Jewish Messiah

Jewish Messiah

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Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

, ; mashiah, moshiah, mashiach, or moshiach, ("anointed [one]") is a term used in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 to describe priests and kings, who were traditionally anointed
Anointing
To anoint is to pour or smear with perfumed oil, milk, water, melted butter or other substances, a process employed ritually by many religions. People and things are anointed to symbolize the introduction of a sacramental or divine influence, a holy emanation, spirit, power or God...

 with holy anointing oil
Holy anointing oil
The holy anointing oil , formed an integral part of the ordination of the priesthood and the high priest as well as in the consecration of the articles of the tabernacle and subsequent temples in Jerusalem...

 as described in Exodus 30:22-25. For example, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, the king of Persia, though not a Hebrew, is referred to as "God's anointed" (Messiah) in the Bible.

Historical


In Jewish eschatology
Jewish eschatology
Jewish eschatology is concerned with the Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead. Eschatology, generically, is the area of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world, the ultimate destiny of humanity, and related concepts.-The Messiah:The...

, the term came to refer to a future Jewish King
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 from the Davidic line
Davidic line
The Davidic line refers to the tracing of lineage to the King David referred to in the Hebrew Bible, as well as the New Testament...

, who will be "anointed" with holy anointing oil
Holy anointing oil
The holy anointing oil , formed an integral part of the ordination of the priesthood and the high priest as well as in the consecration of the articles of the tabernacle and subsequent temples in Jerusalem...

 and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age
Messianic Age
Messianic Age is a theological term referring to a future time of universal peace and brotherhood on the earth, without crime, war and poverty. Many religions believe that there will be such an age; some refer to it as the "Kingdom of God" or the "World to Come".- Terminology: "messianic" and...

. In Standard Hebrew, The Messiah is often referred to as , (in the Tiberian vocalization
Tiberian vocalization
The Tiberian vocalization is a system of diacritics devised by the Masoretes to add to the consonantal Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible; this system soon became used to vocalize other texts as well...

 pronounced ), literally meaning "the anointed king."

Traditional and current Orthodox
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 thought have mainly held that the Messiah will be the anointed one (messiah), descended from his father through the Davidic line of King David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 via Solomon (See Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
Aryeh Kaplan
Aryeh Moshe Eliyahu Kaplan was a noted American Orthodox rabbi and author known for his "intimate knowledge of both physics and kabbalah." He was lauded as an original thinker and prolific writer, from studies of the Torah, Talmud and mysticism to introductory pamphlets on Jewish beliefs and...

), who will gather the Jews back into the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, usher in an era of peace, build the Third Temple, have a male heir and re-institute the Sanhedrin
Sanhedrin
The Sanhedrin was an assembly of twenty-three judges appointed in every city in the Biblical Land of Israel.The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme court of ancient Israel made of 71 members...

, among other things.

Talmud


The Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 extensively details the advent of the Messiah (Sanhedrin 98a, et al.) and describes a period of freedom and peace, which will be the time of ultimate goodness for the Jews and for all mankind.
Tractate Sanhedrin
Sanhedrin
The Sanhedrin was an assembly of twenty-three judges appointed in every city in the Biblical Land of Israel.The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme court of ancient Israel made of 71 members...

, contains a long discussion of the events leading to the coming of the Messiah, for example:
Throughout Jewish history Jews have compared these passages (and others) to contemporary events in search of signs of the Messiah's imminent arrival, continuing into present times.

The Talmud tells many stories about the Messiah, some of which represent famous Talmudic rabbis as receiving personal visitations from Elijah the Prophet and the Messiah. For example:

Views of Maimonides



One Jewish understanding of the messiah is based on the writings of Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

, (also known as Rambam). His views on the messiah are discussed in his Mishneh Torah
Mishneh Torah
The Mishneh Torah subtitled Sefer Yad ha-Hazaka is a code of Jewish religious law authored by Maimonides , one of history's foremost rabbis...

, his 14 volume compendium of Jewish law
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

, in the section Hilkhot Melakhim Umilchamoteihem, chapters 11 & 12.

According to Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

, Jesus of Nazareth is not the Messiah, as is claimed by Christians.

Ancient Israel



Many of the scriptural requirements concerning the Messiah, what he will do, and what will be done during his reign are located in the Book of Isaiah
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

, although requirements are mentioned by other prophets as well. Views on whether Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 passages are Messianic may vary from and among scholars of ancient Israel looking at their meaning in original context and from and among rabbinical scholars.
  • Isaiah 1:26: "And I will restore your judges as at first and your counsellors as in the beginning; afterwards you shall be called City of Righteousness, Faithful City." Some Jews interpret this to mean that the Sanhedrin
    Sanhedrin
    The Sanhedrin was an assembly of twenty-three judges appointed in every city in the Biblical Land of Israel.The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme court of ancient Israel made of 71 members...

     will be re-established."
  • Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance.
  • The whole world will worship the One God of Israel
  • He will be descended from King David
    David
    David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

     (Isaiah 11:1) via Solomon
    Solomon
    Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

     
  • The "spirit of the Lord" will be upon him, and he will have a "fear of God"
  • Evil
    Evil
    Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

     and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership
  • Knowledge of God will fill the world
  • He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations
  • All Israelites will be returned to their homeland
    Land of Israel
    The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

     
  • Death will be swallowed up forever
  • There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease
  • All of the dead will rise again
    Resurrection of the dead
    Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

     
  • The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness
  • He will be a messenger of peace
    Peace
    Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the...

     
  • Nations will recognize the wrongs they did to Israel
  • The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance
  • The ruined cities of Israel will be restored
  • Weapons of war will be destroyed
  • The people of Israel will have direct access to the Torah
    Torah
    Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

     through their minds and Torah study
    Torah study
    Torah study is the study by Jewish people of the Torah, Hebrew Bible, Talmud, responsa, rabbinic literature and similar works, all of which are Judaism's religious texts...

     will become the study of the wisdom of the heart
  • He will give you all the worthy desires of your heart
  • He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful

Second Temple period and apocalypticism


The majority of Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 texts have no reference to an individual end-time Messiah. Exceptions among the Dead Sea Scrolls include 4Q521
4Q521
4Q521 or the 4QMessianic Apocalypse is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.4Q521 comprises two larger fragments. The original editor was Jean Starcky, though translation revisions have been proposed by Émile Puech.The text begins:...

, the "Messianic Apocalypse." Other messianic concepts are found in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Messianic allusions to some figures include to Menahem ben Hezekiah
Menahem ben Hezekiah
Menahem ben Hezekiah was a quasi-Messianic Jewish teacher born on the day the Second Temple was destroyed....

 who traditionally was born on the same day that the Second Temple was destroyed.

Orthodox Judaism


Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 maintains that Jews are obliged to accept the 13 Principles of Faith as formulated by Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 in his introduction to Chapter Helek of the Mishna Torah. Each principle starts with the words Ani Maamin (I believe). Number 12 is the main principle relating to Mashiach. The text is as follows:


Hasidic Judaism


Hasidic
Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

 Jews tend to have a particularly strong and passionate belief in the immediacy of the Messiah's coming, and in the ability of their actions to hasten his arrival. Because of the piousness, wisdom, and leadership abilities of the Hasidic Masters, members of Hasidic communities are sometimes inclined to regard their dynastic rebbe
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

s who are descended from the Davidic line as potential candidates for Messiah. Many Jews, (see the Bartenura's explantion on Megillat Rut, and the Halakhic responsa of The Ch'sam Sofer on Choshen Mishpat [vol. 6], Chapter 98 where this view is explicit) especially Hasidim, adhere to the belief that there is a person born each generation with the potential to become Messiah, if the Jewish people warrant his coming; this candidate is known as the Tzadik
Tzadik
Tzadik/Zadik/Sadiq is a title given to personalities in Jewish tradition considered righteous, such as Biblical figures and later spiritual masters. The root of the word ṣadiq, is ṣ-d-q , which means "justice" or "righteousness", also the root of Tzedakah...

 Ha-Dor
, meaning Tzaddik (a Hebrew term literally meaning "righteous one" but used to refer to holy men who can, for example, perform miracles or act as an intermediary between man and God) of the Generation. However, fewer are likely to name a candidate.

Notably, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Menachem Mendel Schneerson , known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe or just the Rebbe among his followers, was a prominent Hasidic rabbi who was the seventh and last Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. He was fifth in a direct paternal line to the third Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Menachem Mendel...

 declared often that the Messiah is very close, urging all to pray for the coming of the Messiah, study Torah souces about him, and do everything possible to hasten his coming through increased acts of kindness, and so on. In fact, many Chabad
Chabad
Chabad or Chabad-Lubavitch is a major branch of Hasidic Judaism.Chabad may also refer to:*Chabad-Strashelye, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism*Chabad-Kapust or Kapust, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism...

 Hasidim still regard him as the Messiah (See Chabad messianism
Chabad messianism
Chabad messianism, or Lubavitch messianism, is a term used to describe a spectrum of beliefs within the Chabad Hasidic movement regarding their late leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson and his purported position as the Messiah...

.)

Conservative Judaism


Emet Ve-Emunah, the Conservative movement's
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

 statement of principles, states the following:

Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism


Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

 and Reconstructionist Judaism
Reconstructionist Judaism
Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern American-based Jewish movement based on the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan . The movement views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization. It originated as a branch of Conservative Judaism, before it splintered...

 generally do not accept the idea that there will be a Messiah. Some believe that there may be some sort of "messianic age
Messianic Age
Messianic Age is a theological term referring to a future time of universal peace and brotherhood on the earth, without crime, war and poverty. Many religions believe that there will be such an age; some refer to it as the "Kingdom of God" or the "World to Come".- Terminology: "messianic" and...

" (the World to Come
World to Come
The World to Come is an eschatological phrase reflecting the belief that the "current world" is flawed or cursed and will be replaced in the future by a better world or a paradise. The concept is similar to the concepts of Heaven and the afterlife, but Heaven is another place generally seen as...

) in the sense of a "utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

", which all Jews are obligated to work towards (thus the tradition of Tikkun olam
Tikkun olam
Tikkun olam is a Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world." In Judaism, the concept of tikkun olam originated in the early rabbinic period...

).

In 1999, the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Central Conference of American Rabbis
The Central Conference of American Rabbis , founded in 1889 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, is the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the United States and Canada, the CCAR is the largest and oldest rabbinical organization in the world....

, the official body of American Reform rabbis, authored "A Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism", meant to describe and define the spiritual state of modern Reform Judaism. In a commentary appended to the platform, it states:

See also

  • Armilus
    Armilus
    Armilus is an anti-Messiah figure in late-period Jewish eschatology, comparable to the Christian Antichrist and Muslim Dajjal, who will conquer Jerusalem and persecute the Jews until his final defeat at the hands of God or the true Messiah...

  • Jesus and Messianic prophecy
  • Jewish eschatology
    Jewish eschatology
    Jewish eschatology is concerned with the Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead. Eschatology, generically, is the area of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world, the ultimate destiny of humanity, and related concepts.-The Messiah:The...

  • Jewish Messiah claimants
    Jewish Messiah claimants
    The Messiah in Judaism has a number of interpretations, including any king chosen by God; a holy king who will lead Israel; and someone who will usher in an idyllic age of peace and justice...

  • Judaism's view of Jesus
    Judaism's view of Jesus
    Jews have traditionally seen Jesus as one of a number of false messiahs who have appeared throughout history. Jesus is viewed as having been the most influential, and consequently the most damaging, of all false messiahs...

  • Messiah ben Joseph
    Messiah ben Joseph
    Messiah ben Joseph , also alternatively known as Messiah ben Ephraim , is a Messianic figure peculiar to the rabbinical apocalyptic literature. One of the earliest known mentions of him is in , where three statements occur in regard to him, for the first of which Rabbi Dosa is given as authority...

  • Outreach Judaism
  • Year 6000
    Year 6000
    According to classical Jewish sources, the Hebrew year 6000 marks the latest time for the initiation of the Messianic Age. The Talmud, the Midrash, and the Kabbalistic work, the Zohar, state that the 'deadline' by which the Messiah must appear is 6,000 years from creation...


External links