In Judaism, the Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ "anointed one", Standard Hebrew Mašíaḥ, Tiberian Hebrew Māšîªḥ Arabic المسيح;) initially meant any person who was anointed by a prophet of God. In English today, it is used in two major contexts: the anticipated saviour of the Jews, and one who is anticipated as, regarded as, or professes to be a saviour or liberator. Jews, however, don't generally use the word "saviour" in reference to the messiah, primarily because of the Christian connotation of the word "saviour."
In the first century, Jews interpreted the prophecies of the Tanakh to refer more specifically to someone appointed by God to lead the Jewish people in the face of their tribulations with the Romans. Christians believe that these prophecies actually referred to a spiritual savior, and consider Jesus to be that messiah. The word Christ (Greek Χριστός, Khristos, "the anointed one") is a literal translation of "mashiach" used in the Greek Septuagint version of the Bible, and derived from the Greek verb χριω "rub, anoint with scented unguents or oil, as was done after bathing", "anoint in token of consecration" (Liddell & Scott's Greek-English Lexicon).
The Septuagint, an ancient Jewish translation of the Old Testament into Greek, translates all thirty-nine instances of the word messiah as Khristos. The New Testament records the Greek form Μεσσίας, Messias, only twice, in John 1:41 and 4:25.
In the Hebrew BibleEdit
- Main article: Jewish Messiah
The concept of the messiah is neither common nor unified in the Hebrew Bible. In the Hebrew Bible, Israelite priests, prophets, and kings were anointed with oil in consecration to their respective offices.
The Hebrew Bible contains a number (the number is debated) of prophecies concerning a future descendant of King David who will be anointed as the Jewish people's new leader (moshiach).
The prophecies regarding this person refer to him as a descendant of King David who will rebuild the nation of Israel, bring world peace by restoring the Davidic Kingdom, destroy the wicked, and ultimately judge the whole world.
The mainstream Jewish understanding of mashiach (the messiah) has little, if anything, in common with the Christian understanding of Jesus as Christ (messiah). This subject is covered in more detail in the entry on Jewish eschatology.
Traditional and contemporary Judaism Edit
The concept of the messiah varies in traditional and contemporary Judaism. The view of the messiah in talmudic literature is that there are two messiahs, Mashiach ben Yossef (Messiah son of Joseph) and Mashiach ben David (Messiah son of David).  The Hebrew ben can mean either son or descendant. In this sense it can also mean "in the manner of", i.e., there will be a "suffering servant" messiah in the manner of Joseph son of Israel/Jacob and a different messiah in the manner of King David.
A common rabbinic interpretation is that there is a potential messiah in every generation. The Talmud tells of a highly respected rabbi who found the Messiah at the gates of Rome and asked him "When will you finally come?" He was quite surprised when he was told, "Today." Overjoyed and full of anticipation, the man waited all day. The next day he returned, disappointed and puzzled, and asked, "You said messiah would come 'today' but he didn't come! What happened?" The Messiah replied, 'Scripture says, "Today, if you will but hearken to His voice . . ." (Psalm 95:7)
Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism believe in a future physical messiah who will bring peace to the world. Reform Judaism teaches there will be a time of peace, etc., but that it will be the result of tikkun olam ("repair of the world") through human efforts toward social justice, not the actions of one man.
Christian view Edit
- Main article: Christian views of Jesus
Christianity emerged in the first century as a movement among Jews (and their Gentile associates and converts) who believed Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah; the very name of 'Christian' refers to the Greek word for 'Messiah' (Khristos).
According to the New Testament, Jesus most often referred to himself as 'Son of Man', the title of a figure in the prophetic Book of Daniel. Christians see Jesus' use of this title as a direct claim by Jesus that he is the Messiah. Jesus offered no denial when others identified him as the Messiah and successor of King David (Mark 8:27-30, 10:47-48, 11:7-10); his opponents accused him of such a claim (Luke 23:2), and he is recorded at least twice as asserting it himself directly (Mark 14:60-62, John 4:25-26). The earliest Christians claimed to be following his own explicit teaching by interpreting a wide range of biblical passages as predicting the coming of the Messiah, and regarding these as having been fulfilled in the mission, death, and resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24:26, 24:46). The mission of the Messiah was presented as not simply to restore the earthly kingdom of David, but to spread the knowledge and worship of God throughout the Gentile world. (The role of Jesus in Christian belief goes far beyond his identification as the Messiah of Hebrew prophecy: for further information, as well as the main article linked above, see articles on key Christian doctrines such as Incarnation and Atonement.) Many Christians also expect the return of Jesus at the Second Coming (see Christianity and Biblical prophecy) to rule as the Lord's Messiah from Jerusalem (see Millenarianism).
- Moshiach Online
- Christian view of Jesus
- Fulfilled Bible prophecies: Messianic
- Jesus and the Messianic cycle
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