Jun 28, 2019

Cyril of Alexandria, Jacob and Esau, and the Future of Israel

Recently while working on Genesis 33, I came upon this interesting quote attributed to Cyril of Alexandria (AD 378-444).
"At the end of time our Lord Jesus Christ will be reconciled with Israel, his ancient persecutor, just as Jacob kissed Esau after his return from Haran. No one who listens to the words of holy Scripture can actually doubt that with the passing of time Israel also will have to be received again into the love of Christ through faith. The Lord proclaims to everybody through the voice of one of the holy prophets: “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an altar, and without priesthood and without manifestations. And afterward the children of Israel shall return and shall seek the Lord, their God, and David, their king, and shall be amazed at the Lord and at his goodness in the latter days.” While Christ, the Savior of us all, gathers believers from the nations, Israel is deserted, since it has no law to elect its leaders, and it cannot offer to the divine altar the sacrifices prescribed by the laws. It therefore awaits Christ’s return from his action of converting the nations, so that he may receive it as well and unite it with the law of his love to the others. See how Jacob, who rejoiced in the generation of his children and in his numerous herds of sheep, came back from Haran and received again Esau into his friendship. In time Israel itself will be converted after the calling of the nations and will admire these riches in Christ" (Glaphyra on Genesis 5.3). 
Although, I don't think this allegorical reading of Genesis 33 is correct but it is interesting that Cyril sees an eschatological future for ethnic Israel. 

Mark Sheridan, ed., Genesis 12–50, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament II, gen. ed. Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002), 225.

No comments: