The first ray of promise to redeem mankind is found in the first few pages of the Tanakh in the Book of Genesis.(1) This redemption prophecy was given after the great disaster that overtook our first ancestors. The "ancient Serpent," sometimes called nahash ha-kadmoni, was more subtle than any other creature and proved irresistible to Eve,
and then to Adam.
God gave Adam and Eve virtual free reign in the Garden of Eden. He told them they could eat from every tree but one, warning them that disobedience would produce very harmful consequences. They chose to eat from that tree of knowledge of good and evil anyway, in clear disobedience to God. Instead of trusting their Father, they yielded to the temptation of pride. After all, the Tempter had promised them, Ye shall be like God. (2)
Adam and Eve's misguided challenge to God's uniqueness and authority had to be punished. But along with punishment came a blessing and a promise to humanity. The woman, the first to obey Satan instead of God, is told that out of her seed would come the One who will "bruise the head" of this Serpent, whom Satan had used to mislead humanity. According to the prophecy God said :
I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her
The "seed of the woman" would deal a fatal blow to the head of the Serpent. And, the "seed of the woman" would in turn sustain a bruise to the heel, a non-fatal blow. The Aramaic paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures, Targum Jonathan, relates this Prophecy to the Messiah explaining:
But they will be healed [shupf] in the footsteps [heels] in the days of King Messiah.(4)
Here, the word shupf is not translated as "bruise" but rather in the sense of "rubbing with a medicine," and thus as "healing."
One of the greatest Jewish commentators, 12th-13th century Rabbi David Kimchi, gave support to this Scripture as a prophecy about Messiah's redemption of mankind. He recognized that salvation is by the hand of the conquering Messiah "who would wound Satan, the head, the king and prince of the house of the wicked. "
How did Eve understand this Scripture? Evidence suggests she understood it to mean that she would bear a child who would "bruise the head of Satan." Note that when Eve bore her first son, Cain, she said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. (5) The Targum of Palestine elaborates on this verse as follows:
Adam knew ... his wife ... and she conceived and brought forth Cain,
These verses indicate that Eve expected more than an earthly child, and by her exclamation, one who would literally fulfill the promise. Presumably, when Cain killed Abel her expectations of the "promised seed" were dashed. Later, when she finally bore Seth she exclaimed,
For God has appointed another seed.. . (7)
The rabbis comment on this as follows:
[She (Eve) hinted at] that seed which would arise from another source ... the king Messiah.(8)
Some rabbinic sources, then, did recognize that the Messianic seed
would emanate from Eve. When Cain slew Abel, however, Eve realized that Cain –
whom Eve had thought was "the Man" - was not. Since Abel was dead,
he could not qualify either. Thus, the "Appointed One" arose from Eve's son,
Seth.; The genealogical line was now pinpointed.
References: 1 Genesis 3:15 2 Genesis 3:5 3 Genesis 3:15 4 See J.W. Etheridge, The Targum of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch with the Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum from the Chaldee [hereafter referred to as Etheridge] (Katav 1968) p. 166 vote 8. This targum is commonly referred to as the Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel. 5 Genesis 4:1 6 See Etheridge at pp. 169-170. 7 Genesis 4:25 8 Midrash Rabbah Genesis 23:5
The Rabbis Know About The Messiah by Rachmiel
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