The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA AND RABBINIC THEOLOGY
(Ad. vol. i. p. 42, note 4.) In comparing the allegorical
Canons of Philo with those of Jewish traditionalism, we think first of all of
the seven exegetical canons which are ascribed to Hillel. These bear
chiefly the character of logical deductions, and as such were largely applied
in the Halakhah. These seven canons were next expanded by R. Ishmael (in
the first century) into thirteen, by the analysis of one of them (the 5th) into
six, and the addition of this sound exegetical rule, that where two verses seem
to be contradictory, their conciliation must be sought in a third passage. The
real rules for the Haggadah - if such there were - were the thirty-two canons
of R. José the Galilean (in the second century). It is here that we meet so
much that is kindred in form to the allegorical canons of Philo.1
Only they are not rationalising, and far more brilliant in their application.
Most taking results - at least to a certain class of minds - might be reached
by finding in each consonant of a word the initial letter of another (Notariqon).
Thus, the word MiSBeaCH (altar) was resolved into these four words, beginning
respectively with M, S, B, CH: Forgiveness, Merit, Blessing, Life. Then there
was Gematria, by which every letter in a word was resolved into its
arithmetical equivalent. Thus, the two words Gog and Magog = 70, which was the
supposed number of all the heathen nations. Again, in Athbash the
letters of the Hebrew alphabet were transposed (the first for the last of the
alphabet, and so on), so that SHeSHaKH(Jer. xxv. 26; li. 41) became BaBeL,
while in Albam, the twenty-two Hebrew letters were divided into two
rows, which might be exchanged (L for A, M for B, &c.).
reader who will take our outline of Philo's views to pieces, and compare it
with the 'XXV. Theses de modis et formulis quibus pr. Hebr. doctores SS.
interpertari ect. soliti fuerunt' (in Surenhusius' BiloV KatallaghV pp. 57 to 88), will
convince himself of the truth of this.
In other respects also the Palestinian had the advantage of the
Alexandrian mode of interpretation. There was at least ingenuity, if not always
truth, in explaining a word by resolving it into two others,2
or in discussing the import of exclusive particles (such as 'only,' 'but,'
'from,'), and inclusives (such as 'also,' 'with,' 'all,') or in discovering
shades of meaning from the derivation of a word, as in the eight synonyms for
'poor' - of which one (Ani), indicated simply 'the poor;' another (Ebhyon,
from abhah), one who felt both need and desire; a third (misken),
one humiliated; a fourth (rash from rush), one who had been
emptied of his property; a fifth (dal), one who property had become
exhausted; a sixth (dakh), one who felt broken down; a seventh (makh),
one who had come down; and the eighth (chelekh), one who was wretched -
or in discussing such differences as between amar, to speak gently, and dabhar,
to speak strongly - and many others.3
Here intimate knowledge of the language and tradition might be of real use. At
other times striking thoughts were suggested, as when it was pointed out that
all mankind was made to spring from one man, in order to show the power of God,
since all coins struck from the same machine were precisely the same, while in
man, whatever the resemblance, there was still a difference in each.
for example, Malqosh, the latter rain =Mal-Qash, fill the stubble.
generally, Hamburger, vol. ii. pp. 181-212, and the 'History of the
Jewish Nation,' pp. 567-580, where the Rabbinic Exegesis is fully explained.
2. (Ad vol. i. p. 45, and note 3.) The distinction between the
unapproachable God and God as manifest and manifesting Himself, which lies at
the foundation of so much in the theology of Philo in regard to the
'intermediary beings' - 'Potencies' - and the Logos, occurs equally in Rabbinic
there it is probably derived from a different source. Indeed, we regard this as
explaining the marked and striking avoidance of all anthropomorphisms in the
Targumim. It also accounts for the designation of God by two classes of terms,
of which in our view, the first expresses the idea of God as revealed, the
other that of God as revealing Himself; or, to put it otherwise, which
indicate, the one a state, the other an act on the part of God. The first of
these classes of designations embraces two terms: yeqara, the excellent glory,
and Shekhinah, or Shekhintha, the abiding Presence.5
On the other hand, God, as in the act of revealing himself, is described by the
term Memra, the 'Logos,' 'the word.' A distinction of ideas also obtains
between the terms Yeqara and Shekhinah. The former indicates, as
we think, the inward and upward, the latter the outward and downward, aspect of
the revealed God. This distinction will appear by comparing the use of the two
words in the Targumim, and even by the consideration of passages in which the
two are placed side by side (as for ex., in the Targum Onkelos on Ex. xvii. 16;
Numb. xiv. 14; in Pseudo-Jonathan, Gen. xvi. 13, 14; in the Jerusalem Targum,
Ex. xix. 18; and in the Targum Jonathan, Is. vi. 1, 3; Hagg. i. 8). Thus, also,
the allusion in 2 Pet. i. 17, to 'the voice from the excellent glory' (thV megaloprepouV doxhV) must have
been the Yeqara.6
The varied use of the terms Shekhinah and Yeqara, and then Memra,
in the Targum of Is. vi., is very remarkable. In ver. 1 it is the Yeqara,
and its train - the heavenward glory - which fills the Heavenly Temple. In ver.
3 we hear the Trishagion in connection with the dwelling of His Shekhintha,
while the splendour (Ziv) of His Yeqara fills the earth - as it
were, falls down to it. In ver. 5 the prophet dreads, because he had seen the Yeqara
of the Shekhinah, while in ver. 6 the coal is taken from before the Shekhintha
(which is) upon the throne of the Yeqara (a remarkable expression, which occurs
often; so especially in ix. xvii. 16). Finally, in ver. 8, the prophet hears
the voice of the Memra of Jehovah speaking the words of vv. 9, 10. It is
intensely interesting to notice that in St. John xii. 40, these words are
prophetically applied in connection with Christ. Thus St. John applies to the
Logos what the Targum understands of the Memra of Jehovah.
the designations of God to which reference is made in the text, Philo also
applies to Him that of topoV,
'place,' in precisely the same manner as the later Rabbis (and especially the
Kabbalah) use the word Mwqmaf. To Philo it implies that God is extramundane.
He sees this taught in Gen. xxii. 3, 4, where Abraham came 'unto the place of
which God had told him;' but, when he 'lifted up his eyes,' 'saw the place
after off' Similarly, the Rabbis when commenting on Gen. xxviii. 11, assign
this as the reason why God is designated Mw&qmaf that He is extramundane; the
discussion being whether God is the place of His Word or the reverse, and the
decision in favour of the former - Gen. xxviii. 11 being explained by Ex.
xxxiii. 21, and Deut xxxiii. 27 by Ps. xc. 1 (Ber. R. 68, ed. Warsh. p 125 b).
think it is Köster (Trinitätslehre vor Christo) who distinguishes the
two as God's Presence within and without the congregation. In general his brochure
is of little real value. Dr. S. Maybaum (Anthropmorphien u.
Anthropopathien ber Onkelos) affords a curious instance of modern Jewish
criticism. With much learning and not a little ingenuity he tries to prove by a
detailed analysis, that the three terms Memra, Shekhinah, and Yeqara
have not the meaning above explained! The force of 'tendency-argumentation'
could scarcely go farther than his essay.
as Grimm (Clavis N.T. p. 107 a) would have it, the Shekhinah,
though he rightly regards the N.T. doxa
in this signification of the word, as the equivalent of the Old Testament
yy dwbk. Clear notions on the subject are so important that we give a list of
the chief passages in which the two terms are used in the Targum Onkelos, viz. Yeqara:
Gen. xvii. 22; xviii. 33; xxviii. 13; xxxv. 13; Ex. iii. 1, 6; xvi. 7, 10;
xvii. 16; xviii. 5: xx. 17, 18, xxiv. 10, 11, 17; xxix. 43; xxxiii. 18, 22,
23,:xl. 34, 38; Lev. ix. 4, 6, 23; Numb. x. 36: xii. 8; xiv. 14, 22. Shekhinah:
Gen. ix. 27; Ex. xvii. 7, 16; xx. 21: xxv. 8; xxix. 45, 46; xxxiii. 3, 5,
14-16, 20; xxxiv. 6,9; Numb. v. 3; vi. 25 xi. 20; xiv. 14, 42; xxiii. 21; xxxv.
34;Deut. 1. 42; iii. 24; iv. 39; vi. 15; vil. 21 xii. 5, 11, 21; xiv. 23, 24;
xvi. 2, 6, 11, xxiii. 15; xxvi. 2; xxxii. 10; xxxiii. 26.
But, theologically, by far the most interesting and important
point, with reference not only to the Logos of Philo, but to the term Logos
as employed in the Fourth Gospel, is to ascertain the precise import of the
equivalent expression Memra in the Targumim. As stated in the text of
this book (vol. i. p. 47), the term Memra as applied to God, occurs 176
times in the Targum Onkelos, 99 times in the Jerusalem Targum, and 321 times in
the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan. We subjoin the list of these passages, arranged in
three classes. Those in Class I. mark where the term does not apply to
this, or where it is at least doubtful; those in ClassII.
where the fair interpretation of a passage shows; and ClassIII.
where it is undoubted and unquestionable, that the expression Memra
refers to God as revealing Himself, that is the Logos.
Classified List of all the Passages in which the term
'Memra' occurs in the Targum Onkelos.
(The term occurs 176 times. Class III., which consists of those
passages in which the term Memra bears undoubted application to the
Divine Personality as revealing Himself, comprises 79 passages).7
these sheets are passing through the press for a second edition, the classic
edition of the Targum Onkelos by Dr. Berliner (in 2 vols. berlin, 1884)
has reached me. Vol. i. gives the text after the editio Sabioneta (of
they 1557). Vol ii. adds critical notes to the text (pp. 1-70). which are
followed by very interesting Prolegomena, entering fully one all
questions connected with this Targum, historical, exegetical, and critical, and
treating them with equal learning and breadth and sobriety of judgment. On
comparing our ordinary text with that published by Dr. Berliner I find
that in the three passages italicised (Gen. vii. 16, vi. 6, once, and xxviii.
21) the ed. Sabion. has not the word Memra. This is specially
noteworthy as regards the very important passage, Gen. xxviii. 21.
CLASS I. Inapplicable or Doubtful: Gen. xxvi. 5; Ex. ii.
25; v. 2; vi. 8; xv. 8, 10, 26; xvi. 8; xvii. 1; xxiii. 21, 22; xxv. 22; xxxii.
13; Lev. xviii. 30; xxii. 9; xxvi. 14, 18, 21, 27; Num. iii. 39, 51; iv. 37,
41, 45, 49; ix. 18 (bis), 19, 20 (bis), 23 quat; x. 13; xiii. 3; xiv. 11, 22,
30, 35; xx. 12, 24; xxiii. 19; xxiv. 4;16; xxvii. 14; xxxiii. 2, 38; xxxvi. 5;
Deut. i. 26; iv. 30; viii. 3, 20; xiii. 5, 19 (in our Version 4, 18); xv. 5;
xxvi. 15, 18; xxvii. 10; xxviii. 1, 2, 15, 45, 62; xxx. 2, 8, 10, 20.
An examination of these passages would show that, for caution's
sake, we have sometimes put down as 'inapplicable' or 'doubtful' what, viewed
in connection with other passages in which the word is used, appears scarcely
doubtful. It would take too much space to explain why some passages are put in
the next class, although the term Memra seems to be used in a
manner parallel to that in Class I. Lastly, the reason why some passages appear
in Class III., when others, somewhat similar are placed in Class II., must be
sought in the context and connection of a verse. We must ask the reader to
believe that each passage had been carefully studied by itself, and that our
conclusions have been determined by careful consideration, and by the fair
meaning to be put on the language of Onkelos.
CLASS II. Fair: Gen. vii. 16; xx. 3; xxxi. 3, 24; Ex.
xix. 5; Lev. viii. 35; xxvi. 23; Numb. xi. 20; 23; xiv. 41; xxii. 9, 18, 20;
xxiii. 3, 4, 16; xxvii. 21; xxxvi. 2; Deut. i. 32; iv 24, 33, 36; v. 24, 25,
26; ix 23 (bis) ; xxxi. 23; xxxiv. 5.
CLASS III. Undoubted: Gen iii. 8, 10; vi. 6 (bis), 7;
viii. 21; ix. 12, 13, 15,16, 17; xv. 1, 6; xvii. 2, 7, 10, 11; xxi. 20, 22, 23;
xxii. 16; xxiv. 3; xxvi. 3, 24, 28; xxviii. 15, 20 21; xxxi. 49, 50; xxxv. 3;
xxxix, 2, 3, 21, 23; x1viii. 21; xlix. 24, 25; Ex. iii. 12; iv. 12, 15; x. 10;
xiv. 31; xv. 2; xviii. 19; xix. 17; xxix. 42, 43; xxx. 6; xxxi. 13, 17; xxxiii.
22, Lev. xx. 23; xxiv. 12; xxvi 9; 11, 30, 46; Numb. xiv. 9 (bis), 43; xvii. 19
(in our Version v. 4); xxi. 5; xxiii. 21; Deut. i. 30; ii. 7; iii. 22; iv. 37;
v. 5; ix. 3; xviii. 16, 19, xx. 1; xxiii. 15; xxxi. 6, 8; xxxii. 51; xxxiii. 3,
Of most special interest is the rendering of Onkelos of
Deut. xxxiii. 27, where instead of 'underneath are the everlasting arms,' Onkelos
has it: 'And by His Memra was the world made,' exactly as in St. John i. 10.
This divergence of Onkelos from the Hebrew text is utterly
unaccountable, nor has any explanation of it, as far as I know, been attempted.
Winer, whose inaugural dissertation 'De Onkeloso ejusque Paraphrasi
chaldaica' (Lips. 1820), most modern writers have simply followed (with some
amplifications, chiefly from Luzatto's 'Philoxenus,' rgh bh) makes no
reference to this passage, nor do his successors, so far as I know. It is
curious that, as our present Hebrew text has three words, so has the
rendering of Onkelos, and that both end with the same word.
In classifying the passages in which the word Memra occurs
in the Jerusalem Targum and the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, we have reversed the
previous order, and Class I. represents the passages in which the term undoubtedly
applies to the Personal manifestation of God; Class II., in which this is the fair
interpretation; Class III., in which application is, to say the most, doubtful.
Classified List of Passages (according to the above scheme)
in which the term 'Memra' occurs in the Targum Jerushalmi on the Pentateuch.
Class I. Of undoubted application to a
Personal Manifestation of God: Gen. i. 27; iii. 9, 22; v. 24; vi. 3; viii. 16;
xv. 1; xvi. 3; xix. 24; xxi. 33; xxii 8,14; xxviii. 10; xxx. 22 (bis); xxxi. 9;
xxxv. 9 (quat.); xxxviii. 25; xl. 23; exod. iii. 14; vi. 3; xii. 42 (quat.); xiii.
18; xiv. 15, 24, 25; xv. 12, 25 (bis); xix. 5, 7, 8, 9 (bis); xx. 1, 24; xxv.
4; xxvii. 16; Deut. i. 1; iii. 2; iv. 34; xxvi. 3, 14, 17, 18; xxviii. 27, 68;
xxxiii. 15, 39, 51; xxxiii. 2, 7; xxxiv. 9, 10, 11.
Class II. Where such application is fair:
Gen. v. 24; xxi. 33; Ex. vi. 3; xv. 1; Lev. i. 1; Numb. xxiii. 15, 21; xxiv. 4,
16; Deut. xxxii. 1, 40.
Class III. Where
such application is doubtful: Gen. vi. 6; xviii. 1, 17; xxii. 14 (bis);
xxx. 22; xl. 23; xlix. 18; Ex. xiii. 19; xv. 2, 26; xvii. 19; xix. 3; Deut. i.
1; xxxii. 18; xxxiv. 4, 5.
List of Passages in which the term 'Memra' occurs in the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan
on the Pentateuch.
Class I. Undoubted:
Gen. ii. 8, 10, 24; iv. 26; v. 2; vii. 16; ix. 12, 13, 15, 16, 17; xi. 8; xii.
17; xv. 1; xvii. 2, 7, 10, 11; xviii. 5; xix. 24 (bis); xx. 6, 18: xxi. 22; 22,
23, 33; xxii. 1; xxiv, 3; xxvi. 3, 24, 28; xxvii. 28, 31; xxviii. 10, 15, 20;
xxix. 12; xxxi. 3, 50; xxxv. 3, 9; xxxix. 2, 3, 21, 23; xli.1; xlvi. 4; xlviii.
9, 21; xlix. 25; 1. 20; Exod. i. 21; ii. 5; iii. 12; vii. 25; x. 10; xii. 23,
29; xiii. 8, 15, 17; xiv. 25, 31; xv. 25; xvii. 13, 15, 16 (bis); xviii. 19;
xx. 7; xxvi. 28; xxix. 42, 43; xxx. 6, 36; xxxi. 13, 17; xxxii. 35; xxxiii. 9,
19; xxxiv. 5; xxxvi. 33; Lev. i. 1 (bis); vi. 2; viii. 35; ix. 23; xx. 23;
xxiv. 12 (bis); xxvi. 11, 12, 30, 44, 46; Numb. iii. 16, 39, 51; iv. 37, 41,
45, 49; ix. 18 (bis), 19, 20, (bis), 23 (ter); x. 13, 35, 36; xiv. 9, 41, 43;
xvi. 11, 26; xvii. 4; xxi. 5, 6, 8, 9, 34; xxii. 18, 19, 28; xxiii. 3, 4, 8
(bis), 16, 20, 21; xxiv. 13; xxvii. 16; xxxi. 8; xxxiii. 4; Deut. i. 10, 30,
43; ii. 7, 21; iii. 22; iv. 3, 7, (bis) 20, 24, 33, 36; v. 5 (bis), 11, 22, 23,
24 (bis), 25, 26; vi. 13, 21, 22; ix. 3;xi. 23; xii. 5, 11; xviii. 19; xx. 1;
xxi. 20; xxiv. 18, 19; xxvi. 5, 14, 18; xxviii. 7,9, 11, 13, 20, 21, 22, 25,
27, 28, 35, 48, 49, 59, 61, 63, 68; xxix. 2, 4; xxx. 3, 4, 5, 7; xxxi. 5, 8,
23; xxxii. 6, 9, 12, 36; xxxiii. 29; xxxiv. 1, 5, 10, 11.
Class II. Fair:
Gen. v. 24; xv. 6; xvi. 1, 13; xviii. 17; xxii. 16; xxix. 31; xxx. 22; xlvi. 4;
Ex. ii. 23; iii. 8, 17, 19; iv. 12; vi. 8, xii. 27; xiii. 5, 17; xxxii. 13;
xxxiii. 12, 22; Lev. xxvi. 44; Numb. xiv. 30; xx. 12, 21; xxii. 9, 20; xxiv. 4,
16, 23; Deut. viii. 3; xi. 12; xxix. 23; xxxi. 2, 7; xxxii. 18, 23, 26,38, 39,
43, 48, 50, 51; xxxiii. 3, 27; xxxiv. 6.
Class III. Doubtful:
Gen. iv. 3, 6 (bis); viii. 1, 21; xxii. 18; xxvi. 5 (bis); Ex. iv. 15; v. 2;
ix. 20, 21; x. 29; xiv. 7; xv. 2, 8; xix. 5; xxv. 22; Lev. xviii. 30; xxii. 9;
xxvi. 40; Numb. vi. 27; ix. 8; xii. 6; xiv. 11, 22, 35;xv. 34; xx. 24; xxiii.
19; xxvii. 14; xxxiii. 2. 38; xxxvi. 5; Deut. i. 26, 32; iv. 30; v. 5; viii.
20; ix. 23; xi. 1; xiii. 18; xv. 5; xix. 15; xxv. 18; xxvi. 17; xxvii. 10;
xxviii. 1, 15, 45, 62; xxx. 2, 8, 9, 10; xxxi. 12; xxxiii. 9.
(Ad vol. i. p. 53, note 4.) Only one illustration of Philo's
peculiar method of interpreting the Old Testament can here be given. It will at
the same time show how he found confirmation for his philosophical speculations
in the Old Testament, and further illustrate his system of moral theology in
its most interesting, but also most difficult, point. The question is, how the
soul was to pass from its state of sensuousness and sin to one of devotion to
reason, which was religion and righteousness. It will be remarked that the
change from the one state to the other is said to be accomplished in one of
three ways: by study, by practice, or through a good natural
disposition (maqhsiV, askhsiV,
eufuia) exactly as Aristotle put it. But Philo found a symbol for each,
and for a preparatory state in each, in Scripture. The three Patriarchs
represented this threefold mode of reaching the supersensuous: Abraham, study;
Jacob, practice; Isaac, a good disposition; while Enos, Enoch, and Noah,
represented the respective preparatory stages. Enos (hope), the first real
ancestor of our race, represented the mind awakening to the existence of a
better life. Abraham (study) received command to leave 'the land'
(sensuousness). But all study was threefold. It was, first, physical -
Abram in the land of Ur, contemplating the starry sky, but not knowing God.
Next to the physical was that 'intermediate' (mesh)
study, which embraced the ordinary 'cycle of knowledge' (egkuklioV paideia). This was Abram
after he left Haran, and that knowledge was symbolised by his union with Hagar,
who tarried (intermediately) between Kadesh and Bered. But this stage also was
insufficient, and the soul must reach the third and highest stage, that of
Divine philosophy (truly, the love of wisdom, filosofia)
where eternal truth was the subject of contemplation. Accordingly, Abram left
Lot, he became Abraham, and he was truly united to Sarah, no longer Sarai.
Onwards and ever upwards would the soul now rise to the knowledge of virtue. of
heavenly realities, nay, of the nature of God Himself.
But there was yet another method than 'study,' by which the
soul might rise - that of askesis, discipline, practice, of which
Scripture speaks in Enoch and Jacob. Enoch - whom 'God took, and he was not'
(Gen. v. 24) - meant the soul turning from the lower to the higher, so that it
was no longer found in its former place of evil. From Enoch, as the preparatory
stage, we advance to Jacob, first merely fleeing from sensuous
entanglements (from Laban), then contending with the affections, ridding
himself of five of the seventy-five souls with which he had entered Egypt
(Deut. x.22, comp. with Gen. xlvi. 27), often nearly misled by the Sophists
(Dinah and Hamor), often nearly failing and faint in the conflict (Jacob's
wrestling), but holpen by God, and finally victorious, when Jacob became
But the highest of all was the spiritual life which came
neither from study nor discipline, but through a good disposition. Here we
have, first of all, Noah, who symbolises only the commencement of
virtue, since we read not of any special virtue in him. Rather is he rest
- as the name implies - good, relatively to those around. It was otherwise with
Isaac, who was perfect before his birth (and hence chosen), even as Rebekah
meant constancy in virtue. In that state the soul enjoyed true rest (the
Sabbath, Jerusalem) and joy, which Isaac's name implied. But true virtue, which
was also true wisdom, was Paradise, whence issued the one stream (goodness),
which again divided into four branches (the four Stoic virtues): - Pison,
'prudence' (fronhsiV); Gihon,
'fortitude' (andria); Tigris,
'desire' (epiqumia), and Euphrates,
'justice' (dikaiosunh). And yet,
though these be the Stoic virtues, they all spring from Paradise, the Garden of
God - and all that is good, and all help to it, comes to us ultimately from God
Himself, and is in God.