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

1. STRUCTURE OF THE CANTICLE.—According to the metrical analysis of Professor Bickell (p. 201) the chapter forms two stanzas, each containing six alternately octosyllabic and hexasyllabic verses, the last verse of each stanza numbering, however, ten syllables. But in order to reduce the canticle to this form, the Professor has to omit the second line of the second stanza. If we adhere to the text as it stands in the common editions of the Bible, the second stanza contains seven instead of six lines: the first and second of these are octosyllabic, the third hexasyllabic, the fourth and sixth again octosyllabic, the fifth hexasyllabic, and the last decasyllabic. Professor Bickell’s omission of the foregoing line would be correct, if it were certain that the first and second stanza are exactly alike in their structure. But Ps. 107 shows that this is not always the case; and this irregularity is the more probable in the present case, because the additional verse here in question forms a kind of poetic repetition of the preceding line, a repetition wholly in conformity with the Hebrew manner of writing and thinking. Again, the LXX., the Syriac, and the Chaldee versions, and St. Jerome, clearly retain the clause rejected by Bickell; the commentary will show that the meaning of the clause exactly agrees with what precedes and follows it. We are justified, therefore, in contending that, though the first stanza of the canticle contains six lines, its second stanza numbers seven.

All commentators agree that the two stanzas exhibit also the division of thought in Isaias’ canticle. The first stanza describes the Messianic salvation, and the second, which begins with the same formula, describes the effects of this salvation. The chapter may, therefore, be compared with the canticle of Moses, in whose second part the effects of the people’s delivery are celebrated. There is no necessity of dividing each stanza again into two parts, expressing respectively the words of the redeemed and of the prophet (Drechsler), or of supposing that the end of the first stanza forms a kind of interruption, exhibiting the announcement of the prophet (Delitzsch, Nägelsbach). For we may well suppose that the redeemed themselves exhort one another to praise and thanksgiving, as they do, in point of fact, in the beginning of the second stanza (cf. Ps. 68:27; 60:6; 97:4; etc.).

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. The Messianic character of the canticle follows clearly from its very text. For the exhortation of the redeemed, “make his [the Lord’s] inventions known among the people,” shows that the divine praise is not limited to Palestine, but extends to the Gentiles. This is, in the Old Testament, commonly represented as belonging to the times of the Messias (Is. 2:2; 11:10; etc.).

b. The context, too, gives the canticle a Messianic bearing; for the chapter closes what may be called the Book of Emmanuel, which begins with ch. 7. The salvation, whether temporal or spiritual, throughout this Book is represented as being due to the merits of the Emmanuel or the Messias (cf. the chapters on “the Son of the Virgin,” “the Prince of Peace,” and “the Emmanuel”). Since, then, ch. 12 contains a hymn of praise for the benefits described in the preceding chapters, it, too, has a Messianic bearing.

c. The Messianic character of the chapter is also asserted in the New Testament: John 4:13 f. at least alludes to the waters of Siloe, mentioned by Isaias: “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him shall not thirst for ever …” John 7:37 furnishes another instance in which Jesus calls himself the water of Siloe: “If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.” Similar allusions to the saving waters of Siloe are found in Apoc. 7:17; 21:6.

d. The references to the patristic testimonies in favor of the Messianic bearing of the chapter may be found in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, 2d ed., i. p. 360.

e. The tradition of the Synagogue as to the Messianic application of verse 3 is sufficiently established by the ancient practice of pouring out the water on the Feast of Tabernacles. The Midrash on Ps. 117 (118):23 speaks, in connection with Is. 12:5, first of the admiration of the Egyptians when they saw the change in Israel from servitude to glory on their Exodus, and then adds, that the words were intended by the spirit to apply to the wonders of the latter days (ed. Warsh., p. 85, b; cf. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, ii. p. 724).

IS. 12

And thou shalt say in that day:

I will give thanks to thee, O Lord, for thou wast angry with me,

Thy wrath is turned away, and thou hast comforted me;

Behold, God is my saviour; I will deal confidently, and will not fear,

Because the Lord is my strength and my praise,

And he is become my salvation;

You shall draw waters with joy out of the Saviour’s fountains.

And you shall say in that day:

Praise ye the Lord, and call upon his name,

Make his inventions known among the people,

Remember that his name is high;

Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath done great things,

Show this forth in all the earth;

Rejoice and praise, O thou habitation of Sion,

For great is he that is in the midst of thee, the holy One of Israel.

The prophet proposes in this canticle a summary, as it were, of the Messianic work on earth. The goodness of God shall be made known to all the nations of the earth, and consequently the Holy One of Israel shall be great in the midst of his people; in other words, God shall be better known and more glorified. This prophetic description of the Messianic work agrees exactly with the words of the high-priestly prayer of Jesus himself (John 17:4): “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest to me to do.” The Messianic work is therefore God’s glory on earth. With this testimony of Jesus agrees the testimony of the seraphim, beheld by Isaias in his prophetic vision (6:3): “And they [the seraphim] cried one to another; and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of Hosts, all the earth is full of his glory.” To show that Jesus Christ has fully accomplished this task, the Church daily repeats the words of the seraphim by the mouth of her minister at the altar, using them as a sublime transition from the Preface to the Canon. And since all true Christians are bound by the same motive of disinterested divine love, the priest solemnly pronounces in the Gloria the touching prayer: “Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam,”—“We give thee thanks for thy great glory.”








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