TIME OF MESSIAH'S COMING
THE time when God assumes human form in order to visit the world in its sorrows and distresses, which beset all on every hand, should be considered of the greatest importance not only by Israel but by all mankind.I. ACCORDING TO THE PREDICTION OF THE TORAH (GEN. 49:10)
לֹא־יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה וּמְחֹקֵק מִבֵּין רַגְלָיו עַד כִּי־יָבֹא שִׁילֹה וְלוֹ יִקְּהַת עַמִּים׃ "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between His feet, till Shiloh come, having the obedience of the peoples" (Author's translation). The person referred to as Shiloh is acknowledged by many Hebrew and Christian scholars to be the Messiah מָשִׁיחַ.
The position is sometimes taken that the translation of Gen. 49:10 is inaccurate. The following translation has been suggested by one author: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet forever. For Shiloh shall come, and to him shall be the gathering of the people." The translator then adds that the passage teaches "That Shiloh, by whom Messiah may be meant, shall restore the sceptre to Judah, and the right to make laws." This translation grammatically may be justified but it seems quite strained and awkward in this context. There is a contradiction between the translation and the translator's explanation. In the translation he states that the sceptre and a lawgiver shall never depart from Judah; in the comment he says that Shiloh, which expression may refer to Messiah, will restore the sceptre to Judah. If it has never departed from Judah, it cannot be restored; hence the contradiction. Even this translator admits that the passage may refer to the Messiah.
Isaac Leeser thus translates it: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet; until Shiloh come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be."
That the passage was anciently understood as of Messianic import is seen from the following quotation from Dr. Edersheim: "The expression 'Shiloh' is also applied to the Messiah, with the curious addition, that in the latter days all nations would bring gifts to Him. Alike the Targum Onkelos, Pseudo-Jonathan, and the Jerusalem Targum, as well as Sanh. 98b, the Midrash on the passage, and that on Prov. 19:21, and on Lam. 1:16, where it is rendered shelo, 'whose it is,' refer the expression 'Shiloh,' and, indeed, the whole passage, to the Messiah."
Rab said, "The world was created only for the sake of David; Samuel said, It was for the sake of Moses; R. Yochanan said, It was only for the sake of the Messiah. What is his name? Those of the school of R. Shila say, Shiloh is his name, as it is said 'Until Shiloh come.' "
According to this prediction he comes before the sceptre (ruling power and authority) passes from Judah. Historically, the nation of Judah was completely destroyed and its governmental powers lost in the year 70 A.D. Hence according to the Torah, which is infallible, the Messiah has already come, but Israel did not recognize Him. See Isa. 53--the chapter which gives the picture of the Messiah suffering the agonies of death because of the transgression of Israel, His people, to whom the stroke was due.
II. ACCORDING TO THE PREDICTION OF DANIEL
The very year that מָשִׁיחַ Messiah, the Prince, should be cut off is definitely prophesied in Dan. 9:26. In order to understand this prediction let one note the context. In the first year of Darius the Mede (Dan. 9:1,2) Daniel was reading the prophecy concerning the Babylonian captivity. Stirred by this reading he began to pray but was interrupted by the angel Gabriel who was dispatched from God to him. Daniel having read Jeremiah's prophecy, doubtless, concluded that the reign of "peace, plenty, and prosperity" for Israel was to follow immediately after the captivity. Since he was thinking in terms of years (see verse 2) the angel disabused his mind of the wrong conclusion which he had drawn from his reading and informed him that instead of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel in glory, which he assumed would be established at the end of the seventy years of captivity, there would be seven seventies (of years) "decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city" before the inauguration of the glorious kingdom (Dan. 9:24). According to verses 25 and 26, at the conclusion of the sixty-ninth week (483rd year), the Messiah would be cut off and have nothing. The initial date of this period of four hundred and eighty-three years is the year of the issuing of the decree to the Jews to restore and to build Jerusalem, which, according to history, occurred in the year 538 B.C. Hence according to this prediction the Messiah was to be cut off four hundred and eighty-three years after Cyrus issued this decree.*
* The chronology of the Persian period of universal history is in great confusion; the inspired statement of Daniel is the only authenticated chronological statement which one has and in which he can put any dependence for these periods. Since the Tenach has proved to be accurate and absolutely trustworthy in every detail wherever it has been possible to test its statements by the acid tests of cold truthful scientific facts, one can be absolutely certain that the statement, "shall the anointed one be cut off, and have nothing" is trustworthy in the highest degree, and that the Messiah, the Prince, did come four hundred and eighty-three years after Cyrus issued his decree (Ezra 1:1-4) and was cut off.