Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Shabir Ally’s Contradictions and Inconsistencies Pt. 3c

Sam Shamoun

We arrive at the final part of our analysis.

According to the prophet Zechariah, the Messiah shall be the Shepherd whom Yahweh appoints to watch over his sheep. Zechariah also describes the Messiah as a man who is Yahweh’s next of kin, whom Yahweh would strike down for the sake of the sheep:

“‘Awake, O sword, against MY SHEPHERD, against THE MAN who is MY ASSOCIATE (Geber Amiti),’ says the Lord of hosts. Strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones.” Zechariah 13:7

Jesus applied this prophecy to himself on the night of his betrayal and arrest:

“And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters; 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 – cf. Matthew 26:31-32

The interesting part of this verse is that the Hebrew word rendered as “My Associate” (Amiti) is always used in reference to a near relative, to someone of identical essence and nature. What this therefore means is that the prophet is basically identifying the Messiah as the God-Man, One who is both fully God and fully human at the same time. The following Bible expositors help bring out this point more clearly:

even against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; the human nature of Christ is signified by "the man"; not that he was really man before his incarnation, only in the purpose and covenant of God; and he often appearing in a human form; and the Scripture speaking of things future as present; though here it regards him in the days of his flesh, and as suffering: his divine nature is expressed by being "the fellow" of the Lord of hosts; not only being near to him in place and affection, but his equal, being truly a divine Person; of the same nature, glory, and majesty, with him (x), though distinct from him; and so fit to be the Shepherd of the flock: (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible; bold emphasis ours)

Now, conversely, God speaks of the Shepherd who was slain, as "My Fellow," united in Nature with Himself, although not the Manhood of Jesus which suffered, but the Godhead, united with It in one Person, was Consubstantial with Himself. The name might perhaps be most nearly represented by "connatural." : "When then the title is employed of the relation of an individual to God, it is clear that that individual can be no mere man, but must be one, united with God by unity of Being. The Akin of the Lord is no other than He who said in the Gospel "I and My Father are One" John 10:30, and who is designated as "the Only-Begotten Son, who is in the Bosom of the Father" John 1:18. The word, it seems, was especially chosen, as being used in the Pentateuch, only in the laws against injuring a fellow-man. The prophet thereby gives prominence to the seeming contradiction between the command of the Lord, "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd," and those Of His own law, whereby no one is to injure his fellow. (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible; bold and underline emphasis ours)

My fellow, or my equal, who was ever with me, and my delights, Proverbs 8:30. Man my fellow speaks Christ man with us and God with his Father, God-man in one person. Smite the shepherd; this great and good Shepherd shall be smitten, i.e. die for my sheep, and before he dieth shall suffer much for them. (Matthew Poole’s Commentary; bold and underline emphasis ours)

“…The man that is my fellow. The word rendered "man" means rather "mighty man;" that rendered "fellow" occurs often in Leviticus, but nowhere else (Leviticus 5:21; 6:2; 19:11, 15, 17, etc.), and is usually translated "neighbour;" it implies one united to another by the possession of common nature, rights, and privileges. God could speak only of One thus associated with himself, that is, of him who could say, "I and my Father are One" (John 10:30). The term is variously translated by the versions. Septuagint, Ανδρα = πολίτην μου: Aquila, Ανδρα σύμφυλον μου: Vulgate, Virum cohaerentem mihi. That the Shepherd is Messiah is proved by Christ's application of the following clause to himself (Matthew 26:31)…” (Pulpit Commentary; bold and underline emphasis ours)

man that is my fellow—literally, "the man of my union." The Hebrew for "man" is "a mighty man," one peculiarly man in his noblest ideal. "My fellow," that is, "my associate." "My equal" ([De Wette]; a remarkable admission from a Rationalist). "My nearest kinsman" [Hengstenberg], (Joh 10:30; 14:10, 11; Php 2:6). (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary; bold emphasis ours)

And here is a couple more:

“… The person against whom the sword is to execute its deadly mission is described as Jehovah’s shepherd, the natural reference of which is to one or the other of the shepherds mentioned in Zech 11. Some suppose that the foolish shepherd (11:15, 17) is intended (Grotius, Ewald, Maurer, Hitzig), but this does not follow necessarily from his being pierced by the sword, since in Is. 53. Jehovah is represented as bruising his righteous servant in whom He finds no fault. It is, moreover, put out of the question by the succeeding clause, the man my fellow, which could not, on any reasonable view, be applied to an unworthy person. גֶּבֶר עַמִיתי is very variously rendered in the versions,—LXX., fellow-citizen, Aqu., kinsman, Sym., of my people, Syr., friend, Targ., associate who is like him, Vulg., who cleaves to me, Theod., neighbor. The word עמית is found only here and in Leviticus, where it occurs eleven times (19:11, 15, 17, etc.), and always with a pronominal suffix, and as a concrete noun. Its general force is shown in 25:15, where it is used interchangeably with brother. It is certainly an abstract noun by its formation, and is so rendered by many (Gesenius, Fürst), but the uniform usage in Leviticus is decisive against this. Moses employs the term evidently to denote a close and intimate connection. Perhaps there is no nearer English equivalent than that of the E. V.,—fellow. גֶבֶֹר is not the ordinary word for man, but one derived from a root signifying to be strong, yet it is doubtful if any stress is to be laid upon this circumstance (Neumann), but it is scarcely doubtful that the term calls attention to the fact that he who is Jehovah’s fellow is also a man (Job 16:21). Who now is this peculiar being? Not Judas Maccabajus (Grotius), nor Pekah (Bunsen), nor Jehoiakim (Maurer), nor Josiah as representing the Davidic line (Pressel), nor the whole body of rulers including Christ (Calvin), but the Messiah (Fathers, Reformers, and most moderns). The unity indicated by the term fellow is one not merely of will or association, much less of function, but of nature or essence. It is common to object to this view that it is foreign to the sphere of the Old Testament, which knows nothing of the trinity of persons in the Godhead, so clearly revealed in the New. But this begs the question. And if it be admitted that a plurality of persons is distinctly taught in the later Scriptures, it is the most natural thing possible to find indications in the earlier revelation pointing in this direction,—not proof-texts, nor direct assertions, but statements like those in Pss. 2:110; etc., which, although they may have been mysterious to those who first read or “heard them, are to us illuminated by rays reflected back from the Light of the world. Were there any doubt it would be removed by the express allusion of our Lord in Matt. 26:31, 32, Mark 14:27, where He applies the latter half of the verse to Himself and his disciples. Yet this part cannot be separated from what precedes. Both must have a common subject…” (Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures; bold and underline emphasis ours)

“… the man who is my nearest one. The shepherd of Jehovah, whom Jehovah describes as a man who is His next one (neighbour), cannot of course be a bad shepherd, who is displeasing to Jehovah, and destroys the flock, or the foolish shepherd mentioned in Zechariah 11:15-17, as Grotius, Umbr., Ebrard, Ewald, Hitzig, and others suppose; for the expression "man who is my nearest one" implies much more than unity or community of vocation, or that he had to feed the flock like Jehovah. No owner of a flock or lord of a flock would call a hired or purchased shepherd his ‛âmith. And so God would not apply this epithet to any godly or ungodly man whom He might have appointed shepherd over a nation. The idea of nearest one (or fellow) involves not only similarity in vocation, but community of physical or spiritual descent, according to which he whom God calls His neighbour cannot be a mere man, but can only be one who participates in the divine nature, or is essentially divine. The shepherd of Jehovah, whom the sword is to smite, is therefore no other than the Messiah, who is also identified with Jehovah in Zechariah 12:10; or the good shepherd, who says of Himself, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30)…” (Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary; bold and underline emphasis ours)

What a truly amazing prophecy of the Messiah!


Summing Up Ally’s Woes

Here is what we discovered from our examination of the Messiah’s identity according to select passages from the Hebrew Bible, and subsequent Jewish interpretation of them.

The Messiah is the sovereign Lord of David who sits at God’s right hand forever and ever.

The Messiah is the God whose throne endures forever, and whom all the nations shall praise.

The Messiah is the child that the prophet Isaiah said would one day be born to reign forever on David’s throne as the Mighty God and Everlasting Father.

The Messiah is the glorious Son of Man that the prophet Daniel saw, the One who receives an indestructible kingdom and whom all the nations must worship and serve forever.

The Messiah is the Man whom the prophet Zechariah described as Yahweh’s equal, having the same essence and nature as God, who would be struck down for the sake of God’s people.

And since the Messiah is personally distinguished from Yahweh, this means that the OT prophets knew and bore witness to the fact that Yahweh isn’t a uni-Personal entity. Rather, God’s inspired spokespersons were made aware of the fact that the one true God exists as a multi-Personal Being, and that the Messiah fully shares in the unique divine identity of Yahweh himself.

Ally is now faced with a serious dilemma since his prophet denied all of the above revealed truths about the Messiah. Even though Muhammad agreed that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of by the prophets, he opposed the notion of the Messiah being the eternally reigning God that became man, and whom all the nations must praise and worship forever and ever. As such, Muhammad fails Ally’s very own criterion of conformity to the Hebrew Bible, and is therefore a false prophet whom Ally must shun and expose in order to keep people from following a man who contradicted the very inspired revelation of God given through his inspired prophets and messengers. 

This concludes our discussion for now. Lord willing, we will have more articles in the series in the not so distant future. In the meantime, do make sure to read the addendum to this current part of the series.

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural citations taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Holy Bible.