The Messiah is Jewish Tradition
James Scott Trimm
One of the most important evidences of the importance of the Oral Law for believers in Yeshua as Messiah, is that the Messiah concept is in itself Oral Law.
Let me explain what I mean. Using the Tanak alone, one cannot demonstrate that there is a single eschatological figure to come called “The Messiah”. If you presented a group of people who never heard of the concept of “The Messiah” with copies of the Tanak and left them alone for years, you would not come back to hear them talking about a figure known as “The Messiah”.
Yes there are references to a figure called “the servant” in Isaiah. And there is a prophecy of “a prophet” like Moses in Deut 18 (some take this to refer generally to each of the prophets after Moses). And there are also prophecies in the Tanak concerning a figure called “the branch” using a variety of different Hebrew words for “branch”. And there are a number of other passages referring to figures sometimes with no appellation at all. How do we know that these and other prophecies speak of a single figure called “The Messiah” and not to a number of different figures altogether? The answer is “tradition”.
Do a word search on “The Messiah” in the Tanak and you will get zero results. If one rejects tradition, then one rejects the very basis for the concept of “The Messiah”, Yeshua or otherwise.
I have found in seeking to debate an anti-missionary that they want to limit the material to be cited in the debate to be the Tanak only. This is odd because the anti-missionaries I am speaking of are Rabbinic Jews. Why should they want to eliminate the Targums, Talmuds, Midrashim, Zohar and other Rabbinic literature from the debate? Neither of us are Kaaraites, so why take a Kaarite position in the debate? The reason friends, is that the concept of the Messiah is essentially an Oral Law concept! And the anti-missionaries KNOW THIS WELL. The Messiah is almost never mentioned in the Tanak by that title (The possible exceptions being “YHWH has anointed me” (Is. 61:1); “His anointed” (Ps. 2:2) “an anointed shall be cut off” (Dan. 9:26). Even these passages are unclear in the Tanak alone, as they could simply refer to a “an anointed one” rather than “The Messiah.”
The only way to demonstrate clearly that any given passage is in fact a reference to Messiah is to rely upon the Oral Law (thru such sources as the Targums, the Talmuds, the Midrashim and the Zohar). It is the Oral Law that ties all of these passages together into a single figure known as “The Messiah.”
For example the word “Messiah” never appears in Isaiah 53, yet we know form the Targum, the Talmud, the Midrash Rabbah and the Zohar that Isaiah 53 speaks of the Messiah.
This is why, while some Rabbinic Jews and even Orthodox Rabbis have accepted Yeshua as the Messiah, I know of no case where a Kaarite (Karaites reject the Oral Law) has come to Messiah. There is virtually no way to make the case to a Kaarite that Yeshua is the Messiah. By contrast I can show any open minded Rabbinic Jew that Yeshua is the Messiah of Judaism, and I have done just that in my free book Mashiach: The Messiah from a True Jewish Perspective.
In fact it is for this very reason that Yeshua’s original followers came from the Pharisees and Essenes and few if any came from the Sadducees. That is because the Sadducees rejected the Oral Law and thus had no framework for the very concept of the Messiah and they could not accept Yeshua as a Messiah when they did not even accept the concept of Messiah at all.
The idea of Yeshua as the Messiah makes perfect sense in terms of Jewish tradition, but without Jewish tradition, there is no concept of a Messiah at all.
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