The Kingdom of God and The Messianic Hope: Messiah and the Kingdom of God in the Intertestamental Period

In the Intertestamental Period, there is diverse opinions and pictures of what the Messiah was to be.  The Hebrew Bible prophecies portray a Messiah who will reign eternally on David’s throne (Mic 5:2, Isa 9:6, Zech 12-14 and others) and also a Messiah that would suffer and die most notably in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

On this Rubin (1997), wrote that to reconcile the two pictures of Messiah that two Messiahs were proposed, Messiah Son of Joseph who would like Joseph in Genesis be the suffering Messiah and Messiah Son of David, who would be the conquering Davidic Messiah (p. 78).

The Qumran community who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls and saw themselves as an alternative, purer priesthood than that in Jerusalem developed a concept of two Messiahs, one Davidic and one Priestly (Neusner, Avery-Peck & Green, 2000, Vol. 2, p. 878).

In the Psalms of Solomon 17 in the Septuagint, the Psalmist speaks of the Kingship of God and then speaks of a Messianic figure to come to restore Jerusalem and the Jewish people including:

“See, O Lord, and raise up their king for them, a son of David, for the proper time that you see, God, to rule over Israel your servant. And undergird him with strength to shatter unrighteous rulers. Cleanse Jerusalem from the nations that trample it in destruction, to expel sinners from the inheritance in wisdom, in righteousness, to rub out the arrogance of the sinner like a potter’s vessel, to crush all their support with an iron rod; to destroy lawless nations by the word of his mouth, for Gentiles to flee from his face at his threat, and to reprove sinners by the word of their heart. And he will gather a holy people whom he will lead in righteousness, and he will judge tribes of the people sanctified by the Lord its God.” (Psalms of Solomon 17:23–28, LES).

In 1 Enoch 37-71, the use of the Hebrew word Mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ) is used twice to denote a transcendent, heavenly figure (Neusner, Avery-Peck & Green, 2000, Vol. 2, p. 878), which is in contrast to the other writings of the time that focus more on a human kingly figure.

Banwell (1996), commented on Intertestamental Jewish thought when he wrote, “The coming of the kingdom is the great perspective of the future, prepared by the coming of the Messiah, which paves the way for the kingdom of God” (p. 647).

Ladd (1959), summed up the Intertestamental views on the Messiah when he wrote:

“To the Jews, Messiah was expected to be either a conquering Davidic King before whom the enemies of God and of God’s people could not stand; or He would be a heavenly supernatural being who would come to earth with power and great glory to destroy the wicked and to bring the Kingdom of God in power (see Daniel 7). In either case, the coming of Messiah would mean the end of This Age and the appearance of the Kingdom in power” (p. 110).


 

References

Banwell, B. O. (1996). King, Kingship. In (D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman, Eds.) New Bible dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Ladd, G. E. (1959). The gospel of the kingdom: Scriptural studies in the kingdom of God. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans.

Neusner, J., Avery-Peck, A. J., & Green, W. S. (Eds.). (2000). In The encyclopedia of Judaism. Leiden; Boston; Köln: Brill.

Rubin, B. (1997). You bring the bagels; Ill bring the Gospel: Sharing the Messiah with your Jewish neighbor (Rev. ed.). Baltimore, MD: Messianic Jewish Publishers.

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