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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.—In ch. 11 the prophet describes the behavior of the chosen people towards their divinely constituted shepherd. After wholly disowning him, they esteem his services at the price of thirty pieces of silver, the price of a common slave killed by one’s ox. The shepherd breaks, according to the same chapter, his two staves, one called “Beauty” and one called “Cord,” and a false shepherd is foretold as the ruler of Israel. In the beginning of ch. 12 the prophet sees the effect of the bad shepherd’s work: an assembly of nations, including Juda, advances against Jerusalem (vv. 1–3); the forces, however, are smitten with a sudden panic (v. 4) and the chieftains of Juda perceiving that Jehovah fights for Jerusalem, turn their arms against the other nations (v. 5 f.); the Lord first saves Juda in order that the capital, now delivered from its enemies, may not triumph over it (vv. 7–9); then the Lord pours out upon Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of prayer, and its inhabitants mourn long and bitterly over their previous waywardness (vv. 10–14). In ch. 13 we are told how a fountain of purification from sin is permanently opened in Jerusalem, how idols disappear and even false prophets cease. See the commentary for a different view of the passage (pp. 255 ff.).

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY. a. John 19:37 tells us: “For these things were done that the Scripture might be fulfilled: They shall look on him whom they pierced.” Since this is a quotation of v. 10 of Zacharias’ prophecy, it follows that the evangelist regarded the latter as referring to the person of Jesus Christ.

b. The same Messianic reference of the passage is confirmed by its context and by parallel prophecies of the Old Testament. As to the context, the preceding chapter shows how the Messianic shepherd is undervalued by his contemporaries (11:12, 13) and in the following chapter (13:7) the same Messianic shepherd is represented as ill-treated. It is, therefore, probable that the sufferer in the twelfth chapter, too, is the Messias. We need not recall the other prophecies of the Old Testament that treat of the suffering inflicted on the Messias in spite of his acknowledged innocence (Is. 53:3–12; cf. 49:7–9; 50:6, 7; etc.).

c. But even the text itself suggests a Messianic reference, since the words can hardly be explained satisfactorily in any other way. In order to understand this, we have to remember that God himself speaks in the passage by the mouth of the prophet. For the prophet cannot promise in his own name: “I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of prayers.” And it is the speaker himself who is said to be pierced: “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” But Jehovah cannot be said to be pierced except in the person of the Messias. The text itself suggests, therefore, a Messianic meaning.

Objections to this argument may be classed under three heads: 1. The verb rendered “pierced” signifies according to some interpreters “blasphemed” or “insulted” (cf. Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Fürst, etc.). This explanation cannot be adopted because: (α) The verb has in all other places where it occurs the meaning “to pierce” (cf. Num. 25:8; Jud. 9:54; 1 Kings 31:4; 1 Par. 10:4; Is. 13:5; Jer. 37:10; 51:4; Lam. 4:9). (β) The context requires that the verb should be rendered “pierced” in the present passage; for the prophet continues, “and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as the manner is to grieve for the death of the first-born.” The death of the person who is mourned supposes that he has been physically wounded, and does not admit of a merely moral offence. (γ) Besides, all the ancient versions agree in this rendering (Jerome, Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, the Syriac translator); it is true that the LXX. have a different rendering, but St. Cyril explicitly declares that they have not faithfully followed the Hebrew text. St. Jerome explains the LXX. version by the fact that they have mistaken the Hebrew verb for another which has a similar appearance in writing, i.e., they have read “rakadu” instead of “dakaru.”

2. The second exception to our argument is based on the circumstance that a number of Hebrew codices read “elayv” instead of “elay,” i.e., “upon him” instead of “upon me.” Pusey enumerates a number of codices with either reading (Minor Prophets, ii. p. 438, note), but the question can hardly be decided from the present condition of the Hebrew text. We must recur to extrinsic sources in order to determine the original reading in the passage now under consideration, (α) All the ancient versions, Christian as well as Jewish, suppose the reading “elay” (upon me) (cf. LXX., Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate). (β) Hitzig has well remarked that the sense of the passage requires “elay,” and does not admit “elayv.” For in the whole passage there is no third person to whom the “elayv” can be reasonably applied.

3. The third exception to the argument for the Messianic nature of the prophecy is based on the possibility of omitting the pronoun entirely in the word “elay,” and rendering it as a mere preposition “upon.” The passage reads then, “they shall look upon whom they have pierced.” This suggestion has been advanced by Reinke, who points to a number of passages in which “elay” is a mere preposition; the writer appeals also to John 19:37, where the evangelist quotes the present passage as if a third person were the object of the looking. Still, there are grave reasons against this conjecture. (α) It is well known that the inspired writers of the New Testament often quote the sense rather than the letter of the Old Testament. (β) It is true that “elay” has the meaning of a mere preposition in Job 3:22; 5:26; 15:26; 29:19; but in these passages “elay” immediately precedes the word it governs, while in the passage which we now consider the particle of the direct object “eth” intervenes between it and the relative pronoun “asher.” There is no instance on record in which the word “elay” is a mere preposition when it is placed as it stands in the present passage. (γ) Moreover, the observation of Hitzig has its full weight against Reinke’s suggestion, which is at best an arbitrary conjecture.

d. The numerous references to the patristic applications of the present passage may be found in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, ed. II. vol. ii. pp. 521 f. The application of the prophecy in the Liturgy of the Church is too well known to need special mention.

e. Rabbinic testimony concerning the Messianic reference of the prophecy may be found in the Talmud (Succah, fol. 52, col. 1): “What is the cause of his mourning? In this Rabbi Dosa and the other Rabbis differ. The one said it was for the Messias, the son of Joseph, who is to be slain; and the others said, it was for the evil desire which is to be slain. If the cause will be the violent death of the Messias, the son of Joseph, one can understand that which is written, And they shall look upon him whom they have pierced.”

It must be added that the Jewish fiction of a double Messias, the one a son of Joseph or of Ephraim and the other a son of David, is based precisely on Zach. 12:10, since the Jewish writers always speak of that fable in connection with this passage (cf. Gläsener, De gemino Judaorum Messia, Helmstædt, 1739, p. 145 sq.; Schöttgen, Horæ Hebraicæ, I. p. 359; Castelli, II Messia secondo gli Ebrei, Firenze, 1874, pp. 224–236; Hamburger, Real-Encycl. für Bibel und Talmud, II. p. 768; Hebraica, IV. p. 248; etc.). See in the Commentary the Messianic reference of the words: “I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone …”

ZACH. 12:1–14

The burden of the word of the Lord upon Israel: Thus saith the Lord, who stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundations of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man in him: Behold, I will make Jerusalem a lintel of surfeiting to all the peoples round about, and Juda also shall be in the siege against Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass: In that day that I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone to all peoples, all that shall lift it up shall be rent and torn, and all the kingdoms of the earth shall be gathered together against her. In that day, saith the Lord, I will strike every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness; and I will open my eyes upon the house of Juda, and will strike every horse of the nations with blindness.

And the governors of Juda shall say in their heart: Let the inhabitants of Jerusalem be strengthened for me in the Lord of hosts, their God. In that day I will make the governors of Juda like a furnace of fire amongst wood, and as a fire-brand amongst hay; and they shall devour all the peoples round about, to the right hand and to the left; and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place in Jerusalem. And the Lord shall save the tabernacles of Juda, as in the beginning, that the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not boast and magnify themselves against Juda. In that day shall the Lord protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and he that hath offended among them in that day shall be as David; and the house of David as that of God, as an angel of the Lord in their sight.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of prayers; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as the manner is to grieve for the death of the first-born. In that day there shall be a great lamentation in Jerusalem, like the lamentation of Adadremmon in the plain of Mageddon. And the land shall mourn: families and families apart; the families of the house of David apart, and their women apart; the families of the house of Nathan apart, and their women apart; the families of the house of Levi apart, and their women apart; the families of Semei apart, and their women apart. All the rest of the families, families and families apart, and their women apart.

1. It follows from what has been said that the person of the “pierced one” cannot literally refer to Judas Machabeus (Ephrem, Barhebraeus, Calmet, Sanchez, etc.).

2. The lamentation here spoken of cannot refer to the lamentations of the Jews over the destruction of Jerusalem, as St. Cyril and Eusebius have understood it; for at that time they did not look upon him that was pierced, nor did they recognize any causal nexus between the death of Christ and the destruction of the city.

3. The lamentation cannot refer to the grief of the damned at the last judgment, as Haimo, Theodoret, Rupertus, Ribera, Sa, and Estius have explained it. For that grief shall not be universal, but shall be limited to the damned; nor shall it be mingled with love and hope, as the prophet supposes in his prayerful contemplation of him that is pierced. The passage in Apoc. 1:7 is more an accommodation than a quotation of the present prophecy.

4. The grief predicted by the prophet began at the foot of the cross and has been perpetuated ever since among chosen souls. According to the prophet, it is especially the kings and the priests, i.e., the priests and those that exercise authority in the Church, that mourn over the wounds of the “pierced one;” and women in the quiet of their cloistered cells have shed innumerable tears over the affliction of their crucified love.

5. According to St. John (l. c.) the prophecy has been specially fulfilled in the piercing of the heart of Jesus. In point of fact, the prophet accurately describes the nature and effects of the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

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