Jewish Non-Canonical Writings Reveal a Suffering Messiah
The Non-Canonical Jewish writings Spoke of a Mother of Messiah and His Suffering
What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit [is there] of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. Romans 3:1-2; Paul of Tarsus Cir. A.D. 57
God chose to bring His message to the world through the Jews. As the apostle Paul so aptly stated, “to them God entrusted His oracles.” These oracles are God’s infallible authority and guide for life and revelation of His program for all of creation. Even though God gave it to them they took it for granted and turned aside from the Holy One who had chosen them for this special appointment. He gave the Jews all the information they would need to understand His entire program. (Amos 3:7) The covenants, which He gave to the Patriarchs, demonstrate His love for them. Who else did he reveal His plan to? Who else did He give laws for sanitary, social, spiritual, health and well being to? The Jews have been set apart from the rest of humanity for God’s special purposes.
The Abrahamic Covenant promised a seed, land, and blessings. The three major promises of this covenant were personal promises to Abraham, national promises to Israel and universal promises to all the people of the earth. This covenant is unconditional in that regardless of what Abraham did God would keep His word. God promised that He would bless him and make him a blessing to others, to make his name great, to give him many descendants, to make him the father of a multitude of nations, to give him the land of Canaan for always and to bless them that blessed Abraham and to curse them that cursed him. (Genesis 12; 13; 15 & 17)
God also made national promises concerning Israel. They are: to make a great nation of his descendants; to give land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates to his descendants forever; and to give the Abrahamic covenant to his descendents for ever. Finally, God made universal covenants to Abraham that would affect everybody on the earth; it would affect all families of the earth who would be blessed. This promise is intended to be applicable to Israel regarding the blessing and cursing effects. Parts of the covenant have already been fulfilled. For example God did bless him with wealth. His name is great and Israel is a great nation. The blessings to all have been given to all through the oracles of God they received and they brought forth the Messiah. The promise of the land has not been fulfilled yet. His descendants are indeed in the land but in unbelief and do not yet enjoy the boundaries God set forth for them in Scripture. Why did God choose the Nation Israel to bring His oracles to the world?
The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people:
But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
The Bible makes it very clear that they were called out to be God’s elect people and did nothing on their own to receive this blessing. It is important to remember that God Loves the Jews and always keeps His promises. The God who originated all creation, which is able to be seen, and those things which are unseen is by His very nature unable to lie. (Titus 1:2)
What must be remembered is that even though they turned from God and He punished them, He never forgot them or the unconditional covenant He gave Abraham.
Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirreth up the sea, so that the waves thereof roar; Jehovah of hosts is his name:
If these ordinances depart from before me, saith Jehovah, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.
The Messiah’s Mother
The Jewish Writings
The Jewish literature does not speak frequently of the mother of the Messiah. It does mention Him having an earthly one though. She is named in the Zefer Zerubbabel, BhM 2:54-57 as being Hephzibah the mother of Metatron (Messiah) Interestingly though the writings also speak of a heavenly progenitor. This within the Kabbalistic Zohar in Ra’aya Mehamna, 3:67b-68a calls him Shechinah or the manifestation of God.
Within the Bible
The Bible makes it quite clear that the Messiah would have a mother. Genesis 3:15-16 describes the progeny or seed of the woman. The seed is of course Jesus and the mother turned out to be Mary. We know that she realized that she was the most blessed of all women because she would bring the Messiah into the world. She was impregnated by a heavenly progenitor called the Holy Spirit the third person of the Triune God.
Raphael Patai not realizing that Roman Mariology is false theology assumes that the “Christians” give her divinity and have her overshadowing her son. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Scriptures do not deify Mary. It is only the cult worship of the mother-child, which originated with the Babylonian Nimrod-Semiramis-Tammuz cult that unbelievers see and attribute to true Christianity.
The interesting comparison between the Jews writings and the truth are the fact that they recognized that Messiah would have a mother and that a divine progenitor would participate in the conception. Once again we see that the Jews have the oracles and because of their partial blindness they don’t have the complete pure straight story. This particular subject within the Jewish lexicon is close to the truth.
The Suffering Messiah
The Jewish Writings
References occur in ancient rabbinical writings, which reveal that some sages once believed that Messiah must be from God and that He must suffer before He could reign in triumph. And even in Hassidim (a Jewish sect of mystic piety) the truth of a suffering Messiah lingers. The Hassidim declare that many suffering Messiahs of the line of Joseph (one in each generation) will precede the triumphant Messiah of the line of David. Rabbi Shlomo Kartiner once said, “Let Messiah, the Son of David, come. I am ready to be his precursor, the suffering Messiah, son of Joseph.” But the suffering mentioned is not a vicarious suffering for the people’s sins but a suffering merely to hasten national deliverance.
The Zohar states that the acceptance of Israel’s suffering by the Messiah eases that suffering which otherwise could not be endured. Patai in his amalgamation of the Jewish text on Messianic suffering, states that the Messiah himself must spend his entire life from the moment of his creation until the time of his advent many centuries or even millennia later, in a constant and acute suffering.
In the Talmud, a collection of traditions and commentaries from the Post-Biblical period (from about 300 B.C. until about 500 A.D.), there are two messiahs mentioned–one who suffers and is rejected by his people and another who reigns gloriously. The Suffering Messiah is called Messiah Son of Joseph (Mashiach Ben-Yosef) because, like Joseph, his brothers reject him. Thus, this Messiah is rejected by Israel. The Glorious Messiah is called Messiah Son of David (Mashiach Ben-David) for two reasons. First of all, like David he will reign gloriously over Israel and subjugate the other nations under Israel. The second reason that he is called Messiah Son of David is that he must be a physical descendant of David, according to the Tenach (Old Testament).
The Zohar makes some interesting statements concerning the Suffering Messiah:
“…In the Garden of Eden there is a hall which is called the Hall of the Sons of Illness. The Messiah enters that Hall and summons all the diseases and all the pains and all the sufferings of Israel that they should come upon him, and all of them came upon him. And would he not thus bring ease to Israel and take their sufferings upon himself, no man could endure the sufferings Israel has to undergo because they neglected The Torah” (Zohar 2:212a).
So we have two Messiahs one suffering and one reigning gloriously. The one who suffers does so for the sake of Israel as he takes their woes upon himself to east their pain. The suffering lasts from his creation until his advent.
Within the Bible
Psalm 22, which is one of the Messianic Psalms, speaks of the suffering, which Messiah must endure. Verse six succinctly provides the essence of His feeling regarding the suffering He endured.
Psalm 22:6 But I [am] a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
The Bible speaks of only one Messiah and He does suffer. The fifty-third chapter of the book of Isaiah is another of the Old Testament text, which speaks of a Messiah suffering.
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Isaiah calls Messiah a man of sorrows. He was acquainted with grief as he struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane over the task before him. He was betrayed by one of his own disciples. The religious rulers despised him and the crowd at Pilate’s court rejected him.
Verse 4 tells us why – he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. The sorrow and grief that he bore was for us, for our deliverance, for our salvation.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.
Here is why Christ suffered. What he did, He did it for us. He was wounded for our transgressions. He took the nails in his hands and feet and the spear in his side for our transgressions and sins, for all those times we have rebelled against God and his commands.
He was bruised for our iniquities. The soldiers beat him and a crown of thorns was placed on his head for our sins and iniquities. Everything we have done wrong was taken by him.
Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole. He endured the suffering and humiliation of death on the cross that we might be made whole, that we might find peace with God and be able to enter into God’s presence.
With his stripes we are healed. The soldiers gave him lashes across his back. It was these stripes across his body that purchased our healing. Jesus gives us spiritual healing, emotional healing, and physical healing.
John 1:11 says that he came unto His own. That is, the Jews and they rejected Him. Luke 19:1 states that Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem because they did not realize who He was and know that He brought them a peace that surpasses all understanding. They rejected Him and He suffered for them. He suffered because the world hated Him as it hates those who love Him. (John 15:18-19) He told His apostles that they would suffer too because of following Him. The apostle Paul tells us that we as true believers must suffer also for His sake. (Phil 1:29)
The suffering servant comes to us in this dispensation as a lamb, meek, loving with open arms feeling terrible rejection because of the hatred toward Him. He will return when He is ready to bring His vengeance upon an unbelieving sinful world bend on destruction. (Isaiah 61:2) His appearance now is one of a conqueror and His appearance when He is ready to arrive again is analogous to General George Patton with pearl handled revolvers blazing. He will take the world back. Sin is so strongly held by the human race that it will require a massive cleansing called the Tribulation to bring the Jews to Jesus, make and end of sin and sinful ones and provide for the final world wide evangelization.
The most beautiful insight we can glean from His suffering is that when we realize the extent of His suffering and turn from our sin, the one who suffers more than any human could ever imagine provides comfort to us. The sufferer comforts those who mourn for their sinful condition. He wants a contrite and broken spirit to comfort.
Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.
Patai, Raphael, The Messiah Texts (120-140) Wayne State University Press Detroit, MI1979