The audience that this article is written for are those individuals who believe that there are no traditional Jewish writings that explore the possibility that the Messiah will have a very special relationship that qualifies him as deity. Therefore, this article is written to point out that there are some areas of the traditional writings that clearly point to the fact that the Messiah will have a unique relationship with God. As a result of this unique relationship, the Messiah will have attributes that qualify him as having the attributes of deity. This article may be offensive or hard to understand to some individuals. However, as you read the article remember that it was written to target a specific subject that you may not be familiar with.
The Traditional Understanding of The Unique Soul
One of the most debated topics between believers today is the concept of deity. To fully understand the concept of deity we must come to a common understanding of the term deity. The definition of deity is simple: “the state of being a god, divine nature, or godhood” (Webster’s). Since the state of having a divine nature is known as a deity, is it possible that, based on traditional rabbinic thought, one can see that the soul has a divine nature? In traditional rabbinic sources it is not only possible, but understood that the soul of man is divine, and eternal, so by definition mankind is also deity."In rabbinic times, however, the neshamah begins to take on a more distinctive meaning. The body and soul become separate entities. Unlike the body, the soul is purely spiritual and immortal. It is the divine aspect of man. According to one talmudic view, God created all individual souls when He created the world, and at the time of birth they join the bodies to which they have been assigned." (Glustrom)
As the quote states man has a divine soul. In fact, Yeshua makes this point in John 10:34-36 which states "Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" Yeshua makes it clear from his reference to Psalms 82:6 that as it is written all of mankind has a godly attribute. Since all of mankind has this divine or godly soul, the Messiah, if he is a man, must also have this attribute. To continue the discussion we must turn to the teachings of the (ARI) who states. “ Mashiach will be born from man and woman like any other human being. He will be very righteous, and perform many meritorious deeds, thereby constantly elevating himself. His efforts will ultimately bring him to a very exalted level, at which point he will be able to receive his Yechidah, the Unique Soul that was prepared for him prior to Creation. He will then realize who he is and what his mission will be. He will be endowed by Heaven with the power to fulfill his task”(Kramer).
As we can determine from the two quotes, the Messiah not only has a divine soul, it is the same one all men possess. The ARI enlightens us to see that the Messiah becomes elevated to the point of receiving a Unique Soul for his mission. If we take a closer look we see that the Brit Hadashah even points us in this direction. First, the Brit Hadashah states in (Luke2:52) “And Yeshua increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” This quote fulfills the first part of the ARI’s understanding that the Messiah would become elevated and increase in stature by his meritorious deeds. The context of this passage is based on the childhood of Yeshua, so at this point in life he is operating with the divine soul that all mankind receives.
The second major event in the life of Yeshua that demonstrates the Unique Soul as described by the ARI, is at Yeshua’s immersion.
“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:16-17)
It is extremely important to note that this Unique Soul, had to be given before he could fulfill his messianic role. Examining the context we can determine that from the giving of this unique soul, and onward, his ministry went from mundane to miraculous. Yeshua’s miracles could only come from the Unique Soul with which he was anointed.
After examining both passages in the text, we see that by the first definition of the soul Messiah was divine at birth. And we see by the second definition it is obvious that by his deeds he deserved the anointing of his Unique Soul. Even though these two sources have proven the point messiah was considered deity, there is one other source we must consider, the Talmud. In this passage from the Talmud the issue of the Messiah’s preexistent identity is addressed.
“But that is not so, for it was taught: Seven things were created before the world, viz., The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah. The Torah, for it is written, The Lord possessed me [sc. the Torah] in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. Repentance, for it is written, Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world . . . Thou turnest man to destruction, and sayest, Repent, ye sons of men. The Garden of Eden, as it is written, And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden from aforetime. Gehenna, as it is written, For Tophet is ordained of old. The Throne of Glory, as it is written, Thy Throne is established from of old. The Temple, as it is written, A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. The name of the Messiah, as it is written, His name [sc. of Messiah] shall endure for ever, and [has existed] before the sun!” (Talmud)
Here we can also see that the name of the messiah existed before the sun. So what does it all mean? “AT THE MOUTH OF TWO WITNESSES, OR AT THE MOUTH OF THREE WITNESSES, SHALL A MATTER BE ESTABLISHED;” (Talmud). From these three extra biblical sources it is definite that three aspects of the Messiah existed before the foundation of the world. They are his divine soul, his unique soul, and his name. With this traditional rabbinic understanding in mind, is it beyond belief to assume the Messiah would be deity? No.
We have established by the three traditional witnesses that this concept is not out of the realm of possibility. To clarify the subject, even the Tanach states: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High”. (Psalms 82:6). The word translated as “gods” in this instance is the Hebrew word eloheem. Many modern translators like to translate eloheem as judges, angels, or leaders. However, the Septuagint’s original translators chose in this instance, to translate eloheem as theos. Theos is translated 1320 times in the Brit Hadashah as God, and only 5 times relating to judges or magistrates. The weight of evidence is in favor of the word in Psalm 82:6 literally being translated as god. Therefore Psalm 82:6 can also add to the proof of the first definition regarding the soul as divine.
What is the importance of this discovery, and how will it change your understanding of the Messiah? Before the foundation of the world Messiah had three attributes: a divine soul, a unique soul, and a name. This fulfilled the prophecy “And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength” (Isaiah 49:5).
From before the womb Messiah had two aspects of deity. Those two aspects were that his soul was both divine and unique. The divine soul allowed him to walk as man. However, as Messiah matured he received the unique soul, which made him unlike any other human. This unique soul allowed him to walk in the power of YHVH, and complete his messianic mission. Messiah’s name was also preexistent. In essence, his name was the first of all names. This attribute combined with the Messiah's divine and unique soul established his identity before the foundation of the world. As shown by these rabbinic sources, it is evident that all three of these attributes existed before the foundation of the world. Therefore, before receiving his physical body, the Messiah’s essence was with YHVH at the creation of the world. Fulfilling this saying “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Co 1:17).
After analysis of these sources, we can propose an answer to this question, is the Messiah deity? What do you think? In truth the only conclusion I can draw is a resounding yes. By definition the Messiah was, is, and will be deity. However, even though the Messiah is deity this does not make him the full manifestation of the Father. This makes him an image of the Father’s will for the rectification of the world.