“Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish interpreted these verses with the kingships of exile. the earth was chaos – this is Babylon. and void – this is Persia… and darkness – this is Greece, who darkened the eyes of Israel with their decrees… on the face of the deep – this the wicked Kingdom [of Rome], whose power cannot be measured, just as the great deep cannot be plumbed. and the spirit of God hovered – this is the spirit of the Messiah.” (Genesis Rabbah 2:4)
The spirit of G-d is not the spirit of the Messiah. The Messiah is a man that G-d makes suitable for His purpose who is born with a human spirit. The spirit of G-d alights upon him late in a sinful suffering life. He is counted a sinner and diseased.
He is not born from above first and then born into a human body. He did not exist before creation and G-d is not talking to him when G-d says to His spirit (a person G-d created) “let us form man in our image, our likeness”. He is not the Word who was with G-d and was G-d and became flesh in Jesus as Christians believe.
The Messiah is unique among all of the men of the Tanakh however. G-d crushes him with disease (puts him to grief with illness) so that he will offer himself for his guilt and the guilt of the Jewish people to suffer chastisement, bruising, crushing and punishment by G-d’s hand and power until he is suitable for the prosperity of G-d’s purpose.
G-d does the same refinement with Ezekiel to make him suitable for G-d’s purpose and Ezekiel bears the punishment for the House of Israel and Judah. Punishment for their sins. And the House of Israel and Judah were still punished. Ezekiel did not take their punishment he shared it with them just as the righteous servant shares their guilt. The Jewish people are refined in the fire of affliction and so is Ezekiel and the righteous servant of Isaiah 53.
He is the prophet like Moses a redeemer, Elijah the messenger a teacher and herald of the time of the new covenant of the forgiveness of sin, and a descendant of David who battles and wages war (a man after G-d’s own heart). He is by the words of G-d “My righteous servant who makes the many righteous”.
He goes through the experiences of Job with disease, of Jonah and near death and of Ezekiel in the bitterness and fury of his spirit in the hand of G-d. The spirit of G-d alights upon him. They are friends not the same person.
Then another great Medieval thinker, Nachmanides (who was a frequent critic of Maimonides’ hyper-rationalism), comes along and defends the idea that the Torah could be embedded with prophetic allusions to future events. He suggests, in fact, that the Bible can be read as a kind of a long code, with all sorts of secret information encrypted in the form of jumbled letters, numerical patterns, and subtle hints.
Yet Nachmanides isn’t the first to suggest that prophetic clues are hidden in the Torah. In fact, he is not even the first to see Hanukkah in the Torah. That tradition begins with the rabbis of the midrash. And they were even bolder, for they did not bother waiting for the appearance of a Menorah. They found Hanukkah almost immediately, in the very opening lines of Genesis:
“In the beginning, God created heaven and earth — and the earth was chaos and void…
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