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MESSENGER OF DIVINE BENEVOLENCE.
Psalm xl. 6-10.
1. Sacrifice and offering thou hast no delight in:
Then a body thou hast prepared for me.
Then I said, Behold, I come!
To execute thy pleasure, O God, I do delight;
Behold, my lips I will not restrain;
heart: Thy faithfulness and thy salvation I have spoken: I have not hid thy mercy and thy truth from the great
Many interesting truths present themselves, on the attentive reading of this passage; but to point out which, is not a part of our present duty. I envy not the intellect or the modesty of those who can say
before the world, that they regard this Psalm as a description of the character and resolutions of Jeremiah!-I must despair of ever acquiring consistent knowledge, or satisfaction on any subject of rational inquiry; I must give up the first principles of evidence as to prophecy and inspiration, and, renouncing all sober rules of interpretation, commit myself to the extravagance of fancy and arbitrary dictates ;-if this be not a clear and characteristic description of the Messiah.
* See Note [A] at the end of this Section.
That glorious Person is represented as, in a state of pre-existence to his appearance among mortals, contemplating with supreme joy the designs of divine benevolence, glowing with holy ardour to bear his part in the gracious plan, and ready to assume that human form which, in the appointed time, would be prepared and adapted for this all-important design. His own declaration is in exact coincidence with this prophetic description: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent
Note [A] p. 226.
Dr. Kennicott rendered a valuable service to scripture criticism, in shewing that this Psalm ends with v. 11. of the Hebrew, or v. 10. of the English numeration; and that the remaining verses, beginning, “Withhold not thou thy tender mercies,”—are a totally distinct Psalm, and a complete copy of that which in a decapitated state is placed as Ps. lxx. So Ps. xiv. and liii. are different editions of the same; and Ps. cviii. is made up by joining two portions from the lvii. and the lx. These undeniable instances shew that the very ancient Jewish collectors and editors of this book of divine hymns, were either careless or injudicious.
L. 2. We are here compelled to encounter the long-agitated problem, to decide between, or to reconcile, the present Hebrew text, and that of the Lxx. and the New Testament in Heb. x. 5. The former has literally, “ Ears thou hast prepared for me; or (by very allowably taking the prefix and substantive pronoun is as a possessive in apposition with win, and by admitting a secondary and not perfectly established acceptation
“ Mine ears hast thou opened.” The latter read, body hast thou prepared for me.” On this difficulty the following observations are submitted.
(1.) Any reference to the supposed Syrochaldaic original of
66 A the
the Ep. to the Hebrews, and conjecture that the Greek translator might quit his original for the sake of following the Lxx. version, is nugatory : for, in v. 10. the writer reasons upon reading, “ a bouy." In cases where a particular word or clause is not the point under attention, but is only a continuous part of the structure of a sentence cited in the N. T. out of the Old, it may perhaps be admitted that a N. T. writer would quote according to the Lxx. though that version contained, in such instance, an immaterial inaccuracy; but this solution can have no place here.
(2.) Between the two suppositions,—that the writer of the Epistle has quoted scripture erroneously, and upon the very error has founded doctrinal positions;—and that, at a period subsequent to the making of the Greek translation of the Lxx. and even the writing of the N. T. some Jewish transcriber, whether by mistake or from design to injure the Christian cause, committed an error in three letters whose shapes are not very dissimilar ;-between these two suppositions, no man can hesitate, who believes in the divine inspiration, or even in the common integrity and knowledge of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
(3.) The difference between the two readings, when represented to the eye, is so slight that a careless or hasty copyist might easily mistake the one for the other.
(4.) The verb 7777 properly signifies to prepare, to obtain ; and is applied to different modes of acquiring an object; as the obtaining by purchase, and then it is rendered, to buy (Deut. ii. 6.), or the obtaining by manual labour, in which sense it is applied to the making of a pit, a cavern, or a grave; and, in these connections, translators have commonly rendered it, to dig. But it may be justly questioned whether digging can be regarded as the meaning of the word in itself. It is applied in the same manner to the preparing of a feast (2 Kings vi. 23.), but no philologist has affirmed that it signifies to cook; yet this would
; be equally true as that, in other connections, it signifies to dig.-
In the passages where the law is given of indenting to servitude for life by the ceremony of boring the ear, this word is never used. See Ex. xxi. 6. Deut. xv. 17.
(5.) The remains of the Old Italic Version, made in the first or second century, and the Æthiopic, made certainly at a very early period (see Walton's Prolegomena), having been both from the Lxx. confirm the genuineness of its present reading. The Syriac Version of the 0. T. was made from the Hebrew, and is of very high antiquity, probably of the apostolic age or earlier. As it stands in le Jay's and Walton's Polyglotts, it agrees
with the common Hebrew: but a MS. of this Vers. in the Royal Library at Paris, and another at Milan, both of great antiquity, have the reading, a body.” One, in the Bodleian, unites both readings; as does the Arabic in Walton's Polyglott. See Kennic. Diss. Gen. § 18, 77, 88. Pierce on Heb. x. 5. Hallet's Notes on SS. vol. ii.
1. From the united force of these considerations, my mind is satisfied that the true and ORIGINAL reading of the passage
is that of the Septuagint and the New Testament, “ a body thou hast prepared for me."
It is fair, however, to observe that some distinguished scholars and divines, among whom are Nicolas Fuller, James Alting, Dr. John Owen, Frischmuth, and the two Rosenmüllers, have maintained that the present Hebrew reading is genuine, and that the other is an interpretation or paraphrase upon it. The note of the elder Rosenmüller will explain the hypothesis.
The translator of the Lxx. Vers. understood 7770 in the sense of preparing, as in Deut. ii. 6. 2 Kings vi. 23, Hos. iii. 2. and DIN ears, he supposed to be put by synecdoche for the whole body. It is of no importance to offer any other conjectures about the cause of this reading in the Greek Vers. The words of the Hebrew text come to the same sense: for mine ears thou. hast bored or opened, is the same as, thou hast rendered me obedient to thee. So, in Is. i. 5, • The Lord hath opened mine ear.' In the like sense is used nba to uncover the ear, i. e. to communicate information, as 1 Sam. xx. 2.
God is said to open the ear, when he causes men first to give attention to his admonitions and commands, and then to comply with them. The expression, ' a body hast thou prepared me,' is to be understood