Hebrew Roots
Exploring the Hebrew Roots of the Faith 
Issue 98-3; Vol. 3, No. 2 Sivan/Tammuz/Av, 5999* June/July/August, 1998

* This is our best guess based on Biblical chronology. (See Issue 97-2 for details.) 

~ Featured Inside ~

Messianic Expectations:
Looking for Messiah

Prepare the Way
of the Lord

Food for Thought

Jerusalem: A Cup of Trembling

Iron Sharpens Iron

Endnotes

A View From
Beit Shalom
Go up in peace to your house. 
1 Sam. 25:35; 

 

Shalom Aleichem,
    Peace be unto you, and to all of your loved ones, through the matchless love of our Father in heaven and our Lord and Savior, Yeshua HaMashiach, (Jesus the Messiah).
    The Eternal God is truly a God of Peace, and true peace is indeed His blessing that comes to us only through His Son, Yeshua, He is both able and willing to grant us His peace because we trust in Him and are living our lives, as best we can, according to the instruction book which He gave to us, the Torah.
    Yeshua told His disciples at the Last Supper that one of the attributes He was going to give them was His 'peace.' He said to them:

    "'Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. ...'"
(John 14:27)

    Therefore, we urge you to:

    "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
(Phil. 4:6-7)

    By dwelling in Him and following the lead of His Holy Spirit, we are able to have peace, even when everything around us seems to be crashing down into disarray.

~ Troublesome Times ~

    In these troublesome times, many Believers are turning to the pages of their own Bibles to find confirmation for their beliefs. Some are questioning the things they have been taught by their church leaders and are finding that many things they learned in the past do not ring true in the light of Scripture.
    All Believers need to know what they truly believe, and why they believe it. The Bereans were complimented by Luke for their diligence in proving everything they had heard before accepting it as truth.

    "Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
    "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men."
(Acts 17:10-12)

~ A Clear And ~
~ Present Danger ~

    The freedom to study, rather than being told what to believe, can be a danger as well as a blessing, for it allows people who are unskilled in the Scriptures to be fair game for every wind of doctrine that comes along. The Adversary knows that this current climate of doctrinal exploration provides him with an unprecedented opportunity to deceive.
    While we personally, would never want to go back to an environment where we were told what to believe, by we understand that great care must be taken so that we are not swept away by something new just because it seems, at first, to be good. Every new doctrine or belief must be proven true beyond a shadow of doubt before it is accepted. Therefore, it is our policy to cling to what we believe to be true, unless and until it is proven to be false. It is for this very reason, that the Apostle Paul admonished Timothy to:

    "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Tim. 2:15)

~ The Vanity of Charisma ~

    There are many charismatic teachers in the world of religion. They usually look good, have a nice voice, and are very persuasive. But we must be careful not to judge the message true just because of our attraction to the messenger. Likewise we should not reject a message just because we find the messenger unappealing, for that messenger may be speaking the truth.
    The early Church was plagued by charismatic teachers who taught false doctrines and led unsuspecting Believers away from the sincerity and simplicity that is found in the Holy Scriptures. Paul addressed this very problem when he wrote the Corinthians:

    "... I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it."
(IICor. 11:2-4)

~ A Firm Foundation ~

    Let us be perfectly clear that our mission here at Hebrew Roots is to teach the truths of the Scriptures based upon a firm foundation which is built upon bedrock, as it is written:

    "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit."
(Eph. 2:19-22)

    Any good foundation must be anchored in such a manner that it will not topple. That is where the Torah enters the picture. The Torah is the Bedrock upon which the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets has been anchored. To put it another way, the Torah dictates the standards by which the faith structure of our life is to be constructed. It lays out the pattern or design for the Believers way of life. Thus, the Torah is wholly integral with the foundation (the teachings found in the writings of the Apostles and Prophets) and must not be separated from it.
    Our structure of faith must be built upon the Bedrock of the Torah, with "Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building being, joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord."

    Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth, "the chief cornerstone," is the promised Messiah of Scripture.

    Rabbinic Judaism is not built upon this cornerstone (Rock); and much of modern Christianity, while it professes the Rock (Jesus), has not built its foundation on the Bedrock of Torah. In neither case will these completed faith structures survive. For a structure that is set in sand (not anchored to the Bedrock of Torah) will eventually crumble when the sand under it slips away; and a building that is not properly 'joined together' will eventually collapse.
    Even so, we should not discard everything they teach, for both Christianity and Judaism have much to offer us in the way of understanding scripture; and it is only when we build our personal structure of faith with the Rock of Yeshua, upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, anchored to the Bedrock of Torah, that we will have a building that can fully withstand the perils of adversity.

    It is the goal of Hebrew Roots to bring as much good information to you as we are able, in order to help you build your structure of faith on the firm foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, anchored to the Bedrock of Torah, and fitly joined together by the chief cornerstone, Yeshua HaMashiach; Jesus, the Messiah.

~ This Issue ~

    For summer-time reading we offer you a special pair of articles. They both come under the heading; Messianic Expectations. The first. Looking for Messiah, deals with what the first century Jewish people understood about the Messiah, and what He would do when He came.
    The second article (Prepare the Way of the Lord) shows how a basic first century understanding about the Messiah caused many people to expect that there would be not one, but two messiahs, and how this affected the ministry of Yeshua.

~ Tape Offer ~

Again we offer two audio tapes which may be obtained by returning the enclosed Tape Offer Form. Please be sure to check the appropriate boxes before mailing and include your name and address of the form.
Both tapes deal with upcoming Festivals. A Day of Blowing, surveys the various meanings pictured by Rosh HaShanah (Feast of Trumpets). The Days of Awe looks at the importance of the days that lie between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

~ Prayer Request ~

Please keep Hebrew Roots in your prayers, that we might continue to have the strength to withstand the Adversary in his attempts to persuade us to withdraw our hand from the plow.

May the peace of God, be with you always,

Dean & Susan Wheelock

      Hebrew Roots is supported entirely by the prayers and freewill donations of it’s subscribers. It is published several times a year by Dean & Susan Wheelock. Subscriptions are free (based on availability of funds) to anyone who sincerely desires to "...grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ..."
(II Pet. 3:18)

      Those wishing to assist financially in this teaching ministry can do so by sending a check or money order, payable in US funds, to:

Hebrew Roots
P0 Box 98
Lakewood, WI 54138
1-715-757-2775

Copyright July, 1998
All rights reserved.

 


Looking

Messianic Expectations:
Looking for Messiah
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

    

~ Introduction ~

     Judaism and Christianity share many of the same points of view. In fact, there is probably more that unites these two great religions than divides them. After all, the Old Testament Scriptures are held as the Word of God by both religions. Likewise, both parties look forward to the coming of the Messiah to rule, bringing the One World Government of Almighty God to this earth. However, years of enmity between Jews and Christians (including the persecution and death of millions of Jews by people who called themselves 'Christian') has created a great gulf that is hopefully, beginning to be healed.
     Today, many doctrinal differences do exist between Judaism and Christianity. However, the main source of disagreement revolves around the person of 'The Messiah." Christians claim that one Jesus of Nazareth (we prefer to call Him by His Hebrew name, Yeshua) is the prophesied Messiah. They believe that He (Messiah Yeshua) came to earth as a man, was crucified for the sins of all the world, was buried and then, after three days in the grave, was resurrected back to life by Almighty God. His Father in heaven. Christians also believe that Jesus (Messiah Yeshua) is now sitting at the right hand of God the Father in heaven, and that He will soon return to this earth to set up a one thousand year reign as King of kings and Lord of lords over the Kingdom of God on earth.
     Judaism refutes all of these claims concerning Yeshua. However, the orthodox Jewish community does expect a Messiah to come. They often call him King Messiah, because they believe he will be a descendant of King David of the tribe of Judah. They too believe that King Messiah will reign over all the earth for a one thousand year period, and that during this time all nations will learn the ways of God through Torah living.

~ When Will Messiah Come? ~

     Today, many Jews and Christians are expecting the Messiah to come within their lifetime. However, this is not the first time in history in which the Messiah was expected to appear. During the late first century BCE and the early first century CE there were great expectations, among many of the Jewish people, that the promised Messiah would soon arrive. To demonstrate this fact, the following quotes have been selected from a book entitled; A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, by Abba Hillel Silver, pub. by Beacon Press, Boston, 1927.
    " The first century [CE], however, especially the generation before the destruction [of the Temple], witnessed a remarkable outburst of Messianic emotionalism. This is to be attributed, as we shall see, not to an intensification of Roman persecution but to the prevalent belief induced by the popular chronology of that day that the age was on the threshold of the Millennium." (p. 5; italics are the author's; brackets are mine.)
    " It seems likely, therefore, that in the minds of the people the Millennium was to begin around the year 30 C.E" (Ibid., pp. 6-7)
    " Be it remembered that it is not the Messiah who brings about the Millennium; it is the inevitable advent of the Millennium which carries along with it the Messiah and his appointed activities. The Messiah was expected around the second quarter of the first century C.E., because the Millennium was at hand. Prior to that time he was not expected, because according to the chronology of the day the Millennium was still considerably removed." (Ibid., p. 7)
    " It should be borne in mind that Messianism was essentially a political ideal. It was bound up with the restoration of the Davidic dynasty and with the reconstitution of the independence of Israel." (Ibid.,p. 13)
     Those who became 'Believers' saw the coming of Messiah as taking place in the person of Yeshua of Nazareth; who lived a Torah perfect life, was crucified, buried, and resurrected to life by His Father, the Creator of the Universe. While a great number of Jews did become Believers in Yeshua (some estimates range as high as one million in the first century), the majority of Jews did not accept Him. One of the reasons for this lack of universal acceptance of Yeshua among 1st century CE Jewish people, is because they were looking for the immediate entrance of the Millennium along with the promised Kingdom of God. While this may have been the chief reason so many Jews failed to recognize Yeshua as Messiah, in reality there were quite a number of different Messianic concepts going around at that time. However, since Yeshua revealed Himself in a very different manner than most people expected, the fact that He did not immediately restore the Kingdom caused many to deny His Messiahship.
     In order to more fully understand why there were so many differing concepts about the nature of the Messiah, and about what He would do upon arrival, we need to examine some of the messianic writings of that time. But first we need to know the different methods for understanding scripture.

~ Section One ~

~ Four Ways ~
~
To Read the Scriptures ~

     According to the teaching of the Jewish sages, there are four different ways in which any passage of scripture may be understood. All four methods are said to be valid, and all four may produce somewhat different conclusions. This may seem confusing o those of us who have been educated n the culture of Western Civilization, where it is common to believe that communication can and should have only one meaning. This is not the case with the Hebrew mind set, where different meanings are not only accepted, but diligent searches are sometimes made to locate those differences.
    The four methods of interpretation are listed below, from the simplest to the most complex: 

    By using these four different methods of interpretation, the Sages were able to understand that many of the Scriptures, which seemed to have been written in a very literal fashion, also contained layers of more profound meanings. As a result of this viewpoint many orthodox Rabbis might say that all of the Hebrew Scriptures, right down to the letter level, teach in some way about the Messiah and how He is to come to redeem Israel and the world.

~ Section Two

~ Scriptural Definitions ~

    Before proceeding, it would be best to take some time and explore the pashat (literal meanings) of certain terms. This will assist our understanding as to why Yeshua was not universally accepted as the promised Messiah in the land of Judea, among His very own people, the Jews.

~ Messiah ~

    The First word, with which we must come to terms, is one that is used universally by both Jews and Christians: that word is 'Messiah.' In the Greek New Testament, the Hebrew word 'Messiah' becomes the Greek word 'Christos.' from which comes the English word 'Christ.' Thus. the word 'Christ' literally means 'Messiah' or 'anointed.' 'Christ is not a surname for Jesus, rather it is a title that describes His calling or 'anointing.'
    In the King James Version of the Bible, the English word 'Messiah' is found only twice; in Daniel 9:25 and 26. The reason the word 'Messiah' is only found in these two places, is because the translators of the KJV chose to use the English equivalent word 'Messiah' for the Hebrew word mashiach (mah-she-akh; Strong's #4899), instead of the word 'anointed.' which is the more common translation.
    The Hebrew word mashiach actually appears forty-two times in the Hebrew Scriptures. Strong's defines it as: "anointed, usually a consecrated person (as a king, priest, or saint), spec. the Messiah: -- anointed, Messiah."
    The word Mashiach comes from a root word. mashach (mah-shahkh; Strong's #4886). This word means; "to rub with oil, i.e, to anoint, by impl. to consecrate, also to paint — anoint, paint."
    So, the word Messiah, which is used so freely in Christian circles to refer to the person of Jesus (Yeshua), actually means "the anointed," It is important to remember that the anointing of a person or object has the effect of setting it apart from all others of the same type or kind for a special service or function.  

* Priests *

    There are a number of people mentioned in the Scriptures who are said to have been set apart by being 'anointed,' (mashiach). The first of these is Aaron and his sons, who were to serve as the priests of the Tabernacle.

    "'So you shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him. You shall anoint (mashach) them, consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister to Me as priests'"
(Ex. 28:41)

    King David gave us a very beautiful and graphic picture of the anointing of Aaron:

"Behold how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron.
Running down on the edge of
 his garments. ..."
(Psalm 133:1-2)

* Kings *

    The next category of people who were mashiach or 'anointed,' were the kings of Judah and Israel. While the anointing of royalty began with Israel's first king, Saul (see I Sam. 9:16; 10:1). the truly 'anointed kings' were those descended from King David, to whom God gave the promise of perpetual dynasty.

    "So he sent and brought him (David) in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, 'Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!'
    "Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed (mashach) him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. ..."
(I Sam. 16:12-13)

    Even though David had been anointed (mashach) to be king over all of Israel, his anointing did not invalidate that of King Saul. After Saul died, an Amalekite man came to bring David the news of his death, In the process of questioning him, David learned that the Amalekite had (at Saul's own request) assisted Saul in his death. (See I Sam.1:1-10). However, David was not impressed. The Amalekite man probably thought that he would receive a great reward for finishing off Saul, who was David's avowed enemy. However, David's reaction was far different than the Amalekite ever expected:

    "Then David said to the young man who told him, 'Where are you from?' And he answered, 'l am the son of an alien, an Amalekite.'
    "And David said to him, 'How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the lord's anointed (mashiach)?'
    "Then David called one of the young men and said, 'Go near, and execute him!' And he struck him so that he died."
(II Sam. 1:13-15)

    An example like this brings to our attention how extremely important an 'anointing' was considered to be.

* Prophets *

    The third category of people who were mashiach (anointed), during the time of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, were the true prophets of YHVH. The most obvious example is that of the prophet Elisha, who was anointed by his spiritual mentor, Elijah.

    "'Also you (Elijah) shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.'"
(I Kings 19:16)

* Other Kings *

    It is quite remarkable that in at least two instances foreign kings were designated mashiach (anointed). This seems to have only occurred when God had specific tasks that He wanted accomplished.

    "Then the LORD said to him (Elijah): 'Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint (mashach) Hazael as king over Syria. ... it shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill.'"
(I Kings 19:15, 17)

    The second case is the mashach (anointing) of the Persian king Cyrus. lie was the king who gave the-decree for the Jewish people to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple after it had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

    "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: "All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD Cod of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? May the LORD his God he with him, and let him go up!"'"
(I Chron. 36:22-23)

    What is truly amazing about this proclamation is that the man who issued it. King Cyrus of Persia, was actually named by God some 150 years prior to his birth. That fact was reported by the prophet Isaiah:

"'Thus says the LORD to His anointed, (mashiach)
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—...
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.'"

(Isa. 45:1,4)

    As might be expected, the fact that Isaiah spoke and recorded this prophecy from HaShem, and it carne to pass as given, causes some 'scholars' to teach that this latter portion of the Book of Isaiah was written by someone else at a much later date. Scholars call this portion of the book of Isaiah, Deutero/Isaiah.

* Other Anointings *

    The children of Israel were also considered to be mashiach (anointed).

"When they went from one nation to another,
And fr
om one kingdom to another people,
He permitted no main to do them wrong;
Yes, He reproved kings for their sakes,

Saying
'Do not touch My anointed (mashiach) ones,
And do My prophets no harm.'"
(I Chron. 16:20-22)

    Also, many of the objects used in Tabernacle and Temple worship were anointed. The tabernacle itself, the altar, the laver, and the garments of the priests arc among those items mentioned. (Ex. 40:9-13).

~ 'The' Anointed One ~

    Despite all of these references to various people and things which were mashiach (anointed) long before Yeshua's day; it was evident to the Rabbis, through the process of remez, that all of these various 'anointings' pointed in some way or another to the mashiach (anointing) of one who was to be far greater than any of the kings, priests, or prophets who had come before. In other words, all of those previous anointings were types and shadows of the great King Mashiach ("Anointed King") whose coming was prophesied throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.
    In the first century it was commonly taught that 'King Messiah' was to come through the lineage of King David. This 'King Messiah' was to have the most special of all anointings, which would enable Him to bring 'redemption' to His people, the children of Israel. In fact, the very First prophecy that is recognized by the Jewish Rabbis as pertaining to a 'Messiah,' was given in the Garden of Eden by Elohim Himself, just prior to the expulsion of Adam and Eve:

"So the LORD God said to the serpent:
'Because you have done this, ...
"'... I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.'"
(Gen. 3:14-15)

    Anciently, the Rabbi's taught that this passage referred to the time when 'King Messiah' (who was to come from the seed of Eve but not from the seed of Adam) would destroy HaSatan (Satan) the adversary. However, they also taught that at some point in time prior to that event, there was to be a Messiah (again from the seed of the woman) who would 'suffer' for the sins of His people. This is what is said to be meant by the phrase; "And you (HaSatan) shall bruise His heel."
    Keep in mind that the purpose of anointing someone or something was to set that person or object apart from all others for a very special task. All of the examples given so far support this viewpoint, including the two 'anointed' Gentile kings, Cyrus and Hazael. Thus, it would have been unthinkable for the 'Great King Messiah' (who was to rule Israel in the golden age to come) to not be anointed.
    There are many Scriptures that point to this great future figure, however only one specifically identifies "the Most Holy" as being called Mashiach (Anointed). That passage is found in the book of Daniel:

"'Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make r
econciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up the vision and prophecy,
And to
anoint (mashach) the Most Holy.

"'Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until
Messiah (mashiach = anointed) the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; ...
"'And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah (mashiach = anointed)
    shall be cut off, but not for Himself; ..."
(Dan. 9:24-26)

    Here, the word mashiach (anointed) is directly tied to 'the Prince.' It was this future King, who was to come and rule the earth, whom the ancient rabbis called "King Messiah."

~ Son of Man ~

    The next biblical term to be examined is 'Son of Man.' This is the term by which Yeshua most often referred to Himself. Many times, in the Old Testament, the usage of the term 'son of man' is in contrast to the greatness of God.

"'God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do
it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?'"
(Num. 23:19)

    On one hand the appellation (name or title) 'Son of Man' indicates that Yeshua was human, for that is the way in which this phrase is most often used in the Hebrew Scriptures, where it is found a total of forty-seven times. However, on the other hand, the book of Daniel again shows that there can be a much greater application to the meaning of this phrase as well.

"'I watched till thrones were put in place,
And the
Ancient of days was seated;
 His garment was white as snow,
and the hair of His head
was pure wool.
...
"'The cour
t was seated,
And the books were opened.
...
"'I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the
Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and
languages should serve Him.

"'His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom
the one
Which will not be destroyed.'"
(Dan. 7:9-10,13-14)

    The prophet Daniel, under the direct inspiration of Almighty God, once again takes a simple phrase that normally refers to a human being, and applies it to an individual who is characterized as being far greater than any mortal man could ever hope to be. Thus, the phrase 'Son of Man' came to be another euphemism for the great King that was to come and restore the kingdom to Israel; the 'King Messiah.'
    For this reason it was not unusual that Yeshua used the term 'Son of Man' to not only indicate that He was fully human in nature, but that He also was the promised 'Prince' who was expected at that time.

~ Son of God ~

    A term which finds wide usage in the New Testament, but very limited in the Old Testament is "Son of God." Many believe this to be only a New Testament term, where it is used repeatedly to identify the position which Yeshua holds in the scheme of things.

    "'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.'"
(John 3:16)

    The phrase 'Son of God,' in its singular form, is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. However, this phrase is found five times in its plural form (sons of God), where it is used to refer to either men or angels, depending on the context.
    Genesis 6 tells the story about conditions as they existed prior to the Noachian Flood.

    "Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men. that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
    "And the LORD said, 'My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years'
    "There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown."
(Gen. 6:1-4)

    The 'sons of God' spoken of in Genesis refers to those men who were "...mighty men ... of old, men of renown" who took wives for themselves from among the beautiful women who were both descendants and followers of the corrupt worship of Cain. It is clear from Yeshua's own words that spirit beings, whether good angels or fallen angels, cannot take wives unto themselves. (See. Matt. 22:28-30). It was through this mixture of the righteous men ('mighty men') and the corrupt women ('daughters of men'), that true worship of God was perverted and eventually almost died out. By the time of the flood, only Noah "found grace in the eyes of the LORD." (Gen. 6:8).
    The other three occurrences of the phrase 'sons of God' are found in the book of Job. All of these refer to angels being presented before God's throne in heaven, with HaSatan sometimes being among them. (see. Job 1:6; 2:1,38:7).
    The fact that scripture does refer to men as 'gods' and as 'children of God' is verified in the Psalms:

"I said, 'You are gods (elohim),
And all of you are children of the Most High.
But you shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.'
Arise, 0 God, judge the earth;
For you shall inherit all nations."

(Psalm 82:6-8)

    Yeshua used this scripture as an example when the Jewish leadership took issue with His claim that He and the Father were indeed one. Because of His claim, some of the Jews in this group wanted to stone Him.

    "Jesus answered them, 'Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?'
    "The Jews answered Him,
saying, 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, Make Yourself God.'
    "Jesus answered them, 'Is it not written in your law, "I said, 'You are gods?'" If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world. "You are blaspheming," because I said, "I am the Son of God?" If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him'"
(John 10:32-28)

    Even though the singular phrase 'Son of God' is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures, there are several places where an individual is said to be God's Son. The Psalms contain a number of references of this type, which serve to give clues (via remez) as to the identity of the enigmatic "Messiah the Prince" mentioned earlier. While many of these 'Messianic' Psalms can be attributed (via pashat) to King David (who is now resting in his grave awaiting resurrection), the ultimate fulfillment (the deeper meaning or sod), implied by the Psalmist, involves someone far greater.

"Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot vain a thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed (Mashiach), saying,
'Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.'...

"'Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.

"'I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to
Me,
You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give
You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.'"
"Now therefore, be wise, O kings; ...
Serve the LORD with fear, ...
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish
in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.

Blessed
are all those who put their trust in Him."
(Psalm 2:1-3, 6-12)

    It is our belief that Psalm 2 identifies the 'Holy One,' or 'Anointed One' of Daniel 9, as being God the Father's very own Son, whom He has begotten and named Yeshua (salvation).

"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness
is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has
anointed (mashach) You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions."

(Psalm 45:6-7)

    Here we find that 'God,' (Elohim) whose throne is forever, is actually anointed {mashiach) by 'His God' (Elohim). Believers interpret this to mean that Yeshua (the 'Son of God') has been anointed (made Mashiach) by His Father who is His 'God.'
    Psalm 89 is considered by some ancient Jewish writers to be Messianic in nature. (One example showing this fact is Midrash Rabbah Shemot 19.) Although Psalm 89 can be understood as applying to King David at the literal level, at a deeper level it clearly identities a descendent of David who is to be the ultimate, final and eternal King over all of Israel.

"'I have made a covenant with My chosen,
I have sworn to My servant David:
"
Your seed I will establish forever.
And build up your throne to all generations.'"...

"Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one,
And said: I have given help to
one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
I have found My servant David;
With My holy oil I have anointed
(mashach) him, ...

"'But My faithfulness and My mercy shall he with him,
And in My name his horn shall be exalted. ...

"'He shall cry to Me, "You are my father,
 My God, and the rock of my salvation."
Also I will make him
My firstborn,
The highest of the kings of the earth.'"

(Psalm 89:3-4, 19-20a, 24, 26-27)

    While there is no doubt that David the King will one day be resurrected and have a leading role to play in the administration of the Kingdom of God, it does not hold that He is to be called the 'firstborn.' That position can only go to 'The Messiah,' whom we declare to be Yeshua of Nazareth.

    ~ Section Three ~

~ Other Messianic Terms ~
~ In Scripture ~

    There are other Old Testament terms, which have been identified by scholars, both Jewish and Christian, as being 'Messianic.' The 'Branch' and the 'Arm' are two such terms.

    The Branch. There are two Hebrew words that are translated into the English word 'branch,' which point to "The Messiah.'" They are netzer (neht-tzehr; #5342) and tzemach (tzeh-mahkh; Strong's #6780). Netzer is used only one time in this context:

"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse (the father of David),
And a
Branch (netzer) shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD."

(Isa. 11:1-2)

    Tzemaeh is used five times in the context of "The Messiah." A sampling follows:

"In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious;
And the fruit of the earth
shall be excellent and appealing
For those of Israel who have escaped."

(Isa. 4:2)

"'Behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD,
That I will
raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A
King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now
this is His name by which He will be called:
The LORD Our Righteousness."

(Jer. 23:5-6)

    Here the 'Branch' is shown to be a descendant of David and He is to be called YHVH.
    Other references to Tzemach, which show it as symbolizing the Messiah, can be found in Jer. 33:15; Zech. 3:8 and Zech.6:12.
    The Arm. In Hebrew the word for 'arm' is z'ruagh (zch' roo-ahg; Strong's #2220). Probably the most well known of the 'arm' references is found in the midst of the "Suffering Servant" passage.

"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."
(Isa. 53: 1-2)

    Just prior to the "Suffering Servant" section there is a passage in Isaiah that equates the 'arm of the LORD' with the redemption of Jerusalem.

"Break forth into joy, sing together,
You waste places of Jerusalem!
For the LORD has comforted His people,
He has redeemed Jerusalem.

The LORD has made bare His Holy arm

In the eyes of all the nations;
And all the ends of the earth shall see
The salvation
(Heb. = Yeshuah) of our God."
(Isa. 52:9-10)

    A complete survey of all the 'arm' scriptures would be an article in itself. For now let it be said that the ancient Rabbis clearly identified this phrase with the Messiah.

~ Section Four ~
~
Extra Biblical Literature ~

    In Yeshua's day, just like today, there was a great body of 'religious' literature that was not considered to be 'Scripture.' If one were to walk into a Christian bookstore today and inventory all of the books in stock, the ratio of actual Bibles to other books, which teach about the Bible, would probably be about 1 to 100. One difference in Yeshua's day was that all written texts were very expensive to reproduce and therefore rather rare, so the contents of the books or scrolls were usually collected, read, and discussed in the local Yeshivas (Yeh-she-vahs = synagogue schools). It would be a very exceptional (and probably rich) home that would actually own any of the literature scrolls, or even the Torah scrolls. Such treasures were kept well guarded in the local synagogues.
    Despite these problems, there was a rich treasure of extra-biblical writings that came into existence during the last two centuries BCE and the first century CE. These writings did, in some ways, parallel the three major divisions found in the Tanakh (Tah-nakh - Old Testament); the Torah (Instruction or law), the Nevi'im (Neh-vee'eem = Prophets) and the Kethuvim (Keh-two-veem = Writings),
    Some of these extra-biblical writings came to be part of the Apocrypha (Ah-pock-rah-fah) which are found in some of today's Bibles. Writings such as Maccabees are considered to be apocryphal books. They contain much good information, but were not considered by the Sages to be Scripture, and therefore were not included in the Hebrew Bible. These books could contain comments on the law, stories in the form of Midrash, history, wisdom, or a special class of literature that came to be know as 'Apocalyptic Literature.' We will take a special look at this group of writings because they can be of great importance in helping us to understand what the Jewish people of Yeshua's day pictured in their minds, when someone brought up the subject of the long awaited 'Messiah.'

~ Apocalyptic Literature ~

    Apocalyptic Literature became popular within the Jewish community in Judea and Galilee beginning about the middle of the 2nd century BCE. The word 'apocalypse' simply means 'revelation.' Thus, the New Testament Book of Revelation is sometimes called The Apocalypse. However, the revelations found in Apocalyptic Literature (whether part of the Bible or not) are of a special type. They all purport to be 'revelations' concerning those things which are to come to pass at the end of the Present Age and the beginning of the World to Come. These end time understandings were said to be 'revealed' to the writer by means of dreams, visions, a visit from an angel, a view of secret 'holy books,' or a voice from heaven. Sometimes a single apocalyptic book could be the result of a combination of more than one of these methods of revelation.
    In addition to being 'apocalyptic' (a revelation of endtime events), many of these writings were written by unknown authors who assumed the name of some ancient Biblical personage rather than using their own name. For example, the book of I Enoch was written as though it were from the pen of Enoch who lived before the Flood. However, the scholars tell us this book was actually not composed until about 164 BCE. Thus, many 'apocalyptic' books are also known as 'Pseudopigrapha,' that is, the real author (whose name is never mentioned) took the pseudonym of an ancient person and wrote as if that ancient personage were the actual author.
    Most scholars place the book of Daniel into the categories of both Apocalyptic Literature and Pseudopigrapha. Because they have classified Daniel's writing in this manner, they also claim that he was not even a real person, but that some unknown 2nd century BCE author just created the person Daniel out of his imagination. The scholars date Daniel as the being one of the oldest of Apocalyptic Literature, having been composed (they say) about 165 BCE, rather than its internally claimed date of the 6th century BCE. The reason they put this late of a date on the book of Daniel, is because in the text Daniel identifies the first three world ruling kingdoms as being; Babylon, Persia, and Greece. For example, Daniel clearly states:

    "'And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. ..'"
(Dan. 8:21)

    The scholars contend there is no way that a real Daniel, living in the time of the Medo-Persian empire, could have known in advance that the empire which was to follow, some 200 years later, would be ruled from Greece. In other words, they do not believe that the Book of Daniel was inspired, but rather that it was written sometime after Alexander the Great had already conquered the region. This, however, is in direct contradiction to what our Savior Yeshua said:

     "'Therefore when you see the "abomination of desolation," spoken by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place ...'"
(Matt. 24:15)

    By quoting from the book of Daniel, Yeshua not only declares the book to be valid Scripture, He also indicates that Daniel was a real person, and that he was a prophet of God, capable of predicting future events.

~ Characteristics ~
~ Of Apocalyptic Literature ~

    There are a number of methods, that the writers of Apocalyptic Literature share, which serve to identify their work as being 'apocalyptic.' These include, but are not limited to, the following:

    It must be remembered that Apocalyptic Literature was a highly regarded form of prophecy in the era that ran from about 200 BCE into the early 2nd century CE. After the Bar Kochba revolt, which ended in 135 CE, this type of literature disappears.

~ A List ~
~ Of Apocalyptic Literature ~

    There is no universally agreed upon list of Apocalyptic Literature. However, the following non-canonical books (those writings which are not part of the canon considered to be Scripture) are generally accepted to be either fully apocalyptic, or contain some apocalyptic elements. Even though a book is listed as 'apocalyptic,' the entire text may not be of that nature, for in some cases only portions of the listed literature will be in the 'apocalyptic style,

    (The above list, including dates, was taken from: The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, by D.S. Russell, pub. by Westminster Press, 1964.)

    As you can see from the list of books that have come down to the twentieth century. Apocalyptic Literature had a firm place in the writings of that period of time. It is believed that many other apocalyptic books have been lost, and what currently exists is just a fraction of the original number.

    Certain portions of the Tanakh (Old Testament) are also written in the apocalyptic style. In addition to the book of Daniel, the following chapters are considered to fit the narrow definitions of Apocalyptic Literature.

    There is one book in the New Testament that fits the 'apocalyptic' style. That is, as previously mentioned, the Book of Revelation.

    Finally, many of the documents found among the Dead Sea Scrolls contain apocalyptic sections.

~ Looking for the End ~

    While the apocalyptic writers were directing their efforts towards the recording of 'endtime' events, the average Jew who read them probably looked at their fulfillment as being imminent. They understood that the fourth kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar's dream was the Roman Empire, under who's iron hand the Jewish people then resided. Thus it was that the Apocalyptic Literature gave them great hope that the end of their domination by Rome was near, and that the entire nation of Israel would soon be restored. Not only did they expect the nation of Israel to be restored in full, they also believed that it would become the chief of all the nations in the world. They believed that, when that time arrived, Israel would be ruled by the King Messiah, under the laws of the Torah. Thus, they would finally come to fulfill the charge that God had given to them when He brought them out of Egypt.

    "'For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.'"
(Deut. 7:6)

    There is no question that the average first century Jew fully understood the concept of a restored Israel. This position was also clearly stated in the very last conversation that Messiah Yeshua had with His disciples, as they stood on the Mount of Olives just prior to His ascension into heaven.

    "Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, 'Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?'
    "And He said to them. It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.'" (Acts 1:6-7)

    In this passage Yeshua confirms, by His answer, that a restoration of the kingdom of Israel will eventually come to pass, but He also gives absolutely no indication as to when that great event will take place.

    Interestingly enough, both Jews and Christians find themselves in a similar position today, for we currently see the fulfillment of many of the conditions the apocalyptic writers said must come to pass prior to the climax at the close of the age. This causes many, in both religions, to believe that the end of this present age is near. As Believers, we look for the return of our Messiah, Yeshua, to bring an end to this evil society in which we live, by bringing forth the long awaited Kingdom of God, with Israel as the chief nation. Meanwhile, the orthodox Jews believe that a 'King Messiah,' descended from King David, will appear, bringing with Him the Olam Haba (Oh-lahm Hah-bah = the World to Come).

    Even though both Jews and Christians are looking for the coming of the Messiah, no one really knows when He will appear. Yeshua Himself said that even He did not know when His return would take place.

    "'But of that day and hour no one knows.. no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. ...
    "'Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. ...
    "'Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.'"
(Matt. 24:36,42,44)

~ Section Five ~

~ Messianic Terms ~
~ In Apocalyptic Literature ~

    Having already reviewed some basic 'messianic' terms found in Scripture, let us now proceed to see how these same terms are used in the Apocalyptic Literature and other first century sources. This will give us a clearer picture as to why the majority of 1st century Jews did not recognize Yeshua as being "The Messiah."

~ Messiah ~

    In the Apocalyptic Literature there came to be two different concepts of the 'Messiah.' One view saw the Messiah as being a human figure who would restore the kingdom to Israel, bringing the power and grandeur once found in the kingdoms of David and Solomon. However, a second view saw the Messiah as reigning over the 'Kingdom of God,' in the Olam Haba (Oh-lahm Hah-Bah = the World to Come). According to D.S. Russell (in a quote from p 467 of a book entitled; He That Cometh, by S. Mowinckel); "'...these two complexes of ideas are in part represented by different names, 'Messiah' and 'Son of Man'.'" Russell goes on to say: "In some writings these two conceptions are clearly distinguished; in others they are brought together: yet nowhere are they completely fused. Together they form part of that complex eschatology which is the background of the inter-testamental literature and also of the New Testament faith" (p. 308)

    So the term 'Messiah,' as it is used in Apocalyptic Literature, primarily refers to the human figure the Jewish people expected would come and lead them into new national greatness. Yet other writers of this same genre (type or class) and age; "...apparently see no need for a human Messiah, for the coming kingdom is the work of God himself." (Ibid., p. 309). For some first century Jews, the prime expectation was for God Himself to bring in the coming kingdom. But again, neither of these views was universally accepted.

    Another concept that gained favor among certain of the Jewish people of the day, was the idea that there was to be a 'Levitic Messiah.' The Hasmonean family (also know as the Maccabees), who led the successful Jewish revolt against Antiochus Epiphanies, were a part of the Priestly line; descendants of the Mouse of Levi. Their success in overthrowing the Syrian armies, which controlled the Selucid branch of the Greek empire, gained them great prominence among the Jewish people. As a result, Simon Maccabaeus was elevated to the position of High Priest and Leader in 142 BCE. He was given hereditary rights, so that his descendants would enjoy the same position in future generations. However, this combining of priesthood and kingship was in violation of both Scripture and tradition, because by rights the leadership of the nation was supposed to be in the hands of a descendant of King David. Not only that, even though the Hasmoneans were of the priestly line, they were not descendants of Zadok, whose lineage had been established for the office of High Priest since the time of King Solomon. Nevertheless, some Apocalyptic Literature viewed this situation as bringing into view the possibility of two messiahs, one from the tribe of Levi. another from the tribe of Judah. One would act as High Priest, the other as King.

    It is apparent that at least some of the people held hope for a Messiah from the tribe of Levi, and that a descendant of the Hasmonean family would provide such a person. However, the main expectation among the people was for the Messiah to be a direct descendant of King David. The majority of the Apocalyptic Literature and other writings of the period uphold this view. These writings also imply strongly that the 'Davidic Messiah' was to be "thoroughly human." However, despite his 'humanness,' the Davidic Messiah was expected to do a number of almost supernatural things. The following list was distilled from a pseudopigraphic book called the Psalms of Solomon, by the previously mentioned author, D.S. Russell: (p. 318).

    In addition to these great spiritual qualities, this Davidic Messiah was also to be the leader of a fierce army, crushing and defeating all of Israel's enemies. Thus, he was also regarded by many as being a type of Zealot (a revolutionary Jew who wanted to overthrow Roman rule by force).

~ The Prophet ~

    According to the teachings and writings of the day, another figure for whom the Jewish religious leaders were looking, was a 'Prophet' like unto Moses, only greater. This concept was based on the following verse found in the Torah: "'And the LORD said to me: "What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him."'" (Deut.18:17-19)

    Having heard about John the Baptist activities at the Jordan river, the Jewish leadership at Jerusalem sent a contingent of priests and Levites to question him, in an attempt to learn his identity. Notice what they asked:

    "Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you?'
    "He confessed, and did not deny but confessed, 'I am not the Christ
(Messiah).'
    "And they asked him, 'What then? Are you Elijah?' He said, 'I am not.' "Are you the Prophet?' And he answered, 'No.'"
(John 1:19-21)

    This exchange between John and the Jerusalem delegation clearly points out the multiple expectations of the people at that time.

    As you can see, there were quite a variety of figures who were expected to be revealed in the first century CE. The Messiah, Elijah, The Prophet, and if one was to believe the extra-Biblical literature, both a Davidic Messiah and a Levitic Messiah, plus a 'Suffering Servant. Needless to say, the discussions and controversies among the people, based on these various concepts, must nave been both intense and, at times, heated.

~ Son of Man ~

    As we pointed out earlier in this article, the phrase 'Son of Man' is used in the Old Testament to mean a human man. However, Daniel 9:24-26 applies this phrase to someone far greater, and more mysterious. The Apocalyptic Literature of the day amplified this concept into, what D.S. Russell calls an: "...enigmatic figure..." who's emphasis was "...on the transcendent, the supernatural, the supramundane." Russell goes on to say that the controversy over the meaning and usage of the phrase 'Son of Man' has been caused, in part, by: "...the use of the term by Jesus to describe himself, the nature of his ministry and the future hope associated with the coming of God's kingdom in the Gospel tradition." (Ibid., p. 324).

    In the Similitudes of Enoch (a section of the book of I Enoch which is also known as the Parables of Enoch), the phrase 'Son of Man' is used to describe someone who is called, in other places, the 'Elect One,' the 'Righteous One' or 'his Anointed.'
    Once again, D.S. Russell has this to say about the enigmatic 'Son of Man' as he is described in the Similitudes of Enoch:
    "...the expression does not simply signify 'a man' or 'a certain man', but a Man in a very special sense, the mention of whose name would mean something of significance to those who heard it or read it.
    "He is presented here as a heavenly being with no prior human existence whatsoever. ...
    "And yet, although he is supernatural and divine, nevertheless as 'the Elect One' he stands as the representative and head of 'the elect ones', that heavenly company of righteous men who will one day inherit the kingdom which God has promised to his chosen people. ... He is not only righteous himself, he is able to effect righteousness by bringing salvation to God's own people who will one day be exalted to be with him....
    "...But the greatest secret is the Son of Man himself who has been not only chosen but also hidden before the creation of the world and preserved in God's presence. But one day he will be revealed; indeed he has been revealed already to the elect by the wisdom of the Lord of Spirits... God sets him on a throne just like his own and even sets him on his own throne allowing him to share his divine glory" (Ibid., pp. 332-333).

    Russell points out that Yeshua did not take the title Messiah to Himself, and asked that ills disciples not broadcast that fact, once they had come to realize that He, in fact, was the Messiah;

    "When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?'
    "So they said, 'Some
say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'
    "He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?'
    "And Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ
(Mashiach), the Son of the living God.'
    "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed
this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.'"
(Matt 16:13-17)

    Russell also points out that even before the time of Yeshua there was:
    "...a certain amount of fusion between the two figures. ... ! Enoch attaches to the transcendent Son of Man certain characteristics which were already familiar to the tradition of the Messiah: he is righteous and wise, he is chosen by God, he receives the homage of kings, he is a light to the Gentiles and is actually called 'the Anointed One' of God" (Ibid.,p 332).

    While the connection between the Messiah and the Son of Man was known to some of the writers of the time. the scholars generally agree that this connection had not yet been made by the majority of the populace during the time of Yeshua's ministry. It was Yeshua Himself who brought these two concepts together, showing them to be two different facets of one individual.

~ Suffering Servant ~

    Yeshua also brought another enigmatic Jewish eschatological figure into the proper understanding of Himself. That figure was known as the 'Suffering Servant.' Apocalyptic Literature, and other eschatological writing of this period, deals with this figure and relates him to both the 'Messiah' and the 'Son of Man.'

    "And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
(Mark 8:31)

    The disciples were apparently quite astonished by Yeshua's statement, indicating that they had never made the connection between the Messiah, the Son of Man and the Suffering Servant. Peter actually took Yeshua aside and chided Him for saying such a thing. This brought a stem rebuke from Yeshua.
    The 'Suffering Servant' passage found in Isaiah 52:13 -53:12 is perhaps one of the major points of disagreement between Christians and Jews today. Jews interpret this passage as referring to the people of Israel, while Christians see it as a clear reference to the Messiah, Yeshua. Neither side wishes to budge from their preconceived position. However, it must be noted that a great many of the ancient Jewish manuscripts teach that the 'Suffering Servant' passage does refer to the Messiah. Take the following verse for an example:

    "Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently,
    He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high."

(Isa. 52:13)

    Now let us compare this to the following quote from the Targum Jonathan, which is an Aramaic paraphrase of the Scriptures, written during the Second Temple period to assist those who were not fluent in Hebrew to a proper understanding of the Scriptures.
    "Behold, my Servant Messiah shall prosper; He shall be high, and increased, and be exceedingly strong." *
[* The Messiah of the Tanach, Targums and Talmuds, by F. Kenton Beshore, D.D. LL.D. Ph.D., pub by World Bible Society, Los Angeles, 1971, Chart 15.]

    Here we see clearly that at least one 1st century understanding of this passage equated the 'Suffering Servant' to the Messiah.
    Another marvelous Jewish book that covers the subject of the Messiah in depth is: The Messiah Texts, by Raphael Patai, pub by Wayne State University Press, Detroit. 1979. Patai dedicates an entire chapter to; The Suffering Messiah, Following are a few of his comments and quotes:
    "The Messiah himself, ... must spend his entire life, from the moment of his creation until the time of his advent many centuries or even millennia later, in a state of constant and acute suffering. ...
    "In all this the Messiah becomes heir to the Suffering Servant of God. who figures prominently in the prophecies of Deutero-lsaiah, and who suffers undeservedly for the sins of others." (pp. 104-105).

    The next quote from The Messiah Texts is taken from an eleventh century CE manuscript called Midrash Konen.
    "'And in it is Messiah ben David who loves Jerusalem. Elijah of blessed memory takes hold of his head, places it in his lap and holds It, and says to him: "Endure the sufferings and the sentence of your Master who makes you suffer because of the sin of Israel." And thus it is written: he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities (Isa. 53:5)"until the time when the end comes."' (Ibid., p 115).

    It is apparent that even as late as the eleventh century CE, the Jewish sages understood Isaiah 52-5.3 as applying directly to the Messiah.

~ Son of God ~

    References to the Messiah being the 'Son of God' are infrequent in the existing extra-biblical literature of this period. However, as we have already seen, there are repeated allusions to this possibility in the Scriptures themselves. Following is one such passage:

"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace."
(Isa. 9:6)

    Christians understand this verse as applying to Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). Jews take issue with this idea by pointing out that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies contained in this passage. Christians counter by saying that He will do so at His second coming.
    Such arguments can continue endlessly with neither side giving an inch to the other. However, the Targum Jonathan, renders this same verse with a definite reference to the Messiah.
    "For to us a SON is born, to us a Son is given: and He shall receive the Law upon HIM to keep it: and HIS name is called from of Old, Wonderful, Counselor, ELOHA, THE MIGHTY, Abiding to Eternity, THE MESSIAH, because peace shall be multiplied on us in HIS days." **
[* Ibid. .Chart 16.]

    Here we find clear evidence, from the Aramaic paraphrase, that the Jews of Yeshua's day saw this passage as referring directly to the promised Messiah, and that He was to be called a 'Son.'
    Another 'messianic' passage that receives similar treatment is found in the Psalms:

"'I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
You
are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.'"

(Psalm 2:7)

    Midrash Tehelim, fol, 3, col. 4 is quoted on page 108 of a book by Philip N. Moore entitled; The End of History--Messiah Conspiracy, as follows:

    "When the time of the advent of Messiah will be near, then the blessed God will say to him: 'With him I will make a new covenant' And this is the time when he will acknowledge him as his son, saying This day have I begotten thee.'" ***
[*** Moore, in turn, is quoting from the following publication: Rev. B. Pick, Ph.D., Old Testament Passages Messianically Applied by the Ancient Synagogue, published in the compilation. Hebraica, A Quarterly Journal in the Interests of Semitic Study, vol. II, p. 129.]   

    Another reference which clearly shows the title 'Son of God' enjoyed some usage during the 1st century, is found in fragment 4Q246 of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    "'he shall be called the son of the God; they will call him the Son of the Most High ...He will judge the earth in righteousness, ..and every nation will bow down to him.. .with (God's) help he will make war, and...[God] will give all the peoples into his power.'" ****
[**** From an article by Michael Wise and James Tabor, Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 1992. Quoted in a footnote by Philip N. Moore, The End of History— Messiah Conspiracy, p. 109]

    One interesting aspect of this passage is that it speaks not of multiple messiahs, but of one Messiah.

~ Conclusion ~

    It is apparent from this brief survey of the Scriptures and various 1st Century Jewish writings, that there was not a single unified view of exactly who the Messiah might be, what He would do when He arrived, or even how many Messiahs would show up. About the only thing upon which there was agreement was the fact that Messiah was expected to appear in the 1st Century CE, and probably during the first third of that century.
    Many people believed that the Messiah (or a Messiah if they thought there might be more than one) would usher in a period of greatness for the nation of Israel. According to Acts 1:6-7, it seems as though many, if not all, of the disciples of Yeshua expected that very event to take place in the near future. Some also believe that Judas iscariot was, in fact, a member of the Sacarii, the band of assassins that operated within the Zealot party. It is believed that Judas betrayed Yeshua so that He would be forced to reveal Himself as Messiah and unite the Jews to overthrow the Roman rule, just as the Maccabees had done to the Syrians, some 175 years previous.
    Is it any wonder that many people (who may have followed Yeshua during His ministry) who were expecting the Messiah to bring in the Kingdom of God at that time, were more than a little disillusioned when they discovered that Yeshua had been crucified and was laying dead in a tomb?
    Actually, a number of his disciples gave up following Him much earlier, when He tried to explain to them that He had come from God and was going to return to God. This was just not the 'Messiah' they were expecting. Yeshua made these important remarks on the day following the feeding of the five thousand. He had escaped the crowds by returning to Capernaum, however they figured out where He was and crossed over the lake to find Him. It was the Passover season, when all the Jews were required to eat only bread that was unleavened, and He took the opportunity to teach them about the true bread:

    "And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, 'Rabbi, when did You come here?'
    "Jesus answered them and said, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.'
    "Then they said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?'
    "Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'
    "Therefore they said to Him, 'What sign will You perform then, that we may see It and believe You? What work will You do: "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.""
    "Then Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.'
    "Then they said to Him, 'Lord, give us this bread always.'
    "And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.'
    "The Jews then murmured against Him, because He said, 'I am the bread which came down from heaven.' And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, "I have come down from heaven?'"
    "Jesus therefore answered and said to them, 'Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, "
And they shall all be taught by God," Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.'
    "The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, 'How can this
Man give us His flesh to eat?'
    "Then Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day, For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.' 
   
    "These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, 'This is a hard saying; who can understand it?'
    "When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured about this. He said to them, 'Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life., But there are some of you who do not believe.'
    "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, 'Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.'
    "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more."
(John 6:25-66)

    Given the current understanding about the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Suffering Servant, and the Son of God; the words of Yeshua were, at least for some, very difficult meat to swallow. We should all be able to appreciate the fact that here was a flesh and blood man standing up before them saying that He had been in heaven and had come down to dwell with them. Not only that. He talked about them eating His flesh and drinking His blood. If that were to be taken literally, rather in the symbolic way in which it was intended, the effect on the Jewish listener would have been one of revulsion, for these were people who had been taught from birth to never eat or drink blood. So strict were they on this point, their meat had to go through a strict process of kashering to draw out as much blood as possible before it was thoroughly cooked. Not only that, the idea of eating human flesh would have been even more repulsive, for these people would not even touch the meat of swine, much less human flesh!
    So, for the literalists, this message was a real stumbling block. However, there were those whom the Father had called to be a part of the Bride of Messiah, who were able to accept the teaching and understand it at least in a partial sense.

    "Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?'
    "Then Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ (Mashiach), the Son of the living God."'
(John 6:67-69)

    We have quoted this passage from the book of John at length because it serves to point out the crux of the controversy that swirled around Yeshua during His time of ministry. It also serves to point out in clarity how those who were looking for a different kind of 'Messiah' were not going to be able to discern that Yeshua was indeed that individual.
    Today, as Believers, we face a similar situation. What do you believe the Messiah is going to do when He arrives? Will He come dressed as a Bridegroom or as a Man of War? Is He going to come wearing a three piece suit, looking like corporate America? Or will He wear long robes and appear as a great religious leader? Will He be wearing fringes (tzit-tzit) on His garments? Will His hair be short and neatly trimmed, or will it be long and scraggly? Will He have a beard, and if so, what will it look like?
    We all must be careful not to put our Savior, the Messiah Yeshua, into a little box and say that if He does not look or act in the manner we expect then He cannot be the Messiah. That is exactly what happened when Yeshua first appeared, causing many to overlook Him.
    Therefore, let all who believe in Him continue to proclaim

    "...the Good News, since it is God's powerful means of bringing salvation to everyone who keeps on trusting, to the Jew especially, but equally to the Gentile. For it is revealed how God makes people righteous in his sight; and from beginning to end it is through trust — as the Tanakh puts it, 'But the person who is righteous will live his life by trust'"
(Rom. 1:16-18 JNT)

    If we indeed belong to Him (a part of His beautiful Bride), then when He comes we have this blessed assurance:

    "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."
(I John 3:2-3)

    Since Yeshua is the 'Son of God,' and we shall be like Him, then what shall we be like?
    Shalom.
                                        DEW

~ ~ ~

~ Sources ~

Beshore, F. Kenton. D.D. LL.D. Ph.D.,  The Messiah of the Tanach, Targums and Talmuds, World Bible Society, Los Angeles, 1971.
Green, Jay P., St., The Interlinear Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, 1985.
Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G., Th.M., Ph.D., Jesus Was A Jew, Ariel Ministries, PO Box 3723, Tustin, CA 92681, 1981.
Frydtand, Rachmiel, What the Rabbis Know About the Messiah, Messianic Literature Outreach, Columbus, OH, 1991.
Moore, George Foote, Judaism In the First Centuries of the Christian Era, Harvard University Press, Cambridge. 1955.
Moore, Philip N., The End of History -- Messiah Conspiracy, The Conspiracy Incorporated, PO Box 12227, Atlanta. GA 30355,1996.
The Open Bible, The New King James Version,
Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1985.
Patai, Raphael, The Messiah Texts, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1979.
Russell. D.S., The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1964.
Silver. Abba Hillel, A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, Beacon Press, Boston, 1927.
Strong, James, S.T.D., L.L.D., Strong's New Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, World Bible Publishers, Inc., Iowa Falls, 1986.
Wigram, George V., The Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1980.

BIBLICAL SEMINAR
Preparing the Bride of Messiah
Saturday, August 29, 1998
9:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M.
Guest Speakers: Dean Wheelock & Lee Lisman
New Life Center
6850 Highland Drive
Everett, Washington
sponsored by the
Church of God - Everett
Schedule:

9:00 - 9:15
9:15 - 10:00
10:15 -11:00
11:15 - 12:00
12:00 - 1:00
1:15 - 2:00
2:15 - 3:00

Opening Service
Knowing Our Husband - Dean Wheelock
A Lesson from Shechem - Lee Lisman
Learning Our Husband's Ways -
Dean Wheelock
Free lunch provided.
Satan's Devices -
Lee Lisman
Becoming a Chaste Bride -
Dean Wheelock

    After the seminar (3:15 - 5:30) there will be an Interactive Question & Answer Session followed by fellowship at the regular meeting hall of the Church of God - Everett, 1703 Madison Street, only two blocks away.
    The seminar and lunch are free. Donations will be accepted. To assist in the preparation of lunch; kindly RSVP.

For More Information and to RSVP:
Visit the Website at: http://home1.gte.net/coge
E-mail:
coge@gte.net
or contact:
Dan & Mary Stevens
(360)653-6084

    Lee Lisman lives in Battle Ground, Washington with his wife, Patty, and their two children, Matthew, 16, and Lori, 12. For 15 years Lee was in the ministry of the Church of God International until his resignation in 1995. Currently he is not part of any organized group. He is an associate editor of Servant's News and is a contributing writer to The Journal. Lee is well know for his insightful article entitled Learning Lessons From Our Own Church History.

    Dean and Susan Wheelock live in northeastern Wisconsin. They are co-founders of Hebrew Roots, a publication and tape ministry dedicated to exploring the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith.
    The Wheelock's main objective is to help members of the Bride of Messiah (commonly called the Church) to prepare for their imminent marriage to the Lamb of God, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah)

Back

Next

1