101 Names of The Messiah

by Tsvi Sadan




Explicitly, the name Levi for the Messiah is nowhere to be found. Yet, since Moses is one of the names of the Messiah as well as Aaron, Levi, their forefather, is expected to be one of the Messiah's names. I may speculate here that the reason for this glaring omission may be reluctance to provide "ammunition" to Christian polemics against Judaism.

Yet hints that Levi is one of the Messiah's names are scattered here and there. One such hint is found in a discussion over the meaning of Amalek's war against Israel (Exodus 17:8). The sages saw in this event yet another attempt to annihilate Israel. Egypt was the first to initiate such an attempt by decreeing enslavement, prohibiting pregnancy and the killing of newborn males. For each decree, said the sages, God provided a redeemer: The birth of Miriam caused Israel to endure the bitter work (Miriam here means mar, or bitter); The birth of Aaron caused Israel to disobey the decree to kill newborn males (Aaron here means herayon, or pregnancy); and the birth of Moses signified that the redeemer will come out from the same water in which the babies were drowned (Moses as acronym for masha and mayim, or 'pulled out' and 'water'). These three redeemers, needless to say, are Levites (Bereshit Raba, 26, on Exodus 17:8).

But casting these three siblings as redeemers poses a problem since the Redeemer is to come from the tribe of Judah. To overcome this problem, the sages suggest two solutions. First, they say, the Davidic kingdom rests also upon Miriam since it was she whom Caleb married: "When Azubah died, Caleb married Ephrath" (1 Chronicles 2:19). Ephrath, say the sages, is Miriam. Caleb, we know, was a Judean but we also know that "David was the son of an Ephrathite" (1 Samuel 17:12). According to Jewish tradition, therefore, David's lineage is both Judean and Levite (TB, Sota, 11b).

The important link between Judah and Levi is demonstrated through Aaron as well. He too was married to the house of Judah: He "took as his wife Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and the sister of Nahshon [...] son of Amminadab, prince of the tribe of Judah" (Exodus 6:23; Numbers 7:12) (Shu't, Peulat Tsadik, 1:49).

Though initially Levi had no part in the messianic lineage that was given to Judah and Joseph, through Aaron and Miriam the priestly family was incorporated into the kingly family. The Messiah therefore is both Judean and Levite, king and priest.

(Back to Bookshop)