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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Words



Messiah
By Jeff A. Benner
מָשִׁיחַ mashi'ahh

The Hebrew word משיח (mashiach/mah-shee-ahch - where the "ch" is pronounced hard as in the name Bach - Strongs #4899) is usually transliterated as Messiah. Let us first examine how this word is transliterated and translated. In the Tanakh/Old Testament this word is usually translated in the English as "Anointed One" and occasionally transliterated as "Messiah". In the Greek Septuagint (LXX) this Hebrew word is translated with the Greek word "christos" and is transliterated as "Christ".

The root word of meshiyach is the verb mashach (Strong's #4886) meaning "to anoint". In the ancient Hebrew culture is customary to pour oil on the head of one who is being given a position of authority. This practice is called "anointing". One of the most common misunderstandings about meshiyach is that there is only one, but the Tanakh identifies several. The word is used 39 times and just a few of these are listed below.

If the anointed (mashiyach) priest (kohen) sins bringing guilt to the people.... (Leviticus 4:3)

And he (David) said to his men, YHWH forbid me if I should do this thing to my lord (Saul) the anointed (mashiyach) of YHWH (1 Samuel 24:6)

Do not touch my anointed (mashiyach), my prophets do not harm. (1 Chronicles 16:22)

I chose these three passages for one reason, it demonstrates, from an Hebraic perspective, who are mashiyach. The Priests, Kings and Prophets of Israel are the mashiyach of Israel, they are the ones who are anointed as men of authority.

While the original meaning of the word mashiyach is applied to one who is actually anointed with oil, it by extension can also refer to anyone who holds an office of authority whether they were anointed or not. The Tanakh identifies Cyrus, the King of Persia as a mashiyach.

Thus says YHWH to his anointed (mashiyach) Cyrus (the King of Persia)... (Isaiah 45:1)

Without going into the controversy about who the coming mashiyach (Messiah) was, is or will be, our purpose here is to understand the Hebraic concept of who and what a mashiyach is. This will give us a foundation within or our own studies about the mashiyach.



Strong's: #4899



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