Messiah must come from the Tribe of Judah Before or Shortly After the Scepter has Departed
“Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise…your fathers children shall bow down before you…Judah is a lions whelp…And as a lion, who shall rouse him? The Scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the rulers staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the gathering of the peoples.” Gen. 49: 8-10
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrata, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me, the one whose to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2
The Jewish Targum Jonathan recognized this passage as being Messianic as it said;
“Kings shall not cease nor rulers from the House of Jehuda (Juda), nor Sapherim teaching the law from his seed, till the time of the King, the Meshiha…How beauteous is the King and Meshiha who will arise from the house of Jehuda!”
The Targum Pseudo Jonathan states on Genesis 49:11 states;
” How noble is the King Messiah, who is going to rise from the House of Judah.”
The Talmud also recognized Shiloh to be a reference of the future Messiah;
“Rabbi Yohanan taught that all the world was created for the Messiah. What is his Name? The School of Sheelo taught: His name is Shiloh, as it is written,’Until Shilo come and unto Him shall the gatherings of the people be.'” Sanhedrin 98b
The Midrah Rabbah Genesis said;
” ‘He stooped down, he crouched like a lion’, some interpret it to mean, he crouched, that is he waited from Zedekiah until King Messiah.” Midrash Rabbah Genesis, 98:7
According to Rachmiel Frydland, a Messianic Jew and survivor of the Holocaust in Poland, in his book,”What the Rabbis Know About the Messiah”, the Yalkut related the word Shiloh to be a contraction of Shailadonai, which means ‘ the gift of the Lord’. it states;
” ‘Until Shiloh come’. He is called by the name Shiloh because all the nations are destined to bring gifts to Israel and King Messiah…” Yalkut 160 (the Yalkut is a Medieval Jewish anthology)
From the time of the middle ages till today many Rabbis have said that the Scepter was removed from Judah at the time of the Babylonian Captivity in 600 bc, and therefore Yeshua, who came 600 years later, could not be the Messiah.
However as Frydland points out, while Zedekiah, the last king before the captivity in Babylon was killed, Jehoiachin, was in fact still a recognized Judean king, though he was in prison. He was released and his descendants, as in Zerubabel, continued to lead the people as the returning exiles set up their government and rebuilt the Temple.
Josh McDowell in his popular, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, notes that the word translated as ‘Scepter’, is best described as “tribal staff’, and this staff and tribal identity was not to pass away until the Messiah came. The Israelites still posessed law givers and judges even while in captivity.
“Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin…prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem…Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the Temple of the Lord that had been carried away by Nebuchadnezzar…(and) had them brought out by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar, the Prince of Judah.” (Ezra 1: 5-8)
The identity of Judah and the judicial authority of the Sanhedrin continued unhindered until about 23 years before Jesus was put on trial, and at that time the judicial power of the Sanhedrin was restricted, as the Romans took away thier power to use the death sentence. Anthony Hanson notes in his book, Vindications, Essays on the Historical Basis of Christianity, that Rabbi Rachmon said, “When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their power over life and death, a general consternation came over them, they covered their head with ashes and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming, ‘ Woe unto to us, for the scepter has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come!”, (I have not referenced Rachman’s quote yet, will work on it)
Josephus, the famous Jewish historian and scholar, was witness to some of these events and commented on certain Jewish leaders going to the Romans and complaining of the Sanhedrin making illegal use of the death penalty when they had James, the brother of Jesus, stoned without Roman permission. (Josephus, Antiquities, 20, Chap.9,1)
Rachmiel Fryland points out that the Rabbis taught that 40 years before the destruction of the Temple, changes had begun to occur during the rites and ceremonies. They said that the lot for the goat to be sacrificed ceased to come up to the hand of the High Priest, the crimson cloth they put out for Yom Kippur ceased to turn white as it had before, the western light no longer kept burning and the doors of the temple no longer opened of themselves. (Rosh Hashana 31b, Yoma 39b)
Also, Daniel said;
“Then after 62 week the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince that is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Daniel 9:26
Jesus was descended from Judah. (Matthew 1:2. Luke 3;23,33, Hebrews 7:14, etc.) In fact, in Revelations 5:5, he is called” the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Luke 2: 4 says;
“So Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David…and while they were there the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.”
And Jesus was cut off from his people and crucified. Within a generation, 70 AD, the Romans destroyed the city and the Temple was torn down to the ground.
Here I would like to respectfully disagree with the Rabbi who said, ” Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come.”. I would say that while the scepter may have departed from Judah, don’t be too hasty, the Messiah has come. Can the Scripture be broken? I think that old Simeon had it right when he saw Jesus being brought to the temple for circumcision and he said;
“…my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples, a light of revelation for the gentiles, and a glory to your people, Israel.” Luke 2:30
He came once as the lamb of sacrifice and he will come again as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and then all the nations of the world will recognize Him and His people, the nation of Israel. And they will have to make amends for all their horrendous treatment against the Jewish people over the years and all their transgressions against the reborn nation of Israel, by recognizing her and bringing in yearly gifts and sacrifices.
As the ancient translation of Isaiah from the Aramaic, called the Targum Isaiah, says;
“from the subjection of the peoples shall He deliver their souls; they shall look upon the punishment of them that hate them; they shall be satisfied with the spoil of their kings; by His wisdom he will justify the just, in order to subject many to the law and for their transgression shall He make intercession.”
May Messiah come and may all the enemies of Israel be put to shame.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.