Was Jesus A Rabbi, A Prophet, A Messiah Or The Son Of God? (Part II) – OpEd


Jews do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah-son of David (Dawud); because the Messianic Age of international peace is to be his mandate, and clearly this Age has not yet come about.
Nevertheless, this leaves open the possibility that Jesus could have been the Messiah-son of Aaron (Harun), or, Messiah-son of Joseph (Yusuf). The latter, according to rabbinic teachings, will be killed by the anti-Messianic forces (the Romans or their modern equivalent) before the coming of the Messiah-Son of David—to be followed by the final judgment and resurrection.

The belief in a plurality of messiahs, one a moral political leader from the house of David (a Davidson) and the other, a religious reformer from the house of Aaron (an Aronson) —in addition to a special “end of days” prophet like Elijah or Jeremiah (as referred to in the Gospel of Matthew 16:14)— is found in inter-testament literature, but does not appear so transparently in the Scriptures of Jews (or Christians).

A Dead Sea Scroll text states that the Qumran community of Jewish sectaries must live according to the original discipline [Torah laws plus the regulations of the Qumran order] “until there shall come a prophet (Elijah) and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel” (Manual of Discipline 9:11).

In addition to the “Messiahs of Aaron and Israel” there is a rabbinic belief in a further messianic figure from the northern tribes of the Children of Israel, a son of Joseph, who would be killed by Roman enemies. Interestingly, Joseph is the name of the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Jews say that Jesus was not the ‘Messiah-son of David’; but, one thing absolutely for sure, since all messiahs are always human—even if this ‘son of Mary’ was a messiah for Christians—he was definitely not what Christians conceive of as the “Divine Son” since the one and only God has no family members.

In the Qur’an, Jesus is referred to in ninety-three verses in fifteen different chapters; he is mentioned by name twenty-five times as “son of Mary” or “Messiah Jesus, son of Mary.”
Mary is mentioned more times in the Quran than in the entire New Testament; and Mary is the only woman to be mentioned by name in the entire Quran. Islam agrees with Christianity that Jesus was born to a virgin, was sinless like all the other prophets, performed miracles, and was born of a special family among prophets. In Islam it is specified that Jesus was born of the family of ‘Imran — the father of Moses (Mûsâ), Aaron and Miriam/Maryam— and that the bloodline of Mary and her son ran specifically through Aaron. 

Both Islam and Judaism teach that Jesus was not in any way Divine, that is, having a divine essence. Jews think Jesus was no more than a very spiritual Rabbi, and not the expected Messiah-son of David.

Nevertheless, Jesus could have been the expected religious reformer Messiah-son of Aaron —for, as already mentioned, Jesus was clearly not the moral political Messiah-son of David, the one to bring a Messianic Age of international peace.  Jesus’ mother Mary was from a priestly family —something glossed over in the Gospel of Luke.  What the Gospel of Luke does explicitly record is that Elizabeth the mother of John “the Baptist” and Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah, both, were from priestly families (Luke 1:5). Their son John was an Aronson, as were both his parents. Mary the mother of Jesus was a relative of Elizabeth (Luke 1:36); Prophets John and Jesus were cousins.

If Mary had been from the lineage of David, was there a reason why the Gospel record did not say so directly? Instead, the opening passage of the first Gospel book composing the New Testament claims that Mary’s betrothed (and later husband) was a Davidson descendant—thus avoiding the information that Mary was an Aronson descendant.  In a patriarchal society, family descent is recorded through the male line.

If Jesus was sent by God as a Messiah-son of Aaron figure, a Messiah-religious reformer, why is Jesus referred to and addressed as “[Messiah-] son of David” throughout the Gospel narratives (Gospel of Matthew 1:1, 9:27, 12:23, 15:22, 20:30; Mark 11:9-10; Luke 18:38-39; John 7:42)!

The Gospel records do acknowledge that contemporary people saw Jesus as a prophet but disagreed on just what kind of God-sent person he was (John 7:40-44). When John the Baptist’s followers came to ask Jesus directly about who he was (Luke 7:18-20), Jesus told them to judge by what they saw of him: He taught and ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of the common people.  
This was in no way the profile of a politician or a king (Luke 7:21-23); Jesus was emphatically not a King David figure, not a Messiah-son of David!  The Jewish common people suffered under the Romans and hoped for the coming of the Messiah-Son of David; nevertheless, according to the Gospels Jesus was someone else.

It is troubling, of course, that the genealogy placed at the beginning of The Gospel of Matthew “bakes in” a fictitious lineage for Jesus — “the one called Messiah” (Matthew 1:16).  There, Jesus’ genealogy is explicitly traced back to King David (Matthew 1:1)!   What is ironic about the Gospel presentation is that here (Matthew 1:1-17) and elsewhere (Luke 1:26-38) Jesus is portrayed as a descendant of his mother’s future husband, Joseph—  Joseph being a descendant of King David and going out of his way to be officially registered as such (Luke 2:4).

This attention to Joseph’s bloodline is in spite of the fact that Joseph has been meticulously represented in the accounts of Matthew (1:18-25) and of Luke (2:4-5) as Jesus’ guardian/ stepfather, and emphatically NOT his biological father!  Is it possible that a child is a descendant of his step-parent!  Any [bloodline] genealogy for Jesus would have to go through Mary, if she is his sole biological parent.

By contrast, the Qur’an provides evidence that Mary was a descendant of Prophet Aaron (Quran 3:33-36). In fact, the Qur’an makes an issue of this. The Quran goes out of its way to identify Jesus through his female lineage, calling him “Jesus, son of Mary.” The Qur’an calls out to Mary, mother of Jesus: “O sister of Aaron” (Quran 19:28) and refers to her elsewhere (Quran 66:12) as “Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran.”  As if relating Mary-mother-of-Jesus to her ancestral ‘father’ (Imran) were not enough, the Quran relates Mary (or Miriam, her Hebrew name) also to her ancestral ‘brother’ (Prophet Aaron). 

It is the priestly-family relationship to Prophet Aaron that is relevant to Mary’s genealogical identity, not her indirect relationship to Prophet Moses (the higher-profile ancestral ‘brother’ so frequently mentioned in the Quran)!  There is no claim, or even hint, in the Gospel records that Mary had any Davidic blood. According to the Quran, Mary-the mother of Jesus, is an Aronson descendant.

When the Qur’an points to Mary in terms of the names of immediate blood relatives (father and brother), it shows that her family line was descended from the original, historical ‘Imran and specifically from ‘Imran’s son Aaron!  Now Prophet Aaron was the brother of, and spokesman for, Prophet Moses, the great  Hebrew “Lawgiver” (Bible, Exodus 4:10-16).  

Furthermore, Prophet Aaron was the progenitor of the sole Hebrew line of priesthood. The ancient Biblical Prophets Moses, Aaron and Maryam (Exodus 15:20) were siblings, offspring of ‘Imran [Biblical Amram]. It seems that the ancestral family of Maryam/Mary the mother of Jesus, followed the family tradition of honoring their progenitors by conferring on their offspring their most eminent tribal names down through the generations: Mary’s own father had been named ‘Imran; her own brother had been named Aaron.
Thus does the Qur’an’s Jesus fit the Jewish category, Messiah-son of Aaron: first in his biological lineage and secondly in his actual mission.  Regarding his divinely mandated role, Jesus sees himself as a religious reformer and spiritual teacher, bringing Jews closer to the simpler intent of Judaism.  We see this in the New Testament Gospel books, both in Jesus’ own words and in the narratives recorded about him: [Jesus taught the crowds:] “Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point or the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with—not until the end of all things. So then, whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be least in the Kingdom of heaven.” (Gospel of Matthew 5:17-19)

Jesus went into Jericho and was passing through. There was a chief tax collector [for the Roman administration] there named Zacchaeus. …  Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Hurry down, … I must stay at your house today.” …   All the people who saw it grumbled, “This man [Jesus] is going as a guest to the home of a sinner!” Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Master (Rabbi Jesus), “Listen sir! I will give half my belongings to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because even he [this sinner] is a descendant of Abraham. The Son of Man (Jesus) has come to seek out and to save this thing [repentance] that has been lost.” (Gospel of Luke 19:1-10)

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. No one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him. (Gospel of John 3:1-2)

Jesus said to Pilate [during his interview before this governor of the Roman province of Judea]: My kingdom does not belong to this world.  … So Pilate asked him, “Are you a king then?”  Jesus answered: “You are saying that I am a king.  I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever listens to the truth listens to me.” (Gospel of John 18:36-37)

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