Scripture Prophesies the Messiah’s Birth by 7AD
One of the earliest prophecies in the Bible is found in its first book – Genesis. At the end of Jacob’s life (some 1800 years before Christ was born), he calls together his sons to tell them what would befall them (or specifically, what would happen to their descendants) as history progressed. The prediction given to his son Judah, becomes one of the great Messianic prophecies of the Older Testament:
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” Genesis 49: 10
Who is Shiloh?
Jewish literature down through the ages has identified “Shiloh” as being a reference to the Messiah. Note the following:
* The Aramaic Targum of Onkelos (dates back to the 2nd Century AD – although its tradition probably goes back to the Babylonian Captivity some 700 years earlier) sees this as a reference to the Messiah. It paraphrases the latter part of the Genesis 49: 10 as follows:
“Until Messiah comes to Whom belongs the kingdomâ¦”
* The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan paraphrases the verse in this fashion:
“Until the time that King Messiah shall come”
* The Jerusalem Talmud (1st Century AD) equates “Shiloh” with the Messiah.
* The Midrash Tanhuma (may date back as far as the 4th Century AD) ascribes this to Messiah the King
* The Yalkut Shimoni (13th Century AD) argues that “Shiloh” is a contraction of “shai-ladonai”, a term that shows up in Isaiah 18: 7 meaning, “gift to the Lord. ” It therefore interprets the term to relate to the Messiah:
“Until Shiloh shall come; He is called by the name of Shiloh because all the nations are destined to bring gifts to Israel and to King Messiah, as it is written, ‘In that day shall the present be brought to the Lord of hosts.”
Much of the information above is sourced a from menorah.org article – please seeMessianic Promise.
What is meant by the Scepter?
Jewish rabbinical thought associated the “Scepter” with the right to adjudicate capital offenses (or what is called the “jus gladii”).
“The term “scepter” refers to their tribal identity and the right to apply and enforce Mosaic Laws and adjudicate capital offenses: jus gladii. It is significant that even during their 70-year Babylonian captivity (606-537 BC) the tribes retained their tribal identity. They retained their own logistics, judges, etc.”
In short, the scepter was the implement held by a ruler particularly as they presided over cases involving capital punishment.
When you put together the meaning of ‘scepter’ with that of ‘Shiloh’, the Genesis passage begins to take on meaning. Namely, that before Judah (the Jews) lost the right to execute capital punishment over its citizens – the Messiah would be on the scene.
When did the scepter depart from Judah?
“In 6-7 A.D., King Herod’s son and successor, Herod Archelaus, was dethroned and banished to Vienna, a city in Gaul. Archelaus was the second son of Herod the Great. The older son, Herod Antipater, was murdered by Herod the Great, along with other family members. (It was quipped at the time that it was safer to be a dog in that household than a member of the family!) Archelaus’ mother was a Samaritan (1/4 or less of Jewish blood) and was never accepted. After the death of Herod (4 BC?), Archelaus had been placed over Judea as “Entharch” by Caesar Augustus. Broadly rejected, he was removed in 6-7 AD
He was replaced by a Roman procurator named Caponius. The legal power of the Sanhedrin was immediately restricted and the adjudication of capital cases was lost. This was normal Roman policy. This transfer of power is mentioned in the Talmud and by Josephus.”
History records that once the Sanhedrin realized they had lost the right to execute capital punishment – that they covered themselves with sackcloth and ashes. The Babylonian Talmud, Chapter 4, folio 37 from the 1st Century records the following:
“Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come!”
They honestly thought God had failed to keep His promise – what they didn’t know was that a young Carpenter’s boy was alive and well in Galilee named ‘Yeshua’ – ‘Jesus’ in the Greek – indeed, ‘Shiloh’ had come!