book of Psalms plays an important role in revealing the nature and character of
the Messiah, both Jewish and Christian interpreters agree on this point.
Even when Christian
and Jewish interpreters agree a Psalm or a verse in the Psalms is
messianic, the conclusion they draw often differs, revolving around the
nature and character of Messiah.
example, using Psalm 110, Jesus asked the Pharisees a question
about the nature of Messiah, if messiah is Son of David, why does David
call him (Matthew 22;42) Lord? For the most part, Jewish rabbinical
interpreters feel Psalm 110 is messianic, the question is, what it
reveals about the Messiah.
Psalms play a greater role then others; however, within the Psalms we
see the dual nature of Messiah. He is portrayed as both a conquering
king and a rejected persecuted servant. Also important to
note, is many of the Psalms have an earlier fulfillment, with a greater
fulfillment in the Messiah. Many of the Psalms, which portray Messiah as
king and ruler, Jews and Christians find agreement, although the nature
of the king might be disagreed upon, the context of Messiah being King
areas in Psalms where Christian and Jewish interpretations find
themselves at odds is the portrayal of the “Suffering Servant” aspect of
the Messiah. Here, Jewish writers have a vigorous disagreement with the
Christian understanding of Messiah.
contrasting nature of the Psalms and the nature of Messiah is clearly
demonstrated in the 2nd and the 22nd Psalm. In
the 2nd Psalm, Messiah is viewes as king of the earth, in the
22nd we have a man, rejected, scorned and mocked by his
people. This same man then leads praises to God in the midst of his
The first question,
we need to ask is did the Rabbis apply the 2nd Psalm to the
Messiah? The answer is yes, the Rabbis clearly saw this Psalm as
Messianic. See chart below:
views of the 2nd Psalm
Talmud, Sukkah 52a
Our Rabbis taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the
Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our
days!), 'Ask of me anything, and I will give it to thee', as it
is said, I will tell of the decree etc. this day have I begotten
thee, ask of me and I will give the nations for thy inheritance
[Psalms 2:7-8]. -- Soncino Talmud edition.
Jonathan said: Three persons were bidden 'ask', viz.: Solomon,
Ahaz, and the King Messiah. Solomon: Ask what I shall give thee
(1 Kings III, 5). Ahaz: Ask thee a sign (Isa. VII, 11). The King
Messiah: Ask of Me, etc. (Ps. II, 8).-- Soncino Midrash Rabbah
(vol. 1, pp. 365-366).
Eliezer (9th c.), Section 28, on verse 1
All the nations will be gathered together to fight with the Son
of David, as it is said: The kings of the earth set themselves,
-- Cited in A. Lukyn Williams, A Manual of Christian
Evidences for Jewish People (London: Society for Promoting
Christian Knowledge, 1919), vol. 2, p. 123. The Hebrew is from
the Lemberg edition of 1874. Williams adds: "It should, however,
be stated that the MS. translated by Mr. G. Friedlander (1916)
reads 'the house of David' instead of 'the Son of David.' Yet
even that MS. is referring to events still future."
interpreted the subject of this Psalm with reference to King
Messiah, but according to its plain meaning it will be right to
expound it of David himself...
-- Cited in
A. Lukyn Williams, A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish
People (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
1919), vol. 2, pp. 122-123.
on Psalms (11th c.)
This day have I begotten thee [Psalm 2:7]. R. Huna said:
Suffering is divided into three portions: one, the Patriarchs
and all the generations of men took; one, the generation that
lived in the time of [Hadrian's] persecution took; and one, the
generation of the lord Messiah will take. When the time comes,
the Holy One, blessed be He, will say: "I must create the
Messiah -- a new creation." As Scripture says, This day have I
begotten thee -- that is, on the very day of redemption, God
will create the Messiah.
Ask of Me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine
inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession (Ps.
2:8). God, speaking to the Messiah, says: If thou dost ask for
dominion over the nations, already they are thine inheritance;
if for the ends of the earth, already they are thy
possession. R. Johanan taught: To three men -- Solomon, Ahaz,
and the lord Messiah -- the Holy One, blessed be He, said, "Ask
of me." To Solomon, as is written In Gibeon the Lord appeared to
Solomon in a dream by night; and God said: "Ask what I shall
give thee" (1 Kings 3:5). To Ahaz, as is written "Ask thee a
sign of the Lord thy God: ask it either in the depth, or in the
height above" (Isa. 7:11)....To the lord Messiah, as is written
Ask of Me, and I will give thee the nations for thine
inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession.
Williams G. Braude, translator, The Midrash on Psalms (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1987, © 1959; Yale Judaica
Series), vol. 1, pp. 41-44.
(11th c.), introduction to Sanhedrin, chapter 10
The prophets and the saints have longed for the days of the
Messiah, and great has been their desire towards him, for there
will be with him the gathering together of the righteous and the
administration of good, and wisdom, and royal righteousness,
with the abundance of his uprightness and the spread of his
wisdom, and his approach to God, as it is said: The Lord said
unto me, Thou art my son, to-day have I begotten thee.
in A. Lukyn Williams, A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish
People (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
1919), vol. 2, p. 122.
Kimchi (13th c.), comment on verse 12
There are those who interpret this psalm of Gog and Magog, and
the "anointed" as the King Messiah; and thus did our rabbis of
blessed memory interpret it (b. Berachot 7b).
Hebrew cited in A. Lukyn Williams, A Manual of Christian
Evidences for Jewish People (London: Society for Promoting
Christian Knowledge, 1919), vol. 2, p. 121. The Hebrew is from
the edition of Schiller-Szinessy. English translation by Rich
Robinson. Kimchi himself interpreted psalm as referring to King
David, but his comment shows that the traditional interpretation
c.), Section 621, similar to the Midrash on Psalms quoted above:
On verse 7: R. Huna said in the name of R. Idi, In three
parts were the punishments divided: one for King Messiah, and
when His hour cometh the Holy One, blessed be He, saith, I must
make a new covenant with Him, and so He saith, To-day have I
On verse 9: "Thou wilt bruise them with a rod of iron"; this is Messiah
in A. Lukyn Williams, A Manual of Christian Evidences for Jewish
People (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
1919), vol. 2, pp. 121-122.
Question, the 2nd Psalm was applied in a Messianic context to
King Messiah. There are various aspects of this application, which are
worth discussion. Jewish and Christian interpreters agree Psalm 2,
could have been applied to David, with the greater fulfillment in
Messiah. The characteristic of this individual ruling the nations is
characteristic of Messiah, who will one day govern the earth, both from
Christian and Jewish eschatological perspectives (last things).
nature of Messiah presented here has stirred most of the debate. In the
2nd Psalm, Messiah is addressed as son, “You are my Son”, in
verse 7. The question, what does this term really mean, is the LORD
calling the messiah, “Son”? And what kind of son, metaphorical,
physical? What does this tell us about the nature of the Messiah? The
2nd Psalm raises all these questions.
Press Complete Tanach
Bible: JPS Tanakh Version
7 "I will
declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, 'You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those
who put their trust in Him. Psalm 2:7,8
tell of the decree; The Lord said to me, "You are My son; this
day have I begotten you.
yourselves with purity lest He become angry and you perish in
the way, for in a moment His wrath will be kindled; the praises
of all who take refuge in Him.
7. Let me
tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are My son, I have
fathered you this day.
homage in good faith, lest He be angered, and your way be doomed
in the mere flash of His anger. Happy are all who take refuge in
Study Bible comments
The Jewish Study
Bible has the following comments regarding these verses.
Adoption language expresses the close kingship between God and the king,
and is common in the ancient Near East. Some biblical passages may
suggest that some groups in ancient Israel viewed the king as divine;
see 45.7 n. The son language here has played a significant role in
medieval Jewish-Christian polemic (e.g, the final comment of Radak on
this psalm). The decree cited may be 2 Sam. 7.14, where God says to
David concerning his heir; “I will be a father to him, and he shall be
a son to Me.”
in a rhetorical flourish, God is depicted as speaking directly to the
foreign monarchs. A similar depiction of the centrality of God and Zion
for all nations is also found in Isa. 2.2-4, but is there in an
eschatological setting. 12: As noted, the translation in good
faith is uncertain. The Heb word “bar” can also mean “son,” especially
in Aramaic, and this has sometimes been connected to the divinely
adopted son (“ben”) in v. 7.
is the Son?
question about this verse comes down too, who is the Son?
Christians understand the Son to be Messiah who is God incarnated into
to the world, in the body of man, through of the virgin Mary, fully God
and fully man. Jesus was fully God in Heaven, who took upon Himself
humanity, to die for the sins of the world. At the incarnation he became
the “The Son” fulfilling the promise made to David (2 Samuel 7:14) in
the Psalm 2:7,12 and in 2nd Samuel. To understand this
concept, we see God, manifested in human form, sitting on His throne,
surrounded by the angels, speaking to Ezekiel. Here the LORD appears to
Ezekiel, as a man. Jesus is the human manifestation of God’s glory, “the
glory of the Lord” in the world, the difference being Jesus was born
into the world, to bear the sins of the world, as opposed to appearing
in glory to the prophets. (glory of the lord, see Exodus 16:7,10;
24:16,17; 40:34-35; Leviticus 9:6,23;, I Kings 8:11, Isaiah 40:5,
Ezekiel 3:12,23, 10:4,18; 43:4,5; 44:4)
the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord; for He hears
your complaints against the Lord. But what are we, that you complain
26 And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a
throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the
throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. 27
Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the
color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and
from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the
appearance of fire with brightness all around. 28 Like the appearance of
a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the
brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the
glory of the Lord. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I
heard a voice of One speaking.
the Jewish scriptures, the “Glory of the Lord” is the visible
manifestation of the LORD, this is exactly who Jesus (Yeshua) was, He
was the visible manifestation of LORD in human flesh. This understanding
of the nature of the Son is validated in the 2nd Psalm verse
12, where humanity is told to put their “Trust” in the Son, lest they
‘Perish in the way”.
The Jewish understanding is the Messiah called “son”, is figurative, not
that the “Son” is God, but only an exalted man, the Son of David,
on whom the Lord bestows the kingdom. For this reason, verse 12 becomes
central to the discussion of the 2nd Psalm. Verse 12,
instructs the reader to action, is the instruction about the “Son” or
final verse, the reader is told to “Kiss the Son” (NKJV) and “Put their
trust in Him”, leading to the Jewish objection.
Psalm 2:12 “Kiss the Son” is translated incorrectly in order
to justify the Christian doctrine Jesus is the “Son of God”!
to Objection 1:
Reading the Rabbinical commentaries, we can see, the 2nd
Psalm is clearly understood as messianic, both by Christian and Jewish
interpreters. Along with the messianic nature of the 2nd
Psalm, the Messiah is also called “Son” in both the Hebrew and
Aramaic languages. Using the Hebrew word,
in verse 7 and the Aramaic
in verse 12.
subject of this Psalm is the LORD and His anointed (His Messiah) (xyXm
in verse 2, and how
the nations (ywg
are in conflict with
them. The nations, forced to submit to the rule of the Messiah, resist
the LORD’s will, God in heaven laughs at the nations who reject His
rule. The LORD then declares He will yet set His king over Mt. Zion
(Jerusalem), declaring to King Messiah, “You are My Son”.
"Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion." 7 "I will declare the
decree: The Lord has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten
You. 8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession. 9 You shall break them
with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's
nations will be subjected to the LORD and His anointed (Messiah); the
Messiah’s power over the nations will be complete. Like the power to
smash a vessel of pottery, the Messiah will have power over the
nations. This context is important for the reader to understand the
meaning of the 12th verse.
In the 12th verse, we read,(
(Son)) “Kiss the son” (bar being the Aramaic form) some
translations have chosen to read bar as var meaning purity and nashaq
as yearn instead of kiss, “ yearning for purity”, rather then
the literal rendering. Their argument being there is no room for an
Aramaic word, in the Psalms, therefore it must be read as var
rather then bar. Dr. Michael Brown comments on this conflict in
volume 3, of his series, “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus”,
Ibn Ezra, possibly the most exacting of the medieval Jewish commentators
and a man with no sympathy for Christian interpretations of the Tanakh,
understood bar to mean “son’ with reference to Proverbs 31:2. Other
Jewish scholars—some traditional and some not—have also interpreted the
text in similar terms, including A.B. Ehrlich, A. Sh. Hartom (in his
fairly traditional Psalms commentary, where “son” is mentioned as a
possibility),….There is also an interesting mystical interpretation
provided in the Zohar that equates bar with the son of God: “You
are the good shepherd: of you it is said, “Kiss the son” You are great
here below, the teacher of Israel, the Lord of the serving angels, the
son of the Most High, the son of the Holy One, may His name be praised
and His Holy Spirit [Shekhinah]
Therefore, the word bar translated son is not a “Christian” creation,
but an issue, which is even debated within Judaism itself. The
Syriac Peshitta understood bar as “son”: other ancient
versions (Greek , Aramaic, Latin) understood the meaning to be “purity”,
“chastity”, “discipline”, “pure”, “unmixed”, (reading the Hebrew as
either bar or bor).
In contrast to the 2nd Psalm, the 22nd Psalm,
pictures an individual who suffers. Who is this suffering person in the
22nd Psalm? According to the Jewish Study Bible,
this psalm of David is read on Purim and is viewed by Jewish
tradition as David lamenting over the future exile of his people in the
book of Esther.
Christian interpreters see the 22nd Psalm as looking forward
to the Messiah, who would fulfill its words by “Suffering” for the sins
of the people in accordance with Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Daniel 9:26.
22 New King James Version
1 My God,
My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from
helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?
6 But I
am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by
those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they
shake the head, saying,
trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver
Him, since He delights in Him!"
9 But You
are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while
on My mother's breasts.
14 I am
poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My
heart is like wax; It has melted within Me.
strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings
to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.
dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has
enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet;
17 I can
count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.
divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast
22 I will
declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the
assembly I will praise You.
22:1,6-9, 14-18, 22
(JPS Tanakh Version)
God, Why have you abandoned me; why so far from delivering
me and from my anguished roaring?
6  But
I am a worm, less than human; scorned by men, despised by
7  All
who see me mock me; “ they curl their lips,” they shake
“Let him commit himself to the LORD; let Him rescue him, let
Him save him, for He is pleased with him.”
You drew me from the womb, made me secure at my mother’s
My life ebbs away; all my bones are disjointed; my heart is
like wax, melting within me;
my vigor dries up like a shard;
cleaves to my palate; You commit me to the dust of death
Dogs surround me;
a pack of
evil ones closes in on me, like lions [they maul] my hands
They divide my clothes among themselves, casting lots for my
Then will I proclaim Your fame to my brethren, praise You in
The scene according
to Christian interpretation is of Messiah on the cross, “Suffering”
rejection and death for the sins of humanity. According to the Gospel of
Matthew, Jesus cried out the first lines of the 22nd before
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying,
"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You
forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46
1: The 22nd Psalm speaks about the past suffering
of David or the nation not about the Messiah.
to Objection 1:
Psalm has had various interpretations within Judaism, including
messianic, as well as David and the nation of Israel.
applies the 22nd Psalm to the Jewish nation, giving it a
prophetic national application. While other Jewish writers have even
applied this to the Son of David, the Messiah (not the Jesus of the New
Testament). The 8th century midrash, Pesikta Rabbati,
uses the words of the 22nd Psalm, applying them to the
suffering Messiah. According to the midrash, David looking forward to
the suffering of his son (The Messiah) the son of David, says, My
strength is dried like a potsherd (Psalm 22;16). Dr. Brown quotes
from this Midrash,
the seven-year period preceding the coming of the son of David, iron
beams will be brought low and loaded upon his neck until the Messiah’s
body is bent low. Then he will cry and weep, and his voice will rise to
the very height of heaven, and he will say o God; Master of the
universe, how much can my strength endure? How much can my spirit
endure? How much my breath before it ceases? How much can my limbs
suffer? Am I not flesh and blood?
It was because of the ordeal of the son of David that David wept,
saying My strength is dried up like a potsherd (Ps. 22;16).
During the ordeal of the son of David, the Holy One, blessed be He, will
say to him; Ephraim, My true Messiah, long ago, ever since the six days
of creation, thou didst take this ordeal upon thyself. At this moment,
thy pain is like my pain.
It is taught,
moreover, that in the month of Nisan the Patriarchs will arise and say
to the Messiah; Ephraim, our true Messiah, even though we are thy
forebears, thou art greater than we because thou didst suffer for the
iniquities of our children, and terrible ordeals befell thee….
For the sake of
Israel thou didst become a laughingstock and a derision among the
nations of the earth; and thou didst sit in darkness, in thick darkness,
and thine eyes saw no light, and thy skin cleaved to they bones, and thy
body was as dry as a piece of wood; and thine eyes grew dim from
fasting, and thy strength was dried up like a potsherd—all these
afflictions on account of the iniquities of our children.
is a darling son to Me…My heart yearneth for him, in mercy I will have
mercy upon him, saith the Lord (Jer. 31:20). Why does the verse speak
twice of mercy; In mercy I will have mercy upon him? One mercy refers
to the time when he ill be shut up in prison, a time when the nations of
the world will gnash their teeth at him every day, wink they eyes at one
another in derision of him, nod their heads at him contempt, open wide
their lips to guffaw, as is said All they that see me laugh me to
scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head (Ps. 22;8); My
strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my
throat; and thou layest me in the dust of death ( Ps. 22;16).
Moreover, they will roar over him like lions, as is said they open wide
their mouth against me, as a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out
like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is become like
wax; it is melted in mine inmost parts (Ps. 22;14-15)
Here we see, in the 8th century, Rabbis saw the 22nd
Psalm apply in a prophetic sense to the suffering of the Messiah.
Understanding this as fulfilled by a person is the best literal reading
of the verse. To interpret this as referring to the nation of Israel,
is creating symbolism where the literal reading is clearly seen.
Regarding David, the events in David’s life in some ways match the
events of the 22nd Psalm, especially when David was pursued
and rejected by his own son, however the events directly match the life
of Jesus who was a “Son of David”, who was pierced, rejected and mocked
by the nation in His suffering.
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My
46 And about
the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli,
Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have
You forsaken Me?" Matthew 22:46
"He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!"
the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders,
42 "He saved
others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let
Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.
trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him;
for He said, 'I am the Son of God.' "
16 For dogs
have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed
Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; Psalm 22:16
they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either
side, and Jesus in the center. John 19:18
20 When He
had said this, He showed them His hands and His side.
Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. John 20:20
divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they
cast lots. Psalm22:18
23 Then the
soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments
and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the
tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one
24 They said
therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast
lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be
fulfilled which says: "They divided My garments among them, And
for My clothing they cast lots." Therefore the soldiers did
these things. John 19:23-24
Psalm also corresponds to the image of the “Suffering Righteous Servant”
of Isaiah 52:13:53:12, who suffers rejection, is despised, pierced and
killed. His death is for the sins of the people, the same servant is
exalted extolled. In the 22nd Psalm, the rejected individual
in this Psalm declares God’s glory to his brethren, picturing the
victorious “Suffering Servant”, matching Isaiah 53 picture.
22 I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly
I will praise You. Psalm 22:22
2: Psalm 22 does not speak of death by crucifixion, the
King James writers changed the words of verses 16 to say “Piercing”
the sufferer’s hands and feet, while the Hebrew text says, “Like a lion
they are at my hands and feet.”
Reply to Objection 2: First,
the verses regarding the piercing are not quoted by New Testament
writers, Secondly, the translation of pierced is backed up the
Septugint and the Dead Sea Scrolls. So the translation problem here
is not only a Christian problem its also a Jewish problem.
interpreters claim the Christians have misinterpreted Psalm 22:16 
because in the Masoretic text the verse reads ka’ari
followed by my hand and my feet. The word ka (like) followed by ari
(lion) means like a lion. The imagery here presents the picture of
“Like a lion” my hands and my feet are mauled. In the older Dead Sea
Scrolls version of Psalms 22 the word is ka’aru meaning, “to dig
out” or “to bore through”
issue of pierced is not so much a question of the King James
translators, as much an issue of Jewish manuscripts. Dr. Michael Brown
sums up this argument succinctly,
Rashi, the meaning is “as though they are crushed in a lion’s mouth.”
While the commentary of Metsudat David states, “They crush my hands and
my feet as the lion which crushes the bones of the prey in its mouth.”
Thus, the imagery is clear; These lions are not licking the psalmist’s
feet! They are tearing and ripping at them. Given the metaphorical
language of the surrounding verses (cf. vv. 12-21 [13-22]), this vivid
image of mauling lions graphically conveys the great physical agony of
…Where did the King
James translators come up with this idea of ‘piercing’ the hands and
feet? That’s not what the Hebrew says.” …..
Septuagint, the oldest existing Jewish translation of the Tanakh, was
the first to translate the Hebrew as “they pierced my hands and feet”
(using the verb oruxan in Greek), followed by the Syriach
Peshitta version two or three centuries later (rendering with baz’u)
not only so, but the oldest Hebrew copy of the Psalms we possess (from
the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to the century before Yeshua) reads the
verb in this verse as ka’aru (not ka’ari, “like a lion”),
a reading also found in about a dozen medieval Masoretic
manuscripts—recognized as the authoritative texts in traditional Jewish
thought—where instead of ka’ari (found in almost all other Masoretic
manuscripts) the texts say either ka’aru or karu.
conclusion, the Dead Sea scrolls agrees with the picture of the pierced
Messiah in the 22nd Psalm, verse 16.