David Solomon on “The Messianic Idea in Jewish History”
Solomon confirms the idea of a personal Messianic deliverer is late.
Many scholars believe that that picture that idea is not really older than say the first century BCE in the late Hellenic already, in fact
later getting to late antiquity.
The idea evolved over time starting with seeds planted in the Torah and expanded with the kings and prophets.
There are illusions in the Torah itself to the messiah.
Of course in a very blatant and direct way comes from the great prophets of Israel. The ones that emerge during the second temple period and almost every prophet, every navi, speaks of it.
He claims the Jews were among the first to have the concept of a worldwide future ideal state.
An ideal society, a society completely just and righteous and free, the eschatological vision, the akharitayam vision of the prophets of Israel also give us and really are among the first to conceive this idea. Already in the 8th century bce of world peace. That ideal scenario of the Jewish people redeemed and returned and setting up this new order, that’s not just for themselves, that’s part of a totally new order for the world, which is world peace.
Solomon confirms “the Messiah” is not found in the Tanakh.
The word “the Messiah” does not really appear in Tanakh.
One of the earliest prophecies of a messiah is from Hannah.
The second chapter Samuel 1. It is from the prayer of Hannah after she brings her little child Samuel to serve in the tabernacle. And she offers this incredible prayer of high praise and prophecy in the course of which she utters the verse he shall give strength he shall give power to his king and shall raise the horn of his anointed one. We don’t even have a king yet.
Only six kings have been explicitly mentioned to have been anointed.
There are only six kings in Tanakh that are explicitly said to have been anointed.
Of course that has mystical meaning in itself because we’re
waiting for the seventh.
David is a proginator of the messiah.
We’re going to have to look at David himself. Why is it that he is the progenitor of the messianic picture? What is it about David?
First of all on the one hand he comes from. He is anointed in adversity and has to come in as an agent of change in the social order. That is one thing that David represents in the transition from the Benjamite kingdom of Saul to the Judean kingdom of David.
The legitimacy of David’s kingdom was based not on military or economic strength, but on justice and righteousness.
But also on the other hand his entire kingdom is predicated on justice. It derives its legitimacy from justice.
David’s kingdom is undone more by injustice than it is by military threat. Many of the subsequent kings of Israel thought, and rulers of Israel at various times thought that their power would be secured and that their kingdom would be legitimated by force by military prowess or even by economic treaty. But the kingdom of David the kingdom that David avowedly sought to set up and did an attempt to set up was a kingdom predicated on justice and which drove drew its legitimacy from.
Closest David himself came to being undermined was through injustice, not through any enemy at the gates.
The God of the Bible is not limited to just the Jews, but to the entire world. And God wants justice for the whole world.
There’s world peace seems to work in parallel with the increasing universalization of the concept of God itself. That God is not merely the God of the Jewish people but in fact that universal God of the whole world. And of everything and therefore demands justice and righteousness from the whole world, which is one of the great revolutionary moments in the prophetic tradition.
Moses was also a prototype of the messiah.
Joseph Klausner’s famous work from the 1920s, “The messianic idea in Israel”, where he posits the ultimate prototype of the messiah is in fact Moses.
He was the first redeemer, he was the last one, and of course being the
giver of the Torah.
These points to Moshe as the messianic prototype.
Hezekiah was also another proginator and perhaps the greatest one.
You’ve got to understand Hezekiah was the greatest of the Judean kings. The Tanakh itself says of him before him there wasn’t after him there isn’t, including David.
Why was he regarded as such a phenomenal king? Hezekiah what did he do?
The fact that he saw the northern kingdom vanquished. Vanquished meaning obliterated, annihilated. Its population ethnically cleansed completely. And the entire project of the 10 tribes ended. But 20 years later the Assyrians came back to do the same thing to Judah. And this was the end of Jewish history. This was the a full existential moment of the end of Jewish history. This was the annihilation of the Judean kingdom. There was no Israel there’s only Judah. And Judah has been completely conquered and ravished and there’s only one little
pixel left on the map and that is Jerusalem.
Hezekiah the king takes these letters and he goes to the roof of the temple and he opens up the letters to heaven. And he says God this is it. If you’re going to intervene in history now is the moment. And the divine intervenes in history. Because that is the point at which all of the historical background in Tanakh, everything from bereshit elohim in the beginning God created the world, and then the Abraham, and Moshe, and then all of the judges, and the leaders and the kings, and the whole history of the David, and the temple, and the Jewish people, everything is dragged into objective real history at that moment.
The fact that Jerusalem was saved and the Assyrian army went elsewhere is recorded outside of the Tanakh, it’s recorded by the Assyrians, it’s recorded by other ancient world historians, it is the moment that we talk about that is the beginning of history. That’s not to say that anything that happened before that moment didn’t happen. Obviously the Tanakh is reflecting a reality that’s eventually going to be brought in total sync with what we know from archaeology from chronology from
history. But that’s the moment where they merge that’s the moment when we start to have corroboration from other sources that’s the divine intervention.