Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile
12 Iyar 5766 / May 10, 2006  

The messianic vision and the Return of M'nashe

From an exegetical view, the messianic vision is intimately tied to the Return of the House of Joseph, Ephraim in the faraway isles and coastlands and the n'zir, M'nashe, separated from his brothers.

Listen O ee'eem, unto me; and hearken, ye l'umim from far; The LORD has called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.  And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; and saith unto me, Thou are my servant, the servant of Israel in whom I will be glorified. (Isaiah 49:1-3)

This is the word of the LORD to the people living in the ee'eem (isles and coastlands) and the l'umim, a people with a united vision or something in common that identifies them, otherwise the Hebrew word 'am would have been used for people. So, the "people from far" are actually a people far away with some vision that unites them. 

The identity of the servant is not as clear. Many English texts insert "the servant of" seen above in red. These words do not appear in the Hebrew. The added words change the meaning from the servant being Israel to being a servant "to" Israel. If the servant is Israel, there also exists the possibility that Isaiah is speaking a mystery that identifies the ee'eem and the distant l'umim as part of Israel.  Otherwise, it sounds as though the prophet is boasting somewhat.

Over the past 20 years I have asked hundreds of rabbis and Christian pastors and ministers to tell me who this servant is. ALL identify him as a/the messiah (anointed one) to come, although they disagree on whether he has been here before and whether there has been or will be more than one.   Making this assumption that this servant has an "anointing" for a specific task, we now observe the task:

And now saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to serve Him, to bring Jacob again to Him, that Israel be gathered unto Him and I was glorious in the eyes of the LORD and my God was my strength. And He said, "It is nakeyl (an easy task) that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the n'zirei Yisrael (preserved, but see below, of Israel). I will also give you for a light to the nations, that My salvation may be unto the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:5-6)

This reads like Isaiah himself could be the servant and his book the message. But assuming the identity of the servant as someone anointed for a task, the task is here spelled out.

1) Raise up the tribes of Jacob.

2) Restore the preserved of Israel

3) Be a light to the nations so they also might be saved.

Because Isaiah has written that No. 1 and No. 2 are easy (or supposedly easier than No. 3) and No. 3 is written as an "after-thought" (otherwise, why the comparison?), perhaps the Gospel of the Restoration of the Kingdom of Israel foretold of the Last Days should proceed with focus on raising up Jacob and restoring the preserved of Israel. Then, the light to the nations would be the proper light, because it would be the light of Torah.

The reference to "also" being saved, places "salvation in the earlier context of "raising up the tribes of Jacob and RESTORING the preserved of Israel.

This approach is also consistent with the prophesies spoken about Jesus before his birth and at his infancy in Luke 1-2.  The three judgments spoken against the exiled Kingdom of Israel were Yizra'el (or Jezreel, the seed God will scatter), Lo-ruhamah (Without Mercy) and Lo-Ami (Not My People). These judgments should not be confused with those later leveled at Judah, from which Judah repented and was restored. Israel did not repent and was scattered.

The buzz-words are addressed in Luke and other places in the reNewed Testament with the good news that God's mercy is being restored to His People Israel. At the same time, one of the strongest evidences to me that Jesus (Y'shua) was part of this messianic vision, was the question he was asked by his disciples at his last appearance with them, "Master, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel."  They were Jews, but were expecting the anointed son of David to fulfill the dictate of the servant in Isaiah. While Jesus did not accomplish these messianic aims, he DID initiate them. It should be left to the true followers of Jesus to accomplish them. If  the church had Jacob-Israel's restoration at its focus, would there ever have been a Holocaust?

Jesus specifically told his followers to go to the cities in the galut (exile) of the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel -- not to any cities of Judah -- and they would not finish going to all of these cities before the son of man returned.  The apostle Paul directed the Gospel toward Gentiles (or so he thought). Actually the Gospel spread out of Asia Minor west into Macedonia, and across Europe, on the heels of the exile and assimilation of the non-Jewish House of Israel.

Repeating part of the above passage:

"It is easy that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the n'zirei Yisrael.

First, as explained above, the messianic vision of raising up Jacob and restoring this n'zirei has little to do with Judah. Initially, Jesus recruited his Jewish disciples to seek their lost Israelite family but that effort was also based on the return of these to the commands of Torah, which are binding upon all of Israel throughout their generations. Historically this has been born out by the resistance of devout Jews to the Christian Gospel devoid of Torah. With this qualification, the raising up of "Jacob" and preserving of  "Israel" apply in this context only to the assimilation of the Northern Tribes of Israel into the nations. Who was Isaiah addressing in the first place?

No limitation is placed on the return of Judah.  As many Jews who want to live in Israel may do so.

In the Torah, M'nashe is called ONE great people who will number in the thousands when they return to comprise part of the Rov (majority population) in the midst of the land of Israel.

Ephraim on the other hand is called myriads of thousands and numerically superior to all of the tribes, with the possible exception of Judah. Together, however, M'nashe and Ephraim constitute the Rov, so together they will someday outnumber Judah in the land of Israel.

Usually this passage is translated as a parallelism, where "tribes of Jacob" and "preserved of Israel" are the same thing and they will be first "raised up" and then "restored."  However the n'zirei Yisrael has a specific meaning in the Torah, which links it to 1) the House of Joseph and 2) a people of M'nashe separated from their brothers -- such as the five nations of the Apache and Navajo who were part of Israelite East M'nashe identified among the 38 Athapascan Language Group nations.  The Apache are the most "separated" and could qualify to be the N'zir in the prophecy about the fate of Joseph in the last days.

The same prophesy appears twice; first in Genesis 49:26, when Jacob is pronouncing his final words to all of his sons shortly before his death and again in Deuteronomy 33:16, when Moses blesses each tribe with words of the fate of each after it is proclaimed, should they ever forget, "The Torah that Moses commanded us is the heritage of the Congregation of Jacob." The word "heritage" is morashah (an heirloom).

After proclaiming all manner of blessings, both Jacob, and later Moses, said,

"Let them be on Joseph's head and on the 'kadkod n'zir' from his brothers."

From this text, the n'zir describes something about Joseph.  The region outlining the head in the Shomron (see logo at top right of this page) falls within the inheritance of Ephraim, brother of M'nashe, and Benjamin, Joseph's only maternal brother. Above the kadkod (translated crown of the head, but also the place where head t'fillin are laid) is the inheritance of the half-tribe of M'nashe on the West Bank of the Jordan River. M'nashe also was separated from his brothers by taking the other half of his inheritance on the east side. Finally, if the prophecy applied to the descendants of each of Joseph's two sons, then the head was Ephraim (according to the outline) and the n'zir would therefore be M'nashe.

This means that the Gospel of the Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, which Jesus said should go forth in the Last Days, may target all of the non-Jewish House of Israel scattered around the world, but it specifically targets the isles and coastlands. Ephraim spread into all the isles and coastal regions through European colonization. And the Last Days' Gospel targets a specific family of M'nashe, a great people living apart and separated from its brothers.

Maggid ben Yoseif