TAAM: Torah Answers for Anti-Missionaries
This page deals with Torah Answers in the category:
Objections from Anti-missionaries : Yeshua's claim to the title of Messiah
(Last Update: 17-nov-13 )
1. "Jesus didn't fulfill what Messiah has to do."
2. "Christians say Jesus will fulfill Messianic prophecies in a 'second coming', but no such thing exists in the Jewish Bible."
3. "Messiah will be a great prophet. Jesus appeared on the scene 350 years after prophecy had ended."
4. "Jews don't believe in a divine Messiah - 'Son of G-d' is a pagan concept."
5. "Belief that salvation comes through a man, or that the Messiah has already come, is not a Jewish faith."
6. "Jesus died without bringing peace and justice to the world, a major requirement for the Messiah."
7. "Yeshua was a faithful Jew in his day, and even a good Torah teacher. He just wasn't the Messiah."
8. "Jesus made himself the messiah of a new religion. The Jews who believe in that man abandon the Torah."
9. "I can believe that Jesus is the Messiah for the Gentiles. But Jews don't need Jesus as a way to G-d."
10. "I need to see proof. I've been shown nothing straight from Tanach that Yeshua is the Messiah."
11. "The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David. If Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father."
12. "The case of the daughters of Zelopahad proves that tribal inheritance is from the father."
13. "The lineage in Matthew is Jesus' adoptive father Joseph. There is no Biblical basis for a father passing on his tribal line by adoption."
14. "Messiah must be a descendent of David through Solomon. Luke is irrelevant because it describes lineage of David's son Nathan."
1. "Jesus cannot be the Jewish Messiah, because he didn't fulfill what Messiah has to do."
This is perhaps the most common argument raised by Torah-faithful Jews, yet it's based on disinformation. See our article, "A Review of Jewish Commentary on the Messiah" for the true and full rabbinic picture of Messiah's nature and mission.
That picture was denied by later generations, who began to promote the controversial Maimonides as the final authority on Messianic requirements. Part of the rejection of Rambam's teaching by contemporary sages was due to his rationalist worldview, which he imposed on G-d's Anointed One, removing His divine attributes and making Him a mere man.
Whatever conclusion we want to draw from that dispute, if we really honor ALL of our sages as we claim, minimally we ought to be allowing Jews the option to believe in Yeshua as a Messiah that fits one stream of rabbinic teaching.
Then comes a problem: If Yeshua doesn't conflict with the early rabbinic view of Messiah, and no one has shown up with nearly as good a "match" to the sources, then what is wrong with accepting Him as such - complete with the capital "H"? And that explains why so few modern rabbis want to discuss these rabbinic commentaries, or even admit they are there.
Now we will look at a description of Messiah's mission widely accepted as "the Jewish" position (taken from the Aish Ha-Torah site, "Why Jews Don't Believe in Jesus" by Rabbi Shraga Simmons). Because this objection to Yeshua as Messiah is embraced with such confidence by Jews the world over, we have given it the detailed answer that it deserves.
What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? The Bible says that he will:
A. Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
B. Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
C. Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
D. Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world -- on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One." (Zechariah 14:9)
If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be "The Messiah."
Because no one has ever fulfilled the Bible's description of this future King, Jews still await the coming of the Messiah. All past Messianic claimants, including Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Cochba and Shabbtai Tzvi have been rejected.
These are derived from Rambam's discourse on the requirements of the Messiah in Mishneh Torah ("Laws of Kings" 11-12). Although Rambam listed more conditions, these four are usually quoted by today's Torah community.
We will look at these statements one at a time, and show how they create more problems for the rabbinic community than they solve.
A. "The Messiah will build the Third Temple." The passage relied on for support is this:
I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And the nations will know that I am the L-RD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever. - Ezek.37:26-28
Here G-d says He will dwell among His people, and/or within His people (the Hebrew word, áúåëí / "b'tocham", can mean both). Whichever way we want to read it, it is G-d Himself who will "set" His sanctuary there. This is probably the source for the widely respected tradition that the Third Temple will descend from heaven.
The problem is that while this passage is given as proof that "the Messiah will build the Third Temple", we see no mention of Messiah here. The source of this expectation is credited to Rambam (The Book of Kings and Their Wars 1, 1), who concluded that the Messiah would have to build the Third Temple Himself in order to settle the disputes about the details of its construction (see Kings 12, 2). In fact, the Hebrew of Ezek. 37 does not necessarily mean a physical structure at all - "My sanctuary" that He sets among us is "Mikdashi" and "Mishkani", while "the sanctuary" or "temple" that is to be built according to physical dimensions is "Ha-Heichal" or "Ha-Bayit" (compare Ezek.40:5, 41:1, 5, 13, etc).
Earlier in Ezek.37, G-d says that "David" will rule His people, a reference universally accepted by the sages as meaning the Messiah. But the description of building the physical Temple comes only 5 chapters later, without any mention of Messiah's involvement. The task is explicitly given to the repentant nation of Israel:
If they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the house, its structure, its exits, its entrances, all its designs, all its statutes, and all its laws. And write it in their sight, so that they may observe its whole design and all its statutes and do them. - Ezek.43:11
In short, the passage describing the construction of Ezekiel's Temple does not give that task to Messiah. On the other hand, the passage which is presented as proof of Messiah building the Temple actually requires us to recognize Messiah speaking as G-d Himself. Yet those who use this passage are trying to prove the exact opposite.
B. "The Messiah will gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel." The proof offered here is:
Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back ' Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made. - Isa.43:5-6
As in the previous proof-text, the speaker here is G-d Himself, clearly identified in v.1 and 3. He then says "I will bring" the Jews back; these are people "whom I have created for My glory". Putting these words in the mouth of the Messiah is unthinkable for those who do not believe Messiah is equal with G-d.
In the next verse, G-d does not call on Messiah, but on earthly agents in the "north" and "south" to "bring My sons...and My daughters". These agents are not identified here, but they are identified in Isaiah 49, which speaks explicitly of the returning exiles:
The children of whom you [Zion] were bereaved will yet say in your ears, "The place is too cramped for me; make room for me that I may live here." Then you will say in your heart, "Who has begotten these for me, since I have been bereaved of my children and am barren, an exile and a wanderer? And who has reared these? Behold, I was left alone; from where did these come?"
Thus says the Lord G-D, "Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations, and set up My standard to the peoples; and they will bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders...." - Isa.49:20-22
With all that said, the Messiah DOES have the mandate to gather the people of Israel... not necessarily back to the Land, but back to G-d. Torah tells us that G-d will not only gather us physically from among the nations, but also those lost "at the end of heaven" ( á÷öä äùîéí - Deut.30:4, Neh.1:9), signifying a spiritual return.
Even more remarkable, Israel's Messiah has a broader mandate to show G-d's Salvation to the Goyim as well:
And now says the L-RD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (for I am honored in the sight of the L-RD, and My God is My strength); He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations, so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth." - Isa.49:5-6
C. "The Messiah will usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease." This verse is supplied for support:
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore. - Isa.2:4
However, in the context, we see no mention of Messiah being the cause of the nations laying down their weapons. On the contrary, it is "the L-rd" (Y-H-V-H) and "the God of Jacob" who teaches the nations: "Let us go up to the mountain of the L-rd, to the house of the God of Yakov, and HE will teach us from His ways... and HE will judge between the nations..." (v.3-4) Again, those who don't accept Messiah's equality with G-d ought to have trouble applying this verse to Messiah.
Interestingly, the opposite claim is often made, that Israel's Messiah will be recognized for His leadership in waging war on the enemies of G-d, and this actually has more scriptural support than the role mentioned here. But again, the verses used (such as Zech.14:3-4) present a dilemma for those who deny that "G-d" (Y-H-V-H) has "feet" with which to physically stand on Har Zayitim.
D. "The Messiah will spread universal knowledge of G-d, which will unite humanity as one." The verse is quoted:
G-d will be King over all the world -- on that day, G-d will be One and His Name [will be] One. -Zech.14:9
Note that the verse says it is G-d Himself and His Name which will become "One", not humanity. That's the first problem.
The second is that the rest of Zechariah 14 describes humanity as being sharply divided once G-d is revealed to them. Some "families of the earth" rebel against G-d and receive plagues or droughts as punishment; others violently turn on one another because of "a great panic from the L-rd" (v.13).
A "united humanity" is a humanist expectation that is not supported by this Tanach passage. Such an expectation may in fact cause Jews to accept someone who is NOT the Messiah, simply because he manages to unite mankind temporarily.
"If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be 'The Messiah'."
As we can see, these four "mission statements" are not reliable for identifying the Messiah in the way it is claimed here. Not even one of the offered Scriptures can be applied to Messiah... unless you are prepared to accept that Messiah and G-d are one.
"Because no one has ever fulfilled the Bible's description of this future King, Jews still await the coming of the Messiah. All past Messianic claimants, including Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Cochba and Shabbtai Tzvi have been rejected."
Any student of Jewish history and contemporary Hassidic thought will recognize this as a misleading statement at best.
Bar Kochba was declared to be King Messiah by Rabbi Akiva, before it was possible to know whether Bar Kochba had fulfilled these four requirements. And the fact that Bar Kochba made no move toward "world peace" and dared to shed innocent blood did not cause his rejection; it was the fall of his stronghold in Beitar that forced Jews to give up on him.
The huge following that declared the Torah-breaking Sabbtai Zevi as Messiah was based on a mere hope that he might fulfill these requirements (go here for more details). We should also add Rabbi Nachman of Breslav, and Rabbi Shneerson of Chabad, neither of whom fulfilled these four Messianic mandates (except in a vague "spiritualized" sense), and both of whom have a faithful following to this day who call them "King Messiah".
Chabad is a big problem for those who insist "Jews still await the coming of the Messiah". Chabad (or at least a faction in Chabad) does not declare that their Rebbe "was the potential Messiah for his generation", but rather he "is THE Messiah" we have all been awaiting:
Today we need to be cognizant of the fact that the Rebbe, our Moshe Rabbeinu is here, and live with this.... The Rebbe makes demands and gives us the kochos [strength] to experience this reality because this is the time. It’s happening now....
Therefore, we have a job to do, to tell everyone that we already have Moshiach. Not like it was throughout the generations, when there was a Moshiach of the generation deserving to be Moshiach, who had the potential to be Moshiach, but Moshiach who is already revealed and is impacting the world.... This is not about a tzaddik who is fitting to be Moshiach, but Moshiach who is actively doing what Moshiach does. (from "Moshiach: See It, Live It", Bais Moshiach, 2009, p.12)
How do Chabad "meshichistim" relate to Rambam's conditions? The Chabad leader of Montreal replied that if they were mistaken, "we won’t be any worse than Rabbi Akiva and all the sages of his generation, regarding whom the Rambam writes that they thought Ben-Koziva was Moshiach." However, he went on to imply that Rambam's requirement for the Messiah to accomplish his messianic mission during his earthly life does not apply to R. Schneerson:
Obviously, the Rebbe, who is the nasi of the final generation, continues to live despite what happened on 3 Tamuz [his physical death]. Therefore, there is no change in our belief that he is Moshiach. ("A Totally New Approach to the Same Old Shlihus", Bais Moshiach, 2006, p.10)
Jewish faith can allow for a man who died and was buried to "continue to live" and function as Messiah, the Chabad rabbi insisted; however, it does require Jews "to give up certain assumptions that they developed since their childhood" (p.9).
In mid-2011, Chabad began offering a modified messianic message to re-educate Jews on what Torah allows concerning belief in Messiah. Oddly, the teaching video "Moshiach Myths and Misconceptions" actually embraces humanistic concepts and quotes the Chabad book of Tanya in place of Torah. A rare quote from Tanach (Isa.11:9) reduces "the knowledge of G-d" to "a change of consciousness [away from materialism]...a paradigm shift...[realizing that] I am here as a divine agent, to serve a higher purpose." The last 10 minutes introduce Rambam's requirements for qualifying to be "the Moshiach" (defined as "a leader who ushers in this New Age, the new consciousness") with a brief hint that Shneerson was such a leader. In other words, they prepare Jews to receive Shneerson as a divine Messiah by promoting the New Age teaching that we are all divine to begin with; all we lack is a leader, "a redeemer like Moses" to lead us into "self-actualizing" freedom.
In conclusion, we see that this detailed objection to Yeshua's messianic claim has the appearance of an intellectually honest answer, but it does not do justice to the Tanach passages cited as its support. Nor does it acknowledge the range of Jewish belief that is currently exempt from these requirements. The reason for the double standard that is applied exclusively to Yeshua must be found outside the realm of intellectual honesty.
2. Christians say Jesus will fulfill the prophecies for a reigning Messiah in the "second coming", but Jewish sources show that the Messiah must fulfill the prophecies in his lifetime or not at all. No concept of a second coming exists in the Bible either.
This argument again refers to Rambam's description of Messianic requirements. It shows ignorance not only of the Tanach, but of wider rabbinic teaching on the subject. The concept of the Messiah being revealed, then hidden, and then returned is well-established in rabbinic literature. It was so well-known that our sages didn't debate the fact, but only how long He would be hidden before returning. See here for some sources. In particular, Sanhedrin 98b recognizes that Messiah could be hidden among the living (and would be revealed) or He could be hidden among the dead (and would be resurrected).
These sources are the basis for Chabad's expectation that their Rebbe will be revealed in a "second coming". Some claim that he will rise from the dead, while others claim he never actually died, but is simply "concealed". These factions agree that (dead or alive) their departed rebbe can be accessed for advice and miracles, and that his former residence is the first part of "the third temple" where he will be "revealed first" . Not only that, but some Chabad leaders have declared that Rabbi Shneerson is capable of "giving life" to his followers, hinting at Divine powers.
770 is the makom ha’Mikdash and as such, every chassid must be oleh regel [a pilgrim] to this place from which we draw encouragement, consolation, chayus and emuna [faith], as well as yearning for the revelation of the Rebbe MH”M [Melech ha-Moshiach]. This is aside from the emuna and feeling that the Rebbe is right there in 770, giving life to all those who enter, and that 770 is where the Rebbe MH”M will be revealed first, as the Rebbe himself said...” (from "The House of Cedars", Bais Moshiach, 2003, p.9)
Jewish historian Professor David Berger has analyzed Chabad beliefs and has dubbed their teachers "elokistim" for declaring that their Rebbe is equal with G-d: "he controls everything and is all-powerful and thus is impossible to hide from..." as well as being all-knowing, able to answer prayer, and in control of the world. (Go here for documentation.) Berger has called for Chabadniks to be expelled from the Jewish community to the same degree that Jewish disciples of Yeshua have been excluded, and for the same reasons.
The call was avoided by the Torah community for a few years, but now it is beginning to split the rabbinic world. The Wikipedia entry on Chabad Messianism chronicles the wide-ranging controversy, both in Israel and abroad. At one extreme is the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), an orthodox group associated with Yeshiva University, which issued a statement declaring Chabad believers in Schneerson as messiah to be outside the Jewish consensus. They went so far as to require RCA members to disavow belief in a resurrected Messiah, which denies centuries of rabbinic commentary. At the other extreme are hareidi rabbis in Israel who in 2007 were willing to accept the conversion of a man who openly confessed Shneerson as messiah. They were supported by Israel's Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.
Meanwhile, Chabad rabbis continue to go on record proclaiming their Rebbe as King Messiah, and in some cases nothing less than G-d, citing rabbinic sources for support. Even those Chabadniks who are uncomfortable with the G-d-like qualities attributed to Shneerson are unwilling to declare a cherem against their colleagues. As we saw above, they are very evangelical as well - on a mission "to tell everyone" (Jews and Gentiles) to accept their Rebbe as the actual (not potential) Messiah.
In short , the difference between Shneerson's followers and Yeshua's followers can be narrowed down to one issue: perceived faithfulness to Torah.
3. "The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moses. (Targum - Isaiah 11:2; Maimonides - Yad Teshuva 9:2) Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE.
During the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets -- Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Therefore, Jesus was not a prophet; he appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended." (from "Why Jews Don't Believe in Jesus," Aish HaTorah website)
The Prophets (Isaiah and others) had much to say about the process of prophecy, and some recorded how/why G-d had called them. But nowhere in Tanach does it say that "prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry." Besides, this statement is immediately refuted by the writer himself.
He refers to "the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon". The remnant from Judah, Levi and Benjamin are meticulously counted in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 & 12, and totalled a bit over 42,000. It was a small contingent indeed, and didn't begin to compare with the other 9 or 10 tribes of Israel who were scattered and lost. Yet G-d raised up TWO prophets - Haggai and Zechariah - for this tiny minority! The rabbis include Malachi as well, though Ezra 5:1 doesn't name him.
With regard to prophecy having "not existed since 300 BCE", all kinds of prophecy (foretelling the future, performing signs and passing on G-d's directions) existed among the rabbis themselves. Some of these incidents, which were recorded in the Talmud, took place after the time of Yeshua, well into the Common Era. The only difference is that those who did these things were never labelled as "prophets". One example is this Talmudic prophecy about Rome defeating Bar Kochba's army:
When R. Yosi b. Kisma was ill, R. Hanina b. Tradion came to visit him. R. Yosi said to him, "Brother Hanina, do you not know that Heaven has ordained that this nation [Rome] shall reign?" (Avodah Zarah 18a -- R. Hanina is later martyred and Bar Kochba is defeated by Rome)
We know that prophecy became such a challenge to the rabbinic majority that the famous case known as "the oven of Akhnai" pitted the prophetic signs of R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus against the rulings of his colleagues. The detailed account of how he was overruled only serves to draw attention to what the rabbis acknowledged as a very real display of power from G-d. Giving a sign was a requirement when a prophet declared something in G-d's Name (Deut.18:21-22).
Our point is that prophecy among the Jewish people did not cease to exist after Malachi. It only ceased to be acknowledged for what it was. Eventually it ceased to be honored or heeded. Finally, its existence was denied. But then, many prophets in our history were similarly silenced:
"Then I raised up some of your sons to be prophets, and some of your young men to be Nazirites. Is this not so, O sons of Israel?" declares the L-RD. "But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and you commanded the prophets saying, 'You shall not prophesy!'" - Amos 2:11-12
For this is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the L-RD; Who say to the seers, "You must not see visions"; and to the prophets, "You must not prophesy to us what is right." - Isaiah 30:9-10
At any rate, the objection here, that Yeshua came at the wrong time in Jewish history to be a prophet, is a non-starter that dodges the real question: Did He fulfill the requirements of a prophet sent from G-d, or not?
The result of rejecting a true prophet is punishment from G-d (Deut. 18:19; Jer.11:21-23). The report via Elijah (related in Talmud) that G-d laughed when He heard the rabbinic verdict should have brought fear and trembling -- when G-d is laughing, it is NOT a good sign (Ps.2:4, 37:13). The excommunication of R. Eliezer (and the Bat Kol) was followed by disaster and the death of Rabbi Gamliel, recorded at the end of the "oven of Akhnai" story which is rarely quoted. (Read the entire passage here, Baba Metzia 59b.) How much more disaster might result if one greater than R. Eliezer were to be rejected?
Interestingly, R. Eliezer was accused at one point of being one of the "Minim", a disciple of Yeshua the Nazarene, because he had taken honest pleasure in one of Yeshua's rulings (Avodah Zara 16b). Yet his reputation did not suffer from it; Rabbi Eliezer b. Hyrcanus is one of the most quoted sages in the Talmud.
4. "Jews do not believe in a divine Messiah. Our rabbis taught that he will be a human being who is simply very devoted to G-d and Torah. The "son of G-d" is not a Jewish concept at all, it's pagan."
This is a common misconception about what "our rabbis taught", and it's the result of generations of suppressed rabbinic literature. See our file, "A Review of Jewish Commentary on the Messiah". It details nearly 30 pages of Jewish sources that are virtually unknown and unexplored by the average Torah Jew.
It's hard to ignore that such Jewish commentary seems to describe Yeshua's life and death. But leaving that issue aside, it at least reveals that most Jewish community teachers are uninformed about the nature of the Messiah as it was once taught. Those sources have not been explained away, they have simply been ignored, their existence denied.
Given that fact, is the kind of "Messiah" expected by today's Jewish community really in line with Jewish tradition after all? What, then, becomes of the "unbroken chain" of rabbinic teaching that we claim to be obeying?
Messiah's designation as "Son of G-d" (with capitals) is essential to acknowledge in order to make sense of the prophecies, as our sages once understood. But in fairness to many Torah Jews, Christianity has distorted the relationship between Yeshua and the Father. The title was meant to express Yeshua's total union WITH G-d, rather than replacing Him AS G-d.
As to whether that Sonship makes it proper to call Yeshua "G-d", consider what we know of sons on earth. A son traditionally inherits the name of his father. Since the development of genetic research, we now know that he inherits the very essence of "maleness" from his father through the Y chromosome. A firstborn son also inherits the father's authority and wealth, and is eventually empowered to administer the estate in the name of his father. If he does a good job, he brings honor to his father, and in turn he is worthy of honor himself. That earthly reflection is a good one, and Christian attempts to "improve" on that have only resulted in muddying the reflection G-d Himself gave us.
As the perfect model of a Son, however, Yeshua is the "mirror image" of His Father more completely than any earthly son can resemble his father. He not only submits to His Father and glorifies Him as the one true G-d, He walks, talks and thinks like Him. He fully shares G-d's own nature, character, priorities and viewpoints.The Two never disagree with each other, never misunderstand each other, never part ways over any issue great or small. They are so closely united that from our feeble viewpoint they may as well be one and the same. Yet they are one and not the same.
Aren't we all "sons of G-d" by virtue of being made in His image? Yes, but as the "only begotten Son of G-d " Yeshua has a unique position. Rather than achieving a place of sonship through righteousness, or discovering it through enlightenment, or receiving it as a gift, Yeshua has had His Sonship as part of His self-awareness since the foundation of the world. But, being full of G-d's own love, the Son doesn't intend to keep the position for Himself alone. He carries out the Father's desire to make us more truly "sons of G-d" by making us dwelling places for the Spirit of G-d.
"Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell within you [áúåëê], declares the L-RD... and you will know that the L-RD of hosts has sent Me to you. " (Zech.2:14-15 -Heb.) "And in a place where it is said to them, You are not My people, it will be said to them, You are sons of the living God.” (Hos.2:1 -Heb.)
5. "Judaism cannot accept a faith that claims salvation can come through a man, or a faith that claims the Messiah already came."
Consider this promise printed on the last page of pamphlets distributed by the followers of Rabbi Nachman of Bretslav, such as "úôñé÷ ìøéá" (pub. 5754, Jerusalem) and "àì áëðñ ììçõ" (pub. 5752, Jerusalem):
Pillar of Zion, our Rav, man of G-d, the Light of the world, Rebbe Nachman of Bretslav, may his merit protect us, in the city of Uman... [He] has promised that whoever will come to his holy site [his grave] and will there say the Tikkun Ha-Clalit [a prayer "revealed" by R. Nachman], he will bring him out of the lower Sheol and he will do eternal good for him. (translated from Hebrew)
To our knowledge, there is no movement in orthodox circles to declare the Bretslav Hassidim heretics for promising eternal salvation through their rebbe. This tolerance endures in spite of the titles given to him, such as "ha-Ohr ha-Ganuz ve'ha-Tsafun" (the Hidden Light), a rabbinic teaching that refers to Moshiach in His waiting-to-come stage, but which in R. Nachman's case would be a waiting-to-return stage.
Even more blatant claims are made by the followers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Menachem Mendel Shneerson, who died in 1994). We have documented some of those above. One example is found in a Hebrew magazine distributed throughout Israel in 2003, "All You Wanted to Know about the Messiah and the Geulah", followed by their customary "Yechi" blessing, "long live our lord, our teacher, and our rebbe King Messiah forever and ever". The introduction included a declaration of R. Shneerson not only as Messiah, but referred to Moses as another Messiah who appeared then was hidden:
In these years the people of Israel is passing through the last painful process before the great Redemption. Part of the process is the fact that King Messiah proclaimed the good news of the Redemption, and since then he disappeared and is hiding himself; as in the words of Chazal that 'Messiah is revealed and covered,' similar to Moshe our Teacher who disappeared from the people of Israel after he proclaimed the good news of the redemption.
On the last page was an invitation to "write to the Rebbe" for blessings and advice. The readers were instructed on how to get answers from the deceased Rebbe by sticking notes in any one of his 26 volumes of "Egrot Ha-Kodesh". Miracles have been experienced by "thousands", as "the Rebbe King Messiah continues to guide our generation" from his place in Heaven.
It is reported that the Chabad movement has split over this issue, with some disowning the "Moshiach faction". But Chabad spokesmen encourage people to use the Rebbe as a means to receive all kinds of blessings, "material and spiritual". Even Chabadniks who view their rebbe as a mere human being are confident that we need a mediator between us and G-d in order to be redeemed: "The mortgage broker is an impartial intermediary between the lender and the borrower. Moshiach plays a not-so-different role... G-d...can't do it on His own. He's representing one of the parties."
As we noted earlier, among Torah-faithful opponents who believe R. Shneerson's disciples to be misguided, there is a prolonged debate about how to respond, with plenty of rabbis affirming that regardless of possible errors they are nevertheless still Jews. Certainly those who embrace Shneerson as a human messiah are credited with having a legitimate Torah-based faith. Therefore, it cannot be said that "Judaism cannot accept" a G-d-ordained agent of salvation, or a claim that Messiah has already come.
6. "Jesus died without bringing peace and justice to the world, which is a major requirement for the Jewish Messiah. Those who claim him as their messiah are outside the boundaries of Judaism."
The requirement mentioned in the first statement is covered under Objection 1. The overall argument is a curious one. Of all the messiahs embraced by the Jewish people in history (Bar Kochba, Shabbtai Zevi, Rebbe Nachman of Bretslav or the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Shneerson), not one of them brought peace and justice to the world. The community has acknowledged that these supporters were mistaken, but only in the sense of confusing a "potential" messiah with an "actual" messiah (a distinction attributed to Rambam, but without Tanach support). At any rate, these failed claimants and their supporters were never declared "outside the boundaries of Judaism" solely based on their failure to bring world peace.
Still, the Chabad movement is sensitive to this deficiency in their messiah. More than a decade after Rabbi Shneerson's death, the "meshichistit" faction of Chabad is still trying to convince others that their rebbe was (more accurately, IS) the Messiah. Among their proofs are the many people who were impressed and influenced by him, the world showing signs of Geulah through scientific advances, and numerous rabbinic groups proclaiming that Shneerson met the qualifications for Moshiach (see "The Rebbe as Moshiach - According to Chabad", originally posted at chabadworld.net but now available only at a blog site).
The apologetics included predictions made by their rebbe which proved he was a prophet. Regarding world peace, they point to the bilateral nuclear disarmament treaty signed between the USA and Russia on January 31, 1992, which Schneerson declared the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy about world peace (Isa.2:4). "The initiative, which has no precedent in history, displays the readiness of the world to permanently abandon war and establish a new world order founded on justice and peace: the world order of the Era of Messiah." But since there is a difference between forecasting world peace and bringing it about, his followers eventually credited the Rebbe himself with triggering the event by being revealed as "King Messiah":
The Biblical commentators state that the world's advance towards Messianic peace will derive of its acknowledgment of the King Messiah. It is thus significant that directly before Presidents Bush and Yeltsin signed the disarmament pact, a rabbinic ruling was signed by tens of rabbis from across the Orthodox spectrum determining that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, is the King Messiah awaited by the Jewish people for thousands of years. The determination was made based on the Rebbe shlita King Messiah's adherence to the criteria set forth by Maimonides which define the identity of the Messiah. In response to the signing of this ruling, the Rebbe shlita King Messiah stated that the decision of the superpowers to abolish nuclear armament production and establish a new world order based on justice was a direct result of the rabbinic ruling. (Messiah Times, "Hei Teves: 'Victory is Ours'", 2006)
As we all know, Shneerson's prophecy was mistaken: in the 20 years since that treaty, the superpowers not only failed to "establish a new world order founded on justice and peace ", but the rest of the world is farther from "beating their swords into plowshares" than ever before. Along with that, the "world order" that WAS established seems more determined than ever to dismantle the Jewish State and turn a blind eye to antisemitism. The most amazing thing, however, is that the above-mentioned praise was showered on the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 2006, after all of this was clear! Yet although there is some embarrassment among orthodox Jews about this faction of Chabad, they remain part of the Jewish community.
With all that said , no one is facing the core issue: If peace is ever going to come to the world, it will take a whole lot more than a treaty or scientific advances.
Anyone familiar with human nature will acknowledge that peace and justice are impossible without a transformation of individual hearts, which are prone to self-seeking and manipulation. Otherwise, any framework trying to bring peace - even if it were perfectly designed and executed - would be doomed from the start. There would be no lack of challenge and sabotage from everyone with the intelligence and the will to hijack a peace-loving system for personal gain.
So the kind of peace and justice that G-d's Messiah brings would have to include a deep personality change that only G-d can accomplish, where selfishness is replaced by love for G-d and neighbor - and even for enemies. This heart change is in fact what characterizes the "new covenant" which Jeremiah prophesied would be someday enacted with Israel (Jer.31:31-33). The outcome (v.34) will be knowing G-d without being taught how, and having all sins forgiven without effort - making peace an everyday experience. The sages taught that the "secret" of this prophecy is so deep it would be unlocked only when Messiah was at the door. Ezekiel characterized it (Ezek.36:26-28) as a completely "new heart and a new spirit", which would show itself in holy living and faithfulness to Torah, as well as in a peaceful, prosperous Israel.
The fact that Yeshua's first disciples claimed to be recipients of this "new heart", and were a Torah-faithful community, has to be a disturbing coincidence for those who discount Yeshua as Messiah. Then there are the millions of non-Jewish disciples from all over the world who claim that faith in Him has changed their hearts, cleansed their consciences, given them the ability to interact with G-d in a direct, intimate way, and caused them to love their enemies.
If peace in the world is to be accomplished one heart at a time, and it must be equally effective for Israel and the nations, then surely Yeshua's peace initiative has been more successful than that of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, or any other known candidate for Messiah.
7. "Yeshua was a faithful Jew in his day, and even a good Torah teacher. He just wasn't the Messiah."
There is a popular Jewish position these days which takes a diplomatic "middle ground" toward Yeshua, acknowledging Him as "a righteous man", or "a legitimate teacher of Torah", and even "a remarkable rabbi". Those other embarrassing titles he took for himself were an unfortunate delusion; he got carried away and thought he was Messiah.
This presents a huge dilemma. If He was deluded, then He was not a reliable teacher of anything, let alone Torah. If He was NOT deluded, that's even worse: He was lying about who He was and how He related to G-d. His Torah teachings should be shunned as dangerous, and His miracles could not have been with G-d's power - they had to be witchcraft. In this respect, the Jews of earlier ages were honest, because they took His teaching about Torah and Himself as a package deal and either went for 'all' or 'nothing'. The authors of the medieval tract Toldot Yeshu, who branded Yeshua as an apostate magician, at least acknowledged that miracles were performed by Him.
There is a variation on that middle position, which tries to circumvent the above dilemma by affirming Yeshua as a respectable rabbi, and "exonerating" Him of the other embarrassing titles. In this view, such things as "Son of the Most High", the "Messiah, Son of David", and "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58), were never claimed by Him, but were attributed to Him by the deluded disciples who wrote the New Testament.
This only creates several new dilemmas. First, if that had been true, there is no reason why the Jewish leaders of Yeshua's day should not have accepted Him! Yet we know that their hostility toward Him was so strong they considered His death at the hands of the Romans a well-deserved punishment. Second, if Yeshua's disciples had declared Yeshua's teachings to their contemporaries when such things were known to be falsely attributed to Him, there was no reason for thousands upon thousands of Jews to accept their message of salvation through His atonement and (especially) His resurrection from the dead.
How do we know that the New Testament account is accurate concerning the widespread Jewish acceptance of Yeshua as Messiah? Because the rabbinic community was forced to modify an existing "blessing" in the 18 blessings of the Amidah prayer, (no. 12, "Birkat Ha-Minim", originally a curse against Sadducees and heretics), in order to expose Yeshua's disciples who were praying in the synagogues.
Today's Birkat Ha-Minim reads, "And to slanderers [malshinim] let there be no hope, and may all heretics [minim] perish in a moment....", but medieval siddurs from the Land of Israel found in the Cairo Geniza contained a different version:
For the apostates [ha-meshumadim] let there be no hope. And let the arrogant government be speedily uprooted in our days. Let the Nazarenes [ha-notzrim] and the heretics [ha-minim] be destroyed in a moment. And let them be blotted out of the Book of Life and not be inscribed together with the righteous. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who humblest the arrogant. (from a siddur dated 9th-12th c. CE - see the Jewish Virtual Library)
The same prayer was in the Babylonian siddur, with only a slight variation. It was only when the Catholic Church accused the Jews of "cursing the Christians" with this prayer that the wording of Birkat Ha-Minim was changed throughout the Jewish community.
The fact that "Notzrim" were a separate category from "minim" implies three things historically. First: It confirms that the first two centuries CE, the followers of the Nazarene ("Ha-Notzri") could not be distinguished from other Torah-observant Jews, except that they refused to pray this newly revised curse (the Nazarenes could pray for the end of "heretics" with as clear a conscience as other Torah-faithful Jews). Second: If a Torah-faithful group was singled out for a curse, even above other groups that rabbinic decrees declared were appropriate to hate, it hints that this hatred had nothing to do with protecting Torah. Third: The international use of this device to flush out the Nazarenes indicates that enough of them were part of the worldwide Torah community to constitute a threat.
That circumstance would have been impossible if the disciples of Yeshua had been poor, deluded dreamers. The name "Yeshua of Nazareth" would have faded into obscurity along with the other messiah wannabe's through the ages (for a quick survey of "messiah" candidates no one remembers, see Wikipedia.)
Jews by the thousands listened to Yeshua because He met the Torah requirements for a true prophet: He urged the people to keep Torah faithfully, He called on them to follow G-d alone, and He gave signs that came to pass (Deut.18:15-22). It was His claim about Himself that His listeners found to be radical and even offensive (though not against Jewish teaching).
This is the core of the Jewish dilemma. Either you have to accept that what He said and did was sanctioned and even commanded by Heaven, or you have to consider Him a deceiver who deserved the death he suffered:
But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the L-RD your God... - Deut.13:5
If you see it as mistaken or unfair to say that Yeshua "counseled rebellion against G-d", then your only other option is to follow Deut. 18, the command concerning a true prophet of G-d - "You shall listen to him" (v.15). This brings you back full-circle to the dilemma of having to listen to what Yeshua said about Himself.
8. "Jesus made himself the messiah of a new religion. The Jews who believe in that man abandon the Torah and turn their backs on their people."
A Jew who is taught to abandon the G-d of Israel and the Torah is being subjected to something Yeshua never taught. Go here for a more detailed answer.
This idea, sometimes known as "two-covenant theology", has been credited to a 20th-century German-Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig, who grew up in an assimilated household and based his concept on subjective experience rather than rabbinic authority. Some modern orthodox rabbis, however, have adopted this view, basing their support on a Yemenite version of Rambam's Mishneh Torah, in a passage which is censored from many editions:
But it is beyond the human mind to fathom the designs of the Creator; for our ways are not His ways, neither are our thoughts His thoughts. All these matters relating to Jesus of Nazareth and the Ishmaelite [Muhammad] who came after him, only served to clear the way for King Messiah, to prepare the whole world to worship God with one accord, as it is written: For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent [Zephaniah 3:9]. Thus the messianic hope, the Torah, and the commandments have become familiar topics-topics of conversation of the far isles and many peoples, uncircumcised of heart and flesh. They are discussing these matters and the commandments of the Torah. - Laws of Kings 11:4 (widely deleted since 1574)
There are major weaknesses in this line of thinking - and especially in trying to support it with this passage, which is taken out of context. The above quote goes on:
They are discussing these matters and the commandments of the Torah. Some say: "Those commandments were true, but have lost their validity and are no longer binding." Others declare that they had an esoteric meaning and were not intended to be taken literally, that the Messiah has already come and revealed their occult significance.
But when the true King Messiah will appear and succeed, be exalted and lifted up, they [the followers of the Nazarene and the Ishmaelite] will forthwith recant and realize that they have inherited naught but lies from their fathers, that their prophets and forbears led them astray.
Moreover, Rambam himself made clear his opinion that those who accepted Jesus as any kind of Messiah - even as a stepping-stone to recognizing the one true G-d - are mistaken from the outset. Earlier in that same passage, he described Jesus as a messianic pretender, a destroyer of Torah, and someone who led the world AWAY from the true G-d. For Tanach support, he cited a verse in Daniel that earlier sages (for example, the 3rd-century Rabbi Huna, quoted in Beit Ha-Midrash 3:141) had applied to the righteous Messiah son of Yosef.
Even of Jesus of Nazareth, who imagined that he was the Messiah, but was put to death by the court, Daniel had prophesied, as it is written: And the children of the violent among thy people shall lift themselves up to establish the vision; but they shall stumble [Daniel 11:14]. For has there ever been a greater stumbling than this? All the prophets affirmed that the Messiah would redeem Israel, save them, gather their dispersed, and confirm the commandments. But he caused Israel to be destroyed by the sword, their remnants to be dispersed and humiliated. He was instrumental in changing the Torah and causing the world to err and serve another beside G-d.
Rambam firmly believed in only one way to G-d: Torah as administered by a rabbinic doctrinal system that conformed to his own rationalist worldview. Even though Gentiles were not required to become Jews, they were required to submit to the rabbinic formulation of the 7 laws for the Sons of Noah in order to have a portion in the World to Come. This body of commands (under the prohibition against idolatry) includes abandoning faith in Jesus as Son of G-d sent from Heaven. As we can see, Rambam stated his conviction just as clearly as evangelical Christians state their own conviction in the opposite direction.
Therefore, Rambam's leniency toward the Christians was based on the hope that their contact with the Torah would in time cause them to "see the light", abandon Jesus and relearn Torah as Bnai Noah under rabbinic authority. This is nothing less than a mirror-image of the same hope on the Christian / Messianic side of the Yeshua debate: that Torah discussions with Jews would eventually cause them to embrace Jesus as their Messiah... universally condemned by the Jewish community as "deceptive missionary tactics disguised as dialog".
Given the fact that all the orthodox Jewish proponents of Jewish-Christian dialog appear to depend on this one passage from Rambam, it is a disservice to both the Torah and Christian communities to quote the more ecumenical-sounding parts of his statement out of context.
Most important for the objection we are examining, Messianic passages in Tanach speak of only one Messiah for both Israel and the nations. One example:
And now says the L-RD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him, (For I am honored in the sight of the L-RD, and My God is My strength), He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth." - Isaiah 49:5-6
Moreover, prominent sages like R. Yosef Albo expressly identified Messiah as a necessary mediator between G-d and Israel. See Section 10 in "Jewish Commentary on the Messiah".
10. "I need to see proof. I've been shown interesting parallels in the Passover, possible variant understandings of Isaiah 53, etc, but nothing to demonstrate to me straight from Tanach that Yeshua is the Messiah."
We routinely list Tanach passages to support our statements about Yeshua. The problem is that Torah Jews are taught to read Tanach passages only through the filters authorized by the modern rabbinic community (which are considerably different from earlier generations). This restriction resembles a clever commentary on human nature in a "Winnie the Pooh" story:
...Owl licked the end of his pencil, and wondered how to spell "birthday."
"Can you read, Pooh?" he asked a little anxiously. "There's a notice about knocking and ringing outside my door, which Christopher Robin wrote. Could you read it?"
"Christopher Robin told me what it said, and then I could."
"Well, I'll tell you what this says, and then you'll be able to."
The rabbinic establishment has taught the Torah community to "read" Tanach in much the same way. With regard to the Messianic passages, the continual cautions from rabbis about Jews studying these without pre-approved commentaries carries the same hint of anxiety as Owl. Those with fluency in Biblical Hebrew might take it into their heads to lay the filters aside and simply read it for themselves... only to discover that "what we tell you this says" is not what it says.
It is strange that countless Jews, who don't hesitate to tackle many other complex issues, believe themselves incapable of understanding for themselves the things revealed to all Israel, which "belong to us and to our children forever" (Deut.29:29, 28 in Heb.) Yet this spiritual illiteracy is a fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah:
For the L-RD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep and He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and your heads, the seers, He has covered. And the vision of everything will be to you like the words of the sealed book, which they will give to one who knows the book, saying, "Please read this," and he will say, "I cannot, for it is sealed." - Isaiah 29:10-11, from the Heb.
Isaiah says this situation will come about because "This people approaches [Me] with its mouth, and with its lips honors Me, but its heart is far from Me" (v.13). But the day will come when the impossible will happen: "...the deaf will hear words of a book, and from deep gloom and darkness eyes of blind ones will see" (v.18).
The entire TAAM site is dedicated to those who love G-d's Truth enough to test our words by reading "straight from the Tanach" for themselves - even though they expect to see nothing.
For those who feel it's wrong in G-d's eyes to read Tanach without rabbinic support, we offer a starting point for critically examining the teaching of your sages by comparing it with the teachings of earlier sages, so that you will become aware of the range of accepted Tanach interpretation that is being withheld from you -- not by G-d's decision, but by men whose anxiety is betrayed by their reluctance to deal with the full body of Jewish commentary on Messianic passages.
11. "The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David (see Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24).
According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father -- and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father's side from King David."
None of the passages referred to here say anything about a requirement for lineage to be traced on the father's side. Gen.49:10 says the King must come from the tribe of Judah. Isa.11:1 specifies the line of Jesse (David's father). Jer.23:5 and 33:17 say He will descend from David. And Ezek.34:23-24 says He will BE David, in two different roles.
While most of Israel inherited title and property through the father, without regard for who the mother was, there are notable exceptions, beginning with Isaac. Abraham had many sons, but it was only Sarah's son who received the inheritance:
[Sarah said:] The son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac. The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son. But G-d said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her...." - Gen.21:10-12
Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; but to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts... - Gen.25:5-6
We also have daughters who received tribal inheritance. The daughters of Zelophehad appealed to Moses to inherit their father's estate, because there were no sons in the family. They were concerned about property, but even more about carrying on their father's name (v.4). Not only did G-d back their right to the inheritance, He also made it a statute:
Further, you shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. - Num.27:8
12. "The case of the daughters of Zelopahad proves that tribal inheritance is from the father, since they could only inherit their father's land if they married men from their own tribe."
Actually, that restriction proves just the opposite, as Torah itself confirms:
But if they marry one of the sons of the other tribes of the sons of Israel, their inheritance will be withdrawn from the inheritance of our fathers.... - Num.36:3
The point of the Torah command for them to marry within their tribe was to keep the inheritance from leaving Menashe. If the men whom they married controlled their ability to inherit their father's land, they would not have been free to marry whomever they wished in the tribe (v.6). The minute they were married, their inheritance would have lost its connection to their father Zelopahad.
This introduces the idea that Yeshua's mother may have received a tribal inheritance under the same Torah restriction, and was obligated to marry within Judah. It would explain why both Miriam's and Joseph's lineage were documented as being in the line of David. (For objections to apparent discrepencies in those family lines, go here.) With both parents tracing their ancestry to David, Yeshua's entitlement to the throne of David could not be contested. And indeed, applying the title "son of David" to Yeshua was not challenged; it was the title "Son of G-d" that became the problem.
13. "The lineage in Matthew is supposed to be that of Jesus' adoptive father Joseph. But there is no Biblical basis for the idea of a father passing on his tribal line by adoption. Jesus could not be of the Tribe of Judah if he was not a biological son of Joseph."
Indeed there is a Biblical basis; otherwise two entire tribes of Israel are illegitimate and had no right to be called "sons of Jacob". Ephraim and Menashe were grandsons of Jacob, not his sons. But Jacob formally adopted them with these words:
Now your two sons, who were born to you [Joseph] in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. But your offspring that have been born after them shall be yours.... - Gen.48:5-6
14. "According to the Bible, Messiah must be a descendent of David through his son Solomon (II Samuel 7:13-14; I Chronicles 17:11-14, 22:9-10, 28:4-6). The third chapter of Luke is irrelevant to this discussion because it describes lineage of David's son Nathan, not Solomon (Luke 3:31)."
First, let's establish that no passage in Tanach says Messiah must come from Solomon's line in order to sit on David's throne. The promise concerning David's throne and kingdom (2 Sam.7:16, 1 Chron.28:4) is separate from the promise that David's son would have "his" own "kingdom" (2 Sam.7:13, 1 Chron.17:11, 22:10, 28:7).
With that said, there is a bigger problem with Solomon's claim to David's throne than with Yeshua's.
Two passages (2 Sam.7, 1 Chron.17) foresee a son of David who would build "a house for My name". These can refer to Solomon who built the second Temple, and also to the Messiah son of David who would build a house in the last days. This is a likely source for Rambam's expectation that Messiah would build the third Temple.
Two passages (1 Chron.22, 1 Chron.28) explicitly identify Solomon as this son of promise. Yet we saw earlier that G-d plans on having "a sanctuary" within us as well as on a mountain in Jerusalem, and only Messiah can be expected to build that kind of "house for My name".
However, all four verses explicitly say that the son would not just inherit David's throne but would have a "kingdom forever". This presents a three-fold dilemma in Solomon's case.
One, Solomon's ability to inherit this promise depended on his continued obedience (2 Sam.7:14, 1 Chron.22:13, 1 Chron.28:7), and he was warned that he would be "cast off forever" if he left G-d (1 Chron.28:9); we know that Solomon did indeed turn away (1 Kings 11). So we cannot be sure that the kingdom of Solomon (unlike that of David) was meant to endure until the days of Messiah.
Two, Solomon's royal line was cut off from the throne when Jeremiah (22:28-30) was commanded by G-d to curse his descendant King Jeconiah (a severe curse, to the point of removing G-d's name from him and calling him "Coniah"). Jewish commentators over many generations (Talmud, Sanhedrin 37b-38a, Pesikta Rabbati, Piska 47, Numbers Rabbah XX:20, Pesikta deRab Kahana, Tanhuma Genesis, Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg, Jewish Encyclopedia) have come up with several ways to resolve this dilemma and lift the curse from Solomon's line. Most rely on G-d's promises to Zerubbabel, Jeconiah's grandson (Haggai 2:23). This establishes that the curse of Jeconiah being "childless" was reversed, but not that the throne of Israel was restored to his line (historically it was not).
Three, Solomon's descendents are not even verifiable today. This barrier alone makes it impossible to confirm someone's right to be called Messiah as the above objection demands (with the assumption that Messiah is yet to come).
While we are looking at dilemmas, how can we say that G-d kept His above-mentioned promise to David? "And your house is made faithful, and your kingdom is forever before you; your throne will be established forever." (2 Sam.7:16) "And the L-RD the God of Israel chose me from all my father's house, to be king over Israel forever." (1 Chron.28:4) How could David write with such confidence (Ps.16:10-11) about not dying? "You will not abandon my soul to Sheol... You will announce to me long [extended] life. " We know that although G-d had promised he would reign "forever", David died like all ordinary men.
The answer to such riddles is the same as the answer to why the Messiah could be called both "son of David" and "David", and yet be greater than David.
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