Does Jesus Meet the Messianic Requirements? A Look at a Rabbi’s Messianic Expectations: Part Three

This is Part three of our series on Does Jesus Meet the Messianic Requirements?  To See Part One, click here.To see Part Two, click here. If we look here at the article, it says:

The Character and Qualities of Mashiach:

The spirit of G-d will rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and might, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of G-d. He shall be inspired with fear of G-d, and he shall not judge with the sight of his eyes nor decide according to the hearing of his ears. He shall judge the poor with righteousness and decide with equity for the humble of the earth; he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth and slay the wicked with the breath of his lips. Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faith the girdle of his reins.” (Isaiah 11:2-5)

Response: It isn’t a huge challenge to relate this messianic expectation with the ministry of Jesus. For example:

Acts 10:38
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”

Matthew 7:28-29
” And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

A similar theme is seen in the synagogue at Nazareth, when Jesus reads from Isaiah 61: “the Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” ( Luke 4:18-19 ). So according to Jesus, the prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus’ own ministry ( 4:21 ) since He has come to free the physically infirm, such as the blind ( 4:18 ) and the leprous ( 4:27 ; cf. 7:21 ; 9:6 ).

The article says: 

Through his knowledge My servant shall justify the righteous to the many…” (Isaiah 53:11)

Behold, My servant shall be wise, he shall be exalted and lofty, and shall be very high.” (Isaiah 52:13). His wisdom shall exceed even that of King Solomon;15 he shall be greater than the patriarchs, greater than all the prophets after Moses, and in many respects even more exalted than Moses.16 His stature and honor shall exceed that of all kings before him.17 He will be an extraordinary prophet, second only to Moses,18 with all the spiritual and mental qualities that are prerequisites to be endowed with the gift of prophecy.

Response: This is very interesting.  Schochet says the following about one of the expectations of the Messiah. He says: “His wisdom shall exceed even that of King Solomon; he shall be greater than all the patriarchs, greater than all the prophets after Moses, and in may respects even more exalted than Moses. His stature and honor shall exceed that of all the kings before him. He will be an extraordinary prophet, second only to Moses, with all the spiritual and mental qualities that are prerequisites to be endowed with the gift of prophecy.” Jesus spoke about this messianic qualification 2,000 years ago. As it says in Matt. 12:42; Lk. 11:31: “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.”

As Oskar Skarsaune says:

 Jesus appears in roles and functions that burst all previously known categories in Judaism. He was a prophet, but more than a prophet. He was a teacher but taught with a power and authority completely unknown to the rabbis. He could set his authority alongside of, yes, even “over” God’s authority in the Law. He could utter words with creative power. In a Jewish environment zealous for the law, only one category was “large enough” to contain the description of Jesus: the category of Wisdom. ” — Skarsaune, O. Incarnation: Myth or Fact? St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House: 1991, 37. 

Also, Rabbi Schochet departs from the common Jewish apologetic that Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is about Israel. He ended up criticizing historian of Jewish-Christian polemics David Berger. Schochet’s words are most fascinating. He wrote of David Berger in the following piece here: 

“Dr. Berger relies heavily on arguments in mediaeval polemics. It is of major concern to him that “one of the defining characteristics of Judaism in a Christian world will have been erased” by the possibility of a resurrected messiah (p. 31, and see also p. 35). In truth, of course, the Jewish faith is defined by its own tradition and not by its differences from Christianity. Polemical debates, regardless of its participants, are neither definitive nor authoritative. The Talmudic rabbis engaged in such debates as well. Oftentimes they conceded that they rebuffed their opponents with “straw” or “broken reeds,” i.e., that their responses were no more than polemical tactics and not their true positions.

A typical example would be the Jewish responses about “the suffering servant” of Isaiah 53. The polemicists follow the majority opinion of mediaeval Jewish exegetes that it speaks of the Jewish people, as opposed to the Christian claim that it speaks of the messiah. This view is found also among some Talmudic rabbis. It does not negate, however,”

Note he says: A typical example would be the Jewish responses about “the suffering servant” of Isaiah 53. The polemicists follow the majority opinion of mediaeval Jewish exegetes that it speaks of the Jewish people, as opposed to the Christian claim that it speaks of the messiah. This view is found also among some Talmudic rabbis. It does not negate, however, the validity of the pervasive Talmudic-Midrashic-Zoharic interpretation that the subject of that chapter is indeed Mashiach.” 

Basically, Rabbi Schochet notes that the Talmud, Midrash and Zohar speaks of Isa. 52:13- Isa. 53: 12 as being about a personal Messiah. For example:

The Shottenstein Talmud, a comprehensive Orthodox Jewish commentary states the following about Isaiah 53:

They [namely, those sitting with Messiah] were afflicted with tzaraas- as disease whose symptoms include discolored patches on the skin (see Leviticus ch. 13). The Messiah himself is likewise afflicted, as stated in Isaiah (53:4). Indeed, it was our diseases that he bore and our pains that he endured, whereas we considered him plagued (i.e. suffering tzaraas [see 98b, note 39], smitten by God and afflicted. This verse teaches that the diseases that the people ought to have suffered because of their sins are borne instead by the Messiah [with reference to the leading Rabbinic commentaries]. –Michael Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Vol 2. (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books. 2000),157. 

In the Zohar, which is the foundational book of Jewish mysticism, we see a text about the relationship between Isaiah 53 and atonement:

The children of the world are members of one another, and when the Holy One desires to give healing to the world, He smites one just man amongst them, and for his sakes heals the rest of the rest. Whence do we learn this? For the saying, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities’ [Isa. 53:5].i.e., by letting of his blood- as when a man bleeds his arm- there was healing for us-for all the members of the body. In general a just person is only smitten in order to procure healing and atonement for a whole generation.” –Driver and Neubauer, Zohar, Numbers, Pinchus 2181 (English Translation), 15 

Pesikta Rabbati,  a medieval Midrash on the festivals of the year says:

Messiah of Justice [Meshiah Tsidenu], though we are Thy forebears. Thou are greater than we because Thou didst bear the burden of our children’s sins and our great opresssions have fallen upon Thee….Among the peoples of the world Thou didst bring only derision and mockery to Israel…Thy skin did shrink, and thy body did become dry as wood; Thine eyes were hollowed by fasting, and thy strength became like fragmented pottery –all that came to pass because of the sins of the children-Pesiqta Rabbati, Pisqa 37 –Jacques Doukham, One The Way to Emmaus: Five Major Messianic Prophecies Explained (Clarksville, MD: Lederer Books, 2012), 136-137. 

Genesis Rabbati is a  Midrash on the Book of Genesis usually ascribed to *Moses ha-Darshan of Narbonne (first half of 11th century) which  says: 

The Messiah King …will offer is heart to implore mercy and longsuffering for Israel, weeping and suffering for Israel, weeping and suffering as it is written in Isaiah 53:5 “He was wounded for our transgressions,” etc: when the Israelites sin, he invokes upon them mercy,as it is written: “Upon him was that chastisement that made us whole, and likewise the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” And this is what the Holy One—let him be blessed forever!—decreed in order to save Israel and rejoice with Israel on the day of the resurrection. (Bereshit Rabbati on Genesis 24:67) –Jacques Doukham, One The Way to Emmaus: Five Major Messianic Prophecies Explained (Clarksville, MD: Lederer Books, 2012), 136-137. 

To see our full article on the topic, click here.
We will wrap up this series with Part Four this weekend.

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