“The Spirit of the Lord Shall Rest Upon Him”: How Will We Identify the Messiah?

“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.” (Isaiah 11:2)

Certain global events have left many in no doubt that we are currently experiencing the birth pangs prior to the messianic age.

Each day, Jews around the world pray for the arrival of the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. However many are not aware of the exact qualities and accomplishments that fulfill the description of the Jewish Messiah.

The Book of Isaiah offers the first glimpse at those characteristics that the Messiah will posses and continues throughout the centuries, following the chain of rabbinic scholarship.

Isaiah 11:2-5 spells out an extensive list of characteristics and actions of the individual who will be ultimately be recognized as the Jewish Messiah. Isaiah says he will be a man about whom all of these things can be said:

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

He shall be animated by the fear of the Lord

Neither with the sight of his eyes shall he judge

Nor with the hearing of his ears shall he chastise

He shall judge the poor justly

He shall chastise with equity the humble of the earth

He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth

With the breath of his lips he shall put the wicked to death

Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins

Faith [shall be] the girdle of his loins

Rabbi Isaac ben Judah Abarbanel, generally referred to as the Abarbanel, was a Jewish philosopher, Biblical commentator and businessman in Portugal during the 15th century. He expands on the list of characteristics from Isaiah and identifies the qualifications the future Messiah must have in order for the Jewish people to accept him.

The very first of these qualifications is that he must be descended from the House of King David. In Judaism, tribal affiliation is passed on through the father.

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The second qualification, according the Abarbanel, is that the Jewish Messiah must have the highest prophetic ability. The Bible states that there never was and there never will be a prophet as great as Moses:

“And there was no other prophet who arose in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” (Deuteronomy 34:10)

According to the Jewish mystical tradition known as Kabbalah, the soul of the Jewish Redeemer will include the reincarnated souls of both Moses and of King David.

Additional qualifications of the Jewish Messiah and the messianic age, according to the Abarbanel, include:

– The wisdom of the Messiah will be superior even to the wisdom of King Solomon.

– He will be in complete control of all of his bodily urges such as the needs for sleeping, eating and sexuality.

– He will have no material desires.

– He will pursue charity and justice throughout the world.

– His gift of prophecy will enable him to discern who is truly needy.

– Through the power of his prophecy, the Messiah will perform miracles.

– War, violence and oppression will cease.

– All the nations will recognize the unique spiritual powers of the Messiah and will willingly defer to his rule.

– All the Jewish people from all over the world will be gathered and returned to Israel and will live together in harmony.

End Times scholar and prolific author Rabbi Pinchas Winston added a nuance to the Jewish Messianic idea. He told Breaking Israel News, “Many know that the Jewish people have always had a concept of Moshiach, a savior who will rise up from the ranks of the Jewish people at some point in history and finally rescue them from exile.”

“Less known, if at all, is the concept of Moshiach Ben Yosef (Messiah son of Joseph), who as the name indicates, will descend from the Tribe of Yosef,” he explained. “The need for two Moshiachs stems from the fact that the Jewish people, in advance of the Final Redemption, will need both, each one serving a different purpose.”

In the messianic age, the Jewish people will not exalt in living under the powerful King Messiah for the purposes of ruling over other nations, but rather for elevated spiritual purposes. According to Rabbi Yechiel Weitzman, author of The Ishmaelite Exile, “[T]he reason for which Israel, its prophets, and its sage have longed for Moshaich (Messiah) – is neither material pleasure nor world domination. The objective is to be free to study the Torah undisturbed so as to be ultimately worthy of life in the World to Come.”