Some time ago I watched a Youtube video featuring a debate between Judaism and Christianity. It was a conversation between a local rabbi and a visiting Christian professor from a Bible school in New-York (most likely Protestant) that happened in Bet Gabriel. Last time I checked, this video was at:
You can watch it if you like. Here’s the gist of it. The Rabbi was trying to explain why contemporary Jews reject Jesus Christ, and asked challenging questions about the New Testament and the Christian faith. The Christian opponent tried his best to answer the questions. He succeeded in part. However, some questions were left unanswered or the answers were not specific enough.
The reasons why this happened are not so important. To put it in a nutshell, the Christian may not have been properly prepared. Getting involved in a debate without first acquiring sufficient knowledge of the subject was a brave but reckless thing to do. I do not know whether this discussion was continued or whether the rabbi got his answers, but I decided to answer him.
The questions of Yosef Mizrachi during the debate (I am giving a short version of them with a few slight modifications in wording which do not in the least affect the meaning) as well as my answers are given below.
Is Jesus a descendant of David?
Question: How can Jesus be a descendant of David if he is not the son of Joseph by birth?
Answer: This question has to do with the prophecy about the Messiah coming from the tribe of Judah: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [Peacemaker] come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen 49:10; compare 1 Kings 2:4; Ps 132:11).
According to the Gospels, Jesus was conceived by Mary through the Holy Spirit, and Joseph (from the tribe of Judah — David’s line) was not his father according to the flesh. Concerning Mary’s genealogy, the Holy Tradition teaches: her parents, Joachim and Anna, were from the tribes of Judah and Levi, respectively. The Gospel of Luke mentions Mary’s relative Elizabeth, who was “from the line of Aaron” (Lk 1:5, 36), that is from the tribe of Levi.
Mary’s relation to the tribe of Judah is further substantiated by the following considerations. When Ceasar Augustus announced a census “all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child” (Lk 2:3—5).
Mary, as the only daughter, was required by the Law to get married: “And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers. Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance” (Num 36:8—9). That is why Mary was engaged to Joseph who was also from the tribe of Judah.
At the time of the census, Mary wasn’t Joseph’s wife; they were “pledged to be married” [ἐμνηστευμένῃ αὐτῷ] (Lk 2:5). That’s why she had to show up for the census as the only heiress to her parents’ property.
So, Jesus, the son of Mary, was “from the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom 1:3).
Why do the Gospels contain two genealogies of Joseph?
Question: If Jesus was not the son of Joseph by birth, why do the Gospels mention his genealogy? And why are Joseph’s genealogies in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke different?
Answer: In his comments on the genealogy according to the Gospel of Matthew, Blessed Theophilact of Bulgaria writes: “Why does it give us the genealogy of Joseph, but not of the Blessed Virgin? What part did Joseph play in the Virgin Birth? Since Joseph was not Jesus’ birth father, we cannot trace the genealogy of Jesus from Joseph. But listen: It is true that Joseph played no part in the birth of Jesus; therefore, it was necessary to give the genealogy of Virgin Mary. However, since the Law did not allow for a person’s lineage to be traced through the mother [Num 36:6], Matthew did not mention the genealogy of the Holy Virgin. But after giving the genealogy of Joseph, he gives Mary’s genealogy also, and for the following reason: the Law forbade taking a wife from a different tribe, clan, or family — only from your own tribe and clan. Since such was the prescription of the Law, in giving the genealogy of Joseph it was fitting to give also the genealogy of the Holy Virgin. For she was from the same tribe and clan as he was. For if it was not so, how could she have been engaged to him? So, the Gospel writer, in recording Mary’s genealogy after Joseph’s, obeyed the Law which forbade tracing one’s lineage through the mother. He referred to him as the husband of Mary according to the common usage, for we have a tradition of calling a man engaged to be married as “husband” even before the actual marriage” (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Mt 1:16).
Eusebius of Cesarea wrote the following on the differences in the genealogies: “Because of inconsistencies in the genealogies of Jesus found in Matthew and Luke, there are many Christians who erroneously think of them as contradictory. Many are trying to come up with their own explanations without knowing the truth. Here is what we have learned about them from Aristid’s letter in which [Sextus Julius] Africanus, to whom we recently referred, writes about a way to reconcile the Gospel genealogies. Rejecting the opinions of the rest as erroneous and contrived, he tells a story of what he had heard in the following words:
“In Israel, the names of generations were reckoned either according to the flesh or according to the Law — according to the flesh, when there was a succession of lawful sons, and according to the Law, when a brother of a deceased man, who had died with no sons of his own, would give his child the name of his deceased brother [Deut 25:5—10]. There was no clear hope of resurrection at that time, and so the fulfilment of the future promise was connected to “fleshly” resurrection — so the name of the deceased man would never be blotted out from Israel. That is why some of the ancestors listed in the genealogy were lawful or “natural” descendants of their fathers while others were sons according to the Law, that is, they were born by one father but named after another. And it was customary to mention both — the actual fathers and those whose names were thus restored. So, the Gospels make no mistake in recording their names according to the natural birth and according to the Law. Descendants of Solomon and Nathan were thus intertwined due to the age-long process of “bringing from the dead” those who had no sons, remarrying of the mothers and “restoration of the seed”, that one and the same person could be legitimately regarded as a son of his actual father as well as the son of his “sort of” father. Both narratives, therefore, are correct, and they both come to Joseph the right way, though it may seem like a meandering.
To clarify this seeming confusion, I will try to explain what caused it in the first place. If we reckon the generations from David through Solomon, the third one from the end will be Matthan, who begat Jacob, the father of Joseph. According to Luke, the third one from the end, after Nathan, the son of David, was Melki [Matthat (Lk 3:23) — note. V.S.], whose son was Heli, the father of Joseph. Since we are looking at the genealogy of Joseph we must explain why two people are recorded as his father: Jacob, the descendant of Solomon, and Heli, the descendant of Nathan. Why would Jacob and Heli be brothers? And why would their fathers, Matthan and Melki [Matthat], be Joseph’s grandfathers, though they belonged to different lines. Matthan and Melki [Matthat] were both married to the same woman, one after the other, and begat uterine brothers, since the Law didn’t forbid un unmarried woman to remarry, whether she was divorced or widowed. First, Matthan, who was from the line of Solomon, begat Jacob from Esta (this woman’s name according to the Tradition). After Matthan’s death, Melki [Matthat] from the line of Nathan married his widow (as I said, he was from the same tribe but from a different line) and begat his son Heli. So, we will discover that Jacob and Heli were uterine brothers, though belonging to different lines. Heli died without producing children, and Jacob married his wife and begat Joseph (the third generation), who was his son according to the flesh (and according to Scriptures: “Jacob begat Joseph”), and the son of Heli, for his brother Jacob “raised up his seed”. So, we must not reject his genealogy. Matthew, the Gospel writer, says: “Jacob begat Joseph”. Luke’s genealogy is ascending: “He was the son, so it was thought (he added), of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Melki [Matthat]”. One could not think of a clearer way to express his sonship according to the Law, so Luke, in speaking about such “births”, consistently avoids using the word “beget”. His list ends with Adam and God.
All of this is not without a basis and is not arbitrarily contrived. Our Savior’s birth relatives left us the following true story, whether to glorify themselves or purely for our instruction. When a band of marauders from Idumea raided Ashkelon in Palestine, they seized not only the loot from Apollo’s temple, but also Antipater, the son of a certain Herod, who was a hierodule. Because the priest could not redeem his son, Antipater was brought up according to Idumean customs. Later he was well-favored by Hircanus, the high priest of Judea. As an ambassador sent to Pompea on some errand from Hircanus, he obtained for him the kingly authority, which had been usurped by his brother Aristobulus. As to Antipater himself, he prospered; he was appointed the curator (epimelet) of Palestine. After his death — he was murdered out of envy for being so fortunate — his position went to his son Herod. This Herod was later appointed king over the Jews by Antonius and Augustus, as decreed by the Senate. His sons — Herod and others — were tetrarchs. Of these events we also know from the Greek history.
Until then, the archives had kept genealogies of both Jews and ancient Proselytes, such as, for instance, the genealogies of Achior the Ammonite and Ruth the Moabite, as well as genealogies of Egyptians who intermarried with the Jews. Having no connection whatsoever to the Jewish people, Herod, ashamed as he was of his ignoble blood, ordered that all the records of genealogies be burnt in hope that he could be reckoned as a noble-born, if no one was able to trace his line to Patriarchs, Proselytes or Gyiurs (converts to Judaism) using the public records. As a result, there were very few people who retained any memory of their ancestry. If they did, it was by keeping their own genealogical records or just by remembering the names of the ancestors, or keeping their own lists. People were proud of preserving the memory of their high blood. Among them were also the above mentioned “desposiny” — those related to the family of the Lord. Natives of Jewish settlements, Nazareth and Kohaba, they spread wide across the land and compiled the above-mentioned genealogy based on the “Book of Days”, as best they could.
Whether it is so or not, it would be hard to come up with a better explanation — this is my opinion as well as that of any reasonable person. To this we will hold, even though it has not been confirmed by evidence — because there nothing better or more correct to hold on to. And as to the Gospel, it is all true, to say the least”.
At the end of the same letter, Africanus adds: “Matthan, a descendant of Solomon, begat Jacob. After the death of Matthan, Melki [Matthat], a descendant of Nathan, begat Heli by the same woman. Therefore, Heli and Jacob must be uterine brothers. Heli died childless; Jacob raised up his seed by begetting Joseph who was his son according to the flesh, and Heli’s son according to the Law. So, we can say that Joseph was the son of them both”.
This is the testimony of Afrikanus. If such was the genealogy of Joseph, then Mary had to be from the same tribe, for, according to the Law, it wasn’t allowed to marry outside your tribe. The Law said that a man should take a wife out of the same town and the same family so that the inheritance would not go from one tribe to another. With this let us end” (The History of the Church, 1,7).
The explanation offered by Africanus is correct, though he confused Melki with Matthat. The genealogy in Matthew lists births according to the flesh; the one in Luke is according to the Law. It must be added that the levirate links between the two genealogies are found not only at the end, but also in the beginning. This conclusion is obvious because both genealogies intersect in the middle at Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel (see Mt 1:12—13; Lk 3:27). Nathan was the older brother; Solomon was younger, next in line after him (see 2 Sam 5:14—16; 1 Cron 3:5), therefore he was the first candidate to a levirate marriage (compare Ruth 3—4; Lk 20:27—33). The Old Testament is silent on whether Nathan had children, so we may very well conclude that he had none. Solomon, however, had much capacity for love: “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:3). So, in theory, he could have married Nathan’s widow. If this is so, Mattatha is the son of Solomon according to the flesh and the son of Nathan according to the Law. In light of the above-mentioned circumstances, the differences between the two genealogies no longer present a problem.
Does the prophesy of Isaiah refer to a maiden or a virgin?
Question: Isaiah 7:14 talks about a maiden or a young woman. But why do Christians translate the Hebrew word “Alma” as “Virgin”?
Answer: Isaiah 7:14 was first applied to Jesus by Matthew: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin [παρθένος] shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Mt 1:18—23).
Let’s compare it with the prophesy in Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin [παρθένος] shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [heb. ‘Emmanuel’ = God with us]” (Is 7:14; compare Is 8:8—10).
Both the Greek text of the Gospel and the Greek translation of Is 7:14 use the same word παρθένος (virgin). This is how the Hebrew word “alma” is translated in both cases. One can certainly argue about the nuances of translating “alma” as “maiden” or “virgin”, but in reality, there is not much semantic difference between the words “maiden” and “virgin”. Practically, they are the same. To limit the translation of the word “alma” to “a young woman” is a later invention of Judaism, which has very little in its favor.
The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament ordered by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the king of Egypt, in the 3rd century B.C. This translation was completed by 72 Jewish scribes; thus, each Semitic tribe was represented by 6 people. The Septuagint translates “alma” as παρθένος. It makes perfect sense to trust the ancient Jewish scholars who certainly knew how to translate “alma”, and had no reasons to distort the meaning of the prophesy.
Some interpret the prophesy from the first book of Moses in much the same way: “And I will put enmity between thee [great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan (Rev 12:9)] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15), so the Victorious One who will defeat the Devil will be born without the seed of a man.
Besides, Mary’s eternal virginity is also based on Ezekiel’s prophecy: “Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut” (Ezek 44:2).
Does Jesus fulfill the prophecies about Messiah?
Question: According to prophecies, the Jews will prosper under Messiah. But it wasn’t so in the days of Jesus. Is there at least one prophesy about Messiah that was fulfilled in Jesus?
Answer: “When John [the Baptist] had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he [Messiah] that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Mt 11:2—6; compare Lk 7:19—23).
The Jews received from Jesus many blessings. Do they have a reason to be unhappy about not receiving more blessings, considering the fact that it was Jewish leaders who gave over their Benefactor to be crucified?
At the same time, there were many godly Jews who accepted Jesus as Messiah. Some of them had a direct revelation from God about Him, like the shepherds from Bethlehem (see Lk 2:8—20), Simeon the Prophet, and Anna the Prophetess (see Lk 2:21—38). Others saw in Jesus the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies (see Jn 1:45).
Daniel details the time of the coming of the Messiah: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 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. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself” (Dan 9:24—26).
According to Dan 9:25, “from the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens’, and sixty-two ‘sevens’”: (7+62) *7=483 years. The decree about restoration of Jerusalem was passed by Artaxerxes Longimanus, the king of Persia, around the year of 457 B.C. Adding 483 years (69 “sevens”) brings us to 27—28 A.D. On the whole, this dating fits well with the testimony of Luke about the time when the ministry of Jesus Christ began “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Lk 3:1).
The dating of the coming of the Messiah is also foreshadowed in the first book of Moses: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until [Peacemaker] <Messiah> come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen 49:10; compare 1 Kings 2:4; Ps 132:11).
This prophecy has several possible interpretations. They acknowledge the loss of the “scepter of Judah” as something that has already happened; the only difference is in the timing of the loss. Let’s analyze some of the most common interpretations.
One version sees the loss of the “scepter of Judah” in the interrupted reign of the kings of Judah. This happened in 37 B.C. when Herod the Great, an Edomite, was enthroned in Judah. Jesus Christ was born precisely during Herod’s reign: “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king” (Mt 2:1; compare Lk 1:5). Notably, his birth was recognized by the Jewish teachers of the Law and Herod himself as the coming of the Messiah (see Mt 2:1—8). It should also be noted that there was a Herodian sect in Israel at that time; they saw king Herod as the Messiah (see Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion, 20). Herod must have encouraged such hopes, and initiated the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Seen from this perspective, Herod’ worry about the birth of Jesus (see Mt 2:3) and the subsequent massacre of the innocents (see Mt 2:16—18) makes perfect sense.
According to the second version, the “scepter of Judah” was lost when the kingdom of Judah was divided after the death of Herod the Great. The third version connects it with Judah becoming a Roman province in 6 A.D. Both events fall within the lifetime of Jesus.
The fourth version connects the loss of the “scepter of Judah” with the loss of power by the Jewish leaders: “When the member of the Sanhedrin saw that they were deprived of authority over life and death, they were overcome by great fear and despair. Putting on sackcloth and ashes they exclaimed: ‘Woe to us! The ‘scepter of Judah’ has departed, but the Messiah has not come!’” (Rabbi Rahmon, quoted in Eg.Fred.John Meldau “Messiah in Both Testaments”). According to Talmud, the Sanhedrin was deprived of the authority to pronounce death sentences 40 years before to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (see Avodah Zarah, 8b), which would place it around 30 A.D. The Gospel confirms it: “Then said Pilate unto them [sanhedrin], Take ye him [Jesus], 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” (Jn 18:31).
The prophecy about the “scepter of Judah” has the following continuation: « [Messiah] 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: His eyes shall be red [shiny] with wine, and his teeth white with milk” (Gen 49:11—12).
It predicts, first of all, how Christ will enter Jerusalem: “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet [Zechariah], saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass [Zech 9:9]. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Mt 21:1—9; compare Mk 11:1—11; Lk 19:29—44; Jn 12:12—19).
Zachariah the prophet says the same: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zech 9:9).
Secondly, the washing of garments in wine and blood (Gen 49:11) foreshadows the institution of the Eucharist (see Mt 26:27—28; Mk 14:23—24; Lk 22:20) and the Calvary sacrifice: “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken [Ex 12:46]. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced [Zech 12:10]” (Jn 19:33—37).
As to the latter, there is an allusion to two Old Testament prophecies: “neither shall ye break a bone thereof [easter lamb]” (Ex 12:46) and “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zech 12:10).
It would be helpful to quote the words of Jesus in connection with the prophecy of Gen 49:10—12: “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (Jn 5:45—47).
As we have already mentioned, some of the characteristics of the Messiah, which were fulfilled in Jesus, include: coming from the tribe of Judah through the line of David (Gen 49:10; 1 Kings 2:4; Lk 2:3—5; Jn 7:42; Rom 1:3), virgin birth (Gen 3:15; Is 7:14; Mt 1:18—23).
Following the advice of Jesus: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (Jn 5:39), let us mention other Old Testament prophecies referenced in the Gospels.
Jesus born in Bethlehem: “And when he [Herod] had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet [Micah], And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel” (Mt 2:4—6; compare Jn 7:42). The underlying prophecy: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Mic 5:2).
Jesus’ parent take him to Egypt: “When he [Joseph] arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Mt 2:14—15). The underlying prophecy: “In a morning [sanset] shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off. When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt” (Hos 10:15—11:1; compare Num 23:22; Num 24:8; Ps 80:8).
Massacre of innocents by Herod: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time [of the birth of Jesus] which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not” (Mt 2:16—18). The underlying prophecy: “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not” (Jer 31:15; compare Gen 35:19).
Jesus as a Nazarene and the Branch: “And he [Joseph (with Mary and Jesus)] came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He [Jesus] shall be called a Nazarene [heb. ‘NZR’ = nazarene, sprout, branch]” (Mt 2:23). The underlying prophecy: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse [father of David], and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Is 11:1; compare Num 6:21; Judg 13:5; 1 Sam 1:11; Jer 23:5; Am 2:11—12; Zech 3:8). Jesus also called the Branch by prophet Zachariah: “And he shewed me Joshua [Jesus] the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua [Jesus] was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by. And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua [Jesus], saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by. Hear now, O Joshua [Jesus] the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua [Jesus]; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree” (Zech 3:1—10).
Jesus and the Temple in Jerusalem: “And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Jn 2:13—17). The underlying prophecy: “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me” (Ps 69:8—9).
“And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Mk 11:15—17; compare Mt 21:12—13; Lk 19:45—46). The underlying prophecies: “Even them [strangers] will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people” (Is 56:7) and “Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD” (Jer 7:11).
Messiah’s purpose: “And he [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias [Isaiah]. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Lk 4:16—22). The underlying prophecy: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound [LXX: recovering of sight to the blind]; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified” (Is 61:1—3).
Where Jesus preached: “Now when Jesus had heard that John [the Baptist] was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 4:12—17). The underlying prophecy: “Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Is 9:1—2).