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The OT Prophets Testify that the Messiah
Is Equal to God the Father! Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

In this article, we are going to provide more evidence from the Hebrew Bible to show that the prophets announced that the Messiah is the God-Man, i.e. he is both fully God and fully human who, at the same time, is co-equal with God (the Father) in essence and glory.

Yahweh Has No Equal

But first, it is vitally important to keep in mind that the prophetic writings are crystal clear that Yahweh has no equal and that no creature (whether in the heavens or on the earth) is like him:

“‘To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? … To whom then will you liken Me That I would be his equal?’ says the Holy One.” Isaiah 40:18, 25

“To whom would you liken Me And make Me equal and compare Me, That we would be alike?” Isaiah 46:5

There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might. Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? Indeed it is Your due! For among all the wise men of the nations And in all their kingdoms, There is none like YouBut the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation. Thus you shall say to them, ‘The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’ It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.” Jeremiah 10:6-7, 10-12

“The heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies is comparable to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the LORD, A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, And awesome above all those who are around Him? O LORD God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty LORD? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.” Psalm 89:5-8 – cf. 86:8-10; 113:5-6

Thus, these texts emphatically testify that no created thing can ever be Yahweh’s equal, which leads me to my next point.

The Man Who Is Yahweh’s Equal

These same Scriptures also reveal that there is one particular man whom Yahweh calls his equal! The prophet Zechariah spoke of the time when Yahweh would raise up a Shepherd who would be killed for the transgressions of his people, resulting in Israel being scattered:

“‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man (geber), My Associate (amiti),’ Declares the LORD of hosts. ‘Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones.’” Zechariah 13:7

Here is how some other versions render the Hebrew:

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow…” KJV

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, the man who is my partner…” New Living Translation (NLT)

“O Sword! awake against my shepherd, even against the man that is my companion…” The J. B. Rotherham Emphasized Bible

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me…” Revised Standard Version (RSV)

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me…” NIV

The key in understanding this verse is the word ‘amiti, rendered as “my associate/fellow/partner/companion” etc. This specific term appears ten times in the Hebrew Scriptures, both here and nine times in the Book of Leviticus. In the nine other occurrences it is used as a synonym for a fellow brother or a blood relative, or to one who is living nearest to another:

“You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another (ba’amitow)… You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor ('amiteka) fairly. You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. You shall not hate your fellow brother in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor ('amiteka), but shall not incur sin because of him.” Leviticus 19:11, 15, 17 – cf. 6:2; 18:20; 24:19; 25:14-15, 17

In other words, the term refers to someone of the same essence, to a person who belongs to the same genus.

Thus, in calling the Shepherd “my associate/partner/fellow/companion,” Yahweh is indicating that this particular man is also God since he is someone who is related to Yahweh by virtue of essence and nature. Both Yahweh and the Shepherd belong to the same genus or category of being.

The Rabbinic Exegesis of the Identity of Yahweh’s Shepherd

Amazingly, even the rabbinic interpretation supports the Christian exegesis that Yahweh’s Shepherd is coequal with Yahweh himself, despite the fact that this verse left some of the rabbis somewhat baffled.

The following quotations are taken from a Christian translation and explanation of Rabbi David Kimchi’s commentary on Zechariah:

Smite the shepherd.”–The wicked prince. But the wise man, R. Abraham Aben Ezra, has interpreted this prophecy of the great wars which shall be in all the world in the days of the Messiah, the son of Joseph. And the meaning of “my shepherd” is, Every king of the Gentiles whom God has caused to rule over the earth, and he thinks himself to be as God, therefore he says, “Against the man my fellow;” i.e., who thinks of himself that he is my fellow. (The Rev. A. M‘Caul, A.M., Rabbi David Kimchi's Commentary Upon The Prophecies Of Zechariah Translated From the Hebrew With Notes And Observations On The Passages Relating To The Messiah, pp. 167-168; bold emphasis ours)

The Rev. also provides the commentaries of some other prominent rabbis:

“In attempting to vindicate the Christian interpretation of this remarkable passage, ‘Awake, O sword against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts,’ we are spared the trouble of defending our translation. The rabbies understand the words, and construe the whole passage as we do. We can, therefore, proceed at once to the interpretation, respecting which the rabbies all differ from the other. Kimchi, as we have seen in the Commentary, interprets ‘my shepherd,’ of ‘every king of the Gentiles, whom God has caused to rule over the earth, and who thinks himself as God. Therefore, it is said, “Against the man my fellow;” i. e., who thinks himself that he is my fellow.’ R. Isaac, the author of the Chizzuk Emunah, says that these words mean, ‘Awake, O sword, against the King of Ishmael, called also the King of Turkey, and ruling over Asia and Africa, under whose hand the majority of the people of Israel are in captivity. God calls him “my shepherd,” because He has given His sheep into his hand, to feed them in their captivity. “The sheep” means Israel. He calls him “The man my fellow,” and companion, because, in the pride and haughtiness of his heart, he thinks himself like God, and similar to this is that passage, “Behold, the man is become as one of us.”’ Abarbanel confesses that this passage puzzles him, for he offers three different interpretations. He says, ‘It appears to me that the words, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and the man that is my fellow,” may be interpreted in one of three ways… The second mode of interpretation, and that which is more appropriate in my eyes, is that the words “my shepherd” are spoken of the prophet of the Ishmaelites, whom they call Mahomet, of whom they say that God sent him into the world to feed his sheep, the children of men; and that the words “the man my fellow,” are spoken of Jesus the Nazarene, for, according to the sentiments of the children of Edom, and their faith, he was the Son of God, and of the same substance, and therefore he is called according to their words, "The man my fellow,” … The third interpretation is, that the words “my shepherd, the man my fellow,” are spoken of the Messiah, the son of Joseph, &c.’ … These interpretations necessarily destroy one another. This diversity shows the great difficulty which the rabbies found in getting any interpretation that would satisfy their understanding, as is especially apparent in Abarbanel, a man of great learning and consummate talent; and yet so far is he from being satisfied either with what his predecessors had written, or he himself could devise, that he proposes three interpretations, and does not venture to decide upon any one as certain and true. Such diversity and doubt is a strong presumption against them all, and an examination of the passage shows that they are decidedly false.” (Ibid, pp. 169-171; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, these rabbis confirm that the Hebrew word amiti identifies the Shepherd as someone who is essentially co-equal with Yahweh, even though they try to explain it away by claiming that it refers to wicked Gentile rulers who merely think they are gods and equal to the God of Israel.

The Rev. explains why the interpretation that the Shepherd is a wicked pagan king cannot be maintained:

“Such is the conclusion to which an examination of the passage itself, and a comparison of the language with that of the prophets, would lead, and this conclusion is rendered absolutely certain, by comparing Zechariah with himself. In the xith chapter we have seen the same figure employed. The people of Israel are compared to sheep committed to the care of a good shepherd, and when he ceases to perform the office, calamity and ruin are the consequence. The identity of the symbols and the things symbolized, in both visions, shows that they refer to the same persons and the same events. It is true that in the xith chapter, Zechariah does not mention the death of the Messiah, but he does in the xiith. ‘They shall look upon me whom they pierced’; and in both intimates that the Messiah is a divine person, as God here calls him, ‘The man that is my fellow.’ In xi. 13, we read ‘The LORD YHWH said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at of them,’ where the Lord identifies himself with the shepherd. In xii. 10, He who pours out the Spirit of grace and supplication, identifies himself with Him that is pierced, so that the words under consideration, ‘The man that is my fellow,’ exactly agree with the character of Messiah, as previously given by Zechariah. That ‘amiti, ‘my fellow,’ implies that He of whom it is spoken is a divine person, is plainly acknowledged by those rabbies who oppose Christianity. R. Isaac says, ‘He calls him “The man, my fellow,” and companion, because in the pride and haughtiness of his heart, he thinks himself as it were God.’ And Abarbanel, who endeavors to interpret the words in a bad sense of our Lord, acknowledges still more plainly that these words signify one of the same substance. ‘The words, “The man my fellow,” are spoken of Jesus the Nazarene, for, according to the sentiments of the children of Edom, and their faith, he was the Son of God, and of the same substance, and therefore he is called, according to their words, “The man that is my fellow.”’ He here plainly and positively asserts, that these words express the Christian doctrine of the Deity of the Messiah, and thinks that they were selected on that account. These two testimonies of two controversialists, writing professedly against Christianity, are of the greatest value. They show that the grammatical sense assigned to the passage by Christians, and on which Christians rest their interpretation, is obvious, and so necessarily true, that the most acute adversaries are compelled to admit it; and can only escape from it by saying that the words are ironical. This concession is rendered doubly valuable by the consideration that they had before them another explanation, proposed by a rabbi of great renown, and that they rejected it. Rashi, as quoted by Kimchi in the Commentary, page 167, says that kings are called God’s fellows, because they are associated with him in feeding his sheep, but R. Isaac and Abarbanel preferred expounding ‘amiti ‘My fellow,’ of a similarity in nature and substance; and, no doubt, their reason for this preference was the fact that, in all the other passages where it occurs, it can have no other meaning… ” (Ibid., pp. 172-174; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, the plain reading of Zechariah 13:7 shows that Yahweh’s Shepherd is not only a man, but is also fully God which explains why he can be called Yahweh’s equal.

Yahweh is One!

At the same time, however, Zechariah is equally clear that there is only one Yahweh and that he alone shall rule over the nations:

“And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.” Zechariah 14:9

Therefore, the only way for Yahweh to be one and for the Shepherd to also be fully divine and co-equal with Yahweh is if Yahweh is a multi-Personal Being, e.g. Yahweh and the Shepherd are not two separate gods but actually coexist together as the one and only God.

Jesus Christ – Yahweh’s Equal

When we come to the New Testament, we discover that this specific Shepherd who is struck down for the sins of Yahweh’s people is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ!

In fact, Jesus himself quotes this text in reference to the scattering of his disciples when the soldiers come to take Christ away to be crucified:

“And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away; for it is written, “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.’” Mark 14:27-28


“Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away because of Me this night. For it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.’” Matthew 26:30-32

The Lord Jesus also referred to himself as the good Shepherd who voluntarily lays down his own life for the salvation of his sheep:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know me—just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father—and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason My Father loves me is that I lay down My life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.” John 10:11-18

What many do not realize is that in quoting this verse Jesus was basically claiming to be God and co-equal with the Father since he is the man who is Yahweh’s partner or companion, the One who is related to Yahweh by virtue of sharing the same genus or essence.

Jesus himself stated to be one with the Father in granting eternal life to all who believe and in preserving his sheep from ever perishing:

“Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness to Me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to My sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.’ The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.’” John 10:25-33

Christ went so far as to claim that he can only do whatever the Father does, such as give life, raise the dead and pass judgment in order to determine the fate of every single individual. He even says that his Father expects everyone to give the Son the same honor that they give unto the Father!

“For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’ For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD. Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for WHATEVER the Father DOES, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, EVEN SO the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son EVEN AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear HIS VOICE, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.’” John 5:16-29

The rest of the inspired Scriptures confirm that Jesus is equal to God the Father in essence and majesty.

For instance, Hebrews teaches that Christ is the radiance or the visible outshining of God’s glory and is the exact representation of God’s own being or substance:

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Hebrews 1:1-3

The Apostle Paul wrote that the pre-incarnate Christ existed in the very form of God, and was therefore equal with God, an equality which he did not exploit but voluntarily set aside in order to become a human being:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though in the form of God existing, did not consider [his] equality with God something to be exploited, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, by being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

He also stated that Christ possesses the entire fullness of the Divine essence bodily, i.e. Christ is fully God in nature who continues to possess a physical body by virtue of still being a human being even now in glory:

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” Colossians 2:9-10

Thus, Jesus is the Shepherd who is God’s Associate or Equal that was struck down for the life of the sheep!

This means that both the Old and New Testaments agree that the Messiah is the God-Man, e.g. the Christ is a human being who is also fully God in nature and therefore coequal with the Father in essence and glory.

In the next section we will be providing quotations from various sources on the meaning and implication of Zechariah 13:7 as it relates to the deity and humanity of the Messiah.