The Historical Jewish Exegesis of the
Old Testament Messianic Prophecies


Index

Index of the the Messianic Interpretation of Old Testament Passages referenced as Messianic from Rabbinic, Talmudic, Midrashic, Targumic and Other Jewish Sources: Genesis 1:2, Genesis 3:15, Genesis 49:10-12, Leviticus 26:13, Numbers 24:17-24, Deuteronomy 33:17, 2 Samuel 7:16, Psalm 2, Psalm 18:51, Psalm 21, Psalm 22, Psalm 36, Psalm 45, Psalm 72, Psalm 89, Psalm 110:1-2, Psalm 132:17, Micah 4, Micah 5:2, Micah 7:16, Jeremiah 16:3, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Jeremiah 30:9, Jeremiah 33:15, Ezekiel 17, Zechariah 4:7, Zechariah 6:12, Zechariah 8:12, Zechariah 9:9, Zechariah 12:10, Daniel 2, Daniel 7:13-14, Isaiah 3:3, Isaiah 9:5-6, Isaiah 11, Isaiah 18:7, Isaiah 25:8, Isaiah 28, Isaiah 30:26, Isaiah 41:27, Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 43, Isaiah 49:23, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Isaiah 59:17, Isaiah 60:3, Isaiah 61:10, Isaiah 63:1, Isaiah 65:22, Isaiah 66:20

The Rabbinic interpretation of Isaiah 53 as referring to the Messiah:

YEPHETH BEN ‘ALI
MYSTERIES OF R. SHIMON BEN YOHAI
B’RESHITH RABBAH OF R. MOSHEH HAD DARSHAN
LEQAH TOBH
RABBI MOSHEH BEN NAHMAN
RABBI MOSHEH KOHEN IBN CRISPIN
RABBI SH’LOMOH ASTRUC
RABBI SH’MUEL LANYADO
RABBI MOSHEH EL SHEIKH
RABBI SH’LOMOH DE MARINI
RABBI NAPHTHALI BEN ASHER ALTSCHULER
RABBI MOSHEH BEN MAIMON
HERZ HOMBERG
DON YIZHAQ, ABARBANEL
RABBI ELIYYAH DE VIDAS

Click here for a documentation of over 400 passages from the Old Testament that have been interpreted by the Jews as being Messianic.


Introduction

Before documenting the specific interpretations of the messianic prophecies by the Jewish authorities it is necessary to say a word about the nature and history of these sources.

Authoritative Jewish Writings

Within Judaism there are two distinct categories of authoritative writings. There is first of all the Old Testament, known as the Tanakh, which is the written Scriptures. These have authority as being uniquely inspired by God. The second category of writings is what is called the Oral Law and its interpretation and application. This is comprised of a broad and diverse group of writings with varying degrees of authority. This category consists of the Mishnah, the Tosefta, the Talmud, the Targums, the Midrash and individual Rabbinical writings.

The Mishnah

The term Mishna comes from the Hebrew word which means ‘repetition.’ In the life of Judaism, for centuries, the means of passing down and teaching the law was through oral proclamation. The teacher would give repeated lessons in the law and the student would be required to give frequent repetition of what was taught and through this means he would ‘learn’ the laws that governed the life of Israel. The content of the Mishnah was supplemental to the written Scriptures of the Old Testament. It contains detailed instructions for following the rules and regulations given in the Torah. Thus, the Mishnah, while not viewed as the source of the law, was an authoritative interpretation of it. It is primarily the totality of the Jewish religious law that was developed and handed down prior to 200 A.D. when it was finally committed to writing. But prior to this time it was strictly oral in nature and highly authoritative. The Jews believed that when Moses received the written law from God on Mount Sinai that he also received the oral law. Herbert Danby gives the following background on the history and authority of the Mishnah:

The Mishnah’s own account of the origin and history of the Oral Law is given in the tractate Aboth, i1Q. At the same time that the Written Law was given from Sinai, the Oral Law, too, was delivered to Moses, and handed down (orally) in turn to the leaders of successive generationsto Joshua, to the Elders (Josh. ze1), to the Prophets, to the ‘Men of the Great Synagogue’ (the body of teachers who administered and taught the Law after the time of Ezra), to Simeon the Just (c. a8o or aoo B.C., one of ‘the remnants of the men of the Great Synagogue’), to Antigonus of Soko; then, in turn, to the five ‘Pairs’ of leaders Jose ben Joezer and Jose ben Johanan (c. 165 B.C.), Joshua ben Perahyah and Nittai the Arbelite, Judah ben Tabbai and Simeon ben Shetach, Shemaiah and Abtalion, and Hillel and Shammai. Thus the chain of tradition was brought to the threshold of the Christian era.
     The Mishnah, in other words, maintains that the authority of those rules, customs, and interpretations which had accumulated around the Jewish system of life and religion was equal to the authority of the Written Law itself, even though they found no place in the Written Law. This, again, is but an assertion (known also in other religious and legal systems) that side by side with a written code there exists a living tradition with power to interpret the written code, to add to it, and even at times to modify it or ignore it as might be needful in changed circumstances, and to do this authoritatively. 2 Inevitably the inference follows that the living tradition (the Oral Law) is more important than the Written Law, 3 since the ‘tradition of the elders’, besides claiming an authority and continuity equal to that of the Written Law, claims also to be its authentic and living interpretation and its essential complement (Herbert Danby, The Mishnah (London: Oxford University, 1933), p. xvii).

In the second century A.D. the Jewish nation experienced the death of over a million Jews in two uprisings against the Romans, one called the Great Revolt and the other the Bar-Kokhba rebellion. There were many rabbinical scholars along with their students who perished at the hands of the Romans. This seems to have been one of the decisive and overriding factors in the decision to reverse the centuries old tradition and method of passing down the law orally and to finally commit it to writing. There was concern that the law could pass out of existence altogether if enough of the religious leadership of Israel was annihilated. Thus, Rabbi Yehudah haNasi, also known as Judah the Prince or simply as Rabbi, took responsibility for redacting the Mishnah in which he systematically codified the oral law in 63 tractates under six major categories called orders. This work eventually achieved canonical authority among the Jewish people.

The Talmud

The Talmud is a rabbinic interpretation of the Mishna. Rabbi Judah’s redaction of the Mishna was studied religiously by ensuing generations of rabbis. Over time some of the more learned began to record their discussions and commentaries on the Mishna’s laws. These interpretations and comments are called gemara and they were recorded in a series of books which became known as the Talmud. The word literally means study. The Talmud therefore consists of the Mishna itself, along with the comments (gemara) of the rabbis. It is the civil and canonical law of the Jewish people and is sometimes referred to as the Oral Torah. These traditional ordinances or legal laws are referred to as Halakah. Historically there were two separate Talmuds which developed, one in Palestine, called the Palestinian or Jerusalem Talmud (composed during the third and fourth centuries) and the other in Babylonia, called the Babylonian Talmud or Talmud Bavli (composed in the fifth and sixth centuries). The Babylonian edition of the Talmud is much more extensive than that of the Jerusalem Talmud and is therefore the most authoritative compilation of the oral law.

The Tosefta

Shortly after the Mishna was redacted by Rabbi Jehuda a work called the Tosefta was completed which was a supplement to the Mishna. It quotes extensively from the Mishna but provides additional material in terms of additional glosses and discussions. Today, this work is considered to be an extension of the Mishna and has much less authority than the Mishna itself.

The Midrash

The midrash are rabbinic exegetical commentaries and homilies on specific books of Scripture. The primary midrashic works are:

Genesis Rabbah (Bereshit Rabbah): A commentary on the book of Genesis

Exodus Rabbah (Shmot Rabbah): A commentary on the book of Exodus

Sifra: A commentary on the book of Leviticus

Leviticus Rabbah (Vayikra Rabbah): Homilies on the book of Leviticus

Sifre Numbers: A commentary on the book of Numbers

Numbers Rabbah (Bamidbar Rabbah): Commentary on the book of Numbers

Sifre Deuteronomy: A commentary on the book of Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy Rabbah (Devarim Rabbah): Homilies on the book of Deuteronomy

Midrash Tanhuma: Homiletic commentary on the entirety of the Torah

Lamentations Rabbah (Eichah Rabbah): A commentary on the book of Lamentations

Song of Songs Rabbah (Midrash Shir haShirim): An allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs

Midrash Ruth: A commentary on the book of Ruth

Ecclesiastes Rabbah (Midrash Kohelet): A commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes

Midrash Esther (Haggadat Megillah): A commentary on the book of Esther

Pesiqta de Rav Kahana: Homilies for festivals and Sabbaths

Pesiqta Rabbata: Sermons for festivals and Sabbaths

Yalqut Shimeoni

The Targums

The Targums are ancient aramaic paraphrases or translations of the Old Testament. They existed during the time of Jesus because there are Targums of Job and Leviticus in the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are Targums on all the canonical books of the Old Testament with the exception of Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah. The most renowned Targums are:

Targum Onkelos: The official Targum to the Pentateuch
Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (Targum Yerulshami I): A Targum to the Pentateuch
The Fragmentary Targum (Targum Yerulshami II): Fragmentary Targum on the Pentateuch
Targum Jonathan: The official Targum to the Prophets
Targum: A designation for various Targum to the Hagiographa

Zohar

This is a book of Jewish mysticism, primarily a mystical interpretation of the Pentateuch. It claims to be a record of discourses between Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai and his contemporaries of the second century. It is believed by many Jews to be inspired and therefore holds a place of high esteem and authority among the Jews.

Rabbinic Writings

These consist of the writings and commentaries of renowned rabbis. Some of the more important are:

Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Ben Isaac, 1040-1105 C.E.). He was a French rabbi and is revered as the most authoritative commentator for the Bible and the Talmud. Even today every edition of the Talmud contains Rashi’s commentary.

Moses Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, 1194-1270 C.E.), also known as Rambam. He is author of an authoritative law code, known as the Mishnah Torah, which is a summary of the entire book of Jewish religious law.

Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer (54 chapters on the life of Rabbi Eliezer and most of the Torah)

The Tosafot: A record of students notes of the teachings of famous rabbis in the academies from the 12th and 13th centuries. These include the following rabbis: Rabbi Jacob ben Meir (1100-1171), Rabbi Samuel ben Meir (1080-1158), Rabbi Isaac of Dampierre, Rabbi Samson (ben Abraham) of Sens and Rabbi Meir (ben Barukh) of Rothenburg (1225-1293).


The Messianic Interpretation of Old Testament Passages from Rabbinic, Talmudic, Midrashic, Targumic and Other Jewish Sources


Genesis 1:2

‘A living soul’ meaning the soul of Adam, the first man. Resh Laish said: ‘Ahor’ means: [Man was created] the last on the last day, and ‘kedem’ [i.e. foremost] means on the first day. In the opinion of Resh Laish [that is the meaning], since it is said, And the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters (ib. 2), i.e. the spirit of the Messianic King (Midrash Rabbah, Leviticus (London: Soncino Press), XIV.1, p. 178). return to index


Genesis 3:15

Targum Pseudo-Jonathan:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between the offspring of your sons and the offspring of her sons; and it shall be that when the sons of the woman observe the commandments of the Torah, they will direct themselves to smite you on the head, but when they forsake the commandments of the Torah you will direct yourself’ to bite them on the heel. However, there is a remedy for them, but no remedy for you. They are destined to make peace in the end, in the days of the King Messiah (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 2). return to index

Fragmentary Targum to the Pentateuch

And it shall be that when the sons of the woman study the Torah diligently and obey its injunctions, they will direct themselves to smite you on the head and slay you; but when the sons of the woman forsake the commandments of the Torah and do not obey its injunctions, you will direct yourself to bite them on the heel and afflict them. However, there will be a remedy for the sons of the woman, but for you, serpent, there will be no remedy. They shall make peace with one another in the end, in the very end of days, in the days of the King Messiah (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 2). return to index


Genesis 49:10-12

Targum Onkelos

The transmission of dominion shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor the scribe from his children’s children, forever, until the Messiah comes, to whom the Kingdom belongs, and whom nations shall obey. He binds his foal to the vine, his colt to the choice vine; he washes his garment in wine, and his robe in the blood of grapes. He shall enclose Israel in his city, the people shall build his Temple, the righteous shall surround him, and those who serve the Torah by teaching shall be with him. His raiment shall be of goodly purple, and his garment of the finest brightly‑dyed wool. His mountains shall be red with his vineyards, his vats shall drip with wine; his valleys shall be white with corn and with flocks of sheep (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 7). return to index

Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to the Pentateuch

Kings and rulers shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor scribes who teach the Torah from his seed, until the time when the King Messiah shall come, the youngest of his sons, and because of him nations shall melt away. How beautiful is the King Messiah who is destined to arise from the house of Judah! He has girded his loins and gone down to battle against his enemies, destroying kings and their power, and there is neither king nor power that can withstand him. He reddens the mountains with the blood of their slain. His garments are saturated with blood, like those of him who presses the grapes. How beautiful are the eyes of the King Messiah, as pure wine! He will not see incestuous practice or the shedding of innocent blood. And his teeth are more pure than milk, for he will not tolerate as food that which is seized by force or taken by robbery (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 9). return to index

Fragmentary Targum to the Pentateuch

Kings shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor scribes who teach the Torah from his children’s children, until the time of the coming of the King Messiah, to whom belongs the Kingdom, and to whom all dominions of the earth shall become subservient. How beautiful is he, the King Messiah, who is destined to arise from the house of Judah. He has girded his loins and gone forth to battle against his enemies, slaying kings and rulers, and making the mountains red with the blood of their slain and the hills white with the fat of their mighty ones. His garments are saturated with blood, and he is like the treader of grapes. How beautiful to behold are they, the eyes of the King Messiah, more so than pure wine, not looking upon incest and the shedding of innocent blood. His teeth are pure, according to the Halakah, refraining from partaking of that which is taken by violence or robbery. His mountains shall be red with vines, his presses with wine. His hills shall be white with the abundance of his grain and flocks of his sheep (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 11). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b

Rab said: The world was created only on David’s account. Samuel said: On Moses’ account; R. Johanan said: For the sake of the Messiah. What is his [the Messiah’s] name?—The School of R. Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until Shiloh come (Gen. 49:10). The School of R. Yannai said: His name is Yinnon, for it is written, His name shall endure forever: e’er the sun was, his name is Yinnon (Ps. LXXII, 17). The School of R. Haninah maintained: His name is Haninah, as it is written, Where I will not give you Haninah (Jer. XVI, 13). Others say: His name is Menahem the son of Hezekiah, for it is written, Because Menahem [‘the comforter’], that would relieve my soul, is far. The Rabbis said: His name is ‘the leper scholar,’ as it is written, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted (Isa. LIII, 4) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 98b, pp. 667-668). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

Furthermore, the royal Messiah will be descended from the tribe of Judah, as it says, And it shall come to pass in that day, that the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek (Isa. XI, 10). Thus from the tribe of Judah were descended Solomon, who built the first Temple, and Zerubbabel who built the second Temple; and [from him will be descended] the royal Messiah, who will rebuild the Temple. Thus we find that these two tribes, Judah and Levi, are the most distinguished in their lineage of all Israel, since in them were royalty and priesthood. Judah was the fourth of the tribal ancestors to be born, just as the daleth is the fourth letter of the alphabet and is the fourth letter of his name! On the fourth day too the luminaries were created, while of the Messiah it is written, And his throne [shall endure] as the sun before Me (Ps. LXXXIX, 37). Of his seed four were saved, one from the lions’ den and three from the fiery furnace. The fourth letter [of the alphabet—daleth] is the beginning and the end of David’s name; and so it says, The sceptre shall not depart from Judah (Gen. XLIX, 10); and it is also written, And thy house and thy kingdom shall be made sure for ever (II Sam. VII, 16); also, For ever will I keep for him My mercy (Ps. LXXXIX, 29) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVII, p. 901). return to index

JUDAH IS A LION’S WHELP (XLIX, 9). R. Barna b. R. Banina said: This alludes to Messiah the son of David who was descended from two tribes, his father being from Judah and his mother from Dan, in connection with both of which ‘lion’ is written: JUDAH IS A LION’S WHELP; Dan is a lion’s whelp (Deut. XXXIII, 22)…
THE SCEPTRE [STAFF] SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH (XLIX, 10)…Another interpretation: THE SCEPTRE [STAFF] SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH alludes to the Messiah, son of David, who will chastise the State with a staff, as it says, Thou shalt break them with a rod [staff] of iron (Ps. II, 9)…
UNTIL SHILOH COME. This indicates that all the nations of the world will bring a gift to Messiah the son of David, as it says, In that time shall a present be brought (yubal shay) unto the Lord of hosts (Isa. XVIII, 7) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVII, pp. 906-907). return to index

UNTIL SHIL0H COMETH: this alludes to the royal Messiah. AND UNTO HIM SHALL THE OBEDIENCE (YIKHATH) OF THE PEOPLE BE: he [the Messiah] will come and set on edge (makheh) the teeth of the nations of the world (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVIII.8, p. 956). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

The school of R. Shila said: The Messiah’s name is ‘Shiloh’, as it is stated, Until Shiloh come (Gen. XLIX, 10), where the word is spelt Shlh. The School of R. Hanina said: His name is ‘Haninah’ as it is stated, I will not give you Haninah (Jer. XVI, 13). The School of R. Jannai said: His name is ‘Yinnon’; for it is written, E’er the sun was, his name is Yinnon (Ps. LXXII, 17). R. Biba of Sergunieh said: His name is ‘Nehirah’ as it is stated, And the light (nehorah) dwelleth with Him (Dan. II, 22), where the word is spelt nehirah (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, pp. 137-138). return to index

Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu

The scepter shall not depart from Judah (Gen. 49:10). This alludes to the scepter of kingship, as it is said: The throne given of God is forever and ever; a scepter of equity is the scepter of Thy kingdom (Ps. 45:7).
 Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet (Gen. 49:10). When the king will come to whom kingship belongs (i.e., the Messiah), and concerning whom it is written: The crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden underfoot (Isa. 28:3). Until Shiloh come (Gen. 49:10), for the kingdom is his.
     And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be (ibid.). This refers to the one who will shatter the teeth (break the power) of the nations (i.e. the Messiah), as it is said: The nations shall see and be put to shame for all their might; they shall lay their hands upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf (Micah 7:16).
     Another comment on, And unto him shall be obedience of the peoples be (Gen. 49:10): He is the one for whom the peoples will assemble, as is said: The root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek (Isa. 11:10) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Genesis 12.10, p. 301). return to index

The Yalkut

Genesis 49:9-10, “You are a lion’s cub, O Judah, this is Messiah ben David.”

“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” This is Messiah ben David, the King Messiah will reign from His city Jerusalem where all the nations of the world will bring gifts to Him.” (Translation by Dr. Amnon Shor). return to index


Leviticus 26:13

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

Though these things were created in their ful­ness, yet when Adam sinned they were spoiled, and they will riot again return to their perfection until the son of Perez [viz. Messiah] comes; [for in the verse] These are the toledoth (generations) of Perez’, toledoth is spelled fully, with a waw. These are they: his lustre, his immortality, his height, the fruit of the earth and the fruit of trees, and the luminaries. Whence do we know it of his lustre?—But they that love him shall be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might (Judg. v, 31). His immortality?­—For as the days of a tree shall be the days of My people (Isa. LXV, 22). His height?—And I will make you go upright—komemiuth (Lev. XXVI, 13). R. Hiyya taught: That means, with an erect bearing, fearing no creature. R. Judan said: It indicates a height of one hundred cubits. R. Simeon said: Two hundred. R. Eleazar b. R. Simeon said: Three hundred. Whence do we know it? From the word ‘komemiuth’: komah implies one hundred cubits, while miuth implies [another] two hundred cubits. R. Abbahu said: Nine hundred cubits. R. Berekiah stated R. Abbahu’s reason in R. Dosa’s name: A sycamore tree continues growing in the earth six hundred years, while an infant comes out from his mother’s womb a cubit and a half [in length]: go and calculate, a cubit and a half per annum, which gives nine hundred cubits. Whence do we know it of the fruit of the earth and the fruit of the tree?—For as the seed of peace, the vine shall give her fruit, etc. (Zech. VIII, 12). The luminaries?—Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days (lsa. XXX, 26) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XII.6, p. 92-93). return to index


Numbers 24:17-24

Targum Onkelos

I see him, but not now, I behold him but not near; a star shall step forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall arise out of Israel, and shall crush the corners of Moab, and break down all the sons of Seth. I see him, but not now; I behold him, but he is not near; when a king shall arise out of Jacob and be anointed the Messiah out of Israel. He shall slay the princes of Moab and reign over all mankind. Edom shall become an inheritance and Seir shall become a possession of its enemies, but Israel shall prosper in wealth. One shall descend from the house of Jacob who will destroy any survivor of the city of the nations.” He saw the Amalekite, and took up his parable and said: “Amalek was the first to make war on Israel, and his end shall be that he shall be destroyed forever.”
     He saw the Shalmaite and took up his parable and said: “Strong is the house in which you dwell, and he has placed your abode in a fortified city. However, when shall the Shalmaite be for destruction? When the Assyrian will take you captive.” And he took up his parable and said: “Woe unto the guilty who live when God shall do these things. And troops mustered by the Romans shall afflict Assyria, and shall subjugate those beyond the Euphrates, and they also shall be destroyed forever” (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 21-22). return to index

Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to the Pentateuch

“I see him, but he is not at the present time, I behold him but he is not near; but when a mighty king of the house of Jacob shall reign, and shall be anointed Messiah, wielding the mighty scepter of Israel. He shall slay the Moabite princes and shall bring to naught all the sons of Seth, the armies of Gog, destined to wage war against Israel, and their dead bodies shall fall before him. And the Edomites shall be driven out, and the sons of Gabla shall be banished before Israel, their foes, but Israel shall become rich and possess them. A ruler shall arise from the house of Jacob who shall utterly destroy the remnant escaping from Constantinople, the guilty city, and completely demolish the sinful city of Caesarea, the mighty city of the Gentiles. He saw the house of Amalek, and he took up the parable of his prophecy and said: “The house of Amalek was the first nation to wage war against Israel, and they shall be the last ones, together with all the sons of the East, to wage war against Israel, ín the days of the King Messiah. But ultimately all of them shall suffer eternal destruction.”
      And he saw Jethro that he had become a proselyte to Judaism, and he took up his prophetic parable and said, “How mighty it is, your camp, in that you have set your abode in the clefts of the rocks. Verily, if the sons of the Shalmaites are decreed to be despoiled, it will be when Sennacherib, King of Assyria, shall come and take you captive.” And he took up the parable of his prophecy and said: “Woe unto him who is alive when the Memra of the Lord reveals itself, rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked, smiting nations and kings, and thrusting one against the other. Troops ready for battle, with great armed might, shall go forth from Italy in Liburnian ships, joining the legions which shall go forth from Rome and Constantinople. They shall afflict the Assyrians and subjugate all the sons of Eber. However, the end of both these and those shall be to fall by the hand of the King Messiah and be destroyed forever” (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 23-24). return to index

Fragmentary Targum to the Pentateuch

“I see him, but he is not here now, I behold him, but he is not near. A king is destined to arise from the house of Jacob, a redeemer and ruler from the house of Israel, who shall slay the mighty ones of the Moabites, who shall bring to naught all the sons of the East. Edom shall be inherited, and Mt. Gabla shall be possessed by its enemies, but Israel shall become stronger in armed might. A king is destined to arise from the house of Jacob who shall destroy all that remains of the guilty city, which is Rome.” He beheld the Amalekite and took up the parable of his prophecy, and said: “The first nation to set up war against Israel were they of the house of Amalek, and at the very end of time they shall again array battle against them; but their end shall be destruction, and their destruction shall be final.” And he saw the Shalmaites and he took up his prophecy by way of parable and said, “How mighty is your camp, you have set the house of your dwelling place in the cleft of the rock. Verily, if the Shalmaites shall be for a spoil, it shall be until the time that the Assyrians arise to capture you.” “Woe unto the guilty when God comes to punish the wicked and reward the righteous, and when He thrusts the kingdoms of the nations one against the other. Great armies shall go forth in Liburnian ships from Italy, which is Rome, and shall join many Roman legions, that shall subjugate the Assyrians and afflict all the people beyond the River. But destruction shall befall both these and those, an everlasting destruction” (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 25). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

R. JoHanan said: Rabbi used to expound There shall step forth a star (kokab) out of Jacob (Num. XXIV, 17), thus: read not ‘kokab’ but kozab (lie). When R. Akiba beheld Bar Koziba he exclaimed, ‘This is the king Messiah!’ R. Johanan b. Tortha retorted: Akiba, grass will grow in your cheeks and he will still not have come!’ (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), II.2, 4, p. 157). return to index

Pesikta Rabbati

2. Out of Ephraim. R. Tanhuma Berabbi began his discourse as follows: And out of Jacob shall one have dominion, and shall destroy the remnant from the city [of Edom] (Num. 24:19). What person is to have this dominion? The Holy One, blessed be He, said: An earthly ruler destined to arise out of Jacob shall have this dominion, and when he rises, he will destroy the rem­nant from the city [of Edom ].

<Another comment:> What person is to have this dominion? The king Messiah who, it is said, shall have dominion from sea to sea (Ps. 72:8). [In these verses, the word yrd is taken as a form of the verb rdh “have dominion”], as in the verse For he had dominion (rwdh) in all the region on this side the River (I Kings 5:4). Accordingly, dominion is given into the hand of the wicked nation of Edom only until the Messiah comes, at which time one out of Jacob…shall have dominion (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume I, Piska 13.2, p. 246). return to index


Deuteronomy 33:17

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

This is the common idiom: an ass, a camel. The Rabbis maintained: Ox is an allusion to the one anointed for battle, (Footnote: The Messiah who would conduct the final war; according to tradition he would be descended from Joseph, and would be the forerunner of the real Messiah, descended from David) as it says, His firstling bullock, majesty is his (Deut. XXXIII, 17); (Footnote: This refers to Joseph, and is understood to allude to the Messiah descended from him). Ass refers to the royal Messiah, for it says of him, Lowly, and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, LXXV.6, p. 698). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 92:11

But my horn shalt Thou exalt like the horn of the reem (Ps. 92:11). Like the reem whose horns are so high that it can thrust them to the four ends of the earth, the son of David will thrust to the four ends of the earth. Of him Moses said: His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of the reem: with them he shall push the people togéther to the ends of the earth (Deut. 33:17). And kings will stand up against the son of David to slay him, as is said The kings of the earth stand up...against the Lord, and against His anointed (Ps. 2:2) ; and all over the earth the children of Israel will be in great trouble. But even in their trouble they will be like the fresh green olive, as is said I shall be moist with fresh oil (Ps. 92:11). And Mine eyes shall see my desire on them that look sharply at me (ibid. 92:12) means that the children of Israel will see their wish come true in the fall of their enemies, for it is said Mine eyes shall see my desire on them that look sharply at me (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book Two, Psalm 92:11). return to index


2 Samuel 7:16

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

Furthermore, the royal Messiah will be descended from the tribe of Judah, as it says, And it shall come to pass in that day, that the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek (Isa. XI, 10). Thus from the tribe of Judah were descended Solomon, who built the first Temple, and Zerubbabel who built the second Temple; and [from him will be descended] the royal Messiah, who will rebuild the Temple. Thus we find that these two tribes, Judah and Levi, are the most distinguished in their lineage of all Israel, since in them were royalty and priesthood. Judah was the fourth of the tribal ancestors to be born, just as the daleth is the fourth letter of the alphabet and is the fourth letter of his name! On the fourth day too the luminaries were created, while of the Messiah it is written, And his throne [shall endure] as the sun before Me (Ps. LXXXIX, 37). Of his seed four were saved, one from the lions’ den and three from the fiery furnace. The fourth letter [of the alphabet—daleth] is the beginning and the end of David’s name; and so it says, The sceptre shall not depart from Judah (Gen. XLIX, 10); and it is also written, And thy house and thy kingdom shall be made sure for ever (II Sam. VII, 16); also, For ever will I keep for him My mercy (Ps. LXXXIX, 29) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVII, p. 901). return to index

Psalm 2

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 2

3. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed. When the children of Israel will come to the Holy One, blessed be He, [with complaints against their enemies], He will answer, I shall delivers them into your hands (Lam. 3:63) : “I shall break their power,” as it is said God the Most High...hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand (Gen. 14:20).
     Should it be reported to the lord Messiah in the time to come, “A certain land is in rebellion against thee,” He will say, “Let locusts come and smite it,” as is said He shall smite the land with the rod of his mouth (Isa. 11:4). Or should it be reported to him, “A certain province is in rebellion against thee,” he will say, “Let the angel of death come and slay, and so destroy it,” as is said And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked (ibid.). And when the kings of the heathen see how great is their affliction, they will come and bow down to the lord Messiah, as is said They shall bow down to thee with their face to the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet (Isa. 49:23).
      Against the Lord, and against His anointed (Ps. 2:2) was Korah, who murmured against Aaron, the anointed of the Lord, because of the priesthood. Moses said: “If my brother Aaron had taken the priesthood on his own, you would have acted properly in murmuring against him. But ah! the Holy One, blessed be He, to whom greatness, sovereignty, and power belong, gave it to him; therefore any man who sets himself against Aaron sets himself against none other than the Holy One, blessed be He.” Hence it is said, Against the Lord, and against his anointed.
     Another comment on against the Lord, and against His anointed, by way of the parable of a mighty man who lived in a certain land. An army about to invade the land, but fearful of the mighty man, took counsel, saying: “What must we do? Come, let us first slay the mighty man, and then fight against the land:” Likewise speak kings and rulers of the earth.
     4. R. Berechiah said in the name of R. Levi: Cursed be the wicked who contrive dark counsel against Israel, each one boasting: “My counsel is better than thine.” Esau said: “Cain was a foo1, for he slew his brother Abel while his father was still alive. Did not Cain know that his father would be fruitful and multiply and would beget Seth? I shall not act so unknowingly. When the days of mourning for my father are at hand, I will slay my brother Jacob (Gen. 27:41) and inherit his portion.” Pharaoh said: “Esau was a fool in saying, Let the days of mourning for my father be at hand. Did he not know that while his father was alive, his brother Jacob would be fruitful and would multiply? I shall not act so unknowingly. Under the very birth‑stools of their mothers, while they are yet new‑born infants, I shall smite the children of Israel.” So in saying Let us deal wisely (Ex. 1:10), Pharaoh meant: “Let us act more knowingly than those who preceded us.” At once Pharaoh charged all his people, saying: Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river (Ex. 1:22). Haman said: “Pharaoh was a fool when he charged all his people, saying: ‘Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive’: Did he not know that the daughters would marry, would be fruitful, and would multiply? Yea, surely I shall not act so unknowingly: I shall destroy, slay, and cause to perish all Jews, both young and old, little children and women (Esther 3:13).”
     And Gog and Magog will likewise say, “Fools were all the former who involved themselves in scheming counsel against Israel. Did they not know that Israel have their Guardian in heaven? Yea, surely we shall not act so unknowingly—first we will make war against their Guardian, and then we shall turn upon Israel.” Hence it is said The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed. But the Holy One, blessed is He, will say to Gog and Magog: “Oh, ye wicked, do you set yourselves to make war against Me? How many battalions have I by Me! How many angels of flame, lightning, and fire have I by Me! And I shall go forth with them, and I shall fight beside them.” Thus Scripture says: The Lord will go forth as a mighty man...like a man of war...He will behave Himself mightily against His enemies (Isa. 42:13). And Scripture says also: For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle...Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fighteth in the day of battle...and the Lord my God shall come, and all the holy ones with Thee (Zech. 14:2,3, 5b). And what does Scripture go on to say? The Lord shall be King over all the earth (ibid. 14:9).
     8. Truly it is I that have set (nasakti) My king (Ps. 2:6). What else can nasakti mean? “Anointed,” as in the verse Neither did I anoint (sakti) myself at all (Dan.10:3). Or “melted,” as in the verse A molten (massekah) calf (Ex. 32:4). Or “made great,” as in the verse Eight great (nasik) ones among men (Micah 5:4), and in the verse The greatness (nasik) of the north (Ezek. 32:30). And where have I made My king great? Upon My holy hill of Zion (Ps. 2:6), as the verse concludes.
     9. 1 will declare of the decree of the Lord. He said unto me: ‘Thou art My son’ (Ps. 2:7): The children of Israel are declared to be sons in the decree of the Law, in the decree of the Prophets, and in the decree of the Writings: In the decree of the Law it is written Thus saith the Lord: Israel is My son, My first‑born (Ex. 4:22). In the decree of the Prophets it is written Behold My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high (Isa. 52:13), and it is also written Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth (Isa. 42:1). In the decree of the Writings it is written, The Lord said unto my lord: “Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Ps. 110:1), and it is also written I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the Ancient of days, and he was brought near before Him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him (Dan. 7:13, 14).
     In another comment, the verse is read I will tell of the decree: The Lord said unto me: Thou art My son...Ask of Me, and 1 will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of she earth for thy possession (Ps. 2:7, 8). R. Yudan said: All these goodly promises are in the decree of the King, the King of kings, who will fulfill them for the lord Messiah. And why all this? Because the Messiah occupies himself with Torah.
      Another comment on Thou art My son: God does not say “I have a son,” but “Thou art like a son to Me,” as when a master wishing to give pleasure to his slave, says to him, “Thou art as dear to me as a son.”
     This day have I begotten thee (ibid.). R. Huna said: Suffering is divided into three portions: one, the Patriarchs and all the generations of men took; one, the generation that lived in the time of [Hadrian’s] persecution took; and one, the generation of the lord Messiah will take. When the time comes, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say: “I must create the Messiah—a new creation:” As Scripture says, This day have I begotten thee—that is, on the very day of redemption, God will create the Messiah.
     So, too, the verse She bare him after Absalom (I Kings 1:6) cannot be taken literally. Bare cannot mean “gave birth to,” for how could Absalom’s mother be said to have given birth to Adonijah? Was not Absalom the son of Maacha, and was not Adonijah the son of Hagit? Bare means, then, that Hagit made her son bear himself like Absalom. Just as Absalom got himself chariots and horsemen in order to rebel against his father, so did Adonijah; just as the one was a quarrelsome man, so was the other; and just as the one went about with fifty men running before him (r Kings 1:5), so did the other.
     10. Ask of Me, and 1 will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession (Ps. 2:8). God, speaking to the Messiah, says: If thou dost ask for dominion over the nations, already they are thine inheritance; if for the ends of the earth, already they are thy possession.
      R. Johanan taught: To three men—Solomon, Ahaz, and the lord Messiah—­the Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Ask of Me:” To Solomon, as is written In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said: “Ask what 1 shall give thee” (I Kings 3:5). To Ahaz, as is written “Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God: ask it either in the depth, or in the height above” (Isa. 7:11). (Why was he called Ahaz, “one who has shut up?” Because he shut up and, by not asking, did not let goodness come to the world. According to another explanation, he was called Ahaz because he shut up the doors of synagogues and of schools to prevent the study of Torah)? To the lord Messiah, as is written Ask o f Me, and 1 will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession.
     R. Samuel bar Nahmani taught: By close study of Scripture we learn that God said to two other men also—to Abraham and to Jacob—”Ask of me, and I shall give thee.” In Abraham’s ask­ing O Lord God, what wilt Thou give me (Gen. 15:2) there is the implication that God said to him: “Ask of Me, and I shall give thee.” And in Jacob’s saying Of all that Thou shall give me 1 will surely give the tenth unto Thee (Gen. 28:22) there is the implication that God said to him also: “Ask of Me, and I shall give thee.”
     The Messiah’s asking is again referred to in the verse He asked life of Thee, Thou gavest it him; even length of days for ever and ever (Ps. 21:5). What did the Messiah ask? He asked that Israel should live and endure for ever and ever (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 92:11

But my horn shalt Thou exalt like the horn of the reem (Ps. 92:11). Like the reem whose horns are so high that it can thrust them to the four ends of the earth, the son of David will thrust to the four ends of the earth. Of him Moses said: His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of the reem: with them he shall push the people togéther to the ends of the earth (Deut. 33:17). And kings will stand up against the son of David to slay him, as is said The kings of the earth stand up...against the Lord, and against His anointed (Ps. 2:2) ; and all over the earth the children of Israel will be in great trouble ((The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book Two, Psalm 92:11, pp. 118-119). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Abodah Zarah

Some connected that comment of R. Isaac with the following teaching: R. Jose says. In time to come idol–worshippers will come and offer themselves as proselytes. But will such be accepted? Has it not been taught that in the days of the Messiah proselytes will not be received; likewise were none received in the days of David or of Solomon?—Well, they will be self–made proselytes, and will place phylacteries on their fore­heads and on their arms, fringes in their garments, and a Mezuzah on their doorposts, but when the battle of Gog–Magog will come about they will be asked, ‘For what purpose have you come?’ and they will reply: ‘Against God and His Messiah’ as it is said, Why are the nations in an uproar, and why do the peoples mutter in vain, etc. (Ps. II, 1) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. IV, ‘Abodah Zarah 3b, pp. 8-9). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 52a

Our Rabbis taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days!), ‘Ask of me anything, and I will give it to thee’, as it is said, I will tell of the decree etc. this day have I begotten thee, ask of me and I will give the nations for thy inheritance (Ps. 2:7, 8). (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Mo‘ed, Vol. III, Sukkah 52a, p. 247). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

8. AND ABRAM SAID: O LORD GOD, WHAT WILT THOU GIVE ME (XV, 2)? R. Jonathan said: Three persons were bidden ‘ask’, viz.: Solomon, Ahaz, and the King Messiah. Solomon: Ask what I shall give thee (I Kings III, 5). Ahaz: Ask thee a sign (Isa. VII, 11). The King Messiah: Ask of Me, etc. (Ps. II, 8) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. I, XLIV.8, pp. 365-366). return to index

JUDAH IS A LION’S WHELP (XLIX, 9). R. Barna b. R. Banina said: This alludes to Messiah the son of David who was descended from two tribes, his father being from Judah and his mother from Dan, in connection with both of which ‘lion’ is written: JUDAH IS A LION’S WHELP; Dan is a lion’s whelp (Deut. XXXIII, 22)…
     THE SCEPTRE [STAFF]SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH (XLIX, 10)…Another interpretation: THE SCEPTRE [STAFF] SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH alludes to the Messiah, son of David, who will chastise the State with a staff, as it says, Thou shalt break them with a rod [staff] of iron (Ps. II, 9)…
     UNTIL SHILOH COME. This indicates that all the nations of the world will bring a gift to Messiah the son of David, as it says, In that time shall a present be brought (yubal shay) unto the Lord of hosts (Isa. XVIII, 7) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVII, pp. 906-907). return to index

Zohar

“Behold Jehovah, rideth swift upon a cloud.” “...it is the Son, of Whom it is written, ‘Kiss the Son’; Thou art the Son, the faithful shepherd; of Thee it is said, ‘Kiss the Son.’ Thou art the Governor of the universe, the Head of Israel, the Lord of the ministering angels, the Son of the Highest, the Son of the Holy and blessed One, yea the very Shechinah” (Part 3, folio 307, Amsterdam edition). return to index


Psalm 18:51

Midrash on Psalms

In Samuel it is said God...is the mighty tower (migdol) of deliverance for His king (2 Sam. 22:51), while the corresponding verse in Psalms, taken literally, reads: Mightily He enlargeth (magdil) deliverance for His king (Ps. 18:51)…And can mighty tower in the verse from Samuel be understood in any other way except that the lord Messiah will become as a tower unto them? Thus Scripture says, The name of the Lord is like a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is set on high (Prov. 18:10) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 18:36). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

R. Judah b. R. Simon said in the name of R. Samuel b. R. Isaac: King Messiah, whether he be of those still living or of those who are dead, bears the name of David. R. Tanhuma said: I will give his reason, viz. Great salvation giveth He to His king; and showeth mercy to His Messiah (Ps. XVIII, 51), and the text continues, not ‘and to David’ but to David and to his seed, for evermore (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, p. 138). return to index


Psalm 21

Midrash on Pslams

1. For the leader. A Psalm of David. The king shall joy in Thy strength, O Lord (Ps. 21:1-2). These words are to be read in the light of what Scripture says elsewhere: In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the peoples; unto him shall the nations seek (Isa.11:10)‑that is, seek the king Messiah, David’s son, who will remain hidden until the time of redemption.’ R. Tanhuma said: The king Messiah will come for no other purpose than to teach the nations of the earth thirty precepts, such as those of the Booth, the Palm‑Branch, and the Tefillin. But all the children of Israel will be taught precepts of Torah by the Holy One Himself, blessed be He, for it is said All thy children shall be taught by the Lord (Isa. 59:13). Why not by the Messiah? Because of the Messiah it is said Unto him shall the nations seek. R. Hanina said in the name of R. Aha: What can His rest shall be glory (ibid.) mean except that God will bestow a portion of His supernal glory upon the king Messiah. Hence it is said The king shall joy in Thy strength, O Lord.
     2. Another comment on The king shall joy in Thy strength, O Lord. Scripture says elsewhere, Who is this King of glory? (Ps. 24:10). R. Simon asserted: To whom can this King of glory refer except to that one King who bestows upon those who fear Him a portion of His own glory—the Lord, He is the King whose glory is for ever in [His] hosts (ibid.). Thus, our Masters taught in the Mishnah: A mortal king—one may not ride on his horse, nor sit on his throne, nor take his scepter. Yet Moses was allowed to take the scepter of the Holy One, blessed be He, for it is said Moses took the scepter of God in his hand (Ex. 4:20); and Elijah was allowed to ride on the Lord’s horse. What is the horse of the Holy One, blessed be He, but the whirlwind and the storm, of which it is said In the whirlwind and in the storm is His way (Nahum 1:3).
     And Scripture says, It came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:1). A mortal king—one may not wear his crown, yet the Holy One, blessed be He, sets His own crown on the head of king Messiah, as it is said Thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head (Ps. 21:4). A mortal king—one may not wear his purple, yet the Holy One, blessed be He, puts His honor and majesty upon the king Messiah, as is said Honor and majesty dost Thou put upon him (Ps. 21:6). A mortal king—one may not sit on his throne, yet it is written of Solomon, Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord (1 Chron. 29:23). A mortal king—one may not call his viceroy “king,” yet the Holy One, blessed be He, called Moses god, when He said to him See I have made thee a god to Pharaoh (Ex. 7:1). God said also to the children of Israel: Ye are gods (Ps. 82:6); and He called them holy ones, as is said They shall be holy unto their God (Lev. 21:6); and He said: Thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God (Deut. 7:6).
      God will call the king Messiah after His own name, for it is said of the king Messiah This is his name whereby he shall be called: The Lord our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). Jerusalem also shall called after the Lord’s name, for it is said of Jerusalem The name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord. That shall be her name (Ezek. 48:35). R. Levi said of Jerusalem: It will be good for the city when her name is the same as the name of her king, and the name of her king is the same as the name of her God. Accordingly when Scripture says, [The king] shall stand, and rule in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God (Micah 5:3), it refers to the time when The king shall joy in Thy strength, O Lord.
     Another comment: Strength clearly refers to Torah, for it is said The Lord gave strength unto His people (Ps. 29:11). Or, strength clearly refers to the Ark of the Covenant, for it is written He delivered His strength into captivity (Ps. 78:61).
     Or, strength clearly refers to kingship, for it is said He will give strength unto His king (1 Sam. 2:10). Or, finally, strength refers to the Temple, for it is said I will break the pride of your strength (Lev. 26:19).
     3. Thou hast given him his heart’s desire (Ps. 21:3) means that Thou, O Lord, in the presence of the king Messiah, didst declare Edom’s guardian angel wrong. And the ‘areset of his lips Thou hast not withholden. Selah (Ps. 21:3b). What is meant by the ‘areset of his lips? “The authority (rasut) of his lips”: For when it is reported to the king Messiah, “A certain land is in rebellion against thee,” he will say: “Let locusts come and smite that land,” as is said He shall smite the land with the rod of his mouth (Isa. 11:4); or, when it is reported to him “A certain province is in rebellion against thee,” he will say: “Let the angel of death come and slay the wicked of that province,” as is said With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked (ibid.).
     Another comment: The request of his lips Thou hast not withholden means that whatever the king Messiah decrees, the words of his decree stand.
     4. For Thou meetest him with the blessings of goodliness (Ps. 21:4) : The phrase blessings of goodliness refers, according to R. Judah, to the blessings which were given to Moses who was called “a goodly child,” as is said She saw him that he was a goodly child (Ex. 2:2). According to the Rabbis, this phrase refers to the blessings of Torah, of which God said: I give you goodly doctrine; forsake ye not My law (Prov. 4:2).
     He asked life of Thee, Thou gavest it him; even length of days for ever and ever (Ps. 21:5). R. Johanan taught: Scripture mentions three men—Solomon, Ahaz, and the king Messiah—to each of whom the Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Ask of Me.” For the rest of R. Johanan’s comment, see this Midrash on the Psalm Why do the heathen rage?
      R. Berechiah said: The verse means that the king Messiah asked that even Korah and his companions, men who went alive down into their graves, be raised up again, for it is said The Lord...bringeth down to the grave, and raiseth up (1 Sam. 2:6)
     His honor is great through Thy salvation (Ps. 21:6). That is to say, even the honor of the king Messiah is great only through God’s works.
     Glory and great worship shalt Thou lay upon him (Ps. 21:6) means that Thou, O God, layest a master’s glory and a disciple’s great worship upon the king Messiah. Glory, accordingly, is to be understood as in God’s command to Moses concerning Joshua: Thou shalt put of thy glory upon him (Num. 27:20). Note that it is said of thy glory, and not “all thy glory.” Where, then, was all the glory of Moses put upon Joshua? R. Yudan said it was put upon him at the Jordan, for as it is written of Moses They were afraid to come nigh him (Ex. 34:30), so is it written of Joshua at the Jordan, They feared him, as they feared Moses (Josh. 4:14).
      5. For Thou shalt make him most blessed for ever (Ps. 21:7) means that all the nations shall bless themselves in the king Messiah.”
     Thou shalt make him exceeding glad with Thy countenance (Ps. 21:7). R. Berechiah said in the name of R. Samuel: One verse reads of the king Messiah that One, like the son of man...came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before Him (Dan. 7:13), but in another verse God says, I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto Me (Jer. 30:21). How reconcile the two? Angels will bring the king Messiah to the outer edge of their encampment, and then the Holy One, blessed be He, will reach out His hand and bring the king Messiah near to Him. Hence it is said I will cause him to draw near. All thine enemies shall feel thy hand (Ps. 21:9) means, according to R. Levi, that God said to the king Messiah: Thy hand shall seek them out for punishment.
     Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger...and the fire shall devour them (Ps. 21:10). The Rabbis say that Gehenna will still exist in the time‑to‑come, for it is said Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven...and all that do wickedly shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up (Mal. 3:19), and so on, as above.(The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 21). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 104:5

5. Another exposition of Thou art clothed with glory and majesty. A mortal, when he is strong, is not beautiful, and when beautiful, is not strong. But the Holy One, blessed be He, is both strong and beautiful, for He has the two attributes of glory and majesty. God gave glory to Moses, as is said And Thou shalt put some of thy glory upon him (Num. 27:20); and God gave majesty to Joshua, of whom it is said His firstling bullock, majesty is his (Deut. 33:17). God also gave glory to Solomon, as is said And the Lord...bestowed upon him such royal glory as had not been on any king before him in Israel (1 Chron. 29:25). The Holy One, blessed be He, said: In the time‑to‑come, I shall give glory and majesty to the king Messiah, as is said For Thou meetest him with choicest blessings...Glory and majesty dost Thou lay upon him (Ps. 21:4, 6) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book Two, Psalm 104:5, p. 169). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 2:10

The Messiah’s asking is again referred to in the verse He asked life of Thee, Thou gavest it him; even length of days for ever and ever (Ps. 21:5) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2:10). return to index

The Targum

For the singer, a Psalm of David. O Lord, the King Messiah shall be happy in Thy strength, and in Thy deliverance how greatly he shall rejoice.’
     Thou hast given him his soul’s desire, and hast not withheld the expression of his lips, forever.” For Thou shalt meet him with goodly blessings; Thou shalt place upon his head a crown of pure gold. Eternal life he asked of Thee; Thou hast given it to him, length of days forever and ever. Great is his glory through Thy deliverance; praise and splendor shalt Thou bestow upon him. For Thou shalt bestow upon him blessings forever; Thou shalt make him rejoice with a joy which comes from Thee. For the King Messiah trusts in the Lord, and through the loving kindness of the Most High he shall not be moved (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 107). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 52a

Our Rabbis taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days!), ‘Ask of me anything, and I will give it to thee’, as it is said, I will tell of the decree etc. this day have I begotten thee, ask of me and I will give the nations for thy inheritance (Ps. 2:7,8). But when he will see that the Messiah the son of Joseph is slain, he will say to Him, ‘Lord of the Universe, I ask of Thee only the gift of life’. ‘As to life’, He would answer him, ‘Your father David has already prophesied this concerning you’, as it is said, He asked life of thee, thou savest it him [even length of days for ever and ever] (Ps. 21:5) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Mo‘ed, Vol. III, Sukkah 52a, p. 247). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Numbers

As for the king, the Messiah, He will clothe him in His own robes; for it says, Honour and majesty wilt Thou lay upon him (Ps. XXI, 6). What is written in Scripture? God is gone up amidst shouting, the Lord amidst the sound of the horn (ib. XLVII, 6) (Midrash Rabbah Numbers, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Judah J. Slotki, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XV.13, pp. 654-655). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Exodus

One must not wear the crown of a mortal king, but God will one day place His crown on Messiah, the King. Of what is the crown of God? Of very fine gold; as it says: His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are curled, and black as a raven (S.S. V, II), and it is written: Thou settest a crown of fine gold on his head (Ps. XXI, 4) (Midrash Rabbah, Exodus, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. S. M. Lehrman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), VIII.1, p. 115). return to index

Commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer

This psalm is dedicated to two kings, David and Messiah (Rashi). Indeed, the future redeemer of Israel is also called David as the prophet says...‘And David, My servant, will be a prince for them forever’ (Ezekiel 37:25). Both suffer from enemies who deny their sovereignty: David by those who taunt him about Bath Sheba (Rashi), and Messiah by Gog and Magog (Radak)...Ultimately, both overcome their enemies and are universally accepted. Rambam describes the magnificence of the Messiah: ‘That king who will arise from the seed of David will possess wisdom surpassing that of Solomon and he will be a great prophet, close to the level of Moses. Therefore he will teach the entire nation and guide them on the path to God. And all the gentile nations will assemble to listen to him’ (Hilchos Teshuvah 9:2).
     2...In your might the king rejoices. Messiah rejoices in the might You bestowed upon him (Metzudas David)...Midrash Shocher Tov adds that God will deign to strengthen Messiah with a semblance of His own exalted glory as it is written, ‘And it shall come to pass on that day, that the root of Jessee that stands up as a standard for the nations, unto him the nations shall seek, and his resting place shall be glorious’ (Isaiah 11:10).
     7. You gladdened him with the joy of your presence...This refers to God’s presence in the future Garden of Eden. According to the Sages who interpret this verse as referring not to David but to Messiah, this means that God will draw Messiah near to Himself (Rashi) (Tehillim/Psalms, A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer (Brooklyn: 1977), Psalm 21:2, 7, pp. 261, 262, 265). return to index


Psalm 22: Substitutionary Suffering

Pesikta Rabbati

[At the time of the Messiah’s creation], the Holy One, blessed be He, will tell him in detail what will befall him: There are souls that have been put away with thee under My throne, and it is their sins which will bend thee down under a yoke of iron and make thee like a calf whose eyes grow dim with suffering, and will choke thy spirit as with a yoke; because of the sins of these souls thy tongue will cleave to the roof of thy mouth. Art thou willing to endure such things?
     The Messiah will ask the Holy One, blessed be He: Will my suffering last many years?
     The Holy One, blessed be He, will reply: Upon thy life and the life of My head, it is a period of seven years which I have decreed for thee. But if thy soul is sad at the prospect of thy suffering, I shall at this moment banish these sinful souls.
     The Messiah will say: Master of the universe, with joy in my soul and gladness in my heart I take this suffering upon myself, provided that not one person in Israel perish; that not only those who are alive be saved in my days, but that also those who are dead, who died from the days of Adam up to the time of redemption; and that not only these be saved in my days, but also those who died as abortions; and that not only these be saved in my days, but all those whom Thou thoughtest to create but were not created. Such are the things I desire, and for these I am ready to take upon myself [whatever Thou decreest]….
     2. During the seven–year period preceding the coming of the son of David, iron beams will be brought and loaded upon his neck until the Messiah’s body is bent low. Then he will cry and weep, and his voice will rise up to the very height of heaven, and he will say to God: Master of the universe, how much can my strength endure? How much can my spirit endure? How much my breath before it ceases? How much can my limbs suffer? Am I not flesh–and–blood?
     It was because of the ordeal of the son of David that David wept, saying My strength is dried up like a potsherd (Ps. 22:16). During the ordeal of the son of David, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to him: Ephraim, My true Messiah, long ago, ever since the six days of creation, thou didst take this ordeal upon thyself. At this moment, thy pain is like My pain. Ever since the day that the wicked Nebuchadnezzar came up and destroyed My House and burned My Temple and banished My children among the nations of the world—and this I swear by thy life and the life of My own head—I have not been able to bring Myself to sit upon My throne. And if thou dost not believe Me, see the night dew that has fallen upon My head, as is said My head is filled with dew, My locks with the drops of the night (Song 5:2).
      At these words, the Messiah will reply: Now I am reconciled. The servant is content to be like his Master (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 36.2, pp. 678-679, 680-681).
     It is taught, moreover, that in the month of Nisan the Patriarchs will arise and say to the Messiah: Ephraim, our true Messiah, even though we are thy forbears, thou art greater than we be­cause thou didst suffer for the iniquities of our children, and terrible ordeals befell thee, such ordeals as did not befall earlier generations or later ones; for the sake of Israel thou didst become a laughingstock and a derision among the nations of the earth; and didst sit in darkness, in thick darkness, and thine eyes saw no light, and thy skin cleaved to thy bones, and thy body was as dry as a piece of wood; and thine eyes grew dim from fasting, and thy strength was dried up like a potsherd—all these afflictions on account of the iniquities of our children, all these because of thy desire to have our children benefit by that goodness which the Holy One, blessed be He, will bestow in abundance upon Israel. Yet it may be because of the anguish which thou didst greatly suffer on their account—for thine enemies put thee in prison—that thou art displeased with them!
      He will reply: O Patriarchs, all that I have done, I have done only for your sake and for the sake of your children, for your glory and for the glory of your children, that they benefit from that goodness which the Holy One, blessed be He, will bestow in abundance upon them—upon Israel.
      The Patriarchs will say to him: Ephraim, our true Messiah, be content with what thou hast done, for thou hast made content the mind of thy Maker and our minds also.
T     hen—so taught R. Simeon ben Pazzi—the Holy One, blessed be He, will lift the Messiah up to the heaven of heavens, and will cloak him in something of the splendor of His own glory as protection against the nations of the earth, particularly against the wicked Persians. He will be told: Ephraim, our true Messiah, be thou judge of these and do with them what thy soul desires, for the nations would long since have destroyed thee in an instant had not God’s mercies been exceedingly mighty in thy behalf, as is said Ephraim is a darling son unto Me—is he not as a child that is dandled? For as often as I speak of him I do earnestly remember him still; therefore My heart yearneth for him, in mercy I will have mercy upon him, saith the Lord (Jer. 31:20). Why does the verse speak twice of mercy: In mercy I will have mercy upon him? One mercy refers to the time when he will be shut up in prison, a time when the nations of the earth will gnash their teeth at him every day, wink their eyes at one another in derision of him, nod their heads at him in contempt, open wide their lips to guffaw, as is said All they that see me laugh me to scorn,’ they shoot out the lip, they shake the head (Ps. 22:8); My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my throat; and thou layest me in the dust of death (Ps. 22:16).
     Moreover, they will roar over him like lions, as is said They open wide their mouth against me, as a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is become like wax; it is melted in mine inmost parts (Ps. 22:14-15). They will growl over him like lions who lust to swallow him, as is said All our enemies have opened their mouth wide against us. Terror and the pit are come upon us, desolation and destruction (Lam. 3:46-47) (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 37.1, pp. 685-687). return to index

The Yalkut

‘For Dogs have surrounded Me,’ are Haman’s sons. Rabbi Yehuda says they cast spells on me, or bound my feet before Ahashuverosh, and Rabbi Nehemiah says my feet were pierced before Ahashuverosh (Yalkut Shimoni, Psalm 22:16. Translation by Dr. Amnon Shor). return to index


Psalm 36

Pesikta Rabbati

Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but upon thee the Lord will arise, and His glory shall be seen upon thee (Isa. 60:1-2).
     I. These words are to be considered in the light of what David king of Israel was inspired by the holy spirit to say: For with thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light do we see light (Ps. 36:10)…
     What is meant by in Thy light do we see light? What light is it that the congregation of Israel looks for as from a watchtower? It is the light of the Messiah, of which it is said And God saw the light that it was good (Gen. 1:4). This verse proves that the Holy One, blessed be He, contemplated the Messiah and his works before the world was created, and then under His throne of glory put away His Messiah until the time of the generation in which he will appear.
     Satan asked the Holy One, blessed be He: Master of the uni­verse, for whom is the light which is put away under Thy throne of glory? God replied: For him who will turn thee back and put thee to utter shame.
Satan said: Master of the universe, show him to me.
     God replied: Come and see him. And when he saw him, Satan was shaken, and he fell upon his face and said: Surely, this is the Messiah who will cause me and all the counterparts in heaven of the princes of the earth’s nations to be swallowed up in Gehenna, as is said He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces (Isa. 25:8). In that hour all princely counterparts of the nations, in agitation, will say to Him: Master of the universe, who is this through whose power we are to be swallowed up? What is his name? What kind of a being is he?
     The Holy One, blessed be He, will reply: He is the Messiah, and his name is Ephraim, My true Messiah, who will pull him­self up straight and will pull up straight his generation, and who will give light to the eyes of Israel and deliver his people; and no nation or people will be able to withstand him, as is said The enemy shall not do him violence, nor the son of wickedness afflict him (Ps. 89:23). And all his enemies and adversaries shall be beaten before him, as is said I will beat to pieces his adver­saries before him (Ps. 89:24). And even seas and rivers will [yield to his power and] stop flowing, as is said I will set his hand also on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers (Ps. 89:26) (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 36.1, pp. 677-678).
     [At the time of the Messiah’s creation], the Holy One, blessed be He, will tell him in detail what will befall him: There are souls that have been put away with thee under My throne, and it is their sins which will bend thee down under a yoke of iron and make thee like a calf whose eyes grow dim with suffering, and will choke thy spirit as with a yoke; because of the sins of these souls thy tongue will cleave to the roof of thy mouth. Art thou willing to endure such things?
     The Messiah will ask the Holy One, blessed be He: Will my suffering last many years?
     The Holy One, blessed be He, will reply: Upon thy life and the life of My head, it is a period of seven years which I have decreed for thee. But if thy soul is sad at the prospect of thy suffering, I shall at this moment banish these sinful souls.
     The Messiah will say: Master of the universe, with joy in my soul and gladness in my heart I take this suffering upon myself, provided that not one person in Israel perish; that not only those who are alive be saved in my days, but that also those who are dead, who died from the days of Adam up to the time of redemption; and that not only these be saved in my days, but also those who died as abortions; and that not only these be saved in my days, but all those whom Thou thoughtest to create but were not created. Such are the things I desire, and for these I am ready to take upon myself [whatever Thou decreest]. At these words, the Holy One, blessed be He, will appoint for the Messiah the four creatures who will carry the Messiah’s throne of glory.
     Thereupon his enemies and the heavenly counterparts of the princes of the kingdoms will say: Come and let us bring charges against the Messiah’s generation so that they may never be given existence in the world. the Holy One, blessed be He, will reply to them: How dare you bring charges against that generation which will be greatly esteemed for its noble conduct, a generation in which I shall rejoice, and in which I shall take delight, which I shall uphold because of My pleasure in it, as is said Behold My servant, whom I uphold, Mine elect in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon him, etc. (Isa. 42:1)? How then dare you bring charges against it? I would as soon cause everyone of you to perish, consumed in flame by the firebrands with which you would be girded, but not one breathing creature of the Messiah’s generation will I cause to perish.
     The foregoing commentary is derived from meditation upon the verse For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light do we see light (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 36.1, pp. 677-680). return to index

B’reshith Rabbah of R. Mosheh Had Darshan

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This is that which is written, ‘There is light sown for the righteous’ (Ps. xcvii.11). R. Abba says, ‘And with him dwelleth light’ (Dan. ii.22): this is the light of the King Messiah; and so it is said, ‘For with thee is the fountain of life, in thy light do we see light’ (Ps. xxxvi.10)—that is, the light of the Messiah (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 33-34). return to index


Psalm 45

The Targum

For the singer. Dedicated to the members of the Sanhedrin of Moses. Spoken through prophecy by the Sons of Korah: goodly wisdom, praise, and thanksgiving. My heart seeks to utter something good. I say: My doings are for the King. My mind expresses itself’like the pen of the trained scribe. Your beauty, O King Messiah, surpasses that of ordinary men. The spirit of prophecy has been bestowed upon your lips; therefore, the Lord has blessed you forever. Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one; it is your glory and your splendor. And your splendor is great. Because of this you shall ride victoriously on the steeds of the kingdom in behalf of faith, truth, humility, and righteousness. And the Lord shall teach you to perform awesome deeds with your right hand. Your arrows are drawn; nations shall fall under you. And your arrows shall be sent into the heart of the King’s enemies.
     Thy throne of glory, O Lord, endures forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy Kingdom. Because you love righteousness and hate evil, because of this the Lord your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness more than your companion. Pure myrrh and aloes and cassia perfume all your gar­ ments. Out of palaces inlaid with ivory from the land of Minni they shall gladden you. The districts of the kingdom come forward to greet you and to honor you when the scroll of the Torah is placed at your right, inscribed with pure gold of Ophir. Hear, O congregation of Israel, the instruction of his mouth and observe the extent of his deeds. Let your ear attend to the words of the Torah, forget the evil deeds of the wicked of your people, and the house of idolatry where you served, the house of your fathers.
      And then the King will desire your beauty, for He is your master and you must bow to Him. The inhabitants of the city of Tyre shall come with an offering; the rich people of the nations shall seek. your presence at your Temple. All the finest personal possessions from the district treasuries of kings, hidden within, shall be brought to the priests, whose vestments are woven of pure gold. In embroidered vestments they shall offer their sacrifices before the King of the world; and the rest of their fellows, who are scattered among the nations shall be brought in to you, rejoicing, at Jerusalem. They shall be brought in with joy and praises, and they shall enter the palace of the Eternal King. In the place of your fathers your sons shall be righteous; you shall appoint them princes in all the land. At that time you shall say: “Let us remember Thy name in every generation.” Because of this, the people who be­ come proselytes shall praise Thy name forever and ever (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 109-111). return to index

Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Contemporary Commentary on Psalm 45

My works befit a king (vs. 2)...This song befits the King Messiah (Radak).
You are beautiful beyond other men (vs. 3)...This refers to the all-inclusive excellence of the Messiah, of whom the prophet says: (Isaiah 52:13) Behold My servant shall be enlightened, he shall be exalted and lifted up and he shall be very high (Ibn Yachya)...Accordingly God has blessed you for eternity (vs. 3) The kingdom of Messiah shall endure forever (Meiri). He shall be eternally endowed with the greatest of blessings: he will find favor in the eyes of all men (Radak).
     Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one - your majesty and your splendor (vs. 4)...In consonance with his opinion that this psalm describes the Messiah, Radak understands the sword as a resal weapon. Although the prophets always portray the Messianic era as a time of universal peace, this tranquility will be achieved only after the terrible war of Gog and Magog...During this cataclysmic confrontation, the Messiah’s martial skills will be his splendor. See Psalms 21:6...majesty and splendor You conferred upon him which Midrash Shocher Tov interprets as a reference to Messiah who is endowed with two forms of excellence: beauty and strength.
     And this is you splendor - gain success, ride high on truthfulness and righteous humility. May it guide you to awesome deeds with your right hand (vs. 5)...Radak understands verses 4 and 5 to mean: After You (Messiah) achieve Your splendid triumph over the enemies, as described in the preceding verse, do not subjugate them (ride over them) with pride and haughtiness. Rather be guided always by truth and sincere humility. And ride [high]on truthfulness. Rashi explains that the Torah scholar will issue true and honest decisions, unaffected by external factors. This is also a dsitinctive feature of the Messiah, as Scripture says: And the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge...and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes nor decide after the hearing of his ears (Isaiah 11:2, 3). True faith and sincere belief in Hashem are hallmarks of the Messiah as Isaiah (11:5) says: And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins and faith the girdle of his body (Ibn Yachys; Norah Tehillos).
     Targum interprets: [Messiah] will ride on a unique royal steed...And right and humility. This alludes to the excellent characteristics of the Messiah (Isaiah11:4): And with righteousness he will judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth (Ibn Yachya). May it guide you to awesome deeds with your right hand...Norah Tehillos comments that Messiah will be endowed with an unerring genius for ‘sniffing out’ the truth, as it says: And he shall smell with the fear of HASHEM (Isaiah 11:3). According to Rashi (ibid.), the Messiah will be able to detect a person’s innonence or guilt merely by observing his face...
     You love righteousness and hate wickedness, accordingly has God, your God, anointed you with oil of joy above your peers (vs. 8). Other monarchs gain their throns as a result of savage power struggles in which all law, order, and decency are callously discarded. The unpopular king who rules only by brute force oppresses and tyrannizes his subjects, plunging them into misery. Not so the king of David’s line. His throne is divinely established by virtue of the king’s equity and righteousness. Therefore his enthusiastic subjects welcome his anointment as a cause for national gladness...This is the message of our verse: You Messiah, personally love righteousness and hate hate wickedness: therefore God has personally anointed you with a special anointment.
     Hear, O maiden, see and incline your ear, forget your people and your father’s house (vs. 11)...Metzudas David interprets this entire verse in reference to the Messiah. The Psalmist exhorts all of the nations (the daughters) to listen to the commands of Messiah and to forget the wicked conspiracy of the nations of Gog and Magog, who plan to battle God’s chosen king.
     Then the king will desire your beauty, for He is your Master - submit to Him (vs. 12)...Metzudas Zion, explaining these words in reference to Messiah, renders: If you, (the nations) follow his commands, then Messiah will reciprocate by acting as your guardian and dedicated protector. Then you may submit yourselves [prostrate yourself] to him without any fear or reservations, for he will take you under his wings.
     I will commemorate Your Name through all generations, therefore the nations will acknowledge You forever and ever (vs. 18). Rashi maintains that the Psalmist is referring to God. Radak is of the opinion that the verse is speaking of Messiah. In every generation we make constant mention of his name and await his arrival with longing...Radak conclues that since Israel yearned for Messiah in every generation, therefore all nations will eventually acknowledge his [universal, absolute] sovereignty, which will be unprecedented in the annals of history (Tehillim/Psalms, Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1978), A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Volume 2, Psalm 45, pp. 562-575). return to index


Psalm 72:1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 17

The Targum

By the hand of Solomon, spoken through prophecy. O God, give the King Messiah the laws of Thy justice, and Thy righteousness to the son of King David. He shall judge Thy people with righteousness, and Thy poor with a law of justice. Those who dwell on the mountains shall bring peace to the house of Israel, and the hills with merit. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall deliver the unfortunate, and crush the man who oppresses. They shall worship Thee with the rising of the sun, and they shall pray to Thee by the light of the moon throughout all generations. He shall come down like a welcome rain on grass shorn away by locusts, like drops of late rain that moisten the grass of the earth.
     The righteous shall be numerous in his day, and peace shall abound, until those who worship the moon shall be destroyed. He shall have dominion from one side of the Mediterranean to the other, and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth. Covernors of provinces shall bow down before him, and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarsus and the isles of Ocean shall return tribute, the kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring a gift. All kings shall bow down to him, all nations shall become subject to him. For he shall deliver the needy when he asks for help, and the poor, and him who has no helper: He shall have pity on the poor and the needy, and shall save the lives of the unfortunate. From persecution and violence he shall save their lives, and their blood shall be precious to him. He shall live, and give the poor of the gold which they shall bring him from Sheba, so that he shall always pray for him and bless him all the day long. May there be an abundance of bread in the land; on the mountain tops may its fruit shake like Lebanon; and may they sprout from the city of Jerusalem like th e grass of the earth.
     May his name be remembered forever, his name which was made ready even before the sun came into being. By his merit all nations shall be blessed. and they shall say: “It is well with him.” Blessed is the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does great wonders. And blessed be His glorious name forever. And may the whole earth be filled with the effulgence of His glory. Amen and Amen. The Prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), Targum to the Hagiographa, pp. 115-117). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 72.3

Another comment on Give the king Thy judgments O God, and Thy righteousness: here king means the King Messiah, of whom it is said And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse...And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him...And he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the land (Isa. 11:1a, 3b-c, 4a) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 72:3). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 119:16

16. Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes; and 1 shall keep it unto the end (Ps. 119:33). Solomon said: Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that obtaineth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver...She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her (Prov. 3:13, 14, 15). Three men­—David, Solomon, and the king Messiah asked the Holy One, blessed be He, for wisdom. David said: Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes. Solomon said: Give me now wisdom and knowledge (2 Chron. 1:10), whereto God replied: Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee (ibid. 1:12). And of the king Messiah, it is said A Psalm of Solomon. Give the king Thy judgments, O God (Ps. 72:1) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 119:16). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b

Rab said: The world was created only on David’s account. Samuel said: On Moses’ account; R. Johanan said: For the sake of the Messiah. What is his [the Messiah’s] name?—The School of R. Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until Shiloh come (Gen. 49:10). The School of R. Yannai said: His name is Yinnon, for it is written, His name shall endure forever: e’er the sun was, his name is Yinnon (Ps. LXXII, 17) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 98b, p. 667). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 99a

It has been taught: R. Eliezer said: The days of the Messiah will last forty years, as it is written, Forty years long shall I take hold of the generation. I R. Eleazar b. Azariah said: Seventy years, as it is written, And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be for­gotten seventy years, according to the days of one king (Isa. XXIII, 15). Now, who is the one [uniquely distinguished] king? The Messiah, of course. Rabbi said: Three generations; for it is written, They shall fear thee with the sun, and before the moon [they shall fear thee], a generation and generations (Ps. LXXII, 5) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 99a, p. 669). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

4. IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED. Six things preceded the creation of the world; some of them were actually created, while the creation of the others was already contemplated. The Torah and the Throne of Glory were created. The Torah, for it is written, The Lord made me as the beginning of His way, prior to His works of old (Prov. VIII, 22). The Throne of Glory, as it is written, Thy throne is established of old, etc. (Ps. XCIII, 2). The creation of the Patriarchs was contemplated, for it is written, I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree at her first season (Hos. IX, 10). [The creation of] Israel was contemplated, as it is written, Remember Thy congregation, which Thou hast gotten aforetime (Ps. LXXIV, 2). [The creation of] the Temple was contemplated, for it is written, Thou throne of glory, on high from the beginning, the place of our sanctuary (Jer. XVII, 12). The name of Messiah was contemplated, for it is written, His name existeth ere the sun (Ps. LXXII, 17) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, I.4, p. 6). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Numbers

He offered the dish and the basin as symbols of the kings of the House of David who would in time to come spring from him and who would reign supreme on sea and on land, kings like Solomon and the King Messiah. How do we know it of Solomon? Because it is written, For he had dominion over all the region of this side the River, from Tipsah even to Gaza (I Kings V, 4)…How do we know the same of the King Messiah? Because it is written, He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River unto the ends of earth (ib. LXXII, 8). How do we know that he will hold sway on land? Because it is written, All kings shall prostrate themselves before him, all nations shall serve him (ib.11) and it also says, Behold, there came with the clouds of heal one like unto a son of man…and there was given unto him dominion…that all the peoples…should serve him etc. (Dan. VII, 14); And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (ib. 35) (Midrash Rabbah Numbers, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Judah J. Slotki, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XIII.14, pp. 527, 528). return to index

The Holy One, blessed be He, however, has dominion on sea and has dominion on land; He delivers on sea and delivers on land. Accordingly they [the princes] brought a dish to symbolise the sea and a basin to symbolise the land. BOTH OF THEM FULL, since the nations brought gifts to Solomon and will in time to come bring similarly to the King Messiah; as you read, The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts (Ps. LXXII, 10) (Midrash Rabbah Numbers, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Judah J. Slotki, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XIII.14, p. 529). return to index

R. Berekiah said in the name of R. Isaac: As the first redeemer was, so shall the latter Redeemer be. What is stated of the former redeemer? And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass (Ex. IV, 20). Similarly will it be with the latter Redeemer, as it is stated, Lowly and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9). As the former redeemer caused manna to descend, as it is stated, Behold, I will cause to rain bread from heaven for you (Ex. XVI, 4), so will the latter Redeemer cause manna to descend, as it is stated. May he be as a rich cornfield in the land (Ps. LXXII, 16). As the former redeemer made a well to rise, so will the latter Redeemer bring up water, as it is stated, And a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim (Joel IV, 18) (Midrash Rabbah Ecclesiastes (London: Soncino Press, 1939), I.9, p. 33). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Esther

What it means, however, is that just as the offerings extend from the Temple to Jerusalem, so there will be a procession of messengers with gifts for the Messiah, as it is written, Yea, all kings shall prostrate themselves before him (ib: LXXII, II) (Midrash Rabbah Esther, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Maurice Simon, Translator (London: Soncino Press), I.4, p. 21). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

The school of R. Shila said: The Messiah’s name is ‘Shiloh’, as it is stated, Until Shiloh come (Gen. XLIX, 10), where the word is spelt Shlh. The School of R. Hanina said: His name is ‘Haninah’ as it is stated, I will not give you Haninah (Jer. XVI, 13). The School of R. Jannai said: His name is ‘Yinnon’; for it is written, E’er the sun was, his name is Yinnon (Ps. LXXII, 17). R. Biba of Sergunieh said: His name is ‘Nehirah’ as it is stated, And the light (nehorah) dwelleth with Him (Dan. II, 22), where the word is spelt nehirah (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, pp. 137-138). return to index

Pesikta Rabbati

2. Out of Ephraim. R. Tanhuma Berabbi began his discourse as follows: And out of Jacob shall one have dominion, and shall destroy the remnant from the city [of Edom] (Num. 24:19). What person is to have this dominion? The Holy One, blessed be He, said: An earthly ruler destined to arise out of Jacob shall have this dominion, and when he rises, he will destroy the rem­nant from the city [of Edom ].
     (Another comment:) What person is to have this dominion? The king Messiah who, it is said, shall have dominion from sea to sea (Ps. 72:8). [In these verses, the word yrd is taken as a form of the verb rdh “have dominion”], as in the verse For he had dominion (rwdh) in all the region on this side the River (I Kings 5:4). Accordingly, dominion is given into the hand of the wicked nation of Edom only until the Messiah comes, at which time one out of Jacob…shall have dominion (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume I, Piska 13.2, p. 246). return to index

Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer

The ninth king is King Messiah, who, in the future, will rule from one end of the world to the other, as it is said, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea” (Ps. lxxii.8); and another Scripture text says, “And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Dan. ii.35) (Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer, Gerald Friedlander, Translator (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1971), Chapter XI, p. 83). return to index

Yalkut Shimoni

Another interpretation: ‘Give the king Thy judgments’ (Ps. 72:1), this refers to the King Messiah. return to index

Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Contemporary Commentary on Psalm 72

For Solomon. O God, Your judgments to the king - do give, And Your righteousness to the prince! (vs. 1).
Targum renders לִשְלמֹה, by Solomon, maintaining that this psalm is a prophetic hymn composed by Solomon, dedicated to the future Messiah.
     O God, Your judgments to the king - do give (vs. 1). David prays, ‘O God, please endow my son (and the future Messiah) with the wisdom to follow the laws of the Torah without error and to render equitable decisions, based exclusively on Torah dictates’ (Rashi; Radak).
     And Your righteousness to the prince! [lit. son of the king]. This also refers to Solomon (Rashi) and to the Messiah (Radak).
     Generation after generation (vs. 5)…The teachings of Messiah will endure to an even greater degree. When he teaches the nation to fear God, the people’s faith will never lapse (Radak).
     Like showers watering the earth (vs. 6)…The Messiah’s reign will not only be a paradise of material wealth, but also one of spiritual truth. The term זַרְזִיף is a contraction of two words which describe the Messiah’s times זִירּף (זַיף) falsehood; deceit, will become זַר, alien; unknown, because Messiah will banish deception from the world (Sforno).
     Till there is no moon Vs. 7). [These words describe the ultimate degree of serenity, stability, and success. The commentaries offer numerous interpretations for this enigmatic description.] Peace will last until the end of time, until even the moon (an indicator of time) is no more (Rashi; Radak).
     The prophet Isaiah (60:19,20) describes the Messianic redemption thus: The sun will no longer serve you with light by day, and for urightness, the moon will no longer give you light; HASHEM will be your etemal light, and your God will be your splendor. Your sun will not set again, nor will your moon be gathered in, for HASHEM will be an everlasting light for you and your days of mourning will be completed.
      May he dominate from sea to sea (vs. 8). Solomon (and Messiah) will have sovereignty over all of the territory of Eretz Yisrael, from…Sea of Reeds (in the south), to the…Sea of Philistines (the Mediterranean, in the north and west…(Rashi; Radak).
     The kings of Tarshish and the isles shall return with tribute (vs. 10)….According to the Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 78:12), this refers to the Messiah. All the gifts which Jacob gave to Esau, all the bribes which Jews have used to still the animosity of their oppressors through the ages, [and all the property which the gentiles have forcibly plundered from us] will be returned to the Messiah when the nations subject themselves to his sovereignty (Tehillos Hashem).
     All the kings shall prostrate themselves befere him, all the peoples shall serve him (vs. 11)…They will not serve him out of fear, but out of love and admiration (Sfomo). All the homage and adulation paid to Solomon will be paid to the Messiah as well (Radak).
     May his name survive forever, may his dynasty endure as long as the sun, and may men bless themselves by him; may all peoples praise him (vs. 17)…May Solomon be recognized forever as a paragon of wisdom and wealth (Rashi). May his name be equaled only by the great name of the Messiah (lbn Ezra).With the mere mention of the Messiah’s name, the resultant yearning for his appearance hastens his arrival (Beis Elokim).
     May his dynasty endure as long as the sun…According to Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer (ch. 32), יִכּין alludes to youth, intimating that the Messiah is destined to bring about the resurrection of the dead. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 98b) mar­shals a number of opinions concerning the name of the Messiah. Some interpret these words literally, maintaining that…Yenon will be his [actual] name. Other suggested names are…Menachem…Shiloh and Chaninah. [Some commentaries have observed that the initial letters of all four suggested names spell… Messiah!]
     And may men bless themselves by him; may all peoples praise him. [The sterling qualities of Solomon and the Messiah will be universally admired.]
     The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended. (vs. 20)..David’s praises of God will never end, but his prayers were inspired by his sins, his failures and his tragedies. In his prayers, David begs for atonement for himself and for his entire people. With the advent of the perfect king, the Messiah, Israel will finally rid itself of all folly and failure. A nation redeemed and restored to grandeur, Israel will then live in a utopia, with no need for anguished pleas. Therefore, although…prayers, will come to an end, songs of praise and thanksgiving will resound joyously forever (Tehillim/Psalms, Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1978), A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Volume 2, Psalm 72, pp. 894-907). return to index


Psalm 89:23, 24, 28, 29

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

Furthermore, the royal Messiah will be descended from the tribe of Judah, as it says, And it shall come to pass in that day, that the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek (Isa. XI, 10). Thus from the tribe of Judah were descended Solomon, who built the first Temple, and Zerubbabel who built the second Temple; and [from him will be descended] the royal Messiah, who will rebuild the Temple. Thus we find that these two tribes, Judah and Levi, are the most distinguished in their lineage of all Israel, since in them were royalty and priesthood. Judah was the fourth of the tribal ancestors to be born, just as the daleth is the fourth letter of the alphabet and is the fourth letter of his name!
     On the fourth day too the luminaries were created, while of the Messiah it is written, And his throne [shall endure] as the sun before Me (Ps. LXXXIX, 37). Of his seed four were saved, one from the lions’ den and three from the fiery furnace. The fourth letter [of the alphabet—daleth] is the beginning and the end of David’s name; and so it says, The sceptre shall not depart from Judah (Gen. XLIX, 10); and it is also written, And thy house and thy kingdom shall be made sure for ever (II Sam. VII, 16); also, For ever will I keep for him My mercy (Ps. LXXXIX, 29) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVII, p. 901). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Exodus

7. SANCTIFY UNTO ME ALL THE FIRSTBORN (XIII, I). R. Nathan said: The Holy One, blessed be He, told Moses: Just as I have made Jacob a firstborn, for it says: Israel is My son, My firstborn (ib. IV, 22), so will I make the King Messiah a firstborn, as it says: I also will appoint him firstborn (Ps. LXXXIX, 28) (Midrash Rabbah, Exodus, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. S. M. Lehrman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), XIX.7, pp. 237-238). return to index

Pesikta Rabbati

Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but upon thee the Lord will arise, and His glory shall be seen upon thee (Isa. 60:1-2).

I. These words are to be considered in the light of what David king of Israel was inspired by the holy spirit to say: For with thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light do we see light (Ps. 36:10)…
     What is meant by in Thy light do we see light? What light is it that the congregation of Israel looks for as from a watchtower? It is the light of the Messiah, of which it is said And God saw the light that it was good (Gen. 1:4). This verse proves that the Holy One, blessed be He, contemplated the Messiah and his works before the world was created, and then under His throne of glory put away His Messiah until the time of the generation in which he will appear.
      Satan asked the Holy One, blessed be He: Master of the uni­verse, for whom is the light which is put away under Thy throne of glory? God replied: For him who will turn thee back and put thee to utter shame.
     Satan said: Master of the universe, show him to me. God replied: Come and see him. And when he saw him, Satan was shaken, and he fell upon his face and said: Surely, this is the Messiah who will cause me and all the counterparts in heaven of the princes of the earth’s nations to be swallowed up in Gehenna, as is said He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces (Isa. 25:8). In that hour all princely counterparts of the nations, in agitation, will say to Him: Master of the universe, who is this through whose power we are to be swallowed up? What is his name? What kind of a being is he?
      The Holy One, blessed be He, will reply: He is the Messiah, and his name is Ephraim, My true Messiah, who will pull him­self up straight and will pull up straight his generation, and who will give light to the eyes of Israel and deliver his people; and no nation or people will be able to withstand him, as is said The enemy shall not do him violence, nor the son of wickedness afflict him (Ps. 89:23). And all his enemies and adversaries shall be beaten before him, as is said I will beat to pieces his adversaries before him (Ps. 89:24). And even seas and rivers will [yield to his power and] stop flowing, as is said I will set his hand also on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers (Ps. 89:26) (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 36.1, pp. 677-678). return to index

Rabbi Mosheh Ben Nahman

Because of ‘the labour which he saw (experienced) in himself, and because he was satisfied with ‘shame instead of glory’ (Hab. ii.16), therefore by his knowledge he will justify the just, he will know and recognise who are the just that ought to be redeemed; and so in all his judgments he will find out the just, as it is written, He will not judge by the sight of the eyes, etc. (Is, xi.3, 4, etc.); and our iniquities, i.e, those of the many who are mentioned, he will set in order, viz. by disposing them to repentance: cf. I Kings xi. 28, where סבל is equivalent to.the disposition or arrangement of affairs (Ex. v.4).
     ‘Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many: because ‘the whole of many nations’ (Ps. lxxxix.51) will be his portion and inheritance, and from among the Gentiles he will divide the strong as spoil for his people and servants, because he emptied his soul of everything for death, i.e. he resolved in his mind and resigned himself to die. ערה as Ps. cxli.8, ‘Do not pour out my soul,’ i.e. Empty it not of its hope which it longs to see realised: the accomplishment of one’s pleasure is spoken of as a filling of the soul, (Ex. xv.9), and similarly the frustration of a desire is called its emptying (The exposition of R. Mosheh ben Nahman of Gerona. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 83-84). return to index

Commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer

Ps. 89:52: Those who disgrace are your enemies, HASHEM, those who disgrace the footsteps of Your Messiah... The prime target of their insults is the Messiah whom You will send to redeem Israel (Radak)...
     Those who disgrace the footsteps of Your Messiah. At the conclusion of the exile, the Messiah will arrive. This period of time is called...literally, the footsteps of the Messiah, because just as...,heel, is at the bottom of the body, the advent of the Messiah will occur when the world has sunk to the nadir of its history (Radak).
     Morality will deteroriate to the extent that man will have ‘the face of a dog’; this that people iwll have the audacity of a wild beast, which shows no regard for anyone and growls at every passerby...When Messiah’s footsteps are heard...brazen audacity will increase, in unprecedented proportions. Students will defy their teachers, children will curse their parents and all authority will be ridiculed (Sanhedrin 97a; Sotah 49b) (Tehillim/Psalms, A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer (Brooklyn: 1977), Psalm 89:52, p. 1119). return to index


Psalm 110:1, 2

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 2.9

In the decree of the Prophets it is written Behold My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high (Isa. 52:13), and it is also written Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth (Isa. 42:1). In the decree of the Writings it is written, The Lord said unto my lord: “Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Ps. 110:1), and it is also written I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the Ancient of days, and he was brought near before Him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him (Dan. 7:13, 14).
      In another comment, the verse is read I will tell of the decree: The Lord said unto me: Thou art My son...Ask of Me, and 1 will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of she earth for thy possession (Ps. 2:7, 8). R. Yudan said: All these goodly promises are in the decree of the King, the King of kings, who will fulfill them for the lord Messiah (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2:9). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Ps. 18:29

R. Yudan said in the name of R. Hama: In the time to come, when the Holy One, blessed be He, seats the lord Messiah at His right hand, as is said The Lord saith unto my lord: “Sit thou t My right hand” (Ps. 110:1), and seats Abraham at His left, Abraham’s face will pale, and he will say to the Lord: “My son’s son sits at the right, and I at the left!” Thereupon the Holy One, blessed be He, will comfort Abraham, saying: “Thy son’s son is at My right, but I, in a manner of speaking, am at thy right”: The Lord [is] at thy right hand (Ps. 110:5). Hence Thy gentleness hath made me great (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 18:29, p. 261). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

9. AND HE SAID: WHAT PLEDGE SHALL I GIVE THEE? AND SHE SAID: THY SIGNET AND THY CORD, AND THY STAFF THAT IS IN THY HAND (XXXVIII, 18). R. Hunia said: A holy spirit was enkindled within her. THY SIGNET alludes to royalty, as in the verse, Though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon My right hand, etc. (Jer. XXII, 24); AND THY CORD (PETHIL–EKA) alludes to the Sanhedrin, as in the verse, And that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread (pethil) of blue, etc. (Num. XV, 38).
     AND THY STAFF alludes to the royal Messiah, as in the verse, The staff of thy strength the Lord will send out of Zion (Ps. CX, 2) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, LXXXV.9, p. 795). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Numbers

That same staff was held in the hand of every king until the Temple was destroyed, and then it was [divinely] hidden away. That same staff also is destined to be held in the hand of the King Messiah (may it be speedily in our days); as it says, The staff of thy strength the Lord will send out of Zion: Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies (Ps. cx, 2) (Midrash Rabbah Numbers, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Judah J. Slotki, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XVIII.23, p. 744). return to index


Psalm 132:17

Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu

The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Even though you suffered because of the four arrogant king­doms that attacked you, I will bring salvation unto you from the midst of servitude. As it is written: The oil for the light, (Exod. 25:6). This refers to the Messiah, as it is said: there will I make a horn to shoot up unto David, there have I ordered a lamp for Mine anointed (Ps. 132: 17) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Exodus 7.7, p. 524). return to index


Micah 4

Targum on Micah

And you, O anointed One of Israel, who have been hidden away because of the sins of the congregation of Zion, the kingdom shall come to you, and the former dominion shall be restored to the of the congregation of Jerusalem (The Targum of the Minor Prophets, Translation with a Critical Introduction, Apparatus, and Notes by Kevin J. Cathcart and Robert P. Gordon (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1987), The Aramaic Bible, Volume 14, Micah 4:8, p. 120). return to index


Micah 5:2

Targum Jonathan

And you, O Bethlehem Ephrath, you who were too small to be numbered among the thousands of the house of Judah, from you shall come forth before Me the Messiah, to exer­cise dominion over Israel, he whose name was mentioned from before, from the days of creation. Then they shall be handed over for the length of time it takes a woman in labor to give birth, and the children of Israel shall rely upon the rest of their brethren. And he shall arise and rule with the might of the Lord, in the exalted name of the Lord his God; and they shall be gathered in from the midst of their Dispersions, for now his name shall be great unto the ends of the earth (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974) return to index

Targum on Micah

And you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you who were too small to be numbered among the thousands of the house of Judah, from you shall come forth before me the anointed One, to exercise dominion over Israel, he whose name was mentioned from of old, from ancient times (The Targum of the Minor Prophets, Translation with a Critical Introduction, Apparatus, and Notes by Kevin J. Cathcart and Robert P. Gordon (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1987), The Aramaic Bible, Volume 14, Micah 5:2). return to index


Micah 7:16

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

UNTIL SHILOH COMETH: he to whom kingship belongs (shelo).
AND UNTO HIM SHALL THE OBEDIENCE YIKHAS) OF THE PEOPLES BE. This alludes to him who will set on edge (makheh) the teeth of all the nations, as it says: The nations shall see and be put to shame for all their might, they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf (Micah VII, 16) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCIX.8, p. 982). return to index

Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu

The scepter shall not depart from Judah (Gen. 49:10). This alludes to the scepter of kingship, as it is said: The throne given of God is forever and ever; a scepter of equity is the scepter of Thy kingdom (Ps. 45:7).
     Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet (Gen. 49:10). When the king will come to whom kingship belongs (i.e., the Mes­siah), and concerning whom it is written: The crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden underfoot (Isa. 28:3).
     Until Shiloh come (Gen. 49:10), for the kingdom is his.
     And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be (ibid.). This refers to the one who will shatter the teeth (break the power) of the nations (i.e. the Messiah), as it is said: The nations shall see and be put to shame for all their might; they shall lay their hands upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf (Micah 7:16) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Genesis 12.10, p. 301). return to index


Jeremiah 16:13

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

The school of R. Shila said: The Messiah’s name is ‘Shiloh’, as it is stated, Until Shiloh come (Gen. XLIX, 10), where the word is spelt Shlh. The School of R. Hanina said: His name is ‘Haninah’ as it is stated, I will not give you Haninah (Jer. XVI, 13). The School of R. Jannai said: His name is ‘Yinnon’; for it is written, E’er the sun was, his name is Yinnon (Ps. LXXII, 17). R. Biba of Sergunieh said: His name is ‘Nehirah’ as it is stated, And the light (nehorah) dwelleth with Him (Dan. II, 22), where the word is spelt nehirah (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, pp. 137-138). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b

Rab said: The world was created only on David’s account. Samuel said: On Moses’ account; R. Johanan said: For the sake of the Messiah. What is his [the Messiah’s] name?—The School of R. Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until Shiloh come (Gen. 49:10). The School of R. Yannai said: His name is Yinnon, for it is written, His name shall endure forever: e’er the sun was, his name is Yinnon (Ps. LXXII, 17). The School of R. Haninah maintained: His name is Haninah, as it is written, Where I will not give you Haninah (Jer. XVI, 13). Others say: His name is Menahem the son of Hezekiah, for it is written, Because Menahem [‘the comforter’], that would relieve my soul, is far. The Rabbis said: His name is ‘the leper scholar,’ as it is written, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted (Isa. LIII, 4) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 98b, pp. 667-668). return to index


Jeremiah 23:5-6

Targum Jonathan

‘Woe unto the leaders who destroy and scatter the people over whom My name is called,’ says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concern­ ing the leaders who lead my people: ‘You have scattered My people, and made them exiles, and have not been con­ cerned about them. Behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your deeds,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will gather the remnant of My people from all the countries to which I had exiled them, and I will return them to their place, and they shall increase and become nu­merous. And I will raise up for them leaders and they shall provide for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be broken, nor moved, says the Lord.’
      ‘Behold, days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Messiah, and he shall reign as king, and prosper, and shall enact a righteous and Meritorious law in the land. In his days they of the house of Judah shall be delivered, and Israel shall live in security. And this is the name which they shall call him: “May vindication be accomplished for us by the Lord in his day.”’
‘     Therefore, behold, days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when they shall no longer be talking about the might of the Lord who brought the children of Israel up out of the land of Egypt, But they shall be talking about the might of the Lord who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries to which I had exiled them, and they shall dwell on their own land’ (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 68-69). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Baba Bathra 75b

R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Johanan: Three were called by the name of the Holy One; blessed be He, and they are the following: The righteous, the Messiah and Jerusalem. [This may be inferred as regards] the righteous [from] what has just been said. [As regards] the Messiah—it is written: And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness (Jer. XXIII, 6) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezekin, Vol. II, Baba Bathra 75b, p. 303). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

BECAUSE THE COMFORTER IS FAR FROM ME, EVEN HE THAT SHOULD REFRESH MY SOUL. What is the name of King Messiah? R. Abba b. Kahana said: His name is ‘the Lord’; as it is stated, And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness (Jer. XXIII, 6). For R. Levi said: It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king, and the name of its king identical with that of its God. ‘It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king,’ as it is written, And the name of the city from that day shall be the Lord is there (Ezek. XLVIII, 35). ‘And the name of its king identical with that of its God,’ as it is stated, ‘And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness: R. Joshua b. Levi said: His name is ‘Shoot’, as it is stated, Behold, a man whose name is Shoot, and who shall shoot up out of his place, and build the temple of the Lord (Zech. VI, 12). R. Judan said in the name of R. Aibu: His name is ‘Comforter’, as it is said, THE COM­FORTER IS FAR FROM ME. R. Hanina said: They do not really differ, because the numerical value of the names is the same, so that ‘Comforter’ is identical with ‘Shoot’(Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, pp. 135-136). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 2.2

God will call the king Messiah after His own name, for it is said of the king Messiah This is his name whereby he shall be called: The Lord our righteousness (Jer. 23:6) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2:2). return to index


Jeremiah 30:9

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b

Rab Judah said in Rab’s name: The Holy One, blessed be He, will raise up another David for us, as it is written, But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them (Jer. XXX.9): not ‘I raised up’, but ‘I will raise up’ is said (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 98b, p. 668). return to index

The Targum of Jeremiah

And it shall be at that time, says the Lord of Hosts, that I will break the yoke of the nations from your necks, and I will cast off your chains; and the nations shall not again enslave Israel. And they shall worship before the Lord their God, and shall obey the Anointed, the son of David, their king whom I will raise up for them (The Targum of Jeremiah, Translated by Robert Hayward (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1987), The Aramaic Bible, Volume 12, Jeremiah 30:8-10, p. 128). return to index


Jeremiah 33:15

Targum Jonathan

Thus says the Lord of Hosts: “There shall again be, in his place which is waste, without man or even beast, and in all its cities, dwellings, houses for the shepherds to rest and sheepfolds for the sneep. In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the south, in the land of the tribe of Benjamin, in the surroundings of Jerusalem, and in the cities of the tribe of Judah, the people shall yet rehearse the words of the Messiah,” says the Lord.
      “Behold, days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will fulfill the firm word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time, I will raise up for David a righteous Messiah, who shall enact a righteous and meritorious law in the land.
     In those days, they of the house of Judah shall be delivered, and Jerusalem shall dwell in security and this is the name which they shall call her: ‘May vindication be accomplished for us by the Lord in her midst.’ For thus says the Lord: “There shall never cease for David a man sitting on the throne of the kingdom of the house of Israel.
     And for the priests, the Levites, there shall never cease a man before Me to offer up burnt offerings, to offer the sacrifice, and to perform the sacrificial functions all the days.” And word of divine prophecy came to Jeremiah, saying: “Thus says the Lord: Just as it is impossible for the covenant which I have made with the day and with the night to be nullified, so that day and night will not occur at their appointed time,
      So also cannot the covenant which I have established with David My servant be broken, so that he will not have a son reigning on his throne, and the Levitical priests who minister before Me. As it is impossible for the host of heaven to be counted and for the sands of the sea to be measured, so will I make numerous the descendants of David My servant, and the Levites who minister before Me.”
     And the word of prophecy was from the Lord with Jeremiah saying: “Have you not seen what this people are speaking, saying: ‘The two families which the Lord has chosen, He has re­jected them.’ And they have scandalized My people, so that they can no more be a people to minister before Me as had been assigned to them.
     Thus says the Lord: Just as it is impossible to nullify the covenant which I have established with the day and the night, as I have not appointed the fixed laws of heaven and earth to disappear; Similarly, I will not cast off the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, from whose sons there shall come those who rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for I will bring back their Dispersions and I will have mercy upon them” (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 74-77). return to index

Thus says the Lord God: “I Myself will bring near a child from the dynasty of the house of David, which is likened to the tall cedar, and I will raise him up from his children’s children; I will anoint and establish him by My Memra like a high and exalted mountain. On the mountain of the Holy One of Israel will I establish him, and he shall gather together armies and build forts and become a mighty king; and all the righteous shall rely upon him, and all the humble shall dwell in the shade of his kingdom. All the kings of the nations shall know that I, the Lord, have humbled the kingdom which was mighty, and have made mighty the kingdom which was weak: I have hum­ bled the kingdom of the nations which was mighty as a green tree, and have made mighty the kingdom of the house of Israel which was as weak as a dried out tree. I, the Lord, have decreed by My Memra, and I will fulfill it” (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 78). return to index

Targum of Jeremiah

13. In the cities of the mountain, in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities of the south, and in the land of the tribe of Benjamin and in the environs of Jerusalem, in t he cities of the house of Judah, the people shall yet eagerly pursue the words of the Messiah, says the Lord. 14. Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will establish the upright word that I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and concerning the house of Judah. 15. In those days and at that time I will raise for David an anointed one of righteousness, and he shall perform true justice and righteousness in the land (The Targum of Jeremiah, Translated by Robert Hayward (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1987), The Aramaic Bible, Volume 12, Jeremiah 33:13-15, p. 141). return to index


Ezekiel 17

Targum Jonathan

Thus says the Lord God: “I Myself will bring near a child from the dynasty of the house of David, which is likened to the tall cedar, and I will raise him up from his children’s children; I will anoint and establish him by My Memra like a high and exalted mountain. On the mountain of the Holy One of Israel will I establish him, and he shall gather together armies and build forts and become a mighty king; and all the righteous shall rely upon him, and all the humble shall dwell in the shade of his kingdom. All the kings of the nations shall know that I, the Lord, have humbled the kingdom which was mighty, and have made mighty the kingdom which was weak: I have hum­ bled the kingdom of the nations which was mighty as a green tree, and have made mighty the kingdom of the house of Israel which was as weak as a dried out tree. I, the Lord, have decreed by My Memra, and I will fulfill it” (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 78). return to index


Zechariah 4:7

Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu

From whom will the Messiah descend? From Zerubbabel. Why was he called Zerubbabel? Because he was born in Babel (Babylonia). From whom did Zerubbabel descend? From David, as it is said: And Solomon’s son was Rehoboam; Abi­jah his son…and Delaiah, and Anani, seven (I Chron. 3:10­24). To whom does Anani refer? To the Messiah, as is said: For who hath despised the day of small things? Even they shall see with joy the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel, even these seven (Zech. 4:10). And it is written elsewhere: I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with clouds (ananei) of heaven, one like unto a son of man (Dan. 7:13).
     Even these seven. What is indicated by the phrase even these seven? The word seven is explained by what is written con­cerning the King Messiah: Who hath despised the day of small things?…even these seven (Zech. 4:10). That is why it is said: Who art thou, O great mountain. Scripture states elsewhere con­cerning him: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor (Isa. 11:4), and he shall bring forth the top stone with shoutings of “Grace, grace, unto it” (Zech. 4:7). After that it is written: And then was the iron, the clay, the brass…broken in pieces together…and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:35). Thus it is said: Who art thou, O great mountain? From whence shall he come? He shall come by way of the mountain path, as is said: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings (Isa. 52:7) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Genesis 6.14, p. 182-183). return to index

The Yalkut

Who art thou, O great mountain (Zech. iv.7.) This refers to the King Messiah. And why does he call him ‘the great mountain?’ Because he is greater than the patriarchs, as it is said, ‘My servant shall be high, and lifted up, and lofty exceedingly’—he will be higher than Abraham, who says, ‘I raise high my hands unto the Lord’ (Gen. xiv.22); lifted up above Moses, to whom it is said, ‘Lift it up into thy bosom’ (Num. xi.12); loftier than the ministering angels, of whom it is written, ‘Their wheels were lofty and terrible’ (Ez. i.18). And out of whom does he come forth? Out of David (Yalkut ii.571. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 9). return to index

B’reshith Rabbah of R. Mosheh Had Darshan

And Jacob went forth from Beersheba. This is that which is written, ‘I will lift mine eyes unto the hills: O whence cometh my help’ (Ps. cxxi.1)? and, ‘Who art thou, 0 great mountain’ (Zech. iv.7)? The great mountain means the Messiah, and why does he speak of him thus? Because he is greater than the patriarchs, as it is said, ‘Behold my servant shall prosper’ (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 33). return to index


Zecharaiah 6:12

Targum Jonathan

Say unto him: Thus says the Lord of Hosts saying: ‘Behold the man whose name is “The Messiah.” He is destined to be revealed and to be anointed, and he shall build the Temple of the Lord. He shall build the Temple of the Lord, and he will bear the radiance, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and there shall be a high priest on his throne, and there shall be a counsel of peace betwen the two of them’ (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 99). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Numbers

The double peh hinted at Jacob, in the expression, Hazzileni na—deliver me, I pray Thee (Gen. XXXII, 12). which informed him that He would deliver him in both worlds. The double peh hinted at Israel, through Moses, in the words, Pakod pakadti—I have surely remembered you (Ex. III, 16). The double zade is hinted at in the verse, Behold, a man whose name is the shoot (zemah), and who shall shoot up (yizmah), etc. (Zech. VI, 12). This refers to the Messiah, of whom it also says, I will raise unto David a righteous shoot (zemah zaddik), and he shall reign as king and prosper, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. The captain of fifty (Isa. III, 3) (Midrash Rabbah Numbers, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Judah J. Slotki, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XVIII.21, p. 734). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

BECAUSE THE COMFORTER IS FAR FROM ME, EVEN HE THAT SHOULD REFRESH MY SOUL. What is the name of King Messiah? R. Abba b. Kahana said: His name is ‘the Lord’; as it is stated, And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness (Jer. XXIII, 6)… For R. Levi said: It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king, and the name of its king identical with that of its God. ‘It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king,’ as it is written, And the name of the city from that day shall be the Lord is there (Ezek. XLVIII, 35). ‘And the name of its king identical with that of its God,’ as it is stated, ‘And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteous­ness: R. Joshua b. Levi said: His name is ‘Shoot’, as it is stated, Behold, a man whose name is Shoot, and who shall shoot up out of his place, and build the temple of the Lord (Zech. VI, 12) (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, pp. 135-136). return to index

B’reshith Rabbah of R. Mosheh Had‑Darshan

I have learnt it from the words of R. Mosheh had‑Darshan: The redeemer whom I shall raise up from among you will have no father, as it is written, ‘Behold the man whose name is Zemah [branch], and he shall branch up out of his place’ (Zech. vi.12) ; and so Isaiah says, ‘And he came up like a sucker,’ etc. Says R. B’rekhyah, The Holy One said to Israel, You have spoken before me, saying, We are orphans and have no father (Lam. v. 3): the redeemer whom I shall raise up out of your midst will have no father also, as it is said, ‘Behold the man whose name is the Branch, and he shall branch up out of his place’ (Zech. vi.12); and similarly by Isaiah, ‘And he came up as a sucker before him’ (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 33). return to index

Rabbi Mosheh Ben Maimon

What is to be the manner of Messiah’s advent, and where will be the place of his first appearance? He will make his first appearance in the land of Israel, as it is written, ‘ The Lord, whom ye seek, will come suddenly to his temple’ (Mal. iii.1); but as to the manner of his appearance, until it has taken place, thou canst not know this so as for it to be said of him that he is ‘the son of such a one, and is of such and such a family:’ there shall rise up one of whom none have known before, and the signs and wonders which they shall see performed by him will be the proofs of his true origin; for the Almighty, where he declares to us his mind upon this matter, says, ‘Behold a man whose name is the Branch, and he shall branch forth out of his place’ (Zech. vi.12). And Isaiah speaks similarly of the time when he will appear, without his father or mother or family being known, He came up as a sucker before him, and as a root out of the dry earth, etc. (From The Letter to the South, (Yemen) by Rabbi Mosheh Ben Maimonides, as given in Qobez. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 374). return to index


Zechariah 8:12

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

Though these things were created in their ful­ness, yet when Adam sinned they were spoiled, and they will riot again return to their perfection until the son of Perez [viz. Messiah] comes; [for in the verse] These are the toledoth (generations) of Perez’, toledoth is spelled fully, with a waw. These are they: his lustre, his immortality, his height, the fruit of the earth and the fruit of trees, and the luminaries. Whence do we know it of his lustre?—But they that love him shall be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might (Judg. v, 31). His immortality?­—For as the days of a tree shall be the days of My people (Isa. LXV, 22). His height?—And I will make you go upright­—komemiuth (Lev. XXVI, 13). R. Hiyya taught: That means, with an erect bearing, fearing no creature. R. Judan said: It indicates a height of one hundred cubits. R. Simeon said: Two hundred. R. Eleazar b. R. Simeon said: Three hundred.
     Whence do we know it? From the word ‘komemiuth’: komah implies one hundred cubits, while miuth implies [another] two hundred cubits. R. Abbahu said: Nine hundred cubits. R. Berekiah stated R. Abbahu’s reason in R. Dosa’s name: A sycamore tree continues growing in the earth six hundred years, while an infant comes out from his mother’s womb a cubit and a half [in length]: go and calculate, a cubit and a half per annum, which gives nine hundred cubits. Whence do we know it of the fruit of the earth and the fruit of the tree?—For as the seed of peace, the vine shall give her fruit, etc. (Zech. VIII, 12). The luminaries?—Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days (lsa. xxx, 26) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XII.6, p. 92-93). return to index


Zecharaiah 9:9

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 60.3

Upon Edom do 1 cast My shoe (Ps. 60:10) to trample it under foot, as is said The foot shall trample it down (Isa. 26:6). This is the foot of the Holy One, blessed be He, for Scripture says, “Yea, I trod them in Mine anger, and trampled them in My fury” (Isa. 63:3). Even the feet of the poor (Isa. 26:6): that is, the king Messiah, “‘poor, and riding upon an ass” (Zech. 9:9), will trample Edom down, and so, too, will The steps of the needy (Isa. 26:6), that is, the steps of Israel of whom it is said “And Israel was greatly impoverished” (Judg. 6:6) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 60:3). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a

R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. It is written. in its time [will the Messiah come]. whilst it is also written I [the Lord] will hasten it!—If they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time. 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. VII, 13); whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee. . .] lowly, and riding upon an ass!’ (Zech. IX, 7)—If they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven (Dan. VII, 13); if not, lowly and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9). King Shapur said to Samuel. ‘Ye maintain that the Messiah will come upon an ass: I will rather send him a white horse of mine.’ He replied, ‘Have you a hundred–hued steed?’ (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 98a, pp. 663-664). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 99a

R. Hillel. 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, 0 daughter of Zion; shout, 0 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 (Zech. IX, 9) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 99a, p. 669). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 56b

If one sees an ass in a dream, he may hope for salvation, as it says, Behold thy king cometh unto thee; he is triumphant and victorious, lowly and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Zera‘im 56b, p. 350). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

R. Isaac said: This place shall one day be alienated from its Owner. For ever? [No], for it is stated, This is My resting-place for ever, here will I dwell for I have desired it,. (Ps. CXXXII, 14)—when he comes of whom it is written, Lowly, and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. I, LVI.2, p. 492). return to index

This is the common idiom: an ass, a camel. The Rabbis maintained: Ox is an allusion to the one anointed for battle, (Footnote: The Messiah who would conduct the final war; according to tradition he would be descended from Joseph, and would be the forerunner of the real Messiah, descended from David) as it says, His firstling bullock, majesty is his (Deut. XXXIII, 17); (Footnote: This refers to Joseph, and is understood to allude to the Messiah descended from him). Ass refers to the royal Messiah, for it says of him, Lowly, and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, LXXV.6, p. 698). return to index

9. BINDING HIS FOAL (‘IRO) UNTO THE VINE (XLIX, II). R. Judah, R. Nehemiah, and the Rabbis discuss this verse. R. Judah explained it: When a vine has a poor yield, an ass is tied to it, [and this too is the meaning of] AND HIS ASS’S COLT (BENI ATHONO) UNTO THE CHOICE VINE. HE WASHETH HIS GAR­MENTS IN WINE, means in white wine. AND HIS VESTURE IN THE BLOOD OF GRAPES, means in red wine…The Rabbis interpreted: ‘I,’ [said God], am bound to the vine and the choice vine’ [Israel]. HIS FOAL AND HIS COLT intimate: when he will come of whom it is written, Lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass (Zech. IX, 9) (Footnote: Sc. The Messiah). (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVIII.9, p. 957). return to index

UNTIL SHILOH COMETH: he to whom kingship belongs (shelo).
AND UNTO HIM SHALL THE OBEDIENCE YIKHAS) OF THE PEOPLES BE. This alludes to him who will set on edge (makheh) the teeth of all the nations, as it says: The nations shall see and be put to shame for all their might, they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf (Micah VII, 16). Another interpretation of, AND UNT0 HIM SHALL THE OBEDIENCE (YIHAS) OF THE PEOPLES BE—him to whom the nations of the world will flock (mithkahalin), as it says, The root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek (Isa. XI, 10).
     BINDING HIS FOAL UNTO THE VINE (XLIX, II). This alludes to him who will gather together all Israel who are called a vine, as it says, Thou didst pluck up a vine out of Egypt (Ps. LXXX, 9). AND HIS ASS’S COLT UNTO THE CHOICE VINE alludes to him of whom it is written, Lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass (Zech. IX, 9) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCIX.8, pp. 982-983). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Ecclesiastes

R. Berekiah said in the name of R. Isaac: As the first redeemer was, so shall the latter Redeemer be. What is stated of the former redeemer? And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass (Ex. IV, 20). Similarly will it be with the latter Redeemer, as it is stated, Lowly and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9). As the former redeemer caused manna to descend, as it is stated, Behold, I will cause to rain bread from heaven for you (Ex. XVI, 4), so will the latter Redeemer cause manna to descend, as it is stated. May he be as a rich cornfield in the land (Ps. LXXII, 16). As the former redeemer made a well to rise, so will the latter Redeemer bring up water, as it is stated, And a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim (Joel IV, 18) (Midrash Rabbah Ecclesiastes (London: Soncino Press, 1939), I.9, p. 33). return to index

Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu

It is because of the reward given to those who devote themselves to the Torah that Isaiah declared: Happy are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth freely the feet of the ox and the ass (ibid. 32:20). The words that sow beside all waters refer to those who devote themselves to the study of the Torah, which is compared to water, as it is said: Ho! Everyone that thirsteth, come ye for water (ibid. 55: 1); the word ox alludes to the Messiah of the House of Joseph, who is compared to an ox; and the ass refers to the Messiah of the House of David, for it is said of him: Lowly and riding upon an ass (Zech. 9:9) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Genesis I, p. 7). return to index

1. I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now. and I have oxen, and asses and flocks, and man­servants and maid-servants (Gen. 32:5-6)…Asses. The word ass alludes to the Messiah the son of David, as it is said: Lowly and riding upon an ass (Zech. 9:9) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Genesis 8.1, p. 201). return to index

Pesikta Rabbati

Submissive, and yet He promises salvation (Zech. 9:9) de­scribes the Messiah, for when they laughed at him while he sat in prison, he submitted for the sake of Israel to the judgment imposed on him, and is therefore properly called submissive. Why is he spoken of as yet he promises salvation? Because after submitting to the judgment for their sake, he said: All of you deserve extermination; nevertheless, you will be saved, every one of you, by the mercy of the Holy One, blessed be He.
     Afflicted, and he is riding upon an ass (ibid.) describes the Messiah. And why is he called afflicted? Because he was afflicted during all his years in prison while transgressors in Israel laughed at him.
     Why does Scripture say riding upon an ass? The ass represents the wicked who have no merit of their own and can manage to get along only by resorting to the merit of their fathers. But through the merit of the Messiah, the Holy One, blessed be He, shields them <and guides them> in a straight way, and redeems them, as is said They shall come with weeping, and with supplcations will I lead them; I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters, in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble; for I am become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My first–born (Jer. 31:9) (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 34.2, pp. 667-668). return to index

Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer

Abraham rose up early in the morning, and he took with him Ishmael, and Eliezer, and Isaac his son, and he saddled the ass. Upon this ass did Abraham ride. This was the ass, the offspring of that ass which was created during the twilight, as it is said, “And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass” (ibid. 3). The same ass was also ridden upon by Moses when he came to Egypt, as it is said…And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon the ass” (Ex. iv.20). This same ass will be ridden upon in the future by the Son of David, as it is said, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion: shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee: he is just, and saved: lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt, the foal of an ass” (Zech. ix.9) (Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer, Gerald Friedlander, Translator (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1971), Chapter 31, pp. 224-225). return to index

The Yalkut

Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion, behold thy King cometh unto thee meek and riding upon an ass”...This is the ass, the foal of that she–ass which was created in the twilight. This is the ass which Abraham our father saddled for the binding of Isaac his son. This is the ass(too) upon which Moses our tecaher rode when he came to Egypt, as it is said, “And he made them ride upon the ass” (Ex. iv.20). This is the ass (too) upon which the Son of David shall ride (The Yalkut on Zechariah, Edward G. King, Translator (London: Cambridge, Deighton, Bell & Co., 1882), Hint 575, pp. 48–49). return to index

Rabbi Yehoshuah ben Levi met Elijah who was sitting at the entrance of the cave of Rabbi Shimeon ben Yochai. He said to him, When will Messiah come? He (Elijah) replied, Go and ask him Himself. He said to him, And where does He dwell? He replied, At the entrance of Rome. He said to him, And what are His marks (whereby He may be distinguished)? he replied, he is sitting among the poor and those burdened with sicknesses, and they all of them unloose their bandages and bind them up again all at once, but He unbinds one and binds up one, for He says, Perhaps I may be wanted, and I must not delay. He went to Him and said to Him, Peace be to Thee my Teacher and my Lord. He (the Messiah) replied, Peace be to thee son fo Levi. He said to Him, When will my Lord come? He replied, To–day.
     On the morrow he met Elijah, he came to him and said to him, What did he say to thee? He replied, He told me false. He (i.e. Elijah) said to him, What did he tell thee? He replied, I said to Him, Peace be unto Thee my Teacher and my Lord. He said to me, Peace be unto thee son of Levi. Moreover He said to me, I saw that they (i.e. the Family above) have secured unto thee and to thy father that you are of those that inherit the future world. Then I said to Him, When will Messiah come? He replied, To–day. He (Elijah) said to him, “To–day—if ye will hear His voice” (Ps. xcv.).
     Alexandri said, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi propounded a difficulty. It is written, “And lo, with the clouds of heaven” (Dan. vii.13); but it is also written, “Meek and riding upon an ass” (Zech. ix.9). If they (i.e. Israel) are meritorious then, “With the clouds of heaven”; if they are not meritorious then, “Meek and riding upon an ass.”
      Shabor–malka said to Shemuel (his court physician), Ye say that Messiah comes “Riding upon an ass”; I would lend Him that lightening steed of mine. He answered him, Hast thou got one of so many shining colours? (The Yalkut on Zechariah, Edward G. King, Translator (London: Cambridge, Deighton, Bell & Co., 1882), Hint 576, pp. 49–51). return to index

Rabbi Mosheh Ben Nahman

And wisdom will accompany this elevation of the Messiah, and his nearness to God: for neither Abraham, whom the glorious and fearful Name speaks of as his friend (Is. xli.8), and with whom also he made a covenant; nor Moses, who was nearer to the Deity than any man; nor the ministering angels, who ‘stand round about him on his right hand and on his left’ (2 Kings xxü.29), approach so closely to the knowledge of the Almighty as the Messiah; for of him it is written that he ‘came to the Ancient of days,’ and that they ‘brought him near before him’ (Dan. vii.13), but of the angels it is only said that ‘ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.’
     And hence Isaiah writes that he will be high in the understanding enabling him to comprehend the Deity, and exalted and lofty in the knowledge of his blessed name, more than all who were born before him: though to be ‘greater than the angels’ is said also of others, besides the Messiah, who are righteous. The text continues, referring still to the Messiah, As many were astonished at thee. Their astonishment was shewn by mocking him when he first arrived, and by asking how one ‘despised,’ ‘meek and riding upon an ass’ (Zech. ix.9), could conquer all the kings of the world who had laid hold upon Israel, and rescue him from their hand: so acted Pharaoh towards Moses, when he mocked him, as he says (Ex. vi.12), ‘How will Pharaoh listen to me?’ (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 79-80). return to index

Rabbi Sh’muel Lanyado

...for Messiah son of David will be ‘just and victorious’ (Zech. ix.9), and so far from being despised and forlorn of men, that ‘unto him will the Gentiles seek’ (Is. xi.10) (From the Jewel orf Gold, a Commentary on Isaiah by R. Sh’muel bar Abraham Lanyado, of Aleppo. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 300). return to index

Commentary on Daniel by Rabbi Hersh Goldwurm

With the clouds of heaven (i.e., suddenly and swiftly). Unlike the earlier beasts which came from the depths of the stormy sea, here we have one in human likeness coming with the clouds of heaven. He will have conquered earthliness and will float on clouds formed of his Torah and Mitzvos, which, like the clouds, soar high above this world (Malbim). R’ Yehoshua ben Levi asked, Here it is written, with the clouds of heaven (implying the swift arrival of the Messianic King). [Elsewhere] is written a poor man and riding upon an ass (Zechariah 9:9), (implying sluggishness on the part of the Messiah). [And he repiled] ‘If they merit it [he will come] with the clouds. But if they do not merit it [he will surely come but but sluggishly] like a poor man upon an ass’ (Sanhedrin 98a; parentheses Rashi ibid.).
One like a man came. This is the King Messiah (Rashi) (Daniel, A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Hersh Goldwurm, (Brooklyn: Mesorah, 1979), p. 206). return to index


Zecharaiah 12:10

The Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 52a

What is the cause of the mourning [mentioned in the last cited verse]?—R. Dosa and the Rabbis differ on the point. One ex­plained, The cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, and the other explained. The cause is the slaying of the Evil Inclination. It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse, And they shall look upon me because they have thrust him through. and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son (Zech. XII,10) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Mo‘ed, Vol. III, Sukkah 52a, p. 246). return to index

The Yalkut

Zechariah xii.12: And the land shall mourn...That mourning? What was it all about? R. Yose and the (non–named) Rabbis differ on the point. The one says, It is for Messiah, the son of Joseph when he is killed; and the other says, It is for the Evil Yetzer (Desire)...when it is killed. All is clear in the case of him that says, It is for Messiah the son of Joseph when he is killed, for then we can understandwhat is written, “And they shall look upon him whom they pierced and they shall lament for him, &c. (Zech. xii.10) (The Yalkut on Zechariah, Edward G. King, Translator (London: Cambridge, Deighton, Bell & Co., 1882), Hint 581, pp. 69–70). return to index


Daniel 2:22, 34, 35, 44

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

6. R. Judah b. Simon quoted: And He revealeth the deep and secret things—mesatratha (Dan. II, 22). ‘The deep things’ are the Gehenna, as it is written, But he knoweth not that the shades are there; that in the depths of the nether world are her guests (Prov. IX, 18). ‘And secret things’ refers to the garden of Eden, as it is written, And for a refuge and for a covert (le-mistor), etc. (Isa. IV, 6).2 Another interpretation: ‘And He revealeth the deep things’ refers to the deeds of the wicked, as it is written, Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord (ib. XXIX, I5). He knoweth what is in the darkness (Dan. loco cit.): this too refers to the deeds of the wicked, as it is written, And their works are in the darkness (Isa. loco cit.). And the light dwelleth with Him (Dan. loco cit.) refers to the deeds of the righteous, as it is written, Light is sown for the righteous (Ps. XCVII, 11). R. Abba of Serungayya said: ‘And the light dwelleth with him’ (Dan. II, 22) alludes to the royal Messiah (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, I.6, p. 3). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Numbers

He offered the dish and the basin as symbols of the kings of the House of David who would in time to come spring from him and who would reign supreme on sea and on land, kings like Solomon and the King Messiah. How do we know it of Solomon? Because it is written, For he had dominion over all the region of this side the River, from Tipsah even to Gaza (I Kings V, 4)…How do we know the same of the King Messiah? Because it is written, He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River unto the ends of earth (Ps. LXXII, 8). How do we know that he will hold sway on land? Because it is written, All kings shall prostrate themselves before him, all nations shall serve him (ib.11) and it also says, Behold, there came with the clouds of heal one like unto a son of man…and there was given unto him dominion…that all the peoples…should serve him etc. (Dan. VII, 14); And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (II.35) (Midrash Rabbah Numbers, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Judah J. Slotki, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XIII.14, pp. 527, 528). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

The school of R. Shila said: The Messiah’s name is ‘Shiloh’, as it is stated, Until Shiloh come (Gen. XLIX, 10), where the word is spelt Shlh. The School of R. Hanina said: His name is ‘Haninah’ as it is stated, I will not give you Haninah (Jer. XVI, 13). The School of R. Jannai said: His name is ‘Yinnon’; for it is written, E’er the sun was, his name is Yinnon (Ps. LXXII, 17). R. Biba of Sergunieh said: His name is ‘Nehirah’ as it is stated, And the light (nehorah) dwelleth with Him (Dan. II, 22), where the word is spelt nehirah (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, pp. 137-138). return to index

Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu

Even these seven. What is indicated by the phrase even these seven? The word seven is explained by what is written con­cerning the King Messiah: Who hath despised the day of small things?…even these seven (Zech. 4:10). That is why it is said: Who art thou, O great mountain. Scripture states elsewhere con­cerning him: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor (Isa. 11:4), and he shall bring forth the top stone with shoutings of “Grace, grace, unto it” (Zech. 4:7). After that it is written: And then was the iron, the clay, the brass…broken in pieces together…and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:35). Thus it is said: Who art thou, O great mountain? (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Genesis 6.14, p. 183).
     Another comment. Why is it compared to vessels of clay? For it will in the future be handled like a clay vessel. He (Daniel) saw the coming of the Messiah (in his vision), as Daniel said: Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces (Dan. 2:34). R. Simeon the son of Lakish contended: This verse refers to the Messiah. Smote the image alludes to all the kingdoms that serve idols. Why is the rule of the Messiah likened to stone? It is likened to stone because of the Torah in which Israel labors, as it is said: The two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God (Exod. 31:18)…Another explanation. He is likened to stone because it destroyed a heart of stone, as it is written: And I will remove the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart flesh (Ezek. 36:21). Which smote the image (Dan. 2:34) indicates that He will put an end to all the nations, as is said: And he shall smite the land with the rod of His mouth (Isa. 11:4) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Exodus 7.7, p. 525-526). return to index

Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer

Ten kings ruled from one end of the world to the other. The first king was the Holy One, blessed be He, who rules in heaven and on earth, and it was His intention to raise up kings on earth, as it is said, “And he changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Dan. ii.21).
     The second king was Nimrod…The third king was Joseph… The fourth king was Solomon…The fifth king was Ahab…The sixth king was Nebuchadnezzar…The seventh king was Cyrus…The eighth king was Alexander of Macedonia…The ninth king is King Messiah, who, in the future, will rule from one end of the world to the other, as it is said, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea” (Ps. lxxii.8); and another Scripture text says, “And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Dan. ii.35) (Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer, Gerald Friedlander, Translator (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1971), Chapter XI, pp. 80-83). return to index

Rabbi Ishmael said: in the future the children of Ishmael will do fifteen things in the land (of Israel) in the latter days, and they are: They will measure the land with ropes; they will change a cemetery into a resting–place for sheep (and) a dunghill; they will measure with them and from them upon the tops of the mountains; falsehood will multiply and truth will be hidden; the statutes will be removed far from Israel; sins will be multiplied in Israel; worm–crimson will be in the wool, and he will cover with insects paper and pen; he will hew down the rock of the kingdom, and they will rebuild the desolated cities and sweep the ways; and they will plant gardens and parks, and fence in the broken walls of the Temple; and they will build a building in the Holy Place; and two brothers will arise over them, princes at the end; and in their days the Branch, the Son of David, will arise, as it is said, “And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed” (Dan. ii.44) (Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer, Gerald Friedlander, Translator (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1971), Chapter 30, pp. 221-222). return to index

B’reshith Rabbah of R. Mosheh Had Darshan

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This is that which is written, ‘There is light sown for the righteous’ (Ps. xcvii.11). R. Abba says, ‘And with him dwelleth light’ (Dan. ii.22): this is the light of the King Messiah; and so it is said, ‘For with thee is the fountain of life, in thy light do we see light’ (Ps. xxxvi.10)—that is, the light of the Messiah (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 33-34). return to index


Daniel 7:13-14

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a

R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. It is written. in its time [will the Messiah come]. whilst it is also written I [the Lord] will hasten it!—If they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time. 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. VII, 13); whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee...] lowly, and riding upon an ass!’ (Zech. IX, 9)—If they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven (Dan. VII, 13); if not, lowly and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9). King Shapur said to Samuel. ‘Ye maintain that the Messiah will come upon an ass: I will rather send him a white horse of mine.’ He replied, ‘Have you a hundred–hued steed?’ (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 98a, pp. 663-664). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Numbers

He offered the dish and the basin as symbols of the kings of the House of David who would in time to come spring from him and who would reign supreme on sea and on land, kings like Solomon and the King Messiah. How do we know it of Solomon? Because it is written, For he had dominion over all the region of this side the River, from Tipsah even to Gaza (I Kings V, 4)…How do we know the same of the King Messiah? Because it is written, He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River unto the ends of earth (ib. LXXII, 8). How do we know that he will hold sway on land? Because it is written, All kings shall prostrate themselves before him, all nations shall serve him (ib.11) and it also says, Behold, there came with the clouds of heal one like unto a son of man…and there was given unto him dominion…that all the peoples…should serve him etc. (Dan. VII, 14); And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (ib. 35) (Midrash Rabbah Numbers, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Judah J. Slotki, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XIII.14, pp. 527, 528). return to index

Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu

From whom will the Messiah descend? From Zerubbabel. Why was he called Zerubbabel? Because he was born in Babel (Babylonia). From whom did Zerubbabel descend? From David, as it is said: And Solomon’s son was Rehoboam; Abi­jah his son…and Delaiah, and Anani, seven (I Chron. 3:10–­24). To whom does Anani refer? To the Messiah, as is said: For who hath despised the day of small things? Even they shall see with joy the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel, even these seven (Zech. 4:10). And it is written elsewhere: I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with clouds (ananei) of heaven, one like unto a son of man (Dan. 7: 13) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Genesis 6.14, p. 182). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 2:9

In the decree of the Prophets it is written Behold My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high (Isa. 52:13), and it is also written Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth (Isa. 42:1). In the decree of the Writings it is written, The Lord said unto my lord: ‘Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool’ (Ps. 110:1), and it is also written I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the Ancient of days, and he was brought near before Him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him (Dan. 7:13, 14).
     In another comment, the verse is read I will tell of the decree: The Lord said unto me: Thou art My son...Ask of Me, and 1 will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of she earth for thy possession (Ps. 2:7, 8). R. Yudan said: All these goodly promises are in the decree of the King, the King of kings, who will fulfill them for the lord Messiah (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2:9). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 21:5

5. For Thou shalt make him most blessed for ever (Ps. 21:7) means that all the nations shall bless themselves in the king Messiah (Psalm 21). Thou shalt make him exceeding glad with Thy countenance (Ps. 21:7). R. Berechiah said in the name of R. Samuel: One verse reads of the king Messiah that One, like the son of man...came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before Him (Dan. 7:13), but in another verse God says, I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto Me (Jer. 30:21). How reconcile the two? Angels will bring the king Messiah to the outer edge of their encampment, and then the Holy One, blessed be He, will reach out His hand and bring the king Messiah near to Him. Hence it is said I will cause him to draw near. (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 21.5). return to index

The Yalkut

Rabbi Yehoshuah ben Levi met Elijah who was sitting at the entrance of the cave of Rabbi Shimeon ben Yochai. He said to him, When will Messiah come? He (Elijah) replied, Go and ask him Himself. He said to him, And where does He dwell? He replied, At the entrance of Rome. He said to him, And what are His marks (whereby He may be distinguished)? he replied, he is sitting among the poor and those burdened with sicknesses, and they all of them unloose their bandages and bind them up again all at once, but He unbinds one and binds up one, for He says, Perhaps I may be wanted, and I must not delay. He went to Him and said to Him, Peace be to Thee my Teacher and my Lord. He (the Messiah) replied, Peace be to thee son fo Levi. He said to Him, When will my Lord come? He replied, To–day.
     On the morrow he met Elijah, he came to him and said to him, What did he say to thee? He replied, He told me false. He (i.e. Elijah) said to him, What did he tell thee? He replied, I said to Him, Peace be unto Thee my Teacher and my Lord. He said to me, Peace be unto thee son of Levi. Moreover He said to me, I saw that they (i.e. the Family above) have secured unto thee and to thy father that you are of those that inherit the future world. Then I said to Him, When will Messiah come? He replied, To–day. He (Elijah) said to him, “To–day—if ye will hear His voice” (Ps. xcv.).
     Alexandri said, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi propounded a difficulty. It is written, “And lo, with the clouds of heaven” (Dan. vii.13); but it is also written, “Meek and riding upon an ass” (Zech. ix.9). If they (i.e. Israel) are meritorious then, “With the clouds of heaven”; if they are not meritorious then, “Meek and riding upon an ass.”
      Shabor–malka said to Shemuel (his court physician), Ye say that Messiah comes “Riding upon an ass”; I would lend Him that lightening steed of mine. He answered him, Hast thou got one of so many shining colours? (The Yalkut on Zechariah, Edward G. King, Translator (London: Cambridge, Deighton, Bell & Co., 1882), Hint 576, pp. 49–51). return to index

Rabbi Mosheh Ben Nahman

And wisdom will accompany this elevation of the Messiah, and his nearness to God: for neither Abraham, whom the glorious and fearful Name speaks of as his friend (Is. xli.8), and with whom also he made a covenant; nor Moses, who was nearer to the Deity than any man; nor the ministering angels, who ‘stand round about him on his right hand and on his left’ (2 Kings xxü.29), approach so closely to the knowledge of the Almighty as the Messiah; for of him it is written that he ‘came to the Ancient of days,’ and that they ‘brought him near before him’ (Dan. vii.13), but of the angels it is only said that ‘ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.’
     And hence Isaiah writes that he will be high in the understanding enabling him to comprehend the Deity, and exalted and lofty in the knowledge of his blessed name, more than all who were born before him: though to be ‘greater than the angels’ is said also of others, besides the Messiah, who are righteous. The text continues, referring still to the Messiah, As many were astonished at thee. Their astonishment was shewn by mocking him when he first arrived, and by asking how one ‘despised,’ ‘meek and riding upon an ass’ (Zech. ix.9), could conquer all the kings of the world who had laid hold upon Israel, and rescue him from their hand: so acted Pharaoh towards Moses, when he mocked him, as he says (Ex. vi.12), ‘How will Pharaoh listen to me?’ (The exposition of R. Mosheh ben Nahman of Gerona. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 79-80). return to index

Rabbi Mosheh Kohen Ibn Crispin

But this one will be exalted far above Moses for when he gathers together our scattered ones from the four corners of the earth, he will be exalted in the eyes of all the kings in the whole world, and all of them will serve him, and will exalt him above them, as Daniel prophesies concerning him, ‘All nations, peoples, and tongues shall serve him’ (Dan. vii.14, 27). He will be loftier than Solomon, whose dignity was so lofty that he is said to have ‘sat on the throne of the Lord’ (I Chron. xxix.23 ), and our Rabbis say that he was king over both the upper and the nether world. But the King Messiah, in his all­comprehending intelligence, will be loftier than Solomon (The Commentary of R. Mosheh ’Ibn Crispin of Cordova, afterwards of Toledo. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 102). return to index

Commentary on Daniel by Rabbi Hersh Goldwurm

With the clouds of heaven (i.e., suddenly and swiftly). Unlike the earlier beasts which came from the depths of the stormy sea, here we have one in human likeness coming with the clouds of heaven. He will have conquered earthliness and will float on clouds formed of his Torah and Mitzvos, which, like the clouds, soar high above this world (Malbim). R’ Yehoshua ben Levi asked, Here it is written, with the clouds of heaven (implying the swift arrival of the Messianic King). [Elsewhere] is written a poor man and riding upon an ass (Zechariah 9:9), (implying sluggishness on the part of the Messiah). [And he repiled] ‘If they merit it [he will come] with the clouds. But if they do not merit it [he will surely come but but sluggishly] like a poor man upon an ass’ (Sanhedrin 98a; parentheses Rashi ibid.).
One like a man came. This is the King Messiah (Rashi) (Daniel, A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Hersh Goldwurm, (Brooklyn: Mesorah, 1979), p. 206). return to index


Isaiah 3:3

Midrash Rabbah, Numbers

The double peh hinted at Jacob, in the expression, Hazzileni na—deliver me, I pray Thee (Gen. XXXII, 12). which informed him that He would deliver him in both worlds. The double peh hinted at Israel, through Moses, in the words, Pakod pakadti—I have surely remembered you (Ex. III, 16). The double zade is hinted at in the verse, Behold, a man whose name is the shoot (zemah), and who shall shoot up (yizmah), etc. (Zech. VI, 12). This refers to the Messiah, of whom it also says, I will raise unto David a righteous shoot (zemah zaddik), and he shall reign as king and prosper, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. The captain of fifty (Isa. III, 3) (Midrash Rabbah Numbers, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Judah J. Slotki, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XVIII.21, p. 734). return to index


Isaiah 9:5-6

Targum of Isaiah

The prophet saith to the house of David, A child has been born to us, a son has been given to us; and he has taken the law upon himself to keep it, and his name has been called from of old, Wonderful counsellor, Mighty God, He who lives forever, the Anointed one (or Messiah), in whose days peace shall increase upon us (The Targum of Isaiah, J.F. Stenning, Editor and Translator (Oxford: Clarendon, 1949), p. 32). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Deuteronomy

Another explanation: He said to him: ‘I have yet to raise up the Messiah,’ of whom it is written, For a child is born to us (Isa. IX, 5) (Midrash Rabbah Deuteronomy, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rev. Dr. J. Rabbinowitz, Translator (London: Soncino Press), I.20, p. 22). return to index

Pesikta Rabbati

And why is he called Gabriel, a name made up of the words Gapri (“My means whereby I prevail”) and ’EI (“God”)? Because it is written of Judah For Judah pre­vailed (gabar) above his brethren (I Chron. 5:2), and it is also written of a scion of Judah And his name is called “Wonder­ful in counsel is God the Mighty (EI Gibbor)” (Isa. 9:5) (Footnote: Refers to Hezekiah and the Messiah) (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 46.3, p. 793). return to index

Rabbi Yepheth Ben ‘Ali.

Driver and Neubauer comment: On this passage (Is. 9:6) Ben ‘Ali writes as follows: ‘The prophet means that the dominion of the Messiah will be greater than that of any other king of Israel; for David and Solomon ruled over Israel and the kings of nations which surrounded them, but the dominion of Messiah will extend over the whole world, as it is written, ‘Let him have dominion from sea to sea’ (Ps. lxxii.8); ‘Behold, I have given him for a witness, a prince, and a commander to the peoples;’ and again, ‘Behold, thou shalt call a nation thou knowest not’ (Is. lv. 4, 5): accordingly the prophet speaks here of the increase of his government.
     Moreover, although there was peace and tranquillity in the time of Solomon, yet after his death the state of affairs was disturbed and reversed; but in the time of the Messiah there will be peace over the whole world, as it is written, ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation’ (Is. ii.4). And this peace will have no end: for from the days of the Messiah to the end of all generations the whole world will obey God and his anointed, as is expressed in the words, ‘And of peace there shall be no end’ (The Fifty-Third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver and A.D. Neubauer, Translators (Oxford: James Parker, 1877), pp. 20-21). return to index


Isaiah 11

Targum Jonathan

And a king shall come forth from the sons of Jesse, and the Messiah shall be anointed from among his children’s children. And upon him shall rest the spirit of divine prophecy, the spirit of wisdom and sagacity, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. And the Lord shall bring him near to the worship of Him. He shall not judge according to the sight of his eyes, nor shall he reprove according to the hearing of his ears. But he shall judge the poor in truth, and shall reprove in faithfulness for the needy of the people. He shall smite the guilty of the land with the word of his mouth, and with the speech of his lips he shall slay Armilus the wicked. The righteous shall surround him and the faithful shall be near him.
     In the days of Israel’s Messiah, peace shall abound in the land; the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a small suckling child leading them. And the cow and the bear shall graze, their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The suckling child shall play laughingly over the hole of the winding serpent, and the weaned child shall put his hands over the eyeballs of the venomous snake. They shall do no harm nor destroy on all My holy moun­ tain, for the land shall become full of the knowledge of the worship of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
      And it shall be at that time that kings shall obey the de­scendant of Jesse, who is destined to stand as a sign to the nations, and the place of his dwelling shall be glorious. At that time the Lord shall again show His might a second time, to deliver the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from India, from Elam, from Babylon, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He shall raise a sign to the nations, and shall gather together the scattered of Israel, and shall bring back the Dispersion of Judah from the four directions of the earth. The jealousy of the tribe of Ephraim shall vanish, and they who oppress the tribe of Judah shall be destroyed.
     They of the tribe of Ephraim shall not be jealous of the tribe of Judah, and they of the tribe of Judah shall not oppress the tribe of Ephraim, But they shall put their shoulders together to smite the Philistines who are in the west; together they shall despoil the people of the east; they shall put forth their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall become subservient to them. And the Lord shall dry up the tongue of the sea of Egypt, and He shall raise the striking power of His might over the Euphrates by the word of His prophets, and He shall smite it into seven brooks which they can cross dryshod. And there shall be a paved road for the remnant of His people who are left from the Assyrian, just as there was for Israel on the day of their going up from the land of Egypt (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 49-52). return to index

The Targum on Isaiah

And a king shall come forth from the sons of Jesse, and an Anointed One (or, Messiah) from his sons’ sons shall grow up. And there shall rest upon him a spirit from before the Lord, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord: and the Lord shall bring him to his fear: and not according to the sight of his eyes shall he judge, nor exercise judgement according to the hearing of his ears. But he shall judge with truth the poor, and adjudge with faithfulness the needy among the people; and he shall smite the guilty of the land with the word (Memra) of his mouth, and by the utterance of his lips shall the wicked die. And the righteous shall be round about him, and the faithful shall be brought near unto him. 1n the days of the Anointed One (or, Messiah) of Israel peace shall be multiplied in the land, and the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall dwell with the kid; and the calf and the lion and the fatling together: and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; together shall their young dwell: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the young child shall play on the hole of the viper, and the weaned child shall put his hands on the bright (lit. sight of the) eyeballs of the adder. They shall do no evil, nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the fear of the Lord, like the waters which cover the sea. And it shall come to pass at that time, that the son of the son of Jesse, who is about to arise as a sign to the peoples, to him shall the kingdoms be subject; and his dwelling-place shall be glorious (The Targum of Isaiah, J.F. Stenning, Editor and Translator (Clarendon: Oxford, 1949), pp. 31-32). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 21:1, 3

1. For the leader. A Psalm of David. The king shall joy in Thy strength, O Lord (Ps. 21:1-2). These words are to be read in the light of what Scripture says elsewhere: In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the peoples; unto him shall the nations seek (Isa.11:10) that is, seek the king Messiah, David’s son, who will remain hidden until the time of redemption.’...And the ’äreset of his lips Thou hast not withholden. Selah (Ps. 21:3b). What is meant by the ‘areset of his lips? “The authority (rasut) of his lips”: For when it is reported to the king Messiah, “A certain land is in rebellion against thee,” he will say: “Let locusts come and smite that land,” as is said He shall smite the land with the rod of his mouth (Isa. 11:4); or, when it is reported to him “A certain province is in rebellion against thee,” he will say: “Let the angel of death come and slay the wicked of that province,” as is said With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked (ibid.) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 21:1, 3). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 72.3, 4

Another comment on Give the king Thy judgments O God, and Thy righteousness: here king meansthe King Messiah, of whom it is said And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse...And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him...And he shall ot judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the land (Isa. 11:1a, 3b-c, 4a)...The verse He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor (Ps. 72:4) is like the verse in which it is said of the Messiah, ‘But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the land; and he shall smite the land with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked (Isa. 11:4) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 72:3, 4). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 93b

R. Tanhum said: Bar Kappara expounded in Sepphoris: What is meant by, These six of barley gave he to me? (Ruth III, 17). What are ‘six of barley’? Shall we say it is meant literally? But was it Boaz’s practice to give [only] six barley grains? [93b] But [if it means] six se’ahs, can a woman take six se’ahs?—But he symbolically intimated to her [by giving her six barley grains] that six sons were destined to corne forth from her, who should each be blessed with six blessings. Viz, David. Messiah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. David, for it is written. Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse, the Bethlemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and understanding in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him (I Sam. XVI, 18)…The Messiah—as it is written, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledse of the fear of the Lord. And shall make him of quick understanding [wa–hariho] in the fear of the Lord (lsa. XI, 2f). R. Alexandri said: This teaches that he loaded him with good deeds and suffering as a mill [is laden]. Raba said: He smells [a man] and judges, as it is written. and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears, yet with righteousness shall he judge the poor (Isa. XI, 3f.)
     (Bar Koziba reigned two and a half years, and then said to the Rabbis, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They answered, ‘Of Messiah it is written that he smells and judges: let us see whether he [Bar Koziba] can do so.’ When they saw that he was unable to judge by the scent, they slew him.) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 93b, pp. 625, 626-627). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD HOVERED: this alludes to the spirit of Messiah, as you read, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa. XI, 2) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, II.4, p. 17). return to index

Furthermore, the royal Messiah will be descended from the tribe of Judah, as it says, And it shall come to pass in that day, that the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek (Isa. XI, 10) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVII, p. 901). return to index

Thus a waw was added to Nahshon, hinting that six righteous men would come forth from his tribe, each of whom was blessed with six virtues…Finally, of the royal Messiah it is written, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (Isa. XI, 2) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVII, p. 902). return to index

9. BINDING HIS FOAL (‘IRO) UNTO THE VINE (XLIX, II). R. Judah, R. Nehemiah, and the Rabbis discuss this verse. R. Judah explained it: When a vine has a poor yield, an ass is tied to it, [and this too is the meaning of] AND HIS ASS’S COLT (BENI ATHONO) UNTO THE CHOICE VINE. HE WASHETH HIS GAR­MENTS IN WINE, means in white wine. AND HIS VESTURE IN THE BLOOD OF GRAPES, means in red wine…The Rabbis interpreted: ‘I,’ [said God], am bound to the vine and the choice vine’ [Israel]. HIS FOAL AND HIS COLT intimate: when he will come of whom it is written, Lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass (Zech. IX, 9) (Footnote: Sc. The Messiah). HE WASHETH HIS GARMENTS IN WINE, intimates that he [the Messiah] will compose for them words of Torah (Footnote: Propound new meanings and interpretations of the Torah.); AND HIS VESTURE IN THE BL00D OF GRAPES—that he will restore to them their errors. R. Banin said: Israel will not require the teaching of the royal Messiah in the future, for it says, Unto him shall the nations seek (Isa. XI, 10)…(Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVIII.9, p. 957).
     UNTIL SHILOH COMETH: he to whom kingship belongs (shelo).
     AND UNTO HIM SHALL THE OBEDIENCE YIKHAS) OF THE PEOPLES BE. This alludes to him who will set on edge (makheh) the teeth of all the nations, as it says: The nations shall see and be put to shame for all their might, they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf (Micah VII, 16). Another interpretation of, AND UNT0 HIM SHALL THE OBEDIENCE (YIHAS) OF THE PEOPLES BE—him to whom the nations of the world will flock (mithkahalin), as it says, The root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek (Isa. XI, 10) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCIX.8, pp. 982-983). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Numbers

II. Another reason why “attudim” is written in full and the other word with a superfluous waw. It alludes to the six sons descended from Nahshon who were possessed of six blessings. They are the following: David, the Messiah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. How do we know it of David? Because it is written, “Skilful in playing,” etc. (I Sam. XVI, 18). ‘The Messiah’? Because it is written, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; the spirit of wisdom and understanding (Isa. XI, 2), this makes two; The spirit of counsel and might (ib.) makes four; The spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (ib.) makes six (Midrash Rabbah Numbers, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Judah J. Slotki, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XIII.11, pp. 522-523). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Ruth

The fifth interpretation makes it refer to the Messiah. COME HITHER: approach to royal state. AND EAT OF THE BREAD refers to the bread of royalty; AND DIP THY MORSEL IN THE VINEGAR refers to his sufferings, as it is said, But he was wounded because of our trans­gressions (Isa. LIII, 5). AND SHE SAT BESIDE THE REAPERS, for he will be deprived of his sovereignty for a time, as it is said, For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken (Zech. XIV.2). AND THEY REACHED HER PARCHED CORN, means that he will be restored to his throne, as it is said, And he shall smite the land with the rod of his mouth (Isa. XI, 4) (Midrash Rabbah Ruth, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. L. Rabinowitz, Translator (London: Soncino Press), V.6, p. 64).
     R. Judah b. Simon said: The meaning is that as a reward for, AND HE MEASURED SIX BARLEYS AND LAID [THEM] ON HER, he was vouchsafed that there should arise from her six righteous men, each one of them possessing six outstanding virtues, viz. David, Hezekiah, Josiah, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, Daniel, and the Messiah…The Messiah, as it is said, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, etc. (Isa. Xl, 2) (Midrash Rabbah Ruth, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. L. Rabinowitz, Translator (London: Soncino Press), VII.2, pp. 82-83). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, The Song of Songs

Which is this? The generation of the Messiah, as it says, For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle (Zech. XIV, 2). And how do we know that he will inspire fear? Because it says, And he shall smite the land with the rod of his mouth (Isa. XI, 4) (Midrash Rabbah, The Song of Songs (London: Soncino Press), VI.10,1, p. 269). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

The following story supports what R. Judan said in the name of R. Aibu: It happened that a man was ploughing, when one of his oxen lowed. An Arab passed by and asked, ‘What are you?’ He answered, ‘I am a Jew: He said to him, ‘Unharness your ox and untie your plough’ [as a mark of mourning]. ‘Why?’ he asked. ‘Because the Temple of the Jews is destroyed.’ He inquired, ‘From where do you know this?’ He answered, ‘I know it from the lowing of your ox: While he was conversing with him, the ox lowed again. The Arab said to him, ‘Harness your ox and tie up your plough, because the deliverer of the Jews is born.’ ‘What is his name?’ he asked; and he answered, ‘His name is “Comforter”: ‘What is his father’s name?’ He answered, . Hezekiah: ‘Where do they live?’ He answered, ‘In Birath ‘Arba in Bethlehem of Judah.’
     The man sold his oxen and plough and bought felt garments for children. He journeyed from one city to another and from one province to another until he reached that place. All the villagers came to buy garments from him, but the mother of that child made no purchase of him. He asked her, ‘Why do you not buy children’s felt garments?’ She answered, ‘Because a hard fate is in store for my child: ‘Why?’ he asked; and she answered, ‘Because close on his coming the Temple was destroyed.’ He said to her, ‘We trust in the Lord of the Universe that as close on his coming it was destroyed so close on his coming it will be rebuilt.’ He continued, ‘Take some of these felt garments for your child and after some days I will come to your house to collect the money: She took some and departed. After some days the man said, ‘I will go and see how the child is getting on.’ He came to the woman and asked, ‘How is the child?’ She answered, ‘Did I not tell you that a hard fate is in store for him? Misfortune has dogged him. From the time [you left] there have been strong winds and a whirlwind came and carried him off: He said to her, ‘Did I not tell you at his coming [the Temple] was destroyed and at his coming it will be rebuilt?’ R. Abun said: Why should I learn this from an Arab when there is an explicit text wherein it is stated, And Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one (Isa. x, 34), which is followed by, And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a twig shall grow forth out of his roots (Isa. XI, 1)? (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, pp. 136-137). return to index

Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu

And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be (Gen. 49:10). This refers to the one who will shatter the teeth (break the power) of the nations (i.e. the Messiah), as it is said: The nations shall see and be put to shame for all their might; they shall lay their hands upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf (Micah 7:16).
      Another comment on And unto him shall be obedience of the peoples be (Gen. 49:10): He is the one for whom the peoples will assemble, as is said: The root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek (Isa. 11:10) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Genesis 12.10, p. 301).
     Why is the rule of the Messiah likened to stone? It is likened to stone because of the Torah in which Israel labors, as it is said: The two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God (Exod. 31:18)…Another explanation. He is likened to stone because it destroyed a heart of stone, as it is written: And I will remove the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart flesh (Ezek. 36:21). Which smote the image (Dan. 2:34) indicates that He will put an end to all the nations, as is said: And he shall smite the land with the rod of His mouth (Isa. 11:4) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Exodus 7.7, p. 525-526). return to index

Pesikta Rabbati

You find that at the very beginning of the creation of the world, the king Messiah had already come into being, for he existed in God’s thought even before the world was created. Of his existence Scripture says, And there came forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse (Isa. 11:1); it does not say “And there shall come forth” <but And there came forth>, implying that the shoot out of the stock of Jesse had already come forth…But where is the proof that the king Messiah existed from the be­ginning of God’s creation of the world? The proof is in the verse And the spirit of God moved, words which identify the king Messiah, of whom it is said “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him” (Isa. 11:2) (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 33.6, p. 641, 642-643). return to index

The other mercy refers to the time when he will come forth out of prison, a time when not one kingdom nor two kingdoms nor three kingdoms will beset him, but one hundred and forty kingdoms will encompass him. And the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to him: Ephraim, My true Messiah, do not be afraid of them, for all these will die by the breath of thy lips, as is said And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked (Isa. 11:4) (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 37.1, p. 687). return to index

Zohar

But when Israel comes forth from exile, all the soaring spheres will touch down upon this opening, one by one. Then human beings will perceive wondrous, precious wisdom never known by them before, as it is written: ‘The spirit of YHVH shall alight upon him: a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of design and power, a spirit of knowledge and awe of YHVH’ (Isaiah 11:2). All these are destined to alight upon the opening below, the opening of the Tent. All these are destined to alight upon King Messiah so that he may judge the world, as it is written: ‘He shall judge the poor with righteousness...’ (Isaiah 11:4) (Zohar, Daniel Chanan Matt, Translator (Ramsey: Paulist, 1983), Zohar on Genesis, p. 67). return to index

Pirkê of Rabbi Eliezer

By these three attributes it will be rebuilt in the future, as it is said, “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge are the chambers filled” (Prov. xxiv. 3, 4). With these three attributes will the Holy One, blessed be He, give three good gifts to Israel in the future, as it is said, ‘For the Lord will give wisdom, out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” (ibid. ii. 6). It is not said, “The Lord has given wisdom.” These three attributes will be given to King Messiah, as it is said, “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isa. xi.2) (Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer, Gerald Friedlander, Translator (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1971), Chapter III, pp. 18-19). return to index

Rabbi Mosheh Ben Nahman

He shall lengthen days, viz. for ever and ever, as it is written (Ps. xxi.5), ‘Length of days for ever and ever;’ and so it is said in the Pirqê of Rabbi Eliezer, ‘As it is written (Ps. lxi.7), His years shall be as many generations. And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand: because he will accomplish the Redemption in which the Lord finds his pleasure, and will teach all the Gentiles to ‘understand and know’ the Lord: this is what is meant by the pleasure of the Lord, as it is written, ‘In these is my pleasure’ (Jer. ix. 23 [24 Eng.]). Because of ‘the labour which he saw (experienced) in himself, and because he was satisfied with ‘shame instead of glory’ (Hab. ii.16), therefore by his knowledge he will justify the just, he will know and recognise who are the just that ought to be redeemed; and so in all his judgments he will find out the just, as it is written, He will not judge by the sight of the eyes, etc. (Is, xi.3, 4, etc.); and our iniquities, i.e, those of the many who are mentioned, he will set in order, viz. by disposing them to repentance: cf. I Kings xi. 28, where lbs is equivalent to.the disposition or arrangement of affairs (Ex. v.4) (The exposition of R. Mosheh ben Nahman of Gerona. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 83). return to index

Rabbi Sh’muel Lanyado

...for Messiah son of David will be ‘just and victorious’ (Zech. ix.9), and so far from being despised and forlorn of men, that ‘unto him will the Gentiles seek’ (Is. xi.10) (From the Jewel orf Gold, a Commentary on Isaiah by R. Sh’muel bar Abraham Lanyado, of Aleppo. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 300). return to index

Rabbi Don Yizhaq Abarbanel.

If, on the other hand, our Rabbis have in view Messiah the son of David, then a difficulty arises from the words marred beyond man,’ ‘without form or comeliness,’ for Isaiah himself, so far from calling him ‘despised’ or ‘forlorn of men,’ describes him as God’s ‘chosen one, in whom his soul delights’ (xlii.1), and as the ‘rod out of the stump’ of Jesse, upon whom ‘the spirit of the Lord rests’ (xi.2), and unto whom ‘the Gentiles will seek’ (ver. 10) (Commentary on Isaiah. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 163). return to index

Rabbi Mosheh Kohen Ibn Crispin

And when this ‘servant of the Lord’ is born, from the day when he comes to years of discretion, he will continue to be marked by the possession of intelligence enabling him to acquire from God what it is impossible for any to acquire until he reaches that height whither none of the sons of men, except him, have ever ascended: from that day he will be counted with his people Israel, and will share their subjugation and distress; ‘in all their affliction’ (Is. lxiii.9) he will be exceedingly afflicted; and because of their being outcasts and scattered to the ends of the world, his grief will be such that the colour of his countenance will be changed from that of a man, and pangs and sicknesses will seize upon him (for great grief, as physicians know, by producing melancholy, subjects a man to many diseases); ‘and all the chastisements which come upon him in consequence of his grief will be for our sakes, and not from any deficiency or sin on his part which might bring punishment in their train, because he is perfect, in the completeness of perfection, as Isaiah says (xi.2 f.)... (The Commentary of R. Mosheh ’Ibn Crispin of Cordova, afterwards of Toledo. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 103). return to index

Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer

And this is you splendor - gain success, ride high on truthfulness and righteous humility. May it guide you to awesome deeds with your right hand (vs. 5).
     And ride [high] on truthfulness. Rashi explains that the Torah scholar will issue true and honest decisions, unaffected by external factors. This is also a dsitinctive feature of the Messiah, as Scripture says: And the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge...and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes nor decide after the hearing of his ears (Isaiah 11:2, 3). True faith and sincere belief in Hashem are hallmarks of the Messiah as Isaiah (11:5) says: And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins and faith the girdle of his body (Ibn Yachys; Norah Tehillos). Targum interprets: [Messiah] will ride on a unique royal steed...And right and humility. This alludes to the excellent characteristics of the Messiah (Isaiah11:4): And with righteousness he will judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth (Ibn Yachya)...spirit of knowledge...and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes nor decide after the hearing of his ears (Isaiah 11:2, 3).
     True faith and sincere belief in Hashem are hallmarks of the Messiah as Isaiah (11:5) says: And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins and faith the girdle of his body (Ibn Yachys; Norah Tehillos)...May it guide you to awesome deeds with your right hand...Norah Tehillos comments that Messiah will be endowed with an unerring genius for ‘sniffing out’ the truth, as it says: And he shall smell with the fear of HASHEM (Isaiah 11:3)(Tehillim/Psalms, Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1978), A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Volume 2, Psalm 45:3, p. 564-565). return to index


Isaiah 18:7

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

THE SCEPTRE [STAFF]SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH (XLIX, 10)…Another interpretation: THE SCEPTRE [STAFF] SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH alludes to the Messiah, son of David, who will chastise the State with a staff, as it says, Thou shalt break them with a rod [staff] of iron (Ps. II, 9)…
UNTIL SHILOH COME. This indicates that all the nations of the world will bring a gift to Messiah the son of David, as it says, In that time shall a present be brought (yubal shay) unto the Lord of hosts (Isa. XVIII, 7) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCVII, pp. 906-907). return to index


Isaiah 25:8

Midrash Rabbah, Exodus

­But you will find, with the exception of two places—‘These are the generations of the heaven and the earth’ (Gen. II, 4) and Now these are the generations of Perez (Ruth IV, 18)­ the word ‘toledoth’ whenever it occurs in the Bible is spelt defectively, and for a very significant reason. Thus the word is spelt fully [with a waw] in the case of ‘These are the generations of the heaven and the earth’, because when God created His world, there was no Angel of Death in the world, and on this account is it spelt fully; but as soon as Adam and Eve sinned, God made defective all the ‘toledoth’ mentioned in the Bible. But when Perez arose, his ‘generations’ were spelt fully again, because from him Messiah would arise, and in his days God would cause death to be swallowed up, as it says, He will swallow up death for ever (Isa. XXV, 8)… (Midrash Rabbah, Exodus, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. S. M. Lehrman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), XXX.3, p. 349). return to index


Isaiah 28

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

THE SCEPTRE SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH (XLIX, 10): this refers to the throne of kingship—The throne given of God is for ever and ever, a sceptre of equity is the sceptre of thy kingdom (Ps. XLV, 7). When will that be?—NOR THE RULER’s STAFF FROM BETWEEN HIS FEET: when he comes of whom it is written, The crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden under foot (Isa. XXVIII, 3) (Footnote: Which the Midrash refers to the Messianic era. v. supra, XCVII (NV), P.906). (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Vol. II, XCIX.8, p. 982). return to index

Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu

The scepter shall not depart from Judah (Gen. 49:10). This alludes to the scepter of kingship, as it is said: The throne given of God is forever and ever; a scepter of equity is the scepter of Thy kingdom (Ps. 45:7).
     Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet (Gen. 49:10). When the king will come to whom kingship belongs (i.e., the Mes­siah), and concerning whom it is written: The crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden underfoot (Isa. 28:3) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Genesis 12.10, p. 301). return to index


Isaiah 30:26

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

Though these things were created in their fulness, yet when Adam sinned they were spoiled, and they will riot again return to their perfection until the son of Perez [viz. Messiah] comes; [for in the verse] These are the toledoth (generations) of Perez’, toledoth is spelled fully, with a waw. These are they: his lustre, his immortality, his height, the fruit of the earth and the fruit of trees, and the luminaries. Whence do we know it of his lustre?—But they that love him shall be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might (Judg. v, 31). His immortality?­—For as the days of a tree shall be the days of My people (Isa. LXV, 22). His height?—And I will make you go upright­—komemiuth (Lev. XXVI, 13).
     R. Hiyya taught: That means, with an erect bearing, fearing no creature. R. Judan said: It indicates a height of one hundred cubits. R. Simeon said: Two hundred. R. Eleazar b. R. Simeon said: Three hundred. Whence do we know it? From the word ‘komemiuth’: komah implies one hundred cubits, while miuth implies [another] two hundred cubits. R. Abbahu said: Nine hundred cubits. R. Berekiah stated R. Abbahu’s reason in R. Dosa’s name: A sycamore tree continues growing in the earth six hundred years, while an infant comes out from his mother’s womb a cubit and a half [in length]: go and calculate, a cubit and a half per annum, which gives nine hundred cubits. Whence do we know it of the fruit of the earth and the fruit of the tree?—For as the seed of peace, the vine shall give her fruit, etc. (Zech. VIII, 12). The luminaries?—Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days (lsa. XXX, 26) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XII.6, p. 92-93). return to index


Isaiah 41:27

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

I will reveal unto you the First, as it says, I am the first, and I am the last (Isa. XLIV, 6); and avenge you on the first, viz. Esau, of whom it is written, AND THE FIRST CAME FORTH; and will rebuild for you the first, viz. the Temple, of which it is written, Thou throne of glory, on high from the first, thou place of our sanctuary (Jer. XVII, 12); and will bring you the first, viz. the royal Messiah, of whom it is written, A harbinger [lit. ‘first’] unto Zion will I give: Behold, behold them, and unto Jerusalem, etc. (Isa. XLI, 27) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, LXIII.8, p. 562). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, The Song of Songs

When the Messiah who is in the north shall awake and come and build the Temple which is in the south, as it says, I have roused up one from the north, and he is come (Isa. XLI, 25) (Midrash Rabbah, The Song of Songs (London: Soncino Press), V.I,1, p. 228). return to index


Isaiah 42:1

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 2:9

In the decree of the Prophets it is written Behold My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high (Isa. 52:13), and it is also written Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth (Isa. 42:1). In the decree of the Writings it is written, The Lord said unto my lord: “Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Ps. 110:1), and it is also written I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the Ancient of days, and he was brought near before Him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him (Dan. 7:13, 14).
In another comment, the verse is read I will tell of the decree: The Lord said unto me: Thou art My son...Ask of Me, and 1 will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of she earth for thy possession (Ps. 2:7, 8). R. Yudan said: All these goodly promises are in the decree of the King, the King of kings, who will fulfill them for the lord Messiah (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2:9). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 42/43.5

For from what didst Thou redeem our fathers in Egypt? ‘Was it not from the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppressed them,­ of which God said: Moreover, I have seen the oppression (Ex. 3:9)? For me, too, life is nothing but oppression by an enemy. Then Why must I go about by myself mourning under the oppression of the enemy? Didst Thou not send redemption at the hand of two redeemers to that generation, as is said He sent Moses His servant, and Aaron whom He had chosen (Ps. 105:26)? Send two redeemers like them to this generateration. O send out Thy light and Thy truth; let them lead me (Ps. 43:3), Thy light being the prophet Elijah of the house of Aaron, of which it is written “The seven lamps shall give light in front of the candlestick” (Num. 8:2); and Thy truth being the Messiah, son of David, as is written “The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; He will not turn from it: of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne” (Ps. 132:11). Likewise Scripture says, Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet (Mal. 3:23) who is one redeemer, and speaks of the second redeemer in the verse Behold My servant whom 1 uphold (Isa. 42:1) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 42/43.5, p. 445). return to index

Targum Jonathan

Behold, My servant, the Messiah, whom I bring near, My chosen one, in whom My Memra takes delight; I will place My holy spirit upon him, and he shall reveal My law to the nations. He shall not cry, nor shout, nor raise his voice on the outside. The humble, who are like the bruised reed, he shall not break, and the poor of My people, who are like candles, he shall not extinguish; he shall truly bring forth justice. He shall not faint and he shall not tire until he establishes justice in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his Torah. Thus says the God of the universe, the Lord, who created the heavens and suspended them, who established the earth and its inhabitants, who gives life to the people who are upon it and spirit to those who walk in it. “I, the Lord, have anointed you in righteousness, and have firmly taken you by the hand, and established you, and I have given you as a covenant of the people, as a light of the nations. To open the eyes of the house of Israel, who have been blind to the Torah; to bring back their Dispersions from among the nations, they, who are like prisoners; and to de­liver them, who are imprisoned like prisoners in darkness, from the servitude of the empires. I am the Lord, that is My name, and My glory, which I have revealed unto you, I will not give to any other people, nor My praise to those who worship idols. The former things, behold, they have come to pass, and new things I declare; even before they occur I announce them to you” (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 59-60). return to index

Rabbi Sh’lomoh de Marini

...all three are styled ‘my servant,’ as, for instance, Moses (Josh. i.1), Isaiah himself (xx.3), and others besides; Israel (xliv. 21); and similarly the King Messiah (xlii.1) (From the Reformation of the World, a Commentary upon Isaiah by Rabbi Sh’lomoh ben Yizhaq de Marini, Rabbi in Padua (end of seventeenth century). Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 325). return to index

Rabbi Don Yizhaq Abarbanel.

If, on the other hand, our Rabbis have in view Messiah the son of David, then a difficulty arises from the words marred beyond man,’ ‘without form or comeliness,’ for Isaiah himself, so far from calling him ‘despised’ or ‘forlorn of men,’ describes him as God’s ‘chosen one, in whom his soul delights’ (xlii.1), and as the ‘rod out of the stump’ of Jesse, upon whom ‘the spirit of the Lord rests’ (xi.2), and unto whom ‘the Gentiles will seek’ (ver. io) (Commentary on Isaiah. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 163). return to index

Bruce Chilton, Translator of the Isaiah Targum

Commenting on the identification of the Servant of Isaiah 42:1: Although ‘servant’ language has been used in respect of Israel (41:8), the present usage appears to be messianic...(The Isaiah Targum, Introduction, Translation, Apparatus and notes by Bruce D. Chilton (Wilmington: Michael Glazier), The Aramaic Bible, The Targums, Volume 11, Notes on 42:1-42:7, p. 81). return to index


Isaiah 43

Targum Jonathan

‘You are My witnesses before Me’, says the Lord, ‘and My servant is the Messiah, whom I have chosen...’ (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), p. 62) return to index


Isaiah 49
:23

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 2

3. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed. When the children of Israel will come to the Holy One, blessed be He, [with complaints against their enemies], He will answer, I shall delivers them into your hands (Lam. 3:63): “I shall break their power,” as it is said God the Most High...hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand (Gen. 14:20).
     Should it be reported to the lord Messiah in the time to come, “A certain land is in rebellion against thee,” He will say, “Let locusts come and smite it,” as is said He shall smite the land with the rod of his mouth (Isa. 11:4). Or should it be reported to him, “A certain province is in rebellion against thee,” he will say, “Let the angel of death come and slay, and so destroy it,” as is said And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked (ibid.). And when the kings of the heathen see how great is their affliction, they will come and bow down to the lord Messiah, as is said They shall bow down to thee with their face to the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet (Isa. 49:23) (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2:3). return to index

Pesikta Rabbati

Another comment: But Zion said: “The Lord hath forsaken me.” What comes directly before this verse? The passage con­cerning the king Messiah: Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time have 1 answered thee…and I will fashion thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people…saying to the prisoners: “Go forth”…They shall not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor sun smite them…And I will make all My moun­tains a way…Behold, these shall come from far…Sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth…For the Lord hath com­forted His people, and hath compassion upon His afflicted (Isa. 49:8-13). It is after this passage that we read: But Zion said: “The Lord hath forsaken me.” Why at this point? One would have expected Scripture to have done just the opposite. First one would have expected the verse But Zion said and then the pas­sage on the Messiah. Why then the order as Scripture has it? [Exposition of the entire passage on the Messiah will show why]. In the verse Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time have I answered thee, God apparently is standing and talking with the king Messiah. And yet the text goes on to quote God as saying, and I will fashion thee, as though the Messiah did not yet exist. How then explain the words and I will fashion thee? Our Masters answered: One could recite endlessly the chastisements the Messiah is afflicted with in every generation in keeping with the sins of the generation, but when the Messiah is no longer afflicted, God will say to him: [By relieving you of affliction] I will fashion thee, [so to speak, as a Messiah who will no longer have to suffer], and give thee for a covenant of the people.
     What is meant by the Messiah’s saying to the prisoners: “Go forth?” It means that the Messiah will say Go forth, and so on, to the Ten Tribes who were separated long ago into three com­panies of exiles, one which was banished to the [river] Sambation, one banished to the region beyond the Sambation, and one to Daphne near Riblah where it was swallowed up, as is said “Israel is swallowed up” (Hos. 8:8).
     The Messiah will be saying to the prisoners: “Go forth”—­speaking to those held in Sambation; and to them that are in darkness [he will say], “Show yourselves” (ibid.)—speaking to those held in the region beyond Sambation. As for those swal­lowed up in Riblah, the Holy One, blessed be He, will make passageway after passageway for them, and they will find their way underground through them, until they arrive under the Mount of Olives which is in Jerusalem. And the Holy One, blessed be He, will stand upon the mount, and after it is cleaved open for the exiles, they will come up out of it. As Zechariah says, And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be cleft in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west (Zech. 14:4). At that time, Scripture says, Then shalt thou say in thy heart: “Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have been bereaved of my children, and am solitary, an exile, and wandering to and fro? And who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where were they?” (Isa.49:21) (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 31.10, pp. 616-617). return to index

Then the Holy One, blessed be He, will brighten the light of the king Messiah and of Israel, whilst all the nations of the earth will be in darkness—in gross darkness—and they shall walk, all of them, by the light of the Messiah and of Israel, as is said And nations shall walk at thy light, and kings at the bright­ness of thy rising (Isa. 60:3). And they shall come and lick the dust touched by the feet of the king Messiah, as is said [The inhabitants ot] the isles shall entreat him and lick the dust of his feet (Is. 49:23). And all of them shall come and fall upon their faces before the Messiah and before Israel, and say: Let us be slaves unto thee and unto Israel (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 36.2, p. 682). return to index

The Yalkut

Isaiah 49:9,14: To say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ This speaks of the King Messiah and his redemption of Israel and their restoration to the Land of Israel from the four corners of the earth, even as far as the land of China (Yalkut Shimoni, Isaiah 49:9, 14. Translation by Dr. Amnon Shor). return to index

Isaiah 53 is found as the last listing in this Article.


Isaiah 59:17

Pesikta Rabbati

And when the Messiah appears, He will be clothed in righteousness, as is said, And He put on righteousness as a coat of mail (Isa. 59:17) (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 37.2, p. 689). return to index


Isaiah 60
:3

Pesikta Rabbati

Our Masters taught: When the king Messiah appears, he will come stand on the roof of the Temple and will make a procla­mation to Israel, saying: Meek ones, the day of your redemption is come. And if you do not believe me, behold my light which rises upon you, as is said Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. And it has risen only upon you and not upon the nations of the earth, as is said For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but upon thee the Lord will arise, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.
      Then the Holy One, blessed be He, will brighten the light of the king Messiah and of Israel, whilst all the nations of the earth will be in darkness—in gross darkness—and they shall walk, all of them, by the light of the Messiah and of Israel, as is said And nations shall walk at thy light, and kings at the bright­ness of thy rising (Isa. 60:3). And they shall come and lick the dust touched by the feet of the king Messiah, as is said [The inhabitants ot] the isles shall entreat him and lick the dust of his feet (Is. 49:23). And all of them shall come and fall upon their faces before the Messiah and before Israel, and say: Let us be slaves unto thee and unto Israel (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 36.2, p. 682). return to index

And being white as lambs, Israel will study Torah which is light, and by means of Torah they will see light, as is said For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light we will see light (Ps. 36:10).” “And when will Israel make use of Thy light?” “When the Messiah who is called bullock, as in the verse His firstling bullock, the glory of light will be his (Deut. 33:17), comes: at that time the Messiah will cast the nations of the earth into deep shadow, as is said For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples. But upon thee the Lord will arise” (Isa. 60:2) (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 53.2, p. 887). return to index

The Yalkut

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
The King Messiah is light and Israel receiving the light from the Lord and becoming the center of the world. The nations will look onto Jerusalem and Messiah Ben David will reign from Jerusalem. Also the Messiah will stand on the Temple roof and will say to Israel come here you humble ones this the time of your salvation, and if you do not believe, look onto my light that has shone on you, and at that moment God will shine His light on Messiah and Israel and the whole world will walk in his light (Yalkut Shimoni, Isaiah 60:1. Translation by Dr. Amnon Shor). return to index

Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, A Contemporary Commentary on Psalm 72

Commenting on the phrase there is no moon in verse 7: The prophet Isaiah (60:19,20) describes the Messianic redemption thus: The sun will no longer serve you with light by day, and for uprightness, the moon will no longer give you light; HASHEM will be your etemal light, and your God will be your splendor. Your sun will not set again, nor will your moon be gathered in, for HASHEM will be an everlasting light for you and your days of mourning will be completed (Tehillim/Psalms, Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1978), A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Volume 2, Psalm 72, p. 898). return to index


Isaiah 61:10

Pesikta Rabbati

Another comment: As a bridegroom putteth on a priestly diadem (Isa. 61:10). This text teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, will put upon Ephraim, our true Messiah, a garment whose splendor will stream forth from world’s end to world’s end; and Israel will make use of his light and say: Blessed is the hour in which he was created! Blessed is the womb whence he camel Blessed is the generation whose eyes behold him! Blessed is the eye which yearned and waited for him whose lips open with blessing and peace, whose speech is pure delight, whose heart meditates in trust and tranquility. Blessed is the eye which merits seeing him, the utterance of whose tongue is pardon and forgiveness for Israel, whose prayer is a sweet savor, whose supplication is purity and holiness. Blessed are the for­bears of the man who merited the goodness of the world, the Messiah, hidden for the eternity [to come] (Pesikta Rabbati, William G, Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale University, 1968), Volume II, Piska 37.2, p. 689). return to index


Isaiah 63
:1

Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer

Rabbi Ishmael also said: Three wars of trouble will the sons of Ishmael in the future wage on the earth in the latter days, as it is said, “For they fled away from the swords” (Isa. xxi.15). “Swords” signify only wars, one in the forest of Arabia, as it is said, “ From the drawn sword” (ibid.); another on the sea, as it is said, “From the bent bow” (ibid.); and one in the great city which is in Rome, which will be more grievous than the other two, as it is said, “And from the grievousness of the war” (ibid.). From there the Son of David shall flourish and see the destruction of these and these, and thence will He come to the land of Israel, as it is said, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with crimsoned garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save” (Isa. lxiii.1) (Pirkê de Rabbi Eliezer, Gerald Friedlander, Translator (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1971), Chapter 30, p. 222). return to index


Isaiah 65:22

Midrash Rabbah, Genesis

Though these things were created in their ful­ness, yet when Adam sinned they were spoiled, and they will riot again return to their perfection until the son of Perez [viz. Messiah] comes; [for in the verse] These are the toledoth (generations) of Perez’, toledoth is spelled fully, with a waw. These are they: his lustre, his immortality, his height, the fruit of the earth and the fruit of trees, and the luminaries. Whence do we know it of his lustre?—But they that love him shall be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might (Judg. v, 31). His immortality?­—For as the days of a tree shall be the days of My people (Isa. LXV, 22). His height?—And I will make you go upright­—komemiuth (Lev. XXVI, 13). R. Hiyya taught: That means, with an erect bearing, fearing no creature. R. Judan said: It indicates a height of one hundred cubits. R. Simeon said: Two hundred. R. Eleazar b. R. Simeon said: Three hundred. Whence do we know it? From the word ‘komemiuth’: komah implies one hundred cubits, while miuth implies [another] two hundred cubits. R. Abbahu said: Nine hundred cubits. R. Berekiah stated R. Abbahu’s reason in R. Dosa’s name: A sycamore tree continues growing in the earth six hundred years, while an infant comes out from his mother’s womb a cubit and a half [in length]: go and calculate, a cubit and a half per annum, which gives nine hundred cubits. Whence do we know it of the fruit of the earth and the fruit of the tree?—For as the seed of peace, the vine shall give her fruit, etc. (Zech. VIII, 12). The luminaries?—Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days (lsa. XXX, 26) (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Translator (London: Soncino Press), Volume I, XII.6, p. 92-93). return to index


Isaiah 66
:20

Midrash Rabbah, The Song of Songs

Moreover, the nations will bring the Israelites themselves as a gift to the Messiah. How do we know? Because it says, And they shall bring all your brethren out of all the nations for an offering unto the Lord, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts—kirkaroth (Isa. LXVI, 20) (Midrash Rabbah, The Song of Songs (London: Soncino Press), IV.8,2, p. 208). return to index


Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12

Targum Jonathan

Behold, My servant the Messiah shall prosper; he shall be exalted and great and very powerful. As the house of Israel, their appearance darkened among the nations, and their bright countenance darkened among he children of men, looked for him many days. So shall he scatter many nations. Kings shall be silent con­cerning him, they shall place their hands on their mouths, for that which had not been related to them they have seen, and that which they had not heard they will understand.
      Who would have believed this, our good tidings, and the powerful arm of the might of the Lord, for whom is it now revealed? The Righteous One shall grow up before Him, lo, like sprouting plants; and like a tree that sends its roots by the water‑courses, so shall the exploits of the holy one multi­ply in the land which was desperate for him. His appear­ance shall not be a profane appearance, nor shall the awe of him be the awe of an ignorant person, but his countenance shall radiate with holiness, so that all who see him shall become wise through him.
     Then he shall be contemptuous of, and bring to an end, the glory of all the kingdoms; they shall become weak and afflicted, lo, like a man in pain and accustomed to illness, and like us, when the Shekinah had departed from us, leaving us despised and without esteem.
     Then he shall seek pardon for our sins, and our iniquities shall be forgiven for his sake; though we are considered stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. And he shall rebuild the Temple, which was profaned be­ cause of our sins, and which was surrendered because of our iniquities; through his instruction, his peace shall abound for us, and when we teach his words our sins shall be forgiven us.
      All of us were scattered like sheep, we were exiled, each in his own direction, but it is the will of God to pardon the sins of all of us on his account. He asked in prayer and was answered, and it was accepted even before he could open his mouth; he shall deliver the mighty of the nations like a lamb to the slaughter; and like a lamb that is silent before its shearers, there shall be none to open his mouth and say a word against him. He shall gather in our exiles from their pain and punish­ment. Who shall be able to recount the wonders which shall be performed for us in his days, for he shall remove the domination of the nations from the land of Israel. And the sins which My people have committed, he shall account unto them.
      And he shall deliver the wicked into Gehenna, and those rich in possessions which we had lost, taken by force at death; so that those who commit sin shall not prevail and shall not speak deceitful things with their mouth. It is the will of the Lord to purify and to acquit as innocent the remnant of His people, to cleanse their souls of sin, so that they may see the kingdom of their Messiah, have many sons and daughters, enjoy long life, and observe the Torah of the Lord, prospering according to His will.
      He shall save them from the servitude of the nations, they shall see the punishment of their enemies and be sated with the spoil of their kings. By his wisdom he shall vindicate the meritorious, in order to bring many to be subservientthe meritorious, in order to bring many to be subservient to the Torah, and he shall seek forgiveness for their sins. Then I will apportion unto him the spoil of great nations, and he shall divide as spoil the wealth of mighty cities, because he was ready to suffer martyrdom that the rebellious he might subjugate to the Torah. And he shall seek pardon for the sins of many and for his sake the rebellious shall be forgiven (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 63-66). return to index

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 2.9

In the decree of the Prophets it is written Behold My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high (Isa. 52:13), and it is also written Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth (Isa. 42:1). In the decree of the Writings it is written, The Lord said unto my lord: “Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Ps. 110:1), and it is also written I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the Ancient of days, and he was brought near before Him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him (Dan. 7:13, 14).
     In another comment, the verse is read I will tell of the decree: The Lord said unto me: Thou art My son...Ask of Me, and 1 will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of she earth for thy possession (Ps. 2:7, 8). R. Yudan said: All these goodly promises are in the decree of the King, the King of kings, who will fulfill them for the lord Messiah (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 1959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2:9). return to index

Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu

6.14. A song of ascents. I will lift up mine eyes to the mountains (Ps. 121:1).
Scripture alludes here to the verse Who art thou, 0 great mountain before Zerubbabel? Thou shalt become a plain (Zech. 4:7). This verse refers to the Messiah, the descendant of David. Why was he called a great mountain? Because he will be greater than the patriarchs, as is said: Behold, My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high (Isa. 52:13). He shall be exalted above Abraham; lifted up above Isaac; and shall be very high above Jacob. He shall be exalted above Abraham, concerning whom it is said: I have lifted up my hand unto the Lord (Gen. 14:22); lifted up above Moses, of whom it is said: That thou shouldst say unto me: Carry them in thy bosom (Num. 11:12); and shall be very high like the ministering angels, concerning whom it is said: As for their wings, they were high (Ezek. 1:18). hence Scripture says: Who art thou, O great mountain?…
      Even these seven. What is indicated by the phrase even these seven? The word seven is explained by what is written con­cerning the King Messiah: Who hath despised the day of small things?…even these seven (Zech. 4:10). That is why it is said: Who art thou, O great mountain. Scripture states elsewhere con­cerning him: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor (Isa. 11:4), and he shall bring forth the top stone with shoutings of “Grace, grace, unto it” (Zech. 4:7). After that it is written: And then was the iron, the clay, the brass…broken in pieces together…and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:35). Thus it is said: Who art thou, O great mountain? From whence shall he come? He shall come by way of the mountain path, as is said: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings (Isa. 52:7) (Midrash Tanhuma–Yelammedenu, Samuel A. Berman, Translator (Hoboken: KTAV, 1966), Genesis 6.14, p. 182). return to index

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b

Rab said: The world was created only on David’s account. Samuel said: On Moses’ account; R. Johanan said: For the sake of the Messiah. What is his [the Messiah’s] name?—The School of R. Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until Shiloh come (Gen. 49:10). The School of R. Yannai said: His name is Yinnon, for it is written, His name shall endure forever: e’er the sun was, his name is Yinnon (Ps. LXXII, 17). The School of R. Haninah maintained: His name is Haninah, as it is written, Where I will not give you Haninah (Jer. XVI, 13). Others say: His name is Menahem the son of Hezekiah, for it is written, Because Menahem [‘the comforter’], that would relieve my soul, is far. The Rabbis said: His name is ‘the leper scholar,’ as it is written, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted (Isa. LIII, 4) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezikin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 98b, pp. 667-668). return to index

Midrash Rabbah, Ruth

6. AND BOAZ SAID UNTO HER AT MEAL TIME: COME HITHER, AND EAT OF THE BREAD, AND DIP THY MORSEL IN THE VINEGAR. AND SHE SAT BE­SIDE THE REAPERS; AND THEY REACHED HER PARCHED CORN, AND SHE DID EAT AND WAS SATIS­FIED AND LEFT THEREOF (II, 14). R. Jonathan inter­preted this verse in six ways. The first refers it to David…The second interpretation of COME HITHER, etc., refers it to Solomon…The third interpretation of COME HITHER, etc., refers it to Hezekiah…The fourth interpretation of COME HITHER, etc., refers it to Manasseh…The fifth interpretation makes it refer to the Messiah. COME HITHER: approach to royal state. AND EAT OF THE BREAD refers to the bread of royalty; AND DIP THY MORSEL IN THE VINEGAR refers to his sufferings, as it is said, But he was wounded because of our trans­gressions (Isa. LIII, 5) (Midrash Rabbah Ruth, Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, Editors; Rabbi Dr. L. Rabinowitz, Translator (London: Soncino Press), V.6, pp. 61, 64). return to index

Siphre

R. Yose the Galilaean said, Come forth and learn the righteousness of the King Messiah and the reward of the just from the first man who received but one commandment, a pro­hibition, and transgressed it: consider how many deaths were inflicted upon himself, upon his own generations, and upon those that followed them, till the end of all generations. Which attribute is the greater, the attribute of goodness, or the attri­bute of vengeance He answered, The attribute of goodness is the greater, and the attribute of vengeance is the less; how much more, then, will the King Messiah, who endures aftliction and pains for the transgressors (as it is written, ‘He was wounded,’ etc.) justify all generations! and this is what is meant when it is said, ‘And the Lord made the iniquity of us all meet upon him.’ (Footnote: The argument is this: If Adam’s guilt entailed such consequences upon all his descendants, and the attribute of vengeance or justice is still not so potent as that of mercy, how much more will the sufferings of the Messiah redound to the advantage of all mankind! Compare the similar reasoning of St. Paul. Rom. v. 15-19) (Found in The Fifty-Third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver and A.D. Neubauer, Translators (Oxford: James Parker, 1877), pp. 10-11). return to index

Targum of Isaiah

Is. 52:13-15: Behold, my servant, the Messiah, shall prosper, he shall be exalted and increase, and shall be very strong. Just as the house of Israel hoped for him many days—their appearance were so dark among the peoples, and their aspect beyond that of the sons of men—so he shall scatter many peoples; kings shall be silent because of him, they shall place their hands upon their mouth; for things which have not been told to them they have seen, and that which they have not heard they have understood (The Isaiah Targum, Introduction, Translation, Apparatus and Notes by Bruce D. Chilton (Wilmington: Micjael Glazier, 1987), The Aramaic Bible, Volume 11, p. 103). return to index

Is. 52:13-53:12: Behold, my servant, the Anointed One (or, the Messiah), shall prosper; he shall be exalted, and increase, and be very strong. As the house of Israel hoped (or, waited) for him many days, for his (text, their) appearance was wretched among the nations, and his (text, their) countenance beyond that of the sons of men: so shall he scatter many nations; kings shall be silent because of him (or, it); they shall set their hands upon their mouths: for the things which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heard have they perceived.
     53:1 WHO hath believed these our tidings? and to whom hath the power of the mighty arm of the Lord been so revealed? 2And the righteous shall grow up before him even as budding shoots; and as a tree that sendeth forth its roots by streams of water, so shall the holy generations increase in the land that was in need of him: his appearance shall not be that of a common man, nor the fear of him that of an ordinary man; but his countenance (or, complexion) shall be a holy countenance, so that all who see him shall regard him earnestly. 3Then shall the glory of all the kingdoms be despised and come to an end; they shall be infirm and sick even as a man of sorrows and as one destined for sicknesses, and as when the presence of the Shekinah was withdrawn from us, they (or, we) shall be despised and of no account.
     4Then he shall pray on behalf of our trans­gressions and our iniquities shall be pardoned for his sake, though we were accounted smitten, stricken from before the Lord, and afflicted. 5 But he shall build the sanctuary that was polluted because of our transgressions and given up because of our iniquities; and by his teaching shall his peace be multiplied upon us, and by our devotion to his words our transgressions shall be forgiven us. 6 All we like sheep had been scattered; we had wandered off each on his own way; but it was the Lord’s good pleasure to forgive the transgressions of us all for his sake. He was praying, and he was answered, and before he opened his mouth he was accepted; the mighty ones of the peoples shall he deliver up like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a ewe that before her shearers is dumb, and there shall be none before him opening his mouth or speaking a word. 8 0ut of chastisements and out of punishment shall he bring our exiles near; and the wondrous things that shall be wrought for us in his days who shall be able to recount? for he shall take away the dominion of the peoples from the land of Israel, and the sins which my people sinned shall he transfer unto them.
     9 And he shall deliver the wicked unto Gehinnam, and those that are rich in possessions which they have obtained by violence unto the death of destruction, that those who commit sin may not be established, nor speak deceits with their mouth.10 And it was the Lord’s good pleasure to refine and to purify the remnant of his people, in order to cleanse their soul from sin: they shall look upon the kingdom of their Anointed, One (or, Messiah); they shall multiply sons and daughters, they shall prolong days, and they that perform the law of the Lord shall prosper in his good pleasure. 11 From the subjection of the peoples shall he deliver their soul; they shall look upon the punishment of them that hate them; they shall be satisfied with the spoil of their kings: by his wisdom shall he justify the just, in order to sub­ject many to the law; and for their transgressions shall he make intercession. 12 Then will I divide unto him the spoil of many peoples and the riches of strong cities; he shall divide the booty, because he delivered his soul unto death and subjected the rebellious to the law; and he shall make intercession for many transgressions, and the rebellious shall be forgiven for his sake (The Targum of Isaiah, J.F. Stenning, Editor and Translator (Oxford: Clarendon, 1949), pp. 178-180). return to index

The Yalkut

Who art thou, O great mountain (Zech. iv. 7). This refers to the King Messiah. And why does he call him “the great mountain?’ Because he is greater than the patriarchs, as it is said, ‘My servant shall be high, and lifted up, and lofty exceedingly” (Isa. lii.13) - he will be higher than Abraham, who says, ‘I raise high my hands unto the Lord’ (Gen. xiv.22); lifted up above Moses, to whom it is said, ‘Lift it up into thy bosom’ (Num. xi.12); loftier than the ministering angels, of whom it is written, ‘Their wheels were lofty and terrible’ (Ez. i.18). And out of whom does he come forth? Out of David (Yalkut ii:571. Found in The Fifty-Third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver and A.D. Neubauer, Translators (Oxford: James Parker, 1877), p. 9). return to index

R. Huna, on the authority of R. Aha, says, The chastisements are divided into three parts: one for David and the fathers, one for our own generation, and one for the King Messiah; and this is that which is written, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions,’ etc (Yalkut ii:620, commenting on Psalm 2:6. Found in The Fifty-Third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver and A.D. Neubauer, Translators (Oxford: James Parker, 1877), p. 9). return to index

Isaiah 52:13 “Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.” This is King Messiah that is exalted over the Angels and over Israel’s forefathers (Yalkut Shimoni. Translation by Dr. Amnon Shor). return to index

Yalqut R’ubheni

Who is it that carried our sicknesses and bare our pains Man himself, who first brought death into the world. Now learn what is secret from that which is revealed: Because he carried our sicknesses­for man himself by the rotation [of souls] is Adam, David, and the Messiah—therefore he suffered in order to atone for the sin of our first parent who brought death into the world (From the Midrash Ne‘lam, according to the Yalqut Rubeni (Wilhermsdorf, 1681). Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 396). return to index

Yalqut Hadash

The souls of the righteous wander to and fro in the world; and when they see amongst the sons of men those who are crushed by the sufferings undergone by them for the honour of God, and when they see also those wicked members of the generation who are the cause of the exile being prolonged, they come and announce it to the Messiah. Forthwith the Messiah proceeds into one of the palaces in Paradise called the Palace of the children of sickness; he enters thither and invites all the pains and sufferings of Israel to come and rest upon him. And did he not in this way lighten them off Israel, there would be no man in the whole world able to bear the penalties incurred for transgression of the Law; while Israel were in their own land they freed themselves from such sicknesses and other punishments by means of offerings, but now the Messiah frees them from them, as it is written, He was wounded for our transgressions (From the later Yalkut, the portion styled Souls. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 396). return to index


The Rabbinic Interpretation of Isaiah 53 of the Messiah

YEPHETH BEN ‘ALI

LII.13 The commentators differ concerning this section. The Fayyumi (R. Sa‘adyah Gaon of Fayyum) lost his senses in applying it to the prophets generally, or, according to some authorities, in supposing that it referred to Jeremiah in particular. His explanation is not indeed of a kind towards which any one would feel attracted: and we shall shew the manner in which it may be refuted: for this man attempted the task of interpreting the book of the prophets upon a plan of evolving their meaning out of his own head, and consequently failed to arrive at any consistent view. Some of the learned Qaraites apply the prophecy to the piousb of their own sect, resting their view upon two arguments: In the first place, because their history answers to the descriptions given in this section; and secondly, because of the word wml, which is plural.
     Others of them think the subject of it to be David and the Messiah, saying that all the expressions of contempt, such as ‘many were desolated at thee,’ refer to the seed of David who are in exile; and all the glorious things, such as ‘ behold my servant will be prosperous’ and ‘so shall he sprinkle,’ refer to the Messiah. As to myself, I am inclined, with Benjamin of Nehawend, to regard it as alluding to the Messiah, and as opening with a description of his condition in exile, from the time of his birth to his accession to the throne: for the prophet begins by speaking of his being seated in a position of great honour, and then goes back to relate all that will happen to him during the captivity. He thus gives us: to understand two things:
     In the first instance, that the Messiah will only reach his highest degree of honour after long and severe trials; and secondly, that these trials will be sent upon him as a kind of sign, so that, if he finds himself under the yoke of misfortunes whilst remaining pure in his actions, he may know that he is the desired one, as we shall explain in the course of the section. The expression ‘my servant’ is applied to the Messiah as it is applied to his ancestor in the verse, ‘I have sworn to David my servant’ (Ps. lxxxix.4), as we have already explained on Is. xli.8. The prophet mentions in this verse four grades of dignity which he will rise to successively: I. ישׁכיל, which describes his prosperity at the beginning of his career, when he will be victorious in war, a term used also for his forefather David (I Sam. xviii.14); 2. ירומ, which means he will sit upon the throne of Israel at the time when our lord Elijah will anoint him—this also is applied to David (Ps. lxxxix.20); 3. ונשׁא, referring to the time when he will reign over the entire world, as it is said, ‘Let him have dominion from sea to sea’ (Ps. lxxii.8); 4. מאד וגבה, which means he will reach the highest rank possible; hence the addition of the word מאד. In having the last two expressions applied to him, I mean נשׁא and גבה, the Messiah has the advantage over, his ancestor, as we have explained upon Is. ix.6.
     ‘As many were desolated’ forms here the protasis, of which ‘so shall he sprinkle’ is the apodosis. His condition is described as being such that any one seeing him would be desolated at him, on account of the sicknesses which had befallen him. רבימ signifies the great men who knew him. The prophet explains to them the cause of their desolation concerning him by saying, ‘His countenance was marred beyond any man,’ i.e. the complexion of his face was so changed as to become like that of a corpse. He adds further, ‘And his form beyond the sons of Adam,’ i.e. he was so altered in form as to resemble a corpse: and, alluding to the same fact, he says, towards the end of the section, ‘For he was cut off out of the land of the living.’
     ‘So will he sprinkle’ is the continuation of ‘my servant will prosper,’ and intended to describe the reward which he will receive in this world as a return for the many having been desolated at him. ‘Blood of’ must be supplied before nations. ‘At him the kings shall shut their mouth’ means that the kings of the world will close their mouth when he lays a command or prohibition upon them. The next words admit of a threefold interpretation: 1. what has not been related in their books and what they have not heard from their instructors; 2. what was not told them by those who brought tidings concerning him, like the saying of the Queen of Sheba, ‘the half was not told to me’ (I Kings xi.7); the phrase will then intimate that his glorious reign cannot be described; 3. (a word [כמוהו] must here be supplied), what they had never been told the like of: there have been indeed in Israel and in other nations kings of whose doings they have heard, but when they witness the reign of the Messiah they will know that there was never any king in the world like him.
     LIII. ‘Here begin Israel’s words, in justification of the language of the last verse. They ask, in their amazement, Which of the nations believed the report that was amongst us? not one of them; for they all agreed that there would be for Israel no recovery. ‘Upon whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ i.e. through which nation has the might of God revealed itself; whom nevertheless each one of them boasts to be his master and protector?
Israel turns back now to describe the manner of the Messiah’s birth, comparing him to a young twig or sucker because he is one of the children of David, and to a root because he will become a root like his father David. So says Ezekiel (xvii. 22, 23), ‘From the top of his suckers I will crop off a tender one...and it shall become a goodly cedar.’ The expression ‘he came up’ can be explained in two ways: 1. He came up out of his place like a sucker springing out of a tree: the place intended is Jerusalem; therefore it is said ‘before him,’ i.e. before the Lord, the pronoun relating to the word ‘Lord’ in the preceding verse.
     Or 2. The Messiah came up out of captivity. He then adds, ‘And like a root out of the dry earth,’ meaning; that he resembles a root emerging, sickly and weak, out of the arid soil. This comparison relates to the beginning of his career; and the same is the case with the words ‘he had no form nor comeliness,’ which in no way refer to the period of his sickness. In this respect he differs from his forefather, who during the time that he was king, when great multitudes gathered round him, and he was consequently well known, had both form and comeliness. In the next words Israel describes how when they looked at him they saw in him neither majesty, nor comeliness, nor beauty, yet they desired his company, instead of fleeing from it and hiding themselves, as the words in the verse follow­ing imply that they did afterwards.
      He was ‘ despised,’ i.e. humble in rank on account of his poverty, ‘holding aloof from men,’ i.e. not mixing with them in their banquets and amusements—a natural result of exile, as it is said, ‘He sitteth alone and keepeth silence’ (Lam. iii.28) and ‘a man of pains,’ i.e. afflicted by them, his sufferings being distributed under two heads: 1. מכאובות, signifying external complaints, like pustules; 2. חלי, i.e. internal ones, such as a fever. ‘Like one from whom there is a hiding of faces’ may be explained in two ways: 1. like a man who has arrived at such a condition of affliction and mutilation that men hide their faces from him; 2. like one from whom God had withdrawn his mercy, i.e, his blows resemble those with which the wicked are afflicted. The repetition of the word נבזה can also be explained in two ways: 1. despised on account of poverty, and despised in rank; 2. despised in his own ‘eyes, as it is said of the righteous (Ps. xv.4), ‘He is despised and contemned in his own eyes;’ and despised in the eyes of others, as they say, ‘And we esteemed him not,’ i.e. we did not regard him as the expected one.
     By the words ‘surely he hath carried our sicknesses,’ they mean that the pains and sickness which he fell into were merited by them, but that he bore them instead: the next words ‘yet we did esteem him,’ etc., intimate that they thought him afflicted by God for his own sins, as they distinctly say, ‘smitten of God and afflicted.’ And here I think it necessary to pause for a few moments, in order to explain why God caused these sicknesses to attach themselves to the Messiah for the sake of Israel. We say that God makes known to the people of their own time the excellence of the prophets who intercede for a period of adversity in two ways: 1. whilst Israel’s empire lasted, it was shewn in prayer and intercession, as in the cases of Moses, Aaron, Samuel, David, Elijah, and Elisha, whose prayers for the nation were accepted by God, as it is said, ‘They called upon the Lord and He answered them’ (Ps. xcix.6);
     2. in a time of captivity and extreme wickedness, though their intercession left no such traces as these, yet the burden of the nation’s sins was lightened; such was the case with Ezekiel when God obliged him (iv.4) to sleep 390 days upon his left side and 40 upon the right one; he carried on the first occasion the, iniquity of Israel, and on the second the weight of that of Judah: it is plain from this how great their iniquity must have been, as in fact it is said, ‘The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great’ (Ezek. ix.9); ‘And great is the iniquity of the daughter of my people’ (Lam. iv.6); and in other passages similarly. The nation deserved from God greater punishment than that which actually came upon them, but not being strong enough to bear it (as Amos says, vii.2, ‘O Lord, forgive, I beseech thee; how can Jacob endure, for he is small?’) the prophet had to alleviate it. Inasmuch now as at the end of the captivity there will be no prophet to intercede at the time of distress, the time of the Lord’s anger and of his fury, God appoints his servant to carry their sins, and by doing so lighten their punishment in order that Israel might not be completely exterminated.
     Thus from the words ‘he was wounded for our transgressions,’ we learn two things: 1. that Israel had committed many sins and transgressions, for which they deserved the indignation of God; 2. that by the Messiah bearing them they would be delivered from the wrath which rested upon them, and be enabled to endure it, as it is said, ‘And by associating with him we are healed.’ God indeed will afflict the Messiah with longer and severer sicknesses than Ezekiel; but this is owing to the period in which he lives and to its requirements, and in giving him the rank of a prophet, he will bring his excellence to light. We have no doubt then that Israel’s reward is with God for this world as well as for the next one, as we shall explain on ver. 12. הוא must be explained by which, i.e. the sicknesses which he bore were ours, alluding to the words ‘known of sickness’ in the last verse: the word חלי, which is nearer, is here mentioned first, being followed by מבאובות: he then says with reference to both at once, ‘stricken’ and ‘smitten,’ i.e. stricken with sickness and smitten with pains. The expression ‘smitten of God’ signifies that these sicknesses attacked him by the will of God; they did not arise from natural causes (like humours of the body), or belong to the class of diseases occasioned by change of air: and the word ‘afflicted’ corresponds to ‘ despised’ in ver. 3, the meaning being that he was afflicted with poverty.

     By פשׁע are denoted great sins, such as sorcery, incest, divination, and similar abominations; by עון [lighter] sins, like theft, robbery, etc. מוםר includes those forms of punishment described in the book of the covenant by the word יםר, as ‘I will chastise you’ (Lev. xxvi.28); ‘I will chastise thee in measure’ (Jer. xxx.11). I have translated wnmwlV ‘health,’ as Ps. xxxviii.4, ‘neither is there any health in my bones;’ for although the word literally means peace, it here signifies health. Israel says: This chastisement which the Lord has put upon us, and from which he will heal us, is owing to him (עליו). ובחבורתו means that the Messiah, by participating with them in these pains and sicknesses, will be the cause of their being healed.
     This verse exhibits Israel’s wickedness in not awaking to repentance after God had punished them with his plagues. They are compared in this respect to sheep without a shepherd wandering from the way, and torn by wild beasts, going astray among the mountains, without any to lead them back, as it is said, My sheep wander through all the mountains’ (Ezek. xxxiv. 6). In like manner Israel in captivity has no one to call him, and lead him back to the right way, and if a guide (משׁכיל) rises up to them, desiring to bring them back to it, they hasten to kill him, and so cause their captivity to be prolonged. By the words ‘ we have turned every one to his own way,’ they mean that each is occupied with the necessities of life and with establishing his fortune. And whilst God looks upon their work, and they do not think of their sicknesses, their guilt is thrown upon this guide, as it is said, ‘And the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all: The prophet does not by עון mean iniquity, but punishment for iniquity, as in the passage, ‘Be sure your sin will find you out’ (Num. xxxii. 23). Here the words of Israel end, and the rest of the section contains, as the context shews, the speech of God himself.
     In these two verses seven things are enumerated which God brought upon the Messiah besides the pains and sicknesses mentioned before: 1. נגשׁ, i.e. the exaction of tribute and fines which were laid upon Israel.
     2. נענה, i.e. degradation and defamation—this word follows accordingly נגשׁ.
     3. ‘He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,’ alluding to the times when his life was endangered; the comparison to a sheep is true in three respects: he does not know that they sought to slay him, or that he was being led to the slaughter; he has nobody to assist him by taking up his cause; and he has no power to deliver himself.
     4. ‘And like a lamb which before her shearers is dumb,’ referring to the times both of taxation and of slaughter, when all customary usages are in abeyance; the repetition of the phrase ‘yet he opened not his mouth’ refers to the double period, both while taxes are exacted from him and he suffers defamation, and also when he is dragged away to violence and execution without any possibility of conciliation.
     5, 6. ‘From prison and from judgment,’ implying that he will be imprisoned, condemned by the judges, and loaded with infamy, as it is said, ‘For I have heard the slander of many’ (Ps. xxxi. 14). There are thus three couplets, each consisting of two parallel expressions: 1. ונענה נגשׁ; 2. וכרחל כשׁה; 3. וממשׁפמ מעצר. לקח means that he is liberated from prison by the mercy of God. The words ‘and who shall declare his generation’ mean, Who can describe the multitude of misfortunes which will befal the Messiah and Israel in this generation? 7. ‘He was cut off out of the land of life,’ which may be explained to signify either that he despaired of himself on account of the number of these misfortunes, or that he was cut off from the land of Israel, which is the ‘land of life’ for this nation. And the concluding words of the verse are God’s confirmation of what Israel had said, ‘ he was wounded for our transgressions:’ all these seven troubles which came upon him were ‘because of the transgression of my people, for whom this stroke was,’ i.e. who deserved it; for למו refers here, as is clear from the context, to Israel.
     ‘And he made his grave with the wicked.’ This means that he sometimes despaired so much of his life as either to dig for himself a grave amongst the wicked (i. e. the wicked Israelites), or at least desire to be buried amongst them. The general sense is that he resigned himself to die in exile; for those who die at the time of deliverance will not be buried with the wicked, since the latter are to be slain during a period of misfortune, as it is written, ‘All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword’ (Amos ix.10).
     By the ‘rich’ are meant the powerful men among the Gentiles who are rich while Israel in exile is spoken of as ‘poor and needy:’ at that time some of them will perish, and the prophet here declares how the Messiah will resign himself to die, and be buried in their tomb. The addition ‘because he did no violence’ is intended to mark the difference between the Messiah and those wicked Israelites who, had perished after perpetrating violence and deceit: he means to say that though he made his grave with them he had still never participated in their actions.
     It was said above, ‘The Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all,’ and the prophet repeats the same thought here, saying that God was pleased to bruise and sicken him, though not in consequence of sin. By the word ‘bruise’ he points back to the language of Israel in ver. 5, ‘he was bruised for, our iniquities,’ and ‘made sick’ (החלי) is parallel to ‘ wounded’ (מחלל). The prophet next says, ‘When his soul makes a trespass–offering,’ indicating thereby that his soul was compelled to take Israel’s guilt upon itself, as it is said below, ‘And he bare the sin of many’ (ver.12). Another commentator however understands the phrase as meaning that ‘his soul gave itself in place of a trespass–offering,’ i.e. he gave himself up freely to be slain. But for myself I prefer the former explanation, which also agrees better with the sense and the spirit of the language. Here the narrative of the state of the Messiah ends, and the account of the rewards given to him begins. In the first place, he will see seed...and lengthen days.
     The words ‘and the pleasure of the Lord will prosper in his hands’ embrace three facts: 1. The destruction of the powerful, as it is said, ‘He will do his pleasure upon Babylon and his arm upon the Chaldeans’ (xlviii.14). 2. Israel’s deliverance from exile, and the glorifying of the law and God’s name, as we have explained on Is. xlii.21, ‘The Lord is well pleased to magnify the Law and make it glorious.’ 3. The restoration of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple, as will be explained on the passage, ‘For the Lord hath pleasure in thee’ (Is. lxii.4). All these three facts will be accomplished by him, in accordance with the promise, ‘shall prosper in his hand.’
      This verse is the complement of the preceding one: there it is said, ‘Because he had done no violence;’ and here he adds, ‘By his knowledge shall my righteous servant make many righteous,’ indicating these three things: 1. That be will advance in knowledge till be arrives at truth itself: accordingly the prophet says knowledge, not understanding or wisdom, because it is by knowledge that absolute truth is grasped. 2. That he is a righteous servant, i.e. knowledge and practice in his case coincide, instead of disagreeing as in the case of others (Ps. i.15). 3. That he will lead others to repent, and make them righteous. When these three high prerogatives are united in any single man, his position is already sufficiently exalted: how much more so, then, when, in addition, he ‘ bears the iniquities’ of others! The word many refers here to the multitude of men who will be present before him. From this use of the word you may learn that the expression ‘holding aloof from men’ is not to be understood in an absolute sense: the prophet only intends to convey by it the meaning I have assigned to it above: because if he had never associated with any one at all, how could he have been said to ‘make many righteous?’
     The prophet had said in the preceding verse, ‘From the travail of his soul he shall see and be satisfied:’ and here he proceeds to explain its meaning. In the words ‘I will divide him a portion with the great’ he points to the portion of land which will fall to the Messiah amongst the tribes, as it is said, ‘And for the prince shall there be a portion on one side and on the other of the holy oblation’ (Ezek. xlv.7). ‘And with the mighty he shall divide the spoil’ refers perhaps to the spoil of Gog, which he will take in company with the Israelites, who are here termed the ‘mighty,’ because at that time they will be heroes and strong men, as it is said, ‘And they shall be like strong men, trampling down their enemies’ (Zech. x.5) ; and ‘When I have made thee as the sword of a hero’ (ibid. ix.13). ‘Because he laid bare his soul to die’ is analogous to ‘he was led like a, sheep to the slaughter.’ In saying, ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’ he means that at the time when God will strike the transgressors of Israel with calamities, the Messiah will be numbered amongst them: this answers to the words in ver. 7, ‘he was oppressed and he was afflicted:’ in the same way, ‘ he bare the sin of many’ corresponds to ‘when his soul makes a trespass–offering.’ And the last words ‘make intercession for the transgressors’ mean that being associated with them in the misery arising from the exaction of tribute and other similar causes, he will pray for their deliverance as well as his own. Observe, that in this section the chronological order is sometimes reversed: thus, ‘Behold my servant will prosper’ refers to the latter part of his career, whilst all that follows, liii.2, ‘And he came up before him,’ etc., down to ‘he shall see seed’ (ver.10), describes his condition during exile.
     I must here give a compendious account of the whole of the Messiah’s career; it is as follows: His first advent will be from the north, as we have explained upon xli.25, ‘I have raised one up from the north and he came;’ then with his arrival in the land of Israel the period of affliction and violence will cease from Jacob, and at the same time all the things mentioned in the present section will happen to him. Every good quality will be united in him, but in spite of all this the people will not recognise in him the will of God. For his sake, however, God will deliver Israel from all his afflictions and when the season of redemption comes, our lord Elijah will appear to the people and anoint him, and from that moment he will begin to be prosperous, as it is said, ‘Behold my servant shall prosper.’ His forces will then spread in every direction and be victorious, as we have explained on lii.15; and then at last Israel will dwell in safety.
     When news of this reaches Gog, they will rush forth and ‘gather themselves together against the Lord and against his Anointed;’ but when he prays to God in the midst of his people, God will come to him with deliverance, as his forefather prophesied: ‘The Lord answer thee in the day of trouble,’ etc., with the rest of the psalm (Ps. xx). And then he will be ‘high and exalted and lofty exceedingly;’ and afterwards the promise announced by God will be fulfilled, ‘Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great;’ and last of all he shall ‘see seed and lengthen days.’ Such is the narrative of his history arranged in due order. And notice how to each of his sufferings and actions a reward or counterpart is assigned, except to the one ‘my servant will be prosperous: Thus, to ‘as many have been desolated at thee,’ the counterpart announced is, ‘so he will sprinkle many nations;’ to ‘if his soul makes a trespass–offering,’ ‘he will see seed and lengthen days;’ to ‘by his knowledge my righteous servant shall make many righteous,’ ‘I will divide him a portion with the many.’
     Thus every detail of his history is provided with its counterpart: but to exhibit this fully would occupy us too long. Many of the parallels have been already mentioned by Benjamin of Nehawend in the preface to his commentary on the Canticle. We shall only add that the return to the idea of his death, expressed in the words ‘because he laid bare his soul to die,’ has two objects: 1. to sum up the scope and object of the whole section; 2. to introduce the final addition ‘and made intercession for the transgressors.’ Space does not permit us to pursue the explanation of this section in greater detail, as the reader will already have been wearied by its length; we have therefore adhered to the same compendious form adopted in our commentary elsewhere (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 19-31). return to index


MYSTERIES OF R. SHIMON BEN YOHAI

And Armilaus will join battle with Messiah, the son of Ephraim, in the East gate...; and Messiah, the son of Ephraim, will die there, and Israel will mourn for him. And afterwards the Holy One will reveal to them Messiah, the son of David, whom Israel will desire to stone, saying, Thou speakest falsely; already is the Messiah slain, and there is none other Messiah to stand up (after him): and so they will despise him, as it is written, ‘Despised and forlorn of men;’ but he will turn and hide himself from them, according to the words, ‘Like one hiding his face from us’ (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 32). return to index


B’RESHITH RABBAH OF R. MOSHEH HAD DARSHAN

And Jacob went forth from Beersheba. This is that which is written, ‘I will lift mine eyes unto the hills: O whence cometh my help’ (Ps. cxxi.1)? and, ‘Who art thou, 0 great mountain’ (Zech. iv.7)? The great mountain means the Messiah, and why does he speak of him thus? Because he is greater than the patriarchs, as it is said, ‘Behold my servant shall prosper.’
I have learnt it from the words of R. Mosheh had‑Darshan: The redeemer whom I shall raise up from among you will have no father, as it is written, ‘Behold the man whose name is Zemah [branch], and he shall branch up out of his place’ (Zech. vi.12) ; and so Isaiah says, ‘And he came up like a sucker,’ etc. Says R. B’rekhyah, The Holy One said to Israel, You have spoken before me, saying, We are orphans and have no father (Lam. v. 3): the redeemer whom I shall raise up out of your midst will have no father also, as it is said, ‘Behold the man whose name is the Branch, and he shall branch up out of his place’ (Zech. vi.12); and similarly by Isaiah, ‘And he came up as a sucker before him.’
     In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This is that which is written, ‘There is light sown for the righteous’ (Ps. xcvii.11). R. Abba says, ‘And with him dwelleth light’ (Dan. ii.22): this is the light of the King Messiah; and so it is said, ‘For with thee is the fountain of life, in thy light do we see light’ (Ps. xxxvi.10)—that is, the light of the Messiah. These passages teach how the Holy One watched the Messiah and his generation, and kept them hidden underneath the throne of his glory. Satan said, Lord of the world, this light hidden beneath the throne of thy glory—to whom does it belong? The Holy One answered, To the Messiah and to his generation. Satan said, Lord of the world, suffer me, and I will be an adversary unto the Messiah and his generation. The Holy One said, Thou canst not prevail against him. Satan answered, Lord of the world, suffer me, and I will prevail.
     The Holy One said, If this is thy intention, I will destroy Satan out of the world, but not a single soul belonging to that generation will I destroy. Forthwith the Holy One began to make a covenant with the Messiah: 0 Messiah, my righteousness, said he, the iniquities of those who are hidden beside thee will cause thee to enter into a hard yoke: thine eyes shall see no light, and thine ears shall hear great reproaches from the nations of the world; thy nostrils shall smell ill savours, thy mouth taste bitterness, and thy tongue cleave to thy gums; thy skin shall hang upon thy bones, and thy body grow weak in grief and sighing. Art thou willing to accept this? if so, it shall be well; but if not, behold, I drive them from me forever.
     Said the Messiah, Lord of the world, I accept it joyfully, and will endure these chastisements, upon condition that thou givest life again to those who die in my days, and to those, who died from the time of the first man until now; and that thou savest in my days not these only, but those also whom wolves and lions have devoured, and who have been swallowed up in waters and rivers; and not only these, but such also as were born out of due time; nor again these only, but those also whom thou thoughtest to create but who were not created. The Holy One replied, I will do so: and forthwith the Messiah accepted the chastisements of love, as it is written, ‘He was oppressed, and he was afflicted.’
     And Jacob brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother (Gen, xxiv.67). This is the King Messiah, who belonged to the generation of the wicked, but rejected them, and chose the Holy One and his holy name to serve him with all his heart, and applied himself to seek for mercy for Israel, and to fast and humble himself on their behalf, as it is said, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions,’ etc. And when Israel is sinful, the Messiah seeks for mercy upon them, as it is written, ‘By his stripes we were healed,’ and, ‘ He carried the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors’ (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 33-35). return to index


LEQAH TOBH

‘Let water stream from his buckets (Num. xxiv.7)—from the poor who are in Israel: hence they say, ‘ Be careful with the children of the people of the land [i. e. the poor], because from them doth the law go forth.’ ‘And let his seed be on many waters:’ the kingdom of Israel is to be above all the kingdoms of the earth. ‘May his king be high above (or, from) Agag:’ from the days of Agag, king of Amalek, the kingdom of Israel took its rise. ‘And let his kingdom be exalted,’ in the days of the Messiah, of whom it is said, ‘Behold my servant shall prosper; he will be high and exalted, and lofty exceedingly.’ (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), p. 36). return to index


R. MOSHEH BEN NAHMAN

עבדי ישׁכיל הנה. The right view respecting this Parashah is to suppose that by the phrase ‘my servant’ the whole of Israel is meant, as in xliv.2, xlix.3, and often. As a different opinion, however, is adopted by the Midrash, which refers it to the Messiah, it is necessary for us to explain it in conformity with the view there maintained. The prophet says, The Messiah, the son of David, of whom the text speaks, will never be conquered or perish by the hands of his enemies. And, in fact, the text teaches this clearly.

Interpretation

LII. Behold my servant shall understand. For, at the time of redemption the Messiah will perceive and understand the end, and know when the period for his coming is at hand, and the time has arrived for him to reveal himself to the congregation of those that are waiting for him. ישׁכיל is used in the same sense as by Daniel, xii.9f, where the meaning is that there will be some among the wicked. who will display their wickedness by ‘reproaching the footsteps of the Messiah’ (Ps. Ixxxix.52) on account of his long tarrying, and by refusing to believe in him at all; thus they will not perceive the end, but will go astray after any one who may claim to be the Messiah: ‘those that understand,’ on the other hand, ‘will be attentive’ for the true end, and look for it expectantly. In agreement with the words of Daniel, Isaiah says the Messiah, the servant of the Lord, will understand: he will perceive the end, and forthwith will rise up and be exalted, and his heart will be ‘ lofty in the ways of the Lord’ (2 Chron. xvii.6) to go and gather together the outcasts of Israel, ‘not by strength and not by might, but by his spirit’ (Zech. iv.6), trusting in the Lord, after the manner of that first redeemer who came to Pharaoh with his staff and scrip (cf. I Sam. xvii.40), and smote his land with the ‘rod of his mouth’ (Is, xi.4).
     And so it is said in the Midrash, ‘He will be higher than Abraham, more exalted than Moses, and loftier than the ministering angels;’ the Messiah, that is, will be higher than Abraham, who was an expounder of the belief in God, and, in spite of the opposition of the king, gained proselytes in the land of Nimrod: for the Messiah will do more than he did; he will proselytize many nations. And he will be more exalted than Moses: Moses went in unto Pharaoh, that great and wicked king, who said, I know not the Lord (Ex. v.2), and, although only a shepherd and the humblest of men, was not afraid of him, but brought forth his people out of the ‘furnace of iron’ (Deut. iv.20, Jer. xi.4).
     But the Messiah will do more than Moses: for he will stir himself up against the kings of the whole world, so as to bring forth Israel from their hands, and to execute vengeance upon the Gentiles. And he will be loftier than the ministering angels, for although these exert themselves diligently in the redemption of Israel (like Michael, Dan. x.20, 22), yet the Messiah will achieve more than the whole of them together. And wisdom will accompany this elevation of the Messiah, and his nearness to God: for neither Abraham, whom the glorious and fearful Name speaks of as his friend (Is. xli.8), and with whom also he made a covenant; nor Moses, who was nearer to the Deity than any man; nor the ministering angels, who ‘stand round about him on his right hand and on his left’ (2 Kings xxii.29), approach so closely to the knowledge of the Almighty as the Messiah; for of him it is written that he ‘came to the Ancient of days,’ and that they ‘brought him near before him’ (Dan. vii.13), but of the angels it is only said that ‘ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.’
     And hence Isaiah writes that he will be high in the understanding enabling him to comprehend the Deity, and exalted and lofty in the knowledge of his blessed name, more than all who were born before him: though to be ‘greater than the angels’ is said also of others, besides the Messiah, who are righteous. The text continues, referring still to the Messiah, As many were astonished at thee. Their astonishment was shewn by mocking him when he first arrived, and by asking how one ‘despised,’ ‘meek and riding upon an ass’ (Zech. ix.9), could conquer all the kings of the world who had laid hold upon Israel, and rescue him from their hand: so acted Pharaoh towards Moses, when he mocked him, as he says (Ex. vi.12), ‘How will Pharaoh listen to me?’ As they said, The visage of this man is marred, so they will say now that his speech will drop (mr) upon them, and they will open their mouth wide for the rain of his word (Job xxix.22, 23). The kings will close their mouths, and even in the chamber of their heart (Ezek. viii.12) will be afraid to speak of him, saying each to his neighbour, Even in thy thought curse not a king (Qoh. x.20).
      LIII. When the report of the Messiah comes among the people, who is there among them that will believe it? The arm is that which he will cause to journey at the right hand of the Redeemer, just as it is said that he ‘caused the arm of his majesty to journey at the right hand of Moses’ (Is. lxiii.12). Upon whom has this arm been revealed so that he might believe in him? For at the beginning he was like a small tree springing up out of the dry earth, which never grows great enough to put forth boughs and to bear fruit : he was despised, for he had no army and no people, but was ‘meek, and riding upon an ass,’ like the first redeemer Moses, our master, when he entered into Egypt with his wife and children upon an ass (Ex. iv.20). He was pained for the iniquities of Israel, which occasion his tarrying, and hold him back from becoming king over his people; and known to sickness, because a man who is sick is continually distressed with pain.
     חולי is here used of the distress produced by excessive love, as I Sam. xxii.8, 2 Sam. xiii.2 ; or it may mean, perhaps, that he will really, as is sometimes the case with men, be made sick by his distress. Yet he carried our sicknesses, being himself sick and distressed for the transgressions which should have caused sickness and distress in us, and bearing the pains which we ought to have experienced. But we, when we saw him weakened and prostrate, thought that he was stricken, smitten of God. מחלל; from חולל as Ps. xxix.9. The chastisement of our peace was upon him­—for God will correct him; and by his stripes we were healed­—because the stripes by which he is vexed and distressed will heal us: God will pardon us for his righteousness, and we shall be healed both from our own transgressions and from the iniquities of our fathers. רפא as vi.10, lvii.19 : the metaphor of healing is often used with reference to redemption, c£ Jer. xxx.13. All we like sheep had gone astray: he charges Israel with guilt, because during their exile they apply all their attention to the business of this world, and every one devotes himself to the interests of himself and of his own household, when they ought rather to be weeping and praying before God night and day that he would pardon the iniquity of Israel, and speed the time that is to bring deliverance: for with repentance the Messiah will come at once, but without it he will delay until the end arrives, in accordance with the oath (Dan. xii.7).
     And the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all—it lights upon him, because he is continually distressed that the wheels of his chariots tarry (Judg. v.28): we, however, pay no attention, but abandon ourselves to our own concerns in the midst of the Gentiles. He was oppressed and he was afflicted: for when he first comes, ‘meek and riding upon an ass,’ the oppressors and officers of every city will come to him, and afflict him with revilings and insults, reproaching both him and the God in whose name he appears, like Moses our master, who, when Pharaoh said, I know not the Lord, answered him not, either said, The God of heaven and earth, who will destroy thee quickly, etc., but kept silence. So will the Messiah give no answer, but keep silence, and cease not to entreat for Israel, saying to all the kings of the nations, ‘Thus saith the Lord, let my people go that they may serve me.’
     But he, like a sheep led to the slaughter, will think in his heart, Even though they slay me, I will perform the mission of my Creator, as it is my duty to do; so said and did Ananias, Mishael, and Azariah (Dan. iii.18) ; and in the same way our Rabbis say, ‘Whoso gives himself up to die, trusting that a sign will be wrought for him, there is no sign wrought for that man: Jeremiah speaks similarly of himself (xi.19), and also the singer Asaph (Ps. lxxiii.14, cf. lxxxviii.6). He will think himself taken away from ruling over his people; and from being a prince and judge over them, and will wonder who there will be to declare to his generation the ways of they Lord, and announce that he has been cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of his people,—an event which will be a severe blow to them. The passage says in his praise that he will not grieve about his own life, but only for the loss Israel will sustain by his death.
     כתן is used of thinking generally, as Qoh. i.13, 1 Sam. i.16, and of speaking, as Lev. xvi.21, Deut. xi. 29. The prophet says, He will think in his heart that his grave will be with the wicked among the Gentiles, for he will say, They will assuredly kill me, and, in this place will be my tomb. קברי does not refer to the grave in which he was actually buried, but only the grave in which he expected to be buried: so Is. xxii.16, Gen. 1.5 (where Jacob speaks of his grave, though he was not buried in it yet). Further, the wealthy Israelites, who take no pleasure in him, will give him many forms of death, for he will expect them to slay him by stoning, or burning, or murder, or hanging, like those who perished during the three days’ darkness in Egypt. And this is the reason why מותיו, deaths, is plural.
     Yet he did no violence, viz. to the wicked who are mentioned, i.e. to the Gentiles, for he never attempted to rob them of anything that belonged to them; neither was there any deceit in his mouth towards the wealthy Israelites. But the Lord was pleased to give him happiness through the distress which he endured, so that recognising in himself the presence of guilt and sin, his soul might make a trespass-offering; but his merit was imperfect, and so all this befel him in order that it might become complete.
     תשׁים אם are the words of God, and express his wish: ‘If he will only bear all this, and humble himself, so as not to be contentious, and reason concerning my attributes! I will then give him his reward, measure for measure, that he may see seed,’ etc. אם is used, as Jer. xv.19, in the sense of O that...He shall see seed: in him will be fulfilled the promise, Ps. xlv.17. He shall lengthen days, viz. for ever and ever, as it is written (Ps. xxi.5), ‘Length of days for ever and ever;’ and so it is said in the Pirqê of Rabbi Eliezer, ‘As it is written (Ps. lxi.7), His years shall be as many generations. And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand : because he will accomplish the Redemption in which the Lord finds his pleasure, and will teach all the Gentiles to ‘understand and know’ the Lord: this is what is meant by the pleasure of the Lord, as it is written, ‘In these is my pleasure’ (Jer. ix.23 [24 Eng.]). Because of ‘the labour which he saw (experienced) in himself, and because he was satisfied with ‘shame instead of glory’ (Hab. ii.16), therefore by his knowledge he will justify the just, he will know and recognise who are the just that ought to be redeemed; and so in all his judgments he will find out the just, as it is written, He will not judge by the sight of the eyes, etc. (Is, xi.3, 4, etc.); and our iniquities, i.e, those of the many who are mentioned, he will set in order, viz. by disposing them to repentance: cf. I Kings xi.28, where סבל is equivalent to.the disposition or arrangement of affairs (Ex. v.4).
     ‘Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many: because ‘the whole of many nations’ (Ps. lxxxix.51) will be his portion and inheritance, and from among the Gentiles he will divide the strong as spoil for his people and servants, because he emptied his soul of everything for death, i.e. he resolved in his mind and resigned himself to die. ערה as Ps. cxli.8, ‘Do not pour out my soul,’ i.e. Empty it not of its hope which it longs to see realised: the accomplishment of one’s pleasure is spoken of as a filling of the soul, (Ex. xv.9), and similarly the frustration of a desire is called its emptying.
     The prophet continues: And because he was numbered with the transgressors, expected, as I have stated, to be reckoned amongst them, and carried the sin of many—­what happened to him at that time was not for his own sins, but for the sins of others—and for transgressors יפגיע, i.e. (according to what is said above, ver. 6) allowed the iniquity of sinners and transgressors to light upon himself. There is, however, no mention made in the Parashah that the Messiah would be delivered into the hands of those who hated him, or that he would be slain, or hung upon a tree; but that he should see seed and have long life, and that his kingdom should be big and exalted among the nations, and that mighty kings should be to him for spoil (The exposition of R. Mosheh ben Nahman of Gerona. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 78-84). return to index


RABBI MOSHEH KOHEN IBN CRISPIN

I will now proceed to my exposition. 13 Behold my servant shall have understanding. From the prophet’s saying ‘understanding,’ it may be seen that all the lofty predicates which he assigns to him have their source in this attribute; in virtue of his comprehensive intelligence he will attain to an elevation above that even of the most perfect men in the world. He shall be high and exalted, and lofty exceedingly. According to the Midrash of our Rabbis; ‘he will be higher than Abraham, more exalted than Moses, loftier than Solomon, exceedingly above the ministering angels.’ He will be higher than Abraham, who was first of all a ‘high father,’ and afterwards the father of a multitude. He will be more exalted than Moses, who was ‘exalted above the exalted ones of Levi’ (cf. Num. iii.32), who was a prophet such that ‘none arose like him in Israel’ (Deut. xxxiv.10), who ‘saved’ Israel ‘with a great salvation’ (cf. I Chron. xi.14) when they came out of Egypt, and the report of whom spread into all places until ‘the dukes of Edom were confounded’ before him, and ‘trembling seized the mighty men of Moab, and all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away’ (Ex. xv.15).
     But this one will be exalted far above Moses for when he gathers together our scattered ones from the four corners of the earth, he will be exalted in the eyes of all the kings in the whole world, and all of them will serve him, and will exalt him above them, as Daniel prophesies concerning him, ‘All nations, peoples, and tongues shall serve him’ (Dan. vii.14, 27). He will be loftier than Solomon, whose dignity was so lofty that he is said to have ‘sat on the throne of the Lord’ (I Chron. xxix.23 ), and our Rabbis say that he was king over both the upper and the nether world. But the King Messiah, in his all­comprehending intelligence, will be loftier than Solomon. Exceedingly above the ministering angels, because that same comprehensive intelligence will approach [God] more nearly than theirs. For it is an exceedingly high privilege, that one whose nature is compound and material should attain to a grade of intelligence more nearly Divine than that which belongs to the incorporeal; and so it is said of him that his strength is greater than that of the ministering angels,’ because these have no impediment in the exercise of their intellect, whereas that which is compound is continually impeded in consequence of material element in its nature.
     Accordingly the grade of his intelligence being such as this, he is said to be ‘lofty exceedingly,’ and his strength to be ‘greater than the angels.’ It is probable, however, that this Messiah will not be born in the midst of the captivity of Israel, in one of the many places all over the earth where they are bowed down beneath the Gentiles, because there, being in such a state of subjection, it would be impossible for a man to be born who would attain to this high elevation; but there are, perhaps, spots in the world, where Israel dwell in tents (Jer. xxxv.7) in the midst of the wilderness, far away from the dominion of the nations though still in exile from their own land; and these may represent a part of the Israelites whom Sanhérib, king of Assyria, carried away captive to Chalach and Chabor (2 Kings xviii.11), and who were afterwards joined by the families of the house of David, and, in particular, by that pure tribe out of which the King Messiah is destined to arise.
          And when this ‘servant of the Lord’ is born, from the day when he comes to years of discretion, he will continue to be marked by the possession of intelligence enabling him to acquire from God what it is impossible for any to acquire until he reaches that height whither none of the sons of men, except him, have ever ascended: from that day he will be counted with his people Israel, and will share their subjugation and distress; ‘in all their affliction’ (Is. lxiii.9) he will be exceedingly afflicted; and because of their being outcasts and scattered to the ends of the world, his grief will be such that the colour of his countenance will be changed from that of a man, and pangs and sicknesses will seize upon him (for great grief, as physicians know, by producing melancholy, subjects a man to many diseases); ‘and all the chastisements which come upon him in consequence of his grief will be for our sakes, and not from any deficiency or sin on his part which might bring punishment in their train, because he is perfect, in the completeness of perfection, as Isaiah says (xi.2 f.).
     Truly all his pains and sicknesses will be for us; continually will he be prostrating himself, and. stretching out his hands to God on our behalf, and praying him to hasten the time of our redemption, until in compassion upon him, and in order to shorten the intense grief felt by him for us, the Creator ‘speeds’ the time of our deliverance. This is what the prophet means when he says (lx.22), ‘In its time, I will speed it:’ he will speed to redeem us, before the time comes; and that because of his compassion on the ‘affliction’ wherewith ‘he was afflicted’ for our sakes.
     And so great will be his grief and pain endured thus on our behalf, that those who see him will despise him, thinking that in consequence of his many deficiencies and sins God brought all those chastisements upon him, or else that they were intended as chastisements of love; for they will never believe that such sufferings could be caused merely by grief. And because of their attributing them to these deficiencies and sins, he will be despised in their eyes, and they will count him as nothing, not perceiving the great perfection that is in him, who will be a compassionate father to have compassion on us, even more than Moses our master, and in the multitude of his compassion for us will draw to himself all those sicknesses and chastisements, until the Creator hears his prayer, and looks upon all his pain, and has compassion on us for his sake, and speeds our redemption, and sends him to redeem us.
     And then at last the Creator will assign him his reward for all the grief which be bore for us, and will ‘multiply his seed, and prolong his days, and divide him a portion in the earth among the great, and give him the spoil of mighty nations.’ Such is the meaning of the Parashah as a whole: I may now explain each verse separately for itself.
     As many were desolated at thee: he means Israel who are sitting in desolation on account of the delay which hinders the approach of the Messiah. So marred was his countenance beyond man: i.e. so much was he himself also pained and grieved at the delay in his coming to redeem us, that his countenance grew disfigured beyond any man’s, and his form, from the same cause, more than the forms of other men. The prophet begins in the 2nd pers. at thee, and then proceeds to speak in the 3rd his countenance: he ought properly to have used the 3rd pers. from the first, at him, but it is customary for the two persons to be thus combined in a single verse, as ‘Hear peoples, all of them!’ (I Kings xxii.28, Micah i.2), where it ought to have been all of you; and so ‘All of them, return!’ (Job xvii.10), and often.
     So will he sprinkle many nations, i.e. as his countenance is marred beyond man when he comes to redeem us, so he will scatter many nations and disperse them to the ends of the earth, like one who sprinkles, i.e. who scatters blood. The expression sprinkle means that he will scatter them without difficulty, like one who sprinkles blood, just as previously (xi.4) it is predicted that he will ‘smite the earth with the rod of his mouth:’ and so I find Yonathan interprets the word.
     At him kings will shut their mouth because from the vastness of his might and the number of his miracles and the greatness of the terror cast upon them, when he ‘smites the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips slays the wicked,’ they will be so amazed at his rebuke as to close their mouth, and not to speak from amazement at what he does.
      For that which was not told them they had seen: for although much of his work was told them, what they have seen has been far more. And that which they had not heard have they observed: what they had never heard before about his high dignity, and great wisdom, they will find in him when they observe his work; and therefore they are amazed so that they cannot speak. Upon this explanation קפץ means to shut (as Deut. xv.7, Job v.16): it may, however, mean to open (as Cant. ii.8, of the legs opened or extended in leaping); in the latter case, the prophet says they will open their mouth to tell of his greatness and dignity.
     There are some, too, who explain נזה in the sense of speaking–the force of the Hif‘il being he will make others speak:’ for a speaker sprinkles and scatters his words towards his hearers, and accordingly we find נמף to drop used both of the clouds dropping water (Judg. v. 4), and of speech (Micah ii.6); since the two actions are spoken of by a single term, we learn that there the same sense here, it will mean that, as his countenance was marred beyond man, he will make many nations speak of it, when he comes forth to redeem us, and they will ask, ‘Will a man whose form and countenance is thus marred, come to save and redeem a people so numerous as Israel who are dispersed in every corner of the earth?’ but afterwards, when he comes to fight against the kings and to redeem Israel from their power, and when they behold his might and the miracles he will perform, they will shut their mouth in silent amazement, seeing in him marvels which had never been told them, and discerning high attributes which before they had never heard of. (Or, upon the other view, they will open their mouth, in order, viz. to tell of his greatness, as I have explained.)
     LIII. Who hath believed our report? who was able to believe the report which we heard of him, when they said to us that, as the prophets had announced, he had at last come to redeem Israel ‘with a mighty hand, and stretched‑out arm,’ until we saw the matter with our own eyes? And the arm of the Lord, upon whom has it been revealed? The arm, being the principal and strongest limb, is used metaphorically for strength, as Ps. Ixxxix.14, ‘Thine is an arm with might!’ The meaning thus is, Upon whom of yore was the might of the Lord revealed, so as for him to rule by means of it over all the sons of men, as it is now seen upon this Messiah, and as it has never been seen upon any besides him? This verse states how the servant of the Lord grew up, viz. like a branching tree which had sprung up out of the dry earth and come to maturity before him, i.e. before his appearance, and which, as the branches rose out of the roots, we perceived had sprung up in deficiency of water. Or, perhaps, he may be compared to both the branches and to the root separately, each of which sprang up out of the dry ground, and without either form or comeliness.
     The King then, through the grief and sorrow which be bore on our account from the time of his coming to years of discretion, and which clung to him until it left him no form or. comeliness, resembles either the branching tree coming up out of a root planted in the dry earth, or both the branches and the root together, which sprang up out of the dry soil. Sucker is used for the boughs and branches of a tree, as Ps. lxxx.12. The passage must be understood as if it had run thus:—And he came up like a sucker and like a root out of the dry earth, before him (i.e. which we noticed growing up before he appeared), which had no form and no comeliness; the comparison is thus between the servant of the Lord and these. And we shall see him, etc., i.e. from the moment when we see that he is come to redeem us, although his countenance is unlike that of other men, because of the changes marked upon it by his grief (as we have already explained), yet on account of his mighty wonders, the great and desirable deeds he will perform, and the salvation with which he will save us, we shall desire him—desire to draw near to him and behold him. Others suppose, that the two clauses are parallel, the force of the negative extending over both the last words ‘we shall see him, but there will be no beauty that we should desire him:’ on account of his marred and altered countenance we shall not desire to look at him.
      Despised, and forlorn of men: despised, namely, in the eyes of the world because of his loathsome appearance. Forlorn of men means either forlornest, i.e. the most insignificant of men, or else forsaken by men, who will refuse to associate with him for the reason just given. A man of pains and known to sickness, i.e. possessed of pains and destined to sicknesses: so all that see him will say of him. They will also, it continues, on account of his loathsome appearance, be like men hiding their faces from him: they will not be able to look at him, because of his disfigurement. And even we, who before were longing to see him, when we see what he is like, shall despise him till we no longer esteem him, i.e. we shall cease to think of him as a Redeemer able to redeem us and fight our battles because of all the effects which we see produced by his weakness.
     Surely our sicknesses he hath carried. These words explain the cause of his sufferings; they all come upon him on account of the grief and sorrow which he will feel for the sicknesses caused by our iniquities: it will be as though he had borne all the sicknesses and chastisements which fall upon us. Or, perhaps, ‘carry’ may mean take away, forgive, as Ex. x.17; from his pity and his prayers for us he will atone for our transgressions and our pains he hath borne, viz. as a burden upon himself, cf. I Kings v.29; i.e. all the weight of our pains he will carry, being himself pained exceedingly by them.
     And we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. We shall not believe that there could be any man ready to endure such pain and grief as would disfigure his countenance, even for his children, much less for his people: it will seem a certain truth to us that such terrible suferings must have come upon him as a penalty for his own many shortcomings and errors: and therefore we shall account him ‘smitten of God;’ in other words, we shall consider them to have been sent upon him directly from heaven. But it is not so; they are not a penalty sent from God, but he was panged for our transgressions (מחולל from חיל, Ps. xlviii.7 al.)—pangs, as of labour, will seize him for the distress that has come upon us for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities, i. e. crushed and broken, as Ps. cxliii. 3, ‘He hath bruised my life down to the ground,’ Lam. iii.34, Is. lvii.15: his grief for our misery will be so great as quite to break him down. The chastisement of our peace: some render ‘the chastisement of the whole of us,’ understanding שלום in the sense of completeness, entirety, cf. I Kings vii.51, Gen. xv.16, xxxiii.18, Deut. xxv.15: others, however, adhere to the meaning peace,—the chastisements which ought to have come upon us while we were at peace have as it were fallen upon him.
     And by union with him we cure healed, i.e. although he is in the utmost distress from pain and sickness, yet by union and nearness to him, we are healed from all the diseases to which our afictions give rise. Others explain חבורה as identical with חכּורה (with loss of the Dagesh, as חברברוח Jer. xiii. 23, of the dark stripes on a leopard, which resemble the dark stripes on a man’s flesh): upon this view חבורה means an incision or slit. Our Rabbis explain it as signifying a blow which causes the blood to coagulate beneath the skin, in accordance with their saying, ‘What is a חבורה which never disappears? It is a bruise where the blood, though it does not break out through the skin, nevertheless coagulates beneath it:’ the meaning will then be, that by the weals breaking out on his flesh in consequence of his anxiety for us, God will have mercy upon him, and, by sparing him for the sake of his sufferings endured on our account, heal us.
      Like sheep which have no shepherd, and which wander hither and thither on the plain, so were we wandering in our own works and ways, each going after his own business, and none caring for the service of God: our iniquity was ‘too great to be forgiven,’ and because in our exile we had incurred the extremest penalty, behold it was as though this penalty, which was deserved by all of us, had been laid by God upon him. This verse describes the penalty thus mentioned as seemingly laid on him by the Creator, when the sufferings come upon him, which (as I have explained) he will cause for himself: in his distress he will then resemble a man whom his creditors press upon in order to take from him what he has. נגש is applied to the extortion of money, as Deut. xv.2. ענה is used with reference to the body; while enduring his sicknesses and pain, he is like one whose body is being afflicted with stripes and other humiliating punishments: all these he acquiesces in, and accepts with a cheerful countenance.
      He is like a sheep in not opening his mouth to cry; and is further compared to a lamb (fem.), because the female is always weaker than the male. His altered countenance makes him look like one who has been long confined in prison, and whose continual anxiety whether he will be brought out to execution, has caused his complexion to change. In the same way, he is like one who stands at the bar before his judges, and they condemn him to death so that his features alter at the prospect. Thus the words לקח וממשפט מעצר mean ‘he is like one taken out of confinement, and from the place of judgment (and led away to execution).’ עָצַד is to detain, or confine: and so עֹצֶד is the place where men are detained and prevented from going out cf. Judg. xiii.15, I Sam. xxi.8 (where נעצד) means that Doeg was detained before the Lord to pray), Jer. xxxiii. i, xxxix. 15. ישחח signifies to tell, as Ps. cxliii. 5: ‘who will be able to tell of all the greatness and the glory which will be shewn to his people by his means in his generation?’ the expression is hyperbolical, resembling Gen. xxi.7.
     For he is cut of etc. The nature of this Messiah is exceeding wondrous: it is composed of two contradictory elements. His soul is ‘cut off from the land of the living;’ in other words, it is derived from the living angels who exist for ever, i.e. from the abstract intelligences these form the source from which his own intelligence emanates, and gradually, in virtue of its comprehensive wisdom, ascends to an elevation, which, as we have explained above, none else has ever attained. His body, on the other hand, is composed of griefs and pains and sicknesses—of grief for the transgression and affliction of his people (which was so great as to disfigure his appearance), and of pains and sicknesses greater than those of other men. And it is an indication of his perfection that he does not care for the pain of his own body; for he recognises its proper rank, and its deficiencies, in this nether world—a world which has no permanence and continueth not in one stay, but is ever changing from one nature to another. Such a merciful father is he to us that, as he sees us in the misery of exile, the vigour of his body forsakes him, and for our sake he ‘enters into the thickness of the beam’ to grieve for us and to pray for us, until he redeem us from our exile.
      And, therefore, all that hear of him, or know him, will marvel at him exceedingly, because never in the world had a prophet or wise man been heard of who was compounded of two natures such as these. In this exalted perfection he will continue till for his merits, and in compassion for his grief, and because of his wondrous nature, the Lord hastens the time of our redemption, according to the words which I have explained, ‘I, the Lord, in its time, will speed it,’ i.e. ‘when its time approaches, before the clay when it should actually arrive, I will hasten its advent.’ Thus the tent states the reason why none can declare his generation, because, namely, he is ‘cut off,’ or derived, from the land of the living and from the transgression of my people. The last word למו refers to ‘my people:’ ‘from the transgression of my people, (which was) a blow to them,’ since in consequence of it, many plagues fell upon them. Here it is stated what these plagues were: many of the just and pious were slain, and those who buried them gave or assigned them their graves with the wicked. And you can think of no heavier blow to fall upon my people than that they should be buried ‘with the wicked’ as though belonging to their company; as it is said of Abner, ‘Was Abner to die as a fool dieth?’ (2 Sam. iii.33). In the same way the rich are spoken of, as slain miserably by various kinds of death, and afterwards buried in contempt with the wicked, neither their riches nor their honour profiting them anything. The whole phrase will thus mean, that the grave of my people was with the wicked, and that the rich also among them were assigned at their death a burial place with the wicked as well.
      And all this was inflicted upon them because they had done no violence, and there was no deceitfulness in their mouth. The reference is now again to the King Messiah, of whom the prophet had been speaking at the beginning: we cannot, he says, attribute the sicknesses and pains, which befel him after his perfection was known in the world, to any inherent defect in himself; they are the chastise ments of love wherewith the Lord was pleased to bruise him by the agency of sickness (or perhaps, and to make him sick —החלי being written defectively for החליא). Where mention is made of ‘the Lord’s pleasure,’ we cannot arrive at the full meaning; God’s own will none but himself can completely comprehend, though we attribute the pains and sickness spoken of to this cause, because we cannot credit that a man should ever for his own people, or even for his sons, be suffi­ciently distressed to bring them upon himself. If his soul makes itself into a trespass–offering, implying that his soul will treat itself as guilty, and so receive punishment for our trespasses and transgressions.
     He shall see seed, etc.: as though the Creator said, ‘If he has done this for my people, behold his reward is with him, he shall see seed, he shall lengthen days:’ in opposition to what the world thought of him, who imagined from his prostration that he was destined to have no seed, and that it was impossible for him to have long life, the Creator, whose thoughts are not as our thoughts, promises that ‘he shall see seed, and prolong his days;’ he will restore him to the days of his youth, and he will give him his seed and lengthen his days.
     And the pleasure of the Lord, he shall prosper with his hand, i.e. ‘the pleasure of the Lord is that he shall prosper in all the work of his hands:’ the reward for all the afflictions which he imposed upon his body for the Lord’s people is, that he will recover strength and vigour so as to have seed, and enjoy long life, and prosper in whatever he sets his hand to. This verse affords a cogent reply to our opponents, shewing convincingly that the Parashah does not speak of God, as their arguments assert that it does; even if it be urged that God’s people are called sons (as Deut. xiv.1), and similarly that the prophets’ disciples are called the sons of the prophets (2 Kings ii.3 al.), although this argument might be valid if the same term sons had been used here as well, it is nevertheless impossible that ‘seed’ can be employed with reference to God, for God has no seed. Moreover, the expression ‘shall prolong his days’ evidently has reference to a limited space of time: but there are no limits to God’s infinity; and had the prophet been speaking of God he must have said, ‘He will endure for ever and ever’ (like Ex. xv.18, Ps. ix.8, and often similarly): it is, however, certain that the Parashah alludes to none but a mortal man, born beyond reach of doubt of human parents.
     Because of the labour and distress which he brought upon his living soul, and upon his body, for the sake of the people of the Lord, he will see all prosperity so as ‘to he satisfied with it. By his knowledge, etc. He proceeds to tell of his high perfection, how in his unfaltering knowledge he will justify the just, and stand in defence of the truth, without the need of witnesses or proof, solely in virtue of the truthfulness of clear and complete perceptions. And my servant will do this לרבים, i.e. before the eyes of the many, viz. Israel, of whom Isaiah spoke at the beginning of the Parashah, ‘As many were astonished;’ for Israel multiplied and were more numerous than the other nations (Ex. i.7, Num. x.36).
     And their iniquities, i.e. those of the many, of Israel, he will bear, and will atone for them in the perfection of his nature, until their sins depart from them and they are left guiltless. Therefore, etc., ‘after he has done all this and delivered the multitudes of Israel, I will allot him a large portion in their midst:’ for the Creator will assign him a portion in the land of Israel, as our Rabbis say (Babhâ Bathra, fol. 122), ‘ The whole land of Israel will be divided into thirteen portions.’ In the same place it is explained for whom the thirteenth is tended, viz. for the prince who will be among them, as it is aid in Ezekiel (xlviii.19) that there will be a portion for the since, etc.—a verse which refers to the King Messiah.
     And the mighty, i.e. the mighty nations, Gog and Magog, who come to attack him, he, and Israel ‘the many,’ will divide as spoil, because he poured out (Gen. xxiv.20) his soul to die, i.e. brought it ‘nigh to the gates of death’ in consequence of the grief and pain which he bore for Israel, and also, the prophet adds, for himself, the punishments which came upon him being such that those who saw him imagined him to be like the transgressors and counted him among them: all this befel him because of the greatness of his love and compassion for his people Israel.
     Yet he in his perfection carried the sins of Israel the many, until he made expiation for them and removed, their sins from off them. He also interceded for the transgressors (i.e. for Israel): these words explain in what way he ‘carried their sins,’ viz. by making intercession for them. פגע means to pray or entreat, as lix.16, Gen. xxiii.8, Jer. xxxvi.25.
This prophecy was delivered by Isaiah at the divine command for the purpose of of making known to us something about the nature of the future Messiah, who is about to come and deliver Israel, and his life from the day when he arrives at the discretion until his advent as a redeemer, in order that if any one should arise claiming to be himself the Messiah, we may reflect, and look to see whether we can observe in him any resemblance to the traits decsribed here: if there is any resemblance, then we may believe that he is the Messiah our righteousness; but if not, we cannot do so. The explanation of this Parashah, referring to the Messiah speedily to be revealed in our own days, is now completed (The Commentary of R. Mosheh ’Ibn Crispin of Cordova, afterwards of Toledo. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 101-114). return to index


RABBI SH’LOMOH ASTRUC

An Exposition of the Parashah, ‘Lo, my servant shall prosper,’ by the holy En Sh’domoh Astrue.

LII. My servant shall prosper, or be truly intelligent, because by intelligence man is really man—it is intelligence which makes a man what he is. And the prophet calls the King Messiah my servant, speaking as one who sent him. Or he may call the whole people my servant, as he says above my people (lii.6): when he speaks of the people, the King Messiah is included in it; and when he speaks of the King Messiah, the people is comprehended with him. What he says then is, that my servant the King Messiah will prosper. Our Rabbis declare ‘that he will be higher than Abraham, because Abraham possessed nothing except seventy souls, but the King Messiah will turn to the service of God ‘many peoples,’ i.e. the whole world: more exalted than Moses, for Moses drew but a single nation to the service of God, but the King Messiah will bring to his service ‘many peoples,’ and will restore peace between many kings: and loftier than the angels, for his sway will extend even over the heavens, whose movements he will miraculously change. Or we may say that he will be high through [lit. from] Abraham, because his elevation will owe its origin to the righteous merits of Abraham and to what he will inherit from him in the knowledge of the unity and sufficiency of God: exalted through Moses, because it will be a consequence of his establishing and cleaving to the law of Moses: and lofty through the angels, in that it will depend on the intelligent powers which belong to him and are his ministers, and which tend to attach themselves to God, so that he will be like the angel of the Lord of hosts.
     Of him, also, it is said, that ‘his angels he will appoint for thee to keep thee in all thy ways’ (Ps. xci.11). The prophet, speaking of Israel as a whole, says, Just as all who saw thee were amazed at the greatness of thy distress, and said, What is the heat of this fierce anger (Deut. xxix.24) that is upon this people more than upon any other people? and, Is this the city which men used to call the perfection of beauty (Lam. ii.15)? [so will they now be amazed at thy glory]: for as before the Lord gave full measure in smiting thee, so will he now give thee full measure of prosperity, so that the dignity of this Anointed One, when he is anointed, will surpass that of all others who are anointed, by the radiancy of his countenance which will shine like that of Moses (Ex. xxxiv. 30). By ‘his form,’ i.e. κατ᾽ έξοχήν, his beautiful form, he means the form of his garments, which will be more beautiful than those of any who came before him; or perhaps by ‘form’ he may intend to signify intelligence.
     As the Gentiles ‘gnashed the teeth, saying, We have swallowed them up’ (Lam. ii.16), and as amazement seized some of them as they saw their distress and asked whether this was the city which was called the perfection of beauty, so will the Lord abundantly cause many nations to speak of the dignity of the people and his Messiah. יזה is from a root signifying ‘to speak,’ and is equivalent to the Spanish fara parlar; the meaning is, that God will force them to speak about the Messiah. Kings, he continues, will close their mouths ( קפץ as Job v.16), so as no longer to tell of their own dignity, but only of the dignity of the Messiah: they themselves will be as if they had never been born. Or קפץ may mean ‘to strengthen oneself,’ as in Cant. ii.8; the sense will then be, ‘they will exert themselves so as to speak of the dignity of the Messiah.’ After this, the prophet gives a reason why the kings and nations should thus speak, viz. because that which had not been told them they have seen, i.e. they have seen in this Messiah what had never been told them of any man born: and that which they had never heard of as belonging to any created being, they have perceived in him. Such are the words of the Gentiles and their kings.
     LIII. A continuation of the words spoken by the Gentiles and their kings: Who, at the time when our exaltation and prosperity seemed secured to us, would have believed this report brought to us, who are now in utter depression and disgrace? such a wondrous change could indeed have been anticipated by no one. And upon whom was the arm of the Lord ever revealed to raise him to such dignity as this Messiah? who came up like a sucker in pride and strength, as though it had roots in spite of the dry ground in which it grew, and notwithstanding that till then it had been devoid of form and comeliness. For when we looked at him, and gazed upon his countenance, it had no beauty, and we did not desire him.
     ונחמדהו ought strictly to have been נחמדהו ולא: he means to say that there was nothing in him calculated to cause us to desire him. Or, the meaning may be, ‘and now we desire him,’ viz. on account of the many desirable qualities which he possesses. He was despised and forlorn of men, i.e. he was not permitted to enter the society of men, because he was a man of pains, and broken by sickness. ידוע is as Jud. viii.16; or perhaps the word denotes that he was so well known generally for the sicknesses which he endured, that in imprecations men would say, May such a one be like him! The next words assign the reason why Israel was thus rejected and cast aloof and hated in their eyes: they say, ‘When we saw the face–hiding, i.e. the manner in which God hid his face from him, and carried him far away captive among the Gentiles, he was then despised and cast aloof by us, and we esteemed him not—he had no value in our eyes.’ Or, ‘We. did not think of him that God would again open his eyes and have mercy upon him, after having thus rejected him and removed him far from his own territory; and therefore this prosperity and greatness, which is now his, is ‘wonderful in our eyes’ (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 129-132). return to index


RABBI SH’MUEL LANYADO

My servant, i.e. the King Messiah, shall be high and exalted, and lófty exceedingly—he shall be higher than Abraham, of whom it is written, ‘I raise high my hand to the Lord’ (Gen. xiv.22); lifted up above Moses, of whom it is written, ‘Lift it up in thy bosom’ (Num. xi.12); and loftier than the ministering angels, of whom it is said, ‘Their wheels were lofty’ (Ezek. i.18) and so again it is said, Thou art the ‘great mountain’ (Zech. iv.7), which is greater than the patriarchs. R.Yizhaq Abarbanel was unable to comprehend how the Messiah could be lifted up above Moses, of whom it is said that ‘there arose no prophet in Israel like him’ (Deut. xxxiv.10); and still more how he was to be greater than the angels, who are spiritual beings, whereas the Messiah is born of a woman: it is, in fact, upon that expression that the idolaters [Christians] rest the chief article of their faith, the Divinity of the Messiah. Abarbanel rejects also the opinion of the learned En Boneta, who explains it of the doctors; ‘for how,’ he asks, ‘could it enter into any one’s mind to speak of the doctors as exalted above Abraham or Moses? besides, such a view has no support from the passages adduced in proof of it, for the verse from Ezekiel is admitted to refer to the host of heaven, how then can it be used to establish the application to the Rabbis?’
     The author of the ‘Aqêdah writes as has been stated above in chap. xxviii, and carries En Bonet’s view still further, supposing that the Messiah will be higher than Abraham in respect of his nobility, more exalted than Moses in lavishing all things needful upon Israel, loftier than the angels in the learning of the Law. Thus he himself applies the expression to the perfection procured by the agency of Messiah our righteousness. This he conceives to include, (i) the reality of faith, which was attained first by Abraham, when he ‘believed in the Lord,’ and made his people to believe likewise; it is said that in this respect the Messiah will be higher than Abraham, because through him the true faith will be promulgated even more than by Abraham, who ‘raised his hand on high to the Possessor of heaven and earth:’ and (2) acquaintance with the Law which was given by Moses for us to walk in; the command, ‘Lift it up in thy bosom, as a nurse,’ etc., not referring to any bodily guidance, but being an injunction that he should teach and lead them to true knowledge and doctrine, like infants ‘weaned from milk and removed from the breast,’ which are carried by their nurse.
     This indeed was what Moses did, the Law which he set before the children of Israel being as a spread table; and therefore it is said that the Messiah will lead his people in the understanding of the Law, and lift them up even more than Moses. The expression does not allude to the power of prophecy, for the position of Moses was such that there ‘arose no prophet in Israel like him.’ Inasmuch, now, as the two high qualities just mentioned are intimately connected with tranquillity and rest for the righteous (when it is well with them, it is well also with the world!), the peace in the days of the Messiah will be multiplied exceedingly; and through the Divine providence constantly attending him, the angels who preside over the nations will become subject to him (for in God’s providence he will ‘visit the host of heaven in heaven, and the kings of earth upon earth,’ Is. xxiv.21); and this is what is signified by the phrase loftier than the angels - for the Almighty will ‘give nations before him, and kings shall he subdue’ (Is. x1i.2).
     R.Yizhaq Arabanel states that he has seen an interpretation that would regard the Mem before Abraham, etc., not as the Mem of superiority or comparison, but as the Mem of derivation or cause, supposing that in the Messiah there are to be three kinds of perfection; the first physical, and derived from Abraham; the second acquired, and derived from Moses, in whose Law he is to be trained; the third divine, in that an abundance of all things will be lavished upon him ‘from the Lord out of heaven:’ upon the last ground he is termed higher than the angels. The words of the text do not, however, accord with this explanation. Arabanel himself, therefore, adheres to its literal meaning, sup­posing that the Messiah will be higher than Abraham, inasmuch as Abraham served the Lord for love, forsaking ‘his land and his kindred and his father’s house,’ in order to follow after him, who received the seal of a holy covenant, and proceeded to bind his only son in order to fulfil the command of his God, and who after the victory over the kings was not penetrated by any feeling of pride, or a thirst for the glory achieved by their conquest, or any desire of their spoil, but said, ‘I raise high my hands unto the Lord that I will not take,’ etc. ; because the glory which he loved was not carnal or material. The King Messiah, however, will be high in the fear of the Lord, and ‘righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins,’ etc. In the second place, in relation to the people, whom the Messiah, being ‘mighty to save,’ will redeem and rescue, it is said that he will be lifted up above Moses; for while the redemption of Moses only brought the nation out of Egypt into the land of Canaan, the Messiah will gather all Israel together from the four quarters of the world.
      In the third place, in relation to the Gentiles, that he will prevail and rule over them; for although their heavenly princes (Dan. x.13) will pour down all blessings upon them, the Messiah will still bow them down and overcome them: what is meant by higher than the angels, then, is this, that the Almighty will ‘visit the host of heaven,’ so that their forces will be of no avail to the nations over which they preside, and that the Divine abundance will be shed down upon the Messiah directly, which is not the case with the angels, to whom it is only transmitted through a series of intermediate agencies. Thus far Abarbanel. A difficulty, however, at once arises on the first point; for, since the greatness of Abraham’s service sprang out of love, the text which ought to have been appealed to was, ‘The seed of Abraham who loveth me’ (Is. x1i.8), in preference to the one before us, which by the expression ‘shall be high’ points rather to the passage in Genesis, ‘I raise high my hand’ (xiv.22). In my own humble opinion it seems that in the first two parts En Bonet is right; for in point of nobility the Messiah will excel even Abraham, and therefore it is promised that he shall be high; for the noble man who (like Abraham, when he swore he would not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet) despises gain, and even the wealth that is his own, will assuredly be exalted (for ‘a man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before the great’); and such, even to a greater degree than with Abraham, will be the case also with the Messiah our righteousness.
     And in the ability to guide Israel he will be superior to Moses; for Moses, when he was a shepherd, had compassion on the kid which escaped from him in order to drink, and brought it in his bosom: for for that purpose had the Almighty chosen him, how much more then that he might guide and tend Israel? This then (as I have explained in the Kh’li Hemdah) is the meaning of Moses’ words: ‘Ask not of me things which are not in my power, as that I should give them flesh; for whence should I have flesh to give to all this people? Ask only that which is in my power, viz. that I should “lift them up and carry them in my bosom:” accordingly it is said, Lifted up above Moses.’ And that he is to be far above both Abraham and Moses we learn from the word exceedingly, which stands at the end; for if this had not belonged to all the three preceding terms, but only to the last, we should have read not ‘and lofty,’ but merely ‘lofty:’ the conjunction and, by coupling the three expressions together, indicates that the adverb is intended to qualify them all.
     As regards Eli Bonet’s explanation of ‘loftier than the angels,’ my judgment coincides with that of R. Yizhaq Aramah and R. Yizhaq Abarbanel, who reject it on two grounds: I think that, the words should be understood in their natural sense, but believe also that they involve a mystery which no mouth can utter: it is, however, revealed in the book Zohar, in the section on Deut. xxii.6 (‘When a bird’s nest chanceth before thee,’ etc.); so that we need not wonder if, as is the fact, he is to be loftier than the angels. The text appears to me to refer simply to the fear and dread which he will inspire into all flesh even more than the angels, who yet are so awful that, as we know, when one appeared to Manoah and his wife, they exclaimed, ‘We have seen God; we shall surely die’ (Judg. xiii.22).
     Accordingly the Messiah is said to be ‘loftier than the angels,’ in respect of the terror which their presence creates; since every one who beholds them, like Ezekiel, is ‘afraid and trembles;’ for in Ezek. i.18, ‘they had fear,’ the meaning is not that the cherubim were filled with fear of the Almighty—a fact which there was no occasion to remark specially—but that they inspired fear into all who beheld them. And then, lastly, he is called ‘the great mountain, which is greater than the patriarchs,’ because each of the patriarchs helped in his turn to restore the world after it had been corrupted by the sin of our first parents; and so it is stated in the book Zohar that Abraham did his part in this restoration, when he was thrown into the fire to fulfil the verse which says, ‘The molten images of their gods ye shall burn with fire’ (Deut. vii.25): thus Abraham, by tasting the torment of the flames, made atonement for man, and is hence called the ‘great man: Isaac, again, made atonement for bloodshed, inasmuch as, for the fear he felt (as it is written, Gen. xxxi.42, ‘the fear of Isaac...’), his own blood was as good as poured out upon the altar. And Jacob averted the consequences of a forbidden marriage by preserving peace between the two sisters, where any one else would have only been a cause of rivalry and discord; for it was just to obviate such that the prohibition was given not to take a woman as wife ‘unto her sister to be her rival in her life’ (Lev. xviii.18).
     The opinions of our wise men on the interpretation of this verse have now been discussed: but we do not gather clearly from their language whether they are speaking of Messiah son of Ephraim, or of Messiah son of David. The same doubt is suggested by Arabanel, who thinks however that the former cannot be intended; for how, he asks, could it be said of him that he will ‘be high and exalted, and lofty exceedingly?’ If, on the contrary, we refer the prophecy to Messiah son of David, there is a difficulty in the expression marred beyond man; for Isaiah says, ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen one in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him’ (xlii.1). And again, ‘And a rod shall come forth out of the stem of Jesse’ (xi.1): how, too, can he say of him, Stricken, smitten of God, and áfflicted, for Messiah son of David will be ‘just and victorious’ (Zech. ix.9), and so far from being despised and forlorn of men, that ‘unto him will the Gentiles seek’ (Is. xi.10)? Nor are the other verses more applicable to him, which declare how he will endure sufferings and death for Israel’s sake.
     In a word, the explanation of the Rabbis and of the Targum of Yonathan cannot possibly be conceived as being truthful in the sense of being literal; it is allegorical and adventitious, consisting, as it does, in the adaptation of one of their traditions to the language of the text; and a proof of this lies in the fact that the Targum itself refers the subsequent verses to Israel, and not to the Messiah, and that one verse, the last, is referred by our Rabbis to Moses. Thus far Abarbanel. A similar difficulty was felt by ‘Ibn ‘Ezra, as I shall shew directly, when I transcribe his words later on. In my own humble opinion, who accept ‘the words of the wise as goads’ (Qoh. xii.11), I believe that they mean to assert that the verse speaks solely of Messiah son of David, to whom all the gorgeous language in it will apply.
      The prophet next addresses the people of Messiah son of Ephraim, and encourages them not to be afraid of the myriads which were against them, assuring them that the degree of his future exaltation will be proportionate to the amazement with which they had previously contemplated him; that even though the son of Ephraim were slain, the Almighty would avenge him by the hand of Messiah son of David, who would sprinkle the blood of many nations. The words mean then, As, when thou, 0 Messiah son of Ephraim, wentest forth into the world, many were astonished at thee, wondering how it could possibly be that his countenance was so marred beyond men, and his form beyond the sons of men, whether also such was the usual appearance of a conqueror—as they thus mocked thee without measure, so will Messiah son of David sprinkle the blood of many nations: the fact is that the prophet here uses the third person, in order to shew that he means some one different from Messiah son of Ephraim, who had been mentioned just before, and one who will shed the blood of his enemies.
     Then kings too will put their hand upon their mouth (as he says, At him kings shall shut their mouth), since, so he adds, besides what was told them before the coming of Messiah son of David, they now see more terrible things still, even that which had never been told them, and perceive that which they had never heard: in other words, things which they were now for the first time perceiving, in virtue of the spirit of understanding, which enabled them to discern one thing hidden within another, were now increased manifold. After this, the Almighty, speaking for himself and the congregation of Israel (or for himself and the two Messiahs), enquires Upon whom, in days gone by, was the arm of the Lord revealed that they might be able to compare one thing with another? for although, as it is written, he ‘laid it bare’ against the Egyptians, and ‘wrought with the arm of his might’ (cf. Is. Iii.10), still he has not manifested it so openly now in the second Deliverance. The reply is, Upon Messiah son of Ephraim, who will come up before him, and in comparison with Messiah son of David (who will follow after him be as a sucker or small branch, and as a root out of the dry ground, which is very small. He is to have no form, to be despised, forsaken of men, and afflicted with endless pains,—as our Rabbis relate of him, he will stand in the gate of Rome, binding up each wound separately by itself, lest the season of Deliverance arrive too suddenly; and his pains and sicknesses will make it seem as though the faces hidden from them were averted because of himself and his deeds, which had been the cause of our esteeming him not.
     Yet in truth it was otherwise: in all his sufferings he was guiltless: it was our sicknesses that he bare,—the sicknesses and pains which were in readiness to come for our iniquities upon us were carried by him instead, and we were in error in thinking him stricken and smitten of God, i.e, as Rashi explains, an object of his enmity. After his advent, to use again the words of Rashi, the son of Ephraim, who for a while had held sovereignty and executed judgment over Israel and the Gentiles, was taken away, because the Gentiles resolved to slay him; and who then could tell of his generation and the travail which befel him? for he was cut of out of the land of the living, and slain for the transgression of my people, the stroke intended for them being borne by him instead.
     In addition to this, he made his grave with the wicked, being buried amongst those who were slain at the time that the Gentiles assembled together against him, and was delivered into the hand of the rich, i.e. of the kingdom of wickedness, for death under all the forms which men could devise; he was not to be put to death speedily, but tortured by every conceivable method of producing a severe and painful end; and hence it is that the prophet says not ‘in his death’ but ‘in his deaths.’ And all this happened because he had done no wrong in deed or word, but had kept the truth of God alone in his mouth; for it was the Lord’s pleasure to bruise and sicken him. But if thou, O Israel, puttest before thy eyes the trespass–offering which would be incurred by his murder, and the preservation of his soul from death, and if thou lettest thyself be pained thereby, behold, this thy care for him will stir thee up unto repentance, and prevent him from being slain: thus he shall see seed and have long days, and for the travail of his soul which be endured he shall be satisfied, i.e. shall eat and be filled of the reward bestowed upon him for his sufferings; and although he will not hold the same rank and position as Messiah son of David, nevertheless, by his knowledge he will justify many, and by suffering himself bear their iniquities, until at last I divide him a portion with the many, etc.—Such is the sense of these verses, according to the opinion of those amongst our wise men who apply them to Messiah son of David, and to Messiah son of Joseph, who is of the tribe of Ephraim (From the Jewel of Gold, a Commentary on Isaiah by R. Sh’muel bar Abraham Lañado, of Aleppo. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 295-303). return to index


RABBI MOSHEH EL SHEIKH

LII.13 The verses in this Parashah are difficult to fix or arrange in a plain and literal manner, so that the various parts, from the beginning to the end, may be combined and connected closely together, ‘the head with the legs and the inwards thereof.’ The commentators I see going up and down among them, and yet nei­ther agreeing in the subject to which the whole is to be referred, nor disentangling the words upon any simple plan. I therefore, in my humility, am come after them; not with any sense of the wisdom that I am about to utter, but merely with the object of applying to its elucidation a straightforward method, in accordance with the literal sense of the text, such as ought to be chosen by one who would rightly unite the several words and periods, and determine what view is legitimate and what not.
     I may remark, then, that our Rabbis with one voice accept and affirm the opinion that the prophet is speaking of the King Messiah, and we shall ourselves also adhere to the same view: for the Messiah is of course David, who, as is well known, was ‘anointed,’ and there is a verse in which the prophet, speaking in the name of the Lord, says expressly, ‘My servant David shall be king over them’ (Ezek. xxxvii.24). The expression my servant, therefore, can be justly referred to David: for from what is explicit in one place we can discover what is hidden or obscure in another.
     Although now we shall not call attention to everything in the text that might deserve it (since much is already before the eyes of all), no one will fail to notice, how in the introduction the prophet says at once, Behold my servant shall prosper, instead of employing the phrase, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ as at the beginning of every other Parashah. Our Rabbis say that of all the suffering which entered into the world, one third was for David and the fathers, one for the generation in exile, and one for the King Messiah. If we examine the meaning of this saying, we shall see that there are punishments for iniquity, and also punishments of love, the latter being endured by the righteous for the wickedness of his own generation.
     Now those who do not know how far the reward of the righteous really extends feel surprised at this, asking, Is it the Lord’s pleasure that either one man should sin, or a whole generation? and wondering whether it can be true that he will be wroth with a just and perfect man who never sinned, and heap on him the iniquities of all wrong–doers, in order that they may rejoice, and he, the just, be pained; that they may be ‘stalwart in strength,’ while he is stricken and smitten; that they may exult at his calamity, and mock during their feasts at his distress, while he is smitten for their sakes. In order to put an end to the ‘fear from this thing,’ God declares in these verses how far the merits of those who thus suffer for the sins of their own age extend their effects, adducing a proof from the case of the Messiah who bore the iniquities of the children of Israel, ‘and behold his reward is with him.’
     The Almighty argues with Israel (whom he has hitherto been addressing, lii.11f.), saying to them in tones of love (and, like one talking with a beloved son, using the singular number): Did I not promise that the Lord would go before you, and the God of Israel be your rear–ward? and will ye not marvel that all your sins have not been ‘scoured and flooded away’ to the extent of really deserving such great blessings? O that we had been counted worthy to walk in affliction, and after that to build for ourselves the sanctuary (as were those who built the second Temple by the permission of Cyrus): but look and learn how great is the power of the man who suffers for a whole generation; you shall then see from the exaltation which I shall confer upon the King Messiah how vast are the benefits of the chastisements of love to him that endures them.
     Behold my servant (i.e. the Messiah) will prosper,—for this is the meaning of ישׁכיל this passage, as I Sam. xvii.14,—and this prosperity of his will extend through four worlds, viz. the lower world, the world of angels, the world of stars, and the highest world of all, in each of which the same prosperity will attend him. He will be high in this world; exalted in the world of stars—as was Joshua, when he said, ‘Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon,’ etc. (Josh. x.12); and lofty in the world of angels, who will ‘have access to his audience’ (for he will not be inferior to king Solomon, as the Rabbis say, Why was not Solomon reckoned amongst those who ruled over the world? Because he was king over the powers that are on high, i.e. over the angels, as it is written, 1 Chron. xxix.23, ‘And Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord’); exceedingly, because prosperity will accompany him in the uppermost world as well, in the presence of God, according to the saying of the Rabbis on Ps. ii.8, that he will be ‘like a dear son, delighting himself before his Creator’: he says therefore, Ask of me, etc., because of the good fortune which is to be his in each of these four worlds. Such is the meaning of this first verse of the Parashah, the last four words of which, as has now been explained, correspond to these four spheres of power.
     Our Rabbis say further, ‘He shall be higher than Abraham, of whom it is written (Gen. xiv.22), ‘I raise high my hand to God;’ lifted up above Moses, of whom it is written (Num. xi.17), ‘And they shall lift the burden of the people with thee;’ and loftier than the ministering angels, of whom it is said (Ezek. i.18), ‘Their wheels were lofty.’ It is not without a purpose that Abraham, Moses, and the angels are here mentioned: though to be ‘lifted up above Moses’ is indeed impossible; for whom have we greater than Moses? The Rabbis say, on the verse Gen. xiv.17, that all the nations of the world agreed among themselves to make Abraham their king, erecting for him a high throne, and setting him upon it, and then shouting before him, Thou art our king! Let us examine now the meaning of this Midrash, according to the method we have prescribed ourselves.
He will be higher than Abraham in the earth; for as all nations acknowledged Abraham’s sovereignty (in the manner described), so, and more also, will the Messiah be exalted. Next, as Moses ruled even in the world of stars—the Rabbis say that for this reason the hail, the locusts, and the grasshoppers were sent through his instrumentality, and that hence also he is bidden, Ex. ix.22, x.21, cf. x.12, to stretch out his hand toward heaven—so, and even more fully, will the Messiah hold sway there likewise: this, and this only, is the meaning of the phrase loftier than Moses; it does not imply that he will be superior to him in wisdom or in prophecy, nor, again, that at the time alluded to Moses will not in every respect be the greater (indeed anything different from this will not be credited by those who have real knowledge), but only that he will be more exalted than Moses was previously, in his own lifetime. He is, thirdly, to be loftier than the angels, according to the text (Ezek. i.18); for these had ‘loftiness and fear,’ i.e. in spite of their high position, they still stood in awe of the Almighty, not venturing, like the righteous one who ‘played before him, as a son before his father,’ to make requests of their Creator. Such, then, is the meaning of the phrase lofty exceedingly above the angels; for though above we divided the sentence into four parts, yet as the Rabbis do not interpret shall be high by itself, but declare that he will be high above something else, and similarly with each of the two following verbs, so the fourth part (‘exceedingly’) must belong really to the third, the idea expressed by which it serves to intensify.
T     he whole, however, as I understand their method, ‘goeth unto one place.’ If now we return to the words of the text, we shall see that what God says to his only son Israel is this, that he will prosper in four different worlds. From what source, however, does he merit all this? is it not because, as many were astonished at thee (i.e. at Israel) in the two desolations [of the Temple], so that every one that passed by ‘was astonished and hissed’ at the terrible disasters accompanying the two chastisements described in the Law, when even the stranger coming from a far land, when he saw the plagues of that land and the sicknesses laid upon it, was to hiss and ask in amazement, ‘Wherefore hath the Lord done thus? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?’ (Deut. xxix.22-24). According to the degree of their amazement, then, so was his countenance marred from man, in consequence of the magnitude of his sufferings by this expression the prophet means to say that it seemed to be marred to those who gazed upon it; for man can never discern in a face the image of God, but only skin and flesh: the next phrase also, and his form from the sons of men, has a similar import, and does not at all imply that his form was marred in the eyes of God, who seeth that which is spiritual.
     Or the words may signify that his countenance from man was marred, i.e. what was derived in it from man, to the exclusion of that which was derived from the Almighty (viz. the image of God); and, again, that his form from the sons of men was disfigured, but not what came to him from above. As the four high prerogatives assigned to him in ver. 13 became his in consequence of his sufferings, so, through the same instrumentality, he will sprinkle many nations, i.e. by these his deserts he will ‘sprinkle the juice of them’ (Is. lxiii.3), that is, their blood, which will stream before him ‘like a breach of waters.’
     And so brilliant will be his career before the eyes of the heathen, that at him kings will shut their mouth, thinking that none of his deeds can be adequately described; they will therefore close their lips and refrain from speaking. And all this will be caused by their having seen what had never been told them; for very many predictions which had been uttered by the prophets respecting events that would happen to them, had never reached them; for what the prophets spoke and wrote they did not usually communicate to a nation itself, they only heard of it in process of time: but now they see all clearly accomplished by the Messiah. Hence also those who had not heard of any of the deeds to be done by him began now to attend; for when the kings saw terrible deeds of which they had never heard done by the Messiah, they observed attentively, in order to discover whether the matter was really as it had appeared to be, or not: for their astonishment was so great that they were almost incredulous, and looked closely and carefully, doubting whether even their eyesight had not deceived them.
     LIII. The Almighty, however, says that there is no need for surprise at their attitude of incredulity in presence of these marvels; for who believed our report­—the report, namely, which we made known to you from heaven, but which the kings had not heard of? so fearful was it, that in the eyes of every one who did hear it, it was too wondrous to be true; and upon whom was the arm of the Lord revealed as it was upon the King Messiah! The sum of the whole is that he obtained this honour for himself owing to his merits in enduring for Israel (as has been said) chastisements of love. The contents of this and the following verses chew unmistakably that they are the words of the prophet, as it were instructing or guiding the people, and not the words of God: this is plain both from the phrase, We saw him, but he had no beauty that we could desire him, which would not be suitable for God to use with reference to himself, as also from the two expressions, We esteemed him not, in the next verse, and (verse 4), Our sicknesses he carried. From the fact of the Rabbis expounding the previous verses of the Messiah, it may be seen that these speak of the righteous who endures in the present world the chastisements of love; and therefore I maintain that up to this point we have had the words of God announcing the greatness of the Messiah in return for his sufferings, and designed to set forth the exalted dignity of him by whom those chastisements are borne.
H     ere, however, the prophet seems to set before us the words of Israel endorsing the Divine declaration, and affirming in their own persons its entire truth: ‘The “tried saying of the Lord,”’ they exclaim, ‘which he has made known to us concerning the King Messiah, has opened our ears and removed the blindness of our eyes; we beheld a man, just and perfect, bruised and degraded by suffering despised in our eyes, and plundered verily before God and man, while all cried, ‘God hath forsaken him;’ he must surely, therefore, we thought, be ‘despised’ likewise in the eyes of the Almighty, and this is why he hath made him ‘an offscouring and refuse’ (Lam. iii.45).
     But now the Lord hath awakened our ear, and taught us that the chastisements of love are infinitely great; henceforward, then, will ‘his strength be magnified, when we see him just, and humble in spirit, stricken, and smitten: for then we shall all agree in concluding that what we had seen before meant nothing except that he was carrying our sicknesses; and that his sufferings were for the protection of his generation.’ Such is the substance of what the prophet puts into the people’s mouth. And first of all they say, He came up as a sucker, etc.; i.e. we see one who was as a sucker with water for it to suck up, and growing great and tall; he was like this, however, only before him, viz. before the Lord (named in verse 1); for though this just and perfect sufferer flourished and grew great before God in the upper world, yet in the earth which we see below, he was as a root coming forth out of the dry earth, and not a sucker (because there was no water for him to ‘suck’ up). Being lowly, therefore, in the sight of our eyes, he was without form and comeliness in the world: his form was ‘darkened’ by the blackness of his sufferings (cf. Lam. iv.8), and ‘his own leanness bare witness in his face;’ neither had he any beauty that we could desire him on account of his righteousness, but, on the contrary, he was rejected in our eyes. (This is the reason why the ו; in ונחמדהו is pointed with Shwa’ and not with Pathah, because the verb does not express an actual fact.)
     Not only, however, was this just one despised in our eyes, but, as is now said, his sense of holiness caused him to be despised in his own eyes, not merely when he found himself amongst men of position, and in comparison with them held himself to be of slight reputation, but even when forlorn of men, i.e. when destitute of their society and having no companion but himself. Moreover, in spite of his holiness, he was a man of pains and broken by sickness: now there are two species of sickness, one when a man is in pain but is still able to move about, the other when he is attacked by some such disease as consumption or fever, when he is prostrated upon his bed, a ‘couch of infirmity,’ but is free from pain; in the latter case he is said to be ‘broken’ by sickness, because his complaint bows him down: cf. Jud. viii.16.
     Or, perhaps, since instances happen in which men suffer from some disease and are then cured, and then from another and are cured of it likewise, and so with a third or a fourth, whereas, on the contrary, they sometimes have a complaint which, being constant, and more severe than any of the former kind, completely breaks them down, the expression חולי ידוי may refer to the latter, and mean that the person to whom it is applied is known through some one disease which, unlike the others that come and go, never leaves him. The prophet says that both these descriptions of sickness unite against the man here spoken of. But, besides this, he was despised, also, in his own eyes: it is not stated that he was humbled for his pride, since in reality men hid their faces from him, not for any fault of his own, but for the iniquity of his generation; though he himself (as the words of the text shew, And ’twas as though the face–hiding came from himself) looked upon the matter differently, imagining in his goodness and humility that he must be guilty, and was thus punished for his sins.
     Accordingly he was both despised in his own eyes, and we esteemed him not. Yet in truth the cause of this ‘face­hiding’ lay not in him, but in the people; for, as we learn from the expression used in the preceding verses, he (הוא) carried our sicknesses, i.e. he was ready to carry them of his own accord, like R. Eleazar, the son of R. Simeon, who said, ‘Come brethren, come friends!’ Again, as ‘pain’ was associated with ‘sickness’ in verse 3, so here it is stated that he bore the former as well, and was not like the man who exclaimed, ‘Neither them, nor their reward!’
     We, however, thought that he was not bearing them of his own accord, but that he was stricken and smitten of God, by a judgment of retaliation for his iniquities, and not out of love, as was the case with R. Eleazar. The prophet says stricken, with allusion to the expression חולי ידוע, and smitten, because he had at the same time called him מכאובות אישׁ: we supposed him stricken, namely, with the strokes of men (i.e. through the powers of impurity) which fall upon a man as a consequence of one of those matters for which such strokes are appointed; smitten of God when afterwards God seemed to smite him, not from any desire to inflict upon him a chastisement of love, but in virtue of his attribute of justice, because he had not repented of his iniquity; and afflicted, when last of all (as is stated in verse 3) he was despised in his own eyes on account of the humiliation and affliction which had befallen him. Such is the signification of the three expressions, stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
     It was not so in fact, however: it was because he was wounded for our transgressions that he was ‘broken by sickness;’ and because he was bruised for our iniquities that he became a ‘man of pains’ (for he was stricken for our ‘transgressions,’ and smitten for our ‘iniquities’) ; and he was ‘afflicted’ with poverty, because—and this is the chief reason for which he was ‘despised’—the chastisement of our peace was upon him: his being wounded and bruised for our iniquities had merely the negative effect of rescuing us from punishment; in order for us to enjoy positive peace and prosperity, further sufferings were needed, and these consisted in his being ‘afflicted’ with poverty. To express this, it is said that the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and it was well that this additional chastisement should rest upon him; for while the direct consequences of our sins had been averted by his sickness and stripes, something still was needed in order to confer peace upon us.
     Or the sense of the passage may be as follows: If he had ‘carried our sicknesses,’ it would have been sufficient to remove misfortune from us, but not to procure us prosperity but we do possess prosperity; does it not follow then that he must already, at some time or other, have suffered sickness, being made sick (מחלל) for our transgressions, that pain must have lighted on him, being bruised for our iniquities, and that his calamities were prolonged, because the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and in order to benefit us positively?—for, so far as the mere removal of suffering was concerned, we were long ago healed by his stripes. All we like sheep had gone astray - like sheep which all follow after their leader, so that if the leader strays, they all stray with him, because of the unity of the whole flock; as the Rabbis say, ‘When the shepherd is angry with his flock, he makes their leader blind.’ The prophet says, Would that only one had gone astray, and that only the unity of the rest had led them after him! for union, though it be with something evil, is a good, as it is written (Hos. iv.17), ‘Ephraim is joined unto idols; let him alone;’ here, however, there is in two respects a difference for the worse: for in a flock only one goes astray, but in our case, as we learn from the expression ‘All we like sheep,’ there were many straying, in a flock also the general error results from the unitedness of the whole body, but the phrase, ‘Each turned to his own way,’ shews that with us this was not so, but that it resulted from the separate action of each individual. Had it indeed been otherwise, our guilt (as the passage from Hosea indicates) would not have been so great.
     But see now the mercy of God after we had individually gone astray, he might have been expected to punish us individually likewise (for every man by his own separate iniquity creates an accuser to ‘light’ upon him for the purpose of punishing him; yet the Lord did not look to this, but counted us as one man, reckoning up the iniquity of us all together, and causing it to light upon this just one, who was accordingly sufficient to bear the whole of it, which would not have been the case had each one’s iniquity been reckoned up against himself. In the B’reshith Rabbâ, the Rabbis say, There is a ‘drawing nigh’ that is for prayer; as it is written (I Kings xviii.36), ‘And Elijah drew nigh:’ but although his prayer [for rain] was heard before his Creator, yet his piety prevented him from praying for a removal of his own calamity, or complaining of the bitterness of his sufferings, as he might have done had the saying, ‘Neither them, nor their reward,’ been his model.
     Elijah resembled rather Rabbah, who, although both he and R. Hisda were men of the greatest piety, prayed, and there came rain, and prayed again, and there came rain; and yet in spite of this, when all his household were enduring the ‘sixty pains’ [felt by the tooth that hears its neighbour eating, and has nothing itself ], he did not pray for any alleviation of his sufferings. In like manner the prophet says here that the prayer of this just one was heard by God, that when he drew near (נגשׁ) for the purpose of praying, he was at once answered, even without opening his month, (as in the promise, ‘Before they cry I will answer them,’ lxv.24): still, however, in the endurance of injury done to his person he was as a sheep led to the slaughter, and in loss of his substance, like a lamb which before her shearers is dumb, insomuch that he opened not his mouth to entreat that even one of his troubles might be removed from him (for he rather rejoiced in them), or to exclaim, ‘Neither them, nor their reward.’
     While he was yet alive, he was our protector; and now that he is dead, he was taken וממשׁפט מעצר: i.e. because of the shutting up of rain that was to ensue, and because of judgment to come, he was taken away. For, though he protected it before, yet inasmuch as his generation will not repent of its iniquity which had caused the judgment and the drought, their fate will be like that which we read of in the Midrash Ne‘lâm, where R. Aha of Caphartarsha, when he would avert the plague, was told from heaven that he could avail nought, for sinfulness still lay upon the people, and he must therefore amend them by causing them to repent and devote themselves assiduously to the Law. In the same way, the prophet exclaims here, As for his generation, would that some one would declare to them how it was cut off from the land of life for the iniquity which the just one had before averted, because they did not repent. Hitherto, he means to say, this just one had been stricken for the people’s transgression; but henceforward the stroke would be upon themselves, for there would be no one else to be smitten for them. It is possible, from his use of the singular ‘transgression,’ that Isaiah means to allude to their sin in supposing that he had died for his own iniquity, and in not having been brought themselves by his death to repentance.
     These verses (9–12) also are all of them hard, and difficult to fix the sense of, though we shall not touch on everything which might be noticed. Our Rabbis, I see, have in two places expounded verse 12 of Moses our master, each ‘Midrash’ possessing its own particular features; and we may at least admit that the passage does allude to him, though any one adopting this opinion is bound to explain what connexion subsists between the verse relating to Moses and those which precede it.
      I think myself that properly these refer to him likewise: after having stated that the just one did good to his age, not only during his lifetime, by carrying their sicknesses, but also in his death, when because of drought and judgment he was taken out of the world in order to make atonement for them, the prophet now proceeds to ask, Will not the heart of man ‘be embittered’ when it reflects that for the sufferings endured in this present life, the just one ought at least not to miss enjoying elsewhere the reward for his obedience to the Law and the Commandment; whereas by dying for his generation he will be cut off from the Law and the Commandments, and so debarred from happiness both in this world and in that which is to come?
     He therefore says, And he made his grave with the wicked, i.e. I will shew you an instance of this in the chief of all the prophets, and the choicest of all creation, who, by still suffering after his death, endured a heavier penalty than others who had suffered for their generation: for he ‘made his grave with the wicked,’ i.e. Moses, who, as our Rabbis say, was buried away from the Promised Land, together with the wicked ones who died in the wilderness: for these were unworthy to enter into the world to come, had not Moses borne the disgrace of being buried by their side, in order that he might bring them into it with himself. And we cannot be wrong in interpreting the ‘wicked’ here of those who perished in the wilderness for the sin of the spies; for the Rabbis themselves explain he was numbered with the transgressors (verse 12) similarly.
     Moses was not, however, buried solely with these: in the wilderness rested also (Qorah, who was ‘rich,’ with all those who perished with him, when they complained that Moses and Aaron had killed the people of the Lord (Num. xvii.6); with all these Moses made his grave, in order to bring them likewise into the future world. For it is well known that even Qorah and his deaths, i.e. those who died in his cause, will all rise up with him; since, as our Rabbis say, it follows certainly from the words of Hannah’s prayer, ‘The Lord bringeth down to the Underworld, and bringeth up’ (I Sam. ii.6), that Qorah will return and come up from the Underworld, and à fortiori, those who perished with him, and in fact the whole generation of the wilderness. The prophet appeals thus to a known case: he, i.e. Moses, made his grave with the wicked, for he was buried in profane ground in order to bring them in with him [into the future world, and that, not only with the generation of the wilderness, but also with the rich [viz. Qorah] in his deaths—amongst those, that is, who perished with him—in order to bring them in likewise, because he had done no violence, like those who perished in the desert, which alone might have caused him to be left behind, neither was there any guile in his mouth, when he said, ‘But if the Lord create a new thing,’ etc. (Num. xvi.30); in a word, he sinned neither with the disbelieving Israelites, nor in anything that he uttered in the matter of Qorah; on the contrary, he acquiesced for their advantage in the indignity of being buried away from the Promised Land. But you will ask, Why should God do these two things, both bruising and sickening the just one during his life for the iniquity of his generation, and then cutting him off from the world on account of its sin? the Almighty can have no concern lest vexation should cause him to sin.
     To meet this, the prophet continues: You know, indeed, that the Lord was pleased to bruise and sicken him for the iniquity of his generation; yet afterwards if his soul is prepared to die, and thereby to make itself a trespass­offering on their behalf, he will no longer feel the trial, but rather rejoice; for God will comfort him with other words, saying, He shall see seed, shall lengthen days: he will even devote himself to the Law and the Commandments and prosper (which is what is meant by the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand), because there is no disannulling of the Law in the chastisements of love (which are what are sent to protect an age from punishment): he will thus be blessed both in this world and in that which is to come. God now speaks, adding a further promise to the prophet’s words, For the travail of his soul, etc. There is a saying of the Rabbis on the verse, Prov. xxxi.25, ‘And she laugheth at the future,’ that at the time when the just are taken out of the world they are shewn their reward, their soul is satisfied, and they themselves then fall asleep; and this is what is written in the same place that the soul of the just suffers hardship, because it can no longer in the present world pursue studiously the practice of the Law, and his body suffers hardship, because it must go and decay in the grave.
     Therefore the Almighty shews each man how his soul will reap satisfaction for all that he has done (and this is the meaning of ‘their soul is satisfied’), and how his body, for what he has enjoyed, will be left as one asleep (and this is the meaning of ‘they themselves will fall asleep’). And so it is said here: Let not the owner of this soul feel vexation at dying for the iniquity of his generation, alleging that it was his desire to live longer in order to satisfy himself with further acts of merit: will he not, for the travail of his soul, wherewith he laboured unto the day of his death, when he is taken away, see something which will satisfy him? by his knowledge—or will­—I promise that the just one, i.e. my servant, shall justify many, and that he shall bear their iniquities. For I will divide him a portion with the many, that he may receive a portion in the world to come with the many who by his means are meet to receive a reward for their sufferings: and because he after­wards died for the iniquities of his generation, therefore with the mighty, the patriarchs and those like them, he will divide spoil, because he poured out his soul to die for the sake of Israel, and also because he was numbered with the transgressors; for people said when they saw his sufferings that he was smitten of God for his sins, and classed him with the transgressors.
     This he knew, yet went on enduring, and carried this sin of many, not caring to be vexed with them, but, on the contrary, interceding with the Holy One for, i.e. on behalf of, the transgressors—those, namely, who spoke thus of him, not, like some, from ignorance, but from actual malice. Or the sense of the text may be that in his lifetime, in consequence of the sufferings he will experience, he will see seed, etc.: and therefore by his knowledge, i.e. in accordance with his will, the just one, i.e. my servant, will justify many and bear all their iniquities without solicitude, and without inquiring whether it is not a strange thing to endure distress for the sake of others after death. For if this be the case, why did Moses our master endure, for the sake of those who perished in the wilderness, to be buried with the wicked in a foreign land? But there is no real difficulty: ‘on account of this very humiliation, I shall multiply,’ says the Almighty, ‘his reward; for I shall divide him a portion with the many, the whole of their merits will attach themselves to him, and I shall allot him an equal portion for all these, as well as for his own. Moreover, with all the mighty, i.e. with the chiefs and wise men of each generation who teach the law to every successive age, he will, divide spoil, and share their reward with them,’
     And do not wonder, because this may seem excessive measure for him to receive: had it not been for him, they would never have entered into the world: did not Moses ‘pour out his soul to die,’ when he ‘put his soul into his hand,’ saying, ‘But if not—blot me, I pray thee,’ etc. (Ex. xxxii.32), where he expresses his willingness to die in their stead? Moses also was on their account ‘numbered with the transgressors;’ for God said, ‘How long refuse ye to keep my statutes and my ordinances?’ (Ex. xvi.28), classing him thereby with men who had profaned the Sabbath, as our Rabbis say, For the sake of one leaf, a whole branch is often injured; i.e. on account of the wicked, the righteous is reviled. Accordingly, it is said that he was numbered with them,’ i.e. he felt no anxiety in having given his soul for them, and, besides this, that ‘he carried the sin of many,’ as God said to him, ‘Go, get thee down’ (Ex. xxxii.7), as though to say, Descend from all thy greatness, because Israel has sinned; but still, in spite of this, ‘he made intercession for the transgressors,’ because in every place that Israel transgressed he interceded for them. And this is the prophet’s meaning when he writes, And he carried the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (From the צובאוח מראוח, an exposition of the Prophets by R. Mosheh ben R. Hayyim Al-Sheikh, of Saphed. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 258-274). return to index


RABBI SH’LOMOH DE MARINI

It should be remembered that this prophecy not only speaks at once both of the Israelitish nation and of the Messiah, but at the same time alludes also to any righteous one amongst them who may have been a ‘sign and a portent’ of what happened to the people at large: all three are styled ‘my servant,’ as, for instance, Moses (Josh. i.1), Isaiah himself (xx.3), and others besides; Israel (xliv. 21); and similarly the King Messiah (xlii.1): since the text is intended to describe each of these separately, the singular number is used, in order to include every one bearing the same title. With the exception of those which have been specified, viz. the particular righteous individuals, the nation as a whole, and the King Messiah, the Lord’s Anointed, who is to reign over them, no one is so designated; but in saying upon them (liii.8), the prophet already lets fall a plural word to shew that he is alluding to the people. We may now proceed to the explanation of the text (From the Reformation of the World, a Commentary upon Isaiah by Rabbi Sh’lomoh ben Yizhaq de Marini, Rabbi in Padua (end of seventeenth century). Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 324-325). return to index

RABBI NAPHTHALI BEN ASHER ALTSCHULER

LII. I will now proceed to explain these verses of our own Messiah, who, God willing, will come speedily in our days! I am surprised that Rashi and R. David Qamhi have not, with the Targum applied them to the Messiah likewise. The prophet says he shall be ‘high and exalted and lofty,’ expressing the idea under various forms, in order to indicate that his exaltation will be something extraordinary. It is a proof that the Parashah refers to our Messiah, that, alluding to the future Deliverance, the prophet had said before, ‘Break forth into joy, ye waste places of Jerusalem’ (Iii. 9), and ‘ How beautiful on the mountains,’ etc. (ver. 7), and immediately afterwards continues, ‘Behold my servant shall prosper,’ etc. As many nations were astonished when they saw Israel’s depression, saying to one another, How marred is the countenance of each one of them! See, how ‘their form is black’ (Lam. iv. 8) beyond other men! for the Gentiles think that the features of a Jew are disfigured and unlike those of other men, so that there are even amongst them those who ask whether a Jew has mouth or eye, as, for example, in the country of Persia (‘Ibn ‘Ezra). So will the King Messiah scatter many nations; at this kings will shut their mouth, in wonder at the glorious and God–sent successes which will attend him. For that which was not told them will they have seen,—it had never, namely, entered into their minds that our Messiah was still to come, for they believe that he has appeared already, but both their memory and their expectation will perish! The parallel, and that which they had not heard, is added for the sake of emphasis.
      LIII. Who would have believed our report? If we had heard, so they will say to one another, from others that which we now are beholding, we should never have believed it: upon whom was the arm of the Lord ever revealed in majesty and greatness, that it should now have been revealed upon a depressed people like this nation of Israel ? The question is one expressive of contempt, as though to say, Who is this that it is thus revealed upon? 2 Before such greatness came to it, it was in depression, i.e. the name of the Messiah was not recognised in the world, but it sprang up out of itself like one of the suckers of a tree, and like the marvel of a root rising out of the dry ground, so Israel was brought up marvellously out of exile: at first it had no comeliness, beauty, or form, and when we beheld it, it had no beauty, so how can the Almighty devise it now? Or the meaning may be; that ‘it had no beauty, neither did we desire it, but, on the contrary, loathed it: He was despised in our eyes, and the most insignificant of men (or, forlorn of men, because they would not associate with him); a man of pains, who passed all his days in anxious dread lest the Gentiles should appear suddenly and attack them; and taught of sickness, being accustomed to have the yoke of exile pass over him. The prophet uses the singular, referring to the Messiah who is their king: thus the Messiah is termed ‘despised’ as representing Israel. Others think ידוע signifies broken.
     And he was as though we hid our faces from him, for we would not look at him because of the loathing which we felt for him; and we accounted him, i.e. Israel, for nought. ‘But now we see that this was not a consequence of his depression, but that he suffered in order that by his sufferings atonement might be made for the whole of Israel, as it is said of the prophet Micah, that the blood issuing from him made atonement for all Israel. The sickness which ought to have fallen upon us was borne by him: the prophet means to say, When Messiah son of Joseph shall die between the gates, and be a marvel in the eyes of creation, why must the penalty he bears be so severe? what is his sin, and what his transgression, except that he will bear the chastisements of Israel, according to the words smitten of God? Others consider that the passage speaks of the Messiah who is smitten now with the pains of the world to come (as it stands in the Gemara), and endures so the sufferings of Israel. And yet we - it is Israel who are speaking - thought that he had been hated of God. ‘But it was not so: he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement which was afterwards to secure our peace was upon him. Like sheep, i.e. like sheep without a shepherd so long as the Messiah had not arrived, we all went astray; yet the Lord let himself be entreated by him and propitiated for the iniquity of us all, in that he refrained from destroying us. He was oppressed under exactors and persecutors, and answered with words of treachery, yet he opened not his mouth, but endured in silence like a sheep led to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before her shearers. (The words פיו יפתח ילא refer to the ‘sheep.’)
     From the confinement in which he was kept by them, and from the judgment or sentence of punishment, he was taken; and who said or suspected that his generation would ever attain such greatness as it has attained now? for at first it was cut off and exiled from the land of life, i.e. the land of Israel; for for the transgression of my people had this stroke come upon the Messiah. He resigned himself to be buried in whatever manner the wicked might decree, who were always condemning Israel to be murdered, and in accordance with (את) their judgment; and was ready for any form of death (מותים) according to the decision of the rich, i.e. of the [wealthy] magistrate.
     Why, however, should he have been thus punished although he had done no violence, etc., except that the Almighty was trying him? The words allude to Israel who are now in exile; though others hold that they allude to the Messiah. את will then signify with, the meaning being that when the wicked man dies, the Messiah will die likewise, as though his grave were with him: in the same way he will die with the rich who accumulates his wealth by robbery, although he had himself done no violence. I will see, the Almighty now says, whether his soul is so devoted to my Holiness as to return itself as a trespass–offering, for all his rebelliousness: if so, I will then pay him his reward; he shall see seed in this present world, and prolong his days in the world to come. אשׁם is the fine or satisfaction which a man gives to one against whom he has committed some offence.
     בידו ה יחפצ, by transposing two of the words, and the business in his hand the Lord shall prosper. Of the labour of his own soul he ate and was satisfied; he did not plunder other people. By his knowledge he will justify the just; the King Messiah will mete out right judgment to all who come to be tried before him; and my servant will become a prince over many—the word עבד being used as in the Gemara, ‘When I make thee a prince, I make thee also a slave.’ And their iniquities he will bear, as happens always with the righteous, as it is said (Num. xviii.1), ‘ Thou and thy sons shall carry the iniquity of the sanctuary.’ Therefore I will divide him a lot and an inheritance with the great, i.e. with the patriarchs in the garden of Eden; and with the mighty, i. e. with the patriarchs also, he shall divide spoil, viz. the spoil of the world to come—the word being used metaphorically—because he poured out his soul to die, resigned himself voluntarily to death, and was numbered with the transgressors, was punished as though he had been one himself, and for the sake of others carried the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors, inasmuch as through his sufferings prosperity came into the world. It may be remarked that Rashi explained this Parashah of the righteous who are in exile, and who endure there suffering and affliction (From the Hind sent forth, a Commentary on the Prophets and Hagiographa by R. Naphtali (Hirsch) ben R. Asher Altschuler. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 318-323). return to index


RABBI MOSHEH BEN MAIMON

What is to be the manner of Messiah’s advent, and where will be the place of his first appearance? He will make his first appearance in the land of Israel, as it is written, ‘The Lord, whom ye seek, will come suddenly to his temple’ (Mal. iii.1); but as to the manner of his appearance, until it has taken place, thou canst not know this so as for it to be said of him that he is ‘the son of such a one, and is of such and such a family:’ there shall rise up one of whom none have known before, and the signs and wonders which they shall see performed by him will be the proofs of his true origin; for the Almighty, where he declares to us his mind upon this matter, says, ‘Behold a man whose name is the Branch, and he shall branch forth out of his place’ (Zech. vi.12). And Isaiah speaks similarly of the time when he will appear, without his father or mother or family being known, He came up as a sucker before him, and as a root out of the dry earth, etc. But the unique phenomenon attending his manifestation is, that all the kings of the earth will be thrown into terror at the fame of him—their kingdoms will be in consternation, and they themselves will be devising whether to oppose him with arms, or to adopt some different course, confessing, in fact, their inability to contend with him or ignore his presence, and so confounded at the wonders which they will see him work, that they will lay their hands upon their mouth; in the words of Isaiah, when describing the manner in which the kings will hearken to him, At him kings will shut their mouth; for that which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heard they have perceived (From The Letter to the South, (Yemen) by Rabbi Mosheh Ben Maimonides, as given in Qobez. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 374-375). return to index


HERZ HOMBERG

This prophecy is disconnected with what precedes it. According to the opinion of Rashi and ’Ibn ‘Ezra, it relates to Israel at the end of their captivity; the term ‘servant’ and the use of the singular number referring to the individual members of the nation. But if so, what can be the meaning of the passage, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions,’ etc.? Who was ‘wounded?’ Who are the ‘transgressors?’ Who ‘carried’ the sickness and ‘bare’ the pains? And where are the sick? Are they not the same as those who are ‘smitten’ and who ‘bear?’ And if ‘each turned to his own way,’ upon whom did ‘the Lord lay the iniquity of them all?’ The Ga’on, Rabbi Sa’adyah, explains the whole Parashah of Jeremiah: and there are indeed numerous parts of Scripture in which we can trace a great resemblance to what befell Jeremiah while persecuted by the false prophets.
     But the commencement of the prophecy, ‘He shall be high and exalted and lofty exceedingly’, and similarly the words ‘with the mighty he shall divide the spoil,’ will not admit of being applied to him. The fact is that it refers to the King Messiah, who will come in the latter days, when it will be the Lord’s good pleasure to redeem Israel from among the different nations of the earth. When he first manifests himself those who see him will marvel at him, asking, Who is this man without form or comeliness, that durst presume in his heart to bid all the kings of the earth set Israel free? In one country, people will revile and despise him, keeping in the distance and hiding their faces from him : in another, they will smite and buffet him till he is covered with bruises and stripes, and exhausted with pains; and if he betakes himself elsewhere, they will there attack him in order to slay him without justice or right, and to cast him forth into the grave of a criminal. And even the Israelites themselves will only regard him as ‘one of the vain fellows,’ believing none of the announcements which will be made by him in God’s name, but being contumacious against him, and averring that all the reproaches and persecutions which fall to his lot are sent upon him from heaven, for that he is ‘smitten of God’ for his own sin. For they will not at first perceive that whatever he underwent was in consequence of their own transgression, the Lord having chosen him to be a trespass–offering, like the scape–goat which bore all the iniquities of the house of Israel.
     Being, however, himself well aware that through his pains and revilings the promised redemption will eventually come at the appointed time, he will endure all with a willing soul, neither complaining nor opening his mouth ‘in the siege and distress wherewith the enemies of Israel will oppress him’ (as is pointed out from the passage here in the Haggadah). And then, when the ‘waters of indignation reach even to the neck,’ the arm of the Lord will be revealed upon him to deliver him out of all his troubles; he will not give him over to die like a transgressor, but he will raise him on high, and exalt him exceedingly, and the Lord’s pleasure shall prosper in his hand. And because he shewed himself ready to meet death for the sake of the many, or, in other words, for the general advantage, he will make him head over the many—i. e. over the children of Israel now in dispersion, and the kings of the earth will be astonished at him, because, though seeming to them at first to be despised and forlorn of men, he will then become as one of themselves, even ‘dividing spoil with the mighty.’ Perhaps upon this prophecy is based the opinion of Sh’mu’el, who said that the only difference between the present world and the days of the Messiah was in the submission of the kingdoms, which would then be consummated.
     LII. ושׁכול, shall prosper. שׁממת, were astonished: all the past tenses in this Parashah must be understood as futures; the prophet in his vision sees the events as though they were already accomplished. כן, rightly­—a word serving to corroborate a statement. מִשׁחת, for מָשׁחת, marrred or spoilt. יוה, according to the Targum, to scatter; and so also Rashi, for in sprinkling, a man scatters the blood which has previously been massed together into innumerable drops. יקפצו, will shut, as Deut. xv.7: in Qamhi’s words, ‘Their astonishment will be such that they will lay their hand upon their mouth;’ there is, however, no occasion to suppose this, for when a man is greatly amazed, his lips are shut and he is unable to speak.
     LIII. This verse is parenthetical, the prophet remarking that the kings will rightly be amazed; for who, that heard our words could fail to believe them! Upon whom was it revealed, save upon him? יונק, a small and weakly plant which clings to the earth, as a sucking child to its mother’s breast. ונראהו, there will be nothing in his countenance to attract the eye of the beholder. חדל, he will be forlorn of men, because all will hold themselves aloof from him. ידוע, chastened and broken by severe sicknesses, as in Judg. viii.16. So R. D....כסםתר, i.e. he will be as one despised and rejected, from whom every one hides his face; comp. Deut. xxxi.18. חשׁבנוהו ולא, for he seemed in our eyes to be worth nothing at all; comp. Is. ii.22.
     In accordance with the view which we have stated above, these are the words of Israel, recognising what was previously hidden from them, and exclaiming, Now we know that it was for our sins that he suffered.סבלם, the suffix is appended, although the substantive has preceded, for emphasis, as Exod. ii.6 (R. D...) But we at that time erred in imagining that his sufferings were for his own sin. מחולל, as חלל, Ps.cix.22. מפשׁעינו, on account of our transgressions,—מן, as in מדבר, Josh. xxii. 24: so also מעונותינו וג׳ מוסר, i.e.: whatever might remove or put an end to our peace he took upon himself.
     We went astray like sheep, which go they know not whither. הפגיע: the root פגע, besides its usual and known significations, denotes also bodily or moral perception produced either by contact with a sensible object, or by a mental representation, or by some other influence affecting the subject: and so it said, A block­ head is not easily touched, i.e. has no feeling. עון the penalty for iniquity, as Gen. iv. 13 . נענה, was answered with words of fraud (Rashi). עצר: the ruler who is a protector of his people is called עוצר (a sovereign); comp. i Sam. ix.17. משׁפט, i.e. the place in which the judges sit. לקח, was seized, as i Sam. iv.11: and hence the spoil which soldiers take forcibly from their captives is termed מלקוח. The meaning is that they will seize him, and neither allow him to be brought before the sovereign for fear he should have compassion on him and rescue him from their hands, nor permit him to appear before the judges lest on trial he should be acquitted: thus he will be debarred from both the sovereign and the judge. ישׁוחח, to declare, as Ps. cxliii.5: the clause, And his generation, etc., forms a parenthesis, in which the prophet asks, Who would even mention with his lips that cruel and wicked generation which would interdict him guiltless and uncondemned from the land of the living? The meaning of נגזר is not that they will actually kill him (else what can be the signification of ‘he shall see seed, have long days,’ and ‘therefore I will divide him,’ etc. 7), but that they will devise to do so, and will decree that he is to have his grave with the wicked: God however will deliver him, and not leave him in their power: נגזר thus signifies was decreed, as Est. ii.1. ויתן: we have already shewn how they agreed together to condemn him as one accursed; so that if they suc­ceeded in putting him to death, they would have buried him beside the wicked.
     עשׁור, used as in Job xxvii.19, ‘The rich lieth down, and doth so no more,’ where Job adds (verse 13), ‘This is the portion of the wicked man:’ the word appears, then, to be sometimes used especially of one who has enriched him­ self by robbery and violence, and is here, therefore, parallel to the ‘wicked.’ שׁלל, used as in Job xxvii.19, ‘The rich lieth down, and doth so no more,’ where Job adds (verse 13), ‘This is the portion of the wicked man:’ the word appears, then, to be sometimes used especially of one who has enriched himself by robbery and violence, and is here, therefore, parallel to the ‘wicked.’ llv does not here signify the spoil of war, for nothing is said of any battle to be waged by him, but abundance and plenty of good things, as in Prov. xxxi.11: the meaning being that like one of the mighty among the kings of the earth, he will live in affluence and plenty. הערה, poured out his soul, emptying it from his body, as Gen. xxiv.20. He was counted with the transgressors, because they appointed his grave by the side of the wicked. ופגיע, he will intercede for the transgressors, and for those who rise up against him (Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 400-405). return to index


DON YIZHAQ, ABARBANEL

The thirtieth prophecy begins with the words, Behold my servant...and extends as far as, Shout, 0 barren one (liv.1), thus occupying an entire Parashah. I intend to ask six questions respecting it. I. The first question is to ascertain to whom it refers: for the learned among the Nazarenes expound it of the man who was crucified in Jerusalem at the end of the second Temple, and who, according to them, was the Son of God, and took flesh in the virgin’s womb, as is stated in their writings. But Yonathan ben Uzziel interprets it in the Thargum of the future Messiah; and this is also the opinion of our own learned men in the majority of their Midrashim, although one of the verses in it, ‘Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many’ (liii. I2), is referred, as will be there shewn, to Moses our master. In the same way I see in the exposition of R. Mosheh ben Nahman that he explains the prophecy of the King Messiah.
     The Ga’on, R. Sa‘adyah, however, interprets it entirely of Jeremiah, understanding he will sprinkle (Iii.14) in the sense of dropping words, because Jeremiah prophesied about many peoples; pointing out also that the word sucker is an allusion to his ‘youth’ (Jer. i.6), that he ‘bare the sin of many’ when he ‘stood before’ God ‘ to speak good for them’ (xviii.20), that he was ‘like a sheep led to the slaughter,’ as he says himself (xi.19), and that the words ‘ I will divide him a portion with the great’ have reference to the provisions with which he was every day supplied (xl.5). And R. Abraham ‘Ibn ‘Ezra, as also R. Menahem [ben Sh’lomoh] Me’iri, speaks of this interpretation as ‘excellent;’ though what may be the goodness or excellence that they see in it, I do not understand. Rashi, however, and R. Joseph Qamhi, and his son, the great R. David Qamhi, all with one voice explain the entire prophecy of Israel. We ought, therefore, to ascertain at the beginning of our exposition the true purport of the prophecy, as regards the subject to whom it refers....
      As regards the course taken by Yonathan and our other wise men, who interpret it of Messiah our righteousness, I do not know whether in saying this they mean Messiah the son of Joseph, who they believe is to come at the commencement of the deliverance, or whether they intend Messiah the son of David, who is to arrive afterwards. In either case, however, the natural sense of the words will not admit of such an explanation. Of Messiah the son of Joseph, who is to die at the ‘outset of his career, it could not be said that he would be ‘high and exalted, and lofty exceedingly;’ such dignity as this he would never even acquire, still less maintain. The subject of this prophecy is further spoken of as having a countenance marred beyond men,’ as being ‘despised,’ ‘a man of pains and known to sickness:’ yet all this forms no part of the description of the Messiah as given by our own Rabbis: why, indeed, should it?
     The meaning of `with the rich in, his death’ is also not to be ascertained. And how could it be said of him that he will ‘lengthen days,’ when he was to die at the beginning of his career! If, on the other hand, our Rabbis have in view Messiah the son of David, then a difficulty arises from the words marred beyond man,’ ‘without form or comeliness,’ for Isaiah himself, so far from calling him ‘despised’ or ‘forlorn of men,’ describes him as God’s ‘chosen one, in whom his soul delights’ (xlii. 1), and as the ‘rod out of the stump’ of Jesse, upon whom ‘the spirit of the Lord rests’ (xi.2), and unto whom ‘the Gentiles will seek’ (ver. 10). Then again, how could he be said to have ‘borne our pains,’ or to be ‘stricken and smitten?’ rather, he is to be a righteous king—not ‘stricken and smitten,’ but ‘righteous and victorious’ (Zech. ix.9). And if this is the case, what can be the sense of the verses which teach how he will bear sufferings and death for Israel’s sake?
     A further difficulty is caused by ver. 8; for Messiah, the son of David, will possess ‘sovereignty and right,’ instead of being ‘taken’ from it: nor will he be ‘cut off out of the land of life,’ but rather reign there: the plural למו ‘upon them,’ ought also to be the singular לו ‘upon him.’ And, lastly, the words, ‘made his grave with the wicked,’ are contradicted by what the prophet says above (xi.10), ‘and the place of his rest shall be glorious.’
     In a word, the interpretation of Yonathan, and of those who follow him in the same opinion, can never be considered to be the true one, in a literal sense, because the character and drift of the passage as a whole will not bear it these learned men were only concerned with allegorical or adventitious expositions, and hence merely applied the traditions they had received respecting the Messiah to the present passage, without in the least imagining such to be its actual meaning. For although our Rabbis explain the first verse, ‘Behold my servant will deal prudently,’ etc., of the King Messiah, yet the verses which remain they apply exclusively to Israel; and the same thing is done also by Yonathan, who interprets the first few verses of the Messiah, and the rest of the chosen just ones. This transition is the less difficult, since many of them expound the words, ‘I will divide him a portion with the many,’ of Moses, our master; who died with the genera­tion of the wilderness: but they do not on this account affirm that the whole Parashah relates to him. And R. Mosheh ben Nahman, although he explains it of the King Messiah, states that in his opinion it was uttered originally with reference to the congregation of Israel...
     As to the opinion of the Ga’on, who supposes the prophecy to allude to Jeremiah, I cannot in truth see a single verse which really points to him. How is it possible to explain of Jeremiah the verse, ‘He shall be high and exalted, and lofty exceedingly,’ or, ‘Kings will shut their mouths at him?’—for at the time when he lived the appearance of a prophet was nothing unusual. Or how could it be said of him, that he ‘bare our sicknesses,’ or that ‘by his stripes we were healed,’ or that the iniquity of us all was ‘laid upon him,’ as though he suffered the entire penalty, and Israel escaped free? Nor do we read in his history anything of his being stricken ‘for the transgression of my people,’ or of his ‘making his grave with the wicked,’ still less of his ‘seeing seed,’ and having long life, or ‘dividing spoil with the mighty:’ not a word of all this can be substantiated from the history. I indeed wonder greatly who can have led the Ga’on into this opinion, and am surprised both at him and at the scholars who applaud his exposition. We conclude, then, that all these methods of interpretation are alien to the subject, and have no basis or support in the words of Scripture...
     With respect to the Midrash, ‘He shall be higher than Abraham, lifted up above Moses, loftier than the ministering angels,’ the Rabbis do not, in saying this, intend to refer to Israel, but, as their manner is, to expound the verse in which the words in question occur, of the King Messiah. The exposition itself occurs in the Midrash of R. Tanchuma, as follows:—‘Who art thou, 0 great, mountain? (Zech. iv.7). And why does he call him ‘the great mountain?’ because he is greater than the patriarchs, as it is said, ‘My servant shall he high and exalted, and lofty exceedingly: ‘he will be higher than Abraham, who says, “I raise high my hands unto the Lord” (Gen. xiv.22); lifted up above Moses, to whom it is said, “Lift it up in thy bosom” (Num. xi.12); loftier than the ministering angels, of whom it is written, “Their wheels were lofty and terrible” (Ez. i.18)’ (From the Commentary upon Isaiah by Don Yizhaq Abarbanel. Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 153, 162-165). return to index


RABBI ELIYYAH DE VIDAS

It is said in the Tana d’be Eliyyahu, during the thirteen years for which R. Shim‘on ben Yohai was imprisoned in the cave, the depths of wisdom were revealed to him, and he attained knowledge of the future. In particular, he learnt how the man that has committed iniquities must suffer for them, and is not worthy to enter the celestial light (which is the oil of which David speaks when he says, Ps xxiii.5, ‘Thou makest mine head fat with oil’), unless he first bruise and crush himself, as it is said (Num. xxviii.5), ‘Mingled with crushed oil:’ and it is that which is written, But he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the emaning of which is that since the Messiah bears our iniquities which produce the effect of his being bruised, it follows that whoso will not admit that the Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities, must endure and suffer for them himself (From the Beginning of Wisdom, by R. Eliyyah de Vidas (1575). Found in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters, S.R. Driver, A.D. Neubauer (Oxford: Parker, 1877), pp. 385-386). return to index