The Nazarene Commentary on Isaiah

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Isaiah 8:14

“He (God) will be a sanctuary, but for both houses of Israel, he will be a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

Jerome writes, “The Nazarenes, who accept Messiah in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old law, explain the two houses as the two families, viz. of Shammai and Hillel, from whom originated the Scribes and the Pharisees. Akiba, who took over their school, is called the master of Aquila the proselyte, and after him came Meir who has been succeeded by Joannes the son of Zakkai and after him Eliezer and further Telphon, and next Joseph Galilaeus and Joshua up to the capture of Jerusalem. Shammai then and Hillel were born not long before the Master, they originated in Judea. The name of the first means scatterer and of the second unholy, because he scattered and defiled the precepts of the Law by his traditions and mishnah. And these are the two houses who did not accept the savior who has become to them ruin and scandal.”

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Isaiah 8:20-22

“Turn to the Torah and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, surely there is no morning for them. They will pass through it, very distressed and hungry; and it will happen that when they are hungry, they will worry, and curse by their king and by their God. They will turn their faces upward, and look to the earth, and see distress, darkness, and the gloom of anguish. They will be driven into thick darkness.”

Jerome writes, “For the rest the Nazarenes explain the passage in this way: When the scribes and the Pharisees tell you to listen to them, men who do everything for the love of the belly and who hiss during their incantations in the way of the magicians in order to deceive you, you must answer them like this: “It is not strange if you follow your traditions since every tribe consults its own idols. We must not, therefore, consult your dead about the living ones. On the contrary, God has given us the Torah and the testimonies of the scriptures. If you are not willing to follow them you shall not have light, and the darkness will always oppress you. It will cover your earth and your doctrine so that, when you see that they have been deceived by you in error and they feel a longing for the truth, they will then be sad or angry. And let them who believe themselves to be like their own gods and kings curse you. And let them look at the heaven and the earth in vain since they are always in darkness and they can not flee away from your ambushes.”

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Isaiah 9:1-4

“But there shall be no more gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time, he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the latter time he has made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who lived in the land of the shadow of death, on them the light has shined. You have multiplied the nation. You have increased their joy. They rejoice before you according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as in the day of Midian.”

Jerome writes, “The Nazarenes, whose opinion I have set forth above, try to explain this passage in the following way: When the Messiah came and his preaching shone out, the land of Zebulon and Naphtali first of all were freed from the errors of the Scribes and Pharisees and he shook off their shoulders the very heavy yoke of the Jewish traditions. Later, however the preaching became more dominant, that means the preaching was multiplied, through the Gospel of the apostle Paul who was the last of all the apostles. And the Gospel of the Messiah shone to the most distant tribes and the way of the whole sea. Finally the whole world, which earlier walked or sat in darkness and was imprisoned in the bonds of idolatry and death, has seen the clear light of the Gospel.”

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Isaiah 29:20-21

“For the ruthless is brought to nothing, and the scoffer ceases, and all those who are alert to do evil are cut off— who cause a person to be indicted by a word, and lay a snare for the arbiter in the gate, and who deprive the innocent of justice with false testimony.”

Jerome writes, “What we have understood to have been written about the devil and his angels, the Nazarenes believe to have been said against the Scribes and the Pharisees, because the Tannaim passed away, who earlier deceived the people with very vicious traditions (and they watched day and night to deceive the simple ones), who made men sin against the Word of God in order that they should deny that Messiah was the Son of God.”

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Isaiah 31:6-9

“Return to Him from whom you have deeply revolted, children of Israel. For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold— sin which your own hands have made for you. ‘The Assyrian will fall by the sword, not of man; and the sword, not of mankind, shall devour him. He will flee from the sword, and his young men will become subject to forced labor. His rock will pass away by reason of terror, and his princes will be afraid of the banner,’ says YHWH, whose fire is in Zion, and His Furnace in Jerusalem. ”

Jerome writes, “The Nazarenes understand this passage in this way: O Son of Israel, who deny the Son of God with a most vicious opinion, turn to him and his emissaries. For if you will do this, you will reject all idols which to you were a cause of sin in the past, and the devil will fall before you, not because of your powers, but because of the compassion of God. And his young men, who at a certain time earlier fought for him, will be the tributaries of the community and any of his power and stone will pass. Also the philosophers and every perverse dogma will turn their backs to the sign of the cross. Because this is the meaning of YHWH that His will take place, whose fire of light is in Zion and His oven in Jerusalem.”

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