« ÎnapoiContinuați »
THE LAW IN MESSIANIC TIMES.
THE LAW IN MESSIANIC TIMES.
(See Vol. i. Book III. ch. iii. p. 341.)
The question as to the Rabbinic views in regard to the binding character of the Law, and its imposition on the Gentiles, in Messianic times, although, strictly speaking, not forming part of this history, is of such vital importance in connection with recent controversies as to demand special consideration. In the text to which this Appendix refers it has been indicated, that a new legislation was expected in Messianic days. The ultimate basis of this expectancy must be sought in the Old Testament itself—not merely in such allusions as to the intrinsic worthlessness of sacrifices, but in such passages as Deut. xviii. 15, 18, and its prophetic commentary in Jer. xxxi. 31, &c. It was with a view to this that the Jewish deputation inquired whether John the Baptist was that Prophet.' For, as has been shown, Rabbinism associated certain reformatory and legislative functions with the appearance of the Forerunner of the Messiah (Eduj. viii. 7).
There were, indeed, in this, as in most respects, diverging opinions according to the different standpoints of the Rabbis, and, as we infer, not without controversial bearing on the teaching of Christianity. The strictest tendency may be characterised as that which denied the possibility of any change in the ceremonial Law, as well as the abrogation of festivals in the future. Even the destruction of the Temple, and with it the necessary cessation of sacrifices—if, indeed, which is a moot question, all sacrifices did at once and absolutely cease-only caused a gap; just as exile from the land could only free from such laws as attached to the soil of Israel. The reading of the sacrificial sections in the Law (Meg. 31 b; Ber. R. 41)—at any rate, in conjunction with prayers (Ber. 2 b), but especially study of the Law (Men. 110 a), took in the meantime the place of the sacrifices. And as regarded the most sacred of all sacrifices, that of the Day of Atonement, it was explained that the day rather than the sacrifices brought reconciliation (Sifra c. 8). This party held the principle that not only those Divine, but even those Rabbinic, ordinances, which apparently had been intended only for a certain time or for a certain purpose, were of eternal duration (Bezah 5 b). The Law is never to cease; there are the commandments—since there is no prophet who may change a word in them.'
I In the Book Cusari (iii. 49, ed. Cassel, p. 274) an inference somewhat inconvenient to Rabbinisin is drawn from this. If, as it asserts, Levitical uncleanness and holiness are correlative terms, the one implying the other, would it not follow that with the cessation of the Jewish economy the whole ceremonial Law would also cease? See Cassel's note.
? For further particulars I refer to Stein, Schrift des Lebens, i. pp. 319-336 (ch. on. The
Messiah'), to the article on the Messiah in
So far were these views carried, that it was asserted : “Israel needs not the teaching of the King Messiah,' but that • He only comes to gather the dispersed, and to give to the Gentiles thirty commandments, as it is written (Zechar. xi. 12), 'they weighed me my price, thirty pieces of silver ” (Ber. R. 98). But even these extreme statements seem to imply that keen controversy had raged on the subject. Besides, the most zealous defenders of the Law admitted that the Gentiles were to receive laws in Messianic times. The smallest and most extreme section held that, the laws, as Israel observed them, would be imposed on the Gentiles (Chol. 92 a); others, that only thirty commandments, the original Noachic ordinances, supposed to be enumerated in Lev. xix., would become obligatory,' while some held, that only three ordinances would be binding on the new converts : two connected with the Feast of Tabernacles, the third, that of the phylacteries (Midr. on Ps. xxxi. 1, ed. Warsh., p. 30 b). On the other hand, we have the most clear testimony that the prevailing direction of teaching was in a different direction. In a very curious passage (Yalkut ii. 296, p. 46 a), in which the final restitution of 'the sinners of Israel and of the righteous of the Gentiles' who are all in Gehinnom, is taught in very figurative language, we are told of a 'ner Law which God will give by the Messiah’in the age to come—thanksgiving for which calls forth that universal Amen, not only on earth but in Gehinnom, which leads to the deliverance of those who are in the latter. But as this may refer to the time of the final consummation, we turn to other passages. The Midrash on Song ii. 13. applying the passage in conjunction with Jer. xxxi. 31, expressly states that the Messiah would give Israel a new law, and the Targum, on Is. xii. 3, although perhaps not quite so clearly, also speaks of a “new instruction. It is needless to multiply proofs (such as Vajjikra R. 13). But the Talmud goes even further, and lays down the two principles, that in the age to come 'the whole ceremonial Law and all the feasts were to cease. And although this may be regarded as merely & general statement, it is definitely applied to the effect, that all sacrifices except the thank-offering, and all fasts and feasts except the Day of Atonement, or else the Feast of Esther, were to come to an end—nay (in the Midr. on the words 'the Lord looseth the bound,' Ps. cxlvi. 7), that what had formerly been "bound' or forbidden would be 'loosed' or allowed, notably that the distinctions between clean and unclean animals would be removed.
There is the less need of apology for any digression here, that, besides the intrinsic interest of the question, it casts light on two most important subjects. For, first, it illustrates the attempt of the narrowest Judaic party in the Church to force on Gentile believers the yoke of the whole Law; the bearing of St. Paul in this respect; his relation to St. Peter; the conduct of the latter; and the proceedings of the Apostolic Synod in Jerusalem (Acts xv.). St. Paul, in his opposition to that party, stood even on orthodox Jewish ground. But when he asserted, not only a new law of liberty, but the typical and preparatory character of the whole Law, and its fulfilment in Christ, he went far beyond the Jewish standpoint. Further, the favourite modern theory as to fundamental opposition in principle between Pauline and Petrine theology in this respect, has, like many kindred theories, no support in the Jewish views on that subject, unless we suppose that Peter had belonged to the narrowest Jewish school, which his whole history seems to forbid. We can also understand, how the Divinely granted vision of the abrogation of the distinction between clean and unclean animals (Acts x. 9-16)
i Stein, u. 8. pp. 327, 328.
2 Comp. on this Holdheim, Das Ceremonialges. p. 46.
THE LAW IN MESSIANIC TIMES.
thoug h coming as a surprise, have had a natural basis in Jewish expectancy, and it explains how the Apostolic Synod, when settling this question, ultimately fell back on the so-called Noachic commandments, though with very
wider-reaching principles underlying their decision (Acts xv. 13-21). Lastly, it seems to cast even some light on the authorship of the Fourth Gospel; for, the question about that prophet' evidently referring to the possible alteration of the Law in Messianic times, which is reported only in the Fourth Gospel, shows such close acquaintance with the details of Jewish ideas on this subject, as seems to us utterly incompatible with its supposed origination as "the Ephesian Gospel' towards the end of the second century, the outcome of Ephesian Church-teaching—an esoteric and eclectic' book, designed to modify the impressions produced by the tradition previously recorded by the Synoptists.'
1 The learned reader will find a very ? Yalkut i. 15, p. 4, d, towards the middle. curious illustration of this in that strange A considerable part of vol. iii. of “SuperHaggadah about the envy of the serpent natural Religion is devoted to argumentabeing excited on seeing Adam fed with tion on this subject. But here also the informeat from heaven-where another equally mation of the writer on the subject is neither carious Haggadah is related to show that accurate nor critical, and hence his reasoning * nothing is unclean which cometh down from and conclusions are vitiated. heaven.
THE LOCATION OF SYCHAR, AND THE DATE OF OUR LORD'S VISIT TO SAMARIA,
(See Vol. i. Book III. ch. viii.)
I. THE LOCATION OF SYCHAR.
ALTHOUGH modern writers are now mostly agreed on this subject, it may be well briefly to put before our readers the facts of the case.
Till comparatively lately, the Sychar of St. John iv. was generally regarded as representing the ancient Shechem. The first difficulty here was the name, since Shechem, or even Sichem, could scarcely be identified with Sychar, which is undoubtedly the correct reading. Accordingly, the latter term was represented as one of opprobrium, and equivalent to Shechar ’ (in Aramæan Shichra), as it were, • drunken town,' or else “Sheker' (in Aramäean Shikra), ‘lying town.' But, not to mention other objections, there is no trace of such an alteration of the name Sychar in Jewish writings, while its employment would seem wholly incongruous in such a narrative as St. John iv. Moreover, all the earliest writers distinguished Sychiar from Shechem. Lastly, in the Talmud the name Socher, also written Sichra, frequently occurs, and that not only as distinct from Shechem, but in a connection which renders the hypothesis of an opprobrious by-name impossible. Professor Delitzsch (Zeitschrift für Luther. Theol. for 1856, ii. pp. 242, 243) has collected seven passages from the Babylon Talmud to that effect, in five of which Sichra is mentioned as the birthplace of celebrated Rabbis—the town having at a later period apparently been left by the Samaritans, and occupied by Jews (Baba Vez. 42 a, 83 a, Pes. 31 b, Nidd. 36 a, Chull. 18 b, and, without mention of Rabbis, Baba K. 82 b, Menach. 64 b. See also Men. vi. 2, and Jer. Shek. v. 2). If further proof were required, it would be sufficient to say that a woman would scarcely have gone a mile and a half from Shechem to Jacob's Well to fetch water, when there are so many springs about the former city. In these circumstances, later writers have generally fixed upon the village of ’Askar, half a mile from Jacob's Well, and within sight of it, as the Sychar of the New Testament, one of the earliest to advacate this view having been the late learned Canon Williams. Little more than a third of a mile from 'Askar is the reputed tomb of Joseph. The transformation of the name Sychar into 'Askar is explained, either by a contraction of 'Ain 'Askar,
the well of Sychar,' or else by the fact that in the Samaritan Chronicle the place is called Iskar, which seems to have been the vulgar pronunciation of Sychar. A full description of the place is given by Lieutenant Conder (Tent-Work in Palestine, vol. i. pp. 71 &c., especially pp. 75 and 76), and by M. Guérin, “ La Samarie,' vol. i. p. 371, although the latter writer, who almost always absolutely follows tradition, denies the identity of Sychar and ’Askar (pp. 401, 402).
DATE OF CHRIST'S VISIT TO SYCHAR.
II. TIME OF OUR LORD'S VISIT TO SYCHAR. This question, which is of such importance not only for the chronology of this period, but in regard to the unnamed Feast at Jerusalem to which Jesus went up · (St. John v. 1), has been discussed most fully and satisfactorily by Canon Westcott (Speaker's Commentary, vol. ii. of the New Testament, p. 93.) The following data will assist our inquiries.
1. Jesus spent some time after the Feast of Passover (St. John ii. 23) in the province of Judæa. But it can scarcely be supposed that this was a long period, for
2ndly, in St. John iv. 45 the Galileans have evidently a fresh remembrance of what had taken place at the Passover in Jerusalem, which would scarcely have been the case if a long period and other festivals had intervened. Similarly, the • King's Officer' (St. John iv. 47) seems also to act upon a recent report.
3rdly, the unnamed Feast of St. John v. 1 forms an important element in our computations. Some months of Galilean ministry must have intervened between it and the return of Jesus to Galilee. Hence it could not have been Pentecost. Nor could it have been the Feast of Tabernacles, which was in autumn, nor yet the Feast of the Dedication, which took place in winter, since both are expressly mentioned by their names (St. John vii. 2, x. 22). The only other Feasts were: the Feast of Wood-Offering (comp.. The Temple,' &c., p. 295), the Feast of Trumpets, or New Year's Day, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Esther, or Purim.
To begin with the latter, since of late it has found most favour. The reasons against Christ's attendance in Jerusalem at Purim seem to me irresistible. Canon Westcott urges that the discourse of Christ at the unnamed Feast has not, as is generally the case, any connection with the thoughts of that festival. To this I would add, that I can scarcely conceive our Lord going up to a feast observed with such boisterous merriment as Purim was, while the season of the year in which it falls would scarcely tally with the statement of St. John v. 3, that a great multitude of sick people were laid down in the porches of Bethesda."
But if the unnamed Feast was not Purim, it must have been one of these three, the Feast of the Ingathering of Wood, the Feast of Trumpets, or the Day of Atonement. In other words, it must have taken place late in summer, or in the very beginning of autumn. But if so, then the Galilean ministry intervening between the visit to Samaria and this Feast leads to the necessary inference that the visit to Sychar had taken place in early summer, probably about the middle or end of May. This would allow ample time for Christ's stay at Jerusalem during the Passover and for His Judæan ministry.
As we are discussing the date of the unnamed Feast, it may be as well to bring the subject here to a close. We have seen that the only three Feasts to which reference could have been made are the Feast of Wood .Offering, the Feast of Trumpets, and the Day of Atonement. But the last of these could not be meant, since it is designated, not only by Philo, but in Acts xxvii. 9, as the fast,' not the feast vnotela, not éoptń (comp. LXX., Lev. xiv. 29 &c., xxiii. 27 &c.). As between the Feast of the Wood Offering and that of Trumpets I feel at considerable loss. Canon Westcott has urged on behalf of the latter reasons which I confess are very weighty. On the other hand, the Feast of Trumpets was not one of those on
1 I must here correct the view expressed in my book on · The Temple,' p. 291, due to a misunderstanding of St. John iv. 35. Of
course, if the latter had implied that Jesus was at Sychar in December, the unnamed feast must have been Purim.