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“mammon of deceit,” or “mammon of falsehood," was often heard in the synagogues of Palestine during the ministry. Those to whom Jesus spoke had been taught, we may assume, that the sons of Samuel had turned aside “after the mammon of falsehood” (1 Sam. viii. 3); that the man who heaps to himself “mammon of falsehood" destroys his own house (Prov. xv. 27), and that the princes of Jerusalem in the last days of the kingdom of Judah did not shrink from murder in their eagerness to gain “the mammon of falsehood” (Ezek. xxii. 27, see also the Targumic renderings of Isa. v. 23; xxxiii. 15; and Hosea v. 11). They may have been assured from the platform of the synagogue that one of the sins of the Sodomites was misuse of mammon; "they were evil,” says the Targum, “in their (the use of) mammon towards one another” (Gen. xiii. 13). So when Jesus spoke of the mammon of unrighteousness, whether He used the very phrase 72877109, or not, his hearers would at once think of that, and of any similar expression which they had been accustomed to hear in the synagogue. The phrase PT 1909 seems to have meant mammon which was either got by deceit or used in deceit. As some may have begun even then (note the reference above to Baba batra 11b) to contrast earthly and heavenly treasures, it is at
may have been 1 מָמוֹן דִּרְשַׁע or ,מָמוֹן דִּשְׁמַר least possible that the expression
intended to mean, and have been understood to mean, earthly possessions which are so closely associated with evil, and at their best are deceitful, as opposed to spiritual blessings, which are real and everlasting.
To sum up, when Jesus said, “ Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles," He sought to impress on those who heard Him the real nature of earthly possessions—that if not stained by their origin, or the motive which led to their accumulation, they are disappointing and transient and to point out the best way of using them; and He did this in language which sanctioned what was good in current Jewish teaching on the subject without endorsing what was exaggerated or erroneous.
THE SIGN PROMISED TO AHAZ: A REPLY TO
REV. F. H. WOODS.
Vicar of Dulverton.
Is. vii. 14-16. THERE are some remarkable statements in the paper on the above passage in the last number of THE THINKER. I should be most reluctant to draw any
inference from a critical exposition that was not intended by the writer ; but three suggestions, to use the mildest word, appear to be made : 1. That
My friend, Prof. Marshall, has called attention to the occurrence of this expression in the Targum on Hab. ii. 9, “Woe to him who scizeth the mammon of unrighteousness to his house, in order to set his habitation on high, to save himself from the power of evil.”
Justin Martyr and the Christians of his early day were in error in maintaining that Isaiah predicted the birth of the Messiah from “the Virgin, and that the Jews were right in asserting that the person spoken of was a married woman. 2. Something still more alarming, St. Matthew's interpretation of the Isaianic passage falls into the same error. 3. Though this is not stated by the writer explicitly, it would seem to be implied that the sentence in the Creed, “ Born of the Virgin Mary,” will not stand the test of modern criticism, at all events so far as this prophecy is concerned. All this is sufficiently surprising; but in these days of Rationalism we are almost past the stage of surprises. Strange to say, in reading through the paper I find myself at issue with the learned writer in almost every single
Ι particular. He says, “While npby is most commonly used, no doubt, of a virgin, it is certainly sometimes used of a young married woman.” Now, what are the facts ? Let critics be fair on both sides. This word occurs in six other places in the Old Testament besides this in Isaiah, and perhaps in the plural in Ps. xlvi. (title) and 1 Chron. xv. 20. The writer does not seem to question the perfect virginity implied in Gen. xxiv. 43; Exod. ii. 8; Ps. lxviii. 25; and Cant. i. 3; but he gives Prov. xxx. 19 and Cant. vi. 8 as having the most natural meaning of a “young married woman." Let us take the first of these into consideration. What is the meaning of this passage ? It runs thus : “ There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: the way of an eagle in the air ; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea ; and the way of a man with () a maid.” Some delicacy is required in the exposition of the passage ; but the parallel cases sufficiently show the features of a mystery that is difficult to be traced. But in this case all mystery ceases with repeated experience; it is only with the hitherto untouched and untried that the mystery exists. That this is the point in question here is clear from the choice of the words employed. Had marriage been in the mind of the author, he would have used, surely, the
a man a8 ,גבר but he has ; נקבה and זכר or perhaps ,אשה and איש words
to his strength and vital force, which stands opposed to the Almah and her purity and inexperience. So far from helping the argument for which it is cited, it supplies a more than tacit refutation.
As to the second case, Cant. vi. 8, the passage reads : “ There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number." There are here three distinct classes defined as members of the royal harem, the queen-consorts who had acknowledged rank and rights, the concubines with whom intercourse had taken place, and the virgins who were passing through the prescribed forms of purification and preparation before being admitted to the king's society. Surely, again, the meaning of the word is inevitably on the side of perfect purity hitherto. Had intimacy taken place they would have been reckoned with the previous class. As to the derivation of the word, the leading opinions are well known to need repetition here. The author of the 2 Maccabees, who speaks of ai katáKLEUTOL 7. mapevwv, intimates what was the favoured derivation and meaning in his day, which was not far remote from the date of the Incarnation, and 3 Maccabees supplies the same phrase. The next thing asserted is that, if Isaiah had intended such a stupendous event (should not a sign (nie) from Jehovah be such ?) as a birth from a virgin, he would not have used an ambiguous word instead of Abına, the ordinary word for virgin. Now, is Bethulah really the word for a virgin, physically speaking, in preference to Almah. It is often asserted to be so, but will this bear investigation? In Joel i. 8 we read “ Lament like a virgin (Bethulah) for the husband of her youth.” Husband Sva, one who was her master, who had possession of her youth. I am aware of the efforts that have been made to escape this evidence, but see Exod. xxi. 3, 22; and 2 Sam. xi. 26. The truth is that nou signifies a virgin naturally, de facto, and abina a virgin according to civic or social classification; the former is equivalent to our virgin or maiden, and the latter to our spinster. This underlies the law in Deut. xxii. 19, as seen in the phrase “ Virgin of Israel," and this is supported by the fact that now is never used figuratively, but when a city is called a virgin, ibina is always employed. Now these are the facts of the case. The controversy between Justin and Trypho, the rebuke of Irenæus, and the comments of Origen and Jerome are so familiar with all students of the controversy that they require no quotation here ; but one fact must be emphasized, that the version of the LXX. was made by Jews long before there could exist any partisanship or controversy on this point, and they deliberately rendered nown by ý nap évos. No further comment is necessary, this is a convincing proof.
I then find Mr. Woods asserting that the "sign ” was given " to the house of David, as it existed at that time, and most especially to Ahaz himself.” It is strange how differently men read the same passages of Scripture. I had always thought that the pronouns settled this matter in quite the opposite way, that the prophet first invited Ahaz to ask & sign—"Ask thee 7 a sign "_but when he saw that Ahaz manifested unbelief and disregard for his position and duties (I see no “affected piety ") he turned away from him with contempt, and addressed the family to whom the covenant belonged : “Hear ye now, O house of David, is it a small thing for you to weary men, that ye will weary my God also ? Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you (095) a sign.” The sign was one not given to the individual who then so unworthily filled the throne but repudiated the inheritance of the promise, but to the house and lineage of him to whom the promise had been made of old, and consequently we may fairly infer that the date of the fulfilment of the sign was not limited to the lifetime of the king, but to the existence of the favoured line. Again, Mr. Woods translates, " Behold, the young woman bath conceived, aud shall bear a Son”; this, he adds, is the most natural construction of the tenses, but 177 is not the 3rd per. fem. kal, but the part. fem. (see Exod. xxi. 22) like the word which follows it, and with which it stands connected;
80 the translation should rather be, “Lo! the Virgin pregnant, and bearing & Son."
Passing over other matters of less though not little importance, we come to the proposed interpretation of the prophecy. Here, again, has sufficient notice been taken of 10787, the land, and of the participle IP, rendered in both A.V. and R.V." abhorrest"? The interpretation proposed is the usual one, it makes the land to signify the lands, as though it were in the plural, of Syria and Ephraim, and of the two kings which were the foes of Judah ; but ND787, the land, in the singular, can have but one meaning, the land kat' étoxýv, the land of Canaan, the land promised of old, and now occupied by the tribes of Israel, hence also "both her kings," A.V., and “whose two kings,” R.V., must be the kings of Israel and Judah. Before accepting or rejecting this interpretation which is forced upon us by the general use elsewhere of 10787, let us look at the participle Y'p with the emphatic pronoun Thou attached to it, first as to the construction of the sentence. The A.V. makes "both her kings” depend upon the verb " forsaken"; whereas the R.V., following Delitzsch, Cheyne, and others, makes the "two kings" to depend upon " abhorrest." It is advanced in favour of the latter
“ that this construction is found in Exod. i. 12 and Numb. xxii. 3; but the former has the support of the versions of the LXX., of the Peshitto Syriac, of Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, and St. Jerome with his Jewish assistant. All these authorities agree in this construction, and it is to be presumed that they knew whether it was grammatical and consistent with the sense required. All ancient scholarship, which in several cases involved a vernacular use of the original in some form and to some degree, is on this side. But, secondly, what is the meaning to be given to IP? All the Greek authorities give different words, but in this very chapter, ver. 6, we have another instance of this verb, “Let us go up against Judah and vex it.” It would seem far more natural to give this verb the same fundamental meaning in both places which are so closely connected, though the forms are different, and so to bring out the sarcasm of the prophet. It is not Syria and Ephraim that vex, but it is thou, Ahaz, that art vexing the land; thou art the true enemy of the land by thy unbelief and disobedience.
Here comes in another objection that has been raised: What sign could the distant birth of Christ be to Ahaz? The answer is plain, as evidenced by the prophet turning away from the king who repudiated his privileges to the “house of David,” to which in all its generations the promise was given. The king was endeavouring to bring about the destruction of “the land," but his efforts in that direction would be useless until the destiny of the house of David was fulfilled. The virgin must bear the promised Son, Judah is immortal till that event is accomplished. It matters not whether it is near or far, the family and lineage of David must survive till then. Hence the sign was plain enough, or ought to have been, to Ahaz and the people in general. The closing portion of this section of Scripture fully discloses the destruction that should befall Judah as well as Israel, but the final fall of Judah is after the birth of Immanuel.
A sign nix from Jehovah is always something solemn, and of awful import. All the evasions which have been proposed to escape the Messianic reference both amongst the Jews of the early Christian period and the followers of Gesenius in our own times, show a lamentable want of reverence for this phrase, and for the honour of Him who gave it.
THEOLOGICAL THOUGHT. HOW DO ERRORS IN THE BIBLE AFFECT ITS DIVINE
AUTHORITY AND INSPIRATION.
By Rev. J. J. LIAS, M.A. BEFORE entering upon the subject of this article I desire to make a trifling addition to the last. I ought to have stated that the idea that numbers were anciently denoted by letters among the Hebrews, as they are at present, is rejected by many scholars. This, however, though it affects the explanation, does not affect the argument. However explained, the errors are there, and they are sufficient to disprove the absolute infallibility and inerrancy still claimed by some persons for the Scriptures.
My present object is to discuss the question how far the Divine authority and inspiration of the Bible are affected by the admission that it is possible for errors to be found in it. It is obvious that this must very much depend upon the limits within which this admission of error is supposed to be confined. That there are such limits, that such admissions may be carried so far as to destroy the general credit of the book, and therefore its claim to inspiration in any sense, can hardly be denied. And one of the dangers which appear to me to beset modern Old Testament criticism is that the critics, often no doubt without observing or intending it, do draw very perilously near to that result. On the other hand, men are endeavouring to maintain a position of stubborn conservatism in reference to this subject from the fear that to grant the possibility of error on any single point will be found ultimately fatal to any doctrine of inspiration whatsoever. The object of this paper is to discover, as far as may be, where the limits within which error is possible may be drawn consistently with the belief in the Divine authority of the Scriptures. In order to do this, we must first of all endeavour to ascertain what is the object for which the Scriptures are given. We shall then more clearly understand how far it is permissible to recognize a hurnan element in them, how far error within their pages is likely to extend, and what is the nature of the residuum of infallible Divine truth which, on any view of inspiration whatever, they must be admitted to enshrine,