Did Moses Really Write About Jesus? A Look at Messianic Prophecy in the Torah
by Eric Chabot
Anyone who has studied evidential apologetics will see that many apologists have laid a great emphasis on messianic prophecy as one of the keys to demonstrating Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. One thing that is left out of these discussions is that when it comes to prophecy, it is not always predictive. The Greek word for fulfill is πληρόω (pleroo) – which has a much broader usage than “the prediction of an event.” But in this case, on more than one occasion, Jesus appealed to the fact that Moses wrote about him in the Torah. I will not take the time to argue for Mosaic authorship in this post. That is dealt with elsewhere. Anyway, let’s look at where Jesus discusses this issue:
How can you believe? While accepting glory from one another, you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God. Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me.But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”- John 5: 44-47
So can Jesus be found in the Torah? Jesus doesn’t list any specific texts here. First, we need to remember that there were other names that were used to describe the messianic person other than the “Messiah.” Some of the names include Son of David, Son of God, Son of Man, Prophet, Elect One, Servant, Prince, Branch, Root, Scepter, Star, Chosen One, and Coming One.
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We will see some of these names come up when we look at some of the places that Jesus may be referring to.
“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 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. (Gen 49:8-12)-KJV: NOTE: I chose the KJV here because most other translations replace “Shiloh” with “until he comes to whom [obedience] belongs.” Please read on:
In the previous context (Gen. 49: 1-7) we see the following issues:
1. Jacob, prophesied various details as to the fortunes and fates of the descendants of these men.
2. God is revealing to Jacob the future history of his descendants.
3. The older brothers are disqualified from the birth-right (i.e., Reuben, Simon, Levi).
4. Jacob foretold a future for the tribe of Judah that pictures him as the preeminent son – the prominent tribe.
5. Judah: is the name of the son of Jacob/or the name of the southern kingdom of the divided nation of Israel.
A Closer Look at the word “Scepter” and “Shiloh”
The precise meaning of “Shiloh” is challenging. It is either a reference to a place, as it is elsewhere in the Old Testament (e.g. Joshua 18:1,8,9; 19;51; I Samuel 1:13, etc.), or, it may refer to q proper name for the Messiah. This is seen in the Talmud in Sanhedrian 98b which answers the question of what the Messiah’s name is by saying, “Shiloh is his name, as it is said, “Until Shiloh Come.” (1)
In Judaism, names describe the nature of the Messiah’s mission…