Psalm 2 According to The Rabbis


One of our missionaries was once approached by a Jewish man who demanded one question to be answered.  He asked, "Are you telling me that if I do not accept and believe in Jesus that I will burn in the hell?"  To this, the missionary stated, "The rabbis teach us that a good question is better than a good answer.  Can I answer your question with another?"  When permitted he quoted Psalms 2:12, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him, "and then asked, "Who is this son that we either kiss or perish?"

To answer this we will look to the Rabbis:

According to Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 52a it is Messiah:

Our Rabbis taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days!), 'Ask of me anything, and I will give it to thee', as it is said, I will tell of the decree etc. this day have I begotten thee, ask of me and I will give the nations for thy inheritance [Psalms 2:7-8].

-- Soncino Talmud edition.

According to Genesis Rabbah 44:8, it is Messiah:

R. Jonathan said: Three persons were bidden 'ask', viz.: Solomon, Ahaz, and the King Messiah. Solomon: Ask what I shall give thee (1 Kings III, 5). Ahaz: Ask thee a sign (Isa. VII, 11). The King Messiah: Ask of Me, etc. (Ps. II, 8).

-- Soncino Midrash Rabbah (vol. 1, pp. 365-366).


According to Pirke de-Rav Eliezer (9th c.), Section 28, on verse,  it is the Son of David (Messiah):

All the nations will be gathered together to fight with the Son of David, as it is said: The kings of the earth set themselves, etc.


Even Rashi acknowledged that most teach it is Messiah,

Our teachers interpreted the subject of this Psalm with reference to King Messiah, but according to its plain meaning it will be right to expound it of David himself...

The Midrash on Psalms teaches that the Son of Psalms 2 is Messiah:

This day have I begotten thee [Psalm 2:7]. R. Huna said: Suffering is divided into three portions: one, the Patriarchs and all the generations of men took; one, the generation that lived in the time of [Hadrian's] persecution took; and one, the generation of the lord Messiah will take. When the time comes, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say: "I must create the Messiah -- a new creation." As Scripture says, This day have I begotten thee -- that is, on the very day of redemption, God will create the Messiah.

Ask of Me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession (Ps. 2:8). God, speaking to the Messiah, says: If thou dost ask for dominion over the nations, already they are thine inheritance; if for the ends of the earth, already they are thy possession.

Rabbi Johanan taught that Psalms 2 is about Messiah:

To three men -- Solomon, Ahaz, and the lord Messiah -- the Holy One, blessed be He, said, "Ask of me." To Solomon, as is written In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said: "Ask what I shall give thee" (1 Kings 3:5). To Ahaz, as is written "Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God: ask it either in the depth, or in the height above" (Isa. 7:11)....To the lord Messiah, as is written Ask of Me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession.

According to Maimonides' introduction to Sanhedrin, chapter 10, Psalms 2 is about Messiah

The prophets and the saints have longed for the days of the Messiah, and great has been their desire towards him, for there will be with him the gathering together of the righteous and the administration of good, and wisdom, and royal righteousness, with the abundance of his uprightness and the spread of his wisdom, and his approach to God, as it is said: The Lord said unto me, Thou art my son, to-day have I begotten thee.

David Kimchi himself interpreted psalm as referring to King David, but his comments on verse 12 show that the traditional interpretation was messianic.

There are those who interpret this psalm of Gog and Magog, and the "anointed" as the King Messiah; and thus did our rabbis of blessed memory interpret it (b. Berachot 7b).

Yalkut (13th c.), Section 621, similar to the Midrash on Psalms quoted above:

On verse 7:

R. Huna said in the name of R. Idi, In three parts were the punishments divided: one for King Messiah, and when His hour cometh the Holy One, blessed be He, saith, I must make a new covenant with Him, and so He saith, To-day have I begotten thee.

On verse 9:

"Thou wilt bruise them with a rod of iron"; this is Messiah ben Joseph.

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