Anointing the Hidden King

The author of Siddur Otzar HatTefillos  explains why we do tashlich on Rosh  HaShanah from a statement on today’s daf. “Rav Saadiya Gaon explains that we blow the shofar on Rosh HaShanah because on that day we declare Him as king of the world. We blow shofar to accept His kingship over us. This is also why we go to the river or another water source to do tashlich on Rosh HaShanah. As we find in Kareisos 5, we only anoint a king near a body of water. Similarly, on Rosh HaShanah, the day we renew our acceptance of God’s kingship, we re-anoint Him as it were by a river.

The Magid Devarav L’Yaakov, zt”l, explains in a similar vein why we don’t do tashlich on Rosh Hashanah which falls on Shabbos. “Tashlich is a kind of anointment of God as king. We find in Kareisos 5 that we only anoint a king when there are enemies to his becoming king. But if no one objects to his becoming king, there is no need to anoint. When Rosh Hashanah falls out during the week, one must contend with many enemies which try to trip him up, making it very difficult to declare God’s kingship with a full heart. We therefore must go to a water source and anoint Him there. In this manner we silence all accusers. On Shabbos, however, the Zohar tells us that there are no accusers—at least compared with during the week. It follows that there is no need to anoint God king.”

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Stories Off the Daf
“Anointing Our King”
Kereisos 5

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” -Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV)

I couldn’t help but make this comparison because it seemed to fit so well. It also makes me wonder when John performed the ceremony of immersion with the Master as recorded by Matthew and, in future days, when Jesus will be anointed as King over all the earth? I’m not making any sort of declarative statements. Just wondering.

If indeed, according to Jewish custom, the shofar is blown as an announcement of accepting the Messiah’s Kingship over us, I also wonder why we Christians, who claim Jesus as Messiah and King, never took the practice of the shofar upon ourselves. I guess it would have been “too Jewish.” But, since Jesus came first for his “lost sheep of Israel” and then only for the nations of the world, on the day when Jesus returns to claim his Kingship, won’t we all, Jew and Gentile alike, hear the sound of the shofar when he is anointed? Maybe the church should start getting used to the idea that we have a truly Jewish King.

I suppose I’m guilty of some degree of presumptuous arrogance in comparing the Jewish Messiah and the Christian Jesus, since most Jews do not see these two as being the same man. Also, many in the church do not recognize even the possibility that, when Jesus returns, he will be a Jewish King and will preside over Israel and the world in the legacy of David rather than as a “Gentile Gee-sus.”

In many ways the true face of the King of Kings has been concealed from both the Christian and the Jew, as have been his names.

Of the many names for the Messiah found in Tsvi Sadan’s book The Concealed Light, none of them, in English, translate to “King” or “Anointed” or even “Shofar”. However, the Hebrew word “Stam” is thought to be one of the names for our hidden King. Also remember that, for many Jews, the name of the Messiah remains hidden…for now.

In some places, when no name is attached to the word “king,” the identity of the king is said to be stam, meaning the king’s identity is unclear and open for interpretation.

Messiah as Stam King flows from understanding the words of Hannah, “He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed.” (I Samuel 2:10). Since there was no king in Israel when these words were spoken, some could assume that Hannah was prophesying about Messiah. So, says Radak, “The king is Messiah, and Hannah said it by way of prophecy or by way of tradition that in the future Isarel will have a king” (Radak to I Samuel 2:10).

-Sadan, pg 172

We think we know him. We think we know our Lord and Savior in the church. Judaism looks for the Messiah to come to redeem Israel and bring righteousness to the nations under his scepter. We both have it right and we both have it wrong. We both need to have his face revealed and his name to be made clear to all.

And we are all waiting for the King to arrive and be anointed…and to reign over his Kingdom, which is centered in Jerusalem and extends to the ends of the earth. May he come soon and in our days. Amen.

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4 thoughts on “Anointing the Hidden King”

  1. Beautiful. I was wondering how you like the book “The Concealed Light”? I’m still debating whether to get a copy for myself. Loved your article. Shalom.

  2. I highly recommended “The Concealed LIght. In case you missed it, here’s my book review. There’s a rather detailed portrait of the Messiah available and Tsvi Sadan has painted it using the ancient Jewish texts.

  3. James, that’s an interesting connection between anointing the king near water and Yeshua’s baptism in the river. I searched and found an explanation for this practice this, one that makes even more sense in light of Messiah who will be the Eternal King:

    “Gemara (Horayot 12a) explains that a king is anointed near a river as a sign that his kingdom should have continuity, just as a river continually flows.” (Rav Asher Meir)

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