Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Star and the Sceptre: How Torah Prophesied That a Davidic Messiah Would Institute One-Law for all Mankind

"I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly." (Num. 24:17-18)
"And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind (Torat ha-Adam), O Lord GOD!" (2 Sam 7:19)
"I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor." (Isaiah 55)

"11 In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David [Sukkat David] that is fallen, and will rebuild the ruins of it, and will set up the parts thereof that have been broken down, and will build it up as in the ancient days: 12 that the remnant of men, and all of mankind upon whom my name is called, may earnestly seek me, saith the Lord who does all these things," (Amos 9:11-12, LXX).

If we understand that the Hebrew term for Edom is the exact same word for "mankind" (Adam), these passages tell a very interesting story.

Let's take Amos 9 as an example.  The version quoted by James in Acts 15 is quite different than the version in the Masoretic Text (i.e. the primary Hebraic text used today).  Berding explains:

"Some will object further that Amos' words in 9:12 are not the same as those found in James's citation in Acts 15:17.  The differences between the two are obvious: 
Amos 9:12: 'so that they may possess the remnant of Edom'
Acts 15:17: 'that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord' 
However, the Hebrew word for 'possess' (yarash) could in the ancient Hebrew script be easily mistaken for 'seek' (darash) since the difference would only be in the length of the tail between the letters yod and daleth in that early script.  Moreover, 'Edom' ('edom) and 'man/humanity' ('adam) are almost identical in Hebrew except for the vowels (which were not part of the original text).
     It is true that the Qumran text Florilegium supports James's reading on this clause in Amos.  Therefore, there is a real possibility that the NT and Qumran readings may preserve the better text from Amos, which would make even stronger our argument for the suitability of James's appeal to this text to show that Gentiles had been in the promise-plan of God all along."
So, if Torah uses Edom as a representative for all mankind, the Numbers passage becomes quite a bit broader in scope.  The territory of the future Davidic King of Israel will encompass all of mankind.  This King (whose first coming is marked by a Star and whose second coming is marked by a Sceptre) will "possess" mankind, calling them by His Name (in ancient societies, to call someone by your name meant to possess them).  In effect, He will transform many peoples into One People:
"Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you," (Zechariah 2:11)
 This Davidic Messiah will bring all the peoples into His House which means they'll have to abide by His "rules of the house":
"And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind (Torat ha-Adam), O Lord GOD!" (2 Sam 7:19)
But why does Torah use Edom as a representative for mankind?  Because the Edomites, like mankind, were offered the Torah but rejected it.  As descendants of Abraham, they were supposed to remain circumcised and keep the Law.  But instead they separated themselves from Israel, refusing even to let the Israelites cross through their territory when the Israelites were marching toward the Promised Land. Later they showed themselves to be even greater enemies of Israel.  But King David, believing that these Edomites were family, installed garrisons throughout Edom so that Edom would be subject to David's kingship.  Later still, in 108 B.C., Hyrcanus re-conquered the Edomites and made them subject to Judaism.  He did this because he, like David, believed that the Edomites were family and that, as such, they should act like it.

The Edomites were called to be family but rejected this call time and time again.

But G-d had a plan.

He would change the hearts of all mankind:
"26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
And the evidence of this heart change would be that the Edomites (or "mankind") would seek after the L-rd:
"that the remnant of men (Edom/Adam), and all of mankind upon whom my name is called, may earnestly seek me, saith the Lord who does all these things" (Amos 9)
Folks, the only thing that could make a people as nasty as the Edomites suddenly "earnestly seek" G-d is the power of the New Covenant, the power of the Ruach working in man's heart.  

May He bring peace and unity speedily in our days!

Psalm 133:1 "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"


  1. We are told that the Holy One is going to establish the tent of David. People who think they can do it are mistaken. I get the connection between Adam and Edom - same letters different vowels. It doesn't mean that it is the same, but there is a connection. Esau was red, Adom.

  2. So it not two houses, three houses, or four houses. Nor is it two sticks, six sticks, or twin sticks.

  3. Great points Princess. It's easy to lose sight of Who is doing the establishing.

    I have a completely different take on the house of Edom than Peter's, though I think the gist of the article is sound. I think the text, sans the vowel points, was probably speaking of bene Adam, not Edom. Having traced the genealogy of the house of Edom, I'm pretty sure that this interpretation isn't what is intended, especially if we take the prophecies of Obadiah (not to mention several other prophets) into account.