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us, that such should be stoned; but what sayest thou i? When our Saviour foretels his disciples that they should be delivered up to councils, and scourged in Synagogues k, he shews at the same time what power and authority were exercised in the councils and synagogues of the Jews. When Pilate, willing to be delivered of Jesus, says to the Jews, Take ye him and crucify him': and again, Take ye him and judge him according to your own law m; he also shews, that the Jews lived under their own law, and had the exercise of judicial authority among themselves". This was the condition of things at the death of Christ.
By this deduction it appears evidently, that the sceptre, placed in the hand of Judah by his father Jacob just before his death, continued in his posterity till the very death of Christ. From that time all things began to work towards the destruction of the Jewish polity; and within a few years their city, temple, and government, were utterly ruined ; and the Jews, not carried into a gentle captivity, to enjoy their law, and live as a distinct people in a foreign country, but they were fold like beasts in a market, and became flaves in the strictest sense; and from that day to this have had neither prince nor lawgiver among them. Nor will they ever be able, after all their pretences, to thew any signs or marks of the Sceptre among them, till they discover the unknown country, where never mankind dwelt, and where the apocryphal Esdras has placed their brethren of the ten tribes
* Matt. X. 17. i John viii. 5.
m John xviii. 31. | John xix. 6.
See this proved at large by Wagenseil, Car. Lip. Con. pag.
Before I take leave of this subject, it is necessary to observe, that this interpretation of the prophecy of Jacob relating to Judah is very much confirmed by another prophecy given by Moses, not long before his death. In the 33d chapter of Deuteronomy Moses blesses the tribes; and as there are many passages in this last benediction of Moses, which correspond to the blessings pronounced by Jacob; so particularly the blessing of Judah by Moses seems to relate to the last state of that tribe, and the continuance of the fceptre of Judah after the dispersion of the other tribes. The words of Moses are these : Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people : let his hands be sufficient for him ; and be thou an help to him from his enemies P. This benediction cannot relate to the time when it was given, for then Judah's hands were very fufficient for him; this tribe being by much the greatest of the twelve tribes, as appears by two different accounts of the forces of Israel in the Book of Numbers 9; and there was more reason to put up this petition for several other tribes, than for Judah. Besides, what is the meaning of bringing Juduh to his people ? How were he and his people at this time separated ? What means likewise the other part of the petition ? Be thou an help to him from his enemies. This petition supposes a state of distress : yet what distress was Judah in at this time ; at least, what
greater distress than the other tribes? The ancient Targums, and some old versions, understand the first petition of bringing Judah back to his people, to be only a request in his behalf for safe return from the day of battle : but was there not the same reason for the same petition in behalf of every tribe Nay, how much better would it have suited Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manaffeh, who left their people and their settlements on the other side of Jordan, and passed over the river, in the very front of the battle, to afsift their brethren '?
But if you refer this prophecy to the prophecy of Jacob, and to the continuance of the sceptre of Judah after the destruction of the other tribes, every expression is natural and proper, and suited to the occafion. Do but suppose Moses, in the spirit of prophecy, to have a sight of the state of affairs when all the people were in captivity, and you will see how this prophetic prayer answers to that state. All the tribes were in captivity ; the ten tribes in Assyria, and Judah in Babylon: but it was implied in Jacob's prophecy, that Judah should retain the sceptre, and return again; for Judah only therefore does Moses pray, that he may come to his people again, Jacob had foretold, that at this time the gathering of the people should be to Judah ; that he should be all in all, the only head of all the remnant of Israel. These people, destined to be gathered to Judah, were now no people, could be no people, till the return of Judah ; at which return many of all the tribes were to join
i Josh, iv, 12.
themselves to Judah, and with him to form one people: how properly then does Mofes pray, that Judah might return to his people! Let his hands be sufficient for him.
Good reason was there for this petition, for scarcely were his hands sufficient at the return from Babylon. The tribe of Judah s in Moses's time consisted of 76500, reckoning only those of twenty years old and upward. But upon the return from Babylon, Judah, with Benjamin, the Levites, and the remnant of Israel, made only 42360"; and in so weak a state they were, that Sanballat in great scorn said, What do these feeble Jews u? And the people themselves complain, as being not sufficient to go through the toil of building the wall : And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wallx.
Be thou an help to him from his enemies. The books Ezra and Nehemiah are convincing proofs of the great difficulties and oppositions which the Jews found in setting up their temple and city. Once their enemies had so prevailed, that orders came from the court of Persia to stop all their proceedings; and even at last, when Nehemiah came to their assistance, with a new commission from Artaxerxes, they were so beset with enemies, that the men employed in building the wall, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon y.
Numb. xxvi. 22.
+ Ezra ii. 64.
Lay these two prophecies now together : Jacob foretels, that Judah's fceptre should continue till Shiloh came; which is in effect foretelling, that the scep. tres of the other tribes should not continue so long. Moses, in the spirit of prophecy, sees the desolation of all the tribes: he sees the tribes of the kingdom of Israel carried away by the Affyrians, the people of Judah by the Babylonians : he sees that Judah should again return, weak, harassed, and scarcely able to maintain himself in his own country;
for them therefore he conceives this prophetic prayer : Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people : let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.
You will say, perhaps, why did not Jacob foretel also the continuance of the sceptre of Benjamin, for the tribe of Benjamin run the same fortune with that of Judah ; they went together into captivity, they returned home together, and were both in being when Shiloh came? In answer to this I have two things to offer.
First, It has already appeared, that, from the divifion of the kingdoms after the death of Solomon, the tribe of Benjamin and the remnant of Israel, that is, part of all the other tribes, adhered to Judah as their head; and this was confonant unto Jacob's prophecy, Unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
Secondly, Though the continuance of the sceptre of Benjamin is not foretold, (for the sceptre was to be Judah's,) yet the continuance of the tribe or people of Benjamin is distinctly foretold, both by Jacob and Moses. The blessing of Benjamin, as delivered