(A Response to My Christian Mother – with So Much Love)
Proving why the hopefully soon-coming Moshiach/Messiah is human (rather than divine) is basically like asking someone to prove that Judaism is more true than Christianity. It’s a huge topic and one article will never be able to answer all the questions or cover all the ground necessary to even drip in the puddle, much less the sea.
So I will attempt to stick to the exact question my mom asked, which was, “How do you know from the Bible that Moshiach is human?”
Here we go.
Let’s start with the word Moshiyach, a Hebrew word.
It’s in the Bible 39 times.
(Mom, you can check your Strong’s Concordance on this, it’s word number 4899, defined as “from 4886, anointed, usually a consecrated person (as a king, priest, or saint), specifically the Messiah – annointed, Messiah.” For further understanding, check out Strong’s definition of 4886, “mashac, to rub with oil, anoint, consecrate.”)
Notice that even Strong’s Concordance, a famous Christian reference tool, defines the Hebrew word, moshiyach, as a consecrated PERSON. Mom, I can hear you saying, “Yes, but it also says ‘specifically The Messiah’, that is Jesus, He is God!”
I know you love spreadsheets, Mom, and guess what? So do I!! So I made one to examine each of these “moshiachs” mentioned in our Holy Scriptures.
In the first column, you will see the Scripture reference. In the second column, you will see the name or role of the moshiyach being mentioned. Most of these are extremely obvious, some require a little more detective work. In the third column, you’ll see the question, “Is this moshiyach human or G-d?” I wrote, “human” or “G-d” in this column.
37 of the 39 uses of the word moshiyach are unquestionably human, referring to either priests or Israeli kings from history. This shows us that moshiyach is a word used for human kings. None of the 39 uses of the word moshiyach mention G-d at all. Two of the uses of the word could potentially be referring to Jesus (we will soon examine why I don’t think they are), but those two verses do not mention moshiyach as G-d in the flesh at all. They just could be interpreted, and have been interpreted by Christians as being Jesus, who is usually defined as G-d in the flesh. So those are the 2 uses of the word that we’re going to look at.
Unfortunately they’re in Daniel 9. I say unfortunately because I absolutely hate math, and Daniel 9 has been mathematically dissected a zillion ways by a zillion guys trying to add up the numbers of sevens and weeks and seventies to prove that the Messiah is Jesus.
My brain starts bleeding. And it hurts. So honestly, these have never been the verses that I base any of my beliefs on. I zone out when I start reading the calculations of years and weeks. Squirrel!
But Mom, your Moshiach Challenge led me here to Daniel 9, so I took a breather from the math and decided instead of actually adding or counting anything, I would simply list the events in sequential order:
Event #1 – the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (famous Jewish commentator Rashi interprets it to mean the “word” that started as a result of Daniel’s prayers)
Event #2 – “until the anointed king” (moshiyach) comes. Rashi interprets it to be until the coming of King Cyrus. Christians interpret it to be Jesus of Nazareth.
Event #3 – the city (Yerushalayim, aka Jerusalem) will return and streets and moat will be rebuilt in troubled times
Event #4 – Anointed one (moshiyach) will be cut off
Event #5 – People of coming monarch (evil guy, and word moshiyach is not used) will destroy Jerusalem and the 2nd Temple – 70 CE
Event #6 – “He” (coming evil monarch) will make a peace agreement, abolish the temple sacrifices and “the dumb one” pagan deity will be set up on high among abominations until it gets destroyed.
If you look at that simplified order of events, Jesus cannot be the anointed king of Event #2 because, forget the numbers for us mathematically challenged, he lived AFTER #3 happened, after the city of Jerusalem was rebuilt from its destruction of Daniel’s time. Simple math problem, true or false – you can’t be 2 if you’re after 3. Someone call Mensa to confirm.
Do you see how we must conclude from the simple order of events that Jesus cannot be the moshiyach in Event #2? So who is? A historical human king, and I gotta vote for King Cyrus, since he’s the one who called for the rebuilding of the city, and he lived around the time of Events #1 and #2 above.
Here’s where my Jewish friends will squirm for a millisecond – I will give you that Event #4 could describe Jesus. EXCEPT the Jesus that came between #3 and #4 above was never anointed as anything. He was not a king. He was a servant. He was not King Jesus, he was Suffering Jesus. (The Second Coming King Jesus doesn’t fit the timing of coming before the 2nd temple’s destruction.) Who else could it be? King Herod Agrippa. The king of Israel who was ruling just before the temple was destroyed.
But let’s say that in one out of 39 mentions of Moshiach, this one in Daniel 9 is possibly (very remote possibility but I know you will cling to it dearly) talking about Jesus. Daniel says nothing about this moshiyach being divine, but I’m still going to give you a point in the G-d column, just to be fair since Jesus could fit the timeline at least (I’m sure someone else could do the math problem and prove it’s not Jesus, but I just don’t want to deal with that and honestly there are just too many ways to interpret it). However, I’m also going to put human in the column also, since Jesus according to Christians is also fully human and since my interpretation of King Herod Agrippa is human.
Now we have shown that all 39 of the Bible instances in which the Hebrew word moshiyach (from which the Christian word Messiah comes) are describing human beings.
Mom, we may never agree on “who” the Moshiach is until we’re all looking at him, G-d willing in this lifetime. But if we focus on “what” he will do, we can agree for a fact it hasn’t happened yet. Peace on earth. Everyone knows God and studies Torah. A Temple open to the nations, a place for God’s presence, His Shechinah glory, to dwell on earth. An easy life.
To Jews, it really doesn’t matter who. When someone does WHAT our messianic prophecies say he’ll do, we’ll know he’s The Moshiach. Mom, I know you believe that Jesus will do those things when he comes again. I want to say “maybe he will, we’ll see” to kind of meet you half-way, but in my heart and mind I know it can’t be him. At least not the man-god-combo his followers made him into.
Because I’ve got 39 Bible mentions of moshiyach, and he’s human in all of them.
(I have one more reason coming soon… and it’s the Book of Ezekiel.)