Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Just Who Or What Is the "Messiah"?
I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he should tarry, nevertheless I shall wait for his coming every day (Maimonides, Thirteen Principles of the Faith).
Dr. James D. Tabor
The Christian world is utterly confused about the doctrine of the Messiah. Millions use the word "Christ" as if it were the last name of Jesus of Nazareth. The original dynamic Hebrew understanding of the idea of the Messiah, or "Christ," has been almost totally obscured and forgotten. The English word "Christ" is a title, a descriptive designation, not a name. It is based on the Greek word Christos, which is a translation of the original Hebrew term "Messiah" (mashiach), which simply means an "anointed one," or one who is specially selected by God. Therefore, to speak of "Jesus Christ" is actually to claim that Jesus is the one whom God has anointed or chosen for an exalted mission. 
Likewise, the very word "Christian" means "Messianist," or one who is a member of a Messianic movement. Indeed, early Christianity was just that, a Messianic movement within Judaism.  What then was the vital mission of the Messiah -- for what was he chosen, according to all the Prophets? Not one in a thousand of those who wear the name Christian (i.e., Messianist), remotely understand just what that mission involved. Christianity largely lost the very center and core of its foundation -- the Messianic idea of the Kingdom of God.
Millions of Christians are likewise confused about the relationship between God and Christ (the Messiah). The first great Christian heresy was to declare that the Messiah was, in fact, God Himself. No one who understands the Hebrew Scriptures could ever remotely think such a thing. This confusion between the One GOD of Israel and His Messiah, that is, the one YHVH [YEHOVAH] has chosen or anointed, has led to endless confusion about the role of the Messiah in the coming Kingdom of God. We hear so much today about the "Second Coming of Christ." We should more properly emphasize a different "Second Coming," not that of the Messiah, but the Second Coming of YHVH GOD Himself. This is the major doctrine of eschatology in the Scriptures, and yet one seldom, if ever, hears it in the Christian churches. 
The problem is that Christianity has lost its Hebraic roots. The idea of Messiah is a thoroughly Hebrew or Jewish concept. The place to begin is with the inspired Hebrew Scriptures, that is, the Torah, Prophets, and Writings of the Tanakh (which Christians call the Old Testament). In these writings the original, fundamental doctrine of the Messiah emerges clearly, without the slightest ambiguity. Indeed, this allimportant doctrine of the Messiah is one of the pillars of Biblical Faith. Before one tries to understand the development of ideas on the Messiah one finds in the New Testament writings, it is essential to first have a thorough grounding in what the Hebrew Scriptures actually say.
In this article I want to clearly set forth the doctrine of the Messiah from the Hebrew Scriptures, while at the same time highlighting what I hope will become a restored Biblical emphasis -- the true doctrine of the "Second Coming," which involves the literal return of YHVH Himself to this planet and the subsequent rule of His Kingdom.
The Origin of the Messiah Idea
To grasp the basic Biblical doctrine of the Messiah we have to go back to the origins of the very idea. The term means "anointed one," and comes from the Hebrew verb mashah, which means "to smear with oil." It is first mentioned in the Torah. There Moses is commanded: "And you shall make of these [spices] a holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil" (Exodus 30:25). This holy oil had a number of functions. It was smeared upon the furniture of the Tabernacle, including the Ark of the Testimony, in order to consecrate and separate these items for their sacred use (Exodus 30:26). It was also used by Moses to consecrate Aaron and his sons as perpetual priests of Israel. Note the following verses:
"Then you shall take the anointing oil, and pour it on his [Aaron's] head and anoint him" (Exodus 29:7).
"...and you shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve Me as priests" (Exodus 28:41).
"...and you shall anoint them even as you have anointed their father, that they may minister as priests to Me; and their anointing shall qualify them for a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations" (Exodus 40:15).
We see here that the priests of Israel, beginning with Aaron, are properly understood to be "messiahs" or "anointed ones." David refers to this ceremony in one of his Psalms, comparing the sweetness of brotherhood to "the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes" (Psalm 132:2).
We see here that the anointing ceremony conveyed a most positive image in ancient Israel, with the precious perfumed oil, running down the hair, beard, and clothing, signifying the spirit or Presence of YHVH God Himself.
Later this holy anointing oil was used to consecrate and set apart those God had chosen as kings of Israel. The ceremony was carried out by a prophet, a priest, or perhaps by both (see 1 Kings 1:34-39). For example, when Samuel the Prophet anoints Saul, and later David, as King of Israel, we read:
"Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his [Saul's] head, kissed him and said, 'Has not YHVH anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?'" (1 Samuel 10:1).
"Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the spirit of the YHVH came mightily upon David from that day forward" (I Samuel 16:13; cf. Psalm 89:20).
David regularly and respectfully refers to King Saul as "YHVH's anointed," which might just as well be translated as "YHVH's messiah," while God refers to David as his "messiah" or anointed one (see 1 Samuel 24:6; Psalm 2:2).
It is also probable that in certain cases a similar anointing ceremony was used to pass on the office or position of prophet. Elijah is told at the end of his work:
"Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place" (1 Kings 19:16).
Even the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are called "messiahs" because of their chosen prophetic roles (Genesis 20:7). Notice Psalm 105:13-15:
"When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people, He permitted no one to do them wrong; yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, saying 'Do not touch my anointed ones ("messiahs"), and do my prophets no harm.'"
YHVH even calls the Gentile King Cyrus of Persia "His messiah":
"Thus says YHVH to Cyrus, His anointed" (Hebrew mashiach or "messiah," Isaiah 45:1).
It is obvious from these verses that to be anointed of YHVH (whether it involved an actual ceremony with the holy oil or not) is to be appointed and chosen for a special role, office, or mission. These anointed ones, or "messiahs," are empowered by God Himself to carry out special and particular functions within His divine historical Plan. So, we can clearly see that according to the normal Hebrew use of the term, Abraham is a "messiah," as well as every priest, king, and prophet of Israel. In other words, there are many dozens of "messiahs" in Israelite history carrying out many diverse, but divinely appointed, tasks and missions. Clearly, the key question we must ask, in any given case, is for what is one anointed or appointed? In other words, the concept of a "messianic" person is never separated from the "messianic" mission or task such a one is to carry out.
This is one of the main errors in Christianity. Jesus was declared to be the "Christ" or "Messiah," while his messianic task and mission were largely ignored. He was given the title or name, but the root meaning of the concept was lost to the largely Gentile crowds who joined the Church in the second through the fourth centuries. The Hebrew Prophets do begin to speak of a single extraordinary figure, a descendent of David, who can properly be called "the Messiah," not just another among the many. Nonetheless, this root understanding of the general concept of the "anointed ones" throughout the Scriptures is essential background for understanding even this special Davidic figure.
The Davidic Messiah
The Biblical doctrine of the Messiah is rooted in an extraordinary series of promises made to King David. Despite his sins and failures, David remained a "man after God's own heart" and becomes the model for the future Messianic King (1 Samuel 13:14). The core of the promise to David is that his line or dynasty would endure forever. YHVH tells him:
"When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your seed after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom...I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me...and your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever" (2 Samuel 7:14).
This promise is understood to be an unconditional covenant, as sure and certain as the covenant with the people of Israel. It can never be broken, it is to endure as the sun and the moon. YHVH actually swears to this covenant by His own Holiness:
"My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. One thing I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful" (Psalm 89:34-35).
"Thus says YHVH, 'If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, then I would reject the seed of Jacob and David my servant, not taking from his seed rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob'" (Jeremiah 33:25-26).
The notions of the Messiah as exalted King, and first born son of God, are thoroughly rooted in promises and language made directly to David, and thus by extension, to his descendants. Note the language in the following Scriptures:
"He will cry to Me, 'You are my Father, My God and the rock of my salvation.' I also shall make him My first-born [son], the highest of the kings of the earth" (Psalm 89:26).
"I will surely tell of the decree of YHVH, He said to me, 'You are my son, today I have begotten you, ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as your possession'" (Psalm 2:7-8).
The ideal expression of Davidic Kingship is found in Psalms chapters 2, 45 and 72. These chapters should be studied carefully. Although they undoubtedly apply directly to David and his descendants, ultimately these texts, like a number of the Psalms, seem to reach beyond to the coming ideal Messiah of the last days.
The hope and promise of the coming Davidic Messiah, the great and exalted King of Israel of the last days, develops out of the Babylonian Exile. By all appearances, as Psalm 89 so plaintively expresses it, YHVH had broken His covenant with King David. The last kings of Judah had been taken captive and slaughtered (2 Kings 25). And yet, one by one, the Hebrew Prophets begin to speak of a restoration of the Davidic throne and the coming of an ideal King, one they call a Branch or Shoot from the "stump" of the royal line.
There are ten basic texts in the Hebrew Prophets [marked I-X below] which deal directly and specifically with this figure of the future Davidic King or Messiah. They are highly specific about what this coming King is to accomplish, that is, about his messianic task and mission. It is from these texts, and these alone, that we must derive a balanced and Biblical concept of the Messiah. I want to go through each of these texts carefully to set forth a full and direct picture of just what the Prophets say. The most complete picture comes from Isaiah:
[I] "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder. And the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, will call his name Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with justice and righteousness from that time forward, even continually" (Isaiah 9:6-7) 
[II] "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch (netzer) shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of YHVH shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of YHVH. His delight is in the fear of YHVH, and he shall not judge by the sight of his eyes, nor decide by the hearing of his ears, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his loins, and faithfulness the belt of his waist. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat. The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them...they shall not hurt nor destroy on all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of YHVH as the waters cover the sea.
"And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and his resting place shall be glorious...He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth" (Isaiah 11:1-12)
[III] "In steadfast love the throne will be established: and one will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness" (Isaiah 16:5).
A number of points should be emphasized from these basic texts. This ruler or judge is an extraordinary king of the line (seed/branch) of David. He is a faithful, dedicated, servant of YHVH, remarkable in his gifts and powers. His rule is characterized by justice, righteousness, and peace. His program is to regather the tribes of Israel to the Land, to crush the wicked, and to spread the Way of YHVH to all the nations. Through his reign humankind, as well as the creation itself, reaches a harmony and fulfillment unknown since Eden.
Jeremiah contains one clear passage on the Davidic Messiah which he repeats word for word in a later passage:
[IV] "Behold, the days are coming," says YHVH, "that I will raise to David a Branch (zemach) of righteousness; a king shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely: Now this is his name by which He will call him, `YHVH Zedeqenu' [YHVH is our righteousness]" (Jeremiah 23:5-6; repeated in 33:14-16).
Here, as with Isaiah, we have the same emphasis on the restoration of Israel to the land and the resulting justice and righteousness which will prevail. Clearly, this is the fundamental messianic mission or task. Zechariah likewise prophesies about this figure called "the Branch":
[V] "...For behold, I am bringing forth My servant the Branch (zemach). For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua: upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold I will engrave its inscription, says YHVH of Hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day, says YHVH of Hosts, everyone will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree" (Zechariah 3:8b-10).
[VI] "Behold the man whose name is the Branch (zemach): from his place he shall branch out, and he shall build the temple of YHVH; yes he shall build the temple of YHVH. He shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule on his throne; so he shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both [i.e., YHVH and the Messiah]" (Zechariah 6:12-13).
Here we can add a few additional elements to the overall portrait from Isaiah and Jeremiah. This Davidic figure will rebuild the Temple of God and will function as priest as well as king. As a descendant of the tribe of Judah, through David, obviously he cannot serve as a priest in the line of Aaron, who was of the tribe of Levi. Apparently, his priesthood will be based on another lineage, that of Melchizedek. We learn this from the extraordinary Messianic prophecy in Psalm 110.  There King David of old calls one of his descendants, the Messiah figure, his lord or master (adoni), apparently acknowledging his superiority: 
[VII] "YHVH says to my lord [master]: 'Sit at My right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool. YHVH shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies!'...YHVH has sworn and will not relent, 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.' YHVH is at your right hand; He will execute kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the nations. He shall fill the places with dead bodies, he shall execute the heads of many countries" (Psalm 110:1,4-5; compare Psalm 80:17).
Note the militant nature of the mission of the Messiah. This future "man of YHVH's right hand," though not of Aaron's line, apparently serves as a priest much like Melchizedek did in the days of Abraham (see Genesis 14). The shadowy figure of Melchizedek was understood by the followers of Yeshua the Nazarene, as well as by the Dead Sea community at Qumran, as a Messianic forerunner (see Hebrew 7 and 11QMelch). 
It is possible, based on this Psalm, that King David himself claimed some sort of priestly privilege based on this notion of the non-Aaronic priesthood of Melchizedek. He does officiate at sacrifices and go into the inner sanctum of the Tent, before the Ark of the Testimony (2 Samuel 6:17; 7:18). Regardless, the future Branch of David is anointed/messianic in this double sense -- as King and Priest. Zechariah also presents an additional image of this coming King:
[VIII] "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; the bow of war will be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River [Euphrates] to the ends of the earth" (Zechariah 9:9-10).
Here, as in Isaiah, we see the King combines the traits of humility, peace, and loving kindness with those of militant forceful and triumphant reign over his enemies.
Finally, both Amos and Micah speak of this coming Davidic King. Amos offers a simple statement of restoration:
[IX] "'On that day [when Israel is regathered to the Land, v.9] I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My Name,' says YHVH who does this thing" (Amos 9:11-12).
Micah offers details connecting the Exile and a long period of banishment with the culminating birth of this Davidic King:
[X] "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me, the one to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth [lineage] are from of old, from ancient days. Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed His flock, in the strength of YHVH, in the majesty of the name of YHVH his God; and they shall abide, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth..." (Micah 5:24).
Bethlehem Ephrathah primarily refers not to the city of David's birth, but to the clans by that name, little and insignificant among the powerful tribe of Judah (see 1 Chronicles 4:4). This King comes from the line of David, with its ancient roots, which appears to have been broken or destroyed. Notice, as in Isaiah and Jeremiah, the appearance of this Davidic King coincides with the restoration of all the Lost Tribes of Israel to the Land, and the subsequent worldwide peace.
In addition to these ten major texts there are four other passages which speak repeatedly of YHVH raising up King David himself as prince over Israel in the last days. I will quote these additional texts in full:
"'Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, says YHVH of Hosts, 'that I will break his yoke from your neck and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve YHVH their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them'" (Jeremiah 30:7-9).
"I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them -- My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, YHVH, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I YHVH have spoken" (Ezekiel 34:23-24).
"David My servant shall be king over them and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt: and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever" (Ezekiel 37:24-25).
"For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel will return and seek YHVH their God and David their king. They shall fear YHVH and His goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:4-5).
Many interpreters have understood these texts to refer in a symbolic way to a "new" David, i.e., the Branch or Davidic Messiah of the last days. On the other hand, they might well refer to King David himself, raised from the dead and placed over the nation of Israel. Indeed, that seems to be the most natural way to read them. However, one must then find a way of fitting them in with the passages which speak of a branch or descendant of David being raised up. It could be that this final Messiah, whom David calls "my lord" (Psalm 110:1), will rule the entire earth under YHVH, while David will be over the nation of Israel.
There are a few other texts which should be considered with these major ones which specifically mention the Davidic figure. Isaiah 61, speaks of an "anointed one" who will bring good news to the afflicted, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to captives and announce the Day of YHVH. Whether this passage refers to the Davidic Messiah or not is unclear. It might well connect with the forerunner of the Messiah, the Elijah figure spoken of in Malachi 4:5-6, who comes before the "great and terrible Day of YHVH."  There are also two texts in the Torah itself which have usually been understood in a messianic way:
"The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples" (Genesis 49:10).
"Behold I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of Seth" (Numbers 24:17; compare Jeremiah 48:45).
What is striking about all these texts is their remarkable consistency. The overall portrait they present is amazingly unified and complete. Taken together we have a composite core, a singular view of the coming Messiah who appears in the latter days:
The Messiah is a human being, born of the seed of David following a long period of Exile in which David's line seems hopelessly forgotten and Israel is scattered among all nations. He is a mighty servant of YHVH, filled with the holy spirit and possessing great gifts and qualities, combining within himself the triple-anointed functions of Prophet, Priest, and King. He is instrumental in regathering all the Tribes of Israel, rebuilding the Temple of God, putting down all wickedness and opposition to YHVH, and bringing in an era of everlasting peace, righteousness, and justice among all nations.
There are four points of special note in this regard, all related to the ways Christians have developed their ideas on the Messiah down through the centuries.
First, despite all the talk about the "Messiah" among Christians it is certainly instructive to observe that not a single one of these core texts uses that actual term! Obviously the Biblical writers did understand the coming Davidic ruler, or perhaps even David himself, to be "an anointed one" in the highest sense of that term, yet they still do not use the description "messiah." Maybe there is something to learn from this about our own use of language in contrast to that of the Biblical writers.
Second, none of these texts speak of the "messiah" in a heavenly, other-worldly, or cosmic sense. The descriptions of his mission and accomplishments all have to do exclusively with this world and are cast in the most concrete historical settings.
Third, none of the texts speak of "believing in the Messiah," "accepting the Messiah," "receiving him into your heart," or any other such language so common among Christians. These are simply not Biblical concepts. Our faith is in YHVH alone, and when the Messiah appears we will recognize him as YHVH's agent -- but YHVH alone will be exalted in that Day (Isaiah 2:10-11; Zechariah 14:9).
Finally, despite all the anti-Jewish rhetoric and polemic from the Christians regarding Jesus fulfilling the Prophets it is worth noting that he did not fulfill a single one of these messianic passages at his first appearance. He did not destroy the wicked, regather the tribes of Israel and Judah to the Land, rebuild the Temple, teach Torah to the nations, and usher in a worldwide reign of everlasting peace among nations. This is why Christian theologians in the second through the fourth centuries began to heavily allegorize, and thus marginalize, these and other passages that clearly deal in the greatest detail with the fortunes of national Israel and the specific historical events which are to take place on this earth when the Messiah appears. They applied them in a vague and "spiritual way" to the Church as Christ's Kingdom on earth. If one will carefully read these and related passages in context, it becomes obvious that such an interpretation will simply not stand. The prophets give so many details in their descriptions of the messianic era that such attempts to allegorize simply break down. 
Surely it would be a positive step for those of us who claim to be "messianists," to revise our ideas and our language along the lines of these most basic texts from the Hebrew Prophets. Speculations about the messiah, both Jewish and Christian, have been abundant throughout history. However, a solid Biblical Faith will surely center its messianism around this absolutely consistent core set of texts. I am convinced that a real restoration of this "Biblical messianism" would clear the way for Jews and non-Jews (particularly those from Christian backgrounds) to find harmony in their understanding of these important matters.
 "Because of this confusion it would be best if English translations of the Bible would abandon the term "Christ" entirely, in favor of "Messiah," which for most readers still retains an original Jewish connotation. The word "Christ" conveys an entirely misleading meaning to the modem reader.
 Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls we know a great deal more about such Jewish messianic movements during the time of Yeshua the Nazarene. The Scrolls are part of the hidden library of just such a group, often referred to as the Essenes. They were highly messianic and apocalyptic, expecting the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of God.
 Eschatology is the term scholars use to refer to all the things pertaining to the "end of the age," or the last days of human history, leading into the Kingdom of God.
 Christian translations have mistakenly rendered the name of this child, thus giving a totally erroneous impression that this Prince, or Davidic Messiah, is called here the Mighty God or Everlasting Father. The verb "will call" is active, not passive and can be rendered most naturally with "the Mighty God/Everlasting Father" as the subject and "Prince of Peace" as the object. It might also be translated, "Wonderful in counsel is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." At any rate, the common Christian translation reflects a complete misunderstanding of the Hebrew use of names. The phrase in Hebrew is "Pele Jo'etz El Gibbor Avi-Ad Sar-Shalom." Hebrew names often celebrate the character and activity of God. See the extended name "Maher-shalal-hash-baz" (Isaiah 8:3). This name celebrates the Wonderful Counsel or Plan of God in bringing forth this Davidic ruler (see Isaiah 28:29). To think that the child is being called YHVH God, because his name celebrates and signifies the unfolding Plan of God, would be akin to asserting that the prophet Isaiah is God because his name means "YHVH's Salvation."
 Psalm 110 is quoted in the New Testament more often than any other single text. It is a remarkable Psalm by any measure and becomes the foundation of early views of Yeshua the Nazarene as Messiah. See David M. Hay, Glory at the Right Hand: Psalm 110 in Early Christianity (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1973) for a full scholarly study of this topic.
 The Hebrew word in Psalm 110:1 is adoni which means "my master," not the special plural form adonai which is used for YHVH, the Lord GOD. Accordingly, David is acknowledging the superiority of this future figure, not his divinity. This point is made by Yeshua the Nazarene in the Synoptic Gospel tradition -- see Mark 12:35-37.
 The latter reference is to a fascinating text fragment found in Cave 11 of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A translation is found in Vermes, ed. The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 3rd ed. (Penguin, 1987); pp. 300-301. The text seems to interpret the figure of Melchizedek in a heavenly, exalted, Messianic sense, much like the early Christians.
 A newly published text from Qumran Cave 4 builds on Isaiah 61 and applies it to the Messiah, in a similar way to what one finds in the Synoptic Lukan tradition (Luke 4:16-19; 7:18-23). See my article [with Michael Wise] on this text in Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December, 1992, pp. 60-65.
 Notice, for example, the precise description of the rebuilt and permanent Jerusalem in Jeremiah 31:36-40, or the description of the final battles in Zechariah 14 and Ezekiel 38-39. There is a marvelous and powerful film called The Disputation which depicts an historically accurate version of a debate in the Middle Ages between a Christian theologian and a leading Jewish Rabbi. Their discussion centers on this very point -- whether the messiah has come, and whether Jesus and the Church fulfill the Prophets in this regard. I highly recommend this film. A video copy is available through Emmanuel, P. O. Box 442, Athens, TN 37303.
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