RECOGNIZE THIS MAN?
by Avram Yehoshua
(Endnotes in red)
There are many Jews who are so very insistent (for our good of course), that prophecies about Messiah in the Tenah (Hebrew Bible), don't relate to Jesus. They tell us emphatically that Jesus can't be the Messiah! Why? Because the lion hasn't laid down with the lamb, and the nations haven't beaten their swords into plowshares, and there is not peace in this world. And when Messiah comes, he will rule and reign forever in a Kingdom of Peace.
You would think, after hearing them, that they held the definitive answer on whether Yeshua was our Messiah or not. But these people who proclaim this, are only telling us half the truth. Perhaps some of our leaders, in their ignorance, have just echoed and parroted what they have heard from others. But I cannot believe that all our leaders are ignorant. An authority is supposed to know something of the subject that he is speaking of.
A question I have for you my Jewish brother or sister: do you know that the Rabbis, two thousand years ago, spoke of two Messiahs? In the Tenah there are two streams of messianic thought, so different, that the Rabbis could not reconcile them. For instance, one passage of Messiah contains that He will rule forever. Another passage has Messiah dying. So, the Rabbis thought that there would be two Messiah's and they named them accordingly: Messiah the Son of David; who would rule and reign and raise Israel up among the nations, the lion and the lamb lying down together, etc. And Messiah the Son of Joseph, who, like Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, was rejected by his brothers (Ruben, Simon, Levi, etc.). But not only did God raise him up to be 'second in command' under Pharaoh, Joseph was also a haven for his family, providing his brothers, the Sons of Israel, with food, safety, shelter and forgiveness. He could have killed them all but he forgave them. Have you ever heard of Messiah, the Son of Joseph? The Rabbis also call him the Leprous Messiah.
In Isaiah 53:3-4, the Messiah is seen as being despised and rejected by us, but nonetheless would carry our diseases and our sorrows. The Rabbis, seeing that the word nah-gu-ah1 is used, called him the Leprous Messiah. The word neh-gah is used over and over again in Leviticus 13-14, in relation to leprosy (Lev. 13:2-3, etc.) This is what Isaiah, the Prophet of God, said about our Messiah:He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, well familiar with suffering, and we hid our faces from him. He was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely our diseases he took upon himself, our sorrows he carried, yet we thought that he was stricken (nah-gu-ah), struck by God, afflicted. (Isaiah 53:3-4)Please note well: 'and we hid our faces from him.' '...and we esteemed Him not.' '...we thought that He was stricken, struck by God...' This describes the traditional stance toward Messiah Yeshua for the past 2,000 years by the Jewish Community. Rashi, who lived in the eleventh century, whom many Orthodox Jews venerate, determined for us that the Messiah spoken of here, actually meant 'us', Israel. And so today, this passage from Isaiah, held by Rabbis and Sages for 1500 years before Rashi, to be speaking of Messiah, was changed to mean 'us.' I know. It doesn't make any sense.
Why did he do it? I'm not certain, but in his time, anti-Semitism 'in the Name of Jesus' was rampant. Many Christians were using this passage in Isaiah to proclaim Jesus on one hand, and murder Jews on the other, who wouldn't accept Jesus. Rashi, I imagine, not in his role as scholar, for in that role he knew better, but in his role as shepherd, changed it so that we would have a defense. I admire his heart to help us, but not his ethics. It is totally unethical to twist and distort Scripture, for whatever the ends might be. In his times, most of the Rabbis came against his new interpretation. But Rashi's interpretation of Isaiah 53 is what you will find in most Jewish commentaries today. Is it valid? I invite you to determine if Rashi was right, or all the Rabbis before him. In the very next verse of Isaiah 53, we read this:But he was pierced through for our open rebellions, he was crushed for our perverse hearts, the punishment upon him, brought us shalom (Peace with Papa God), and by his stripes, we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)There is really no reasonable way to get around what Isaiah is saying. Israel's sins were being transferred to the Messiah. He would die in our place. That a literal piercing is meant, is supported by the Prophet Zechariah, 300 years after Isaiah spoke:'And I will pour out on the House of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look upon Me whom they have pierced...' (Zechariah 12:10)Why did Messiah have to be pierced and die? This was God's Way of making His People Israel righteous. I don't understand it, but I know that it's the Love of God for us. Messiah dying has provided the blood to cover, or to atone for our sins, what the Day of Atonement pictured. Aaron, our first High Priest, would enter the Holy of Holies, one day a year, with the blood of the goat, that Israel might be cleansed of all her sins (Leviticus 16). Why? So that God could dwell among us. The Blood of Messiah is the Fountain that Zechariah prophesied about just five verses later:'In that Day, a Fountain will be opened for the House of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. (Zechariah 13:1)This is exactly what Isaiah was speaking of, that Messiah would take our sins upon Himself. What will you do when you stand before our Holy God on Judgment Day? Do you think that prayer, fasting and the doing of good deeds will be enough for you to stand in His Presence? Where is that written? Isaiah states that 'all our righteousness is as filthy rags' (Is. 64:6). He goes on to say that:'the LORD was pleased to crush him (Messiah), He caused Him to suffer, making Himself a guilt offering, He will see His Seed, His days will be prolonged and the Will of the LORD will prosper in His Hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied. By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.' Isaiah 53:10-11The guilt offering was established by God to be a sacrifice where an Israelite could come and be forgiven of his sin (Leviticus 5). This was a picture of why the Leprous Messiah would die. Isaiah says the Messiah was a guilt offering (sacrifice), for Israel. And that the Servant of the LORD, Messiah, would make us righteous (justify us), bearing our iniquities. Jewish commentators now will tell you that Israel would bear its own sin and die for itself. But this is not what God says. Messiah ben Yosef, the Leprous Messiah, as the Rabbis call him. Can you even begin to fathom it? That our Messiah would be crucified?, by our own leaders? And that God would allow it? And yet, many times in our history, our leaders have rebelled against our God. Look at the Prophet Jeremiah and what our leaders did to him. And look what our leaders are giving you concerning Isaiah 53.
Now, let me turn to another perspective that has been maligned by our leaders; the virgin birth of Messiah, as the Prophet Isaiah spoke of. Many will laugh at that and say that 'it's not only impossible, but that isn't what Isaiah meant at all! The word for virgin that the Christians use, doesn't really mean virgin, but a young maiden.'
A Virgin?!'Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the maiden (almah), will conceive and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.' (Isaiah 7:14)Many Rabbis teach that Miryam (Mary), was raped by a Roman soldier, and that's how Jesus came to be. That is not true. The Rabbis, obviously made that up. It's certainly not what is written in the New Covenant. But it was designed to keep Jews like yourself from checking out the claims of Yeshua being the Messiah. Why? Because once a Jew hears that this is how Jesus was conceived, they would know that he couldn't be Messiah. The Law of Moses states that no one of illegitimate birth could enter the Assembly of the Lord (Deut. 23:2). How could one born like that be Messiah then?
Most traditional Jews who have studied this prophecy about our Messiah, will say that the Hebrew means, a young maiden. But every place in the Tenah where almah (or its plural) is used, it always refers to young maidens who are virgins. One such time is when Father Abraham sent his servant to get a wife for Isaac. I don't think the Rabbis would want to have almah translated as a young maiden who had known a man in this case:'behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden (almah), who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, 'Please let me drink a little water from your jar,' (Genesis 24:43)Rebeka was a virgin. Another instance where almah is used is the time when baby Moses, about three months old (Ex. 2:2), was floating down the Nile in his hovercraft. When Miryam, the sister of Moses, suggests to Pharaoh's daughter, that she would get a woman who could nurse the baby, the Scriptures call Miryam an almah. No one would suggest that Miryam had already known a man. She was a virgin. The third instance of almah is found in Proverbs 30:18-19:There are three things that are too amazing for me; four things that I don't understand: The way of the eagle in the sky; the way of the snake on the rock; the way of the ship in the heart of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid' (almah).Here too one would be hard pressed to say that the woman is anything but a virgin. These are all the times that 'almah' is used in the Bible. The plural of almah (alamot), is used in three other places. The understanding points to 'alamot' as virgins also. Song of Songs 6:8 has almah in the plural: 'Sixty are the queens; eighty are the concubines; and virgins (alamot) without number.'
There are two2 other places where the plural is used, that argument can be made that it can't explicitly be seen to be a reference to virgins. But it cannot be proven that they have known men either. Jewish commentaries take them to be virgins. The text does not declare them to be virgins, but the context does. There is not a hint that they are married, or have known a man. These are all the times where either almah or its plural, alamot, is used in relation to women. From the Hebrew word itself, and the Hebrew texts, almah is always used to refer to a young maiden who is obviously, a virgin.
The Septuagint, the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek by the Rabbis, 250 years (250 BCE), before Jesus came, is a very valuable tool. The Rabbis used the specific Greek word for virgin3 (par-thay-nos)4 in Isaiah 7:14. Therefore, before any controversy about Jesus being born of a virgin came into Christian understanding, the Rabbis believed that the virgin would conceive and bear a son, and that He, the Messiah, would be God with us. Isaiah's prophecy is cognizant of the impossibility of a virgin conceiving, but offsets it with the understanding that it will be a miracle:'Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign (oat); Behold! the virgin shall conceive and bear a son...' (Isaiah 7:14)The Hebrew word for 'sign' is 'oat' and means, 'a miracle.'5 Now, it's no miracle for a 'young maiden' to conceive. 'Young maidens' conceive all the time. But it is a miracle (sign), for a virgin to conceive. Is it coincidence or deliberate fraud, that the New Covenant proclaims this about Yeshua?
The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Miryam, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Yeshua. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. And the Lord God will give Him the Throne of His Father David and He will reign over the House of Jacob forever, and His Kingdom will have no end.' Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I am a virgin?' The angel answered and said to her, 'The Spirit of the Holy One will come upon you, and the Power of the Most High God will overshadow you. For that reason, the Holy Child shall be called the Son of God.' (1:30-35)
When Jewish leaders tell our People in their treatment of the text of Isaiah 7:14, that the word almah doesn't mean 'virgin' but a 'young maiden' implying that the woman is married or has known a man, they are being both dishonest and deceptive. I don't expect them to know much about the Greek Septuagint, but I do expect their knowledge of Hebrew to be adequate. For them to present almah to us and say that it doesn't mean virgin, is nothing less than manipulative and untrustworthy. They should be trying to come to the Truth, even if it means laying down their prejudices about Jesus. They should be telling us what our Hebrew Bible is declaring about Messiah, 'both' Messiahs. After all, if Jesus is our Messiah, they are fighting God Himself, and keeping people like you away from the Life that only Messiah can give you.
Read the Tenah, especially the prophesies about Messiah, the Son of Joseph (Ps. 22, 118:22-24; Is. 42, 49, 53, 61, etc). Ask God with all your heart, to lead you in this. He will. He delights in revealing His Truth to His People Israel. It isn't easy to overcome deep seated prejudices, but what worth is there in holding onto religious ideas that are anti-God?
When Joseph's brothers came to Egypt, they didn't recognize him whom they had despised and rejected. But Joseph provided for them and he forgave them. You may not have recognized Messiah till now. He desires to give you Forgiveness and Life today, and hope for tomorrow. Because He knows pain and rejection, He is able to heal your broken heart and to love you. He came once as the Leprous Messiah. He will come again as Messiah, the Son of David, to rule from his Throne forever. This, is the Word of God.
1. Benjamin Davidson, The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), pp. 533-534. Nah-gu-ah derives from the verb nah-gah which means, 'to touch with force and violence, to strike, to smote' as when God smites with disease. The word used in Leviticus 13-14 for leprosy is neh-gah (from nah-gah), and means, 'strike, blow, infliction of evil,' 'a plague, especially as divine judgment,' 'spot, mark, as of leprosy.' The fact that Isaiah says Messiah would carry our diseases and our sins (v. 5), and that the word 'to strike' is associated with leprosy, is why the Rabbis named him the Leprous Messiah.
2. '...among maidens (alamot), playing tambourines' (Psalm 68:26 Hebrew; 68:25 English). '...because of this, the maidens (alamot), love you.' (Song of Songs 1:3).
3. Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton, The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English (USA: Hendrickson Publishers, sixth printing, February, 1997, originally published in London, 1851), p. 842.
4. Wesley J. Perschbacher, editor, The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publications, 1990), p. 314. 'a virgin, maid...chaste...'
5. R. L. Harris, editor; Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, associate editors, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), p. 18. Most of the 80 occurrences of 'oat' refer to miraculous signs: all the plagues of Egypt; Isaiah 7:11, 14; the shadow advancing on the palace steps for King Hezekiah: 2nd Kings 20:9; Isaiah 38:7), etc. 'Oat' is used as 'sign' in both a concrete sense, as when it is used as a banner for each Tribe (Numbers 2:2ff), and in a conceptual sense, when it is used referring to the sign of Noah, the rainbow (Genesis 9:12-13, 17), circumcision (Genesis 17:11) and the Sabbath (Exodus 31:13, 17; Ezekiel 20:12), etc.
Email Avram — firstname.lastname@example.org
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