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"III. The Messiah in Prophecy"


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We notice that all the following prophecies involve Mary inasmuch as she is the Mother of the Promised One, inseparably joined with Him even in the eternal decrees.

Genesis 3:15: The Protoevangelium (Revised Standard Version): "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

Targum Onkelos: "And enmity I will put between you and the woman, and between your son and her son. He shall be recalling what you did to him in the beginning; and you shall be observing him in the end."

Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: "And I will place enmity between you and the woman, and between the offspring of your sons and the offspring of her sons. And it will happen: when the sons of the woman will observe the precepts of the Torah, they will aim to strike you on the head; and when they will forsake the precepts of the Torah, you will aim to bite them in the heel. But for them there will be a remedy; whereas for you there will be no remedy. And they will be ready to make a crushing with the heel in the days of King Messiah."

Fragmentary Targum: "And it shall be: when the sons of the woman observe the Torah and fulfill the commandments, they will aim to strike you on the head and kill you;and when the sons of the woman will forsake the precepts of the Torah and will not keep the commandments, you will aim to bite them in their heel and harm them. However there will be a remedy for the sons of the woman, but for you, O serpent, there will be no remedy. Still, behold, they will appease one another in the final end of days, in the days of the King Messiah."

Targum Neofiti: "And I will put enmities between you and the woman, and between your sons and her sons. And it will happen: when her sons keep the Law and put into practice the commandments, they will aim at you and smite you on the head and kill you; but when they forsake the commandments of the Law, you will aim at and wound him on his heel and make him ill. For her son, however, there will be a remedy, but for you, serpent, there will be no remedy. They will make peace in the future in the day of King Messiah."

Pius IX: Ineffabilis Deus, 1854:"The Fathers and ecclesiastical writers... in commenting on the words, ' I will put enmity between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed' have taught that by this utterance there was clearly and openly foretold [praemonstratum] the merciful Redeemer of the human race... and that His Most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was designated [designatam], and at the same time, that the enmity of both against the devil was remarkably expressed. Wherefore, just as Christ the Mediator of God and man, having assumed human nature, destroying the handwriting of the decree that was against us, in triumph affixed it to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, joined with him in a most close and indissoluble bond, together with Him and through Him exercising eternal enmity against the poisonous serpent, and most fully triumphing over him, crushed his head with her immaculate foot."

Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, 1950: "We must remember especially that since the 2nd century, the Virgin Mary has been presented by the holy Fathers as the New Eve, who, although subject to the New Adam, was most closely associated with Him in that struggle against the infernal enemy which, as foretold in the protoevangelium, was to result in that most complete victory over sin and death, which are always tied together in the writings of the Apostles of the Gentiles. Wherefore, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and final sign of this victory, so also that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her Son, had to be concluded with the glorification of her virginal body... ."

Pius XII, Fulgens corona, 1953: "... the foundation of this doctrine [Immaculate Conception ] is seen in the very Sacred Scripture in which God... after the wretched fall of Adam, addressed the... serpent in these words, which not a few of the Holy Fathers and Doctors and most approved interpreters refer to the Virgin Mother of God: 'I will put enmity... . ' But if at any time, the Blessed Virgin Mary, defiled in her conception with the hereditary stain of sin, had been devoid of divine grace, then at least, even though for a very brief moment of time, there would not have been that eternal enmity between her and the serpent -- of which early tradition makes mention up to the solemn definition of the Immaculate Conception - but instead there would have been a certain subjection."

Vatican II, Lumen gentium §55: "These primeval documents, as they are read in the Church, and are understood in the light of later and full revelation, gradually bring more clearly to light the figure of the woman, the Mother of the Redeemer. She, in this light, is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise, given to our first parents who had fallen into sin, of victory over the serpent (cf. Gen 3, 15)... ."

Vatican II, Dei verbum §3: "After their fall, by promising redemption, he lifted them into hope of salvation (cf. Gen 3, 15)... ."

John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater §24: "It is significant that as he speaks to his mother from the Cross, he calls her 'woman'... . Moreover he had addressed her by the same term at Cana too... . this expression goes to the very heart of the mystery of Mary and indicates the unique place which she occupies in the whole economy of salvation... . . How can one doubt that... she who was... brought into the mystery of Christ in order to be his Mother and thus the Holy Mother of God, through the Church remains in that mystery as 'the woman' spoken of by the book of Genesis (3:15) at the begining and by the Apocalypse (12:1) at the end of the history of salvation." And in Mulieris dignitatem, 1988: §11: "At the same time it [Genesis 3:15] contains the first foretelling of victory over evil, over sin... . . It is significant that the foretelling of the Redeemer contained in these words refers to 'the woman'... . From this vantage point the two female figures Eve and Mary are joined under the name of woman... ." [We note the multiple fulfillment].

COMMENTS: 1. Three out of four of the Targums (ancient Aramaic versions, plus interpretations, of the OT) show us that Genesis 3. 15 is in some way messianic, even though their interpretation is clouded by allegory. Yet they do speak of a victory, even though the same Hebrew verb shuf is used twice, for striking at head, and at heel.

Some reject the evidence of Targums, saying we do not know the date of their composition. We reply (as to date of the messianic prophecy comments): 1) These interpretations were written by ancient Jews without hindsight, i.e., without seeing them fulfilled in Christ, for they hated Him. 2) Jacob Neusner, a great Jewish scholar, of today, from Brown University, in Messiah in Context reviewed every Jewish document from after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian Talmud inclusive (completed 500- 600 AD). Up to, but not including that Talmud, he found no interest in the Messiah. In the Talmud, interest returns, but the only major point they mention is that he was to be from the line of David. Now it is hardly conceivable that the Targum interpretations, so numerous, on so many points, could have been written in a period when there was no interest in the Messiah. (On the Targums, see also:Samson Levey, The Messiah. An Aramaic Interpretation. ) Some scholars, e.g., R. Le Deaut (in: The Message of the New Testament and the Aramaic Bible (Targum), Rome, Biblical Institute Press, 1982, pp. 4-5, put the beginning of the Targums in the occasion when Ezra read from the book, and translated, giving the sense: Nehemiah 8. 8.

2. Pius IX for the most part does not speak in his own name, he merely cites approved authors. But Pius XII in Munificentissimus Deus speaks without reservation about the struggle being foretold in the Protoevangelium, and he even uses the fact that this "struggle" was in "common" to Jesus and Mary as a part of the theological reasoning by which he finds the Assumption in the sources of revelation. Further, in Fulgens corona he says Genesis 3:15 is the foundation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception: therefore, it must be contained in that text in some way. Vatican II uses cf. before Gen. 3. 15, at the request of about a dozen Bishops. Cf. Charles M. Miller,"As it is Written". The use of Old Testament References in the Documents of Vatican Council II, (Marianist Center, St. Louis, 1973, pp. 49-60). But even so, that reserve seems to apply only to the understanding of the human author -we do not know how much he foresaw. But it does say that the Church now, with the help of later and full revelation, does see the figure of the woman gradually coming to light. Here Vatican II seems to use the notion that the chief Author, the Holy Spirit, could intend more than the human author saw. It is really obvious that He could do so. (This is true even though in Dei verbum §12 where the Council had an opening to say explicitly that there could be such a fuller sense, yet it did not say so. On this cf. H. Vorgrimler, Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Herder & Herder, 1969, III, p. 220). Still further, John Paul II, without any reservation speaks of the Protoevangelium many times as referring to Mary - sample quotes given above. We note that in Mulieris dignitatem he speaks of the text as referring to both Eve and Mary. This is quite plausible, a case of multiple fulfillment of prophecy. On this latter pattern, cf. W. Most, Free From All Error, chapter 5.

The conclusion from all these sources is that it is quite clear that at least as understood in the light of later revelation, Gen 3. 15 is Marian/Messianic.

Genesis 49. 10: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and his shall be the obedience of the peoples."

Targum Neofiti: "Kings shall not be lacking from the house of Judah... until the time at which King Messiah will come."

Targum Onkelos (which sees messianism only here and in Numbers 24, 17-24, (Balaam) agrees, as do Pseudo-Jonathan and the Fragmentary Targum. Samson Levey, in The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974, p. 8: "Other rabbinic sources, both Midrashic and Talmudic , also take this passage as Messianic."

Genesis Rabbah 98. 8: "Until Shiloh comes: he to whom kingship belongs."

Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b: "What is His [Messiah's] name? The school of R. Shila said, 'Shiloh, ' as it is written, until Shiloh comes."

Lamentations Rabbah 1. 16. 51: "The school of R. Shila said: The Messiah's name is 'Shiloh' as it is stated, Until Shiloh come (Gen xxlix. 10), where the word is spelt Shlh." Levey adds in note 23 (p. 149) "A play on the similarity of the name, thus rendering honor to their teacher. The Talmud continues that the school of R. Jannai claimed the messiah's name was Jinnon, and the school of R. Hananiah said it was Hananiah, each quoting an appropriate proof-text." (A similar claim is in Moore, Judaism, II. pp. 348-49). COMMENT: The school of Shila does have a solid base in the Hebrew text itself, and in the Targumic and Rabbinic view. Cf. Moses Aberbach and Bernard Grossfeld, Targum Onkelos on Genesis 49, (Scholars Press, Missoula, 1976, p. 14).

Jacob Neusner, Messiah in Context, (Fortress, Phila. 1984): "It is difficult to imagine how Gen 49:10 could have been read as other than a messianic prediction."

COMMENTS: 1) There may be echoes of Gen 49. 10 in Ez 21. 17: "It will not be restored until he comes to whom it rightly belongs. To him I will give it. :" and also Jer 33. 14:"Behold the days are coming - Oracle of Yahweh - and I will perform the good word which I spoke to the house of Israel and the house of Judah."

2) Modern scholars object that the Hebrew text is corrupt because Shiloh is feminine, while the verb is Masculine. REPLY: Shiloh stands for a man, so there is agreement by sense. Further, there are some parallels in the OT: Jer 49. 16 where a feminine noun, tiplaset (your horror) has a masculine verb. Also: Ez 1. 5-10 where the noun hayoth is feminine, yet the suffixes in the next verses referring to the living creatures shift between masculine and feminine. Cf. also Anchor Bible, Daniel, p. 269. This sort of shift was common in Mishnaic Hebrew.

3) History: The Jews did have some sort of ruler from the tribe of Judah until Rome imposed Herod on them as Tetrarch in 41 B.C. Soon, in 37 B.C. he became King. Herod was Jewish by religion - the Jews had forced their religion on Idumea, but lived up to it poorly, and, most importantly, by birth he was not of the tribe of Judah. He was half Idumean, half Arab. The fulfillment would have been more glorious had they not been so unfaithful so often. Neusner reports (p. 12): "No one who knows the Gospels will be surprised to learn of the intense, vivid, prevailing expectation that the Messiah was coming soon."

Numbers 24. 15-17: "The oracle of Balaam, son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is open, the oracle of him who hears the words of God... who sees the vision of the Almighty... . I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nearby. A star shall come out from Jacob, and a scepter will come up out of Israel. It will crush the forehead of Moab, and break down all the sons of Sheth."

Targum Onkelos: "A king shall come from Jacob, and will be anointed the Messiah out of Israel."

COMMENTS: Targum Pseudo-Jonathan is very similar. The Fragmentary Targum says:"A king shall arise from the house of Jacob, and a redeemer and ruler from the house of Israel." Targum Onkelos is very sparing in messianic interpretations - only this passage plus Gen 3. 15. This is not strange, for Targum Onkelos was the only Targum officially approved by the later rabbis, those of the Talmudic period, before c. 650 AD. By that time the opposition of the Jews to the Christian uses of the Targums to favor Christ had hardened. Hence the approval of only the Targum that saw little messianic interpretations. In fact, that Targum seems to have been extensively reworked in the Jewish schools of Babylonia around the 5th century AD. This fits well with the results of Neusner's survey, mentioned above, which found no interest in the Messiah in Jewish writings from the fall of Jerusalem up to about 500 A.D. Then interest reappears, but the only one of the classic prophecies it dealt with was the prediction that he would be of the line of David.

The Fragmentary Targum says that a king will arise, but does not use the word Messiah. However in context it seems to be the Messiah.

Isaiah 9. 6: RSV: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called 'Wonderful Counselor, Mighty-God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,"

Targum Jonathan: "A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and his name has been called from of old Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, He who lives forever, Messiah in whose day peace shall increase for us."

COMMENT: 1. The sense of the Targum is disputed. We have rendered it substantially as does J. F. Stenning (The Targum of Isaiah, Oxford, 1949. ) However Samson Levey (The Messiah. An Aramaic Interpretation, (Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974) turns the sentence structure around so as to read: "his name has been called Messiah... . by the Mighty God." The difference hinges on the Aramaic words min qedem which can mean either "by" or "from of old". As to the words "Mighty God" which the New American Bible renders God-hero --that version is not defensible, for the Hebrew El gibbor in the Old Testament always means only Mighty God, never God-hero. Levey makes a similar change in sentence structure for the Hebrew: "the Mighty God... has called his name 'Prince of Peace'." That translation raises the question of which terms belong to whom.

2. Naturally, the ancient Jews, with their emphasis on monotheism, would have difficulty calling the Messiah God. Yet there are some other OT passages that could indicate divinity of the Messiah.

Psalm 80. 15-18: God is asked to visit this vine "and the stock which your right hand has planted... . Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, upon the son of man whom you have strengthened for yourself." Levey here comments: "It would appear that the Targum takes the Messiah to be the son of God, which is much too anthropomorphic and Christological to be acceptable in Jewish exegesis." He notes that neither the earlier nor the later rabbis took up this interpretation by the Targum. Rather, he says that some of the later rabbis "carefully steer clear of any messianic interpretation " by the Targum here. (In passing: we note that here the Messiah is called Son of Man!)

Psalm 45. 7-8: "Your throne, O God, is ever and ever... . God your God has anointed you with the oil of rejoicing." Even though some think the Psalm was occasioned by a royal marriage, the Targum saw it as messianic. Levey even remarks that the Hebrew word for king melech in verses 2, 6, 12, 15, and 16 is understood as God.

Ezekiel 34. 11: God Himself said: "For thus says the Lord God: Behold I, I will search out my sheep and seek them out." We notice the repeated "I", which seems to stress the thought that God Himself would come. But in verse 23 of the same chapter: "I will set one shepherd over them, my servant David." The Targum Jonathan does treat the psalm as messianic. Of course this is far from clear, but there could be an implication that the Messiah, called here "my servant David" would be God Himself.

Jeremiah 23. 3: God said: " and I myself shall gather the remnant of the my sheep from all the lands to which I have driven them." But in verse 5:"I will raise up for David a righteous branch." That word "branch" is often taken by the Targums to indicate the Messiah. Hence Targum Jonathan on verse 5 does use "a righteous Messiah" instead of "branch". Then, surprisingly, in verse 6: "And this is the name which He shall call him: the Lord is our righteousness." In the later Midrash, Lamentations Rabbah 1. 51 we read :"What is the name of the King Messiah? R. Abba b. Kahana said: 'His name is 'the Lord'". In the Hebrew text of that passage, the word for Lord is Yahweh! It is astounding to find a later rabbi doing such a thing. (cf. Levey, op. cit, p. 70).

Jeremiah 30. 11: "For I am with you - oracle of Yahweh - to save you." The Targum clearly calls this passage messianic. Levey notices this, and comments: "in v. 11 the apparent anthropomorphism of God being with Israel, in the physical sense is softened by the use of the word Memra" - a puzzling word in the Targums, which seems in general to refer to the complex interplay between God's constancy and the fickleness of His people - but a times, it seems to mean God Himself. (On Memra cf. Bruce Chilton, The Isaiah Targum, Glazier, 1987, p. lvi).

Isaiah 7. 14: "Behold, the young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

The Targum does not identify this passage as messianic. However, Jacob Neusner, (Messiah in Context p. 173( quotes the great Hillel, one of the chief teachers at the time of Christ, as saying that Hezekiah, son of Achaz (to whom Isaiah spoke) had been the Messiah. So he considered the text messianic. But then Neusner adds (p. 190): "Since Christian critics of Judaism claimed that the prophetic promises... had all been kept in the times of ancient Israel, so that Israel now awaited nothing at all, it was important to reject the claim that Hezekiah had been the Messiah)". Thus the Talmud, cited by Neusner, p. 173, quotes Rabbi Joseph as denying that Hezekiah had been the Messiah. St. Justin Martyr in Dialogue with Trypho 77 has Trypho the Jew saw the Jews believe Hezekiah was the Messiah.

Further, both Is 7. 14 and 9. 5-6 are part of the section on Immanuel, which runs from 6. 1 to 12. 6. Hence it is generally accepted that the child in 7. 14 is the same as the child in 9. 5-6. This means, of course, that since 9. 5-6 is messianic, so is 7. 14. It was onlythe the actions of the Jews against Christians that caused them to stop saying 7. 14 was messianic.

Who, then, is the child of 7. 14? Some of the characteristics of 9. 5-6 are too grand for Hezekiah. Further the use of the definite article before almah in 7. 14 seems to point to someone special, not just to the wife of Achaz. On the other hand, a sign to come seven centuries later would hardly be a sign for Achaz. We conclude: this is a case of multiple fulfillment of prophecy: it refers to both Hezekiah and Christ.

Still further, the Septuagint uses parthenos to render Hebrew almah (which means a young woman, of the right age for marriage, who at least should be a virgin. Betulah is the more precise word for virgin). R. Laurentin (The Truth of Christmas Beyond the Myths, Petersham, 1986, p. 412, claims the Septuagint sometimes uses parthenos loosely. But this is not true. Actually, there are only two places in the OT where the Septuagint translates almah by parthenos. One is in Genesis 24. 43, where the context shows the girl is a virgin. The other is Is 7. 14. There are several other places where almah is at least likely to be a virgin. But the Septuagint is so careful that it uses instead of parthenos, a more general word, neanis in those cases. Laurentin in the English version appeals also to Genesis 34. 3 (in the French he had appealed to 34. 4, which does not have the word parthenos at all). But the case is at least unclear, since 34. 3 is likely to be an instance of concentric ring narration, common in Hebrew. And as we have just said, in all clear instances the Septuagint is very precise in its use of parthenos, at times more precise than the Hebrew (as shown by the context).

Isaiah 11. 1-3 RSV: "There will come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord."

Targum Jonathan: A king will come from the sons of Jesse, and the Messiah will be anointed from his children's children."

COMMENTS: Some scholars, disinclined to see a real prophecy, want to make this refer to the great reduction in size of the Kingdom of Judah at the time of Isaiah and Achaz - the king then controlled absolutely only Jerusalem (Cf. John H. Hayes and Stuart A. Irvine, Isaiah, the Eight Century Prophet, Abingdon, Nashville, 1987, pp. 212-13. They point out that the word which RSV renders "stump" is Hebrew geza, a rare word, found only three times in the OT, in this passage and in Job 14, 7 and Isaiah 40. 24. In the latter it means a newly planted tree; in Job it means a felled tree. The Targum renders it by "sons", as we saw. But the Targum also definitely makes it refer to the Messiah, and historically, the line of David had lacked power for about 600 years by that time (from 586 BC to the time of Christ). So, following the Targum interpretation, we see this passage as a real prophecy that the line of David would be reduced to a stump, even a fallen stump, but then in spite of that, a branch would come out from it. This is most dramatic, since Isaiah was speaking during the reign of Ahaz: 732-16.

Several times the Gospels speak of Jesus as being moved or led by the Spirit, e.g., in Mt 4:1 He was led into the desert by the Spirit. In Lk 10. 21, He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. In Lk 4. 18: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," (referring to Is 61. 1-2. Similarly, in Mt 12. 18 the Evangelist says that His cures were to fulfil Is 42. 1-4). In view of His divinity, how is it that He would need or want the action of the Holy Spirit? The answer is that He had a complete and perfect humanity, and although His divinity could supply for anything, yet the Father, in His love of good order, willed that His humanity be full and fully provided for as such. This is in accord with the principle of St. Thomas, Summa I. 19. 5. c in which it is said that God wills that one thing be in place to serve as a title for the second thing, even though that title does not really move Him.

Isaiah. First Three Servant Songs:

First: 42. 1-7 RSV: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench. He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says the Lord... I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness."

Second: 49. 1-7: "Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb... . . He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, and in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, 'You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified'. But I said, 'I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God:" And now the Lord says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him... he says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Thus says the Lord... to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the servant of rulers: 'Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

Third: 50. 4-11: "The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear, to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame."

COMMENTS ON FIRST THREE SERVANT SONGS: The Targum Jonathan identifies the first of these as Messianic: "Behold my servant, the Messiah." The Targum also identified the fourth as Messianic-- as we shall see below. It does not mark the second and third as messianic.

The New Testament does not identify the second and third as messianic either. But it does so for the first: In Mt 12. 17-21, after Jesus has worked many cures, and ordered them not to make it known, the Gospel comments: "This fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet Isaiah, 'Behold my servant... . '" The NT also indicates that the fourth song was messianic: Mt 8. 17; Lk 22. 37; Acts 8. 32-33; Romans 15. 21.

There are also other NT passages in which the Servant maybe in mind, especially the Servant of chapter 53: e.g., the words of institution of the Eucharist; and Phil. 2. 6-11 "He took the form of a slave")

There is no agreement among scholars on the identify of the Servant , in spite of the help of the Targums. Some think the Servant is Israel - but, especially in 49. 1-7, the Servant has a mission to Israel ( cf. the boldface to words above in that text). Some would identify the Servant with various individual figures, e.g., Zerubbabel or Jehoiachin, representing the dynasty of David, or Moses, or Jeremiah. It could even be that the identity is not the same in all four songs. We add that it is generally accepted that in the OT an individual may stand for, and practically be identified with a group: hence the possible alternation on the individual and Israel in 49. The identity of the Servant and Israel could be paralleled by the relation of Jesus and the Church.

Fourth: Isaiah 52. 13 - 53. 12: The Hebrew OT here predicts a meek, suffering Servant. The Targum changes it to an arrogant conqueror. Here are some comparisons:

Hebrew v. 3:"He was despised and rejected by men."

Targum: "Then the glory of all kingdoms will be despised and cease."

Hebrew v. 5: "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities."

Targum: "He will [re]build the sanctuary, polluted because of our sins, [and] handed over because of our iniquities."

Hebrew v. 7: He was "like a lamb being led to the slaughter".

Targum: "He will hand over the mighty ones of the peoples, like a lamb to the slaughter."

COMMENT: Good Jewish scholars today admit that the Targum distorts the Hebrew. (Cf. H. J. Schoeps, Paul, Westminster, 1961, p. 129, and Jacob Neusner, Messiah in Context, p. 190, and Samson Levey, op. cit. p. 152, note 10) One reason was that a suffering and dying Messiah was unacceptable. The belief was widespread that the Messiah would live forever. Hence at times they even spoke of two Messiahs. In the Talmud, Sukkah 52a we read of a suffering and slain Messiah son of Joseph (in comment on Zechariah 12. 10). He was to be the precursors of Messiah son of David, the herald of the true Messianic Age. In addition, the Targum picture seems to reflect hopes for Bar Kokhba, leader of the final Jewish revolt against Rome, who was thought to be Messiah. (Cf. Levey, pp. 66-67.)

Zechariah 12, 10: "They shall look upon me, whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his only son."

COMMENT: Most commentators are so disturbed by the shift from "me" to "him" that they emend the text. Thus RSV changes "me" to "him" St. John's Gospel in 19. 37 explicitly takes it to refer to Jesus: "And another Scripture says: They will look on him whom their have pierced." Similarly, Apocalypse 1. 7 understands the line to refer to Christ: "Behold he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, everyone who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will wail on account of him." In Mt. 26. 31 Jesus quotes Zech 12. 7 to refer to himself: "I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed." On the cross, Jesus quoted Psalm 22,"My God, why have you forsaken me" not to express a belief the Father had left him (though the Father did will His death), but to show that that Psalm spoke of Him. In verse 17: "They have pierced my hands and my feet".

The problem is that "me" seems to be spoken by God Himself", while the "him" seems another person. David Baron, The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah, Kriegel, Grand Rapids, 1971, pp. 438-48 contends that the "me" does express Christ, as divine while the "him" indicates the difference of persons within God.

So these added texts from Zechariah, Apocalypse, and Psalm 22 do help to clarify the prophecy of the suffering Servant in Isaiah 53.

Zechariah 6. 12-13 RSV: "Thus says the Lord of Hosts: 'Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall grow up in his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord, and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule upon his throne."

COMMENTS: The Targum says "Behold the man whose name is the Messiah." Numbers Rabbah 18. 12 says that from the tribe of Judah came Solomon who built the first temple, and then Zerubbabel who built the second temple. But "king Messiah will rebuild the Temple."

Haggai 2. 9: "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former."

COMMENTS: The Targum does not mark this test as messianic. But yet the historical fact was that the glory of the second temple was much inferior to that of Solomon's temple. So St. Augustine is right in saying (City of God 18. 45) that the glory of the later temple was greater because of the presence of the divine Messiah in it. We might compare Malachi 3. 1: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before my face, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight." R. H. Fuller ( in The Foundations of New Testament Christology, Chas. Scribner's Sons, N. Y. 1965, p. 48) comments: " In this passage... Elijah appears as the forerunner not of the Messiah but of Yahweh himself." Of course, Jesus Himself was and is God. He came to His temple, and thus the glory was greater than that of the first temple. (Jesus Himself quoted this text - with the modification usual since the rabbis had combined it with Ex 23. 20 - to refer to Himself, with John the Baptist, whom in multiple fulfillment, He also called Elijah, as His forerunner. On this multiple fulfillment, cf. Wm. Most, Free From All Error, Libertyville, IL 1985, 1990, chapter 5, and on Jesus' use of the text cf. idem, The Consciousness of Christ, Front Royal, 1980, p 85).

Isaiah 61. 1-2 RSV: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me, to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prisons to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn."

COMMENTS: The Targum does not mark this text as Messianic. But in Lk 4. 17-21 Jesus Himself read the text in the synagogue at Nazareth and added:"Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Micah 5. 1. : "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from the days of eternity."

Targum Jonathan: "whose name was spoken from days of old, from the days of eternity."

COMMENTS: As we saw earlier, Samson Levey comments that the last part of verse 1 as in the Hebrew text "would tend to support the doctrine of a pre-existent Messiah." See also further data on rabbinic positions in section II above.

Psalm 72: This entire Psalm is taken messianically in the Targum. Especially in verse 1 the Targum prays: "Give the King Messiah the laws of your justice." And verse 17 says "his name was prepared even before the sun came to be." The dominant rabbinic opinion, in addition to the Targum, is that this Psalm is messianic.

St. Augustine makes a keen observation (City of God 17. 8). He notes that 2 Samuel 7. 8 -16 which is related in thought, reports Nathan's prophecy to David. In particular he observes in 7. 12: "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom." But, notes Augustine, this verse speaks of a king to arise after the death of David - but Solomon began to reign before his death. So it must refer to another, to the Messiah, Christ.

Hosea 3. 4-5 RSV: "For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days."

COMMENTS: Since the text speaks of the latter days, and tells of a period when Israel will have no sacrifices, this must refer to the end time. The Targum makes it messianic saying that the children of Israel will repent, and "they will obey the Messiah, the son of David their king and he will cause them to worship the Lord."

Hosea 14. 4-8 RSV: "I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be as the dew to Israel; he shall blossom as the lily... . they shall return and dwell beneath his shadow, they shall flourish as a garden, they shall blossom as the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon."

COMMENTS: The Targum identifies this text as messianic, saying in verse 7: "They will be gathered in from their Scattering, they shall live in the shade of their Messiah, and the dead shall live."

We notice the shifting back and forth from they to he. It is probable that the he is the Messiah. RSV in puzzlement says in v. 7 "They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow," while admitting in a note that the Hebrew has his.

In all, this text surely refers to the end times - cf. the end of the Scattering, and the resurrection of the dead - and is related to the conversion of the Jews to Christ, foretold by St. Paul in Romans 11. 25 - 26. It is interesting to compare with Romans 11. 25-16 also the words of Jesus in Luke 21:24:"Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."the italicized words may well means the same as the words of Romans 11:25-26: "... a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles comes in."

The thought seems much the same in Daniel 12:7 (NRSV). Daniel had asked when all these things would happen. The angel said:"When the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end, all these things would be accomplished."

1 Cor. 15. 4: "He was buried, and according to the Scriptures, rose on the third day."

A direct text predicting His resurrection on third day might be Hosea 6. 2: "After two days he will revive us; and on the third day he will raise us up". In the original setting, the prophet is urging the people to return to God, and He will save them. The liturgy applies this to the resurrection of Jesus. Is it mere accommodation or multiple fulfillment of prophecy? Probably the latter.

However, in Isaiah 53:10-11 we do have a prediction of His resurrection, without mention of the third day. That day we can supply from the excellent work of Fr. De Margerie.

An outstanding article by Bertrand de Margerie, S. J. "Le troisième jour, selon les Ecritures, Il est ressucité" in Recherches des Sciences Religieuses (Strasbourg, 66, 1986, pp. 158-88) shows that the third day was widely used in Scripture for the day of rescue. It was the day of the rescue of Isaac from being sacrificed (Gen 22. 4ff) and of the deliverance given by Joseph to his brothers (Gen 42. 17ff). The Hebrews were to go three days into the desert to sacrifice (Ex 5. 3-4). It was the day of the revelation of the law at Sinai (Ex 19. 16). It was the day the spies saved by Rahab were delivered (Jos 2. 22). David had sinned by ordering a census, but chose a punishment of pestilence to end on the third day (2 Sam 24. 13ff). It was the day on which Hezekiah would go up to he temple again, after being delivered from death (Is 38. 1-5). It was the day on which Esther found favor with the king and saved her people (Esther 5. 1). It was the day of return from the exile at the time of Ezra (Esdr 8. 32) It was the day of deliverance of Jonah from the whale (Jon 2, 1). Jesus Himself predicted His resurrection on the third day (Mt. 16. 21; 20. 19; 27. 63). Interestingly, in Babylonia, in the Descent of Ishtar, the third day was the day of the reawakening of the fertility gods: ANET 55. (Cf. Is 53:10; Ps 16:10).

Conclusion from the prophecies: The Targums, as we see, found a host of prophecies about the Messiah. Our Lady is involved directly in many of these, and indirectly in others, inasmuch as she is always sharing the lot of Jesus. She would have understood these things readily, for when the Archangel told her that her Son would reign over the house of Jacob forever, that clearly meant the Messiah. For a very common belief at the time held that the Messiah would do that, and no one else. Seeing that He would be the Messiah would at once open up the prophecies to her. The Targums, written without seeing them fulfilled in Christ, and written before the period when interest in the Messiah disappeared (the period from after the fall of Jerusalem, until the completion of the Babylonian Talmud: cf. Jacob Neusner's study Messiah in Context, and p. 5 above for data on the Targums in general. Now if the Jews, whom the OT so often calls stiff-necked could understand this much, she who was full of grace must have all the more easily seen the truth, even if she never heard a Targum. But she must have heard them in the synagogues. It is likely that there was a period of oral transmission before they were written down, but in either way she would have heard them. As to the question of taking Hebrew almah to mean virgin, as the Septuagint did - she would have no problem, for she was seeing it fulfilled in herself.

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