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Early Jewish Views of Messiah

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The Greek term christos, which can be directly translated into "anointed one" or "messiah", is what Christians would further translate into Jesus Christ. Jewish beliefs reject the idea of Jesus being God, a part of the Trinity or an intercessor between God and man. While the early Jews did not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, they believed that the future would bring an anointed, charismatic leader that would cause God's kingdom to become reality. Early Jewish views of Messiah concluded that he would be a descendant of King David, ruler over Israel, gather all of the Jews into his land, restore them to full obedience to the law and bring peace to the world. Jewish views on the "anointed one" can be further explored by examining the messiah in context of the Hebrew Bible, early Jewish literature and interpretation of the New Testament gospels.

Different expectations for the 'Messiah' figure are raised in the Hebrew Bible (or Christian Old Testament), specifically in 2 Samuel, Psalm 2 and Isaiah 10-11. In 2 Samuel 7:8-16, God makes a promise with his people known as the Davidic Covenant; he is expected to make David's name great, appoint a place for the people of Israel, give David rest from his enemies, be a father to him and punish him for his iniquities. While David expresses a desire to build a house for the Lord, the Lord tells David in 1 Chronicles, "You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood in my sight on the earth."(1 Chronicles 22:8 NRSV). Instead, the Lord says that He will make David's house and his "throne shall be established forever" (2 Samuel 7:16 NRSV). Psalm 2 similarly "looks to the future, when the Davidic Messiah will indeed accomplish this; in fact, the scope of such an accomplishment calls for a ruler who is more than a mere man" (ESV Study Bible, 943). When comparing these texts with Isaiah 10:34-11:5, a consistent theme is found when the Lord repeatedly threatens to bring wrath upon his people with a rod. The Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Concise), on Isaiah 11, Verses 1-9, says that "[t]he Messiah is called a Rod", which is used as a continual metaphor throughout the whole bible. In 2 Samuel, the Lord says that he will punish him with the rod, whereas in Psalm 2 and Isaiah 10, it is said that the anointed one "shall strike the earth with the rod" (Isaiah 11:4 NRSV). In Psalm 146:5-8 and Isaiah 61:1-2, many characteristics of the Messiah are noted; he is described as one who gives happiness, proclaims liberty to captives, opens the eyes of the blind, rewards the humble, loves the righteous, comforts those who mourn, binds up the broken-hearted and proclaims the year of the Lord's favor and the vengeance of God.

Messianic ideas in early Judaism are revealed in the Psalms of Solomon and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The seventeenth Psalm of Solomon speaks of the Messiah, the son of David, reigning as king in Israel, being "powerful in the Holy Spirit and wise in the counsel of understanding, with strength and righteousness... the blessing of the Lord will be with him in strength, and he will not weaken. His hope will be in the Lord" (Pss. Sol. 17:37-39). In addition to the attributes given in the Hebrew Bible, the psalm lists some of the following attributes of the



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