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St. Augustine - On the Jews

St. Augustine - On the Jews

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10/24/2013

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St. Augustine
City of God 
Book XVI, Chapter 31 - Of Isaac, Who Was Born According to the Promise, WhoseName Was Given on Account of the Laughter of Both Parents.
After these things a son was born to Abraham, according to God’s promise, of Sarah, andwas called Isaac, which means
laughter 
. For his father had laughed when he was promisedto him, in wondering delight, and his mother, when he was again promised by those threemen, had laughed, doubting for joy; yet she was blamed by the angel because that laughter,although it was for joy, yet was not full of faith. Afterwards she was confirmed in faith bythe same angel. From this, then, the boy got his name. For when Isaac was born and called by that name, Sarah showed that her laughter was not that of scornful reproach, but that o joyful praise; for she said, “God hath made me to laugh, so that every one who hears willlaugh with me.” Then in a little while the bond maid was cast out of the house with her son; and, according to the apostle, these two women signify the old and new covenants— Sarah representing that of the Jerusalem which is above, that is, the city of God.
Book XVI, Chapter 35 - What Was Indicated by the Divine Answer About the TwinsStill Shut Up in the Womb of Rebecca Their Mother.
Let us now see how the times of the city of God run on from this point among Abraham’sdescendants. In the time from the first year of Isaac’s life to the seventieth, when his sonswere born, the only memorable thing is, that when he prayed God that his wife, who was barren, might bear, and the Lord granted what he sought, and she conceived, the twins leaptwhile still enclosed in her womb. And when she was troubled by this struggle, andinquired of the Lord, she received this answer: “Two nations are in your womb, and twotypes of people shall be separated from you; and the one people shall overcome the other  people, and the elder shall serve the younger.” The Apostle Paul would have us understandthis as a great instance of grace; for the children being not yet born, neither having doneany good or evil, the younger is chosen without doing anything good to deserve it, and theelder is rejected, when beyond doubt, as regards original sin, both were alike, and asregards actual sin, neither had any. … Only that saying, “The elder shall serve theyounger,” is understood by our writers, almost without exception, to mean that the elder  people, the Jews, shall serve the younger people, the Christians. And truly, although thismight seem to be fulfilled in the Idumean nation, which was born of the elder (who had twonames, being called both Esau and Edom, whence the name Idumeans), because it wasafterwards to be overcome by the people which sprang from the younger, that is, by theIsraelites, and was to become subject to them; yet it is more suitable to believe that, when itwas said, “The one people shall overcome the other people, and the elder shall serve theyounger,” that prophecy meant some greater thing; and what is that except what isevidently fulfilled in the Jews and Christians.
 
Book XVII, Chapter 7—Of the Disruption of the Kingdom of Israel, by Which thePerpetual Division of the Spiritual from the Carnal Israel Was Prefigured.
Again Saul sinned through disobedience, and again Samuel says to him in the word of theLord, “Because you have despised the word of the Lord, the Lord has despised you, thatyou may not be king over Israel.” And again for the same sin, when Saul confessed it, and prayed for pardon, and besought Samuel to return with him to appease the Lord, he said, “Iwill not return with you: for you have despised the word of the Lord, and the Lord willdespise you that you may not be king over Israel. And Samuel turned his face to go away,and Saul laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and tore it. And Samuel said to him, TheLord has ripped the kingdom from Israel out of your hand this day, and will give it to your fellow, who is better than you, and will divide Israel in two. And He will not be changed,neither will He repent: for He is not as a man, that He should repent; who threatens anddoes not persist.” He to whom it is said, “The Lord will despise you that thou may not beking over Israel,” and “The Lord has ripped the kingdom from Israel out of your hand thisday,” reigned forty years over Israel, - that is, just as long a time as David himself, - yetheard this in the first period of his reign, that we may understand it was said because noneof his race was to reign, and that we may look to the race of David, whence also is sprung,according to the flesh, the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus......We see that this sentence concerning this division of the people of Israel, divinely utteredin these words, has been altogether irremediable and quite perpetual. For whoever haveturned, or are turning, or shall turn from there to Christ, it has been according to theforeknowledge of God, not according to the one and the same nature of the human race.Certainly none of the Israelites, who, cleaving to Christ, have continued in him, shall ever  be among those Israelites who persist in being his enemies even to the end of this life, butshall for ever remain in the separation which is here foretold. For the Old Testament, fromthe Mount Sinai, which originates in bondage, profits nothing, unless because it bearswitness to the New Testament. Otherwise, however long the Book of Moses is read, theveil is put over their heart; but when any one shall turn from there to Christ, the veil shall be taken away. For the very desire of those who turn is changed from the old to the new,so that each no longer desires to obtain carnal but spiritual happy. Wherefore that great prophet Samuel himself, before he had anointed Saul, when he had cried to the Lord foIsrael, and He had heard him, and when he had offered a whole burnt-offering, as the alienswere coming to battle against the people of God, and the Lord thundered above them andthey were confused, and fell before Israel and were overcome; [then] he took one stone andset it up between the old and new Miztpeh, and called its name Even-ezer, which means“the stone of the helper,” and said, “Up to this time has the Lord helped us.” Mitzpeh isinterpreted “desire.” That stone of the helper is the mediation of the Savior, by which wego from the old Mitzpeh to the new, - that is, from the desire with which carnal happinesswas expected in the carnal kingdom to the desire with which the truest spiritual happinessis expected in the kingdom of heaven; and since nothing is better than that, the Lord helpsus up to this time.
Book XVIII, Chapter 46—Of the Birth of Our Savior, Whereby the Word Was MadeFlesh; And of the Dispersion of the Jews Among All Nations, as Had Been Prophesied.
 
While Herod, therefore, reigned in Judea, and Caesar Augustus was emperor at Rome, thestate of the republic being already changed, and the world being set at peace by him, Christwas born in Bethlehem of Judah, man manifest out of a human virgin, God hidden out of God the Father. For so had the prophet foretold: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive in thewomb, and bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which, beinginterpreted, is, God with us.” [ Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23] He did many miracles thatHe might commend God in himself, some of which, even as many as seemed sufficient to proclaim him, are contained in the evangelic Scripture. The first of these is, that he was sowonderfully born, and the last, that with his body raised up again from the dead heascended into heaven. But the Jews who slew him, and would not believe in him, because itwas to his benefit to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans,and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, andwere dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), andare thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the propheciesabout Christ. And very many of them, considering this, even before his passion, but chieflyafter his resurrection, believed on him, of whom it was predicted, “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved.” [Isaiah 10:22and Romans 9:27-28] But the rest are blinded, of whom it was predicted, “Let their table bemade before them a trap, and a retribution, and a stumbling-block. Let their eyes bedarkened lest they see, and bow down their back always.” [Psalm 69:22-23 and Romans9:9-10] Therefore, when they do not believe our Scriptures, their own, which they blindlyread, are fulfilled in them, lest perchance any one should say that the Christians haveforged these prophecies about Christ which are quoted under the name of the sibyl, or of others, if such there be, who do not belong to the Jewish people. For us, indeed, thosesuffice which are quoted from the books of our enemies, to whom we make our acknowledgment, on account of this testimony, which, in spite of themselves, theycontribute by their possession of these books, while they themselves are dispersed amongall nations, wherever the Church of Christ is spread abroad. For a prophecy about this thingwas sent before in the Psalms, which they also read, where it is written, “My God, Hismercy shall prevent me. My God has shown me concerning mine enemies, that You shallnot slay them, lest they should at last forget Your law: disperse them in Your might.”[Psalm 69:10-11] Therefore God has shown the Church in her enemies the Jews thegrace of His compassion, since, as said the apostle, “their offense is the salvation of theGentiles.” [Romans 11:11] And therefore He has not slain them, that is, He has not let theknowledge that they are Jews be lost in them, although they have been conquered by theRomans, lest they should forget the law of God, and their testimony should be of no availin this matter of which we treat. But it was not enough that he should say, “Slay them not,lest they should at last forget Your law,” unless he had also added, “Disperse them;” because if they had only been in their own land with that testimony of the Scriptures, andnot every where, certainly the Church which is everywhere could not have had them aswitnesses among all nations to the prophecies which were sent before concerning Christ.
On Christian Doctrine

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