Saturday, June 5, 2010

References to the Jewish Belief in Agrippa as the Messiah Prior to the Twentieth Century

  • The Jews who came after him [Josephus], were willing to supply this defect. They have forged to us an Agrippa descended of Herod, whom the Romans, fay they, put to death a little before the destruction of Jerusalem; and they will have it, that this Agrippa, Christ by his title of king, is the Christ spoken of in Daniel . a fresh proof of their blindness! For besides that this Agrippa can neither be the righteous, nor the holy One, nor the end of the prophecies such as the Christ, whom Daniel pointed out in that place, must have been; besides that the murder of that Agrippa , in which the Jews had no hand, could not be the cause of their desolation, as the death of Daniel's Christ was to be; what the Jews say on this head is all a fable That Agrippa descended of Herod was ever on the side of the Romans: he was always well treated by their emperors, and reigned in a canton of Judea a long time after the taking of Jerusalem as Josephus and other contemporaries attest.

  • Thus all that the Jews devise to elude the prophecies, serves but to confute them. They themselves do not rely upon so gross fictions, and their best defence consists in that law, which they enacted, to compute no more the days of the Messiah.[Bousset An Universal History p. 261]

  • [R. Joseph Crooll, a Jewish teacher of Hebrew at Cambridge] first objects to the common rendering of the text 'the Messiah shall be cut off yet not for himself' [Dan 9:26] The Hebrew for the last section is ve-en lo and this our opponent, for very obvious purposes translates 'and not to him' instead of 'yet not for himself' that is, continues he, 'he shall have no successor.' He then proceeds to tell us who this Messiah is of whom it is thus pretended to be asserted that he shall have no successor; and our English readers will be somewhat surprised at finding, that, on the interpretation of the present writer, 'the messiah here alluded to, instead of being our Savior is Agrippa.'

  • For though Jews, in opposition to Christians, say that the Messiah mentioned in the 25th verse is Cyrus, and that the Messiah mentioned in the 26th verse means King Agrippa, it is clear that the Messiah spoken of in the 25th verse, is the same Messiah mentioned in the 26th Verse ; the connexion is not in the least broken, nor is there a second person mentioned before the latter part of the 26th verse, when the Roman Emperor is introduced, who is only called prince, and not MESSIAH or ANOINTED. Surely if the petty King Agrippa was worthy of the title anointed, because he was a king, the Emperor of Rome had as great a right to such an appellation. But they say, 'the king was the Lord's anointed,' as David says with regard to Saul, Sam i, 26, 29 for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed. The kings of the Jews were not more the anointed of the Lord after the Babylonish captivity, than the idolatrous kings were the anointed of the Lord, neither can the Messiah of the 25th verse be applied to Cyrus ... nor can the Jews to this day make the Messiah of the 26th verse — shall Messiah be cut off- — apply to King Agrippa, who is said to have been put to death by Vespasian, about four years before the destruction of the temple; for it is evident from the account given by their own historian, Josephus, that he lived many years after the destruction of Jerusalem [Classical Journal, 1822, On the True Age of Christ at the Crucifixion, and the Fulfillment of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel p. 170]
  • As for the marked expression 'and not for himself' [Daniel 9:26 KJV] Mr. [David] Levi gives a very singular interpretation of it indeed. "Agrippa," fays he, " was put to death by Vespasian about four year* before the destruction of the temple: as was also his son: which is shewn by the words and not to him, ie there shall be no more of him: for since his death, there has been no more kingly power in the Jewish nation to this day' [Letters to the Jews by Joseph Priestly 1787 p. 66]
  • Your celebrated Rabbi [Abraham ben] Isaac [a sixteenth century Karaite] in his celebrated treatise entitled the Bulwark of the Faith, says, that the seventy weeks of Daniel are a period of four hundred and ninety years, to be reckoned from the worrd of God to Jeremiah concerning the return from the Babylonish Captivity, or from the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar to its destruction by Titus. He also says, that Messiah, the prince, in the former part of the prophecy means Cyrus, who is called the Messiah, or the anointed, by Isaiah; and that by the Messiah who is to " be cut off," in the latter part of the prophecy is meant the last king of the jews, or Agrippa the younger, who is said by a spurious Josephus (never quoted by any writer before the twelfth century) to have been killed by Vespasian before the taking of the city.[The Theological and Miscellaneous Works of Joseph Priestly Vol 20 1780 p. 242]
The fact that Karaites also shared this interpretation of Agrippa as the messiah of Daniel is quite significant as the official break between Rabbanites and Karaites occurred in the eighth century. Many scholars, including myself, date the origins of the Karaites back much further perhaps as far as the Sadducees. The fact that the Karaites maintained the same understanding of Agrippa as the messiah of Daniel makes absolutely certain that the tradition is very, very old undoubtedly dating back to the first century as I have suggested all along.

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