Isaiah 11 – The Branch Out of Jesse & External References of Jesus

This new king that You had mentioned earlier?  Is it Immanuel that’s going to be a “Wonderful Counselor” and all that?

1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

High Priest Annas
Annas [also Ananus or Ananias] (Hebrew: חנן), son of Seth (23/22 BC – death date unknown, probably around 40 A.D.), was appointed by the Roman legate Quirinius as the first High Priest of the newly formed Roman province of Iudaea in 6 A.D; just after the Romans had deposed Archelaus, Ethnarch of Judaea, thereby putting Judaea directly under Roman rule.

Annas officially served as High Priest for ten years (6–15 A.D.), when at the age of 36 he was deposed by the procurator Gratus. Yet while having been officially removed from office, he remained as one of the nation’s most influential political and social individuals, aided greatly by the use of his five sons and his son-in-law Caiaphas as puppet High Priests. His death is unrecorded, but his son Annas the Younger, also known as Ananus the son of Ananus was assassinated in 66 A.D. for advocating peace with Rome.

Annas appears in the Gospels and Passion plays as a high priest before whom Jesus is brought for judgment, prior to being brought before Pontius Pilate

“Rod…stem” – the Assyrians all but destroyed Judah, but it was the Babylonian exile that brought the kingdom of Judah to an end in 586 B.C.  the Messiah will grow as a shoot from that stump of David’s dynasty.  (see 6:13).

2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

“The Spirit…shall rest upon him” – the Messiah, Jesus Christ, like David (1 Sam 16:13), will be empowered by the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:16-17; Mk 1:10-11; Lk 3:22; Jn 1:29-34).

3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

“Shall make him of quick understanding…fear of the LORD” – Lit. “His delight (will be) in the fear of the LORD.”  See Jn 8:29, cf Prov 1:7, 3:5-7.

4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

Vespasian
Vespasian was Roman emperor from 69–79, the fourth, and last, in the Year of the Four Emperors. He founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire for 27 years.

“Righteousness…equity” – the rulers of Isaiah’s day lacked these qualities (see 1:17, 5:7).

“Rod of his mouth” – Assyria was God’s rod in 10:5, 24, but the Messiah will rule the nations with an iron scepter (Ps 2:9; Rev 19:15).

5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

“Girdle” – his belt, when a man prepared for vigorous action he tied up his loose, flowing garments with a belt (see 5:27).

6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.

9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

The peace and safety of the Messianic age are reflected in the fact that little children will be unharmed as they play with formerly ferocious animals.  Such conditions are a description of the future consummation of the Messianic kingdom.  The description is literal in that it portrays the transformation of nature that will occur and figurative in that it portrays the conditions of peace and security that will exist in the kingdom.  See 2:2-4, 35:9, 65:20-25; Eze 35:25-29.

10  And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius, was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order who wrote during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire.

11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

“Second time” – the first time was the exodus from Egypt (v 16).  The initial fulfillment in the immediate future is the return from Assyrian and Babylonian exile, but the ultimate fulfillment refers to the regathering of Israel to take place at Christ’s second coming.  For the future regathering/salvation of Israel see 52:9-10, 54:6-8; Amos 9:1-15; Zeph 3:14-20; Rom 11:26-27.

“Egypt” – the delta region of the Nile, in the north.

“Pathros” – southern Egypt, upstream from the delta.

“Elam” – the land northeast of the lower Tigirs Valley (see 21:2; Jer 49:34-39; Dan 8:2).

“Islands of the sea” – the coastlands and islands of the Mediterranean are probably intended (see 41:1, 5, 42:4; Gen 10:5).

12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

“Four corners” – Lit. “four wings”  “Four corners of the earth’ is equivalent to “the utmost part of the earth” (see 24:16; Job 37:3).

13 The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.

Pliny the Younger
Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born Gaius Caecilius or Gaius Caecilius Cilo, better known as Pliny the Younger, was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny’s uncle, Pliny the Elder, helped raise and educate him.

14 But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.

“Them of the east” – perhaps the Midianites who plundered Israel, along with other eastern people (see (:4).

“Edom…Moab…children of Ammon” – after the exodus, Israel didn’t attack these nations (see Judg 11:14-18).  Israel’s future political domination is also referred to in 14:2, 49:23, 60:12.

15 And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dry-shod.

“Destroy…the Egyptian sea” – an allusion to the drying up of the Red Sea during the exodus (see Ex 14:21-22).

“The river” – Rev 16:12 refers to the drying up of the Euphrates, perhaps symbolizing the removal of barriers preventing the coming of the “the kings from the east.”

16 And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.

External References of Jesus

Titus Flavius Josephus born to priestly family in 37 A.D. and commanded Jewish troops in Galilee during a rebellion. He surrendered, and earned favor of Emperor Vespasian.  Wrote 20 books of Antiquities of the Jews.  

Josephus on Jesus
The extant manuscripts of the writings of the first-century Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus include references to Jesus and the origins of Christianity.

Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, written around 93–94 AD, includes two references to the biblical Jesus Christ in Books 18 and 20 and a reference to John the Baptist in Book 18. Scholarly opinion varies on the total or partial authenticity of the reference in Book 18, Chapter 3, 3 of the Antiquities, a passage that states that Jesus the Messiah was a wise teacher who was crucified by Pilate, usually called the Testimonium Flavianum.

The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus, which was then subject to Christian interpolation and/or alteration. Although the exact nature and extent of the Christian redaction remains unclear, broad consensus exists as to what the original text of the Testimonium by Josephus would have looked like.

Modern scholarship has largely acknowledged the authenticity of the reference in Book 20, Chapter 9, 1 of the Antiquities to “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” and considers it as having the highest level of authenticity among the references of Josephus to Christianity.

Almost all modern scholars consider the reference in Book 18, Chapter 5, 2 of the Antiquities to the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist also to be authentic and not a Christian interpolation. The references found in Antiquities have no parallel texts in the other work by Josephus such as The Jewish War, written 20 years earlier, but some scholars have provided explanations for their absence.

A number of variations exist between the statements by Josephus regarding the deaths of James and John the Baptist and the New Testament accounts. Scholars generally view these variations as indications that the Josephus passages are not interpolations, for a Christian interpolator would have made them correspond to the New Testament accounts, not differ from them.

Josephus refers to John the Baptist who was beheaded by King Herod (Matt 14:1–11).  He also makes note of the execution of James, the brother of Jesus.  In the 62 A.D., the High Priest Ananus had James convicted by the Sanhedrin and stoned to death.  This isn’t noted in the Bible, the earliest account of his execution is given in Josephus’s Antiquities; published around 93 CE.  

Josephus referred to Jesus in his Antiquities 18:63.  The standard text of Josephus reads as follows:

About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man (Matt, Mk, Lk, and Jn).  For he was the achiever of extraordinary deeds and was a teacher of those who accept the truth gladly.  He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks.  He was the Messiah. 

When he was indicted by the principal men among us and Pilate condemned him to be crucified, those who had come to love him originally did not cease to do so; for he appeared to them on the third day restored to life, as the prophets of the Deity had foretold these and countless other marvelous things about him, and the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.  (Josephus—The Essential Works, P. L. Maier ed./trans).

Although this passage is so worded in the Josephus manuscripts as early as the third-century church historian Eusebius, scholars have long suspected a Christian interpolation, since Josephus could hardly have believed Jesus to be the Messiah or in his resurrection and have remained, as he did, a non-Christian Jew. 

In 1972, however, Professor Schlomo Pines of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem announced his discovery of a different manuscript tradition of Josephus’s writings in the tenth-century Melkite historian Agapius, which reads as follows:

At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous.  Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples.  Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. 

But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship.  They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive.  Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders.  And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.

Here, clearly, is language that a Jew could have written without conversion to Christianity.  (Schlomo Pines, An Arabic Version of the Testimonium Flavianum and its Implications [Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1971.])

According to Dr. Paul Maier, professor of ancient history:

Scholars fall into three basic camps regarding Antiquities 18:63:  1) The original passage is entirely authentic—a minority position; 2) it is entirely a Christian forgery—a much smaller minority position; and 3) it contains Christian interpolations in what was Josephus’s original, authentic material about Jesus—the large majority position today, particularly in view of the Agapian text (immediately above) which shows no signs of interpolation.  

Josephus must have mentioned Jesus in authentic core material at 18:63 since this passage is present in all Greek manuscripts of Josephus, and the Agapian version accords well with his grammar and vocabulary elsewhere. 

Nile River
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa, and is commonly regarded as the longest river in the world,[1] though some sources cite the Amazon River as the longest.] The Nile, which is 6,853 km (4,258 miles) long, is an “international” river as its drainage basin covers eleven countries, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan and Egypt. In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.

The river Nile has two major tributaries, the White Nile and Blue Nile. The White Nile is considered to be the headwaters and primary stream of the Nile itself. The Blue Nile, however, is the source of most of the water and silt. The White Nile is longer and rises in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, with the most distant source still undetermined but located in either Rwanda or Burundi. It flows north through Tanzania, Lake Victoria, Uganda and South Sudan. The Blue Nile begins at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and flows into Sudan from the southeast. The two rivers meet just north of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

The northern section of the river flows north almost entirely through the Sudanese desert to Egypt, then ends in a large delta and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Egyptian civilization and Sudanese kingdoms have depended on the river since ancient times. Most of the population and cities of Egypt lie along those parts of the Nile valley north of Aswan, and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along riverbanks.

Moreover, Jesus is portrayed as a ‘wise man’ [sophos aner], a phrase not used by Christians but employed by Josephus for such personalities as David and Solomon in the Hebrew Bible. 

Furthermore, his claim that Jesus won over “many of the Greeks” is not substantiated in the New Testament, and thus hardly a Christian interpolation but rather something that Josephus would have noted in his own day. 

Finally, the fact that the second reference to Jesus at Antiquities 20:200, which follows, merely calls him the Christos [Messiah] without further explanation suggests that a previous, fuller identification had already taken place. 

Had Jesus appeared for the first time at the later point in Josephus’s record, he would most probably have introduced a phrase like “…brother of a certain Jesus, who was called the Christ.”

Early Gentile writers, referred to by Christian apologists in 2nd century.

Thallus wrote a history of Greece and Asia Minor in A.D. 52.  Julius Africanus (221 AD), commenting on Thallus, said:

“Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away the darkness [during the crucifixion] as an eclipse of the sun—unreasonably, as it seems to me [since the Passover took place during a full moon].

Official Roman records of the census, and Pontius Pilate’s official report to the Emperor.  Justin Martyr wrote his “Defense of Christianity” to Emperor Antonius Pius, referred him to Pilate’s report, preserved in the archives.  Tertullian, writing to Roman officials, writes with confidence that records of the Luke 1 census can still be found.

Roman historians

Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors.

Tacitus – Greatest Roman historian, born 52 A.D., wrote a history of the reign of Nero in 110 A.D.

…Christus, from whom they got their name, had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate when Tiberias was emperor; and the pernicious superstition was checked for a short time only to break out afresh, not only in Judea, the home of the plague, but in Rome itself…  (Annals 15:44)

Suetonius – AD. 120.  In his Life of Claudius:

As the Jews were making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.

Pliny the Younger – Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, wrote the emperor in 112 A.D. about the sect of Christians, who were in “the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day, before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God.”