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Jesus in Jewish History

13 Principles

The idea of a savior or messiah is a Jewish idea and is one of the 13 principles of faith recited by observant Jews during morning prayers. There are numerous mentions of a savior in the books of the prophets, for instance in Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, and Ezekiel. The word Messiah is derived from the Hebrew word, Mashach, meaning: to anoint. The messiah is, according to Jewish thought, anointed by God, as in I Samuel 16:13, "Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him [David] in the midst of his brothers, and the spirit of God rested on David from that day on."

Messiah as Human

Jewish belief holds that the messiah will be a human being, descended from King David (from the tribe of Judah). The messiah will be well-versed in Jewish knowledge, and will cause the Jews to return from their exile to live in Israel. Next, the messiah will build the Third Temple, create world peace, and bring all people to the belief in one God.

Medieval scholar Maimonides adds that the Messiah will "…perform signs and wonders, bring anything new into being, revive the dead, or do similar things," and explains that only the man who is successful in fulfilling all of the above criteria can be the Messiah.

Because Jewish history is dark with the blood of religious persecution, and the idea of a messiah is integral to Jewish belief, many charismatic figures have arisen who have claimed to be the messiah. Such claimants often have many followers. Jewish thought, which does not accept Jesus as the messiah, believes that Jesus was accepted as a messiah by the early Christians as a reaction to the difficulties of the Roman occupation.

Here are some of the reasons that Jews do not believe that Jesus is the messiah:

1)    The Christians believe that Jesus is God. The Jewish messiah must be human.

2)    The Christians believe that Jesus will have a second coming. The Jews do not believe a messiah can die and come back—once the messiah comes, the messianic era will be in full force and there will be no more war or bloodshed.

3)    If Jesus had been the messiah, the Third Temple would have been rebuilt and all Jews would now be living in Israel, including righteous Jews who had died and been brought back to life.

In essence, Jewish thought believes that Jesus is just one more in a long line of false messiahs who had an unprecedented number of believers. Some Jews believe that Jesus learned the secrets of Kabbalah, the mystical books of Judaism, and came to believe he had great powers as a result of this knowledge.

While there is no explicit mention of Jesus in Jewish writings, there are some oral traditions relating to his precociousness in learning and practicing Kabbalah at a young age, though learning Kabbalah at a young age is forbidden by Jewish tradition. Kabbalah learning is thought to be dangerous for one who is unprepared for such learning by dint of youth or immaturity and some Jewish sages have been said to have become insane or evil as a result of learning the mystical books of the Kabbalah.


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