Messiah ben Joseph
Messiah ben Joseph (Heb.: משיח בן יוסף), also known as Messiah bar/ben Ephraim (Aram./Heb.: משיח בר/בן אפרים), is a Mashiach from the tribe of Ephraim who dies as a sacrifice of atonement and rises again. Jewish tradition alludes to two redeemers, both called Mashiach and are involved in ushering in the Messianic age. They are called Mashiach ben David and Mashiach ben Joseph.
Messiah ben Joseph will act as a precursor to Messiah ben David and will prepare the world for the coming of the final redeemer. The main function of him will be of political and military nature. Messiah, son of Joseph shall wage war against the evil forces and he will die in combat with the enemies of God and Israel. Messiah ben Joseph will be killed, this is described in the prophecy of Zechariah "they shall mourn him as one mourns for an only child." (Zechariah 12:10). After his death there will be a period of great calamities which shall be the final test for Israel. After this, Messiah ben David shall come, avenge his death, resurrect him and all the dead, and usher in the Messianic era of everlasting universal peace.
Sources in chronological order
The Dead Sea Scrolls
In the Dead Sea Scrolls, he appears in 4Q372 (c. 200 BCE) as a suffering righteous Joseph, who cries out to God in his death-throes as ‘My father’, citing Psalms 89 and 22, and predicts that he will arise to do justice and righteousness. The poly-messianic Testimonia text 4Q175 (c. 100 BCE) presents him as a latterday Joshua, together with King Messiah, priest, and prophet figures.
In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs he is the spotless Josephite Lamb of God who destroys Beliar in dying for the ungodly (T. Benj. 3.8); he forms a messianic trio with Judah and Levi, but his kingdom is temporary and he is borne heavenward from the Mount of Olives by a bull (T. Naph. 5:1-8; T. Jos. 19:11-12).
In the Animal Apocalypse of 1 Enoch (c. 165 BCE), he is the white firstborn bull who transforms the beasts and birds of the heathen nations into his own image, and is then himself transformed into a sovereign aurochs (1 En. 90.37-38).
Targum and Talmud
In the Targum Tosefta to Zechariah 12.10, Messiah bar Ephraim is slain by Gog. In the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 40.9-11, on the other hand, he vanquishes Gog. The solution to the apparent discrepancy would appear to be that his death effects the final redemption.
The same paradox is seen in the Babylonian Talmud (Suk. 52a), in the record of a dispute between R. Dosa ben Harkinas and other unnamed rabbis. R. Dosa takes Zechariah 12:10 to apply to the mourning for Messiah ben Joseph, while the rabbis think the mourning is for the evil inclination. In effect, both parties recognize two deaths in Zech 12:10, namely, the deaths of Messiah ben Joseph and of the Evil Inclination, but disagree over which death is mourned. The talmudic redactor sides with R. Dosa: the mourning is for Messiah ben Joseph. (Mourning the Evil Inclination, he adds, would be absurd.) The implication is that the death of Ben Joseph has opened the sin-purifying fountain of Zech. 13:1, slaying the Evil Inclination. The following passage (Suk. 52b) speaks of how Ben Joseph's death frightens Messiah ben David, so that he urgently prays for his life to be spared.
Details about him are not found until much later, but he has an established place in the apocalypses of later centuries and in the midrash literature — in Saadia's description of the future ("Emunot we-De'ot," ch. viii.) and in that of Hai Gaon ("Ṭa'am Zeḳenim," 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 the hostile powers, reestablish the Temple-worship and set up his own dominion. Thereupon Armilus, according to one group of sources, or Gog and Magog, according to the other, will appear with their hosts before Jerusalem, wage war against Messiah ben Joseph, and slay him. His corpse, according to one group, will lie 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 (comp. Jew. Encyc. i. 682, 684 [§§ 8 and 13]; comp. also Midrash Wayosha' and Agadat ha-Mashiaḥ in Jellinek, "B. H." i. 55 et seq., iii. 141 et seq.).
The Messiah ben Joseph, according to Rabbi Meir Leib ben Yechiel Michael Weiser (“MALBIM”) (1809-1879 CE), will be the future leader of the Lost Ten Tribes when they return (see Malbim on Ezekiel 37 and Micah 5). The Messiah ben Joseph will initiate union with Judah who will be led by Messiah son of David. Later The Messiah son of Joseph is killed and Messiah son of David rules over all Twelve Tribes. Prior to the Malbim, it has been claimed, Messiah son of Joseph was not considered the future leader of the Ten Tribes, although twice it is mentioned that a part of the Ten Tribes will be found among those who will gather about his standard. The Book "Kol HaTor," attributed to followers of Eliyahu of Vilna, deals at length with Messiah son of Joseph and his role in bringing back the exiles and rebuilding the Land of Israel.
Jews considered the Messiah ben Joseph
- Jesus of Nazareth (1st century CE) by Christians and not by normative Jews.
- Bar Abba (1st century CE).
- Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534–1572) thought himself Messiah ben Joseph and Rabbi Hayyim Vital his heir.
- Hayyim Vital (1543–1620) named Messiah ben Joseph in a 1574 letter of Abraham Shalom.
- Joshua Heschel Zoref (b.1633): claimed to be Messiah ben Joseph, with Shabbetai Zvi as the Jewish Messiah.
- Judah Leib Prossnitz (c.1670-1730): claimed to be Messiah ben Joseph, with Shabbetai Zvi as the Jewish Messiah.
- Theodore Herzl (May 2, 1860 – July 3, 1904) Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) referred to him as this Messiah ben Joseph, the one who is helping to pave the way for Messiah ben David.
- The Messiah at the Gates of Rome
- Jewish Messiah claimants
- Judaism's view of Jesus
- Jesus and Messianic prophecy
- Outreach Judaism
- Year 6000
- D.C. Mitchell, "Messiah ben Joseph: A Sacrifice of Atonement for Israel."
- Schochet, Rabbi Prof. Dr. Jacob Immanuel. "Moshiach ben Yossef". Tutorial. http://moshiach.com. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- Blidstein, Prof. Dr. Gerald J. "Messiah in Rabbinic Thought". MESSIAH. Jewish Virtual Library and Encyclopaedia Judaica 2008 The Gale Group. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- Mitchell, 'A Dying and Rising Josephite Messiah in 4Q372'.
- David C. Mitchell, «The Fourth Deliverer: A Josephite Messiah in 4QTestimonia», Vol. 86 (2005) 545-553 .
- J.C. O’Neill, ‘The Lamb of God in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,’ JSNT 2 (1979), pp. 2-30.
- "Messiah ben Joseph". MESSIAH (Hebr., "Ha-Mashiaḥ"; Aramaic, "Meshiḥa" = "anointed one"). JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- Lenowitz, Harris. The Jewish Messiahs: From the Galilee to Crown Heights [New York, N.Y. Oxford University Press, 1998], 127.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901–1906.
- Bibliographical entries are cited in chronological order, beginning with the most recent.
- D.C. Mitchell, “A Dying and Rising Josephite Messiah in 4Q372”, Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 18.3 (2009) pp. 47–70.
- I. Knohl, 'The Messiah Son of Joseph: “Gabriel’s Revelation” and the Birth of a New Messianic Model', Biblical Archaeology Review 34:05 (Sep/Oct 2008).
- D.C. Mitchell, “Messiah ben Joseph: A Sacrifice of Atonement for Israel”, Review of Rabbinic Judaism 10 (2007).
- D.C. Mitchell, “Messiah bar Ephraim in the Targums”, Aramaic Studies 4.2 (2006) 221-241.
- D.C. Mitchell, “Firstborn Shor and Rem: A Sacrificial Josephite Messiah in 1 Enoch 90.37- 38 & Deuteronomy 33.17”, Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 15.3 (2006) 211- 28”.
- D.C. Mitchell, “The Fourth Deliverer: A Josephite Messiah in 4Q175”, Biblica 86.4 (2005) 545-553."
- Hebrew texts and English translations of Aggadat Mashiaḥ, Otot ha-Mashiaḥ, Sefer Zerubbabel, ‘Asereth Melakhim, Pirqey Mashiaḥ, Nistarot Rav Shimon ben Yoḥai in D.C. Mitchell, The Message of the Psalter (Sheffield: JSOT, 1997), pp. 304-350.
- R. Smend, Alttestamentliche Religionsgesch.;
- W. Nowack, Die Zukunftshoffnung Israels in der Assyrischen Zeit;
- Hühn, Die Messianischen Weissagungen;
- Fr. Giesebrecht, Der Knecht Jahwe's in Deutero-Jesaia;
- Emil Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., ii. 29;
- Wilhelm Bousset, Die Religion des Judentums im Neutestamentlichen Zeitalter, part 3, ch. ii.-v.; part 6, pp. 474 et seq.;
- P. Volz, Jüdische Eschatologie von Daniel bis Akiba, §§ 34-35;
- H. J. Holtzmann, Lehrbuch der Neutestamentlichen Theologie, i. 68-85;
- W. Baldensperger, Die Messianisch-Apokalyptischen Hoffnungen des Judentums;
- F. Weber, Jüdische Theologie auf Grund des Talmud, etc., ch. xxii.-xxiii.;
- Gustaf H. Dalman, Der Leidende und der Sterbende Messias;
- idem, Die Worte Jesu, pp. 191 et seq.;
- Kampers, Alexander der Grosse und die Idee des Weltimperiums in Prophetie und Sage;
- B. Beer, Welchen Aufschluss Geben die Jüdischen Quellen über den "Zweigehörnten" des Korans? in *Z. D. M. G. ix. 791 et seq.