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Messianic Hope

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By way of supplement to the article MESSIAH (See MESSIAH) (q.v.), we give in general outlines a history of the expectation of the Messiah as developed in the apocalyptic writings.

Of the deepest influence upon the development of the messianic idea were the prophecies of Daniel, the essence of which is the reign of the pious (see 2:44; 7:14, 27). The apocrypha of the Old Test. contain but few messianic allusions, because, for the most part, they are historical or didactic, and not prophetic. But this does not mean that the messianic idea was not entertained by the authors. Besides the hope of a return of the dispersed of Israel (Baruch 4:36-37; Baruch 5:5-9; 2 Maccabees 2:18), of a conversion of the Gentiles (Tobit 13:11-18; Tobit 14:6-7), and the-perpetual existence of the Jewish nation (Sirach 37:25; Sirach 44:13), we also find the idea of an everlasting kingdom of the house of David (Eccles. 47:11; 1 Maccabees 2:57).

The richer, however, flows the stream of messianic prophecies in the oldest Jewish Sibylline Oracles (q.v.), especially 3:652-794. Very few messianic comments are found in the groundwork of the Book of Enoch (q.v.; see 90:16-38), but more in the Psalter of Solomon (q.v.; see Psalms 17:11; Psalms 18:6-9) and in the Assumption of Moses (q.v.). The messianic time is also depicted in the Book of Jubilees (q.v.). All these documents prove sufficiently that the messianic hope had not been dead in the last centuries before Christ, and this is corroborated by the Targum of Onkelos and Jonathan. Another important witness is Philo, who, in De Execrationibus, § 8, 9 (ed. Mang. 2:435 sq.) and De Prmmiis et Poenis, § 15-20 (ibid. 2:421-428), speaks of the messianic hope.

But, aside from these witnesses, we have the New Test., which fully proves that the messianic idea in the time before Christ was by no means extinguished in the consciousness of the people (see Matthew 11:3; Matthew 16:13 sq.; Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:27; Mark 11; Luke 7:19-20; Luke 9:18 sq.; Luke 9:19; John 12). For the time after Christ we need no evidence. The many political events prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the people expected the beginning of the kingdom of God on earth. Josephus himself confesses that the messianic hope was one of the most powerful instruments in the insurrection against Rome, although, to please the Romans, he referred the messianic prophecies to Vespasian.

As for the messianic hope after the destruction of Jerusalem, the apocalypses of Baruch and Ezra give ample descriptions. What is expressed there finds its reflection in the Jewish prayer called Shemoneh Esreh (q.v.), especially in the 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th, and 17th petitions. Thus far the historical outline. We come now to the systematic arrangement of messianic dogmatics.

1. Signs of the Last Times. Almost everywhere, when reference is made to eschatology, we meet with the same thought, that the beginning of the time of salvation is to be ushered in by great tribulations. The basis for these speculations was no doubt Daniel 12:1, "There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time." Thus originated in the rabbinic dogma the doctrine of the חבלי המשיח, "the birth-pains of the Messiah" (see Matthew 24:8 : πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων ). Glowing descriptions of the signs of the last times are found in Orac. Sibyll. 3:795-807 (comp. 4 Ezra 5:1-13; 6:18-28; 9:1-12; 13:29-31; Apocalypse of Baruch, 70:2-8; Book of Jubilees see Ewald's Jahrbuchern, 3:23 sq.]; Mishna, Sota. 9:15). See also Matthew 24:7-12; Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19; Luke 21:23; 1 Corinthians 7:26; 2 Timothy 3:1; and comp. Schottgen, Horae Hebraicae, 2:509 sq., 550 sq.; Bertholdt, Christologia Judaeorum, pages 45-54; Gfrorer, Das Jahrhundert. des Heils, 2:225 sq. 300-304; Oehler, in Herzog's Real- Encyklop. 9:436 sq. (2d ed. 9:666); Hamburger, Real-Encyklop. art. "Messianische Leidenszeit," pages 735-738.

2. Elijah the Forerunner of the Messiah. From Malachi 3:23, 24 (A.V. Malachi 4:5-6) it was inferred that the prophet Elijah was to return to prepare the way for the Messiah. This idea is already presupposed, Sirach 48:10-11 (see also Matthew 17:10; Mark 9:11; also Matthew 11:14; Matthew 16:14; Mark 6:15; Mark 8:28; Luke 9:8; Luke 9:19; John 1:21). The object of his message is to make peace on earth (see Mishna, Eduyoth, 8:7), and to harmonize differences (Baba Mezia, 3:4, 5; 1:8; 2:8). Besides these things, he was to anoint the Messiah (Justin, Dial. cum Tryph. c. 8, 49), and to raise the dead (Soat, 9:15 s. f.). Besides Elijah, some also expected the prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15; comp. John 1:21; John 6:14; John 7:40), while still others thought that Jeremiah (Matthew 16:16) was to be the forerunner of the Messiah. In Christian writings, Enoch is mentioned as one who was to come back (Ev. Nicodemi, c. 25; see also Thilo, Codere Apocryph. Nov. Testamenti, pages 756-768). On the forerunner of the Messiah, compo Schottgen, u.s. page 533 sq.; Lightfoot, Horae Hebr. on Matthew 17:10; Bertholdt, u.s. page 58-68; Gfrorer, u.s. pages 227-229; Alexandre, Orac. Sibyll. 1st ed. 2:513-516; Der Prophet Elia in der Legende (Frankels Monatsschrift, 1863, pages 241-255, 281-296); Elias who was to Come (Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical Record, new series, 1867, 10:371-376); Castelli, Il Messia secondo gli Ebrei, pages 196-201; Weber, System der altsynagogalen paldstinischen Theologie, pages 337-339.

3. Appearance of the Messiah. After these preparations, Messiah comes. It is by no means correct to say that pre-Christian Judaism expected the Messiah only after the judgment, and that through the influence of Christianity the idea had become prevalent that the Messiah himself was to judge his enemies. For in the books of Baruch and Ezra, Enoch, and in the Targums, in the Psalter of Solomon, and in Philo, Messiah appears everywhere as conquering hostile powers.

As to his names, the common one is the Anointed, the Messiah (Enoch 48:10; 52:4; Baruch 29:3; 30:1; 39:7; 40:1; 70:9; 72:2; Ezra 7:28, 29, where the Latin translation is interpolated; 12:32: "unctus"); Greek, χριστὸς κυρίου Psalt. of Sol. 17:36; 18:68), Hebrew, הִמָּשַׁיח (Mishna, Berachoth, 1:5), Aramaic, מְשַׁיחָא (ibid. Sota, 9:15), or מִלְכָּא מְשַׁיחָא (in the Targums). Peculiar to the Book of Enoch are: "the Son of man" (46:1- 4; 48:2; 57:7, 9, 14; 63:11; 69:26, 27; 70:1), and the "Elect One" (45:3, 4; 49:2; 51:3, 5; 52:6, 9; 53:6; 55:4; 61:8; 12:1). Very seldom is he called the "Son of God" (105:2, 4 Ezra 7:28, 29; 13:32, 37, 52; 14:9), and only once he is called "Son of the woman" (Enoch 62:5). He was to comefrom the tribe of David (Psalt. of Sol. 17:5, 23; Matthew 22:42; Mark 12:35; Luke 20:41; John 7:42; John 7:4 Ezra 12:32; Targum on Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15). Hence "Son of David" is the common designation of the Messiah (in the New Test. after ὑιὸς Δανίδ, in the Targum on Hosea 3:5 : בִּר דָּוַד, in the Shemoneh Esreh, 15th petition, צֶמִח דָּוַד ). As belonging to the tribe of David he must also be born at Bethlehem, in the city of David (Micah 5:1, and the Targum in loco; Matthew 2:5; John 7:41-42). Whether the pre-Christian Judaism thought of the Messiah as a mere man or as a being imbued with higher power, especially whether it ascribed to him preexistence, cannot be decided with certainty. In general it can be said that he was expected as a humanm king and ruler, but endowed with special gifts and powers by God. This is especially evident from the Psalter of Solomon (17, 23, 47, 35, 41, 46, 42). The same idea we find in Orac. Sibyll. 3:49. But his pre-existence is also described in the Book of Enoch, 46:1, 2; 62:7; 48:3, 6; 46:1, 3; 49:2-4; comp. also 4 Ezra 12:32; 13:26, 52. And this idea of pre-existence cannot be ascribed to Christian influences, because it fully harmonizes with the Old-Test. idea concerning the Messiah (comp. Micah 5:1; Daniel 7:13-14).

4. The Last Enemies. On the appearance of the Messiah the enemies of the Israelites and of God will muster their forces for a last decisive conflict. The picture which Ezekiel drew of the armies of Gog and Magog, and the representation given in Daniel 11, are abundantly reproduced in Orac. Sibyll. 3:663 sq.; 4 Ezra 13:33 sq.; Enoch 90:16, except that the conflict does not concern the Messiah, but the congregation of God. In general, it is supposed that the leader in this conflict is the antichrist, who is called in rabbinic writings Anrmilus (ארמילוס ).

5. Destruction of the Enemies. From the dangers which will thus gather round them the Israelites are to be delivered by the signal destruction of their foes. Comp. Assumptio Mosis 10; Enoch 90; Orac. Sibyll. 3:652 sq.; Psalt. of Sol. 17:27, 39; Apoc. Baruch 39:7-40:2; 70:9; 72:2-6; 4 Ezra 12:32, 33; 13:27, 28,35-38.

6. Renovation of Jerusalem. Since the messianic kingdom is to be founded in the Holy Land, Jerusalem must be renewed. This renovation will take place by purifying the holy city from the Gentiles, who now live in it (Psalt. of Sol. 17:25, 33). Besides this view there was another, that there already existed in the pre-messianic time a more glorious Jerusalem than the earthly one, with God in heaven, and that this was to come down on earth at the beginning of the messianic time (Enoch 53:6; 90:28, 29; 4 Ezra 7:26; Apoc. Baruch 32:4). See also Schottgen, De Hierosolyma Coelesti ( Horae Hebr. 1:1205-1248 ); Meuschen, Novum Testamentum ex Talmude, page 199 sq.; Wetstein, Novum Test. ad Galatas, 4:26; Eisenmrenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, 2:839 sq.; Bertholdt, u.s. pages 217-221; Gfrorer, u.s. 2:245 sq. 308; Weber, u.s. page 356 sq.

7. Gathering of the Dispersed. That the dispersed of Israel should have part in the messianic kingdom and return to Palestine was a matter of course, even. though there were no prophecies of the Old Test. In a poetical manner this is described (Psalt. of Sol. 11:17; Baruch 4:36-37; Baruch 5:5-9; Philo, De Excrationibus, § 8, 9; 4 Ezra 13:39-47). As this hope was so general, it is strange that rabbi Akiba should have doubted the return of the ten tribes (Sanhedrin, 10:3 s. f.).

8. The Kingdom of Glory in Palestine. The messianic kingdom has, it is true, the messianic king at its head, but its supreme ruler is God (see Orac. Sibyll. 3:704-706, 717, 756-759; Psalt. of Sol. 17:1, 38, 51; Shemoneh Esreh, 11th benediction; Joseph. War, 2:8, 1). Hence it is often called the kingdom of God (βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ, so especially in the New Test. by Mark and Luke; Orac. Sibyll. 3:47, 48; βασιλεία μεγίστη ἀθανάτον βασιλῆος ; see Psalt. of Sol. 17:4; Assumptio Mosis 10:1, 3). Besides, we also find "kingdom of heaven," βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν . For the latter expression, see Schittgen, De Regno Caolorum ( Horae Hebr. 1:1147- 1152); Lightfoot, Horae ad Matthew 3:2; Wetstein, in Matthew 3:3; Bertholdt, u.s. pages 187-192; De Witte, Biblische Dogmatik, pages 175-177; Tholuck, Bergpredigt, page 66 sq.; Fritzsche, Evang. Matthaei, page 109 sq.; Kuinoel, in Matthew 3:3; Wichelhaus, Commentar. zu der Leidensgeschicht (1855), page 284 sq.; Keim, Geschichte Jesu, 2:33 sq.; Schtirer, Der Begrif des Himmelreiches aus judischen Quellen erlautert (Jahrbucher fur prot. Theologie, 1876, pages 166-187); Cremer, Bibl. Theolog. Worterbuch, s.v. βασιλεία .

To the glory of the messianic kingdom belongs, above all things, the dominion over the world (see Isaiah 2:2 sq.; Isaiah 42:1-6; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 51:4-5; Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 16:19 sq.; Micah 4:1 sq.; Micah 7:16 sq.; Zephaniah 2:11; Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 8:20 sq.; and especially Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:14; Daniel 7:27). This hope has also been held by later Judaism, but in a different manner; see Orac. Sibyll. 3:698-726, 766-783; Philo, De Proem. et Pon. § 16; Enoch 90:30, 37; Psalt. of Sol. 17:32-35. Otherwise the messianic time, mostly on the basis of Old-Test. passages, is represented as a time of pure joy and happiness. There is no war (Orac. Sibyll. 3:371-380, 751-760; Philo, De Proem. et Poen. § 16; Apocal. Baruch 73:4, 5). Even the wild beasts serve man (Orac. Sibyll. 3:787-794; Philo, u.s. § 15; Targum on Isaiah 11:6). Earth is very fertile (Orac. Sibyll. 3:620-623, 743-750; Baruch 29:5-8); men are rich and well to do (Philo, § 17, 18); they become nearly one thousand years old, and yet do not feel their age, but are like boys (Ewald, Jubilees, 3:24). All enjoy bodily strength and health; women bear children without pains, etc. (Philo, § 20; Baruch 73:2, 3, 7; 74:1). But these external gifts are not the only ones. They are but the consequence of the fact that the messianic congregation represents a holy people, sanctified by God, and led in righteousness by the Messiah. He allows no unrighteousness to dwell among them, nor is any one who knows malice in their midst. Hence they are all holy (Psalt. of Sol. 17:28, 29, 36, 48, 49; 18:9, 10). The life in the messianic kingdom is a perpetual λατρεύειν θεῷ ἐν ὁσιότητι καὶ δικαιοσύνη ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ (Luke 1:74-75).

With this kingdom of glory in Palestine the eschatological expectation generally closes; indeed, many regard it as without an end. But afterwards the messianic kingdom is described as of a limited period, and in the Talmud the duration of this time is a matter of debate (Sanhedrin, fol. 99, Colossians 1). The same view we find in the Apoc. Baruch 40:3, and 4 Ezra 12:34; 7:28, 29. Wherever, therefore, a temporal duration is ascribed to the messianic' kingdom, at the end of the time a renovation of the world and the last judgment is still expected.

9. Renovation of the World. The hope of a renovation of heaven and earth is founded on Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22 (see also Matthew 19:28; Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:13). Accordingly, a distinction was made between the present world and the world to come, הָעוֹלָם הִזֶּה and הִבָּאהָעוֹלָם ; in the New Test., αἰών ουτος and 6 αἱών μέλλων or ἐρχόμενος . But there was a difference of opinion. Some would make the new world commence with the beginning of the messianic time (Enoch 45:4, 5), others with its end (4 Ezra 7:30, 31). In accordance with these different views, the messianic time is either identified with the world to come, or is still reckoned to the present world. But the older and more original view is the one which identifies the days of the Messiah with the world to come. On the "world to come," see Mishna, Berachotk, 1:5; Psalms 1:1; Kiddushin, 4:14; Baba Mezia, 2:11; Sanhedrin, 10:1-4; Aboth, 4:1, 16; 5:19; Apoc. Baruth 45:15; 48:50; 73:3; 4 Ezra 6:9; 7:12, 13, 42, 43; 8:8. Comp. also Rhenferdius, De Saeculo Futuro (in Meuschen, u.s. pages 1116-1171); Witsius, De Saeculo hoc et Futuro, u.s. pages 1171-1183; Schottgen, u.s. 1153-1158; Lightfoot, ad Matthew 12:32; Wetstein, ad Matthew 12:32; Koppe, Novum Test. 6; Epist. ad Ephes. Exc. 1; Bertholdt, u.s. pages 38-43; Gfrorer, u.s. 2:212-217; Bleck, Hebraerbrief, 2:1, 20 sq.; Oehler, in Herzog's Real Encyklop. 9:434 sq.; 2d ed. 9:664 sq.; Geiger, Judische Zeitschrift, 1866, page 124; Weber, u.s. page 354 sq.

10. General Resurrection. Before the last judgment is held, a general resurrection of the dead occurs. In general, there was a firm belief in the resurrection of the dead, which is for the first time intimated in Daniel 12:2, and this belief was held by all who were more or less influenced by Pharisaism. Only the Sadducees denied the resurrection (Joseph. Ant. 18:14; War, 2:8, 14), and the Alexandrian theology substituted for it an immortality of the soul (Wisdom of Sol. 3:1 sq.; 4:7; 5:16). The time between death and resurrection is for the righteous a time of preliminary happiness, and for the wicked a preliminary state of misery. The literature on that subject is very rich. See Bertholdt, u.s. pages 176-181, 203-206; Gfrorer, u.s. 275-285, 308 sq.; Herzfeld, Gesch. d. Volkes Israel, 3:307- 310, 328-333, 349-351, 504-506; Langen, Das Judenthum in Palastina, page 338 sq.; Rothe, Dogmatik, 2:2, 68-71, 298-308; Oehler, Theologie des Alten Testaments, 2:241 sq.; Hermann Schultz, Alttestamentliche Theologie, 2d ed. page 713 sq. 807 sq.; Hamburger, Real-Encycklop. 2:98 sq. (art. "Belebung der Todten"); Stahelin, Jahrb. fur deutsche Theologie, 1874, page 199 sq.; Weber, u.s. page 371 sq.; Grobler, Die Ansichten uber Unsterblischkeit und Auferstehung in der judischen Literatur der beiden letzten Jahrh. vor Christus, in Studien und Kritiken, 1879, pages 651-700.

11. Last Judgment. Eternal Blessedness and Damnation. A last judgment after the end of the messianic period can only be thought of where the messianic kingdom is of a finite duration (see Baruch 1:4; Baruch 4 Ezra 7:33-35). God himself is the judge of all men (Baruch 51:4, 5; 4 Ezra 6:2). In general it may be said that all Israel have a part in the future world (Satnhedrin, 10:1), with the exception of the wicked in Israel (10:1-4). They, together with Israel's enemies, go down into the fire of Gehenna (Baruch 45:15; 51:1, 2:4-6; 4 Ezra 5:1-3, 59). As a rule this damnation is regarded as everlasting; but there is also the view which ascribes a limited duration of hell-punishment (Mishna, Eduyoth, 2:10). The righteous and pious will be received into paradise, and will behold the majesty of God and of his holy angels. Their face shall shine like the sun, and they shall live forever (Baruch 51:3, 7-14; 4 Ezra 6:1-3, 68-72; Assumptio Mosis 10:9, 10).

Literature. Besides the works of Schottgen, Bertholdt, De Wette, Gfrorer, Weber, Hamburger, already mentioned, see Moraht, De iis, quae ad Cognoscendam Judweorum Palestinensium, qui Jesu Tempore Vivebant, Christologiam Evangelia Nobis Exhibeant, Deque Locis Messianis in Illis Allegatis (Gottingen, 1829); Von Colln, Biblische Theologie (1836), 1:479-511; Mack, Die messianischen Erwartungen und Ansichten der Zeitgenossen Jesu (in Tub. Theol. Quartalschrift, eod. pages 356, 193-226); Bruno Bauer, Kritik der evangelischen Geschichto der Synoptiker (1841), 1:391-416; Zeller, Ueber die Behauptung dass das vorchristliche Judenthum noch keine messianische Dogmatik gehabt habe (Theol. Jahrbucher, 1843, pages 35-52); Hellwag, in Theol. Jahrbucher von Bauer und Zeller (1848), pages 151-160; Hilgenfeld, Die judische Apocalyptik in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwickelung (Jena, 1857); Oehler, art. "Messias," in Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 9:408 sq.; 2d ed. 9:641 sq.; Colani, Jesus-Christ et les Croyances Messianiques de son Temps (2d ed. Strasburg, 1864), pages 1-68; Langen, Das Judenthum in Paldstina zur Zeit Christi (Freiburg, 1866), pages 391-461; Ewald, Geschichte des Volkes Israel (3d ed. 1867), 5:135-160; Kkim, Geschichte Jesu (cod.), 1:239-250 (Engl. transl. pages 308-321; Lond. 1873); Holtzmann, Die Messiasidee zur Zeit Jesu (Jahrb. fur deutsche Theologie, 1867, pages 389-411); the same, in Weber and Holtzmann's Geschichte des Volkes Israel (cod.), 2:191-211; Hausrath, Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte (i868), 1:172-184; 2d ed. (1873), page 165-176; Engl. transl. (Lond. 1878) 1:191-204; Weiffenbach, Quae Jesu in Regno Caelesti Dignitas sit Synopticorum Sentia Exponitur (Giessen, 1868), pages 47-62; Ebrard, Wissenschafiliche Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte (3d .ed. eod.), pages 835-849; Wittichen, Die Idee des Reiches, Gottes (Gottingen, 1872), pages 105-165; Anger, Vorlesungen uber die Geschichte der messianischen Idee (edited by Krenkel; Berlin, 1873), pages 78-91; Castelli, Il Messia Secondo gli Ebrei (Florence, 874); Vernes, Histoire des Idees Messianiques depuis Alexandre Jusqu'a l'Empereur, Hadrien (Paris, cod.); Schbnefeld, Ueber die messianische Hoffnung von 200 vor Christo bis gegen 50 nach Christo (Jena, eod.); Drummond, The Jewish Messiah (Lond. 1877); Stapfer, Les Idees Religieuses en Palestine a l'Epoque de Jesus-Christ (2d ed. 1878), pages 111-132; Reuss, Geschichte der heiligen Schriften des Alten Testaments (1881), § 555, 556; Hamburger, Real- Encyklop. fur Bibel und Talmud, II Abtheilung (1883), articles: "Messianische Leidenszeit," "Messias," "Messiasleiden," "Messias Sohn Joseph," "Messiaszeit" (pages 735-779); also Armilus, Belebung der Todten. Ewiges Leben, Lohn und Strafe, Paradies, Vergeltung, Zukunftsmahl; Pick, Talmudic Notices concerning Messiah (Presbyterian Review, July 1884); Old Testament Passages Messianically Applied by the Ancient Synagogue (Hebraica, October, 1884 and seq.); Schurer, Lehrbuch der Neutestamentlichen Zeitgeschichte (Leipsic, 1874), page 563 sq.; 2d ed. with the title Geschichte des judischen Voikes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi (1886), 2:417 sq. (B.P.)


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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Messianic Hope'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/m/messianic-hope.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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