Howbeit, we know this man whence he is
They signify, that if the rulers had altered their minds, and had gone into the belief of Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah, they should not follow them in it, for this reason; because they knew from whence he came; meaning not so much the place of his birth, which they supposed was Galilee, and Nazareth in Galilee, in which they were mistaken, as the manner of his birth, which they could account for: they pretended to know his extract, that he was the son of Joseph and Mary, that he was begotten in wedlock, and was born as other persons are; there was no difficulty with them in accounting for his coming into the world, no more than any other ordinary person; his descent from Joseph and Mary was well known to them, and to be accounted for in a rational way, and therefore concluded he could not be the Messiah:
but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is;
they knew the place from whence he was to come; so the chief priests and Scribes did, ( Matthew 2:4 Matthew 2:5 ) ; and so did these Jews, ( John 7:42 ) . They knew he would come from Bethlehem, and they knew that he would come out of the seed of David; but then he was to be born of a virgin, according to ( Isaiah 7:14 ) , and such a coming into the world was not to be known, reasoned upon, and accounted for: wherefore since Jesus, according to the notion of these men, came into the world in the common and ordinary way, they thought they had an invincible argument against his being the Messiah; and therefore, let their rulers do what they would, for their parts, they were determined to reject him: and because it could not be known from whence the Messiah should come; hence the ancient Jews used to call him the seed which comes from another place; not from the place from whence seed ordinarily comes, from the loins of men, but from some other place they knew not where: their words are very remarkable on that passage in ( Genesis 4:25 ) : "and she called his name Seth, for God hath appointed me another seed" This observation is made by R. Tanchuma, in the name of R. Samuel F4; says he,
``she has respect to that seed, which is he that comes, (rha) (Mwqmm) , "from another place", and what is this? this is the King Messiah.''And elsewhere F5, the same Rabbi observes on those words in ( Genesis 19:32 ) : "that we may preserve seed of our father": it is not written, "that we may preserve a son of our father", but "that we may preserve seed of our father"; that seed which is he that comes from "another place"; and what is this? this is the King Messiah. The modern Jews F6 endeavour to explain away the sense of this phrase, "another seed", as if it regarded strange seed; and that the sense of the expression is only, that the Messiah should spring from the family of Moab, and from Ruth the Moabitess: nor is their sense what Aquinas F7 at tributes to the Jewish Rabbins,
``that the more noble part of that mass, of which Adam was made, remained untouched (by sin), and was afterwards transfused into Seth; and so through all descending from him, unto Joakim, or Eliakim, or Heli, the father of the virgin, out of which the body of the blessed Virgin was made:''which is no other than a Popish device, fathered upon the Jews, and made for the sake of the, Virgin Mary, rather than for the sake of Christ. But their meaning is, that Christ should not be gotten of man, or come into the world in the ordinary way of generation, but should be born of a virgin; and so it could not be known, and accounted for from whence he was, or from whence that seed was of which he was made. The angel gives the best account of this in ( Luke 1:35 ) : a body was prepared for Christ by the Lord; it was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost; his birth of a virgin was miraculous; it is beyond the comprehension of men, and cannot explained by any mortal; from whence he is it cannot be said; no man can be pointed to as his father; all that can be said is, he was made of a woman, a virgin.
F4 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 23. fol. 20. 4. Midrash Ruth, fol. 36. 1.
F5 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 51. fol. 46. 1. Midrash Ruth, fol. 35. 4.
F6 Mattanot Cehunah & Jade Moseh in ib.
F7 In 3 sent distinct. 3. art. 2.