Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Messiah (Moshiakh) A Jewish Concept

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                  

The word Messiah comes from the Hebrew word mashiach which means annointed with oil. Kings were annointed this way.   The Messiah in Jewish thought and literature was never conceived of as a Divine being.  We do not believe in Divine Beings like the Greeks and Romans did who believed in a group of gods on Mt. Olympus up in the sky somewhere, and in half-gods from the product of a union between a god or goddess and a human.  Our G-d had no shape and was unseen, but we were made in his image.

 No, the Messiah was to be a man who would bring about the political and spiritual redemption of the people Israel through the in-gathering of the Jews to their ancestral home of Eretz Yisrael and the restoration of  Jerusalem to its spiritual glory.  He would bring about an era marked by the moral perfection of all mankind and the harmonious co-existence of all people free of war, fear, hatred and intolerance.  Isaiah 2 and 11 and Micah 4 spoke about it.

We have had the ingathering of Jews who have already made aliyah to Israel.  More are coming.in.  The Lost Ten Tribes are being found and are returning.  Jerusalem is our capital of Israel and is glorious.

The rest is in a mess.  Mankind has risen in technical perfection even by walking on the moon and flying spacecraft to our planets, but their moral shape is in complete decline.  The era will deliver Jews, I know, from being the most hated people on earth today.  Even CNN commented that Jews are hated the most in the world by 57%, and even though Muslims have produced such people as IS who go about beheading and killing people who are not exactly in agreement with themselves, find they are only 2nd on the list of those in danger of being hated with 16%.

The Jewish return to the land of Israel was a deeply religious sentiment to provide us with a fuller relationship to G-d than was possible anywhere else and was our way of paving the way for the Messianic era which would bring not only us peace-but to all mankind.  One can find these religious sentiments in our daily prayers said 3 times a day in the Amidah , in our Sabbath services and during our special festival services.  There is hardly a religious ritual where Zion (Jerusalem) is not recalled, where the return to Zion and the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem is not mentioned.  But ask our president of the best country of the world, the USA, and he will not grant that Jerusalem is our capital, and would rather do business in Tel Aviv, instead.  Our grace after meals say "Thou didst give as a heritage to our fathers a desirable, good and ample land."  Our prayers must have helped in the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the Holy City, as our ancestors prayed for this to happen for 2,000 years.

Wherever we find any mention of G-d's blessings upon Israel in our religious literature or any vision of "the end of days" which speaks of the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic period for all the world, it also refers to Israel's return to the land of Israel and to its living safely and securely there.  Jews living anywhere else are thought of as living in a "state of exile."
King David b: 1000 BCE - 960 BCE, born in Bethlehem, now a
Palestinian city 10 km south of Jerusalem
 taken over by the Muslim Arabs who have pushed most of
the Christian Arabs out.  
The Jewish thought of the Messiah is the idea of history's transformation called messianism, which refers to the expectation of a righteous king, descended from King David who will restore the Jewish fortune of being able to live in peace without worry of terrorists or people shooting missiles at them or countries trying to bomb them with an atomic bomb,  and bring in an era of peace for the entire world.  He is a  human and has no reference to any Jesus, a name that was fairly common in the 1st century.

The Jesus that Christians and yes, even Muslims await-but with different reasons, appeared in Judah (southern part of Israel where the tribe of Judah lived) and was born to a Judah during centuries of ferment caused by Roman occupation.  The Jews had been "whipsawed" by the Romans and the result was 3 centuries of the most fevered messianic expectations in Jewish history.  Some Jews had repeated what the earlier Maccabees had done which caused us to have the historic holiday of Chanukah which as I write happens to be the 3rd night of this holiday.  Imagine the USA being under occupation by IS for 300 years and that anything you do off-color is met with crucifiction.  Thousands of Jews were strung up during this period.  Then again, the USA is only 239 years of age!

Christianity became the daughter of a Judaism burning with expectation of deliverence from this horror.  Some uneducated Jews became the followers of a man called Jesus "Yehoshuah" in Hebrew, Jesus in Greek.  They were not the learned rabbis who knew that the promised Messiah was to be a mere human, and had even ruled out Bar Kokhba, a general who held Jerusalem from 132-135 before being killed along with most of his men.  At least he had caused the Romans to fight the hardest fight they had ever fought.  Since Christians have literature that make Jesus a Divine Being acting divinely doing things normal humans cannot do, they believe Jesus is the   returning Messiah.  They feel he was already here in the 1st century.
In the world's final day, a false messiah, al-masih al-dajjal, will conquer the world, say the Muslims.  He will be a Jew and will lead an army of Jews from the east.  Then they say that Jesus will appear on the scene to fight against this false messiah in a battle near Jerusalem.
 Then he will kill all pigs, break all crosses, and leave Islam as the world's sole faith.  Now remember animal rightists, Jews have never had a fight with pigs.  We don't eat them.  Neither do the Muslims, because they have adapted quite a few things from Judaism, as Christians also have.  We have no plans whatsoever to have a pig holocaust.  May they all live in peace.  May all Wilbers live to see another day and not be eaten.  Smoked meat is bad for humans, anyway.  It causes cancer.  Pigs have the highest IQs of all animals and they are of course, G-d's creatures, too.

Now, the rabbis felt that Jesus was not the Messiah, at least not for the Jews, since nothing changed for them.  All the expectations did not happen.  In fact, life became much worse.  Now, not only were the Romans watching every move they made and had finally burned down Jerusalem along with the 2nd Temple, all the new Christians became angry and hated Jews for killing their G-d.  (I don't even think that Greek and Roman gods were ever killed.  They were gods in their minds.)

Little did those Jews realize that for 2,000 years, Jews would now be hit with anti-Semitism throughout the world from the Crusaders who slaughtered any Jew in their path to the Spanish Inquisition where thousands were forced to convert or face death, and so braved the new world by boarding ships and trying to sail away to better lands.  Then, wherever they went, they were accosted by people who called them Christ-killers!

Here we are, living in the future where Israel is created now, only to find a UN turned against the little state they welcomed in 1948.  67 years of being under the microscope for trying to remain alive when all the UN countries probably had laid down bets as to how long they would last and have lost their bets already.

Israel is doing it, thank G-d, and continues to exist still with all its laws intact of having a moral compass.  Only Israel seems to live under the 10 commandments and is proud to exhibit them on public land, and follow 613 commandments from Moses as well.  Jews believe in a G-d, one G-d, an unseen G-d, like the Force that Spock spoke of.   I can't say that for a lot of the people in the world today in this technical age.  We know that G-d is good.  However, our world is broken and we  continue to believe  in an era of the millennialism and that the world needs repair.

"One of the principles of Jewish faith enumerated by Maimonides is that one day there will arise a dynamic Jewish leader, a direct descendant of the Davidic dynasty, who will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, and gather Jews from all over the world and bring them back to the Land of Israel."  This remains to be done.  The 3rd Temple in Jerusalem must be built before the End of Days will appear.  Maimonides gets his information from the Tanakh.  He was a commentator of the books.  "The Scriptures are replete with messianic quotes. In Deuteronomy 30:1Moses prophesies that, after the Jews have been scattered to the four corners of the earth, there will come a time when they will repent and return to Israel, where they will fulfill all the commandments of the Torah. The gentile prophet Balaam prophesies that this return will be led by Moshiach (see Numbers 24:17–20). Jacob refers to Moshiach by the name Shiloh (Genesis 49:10).
The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Joel and Hosea all refer to the messianic era. (For full references, the reader is referred to the book Moshiach by Rabbi Dr. J. I. Schochet.) It is interesting to note that the wall of the United Nations Building in New York is inscribed with the quote from Isaiah (11:6), “And the wolf shall lie with the lamb.” Furthermore, it is clear from the prophets, when studied in their original Hebrew, that Moshiach is a Jewish concept, and his coming will entail a return to Torah law, firmly ruling out any “other” messianic belief." from Chabad.    
"Judaism fervently believes that, with the correct leadership, humankind can and will change. The leadership quality of Moshiach means that through his dynamic personality and example, coupled with manifest humility, he will inspire all people to strive for good. He will transform a seemingly utopian dream into a reality. He will be recognized as a man of G‑d, with greater leadership qualities than even Moses."

If there is any fairness to happen in this world of killing fields, there will come an era of peace where all of mankind will be enlightened.  It will happen without having to swallow the spiked kool-aid.  Our rabbis say it's very close.

Reference: Tanakh (Old Testament Isaiah and Micah
To Be a Jew by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, p. 14, 15
The End of Days, fundamentalism and the struggle for the Temple Mount by Gershom Gorenberg, p 37, 41.

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