Who Is Messiah

As I stated in my About page I unplugged from teachers, videos, and articles and set out on my own to discover what the Bible really says. Equipped only by my copy of E-Sword with various translations, lexicons,  Hebrew texts, a notebook, and a clear mind I started to study.

My first study, and the question I wanted answered the most, was Why [or how] did the Jews miss the Messiah. I had heard most of my life various common memes such as: they were blinded by God, their hearts were hardened, they deep down knew Jesus was Messiah but rejected it, it was the plan to save the Gentiles, etc. None of this jived well with me since it was clear they were the only group of people in the world who were even expecting a Messiah in the first place.

True, a small group of Jews did believe Jesus was the Messiah, but by the time it became a state religion almost all traces of Jewishness had been erased from it. The majority of Jews wholly rejected the notion that Jesus was the Messiah and for 2,000 yrs. countless millions lost their lives because of it.

To start any study it’s often prudent to start with the word itself. In this case what needed to be defined was two-fold:

  1. What is a Messiah?
  2. Who is a Messiah?

The answer was not what I expected. The word Messiah is a corrupted English transliteration of the Hebrew word משׁיח [mashiyach”  Strong’s H4899] which means anointed. This word comes from the root word משׁח [“mashach” Strong’s H4886] which means to smear or rub, as in oil. One who is mashached [smeared] with oil is a mashiyach [anointed]. Seems simple enough.

What surprised me the most about this word is that it is not necessarily a title of a person but it could be applied to all sorts of people and objects. Priests were messiahs, Kings were messiahs, objects [shields, alter, and Temple vessels, etc] were messiahs, and even a foreign King was a messiah [Isa 45:1].

The word mashiyach is used 41 times in 38 verses in the Tenakh:

  • 4 times in Leviticus
  • 17 times in 1 & 2 Samuel
  • 11 times in Psalms
  • 1 time each in 1 & 2 Chronicles
  • 1 time in Lamentations
  • 1 time in Isaiah
  • 2 times in Daniel
  • 1 time in Habakkuk

For quick reference, you can look at all the entries provided at blueletterbible.org [opens new window]. Out of all of the instances of this word only 5 times is it used in a future tense:

1.) The prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2. After giving birth and weaning Samuel she brought him to Eli and prays a prayer of worship exalting HaShem, she appears to be referring to the Day of the Lord:

1Sa 2:10  The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

2.) The man of God who tells Eli his sons would die and all his descendants would die by the sword but:

1Sa 2:35  And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.

This verse is commonly used as a messianic verse, but it’s really not. Notice the promised Priest will walk before His Messiah forever – The priest is not The Messiah.

3.) Psalms 132 contain two instances of the word: v10 and v17. The second instance in v17 is still in our future – when HaShem sets His dwelling in Zion forever He will causes the horn of David to sprout [1Sa 2:10 above], notice the horn sprouts AFTER Yehovah dwells in Zion:

Psa 132:13-18  For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place:  (14)  “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.  (15)  I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread.  (16)  Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy.  (17There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp [light] for my anointed.  (18)  His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.”

4.) Twice in Daniel 9 referencing two separate anointed ones – an anointed Prince and an anointed one. 7 weeks until an anointed Prince, then another anointed one cut off after 62 weeks. Daniel 9 is far beyond the scope of this paper, but it should be noted that many translations use the word “The Messiah” capitalized as a title in both of these giving the reader the impression these two verses are referring to The Messiah when it’s not in the Hebrew.

Dan 9:25  Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.

Dan 9:26  And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.

Another interesting thing I found was the word ‘The Messiah’ [“hamashiyachהמשׁיח] is only used 4 times in the entire Tanakh and all 4 refer to the priest in Leviticus.

Lev 4:3  if it is the anointed [hamashiyach] priest who sins – the messiah the priest

Lev 4:5  And the anointed [hamashiyach] priest shall take some of the blood – the messiah the priest

Lev 4:16  Then the anointed [hamashiyach] priest shall bring some of the blood – the messiah the priest

Lev 6:22  And the anointed [hamashiyach] priest that shall be in his stead from among his sons – the messiah the priest

One thing you’ll find completely absent in every instance of this word is a clear and precise prophecy of one called the Messiah who would come as a savior of the world. In fact, in every messianic prophecy agreed upon by both Jews and Christians the word Messiah doesn’t even occur one time.

This leads to many more questions:

  1. Who is the future promised Messiah?
  2. Is this Messiah God Himself, God’s son, both, or neither?
  3. Is it the Messiah’s job to save and redeem anyone?
  4. Is this Messiah also going to be the High Priest?

Let’s start with #3 here. First we’ll again have to define what a savior is. There Hebrew root word that translates as savior or deliverer is ישׁע [“yasha’” H3467] meaning to defend, deliver, help, preserve, rescue, be safe, bring (having) salvation, save (-iour), get victory. A word that sounds very similar to “mashiyach” but derives from the root “yasha’” is מושיע “moshiah” which also means savior and is not the same as anointed “mashiyach”.

Again, for reference you can look at all the instance of this word here at blueletterbible.org.  When you read all the instances of this word two things are absolutely clear, to me at least. Being ‘saved’ is a physical deliverance not a spiritual deliverence. A savior delivers from calamity, destruction, or harm. This gives a whole new meaning to “Are you saved?”, the answer is “Not yet”.

Clearly, when it comes to THE savior it is only HaShem – there is no other. The Messiah is NOT a savior and does not deliver anyone. Also, keep in mind every time the translations have LORD in all caps it is Yehovah.

Isa 43:3  For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

Isa 43:11  I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.

Isa 45:15  Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.

Isa 45:21  Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.

Isa 49:26  I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the LORD your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Isa 60:16  You shall suck the milk of nations; you shall nurse at the breast of kings; and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

Hos 13:4  But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.

Eze 34:22-24  I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep.  (23)  And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.  (24)  And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.

Eze 36:29  And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.Eze 37:23  They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Zep 3:17  The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zec 8:7  Thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country,

Zec 8:13  And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong.”

Zec 9:16  On that day the LORD their God will save them, as the flock of his people; for like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land.

This is pretty astonishing. The Messiah is NEVER mentioned in any of these verses, not even in the larger context of the chapters that contain them. Moreover, Yehovah is NEVER called a “mashiyach”, He is the one who authorizes an anointing – does He anoint Himself? No.

So where did The Messiah – King Messiah, son of David, who is going to deliver Israel come from? And how did Christians run with it to apply it to Jesus? The idea of a King Messiah goes way back in Judaism. The 12th principal in Rambam’s 13 Principals of Faith says:

I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the mashiach, and though he may tarry, still I await him every day.
– Principle 12 of Rambam’s
13 Principles of Faith

According to the website jewfaq.com and others I’ve read they explain it thusly:

The Mashiach

The mashiach will be a great political leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23:5). The mashiach is often referred to as “mashiach ben David” (mashiach, son of David). He will be well-versed in Jewish law, and observant of its commandments (Isaiah 11:2-5). He will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example. He will be a great military leader, who will win battles for Israel. He will be a great judge, who makes righteous decisions (Jeremiah 33:15). But above all, he will be a human being, not a god, demi-god or other supernatural being.

It has been said that in every generation, a person is born with the potential to be the mashiach. If the time is right for the messianic age within that person’s lifetime, then that person will be the mashiach. But if that person dies before he completes the mission of the mashiach, then that person is not the mashiach.

What Will the Mashiach Do?

Before the time of the mashiach, there shall be war and suffering (Ezekiel 38:16)

The mashiach will bring about the political and spiritual redemption of the Jewish people by bringing us back to Israel and restoring Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 23:8; 30:3; Hosea 3:4-5). He will establish a government in Israel that will be the center of all world government, both for Jews and gentiles (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:10; 42:1). He will rebuild the Temple and re-establish its worship (Jeremiah 33:18). He will restore the religious court system of Israel and establish Jewish law as the law of the land (Jeremiah 33:15).

Basically, in almost all literature I’ve read the mashiyach will be a leader who brings about political and spiritual redemption as stated above. But is that what the Bible says – does the mashiyach bring all of this about, or does Yehovah? What exactly does the mashiyach do?

Isa 11:10-12  In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.  (11)  In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.  (12)  He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Jer 23:3-6  Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.  (4)  I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD.  (5)  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  (6)  In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

Hos 3:5  Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.

Jer 30:8-10  “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him.  (9)  But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.  (10)  “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD, nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid.

Jer 33:14-15  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  (15)  In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Eze 34:22-24  I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep.  (23)  And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.  (24)  And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.

Eze 37:22-24  And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.  (23)  They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.  (24)  “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes.

Hos_3:5  Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.

Amo 9:9-11  “For behold, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall to the earth.  (10)  All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’  (11)  “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old,

If you want to call this descendent of David The Messiah, although he is never called that – but because he will be an anointed King he technically is, that’s fine. But, the overwhelming evidence says he doesn’t do anything to bring about the redemption of Israel and Judah – it is Yehhovah alone who does this. This king will rule in justice and righteousness, but again that is afterwards. And he certainly isn’t divine nor God Himself.

As a side note, Jesus never fulfilled any of these Davidic prophecies. The people of his day were looking for the son of David and the restoration of Israel, but it never happened.

Other than David, who does the Bible call a Messiah more than anyone else? The children of Israel. Imagine if the English translators would have translated each instance of the word mashiyach below as The Messiah as they did in Daniel 9. We would have a very different idea of what and who the anointed are.

1Sa 2:35  And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.

1Ch 16:19-22  When you were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it,  (20)  wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people,  (21)  he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account,  (22)  saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”

Psa 2:2-3  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,  (3)  “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

Psa 20:5-6  May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!  (6)  Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.

Psa 28:8  The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

Psa 84:9  Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!

Psa 105:15  saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”

Psa 132:10  For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

Lam 4:19-20  Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains; they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.  (20)  The breath of our nostrils, the LORD’s anointed, was captured in their pits, of whom we said, “Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.”

Hab 3:13  You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah.

In conclusion, and yes this was very long, Messiah is not a specific individual who is to show up on the scene to deliver Israel, the the Davidic King [if that’s who you call a future Messiah] comes after the redemption. He also is not an individual who would show up on the scene to save Gentiles. And nowhere does it state he would arrive, fail to accomplish anything, die, and then later return to fulfill all the physical requirements laid out in the Tanakh.

Yehovah alone is the savior – for everyone, only He will extend His hand a second time to recover His people [Isa 11:11], He will fight in Jerusalem and it will be His feet that will step on the Mt of Olives [Zec 14:4]. Afterwards, the house of Israel and house of Judah – the Lord’s Messiah[s] – will be reunited into one nation again with David their King.

Oh by the way, only those who call upon the name of the LORD [Yehovah] will be saved in that day.

Joe 2:32  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

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