MembersMessianism: Crystallization of Developing Biblical Motifs

When and where does the term “messiah” come to mean the future Davidic king of Israel and apocalyptic redeemer?

By Solomon Kirsch | | Topics: Jewish Messianism
How did the concept of Messiah develop
Photo: Gershon Elinson/Flash90

In Part 2 we learned that the New Testament and early Jewish Christianity give us the prototype of a Jewish Messianism. There is no other messianism or messianic figure quite like Jesus within Judaism.

Before continuing in our understanding of the messianic idea and beliefs in rabbinic Judaism, it is important to clarify what the Hebrew Bible actually says about the Messiah, as both Judaism and early Christianity, including the Apostle Paul, claim that their understanding of Messiah is based on scripture.

There are two messianic threads in the Hebrew Bible: the term ”messiah,” and the figure of David. These concepts develop separately and only at an advanced stage merge into the messianic idea.



The Hebrew word mishcha (משחה) “messiah” appears early in scripture (Exodus 25:6) as a verb “to spread” a liquid. In modern Hebrew in its noun form it is the common word for “paste” or “cream.” How did this ordinary term come to be used by Paul to describe the legendary apocalyptic...

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