Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
City of God: Chapter 41
Chapter 41.—Of the Blessing Which Jacob Promised in Judah His Son.
If, on account of the Christian people in whom the city of God sojourns in the earth, we look for the flesh of Christ in the seed of Abraham, setting aside the sons of the concubines, we have Isaac; if in the seed of Isaac, setting aside Esau, who is also Edom, we have Jacob, who also is Israel; if in the seed of Israel himself, setting aside the rest, we have Judah, because Christ sprang of the tribe of Judah. Let us hear, then, how Israel, when dying in Egypt, in blessing his sons, prophetically blessed Judah. He says: “Judah, thy brethren shall praise thee: thy hands shall be on the back of thine enemies; thy fathers children shall adore thee. Judah is a lions whelp: from the sprouting, my son, thou art gone up: lying down, thou hast slept as a lion, and as a lions whelp; who shall awake him? A prince shall not be lacking out of Judah, and a leader from his thighs, until the things come that are laid up for him; and He shall be the expectation of the nations. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his asss foal to the choice vine; he shall wash his robe in wine, and his clothes in the blood of the grape: his eyes are red with wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk.” 971 I have expounded these words in disputing against Faustus the Manichæan; and I think it is enough to make the truth of this prophecy shine, to remark that the death of Christ is predicted by the word about his lying down, and not the necessity, but the voluntary character of His death, in the title of lion. That power He Himself proclaims in the gospel, p. 335 saying, “I have the power of laying down my life, and I have the power of taking it again. No man taketh it from me; but I lay it down of myself, and take it again.” 972 So the lion roared, so He fulfilled what He said. For to this power what is added about the resurrection refers, “Who shall awake him?” This means that no man but Himself has raised Him, who also said of His own body, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 973 And the very nature of His death, that is, the height of the cross, is understood by the single words “Thou are gone up.” The evangelist explains what is added, “Lying down, thou hast slept,” when he says, “He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” 974 Or at least His burial is to be understood, in which He lay down sleeping, and whence no man raised Him, as the prophets did some, and as He Himself did others; but He Himself rose up as if from sleep. As for His robe which He washes in wine, that is, cleanses from sin in His own blood, of which blood those who are baptized know the mystery, so that he adds, “And his clothes in the blood of the grape,” what is it but the Church? “And his eyes are red with wine,” [these are] His spiritual people drunken with His cup, of which the psalm sings, “And thy cup that makes drunken, how excellent it is!” “And his teeth are whiter than milk,” 975 —that is, the nutritive words which, according to the apostle, the babes drink, being as yet unfit for solid food. 976 And it is He in whom the promises of Judah were laid up, so that until they come, princes, that is, the kings of Israel, shall never be lacking out of Judah. “And He is the expectation of the nations.” This is too plain to need exposition.
1 Pet. 2:2, 1 Cor. 3:2.
Next: Chapter 42
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