Mashiach ben Josef and Mashiach ben David: Two of Them?

Question

Please explain the Messiah ben Joseph and the Messiah ben David. How can their be two Messiahs? If there are sources, please provide them. Very interesting!

, , 2 months

Answers

  1. When the term “Messiah” is generally referring to a direct descendant of King David, from the tribe of Judah. He is therefore known as Mashiach ben David or Messiah the son of David. There is also a tradition that there will be another Messiah, from the tribe of Ephraim, the son of Joseph, who will precede Mashiach ben David. He is therefore known as Mashiach ben Yosef or Mashiach ben Ephraim.

    There is a tradition that Israel’s enemies will succumb only to a descendant of Joseph. Therefore, Mashiach ben Josef will be the one who will lead Israel to victory in the war of Gog and Magog. This is the meaning of the verse, “The house of Jacob will be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble. They will set them ablaze, and consume them – there will be no survivor of the house of Esau, for God has spoken” (Ovadiah 1:18)

    Elijah the prophet will announce the Messiah’s coming.

    Concerning the relationship between the two Messiahs – the initial Messiah, Mashiach ben Josef, and the final Messiah, Mashiach ben David – the prophet declared, “Ephraim’s envy will depart and Judah’s adversaries will be cut off. Ephraim will not envy Judah, and Judah will not harass Ephraim” (Isaiah 11:13). That is, each Messiah will perform his appointed task, and without any jealousy. It is also written, “Son of man, take a stick, and write upon it, ‘For Judah, and the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick, and write upon it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ Join them together into one stick, so that they are one in your hand” (Ezekiel 37:16-17).

    According to tradition, the initial Messiah, Mashiach ben Josef, will fight and be killed in the war of Gog and Magog. He will be mourned by all Israel, as it is written, “They shall look to Me because they have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns his first born son” (Zechariah 12:10).

    Before the appearance of the final Messiah, Mashiach ben David, a prophet will arise to announce his coming and to draw the Jewish people back to God. This prophet is referred to as Elijah the prophet. It is written, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of God” (Malachi 3:23). His primary task will be to bring peace to the world by leading all people back to God. The prophecy concludes: “He will turn the ears of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I (i.e God) come and strike the world with destruction” (Malachi 3:24).

    May we merit seeing the complete fulfillment of this prophecy very soon!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team