We left off talking about the four messianic figures in Zech 1.20 who are called “craftsmen.” They are building the congregation of God and some have identified these craftsmen as Zerubbabel, Joshua the High Priest, Ezra and Nehemiah. Others have identified them as Messiah Ben Joseph, Messiah Ben David, Elijah and the Righteous Priest. Their job was to throw down the power of the four Gentile “horns” which have scattered Israel, Judah and Jerusalem (Zech 1.18-21). We had mentioned earlier that there is a concept found in the book “Jesus the Jew” by Geza Vermes that the concept of a craftsmen or “carpenter” was a term for a rabbi.
Discussing the concept of “Jesus the Carpenter” Vermes says, “His secular profession remains uncertain. Tradition has it that he was a carpenter and learned his trade from his father, but this on the fragile evidence that after his first and last sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth, the townsfolk could not understand how ‘the carpenter’, or ‘the carpenter’s son’, could have acquired such great wisdom. Was he a carpenter himself, or was he only the son of a carpenter? The confused state of the Greek text of the Gospels usually indicates either (a) a doctrinal difficulty thought by some to demand rewording; or (b) the existence of a linguistic problem in the expression in Hellenistic terms of something typically Jewish. Here the second alternative applies. The congregation in the synagogue voices astonishment. ‘Where does he get it from?’ ‘What wisdom is this…?’ ‘Is not this the carpenter/son of the carpenter…?’ Now those familiar with the language spoken by Jesus are acquainted with a metaphorical use of ‘carpenter’ and ‘carpenter’s son’ in ancient Jewish writings. In Talmudic sayings the Aramaic noun denoting carpenter or craftsman (naggar) stands for a ‘scholar’ or ‘learned man.'”
More can be found on this concept can be found in the following commentary from the Artscroll Tanach Series by Mesorah Publications on Ezekiel. In the commentary on Ezekiel 1.2 it says, “On the fifth of the month; it was the fifth year of the exile of King Yehoyachin. This was to be the nucleus from which a new, regenerated Israel would grow (see Overview and comm. to 11.15). Included in it were the best of Israel’s sons. The Charash, carpenters and Masgar, locksmiths mentioned in 2 Kings 24.14 were no ordinary workers. The Sages (Sifri to Deut 32.25) identify them as the Talmidai Chachamim, greatest teachers of the Torah, in the nation. They silenced everyone who would want to argue with them (the root ch,r,sh denotes silence as well as carpentry) with their brilliance, and when they spoke everyone else would close their mouth (s,g,r, to close, also the root for locksmith) in order to listen.” When you go to an interlinear Bible on 2 Kings 24.14, you will see these roots in the words for “craftsmen” and “smith.”
We wanted to bring this concept out before we moved on. In Jewish tradition, these four craftsmen will help usher in the Messianic Kingdom. They are mentioned in the Talmud and Zechariah as we have noted. Rashi says that the Messiah Ben Joseph is a “craftsman” because he will rebuild the Temple. Nachmanides also said the same thing. The roles of the four craftsmen in Jewish thought will be as follows. Elijah will be the herald of the final redemption. This role was fulfilled by Yochanon Ha Matvil in the first coming of Yeshua, and will be fulfilled by another in the second coming of Yeshua.
Messiah Ben Joseph will wage war with evil forced and die in combat. He is resurrected by the Messiah Ben David. There are two main characters that are responsible for the death of the Messiah Ben Joseph, Armilus (Rome /”false messiah) or Gog and Magog. Now, Gog and Magog needs to be understood on three levels. In the Peshat (literal) it is a literal nation or groupings of nations. Gog and Magog is the number 70 in Hebrew, the number of the nations. Second, in the Drash (interpretative/parabolic level), Gog and Magog is seen as any enemy of Israel, like “Amalek.” Third, in the Sowd (deeper meaning) it is Satan.
Messiah Ben David is the conquering king who will come and judge the enemies of Israel and rebuild the Temple. Yeshua will fulfill the roles of Messiah Ben Joseph and Messiah Ben David. Messiah is called a “craftsmen” because he will build the Kahal (congregation) as well (Matt 16.18). The righteous Priest is a mysterious figure in Jewish tradition. Some say Melchizedek (Gen 14.18) is this figure, who some say was also Shem, the son of Noah, who was alive at the time of the events in Gen 14 and outlived Abraham.
With all that said, we could keep going on who these craftsmen are. The four horns are the four kingdoms that have scattered Israel, Judah and Jerusalem. The simple interpretation of all of this is that these horns are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. These are revealed in Dan 2. The four beasts in Dan 7 are the same countries. The lion is Babylon, the bear is Medo-Persia, the leopard is Greece and the terrible beast is Rome. Only two of these existed at the time of Zechariah (Babylon and Medo-Persia). The four craftsmen terrify and cast out the world empires. Their identity can also be understood from Daniel’s prophecy. Babylon was “cast out” by Cyrus and Medo-Persia (Dan 5.25-28). Medo-Persia was cast out by Alexander (Dan 8.3-8, 20-21). Greece was cast out by Rome (Dan 2.40, 7.7,19,23-25) at the battle of Corinth by the Roman consul Mummius in 146 B.C. This battle marked the beginning of the period of the Roman domination in Greek history. Rome “fell” but never really went away, and will be ultimately defeated by the Messiah and his kingdom (Dan 2.34) when Revived Rome (the “ten toes”) are crushed.
These craftsmen are coming to throw down and defeat God’s enemies and God will be the one who raises them up. We see through a “glass dimly” and we can see “flashes” of truth through the Scriptures, like lightning flashing in the distance, but nobody has it all down perfectly. That is how Israel sees the redemption. They thought, or think, that Messiah would come instantly, like lightning, bringing the redemption. They didn’t see Israel being established in stages, and it would come through Jews who were not looking for the Messiah, but by secular Jews. That is what happened from about 1890 to 1948.
In the first century, they saw two Messiahs but didn’t see the gap between the two Messiahs. God’s ways are not our ways. All of this is what prompted John’s question in Matt 11.1-6. John was in prison and asked his question. He was not doubting, he knew Yeshua was the Messiah Ben Joseph “Suffering Servant” character of Isa 40 through 66. John had the Ruach Ha Kodesh from birth, he jumped when in the presence of Yeshua while still in the womb. God told him that whoever the Spirit rested on when immersing was the Messiah (John 1.31-34). He knew Yeshua was the Messiah (Matt 3.13; Mark 1.9-11; Luke 3.21-22, 28). John identified him (John 1.19-36). What prompted his question was whether Yeshua was going to fulfill both roles of Messiah Ben Joseph and Messiah Ben David, or would another person come along to fulfill the role of Messiah Ben David. Yeshua’s answer told John that would fulfill both roles of the Messiah. What he told John was that there was going to be one Messiah with two comings.
Ecc 1.9 says, “That which has been is what will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun.” Hos 11.1 says that Israel and Ephraim are interchangeable terms. Then it says in Hos 11.3, “Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk.” Hos 11.1 will be quoted in reference to Yeshua in Matt 2.15 coming out of Egypt just like Israel did historically in the first redemption. There is a concept in Scripture that says, “Whatever happens to Israel will happen to Messiah, and whatever happens to the Messiah will happen to Israel.” Another concept says, “Learn of Israel and learn of yourself.” This concept is referred to by Paul in 1 Cor 10.1-6. We are up, down, up down, go sideways, go in circles, get on track and then off track, get afflicted, have problems, the walk is not easy, get attacked and so on. Like the line in “Fiddler on the Roof” where Tevye says, “I know we are the chosen people, but why can’t you choose someone else for awhile?” We get off track, turn away from God and sin. God allows us to be buffeted and we turn back to him. So, whatever happens to Israel happens to Messiah, and whatever happens to Messiah happens to Israel. In light of that, we can see how Isa 53 is about the Messiah.
In Part 32, we will so some practical application of what we have been going over. We will see just how integrated the Tanak is with the Gospels and Epistles and how there are layers and layers of messages.