I have recognized that for some odd reason Christians usually hesitate to write material on Jews, possibly in fear of offending them. Nevertheless, God has burdened me to write this and a few spiritual attacks from the enemy has delayed me from doing so. If you are Jewish and reading this, please do not think that I write this out of hate, I only do this out of love and my desire to expose the truth. Ever since I was a child, I asked myself the question why do Jews reject Jesus – I have done my research – but I find the reasons for doing so are severely lacking in my opinion, so in this article I will provide the first of several undeniable pieces of evidence which proves that Jesus is the Messiah.
What I am about to share with you is perhaps one of the most powerful proofs that Jesus is in fact the Messiah, a proof which many Jews may have never even heard. In the Book of Genesis chapter 49, we read about Jacob blessing each of his sons – most Jews are familiar with this story, some Christians are not. When Jacob arrived at the blessing for Judah he made this remark which also turns out to be an amazing prophecy (Genesis 49:1):
Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.
Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:
From Genesis 49:10 we learn that two things were to occur immediately after the arrival of the Messiah or Shiloh:
1) The Departure of the scepter of Judah or its identity: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah…”
2) The Suppression of Judicial Power: “…nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.”
First of all, the “sceptre” that we see in the prophecy, according to the Rabbis, was a “tribal staff” or “tribal identity,” this granted the Jews the power to render justice on those who broke the Mosaic Law and exact capital punishment on the guilty or “jus gladii” – a legal term which simply means “to seek the death punishment for a crime.” As such, this prophecy actually gives us a time limit for the arrival of the Messiah, so the Messiah would only arrive just before the Jews lost this special authority. Please keep in mind that this prophecy also eliminates anyone else from claiming to be the Messiah after these two above requirements have been satisfied.
From 606-537 B.C., Judah was made captive by the Babylonians for 70 years, which is commonly known as the Babylonian captivity. Judah had lost their national sovereignty but had retained its identity as a judge that can demand punishment (McDowell, 1979), this is confirmed within the Book of Ezra, where we learn that they had judges and individuals in place to uphold the law (Ezra 7:25, 26). Even while under the oppression of the Medo-Persians, Greeks and Roman Empire for the next 500 centuries, Judah had never lost its identity.
It was only until the very first quarter of the 1st century A.D., that something interesting happened – and I am not even referring to Jesus! Josephus, a 1st century Jewish historian, tells us in chapter 13 of his book “Antiquities of the Jews XVII” and within “The Jewish War,” that around the year 6 A.D. or 7 A.D., the son of king Herod, Herod Archelaus, was dethroned and exiled to Vienna, a city of Gaul. Herod Archelaus was then quickly replaced by a Roman Procurator named Caponius by Caesar Augustus.
I am sure that a Jew reading this would tell me, “Genesis 49:10 was not directed to the Messiah, and that this interpretation is one of many misinterpretations of scripture made by Christians,” – I must say that this is not only my opinion, but it is that of many Ancient Rabbis and trusted Hebrew literature. Within the Targum Yerushalmi, a well respected Hebrew translation and commentary on the Torah, we see this same interpretation of this verse,
“Kings shall not cease from the house of Judah…until the time of the coming of the King Messiah…to whom all the dominions of the earth shall become subservient.” – pg. 8 of Levy (1974)
With respect to the above quote, Herod Archelaus and his father, Herod the Great, were nominal Jews. Herod the Great, in particular was named “King of the Jews” by Augustus, therefore both son and father were the last Jewish kings before leadership was handed over to the Gentiles (Richardson, 1999). Within the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b, Rabbi Johanan said,
“The world was created…for the sake of the Messiah, what is this Messiah’s name? The school of Rabbi Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until Shiloh come.'”
As such we see that the first requirement was indeed satisfied, but what about the second requirement? Is there any confirmation that Jews did indeed lose the power to uphold the law and serve capital punishment? Yes, according to Levy (1974), with this change in leadership the right to take the life of a law-breaker was stripped from the Sanhedrin and given to Rome. This was the custom of Rome whenever it seized absolute control as Tacitus, a Roman historian, once said, “The Romans reserved to themselves the right of the sword, and neglected all else (McDowell, 1979).” Even the Jerusalem Talmud confirms that this indeed happened:
“A little more than forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the power of pronouncing capital sentences was taken away from the Jews.” – Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin, folio 24
The following source is also quite telling, we find it within chapter 9 of Josephus’ book, Antiquities of the Jews Book XX,
“After the death of the procurator Festus, when Albinus was about to succeed him , the high priest Ananias considered it a favorable opportunity to assembly the Sanhedrin. He therefore caused James the Brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, and several others, to appear before this hastily assembled council, and pronounced upon them the sentence of death by stoning. All the wise men and strict observers of the law who were at Jerusalem expressed their disapprobation of this act…Some even went to Albinus himself, who had departed to Alexandria, to bring this breach of the law under his observation, and to inform him that Ananius had acted illegally in assembling the Sanhedrin without the Roman authority.”
This passage above not only gives us a clear confirmation that the Jews had lost the power to exact punishment but it even goes further to confirm that Jesus and James, His half-brother, were genuine historical figures! James was recorded to have been killed no later than 69 A.D. so this at least limits the departure of judicial power to no time after than that date. Of course, the informed Christian and Jew may know that the Bible actually provides additional confirmation for the quote from the Jerusalem Talmud, that the judicial power to serve capital punishment had already departed just before Jesus’ trial. We all know that the Jews needed to go to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, in order to get permission to execute Jesus for his “blasphemies” as the gospels tells us (John 10:30-33):
Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?
They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:
In spite of all this, one of the most significant parts of this prophecy was the events that unfolded once the Jewish leadership recognized that the scepter had departed and the Messiah did not appear to have arrived. It was such a sorrowful affair that was recorded in Chapter 4, folio 37 of the Babylonian Talmund and by Augustin Lemann in his book, “Jesus Before the Sanhedrin,” which reports a comment made by Rabbi Rachmon:
“When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them: they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: ‘Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come.'”
Little did the Jewish leaders know that while they were mourning on the streets of Jerusalem, that the Messiah was already a young man growing up in a carpenter’s shop in Nazareth by the name of Jesus. What is the conclusion here? Jesus must have been the Messiah without a shadow of doubt! The prophecy of Genesis 29:10 is remarkably specific and limits the Messiah’s arrival to just before the departure of the scepter of Judah and the Jewish power to set capital punishment – so specific that anyone who will claim or has claimed to be Messiah after these events would instantly fail this particular prophecy. I would imagine that Jews who still dare to reject Jesus, in spite of this article, would be quite open to the idea that God’s Law can become null or that His word can become void a false accusation which Jews often brand Biblical Christianity with. Please remember to take a look at the video which opens this article, because it powerfully explores the relationship between Judaism, Christianity and the Messiah:
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Isaiah 55:10, 11
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
n.d. Babylonian Talmud. Sanhedrin 98b.
Eastman, Mark, and Chuck Missler. 1995. The Creator Beyond Time and Space. Costa Mesa, California: Word for Today.
Flavius, Josephus. 93–94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews Book – XX.
n.d. Jerusalem Talmud folio 24. Sanhedrin .
Josephus, Flavius. 93-94 A.D. Antiquities of the Jews – Book XVII. Chapter 13.
—. 75 A.D. The Jewish War Book 2. Chapter 8.
Lemann, Augustin. 1886. Jesus before the Sanhedrin. (Translated by Julius Magath).
Levy, Samson H. 1974. The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation: The Messianic Exegesis of the Targum. pg. 2, Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion.
McDowell, Josh. 1979. In Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell, 168. San Bernadino, California: Here’s Life Publishers.
Richardson, Peter. 1999. Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.