What Kind of Messiah Did the Jews Expect? -- By: Cullen I. K. Story

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 105:417 (Jan 1948)
Article: What Kind of Messiah Did the Jews Expect?
Author: Cullen I. K. Story


What Kind of Messiah Did the Jews Expect?

Cullen I. K. Story

(Continued from the October-December Number, 1947)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered from 30–60, but in this electronic edition are numbered from 1–31, respectively.}

The Person of Messiah

That Messiah is a person and that the Jews expected a personal Messiah are two clearly defined facts. In no other way can the Old Testament Messianic prophecies be interpreted. Furthermore the non-acceptance of this fact of His person hopelessly confuses the plain teaching of the New Testament and that of the then contemporaneous Jewish literature.

It is apparent as we read the four Gospels that, with very few exceptions, the understanding of the person of Messiah by the vast majority was at the most only partially complete. For example, when our Lord sets forth a certain claim, and that claim is questioned or rejected by the Jews, He appeals to the Old Testament for substantiation. From their Scriptures they should have known Messiah in His full character; yet Christ infers that their Messianic perception was only partial, either as a result of a lack of diligence in searching the Scriptures or a lack of an understanding of the Scriptures. Thus we read His words: “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt 22:31–32). Then again, in Mark 12:35–37: “And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? For David

himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.” Still again in Matthew 21:42 our Lord asks the Pharisees, “Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner…?”

Included in that partial conception there seems to have been by many a belief in the pre-existence and even in the eternal existence of Messiah. Alfred Edersheim notes that the Midrash on the eighth chapter of Proverbs expressly states the Messiah is among the seven things created before the world.1 This would not only prove Messiah to be above the ordinary condit...

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