Of the Hebrew Doctors on the great Day of Judgment, and of the Reign of the Messiah then to come.
Carpentarius, in his Commentary on the Alcinous of Plato, p.322, asserts, that |the seventh millenary was called, by the whole school of the Cabalists, the great day of judgment, because then they think that God will judge the souls of all.|
He means, by the name of Cabalists, (if I am not mistaken,) the Talmudic doctors, according to whom, in more than one author, that tradition is found to be recorded. For thus it is read in the Gemara Sanhedrim, Perek Chelek -- R. Ketina has said, |The world subsists for six thousand years, and will be destroyed in one, of which it is said, And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.' |But he understands the destruction which is to come, will be by fire, by which the world being refined, will be purified like gold, and will be delivered from subjection to the curse under which it now groans on account of man, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, Rom. ch. viii. It follows a little after, in conformity with the tradition of R. Ketina, |As out of seven years, every seventh year is the year of remission, so out of the seven thousand years of the world, the seventh millenary will be the millenary of remission, as it is said, And the Lord alone shall be exalted, in that day.' It is said also in the 92d Psalm, a Psalm or Song for the Sabbath-day, that is, of the day of perfect rest. It is also said, Psalm xc. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday.'|
Here the Reader may remark two things: -- First, that the ancient Jews understood that prophecy of Isaiah, ch. ii. where these words, |And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day,| occur twice, -- of the day of the great judgment, and of the reign of Christ, from whose footsteps the succeeding Rabbins do not depart. |In that day,' that is, the day of judgment,| says R. Schelomo. Also, |When he shall have risen to consume the earth, that is,| says he, |in the day of judgment, in which the Lord shall consume the wicked of the earth,| R. David Kimschi says, |In that day, that is, in the days of the Messiah, when God shall execute judgment on the wicked.| And again, |And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day, is the same as if he had said, The Lord shall be King over all the earth.| Another thing to be remarked is, that the title of the 92d Psalm was thought by those Hebrew masters to have respect to the subject of the Psalm, and that it ought to be understood of the Sabbatism of a thousand years.
Now, from these premises I am decidedly of opinion, that the ancient Jews explained the day which they denominated the day of judgment as the MILLENNIUM; which is more fully confirmed from Misdrachtchillim, upon that passage of the 90th Psalm, |Comfort us now, for the days for which thou hast afflicted us,| viz. says he, |in Babylon, in Greece, and under the Romans, and that in the days of the Messiah.| And how many are the days of the Messiah? Jehosuah said that they are two thousand years, as it is written according to the days; that is, according to, or during, two days; for one day of the holy and blessed God is a thousand years, according to that saying, For a thousand years are in thy sight but as yesterday.'| The masters also say, that the age to come (en oikoumene te mellouse Heb. ch. ii.5.) will be one day of the Messiah. For the holy and blessed God, in the age to come, will make for himself one day, of which it is said in Zechariah, ch. xiv. |And there shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day nor night . And it shall come to pass that at even time it shall be light.| This day is the age to come, and the revival of the dead: But in what millenary that was to come, they did not agree among themselves, and neither did that opinion of the seventh satisfy all. There were some, and not of inferior authority, who understood it of the sixth, as the house of Elias, whose tradition respecting the millennium of the great judgment is extant in these words: |The just, whom God will raise again, (namely, at the first resurrection ,) will not again be reduced to dust. But if you inquire of those thousand years in which the blessed God will renew the world, of which it is said, And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,' what will become of the just? Be it known, that the holy and blessed God will give them wings like eagles, that they may fly upon the face of the waters whence it is said, Psalm xlvi.3, Therefore will we not fear when the earth shall be changed.' Perhaps you will say, it must be an affliction to them. But then occurs that passage in Isaiah, ch. xl.31, They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles.'| The same tradition, however, asserts, that the world shall not last more than six thousand years. For thus runs the tradition: |The world endures six thousand years; two thousand emptiness, two thousand years the Law; and lastly, two thousand years the day of Christ.| One of which millenaries, therefore, according to this opinion, would be that great day of which it is said, |And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.| The same was the opinion of Rabbi Asche, the son of R. Abbas, as it is there expressly said, namely, from the opinion of Chanan, son of Thahaliphas, that the holy and blessed God would not renew his world till the seventh millenary. But R. Asche had said, that it would be after the fifth millenary.
What, moreover, in addition, the Jewish masters thought concerning the reign of the Messiah in that great day to come, may be known in some measure from what I now subjoin. In the summaries of the great Rabbi Eleazar, (who lived a little after the second temple,) it is said, |As I live, saith the Lord, I will raise you up in time to come, in the resurrection of the dead, and I will gather you together with all Israel in the land of Israel.| Petrus Galat. lib. xii. c.1.
So likewise the paraphrast Jonathan, (who lived before Christ,) on the xivth of Hosea, 4 to 9, |They shall be gathered out of the midst of their captivity; they shall dwell under the shadow of their Christ; and the dead shall live, and good things shall grow up out of the earth, and there shall be a memorial of their goodness bearing fruit, and never failing, just as the remembrance of the sound of trumpets over the old wine, which used to be poured out in libation on the sanctuary.|
Targum on Ps.1. v.3. The just shall say in the day of the great judgment, |Our God shall come and shall not keep silence, to execute vengeance for his people.|
R. Saadas (one of those doctors whom they call eminent,) on that passage of Daniel, c. vii. v.10, |And the judgment was set, and the books were opened,| says, |That is the day of judgment, as it is written, Mal. c. iv.1, Behold, the day cometh burning as a furnace.' -- And the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment,' Isa. c. v. ver.16. -- and also, Wherefore wait ye for me, saith the Lord.' That is the great day when the Lord shall arise to judgment.| And a little after he says, |Know that with relation to what I quoted, The judgment sat, and the books were opened,' I expounded it above of the day of judgment, and the day of visitation; (Wisdom c. vii. v.7 and 13.) that is, the day to come, when inquiry shall be made into every work of the sons of men, as well the living as the dead.| The same observes on v.18, |And the saints of the most high God shall take the kingdom.| Because the Israelites rebelled against the Lord, their kingdom shall be taken from them, and shall be given to those four monarchies, which shall possess the kingdom in that age, and shall lead them captive, and shall subdue Israel to themselves, until the age to come, when the Messiah shall reign.
Compare Luke c. xxi. v.24, &c. The Jews shall be led captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled. |Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud,| &c. And that of Tertullian against Marcion, lib. v. c.10. |Christ, the High Priest of the circumcised priesthood, when at length it shall come to pass, that the circumcision and the people of Abraham acknowledge him, shall be deemed worthy of acceptance and benediction.| To this agrees what is contained in the book of Berachoth, lib. xi. c.1. on the faith of Peter the Galatian, and is thus read: |Ben Zuma said, It will come to pass, that Israel will not mention of the coming up out of the land of Egypt in the age to come, and in the days of the Messiah. And what is the proof of this? Because it is written, Jer. c. xxiii. |Behold, the days come, when they shall no longer say, The Lord lived], who caused the children of Israel to conic up out of the land of Egypt,| &c. The wise men have said, not that the name of Egypt should be extirpated from its place, but that the wonderful things which shall come to pass in the days of those kingdoms, that is, when the Messiah shall destroy the kingdoms of the world, will be the chief in their estimation, and Egypt will be but secondary. From these and similar sayings, the reader may learn |why Jerome so often reproaches Judaism for its millenaries which indeed he does so studiously, that this may appear to have been the triumphant argument by which he would prove the error of that dogma. But however it may be with the dogma, and whether these fathers judged advisedly or not, to think with the Jews is not always to be imputed as a fault. . Otherwise, why do we not likewise explode the age to come, Gehenna, Paradise? For do not we Christians hold these in common with the Jews? Why should we not then receive those expressions of the kingdom of the heavens, and the day of judgment, delivered down from the Jewish masters? For where can they find those in the canon of the Old Testament, which however are very common among the doctors of the Jews? Besides, who now, after having heard the opinion of the ancient Hebrews concerning the thousand years of the day of judgment, would not immediately find himself induced to believe that the apostle Peter in his dissertation about the day of judgment, with the same people, (for both his Epistles were addressed to the Jews,) and immediately subjoining to it, |Be not ignorant of this, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,| meant to confirm the tradition of the rabbis upon this very point? Especially since those words seem not to be borrowed from the Psalms, (as is generally supposed,) but from the common formula of the Jews, when speaking of that day. Nay, he will moreover reflect, that unless Christ our Lord and his apostles had made such frequent use of the expression of the day of judgment, derived from the Jewish masters, in the same sense as themselves, why do they never point it out by a single word? For is it not a very dangerous thing, nay, a mode liable to deceive, to apply the words and phrases of those who are in error in the course of doctrine, without any caution or remark that they are used in a different sense?
Such being the case, I leave to those who are able to judge of mysteries of this kind in theology, to consider whether this would be the best and easiest method of acting with the Jews; not that those very clear prophecies of events in the second and glorious advent of Christ, should be wrested by application to the first, but that they should be persuaded that no other Messiah is to be expected by them, who will fulfil all those things; mutatis mutandis however, (for the Christian is not here to be precisely of .the same opinion with the Jews, but to be guided by the measure of Christian faith,) no other than Jesus of Nazareth, whom their ancestors crucified, as the Apocalypse every where so earnestly inculcates. |Behold,| says its author, just after its commencement, |Jesus Christ, the first born from the dead, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, even they who pierced him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. I am A and O, the First and the Last, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come.| Also he attributes that august kingdom every where to the Lamb, that is, to Jesus Christ who was slain; as ch. vii. of the multitude bearing palms, |The Lamb shall feed them,| &c.; c. xvii. v.14, |The Lamb shall subdue them, because he is King of kings, and Lord of lords;| c. xix. v: 7. |The marriage of the Lamb is come;| c. xxi. v.9. of the New Jerusalem, |I will show you the spouse of the Lamb;| and v.23. |The Lamb is the light thereof,| &c. For while we wrest those very clear prophecies of events relative to the second coming of Christ, and apply them to the first, the Jews hold us in derision, and are more confirmed in their infidelity. This method of converting the Jews, unless I am much deceived, the apostle Peter pursued, Acts c. iii. v.19. |Repent ye,| says he, |and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, and that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that he may send Jesus Christ, who was before preached unto you, whom the heavens must receive till the time of the restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouths of all his holy prophets, since the world began.|
|Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good.| 1 Thess. c. v. ver.21.
|To our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, be glory both now and to the day of the age. Amen .| 2 Peter c. iii. last verse.
To Theo doxa dia Iesou Christou eis tous aionas.
GILBERT & RIVINGTON, PRINTERS, ST. JOHN'S SQUARE.