Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 21 October 2017; Revised 6 March 2018
Bibliography: Publication data for works cited may be found at the end of the article.
Conventions: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of all Scripture and message I use the terms ADONAI (=Heb. YHVH), Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ).
Grammar: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew
Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century
BC. The LXX with English translation may be found
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75-99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
Scripture: Scripture quotations may be taken from various versions. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Passages translated by the author are annotated with "BR." A list of allusions to and quotations of the Tanakh in the Besekh may be found here.
"And he said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you still being with you, that it is necessary for all things having been written about Me in the Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms to be fulfilled. 45 Then he opened fully their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 And he said to them that, "Thus it has been written, the Messiah was to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins be proclaimed into all nations, having begun from Jerusalem.'" (Luke 24:44-47 BR)
Part II: Messiah in the Prophets
"These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you—everything written concerning Me in the … Prophets … must be fulfilled." (Luke 24:44 TLV)
"And moreover, all the prophets from Samuel and the ones afterwards, as many as have spoken, also proclaimed these days." (Acts 3:24 BR)
Yeshua told his disciples that everything must come to pass which was written of him in the Prophets. Peter said to the people in Jerusalem "all the prophets who have spoken from Samuel on have announced these days" (Acts 3:24 TLV). Paul declared before Felix the governor that he believed "everything written in the Torah and the Prophets" (Acts 24:14 TLV). In the Jewish understanding Samuel is one of the prophets, and from his books there is a direct line of Messianic promise from David to Solomon and to the promised anointed king whose throne will be established forever (Santala 146).
In the Hebrew Bible the section labeled "Prophets" (Heb. Neviim) is divided between the Early Prophets and the Later Prophets. Jewish scholarship considered Daniel too mysterious to be included in the roster of the Prophets, and so was included in the Writings (Heb. Ketuvim). However, I have included Daniel since Yeshua identified Daniel as a prophet (Matt 24:15).
● Early Prophets: the historical books Joshua―2Kings (except Ruth).
● Later Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and the Twelve (minor prophets).
The Early Prophets
According to Jewish tradition the book was written by Joshua (Heb. Y’hoshua "YHVH is salvation" (BDB 221), except 24:29-33 written by the priests Eleazar and Phinehas. Joshua was born in Egypt (c. 1485 BC) during the period of slavery. He was the son of Nun ("noon") of the tribe of Ephraim (Num 13:8). His name first appears in reference to the battle with the Amalekites during the desert travels. He led the Israelites in the actual fighting while Aaron and Hur held up Moses' hands (Ex 17:8-13). Only he was chosen to accompany Moses to the top of Sinai to receive the words of God (Ex 24:13). Joshua was one of the twelve chosen to spy out the land (Num 13:16) and returned with a good report (Num 14:28-30, 38). As a result he was promised a portion in the land of Israel.
When Moses needed a successor God chose Joshua to be the shepherd of Israel (Num 27:16-17), because he was full of the Spirit (Num 27:18). Like Joseph before him no moral fault can be attached to the life of Joshua. Joshua was a capable leader in every sphere. Like Moses he spoke directly to God and communicated the Lord's will and the Lord's message to God's people. His declaration at the end of his life, "as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Josh 24:15), represented the commitment and example of his entire life. He had obeyed the charge to be a student of Torah and obey the commandments given to Moses. There is no mention of a wife and children, but they are implied by his mention of "my house" (24:15). He lived 110 years (24:29).
The book may be divided into three parts: (1) the conquest of the Land (1–12); (2) the settlement of the Land (13–22); and (3) Joshua's farewell addresses (23–24). The theme of the book is God's covenant plan and promise for the Land to belong to Israel, which necessitated the destruction of seven indigenous nations as God decreed (Gen 15:16; Ex 23:23; Deut 7:1). The book features the mighty acts of ADONAI, especially in the miracles of crossing the Jordan on dry land (Josh 3:17), the collapse of the walls of Jericho (6:20), identification of the guilty Achan (7:18), and the extension of daylight to defeat the Amorites (10:13). Throughout the narrative Joshua exercises extraordinary and divinely empowered leadership.
Messiah in Joshua
There is no specific development of the Messianic idea in the time of Joshua, but Joshua could be considered as a type of the Messiah because of his role as successor to Moses and leader of Israel. Indeed the name of Yeshua is a contraction of Joshua's name. It is no accident that the man to lead Israel to claim the land in fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham has the same name as the Messiah. An important character early in the book is Rahab, who will later become an ancestor of Messiah Yeshua (Matt 1:5).
Usage in the Besekh
Two of the personalities in the book of Joshua are mentioned in the Besekh: Joshua (Acts 7:45; Heb 4:8) and Rahab (Matt 1:5; Heb 11:31; Jas 2:25). Scholars have identified strong allusions or verbal parallels to at least 15 verses of the book of Joshua in the Besekh (GNT 904) but only one direct quotation:
● In Hebrews 13:5 Paul quotes from Joshua 1:5.
According to Jewish tradition Samuel wrote the book of Judges, which covers about 350 years. Only a small amount of that time is recorded. Judges 17:6 and 21:25 look back at the period.
The book recounts the exploits of fourteen judges: Othniel, 3:9-11; Ehud, 3:15-30; Shamgar, 3:31; Deborah, 4:1-10; Barak, 4:1-10; Gideon, 6:11-8:32; Tola, 10:1-2; Jair, 10:3-5; Jephthah, 11:1-12:7; Ibzan, 12:8-10; Elon, 12:11-12; Abdon, 12:13-15; Samson, 13:1-16:31 and Bedan (1Sam 12:11). Two other judges preceded the monarchy: Eli, the priest at Shiloh (1Sam 4:18) and Samuel (1Sam 7:15). The time reference "this day" occurs 10 times (cf. Jdg 1:21; 2Sam 5:6-8).
The book of Judges is one of the most neglected for Bible study and yet one of the most fascinating books in the Bible. Most of the stories are cursory at best and only a few stories are told with much detail. A number of extraordinary miracles are recorded: (1) stars fighting against Sisera (5:20-21), (2) the fiery consumption of Gideon's offering (6:21), (3) the wet fleece and dry ground (6:38), (4) the dry fleece and wet ground (6:40), (5) the fiery consumption of Manoah's offering (13:19-20), (6) the destruction of Samson's strength (16:17-19), and (7) the restoration of Samson's strength (16:28-30).
As a historical retrospective Samuel recounts in Judges 2:10-23 a repetitive cycle of abandonment of worshipping ADONAI in favor of pagan deities, oppression by various pagan powers, urgent appeals to God by the people, then deliverance by a judge followed by a period of peace, and after the death of the judge the cycle starting again. The era of the judges is described with these words: "there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own dyes (21:25 NASB). The overall theme seems to be that a theocratic people need a righteous king.
Messiah in Judges
As with Joshua there is no development of the Messianic idea in the time of the Israelite judges (Heb. shaphat, shophetim). Yet, these important persons served as types of the Messiah because of their role as deliverers. The Hebrew word shaphat, Judges 2:16, means one who judges or governs. The judges received a divine call to office with the mission to deliver from oppressors, to act as a ruler, to decide controversies, to enforce judicial decisions, and to act as God's agent. The various judges performed these responsibilities in various degrees. Not all deliverers performed judicial functions, none of the judges ruled all of the tribes and not all are credited with great deeds.
Yeshua asserted that in his first coming he did not come to judge, but to save (John 3:17; 12:47). By "judge" he meant to condemn, but he also engaged in a play on words. Yeshua was a shaphat, but his deliverance would be from sin (John 1:29).
Usage in the Besekh
Some of the personalities in the book of Judges are mentioned in the Besekh: in Hebrews 11:32 Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah are listed as examples of faithfulness. Scholars have identified strong allusions or verbal parallels to at least 9 verses of the book of Judges in the Besekh (GNT 904), but no direct quotations.
"Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God." (Ruth 1:16 NASB)
"A son has been born to Naomi!" So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David." (Ruth 4:17 NASB)
The author is not stated, but according to Jewish tradition he was probably Samuel.
The book of Ruth is not part of the Prophets (Neviim) in the Hebrew Bible, but is included in the section of Five Megillot (Scrolls) of the Writings (Ketuvim). The book of Ruth is generally read in the Jewish observance of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks or Pentecost), because this is the time of year when Ruth joined herself to Israel and Shavuot is the anniversary of the death of King David.
The story is set in the period of the judges (1:1) and reflects a temporary time of peace between Israel and Moab. The book provides an important chapter in the ancestry of King David, and presents the virtues of piety and righteousness in an unrighteous age. Thus, in my view the book of Ruth deserves to be included in this section of Early Prophets. The book may be outlined as follows:
● Ruth comes to Bethlehem, Ch. 1
● Ruth meets Boaz, Ch. 2
● Ruth’s appeal to Boaz, Ch. 3
● Marriage of Ruth and Boaz, Ch. 4
Both Boaz and Ruth are presented as models of godly behavior. Boaz blesses his workers by the name of ADONAI (2:4), as well as blessing Ruth (2:12). In contrast to the lack of respect for the Torah during this period (cf. Jdg 17:6), Boaz obeys the Torah, both in the law of gleaning by an alien (2:7; cf. Lev 19:9-10; 23:22), and the law of family obligation (4:5, 14). In the latter he obeys two laws, first the duty of a brother-in-law (Heb. yabam), to wed a brother's widow without a son (Gen 38:8; Deut 25:5-10), and second the duty of a kinsman-redeemer (Heb. go'el) to insure that land is kept in the family (4:14; Lev 25:5-6).
Ruth is also a model because she chooses to identify with Israel and the God of Israel (1:16). Moreover, Ruth demonstrates godly virtue and accepts Torah obligations by her willingness to marry Boaz. The example of Ruth is a profound rebuke of replacement theology.
Messiah in Ruth
As with the book of Judges there is no development of the Messianic idea in the time of the book of Ruth. However, Boaz performing the duty of kinsman-redeemer makes him a type of Messiah who would redeem Israel and assure the fulfillment of the covenantal promise of the Land (cf. 2Cor 1:20). Also, Boaz performing the duty of marriage to the Moabite widow is an acted out parable of Messiah fulfilling the promise to Jacob that he would become a company of nations (Gen 35:11; Eph 2:12). The closing verse (4:22) which mentions David, the great-grandson of Boaz and Ruth, hints at the later revelation that the Messiah would be a descendant of David.
Usage in the Besekh
Ruth and Boaz and their son Obed are mentioned in the Besekh (Matt 1:5; Luke 3:32). Scholars have identified strong allusions to 5 verses of the book of Ruth in the Besekh (GNT 904), but no direct quotations. Just as Ruth embraced the Torah of Israel on Shavuot so the Holy Spirit engraved the Torah on the hearts of disciples of Yeshua on Pentecost.
"I will raise up your seed, who will come forth from you after you, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My Name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me." (2Sam 7:12-14)
First and Second Samuel are one book in the Hebrew Bible. According to Jewish tradition Samuel (Heb. Sh'mu'el, "name of God") was the principal author, but also Nathan and Gad helped (1Chr 29:29). The final editor is unknown.
Samuel was the son of Elkanah by his second wife Hannah. Samuel was the last judge, the first king-maker, priest, and prophet who linked the period of the judges with the Israelite monarchy. Born in answer to barren Hannah's fervent prayer, Samuel was dedicated to the Lord before his birth (1Sam 1:10-11) and then raised by Eli at the Shiloh sanctuary (1Sam 1:28; 2:11, 20). Samuel heard from God and received his first prophetic mission as a young lad (1Sam 3:1, 11-14) and continued to hear directly from God (1Sam 3:19-21; 9:6).
Psalms 99:6-7 relates that God spoke with Samuel from out of the pillar of cloud as God had previously with Moses and Aaron. Jeremiah regarded Samuel and Moses as the two great intercessors of Israel (Jer 15:1). As a judge Samuel administered justice at Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpah, and Ramah (1Sam 7:15-17). Samuel served as the prototype for future prophets who advised and confronted the kings of Israel and Judah. After warning Israel of the dangers of a monarchy (1Sam 8:10-18), Samuel anointed Saul as Israel's first king (1Sam 10:1). After the failure of Saul to please the Lord (1Sam 15:1), Samuel was called to anoint David as the next king (1Sam 16:13). The fact of Samuel's death (c. 1000 BC) is reported but not his age (1Sam 25:1). He died in Ramah and was buried there.
The book of Samuel chronicles the transition from the time of the confederation in the time of the judges to the monarchy. The book may be divided into three basic parts: (1) the judgeship of Samuel (1Sam 1:1–8:22); (2) the reign of King Saul (1Sam 9:1–31:13); and the reign of King David (2Sam 1:1−24:25). God had anticipated the monarchy (Deut 17:14-20), but when that time came Samuel was not enthusiastic about granting the desire of the people (1Sam 8:5-6). Nevertheless, Samuel obeyed God to facilitate the transition in power (1Sam 8:7; 10:25; 12:1). Saul as king was a disappointment to God and to Samuel. While Saul was a large attractive man and a capable military leader, he was essentially a man after his own heart. He was impetuous and subject to depression.
The failures of Saul were numerous, but worst of all is that he disobeyed God's instructions in the war against the Amalekites (1Sam 15:3). For his disobedience God rejected him as king. In the rest of his reign he displayed a rebellious nature and unwillingness to repent, jealousy of and overt hostility toward David, an inability to unite the tribes. He even consulted a medium for guidance. In the end Saul committed suicide and a reign that began in promise ended in shame. Light shone into the darkness of that time with the accession of David to the throne. The second half of Samuel's book depicts David as a true representative of the ideal theocratic king. Under David's rule the nation prospered and enemies were defeated.
Messiah in Samuel
The book of Samuel lays the groundwork for the Messianic hope. Peter expressed this conclusion when he said in his second sermon, "all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days" (Acts 3:24 NASB). Kaiser notes that in the era immediately before and during the monarchy, there were major prophecies given to three individuals that anticipated David's reign over the nation of Israel (66).
Prophecy of Hannah (1Sam 2:1-10)
Hannah's prayer records a revelation she received from God about the consummation of His kingdom. After she lauds the greatness of God she introduces the anointed king in the final verse, saying that ADONAI "judges the ends of the earth. He gives strength to His king, exalting the horn of His anointed one" (1Sam 2:10 TLV). The terminology used by Hannah is also found in Psalm 2 and 110, which are regarded by Jews as Messianic. Kaiser notes that the Targum renders 1Sam 2:10 about "exalting the horn [a symbol of strength and dignity as in Psalms 89:24; 112:9; 132:17] of his anointed" by these words: "and it will magnify the kingdom of his Messiah" (71).
Prophecy of an Unnamed Prophet (1Sam 2:12-17, 22)
The second prophecy rebuked Eli for not stopping the corrupt and immoral conduct of his sons. God had established the office of high priest and ordinary priests to officiate over worship activities at the sanctuary. God had made a covenant with Aaron for a perpetual priesthood (Num 25:12-13). But Eli had corrupted that office and the prophet predicted that God was going to remove him and his sons by violent means (1Sam 2:31-34). Then the prophet announced, "I will raise up for myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and it will minister before my anointed always" (1Sam 2:35; Kaiser 76).
Samuel could not fulfill this prophecy since he had no enduring house and David was never a priest. This prophecy could only be fulfilled by the Messiah, who is both priest and anointed one. The Messiah's house will be that one described by Peter as a royal priesthood (1Pet 2:9). Moreover, the prophet said that members of the priestly line of Aaron will bow down to the authority of the faithful messiah-priest. Fulfillment of this promise was signaled by Luke's report that "great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith" (Luke 6:7). The complete fulfillment will be as seen by Ezekiel in the restoration of the temple in the Messianic kingdom (Ezek 36:24-27; 44:15; 45:17).
Prophecy of Nathan (2Sam 7:12-14)
The third prophecy (quoted above) is by far the most significant. God made a personal and everlasting covenant with David and promised that He would establish the throne of David forever, build a house for Himself and send forth a king from the loins of David to rule over his people Israel.
This promise is echoed in other passages (Ps 2:6-7, 11-12; 23:5; Ps 89:3; Isa 55:3; Jer 23:5-6; 33:21). The promise that the heir of David would be a son to God is the basis for the title "Son of God." While Jews typically object to the concept of God having a son, the Tanakh clearly presents this reality as contained in the Hebraic meaning of the Davidic deliverer (e.g., Matt 26:63; John 1:34, 49; 20:31). After all, in Scripture "son of" may indicate immediate blood relation, a distant blood relation or simply manifesting the characteristics of someone. In addition, the various references to Yeshua being the descendant of David would reinforce this sense (Matt 1:1; 9:27; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9; 22:42; Luke 3:31; 18:38; Acts 13:34; 2Tim 2:8; Rev 5:5; 22:16).
"Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority (Boyarin 30). Robert Alter in his commentary The Book of Psalms (W.W. Norton & Co., 2007) says that it was commonplace in the ancient Near East to consider the king as God's son (6). So when Mark introduces his book with the old title for the king of the House of David he means "Son of God" as the Messiah of Israel, just as Yochanan the Immerser (John 1:34), Nathaniel (John 1:49) and Martha (John 11:27) intended when they called Yeshua "Son of God."
Another motif largely ignored is that David is called the "lamp of Israel" (2Sam 21:17). This role passed through his sons down to Yeshua (cf. 1Kgs 11:36; 15:4; 2Kgs 8:19; 2Chr 21:7; Ps 132:17; Matt 1:1). Yeshua drew on this motif when he said, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). Also, Yeshua gives light to every person (John 1:9).
Usage in the Besekh
Scholars have identified strong allusions or verbal parallels to at least 25 verses of the book of Samuel in the Besekh (GNT 904) and the following direct quotations:
● In Acts 2:30 Peter quotes from 2Samuel 7:12.
● In Acts 13:22 Paul quotes from 1Samuel 13:14.
● In Romans 15:9 Paul quotes from 2Samuel 22:50.
● In Hebrews 1:5 Paul quotes from 2Samuel 7:14.
● In Hebrews 2:13 Paul quotes from 2Samuel 22:3.
"12 As for this House which you are building, if you will walk in My statutes, execute My ordinances and keep all My mitzvot by walking in them, then I will establish My word with you, which I spoke to your father David, 13 I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel." (1Kgs 6:12-13 TLV)
First and Second Kings are one literary work in the Hebrew Bible, called M'lakhim. According to Jewish tradition Jeremiah was the principal author. The final editor is unknown.
Kings is a monumental work covering the period of c. 970 BC with the accession of Solomon to the throne to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC, over 400 years. The complete book may be divided into three parts:
● The Reign of Solomon, 1Kgs 1:1–11:43
● The Divided Kingdom, 1Kgs 12:1–2Kgs 17:41
● The Kingdom of Judah, 2Kgs 18:1–25:30
The book continues the history of the Davidic monarchy until its end in the Babylonian exile. The four centuries covered were times of change and political upheaval in the ancient world. Surrounding nations that posed a threat to Israel and Judah at various times included Syria, Assyria and Babylon. The northern Kingdom of Israel would eventually fall to the Assyrians in 722 BC and the kingdom of Judah would fall to the Babylonians in 586 BC. Three kings stand out during this time period: Solomon, Hezekiah and Josiah.
Solomon was the tenth son of David and the second son of Bathsheba. He became the third king of Israel by the expressed will of God (1Kgs 1:29-30) and reigned forty years, c. 970-930 B.C. (1Kgs 11:42). His reign began well and ended badly. Solomon is remembered for his wisdom (1Kgs 3:16-27; 10:1) and his numerous wives. Solomon was credited with originating three thousand proverbs and a thousand and five songs (1Kgs 4:32) and he authored the books of Proverbs (Heb. Mishlei), Ecclesiastes (Heb. Qohelet) and Song of Songs (Heb. Shir HaShirim), as well as Psalm 72 and Psalm 127.
Solomon engaged in important building projects, the most famous of which was the magnificent Temple constructed according to detailed plans that his father David prepared with divine inspiration (2Sam 7:13; 1Kgs 5—8). Of all the excesses for which Solomon is known his marriage practice is especially notable. He "loved many foreign women" (1Kgs 11:1) and as a result he had seven hundred wives, all noble women, and three hundred concubines (1Kgs 11:3). Solomon's many wives were the result of political alliances (1Kgs 3:1), and thus violated the Torah prohibition of marrying women of idolatrous nations (Deut 7:3-4; Josh 23:11-13) and multiplying many wives (Deut 17:15-17).
Unfortunately, Solomon allowed his many wives to worship their native gods and even had altars to these gods constructed in Jerusalem (1Kgs 11:7-8). This toleration of evil, not found in his father, would eventually reap the whirlwind of God's judgment. When he died he was buried in the City of David (1Kgs 11:43).
Hezekiah was the twelfth king of Judah from Rehoboam and he reigned 29 years (2Kgs 18:2), c. 716-686 BC. Hezekiah began his reign by bringing religious reform to Judah. He destroyed places of idol worship and even destroyed the bronze serpent Moses had erected in the wilderness so the people would not view the bronze serpent as an object of worship. The Temple in Jerusalem was reopened, idols removed and vessels reconsecrated (2Kgs 18:1-4). He restored the musical ministry of the Levites and organized the priests and Levites for the conducting of religious services. The tithe was reinstituted and plans were made to observe the religious feasts called for in the Law. In particular the celebration of Passover was organized to which Hezekiah invited the northern Israelites to share. This Passover is described as of a magnitude not observed since the time of the Judges (2Kgs 23:21-23; 2Chr 30:1-27).
The critical time for Hezekiah came in 705 B.C. when Sennacherib became king of Assyria and levied a heavy tribute on Judah. In 701 B.C., Hezekiah became seriously ill (2Kgs 20:1). Isaiah warned the king to prepare for his approaching death, but Hezekiah prayed that God would intervene. God answered by promising Hezekiah fifteen more years of life and deliverance of Jerusalem from Assyria (2Kgs 20:6). In celebration of his healing Hezekiah hosted the Babylonian leader at a reception, and showed him all his treasures (2Kgs 20:12-13). Isaiah met this event with a warning that succeeding generations would be subjected to Babylonian captivity (2Kgs 20:17-18). When Hezekiah died he was buried in the upper section of tombs of the sons of David (2Chr 32:33).
Jeremiah's record begins by summarizing the good of Josiah's reign,
"he ruled for thirty-one years [640-609 BC] in Yerushalayim…. 2 He did what was right from ADONAI's perspective, living entirely in the manner of David his ancestor and turning away neither to the right nor to the left." (2Kgs 22:1-2 CJB)
The story of Josiah's reign is set forth in 2 Kings 22:1―23:26. The narratives are clearly more positive than negative. There are several hallmarks of his reign: (1) he destroyed pagan shrines and refurbished the Temple; (2) he gave heed to a newly found book of Torah (2Kgs 22:8-11); (3) he was influenced by godly leaders, the high priest, a scribe and a prophetess; and (4) he led a great observance of Passover (2Kgs 23:1). In his youth Josiah began to seek the God of David (2Chr 34:3). In his twelfth year on the throne Josiah initiated a religious purge to tear down pagan altars devoted to Baal.
The Bible is silent about the remaining years of Josiah until his death. Outside Israel the power of Assyria was waning, and Babylon was on the rise. Assyria had aligned itself with Egypt against Babylon. Pharaoh Neco's troops passed through territory north of Judah en route to join forces with Assyria. Josiah made the unwise decision to have his army block the movement of Egyptian forces at Megiddo and in the ensuing battle Josiah was mortally wounded (2Kgs 23:29). His body was taken to Jerusalem where he was buried. Though only thirty-nine when he died, Josiah was remembered as a great king:
"No previous king was like him; because he turned to ADONAI with all his heart, with all his being and with all his power, in accordance with all the Torah of Moshe; nor did any king like him arise afterwards." (2Kgs 23:25 CJB)
The book recounts the ministries of two prophets of renown, Elijah (1Kgs 17:1–2Kgs 2:12) and Elisha (1Kgs 19:6–2Kgs 13:20). Elijah prophesied during reigns of Ahab and Ahaziah and is noted for performing seven creation-type miracles (1Kgs 17:1, 14, 22; 18:38, 45; 2Kgs 1:10, 12; 2:8) and finally being taken to heaven in a whirlwind (2Kgs 2:11). Elisha began as an assistant and successor to Elijah and then prophesied during the reigns of Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz and Joash (about 50 years). He received a double portion of God’s Spirit and performed twice as many miracles as Elijah. Elisha led a school of prophets and died of an unspecified illness.
The book also records the ministry of the literary prophet Isaiah (2Kgs 19:2-20:19) during the reign of Hezekiah. Isaiah's ministry is seen as being an advisor to the king, interceding on behalf of the nation and predicting the future following the reign of Hezekiah.
Messiah in Kings
The book of Kings does not speak directly of the Messiah, but it begins with the fulfillment of the prophecy given to David of an heir who would be a "son" of God and who would build a house for God (2Sam 7:13-14). God wanted the kings who followed David to be like him, who is the model of the Messiah (1Kgs 3:14; 11:38). As the kings come and go they are often described as being like or unlike their father David (1Kgs 11:4, 33; 14:8; 15:3, 11; 2Kgs 14:3; 16:2; 18:3; 22:2). In addition, by including the narrative concerning Isaiah, the book of Kings hints at the many Messianic prophecies that are included in Isaiah's book.
Usage in the Besekh
Many personalities from Kings are mentioned in the Besekh. The genealogy of Yeshua lists several kings (Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah; Matt 1:7-11). In addition, the prophet Elijah is mentioned 29 times.
Solomon is also mentioned in Yeshua's teaching about anxiety (Matt 6:29; Luke 12:27). Yeshua noted that the queen of Sheba came a long way to see Solomon and that "something greater than Solomon is here" (Matt 12:42; Luke 11:31). Yeshua walked in "Solomon's colonnade," the only remains of his great Temple (John 10:23; cf. Acts 3:11; 5:12) that King Herod incorporated into his rebuilt temple. Stephen noted that though David sought to find a place for God, it was Solomon who "built a house for Him" (Acts 7:47).
Scholars have identified parallels to over 50 verses of the book of Kings in the Besekh (GNT 904f) and the following strong allusions and direct quotations:
● In Mark 6:34 Yeshua uses the same description as 1Kings 22:17 to characterize the people of Israel.
● In Luke 9:54 the disciples ask Yeshua if he wanted them to call down fire on a Samaritan village, similar to what Elijah had done (2Kgs 1:10-12).
● In Acts 13:36 Paul alludes to 1Kings 2:10 regarding the death of David.
● In Romans 11:2-4 Paul quotes from 1Kings 19:10, 19:14 and 19:18 to buttress his argument that God had not rejected His people.
Zechariah ● Malachi
In Scripture the term "prophet" is given to one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness. The Hebrew prophet was wholly devoted to God and could be trusted to speak on God's behalf, whether foretelling (predicting or telling beforehand) or forth-telling (declaring a message to be heeded). The prophets offered four types of messages: (1) allegation, naming sins and warning Israel and Judah of the sins that will lead to judgment; (2) judgment, announcing consequences in the form of disasters and foreign oppression; (3) instruction, teaching how to avoid wrath and turn back to God; and (4) future hope, promises of restoration and revival, including promises of Messiah.
The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets. The Hebrew prophets were a diverse group with different personalities, vocations and manner of ministry. Some gave advice to kings. Some prophesied in worship settings. Some saw visions. Some proclaimed a message in startling symbolic actions. Some were gentle, some were fiery, some were confrontational, some worshipful, some full of joy, others full of sadness. But they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). The literary works of the latter prophets in the Tanakh are authoritative Scripture (Matt 5:17-19; Luke 24:44-45; 2Tim 3:16-17).
9th Century B.C.
The prophets of the 9th century include Joel and Obadiah.
"Tear your heart and not your garments and turn to ADONAI your God for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great covenant loyalty and grieves over evil" (2:13 BR).
"Children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in ADONAI your God for He has given to you the Teacher of Righteousness and He will cause to be poured down for you the rain, the early rain [Autumn] and the latter rain [Spring] as before" (Joel 2:23 BR).
Joel (Heb. Yoel, "Yah is God") was the son of Pethuel (1:1), about whom nothing is known. Historical information about the prophet is completely lacking in Jewish sources. Joel's ministry occurred during the reign of Joash (2Kgs 12:1-21). Joash took the throne at the age of seven (c. 835 B.C.) and reigned forty years. During the king's minority, Jehoiada, the high priest, exercised a strong positive influence in both the civil and religious life of the nation. After the death of Jehoiada, however, Joash listened to ungodly advisers and the nation turned to idolatry (2Chr 24:17-18). Ezra writes that in this time of rebellion "ADONAI sent prophets to them to bring them back to Him and although they admonished them, they would not listen" (2Chr 24:19 TLV). It was probably in this time God sent judgment in the form of a locust plague as Joel described in his book.
The book was written by Joel c. 800 BC (Purkiser 403), and its divine inspiration is declared with the formula "the word of ADONAI came" (1:1). The prophet likely lived in Jerusalem, given the seven references to Zion (2:1, 15, 23, 32; 3:16, 17, 21), the historic name for the city. He also mentions the Day of ADONAI seven times. Joel addresses his sermon to the elders of the nation and the inhabitants of the land (1:2) and later to the priests (2:16-17). In the first chapter he outlines the judgment that has fallen on the agriculture of the land and calls upon the elders and citizens to gather at the temple to fast and pray (1:14), because the Day of ADONAI when He judges His people will come (1:15).
In the second chapter Joel warns again of the coming Day of ADONAI (2:1, 11, 31) and draws a parallel between the locust invasion and what will happen on that Day. Joel calls upon the nation to repent and return to their God (2:13). The end of the chapter contains the prophecies which Peter repeats in his Pentecost sermon. In chapter 3 Joel gives his final warning to get ready for the Day of ADONAI (3:14). Joel saw, as Zechariah will later describe in more detail, the nations gathered against Israel (3:2, 11-12) and God will judge the enemies of Israel.
Messiah in Joel: Teacher of Righteousness
Among Jews the book of Joel was considered a Messianic book. Rabbinic literature understands Joel as referring to the world to come (Num. Rab. 15-25; Deut. Rab. 6:14; Tanh. Miqqetz 10; cited by Gilbert 202). The Messiah is alluded to in Joel 2:23, "Children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in ADONAI your God for He has given to you the Teacher [Heb. môreh, SH-4175] of Righteousness [Heb. tsedaqah, SH-6666] and He will cause to be poured down for you the rain, the early rain [Autumn] and the latter rain [Spring] as before" (BR). Unfortunately, the Messianic promise of this verse is obscured in most versions. The "early rain" is a hint of the teaching and works of the Messiah (cf. Ex 16:4; Deut 32:2-4; Ps 78:24; Hos 6:3; 10:12). The "latter rain" is a hint of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Joel 2:28 (cf. Deut 11:14).
Kaiser notes the "teacher" must be the Messiah for several reasons (140f). First, the Hebrew text uses the definite article with "teacher" (ha-môreh), so Joel has a distinct person in mind. Second The Heb. term moreh, which appears in the singular form eight times in the Bible, is rendered "teacher" in all cases and is translated that way in several ancient versions: the Vulgate, the Targum, and the Greek translation of Symmachus. Third, the confirmation of the identity of the Messiah as a teacher is the connection of the word "righteousness" with the preposition "to" or "for" (ל lamed prefix to tsedaqah). God the Father will give to the people of Zion a teacher who is the personification of righteousness. Fourth, the term "righteousness" cannot be applied as a quality of "rain," for it is an ethical and moral term. In one passage, God himself is called the teacher, môreh (Job 36:22), but more frequently the function of teaching is connected with the priests (e.g. 2Kgs 17:28; 2Chr 15:3).
The blessing of the Messiah being sent as a teacher is seen in the terms of the coming of rain and the fruitfulness of the land. In the second half of the verse of Joel 2:23 moreh appears without the definite article and means "rain." The usual word for "rain" is yôreh, thus Joel plays on the word môreh meaning "teacher" and "rain" to indicate that the coming of the Teacher of God will signal the coming of the autumn and spring rains in their season. God will send a downpour of the Holy Spirit on His people in those days (2:29).
The recognition of the phrase ha-môreh l'tsedaqah as meaning "Teacher of Righteousness" may be found in a few modern versions (DRA, GW, MSG, NOG, YLT) and two early English versions (Wycliffe and Coverdale). The translation of ha-môreh l'tsedaqah in most versions as "the early rain for your vindication" seems entirely inappropriate given the prevalent idolatry and Joel's call of the nation to repentance (2:12-13). The nation was not innocent and deserving of vindication. The concept of the Teacher of Righteousness, or Righteous Teacher, occurs frequently in the DSS, such as in the Damascus Document (CD 1:11; 20:32) and in the Commentary on Habakkuk (1QpHab 1:13; 2:2; 5:10; 7:4; 8:3; 9:9; 11:5). In the Besekh we find Yeshua was recognized as a teacher of righteousness (Matt 22:16) and the Samaritan woman anticipated this teacher (John 4:25).
Thus Ibn Ezra, a Medieval Jewish scholar, commenting on this verse explains: "'teacher' means that he will teach the way of righteousness" and "there is a long period of time between the former and the latter rains" (quoted by Santala 157). Rashi likewise hints at this interpretation when in his commentary on Zechariah 1:1 he says that, "Zechariah's prophecies are impenetrable... we will never understand the truth of his words until the Teacher of Righteousness comes."
Day of ADONAI
Joel is the first prophet to mention the important eschatological event (1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14, 18). A key element of Joel's prophecy is that the Day of ADONAI will be attended by extraordinary events on the earth and the heavens. It will be a day of destruction (1:15). There will be a massive volcanic eruption (2:30) and then the sun will be darkened and the moon will look like blood (Joel 2:31). On the Day of ADONAI there will be multitudes in the valley of decision (judgment) (Joel 3:14).
Joel's prophecy and its repetition in later works of the Hebrew prophets and then the apostolic writings emphasizes that this event is clearly associated with the Messiah. The prophecy of the sun and moon finds its fulfillment in the sixth seal of Revelation (6:12-17). See my commentary there.
"And it shall come to pass after this that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men will dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions." (Joel 2:28 BR)
In spite of warnings of judgment Joel is given assurances of a better future. In this verse God promises to pour out in Spirit, fulfilling the desire of Moses (Num 11:29) and inaugurating the age of the Messiah. Rabbi David Kimchi (1160–1235), the Medieval Jewish commentator, understands the whole analogy of 2:23-28 as pointing to the Messiah. The word 'after this' (v 28) means 'the End Times, which are the days of the Messiah,' and 'I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh' refers to Israel." Santala also notes that the Metsudat David, a commentary by the 18th century Jewish commentator David Altschuler, explains the outpouring of the Spirit as referring here to the time of the Messiah (Santala 157).
In addition, to pouring out His Spirit, God also promises to restore the fruitfulness of the land (2:24-26; 3:18) and Jerusalem will be inhabited for all generations (3:20).
Usage in the Besekh
Joel is mentioned by name in Acts 2:16. Scholars have identified parallels to over 15 verses of the book of Joel in the Besekh (GNT 916f) and the following strong allusions and direct quotations:
● In Mark 4:29 Yeshua alludes to Joel 3:13 in a parable which concludes with a principle of harvest.
● In Acts 2:17-21 Peter quotes from Joel 2:28-31 in his Pentecost sermon to assert that Joel's prophecy was being fulfilled.
● In Romans 10:13 Paul quotes Joel 2:32 to affirm the availability of salvation to those who call on the Lord.
Scholars have identified several parallels to Joel in the book of Revelation:
● The mention of the sun becoming dark, the moon like blood and stars falling to earth in Revelation 6:12-13 and the prophecy of Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15.
● The exclamation "the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand" in Revelation 6:17 and the same sentiment expressed as a question in Joel 2:11.
● The locust invasion from the abyss at the sound of the fifth trumpet in Revelation 9:7-9 and the locust plague in Joel 2:4-5. In both cases the "locusts" are compared to horses.
● The instruction to reap with a sickle in Revelation 14:15, 18 and Joel 3:13.
● The similarity of Armageddon mentioned in Revelation 16:16 and the Valley of Jehoshaphat in Joel 3:12.
● The mention of the wine press in Revelation 19:15 and Joel 3:13.
● The mention of the river of life flowing from the throne of God in Revelation 22:1 and a spring flowing from the house of God in Joel 3:18.
However, the occurrence of these parallels does not mean that John borrowed from Joel. John reported what he saw and heard. He did not say, "I was reading Joel." To say otherwise is to call John a liar. The point is that John received the same kind of revelations as Joel so that the revelation of God rests on the testimony of two or three witnesses (Matt 18:16). When the parallels are compared side by side, many differences in the details may be noted. See my web article The Composition of Revelation.
"For the day of ADONAI is near against all the nations. ... 17 But on Mount Zion there will be deliverance, and it will be holy. Then the house of Jacob will dispossess those who dispossessed them." (Obad 1:15, 17 TLV)
Obadiah (Heb. Obadyah, "servant of Yah") provides no information about himself in the book and no source outside this book mentions him. There are eleven other men in the Tanakh named "Obadiah."
The shortest book in the Tanakh is described as a "vision" (1:1), which refers to a pictographic revelation. While some scholars date Obadiah after the exile the internal evidence points to the same period as Joel. The only nation mentioned besides Zion is Edom (3 times) or its synonym Esau (7 times). The rebuke of Edom for gloating over an assault on Zion (verses 11-12) likely refers to the pillage of Jerusalem by Philistines and Arabs (2Kgs 8:20-21; 2Chr 21:16-17). Thus, the setting for the book is 853−841 BC.
The prophecy relates to an ancient feud between Edom and Israel. The Edomites were descendants of Esau. Many scholars believe the Edomites carried a grudge because of Jacob supposedly cheating their ancestor out of his birthright. However, no passage makes this connection. The much later resentment of the Edomites most likely arose because of how they were treated under the Judean kings, beginning with Saul (1Sam 14:47) and their later rebellion during the reign of Jehoram (2Kgs 8:20-22).
Addressing Edom (1:2-9), God promised to defeat those with an inflated self-image and destroy the mountain capital which reflected their lofty pride. Their allies would not support them, and neither wise men nor their warriors would be able to save them. The end of verse 1 indicates that already a coalition of nations was planning to attack Edom. The catalog of Edom's crimes (1:10-14) justifies God's wrath. The word "day" is repeated ten times in this section to drive home the point. The purpose of Obadiah is to sustain confidence in God's moral government and hope in the eventual triumph of His just will. Obadiah offers assurance that God is on the throne and cares for His own.
Messiah in Obadiah
ADONAI is the one who proclaims and then acts in judgment and deliverance. His name occurs six times in 21 verses.
Day of ADONAI
Consistent with Joel and later prophets who will announce the coming of Yom YHVH, this day will bring judgment God's people, but on all the nations (verse 15-16, 18). Esau represents the nations opposed to God's purposes in Israel. The fall of Edom would trigger this eschatological event.
God will deliver His people (verse 17) and the kingdom will belong to ADONAI (verse 21). Exiled Israelites will return to the land to occupy it (verses 19-20). Mt. Zion will be the center of redemption, so "ADONAI will dwell in Zion" (verse 21 BR). NOTE: The verb "dwell" (Heb. shakan, abide, dwell, encamp) is an act. participle, so almost all versions render it as present tense. However, the LXX uses the future tense of kataskēnoō (dwell, encamp, tabernacle) to give the sense. Santala says that the Jewish work Yalqut Mechiri interprets the saying "on Mount Zion will be deliverance" as referring to "The one who is to come" (156).
Additional Note: Yalqut
Yalqut is a Hebrew term for a collection of highlighted teachings of a rabbi, often collected by his students. The main emphasis of a yalqut is practical encouragement on how to live according to Torah. Yalqut (also spelled Yalkut) also refers to Medieval anthologies of midrashic literature. The best known and most comprehensive is Yalqut Shimoni ("The Compilation of Simeon"), which covers the entire Hebrew Bible. This Yalqut comprises a connected series of extracts from Talmudic and Midrashic passages drawn up in the 12th and 13th centuries. More limited in scope is Yalqut Machiri, ("The Compilation of Machir b. Abba Mari"), which covers the Prophets, Psalms and Proverbs. Nothing certain is known about these authors.
Usage in Besekh
Scholars have identified a parallel to the book of Obadiah (1:21) in the Besekh (Rev 11:15; GNT 916f), but no direct quotations.
8th Century B.C.
The prophets of the 8th century include Jonah, Hosea, Amos, Micah and Isaiah.
"Salvation belongs to ADONAI." (Jon 1:17 BR)
The prophet Jonah (Heb. Yonah; LXX Grk. Iōna), whose name meant "dove," was a court prophet in the same time period as Amos and Hosea. Jonah prophesied during the reign of King Jeroboam II (c. 793-753 BC) (2Kgs 14:23-25), which makes him the earliest of the "minor prophets." His name appears 17 times in the Tanakh, all but one in the book bearing his name, and 8 times in the Besekh, all in the books of Matthew and Luke (Matt 12:39, 40, 41; 16:4, 17; Luke 11:29, 30, 32). The only background information provided about the prophet is that he was the son of Amittai ("truthful"), from Gath Hepher in Galilee (about 4 miles NE of what was later Nazareth), in the region originally given to the tribe of Zebulun, west of the sea of Galilee (Josh 19:10, 13).
Certain Jewish leaders who claimed that no prophet ever arose from Galilee (John 7:52) apparently had dismissed Jonah, perhaps because of his mission to Gentiles. According to Jewish tradition Jonah was the son of the widow of Zarephath whom Elijah raised from the dead and who is said to have subsequently become his apprentice (Santala 155). Jonah may well have been a contemporary of Elisha and even one of the "sons of the prophets" Elisha trained (cf. 2Kgs 6:1-7) (Morris 18). Later, when Jonah was swallowed by the great fish and then escaped, it was as if he had risen from the dead a second time.
The story of Jonah, full of drama and miracles, is told in four chapters. His book does not contain prophecy per se, rather it contains the history of the prophet. The story of Jonah is about a rebel prophet who rides the "whale" express to Nineveh to become the first missionary to the Gentiles. The message of Jonah is confined to a single sentence (3:4). Because of the book's extraordinary features — the size of Nineveh (3:3); Jonah's survival with a song in the fish's interior, digestive juices notwithstanding; and the suddenly appearing/disappearing plant (4:6-7) — many scholars have doubted its historicity. However, Yeshua's mention of Jonah is all the confirmation needed of his life (Matt 12:39-41; 16:9; Luke 11:30, 32).
Jonah received his commission twice. "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me" (1:2 NASB). Jonah disobeyed and received his punishment. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh because they were the enemy. The idea of giving the city advance warning of divine wrath seemed contrary to common sense. After deliverance from the fish God issued the call again, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you" (3:2). Jonah received the charge from God to proclaim judgment to the Ninevites.
Jonah did not call them to repentance. He simply gave the message of God's impending wrath in forty days (3:4) and the people repented (3:5-10). With repentance of the people God’s judgment was averted. Yet, Jonah complained of God’s mercy (4:2). God demonstrated His grace toward fallen humanity with his question, "Should I not have compassion on Nineveh?" (4:11). The story of Jonah illustrates that (1) God can use people who don’t want to be used by Him; (2) revival and repentance are works of God's Spirit; (3) God desires to show mercy to all peoples and (4) God intended Israel to proclaim this message to the nations. If the Ninevites repented and turned to the God of Israel, how much more should the people of the covenant repent and turn to their Messiah? For a summary and explanation of the content see my web article The Book of Jonah.
Messiah in Jonah
The book of Jonah provides a hint of the Messiah within the prayer of Jonah: "Salvation [Heb. Yeshu'ah] belongs to ADONAI" (2:9). Thus, Jonah represents the prophetic voice of the Messiah. First, Jonah's commission to go to Nineveh is a sign of salvation for the nations (Matt 4:14-16). The book of Jonah speaks in particular of love for one's enemies, as God took pity on the city of Nineveh when they repented. Jonah represented the prophecy found in Isaiah 9:1-2 of light dawning from Zebulun (cf. Ps 107:10-14), since his birthplace was located in the area belonging to the tribe of Zebulun. The promise of light was echoed in the prophetic sermon of Zechariah (Luke 1:78-79). Yeshua is that Light (John 1:4-9).
Second, Jonah's experience represents the suffering and resurrection of the Messiah (Matt 12:39-40). Jonah grew up only a few miles from Nazareth, the childhood home of Yeshua. Yet, the fullest typology of the Messiah was being swallowed and imprisoned by a whale for three days and nights. Jonah's experience with the whale not only symbolized suffering and death, but also resurrection. Santala points out that while Jewish Messianic expectation is often closely bound up with the End Times, eschatology is not merely concerned with the history of the last days. Closely connected to the study of eschatology is how we are to understand death, resurrection, and the reality of life after death. These are the "ultimate issues."
Third, Jonah's message represented the Messiah's judgment (Matt 12:41). Yeshua asserted that Nineveh’s repentance at the preaching of Jonah will condemn unbelieving Jews at the judgment (cf. Matt 16:27). He probably had in mind the judgment that occurs after the Second Coming. (See my commentary on Matthew 25:32-41.) While the religious leaders of Israel recoiled at the suggestion of being condemned while Gentiles would be saved, they knew God's standard as told in the story of Jonah. In the end no one can be saved by their ethnic identification, but all may be saved by the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua.
Day of ADONAI
The expression Yom YHVH does not occur in the book, but the proclamation of divine wrath is of the same kind as will be poured out on the last day.
Chapter Two represents Jonah's hope that his prayer for deliverance from the fish came into the temple of ADONAI and a promise that he would there offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving (2:7-9). Upon that promise ADONAI delivered Jonah from the fish.
Usage in Besekh
Scholars have identified parallels to six verses of the book of Jonah in the Besekh (GNT 917), including the following strong allusions:
● In Matthew 12:39 Yeshua identifies Jonah the prophet as a Messianic sign.
● In Matthew 12:40 Yeshua repeats the fact of Jonah's imprisonment in the great fish (Jonah 1:17).
● In Matthew 12:41 Yeshua mentions the repentance of Nineveh (Jonah 3:5-10).
● Simon Peter is identified as a descendant of Jonah (Matthew 16:17).
"For the sons of Israel will dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or a sacred stone, without an ephod or idol. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek ADONAI their God and David their king and they will come in awe to ADONAI and to His goodness in the last days." (Hos 3:5 BR)
Hosea (Heb. Hoshea, "deliverance") was the son of Beeri (1:1) and conducted his prophetic ministry to the northern kingdom of Israel, c. 753-716 BC, during the reigns of "Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel (1:1)." Hosea began his ministry 20 years earlier than Isaiah and continued it for over 40 years. He warned Israel of the threat of Assyria, called Israel to repentance for idolatry, warned the nation that rebellion will reap the whirlwind, but promised ultimate restoration.
The unusual feature of this book of 14 chapters is the instruction to the prophet to marry Gomer, who is charged with zenunim (SH-2183, harlotries), a noun derived from zanah (SH-2181), temple prostitute or a female who engages in unlawful sexual relations. Gomer bore him three children (1:3-8). While God's instruction was certainly shocking, it is also true that God directed many of His prophets to do strange things that might be considered repugnant. They all obeyed Him. As for Hosea there was no Torah rule that would have restricted him from contracting such a marriage.
After the children had been born Gomer left him, but Hosea restored her (3:1-5). Through his personal experience Hosea experienced the pain in God's heart because of the harlotries of His covenant people. In the very personal example of Hosea we see that God's relationship with His covenant people is likened to marriage. "And it will be in that day," says ADONAI, "You will call me Ishi [man, husband] and will no longer call me Baali [master] ... I will betroth you to me forever" (2:16, 19). The use of Ishi also hints at the incarnation of ADONAI. It is no accident that Yeshua referred to himself as a bridegroom (Matt 9:15; 25:1; John 3:29).
Messiah in Hosea
Hosea focuses on the role of Messiah as king and the Messianic prophecy is expressed with five elements (Kaiser 142). First, as stated in 3:5 (quoted above), the Messiah will return when Israel returns to their God. Second, the Messiah will be a descendant of David, for he is called "David their king." The Messiah is the culmination of the Davidic line as promised (2Sam 7:14). Third, He will be a great king who will rule over those who fear him. Fourth, the northern tribes that broke away from Judah after the days of Solomon will give allegiance to someone in the line of David, only he will be far greater than David ever was. Israel and Judah must be reunited because the whole kingdom was promised to David as an everlasting gift. Fifth, the Messiah is closely identified with ADONAI (YHVH), yet at the same time distinguished from him. In addition, the sons of Israel will come to Messiah-King in the last days.
A hint of the Messiah is also found in Hosea 11:1, "And from Egypt I called my son." This saying has layers of meaning. First, God had referred to Israel as His first-born son (Ex 4:22-23). While intended as a covenantal relationship, "son" nonetheless referred to all twelve tribes, not just the northern kingdom. Second, God not only called His people to leave the land of Egypt, but to come out of Egyptian philosophy and idolatry. Third, there is the implication of someone greater, as God said through Solomon, "Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!" (Prov 30:4). Thus, it is that Matthew recognized in the sojourn of Yeshua's family in Egypt a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy (Matt 2:15). A modern Jewish scholar, Rabbi Yekotel Weiss in his book Devash Vechalav, concluded that Hosea 11:1 speaks of the Messiah and not Israel (Shapira 246).
Day of ADONAI
The expression Yom YHVH does not occur in Hosea, but the prophet warned the northern kingdom of the threat of Assyria (5:8-15). Rebellion will reap the whirlwind (8:7) and the unfaithful will reap national destruction (8:13-14).
"In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, The birds of heaven and the creeping things of the ground. And I will break the bow, the sword and war from the land, and will make them lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to Me forever; I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in covenant loyalty and in compassion, 20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness; and you shall know ADONAI."(2:18-20 BR).
God promised to renew His marriage covenant with His people (2:16-23). In doing so, God will remove the pagan elements of their worship (2:16-17) and restore His people to a right relationship with the animal kingdom (2:18). God will abolish war and grant peace and security to His people (2:18). God will establish a new and permanent relationship with His people based on His character and bless His people (Hosea 2:19-23). God assures Israel that His love is the basis of future hope for His people (3:1-5). God's love is strong enough to overcome the unfaithfulness of His people and deep enough to redeem His people (3:1-2). God's love is courageous enough to discipline His people (3:3-4) and ultimately win the return of His people (3:5).
"Come, let us return to ADONAI. For He has torn, but He will heal us. He has smitten, but He will bind us up. 2 After two days He will revive us. On the third day He will raise us up, and we will live in His presence." (Hos 6:1-2 TLV)
"I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death. O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting?" (Hos 13:14 ESV)
Especially significant is God's promise that one day the people will experience the power of the resurrection (6:1-2 above). In Jewish writings the "third day" represented resurrection as midrashim (commentaries) on various passages indicate (Gen 22:4-5; 42:16-19; Ex 19:14-16; Josh 2:16; Jon 1:15-17; Ezra 8:15-16). Paul quotes from Hosea in his teaching on the resurrection (1Cor 15:55). The Targum paraphrases the words thus, "he will quicken us in the days of consolation which are to come, and in the day of the resurrection of the dead he will raise us up." The expression "days of consolation" refer to the days of the Messiah. Jonathan's Targum also says of this time that "they will sit in the shade of their Messiah" (quoted in Santala 154).
Usage in the Besekh
Hosea is mentioned by name in Romans 9:25. Scholars have identified parallels to 15 verses of the book of Hosea in the Besekh (GNT 916), including the following strong allusions and quotations:
● Matthew 2:15 reports fulfillment of the prophecy in Hosea 11:1.
● In Matthew 9:13 Yeshua repeats the divine prerogative stated in Hosea 6:6.
● In Luke 23:30 Yeshua quotes from Hosea 10:8 while en route to the cross.
● In Luke 24:46 Yeshua's declaration of the Messiah being resurrected in three days alludes to Hosea 6:2.
● In Romans 9:25-26 Paul conflates Hosea 1:10 and 2:23 to assert the promise of God's mercy.
● In 1Corinthians 15:55 Paul quotes Hosea 13:14 to affirm the future victory of death in the resurrection.
"In that day I will raise up David's fallen sukkah. I will restore its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in days of old." (Amos 9:11 TLV)
The prophet Amos (Heb. Amôs, "burden bearer") was a shepherd from Tekoa, near Jerusalem. He specifically disclaimed being a prophet or the son of a prophet (7:14). Amos was active around 782-753 BC, during the reigns of King Uzziah and King Jeroboam II, but his main work was to be within the northern kingdom.
In the first chapter Amos focuses on judgments against the Arameans, Philistines, Edomites, Ammonites, and Moabites. Then in the second chapter he turns his attention to Judah and the northern kingdom. The bulk of his prophecy concerns social justice, and he calls the errant people to seek ADONAI (5:5-6, 14).
Memorable passages in Amos include the numerical parallelism "for three transgressions … for four" (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6), and the visions of the plumb line (7:7-9) and basket of fruit (8:2). Amos prophesied that the northern kingdom would be invaded and the people taken into captivity (7:17). When Amos spoke this prophecy there were as yet no grounds, humanly speaking, for such a proclamation of judgment. Yet, Amos concludes his litany of bad news with future hope.
Messiah in Amos
The prophecy of Amos 9:11 (quoted above) anticipates the reestablishment of the house of David over Israel. Jacob, the half-brother of Yeshua, quoted this verse in an exhortation to the Jerusalem elders. "Rebuilding David's fallen sukkah" is a word picture of the incarnate Messiah dwelling in the midst of God's chosen people, the first step to enabling the nations to call upon the God of Israel (Acts 15:15-17). David's house is viewed as a "booth" (Heb. sukkah), a term associated with the Festival of Booths (Sukkot; Deut 16:16; 31:10). A booth was a temporary shelter that each Israelite pilgrim constructed and lived in for seven days (Lev 23:34-43). The use of "booth" is not meant to insult David, but to contrast him with the permanence of his Messianic successor.
The verb "fallen" is a present active participle, which stresses the fact that either its present state ("falling") or its impending state ("about to fall") indicates a demotion of the once glorious dynasty of David in the days of Amos (Kaiser 145). But God promises to "raise up" or "restore" (Hiphil Impf. of Heb. qum, "arise, stand"). Of interest is that the LXX translates qum with anistēmi ("rise, stand up"), which is used of the resurrection of Yeshua (Acts 2:24). Thus the promise may hint of the resurrection of Messiah. The verb qum is often used when God intervenes to demonstrate his glory and salvation. The time when God raises up the Messianic king will be "in that day," an eschatological expression associated with the "last days" of the first and second comings of the Messiah (cf. Heb 1:1-2).
The second promise in the verse is that God will restore the "breaches" and "ruins," which no doubt point to the two kingdoms of northern and southern Israel that had been divided since 931 BC (Kaiser 146). God heal the breach and restore the northern ten tribes into the fold of Davidic kingship. In the days of Messiah the nation will be restored as a single entity again. This unification is assumed in the promise of the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31 and later pictured in Ezekiel 37:15-28. The phrase "days of old" points back to the promise of 2Samuel 7:11-16 where God promised to raise up a "seed" of David after him and give him a throne and dynasty that would endure forever.
Day of ADONAI
Amos linked the future restoration of Israel with the house of David, proclaiming the coming of Yom YHVH (4:2; 5:8, 18, 20; 8:3, 11; 9:13), in part reminiscent of Joel's near cosmic description of the time of judgment. The Day of ADONAI will be a day of darkness (Amos 5:18, 20).
Amos offers a message of hope with restoration of exiles to the land and agricultural abundance (9:11-15).
Usage in the Besekh
Amos is mentioned by name in the genealogy of Luke 3:25, which most likely means he was an ancestor of Miriam, mother of Yeshua. Scholars have identified parallels to 12 verses of the book of Amos in the Besekh (GNT 917), including the following quotations:
● In Acts 7:42-43 Stephen quotes from Amos 5:25-27 to compare the sins of Israel in the past with the sins of the Sanhedrin.
● In Acts 15:16-17 Peter quotes from Amos 9:11-12 as a Messianic prophecy and a basis to reject legalism.
"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity." (Mic 5:2 NASB)
Micah (Heb. Mikah, an abbreviated form of Mikayah "who is like Yah?) was from Moresheth-Gath in Judah (1:1). He was a younger contemporary of Isaiah. The ministry of Micah spanned 740-700 BC during the reigns of Jotham (740-732 BC), Ahaz (732-716) and Hezekiah 716-687).
The book of Micah divides easily into three major blocks of material, each beginning with the call to "hear:" 1:2−2:13; 3:1−5:15; and 6:1−7:20 (Kaiser 149). Micah rebukes the corrupt leaders of Judah for falling into the sins of Samaria (1:5) and blasts pervasive injustice in all its forms (2:1-9). God delights in being a loving God (7:18) and God is faithful to His covenant with Abraham (7:20). The prophet Micah gives a more detailed account of the Messianic hope than previous pre-exile prophets. The book contains remarkable prophecies of the birth of Messiah, the kingdom of Messiah, and Judah's future restoration.
Messiah in Micah
The Breaker: In 2:13 a leader for the flock of Israel is introduced as "the breaker." The picture of the Breaker alludes to the Good Shepherd who lies down in the doorway to the sheep pen to keep the sheep from straying outside and to prevent will animals from coming in the pen to harm the sheep (cf. John 10:7). When the time is right he will open the passage way so that the sheep can break forth into the pastures. Kaiser suggests that Micah may also be thinking of the Messiah as something who will smash through the ranks of the besieging army that has surrounded the remnant of Israel (150). In that case the Breaker is a conquering-Messiah, one who will come and rescue his people. The verse also uses Breaker as a synonym of king.
Rashi saw in Micah's words "their deliverer, the one who will open the way", whereas RaDaQ reckoned that "the one who will open the way is Elijah, and their king is The Branch, the Son of David." The Rabbis saw a connection between this prophecy of Micah and the description of Elijah at the end of Malachi, Elijah who will once more "turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal 4:6).
Teacher-Ruler: In 4:1-3 ADONAI will teach His ways to the nations streaming to Zion and will send forth the Torah from Zion. In doing so He will mediate between nations to bring about peace and the end of war. Then in 4:7 "ADONAI will reign over them on Mount Zion from that time and forever." The Targum describes the king of Micah 4:7-8 as signifying the Messiah. The Targum says somewhat oddly that, "Israel's Messiah has been concealed on account of the sins of Zion, but later the kingdom will dawn for him" (Santala 162f).
Ruler-Shepherd: Micah does not mention David by name, but he predicts a ruler will come forth from Bethlehem, the city of David, and yet will be one who has preexisted from eternity (5:2 quoted above). The coming ruler will rise from the tribe of Judah and "tend His flock with the strength of ADONAI" (5:3 TLV). The Targum interprets this passage as indicating the Messiah (Santala 163).
Light: "7 But I—I will watch for ADONAI. I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. 8… Though I sit in darkness, ADONAI is my light. 9...He will bring me out to the light, and I will behold His righteousness." (7:7, 8, 9 TLV). Thus, Micah promises that ADONAI our Light will come into the darkness of men.
Day of ADONAI
Micah does not use the expression Yom YHVH, but he warns that ADONAI is coming from his place in heaven to the earth and he will tread upon the places of idolatry (1:3) and judgment will follow. "That Day" (2:4; 4:6; 5:10; 7:11-13) is synonymous with Yom YHVH.
Micah offered a message of comfort. Micah promised that a remnant will be preserved (2:12; 4:7-8; 5:7-8). There will be restoration of the land and the spread of Torah in the last days (4:1-7). He also promised complete pardon (7:18-19).
Usage in the Besekh
Scholars have identified parallels to eight verses of the book of Micah in the Besekh (GNT 917), including the allusions or quotations:
● The Besekh (John 1:1, 14; 8:58; Eph 1:3-4; Rev 1:18) affirms the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Micah 5:2 that the Messiah will have eternal existence.
● The apostolic narratives of Matthew 2:6 and John 7:42 quote from Micah 5:2 to assert that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.
● In Matthew 10:35-36 (para. Luke 12:53) Yeshua quotes from Micah 7:6 to describe the division in families because of some following him.
● The narrative of Matthew 27:30 reports the fulfillment of Micah 5:1 that the Messiah would be struck on the cheek.
"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isa 7:14 ESV)
Isaiah (Heb. Yeshayahu) has a special compound name that means "YHVH is salvation" or "YHVH has saved." Isaiah was the son of Amoz of the tribe of Judah and perhaps related to the royal house. The prophet lived during the reigns of the Judean kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and probably the first years of Manasseh. He was contemporary with the last five kings of Israel: Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hosea. Isaiah received his call to ministry in a dramatic fashion in the year King Uzziah died, c. 740 BC (Isa 6:1). His prophetic ministry lasted forty years during which he was an adviser (court prophet) to Ahaz and Hezekiah. He married a prophetess and had two sons (Isa 7:3; 8:3). Jewish tradition says that Isaiah was put to death by King Manasseh by being sawn in half (cf. Heb 11:37), so Yebamoth 49b; Ascension of Isaiah 1:9; 5:2.
Isaiah is the longest of the prophetic books, containing almost half of the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh. Isaiah wrote mostly warnings in the first half of his book and mostly comfort and promise in the second half. Various scholars have proposed that some unknown author wrote the second half of book of Isaiah (40−66) and a few scholars have actually suggested a Third Isaiah (56−66). Against this viewpoint are these arguments: (1) for 25 centuries no one doubted that Isaiah was the author of all 66 chapters; (2) there is no evidence whatever that the two (or three) parts of the book ever existed separately; and (3) all the quotations in the Besekh from parts of Isaiah labeled as "Second" and "Third" Isaiah" attribute those passages to Isaiah the prophet (e.g., John 1:23).
We're supposed to believe that some of the greatest literature in the Bible, not to mention the world, with its many and detailed prophecies of the Messiah, was written by someone completely anonymous and unremembered in Judaism. Modern scholars go to incredible lengths to avoid believing in the truth of biblical material, just because they can't accept that the Lord revealed the name of Cyrus (Isa 44:28; 45:1) almost two hundred years before he was born or that Isaiah was given words of exhortation and comfort for a people he knew would go into exile (Isa 39:6). If they can't believe the prophecy about Cyrus, how can they believe the prophecies that named the Messiah (Isa 7:14; 9:6; 46:13; 51:5; 59:16)?
The Besekh quotes from both parts of Isaiah, attributing him as the author (Matt 13:14 citing Isa 6:9-10 and John 12:38 citing Isa 53:1). Highlights of the book include Isaiah's extraordinary vision of seraphim (6:1-7), Judah's deliverance from Assyria (36:1–37:38), Hezekiah's healing and extended life (38:1-22), the prophecy of Cyrus, king of Persia (44:28; 45:1), the Suffering Servant's ministry (Chaps 49—57), and the vision of the new heavens and the new earth (66:22).
Messiah in Isaiah
The oldest Jewish sources, the Targum and Talmud, speak of the Messiah in connection to 62 separate verses in Isaiah (Santala 164). These are only a small sample. The Targum, the Aramaic paraphrase of the Bible, reads the following passages in Isaiah as referring to the Messiah: 4:2; 9:5; 10:27; 11:1, 6; 14:29; 16:1; 28:5; 42:1; 43:10; 52:13 and 60:1. The observations of the Targum are generally very short; e.g., Isaiah 16:1 says: "Send lambs as tribute to the ruler of the land." The Targum comments that "tribute is to he brought to the Messiah." The Talmud also comments on the Messianic idea with reference to Isaiah: Shabbath 89b, Pesachim 5a, 68a, Rosh Hashanah 11b, Mo'ed Katan 28b, Yebamoth 62a and 63b, Ketuboth 112b, Sanhedrin 38a, 91b, 93b, 94a, 97a, 97b, 98a, 99a and 110b.
According to the Table of Contents of Motyer the text of Isaiah may be divided into three books:
1. The Book of the King, Chapters 1–37. In the first book, the Messiah is presented as The Branch of ADONAI (4:2), Immanuel (7:14), the Ruling Son (9:6-7), the Shoot of Jesse (11:1), the Foundation Stone (28:16), and the Teacher (30:19-26).
2. The Book of the Servant, Chapters 38–55. The second book presents the Servant's ministry (42:1-7), the Servant's mission to the world (49:1-6), the Servant's suffering (50:4-9), and the Servant's atonement (52:13–53:12).
3. The Book of the Anointed Conqueror, Chapters 56–66. The third book presents a restored Zion (60:1-14), the Messiah as proclaimer of Good News (61:1-3) and Messiah as conqueror (63:1-6).
Messiah as Branch
In Chapter 4:2 Messiah is the Branch [Heb. tsemach] of ADONAI. The botanical metaphor probably had its origin in David's last words: "Is it not true that my house is with God? For He made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered and secured in all things. Will He not make all my salvation and every desire come to fruition? [Heb. tsamach)" (2Sam 23:5 TLV). Kaiser notes that the verb "come to fruition" could be translated "cause to sprout, branch out or shoot" (156). So in Isaiah "Branch" becomes a designation of the Messiah. Moreover, the Branch is "of ADONAI," emphasizing his deity. In the context of this passage the prophet declares Israel must be cleansed of sin, but who can forgive sin but God alone? (cf. 1Sam 2:25) It is also important to note that the genitival relationship expressed by the word "of" denotes source or origin. Messiah is the Branch that comes from YHVH.
The verse goes on to describe the impact of the Branch on others. He will be seen as beautiful, not in physical appearance (cf. Isa 53:2), but because of his character and life. He will be glorious, because he will have the bearing and majesty of God. The description may also be an allusion to his transfiguration. Then Messiah will be the "fruit of the land." Messiah is rooted in the soil of Israel. Yeshua referred to himself as the fruit-producing vine (John 15:1-5). Finally, the Branch's subjects will be the remnant.
Messiah as King
In Chapter 7:14 Isaiah offers one of the most important prophecies in the whole book: "Therefore ADONAI Himself will give to you a sign: Behold, the virgin is pregnant and bearing a son, and she will call his name Immanuel" (BR). Considerable controversy resulted when some modern versions translated almah in the Isaiah passage with "young woman" instead of "virgin" (CEB, NET, NRSV, RSV, TEV). Other versions with "virgin" also have a marginal note "or young woman." Almah occurs seven times in the Hebrew Bible (also Gen 24:43; Ex 2:8; Ps 68:25; Prov 30:19; SS 1:3; 6:8) and always refers to an unmarried woman of good reputation (Stern 6). Relevant is the fact that the Jewish scholars who produced the LXX translated almah with parthenos, which has the specific meaning of "virgin."
In the LXX parthenos only translates almah two times, the other passage being is Genesis 24:43, which pertains to Rebecca who is clearly identified as a virgin in verse 16. Parthenos is used in the Besekh of Miriam who bore Yeshua (Matt 1:23; Luke 1:27). While some who object to the virgin birth insist that Isaiah only prophesied a birth for King Ahaz, a near fulfillment, the fuller context of the passage indicates that the promised sign was for a distant fulfillment, for the entire house of David (Isa 7:13). Not only will the birth of the Messiah be of a miraculous nature, even his name will indicate a very different king of king than has ever been known before. He will be Immanuel ─ "God with us."
In Chapter 9:6-7 Isaiah again speaks of a son to be born who will sit on the throne of David. The context is the same as the Immanuel prediction. However, the new prophecy looks ahead to the age of Messiah, which will be characterized by the son of David reigning over the earth with all the functions of government (executive, judicial and legislative) vested in the one man. The Messiah is given a very special four-fold title: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Since names in Scripture typically denote character, these four names identify attributes of deity manifested in the Messiah. He will do wondrous or extraordinary things. He will have the Spirit of wisdom. He will possess the might and power of God.
Calling Messiah "Everlasting Father" is not meant to confuse the triunity of God. "Father" generally denotes a parent or parental role, but as a name for the Messiah, "Father" emphasizes both His activity as creator and sustainer. ADONAI is often referred to as "father" in the Tanakh to denote His relationship with His people (Deut 32:6; Ps 68:5; 89:26; 103:13; Prov 3:12; Isa 63:16; 64:8). The one who will arrive later is one who has been here from the before the beginning of time. He is also the one who has brought into existence the very people He calls to Himself (Kaiser 164). Finally, Messiah is the Prince of Peace (Heb. Sar Shalom). His reign will be marked by the absence of nations at war with one another. Indeed only Messiah's rule can accomplish such peace on earth.
In Chapter 11:1 the Messiah is identified as a "branch" (Heb. chôter) from the "stock" (Heb. geza) of Jesse, and a "branch" (Heb. netser) from the "roots" (Heb. shoresh) of Jesse, who was, of course, the father of David. Describing the Messiah as a branch of Jesse emphasizes his humanity and Davidic origin. Isaiah lauds the descendant of Jesse with compliments that David exhibited in part, but will be seen in perfection in the Messiah. He will be full of the Spirit and endowed with wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and the fear of God. He will judge others according to the righteousness defined by Torah and exhibit faithfulness to all that God desired.
The kingship of the Messiah is described in other portraits. He will be the judge of the Land (16:5). He will sit in the tent of David and serve as a judge to do justice. Then in 28:16 the Messiah is presented as a Stone that will provide a sound foundation. When Jacob blessed his son Joseph, he referred to God as "the Mighty One of Jacob, the "Stone of Israel" (Gen 49:24). Moses referred to ADONAI as his "rock" (Deut 32:4, 15, 18, 31). Isaiah, too, used this designation earlier in this book (8:14; 17:10; 26:4). Whereas the stone is God in those passages, in 28:16 the stone is separate from God. The Father is the one who lays the Stone in Zion. This Stone is tested and precious. Then in 30:19-21 Messiah will be the Teacher in the midst of his people who will instruct them in the way to live.
Messiah as Servant
The dominate figure in Isaiah 40─53, the so-called "Servant Songs," is the "Servant of ADONAI." Modern Jewish scholars prefer to identify the Servant with Israel, and while this may fit some passages (41:8-10; 44:1-3, 21; 45:4), the term "servant" occurs in this section of Isaiah twenty times in the singular. These descriptions are clearly of an individual. The Talmudic Sages recognized the Servant as the Messiah (Sanhedrin 98a; Sukkah 52a).
In 42:1-9 the Servant will be anointed with the Holy Spirit and he will bring justice. He will be appointed as a covenant to the people of Israel and a light to the nations. He will open blind eyes and release people from bondage. In 49:1-7 the Servant has a human birth and is commissioned to bring Jacob back to God and be a light to the nations, so that salvation may reach the ends of the earth. In 50:4-9 the Servant suffers a dark night of the soul, experiencing physical assault and personal humiliation, much as Yeshua did in Gethsemane and his trials before his death. The Servant endures the harsh treatment knowing that he will be vindicated by God.
In 52:13-15 the Servant will be lifted up and exalted. In the lifting up (a metaphor of Messiah's execution, John 3:14; 12:32) his appearance will be marred beyond recognition but he will sprinkle many nations. The verb "sprinkle" (Heb. nazah) occurs often in Torah passages of sprinkling blood for atonement. The Messiah will then be exalted in resurrection. Chapter 53, one of the most powerful messages in all of Scripture, continues the atonement theme. The Servant is a man of humble origins, but is rejected, including his words and his deeds (verses 1-3). Then the Servant bears our griefs, our sorrows, our sins and our iniquities. He is willing to endure cruel treatment, his body pierced and scourged, for his sheep that have gone astray (verses 4-6).
The Servant becomes like a lamb, an atoning sacrifice for the transgression of God's people, and cut off from the land of the living. Though he dies with the wicked, he is buried with the rich (verses 7-9). Yet, the sacrifice of the Servant pleases ADONAI, who declares that while the Servant bears the iniquities of the many he will also live and become an intercessor for his people (verses 10-12). The second book concludes with a reminder in chapter 54 that God is the faithful husband to Israel and in chapter 55 He calls Israel to come to the waters of life and seek ADONAI while He may be found.
Messiah as Anointed Conqueror
The final portion of Isaiah begins with an interlude featuring various rebukes for hedonism, unfaithfulness and violations of sacred duties (Chapters 56–59). presents the Messiah as one who will overcome all opposition and fulfill all the promises made to the fathers and to David. The Messiah will bring a proclamation of Good News (Isa 61:1-3). Then, the Messiah who brings deliverance to the people of Israel (Isa 63:1-6).
Day of ADONAI
This will be a day of judgment on the nations (13:6-16). Isaiah repeats the heavenly portents of Joel of the sun and moon not giving their light and a great earthquake shaking the earth.
After the period of judgment, God’s covenant people will be restored. God will send his servant to redeem Israel. Natural enemies will coexist in peace (65:25) and the earth will be full of the knowledge of ADONAI (11:6-9). The remnant of Israel will be restored to the land and the tribes will unite (11:11-16). There will be new heavens and a new earth (65:17; 66:17-23).
Usage in the Besekh
Isaiah is mentioned by name 22 times in the Besekh, often to introduce a quotation from the book. Scholars have identified 163 allusions or quotations from Isaiah in the Besekh, the most by far of any book in the Tanakh. To see a complete list of the references click here. Most notable are predictions of the Messiah reported as fulfilled:
● He will be born of a virgin: Isa 7:14; Matt 1:18, 25; Luke 1:26-35.
● He will have a ministry in Galilee: Isa 9:1-2; Matt 4:12-16.
● He will have God's own name applied to him: Isa 9:6-7; Jer 23:5-6; John 8:58; Php 2:9-11.
● He will be anointed with the Spirit of God: Isa 11:2; 61:1; Matt 3:16; John 3:34; Acts 10:38.
● He will be a teacher of righteousness who will explain the Torah: Isa 30:19-21; Matt 5:17; 22:16; John 4:25-26).
● He will minister to the needy with healing and good news of God's salvation: Isa 35:5-6; 61:1-2; Matt 11:5; Luke 4:18-19.
● He will be preceded by one who would announce him: Isa 40:3-5; Mal 3:1; Matt 3:1-3; Luke 1:17; 3:2-6.
● He will be tender and compassionate: Isa 40:11; 42:3; Matt 12:15, 20; Heb 4:15.
● He will be meek: Isa 42:2; Matt 12:15-16, 19.
● He will be hated without a cause: Isa 49:7; John 15:24–25.
● He will be beaten: Isa 50:6; Matt 26:67; 27:26, 30.
● He will be rejected by his own people: Isa 53:2-3; 63:3-5; Mark 6:3; Luke 9:58; John 1:11; 7:3-5.
● He will be sinless and without guile: Isa 53:9; 1Pet 2:22.
● He will bear the reproaches due others: Isa 53:11-12; Rom 15:3.
● He will be betrayed by a friend: Isa 55:12-14; Matt 26:21–25, 47–50; John 13:18–19; Acts 1:16–18.
● He will be considered a transgressor: Isa 53:12: Matt 27:38.
● He will be buried with the rich when dead: Isa 53:9; Matt 27:57-60.
7th Century B.C.
The prophets of the 7th century include Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Nahum.
"The days are coming," says ADONAI, "when I will raise a righteous Branch for David. He will reign as king and succeed, he will do what is just and right in the land. 6 In his days Y’hudah will be saved, Isra’el will live in safety, and the name given to him will be ADONAI Tzidkenu [ADONAI our righteousness]." (Jer 23:5 CJB)
Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah, a priest from Anathoth (1:1). He was called to be a prophet in the thirteenth year of King Josiah (c. 627/6 BC) (1:2), and according to 1:5 Jeremiah was predestined to this office, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (NIV). He was forbidden to marry or have children (16:2). Jeremiah's ministry lasted about 40 years, being active during the reigns of Jehoahaz (609 B.C.), Jehoiakim (609-587 B.C.), Jehoiachin (597 B.C.), and Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.).
God required Jeremiah to perform ten symbolic actions in order to teach him some important spiritual lessons:
● Burying a linen girdle near the Euphrates (13:1-11).
● Living without wife or children (16:1-14).
● Visiting the potter’s house (18:1-23).
● Breaking a jar in the Valley of Ben-hinnom (19:1-15).
● Wearing an oxen yoke (27:1-22)
● Redeeming Hanamel’s field (32:6-44)
● Offering wine to the Rechabites (35:1-19)
● Hiding stones in Egypt (43:8-13)
● Sinking the scroll in the Euphrates (51:59-64)
When Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C., Jeremiah moved to Mizpah, the capital where Gedaliah served as the newly appointed governor of Judah by the Babylonians (40:5). When Gedaliah was assassinated (41:1), Jeremiah was deported to Egypt against his will by Jewish officers who had survived the catastrophes (42:1-43:7). In Egypt he warned his fellow exiles that God's judgment would reach them in Egypt and God would cut off all Judah (43:8−44:30). This is the last we read of Jeremiah's activities.
Jeremiah is often called "the weeping prophet" because he wept openly about the sins of his nation and their unwillingness to repent (9:1). He was depressed at times about the futility of his message and lamented about the suffering he endured (20:7). The message of judgment was exceedingly distasteful to Jeremiah, yet the word of ADONAI was like a burning fire within (20:9). Jeremiah's laments are akin to the weeping of Yeshua over Jerusalem (Matt 23:37-39; Luke 19:41).
There is a Jewish tradition from the time of the Maccabees that Jeremiah secretly removed sacred items from the temple before its destruction to hide them from the Babylonians:
"4 It was also in the writing that the prophet [Jeremiah], having received an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark should follow with him, and that he went out to the mountain where Moses had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God. 5 And Jeremiah came and found a cave, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense, and he sealed up the entrance. 6 Some of those who followed him came up to mark the way, but could not find it. 7 When Jeremiah learned of it, he rebuked them and declared: "The place shall be unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy. 8 And then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will appear, as they were shown in the case of Moses, and as Solomon asked that the place should be specially consecrated." (2Maccabees 2:4-8 RSV)
The book, consisting of 52 chapters, is one of the longest books in the Bible. Jeremiah had prophesied for twenty years God commanded him to reproduce his messages in writing (36:1-2). Jeremiah was assisted in the literary endeavor by Baruch, (36:4, 32; 45:1) The content of the book can be divided into four parts: (1) Jeremiah's call, signs and assurance (1:1-19); (2) prophecies to Judah (2:1−45:5); (3) oracles against neighboring nations, including (Egypt (46:1-28), Philistia (47:1-7), Moab (48:1-47), Ammon (49:1-6), Edom (49:7-22), Damascus (49:23-27), Kedar and Hazor (49:28-33), Elam (49:34-39) and Babylon, as well (50:1−51:64); and (4) the fall of Jerusalem (52:1-34). Much of the book is devoted to Jeremiah's repeated warnings of judgment via Babylon (20:4). Indeed, the name "Babylon" appears over 150 times in the book.
Messiah in Jeremiah
ADONAI our Righteousness
In the passage quoted above (23:5-6) the Messiah will be the "branch" (Heb. tsemach) or descendant of David and heir to his throne. (Isaiah used this title of the Messiah in 11:1.) Moreover, the Messiah will have the sacred name "YHVH" applied to him and thus must be divine. Finally, he is "our righteousness" denoting his very nature and his work. The time when this will take place (verse 5) is stated as "the days are coming," that is, the Messianic age. The next verse affirms that in his days, he will rule wisely and unite Judah and Israel so that they can live in safety.
Messiah as Priestly King
"8 It will be in that day," it is a declaration of ADONAI-Tzva'ot, "that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and will tear off your bonds. Foreigners will no longer enslave him. 9 Instead they will serve ADONAI their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. ... 21 His noble one will be one of His own. His ruler will come forth from among His own. I will bring Him near, and He will approach Me. For who is he who will pledge his heart to approach Me?" (TLV)
In 30:8-9 it is clear that "in that day" the Lord will "raise up David their king" for Israel. This is not a statement of reincarnation, but a reminder that the Messianic king will come from the loins of David. He will break the yoke of bondage and bring freedom. When the Israelites serve the Messianic king they will in fact be serving ADONAI. The Davidic king will also be a priest, as implied by the wording of verse 21. The description, "I will bring him near, and he will approach me" belongs only to those persons whom God has consecrated for this task. After all, who would risk death approach the holy God if he were not certain of being accepted (Kaiser 191).
The Unbreakable Promise of Messiah
15 "In those days and at that time, I will cause a Branch of Righteousness to spring up for David, and He will execute justice and righteousness in the land. … 20 "If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that day and night would not be at in their appointed time, 21 only then may My covenant be broken with My servant David, that he would not have a son to reign on his throne, and the Levitical kohanim [priests] would not be My ministers." (33:15, 20-21 TLV)
In 33:14-26 the promise of the Branch and the Davidic kingdom is repeated and expounded on. In this passage God's makes an inviolable promise that it would be easier to eliminate the sun and the moon than He should fail to keep His promise to David (2Sam 7:12-16) and Levi (Num 25:13; Mal 2:4-5, 8). The royal line and the priestly role will continue in the coming days when the Messiah appears.
Day of ADONAI
While the expression Yom YHVH does not occur in Jeremiah, there are laments against enemies of Israel that includes pronouncements of judgment on all the nations of the earth comparable to other passages that mention the day of God's wrath (25:30-33; 46:10; 50:31).
In spite of the bad news in the book Jeremiah taught that ADONAI is in control of Israel’s destiny and promised that ADONAI would make all things new. To convey future hope Jeremiah employed the declaration "the days are coming" 16 times.
● Israel will have to endure a terrible time of trouble, but God will bring salvation from afar (30:7-8).
● Promise of Davidic Messiah, 23:5-6; 30:9, 21-24; 33:14-26 (the branch of David)
● Return of exiles, 16:14; 23:7-8; 30:3, 10; 31:1-14; 32:36-37
● Renewal of the Land, 31:27-28; 32:42-44
● New covenant, 31:31-34; 32:38-40
● Rebuilding of Jerusalem, 31:38-40
● Levitical priests continue ministry, 33:18
● Judgment on enemies, 48:12-13; 49:2; 51:47-52
Especially significant is the promise of the New Covenant in Chapter 31:
"Behold, the days are coming," says ADONAI, "that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; that they broke my covenant, although I was a husband to them," says ADONAI. 33 "This shall be the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days," says ADONAI: "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be God to them, and they shall be a people to me." (31:31-33 BR).
It is clear that the New Covenant was made with Judah and Israel. No Gentiles and certainly no Christian Church are mentioned. The terms of the New Covenant (Heb. B'rit Chadash) are strikingly similar to the original covenant God made with Israel at Sinai. Contrary to Christian theology the New Covenant does not replace the Old Covenant, but rejuvenates it and empowers disciples to fulfill its expectations (cf. Rom 8:3-4). The New Covenant of which Yeshua spoke at the Last Supper (Luke 22:20) is the New Covenant of the Hebrew prophets. The apostles also declared that these promises find their fulfillment in Messiah Yeshua (Heb 12:24; cf. Isa 42:6). Gentiles receive the benefits of this covenant by virtue of being grafted into the Olive Tree (Rom 11) and being granted citizenship in the Commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2).
Future hope for Israel is summarized in this important verse: "For I know the plans I have devised for you," says ADONAI, "plans of shalom and not evil, plans to give to you a future and a hope." (29:11 MINE).
Usage in the Besekh
Jeremiah is mentioned by name three times in the Besekh (Matt 2:17; 16:14; 27:9). Scholars have identified parallels to over 90 verses of Jeremiah in the Besekh (GNT 913f), including the following allusions and quotations.
● Matthew 2:18 quotes from Jeremiah 31:15 as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Rachel's children being slaughtered.
● In Matthew 21:13 (para. Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46) Yeshua quotes from Jeremiah 7:11 to assert that the temple was to be a house of prayer for the nations.
● In 1Corinthians 1:31 and 2Corinthians 10:17 Paul quotes from Jeremiah 9:24 to exhort disciples to glory in the Lord.
● In Hebrews 8:8-12 Paul quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34 concerning the promise of the New Covenant.
● In Revelation 2:23 Yeshua alludes to Jeremiah 17:10 in his letter to Thyatira in which he says he searches the "reins and the hearts," and that he will give to everyone based on their works.
""For the vision of the appointed time speaks toward the end, it does not lie. If he seems slow, wait for him; he will surely come; he will not delay. The righteous shall live by My faithfulness." (Hab 2:3-4 MINE)
The prophet Habakkuk (Heb. Chabaqquq) was active in the last years of King Josiah (640─608 BC). Nothing is known for certain of a personal nature about Habakkuk. Jewish tradition makes him a priest of the tribe of Levi, which is based on his mention of serving as a watchman on a tower of the temple (2:1). The apocryphal work Bel and the Dragon (1:33-39) tells a story about Habakkuk being taken to Babylon by an angel to feed Daniel while he was in the lions den. He had a passion for the justice of God as reflected in his rhetorical questions of God and complaint about the degradation of the people of Judah. In his ministry he uttered words which have been immensely influential in apostolic and in Essene thought.
Habakkuk had a vision of the coming destruction by Babylon (referred to as Chaldeans in the book, 1:6), which ADONAI directed Habakkuk to record for posterity (2:2). The short book of three chapters falls into three distinct divisions: (1) The prophet's questions and the God's answers (1:2−2:5); (2) woes against five types of tyranny and wickedness (2:6-20); and lastly a powerful prayer (3:1-19).
Messiah in Habakkuk
The name ADONAI occurs 13 times in the book (1:1, 12 [2t]; 2:2, 13, 14, 16, 20; 3:2 [2t], 8, 18, 19). ADONAI is from everlasting as Micah declared of the Messiah (Mic 5:2). Habakkuk calls ADONAI "holy one" (1:12; 3:3), an expression used of Yeshua by a demon he exorcised (Mark 1:24) and by Simon Peter (John 6:69). ADONAI is also called the Rock (Hab 1:12), an allusion to the rock from which water flowed (Deut 8:15) and which Paul says was the Messiah with Israel in the wilderness (1Cor 10:4). A hint of the Messiah is also found in the phrase "the cup in the right hand of ADONAI" (Hab 2:16).
The Dead Sea Scrolls contain a remarkable statement in the commentary on Habakkuk: "then God told Habakkuk to write down what is going to happen to the generation to come; but when that period would be complete He did not make known to him. When it says, "so that with ease someone can read it" (Hab 2:2), this refers to the Teacher of Righteousness, to whom God made known all the mysterious revelations of his servants the prophets" (Commentary on Habakkuk, 1QpHab, Col. 7; TDSS 84).
Another hint of the Messiah is found in 3:13, "For the salvation of your people went forth for the salvation of your anointed; you smote the head of the house of the wicked by laying bare the foundation to the neck" (MINE). This verse alludes to the Messianic promise of Genesis 3:15. "He [the Seed of the woman] shall bruise you [the serpent] on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel."
Day of ADONAI
The expression of Yom YHVH does not occur in the book of Habakkuk. However, the book is concerned with the destruction of the wicked and eschatological salvation (3:8-13).
Habakkuk expresses his confidence in God's trustworthiness in two important passages.
2:3-4 (quoted above). The LXX translation of the Hebrew text has "from my faithfulness," which makes the verse speak of God’s faithfulness. This is really the sense of the Greek word pistis in the Besekh. The Hebrew text of Habakkuk 2:3 actually has masculine singular verbs, "he will come" and "he will not delay" (Owens 4:870). Translating these verbs as neuter (as Bible versions do) obscures the focus on God as the originator of the action. God is going to do something; the something won't happen by itself. (There is no such thing as spontaneous generation.) The words of Habakkuk 2:4, "the righteous will live by His faithfulness" is quoted three times by Paul (Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38) and alluded to in Ephesians 2:8. The trust of the believer is secondary to God's faithfulness in accomplishing salvation. See my commentary on Romans 1:17.
3:16-19, In the end Habakkuk concluded that even if Judah was destroyed, God was to be worshipped. Habakkuk concludes with this commitment: "Yet will I triumph in ADONAI, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! ADONAI my Lord, is my strength" (TLV). The word "salvation" is Heb. yesha, which is part of the word group from which the name "Yeshua" is derived and whose name means "salvation." Targum Jonathan explains that the word "strength" is connected with the deliverance which the Messiah will bring about, and with the miracles he will perform. Moreover, the prospect of joy is associated with the coming of the Messiah (Santala 160).
Usage in the Besekh
Scholars have identified parallels to six verses of Habakkuk in the Besekh (GNT 917), including the following quotations.
● In Acts 13:41 Paul quotes from Habakkuk 1:5 in warning his audience to available themselves of God's mercy.
● In Hebrews 10:37 Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2:3 about the coming judgment of God.
● Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38 to affirm the truth that the righteous will live by the faithfulness of God.
"ADONAI your God is in your midst—a mighty Savior!" (Zeph 3:17 TLV)
Zephaniah, son of Cushi, or "dark-skinned," may have been of mixed parentage. He was, however, a fourth generation descendant of King Hezekiah and according to tradition a childhood friend of the prophet Jeremiah. It may well be that Zephaniah had had the opportunity of encouraging the young king Josiah in his spiritual reformation, which took place in the year 622 BC (Santala 159). His prophetic ministry was in Judah.
The book begins by rebuking idolatrous priests and calling the people to repentance. In chapter two Zephaniah pronounces woes on Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron, the Cherethites, Philistines, Moab, Ammon, Cushites (Ethiopians), Assyria, and Nineveh. The aggressor is not named in the book, but presumptively he speaks of the Babylonians. The third chapter continues with woes on Jerusalem and the nations but concludes with a promise of hope for the faithful remnant.
Messiah in Zephaniah
In Zephaniah it is ADONAI who acts in judgment, justice, deliverance and restoration. The sacred name YHVH occurs 30 times in the short book. Zephaniah may also be engaging in a personification or more literally of the Logos/Memra (John 1:1) when he says "the Word (Heb. dabar) of ADONAI" in 1:1 and 2:5. ADONAI is described as their "God" (Heb. Elohim) in 2:7 and 3:2, 17. In 3:15 ADONAI is the King of Israel and in 3:17 ADONAI is in their midst as a mighty warrior.
There is also a hint of the resurrection of the Messiah. The noun anastasis, a typical word for resurrection in the Besekh, occurs in the LXX OF Zephaniah 3:8 for Heb. qum, rise up, stand up, stand, BDB 877), which could be a Messianic prophecy of Yeshua's resurrection.
The Talmud quotes from Zephaniah 3:11 when it says that "The Son of David will not come until boasting has ceased in Israel and until God takes away the people's pride" and 3:15 when it says that the "Son of David will not come until their enemies have been cast out" (Sanhedrin 98a).
Day of ADONAI
1:7−2:3. This day will have many negative features. It is a day of wrath, destruction and battle and a day of judgment on the nations.
In 3:9-20 Zephaniah speaks of restoration of the remnant.
● ADONAI will "purify the lips of the peoples" so they may call on the name of ADONAI and serve Him in unity (verse 9).
● The remnant of Israel will do no wrong, speak no lies and harbor no deceit (verse 13).
● The faithful remnant is called the "daughter of Zion" (verse 14).
● ADONAI will remove the enemies of the remnant (verse 15).
● ADONAI will quiet His people with His love and dance over them with joy (verse 17).
● ADONAI will restore those who had been scattered back to the Land and gather people for the appointed festivals (18-20).
Usage in the Besekh
Scholars have identified parallels to four verses of Zephaniah in the Besekh (GNT 917; Matt 13:41; John 1:49; Rev 14:5; 16:1), but no direct quotations.
"Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace!" (Nah 1:15 NASB; 2:1 in CJB and TLV).
The first verse of the short book identifies the author as Nahum (Heb. Nachum, “comfort, encourage”) from Elkosh in Israel. Nothing else is known about the prophet and the location of Elkosh is unknown. The date of the prophet's ministry can be placed between 600 and 700 BC by two events mentioned in his book. In 2:1, Nahum looked forward to the destruction of Nineveh, which took place in 612 BC. In 3:8 Nahum refers to the destruction of the Egyptian capitol, No-amon (Thebes) in 663 BC. Nahum, therefore, prophesied after 650 BC, probably close to the time of the fall of Nineveh.
Nahum introduces his book by describing the visionary message as Heb. massa, (SH-4853), which can mean “burden” or “oracle,” the latter of which is used in Bible versions. In Chap. 1 the destruction of Nineveh by the Assyrians is decreed and in Chap. 2 the destruction of Nineveh is described. The book closes in Chap. 3 by declaring that the destruction of Nineveh is deserved.
Messiah in Nahum
The name of ADONAI occurs 13 times in the book and is described as being slow to anger (1:3) and yet acts to do justice against evil doers. No names for the Messiah appear in the book but Paul recognized that 1:15 contains a hint of the Messiah as one who brings good news and announces shalom.
Day of ADONAI
The book does not use the expression of Yom YHVH, but the book does present ADONAI unleashing His wrath (1:2, 6).
In spite of the threat from Assyria, Nahum promises deliverance to Judah (1:15) and the ultimate defeat of Assyria as judgment for destroying the northern kingdom of Israel (3:18).
Usage in the Besekh
Scholars have identified two verses of Nahum (1:6, 15) with parallels in the Besekh (GNT 917):
● In Romans 10:15 and Ephesians 6:15 Paul quotes from Nahum 1:15, "how beautiful are the foot of those who bring good news."
● In Revelation 6:16 those about to receive the judgment of the wrath of God declare, "Who is able to stand?" which is parallel to the question of Nahum 1:6, "Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger?"
6th Century B.C.
The prophets of the 6th century include Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai and Zechariah.
"23 So I will set up One Shepherd over them, My servant David—He will tend them, He will feed them Himself and be their shepherd. 24 I, ADONAI, will be their God, and My servant David will be Prince among them. I, ADONAI, have spoken." (Ezek 34:23-24 TLV)
Ezekiel (Heb. Yechezk'el, "God will strengthen") came from a priestly family, the son of Buzi (1:3), and served as a "watchman" to warn the covenant people of judgment (3:17). He was taken captive to Babylon in 597 B.C. (he was about 25) by King Nebuchadnezzar along with King Jehoiachin and 10,000 others, including political and military leaders and skilled craftsmen (2Kgs 24:14-16). He lived in his own house at Tel-Abib near the river Chebar, an irrigation canal that channeled the waters of the Euphrates River into the surrounding arid region. Ezekiel's call came in 593 B.C., the "thirtieth year" (Ezek 1:1), probably a reference to his age. His commission began with a vision of divine glory (1:4-28) and he was Empowered by the Holy Spirit (2:2). He was even lifted and carried by the Spirit, 6 times (3:12)
Ezekiel was married, but little is known about his family life. His wife died suddenly during the siege of Jerusalem (24:18). Ezekiel continued to minister until at least 571 B.C. (29:17). It is not known when Ezekiel died or the manner of his death. An ancient Jewish tradition says he was put to death by his own people because of his prophetic ministry. His ministry can be divided into two phases: (1) 593-587, characterized by warnings of coming judgment on Judah and Jerusalem, and (2) 587-571, a period characterized by messages of encouragement and hope for the future.
During his ministry God required Ezekiel to engage in several symbolic actions which graphically illustrated God's instruction to Ezekiel and God's message to His people. The first symbolic action was eating a scroll, 2:8—3:11, a sign of his call. The scroll contained pronouncements of lamentation and woe. Later, he was required to engage in four actions that symbolized the final siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians: (1) making a siege model (4:1–3); (2) reclining on his side for well over a year (4:4-8); (3) eating defiled bread (4:9-17), and (4) shaving his head and beard (5:1-4). Then God required three further symbolic actions which illustrated the defeat and exile of Judah: (1) baggage for exile (12:1-16); (2) eating with trembling (12:17-28) and (3) the death of wife and prohibition of mourning (24:15-27).
Ezekiel also had incredible visionary experiences, similar to Isaiah and Daniel, as well as John the apostle. He frequently introduces these experiences with "I looked" or "I saw," and these phrases serve to emphasize Ezekiel's personal experience as a witness to the events described. He did not invent any of these experiences. These visions could be called "pictographic messages." Ezekiel saw the glory of God and the throne of God in heaven (Chap. 1) and he was carried away by the Spirit on a several occasions to witness something important (3:12, 14; 8:3; 11:1, 24; 37:1; 43:5). Perhaps like Paul he might not have known whether this was in the body or out of the body (2Cor 12:2).
Although Ezekiel is a long book, the content has a logical, orderly structure. The book may be outlined as follows:
Part One, The Commission of Ezekiel (1:1—3:27).
Part Two, The Judgment on Judah (4:1—24:7).
Part Three, Judgment on Nations (25:1—32:32).
Part Four, Restoration of Israel (33:1—48:35)
Ezekiel is a book of judgment and hope. His message is of two basic types. First, he focuses on individual responsibility. While the people had a strong sense of group identity as the covenant people, Ezekiel declared, "the soul who sins will die" (18:20). He made a point of saying that sons would not be judged for the sins of their fathers and vice versa. Even as he focused on individual accountability, he also pronounced judgment on the leaders of Judah and then on the neighboring nations of Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and Egypt. The second type of message is hope of a future age when God will rule triumphantly among His people. Although the covenant people had been suffering, better days were assured.
In the book God addresses Ezekiel as "son of man" 93 times. The title might have a generic meaning as elsewhere in the Tanakh to mean "human being," but the high frequency in the book of Ezekiel argues for a more profound intention. I think in this prophetic book, as in Daniel, "son of man (lit. Adam)" is used as an eschatological title, not identifying Ezekiel as Messiah, Son of the Clouds, but as Adam's representative acting as custodian of the revelation of the fulfillment of the good news prophesied in Genesis 3:15. In addition, the expression "I am ADONAI" occurs 65 times as a confirmation that God has spoken. The sovereign God resolved that He would be known and acknowledged.
Messiah in Ezekiel
For Ezekiel the Messiah is "my servant David" (34:23-24; 37:24-25), whose coming is described in four specific prophecies.
The Tender Sprig (Ezek 17:22-24)
"22 Thus says ADONAI Elohim: "I, even I, will take from a sprig from the top of the lofty cedar and will plant it. I will crop off a tender twig from the topmost of its young shoots, and I will plant it on a tall and prominent mountain. 23 I will plant it on Israel's high mountain. It will bring forth branches, bear fruit and be a magnificent cedar. Birds of every kind will nest under it—they will nest in the shade of its branches. 24 Then all the trees of the field will know that I, ADONAI, have brought down the high tree, exalted the lowly tree, dried up the green tree, and made the dry tree flourish. I, ADONAI, have spoken and I will do it." (17:22-24 TLV)
This prophecy is good news in the midst of bad news. The bad news is that King Zedekiah would be removed by Nebuchadnezzar for attempting to form an alliance with Egypt. But, in spite of the tragic announcement God promised a "shoot" or "sprig" that would be planted in Zion and produce a magnificent tree that will provide a refuge to the birds. Yeshua alluded to this prophecy in his kingdom parable on the mustard seed (Matt 13:31-32). The Jewish commentators, Rashi and Altschuler, see the "Messiah-King" in this figure and a prophecy which will be fulfilled in the "days of the Messiah" (Santala 176).
The Rightful King (Ezek 21:25-27)
30 (25) As for you, you wicked prince of Isra'el, due to be killed, whose day has come, at the time of final punishment, 31 (26) here is what ADONAI Elohim says: 'Remove the turban, take off the crown! Everything is being changed. What was low will be raised up, and what was high will be brought down. 32 (27) Ruin! Ruin! I will leave it a ruin such as there has never been, and it will stay that way until the rightful ruler comes, and I give it to him.' (21:25-27 CJB)
Kaiser notes that this passage is a twin text to Genesis 49:8-10 with its reference to Shiloh (193). Rather than using the word Shiloh, Ezekiel substitutes what amounts to a translation of that word in verse 27, "to whom it rightfully belongs." Judgment is about to fall on the King Zedekiah, but eventually the one who truly has the right to the crown will come, the Messiah.
The Good Shepherd (Ezek 34:23-31)
23 "I will raise up one shepherd to be in charge of them, and he will let them feed — my servant David. He will pasture them and be their shepherd. 24 I, ADONAI, will be their God; and my servant David will be prince among them. I, ADONAI, have spoken." (34:23-24 CJB)
The shepherd is a common figure for the Messiah (Ps 78:52-53; 19:13; 80:1; Isa 40:11; 49:9-10; Jer 31:10; and Zech 11). By the time of this prophecy Jerusalem had already fallen, so Ezekiel prophesies of the coming days and the good shepherd. In all its uses, shepherding implies the idea of tenderness and responsible caring for what happens to the people, rather than merely the exercise of brute power (Kaiser 195). In the past there were many leaders, but now there will be one shepherd.
Santala says that Yeshua's declaration of being the Good Shepherd is unintelligible unless the Rabbis' exposition of Ezekiel's shepherd prophecy is accepted (177). Kimchi, as does Rashi, says regarding chapter 34 that "my shepherd David" is the Messiah. Altschuler says: "He is the Messiah-King, who is to come from the seed of David; he will tend them and will become their shepherd."
The Unifier of the Nation (Ezek 37:15-28)
"21 Then say to them that ADONAI Elohim says: 'I will take the people of Isra'el from among the nations where they have gone and gather them from every side and bring them back to their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Isra'el; and one king will be king for all of them. They will no longer be two nations, and they will never again be divided into two kingdoms. … 24 My servant David will be king over them, and all of them will have one shepherd; they will live by my rulings and keep and observe my regulations.'" 37:21-22, 24 CJB)
This chapter is part of the future hope portion of the book. Ezekiel repeats the prophecy found in other passages that the dispersed of Israel will return to the Land (Deut 30:4-5; Isa 11:11-12; 43:6; 49:8-12, 22; 51:11; Jer 16:14-16; 23:3-6; Ezek 28:25f; 31:7f; 36:24f; 38:8, 12; Amos 9:14-15; Zech 8:7f). Not only will the descendants of Jacob return but God will reestablish the monarchy of David. The mention of David does not mean King David will be resurrected and returned to his throne, but that the promised son of David will accede to the throne. The one true king will unite the people of Israel. Kimchi, the medieval Jewish commentator, states of the prophecy in chapter 37 that, "My shepherd David' means the Messiah-King. He is called David, because he is of David's seed" (Santala 177).
"Only the prince, since he is a prince, is to sit there to eat his meal before ADONAI; he is to enter through the vestibule of the gate and leave the same way." (Ezek 44:3 CJB)
Chapters 44–48 refer to a prince (44:3; 45:7-9, 16-17, 22; 46:2, 4, 10, 12, 16-18; 48:21-22) who will come to the temple to eat before ADONAI. He will have land near the temple and Israelites will bring offerings to him. He will also observe Passover and the other appointed feasts at the temple. Rashi says the "prince" refers to the high priest, but in the Tanakh "prince" is used of kings or rulers and never of a priest. On the other hand, the Jewish commentators Altschuler, Kimchi, and Malbim understand the "prince" as signifying the Messiah-King. In so doing they refer to 44:4 which says that "the glory of the LORD filled the temple of the LORD" (Santala 179). Gill comments on Ezekiel 44:3 that the prince stands for David, the figure of the Messiah who is Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace).
Other Christian commentators discount the interpretation of the prince as the Messiah on the assumption that the Messiah Yeshua, who accomplished a once-for-all-sin-offering, would not present sacrificial offerings at a temple. However, we must be cautious of making categorical statements about the nature of worship in the age to come when the appointed times of the Torah will once again be observed (cf. Isa 66:22-23; Ezek 46:1-11; Zeph 3:18; Zech 14:16; Matt 26:29).
Day of ADONAI
Yom YHVH is mentioned in three chapters (7:9; 13:5; 30:2-3). The Day of ADONAI will be a day of judgment on the nations, especially for neighboring countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
The last nine chapters paint a beautiful picture of the future age in which God will restore the tribes of Israel to the Land, rebuild the Temple, and rule triumphantly through his Davidic Messiah.
Restoration to the Land
Early in the book Ezekiel spoke of a remnant that would be restored to the Land (11:13-21). Toward the end of the book Ezekiel is given a vision of the resurrection of Israel. They are likened to "dry bones," into which God will breathe His Spirit. The people of Israel will be gathered back to the Land from the nations where they had been dispersed (36:24–37:14). Judah and Israel will be reunited (37:15-23). Moreover, God will give new hearts to his people and place his Spirit in them (11:19-20; 36:24-27). Finally, the Land will be divided among the tribes and resident aliens (47:13–48:29).
Rescue from Invasion
Israel will be rescued from an invasion by seven nations that currently correspond to Islamic countries (Chaps. 38–39). This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, but its likelihood has been increased exponentially by the declaration of President Trump formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. See my web article The Invasion of Israel.
Restoration of the Temple
The visions of God’s glory and of the Messianic temple are complex and powerful. The temple will be rebuilt even grander (Chaps 40–42). See my web article Rebuild the Temple? Sacrifices will be offered in the temple (Chap 43). The Levites will serve the temple again (Chap 44). Torah festivals will be observed (Chap 45–46).
River of Life
In 47:1-12 Ezekiel is shown a stream that will emerge one day "from under the threshold of the temple towards the east" and become increasingly deeper as it progresses. A great number of fruit-bearing trees will grow on its banks and the river will also teem with many kinds of fish. Christian commentators have generally regarded this description as referring to the growth of the Messianic kingdom, but there is no reason not to accept the prophecy as being literally fulfilled.
Santala notes that according to scientists, fulfillment of the prophecy is possible at any time, if the so-called "East African Rift," which begins in far-off Tanzania and comes up through the Red Sea to the Dead Sea depression, were for some reason to split (178). He goes on to say that he has seen detailed maps which show the seismographic situation. There are channels in the Red Sea basin in which the water temperature is as high as 50°C because of the thinness of the earth's crust, and the shores of the Aqaba bay are continually moving away from each other at a significant rate. Geological research shows this all to be quite possible.
Usage in the Besekh
Scholars have identified over 100 verses of Ezekiel with parallels in the Besekh (GNT 914f), including the following allusions and quotations:
● In Matthew 9:36 (para. Mark 6:34) Yeshua likens the crowds as sheep without a shepherd, as stated in Ezekiel 34:5.
● In Mark 8:18 Yeshua turns the declaration of Ezekiel 12:2 into a question of his disciples.
● In 2Corinthians 6:16 Paul quotes the promise of Ezekiel 37:27 that God will dwell among His people.
● In 2Thessalonians 2:4 Paul alludes to Ezekiel 28:2 in describing the Man of Lawlessness as having delusions of divinity.
● In Titus 2:14 Paul quotes the promise of Ezekiel 37:23 that God will cleanse His people.
Scholars have identified a number of parallels to Ezekiel in the book of Revelation:
● The throne vision in Revelation 4 and Ezekiel 1.
● The book being opened in Revelation 5 and Ezekiel 2–3.
● The four plagues in Revelation 6:1-8 and Ezekiel 5
● Those slain under the altar in Revelation 6:9-11 and Ezekiel 6.
● The wrath of God in Revelation 6:12-17 and Ezekiel 7.
● The seal on foreheads in Revelation 7 and Ezekiel 9.
● The coals from the altar in Revelation 8 and Ezekiel 10.
● The one-third destruction in Revelation 8:6-12 and Ezekiel 5:1-4 &12.
● The mention of "no more delay" in Revelation 10:1-7 and Ezekiel 12.
● The eating of the book in Revelation 10:8-11 and Ezekiel 2.
● Prophecy against the nations in Revelation 10:11 and Ezekiel 25-32.
● The measuring of the Temple in Revelation 11:1-2 and Ezekiel 40–43.
● Comparing Jerusalem to Sodom in Revelation 11:8 and Ezekiel 16.
● The cup of wrath in Revelation 14 and Ezekiel 23.
● The vine of the land in Revelation 14:18-20 and Ezekiel 15.
● The great harlot in Revelation 17–18 and Ezekiel 16, 23.
● The lament sung over the city in Revelation 18 and Ezekiel 27.
● The scavenger's feast in Revelation 19 and Ezekiel 39.
● The first resurrection in Revelation 20:4-6 and Ezekiel 37.
● The battle of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:7-9 and Ezekiel 38–39.
● The New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 and Ezekiel 40–48.
● The river of life in Revelation 22 and Ezekiel 47.
However, these similarities do not mean that John borrowed from Ezekiel. John said "I saw," not "I was reading Ezekiel." The point is that John received the same kind of revelations as Ezekiel so that the revelation of God rests on the testimony of two or three witnesses (Matt 18:16). When the parallels are compared side by side, many differences in the details may be noted. See my web article The Composition of Revelation.
Daniel (Heb. Dani'el, God is my judge). Daniel was a young man of nobility taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, after the battle of Carchemish, 605 B.C. and transported from Judah to Babylon. The text does not indicate his precise age. The Babylonians sought to remove all vestiges of Daniel's nationality and religion. For this reason, they sought to change the name of Daniel to Belteshazzar. He was trained in the arts, letters, and wisdom in the Babylonian capital. Eventually, he rose to high rank among the Babylonian men of wisdom. He was a civil servant (1:4; 2:48; 6:2), throughout the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (604-562 B.C.) and a high governmental official during the reign of Cyrus (539-529 B.C.).
Daniel served also during his old age into the reign of Darius I (522-486 B.C.). Daniel would probably have celebrated his one hundredth birthday during the reign of Darius. He demonstrated at an early age propensities of knowledge, wisdom, and leadership. In addition to his wisdom, he was skilled in dream interpretation (Dan 1:17). He was a man of singular piety (1:8-16), a man of prayer, (2:17; 6:10; 9:3-21) and courage (6:18-24). Daniel confesses the nation's sins and seeks forgiveness (9:1-19). As a result he is given a revelation of the future and the coming of the Messiah (9:24-27).
The theme of the book is God's sovereignty: "The Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind" (5:21). The visions recorded in Daniel always show God as triumphant. Daniel uses two languages, Aramaic (2:4—7:28) and Hebrew (1:2—2:4; 8:1—12:13), plus loan words from Persian and Greek, demonstrating his linguistic skill.
• Captivity narratives, Chaps 1–6
• Dreams and visions of the future, Chaps 7–12
Messiah in Daniel
The Son of Man
"13 I was watching in the night visions. Behold, One like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days, and was brought into His presence. 14 Dominion, glory and sovereignty were given to Him that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will never pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed." (7:13-14 TLV)
"Son of Man" translates the Heb. ben adam. The idiom "Son of Man" is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture. Bible scholars typically treat "Son of Man" in the context of Yeshua's ministry as representative of his identification with humanity, whereas "Son of God" pertains to his deity. In Hebraic thought these expressions mean just the opposite. This faulty notion is based on the fact that in the Tanakh, except in one passage (Dan 7:13), ben adam is idiomatic for "man," occurring 11 times in a general sense of all mankind (e.g., Num 23:19, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent"). This sense also occurs when God addresses two prophets as "son of man:" Ezekiel (93 times) and Daniel (Dan 8:17).
However, for Jews in the first century "son of Man" had the meaning of the eschatological supra-natural figure seen by the prophet Daniel. The "Son of Man" is a divine redeemer in human form. Jewish intertestamental literature expounded strongly on his identity and activity (cf. Book of Enoch Chapter 46). In the Talmud the Son of Man, or Mashiach ben Adam, is called "son of the clouds" (Sanhedrin 96b). Rashi says quite straightforwardly on this verse regarding the Son of Man that "He is the Messiah-King." Altschuler similarly understands that "this refers to the Messiah-King" (Santala 181). Daniel Boyarin says that for first-century Jews the "Son of Man" is Daniel's divine redeemer in human form (33). He appears younger than the Ancient of Days and will be enthroned on high.
David Flusser concurs saying,
"In all of the sources, the one resembling a man is portrayed in a consistent manner. The Son of Man has a superhuman, heavenly sublimity. He is the cosmic judge at the end of time. Sitting upon the throne of God, judging the entire human race with the aid of the heavenly hosts, he will consign the just to blessedness and the wicked to the pit of hell. Frequently he is identified with the Messiah, but he can also be identified with Enoch, who was taken up into heaven." (Flusser 112)
The key feature of this prophecy is that Son of Man will come from heaven to earth on the clouds. He will then reign as king and be given an everlasting kingdom. He will reign over all peoples and languages. Before the Son of Man arrives a boastful adversary of God will arise, attempt to change times and laws and instigate a great war against the people of God (7:8, 19-25).
"25 So know and understand: From the issuing of the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem until the time Mashiach, the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and 62 weeks. It will be rebuilt, with plaza and moat, but it will be in times of distress. 26 Then after the 62 weeks Mashiach will be cut off and have nothing. Then the people of a prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. But his end will come like a flood. Until the end of the war that is decreed there will be destruction. 27 Then he will make a firm covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of abominations will come one who destroys, until the decreed annihilation is poured out on the one who destroys." (9:24-27 TLV)
Messiah will come 483 years after the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. As indicated by verse 24 the coming of the Messiah is to accomplish four goals: (1) restrain transgression, (2) make an end of sins, (3) make atonement, and (4) bring in everlasting righteousness. When he does come the Messiah will be "cut off and have nothing" portending a violent death.
Day of ADONAI
The expression Yom YHVH does not occur in Daniel. However, he does prophesy a great tribulation which must be endured by God's people (7:21, 25; 12:1, 7).
The revelations given to the non-Israelite rulers (Chap. 2, 4, & 5) warn that the full redemption of Israel lay many years in the future, but also assert the sovereignty of God over the nations.
● Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had a dream of five kingdoms represented by gold, silver, bronze, iron and a great stone, which Daniel explained to the king as the present kingdoms and kingdoms that will succeed Babylon until finally the Kingdom of God arrives (2:31-45). The latter kingdom paradoxically exists coincidental to the earthly kingdoms, but will eventually put an end to all the earthly kingdoms and endure forever. See my commentary on Daniel 2.
● Nebuchadnezzar had a vision of a great tree (4:4-18), which Daniel explained as a neurotic condition (boanthropy) that would last seven years. This represented a judgment of God for his pride and arrogance. After seven years the king repented and his reason was restored. In celebration Nebuchadnezzar praised the God of Israel (4:34-37). See my commentary on Daniel 4.
● Belshazzar, king of Babylon, witnessed miraculous writing on the wall (5:5, 25-28), which was a divine pronouncement of judgment on his kingdom. That night the city would be conquered by the Persians, which would lead to the decree of Cyrus allowing the Jews to return to their homeland (9:25; cf. Ezra 1:1-4; 6:3). See my commentary on Daniel 5.
The revelations given to Daniel himself, whether by vision or angelic message, point the way through persecution to hope (7:1—12:13).
● The vision of four beasts shows four kingdoms to be overcome by Son of man and the people of the Most High, who will reign forever (7:1-28). See my commentary on Daniel 7.
● The vision of ram, goat, and four horns points to the passing of the Persians, Medes, and proud Greeks, one of whom will interrupt daily sacrifices of the Temple for a while (8:1-27). See my commentary on Daniel 8.
● The revelation of seventy weeks (9:24-27) provides a concise summary of the time between the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the arrival of the prince of Israel (Messiah) and in so doing provides good news and bad news. Messiah will come, but he will also be cut off and desolations will occur. See my commentary on Daniel 9.
● The revelation of internecine battles between north and south (Daniel 10:1-11:45) represents the breakup of Alexander's empire into the Seleucid (north) and Ptolemy (south) factions. The northern king proudly triumphs and persecutes the people of God's covenant, taking away their sacrificial system and desecrating the Temple, but faces disaster in the end. See my commentary on Daniel 10 and 11.
● The final vision of end-time persecution of God's people (cf. Jer 30:7) and Heavenly intervention will bring history to a close with the resurrection of God's faithful people (Daniel 12:1-13). See my commentary on Daniel 12.
Usage in the Besekh
Scholars have identified over 70 verses of Daniel with parallels in the Besekh (GNT 915f), including the following allusions and quotations:
● In Matthew 24:15 (para. Mark 13:14) Yeshua announces the future fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy of the abomination of desolation (9:27; 11:31; 12:11).
● In Matthew 24:30 and 26:64 (para. Mark 13:26; 14:26; Luke 21:27; Revelation 1:7) Yeshua quotes the prophecy of the coming of the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13.
● In 2Thessalonians 2:4 Paul describes the Man of Lawless as having delusions of divinity, which is comparable to the king of the north in Daniel 11:36.
Scholars have identified several parallels to Daniel in the book of Revelation:
● Three and a half time period (a time, 2 times and half a time), Revelation 11:9, 11 and Ezekiel 12:7.
● The 10 horns in Revelation 12:3, 13:1; 17:3, 8 and Daniel 7:8.
● The Leopard, the Bear, and the Lion in Revelation 13:2 and Daniel 7:4-6.
● The Beast uttering boasts and blasphemies in Revelation 13:5 and Daniel 7:8, 11.
● The war against the God's people in Revelation 13:7 and Daniel 7:21.
● The worship of the Beast's statue in Revelation 13:15 and Daniel 3:5-7, 15.
● The Son of Man coming on the clouds in Revelation 1:7 & 14:14 and Daniel 7:13.
However, the occurrence of these parallels does not mean that John borrowed from Daniel. John said "I saw," not "I was reading Daniel." To say otherwise is to call John a liar. The point is that John received the same kind of revelations as Daniel so that the revelation of God rests on the testimony of two or three witnesses (Matt 18:16). When the parallels are compared side by side, many differences in the details may be noted. See my web article The Composition of Revelation.
"13 Then Haggai, the messenger of ADONAI, spoke to the people by the message of ADONAI, saying 'I am with you!' says ADONAI. 14 And ADONAI stirred the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people, and they came and did work on the House of ADONAI-Tzva’ot their God" (Hag 2:6-9 BR)
Haggai (Heb. Chaggay, "festal" or "festive) was a prophet after the exile in Babylon during the reign of King Darius. His ministry lasted about four months (cf. 1:1; 2:1, 10). Haggai was a contemporary of the prophet Zechariah, the governor Zerubbabel, and the high priest Joshua (Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14). He may well have been the head or a member of a school of prophets (Ezra 5:2). Nothing is known of his antecedents or descendants.
Haggai gained notoriety because he encouraged the people to finish building the temple after construction came to a halt because of strong opposition in the area (Ezra 4:5). Opponents had been able to obtain an injunction from King Artaxerxes to suspend construction, which lasted at least 15 years (Ezra 4:23-24). After King Darius acceded to the throne he issued a new decree affirming the original decree of King Cyrus permitting the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 6:1-12). In reality the rebuilding had resumed under the motivation from Haggai, before the formal approval was received from Darius. The temple was completed five years later.
The short book of Haggai consists of four addresses introduced by the phrase, "the word of ADONAI came," as well as a brief report of the response to the exhortations of Haggai (1:12, 14-15). The recipients of Haggai's message included the people and the leaders of the nation.
In the first address (1:1-11, 13), Haggai rebuked the people for their lack of attention to priorities and devotion to self-interest instead of devoting themselves to God's interest, namely rebuilding the temple. The people were full of excuses for not resuming work on the Temple (Haggai 1:2). Haggai's answer was that if it was right for them to rebuild their own houses, it was also right for them to rebuild God's house (1:3-4). Haggai noted that in rebuilding their own houses they had done well, but they were still not happy. His diagnosis was that they had neglected their spiritual lives. He said the way to correct their neglect was to rebuild the Temple. In response they resumed work on the Temple. Haggai exhorts the people to gather building materials and begin the work.
In the second address (2:1-9), given to both the leaders and the people (Haggai 2:1-2), Haggai asked the older members of the community to recall the glory of the former Temple and thus to stir the new generation to new enthusiasm. He promised that the splendor of the new Temple would be even greater than the former one (2:6-9). The third address (2:10-19) returns to the theme of the first address in linking worship, work, and the blessings of God. He declared that the devotion to self-interest by the people rendered them unclean and robbed themselves of the full measure of God's blessing. A change in priorities will bring blessing. The final address (2:20-23), delivered the same day as the previous one, was addressed only to Zerubbabel. It announced the imminent overthrow of the kingdoms of the world and the role that Zerubbabel would play in the triumphant victory of God's kingdom on earth.
The Book of Haggai is very important for several reasons. One is that he laid the foundations of later Judaism on which the Yeshua movement was built. Another was the stress on the linking of worship and work, a characteristic emphasized by Yeshua and the apostles. Finally, the book provides important historical data on the post-exilic period where information is scanty.
YHVH-Tzva'ot (LORD of Hosts) occurs 14 times in the book, a high count for such a short book. Also YHVH occurs by itself an additional 21 times. The multiples of "seven" seem significant. Haggai depicts the God of Israel as having all the resources of heaven available to accomplish His will.
Messiah in Haggai
Desire of the Nations
"I will shake all the nations; and the desire [Heb. chemdah] of the nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says ADONAI-Tzva'ot" (Hag 2:7 BR)
Many versions (including the CJB and TLV) translate Heb. chemdah (SH-2532; pleasant, desire, delight), as "treasures" even though that is not the meaning of the noun. The translation of "treasures" may be based on the assumption that the nations desire wealth, and thus Haggai is repeating the prophecy of Isaiah and Zechariah that the day will come when all the wealth of the nations will flow into Israel (cf. Isa 60:5; 60:11; 61:6; Zech 14:14; cf. Rev 21:24, 26). However, none of those prophecies use the noun chemdah. Many other versions do have "desire of nations" (AMPC, GW, KJV, NIV, NKJV, NOG, OJB, TLB, YLT).
The phrase "desire of the nations" is a prophetic figure of the Messiah (Kaiser 206). As preparation for this momentous event God will shake up the heavens and the earth in order to make way for everlasting glory and shalom (2:6-9). The Messiah is the desire of nations who seek the salvation of the God of Israel (cf. Isa 2:2; 11:10; 42:1, 6; 49:6; 60:3; Mal 3:1).
"'In that day,' says ADONAI-Tzva'ot, 'I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,' says ADONAI, 'and I will make you like a signet, for I have chosen you,' says ADONAI-Tzva'ot." (Hag 2:23 BR)
Three parts of this verse - "I will take you," "My servant," and "I have chosen you" all have Messianic overtones and hint at the role Zerubbabel would have in bringing the Messiah. Thus, the governor Zerubbabel is mentioned in the genealogy of Yeshua (see Matt 1:12-13; Luke 3:27), making him the seal of the Messianic idea (Kaiser 209).
This general message is associated by the Rabbis with an expectation of "salvation" which is aimed at the time of the "end of the end" and the "last days". God will move heaven and earth and the hearts of the nations. Commenting on the "signet ring" David Altschuler says that, "Just as a signet ring is not removed from the owner's hand, so my love will not recede from him, for 'I have chosen you'. I have chosen one from your seed to be the Messiah-King" (quoted by Santala 185).
Day of ADONAI
The expression Yom YHVH does not occur in Haggai. Yet, God promised to shake heaven and earth (2:6-7), which is a judgment associated elsewhere with Yom YHVH (Isa 13:13; Joel 2:10; 3:16; Matt 24:29; Mark 13:25; 1Cor 3:13-15; 2Pet 3:10-12). As a warning of future judgment Haggai says God afflicted the people of Israel with agricultural disaster because they neglected His temple (2:17-19). The frequent use of the divine name ADONAI-Tzva'ot, occurring 14 times in Haggai, and which implies God's war-making ability and resources, is often used in the Prophets in texts that warn of God's impending or imposed judgment.
Haggai revived hope for the future in a dejected community. God promised to fill His temple with glory (2:7) and that the latter glory of His house will be greater than the former (2:9). In addition, He would bring shalom to the land. In the close of the book God promised to do justice for Israel by destroying the nations opposed to them (2:22).
Usage in the Besekh
Scholars have identified parallels to four verses of Haggai in the Besekh (GNT 917):
● In Matthew 24:29 (para. Luke 21:26) Yeshua used the phrase "the heavens will be shaken" found in Haggai 2:6, 21.
● In Matthew 28:20 Yeshua repeated the assurance of Haggai 1:13, "I am with you."
● In Hebrews 12:26 Paul quotes from Haggai 2:6 to assert that the earth will be shaken to make way for the unshakeable kingdom.
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey." (Zech 9:9 NASB)
Zechariah (Heb. Z'karyah, "Yah remembers") was "the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo," a priestly family. He was among those who returned from Babylon in 538 BC. Zechariah is named in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14 as the "son of Iddo," which may mean that Berechiah had died young before he was able to succeed his father to the priesthood (Baron 7). According to Ezra, the prophet Zechariah "prophesied to the Jews [or "Judeans"] who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them" (Ezra 5:1 NASB). Little biographical information exists concerning Zechariah. A lengthy life may be deduced from historical references in his book. First, he was called by God to prophesy in the eighth month of the second year of King Darius, two months after Haggai, 520 BC (Zech 1:1). Darius ruled 521–486 BC. While no age for Zechariah is offered, an angelic messenger refers to Zechariah at that time as a young man (Heb. na'ar, youth; 2:4), the same word used of David when he went to fight goliath (1Sam17:33) and by Jeremiah of himself when he tried to excuse himself from God's commission (Jer 1:6-7).
A location reference for Yavan (=Ionians or Greece) in Zechariah 9:13 may indicate a time after 480 BC when the balance of power shifted from the Persians to the Greeks (NIBD 1119). Because of this reference, the lack of Zechariah's name being mentioned after 7:8, and the distinctive content of Chapters 9–12, some scholars don't believe Zechariah was the author of this section of the book. However, there is no textual evidence that Zechariah was not the author and he was likely much older when he received the Messianic revelations. We should also consider that the mention of Greece could be a portent of the distant future, just as Isaiah prophesied concerning Cyrus (Isa 44:28). Nothing is known of his end, although the Targum says he died a martyr ("Zechariah," ISBE).
The book of Zechariah chronicles the ministry of the priest-prophet in calling for revival and encouraging Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, the governor. Zechariah is apocalyptic, eschatological and Messianic all at the same time, with profound revelations into the character and work of the Messiah. Throughout the book ADONAI declares his zeal and favor toward His covenant people and especially the city of Jerusalem, which is mentioned 42 times in the book. The divine name YHVH-Tzva'ot (LORD of Hosts) appears 52 times in Zechariah, which when considered in ratio to the verse count is considerably higher than the occurrence in Isaiah (49) and Jeremiah (48). YHVH-Tzva'ot appears often in passages concerning divine judgment or deliverance. He is the mightiest warrior in the universe and commands an army without equal. YHVH-Tzva'ot is the God of Israel (2Sam 7:27), and as such always acts on behalf of Israel and the house of David.
The structure of the book may be divided into three historical periods:
A. Second Year of Darius
1. Commission and call to repentance, 1:1-6.
2. Eight Vision Messages, 1:7–6:15.
◊ Man on a red horse leading 3 horses (1:7-17), depicting God's anger against the nations and His zeal for Israel.
◊ The four horns and four craftsmen (1:18-21), depicting God's judgment on the nations that afflict Israel.
◊ The man with the measuring line (2:1-13), depicting God's future blessing on restored Israel.
◊ The Cleansing of Joshua, the High Priest (3:1-10), depicting Israel's future reinstatement as a priestly nation.
◊ The golden menorah and two olive trees (4:1-14), depicting Israel as the light to the nations under Messiah.
◊ The flying scroll (5:1-4), depicting the totality of divine judgment on sin in Israel.
◊ The woman in the basket (5:5-11), depicting the removal of Israel's rebellion against God.
◊ The four chariots (6:1-9), depicting divine judgment on Gentile nations.
3. Prophecy of the King-Priest, 6:11-15
B. Fourth Year of Darius, 7:1–8:23.
◊ Hypocrisy of Fasting, 7:1-7
C. Later Period
◊ Judgment on Surrounding Nations, 9:1-8
Messiah in Zechariah
The book of Zechariah contains several specific references to the Messiah.
Joshua, the High Priest
Joshua (Heb. Y'hoshua), the high priest (3:1, 3, 6, 8, 9; 6:11), is a hint of the Messiah since the Messiah will function as a priest (6:13). Yeshua is a contraction of Y’hoshua, which means "YHVH is salvation" (BDB 221). In Zechariah's vision (3:1-7) Joshua appears in filthy clothes, and Satan accuses him of sin. But the angel of ADONAI (Heb. Malak-YHVH), whom Kaiser suggests is a pre-incarnate form of Yeshua (211), rebukes Satan, and orders the filthy clothing removed. The Lord then recommissions Joshua and grants him access to God the Father.
"Then ADONAI showed me four craftsmen." (1:20)
The Talmud recognizes the Messianic idea in this verse. When the "four craftsmen" (or carpenters) were shown to the prophet, the Talmud says that here we can see the "Messiah Son of David, the Messiah Son of Joseph, Elijah, and the Angel of Righteousness" (Sukkah 52b and the Yalqut for Exodus) (Santala 186). Fathers in Jewish culture were required to teach their sons a trade and it is no accident that Yeshua was the son of a carpenter and learned that trade (Mark 6:3). Shammai (50 B.C. - A.D. 30), the Pharisee and President of the Sanhedrin during most of Yeshua's ministry, was known to be a carpenter (Shab. 31a). At that time carpenters were regarded as particularly learned. If a difficult problem was under discussion by the scribes, they would ask, "Is there a carpenter among us, or the son of a carpenter who can solve the problem for us?" (Flusser 14)
"8 Hear now, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends sitting before you, indeed they are men of a sign, for behold, I will bring My servant the Branch. 9 For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; upon one stone with seven eyes [facets], behold, I will engrave an inscription,' says ADONAI-Tzva'ot, 'and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.'" (3:8-9 BR)
Three figurative descriptions derived from Isaiah are combined to hint of the Messiah. "My Servant" alludes to the prophecy of Isaiah (Chaps. 42–53). The Branch (Heb. tsemach, SH-6780), is mentioned in Isaiah 4:2 and elsewhere it is a sprout from the Davidic tree (cf. Ps 132:17; Jer 23:5; 33:15). The Targum interprets the promise in Zech. 3:8, "I am going to bring my servant the Branch," as that God "will bring his servant the Messiah, who is to come" (Santala 185). The mention of "the Stone" (Heb. eben) corresponds to Isaiah 28:16, which speaks of a cornerstone being laid in Zion, as well as Psalm 118:22, which speaks of the chief cornerstone rejected by the builders.
Unique to Zechariah is that the stone is described as having seven eyes, which likely represents completeness as the number seven often does. The special prophecy of the stone highlights an inscription which predicts the removal of iniquity from Israel in a single day (cf. Isa 66:8), which points to the repentance of Israel prior to the arrival of the Messiah so that when he does come Israel will mourn as one mourns for an only son (Zech 12:10).
The Golden Menorah and the Two Olive Trees
"1 Then the angel who had been speaking with me returned and woke me—like a man who is wakened from his sleep. 2 He asked me, 'What do you see?' I replied, 'Behold, I see a solid gold menorah with its bowl at the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven pipes for the lamps that are on the top of it. 3 Also two olive trees are by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on the left side of it.'" (4:1-3 TLV)
In the context of Zechariah 3–4 the two "anointed ones" are Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor. Various midrashic traditions identify them as Aaron and Moses (Exodus Rabbah 15:3), Aaron and David (Numbers Rabbah 14:13, 18:16), Aaron and the Messiah (Avot diRabbi Natan 30b), possibly Mashiach Ben-Yosef and Mashiach Ben-David (Pesikta Rabbati 8:4; the text is ambiguous). In the Talmud Rabbi Yitzchak calls the scholars of the land of Israel "anointed ones" (lit., "sons of clear oil") because they debate amicably, and those of Babylon "olive trees" because their disputes are bitter (like uncured olives; Sanhedrin 24a) (Stern 819).
"6 Then he said to me, 'This is the word of ADONAI to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says ADONAI-Tzva'ot. 7 'What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and He will bring forth the top stone with shouts of 'Grace, grace to it!'" (4:6-7 TLV)
""3 ADONAI-Tzva'ot cares for His flock, the house of Judah. He will make them His valiant steed in battle. 4 From Judah will come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg." (10:3-4 TLV)
Speaking of the "capstone" of 4:7 the Targum says, "In this way the Messiah will be revealed, for his name is from the most ancient times and he rules all the kingdoms" (Santala 185). And also 10:4, "From Judah will come the cornerstone, from him the tent-peg", are interpreted by the Targum as: "From Judah will come his king, from him his Messiah". The Metzudat David sees here the "king who is exalted by the people, and who is placed as the cornerstone in the building, the most polished... as it is written: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner."
"12 Behold, a man whose name is Branch, and afterwards He will spring up; and He will build the temple of ADONAI. 13 And He will build the temple of ADONAI, and He will bear the glory and sit and rule on His throne; and He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between them both." (Zech 6:12-13 BR)
David Baron says, "This is one of the most remarkable and precious Messianic prophecies, and there is no plainer prophetic utterance in the whole Old Testament as to the person of the promised Redeemer, the offices He was to fill and the mission He was to accomplish" (190f). While Haggai exhorted the Judeans to rebuild the temple, Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would build the temple of ADONAI (cf. Isa 2:2-4; Ezek 40–42, Mic 4:1-5; Hag 2:7-9). In doing so the Messiah will be clothed in majesty and observable by all (cf. Ps 96:6).
The prophecy hints at prophecies of Isaiah: the Servant (Chaps. 42–53), the branch (Isa 4:2) and "counsel of peace" conflates Sar Shalom and Pele Yoetz (Isa 9:6). The Messiah will be both priest and ruler. In human history religion and politics have not functioned well together, but the Messiah can bring these two roles together without conflict. The prophecy of the Branch in 6:12 is translated in the Targum as: "Behold the man! His name is the Messiah. He will come and will be great, and he will build the Temple of God" (Santala 185).
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (9:9 NASB)
This verse offers a clear prediction that the Messiah will enter publicly into Jerusalem on a donkey. However, the Jewish Sages debated the possibilities by which the Messiah would come to Israel. The following quote illustrates their attempts at reconciling the seemingly contradictory statements about the Messiah's arrival:
"R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven [Dan 7:13] whilst elsewhere it is written, behold, thy king cometh unto thee … lowly, and riding upon an ass! [Zech 9:9] — if they are meritorious, he will come with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding upon an ass." (Sanhedrin 98a)
Rabbi Hillel dissented from this view, who said, "There shall be no Messiah for Israel, because they have already enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah." R. Joseph said: "May God forgive him [for saying so]. Now, when did Hezekiah flourish? During the first Temple. Yet Zechariah, prophesying in the days of the second, proclaimed, 'Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem, behold, thy king cometh unto thee! he is just, and having salvation, lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass'" (Sanhedrin 99a).
The book of Zechariah contains several hints of a suffering Messiah as depicted in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.
● Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (11:12). The price of betrayal will be thrown into the Temple treasury (11:13).
● Messiah will be executed by having his hands and feet pierced and witnessed by Israelites (12:10).
● Messiah will be forsaken by his disciples (13:7).
The clause "they will look on me, the one they have pierced" in Zechariah 12:10, is interpreted by the Talmud as referring to "the Messiah, Son of Joseph" (Sukkah 52a) (Santala 186). Of course, "Mashiach ben-Yosef" is Yeshua ben-Yosef (son of Joseph) from Nazareth (Stern 789). The Sages swerved into the truth and yet were blind to it. Many Christian commentators assume the mourning mentioned in this verse (and repeated in Revelation 1:7) refers to remorse at having rejected the Messiah (i.e., Yeshua) and anticipation of divine judgment. There are some reasons why this interpretation does not fit the context:
(1) The verb here for mourning (Heb. saphad, SH-5594) refers to the normal grief felt at the loss of a loved one. The mourning can include regret or repentance or both. (2) The context of Zechariah 12:10 is judgment on the Gentile nations opposing Israel and deliverance by the Messiah of his beloved people. (3) The mention of mourning in Zechariah 12:10 follows the phrase "Spirit of grace and of supplication," which was provided by the Messiah to enable their trust and repentance. So, when the Messiah appears they will cry "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."
The Day of ADONAI
Before the Day of ADONAI all nations will be gathered against Jerusalem to battle (Zech 12:3; 14:1-2). Also, all the tribes of Israel will repent and mourn so that the remnant may be saved (Zech 12:10-14). The Day of ADONAI itself will be a day of judgment on the nations (Zech 12:9), and a day of darkness (Zech 14:6). On that day the feet of ADONAI will stand on the Mount of Olives and cause a great earthquake (Zech 14:4).
Restoration of the Land
"7 Thus says ADONAI-Tzva'ot, 'Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west. 8 I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem. They will be My people and I will be their God, in truth and righteousness.'" (8:7-8 TLV)
"6 I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph …, 9 When I scatter them among the peoples, they will remember Me in far countries, and they with their children will live and come back. 10 I will bring them back from the land of Egypt and gather them from Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon until no room can be found for them." (10:9-10 NASB)
In line with other prophets, Zechariah is assured that the day would come when Israel would be fully restored to the land. These prophecies had begun to be fulfilled in Zechariah's day with exiles returning from Babylon and Persia. However, by the first century only a small percentage of the exiles had returned. In A.D. 93 Josephus reported that "the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers" (Antiquities of the Jews, XI, 5:2).
The prophecy of Zechariah that the Israelites would mourn over their Messiah (12:10-14), echoed by Yeshua (Matt 24:30), could only be fulfilled if the tribes of Israel are there. Reestablishment of the sovereignty of Israel was definitely on the minds of the disciples before Yeshua's ascension (Acts 1:6), but they would not live to see it. The return properly belongs to the modern age when Jews began to make aliyah ("going up") to Israel beginning in the 1800s until culminated in the reestablishment of the nation of Israel in 1948.
Age of the Messiah
"And ADONAI will be king over all the earth; in that day ADONAI will be the only one, and His name the only one." (14:9)
Zechariah fast forwards to a time, after the time of the "pierced one" in 12:10, to the very last days when history will be brought to a close by climactic and cataclysmic events in Israel. In the context ADONAI is performing various actions, but the anthropomorphisms point to an incarnation of ADONAI.
● All nations will gather against Jerusalem, but ADONAI will come to their defense (14:1-2) and He will fight against the nations (14:3).
● His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives (14:4).
● He will bring with him all His holy ones from heaven (14:5; Heb. kedoshim). The Jewish commentators Kimchi and Rashi interpret kedoshim as angels.
● He will reign as King over the earth (14:9).
● He is the object of worship (14:16-17
With the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the Festival of Sukkot will be reinstated (14:16-18). All peoples will be expected to observe the feast. The mention of this particular feast is probably representative of the fact that all the appointed times of God's calendar will again be observed (cf. Isa 66:22-23; Ezek 46:1-11; Zeph 3:18).
Usage in the Besekh
Scholars have identified over 40 verses of Zechariah with parallels in the Besekh (GNT 918), including these quotations and reports of prophecy fulfillment.
● During his entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey Yeshua quotes from Zechariah 9:9 as being fulfilled (Matthew 21:5; John 12:14).
● In Matthew 26:31 (para. Mark 14:27) Yeshua quotes from Zechariah 13:7 regarding being forsaken by disciples as fulfilled.
● In Matthew 26:15; 27:3, 9, the prophecy of Zechariah 11:12 regarding betrayal for 30 pieces of silver is fulfilled.
● In John 19:37 the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 regarding "They shall look on him whom they pierced" is reported as fulfilled.
● In 2Corinthians 6:16 Paul quotes from Zechariah 8:8 regarding God's promise to dwell among His people and be their God.
● In Ephesians 4:25 Paul quotes the exhortation of Zechariah 8:16 for every person to speak truth to his neighbor.
● In Jude 1:9 the half-brother of Yeshua quotes from Zechariah 3:2 to repeat the historical comment of the angel Michael rebuking Satan.
● The prophecy that ADONAI will come with all His angels (Zech 14:5) is echoed in the teaching of Yeshua (Matt 16:27; 25:31; Luke 9:26), and Paul (2Th 1:7).
Scholars have identified several parallels to Zechariah in the book of Revelation:
● The mention of the Messiah being pierced in Revelation 1:7 and Zechariah 12:10.
● The scroll with writing on both sides in Revelation 5:1 and Zechariah 5:1-4.
● The seven eyes which are seven spirits in Revelation 5:6 and Zechariah 4:10.
● The four horses in Revelation 6:1-8 and Zechariah 1:7-17; 6:1-3.
● The command to measure the temple in Revelation 11:1 and Zechariah 2:1-2.
● The two olive trees and two menorahs in Revelation 11:3-4 and Zechariah 4:1-14.
● The great earthquake in the city where the Lord was crucified in Revelation 11:13 and Zechariah 14:4.
● The gathering of the nations to fight against Israel in Revelation 16:13-16 and Zechariah 12:3, 10-11.
● The declaration that all nations will worship the God of Israel in Revelation 15:3 and Zechariah 14:16.
● The One called "Faithful and True" and "Word of God" coming to earth with the armies of heaven in Revelation 19:11-14 and Zechariah 14:5.
● The promise of God dwelling among His people in Revelation 21:3 and Zechariah 8:3.
However, the occurrence of these parallels does not mean that John borrowed from Zechariah. John said "I saw," not "I was reading Zechariah." To say otherwise is to call John a liar. The point is that John received the same kind of revelations as Zechariah so that the revelation of God rests on the testimony of two or three witnesses (Matt 18:16). When the parallels are compared side by side, many differences in the details may be noted. See my web article The Composition of Revelation.
Textual Note: Matthew 27:9 mentions the source of the prophecy as Jeremiah. The name of Jeremiah is well attested in Greek MSS, but his name is omitted entirely in several MSS, including Diatessaron (2nd c.) and the Coptic, Persian, Syriac and Vulgate versions (Metzger 55). Stern reports a suggestion supported by Talmudic references that the scroll of the Prophets (Heb. Neviim) may have originally begun with Jeremiah (the longest book, by word count), not Isaiah. Indeed, the Talmud says, "Our Rabbis taught: The order of the Prophets is, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the Twelve Minor Prophets" (Bava Bathra 14b). Thus, by naming Jeremiah, Matthew is referring to the Prophets as a group, not naming the particular prophet quoted (83).
There is scholarly debate over when the final order of the books of the Hebrew Canon (Tanakh) was determined. Originally, there may have only been a two-fold division: the Torah and Prophets (Matt 5:17; Mark 11:13; Luke 24:27). However, Yeshua may have alluded to the three-fold division when he mentioned the "Torah, Prophets and Psalms" (Luke 24:44). In the Hebrew Bible the book of Psalms is positioned first in the Ketuvim ("Writings"), and thus (like the mention of "Jeremiah" in Matt 27:9) stand for the entire Ketuvim. Josephus in his work Against Apion, written c. 97 AD, says the Canon consisted of 22 books in three divisions of Moses (5 books), Prophets (13 books) and the remaining books of four (1:8). He offers no date for finalizing the canon and, in fact, the inclusion of Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs was debated in the second century (Yadayim 3:5). However, the custom came about to order the "Major Prophets" according to chronology.
5th Century B.C.
"Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts." (Mal 3:1 NASB)
Malachi (Heb. Malaki, "my messenger"), was a post-exilic prophet. Nothing is known of his life, although a few inferences may be drawn from his prophetic message. Setting a date for Malachi's ministry is largely guesswork and cannot be determined with certainty, but perhaps about 515–458 BC. Malachi mentions an altar, but not the temple, which may correspond to the time when the altar was in place before the temple was rebuilt (Ezra 3:1-3). Thus, Santala dates Malachi's ministry around the year 516 BC (187). Other scholars interpret the mention of burnt offerings in Chap. 1 as indicating the presence of the temple. Malachi was probably a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah due to some common themes in their books, such as the issue of mixed marriages (Ezra 9:1-2 and Mal 2:11) and the non-payment of tithes (Neh 13:10; Mal 3:8).
According to Jewish tradition the Hebrew name Malaki is a description and not a name. In fact, the LXX translates Malaki with autou angelou, "his messenger." The Sages were divided over the identity of Malaki. One Sage suggested he was Mordecai and another Sage considered him to be Ezra (Megillah 15a). The Targum of Jonathan on the words "By the hand of Malachi" (1:1) gives the gloss "Whose name is called Ezra the scribe" (JE, Malachi). The patristic writer Jerome, in his preface to the commentary on Malachi, mentions that in his day the belief was current among Jews that Malachi was identical with Ezra.
Against the Rabbinic view is the fact that the choice of Ezra is only a guess. The Hebrew name in Malachi 1:1 lacks the definite article, which we should expect if Malaki were only a description. If the author's name was not "Malachi" then omitting his name reflects a Hebrew-Jewish mindset. "Unlike the Greek, the Jew had no personal pride in authorship, probably because he so often felt himself the vehicle of something before which his own personality sank into insignificance" (Tarn & Griffith 229). According to the Talmud, Malachi received revelations via Bat Kol (lit., "daughter of a voice"), Jewish idiomatic expression for a voice from heaven (Sotah 48b). The phenomenon is well-known in Jewish literature. This reference also says that when Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi died the Holy Spirit departed from Israel. Four hundred years of silence from heaven followed.
Malachi has three chapters in the Masoretic text (MT), while in the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, and the Aramaic Peshitta it has four. Christian versions have four chapters. Messianic Jewish versions follow the chapter division of the MT. The book may be outlined as follows:
I. The Privilege of the Nation, 1:1-5.
II. The Pollution of the Nation, 1:6–3:15
A. The Sin of the Priests, 1:6–2:9
B. The Sin of the People, 2:10–3:15
III. The Promises to the Nation, 3:16–4:6.
A. Rewards of the Book of Remembrance, 3:16-18.
B. Rewards of the Coming Messiah, 4:1-3 (MT 3:19-21)
C. Rewards of the Coming of Elijah, 4:4-6 (MT 3:22-24)
Malachi has some positive elements. The book begins by reminding people of God’s love (1:2-3). He also reminds them of God's favoritism for Israel in contrast to His attitude toward Edom or Esau. In addressing the priests Malachi compliments their ancestor Levi for his righteous character and faithful instruction in Torah values (2:4-7), and in so doing indicates that God gives greater weight to the heart than to ceremony. God then makes a beautiful promise of a Book of Remembrance in which are names written of those who fear ADONAI and esteem His name. The Book of Remembrance is probably comparable to the Book of Life mentioned elsewhere in Scripture (Ex 32:32-33; Ps 69:28; Luke 10:20; Php 4:3; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; 21:27).
Malachi also has a number of negative elements. A dominant theme in Malachi is a rebuke against injustice committed by both priests and lay people.
● The first injustice is that priests had brought defiled animals for sacrifice (1:7-9, 12-14). Malachi accuses the priests of swindling God.
● The second injustice is that some people had divorced their wives in order to marry pagan women (2:11-16). Christian interpretation has often used this passage to assert that God hates all divorce. However, the context demonstrates that the divorce God hates is the one based on an unjust cause. There are examples in which God approved of divorce (Gen 21:9-14; Ezra 10:3). See my web article Divorce in the Bible.
● The third injustice was oppressing the needy, namely widows and orphans, foreigners and workers (3:5).
● The fourth injustice was withholding tithes and offerings, thereby robbing God (3:3-10). Christian interpretation has often dismissed the applicability of the Torah requirement for tithing, but Yeshua affirmed its importance (Matt 23:23). Since he practiced tithing so should all his followers.
● The fifth injustice is that some had had the audacity to speak against God, saying there was no benefit in serving God (3:14-15).
For these offenses Malachi warned that a day of judgment was coming when God would consume evildoers like chaff (4:1).
Messiah in Malachi
Messenger of the Covenant
"Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he comes," says ADONAI-Tzva'ot." (3:1 BR)
The prophecy of the messenger (Heb. malak; Grk. angelos) being sent probably alludes to Isaiah 40:3, which depicts a voice calling in the wilderness to prepare the way for ADONAI. Not only is a messenger being sent but "the Lord" will come to the temple. Of importance is that "Lord" is not YHVH as might be expected but Adôn (SH-113; BDB 10), which means 'lord' or 'master' and is used of both humans (Gen 18:12) and the God of Israel (Ex 15:17). The LXX renders adôn with kurios, which is the principal title by which disciples and others addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry, over twice as many times as any other title. In this personal usage kurios would be the equivalent of Heb. adôn, not YHVH.
Christian interpreters typically treat the word "covenant" (Heb. b'rit) as referring to the New Covenant, viewed as a covenant of grace superseding the covenant of circumcision. However, the New Covenant does not replace the Old Covenant, but empowers God's people to keep it as Jeremiah and Ezekiel plainly declared (Jer 31:33; Ezek 36:26-27). See my web article The Everlasting Covenants. The expression "messenger of the covenant" may be explained by the mission of Elijah in 4:6 (See "Future Hope" below).
Jewish interpretation is divided over the identity of the "messenger of the covenant" and the "Lord." Rabbi David Kimchi says of the "Lord" who will come to his temple that, "He is the Messiah-King and the Angel of the Covenant." The Metzudat David of David Altschuler distinguishes between the Angel of the Lord and the Angel of the Covenant: "The Lord is the Messiah-King, for whom the eyes of everyone wait and long and wish to come, but by the 'Angel of the Covenant' is meant Elijah" (Santala 188). It does make sense that the "Lord" should be distinguished from the "messenger of the covenant," given the promise of 4:5-6 concerning Elijah.
The apostolic narratives assert that Messiah Yeshua was indeed preceded by God's messenger, Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 3:1-3; Luke 1:17; 3:2-6). Malachi 2:7 says that the priest is a "messenger of ADONAI-Tzva'ot." Yochanan the Immerser was the son of a priest and would have served at the Temple if God had not called him to be a prophet. Also, Yeshua entered the temple complex (Court of the Gentiles) with authority (Matt 21:12-24:1; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 2:27-38, 45-50; John 2:13-22).
Sun of Righteousness
"But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings [Heb. kanaph]; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall." (4:2 NASB; MT 3:20)
The figurative description "sun of righteousness" is unique in Scripture. In the beginning the heavenly lights were created to function as "signs" (Heb. mo‘adim, Gen 1:14), and not just as aids to navigation, but portents with religious significance. The sun was worshipped in pagan cultures, but in Psalm 19:4 the sun represents the light of God revealed in the Torah. Moreover, the sun is used fig. of the God of Israel. Psalm 84:11 says, "ADONAI Elohim is a sun and shield." Also, Isaiah 60:19 says, "No more will the sun be your light by day, nor the glow of the moon be your light, but ADONAI will be your everlasting light, and your God for your glory" (TLV).
In Jewish literature the Midrash speaks of the "rising of the sun when the Messiah comes, as it is written: 'To you who revere my name will dawn the sun of righteousness and healing" (Midrash Shemoth Rabbah par. 31; quoted by Santala 189). A possible fulfillment of this promise may be seen in the healing by Yeshua of the woman with the issue of blood (Matt 9:20-22). The woman believed that if she could touch the fringe of Yeshua's clothing she could be healed. The word "fringe" renders Grk. kraspedon, edge, hem or ritual tassel, which is used in the LXX to translate Heb. tzitzit in the Torah instruction of Numbers 15:38-40. Observant Jewish men in Yeshua's time wore Heb. tzitziyot, on the four corners of their outer garment.
In Numbers 15:38 the command states; "Make tzitzit at kanphei (upon the corners) of your garments." Kanaph (SH-3671) mean "wing" as the wing of a bird, but also is used for the corner or extremity of a garment (BDB 489). Thus, the healing is an acted out parable of the promise in Malachi 4:2. When the woman touched the fringe, the tzitziyot, of Yeshua's cloak, she touched the Son of Righteousness. She took hold of the symbol of the God of Israel and, without realizing it, she claimed the promise of Malachi.
Day of ADONAI
Yom-YHVH occurs one time in Malachi 4:5 (MT 3:24), which refers back to the prophecy of verse 1 (MT 3:19), "For the day is coming, burning like a furnace, when all the proud and evildoers will be stubble; the day that is coming will set them ablaze," says ADONAI-Tzva'ot, "and leave them neither root nor branch" (CJB). It is important to note that this prophecy is directed to Israel. While "all Israel" will be saved (Rom 11:26), not all Jews will be saved (Rom 9:6-8). On this day of judgment the wicked of every nation will be destroyed. Worst of all is that condemned Israelites will be left without root or branch.
The word "root" is Heb. shoresh (SH-8328), the root of a tree or shrub, which is used figuratively for permanence, but also the word used in Isaiah 11:10 of the "root of Jesse," the Messiah. So, the wicked will be left without the atoning merit of Yeshua's shed blood. The word "branch" is Heb. anaph (SH-6057), branch of a tree or vine. The noun is a collective singular and could be translated as "branches." The noun is used figuratively, probably for no lasting fruit produced for God as Yeshua warned in his parable of the vine and branches (John 15:1-16).
Malachi makes a significant prediction. Before the Day of ADONAI God will send Elijah to "return the heart of the fathers to the sons of Israel and the heart of the sons of Israel to the fathers" (v. 6). Some Christian interpreters see in this predicted promise a strengthening of families, but that is not the point. Malachi anticipates the day when devotion to the Torah as exhorted in verse 4 would turn to legalism and the spiritual would be abandoned for the form of godliness. The remedy will be for Elijah to call the people back to the devotion of the fathers, that is, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.
The physical return of Elijah is certainly possible, because he did not die, but was taken to heaven in a whirlwind (not a chariot of fire as commonly assumed) (2Kgs 2:11). Stern says that believers in Jerusalem have grown used to being presented with candidates claiming to be one of the two witnesses. They appear every few months, often dressed in sackcloth like the ancient prophets and claiming to be in the spirit and power of Elijah. In such circumstances, requiring self-appointed prophets to fulfill literally the signs of the Revelation witnesses is a reasonable test. None have yet produced the miraculous proofs expected of the genuine Elijah and his partner.
Usage in the Besekh
Scholars have identified 18 verses of Malachi with parallels in the Besekh (GNT 918), including these quotations and references to prophecy fulfillment.
● In Luke 1:17 the angel Gabriel announces that the prophecy of Malachi 4:6 will be fulfilled in the life of the Yochanan the son of Zechariah.
● In Luke 1:76 the priest Zechariah prophesies that his son Yochanan will fulfill the prophecy of Malachi 3:1.
● In Matthew 11:10 (para. Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27) Yeshua quotes the prophecy of Malachi 3:1 as being fulfilled.
● In Matthew 17:11-12 (para. Mark 9:12-13) Yeshua announced that the prophecy of Malachi 4:5 regarding the coming of Elijah had been fulfilled in Yochanan the Immerser, but will yet be fulfilled in the literal sense.
● In Romans 9:13 Paul quotes from Malachi 1:2-3 to assert God's preference for Jacob over Esau.
Non-Messianic Jewish Sources
Altschuler: Rabbi David Altschuler (1687–1769), Metzudat David (Commentary on the Tanakh), 1753. Available online only in Hebrew. He wrote commentaries on the Neviim (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).
Boyarin: Daniel Boyarin, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ. The New Press, 2012. Professor of Talmudic Culture at the University of California, Berkley.
Flusser: David Flusser (1917-2000), The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius. 4th ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007. Orthodox Jewish scholar and professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Gilbert: Gary Gilbert, Annotations on "The Acts of the Apostles," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Isaac: Isaac ben Abraham of Troki (1533-1594), Chizuk Emunah ("Faith Strengthened"). 2 vols. Trans. Moses Mocatta, 1851. Online.
JANT: Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
JE: Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), JewishEncyclopedia.com, 2002-2011.
Kimchi: Rabbi David Kimchi (1160-1235), Commentary on the Tanakh. Available online in Hebrew. Some works are available in English: Psalms; Zechariah. His name in Hebrew is spelled "Qof-Mem-Chet-Yod" and also spelled in English as "Kimhi" or "Qimhi." His name is abbreviated as RaDaK.
Klausner: Joseph Klausner (1874–1958), The Messianic Idea In Israel From Its Beginning To The Completion Of The Mishnah. trans. W. F. Stinespring. The Macmillan Co., 1955. Online.
Malbim: Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser (1809-1879), Commentary on the Tanakh. Available online only in Hebrew. "Malbim" is an acronym of his name.
Reinhartz: Adele Reinhartz, Annotations on "John," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.
Yalqut: a Hebrew term for a collection of highlighted teachings of a rabbi, often collected by his students. The main emphasis of a yalqut is practical encouragement on how to live according to Torah. Yalqut (also spelled Yalkut) also refers to Medieval anthologies of midrashic literature. The best known and most comprehensive is Yalqut Shimoni ("The Compilation of Simeon"), which covers the entire Hebrew Bible. This Yalqut comprises a connected series of extracts from Talmudic and Midrashic passages drawn up in the 12th and 13th centuries. More limited in scope is Yalqut Machiri, ("The Compilation of Machir b. Abba Mari"), which covers the Prophets, Psalms and Proverbs. Nothing certain is known about these authors.
Messianic Jewish Sources
Baron: David Baron (1855–1926), Zechariah: A Commentary on His Visions and Prophecies (1918). Kregel Publications, 2001. Born a Russian Jew, he later embraced Yeshua and co-founded The Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel of London, England.
CJSB: David Stern, The Complete Jewish Study Bible. Hendrickson Publishers, 2016.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Also online.
Gruber: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Annotations by the author.
Leman: Derek Leman, A New Look at the Old Testament. Mt. Olive Press, 2006.
Sevener: Harold A. Sevener, God's Man in Babylon. Chosen People Ministries, 1994. [Messianic Jew]
Shapira: Rabbi Itzhak Shapira, The Return of the Kosher Pig: The Divine Messiah in Jewish Thought. Lederer Books, 2013.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online at BibleHub.com.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online. Gill was a life-long Hebrew scholar, and quotes from many rabbinical sources in his commentary.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [Nestle-Aland 25th ed.]
ISBE: James Orr, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1939. Website HTML, 2011. Online.
Kaiser: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. The Messiah in the Old Testament. Zondervan Pub. House, 1995.
KDC: C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament (1866-1891). 10 Vols. Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.
Marshall: Alfred Marshall, NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, Zondervan Corporation, 1986.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Morris: Henry M. Morris, The Remarkable Journey of Jonah. Master Books, 2003.
Motyer: J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary. InterVarsity Press, 1993.
NIBD: Herbert Lockyer, ed., Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Owens: John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, Vol. 4. Baker Book House, 1989.
Payne: J. Barton Payne (1922-1979), Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy. Baker Books, 1973, 1980.
Purkiser: W.T. Purkiser, ed. Exploring the Old Testament. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1955.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1980, 1992. Online.
Tarn & Griffith: Sir William Tarn and G.T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilization. 3rd Edition. Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd., 1952.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
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