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But whilst he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interThis account was not contrapreted, is, God with us. dicted, or attempted to be disproved by our people in Christ's time, who were most capable of discovering the fraud or imposture, if there had been any. It is therefore as vain as it is strange for any modern adversary to attempt to disprove the fact, after all the genealogies are lost. Another passage of Scripture which proves the Messiah to be born of a virgin, is that in Jeremiah, 31: 22. “Jehovah hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man." The context evidently shows that this is a prophecy of the Messiah. The blessing promised in ver. 10-14, the Jews expected only in his days, and could be had from him only. The slaughter of the children, ver. 15, is applied to the Messiah Jesus. It is said to be a new thing, and a creation, which is not applicable to the conception of a child in a natural way. The word Savav, to compass, very fitly expresses the conception of a child, as signifying the cause or occasion of any thing. 1 Sam. 22: 22. Some of our Rabbins have acknowledged that the Messiah is here intended, and that by the woman, is to be understood a virgin. R. Moshe Haddashan, Gen. 41, in galatine de arcansis e. V. Lib. 7. c. 14. R. Oshua, in Lightfoot's Harm. p. 42. Bere. Rab. Parshah 89, in Pierson on the creed, Art. 3. See also, page 241.
Now, my dear brother Benjamin, knowing, by personal experience, that the mysterious part of the subject of this
letter is a great stumbling-block to our nation, let me beseech you, most affectionately, to read it over again and again, carefully and prayerfully, with deep humility for divine illumination; and should there be any objections in your mind, let me know them, and I will endeavor, by the help of God, to remove them. And may the Holy Spirit form Christ in your heart, the hope of glory. Amen.
I was much gratified in perusing your last letter. It hath confirmed my hopes that you have paid considerable attention to my former letters. The objections you have brought against the statement of my last letter, are neither new nor unanswerable. They have all been collected and brought against the Christian religion, by R. Isaac in Chizick Emunah, and by R. Lipman in his Carmin, and they have been answered by Wagenseil and others. To some of them I have already alluded in my last letter, and thought once to enter fully on the refutation of them, but was prevented by the exhortation of the apostle to Timothy and Titus, "not to give heed to the vain and endless genealogies." 1 Tim. 1:4; Titus, 3:9.
1. The genealogy of Christ is, however, an exception, and you have justly styled it the "turning point of the Messiahship of Jesus." I fully agree with you, that “ if
Jesus Christ be not of the family of David, he could not be the Messiah." Hence Christians, though much divided and subdivided in their opinions almost on every subject, are yet agreed that Jesus of Nazareth is of the family of David; nor has any of our people attempted to disprove it. I think you have very judiciously comprised your objections into a few, and this will greatly facilitate my labor in answering them in their order.
§ 2. In the first place, you seem to have taken it for granted that both St. Matthew and St. Luke give us the genealogy of Joseph only. This is a subject much disputed. Many eminent writers are of opinion that St. Matthew hath given us the genealogy of Joseph, and St. Luke that of Mary. I feel, however, much pleasure in being able to agree with you. I am fully persuaded that both the evangelists have given us the genealogy of Joseph; and I am aware that this opinion is liable to objections, and you have properly stated them. Here you observe that the two evangelists contradict each other; for St. Matthew saith that the father of Joseph was Jacob, but Luke saith Joseph was the son of Heli; and you lay it down as a principle, that no man can have two fathers. This is true in one sense, but not in another. By nature there can be but one father, but a man may have several fathers upon different grounds. For example, A. may be said to be the natural son of B. and the legal son of C. The former is a relation formed by nature, B. having begotten A, and so he is his natural son; but the latter is a relation arising from a law either human or divine. By human laws, I refer to the laws of adoption and marriage. By the former, the adopted person becomes a son to him that adopted him; and by the latter, the husband of the wife becomes a son to her father, and the son of a woman by a former husband becomes the son of her present husband. By a divine law, I refer to the law of raising up seed to the name of a dead brother, see Deut. 25: 5, 6. By this law, the memory of the first-born of a family, who
die childless, was preserved, and the inheritance kept in a direct line. According to this law, A. may be said to be the son of B. and of C. He is the son of C. by nature or generation, and the son of B. by law, bearing his name, and taking his place in the inheritance. Thus it has been con
sidered that Joseph was the natural son of Jacob, as mentioned by St. Matthew, and the legal son of Heli, mentioned by St. Luke. This mode of reconciling the seeming contradiction of the evangelists seems the most natural, and is of very ancient date. Eusebius gives it as the opinion of Julius Africanus, in the following words: "That the genealogies among the Jews were of descents either natural or legal; the natural are the genuine offspring; the legal were those who take place by virtue of a received law. Thus the natural child of the surviving brother, was reputed the child of the deceased; for there not being among the Jews under the law, any express and clear hope of a resurrection, God thought fit to allow them a symbol of it in that law; whereby the name of the deceased was to be preserved and kept alive. Those names which are inserted in these genealogies, (i. e. Matthew and Luke,) are of two sorts; some the genuine children, who succeeded to their parents; some are such who are legally esteemed and reputed the children of those who did not beget them. So that the evangelists are not inconsistent with each other, when they give in the number of those who were naturally and legally the children of different parents, they being the sons of divers parents, either naturally or legally." Eusebius approves of this opinion, and saith that it was given by the kindred of our Savior. Eus. Elf. Hist. l. 1. c. 7.
3. The following extracts from a letter addressed by the Rev. J. Oxlee to J. R. an Israelite, is very much to the point: "I must be permitted to remind you of similar discrepancies to be found in the books of the Old Testament, for which like solutions (viz. as that of Julius Africanus) are offered by the ablest expositors: so that, for the convic
tion of a Jew, the contradictory accounts of the Evangelists ought to seem sufficiently reconciled, if they can be made to harmonize together on the same principles with those to which they themselves are obliged to have recourse in expounding their own Scriptures.
"In the Old Testament there certainly occur two remark able contradictions of this sort. In the books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Ezra, Zerubbabel is uniformly styled the son of Salathiel; but in the book of Chronicles he is said to have been the son of Pedaiah, who was either the son or the brother of Salathiel; so that, either way, Zerubbabel could not have been the son, but either the nephew or the grandson of Salathiel. Kimchi asserts that he was the grandson, but called his son, in the same manner that other grandsons are sometimes styled sons, in certain parts of Scripture. Aben Ezra, on the contrary, maintains that he was only his nephew; but called his son, because he had educated him and brought him up; a practice, of which the Scriptures, he observes, do furnish many instances." Mr. Oxlee mentions another palpable contradiction with respect to Hiram, 1 Kings, 7: 14, and 2 Chron. 2: 14, and the methods of Yarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbanel to reconcile it, and then proceeds: "These contradictory statements, together with their solutions, I have brought forward, not with a view of raising a cavil against the Jewish Scriptures, which I believe to have been dictated by the infallible Spirit of God, but for the purpose of reminding you, that whatever objections may be supposed to lie against the truth of the Gospels, from the discrepancies of the text, the same objections will hold good with respect to your own Scriptures; and whatever candor and indulgence may be claimed by you for the due elucidation of such passages as seem repugnant to each other, the same indulgence ought in justice to be extended to the interpretation of the New Testament." Jewish Repository, vol. 3, 225.
"St. Austin has proposed another method," saith the