The Davidic Branch in Rabbinic Judaism

The Hebrew Bible prophesies the coming of a human Ruler called the Branch, a King who would be a physical descendant of David. What makes this specific Potentate rather amazing is that his name shall be Jehovah our Righteousness!

“Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:5-6 American Standard Version (ASV)

“Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou and thy fellows that sit before thee; for they are men that are a sign: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.” Zechariah 3:8 ASV

“And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah; and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah, whither they are come from Babylon; yea, take of them silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: and he shall grow up out of his place; and he shall build the temple of Jehovah; even he shall build the temple of Jehovah; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of Jehovah. And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of Jehovah; and ye shall know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of Jehovah your God.” Zechariah 6:9-15 ASV

I will now cite from official rabbinic Jewish sources regarding the identity of the Branch. I do so in order to show that disbelieving Jews viewed these prophecies concerning the Branch as references to the coming Messiah.

All the quotations are taken from William Webster’s masterful work, Behold Your King: Prophetic Proofs That Jesus Is the Messiah, Christian Resources, June 2003. We are specifically quoting from Appendix C: The Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament from the Authoritative Jewish Writings, pp. 151-312. Webster’s book can be purchased: Behold Your King.

All bold, underlined and capital emphasis will be mine.

 Targum Jonathan

“… ‘Behold the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Messiah, and he shall reign as king, and prosper, and shall enact a righteous and Meritorious law in the land. In his days they of the house of Judah shall be delivered, and Israel shall live in security. And this is the name which they call him: “May vindication be accomplished for us by the Lord in his day.”’” (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 68-69)

Targum Jonathan

Say unto him: Thus says the Lord of Hosts saying: ‘Be hold the man whose name is “The Messiah.” He is destined to be revealed and to be anointed, and he shall build the Temple of the Lord. He shall build the Temple of the Lord, and he will bear the radiance, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and there shall be a high priest on his throne, and there be a counsel of peace between the two of them.’ (Ibid., p. 99)

The Babylonian Talmud, Baba Bathra 75b

1. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Johanan: Three WERE CALLED BY THE NAME OF THE HOLY ONE, blessed be He, and they are the following: The righteous, the Messiah and Jerusalem. [This may be inferred as regards] the righteous [from] what has just been said. [As regards] the Messiah – it is writtenAnd this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness (Jer. XXIII, 6) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezekin, Vol. II, Baba Bathra 75b, p. 303)

The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a

1. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. It is, in its time [the Messiah], whilst it is also written I [the Lord] will hasten it!–If they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at due time. R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven (Dan. VII, 13); whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold thy king cometh…] lowly, and riding upon an ass!’ (Zech. IX, 7) – If they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven (Dan. VII, 13); if not, lowly and riding upon an ass (Zech. IX, 9). King Shapur said to Samuel, ‘Ye maintain that the Messiah will come upon an ass: I will rather send him a white horse of mine.’ He replied, ‘Have you a hundred-hued steed?’ (Ibid., Seder Nezekin, Vol. III, Sanhedrin 98a, pp. 663-664)

2. Hillel said: There shall be no Messiah for Israel, because they have already enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah. R. Joseph said: May God forgive him [for saying so]. Now, when did Hezekiah flourish? During the first Temple. Yet Zechariah, prophesying in the days of the second, proclaimed, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto thee! He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass (Zech. IX, 9) (Ibid., p. 669)

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

BECAUSE THE COMFORTER IS FAR FROM ME, EVEN HE THAT SHOULD REFRESH MY SOUL. What is the name of King Messiah? R. Abba b. Kahana said: His name is ‘the Lord’; as it is stated, And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness (Jer. XXIII, 6). For R. Levi said: It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king, and the name of its king identical with that of its God. ‘It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king,’ as it is written, And the name of the city from that day shall be the Lord is there (Ezek. XLVIII, 35). ‘And the name of its king is identical with that of its God’ as it is stated, And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness: R. Joshua b. Levi said: His name is ‘Shoot’, as it is stated, Behold, a man whose name is Shoot, and who shall shoot up out of his place, and build the temple of the Lord (Zech. VI, 12). R. Judan said in the name of R. Aibu: His name is ‘Comforter’, as it is said, THE COMFORTER IS FAR FROM ME. R. Hanina said: They do not really differ, because the numerical value of the names is the same, so that ‘Comforter’ is identical with ‘Shoot’ (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, pp. 135-136)

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 2:2

God will call the king Messiah after His own name, for it is said of the king Messiah This is his name whereby he shall be called: The Lord our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2.2)

 

 

 

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