At that time King Messiah will wake up and will leave the Garden of Eden, from that place that is called Bird’s Nest and will be revealed in the region of Galilee. On that day the whole world will become angry, and all the inhabitants of the world will hide in holes of the rocks and in caves and think they will not survive. Of this time it was written, ‘Go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily’ (Isaiah 2:19) … ‘The glory of his majesty’ – this is King Messiah when he will rise up to terrify the earth” (Zohar, Shmot, 7b)
“Majesty” (ga’on) pg 28
from the soon to be published book:
The Concealed Light: Names of Messiah in Jewish Sources
That’s probably not what you expected from a book containing over 100 names of the Messiah, all from Jewish sources, particularly since these names are supposed to reveal something to both Jews and Christians about Jesus Christ. However, this book isn’t written primarily for Christians (although we will find amazing insights into the identity of Christ in Sadan’s book). It’s written for Jews…and not just “Messianic Jews.” Hence the Jewish sources.
Let me explain.
I’ve always been bothered by the Jewish/Christian “disconnect” about the Messiah. If the Tanakh (Old Testament) is supposed to contain prophesies pointing to the Messiah, and Jews and Christians both have the same Tanakh (Old Testament), why don’t Jews and Christians see the same Messiah? Do you think the traditional Jewish Messiah and Jesus Christ look like the same guy? Think again. Better yet, re-read the above-quoted passage from Sadan’s book citing “Majesty” as a name for the Messiah. Does that seem like the Jesus you’ve learned about in church to you?
If both Jewish and Christian sources speak of the same Messiah, how come the Jewish Messiah and the church’s Christ look like two completely different people? I tend to answer that question by saying that the church gave Jesus a complete makeover in the first few centuries of the Common Era, stripping him of all Jewishness in his appearence, his teachings, and his identity. We’ve turned him into a Goyishe King and a “Greek god” who bears not the slightest resemblence to the Jewish Messiah spoken of by the ancient Hebrew prophets.
That is, unless you look very closely and make a tremendous effort to peer beneath 2,000 years worth of whitewash and veneer. Some Jews and a few non-Jewish Christians have made this effort and have discovered a very different person, a Jewish person, hiding or perhaps imprisoned underneath. Tsvi Sadan is one of the Jews who has made the effort, and who has seen the “Jewish Jesus.” To do that, he has searched for him in the Torah, in the Tanakh, in the Talmud, and even in the Zohar. The Messiah; the real Messiah is there.
If you consider the Bible as the only valid source for authoritative information, you probably will have “issues” with Sadan’s book. He doesn’t rely only on Biblical sources. He does however, rely solely on Jewish sources, even to the degree that references to the New Testament are quite rare (but not entirely absent). But why?
Who is the primary audience of this book, again?
If you’re a Christian, you may be thinking that attempting to portray the Messiah using anything but the Bible is going to generate a highly skewed image of him, making him “too Jewish” and painting a portrait that does not fit anything that we know Jesus to be. However, you’re wrong, at least in part. You are correct in that the Messiah you find by reading the text and commentary on his Jewish names is very Jewish by appearance and demeanor. Your concerns have likely been verified by the above-quoted name for the Messiah (remember, this is only a taste). However, you’re wrong if you think you can’t find Jesus the Jew and the Savior in these pages. He’s there. He’s just had his veneer removed and his true face restored.
In an outstanding Jewish commentary from the ninth century CE on Psalm 36:9, “In Your light we see light,” the author offers an imaginary conversation between God, Satan, and Messiah which reflects his own understanding of who is Messiah and what is his role. In this conversation, Satan attempts to deter God from honoring Messiah. Challenged, God asks Messiah what he intends to do in light of the suffering inflicted upon him because of those whom he came to save, and the Messiah answers:
“Master of worlds, with the joy of my soul and the pleasure of my heart, I accept upon myself that none from Israel will perish and that not only the living will be saved in my day but also those hidden in the soil…and not only those will be saved, but all hosts whom you have thought to create but have not. This is what I desire, this is what I accept upon me” (Pesikta Rabbati, 36).
-“Glorious” (kavod) pp 120-21
Not quite the face you remember of Jesus from the Christian paintings, but not all the different, either. One of the things that you’ll need to accept in reading Sadan’s book is that, if the Christian Jesus looks a little different to the non-Jewish believer in these pages, so does the Jewish Messiah to the Jew, but just a little. In addition to finding a wholly Jewish Messiah, you also find the hints and clues that point to the Sufferer (sovel), pg 164, the Holy One of Israel (kedosh yisra’el), pg 206, and the Prince of Peace (sar shalom), pg 238 among many other names.
But let’s look at this book another way.
You have a jigsaw puzzle with 101 pieces. You know when you put the puzzle together, you’ll have a picture of Jesus as he was and will be, as the Jewish Messiah, as Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David. This is a Jesus; a Yeshua, you have never, ever seen before. No one in the church talks about this guy, but you know that when you put this puzzle together, you’ll see the face of the same man who walked with Peter and John in the Galillee. You’ll see the same face that the hungry and the poor among Israel saw as he taught them, and fed them, and comforted them, as a shepherd does his sheep.
So you open Sadan’s book and you find the first piece of the puzzle in the first chapter: Alef (the book organizes the names of Messiah chapter by chapter alphabetically, but the alphabet is Hebrew). You find the first name: Different (acher). You read the two pages that describe “acher” as a name of the Messiah and you get the first glimpse of the Messiah. You file away those characteristics and turn the page. You find the next name: Stone (even) and start reading…and so on and so on. Turn the page and turn another. As you turn pages and continue reading names and building the puzzle a piece at a time, a face slowly begins to take shape. You start to visualize its colors and its moods. The face is unfamiliar, almost alien, but there’s something about the eyes that attracts you, as if you’ve seen his gaze somewhere before.
And by the time you read the last page; by the time you place the last piece of the puzzle into its proper location, you will see him. And you will be amazed.
Boaz Michael, President and Founder of First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) was gracious enough to send me an advance copy of Sadan’s book, which will not become available for sale at FFOZ’s sister site Vine of David until March 15. There will be an advance book party in Israel at Sokolov 2 (2nd floor) the evening of March 14th at 8:30 p.m, but I don’t have any additional information on this event (assuming you’ll be in Israel on that date). To purchase the book, go to the Vine of David resource page for The Concealed Light.
Tsvi Sadan’s book The Concealed Light: Names of Messiah in Jewish Sources gave me something that I’ve been awaiting for a long time: a reconnect between the Jewish Messiah and the Christian Jesus. It’s a path linking the Moshiach of Israel to the King of the Jews we see described in the Apostolic Scriptures. To successfully assemble all the pieces of the puzzle, you will have to set aside whatever trepidation you may have regarding extra-Biblical Jewish texts, and forgo any discomfort you may experience regarding any Kabbalistic “puzzle pieces” you come across. It is not unreasonable, unfair, or even inaccurate to call upon all those Jewish sources in order to recreate the face of the Jewish Messiah. After all, Christianity has been fabricating the visage of Jesus using heavily refactored imagery, turning a middle eastern Maggid into a European Savior for nearly twenty centuries.
All Sadan is doing is pealing the bits and pieces of the mask off of the face of Moshiach one layer name at a time. At last, I’ve gotten a look at the Master I have come to follow with my heart and my life. It’s good to wipe away some of the dust and grime that has been covering the window and to finally see him more clearly.