The term messiah comes from the Hebrew meshiach, meaning "anointed one." In the Old Testament it was used of historical personages such as the anointed kings and priests of Israel. During the Babylonian Captivity (587 - 540 BC), Israelite hopes for a restored monarchy and priesthood flourished. With the return of the exiles to Jerusalem and the emergence of Zerubbabel and Joshua ben Jehozadak as political ruler and high priest, respectively, these hopes were to some extent realized.
The later fortunes of Israel, especially under the Seleucids of Syria, kept alive the hope for a future and final deliverance, sometimes with and sometimes without a messianic figure. The revolt of the Maccabees briefly kindled the hope that in the Hasmonean line an ideal priest - king had emerged. But the corruption of the later Hasmoneans led to the secession of part of the priestly caste to Qumram, where various forms of messianic hope were entertained, sometimes involving two messiahs - one from the house of Aaron (a priest) and one from the house of Israel (a king) together with a prophet. The so called Psalms of Solomon, which expressed the piety of the Pharisees, looked only for a messiah descended from David.
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In the Books of Enoch, the figure of the Messiah coalesced with the apocalyptic "Son of Man," a supernatural judge and savior appearing at the end.
Whether Jesus Christ claimed to be the Messiah is disputed, though the Gospels affirm that he did (Mark 14:62). The post Easter Christian community clearly ascribed the title Messiah to him (Acts 2:36) in a sense redefined by the crucifixion and resurrection faith. Translated into Greek, the title became Christos (Christ), which, improperly understood, became a proper name.
Reginald H Fuller
O Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament (1959); R H Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology (1965); M Hengel, The Son of God: The Origin of Christology and the History of Jewish - Hellenistic Religion (1976); S Mowinckel, He That Cometh (1954); G Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism (1972).
Messiah (Heb. mashiah), in all the thirty-nine instances of its occurring in the Old Testament, is rendered by the LXX. "Christos." It means anointed. Thus priests (Ex. 28:41; 40:15; Num. 3:3), prophets (1 Kings 19:16), and kings (1 Sam. 9:16; 16:3; 2 Sam. 12:7) were anointed with oil, and so consecrated to their respective offices. The great Messiah is anointed "above his fellows" (Ps. 45:7); i.e., he embraces in himself all the three offices. The Greek form "Messias" is only twice used in the New Testament, in John 1:41 and 4:25 (R.V., "Messiah"), and in the Old Testament the word Messiah, as the rendering of the Hebrew, occurs only twice (Dan 9:25, 26; R.V., "the anointed one"). The first great promise (Gen. 3:15) contains in it the germ of all the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament regarding the coming of the Messiah and the great work he was to accomplish on earth.
The prophecies became more definite and fuller as the ages rolled on; the light shone more and more unto the perfect day. Different periods of prophetic revelation have been pointed out, (1) the patriarchal; (2) the Mosaic; (3) the period of David; (4) the period of prophetism, i.e., of those prophets whose works form a part of the Old Testament canon. The expectations of the Jews were thus kept alive from generation to generation, till the "fulness of the times," when Messiah came, "made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." In him all these ancient prophecies have their fulfilment. Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the great Deliverer who was to come. (Comp. Matt. 26:54; Mark 9:12; Luke 18:31; 22:37; John 5:39; Acts 2; 16:31; 26:22, 23.)
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
The study of the rise and development of the figure of the Messiah is primarily historical, and then theological. Confusion arises when specifically Christian ideas about the Messiah invade the OT data. Jesus' concept of his messianic mission did not accord with contemporary popular Jewish expectation.
How did the national Messiah come to be a future ideal king? After the death of David, Israel began to hope for another like him who would maintain the power and prestige of the country. But Israel came into hard times with the rupture of the kingdom, and with this event there arose a disillusionment concerning the hope for a king like David. Then after the Exile, Zerubbabel, a descendant of David, took the leadership of Judah, but it developed that he was not another David. Gradually the hope was projected into the future, and eventually into the very remote future, so that the Messiah was expected at the end of the age.
This is the mood of the messianic expectations in the latter part of the OT. Such prophecies are common. For example, Jer. 33 promises a continuation of the Davidic line; Isa. 9 and 11 foresee the regal splendor of the coming king; Mic. 5:2 looks forward to the birth of the Davidic king in Bethlehem; and Zech. 9 and 12 describe the character of the messianic kingdom and reign.
The Son of man figure in Daniel is not to be identified with the Messiah; it is later in the history of Judaism that the two figures were seen to be one. The suffering servant of Isaiah by reason of his role is yet another figure. So the Messiah, or future ideal king of Israel, the Son of man, and the suffering servant were three distinct representations in the OT.
Out of the welter of messianic hopes in this period there emerges a pattern: two kinds of Messiah came to be expected. On one hand, there arose an expectation of a purely national Messiah, one who would appear as a man and assume the kingship over Judah to deliver it from its oppressors. On the other hand, there was a hope for a transcendent Messiah from heaven, part human, part divine, who would establish the kingdom of God on earth. To the popular Jewish mind of the first two centuries before and after Christ these two concepts were not mutually hostile, but tended rather to modify each other. It has been argued by some scholars that the conflation of the concepts of Messiah and suffering servant took place in the intertestamental period, but the sole evidence for this is from the Targums, which are post-Christian.
The first generation of the church did not hesitate to refer to Jesus as the Christ, and thereby designate him as the greater Son of David, the King. The word was used first as a title of Jesus (Matt. 16:16) and later as part of the personal name (e.g., Eph. 1:1). Peter's sermon at Pentecost acknowledged Jesus not only as the Christ, but also as Lord, and so the fulfillment of the messianic office is integrally linked to the essential deity of Jesus. Acts 2:36 affirms that Jesus was "made" Christ, the sense of the verb being that by the resurrection Jesus was confirmed as the Christ, the Messiah of God. Rom. 1:4 and Phil. 2:9-11 contain the same thought. Other messianic titles attributed to Jesus include Servant, Lord, Son of God, the King, the Holy One, the Righteous One, and the Judge.
D H Wallace
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)
S. Mowinckel, He That Cometh; V. Taylor, The Names of Jesus; T. W. Manson, Jesus the Messiah and The Servant-Messiah; F. Hahn, The Titles of Jesus in Christology; R. N. Longenecker, The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity; H. Ringgren, The Messiah in the OT; H. L. Ellison, The Centrality of the Messianic Idea for the OT; H. H. Rowley, The Servant of the Lord; B. B. Warfield, "The Divine Messiah in the OT," in Biblical and Theological Studies; J. Klausner, The Messianic Idea in Israel; E. Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, vol. 2 (rev.).
Messiah (noun), "anointed one; Messiah." Of the 39 occurrences of masiah, none occurs in the wisdom literature. They are scattered throughout the rest of biblical literary types and periods.
First, masiah refers to one who is anointed with oil, symbolizing the reception of the Holy Spirit, enabling him to do an assigned task. Kings (1 Sam. 24:6), high priests, and some prophets (1 Kings 19:16) were so anointed: "If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people..." (Lev. 4:3, the first biblical appearance). In the case of Cyrus, he was anointed with God's Spirit only and commissioned an "anointed deliverer" of Israel (Isa. 45:1). The patriarchs, too, are called "anointed ones": "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm" (Ps. 105:15).
Second, the word is sometimes transliterated "Messiah." After the promise to David (2 Sam. 7:13) masiah refers immediately to the Davidic dynasty, but ultimately it points to the "messiah," Jesus the Christ: "The kings of the earth [take their stand], and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his Anointed..." (Ps. 2:2). In Dan. 9:25 the word is transliterated: "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince..." The New Testament also attests the word in this latter meaning (John 1:41). Most frequently in the New Testament the word is translated ("Christ") rather than transliterated ("Messiah").
Messiah (noun), "anointment." This noun occurs 21 times and only in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It always follows the Hebrew word for oil. The first occurrence is Exod. 25:6: "Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense."
Messiah (verb), to smear with oil or paint, anoint." This verb, which appears 69 times in biblical Hebrew, has cognates in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Aramaic, and Arabic. The objects of this verb are people, sacrificial victims, and objects of this verb in Exod. 30:30: "And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office."
The name or title of the ideal king of the Messianic age; used also without the article as a proper name-"Mashiaḥ" (in the Babylonian Talmud and in the midrash literature), like Χριστός in the Gospels. The Grecized Μεσσιας of the New Testament (John i. 41, iv. 25) is a transliteration of the Aramaic form, Aramaic being the spoken language of Palestine in the time of Jesus. "The Messiah" (with the article and not in apposition with another word) is, however, not an Old Testament expression, but occurs for the first time in apocalyptic literature. Similarly, in all probability the use of the word "Mashiaḥ" to denote the Messianic king is not found earlier than the apocalyptic literature. In the Old Testament the earliest use of the word is with Yhwh (or with a pronominal suffix referring to Yhwh) as a title of the ruling sovereign Meshiaḥ Yhwh ("God's anointed one"; I Sam. ii. 10, 35; xii. 3, 5; xvi. 6; xxvi. 9, 11, 16, 23; II Sam. i. 14, 16; xix. 21; II Chron. vi. 42; Ps. xviii. 51 [A. V. 50]; xx. 7 [A. V. 6]; cxxxii. 17 [applying to David]; Lam. iv. 20). In post-exilic times, the high priest, filling the place formerly occupied by the king, is spoken of as "ha-Kohen ha-Mashiaḥ" (the anointed priest; Lev. iv. 3, 5, 16; vi. 5), also (Dan. ix. 25, 26) as "Mashiaḥ Nagid" (an anointed one, a ruler) and simply "Mashiaḥ" (an anointed one), referring to Onias III. As the anointing of the high priest consecrated him above all his brethren to God's service and gave him immediate access to God (comp. Lev. viii. 12, xxi. 10-12; Zech. iii. 7), so the anointing of the king made him Meshiaḥ Yhwh, placed him in a special relationship to God, and established him as the one chosen by God to represent His rulership in Israel and to bear witness to His glory before the nations (comp. II Sam. vii. 8-11, 14; Isa. lv. 4; Ps. lxxxix. 4, 21-29). As "God's anointed one" the king was sacrosanct and inviolable (comp. I Sam. xxvi. 9). Hence the later applications of the title "Meshiaḥ Yhwh" in the Old Testament.
In Isa. xlv. 1 Cyrus is called "God's anointed one," because God has called him and given him victory after victory for the distinct purpose of putting an end to the Babylonian kingdom and the worship of idols, of setting free exiled Israel, and thus introducing the new era of God's universal dominion. In Ps. cv. 15 the Patriarchs are called "God's anointed ones" because they are under the special protection of God and therefore inviolable. Finally, in Hab. iii. 13, Ps. xxviii. 8, lxxxiv. 10 (A. V.9), and possibly in lxxxix. 39, 52 (A. V. 38, 51), the title is applied to Israel, God's chosen people. See Anointing.
"Mashiaḥ" (anointed one of God) in Ps. ii. 2, which was formerly thought to have Messianic reference, is now taken as referring either to a Hasmonean king or to Israel. The latter interpretation is that prevailing in the Midrash (comp. Midr. Rabbah and Tanḥuma, Emor; Yalḳuṭ, Toledot, near end; Midr. Shoḥer Ṭob, ad loc.), though the Messianic interpretation occurs in the eschatological description (Pesiḳ. Zuṭarta, Balaḳ).
The Ideal in Isaiah.
But though the name is of later origin, the idea of a personal Messiah runs through the Old Testament. It is the natural outcome of the prophetic future hope. The first prophet to give a detailed picture of the future ideal king was Isaiah (ix. 1-6, xi. 1-10, xxxii. 1-5). Of late the authenticity of these passages, and also of those passages in Jeremiah and Ezekiel which give expression to the hope in a Messiah, has been disputed by various Biblical scholars (comp. Hackmann, "Die Zukunftserwartung des Jesaiah"; Volz, "Die Vorexilische Jahweprophetie und der Messias"; Marti, "Gesch. der Israelitischen Religion," pp. 190 et seq.; idem, "Das Buch Jesaia"; Cheyne, "Introduction to Isaiah," and edition and transl. of Isaiah in "S. B. O. T.").
The objections of these scholars, however, rest principally on the hypothesis that the idea of the Messiah is inseparably bound up with the desire for universal dominion, whereas, in reality, this feature is not a characteristic of the Messianic hope until a later stage of its development. The ideal king to whom Isaiah looks forward will be a scion of the stock of Jesse, on whom will rest the spirit of God as a spirit of wisdom, valor, and religion, and who will rule in the fear of God, his loins girt with righteousness and faithfulness (xi. 1-3a, 5). He will not engage in war or in the conquest of nations; the paraphernalia of war will be destroyed (ix. 4); his sole concern will be to establish justice among his people (ix. 6b; xi. 3b, 4). The fruit of his righteous government will be peace and order throughout the land. The lamb will not dread the wolf, nor will the leopard harm the kid (xi. 8); that is, as the following verse explains, tyranny and violence will no longer be practised on God's holy mountain, for the land will be full of the knowledge of God as the water covers the sea (comp. xxxii. 1, 2, 16). The people will not aspire to political greatness, but will lead a pastoral life (xxxii. 18, 20). Under such ideal conditions the country can not but prosper, nor need it fear attack from outside nations (ix. 6a, xxxii. 15). The newly risen scion of Jesse will stand forth as a beacon to other nations, and they will come to him for guidance and arbitration (xi. 10). He will rightly be called "Wonderful Counselor," "Godlike Hero," "Constant Father," "Prince of Peace" (ix. 5).
The "Immanuel" Passage.
This picture of the future fully accords with Isaiah's view, that the judgment will lead to a spiritual regeneration and bring about a state of moral and religious perfection; and it agrees also with the doctrine, which, in his bitter opposition to the alliances with Assyria and Egypt, he preached to his people-the doctrine, namely, that their sole concern should be God and their sole reliance be on Him, for thus, and thus only, might they endure (vii. 9; comp. also v. 4, viii. 13, xxx. 15). The prophets advocated a government which would be in conformity with God's will and be regulated by His laws of righteousness. In connection with Isaiah's Messianic hope it remains to be observed that the "Immanuel" passage, Isa. vii. 14, which is interpreted in Matt. i. 23 as referring to the birth of Jesus, has, as Robertson Smith ("The Prophets of Israel," pp. 271 et seq., 426 et seq.) and others have pointed out, no Messianic import whatever. The name has reference merely to events of the immediate present. He means to give a token by which the truth of his prophetic word may be tested, saying that any young woman giving birth to a son in the near future will call him "Immanuel" (= "God with us"), in remembrance of the withdrawal of the Syrian-Ephraimitic armies from the country (v. 16). "'Almah" does not mean "virgin" (as given in A. V. and other versions; the only word meaning this is "betulah"), but "a young woman sexually mature," whether married or unmarried; the article "ha-" of "ha-'almah" is the generic article.
In Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
The idea of a personal Messiah is not met with again until the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel (the Messianic picture of Micah v. 1, 3-8, as is proved by the fact that in it Israel and the Messiah hold dominion over the nations, according to this view can not be a pre-exilic product of prophecy; in fact, it must have originated late in post-exilic times). Jeremiah's picture of the Messiah is not a detailed one; but, like his future hope in general, it agrees in all essentials with that of Isaiah. The Messiah will be "a righteous sprout of David," who will establish just judgment and wise government in the country, and whose name will be (= "God is our salvation"; xxiii. 5, 6; these two verses recur in almost the same form in xxxiii. 15, 16, but in the latter verse the name is applied to Jerusalem, an application which did not originate with Jeremiah. Ch. xxx. 9 et seq., 21 does not claim consideration here, as it is of later origin).
In Ezekiel, the Messiah is a purely passive figure, the only personal reference to him being in xvii. 23-"he will become a mighty cedar" (Hebr.). The regeneration of the people, like their restoration, is exclusively the work of God.
But in xxxiv. 23 et seq., xxxvii. 24 et seq., which passages date from exilic times, there is an entirely new feature-the prophecy that David will be the king of the future state. As after the decline of the Holy Roman Empire the saga arose of the return of the emperor-hero Barbarossa, so, after the fall of the nation, the Jews of the Exile dreamed of the coming of a second David, who would reestablish them as a glorious nation. So Ezekiel lays emphasis on the fact that the future Israel is to be a united nation as it was under David of old. The hope in the return of David is expressed also in the spurious passage mentioned above (Jer. xxx. 9) and in the gloss to Hos. iii. 5 ("and David their king"), and ismet with sporadically also in Neo-Hebraic apocalyptic literature (see below). In post-exilic prophetic literature the hope in a Messiah is found only in the first two prophets of the post-exilic community, Haggai and Zechariah, and in Deutero-Zechariah, ch. ix., which, probably, dates from the time of the Seleucids. Haggai and Zechariah see in Zerubbabel the promised "sprout of David"; but they state merely that he will rebuild the Temple and attain great eminence as a ruler (Hag. ii. 23; Zech. iii. 8, vi. 12).
Deutero-Zechariah's Messiah has much in common with Isaiah's. He is described (Zech. ix. 9, 10) as a righteous Prince of Peace, who will rise from the ranks of the pious and oppressed, who will ride into Jerusalem not in military splendor, but on an ass (comp. Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on an ass, and also Ibn Ḳuṭaibah's account of Salman, the governor of Medina at the time of the dissensions of the califs, who rode upon an ass in order to show his advocacy of peace). For, unlike worldly rulers, he will not maintain his dominion by the sword-he will destroy all the instruments of war (if, instead of , is read in accordance with the LXX. , 3d s. m.); but, by his jurisdiction, which will extend to the ends of the earth, he will establish peace among the nations. Thus Deutero-Zechariah's conception of the Messiah combines Isaiah's conception with the hope of world-dominion cherished by his own age.
Ideal of the Second Isaiah.
The personal Messiah does not figure at all in the future hope of Deutero-Isaiah, whose lofty universalism marks the final step in the development of the religious ideas of the Prophets. The salvation of mankind is the goal of history, and Israel's prerogative becomes but the privilege of suffering for the good of the whole world. God has called Israel for the realization of His purpose toward man. Israel, and not an individual, is "the servant of God" (Isa. xlii. 1-6, xlix. 1-6, l. 4-9, lii. 13-liii. 12), through whom the regeneration of mankind will be accomplished, who will spread the true religion among all nations, convert all men into willing servants of God, and lead all tongues to confess Him (xlv. 23). Naturally, not the actual Israel of the present is meant, but the ideal Israel of the future, risen to spiritual heights in consequence of his wonderful deliverance by God. For this high destiny Israel has been especially fitted by reason of the religious experience which God has stored up in him in the course of his history; and, by submitting, in accordance with God's will, to suffering and ignominy, he fulfils his mission and advances toward his final goal. In Isa. ii. 1-4 and Micah iv. 1-4 there is the same picture of the Messianic future as in Deutero-Isaiah-Jerusalem as the religious center of the world, whence salvation will radiate to all men-but contain the additional promise that universal peace will ensue in consequence thereof. In like manner the post-exilic prophets Trito-Isaiah, Malachi, and Joel, and the post-exilic Apocalypse of Isaiah, xxiv.-xxvii., have no personal Messiah. According to them, God Himself, without the instrumentality of a man, will redeem Israel from his present misery and bring about the new era of salvation. The conclusion, however, of Malachi (the authorship of which is doubtful) speaks of a messenger, Elijah, whom God will send to convert men and thus pave the way for His own coming.
In the Apocrypha.
As in the prophetic writings just enumerated, so in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament the figure of the Messiah has no prominence whatever. In I Maccabees there is a brief general reference to the promise given to David, that his throne would be reestablished (ii. 57), but Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobit, Baruch, II Maccabees, and the Wisdom of Solomon contain no mention of the Davidic hope. The Hellenistic author of the Wisdom of Solomon is so thoroughly universalistic that the idea of a Messiah is precluded. His eschatological picture shows no nationalistic feature whatever.
Alexander as Messiah.
The natural deduction from the facts thus far outlined is that while from the time of the Prophets the belief in an ideal future determined the character and tendency of Jewish religious life and thought to such an extent that this belief may be called the special characteristic of the Jewish genius, still, in the periods thus far covered, the idea of a personal Messiah is far from having that general prominence which one would, at first, be inclined to assume. Further, it has been seen how Deutero-Isaiah heralded Cyrus as the favorite of God, the hero called by God to introduce the new era of universal bliss. In like manner, no doubt, as Kampers has shown in his "Alexander der Grosse und die Idee des Weltimperiums in Prophetie und Sage," the Jewish contemporaries of Alexander the Great, dazzled by his glorious achievements, hailed him as the divinely appointed deliverer, the inaugurator of the period of universal peace promised by the Prophets. Proof of this is: (1) The legend related in Josephus ("Ant." xi. 8) and in the Talmud (Yoma 67b) of the audience of the high priest Jaddua (in the Talmud it is Simon the Just) with Alexander the Great in Gaza. Alexander recognizes in the high priest the man who had appeared to him in a dream, urging him to the conquest of Asia and promising him that he himself would lead his army and deliver the Persian kingdom into his hands; he prostrates himself to worship God, whose name he sees inscribed on the plate of gold on the high priest's cidaris, accompanies the high priest to Jerusalem to sacrifice to God in His Temple, and is there shown the Book of Daniel, in which it is written that the Persian kingdom will be conquered by a Greek-a prophecy which Alexander applies to himself. (2) The various sagas which sprang up about Alexander, chiefly among the Jews in Alexandria, and out of which the Alexander romance of pseudo-Callisthenes grew, the only explanation of which is that Alexander had once been the central figure in their future hope. (3) The apocalyptic traditions about Alexander the Great in medieval apocalyptic literature and also in the midrashic literature-for example, the tradition (mentioned by Josephus) of Alexander imprisoning Gog and Magog behind the mountains of darkness in the far north. The version of this legend given by Jacob of Serug (521 C.E.) and in the Koran, sura 18 (comp.Kampers, l.c. pp. 73, 76 et seq.) leaves no doubt that it was purely of apocalyptic origin.
But while all these hopes centering in Alexander the Great bear witness to the liberality and broad-mindedness of the Jews of that time, they, on the other hand, corroborate the conclusion, expressed above, that the hope in the Messiah had, as yet, no definite form and can not have been commonly an article of faith. This is true, not only of the time of Alexander the Great, but even as late as the first period of apocalyptic literature, and is proved by the absence of a personal Messiah in the oldest apocalyptic writing, the Book of Daniel, as well as in the oldest part of the Book of Enoch ("The Apocalypse of the Ten Weeks") and in the Book of Jubilees, which also date from the Maccabean period, apart from the fact, pointed out above, that in the contemporaneous apocrypha there is but vague reference to the Messiah. The "one of the likeness of man" ("ke-bar enash") of Dan. vii. 13 (Hebr.), to whom the rulership in the divine world-monarchy will be entrusted, is, according to the author's own explanation (vii. 18, 22, 27), the nation of God's holy ones (i.e., the faithful Jews). These constitute the earthly representatives of God in the "civitas Dei," and in contrast to the other nations of the world, who are represented under the figures of animals, they are represented under the figure of a man in order to signify that in them the divine ideal of manhood has preserved itself most faithfully.
Rise of Popular Belief in a Personal Messiah.
Not until after the fall of the Maccabean dynasty, when the despotic government of Herod the Great and his family, and the increasing tyranny of the Roman empire had made their condition ever more unbearable, did the Jews seek refuge in the hope of a personal Messiah. They yearned for the promised deliverer of the house of David, who would free them from the yoke of the hated foreign usurper, would put an end to the impious Roman rule, and would establish His own reign of peace and justice in its place. In this way their hopes became gradually centered in the Messiah. As evidence that in the Roman period the Messianic hope had become universal among the Jews may be adduced: (1) Jesus' conviction that he was the Messiah, a conviction inspired in him by the current belief in a Messiah, as is shown by the fact that on his entry into Jerusalem the populace hailed him as such; (2) the testimony of Josephus ("B. J." vi. 5, § 4), Tacitus ("Hist." v. 13), and Suetonius (Vespasian, iv.) regarding the Messianic belief of the Jewish people at that time; (3) the fact that even in Philo's picture of the future, in spite of its moralistic tendency, the Messianic king has a place (comp. "De Præmiis et Pœnis," § 16). It may be noted in this connection that the "Prayer for the Coming of the Messiah," as the version of it given both in the Babylonian and in the Palestinian recensions of the Shemoneh 'Esreh shows (see Nos. 14 and 15 respectively), can not have become an integral part of the daily prayers later than the time immediately following the destruction of the Temple, for in that period the "Shemoneh 'Esreh" received its present form. Hillel's assertion (Sanh. 98b) that there would be no future Messiah for Israel since the latter had had its Messiah in the days of Hezekiah, can have no weight as a contrary argument, as Hillel lived in the reign of Herod the Great, at the beginning of the period which marks the development of the popular belief in the Messiah.
Development of Conception.
As the future hopes of the Jews became Messianic in character the figure of the Messiah assumed a central and permanent place in apocalyptic literature; and as apocalyptic literature in general, so the Messiah-concept in particular, embodies a multitude of bizarre fantasies which can not possibly be reconciled or woven into anything like a connected picture. There are many factors which contributed to this manifold and variegated imagery. Not only was all the Messianic and quasi-Messianic material of the Scriptures collected, and out of it, by means of subtle combinations, after the manner of the Midrash, a picture of the Messiah sedulously drawn, but everything poetical or figurative in the Prophets' descriptions of the future was taken in a literal sense and expounded and dogmatized accordingly. Many foreign elements, moreover, crept in at this time and became part of the general potpourri of imagery relating to the Messiah. This being the case, an exceedingly complex and difficult question arises-where, in the Messiah-pictures, and, indeed, in the pictures of the future in general, presented by apocalyptic literature, has one to deal with organic development from prophetic ideas, and where with foreign religious elements? At present it is not possible to form a final judgment in regard to the place of origin of these foreign ideas. The material from the Assyro-Babylonian religion and mythology which has been offered in recent years by Assyriologists shows what an involved question is presented in this one point, and that a series of preliminary and exhaustive studies is necessary before a final decision can be reached regarding it or the various questions bound up with it. The one thing safe to maintain in this connection is, perhaps, that, according to the time at which the heterogeneous character of the conceptions becomes noticeable in the literature, Alexandria must have had a prominent part in the fusion of the native and foreign elements, since that city had been from the time of Alexander the Great the seat of religious syncretism as well as the intellectual metropolis of the civilized world.
For the better understanding of the Messianic pictures in apocalyptic literature it is important to point out that, although frequently interlaced, two distinct sets of ideas may be traced-the one set concerned with this world, hence realistic and national; the other directed to the world to come, hence transcendent and universalistic. The Messiah presents a correspondingly double character. Side by side with the traditional idea of an earthly king of the house of David is the new conception of a heavenly preexistent Messiah, from which it follows that in regard to the question of the Messiah the older apocalyptic literature, as well as the younger rabbinical branch, falls naturally into two groups.
In the Older Apocalyptic Literature.
In the older apocalyptic literature the first book to be mentioned in which the Messiah figures as an earthly king is "The Vision of the Seventy Shepherds of the Book of Enoch" (ch. lxxxv.-xc.) of the time of John Hyrcanus (135-105 B.C.). The Messiah appears under the figure of a white bull at the conclusion of the world-drama (xc. 37 et seq.) and commands the respect and fear of all the heathen, who eventually become converted to God. Yet he does not take any actual rôle. It is God Himself who wards off the last attack of the heathen against Israel, gives judgment, and establishes the world-dominion of Israel. Second in this group come those parts of the Sibylline Books whose date, as Geffken's recent critical analysis has established ("Komposition und Entstehungszeit der Oracula Sibyllina," pp. 7-13), is about the year 83 B.C. The Messiah is pictured (verses 652-666) as a king sent by God from the rising of the sun, who will put an end to war all over the earth, inasmuch as he will destroy some peoples and make permanent treaties with the others; in all his actions he will be solicitous not to follow his own counsel, but to obey the commands of God. The writer then describes at length the attack by the heathen nations on the magnificent Temple of God and on the Holy Land, and the annihilation of the nations by God; the Last Judgment, with the ensuing conversion of the heathen to God; the establishment of God's eternal kingdom over all men and the reign of universal peace; but, strange to say, throughout the description there is no mention of the Messiah. In fact, in verses 781 et seq. the Israelites are spoken of as the prophets of God, the judges of mankind, and the just kings who will put an end to the sway of the sword upon earth.
In the Psalms of Solomon.
"The Vision of the Seventy Shepherds" and Sibyllines, iii. 652 et seq. say nothing whatever about the lineage of the earthly Messiah, but in the Psalms of Solomon (xvii.), which were called forth by the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey (63 B.C.), he is designated as the "son of David," who will appear at a time known only to God. These Psalms (l.c.) contain a more detailed description of his personality and of his reign than any other writing of that period. The Messiah will first crush the unjust rulers and rid Jerusalem of, and destroy, the impious heathen. Then he will gather the scattered ones of Israel, distribute them through the land according to their tribes, and found his own kingdom of peace and justice. No wicked person will be tolerated in his kindgom nor will foreigners be allowed to dwell there. He will subject the heathen nations to his rule, glorify the Lord before the whole world, and make Jerusalem pure and holy as of old, so that the nations will come from the ends of the earth to witness God's glory. The description which follows of his righteous reign shows the influence of Isa. xi. 1 et seq. Free from sin, strong in the divine fear, and filled with the spirit of God, of valor, and of justice, he will tend the flock of the Lord faithfully, hold the higher officers in check, and make sinners cease by the power of his word, so that injustice and tyranny will not be practised in the land. He will not rely upon horses and warriors, nor heap up gold and silver to wage war, nor keep armies. In God alone will he place his trust, and his strength will be in Him.
In the Apocalypse of Baruch (70-100 C.E.) the earthly Messiah will appear at the close of the fourth (i.e., the Roman) world-empire and destroy it. The last ruler of the empire will, after his hosts have been destroyed, be brought in chains before the Messiah on Mount Zion, and there, after the impiousness of his rule has been pointed out to him, he will be put to death by the Messiah's own hand. Of the other nations, those hostile to Israel will be put to the sword and the remainder subjected to the rule of the Messiah, who will establish himself on the throne of his kingdom, inaugurate the reign of morality and bliss, and hold dominion until the end of time, that is, until the consummation of the present world (xxix. 3, xxxix. 5-xl. 3, lxxii.-lxxiii. 4. Ch. xxx. 1 is to be taken, with Volz ["Jüdische Eschatologie," pp. 37, 203], as Christian interpolation).
In the Testaments of the Patriarchs.
The Testament of Levi (ch. viii. and xviii.) shows a unique conception of the Messiah. He is not, as in the Testament of Judah (see below) and according to the popular belief, a descendant of David, but a priestly king of the tribe of Levi. His character and activity are altogether spiritual. The pouring out of the spirit and knowledge of the Lord over all mankind and the cessation of sin and evil will be the fruit of his ideal priesthood, which will last for all eternity. He himself will open the doors of paradise, cast aside the sword threatening Adam, and give the saints to eat of the tree of life. He will chain up Belial and will give his children power to trample on the evil spirits. The picture of the Messiah in the Testament of Judah (ch. xxiv.), although far more brief, resembles, in its spiritual character and in its universalistic tendency, that in the Testament of Levi. The sole mission of the Messiah will be the regeneration of mankind, and his kingdom will be one of justice and salvation for the whole world. If, as Bousset sought to prove ("Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft," i. 193 et seq.), the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs date mainly from the time of the Maccabees, then the Messiahconception of the Testament of Levi is easily accounted for; the author expects that the future Savior will be a prince of the reigning priestly house of the Maccabees.
The Heavenly Messiah.
The oldest apocalypse in which the conception of a preexistent heavenly Messiah is met with is the Messiological section of the Book of Enoch (xxxvii.-lxxi.) of the first century B.C. The Messiah is called "the Son of Man," and is described as an angelic being, his countenance resembling a man's, and as occupying a seat in heaven beside the Ancient of Days (xlvi. 1), or, as it is expressed in ch. xxxix. 7, "under the wings of the Lord of spirits." In ch. xlviii. 3, 6, xlix. 2b it is stated that "His name was called before the Lord of spirits before the sun and the signs of the zodiac were created, and before the stars of heaven weremade"; that "He was chosen and hidden with God before the world was created, and will remain in His presence forevermore" (comp. also lxii. 6); and that "His glory will last from eternity unto eternity and his might from generation unto generation" (that "his name" in xlviii. 3 means really "son of man" is evident from verse 6; comp. the similar use of "Shem Yhwh" for "Yhwh" in Isa. xxx. 27). He is represented as the embodiment of justice and wisdom and as the medium of all God's revelations to men (xlvi. 3; xlix. 1, 2a, 3). At the end of time the Lord will reveal him to the world and will place him on the throne of His glory in order that he may judge all creatures in accordance with the end to which God had chosen him from the beginning. When he rises for the judgment all the world will fall down before him, and adore and extol him, and give praise to the Lord of spirits. The angels in heaven also, and the elect in the Garden of Life, will join in his praise and will glorify the Lord. "He will judge all hidden things, and no one will be able to make vain excuses to him"; he will judge also Azazel, with all his associates and all his hosts. The wicked ones of the earth, especially all kings and potentates, he will give over to damnation, but for the just and chosen ones he will prepare eternal bliss, and he will dwell in their midst for all eternity (xlv. 3, 4; xlvi. 4-6; xlviii. 4-10; xlix. 4; li. 3; lv. 4; lxi. 7-lxii. 14).
It is worthy of special note that in the appendix to the Messiological section of Enoch, the latter himself is the Son of Man = Messiah (lxxi. 14), and, as in the Slavonic Book of Enoch and the Hebrew Book of Enoch (see Jew. Encyc. i. 676, s.v. Apocalyptic Literature), as well as throughout rabbinical literature, Enoch is identical with Meṭaṭron = Μετάθρονος or Μετατύρανος (i.e., the highest, ministering spirit, who stands next to God and represents His rulership over the universe), so there is an important connecting-link between the conception of the Son of Man = Messiah, and the Logos, which appears repeatedly in Philo in place of the earthly future king (comp., e.g., his interpretation of "ẓemaḥ," Zech. vi. 12, in "De Confess." § 14; see Memra). The Fourth Book of Ezra (about 100 C.E.) presents both the pre-existent and the earthly Messiah. The latter is seen in ch. vii. 28, xi. 37-46, xii. 31-34, where the Messiah is represented as the Lion "who will spring from the seed of David," will destroy the fourth (i.e., the Roman) world-monarchy, will rule 400 years till the end of the Messianic interim, and then will die, together with all men. The former appears in the vision of the man rising from the sea (ch. xiii.). Here, as in the Messiological section, the Messiah is described as "one resembling a man" and is called "ille homo" or "ipse homo" (verses 3, 12). The statement is made also (under the influence of Dan. vii. 13) that he "flew with the clouds of heaven." Other points of contact with the Messiological Book are: the statement that "he is the one whom the Most High has reserved for many ages to deliver creation" (verse 26); the reference to his being hidden with God (verse 52)-"Even as no one can fathom nor learn what is in the depths of the sea, so none of the inhabitants of earth can see My son nor his escort [i.e., the host of angels who will accompany him when he appears upon earth], unless it be at the appointed hour"; and, finally, the obvious reference to his preexistence in heaven, where the promise is given to Ezra, "Thou wilt be taken from among men [to heaven] and wilt dwell with My son and with thy comrades until the end of time" (xiv. 9).
In Rabbinic Literature.
Whether the Messiah in Sibyllines v. 415-430, where he is called "a blessed man coming from heaven," is the preexistent or the earthly Messiah can not be determined. In the Assumptio Mosis, however (c. 4 B.C.), it may be concluded, on the ground of the identification of the Son of Man = Messiah with Enoch = Meṭaṭron in Enoch lxxi. 14, that it is the preexistent Messiah who is referred to (x. 2), for it is stated that, at the end of the last tribulation, when God's dominion will be established over all creation, "the hands of the angel who stands in the highest place will be filled, and he will immediately avenge them [Israel] on their enemies." As the author of the Fourth Book of Ezra (xiii.), as well as the author of the Messiological Book, evidently had Dan. vii. 13 in mind when he described the preexistent Messiah, it may be mentioned here that, while the Messianic interpretation of this passage prevails in the rabbinic literature (the oldest example is the Messianic tradition in Sanh. 98a, for which Joshua b. Levi is mentioned as authority), the Greek text of Dan. vii. 13 presents not only the Messianic interpretation of "Bar Nash," but unmistakably also, in καὶ ὡς παλαιὸς ἡμερῶν παρῆυ added after ὡς υἱὸς ἀνϑρώπου ἥρχετο, the conception of the preexistent Messiah. Moreover, contrary to the view held by many that all the passages concerning the Son of Man = Messiah in the Book of Enoch and IV Ezra are of Christian origin, it may be pointed out that the phrase "Bar Nash" (= "Son of Man") must have been a common name for an angel of the highest order among the Palestinian Jews of the first Christian centuries. Yer. Yoma v. relates that, when reference was made in the bet ha-midrash to Simon the Just's having, every year of the forty during which he was high priest, been accompanied into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement by an "aged one," veiled and garbed in linen (i.e., by a heavenly being; comp. the "labush ha-badim" in Ezek. ix. 1, 3 et al.), R. Abbahu objected: "Does not the prohibition, 'No man shall be present in the Tabernacle when the high priest enters the sanctuary,' extend to those of whom it is said, 'the appearance of their countenance was that of a man's countenance'?" (Lev. xvi. 17; Ezek. i. 10). Whereupon the rejoinder was made, "Who says that that being was Bar Nash? It was the All Holy Himself." It may be noted in passing that this haggadah is of importance for the Greek text of Dan. vii. 13 as well as for the identification of the Son of Man = Messiah with Enoch = Meṭaṭron.
In the rabbinical apocalyptic literature the conception of an earthly Messiah is the prevailing one, and from the end of the first century of the common era it is also the one officially accepted by Judaism. As proof of this may be given: (1) "The Prayer for the Coming of the Messiah," mentioned above, inwhich the Messiah is called "descendant of David." (2) The information given in the second century by Justin ("Dialogus cum Tryphone," ch. xlix.) and by the author of "Philosophumena" (ix. 30). Both writers state expressly that, contrary to the belief of the Christians, the Jews emphasize the human origin of the Messiah, and the author of "Philosophumena" adds that they expect him to be descended from David. (3) The liturgy of later times, which, like the Daily Prayer, calls him the descendant of David throughout. His mission is, in all essential respects, the same as in the apocalypses of the older period: he is to free Israel from the power of the heathen world, kill its ruler and destroy his hosts, and set up his own kingdom of peace (comp. the descriptions of him in Jew. Encyc. i. 675, s.v. Apocalyptic Literature, Neo-Hebraic).
The conception of the preexistent Messiah is met with in Pesiḳ. R. xxxiii., xxxvi. (pp. 152b, 162, ed. Friedmann; comp. Yalḳ. i. 339). In accordance with the Messiological section of Enoch the former of these two passages says: "At the beginning of the creation of the world was born the King Messiah, who mounted into God's thoughts before the world was made"; and in the latter passage it is related that God contemplated the Messiah and his works before the creation of the world and concealed him under His throne; that Satan, having asked God who the Light was under His throne, was told it was the one who would bring him to shame in the future, and, being then allowed, at his request, to see the Messiah, he trembled and sank to the ground, crying out, "Truly this is the Messiah who will deliver me and all heathen kings over to hell." God calls the Messiah "Ephraim, my righteous Messiah."
The preexistent Messiah is presented also in the Haggadah (Pes. 54a; Ned. 39a; Yalḳ. i. 20; et al.), where the name of the Messiah is included among the seven things created before the world was made, and where he is called "Yinnon," reference being made to Ps. lxxii. 17 (which passage probably was in the mind of the author of the Messiological section of Enoch when writing xlviii. 3). That, contrary to the view of Weber ("Jüdische Theologie," 2d ed., p. 355) and others, it is actual preexistence which is meant here, and not predestination, is evident from the additional remark-"According to another view, only the Torah and the Throne of Glory were [actually] created; as to the other [five] things the intention was formed to create them" (Yalḳ., l.c.; in regard to "the name of the Messiah" compare the comment above to Enoch, xlviii. 3). Finally, the preexistence of the Messiah in paradise is minutely described in "The Revelation of R. Joshua b. Levi" (see Jew. Encyc. i. 680), in Midrash Konen (Jellinek, "B. H." ii. 29), and in "Seder Gan Eden" (ib. iii. 132 et seq., 195). In the first two, regardless of the apparent anomaly, the preexistent Messiah is called "Messiah ben David."
The conception met with in the rabbinical literature of an earthly preexistence of the Messiah must be distinguished from that of his heavenly preexistence. It occurs in various forms, representing, probably, different stages of development. First, he is expected to lead a hidden life and then to step forth suddenly. (On this conception of the sudden, unexpected appearance of the Messiah comp. Matt. xxiv. 27, 43-44, where it is said that the Messiah will come like a thief in the night or like a flash of lightning.) This is the conception of him in Ex. R. i. and in Tan., Shemot, both of which say that as Moses, the first deliverer, was reared at the court of Pharaoh, so the future deliverer will grow up in the Roman capital; in agreement with this, in the Agadat ha-Mashiaḥ (Jellinek, l.c. iii. 142) it is said that the Messiah will suddenly be revealed to Israel in Rome. Then, again, the Messiah is represented as born, but not yet revealed. This conception appears as early as the second century in Justin Martyr's "Dialogus cum Tryphone" (ch. viii.), and in accordance with it is the passage Sanh. 98b, where R. Joshua ben Levi is quoted as saying that the Messiah is already born and is living in concealment at the gates of Rome. In Targ. Yer. to Micah iv. 8 the Messiah is on the earth, but because of the sins of the people he is still in hiding. Finally, the Messiah is thought of as born at a certain time in the past. This is the case in Yer. Ber. ii., which states that the Messiah was born at Bethlehem on the day the Temple was destroyed, and in the Apocalypse of Zerubbabel (see Jew. Encyc. i. 682), which declares he was born in the days of King David and is dwelling in Rome.
The notion, traceable to Ezek. xxxiv. 23 et al., that David himself is the Messiah, is another variation of the conception of earthly preexistence. It occurs in the apocalyptic fragment of the "Siddur" of R. Amram (see Jew. Encyc. i. 678, s.v. Apocalyptic Literature, 2) and in Yer. Ber. ii. The latter states that whether the King Messiah belongs to the living or to the dead, his name is David.
Messiah ben Joseph.
Finally, there must be mentioned a Messianic figure peculiar to the rabbinical apocalyptic literature-that of Messiah ben Joseph. The earliest mention of him is in Suk. 52a, b, where three statements occur in regard to him, for the first of which R. Dosa (c. 250) is given as authority. In the last of these statements only his name is mentioned, but the first two speak of the fate which he is to meet, namely, to fall in battle (as if alluding to a well-known tradition). Details about him are not found until much later, but he has an established place in the apocalypses of later centuries and in the midrash literature-in Saadia's description of the future ("Emunot we-De'ot," ch. viii.) and in that of Hai Gaon ("Ṭa'am Zeḳenim," p. 59). According to these, Messiah b. Joseph will appear prior to the coming of Messiah b. David; he will gather the children of Israel around him, march to Jerusalem, and there, after overcoming the hostile powers, reestablish the Temple-worship and set up his own dominion. Thereupon Armilus, according to one group of sources, or Gog and Magog, according to the other, will appear with their hosts before Jerusalem, wage war against Messiah b. Joseph, and slay him. His corpse, according to one group, will lie unburied in the streets of Jerusalem; according to theother, it will be hidden by the angels with the bodies of the Patriarchs, until Messiah b. David comes and resurrects him (comp. Jew. Encyc. i. 682, 684 [§§ 8 and 13]; comp. also Midr. Wayosha' and Agadat ha-Mashiaḥ in Jellinek, "B. H." i. 55 et seq., iii. 141 et seq.).
When and how this Messiah-conception originated is a question that has not yet been answered satisfactorily. It is not possible to consider Messiah b. Joseph the Messiah of the Ten Tribes. He is nowhere represented as such; though twice it is mentioned that a part of the Ten Tribes will be found among those who will gather about his standard. There is a possibility, however, as has been repeatedly maintained, that there is some connection between the Alexander saga and the Messiah b. Joseph tradition, for, in the Midrash, on the strength of Deut. xxxiii. 17, a pair of horns, with which he will "strike in all directions," is the emblem of Messiah b. Joseph (comp. Pirḳe R. El. xix.; Gen. R. lxxv.; Num. R. xiv.; et al.), just as in the apocalyptic Alexander tradition in the Koran (referred to above) the latter is called "The Double-Horned" ("Dhu al-Ḳarnain"). See also Eschatology; Jesus; Judaism.
Joseph Jacobs, Moses Buttenwieser
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.
R. Smend, Alttestamentliche Religionsgesch.; W. Nowack, Die Zukunftshoffnung Israels in der Assyrischen Zeit; Hühn, Die Messianischen Weissagungen; Fr. Giesebrecht, Der Knecht Jahwe's in Deutero-Jesaia; Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., ii. 29; W. Bousset, Die Religion des Judentums im Neutestamentlichen Zeitalter, part 3, ch. ii.-v.; part 6, pp. 474 et seq.; P. Volz, Jüdische Eschatologie von Daniel bis Akiba, §§ 34-35; H. J. Holtzmann, Lehrbuch der Neutestamentlichen Theologie, i. 68-85; W. Baldensperger, Die Messianisch-Apokalyptischen Hoffnungen des Judentums; F. Weber, Jüdische Theologie auf Grund des Talmud, etc., ch. xxii.-xxiii.; G. H. Dalman, Der Leidende und der Sterbende Messias; idem, Die Worte Jesu, pp. 191 et seq.; Kampers, Alexander der Grosse und die Idee des Weltimperiums in Prophetie und Sage; B. Beer, Welchen Aufschluss Geben die Jüdischen Quellen über den "Zweigehörnten" des Korans? in Z. D. M. G. ix. 791 et seq.
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