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It has before been shown, not only by the evidence of history, but by the acknowledgments of those who affect to disbelieve the whole testimony, that the Jews sincerely believed in the divine legation, and prophetic inspiration of Moses. This fact, therefore, renders it expedient for me to advert to one of the prophecies recorded by him, which, perhaps, more than any other, has baffled the arts, and confounded the arguments of the most learned among the descendants of the house of Jacob.
The passage to which I allude is recorded in the book of Genesis, xlix. 10. "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come and to him shall the gathering together of the people be."
The name Shiloh, signifies a Saviour, a Peace-Maker. The plain import of the language here employed, is, that the sceptre should not depart from Judah, or Judah should not be destitute of one to sit upon the throne of authority, or one to give laws to the house of Judah, until the Saviour and Peace-Maker should make his appearance in the world; and it therefore directly implies, that after this illustrious character should appear, the sceptre, which is the token or emblem of authority, should depart from the house of Judah, and that there should be no one to give laws to that nation, from among the ancient tribes: At least, that no legitimate authority, or independence, should be possessed and exercised by them.
That this prediction was literally fulfilled, every attentive reader of history will bear me witness : For there never was a time, from the days of Moses, until after the captivity of the Jews, by the Romans, in which they were not governed by Rulers of their own appointment. Even during the Babylonish captivity, the Jews it is said were permitted to be governed by their own laws; and appoint their own Rulers; in such a manner as not to interfere with the established laws of the Babylonish Empire. It is further evident from the story of Susanna, that the Jews had Judges and Elders in Babylon, who governed them, and decided matters in dispute juridically according to their laws For it appears that this woman was condemned to be stoned to death by the judges, upon the false tes
timony of two of the Elders, who were, however themselves condemned to suffer that punishment in her stead, as the just demerit of their perjury. It is also contended by Don Calmet, that the refuse of the Israelites were left in Judea, during this famous captivity, and were governed by Josiah, and other kings of Judah.
Should it however be doubted, that during the Babylo-nish and other captivities, the Jews were governed by their own Rulers; we reply, that some of the most eminent Jewish writers have entirely obviated the objection to the application of this prophecy to the Messiah, on that account For the Targum of Onkelos renders the passage thus-" There shall not fail from Judah one exercising dominion forever; until king Messiah come." The obvious import of this rendering is, that the power of government should not be entirely removed from the Jewish nation at, or during any period, until the Messiah should make his appearance. This is substantially the sense and meaning of the Christian interpretation. And it is just to remark in this stage of our inquiries, that Onkelos is supposed to have lived sometime before the birth of Christ, and has always been esteemed by the Jews, as one of the most able, faithful and literal translators and expositors of the Hebrew text.
My Brethren, I might with a great degree of confidence, forbear to quote any farther evidence of the application of this prophecy; but I deem it prudent, at least, to furnish other testimony. The Targum of Jonathan, and that which is termed the Jerusalem Targum, render this passage thus,"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until the time when the king Messiah shall come." Thus it appears undeniable, that the most respectable authorities among the Jewish writers have clearly applied the prophecy under consideration to Christ, the annointed Saviour of the world. The Targum, or exposition of Jonathan, is supposed by some to have been written about thirty years before the birth of Christ-that of Onkelos a little later, and that of Jerusalem unknown; though some critics have considered it still more ancient. These have always been held in the greatest esteem by the Jews, and are therefore quoted as
the best authorities for the genuine sense of the prophecy. To these I may add the name of the learned Grotius, of the sixteenth century, who, in speaking of those interpretations among the modern Jews, which differ from the Christian translation, condemns them in toto, and says, (6 away then, with the modern fictions of the Jews."
Having therefore shown from the highest authority that the correct application of this prophecy refers us to Christ; we may now open our eyes to the evidence of its fulfilment. That the Jews are scattered throughout the whole world, without any distinct government which they can call their own, and without being able even to mark the distinction of their tribes, is a fact too well authenticated, and too generally known, to require any arguments for its defence. It is now utterly impossible for the Jews themselves to determine from which of the tribes they have descended, since they have, during their long dispersion, and the violent persecutions which they have suffered, intermarried with each other, until the identity of their tribes is entirely lost. And from the period of their overthrow by the Romans, for the term of more than 1700 years, they have been subjected to foreign masters, and live as aliens, even in their own native Palestine. Surely then, the sceptre has departed from Judah, and the lawgiver from between his feet. The promised and predicted Shiloh has come ; whose birth, life, character, death, resurrection and ascension, was sung by many of the ancient prophets, and has been emblazoned from the faithful pages of modern history.
I shall now call your attention to some of the prophetical denunciations of Moses, which are of a most singular and astonishing character; and whose fulfilment must defy the power of reason to indulge a single rational doubt of the inspiration of him who announced them to the descendants of Israel.
In Deuteronomy xxviii. 62, 63. the prophet declares to the Jews," Ye shall be few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude,—and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it."
This is truly a most astonishing prophecy, and its singularity renders it worthy of particular observation. When it was pronounced, the Israelites had not entered into the
promised land, nor had they any inheritance among the nations. It embraces the certainty of their entering upon the possession of Canaan, and foretells that they would be reduced from a vast and innumerable multitude, to few in number, and be removed from that land by their invading enemies.
Moses, as a powerful and successful legislator, stakes his reputation upon the truth of these prophecies: The question therefore is, have they received a literal fulfilment? If they have, his prophetic inspiration is established. That they have been literally plucked from off the land which they went to possess, is clearly proved by the history of their captivities, as well as their present dispersion throughout the globe. I must here advert to what has already been laid before you namely, that the ten tribes have never returned from the captivity into which they were carried by the king of Assyria: But a scanty portion of them ever returned from the Babylonish captivity; and finally, the work of their entire removal, as a nation, was effectually completed by the Romans.
Since that period, their country has been constantly in possession of foreign lords and masters, entirely out of the possession, and removed from the control of the Jews. Indeed, there are and have been but few of the Jews remaining in Palestine since their overthrow, and these, of the poorer sort. In the twelfth century, a celebrated Jew of Tudela in Spain, distinguished by the appellation of Rabbi Benjamin, travelled into almost all parts of the civilized world to examine the synagogues and ceremonies of his nation, and to inform himself of the exact condition of his brethren. He tells us that Jerusalem was almost entirely abandoned by the Jews; that there were not more than 200 of them to be found there, and these, mostly dyers of wool, the monopoly of which trade they purchased from year to year. These, he tells us, all lived together in David's tower, making very little figure, and exciting as little notice. In other parts of the country he found one or two in a city ;-in some twenty, and in others, none. Sandy, in his travels, speaking of the land of Palestine, says, "It is for the most part inherited by Moors and Arabians; those possessing the valleys, and
these the mountains. Turks, there be a few but many Greeks with other christians of all sects and nations, such as impute to the place an adherent holiness. Here be also some Jews, yet inherit they no part of the land, but in their own country do live as aliens." Thus you see, my hearers, how exactly the prophecy has been fulfilled, which declared to the tribes of Jacob that they should be plucked from off the land which they were going to possess.
Another part of this prophecy announced that they should become few in number, though they were previously to be multiplied as the stars of heaven.
Passing over the numerous wars by which the Jewish ranks were thinned from time to time, this prophecy was literally verified in the memorable siege of Jerusalem, when it was invested by Titus; and when, as Josephus expresses it, an infinite multitude perished. He computes the number that perished by sword and famine, at eleven hundred thousand! This otherwise incredible number, can be readily accounted for, since the Jews were assembled from all parts to celebrate the passover, at Jerusalem.
Basnage, in his history of the Jews, furnishes an account of one million, three hundred and thirty-nine thousand, six hundred and ninety persons, that were destroyed in the city of Jerusalem and other parts of Judea, besides ninetynine thousand two hundred, taken prisoners. These facts he has collected from the accounts of Josephus. In these historical facts you plainly see the fulfilment of the prophecy which foretold the astonishing reduction of the vast multitudes of the Jews to "few in number."
The learned historian to whom I have alluded, when speaking of the prophecies concerning their dispersion, their sufferings, and their miraculous preservation as a distinct and separate people, whose history abounds with massacres and persecutions, uses the following language concerning them-" Here," says he, "is also another circumstance which heightens this prodigy. This forlorn and persecuted nation can scarcely find one place in the universe to rest their heads, or to set their feet in. They have waded through floods of their own blood, and are as yet preserved That infinite number of Jews, murdered through a cruel and barbarous zeal, weakened, but did not