Jewish Messiah

Learn more about Jewish Messiah

Jump to: navigation, search

In Judaism and Jewish eschatology, the Messiah (Hebrew: משיח; Mashiah, Mashiach, or Moshiach, "anointed [one]") has traditionally referred to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line who will be "anointed" (the meaning of the Hebrew word משיח) with holy anointing oil and inducted to rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age. In Standard Hebrew, the messiah is often referred to as מלך המשיח, Méleḫ ha-Mašíaḥ (in the Tiberian vocalization pronounced Méleḵ hamMāšîªḥ), literally meaning "the Anointed King."

Today, the various Jewish denominations have sharp disagreements about the nature of the Messiah and the Messianic Age, with some groups holding that the Messiah will be a person and other groups holding that the Messiah is a representation of the Messianic Age itself.

Contents

[edit] Messiah in the Tanakh

Traditional Judaism interprets the Hebrew Bible as having many references to a coming Messiah, some include:

  1. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast hearkened to My voice.' Genesis 22:18
  2. HaShem swore unto David in truth; He will not turn back from it: 'Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. Psalm 132:11 (see also Jeremiah 23:5)
  3. Therefore the L-rd Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
  4. But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:1
  5. I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. Deuteronomy 18:18 (Moses is believed to have written this book, see also verse 15)
  6. That the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it through justice and through righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of HaShem of hosts doth perform this. Isaiah 9:6
  7. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto thee, he is triumphant, and victorious, lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass. Zechariah 9:9
  8. But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed. All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way; and HaShem hath made to light on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6 (see all of Isaiah 53)
  9. Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place. Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto one anointed, a prince, shall be seven weeks; and for threescore and two weeks, it shall be built again, with broad place and moat, but in troublous times. And after the threescore and two weeks shall an anointed one be cut off, and be no more; and the people of a prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; but his end shall be with a flood; and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. Daniel 9:24-26
  10. For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to the nether-world; neither wilt Thou suffer Thy godly one to see the pit. Psalm 16:10
  11. A Psalm of David. HaShem saith unto my lord: 'Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.' Psalm 110:1
  12. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the Ancient of days, and he was brought near before Him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14
  13. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleft in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, so that there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. Zechariah 13:4
  14. See also: Zechariah 9:10; 12:2,3,8,9; 14:1-5,9,16-21; Psalm 2:6-8; 89:3,4; Jeremiah 23:5; and Isaiah 9:6,7; 11:1,10-13

[edit] Views of Maimonides

One Jewish understanding of moshiach ("the messiah") is based on the writings of Maimonides, (the Rambam). His views on the messiah are discussed in his Mishneh Torah, his 14 volume compendium of Jewish law, in the section Hilkhot Melakhim Umilchamoteihem, chapter 11. Maimonides writes:

"The anointed King is destined to stand up and restore the Davidic Kingdom to its antiquity, to the first sovereignty. He will build the Temple in Jerusalem and gather the strayed ones of Israel together. All laws will return in his days as they were before: Sacrificial offerings are offered and the Sabbatical years and Jubilees are kept, according to all its precepts that are mentioned in the Torah. Whoever does not believe in him, or whoever does not wait for his coming, not only does he defy the other prophets, but also the Torah and Moses our teacher. For the Torah testifies about him, thus: "And the Lord Your God will return your returned ones and will show you mercy and will return and gather you... If your strayed one shall be at the edge of Heaven... And He shall bring you" etc.(Deuteronomy 30:3-5)."
"These words that are explicitly stated in the Torah, encompass and include all the words spoken by all the prophets. In the section of Torah referring to Bala'am, too, it is stated, and there he prophesied about the two anointed ones: The first anointed one is David, who saved Israel from all their oppressors; and the last anointed one will stand up from among his descendants and saves Israel in the end. This is what he says (Numbers 24:17-18): "I see him but not now" - this is David; "I behold him but not near" - this is the Anointed King. "A star has shot forth from Jacob" - this is David; "And a brand will rise up from Israel" - this is the Anointed King. "And he will smash the edges of Moab" - This is David, as it states: "...And he struck Moab and measured them by rope" (II Samuel 8:2); "And he will uproot all Children of Seth" - this is the Anointed King, of whom it is stated: "And his reign shall be from sea to sea" (Zechariah 9:10). "And Edom shall be possessed" - this is David, thus: "And Edom became David's as slaves etc." (II Samuel 8:6); "And Se'ir shall be possessed by its enemy" - this is the Anointed King, thus: "And saviors shall go up Mount Zion to judge Mount Esau, and the Kingdom shall be the Lord's" (Obadiah 1:21)."
"And by the Towns of Refuge it states: "And if the Lord your God will widen up your territory... you shall add on for you another three towns" etc. (Deuteronomy 19:8-9). Now this thing never happened; and the Holy One does not command in vain. But as for the words of the prophets, this matter needs no proof, as all their books are full with this issue."
"Do not imagine that the anointed King must perform miracles and signs and create new things in the world or resurrect the dead and so on. The matter is not so: For Rabbi Akiva was a great scholar of the sages of the Mishnah, and he was the assistant-warrior of the king Bar Kokhba, and claimed that he was the anointed king. He and all the Sages of his generation deemed him the anointed king, until he was killed by sins; only since he was killed, they knew that he was not. The Sages asked him neither a miracle nor a sign..."
"And if a king shall stand up from among the House of David, studying Torah and indulging in commandments like his father David, according to the written and oral Torah, and he will coerce all Israel to follow it and to strengthen its weak points, and will fight Hashem's [God's] wars, this one is to be treated as if he were the anointed one. If he succeeded {and won all nations surrounding him. Old prints and mss.} and built a Holy Temple in its proper place and gathered the strayed ones of Israel together, this is indeed the anointed one for certain, and he will mend the entire world to worship the Lord together, as it is stated: "For then I shall turn for the nations a clear tongue, to call all in the Name of the Lord and to worship Him with one shoulder (Zephaniah 3:9)."
"But if he did not succeed until now, or if he was killed, it becomes known that he is not this one of whom the Torah had promised us, and he is indeed like all proper and wholesome kings of the House of David who died. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, only set him up to try the public by him, thus: "Some of the wise men will stumble in clarifying these words, and in elucidating and interpreting when the time of the end will be, for it is not yet the designated time." (Daniel 11:35)."

[edit] Views on Jesus of Nazareth

Maimonides next writes why Jews believe that Jesus was wrong to create Christianity and why they believe that Muhammad was wrong to create Islam; he laments the pains that Jews felt as a result of these new faiths that attempted to supplant Judaism. However, Maimonides then goes on to say that both faiths help God redeem the world.

"As for Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Anointed One and was killed by the court, Daniel had already prophecied about him, thus: "And the children of your people's rebels shall raise themselves to set up prophecy and will stumble." (Ibid. 14) Can there be a bigger stumbling block than this? All the Prophets said that the Anointed One saves Israel and rescues them, gathers their strayed ones and strengthens their mitzvot whereas this one caused the loss of Israel by sword, and to scatter their remnant and humiliate them, and to change the Torah and to cause most of the world to erroneously worship a god besides the Lord. But the human mind has no power to reach the thoughts of the Creator, for His thoughts and ways are unlike ours. All these matters of Yeshua of Nazareth and of the Ishmaelite (Muhammad) who stood up after him are only intended to pave the way for the Anointed King, and to mend the entire world to worship God together, thus: "For then I shall turn a clear tongue to the nations to call all in the Name of the Lord and to worship him with one shoulder."
"How is this? The entire world had become filled with the issues of the Anointed One and of the Torah and the Laws, and these issues had spread out unto faraway islands and among many nations uncircumcised in the heart, and they discuss these issues and the Torah's laws. These say: These Laws were true but are already defunct in these days, and do not rule for the following generations; whereas the other ones say: There are secret layers in them and they are not to be treated literally, and the Messiah had come and revealed their secret meanings. But when the Anointed King will truly rise and succeed and will be raised and uplifted, they all immediately turn about and know that their fathers inherited falsehood, and their prophets and ancestors led them astray."

[edit] Textual requirements

Most of the textual requirements concerning the messiah, what he will do, and what will be done during his reign are located within the Book of Isaiah, although requirements are mentioned in other prophets as well.

  • The Sanhedrin will be re-established (Isaiah 1:26)
  • Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)
  • The whole world will worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:17)
  • He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via King Solomon (1 Chron. 22:8-10)
  • The Moshiach will be a man of this world, an observant Jew with "fear of God" (Isaiah 11:2)
  • Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)
  • Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)
  • He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10)
  • All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)
  • He will swallow up death forever (Isaiah 25:8)
  • There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)
  • All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)
  • The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)
  • He will be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 52:7)
  • Nations will end up recognizing the wrongs they did Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:5)
  • For My House shall be called a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:3-7)
  • The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)
  • The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)
  • Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)
  • The Temple will be rebuilt (Ezekiel 40) resuming many of the suspended mitzvot
  • He will then perfect the entire world to serve God together, as it is written (Zephaniah 3:9)
  • Jews will know the Torah without Study (Jeremiah 31:33)
  • He will give you all the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)
  • He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9)

[edit] Messiah Son of Joseph

The Messiah Son of Joseph is a personage mentioned in the Talmud and other Jewish sources. It is said that:

  • He will be a forerunner of the Messiah Son of David.
  • He will gather the Jews to the Land of Israel.
  • He will restore the rituals of Temple worship.
  • He will be slain in battle by Armilus, a Son of Satan.
  • Messiah Son of David will raise him back to life.
  • Will be from the Tribe of Ephraim.

Sources in the Talmud:

Some historical figures who have been proposed to be the Messiah Son of Joseph (often by non-Jews) are:

There is a school of thought in Judaism that the prophecies are to be fulfilled not by just one person, but by many - one or two in every generation, or even all Jews.

[edit] Present-day positions

[edit] Orthodox Judaism

Most Orthodox Jews maintain that Jews are obligated to accept 13 Principles of Faith which is based on the Prophets, including an unwavering belief in the coming of the messiah. In Hebrew These are called the Ani Maamin (I believe). Number 12 is the main principle relating to Mashiach. The Text is as follows

Ani Maamin B'emunah Sh'leimah B'viyat Hamashiach. V'af al pi sheyitmahmehah im kol zeh achake lo b'chol yom sheyavo.

In English: I believe with full faith in the coming of the Messiah. And even though he tarries, with all that, I await his arrival with every day.

[edit] Hassidic Judaism

Hassidic Jews tend to have a particularly strong and passionate belief in the immediacy of the Messiah's coming, and a belief that their personal devotion and actions have spiritual properties that can hasten the arrival. Because of a Hassidic tradition that the Baal Shem Tov, Hassidic Judaism's founder, was descended from King David, members of hassidic communities are sometimes inclined to regard their dynastic rebbes who are descended from him as potential candidates for Messiah.

[edit] Conservative Judaism

Emet Ve-Emunah, the Conservative movement's statement of principles, states:

Since no one can say for certain what will happen in the Messianic era each of us is free to fashion personal speculation. Some of us accept these speculations are literally true, while others understand them as elaborate metaphors... For the world community we dream of an age when warfare will be abolished, when justice and compassion will be axioms of all, as it is said in Isaiah 11: "...the land shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." For our people, we dream of the ingathering of all Jews to Zion where we can again be masters of our own destiny and express our distinctive genius in every area of our national life. We affirm Isaiah's prophecy (2:3) that "...Torah shall come forth from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

We do not know when the Messiah will come, nor whether he will be a charismatic human figure or is a symbol of the redemption of humankind from the evils of the world. Through the doctrine of a Messianic figure, Judaism teaches us that every individual human being must live as if he or she, individually, has the responsibility to bring about the messianic age. Beyond that, we echo the words of Maimonides based on the prophet Habakkuk (2:3) that though he may tarry, yet do we wait for him each day.

[edit] The messiah in Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism

Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism generally do not accept the idea that there will be a messiah. Some believe that there may be some sort of "messianic age" (the World to Come) in the sense of a "utopia," which all Jews are obligated to work towards (thus the tradition of Tikkun olam).

In 1976, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the official body of American Reform rabbis, authored "Reform Judaism: A Centenary Perspective". While not an official statement of principles, it is meant to describe the spiritual state of modern Reform Judaism. In regard to the messianic era, it states:

Previous generations of Reform Jews had unbound confidence in humanity's potential for good. We have lived through terrible tragedy and been compelled to reappropriate our tradition's realism about the human capacity for evil. Yet our people has always refused to despair. The survivors of the Holocaust, being granted life, seized it, nurtured it, and, rising above catastrophe, showed humankind that the human spirit is indomitable. The State of Israel, established and maintained by the Jewish will to live, demonstrates what a united people can accomplish in history. The existence of the Jew is an argument against despair; Jewish survival is warrant for human hope. We remain God's witness that history is not meaningless. We affirm that with God's help people are not powerless to affect their destiny. We dedicate ourselves, as did the generations of Jews who went before us, to work and wait for that day when "They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

[edit] Talmud

"The Talmud nowhere indicates a belief in a superhuman Deliverer as the Messiah." (Cohen, 1949. Chap. XI, The Hereafter, § I. The Messiah, p. 347) Rather, the Talmud mentions Moshiach and the Era of Moshiach as a period of freedom and peace, which will be the time of ultimate goodness for the Jews, and for all mankind. However, there are statements in the Talmud which describe a truly supernatural Era as well. These two concepts - involving a natural era of goodness, and a supernatural one which is beyond nature - can be understood to happen in two separate phases.

The first period will bring the world to complete perfection. Specifically included among events of this first period are the returning of Jews to Israel and the building of the Third Temple (although this is supernatural, since it is primarily built by God.) Mohiach will be the one to lead the world to that era, and will continue being the world's leader while in that era.

The second period will include a supernatural existence - that is, one extending beyond anything currently imaginable. As explained in numerous texts, one of the distinctive features of this second period is that the entire mankind will "know God" in a physical and "visual" sense.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • Cohen, Abraham [1949] (1995). Everyman's Talmud: The Major Teachings of the Rabbinic Sages (paperback), Neusner, Jacob, paperback (in English), New York: Schocken Books, 405. ISBN 0-8052-1032-6.
  • Philosophies of Judaism by Julius Guttmann, trans. by David Silverman, JPS. 1964
  • Mishneh Torah, Maimonides, Chapter on Hilkhot Melakhim Umilchamoteihem (Laws of Kings and Wars)
  • Mashiach Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet, published by S.I.E., Brooklyn, NY, 1992
  • Moses Maimonides's Treatise on Resurrection, Trans. Fred Rosner
  • Emet Ve-Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism, Ed. Robert Gordis, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1988
  • Reform Judaism: A Centenary Perspective, Central Conference of American Rabbis
  • Miriam Naomi Mashiah

[edit] External links


<span class="FA" id="pt" style="display:none;" />ar:الماشيح de:Maschiach fr:Messie dans le judaïsme he:משיח pt:Messias (Judaísmo)

Jewish Messiah

Views
Personal tools
what is world wizzy?
  • World Wizzy is a static snapshot taken of Wikipedia in early 2007. It cannot be edited and is online for historic & educational purposes only.