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JUDAISMS’ VIEWS ON THE MESSIAH’S PREHUMAN EXISTENCE

In this post, I will be citing specific Jewish sources confirming the personal prehuman existence of the Messiah.

ENOCH

“And in that place I saw the fountain of righteousness Which was inexhaustible: And around it were many fountains of wisdom: And all the thirsty drank of them, And were filled with wisdom, And their dwellings were with the righteous and holy and elect. And at that hour that Son of Man was named In the presence of the Lord of Spirits, And his name before the Head of Days. Yea, before the sun and the signs were created, Before the stars of the heaven were made, His name was named before the Lord of Spirits. He shall be a staff to the righteous whereon to stay themselves and not fall, And he shall be the light of the Gentiles, And the hope of those who are troubled of heart. All who dwell on earth shall fall down and WORSHIP before him, And will praise and bless and celebrate with song the Lord of Spirits. And for this reason hath he been chosen AND HIDDEN BEFORE HIM, BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD and for evermore. And the wisdom of the Lord of Spirits hath revealed him to the holy and righteous; For he hath preserved the lot of the righteous, Because they have hated and despised this world of unrighteousness, And have hated all its works and ways in the name of the Lord of Spirits: For in his name they are saved, And according to his good pleasure hath it been in regard to their life. In these days downcast in countenance shall the kings of the earth have become, And the strong who possess the land because of the works of their hands, For on the day of their anguish and affliction they shall not (be able to) save themselves. And I will give them over into the hands of Mine elect: As straw in the fire so shall they burn before the face of the holy: As lead in the water shall they sink before the face of the righteous, And no trace of them shall any more be found. And on the day of their affliction there shall be rest on the earth, And before them they shall fall and not rise again: And there shall be no one to take them with his hands and raise them: For they have denied the Lord of Spirits and His Messiah. The name of the Lord of Spirits be blessed.” 1 Enoch 48:1-10

“And thus the Lord commanded the kings and the mighty and the exalted, and those who dwell on the earth, and said: ‘Open your eyes and lift up your horns if ye are able to recognize the Elect One.’ And the Lord of Spirits seated him on the throne of His glory, And the spirit of righteousness was poured out upon him, And the word of his mouth slays all the sinners, And all the unrighteous are destroyed from before his face. And there shall stand up in that day all the kings and the mighty, And the exalted and those who hold the earth, And they shall see and recognize How he sits on the throne of his glory, And righteousness is judged before him, And no lying word is spoken before him… FOR FROM THE BEGINNING THE SON OF MAN WAS HIDDEN, And the Most High PRESERVED HIM IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS MIGHT, And revealed him to the elect. And the congregation of the elect and holy shall be sown, And all the elect shall stand before him on that day. And all the kings and the mighty and the exalted and those who rule the earth Shall fall down before him on their faces, And WORSHIP and set their hope upon that Son of Man, And petition him and supplicate for mercy at his hands… And the righteous and elect shall be saved on that day, And they shall never thenceforward see the face of the sinners and unrighteous. And the Lord of Spirits will abide over them, And with that Son of Man shall they eat And lie down and rise up for ever and ever.” 1 Enoch 62:1-3, 7-9, 13-14

CRITICAL SCHOLARS ON ENOCH’S SON OF MAN

“These texts obviously teach that the Son of Man existed in heaven before He was to be manifested on earth: He was named beside God in heaven (46:1); His name was named (48:2 and 3) and He was hidden with God BEFORE THE CREATION. The statement that the Son of Man was both named and hidden BEFORE CREATION leaves no doubt that He was thought to have existed BEFORE CREATION, whether naming implies bringing into existence or not. … T.W. Manson’s objections, therefore, miss the point completely. Focusing attention on the ‘naming,’ he believes that there is no evidence of a belief in the ‘pre-mundane existence’ of the Son of Man; rather evidence of a ‘pre-mundane election.’ He concludes, ‘pre-mundane election does not necessarily involve pre-mundane existence except as a project in the mind of God.’ But the ‘naming’ is not the act which brings the Son of Man into existence, rather it implies that He already is in existence. The text, in fact, tells of the pre-mundane election of a pre-existent being who, since he is also to be ‘hidden’ certainly exists outside of God’s mind. … There can be NO SERIOUS DOUBT, therefore, that the Son of Man was a pre-mundane, pre-existent, heavenly being, who was reserved in heaven until the appropriate time for the exercise of His office as eschatological judge and king.” (Robert Gerald Hammerton-Kelly, “The Idea of Pre-Existence in Early Judaism: A Study in the Background of New Testament Theology,” Th.D. dissertation [Union Theological Seminary, 1966], pp. 67-70; bold and capital emphasis mine)

And:

“… For our purposes a precise date is not particularly important. What matters is the exalted character of the Son of Man. Many great and glorious things are said in the Similitudes about this person–who now is thought of as a divine being, rather than, say, as the nation of Israel. We are told that he was given a name ‘even before the creation of he sun and the moon, before the creation of the stars’ (1 En. 48. 2-3). We are told that all the earth will fall down and worship him. BEFORE CREATION he was concealed in the presence of God himself, but he was always God’s chosen one, and it is he who revealed God’s wisdom to the righteous and holy, who will be ‘saved in his name,’ since ‘it is his good pleasure that they have life’ (48. 2-7).

“At the end of time, when all the dead are resurrected, it is he, the ‘Elect One,’ who will sit on God’s throne (51.3). From this ‘throne of glory’ he will ‘judge all the works of the holy ones in heaven above, weighing in the balance their deeds’ (61.8). HE HIMSELF IS ETERNAL: ‘He shall never pass away or perish before the face of the earth.’ And ‘all evil shall disappear before his face’ (69.79)…

At one point the cosmic judge of the earth is called the messiah–a term we will consider more fully in the next chapter. For now, it is enough to say that it comes from the Hebrew word for anointed and was originally more used of the king of Israel, God’s anointed one (i.e., the one chosen and favored by God. Now the ruler anointed by God is not a mere mortal; HE IS A DIVINE BEING WHO HAS ALWAYS EXISTED, who sits beside God on his throne, who will judge the wicked and the righteous at the end of time. He, in other words, is elevated to God’s own status and functions as the divine being who carries God’s judgment on the earth. This is an exalted figure indeed, as exalted as one can possibly be without actually being the Lord God Almighty himself. It is striking that A LATER EDITION to the Similitudes, chapters 70-71, identifies this Son of Man as none other than Enoch. In this SOMEWHAT LATER VIEW, it is a man, a mere mortal, who is exalted to this supreme position next to God. As this exalted being, the Son of Man is worshiped and glorified by the righteous.” (Bart D. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee [HarperOne, 2014], pp. 66-67; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Pay careful attention to Ehrman’s statement that the book of Enoch identifies the Son of Man as an eternal being, one who has always existed, since this will prove to be quite significant as we shall see shortly. Ehrman continues:

“In an interesting and compelling study, Alan Segal, a scholar of ancient Judaism, argues that the rabbis were particularly concerned about a notion, which was evidently widespread in parts of Judaism, that along with God in heaven there was a chosen power on the divine throne. Following these Jewish sources, Segal refers to these two–God and the other–as the ‘two powers in heaven.’ The Son of Man figure whom we have just examined would be one such divine figure, as he shares the status and power of God…” (Ibid., p. 68; bold emphasis mine)

4 EZRA

“I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude, which I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound. Then I asked an angel, ‘Who are these, my lord?’ He answered and said to me, ‘These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and they have confessed the name of God; now they are being crowned, and receive palms.’ Then I said to the angel, ‘Who is that young man who places crowns on them and puts palms in their hands?’ He answered and said to me, ‘ He is THE SON OF GOD, whom they confessed in the world.’ So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord. Then the angel said to me, ‘Go, tell my people how great and many are the wonders of the Lord God which you have seen.’” 4 Ezra 2:42-48

For MY SON the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him, and those who remain shall rejoice four hundred years. And after these years MY SON the Messiah shall die, and all who draw human breath.” 4 Ezra 7:28-29

“He said to me, “This is the interpretation of this vision which you have seen: The eagle which you saw coming up from the sea is the fourth kingdom which appeared in a vision to your brother Daniel. But it was not explained to him as I now explain or have explained it to you… And as for the lion whom you saw rousing up out of the forest and roaring and speaking to the eagle and reproving him for his unrighteousness, and as for all his words that you have heard, this is the Messiah WHOM THE MOST HIGH HAS KEPT until the end of days, who will arise from the posterity of David, and will come and speak to them; he will denounce them for their ungodliness and for their wickedness, and will cast up before them their contemptuous dealings. For first he will set them living before his judgment seat, and when he has reproved them, then he will destroy them. But he will deliver in mercy the remnant of my people, those who have been saved throughout my borders, and he will make them joyful until the end comes, the day of judgment, of which I spoke to you at the beginning. This is the dream that you saw, and this is its interpretation.” 4 Ezra 12:10-12, 31-35

“And when these things come to pass and the signs occur which I showed you before, then MY SON will be revealed, whom you saw as a man coming up from the sea. And when all the nations hear his voice, every man shall leave his own land and the warfare that they have against one another; and an innumerable multitude shall be gathered together, as you saw, desiring to come and conquer him. But he shall stand on the top of Mount Zion. And Zion will come and be made manifest to all people, prepared and built, as you saw the mountain carved out without hands. And he, MY SON, will reprove the assembled nations for their ungodliness (this was symbolized by the storm), and will reproach them to their face with their evil thoughts and the torments with which they are to be tortured (which were symbolized by the flames), and will destroy them without effort by the law (which was symbolized by the fire)… I said, ‘O sovereign Lord, explain this to me: Why did I see the man coming up from the heart of the sea?’ He said to me, ‘Just as no one can explore or know what is in the depths of the sea, so no one on earth can see MY SON or those who are with him, except in the time of his day.’” 4 Ezra 13:32-38, 51-52

“Lay up in your heart the signs that I have shown you, the dreams that you have seen, and the interpretations that you have heard; for you shall be taken up from among men, and henceforth you shall live with MY SON and with those who are like you, until the times are ended.” 4 Ezra 14:8-9

NOTED LIBERAL BIBLICAL SCHOLAR JOHN J. COLLINS ON ENOCH AND 4 EZRA

“… The two earliest Jewish interpretations of Daniel 7 are found in the Similitudes of Enoch and 4 Ezra 13. Both these passages assume that Daniel’s ‘one like a son of man’ is an individual, and both use the term ‘messiah’ with reference to him. In both these documents, the Son of Man figure is pre-existent, and therefore transcendent in some sense…” (Collins, “The Danielic Son of Man,” The Scepter and the Star–The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature [Doubleday: 1995], Chapter 8, p. 167)

The figure of the Son of Man in the Similitudes shows considerable development over against Daniel’s ‘one like a son of man.’ In later, rabbinic, tradition the name of the messiah is listed among the things that preceded the creation of the world. The Son of Man is equated with the messiah in 1 Enoch 48:10 and 52:4. While the title messiah plays a minor role in the Similitudes, it is all the more significant that the identification of messiah and Son of Man can be assumed. Daniel’s ‘one like a son of man’ appears after the judgment of the beasts/kingdoms. In the Similitudes he is said to cast down kings from their thrones and from their kingdoms, and he takes his seat on his throne of glory as judge (62:5; 69:29). He also has the role of revealer. In many respects he seems to be assimilated to the Deity (who also sits on the throne of his glory). In 48:5, people fall down and worship him. (Ibid., p. 181; bold emphasis mine)

“While they are not primarily a work of interpretation, however, the Similitudes remain an important witness to the early understanding of Daniel. They take for granted that Daniel’s ‘one like a son of man’ is a heavenly individual of very exalted status. While they offer no reason to think that this figure was known independently of Daniel, they show how the Danielic text inspired visions of a heavenly savior figure in first century Judaism.” (Ibid., p. 182; bold emphasis mine)

Collins also states that, according to Enoch and 4 Ezra, the Messiah is, 

“… a preexistent, transcendent figure, whom the Most High has been keeping for many ages.” (Ibid., p. 186)

THE LATE JEWISH SCHOLAR JACOB NEUSNER ON JUDAISM’S ACKNOWLEDGING THE MESSIAH AS A GOD-MAN

“We focus upon how the system laid out in the Mishnah takes up and disposes of those critical issues of teleology worked out through messianic eschatology in other, earlier versions of Judaism. These earlier systems resorted to the myth of the Messiah as savior and redeemer of Israel, a supernatural figure engaged in political-historical tasks as king of the Jews, even a God-man facing the crucial historical questions of Israel’s life and resolving them: the Christ as king of the world, of the ages, of death itself.” (Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era, edited by Jacob Neusner, William Scott Green & Ernest S. Frerichs [Cambridge University Press, 1987], p. 275; bold emphasis mine)

PESIQTA RABBATI

Hosha‘ya said: “In the future Jerusalem will be a lantern for the nations of the world, and they will walk in her light….”

In Thy light do we see light (Ps. 36:10). This is the light of the Messiah, as it is written, And God saw the light that it was good (Gen. 1:4). This teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be He, saw the generation of the Messiah and its deeds prior to the creation of the world. And He hid the light for the Messiah and his generation under His Throne of Glory.

Satan said before the Holy One, blessed be He: “Master of the World! The light which is hidden under Your Throne of Glory, for whom is it [destined]?” He said to him: “For him who will turn you back and disgrace you, and shame your face.” He said to him: “Master of the world! Show him to me!” He said to him: “Come and see him!” When Satan SAW THE MESSIAH, he trembled and fell upon his face and said: “Surely this is the Messiah who in the future will cast me and all the princes of the nations of the world into Gehenna….”

In that hour the nations became awestruck and said before him: “Master of the World! Who is he into whose hand we shall fall, what is his name and what is his nature?” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them: “His name is Ephraim, My True Messiah. He will raise his stature and the stature of his generation, and will light up the eyes of Israel, and will save his people, and no nation and language shall be able to stand up against him…. All his enemies and adversaries will be affrighted and will flee from him… and even the rivers will cease to flow into the sea….”

[When He created the Messiah], the Holy One, blessed be He, began to tell him the conditions [of his future mission], and said to him: “Those who are hidden with you [your generation], their sins will in the future force you into an iron yoke, and they will render you like unto a calf whose eyes have grown dim, and they will choke your spirit with the yoke, and because of their sins your tongue will cleave to the roof of your mouth. Do you accept this?

The Messiah said before the Holy One, blessed be He, “Master of the World! Will that suffering last many years?” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: “By your life and the life of my head, it is a septenary of it that I decreed upon you. But if your soul is troubled, I shall banish them as from this moment.”

He said before Him: “Master of the Worlds! With gladness in my soul and with joy in my heart I accept it, so that not a single one of Israel should perish; and not only those who will be alive should be saved in my days, but even the dead who have died from the days of Adam the first man until now. And not only they, but even the stillborn should be saved in my days; and not only the stillborn, but even those to whose creation You gave thought but who were not created. This is what I want, this is what I accept!” (Pes. Rab. pp. 161a-b)

They said: In the septenary in which the Son of David comes they will bring iron beams and put them upon his neck until his body bends and he cries and weeps, and his voice rise up into the Heights, and he says before Him: “Master of the World! How much can my strength suffer? How much my spirit? How much my soul? And how much my limbs? Am I not but flesh and blood?…”

In that hour the Holy One, blessed be He, says to him: “Ephraim, My True Messiah, you have already accepted [this suffering] from the six days of creation. Now your suffering shall be like My suffering. For ever since the day on which wicked Nebuchadnezzar came up and destroyed My Temple and burnt My sanctuary, and I exiled My children among the nations of the world, by your life and the life of your head, I have not sat on My Throne. And if you do not believe me, see the dew that is upon My head….”

In that hour he says before Him: “Master of the World! Now my mind is at rest, for it is sufficient for the servant to be like his Master!” (Pes. Rab. pp. 162a) (Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts: Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years [Wayne State University Press, Detroit, MI 1979], 12. The Suffering Messiah, pp. 111-113; bold emphasis mine)

Here is what the Jewish scholar Rivka Ulmer says in regards to the Messiah’s preexistence in the Pesiqta:

The hidden Jewish Messiah relates to A PREEXISTENT HEAVENLY BEING, resplendent, majestic, sitting on the Throne of Glory. Similarly, the Christian description of Jesus, occasionally referred to as the “Word” (John 1:14), claims the Christian Messiah was with God at the beginning of creation. The concept of the hidden Messiah continues in mystical midrashic literature, such as Midrash Konen, depicted a concealed Messiah residing in the Garden of Eden.53 (Ulmer, “The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation,” in The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation, edited by Zev Garber [Purdue University Press, West Lafayette, Indiana 2011], pp. 120 https://books.google.com/books?id=KtCWV590B5kC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Ulmer concludes:

A Psalm of suffering (Psalm 22) is applied to the Messiah Ephraim in Pesiqta Rabbati and a narrative of salvation is created. The explication of biblical lemmata as narrative is a hermeneutic approach of some midrashic texts; this is often the case in homiletic works that create a narrative for the listeners. Pesiqta Rabbati contains the rabbinic crystallization of creating a descriptive narrative of a Jewish Messiah through Psalm 22 and its metaphor of distress. Allusions to this Psalm are deeply embedded in the Pesiqta Rabbati narrative. This narrative is part of a hagiography;60 slightly resembling other narratives of martyrs in rabbinic texts. Additionally, the messianic narrative is somewhat similar in construction to the Jesus narrative in the Gospels and the extra-testamental writings of the Church Fathers. Pesiqta Rabbati applies Psalm 22 to support the concept of Messiah Ephraim’s suffering for humanity; in the New Testament, lemmata from this Psalm are applied to the Passion.61 The Psalm provides biblical language and the dramatic script for the description of suffering for the Jewish and Christian Messiah. In Pesiqta Rabbati a remarkable interpretation emerges: the Messiah suffers for the sins of Israel and of the world; God makes an agreement with the Messiah to be afflicted for the sake of the sinners.

After a period of suffering, followed by his humiliation and the final eschatological battle, the Messiah is involved in the Final Judgment and the resurrection of the righteous. Other rabbinic texts interpret lemmata in order to combine Psalm 22 and the Aqedah, the Sacrifice of Isaac. (Ibid., p. 123; bold and underline emphasis ours)

  1. The text has “ben David,” although it continues with Messiah Ephraim. This may indicate the conflation of messianic ideas in Pesiqta Rabbati; alternatively, it may be due to one of the numerous scribal errors in the Parma manuscript.
  2. In Rev. 19:15 the messianic figure returns to rule with “an iron rod;” this term is symbolic of power. Pesiqta Rabbati applies the term to the power of the government. In Psalms of Solomon the messianic figure is a king in the image of David (Ps. Sol 17:21); he will smash the gentile oppressors of Jerusalem with an iron rod…
  3. “The fifth chamber: [this is where] Messiah ben David, Elijah and the Messiah Ephraim dwell. Elijah holds his head and allows it to rest on his chest. He encourages him and says to him: Bear the torment and judgment of your Lord while He punishes you for the sin of Israel, for Scripture says: He is pierced for our rebellions, crushed for our transgressions (Isa. 53:5)until the time when the end arrives. Every Monday, Thursday, Shabbat, and festival day the ancient Patriarchs, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, the entire royal line, the prophets and the pious ones come to greet him [the Messiah] and to weep together with him. They express gratitude to him and say to him: Bear the judgment of your Lord, for the end has almost arrived, and the chains which are on your neck will be broken off and you will go forth in freedom.” Jellinek, BHM, 2:29.20-33 (trans. Rivka Ulmer), similar in 2:50.5-9. Here Isa. 53:5 is applied to the Jewish Messiah…
  4. See Yalqut Shim’oni, Isaiah 56: “This is the light of the Messiah, as it is written in Psalm (36:10): In Your light, we see light.” (Ibid, pp. 127-128; bold emphasis mine)

Here is Ulmer’s translation of the relevant parts of the Pesiqta:

Pesiqta Rabbati 36:4

[God] began to talk about the terms with [Ephraim], saying to him: In the future the sins of those who have been hidden with you will bring you under an iron yoke. They make you like a calf whose eyes grow dim; and they will choke your spirit with [your] yoke; and because of their sins your tongue will stick to the roof of your mouth (Ps. 22:16) Are you willing [to endure] this?

The Messiah said in [God’s presence] Presence: Will this suffering [last] for many years?

The Holy One said to him: By your life and the life of My head! I have decreed for you a week [seven years]. If your soul is saddened, I will immediately banish them [the sinful souls hidden with you].

[The Messiah] said in His presence: Master of the universe, I will take this upon myself with a joyful soul and a glad heart, provided that not one [person] in Israel perish’ [that] not only those who are alive should be saved in my days, but that also those who are dead, who have died since [the days] of the first human being up until now should be saved [at the time of salvation] in my days {ed. pr.: but also the aborted ones};40 [including] those who You thought to create, but who were not created. Such [are the things] I desire, and for this I am ready to take [all this] upon myself. {ed. pr.: At the same time, the Holy One blessed be He, will appoint for the Messiah the four creatures who will carry the Messiah’s throne of glory.}…

Pesiqta Rabbati 36:6

During the week [seven year period] when [Ephraim]43 comes, they will bring iron beams44and they will put them on his neck until the Messiah’s body is bent. He will scream and weep and his voice will rise up to the height [of heaven]. He will say in His presence: Master of the universe, how much can my limbs endure? How much my spirit? Am I not but flesh and blood? It was this moment that David lamented, saying: My strength is dried up like a potsherd (Ps. 22:16). In that hour the Holy One says to them {editor. pr.: him}: Ephraim, My righteous Messiah, You have already accepted [this suffering] since the six days of Creation. Now your suffering is like My suffering, since the day on which wicked Nebuchadnezzar destroyed My Temple and burnt My sanctuary, and exiled My children among the nations of the world, by your life and by the life of My head! I have not sat on My Throne. And if you do not believe, see the dew that is upon My head, My head is filled with dew, [My locks with the drops of the night] (Cant. 5:2). In that hour, [the Messiah] will say in His presence: Master of the universe, now my mind is at rest, for it is sufficient for the servant to be like his Master. (Ulmer, pp. 116-118; bold emphasis mine)

And:

The earliest medieval rabbinic text that appears to cite this Pesiqta Rabbati material is found in Moshe of Narbonne (eleventh century), also referred to as Moshe Ha-Darshan (the preacher). He presents a dialogue in which the Messiah is asked by God, if he accepts his suffering:

Midrash Bereshit Rabbati, Gen. 1:3: Your eyes will not see light, but your ears will hear the great reprimand of the nations of the world… your tongue will cleave to the roof of your mouth [Ps. 22:16], your skin will stick to your bones [Ps. 22:18], and your body will be worn out from distress and moaning. (Ibid., p. 118; bold emphasis mine)

Again:

Pesiqta Rabbati 37:2: This teaches that in the future, in the month of Nisan, the Fathers of the World [Patriarchs] will rise and say to him: Ephraim, our righteous [true] Messiah, even though we are your fathers, you are greater than we are, because you suffered [for] the iniquities of our children and terrible ordeals came upon you, such as did not come upon earlier [generations] or later ones. For the sake of Israel you [experienced] anguish, derision, and mockery among the nations of the world [Ps. 22:7-8]You sat in darkness(Micah 7:8) and gloominess, and your eyes saw no light, and your skin cleaved to your bones [Ps. 22:18], and your body was as dry as a piece of wood; and your eyes did not see light, and your skin shriveled on your bones (Lam. 4:8) [Ps. 22:18], and your body was dried up like wood and your eyes grew dim from fasting–your strength is dried up like a potsherd (Ps. 22:16)–all these [afflictions happened] on account of the iniquities of our children. It is your will [to benefit] your children through that goodness, which the Holy One will bestow upon Israel. It may be because of the utmost anguish, which you did suffer on their account in prison, that your mind is displeased with them. He said to them: Fathers of the World, all that I have done I have done only for your sake and for the sake of your children and for your honor and the honor of your children that they will benefit from the goodness which the Holy One will bestow upon Israel. They said: Ephraim, our righteous Messiah, may your mind be at rest, since you put to rest the mind of your Creator and our minds.

Pesiqta Rabbati 37:3: R. Simeon b. Pazzi57 said: In that hour the Holy One will raise the Messiah up to the heaven of heavens, and will shroud him in [something] of His splendor because of the nations of the world, because of the wicked Persians.. He [God] said to him: Ephraim, My true Messiah, be the judge of these and do with them as your soul desires, for the nations would long have been destroyed by you in an instant had not My mercies been exceedingly mighty on your behalf, as it is said: Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a darling child? [For whenever I speak of him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore My inward parts are troubled for him; in mercy I will have mercy upon him, says the Lord] (Jer. 31:20).

Pesiqta Rabbati 37:4: [Why does the verse mention] twice mercy: In mercy I will have mercy upon him (Jer. 31:20)? One mercy refers to the hour when he is in prison, since the nations of the world will gnash their teeth, wink their eyes, nod their heads, open their lips, as is said: All those who see me mock me; they move the lip, they shake their head (Ps. 22:8); {ed. pr.: My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you lay me down in the dust of death (Ps. 22:16)} They roar at him like lions and fancy devouring him [Ps. 22:14], as it is said: All our enemies have opened their mouths against us(Lam. 3:46). {ed. pr.: A predatory and roaring lion (Ezek. 22:25) I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels (Ps. 22:15). And they roar at him like lions and fancy devouring him [Ps. 22:14], as it is said, All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. Fear and the pit have come upon us, desolation and destruction (Lam. 3:46-47)}. In mercy will I have mercy upon him(Jer. 31:20)–[referring to] the hour when he [Ephraim] leaves the prison, since the nations of the world will despise him. There is not one kingdom or two or three kingdoms of the world that will come upon him, but one hundred and forty kingdoms will encompass him. The Holy One will say to him: Ephraim, Messiah of my righteousness do not be afraid of them, because all of them will die from the breath of your mouth, as it is said: and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked (Isa. 11:4).58 (Ibid., pp. 121-122; bold emphasis mine)

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