Chapter I



§ 1. Justification of the Beginning in Genesis iii.

TP the historical succession, in which we propose to treat the Messianic prophecies, were to be understood as a succession in literary history, we should only be justified in beginning with Gen. iii., if we considered the so-called Jehovistic book, from which the history of Paradise is drawn, the oldest Old Testament historical book. But this is not our opinion. We consider it a very old historical source, older than modern criticism concedes, but not the oldest. Nevertheless we are justified in beginning with Gen. iii. For the narrative concerning the primitive condition and fall of man was not invented by the narrator, but was an old "sage" found by him, which he communicates to us in a form in which, stripped of its heathen mythological accessories, it has sustained the criticism of the Spirit of revelation. We may therefore begin where the documentary sacred history begins, since it contributes not a little to its recommendation, that although recorded by an Israelitish pen, it begins, not

with a nation, but with mankind. The Biblical primitive history is the history of mankind, and does not have the peculiar national and mythological colours of the primitive traditions outside of Israel. But does not the narrative in Gen. ii., iii. sound mythical? If we understand by myth {mythus) the investiture, not only of universal thoughts, but also of definite realities in symbolical dress, we may nevertheless regard the history of Paradise as a myth, so far only as we hold fast the following as realities:—(1) that there was a demoniacal evil one, before evil had taken possession of man; (2) that this demoniacal evil one was the power of temptation before which man fell; (3) that God after mankind had fallen punished them, but at the same time opened a way of salvation, by which they could again secure communion with God; (4) that He placed before them in prospect the victory over that power of temptation through which they had lost the communion with God in Paradise.

Remark. — Also in the Babylonian "sage" the serpent is Tiamat (Tihdmat), the source of all evil, the personified Dinn. This expresses a profound thought, since the essence of evil is the falling back into the natural elements, out of which the world in mankind is raised to the image of God. The serpent is called dibit (the enemy, ajfo), tear 'etj.; it is called sSru = mahhu (rabbu), like o Bpdicwv 6 fjueyat in the New Testament Apocalypse. It seduces mankind to sin, since it seeks to sustain itself in its authority. It is also said of it, that it destroyed the grove of life.1 Much here is uncertain. In comparison, the Iranian "sage" is far clearer, according to which the serpent is the first creation of Ahriman, who himself is both represented and called a serpent. The serpent disturbs the peace, destroys paradise, and casts down Yima, the ruler of the golden age, that is, the first man. We have here reminiscences, which are worthy of attention, respecting the origin of evil, although in a mythical garb.

§ 2. Beginning and Object of the Theophanies.

Between us and God there is now a wall of separation. God has become far from us, and is concealed, as it were, behind an impenetrable veil. The "sagen" of the [different] peoples testify in many ways, that at the beginning of human history God was immediately near to man, and had intercourse with him, and that our present distance from God is a loss. It follows from our present nature that we cannot make any representation to ourselves of that original intercourse of God with men. Even in Gen. ii., iii. we are not raised above this inability of representing it. The narrative retains a mysterious background, but it has a transparent deep meaning. After the fall, which destroyed the union of God and man, man perceives the steps of God, who is drawing near, and flees from Him. He comes indeed as a Judge who is to be feared,

1 See Friedrich Delitzsch, Parodies, p. 87 ff.; and Assyrische Lesestiicke, p. 95 ff.: Texte zur Weltschopfung mid zur Auflehnung und Bekiirwpfung der Schlange Tiamat.

not, however, to destroy for the sake of punishing, but through bitter chastisement to win back the lost. And in a significant manner the one who appears is called Yahweh-Elohim. God, as Creator of the entire creation and as its Finisher (Vollendcr), that is, as the Power which finally fills it completely with glory (1 Cor. xv. 28), is called 0'?%; and God as Redeemer, that is, as Mediator of this completion {Vollendung) through sin and wrath, is throughout called fWP.1 His audible steps after the fall are His first steps toward the goal of the revelation in the flesh (1 Tim. iii. 16), which is the restoration and completion of the immanence of divine love in the world.

§ 3. The Primitive Promise.

Thus presenting Himself, God announces their sentence to the serpent, to the woman, and to Adam— to these three together, as concerned in their solidarity.

The serpent, and in it the spiritual being, whose mask it became, or if we understand the account mythically, whose image it is, are cursed on account of the temptation which proceeded from them, which plunged mankind into sin and death. The earth is

1 [This is a liberty which we are compelled to take. Most of the Hebrew words in the German text are unpointed. Prof. Delitzsch, however, never pronounced nirp, Jehovah, which he considered a philological monstrosity. But, as in the transliteration which he has given of the name, he could only recommend his students to say Yahweh, or to follow the example of the Jews in reading Adhonai.]—C.

cursed on Adam's account, while the natural world, after its destiny as a means of blessing to mankind has been thwarted, is turned into an instrument of wrath against them. Adam himself, however, is not cursed, but in the midst of the curse on the tempter the hope of a victory in the contest with the power of evil rises upon mankind. The verdict pronounced upon the serpent, after it has been humbled to a worm in the dust, is (iii. 15): "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed." The woman, as the one first seduced, and the serpent, who served the seducer as an instrument, are here representatives of their entire race. The divine retribution places, that is, establishes, between the race of serpents and of men a relation of internal and actual enmity. And who will conquer in this war, which is enacted as a law of the further history ?" He shall crush thee on the head, and thou shalt crush him on the heel." In no Semitic idiom does S|iB> have the signification of *1XB!, to snap, or look eagerly for something; and never is or indeed any verb indicating a hostile disposition, construed with a double accusative. This construction with the accusative of the person, and the part which is affected, is peculiar to verbs which indicate a violent meeting, e.g. n3n, to smite; rrcn, to murder. Hence t\v&, which is repeated, neither has the first nor the second time the meaning of lying in wait (Septuagint, rrjpelv; Jerome, insidiari). The verb tpe> is used by the Targum for N31!, to crush; pB, to grind to powder; priB* to pulverize. It has the meaning which is there presupposed also in Job ix. 17 (on the contrary, neither the meaning inhiare nor conterere is suited to Ps. cxxxix. 11), and the signification of the root (fp), terere, to grind, is confirmed through an extensive tribe of Semitic words, according to which among the old [versions] the translation is given by the Samaritan and Syriac. Only when we translate it: "He (the Seed of the woman) shall crush thee on the head" (awrplyfrei, Eom. xvi. 20), does the sentence include the definite promise of victory over the serpent, which, because it suffers the deadly tread, seeks to defend itself, and sinking under the treader is mortally wounded (Gen. xlix. 17).

§ 4. The Primitive Promise in the Light of Fulfilment.

It is the entire decree of redemption which is epitomized in this original word of promise, so far as we only maintain that the serpent as a seducer is intended, and that the curse, which falls upon it, has a background with reference to the author of the seduction. The malignant bite of the serpent in the heel of men, which they retaliate in the midst of their defeat by treading on its head, is only a natural picture of that which ever constitutes the most central purport of history—namely, the conflict of mankind with Satan, and with all who are e/c Tov 8ia66\ov (Trovrjpov); for, after the power of grace has entered mankind by means of the promise, they are placed, through the fall, in the attitude of a second decision for themselves, which will result in such a way, that many of the seed of the woman who had the promise, separate themselves, and take a position on the side of the serpent. The promise indeed has reference to mankind as a race, for the word Nin refers to nete jnr. Nevertheless, since the promise of victory refers to that serpent from whom the seduction went forth, hence to the victory over the one seducer (o 6'(/>t? 6 ap^alo?), we may consequently infer that the seed of the woman will culminate in One in whom the opposition will be strained to the utmost; and the suffering in the struggle with the seducer will rise to the highest pitch, and the victory will end for ever in complete conquest. This primitive promise is also intended to be coextensive with the fulfilment; for Christ, the son of Mary, is the seed of the woman, yevofievos eV jvvaiico<; (Gal. iv. 4), in a wonderfully unique way. Hence the new humanity, which has its head in Him, and which, through Him, stands in the relation of children to God, is indeed born of a woman, but in so far as it overcomes Satan is not t begotten by man. This authority is not a work of nature, but a spiritual gift (John i. 12 f.). The entire history and order of salvation are unfolded in this protevangelium. Like a sphinx, it crouches at the entrance of sacred history. Later in the period of Israelitish Prophecy and Chokma, the solution of this riddle of the sphinx begins to dawn; and it is only solved by Him through whom and in whom that has been revealed towards which this primitive prophecy was aimed.

Remark 1.—But how is it consistent with the divine order of salvation that the meaning of the protevangelium, and in general of the history of the fall, should be first recognised so late, and should be first fully and completely disclosed through the New Testament revelation? It can only be explained on the supposition that the faith which brought salvation in the Old Testament was a faith in God the Eedeemer. The deeper the Israelite felt the curse and the burden of sin, and was attacked on every side by sufferings and miseries, and was anxious on account of the darkness of death and of the next world, the more ardently he longed for redemption from sin and death, and especially from this evil world; and the faith in which he found rest was faith in God the Eedeemer according to His promise. He longed for the visible revelation of the supramundane God—His coming down from heaven to earth; but that He would complete the work of redemption, through a man in whom He dwelt as the angel of the Mosaic redemption; that was an apprehension which was developed only gradually, and first became fully clear to faith in the face of Jesus Christ.1

Remark 2.—The Alexandrian Book of Wisdom ii. 24 says that through the envy of the devil death came into the world. Also in the Palestinian Jewish literature such gleams of light are found—Christian perceptions before Christ—which Judaism first gave up in opposition to Christianity; for (1) as the designation

1 One of the most precious utterances of Bengel's is the following thesis: "Gradatim Deus in patefaciendis regni sui mysteriis progreditur sive res ipsae spectentur sive tempora. Opertum tenetur initio quod deinde apertum cernitur. Quod quavis setate datur, id sancte debuit amplecti, non plus surnere, non minus accipere."

of the first man with fiDlpn D1K (o 7t/>wto9 avdpwiro<i 'ABdfi, 1 Cor. xv. 45) is old Jewish, so also is the designation of the serpent which led man astray with ptnpn e>'ru (O o<£t? 6 ap^aio?, Eev. xii. 9, xx. 2); (2) the Palestinian Targum testifies that in Gen. iii. 15 there is promised a healing of the bite in the heel from the serpent, which is to take place "at the end of the days, in the days of King Messiah." In the Palestinian Midrash to Genesis1 we read: "The things which God created perfect since man sinned have become corrupt (vpbprU), and do not return to their proper condition until the son of Perez (i.e. according to Gen. xxxviii. 29, Euth iv. 18 ff., the Messiah out of the tribe of Judah) comes." According to this the Messiah is Saviour and Eestorer, as the apostolic word says of Jesus (1 John iii. 8), that He has appeared, Xva \varj ra epya Tov Sia/36\ov.

§ 5. First Effects and Verifications of the Primitive Promise.

A first echo of the divine word, received in faith concerning the victory of mankind, is the name njn (Septuagint, which Adam gives his wife; for— as the narrator explains (iii. 20&) the meaning and propriety of this name—she became "the mother of all living;" that is, in spite of death, the mother of each individual of the race, which is destined to live, to whom the victory over the power of the evil one is promised, and hence as mother of the Seed of the woman who is to crush the head of the serpent. 1 Bereshith rabba xii.

We consider as a second echo the language of Eve when she became mother for the first time. Although this cannot possibly be understood as an expression of the belief that her first-born was the incarnate Yahweh, —for the terms of the primitive promise do not give any occasion for such an expression,—but must rather indicate that, with Yahweh as helper and giver, she has brought forth a man-child, which she has received as her own, nevertheless her exclamation stands related to iii. 15, since she designated God with the name of Yahweh, and in any case as the God of the promised salvation, for this Hebrew name of God belongs to the later period of the origin of the peoples. Through the marvel of this first birth she is placed in a joyful amazement, which is powerfully increased, because that thus the promise of the victory of the Seed of the woman appeared to be realized. But her first-born was the murderer of his brother; Cain was e/c Tov l ttovqpov (1 John iii. 12), he took his position on the side of the seed of the serpent. The religious congregation which was formed at the time of Enosh, the son of Seth, could already name one of their members as a martyr. When it is said, iv. 26, that at that time men began to call on and to call out the name of Yahweh,—that is, to pray together to God as Yahweh, and publicly to recognise Him as such,—this, too, stands in connection with iii. 15, for this historical notice is designed to indicate that men at that time joined a congregation which worshipped the God of the promised salvation. But if mankind is ever to be free from the bondage of sin, as is promised in iii. 15, they must likewise be free from the curse of death. The end of Enoch's life, the seventh from Adam in the line of Seth, shows that man, if he had proved true in the probation of free will, could have gone over into another stadium of existence without death and corruption. Death is, indeed, since the fall a law of nature; but God, who has enacted this law of nature, can also make it inoperative when He will through the exertion of His almighty power. The translation of Enoch, as well as of Elijah, is a prophecy in act of the future end of death (Isa. xxv. 8; 1 Cor. xv. 54). The primitive promise includes this end of death in itself, for the crushing of the serpent is the disarming of him "who has the power of death" (Heb. ii. 14).

Remark 1.—The impression that in njrP'riK, iv. lb, indicates the definite object, as vi. 10, xxvi. 34, is so strong that the Jerusalem Targum translates: "I have gotten a man, the Angel of Yahweh." But this interpretation cannot be maintained, for the reason that the Angel of Yahweh first enters into history and consciousness after the time of the patriarchs.

Remark 2.—Enoch announced, according to Jude, ver. 14, the parousia of the Lord in judgment. It is indeed in itself probable that Enoch, since he walked with God,—a commendation which only Noah shares with him, vi. 9,—also knew about the ways of God; but his prophecy, which Jude quotes, belongs to the "sage" (Haggada), and serves the author of the Epistle a didactic purpose. That it refers to the coming of the Lord in judgment, although the history of mankind had not begun so very long ago, is strange in itself. Not long after the beginning of the Church, the parousia of Christ as judge was longed and hoped for. The corruption through sin was so great at all times, that the believers longed that God, through a judicial interference, might help the Seed of the woman to a victory over the seed of the serpent.

§ 6. The Expected Comforter.

While in Lamech, the seventh from Adam within the Cainitic line, the worldly tendency of this line rises to blasphemous arrogance, there appears in Enosh, Enoch, and Lamech, the third, seventh, and ninth of the Sethitic line, an indigenous tendency toward the God of the promised salvation. Lamech, the Sethite, when his first son was born, hoped that in him, the tenth from Adam, the period of* the curse would come to a comforting conclusion. This is evident from his elevated words when he says (v. 29): "This one shall comfort us for our work and for the toil of our hands [according to the signification of the Hebrew word: comforting,' to make one free from painful work], because of the ground [i.e. that which the ground renders necessary] which Yahweh hath cursed." In this hope he calls him Noah, i.e. breathing out, rest (connected with Dro, to comfort, by causing to breathe out). The comfort which he expects from God through him is not comfort in words, but the comfort of an act of salvation. This comfort was also fulfilled through him, although not fully and in entirety, but in a way preparatory to the completion. The rainbow after the flood was a comfort, the blessing of which extended from that time on until the end. It pledged mankind, after the wrathful visitation in judgment, of their continuance, and of the dawn of a better time, in which, instead of wrath, a blessing predominates, a time of favour, patience, and long-suffering of God (Acts xvil 30, xiv. 17; Eom. iii. 26). Noah is the first mediator of the sacred history, a mediator of comfort. Comfort (nechama) is one of the pregnant words in which all that is hoped from the God of salvation is combined. Yahweh, as Eedeeiner of His people, is called their Comforter, Isa. xlix. 13, lii. 9. And the Servant of Yahweh, the Mediator of salvation, explains it as His calling to comfort all that mourn, Isa. lxi. 2. Noah is a forerunner of this great Comforter, in whom all who labour and are heavy laden find rest to their souls.

Remark.— Comforter, onio, is an old synagogical designation for the Messiah; compare Schoettgen, Be Messia, Dresdae 1742, p. 18. Jesus Himself is called TrapaicjrO'i, Comforter, for His promise, "He shall send you aXXov irapaickrjrov" (John xiv. 16), presupposes that Christ Himself is irapdicjro<i (t37jr}B=DriJD).

§ 7. Tlie Promise of the Blessing of the Nations in the Seed of the Patriarchs.

In Gen. ix. 24-27 we read how Noah in spirit penetrated the moral and fundamental character, and consequently the future, of the three groups of peoples springing from Canaan, Shem, and Japheth; and how he awards to Canaan the curse of servitude, to Japheth far-reaching political power, and to Shem a central religious significance which also draws Japheth to him. The God of salvation is the God of Shem; Shem is therefore for himself and the nations a bearer of the revelation of this God. According to this it is a Shemite whom God, after Noah, entrusts with the second epoch-making mediatorship. Abraham is chosen out of the midst of the nations to become a mediator of the revelation of salvation, and the promise of the salvation of the entire race is connected with him and his seed as centre, and startingpoint: "And all the kindreds of the earth shall bless themselves in thee and in thy seed." This promise is made three times to Abraham (xii. 3, xviii. 18, xxii. 18), and once each to Isaac and Jacob (xxvi. 4, xxviii. 14). It is given three times with ^"DJl (xii. 3, xviii. 18, xxviii. 14), and twice with w^3nfn (xxii. 18, xxvi. 4). It is questionable whether it should be translated as a passive: "they shall be blessed," or as a reflexive: "they shall bless themselves." The JViphal occurs only in this promise, but the

JTithpael, wherever it occurs, e.g. Jer. iv. 2, has a reflexive signification. Nevertheless, the Septuagint (Acts iii. 25; Gal. iii. 8) translates all of the five passages with a passive ivev\oyrj0ij<rovrai. Since a longing desire for salvation, according to God's plan of salvation, is always accompanied with actual attainment, the sense remains essentially the same, whether we translate passively or reflexively. The promise makes Abraham and his seed possessors of a divine blessing, which is to become the end of the desire of all nations, and at the same time also their possession.1 Israel is the seed of Abraham (Isa. xli. 9), as the people who mediate salvation (Isa. xix. 24 ; Zech. viii. 13); but this mediation of salvation comes to its final completion in Christ, the one descendant of Abraham, in whom the seed of Abraham, according to his calling as mediator of a blessing, finds its consummation.

Remark.—The inference of Paul from the singular liT?-'? (Gal. iii. 16) has indeed a rabbinical character;1 but the thought is perfectly correct, that the singular lO?' includes that which a plural would precisely exclude, namely, that the seed of Abraham, which is the means of a blessing, is a unity which will finally be concentrated in One; for 5HJ can be just as well used of one (Gen. iv. 25) as of many. The poet of Ps. lxxii. begins in ver. 16 with the same idea: The promise of the blessing upon the peoples will be

1 The Targum translates: "They shall be blessed through thee, through thy children, on account of thy merit, and of theirs " (ni3t)- The Jewish doctrine of the merit of works casts its shadow into the understanding of the Scripture.

2 In like manner the Mishna, Sanhedrin iv. 5, where it is remarked on ipri, Gen. iv. 10, "he does not say Tj'nN Dl, but

'Dl: that is, his blood and the blood of his posterity," I'niJTit (plural of jnt); cf. Abraham Geiger's article, "ni'jnt, RTPjnt, tJ7ripp.*ra," in the Zeitschrift der morgetUUnd. Gesellschaft, Leipzig 1858, pp. 307-309.

fulfilled in King Messiah, whose name continues and buds forever. In this One the mediatorship of the blessing of the people of Abraham attains its consummation, nevertheless without its then having an end, since the blessing which is effected by One, and which going out from Him has extended over the nations of the earth, has not been secured without the co-operation of Israel, through the apostle from Israel. But since the One appeared, the mediatorship of salvation through Israel is conditioned in this way: that, first, it must be blessed by Him whose blessing, first of all, pertains to those who are children of the prophets and of the covenant (Acts iii. 25 f.).