The Inheritance of The Firstborn (The Messiah of David)


Psalms 89:27 says,”I also shall make him the first born, the highest of the kings, of the earth.” The psalmist is speaking of David, the most famous king of ancient Israel, but in Second-Temple times this and similar biblical statements began to be understood as speaking not of David himself, but of a figure yet to come, a new David, a son of David. People began to think that they were reading about a messiah. This understanding of the idea of the “Son of God” eventually helped to turn the world upside down.

The author of the New Testament book of Hebrews takes this approach when he quotes Psalm 89:27. Hebrews 1:6, part of a chain of biblical quotations and interpretations, alludes to the Psalm in saying, “And again, when he brings his firstborn into the world. . .” In the new context of Hebrews, the psalmic the “firstborn” is given messianic import. The author of Hebrews goes on to argue that Jesus is this firstborn and thus, the messiah.

But the author of Hebrews did not write in a vacuum, end Jesus was not necessarily the only or the first messianic figure to whom people had applied the metaphor of sonship. By the time of Jesus, and certainly by the time of the writer of Hebrews, the idea had been a part of the intellectual world of the Jews for several generations. The present text proves as much (although we have other evidence from the scrolls as well). The author of Inheritance writes, “You appointed him as your firstborn son.” He goes on to say that this figure will be “prince and ruler in all the earth,” and that God gave “him righteous statutes, as a father gives a son.” The text says, then, that there will someday arise a Jewish leader who will conquer the world and that he is to be God’s son. Further, he will be God’s firstborn son, a reference to the special privileges that the firstborn got under biblical laws of inheritance. According to the Bible, the firstborn son was to receive twice the inheritance of the other sons (and daughters generally got nothing but their dowry). In Inheritance, the designation “firstborn” is, of course, as metaphorical as the term “son.” By it the author means to say that this messiah will be specially endowed with DodÕs blessing and all else that God can give.

Inheritance ls one of three: works to emerge from the caves near Qumran that refer to a messiah as begotten of God or as God’s son. As Craig Evans has written, “These texts do not indicate that a miraculous birth was expected of a Messiah. But they do help us understand why the evangelists Matthew and Luke would be interested in presenting Jesus birth in~such a light.”

This may be the final judgment as revealed to Enoch (Jubilees 4: l9J.

Frag. 1 Col. 1 [ . . . ] to all 2[ . . . ] to the mysteries [ . . . the angel of] Your peace 3[ . . . ] understand [ . . . until] they acknowledge their guilt 4[and seek My face . . . ] of all their festivals] at their times 5[ . . . 3 Your wonder, for from of old You decreed them 6[ . . . 3 His judgment until the determined time of judgment 7[ . . . ] in all the testimonies until 8[ . . . ] 9 [Now Kenan was the fourth generation and Mahalalel was] his [vein. And Mahalalel was the fifth generation [andJared was his son. And Jared as the sixth generation and Enoch was] his son. And Enoch was the seventh genera~tion.

The eternal inheritance of the messiah the firstborn son of God. This notion of sonship`s especially interesting in light of the genealogical list of col. 1, to which this matertal tn col. 2 presumably bears some relation. All the “sons” of col. 1 are literally sons thus the juxtaposition with col. 2 tends to make the sonship of the messiah all the more concrete.

Col. 2 Your name. You assigned his inheritance in order that You might establish Your name there [ . . . ] 2it is the glory of Your inhabited world and upon it [ . . . ] 3Your eyes are upon it, and Your glory appears there for [ . . . ] to hls seed through their generations, an eternal possession. And al[l . . . ] Send You tested Your good judgments for him to [ . . . ] in everlasting light and You appointed him as Your firstbo[rn] son. here is none] 71ike him, as a prince and ruler in all: Your inhabited world [ . . . ] 8the c[rown of the healvens and glory of the clouds You have placed [on him . . . ] 9[ . . . ] and the ange1 of Your peace 1n his congregation. And h[e . . . ] 10[ . . . You gave] him righteous statutes, as a father gives a so[n . . . ] [ . . . ] his love. Your soul holds fast to [ . . . ] [ . . . ] for in them Your glory [ . . . ]

This fragment concerns either the retribution in store for the wicked or the rewards awaiting the just.

Frag. 2 [ . . . ] custody of the angel of intercession [ . . . ] 2[ . . . ] Your [st]rength. and to fight against all the la[nds . . . ] among them Your rewards (retributions?) [ . . . ] 4[ . :. . ] and Your judgments You] make marvelous among them [ . . . ] s[ . . . concern]ing [a]ll Your works [ . . . ]

For the others, see the text 6, Charter for Israel in the Last Days 2:11-12,and text 27, Tke Last Days: A Commentary on Selected Verses 3:10-11.
Craig Evans, “A Note on The ‘First-born Son’ of 4Q369,” Dead Sea Discoveries 2 (1995): 200.

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