In the First Century, a popular view concerning the coming of the Messiah by the Pharisees was that there would be at least two separate Messiahs. The first “Messiah” was known as the “Mashiach Ben Yosef” or “Messiah Ben Joseph” who would be a suffering Messiah as prophesied in Genesis and the prophet Isaiah. This was based on Gen 49.22-24 where it says, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring, his branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly attacked him, shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel).” In the Book of Isaiah we have what is called the “Suffering Servant Passages” (there are four).
In the Wikipedia article called “Servant Songs” it says that Isa 42.1-4 is a passage that says the Servant is the one chosen by God and anointed to establish justice throughout the world. Isa 49.1-6 says the Servant speaks to the entire world and identifies himself as one called by God before birth. Isa 50.4-11 tells us the Servant declares his confidence in help from God even when he faces physical persecution. Isa 52.13 through 53.12 tells us the suffering of the Servant and how he was oppressed even though he is innocent.
It is advised that these passages be studied in their entirety to get the full expression of what the Messiah Ben Joseph is in relation to the Suffering Servant. We are attempting to lay a foundation so that we can understand the Natzal (Rapture) because all of this is part of that. Then what we have studied will be put together piece by piece to the point where we will understand the Natzal in its fullness. Only then will we be able to differentiate between truth and error on this subject.
In the Jewish Encyclopedia article on the Messiah Ben Joseph it says, “Finally there must be mentioned a Messianic Figure peculiar to the Rabbinical Apocalyptic Literature, that of Messiah Ben Joseph. The earliest mention of him is in the Talmud, Sukkah 52a and 52b where three statements occur in regard to him, for the first of which Rabbi Dosa (c. 250 ) is given as authority, in the last of three statements only his name is mentioned, but the first two speak of the fate which he is to meet, namely, to fall in battle (as if alluding to a well-known tradition). Details about him are not found until much later, but he has an established place in the apocalypses of later centuries and in Midrash literature-in Saadia’s description of the future (“Emunot ve Deot” Chapter 8) and in that of Ha Gaon (Ta’am Zekonim” p. 59). According to these, Messiah Ben Joseph will appear prior to the coming of Messiah Ben David; he will gather the children of Israel around him, march to Jerusalem, and there, after overcoming hostile powers, reestablish the Temple worship and set up his own dominion. There upon Armilus, according to one group of sources, or God and Magog according to the other, will appear with their hosts before Jerusalem, wage war against the Messiah Ben Joseph and slay him. His corpse, according to one group, will be unburied in the streets of Jerusalem; according to the other, it will be hidden by the angels with the bodies of the Patriarchs until Messiah Ben David comes and resurrects him.”
Now, Armilus is a Jewish way of referring to the False Messiah or Rome because it comes from the word “Romulus.” For more information on the False Messiah, see “Torah and New Testament Foundations-The False Messiah” (33 parts) on this website. As believers, we don’t necessarily agree with all this but we must remember that we see everything in a mirror dimly. In the Jewish concept of prophecy, only Moses saw through clear glass. Everyone else has obscured vision. So what is this saying in a nutshell? The Jews of the First Century had a concept of two messiahs to come. One would be slain by Rome and resurrected by the conquering King Messiah Ben David, who would finalize everything.
We know that Yeshua was the Servant of God. His ministry was for three and a half years and he died on Passover (Nisan 14). That means his ministry began around the fall festivals of Yom Teruah (Rosh Ha Shanah), Yom Kippur and Sukkot. In John 1.29 most translations say, “The next day John saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.'” But here is the problem with that translation. At Yom Kippur there are two goats. One is offered as a sin offering to God, and the other is Azazel.
So, we have a problem. If the lamb is not used as a sin offering, how could Yeshua be the sin offering? We would expect a goat, but not a lamb. How this is translated would not have made sense to John’s listeners. We know God has given the korbanot for our instruction.
There is a book called, “The Christology of the New Testament” by Oscar Cullman. On p. 71 it says, “The works of C.F. Burney and J. Jeremias have shown that the Aramaic phrase for ‘Talyah d’ Laha’ means both ‘Lamb of God’ and ‘Servant of God’ and it probably lies behind the Greek expression for ‘Lamb of God.’ Since the expression ‘Lamb of God’ is not commonly used in the Old Testament as a designation for the Paschal Lamb, it is probable that the author of John thought probably of the ‘Eved ha Shem.'” This is also confirmed in the book, “The Aramaic Origins of the Fourth Gospel” by C.F.Burney, p. 107-108.
In other words, it does not make sense for Yochanon (John) to cry out, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” But, the Book of John written in Hebrew and the people spoke Hebrew. There were Aramaic loan words and phrases that were still used, just like there are loan words and phrases from other languages that we use today. It is probable that Yochanon said, “Behold! The servant of God who takes away the sins of the world.” This refers to the concept of the Servant Messiah that everyone knew at the time.
Later in the chapter we see the Messiah Ben Joseph being referred to concerning Yeshua in John 1.45-49. First of all, Phillip refers to Yeshua as the “son of Joseph.” He does not mean his earthly father because Phillip didn’t know Yeshua’s family at this point. He is referring to the Messiah Ben Joseph. Secondly, why was Nathaniel so amazed because Yeshua said he saw him “under the fig tree?”
One of the idioms for the Messianic Kingdom is “under the fig tree” (1 Kings 4.25; Mic 4.4; Zech 3.10). What Yeshua is saying is he saw Nathaniel is a righteous man in the kingdom and he would have a part in the resurrection of the righteous. This amazes Nathaniel and he knew that Yeshua was the Messiah and the Son of God and the King of Israel (a parallelism).
In Part 11 we will pick up here with the question that was asked in the First Century, “Are there two messiahs or two comings?” In fact, that is the exact question Yochanon asked Yeshua (Matt 11.3). This will relate to our study of the Natzal.