An Undisputed Messiah Requirement

 

One Messiah requirement is common to both Judaism and Christianity in Matthew and Luke. The foundations begin in Genesis with a prophetic blessing by Jacob, then the Law handed down to Moses followed by many prophecies thereafter until the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth.

First, prophetic blessings were given by Jacob, aka Israel, to each of his sons. One son, Judah, received the blessing that his family-tribe lineage would be like a lion that would possess the “scepter”:

Gen 49:8-10 “Judah, [as for] you, your brothers will acknowledge you. Your hand will be at the nape of your enemies, [and] your father’s sons will prostrate themselves to you.  A cub [and] a grown lion is Judah.  From the prey, my son, you withdrew. He crouched, rested like a lion, and like a lion, who will rouse him?  The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the student of the law from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him will be a gathering of peoples.”(Complete Jewish Bible)[1]

Rabbi Rashi, one of most revered Rabbi sages, identified Shiloh as the “King Messiah, to whom the kingdom belongs.” According to Rashi, the“scepter” refers to the royal lineage of “David and thereafter.”[2]

Moses at Mt. Sinai received the Law from God defined in the books of the Torah – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers. Much more than just the 10 Commandments, the Law of God also included promises and prophecies. One was the promise of a future kingdom in an unnamed place God would choose.[3]

Leaving Mt. Sinai on their quest to reach the promised land of Abraham, the tribes of Israel were defeating one enemy after another creating dread by those kings and nations lying in their path. One enemy king, Balak, thought he could cleverly use God to prevent his Moab nation’s defeat.

Persistently, Balak asked the prophet Balaam to place a curse from God on the Hebrews, but the prophet refused. In response, Balaam instead issued a momentous Messiah prophesy saying:

Nm 24:17 “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth.”(New American Standard Bible)

“Scepter” or “staff” is translated from the same Hebrew word shebet appearing in Jacob’s blessing of Judah.[4] Once again, Rashi said shebet represents “a king who rules dominantly” pointing to King David. A star, the Rabbi describes, “shoots out like an arrow” and uproots the sons of Sheth or Seth, the son of Adam; in other words, symbolically all of mankind.[5]

Rabbi Maimonides authored the 13 Principles of Faith defining the fundamentals of the Jewish faith. In it, the Rabbi interpreted Balaam’s prophecy to be referring to the future King David and the Messiah who will be a King from the “House of David.”[6] Later, building on Balaam’s prophecy, the prophet Nathan promised Israel’s King David:

2 Sam 7:16 “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”(New American Standard Version)

Multiple prophecies of the Branch of David were issued by prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah.[7] Isaiah, regarded by Judaism and Christianity to be the greatest of all the prophets, alone issued multiple Messiah prophecies.[8] One Isaiah prophecy is often seen during Christmas season: [9]

Is 9:5-6 (vs. 6-7) “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.”(Jewish Publication Society)[10]

Rabbi Jose the Galilean, in the Babylonian Talmud tractate, “The Chapter on Peace,” identified one of the names of the Messiah as the “Prince of Peace.” In the second verse (6/7), the prophecy says he will rule from the throne of David.[11]

Rabbi Tanhun in a Talmud Gemara interpreted two of the six blessings of Ruth 3:17 as referring to David and the Messiah.[12] The Rabbi associated the Messiah with “peace” in Isaiah 9:5 clarifying the blessing of David by identifying the Messiah as the son of the “Bethlechemite” Jesse with the Messiah’s blessing appearing in Isaiah 11:2:

“The name of the Messiah is also “peace” (Shalom), as it is written [Is. ix. 5]: “The prince of peace.” … “Messiah — as it reads [Is. xi. 2]: “And there shall rest upon him the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”[12]

Isaiah chapter 11 contains a second prophecy referencing the “root of Jesse.” The Jewish Encyclopedia recognizes Jesse as the father of King David saying of Isaiah’s 11:10 prophecy, it is “one of his sublimest Messianic prophecies.”[13]

Is 11:1-2 “And a shoot shall spring forth from the stem of Jesse, and a twig shall sprout from his roots.And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and heroism, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.” (Complete Jewish Bible)

Is 11:10 “And it shall come to pass on that day, that the root of Jesse, which stands as a banner for peoples, to him shall the nations inquire, and his peace shall be [with] honor.”(Complete Jewish Bible)

Judaism interprets the prophecies of the scepter, the Prince of Peace, the “root of Jesse” and the Branch as referring to the Messiah. They establish the one single prophetic Messiah requirement recognized by both Judaism and Christianity – the Messiah must born in the family lineage of King David. What then are the odds that Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of this Messiah requirement?

 

Updated October 19, 2022.

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REFERENCES:

[1] The Compete Jewish Bible – with Rashi Commentary. 2019. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/63255/jewish/The-Bible-with-Rashi.htm>
[2] Rashi. The Compete Jewish Bible – with Rashi Commentary.  Commentary on Genesis 49:10.  “The Throne of David Trailer.” Vimeo. Image. 2014. <https://vimeo.com/113429903
[3] Dueteronomy17:14-15.
[4] Net.bible.org. Numbers 24:17. Hebrew text shebet <07626>. 2019. <http://classic.net.bible.org/strong.php?id=07626>
[5] Rashi. The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. Numbers 24:17 commentary.
[6] Maimonides.  “The Law Concerning Moshiach.” Ed. Yechezkal Shimon Gutfreund, Chapters 11 & 12. <http://www.kesser.org/moshiach/rambam.html#SIE>
[7] Rich, Tracey R. “Mashiach: The Messiah.” Judaism101. 2011. <http://www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm>
[8] “Isaiah.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8235-isaiah> “Isaiah.” Biblica | The International Bible Society. 2019. <https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-isaiah>
[9] Rashi. The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. Isaiah 9:6 commentary.
[10] “The Book of Yeshayahu (Isaiah): Chapter 9.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2019. <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/yeshayahu-isaiah-chapter-9>
[11] The Babylonian Talmud. Trans. Michael L. Rodkinson. 1918. Book 5: Tractate Derech Eretz-Zuta, “The Chapter on Peace.” p 32. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/t05/ere18.htm>  “Minor Tractate Zuta Rabbah: Chapter on Peace.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2019. <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/minor-tractate-zuta-rabbah-chapter-on-peace> “Jewish Concepts: Peace.” Virtual Library. 2019. <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/peace> “Jose the Galilean.” Jewish Encyclopedia. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8788-jose-the-galilean>
[12] “Tractate Sanhedrin: Chapter 11.” Virtual Library. 2019. <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/tractate-sanhedrin-chapter-11>  CR Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Ed. Isidore Epstein. “Sanhedrin 93b.” 1935-1948.  <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_93.html#93b_12 >
[13] “Jesse.” JewishEncyclopedia.com. 2011. <https://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8613-jesse>  “The Book of Yeshayahu (Isaiah): Chapter 11. Jewish Virtual Library. 2019. <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/yeshayahu-isaiah-chapter-11>

 

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