Fulfilling the Scriptures

The phrase, "that the Scripture might be fulfilled" recurs throughout the New Testament. The most-frequently cited set of prophecies fulfilled in the life and death of Jesus is roughly as

But Matthew (in particular) adds many more examples that are more or less far-fetched by comparison:

On the famous prophecy of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, since Jesus is of the house of David, and the Roman decree was for everyone to go back to his home town for taxation purposes, it would appear that the Romans have a hand in fulfilling the prophecy. It seems to me there is more to it: the stable smacks more of secrecy than improvidence... Speculation aside, the Micah prophecy is riveting stuff.

(Mt 2:6). " 'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah,
For out of you shall come a ruler (Aramaic: King),
who will govern (Aramaic: shepherd) my people Israel.' "

The above is from the RSV NT. However, the full text from Micah 5 is as follows (RSV using Moffat's sequence)

(Micah 5:2). But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
(7) Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples,
like dew from the LORD,
like showers upon the grass,
which tarry not for men
nor wait for the sons of men.
(8) And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations,
in the midst of many peoples,
like a lion among the beasts of the forest,
like a young lion among the flocks of sheep;
which, when it goes through, treads down,
and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver.
(10) And in that day, says the LORD,
I will cut off your horses from among you
and will destroy your chariots;
(11) and I will cut off the cities of your land
and throw down all your strongholds…

This is startling stuff: the prophecy is of enforced peace and diaspora power. Hardly a welcome one, but this is roughly what happens after the destruction of the second Temple. Alternatively, though, we could ignore Moffat's sequence:

(Micah 5:2). But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
(5) and this shall be peace...

It is of course misleading to stop here in mid-sentence, but this is much more in keeping with Matthew's story. Moreover a later hand has inserted Micah 5:3-4

(3) Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in travail has brought forth;
the the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel.
(4) And he shall stand and feed his flock
in the strength of the LORD
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth;

On the related question of the phrase "fulfilling the Law" I quote the following (http://www.roehyisrael.org/):

This thought bears a striking resemblance to Yeshua's remarks in Matt. 5:17-18, which give us further insight into the nature of Torah in both the Messianic Age, and the Age to Come. In verse 17, Yeshua gives us some insight as to why He has come:
Do not think that I come to abolish the Law or the Prophets:
I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

The curious wording of this verse deserves further attention. No observant Jew, of which Yeshua was one, would dare to refer to the destruction or fulfillment of the Law, in terms of either keeping or rejecting it. That particular question is not the subject of the discussion in this verse. But rather these two phrases have their origin in Talmudic discussions, and are used to refer to either the interpretation, or the application of a piece of Talmudic or Torah Law One who correctly interprets the Law, i.e. discerning its true intent and purpose, is said to have "fulfilled the Law." Conversely, a lack of understanding, and/or misapplication of the Law, resulting in the Law bringing about a situation contrary to the will of G*d, is viewed as the destruction of the Law. For example, by declaring an object which could be used by one's parents as "Qorban" [dedicated to G*d]. the commandment to honor one's father and mother is negated.


Malcolm Crowe, Glasgow, 11 June 1998.