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Desire for the Messiah

Tracing the Footsteps of Messiah from Creation to

Part 1 - Introduction


Moshiach: The Messiah

And He said to them, What things? And they said to Him, The things
about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in
the sight of God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and
our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.
21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.
(Luke 24:19-21)
I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and, though
he tarry, I will wait daily for his coming.
(formulated by Moses Maimonides in the 12th century C.E)
One of the fundamentals tenents of Judaism is the belief in the
Messiah. But while the particulars of the epxected Messianic and era
thus changed from time to time, the basic belief in him who must come
remained the same and sustained the Jewish people over two mellennia.
(by Raphael Patai author The Messiah Texts)
(Note: "Moshiach" is the Hebrew word from which "messiah" comes. It
means simply "anointed one." The Bible uses the term frequently, to
refer to Aaron and his descendants (priests were anointed) or to a King
like David, who was anointed by the Prophet Samuel.) and prophets were

The Bible uses the term frequently, to refer to:

Prophets were anointed- Elijiah
(I Kings 19:16)
Priests were anointed-Aaron
(Lev 8:12)
Kings were anointed-David
(I Samuel 16:13)

The doctrine states that Jesus Christ performed three
functions (or "offices") in his earthly ministry
(Deut 18:14-22)/(Luke 7:3435)
(Psalm 110:1-4)/(Hebrews
(Psalm 2:6-7) /(John 3:16)
16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up;
and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and
stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to
Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because
He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.

He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And

recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are
oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.
20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat
down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He
began to say to them, Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your

The Messianic Idea in Judaism


What did Jews believe at the time of Jesus?


What Does the Literature Say about the Messiah?

a. Scripture

Hebrew Bible, as interpreted by early (tannaic) rabbinical

writers, as they wrote commentaries on OT passages. If the
earliest rabbis interpreted OT passages messianically, then
this is strong evidence that the sources THEY used--1st
century rabbis--held messianic expectations.1
[Edersheim's appendix lists 456 references in the early
rabbinix to the messiah or messianic times, and admits his
work is incomplete! (LTJM:981, appendix 9).
John Collins, "Messianism in the Maccabean Period", in
JTM:101: "The notion of a transcendent savior figure under
God is perhaps the most significant development in Jewish
messianism (broadly defined) in the second century B.C.E."
and "There are some traces of messianism in the Maccabean
period (164bc-63bc).
The messianic figures range from king to priest to prophet.
Indeed, several writers/communities have MULTIPLE messianic
figures (e.g. Qumran, Testament of Levi). These figures can
range from simple purely-human Davidic kings (e.g. Psalms
of Solomon, 2 Baruch, Sibyl 3?) to the transcendent and
pre-existent quasi-divine Savior Kings (e.g. I Enoch, Sibyl
5, Testament of Judah) and 'stuff in-between' (e.g. Philo,
some of the Qumran materials).2
b. Dead Sea Scrolls
These writings ALL either pre-date the NT or are
contemporaneous with it. As such THEY represent
writings/sentiments present in 1st century Judaism (and
often anti-Pharisaic).
CD (Damascus Document), col XIV, 19: "until there arises
the messiah of Aaron and Israel. He shall atone for their

c. Targums
These were Aramaic translations of the Hebrew OT, that
apparently circulated during the time of Jesus (e.g. there
are Targums of Job and Lev. in the Dead Sea Scrolls).
Although these documents were written down AFTER the NT
period, these represent typically VERY ancient
understandings of OT passages. If the Targums interpreted
OT passages messianically, this generally indicates that
ancient Jewry had messianic expectations. We also know that
targums circulated BEFORE the NT times, since some of them
were found at Qumran.3
Gen 3.15 (Pseudo-Jonathan): "They are destined to make
peace at the end, in the days of King Messiah"
Gen 49.1 (Frg.): "For he was revealing to them all that was
going to occur at the very end, the time of the Messiah."
Isa 42.1-9: "Behold, My servant, the Messiah, whom I bring
near, My chosen one, in whom my Memra takes delight; I will
place My holy spirit upon him, and he shall reveal My law
to the nations...
d. The Septuagint
(LXX) translation of the OT [250 BC]. This translation of
the Hebrew OT (into Greek) was done by Jewish scholars of
pre-Christian date. In some cases they 'smuggled' THEIR
interpretations into the translation. In some of these
cases, they make their messianic interpretations EXPLICIT,
by putting them INTO THE TRANSLATION. By comparing the
Hebrew OT passage with the LXX version of the same passage,
we can sometimes uncover messianic interpretations of OT
passages--indicating messianic expectations in preChristian Jewry.4
Gen 49.10 (Hebrew):The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes
to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.
WITH the LXX version: A ruler shall not fail from Judah, or
a prince from his loins, until there come the things stored
up for him; and he is the expectation of the nations.
Is 9.6 (Heb): For to us a child is born, to us a son is
given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he
will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting
Father, Prince of Peace.

WITH the
is given
his name

LXX version: For a child is born to us, and a son

to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and
is called the Messenger/Angel of the Great
(cf. the Targum: "the Angel of the Face"!)

e. Other Writings
Jewish Apocrypha - almost all of the material of these 15
books was written in the 1st/2nd centuries BC., and as such
give us visibility into the thoughts of 1st century
2 Esdr 12.31-34: "as for the lion whom you saw rousing up
out of the forest and roaring and speaking up to the eagle
and reproving him for his unrighteousness, and as for all
his words that you have heard, this is the Messiah whom the
Most High has kept until the end of days, who will arise
from the offspring of David, and will come and speak with
them. He will denounce them for their ungodliness and for
their wickedness, and will display before them their
contemptuous dealings.
Jewish Pseudepigrapha - many of these writings pre-date, or
are contemporaneous with, the NT. As such they represent
writings/sentiments present in 1st century Judaism.6
I Enoch 48.2-10: "At that hour, that Son of Man was given a
name, in the presence of the Lord of the Spirits, the
Before-Time; even before the creation of the sun and the
moon, before the creation of the stars, he was given a name
in the presence of the Lord of the Spirits. He will become
a staff for the righteous ones in order that they may lean
on him and not fall. He is the light of the gentiles and he
will become the hope of those who are sick in their hearts.
All those who dwell upon the earth shall fall and worship
before him;
f. Historical Writers
The works of Philo and Josephus--both are either pre-NT or
simul-NT. They will give us some data on messianic
[The LXX read "man" for "scepter" in Num 24.17, and Philo
interprets "man" as a warrior]
The Life of Moses I:289290: "There shall come forth from you one day a man, and he
shall rule over many nations and his kingdom spreading
every day shall be exalted on high

Jewish War 6.312-13: Josephus wrtites: "What more than all

else incited them to the war was an ambiguous oracle,
likewise found in their sacred scriptures, to the effect
that at that time one from their country would become ruler
of the world. This they understood to mean someone of their
own race, and many of their wise men went astray in their
interpretation of it.

New Testament

What is written in the New Testament represents some of the

most common viewpoints concerning the belief of a coming
Messiah in the Jewish community of that day.
Zachariass Prophecy
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy
Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us
and accomplished redemption for His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house
of David His servant As He spoke by the mouth of His holy
prophets from of oldSalvation from our enemies, And from
the hand of all who hate us;
(Luke 1:67-71)
25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;
and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the
consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
(Luke 2:25)
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a
ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and
said to Him, Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as
a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless
God is with him. Jesus answered and said to him, Truly,
truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see
the kingdom of God.
(John 3:1-3)