Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ancient Traditions of the Messiah

Samuel Annointing David
Silver Plate from Constantinople

The Annointed One

(1) Descendents of Aaron

"The word 'Messiah' comes from the Hebrew verb 'to anoint', which itself is derived from the Egyptian word messeh, 'the holy crocodile'. It was with the fat of the messeh that the Pharaoh's sister-brides anointed their husbands on marriage. The Egyptian custom sprang from kingly practice in old Mesopotamia."
- Sir Laurence Gardner, "The Hidden History of Jesus and the Holy Grail" (from a lecture given at the Ranch, Yelm, Washington, 30 April 1997)

"Remarkably and characteristically, the term Mashiah - of which 'Messiah' is the Anglicized form - had preceded the Messianic concept by many centuries. Originally, in Biblical usage, it simply meant 'anointed', and referred to Aaron and his sons, who were anointed with oil and thereby consecrated to the service of God."
- Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"And you shall put them upon Aaron your brother, and upon his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests."
- Exodus 28:41

"The legitimacy of the priesthood...was supposed to descend lineally from Aaron through the Tribe of Levi. Thus, throughout the Old Testament, the priesthood is the unique preserve of the Levites. The Levite high priests who attend David and Solomon are referred to as 'Zadok'- though it is not clear whether this is a personal name or an hereditary title."
- Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy

Zadok or Sadduc means "Righteous One" and is symbolized by TZADDIK - one of the two pillars which, according to Knight and Lomas, stood at the doorway to Qumran). Two gigantic bronze pillars flanked the entrance to the Temple of Solomon.

"The doorway was created by the pillars of 'tsedeq' ['righteousness' - always doing good to others] and mishpat' ['judgment'- divinely appointed order] with the holy arch of 'shalom' ['peace' - prosperity, success, general well-being]."
"When these two spiritual pillars are in place with the Teacher of Righteousness (tsedeq) on the left hand of God and the earthly Davidic King (mishpat) on his right hand, the archway of Yahweh's rule will be in place with the keystone of 'shalom' locking everything together at its center.
"It was clear from our readings that 'tsedeq' was for Canaanites a term associated with the sun god. The Canaanite sun god was seen as the great judge who watched over the world, righted wrongs and shone light unto the dark doings of hidden crimes."
- Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

(2) Use of the term "Messiah"

The High Priest and King
"The High Priest, in particular, was termed 'the Anointed [Mashiah] of God'. With the establishment of the monarchy, the same term was applied to the king: he was 'the Anointed of the Lord' because he was installed in the high office by receiving the sacrament of anointment."
- Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed."
- 1 Samuel 2:10

Solomon is anointed by Zadok, thereby becoming 'the Anointed One', the 'Messiah' - 'ha-mashi'ah' in Hebrew."
- Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy

"Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;
You love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God, your God has anointed you
[in the Greek of the Septuagint, enchrisen se, has made you Christ]
with the oil of gladness above your fellows."
- Psalms 45:6-7

Annointed Prophets
"A third type of the divinely elected, the prophet, could also undergo the ceremony of anointing: Elizah, we read, was commanded by God to anoint Jehu as king over Israel, and Elisha as prophet in his own place."
- Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Eli'sha the son of Shaphat of A'bel-meho'lah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place."
- 1 Kings 19:16

"In a few passages 'anointed one' is used of prophets (most notably in Isa. 61:1) and of priests (Lev. 4:3, 5, 16), but without further designation the term normally refers to the king of Israel."
- Graham N. Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus, The Oxford Bible Series (1989), paperback, p. 221

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed..."
- Isaiah 61:1
(Deutero-Isaiah 5th c. BCE)

(3) The Idealized King

"...In early monarchic days the person of 'the Anointed of the Lord' came to be considered sacrosanct: to harm him or even to curse him, was a capital offense."
- Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"But David said, 'What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeru'iah, that you should this day be as an adversary to me? Shall any one be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?'"
- 2 Samuel 19:22

"A further development of this concept can be seen in the belief that God provided special protection to His anointed king. The Psalms contain several references to the idea of divine intervention for 'the Anointed of the Lord', the idealized Davidic king:"
- Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"Now I know that the Lord saveth His Anointed [Mashiah],
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the mighty acts of His saving right hand."
- Psalms 20:7

"While David was king of Israel (tenth century B.C.E.), the belief developed that his House would rule forever, not only over Israel but also over all the nations:"
- Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"The God who giveth me vengeance,
And bringeth down peoples under me....
Therefore I praise Thee, O Lord, among the nations.
And will sing unto Thy name,
Who increaseth the victories of His king
And dealeth graciously with His Anointed,
With David and his seed for evermore."
- 2 Samuel 22:48-52, Psalms 18:42-52

In the seventh century B.C.E., Judah and its capital were besieged by the Assyrians. Micah prophesized deliverance by someone from Bethlehem, the home village of the house of David, in terms that are resonant with Messianic expectations centuries later:

"Now you are walled about with a wall; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike upon the cheek the ruler of Israel. But you, O Bethlehem Eph'rathah, who are little to be among the clans [or rulers] of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin [Hebrew 'goings out' ] is from of old, from ancient days [olam or from days of eternity]. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in travail has brought forth; then the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth."
- Micah 5:1-5

"The word 'olam' is derived from the primitive root alam, meaning to veil from sight, to conceal. An analysis of the passages where olam appears shows clearly that the word does not express 'eternity' or 'everlasting' as it has been frequently translated in the King James Version. Rather, it simply expresses a duration, a time during which a person, thing, or state of a thing exists - literally an age of time which has a definite beginning and conclusion. the duration of an age in scripture is sometimes defined and sometimes undefined."
- Dallas E. James, "Putting the Sword to Churchianity"

Zoroastrian Precedents

(1) The Babylonian Captivity

The Babylonian Captivity or Babylonian Exile was "the forced detention of Jews in Babylonia following the latter's conquest of the kingdom of Judah in 598/7 and 587/6 BC."
"Many scholars cite 597 BC as the date of the first deportation, for in that year King Jehoiachin was deposed and apparently sent into exile with his family, his court, and thousands of workers. Others say the first deportation followed the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadrezzar in 586; if so, the Jews were held in Babylonian captivity for 48 years. Among those who accept a tradition (Jeremiah 29:10) that the exile lasted 70 years, some choose the dates 608 to 538, others 586 to about 516 (the year when the rebuilt Temple was dedicated in Jerusalem)."
"Although the Jews suffered greatly and faced powerful cultural pressures in a foreign land, they maintained their national spirit and religious identity. Elders supervised the Jewish communities, and
Ezekiel was one of several prophets who kept alive the hope of one day returning home. This was possibly also the period when synagogues were first established, for the Jews observed the Sabbath and religious holidays, practiced circumcision, and substituted prayers for former ritual sacrifices in the Temple." "The exile formally ended in 538 BC, when the Persian conqueror of Babylonia, Cyrus the Great, gave the Jews permission to return to Palestine."
- "Babylonian Exile"

(2) An New Eschatology

The "Evil One"
"After the Exile of the Jewish people and later through contacts with Jews of the Diaspora in many parts of the Mediterranean world, Zoroastrian concepts influenced Jewish thought. Certain ideas about last things, salvation, and Satan (the Evil One) stem from Zoroastrianism."
- Ninian Smart, The Religious Experience of Mankind

"The Babylonian Captivity had exposed the Jews to the Zoroastrian pantheon, with its good gods headed by Ahura Mazda ('God of Light' [more correctly 'Lord of Wisdom']) and its bad god headed by Ahura Manah or Ahriman ('God of Darkness' [Ahriman is Pahlavi for Angra Mainyu - 'Deceitful Spirit']). This led to the belief that the prolonged overlordship that outlasted the captivity was the fault of the bad gods, rebel messengers who has refused to obey Yahweh's orders.
"Alternative versions of the seraphs' original disobedience were postulated, the most popular being that they were the sons of the gods who had sired the giants by illegally recreating with mortal women. Such rebels had to have a leader, and since the concept of a divine antagonist, a Jewish Ahriman, had been assimilated before there was any speculation as to the antagonist's identity, he was simply styled the Enemy (ha-stan). The first reference to the Enemy as a male in Jewish mythology was made by Zechariah in 520 BCE."
- William Harwood, Mythologies Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus

"And the Lord said to Satan, 'The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?'"
- Zechariah 3:2

The "Spirit of God"
"Ezra (fl 458 BCE) was a legal expert, a priest-scribe and worshipper of Yahweh, who was attached to the court of the Achaemenian ruler Artaxerxes, and included in his duties was the inspection of the re-established temple at Jerusalem."
"Ezra 7:14 refers to the 'the king and his seven counselors', and it is not impossible that this advisory chamber within the royal court was a remnant of an earlier monarchical structure, perhaps set up in imitation of the divine heptad, with the king representing Ahura Mazda and the seven counselors representing Spenta Mainyu ['Holy Spirit'] and the Amesha Spentas ['Bountiful Beings']."
- Peter Clark, Zoroastrianism, An Introduction to an Ancient Faith, p. 56, 57

"The old Persian faith was an abstract and subtle religion, offering many new ways of looking at divinity and the idea of the holy. Its influence upon the minds of Jewish scribes and rulers, men like Nehemiah and Ezra, was probably greater than surviving evidence can show. There are, however, numerous hints of this influence in the Old Testament. The 'Spirit of God', for example, that moves on the face of the waters in the opening of Genesis is a most remarkable idea...Yet in surviving Persian writings the idea of a 'spirit of god' [Spenta Mainyu] is a common one."
- John Romer, Testament

"Now the earth was [or became] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God [ruwach 'elohiym] was hovering over the waters."
- Genesis 1:2

In Zoroastrianism, angels or "bountiful immortals" were divine beings which were aspects of Ahura Mazda. The angels - "messengers" in Hebrew tradition - acquired the wings depicted on guardian deities in Assyrian and Babylonian tradition, and many of the spiritual powers of these divinities. The Bene Elohim of Genesis evolved into an elaborate pantheon of warring angels. (See "The Sons of God" for details.)

"This is the number of angels: in all they number three hundred sixty-five. They all worked together until they completed each limb of the psychical and material body. There were other angels over the remaining passions, and I have not told you about them. If you want to know about them, the information is recorded in the Book of Zoroaster."
- from The Secret Book of John ("The Teaching of the Savior") Nag Hammadi Codex II

Although the surviving edition of "The Teaching of the Savior" dates from the fourth century CE (as part of the gnostic Nag Hammadi library), it indicates a continuing tradition rooted in Zoroastrianism.

The War Between Good and Evil
"The central importance of the king of Judah was demonstrated in their New Year rituals, which followed Egyptian and Babylonian models. Some of the most important ritual acts were intended to ensure that the king continued to rule, an example of this being a re-enactment by the king of the original battle of the triumph of the forces of light over the forces of darkness and chaos. The king and his priests chanted the 'Enuma elish' - the story that tells how the chaos-dragon Tiamat was overcome to allow the creation to take place."
- Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

The influence of Zoroastrian belief is particularly evident in the pseudepigraphical book of 1 Enoch and Jubilees as well as a number of other texts in Dead Sea Scrolls.

"Now these two spirits, which are twins, revealed themselves at first in a vision. Their two ways of thinking, speaking, and acting were the better and the bad.
"Between these two ways the wise choose rightly, fools not so.
"And then when these two spirits first met, they created both life and not-life, and that there should be at the last the worst existence for the followers of the Lie, but, for the followers of Truth, the best dwelling. Of the two spirits, the one who follows the Lie chose doing the worst things; the Most Bounteous Spirit who is clad in the hardest stones chose truth, as do they who will willingly come with true actions to meet Ahura Mazda."
- Yasna 30.3-5 [attributed to Zarathushtra]

"[The God of Knowledge] has created man to govern the world, and has appointed for him two spirits in which to walk until the time of His visitation: the spirits of truth and falsehood. Those born of truth spring from a fountain of light, but those born of falsehood spring from a source of darkness. All the children of righteousness are ruled by the Prince of Light and walk in the ways of light, but all the children of falsehood are ruled by the Angel of Darkness and walk in the ways of darkness. The Angel of Darkness leads all the children of righteousness astray and until his end, all their sins, iniquities, wickednesses ' and all their unlawful deeds are caused by his dominion in accordance with the mysteries of God ... But the God of Israel and His Angel of Truth will succour all the sons of light. For it is He who created the spirits of Light and Darkness and founded every action upon them and established every deed [upon] their ways. And he loves the one everlastingly and delights in its works for ever; but the counsel of the other he loathes and for ever hates its ways."
- Community Rule 1 QS 3.18-21

"...Unlike the Persian Zoroastrians who could attribute the evil in the world not to Ahura Mazda but to an independent hostile power, the Jews could ascribe to Yahweh the claim that "I make the light and I create the darkness, I make well being and I create disaster" (Isaiah 45:7), a saying that is often considered an early Jewish refutation of Zoroastrian dualism."
- Peter Clark, Zoroastrianism, An Introduction to an Ancient Faith, p. 153

The Coming Savior
"...The Persian Mazda worshippers looked for the birth of a Savior from a virgin mother."
- Frederick Thomas Elworthy, The Evil Eye

"We worship the guardian spirit of the holy maid Esetât-Jedhri, who is called the all-conquering, for she will bring him forth who will destroy the malice of the demons and of men."
- Sacred book of Zoroaster

"We know that Zarathushtra proclaimed a series or group of saviors or 'bringers of benefit' who would 'heal the world' and 'make existence brilliant' (Hom Yasht 30:9), and that he believed himself to head this group. Similarly, although nearly one thousand years later, as their exile drew to a close the Jewish people began to develop a belief in messiah-type figures who would re-establish their fortunes. Initially it seems that any number of such figures was anticipated, and so the messianic title could be granted to anyone who was thought to be sent by Yahweh, and that such figures were not necessarily to be born of Jewish blood - hence Cyrus' designation as the 'Lord's anointed'. Over time this messianic character began to shed his humanity and become almost divine, eventually merging into a 'son of man' figure as expressed in the writings of Daniel, who speaks of one on whom 'was conferred rule, honor and kingship... (which)... will never come to an end' (Daniel 7:14). There is in this 'kingdom' more than a passing resemblance to the Zoroastrian frashokereti."
- Peter Clark, Zoroastrianism, An Introduction to an Ancient Faith, p. 154

(3) Death and Resurrection

"...Some of the optimistic Persian notions of the afterlife seem to have entered into the later Books of the Prophets in the Bible. A rare view of the traditional Israelite afterlife (the afterlife is not often mentioned in older biblical writings) is briefly glimpsed in the tale of Saul's meeting with the dead Prophet Samuel, who is 'called up' by the Witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7-21) from a kind of Hades; it is a shadowy survival."
- John Romer, Testament

"The king said to her, 'Have no fear; what do you see?' And the woman said to Saul, 'I see a god coming up out of the earth.' He said to her, 'What is his appearance?' And she said, 'An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.' And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance."
- 1 Samuel 28:13-14

"Prior to the exile there had been among the Hebrew peoples no real interest in the afterlife, which was seemingly discussed only in the vaguest terms. In fact pre-exilic Judaism was distinctly non-eschatological, content to speak of a shadowy and ill-defined place called Sheol, where a static kind of existence continued indefinitely."
- Peter Clark, Zoroastrianism, An Introduction to an Ancient Faith, p. 153-154

"The original prophet Isaiah - a great poet in his own right, too - was also a consummate statesman in the court of King Hezekiah, where he was not afraid to pour scorn upon the pagan ritual sacrifices going on outside in Jerusalem's Temple."
- Paul William Roberts, Journey of the Magi (1995) p. 275

"I shall be held at the gates of Sheol for the rest of my days;... I shall never see Yahweh again in the land of the living."
- Isaiah 38:10-11

"But in the Book of Isaiah, which was certainly compiled after the Babylonian exile, a full-blown theory of death and resurrection is implicit throughout, a forerunner of one of the major themes of the New Testament."
- John Romer, Testament

"Thy dead shall live,
My corpses shall arise,
Awake and sing
Ye dwellers of the dust,
For a dew of light is thy dew
And the earth shall bring forth [Hebrew tapil 'bring down', 'cast out'] the shades [possibly an eschatological earthquake]."
- Isaiah 26:19

"It seems that, following the conquest by Cyrus, the Jews had progressively adopted the Zoroastrian belief in the matter of eschatology, for the ideas of reward and punishment following death begin to appear in Hebrew literature from this period, and, later still, the concept of complete separation of good from the evil - familiar from the Zoroastrian Gathas - is one that figures prominently in some Christian texts concerning eschatology. (It is also interesting that one word for heaven - 'paradise' - which begins to appear in Jewish literature at this time, and is also found in the writings of the early Christians, derives from the Persian word for 'garden'.)"
- Peter Clark, Zoroastrianism, An Introduction to an Ancient Faith, p. 154

Hinnom Valley
Hinnom Valley

"Greek geenna represents Aramaic gehinnam, which in turn represents Hebrew ge-hinnom, an abbreviation of the full title, 'valley of the son of Hinnom'. The name probably is that of the original Jebusite owner of the property. In the Old Testament this is a geographical term which divides ancient Jerusalem (Zion) from the hills to the south and west. It is the modern Wadi er Rababi, which joins the Wadi en Nar (the Kidron) at the southern extremity of the hill of Zion.
"The valley was a point on the boundary between Judah and Benjamin (Joshua 15:8, 18:16). This usage is reflected in Nehemiah 11:30. The valley had an unholy reputation in later Old Testament books because it was the site of Tophet, a cultic shrine where human sacrifice was offered (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31, 19:2ff, 32:35)."
- John L. McKenzie in Endtime: The Doomsday Catalogue

(All books from Deuteronomy to 2 Kings were constructed from various texts, such as the court narrative of King David, by D, the Deuteronomist, most probably a single author living in the age of exile - ca. 550-540 B.C.E.)

"There Jews who turned to foreign religions performed horrible ceremonies, burning their children in honor of pagan gods (see Jeremiah 7:30, 31)."
- Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus, p 38

"It is called simply 'the valley' (Jeremiah 2:23). Because of this cult Jeremiah cursed the place and predicted that it would be a place of death and corruption (7:32, 19:6ff). The valley is referred to, not by name in Isaiah 66:14, as a place where the dead bodies of the rebels against Yahweh shall lie. Their worm shall not die nor shall their fire be quenched..."
- John L. McKenzie in Endtime: The Doomsday Catalogue

"The authors of Enoch ca. 150 BCE) [adapted] the physical Gehenna to the mythology of Zarathustra to produce an Essene/Pharisee purgatory, identical with the Christian Hell except for the lack of permanence. Prior to Jesus, the Essenes had pictured Gehenna as a monstrous torture chamber that sinners needed to endure as the only method of cleansing them of their sins and making them fit for the afterlife of the saints. It was not...the suffering through which a sinner was purified, but rather exposure to the sacred power of Fire. Zarathustra did not quite deify Fire, but he saw it as an aspect of the divinity of Ahura Mazda."
- William Harwood, Mythologies Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus

"Their spirits are going to be thrown into a blazing furnace. They are going to be wretched in their immense agony, and into darkness and chains and burning will have no peace....We have been tortured and destroyed and not hoped to see life from day to day."
- 1 Enoch 98:3, 103:7-10

"In the first century it was the fires of burning refuse that lit the valley. By that time its name had been put into Aramaic as Gehenna, and had become a common Jewish word for hell."
- Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus, p 38

The author of Revelation over 200 years later would write of how Hades itself would be consumed by fire:

"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death."
- Revelation 20:14

Messianic Prophesies from the Age of Exile

(1) Cyrus the Great

Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon on 539 BCE and freed the Israelites from their captivity.

"The degree to which the Jews looked upon Cyrus the Great as their benefactor and a servant of their God is reflected at several points in the Hebrew Bible, e.g., at Isaiah 45:1-3, where he is actually called God's anointed."
- "Babylonian Exile"

"...After the period of exile, other major themes of both Judaism and Christianity also begin to appear in the Bible, not the least import of which is the idea of the Messiah - the 'Anointed One'. Cyrus the Great is the first biblical person to be given this title."
- John Romer, Testament

"Thus saith the Lord...that hath said of Cyrus: 'He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure, even saying of Jerusalem, 'She shall be built', and to the Temple, 'Thy foundation shall be laid'."
"Thus saith the Lord to His Anointed [Hebrew: [mashiyach]Messiah] to Cyrus whose right hand I have holden to subdue nations before him....'I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight...'"
- Isaiah 44:28-45:2

"The Greek historian Herodotus claimed to know many different stories of Cyrus's death, but pointedly, he tells the version in which the king is berated by a queen of the barbaric Scyths. Far away beyond the River Oxus, Cyrus invades the Central Asian steppes, only to be told that he is thoroughly aggressive and 'insatiate of blood'. The Scyths then kill him in the ensuing battle and their queen fills a wine-skin with human blood, she seeks out Cyrus's corpse and stuffs the head of the 'Lord's Anointed' into the wine-skin to take the revenge which this man of war deserves."
-Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version

"Later, biblical scribes redefined the term [Messiah] so that it came to mean, quite specifically, a son of the House of David, a defender of the Children of Israel who will establish a new era on earth and a new kingdom with its capital in Jerusalem."
-John Romer, Testament

"In the later Old Testament period hopes for a 'messianic age' arose. Sometimes these hopes focused on a divinely appointed King of David's line - i.e., a Messiah. But in many passages, especially in Isa. 40-66, hopes for the future are expressed in general terms. There is often no explicit reference to an agent or Messiah through whom God would bring the longed-for new age of salvation."
- Graham N. Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus, The Oxford Bible Series (1989), paperback, p. 172

(2) Ben Adam - The Son of Man

"The book of Ezekiel is a long series of oracles received by the priest Ezekiel, son of Buzi, who began to prophesy in Babylonia in the fifth year of Jehoiachin's exile, c. 593 BC. He was therefore born around 622 BC, and had been taken captive to Babylon with Jehoiachin in 597 BC (cf. 2 Kings 24)."
"The entire book is dated according to the reign of Jehoiachin, and covers the years from about 593 through 570 BC. The first deportation of captives to Babylon from Judah occurred about 605 BC, leaving Jehoiachin as king in Jerusalem....The second deportation occurred about 597 BC, which is when Ezekiel found himself taken away. Jerusalem and the temple were pillaged, but not destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin away as captive, and left Zedekiah as king. In 586, Nebuchadnezzar sacked and destroyed both Jerusalem and the temple. For further background, read 2 Kings 23:36-25:30 and 2 Chronicles 36:5-21."
- Bible Survey - The Book of Ezekiel

"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him and say, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; and I will turn you about, and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you forth, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great company, all of them with buckler and shield, wielding swords; Persia, Cush, and Put are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togar'mah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes--many peoples are with you'."
-Ezekiel 38:1-6

Vision of Bones

"The shape of the future occupies a prominent place in the prophecies of Ezekiel....Among his prophecies are two which subsequently became the basic building blocks of the Messianic myth. One is that of the great apocalyptic war of Gog and Magog, and the other his famous vision of the dry bones."
-Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"And I saw, and behold, there were upon them sinews, and flesh came up, and skin stretched upon them on the top, but spirit was not in them. And He said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy Son of Man, and say to the spirit: Thus saith the Lord God: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain ones so that they may live! And I prophesied as He commanded me, and the spirit came into them and they live, and they stood upon their feet, an army, very, very great. And he said to me: Son of Man! These bones are all the House of Israel."
-Ezekiel 37 7-14

"In the Hebrew Bible, the phrase 'son of Adam' [son of Man] is used in three different senses.

1. The phrase is employed to refer to the human species as insignificant creatures in the presence of God."

"How then can a man be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is but a maggot - a son of man, who is only a worm!"
- Job 25:4-6

2. "The phrase was also used to identify human beings as next to god in the order of creation."

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man, that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings [or 'than God'] and crowned him with glory and honor."
- Psalms 8:3-5

3. "The Jewish scriptures portray the human being as the agent to exercise control over every living creature (Genesis 1:28). This ideal decisively shaped Jewish visions of the end of history."
- Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels

"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'"
- Genesis 1:28

"You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas."
- Psalms 8:6-8

"There are some more evidence(s) which draw us much nearer to the assumption, that the Babylonean Atrahasis, who saves and saves again humanity from disaster, the son of the god Ea, and who is directly (explicitly) called 'Ben Adam' [i.e. Son of Man] was merged in the Jewish-Aramaic tradition of the Messiah, in the manner he was conceived according to the Messianic prophesies in the Bible."
- From the Stone Age quoted in Yehuda Dveer, Bar Kokhva, the Man and the Messiah, in the light of the Jewish Sages and the DDS, p. 62

"Ezekiel claimed, in chapter after chapter (2:1, 3:1, 4:1), that Yahweh habitually addressed him as Ben Adam. This salutation, usually translated 'son of man', is more accurately rendered 'descendant of Adam', or simply 'human'. [Ezekiel in the original Hebrew has 'son of man' without a definite article - i.e., a human being.] Because the title ben Adam carried the implication that the person so styled was the second Adam it came to be viewed as a title for the messiah, once the concept of a messiah was invented in post-exilic days. Both the Book of Daniel (7:13) and the Book of Enoch (46) referred to Ben Adam in terms that persons with a messiah-belief were bound to view as messianic."
-William Harwood, Mythologies Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus

"Ever since Ezekiel, 'Son of Man' has been a designation signifying special nearness to God of the person so called."
Ezekiel's "prophecy of Resurrection in contemporary with the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem (586 B.C.E.). Ezekiel, however, had no Messianic idea in mind; the purpose of his prophecy was theological-political-psychological: he wanted to implant the belief in a speedy return to their own land into the hearts of the despairing Judean exiles in Babylonia."
-Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

(3) The New Moses

"Just as Moses had brought the Children of Israel to the threshold of the Promised Land and then died, so the Messiah leads them to victory over Gog and Magog, culminating in the elimination of Armilus [their Satanic master], and then fades away, disappears from the scene."
-Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field, 'Assemble and come, gather from all sides to the sacrificial feast which I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast upon the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth--of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast which I am preparing for you. And you shall be filled at my table with horses and riders, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,' says the Lord God."
-Ezekiel 39:17-20

"It is God who resurrects the dead, who judges the pious and the wicked, who sits with the saintly at the great feast, who pours wine into their cups, who entertains them by dancing before them, who teaches them the new Tora, and who receives the homage of the entire rejuvenated, and sanctified world. Where is the Messiah in all this? We are told nothing of him, and were it not that in the earlier phases of the Messianic myth we were assured that he would, after the ultimate victory, reign in Jerusalem as the Prince of Peace, we would not even suspect that he is present."
"Thus, and in this primarily, the Messiah proves to be essentially a Moses figure, and Moses to be the accurate prefiguration of the Messiah. Both are Redeemers, but neither of them has a part in the great era to whose threshold they lead their people at the price of their lifeblood."
-Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"In Christian tradition, where so much in the Old Testament is taken as a symbolic prefiguring of the events of the New, Moses is - inevitably, one might almost say - taken to prefigure Jesus, who was the superior and culminating figure."
-David Daiches, Moses - Man in the Wilderness

"For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."
-Hebrews 3:3-6

"The Book of Ezekiel goes on to tell how he [Ezekiel] was commanded in another vision to take two staffs, inscribe them with the names 'Judah' and 'Joseph' and join them into one, symbolically reuniting the two kingdoms. One king will rule over them and Yahweh will save her from apostasy (sliding back into having 'relationships' with other gods), purify her from all uncleanness and bring her into a new covenant relationship. Under the rule of his servant David she will live in obedience and faithfulness and occupy the land of the fathers. The covenant of peace, like all the blessings and benefits of the new age, will be everlasting; but above all Yahweh will dwell in the midst of his people. The presence of his sanctuary in their midst is a pledge that the covenant has been renewed and therefore the nations will see that Yahweh has sanctified his people and has thereby set them apart."
- Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

Another of Ezekiel's visions was that of the reconstructed and cleansed Temple (after its destruction by the Babylonians.)

Hopes for a New Heaven and a New Earth

(1) A Universal God

"The exile had meant that the Jews were for the first time separated from their god, and so as their captivity continued they began to reconsider how they should understand him. Because it would be unthinkable to suggest that he had completely detached himself from them, the Jews began to view him in more universalist terms, ceasing to confine him to one geographical area and even questioning his exclusive identification with one ethnic group. Since Cyrus brought at least some Zoroastrian beliefs with him into Babylon (where, incidentally, he was also influenced by Babylonian practice), it is highly probable that the Jews were in some way affected by his religious beliefs in this and other matters."
- Peter Clark, Zoroastrianism, An Introduction to an Ancient Faith, pp. 152-153

"About half a century after Ezekiel, there lived in Babylonia the anonymous prophet of consolation and Israel's national restoration, usually referred to a Deutero-Isaiah."
-Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

Scholars assign chapters 40-65 of the Book of Isaiah to Deutero-Isaiah - Second Isaiah.

"…It is in this unknown master's soaring verses that Yahweh is first celebrated as the Creator of the Universe and everything in it - in just the same way as Zoroaster had celebrated Ahura Mazda."
- Paul William Roberts, Journey of the Magi (1995) p. 275

"Yes, although Thou are the First One, I realized Thee to be (ever) young in mind, Wise One, when I grasped Thee in a vision to be the Father of good thinking, the real Creator of truth, (and) the Lord of existence in Thy actions."
- Yasna 31:8

"I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things."
- Isaiah 45:6-7
(Deutero-Isaiah 5th c. BCE)

"Since the section of Isaiah from which this verse is taken was written after the exile, when Persians and Jews had enjoyed considerable contact, it is likely that, in the period leading up to its composition, their awareness of Ahuramazda's universal nature had conditioned their perception of Yahweh, about whom they had already begun to think in more universalist terms as a response to their captivity. Not only did Cyrus liberate the Jews from Babylonian rule, he also encouraged them in their religious customs and allowed them to return home. Furthermore, although Cyrus had permitted those Jews who so wished to go back to Jerusalem (where a new temple was eventually built with Persian funds), many decided to remain in Mesopotamian territory where they continued to prosper under the Achaemenian empire. As the two cultures mingled, ideas on the natures of their respective religions will have been exchanged between them."
- Peter Clark, Zoroastrianism, An Introduction to an Ancient Faith, p. 153

(2) The Suffering Servant

"Behold, My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect whom My soul wanteth: I have put My spirit upon him; he shall send out justice to the nations."
-Isaiah 42:1 (Deutero-Isaiah 5th c. BCE)

"This great poet-prophet (Deutero-Isaiah) spoke repeatedly about the 'Servant of the Lord', describing the call, mission, sufferings, death and resurrection of this mysterious individual."
-Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. "
-Isaiah 53:3-6 (Deutero-Isaiah 5th c. BCE)

Messiah ben Joseph?
"As to the identification of the 'Servant', there is no scholarly consensus to this day. However, the Aggada, the Talmudic legend, unhesitatingly identifies him with the Messiah, and understands especially the descriptions of his sufferings as referring to Messiah ben Joseph."
"Messiah ben Joseph, also called Messiah ben Ephraim, referring to his ancestor Ephraim, the son of Joseph, is imagined as the first commander of the army of Israel in the Messianic wars. He will achieve many signal victories, but his fate is to die at the hands of Armilus in a great battle in which Israel is defeated by Gog and Magog. His corpse is left unburied in the streets of Jerusalem for forty days, but neither beast nor bird of prey dares to touch it. Then Messiah ben David comes, and his first act is to bring about the resurrection of his tragic forerunner."
-Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"Who is this mysterious suffering and/or dying Messiah? What is the origin of the concept? This question has troubled scholars for decades. Apparently, speculation concerning Zech 12.10 -- 'they will look on him/me whom they have pierced' -- had something to do with it, as the Targum to that passage indicates; also reference to the sufferings endured by the patriach Joseph surely lies in the background of the designation Messiah ben Joseph. May we also suggest that the connection between this Messiah figure and the apocalyptic warfare against Amalek [enemies of the Israelites during the Exodus] is not coincidental, but is partially a product of Jewish midrash on the Amalek episode in which ihsouV [Joshua, Moses' successor], from the tribe of Ephraim, both fought the foe and was told to remember that in a future battle, God would finish the job there begun."
- Robert A. Kraft, "Was there a 'Messiah-Joshua Tradition at the Turn of the Era?"

The Teacher of Righteousness?
"Dupont-Sommer [a noted Dead Sea Scrolls scholar] examines the second part of Isaiah, often termed Deutero-Isaiah, which was long believed to have been written during the Babylonian exile 200 years after the first part. Here appears the account of the 'Suffering Servant despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows' who has 'been wounded for our transgressions' yet by whose 'stripes we are healed'. Christians have taken this as prophesying Jesus, but Dupont-Sommer argues that it is a direct reference to the Teacher of Righteousness [of Dead Sea Scroll fame] added to Isaiah as late as the intertestamental period. Dupont-Sommer urges a re-examination of other Old Testament passages in Daniel, Zechariah, Psalms and the Songs of the Servant of Yahweh in Deutero-Isaiah believing them to be all possibly inserted references to the Teacher of Righteousness."
- Mike D. Magee, "Jesus and the Righteous One"

(3) Visions of a Second Coming

The Psalms

"Wondrously show thy steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at thy right hand. Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of thy wings, from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me. They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly. They track me down; now they surround me; they set their eyes to cast me to the ground. They are like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush. Arise, O Lord! Confront them, overthrow them! Deliver my life from the wicked by thy sword, from men by thy hand, O Lord, from men whose portion in life is of the world."
- Psalms 17:7-14

"Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said: 'I have bestowed strength on a warrior; I have exalted a young man from among the people.'"
- Psalms 89:19

"I'm struck by Ps 89:19: 'then you spoke in a VISION to your faithful one ....' there follows what looks like a description, not of a 'vision' as we normally think of it, but a straightforward description of a cultic ceremony on royal enthronement with complex mythological interpretation which is transparently public. In this instance the 'vision' is, as are all visions in the Jewish apocalyptic worldview, a revelation of reality as it truly is, beyond the barely empirical, for those who are in the know, who are part of God's people - those 'walk in the light of his countenance' v. 17."
- Crispin Fletcher-Louis (Divine Mediators)

The first forty-two Psalms are attributed to King David. Book two (Psalms 42-72) was probably written during Solomon's reign and Books III (73-89) and IV (90-106) date from the days of the Babylonian Exile, and the final book (107-150) dates from the post-exile period of Ezra.

The Persian emperor Darius restored a number of temples in Egypt "adding to others or embellishing existing work-in the tradition of Egyptian rulers. This concern with the beliefs of subject nations exceeds any expediency or necessity. Excessive interest in other religions was not just limited to Egypt, either. Darius soon announced his intention to make good Cyrus the Great's legendary promise to the Jews - made after conquering Babylon and ending the Captivity in 538 B.C.-by rebuilding Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.
"The supervisor of this ambitious project was Zorobabel (or 'Zerubbabel'), a Jew who features prominently in the books of some Old Testament prophets, and also in one of the more fanciful Exilic texts - omitted from many Bibles - known as The First Book of Esdras.
Esdras depicts Zorobabel as one of three courtiers who are also close friends of the Persian king-emperor."
"Some less unorthodox Old Testament books - particularly Ezra - present Zorobabel more prosaically as an official representative of the Persian court, sent to supervise the Temple project. His name also appears in lists of prominent Jewish nobles returning from Babylon when the Captivity or Exile is over - although it would seem that he left Babylon for Persia long before he returned to Jerusalem."
- Paul William Roberts, Journey of the Magi (1995) pp. 265-266

"The tremendous cruelties of the age [of exile] were rejected in visions of a Second Coming leading to a new Heaven and new Earth. This vision, that had first been seen and recorded by prophets in Babylon, was now celebrated in the Book of Psalms, that wonderful collection of hymns ancient and modern designed for use in the new Temple that Zerubbabel built in Jerusalem [between 520 and 515 B.C.E.]. All illness, all wickedness will be banished from the earth, they tell us; Jehovah's Law will be written not on papyrus not on scrolls of vellum but on men's hearts, so that they will grow in understanding of their God. It was a dream of paradise, a paradise prepared for the nation that kept Jehovah's Law."
- John Romer, Testament

"In the New Testament...both Matthew and Luke include Zorobabel in their genealogies of Jesus' ancestors - all of whom are, of course, direct descendants of King David. Except that Luke traces his blood line through David's lesser son, Nathan, not through the royal line of Solomon, as Matthew's more traditionally Jewish gospel presents him."
- Paul William Roberts, Journey of the Magi (1995) pp. 265-266

"The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: 'One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies which I shall teach them, their sons also for ever shall sit upon your throne.' For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation: 'This is my resting place for ever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy. There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon himself his crown will shed its luster'."
- Psalms 132:11-18

"…Zorobabel is the Davidic Messiah of the Jews. His partner in rebuilding the Temple is Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, who himself becomes the first High Priest of the Jews - a clear indication that his own genealogy is the Zadokite or priestly line descended from Aaron. The relationship between these two men is exactly the same as that between Jesus and John the Baptist. Zechariah (4:11-13) even defines the role they will play as joint leaders of the community after the exile: 'a government divided equally between priest and prince.' They are equal, but 'priest' still comes before 'prince' - unlike the situation Solomon created, banishing one of his father's two high priests and assuming both roles himself, a situation which eventually tore the kingdom in half, with northern Israel forming itself around King David's old high priest. Furthermore, Zechariah continues, they are 'the two anointed ones who stand before the Lord of the whole world'."
"Later (6:11-13), Zechariah also mentions Zorobabel's crowning as Davidic ruler- except it is Joshua's name we now read in this section. After Zorobabel's (apparent) death the messianic expectation became concentrated in the priest or Zadokite; and what is termed by some theologians an 'Inspired rereading' of the text caused Joshua's name to replace that of Zorobabel….Any Jew 2,500 years ago would have known that Joshua could not possibly have become the princely Davidic ruler: his job is control of the temple and cultic activities. Besides, only Zorobabel has applied to him - by the prophet Haggai (2:23), for example - the language of royal messianism: '[Sa'th the Lord, I] ... will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee.' Haggai (1:11) also makes it clear that the Covenant made 'between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth' (Genesis 9:17) has been broken. But, through the work of Zorobabel and Joshua - that is, the rebuilt Temple-God's covenant, which has never been broken spiritually, will be restored physically, too. This emphasis on a material symbol for what is only a spiritual process of unification seems to be according to the prophets - Judaism's downfall.
""Haggai describes Zorobabel first as 'the son of ... the governor of Judah,' and later as the 'governor of Judah.' His father, Salathiel (or She'alti'el), also appears in the
Matthew-Luke genealogies, of course, and thus, like his son, is cut off from the royal blood line by Luke…"
- Paul William Roberts, Journey of the Magi (1995) pp. 267-268

4 Ezra

"I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude, which I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound.
Then I asked an angel, 'Who are these, my lord?'
He answered and said to me, 'These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and they have confessed the name of God; now they are being crowned, and receive palms.'
Then I said to the angel, 'Who is that young man who places crowns on them and puts palms in their hands?'
He answered and said to me, 'He is the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world.' So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord.
Then the angel said to me, 'Go, tell my people how great and many are the wonders of the Lord God which you have seen.'"
- 4 Ezra 2:42-48 (Christian Greek addition - 2nd c. CE)

"...The author of 4 Ezra unmistakably refers to the Messiah...when he puts words in the mouth of God to the effect that after four hundred years (counted from when?) My son the Messiah shall die."
-Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts

"And whosoever is delivered from the predicted evil shall see My wonders. For My son, the Messiah, shall be revealed, together with those who are with him, and shall gladden the survivors four hundred years. And it shall be, after those years, that My son, the Messiah, shall die, and all in whom there is human breath. Then shall the world be turned into the primeval silence seven days, as it was at the first beginnings..."
- 4 Ezra 7:27-30 (Jewish Apocalypse - end 1st c. CE)

The Current Hope
"When the death of the Messiah became an established tenet in Talmudic times, this was felt to be irreconcilable with the belief in the Messiah as Redeemer who would usher in the blissful millennium of the Messianic Age. The dilemma was solved by splitting the person of the Messiah in two: one of them, called Messiah ben Joseph, was to raise the armies of Israel against their enemies, and, after many victories and miracles, would fall victim Gog and Magog. The other, Messiah ben David, will come after him (in some legends will bring him back to life, which psychologically hints at the identity of the two), and will lead Israel to the ultimate victory, the triumph, and the Messianic era of bliss."
-Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts, p. 166

"Jews still hope for the coming of the Messiah, who will hand out eternal judgment and reward to all. This hope is largely communal; the entire Jewish race and the whole of creation is in view more than individual men.
"In the end the moral life of man here on earth is considered the most proper concern of man; final judgments are best left to God."
- "The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error 2", compiled by Steven Cory (Moody Bible Institute of Chicago)

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings the news, announcing peace, bringing good news, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, 'Your God reigns as king!'"
- Isaiah 52:7


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