The Religious A priori

Messiah




Timeline on Jewish

Expectations of Messiah







II.The Issue on time line and eschatlogical verification


Jewish anit-missionaires say that the "official" claims of Judaism matter more than do other fulfillments of prophecy which Christians point out. when Christians argue that Is.53 predicts crucifiction, ressurection, ect. the Jewish apologist will simply say "that doesn't matter, if Jesus didn't bring in the Messianich Kingdom, unite all Jews, bring them form dispursion, create world peace, rebuild the temple, and do all the other things prophesied of the Messianic age, than he can't be the Messiah." In other words, they argue that Jewish expectation is and always has been focussed only on the end of times, and nothing else matters. But this is not the case. It is alleged that fulfillments such as son of David, ect. only qualify him to be Messiah, only fulfilling all of the propheicies can prove that he is.

I made an argument that I never saw an answer to. That there are no "official" signs. Bringing in the Kingdom of the Messiah is not a "sign to watch for." In fact, in all the literature I read on the Messiah, which is now considerable, I have yet to see anyone offering criteria, in Rabbonate, or in OT as to "this is how we know it's really him." That seems in fact irrelivant because when the Kingdom comes we will know it, and the Messiah will be obvious, (he will be the one who outshines the Son standing on top of the temple shouting "Your time of diliverance is at hand"). But that's not a sing to watch for, that's the thing itself. In fact there are no signs, and the Rabbinical lit I have seen says the signs to look for (of those who look--some say not to look) are signs of the coming of the age, or the end of the age and coming of Messiah's kingdom not sings of the man himself as though he will be pulled out of a police line up or something.


A. distinguish between Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Messiah


How does this affect the argument? First, distingusih between the Kingdom of God (the one Jesus' said is "in your midst") and the "day ofMessiah, Kingdom of Messiah, age of Messiah, ect. These are two different things. The kingdom of God is absract, it is going on all the time, it is spritual reality.

"This 'kingdom of heaven' of 'of God' must be tinguished form such terms as t'the kingdom of Messiah'...'future age'...world of Messiah." "days of Messiah' 'age to come' ect...This is all the more important since the Kingdom of heaven has so often been confounded witht he period of its triumphant manifestation in 'the days' or 'the kingdom of the messiah.' Between the advent [of Messiah] and the final manifestation fo the 'the kingdom,' Jewish expectancy palced a temporary obsuration of the Messiah...." Edersheim, p267 [Yalkut vol iip75d and Midrash on Ruth ii14) Yalkut = Yalkut Shemedni Catena on OT

In some sense Jesus brought in the Kingdom of God, realized eschatology, but not the Messianic kingdom. This is what he means when he says "the Kingdom of God is within you" or "in your midst." That will come with his second advent.

B. First century Jews expected Messiah to come, go away, return

So in other words, the Jews of Jesus' day, and shortly thereafter understood that the Messiah would be born, be secret and hidden not understood by his contemporaries and then come in a powerful way whenhe brings in the kingdom of Messiah. But he would already manifest the kingdom of God, which is in our midst. And that was really the message of Jesus. Over and over he says, not "i will die for your sins" but "the Kingdom of God is near," "the Kingdom of God is coming." So his message involves a realized eschatology about the kingdom of God, and the coming of the next age at a future date. Which is just what the Jews of his day understood.

"Suffice it to say, according to the general opinion, the birth of the Messiah would be unknown to his contemporaries, that he would appear, carry on his work, than disappear--probably for 45 days, than appear again and destroy the hostile powers of the world..." (Edershiem, 436, Yalkut on Is. vol ii, )

"[Messiah]...his birth is connnected with the destruction, [of temple] and his Return with the restoration of the temple" (on Lamintations i.16 WArsh p 64 in Edersheim "He might be there and be known or the might come and be again hidden for a time" comp Sanhedirin 97a Midrash on CAnt.

"Even in the Damascus document, there is some indication in the first colum of the Cairo recennsion that the Messianic "root of Planting out of Aaron and Israel" has already come. The 'arising' or 'standing up' can be looked upon as well, something in the nature of a Messianich return..."(quote finnished above on ressurrection).(18)

1) Messiah's advent connected with destruction of the temple, return with rebuilding:

The Targum applies Is. 10:27 destruction of gentiles before Messiah 10:34 quoted in the Midrash on Lam i.16 "in evidence that somehow the birth of the Messiah was to be connected with the destruction of the temple." Edershiem sites the Targim and the Talmud on the whole of chapter 11. He says the rebuilding of temple associated with Mesisahs "return!"

Of course thse sources were written after the desction, which makes it all the more puzzaling how they could say that.

2) Jesus birth connected with temple destruction in several ways.

a) Star prophecy connected to Jewish revolt that triggered destruction.

"The first Century Jewish Historian Josephus, an eye witness identifies the world ruler prophecy as the moving force behind the Jewish revolt against Rome in AD 66-70 (War, 6.317). Roman wirtters dependent upon him like Suetonius and Tacitus do likewise."

b) The Messianic Claims of the Christians may have fuled the fire


c) Temple period transitional

form a Spiritual or theological view point the tempel period remianing after the birth of Christ might be seen as a transitional period and the descturction of the temple a closure to the Moseic sacraficial system due to the advent of the Messiah and the New Covenant.

In anycase this notion indicates that Jewish expectations were such that a Messianich advent, disappearnce and return were to be expected.

C. Gap between Advent and return (Messiah unrecognized)


The age between advent (birth) and triumph of Kingdom of M. was of indeterminant length and would include sufferings of Messiah and Israel. It is the Messianic age. "According to the general opinion the birth of the Messiah would be unkown to his contemporaries" he appears, "carry on his work and then dissapear=for 45 days reappaer and destory the hostile powers of the world... Israel would now be gathered form the ends of the earth" Edersheim 436 [Yalkut on Isah. vol 2] Yalkut also speaks of the Messiah put under an iron yoke and imprisioned for the sins of the poeple and it uses the same languae of psalm 22 about mouth cleves to the roof and strength dried up like postherd [discussion TAlmud Sanhedrin ). yalkut iip66 shows Messiah imprisioned and mocked by nations (see also psalm 22).


1. Messiah to be rejected and suffers, dies, before Kingdom comes

As Edersheim demonstrates the Messiah was expected to suffer, and at one point even to die, before the establishment of the Messianich Kingdom. Actually, the Qumran sect believed in two Messiahs, the Davidic and a Preistly son of Joseph. This view was revived again in the third century and was held by Rabbis in that erra at least to the middle ages. Edersheim documents (434-35) it was the Joseph Messiah who would be killed in the Gog/Mog war, and some also expected the Davidic Messiah to suffer as well. Even though these are only the opinions of some rabbis and not the law of the Talmud it is still significant that rabbis actually held views different than modern anti-missionaires and views which coroborate in part the Chrstian-Messianich time line, that the Messiah would suffer and die and some interval would seperate the Messiah's appearance form the coming of the kingdom.


a) Two Messiah's Issue crucial

The evidence Edersheim offers for the death of the Messiah is spoken of the Preistly Messiah, the Son of Joseph. Also some rabbis the mentions also saw suffering for the Davic Messiah. The Preistly Messiah would be killed by the "nations" and the Davidic would take revenge by brining on Armagadon and then usher in the Kingdom of the Messiah. (434).

b) Single Messiah theory may have been more important at Qumran

Edersheim believed that the Talmudic rabbis (second century on) made up the two Messiah notion, since Qumran had not yet been discovered. Allegro and others demonstrate that Qumranian phrasology such as "the Messiah of Aaron and Israel" refur to two Messiahs, one preistly, the other Davidic and war like. But Eisenman and Wise demonstrate that these two are actually melded into one in much Qumran literature, as they were in the early Chrsitian movement.

"Even in the published corpus there is a wide swath of materlias, particularly in the Biblical commentaries on Isaiah, Zechariah, Pslams, and the Messianic compendium proof texts that relate to a single Davidic style Messiah..." (18).

What does all this mean? Two things:


a1) All the passages that latter Rabbis identify as Preistly Messiah could be collapsed into a single Messiah Model.

a2) that the rabbi's interprit Messianic death as Preistly but these same passages could be applied to the single Messiah.

c) Possible exicution of Messiah fortold by Qumran sect.

The passages that Eiseman and Wise brought out which, though hotly debated, could imply death of Messiah at Qumran indicate Messiah exicuted. "A staff shall rise form the root of Jesse, [and a planting form his roots will bear fruit] (3) ...the Branch of David...They will enter into judgement with...(4) and they will put to death the leader of the community, the Branch of David..(this might also read depending on the context 'and the leader of the community the Branch of David will put him to death..') (p. 29).

Eisenman and Wise argue, however, that their reading is better, although they admitt to the possibility of error. "Here the key question is wheather fragment 7 comes before or after fragment and could be 'the one put to death.' If before, than it is possible that the Messianic leader does the putting to death, mentioned in the text, though such a conclusion flies in the face of the logic of the appositivites like the ..."Branch of David" grouped after the expression the Nasi-ha 'Edah.' which would be clumsy even in Hebrew. f(4Q285)

2. Differing views of time line and Messiah (s)

The probelm is there are several things at veriance here. Edersheim's hypothosis is not that Jesus was exctly as the Jews pictured the Messiah. Rather, he argues the opposite! He was not what they expected, and they got many things wrong. But he does agree with and fulfill myriad prophecies which are pointed out. The problem is the understanding of the time line, and the distiction between the two Messiahs. There was a preistly Messiah and a Dividic Messiah. Even the Talmudic Rabbis broght out the notion of the two Messiahs from the pre-Chrsitian era of groups like those at Qumran. Edershiem, writting without benifit of disovery of DSS, argues that they made up the Joseph Messiah to take suffering off Davic, (Jesus). But we know now they had two at Qumran. It is the Joeph Messiah who suffers, also though authories see suffering for the Davic Messiah as well. fn2 p434

3. Rabbi's differed on length of gap between advent and kingdom

The earliest TAlmudic references to two Messiahs dates to 3d cnetury, identitfys him as the one they will look upon and mourn, the one they peirced (!) in Zechariah. The time line is in disagreement between Rabbinical sources. Some view the Messianch age as lasting 2000 years, some much longer, some see the suffering as only 45 days. There are long discussions on the terrors of the Messianich age, famine, rebellion, war, and in the Sybline Oracles it is a Golden Age. So there is much divergence on how all of this plays out.

It is too simplistic to just say "well, did jesus bring in the age of peace and gather all of Israel?" It's not as though we are just walking around minding our own business and suddenly here's the Messiah doing those things and that's how we know it's him. The situaion is complex, some of the expecations match what Jesus did, some don't, some of the time lines would fit right in with hsitory: Jesus came, he left, time goes on, he will come back, some don't.

D. The following points are crucial:

1) The Messiah is born, unkown

2) rejected and suffering (imprionsed and suffering for sins)

3) is obscured for a time

5) then comes back.


That outline could include what happened with Jesus as Messiah, or it could be preserved in skelital form but rule out the history form Jesus to present, it just depends upon which authorities one listens to.

Now, the major argument: There are no "offical sings." the events you point to are manifestly not the only events one could point to as indicative of Messiah, and they are not signs to show one who Messiah is! They are future events, not helpful hints to know Messiah. It is illogicl to claim that he has to fulfill these things (coming of Messianic Kingdom) and Only those things. Because no where are these events listed as a means to understand who he is. The age is given signs to know it's comming, no MEssiah himself.

E.The verses that show fulfillments are just as valid as 'proof' because:

1) They are prophesies and they are fulfilled and that's the only clue we are ever given. Is. 53 shows exactly what Jesus was to do, and Ps 22, Zech. 4-8 ect. Jer. 23. Those fulfillments are just as valid for understanding the Messiah as the ones you always sight, because no verse says which verses are the key.

2) There can't be fulfillment of the end of the age until it comes, and if that's the only proof than no faith is validated until after the fact.Faith is not eschatiological verification, (you can't wait until the end of the world to believe) it has to proceed that. But the demand that he fulfill the end of the age prophocies is irrational, there was suppossed to be exactly what happend with him, born, hidden, goes away or obscured, suffers, comes back.

3) Since there is no key which says look at these verses and not at those, all we can do is look at fulfillment. and the fulfillment shows that Jesus was right with God, that he was a prophet, and that he claimed t be the "son of man." If he's true prophet than he's not lying and thus, he is the son of man.

He was a prophet:

1) led people to the God of Israel not to other gods,

2) the things he said came to pass, espcially the destruction of the temple. His own death and resurrection.

3) As a true prophet of God he could not lie, therefore, when he calls himself "The Son of Man" a Messianic designation from Daniel, we must take him at his word.



The Religious A priori