Category Yeshua HaMashiach

The Second Coming of Jesus and the Millennium: The Fall Feasts and the Budding of the Fig Tree

There are seven feasts of the Lord. On Passover Jesus died, during the feast of unleavened bread, He was in the tomb, on first fruits He rose and on Shavuot (Pentecost) the Holy Spirit came. Therefore, we anticipate something definite to happen on each of the three remaining feasts. This study will demonstrate the likely outcome of the remaining three. Could the feast of trumpets be when the Lord takes us in the rapture? Is the Day of Atonement representing the time of Jacob’s trouble? Is the Feast of Tabernacles representative of when the Lord dwells among us beginning in the Millennium?
Additionally, the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24 demonstrates that we are living at the end of the generation that would see the budding of the fig tree. The Lord’s return appears closer than we could imagine!

The Elect in Matthew 24: Jews or Gentiles?

Who are the elect that Jesus spoke of when He said “for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened”?  Who are the elect to whom “false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders…”? Finally, who are the elect He spoke of when He said “Immediately after the tribulation of those days… he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”?  (Matt 24:22, 24, 29, 31)

The Calvinist doctrine teaches “the elect” means those who have been chosen to receive eternal life (they are saved). If “elect” = “saved” then the elect in Matthew 24 would necessarily be talking about believers in general. What we see, however, is that God repeatedly calls the Jews “the elect [ones (plural)]” in the Hebrew Scriptures and we likewise see , “the elect [ones (plural)]” in the New Testament is also a reference to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that is, the Jews. Consequently, Jesus’ reference to the elect in Matthew 24 is not speaking of the believers at large, but specifically of ethnic Israel (who believe). This conclusion is more thoroughly demonstrated in my complete paper and video “Why God Did Not Elect Calvinists,” or watch the video here. Furthermore, the gathering of the elect in Matthew 24 is not referring to Gentile believers before the tribulation but believing Jews after the tribulation. John Calvin plainly taught that election meant: “All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” [1] Lest we think that is wrenching Calvin out of context, Calvinist Loraine Boettner clarifies: “The Doctrine of absolute Predestination of course logically holds that some are foreordained to death as truly as others are foreordained to life.” [2] The good news, however, is that “election, elect, chosen” (and the derivatives) are terms that have nothing to do with one’s eternal destiny. Scripture does speak at length of “the elect” and “the chosen” but these terms are devoid of the Calvinistic sense of someone who has been elected to receive eternal life. Conversely, the term elect and its derivatives are not salvific in meaning but simply refer to persons or things that are chosen for a particular purpose and the purpose has nothing to do with eternal life. Once the definition of the word is established biblically, the foundation of Calvinism will be undermined and will collapse and the true identity of the elect in Matthew 24 will come into view. The word elect (Greek verb: eklegomai ἐκλέγομαι; Hebrew verb: bakhar בָּחַר) means to choose, select. The elect or chosen (as nouns or adjectives) are those people or things that have been elected, selected, or chosen for a particular purpose by someone. For example, God chose Levi to minister forever “… the LORD your God hath chosen [bakhar בָּחַר Greek LXX eklexetai εκλεξηται]…” Deut 18:5 (see also 1 Chr 15:2).  God and the people chose Saul to be the first king of Israel: “…behold the king whom you have chosen and whom ye have desired! And behold, the LORD hath set a king over you,” (1Sam 12:13). Saul’s election by God to be king had nothing to do with eternal life and his removal from being king likewise had nothing to do with eternal life. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, ​he hath also rejected thee from being king,” (1 Sam 15:23) – he was simply removed from his post. Judas is analogous to Saul in many ways because they were both elected for a purpose (not salvation, per se) yet they both forfeited their election.[3] God’s election of Messiah further demonstrates that the term elect/election is devoid of the Calvinistic concept of eternal life. “My Servant… Mine elect [בְּחִירִי bekhiri LXX: eklektos εκλεκτος] in whom My soul delighteth… (Isa 42:1, see also Isaiah 49:7). This title was used of Jesus on the cross “… ‘let Him save Himself if he be Christ, the chosen of God.’” (Luke 23:35 see also 1 Pet 2:4, 6). Jesus was unquestionably chosen, elected, predestined by God to be the Messiah but His election was not for His salvation; He was chosen by the Father to give us eternal life because he is the source of life! God also elected for Jerusalem to be His city and for His name to be there, (1 Kgs 8:44, 11:32, 36; 2 Chr 6:6; Ps 132:13). God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Jesus pointed out that the guests chose (eklegomai εκλέγομαι) the best seats, (Luke 14:8). Our conclusion from each of the examples is that election has nothing to do with predestination to eternal life. God chose priests, kings and Jerusalem for His purposes and man chose both God and idols. Again, we would be wrong to try to insert the concept of eternal life into the term election.

The Election of Israel

While election is made by God and men of people and places, there is a usage that stands out uniquely in Scripture: God’s chosen people, the elect, are the Israelites. The title “chosen/elect” is in many verses in Scripture. The use of the title “elect” to describe Israel becomes very important when we venture into the New Testament because it clears up many theological, soteriological, and eschatological issues including the identity of the elect in Matthew 24.

  1. God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself. (Deut 7:6).
  2. The LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself. (Deut 14:2)
  3. O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones! (1 Chr 16:13)
  4. The people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Ps 33:12)
  5. O ye Seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen. (Ps 105:6)
  6. He brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness. (Ps 105:43)
  7. For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure. (Ps 135:4)
  8. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect… (Isa 45:4)
  9. I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob… mine elect shall inherit it. (Isa 65:9)
  10. … the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. (Isa 65:22)

The verses above demonstrate how God has specifically called Israel, Jacob, the Seed of Abraham His chosen. Thus “the chosen” or “my chosen” and “the elect” (in the plural) refer to ethnic Israel.  This point is proven by Paul who, in a synagogue on the Sabbath day in Antioch, read from the Law and Prophets and then spoke to his fellow Jews: “Men of Israel… give audience: The God of this people Israel chose our fathers…’” (Acts 13:16, 17). Thus, the election of Israel is corroborated by Paul in the New Testament as well.

The Elect in Peter’s Epistles Are Jewish

Peter likewise uses the term elect to describe the Jews: “…to the strangers scattered throughout elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…” (1 Pet 1:1-2) The word “scattered” (Greek diaspora διασπορά) was used to describe the scattering among the nations that God had promised to the Jews (Israel) if they would not follow Him (Lev 26:33; Deut 4:27; Neh 1:8, etc.; the LXX uses the same Greek word as the NT). James, in his epistle, could not be any clearer that the diaspora is Israel when he says: “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad [en te diaspora. εν τη διασπορα]: greetings.” (James 1:1).Thus James and Peter were writing to Jews in the diaspora. In 1 Peter chapter two Peter describes his Jewish (believing) brethren with words used repeatedly in the Old Testament to describe the Jewish people.

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. But ye [are] a chosen generation [note: the Greek word is genos (race) not genea (generation) see: NASB], a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Pet 2:5, 9) “…ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people… ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation.” (Ex 19:5, 6)
“For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” (Deut 7:6)
“For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people” (Deut 14:2)
For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” (Ps 135:4)

Their election, however, is by no means a guarantee that they will inherit eternal life (just as Judas was elect yet foolishly rejected the invitation.) Paul corroborates this fact so clearly in 2 Timothy: “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory…” (2 Tim 2:10) Paul endured many things for the elect, the Jews, which again demonstrates election has nothing to do with salvation.

The “Few Chosen” Are Israelites

Speaking with the Pharisees in Matthew 22, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a King who prepared a wedding feast for His Son. Those that were invited to the wedding feast were not interested in coming so the King sent His servants out calling everyone who would come. Therefore, Jesus’ statement “For many are called, but few are chosen,” (Matt 22:14; see also Matt 20:16) must be interpreted in light of who are the chosen – that is the Jews! The chosen, elect (the Jews) were the ones to whom the promise of the Messianic Age was first given.[4]However, when the bridegroom came many of them were not willing to come and therefore God the Father gave instruction for the many to be called to the feast as well as the chosen. Knowing that the elect are the Jews completely rules out any Calvinistic interpretation of the passage and unlocks the passage for us. Note that both the called and chosen still needed salvation as indicated by the man found without a wedding garment who was cast out.

The Elect in the Tribulation

We can now consistently interpret the elect in Matthew 24; they are not Gentile believers in the tribulation, but are God’s chosen and the days will be shortened for their sake. Why? Because it is specifically called the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble (Jer 30:7).  John saw in his vision how “there was a war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon…and his angels.” (Rev 12:7). Daniel received the same information about that war in which Michael fights on behalf of the Jews, “at that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people [Israel]; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time [reiterated by Jesus in Matt 24:21]: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” (Dan 12:1). When we continue reading in Revelation 12 we see “the dragon … persecuted the woman which brought forth the man childand went to make war with the remnant of her seed.”(Rev 12:13, 17). Again, Satan’s The Elect in the Tribulation are the Jewswrath is against the Jews. In Daniel 7 we see the same thing; the Little Horn (Antichrist) “made war with the saints, and prevailed against them,” (Dan 7:21). So too in Revelation 13 the war is against the Jews “it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them,” (Rev 13:7). Also in the parallel passage, “he…shall wear out the saints of the most High…and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time, (Dan 7:25). Notice the saints (Jews are given into his hand for 3 ½ years (1260 days), which is the same as in Revelation 12 “the woman [Israel] fled into the wilderness, a thousand two hundred and threescore days,” (Rev 12:6).  In each of those parallel passages, the Jews are the ones under the gun. It is the time of Jacob’s trouble which is why Jesus spoke of the days needing to be shortened on behalf of the Jews, God’s elect.

Deceiving the Elect

Jesus said “false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,” that is the Jews[5]. (Matt 24:24)  We know they will be deceived because they confirm a covenant in Daniel 9:27, and the abomination of desolation is successfully erected in a (deceptively) rebuilt temple (Matt 24:15 and Dan 11:31). (This is the covenant they make with death in Isaiah 28:18.) Two thirds of the Jews will tragically die during the tribulation and deception will be a means to accomplish it.

Gathering of the Elect

Then “immediately after the tribulation of those days … he shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,” (Matt 24:29, 31). Jesus used the language of Isaiah 11 to describe the gathering of the elect, an obvious reference to the Jews: “he… shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth,” (Isa 11:12). The gathering of the Jews is further predicted in Isaiah 43:5, 54:7, and Zech 2:6. The gathering of the elect in Matthew 24:31 is not the church at large, but the gathering of the Jews after the tribulation. If we don’t see the pre-trib rapture in Matthew 24:31, then where do we find it? Perhaps the strongest evidence we have for a pre-trib rapture comes to us from the Hebrew Scriptures. The familiar passage in I Thessalonians 4, which speaks of the rapture, closely parallels the book of Isaiah. Both passages have the same order of events: 1) the dead rise first, 2) the living go away, hidden behind a door, 3) Jesus/God comes to punish the world. Thy dead [men] shall live, [together with] my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew [is as] the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain, (Isa 26:19-21). There is a rapture of those who believe in Jesus – for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. Thus discovering that the elect in Matthew 24:31 is not the rapture of the (Gentile) church does not invalidate the pre-trib rapture. It simply demonstrates that God has a bigger plan for the Jews, who are His elect.

Conclusion

In this brief overview we have seen that elect and election have nothing to do with salvation, predestined to eternal life or death, nor any Calvinistic definition. God elected priests, kings, disciples, Messiah, angels, and Jerusalem – all of which had nothing to do with being predestined to salvation. We then came to the election of Israel and saw that in no less than ten verses in the Old Testament God declared Israel to be His elect! Thus, when we turned to the New Testament we could see that elect/election/chosen never was there as a reference to being predestined to salvation. Peter wrote to believing Jews (elect); Paul endured things for the sake of the elect (the Jews). Therefore, “the elect [ones (plural)]” does not mean “saved,” but simply someone or something elected for a particular purpose. God specifically elected the Jews, among other things, to be the special guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and many rejected the invitation; they, like everyone, need to put on a wedding garment of salvation, to be accepted in. When the time of Jacob’s trouble occurs, Satan will focus on the Jewish people. It is for their sakes that the days will be shortened and false messiahs and prophets will come to deceive them in particular. Lastly, the gathering in Matthew 24:31 is not the rapture of the (Gentile) church; rather, Jesus will send out his angels to gather his elect, Israel, after the time of Jacob’s trouble.   All Scripture quotations are from The King James Version. Hebrew Scripture quotations are from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Copyright © 1967/77, 1983 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart. Used by permission. The Greek Old Testament Scriptures are from the Septuagint. New Testament Greek quotations are from the Greek New Testament according to the Byzantine Text form, edited by Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont, 2000 edition. All Scripture quotations have been retrieved using theWord Bible Software www.theword.net. All emphasis of Scripture verses is mine.



[1] Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion 3:21:5
[2] Loraine Boettner The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination 1932 from 2000 bible study centre™ DIGITAL LIBRARY p. 104-5; For a similar statement see: James R. White, The Potter’s Freedom, Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2000, p. 39
[3] “Jesus answered them, ‘Have not I chosen [eklegomai ἐκλέγομαι] you twelve, and one of you is a devil?’” (John 6:70).
[4] See how Isaiah 2, 4, 11, 60-66 and more passages speak of the Messianic age in which the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be God’s special people.
[5] Mark’s Gospel adds “…for the elect’s sake, whom He chose…” (Mark 13:20) emphasizing those whom God chose: the Jews.

The Language of Jesus: Hebrew or Aramaic? (Video)

As a Bible student, you have probably noticed that in some translations in Acts Paul is said to have spoken Hebrew while speaking to the crowd in the Temple and later Jesus is recorded as speaking Hebrew to Paul. However, in other translations the word Aramaic appears. Which version is correct, why the discrepancies and most importantly, which language did Jesus and his disciples speak?
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Discovering the Language of Jesus Lecture

Knowing what language Jesus spoke, helps us better understand the words, phrases and teachings that were used in the New Testament.  This lecture is taught by author Douglas Hamp at the campus of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA

The Greatest Gift of the Christmas Season


Yeshua is the Greatest Gift

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

As we enter into this Christmas season, let’s not forget that we have already received the greatest gift that we could imagine – we have been saved from our sins.  As we rejoice in the marvelous gift that God has given us, let us also be eager to tell as many people as we can about the free gift of Jesus available to all who ask!

 

Pastor Doug

Dear Son or Daughter of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,

Over the years have you ever asked yourself why Jews have been persecuted for apparently no cause? Everywhere they have gone they have been mistreated, abused, and frequently killed.  The Scriptures prophesied all of this back in the days of Moses – 3,400 years ago.  God promised great blessing if the Jewish people would follow Him and certified they would be persecuted by their enemies if they strayed from Him for too long.

The time of the Judges (1,400 BC to 1,050) demonstrate the the persecution that came when they strayed from God. There were many cycles when they would follow God and then leave Him and every time that they deserted Him they suffered.  But when they turned to Him He then protected them and blessed them.  Under their greatest king, King David, they enjoyed a great time of blessing because David their leader sought the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Sadly, by the time of Ezekiel and Jeremiah they again abandoned God and then one day, His presence left the Temple. But he promised that He would bring them back after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, which He did.  The Temple was destroyed in 586 BC and then the 2nd (new) temple was dedicated in 516 BC – exactly 70 later just as God had promised.  However, another important promise was made, God told them that the coming Messiah, (God promised Abraham that the messiah would be of his descendants) would come exactly 483 years after the decree to rebuild the city of Jerusalem.  That decree was given by Artexerxes in 445 BC and then their Messiah came in to Jerusalem riding a donkey, just as prophesied, on April 6th, 32 AD – exactly 483 years (according to the Jewish calendar).  The prophet Daniel told of how their Messiah would be killed but not for his own sake but our sake.  The prophet Isaiah told them over 700 years earlier that our Messiah would die for our sins:

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, [There is] no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, [our] faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He [was] wounded for our transgressions, [He was] bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace [was] upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked– But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor [was any] deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put [Him] to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see [His] seed, He shall prolong [His] days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, [and] be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53)

We have all broken God’s laws Just like Isaiah said – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. We have all broken his laws – whether in big ways or small but he is willing to forgive us if they will just ask.  The prophet Daniel put it so clearly almost five centuries before the Messiah came when he wrote: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame [and] everlasting contempt.”(Dan 12:2)

All of us can be forgiven.  We do not need to go to a synagogue or church, nor become religious nor give money anywhere.  We simply need to humble ourselves before the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and ask Him to forgive us.  He will so gladly do it.  He longs for us to return to him just as Isaiah the prophet said: “He shall see the labor of His soul, [and] be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.”(Isaiah 53:11, 12)

Please consider the words of Scripture.  It is a true book.  Just consider some prophecies that have been fulfilled recently and some that are soon to come.  Isaiah said: “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? [Or] shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.”(Isaiah 66:8)

Isn’t that amazing that Israel would be born in one day just as he prophesied?  On May 14, 1948, by decree of the United Nations, Israel became a nation after being in exile for nearly 1900 years.  The Scriptures also said in the book of Ezekiel in the latter days Persia (Persia changed its name in 1935 to Iran) would come against Israel along with several other nations but that God would protect Israel.  We have seen how Persia is seeking to destroy Israel in recent days.  Ezekiel also prophesied of Gomer (modern day Turkey) would come against Israel too.  We have seen in the news that the president of Turkey has declared Jihad against Israel – and just a few years ago Turkey and Israel were friends.  There are so many more evidences.  Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe.  Daniel wrote “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands [watch] over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, [Even] to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Everyone who is found written in the book.” (Dan 12:1) If we call upon God’s name then he will protect us.

To all who are of the Jewish people, who are sons and daughters of Abrahama, Isaac, and Jacob, my heart yearns for you.  I desire for you to have eternal life even more than earthly life.  Could it be that somewhere in your heart, that little boy or girl who had questions about God would still like answers?  Don’t let the lack of answers keep you from the God who loves you now. I suspect that you do not reject God for a lack of evidence.  Many people believe in evolution not because of the supposed evidence but because they like their world view – however, a world view without God is misguided and in error.  Look around you and see that the God of your fathers made the world and all that is in it.  However, if you die in your sins without being forgiven of your sins and being born from above, then you will remain forever lost.  Think of it this way, the Scriptures tell us that God is a consuming fire – that is, his nature is great energy radiating fire.  By being forgiven through your Messiah you can receive a heavenly body like God so that they can be with him.  However, if they die in our sins then you will remain in a corrupted body which will be consumed and destroyed – but forever.  I want you to avert that and to be forever with your God and with your forefathers.

It is very easy to ask God to forgive you.  Tell him that you have broken his laws and that you desire to turn from them.  Then look to your Messiah who gave this illustration:

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

He also said:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Place your trust in your Messiah and God today. Contact me if you have any questions!

Messianic Expectation in light of the Pseudepigrapha

I wrote this paper in the fall of 1997 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where I got my M.A. – the paper has some typos and the Hebrew didn’t come through but I figured I would just post it anyway. I hope you enjoy.

Douglas M Hamp

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Fall 1997

For Professor Gafni

 

ABBREVIATIONS

ANET  Ancient Near Eastern Texts

ASV American Standard Version, 1901

BDB    Brown, Drivers, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Massachussetts, (1997 third printing).

CAD Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, Chicago, (1958).

JTS  Jewish Theological Seminary

LND La Nuova Diodati, 1991 (Italian)

LXX  Septuagint

NEG Nouvelle Edition Geneve, 1979 (French)

NKJV New King James Version, 1982

NRS New Revised Standard, 1989

RVA Reina Valera Actualizada, 1989 (Spanish)

Introduction

In my study of 2nd Temple Messianic thought, I set out to learn what were the existent conceptions in light of pseudepigraphic texts.  The most apparent characteristic of the intertestamental writings (primarily pseudepigrapha) and thought is that of tension.  Tension of expecting a heavenly Son of Man figure and a completely of-this-world Messiah.  Tension between the ‘created’ [1] Son of Man (bn adm) who is given praise and worshiped just like the Most High.  This tension between the two roles prepared the way for a new perspective.  Due to the tension and apparent ambiguity of the literature at hand, it suddenly becomes clear why many Jews in Palestine circa 30 AD believed they had found the long awaited Messiah.

Studying the books of the New Testament, we see parallels which, not surprisingly, strongly resemble earlier Jewish writings.  The four Gospels are full of examples of conceptions found in the group of writings known as the Pseudepigrapha [2] (works written by different authors than the title would suggest).

Jesus of Nazareth, as seen through the eyes of the New Testament writers, was the fulfillment [3] of much of the messianic speculation [4] which was alive during his day. [5] To see exactly what were some of those thoughts, we will need to look at the Jewish books which were being written prior to, during, and shortly after his day.  We shall see that according to the Jewish corpus, the first century ma’aminim (disciples of Christ) reached some conclusions about the ‘One that Cometh’ [6] which, during the course of this study, will be shown to be a logical development. [7]

Where did the tradition of the Messiah/Son of Man come from?  A view of modern scholarship claims that every extant Messiah ‘myth’ must have come from a land other than Israel.  Any time the Bible portrays something unique it is assumed that the roots must needs be found in a source other than a Jewish source.  While the scholars are justified in looking, the presupposition as such has a few problems.

First of all, it assumes that the ancient Israelites had absolutely no creativity of their own.  If, after all, the presupposition states that everything is a myth, then why should the Canaanites, Babylonians or Persians [8] have better imaginations than their Jewish neighbors do?  Obviously, the Jews writing the prophecies didn’t live in a vacuum and therefore were affected by those around them. [9] However, there is no reason to assume that the ancient Israelites couldn’t invent their own end-of- the world literature in a style that was truly Jewish. After all, they lived more than two thousand years outside of their homeland and still retained their religious identity so why should 70 years in Babylonia completely disrupt their faith?

Secondly, if every vision-dream or any other concept which is presented in the Bible must come from another source, then the logical digression is that all myths everywhere, not just the Israelites, must have roots in an older tradition; therefore at the beginning of time there must have been a handful of original ideas which got passed from people to people!  Thus, perhaps we ought to ascribe a little credit to the Israelites for writing such interesting works.  And of course, we must ask; what if they are right?!

Nevertheless, we should still examine the traditions surrounding Israel to see similarities which may help us to understand some of the concepts presented in the biblical and extra-biblical texts.  Mowinckle [10] presents some very poignant information on the origins of the Son of Man.  According to his research, the conception of the ideal king had its roots in the Babylonian myth between the god and the king.  “Sonship signifies an intimate relationship of trust and obedience.  As a ‘son’, the king is the object of care, love and protection from the god or goddess (or from all the gods); and he owes them filial obedience in their service.  He is chosen to be a son; but, in accordance with Babylonian ideas, this means that his relationship to them is regarded as that of adoption.  Indeed, the formula of adoption is, ‘You are my son, whom I have begotten.’ ”

This knowledge of the Babylonian tradition definitely enhances our understanding of the terminology and in fact, clears up a lot misunderstanding about the passage.  However, due to the fluidity of semantics, we need to be careful not to assume that that is the only meaning the author of psalm two may have intended [11] to illustrate this principle, we need to turn to the rabbis to discover how they viewed their own scriptures.  The Zohar (3:212b) offers us a vivid usage of dichotomy.  “I see him but not now (Numbers 24:17) Of these words, some were fulfilled in that very hour f when Balaam uttered them, some later, and some f will be fulfilled at the time of King Messiah.” [12]

Morton Smith, [13] likewise comments in a similar vein.  In his critique on Goodenough, he shows that symbols do change and can have different meaning dependent on many variables.  Smith uses the illustration of a red light.  A red light, he says, on a street or car means slow down and stay away.  However, in some parts of the city, namely the ‘red light district’, a red light means come.  Thus, we should look at the use of symbols and metaphors of the ancient near east.  Ideas were traded it is true, but did the semantics remain the same all the way through?  I would argue both yes and no.  Yes: ideas were borrowed and assimilated into the culture of Israel; No: in that they were not necessarily used with the same connotation as before.

In trying to ascertain an understanding of the messianic thought, we must first consider the parameters of the sources available.  In my usage of the OT scriptures, I will use them as a corpus of ideas which is in line with later rabbinical thought. [14] The use of pseudepigrapha, I believe, can not be taken as a whole, [15] however, we can look at it as an indication of common Jewish thoughts [16] in Alexandria and in Palestine. [17] Furthermore, if the wide range of writings plus the material found at Qumran is not ‘normative’ then what is?  Thus with the hope of discovering the common thread among them, not disregarding the tensions and dichotomies, we will apply some synthesis to the following texts.

Probably most central to the study of messianism is Daniel 7 which was written circa 200 BC or earlier. [18] In this text, we see a dramatic vision of the Son of Man [19] in the Jewish canonized scriptures.  Although this passage has been interpreted by some scholars as corporate Israel, the verse was generally interpreted as that of the Son of Man=Messiah. [20] Accordingly, Mowinckle in He that Cometh comments, “The fact that Dan 7 with its reference to ‘one like a man…’, {was I interpreted messianically in rabbinic circles is further evidence that the Son of Man was regarded as the Messiah….’in certain circles, the national, this worldly Messiah was entirely  transformed into the figure of the Son of Man, but retained the Jewish Messiah’s name.” [21]

Having thus established that the ‘one like a son of man’ in Dan. 7:13 is synonymous with the messiah in early and later Jewish thought, we can now proceed with our study of what was the collective messianic thought (again within the eschatological circles.  We can’t know clearly what the ‘commoners’ were thinking since they weren’t writing documents).  And we can also now examine-some of the texts which lent themselves so well to the belief in Jesus of Nazareth.

Philo, the Jewish philosopher of the first century AD, dealt with a term which would eventually find its way into the theology of the Gospel of John. [22] The Logos, which is found in John 1: 1, has its roots in Jewish thought and philosophy as demonstrated by Philo.  Even though the book of John is said to have been written previous to 130 AD (Introduction to John, Dr. James W. Bryant), [23] we can still find evidence of Jewish thought.  Nonetheless, Philo’s use of Logos or Nous, demonstrates the conception of the ‘mind of God.‘ [24]

The Nous or Logos were equated by Philo to be the same as Wisdom as seen in the book of Proverbs chapter 8. Philo’s allegorization of Wisdom was, similar to the proverb itself, a personification of the term.  Wolfson, in his commentary on Philo says “Just as the Logos is described by Philo as an instrument ‘through which’ or ‘by which’ the world was made, so also is Wisdom described by him as that ‘through which (di es) the world came into existence’ or ‘was brought to completion.’ This is as should be expected, inasmuch as Wisdom is used by him as the equivalent of the Logos.”

I would also like to demonstrate the tension found in the conception of Logos which Philo portrays.  For even though the concepts of Wisdom and Logos were said to be equal, Philo then attributes the role of mother to Wisdom.  “…instead of applying to Wisdom the term instrument, he applies to it the term mother.” [25] This is particularly strange when cf.  Wolfson (pp. 258) Wisdom and Logos are identical. [26] Wisdom, then, is only another word for Logos, and it is used in all the senses of the term Logos.  Both these terms mean, in the first place, a property of God, identical with His essence, and, like His essence, eternal.”

Let us consider one further example of this concept’s ambiguity which would have led to the interpretation of the messianic figure as identical to the Logos or in Hebrew, the D’var…. the substitution of the words ‘obtained me'(Prov. 3:19) for the Septuagint ‘created me’ as a translation of the Hebrew kanani does not mean that he believed that Wisdom was not created by God but only obtained by Him after it had existed apart from God from eternity.” [27] What Wolfson is trying to say here I find to be extremely ambivalent.  In order to obtain something after it had ‘existed apart from God’ sounds like something other than a created entity.  For if God had created Wisdom then how should also obtain it at some point in pre-creation.  Furthermore, to exist apart the omnipotent creator from eternity (past?), is by definition existence without creation; is it not? [28] And, I think that the big problem is if the Nous is the mind of God, then why would he need to create it and more importantly; what was He using in the meantime?!

Whether Philo’s philosophies were known to the general public is difficult to ascertain.  However, we can infer, based on a statement by Mowinckle, that the general ideas of messianic thought, including Philo, were not foreign to the people within the apocalyptic circles (and that was most people).  He says, “But he (that is the Messiah) could also be referred to by the term ‘the Man’; and, in association with the apocalyptic world of ideas, the meaning of this term was immediately plain.”  Philo was not the only one to attribute such divine qualities to Wisdom/Logos.

In the Wisdom of Solomon, written most likely in the time of Pompey (63-48 B C), [29] we see that the author speaks of Wisdom as the inventor [30] of all, thus assigning the work of creation with her in contrast to God.  “For she that is the artificer of all things taught me, even wisdom.” Our author continues by listing the various attributes of wisdom which seem to point to a personification of her.

“For there is in her spirit quick of understanding, holy,

Alone in kind, [31] manifold….

All-powerful, all-surveying,

And penetrating through all spirits…

For she is a breath of the power of God,

And a clear effluence of the glory of the Almighty;…

And she, though but one, hath power to do all things; … [32]

 

Charles notes in the introduction to the book, according to the author, that just as “the serpent was not really a serpent but the devil, the cloud was not really a cloud but the form which Wisdom assumed.  Do we not have here a clear example of the Wisdom finally taking on a physical, visible form?  Even to dismiss this as allegory still leaves us with the impression that the disciples of Jesus might not have seen this as an allegory (that is if they did see this particular text).  This might have been further proof in their eyes of Jesus’ messiahship.  However, even if we cannot glean an appreciation for the status which Wisdom/Logos has been given here, it will become more apparent as we continue.

Let us proceed to chapter nine where we see Wisdom as seated on the throne of God which is always reserved for God, and, in the book of 1 Enoch, for the Son of Man.  The author, via prayer, gives a picture of the role which Wisdom has.

0 God of the father, and Lord who keepest the mercy,

Who madest all things by thy word;

And by thy wisdom formest man,…

Give me wisdom, her that sitteth by thee on thy throne…

 

The three words that come to our attention are word, sit, and throne.  These are very interesting in light of I Enoch.  The ‘word’, which can also be rendered Logos, has parallels in I Enoch.  In chpt. 61 the author speaks of the First Word.  From the context it is hard to distinguish whether he is referring to the Son of Man or the ‘Lord of the Spirits’.  In any case, the use of word would appear to be identical [33] to that in Ps. of Sol.  In I Enoch 62 there is yet another example of how the ma’aminim b’Yeshua, cf. the New Testament, might have come to the conclusion that Messiah had come.  The author says about the Elect One, “The word of his mouth will do the sinners in; and all the oppressors shall be eliminated” And not surprisingly, we see this concept illustrated in John 18:6; merely by the word of his mouth the soldiers fell to the ground. [34]

Did the ma’aminim [35]come to this conclusion due only to the pseudepigrapha and the philosophy of Philo or are there passages in the tanakh which would also support this view?  In Psalm 119:89, we see an example of God’s word as the Law.  ‘Your word, 0 LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens (NIV).  This was also the view of Philo.  “Logos and the term wisdom are taken to refer to the wisdom in the sense of the revealed Law of Moses…Philo could have said that the antemundane wisdom is the fountain of the revealed wisdom, for the belief in the preexistence of the law means that the revealed Law has its origin in the preexistent Law.” [36]

Thus we have demonstrated that the ma’aminim had valid reasons, based on the philosophy of Philo, I Enoch, and the Psalms, to conclude that he was the Preexistent One.  John 8:58 clearly demonstrates the notion that Jesus and the author firmly believed that he was the preexistent Son of Man (not to mention the many times that Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man; to investigate that in more detail is outside of the parameters of this paper).  However, in John 8:58, the conception goes beyond the implication of Son of Man.  When Jesus says that ‘before Abraham was, I AM,’ (NKJV) he is claiming much more than the created [37] status of the Son of Man.  He was boldly claiming to be YHWH which we can see in that the Jews wanted to stone him for blasphemy. [38] 38 In addition to this we have linguistic evidence which supports that he was equating himself to God.

The Greek for I am, is ego emi. The title YHWH (), although not 100% lucid, is commonly thought to represent the verb to be, [39] to which ego emi shows a clear parallel to the eheyeh in Exodus 3:14.

Let us now look at the above passages in the light of The Assumption of Moses chpt. 10 and 1Enoch chpt. 45.

Assumption of Moses…

For the Most High will arise, the Eternal God alone,

And He will appear to punish the Gentiles….

(Moses to Joshua) For from my death (assumption)

until His advent there shall be CCL times….

Then thou, 0 Israel, shalt be happy…

And He (God) will cause thee to approach

to the heaven of the stars…

 

And in I Enoch 45

On that day, my Elect One shall sit on the seat of glory

and make a selection of their deeds…

their souls shall be firm within them when they see my Elect One, On that day,

I shall cause my Elect One to dwell among them…

 

What is most apparent in the juxtaposition of these texts is that the Assumption, (above), has God alone as the one who shall come.  It would be convenient to say that ‘the Most High will arise’ is just a nice way of saying that God will exert His power in the future.  However, the author talks specifically of His advent and even gives a specific time [40] until He comes.  Nor can it be said that the belief of a supernatural Messiah was dwindling at the turn of the era.  Accordingly, A. H. Silver says, ” The pathetic eagerness to read the riddle of redemption and to discover the exact how of the Messiah’s advent was shared in common by Jews in Palestine and throughout the Diaspora…” [41] Thus we can not conclude that the author had in mind that the Messiah was no longer a possibility.  The author saw God Himself as the one who would come to give the Gentiles their due.

The tension between these two texts is plainly seen.  On the one hand, God alone will be the means of salvation, [42] (then thou … shalt be happy; … approach … heaven ….) and in 1 En., it is the Elect One who shall save them (their souls shall be firm … when they see my Elect One).  In Assumption it is.  God who is judge and in the other it is the Elect One.  And finally, the most confusing part is he that will come to dwell among them.  One account says God alone and the other is the Elect One.

Collins suggests that the conflict, in principle, can be understood as an assimilation of the Son of Man and the Deity.  “While the title messiah plays a minor role in the similitude’s, it is all the more significant that the identification of Messiah and the Son of Man can be assumed … In many respects he seems to be assimilated to the Deity (who also sits on the throne of his glory).  In I Enoch 48:5 people fall down and worship him.” [43]

The author of the Psalms of Solomon seems to suggest a similar interpretation when he refers to the king as God and to the Messiah as Lord [44] 17:1,3,4:

Lord, you are our king forever, for in you, 0 God…

But we hope in God our savior…

And the kingdom of our God is forever over the nations in judgment.

 

This parallels the passage in the Assumption of Moses text in its words and is nearly identical in thought.  In the same chapter the author then speaks of the future role of the Messiah. (Ps of Solomon17:21-32)

See, Lord, and raise up for them their king,

the son of David, to rule over your servant Israel…

to destroy the unlawful nations with the word of his mouth…

and he will condemn sinners by the thoughts of their hearts….

He will judge peoples and nations in the wisdom of his righteousness….

And their king shall be the Lord Messiah. [45]

 

Why does our author juxtapose these concepts?  More importantly what would the reader (or listener as it may have been in that day) have understood?  Based on the evidence which we have seen thus far, it should not be surprising that the ma’aminim concluded that the Messiah would be God himself. [46] In fact, this is even supported by later rabbinical thought in the Talmud.  Rabbi Kahana explicitly states that the name of Messiah will be Lord.  “What is the name of King Messiah?  R. Abba bar Kahana said: ‘LORD {Adonai is his name, for it is written, ‘I will raise unto David a righteous shoot … In his days Judah shall be saved …. And this is the name whereby he shall be called: The Lord is our righteousness (Jer.23: 5-6) [47]

Clearly we can now assume that the conclusion which the ma’aminim adopted was not a foreign idea.  In fact, based on the evidence, we must realize that the ma’aminim came to a valid, rational, and legitimate conclusion based on the eschatological climate of their day.

“Is there a God besides Me, indeed there is no other rock; I know not one …. I will not give My glory to another.” (Isaiah 44:8 and 48:1 1).  These verses served as a reminder to the people of Israel to not go ‘whoring after other gods (see Ex. 34:15).  The memory of the 70 years of exile made a strong impression in their minds.  ‘There is no other god besides the Lord.  Worship must be ascribed to none other than the Lord of Hosts Himself. [48] Again, this passage is exemplary of the building tension within the intertestamental texts and the OT.

The writers of the pseudepigrapha were all to well aware of their God as a jealous god.  The Apocalypse of Zephaniah, written sometime between 100 BC and 100 AD, [49] reminds its audience of the importance of worshipping God alone.  The seer in the vision sees a ‘great angel’ like the angel in Daniel 10:5.  In fact, he is so over-taken by the figure that he says “I rejoiced, for I thought that the Lord Almighty had come to visit me.”  This might be interpreted as the Messiah or Son of Man if it were not for the fact that the being states that he is only an angel.  However, before speaking with the angel, the seer believes that he has seen the Almighty, and rightly falls on his face to worship.  Upon doing so he is cautioned “He said to me, ‘Take heed.  Don’t worship me.  I am not the Lord Almighty…… (6:15).  Interestingly enough is that the great angel whose face shone ‘like the rays of the sun in its glory [50] since his face is like that which is perfected in its glory’, allowed him to fall to the ground three times in mortal fear before telling him that he was not the Lord Almighty.  Thus we have a salient example of what the popular thought which the author projected into his vision.

What a dilemma was created for the pious during the turn of the era!  On the one hand they are commanded to worship the one and only, the Lord Almighty; yet on the other hand they learned from the Similitude’s of Enoch (37-71) and most of the apocalyptic literature, that an eternal castigation awaits all those who deny the [51] Messiah.

I shall deliver them into the hands of my elect ones like grass in the fire and like lead in the water, so they shall bum before the face of the holy ones … For the have denied the Lord of the Spirits and his Messiah.’ However, because ‘He (that is the Messiah) will cause the others to see this so that they may repent and forsake the deeds of their hands … through his name they shall be saved, and the Lord of the Spirits shall have mercy upon them.…

 

Again, it would appear that the ma’aminim made a rational choice based on the texts we have studied.  Grant suggests that in the “Apocalyptic writings … no sharp distinction is drawn between the ‘earthly’ Messiah and the ‘heavenly’ Son of Man even though the two figures were distinct in origin … The Messiah is to be completely a manifestation of God that some of the religious titles and attribute of God are transferred to him…” [52]

We thus far studied the natures of the Son of Man as the Logos and as a human being in the most basic sense (bn adm).  We have also seen that he is to be king and judge in a dual role with the Almighty.  There is one more main role that he was thought to play . Messiah as priest.  This concept is most clearly elucidated in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs.

In the Testament of Levi he talks about a new priest who will come.  It is not surprising that it is Levi who receives this prophecy of the priest.  Here the prophecy is indicating that the posterity of Levi will be given a new name and a new dual role of king and priest.  And the office of king will not just any but that of David.  Even though the text does not say that it shall be David per se, the implication is obvious; for who is the one who shall come forth from Judah?  It is none other than King Messiah.  Is it possible that the author had the Hasmonean dynasty in mind when he incorporated the two offices?  It seems very doubtful that he wanted to communicate that he thought so highly of the would be priest-kings of the Hasmonean dynasty.  As proof of that, we only need to continue reading the text [53] to see just what the author wanted to say.

Levi, your posterity shall be divided into three offices as a sign of the glory of the Lord who is coming. [54] [emphasis mine] The first lot shall be great; no other shall be greater than it.  The second shall be in the priestly role.  But the this shall be granted a new name, because from Judah a king will arise and shall found a new priesthood in accord with the gentile model and for all nations.  His presence is beloved, as a prophet of the Most High, a descendant of Abraham our father.(8: 1-15)

The author, via the angel, interprets the prophecy by showing that this person shall have three distinct roles.  ‘The first shall be great…’ His first role shall be that of king and there shall be none greater than it.  The second role will be that of a priest.  But his third role will be that of receiving a new name which will be the culmination of the three previously distinct roles.

Then in chapter 18 our author clarifies the priest to come.  Here he is contrasting the multifarious king-priest-prophet to the priests who shall come before him.  He describes that during a period of three hundred fifty years (in each jubilee=50 years) there shall be seven priesthoods.  The first will ‘speak to God as a father’, the second ‘shall rise up for the salvation of the whole world.’ The third and fourth will be indicative of suffering.  Finally, the fifth through seventh of darkness, pollution and desolation. [55] And then the Lord will raise up a new priest to whom all the world of the Lord will be revealed …. And his star shall rise in heaven like a king… And he shall be extolled [56] by the whole-inhabited world.  This one will shine forth like the sun in the earth, [57] he shall take away all darkness from under heaven, and there shall be peace in all the earth.” The author plainly states that he believes the priest’ to be more than just a priest.

His use of ‘his star’ is taken Num. 24:17 which was commonly referred to as that of the Messiah (see interpretation in the Zohar 3:12b) Thus the scepter would also arise with the star which is simply another way of saying King Messiah.  In order to take away darkness from under heaven he must be imbued with some sort of supernatural power by which he will be able to deal with sinners [58] (darkness is a common motif for evil).

Finally this author sums up the role of this ‘heavenly’ priest by saying that his priesthood will last for all time to come.  Before continuing we need to understand what was the Jewish understanding of eternity.  Unlike the Graeco-Roman sense, [59] cf Mowinckle “eternity in Hebrew does not denote the infinite, empty, abstract, linear prolongation of time which we associate with the word, but is equated with time in all infinite comprehensiveness.” [60] He says, “And there shall be no successor for him from generation to generation forever.” The author then continues by saying what we should expect from the priest.  He says that via him sin shall be destroyed ‘in his priesthood sin shall cease’, lawless men shall repent ‘and lawless men shall rest form their evil deeds’ and ultimately via him the saints will obtain eternal life ‘and he will grant to the saints to eat of the tree of life’. (I 8:8-11).

This study has shown that based on the texts above, there was almost a constant allusion to the Son of Man-Messiah is in some way equated with the Divinity and with his power.  Why, then, was there so much literature on this particular subject if, as Mowinckle suggests, that it would only be God who in the end would be king and judge. [61] Grant concords this view in his summation of OT thought and theology.  He comments, “It was an age-old concept, basic to all Old Testament and Jewish thought, which was fundamentally theocratic and teleological.  God will be the ruler of all the world; his glory will become visible; the whole cosmos will unite in praising him; he only will be ruler upon earth…” [62]

Thus we have seen that based on the above texts, the ma’aminim were justified in making their conclusion about the coming Messiah.  He would be more than just a mere bn adm (human being) but would be one that (according the texts we have reviewed) would have a nature equal to God and would act as j judge(I Enoch 5 5:4), king and priest.  He would be one worthy of receiving praise, and, to any one that would not extol him(l Enoch 46:5), punishment would be their eternal destiny (I Enoch 54:6).

What about the ‘Son of God’?  Is there any suggestion that it was used before the ma’aminim? Yes there is.  Even though an extensive study of the subject is outside of the topic of this paper, we should be aware of the evidence.  The fragment 4Q246, (a.k.a.) the ‘Son of God’ text, demonstrates the possibility that the phrase ‘Son of God’ was an idea that was not foreign to the Jews at the turn of the era.  Before commenting on the text itself, I must mention that the text is very controversial among scholars and therefore ought to be used with care.

The most striking statements in the text (to which I have access) are the first and last lines.  Line 9 of column I says that ” ‘by his name he will be named,” and then in column 2; “Son of God he shall be called, and they will name him ‘Son of the Most High….  His {or its I sovereignty is everlasting sovereignty and all the depths…” [63] The passage speaking on his name is very interesting when compared to the Similitude’s of I Enoch where “that Son of Man was given a name…” The authority of the ‘Son of God’ closely parallels the ‘Son of Man’ in I Enoch.  However, according to J. Collins, the two figures are not the same.  “The ‘Son of-God’ in the Qumran texts is not identical with either of these (Son of Man in I En. and Dan. 7: 1 figures, but has much in common with them.(Collins pp. 167)

Did the ma’aminim interpret the Messiah in light of this text?  The texts studied seem to indicate that it was understood in that light, especially in the case of the ma’aminim, and therefore lends credence to their conclusion.  Collins attests to this theory, “The ‘Son of God’ text from Qumran suggest that Dan, 7 was understood with reference to a Davidic messiah from an early point.  Such an interpretation is also reflected in R. Akiba’s famous exposition of the plural ‘thrones’ in Dan. 7:13 as one for Him (God: and one for David … ) the ‘one like a Son of Man’ who comes with the clouds of heaven in Dan. 7:13, however, also gave rise to a different kind of messianic expectation, which emphasized the heavenly, transcendent character of the savior figure.”

Conclusion

Having finished our study of some of the texts of the pseudepigrapha, we have seen similarities in the role of God and that of the Son of Man and even at time a complete assimilation of natures.  God as judge, savior, king and even creator (logos) became titles for the coming Messiah that the ancient Israelites so desperately desired.  The assimilation of the two roles created a certain tension that many were not willing to accept.  However, the remnants of the powerful belief can be seen in the Mishna [64] and later rabbinical thought concerning the Messiah. [65] Indeed, later Judaism attempted to deal with these paradoxical statements in order to harmonize the tensions which in many ways seemed to be irreconcilable.  Although some times even the greatest of rabbis were rebuked for harmonizing too much.  “Rabbi Akiba was rebuked by R. Jose the Galilean for profaning ‘the Divine presence,’ by teaching that the Messiah occupies a throne alongside of God” (Greenstone.  The Messianic Idea in Jewish History pp. 96).

And finally, the most salient group and focus of our study is the ma’aminim. Whether we agree with their theology or not, we must, in light of the evidence, confer that they acted in such a way that was not contrary to many schools of though during their day.  Perhaps they could not harmonize the various concepts in any other way.  After all, who were they supposed to look for?  Was it not one who would be a scion of David but would also be the one who had descended from heaven where he had been hidden since eternity?  Not only would he be the mighty Son of Man coming with judgment but would also be one who would be ‘faithfully and righteously’ [66], shepherding the Lord’s flock”…  He shall be compassionate to all the nations (who) reverently stand before him.  He will strike the earth with the word of his mouth forever.” [67] Thus, we can conclude that the ma’aminim made a legitimate choice based on the material covered in this study of pseudepigraphic literature.

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Smith, Mark S. “The ‘Son of Man’ in Ugarit,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly/ 45, (1983).

Vermes, G. The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, London.  Penguin Group, (1995).

Whiston W. The Works of Josephus, Massachusetts.  Hendrickson Pub. (1982).

Wolfson, Harry. Philo, Vol. 1, Cambridge.  Harvard Univ.  Pr. (1968).


[1] A concept to which I shall return later.

[2] There is a large corpus of pseudepigraphic literature both from the Old Testament and the New.  For this study I will limit the scope to that of the Old Testament or as it is also called, Intertestamental Books.

[3] The death and attested resurrection of the Messiah, cf. the ma’aminiin, are not common motifs in the Pseudepigrapha and thus not pertinent to this paper

[4] Although Patai’s dates might be questioned in light of the translation of the LXX (circa 200 BC), the books of Sibylline Oracles (circa 200 BC), Maccabees, Daniel and I Enoch, his statement is accurate; “From the Ist Cent.  B.C.E. the Messiah was the central figure in Jewish myth of the future.”  The Messiah Texts, pp. xxvii

[5] In light of the plethora of messianic-eschatological works being written at the time (Psalms of Solomon 63-48 BC, Assumption of Moses-turn of the era; The Twelve Patriarchs although written later-132-135 AD, we still see the messianic hope characteristic of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha; and the Sibylline Oracles Jewish-Egyptian document, Mid 2nd.  BC: see Collins pp.36 not to mention the library of the Dead Sea sect) we can safely conclude that during the life of Jesus the messianic excitement was at a high.

[6] taken from the title of-, He that Cometh, Mowinckle.

[7] Again, I must stress that the material presented here is in light of Second Temple Pseudepigrapha and not necessarily of Jewish thought as a whole

[8] Following- Otto and Staerk, Mowinckle suggests that the ‘purely heavenly’ eschatologies in I Enoch and other pseudepigraphic writings are ‘undoubtedly the result of Persian influence.’ pp. 276.  We should be careful not to stop there, however, for although the idea of the ‘Son of Man’ may have been later, the conception of the day of Lord in earlier.  Cf., Grant, “Before the time of Amos in the eighth cent.  BC, it was assumed that ‘the Day of the Lord’ would usher in a marvelous era of peace and prosperity … From the time of Amos, apparently, it was assumed that ‘the Day of the Lord’ would be a ‘Day of Judgment’ or of Visitation’…Apparently, it was one of the basic concepts of early Judaism.”  Ancient Judaism and the New Testament, pp. 69

[9] P. Mosca.  Ugarit and Daniel 7: A Missing Link pp.499… there is no reason… ‘to doubt that ancient traditions closely related to the Ugaritic myths were available in the second century BC’, but what I doubt is that the impeccably orthodox Jewish author of Daniel 7 would turn to such a source for inspiration when presenting the heavenly scene which forms the very climax of his dream-vision.”

[10] Mowinckle, S. He that Cometh, Oxford.  Basil Blackwell. 1959

[11] The concept of multifarious meanings in Jewish scriptures is well attested.  Mosca in his monologue on Ugarit and Daniel makes reference to this concept via Deutero Isaiah.  ‘…the juxtaposition of past and future salvation is typically Deutero-Isaianic.’ One need only attend a beit midrash to hear the many levels of meaning that the rabbis ascribe to the scriptures.  In fact, they even claim that there are 70 levels of meaning!  So, why should we not assume that the same principle may have been implemented in the understanding of the intertestamental works?

[12] Patai, Raphael.  The Messiah Texts pp. 93

[13] Smith, Morton.  “Goodnight’s Jewish symbols in Retrospect,” Journal of Biblical Literature 86 (1976) p. 53-68.

[14] Mowinckle, pp. 283…   the rabbis assume that the entire divine revelation in scripture forms an

[15] Also cf.  F. Grant, there is nothing more characteristic than variety within Jewish eschatology. Ancient Judaism and the New Testament, Connecticut, Greenwood Pr. 1959

[16] Just as Morton Smith critiques Goodenough’s view of ‘normative’ Judaism by saying “It was (normative Judaism) like New England ‘society’ a puritanic sect walled up in its self-made ghetto, while outside was the wonderful world of hellenized Judaism, mystic, artistic, and free.” M. Smith, “Goodenough’s Jewish Symbols in Retrospect,” Journal of Biblical Literature, 86 (1976), pp. 62; so too, then, can we look at the wide scope ideas in the pseud. as indicative of eschatological thought.

[17] “So far as we can see, the Palestinian Jews were also(and the Alexandrian) familiar with them [that is the mythical ideas associated with Isa.7:14 and the rendering of al’mah as virgin in the LXX] even if rabbinical orthodoxy later pushed them into the background.” Mowinckle pp. 185

[18] According- to Mowinckle, pp. 352, the conception of the ‘Son of Man’ via Daniel existed 200 BC or earlier.  Also see John R. Dunkel’s Introduction to Daniel, Nashville, Thomas Nelson Pub.  1985 Josephus Antiq.  XI 8:5 supports the view that Daniel was written prior to 165-163 BC See also Contra Apion i, 8; I Mac.  ii. 59,60 (cf.  Davis, Dictionary of the Bible, pp. 170)

[19] The term ‘Son of Man’ or bn adm (Hebrew) and bar enash in Aramaic (discoveries of the phrase ‘son of man’ have also been found in the Ras Ibn Hani texts in Ugarit; see Mark Smith CBQ pp.55) should be defined as human being/person.  In accordance with tradition and the paradoxical role of the Son of Man in the Pseudepigrapha, The Catholic Bible Quarterly 45, 1983 pp.58-59 provides us with the following- understanding.  “the man-like one represents the saints in the kingdom, as the interpretation emphasizes, but inasmuch as the sovereignty over the world is that of God, exercised through the ‘man’, he is also the representative of God.  The dual role of the ‘man’ accords with the messianic traditions of the OT.”

[20] cf. Rabbi Akiba as cited in The Scepter and the Star, pp. 36.  “R.  Akiba is said to have explained the plural thrones in Daniel 7:9 as ‘one for Him, and one for David.” Collins goes on to say, “It is natural enough, then, to infer that the figure on the clouds is the kin- of a restored Jewish kingdom.”

[21] Mowinckle, pp. 361

[22] Although-h the book of John is a ‘Christian’ book, we can use it as a late Jewish source with caution.(See Mowinckle pp. 358 on the use of the Revelation of John as a late Jewish source.)

[23] Thomas Nelson Pub.  NKJV (1985).

[24] Wolfson, H. Philo, vol.  I Cambridge, Mass.  Harvard Univ.  Pr. 1968, pp. 253

[25] Wolfson, pp. 266

[26] The doctrine of the Ruach HaKodesh is obviously connected with this concept but, due to the lack of time, we must refrain from exploring- the possibilities for the present time.

[27] ibid.

[28] Charles in his commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon, offers us some elucidation on the status of Logos and its relationship to Wisdom.  “The Logos, he declares is neither uncreated like God nor created like us; but he is at equal distance between the two extremes…’The Logos is not unbegotten as God’ ” and he concludes by saying “We shall not be far wrong if we attribute the same idea to our author (Wisdom of Solomon) with regard to the personality of Wisdom.” Charles, R.H. Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Oxford.  Claredon Press, 1969

[29] Review and Expositor; A Baptist Theological Journal pp.237.

[30] “Inventor” is one of the definitions of the word ‘artificer’ which is craftsman, or worker.

[31] Charles added a footnote indicating- a further meaning- ‘the only ones of its kind’ which is to say monogenes in Greek.  Obviously the Ist Cen.  Church saw this as proof for the Holy Spirit.  However, due to the word monogenes, perhaps we ought to look for a parallel in the monogene as mentioned John 3:16

[32] Psalms of Solomon 7

[33] Charlesworth notes that First Word could possibly mean First Oracle, with the ‘first word/oracle’ or even the ‘fundamental principles of the oracle’.  Regardless of the differences of the linguistic possibilities, we still have the same concept of Wisdom/Logos as the primary mover, artificer, instrument (see Wolfson pp. 270).

[34] See parallels to 11 Thessalonians 2:8

[35] I am referring, to the disciples of Christ as ma’aminim because the term ‘Christian’ wasn’t coined until the missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas, in the city of Antioch.

[36] Wolfson p. 259 expounding on Fug 18:97

[37] It is generally held that ‘Son of Man was given a name,’ in I Enoch, indicates that it was at that point that he was created.  That would seem to be a presupposition rather than a fact based on the text.  Even Philo is equally ambiguous on the preexistent nature on the Logos/Nous/Wisdom.

[38] “To claim to be Messiah was, for Jewish thought, no blasphemy…” Mowinckle pp. 369.  Thus in no way were going to stone him for anything less than claiming to be God himself.

[39] In Hebrew, it appears to be from the Qal imperfect of hayah, later hayah. See Davis, Dict. of the Bible

[40] Of course, what the author meant by ‘CCL times’ is very vague indeed.

[41] Silver, A.H.. A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, Gioucest, Mass.  Macmillan. 1927 pp.’)

[42] In this case, ‘salvation’ should be used in the broadest sense of the word, not that of atonement.

[43] Collins, J. The Scepter and the Star, pp. 18 1.

[44] A very interesting, parallel should be noted Mowinckle (pp. 69), speaking of a righteous king upon ID the earth; he says that king was responsible for the peoples needs.  “Thus the king is the savior to whom the people look for salvation, both in the negative sense of deliverance form enemies, danger, and need, and the in the widest possible sense of good fortune and well being.

[45] Translation by charlesworth, p. 667.

[46] It is his duty to provide this yesha (salvation)” also means favorable conditions: politically, socially, morally and religiously.

[47] Patai, Raphael.  The Messiah Texts , pp. 21. (Lam.  Rab. 1:51, p. 36, ad Lam. 1:16)

[48] I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not -give to another, nor My praise to carved images.” Isaiah 42:8

[49] Charlesworth notes that this text has a surprising lack of ‘Christian elements’ See Introduction to the Book in OT Pseudepigrapha.

[50] As proof that the ma’aminim interpreted this passage in conjunction with Dan. 10:5, as messianic, one need only turn to Rev. 1: 13-15

[51] Excluding of course the Sadducees who didn’t believe in an after life.  See Josephus’ description of the various sects: Wars ii. 8.14

[52] Grant. pp. 71

[53] I am aware that the Pseudepigrapha was kept by the church and interpolations are therefore evident in some texts.  Therefore, I have tried to use texts which, based on the commentaries of Charlesworth, have no indication of a Christian reworking.

[54] We can not help but notice the similarities to the Assumption of Moses and I Enoch where we saw that in one the Lord himself would come to save his people and in the other it would be the Messiah/Son of Man.  Also see Jerimiah 23:6 and R. Abbabar Kahana as quoted above.

[55] A possible reference to Antiochus Epiphanies?

[56] Once again, we see a sign of the priest/king/prophet receiving praise.  This is also the same term that is used in I Enoch 46:5 in speaking of the Son of Man.  “This is the Son of Man….  For they do not extol and glorify him, and neither do they obey him, the source of their kingship.”

[57] Allusion to The Apocalypse of Zephaniah and Daniel 10:5

[58] In light of I Enoch this is not surprising since he is commonly referred to as the one who shall judge the world and throw the sinners into Gehenna

[59] rant typifies it as such; “namely, a hoop snake with its tail in its mouth, fitting figure of endless cyclic repetition.”

[60] He that Cometh, pp. 105

[61] … the Son Man conflicted in one essential point with a leading the thought of God himself as judge of the world, and, in general, the idea of the kingly rule of YHWH.” He that Cometh, pp.414

[62] Ancient Judaism and the New Testament pp. 77.

[63] All information on the ‘Son of God’ text was taken from J. Collins, The Scel2ter and the Star, pp. 154-155

[64] The Mishna refuses a portion in the world to come to those who deny that the promise of resurrection is contained in the Bible.  Mishna Sanhedrin X I” (Greenstone pp.  IO 1).

[65] R. Alexandri said: R Yohoshua ben Levi explained:…’if they will be righteous, {the Messiah will come) on the clouds of heaven (Dan. 7:13), if they will not be righteous, {he will come) as a poor man riding, upon an ass (Zech.9:9)” Patai, The Messiah Texts, pp. 83.

[66] Psalms of Solomon 17:34-35

[67] Compare with I Enoch 62:2

Messianic Jewish texts

The following is a compilation of  Jewish/Rabbinic sayings on the person of the Messiah. When we look at the many passages together we begin to see that they believed in the coming of a person who would be very much like Yeshua (Jesus). [I put the quotes in a list and highlighted the phrases that speak of a Yeshua-like Messiah.

Source: TALES AND MAXIMS FROM THE MIDRASH
by REV. SAMUEL RAPAPORT
[1907]

1.  OF the six things which existed before creation, when only ‘the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,’ two, the Torah and the throne of God, were complete in every detail. The remaining four, however, viz., the Patriarchs, Israel, the Temple, and the name of Messiah, existed prior to the creation only in an incomplete form.–Gen. Rabba 1.

2.  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.--Gen. Rabba 2; also Levit. Rabba 14.

3.  When Eve at the birth of Seth exclaimed, ‘God hath appointed me another seed.’ her underlying thought was the King Messiah.–Gen. Rabba 23.

4.  He who knows how long the Israelites worshipped idols can learn there from when the Son of David–Messiah–will come. Three different prophets tell us this: (1) ‘Like as you have forsaken Me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours’ (Jer. 5. 19); (2) ‘And I will visit her the days of Baalim,’ etc., (Hos. 2. 13); (3) ‘Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord hath sent in his spirit by the prophets. Therefore it is come to pass that as he cried and they would not hear, so they cried and I would not hear, saith the Lord’ (Zech. 7. 12, 13).–Lament. Rabba 1.

5.  The great mountain spoken of by the prophet Zechariah (4. 7) is no other than Messiah, Son of David, and he 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.’–Midr. Tanchuma Toldos.

6.  The word הדרך (Hadrach), used by the prophet Zechariah (9. 1), is one of the titles of Messiah. It is connected with the word דרך (leading), and is therefore applied to him who will lead man to repentance.–Midr. Song of Songs 7.

7.  The ‘four carpenters’ to whom the prophet also refers, are Elijah, Melchizedek, the Messiah of war, called by some Messiah son of Joseph, and the true Messiah. These Messiahs are referred to in the 32nd chapter of Isaiah, and their existence is constantly mentioned. Seven or eight Messiahs are sometimes said to be promised in the words of the Prophet Micah (5. 5), ‘Then shall we raise against him seven shepherds and eight principal men,’ but it is held that there will be but four (Zech. 1. 20), and these are they: Elijah the Tishbite, an unnamed man of the tribe of Manasseh, Messiah of war–an Ephraimite, and Messiah the Great, the descendant of David.–Midr. Song of Songs 2.

8. Two of King David’s descendants were destined for universal dominion: King Solomon and King Messiah, to whom David refers in his seventy-second Psalm.–Numb. Rabba U

9.  The whole of the 27th chapter of Isaiah refers to the Messiah.–Exod. Rabba 1.

10.  Solomon’s Song has also reference to Messiah. ‘The voice of the turtle is heard in our land’ means the voice of Messiah.–Midr. Song of Songs 2.

11. 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 connection with Messiah; He will appear, disappear, and appear again.–Numb. Rabba 11.

12. The fourteenth verse in the second chapter of Ruth is thus explained. ‘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 (chpt. 53), ‘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.–Midr. Ruth 5.

13. To three individuals God said, ‘Ask, and it shall be given to thee.’ These are Solomon, Ahaz, and Messiah, to the last of whom it was promised, ‘Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathens for Thine inheritance.’–Gen. Rabba 44.

14. In a similar strain we read, Israel is to overcome ten of the heathen nations of the world; seven of them have already been conquered; the remaining three will fall at the advent of Messiah.–Gen. Rabba 44. But, despite all this, Messiah will not come till all those who are to be created have made their appearance in the world.–Gen. Rabba 24.

15. In tracing the descent and history of the Israelites, the Bible enumerates the generations of the heads of the families of the earth whose history touched that of the chosen people. ‘These are the generations of the heavens and the earth’ is the first instance of the use of the word תולדות in such a connexion. If regard be had to the Hebrew text of the verse, it will be found that here the word referred to is written in full, i.e. spelt תולדות, with the additional ו, whilst in all other places where the word occurs the word is always spelt with one ו, thus, תלדות. This, it will be found, is the invariable usage until we come to, ‘Now these are the generations of Perez’ (Ruth 4. 18). Here we once again find the word תולדות spelt in full. These are the only two instances in the whole of the Bible. The first refers to the time before the sin and fall of Adam, which brought death into the world, and, inconsequence, all succeeding תלדות, ‘generations,’ were deprived of some of the possibilities of life, and this is indicated by the omission of the ו. But the enumeration of the descendants of Perez, bringing appreciably nearer the promised abolition of death through the agency of his descendant, the Messiah, is hailed as the occasion to celebrate the restoration to perfect man of what he had lost through the imperfection of the first of his kind, and hence the word תולדות is here spelt in full.–Exod. Rabba 30.

16.  A similar deduction is made with reference to the spelling of the word עתודים ‘he-goats.’ Each of the princes of Israel brought as a sacrifice at the dedication of the tabernacle five he-goats. This word is spelt without the ו, thus, עתדים in all the numerous repetitions of the details of the offerings, which are identically the same in all instances. There is but one exception, and that is (Numb. 7. 17) in the account of the offerings brought by Nachshon, son of Aminadab, because from him were to spring six (the numerical value of ו) of the great men of Israel, who were each to be distinguished by six special attributes. The Messiah and his ancestor David are among the six, and Isaiah thus enumerates the six distinguishing traits in the character of the descendant of Jesse, whose coming he foretells. ‘And there shall rest upon him (1) the Spirit of the Lord, (2) the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, (3) the Spirit of counsel, (4) and might, (5) the Spirit of knowledge, and (6) the Spirit of the Lord.’–Numb. Rabba 13.

17. Abraham, Job, Hezekiah, and Messiah found God out for themselves without being previously instructed.–Numb. Rabba 14.

18. The great gifts of God, of which Adam was deprived by reason of his sin and fall–light being one of them–will all be restored through Messiah, who will appear from the North and rebuild the Temple in the South.–Numb. Rabba 13.

19. The prophecy of Isaiah concerning Jerusalem, ‘Behold, thy sons shall come from afar and thy daughters shall be nursed by thy side,’ could not be hailed with the same satisfaction as the words of Zechariah, ‘Behold, thy King cometh unto thee; he is just and having salvation, lonely and riding upon an ass.’ This latter prophecy will bring it about that the daughter of Zion shall greatly rejoice in the Lord, her soul shall be joyful in her God.–Midr. Song of Songs 1.

20. 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.–Numb. Rabba 15. and Tanchuma Behaloscho.

21. It was indeed pre-ordained that Jerusalem should be lost to the Israelites, but only until the coming of him concerning whom it was said, ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.’–Gen. Rabba 56.

22. And so the destruction of Jerusalem is to be looked upon as an event bringing joy in its train rather than as an irreparable loss or sorrow, for through it the coming of the Messiah and consequent expiation of Israel’s sin were rendered possible. 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.–Midr. Esther 1.

23. As you brought Me the perpetual light in the Temple, says God unto Israel, so will I bring unto you Him, Messiah, who is the personification of light, ‘the sun of righteousness’ promised through Malachi.–Midr. Tanchuma Tetzava.

24. Our father Abraham, by his meritorious life, won for himself the blessing. ‘Tell the stars, if thou art able to number them,’ He said unto him; ‘so shall be thy children.’ Isaac’s ready compliance with God’s demand to sacrifice his life evoked the promise, ‘I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven.’ Jacob was heartened with the prospect, ‘And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth.’ That which God promised to Abraham He has already fulfilled in that Moses was able to address to his people the words, ‘The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and behold, you are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.’

25. Balaam was constrained to acknowledge the impossibility of ‘counting the dust of Jacob,’ and it might seem as if the prophet Hosea looked forward to the speedy realization of the promise made to Isaac when he gave utterance to the sentiment, ‘Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered.’ The fulfillment, however, will not come about until the time of the Messiah, when the heathen shall be altogether absorbed and God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.–Numb. Rabba 2.

26. The honor and majesty with which David tells us (Ps. 104.) that God is clothed, He will bestow on Messiah. As it is said, ‘His glory is great in Thy salvation, honor and majesty hast Thou laid upon Him.’–Numb. Rabba 14.

27. Seeing in his spirit of prophecy that the time would come when the משכן, ‘Mishkan’ (the Sanctuary) 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.–Exod. Rabba 35.

28. The prophets formerly recorded the good deeds performed by man, but now Elijah and Messiah record them and God puts His seal on the record.–Levit. Rabba 34.

29. ‘Fear not, Abraham; I am thy shield and thine exceeding great reward,’ refers to the glorious epoch of Messiah. The Patriarch was apprehensive lest the covenant made with him might not prove lasting because of the sins of his descendants. God here gave him the assurance that, though his descendants fall into sin, there shall be one great and noble amongst them, who will be qualified to say to the avenging angel, ‘Stay thy hand.’ ‘Him will I accept and he shall be a pledge for my people.’–Midr. Song of Songs 1.

30. ‘The sceptre shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet until “Shiloh” come,’ refers also to Messiah, who is to enlighten Israel on the words of the Torah, and point out the errors of the people. Rabbi Chanan, on the other hand, holds that the teaching of Messiah will not be addressed to Israel, whose knowledge of the law of God will be all-sufficient. Rather will his task be to instruct the Gentiles: in the words of the prophet Isaiah (11. 10), ‘To him shall the Gentiles seek, and he shall assemble the outcast of Israel.’–Gen. Rabba 98.

31. The faithful of Israel are desirous of sepulture in the land of Palestine because, at the advent of Messiah, the resurrection will take place there before any other part of the world, but that will be the resurrection of the righteous only.–Gen. Rabba 96.

32. The general resurrection of the dead is appointed for the day of judgment, and when it takes place the revived souls will sing angelic songs.–Midr. Eccles. 1.

33. The death of the righteous is even like the Day of Atonement, in that each secures forgiveness for the sins of Israel.–Levit. Rabba 20.

34. A time has been appointed by God for the coming of Messiah. Yet if Israel but repent his sins, the glorious redemption will be hastened, and Messiah will make His appearance before the appointed time.–Exod. Rabba 25.

35. Great indeed will be the time of the approaching advent of Messiah. The wicked will be trodden down as ashes under the feet of the righteous, the trees will send forth their fragrance, and concerning the righteous it will be said, ‘He that is left in Zion and he that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy.’

36. 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.–Midr. Song of Songs 2.

37. The צמח (‘Zemach’), mentioned by Jeremiah (23. 5) and by Zechariah (6. 12) is the Messiah.–Numb. Rabba 18.

38. Unlike the kings of this earth, God bestows some of His possessions and dignities upon beings of flesh and blood. He set Solomon upon His own throne (1 Chron. 29. 23). He caused Elijah to ride upon His own horse; that is to say, upon the storm and whirlwind. To Moses, He gave God’s rod, and upon the head of Messiah He placed His own crown.–Exod. Rabba 8. and Tanchuma Voera.

39. Many and varied are the things that in the Bible are designated ‘the first.’ The month of the Egyptian exodus God named the first month of the year (Exod. 12. 2). He revealed Himself as ‘the first’ to the prophet Isaiah (44. 6). Zion, too, is styled ‘the first’ (Jer. 117). Of Esau also the epithet is used (Gen. 25.) And, lastly, Messiah is mentioned as ‘the first’ (Isa. 41. 27).

40. There is this intimate connexion between them, that God, who is the first, will rebuild Zion the first, and bring retribution on Esau (= Rome), known as the first, at the time of the advent of Messiah the first, in the month (= Nissan) which was appointed as the first.–Exod. Rabba 15.

41.  Five things brought about the redemption of the Israelites from Egypt: (1) The sufferings of the people (2) their repentance; (3) the merits of their ancestors (4) the expiration of the time fixed for their captivity (5) the mercy of their God. These same causes will operate towards the realization of Israel’s Messianic hopes and lead to the last redemption through Messiah.–Deut. Rabba 2.

42.  There will be a great difference between the Egyptian and the last redemption. ‘When you were delivered from Egypt,’ says God to Israel, ‘you had to depart in haste; at the last deliverance you shall not go in haste nor by Right, (Isa. 52. 12). At the Egyptian deliverance I, in my manifestation, went before you (Exod. 13. 21). At the last deliverance ‘the Lord will go before you and the God of Israel will be your reward.’ (Isa. 52. 12).–Exod. Rabba 19.

43.  ‘All your former redemptions,’ God says to Israel, have been accomplished through the instrumentality of men, and were, consequently, not lasting in their effect. You were delivered from Egypt through Moses and Aaron; you were rescued out of the hands of Sisera by Deborah and Barak; from the power of Midian you were saved by Shamgar. I myself will be your last and your everlasting Redeemer.’–Tanchuma Achray.

44.  Great chariots, precious stones and other valuable gifts will the nations bring to Messiah. This means that the nations will bring Israel as a present to Messiah.–Midr. Song of Songs 4.

45.  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), so he will have precedence in announcing the coming of Messiah, as foretold by the prophet Nahum (1. 15).–Numb. Rabba 2.

46.  To Judah were revealed all the great men and what will happen to them from the time of Jacob till the coming of Messiah.–Numb. Rabba 13.

47.  The perpetual light in the Mishkan was typical of the light of King Messiah.–Levit. Rabba 31.

48.  All the gifts which Jacob felt himself constrained–out of fear–to present to Esau, will be restored to Israel at the advent of Messiah.–Gen. Rabba 75.

49.  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 (Ps. 70. 16), and cause the rivers of Judah to flow with water (Joel 4. 18).–Midr. Eccles. 1.

50.  ‘The envy of Ephraim shall depart and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off’ (Isa. 11. 13). That means that amongst the Jews themselves, at the time of Messiah, there will be perfect peace and harmony.–Tanchuma Vayeegash.

51.  There is no redemption without faith.–Tanchuma Beshallach.

52.  Three things Israel despised, viz., the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of the house of David, and the Temple, and God withholds His blessings from them till they mend their ways in these things. That they will do so the prophet Hosea (3. 5) tells us. ‘Afterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek their God’ means that they will again accept the kingdom of heaven, ‘and David their king’ obviously means the formerly rejected House of David, ‘and shall fear the Eternal and his goodness’ refers to the Temple.–Midr. Samuel 13.

53.  Messiah will be asked which place He selects as His residence. His reply will be, ‘Need you ask Me? Surely Zion, my holy mountain.’–Midr. Samuel 19.

54.  Amongst the various names of Messiah, who was born on the day on which the Temple was destroyed, is that of מנחם בן עמיאל (Menachem ben Amiel) -Numb. Rabba 13.

55. The proper name of Messiah is ה׳ צדקנו (the Lord our righteousness).–Midr. Lament. 1

Source:

TALES AND MAXIMS FROM THE MIDRASH
by REV. SAMUEL RAPAPORT
1907