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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 prophet describes, 9:8–10:4, in four stanzas, each ending with the same ominous refrain, the approaching ruin of the northern kingdom, which he traces to its moral and social depravity. The prophet then calls attention to the Assyrians, whose pride and ambition and sudden ruin he portrays in 10:5–10:34. In 10:28–32 he represents the Assyrians as advancing against Jerusalem by the usual line of approach from the north. All the towns and cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem are successively occupied by the enemy: Aiath, Magron, Machmas, Gaba, Rama, all of which belong to the tribe of Benjamin. Then the conqueror approaches nearer to the capital, destroys Gabaath of Saul, Gallim, Laisa, Anathoth, Medemena, Gabim, Nobe. From Nobe the enemy threatens Jerusalem in such a manner that the prophet’s description appears to apply to the attack of Sennacherib (4 Kings 18; Is. 36). This is the view of Corluy, Ewald, Schrader, Stade; R. W. Smith places the prophecy in the beginning of Sargon’s reign (Proph. pp. 297 ff.); Dillmann agrees with Smith, but Kuenen places it towards the end of Sargon’s reign. But the towering cedar, Libanus with its high ones, shall fall, the pride of the Assyrians will be broken, and the vine planted by God’s own hands, the holy seed, shall retain its vital strength and substance. Of him, the root of David and the stem of Jesse, this prophecy treats. Isaias has twice before treated of the Messias immediately after describing the ruin of the Assyrians: in 8:8–10 and 9:4 ff. The transition from the ruin of the enemy to the reign of the Emmanuel cannot therefore surprise us in this passage, the less so as the destruction of the former typically represents the victory of the Messias over his enemies. The person of the Messias is described in vv. 1–5; the character of his kingdom is indicated in vv. 6–9; the wide extent of his kingdom is traced in vv. 10–16.

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. The prophecy cannot apply to Ezechias, as it is applied by Moses Hakkohen, Aben Ezra, Grotius, v. der Hardt, Paulus, Hensler, Hezel, Bahrdt, Augusti, Hendewerk, etc. St. Ephrem does not reject this application of the prophecy, though he prefers the Messianic reference. Reasons: (1) The prophecy speaks of a king who is still to be born, while Ezechias lived and reigned at the time when the prophecy was uttered. For in 10:11 Samaria is supposed to have been taken; but Samaria was taken in the sixth or the seventh year of Ezechias’ reign. (2) Then Ezechias was not such an extraordinary ruler as to verify all that is said by the prophet concerning the person, the rule, and the extent of empire of the king in the present passage. (3) And this prophetic praise was the less due to Ezechias, as it was under his reign that the Assyrian king Sennacherib invaded the Jewish territory and besieged its capital (4 Kings 18, 19). (4) At the time of Ezechias the Jewish people had not yet suffered exile, so that he could not bring back the remnant of the people (v. 16). (5) There is no proof that Ezechias was a special sign for the nations, or that he received the homage of the Gentiles. (6) To say that the spirit of his mouth was nothing but the prayer of the king by which he overcame the Assyrians, is to do violence to the meaning of the prophet’s language.

b. The prophecy cannot be applied to Zorobabel, the ruler and leader of the returning captives, as it has been interpreted by some Jewish writers at the time of Theodoret. Reasons: (1) Zorobabel is not the author of such peace as is described in the prophecy, nor does he possess the divine gifts attributed to the king therein. (2) Zorobabel was the head and ruler of a few Jews only, and had no sway over any of the Gentiles. (3) Zorobabel cannot be said to have slain the wicked with the breath of his lips. (4) At Zorobabel’s time no union existed between Juda and Ephraim, as verse 13 supposes. (5) At the time of Zorobabel David’s royal family cannot be said to have been a mere root left of the whole Davidic tree.

c. The prophecy must be applied to the Messias. (1) Apoc. 5:5 calls Jesus “the lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David.” Hence Jesus is the fulfilment of the prophecy “there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse.…” (2) In Zach. 3:8; 6:12; Is. 4:2; Jer. 23:5; 33:15, the Messias is called “tsemach” or root, or branch. Here then we have a series of Messianic prophecies parallel to the present. Rom. 15, too, calls Jesus the root of Jesse, and in Is. 53:2 and Ezech. 17:22 the Messias is represented as growing up out of a thirsty ground, as a root and a tender branch. (3) In 2 Thess. 2:8 the wicked one is said to arise whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the spirit of his mouth, which is evidently a fulfilment of the 4th verse of the prophecy. Besides, to slay the wicked with the breath of his lips has been granted to no merely earthly king, since no earthly monarch has received so abundantly the gifts of the Holy Ghost as we find communicated to the king of the prophecy according to verses 2, 3. (4) Again, the subjection of the Gentiles to the sway of a Jewish king is throughout the Old Testament the characteristic note of Messianic rule. (5) We need hardly point out the Messianic nature of the whole context of the prophecy: to deny that the ruler described in Is. 11 is the Messias implies a difference between him and the Emmanuel of the preceding chapters, and thus destroys the unity of the whole passage. (6) The references to the patristic testimonies in favor of the Messianic character of the prophecy may be found in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica (ed. Tailhan, i. p. 359); Reinke in his “Messianische Weissagungen” (in. h. l.) has collected a great number of these patristic passages. (7) The Jewish writers, too, interpret the prophecy Messianically:

Verse 1. The Targum renders: “And there shall go forth a king from the sons of Jesse, and Messias shall be anointed from his children’s children.” Bereshith R., sect. 85, on Gen. 38:18, has the following passage: This denotes the king Messias, for it is said, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse.” Cf. Bereshith R. 99, ed. Warsh. p. 178 b. In Yalkut (vol. i. p. 247 d, near the top) we read how God showed Moses all the spirits of the rulers and prophets in Israel, and from that time forward to the Resurrection, it is said that all had one knowledge and one spirit, but that, according to Is. 11:1, the Messias had a spirit which was equal to all the others put together.

Verse 2. Bereshith R. 2 and 8; Vayyikra R. 14 and other passages explain the “Spirit of God” of the “Spirit of the king Messias” with reference to Is. 11:2. Yalkut on Prov. 19:20 (vol. ii. p. 133 a) quotes Is. 11:2 in connection with Messianic times, when by wisdom, understanding and knowledge the temple will be built again. Cf. Pirq. de R. El. 3; Sanhedr. fol. 93, col. 2.

Verse 3. Sanhedrin, fol. 93, col. 2, has on this verse: “Rabbi Alexander says: The word ‘veharicho’ [his scent] teaches us that the Holy One has laden the Messias with commandments and sufferings which were as heavy as millstones.… Bar Coziba reigned two years and a half, and he told the Rabbis that he was the Messias. They replied, It it written of the Messias that he would scent out the good; canst thou do the same? When they saw that he could not do it, they slew him.” The “good” in this passage refers to the secret thoughts of the heart.

Verse 4. The Midrash on Ps. 2:2 and Ruth 2:14 applies the words “he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth” in a Messianic sense. Cf. Yalkut on Is. 60.

Verse 6. The Targum renders: “In the day of Israel’s Messias, peace shall be multiplied on earth.”

Verse 7. Shemoth R. 15 (ed. Warsh., p. 24 b) cites Is. 11:7 as containing one of the ten new things which God will make in the latter, i.e., the Messianic days.

Verse 10. Berach. 57a says that Israel will not require to be taught by the king Messias in the latter days, since it is written, “him the Gentiles shall beseech” (Is. 11:10). The Midrash on Ps. 21:2 identifies the king there spoken of with the subject of Is. 11:10; R. Chaninah adds that the object of the Messias is to give certain commandments to the Gentiles, not to the Israelites, who are to learn from God himself.

Verse 11. Yalkut (vol. i. p. 31b and vol. ii. p. 38a) applies this verse to the Messias. The same interpretation may be found in Midrash on Ps. 107:2.

Verse 12. The Midrash on Lam. 1:2 indicates that because Israel has sinned from Aleph to Tav, God will in the latter days bless them from Aleph to Tav (i.e., through the whole alphabet), and verse 12 is here Messianically explained.

IS. 11:1–16

And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness, and he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord; he shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears; but he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. And justice shall be the girdle of his loins, and faith the girdle of his reins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them. The calf and the bear shall feed, their young ones shall rest together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk. They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain, for the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea.

In that day shall be the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of people; him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand the second time to possess the remnant of his people which shall be left from the Assyrians, and from Egypt, and from Phetros, and from Ethiopia, and from Elam, and from Sennaar, and from Emath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up a standard unto the nations, and shall assemble the fugitives of Israel, and shall gather together the dispersed of Juda from the four quarters of the earth. And the envy of Ephraim shall be taken away, and the enemies of Juda shall perish; Ephraim shall not envy Juda, and Juda shall not fight against Ephraim. But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines by the sea, they together shall spoil the children of the east. Edom and Moab shall be under the rule of their hand, and the children of Ammon shall be obedient. And the Lord shall lay waste the tongue of the sea of Egypt, and shall lift up his hand over the river in the strength of his spirit, and he shall strike it in the seven streams, so that men may pass through it in their shoes. And there shall be a highway for the remnant of my people, which shall be left from the Assyrians, as there was for Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.

From the parallelism between Is. 11 and 53 it follows that the Jews knew the identity of the suffering and the glorious Messias.

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