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M E S S I A H:




by Rachmiel Frydland

     Jesse was the father of David and a direct descendant from Judah, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. He was a link in the Messianic line. The choice of Jesse (and his younger son David) was by direct command of the Lord, as recorded in Scripture:  And the Lord said unto Samuel ...  Fill thine horn with oil and go; I will send thee to Jesse, the Bethlehemite, for I have provided me a king among his sons. (1)

    Isaiah, the prophet, who lived about 300 years after this event was inspired to sum up the calling of David this way:  And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (2)

    This passage is universally considered messianic by Jewish writers and commentators. Even those who view some messianic passages as fulfilled in Hezekiah cannot seriously doubt that here the prophet is speaking of a future Messiah. (3)

    The prophecy is important in at least two respects. First, it clearly narrows down the ancestry of the Messiah to Jesse and his descendants. For, "there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse. " Second, by the use of the Hebrew word, netzer, for branch, the prophecy specifies the place where Messiah would live. The prophet could have used another word for branch, tsemah, which he did previously when describing the Messiah:  In that day shall the tsemah (branch) of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and splendid for those who are escaped in Israel. (4)

    Other prophets, who referred to the Messiah as the Branch used the word tsemah instead of netzer. For example, the prophet Jeremiah wrote :   Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous tsemah (branch) and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the earth. (5)

     The same prophet, speaking for the Lord said, "I will cause the tsemah of righteousness to grow up unto David... .(6)  Additionally, when referring to the Messiah as Branch, Zechariah also selects the word Tsemah as opposed to Netzsr, prophesying, I will bring forth my servant, the Branch (tsemah). (7)

    There was undoubtedly a special reason why in the one scripture concerning the word Branch, the Ruach HaKodesh inspired Isaiah to use the word, netzer, rather than the more common word, tsemah. The reason is found in the Brit Hadasha (New Covenant) Scriptures in the place where we read:  And He came and dwelt in a city called Natzeret (Nazareth), that it might be fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets. ...(8)

     The town Natzeret is the word netzer plus the feminine ending, designated by the letter Tav.  Hence, the special reason for the use of netzer becomes a play on words. He is to be a Branch and also would live in the town Natzeret. He is a netzer from Natzeret.  Branches are produced by roots. Hence, the word branch might imply that the Messiah is lesser than the root. Upon further examination of the netzer prophecy it becomes clear that Messiah is also the root:    In that day there shall be a root of Jesse who shall stand for an ensign to the peoples. ...(9)

    This Root will be unlike Jesse's immediate son, David, who was a man of war known for the slaying of many Gentiles. (10) The Messiah, instead, will be a standard bearer who will attract the Gentiles:  There shall be a root of Jesse, to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious.(11)

    In fact, the Gentiles' love for Messiah will result in respect and help for the Jewish people. That the Jewish people will be brought back to their land as prophesied is also clear:  And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (12)

    That the Gentiles will help towards the ingathering of the Jewish people to their land is also supportable from Scripture:  Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I will lift up mine hand to the nations, and set up my standards to the peoples; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.(13)

     The root of Jesse is described from a different perspective by Isaiah in a later chapter. He is "like a tender plant and like a root out of the dry ground; He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.(14) Hence, his descent from Jesse, unlike David, will not bring him a golden crown, initially, but a grueling castigation;(15) instead of being "the Branch beautiful and glorious," He will first be dressed with the piercing branches of the thorn bush plaited for him by Roman soldiers.(16)

The immediate offspring of Jesse was David, who would carry the mark of Messianic lineage to his son Solomon. These heirs stand in stark contrast - one being a warrior and the other a man of peace.

References:  (1)  I Samuel 16:1   (2)  Isaiah 11:1-2  (3)  See Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the messiah (Eerdmans 1977) pp. 723-724. (4)  Isaiah 4:2    (5)  Jeremiah 23:5  (6)  Jeremiah 33:15    (7)  Zechariah 3:8  (8)  Matthew 2:23  (9)  Isaiah 11:10  (10) I Chronicles 22:8; II Samuel 8:22; I Kings 11:15  (11) Isaiah 11:10 (12) Isaiah 11:12  (13) Isaiah 49:22  (14) Isaiah 53:2  (15) See Psalm 22:1-2  (16) See Micah 5:1; Psalm 2:6

What The Rabbis Know  About The Messiah   by Rachmiel Frydland
Reprinted With Permission of the Messianic Literature Outreach

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