Some Prophecies Concerning the Messiah

Including excerpts from Jewish literature.

W.E. Read, Retired Administrator.

In the Old Testament Scriptures there is a gradual unfolding of the Messianic concept, and this was God's plan in preparing His an­cient people for the Coming One, the Mashiach-Messiah, or the Anointed One. The idea of "anointing" is seen very early in the Holy Scriptures. The first ref­erence is to that of Abraham who is called a "prophet" (Gen. 20:7). He was "anointed" (1 Chron. 16: 22). One Jewish commentator gives us the following note on this. On "mine anointed" (Ps. 105:15) we read:

The term is employed in a wide sense in con­nection with the patriarchs as men designated by God to become the progenitors of a kingdom of priests.—A. COHEN, The Psalms, p. 346.

A few who were called to the prophetic office were also anointed. This doesn't seem to have been a rule, but it did obtain in the case of Elijah and also of Elisha, whom Elijah was directed to anoint "to be prophet in thy room" (1 Kings 19:16).

The following is an interesting note on this:

Prophets were occasionally anointed to their of­fice . . and were called messiahs, or anointed.—Was. SMITH, Art. "Anointings," Bible Dictionary, p. 41.

Then the priests of Israel were anointed to their sacred office. We read concerning Aaron:

Then shalt thou [Moses] take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him (Ex. 29:7, JPS).1

Not only was Aaron anointed but his sons were also anointed (Ex. 30:29), and it was an established principle that all suc­ceeding priests should be thus set apart to the sacred office of a "faithful priest" (1 Sam. 2:35).

Then kings in ancient days also were anointed at their coronation. We might observe 1 Samuel 9:25­27; 10:1, but there are many in­stances of this.

All these, however, were pri­mary applications of this princi­ple of anointing. They were but types of the One who later would become prophet (Luke 7:11), priest (Heb. 8:1), and King (Zech. 6:13; John 18:37). To Daniel of old was given a wonderful pre­view of the Messiah—the Anointed One. He was called "Messiah the Prince" (Dan. 9:25), and when the actual time of His anointing came, He is referred to as that "Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ" (John 1:41). [The marginal rendering is "the Anointed."]

This was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth at the time of His baptism. Then the Holy Spirit came upon Him and He was "anointed" (Luke 3:22; Acts 10:38). Shortly after this, Jesus announced that He was the Messiah when He declared: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me" (Luke 4:18).

Hence in God's preparatory work with His people, He ordained that men should be called to serve as priests, others as prophets, and still others as kings. Those priests, kings, and in some cases prophets were definitely anointed for their service for God. They were the anointed, the Mashiach, and in this we see the primary application of the term "Messiah," but in a limited form.

Scattered throughout the pages of Holy Writ there are many prophecies of the coming of the Messiah, and many of them were fulfilled at the time that Jesus of Nazareth appeared among men. Let us think of a few of these forecasts:

1. The Messiah Was to Be of the Seed of David.

This is emphasized again and again in the Holy Scriptures. Observe God's prom­ise to David in the book of Samuel:

I will set up thy seed after thee (2 Sam. 7:12, JPS).1.

Later came a development of this promise, for we read:

The Lord swore unto David in truth; he will not turn back from it: "of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne" (Ps. 132:11, jPS).i

But God's promise to David was of an un­usual character. It had in it the seeds of eternity—something that stretched beyond the time of a mere local application. No­tice the following startling words:

Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever—it shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven (Ps. 89:35-37, HPC).2

Still further, we can see the Messianic ele­ment in the wonderful words of God. In the prophecy of Isaiah they are applied to the Messiah.

There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots (Isa. 11:1, HPC).2

The emphasis on this in the Jewish writ­ings is clear and explicit. Observe the fol­lowing:

And a king shall come forth from the sons of Jesse, and an Anointed One (or, Messiah) from his sons' sons shall grow up.—J. P. STENNING, The Targum on Isaiah, chap. 11:1, p. 40.

We read further:

In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen. 'Thus hath R. Johanan said: In the generation when the son of David, [i.e., Messiah] will come.—Talmud San­hedrin 97a, Soncino ed., p. 654.

The New Testament emphasis on this can be seen in such texts as Matthew 1:1; Luke 1:32; John 7:42; Acts 13:23.

2. The Messiah Will Come From the Peo­ple of Israel

There are several Old Testament texts where this thought is implied, but it is def­initely emphasized in the Hebrew writings. Observe the Biblical indications:

"A Branch shall grow out of his roots" (Isa. 11:1).

"Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land [of Israel]" (Isa. 16:1). These texts are applied to the Messiah.

A King is to arise from the house of Jakob, and a Redeemer and Ruler from the House of Israel. —Targum Jerusalem, vol. 2, p. 431.3

The mighty King of Jakob's house shall reign and the Meshiha, the Power Sceptre of Israel, be anointed.—Targum Palestine on Numbers 24:17, vol. 2, p. 430.3

3. The Messiah Was to Appear in the Land of Israel

The Scriptures of the prophets foretold that the Messiah—the Desire of all nations —would come, and would "fill this house [the Temple at Jerusalem] with glory" (Haggai 2:7). And further that "the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple [in Jerusalem]" (Mal. 3:1).

This thought is clearly expressed in the writings of the ancient people of God.

In the millennium, likewise, when he will re­veal himself, salvation will come to Israel, as it says, "Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall clear the way before me [and . . . shall suddenly come to his temple] [in Jerusalem]" (Mal. 3:1).—Midrash on Exodus 32:9, p. 413.

"The Lord whom )e (i.e. the people of Israel) seek" who "shall come suddenly," was then supposed to be the "King Messiah" who should come unex­pectedly.—J. KLAussrEk, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 244.

4. The Messiah Will Appear When Rome Rules the World

This thought is seen in the prophecy of Daniel and particularly in the ninth chap­ter, for it is Rome that stands up "against the Prince of princes" (Dan. 8:25) or "Mes­siah the Prince" (chap. 9:25), and during whose rulership "shall Messiah be cut off" (verse 26).

This was also envisioned by Jewish writ­ers many centuries ago. We read:

Mosheh [Moses] came forth from the midst of the desert; but King Meshiha [Messiah] (comes) from the midst of Roma.—Targum Palestine, on Ex. 12:40, vol. 1, p. 481.3

The Son of David [Messiah] will not come un­til the [Roman] power enfolds Israel.—Talmud Sanhedrin 98b, Soncino ed., p. 665.

5. The Messiah Will Be Born in Bethle­hem

Most of us are acquainted with the well-known prophecy of Micah:

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, . . . out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel (Micah 5:2).

This is the prophecy, it will be remem­bered, that the Jewish leaders gave to Herod when he demanded information as to where the Messiah would be born. Matt. 2:1-6.

In the Talmud we read:

The son of David [Messiah] will not come un­til the wicked kingdom of Rome will have spread [its sway] over the whole world, . . . as it is said: Therefore will He give them up, until the time that she who travaileth hada brought forth.—Tal­mud Yoma 10a, Soncino ed., p. 44.

Micah (v. 1) predicted that Bethlehem, Ephratah would be the birthplace of a new Messianic David.—Jewish Encyclopedia, art. "Bethle­hem," p. 121, col. 2.

6.   The Messiah Would Enter Jerusalem Riding on an Ass

This also was one of the forecasts of the prophets of God:

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 (Zech. 9:9, FIPC).2

This too was well recognized as pertain­ing to the Messiah by the leaders of Israel as can be seen in their writings:

This "refers to the royal Messiah, for it says of him, 'Lowly, and riding upon an ass' (Zech. IX, 9)." —Midrash Rabbah, LXXV.6, Soncino ed., p. 698.

Similarly will it be with the latter Redeemer, as it is stated, Lowly and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9).—Midrash Rabbah, I. 9, p. 33.

When he [Messiah] will come of whom it is written, Lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass (Zech. IX, 9).—Midrash Rabbah, XCVIII. 9, p. 957.

Again, observe how accurately the prophecy was fulfilled.

And the disciples went, and did as Jesus [Yeshua] commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set Him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Matt. 21:6-9).

7.   The Messiah Would Bear Wound Prints in His Hands and in His Feet

Some of these texts in the Scriptures as published by Jewish publishing houses stress this just as strongly as our King James and Revised Standard Version translations. Note the following rendering:

The assembly of the wicked have enclosed me (Ps. 22:17, HPC).2

And they will look up toward me . . . whom they have thrust through (Zech. 12:10, Isaac Leeser's Trans.).

And one shall say unto Him, what are these wounds in Thine hands? Then He shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends (Zech. 13:6, FiPc).2

For the New Testament fulfillment see John 19:34, 37; Revelation 1:7.

In the Talmud the passage is interpreted with reference to the Messianic era, and the martyr who was thrust through is the Messiah.—A. COHEN, The Twelve Prophets, on Zech. 12:10, pp. 321, 322.

Also referring to Zechariah 12:10 we read:

It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah . . , since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse.—Talmud Sukkah 52', Soncino ed., p. 246.

8.   The Messiah's Name as Yeshua Was Foretold

The Messiah was foreshadowed under many titles, such as Shiloh (Gen. 49:10); the Branch (Jer. 23:5); my servant the Branch (Zech. 3:8); the Son of man (Dan. 7:13); and several others, but the term "Yeshua," while not found in the English translations of our Bible, does appear in various forms in the Hebrew. Quite gen­erally it is rendered "salvation" as in Psalm 95:1; Isaiah 12:2; 62:11; but in the Septua­gint [LXX] these texts read "Saviour" in­stead of "salvation."

It is interesting to note what is said about the "Saviour" of Israel. The following is worthy of careful thought and study:

  1. The LORD thy God is thy Saviour (Isa. 43:3, Leeser and other Jewish trans­lations).
  2. The Memra (Word of God) was their Saviour (Isa. 63:8; 12:2). (See Tar-gum of Isaiah by J. F. Stenning.)

If we think of Saviour as "Yeshua" or "Yesha," it is easy from the above texts to see that "Yeshua" is the LORD; He is God; He is the Memra; He is King. But He is something more. Notice the following comments:

Thy king cometh unto thee. "This can only refer to King Messiah of whom it is said, And his do­minion shall be from sea to sea."—A. COHEN, The Twelve Prophets, on Zech. 9:9, p. 305.

Think of it. He is the Messiah, the com­ing One, the long-looked-for Shiloh; He is the Saviour and Redeemer of His peo­ple. When He came His name was Jesus or Saviour. This name is the same as Joshua (see Heb. 4:8, margin) and is a contraction of Jehoshua (Num. 13:16). Joshua also means "salvation," but Jeho­shua means "Jehovah the Saviour." This is actually what Yeshua means. How aptly the Son of man was named.

9. The Messiah Would Perform Miracles

We read:

Behold, your God will come . . . , he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be un­stopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing (Isa. 35: 4-6, JPS).8

How wonderfully was this prophecy ful­filled in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The apostles repeatedly empha­sized this in their contact with the people.

"Jesus . . . a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him" (Acts 2:22).

Nicodemus also bore witness to that fact:

"No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him" (John 3:2).

Two of the disciples on the road to Em­maus said: "Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people" (Luke 24:9).

Our Jewish friends recognized also in their writings that this would be a charac­teristic of the true Messiah. We read in the Zohar:

At the moment of the appearance of the Mes­siah, Son of David, many signs and wonders will be made manifest and many miracles will take place.—Ariel Bension in The Zohar, p. 180.

And from Joseph Klausner we cull the following, referring to the text just quoted:

He [Jesus] regarded himself as the Messiah, and contemporary belief endowed the Messiah with supernatural powers. All four Gospels are filled with such miracles.—Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 966, 267.

Jesus was a worker of miracles. He healed the sick and drove out evil spirits, for it was impossible that the Messiah should not work miracles.­Ibid., p. 255.

Whatever of the marvellous was comprised in their [prophets] sayings was, in the time of Jesus, understood to refer to the Messianic Age. . . . It had been said of the Messianic Age: "then shall the eyes of the blind see, and the ears of the deaf be opened."—/bid., p. 268.

10.   The Messiah Will Even Raise the Dead

To make sure of the identity of the Messiah, the Jews will demand that he perform the miracle of resurrection before their eyes, reviving such of the dead as they had known personally.—Louis GUIZBERG, Legend of the Jews, vol. 4, p. 234.

How strikingly this was fulfilled in the life of Jesus of Nazareth! Think of the widow's son at Nain (Luke 7:11-18), of the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:22­24), and also of the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-46). See also The Desire of Ages, p. 536.

11.   The Messiah Will Make Atonement for His People

He will "make reconciliation [atone­ment] for iniquity" (Dan. 9:24).

He will "make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17).

"By whom [Jesus] we have now re­ceived the atonement" (Rom. 5:11).

It should he noted that in translating the text in Daniel 9:24 several translations use the word "atone" or "atonement," such as the LXX, Leeser, and R.S.V. In the He­brew writings we read that the making of an atonement is one of the things to be accomplished by the Memra [word], the Messiah of the Lord.

And by His word [Memra] will He make Atonement for His land, and for His people.— Targum Palestine, on Deut. 32:43, vol. 2, p. 670.8

12.   Messiah Was to Come After 4,000 Years of Earth's History

This concept is clearly portrayed in the Scriptures of truth, and especially in the time prophecies of the Bible. But let us observe the hopes and expectations of the Jewish leaders in the days long ago. We read in the Talmud:

The Tanna debe Eliyyahu taught: The world is to exist six thousand years; the first two thousand years are to be void; the next two thousand years are the period of the Torah, and the following two thousand years are the period of the Messiah. Through our many sins a number of these have already passed [and the Messiah is not yet]—Talmud Abodah Zarah 9, Soncino ed., p. 43.

Rashi, one of the revered and honored Jewish commentators, remarks upon the 2;000 years reference in the Talmud (San­hedrin 97a/b):

After the two thousand years of the law, ac­cording to the decree, Messiah ought to have come and the wicked kingdom should have been de­stroyed, and Israel's state of servitude should have been ended.—Quoted by Alex McCaul in his The Old Paths, pp. 389, 390.

13. Messiah Would Come Before the End of Judah

We read in Genesis 49:10 that—The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the peo­ple be.

Reference is made to "Shiloh" in this prophecy, and while there was a town bear­ing this name (Joshua 18:1), this prophecy refers to a person. In fact, this was one of the names of the Messiah. The Tal­mud recognizes this:

What is his [the Messiah's] name!—The School of R. Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is writ­ten, until Shiloh come.—Talmud Sanhedrin 98, Soncino ed., p. 677.

The text in Genesis and the Talmudic comment emphasize the fact that Messiah was due to come before the kingly scepter passed from Judah. If these statements are true, is it not clear that the Messiah would come before the termination of the reign of the last king to sit on David's throne? The fact is that King Herod was the last one to occupy this position, even though he was appointed as such by the Roman Empire. On one occasion, in the days of Yeshua, the Jewish people cried out, "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15). No one was appointed after him. At the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 the Jewish people were driven into exile. Now what does all this mean? Could it be that the Messiah actually came and the people did not recognize Him? Before we answer this question let us read from the Jewish prayer book which is used on the Day of Atonement. Notice this statement:

Our righteous anointed (Messiah) is departed from us: Horror bath seized us, and we have none to justify us. He hath borne the yoke of our iniq­uities, and our transgression, and is wounded be­cause of our transgression. He beareth our sins on His shoulder, that He may find pardon for our iniquities. We shall be healed by His wound.—A. TH PHILLIPS, Prayer Book for the Day of Atone­ment, p. 239.

Then the Messiah did come, for it is stated that He had "departed from us." He must have come a long time before this was written. Remember that "Shiloh" re­fers to the Messiah.

So He did come once as the suffering servant of God. But He is coming again, and this time it will be as the conquering king.

14.   The Messiah's Coming Would Termi­nate the Sacrifices

We read in our Bibles that "in the midst of the [70th] week he [Messiah] shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease" (Dan. 9:27).

This is significant that the "midst of the week" was in A.D. 31, and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, a difference of roughly 40 years, and that we should find the following tacit admission in the Tal­mud:

Our Rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ['Tor the Lord"] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white; nor did the westernmost light shine; and the doors of the Hekal [sanctuary] would open by themselves. —Talmud Yoma 39b, Soncino ed., p. 186.

This Talmudic reference is obviously re­lated to the Day of Atonement as re­corded in Leviticus 16.

15.   The Messiah Was to Rise From the Dead

There is a unique prophecy in the book of Psalms which could not possibly have ap­plied to David. It is found in Psalm 16:10.

Thou wilt not abandon my soul to the grave: thou wilt not suffer thy pious (servant) to see cor­ruption (Leeser).

In the Hebrew writings on this verse we read:

"My glory shall rejoice in the King Messiah, Who in the future shall come forth from me. . . . My flesh also shall dwell in safety"—i.e. after death, to teach us that corruption . . . shall not rule over it.—Quoted in A. EDERSHEINL Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. II, p. 717.

Therefore . ..my glory rejoiceth, rejoices in  the lord Messiah who will rise up out of me. —Midrash on Psalms5 by William G. Braude, vol. 1, p. 201.

It is evident from this excerpt that even David himself recognized this passage as applying to the Messiah, and also that the Messiah should be of his seed according to the flesh. In the New Testament, as translated by a Jewish author, we read:

David indeed, personating him [Messiah], says . . . "for you will not relinquish my soul to Hell (sheol), nor will you allow your holy one to see decay" (Ps. 16: 8-11).—HuGu I. SCHONFIELD, The Authentic New Testament, p. 194.

But David died and was buried (1 Kings 2:10). His flesh did see corruption (Acts 2:29). But if this applies to the Messiah, then we have a different picture. Read what was written concerning the Messiah in later years. Referring to Psalm 16:10 we read:

He [David] seeing this before spake of the res­urrection of Christ [the Messiah], that his soul was not left in hell [in the grave], neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus [Yeshua] bath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses (Acts 2:31, 32).

And the angel answered and said unto the woman, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus [Yeshua], which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead. . . . And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus [Yeshua] met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him (Matt. 28:5-7, 9).

This same Yeshua has had such a mar­velous influence upon the world that He has split the centuries in two. Everything dating before Him is called B.C.E. (be­fore the common era, by the Jewish peo­ple, and B.C. by the Gentiles. Everything after Him is called C.E. (common era) by the Jewish people and A.D. by the Gen­tiles. Thus, so powerful a figure was the Messiah, the Son of the living God, that everything dates before Him or after Him. All history revolves about His name.

16. Messiah Will Come the Second Time

Two aspects of the advent of the Mes­siah are presented in the ancient scriptures. He was to come as the suffering servant (Isa. 52:53). He was to come as the con­quering King (Dan. 7:13, 14). The one was fulfilled when Yeshua of Nazareth came more than 1,900 years ago; the other will be fulfilled when He comes as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:11-16).

That He will come the second time is expressed in their prayer book: o bring Him up from the circle of the earth . . . to assemble us the second time on Mount Lebanon, by the hand of . . . Yinnon.—A. TH. PHILLIPS, Prayer Book for the Day of Atonement, p. 239.

May we not all pray as did one of the prophets of long ago, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).

17. The Messiah Would Be Rejected by His Own People

Notice the graphic picture given by the prophet Isaiah:

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Isa. 53:3).

How tragic! The Messiah "came unto his own, but his own received him not" (John 1:11). Did not the Messiah come at the ex­pected time? But the Jews looked for a war­rior Messiah and not a servant Messiah. They thought of one aspect of His over-all work and not the other. They failed to see that first of all He was to be the Redeemer of Israel and later He would be the King of Israel. But He came just the same, and the wonderful prophecies which were given concerning the Messiah were faith­fully fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

This same Jesus, who lived among men, who died and was raised from the dead "God hath made . . . both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). He has been made Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah (John 1:41, text and margin); He has been made Lord—yea, "Lord of all" (Acts 10:36). No wonder the angelic hosts and other intelligences in heaven join in their hallelujahs of adoration and praise.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever (Rev. 5:12, 13).

1 JPS means the Bible in English published by the Jewish Publication Society.

2 HPC means the Bible published by the Hebrew Pub­lishing Company.

3 The Targums on the Pentateuch, five books of Moses whether of Onkelos, the Jerusalem, or Palestine Targum, were translated into English by J. W. Etheridge and ap­peared in two volumes.

4The Talmud has been published in 35 volumes in Eng­lish by the Soncino Press and can be seen in many public libraries.

5 The Midrash on various books of the Old Testament has been published in English in 10 volumes by the Soncino Press, England.


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W.E. Read, Retired Administrator.

December 1964

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