The honor and majesty with which David tells us (Psalm 104) that God
Himself is clothed He will bestow on the Messiah. As it is said,
'His glory is great in Thy salvation, honour and majesty hast Thou laid upon Him.'
(Numbers Rabbah 14)
Messiah in the Midrash
There is a long tradition of midrash (commentary) concerning the Mashiach among the Jewish sages. For example, the Midrash Rabbah includes some of the following passages:
- From the time of creation constant reference is made in Holy Writ to Messiah and the Messianic hope of Israel. 'The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters'; the Spirit of God means Messiah. (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 2; Leviticus Rabbah 14)
- When Eve at the birth of Seth exclaimed, 'God hath appointed me another seed' (Gen. 4:25), her underlying thought was the Messiah (Genesis Rabbah 23).
- 'The sceptre shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet until "Shiloh" come' (Gen. 49:10) refers also to Messiah, who is to enlighten Israel on the words of the Torah, and point out the errors of the people (Genesis Rabbah 98).
Just as Judah, though not the eldest, had always precedence of Reuben and the other tribes (as is to be seen in various parts of the Bible -- Numbers 2:3, 2:9, 7:12; Judges 1:2, 20:18, etc.), so he will have precedence in the coming of Messiah, as foretold by the prophet Nahum (Nahum 1:15; Numbers Rabbah 2).
- Seeing in his spirit of prophecy that the time would come when the משכן 'Mishkan' (the Tabernacle) would cease to exist and the Shechinah dwell no more in Israel's midst, Moses was anxious to know by what means the sins of his people would then be expiated. The Almighty vouchsafed the information that He would choose a righteous man from their midst, and make him a משכן (pledge) for them and through him their sins would be forgiven. (Exodus Rabbah 35)
- Moses, the first redeemer, rode on an ass, gave the Israelites manna for food, and brought up the water. So also shall Messiah be seen riding on an ass (Zech. 9), shall bring down manna from on high (Psalm 78:24), and cause the rivers of Judah to flow with water (Joel 4:18; Midrash Eccles. 1).
- Ruth 2:14 is thus explained by the sages:
'Come thou hither' is the prediction of Messiah's kingdom. 'Dip the morsel in the vinegar,' foretells the agony through which Messiah will pass, as it is written in Isaiah, 'He was wounded for our sins, He was bruised for our transgressions.' 'And she set herself beside the reapers' predicts the temporary departure of Messiah's kingdom. 'And he reached her a parched corn' means the restoration of His kingdom (Midrash Ruth 5).
- When King Solomon speaks of his 'beloved,' he usually means Israel the nation. In one instance he compares his beloved to a roe, and therein he refers to a feature which marks alike Moses and the Messiah, the two redeemers of Israel. Just as a roe comes within the range of man's vision only to disappear from sight and then appear again, so it is with these redeemers. Moses appeared to the Israelites, then disappeared, and eventually appeared once more, and the same peculiarity we have in connexion with Messiah; He will appear, disappear, and appear again (Midrash Numbers Rabbah 11).
- So greatly shall Zion rejoice and so glorious will be the restoration of the Temple service in the days of Messiah, that three additional strings will be required besides the seven that were formerly upon the harps used by the Levites. In this way only will it be possible for the whole people to give expression to the depths of reverence for their God that shall then stir their hearts (Numbers Rabbah 15 and Tanchuma Behalotcho). For, just as all sacrifices were formerly brought to Jerusalem, so in future shall messengers come with offerings to Messiah, and all kings shall prostrate themselves before him (Midrash Esther 1).
- The proper name of Messiah is ה׳ צדקנו (Adonai Tzidkenu - "the Lord our righteousness") Midrash Lamentations 1.
Messiah and New Creation
When God first created the "generations" of the heavens and the earth, the word toldot (תולדות) is used (Gen. 2:4). This refers to created order before the sin and fall of Adam and Eve. After the fall of Adam, however, the word is spelled differently in the Hebrew text, with a missing letter Vav (i.e., as תלדות). Thereafter, each time the phrase, "these are the generations of" occurs in the Scriptures (a formulaic way of enumerating the generations of the heads of families), the word is spelled "defectively," with the missing Vav (ו). The Vav was "lost." However, when we come to Ruth 4:18 the phrase: 'These are the generations of Perez' is spelled with the missing Vav restored (i.e., as תולדות). In all of Scripture, the only two places where we see the restored spelling is in Genesis 2:4 and Ruth 4:18, which leads to the question as to what connection there might be between the creation of the heavens and the earth, the fall of mankind, and the creation of the family line of Perez?
The name "Perez" (פרץ) means "breach" (from paratz, meaning "to break through"). God was going to "break through" the families of mankind in order to restore creation back to its original intent. The letter Vav represents man, and the very first Vav in the Torah is associated with the "first and last" man as seen in Genesis 1:1:
The Restored Vav is a picture of the Mashiach who would would descend from the "generations" of the line of Perez. The genealogy of the descendants of Perez indicated that the promised abolition of death through the work of his descendant the Messiah was drawing near. Just as the original Vav was lost through the first Adam and his sin, so the Vav is restored the obedience of the "Second Adam," the Mashiach Yeshua.
The Meaning of Word "Mashiach"
The word "Messiah" (mashiach) comes from the verb mashach, which means to smear or anoint with oil, usually for the purpose of dedicating or consecrating something (such as a temple vessel) or someone (such as a prophet, priest or king) for the service of Adonai.
Qal 3ms; to anoint or smear with oil; to consecrate.
Occurrences of shoresh in Tanakh: Gen. 31:13; Exod. 28:41; 29:2, 7, 36; 30:26, 30; 40:9ff, 13, 15; Lev. 2:4; 6:13; 7:12, 36; 8:10ff; 16:32; Num. 3:3; 6:15; 7:1, 10, 84, 88; 35:25; Jdg. 9:8, 15; 1 Sam. 9:16; 10:1; 15:1, 17; 16:3, 12f; 2 Sam. 1:21; 2:4, 7; 3:39; 5:3, 17; 12:7; 19:11; 1 Ki. 1:34, 39, 45; 5:15; 19:15f; 2 Ki. 9:3, 6, 12; 11:12; 23:30; 1 Chr. 11:3; 14:8; 29:22; 2 Chr. 22:7; 23:11; Ps. 45:8; 89:21; Isa. 21:5; 61:1; Jer. 22:14; Dan. 9:24; Amos 6:6.
The person (or thing) anointed by God was called mashiach - an "anointed one" or "chosen one":
An anointed/consecrated person or thing. This could be a priest (Lev 4:3), a king (Samuel refers to Saul as the Lord's anointed), or a prophet (1 Kings 19:15-16). M'shichim as divinely chosen agents in the Tanakh include:
- King Saul (1 Sam. 10:1)
- King David (1 Sam 16:11-13, 2 SA 22:50-51)
- King Cyrus: Persian King (Isaiah 45:1)
- The Mashiach of Daniel (Daniel 9:25-26)
The significance of the divine anointing involves:
- Authorized separation for God's service
- God's inviolable choice of the anointed one (1 Sam 24:8ff)
- God's special enablement that accompanies the anointing (1 Sam 10:6ff;
1 Sam 16:13ff)
- The engagement in the coming promised deliverance of Israel (cf. Isa 9:1-7;
Isa 11:1-5; Isa 61:1).
Note that the term mashiach is applied to the priest only as an adjective --"the anointed priest" (Lev 4:3,5,16; 6:22), whereas its substantive use is restricted for the king alone:
The Anointed Priest
The anointed priest (here the word functions as an attributive adjective/participle).
Reference: Lev. 4:3, 5, 16; 6:15.
The Great Mountain
The Messiah is called 'the Great Mountain' because he towers above the Patriarchs, is greater than Moses, and is above the ministering angels. As Isaiah says (52.10), 'Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled and be very high' (Midrash Tanchuma Toldot).
Reference: Zechariah 4:7
The LORD's Anointed
The LORD's anointed one (1 Sam 24:7,11, 2 Sam. 19:22, and Ps. 2:2). This form is reserved for an anointed King. Note that the spelling change indicates the construct relation and expresses possession by the absolute noun, LORD: "The Anointed of the Lord."
His (i.e., Adonai's) Anointed King (Psalm 2:2).
Messiah the Prince
Messiah the Prince who would be cut off (Dan. 9:25). Note that the word "prince" (nagid) is the same word used when God chose David to be king (1 Sam 13:14).
The Righteous Branch (mentioned in Jeremiah 23:5 and Zechariah 6:12). Jewish tradition attests that this is a Title for the Mashiach (Numbers Rabbah 18).
Messianic Hope: The King of the Jews
The concept of the King Messiah, the "Anointed One" who would one day come to deliver his people from oppression at the beginning of an era of world peace has been the sustaining hope of the Jewish people for generations. King Messiah is the instrument by whom God's kingdom is to be established in Israel and in the world. This hope runs throughout the entire Tanakh. This unique Messiah seems to be identified with the Moshia' and would be anointed by God to:
- Restore the Kingdom of David (see, for example, Jer. 23:5, Jer 30:9, Ezek. 34:23)
- Restore the Temple (Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1, Zech. 6:13, Ezekiel 37:26-28)
- Regather the exiles (as described in Isaiah 11:12 and 43:5-6)
- Usher in world peace (Isaiah 2:4)
- Spread Torah knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world -- on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9)
In the Tanakh, the key passage on which the idea of the Messianic king who would rule in righteousness and attain universal dominion is found in Nathan's oracle to David (2 Sam 7:11 ff). This covenant cannot have been fulfilled by Solomon, and therefore the Seed of which the oracle refers is another anointed King who would sit on the throne forever and ever.
Rambam's view of Mashiach
The Medieval rabbi and scholastic philosopher Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, or "Rambam") is considered to be a mainstream voice of traditional Judaism. Maimonides' "Twelfth Principle" of the Jewish faith is his affirmation that the Messiah is coming to restore Israel to greatness beyond that known in the days of King Solomon. "I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though he may delay, nevertheless I wait for his coming every day." The following statement by Maimonides is probably the definitive rendering of the traditional Jewish view on the subject:
If a king will arise from the House of David who is learned in Torah and observant of the mitzvot, as prescribed by the written law and the oral law, as David his ancestor was, and will compel all of Israel to walk in the way of the Torah and reinforce the breaches; and fight the wars of G-d, we may, with assurance, consider him the Messiah. If he succeeds in the above, builds the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Messiah. ... If he did not succeed to this degree or he was killed, he surely is not the redeemer promised by the Torah..." (Mishneh Torah).
The concept of the King Messiah, the "Anointed One" who would one day come to deliver his people from oppression at the beginning of an era of world peace has been the sustaining hope of the Jewish people for generations. King Messiah is the instrument by whom God's kingdom is to be established in Israel and in the world. This hope runs throughout the entire Tanakh. According to rabbinical Judaism (following Maimonides), this Messiah figure is not divine, though he certainly has divine powers and attributes. Indeed, he functions as Israel's Savior who would be empowered by God to:
- Restore the Kingdom of David (Jer. 23:5, Jer 30:9, Ezek. 34:23)
- Restore the Temple in Zion (Isa. 2:2, Micah 4:1, Zech. 6:13, Ezek. 37:26-28)
- Regather the exiles (Isa. 11:12, 43:5-6, 51:11)
- Offer the New Covenant to Israel (Jer. 31:31-34)
- Usher in world peace and the knowledge of the true God (Isa. 2:4; 11:9). This will include the entire world speaking Hebrew (Zeph. 3:9).
- "Swallow up" death and disease (Isa. 25:8)
- Raise the dead to new life (Isa. 26:19)
- Spread Torah knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world -- on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zech. 14:9)
Note: In the Tanakh, the key passage on which the idea of the Messianic king who would rule in righteousness and attain universal dominion is found in Nathan's oracle to David (2 Sam. 7:11 ff). This covenant cannot have been fulfilled by Solomon, and therefore the Seed of which the oracle refers is another anointed King who would sit on the throne forever and ever. (Contrary to the heresies of "Covenant Theology" and "amillenialism," Yeshua is not presently sitting on the throne of David as Zion's King, and therefore the Jewish hope of the Messiah has not been fulfilled, just as the New Covenant terms have not yet been entirely fulfilled.)
In light the two thousand years of exile of the Jewish people during the "Days of the Messiah," various midrashim speak:
And when the flames engulfed the Temple, three young priests went up to its roof and threw the keys of the House of God to heaven. A hand reached down and took the keys.
And the priest said, "How long, O LORD, how long?"
And a heavenly voice answered: "Not longer than two days, my children."
Then they knew that the exile of the Shekhinah and the dispersion of Israel would last two millennia, for it is written, "A thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday" (Psalm 90:4).
And they said before Him: "Master of the world! How can Israel endure two thousand years of suffering?"
And He said to them: "Behold, I give them a ray of hope which will pierce the night of their exile. I will give them one whom they will never see but whose presence they will feel all the time who will never come but will always be at the door; whom they will seek among the lepers in the gates of Rome and in the golden canopy of the supernal Bird's Nest, but who will be found only in their heart of hearts. I will give them him who will not be but who will sustain them. I will give them the Messiah." (Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts, 19)
Dual Aspect of Mashiach
The Tanakh contains seemingly conflicted views of the Mashiach as Israel's Deliverer. On the one hand, Messiah is portrayed as coming in great triumph "in the clouds" (Daniel 7:13), but on the other he comes riding a donkey, lowly and humble (Zechariah 9:9). This "dual aspect" of Messiah lead to the idea that there would be two Messiahs:
Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David.
Messiah son of Joseph
Mashiach ben Yosef.
The Suffering Messiah (Joseph [Gen. 37-50] prefigures). The Messiah from the house of Joseph. One of two Messianic figures which are described in the oral traditions of Judaism. Mashiach ben Yosef is considered to be a forerunner and harbinger of the final deliverer, Mashiach ben David. Mashiach ben Yosef suffers for the sins of Israel (Isaiah 53). Christians see Yeshua as the fulfillment of Mashiach ben Yosef in the Tanakh and the oral tradition. Yeshua the Messiah in His first coming is the Suffering Servant.
"Messiah son of Joseph was slain, as it is written, "They shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son" * Zech xii 10 (Suk. 52a)
The Talmud explains: "The Messiah---what is his name? Those of the house of Rabbi Yuda the saint say, the sick one, as it is said, 'Surely he had borne our sicknesses."* (Sanhedrin 98b)
Referring to Zech 12:10-12, "R. Dosa says: '(They will mourn) over the Messiah who will be slain.' " **(B. Suk. 52a; also Y. Suk. 55b)
"But he was wounded . . . meaning that since the Messiah bears our iniquities which produce the effect of His being bruised, it follows that whosoever will not admit that Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities, must endure and suffer for them himself" ***(Rabbi Elijah de Vidas)
Messiah son of David
Mashiach ben David.
The ruling Messiah King (King David prefigures). The term Mashiach unqualified always refers to Mashiach ben David, a descendant of King David, of the tribe of Judah who will regather the exiles, set up the temple, and deliver Israel from all her enemies. Christians believe Yeshua the Messiah in His second coming will completely fulfill this description of Mashiach ben David.
Today, we can see with our own eyes how the vision of the Prophet Ezekiel, describing the rebirth of the Jewish People and the ingathering of the exiles in Eretz Yisrael, is being fulfilled. It is true that we are now in mid-process. We are still at the stage of being crystallized as a nation....
Yet, our gaze must likewise be trained upon the future and the end of days, the age of Mashiach ben David. At that time, the issue of limited nationalism will pass, and we will turn as well to mankind in the aggregate, serving as a light unto the nations. Each day, in fact, we pray, "Speedily cause the offspring of your servant David to flourish." (Rabbi Dov Begon)
Yeshua is Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David
As Christians, we believe that Yeshua is both Mashiach Ben Yosef (the suffering servant - at His first coming) and Mashiach Ben David (the reigning King - at His second coming)
[see Isaiah 52:13-15 - 53:12, Psalm 22]). He is also the Anointed Prophet, Priest, and King as foreshadowed by other m'shichim in the Tanakh.
Jesus the Messiah
Jesus the Messiah.
David Brown (of AMF International) writes:
It is very common for Jewish objectors to point that "Jesus has not fulfilled all the prophecies," and to scorn the suggestion that some prophecies are for a later time and are to be fulfilled at the "second coming." The fact is, however, that prophecies about Messiah are of two seemingly mutually-exclusive types, as though they were talking about two different Messiahs. Jewish scholarship refers to Messiah ben-David and Messiah ben-Yosef. One is the positive, victorious Messiah who ushers in a kingdom of peace, the other is a suffering servant (as in Isaiah 53). The popular tendency is to think only of ben-David and ignore ben-Yosef, but the Messianic/Christian view accounts for both in one person. Interestingly, these two prophetic strains are named for David and Joseph, both of which suffered first and emerged victorious in the end. Joseph is introduced to us with dreams of grandeur, but he was lost to Israel – actually considered dead – before his dreams came true. Eventually however, he had a "second coming" when he came back into the lives of his brothers who once rejected him. Then they bowed down to him and he became the savior of his people by providing for them in a time of famine. David also, though anointed as King in his youth as far as God was concerned, was rejected by the current King and lived as a fugitive for many years before he finally became the quintessential King of Israel. Both of these historic figures, which Jewish tradition has recognized as being prototypes of Messiah, arrive amid promises, are pushed down, and finally emerge in glory. Shouldn't the ultimate Messiah follow the same pattern?
Attah hu hammashiach ben-Elohim chayim.
"You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God" (Matt. 16:16).
The Birthpangs of the Mashiach
Judaism teaches that the arrival of Mashiach is accompanied by birth pangs, Chevlei Mashiach. This is also sometimes referred to as the "Time of Jacob's Trouble." Note how the following account corresponds with the teaching on the New Testament regarding the Second Coming of Yeshua as Mashiach ben David:
The seven years preceding the coming of the Son of David will be distinguished by the following signs: The first year rain will be scarce and partial; in the second year pangs of hunger will be felt; during the third year a severe famine will be experienced, and many human beings will die; men of renown and piety will perish, so that the Torah will be forgotten in Israel. This famine will be the last of the ten predestined for the world; the other nine occurred during the lives of Adam, Lemech, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Elijah, Elisha, the Judges, and King David. The fourth year will be marked neither by famine nor by plenty, but the fifth year will be one of prosperity, when the earth will bring forth abundance. There will then be joy in all parts of the earth, and a revival of study and knowledge of the Torah will be noticeable in the ranks of Israel. The sixth year will be full of rumours of war, and the seventh year will see the actual dread visitation of war. After all these signs have come to pass, at the end of the seventh year, the Son of David will make His appearance. According to other opinions, prior to the coming of Messiah the world will be terribly corrupt; there will be no compassion amongst men, great derision and contempt for the Torah and for piety will be universal, and truth will be almost unknown. Men will be as shameless of their evil doings as the very animals, and the few righteous who still exist will be in exceeding great distress. Persecution will be rife everywhere, the youth will have no respect for the aged, so that the aged will even rise before the presence of the young. The daughter will rebel against her mother, and a man's worst enemies will be those of his own household. The reigning powers will become infidel, and none will be found to raise his voice in protest, so that mankind will seem to merit nought but extermination. If, therefore, we behold the generations becoming ever more corrupt, there is therein good reason to anticipate the advent of Messiah (Midrash Song of Songs 2).