Contradictions of Prophecies Daniel 7 and Zechariah 9

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Daniel 7 says the Mashiach comes in the clouds and wreaks havoc; Zechariah 9 verse 9 says he comes riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Sounds like the Messiah comes twice.

There is a lesson within the Talmud about this contradiction.

Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 98a 

Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. it is written, in its time [will the Messiah come], whilst it is also written, I [the Lord] will hasten it!33 — if they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time. R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven34 whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee . . . ] lowly, and riding upon an ass!35 — if they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven;36 if not, lowly and riding upon an ass. King Shapur [I] said to Samuel, ‘Ye maintain that the Messiah will come upon an ass: I will rather send him a white horse of mine.’37 He replied, ‘Have you a hundred-hued steed?’38

In order to understand this passage in the Talmud, we need to understand who Mashiach is and where he fits into Rabbinic/Biblical eschatology.

To get to this we need to find out three things:
1. What does the Tanakh say about who is ‘Mashiach’?
2. What do the Rabbis mean by ‘Mashiach’?
3. Where do the Rabbis get their idea of more then one Mashiach

To understand this we need to look at some of the ‘end-times’ prophecies of the Tanakh. While much of the arguments with missionaries deal with passages that are unclear as to when or to whom they apply, there are passages in the Tanakh that announce that they are dealing with a specific period called ‘the end of days’. Some of them mention particular characters that seem to have a role to play in this future period:

One of the most well known passages that is explicit about being an end-times prophecy is Isaiah 2:2-4. Verse 4 is one of the most well known verses in the Tanakh.

Yeshayahu- Isaiah - Chapter 2
1. The word that Isaiah, son of Amoz, prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

2. And it shall be at the end of the days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be firmly established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall stream to it.

3. And many peoples shall go, and they shall say, "Come, let us go up to the Lord's mount, to the house of the God of Jacob, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths," for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.


4. And he shall judge between the nations and reprove many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

Here we see an announcement of the end of days with a few specifics of that time. These issues mentioned will help us to find more passages dealing with this time period. Let’s see what will happen then:

1. People will gather in Jerusalem to worship HaShem (verse 2-3)

2. War will end (verse 4)

3. The nations will be judged (verse 4)

In Isaiah 11 we see an expansion of these themes. Just as above we have: people gathering in Jerusalem in verse12, the end of war in verse 6-8, and the judgment of nations in 2-5.

Yeshayahu - Isaiah - Chapter 11

1 And a shoot shall spring forth from the stem of Jesse, and a twig shall sprout from his roots.

2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and heroism, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.

3 And he shall be animated by the fear of the Lord, and neither with the sight of his eyes shall he judge, nor with the hearing of his ears shall he chastise.

4 And he shall judge the poor justly, and he shall chastise with equity the humble of the earth, and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips he shall put the wicked to death.

5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faith the girdle of his loins.

6 And a wolf shall live with a lamb, and a leopard shall lie with a kid; and a calf and a lion cub and a fatling [shall lie] together, and a small child shall lead them.

7 And a cow and a bear shall graze together, their children shall lie; and a lion, like cattle, shall eat straw.

8 And an infant shall play over the hole of an old snake and over the eyeball of an adder, a weaned child shall stretch forth his hand.

9 They shall neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mount, for the land shall be full of knowledge of the Lord as water covers the sea bed.

10 And it shall come to pass on that day, that the root of Jesse, which stands as a banner for peoples, to him shall the nations inquire, and his peace shall be [with] honor.

11 And it shall come to pass that on that day, the Lord shall continue to apply His hand a second time to acquire the rest of His people, that will remain from Assyria and from Egypt and from Pathros and from Cush and from Elam and from Sumeria and from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.

12 And He shall raise a banner to the nations, and He shall gather the lost of Israel, and the scattered ones of Judah He shall gather from the four corners of the earth.

13 And the envy of Ephraim shall cease, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, nor shall Judah vex Ephraim.

14 And they shall fly of one accord against the Philistines in the west, together they shall plunder the children of the East; upon Edom and Moab shall they stretch forth their hand, and the children of Ammon shall obey them.

15 And the Lord shall dry up the tongue of the Egyptian Sea, and He shall lift His hand over the river with the strength of His wind, and He shall beat it into seven streams, and He shall lead [the exiles] with shoes.

16 And there shall be a highway for the remnant of His people who remain from Assyria, as there was for Israel on the day they went up from the land of Egypt.

Besides the repetition of what is in Isaiah 2, this passage adds a few new points that add to our picture of the end-times:

1. There will be a leader, from the tribe of Judah who will also be the judge. (1 and 10)

2. Ephraim (the Northern kingdom of Israel) and Judah (the Southern Kingdom) will no longer contend with each other. (13)

3. The Jewish people will be gathered from exile. (12, 16)

In Ezekiel 37 we find more about this reconciliation of Judah and Ephraim, with some more information about this ingathering period:

Yechezkel - Ezekiel - Chapter 37

15 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying:

16 "And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write upon it, 'For Judah and for the children of Israel his companions'; and take one stick and write upon it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.'

17 And bring them close, one to the other into one stick, and they shall be one in your hand.

18 And when the children of your people say to you, saying, 'Will you not tell us what these are to you?'

19 Say to them, So says the Lord God: Behold I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim and the tribes of Israel his companions, and I will place them with him with the stick of Judah, and I will make them into one stick, and they shall become one in My hand.

20  And the sticks upon which you shall write shall be in your hand before their eyes.

21 And say to them, So says the Lord God: Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side, and I will bring them to their land.

22 And I will make them into one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be to them all as a king; and they shall no longer be two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms anymore.

23 And they shall no longer defile themselves with their idols, with their detestable things, or with all their transgressions, and I will save them from all their habitations in which they have sinned, and I will purify them, and they shall be to Me as a people, and I will be to them as a God.

24 And My servant David shall be king over them, and one shepherd shall be for them all, and they shall walk in My ordinances and observe My statutes and perform them.

25 And they shall dwell on the land that I have given to My servant, to Jacob, wherein your forefathers lived; and they shall dwell upon it, they and their children and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.

26 And I will form a covenant of peace for them, an everlasting covenant shall be with them; and I will establish them and I will multiply them, and I will place My Sanctuary in their midst forever.

27 And My dwelling place shall be over them, and I will be to them for a God, and they shall be to Me as a people.

28 And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, Who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever."

In addition to the same old themes, we see the following new ones added to our picture of the end times:

 1. Ephraim and Judah will be joined together with Judah as the lead. (16-19)

 2. This leader will be David’s descendant. He is called the king, prince and leader of that time. (24-25)

 3.  There will be a sanctuary (temple). (28)

What is interesting about this passage in Ezekiel is that Ephraim and Judah are on the same level, but that Judah would lead. This indicates that both Ephraim and Judah would have leaders. But the one from Judah (i.e. the Davidic one) would be the sole leader.

What happens to the leader of Ephraim?

Chapters 40 through 48 we see more information about that Temple and another important figure in that time. There we learn about the priesthood, and Chapter 44:27 refers to a single priest.

Yechezkel - Ezekiel - Chapter 44

27 And on the day that he enters the Sanctuary, into the Inner Court, to minister in the Sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering, says the Lord God.

The final end-times prophecy we will look at is Malachi 3, which adds another piece of information.

Malachi - Chapter 3

23 Lo, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord,

24 that he may turn the heart of the fathers back through the children, and the heart of the children back through their fathers-lest I come and smite the earth with utter destruction.

Summary of the end-times prophecies

To summarize what we have seen in the end-times prophecies: There will be a Davidic king/leader, a Priest, and the prophet Elijah.

Zechariah - Chapter 2

1 And I lifted my eyes, and I saw-and behold!-four horns.

2 And I said to the angel who was speaking to me, "What are these?" And he said to me, "These are the horns that scattered Judah and Israel and Jerusalem."

3 And the Lord showed me four craftsmen.

4 And I said, "What are these coming to do?" And he said, saying, "These are the horns that scattered Judah to the extent that no man raised his head. And these came to cause them to quake, to cast away the horns of the nations that bear a horn against the land of Judah, to scatter it."

5 And I lifted my eyes, and I saw-and behold!-a man with a measuring line in his hand.

6 And I said, "Where are you going?" And he said to me, "To measure Jerusalem, to see how much is its breadth and how much [is] its length."

7 And behold, the angel who was speaking with me was coming forth, and another angel was coming forth toward him.

8 And he said to him, "Run, speak to this young man, saying: 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited like unwalled towns, because of the multitude of men and cattle therein.' "

9 But I will be for it-says the Lord-a wall of fire around, and for glory I will be in its midst.

10 Ho, ho! Flee from the land of the north, says the Lord; for I have spread you as the four corners of the heavens, says the Lord.

11 Ho, Zion! Flee, she who sits among the nation of Babylon.

12 For so said the Lord of Hosts: After glory, He sent me to the nations that plunder you, for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.

13 For, behold! I raise My hand over them, and they shall be prey for those who serve them. And you shall know that the Lord of Hosts sent me.

14 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for, behold! I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord.

15 And many nations shall join the Lord on that day, and they shall be My people; and I will dwell in your midst and you shall know that the Lord of Hosts sent me to you.

16 And the Lord shall inherit Judah as His share on the Holy Land, and He shall again choose Jerusalem.

17 Silence all flesh from before the Lord, for He is aroused out of His holy habitation. 

These verses seem to be talking about the end times. Jerusalem is filled again with people (8) and verse 10 indicates the ingathering which we have seen the Tanakh places in the end-times. But look at 1-4; we see that there are 4 horns, which represent the enemies of the Jewish people, who sent them into exile. Opposed to them are four craftsmen, who cut them down. These four seem to be important figures in the end-times. Who are they?

Talmud - Mas. Sukkah 52b

And the Lord showed me four craftsmen.34 Who are these ‘four craftsmen’? — R. Hana b. Bizna citing R. Simeon Hasida replied: The Messiah the son of David, the Messiah the son of Joseph, Elijah and the Righteous Priest.35 R. Shesheth objected,36 If so, was it correct to write, These37 are the horns which scattered Judah,38 seeing that they came to turn [them] back?39 — The other answered him, Go to the end of the verse: These then are come to frighten them, to cast down the horns of the nations, which lifted up their horns against the Land of Judah, to scatter it 40 etc. Why, said R. Shesheth to him, should I argue with Hana in Aggada?41

And this shall be peace: when the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise up against him seven shepherds and eight princes among men.42

Who are the ‘seven shepherds’? — David in the middle, Adam, Seth and Methuselah43 on his right, and Abraham, Jacob and Moses44 on his left. And who are the ‘eight princes among men’? — Jesse, Saul, Samuel, Amos, Zephaniah, Zedekiah, the Messiah, and Elijah.45

So what is the job of this fourth person? One hint is in the prophet Ovadiah:

17 And on Mount Zion there shall be a remnant, and it shall be holy, and the house of Jacob shall inherit those who inherited them.

18 And the house of Jacob shall be fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau shall become stubble, and they shall ignite them and consume them, and the house of Esau shall have no survivors, for the Lord has spoken.

19 And [the inhabitants of] the southland shall inherit the mountain of Esau, and [the inhabitants of] the plain, the Philistines, and they shall inherit the field of Ephraim and the field of Samaria, and Benjamin [with the inhabitants of] Gilead.

20 And this exiled host of the children of Israel who are [with] the Canaanites as far as Zarephath and the exile of Jerusalem which is in Sepharad shall inherit the cities of the southland.

21 And saviors shall ascend Mt. Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the Lord shall have the kingdom.

We see, from verse 18, that the House of Joseph (including its leader) has a military role in the end-times drama. Verse 21 indicates that this is a joint effort. From this we see that the time when the Messiah the son of Joseph comes ends with a period of peace. This would indicate the period we have seen above when there is world peace, a renewal of the Davidic kingdom, etc. Let me summarize the Rabbinic writings with regards to Messiah the son of Joseph:

There will be a period of about seven years of terrible famines and other troubles. The land of Israel will at that time be under Non-Jewish control, and a leader of the tribe of Ephraim, will arise to lead militarily against these nations who control Jerusalem. He will be successful, but after his initial victory he will die in battle. This will cause a great mourning and many will lose faith. At that time (still within the seven years) the Messiah the son of David will be revealed, he shall finish the battle. After which, he will resurrect all the dead, starting with the Messiah the son of Joseph. Both of them will go up to Mount Zion to fulfill the prophecy in Ovadiah verse 21: "And the saviors (plural - both Messiahs) shall go up onto Mount Tzion and judge Mount Esav, and the kingdom will be for Hashem." There is the fulfillment of ALL the major prophesies like an end to war and a world at peace with the Jewish people in a restored Jerusalem with the third Temple.

 

Midrashic consensus regarding Messiah the son of Joseph and Moshiach ben David

The following points summarize this issue and are agreed to in all the Midrashim that deal with the Messiah the son of Joseph and the Moshiach ben Dovid.

1. They are two different people from two different tribal families.

2. They live at the same time.

3. Messiah the son of Joseph never takes the throne nor is he entitled to.

4. Messiah the son of Joseph is a warrior (Moshiach ben Dovid would also appear to be)

5. Messiah the son of Joseph will be killed in BATTLE[^15] and will be the first to be raised from the dead by Moshiach ben Dovid.

6. The period of time from when Messiah the son of Joseph first comes into prominence until he is resurrected after the Moshiach ben Dovid comes to his throne is very short, the longest period is under two years.

7. The basic chronology of events is that there is a seven-year period. It starts with continually problems, it starts to improve and then in the sixth year it gets worse again. In the seventh year there are great wars in which the Messiah the son of Joseph is first successful and then he is killed in that later part of the year. Many Jewish people will become depressed and fall away. At the end of the seven years Moshiach ben Dovid comes and finishes the job and there comes the resurrection of the dead.

Need to Address Aspects of Messiah the son of Joseph within Rabbinic Literature

There is one more aspect with regards to Messiah the son of Joseph that appears in Rabbinic literature that we need to address, and then we can return to the passage in the Talmud. In the work, Emunah V’Deos by Rabbi Saadiah Gaon, after a discussion of the end-times he makes the following comment:

If we do not repent, the events of Ben Joseph will come to pass. But if we repent, they will not, and Messiah ben David will appear to us suddenly.

To understand this issue and how it could be, we need to understand something simple about Biblical prophecy. People usually think (based on Deuteronomy 18) that a false prophet says something will occur and it does not. Here is what appears in Deuteronomy 18:

21 Now if you say to yourself, "How will we know the word that the Lord did not speak?"

22 If the prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, and the thing does not occur and does not come about, that is the thing the Lord did not speak. The prophet has spoken it wantonly; you shall not be afraid of him.

But there is a problem. Let’s look at the book of Jonah. In chapter 1 we see that Jonah is commanded by G-d to bring a message:

 1.NOW THE WORD of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying:

 2.‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me.

In chapter 3 we see the message:

 1. And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying:

 2. ‘Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and make unto it the proclamation that I bid thee.’

 3. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city, of three days’ journey.

 4. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he proclaimed, and said: ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.’

So the message of Jonah was that Ninevah had only 40 days left. But that is not what happened:

 5. And the people of Nineveh believed G-d; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

 6. And the tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

 7. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying: ‘Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing; let them not feed, nor drink water;

 8. but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and beast, and let them cry mightily unto G-d; yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

 9. Who knoweth whether G-d will not turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?’ 10. And G-d saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and G-d repented of the evil, which He said He would do unto them; and He did it not.

So is Jonah a false prophet??? What he said did not come to pass. The key is verse 10: When G-d sees that people repent; there is no need for the bad decree. With every prophecy of doom, there is an understood condition: If you repent then it is not going to happen. This principle is explicit in the Tenach. We read in Jeremiah 28:

 7. Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people:

 8. The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence.

 9. The prophet that prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.’

Here we see that although many prophecies of disaster have been sent it is only those prophecies of peace that must occur. Only through a positive philosophy can they know a true prophet. For that reason Jonah was NOT a false prophet. His prophecy of disaster had an understood condition that, IF they repent, then it will not have to come, but if not then it will. ONLY if he had predicted that there would be a peaceful result, then its non-occurrence would be a sign of his being a false prophet. From this we see that there can be two possibilities for the end-times. One will occur if they repent and the other if they do not. That is what Rabbi Saadiah Gaon was referring to.

With this we can return to the passage from the Rabbis quoted at the beginning. This passage refers to the principle we have just stated, and is a reference to The Messiah the son of David, and the two ways in which HE can come! Before this above passage[^18] we find the following passage:

Rabbi Eliezer said, ‘If Israel repents they will be redeemed, and if not they will not be.” Rabbi Yehoshua said to him, “If they don’t repent they will not be redeemed? But the Holy One Blessed is He will raise up for them a King who will make decrees over them like Haman and they will repent and return to the good.”

As Rabbi Saadiah Gaon points out[^19] this teaching refers to the wars and disasters that would occur before the coming of Joseph. But if they do repent then there is no need for all of that. If we look at the Tanakh we see two types of prophecies dealing with the end-times period. One tells of wars, like Ezekiel 38 and Zechariah 12. But others are silent, mentioning neither war, nor any other series of events. Based on the Biblical principle we saw from the books of Jonah and Jeremiah, we see that G-d’s message of war is a conditional one that can be mitigated by repentance. This is the message of the Talmud. Let’s see the passages in context. First Daniel 7:

13. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the Ancient of days, and he was brought near before Him.

14. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Here we see the end-times, but in a miraculous way. But in Zechariah 9, the same results are given in another format:

9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto thee, he is triumphant, and victorious, lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass.

10. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace unto the nations; and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Here the results are the same, but the protagonist is described as coming in a more humbling manner. Bringing all these Biblical verses and principles we now have the teaching of the Rabbis:

Rabbi Alexandri said Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi opposed two verses. One verse says, ‘with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man came.’ In another verse it says, ‘lowly and riding on an ass.’ If they merit ‘with the clouds of heaven’ if not ‘lowly and riding on an ass.’”

If the Jewish people will repent, then the horrible things described will not come and the end-times will be inaugurated in a wondrous way. If not, then there will be wars and humility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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