How the rabbinical "Two Messiahs" concept points to a Messiah who is killed and resurrects

rakovsky

Member
Since at least the 5th century AD, one common view in Rabbinical Judaism was that there would be two Messiahs- a "Messiah son of Joseph" from Ephraim and "Messiah son of David" from Judah. According to this view, the "Messiah ben Joseph" would gather Israel's children, overcome hostile powers, reestablish the Temple, and die in a defensive battle. Within seven years, the "Messiah ben David" would come, finish the battle, and resurrect everyone, including "Messiah ben Joseph." (See: Sukkah 52a, Sanhedrin 97a, Sefer Zerubabal OH page 160, Midrash Shir Hashirim 2.14, Pesikta Zetrusa parshas Balak, Otzar HaMidrashim OH pages 390-395, Derech Eretz Zuta 10, Emunah VaDeos book 8, Hai GOan OH page 387.)

The idea of a Messiah ben David from the tribe of Judah and a separate Messiah ben Joseph from the tribe of Ephraim is based on Ezekiel 37(JPS), where God tells Ezekiel:
16. And you, O mortal, take a stick and write on it, “Of Judah and the Israelites associated with him”; and take another stick and write on it, “Of Joseph—the stick of Ephraim—and all the House of Israel associated with him.”
17. Bring them close to each other, so that they become one stick, joined together in your hand.
18. And when any of your people ask you, “Won’t you tell us what these actions of yours mean?”
19. answer them, “Thus said the Lord God: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in the hand of Ephraim—and of the tribes of Israel associated with him, and I will place the stick of Judah upon it and make them into one stick; they shall be joined in My hand.”

But if one "stick" refers to one person, and the stick of Judah is Judah's Messianic leader and the stick of Joseph is Ephraim's Messianic leader, how can God make them one stick?(Ezek.17:17) It must mean that God will make Judah's Messiah and Ephraim's Messiah to be one person. Judah's Messiah and Ephraim's Messiah could be "one stick" if He was descended from both of them. He could also be the physical descendant of Judah and the spiritual descendant of Ephraim's father Joseph.

Genesis 37-50 records that Jacob had 12 sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel. Judah's descendants became the leading tribe. The tribe of Ephraim was descended from Jacob's son Joseph, who was put in a pit, sold into slavery, and freed by Pharoah. Just as "David" was a poetic image for the Messianic "Son of David," the Rabbis might have considered that the "Messiah ben Joseph" would resemble his forefather Joseph. In Hebrew, "the pit" also means "the grave", so perhaps the rabbis chose to describe the "Messiah ben Joseph" as one who died and resurrected because his forefather did both in a poetic sense.

Adherents of the "two Messiahs" view also point to Obadiah 1:18-19,21(JPT):
18. And the house of Jacob shall be fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau shall become stubble, and they shall ignite them and consume them, and the house of Esau shall have no survivors, for the Lord has spoken.
19. And [the inhabitants of] the southland shall inherit the mountain of Esau, and [the inhabitants of] the plain, the Philistines, and they shall inherit the field of Ephraim and the field of Samaria, and Benjamin [with the inhabitants of] Gilead…
21. And saviors shall ascend Mt. Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the Lord shall have the kingdom.
However, the House of Jacob was the 12 twelve tribes, and Obadiah speaks of the Houses of Jacob and Joseph, not the Houses of Judah and Joseph like Ezekiel did. Further, the Hebrew word "saviors" also means "victors," and Obadiah 1:17-21 describes military victories over the surrounding small tribes of Esau, Gilead, the Philistines, Samaria, and the South, rather than a Messianic Age victory over strong nearby nations like Egypt.

The "Two Messiahs" viewpoint could trace to a traditional interpretation in Ezekiel's time. But the Talmud takes the "two-Messiahs" tradition from Rabbi Dosa, who lived at least 700 years after Ezekiel, and rabbinical Judaism has several conflicting traditions of the Messiah's identity. (eg. Targum Jonathan considers the Servant of Isaiah 53 to be both the Conquering Messiah and suffering hostile nations.)

The idea of a suffering "Messiah ben Joseph" could be the confused echo of an original, simpler interpretation that Zechariah 12 and Psalm 22 prophesy the piercing of a Davidic Messiah, who escaped from a pit in Psalm 40:1-4 like Joseph did. Since the Scriptures nowhere explicitly mention a "Messiah ben Joseph," the "two Messiahs" view seems to be an attempt to deal with two personalities ascribed to the Messiah: a suffering pierced resurrected Servant and a "commander of nations" who is victorious in conquest and gathers Israel.

However, since Psalm 22 describes someone who is killed and resurrects, it seems that at least in terms of scriptural interpretation, such a description of a person isn't impossible. That is, from the scriptures’ point of view, someone’s death and apparent defeat doesn’t exclude the possibility of the person’s return and victory. Indeed, Ezekiel 37 seems to say that God would combine Joseph’s and David’s two personalities or lineages into one person.

Ervin Patai, who received his doctorate from Hebrew University, where he also taught, took the view that the concept of two Messiahs was created after the concept of the Messiah's death became established in Talmudic times (eg. c. 200 AD or later). Patai wrote:
When the death of the Messiah became an established tenet in Talmudic times, this was felt to be irreconcilable with the belief in the Messiah as Redeemer who would usher in the blissful millennium of the Messianic Age. The dilemma was solved by splitting the person of the Messiah in two: one of them, called Messiah ben Joseph, was to raise the armies of Israel against their enemies, and, after many victories and miracles, would fall victim Gog and Magog. The other, Messiah ben David, will come after him (in some legends will bring him back to life, which psychologically hints at the identity of the two), and will lead Israel to the ultimate victory, the triumph, and the Messianic era of bliss.

Patai, Raphael, The Messiah Texts, Avon Books, 1979
 

rakovsky

Member
I've mentioned this teaching in discussions with orthodox jews and they don't react well.
Daniel Boyarin is a nonChristian Orthodox Jewish scholar who takes the view that the TaNaKh predicts the Messiah's killing and resurrection.



There have been Orthodox Jewish leaders over the years who accepted Jesus. Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri in the modern Israeli State was apparently one of them.

Especially since the time of Rashi who took the view that the Servant is specifically Israel in Isaiah 53, Rashi's idea has become the most common view among rabbis on Isaiah 53. What apparently has happened is that views of rabbis have over the centuries been affected by debates with the Christian community/religion. So if ancient Jews may have seen the Messiah as having some divine aspect, this idea would became less common certainly as a result of the interfaith interactions, which is understandable. You can't make the assumption that a community's beliefs stay the same over 2000 years especially compared with a time from which we don't have tons of commentaries on specific topics.

With alot of these prophecy ideas and views, you have the issue of ambiguity in prophecy and writings. So for instance in the writings about the Two Messiahs idea, we don't have the rabbis openly saying that the Bible teaches a Messiah who gets killed and resurrects and that they want to break this idea into a Two Messiahss concept. Rather, this is what looks like actually happened in terms of the process of the rabbis' interpretations as Prof. Patai explains. So it is not easily proven to someone who has a strong aversion to this idea of the process.

When it comes to such ambiguous areas, it can be hard to convince someone who has a strong aversion. To give an example, I talked with a Jewish Skeptic who believed that the Davidic Messiah concept itself was not Biblical, even though Maimonides taught the Messiah concept. And it turned out that I was hard pressed to point to a Bible passage in Tanakh that clearly and openly taught the Messiah concept. I pointed to the prophecy about Hezekiah, where it says that a child is born and shall be called Wonderful Counselor, etc. And the Skeptic responded to me that this passage is talking in Hebrew in the past tense. The passage does not say that a child (eg. the Messiah) "will be born" and be given these impressive titles as if we must take this child to be the Messiah. At that point I gave up arguing with her because she argued tooth and nail on the translations of multiple Hebrew words and the passage's interpretations to the point where I would need something pretty open and literal and explicitly precise if I was going to get her to accept this concept. I don't know if you can think of some obviously and explicitly and inarguably Messianic prophecy, but that is where I got stuck.
 

Septextura

Active member
@rakovsky

TBH it's difficult to get them talking about the OT at all. All they read is the Talmud and they are obsessed with Kabbalah nonsense. I ask why God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, a seemingly pointless test of faith since God already knows our hearts. And I get answer about "cosmic principles bla bla", so disappointing. Most Christians think Jews are OT sages, it couldn't be further from the truth. They are truly blinded by God. And they get frustrated quickly when probed with scriptural questions.

They also entertained the idea of binitarian YHWH (see Alan Segal and Daniel Boyarin), but refuse to discuss it today in apologetics.
 

rakovsky

Member
Jews frequently know Hebrew, so that it usually gives them a closer sense of the OT verses, IMO. But it's not always the case because Hebrew today is different than in 1500-100 BC. For instance, there are words like Nehiloth that show up only once or twice in scripture and you have to figure out what it means based on context and its use outside the Bible. Nehiloth shows up in Psalm 5's title and likely refers to wind instruments, BTW.
 
Since at least the 5th century AD, one common view in Rabbinical Judaism was that there would be two Messiahs- a "Messiah son of Joseph" from Ephraim and "Messiah son of David" from Judah. According to this view, the "Messiah ben Joseph" would gather Israel's children, overcome hostile powers, reestablish the Temple, and die in a defensive battle. Within seven years, the "Messiah ben David" would come, finish the battle, and resurrect everyone, including "Messiah ben Joseph." (See: Sukkah 52a, Sanhedrin 97a, Sefer Zerubabal OH page 160, Midrash Shir Hashirim 2.14, Pesikta Zetrusa parshas Balak, Otzar HaMidrashim OH pages 390-395, Derech Eretz Zuta 10, Emunah VaDeos book 8, Hai GOan OH page 387.)

The idea of a Messiah ben David from the tribe of Judah and a separate Messiah ben Joseph from the tribe of Ephraim is based on Ezekiel 37(JPS), where God tells Ezekiel:
16. And you, O mortal, take a stick and write on it, “Of Judah and the Israelites associated with him”; and take another stick and write on it, “Of Joseph—the stick of Ephraim—and all the House of Israel associated with him.”
17. Bring them close to each other, so that they become one stick, joined together in your hand.
18. And when any of your people ask you, “Won’t you tell us what these actions of yours mean?”
19. answer them, “Thus said the Lord God: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in the hand of Ephraim—and of the tribes of Israel associated with him, and I will place the stick of Judah upon it and make them into one stick; they shall be joined in My hand.”

But if one "stick" refers to one person, and the stick of Judah is Judah's Messianic leader and the stick of Joseph is Ephraim's Messianic leader, how can God make them one stick?(Ezek.17:17) It must mean that God will make Judah's Messiah and Ephraim's Messiah to be one person. Judah's Messiah and Ephraim's Messiah could be "one stick" if He was descended from both of them. He could also be the physical descendant of Judah and the spiritual descendant of Ephraim's father Joseph.

Genesis 37-50 records that Jacob had 12 sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel. Judah's descendants became the leading tribe. The tribe of Ephraim was descended from Jacob's son Joseph, who was put in a pit, sold into slavery, and freed by Pharoah. Just as "David" was a poetic image for the Messianic "Son of David," the Rabbis might have considered that the "Messiah ben Joseph" would resemble his forefather Joseph. In Hebrew, "the pit" also means "the grave", so perhaps the rabbis chose to describe the "Messiah ben Joseph" as one who died and resurrected because his forefather did both in a poetic sense.

Adherents of the "two Messiahs" view also point to Obadiah 1:18-19,21(JPT):
18. And the house of Jacob shall be fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau shall become stubble, and they shall ignite them and consume them, and the house of Esau shall have no survivors, for the Lord has spoken.
19. And [the inhabitants of] the southland shall inherit the mountain of Esau, and [the inhabitants of] the plain, the Philistines, and they shall inherit the field of Ephraim and the field of Samaria, and Benjamin [with the inhabitants of] Gilead…
21. And saviors shall ascend Mt. Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the Lord shall have the kingdom.
However, the House of Jacob was the 12 twelve tribes, and Obadiah speaks of the Houses of Jacob and Joseph, not the Houses of Judah and Joseph like Ezekiel did. Further, the Hebrew word "saviors" also means "victors," and Obadiah 1:17-21 describes military victories over the surrounding small tribes of Esau, Gilead, the Philistines, Samaria, and the South, rather than a Messianic Age victory over strong nearby nations like Egypt.

The "Two Messiahs" viewpoint could trace to a traditional interpretation in Ezekiel's time. But the Talmud takes the "two-Messiahs" tradition from Rabbi Dosa, who lived at least 700 years after Ezekiel, and rabbinical Judaism has several conflicting traditions of the Messiah's identity. (eg. Targum Jonathan considers the Servant of Isaiah 53 to be both the Conquering Messiah and suffering hostile nations.)

The idea of a suffering "Messiah ben Joseph" could be the confused echo of an original, simpler interpretation that Zechariah 12 and Psalm 22 prophesy the piercing of a Davidic Messiah, who escaped from a pit in Psalm 40:1-4 like Joseph did. Since the Scriptures nowhere explicitly mention a "Messiah ben Joseph," the "two Messiahs" view seems to be an attempt to deal with two personalities ascribed to the Messiah: a suffering pierced resurrected Servant and a "commander of nations" who is victorious in conquest and gathers Israel.

However, since Psalm 22 describes someone who is killed and resurrects, it seems that at least in terms of scriptural interpretation, such a description of a person isn't impossible. That is, from the scriptures’ point of view, someone’s death and apparent defeat doesn’t exclude the possibility of the person’s return and victory. Indeed, Ezekiel 37 seems to say that God would combine Joseph’s and David’s two personalities or lineages into one person.

Ervin Patai, who received his doctorate from Hebrew University, where he also taught, took the view that the concept of two Messiahs was created after the concept of the Messiah's death became established in Talmudic times (eg. c. 200 AD or later). Patai wrote:
the two messiahs view was never "common," and ultimately was rejected by the Jewish sages.
 
@rakovsky

TBH it's difficult to get them talking about the OT at all. All they read is the Talmud and they are obsessed with Kabbalah nonsense. I ask why God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, a seemingly pointless test of faith since God already knows our hearts. And I get answer about "cosmic principles bla bla", so disappointing. Most Christians think Jews are OT sages, it couldn't be further from the truth. They are truly blinded by God. And they get frustrated quickly when probed with scriptural questions.

They also entertained the idea of binitarian YHWH (see Alan Segal and Daniel Boyarin), but refuse to discuss it today in apologetics.
It's obvious that you really don't spend time talking with religious jews, as your charicature is ridiculous.
 
There have been Orthodox Jewish leaders over the years who accepted Jesus.
I have yet to be made aware of a single genuine case of an Orthodox Jewish conversion to Chrisitanity, although there have been several frauds I've come across in my years on the internet. Jewish converts to Christianity are those who are uneducated in Judaism, who really don't have a strong Jewish identity.
 

Harel13

Member
Daniel Boyarin is a nonChristian Orthodox Jewish scholar who takes the view that the TaNaKh predicts the Messiah's killing and resurrection.
Daniel Boyarin is Conservative, so I doubt many Orthodox Jews would care about his theological views either way. Boyarin is also on record comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, and suggesting that Israel is killing Judaism, so there's that, too.
Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri in the modern Israeli State was apparently one of them.
After Rabbi Kaduri passed away, a note in his handwriting was found, reading:

,בענין הר"ת של משיח
.ירים העם ויוכיח שדברי ותורתו עומדים
באתי על החתום בחודש הרחמים התשס"ה, יצחק כדורי​

The second line's words form an acrostic, the name יהושוע, which, however way you look at it, is not Jesus's name, which is ישוע. Two letter difference.
 

Harel13

Member
TBH it's difficult to get them talking about the OT at all. All they read is the Talmud and they are obsessed with Kabbalah nonsense. I ask why God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, a seemingly pointless test of faith since God already knows our hearts. And I get answer about "cosmic principles bla bla", so disappointing. Most Christians think Jews are OT sages, it couldn't be further from the truth. They are truly blinded by God. And they get frustrated quickly when probed with scriptural questions.
What sort of Jews have you been talking to?
Seriously, the average Orthodox Jew (I assume you refer to Orthodox, as those are the ones that take the Talmud most seriously) isn't "obsessed with Kabbalah". From the sound of things, they got frustrated because whatever answer they gave you, you just replied with "bla bla" and called their beliefs "nonsense". How would you like if someone did that to you?
 

Septextura

Active member
@Open Heart @Harel13

The ones I've met online (mostly reddit, discord, YouTube). I'm sure some day I'll meet the 'true Scotsman' ortho Jew that sticks to the Tanakh alone and doesn't think pictures and diagrams coming from human fantasy are magical.

I don't care for the Talmud in the same sense I don't care about church fathers and Bible commentaries. They are people's flawed opinions, often conflicting with each other, full of heresies. I have a sefaria.org account that I checked for a year or so for rabbi commentaries, but I can't say I benefited anything from reading them.

Why "bla bla bla"? Because I find neoplatonism and gnosticism sickening.
 

Harel13

Member
@Open Heart @Harel13

The ones I've met online (mostly reddit, discord, YouTube). I'm sure some day I'll meet the 'true Scotsman' ortho Jew that sticks to the Tanakh alone and doesn't think pictures and diagrams coming from human fantasy are magical.

I don't care for the Talmud in the same sense I don't care about church fathers and Bible commentaries. They are people's flawed opinions, often conflicting with each other, full of heresies. I have a sefaria.org account that I checked for a year or so for rabbi commentaries, but I can't say I benefited anything from reading them.

Why "bla bla bla"? Because I find neoplatonism and gnosticism sickening.
Well, with that attitude, it's no surprise they grew impatient with you.
 

Septextura

Active member
@Harel13

Gentile

Under rabbinical law, a modern-day gentile is required only to observe the Seven Laws of Noah, while Jews are bound by Mosaic law. In periods of decreased animosity between Jews and gentiles, some of the rabbinical laws against fellowship and fraternization were relaxed; for example Maimonides himself was a physician to the Sultan. Even though most rabbinical schools do not teach the same hostility as Middle Age rabbinical teachings, some Orthodox rabbinical schools hold extreme conservative views. For example, scholars from the Zionist HaRav Kook yeshiva are schooled in the doctrine that Jews and gentiles have different kinds of souls. One of the yeshiva's scholars, David Bar-Hayim, published a paper in 1989 explaining the doctrine, entitled "Yisrael Nikraim Adam" (Jews Are Called 'Men'). In his conclusion, Bar-Chayim writes:

There is no escaping the facts: the Torah of Israel makes a clear distinction between a Jew, who is defined as "Man," and a Gentile. This distinction is expressed in a long list of Halachic laws, be they monetary laws, the laws of the Temple, capital laws or others. Even one who is not an erudite Torah scholar is obligated to recognize this simple fact; it cannot be erased or obscured ... One who carefully studies the sources cited previously will realize the abysmal difference between the concepts "Jew" and "Gentile" -- and consequently, he will understand why Halacha differentiates between them.

Source: Wikipedia
 

Harel13

Member
@Harel13

Gentile

Under rabbinical law, a modern-day gentile is required only to observe the Seven Laws of Noah, while Jews are bound by Mosaic law. In periods of decreased animosity between Jews and gentiles, some of the rabbinical laws against fellowship and fraternization were relaxed; for example Maimonides himself was a physician to the Sultan. Even though most rabbinical schools do not teach the same hostility as Middle Age rabbinical teachings, some Orthodox rabbinical schools hold extreme conservative views. For example, scholars from the Zionist HaRav Kook yeshiva are schooled in the doctrine that Jews and gentiles have different kinds of souls. One of the yeshiva's scholars, David Bar-Hayim, published a paper in 1989 explaining the doctrine, entitled "Yisrael Nikraim Adam" (Jews Are Called 'Men'). In his conclusion, Bar-Chayim writes:



Source: Wikipedia
Oh, are you calling Reb Doooovid a liar?
To quote a great many people, "yawn".

I recommend doing some reading, ya know, to try to understand some basic Jewish ideas. Here's a good place to start:
http://talmud.faithweb.com/articles/man.html
 

rakovsky

Member
the two messiahs view... ultimately was rejected by the Jewish sages.
Can you give more information on this?
How much rejection in Judaism is there of the concept?
Wikipedia talks about Rabbi Abraham Kook using this concept:
Rav Kook gave a eulogy for Theodor Herzl who died at only forty-four. Rav Kook not wanting to pay direct tribute to a secular Jew for Halakha reasons. Instead deviated from a traditional Jewish eulogy and used various Jewish texts in his address while never giving direct tribute to Herzl. He wrote that Zionism could be symbolized as the “footstep of Messiah son of Joseph.” He compared and contrasted secular Zionist to religiously observant Jews. Comparing the two as being of the “tree of Joseph” and “tree of Judah” respectively. He wished for the unification of the two trees and finally “This is the benefit to be gained by remorse over one whom we might consider the “footstep of Messiah son of Joseph”, in view of his influence in revitalizing the nation materially and generally. This power should not be abandoned despite the wantonness and hatred of Torah that results in the expulsion of God-fearing Jews from the movement.”
The Two Messiahs Concept shows up repeatedly in the Talmud and Targums. So if as you said the Sages later rejected it, it would be an important concept in the Tradition that was later rejected.
 

rakovsky

Member
I have yet to be made aware of a single genuine case of an Orthodox Jewish conversion to Chrisitanity, although there have been several frauds I've come across in my years on the internet. Jewish converts to Christianity are those who are uneducated in Judaism, who really don't have a strong Jewish identity.
I don't think that one can generalize like that, because for instance cases of conversion to Messianic Judaism from Judaism. Certainly a person would choose Messianic Judaism because Jewishness or Judaism is important to them.
 
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