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a mere delivery of our nation only from the Roman yoke, and to raise them to power and wealth.
§ 6. Having shown that the Messiah is meant in this prediction, we will now consider the peculiar way in which he was to accomplish his work. This was to be by enduring a violent death. "Messiah, the Prince, shall be cut off, but not for himself." The word carath, to be cut off, has a reference to a judicial sentence pronounced on the criminal, Gen. 17: 14. Ex. 12: 15; so that it is here predicted that the Messiah was not only to die, but that his death should be penal. But whilst the penal death of Messiah is predicted, his innocency is at the same time asserted. 66 Not for himself," i. e. there was no cause of ́death in him; as the prophet Isaiah declared at large in the 53d chap. "that he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth; but he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed: he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of my people was he stricken." .That the whole of this chapter relates to the Messiah, and was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, will be made evident hereafter.
§ 7. The next events to take place at the close of the sixty-two weeks, are the beseiging of the city of Jerusalem, and its utter destruction, together with the temple. After the cutting off of Messiah, the Prince, the destruction of the city and temple, and the dispersion of our nation was quickly to ensue, ver. 26. A people under the direction of a prince, leader or commander, should enter into the land of Judea, make war there, destroy the city of Jerusalem and the famous temple; and the destruction should be as universal as a mighty flood or violent inundation, it should overspread the whole country, and carry all before it; for from the beginning of the war to the end thereof, utter ruin and destruction is determined by God upon the people and nation.
During the last week or seven years, a covenant was to
be confirmed, the sacrifices and oblations were to cease, and our nation scattered, until the desolator be utterly destroyed.
§ 8. In a future letter I shall show you the exact fulfillment of all these events, and then give you a more particular explanation of some expressions used in this prediction. In the meantime, I trust, my dear Benjamin, that you will be convinced that the Messiah was to appear, and to die before the second temple was destroyed, and before the sacrifices ceased, and before our nation be scattered abroad. But the temple has been destroyed, the sacrifices have ceased, and our nation has been scattered; therefore we justly conclude that the Messiah must have appeared long ago. This conclusion is the result of the united and harmonious testimony of the Patriarch Jacob, of the inspired prophets Haggai and Malachi, and of the humble and pious Daniel, who received his knowledge from the angel Gabriel, sent for the express purpose to make known the time and the events of the coming of the Messiah.
§ 9. As an additional argument, I might here mention a number of our wise men's sayings, which show that the Messiah must have come long ago. For example, R. Nehemiah, who lived about fifty years before the coming of Christ, declared that the time of the Messiah, as signified by Daniel, could not be protracted longer than fifty years. It is also a well known tradition in the Talmud, Sanhed. Cheleck, f. 97, 1, that the famous Rabbi Elijah had taught that the world should continue six thousand years, two thousand void, (i. e. without the law, from the creation until the call of Abraham: see the Gloss. of Yarchi, in loco,) two thousand under the Law, and two thousand under the Messiah." Now, as the third period of two thousand years under the reign of the Messiah is nearly expired, the Messiah must have come long ago. See also Yarchi's commentary on the preceding passage. And in his comment on Avoda Sara, fol. 91, he saith, "Six thousand years are determined for the duration of the world, according to the days of the
week, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath, so in the seventh thousand year shall be rest to the world." These considerations have greatly perplexed our modern Rabbins, and I am aware, my brother, of their evasions to weaken the arguments; I have well examined them, and found that they are "refuges of lies," weaker than a spider's web, scarcely worthy to be noticed; yet as they are generally believed by our people, their fallacy shall be shown in my next letter.
§ 9. I shall now conclude with the following pointed observations, addressed to our nation by the Rev. Stanley Faber, who sheds lustre upon the prophecies, and whatever else he takes in hand: You would do well, therefore, to turn your serious attention to this remarkable prophecy contained in your own Scriptures. Prejudice may shut the eyes against the clearest circumstantia! evidence, and a Jew may be unable to discover in the predictions of Isaiah, any thing that resembles the events detailed in the history of him whom Christians acknowledge as the Messiah; but the case is different with numerical evidence. Circumstantial evidence resembles moral truth, of which there may be an infinite variety of shades. Numerical evidence resembles mathematical truth, which admits of no shades; its boast is unity and perfection; if it be not absolute unmixed truth, it is palpable falsehood. A Jew may conceive, hard as it may be to a Christian to comprehend the possibility of such a thing, yet a Jew may conceive that the predictions of a suf fering Messiah were not accomplished in Jesus of Nazareth, but that they will at length receive their accomplishment in your imaginary Messiah, ben Joseph. But the stubbornness of numbers bids defiance to the mischievous ingenuity of the most determined prejudice. Either the Messiah must be come, or Daniel was a false prophet; no other alternative is possible; no evasion is practicable. To every subterfuge, to every reply that can be painfully framed by the Hebrew, writhing under the lash of incontrovertible evidence, the
unbending rigidity of mathematical demonstration still proclaims aloud, either the Messiah must be come, or Daniel was a false prophet. Compute the seventy weeks as you will, divide them and subdivide them as you please, admit or reject intercalations, take solar years or take lunar years, reckon from what edict you most affect, perplex chronology as much as you think proper, curtail, with your brethren in the days of Adrian, the Persian monarchy by two hundred years, to put off the evil day of the expiration of these seventy weeks, still will the refractory number refuse either to bend or to break. Long since must the fated seventy weeks have expired, according to any hypothesis that can be contrived. How then can the Jews deny that the Messiah is come, consistently with their belief in the divine inspiration of Daniel?"
1. According to promise, I shall in this letter show the fallacy and weakness of those opinions which our Rab.bins have advanced to evade the convictions which must arise from the preceding arguments, that the Messiah must have come. I have selected those which they mention most frequently, and consider the most forcible. 1. They will persuade us that the sceptre has not departed from Judah, that there are still kings in Israel. This assertion rests solely on the story of Rabbi Gerson, in his book Geliloth Eretz, where he affirms, with an oath, that he will not lie in a single letter, but relate what he himself has seen. He then
informs us that in his travels he found a river sixteen miles in breadth, each mile eight thousand feet long; the water flowing with such rapidity that the sound thereof is heard at a distance of two day's journey. This river, he saith, is called Sabbatyon or Sambatyon, because, though it throws up large stones as high as a house all the week through, yet it rests and becomes perfectly dry two hours before the commencement of the Sabbath, and begins again to run, with all its fury, as soon as the Sabbath is ended. Beyond this river, he affirms, there are as many Jews as the sand of the sea, living in great affluence and plenty. They have twenty-four kings, and a powerful king is over the whole. With respect to their descent, he saith, some think they are of the family of Moses, others say they are a part of the ten tribes. Thus much I thought it necessary to quote of this wretched story.
§ 2. Such is the sandy foundation upon which rests the superstructure that the sceptre is not yet departed from Judah. How ridiculous the fiction! Who would suppose that any man in his right senses would for a moment give credit to it? Yet, my dear brother, you well know that our people believe it, for they have incorporated it in the prayer or song for the Sabbath day. So awfully true is it, that when a people wilfully reject the truth, a just and righteous God will give them up to believe a lie. Is it credible that there should exist such a wonderful river in any part of the world, and yet never seen by any traveler, nor described by any historian except Rabbi Gerson? He tells us that the Turks carry on an extensive commerce with these people beyond the river, sending them iron, and getting an equal weight of gold by way of barter. Strange that no other merchants, either in the old or new world, have attempted to have a share in so lucrative and unparalleled a traffic. Besides, if there be such a river, how could Rabbi Gerson see the things which exist in that country, seeing that during the week he could not cross it, else the river would have stoned him;