By Sam Shamoun
We continue from where we left off by examining another OT text which points to the essential Deity and universal sovereignty of the Messiah:
“As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being[a] coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One[b] and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14
a. Daniel 7:13 Aram one like a son of man
b. Daniel 7:13 Aram the Ancient of Days (The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary; underline emphasis ours)
Here we have the prophet Daniel being shown a vision in which he sees a divine Being with a human appearance coming into kingly power and receiving universal worship. That this figure is divine is confirmed by the fact that he rides the clouds, a function which the OT ascribes only to Yahweh, and receives the exact same worship that God himself receives (cf. Daniel 7:27; 3:12, 14, 17-18, 28; 6:16, 20, 26; Psalm 22:27-30; 68:4, 33-34; 86:9; 104:3; Isaiah 19:1; 66:23; Nahum 1:3).
We will again let Bart Ehrman bring out the significance of Daniel’s prophecy, as he explains the interpretation given to it by the Jewish Pseudepigraphal writing attributed to Enoch:
“… For our purposes a precise date is not particularly important. What matters is the exalted character of the Son of Man. Many great and glorious things are said in the Similitudes about this person–who now is thought of as a divine being, rather than, say, as the nation of Israel. We are told that he was given a name ‘even before the creation of he sun and the moon, before the creation of the stars’ (1 En. 48. 2-3). We are told that all the earth will fall down and worship him. BEFORE CREATION he was concealed in the presence of God himself, but he was always God’s chosen one, and it is he who revealed God’s wisdom to the righteous and holy, who will be ‘saved in his name,’ since ‘it is his good pleasure that they have life’ (48. 2-7).
“At the end of time, when all the dead are resurrected, it is he, the ‘Elect One,’ who will sit on God’s throne (51.3). From this ‘throne of glory’ he will ‘judge all the works of the holy ones in heaven above, weighing in the balance their deeds’ (61.8). HE HIMSELF IS ETERNAL: ‘He shall never pass away or perish before the face of the earth.’ And ‘all evil shall disappear before his face’ (69.79)…
“At one point the cosmic judge of the earth is called the messiah–a term we will consider more fully in the next chapter. For now, it is enough to say that it comes from the Hebrew word for anointed and was originally more used of the king of Israel, God’s anointed one (i.e., the one chosen and favored by God. Now the ruler anointed by God is not a mere mortal; HE IS A DIVINE BEING WHO HAS ALWAYS EXISTED, who sits beside God on his throne, who will judge the wicked and the righteous at the end of time. He, in other words, is elevated to God’s own status and functions as the divine being who carries God’s judgment on the earth. This is an exalted figure indeed, as exalted as one can possibly be without actually being the Lord God Almighty himself. It is striking that A LATER EDITION to the Similitudes, chapters 70-71, identifies this Son of Man as none other than Enoch. In this SOMEWHAT LATER VIEW, it is a man, a mere mortal, who is exalted to this supreme position next to God. As this exalted being, the Son of Man is worshiped and glorified by the righteous.” (Ibid., pp. 66-67; bold and capital emphasis ours)(1)
Pay careful attention to Ehrman’s statement that the book of Enoch identifies the Son of Man as an eternal being, one who has always existed since this will prove to be quite significant, as we shall see shortly. Ehrman continues:
“In an interesting and compelling study, Alan Segal, a scholar of ancient Judaism, argues that the rabbis were particularly concerned about a notion, which was evidently widespread in parts of Judaism, that along with God in heaven there was a chosen power on the divine throne. Following these Jewish sources, Segal refers to these two–God and the other–as the ‘two powers in heaven.’ The Son of Man figure whom we have just examined would be one such divine figure, as he shares the status and power of God…” (Ibid., p. 68; bold emphasis ours)
The Book of Enoch isn’t the only Jewish writing to identify the Son of Man as the Messiah, since this is a view that is quite widespread within the Jewish sources.
one like a man was coming: THAT IS THE KING MESSIAH.
and… up to the Ancient of Days: Who was sitting in judgment and judging the nations.
came: arrived, reached. (The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary; capital, italic and underline emphasis ours)
This next quotation is quite remarkable:
“I will now proceed to my exposition. 13 Behold my servant shall have understanding. From the prophet’s saying ‘understanding,’ it may be seen that all the lofty predicates which he assigns to him have their source in this attribute; in virtue of his comprehensive intelligence he will attain an elevation above that even of the most perfect men in the world. He shall be high and exalted, and lofty exceedingly. According to the Midrash of our Rabbis; he will be higher than Abraham, who was first of all a ‘high father,’ and afterwards a father of a multitude. He will be more exalted than Moses, who was ‘exalted’ above the exalted ones of Levi (cf. Num. iii. 32), who was a prophet such that ‘none arose like him in Israel,’ (Deut. xxxiv. 10), who ‘saved’ Israel ‘with a great salvation’ (cf. I Chron. xi. 14) when they came out of Egypt, and the report of whom spread into all places until ‘the dukes of Edom were confounded’ before him, and ‘trembling seized the mighty men of Moab, and all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away’ (Ex. xv. 15). But this one will be exalted far above Moses: for when he gathers together our scattered ones from the four corners of the earth, he will be exalted in the eyes of all the kings in the whole world, and all of them will serve him, and will exalt him above them, as Daniel prophesies concerning him, ‘All nations, peoples, and tongues shall serve him’ (Dan. vii. 14, 27). He will be loftier than Solomon, whose dignity was so lofty that he is said to have ‘sat on the throne of the Lord’ (I Chron. xxix. 23), and our Rabbis say that he was king over both the upper and the nether world. But the King Messiah, in his ALL-COMPREHENDING INTELLIGENCE, will be loftier than Solomon. Exceedingly above the ministering angels, because that same comprehensive intelligence will approach [God] more nearly than theirs. For it is an exceedingly high privilege, that one whose nature is compound and material should attain to a grade of intelligence more nearly Divine than that which belongs to the incorporeal; and so it is said of him that ‘his strength is greater than that of the ministering angels,’ because these have no impediment in the exercise of their intellect, whereas that which is compound is continually impeded in consequence of material element in its nature. Accordingly, the grade of his intelligence being such as this, he is said to be ‘lofty exceedingly,’ and his strength to be ‘greater than the angels.’… And when this ‘servant of the Lord’ is born, he will continue to be marked by the possession of intelligence enabling him to acquire from God what it is impossible for any to acquire until he reaches that height wither none of the sons of men, EXCEPT HIM, have ever ascended: from that day he will be counted with his people Israel, and will share their subjugation and distress; ‘in all their affliction’ (Is. lxiii. 9) he will be exceedingly afflicted; and because of their being outcasts and scattered to the ends of the world, his grief will be such that the colour of his countenance will be changed from that of a man, and pangs and sicknesses will seize him (for great grief, as physicians know, by producing melancholy, subjects a man to many diseases); and all the chastisements which come upon him in consequence of his grief will be for our sakes, and not from any deficiency or sin on his part which might bring punishment in his train, BECAUSE HE IS PERFECT, IN THE COMPLETENESS OF PERFECTION, as Isaiah says (xi. 2f.). Truly all his pains and sicknesses will be for us…” (R. Mosheh Kohen Ibn Crispin (14th century AD), as cited by Driver and Neubauer, The “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah, pp. 101-103; bold and capital emphasis ours)
As is this next one:
9. I will declare of the decree of the Lord. He said unto me: ‘Thou art My son’ (Ps. 2:7): The children of Israel are declared to be sons in the decree of the Law, in the decree of the Prophets, and in the decree of the Writings: In the decree of the Law it is written Thus saith the Lord: Israel is My son, My first-born (Ex. 4:22). In the decree of the Prophets it is written Behold My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high (Isa. 52:13), and it is also written Behold My servant, whom I uphold: Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth (Isa. 42:1). In the decree of the Writings it is written, “Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Ps. 110:1), and it is also written I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the Ancient of days, and he was brought near before Him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him (Dan. 7:13, 14).
In another comment, the verse is read I will tell of the decree: The Lord said unto me: Thou art My son… Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession (Ps. 2:7, 8). R. Yudan said: All these goodly promises are in the decree of the King, the King of kings, who will fulfill them for the lord Messiah. (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude (translator) [Yale University Press, New Haven 1959], Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy (editor), Book One, Psalm 2:9; bold emphasis ours)
Note how these Jewish sources take Psalm 2:7-8,110:1, Isaiah 42:1, 52:13, Daniel 7:14 and 27 and apply them all to the Lord Messiah! To say that this is truly amazing would be a wild understatement.
With the foregoing in perspective we can move to the next section of our response.
(1) As Ehrman indicates, that portion of 1 Enoch wherein the Son of Man is identified as Enoch himself is clearly a later edition, which contradicts the earlier parts of the writing where Enoch is clearly distinguished from the Son of Man. This later insertion was added either as a polemical response to the Christian identification of Jesus as the Son of Man, or for the purpose of showing that Enoch, who being the earthly counterpart of the Son of Man, became one with this exalted heavenly figure upon his ascension into God’s heavenly presence.