Hear now, O Joshua the high priest
What he was about to say further concerning the bringing forth of the Messiah, the antitype of him, and of all the priests: thou and thy fellows, that sit before thee;
the Jews interpret F23 these of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, for whom wonders were wrought in delivering them from the fiery furnace; but rather they design the priests and the prophets, and chief men, that came up with Joshua out of the captivity; and especially the young priests that sat before him as his disciples, to be instructed by him in things belonging to the priestly office: for they [are] men wondered at;
or, "men of a sign" F24, or "wonder"; typical of Christ, the great High Priest; they were "men wondered at", as all the people of God are: they are wondered at by themselves, that God should have any love to them, any thoughts concerning them; make a covenant with them in his Son; send him to die for them; call them by his grace; make them sons and heirs of his, and at last bring them to glory: and they are wondered at by the men of the world; that they should make such a choice as they have; that they should bear afflictions with so much cheerfulness and patience; that they should be so supported under them, and even thrive and flourish amidst them. The life of a believer is all a mystery, and wonderful: and they are wondered at by the angels, as they are the chosen of God, the redeemed of the Lamb, and called from among men; and they shall be the spectators of wonderful things themselves, which they will be swallowed up in the admiration of to all eternity. The Targum paraphrases the words thus,
``for they are men worthy to have miracles wrought for them;''and indeed, though they are not worthy, yet miracles of grace are wrought for them, and one follows: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH;
not Zerubbabel, as some interpret it; but the Messiah, as the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it; and which is the sense of some other Jewish writers. Kimchi, though he interprets the Branch of Zerubbabel, yet observes there are some of their interpreters who explain it of the Messiah; and it is as if it was said, though I bring you this salvation, yet I will bring you a greater salvation than this, at the time I shall bring forth my servant the Branch: and again they interpret it of him, because the name of the Messiah is Menachem, i.e. the Comforter; and which is numerically the same with "Tzemach", the Branch; and Aben Ezra, who first explains it the same way as Kimchi, yet adds, but many interpreters say this Branch is the Messiah: and he is called Zerubbabel, because he is of his seed, even as he is called David; and David my servant shall be their Prince for ever, ( Ezekiel 37:25 ) likewise another Jewish writer, R. Abraham Seba F25, understands it of the Messiah. The heathens used to call their heroes the branches of the gods; the branch of Jupiter, and the branch of Mars are frequently met with in the poets F26, and perhaps taken from this name of the Messiah; who is the servant of God as Mediator, and became so by being made of a woman, and made under the law; and is a servant of God's choosing, sending, and rewarding; the chief of whose service lay in the redemption of his people; and who was an obedient, diligent, prudent, and faithful servant. The name of "the Branch" is given him elsewhere, ( Isaiah 4:2 ) ( Jeremiah 23:5 ) and designs his descent as man, and the meanness of it; and yet his fruitfulness in himself, and to his people: the "bringing" him "forth" intends his incarnation; and shows that he existed before, and was with God, and is brought forth by him as an instance of his grace and love to men; and because this was a matter of great moment, and very wonderful, and would certainly be done, and deserved attention, the word "behold" is prefixed to it. The Septuagint render this word by (anatolh) , "the rising sun", or that part of the heavens where the sun rises, the east; and the Vulgate Latin version has "orientem", "the east": hence another Zechariah calls the Messiah "the Day spring from on high", ( Luke 1:78 ) and one of his titles is "the Sun of righteousness", ( Malachi 4:2 ) . The eastern part of the heavens was attributed by the heathens to their gods, and reckoned their seat and abode F1; and from hence the Messiah came, that man from heaven; he was born in the eastern part of the world. Some render the words, in ( Micah 5:2 ) , "his goings forth are out of the east" F2; and it was from the mount of Olives, which was to the east of Jerusalem, that he went up to heaven; and from the same point of the heavens will he come again, since his feet will stand on that mountain, ( Acts 1:11 Acts 1:12 ) ( Zechariah 14:4 ) he is the Angel said to ascend from the east, ( Revelation 7:2 ) and perhaps it is owing to this version of the word here, and elsewhere, when used of the Messiah, that he came to be known among the Gentiles by this name; to which it is thought Tacitus F3 has respect, when he says,
``many were persuaded that in the ancient books of the priests were contained a "prophecy", that at that time "Oriens", or the east, should prevail;''that is, such an one should exist, or rule in the world, whose name is "Oriens", or the rising sun.
F23 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 93. 1. & Jarchi in loc.
F24 (tpwm yvna) "viri portenti", Montanus, Calvin, Drusius, Cocceius; "viri prodigiorum", Vatablus; "viri prodigii", Burkius.
F25 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 114. 2. 3.
F26 Vid. Huet. Demonstr. Evangel. prop. 9. c. 59. p. 520.
F1 Porphyry & Varro in Festus, apud Gregory's Notes and Observations, c. 18. p. 72.
F2 Gregory, ib. p. 82.
F3 Hist. l. 5. c. 13.