The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings
by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
The central or chief doctrine of these Rabbis was that a certain great Deliverer, the Anointed of God, the Christ, the Messiah, was to come to restore the Kingdom of Israel. He was foretold by all their prophets. He was their hope in all their calamities, and age by age this idea developed into wilder fanaticism. Daniel had given the very years of His coming, and the time was up. This is why crowds of them went to hear John the Baptist, why some believed in Christ. But why did not the Rabbis or Pharisees, the Scribes and Sadducees receive Him ?
The prophets paint the Messiah as a heavenly Being, and the Rabbis exhausted words in describing His greatness, His wonders, and the kingdom He will establish. The Sacred Books, especially the Book of Enoch, much read by Jews of that time, speak of Him as the " Expected One," the " Messenger," the " Elect of God," the " Judge of the world," the " Son of man," the heavenly "Manhood," the " Son of God," the "Word of God," the " Wisdom," the "Incarnation of the Godhead." (See Book of Enoch.)
He was to be the Immortal, the Eternal King, who would found a kingdom of matchless glory, extending over all the earth. The Jews were to be his people; He was to be born of a Virgin—Alma, daughter of the royal family of David at Bethlehem; He was to appear first in Galilee ; gather the whole nation around him; free them from the hated Roman, and extend His dominions over all the nations. The Jews were to rule the Gentiles under Him, to dominate all peoples, to extend their conquests to the ends of earth. No one but a Jew had any hope in this system. They were to be the ruling nation, all other men were to be enslaved.
" How beautiful," says the Targum, "is the King Messiah, who springs from the house of Judah. He girds His loins, and descends and orders the battle against His enemies, and slays their kings and their chief captains; there is no one so mighty as to stand before Him. He makes the mountains red with the blood of His slaughtered foes. His robes are dyed in their blood, like the skins of the purple grapes." "The beasts of the field will feed for twelve months on the flesh of the slain, and the birds of the air will feed on them for seven years." (Sohar Levit. 169,) " The Lord will revenge us on the bands of Gog. At that hour will the power of all nations be broken, they will be like a ship whose tackling is torn away, and whose mast is sprung, so that the sail can be no longer set on it. Then will Israel divide the treasures of the nations among them—a great store of booty and riches, so that if there be the lame, and the blind, they will have their share."
That was the earthly paradise, the Jews, taught by their Pharisee Rabbis, looked for. But their exaggerations were remarkable. Corn will grow on the tops of mountains as high as palm-trees; the wind from God's chambers will reap it for the Jew. White flour will fall from the ears, grains of wheat will be as large as kidneys; trees will bear all the time; a single grape will load a ship, and the Jew will draw wine from it as from a cask.
A great king must have a capital in proportion to his wealth and power, and God will bring together Sinai, Tabor, and Carmel, and set Jerusalem on them. The city will reach to the gates of Damascus; houses will be built in it three miles high ; its gates will be of pearls and precious stones; the country round will be filled with gold and jewels; a fruitful stream will flow from the Temple and water all the land, its banks will be shaded with ever-bearing fruit trees; the dumb will speak, the blind see, the dead arise ; there will be no sickness, no poverty, no work, no misery. All the Jews will be prophets, they will form the holy nation—the people of God, with every other nation subject to them. Such will be the paradise of the coming Messiah, with His Jewish people satiated with every worldly wealth and blessings. Pharisee, Scribe, priest, and people were intoxicated with the vision of that world-conquering Personage, foretold, as they supposed, by the great prophets and seers of all their history. No wonder Christ denounced them. We are not surprised that they did not see their Messiah in the lowly Jesus of Nazareth.
While under the direction of the prophets, who were directed by the Shekina, "the Divine Presence," the Hebrews were religious, holy, and they had the right idea of religion. But when Solomon built temples to the false gods of his wives, when the priest and people broke the covenant with God and Israel, they were punished by the Babylonian Captivity. The prophets spoke no more, the people fell under the religious influence of the Scribes and Pharisees, the Rabbis lost the spirit of the Old Testament, and developed a worldly, selfish kind of religion, which we find in the writings of that time, which ended in the death of Christ and the destruction of the Jews as a nation.
The Essenes formed a most peculiar religious sect. The word is derived from different sources and means " The Retiring," "The Holy," "The Servants of God," "To Bathe," etc. They combined the ascetic virtues of the pagan Pythagoreans and Stoics with the Law of Moses. In their rules they resembled the Bramin and Buddhist monks of India, who follow the Laws of Maim, who, ac cording to Bramin teaching, saved the world from the flood. These monastic orders of India are traced back for more than 500 years before Christ.
Some of the strictest Pharisees, wishing to obtain absolute legal purity, which was continually destroyed by daily contact with the unclean people of the world and by mixing with the hated foreigners who did not know or practice the Law, after the Greek conquest of Palestine re tired into the desert in the days of the Machabees, and there lived separated from all men.
They established houses in various parts of the wilderness, and there they lived under their rules of common property, obedience to their superiors, and they never married. Their communities were confined to Palestine, for outside the " Holy Land," Levitical purity could not be found, for all other lands to them were profane, unclean, and defiled by the hated Gentiles.