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On the Jews and Their Lies (1543)
Martin Luther (1483 - 1546)
Translated by Martin H. Bertram
In the same manner murderers and whores, thieves and rogues and all evil men might boast that they are God's holy, peculiar people; for they, too, have his word and know that they must fear and obey him, love and serve him, honor his name, refrain from murder, adultery, theft, and every other evil deed. If they did not have God's holy and true word, they could not sin. But since they do sin and are condemned, it is certain that they do have the holy, true word of God, against which they sin. Let them boast, like the Jews, that God has sanctified them through his law and chosen them above all other men as a peculiar people!
It is the same kind of boasting when the Jews boast in their synagogues, praising and thanking God for sanctifying them through his law and setting them apart as a peculiar people, although they know full well that they are not at all observing this law, that they are full of conceit, envy, usury, greed, and all sorts of malice. The worst offenders are those who pretend to be very devout and holy in their prayers. They are so blind that they not only practice usury not to mention the other vices but they teach that it is a right which God conferred on them through Moses. Thereby, as in all the other matters, they slander God most infamously. However, we lack the time to dwell on that now.
But when they declare that even if they are not holy because of the Ten Commandments (since all Gentiles and devils are also duty-bound to keep these, or else are polluted and condemned on account of them) they still have the other laws of Moses, besides the Ten Commandments, which were given exclusively to them and not also to the Gentiles, and by which they are sanctified and singled out from all other nations O Lord God, what a lame, loose, and vain excuse and pretext this is! If the Ten Commandments are not obeyed, what does the keeping of the other laws amount to other than mere jugglery and mummery, indeed, a veritable mockery which treats God as a fool. It is just as if an evil, devilish fellow among us were to parade about in the garb of a pope, cardinal, bishop, or pastor and observe all the precepts and the ways of these persons, but underneath this spiritual dress would be a genuine devil, a wolf, an enemy of the church, a blasphemer who trampled both the gospel and the Ten Commandments under foot and cursed and damned them. What a fine saint he would be in God's sight!
Or let us suppose that somewhere a pretty girl came along, adorned with a wreath, and observed all the manners, the duties, the deportment and discipline of a chaste virgin, but underneath was a vile, shameful whore, violating the Ten Commandments. What good would her fine obedience in observing outwardly all the duties and customs of a virgin's station do her? It would help her this much that one would be seven times more hostile to her than to an impudent, public whore. Thus God constantly chided the children of Israel through the prophets, calling them a vile whore because, under the guise and decor of external laws and sanctity, they practiced all sorts of idolatry and villainy, as especially Hosea laments in chapter 2.
To be sure, it is commendable when a pious virgin or woman is decently and cleanly dressed and adorned and outwardly conducts herself with modesty. But if she is a whore, her garments, adornments, wreath, and jewels would better befit a sow that wallows in the mire. As Solomon says [Prov. 11:22]: "Like a gold ring in a swine's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion." That is to say, she is a whore. Therefore, this boast about the external laws of Moses, apart from obedience to the Ten Commandments, should be silenced; indeed, this boast makes the Jews seven times more unworthy to be God's people than the Gentiles are. For the external laws were not given to make a nation the people of God, but to adorn and enhance God's people externally. Just as the Ten Commandments were not given that any might boast of them and haughtily despise all the world because of them, as if they were holy and God's people because of them; rather they were given to be observed, and that obedience to God might be shown in them, as Moses and all the prophets most earnestly teach. Not he who has them shall glory, as we saw in the instance of the devils and of evil men, but he who keeps them. He who has them and fails to keep them must be ashamed and terrified because he will surely be condemned by them.
But this subject is beyond the ken of the blind and hardened Jews. Speaking to them about it is much the same as preaching the gospel to a sow. They cannot know what God's commandment really is, much less do they know how to keep it. After all, they could not listen to Moses, nor look into his face; he had to cover it with a veil. This veil is there to the present day, and they still do not behold Moses' face, that is, his doctrine. It is still veiled to them [cf. II Cor. 3:13 ff.; Exod. 34:33 ff.]. Thus they could not hear God's word on Mount Sinai when he talked to them, but they retreated, saying to Moses: "You speak to us, and we will hear; but let not God speak to us, lest we die" [Exod. 20:19]. To know God's commandment and to know how to keep it requires a high prophetic understanding.
Moses was well aware of that when he said in Exodus 34 that God forgives sin and that no one is guiltless before him, which is to say that no one keeps his commandments but he whose sins God forgives. As David also testifies in Psalm 32:1, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, ... to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity." And in the same psalm [cf. v. 6]: "Therefore let every one who is godly offer prayer to thee for forgiveness," which means that no saint keeps God's commandments. But if the saints fail to keep them, how will the ungodly, the unbelievers, the evil people keep them? Again we read in Psalm 143:2: "O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no man living is righteous before thee." That attests clearly enough that even the holy servants of God are not justified before him unless he sets aside his judgment and deals with them in his mercy; that is, they do not keep his commandments and stand in need of forgiveness of sins.
This calls for a Man who will assist us in this, who bears our sin for us, as Isaiah 53:6 says: "The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Indeed, that is truly to understand God's law and its observance when we know, recognize, yes, and feel that we have it, but do not keep it and cannot keep it; that in view of this, we are poor sinners and guilty before God; and that it is only out of pure grace and mercy that we receive forgiveness for such guilt and disobedience through the Man on whom God has laid this sin. Of this we Christians speak and this we teach, and of this the prophets and apostles speak to us and teach us. They are the ones who were and still are our God's bride and pure virgin; and yet they boast of no law or holiness as the Jews do in their synagogues. They rather wail over the law and cry for mercy and forgiveness of sins. The Jews, on the other hand, are as holy as the barefoot friars who possess so much excess holiness that they can use it to help others to get to heaven, and still retain a rich and abundant supply to sell. It is of no use to speak to any of them about these matters, for their blindness arrogance are as solid as an iron mountain. They are in the right; God is in the wrong. Let them go their way, and let us remain with those who pray the *Miserere,* Psalm 51, that is, with those who know and understand what the law is, and what it means to keep and not to keep it.
Learn from this dear Christian, what you are doing if you permit the blind Jews to mislead you. Then the saying will truly apply, 'When a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into the pit" [cf. Luke 6:39]. You cannot learn anything from them except how to misunderstand the divine commandments, and, despite this, boast haughtily over against the Gentiles who really are much better before God than they, since they do not have such pride of holiness and yet keep far more of the law than these arrogant saints and damned blasphemers and liars.
Therefore be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in-which sheer self-glory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practiced most maliciously and vehming his eyes on them. God's wrath has consigned them to the presumption that their boasting, their conceit, their slander of God, their cursing of all people are a true and a great service rendered to God all of which is very fitting and becoming to such noble blood of the fathers and circumcised saints. This they believe despite the fact that they know they are steeped in manifest vices mently, just as the devils themselves do. And where you see or hear a Jew teaching, remember that you are hearing nothing but a venomous basilisk who poisons and kills people merrily by fasten- And with all this, they claim to be doing right. Be on your guard against them!
In the fourth place, 34 they pride themselves tremendously on having received the land of Canaan, the city of Jerusalem, and the temple from God. God has often squashed such boasting and arrogance, especially through the king of Babylon, who led them away into captivity and destroyed everything (just as the king of Assyria earlier had led all of Israel away and had laid everything low). Finally they were exterminated and devastated by the Romans over fourteen hundred years ago so that they might well perceive that God did not regard, nor will regard, their country, city, temple, priesthood, or principality, and view them on account of these as his own peculiar people. Yet their iron neck, as Isaiah calls it [Isa. 48:4] is not bent, nor is their brass forehead red with shame. They remain stone-blind, obdurate, immovable, ever hoping that God will restore their homeland to them and give everything back to them.
Moses had informed them a great many times, first, that they were not occupying the land because their righteousness exceeded that of other heathen for they were a stubborn, evil disobedient people and second, that they would soon be expelled from the land and perish if they did not keep God's commandments. And when God chose the city of Jerusalem he added very clearly in the writings of all the prophets that he would utterly destroy this city of Jerusalem, his seat and throne, if they would not keep his commandments. Furthermore, when Solomon had built the temple, had sacrificed and prayed to God, God said to him (I Kings 9:3), "I have heard your prayer and your supplications ... I have consecrated this house," etc.; but then he added shortly thereafter: "But if you turn aside from following me ... and do not keep my commandments ... then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and the house which I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight; and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples." With an utter disregard for this, they stood and still stand, firm as a rock or as an inert stone image, insisting that God gave them country, city, and temple, and that therefore they have to be God's people or church.
They neither hear nor see that God gave them all of this that they might keep his commandments, that is, regard him as their God, and thus be his people and church. They boast of their race and of their descent from the fathers, but they neither see nor pay attention to the fact that he chose their race that they should keep his commandments. They boast of their circumcision; but why they are circumcised namely, that they should keep God's commandments counts for nought. They are quick to boast of their law, temple, worship, city, land and government; but why they possess all of this, they disregard.
The devil with all his angels has taken possession of this people, so that they always exalt external things their gifts, their deeds, their works before God, which is tantamount to offering God the empty shells without the kernels. These they expect God to esteem and by reason of them accept them as his people, and exalt and bless them above all Gentiles. But that he wants his laws observed and wants to be honored by them as God, this they do not want to consider. Thus the words of Moses are fulfilled when he says [Deut. 32:21] that God will not regard them as his people, since they do not regard him as their God. Hosea 2 [cf. 1:9] expresses the same thought.
Indeed, if God had not allowed the city of Jerusalem to be destroyed and had them driven out of their country, but had permitted them to remain there, no one could have convinced them that they are not God's people, since they would still be in possession of temple, city, and country regardless of how base, disobedient, and stubborn they were. [They would not have believed it] even if it had snowed nothing but prophets daily and even if a thousand Moseses had stood up and shouted: "You are not God's people, because you are disobedient and rebellious to God." Why, even today they cannot refrain from their nonsensical, insane boasting that they are God's people, although they have been cast out, dispersed, and utterly rejected for almost fifteen hundred years. By virtue of their own merits they still hope to return there again. But they have no such promise with which they could console themselves other than what their false imagination smuggles into Scripture.
Our apostle St. Paul was right when he said of them that "they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened," etc. [Rom. 10:2]. They claim to be God's people by reason of their deeds, works, and external show, and not because of sheer grace and mercy, as all prophets and all true children of God have to be, as was said. Therefore they are beyond counsel and help. In the same way as our papists, bishops, monks, and priests, together with their following, who insist that they are God's people and church; they believe that God should esteem them because they are baptized, because they have the name, and because they rule the roost. There they stand like a rock. If a hundred thousand apostles came along and said: "You are not the church because of your behavior or your many doings and divine services, even though these were your best efforts; no, you must despair of all this and adhere simply and solely to the grace and mercy of Christ, etc. If you fail to do this, you are the devil's whore or a school of knaves and not the church," they would wish to murder, burn at the stake, or banish such apostles. As for believing them and abandoning their own devices, of this there is no hope; it will not happen.
The Turks follow the same pattern with their worship, as do all fanatics. Jews, Turks, papists, radicals abound everywhere. All of them claim to be the church and God's people in accord with their conceit and boast, regardless of the one true faith and the obedience to God's commandments through which alone people become and remain God's children. Even if they do not all pursue the same course, but one chooses this way, another that way, resulting in a variety of forms, they nonetheless all have the same intent and ultimate goal, namely, by means of their own deeds they want to manage to become God's people. And thus they boast and brag that they are the ones whom God will esteem. They are the foxes of Samson which are tied together tail to tail but whose heads turn away in different directions [cf. Judg. 15:4].
But as we noted earlier, that is beyond the comprehension of the Jews, as well as of the Turks and papists. As St. Paul says in [I Corinthians 1, "The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned" [I Cor. 2:14]. Thus the words of Isaiah 6:9 come true: "Hear and hear, but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive." For they do not know what they hear, see, say, or do. And yet they do not concede that they are blind and deaf.
That shall be enough about the false boast and pride of the Jews, who would move God with sheer lies to regard them as his people. Now we come to the main subject, their asking God for the Messiah. Here at last they show themselves as true saints and pious children. At this point they certainly do not want to be accounted liars and blasphemers but reliable prophets, asserting that the Messiah has not yet come but will still appear. Who will take them to task here for their error or mistake? Even if all the angels and God himself publicly declared on Mount Sinai or in the temple in Jerusalem that the Messiah had come long ago and that he was no longer to be expected, God himself and all the angels would have to be considered nothing but devils. So convinced are these most holy and truthful prophets that the Messiah has not yet appeared but will still come. Nor will they listen to us. They turned a deaf ear to us in the past and still do so, although many fine scholarly people, including some from their own race, have refuted them so thoroughly that even stone and wood, if endowed with a particle of reason, would have to yield. Yet they rave consciously against recognized truth. Their accursed rabbis, who in deed know better, wantonly poison the minds of their poor youth and of the common man and divert them from the truth. For I believe that if these writings were read by the common man and the youth they would stone all their rabbis and hate them more violently than they do us Christians. But these villains prevent our sincere views from coming to their attention.
If I had not had the experience with my papists, it would have seemed incredible to me that the earth should harbor such base people who knowingly fly in the face of open and manifest truth, that is, of God himself. For I never expected to encounter such hardened minds in any human breast, but only in that of the devil. However, I am no longer amazed by either the Turks' or the Jews' blindness, obduracy, and malice, since I have to witness the same thing in the most holy fathers of the church, in pope, cardinals, and bishops. O you terrible wrath and incomprehensible judgment of the sublime Divine Majesty! How can you be so despised by the children of men that we do not forthwith tremble to death before you? What an unbearable sight you are, also to the hearts and eyes of the holiest men, as we see in Moses and the prophets. Yet these stony hearts and iron souls mock you so defiantly.
However, although we perhaps labor in vain on the Jews for I said earlier that I don't want to dispute with them we nonetheless want to discuss their senseless folly among ourselves, for the strengthening of our faith and as a warning to weak Christians against the Jews, and, chiefly, in honor of God, in order to prove that our faith is true and that they are entirely mistaken on the question of the Messiah. We Christians have our New Testament, which furnishes us reliable and adequate testimony concerning the Messah. That the Jews do not believe it does not concern us; we believe their accursed glosses still less. We let them go their way and wait for their Messiah. Their unbelief does not harm us; but as to the help they derive and to date have derived from it, they may ask of their long-enduring exile. That will, in deed, supply the answer for us. Let him who will not follow lag behind. They act as though they were of great importance to us. Just to vex us, they corrupt the sayings of Scripture. We do not at all desire or require their conversion for any advantage, usefulness, or help accruing to us therefrom. All that we do in this regard is prompted rather by a concern for their welfare. If they do not want it, they can disregard it; we are excused and can easily dispense with them, together with all that they are, have, and can do for salvation. We have a better knowledge of Scripture, thanks be to God; this we are certain of, and all the devils shall never deprive us of it, much less the miserable Jews.
First we want to submit the verse found in Genesis 49:10: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah... until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." This saying of the holy patriarch Jacob, spoken at the very end of his life, has been tortured and crucified in many ways down to the present day by the modern, strange Jews, in violation of their own conscience. For they realize fully that their twisting and perverting is nothing but wanton mischief. Their glosses remind me very much of an evil, stubborn shrew who clamorously contradicts her husband and insists on having the last word although she knows she is in the wrong. Thus these blinded people also suppose that it suffices to bark and to prattle against the text and its true meaning; they are entirely indifferent to the fact that they are lying impudently. I believe they would be happier if this verse had never been written rather than that they should change their mind. This verse pains them intensely, and they cannot ignore it.
The ancient, true Jews understood this verse correctly, as we Christians do, namely, that the government or scepter should remain with the tribe of Judah until the advent of the Messiah; then "to him shall be the obedience of the peoples," to him they will adhere. That is, the scepter shall then not be confined to the tribe of Judah, but, as the prophets later explain, it shall be extended to all peoples on earth at the time of the Messiah. However, until he appears, the scepter shall remain in that small nook and corner, Judah. That, I say, is the understanding of the prophets and of the ancient Jews; this they cannot deny. For also their Chaldaean Bible, which they dare oppose as little as the Hebrew Bible itself, shows this clearly.
In translation it reads thus: "The shultan shall not be put away from the house of Judah nor the saphra from his children's children eternally until the Messiah comes, whose is the kingdom, and the peoples will make themselves obedient to him." This is a true and faithful translation of the Chaldaean text, as no Jew or devil can deny.
For Moses' Hebrew term shebet ["scepter"] we use the word Zepter in German, whereas the Chaldaean translator chooses the word shultan. Let us explain these words. The Hebrew shebet is the designation for a virga; it is really not a rod in the usual sense, for this term suggests to the German the thought of birch switches with which children are punished. Nor is it a staff used by invalids and the aged for walking. But it designates a mace held upright, such as a judge holds in his hand when he acts in his official capacity. As luxury increased in the world, this mace was made of silver or of gold. Now it is called a scepter, that is, a royal rod. Skeptron is a Greek word, but it has now been taken up into the German language. In his first book, Homer describes his King Achilles as having a wooden scepter adorned with small silver nails. From this we learn what scepters originally were and how they gradually came to be made entirely of silver and gold. In brief, it is the rod, whether of silver, wood, or gold, carried by a king or his representative. It symbolizes nothing other than do minion or kingdom. Nobody questions this.
To make it very clear: the Chaldaean translator does not use the word shebet, mace or scepter; but he substitutes the person who bears this rod, saying shultan, indicating that a prince, lord, or king shall not depart from the house of Judah; there shall be a sultan in the house of Judah until the Messiah comes. "Sultan" is also a Hebrew term, and a word well known to us Christians, who have waged war for more than six hundred years against the sultan of Egypt, and have gained very little to show for it. For the Saracens call their king or prince "sultan," that is, lord or ruler or sovereign. From this the Hebrew word schilt is derived, which has become a thoroughly German word (Schild ["shield"]). It is as though one wished to say that a prince or lord must be his subjects' shield, protection, and defense, if he is to be a true judge, sultan, or lord, etc. Some people even try to trace the German term Schultheiss ["village mayor"] back to the word "sultan"; I shall not enter into this.
saphra is the same as the Hebrew sopher (for Chaldee and Hebrew are closely related, indeed they are almost identical, just as Saxons and Swabians both speak German, but still there is a great difference). The word sopher we commonly translate into the German by means of Kanzler ["chancellor"]. Everyone, including Burgensis, translates the word saphra with scriba or scribe. These people are called scribes in the Gospel. They are not ordinary scribes who write for wages or without official authority. They are sages, great rulers, doctors and professors, who teach, order, and preserve the law in the state. I suppose that it also encompasses the chancelleries, parliaments, councillors, and all who by wisdom and justice aid in governing. That is what Moses wishes to express with the word mehoqeq, which designates one who teaches, composes, and executes commands and decrees. Among the Saracens, for instance, the sultan's scribes or secretaries, his doctors, teachers, and scholars, are those who teach, interpret, and preserve the Koran as the law of the land. In the papacy the pope's scribes or saphra are the canonists or jackasses who teach and preserve his decretals and laws. In the empire the doctores legum, the secular jurists, are the emperor's saphra or scribes who teach, administer, and preserve the imperial laws.
Thus Judah, too, had scribes who taught and preserved the law of Moses, which was the law of the land. Therefore we have translated the word mehoqeq with "master," that is, doctor, teacher, etc. So this passage, "The mehoqeq, i.e., master, will not be taken from between his feet," means that teachers and listeners who sit at their feet will remain in an orderly government. For every country, if it is to endure, must have these two things: power and law. The country, as the saying goes, must have a lord, a head, a ruler. But it must also have a law by which the ruler is guided. These are the mace and the mehoqeq, or sultan and saphra. Solomon indicates this also, for when he had received the rod, that is, the kingdom, he prayed only for wisdom so that he might rule the people justly (I Kings 3). For wherever sheer power prevails without the law, where the sultan is guided by his arbitrary will and not by duty, there is no government, but tyranny, akin to that of Nero, Caligula, Dionysius, Henry of Brunswick, and their like. Such does not endure long. On the other hand, where there is law but no power to enforce it, there the wild mob will also do its will and no government can survive. Therefore both must be present: law and power, sultan and saphra, to supplement one another.
Thus the councillors who gathered in Jerusalem and who were to come from the tribe of Judah were the saphra; the Jews called them the Sanhedrin Herod, a foreigner, an Edomite, did away with this, and he himself became both sultan and saphra, mace and mehoqeq in the house of Judah, lord and scribe. Then the saying of the patriarch began to be fulfilled that Judah was no longer to retain the government or the saphra. Now it was time for the Messiah to come and to occupy his kingdom and sit on the throne of David forever, as Isaiah 9:6] prophesies. Therefore let us now study this saying of the patriarch.
"Judah," he declares, "your brothers shall praise you," etc. [Gen. 49:8]. This, it seems to me, requires no commentary; it states clearly enough that the tribe of Judah will be honored above all of his brothers and will enjoy the prerogative. The text continues: "Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies," etc. This also declares plainly that the famous and prominent tribe of Judah must encounter enemies and opposition, but that all will end successfully and victoriously for it. We continue: "Your father's sons shall bow down before you," etc. Again it is clear that this does not refer to the captivity but to the rule over his brothers, all of which was fulfilled in David. But not only did the tribe of Judah, in David, become lord over his brothers; he also spread his rule beyond, like a lion, forcing other nations into submission; for instance the Philistines, the Syrians, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Edomites.
This is what he praises in these beautiful words [Gen. 49:9]: "Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he crouched as a lion, and as a lioness; who dares to rise up against him? This is to say that he was enthroned and established a kingdom which no one could overwhelm, though the adjacent nations frequently and mightily tried to do so.
All right, up to this point the patriarch has established, ordained, and confirmed the kingdom, the sultan, the rod, the saphra in the tribe of Judah. There Judah, the sultan, sits enthroned for his rule. What is to happen now? This, he says: He shall remain thus until the Messiah comes; that is, many will oppose him, at tempting to overthrow and destroy the kingdom and simply make it disappear from the earth. The histories of the kings and the prophets amply testify that all the Gentile nations ever earnestly strove to do this. And the patriarch himself declares, as we heard before, that Judah must have its foes. For such is the course of events in the world that wherever a kingdom or principality rises to a position of might, envy will not rest until it is destroyed. All of history illustrates this with numerous examples.
However, in this instance the Holy Spirit states: This kingdom in the tribe of Judah is mine, and no one shall take it from me, no matter how angry and mighty he may be, even if the gates of hell should try. The words will still prove true: Non auferetur, "It shall not be taken away." You devils and Gentiles may say: Auferetur, we shall put an end to it, we shall devour it, we shall silence it, as Psalm 74 bemoans. But it shall remain undevoured, undevastated. "The shebet or sultan shall not depart from the house of Judah, nor the saphra from his children's children," until the shiloh or Messiah comesno matter how you all rant and rage.
And when he does appear, the kingdom will become far different and still more glorious. For since you would not tolerate the tribe of Judah in a little, narrow corner, I shall change him into a truly strong lion who will become sultan and saphra in all the world. I will do this in such a way that he will not draw a sword nor shed a drop of blood, but the nations will voluntarily and gladly submit themselves to him and obey him. Such shall be his kingdom. For after all, the kingdom and all things are his.
Approach the text, both Chaldaean and Hebrew, with this understanding and this thought, and I wager that your heart together with the letters will surely tell you: By God! that is the truth, that is the patriarch's meaning. And then consult the histories to ascertain whether this has not happened and come to pass in this way and still continues to do so. Again you will be compelled to say: It is verily so. For it is undeniable that the sultan and saphra remained with the tribe of Judah until Herod's time, even if it was at times feeble and was not maintained without the opposition of mighty foes. Nevertheless, it was preserved. Under Herod and after Herod, however, it fell into ruin and came to an end. It was so completely destroyed that even Jerusalem, once the throne-seat of the tribe of Judah, and the land of Canaan were wiped out. Thus the verse was fulfilled which said that the sultan has departed and the Messiah has come.
I do not have the time at present to demonstrate what a rich fountainhead this verse is and how the prophets drew so much information from it concerning the fall of the Jews and the election of the Gentiles, about which the modern Jews and bastards know nothing at all. But we have clearly and forcefully seen from this verse that the Messiah had to come at the time of Herod. The alternative would be to say that God failed to keep his promise and, consequently, lied. No one dare do that save the accursed devil and has servants, the false bastards and strange Jews. They do this incessantly. In their eyes God must be a liar. They claim that they are right when they assert that the Messiah has not yet come, despite the fact that God declared in very plain words that the Messiah would come before the scepter had entirely departed from Judah. And this scepter has been lost to Judah for almost fifteen hundred years now. The clear words of God vouch for this, and so do the visible effect and fulfillment of these same words.
What do you hope to accomplish by engaging an obstinate Jew in a long dispute on this? It is just as though you were to talk to an insane person and prove to him that God created heaven and earth, according to Genesis 1, pointing out heaven and earth to him with your hands, and he would nevertheless prattle that these are not the heaven and earth mentioned in Genesis 1, or that they were not heaven and earth at all, but were called something else, etc. For this verse, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah," etc., is as clear and plain as the verse, "God created heaven and earth." And the fact that this scepter has been removed from Judah for almost fifteen hundred years is as patent and manifest as heaven and earth are, so that one can readily perceive that the Jews are not simply erring and misled but that they are maliciously and willfully denying and blaspheming the recognized truth in violation of their conscience. Nobody should consider such a person worthy of wasting a single word on him, even if it dealt with Markolf the mockingbird, much less if it deals with such exalted divine words and works.
But if anyone is tempted to become displeased with me, I will serve his purpose and give him the Jews' glosses on this text. First I will present those who do not dismiss this text but adhere to it, particularly to the Chaldaean version, which no sensible Jew can deny. These twist and turn as follows: To be sure, they say, God's promise is certain; but our sins prevent the fulfillment of the promise. Therefore we still look forward to it until we have atoned, etc. Is this not an empty pretext, even a blasphemous one? As if God's promise rested on our righteousness, or fell with our sins! That is tantamount to saying that God would have to become a liar because of our sin, and conversely, that he would have to become truthful again by reason of our righteousness. How could one speak more shamefully of God than to imply that he is a shaking reed which is easily swayed back and forth either by our falling down or standing up?
If God were not to make a promise or keep a promise until we were rid of sin, he would have been unable to promise or do anything from the very beginning. As David says in Psalm 130:3: "If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, Lord, who could stand?" And in Psalm 102 [143:2]: "Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no man living is righteous before thee." And there are many more such verses. The example of the children of Israel in the wilderness can be cited here. God led them into the land of Canaan without any righteousness on their part, in fact, with their great sins and shame, solely on account of his promise. In Deuteronomy 9:5 Moses says: "Know therefore that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness; for you are a stubborn and a disobedient people (it seems to me that this may indeed be called sin), but because of the promise which the Lord gave to your fathers," etc. By way of example he often wanted to exterminate them, but Moses interceded for them. So little was God's promise based upon their holiness.
It is true that wherever God promises anything conditionally, or with reservation, saying: "If you will do that, I will do this," then the fulfillment is contingent on our action; for instance, when he declared to Solomon [I Kings 9], "If you will keep my statutes and my ordinances, then this house shall be consecrated to me; if not, I shall destroy it." However, the promise of the Messiah is not thus conditional. For he does not say: "If you will do this or that, then the Messiah will come; if you fail to do it, he will not come." But he promises him unconditionally, saying: "The Messiah will come at the time when the scepter has departed from Judah." Such a promise is based only on divine truth and grace, which ignores and disregards our doings. That renders this subterfuge of the Jews inane, and, moreover, very blasphemous.
The others who depart from this text subject almost every single word of it to severe and violent misinterpretation. They really do not deserve to have their drivel and filth heard; still, in order to expose their disgrace we must exercise a bit of patience and also listen to their nonsense. For since they depart from the clear meaning of the text, they already stand condemned by their own conscience, which would constrain them to heed the text; but to vex us, they conjure up the Hebrew words before our eyes, as though we were not conversant with the Chaldaean text.
Some engage in fantasies here and say that Shiloh refers to the city of that name, where the ark of the covenant was kept (Judges 21 [cf. I Sam. 4:3]), so that the meaning would be that the scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes, that is, until Saul is anointed king of Shiloh. That is surely foolish prattle. Prior to King Saul not only did Judah have no scepter, but neither did all of Israel. How, then, can it have departed when Saul became king? The text declares that Judah had first been lord over his brothers and that he then became a lion, and therefore received the scepter. Likewise, before Saul's time no judge was lord or prince over the people of Israel, as we gather from Gideon's speech to the people in reply to their wish that he and his descendants rule over them: "I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you" (Judges 7 [8:23]). Nor was there a judge from the tribe of Judah, except perhaps for Othniel [Judg. 3:9], Joshua's immediate successor. All the others down to Saul were from the other tribes. And although Othniel is called Caleb's youngest brother, this does not prove that he was of the tribe of Judah, since he may have had a different father. And it does not make sense that Shiloh should here refer to a city or to Saul's coronation in Shiloh, for Saul was anointed by Samuel in Ramath (I Samuel 10) and confirmed at Gilgal.
In any case, what is the meaning of the Chaldaean text which says that the kingdom belongs to Shiloh and that nations shall be subject to it? When was the city of Shiloh or Saul ever accorded such an honor? Israel is one nation, not many, with one body of laws, one divine worship, one name. There are many nations, however, which have different and various laws, names, and gods. Now Jacob declares that not the one nation Israel which was already his or was under Judah's scepter but other nations would fall to Shiloh. Therefore this foolish talk reflects nothing other than the great stubbornness of the Jews, who will not submit to this saying of Jacob, although they stand convicted by their own conscience.
Others indulge in the fancy that Shiloh refers to King Jeroboam, who was crowned in Shiloh, and to whom ten tribes of Israel had defected from Rehoboam, the king of Judah (I Kings 12). Therefore, they say, this is Jacob's meaning: The scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh, that is, Jeroboam, comes. This is just as inane as the other interpretation; for Jeroboam was not crowned in Shiloh but in Shechem (I Kings 12). Thus the scepter did not depart from Judah, but the kingdom of Judah remained, together with the tribe of Benjamin and many of the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of these two tribes, as we hear in I Kings 12. Moreover, the entire priesthood, worship, temple, and everything remained in Judah. Furthermore, Jeroboam never conquered the kingdom of Judah, nor did other nations fall to him, as they were to fall to Shiloh.
The third group babbles thus: "Shiloh means 'sent,' and this term applies to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon." So the meaning is that the scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh, that is, the king of Babylon, comes. He was to lead Judah into exile and destroy it. This also doesn't hold water, and a child learning his letters can disprove it. For Shiloh and shiloch are two different words. The latter may mean "sent." But that is not the word found here; it is Shiloh, and that, as the Chaldee says, means "Messiah." But the king of Babylon is not the Messiah who is to come from Judah, as the Jews and all the world know very well. Nor did the scepter depart from Judah even though the Jews were led captive into Babylon. That was just a punishment for seventy years. Also during this time great prophets Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel appeared who upheld the scepter and said how long the exile would be. Furthermore, Jehoiachin, the king of Judah, was regarded as a king in Babylon. And many of those who were led away into captivity returned home again during their lifetime (Haggai 2). This cannot be viewed as loss of the scepter, but as a light flogging. Even if they were deprived of their country for a while by way of punishment, God nonetheless pledged his precious word that they could remain assured of their land. But during the past fifteen hundred years not even a dog, much less a prophet, has any assurance concerning the land. Therefore the scepter has now definitely departed from Judah. I have written more about this against the Sabbatarians.
The fourth group twists the word shebet and interprets it to mean that the rod will not depart from Judah until Shiloh, that is, his son, will come, who will weaken the Gentiles. These regard the rod as the punishment and exile in which they now live. But the Messiah will come and slay all the Gentiles. That is humbug. It ignores the Chaldaean text entirely something they may and dare not do and is a completely arbitrary interpretation of the word shebet. They overlook the preceding words in which Jacob makes Judah a prince and a lion or a king, adding immediately thereafter that the scepter, or shebet, shall not depart from Judah. How could such an odd meaning about punishment follow right on the heels of such glorious words about a principality or kingdom? The sins which provoked such a punishment would have to have been proclaimed first. But all that we find mentioned here are praise, honor, and glory to the tribe of Judah.
And even if the word shebet does designate a rod for punishment, how would that help them? For the judge's or the king's rod is also a rod of punishment for the evildoers. Indeed, the rod of punishment cannot be any but a judge's or sultan's rod, since the right to administer punishment belongs solely to the authority (Deuteronomy 32): Mihi vindicatam, "Vengeance is mine." In any event, this meaning remains unshaken that the scepter or rod of Judah shall remain even if this rod is one of punishment. But this arbitrary interpretation of the rabbis points to a foreign rod which does not rest in Judah's hand but on Judah's back and is wielded by a foreign hand. Even if this meaning were possible which it is not what would we do with the other passage that speaks of the saphra or mehoqeq at his feet? This would then also have to be a foreign lord's mehoqeq and a foreign nation's feet. But since Jacob declares that it is to be Judah and the mehoqeq of his feet, the other term, the rod, must also represent the rule of his tribe.
Some twist the word donec ("until") and try to make "be cause" (quia) out of it. So they read: "The scepter of Judah will not depart donec; that is, because (quia) the Messiah will come." He who perpetrated this is a precious master, worthy of being crowned with thistles. He reverses the correct order of things in this manner: The Messiah will come, therefore the scepter will remain. Jacob, however, first makes Judah a prince and a lion to whom the scepter is assigned prior to the coming of the Messiah; he then, in turn, will give it to the Messiah. Thus Judah retains neither the principality nor the role of lion nor the scepter, which Jacob assigned to him. Furthermore, the fool arbitrarily makes out of the term "until" a new term, "because." This, of course, the language does not permit.
And finally there is a rabbi who twists the word "come" and claims that it means "to set," just as the Hebrew uses the word "to come" for the setting of the sun. This fellow is given to such nonsense that I am at a loss to know whether he is trying to walk on his head or on his ears. For I fail to understand the purport of his words when he says that the scepter will not depart from Judah until Shiloh (the city) goes down (sets). Then David, the Messiah, will come. Where, to repeat what was said above, was the scepter of Judah prior to Shiloh or Saul? But they who rage against their own conscience and patent truth must needs speak such nonsense. In brief, Lyra is right when he says that even if they invent these and many other similar glosses, the Chaldaean text topples all of them and convicts them of being willful liars, blasphemers, and perverters of God's word. However, I wanted to present this to us Germans so that we might see what rascals the blind Jews are and how powerfully the truth of God in our midst stands with us and against them.
And now that some have noticed that such evasions and silly glosses are null and void, they admit that the Messiah came at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem; but, they say, he is in the world secretly, sitting in Rome among the beggars and doing penance for the Jews until the time for his public appearance is at hand. These are not the words of Jews or of men but those of the arrogant, jeering devil, who most bitterly and venomously mocks us Christians and our Christ through the Jews, as if to say: "The Christians glory much in their Christ, but they have to submit to the yoke of the Romans; they must suffer and be beggars in the world, not only in the days of the emperors, but also in those of the pope. After all, they are impotent in my kingdom, the world, and I will surely remain their master." Yes, vile devil, just mock and laugh your fill over this now; you will still tremble enough for it.
Thus the words of Jacob fared very much the same as did these words of Christ in our day: "This is my body which is given for you." The enthusiasts distorted each word singly and collectively, putting the last things first, rather than accept the true meaning of the text, as we have observed. It is clear in this instance too that Christians such as Lyra, Raymund, Burgensis, and others certainly went to great lengths in an effort to convert the Jews. They hounded them from one word to another, just as foxes are hunted down. But after having been hounded a long time, they still persisted in their obstinacy and now set to erring consciously, and would not depart from their rabbis. Thus we must let them go their way and ignore their malicious blasphemy and lying.
I once experienced this myself. Three learned Jews came to me, hoping to discover a new Jew in me because we were beginning to read Hebrew here in Wittenberg, and remarking that matters would soon improve since we Christians were starting to read their books. When I debated with them, they gave me their glosses, as they usually do. But when I forced them back to the text, they soon fled from it, saying that they were obliged to believe their rabbis as we do the pope and the doctors, etc. I took pity on them and give them a letter of recommendation to the authorities, asking that for Christ's sake they let them freely go their way. But later, I found out that they called Christ a tola, that is, a hanged highwayman. Therefore I do not wish to have anything more to do with any Jew. As St. Paul says, they are consigned to wrath; the more one tries to help them the baser and more stubborn they become. Leave them to their own devices.
We Christians, however, can greatly strengthen our faith with this statement of Jacob, assuring us that Christ is now present and that he has been present for almost fifteen hundred years -- but not, as the devil jeers, as a beggar in Rome; rather, as a ruling Messiah. If this were not so, then God's word and promise would be a lie. If the Jews would only let Holy Scripture be God's word, they would also have to admit that there has been a Messiah since the time of Herod (no matter where), rather than awaiting another. But before doing this, they will rather tear and pervert Scripture until it is no longer Scripture. And this is in fact their situation: They have neither Messiah nor Scripture, just as Isaiah 28 prophesied of them.
But may this suffice on the saying of Jacob. Let us take another saying which the Jews did not and cannot twist and distort in this way. In the last words of David, we find him saying (II Samuel 23:2): "The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me, his word is upon my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel ...." And a little later [in v. 5]: "Does not my house stand so with God?" Or, to translate it literally from the Hebrew: "My house is of course not thus," etc. That is to say: "My house is, after all, not worthy; this is too glorious a thing and it is too much that God does all of this for a poor man like me." "For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure." Note well how David exults with so numerous and seemingly superfluous words that the Spirit of God has spoken through him and that God's word is upon his tongue. Thus he says: "The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel," etc. It is as if he were to say: "My dear people, give ear. Whoever can hear, let him hear. Here is God, who is speaking and saying, 'Listen,'" etc. What is it, then, that you exhort us to listen to? What is God saying through you? What does he wish to say to you? What shall we hear?
This is what you are to hear: that God made an everlasting, firm, and sure covenant with me and my house, a covenant of which my house is not worthy. Indeed, my house is nothing compared to God; and yet he did this. What is this everlasting covenant? Oh, open your ears and listen! My house and God have bound themselves together forever through an oath. This is a covenant, a promise which must exist and endure forever. For it is God's covenant and pledge, which no one shall or can break or hinder. My house shall stand eternally; it is "ordered in all things and secure." The word aruk ("ordered") conveys the meaning that it will not disappoint or fail one in the least. Have you heard this? And do you believe that God is truthful? Yes, without doubt. My dear people, do you also believe that he can and will keep his word?
Well and good, if God is truthful and almighty and spoke these words through David which no Jew dares to deny then David's house and government (which are the same thing) must have endured since the time he spoke these words, and must still endure and will endure forever that is, eternally. Otherwise, God would be a liar. In brief, either we must have David's house or heir, who reigns from the time of David to the present and in eternity, or David died as a flagrant liar to his last day, uttering these words (as it seems) as so much idle chitchat: "God speaks, God says, God promises." It is futile to join the Jews in giving God the lie, saying that he did not keep these precious words and promises. We must, I say, have an heir of David from his time onward, in proof of the fact that his house has never stood empty no matter where this heir may be. For his house must have been continuous and must ever remain so. Here we find God's word that this is an everlasting, firm, and sure covenant, without a flaw. but everything in it must be aruk, magnificently ordered, as God orders all his work. Psalm 111:3: "Full of honor and majesty in his work."
Now let the Jews produce such an heir of David. For they must do so, since we read here that David's house is everlasting, a house that no one will destroy or hinder, but rather as we also read here [II Sam. 23:4], it shall be like the sun shining forth, which no cloud can hinder. If they are unable to present such an heir or house of David, then they stand fully condemned by this verse, and they show that they are surely without God, without David, without Messiah, without everything, that they are lost and eternally condemned. Of course, they cannot deny that the kingdom or house of David endured uninterruptedly until the Babylonian captivity, even throughout the Babylonian captivity, and following this to the days of Herod. It endured, I say, not by its own power and merit but by virtue of this everlasting covenant made with the house of David. For most of their kings and rulers were evil, practicing idolatry, killing the prophets, and living shamefully. For example, Rehoboam, Joram, Joash, Ahaz, Manasseh, etc., surpassed all the Gentiles or the kings of Israel in vileness. Because of them, the house and tribe of David fully deserved to be exterminated. That was what finally happened to the kingdom of Israel. However, the covenant made with David remained in effect. The books of the kings and of the prophets exultantly declare that God preserved a lamp or a light to the house of David which he would not permit to be extinguished. Thus we read in II Kings 8:19 and in II Chronicles 21:7: "Yet the Lord would not destroy the house of David because of the covenant which he had made with David, since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever." The same thought is expressed in II Samuel 7:12.
By way of contrast, look at the kingdom of Israel, where the rule never remained with the same tribe or family beyond the second generation, with the exception of Jehu  who by reason of a special promise carried it into the fourth generation of his house. Otherwise it always passed from one tribe to another, and at times scarcely survived for one generation; moreover, it was not long until the kingdom died out completely. But through the wondrous deeds of God the kingdom of Judah remained within the tribe of Judah and the house of David. It withstood strong opposition on the part of the Gentiles round about, from Israel itself, from uprisings within, and from gross idolatries and sins, so that it would not have been surprising if it had perished in the third generation under Rehoboam, or at least under Joram, Ahaz, and Manasseh. But it had a strong Protector who did not let it die or let its light become extinguished. The promise was given that it would remain firm, eternally firm and secure. And so it has remained and must remain down to the present and forever; for God does not and cannot lie.
The Jews drivel that the kingdom perished with the Babylonian captivity. As we said earlier, this is empty talk; for this constituted but a short punishment, definitely confined to a period of seventy years. God had pledged his word for that. Moreover, he preserved them during this time through splendid prophets. Furthermore, King Jehoiachin was exalted above all the kings in Babylon, and Daniel and his companions ruled not only over Judah and Israel but also over the Babylonian Empire.  Even if their seat of government was not in Jerusalem for a short span of time, they nonetheless ruled elsewhere much more gloriously than in Jerusalem. Thus we may say that the house of David did not be come extinct in Babylon but shone more resplendently than in Jerusalem. They only had to vacate their homeland for a while by way of punishment. For when a king takes the field of a foreign country he cannot be regarded as an ex-king because he is not in his home land, especially if he is attended by great victory and good fortune against many nations. Rather one should say that he is more illustrious abroad than at home.
If God kept his covenant from the time of David to that of Herod, preserving his house from extinction, he must have kept it from that time on to the present, and he will keep it eternally, so that David's house has not died and cannot die eternally. For we dare not rebuke God as half truthful and half untruthful, saying that he kept his covenant and preserved David's house faithfully from David's time to that of Herod, but that after the time of Herod he began to lie and to become deceitful, ignoring and altering his covenant. No, for as the house of David remained and shone up to Herod's time, thus it had to remain under Herod and after Herod, shining to eternity.
Now we note how nicely this saying of David harmonizes with that of the patriarch Jacob: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the mehoqeq from his feet until Messiah comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples" [Gen. 49:10]. How can it be expressed more clearly or differently that David's house will shine forth until the Messiah comes? Then, through him, the house of David will shine not only over Judah and Israel but also over the Gentiles, or over other and more numerous countries. This indeed does not mean that it will become extinct, but that it will shine farther and more lustrously than before his advent. And thus, as David says, this is an eternal kingdom and an eternal covenant. Therefore it follows most cogently from this that the Messiah came when the scepter departed from Judah _ unless we want to revile God by saying that he did not keep his covenant and oath. Even if the stiff-necked, stubborn Jews refuse to accept this, at least our faith has been confirmed and strengthened by it. We do not give a fig for their crazy glosses, which they have spun out of their own heads. We have the clear text.
These last words of David to revert to them once more are founded on God's own word, where he says to him, as he here boasts at his end: "Would you build me a house to dwell in?" (II Sam. 7 [:5]). You can read what follows there_how God continues to relate that until now he has lived in no house, but that he had chosen him [i.e., David] to be a prince over his people, to whom he would assign a fixed place and grant him rest, concluding, "I will make you a house" [cf. II Sam. 7:11]. That is to say: Neither ,you nor anyone else will build me a house to dwell in; I am far, far too great for that, as we read also in Isaiah 66. No, I will build you a house. For thus says the Lord, as Nathan asserts: "The Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house" [II Sam. 7:11]. Everyone is familiar with a house built by man_ a very perishable structure fashioned of stone and wood. But a house built by God means the establishing of the father of a family who would ever after have heirs and descendants of his blood and lineage. Thus Moses says in Exodus 1 [:21] that God built houses for the midwives because they did not obey the king's command, but let the infants live and did not kill them. On the other hand, he breaks down and extinguishes the houses of the kings of Israel in the second generation.
Thus David has here a secure house, built by God, which is to have heirs forever. It is not a plain house; no, he says, "You shall be prince over my people Israel" [II Sam. 7:8]. Therefore it shall be called a princely, a royal house -- that is, the house of Prince David or King David, in which your children shall reign forever and be princes such as you are. The books and histories of the kings prove this true, tracing it down to the time of Herod. Until that time the scepter and saphra are in the tribe of Judah.
Now follows the second theme, concerning Shiloh. How long shall my house thus stand and how long shall my descendants rule? He answers thus [II Sam. 7:12-16]: "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you who shall come forth from your body (utero -- that is, from your flesh and blood), and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chastise him with the rod of men (as one whips children), with the stripes of the sons of men; but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever." This statement is found almost verbatim also in I Chronicles 18 [17:11-14], where you may read it.
Whoever would refer these verses to Solomon would indeed be an arbitrary interpreter. For although Solomon was not yet born at this time, indeed the adultery with his mother Bathsheba had not yet even been committed, he is nonetheless not the seed of David born after David's death, of whom the text says, "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your seed after you." For Solomon was born during David's lifetime. It would be foolish, yes, ridiculous, to say that the term "raised up" here means that Solomon should be raised up after David's death to become king or to build the house; for three other chapters (I Kings 1, I Chronicles 24 , and I Chronicles 29) attest that Solomon was not only instated as king during his father's lifetime, but that he also received command from his father David, as well as the entire plan of the temple, of all the rooms, its detailed equipment, and the organization of the whole kingdom. It is obvious that Solomon did not build the temple or order the kingdom or the priesthood according to his own plans but according to those of David, who prescribed everything, in fact, already arranged it during his lifetime.
There is also a great discrepancy and a difference in words between II Samuel 7 and I Chronicles 24  and 29. The former states that God will build David an eternal house, the latter that Solomon shall build a house in God's name. The former passage states without any condition or qualification that it shall stand forever and be hindered by no sin. The latter passage conditions its continuance on Solomon's and his descendants' continued piety. Since he did not remain pious, he not only lost the ten tribes of Israel but was also exterminated in the seventh generation. The former is a promissio gratiae ["a promise of grace"], the latter a promissio legis ["a promise of law"]. In the former passage David thanks God that his house will stand forever, in the latter he does not thank God that Solomon's temple will stand forever. In other words, the two passages refer to different times and to different things and houses. And although God does call Solomon his son in the latter also and says that he will be his father, this promise is dependent on the condition that Solomon will remain pious. Such a condition is not found in the former passage. It is not at all rare that God calls his saints, as well as the angels, his children. But the son mentioned in II Samuel 7:14 is a different and special son who will retain the kingdom unconditionally and be hindered by no sin.
Also the prophets and the psalms quote II Samuel 7, which speaks of David's seed after his death, whereas they pay no attention to I Chronicles 24  and 29, which speak of Solomon. In Psalm 89 [:1-4] we read: "I will sing of thy steadfast love, O Lord, for ever; with my mouth I will proclaim thy faithfulness to all generations. For thy steadfast love was established for ever, thy faithfulness is firm as the heavens. Thou hast said, 'I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: "I will establish your descendants for ever, and build your throne for all generations."'" These too are clear words. God vows and swears an oath to grant David his grace forever, and to build and preserve his house, seed, and throne eternally.
Later, in verse 19, we have an express reference to the true David. This verse contains the most beautiful prophecies of the Messiah, which cannot apply to Solomon. For he was not the sovereign of all kings on earth, nor did his rule extend over land and sea. These facts cannot be glossed over. Furthermore, the kingdom did not remain with Solomon's house. He had no absolute promise with regard to this, but only a promise conditional on his piety. But it was the house of David that had the promise, and he had more sons than Solomon. And as the history books report, the scepter of Judah at times passed from brother to brother, from cousin to cousin, but always remained in the house of David. For instance, Ahaziah left no son, and Ahaz left none, so according to the custom of Holy Scripture the nephews had to be heirs and sons.
Anyone who would venture to contradict such clear and convincing statements of Scripture regarding the eternal house of David, which are borne out by the histories, showing that there were always kings or princes down to the Messiah, must be either the devil himself or whoever is his follower. For I can readily believe that the devil, or whoever it may be, would be unwilling to acknowledge a Messiah, but still he would have to acknowledge David's eternal house and throne. For he cannot deny the clear words of God in his oath vowing that his word would not be changed and that he would not lie to David, not even by reason of any sin, as the aforementioned psalm [Ps. 89] impressively and clearly states.
Now such an eternal house of David is nowhere to be found unless we place the scepter before the Messiah and the Messiah after the scepter, and then join the two together: namely, by asserting that the Messiah appeared when the scepter departed and that David's house was thus preserved forever. In that way God is found truthful and faithful in his word, covenant, and oath. For it is obvious that the scepter of Judah completely collapsed at the time of Herod, but much more so when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the scepter of Judah. Now if David's house is eternal and God truthful, then the true King of Judah, the Messiah, must have come at that time. No barking, interpreting, or glossing will change this. The text is too authoritative and too clear. If the Jews refuse to admit it, we do not care.
For us it is enough that, first of all, our Christian faith finds here most substantial proof, and that such verses afford me very great joy and comfort that we have such strong testimony also in the Old Testament. Second, we are certain that even the devil and the Jews themselves cannot refute this in their hearts and that in their own consciences they are convinced. This can surely and certainly be noted by the fact that they twist this saying of Jacob concerning the scepter (as they do all of Scripture) in so many ways betraying that they are convinced and won over, and yet refuse to admit it. They are like the devil, who knows very well that God's word is the truth and yet with deliberate malice contradicts and blasphemes it. The Jews feel distinctly that these verses are solid rock and their interpretation nothing but straw or spiderweb. But with willful and malicious resolve they will not admit this; yet they insist on being and on being known as God's people, solely because they are of the blood of the patriarchs. Otherwise they have nothing of which to boast. As to what lineage alone can effect, we have spoken above. It is just as if the devil were to boast that he was of angelic stock, and by reason of this was the only angel and child of God, even though he is really God's foe.
Now that we have considered these verses, let us hear what Jeremiah says. His words sound very strange. For we know that he was a prophet long after the kingdom of Israel had been destroyed and exiled, when only the kingdom of Judah still existed, which itself was soon to go into captivity in Babylon, as he foretold to them and even experienced during his lifetime. Yet despite this, he dares to say in chapter 33:17: "'For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn cereal offerings, and to make sacrifices for ever.'
"The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 'Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers....'
"The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 'Have you not observed what these people are saying, "The Lord has rejected the two families which he chose"? Thus they have despised my people so that they are no longer a nation in their sight. Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his descendants to rule over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes, and will have mercy upon them.'"
What can we say to this? Whoever can interpret it, let him do so. Here we read that not only David but also the Levites will endure forever; and the same for Israel, the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is emphasized that David will have a son who will sit on his throne eternally, just as surely as day and night continue forever. On the other hand, we hear that Israel will be led away into captivity, and also Judah after her, but that Israel will not be brought home again as Judah will be. Tell me, how does all this fit together? God's word cannot lie. Just as God watches over the course of the heavens, so that day and night follow in endless succession, so too David (that is, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), must have a son on his throne uninterruptedly. God himself draws this comparison. It is impossible for the Jews to make sense of it; for they see with their very eyes that neither Israel nor Judah has had a government for nearly fifteen hundred years; in fact Israel has not had one for over two thousand years. Yet God must be truthful, do what we will. The kingdom of David must rule over the seed of Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham, as Jeremiah states here, or Jeremiah is not a prophet but a liar.
We shall let the Jews reconcile and interpret this as they will or can. For us this passage leaves no doubt; it affirms that David's house will endure forever, also the Levites, and Abraham's, Isaac's, and Jacob's seed under the son of David, as long as day and night or as it is otherwise expressed, as long as sun and moon endure. If this is true, then the Messiah must have come when David's house and rule ceased to exist. Thus David's throne assumed more splendor through the Messiah, as we read in Isaiah 9:6: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Pele, Joets, El, Gibbor, Abi-gad, Sar shalom. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore." We may revert to this later, but here we shall refrain from discussing how the blind Jews twist these six names of the Messiah. They accept this verse and admit as they must admit that it speaks of the Messiah. We quote it because Jeremiah states that David's house will rule forever: first through the scepter up to the time of the Messiah, and after that much more gloriously through the Messiah. So it must be true that David's house has not ceased up to this hour and that it will not cease to eternity. But since the scepter of Judah departed fifteen hundred years ago, the Messiah must have come that long ago, or, as we have said above, 1468 years ago. All of this is convincingly established by Jeremiah.
However, some among us may wonder how it is possible that at the time of Jeremiah and then up to the advent of the Messiah the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob existed and remained under the tribe of Judah or the throne of David, even though only Judah remained whereas Israel was exiled. These persons must be informed that the kingdom of Israel was led into captivity and destroyed, that it never returned home and never will return home, but that Israel, or the seed of Israel, always continued to a certain extent under Judah, and that it was exiled with Judah and returned again with her. You may read about this in I Samuel, I Kings 10  and 12, and II Chronicles 30 and 31. Here you will learn that the entire tribe of Benjamin thus a good part of Israel remained with Judah, as well as the whole tribe of Levi together with many members of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, Asher, Isachar, and Zebulun who remained in the country after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel and who held to Hezekiah in Jerusalem and helped to purge the land of Israel of idols. Furthermore, many Israelites dwelt in the cities of Judah.
Since we find so many Israelites living under the rule of the son of David, Teremiah is not lying when he says that Levites and the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be found under the rule of David's house. All of these, or at least a number of them, were taken to Babylon and returned from it with Judah, as Ezra enumerates and recounts. Undoubtedly many more returned of those who were led away under Sennacherib, since the Assyrian or Median kingdom was brought under the Persian rule through Cyrus, so that Judah and Israel were very likely able to join and return together from Babylon to Jerusalem and the land of Canaan. For I know for certain that we find these words in Ezra 2:70: "And all Israel (or all who were there from Israel) lived in their towns." And how could they live there if they had not come back? In the days of Herod and of the Messiah the land was again full of Israelites; for in the seventy weeks of Daniel, that is, in four hundred and ninety years, they had assembled again. However, they did not again establish a kingdom.
Therefore the present-day Jews are very ignorant teachers and indolent pupils of Scripture when they allege that Israel has not yet returned, as though all of Israel would have to return. Actually not all of Judah returned either, but only a small number, as we gather from Ezra's enumeration. The majority of them remained in Babylon, as did Daniel, Nehemiah, and Mordecai themselves. Similarly, the majority of the Israelites remained in Media, though they perhaps traveled to Jerusalem for the high festivals and then returned to their homes again, as Luke writes in the Acts of the Apostles [2:5 ff.]. God never promised that the kingdom or scepter of Israel would be restored like that of Judah. But he did promise this to Judah. The latter had to recover it by virtue of God's promise that he would establish David's house and throne forever and not let it die out. For as Jeremiah declares here, God will not tolerate that anyone slander him by saying that he had rejected Judah and Israel entirely, so that they should no longer be his people and that David's throne should come to an end, as if he had forgotten his promise, when he had promised and pledged to David an eternal house. Even though they would now have to sojourn in Babylon for a little while, still, he says, it will remain an eternal house and kingdom.
I am saying this to honor and to strengthen our faith and to shame the hardened unbelief of the blinded and stubborn Jews, for whom God must ever and eternally be a liar, as though he had let David's house die out and forgotten his covenant and his oath sworn to David. For if they would admit that God is truthful, they would have to confess that the Messiah came fifteen hundred years ago, so that David's house and throne should not be desolate for so long, as they suppose, just because Jerusalem has lain in ashes and has been devoid of David's throne and house so long. For if God kept his promise from the time of David to the Babylonian captivity and from then to the days of Herod when the scepter departed, he must also have kept it subsequently and forever after, or else David's house is not an eternal but a perishable house, which has ceased together with the scepter at the time of Herod.
But as we have already said, God will not tolerate this. No, David's house will be everlasting, like "day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth," as Jeremiah puts it [Jer. 33:25]. However, since the scepter of Judah was lost at the time of Herod, it cannot be eternal unless the son of David, the Messiah, has come, seated himself on David's throne, and become the Lord of the world. If the Jews are correct, then David's house must have been extinct for 1568 years, contrary to God's promise and oath. This it is impossible to believe. Now this is a thorough exposition of the matter, and no Jew can adduce anything to refute it. Outwardly he may pretend that he does not believe it, but his heart and his conscience are devoid of anything to contradict it.
And how could God have maintained the honor of his divine truthfulness, having promised David an eternal house and throne, if he then let it stand desolate longer than intact? Let us figure this out. In the opinion of the Jews, the time from David to Herod covers not quite a thousand years. David's house or throne stood for that length of time, inclusive of the seventy years spent in Babylon. (We would add over one hundred years to this total.) From Herod's time, or rather let us say for this is not far from correct from the destruction of Jerusalem, to the year 1542 there are 1,568 years, as stated above. According to this computation, David's house and throne has been empty four or five hundred years longer than it was occupied. Now inquire of stone and log whether such may be called an eternal house, especially constructed by God and preserved by his sublime faithfulness and truthfulness -- a house that stands for one thousand years and lies in ashes for fourteen or fifteen hundred years!
Though the Jews be as hard or harder than a diamond, the lightning and thunder of such clear and manifest truth should smash, or at least soften, them. But as I said before, our faith is cheered thereby, it is strengthened, it is made sure and certain that we do have the true Messiah, who surely came and appeared at the time when Herod took away the scepter of Judah and the saphra, so that David's house might be eternal and forever have a son upon his throne, as God said and swore to him and made a covenant with him.
Some crafty Jew might try to cast up to me my book against the Sabbatarians, in which I demonstrated that the word "eternally," le-olam, often means not really an eternity, but merely "a long time." Thus Moses says in Exodus 21:6 that the master shall take the slave who wants to stay with him and bore through his ear with an awl on the door, "and he shall serve him eternally." Here the word designates a human eternity, that is, a lifetime. But I also said in the same treatise that when God uses the word "eternal," it is a truly divine eternity. And he commonly adds another phrase to the effect that it shall not be otherwise, as in Psalm 110:4, "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind." Similarly in Psalm 132:11: "The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back," etc. Wherever such a "not" is added, this means surely eternal and not otherwise. Thus we read in Isaiah 9:7, "Of peace there will be no end." And in Daniel 7:14, "His dominion is an everlasting dominion... and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." This is eternal not before men, who do not live eternally, but before God, who lives eternally.
The promise states that David's house and throne shall be eternal before God. He says: "Before me, before me," a son shall forever sit upon your throne. In Psalm 89:35-37 he also adds the little word "not": "Once for all I have sworn by my holiness, I will not lie to David. His line shall endure for ever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established for ever; it shall stand firm while the skies endure." The last words of David convey the same thought: "He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure." These words "ordered and secure" mean the same as firm, sure, eternal, never-failing. The same applies to the saying of Jacob in Genesis 49:10: "The scepter shall not depart." "Not depart" signifies eternally, until the Messiah comes; and that surely means eternally. For all the prophets assign to the Messiah an eternal kingdom, a kingdom without end.
But if we assume that this refers to a human or temporal eternity or an indefinite period of time (which is impossible), then the meaning would necessarily be as follows: Your house shall be eternal before me, that is, your house shall stand as long as it stands, or for your lifetime. This would pledge and promise David the equivalent of exactly nothing; for even in the absence of such an oath David's house would stand "eternally," that is, as long as it stands, or as long as he lives. But let us dismiss such nonsense from our minds, which would occur to none but a blinded rabbi. When Scripture glories in the fact that God did not want to destroy Judah because of the sins committed under Rehoboam, but that a lamp should remain to David, as God has promised him regarding his house (II Kings 8:19), it shows that all understood the word "eternal" in its true sense.
Someone might also cite here the instance of the Maccabees. After Antiochus the Noble had ruthlessly ravaged the people and the country, so that the princes of the house of David became extinct, the Maccabees ruled, who were not of the house of David but of the tribe of the priests, which meant that the scepter had departed from Judah and that a son of David did not sit eternally on the throne of David. Thus the eternal house of David could not be really eternal. We reply: The Jews cannot disturb us with this argument, and we need not answer them; for none of this is found in Scripture, because Malachi is the last prophet and Nehemiah the last historian, who, as we can gather from his book, lived until the time of Alexander. Therefore both parties must rely, so far as this question is concerned, on Jeremiah's statement that a son of David was to occupy his throne or rule forever. For apart from Scripture, whoever wants to concern himself with this may regard it as an open question whether the Maccabees themselves ruled or whether they served the rulers. As to the reliability of the historians, we shall have some comments later on.
It seems to me, however, that the following incident recorded in Scripture should not be treated lightly. At the time of Queen Athaliah, for fully six years no son of David occupied his throne; she, Athaliah the tyrant, reigned alone. She had had all the male descendants of David slain, with the single exception of Joash, an infant a quarter or a half year old, who had been secretly removed, hidden in the temple, and reared by the excellent Jehosheba, the wife of the high priest Jehoiada, daughter of King Joram and sister of King Ahaziah, whom Jehu slew. Here the eternal covenant of God made with David was in great peril indeed, resting on one young lad in hiding, who was far from occupying the throne of David. At this time his house resembled a dark lantern in which the light is extinguished, since a foreign queen, a Gentile from Sidon, was sitting and reigning on David's throne. However, she burned her backside thoroughly on that throne!
Still, all of this did not mean that the scepter had departed or that God's eternal covenant was broken. For even if the light of David was not shining brightly at this time, it was still glimmering in that child Joash, who would again shine brightly in the future and rule. He was already born as a son of David, and these six years were nothing but a tentatio, a temptation. God often gives the appearance that he is unmindful of his word and is failing us. This he did with Abraham when he commanded him to burn to ashes his dear son Isaac, in whom, after all, God's promise of the eternal seed was embodied. Likewise when he led the children of Israel from Egypt. In fact, he seemed to be leading them into death, with the sea before them, high cliffs on both sides, and the enemy at their back blocking their way of escape. But matters proceeded according to God's word and promises; the sea had to open, move, and make way for them. If the sea had not done this, then the cliffs would have had to split asunder and make a path for them, and they would have squeezed and squashed Pharaoh between them, just as the sea drowned the foe. For all creatures would rather have to perish a thousand thousand times than that God's word should fail and deceive, however strange things may appear. Thus Joash is king through and in God's word, and occupies the throne of David before God although he still lies in the cradle, yes, even if he lay dead and buried under the ground; for in spite of all he would have to rise, like Isaac, from the ashes.
In such a manner we might also account for that story of the Maccabees; but this is unnecessary, for it has an entirely different meaning. The Babylonian captivity might be viewed similarly; however, thanks to splendid prophets and miracles, the situation at that time was much brighter. But Joash posed a terrible temptation for the house of David, against the covenant and the oath of God, although the house and rule of David still flourished; it was only the ruler, or the head, that was suffering and that faltered in God's covenant. But this is the manner of his divine grace, that he sometimes plays and jokes with his own. He hides himself and disguises himself so that he may test us to see whether we will remain firm in faith and love toward him, just as a father sometimes does with his children. Such jesting of our heavenly Father pains us immeasurably, since we do not understand it. However, this is out of place here.
We have been speaking about a statement of Jeremiah. We will now turn our attention to one of the last prophets. In Haggai 2:6-9 we read: "For thus says the Lord of hosts: once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, so that the consolation of the Gentiles (chemdath) shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The splendor of this latter house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts."
This is another of those passages which pains the Jews intensely. They test it, twist it, interpret and distort almost every word, just as they do the statement of Jacob in Genesis 49. But it does not help them. Their conscience pales before this passage; it senses that their glosses are null and void. Lyra does well when he plies them hard with the phrase adhuc modicum, "in a little while." They cannot elude him, as we shall see. "In a little while," he says, cannot possibly mean a long period of time. Lyra is surely right here; no one can deny it, not even a Jew, try as hard as he may. In a little while, he says, the Consolation of the Gentiles will come, after this temple is built -- that is, he will come when this temple is still standing. And the splendor of this latter temple will be greater than that of the former. And this will happen shortly, i.e., "in a little while."
For it is easily understood that if the consolation of the Gentiles, whom the ancients interpret as the Messiah, did not come while that temple was still standing, but is still to come (the Jews have been waiting 1568 years already since the destruction of that temple, and this cannot be termed "a little while," especially since they cannot foresee the end of this long time), then he will never come, for he neglected to come in this little, short time, and now has entered upon the great, long time, which will never result in anything. For the prophet speaks of a short, not a long time.
But they extricate themselves from this difficulty as follows. Since they cannot ignore the words "in a little while," they take up and crucify the expression "consolation of the Gentiles," in Hebrew *chemdath,* just as they did earlier with the words shebet and shiloh in the saying of Jacob. They insist that this term does not refer to the Messiah, but that it designates the gold and silver of all the Gentiles. Grammatically, the word chemdath really means desire or pleasure; thus it would mean that the Gentiles have a desire for or take pleasure and delight in something. So the text must read thus: In a short time the desire of all Gentiles will appear. And what does this mean? What do the Gentiles desire? Gold, silver, gems! You may ask why the Jews make this kind of gloss here. I will tell you. Their breath stinks with lust for the Gentiles' gold and silver; for no nation under the sun is greedier than they were, still are, and always will be, as is evident from their accursed usury. So they comfort themselves that when the Messiah comes he will take the gold and silver of the whole world and divide it among them. Therefore, wherever they can quote Scripture to satisfy their insatiable greed, they do so outrageously. One is led to believe that God and his prophets knew of nothing else to prophesy than of ways and means to satisfy the bottomless greed of the accursed Jews with the Gentiles' gold and silver.
However, the prophet has not chosen his words properly to accord with this greedy understanding. He should have said: In a little while the desire of the Jews shall come. For the Jews are the ones who desire gold and silver more avidly than any other nation on earth. In view of that, the text should more properly speak of the desire of the Jews than of the Gentiles. For although the Gentiles do desire gold and silver, nevertheless here are the Jews who desire and covet this desire of the Gentiles, who desire that it be brought to them so that they may devour it and leave nothing for the Gentiles. Why? Because they are the noble blood, the circumcised saints who have God's commandments and do not keep them, but are stiff-necked, disobedient, prophet-murderers, arrogant, usuers, and filled with every vice, as the whole of Scripture and their present conduct bear out. Such saints, of course, are properly entitled to the Gentiles' gold and silver. They honestly and honorably deserve it for such behavior -- just as the devil deserves paradise and heaven.
Further, how does it happen that such very intelligent teachers and wise, holy prophets do not also apply the word "desire" (chemdath) to all the other desires of the Gentiles? For the Gentiles desire not only gold and silver but also pretty girls, and the women desire handsome young men. Wherever we find among the Gentiles anything other than Jews (I almost said "misers"), who will not bestow any good on their bodies, they desire also beautiful houses, gardens, cattle, and property, as well as good times, clothes, food, drink, dancing, playing, and all sorts of enjoyment. Why, then, do the Jews not interpret this verse of the prophet to mean that such desires of all the Gentiles also will shortly come to Jerusalem, so that the Jews alone might fill their bellies and feast on the world's joys? For such a mode of life Muhammad promises his Saracens. In that respect he is a genuine Jew, and the Jews are genuine Saracens according to this interpretation.
The Gentiles have another desire. How could these wise, clever interpreters overlook it? I am surprised at it. The Gentiles die, and they are afflicted with much sickness, poverty, and all kinds of distress and fear. There is not one of them who does not most ardently wish that he did not have to die, that he could avoid need, misery, and sickness, or be quickly freed from them and secure against them. This desire is so pronounced that they would gladly surrender all others for its fulfillment, as experience shows daily. Why, then, do the Jews not explain that such desire of all the Gentiles will also come to the temple in Jerusalem in a little while? Shame on you, here, there, or wherever you may be, you damned Jews, that you dare to apply this earnest, glorious, comforting word of God so despicably to your mortal, greedy belly, which is doomed to decay, and that you are not ashamed to display your greed so openly. You are not worthy of looking at the outside of the Bible, much less of reading it. You should read only the bible that is found under the sow's tail, and eat and drink the letters that drop from there. That would be a bible for such prophets, who root about like sows and tear apart like pigs the words of the divine Majesty, which should be heard with all honor, awe, and joy.
Furthermore, when the prophet says that "the splendor of this latter house shall be greater than the former," let us listen to the noble and filthy (I meant to say, circumcised ) saints and wise prophets who want to make Jews of us Christians. The greater splendor of the latter temple compared to the former consists [they say] in this: that it (that is, the temple of Haggai) stood ten years longer than the temple of Solomon, etc. Alas, if they had only had a good astronomer who could have worked out the time a little more precisely. Perhaps he would have found the difference between the two to be three months, two weeks, five days, seven hours, twelve minutes, and ten half-minutes over and above the ten years. If there were a store anywhere that offered blushes for sale, I might give the Jews a few florins to go and buy a pound of them to smear over their forehead, eyes, and cheeks, if they would refuse to cover their impudent heart and tongue with them. Or do these ignorant, stupid asses suppose that they are talking to sticks and blocks like themselves?
There were many old, gray men and women, very likely also beggars and villains in Jerusalem when Solomon, a young man of twenty years, became a glorious king. Should these, for that reason, be more glorious than Solomon? Perhaps David's mule, on which Solomon became king, was older than Solomon. Should he by reason of that be greater than Solomon? But thus those will bump their heads, stumble, and fall who incessantly give God the lie and claim that they are in the right. They deserve no better fate than to compose such glosses on the Bible, such foolishness and ignominy. This they indeed do most diligently. Therefore, dear Christian, be on your guard against the Jews, who, as you discover here, are consigned by the wrath of God to the devil, who has not only robbed them of a proper understanding of Scripture, but also of ordinary human reason, shame, and sense, and only works mischief with Holy Scripture through them. Therefore they cannot be trusted and believed in any other matter either, even though a truthful word may drop from their lips occasionally. For anyone who dares to juggle the awesome word of God so frivolously and shamefully as you see it done here, and as you also noted earlier with regard to the words of Jacob, cannot have a good spirit dwelling in him. Therefore, wherever you see a genuine Jew, you may with a good conscience cross yourself and bluntly say: "There goes a devil incarnate."
These impious scoundrels know very well that their ancient predecessors applied this verse of Haggai to the Messiah, as Lyra, Burgensis, and others testify.  And still they wantonly depart from this and compose their own Bible out of their own mad heads, so that they hold their wretched Jews with them in their error, in violation of their conscience and to our vexation. They think that in this way they are hurting us greatly, and that God will reward them wherever for his sake (as they imagine) they have opposed us Gentiles even in open, evident truth. But what happens, as you have seen, is that they disgrace themselves and do not harm us, and further, forfeit God and his Scripture.
Thus the verse reads: "Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land (these are the islands of the sea) and the *chemdath* of all Gentiles shall come"_that is, the Messiah, the Desire of all Gentiles, which we translated into German with the word *Trost* ["consolation"]. The word "desire" does not fully express this thought, since in German it reflects the inward delight and desire of the heart (active). But here the word designates the external thing (passive) which a heart longs for. It would surely not be wrong to translate it with "the joy and delight of all Gentiles." In brief, it is the Messiah, who would be the object of displeasure, disgust, and abomination for the unbelieving and hardened Jews, as Isaiah 53 prophesies. The Gentiles, on the other hand, would bid him welcome as their heart's joy, delight, and every wish and desire. For he brings them deliverance from sin, death, devil, hell, and every evil, eternally. This is indeed, the Gentiles' desire, their heart's delight, joy, and comfort.
This agrees with the saying of Jacob in Genesis 49:10, "And to Shiloh (or the Messiah) shall be the obedience of the peoples." That is to say, they will receive him gladly, hear his word and be come his people, without coercion, without the sword. It is as if he wished to say: The ignoble, uncircumcised Gentiles will do this, but my noble rascals, my circumcised, lost children will not do it, but will rather rave and rant against it. Isaiah 2:2 and Micah 4:1] also agree with this: "It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it (doubtless voluntarily, motivated by desire and joy) and many people shall come, and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his path.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Thus the prophets speak throughout of the kingdom of the Messiah established among the Gentiles.
Yes, this is it, this is the bone of contention, that is the source of the trouble, that makes the Jews so angry and foolish and spurs them to arrive at such an accursed meaning, forcing them to pervert all the statements of Scripture so shamefully: namely, they do not want, they cannot endure that we Gentiles should be their equal before God and that the Messiah should be our comfort and joy as well as theirs. I say, before they would have us Gentiles whom they incessantly mock, curse, damn, defame, and revile share the Messiah with them, and be called their co-heirs and brethren, they would crucify ten more Messiahs and kill God himself if this were possible, together with all angels and all creatures, even at the risk of incurring thereby the penalty of a thousand hells instead of one. Such an incomprehensibly stubborn pride dwells in the noble blood of the fathers and circumcised saints. They alone want to have the Messiah and be masters of the world. The accursed Goyim must be servants, give their desire (that is, their gold and silver) to the Jews, and let themselves be slaughtered like wretched cattle. They would rather remain lost consciously and eternally than give up this view.
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