“The Time Is Already Past”
DURING the year 1649 there occurred in Venice, Italy, a debate between two Jews over the meaning of the “seventy weeks.” (Dan. 9:24-27) The disputants, one of whom had accepted Christianity, chose as their arbitrator Simone ben Isaac Simhah Luzzatto, senior rabbi of the community. Present at that debate was a pupil of Luzzatto’s, the scholar Samuel ben David Nahmias, together with his brother Joseph. Nahmias writes of the occasion:
“The two antagonists debated courageously at first between themselves. But, as it became clear that the victory inclined openly in favor of the Christian, Luzzatto, who sat in the prominent place as judge of the controversy, suddenly striking both hands on the table, said:
“‘The text under dispute, as you know, has all the best rabbis perplexed and so bewildered that they no longer know whether they are in heaven or on earth.’ And after a few other similar words, having placed his finger to his lips, he added: ‘Let us please be silent, and let us close the books, because if we should speculate any longer upon this prophecy of Daniel, of necessity it will happen that we all become Christians. It cannot be denied, that therein is clearly shown that the Messiah has come, for which the time is already past. As to whether he is Jesus the Nazarene, I do not wish hastily to launch forth my sentiments.’
“In this manner the assembly came to a finish, and with it the affection within myself and my brother toward the Jewish sect, whence both of us arrived at the resolve to embrace the Christian religion.”—“Via Della Fede” [The Way of Faith], by Giulio Morosini (the name adopted by Nahmias after accepting Jesus’ messiahship). Printed at Rome in 1683.