« Prev Argument from the Destruction of Jerusalem and… Next »

Chapter XIII.—Argument from the Destruction of Jerusalem and Desolation of Judea.

Therefore, since the sons of Israel affirm 169that we err in receiving the Christ, who is already come, let us put in a demurrer against them out of the Scriptures themselves, to the effect that the Christ who was the theme of prediction is come; albeit by the times of Daniel’s prediction we have proved that the Christ is come already who was the theme of announcement. Now it behoved Him to be born in Bethlehem of Judah. For thus it is written in the prophet: “And thou, Bethlehem, are not the least in the leaders of Judah: for out of thee shall issue a Leader who shall feed my People Israel.”13831383    Mic. v. 2; Matt. ii. 3–6. Tertullian’s Latin agrees rather with the Greek of St. Matthew than with the LXX. But if hitherto he has not been born, what “leader” was it who was thus announced as to proceed from the tribe of Judah, out of Bethlehem? For it behoves him to proceed from the tribe of Judah and from Bethlehem. But we perceive that now none of the race of Israel has remained in Bethlehem; and (so it has been) ever since the interdict was issued forbidding any one of the Jews to linger in the confines of the very district, in order that this prophetic utterance also should be perfectly fulfilled:  “Your land is desert, your cities burnt up by fire,”—that is, (he is foretelling) what will have happened to them in time of war “your region strangers shall eat up in your sight, and it shall be desert and subverted by alien peoples.”13841384    See Isa. i. 7. And in another place it is thus said through the prophet: “The King with His glory ye shall see,”—that is, Christ, doing deeds of power in the glory of God the Father;13851385    Comp. John v. 43; x. 37, 38. “and your eyes shall see the land from afar,”13861386    Isa. xxxiii. 17.—which is what you do, being prohibited, in reward of your deserts, since the storming of Jerusalem, to enter into your land; it is permitted you merely to see it with your eyes from afar: “your soul,” he says, “shall meditate terror,”13871387    Isa. xxxiii. 18.—namely, at the time when they suffered the ruin of themselves.13881388    Comp. the “failing eyes” in the passage from Deuteronomy given in c. xi., if “eyes” is to be taken as the subject here. If not, we have another instance of the slipshod writing in which this treatise abounds. How, therefore, will a “leader” be born from Judea, and how far will he “proceed from Bethlehem,” as the divine volumes of the prophets do plainly announce; since none at all is left there to this day of (the house of) Israel, of whose stock Christ could be born?

Now, if (according to the Jews) He is hitherto not come, when He begins to come whence will He be anointed?13891389    As His name “Christ” or “Messiah” implies. For the Law enjoined that, in captivity, it was not lawful for the unction of the royal chrism to be compounded.13901390    Comp. Ex. xxx. 22–33. But, if there is no longer “unction” there13911391    i.e., in Jerusalem or Judea. as Daniel prophesied (for he says, “Unction shall be exterminated”), it follows that they13921392    The Jews. no longer have it, because neither have they a temple where was the “horn”13931393    Comp. 1 Kings (3 Kings in LXX.) i. 39, where the Eng. ver. has “an horn;” the LXX. τὸ κέρας, “the horn;” which at that time, of course, was in David’s tabernacle (2 Sam.—2 Kings in LXX.—vi. 17,) for “temple” there was yet none. from which kings were wont to be anointed.  If, then, there is no unction, whence shall be anointed the “leader” who shall be born in Bethlehem? or how shall he proceed “from Bethlehem,” seeing that of the seed of Israel none at all exists in Bethlehem.

A second time, in fact, let us show that Christ is already come, (as foretold) through the prophets, and has suffered, and is already received back in the heavens, and thence is to come accordingly as the predictions prophesied. For, after His advent, we read, according to Daniel, that the city itself had to be exterminated; and we recognise that so it has befallen. For the Scripture says thus, that “the city and the holy place are simultaneously exterminated together with the leader,”13941394    Dan. ix. 26.—undoubtedly (that Leader) who was to proceed “from Bethlehem,” and from the tribe of “Judah.” Whence, again, it is manifest that “the city must simultaneously be exterminated” at the time when its “Leader” had to suffer in it, (as foretold) through the Scriptures of the prophets, who say: “I have outstretched my hands the whole day unto a People contumacious and gainsaying Me, who walketh in a way not good, but after their own sins.”13951395    See Isa. lxv. 2; Rom. x. 21. And in the Psalms, David says: “They exterminated my hands and feet: they counted all my bones; they themselves, moreover, contemplated and saw me, and in my thirst slaked me with vinegar.”13961396    Ps. xxii. 16, 17 (xxi. 17, 18, in LXX.), and lxix. 21 (lxviii. 22 in LXX.). These things David did not suffer, so as to seem justly to have spoken of himself; but the Christ who was crucified.  Moreover, the “hands and feet,” are not “exterminated,”13971397    i.e., displaced, dislocated. except His who is suspended on a “tree.”  Whence, again, David said that “the Lord would reign from the tree:”13981398    See c. x. above. for elsewhere, too, the prophet predicts the fruit of this “tree,” saying “The earth hath given her blessings,”13991399    See Ps. lxvii. 6 (lxvi. 7 in LXX.), lxxxv. 12 (lxxxiv. 13 in LXX.).—of course that virgin-earth, not yet irrigated with rains, nor fertilized by 170showers, out of which man was of yore first formed, out of which now Christ through the flesh has been born of a virgin; “and the tree,”14001400    “Lignum,” as before. he says, “hath brought his fruit,”14011401    See Joel ii. 22.—not that “tree” in paradise which yielded death to the protoplasts, but the “tree” of the passion of Christ, whence life, hanging, was by you not believed!14021402    See c. xi. above, and the note there. For this “tree” in a mystery,14031403    Sacramento. it was of yore wherewith Moses sweetened the bitter water; whence the People, which was perishing of thirst in the desert, drank and revived;14041404    See Ex. xv. 22–26. just as we do, who, drawn out from the calamities of the heathendom14051405    Sæculi. in which we were tarrying perishing with thirst (that is, deprived of the divine word), drinking, “by the faith which is on Him,”14061406    See Acts xxvi. 18, ad fin. the baptismal water of the “tree” of the passion of Christ, have revived,—a faith from which Israel has fallen away, (as foretold) through Jeremiah, who says, “Send, and ask exceedingly whether such things have been done, whether nations will change their gods (and these are not gods!). But My People hath changed their glory: whence no profit shall accrue to them: the heaven turned pale thereat” (and when did it turn pale? undoubtedly when Christ suffered), “and shuddered,” he says, “most exceedingly;”14071407    See Jer. ii. 10–12. and “the sun grew dark at mid-day:”14081408    See Amos viii. 9, as before, in c.x. (and when did it “shudder exceedingly” except at the passion of Christ, when the earth also trembled to her centre, and the veil of the temple was rent, and the tombs were burst asunder?14091409    See Matt. xxvii. 45, 50–52; Mark xv. 33, 37, 38, Luke xxiii. 44, 45. “because these two evils hath My People done; Me,” He says, “they have quite forsaken, the fount of water of life,14101410    ὑδατος ζωῆς in the LXX. here (ed. Tischendorf, who quotes the Cod. Alex. as reading, however, ὑδατος ζῶντος). Comp. Rev. xxii. 1, 17, and xxi. 6; John vii. 37–39. (The reference, it will be seen, is still to Jer. ii. 10–13; but the writer has mixed up words of Amos therewith.) and they have digged for themselves worn-out tanks, which will not be able to contain water.” Undoubtedly, by not receiving Christ, the “fount of water of life,” they have begun to have “worn-out tanks,” that is, synagogues for the use of the “dispersions of the Gentiles,”14111411    Comp. The τὴν διασπορὰν τῶν ῾Ελλήνων of John vii. 35; and see 1 Pet. i. 1. in which the Holy Spirit no longer lingers, as for the time past He was wont to tarry in the temple before the advent of Christ, who is the true temple of God. For, that they should withal suffer this thirst of the Divine Spirit, the prophet Isaiah had said, saying: “Behold, they who serve Me shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; they who serve Me shall drink, but ye shall thirst, and from general tribulation of spirit shall howl: for ye shall transmit your name for a satiety to Mine elect, but you the Lord shall slay; but for them who serve Me shall be named a new name, which shall be blessed in the lands.”14121412    See Isa. lxv. 13–16 in LXX.

Again, the mystery of this “tree”14131413    Hujus ligni sacramentum. we read as being celebrated even in the Books of the Reigns. For when the sons of the prophets were cutting “wood”14141414    Lignum. with axes on the bank of the river Jordan, the iron flew off and sank in the stream; and so, on Elisha14151415    Helisæo. Comp. Luke iv. 27. the prophet’s coming up, the sons of the prophets beg of him to extract from the stream the iron which had sunk. And accordingly Elisha, having taken “wood,” and cast it into that place where the iron had been submerged, forthwith it rose and swam on the surface,14161416    The careless construction of leaving the nominative “Elisha” with no verb to follow it is due to the original, not to the translator. and the “wood” sank, which the sons of the prophets recovered.14171417    See 2 Kings vi. 1–7 (4 Kings vi. 1–7 in LXX). It is not said, however, that the wood sank. Whence they understood that Elijah’s spirit was presently conferred upon him.14181418    This conclusion they had drawn before, and are not said to have drawn, consequently, upon this occasion. See 2 Kings (4 Kings in LXX.) ii. 16. What is more manifest than the mystery14191419    Sacramento. of this “wood,”—that the obduracy of this world14201420    “Sæculi,” or perhaps here “heathendom.” had been sunk in the profundity of error, and is freed in baptism by the “wood” of Christ, that is, of His passion; in order that what had formerly perished through the “tree” in Adam, should be restored through the “tree” in Christ?14211421    For a similar argument, see Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo? l. i. c. iii. sub fin. while we, of course, who have succeeded to, and occupy, the room of the prophets, at the present day sustain in the world14221422    Sæculo. that treatment which the prophets always suffered on account of divine religion: for some they stoned, some they banished; more, however, they delivered to mortal slaughter,14231423    Mortis necem.—a fact which they cannot deny.14241424    Comp. Acts vii. 51, 52; Heb. xi. 32–38.

This “wood,” again, Isaac the son of Abraham personally carried for his own sacrifice, when God had enjoined that he should be made a victim to Himself. But, because these had been mysteries14251425    Sacramenta. which were being kept for perfect fulfilment in the times of Christ, Isaac, on the one hand, with his “wood,” was reserved, the ram being of171fered which was caught by the horns in the bramble;14261426    See Gen. xxii. 1–14. Christ, on the other hand, in His times, carried His “wood” on His own shoulders, adhering to the horns of the cross, with a thorny crown encircling His head. For Him it behoved to be made a sacrifice on behalf of all Gentiles, who “was led as a sheep for a victim, and, like a lamb voiceless before his shearer, so opened not His mouth” (for He, when Pilate interrogated Him, spake nothing14271427    See Matt. xxvii. 11–14; Mark xv. 1–5; John xix. 8–12.); for “in humility His judgment was taken away:  His nativity, moreover, who shall declare?” Because no one at all of human beings was conscious of the nativity of Christ at His conception, when as the Virgin Mary was found pregnant by the word of God; and because “His life was to be taken from the land.”14281428    See Isa. liii. 7, 8. Why, accordingly, after His resurrection from the dead, which was effected on the third day, did the heavens receive Him back? It was in accordance with a prophecy of Hosea, uttered on this wise:  “Before daybreak shall they arise unto Me, saying, Let us go and return unto the Lord our God, because Himself will draw us out and free us. After a space of two days, on the third day”14291429    Oehler refers to Hos. vi. 1; add 2 (ad init.).—which is His glorious resurrection—He received back into the heavens (whence withal the Spirit Himself had come to the Virgin14301430    See Luke i. 35.) Him whose nativity and passion alike the Jews have failed to acknowledge. Therefore, since the Jews still contend that the Christ is not yet come, whom we have in so many ways approved14311431    For this sense of the word “approve,” comp. Acts ii. 22, Greek and English, and Phil. i. 10, Greek and English. to be come, let the Jews recognise their own fate,—a fate which they were constantly foretold as destined to incur after the advent of the Christ, on account of the impiety with which they despised and slew Him. For first, from the day when, according to the saying of Isaiah, “a man cast forth his abominations of gold and silver, which they made to adore with vain and hurtful (rites),”14321432    See Isa. ii. 20.—that is, ever since we Gentiles, with our breast doubly enlightened through Christ’s truth, cast forth (let the Jews see it) our idols,—what follows has likewise been fulfilled. For “the Lord of Sabaoth hath taken away, among the Jews from Jerusalem,” among the other things named, “the wise architect” too,14331433    See Isa. iii. 1, 3; and comp. 1 Cor. iii. 10; Eph. ii. 20, 21; 1 Pet. ii. 4–8, and many similar passages. who builds the church, God’s temple, and the holy city, and the house of the Lord. For thenceforth God’s grace desisted (from working) among them. And “the clouds were commanded not to rain a shower upon the vineyard of Sorek,”14341434    Comp. Isa. v. 2 in LXX. and Lowth.—the clouds being celestial benefits, which were commanded not to be forthcoming to the house of Israel; for it “had borne thorns”—whereof that house of Israel had wrought a crown for Christ—and not “righteousness, but a clamour,”—the clamour whereby it had extorted His surrender to the cross.14351435    Comp. Isa. v. 6, 7, with Matt. xxvii. 20–25, Mark xv. 8–15, Luke xxiii. 13–25, John xix. 12–16. And thus, the former gifts of grace being withdrawn, “the law and the prophets were until John,”14361436    Matt. xi. 13; Luke xvi. 16. and the fishpool of Bethsaida14371437    See John v. 1–9; and comp. de Bapt. c. v., and the note there. until the advent of Christ: thereafter it ceased curatively to remove from Israel infirmities of health; since, as the result of their perseverance in their frenzy, the name of the Lord was through them blasphemed, as it is written: “On your account the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles:”14381438    See Isa. lii. 5; Ezek. xxxvi. 20, 23; Rom. ii. 24. (The passage in Isaiah in the LXX. agrees with Rom. ii. 24.) for it is from them that the infamy (attached to that name) began, and (was propagated during) the interval from Tiberius to Vespasian. And because they had committed these crimes, and had failed to understand that Christ “was to be found”14391439    See Isa. lv. 6, 7. in “the time of their visitation,”14401440    See Luke xix. 41–44. their land has been made “desert, and their cities utterly burnt with fire, while strangers devour their region in their sight: the daughter of Sion is derelict, as a watch-tower in a vineyard, or as a shed in a cucumber garden,”—ever since the time, to wit, when “Israel knew not” the Lord, and “the People understood Him not;” but rather “quite forsook, and provoked unto indignation, the Holy One of Israel.”14411441    See Isa. i. 7, 8, 4. So, again, we find a conditional threat of the sword: “If ye shall have been unwilling, and shall not have been obedient, the glaive shall eat you up.”14421442    Isa. i. 20. Whence we prove that the sword was Christ, by not hearing whom they perished; who, again, in the Psalm, demands of the Father their dispersion, saying, “Disperse them in Thy power;”14431443    See Ps. lix. 11 (lviii. 12 in LXX.) who, withal, again through Isaiah prays for their utter burning. “On My account,” He says, “have these things happened to you; in anxiety shall ye sleep.”14441444    See Isa. l. 11 in LXX.

Since, therefore, the Jews were predicted as destined to suffer these calamities on Christ’s account, and we find that they have suffered them, and see them sent into dispersion and 172abiding in it, manifest it is that it is on Christ’s account that these things have befallen the Jews, the sense of the Scriptures harmonizing with the issue of events and of the order of the times. Or else, if Christ is not yet come, on whose account they were predicted as destined thus to suffer, when He shall have come it follows that they will thus suffer. And where will then be a daughter of Sion to be derelict, who now has no existence? where the cities to be exust, which are already exust and in heaps? where the dispersion of a race which is now in exile? Restore to Judea the condition which Christ is to find; and (then, if you will), contend that some other (Christ) is coming.

« Prev Argument from the Destruction of Jerusalem and… Next »


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |