Monday, March 7, 2016

The Second Coming of Messiah Ben-David

The common perception is that only people who think Jesus is The Messiah think he has two advents, that he was born thousands of years before he actually conquerors Israel's enemies and establishes his Kingdom.  And that the only thing you'll find in Rabbinic or other non Christian Jewish traditions that could be adapted to fit the Christian view is the dual Messiah concept.

However there is an interesting over looked collection of Jewish traditions about a Messiah Ben-David named Menahem.

Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 2:4 5a says.
A Jew was ploughing and his cow was lowing as he went.
An Arab who passed by heard it, and said: "Son of the Jews, release your cow and abandon your plough, for the
Temple has been destroyed."
The ox lowed again, and the Arab said: "Son of the Jews, tie up your cow and tie up your plough, for King Messiah
has been born."
The Jew asked: "What is his name?"
The other answered: "Menahem."
The Jew asked: "What is his father's name?"
The other answered: "Hezekiah."
The Jew asked: "Where is he from?"
The other answered: "From the dwelling place of the King, Bethlehem in Judah."
The Jew sold his cow and his plough and became a seller of infants' swaddling clothes.
He went in and out of one town after another until he came to that town, and all the women bought from him, but
Menahem's mother did not buy.
He heard the women say: "Mother of Menahem, mother of Menahem, come and buy for your son!"
She told him: "I should like to strangle my son Menahem, for on the day he was born, the Temple was
destroyed."
He told her: "We are sure that just as he marked its destruction, so he shall build it once more."
She said: "I have no money."
He said: "No matter, come and buy, and if you have no money today, after some days I shall come and collect it."
After some days, he came back to the town, and asked her: "How is the child?"
She said: "After you saw me, a mighty wind came and snatched him out of my hands."
The Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 98b says
Others say: His name is Menahem the son of Hezekiah, for it is written, Because Menahem ['the comforter'], that would relieve my soul, The Rabbis said: His name is 'the leper scholar,' as it is written, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Lamentations 1:16 is the Bible verse being quoted to support Menahem being The Messiah's name.  Because the name is often said to mean "Comforter" which ought to make Christians think of John's Gospel, where it used as a title of The Holy Spirit, we see with Mani, Muhammad and Bahai that it is common for heretics to twist that refer to a future prophesied figure.  

But the Hebrew word for Comforter is Nachom, Menahem comes form putting a Mem at the beginning as a prefix, which makes it mean "from the Comforter".  The reference to Isaiah 53:4 is actually a different proposed name of the Messiah, it shows how the Rabbis did consider that Messianic.

Actually John 14:16 has been translated as saying "Another Comforter" implying The Comforter is a title of Jesus also. In the fact the same Greek word is the one translated Advocate when Jesus is called our Advocate in 1 John 2:1.

I wonder if this personage is in any way based on Menahem ben Judah of Josephus.  Being born the day The Temple was destroyed wouldn't fit.  But his ancestor Judas the Galilean there is good reason to suspect either was the same person as or the son of Judas ben Hezekiah who was also a Galilean.

Certain fringe theorist make much of how the Yossipon seems place Agrippa and Monobaz as being killed about three and a half years before The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD.  Tying into to Daniel 9 and 12.  Josephus has both of them alive after this, but places the execution of Menahem about this time.

Even more complicated then the Menahem ben Hezekiah tradition is the Menahem ben Ammiel traditions, the core of which is the Sefer Zerubabel.  An English translation can be read online here.  Where Messiah Ben-Joseph is Nehemiah Ben Hushiel and Messiah Ben-David is Menahem ben Ammiel.

This text began to form in the early 7th Century in the time of Nehemiah ben Hushiel.  It entered it's final from in the 11th century, there are many contradictions in it, and between it's different texts.

In this version he's taken by a whirlwind not to heaven but to Rome (spiritually called Nineveh) where he is being held prisoner till the time of the end.

His genealogy is curious, first why is he the son of Ammiel?  Christians concerned that the Antichrist might be of Dan and claim to be the Messiah could take note that Ammiel was the spy representing Dan in Number 13:12.  But I find it more interesting that Ammiel was the name of the father of Bathsheba.  Perhaps it is telling us cryptically which wife of David the author thought would produce The Messiah.  Which for Christians is consistent with both Matthew and Luke's genealogies.

The mother of Menahem ben Ammiel is a very surprisingly interesting character in this story.  Her name is Hefzibah/Hephzibah.  Which is interesting because that was the name of the wife of Hezekiah and mother of Manesseh.  And this Menahem does call himself the son of Hezekiah at one point.  And Manesseh was held captive in Babylon for awhile.  2 Chronicles but not 2 Kings records that he did repent of his sins.  But his sins included placing Idols in The Temple, which makes him a possible type of The Antichrist.  She may of course have born Hezekiah other sons.

Hephzibah is also a poetic name for Israel in Isaiah 62:4.  So perhaps Christians should see Hephzibah as a name for the woman of Revelation 12?

But she is also called the Wife of Nathan the Prophet in the translation I linked to above.  In a Bate Midrashot 2:504, Hefzibah is called the wife of Nathan The Prophet son of David and the mother of Menahem son of Ammiel, son of David.  The Zohar 3:17b says
“You who bring good tidings to Zion” is Hephzibah, the wife of Nathan son of David, who is the mother of Messiah, Menachem son of Amiel. She shall go out and bring the tidings . . .”
So the confusion perhaps comes largely from a confusion of Nathan the Prophet with Nathan the son of Bathsheba.  So this is a Jewish text hostile to Christianity cryptically hinting at The Messiah Ben David possibly coming from Nathan.  I've argued before why you can get that conclusion from The Hebrew Scriptures alone.

Contradictions exist on when Menahem ben Ammiel was born, some imply when the First Temple was destroyed modifying the Talmudic tradition.  But the only statement I noticed on it in the translation I read said he was born during the reign of King David.

Could Nathan Ben David have had a son born that early?   As I argued before Nathan was older then Solomon, and since Rehoboam was 41 when he began to reign and Solomon reigned only 40 years he was born to Solomon during the reign of David.

Luke 3 lists the Son of Nathan as Mattatha, and the son of Mattatha as Menan.  Menan is distinct from but has a similarity to Menahem (in the Septuagint Menahem ben Gadi King of Israel is rendered Manaem but as Manaen by Aquila of Sinope).  But it's also possible Mattatha was not Nathan's only or even firstborn son.

So it seems the only thing Rabbinic Jews are completely uncomfortable with (besides Divinity) is Messiah Ben-David dying, yet they know a Messiah will die and give that role to Ben-Joseph.  But the main Bible passage they cite as being about Ben-Joseph is Zechariah 12, which I've discussed before showing how even Jewish translations make it pretty clear the one pierced is of the house of David.

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