IS IT GOD'S WORD?
THE "PROPHECIES" OF JESUS CHRIST
R RTHE "PROPHECIES" OF JESUS CHRIST R R THE GOSPEL RECORDS R R The Miraculous "Virgin Birth" of Jesus
R R"VIRGIN" OR "YOUNG WOMAN" R R THE "SIGN" OF A FALSE PROPHECY R R Where the King was Born R R "Out of Egypt"
R R"Out-Hereding" Herod R R The "Nazarne" R R The Great Light R R He Bore Our Infirmities R R The "Bruised Reed" R R "The King Cometh"
R RWhat is this One? R R The "Potter's Field" R R JUDAS HANGED HIMSELF? R R Parting His Garments R R MARK'S APPEALS TO PROPHECY
R RTo "Prepare the Way" R R "Numbered among Transgressors" R R LUKE CITES PROPHECY R R "GENEALOGIES" OF JESUS
R RJOHN APPEALS TO PROPHECY R R A Prophecy Puzzle R R "For Moses Wrote of Me" (Jesus) R R Who Hath Believed? And Why Not?
R RA Cooking Lesson as "Prophecy" R R RETURN TO THE INDEX OF CHAPTERS
THROUGHOUT the four gospel biographies of Jesus, the Christ, there are frequent references to and quotations of sundry passages in the Old Testament, which are appealed to as "prophecies" concerning Jesus Christ, and are asserted to foretell his birth and death, as well as many incidents of his life, and to have been fulfilled by these several incidents. The Jews bad for centuries, ever since their captivity, lived in the fervent belief and expectation of a Messiah, an anointed king of the race and lineage of David, who should at last arise, overthrow all their enemies) restore the Kingdom of Israel, and reestablish the throne of David forever." Gabriel assured Mary, with respect to her son: "God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever" (Luke 1: 32, 33 ). Many "pretenders" to the vacant Messiahship had from time to time arisen and asserted their false pretenses to be the promised Messiah; and even Jesus was not the last who arose to proclaim himself the Messiah or Christ. This Jesus himself declared: "For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many. ... Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24: 5, 23, 24; Mark 13: 6, 21, 22 ). And the intervening verses between those cited are filled with a long catalogue of "great signs and wonders" which these pretenders should work in proof of their false claims.
How and why these false pretenders to Messiahship could "come in my name" -- in the name of Yahveh's genuine Messiah, who had already come and by his own "signs and wonders" had demonstrated to the satisfaction of all who believed them that he thus "fulfilled all the law and the prophets" and was indeed the Messiah and thus closed the lists -- is not at this day very evident. But, admittedly, the working of such "great signs and wonders" -- miracles -- was no authentic badge of Messiahship, but was the common stock in trade of any bogus pretender. Of this fact there are many scriptural assurances and instances besides the admission just made by Jesus.
A very curious instance of pretended Messiahship after Jesus, noted in the New Testament, was Simon Magus, the sorcerer, who notoriously "used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, from the least to the greatest," so that all the people said: "This man is the great power of God," and "of a long time he had bewitched them with sorceries" (Acts 8: 9-11 ). The case of Elymas Bar-Jesus is somewhat in point (Acts 13: 6, 8 ); as is also that of the "damsel possessed with a spirit of divination, which brought her masters much gain by sooth-saying" (Acts 16: 16 ), or common fortune-telling. And even greater "signs and wonders" were worked by common charlatans. Thus even total strangers to Jesus Christ, uncommissioned by him, disbelievers in him, common fakirs, could exercise the divine power of "casting out devils" in his name, to the great scandal of the disciples (Mark 9: 38; Luke 9: 49 ).
Yet all these miraculous powers were clearly not of God, and prove no divine mission or authority of the wonder-workers. To be sure, Nicodemus declares: "No man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him" (John 3: 2 ). And Jesus himself appealed to this very power of working "signs and wonders" as the culminating proof and patent of his divine authority and Messiahship, greater and more persuasive than the inspired assurances of his only human witnesses, the gospel-writers: "But I receive not testimony from man. ... But I have greater witness than John; for ... the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me" (John 5: 34, 36 ); and, "though ye believe me not, believe the works" (John 10: 38 ); and again, "Believe me for the very works' sake" (John 14: 11 ). But such "works," such "great signs and wonders," are proved by the Bible to prove nothing -- as Jesus himself has just admitted -- except the great credulity of the people. And elsewhere Jesus denied positively that he ever worked any "signs and wonders," and refused to perform any (Matt. 12: 38-40; 16: 4; Mark 7: 11-13; John 6: 30 ). Jesus discounts his own claims for himself by declaring: "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true" (John 5: 31 ). The proof of the divine mission and authority of Jesus as the Christ must, therefore, derive from some more valid evidences than that of mere popular wonder-working.
With the testimony of "man," John and gospel-biographers, discounted; with his own testimony for himself declared "not true"; with the "witness of the works" discredited as being the common arts of charlatans and false pretenders, we must needs, in seeking satisfying evidences of the truth of claims that Jesus Christ is the true "promised Messiah" of the Hebrew prophets, turn to and examine these "prophecies," and the "internal evidences" of the gospels.
THE GOSPEL RECORDS
The Jews, the people who lived in the devout expectation of the coming of the Messiah and who are said to have seen all the "great signs and wonders" of Jesus, as well as of the numerous "false Christs" whom Jesus decried, did not believe in Jesus as Messiah and king. After the death of Jesus, when a new generation, which had not seen these "great signs and wonders," had grown up, the gospel biographies and epistles began to be written, to further the propaganda of the new faith. The Jews still looked for their Messiah, promised and prophesied, it is said, in their ancient Scriptures. Obviously there could be no Messiah who did not fulfil these various prophecies. Hence the very first obligation for any pretender to the Messiahship -- for the "false Christs" who, as Jesus avers, abounded -- was that he make himself fit into the "prophecies," or be made out by his propagandists to have done so.
Ample stores of alleged "prophecy of Messiah" were at hand, in the Scriptures. Of these prophecies the most curious feature, betraying a blood-relationship to Delphic oracles, is their utter meaninglessness, or their capacity to mean anything or everything according to the necessities of the person invoking them to serve selfish purposes or the cause he seeks to promote. One would think, it may be remarked in passing, that an All-wise God, intent upon revealing his awful purposes for the future of his Chosen People and in the instance of the Christ, for the redemption of all the human race -- would speak, not in "dark sayings," but in plain, intelligible Hebrew, so that everyone might understand the prophecy and recognize clearly its wonderful fulfillment. Thus only, one would think, could Yahveh's own test of true prophecy be intelligently and certainly applied when a question arose: "If the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Yahveh hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously" (Deut. 18: 22 ). Rather, as we will see, the chief characteristic of prophecy, as of oracle, is lack of precision of meaning, which gives it a latitude of interpretation and lends itself admirably to even maladroit manipulation by everyone who raises the cry: "Lo, here is Christ, or there." But the "prophecies of the Messiah." and the gospel interpretation of them, may now be let speak for themselves.
The Jews knew their Scriptures and what sort of "Messiah" they were promised: a lineal descendant of David King of Israel, who should himself be King of Israel and "establish the throne of David for ever" in the restored national land. Most special of all qualifications of promised Messiahship was: "He shall deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land" (Micah 5: 5, 6 ). None of the "false Christs" had met any of the "prophetic" prescriptions; and Jesus was hailed by the rabble as king but for one day. In beginning his campaign among the people, he sent forth his adjutants or disciples, and straitly commanded them: "Go not into the way of the Gentiles; ... But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10: 5, 6 ) So "he came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1: 11 ). But when his own received him not, and repudiated both his claim of Messiahship and his claim to be the actual virgin-born Son of God (which was not an attribute of the prophesied Messiah), "Lo, we turn to the Gentiles" (Acts 13: 46 ), says Paul, who from being the chief persecutor of those who believed had become the chief propagandist of the new faith of dogma, formulated by himself.
The gentiles were the superstitious pagans of Palestine, Asia Minor, and parts thereabouts; they were steeped in belief in all the fables of all the gods of the heathen world. They knew nothing of the Jewish Scriptures or of the promised Messiah; they had no critical sense in religion, but, like Paul and his converts, "believed all things and hoped all things." A new God was to them just one more god among many. The Greeks had an altar erected even "To the Unknown God" (Acts 17: 23 ). The Gentiles believed already in virgin-born gods and in resurrections from the dead: the myths of Attis, Adonis, Isis, and Tammuz were accepted articles of their pagan faiths; fertile ground for a new faith with little or nothing new or strange about its beliefs and dogmas. So to the pagan gentiles the propagandists turned, and fortified their propaganda with marvellous tales of venerable "prophecies" wonderfully fulfilled: "and when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of Yahveh" (Acts 13: 48 ).
It was among these pagan gentiles that the propaganda of the new faith was chiefly conducted and was most successful; and for them the "Good News" and epistles were generation and more after the death and disappearance of the Divine Subject about whom it all was. Pagans whose articles of faith were the myths of the gods of Greece, Egypt, and Rome, and all the pantheon of the orient had little difficulty in being "converted" from these crude superstitions to the new God, whose "coming" had been prophesied in the ancient books of Israel and was wonderfully fulfilled -- they were told -- in the miraculous birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Yahveh, Elohe Israel.
The inspired formula of the new faith is Paul's own confession: "Believing all things which are written in the prophets" (Acts 24: 14 ); and "believing all things, hoping all thing" (2 Cor. 13: 7 ), their faith was to them "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11: 1 ) -- and not knowable; "Hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" (Rom. 8: 24 ).
We shall now respectfully view the Divine Comedy -- the supreme tragedy -- of the "promised Messiah," and the wonders of "prophecy fulfilled in Jesus Christ."
1. The Miraculous "virgin Birth" of Jesus
Matthew, whose gospel was written later, comes first in the order of gospels in our printed collections, for the reason that he gives a detailed "revelation" of the manner of miraculous conception and virgin birth of the Subject of his biography. He begins his book with the genealogy of Jesus, which we elsewhere take notice of. He then proceeds with inspired pen to record:
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of Yahveh 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." (Matt. 1: 18-21 )
The foregoing is pure fiction; here follows the crowning instance wherein "the false pen of the scribes hath wrought falsely":
"Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord [Heb., Yahveh] 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 interpreted is, God with us."
For this "prophecy" of the virgin birth of the Child Jesus, the marginal reference is to the Old Testament, Isaiah 7: 14, as the inspired "source" of the assertion made by Matthew. True, it says nothing of any miraculous pregnancy of any woman by the Holy Ghost, who was wholly unknown in the Old Testament; but this we do find, as rendered by the "false pen of the scribes" who translated Isaiah:
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isa. 7: 14 )
The King James, or Authorized, Version, or translation, puts into the margin opposite this verse the words "Or, thou, O virgin, shalt call." Nothing like this is in the Hebrew text.
We turn to the Hebrew text of this most wonderful of the "prophecies," and may well be amazed to find that it is falsely translated. The actual Hebrew words, read from right to left, and transliterated, so that the reader who knows no Hebrew may at least catch some words already become familiar, are:
"laken yittan adonai hu lakem oth hinneh ha-almah harah ve-yeldeth ben ve-karath shem-o immanuel."
Literally translated into English, in the exact order of the Hebrew words, the "prophecy" reads:
"Therefore shall-give my-lord he [himself] to you sign behold the-maid conceived [is pregnant] and-beareth son and- calleth name-his immanuel."
Here the word harah (conceived) is the Hebrew perfect tense, which, as in English, represents past and completed action; there is not the remotest hint of future tense or time. No doctor of divinity or scholar in Hebrew can or will deny this.
Moreover, this is confirmed by the more honest, yet deceptive, Revised Version. In its text of Isaiah 7: 14, it copies word for word the false translation of the King James Version; but it inserts figures in the text after the words "a virgin" and "shall conceive," and puts into the margin opposite, in small type, which not one in many thousands ever reads or would understand the significance of, the true reading: "the virgin" and "is with child." It was thus not some indefinite "a virgin," who 750 years in the future " shall conceive" and "Shall bear a son," and "shall call" his name Immanuel; but it was some known and designated maiden to whom the "prophecy" referred, who had already conceived, or was already pregnant, and whose offspring should be the "sign" which "my lord" would give to Ahaz. The dishonesty of Matthew and of the translators in perverting this text of Isaiah into a "prophecy" of Jesus Christ is apparent.
"VIRGIN" OR "YOUNG WOMAN"
Another false, or at best misleading, translation is that of "virgin" in Isaiah. The Hebrew word used by Isaiah and translated "virgin" is almah, which does not at all signify "virgin" in the sense in which we understand it, of an unmarried woman who, in the often-repeated biblical phrase, "hath not known man by lying with him." The exegetes of the Biblical Encyclopedia thus correctly define it: "virgin, Heb., almah; i.e., a young woman of marriageable age" (Vol. 3: p. 117 ) -- not necessarily, or even presumptively, of intact virginity. The Hebrew word for a woman actually a virgin is bethulah; and throughout the Hebrew Bible the two words almah and bethulah are used with a fair degree of discrimination of sense, as shown by the instances which I think it pertinent to cite, for a clear understanding of this important point.
In the Hebrew texts the word almah is used seven times, always simply in the sense of a young female, and is rendered "damsel" once, "maid" twice, and "virgin" four times. The word bethulah occurs fifty times, rendered "maid" seven times, "maiden" eight times, and "virgin" thirty-five times. All fifty times it has the technical sense of virginity. For example, Rebekah was a "bethulah, neither had any man known her" (Gen. 24: 16 ). "He shall take a wife in her virginity [bethulah]. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or a harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin [bethulah]" (Lev. 21: 13, 14 ). "If a damsel [naarah] that is a virgin [bethulah] be betrothed," etc. (Deut. 22:, 23 ). If a husband find his new wife "not a maid [bethulah]," then on his complaint her parents must "bring forth the tokens of the virginity [bethulah] of the maid [naarah]" (Deut. 22: 14, 15 ). Jephthah's daughter, doomed to be a living sacrifice to Yahveh, asked time to "bewail my virginity [bethulah]" (Judges 11: 37, 38 ). These instances suffice to make clear the correctness of the definitions: "Bethulah conveys the idea of virginity, of a young unmarried woman; almah is used simply of a young woman of marriageable age" (New Standard Bible Dictionary, p. 939 ); and they show the befuddled folly of all the labored fictions invented by Matthew, Luke, and the dogma-forgers to make out the wife of Joseph the carpenter a perpetual virgin-mother of Jesus and half a dozen other offspring. Isaiah's ha-almah need not have been, and the term did not signify that she was, strictly a virgin. Again "the false pen of the scribes hath wrought falsely." The gospels are all priestly forgeries over a century after their pretended dates.
THE "SIGN" OF A FALSE PROPHECY
What really was Isaiah "prophesying" about and whereof was the "sign" which he persisted in thrusting upon Ahaz after the king had flatly refused to listen to it and had piously protested: "I will not ask [for a sign], neither will I tempt Yahveh"?
No lawyer or other intelligent person would for a moment jump at the meaning of a document from an isolated paragraph; he would stultify himself if he should pretend to form an opinion without a careful study of the whole document. The passage on which the opinion is sought must be taken with all its context. As this of the "prophecy" of the alleged "virgin birth of Jesus Christ" is the keystone of the whole scheme of Christianity, it is of the highest importance to clearly understand, from the context, what Isaiah is recorded as so oracularly delivering himself about. The whole of chapter 7, or at least the verses bearing upon the subject-matter of his "prophecy," must be presented to the reader.
In a word, Isaiah was speaking of a then pending war waged against Ahaz, King of Judah, by the kings of Israel and Syria, who were besieging Jerusalem; Isaiah volunteered his "sign of virgin birth" in proof of his "prophecy," -- shown false by the sequel -- that the siege and the war would fail by the defeat of the allied kings. Here is the inspired text:
"1. And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah, ... king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. ... Then said Yahveh unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz; ... And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted. ... Thus saith Yahveh Elohim, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. ... "Moreover Yahveh spake again unto Ahaz [here Isaiah is not the medium], saying, Ask thee a sign of Yahveh thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt Yahveh. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; It is a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? [here apparently Isaiah or some unknown medium is again speaking]. "Therefore my Lord [Heb., adonai, my lord] himself shall give you a sign.; [honestly translated]: Behold, the maid is with child, and beareth a son, and called his name Immanuel. "Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, [that is, soon after its birth] the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings." (Isa. 7: 1-16 )
This about eating butter and honey so that the child should know good from evil is none too lucid of meaning; and the assurance that before this should come about, "the land which thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings," is hardly more intelligible. But if meaning it has, it means -- as elucidated in chapter 8 -- that very soon after the promised "sign," Samaria, the land of Israel and its king Pekah, under the suzerainty of Rezin King of Syria, should be overthrown; and that the two kings should not prevail in their war against Judah. "It will not succeed. Notice the positive tone of the prophet," says the Biblical Encyclopedia (Vol. 3: p. 116 ), commenting on verse 7.
Verses 17 to 25, completing chapter 7, which give the unique information that "Yahveh shall hiss for the fly that is in ... Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria" (7: 18 ), and that Yahveh shall "shave with a razor that is hired" (7: 20 ), are altogether too oracular and cabalistic for modern understanding; but they are recommended as a rare bit of inspiration.
Isaiah carries his peculiar line of "prophecy" over into chapter 8, and after several utterly unintelligible verses, strikes the trail of his war prophecy again, thus:
"Yahveh spake also unto me again, saying, Forasmuch as this people ... rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son [Pekah]; Now therefore, behold, Yahveh bringeth ... upon them ... the king of Assyria, and all his glory: ... And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over; ... and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel." (Isa. 8: 5-8 )
No clearer proof could be that Isaiah, whatever he was trying to say, was not speaking of Jesus. In chapter 7, he spoke of the war of the kings Rezin and Pekah, son of Remaliah, and offered a "sign" that their expedition would fail, this sign being the virgin-born child Immanuel. Immediately afterwards he predicts a further war upon Judah by the King of Assyria, and addresses his allocation to this same infant Immanuel, and says that Assyria will overrun "thy land, O immanuel." Isaiah spoke simply, and falsely, of a "sign" to King Ahaz regarding the then pending war. Yet Matthew says that this Immanuel was a prophecy of Jesus; but how Jesus could be Immanuel and a "sign" of the result of a war 750 years previously, or the subject of the remarks of Isaiah about the Assyrian war of the same period, is not explained in any revelation I have yet come across. Such a post-mortem "sign" would be of no use to Ahaz anyhow. This pretence by Matthew is clearly unfounded and false.
Moreover, as this "sign" of the virgin-born child Immanuel was proclaimed by Isaiah as a proof of the truth of his prophecy as to the outcome of the pending war, I call special attention to the historical record of the result of this expedition of the Kings of Syria and Israel against Jerusalem and Ahaz. This is from the Second Book of the Chronicles of Israel and Judah:
"Ahaz ... reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of Yahveh. ... Wherefore Yahveh his God delivered him into the land of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter. For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken Yahveh Elohim of their fathers. ... And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria." (2 Chron. 28: 1, 5, 6, 8 )
So the "prophecy" is seen to be false, though the history is contradictorily recorded in 2 Kings 6: 1-9.
2. Where the King was Born
The second statement in which Matthew appeals to the prophets, is that when the "Wise Men" came from the East to Jerusalem in search of the new-born "King of the Jews," Herod sent for the chief priests and scribes and "demanded of them where Christ should be born" (Matt. 2: 1-6 ). How Herod could call a baby a few days old, of whom he knew nothing, "Christ" is beside the present issue. "Christ" means "anointed," and Jesus was not "anointed" in any sense until thirty-odd years later, when the woman broke the box of ointment over him just before his death. But Matthew asserts:
"And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, art not the least among the princes of Judea; for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel." (Matt. 2: 5, 6 )
The marginal source reference of this prophecy is to the book of Micah (5: 2 )., This, with its pertinent context, reads as follows:
"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. ... And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds and eight principal men. And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the and of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders." (Mic. 5: 2, 5, 6 )
Now, whatever this may have referred to, it referred to some leader who should arise to oppose the Assyrians. Nineveh, "that great city," the capital of Assyria, was destroyed, and Assyrian power ceased to exist, 606 years before Christ. This makes it most evident that Micah had no reference to Jesus; and it may seem an oddity that the chief priests and scribes, who always opposed and denied Jesus during his life, and sent him to his death, should have wittingly furnished Matthew with so potent a prophecy concerning him, when Jesus was but a few days old. If the chief priests and scribes, who earnestly looked for the prophesied Messiah, knew that the infant Jesus was the Messiah, the fulfillment of Micah's prophecy, it may be wondered why they did not help him to become indeed "a ruler in Israel" and its great deliverer from the thraldom of Rome.
3. "Out of Egypt"
Matthew's third invocation of the prophets, although the matter referred to was a past fact and not a prophecy, is also found in chapter 2, when the angel is said to have appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Jesus to Egypt in order to escape Herod.
"When [Joseph] arose, be took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of Yahveh by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son." (Matt. 2: 14, 15 )
The marginal reference for the source of this prophecy is to Hosea (11: 1 ). This chapter is entitled by the Bible editors, "The ingratitude of Israel unto God for his benefits," and refers entirely to the past record of the people of Israel.
"When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. ... He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return." (Hos. 11: 1, 5 )
Now, there is a marginal reference at this passage to Exodus 4: 22, 23, as the source of Hosea's allusion to the people called "Israel" as the "son" of Yahveh, and refers to the fact of this "Son" being in Egypt, and being "called" out of Egypt by Moses. Never once does the text say: "I will call" -- but "called." The historical allusion, with its context, is as follows:
"And Yahveh said unto Moses, Thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, 'thus saith Yahveh, Israel is my son, even my first born: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me." (Ex. 4: 21-23 )
From this it is clear that Hosea was looking into the far past and speaking of the exodus of the Children of Israel out of Egypt; not peering into the dim future and speaking of the flight of the Joseph family into Egypt. So Matthew makes another false appeal to "prophecy."
4. "Out-Heroding" Herod
The fourth venture of Matthew in citing the prophets is in the same chapter, after the account of the "Massacre of the Innocents" by Herod in his effort to murder the infant Jesus.
"Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." (Matt. 2: 17, 18 )
The marginal reference opposite this citation is to the Book of Jeremiah (31: 15 ). The weeping prophet was speaking of the utter desolation of the people on account of the Babylonian captivity and threats of further destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, as any one reading the chapter may see.
"Thus saith Yahveh; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Thus saith Yahveh; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for ... they shall come again from the land of the enemy." (Jer. 31: 15, 16 )
Jeremiah speaks of an event which had already happened, and quotes Yahveh as speaking in the past tense "a voice was heard," because of the great afflictions caused by the Babylonians, and promises the "return from captivity," over six hundred years the episode related of Herod. The reader may draw his own conclusions as to the honesty of Matthew's use of this "prophecy" and its fulfilment under Herod. Uninspired human history records not a word of such an impossible massacre by the Roman king.
5. The "NAZARENE"
The fifth reference to the prophets occurs in the same chapter.
"And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." (Matt. 2: 23 )
This is a bit of fancy falsehood. There is not a word in the Old Testament of this "prophecy" or anything like it, or of such a place as Nazareth, which did not exist in Old Testament times, or of Nazarenes. The marginal references to this verse are two: Judges 13: 5, and I Samuel 1: 11. These verses, and their context, refer to matters so far removed from Matthew's alleged "prophecy" that it is idle to quote them. But here they are. In the first instance, an angel of Yahveh appeared to the childless wife of Manoah and said:
"Lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite [Heb., Nazir] unto God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines." (Judges 13: 5 )
The product of this angelic visitation was the giant-killer Samson, and he was to fight the Philistines; Jesus never did.
The second reference has to do with a like angelic aid to Hannah, who made a vow never to let a razor come upon the head of her prospective son Samuel. Those unkempt offsprings of angelic intercourse were called Nazarites. This is the closest that the Old Testament gets to Nazareth, and its inhabitants, Nazarenes. Matthew's invocation of the "Prophets" is far afield both in form and substance.
6. The Great Light
The sixth so-called "prophecy" relating to Jesus which Matthew invokes is in chapter 4: 12-16, a paragraph standing unrelated to anything else in the chapter.
"Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prisons he departed into Galilee; And leavingng Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up." (Matt. 4:12-16 )
We are given as marginal reference of authority for this Isaiah 9: 1, 2. As Matthew so mutilates and distorts his quotation, I shall have to direct attention to the several marked discrepancies and contortions which he makes of his texts, and explain, by their context, what Isaiah was really saying:
"Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtah, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." (Isa. 9:1, 2 )
It will be noticed that Matthew entirely omits all the words which show that Isaiah was speaking of some accomplished historical fact, relating to the afflictions which the tribal sections mentioned had already suffered. These explanatory and historical words, to repeat them for the reader's better catching their significance, are: "Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted Zabulon and Naphthah, and afterward did more grievously afflict her." After depriving the verse of all sense, Matthew retains the simple geographical names: "the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles." Both places are west of the Jordan. If "beyond" means "west of," Isaiah must have been written in Babylonian captivity, as no doubt it was. Matthew converts these meaningless words, taken out of their sense in an historical past context, into a prophecy, which he says was fulfilled because Jesus went to the town of Capernaum, in that part of the country.
But there is more to it. The verse opens with the words: "nevertheless the dimness." Necessarily this refers to something which has preceded in the text. This is found in chapter 8, of which chapter 9 is simply a continuation. But chapter 8 is so incoherent, speaking of "seeking unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter," that it is hardly possible to know what Isaiah is "raving" about. In the last verse, however, he denounces such seekers after wizards, and delivers himself of this: "And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness" (Isa. 8: 22 ). Then chapter 9 opens with the words quoted: "Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtah, and afterward did more grievously afflict her," etc. Isaiah then continues: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light," etc. All this, whatever unapparent sense there may be in it, refers to past events, and the reader may judge of Matthew's accuracy in calling it a "prophecy" fulfilled by Jesus going to Capernaum.
7. He Bore Our Infirmities
The seventh appeal of Matthew to "Prophecy" is in chapter 8, as follows:
"When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." (Matt. 8: 16, 17 )
For this the marginal reference carries us to Isaiah 53: 4:
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."
All this is in the past tense, showing Isaiah lamenting over some departed friend, who was esteemed to have been "smitten of God," and is now dead. It can have no possible reference to Jesus Christ, Yahveh's "beloved son in whom I am well pleased," engaged in the divine work of casting out devils and healing the sick and smitten; never was Jesus at any time "smitten of God." So Matthew again uses a few words out of their context, misquotes them at that, and calls a lamenting statement over some past fact a "prophecy" fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
8. The "Bruised Reed"
The eighth instance of Matthew's adapting what he calls "prophecy" to his own uses, as proof that his account is the truth, occurs in chapter 12. The passage is long, but as it is necessary to compare it with the reputed "prophecy" in order to show Matthew's singular misquotation and misuse, I copy it entire:
"Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust." (Matt. 12: 14-21 )
The marginal reference for the source of this is Isaiah, 42: 1-4:
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall be not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench; he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law."
Who "my servant" upon whom "I have" put my spirit, here spoken of is, Isaiah does not tell us; but certainly the description does not in the least fit Jesus. Jesus was discouraged, and he enjoined secrecy on all his followers and fled to Gethsemane, where he collapsed in despair, as the whole unhappy scene in the Garden shows, and he never saw "victory"! And Isaiah never at all said what Matthew attributes to him in v. 21: "And in his name shall the Gentiles trust"; this is entirely new, made of the whole cloth, and the whole "prophecy" is misquoted and misapplied.
9. "The King Cometh"
The ninth resort by Matthew to this pettifogging method of proof that things done by Jesus were fulfillment of ancient prophecy. is as follows:
"And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." (Matt. 21: 1-5 )
This is a misquotation of alleged prophecy, as is shown by turning to the marginal reference, Zechariah 9: 9:
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass."
The book of Zechariah treats of the return of parts of the Jewish tribes from captivity in Babylon, by leave of King Darius. Zechariah is jubilant over it, and indulges in some flighty exaltations. In chapter 8, Zechariah declares:
"Thus saith Yahveh of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem." (Zech. 8: 7, 8 )
And, in chapter 9, after the verses about the "entry of the King," and amid other exaltations, Zechariah exclaims:
"Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: ... And Yahveh their God shall save them in that day: ... For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids." (Zech. 9: 12, 16, 17 )
Zechariah is here not very lucid, but in any event he was exulting over the return from the captivity, and not over Jesus entering Jerusalem, as Matthew would have us believe.
10. What is this One?
Matthew's tenth appeal to the prophets (Matt. 26: 51-56 ) is too general to permit of specific contradiction by comparing his authority. It is in connection with the story of Peter's cutting off the ear of the high priest's servant with a sword on the night of the arrest of Jesus. Jesus told him to put up his sword, and said that he could call down twelve legions of angels to his defence if he should pray for them. And be asks:
"But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" (Matt. 26: 54 )
Then Matthew says:
"But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." (Matt. 26: 56 )
He does not say which scriptures nor which prophets; but the Bible editors come to his aid and give a marginal reference to the much abused Isaiah bewailing his anonymous "departed friend" who was "smitten of God" (53: 7 ), which we have above referred to and shown to be all in the past tense. Another editorial reference is to the Lamentations (4: 20 ), which may be offered for what it is worth:
"The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of Yahveh, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen."
Jeremiah is here bewailing the desolation of Jerusalem under the captivity of the "heathen" Babylonians, as appears from the entire book of woe, but particularly in these verses:
"Yahveh hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof. The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem." (Lam. 4: 11, 12 )
It is plain that the writer was speaking of the ruin of Jerusalem. But it further appears of whom he was speaking by the terms "the breath of our nostrils, the anointed of Yahveh." All the Jewish kings were the "anointed of Yahveh" -- just as modern ones also are said to be. A marginal reference opposite these words of Lamentations is to Jeremiah 52: 9, which I shall quote together with the preceding and following verses, so as to get the full context:
"But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him. And the king of Babylon slew the Sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he, slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah."
Hinc illa, lacrimae! So Matthew is seen again twisting historical facts into pretended prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.
11. The "Potter's Field"
For the eleventh time Matthew invokes the prophets, the passage being from the story of Judas and the thirty pieces of silver (27: 3-10 ). Matthew says that Judas repented of his bargain of betrayal and took the money back to the chief priests, threw it at their feet, and went and hanged himself. The holy priests who had paid the thirty pieces for the "betrayal of innocent blood" were punctilious about putting the price of the blood into the treasury of Yahveh.
"And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, staying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter's field, as Yahveh appointed me."
If I were arguing this as a case in court, I should indict this in strong terms as pure charlatanism. But as I am simply offering appeals to "prophecy" with a little necessary comment, I merely let the reader compare it with Jeremiah's words (Jer. 32: 6-15 ). They have no more to do with the high priests' buying the potter's field with the thirty pieces of silver than with my buying my house in this city. They refer simply to Hanameel's coming to Jeremiah in prison, "according to the word of Yahveh," and saying to him:
"Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth; ... And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle's son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver." (Jer. 32: 8, 9 )
This is all there is to "that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet," pretended to be fulfilled by buying the potter's field with the blood-money of Judas Iscariot.
But the Bible editors give another marginal reference, not to "Jeremy the prophet," but to Zechariah, for the reason, presumably, that a "Potter" and "thirty pieces of silver" are mentioned. So that no opportunity to let Matthew and his editors vindicate themselves may be denied them, I quote these incoherent verses, without comment -- except to say, what the reader can readily see, that they have no earthly connection with Iscariot's thirty pieces, or with anything else sanely imaginable:
"And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of Yahveh. And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And Yahveh said unto me, Cast it unto the potter; a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of Yahveh. Then I cut asunder my other stair, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel." (Zech. 11: 10-14 )
JUDAS HANGED HIMSELF?
Before passing from Matthew's story of Judas, who, he says, "departed, and went and hanged himself" (27: 5 ), I call attention to the fact that Matthew is flatly contradicted on this point by whoever wrote The Acts of the Apostles (supposed to be the evangelist Luke). This authority, also indulging in some dubious references, makes Peter tell a different story from Matthew's:
"And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, ... Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst and all his bowels gushed out." (Acts 1: 15-18 )
According to this delicate gloating over the ill fate of an apostate brother apostle, it was Iscariot himself who bought a field -- and not a "potters field," but an estate -- with the thirty pieces which he had received as "the reward of iniquity"; be did not, therefore, "repent" and return the money to the priests. Nor did he go hang himself; he accidentally fell and ruptured himself fatally.
Peter's reference to David as speaking, a thousand years before, of Judas, is of a piece with some of the false pretenses of Peter's pretended "successors." The reference for David's reputed remarks about Judas is to Psalm 41: 9:
"Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."
Now, David had troubles of his own, without bothering himself with Judas a thousand years ahead. The whole psalm shows that Peter ignorantly or wilfully falsified. David was pleading with Yahveh for himself alone, as appears by these verses:
"I said, Yahveh, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee. Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish? Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. But thou, O Yahveh, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them." (Psalm 41: 4, 5, 9, 10 )
No words are needed to show that David was speaking of his own troubles, and nothing else. He prays his Yahveh to be merciful and raise him up, so that he can take vengeance on his enemy.
But in this harangue of Peter there are more bungles of falsity and flat contradictions of other inspired passages. It is odd, in the first place, that Peter should make such a speech "in the midst of the disciples" (Acts 1: 15 ), telling them tales they must have known as well as he; and he proceeds to tell them also about the "field of blood," thereby contradicting Matthew. After speaking of Judas's taking the thirty pieces of silver and buying the field, and then bursting asunder bloodily, he conveys to them this bit of information: "And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood" (1: 19 ). This speech was made almost immediately after the ascension of Jesus, related in verses 1-14. Peter then, "in those days" (1: 15 ), made this speech in Jerusalem. As the betrayal of Judas had taken place only a few days before, it is strange that Judas's field should already have acquired this historic name, and be known to all the town. But it is more strange that Peter, speaking Aramaic to peasant disciples who also spoke Aramaic, in which Aceldama is a vernacular word, should translate it into Greek, "field of blood," which neither he nor his hearers understood. Somebody wrote this speech long afterwards in Greek, for Greek-speaking converts, and translated Aceldama into Greek for their benefit.
But Peter contradicts Matthew as to the origin of the term. Matthew says that the priests to whom the thirty pieces were returned by Judas "took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day" (Matt. 27: 7, 8 ); "unto this day" showing, too, that the tale was written long after.
Peter further falsely quotes David as speaking of Judas: "For it is written in the book of Psalms, ... and his bishoprick let another take" (Acts 1: 20 ). For this the supporting reference is to Psalm 109 a perfect gem of anathemas against "my adversaries" (109: 4 ), who "fought against me without a cause" (109: 3 ). Among other picturesque evils which Yahveh is invoked to bring upon the adversary, "Let Satan stand at his right hand; ... let his prayer become sin. Let his days be few; and let another take his office" (109: 6-8 ). So Peter joins the chorus of "lying prophets" and Jesus-propagandists. His appeals to "prophecy" regarding Judas are absolutely false and ridiculous.
12. Parting His Garments
The twelfth and last of Matthew's appeals to the prophets is indulged in at the time of all others when the occasion would seem to have led him to quote accurately and to tell the truth. Under the very shadow of the cross, he says:
"And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots." (Matt. 27: 35 )
The reference is to Psalm 22: 18 and by it David is again made responsible for a pretended prophecy -- though David is not usually "numbered among the prophets." Matthew misquotes the words of David, spoken in the present tense, by putting them into the past tense and changing the pronoun "my" to "him," to make it apply to the acts of the Roman soldiers. The words of David are:
"They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." (Psalm 22: 18 )
Again David is bewailing his own troubles, in the fanciful imagery of oriental poetry. He begins the psalm, which is a song inscribed "to the Chief Musician Aijeleth," with the words quoted by Jesus on the Cross: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" and proceeds in what he himself calls "the words of my roaring." Among the many "roaring" things he says about himself, I quote a very few:
"Many bulls have compassed me. ... They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. ... All my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. [David evidently wasn't up on anatomy, and didn't know of the diaphragm]. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. [It is a wonder that Matthew didn't use this apt phrase as a prophecy of what was done to Jesus!] I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." (Psalm 22: 12-14, 16-18 )
How far these "words of roaring" applied to Jesus on the cross, as Matthew avers one verse did, and how correct Matthew is in his use of so-called prophecy, I leave now with the reader. I pass now to Mark.
MARK'S APPEALS TO PROPHECY
Mark is quite sparing of prophecy, but no less false and unsuccessful in its use.
1. To "Prepare the Way"
His book opens with a very fanciful vision of the Day of Judgment converted into a prophecy concerning John the Baptist as the herald of Jesus. Mark says:
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." (Mark 1: 1, 2 )
The marginal reference here is to the book of the last of the prophets, Malachi. The context shows what it was that Malachi was beholding:
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and Yahveh, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith Yahveh of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when be appeareth? for, he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi: and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto Yahveh an offering in righteousness." (Mal. 3: 1-3 )
Malachi carried his vision over into chapter 4 which is of only six verses, and is headed by the Bible editors "Elijah's coming and office." The pertinent verses are:
"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith Yahveh of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. ... Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahveh." (Mal. 4:1, 5 )
It is thus clear that Malachi was "seeing things" concerning the "great and dreadful day of Yahveh," and said that Elijah would be sent ahead as sort of press-agent and committee of preparations. This vision certainly has nothing to do with John the Baptist or with Jesus, who each denied that he was Elijah (John 1: 20, 21; Matt. 16: 13 ), though Matthew makes Jesus say that John is Elijah (Matt. 11: 14 ).
In this connection, to show a contradiction of inspiration, it may be mentioned that Matthew makes a similar claim of prophecy about John the Baptist, but cites a different source. He says:
"And in those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea. ... For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Yahveh, make his paths straight." (Matt. 3: 1, 3 )
Matthew's reference is to Isaiah, 40: 3, which reads a little differently:
"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Yahveh, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
In verse 6 he adds: "The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass," etc. John the Baptist is not reported as having made any such cry in the wilderness; it is simply poetic frenzy, the meaning of which, if it has any, being not yet revealed or unravelled.
2. "Numbered among Transgressors"
The second and last reference by Mark to "prophecy" is as follows:
"And with him they crucify two thieves; ... And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors." (Mark 15: 27, 28 )
Here again we are referred to that inexhaustible source of pseudo-prophecy, Isaiah 53, which throughout is in the past tense, a lamentation and eulogy over some dead friend. Any righteous man who is put to death unjustly or upon false accusations may be said to be "numbered with the transgressors." There is no "prophecy" in this.
The two other evangelists, Luke and John, mention very few "prophinecies" as being fulfilled in Jesus. One or the other mentions such instances as riding on the ass and casting lots for the garments, which we have already introduced from Matthew, and shall not repeat. The few remaining instances will now be considered.
LUKE CITES PROPHECY
Luke does not himself invoke the so-called prophecies, but puts them into the mouth of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. Luke says that when the child John was born "his father Zacharies was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying" (Luke 1: 67 ). Now, what Zacharias said related exclusively to his own child John, but he cites exactly the same "prophecies" as are always evoked as applying to Jesus. The Bible editors recognized this, and straddled by heading the chapter, "The prophecy of Zacharias, both of Christ, and of John." But John was born six months before Jesus was born. It was on the eighth day after the birth of John, at his "christening," that Zacharias, having been stricken dumb as a "sign" of John's birth to the old and barren Elizabeth, wrote: "His name is John," and then recovered his voice, "was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied." Being "filled with the Holy Ghost," he was consequently fully "inspired," and must have spoken knowingly and truly. Being so filled, he "prophesied" -- of his own son John -- saying:
"Blessed be Yahveh God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David: ... And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of Yahveh to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people, by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel." (Luke 1: 68, 69, 76-80 )
Zacharias clearly speaks all this only of his son John. But whether of John or Jesus, or both, the result is the same: it applies to neither, as is very plain to see. The marginal reference for Luke 1: 69 is to Psalm 132: 17: "There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed." This "anointed" is pretended to be John or Jesus. A few anterior verses will show who the "anointed" was -- King David himself. He begins the psalm:
"Yahveh, remember David, and all his afflictions. ... For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed. Yahveh hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. For Yahveh hath chosen Zion. ... This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell. ... There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed." (Psalm 132: 1, 10-14, 17 )
All this is about a long line of kingly successors of the house of King David: nothing of Zacharias's son John, or of Jesus, neither of whom ever sat on the throne of David.
"GENEALOGIES" OF JESUS
In entire disproof of this reference to Jesus as being a "bud of the horn of David," or a "branch of David," I wish to offer a bit of collateral evidence proving that Jesus was nowise "of the house of David," as is so often asserted in the New Testament. Matthew and Luke both give detailed reputed "genealogies of Jesus Christ, the son of David" (Matt. 1: 1-17, Luke 3: 23-38 ). Matthew twenty-eight generations between David and Joseph; Luke records forty-three generations, every name but three between David at one end and Joseph at the other being totally different. Matthew derives Joseph from David through Solomon and Bathsheba, and through Roboam, son of Solomon, down to "Joseph the son of Jacob." Luke derives the ancestry from David through "Nathan, the son of David," down to "Joseph, the son of Heli." But in either event Jesus could not be the son of Joseph, and hence of David, if the angel spoke true, whom Matthew quotes as having said to Joseph in a dream:
"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 thou shalt call his name Jesus." (Matt. 1: 20, 21 )
For as "Joseph, thou son of David" was not, according to this dream, the father of Jesus, either line of descent from David, whether Matthew's or Luke's, was broken, and the rather attenuated blood of David did not at all pass into Jesus. If the first husband of some woman had been the son of George Washington, but died without child, and the widow married a Mr. Smith, and they had a little George Washington Smith, certainly this offspring would not be a "son" of the Father of his Country, not even by the "bar sinister."
The first reference for Luke 1: 70 is to Jeremiah 23: 5, 6; verses 7 and 8, which I add, might honestly have been also referred to. The passage is as follows:
"Behold, the days come, saith Yahveh, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, YAHVEH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Yahveh, that they shall no more say, Yahveh liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, Yahveh liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land." (Jer. 23: 5-8 )
This refers to a righteous king of the dynasty of David, who "shall reign and prosper." No language could be plainer than that this "Branch of David" was to be a secular king who should, as Zacharias himself says, save us "from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us" (Luke 1: 70 ). Neither John nor Jesus was this man, or was a king, or did any of these heroic things. And Jeremiah's "prophecy" failed, for no such deliverance ever came.
Another marginal reference is to Daniel 9: 24; but Infinite Wisdom alone could tell what this passage is about, so I pass it.
This disposes of and discredits Luke. We take up John.
JOHN APPEALS TO PROPHECY
1. A Prophecy Puzzle
The first reference to "prophecy" by John is in chapter 1, verse 45:
"Philip findeth Nathanel, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
This brings on such an intricacy of marginal reference and cross reference, that merely to try to disentangle such meaning as they may have would certainly affect one's mind, as Don Quixote's was affected by his books of knight-errantry. So I shall give only a few samples, and leave any reader who has nothing better to do to unravel the rest.
The first reference is to Genesis, 3: 15, the story of Eve and the serpent, and Yahveh's saying that there should be enmity between her seed and the serpent's seed. As nobody rationally believes that such a scene and colloquy ever occurred, what was not said does not signify; it means nothing anyhow, as demonstrated elsewhere. A bona fide God could speak more to the point than this jargon if he wanted to prophesy, especially of so fateful an event.
The next marginal reference is to Genesis 49: 10, from the account of dying Jacob's blessing on his sons:
"The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk." (Gen. 49: 10-12 )
Here we have, for verse 10, a false translation, or, if not, a notoriously false prophecy, besides an obviously post-Mosaic passage. Shiloh was the name of a town north of Bethel, where the Ark was deposited before it was removed to Jerusalem (Josh. 18: 1; Judges 18: 31; 1 Sam. 4: 3, 4 ). Consequently Jacob could have known nothing about Shiloh, and Moses could not have written the passage. But the Messiah-mangers have long regarded verse 10 as an alluring explicit prophecy of Jesus Christ, ridiculously torturing "Shiloh" into the name of a person. The Revised Version is loath to give up this false translation; but it does put into the margin the true rendition of the Hebrew: "Till he come to Shiloh, having the obedience of the peoples." This "he" is Judah, son of Jacob, to whom this "blessing" is addressed (Gen. 49: 1, 8-12 ); and the passage means, if anything, that supremacy should not depart from the descendants or tribe of Judah, after the tribe should possess that town in the promised land, so long as they retained the obedience of the people (see Encyc. Bib., Vol. 4: art. Shiloh). To change Shiloh into a person, and that person Jesus Christ, and to say that the "scepter shall not depart from Judah" until he came would involve poor Jacob in a false prophecy; for the scepter did "depart from Judah" forever when Nebuchadnezzar conquered the land, 586 years before Christ. Whatever this red-eyed drunkard referred to, it can hardly be believed to be a prophetic portrayal of Jesus, who was neither a wine-bibber nor held a scepter as king of Judah.
The next reference is to Deuteronomy 18: 18, which, since Jesus himself is made to refer to this later by John, I will pass over for the moment. This ends these references to Moses as having written of Jesus; the other references are to the prophets, many of which we have already "weighed in the balance and found wanting." All the others will be found of exactly the same stripe, or even more meaningless and inapplicable to Jesus.
2. "For Moses Wrote of Me" (Jesus)
The second of John's appeals to prophecy occurs where John puts into the mouth of Jesus a false statement of pretended prophecy concerning himself. John makes Jesus say:
"For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" (John 5: 46, 47 )
The latter verse (5: 47 ) is reserved for future consideration; we shall now run down the statement: "for [Moses] wrote of me." A similar statement is made in Acts 3: 22:
"For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall Yahveh your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you."
The references opposite these companion verses take us back to the citations we last reviewed, particularly to the so-called "Fifth Book of Moses," Deuteronomy 18: 17, 18. Jesus and the author of Acts call this a "prophecy" concerning Jesus:
"And Yahveh said unto me, ... I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him."
Who, then, was this prophet whom Yahveh was to raise up out of "thy brethren" like unto Moses, and to whom they were to hearken in all things which he commanded them? Moses, or whoever wrote the Five Books, tells us. For, in Numbers 27: 12, Yahveh told Moses to go up into Mount Abarim, "and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel":
"And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people. ... And Moses spake unto Yahveh, saying, Let Yahveh ... set a man over the congregation, Which may go out before them, and ... lead them. ... And Yahveh said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before ... all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honor upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. ... And Moses did as Yahveh commanded him: and he took Joshua," etc. (Num. 27: 13-22 )
It is plain from this and the other alleged "prophesies" referred to by Jesus and the evangelists that Moses did not write of Jesus, nor did the prophets speak of him; but of Joshua as the immediate successor of Moses as leader of the Chosen People.
3. Who Hath Believed? And Why Not?
The third attempt of John to fulfil "prophecy" is a two-horned imposition on Isaiah, as usual.
"These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake; Yahveh, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of Yahveh been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." (John 12: 36-40 )
The first reference, about believing our report, is to that mine of "near-prophecy," Isaiah 53: 1. I can see no connection between "not believing our report," which would be of things past and unknown to the persons to whom the report is made, and not believing in a person and things seen with one's own eyes, some seven centuries later, as was the case with those "before" whose eyes Jesus did "see many miracles." Furthermore, Isaiah is speaking about the "report" of himself and other prophets: "Who hath believed our report?" It is idle to say more about this phase of it.
The other horn of this dilemma is utterly false, and implies an abhorrent proposition. John says that the Jews who saw the many signs of Jesus "believed not on him." But why not? John tells us why, saying positively: "For this cause they could not believe"; for as Isaiah (6: 9, 10 ) had said: "He [Yahveh] hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should turn [repent], and I should heal them." It is discouraging to have to point out again that Isaiah was speaking of his own times and people and troubles. A few verses will make this evident even to a learned theologian:
"The vision of Isaiah which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. ... For Yahveh hath spoken, ... they have rebelled against me. ... Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation. ... How is the faithful city become an harlot!" (Isa. 1: 1-4, 21 ) "O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of Yahveh" (2: 5 ). "For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against Yahveh" (3: 8 ). "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you. ... And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will break down the wall thereof. ... And I will lay it waste. ... Therefore is the anger of Yahveh kindled against his people" (5: 3, 5, 25 ). "And he [Yahveh] said [to Isaiah], Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. ... And make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed" (6: 9, 10 ).
John craftily omits even the opening words of Isaiah's verse 9, which of itself shows that Isaiah was told by Yahveh to "go and tell this people" those things, which John then claims that Isaiah gave as the reason why other Jews, 750 years later, would not believe Jesus! And the scraps of verses which I have picked from each of the preceding five chapters, to connect the whole, further prove what Isaiah was talking about, and to whom he was speaking.
The "abhorrent thing" which I mentioned is John's remarkable excuse for Jesus' not being believed by the Jews: "For this cause they could not believe" -- because Yahveh had "blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts," so that they could not believe and turn and be healed; that is, repent and be saved! Yet, if this same John and all his colleagues in inspiration are to be believed, Yahveh sent his own "beloved Son" into the world that the world through him might be saved; he called all to repentance, saying: Believe on me and ye shall be saved, and if ye believe not, ye shall be damned!
4. A Cooking Lesson as "Prophecy"
We pass now to the last reference by John to alleged "prophecy" of Jesus. This is also a double-barreled blunderbuss, and scatters shot all through the law and the prophets.
As Jesus hung on the cross between the two thieves, says John:
"Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But then they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side. ... For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced." (John 19: 31-34; 36, 37 )
John appeals to these spurious "prophecies" with great solemnity, and, as he admits, for the express purpose of making himself believed: "And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For," he adds, "these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled" (John 19: 35, 36 ). What scripture? The marginal references for verse 36 are to Exodus 12: 46; Numbers 9: 12; and Psalm 34: 20. I quote these in full, to show the straits of the evangelist and his editors to find something to fit; and their context to show what they really refer to: a passover cooking- lesson for the fugitive slave Jews!
1. Exodus 12 records the establishment of the passover feast, consisting of unleavened bread and a male lamb or kid (12: 5 ). This was to be prepared and eaten:
"And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and un-leavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. ... And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is Yahveh's passover. ... In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof"! (Ex. 12: 8, 9, 11, 46 )
John misquotes this last sentence out of a whole chapter of minute directions for cooking and eating the passover lamb or kid; and changes the neuter "a bone thereof" -- that is, "of it," of the lamb or kid -- so as to make it apply to a man: "a bone of him shall not be broken." Then he calls it a "prophecy" of Jesus Christ fulfilled!
2. The second reference is in practically identical words; it is identical in subject; and its application to Jesus is identical in falsity:
"Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. ... The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all ordinances of the passover they shall keep it." (Num. 9: 2, 11, 12 )
3. The third reference in trying to make this cookery recipe apply to Jesus on the cross is to Psalm 34. This does not even squint at the "prophecy" -- "A bone of him shall not be broken." David is in a good humor with himself and his Yahveh, and he sings:
"I will bless Yahveh at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. ... Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but Yahveh delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. -- (Psalm 34: 1, 19, 20 )
This clearly irrelevant last appeal to wholly impertinent "prophecy" exhausts the series of remarkable attempts of the four evangelists to torture Old Testament "ravings" of the prophets into inspired fore-tellings of the Jesus Christ of the New. It is more than evident from this review that not a single word of the scores of so-called "prophecies" culled from the old Hebrew Scriptures in the remotest degree hints at the humble Man of Galilee.
If a lawyer, pleading his cause before any court in any civilized country of the world, should resort to the device of citing records, precedents, and authorities in support of his contentions, and these should be discovered by his opponent or by the court to be of the sort appealed to by the gospel writers, he would be disgraced, branded as charlatan and "shyster," driven from the profession which he had thus dishonoured, and exposed to the contempt of honest mankind. But gospel writers are yet haloed as inspired saints, and preachers of the "Word of God" are yet sacred "divines," who go about redolent of the odor of sanctity, and listened to with rapt awe when they teach and preach these "prophecies" and their "fulfilment" to those who have been taught to believe them and have never thought for themselves or "searched the scriptures" for the wonders of their most holy faith. Like John on Patmos, we have "tried them which say they are apostles, and ... found them liars" (Rev. 2: 2 ).
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