The Hebraic perspective – Who the Messiah?
Since the days of Moses, what were the people expecting from the Prophet that Moses foretold would appear (Deut 18). Were they expecting a King, a Prophet, or a Priest. Were they expecting 1, 2 or even 3 Messiahs?
Today there is a common Jewish understanding that there will be two ‘end-times’ Messiah’s:
“A Kabbalistic tradition within Judaism is that the commonly-discussed messiah who will usher in a period of freedom and peace (Messiah ben David) will be preceded by Messiah ben Joseph, who will die sacrificing himself while uniting all of Israel in preparing the world for the arrival of Messiah ben David.” – see http://www.aish.com/tp/i/moha/48909612.html
The Qumran scrolls, the Book of Jubilees and the Testaments of the Tribes—all of which are close to the Essene worldview and written prior to the first century of the Common Era, reflected the belief in three messiahs: an eschatological messiah, along with the messiahs of Aaron and Israel.
So what were the characteristics of this eschatological (end-times) Messiah?
Messiah is the English transliteration from the Hebrew ‘Mashiach’ meaning ‘anointed one’ i.e. someone chosen specially by God for some purpose. This term is translated into ‘Christos’ in Greek and then to ‘Christ’ in English. The term occurs some 37 times in the Hebrew Scriptures (KJV OT version – Strong’s #H4886) and is not always a prophetic reference to the eschatological Messiah. It is used to refer to the kings of Israel, the high priest, the patriarchs, as well as the Assyrian Cyrus (see Isaiah 45).
Look at Isaiah 11 where we read of his characteristics. His seven main attributes are described in Isaiah 11:1-10 and they are:
(1)… and the spirit of Adonai will rest upon him,
(2) the spirit of wisdom,
(3) and understanding,
(4) the spirit of counsel,
(5) and might,
(6) the spirit of knowledge,
(7) and the fear(awesome respect) of Adonai. …
He was also to redeem the Land of Israel; remove the oppressors and return all of Israel from the four corners of the Earth. He was to introduce a time of great peace, a time when all would know the Almighty, as per the New/Renewed Covenant prophecy of Jeremiah 31. This would also involve the cessation of war; the universal conversion of the world to Judaism or ethical monotheism; the rebuilding of the Temple; the recognition that it is the Jewish people who know God as prophesied in Zec 8:23, and the ‘swallowing up of death’ (Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:12)!