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

Section I. Scourges were Gathered Together upon Me

PS. 34 (35)

1. STRUCTURE OF THE PSALM.—PS. 34 (35) consists of twenty stanzas, each of which numbers four alternately heptasyllabic and pentasyllabic iambic verses. The fourth verse of the tenth and the first verse of the twentieth stanza must be supplied, according to the metrical analysis of Prof. Bickell. Schegg, Hengstenberg, etc., give another division of the psalm. According to them the psalm consists of three stanzas: the first comprises vv. 1–10; the second, vv. 11–18; the third, vv. 19–28. It is worthy of notice that each stanza is made up of three elements: complaint, prayer, and promise of thanksgiving. While this last element forms the conclusion of each stanza, prayer is the prevailing characteristic of the first and third stanzas, and complaint is dominant in the second.

2. AUTHOR OF THE PSALM.—Opinions: a. The psalm was composed by Jeremias with reference to the persecutions he suffered from the Jews (Eusebius, Theodoret, Bede). b. The psalm was composed by an unknown author or by Ezechias, and refers either to the latter’s Assyrian troubles (4 Kings 18, 19) or to the sufferings of the Jews in the Babylonian captivity (cf. Calmet). c. David is the author of the psalm, as is indicated in the title and may be inferred from its contents and style. This is the common opinion; but there is no agreement among the patrons of this view as to the particular time of the psalm’s composition: (1) Cyril of Alexandria, Eusebius, Theodoret, Euthymius, Kimchi, Vatable, Muis, Moller, and many among the more recent authors understand the psalm as referring to David’s sufferings at the time when Saul persecuted him. A comparison of the opening words of the psalm with David’s address to Saul (1 Kings 24:16) has led many to adopt this opinion. (2) Ferrandus, Rudinger, and others prefer to explain the psalm as referring to David’s troubles at the time of Absolom’s rebellion. The words of verse 6 refer, according to these commentators, to Achitophel, Semei, and the other leading persons of Absolom’s following (cf. 2 Kings 15:31). Both opinions are equally probable. (3) The Syriac version applies the psalm to the time when David was attacked by the Idumeans.

3. SUBJECT OF THE PSALM.—a. It is clear from what has been said that the psalm has been understood by several interpreters as referring literally to Jeremias persecuted by the Jews, to Ezechias oppressed by the Assyrians, to the people of Juda in the Babylonian captivity, or to the sufferings of king David.

b. St. Augustine contends that the Messianic reference of the psalm is the principal one; other writers are of opinion that vv. 11–16 refer to the Messias in their literal sense (Horsley, etc.); Christ applies the nineteenth verse to himself (John 15:25). The Fathers who explain the psalm agree in giving it a Messianic meaning (Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Ps. Rufinus, Ps. Jerome, Augustine, Cyril of Alexandria, Arnobius, Cassiodorus, Bede, etc.); the same must be said of the Fathers who use the psalm incidentally. The references to the patristic writings on the psalm may be found in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, II., ii. p. 34. Consequently, we conclude that at least the typical sense of the psalm is Messianic.

c. This explanation does not prevent us from applying the tropological sense of the psalm to every suffering just man, and part of its allegorical meaning to the sufferings of the Church (Gordon). Hengstenberg’s view that the psalm has no individual for its subject, but applies to the person of the righteous man in general, has found very few adherents of any distinction. Though the single statements of the psalm are not definite enough to determine accurately its time and place of composition, they are too definite to be applied to any and every righteous man in general.

d. It is suggested that the psalm hardly fits the person of David, and much less that of the Messias. The whole song seems to be an outburst of private execration against the psalmist’s personal enemies. To this objection various replies have been made. (1) Theodoret believes that the psalmist prophesies rather than prays for the destruction of his enemies. (2) According to others, the psalm is no prayer for vengeance, but only addresses God, the just judge. (3) The law of loving one’s enemies was not so clearly promulgated in the Old Testament as it is in the New (cf. Matt. 5:44). (4) The psalmist does not pray for the spiritual ruin of his enemies; one’s temporal disaster is at times a real good to be prayed for, e.g., if it is foreseen to be connected with one’s conversion, or if thus a public scandal is ended, or God’s glory is manifested in a special manner. (5) That David’s prayer was not inspired by mere vindictiveness may be inferred from other facts of his life, e.g., his clemency towards Saul and his prayer in Ps. 7:5, 6: “If I have rendered to them that repaid me evils, let me deservedly fall empty before my enemies; let the enemy pursue my soul, and take it, and tread down my life on the earth, and bring down my glory to the dust.”

4. TITLE OF THE PSALM.—The Hebrew text has the title “Of David” or “For David,” or, as St. Jerome’s version renders it, “David.” Interpreters explain this title by supplying “a psalm” (of David), or “a prayer” (for David), or (David) “is the author.” The Roman edition of the LXX., the Vulgate, and the Chaldee version follow the Hebrew text. The Complutensian edition of the LXX., the Theodoret, and Bede give the title “a psalm of David.” St. Jerome in his commentaries, St. Thomas, and Card. Hugo have the title “unto the end; a psalm of David.”

PS. 34 (35)

Judge thou, O Lord, them that wrong me,

Overthrow them that fight against me;

Take hold of arms and shield,

And rise up to help me.

Bring out the sword and shut up the way

Against them that persecute me;

Say to my soul:

I am thy salvation.

Let them be confounded and ashamed

That seek after my soul;

Let them be turned back and be confounded

That devise evil against me.

Let them become as dust before the wind,

And let the Angel of the Lord straiten them;

Let their way become dark and slippery,

And let the Angel of the Lord pursue them.

For without cause they have hid their net for me unto destruction,

Without cause they have upbraided my soul;

Let the snare which he knoweth not come upon him, and let the net

Which he hath hidden catch him, and into that very snare let him fall.

But my soul shall rejoice in the Lord,

And shall be delighted in his salvation;

All my bones shall say:

Lord, who is like to thee?

Who deliverest the poor from the hand

Of them that are stronger than he;

The needy and the poor from them

That strip him.

Unjust witnesses rising up

Have asked me things I knew not;

They repaid me evil for good

To the depriving me of my soul.

But as1 for me, when they were troublesome to me,

I was clothed with hair cloth;

I humbled my soul with fasting,

And my prayer shall be turned into my bosom.

As a neighbor1 and as an own brother,

So did I please;

As one mourning and sorrowful

So was I humbled.

But they1 rejoiced against me and came together;

Scourges were gathered together upon me,

And I knew not why,

They were separated and repented not.

They tempted me,1 they scoffed at me with scorn,

They gnashed upon me with their teeth;

Lord, when wilt thou look upon me?

Rescue thou my1 soul from their malice,

My only one from the lions;

I will give thanks to thee in the great church,

I will praise thee in a strong people.

Let not them that are my1 enemies wrongfully rejoice over me,

Who have hated me without cause and wink with the eyes;

For they spoke indeed peaceably to me,

And speaking in the anger of the earth they devised1 guile.

And they opened their mouth

Wide against me; they said:

Well done, well done,

Our eyes have seen it.

Thou hast seen1 this, O Lord, be not thou silent,

O Lord, depart not from me;

Arise and be attentive to my judgment,

To my cause, my God and my Lord.

Judge me, O Lord my God, according to1 thy justice,

And let them not rejoice over me;

Let them not say in their hearts:

It is well, it is well, to our mind.

Neither let them say: We have swallowed him up;

Let them blush and be ashamed together who rejoice at my evils;

Let them be clothed with confusion and shame

Who speak great things1 against me.

Let them rejoice and be glad,

Who are well pleased with my justice;

And let them say always: The Lord be magnified

Who delight in the peace of his servant.

And my2 tongue

Shall meditate thy justice,

Thy praise all the day long.

The typical sense of the psalm plainly refers to Christ exposed to the fury of his enemies, who assail him in spite of the greatest benefits which he had imparted to the Jews; he had healed their sick, he had consoled their afflicted, he had borne their iniquities. The sufferer here prays to his God for deliverance and help, and promises, on his part, to praise God continually in the great assembly, i.e., in the Church.

Section II. The Man of Sorrows

Is. 52:13–53:12

1. THE PROPHECY AND ITS CONTEXT.—In the first part of ch. 52 the prophet has described the approach of a vast host of the chosen people going forth to occupy the Holy City. In the closing verses of the chapter the prophet tells us how these new occupants shall be cleansed. God’s own servant shall sprinkle them, thereby purifying them from their uncleanness. But though many kings and nations shall receive the glad tidings of salvation, Israel shall refuse to believe the message. The prophet, therefore, endeavors to correct Israel’s misapprehensions about the low condition of the Servant, pointing out the cause of his suffering and its effects, and the prophet’s words are finally confirmed by Jehovah himself. The division of the prophetic text fully agrees with what we have said concerning its relation to the context. a. Jehovah announces the method of his divine purification by means of the vicarious ministry of the Servant (52:13–15). b. The prophet describes the low condition of the suffering Servant according to the view of the unbelieving people (53:1–3). c. The prophet begins to explain the real cause of the Servant’s suffering and humiliation, pointing out that the Servant undergoes really a vicarious suffering (53:4–7). d. The prophet continues the real explanation of the Servant’s suffering, describing the glorious effects it will produce in his own condition and in the state of the world at large (53:8–10). e. Finally, Jehovah himself confirms the prophet’s view of the Servant’s vicarious suffering and its glorious effects (53:11, 12).

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. The Servant is not a mere collection of persons, the whole Israelite nation collectively, or the godly portion of it, or the prophetic order, or the priesthood. Reasons: 1. There are several passages in the prophecy that can apply only to an individual: In verse 3 the Servant is the “most abject of men, a man of sorrows;” in vv. 10, 11 there is question of the Servant’s soul; in v. 9 we read of his burial. 2. The Servant cannot represent Israel at large, because the people is always spoken of as suffering for its own sins (Is. 1:4, 5; Jer. 17:1–4; Dan. 9:16), while the Servant, according to the prophet’s description, is wholly innocent. The last generation of Jews in particular, which witnessed the burning of the second temple, was so sinful that Josephus believes none more ungodly had existed from the beginning of human history (Bell. Jud. V. x. 15). 3. The Servant is represented as suffering willingly, while the Jews suffered against their will; in 49:5 and 53:8, 9 the prophet distinguishes the Servant from the people. 4. Nor can it be said that the prophecy may refer to the godly portion of the people, or to a God-fearing order of the nation. For the idea of a vicarious suffering is not applied to any man living in the Old Testament (cf. Ps. 48 (49):7, 8; Jer. 40:4; Dan. 9:7 f., etc.). Besides, no collection of godly men was as such “reputed with the wicked,” “cut off out the land of the living,” nor did they “see long-lived seed.”

The arguments of our opponents are hardly strong enough to call for serious refutation. a. Granting that the Servant of the Lord applies to the whole people in Is. 42:19 and according to Rosenmüller in 41:8; 42:1; 43:10; 44:1, 21; 45:4; 48:20; 49:3, 5, 7; 50:10, and to the prophets in Is. 44:26, it does not follow that, therefore, it must apply to either the people or the prophets in Is. 52:13 ff. Since it is plain from the preceding references that the Servant does not always refer to the same subject, we must determine from the context in what special sense the term must be understood in each particular case. β. The bare circumstance that the prophets have suffered much from their fellow-citizens (Jer. 2:20; 11:19, 21; 15:10–21; 4 Kings 21:16; 2 Esd. 9:26), and that they occasionally prayed for their persecutors (Jer. 42:2–4), does not prove that therefore their sufferings were vicarious in their nature, and that they agreed with all the particulars of the prophet’s description. In point of fact we have seen that the prophets’ sufferings are wholly different from those of the Servant. γ. It is true that the later Jewish writers apply the prophecy to the Jewish people; Origen testifies that they have done so from the third century (Celsus, l. p. 42). But we shall see that the earlier Jewish writers testify to the tradition of the Messianic character of the prophecy. δ. It will appear from the commentary that in 52:14 there is no question of the Gentiles surprised at the sufferings of the Hebrew nation, and that the plurals in vv. 8, 9 (“to them,” “in his deaths”) do not necessitate a collective meaning of the Servant.

b. The Servant is not a great saint of the Old Testament, such as Moses, Ezechias, David, Ozias, Jeremias, Isaias, or Josias. It may be clearly proved that the various details of the prophet’s description do not fit the persons suggested. The Servant must be born in a lowly condition, must be condemned unjustly to death, suffer a violent death willingly, be reputed with the wicked, and have his burial-place with the rich; moreover, the Servant’s suffering must be vicarious in its nature and gain a long-lived seed for the innocent sufferer. A glance at the foregoing list of names suffices to show us that none of them can be said to agree with the suffering Servant as described by Isaias.

c. The Servant described by Isaias is the Messias. Reasons: 1. The New Testament repeatedly identifies the Servant with the Messias, either explicitly, or at least implicitly. Luke 22:37 expressly states Christ’s words: “This that is written must yet be fulfilled in me: And with the wicked was he reckoned.” Mark 15:28 applies the same prophecy to the suffering of Christ: “And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith: And with the wicked he was reputed.” John 12:37, 38 applies another part of the same prophecy to Jesus Christ: “And whereas he had done so many miracles before them, they believed not in him, that the saying of Isaias the prophet might be fulfilled which he said: Lord, who hath believed our hearing? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” The same Messianic reference of Is. 52:13 ff. may be seen in John 1:29; Matt. 8:17; 20:28; Acts 8:28–35; 1 Pet. 2:22, 23, 25; 1 Cor. 15:3; 1 John 3:5.

2. The Old Testament, too, confirms the Messianic character of the prophecy now in question. The description of the Servant exactly agrees with the description of the Messias as found in Is. 11:1; Ps. 21 (22):7–9, 13–19, 28–32; Ps. 71 (72):7, 10, 17; Is. 11:10; Zach. 9:9; Ps. 84 (85):10–14. Besides, it must be kept in mind that no single person or collection of persons can be found in the Old Testament history in whom the prophecy of Isaias may be said to have been fulfilled. On the other hand, every detail of the prophet’s description has found evident fulfilment in the person of Jesus Christ.

3. The testimony of the Fathers shows that the Church has always regarded the prophecy as referring to the Messias. The references to the numerous patristic applications of the prophecy to the Messias may be found in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, ed. II. vol. i. pp. 383 ff.

4. Finally, the testimony of the Jewish tradition concerning the Messianic reference of the prophecy is so clear that it needs only to be stated.

Is. 52:13. The Targum reads in this passage: “Behold my servant, the Messias, shall prosper; he shall be exalted.…” And again on the words “he shall understand” the Targum remarks, “This is the king Messias.” Yalkut ii. (Par. 338, p. 53 c., line 7, etc., from the bottom) has on the words “he shall be exalted:” “He shall be exalted more than Abraham, for of him it is written, I have exalted my hand to the Lord (Gen. 14:22); he shall be extolled more than Moses, for of him it is written, Thou sayest unto me, Extol [i.e., carry] them in thy bosom (Num. 11:12). And he shall be higher than the ministering angels, for it is said: As for their rings, they were so high (Ezech. 1:18). And thus it is said: Who art thou, O great mountain? (Zach. 4:7), i.e., that is greater than the fathers. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed (Is. 53:5). Rab Hunna in the name of Acha said: The chastisements or afflictions were divided into three parts: one to David and the fathers, and one to the rebellious generations, and one to king Messias.” Cf. Tanchuma, in loc.

Is. 53:4. Sanhedrin (fol. 98, col. 2) has the following passage where there is question of the Messianic names: “The Rabbis say: His name is the leper of the house of Rabbi, as it is said: Surely he hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows, and we have thought him, as it were, a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted” (Is. 53:4). Cf. Midrash Echa, or Lamentations, on 1:16.

Is. 53:5. We have seen the Messianic application of this verse under the preceding paragraph on 52:13.

Is. 53:6. Yalkut on Isaias 60:1 has the following testimony: “The congregation of Israel said to the Holy One, blessed be he! Lord of the universe! for the sake of the law, which thou hast given to me and which is called a source of life, shall I ever enjoy thy light? What is the meaning of ‘in thy light shall we see light’? (Ps. 35:[36]9) It denotes the light of the Messias, as it is said: And God saw the light that it was good (Gen. 1:4). This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be he! had already respect to the generation of the Messias and to his works before the creation of the world, and that he preserved that first light under the throne of his glory for the Messias and his age. Satan pleaded before the Holy One, blessed be he! and said: Lord of the universe, for whom is the light preserved under the throne of glory? The Holy One answered: For him who is to overthrow and to shame thee. Satan said: Let me see him! The Holy One said: Come and see him! When he saw him, he trembled and fell upon his face and said: Yes surely, that is truly the Messias who will throw me and all idolatrous nations into hell, for it is said: He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord God will wipe off tears from all faces (Is. 25:6). In that hour the nations gathered together and said before the Holy One, blessed be he! Lord of the universe, who is he in whose hands we are to fall! What is his name? What is his nature? The Holy One replied, ‘Ephraim Messias, my righteousness’ is his name; he exalts his light and that of his generation, and gives light to the eyes of Israel and redeemeth his people. No nation or tongue can stand before him, for it is said, The enemy shall not exact upon him, nor the son of wickedness afflict him (Ps. 89:22). All his enemies and adversaries shall fear him and go back before him, as it is said, And I will beat down his foes before his face (v. 23). Even the streams will run before him into the sea, as it is said: I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers (v. 25). When they flew, the Holy One, blessed be he! began to stipulate with him [the Messias]. He said to him: The sins of those who are treasured up beside thee will bring thee under a yoke of iron, and make thee like this calf whose eyes are dim, and will torment thy spirit with unrighteousness; and because of transgression thy tongue will cleave to the roof of thy mouth. Dost thou accede to this? Messias rejoined before the Holy One, blessed be he: Lord of the universe, perhaps this trouble is for many years? The Holy One, blessed be he! replied: By thy life and the life of thy head, a week have I decreed upon thee (Dan. 9:27). If it grieve thy soul, I will expel or afflict thee now. He replied before him: Lord of the universe! with heartfelt gladness and with heartfelt joy I take this upon myself on condition that not one of Israel shall perish; and that not only those that are alive shall be saved in my days, but also those that are hid in the dust; and not only the dead shall be saved in my days, but also those dead who died from the time of the first Adam until now; and not these only, but also those who have been prematurely born; and not only these, but also all that are in thy mind to create and have not yet been created. Thus I consent, and on these terms I take this office upon myself.”

Is. 53:10. The Targum applies this passage to the kingdom of the Messias. Aben-Ezra, Jarchi, Abarbanel, Maimonides, and others of the more recent Rabbinic writers freely admit that their older writers understood the prophecy as applying to the Messias. Cf. Wolf, “Bibliotheca Hebr.” 1. p. 818; R. Martini, “Pugio fidei;” Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus,” vol. ii. p. 727; “Hebraica,” vol. iv. p. 46; iii. 268.

IS. 52:13–53:12

Behold my servant shall understand, he shall be exalted, and extolled, and shall be exceeding high. As many have been astonished at thee, so shall his visage be inglorious among men, and his form among the sons of men. He shall sprinkle many nations, kings shall shut their mouth at him; for they to whom it was not told of him have seen; and they that had not heard have beheld.

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground. There is no beauty in him nor comeliness; and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him. Despised and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity; and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows, and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth; he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.

He was taken away from distress and from judgment; who shall declare his generation? because he is cut off out the land of the living. For the wickedness of my people have I struck him. And he shall give the ungodly for his burial, and the rich for his death; because he hath done no iniquity, neither was there deceit in his mouth. And the Lord was pleased to bruise him in infirmity; if he shall lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long-lived seed, and the will of the Lord shall be prosperous in his hand.

Because his soul hath labored, he shall see and be filled; by his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I distribute to him very many, and he shall divide the spoils of the strong, because he hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked; and he hath borne the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors.

1. The prophet describes the suffering of the Servant, the vicarious nature of the suffering, and its salutary effects for the Servant himself and the world at large. The suffering consists in great physical affliction, in an entire social annihilation, and national rejection. It is true that these three points reached their highest degree during the crucifixion, but they began most efficaciously and irrevocably with the scourging inflicted according to the Roman manner.

2. As to its nature, the Servant’s suffering is both vicarious and spontaneous. Moreover, the Servant is deputed for this spontaneous and vicarious suffering by Jehovah himself, as appears from the very opening paragraph of the prophecy. Since, then, we have a divine institution of the Servant’s suffering, a complete annihilation on the part of the Servant, undergone spontaneously for the reconciliation of the human race with God, it follows that the Servant in his suffering is the true high-priest of the New Testament.

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