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on the Sabbath he dare not cross it, else he would have been stoned to death according to the law; nor could he cross it during the two hours before the Sabbath, for the breadth, he saith, was not less than 24 miles, English measure. Other circumstances, too, are related by this historian which appear absolutely impossible. As for example, he declares that their great king goes often to war with the neighboring nations if they fail of paying their tribute or taxes. On such occasions he is accompanied by no less than 180,000 horse in full armor, and by a force of infantry without number. And all this immense multitude crossed the river dur. ing the two hours of rest before the Sabbath commences ! Can this be true ? But who dare to deny it? For our fa. mous Rabbi Gerson has bound himself by oath to declare nothing but what he himself has seen.
Well, dear Benjamin, let it be true, say there are 24 kings beyond the river Sambatyon; what then? Why, then, the sceptre has not departed. Let it remain, and what has that to do with the prediction of Jacob? These kings and their subjects, our historian tells us, are either the descendants of the family of Moses, who was of the tribe of Levi, or of the ten tribes. But the Patriarch spake of the tribe of Judal. Some of our wise men, of blessed memory, have been wise enough to perceive that this evasion will not bear examination, and therefore have invented another, saying:
§ 3. 2. That the sceptre was not to depart for ever, when the Messiah shall come. This opinion rests upon the separation of the two particles, Ad and Ki, translated until. Now, my brother, you know too much of Hebrew to be in. formed that this separation of the particles is contrary to the use of the accent yethiv, which joins the words generally, and perhaps always, (Gen. 50: 15. 1 Kings, 14 : 23,) and is absolutely separated from sceptre and lawgiver by the accent Athnach. Besides, it contradicts the opinions of our Rabbins, who say that Messiah shall not reign for ever, but only 40 years, according to some; 70, according
to others, and 400 years, according to others. This trans. lation, therefore, has been abandoned by many, and instead of it,
$ 4. 3. They translate the word Shevet, a Rod; i. e. the rod of affliction shall not depart from Judah, until the Mes. siah come.
It is true, the word may signify a rod of afflic. tion, but it is not applicable to Judah; for until the destruction of the second temple, Judah prospered more than all the other tribes. The royal sceptre continued about 500 years; when the ten tribes were carried away, Judah still dwelled in peace; and when they afterward were carried to Babylon, their captivity was only 70 years. Besides, the prediction commences thus, “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise;" which includes a blessing on Judah, expressive of dignity and honor, and not of affliction and sorrow.
This translation also has been given up, and it has been supposed by some,
9 5. 4. That Shiloh means a city, i. é. the sceptre shali not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until he or it, i. e. the Ark, which shall be taken in Shiloh. The absurdity of this notion is too evident to
* Note. " There have been certain German critics, who call themselves Rationalists; but who would not have much reason to complain, if we were to denominate them infidels, since they deny any immediate revelation of truth and religion from God, and conceive themselves to be better judges of Biblical subjects than Jesus and his apostles were. Some of these (assuming very modestly that this poem, which is expressly declared, ver. 1, to be the dying farewell and prophetic monition of Jacob, is a composition of the age of David or Solomon) interpret Shiloh as the name of the town so called, near the mountains of Ephraim, and render the clause'till he come to Shiloh,' 'the tribe of Judah, which had occupied the chief place in the marches and encampments in the wilderness, shall not lay aside that honor, till the tribes shall disperse from the common standard, each to its own allotment; which dispersion shall take place in Shiloh.' See Josh. 18 and 22. "To this interpretation the following objections occur: The terms of the passage do not accord with any facts - in the march through the desert, or the
need any confutation. Nothing is said in the text of the Ark. Nor was there a sceptre in Judah until after they had come to Shiloh. Besides, we have already shown that all the ancient Rabbins and wise men understood by Shiloh, the king Messiah, and not a city. To him was to be the expectation, gathering, and obedience of the people.
§ 6. David Levi, in his notes on the Pent. says: A number of commentators have attempted to explain this passage (Gen. 49: 10) in different senses. Some explain it thus, the rod of affliction and captivity, and with which, as it were, their feet are bound, shall not depart, till the coming of Shiloh, i. e. the Messiah. For they understand the word Shevet, not to denote an ensign of royalty, but a rod; the same as in Exod. 21 : 20. And others explain it, that yasoor does not denote to depart, but to bloom, as in Jer. 2; 21. The regal power of Judah, i. e. the kingdom of the house of David, shall not bloom till Shiloh goes till the city of Shiloh loses its dignity. Agreeable to what the Psalmist says, Ps. 78: 70. And he chose David his servant, &c.
In this manner do numbers proceed, every one after his own fancy. But what I take to be the true meaning of the passage, is, that the sceptre should not depart from Judah for ever, but will return in the days of the Messiah; and which seems to coincide with what he said in verse first, 'Gather yourselves together, that I may
tell you what shall befall you in the last days,' and which are certainly meant of the coming of the Messiah ; when the
occupation of Canaan. Judah possessed no more authority than any other tribe. The sceptre and legislation were in the hands of Moses, a Levite, and the subsequent command was conferred on Joshua, an Ephraimite.' 'This interpretation would not have merited notice, but as a specimen of that noxious pseudo criticism, whose characters are self-admiring arrogance and manifest irreli. gion, employing a prodigious machinery of perverted learning, !0 compress all in Scriptures that is most solemn and important, into) insignificancy and nullity.'”—Dr. P. Smith, Scripture Testimony of the Messiah.
kingdom wil return to Judah; or, according to the first explanation that I mentioned, which will also be in the latter days." None of these evasions bearing the light of examination and argument, continuing in. force and strengthened by the other predictions which we have considered, it has at last been granted that the period of time fixed and made known at which the Messiah should appear, expired at the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and that on account of the sins and wickedness of the people.
§ 7. 5. The Messiah was either then born at Bethlehem, and hid himself, and is kept in chains; or, that his coming was delayed until Israel shall repent and perform good works. See R. Bechai in Lege f. 68, c. 2. Aben Ezra on Isa. 52 : 13; also on Cant. 7: 5. See also Echa Rab. fol. 300, c. 1, and in Nezach Israel, ch. 25, fol. 38, 1, and ch. 50, fol. 57, c. 3. Some say he is in paradise. Avodath Hackodesh, ch. 43, fol. 55, c. 2. Others say he is at Rome. Sanhed. f. 97, 1. 98, 1. Ab. Ezra on Cant. 7:5. Targum on Micah, 4:8. Buxtorf. Syn. Jud. c. 50. This opinion rests upon their assertion that the promise of a Messiah was conditional ; viz. that if all Israel be righteous, then Messiah will come at the time appointed; if not, his appear. ance will be delayed. Now as this is the present prevailing sentiment of our people, it deserves more particular attention.
$ 8. 1. The notion of a conditional promise concerning the Messiah is contrary to the distinction made by our Rabbins between a promise and a threatening. For you well know that they have laid it down as a principle, that God's threatenings are conditional, i. e. if men repent, they will not be executed; but the promises are unconditional. Hence they say if a prophet announces threatenings, and they do not come, it is no proof that he is a false prophet; but if he promises good, and it does not come to pass, it is a sure sign that he is a false prophet. R. Sepharono apud R. Judah Muscato in Sepher Cosri, f. 43, c. 1. Talmud Tanith, f. 25, c. I. Erachin, f. 15, 1. This principle seems to be reasonable and scriptural. Threatenings are in consequence of sin; if sin be repented of and forsaken, God may consistently with hold the evil threatened; but promises of blessings flow from free. love, which is no respecter of persons, and unchangeable. Hence, Numb. 23: 19, it is said, “ God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent; hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?" Again, Rom. 11:29, “ The gifts and callings of God are without repentance; i. e. God never repents of what he gives, whether by promise or actual bestowment. To return to our argument: the Messiah was either an evil threatened, or a blessing promised. The former cannot be the case, else why has he ever been the desire and prayer of our people? Surely no man is anxious for the approach of evil. He must therefore have been promised as a blessing, and as such it could not be delayed. Yet it is asserted by our people, who reject Jesus Christ, that the Messiah did not come at the appointed time, consequently the patriarchs and the prophets have delivered falsehoods. Hence some of our more judicious writers have acknowledged that the promise of a Messiah is absolute, as R. Bechai in Lege, f. 149, c. 4. Shemoth Rab. f. 116, c. 3. and Abarbanel in Sepher Emuneth, c. 14. saith, “ if Israel be worthy, the Messiah will come sooner; if they are unworthy, yet he shall come at the time predicted, as it is written, Isa. 60: 22." As the deliverance of Israel from the Egyptian bondage and from the Babylonish captivity were fixed and unconditional, so was the promise of the Messiah to deliver us from spiritual bondage and captivity unconditional.
9. Again, 2. There is no condition mentioned in any of the promises respecting the Messiah. And so far is it from being true that the people were to be all righteous at the coming of the Messiah, that the prophets declare the very reverse. Isa. 53: 3. Jer. 34 : 32, 33. Dan. 9: 24. Zech. 13:1. Mal. 3: 4. It is also expressly said by the