[b-hebrew] OT: a link about Modern Hebrew

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Wed Jun 9 17:19:45 EDT 2004

Dear Vadim,

>Now we fully switched to the issues of faith, and the discussion becomes
>meaningless. One can believe in Las Vegas jackpot as well.
>I take Nakh for saga. You take it for prophecy. Jewish folks probably
>believed in messianic fables. The knowledgeable priests certainly did not.
>We can see prophecies in War and Peace.
>Let's better talk of grammar, if we can dissect it from the doctrine.

HH: Faith, however, is central to the Bible. And this is B-Hebrew, a 
biblical Hebrew site. Not all Jews adhere to the Bible, and of those 
who honor the Bible, not all believe in the Messiah. However, it is a 
belief derived from the Bible and one of the points of doctrine of 
Orthodox Judaism. How do you know that knowledgeable priests did not 
believe in a Messiah?  Maimonides lists belief in the Messiah as one 
of the thirteen principles of faith, and he is considered a fount of 
Orthodox thinking:
Maimonides Page

Some years ago, Immanuel O'Levy posted his own translation of the 
first book of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, the Code of Jewish Law: the 
Book of Knowledge. It is a fundamental work of Jewish philosophy by 
one of the greatest thinkers in Jewish history.

HH: Here are a few more comments from another web site:

Jewish Messiah
In Hebrew the messiah is often referred to as Melekh HaMoshiach, 
literally "Anointed King."

Christianity as we have come to know it emerged from Judaism in the 
first century of the Common Era. The first Christians were Jews, and 
likely subscribed to Jewish beliefs and practices common at the time. 
Among these was a belief that a messiah-a descendant of King 
David-would restore the monarchy and Jewish independence.

Jewish theology

The view of Maimonides

The predominant Jewish understanding of moschiach ("the messiah") is 
based on the writings of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, better known as 
Maimonides, or the Rambam. His views on the messiah are discussed in 
his Mishneh Torah, his 14 volume compendium of Jewish law, in the 
section Hilkhot Melakhim Umilchamoteihem, chapter 11. Maimonides 

The anointed King ("HaMelekh HaMoshiach") is destined to stand up and 
restore the Davidic Kingdom to its antiquity, to the first 
sovereignty. He will build the Temple in Jerusalem and gather the 
strayed ones of Israel together. All laws will return in his days as 
they were before: Sacrificial offerings are offered and the 
Sabbatical years and Jubilees are kept, according to all its precepts 
that are mentioned in the Torah. Whoever does not believe in him, or 
whoever does not wait for his coming, not only does he defy the other 
prophets, but also the Torah and our Rabbi Moses. For the Torah 
testifies about him, thus: "And the Lord Your God will return your 
returned ones and will show you mercy and will return and gather 
you... If your strayed one shall be at the edge of Heaven... And He 
shall bring you" etc. (Deuteronomy 30:3-5).

These words that are explicitly stated in the Torah, encompass and 
include all the words spoken by all the prophets. In the section of 
Torah referring to Bala'am, too, it is stated, and there he 
prophesied about the two anointed ones: The first anointed one is 
David, who saved Israel from all their oppressors; and the last 
anointed one will stand up from among his descendants and saves 
Israel in the end. This is what he says (Numbers 24:17-18): "I see 
him but not now" - this is David; "I behold him but not near" - this 
is the Anointed King. "A star has shot forth from Jacob" - this is 
David; "And a brand will rise up from Israel" - this is the Anointed 
King. "And he will smash the edges of Moab" - This is David, as it 
states: "...And he struck Moab and measured them by rope" (II Samuel 
8:2); "And he will uproot all Children of Seth" - this is the 
Anointed King, of whom it is stated: "And his reign shall be from sea 
to sea" (Zechariah 9:10). "And Edom shall be possessed" - this is 
David, thus: "And Edom became David's as slaves etc." (II Samuel 
8:6); "And Se'ir shall be possessed by its enemy" - this is the 
Anointed King, thus: "And saviors shall go up Mount Zion to judge 
Mount Esau, and the Kingdom shall be the Lord's" (Obadiah 1:21).

And by the Towns of Refuge it states: "And if the Lord your God will 
widen up your territory... you shall add on for you another three 
towns" etc. (Deuteronomy 19:8-9). Now this thing never happened; and 
the Holy One does not command in vain. But as for the words of the 
prophets, this matter needs no proof, as all their books are full 
with this issue.

Do not imagine that the anointed King must perform miracles and signs 
and create new things in the world or resurrect the dead and so on. 
The matter is not so: For Rabbi Akiba was a great scholar of the 
sages of the Mishnah, and he was the assistant-warrior of the king 
Ben Coziba, and claimed that he was the anointed king. He and all the 
Sages of his generation deemed him the anointed king, until he was 
killed by sins; only since he was killed, they knew that he was not. 
The Sages asked him neither a miracle nor a sign...

And if a king shall stand up from among the House of David, studying 
Torah and indulging in commandments like his father David, according 
to the written and oral Torah, and he will coerce all Israel to 
follow it and to strengthen its weak points, and will fight Hashem's 
wars, this one is to be treated as if he were the anointed one. If he 
succeeded {and won all nations surrounding him. Old prints and mss.} 
and built a Holy Temple in its proper place and gathered the strayed 
ones of Israel together, this is indeed the anointed one for certain, 
and he will mend the entire world to worship the Lord together, as it 
is stated: "For then I shall turn for the nations a clear tongue, to 
call all in the Name of the Lord and to worship Him with one 
shoulder" (Zephaniah 3:9).
[Added from mss.:]

But if he did not succeed until now, or if he was killed, it becomes 
known that he is not this one of whom the Torah had promised us, and 
he is indeed like all proper and wholesome kings of the House of 
David who died. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, only set him up to try 
the public by him, thus: "And from the seekers of wisdom there shall 
stumble, to purify among them and to clarify and to brighten until 
the time of the ending, for there is yet to the set time" (Daniel 

The messiah in Orthodox Judaism

Most Orthodox Jews hold that Jews are obligated to accept 
Maimonides's 13 Principles of Faith; most have an unwavering belief 
in the coming of the messiah. Hasidic Jews also claim to adhere to 
Maimonides's writings, but an analysis of Hasidic writings show that 
although they agree with Maimonides that there will be a human 
messiah, Hasidic views of the messiah often posit that he will 
perform supernatural miracles.

The messiah in Conservative Judaism

Emet Ve-Emunah, the Conservative movement's statement of principles, states:

Since no one can say for certain what will happen in the Messianic 
era each of us is free to fashion personal speculation. Some of us 
accept these speculations are literally true, while others understand 
them as elaborate metaphors....For the world community we dream of an 
age when warfare will be abolished, when justice and compassion will 
be axioms of all, as it is said in Isaiah 11: "...the land shall be 
filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the 
sea."For our people, we dream of the ingathering of all Jews to Zion 
where we can again be masters of our own destiny and express our 
distinctive genius in every area of our national life. We affirm 
Isaiah's prophecy (2:3) that "...Torah shall come forth from Zion, 
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem".

We do not know when the Messiah will come, nor whether he will be a 
charismatic human figure or is a symbol of the redemption of 
humankind from the evils of the world. Through the doctrine of a 
Messianic figure, Judaism teaches us that every individual human 
being must live as if he or she, individually, has the responsibility 
to bring about the messianic age. Beyond that, we echo the words of 
Maimonides based on the prophet Habakkuk (2:3) that though he may 
tarry, yet do we wait for him each day.

The messiah in Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism

Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism generally do not accept 
the idea that there will be a messiah. Some believe that there may be 
a messianic age, which all Jews are obligated to work towards.

HH: The main point is that if the Tanakh describes a Messiah, then 
there is one in the Hebrew Bible, whether or not any particular 
person believes that there is a Messiah. I was giving you evidence 
that there is such a figure in the Book of Isaiah. I gave evidence to 
back up my conclusion from the beliefs of Israelites in the first 
century. I claimed that many other books in the Tanakh mention the 
same figure.

				Harold Holmyard

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