Jesus as the Davidic Messiah in Matthew (Part 2 of 2)
Posted by Dr. Michael Barber on 03.01.11
Following up from part 1. Am I missing any major piece of the puzzle here that wouldn’t require a lot of explanation?
- Jesus’ Davidic Exorcistic and Healing Powers. Jesus’ exorcisms and healings seem especially tied to his role as the Davidide. The blind healed by him address him specifically as “son of David” (cf. Matt 9:27; 20:31). Likewise, accounts of his exorcisms are linked with his role as the “son of David” (cf. Matt 15:22). Indeed, David was associated with exorcistic and healing abilities (cf. 1 Sam 16:14–23; Josephus, A.J. 166–68; 11QPsa XI, 2–11; L. A. B. 60:1). There are also numerous ancient references to Solomon’s abilities as an exorcist and healer (cf. Wis 7:20; Josephus, A.J. 8:42–49; Apoc. Adam 7:13).
- The Twelve Appointed by the Son of David (Matt 10:1). Jesus’ appointment of “twelve” no doubt had multifaceted significance. Given the other Solomonic echoes present in Jesus’ ministry, it is perhaps noteworthy that Solomon appointed twelve officers (1 Kgs 4:20). Furthermore, as many have noted, the imagery likely points to eschatological hopes involving the expectation of the ingathering of the twelve tribes, including the twelve northern tribes lost since the Assyrian exile. Indeed, the image of a Pan-Israelite kingdom was uniquely linked with David and Solomon, the two kings who alone reigned over all twelve tribes. Not surprisingly then the hope for the restoration of the twelve tribes was frequently linked with Davidic figures. Thus, as others have noted, the period of the united kingdom of David and Solomon provided the ideal model for futurist expectations. Scholars have therefore suggested that Jesus’ ministry in Galilee should be understood against such a backdrop, i.e., as an attempt to restore the unity that once existed under David and Solomon.
- Jesus’ Solomonic Wisdom. That Jesus is able to answer those with “hard questions” appears related to Solomonic traditions. As the Queen of Sheba came to “test” (LXX 1 Kgdms 10:1: πειράζοντες) Solomon with hard questions, Jesus responds to those who sought to “test” him (cf. Matt 19:3: πειράζων; 22:35: πειράζων).
- The Son of David Enters the City. The picture of Jesus riding on a colt into a city amidst a shouting crowd clearly resembles Solomon’s coronation (1 Kgs 1:33, 38). Matthew specifically links Jesus’ entry into the city with Zechariah’s eschatological prophecy of a coming king (Zech 9:9), a passage that appears modeled on Davidic and Solomonic traditions. Indeed, the evangelist clearly links this event to Davidic traditions: the crowd responds, “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matt 21:9). Although some scholars question whether Jesus actually intended the allusion, to think that he was not aware of what his action would evoke stretches the imagination, especially given the fact that others apparently readily made the connection to Davidic traditions!
- The Passion of the Davidic King. It is particularly in the passion narrative in Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus’ royal identity is especially underscored. he suffers as “the King of the Jews” (Matt 27:29, 37). Caiaphas directly links Jesus’ supposed identity as “Christ” with “divine sonship status,” a connection which as we mentioned above suggests a Davidic pedigree to his messianic identity. The connection between his messianic role as his identity as son of God is also made by those at the foot of the cross (Matt 27:40, 42). In light of this it is perhaps significant that Jesus’ passion is consistently linked with imagery from Davidic psalms (e.g., Matt 27:46=Ps 22:1; Matt 27:29=22:8; etc.)—i.e., Jesus’ suffering is cast in Davidic terms. Indeed, there are numerous parallels between David’s suffering and Jesus’: (1) like Jesus, he was himself betrayed by a confidant (1 Sam 15:21); as Jesus does after the Last Supper, David went up to the Mount of Olives when his life was being sought (1 Sam 15:23; Matt 26:30); David’s betrayer hung himself, like Judas (1 Sam 17:23; Matt 27:5).
 Especially important is the combination in Josephus’ account of Solomon’s exorcistic abilities with his role as healer (cf. A.J. 8.45: “And God granted him knowledge of the art used against demons for the benefit of healing men” [Marcus, LCL]). See also the discussion in Meier, A Marginal Jew, 2:689. In addition, see the exorcistic connections made with Solomon in the Aramaic magical texts discussed by Loren Fisher, “Can This Be the Son of David?,” in Jesus and the Historian: Written in Honor of Ernest Cadman Colwell (ed. F. T. Trotter; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968), 82–97; J. A. Montgomery, Aramaic Incantation Texts from Nippur (Philadelphia: The University Museum, 1913), 232; Cyrus H. Gordon, “Aramaic Magical Bowls in the Istanbul and Baghdad Museums,” ArOr 6 (1934): 319–34, 466–74; C. D. Isbell, Corpus of the Aramaic Incantation Bowls (SBLDS 17; Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press, 1975), 108-111, 114-115.
 Sanders writes, “The fact is that the number twelve itself, a part from the details of any individual saying, points to ‘all Israel’” (Jesus and Judaism, 104).
 See, e.g., Isa 9:1–9; 11:1, 11–13; Jer 23:5–6; 30:1–11; Ezek 34:23–31; 37:15–19; Pss. of Sol. 17:31. As Laato points out, the two most celebrated Davidic kings after Solomon, Hezekiah and Josiah, both exhibited the concern for the northern tribes (2 Chr 30:10; 34:6, 33). See Antti Laato, A Star is Rising: The Historical Development of the Old Testament Royal Ideology and the Rise of the Jewish Messianic Expectations (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997), 233.
 In fact, the Dead Sea Scrolls frequently merge historical texts about David with an eschatological expectations (e.g., 4Q174 [4QFlorilegium] frags. 1 col. i, 21, 2; 4Q457b [4QEschatological Hymn]; 4Q504 (4QDibHama) I-II; 4Q522 [4QProphecy of Joshua] IX]. See Yuzuru Miura, David in Luke-Acts, 70–77. See also Shemaryahu Talmon, “‘Exile’ and ‘Restoration’ in the Conceptual World of Ancient Judaism,” in Restoration: Old Testament, Jewish & Christian Perspectives (SJSJ 72; ed. J. M. Scott; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 119: “the glorified ‘golden age’ of David and Solomon . . . becomes the matrix of an idealized portrayal of a future reconstitution of the realm . . . in its former boundaries, with its sociopolitical institutions and apparatus.” Likewise, see Aune, “Restoration in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature,” in Restoration, 159: “[the restoration was] often linked with the related themes of the recovery of the land and the re-establishment of the monarchy. . .”
 In particular, see the insightful research in Joel Willitts, Matthew’s Messianic Shepherd-King: In Search of the The host Sheep of the House of Israel’ (BNZW 127; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007). Willitts writes, “Within the parameters of the Gospel of Matthew, the mission of Jesus and his disciples to ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ is particular, temporal and Galilean. It is a mission to remnants of the Northern Kingdom within the Greater Galilean region who still lay in exile’” (229). See also David Ravens, Luke and the Restoration of Israel (JSOTSup 119; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), 99: “This restoration did not just entail the Jews alone but something altogether more grand: nothing less than a return to the unity that had once existed under David.”
 It seems clear that the imagery in Zechariah 9:9 was linked with Davidic traditions. Not only does the passage use language reminiscent of Solomon’s entrance into Jerusalem (1 Kgs 1:33, 38), the vision also includes language in verse 10 (ומשלו מים עד־ים ומנהר עד־אפסי־ארץ) which also appears in Psalm 72, a psalm whose superscription links it to Solomon (וירד מים עד־ים ומנהר עד־אפסי־ארץ). In addition, the territory mentioned in Zechariah 9:1–8 includes the boundaries of David’s empire. See P. D. Hanson, “Zechariah 9 and the Recapitulation of an Ancient Ritual Patter,” JBL 92 (1973): 48–50 [37–59]; idem., The Dawn of Apocalyptic (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1989), 317–20; Wilhelm Rudolph, Haggai, Sacharja 1–8, Sacharja 9–14 (KAT 13/4; Güttersloh: Mohn, 1976), 170.
 It should also be pointed out that the crowds’ action of spreading garments on the ground before him (Matt 21:8), mirrors the way the people greet the newly crowned king of Israel in 2 Kings 9:13. This parallel has been noted by many scholars, e.g., Brent Kinman, “Jesus’ Royal Entry into Jerusalem,” in Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus (WUNT 247; eds. D. L. Bock and R. Webb; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2010), 405 n. 58; R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 779; William Craig Lane, The Gospel of Mark (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 433. Against this backdrop it is interesting that the crowds also seem to evoke Tabernacles imagery by citing Psalm 118 and using branches (cf. Matt 21:8; John 12:13), a feast which also seems to have been linked with the enthronement of the king. See Andrew C. Brunson, Psalm 118 in the Gospel of John: An Intertextual Study on the New Exodus (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 42–45. The use of such imagery does not necessarily imply that the entrance took place on Tabernacles as T.W. Manson suggested (“The Cleansing of the Temple,” BJRL 33 [1950–1951]: 271–82), but may imply an improvised celebration (e.g., France, Gospel of Matthew, 779), which was meant to evoke such traditions.
 See, e.g., Paula Fredriksen, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (New York: Vintage, 1999), 247.
 For a fuller discussion see Stephen P. Ahearne-Kroll, The Psalms of Lament in Mark’s Passion: Jesus’ Davidic Suffering (SNTSMS 142; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
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