Interest in the so-called “Messiah stone” and the innovative and provocative translation of it by Shalom Hartman Institute Senior Fellow Israel Knohl continues unabated. The Jerusalem Report now wades into the fray with a typically lengthy but thorough piece on the cover of its latest issue. The piece rambles on about the Dead Sea Scrolls for a while before getting to Knohl and the Dead Sea stone, but gives him ample time to explain his theory:
“The story it tells is of an apocalyptic vision of a future war around Jerusalem, as told by the angel Gabriel to an unnamed person,” Knohl tells The Report. Lines 80 and 81 of the text were of especial interest to Knohl. Line 80 begins with the words “by three days,” followed by a word that Knohl reads as “you shall live” and which he construes, not without controversy, as meaning resurrection. The next line speaks of a “prince of princes” who is cast on “rocky crevices,” which he interprets as indicating a bloody death.
In this, says Knohl, we can see an expression of what he terms “catastrophic, suffering messianism.” Under this theory, messianic theology of the late Second Temple period spoke of not one but two messiahs – a militarily triumphal Messiah Son of David, and a suffering Messiah Son of Joseph, both of whom are needed for Israel’s national redemption. In what he calls “Gabriel’s Revelation,” Knohl says, “we see firsthand the telling of the story of a suffering messiah, who is called the prince of princes. This messiah suffers for the sake of the people, is killed and then resurrected after three days.”
The parallels to the New Testament are too strong to be ignored, in Knohl’s opinion.
PS: We must give a major shout out to archeology website archaeoligica.org, which has linked to our publication of Knohl’s translation into English – plus the original Hebrew – text of the stone. Hundreds of archeology buffs have been reading it.