Messianic Expectations in 1st Century Judaism
--Documentation From Non-Christian Sources
Last update: 8/6/96
Every now and then I get an email like this one:
I am a Christian freshman at XXX. I really enjoy your homepage, and I have printed out a lot of
it to share with friends. One difficulty that I am encountering,
and that I wish you would spend some more time on, is the question
of whether Jesus was a failure as the Messiah of the Old Testament. I have several friends with whom I have taken up the discussion, and I showed them your answer to the question. However, one girl said that it was untrue that many Jews of Jesus' day saw him as the Messiah. She maintains that Jews of the day were really not expecting a Messiah, and that we Christians in retrospect have interpreted much of the OT as containing prophecies of a Messiah. She even says that the Gospel writers went back and created stories to fulfill "prophecy", such as when Jesus tells the people that the scroll of Isaiah has been fulfilled in him. She has a deep sympathy with the Jews, and seems to think that someone came in and falsely interpreted the Hebrew Bible as having prophecies of a messiah, and then attributing these to Jesus. I would really appreciate it if you would go into more depth on the topic, from the perspective of a first century Jew.
or I read a grossly Procrustean description of some 'normative Judaism' of the 1st century like this one :
Any Jew with a Pharisaic background (which would have been
anyone who was a contemporary of Jesus as well as all Jews today)
would have understood that the term "Christ" was a term used in a
physical sense to denote one who was claiming a political position.
Apart from the seriously mistaken notion that all of Jesus' contemporaries were of Pharisaic background (which seems to be based on James' uncritical use of the fringe-writer Maccoby!), this rather unexciting description of the messianic hope is so out of touch with biblical scholarship of today as to be worthless.
What this nets out to is the popular notion that either:
- The 1st century Jew HAD NO expectation of a Messiah-figure; or
- The 1st century Jewish expectation was of a purely natural, human-only, regular political leader.
Both of these positions are COMPLETELY mistaken--in the light of the 'HARD' data we have.
What I intend to do in this piece is to demonstrate--from the Jewish non-Christian sources--that not only was there a messianic expectation, but that it varied from group to group. That is, that some considered the Messiah to be a purely natural in-history political leader (albeit more powerful than the Romans), some considered the Messiah to be super-natural/super-angelic, some considered him to be an after-history universal King/Son of God, etc.--and some did not expect one at all.
And, to try to minimize attempted rebuttal, I will try to QUOTE the non-Christian source for the reader's inspection, being SURE to avoid passages that are considered to be Christian interpolations (i.e. 'insertions into the text'). I do not intend to be exhaustive in this. (I will intersperse a string of quotations from contemporary scholars on this issue, just to show how representative MY arguments are.)
Due to the nature of some of these documents (not all of which have been translated into English), some of the citations I will NOT be able to provide the text of (except where an authority has rendered it in some scholarly discussion.)
[The major resource works I am using here are: NWNTI, JTM, BPM, DSST, SS, TM, LTJM, CTM. The citations from the Apocrypha are from CASA or HCSB, the Jewish Pseudepigrapha are from OTP, Dead Sea Scrolls from DSSTQTE et. al., rabbinix from various. The citations of scholarly opinion I have taken MAINLY from authorities that would NOT be considered "conservative" or "evangelical."]
One methodological issue that needs to be brought up here concerns how we will identify 'messianic' passages. If a text describes a future, super-human ruler WITHOUT ascribing Davidic status to him, will that 'disqualify' the passage?! Some actually approach it this way (e.g. TM:11-12), but the image-complex of the messianic figure is FAR too big to be so narrowly approached. So, BPM:100...
It is inappropriate to speak of a Jewish expectation of "the Messiah" at this point because few of the extant late prophecies that shaped Jewish hopes even use the term anointed. The focus on the new David or a descendant of David, moreover, was by no means the only image of Jewish hopes for a revived or eschatological kingship. Some of the scriptural texts most important to the hopes of later generations of Judeans contained no explicit language of "anointed" or "branch (shoot, horn, son) of David." There was rather, for example, a focus on "the scepter" or "a star," as in Gen. 49.10 and Num 24.17 respectively.
So also Evans (NWNTI:239):
Although "messiah" (i.e. "anointed one," from Heb. masah/Gk. chriein) is often understood in terms of the royal "son of David," in reality messianic concepts in late antiquity were quite diverse. If we understand "messiah" to mean one who believes himself to be anointed by God in order to play a leading role in the restoration of Israel, a restoration which may or may not involve the Davidic monarchy, then it is correct to speak of anointed kings, anointed prophets, and anointed priests. ...All of these categories are rooted in biblical and historical precedents.
So, our research will consider passages interpreted messianically in this sense--not look for a rigid linguistic form(!), but rather for an eschatological hope of Israel--that "God would visit His people with salvation" somehow. [I will also EXCLUDE from consideration 'simple' apocalyptic passages (i.e. dealing with the end-times future events) IF there is no data therein concerning a 'messianic individual'.]
One final practical matter...I will create the outline of citations FIRST, and then go back and type in the textual data (in some cases, I have to visit the library--esp. for some of the rabbinical quotes).
The Jewish non-Christian writings that can be used to determine 1st century Jewish thinking are as follows:
- The Septuagint (LXX) translation of the OT [250 BC]. This translation of the Hebrew OT (into Greek) was done by Jewish scholars of pre-Christian date. In some cases they 'smuggled' THEIR interpretations into the translation. In some of these cases, they make their messianic interpretations EXPLICIT, by putting them INTO THE TRANSLATION. By comparing the Hebrew OT passage with the LXX version of the same passage, we can sometimes uncover messianic interpretations of OT passages--indicating messianic expectations in pre-Christian Jewry.
- Jewish Apocrypha - almost all of the material of these 15 books was written in the 1st/2nd centuries BC., and as such give us visibility into the thoughts of 1st century Judaism.
- Jewish Pseudepigrapha - many of these writings pre-date, or are contemporaneous with, the NT. As such they represent writings/sentiments present in 1st century Judaism.
- Dead Sea Scrolls - these writings ALL either pre-date the NT or are contemporaneous with it. As such THEY represent writings/sentiments present in 1st century Judaism (and often anti-Pharisaic, I might add--with a wink at James Still).
- The works of Philo and Josephus--both are either pre-NT or simul-NT. They will give us some data on messianic expectations.
- The Targums. These were Aramaic translations of the Hebrew OT, that apparently circulated during the time of Jesus (e.g. there are Targums of Job and Lev. in the Dead Sea Scrolls). Although these documents were written down AFTER the NT period, these represent typically VERY ancient understandings of OT passages. If the Targums interpreted OT passages messianically, this generally indicates that ancient Jewry had messianic expectations. We also know that targums circulated BEFORE the NT times, since some of them were found at Qumran.
- Hebrew Bible, as interpreted by early (tannaic) rabbinical writers, as they wrote commentaries on OT passages. If the earliest rabbis interpreted OT passages messianically, then this is strong evidence that the sources THEY used--1st century rabbis--held messianic expectations.) Like the targums, although these documents were written down AFTER the NT period, these often represent VERY ancient understandings of OT passages.
- Historical data on messianic claimants. If we find "early, frequent, and easy" popular acceptance of messianic claimants (esp. of varying shapes, colors, and sizes...) this will constitute data as to the popular expectation of messianic figures.
Let's look at the source data now...
- The Septuagint (LXX) translation of the OT. [LTJM:121]
- Gen 49.10 (Hebrew):The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs
and the obedience of the nations is his. WITH the LXX version:
A ruler shall not fail from Judah, or a prince from his loins, until there come the things stored up for him; and he is the expectation of the nations.
- Num 24.7 (Heb): Water will flow from their buckets;
their seed will have abundant water.
"Their king will be greater than Agag;
their kingdom will be exalted. WITH the LXX version:
There shall come a man out of his seed, and he shall rule over many nations; and the kingdom of God shall be exalted, and his kingdom shall be increased.(!)
- Num 24.17 (Heb): "I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
a scepter will rise out of Israel.
He will crush the foreheads of Moab,
the skulls of all the sons of Sheth. WITH the LXX version:
I will point to him, but not now; I bless him, but he draws not near: a star shall rise out of Jacob, a man shall spring out of Israel; and shall crush the princes of Moab, and shall spoil all the sons of Seth.
- Ps 72.5,7 (Heb): He will endure as
long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations....In his days the righteous will flourish;
prosperity will abound till the moon is no more. WITH the LXX version:
And he shall continue as long as the sun, and before the moon forever...In his days shall righteousness spring up; and abundance of peace till the moon be removed.
- Ps 110.3 (Heb): Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth. WITH the LXX version:
With thee is dominion in the day of thy power, in the splendors of thy saints: I have begotten thee from the womb before the MorningStar.
- Is 9.6 (Heb): For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. WITH the LXX version:
For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger/Angel of the Great Council.
(cf. the Targum: "the Angel of the Face"!)
- Jewish Apocrypha [NWNTI:18]
- 2 Esdr 7.26-30: "For indeed the time will come, when the signs that I have foretold to you will come to pass, that the city that now is not seen shall appear, and the land that now is hidden shall be disclosed. Everyone who has been delivered from the evils that I have foretold shall see my wonders. For my son the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him, and those who remain shall rejoice four hundred years. After those years my son the Messiah shall die, and all who draw human breath. Then the world shall be turned back to primeval silence for seven days, as it was at the first beginnings, so that no one shall be left."
- 2 Esdr 12.31-34: "as for the lion whom you saw rousing up out of the forest and roaring and speaking up to the eagle and reproving him for his unrighteousness, and as for all his words that you have heard, this is the Messiah whom the Most High has kept until the end of days, who will arise from the offspring of David, and will come and speak with them. He will denounce them for their ungodliness and for their wickedness, and will display before them their contemptuous dealings. For first he will bring them alive before his judgment seat, and when he has reproved them, then he will destroy them. But in mercy he will set free the remnant of my people, those who have been saved..."
- 2 Esdr 13.3: the vision--"As I kept looking the wind made something like the figure of a man come up out of the heart of the sea. And I saw that this man flew with the clouds of heaven" with the explanation in 13.25--"This is the interpretation of the vision: As for your seeing a man come up from the heart of the sea, this is he whom the Most High has been keeping for many ages, who will himself deliver his creation;" and in 13.32: "When these things take place and the signs occur that I showed you before, then my Son will be revealed, whom you saw as a man coming up from the sea."
- 2 Esdr 13.36-37: "But he shall stand on the top of Mount Zion. And Zion shall come and be made manifest to all people, prepared and built, as you saw the mountain carved out without hands. Then he, my Son, will reprove the assembled nations for their ungodliness..."
- 2 Esdr 13.52: "He said to me, 'Just as no one can explore or know what is in the depths of the sea, so no one on earth can see my Son or those who are with him, except in the time of his day."
- 2 Esdr 14.9: "for you shall be taken up from among humankind, and henceforth you shall live with my Son and with those who are like you, until the times are ended."
- [Note: 2 Esdr 3-14, from which the above passages are taken, is also known in the literature as 4 Ezra, and strictly speaking, is part of the Pseudepigrapha (NWNTI:22). It dates 1st century AD.]
- From the introduction in CASA: "The messianic figure in chs 11-12 is described as of Davidic origin, pre-existent, Son of Man (in the Dan 7 tradition), the Elect One (as in 1 Enoch), and a Second Moses." (CASA: xxxi).
- 1st Maccabees, generally considered the LEAST messianic (maybe even anti-messianic) of the OT Apoc, still has mild statements recognizing the need for, and expected appearance of, the 'trustworthy prophet' of Deut 18.15. Compare:
1 Macc 4.46: "and stored the stones (sacred altar stones) in a convenient place on the temple hill until a prophet should come to tell what to do with them."
1 Macc 9.27: "So there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them."
1 Macc 14.41: "The Jews and their priests have resolved that Simon should be their leader and high priest forever, until a trustworthy prophet should arise."
- [Note: The author of 1 Maccabees is familiar with Dan 7, and also narrates some apocalyptic scenes, such as the resurrection. That the Davidic line is NOT mentioned in connection with these events seem odd, given that others writing in the period (1 Enoch, PssSol) make it clear that the connection was commonly held. It is to be remembered, as Goldstein points out in JTM:92-95, n.34, 93, that the author of 1 Maccabees was a pro-Hasmonean propagandist, who at least hints that the dynasty of David was not 'for ever' (2.57) but only until the time of the Maccabees! (Hence the complaint in PssSol that the Hasmoneans had usurped the rights of David--PssSol 17.4-6.)]
- Jewish Pseudepigrapha
- I Enoch 46.1ff: "At that place, I saw the One to whom belongs the time before time. And his head was white like wool, and there was with him another individual, whose face was like that of a human being. His countenance was full of grace like that of one among the holy angels...'Who is this?'...And he answered me and said, 'This is the Son of Man, to whom belongs righteousness, and with whom righteousness dwells.... this Son of Man whom you have seen is the One who would remove the kings and the mighty ones from their comfortable seats and the strong ones from their thrones..."
- I Enoch 48.2-10: "At that hour, that Son of Man was given a name, in the presence of the Lord of the Spirits, the Before-Time; even before the creation of the sun and the moon, before the creation of the stars, he was given a name in the presence of the Lord of the Spirits. He will become a staff for the righteous ones in order that they may lean on him and not fall. He is the light of the gentiles and he will become the hope of those who are sick in their hearts. All those who dwell upon the earth shall fall and worship before him; they shall glorify, bless, and sing the name of the Lord of the Spirits. For this purpose he became the Chosen One; he was concealed in the presence of (the Lord of the Spirits) prior to the creation of the world, and for eternity. And he has revealed the wisdom of the Lord of the Spirits to the righteous and holy ones, for he has preserved the portion of the righteous because they have hated and despised this world of oppression (together with) all its ways of life and its habits and it is his good pleasure that they have life. ...For they (the wicked kings and landowners) have denied the Lord of the Spirits and his Messiah."
- I Enoch 51.3: the "Elect One will sit on [God's] throne"
- I Enoch 52.4: "And he said to me, 'All these things which you have seen happen by the authority of his Messiah so that he may give orders and be praised upon the earth'"
- I Enoch 62.5: "...and pain shall seize them when they see that Son of Man sitting on the throne of his glory"
- I Enoch 62.7: "For the Son of Man was concealed from the beginning, and the Most High One preserved him in the presence of his power; then he revealed him to the holy and elect ones."
- I Enoch 62.14: "The Lord of the Spirits will abide over them; they shall eat and rest and rise with that Son of Man forever and ever..."
- I Enoch 69.29: "Thenceforth nothing that is corruptible shall be found; for that Son of Man has appeared and has seated himself upon the throne of his glory; and all evil shall disappear from before his face; he shall go and tell to that Son of Man, and he shall be strong before the Lord of the Spirits."
- I Enoch 70.1: "And it happened after this that his living name was raised up before that Son of Man and to the Lord from among those who dwell upon the earth..."
- I Enoch 105.2: " Until I (the Lord of v.1) and my son are united with them forever in the upright paths in their lifetime..."
- [Note: from the introduction to I Enoch in OTP: vol 1, 9: "The Messiah in 1 Enoch, called the Righteous One, and the Son of Man, is depicted as a pre-existent heavenly being who is resplendent and majestic, possesses all dominion, and sits on his throne of glory passing judgment upon all mortal and spiritual beings"--a human political leader, eh?!]
- Sibylline Oracles 3.285f: "And then the heavenly God will send a king and will judge each man in blood and the gleam of fire. There is a certain royal tribe whose race will never stumble. This too, as time pursues its cyclic course, will reign, and it will begin to raise up a new temple of God."
- Sibylline Oracles 3.652-655: "And then God will send a King from the sun who will stop the entire earth from evil war, killing some, imposing oaths of loyalty on others; and he will not do all these things by his private plans but in obedience to the noble teachings of the great God."
- Sibylline Oracles 5.108f: "..then a certain king sent from God against him will destroy all the great kings and noble men. Thus there will be judgment on men by the imperishable one" with 5.414f: "For a blessed man came from the expanses of heaven with a scepter in his hands which God gave him, and he gained sway over all things well, and gave back the wealth to all the good, which previous men had taken. He destroyed every city from its foundations with much fire and burned nations of mortals who were formerly evildoers."
- [Note: The citations from Sibyl--book 3 above CAN be understood to refer to simple earthly kings like Cyrus OR can be seen as typological in scope. The refs in chapter 5, on the other hand, are purely of a heavenly savior figure--Collins, OTP: vol 1.392.]
- Psalms of Solomon 17.21-18.9: (Both chapters 17 and 18 of this document draw quite a detailed portrait of a coming Davidic messiah. Since the entire text is almost 60 verses long, I cannot reproduce it in its entirety. What I will do instead, is simply quote fragments of these two chapters and hope the reader will investigate further in OTP if desired:)
- "See, Lord (the misery of 17.1-20), and raise up for them their king, the son of David, to rule over your servant Israel..." (17.21)
- "And he will be a righteous king over them, taught by God. There will be no unrighteousness among them in his days, for all shall be holy, and their king shall be the Lord Messiah." (17.32)
- "And he will not weaken in his days, (relying) upon his God, for God made him powerful in the holy spirit and wise in the counsel of understanding, with strength and righteousness." (17.37)
- "This is the beauty of the king of Israel which God knew, to raise him over the house of Israel to discipline it" (17.42)
- "May God cleanse Israel for the day of mercy in blessing, for the appointed day when his Messiah will reign. Blessed are those born in those days, to see the good things of the Lord which he will do for the coming generation; (which will be) under the rod of discipline of the Lord Messiah..." (18.5-7)
- 2 Baruch (Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch) 29.3f: "And it will happen that when all that which should come to pass in these parts has been accomplished, the Anointed One will begin to be revealed."
- 2 Baruch (Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch) 30.1: "And it will happen after these things when the time of the appearance of the Anointed One has been fulfilled and he returns with glory, that then all who sleep in hope of him will rise." [Klijn, in OTP in loc., understands this as referring to the pre-existence of the Anointed One.]
- 2 Baruch(Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch) 39:7: "And it will happen when the time of its fulfillment is approaching in which it will fall, that at that time the dominion of my Anointed One which is like the fountain and the vine, will be revealed..."
- 2 Baruch (Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch) 40.1f: "And they will carry him (the last wicked king) on Mount Zion, and my Anointed One will convict him of all his wicked deeds and will assemble and set before him all the works of his hosts. And after these things he will kill him and protect the rest of my people who will be found in the place that I have chosen. And his dominion will last forever until the world of corruption has ended and until the times which have been mentioned before have been fulfilled."
- 2 Baruch (Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch) 72.2: "After the signs have come of which I have spoken to you before, when the nations are moved and the time of my Anointed One comes, he will call all nations, and some of them he will spare, and others he will kill..."
- Testament of Levi 18:2ff: "And then the Lord will raise up a new priest to whom all the words of the Lord will be revealed. He shall effect the judgment of truth over the earth for many days. And his star shall rise in heaven like a king...This one will shine forth like the sun in the earth...The heavens shall rejoice in his days and the earth shall be glad; the clouds will be filled with joy and the knowledge of the Lord will be poured out on the earth like the water of the seas...And the glory of the Most High shall burst forth upon him. And the spirit of understanding and sanctification shall rest upon him...In his priesthood sin will cease and lawless men shall find rest in him...And he shall open the gates of paradise...he will grant to the saints to eat of the tree of life..."
- [Note: Charlesworth, in OTP, in loc., notes that the tradition of TWO messiahs--one king, one priest--show up in many places in the Testaments and in Qumran.]
- Testament of Judah 24: "And after this there shall arise for you a Star from Jacob in peace: And a man shall arise from my posterity like the Sun of Righteousness, walking with the sons of men in gentleness and righteousness, and in him will be found no sin. And the heavens will be opened upon him to pour out the spirit as a blessing of the Holy Father. And he will pour the spirit of grace on you. And you shall be sons in truth, and you will walk in his first and final decrees. This is the Shoot of God Most High; this is fountain for the life of all humanity. Then he will illumine the scepter of my kingdom, and from your root shall arise the Shoot, and through it will arise the rod of righteousness for the nations, to judge and to save all that call on the Lord."(!)
- [Note: Charlesworth, OTP, in loc., calls this a 'mosaic of eschatological expectations' involving Num 24.17, Mal 4.2, Ps 45.4 (LXX), Is 53.9, Is 11.2, Is 61.11, Joel 3.1, and all the 'branch' passages--Is 11.1; Jer 23.5; 33.15; Zech 3.8; 6.12!]
- Testament of Benjamin 9:2: "The twelve tribes shall be gathered there and all the nations, until such time as the Most High shall send forth his salvation through the ministration of the unique prophet." (In addition to eschat-priests and eschat-kings, we have an eschat-prophet! Charlesworth notes in loc. that this prophet figures prominently in Qumran and shows up in PssJosh 5-8.)
- Dead Sea Scrolls
- 4QAramaic Apocalypse (4Q246), col. II: "He will be called the Son of God, and they will call him the son of the Most High...His kingdom will be an eternal kingdom...The earth will be in truth and all will make peace. The sword will cease in the earth, and all the cities will pay him homage. He is a great god among the gods... His kingdom will be an eternal kingdom..."
- CD (Damascus Document), col XII, 23: "Those who walk in them, in the time of wickedness until there arises the messiah of Aaron" and col XX, 1: "of the unique Teacher until there arises the messiah of Aaron and Israel".
- CD (Damascus Document), col XIV, 19: "until there arises the messiah of Aaron and Israel. He shall atone for their sins..."
- 1QS (The Rule of the Community), col 9, vs 9b-11: "They should not depart from any counsel of the law in order to walk in complete stubbornness of their heart, but instead shall be ruled by the first directives which the men of the Community began to be taught until the prophet comes, and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel"
- 4QFlor (Florilegium, 4Q174) frags 1-3, col I, v10ff: And [2 Sam 7.12-14 cited] 'YHWH declares to you that he will build you a house. I will raise up your seed after you and establish the throne of this kingdom for ever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me'... This refers to the branch of David who will arise with the Interpreter of the law who will rise up in Zion in the last days, as it is written [Amos 9.11 cited here] 'I will raise up the hut of David which has fallen'...This refers to the 'hut of David which has fallen' who will arise to save Israel..."
- 4Q252 frag 1, col5): [on Gen 49.10]: "A sovereign shall not be removed from the tribe of Judah. While Israel has the dominion, there will not lack someone who sits on the throne of David. For the staff is the covenant of royalty, the thousands of Israel are the feet. Until the messiah of justice comes, the branch of David. For to him and to his descendants has been given the covenant of royalty over his people for all everlasting generations..."
- VanderKam, in DSST:117:"At the end of history, for which the covenanters were preparing by obeying God's revealed and hidden demands, the almighty Lord will intervene. He will then send the great leaders of the future--a prophet and the Davidic and priestly messiahs--who, along with the hosts of the sons of light, will take part in the ultimate divine victory over evil...The Qumran belief about two messiahs has received much attention, and the evidence for this article of expectation has increased in recent years"
- Collins, in SS:77: "There is, then, impressive evidence that the Dead Sea sect expected two messiahs, one royal and one priestly."
- The works of Philo and Josephus
- [The LXX read "man" for "scepter" in Num 24.17, and Philo interprets "man" as a warrior]
- The Life of Moses I:289-290: "There shall come forth from you one day a man, and he shall rule over many nations and his kingdom spreading every day shall be exalted on high"
- On Rewards and Punishments 95: "there shall come forth a man, says the oracle (Num 24.7 LXX), and leading his host to war he will subdue great and populous nations"
- "To Philo, the special theological role of the Jewish nation is central, both on the historical and the cosmic/universal level, as well as within the context of futuristic eschatology. The expectation of a messianic emperor is not as central, but it forms a natural and integral part of the thinking of Philo, since he emphasizes the role of Moses as king and entertains an ideology of kingship as part of the Jewish legislation. Accordingly, the concept of a future messianic emperor is not an alien element in his exegesis and in his expectations for the future." (Borgen, "Reflections on Messianic Ideas in Philo", TM:360-361.)
- [Josephus gives us much historical detail about self-proclaimed and popularly-embraced 'messiahs' of the period. As such, these would only document the popular belief in messianix, not necessarily his own. But this will suffice for my point here--that there WERE significant (if ill-formed) expectations of heaven-sent deliverance by one 'anointed' and/or 'inspired by God' to the task. I will cite two texts from J. that show BOTH the claimants' use of an appeal to being 'inspired/anointed/selected by God' for the task AS WELL AS a more 'legitimate' understanding of sovereignly-appointed leadership.
- Jewish War 2.258-60: "Besides these there arose another body of villains, with purer hands but more impious intentions, who no less that the assassins ruined the peace of the city. Deceivers and impostors, under the pretense of divine inspiration fostering revolutionary changes, they persuaded the multitude to act like madmen, and led them out into the desert under the belief that God would give them tokens of deliverance."
- Jewish War 6.312-13: "What more than all else incited them to the war was an ambiguous oracle, likewise found in their sacred scriptures, to the effect that at that time one from their country would become ruler of the world. This they understood to mean someone of their own race, and many of their wise men went astray in their interpretation of it. The oracle, however, in reality signified the sovereignty of Vespasian, who was proclaimed Emperor on Jewish soil."
- [Notice in the above quote that J. HELD TO the belief of a prophesied emperor, but differed on the identification of the figure(!), and that the phrase 'many of their wise men' probably indicates that the messianic expectation was (a) widespread and (b) not confined to the less-educated populace.]
- The Targums. [The word 'messiah' occurs in the following places (with the exception of the Ezek passages)...source: S.H. Levey, The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Monograph of the Hebrew Union College 2: Cincinnati: 1974.--cited with chart at NWNTI:108.]
- Gen 3.15 (Pseudo-Jonathan): "They are destined to make peace at the end, in the days of King Messiah"
- Gen 3.15 (Frg.): "They will make peace with one another in the end, in the very end of days, in the days of King Messiah"
- Gen 3.15 (Neof.):
- Gen 35.21 (Ps.-J): "And Jacob moved on, and pitched his tent onward to the tower of Eder, the place whence the King Messiah is destined to reveal himself at the end of days"
- Gen 49.1 (Ps.-J): "As soon as the date of the End when the King Messiah would arrive was revealed to him..."
- Gen 49.1 (Frg.): "For he was revealing to them all that was going to occur at the very end, the time of the Messiah."
- Gen 49.10-12 (Onq.): "The transmission of dominion shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor the scribe from his children's children, forever, until the Messiah comes, to whom the Kingdom belongs, and whom nations will obey."
- Gen 49.10-12 (Ps.-J): "Kings and rulers shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor scribes who teach the Torah from his seed, until the time when the King Messiah shall come, the youngest of his sons, and because of him nations shall melt away....How beautiful is the King Messiah who is destined to arise from the house of Judah...How beautiful are the eyes of King Messiah, as pure wine!"
- Gen 49.10-12 (Frg.): "Kings shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor scribes who teach the Torah from his children's children, until the time of the coming of King Messiah, to whom belongs the Kingdom, and to whom all dominions of the earth shall become subservient...How beautiful is he, King Messiah, who is destined to arise from the house of Judah....How beautiful to behold are they, the eyes of the King Messiah..."
- Gen 49.10-12 (Neof.):
- Exod 12.42 (Frg.): "Moses shall go forth from the wilderness and the King Messiah from Rome..."
- Exod 12.42 (Neof.):
- Exod 17.16 (Ps.-J): "from the generation of this world, and from the generation of the Messiah, and from the generation of the World-to-Come."
- Exos 40.9-11 (Ps.-J): "...and consecrate it for the crown of the kingdom of the house of Judah and King Messiah, who is destined to redeem Israel at the end of days...and from whom is to descend the Messiah son of Ephraim, by whose hand the house of Israel is to vanquish God and his confederates at the end of days."
- Num 11.26 (Frg.): "At the end, the very end of days, Gog and Magog and their armies shall go up against Jerusalem, but they shall fall by the hand of the King Messiah."
- Num 11.26 (Neof.):
- Num 23.21 (Ps.-J): "The Memra (word) of the Lord their God is their help, and the trumpet-call of the King Messiah echoes in their midst."
- Num 24.7 (Frg.): "Their king shall arise from among them, and their deliverer shall be of them and with them...Exalted shall be the kingdom of the King Messiah."
- Num 24.7 (Neof.):
- Num 24.17-24 (Onq.): "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but he is not hear; when a king shall arise out of Jacob and be anointed the Messiah out of Israel."
- Num 24.17-24 (Ps.-J): "...but when a mighty king of the house of Jacob shall reign, and shall be anointed Messiah, wielding the mighty scepter of Israel....to wage war against Israel, in the days of the King Messiah...and those shall fall by the hand of the King Messiah..."
- Num 24.17-24 (Neof.):
- Deut 25.19 (Ps,-J.): "Even unto the days of King Messiah, you shall not forget."
- Deut 30.4-9 (Ps.-J.): "and from there he shall bring you near by the hand of the King Messiah..."
- I Sam 2.7-10: "He shall give strength to His king, and shall make great the kingdom of His Messiah"
- I Sam 2.35: "I will raise up before Me a trustworthy priest, who shall minister according to My word and My will, and I will establish for him an enduring reign and he shall serve my Messiah all the days."
- 2 Sam 22.28-32: "and the deliverance which Thou shalt perform for Thy Messiah and for the remnant of Thy people..."
- 2 Sam 23.1-5: "...Said David, the son of Jesse, said the man who was anointed to the Messianic Kingship by the Memra of the God of Jacob...God spoke to me...and He decided to appoint for me a king, he is the Messiah, who is destined to arise and rule in the fear of the Lord..."
- 1 Kgs 5.13: "who were destined to rule in this world and in the world of the Messiah"
- Isa 4.1-6: "At that time the Messiah of the Lord shall be a joy and an honor..."
- Isa 9.5-6: "The Prophet announced to the house of David that: 'A boy has been born unto us, a son has been given unto us, who has taken the Torah upon himself to guard it; and his name has been called by the One who gives wonderful counsel, the Mighty God, He who lives forever; 'Messiah', in whose day peace shall abound for us."
- Isa 10.24-27: "...and the nations shall be shattered before the Messiah."
- Isa 11.1-16: "And a king shall come forth from the sons of Jesse, and the Messiah shall be anointed from among his children's children. And upon him shall rest the spirit of divine prophecy, the spirit of wisdom and sagacity, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord...In the days of Israel's Messiah, peace shall abound in the land; the wolf shall dwell with the lamb..."
- Isa 14.29-30: "...for the Messiah shall come forth from the descendants of Jesse..."
- Isa 16.1-5: "They shall send tribute to the mighty Messiah of Israel...Then the Messiah of Israel shall establish his throne in goodness, and shall occupy it in truth, in the city of David, judging, demanding justice and doing righteousness."
- Isa 28.5-6: "At that time the Messiah of the Lord of Hosts shall be a wreath of joy..."
- Isa 42.1-9: "Behold, My servant, the Messiah, whom I bring near, My chosen one, in whom my Memra takes delight; I will place My holy spirit upon him, and he shall reveal My law to the nations..."
- Isa 43.10: "'You are My witnesses before Me', says the Lord, 'and My servant is the Messiah, whom I have chosen..."
- Isa 52.13-53.12: "Behold, My servant the Messiah shall prosper; he shall be exalted and great and very powerful...It is the will of the Lord to purify and to acquit as innocent the remnant of his people, to cleanse their souls of sin, so that they may see the kingdom of their Messiah..."
- Jer 23.1-8: "'Behold, days are coming,' says the Lord, 'when I will raise up for David a righteous Messiah, and he shall reign as king..."
- Jer 30.8-11: "But they shall worship the Lord their God and obey the Messiah, the son of David, their king, whom I will raise up for them..."
- Jer 30.21: "Their king shall be anointed from them, and their Messiah shall be revealed from among themselves..."
- Jer 33.12-26: "...the people shall yet rehearse the words of the Messiah...In those days and at that time, I will raise up for David a righteous Messiah..."
- Ezek 17.22-24: "Thus says the Lord God, 'I Myself will bring near a child from the dynasty of the house of David, which is likened to the tall cedar, and I will raise him up from this children's children; I will anoint him and establish him by My Memra like a high and exalted mountain."
- Ezek 34.20-31: "I will set up over them one leader who shall provide for them, My servant David..."
- Ezek 37.21-28: "And my servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one leader; and they shall walk in My laws and shall keep my statutes and observe them...and David my servant shall be their king forever..."
- Hos 3.3-5: "After that the children of Israel shall repent and seek the worship of the Lord their God, and they shall obey the Messiah, the son of David, their king, and he shall direct them to the worship of the Lord..."
- Hos 14.5-8: "They shall be gathered in from their Dispersion, shall live in the shade of the Messiah..."
- Mic 4.8: "And you, O Messiah of Israel, who have been hidden away from the sins of the congregation of Zion, the kingdom is destined to come to you..."
- Mic 5.1-3: "And you, O Bethlehem Ephrath (sic), you who were too small to be numbered among the thousands of the house of Judah, from you shall come forth before Me the Messiah, to exercise dominion over Israel, he whose name was mentioned from before, from the days of creation."
- Hab 3.17-18: "...which Thou shalt perform for Thy Messiah and for the remnant of Thy people..."
- Zech 3.8: "Behold, I bring My servant, the Messiah, who is to be revealed."
- Zech 4.7: "For He shall reveal His Messiah, whose name was called from the beginning, and he shall have dominion over all the kingdoms."
- Zech 6.12-13: "Behold the man whose name is 'The Messiah.' He is destined to be revealed and to be anointed, and he shall build the Temple of the Lord..."
- Zech 10.4: "Out of him comes his king, out of him comes his Messiah..."
- Ps 18.28-32 [ET 27-31]: "...Thou shalt perform for Thy Messiah..."
- Ps 21.1-8: "O Lord, the King Messiah shall be happy in Thy strength...for the King Messiah trusts in the Lord..."
- Ps 45.7-18: "Your beauty, O King Messiah, surpasses that of ordinary men..."
- Ps 61.7-9 [ET 6-8]: "Days in addition to the days of the World-to-Come are the days of the King Messiah...and on the day that the King Messiah is anointed king."
- Ps 72.1-20: "O God, give the King Messiah the laws of Thy justice, and Thy righteousness to the son of King David....
- Ps 80.15-18 [ET 14-17]: "And the stock which Thy right hand planted and upon the King Messiah who Thou hast made strong for Thyself..."
- Ps 89.51-52: "...they have scoffed at the delay of the footsteps of Thy Messiah, O Lord"
- Ps 132.10-18: "...there I will make sprout a glorious king for the house of David; I have prepared a lamp for My Messiah..."
- Song 1.8: "...until I send the King Messiah..."
- Song 1.17: "...in the days of the King Messiah..."
- Song 4.5: "...and the Messiah the son of Ephraim..."
- Song 7.4: "Your two deliverers who are destined to deliver you, the Messiah the son of David and the Messiah the son of Ephraim..." (!)
- Song 7.12-14: "...And when it shall be the will of the Lord to deliver His people from the Dispersion, He shall say to the King Messiah:..."
- Song 8.1-4: "And at that time the King Messiah will be revealed to the congregation of Israel...I will conduct you, O King Messiah...The King Messiah will say: ..."
- Ruth 1.1: "...from the day on which the world was created until the coming of the King Messiah, by which to chastise those who dwell on the earth..."
- Ruth 3.15: "...David, Daniel and his companions, and the King Messiah..."
- Lam 2.22: "Mayest Thou proclaim liberty to Thy people on the house of Israel by the hand of the King Messiah..."
- Lam 4.22: "...you shall be delivered by the hands of the King Messiah..."
- Qoh 1.11: "...that are to follow among the generations that shall be during the days of the King Messiah."
- Qoh 7.24: "...and of the day of death and of the day when the King Messiah will come who can find it out by his wisdom?"
- Esth (II) 1.1: "The ninth is that of the Messiah the son of David" (the targumist explained that Ahasuerus was the 6th of 10 kings--and he detailed the ten).
- 1 Chr 3.24: "...and Anani, who is the King Messiah who is destined to be revealed..."
[Notice: these 60+ passages MENTION the word 'messiah'-there are others that refer to messianic images/hopes/themes!]
Levey summarizes the portrait of the Messiah in the Targums thus (op.cit., pp.142f):
The Messiah will be the symbol and/or the active agent of the deliverance of Israel. He will be of Davidic lineage, though he may have a non-Davidic predecessor, the Ephraimite Messiah, who will die in battle. Elijah will herald his coming and will serve as His High Priest. A world conflict will rage between Rome, variously identified with Gog, Amalek, Edom, and Armilus, on the one hand, and Assyria or Eber, on the other, indicating that to the Targumist, Assyria and not Babylon was the real enemy of Israel, and this will result in the annihilation of both at the time of the Messianic advent; the enemies of Israel will be shattered either by divine or Messianic intervention. The Messiah will bring an end to the wandering of Israel, and the Jewish people will be gathered in from their Dispersion to their own land; The Northern Kingdom will be re-united with Judah. The drama of the Exodus from Egypt will be re-enacted; in this drama Moses may participate, made possible by a resurrection of the dead. The Messiah will live eternally. He will restore the Temple and rebuild Jerusalem, which will enjoy divine protection for itself and its inhabitants. He will have sovereignty over all the world and make the Torah the universal law of mankind, with the ideal of education being realized to the full. The Messiah will have the gift of prophecy, and may have intercessory power to seek forgiveness of sin, but he will punish the unrepenting wicked of his people, as well as of the nations, and have the power to cast them into Gehenna. There will be a moral regeneration of Israel and of mankind. The Messiah will be a righteous judge, dispensing justice and equity, the champion of the poor and the oppressed, the personification of social justice. He will reward the righteous, who will surround him and eternally enjoy the divine effulgence. The essence of the Messiah will be faith in God; and he will vindicate that faith, and the faithfulness of Israel, in the eyes of all the world.
- Early (tannaic) rabbinical writers
[Edersheim's appendix lists 456 references in the early rabbinix to the messiah or messianic times, and admits his work is incomplete! (LTJM:981, appendix 9). He also admits of only counting a reference ONCE instead of ALL the TIMES it might occur in the writings. There is some overlap with the Targumic material, since E. includes it in his material--but I have removed those references in the below list. I will give the texts of some representative citations from EACH category of writing, and then simply list the biblical passages from E. and where in the rabbinix they are interpreted messianically. Remember also, that even though the rabbinical material was 'written down' late, we KNOW from the Dead Sea Scrolls and even elements of the NT background, that much of the material is VERY, VERY early--into the period under discussion. I will NOT attempt to 'weed out' the older materials--that will take lengthly individual judgments, to say the least!]
- m. Sota 9.15: "With the footprints of the Messiah presumption will increase..."
- m.Ber.1:5: "this world... and the days of the Messiah"
- (the messianic end-times are mentioned in connection with Elijah as 'forerunner' but WITHOUT 'messiah' in m.sheqalim 2.5; m.baba.mesia 1.8, 2.8, 3.4-5.)
- (The Mishnah, as a legal document doesn't deal much with the eschatological future, so it is not surprising that there are few references to this subject).
- The Talmuds--Babylonian (with the "b.") and Jerusalem (with the "y")
- y.Tan'anit 4.8 [68d 48-51] : "R. Simeon ben Yohai said: R. Akiba my teacher used to explain the passage, 'a star shall go forth from Jacob' (Num 24.17) thus: Kosiba goes forth from Jacob. Again when R. Akiba saw Bar Kochba, he cried out, 'This is the king, the Messiah'....Rabbi Yohanan b. Torta answered him: 'Akiba, grass will grow out of your cheek-bones and the Son of David will still not have come.'" [Although this passage, in the ref. to Bar Kochba, is obviously post-NT, it is the messianic expectation that obviously pre-dates this encounter. And the expectation on the part of Akiba--a major contributor to the Mishnah--seems rather well-developed.]
- y. Ketubot 12.3: "the dead will first come to life in the time of the Messiah"
- b. Ber. 28b: "Remove all vessels lest they be rendered unclean, and prepare a throne for Hezekiah, who is to come"
- b. Hag. 14a: Rabbi Aquiba explains the thrones of Dan 7 as "one for Him, and one for David"--this was understood messianically for the next millennium! (He is also rebuked by a competitor rabbi for this interpretation in b. Sanh. 38b.!)
- b. Sanh. 98a: "Rabbi Alexandrai said: Rabbi Jehoshua ben Levi contrasted Dan 7.13...and Zech 9.9...If the Israelites are deserving, he [messiah] will come with the clouds of heaven; if they are not deserving, poor and riding on a donkey..."
- b. Sanh. 99a: "And this is what a certain Min said to R. Abahu, 'When will the Messiah come?' He said to him, 'When darkness hath covered these men.'..."
- b. Sukkah 52: "the slaying of the Messiah the son of Joseph" (explaining Zech 12.10--"they will look on him whom they pierced.")
- Midr. Ps. 90.17 [on Ps 90.15] :
"'Make us glad according to the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us': Acording to the days that Thou didst afflict us in Babylong, in Media, in Greece, in Edom....In a different exposition the verse is read: 'Make us glad according tothe days of the Messiah.' And how long is the 'day' of the Messiah. R. Eliezer asseted: A thousand years...R. Joshua said: two thousand years...R. Berechiah and R. Dos the Elder said: Six hundred years...R. Jose said: Sixty years...R. Akiba said: Forty years...The Rabbis said: Four thousand years...R. Abba said: Seven thousand years..."
(The Midrash on the Psalms, vol.2, translated by William G. Braude; Yale: 1959.pp.97-98.)
- Song. Rab. 8:9 sec.3:
"R. Abba b. Kahana said: If you seats filled with Babylonians in the Land of Israel, look out for the coming of the Messiah. ...R. Simeon b. Yohai taught: If you see a Persian horse tethered to a grave in the land of Isreal, look out for the coming of the Messiah."
(Midrash--Esther, Song of Songs, translated by Maurice Simon, (Freedman & Simon, gen. eds.); Soncino: 1983; pp.316-317.)
- Num. Rab. 13.14 [on Num 7.13] :
"...He offered the dish and the basin as symbols of the kings of the House of David who would in time to come spring from him and who would reign supreme on sea and on land, kings like Solomon and King Messiah...How do we know the same of the King Messiah? Because it is written 'He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River unto the ends of the earth'. How do we know that he will hold sway on land? Because it is written, 'All kings shall prostate themselves before him; all nations shall serve him' and it also says, 'Behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man...and there was given unto him dominion...that all the peoples...should serve him', etc....since the nations brought gifts to Solomon and will in time to come bring similarly to the King Messiah..." (Midrash Rabbah--Numbers, vol 2, translated by Judah J. Slotki (Freedman and Simon, gen. eds.), Soncino: 1983; pp. 526-529)
- A List of OT passages interpreted messianically in the Rabbinical writings (from Edersheim's Appendix 9, not verified by me):
- Gen 1.2 (Isa 11.2, Lam. 2.19)
- Gen 2.4 (Gen 3.15, Ruth 4.18)
- Gen 4.25 (Ber. R. 23; m. Ruth 4.19)
- Gen 5.1 (Ber. R. 24)
- Gen 14.1 (Ber. R. 42)
- Gen 15.18 (Ber. R. 44)
- Gen 19.32 (Ber. R. 51)
- Gen 22.18 (Bemid. R. 2)
- Gen 33.1 (the midrash co-joins this with Is 66.7, notes that the before the first oppressor was born, the last Redeemer was already born.
- Gen 38.1,2 (Ber. R. 85)
- Gen 49.1 (Ber. R. 98)
- Gen 49.9 (Yalkut 160 and Ber. R. 98)
- Gen 49.10 (Yalkut u.s.; midrash on Gen 49.10, on Prov 19.21, or Lan 1.16; all the targums)
- Gen 49.12 (targum ps-jon and the jeru.targ)
- Gen 49.17 (last clause, in the Midrash--Ber.R.98)
- Gen 49.19 (Ber. R. 99, but cf. Ber. R. 71)
- Gen 50.10 (at the close of Ber.R.)
- Ex 4.22 (midr on Ps 2.7)
- Ex 12.2 (Shem r. 15)
- Ex 12.42 (jeru.targ)
- Ex 15.1 (mekilta)
- Ex 16.25 (Jer. Taan. 64a)
- Ex 16.33 (Mechil)
- Ex 17.16 (ps-J.targ)
- Ex 21.1 (Shem R. 30)
- Ex 40.9,11 (ps-J.targ)
- Lev 26.12 (Yalkut 62)
- Lev 26.13 (Ber. R. 12)
- Num 6.26 (Siphre on Num par. 42)
- Num 7.12 (Bem. R. 13)
- Num 11.26 (J.targ)
- Num 23.21 (ps-J.targ; see also Num 24.7 in the J.targ)
- Num 24.17 (onk.targ; ps-J.targ; Jer. Taan. 4.8; Deb r. 1; Midr. on Lament 2.2)
- Num 24.20,24 (ps-J.targ)
- Num 27.16 (Yalkut)
- Dt 1.8 (Sirhre 67a)
- Dt 8.1 (comments of Tanchuma)
- Dt 11.21 (siphre par 47)
- Dt 16.3 (siphre , par 130; see also Ber 1.5)
- Dt 19.8,9 (Siphre, par 185; Jer.Macc 2.7)
- Dt 20.10 (Tanchuma par 19)
- Dt 23.11 (Tanchuma on Par. Ki Thetse 3)
- Dt 25.19 and 30.4 (ps-J.targ; cf. last 3 lines of Bem. R.)
- Dt 32.7 (Siphre)
- Dt 32.20 (Siphre)
- Dt 33.5 (jer.targ)
- Dt 33.17 (Tanchuma on Gen 1, par.1; Bemidb. R. 14)
- Dt 33.12 (Sebach. 118b)
- Judg. 5.31 (Ber R 12; see also Gen 2.4)
- Ruth 2.14 (Midr R. Ruth 5; Midr on Cant 2.9; Pesik 49a,b; Shabb. 113b)
- Ruth 1.1 (targ)
- Ruth 3.15 (targ)
- Ruth 4.18,20 (see refs under Gen 2.4)
- 1 Sam 2.10 (targ, plus various midr.)
- 2 Sam 22.28 (Sanh, 98a)
- 2 Sam 23.1 (targ.)
- 2 Sam 23.3 (targ.)
- 2 Sam 23.4 (midrash, par 29)
- 1 Kgs 4.33 (targ)
- 1 Chr 3.24 (targ; plus Tanchuma, par. Toledoth 14)
- Ps 2 (Berach 7b; Abhod. Zarah 3b; midrash on Ps 2; midrash on ps 112.11; Pirqe de R. Eliez c.28; Yalkut; individual verses below)
- Ps 2.4 (Talmud--Abhod. Z. u.s.)
- Ps 2.6 (midrash on 1 Sam 16.1--connects the suffering of the Messiah with Is 53!)
- Ps 2.7 (talmud--Sukk. 52a)
- Ps 2.8 (Ber. R. 88; talmud-Sukk 52a)
- Ps 2.9 (see Ps 120)
- Ps 16.6 (Ber R. 88)
- Ps 16.9 (midr)
- Ps 18.31 (in the Hebrew, verse 32: targ)
- Ps 18.50 (Jer.talmud--Ber 2.4; midr on Lam 1.16)
- Ps 21.1 [Heb 2] (targ; midr)
- Ps 21.2 (midrash)
- Ps 21.3  (midr; cf. Shemoth R. 8)
- Ps 21.4 (Sukk.52a)
- Ps 21.5  (Yalkut on Num 27.20; Beidbar R. 15)
- Ps 21.7  (targ)
- Ps 22.7  (Yalkut on Is 60, applies this verse to the messiah, using almost the same words as the gospels)
- Ps 22.15  (Yalkut)
- Ps 23.5 (Bemid R. 21)
- Ps 31.19  (midr; pesiqta, p149)
- Ps 36.9 (Yalkut on Is 60)
- Ps 40.7 (see refs at Gen 4.25)
- Ps 45.2  (targ.)
- Ps 45.3  (talmud--Shabb 63a)
- Ps 45.6  (targ; in Ber.R.99 a connection with non-departing sceptre is made!)
- Ps 45.7 (some eds of targ)
- Ps 50.2 (siphre)
- Ps 60.7 (Bemidbar R. on Num 7.28)
- Ps 61.6  (targ; pirqe de R. Eliez c.19)
- Ps 61.8  (targ.)
- Ps 68.31  (talmud-Pes. 118b; Sheoth R. on Ex 26.15)
- Ps 72.1 (targ.; midr.)
- Ps 72.16 (Talmud--Shabb.30b; Midr on Eccl 1.9)
- Ps 72.17 (Sanh 98b; Pes. 54a;Ned. 39b; Ber.R. 1; midr on Lam 1.16; Pirqe de. R. Eliez.c.3)
- Ps 72.8 (Pirqe d. R. Eliez.c.11; Yalkut on Is 55.8; Midr. Bemidbar R.13)
- Ps 72.10 (Midr. Ber. R 78; Midr. Bemidbar R.13)
- Ps 80.17  (targ.)
- Ps 89.22-25 [23-26] (Yalkut on Is 60.1)
- Ps 89.27  (Shemoth R. 19)
- Ps 89.51  (Midr on Ps 18)
- Ps 89.53 (midr. on Cant 2.13)
- Ps 90.15 (midr)
- Ps 92.8,11,13 [7,10,12] (pirqe d. R. Eliez.c.19; midrash)
- Ps 95.7, last clause (Shem R. 25; Midr on Cant 5.2; cf. Sanh 98a and Jer. Taan. 64a)
- Ps 102.16  (Bereshith R. 56)
- Ps 106.44 (midrash)
- Ps 110 (targ; midr on ps.2; midra on Ps 36 )
- Ps 110.2 (Beresh. R. 85; Bemid. R. 18; Yalkut)
- Ps 110.7 (Yalkut)
- Ps 116.9 (Ber. R. 96)
- Ps 116.13
- Ps 119.33 (midr)
- Ps 120.7 (Midr)
- Ps 121.1 (tanchuma--par.Toledoth 14; cf. Yalkut)
- Ps 126.2 (tanchuma on Ex 15.1)
- Ps 132.18 (pirke d. R. Eliez.c.28)
- Ps 132.14 (Ber. R. 56)
- Ps 133.3 (Ber. R. 65, closing lines)
- Ps 142.5 (Ber. R. 74)
- Prv 6.22 (Siphre on Deut)
- Eccl 1.9 (midr)
- Eccl 1.11 (targ)
- Eccl 7.24 (targ)
- Eccl 11.8 (midr)
- Eccl 12.1 (midr)
- Cabt (all refs to Solomon are applied to the messiah in Talmud--Sheb 35b)
- Cant 1.8 (targ)
- Cant 1.17 (targ)
- Cant 2.8 (Shir haShirim R.; Pesiqta)
- Cant 2.9-10,12 (Pesiqta)
- Cant 2.13 (midrash)
- Cant 3.11 (Yalkut)
- Cant 4.5 (targ)
- Cant 4.16 (midrash; Bemidbar R. 13)
- Cant 5.10 (Yalkut)
- Cant 6.10 (Yalkut)
- Cant 7.6 (midrash)
- Cant 7.13 (targ)
- Cant 8.2 (targ)
- Cant 8.4 (targ)
- Cant 8.11 (Talmud--Shebhu 35b)
- Cant 8.12 (targ)
- Isa 4.2 (targ)
- Isa 4.4 (see Gen 18.4, 5; Deut 23.11)
- Isa 4.5,6 (Yalkut, midr on Ps 13; midrash on ps 16.9)
- Is 6.13 (Talmud-Keth 112b)
- Is 7.21 (see Gen 18.7 refs)
- Is 8.14 (Talmud--Sanh 38a)
- Is 9.6 (targ; debarim R. 1; Bemidbar R. 11)
- Is 9.7 (see Num 6.26)
- Is 10.27 (targ)
- Is 10.34 (midrash on Lam 1.16)
- Is 11:1 (targ; Bereshith R. 85 on Gen 38.18--Ps 110.2 is quoted there also; Ber. R. 99; Yalkut)
- Is 11.2 (see Gen 1.2; Yalkut on Prov 3.19,20; Pirq. d. R. El.3)
- Is 11.3 (Talmud-Sanh 93b)
- Is 11.4 (midrash on Ps 2.2; midr. on Ruth 2.14; Yalkut on Is 60)
- Is 11.6 (targ.)
- Is 11.7 (see Ex 12.2)
- Is 11.10 (see Gen 49.10 nd Ps 21.1)
- Is 11.11 (yalkut; midr on Ps 107.2)
- Is 11.12 (Midr on Lam 1.2)
- Is 12.3 (cf. the ancient practice of pouring out the water on the Fast of Tabernacles)
- Is 12.5 (midr on Ps 118.23)
- Is 14.2 (see Gen 18.4,5)
- Is 14.29 (targ)
- Is 15.2 (targ)
- Is 16.1 (targ)
- Is 16.5 (targ)
- is 18.5 (talmud-Sanh 98a)
- Is 21.11,12 (Jer. Taan. 64a; Shem. R. 18)
- Is 23.8 (midr. on Eccl 1.7)
- Is 23.15 (talmud-Sanh 99a)
- Is 24.23 (Bemidbar R, quoted under Gen 22.18; Bemidbar R. 13)
- Is 25.8 (talmud-Moed Q. 28b; Siphra; Yalkut; Yalkut on Is 60.1; Debar. R. 2; Shem R. 30)
- Is 25.9 (Tanchuma on Deut)
- Is 26.19 (midr on Eccl 1.7)
- Is 27.10 (Shem R. 1; Tanchuma on Exod 2.5)
- Is 27.13 (Talmud--Rosh. haSh. 11b; Yalkut; Pirqe de R. El. c.31)
- Is 28.5 (targ)
- Is 28.16 (targ; Rashi)
- Is 28.15 (Jer. Taan. 1.1)
- Is 30.18 (Sanh 97b)
- Is 30.19 (Yalkut on Zech 3.8)
- Is 30.25 (see gen 18.4)
- Is 30.26 (Talmud--Pes. 68a and Sanh 91b; Pirqe de. R. El. 51; Shemoth R. 50; cf. also Ber. R. 12 and gen 2.4)
- Is 32.14,15 (midr. on Lam 3.49)
- Is 32.20 (Tanchuma; Deb R. 6)
- Is 35.1,2 (Tanchua on Deut 1.1)
- Is 30.5,6 (Yalkut 1.78c; Ber. R. 95; midr on Ps 146.8)
- Is 30.10 (midr on ps 107.1; yalkut on end of Chronicles; Shemoth R. 15,23)
- Is 40.1-3 (see Is 11.12 and 35.1)
- Is 40.5 (Vayyikra R. 1; Yalk 2.77b)
- Is 40.10 (Yalk on Ex 32.6)
- Is 41.18 (see gen 18.4-5)
- Is 41.25 (Bem R. 13)
- Is 41.27 (targum-Rashi; Bereshith R. 63; Vayyikra R. 30; Talmud--Pes 5a; Pesiqta)
- Is 42.1 (targ; midr on ps 2; yalkut)
- Is 43.10 (targ)
- Is 45.22 (see Is 11.12, midr on lam)
- Is 49.8 (Yalk.)
- Is 49.9 (Yalk.)
- Is 49.10 (midr on lam--quoted at is 11.12)
- Is 49.12 (see Ex 12.2)
- Is 49.13 (midr on prov 19.21)
- Is 49.14 (yalk.)
- Is 49.21 (midr on lam--see ps 11.12)
- Is 49.23 (Vayyikra R. 27; midr on Ps 2.2)
- Is 49.26 (Vayyikra R. 33)
- Is 51.12 (see Is 11.12, and Is 25.9)
- Is 51.17 (see Is 25.0)
- Is 52.2 (see Is 11.12--midr on Lam)
- Is 52.3 (talmud--Sanh 97b)
- Is 52.7 (yalkut; yalk on Ps 112.1; see also Cant 2.13)
- Is 52.8 (midr on lam--see Is 11.12)
- Is 52.12 (Shemoth R. 15, 19)
- Is 52.13 (targ; yalk(assoc. suffering with the messiah))
- Is 53 (the messianic name 'Leprous' (Sanh 98b) is expressly based on it)
- Is 53.10 (targ)
- Is 53.5 (midr on Samuel; see Ruth 2.14)
- Is 54.2 (Vayyikra R. 10)
- Is 54.5 (Shemoth R. 15)
- Is 54.11 (Shemoth R. 15; see also Ex 12.2)
- Is 54.13 (Yalk; midr. on Ps 21.2)
- Is 55.12 (midr on Ps 13)
- Is 56.1 (see Ex 21.1)
- Is 56.7 (see Is 11.12)
- Is 57.14 (Bemidbar R. 15)
- Is 57.16 (talmud--Yeb. 62a and 63b; midr on Eccl 1.6)
- Is 59.15 (talmud--Sanh 97a; midr on Cant 2.13)
- Is 59.19 (talmud-Sanh 98a)
- Is 59.17 (pesiqta)
- Is 59.20 (see Is 11.12)
- Is 59.19,20 (Sanh 98a; Pesiqta 166b)
- Is 60.1 (targ; Ber. R. 1 with ref to Dan 2.2; Ber. R. 2; Bemidbar R. 15,21; Yalkut on Exod 25.3; yalk on this chapter)
- Is 60.2 (talmud-Sanh 99a; midr)
- Is 60.2-4 (midr)
- Is 60.4 (midr on cant 1.4--tied in with the Zec. prophs!)
- Is 60.7 (talmud-Abod. Sar. 24a)
- Is 60.8 (midr on Ps 48.13)
- Is 60.19 (yalk)
- Is 60.21 (talmud--Sanh 98a)
- Is 60.22 (talmud--Sanh 98a)
- Is 61.1 (see Is 32.14, 15)
- Is 61.5 (yalkut; midr on Eccl 2.7)
- Is 61.9
- Is 61.10 (tanchuma on deut 1.1--see Is 25.9; Pesiqta)
- Is 62.10 (see Is 57.14)
- Is 63 (Pirqe de. R. El. c.30)
- Is 63.2 (see Cant 5.10; Pesiqta)
- Is 63.4 (Sanh 99a; midr on Eccl 12.10)
- Is 64.4  (yalk on Is 60)
- Is 65.17 (midr on lam--see Is 11.12)
- Is 65.19 (tanchuma on deut 1.1)
- Is 65.25 (Ber R. 20; midr)
- Is 66.7 (Vayyikra R. 14; midr on Gen 33.1)
- Is 68.22 (Ber. R. 12; see gen 2.4)
- Jer 3.17 (Yalku on Josh 3.9ff)
- Jer 3.18 (yalkut on Cant 1.16)
- Jer 5.19 (Introd. to Echa R.)
- Jer 12.9 (Pirque de R. Eliez c.28)
- Jer 16.13 (talmud--San 98b; midr on Lam 1.16)
- Jer 16.14 (Mechilta)
- Jer 23.5,6 (targ; talmud--Babha Bathra 75b; midr on Ps 21.1; midr on Prov 19.21; midr on Lam 1.16)
- Jer 23.7 (see Jer 16.14; talmud--Ber. 12b)
- Jer 30.9 (targ)
- Jer 30.21 (targ; midr on Ps 21.7)
- Jer 31.8 (yalkut)
- Jer 31.20 (yalk; yalk on Is 9.1)
- Jer 31.31,33,24 (yalk)
- Jer 33.13 (targum; yalkut)
- Lam 1.16 (Midrash R and in Jeru talmud)
- Lam 2.22 (targ)
- Lam 4.22 (targ)
- Ezek 11.19 (Deb. R. 6 et. al.)
- Ezek 16.55 (Shem R. 15)
- Ezek 17.22,23 (targ)
- Ezek 25.14 (Bemidbar R. on Num 2.32)
- Ezek 29.21 (Sanh 98a)
- Ezek 32.14 (Sanh 98a)
- Ezek 36.25 (targ; yalkut; talmud--Kidd. 72d)
- Ezek 36.27 (see Ezek 11.19)
- Ezek 39.2 (Bemidbar R. 13)
- Ezek 47.9 (Shem R. 15)
- Ezek 47.12 (Shem R. 15)
- Ezek 48.19 (Talmud--Baba R. 122a)
- Dan 2.22 (Ber. R. 1; midr on Lam 1.16)
- Dan 2.35 (Pirqe de R. Eliez c.11)
- Dan 2.44 (Pirqe de R. Eliez c.30)
- Dan 7.9 (interpreted by R. Akiba in Chag 14a)
- Dan 7.13 (talmud--Sanh 98a: if Israel behaved worthily, the Messiah would come in the clouds of heaven; if otherwise, humble, and riding upon an ass!)
- Dan 7.27 (Bem. R. 11)
- Dan 8.13,14 (Ber. R. 21)
- Dan 1.24 (Naz 32b; Yalkut)
- Dan 12.3 (Shem R. 15)
- Dan 12.11,12 (Midr on ruth 2.14)
- Hos 2.2 (midr on Ps 45.1)
- Hos 2.13 (see Jer 5.19)
- Hos 2.18 (Shem R. 15 on Ex 12.2)
- Hos 3.5 (targ; Jer Talmud--Ber. 5a)
- Hos 6.2 (targ)
- Hos 13.14 (Yalk on Is, par. 269)
- Hos 14.7 (targ)
- Joel 2.28 (Bemidbar R. 15; Yalkut)
- Joel 3.18 (midr on Ps 13; midr on Eccl 1.9)
- Amos .7 (midr on cant 2.13)
- Amos 5.18 (talmud--sanh 98b)
- Amos 8.11 (Ber. R. 25)
- Amos 9.11 (talmud--Sanh 96b; Ber. R. 88; cf. Yalkut)
- Obadianh 18,21 (Deb R. 1)
- Micah 2.13 (see Gen 18.4,5; Midr on Prov 6)
- Micah 4.3 (Talmud--Shabb 63a)
- Micah 4.5 (Shemoth R. 15)
- Micah 4.8 (targ)
- Micah 5.2 (targ; Pirqe d. R. Eliez c.3; et.al.)
- Micah 5.3 (talmud--Yoma 10a; Sanh 98b)
- Micah 7.6 (Sanh 97a; Sotah 49b; midr on cant 2.13)
- Micah 7.15 (Yalkut)
- Micah 7.8 (Deb.R.11)
- Nahum 2.1 (see Is 52.7)
- Hab 2.3 (Sanh 97b; Yalk)
- Hab 3.18 (targ)
- Zeph 3.8 (Yalk)
- Zeph 3.9 (Talmud--Abhod.Zarah, 24a; Ber. R. 88)
- Zeph 3.11 (Sanh 98a)
- Haggai 2.6 (Deb. R. 1)
- Zech 1.20 (Talmud--Sukk. 52b; midr--bemidbar R. 14)
- Zech 2.10 (see Is 60.4; targ.)
- Zech 3.8 (targ)
- Zech 3.10 (midr on Ps 72)
- Zech 4.7 (targ; tanchuma (par. Toledoth 14)
- Zech 4.10 (tanchuma, u.s.)
- Zech 6.12 (targ; jers-talmud--Ber 5a; Pirqe de R. Eliez c.48; et. al.)
- Zech 7.13 (see Jer 5.19)
- Zech 8.12 (see gen 2.4)
- Zech 8.23 (see Is 60.1 in Yalkut)
- Zech 9.1 (Siphre on Deut, p.65a; Yalkut)
- Zech 9.9 (everywhere! Sanh 98a; Pirqe de R. Eliez c.31)
- Zech 9.10 (see Deut 20.10)
- Zech 10.4 (targ)
- Zech 11.12 (Ber. R. 98)
- Zech 12.10 (Talmud--Sukk. 52a)
- Zech 14.2-6 (many passages on the messianic wars)
- Zech 14.7 (yalkut on Ps 139.16,17; Pirqe d. R. Eliez c.28)
- Zech 14.8 (Ber R. 48; see also gen 18.4,5)
- Zech 14.9 (Yalkut; midr on Cant 1.13; et. al.)
- Mal 3.1 (Pirqe de R. Eliez c.29)
- Mal 3.4 (Bemidbar R. 17)
- Mal 3.16 (Vayyikra R. 34)
- Mal 3.17 (Shemoth R. 18)
- Mal 4.1 [3.19] (Bereshith R. 6)
- Mal 4.2 [3.20] (Shemoth R.31)
- Mal 4.5 (many places...Pirqe de R. Eliez. c.40; Debarim R. 3; midrash on Cant 1.1; talmud; yalkut)
- Historical data on messianic claimants
- This will basically list some of the known people who appealed to the messianic expectation of the day. The wide NUMBER of these cases indicate how WIDESPREAD messianic belief was; the wide VARIETY of their profiles indicate how VARIED messianic beliefs were. [This material is available in detail in NWNTI:242-252, and BPM:chapter 3; I will NOT cite the references from Josephus, since they are numerous and can be found in NWNTI. Also, since these are ALL referenced in Josephus, they are early--there were many, many later pretenders as well.]
- Messianic Kings
- Judas (of Sepphoris, Galilee), son of Hezekiah the "brigand chief".
- Simon of Perea, a former royal servant.
- Athronges the shepherd of Judea.
- Judas (of Gamala) the Galilean (mentioned in Acts 5.37).
- Menahem (grand)son of Judas the Galilean.
- John of Gischala son of Levi.
- Simon bar Giora of Gerasa.
- Messianic Prophets
- The Anonymous Samaritan.
- Theudas (mentioned in Acts 5.36).
- The Anonymous Egyptian (Jew).
- An Anonymous "Impostor".
- Jonathan the refugee.
- Summary statements of scholars (emphasis mine):
- John Collins, "Messianism in the Maccabean Period", in JTM:101: "The notion of a transcendent savior figure under God is perhaps the most significant development in Jewish messianism (broadly defined) in the second century B.C.E." and "There are some traces of messianism in the Maccabean period (164bc-63bc). It is evident , however, that messianism was neither widespread nor prominent during this period and that there was no one 'orthodox' notion of 'the Messiah.' The traditions on which Davidic messianism was based were preserved, but these in themselves did not ensure any lively expectation. The presence or absence of messianism was primarily determined by the political attitudes and circumstances of the different groups within Judaism. Those who placed their hopes in the institutions and leaders of their day, whether the High Priests, the Ptolemies, or the Maccabees, had little interest in messianism. Apocalyptic groups developed the idea of a transcendent savior figure, either as an alternative or as a complement to earthly messianism. Only with the rise of the Qumran community do we find a group with a strong and developed interest in messianism, and then again in the first century BCE in the Psalms of Solomon."
- Charlesworth, in TM:7: "We have numerous early Jewish sources that portray the Messiah, variously, as one who will serve as the eschatological high priest (the Dead Sea Scrolls, the T12P), or as the consummate benevolent and all-powerful king (PssSol 17). Numerous functions are sometimes attributed to the Messiah: He will judge the wicked (PssSol 17, 4Ezra 12, 2Bar 40), destroy them (PssSol 17, 4Ezra 12, 2 Bar 72; cf. Is 11), deliver God's people (PssSol 17, 4Ezra 12, cf. Zech 9), and/or reign in a blessed kingdom (PssSol 17, 18; 2Bar40; cf. Ps. 2)."
- The late Jewish scholar B. M. Bokser, "Messianism, the Exodus Pattern, and Early Rabbinical Judaism", in TM:256, 257: (after analyzing the two references to 'the days of the messiah' in t. Ber 1.10, ll 41-50): "Jews in the first two centuries held diverse views regarding the traditional hopes for the future. Rabbinical circles, although apparently not preoccupied with the problem, did discuss the relationship of past redemptions to the future one(s), and masters differed over the place of the prophetically envisioned later days or messianic period within the scheme of the future" ..."in seeing how these early rabbinical circles differentiated between aspects of traditional messianic beliefs, we can appreciate how they responded in a positive and creative fashion to the inherited views of the future."
- Horsley and Hanson, in BPM:102: "Expectations of an anointed royal figure began to revive somewhat during the Hasmonean period (i.e. Maccabean). The fact that a resurgence had begun is evident in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ps. Sol 17. As noted at the beginning of this chapter, the occurrence of the terms 'messiah' or 'son of David' is still rare in Jewish literature prior to, and contemporary with, the rise of actual popular messianic movements. The very occurrence of the latter is evidence enough of the revival of the tradition of popular kingship."
- Even the Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner (who attempts to minimize 'traditional' notions of the messiah) readily ADMITS that the messianic expectations of pre-Mishnahhic Jewry WERE those of an exalted super-human figure! Neusner believes that the compilers of the Mishnah were attempting to resolve the same issues, but in a different way. In describing this attempt, Neusner gives a telling description of what the 'older' traditions were (in "Mishnah and Messiah", JTM:275): "We focus upon how the system laid out in the Mishnah takes up and disposes of those critical issues of teleology worked out through messianic eschatology in other, earlier versions of Judaism (emphasis mine). These earlier systems resorted to the myth of the Messiah as savior and redeemer of Israel, a supernatural figure engaged in political-historical tasks as king of the Jews, even a God-man(emphasis mine) facing the crucial historical questions of Israel's life and resolving them: the Christ as king of the world, of the ages, of death itself."
- John Collins, in SS:47: "The expectation of a king from the Davidic line, which is dormant for much of the postexilic era, resurfaces after the restoration of native, non-Davidic, Jewish kingship in the Hasmonean period (late second to early first centuries BCE). It then reappears in more than one setting. By the first century CE it can fairly be said to be part of the common heritage of Judaism."
If we back up and try to generalize about the above data, we note immediately its diversity. The messianic figures range from king to priest to prophet. Indeed, several writers/communities have MULTIPLE messianic figures (e.g. Qumran, Testament of Levi). These figures can range from simple purely-human Davidic kings (e.g. Psalms of Solomon, 2 Baruch, Sibyl 3?) to the transcendent and pre-existent quasi-divine Savior Kings (e.g. I Enoch, Sibyl 5, Testament of Judah) and 'stuff in-between' (e.g. Philo, some of the Qumran materials).
And this variety does not know any geographical boundaries. Palestinian sources are represented (e.g. Psalms of Solomon, Testaments) as well as Hellenistic Judaism (e.g. Philo, Sibyl, LXX).
Most of the above materials, however, come from the 'unofficial' Judaism, so to speak. As generally being the writings of specific groups WITHIN Judaism, they cannot speak for the mythical 'mainstream' Judaism. The official documents of rabbinic Judaism, however, not only attest to wide usage of messianic titles and figures, but also demonstrates similar WIDE range of expectations. For example, we can contrast the relatively subdued acceptance of Bar Kochba by Akiba as the 'messiah' (a purely national political leader) with the theological discussion of how the Danielic exalted figure (coming on clouds) could POSSIBLY come on a donkey as well (b. Sanh. 98a).
So, it is very easy to document a wide range of messianic expectation and, judging from the explosion of messianic materials in the period 200 BCE - 200 CE and the wide acceptance of popular messianic leaders, it is very easy to conclude that messianic expectations were widespread.
But can we discern any pattern to it all? Can we make a 'simple to complex' kind of prediction? What does the chronology of these documents suggest?
Let's look at the chronology of the above sources.
- Prior to the period 200 BCE - 200 CE, we have the biblical materials. Do we have any reason to believe that THEY were understood messianically BEFORE we get to the FIRST sources we discuss above?
Actually, yes. We have two pieces of data on how they were interpreted BEFORE our period: (1) the translations (LXX, Samaritan?, and those used at Quman) and (2) any Rabbinical traditions that reach back that far. The LXX data we adduced above indicated messianic understanding of key verses (e.g. Num 24) that had far-reaching effects on even Palestinian understandings, and the massive amount of references to the Messiah in the Targums (67 passages) and the massive number of OT passages interpreted messianically in the rabbinical literature (at least 400!) are STRONG indications that messianic interpretation/understandings were not NEW to the 3rd century BCE!
- In the period 200 BCE to Jesus, we see the production of the documents of Qumran (Dual messiahs), I Enoch (pre-existent super-human messiah), Hellenistic Sibyl 3 (earthly, typological king), and Palestinian Psalms of Solomon (earthly Davidic king.) At this stage, Star and Scepter (Gen 49, Num 24) images are heavily used, as is the 'Son of Man' image ( Dan 7). The rich-textured and robust messianism of the rabbinic understandings of the OT (as evidenced in the early strata of the Targums and Rabbinical writings) show up FULLY DEVELOPED in the earliest Jewish literature of the period!
- In the period 0-150 CE, we get Hellenistic Philo (universal king), Palestinian 2 Esdras (pre-existent, super-human), Hellenistic Sibyl 5 (transcendent king from heaven), Josephus' documentation of many messianic leaders (both kings and prophets--but typically national earthly kings), and Palestinian 2 Baruch (pre-existent, universal ruler). Again we have a very wide range of expectation and a rather vigorous acceptance of this variety by the people.
- After this (i.e. 150 CE), we get the codification of the rabbinical materials and targums--without the slightest downplaying of the messianic themes! (And this in spite of the Roman war!).
[Now, let me briefly add that IF we factor in ANY of the data from the NT, it will do NOTHING MORE than simply confirm what we already have found! In other words, a messianic context for the words and mission of Jesus are BY FAR AND AWAY NOT a 'Christian construct'!! Indeed, that a group of 1st century Jews could go out in mid 1st century CE and proclaim some galilean peasant to be the Messiah WITHOUT there ALREADY being a "vibrant" context for that, and HAVE ANY SUCCESS AT ALL is absurd! (In other words, they would not have gotten very far if they had had to spend all their time answering the "Huh? what's a 'messiah'?" question! History would have looked QUITE different under that scenario!]
I guess the answer to our 'any development?' question is a simple "no." The variety, intensity, and pervasiveness of messianic beliefs is obvious at the beginning of our period--these beliefs appear suddenly and elaborately. Indeed, our rabbinic sources (i.e. targum, talmud, and midrash) suggest that they pre-date our period and appear to approach the actual traditional dates of the close of the OT writings (ca. 300 BCE).
Just as it would be incorrect to affirm that:
- EVERY 1st century Jew had a passionate expectation of a Messiah-figure; or
- The 1st century Jewish expectation was exclusively of a NT-model God-man messiah;
it is accordingly incorrect to say that :
- The 1st century Jew HAD NO expectation of a Messiah-figure; or
- The 1st century Jewish expectation was of a purely natural, human-only, regular political leader.
What we CAN affirm is that a messianic expectation (broadly considered) was present in the wide range of Jewish groups that produced literature--throughout the time period-- and that for some of them, their expectations for the 'deliverer who shall come forth from Jacob' was intense, theologically-charged, and surprisingly detailed. It was into this world of mixed hopes, pre-conceived categories, and pre-built eschatologies that Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed that 'the Kingdom of God has drawn nigh'...
Glenn Miller, 3/24/96.
The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.christian-thinktank.com]