Jewish Dopers: The Mosiach

I agree that there are several anointed ones, but disagree that this means Cyrus was not the messiah. The notion of there being the Messiah, the only, single and solitary in all history, is an interpretation that post-dates the Old Testament writings (in both Judaism and, of course, Christianity). In the OT, there are “messiahs”, plural, throughout history. Any age could potentially produce one.

The function of a “messiah” in the later Isaiah is pretty clear - he’s to be a king who redeems Israel, and he’s specifically picked out, “named”, “equipped”, and appointed for that task by God - not just “annointed” but “taken by the hand” by God himself - even if, as in the case of Cyrus, the man doesn’t know about God at all. Hence all that stuff about God taking Cyrus by the hand, allowing him to subdue nations, and “naming” him "…“though you do not know me …”:

Later thinkers took the concept and expanded on it, creating the notion of messiah-dom that we know and love today - a figure that ushers in a golden age of everlasting peace (Judaism) or redeems humanity (Christianity). Such figures are by definition singular, sine there can be only one era of everlasting peace, and humanity can be redeemed only once. But earlier writers, the later Isaiah in particular, quite clearly thought differently about what a “messiah” was.

I’ll admit that my scholarship of Isaiah’s writings falls well short of either Rabbi or theologian, and I may not be explaining my point well, but I do think that Isaiah knew there was a difference between his prophesies of The Messiah yet to come and the the messiah of the time that he was annointing to take care of immediate business. :wink:

It may be that I am projecting based on later viewpoints, but It’s hard for me to read Isaiah outside the context of “this is now, this is coming”.

The problem appears to be that the saying attributed to “Isaiah” were, historically, written at different times.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaiah

The former bits were, if you like “he’s comming”; the latter bits, written almost two centuries later, were "he’s here! and waddaya know, he’s Cyrus the Persian! :smiley: ".

Naturally, Christian writers look at the former bits and assume Isaiah was prophetically foreshadowing Jesus, and not Cyrus the Persian; Jews, that he’s foreshadowing a Messiah yet to come (and again, not Cyrus). The contemporary redactors of the Old Testament clearly thought otherwise (though of course it is open to Christians and Jews alike to note that they could well have been wrong! :wink: ).