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II. Having thus explained the words and meaning of the prophecy, I now proceed to show the full and exact completion of it. The twelve sons of Jacob are here constituted twelve tribes, or heads of tribes, · All these are the twelve tribes of Israel; and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them,'—ver. 28. To Judah particularly it was promised, that “the sceptre' or rod of the tribe should not depart from him, nor a' judge or · lawgiver from between his feet :' his tribe should continue a distinct tribe with rulers and judges and governers of its own, until the coming of the Messiah. The people of Israel after this settlement of their vernment were reckoned by their tribes, but never beforc. It appears that they were reckoned by their tribes and according to their families, while they sojourned in Egypt: and the tribe of Judah made as considerable a figure as any of them. In number it was superior to the others, Numb. i. and xxvi : it had the first rank in the armies of Israel, Numb. ii : it marched first against the Canaanites, Judg. i: and upon all occasions manifested such courage as fully answered the character given of it, ver. 9.-Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up; he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion, who shall rouse him up?' If the first king of Israel was of the tribe of Benjamin, the second was of the tribe of Judah; and from that time to the Babylonish captivity Judah had not only the sceptre of a tribe, but likewise the sceptre of a kingdom. When it was promised to Judah particularly that the sceptre should not depart from him, it was implied that it should depart from the other tribes : and accordingly the tribe of Benjamin became a sort of appendage to the kingdom of Judah; and the other ten tribes were after a time carried away captive into Assyria, from whence they never returned. The Jews also were carried captive to Babylon, but returned after seventy years : and during their captivity they were far from being treated as slaves, as it appears from the prophet's advice to them, Jerem. xxix. 5. &c.—Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them,' &c. and many of them were so well fixed and settled at Babylon, and lived there in such ease and affluence, that they refused to return to their native coun. try. In their captivity they were still allowed to live as a distinct medio civium Jud. ante Messiæ imperium universale non abscessurus.' - Syllog. Dissertat. Vol 1. Mann's Crit. Note in locum. (A ruler shall not depart from Judah nefore the universal kingdom of the Messiah.]

people, appointed feasts and fasts for themselves, and had rulers and governors of their own, as we may collect from several places in Ezra and Nehemiah. When Cyrus had issued his proclamation for the rebuilding of the temple, “then rose up the chief of the fathers,' saith Ezra, i. 5; so that they had chiefs and rulers among them. Cyrus ordered the vessels of the temple to be delivered to the prince of Judah,'—Ezra i. 1; so that thay had then a prince of Judah. And these princes and rulers, who are often mentioned, managed their return and settlement afterwards. It is true, that after the Babylonish captivity they were not so free a people as before, living under the dominion of the Persians, Greeks, and Romans; but still they lived as a distinct people under their own laws. The authority of their rulers and elders subsisted under these foreign masters, as it had even while they were in Egypt. It subsisted under the Asmoncan princes, as it had under the government of the Judges, and Samuel, and Saul; for in the books of Maccabees there is frequent mention of the rulers and elders and council of the Jews,' and of public acts and memorials in their name. It subsisted even in our Saviour's time, for in the Gospels we read often of the chief priests and the scribes and the elders of the people. Their power indeed in capital causes, especially such as related to the state, was abridged in some measure; they might judge, but not execute without the consent of the Roman Governor, as I think we must infer from this passage, John xviii. 31.

Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye hin, and judge him according to your law : the Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.' The sceptre was then departing, and in about forty years afterwards it totally departed. Their city was taken, their temple was destroyed, and they themselves were either slain with the sword, or sold for slaves. And from that time to this they have never formed one body or society, but have been dispersed among all nations; their tribes and gencalogies have been all confounded, and they have lived without a ruler, without a lawgiver, and without supreme authority and government in any part of the earth. And this a captivity, not for seventy ycars, but for seventeen hundred. "Nor will they ever be able (as the learned prelate* expresseth it) after all their pretences, to shew any signs or marks of the sceptre among them, till they discriver the unknown country, 'where never mankind dwelt,'

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* Bishop Sherlock's Dissertat. 31, p. 351. Edit. 5

and where the apocryphal Esdras has placed their brethren of the ten tribes.” 2 Esdras, xii. 41.

We have seen the exact completion of the former part of the prophecy, and now let us attend to that of the latter part, · And unto him shall the gathering of the people be.' If we understand this of Judah, that the other tribes should be gathered to that tribe, it was in some measure fulfilled by the people's going up so frequently as they did to Jerusalem, which was in the tribe of Judah, in order to obtain justice in difficult cases, and to worship God in his holy temple. Whither the tribes go up, (saith the Psalmist, cxxii. 4, 5,) the tribes of the Lord ; unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. For there are set thrones of judgment; the thrones of the house of David.' Upon the division of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the tribe of Benjamin and the priests and Levites, and several out of all the other tribes, 2 Chron. xi. 13, 16, went over to Judah, and were so blended and incorporated together, that they are more than once spoken of under the notion of

one tribe,'— 1 Kings, xi. 13, 32, 36 : and it is said expressly, 1 Kings, xii. 20,— There was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only ;' all th“ „est were swallowed up in that tribe, and considered as parts and members of it. In like manner, when the Israelites were carried away captive into Assyria, it is said, 2 Kings, xvii. 18,---- there was none left but the tribe of Judah only :' and yet we know that the tribe of Benjamin, and many of the other tribes remained too, but they are reckoned as one and the same tribe with Judah. Nay, at this very time there was a remnant of Israel, that escaped from the Assyrians, and went and adhered to Judah; for we find afterwards, that in the reign of Josiah, there were some of 'Manasseh, and Ephraim, and of the remnant of Israel,' who contributed money to the repairing of the temple, as well as · Judah and Benjamin,'---2 Chron. xxxiv.9; and at the solemn celebration of the passover, some of Israel were present,' as well as 'all Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.' When the people returned from the Babylonish captivity, then again several of the tribes of Israel associated themselves, and returned with Judah and Benjamin : ‘and in Jerusalem dwelt of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin, and of the children of Ephraim and Manasseh.'---1 Chron. ix. 3. At so many different times, and upon such different occasions, the other tribes were gathered to this tribe, insomuch that Judah became the general name of the whole nation ; and after the Babylo

nish captivity they were no longer called the people of Israel,' but the people of Judah,' or Jews.

Again : if we understand this of Shiloh or the Messiah, that the people or Gentiles should be gathered to his obedience, it is no more than is foretold in many other prophecies of scripture; and it began to be fulfilled in Cornelius the centurion, whose conversion, Acts, X., was, as I may say, the first fruits of the Gentiles, and the harvest afterwards was very plenteous. In a few years the gospel was disseminated, and took root downwards, and bore fruit upwards' in the most considerable parts of the world then known; and in Constantine's time, when the empire became Christian, it might with some propriety be said, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever,'---Rev. xi. 15. We ourselves were of the Gentiles, but are now gathered unto Christ.

Lastly: if we join this in construction with the words preceding, until Shiloh come,' two events are specified as forerunners of the sceptre's departing from Judah, the coming of the Messiah, and the gathering of the Gentiles to him; and these together point out with greater exactness, the precise time of the sceptre's departure. Now, it is certain, that before the destruction of Jerusalem, and the dissolution of the Jewish commonwealth by the Romans, the Messiah was not only come, but great numbers likewise of the Gentiles where converted to him. The very same thing was pre dicted by our Saviour himself, Matt. xxiv. 14.—This gospel or the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come,' the destruction of Jerusalem, and end of the Jewish constitution. The Jews were not to be cut off, till the Gentiles were grafted into the church. And in fact, we find that the apostles and their companions preached the Gospel in all the parts of the world then known. Their sound, as St. Paul applies the saying, Rom. x. 1, went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.' And then the end came;' then an end was put to the Jewish polity in church and state. The government of the tribe of Judah had subsisted in some form or other from the death of Jacob to the last destruction of Jerusalem : but then it was utterly broken and ruined; then the sceptre departed, and hath been departed ever since. And now, ever the distinction of tribes is in great measure lost among them; they are all called Jews, but the tribe of Judah is so far from bearing rule, that they know not for certain which is the tribe of Judah ; and all the world is witness, that they exercise dominion no where, bu: every where live in subjection.

Before we conclude, it may not be improper to add a just observation of the learned prelate before cited. As the tribe of Benjamin annexed itself to the tribe of Judah, as its head, so it ran the same fortune with it; they went together into captivity, they returned home together, and were both in being when Shiloh came. This also was foretold by Jacob, ver. 27,-- Benjamin shall raven as a wolf; in the morning be shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.' The morning and night here can be nothing else but the morning and night* of the Jewish state ; for this state is the subject of all Jacob's prophecy from one end to the other : and consequently it is here foretold of Benjamin, that he should continue to the very last times of the Jewish state. This interpretation is confirmed by Moses's prophecy, for the prophecy of Moses is, in truth, an exposition of Jacob's prophecy. · Benjamin' saith Moses, Deut. xxxiii. 12,' shall dwell in safety; the Lord shall cover him all the day long.' What is this all the day long ?' The same certainly as the morning and night.' Does not this import a promise of a longer continuance to Benjamin, than to the other tribes? And was it not most exactly fulfilled ?

To conclude. This prophecy and the completion of it, will furnish us with an invincible argument, not only that the Messiah is come, but also that Jesus Christ is the person, For the sceptre was not to depart from Judah until the Messiah should come ; but the sceptre hath long been departed, and consequently the Messiah hath been long come. The sceptre departed at the final destruction of Jerusalem, and hath been departed seventeen centuries, and consequently the Messiah came a little before that period : and if the Messiah came a little before that period, prejudice itself cannot long make any doubt concerning the person. All considerate men must say, as Simon Peter said to Jesus, John, vi. 68, 69,- Lord, to whom shall we go ? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.'

* Thus some Jewish interpreters, referred to by Bochart, understood the expression, Mane, id est primis Israelitici regui temporibus-Sub vesperam, id est, post captivitatis Babylonicæ tempora. [In the morning, that is, in the earliest times of the kingdom of Israel - In the evening, that is, after the time of the Babylonish captivity.! Hierozoic. Pars prior. Lib. 3. Cap. 10. Col. 828.

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