over his foes [and] of a perpetual priesthood …” Prof. Cheyne (p. 301) speaks in the same manner: “Its [the psalm’s] historical interpretation is correspondingly difficult; nor have I space to discuss rival hypotheses. To me it appears like an imitation of Ps. 2; but I am not positive that we can follow the analogy of that psalm in our interpretation.”

4. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PSALM.—All Christians hold it for certain that the psalm refers to the Messias. Reasons: a. The New Testament testifies that the psalm is Messianic. According to Matt. 22:42–46, and Luke 20:41–46, Jesus himself in presence of the Pharisees testified that David had in this psalm called the Messias his lord, and none of his enemies dared to contradict this statement of the Saviour. In Heb. 7:17 St. Paul testifies that the words of the psalm “thou art a priest for ever …” had been spoken about Christ. The same apostle appeals to the very opening verse of the psalm in order to prove that the reign of Jesus will be fully victorious at the end of the world (Heb. 10:13). Acts 2:32–36 refers to Christ the same verse of the psalm (cf. Eph. 1:20–22; Acts 5:31; 7:55, 56; 1 Pet. 3:22; Rom. 8:34; Phil. 2:9–11; Heb. 1:3; 1:13; 8:1).

b. The contents of the psalm itself furnish another proof of its Messianic character. No merely human king merits to be associated with Jehovah in his kingdom, no theocratic king has been at the same time priest according to the order of Melchisedech, and the armies of no theocratic king have fought their battles with sacred arms. Adding to this the impossibility of assigning any one king in whom the different requirements of the psalm are really verified, it follows that the Messias alone may be said to be its subject.

c. Besides all this, we have the testimony of Christian tradition, which is morally unanimous in maintaining the Messianic character of the psalm. The patristic testimonies referring to this point may be seen in Reinke’s Messianische Psalmen, vol. ii. pp. 158–166. Cf. also Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, vol. ii. pp. 86 f. (ed. Tailhan).

d. The Jewish tradition agrees with the Christian in the Messianic interpretation of the psalm. Verse 1. Midrash on Psalm 18:36 has the following passage: “In the future God will seat the king Messias at his right, for it is said, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand; and Abraham will be seated at the left. And Abraham’s face will become pallid, and he will say: The son of my son sits at the right, and I sit at the left. But the Holy One, blessed be he, will appease him, saying: The son of thy son sits at my right, and I sit at your right hand” (cf. Talmud, Sanhed. f. 108, 2). The Midrash Tehillim on Psalm 2:7 explains the words “Sit thou at my right hand,” or rather, “The Lord said to my Lord,” of the Messias. In the Zohar (Gen. fol. 35, col. 139) we read: “The higher degree said to the lower: Sit thou at my right hand.” We know that the lower degree in this passage is the Messias. The same book (Num. fol. 99, col. 394) reads: “the just one (Jacob) said to the Messias: Sit thou at my right hand.” In the passage on Gen. (l. c.) R. Simeon explains the words “the Lord said to my Lord” of the union of the Jews with the Gentiles at the time of the Messias.

Verse 2. According to Bereshith Rabba (sect. 85, fol. 83, 84) on Gen. 38:18, the three pledges which Tahmar had asked of Juda must be interpreted mystically: The seal signifies the kingdom, the bracelet the Sanhedrin, the staff the king Messias, and that with special reference to Is. 11:1 and Ps. 109:2. According to Bammidb. R. (18, last line), the staff of Aaron which was in the hands of every king till the temple was destroyed, when it was hid, will be restored to the king Messias, as is indicated in Ps. 109:2. Yalkut (vol. ii. par. 869, p. 124 c) on this psalm supposes that the staff mentioned in verse 2 is the same as that of Aaron, of Jacob when he crossed the Jordan, of Juda, of Moses, and of David when he slew Goliath; the same staff will be restored to the Messias, who shall smite the Gentiles with it.

Verse 3. Bereshith R. (cf. Raym. Martini, p. iii. dist. iii. 8, 5) has it: “R. Barachias says: God said to the Israelites: You tell me (Lam. 5:3): we are become orphans without a father. Neither has the Goel a father whom I will raise up for you as it is said (Zach. 6:12): Behold a man, the Orient (tsemach, branch) is his name, and under him shall he grow up. And in Is. 53:2: And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him; and Ps. 109:3: From the womb before the day-star I begot thee.”

Verse 4. Bereshith R. on Gen. 14:18 (cf. Raym. Martini, p. iii. 16, 1) reads thus: “Melchisedech king of Salem, as it is said: This is what the Scriptures say, Ps. 109:4: The Lord hath sworn and he will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech. And who is this? It is the king Messias, as it is said (Zach. 9:9): Behold thy king will come to thee, the just and Saviour. But what did the same? He offered bread and wine, as is written, Ps. 71:16, etc.” The Targum paraphrases verse 4: “For thou hast been made a prince of the world to come on account of thy merits, because thou art a just king.” Now the “world to come” refers to the time of the Messias, as we have seen repeatedly.

Verse 6. Zohar (Gen. fol. 29, col. 113) has the following words: “The holy ever blessed God has decreed to clothe the Messias in purple, as it is said in the psalm: He shall judge.”

Verse 7. Midrash Tehillim on verse 7 says: “In the times to come [the Messianic times] blood streams of the impious will flow down, and the birds of heaven will come to drink out of the bloody streams, as it is written, He shall drink.” Cf. Reinke, Messianische Psalmen, vol. ii. pp. 153–155; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus Christ, ii. App. ix. pp. 720 f.; Hebraica, April 1886, pp. 137 f.

PS. 109 (110)

The Lord said to my Lord:

Sit thou at my right hand

Until I make thy enemies

Thy footstool.

The Lord will send forth the sceptre of thy power

Out of Sion;

Rule thou in the midst of thy enemies.

With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength,

In the brightness of the saints,

From the womb before the day-star

I begot thee.

The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent:

Thou art a priest for ever

According to the order of Melchisedech.

The Lord at thy right hand,

Hath broken kings in the day of his wrath,

He shall judge among nations.

He shall fill ruins, he shall crush the heads

In the land of many;

He shall drink of the torrent in the way,

Therefore shall he lift up the head.

1. The psalm clearly represents the Messias as both king and priest, and as overcoming his enemies in this double capacity. The Messianic victory is, therefore, different from that of other warlike princes.

2. The nature of the Messianic priesthood is described as resembling that of Melchisedech rather than that of Aaron.

3. The Messias is king in such a manner as to share the power and dignity of Jehovah himself; hence he must be God, since God’s attributes can be applied to no one besides God.

Section II. The Messias, a Priest according to the Manner of Melchisedech

Gen. 14:14–20

1. CONNECTION OF THE PASSAGE WITH ITS CONTEXT.—Lot had separated from Abraham, choosing for himself the country about the Jordan, and taking his abode in Sodom. The inhabitants of Sodom, Gomorrha, Adama, Seboim, and Bala or Segor had served Chodorlahomor king of the Elamites for twelve years; but in the thirteenth year they revolted against their master, and the following year Chodorlahomor, together with Amraphel king of Sennaar, Arioch king of Pontus, and Thadal king of the nations, came to chastise the rebellious five cities. After subduing several smaller nations on their way, the four allies at last met the five rebel kings in the woodland vale which is now the salt sea. The place had been purposely chosen for battle by the five leaders, because its numerous asphalt or bitumen pits appeared to them as so many natural intrenchments against the quadruple alliance. But what would have been a very favorable position for the five kings in case of victory was their most deadly adversity in their defeat. All the substance of the Sodomites and Gomorrhites and all their victuals were taken by the proud conquerors, Lot with his possessions not excepted. The news of his nephew’s sad fate was brought to Abraham the Hebrew; and Gen. 14:14–20 tells us what line of action the patriarch adopted.

2. HISTORICAL CHARACTER OF THE NARRATIVE. The Assyrian inscriptions give us a series of Elamitic kings whose names begin with “Kudur.” We learn from the same sources that “Lagamar” was the name of a god of Susa, the capital of Elam. The name “Kudur-Lagamar” (Chodorlahomor) is therefore undoubtedly an Elamitic name. Furthermore, we know from an inscription that about the year 2294 B.C., i.e., about the time of Abraham, Kudur-Nachunti king of Elam took an image of a god from Babylon. Babylon or Sennaar must therefore have been subject to Elam at that early date. Hence it is that Amraphel king of Sennaar appears among the allies who went forth against the five cities. Finally, bricks found in Mugheir (Ur of the Chaldees) call Kudurmabuk king of the Elamites “king of the west;” this circumstance confirms the Biblical account that the five cities had served the Elamites for twelve years without rebellion (cf. Schrader, K.A.T., pp. 135 ff.; Kaulen, Assyrien und Babylonien, 164 f.).

3. THE MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PASSAGE.—St. Paul (Heb. 5:11; 7:1–4) insists on the typical meaning of Melchisedech’s history. He emphasizes especially the following points: that Melchisedech was king of justice, according to the meaning of his name; that he was king of Salem, i.e., of peace; that he was without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembled the Son of God; that he continueth for ever; that he was a priest unique in his kind; and that he was greater than Abraham, and therefore surpassed the Levitical priesthood, since the latter in the loins of the patriarch paid him tithes. In Heb. 5:11–14 the same apostle insinuates that Melchisedech is a type of Christ in a certain higher sense which cannot be indiscriminately explained to the neophytes. Comparing this manner of speaking with that of the Fathers, it becomes clear that we meet here the “disciplina arcani,” and in particular the Holy Eucharist, which is treated in this manner by the patristic writers. For they speak only to the fully initiated about that august sacrament and sacrifice. The nature of the history shows that the apostle here alludes especially to the character of the Eucharistic sacrifice. We need not insist on the fact that Melchisedech’s sacrifice has become the acknowledged type of the Eucharistic sacrifice in Catholic theology.

GEN. 14:14–20

Which when Abraham had heard, to wit that his brother Lot was taken, he numbered of the servants born in his house, three hundred and eighteen well appointed, and pursued them to Dan. And dividing his company, he rushed upon them in the night, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hoba, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the substance, and Lot his brother with his substance, the women also and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after he returned from the slaughter of Chodorlahomor, and of the kings that were with him in the vale of Save, which is the king’s vale. But Melchisedech the king of Salem, bringing forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God, blessed him and said: Blessed be Abraham by the most high God, who created heaven and earth; and blessed be the most high God, by whose protection the enemies are in thy hands. And he gave him the tithes of all.

There exists in the Catholic Church a real and true unbloody sacrifice, under the appearances of bread and wine, which Christ himself offered once during the Last Supper, but which he offers perpetually through the hands of his ministers, the priests. On the other hand, Melchisedech offered bread and wine, and Melchisedech was as priest a type of Christ. Hence we must conclude that the sacrifice of Melchisedech was a type of the unbloody sacrifice of the New Testament.

This conclusion may be further confirmed by the following considerations: According to St. Paul, Melchisedech was the type of Christ in as far as he was priest. Hence the sacrifice of Melchisedech must have been a type of Christ’s sacrifice. But we know only one sacrifice offered by Melchisedech—that of bread and wine; and we know only of one occasion on which Christ offered sacrificially bread and wine—at the Last Supper. Hence Melchisedech’s sacrifice was the type of the sacrifice offered by Christ at the Last Supper. On the other hand, Christ is a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech; hence he must have a victim for ever, resembling that of Melchisedech. Therefore, as Christ’s victim is his own body and blood, he must offer them for ever under the appearances of bread and wine. But he does not do this personally; hence it must be done through his ministers.

We need not insist on the fact that the doctrine and the practice of the Catholic Church fully agree with this conclusion, that it is upheld by the testimony of the Fathers, and even by the tradition of the Rabbinic writers. Rabbi Phinees, in Num. 28, says: “At the time of the Messias all sacrifices shall cease, but the sacrifice of bread and wine shall not cease; as it is said, Gen. 14: Melchisedech, the king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine. For Melchisedech, i.e., the king Messias, shall exempt from the ceasing of the sacrifices the sacrifice of bread and wine, as it is said (Ps. 110): Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.’ ”

Nor can it be said that Christ is a priest after the order of Melchisedech because he is a priest for ever; for the Apostle compares the priesthood of the type, in its various aspects, with that of the antitype. And if he does not explicitly mention the manner of the sacrifice, we have already assigned a sufficient reason for his silence on this point.

To the exceptions that Christ is a priest for ever merely because he lives for ever (Heb. 7:24), or because the value of his sacrifice remains for ever (7:25), or because he prays for us for ever (7:25), we answer that since, according to the Apostle, Christ in heaven remains a priest, he must offer his own peculiar sacrifice; and therefore none of the above three explanations suffices to verify the Apostle’s words (cf. Heb. 8:3; 9:24).

St. Paul excludes, it is true, the bloody repetition of Christ’s sacrifice (Heb. 7:27; 9:25–28; 10:11–14), but he does not exclude the repetition of the same sacrifice in an unbloody manner; and though this repetition is a true sacrifice, still it is identical with the bloody sacrifice, whose infinite merits it applies to the various needs and conditions of men.

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