By Andrew Jackson
Our concept of messiah is deeply influced by Christianity. Even dictionaries include as definition of messiah ‘savior’.
Messiah is a transliteration of the Hebrew mashiach. Mashiach is derived from the primitive root mashach (mem-shin-chet) meaning “to anoint”. The BDB includes “to smear” based upon a related Arabic term.
Ex. 29:1 And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest’s office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish, (2) And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them…(7) Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.
Here, various matzot are anointed for an offering. The offering is part of consecrating Aharon and his sons as Kohanim. A few verses later Aharon and his sons are to be anointed.
Ex. 29:29 And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them…(36) And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it.
The altar for burnt offering is anointed.
Ex. 30:26 And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, (27) And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, (28) And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. (29) And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. (30) And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
Ex. 40:9 And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy. (10) And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy. (11) And thou shalt anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it. (12) And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. (13) And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. (14) And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: (15) And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations. (16) Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he.
All the elements of the Tabernacle are to be anointed along with Aharon and his sons as kohanim.
Lev. 2:4 And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.
Lev. 4:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (2) Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them: (3) If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering. (4) And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before the LORD. (5) And the priest that is anointed shall take of the bullock’s blood, and bring it to the tabernacle of the congregation:…(14) When the sin, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation shall offer a young bullock for the sin, and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation. (15) And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the LORD: and the bullock shall be killed before the LORD. (16) And the priest that is anointed shall bring of the bullock’s blood to the tabernacle of the congregation:
Leviticus 4 discusses the sin offering (korban chatat). The first person discussed is the kohen h’mashiach, the anointed priest who sins. We have a sinful messiah.
Lev. 6:20 This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer unto the LORD in the day when he is anointed; the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a meat offering perpetual, half of it in the morning, and half thereof at night. (21) In a pan it shall be made with oil; and when it is baken, thou shalt bring it in: and the baken pieces of the meat offering shalt thou offer for a sweet savour unto the LORD. (22) And the priest of his sons that is anointed in his stead shall offer it: it is a statute for ever unto the LORD; it shall be wholly burnt. (Lev 6:12-15, JPS)
The offering Aharon’s descendants offer when they are anointed priest.
Lev. 7:12 If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.
Lev. 7:35 This is the portion of the anointing of Aaron, and of the anointing of his sons, out of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, in the day when he presented them to minister unto the LORD in the priest’s office; (36) Which the LORD commanded to be given them of the children of Israel, in the day that he anointed them, by a statute for ever throughout their generations.
Lev. 8:10 And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. (11) And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them. (12) And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.
This passage describes methods of anointing. Verse 12 shows Moshe poured (yatsaq) the oil of anointing over Aharon’s head.
The Tent of Meeting, the altars, and the utensils, Moshe sprinkled (nazah) the oil.
Lev. 16:32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest’s office in his father’s stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments:
Num. 3:1 These also are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the LORD spake with Moses in mount Sinai. (2) And these are the names of the sons of Aaron; Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. (3) These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest’s office.
Num. 6:15 And a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings.
Offering of a Nazarite.
Num. 7:1 And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them; (2) That the princes of Israel, heads of the house of their fathers, who were the princes of the tribes, and were over them that were numbered, offered: (3) And they brought their offering before the LORD, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle. (4) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (5) Take it of them, that they may be to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; and thou shalt give them unto the Levites, to every man according to his service. (6) And Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them unto the Levites. (7) Two wagons and four oxen he gave unto the sons of Gershon, according to their service: (8) And four wagons and eight oxen he gave unto the sons of Merari, according unto their service, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. (9) But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their shoulders. (10) And the princes offered for dedicating of the altar in the day that it was anointed, even the princes offered their offering before the altar…
(84) This was the dedication of the altar, in the day when it was anointed, by the princes of Israel: twelve chargers of silver, twelve silver bowls, twelve spoons of gold: (85) Each charger of silver weighing an hundred and thirty shekels, each bowl seventy: all the silver vessels weighed two thousand and four hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: (86) The golden spoons were twelve, full of incense, weighing ten shekels apiece, after the shekel of the sanctuary: all the gold of the spoons was an hundred and twenty shekels. (87) All the oxen for the burnt offering were twelve bullocks, the rams twelve, the lambs of the first year twelve, with their meat offering: and the kids of the goats for sin offering twelve. (88) And all the oxen for the sacrifice of the peace offerings were twenty and four bullocks, the rams sixty, the he goats sixty, the lambs of the first year sixty. This was the dedication of the altar, after that it was anointed.
Num. 35:25 And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.
The average ancient Israelite did not have written copied to the Torah. He would hear the entire Torah read every seventh year. The above passages are what the average Israelite would hear about anointed ones (messiahs). There are no references to a savior or even a king being anointed.
Aharon, his sons, and the articles of the Tabernacles were anointed using a special oil of anointing:
Ex. 30:22 Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (23) Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, (24) And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: (25) And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. (26) And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, (27) And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. (29) And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. (30) And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. (31) And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations. (32) Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. (33) Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.
This oil is for the purpose of setting something apart (qadash). It is doubtful that the oil was poured upon a king of Israel. There does not seem to be a passage that shows that a king was to be set apart (qadash). The example of King Uzziah supports this.
2Chr. 26:14 And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones. (15) And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. (16) But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. (17) And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: (18) And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. (19) Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. (20) And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. (21) And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.
The first reference to a king as an anointed one is described within a parable. After Gideon dies, one of his sons Abimelech attempts to build a kingdom starting with Shechem. He attempts to murder all of Gideon’s other sons to secure his position. One of his brothers (Jotham) survives. Jotham attempts to stop Abimelech’s plot. He addresses the men of Shechem with a parable:
Judg. 9:7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. (8) The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. (9) But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? (10) And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. (11) But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? (12) Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. (13) And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? (14) Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. (15) And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.
Israel’s first anointed king is Shaul:
1Sam. 10:1 Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?
It mentions that Samuel anointed Saul with oil. It does not specifically mention the oil of anointing.
After Saul is rejected, Samuel anoints David:
1Sam. 16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
Again, it appears that Samuel uses regular oil. Later, the house of Judah anoints David king over their house:
2Sam. 2:4 And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabesh-gilead were they that buried Saul. (7) Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them.
Seven years later, the elders of the house of Israel anoints David as king:
2Sam. 5:3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.
Dan. 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (27) And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The term mashiach appears in Tanakh 39 times. The King James translates it ‘anointed one’ 37 times. Only twice does it translate it ‘messiah’. Both appear in Daniel 9. Why did the King James translate it ‘messiah’ here, but ‘anointed one’ the other 37 times?
The above translation is obviously designed to give a Christological emphasis. Since most people in the Christian world lack a proper understanding of ‘messiah’, they cannot readily discern the subterfuge.
The term messiah in verse 25 is accompanied by an adjective, mashiach nagid, meaning anointed ruler. An idea of the meaning is found in 1 Samuel 9:16
At this time tomorrow, I will send a man to you from the territory of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him ruler (um’shachto l’nagid – lit. he is anointed to rule) of My people Israel…
The remainder of verse 25 of the KJV states that there will be a space of 69 ‘weeks’ (Hb. 69 ‘sevens’). However, it does so in a peculiar, roundabout way: seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks. Why not simply state threescore and nine weeks?
The answer lies in verse 26:
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:
Christians, with their concept of Messiah, will think that this is the same as the Messiah in verse 25. The first problem is this Messiah in not a leader (nagid). A second problem is that this messiah is ‘cut off’ (karet). ‘Cut off’ is never applied to a righteous person! The third problem is that the 62 weeks does not make sense in the context of 69 weeks in the previous verse (62 weeks after what?).
However, we know that there are more than one type of mashiach. If verse 27 refers to the destruction of the Second Temple, then this mashiach refers to a high priest.
A better translation, when incorporating Hebrew grammar, should be:
Dan 9:25 And you should know and understand that from the of the word to rebuild Jerusalem until an (Note: there is not hey hayadiya) anointed prince (Mashiach Nagid) is seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it will be rebuilt, street and moat, but in troubles times. (26) And after sixty-two weeks an anointed one will be cut off and will be no more.
Even some Christian translations acknowledge this fact.
Christian translations also misuse ‘mashiach’ in Habakkuk 3:13.
Hab. 3:13 Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. (KJV)
However, the word ‘with’ does not appear in the Hebrew. It is better translated:
Hab. 3:13 You went forth to save your people; to save your anointed one (AJV)