Surah al-Ahzab (Surah 33 – The Combined Forces) gives solutions for an ordinary human situation – what to call someone when we do not know their name.
Call them by (the names of) their fathers: that is juster in the sight of God. But if ye know not their father’s (names, call them) your Brothers in faith, or your maulas. But there is no blame on you if ye make a mistake therein: (what counts is) the intention of your hearts: and God is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (Surah al-ahzab 33:5)
This reminds us of the limits of human knowledge – we often do not even know the names of the people around us. Surah An-Najm (Surah 53 – The Star) discusses some idols common in the time of the Prophet Mohamed PBUH (Lat, ‘Uzza, and Manat) declaring:
These are nothing but names which ye have devised,- ye and your fathers,- for which God has sent down no authority (whatever). They follow nothing but conjecture and what their own souls desire!- Even though there has already come to them Guidance from their Lord! (Surah AN-Najm 53:23)
Mere people devised the names of the false gods. These ayat give a guideline for separating out false worship from the true. Since we sometimes do not even know the names of the people around us, humans certainly cannot know the name of a prophet coming in the far future. If the name of the Masih is given far ahead of time this would be a sign that this is a true plan of Allah’s and not one from something false. We look here at how the name of the Branch is prophesied.
The Sign in a Name
In recent articles about the Zabur, we have seen that Allah had promised a Coming Kingdom. This Kingdom would be different from human kingdoms. Watch the news today and see what happens in human kingdoms. Fighting, corruption, atrocities, killings, the strong exploiting the weak – this happens in all human kingdoms whether they be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or secular Western ones. The problem in all these kingdoms is that we who live in them have a restless thirst as we saw with Prophet Jeremiah (PBUH) which leads us to sin and so many of these problems in all their various descriptions (i.e. corruption, killings, sexual harassments etc.) are the results of sin.
So the major obstacle holding back the coming of God’s Kingdom is us. If Allah set up his new Kingdom right now none of us could enter it because our sin would ruin that Kingdom as much as it ruins kingdoms today. Jeremiah (PBUH) also prophesied the day when Allah would set up a New Covenant. This Covenant would be new because it would be written in our hearts rather than on tablets of stone like the Law of Musa was. It would change us from the inside out to make us fit to be citizens of this Kingdom.
Clues in the Zabur
How would this happen? The plan of Allah was like a hidden treasure. But clues in the messages of Zabur were given so that those who were seeking His Kingdom would understand – but the rest who were not interested would remain ignorant. We look at these messages now. The plan centred on the coming Masih (which as we saw here = Messiah = Christ). We have seen already in the Psalms of Zabur (inspired by King Dawud) that the predicted Masih had to come from the line of King Dawud (see here to review this).
The Prophet Isaiah
The Prophet Isaiah (PBUH) revealed how this plan of Allah would happen. Isaiah wrote his book in the Zabur during the period of Dawud/David’s Royal dynasty (ca 1000 – 600 BCE). When Isaiah was writing (750 BCE) the dynasty and the entire Israelite kingdom was corrupt – due to the thirst of their hearts.
The Tree, the Stump…
Isaiah (PBUH) wrote a plea for the Israelites to return to Allah and to the practice and spirit of the Law of Musa. Isaiah also knew that this repentance and return would not happen and so he predicted that the Israelite nation would crumble and the royal dynasty would shatter. We saw here how this happened. In his prophesy he used a metaphor or image of the dynasty being like a great tree. That tree would soon be cut down and only a stump would remain. This happened around 600 BCE when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and since that time no descendant of King David/Dawud has ever ruled in Jerusalem.
…And the Branch
But along with all these prophecies of coming destruction in his book, came this special message:
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him–the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)
Jesse was the father of King David/Dawud, and thus the root of his Dynasty. The ‘stump of Jesse’ was therefore a prophecy of the coming destruction of the dynasty of kings from David/Dawud. But Isaiah, being a prophet, also saw past this time and predicted that though the stump (line of Kings) would look dead, it would not be totally so. One day in the future a shoot, known as the Branch, would emerge from that same stump he declared. Isaiah calls this Branch ‘him’ so he is prophesying about a coming man from the line of David.
This man would have such qualities of wisdom, power, and knowledge it could only be from the very Spirit of God resting on him. Now remember how we saw that the Masih was also prophesied to come from the line of David – this was most important. The Branch and the Masih both from David/Dawud? Could this be two titles for the same coming person? Let’s keep exploring the Zabur.
The Prophet Jeremiah talks about the Branch
The prophet Jeremiah (PBUH), coming 150 years after Isaiah, when the dynasty of David was actually being cut down before his very eyes wrote:
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD our Righteousness”. (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
Jeremiah (PBUH) directly continues from the Branch prophecy started by prophet Isaiah (PBUH) 150 years earlier. The Branch will be a King. We saw that the Masih was also to be a King. The similarity between the Masih and the Branch is growing.
The Prophet Zechariah … names The Branch
The prophet Zechariah (PBUH) continues the messages for us. He lived in 520 BCE, just after the Jewish people returned back to Jerusalem from their first expulsion into Babylon, but while they were being ruled by the Persians.
Do not confuse this Zechariah with Zakariyah the father of Yahya/John the Baptist. The prophet Zechariah lived 500 years before Zakariyah and in fact, Zakariyah is named after this Zechariah, just like today there are many people named Mohamed and they are so named after the Prophet Mohamed – PBUH.
At that time (520 BCE) the Jewish people were working to rebuild their destroyed temple and re-start the sacrifices of Harun (PBUH), brother of Musa (PBUH). The descendant of Harun who was the High Priest (and only a descendant of Harun could be a High Priest) at the time of the Prophet Zechariah was called Joshua. So in that time (about 520 BCE) Zechariah was the prophet and Joshua was the High Priest. Here is what Allah – through Zechariah – declared about the High Priest Joshua:
‘”Listen O High Priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant the Branch. See the stone I have set in front of Joshua!” …, says the LORD Almighty, “and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day”.’ (Zechariah 3:8-9)
The Branch! Again! But this time he is also called ‘my servant’. And in some way, the High Priest Joshua is symbolic of this coming Branch. The High Priest Joshua is thus a Sign. But in what way? And what does it mean that in ‘a single day,’ the sins will be removed by the LORD (“I will remove…”)? We continue on in Zechariah and learn something astounding.
‘The word of the LORD came to me: “… [about] the high priest Joshua. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says, ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch … ’’(Zechariah 6:9-10)
The Name of the Branch
Notice that Joshua, his very name, is the name of the Branch. Remember what we learned about transliterations and translations of Hebrew into English. We read ‘Joshua’ here because we read an English translation. But what is the original name in Hebrew? The figure below tells us.
Going from Quadrant 1 -> 3 (like we did in understanding where the title ‘Messiah’ or ‘Masih’ came from) we see that the name ‘Joshua’ is transliterated from the Hebrew name ‘Yhowshuwa’. This name is transliterated to ‘Joshua’ when the Old Testament is translated into English. Also, remember that the Taurat/Zabur was translated into Greek around 250 BCE. This is Quadrant 1 -> 2. These translators also transliterated the Hebrew name ‘Yhowshuwa’ when they translated the Old Testament into Greek. Their Greek transliteration was Iesous. Thus ‘Yhowshuwa’ of the Hebrew Old Testament was called Iesous in the Greek Old Testament.
Zechariah names Jesus as the Branch
When the Greek New Testament is translated into English the name Iesous transliterates to ‘Jesus’. In other words, just like Masih=Messiah=Christ=Anointed One,
‘Yhowshuwa’ = Iesous = Joshua = Jesus (= Isa)
In the same way that the name Muhammad = محمد, Joshua = Jesus. What is amazing, which everyone deserves to know, is that 500 years before Isa al Masih, the Prophet of the Injil ever lived, it was predicted by the prophet Zechariah that the name of the Branch would be Jesus (or Isa – the transliteration from Arabic). Jesus (or Isa) is the Branch! The Branch and the Masih (or Christ) are two titles for the same person! But why would he need two different titles? What was he going to do that was so important? The prophets of Zabur now explain further in greater detail – in our next article on the Zabur.