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I say not that God gave them the Spirit of prophecy; but that he dictated to them some particular prophecies. In this instance of Balaam, it is said "the Lord met him, and gave him a charge what he should say ;" and so he was enforced by the divine power to bless instead of curse.
It will be a suitable preface to what we are to infer from this prophecy, if we give the exposition of the verses above quoted in the words of the Hebrews, and of the Greek Septuagint for to the Hebrews that proverb well applies-Ubi bene, nemo melius.
“ I shall see him, but not now or nigh;" that is, as Rabbi Jarchi expounds it—“ I shall see HIM, who is the praise and greatness of Jacob, not now, but after a time.” And as the Chaldee paraphrase expounds it, "It is not near, when a king "shall arise out of the house of Jacob, and Christ shall be anointed
of the house of Israel, and shall rule over all the sons of men." 17 v. 1. "There shall arise (avateλe Septg.) a star out of Jacob." This by Peter is applied to Christ-"Until the day star arise ;” w and by Christ to himself in the Revelation—“ I am the bright and morning star." x
17 v. And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel,”- that is, (saith the Chaldee Paraphrase) a king shall arise; the Messiah shall be anointed, that shall rule all the sons of men." So that
she burnt three more, and again demanded the price of the whole nine for the remaining three. As this extraordinary behaviour astonished Tarquin, he consulted the augurs, who blamed him for not buying the nine; upon which the monarch gave the required price for the remaining three, and the woman disappeared, and was never afterwards heard of. These books, which were afterwards called the Sibylline verses, were committed to the custody of fifteen priests chosen for the purpose, and were carefully preserved, greatly reverenced by the Romans, and consulted on very solemn occasions; but when the Capitol was burnt, in the time of Sylla, they were consumed in the conflagration. So great was this loss considered, that commissioners were sent into different parts of Greece to collect all the writings of the Sibyls that could be found; but it is greatly questioned, whether the eight books now extant, (and which are the books quoted by Lactantius, pages 31 to 35 of this volume,) are the same: for, owing to the circumstantial manner in which they speak of Christ, they are supposed to have been fabricated in the second century, by the indiscreet zeal of christians, for the purpose of convincing the heathen. Waiving however the question of their authenticity; and admitting even, for argument's sake, that they are not the original books, but a spurious composition of the date assigned to them; they nevertheless possess a particular interest in regard to the subjects discussed in this volume. For as, in that case, they were doubtless intended to represent the prophetical views entertained by christians; (or they would not have been so freely quoted by the orthodox Fathers;) they afford us a good insight into the millennary opinions which prevailed in the second century. ED.
w 2 Pet. i, 19. * Rev. xxii, 16.
Christ must have his sceptre, as well as David and other kings and as he must have his gracious sceptre of righteousness over his people, so also his constraining and destroying rod, or sceptre of iron, over his enemies. y
17, v. And he shall smite the corners (or through the corners) of Moab, and shall destroy all the children of Seth." The Septuagint is," He shall break to pieces the Dukes of Moab;" and the Chaldee is, "He shall kill the Princes of Moab, and shall unwall the children of Seth." This the Targum excellently expounds, that Christ shall have dominion over all the children of men.' For Seth being the son of Adam, given to him in the room of Abel; and Cain's posterity being drowned in the flood, leaving only Seth's posterity in Noah; all the world may now be truly called the children of Seth. And this dominion of Christ over all kings and nations is foretold in Psalm lxxii, 11, "All kings shall fall down before him, and all nations shall serve him." So in Philippians, where we have it in the future tense, long after Christ's ascension: At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, (Tаv yovv kaμm) of things in heaven and things in earth, &c." z To this exposition Jarchi subscribes ; and Rabbi Maimony notably explains the whole prophecy, first of David, as the type, then of Christ; thus: "I shall see him, “but not now ;' that is, David: 'I shall behold him, but not
nigh;' this is the king, Christ.
There shall proceed a star
"out of Jacob;' this is David: and a sceptre shall rise out of "Israel;' this is the king, Christ.-' And shall smite through the corners of Moab ;' this is David, as it is written (2 Sam. ii, 8.) 'And he smote Moab, &c.:' ' And he shall unwall all the sons of Seth;' this is the king, Christ, of whom it is written, (Ps. lxxii, 8,) he shall have dominion from sea to sea.' And "Edom shall be a possession,' i.e. to David; as it is said, (2 Sam. “viii, 14,) and all they of Edom became David's servants :' "And Seir shall be a possession ;' this is unto the king, Christ, as it is said, (Obad. 21,) and Saviour's shall come up on Mount Sion, to judge the mount of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's.""
y Ps. xlv, 7; Heb. i, 8; Ps. ii, 9; Rev. xii, 5.
z Phil. ii, 10.
18, v. "Edom shall be a possession, &c." These Edomites (the posterity of Esau) became a possession to David; a and hereafter, as it is written, they are to be a possession to Christ : "Who is this that cometh up from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? &c." b-intimating a corporal destruction of the Edomites by Christ. Seir is also Esau, for there Esau dwelt ;c therefore the Septuagint renders Seir by Esau.
18 v. "Israel shall do valiantly;" against Esau and the rest of the enemies of the church. Thus Israel, according to his name, shall prevail as a prince,' with God and man; d as it is written: "Through God we shall do valiantly, for He shall tread down our enemies." e
19 v. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city:" that is, of all cities, as the Chaldee expounds it, viz. the cities of the peoples.'
vv. 20-22. These verses need no explanation.
v. 24. "
Alas, who shall live when God doth this:" the Chaldee Paraphrase explains it, "woe to the sinners that shall live when God doth this."-The Targum Jonathan adds to it; "when the Word of the Lord shall be revealed to give a good reward unto the just, and take vengeance on the wicked." To which let me add the Geneva notes: "Oh, who shall not perish, when the enemy, Antichrist, shall set himself up as God!" And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim. and shall afflict Ashur, and shall afflict Eber, and he shall "also perish for ever." The Chaldee expounds Chittim to signify the Romans. The old Latin explains it by Italy, which is all one in effect; only the Roman monarchy was larger than the imperial seat of it in the kingdom of Italy. Chittim, or Kittim, was one of the sons of Javan, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah. His posterity inhabited Greece and Italy, Cyprus and Cilicia; (as Josephus affirms ;) all which places also by turns were sometimes of the Greek empire, sometimes of the Roman empire. For these reasons, Chittim, alias Kittim, is sometimes taken for the Greeks, sometimes for the Romans; both which in turn afflicted Ashur, and Eber,-that is the
a 1 Chron. xviii, 13.
b Isaiah lxiii. 1.
c Gen. xxxvi. d Gen. xxxii, 38. f Gen. x, 4.
Hebrews, or people of Israel. But the catastrophe is, 'that Chittim shall perish for ever."
Now these promises, in their full latitude and extent, were never yet fulfilled. This same star Christ hath not yet shined upon the hearts of the generality of the sons of Jacob. He hath not yet, as Christ, ruled as a king over all the sons of men. He hath not yet unwalled all the children of Seth :" i. e. he hath not brought them off from their own confidences to submit to him; or (as the Chaldee expounds before) he hath not had dominion over all the children of men. The whole world are not yet so much as professors of Christ; nor hath Christ taken vengeance on them to this day: Chittim is not yet perished for ever; but, partly under the Turk, and partly under the Pope, doth yet mischievously and mightily oppose Christ.
Nor can a wise man dream, that these things shall be fulfilled at, or after the ultimate day of judgment; for then Christ's dominion doth utterly cease. And this text further saith, "when God doth this, who shall live?" plainly signifying, that when Christ doth thus as a king, and rules over all the sons of men, there shall be a great corporal destruction of his enemies ; whereas the ultimate day of judgment is not the killing, but the making alive corporally all the wicked.
Chapter xxx, 1-10.
This Scripture, to those who read with a cursory eye, may seem little to our purpose; but being weighed, it is very ponderous, and will soon turn the scales. The sum of obeying God's voice, and keeping his commandments,' so often here inculcated, is their keeping the covenant they made with God; viz. that as God should be their God, so they should be his people. And it is upon Gospel terms even, that Moses treats with them in this place; as is evident from verses 11—14; (viz. that the commandment was not far off, &c. but nigh, even in their mouth, and in their heart;) for the Apostle Paul, ex
pounding this very place, and applying it to the Jews, calls it— "the word of faith." And when the Jews shall obey; (viz. believe the Gospel,) being brought unto repentance, (which is hinted at in the words call to mind,' and returning,' often so expounded, h) then the Lord shall deliver them from all their captivities, when and wheresoever they be. For Moses aims not at this or that particular captivity: the words of the promise are far more comprehensive, viz. “If any of thine (he says) be driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven, from thence "will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he "fetch thee. And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the "land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and
he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers; and "(v. 6,) the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. And (v. "7,) the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine "enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee. "And (v. 8,) thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, " and do all his commandments, which I command thee this
'day. And (v. 9,) the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous "in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in "the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: "for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good, as he re"joiced over thy fathers."
Now let the ingenuous reader say, whether these promises were ever thus fulfilled! Considering the time when Moses delivered them, they must relate to the whole twelve tribes; but we know not that ever the ten tribes returned from their captivity and we are sure by experience, that thousands of the two tribes are even now in captivity under the Turkish and Roman empires; and thousands of them dispersed among the Indians, and also in Europe. So that the Jews themselves (not only the unconverted, but some that are converted to christianity,) confess these things never yet to have been fulfilled ; as I myself have been an ear witness from M. Melos, a Jew of Portugal, converted to the faith. And much less to the Jews so delivered,
g Rom. x, 8. h 1 Kings, viii, 46, 47; Is. xlvi, 8; Lam. iii, 21; Luke, 15, 17.