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

Section I. Sacrifice and Oblation Thou Wouldst Not

PS. 39 (40)

1. STRUCTURE OF THE PSALM.—Prof. Bickell divides the psalm into sixteen stanzas, each containing four iambic, alternately heptasyllabic and pentasyllabic lines. Where his order of lines differs from that of the received text, we shall state the difference in the commentary. According to the view of this learned scholar, the first twelve verses constitute a complete song; the subject of the verses 14–17, which form Ps. 69 (70), differs entirely from that of the first part, and verse 13 has been added by the redactor who first united the two psalms into one, in order to facilitate the transition. Reischl, Schegg, and most interpreters make the first part of the psalm consist of the first ten verses that follow the title, the second part beginning with verse 12. Hengstenberg has analyzed the structure of the psalm with remarkable acuteness. He observes that the first part, which treats of the divine aid already received, comprises ten verses; the second, treating of God’s new favors, consists of only seven. The first part has two divisions, containing five verses each, the first of which describes what God has done, the second what the psalmist will do. Each of these divisions has two subdivisions, one of three and one of two verses. In like manner does the second part of the psalm contain four such divisions, three of two verses and the last of only one. Hengstenberg observes, also, that the name of God occurs ten times in the psalm, Jehovah nine times, and Adonai once; five of these occurrences of the divine name are in the first part of the psalm and five in the second.

2. AUTHOR OF THE PSALM.—Verse 4, mentioning a new canticle, shows that the author of the psalm had composed other psalms. The title agrees with this indication of the author by ascribing it to David. No solid argument has as yet been advanced against David’s authorship. The exception, based on verse 8, which speaks of the volume of a book, has been sufficiently refuted by Hengstenberg (Beiträge, Th. II. p. 489), who shows that the use of skins for writing was the original mode, and that the Pentateuch was from the first written on polished skins of beasts. The various other opinions regarding the authorship of the psalm may be inferred from what we shall have to say about its subject.

3. SUBJECT OF THE PSALM.—Opinions: 1. R. Solomon is of opinion that the psalm is a hymn of thanksgiving, recited by the Hebrews after their deliverance from Egypt. 2. Theodoret mentions several ancient authors who ascribed the psalm to Jeremias released from prison, to Daniel preserved from the lion’s mouth, or to the Jewish people returning from the Babylonian captivity. 3. Euthymius sees in the psalm a description of the feelings of the Church preserved throughout innumerable dangers. 4. Theodoret believes that men’s expectation of the general resurrection is described in the psalm. 5. Bossuet, Choisy, Ferrandus, Sacy, and others apply the psalm in its literal meaning to the deliverance of David at the time of Absolom’s rebellion. Cf. 2 Kings 15:13 ff.; 17:16 6. A number of other interpreters (Theodoret, Muis, Moller, etc.) are of opinion that David gives thanks to God for his recovery from a grievous malady with which he had been afflicted after his sin with the wife of Urias. The two preceding psalms seem to refer to the same affliction. St. Paul (Heb. 10:5 ff.) applies the vv. 7, 8, 9 to Christ’s vicarious sacrifice; his manner of arguing excludes all idea of mere accommodation. Hence all Christian interpreters agree in ascribing a Messianic reference to the psalm, but they differ in explaining its prophetic character.

a. Hengstenberg, in his Christology of the Bible, maintains that the psalm’s entire literal meaning refers to the Messias. This opinion he adopts in order to escape the unnatural change of person required in any other opinion. Michaelis (Criter. Colleg. p. 455), Ringeltaube, Knapp, Dereser, Anton, and others agree with Hengstenberg. b. According to Venema, Seiler, and Dathe, the psalmist speaks in vv. 1–6 and 12–17 in his own person, but in vv. 7–11 (according to Kaiser in vv. 7, 8) in the person of the Messias. c. This opinion seems to be based on the interpretation of Athanasius, Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, and others who apply the psalm to the Messias speaking partially in his own name, partially in the name of his followers. Kilber, in his Analysis Biblica, analyzes the psalm in accordance with this patristic interpretation: The psalmist speaks in the name of the Church (vv. 2–5); he describes the incarnation of the Messias in vv. 6–9; the Messsianic preaching in vv. 10, 11; the passion in vv. 12–14; and the resurrection in vv. 15–17. d. Schegg’s explanation differs from the preceding in this, that the speaker is, throughout the whole psalm, the human race united to Christ. The beginning is a thanksgiving for the benefit of the incarnation; this passes into an act of an entire self-oblation, and finally into a prayer for help during the time of the accepted vicarious sacrifice. The explanation presupposes in the redeemed human race a lively consciousness of its solidarity with the Messias. Following this view we avoid two annoying inconveniences: α. we do not introduce a plurality of speakers into the psalm, β. nor obscure the meaning of the phrase “my iniquities” (v. 13). Still the conception of a moral unity between the redeemer and the redeemed seems to fall outside the general tenor of Old Testament Christology, a circumstance that cannot be set aside by merely referring to Gal. 5:6. For when St. Paul declared that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision,” he was enlightened by the full splendor of Christ’s teaching, had seen Jesus face to face, and had in his rapture to the third heaven heard mysteries which it is not given to every man to know. e. Calmet, Mariana, Patrizi, and others apply the literal meaning of the psalm to David; but in David they see a representative of Christ, a Messianic type. Consequently the typical or spiritual meaning of the psalm is Messianic. The particulars of this interpretation must be learned from the commentary on the psalm. The general remark suffices here that some commentators adopt the view of the partial Messianic character of the psalm, even when taken in its typical sense. What Curci says about the psalm’s immediate application to David, and its mediate reference to Christ, is untenable if it implies a double literal meaning of the psalm; but it is true if the mediate and immediate meanings only signify the literal and the typical meanings. His dissertation on the greater excellency of the mediate meaning is irrelevant here.

Bereshith R. 23 (ed. Warsh. p. 45 b, lines 8, 7 from below) explains the language of Eve (Gen. 4:25), “another seed,” as meaning seed which comes from another place, and as referring to the Messias. The same explanation occurs twice in the Midrash on Ruth 4:19 (in the genealogy of David, ed. Warsh. p. 46 b), the second time in connection with Ps. 40:8.

4. TITLE OF THE PSALM.—The title reads “Unto the end, a psalm for David himself.” That the phrase “unto the end” most probably means “for the chief musician” has been shown in the Introduction to Ps. 8. The second phrase, “a psalm for David,” is by most interpreters understood to mean “a psalm of David.” The Hebrew preposition here rendered “for” has not rarely the meaning “of,” and indicates possession or authorship.

PS. 39 (40)

With expectation I have waited for the Lord,

And he was attentive to me

And he heard my prayers.

And brought me out of the pit of misery

And the mire of dregs;

And he set my feet upon a rock,

And directed my steps.

And he put a new canticle into my mouth,

A song to our God;

Many shall see this and shall fear,

And they shall hope in the Lord

Blessed is the man whose trust is

In the name of the Lord,

And who hath not had regard to vanities

And lying follies.

Thou hast multiplied thy wonderful works, O Lord,

My God, and in thy thoughts there is no one like to thee;

I have declared and I have spoken,

They are multiplied above number.

Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire,

But thou hast pierced ears for me;

Burnt-offering and sin-offering thou didst not require,

Then said I: Behold, I come.

In the head of the book it is written of me,

That I should do thy will;

O my God, I have desired it, and thy law

In the midst of my heart.

I have declared thy justice in the great church.

Lo I will not restrain my lips:

O Lord, thou knowest it,

I have not hid thy justice within my heart.

I have declared thy truth

And thy salvation;

I have not concealed thy mercy

And thy truth from the great council.

Withhold not thou, O Lord,

Thy tender mercies from me!

Thy mercy and thy truth

Have always upheld me.

For evils1 without number have surrounded me,

My iniquities have overtaken me, and I was not able to see;

They are multiplied above the hairs of my head,

And my heart hath forsaken me.

Be1 pleased, O Lord, to deliver me,

Look down, O Lord, to help me;

Let them be confounded and ashamed together,

That seek after my soul to take it away.

Let them be1 turned backward and be ashamed

That desire evils to me;

Let them immediately bear their confusion,

That say to me: ’tis well, ’tis well.

Let all that1 seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee;

And let such as love thy salvation

Say always:

The Lord be magnified.

But I am a beggar and poor,

The Lord is careful for me;

Thou art my helper and my protector:

O my God, be not slack.

Reinke (Messianische Psalmen, i. p. 341) maintains that the psalm is not Messianic in the strict sense of the word, but that the complete surrender of the sufferer into the hands of God, as described in the psalm, has been verified in the fullest sense in the Messias. The author would have us look upon the psalm rather as referring to the ideal Messias than to the real and personal Christ. It has been pointed out already that the argument of St. Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews does not allow any such application of the psalm to the Messias by way of mere accommodation—for in like manner the psalm might have been applied to any pious and patient sufferer—but requires a real Messianic reference, either literal or at least typical.

Section II. Let us put Wood on His Bread

Jer. 11

1. THE PROPHECY AND ITS CONTEXT.—In ch. 2–10 the prophet has inveighed against the impiety of the people in a general manner, has invited them to repentance, and shown the consequences of impenitence. In ch. 11–20 the prophet insists on certain particular failings of the people, describes their intense malice, and foreshows the greatness of the divine punishment if no amendment follows. In 11:1–8 he evidently alludes to an occurrence which is described in 4 Kings 23:2; 2 Par. 34:29, where we read that the Law-book had been found in the 18th year of Josias. Jeremias may be conceived as preaching to his countrymen the necessity of observing the injunctions contained in the Mosaic book, and possibly he may have been obliged to undertake an itinerant mission through the divers towns and hamlets of the country. We see from 11:9–17 that this ministry was fruitless, and that the prophet had to announce the divine judgments which were to fall upon impenitent Israel. Towards the end of the chapter, 11:18 ff., Jeremias describes the revenge his fellow-citizens were taking on their part for his unhappy tidings of ruin and destruction. The men of his native place Anathoth had formed a plot against his life, and in consequence he pronounces judgment against them in particular.

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. It is quite clear that the prophecy predicting the sufferings of the prophet refers literally to Jeremias. Theodoret is therefore not justified in writing that these predictions have not been verified in the prophet and that they cannot be understood as applying to him. Their exact meaning will be explained in the commentary; for the present it suffices to insist in general on their personal application.

b. St. Jerome testifies that at his time all the churches agreed in considering the person of Jeremias in this passage as representing the person of the Messias. But Calmet rightly warns us against explaining this representation in such a manner that the prophecy would be literally Messianic. St. Thomas regards the prediction as Messianic in its mystical sense; Malvenda, Mariana, and Gordon say that Jeremias was the type of Christ; Maldonatus and Tirinus consider the allegorical meaning of this passage as Messianic; but Sanchez is certainly wrong in applying the passage to the Messias only by way of accommodation.

c. St. Jerome has probably indicated the safest manner in which the prophecy may be said to refer to the Messias: all the prophets acted and suffered for the most part as types of the future Messias. Since Christ was the greatest of the prophets and at the same their fulfilment, it is not surprising that he should have to undergo the prophetic trials in their utmost rigor. Christ himself has repeatedly pointed out this relation between his sacred person and the former prophets. Thus he points to his death as being intimately connected with the death of the prophets (Matt. 22:31; Luke 13:33, 34); the same truth he expresses, at least obscurely, where he calls himself the prophet, and where he tells his apostles that they are to enter the inheritance of the prophets (Matt. 13:57; 5:12). Since the fellow-citizens of Jeremias persecute the prophet, according to the passage now in question, precisely for his doctrine and in consequence of the faithful discharge of his ministry, it becomes even antecedently probable that Jeremias must here be regarded as a type of the future Messias, the incarnate justice and love, rejected by the blinded nation of the Jews.

JER. 11

The word that came from the Lord to Jeremias, saying: Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Juda, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou shalt say to them: Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: Cursed is the man that shall not hearken to the words of this covenant, which I commanded your fathers, in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying: Hear ye my voice and do all things that I command you; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God; that I may accomplish the oath, which I swore to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. And I answered, and said: Amen, O Lord. And the Lord said to me: Proclaim aloud all these words in the cities of Juda, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying: Hear ye the words of this covenant and do them; for protesting I conjured your fathers, in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt even to this day: rising early I conjured them, and said, Hearken ye to my voice.

And they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the perverseness of his own wicked heart; and I brought upon them all the words of this covenant which I commanded them to do, but they did them not. And the Lord said to me: A conspiracy is found among the men of Juda and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They are returned to the former iniquities of their fathers, who refused to hear my words; so these likewise have gone after strange gods, to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Juda have made void my covenant, which I made with their fathers. Wherefore thus saith the Lord: Behold I will bring in evils upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and they shall cry to me, and I will not hearken to them. And the cities of Juda and the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall go and cry to the gods to whom they offer sacrifice, and they shall not save them in the time of their affliction. For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Juda; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem thou hast set up altars of confusion, altars to offer sacrifice to Baalim. Therefore do not thou pray for this people, and do not take up praise and prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time of their cry to me, in the time of their affliction. What is the meaning that my beloved hath wrought much wickedness in my house? shall the holy flesh take away from thee thy crimes in which thou hast boasted? The Lord called thy name a plentiful olive-tree, fair, fruitful, and beautiful; at the noise of a word a great fire was kindled in it, and the branches thereof are burned. And the Lord of hosts that planted thee hath pronounced evil against thee; for the evils of the house of Israel, and of the house of Juda, which they have done to themselves, to provoke me, offering sacrifice to Baalim.

But thou, O Lord, hast showed me, and I have known; then thou showedst me their doings. And I was as a meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim, and I knew not that they had devised counsels against me, saying: Let us put wood on his bread, and cut him off from the land of the living, and let his name be remembered no more. But thou, O Lord of Sabaoth, who judgest justly, and triest the reins and the hearts, let me see thy revenge on them; for to thee have I revealed my cause. Therefore, thus saith the Lord to the men of Anathoth who seek thy life and say: Thou shalt not prophesy in the name of the Lord, and thou shalt not die in our hands. Therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will visit upon them; their young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, and there shall be no remains of them; for I will bring in evil upon the men of Anathoth, the year of their visitation.

Though the prophecy refers to Jesus Christ only in a typical sense, still its text is so worded that it may be said to have found a fulfilment of its proper meaning in Christ, while only its metaphorical, though literal, meaning was accomplished in the case of the prophet. We can therefore readily excuse the Fathers for applying it to Christ in its literal sense.

Section III. The Messianic Sacrifice

Mal. 1

1. GENERAL OUTLINE OF THE CHAPTER.—The first chapter of Malachias opens with a general introduction (vv. 2–5), which manifests God’s love for Israel, questioned by some of the prophet’s contemporaries, in the contrasted lots of Israel and Edom; the descendants of Esau expect in vain a restoration of their ruined country. In the following verses the prophet shows that Israel is unmindful of this love, and that it does not render to the Lord the honor and the reverence which are his due. The priests are especially unmindful of their duties, for they allow unclean and inferior sacrifices to be presented on the altar. The service of the Lord has in consequence become contemptible in the eyes of many.

2. NON-MESSIANIC EXPLANATIONS OF THE PROPHECY.—a. The prophecy refers to the conversion of the Gentiles to the true God by means of their intercourse with the dispersed Jews. Aben-Ezra writes that at the time of the prophet Malachias the Gentiles offered God a service that was as pleasing in his sight as the sacrifice of incense and as holocausts. The authors (Theodore of Mops., Arias Montanus, Köhler, Ephrem) who adhere to this opinion advance the edict of Cyrus (1 Esd. 1:4) in proof of their theory. But, on the other hand, at the time of the prophet so few Gentiles were converted to the God of the Hebrews, that Hitzig himself sees a considerably exaggerated account of the event in the Book of Malachias. Again, the converts of the Gentile world are nowhere said to have offered sacrifice to the one true God; but the prophet insists on the difference between the predicted offerings and the offerings of the Jewish priests. It is true that the Samaritans formed an exception to the other Gentiles in this regard; but their offerings can in no manner be regarded as the fulfilment of the prophecy, since they were both scarce and unclean (cf. 4 Kings 17:28–34; 1 Cor. 10:20; Rom. 1:21–25).

b. Other writers (Hitzig, etc.) have applied the prediction of Malachias to the worship paid by the Gentile world to the highest God, to Ahura-Mazda, Jupiter, etc. But it must be remembered that at the time in question the worshippers of a highest god offered their sacrifices also to a number of idol-gods, so that their offerings cannot claim the purity which the prophet attributes to the sacrifices he predicts. Moreover, according to Is. 45:4–7, the Lord expressly tells Cyrus, the worshipper of Ahura-Mazda, that he had not known him; again, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that her people adored what they knew not (John 4:22).

c. The Jews explain the prophet’s words as foretelling the worship of prayer which the Israelites should offer to the Lord in all parts of the world after their dispersion among all the nations of the earth (Ewald, Pressel, etc.). This is evidently the interpretation of the Targum Jonathan: “From the rising of the sun to the setting thereof my name is great among the Gentiles, and at all times whenever you shall do my will I will receive your prayers; and my great name is sanctified by you, and your prayers shall be as a clean offering before me, since my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.” But the prophet treats of a worship that is to take the place of the external and sacrificial worship of the Israelites; hence the offerings foretold by the prophet must be external and of the same religious significance as the ritual sacrifices. Then, again, the prophet not only predicts that these offerings shall be brought among the Gentiles, but he announces them also as coming from the Gentiles (cf. Is. 66:21).

d. Other Jewish writers have applied the prophecy of Malachias to the divine worship which all the Jewish proselytes will pay to the Lord. Still, even if we were to sum up all those that have been converted to Judaism, their number is too inconsiderable to be regarded as the fulfilment of the prophet’s prediction. And again, the Jewish proselytes can no more offer sacrifice outside the temple of Jerusalem than the Jews themselves can. This explanation, therefore, cannot account for the catholicity required by the words of the prophet.

3. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. The prophecy evidently treats of a true divine worship which is (α) to be paid to God all over the world, and which (β) will be opposed to the worship offered to God by the Jewish priesthood. Now the universality of a true divine worship paid to the true God is one of the most prominent Messianic notes (Ps. 49:[50]1; 112:[113]3; Is. 45:6; 59:19). And since this same worship stands in opposition to that of the Jewish priesthood, it cannot belong to Judaism (Is. 11:9; 49:6; 60:9; 66:19; Am. 9:12; Mich. 4:2; Ps. 21:[22]28; 71:[72]10, 11, etc.). Hence the prediction of the prophet concerns the Messias and the new covenant to be instituted by the Messias for his adherents.

The exception that the prophet speaks about the worship as being present even in his time is sufficiently answered by recalling the repeated representation of a future event as something present in the writings of the prophets (cf. Is. 7:14; 9:6; 53:2; Ps. 21:[22]7: Num. 24:17, etc.).

b. This argument for the Messianic character of the prophecy drawn from the nature of the prediction is fully supported by Christian tradition. It is true that St. Ephrem explained the prophet’s words of the worship to be paid to God at the time of Malachias by the converted Gentiles, and that Origen and Clement of Alexandria understood the worship of which Malachias treats as consisting in prayer; but both views have been rejected for intrinsic reasons. Additional evidence will be found in the commentary. It must here be stated that even on extrinsic evidence the views of the foregoing Fathers cannot be adopted. For they evidently contradict the testimony of Justinus (Tryph. 28), Irenæus (Hær. IV. xvii. 5), Cyprian (adv. Judæos, 16), Eusebius (Dem. Evang. I. 10), Cyril of Alexandria, Jerome, etc. (cf. Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, ed. Tailhan, I. p. 525 f.).

MAL. 1

The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by the hand of Malachias. I have loved you, saith the Lord; and you have said: Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau brother to Jacob, saith the Lord, and I have loved Jacob, but have hated Esau? and I have made his mountains a wilderness, and given his inheritance to the dragons of the desert. And if Edom say: We are destroyed indeed, but we will return and build up what hath been destroyed; thus saith the Lord of hosts: They shall build up, and I will throw down, and they shall be called the borders of wickedness, and the people with whom the Lord is angry for ever. And your eyes shall see, and you shall say: The Lord be magnified upon the border of Israel.

The son honoreth the father, and the servant his master: if then I be a father, where is my honor? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, that despise my name, and have said: wherein have we despised thy name? You offer polluted bread upon my altar, and you say: Wherein have we polluted thee? In that you say: The table of the Lord is contemptible. If you offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? offer it to thy prince, if he will be pleased with it, or if he will regard thy face, saith the Lord of hosts. And now, beseech ye the face of God, that he may have mercy on you (for by your hand hath this been done), if by any means he will receive your faces, saith the Lord of hosts. Who is there among you that will shut the doors, and will kindle the fire on my altar for naught? I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts; and I will not receive a gift of your hand. For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean offering; for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts. And you have profaned it in that you say: The table of the Lord is defiled, and that which is laid thereupon is contemptible, with the fire that devoureth it. And you have said: Behold of our labor, and you blowed it away, saith the Lord of hosts; and you brought in of rapine the lame, and the sick, and brought in an offering; and shall I accept it at your hands? saith the Lord. Cursed is the deceitful man, that hath in his flock a male, and making a vow offereth in sacrifice that which is feeble to the Lord; for I am a great king, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the Gentiles.

1. The sacrifice of the Mass is the only sacrifice that satisfies all the requirements of the prophecy. There are only three sacrifices in the New Testament: the sacrifice of the last supper, the sacrifice on the cross, and the sacrifice of the Mass. Of these only the last fulfils the prediction of Malachias, for it is opposed to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, and comprises all their excellences; it is offered among the Gentiles from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same; it is offered everywhere; it is most aptly designated by “minchah,” being an unbloody sacrifice; and finally, it is so clean that no impurity of the minister can pollute it.

2. It follows, therefore, that the words of the Council of Trent (Sess. xxii. cap. I) form the best authentic commentary on the prophecy of Malachias, so that no Catholic is left free to seek the full accomplishment of the prediction in anything but the sacrifice of the Mass.

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