Messianic Expectations In The Early Post-Exilic Period -- By: Wolter H. Rose

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 49:2 (NA 1998)
Article: Messianic Expectations In The Early Post-Exilic Period
Author: Wolter H. Rose


Messianic Expectations
In The Early Post-Exilic Period1

Wolter H. Rose

This thesis examines (1) the identity of the coming ruler who is given the name Zemah (צמח, usually translated ‘the Branch’), the main character in the צמח oracles (Zc. 3:8 and 6:9-15) in the visions in Zechariah 1-6, and (2) the nature of the expectations set on this figure. It is argued that a wrong translation of the word צמח is one of the factors that has led to flawed interpretation of these oracles. The real meaning of צמח, ‘vegetation, greenery, growth’, implies that the background for the interpretation of the צמח oracles in Zechariah should not be found in the plant imagery of Isaiah 11:1 (where different terminology and different imagery is used). The use of the צמח imagery in Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12-13 is analogous to that found in Jeremiah 23:5, where in a time of collapse of the monarchy the same צמח imagery is used to evoke the idea of an intervention by Yhwh as the only means for guaranteeing the restoration of the monarchy. In this scenario, ‘David’ will not contribute, but only receive. The adjective צדיק in Jeremiah 23:5 does not raise the issue of legitimacy, as has often been claimed, but has the usual meaning ‘righteous’, an interpretation that can be supported from the context of the passage. The claim that there are many examples of North-West Semitic ådq meaning ‘legitimate’ is tested and found seriously wanting.

The choice of the word צמח as the name of the coming ruler, a name with a distinctive message, combined with other features, such as the crowning of Joshua rather than Zerubbabel, and the consistent future reference of the coming of Zemah, make an identification of Zemah with Zerubbabel untenable. Only an identification of Zemah

with an unidentified future figure has the explanatory power to deal satisfactorily with all the features of the double portrait of Zemah in

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