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Two Messiahs

As the rabbis studied the prophetic writings concerning the Messiah they realized that most Messianic prophecies seem to fall into two categories. The Messiah was to be both someone who died on our behalf and a Redeemer who would be victorious and rule forever over the Messianic Kingdom. To explain what seemed like a contradiction they concluded that there must be two different Messiahs. The one who would suffer and die was given the title Mashiach ben Yosef (Messiah son of Joseph) and one who would reign as king was given the title Mashiach ben David (Messiah son of David).

The Suffering Messiah: (Messiah Son of Joseph)

The Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 53 was common before and during the days of Jesus. The New Testament writers (most of whom were Jewish) address this in at least seven passages. (Matt. 8:17; Mark 15:28; Luke 22:37; John 12:37-38; Acts 8:32-33; Rom. 10:16; 1 Peter 2:24-25). It continued during the creation of the Talmud which was finished around 400 A.D. Many other ancient Jewish writings support the view that Isaiah 53 is a Messianic passage.

Another interpretation developed and became poplar during the Middle Ages. This other interpretation taught that subject of Isaiah 53 was the nation of Israel and not an individual Messiah. It taught that Israel as a nation would suffer for the sins of the world and developed partially out of the need to help answer the question: Who else could be the promised Jewish Messiah besides Jesus Christ? (Even though it is clear that the grammar is speaking of a singular person and not a plural nation). For more on the grammar of Isaiah 53 check out Is the Suffering Servant One Or Many?

Schneerson Today, both different interpretations are taught inside of Judaism. Recently, a sect of Ultra Orthodox Jews (Lubavitchers) in New York believed (and still believe) that their Chief Rabbi Menachem Schneerson was the Messiah. When he died in 1994, they turned to Isaiah 53 to predict his resurrection and ascent ion to the throne of Jerusalem. Picture reads "Long live the King and the Messiah.

When the Messiah came the first time He came "lowly and riding upon an ass." This is what the Talmud teaches in Sanh.98a. (see Triumphant Entry). When He comes the second time he will rule as King of Kings.

The Messiah's name of Messiah Son of Joseph is interesting because Jesus's earthly father was named Joseph. Also interesting is Joseph's rejection and betrayal by his brothers, and his later exaltation among the Gentiles in Egypt. This is an exact pattern of what Jesus experienced in His role as Messiah Son of Joseph. Though Jesus was not a physical descendant of Joseph, He is often viewed as a descendant in a figurative, symbolic, prophetic sense. Joseph's redemptive suffering and life story are thought by some to be a parallel to those messianic passages that spoke of a Suffering Servant.

Along with Isaiah 53, the Suffering Servant is also found in Zechariah 12:10. The rabbis often looked to this prophecy as one that portrays a Suffering Messiah.

The Ruling Messiah: (Messiah Son of David)

There are similarities between King David and the Messiahs Kingdom. These would include King David, through a covenant with God, founded an everlasting dynasty. He also expanded the boarders of Israel and planned to build "a house for God." Kings are "anointed" and some Jewish literature refers to the Messiah as "King Messiah." Jer.23:5 speaks of Messiahs' kingship

Isaiah 11:1-10 and Psalm 72: 1-19 clearly foretell of a Messiah coming to bring peace and establish the Messianic Kingdom over Israel.

Isaiah 11:1-10 gives a picture of a reigning Messiah who brings peace and prosperity to the entire world. The peace extends down to the animal kingdom. The wicked are removed in judgment, and disputes between the nations are settled by Messiah's authoritive word. The knowledge of God spreads, and it covers the entire world. The whole world has an intimate knowledge of the Creator, now that the reigning Messiah has brought peace and prosperity to it.

Psalm 72: In some Jewish commentaries Psalm 72 is thought to be King David's last Psalm. It is believed that he wrote it on the day that his son Solomon took over. While that may be its short term impact many Jewish commentators (such as Sforno and Radak) recognize its Messianic implications. Even the Talmud views this Psalm as Messianic. One of the names given to the Messiah (Yinnon) by the talmud comes from Psalm 72 (Sanhedrin 98b).

Other references from the Old Testament of the Messiah who rules or delivers include verses like Daniel 7:13-14 and Isaiah 9:6.

References from the New Testament include verses like Luke 1:32 and Revelation 19:11-16.

From The Talmud:

Psalm 72 and Isaiah 11:1-10 are linked together through a Midrash among other ways. The Talmud applies Psalm 72 as speaking of the righteous reign of the Messiah and makes the first verse to read as follows: "Give the sentence of they judgment to the King Messiah, and thy justice to the son of David the King."

One of the names given to the Messiah in the Talmud comes from Psalm 72 verse 17. (Yinnon)

There was a question asked of Rabbi Joshua concerning the coming of the Messiah. It was asked of him whether the Messiah would come "with the clouds of heaven" as Daniel said (Dan. 7:13), or "Lowly And Riding Upon The Ass" as Zechariah said (Zech 9:9). Rabbi Joshua responded, "If they are meritorious, he will come with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding upon an ass" (Talmud Sanh. 98a).


Followers of the Messiah Jesus have had the glorious revelation that Jesus (Yeshua) is the promised Messiah and know that there is not two different Messiahs but one Messiah who comes two different times.

Two Messiahs(1)


Many bible commentators believe that Isaiah 53 actually begins with Isaiah 52 verse 13. (The oldest versions of the Bible do not contain chapter breaks).

Articles related to Isaiah include:

Isaiah 53 Related:

Isaiah 43:11 Related:

Isaiah 7:14 Related:

Isaiah 9:6 Related:

The Suffering Messiah suffered for our sins.

Read more about The Messiah
Read more about Where Is The Peace?



1). One Messiah Two Comings Picture by Dan Botkin.

Discovery Series, The Jewish Tradition of Two Messiahs. (RBC Ministries)

The Two Messiahs in Judaism by Dr. Daniel Botkin. (Drawing by Dr. Daniel Botkin)

Can one Lord fulfill Two Function? by Roy Schwartz, Christian Jew Foundation

Zola Levitt Ministries

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