Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Jewish Messiah: Coming From the Davidic Line

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                  

                                              RASHI, descendant of King David

Our Messiah (Mashiah in Hebrew) means the Anointed One, the ultimate deliverer.  In our Tanakh "Bible", it is an adjective referring to kings because they were anointed and have received Divine sanction. King in Hebrew is Melekh.  Queen is Malkha.   Israel does not use kings today.  High priests were also anointed.  In our times of exile and after exiled times the word came to mean anyone with a special mission from G-d like the patriarchs, prophets, the Jewish people themselves and even gentiles such as Cyrus II, the Mede.  Cyrus died in 529 BCE and was the King of Persia.  He is the one who overran the Babylonian empire, including  Israel/Judah.  He was good to his subjects and in 538 BCE, granted permission to the Jewish exiles of Judah in Babylon to return to their homeland to rebuild the Temple.  This is written about in Ezra 1:1-44; II chronicles 36:22-23.  The Jewish exiles regarded Cyrus as a Divine agent  which can be found in Isaiah 44:28; 45:1.
                                     King Solomon, son of King David  

In the beginning, Jacob's 12 sons were the heads of the family and each family became a tribe, each with a tribal chief.  They soon were replaced by leaders with more responsibility such as Judges.  Finally a king was established with the first one being Saul, son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin.  He was both a judge and a military leader with a standing military force.  He was a ruler without absolute power and dealt with prophetic criticism.  King David, who came next, had his criticism from Nathan.  King Ahab had criticism from Elijah.  The House of David ruled in Judah until the Babylonian Exile but was the authority of the exilarchs in Babylonia until the 14th century CE.

"The Hasmoneans, also known as the Maccabees were a priestly group (kohanim) from the Tribe of Levi. They established their own monarchy in Judea following their revolt and war against the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty. The Hasmoneans were not considered connected to the Davidic line nor to the Tribe of Judah. The Levites had always been excluded from the Israelite monarchy, so when the Maccabees assumed the throne in order to rededicate the defiled Second Temple, a cardinal rule was broken."

The Kings of Judah ended with Zedekiah from 597 to 586 BCE.  
After the exile there was a prophetic vision of the universal establishment of G-d's kingdom.  This was associated with the in- gathering of Israel under a representative of King David's house who would be G-d's anointed.  We are experiencing the in-gathering of Israel already.  Benjamin Netanyahu is Israel's Prime Minister of Israel and Shimon Peres is the President or Nasi.  The Hebron-resident sons of Heth addressed Abraham as "a Nasi of God you are among us." The heads of the tribes of Israel were also called Nesi'im 
During the Second Temple Era and throughout the Mishnaic and Talmudic eras, "Nasi" was the title of the head of the Sanhedrin - the man leading the high religious and judiciary authority among Jews in the Land of Israel.  

From the 2nd century BCE, the divine sanction of the Davidic house with the act of anointing was developed in the conception of the Messiah.  Different Jewish revolutionary movements of the 1st-2nd centuries CE had many people claim to be the messianic king such as Andreas, Lukuas and Bar Kokhba.  However, the Zealots rejected any kingship but that of G-d.  

During the days of Roman rule Jews needed and expected a personal Messiah and he was deemed to be a descendant of King David who would do away with alien rule and establish a golden age.  The messiah became very important of eschatological concepts and is found in many Hellenistic-Jewish pseudepigraphic literature from the 1st century CE.  People were highly emotional about a Messiah's coming shortly before 70 CE when Jerusalem fell to the Romans so things were getting very unbearable.  Many false messiahs kept appearing.  The New Testament shows the messianic ferment at this period.  

                                                             Bar Kokhbah 
Talk about a coming Messiah became very strong after the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70 CE.  World events that affected the life of Jews made waiting for the Messiah something the people yearned for.  The Book of Daniel and other biblical passages were used to predict the time he was coming.  The Jewish revolt from 115 to 117 caused the need and call for a Messiah.  Again, the last revolt against the Romans with Bar Kokhba leading it made him the expected Messiah which he was called in 131 CE, as he held out against a giant Roman army force for 3 years, that in itself a miracle.  He was killed in 135 CE by the Romans.  

By the 5th century there was a Moses that Jews thought was the expected Messiah who was a visitor in Crete.  In the 7th century, the fall of the Persian and Byzantine empires gave hope to Jews that the Messiah was due to arrive next.  In the 8th century there were 3 pseudo Messiahs who were on the scene; Abu Issa al-Isfahani was living in Persia, Severus or Serene was in Syria and Yudghan was in Hamadan.  By the 9th century Eldad Ha-Dani announced the existence of the Lost Ten Tribes who had to return first to start the Messianic era and that caused a lot of apocalyptic talk.  

Maimonides wrote a letter to the Yemen population in about 1172 where he "restated in glowing terms the messianic doctrine", and said he was sure the coming of the Messiah was near.  He insisted that the Messianic Age would be rational and unmiraculous.  We would know it happened by the ousting of foreigners holding a political yoke by a leader of the House of David. Israel became a Jewish state on May 14, 1948, and will soon have it's 66th birthday.  She isn't quite free of the yoke of others yet, so a descendant of King David is expected to show up to free Israel of the ties that still bind so that she can stand alone but strong.  

Many pseudo Messiah's kept popping up throughout history from the Crusading Period.  In 1096 people thought in Salonica that the deliverance had already begun.  In 1121 a Karaite claimed to be the Messiah in "Palestine."  In 1147 David Alroy showed up in Mesopotamia.    Others claiming to be the Messiah were found in Yemen, Fez, Persia, Spain and France in the 11th and 12th centuries.  Abraham Abulafia was in Sicily  in the 13th century and was followed in Spain by his disciples, Samuel and Abraham.  A messiah was expected at Avila.  The Spanish persecution of Jews in 1391 produced Moses Botarel as the Messiah.  

The Spanish Inquisition of 1492 became a time of expulsion of Jews and was followed by many Messiahs; Asher Lammlein in 1503, Solomon Molcho in about 1500 to 1532 and others.  

The most well known false Messiah as Shabbetai Tzevi in 1626-1676 of Smyrna who gained wide following and caused an offshoot of whose sect, the Donmeh still survives.  He failed to prove he was the Messiah at a time that there started a universal trend toward being rational which created a reaction against messianic speculation, but didn't stop Messiahs to keep showing up. There was in the 18th century:
1. Jacob Frank: 1726-1791
2. Hayyim Malakh
3. Mordecai Mokhiah
4. Judah Hasid
5. Lobele Prossnitz 

Finally, there was a false Messiah in the 19th century in the person of a Yemenite.  Jew.  

Deuteronomy 17:14-19 was the influence of the Puritan revolutionary movement of the  17th century when in 1620 the Puritans sailed for America.  The position, rights, and limitations of the king are specified in the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 2:2-5 and in a special section of Maimonides' Mishnah Torah..  The Book of Kings or Sepher Melakhim is the last of the 4 books in the former Prophets section of the Tanakh (Bible).  It talks about the history of the Jewish kings.  

There are very old family trees tracing the descendants of the House of King David.  RASHI, the famous biblical commentator was supposed to be one.  He was born in 1040 in Troyes, France and died in  there in 1105.  Worms, Germany was a center of Jewish learning and many rabbis resided there, so we have descendants of Rashi coming from this city.  

The  New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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