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Expository Treatise Against the Jews.
1. Now, then, incline thine ear to me, and hear my words, and give heed, thou Jew. Many a time dost thou boast thyself, in that thou didst condemn Jesus of Nazareth to death, and didst give Him vinegar and gall to drink; and thou dost vaunt thyself because of this. Come therefore, and let us consider together whether perchance thou dost not boast unrighteously, O Israel, (and) whether that small portion of vinegar and gall has not brought down this fearful threatening upon thee, (and) whether this is not the cause of thy present condition involved in these myriad troubles.
2. Let him then be introduced before us who speaketh by the Holy Spirit, and saith truth—David the son of Jesse. He, singing a certain strain with prophetic reference to the true Christ, celebrated our God by the Holy Spirit, (and) declared clearly all that befell Him by the hands of the Jews in His passion; in which (strain) the Christ who humbled Himself and took unto Himself the form of the servant Adam, calls upon God the Father in heaven as it were in our person, and speaks thus in the sixty-ninth Psalm: “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I am sunk in the mire of the abyss,” that is to say, in the corruption of Hades, on account of the transgression in paradise; and “there is no substance,” that is, help. “My eyes failed while I hoped (or, from my hoping) upon my God; when will He come and save me?”15661566 Ps. lxix. 1 ff.
3. Then, in what next follows, Christ speaks, as it were, in His own person: “Then I restored that,” says He, “which I took not away;” that is, on account of the sin of Adam I endured the death which was not mine by sinning. “For, O God, Thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from Thee,” that is, “for I did not sin,” as He means it; and for this reason (it is added), “Let not them be ashamed who want to see” my resurrection on the third day, to wit, the apostles. “Because for Thy sake,” that is, for the sake of obeying Thee, “I have borne reproach,” namely the cross, when “they covered my face with shame,” that is to say, the Jews; when “I became a stranger unto my brethren after the flesh, and an alien unto my mother’s children,” meaning (by the mother) the synagogue. “For the zeal of Thine house, Father, hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen on me,” and of them that sacrificed to idols. Wherefore “they that sit in the gate spoke against me,” for they crucified me without the gate. “And they that drink sang against me,” that is, (they who drink wine) at the feast of the passover. “But as for me, in my prayer unto Thee, O 220Lord, I said, Father, forgive them,” namely the Gentiles, because it is the time for favour with Gentiles. “Let not then the hurricane (of temptations) overwhelm me, neither let the deep (that is, Hades) swallow me up: for Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Hades); neither let the pit shut her mouth upon me,”15671567 Ps. xvi. 10. that is, the sepulchre. “By reason of mine enemies, deliver me,” that the Jews may not boast, saying, Let us consume him.
4. Now Christ prayed all this economically15681568 οἰκονομικῶς. [The Fathers find Christ everywhere in Scripture, and often understand the expressions of David to be those of our Lord’s humanity, by economy.] as man; being, however, true God. But, as I have already said, it was the “form of the servant”15691569 Phil. ii. 7. that spake and suffered these things. Wherefore He added, “My soul looked for reproach and trouble,” that is, I suffered of my own will, (and) not by any compulsion. Yet “I waited for one to mourn with me, and there was none,” for all my disciples forsook me and fled; and for a “comforter, and I found none.”
5. Listen with understanding, O Jew, to what the Christ says: “They gave me gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” And these things He did indeed endure from you. Hear the Holy Ghost tell you also what return He made to you for that little portion of vinegar. For the prophet says, as in the person of God, “Let their table become a snare and retribution.” Of what retribution does He speak? Manifestly, of the misery which has now got hold of thee.
6. And then hear what follows: “Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not.” And surely ye have been darkened in the eyes of your soul with a darkness utter and everlasting. For now that the true light has arisen, ye wander as in the night, and stumble on places with no roads, and fall headlong, as having forsaken the way that saith, “I am the way.”15701570 John xiv. 6. Furthermore, hear this yet more serious word: “And their back do thou bend always;” that means, in order that they may be slaves to the nations, not four hundred and thirty years as in Egypt, nor seventy as in Babylon, but bend them to servitude, he says, “always.” In fine, then, how dost thou indulge vain hopes, expecting to be delivered from the misery which holdeth thee? For that is somewhat strange. And not unjustly has he imprecated this blindness of eyes upon thee. But because thou didst cover the eyes of Christ, (and15711571 The text is οὕτως, for which read perhaps ὅτε = when.) thus thou didst beat Him, for this reason, too, bend thou thy back for servitude always. And whereas thou didst pour out His blood in indignation, hear what thy recompense shall be: “Pour out Thine indignation upon them, and let Thy wrathful anger take hold of them;” and, “Let their habitation be desolate,” to wit, their celebrated temple.
7. But why, O prophet, tell us, and for what reason, was the temple made desolate? Was it on account of that ancient fabrication of the calf? Was it on account of the idolatry of the people? Was it for the blood of the prophets? Was it for the adultery and fornication of Israel? By no means, he says; for in all these transgressions they always found pardon open to them, and benignity; but it was because they killed the Son of their Benefactor, for He is coeternal with the Father. Whence He saith, “Father, let their temple be made desolate;15721572 Cf. Matt. xxiii. 38. for they have persecuted Him whom Thou didst of Thine own will smite for the salvation of the world;” that is, they have persecuted me with a violent and unjust death, “and they have added to the pain of my wounds.” In former time, as the Lover of man, I had pain on account of the straying of the Gentiles; but to this pain they have added another, by going also themselves astray. Wherefore “add iniquity to their iniquity, and tribulation to tribulation, and let them not enter into Thy righteousness,” that is, into Thy kingdom; but “let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous,” that is, with their holy fathers and patriarchs.
8. What sayest thou to this, O Jew? It is neither Matthew nor Paul that saith these things, but David, thine anointed, who awards and declares these terrible sentences on account of Christ. And like the great Job, addressing you who speak against the righteous and true, he says, “Thou didst barter the Christ like a slave, thou didst go to Him like a robber in the garden.”
9. I produce now the prophecy of Solomon, which speaketh of Christ, and announces clearly and perspicuously things concerning the Jews; and those which not only are befalling them at the present time, but those, too, which shall befall them in the future age, on account of the contumacy and audacity which they exhibited toward the Prince of Life; for the prophet says, “The ungodly said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright,” that is, about Christ, “Let us lie in wait for the righteous, because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings and words, and upbraideth us with our offending the law, and professeth to have knowledge of God; and he calleth himself the Child of God.”15731573 Wisd. ii. 1, 12, 13. And then he says, “He is grievous to us even to behold; for his life is not like other men’s, and his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits, and he 221abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness, and pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed.”15741574 Wisd. ii. 15, 16. And again, listen to this, O Jew! None of the righteous or prophets called himself the Son of God. And therefore, as in the person of the Jews, Solomon speaks again of this righteous one, who is Christ, thus: “He was made to reprove our thoughts, and he maketh his boast that God is his Father. Let us see, then, if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him; for if the just man be the Son of God, He will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies. Let us condemn him with a shameful death, for by his own saying he shall be respected.”15751575 Wisd. ii. 14, 16, 17, 20. [The argument is ad hominem. The Jews valued this book, but did not account it to be Scripture; yet this quotation is a very remarkable comment on what ancient Jews understood concerning the Just One. Comp. Acts iii. 14; vii. 52; and xxii. 14.]
10. And again David, in the Psalms, says with respect to the future age, “Then shall He” (namely Christ) “speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure.”15761576 Ps. ii. 5. And again Solomon says concerning Christ and the Jews, that “when the righteous shall stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted Him, and made no account of His words, when they see it they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of His salvation; and they, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves, This is He whom we had sometimes in derision and a proverb of reproach; we fools accounted His life madness, and His end to be without honour. How is He numbered among the children of God, and His lot is among the saints? Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined unto us, and the sun of righteousness rose not on us. We wearied ourselves in the way of wickedness and destruction; we have gone through deserts where there lay no way: but as for the way of the Lord, we have not known it. What hath our pride profited us? all those things are passed away like a shadow.”15771577 Wisd. v. 1–9.
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