Category Archives: messiah

Messiaism in the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) community are popularly referred to as the Essenes, but this has come to be doubted by some in the scholarly community. The DSS community’s scrolls contain some of the earliest extant books of the Hebrew bible. The modern Hebrew bible is based on the Masoretic text (c. 200 CE). The DSS scrolls, however, date to around the beginning of the Hasmonean era (c. 150 BCE) to the Roman era (the first century CE). In quite a few instances, the DSS scrolls reflect the earlier polytheism of the Israelites that was later corrected in the Masoretc; even agreeing with the LXX when the LXX disagrees with the Masoretic.

The DSS community came about after the events recorded somewhat in Daniel. The outlawing of Judaism by Antiochus IV and the ousting of the previous high preisthood in favor of the Hasmonean priest-kings after the previous high priest had allowed Antiochus to desecrate the temple. While this was a victory for the Maccabees, the DSS community favored the previous high priest kicked out by the Maccabees, and their writings reflect their sectarian views. Thus for the Qumran community, they longed for two messiahs – one that would be a Kingly Messiah to re-estaish the authentic kingdom of David, and one that would be a Priestly Messiah who would re-establish the authentic pre-Maccabean priesthood. The Hasmoneans, however, made their own bid for authentic priestly succession with the introduction of the Sadducees. “Sadducee” is etymologically derived from Zadokim (or Tsadokim) implying that they followed the teachings of the high priest Tsadok who, according to tradition, anointed king Solomon.
Some of the DSS scrolls include The Temple Scroll; The Scroll of the 24 Priestly Watches; The Scroll of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice; The Scroll of Priestly Blessings; The Scroll of Melchitsedek (describes the Archangel named Melkitsedek who functions as High Priest in heaven); The Testament of Levi; The Zadokite Document (also known as the Damascus Covenant).

All of these scrolls have to do with priestly issues. Then there’s also the War Scroll (portraying the struggle between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness) and the commentaries (pesher) on biblical prophetic books which are rewritten and reinterpreted in a way that all consoling prophecies refer to the Sons of Light and all rebuking prophecies relate to the Sons of Darkness. The Sons of Light are lead by the Priest of Righteousness (Cohen Tsedek [or Zadok]) and the Angel of Light while the Sons of Darkness are lead by the Evil Priest (Cohen Resha) and by the Angel of Darkness

The Messainic Scrolls include:
4Q175 (or 4QTest), also known as The Testimonia, is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls and was found in Cave 4 at Qumran in the West Bank. Only one sheet long, 4Q175 is a collection of scriptural quotations seemingly connected to a messianic figure. The manuscript was written in Hasmonean script of the early first century BCE and was edited by John Marco Allegro.

The Testimonia is a short document containing five Biblical quotations arranged in four sections concerning God’s activities at the end-time. Only the last section is followed by an interpretation. The first three sections refer to future blessings which will come from three figures, a prophet similar to Moses, a messianic figure and a priestly teacher.

The first section consists of two texts from Deuteronomy and refers to the prophet-figure who is like Moses (Deuteronomy 5:28-29; 18:18-19). The second section is an extract from a prophecy of Balaam about the Messiah-figure, who is similar to David (Numbers 24:15-17). This prophecy predicts “A star shall come out of Jacob and a sceptre shall arise out of Israel; he shall crush the temples of Moab and destroy all the children of Sheth.”[Simon Bar-Kokhba, the Jewish Messiah of 132 CE literally means “Simon son of the star”] The third section is a blessing of the Levites, and of the Priest-Messiah who will be a teacher like Levi (Deuteronomy 33:8-11). The last section begins with a verse from Joshua (6:26), which is then expounded by means of a quotation from the Psalms of Joshua (see 4Q379). These verses show that the Qumran community was interested in the messianic prophecies found in the Tanakh.

4Q252 Column V, formerly known as Patriarchal Blessing, covers Joseph’s blessing of Judah. It contains a quotation from Jeremiah 33:17. The author links this blessing to Messianic expectation and the “covenant of royalty” given to David. The commentary serves dually as anti Hasmonaean polemic and affirmation of the Qumran community’s self understanding as spiritual descendants of David.

The Rule of the Blessing (1QSb) is a very fragmentary text once thought to be part of the Dead Sea Scrolls book known as the Community Rule. It is added as one of two appendices (including the equally eschatological Rule of the Congregation) following the book of the Community Rule, on one of the first seven scrolls discovered at the Qumran site. The Rule of the Blessing includes three benedictions for use during the eschaton: one for the general assembly of the eschatological Tribe of Israel, which describes a sort of “living water” bringing them into a new covenant with God, one concerning the Sons of Zadok, priests chosen by God who will act “like angels” and lead Israel after the War. The third prayer is that for the messianic meal, to bless the “Prince,” or Davidic messiah, who has come to deliver Israel. These blessings are meant to praise the sect who inhabited Qumran and its leaders, for the ultimate perfection had dawned, and they had been its harbingers. Similar prayers are found elsewhere in the scrolls, and some believe that this particular manuscript many be a collection of prayers for general, daily use.

1QSa (The Rule of the Congregation) The scroll [says] that in the “last days” there will be a great war with the Gentiles, and the whole of Israel will join with the Yahad (an eschatological community) to fight. The Rule of the Congregation then outlines in several sections the rules for governing the eschatological sect, stages of life for members of the sect and the duties expected of them at each age, those disqualified from service, duties for members of the Tribe of Levi, acts of the council of the community, a description of a man (or men) described as “the Messiah of Aaron and of David” entering, and the eschatological banquet that will follow to celebrate his arrival. The Rule of the Congregation concerns itself largely with the operations of the sect during these “end-times,” and the functions and purity prerequisites demanded of the sect during the messianic assembly (banquet).

The War of the Messaiah is a series of Dead Sea scroll fragments describing the conclusion of a battle led by the Leader of the Congregation. The fragments that make up this document include 4Q285, also known as The Pierced/Piercing Messiah Text, and 11Q14 with which it was found to coincide. It is possible that it also represents the conclusion of the War Scroll.

This six-line fragment, commonly referred to as the “Pierced Messiah” text, is written in a Herodian script of the first half of the 1st Century and refers to a Messiah from the Branch of David, to a judgement, and to a killing. Hebrew is comprised primarily of consonants; vowels must be supplied by the reader. The appropriate vowels depend on the context. Thus, the text (line 4) may be translated as “and the Prince of the Congregation, the Branch of David, will kill him,” or alternately read as “and they killed the Prince.” Because of the second reading, the text was dubbed the “Pierced Messiah.” The traditional transcription and translation support the “killing Messiah” interpretation, alluding to a triumphant Messiah (Isaiah 11:4).

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Posted by on October 7, 2010 in dead sea scrolls, messiah


The Messiah son of Joseph, Herald of the Messiah son of David

Details about him are not found until much later, but he has an established place in the apocalypses of later centuries, such as the Apocalypse of Zerubbabel, and in the midrash literature—in Saadia’s description of the future (Emunot we-De’ot, ch. viii.) and in that of Hai Gaon (Ṭa’am Zeḳenim, p. 59). According to these, Messiah b. Joseph will appear prior to the coming of Messiah ben David; he will gather the children of Israel around him, march to Jerusalem, and there, after overcoming the hostile powers, reestablish the Temple-worship and set up his own dominion. Thereupon Armilus, according to one group of sources, or Gog and Magog, according to the other, will appear with their hosts before Jerusalem, wage war against Messiah ben Joseph, and slay him. His corpse, according to one group, will lie unburied in the streets of Jerusalem; according to the other, it will be hidden by the angels with the bodies of the Patriarchs, until Messiah ben David comes and resurrects him (comp. Jew. Encyc. i. 682, 684 [§§ 8 and 13]; comp. also Midr. Wayosha’ and Agadat ha-Mashiaḥ in A. Jellinek, B. H. i. 55 et seq., iii. 141 et seq.).

This is from the Wikipedia article on the Messiah ben Joseph. While the wiki article says that it’s unknown where these “two messiahs” tradition comes from, there’s actually a prescedent for it found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which predate both the Jesus of Christianity and Rabbinic Midrash.

Before getting to that though, here is Zechariah 4:11-14

Zechariah 4:11-14 (New International Version)

11 Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?”

12 Again I asked him, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?”

13 He replied, “Do you not know what these are?”
“No, my lord,” I said.

14 So he said, “These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.”

I should note that the word for “anointed” here, at least in the LXX which I can read better than Hebrew, is not christ and doesn’t have any grammatical relationship to the verb ΧΡΙΩ::chrio (I anoint) from where the noun ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (christ) comes from. So it might not refer to any sort of “messiah”. But it is still fishy.

There’s also Jeremiah 33

17 For thus saith the LORD: There shall not be cut off unto David a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel;

18 neither shall there be cut off unto the priests the Levites a man before Me to offer burnt-offerings, and to burn meal-offerings, and to do sacrifice continually

Here we have a root from David (kingly) and a root from the Levites (priestly).

In the Qumran community (popularly referred to as the Essenes), from before the Christian era, their “Damascus Document” (CD) has a possible reference to two messiahs. The phrasing says “anointed of Aaron and Israel” (CD 12:23-13:1) hinting at a priestly (Aaron) messiah and a separate kingly (Israel) messiah. In 4QFlor 10-12 it says “He is a branch of David who will arise with the interpreter of the law who shall arise with Zion in the last days”. Here we have again the branch of David and a separate personage who is an interpreter of the law. Implying that this secondary messiah is a priest.

I should point out a little history of this Qumran group. They came into being due to the Maccabean rebellion where the “legitimate” priestly line was kicked out by the Maccabees because this priestly line allowed the “abomination causing desolation” to stand where it didn’t belong. The ensuing revolt of the Maccabees not only incited rabid monotheism among the Jews, but removed the prior priestly line, ousted Greek hegemony, created the celebration of Hannukah, and led to the destruction of the Samaritan temple (of course, the Jews themselves would suffer a similar fate with their temple almost 200 years later at the hands of the Romans).

The Qumran group reviled the ousting of the high priest, so their writings are highly “sectarian” and might not be representative of mainstream Judaism (but neither was Christianity). Their focus was on returning to the glory of the legitimate priestly line, not the ones set up by the Maccabees. Therefore, their messainism and eschatology would include both a king and a legitimate priest to replace the illegitimate priests of the Maccabees/Hasmoneans and those newbie Sadducees.

Now I hypothesize that the earliest Christians knew of both of these messiahs. One a son of David, and the other a son of Joseph. Obviously in the gospel narratives, Jesus is referred to as both. He’s of the lineage of David, but is also the son of “a” Joseph. Thirdly, he is also the son of god. I see this as an attempt by Christians to harmonize the various messainisms of Judaism (son of both David and Joseph) and Greek/pagan views of authentic kingship (being a son of god).

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Posted by on November 25, 2009 in essenes, messiah, qumran, son of david, son of god, son of joseph, two messiahs


The Christian Christ is the Jewish anti-Christ

Here are the basics for what the Jewish Messiah (Christ) is supposed to do in order to earn the title of [king] Messiah:

1. Ezekiel 37:26-28: Build the Third Temple
2. Isaiah 43:5-6: Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel
3. Isaiah 2:4: Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore.”
4. Zechariah 14:9: Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel – uniting the entire human race as one: “God will be King over all the world – on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One”

The Jesus of Christianity did not accomplish any of those. As a matter of fact, the arrival of Jesus the Nazarene has meant nothing but calamity for the Jews. According to Ezekiel 37, the Messiah is supposed to build the third Temple. What happened when Jesus arrived on the scene? The Second Temple is destroyed.

According to Isaiah, the Messiah is supposed to gather all Jews back to their promised land and usher in an era of peace. What happened after Jesus? The Jews are evicted from their promised land and had it renamed to “Palestine”. Also, what has Jesus’ Christianity done to the Jews? Definitely not world peace. On the contrary, Jesus’ religion resulted in endless evictions of Jews from all around Europe: pogroms, holocausts in Protestant Germany, crusades, inquisitions – nothing but war and destruction focused against the Jews.

Contrast the actions of Jesus’ religion with another messiah that Isaiah describes in chapter 45. Cyrus the Great was considered the Messiah in Isaiah – he gathered all Jews back to Israel after the Babylonian exile and had their Temple rebuilt.

According to Zechariah, the Messiah is supposed to spread universal knowledge of the god of Israel. Jesus’ Christianity actually did the opposite: Jesus himself is worshipped as a god, and not YHWH. Of course, Christians say that they are one and the same, but YHWH had no qualms about having personal interaction with his chosen people prior to Jesus. Now all of the sudden he needs a “mediator” in his supposed literal son. It seems like an after the fact ad hoc rationalization of this disparity.

Also, Christians changed the role of God and the messiah in Judaism. In the Tanakh, YHWH makes a covenant with the Jews and ensures that they will be prosperous and have their own land. That is the one theme running throughout the Tanakh. When Christianity came along, this theme was dropped altogether and now YHWH no longer cares about the promised land or prosperity for the Jews, but is now offering the hitherto unheard of “eternal life”. And “YHWH” says that if you don’t believe in his supposed son, then you will be thrown into a firey furnace (Matt 13:50) for all eternity. The role of the Jewish messiah, an instrument of YHWH’s promise of land and prosperity for the Jews (the model of which was the Biblical Joshua, which is Jesus in Greek), was changed into a spiritual savior offering eternal life.

Now for a nice bit of irony. Tisha B’Av is the day of mourning in Jewish tradition for the destruction of both the first and second Temple. Tisha means “ninth” in Hebrew. Christianity, being a Greek and Roman religion, was originally penned in Greek. The name “Jesus Christ” in Greek is Ιησου Χριστου; Christians copying their holy books by hand would abbreviate the “sacred name” Jesus Christ as IX. And what is IX in Roman numerals? An odd coincidence…

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Posted by on November 2, 2009 in anti-christ, christ, judaism, messiah

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