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The Exalted

Ben David

         Humiliation precedes exaltation.

by Rachmiel Frydland

(1) This is the general pattern in the Holy Scriptures.  Some prophets were vindicated in their lifetime, like Moses and Elisha, but the bulk of the anointed in Scriptures suffered rejection and even martyrdom before the people repented and accepted their message.

   This is the case with the Messiah as well. He suffered and died according to the description of the prophets. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (2)  He was cut off out of the land of the living. (3)   And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death. (4)  This Messiah, the Suffering Savior.

   The Holy Writings, however, also speak of an exalted Messiah “Ben David." Concerning the Kingly attribute of the exalted Messiah it is written in the Book of Daniel:

[B]ehold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven,

and came to the Ancient of Days. and they brought him near before him.

And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom,

that all peoples, nations and languages, should serve him:

his dominion is an  everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away,

and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (5)

   There is certainly no question that rabbinical exposition and understanding of the Scriptures was that there would be a resurrection to glory of the righteous in Messianic days. (6)  The 13th principle of Maimonides' creed on the essentials of Jewish faith states: “I believe with complete faith that there will be a resurrection from the dead when it is the will of the blessed Creator.”

   The Talmudic rabbis, however, doubted that there would be a general resurrection for all Jewish people. They were inclined to believe. instead, that the resurrection would be for the righteous (7) buried in Israel only. (8)

   When it comes to the resurrection of the Messiah, Talmudic sources arc relatively scant.  Some Talmudic sources, however, imply, (9) and later rabbinic sources express, (10) that Messiah Ben Joseph, the Suffering Messiah, was to be resurrected from the dead.  This resurrected Messiah is the Messiah with David-like conquering characteristics.

   As concerning the Messiah it is clear from Scripture that, though he would suffer a death of crucifixion, (11) He would not be left in the grave. (12) The prophet Zechariah, who spoke of Messiah being pierced through, (13) also speaks of him as coming back in power and ruling from Jerusalem as King. (14)  Isaiah, who prophesies his painful and humiliating death, also refers to him as El Gibor - the Mighty God, (15) who sits on the throne of David forever. (16)

   Who is this Resurrected Messiah?   It is no secret that vast multitudes believe that Yeshua (Jesus) resurrected from death after his crucifixion by the Romans.  It is, of course, possible that these people have been deluded into believing a lie. One scholar even went so far as to maintain that Yeshua never really died but was drugged on the crucifixion stake. (17)  However. the evidence of the resurrection is extremely strong. and conceded by a renowned modern Jewish scholar. (18)

   First, there is the written Historical Record which has survived for 2000 years. That record contains the testimony of many reliable witnesses who were witnesses to Yeshua's death and resurrection. The four gospels in the Brit Hadasha (New Covenant) were written by four different persons and each gives an account of the resurrection. Two of those witnesses, Levi and Yochanan (John), were personal disciples of Yeshua. Another witness, Luke, was a physician and an historian who diligently researched the matter. (21) The fourth, Mark, was equally reliable, having recorded his testimony within the lifetime of Yeshua's contemporaries. (22)

    There was also Simon Peter's message before thousands of Jewish people in the Temple, many of whom were convinced by him and believed in Yeshua.(23) There was Saul of Tarsus, who refused to believe the resurrection story, and who had a complete turnaround when he met the resurrected Messiah on the way to Damascus where he intended to persecute the believers .(24)  In fact, over 500 Jewish people, most of whom were alive at the time the account was published in Scripture, bore witness to seeing Yeshua alive after his death. (25)  The principle of the Hebrew scriptures, that by the "mouth of two or more witnesses shall everything be established," was therefore upheld.(26)

   Second, there is the proof of the Empty Grave. Shortly after the event, thousands of Jewish people came to believe in Yeshua. (27) The Temple hierarchy responded with persecution, imprisonment. Intimidation, and ultimately by putting to death some of the leaders of the Nazarene sect. All of this could have been avoided had the enemies of the Nazarenes simply produced the body of Yeshua. If they had simply gone to the grave where Yeshua was buried and exhumed the "dead body," all who were "misled" to believe in the resurrection would have been forced to surrender their faith. Instead. they concocted  a story that the disciples of Yeshua came and stole the body. (28) Had that been so, would it have been difficult for the legions to discover the body, or at least to have made an inquiry of the disciples concerning the alleged "body snatching?" But the body was never discovered.

   Thirdly, the followers of Yeshua were transformed as a result of the resurrection. His disciples saw him die and they were disheartened.  Simon Peter, his close disciple, even denied he ever knew him.  They were all trying to save their own skins, hiding and cowering in fear lest they be suspected that they were with him, whose name they were even afraid to mention.  Then suddenly a great transformation occurred.  Those who had denied him with trepidation proclaimed him triumphantly.  The conviction of his resurrection was so strong that all of those who had previously denied him were ready to die by cruel torture.  Many did pay the supreme price for acting on their conviction that Yeshua had risen from the dead. All this stands as eloquent testimony to the reality of His resurrection.

(1) See Proverbs 18:12; see also 1 Pet. 1:10-11.   (2) See Isaiah 53:3.  (3) Isaiah 53:8  4)Isaiah 53:9   (5)Daniel 7:13-14   (6)"The Rabbinic Sages [say] that the world will be desolate for two days .... and on the third day God renews and revives them and brings the people to resurrection and causes the people to stand before Him as it is written 'After two days He will revive us; in the third day He raise us up. and we shall live in His sight.' " Midrash. Pirke d'Rab Eliezer 51 quoted in Meyer Waxman, Galut U'ge'valh Be'Sifrut Yibsra'el (Hotsa'at Oten 1952) p. 291 (hereafter referred to as Galut).  In Sanhedrin 97a there is the statement that there will be 2000 years of desolation and 2000 years of Torah.  (7)Those that keep the Torah shall arise (Targum Jonathan on Isaiah 26:19) and come back to life. (Ketubot 111b) (8)Ketubot 111a. However, later the interpretation was modified, and the rabbis held that for the tsadikim (saints) abroad, God will provide long caves in which they will roll to the land of Israel and there they will be resurrected.  (9)Sanhedrin 97a; Ketubot 111b  (10)Messiah Ben Joseph will be pierced through by Armilus. after which there will be much tribulation. Then, the Messiah, called Menahem Ben Ami-El, appears to the remnant of Israel. He, together with Elijah, brings to life Messiah Ben Joseph, and then the rest of the dead.  See Galut, p. 315.  (11) Psalm 22:14-16  (12) Psalm 16:8-11 (13) Zechariah 12:10   (14) Zechariah 14:4, 16-17 (15) Isaiah 9:6   (16) Isaiah 9:7  (17) Hugh J. Schonfield, The Passover Plot: A New Light on the History of Jesus (Bernard Geis 1965)  (18) Dr. Pinchas Lapide (See TIME Magazine May, 1979). See also, Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (Augsburg !983).  (19) Matthew 28:1-15  (20) John 20:19-20. 27   (21) Luke 24:25-34; cf., Luke 1:1-4  (22) Mark 16:6-7   (23) Acts 2:29-32, 41; cf., 2 Pet. 1:16-18 (24) I Corinthians 15:1-9  (25) I Corinthians 15:6 (26) Deuteronomy 17:6  (28)E.g.,Acts 2:41 (28) Matthew 28:13


What The Rabbis Know About The Messiah   by  Rachmiel Frydland
Chapter excerpts reprinted with permission of The Messianic Literature Outreach


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