Friday, January 12, 2024

The Anointed One Hidden (12.4b–6)


And the dragon stood in front of the woman about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he could devour her son. And she gave birth to a son, a male, who is about to rule all the nations with an iron rod. And her child was taken to God and his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God, so they should nourish her there for one thousand two hundred sixty days.


The woman is pregnant with a son who is described with royalistic language taken from Psalm 2. This is Israel ‘giving birth’ to the Anointed One. However, the Anointed One is immediately hidden away in heaven, rescued by God from suffering any of the harm threatened by the satan. Some traditions in the late Second Temple period display a similar concept, that the Anointed One already exists (perhaps non-literally, i.e. he ‘exists’ in God’s foreknowledge), and that he will only be revealed to the world during the eschatological crisis, when God will send him to destroy Israel’s enemies. This is comparable to the early Christian idea of the second coming of Jesus, but the Anointed One here is notably spared from the dragon’s attack; this messianic ‘myth’ lacks any indication that the Anointed One would first die.

The particular cluster of symbols lifted from the Hebrew Bible are combined in such a way that suggests the author was basing his mythological narrative on the Greek story of the god Apollo. The son of Zeus was born to the goddess Leto, whom Zeus hid away in a secret place during her pregnancy when she was chased by the dragon Python.



2.8–9 ‘Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’


66.7 Before she was in labour she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son.


23.20 ‘I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.’

1 Enoch

62.7 For the son of man was concealed from the beginning, and the Most High One preserved him in the presence of his power

Sibylline Oracles

8.195–196 but rather then, when heavenly grace comes to rule, and whenever the sacred child


7.25 they shall be given into his power for a time, two times, and half a time.

8.14 And he answered him, ‘For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.’

12.11 ‘there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.’

12.12 ‘Happy are those who persevere and attain the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.’

Psalms of Solomon

17.21–25, 32 See, O Lord, and raise up for them their king, the son of David, at the time which you chose, O God, to rule over Israel your servant. And gird him with strength to shatter in pieces unrighteous rulers, to purify Jerusalem from nations that trample her down in destruction, in wisdom of righteousness, to drive out sinners from the inheritance, to smash the arrogance of the sinner like a potter's vessel, to shatter all their substance with an iron rod, to destroy the lawless nations by the word of his mouth, that, by his threat, nations flee from his presence, and to reprove sinners with the thought of their hearts. […] And he shall be a righteous king, taught by God, over them, and there shall be no injustice in his days in their midst, for all shall be holy, and their king the Anointed One of the Lord.

4 Ezra

7.28 ‘For my son the Anointed One shall be revealed’

13.25–26 As for your seeing a man come up from the heart of the sea, this is he whom the Most High has been keeping for many ages

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