Was Jesus Born as the Messiah, the Son of God?

 

Two big questions are commonly asked about the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Was he really born, a real person, and is Jesus the Son of God, the Messiah? Answers to the questions involve logic and the U.S. legal Doctrine of Chances.

Straightforward logic can answer the question about the historicity of Jesus of  Nazareth. Regardless if he is the Messiah, the likelihood that calendars were changed based on someone who never existed is a very difficult concept to believe.

A personage named Jesus divided world history into two eras – before his life and after his life. No one else has been so influential as to change calendars making Jesus the most impactful figure in history. The modern-day effort to change “BC” and “AD” to “BCE” and “CE” designations are still based on the fact the calendar change occurred at the same point in time as the life of Jesus.[1]

Setting aside logic, religion archenemies of Christianity commonly agree on the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth. Jewish ancestral birth records and lineage of Jesus are undisputed by Judaism.[2] The Jewish Encyclopedia in its article “Jesus of Nazareth” states that Jesus is a real historical figure, even pinpointing a date of his birth.[3] The miraculous conception of Mary and the birth of Jesus are also recognized by the Quran.[4]

Addressing the question if Jesus is the Messiah, while ultimately this is a personal decision, there is much to consider. Circumstantially, an entirely new religion was spawned by the teachings and events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth – Christianity. Something profound changed the official views of the Roman empire with Christianity going on to become the largest religion in the world, over 2 billion people today.[5]

Caesar Augustus as the ruling Emperor of Rome; King Herod as the head of the Judean government; Quirinius, Procurator Pilate and Archelaus, son of King Herod – all these historical figures are referenced in the Gospels consistent with secular history. As such, it raises the bar of Gospel answerability and credibility to the highest degree.[6]

Mary gave birth to Jesus in a totally unexpected, unplanned location in Bethlehem 90 miles away instead of Nazareth.[7] The angel who appeared independently months apart to Mary and Joseph didn’t tell either of them to go to Bethlehem.[8] Joseph and Mary planned to stay in Nazareth for the birth of their baby surrounded by family and friends.

A Roman Caesar’s decree forced the location change of the birthplace of Jesus.  Augustus’ official decree in Nazareth compelled Joseph and Mary in her late-stage of pregnancy to abruptly make the days-long trek to Bethlehem where she went into labor.

Months in the making by the Roman government, announcement in Nazareth of Caesar’s decree more than a week earlier or a week later would have resulted in Jesus being born in Nazareth. Had Jesus been born in there, it would have completely eliminated the potential fulfillment of Micah’s Bethlehem prophecy.[9]

Hundreds of miles away from Nazareth and Rome,  Magi made preparations to travel around the edges of the vast Arabian Desert on a month’s long journey to Judea to find the newborn King of Israel. These astronomy experts began their quest based on seeing “His Star,” not because of any Messiah prophecy.

Multiple rare planet and star conjunctions occurred in an unusually brief period of time shortly before the birth of Jesus, seconds in astronomical time. Typically these close conjunctions occur centuries or millennia apart; however, all occurred over the course of only months.[10] NASA astronomy science and technology confirms it all happened, both in timing and close proximity.[11]

When the Magi began their month’s long journey to Judea, their final destination was unclear. They sought out the ruthless King Herod in Jerusalem for assistance in finding the newborn King signaled by “His star.”[12]

Herod consulted his Jewish religious council who told the King about the Micah 5:2 (1) prophecy foretelling the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem.[13] The King indicated he believed the prophecy had been fulfilled evidenced by pointing the Magi to Bethlehem to find the babe in exchange for telling him the exact location of the newborn.[14]

Messiah prophecies that may have been fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth originate in the Scriptures, the Tenakh or the Old Testament. Christianity accepts prophecies about the Messiah, such as the Branch prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah; the Psalms; the crucifixion and the Resurrection.

Judaism does not unanimously recognize some of these prophecies as pertaining to the Messiah. Two of the most renowned Jewish sages are Rabbi Rashi and Rabbi Maimonides, each with differing views on some Messiah prophecies.

One Messiah prophecy; however, is virtually undisputed by Jews or Christians – the Messiah would be born in the lineage of King David.[15] Matthew and Luke report that Jesus was a royal heir to David, a fact not a disputed by Judaism.

Isaiah 52-53 describes the circumstances of the torture and death of “My Servant” consistent with a Roman crucifixion that was developed hundreds of years later. Isaiah also described the Servant’s burial among the rich and a life after death, all described in the Gospels involving the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.[16]

Psalms contains varied messianic views by Judaism and Christianity. For example, Psalms 22 closely mirroring a crucifixion is not recognized as a Messiah prophecy by Judaism. On the other hand, Psalms 118 is included in the traditional Jewish Hallel about the Messiah.[17]

Zechariah 12:10 foretells someone from the lineage of the House of David would be thrust through or pierced, killing him. His death would cause morning as deep as for an only son. A faction of Rabbis in the Talmud’s Succah 52a including Rashi believed it to be Messianic, consistent with the view of Christianity.[18]

Assessing all the circumstances involving the life of Jesus of Nazareth obviously has a direct impact on believability. The U.S. legal Doctrine of Chances suggests it was not an accident.

What are the odds that Jesus was born as the Son of God, the Messiah?

 

Updated October 26, 2022.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] Hocken, Vigdis. “Common Era (CE) and Before Common Era (BCE).” TimeandDate.com. 2020. <https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/ce-bce-what-do-they-mean.html> Mark, Joshua J. “The Origin and History of the BCE/CE Dating System.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. 2020. <https://www.ancient.eu/article/1041/the-origin-and-history-of-the-bcece-dating-system>
[2]“Jesus of Nazareth.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8616-jesus-of-nazareth>  Messiah. Triton World Mission Center. image. n.d. <https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrFGczYdVhjL.gT5Bg2nIlQ;_ylu=c2VjA3NlYXJjaARzbGsDYnV0dG9u;_ylc=X1MDMTM1MTE5NTcwMgRfcgMyBGZyA3locy1hZGstYWRrX3NibnQEZnIyA3A6cyx2OmksbTpzYi10b3AEZ3ByaWQDMzh6Tm9GQmVSYTJoSU9hTDIzbDFOQQRuX3JzbHQDMARuX3N1Z2cDMARvcmlnaW4DaW1hZ2VzLnNlYXJjaC55YWhvby5jb20EcG9zAzAEcHFzdHIDBHBxc3RybAMwBHFzdHJsAzIzBHF1ZXJ5A01lc3NpYWglMjBwcm9waGVjeSUyMGltYWdlcwR0X3N0bXADMTY2Njc0MjIyNw–?p=Messiah+prophecy+images&fr=yhs-adk-adk_sbnt&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Ai%2Cm%3Asb-top&ei=UTF-8&x=wrt&type=yhs-adk_sbnt_appfocus1_sm_ff&hsimp=yhs-adk_sbnt&hspart=adk&param1=20210118&param2=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&param3=searchmanager_%7EUS%7Eappfocus1%7E&param4=%7Efirefox%7E%7E#id=158&iurl=http%3A%2F%2Ftritonubf.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F04%2FThe-Messiah-in-Judaism-Christianity-and-Islam-04.jpg&action=click
[3] Maimon, Moshe ben (Maimonides). “Melachim uMilchamot.” Chabad.org. Chapter 11, #4. <https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1188356/jewish/Melachim-uMilchamot-Chapter-11.htm>  CR I Chronicles 9:1; Matthew 1:5; Luke 3:32. Josephus, Flavius. Against Apion. Trans. and commentary William Whitson. Book 1, #7. The Complete Works of Josephus.  <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>  Hall, David Markel.  “The Temple of G-d.”  1997.  Zion Messianic Congregation of Austin, Texas. <http://tzion.org/articles/temple.html>  “Jewish Genealogy & Surnames.” Archives. Archives.com. n.d. <http://www.archives.com/genealogy/family-heritage-jewish.html>  “Jesus.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. pp 246-251. Encyclopaedia Judaica. Eds. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 11. 2nd edition. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/infomark.do?action=interpret&eisbn=9780028660974&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=imcpl1111&type=aboutBook&version=1.0&authCount=1&u=imcpl1111>
[4] Quran. Trans. Abdullah Yusuf Ali. n.d. Search “Jesus.” <http://search-the-quran.com>  “The Descriptive Titles of Jesus in the Quran (part 1 of 2): “The Messiah” and “a Miracle.”’ IslamReligion.com. 2020. <http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/230>  The Quran. JM Rodwell Translation With text notes. “Preface.” <http://www.truthnet.org/islam/Quran/Rodwell/Introduction.html>
[5] “What is the #1 religion in the world?” Search. Google. 2020. <https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+the+%231+religion+in+the+world&oq=what+is+the+%231+rel&aqs=chrome.0.0i457j0j69i57j0j0i22i30l4.10361j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8>
[6] Matthew 2:1, 22; 27:2; Mark 15:1; Luke 2:1-2; John 19:1.
[7] Luke 1:39, 2:1-5. Map of Israel (active, untitled).  Bing.com/maps. Mileage calculation from Bethlehem to Nazareth.  n.d. <https://binged.it/2mNpBy8>  Oshri, Aviram.  “Where was Jesus Born?” Archaeology. Volume 58 Number 6. November/December 2005. <http://www.archaeology.org/0511/abstracts/jesus.html> Arbez, Edward. “Bethlehem.” Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 2. 1907. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02533a.htm>
[8] Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-37.
[9] Micah 5:2 (verse 1 in Jewish Bibles).
[10] Ventrudo, Brian. “Measuring The Sky.”  “Venus and Jupiter’s Upcoming Conjunction.” Universe Today. 2004. <http://www.universetoday.com/10006/venus-and-jupiters-upcoming-conjunction/#ixzz2B6cvKJEt>  Dickinson, David. “Is This Month’s Jupiter-Venus Pair Really a Star of Bethlehem Stand In?” Universe Today. 2015. <https://www.universetoday.com/122738/is-this-months-jupiter-venus-pair-really-a-star-of-bethlehem-stand-in/> Beatty, Kelly. “Venus and Jupiter: Together at Last.” Sky & Telescope. 2015. <http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/venus-and-jupiter-a-dazzling-duo-062520154 >  Cain, Fraser. “Venus and Jupiter’s Upcoming Conjunction.” Universe Today. 2004. http://www.universetoday.com/10006/venus-and-jupiters-upcoming-conjunction/#ixzz2B6cvKJEt> Carroll, Susan S. “The Star of Bethlehem:  An Astronomical and Historical Perspective.” Pulcherrima Productions.  1997. Twin Cities Creation Science Association. n.d. <http://www.tccsa.tc/articles/star_susan_carroll.pdf>
[11] Phillips, Tony. “A Christmas Star for SOHO.” NASA Science | Science New. 2018. <http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2000/ast16may_1>  Haley, A. S. “The Star of Bethlehem and the Nativity.” Anglican Curmudgeon. Video. 2009. <http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2009/10/star-of-bethlehem-and-nativity.html>  CR “Birth of Jesus.” Navsoft.com. 2012. http://navsoft.com/html/birth_of_jesus.html>  Clevenger, John. “Astronomy, Astrology, and the Star of Bethlehem.”  Lake County (Illinois) Astronomical   Society. 2012. <http://www.lcas-astronomy.org/articles/display.php?filename=the_christmas_star&category=miscellaneous>
[12] Matthew 2:1-3.
[13] Matthew 2:4-6.
[14] Matthew 2:7-8.
[15] Maimon, Moshe ben (Maimonides). “Melachim uMilchamot.” Chabad.org. Chapter 11, #4.  Numbers 17-19. The Complete Jewish Bible. Rashi Commentary. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9952/showrashi/true>
[16] CR Zechariah 3:8; 6:12-13. Maimonides, “Letter to the South (Yemen)”. p374. The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. <https://books.google.com/books?id=YxdbAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP1&hl=en#v=onepage&q=advent&f=false>
[17] “Psalms 118.” JewwishAwareness.org. 2011. <http://www.jewishawareness.org/psalm-118>  McKelvey, Michael G. “The Messianic Nature of Psalm 118.” Reformed Faith & Practice. 2017. <https://journal.rts.edu/article/messianic-nature-psalm-118> “Hallel” EncyclopædiaBritannica. 2020. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hallel>
[18] Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. Zechariah 12:10. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16216/showrashi/true>

 

Prince of Peace – Who Is He?

 

Often appearing in Christmas season cards, posters, songs and media is a Bible passage from Isaiah. It is a prophecy foretelling that a child will become a King whose kingdom will last forever. One of this King’s names is the “Prince of Peace” – who is he?[1]

Is 9:6-7 “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.  Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever…” – New King James Version

IS 9:5-6 “For a child has been born to us, a son given to us, and the authority is upon his shoulder, and the wondrous adviser, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, called his name, ‘the prince of peace.’ To him who increases the authority, and for peace without end, on David’s throne and on his kingdom, to establish it and to support it with justice and with righteousness; from now and to eternity…” – Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary

Hebrew text for this name is Sar Shalowm, the first word Sar meaning “prince.”[2] Second is the Hebrew word Shalowm, commonly recognized as the Jewish greeting Shalom meaning “peace,” its root word meaning “to be safe…figuratively, to be completed.”[3] The Hebrew word qara’ translated as “called” or “name,” is the same word used in the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy where the future boy child is to be “called” Immanuel.

Two Rabbi sage contributors to the Jewish Babylonian Talmud discussed the identity of the “Prince of Peace.”[4] One of them, Rabbi Jehoshua, quoted from Judges 6:24 where Gideon, a famed Hebrew judge, military leader and prophet, named an altar to God Jehovah Shalowm translated as “the LORD is Peace,” because it is the place where he had met an angelic messenger and spoke to the LORD.[5]

“The name of the Holy One, blessed be He, is also “peace” (Shalom), as it is written: “And called it Adonay-shalom.””

Expanding on Jehoshua’s statement, Rabbi Jose the Galilean quoted from Isaiah 9:6/7 identifies the “prince of peace” saying unambiguously it is the name of the Messiah:

“The name of the Messiah is also “peace” (Shalom), as it is written: “The prince of peace.””

Going into more detail, Rabbi Galilean alluded to Isaiah 52:7 and Deuteronomy 20:10 prophecies saying the Messiah will be known for his great characteristic of peace:

“When the Messiah shall come to Israel, he will begin with peace, as it is written: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings, that publisheth peace, that announceth tidings of happiness, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.” He also said: Great is peace, because even wars are waged for the sake of peace…”

Jumping back into the dialog, Rabbi Jehoshua referred to Isaiah 26:3, saying the “Holy One” would use peace to uphold the righteous because of their trust in him:

“In the future the Holy One, blessed be He, will uphold the righteous with peace, as it is written [Is. xxvi. 3]: “The confiding mind wilt thou keep in perfect peace; because he trusteth in thee.””

Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi‘s commentary centuries later disagreed with Rabbi Jose the Galilean. Instead, Rashi wrote the prophecy likely refers to King Hezekiah, a descendant of King David. “Prince of Peace,” the Rabbi opined, was only an expression though he acknowledged it could be another name for the “Holy One” without mentioning the Messiah:

“…it is possible to say that “Prince of Peace,” too, is one of the names of the Holy One, blessed be He, and this calling of a name is not actually a name but an expression of (var. for the purpose of) greatness and authority…On the throne of the kingdom of David shall this peace be justice and righteousness that Hezekiah performed.”

“He [Hezekiah] increased the authority upon his shoulder, and what reward will He [God] pay him? Behold, his peace shall have no end or any limit.”

Qumran scrolls discoveries began in 1948 and among the finds was the crown jewel, a complete Hebrew text scroll of Isaiah known as the “The Great Isaiah Scroll.”[11] Isaiah’s book was originally written around 700 BC and the Great Isaiah Scroll is dated to between 200-100 BC. The Scroll, possibly a direct copy of the original Isaiah text, provides the oldest “side-by-side” text opportunity.

One translator of the Great Isaiah Scroll, Fred P. Miller, explained the translation methodology on his website, The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll. His direct translation of the Hebrew text:[12]

Great Isaiah Scroll 9:6-7:

[Line] 23…Because a child shall be born to us and a son is given to us and the government shall be upon

[Line] 24. his shoulders and he shall be called wonderful, counsellor, mighty God, everlasting father the prince of peace. (6) Of the increase

[Line] 25. of his government [&waw&} and his peace there shall be no end. upon the throne of David and over his kingdom to order it and to establish it

Line] 26. in judgement and in righteousness from and until eternity, The zeal of YHWH of Hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:-6-7 is a prophecy saying child will be born in the lineage of King David who will become an eternal King and he will be called by many names “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Is Jesus of Nazareth the “prince of peace”?

 

Updated October 20, 2022.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] NKJV. “The Prince of Peace. Eric Echols. Image. 2019. <https://ericecholslive.files.wordpress.com/2019/12/prince-of-peace.jpg>
[2] sar <08269>. NetBible.org. Hebrew text. <http://classic.net.bible.org/strong.php?id=08269>  “8363.” Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon. Eliyah.com. n.d. <http://www.eliyah.com/cgi-bin/strongs.cgi?file=hebrewlexicon&isindex=8323>
[3] Y@havah shalowm” <03073> Net.Bible.org. Hebrew text. “Shalom.” Ravitzky, Aviezer. “Shalom: Peace in Hebrew.” n.d. <https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/shalom>  “7965 ‘shalowm.’” Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon. Eliyah.com. n.d. <http://www.eliyah.com/cgi-bin/strongs.cgi?file=hebrewlexicon&isindex=+shalowm> “7999 ‘shalam.’” Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon. Eliyah.com. n.d. <http://www.eliyah.com/cgi-bin/strongs.cgi?file=hebrewlexicon&isindex=shalam> Berkowitz, Matthew. “Greetings of Peace.” 2006 <http://www.jtsa.edu/greetings-of-peace>  “Hebrew: Greetings & Congratulations.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2019. <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/hebrew-greetings-and-congratulations>
[4] The Babylonian Talmud.Trans. Michael L. Rodkinson. 1918. Tract Derech Eretz-Zuta. Chapter on Peace. <https://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/t05/ere18.htm>
[5] Judges 6:24. Hebrew text. NetBible.org. <http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Jdg&chapter=6&verse=24>
[6] “The Septuagint (LXX).” Ecclesiastic Commonwealth Community. n.d. <http://ecclesia.org/truth/septuagint.html>
[7] Josephus, Flavius. Antiquities of the Jews. Book XII, Chapter II.1-6; 13-1.. Trans. and commentary William Whitson. The Complete Works of Josephus. 1850. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>  English Translation of the Greek Septuagint Bible. Trans. Brenton, Lancelot C. L. 1851. <http://www.ecmarsh.com/lxx> “Septuagint.”  Septuagint.Net. 2018.  <http://septuagint.net>  “Septuagint.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2019. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Septuagint>
[8] Ofer, Yosef. “The Aleppo Codex.” n.d. <http://www.aleppocodex.org/links/6.html>  Bergman, Ronen. “A High Holy Whodunit.” New York Times Magazine. July 25, 2012. <https://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/magazine/the-aleppo-codex-mystery.html>  Ben-David, Lenny. “Aleppo, Syria 100 Years Ago – and Today.” 23/07/15. Arutz Sheva 7 | isralenationalnews.com.  <http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/198521>
[9] Lundberg, Marilyn J. “The Leningrad Codex.” USC West Semitic Research Project. 2012. University of Southern California. 8 Jan. 1999. <https://web.archive.org/web/20170403025034/http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/wsrp/educational_site/biblical_manuscripts/LeningradCodex.shtml> Leviant, Curt. Jewish Virtual Library. 2019. “Jewish Holy Scriptures: The Leningrad Codex.” <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-leningrad-codex> “Leningrad Codex.” Bible Manuscript Society. 2019. <https://biblemanuscriptsociety.com/Bible-resources/Bible-manuscripts/Leningrad-Codex>  Leviant, Curt. Jewish Virtual Library. 2019. “Jewish Holy Scriptures: The Leningrad Codex.” <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-leningrad-codex>
[10] Cohen, Menachem. “The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text and the Science of Textual Criticism.” Eds. Uriel Simon and Isaac B Gottlieb. 1979. Australian National University. <http://cs.anu.edu.au/%7Ebdm/dilugim/CohenArt> Cohen, Menachem. “Mikra’ot Gedolot – ‘Haketer’ – Isaiah.” 2009. <http://www.biupress.co.il/website_en/index.asp?id=447
[11] Benner, Jeff A. “The Great Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text.” Ancient Hebrew Research Center. 2019. <https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/dss/great-isaiah-scroll-and-the-masoretic-text.htm> “The Dead Sea Scrolls.” The Israel Museum. 2019. <https://www.imj.org.il/en/wings/shrine-book/dead-sea-scrolls> “Isaiah.” Biblica.  Abegg, Jr., Martin G., Flint, Peter W. and Ulrich Eugene Charles.  The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible:  the oldest known Bible translated for the first time into English. “Introduction”, page x. (page hidden by Google Books). 2002. <https://books.google.com/books?id=c4R9c7wAurQC&lpg=PP1&ots=fQpCpzCdb5&dq=Abegg%2C%20Flint%20and%20Ulrich2C%20The%20Dead%20Dead%20Sea%20Scrolls%20Bible%2C&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=Isaiah&f=false>
[12] Miller, Fred P. “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll.” n.d. <https://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/qa-tran.htm>  Miller, Fred P. “”Q” = The Great Isaiah Scroll.” Translation. n.d.  <http://www.moellerhaus.com/qum-intr.htm>

Zechariah’s Donkey Prophecy

 

Zechariah’s Messiah prophecy focused specifically on a donkey is one of those prophetic rarities that is so unambiguous, there can be no other explanation other than exactly what it foretells.

Zech 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”(NKJV)

Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi commented:  “It is impossible to interpret this except as referring to the King Messiah.”[2] It is even more specific than the Micah prophecy foretelling the future Ruler of Israel would come from Bethlehem Ephrathah.[1]

Not just any lowly donkey, it was prophesied to be a colt, a foal which is a male under a year old. At that age, the colt foal would be unridden, unbroken. Donkeys have a reputation for their unruly and difficult behavior, even when broken, especially when they are in unfamiliar or frightening scenarios.[3] Yet the future King of Israel was prophesied to enter Jerusalem riding one such donkey colt foal.

Written between 520 – 518 BC, the prophecy was issued decades after the last king of Israel, Jeconiah, sat on the Throne of David. The Davidic royal dynasty ended when Jeconiah was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar’s army in 597 BC.[4] The last Jewish King was deported to Babylon along with “the most distinguished men of the land, and the most valuable treasures of the Temple and the palace.”[5]

Decrees issued by successors of the Babylonian empire, Persian rulers Cyrus the Great and Darius the Great each decreed the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. This is the backdrop in history when Zachariah issued the prophecy.[6]

Scrolling forward 5 centures sets the stage when Jesus of Nazareth had reached the end of his 3-year ministry.[7] Saturday night before entering Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus attended a dinner event at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany. In attendance were siblings Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and the 12 Disciples.[8]

Sunday, the next day, began the shortened week ending with a special Passover celebration. This particular year, Passover fell a Friday creating two consecutive days of Sabbaths. John refers to this Passover as a “high,” or “special” Sabbath, depending on the translation.[9]

One of the Disciples asked Jesus where they would be eating the upcoming Passover meal in Jerusalem? He did not answer the question directly and gave no specific information, just clues.

Matthew and John Gospel accounts say that Jesus had instructed Peter and John to go into Jerusalem to find a mother donkey with its colt and bring them both back. Had Jesus wanted only a donkey to ride, he would have been expected to instruct the pair to simply find a donkey. Finding a mother donkey with a foal colt made the search much more challenging.

Aimlessly entering the big city looking for the clues Jesus had given to them, the two Disciples found a tethered mother donkey with its colt.[10] Jesus had instructed them that if anyone were to ask why they were taking the donkeys, they were to say, “The Lord has need of it.”[11]

As they untied the mother donkey with her colt, indeed, Peter and John were asked why they were taking his donkeys? Answering as instructed, they were then led by the man with the donkeys to a house with an upper room prepared for the Passover. After they viewed the room, the owner allowed the two Disciples to take the two donkeys back to Jesus.

Entering Jerusalem for the last time, all four Gospel authors wrote about that Sunday when Jesus rode into the city seated on a donkey colt.[12] Jewish Encyclopedia cites the description in John “which has the story preserved in its original form” describing the crowd shouting “Hosanna.”[13] In Christianity, the Sunday event the weekend before Easter is celebrated as “Palm Sunday.”[14]

MT 21:6-9 “The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”(NIV)

Less than a week before his crucifixion, Jesus made his final entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey colt matching the Zechariah 9:9 Messiah prophecy. If Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey colt, then was the Zechariah Messiah prophecy fulfilled or was that event merely a coincidence?

 

Updated September 23, 2022.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] CR Micah 5:1(2).
[2] Zechariah 9:9. Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. Chabad.org. 2021. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16213/showrashi/true
[3] Luke 19:35. “Understanding Donkey Behavior.” The Donkey Sanctuary. 2018. <https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/sites/sanctuary/files/document/142-1404405754-donkey_health_and_welfare_19.pdf>
[4] Ryrie Study Bible. Ed. Ryrie Charles C. Trans. New American Standard. 1978. “Introduction to the Book of Zechariah.”
[5] “Captivity, or Exile, Babylonian.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. < http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4012-captivity>
[6] Ezra 1:1-3, 4:4-6, 6:14-15; Nehemiah 6:15; 12:45. Josephus, Flavius. Antiquities of the Jews. 1850. Book XI, Chapter II. The Complete Works of Josephus. Trans. Commentary by William Whitson. < http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false > “Cyrus the Great.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2018. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Cyrus-the-Great>  “Darius I.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2021. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Darius-I>
[7] CR Matthew 23:19-39. Luke 13:31-35. I Kings 18:13-15; 19:14. 2 Chronicles 24:19-22; Jeremiah 26:7-16, 18-19, 20-23; 38:1-13.>
[8] Matthew 23:37-39. Luke 13:31-35.
[9] John 12:1-2, 4. CR Matthew 26:6; Mark 11:1, 14:3; Luke 10:38-39, 19:29.
[10] John 19:31. BibleHub.com. 2021. <https://biblehub.com/john/19-31.htm>  CR Mark 15:42.  “Donkeys.” Spana. photo. n.d. <http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Q6u66St0FLo/TtOPYk1j-9I/AAAAAAAAEjI/PI95dFfdxDU/s1600/donkeys.jpg>
[11] Luke 19:28-37. CR Matthew 21:1-7.
[12] Matthew 21:7; Mark 11:7; Luke 19:28; John 12:1.
[13] “Hosanna.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2021. <https://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7893-hosanna>
[14] “Palm Sunday.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2021. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Palm-Sunday>