The word “Messiah” is an English rendering of the Hebrew word “Mashiach”, which means “Anointed.” It usually refers to a person initiated into God’s service by being anointed with oil. (Exodus 29:7, I Kings 1:39, II Kings 9:3)
Since every King and High Priest was anointed with oil, each may be referred to as “an anointed one” (a Mashiach or a Messiah). For example: “God forbid that I [David] should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s Messiah [Saul]…” (I Samuel 26:11. Cf. II Samuel 23:1, Isaiah 45:1, Psalms 20:6)
Where does the Jewish concept of Messiah come from? One of the central themes of Biblical prophecy is the promise of a future age of perfection characterized by universal peace and recognition of God. (Isaiah 2:1-4; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Isaiah 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)
Many of these prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5)
Since every King is a Messiah, by convention, we refer to this future anointed king as The Messiah. The above is the only description in the Bible of a Davidic descendant who is to come in the future. We will recognize the Messiah by seeing who the King of Israel is at the time of complete universal perfection.
1) JESUS DID NOT FULFILL THE MESSIANIC PROPHECIES
What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? The Bible says that he will:
A. Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
B. Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
C. Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
D. Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: “God will be King over all the world—on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One” (Zechariah 14:9).
The historical fact is that Jesus fulfilled none of these messianic prophecies.
Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming, but Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright, and no concept of a second coming exists.
2) JESUS DID NOT EMBODY THE PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS OF MESSIAH
A. MESSIAH AS PROPHET
Jesus was not a prophet. Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry. During the time of Ezra (circa 300 BCE), when the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets—Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended.
B. DESCENDENT OF DAVID
According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god,(1) nor will he possess supernatural qualities.
The Messiah must be descended on his father’s side from King David (see Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 11:1). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father—and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father’s side from King David! (2) SEE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S RESPONSE TO THIS QUESTION
C. TORAH OBSERVANCE
The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot (commandments) remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4)
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. (see John 1:45 and 9:16, Acts 3:22 and 7:37) For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), “He does not observe Shabbat!”
3) MISTRANSLATED VERSES “REFERRING” TO JESUS
Biblical verses can only be understood by studying the original Hebrew text—which reveals many discrepancies in the Christian translation.
A. VIRGIN BIRTH
The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an “alma” as giving birth. The word “alma” has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as “virgin.” This accords Jesus’ birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.
The verse in Psalms 22:17 reads: “Like a lion, they are at my hands and feet.” The Hebrew word ki-ari (like a lion) is grammatically similar to the word “gouged.” Thus Christianity reads the verse as a reference to crucifixion: “They pierced my hands and feet.”
C. SUFFERING SERVANT
Christianity claims that Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the “suffering servant.”
In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews (“Israel”) are regarded as one unit. The Torah is filled with examples of the Jewish nation referred to with a singular pronoun.
Ironically, Isaiah’s prophecies of persecution refer in part to the 11th century when Jews were tortured and killed by Crusaders who acted in the name of Jesus.
From where did these mistranslations stem? St. Gregory, 4th century Bishop of Nazianzus, wrote: “A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire.” For further reading on the “suffering servant”: jewsforjudaism.org/ss
4) JEWISH BELIEF IS BASED SOLELY ON NATIONAL REVELATION
Of the 15,000 religions in human history, only Judaism bases its belief on national revelation—i.e. God speaking to the entire nation. If God is going to start a religion, it makes sense He’ll tell everyone, not just one person.
Throughout history, thousands of religions have been started by individuals, attempting to convince people that he or she is God’s true prophet. But personal revelation is an extremely weak basis for a religion because one can never know if it is indeed true. Since others did not hear God speak to this person, they have to take his word for it. Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, there is still no verification that he is a genuine prophet. Miracles do not prove anything. All they show—assuming they are genuine—is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy.
Judaism, unique among all of the world’s major religions, does not rely on “claims of miracles” as the basis for its religion. In fact, the Bible says that God sometimes grants the power of “miracles” to charlatans, in order to test Jewish loyalty to the Torah (Deut. 13:4).
Maimonides states (Foundations of Torah, ch. 8):
The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of the miracles he performed. Whenever anyone’s belief is based on seeing miracles, he has lingering doubts, because it is possible the miracles were performed through magic or sorcery. All of the miracles performed by Moses in the desert were because they were necessary, and not as proof of his prophecy.
What then was the basis of [Jewish] belief? The Revelation at Mount Sinai, which we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears, not dependent on the testimony of others… as it says, “Face to face, God spoke with you…” The Torah also states: “God did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us—who are all here alive today.” (Deut. 5:3)
Judaism is not miracles. It is the personal eyewitness experience of every man, woman and child, standing at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.