Twin Messiahs

The concept of the Messiah has its own peculiar twist amongst Karaites. What I'm about to describe in this hub is derived from an ancient belief that I'm aware a large number of my fellow Karaites don't even recognize because they have been influenced by Rabbanite Judaism for so long. Somwhere in our history they have forgotten about this concept even though it is quite strong in our literature. Our belief in the Messiah is peculiar for one very unique reason, that being that we aren't expecting one but two messiahs. The full explanation of the duo messiahship can be read in my book The Caiaphas Letters ( so I'm only going to provide a brief overview here. The belief as I mentioned is actually very old. Old enough that even one of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumram, the Manual of Discipline to be exact, comments that at the End of Days there will be both the Priest and the Messiah of Israel. An indication that there was at least amongst the Essenes an expectation of two men that would save the nation, one of them being this aforementioned Priest, or the Messiah of Aaron. Ten centuries later, we find this same reference used by David ben Abraham al-Fasi, a Karaite writer and scholar. Al-Fasi refers to them as the two anointed ones but does add his personal comment that he believes the Messiah of Aaron is none other than the prophet Elijah returning. It is interesting that al-Fasi credits Elijah with a Second Coming, a belief similar to the return of Jesus amongst Christians but I personally believe he has mistaken a metaphor for something more literal. There is an old folk-tale amongst Judaism, which springs to life at every Passover, that the prophet Elijah will return to herald the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. As I read the ancient documents, my impression is that we are not to take it as a literal reference to Elijah but an allusion that someone like Elijah (ie. having the qualities and abilities of Elijah) will arise and herald the coming of the Messiah of David.

The Messiah of Aaron

I think the best indication of what this high priest with Elijah like qualities will do is from the commentary of Yefet ben Ali, the Karaite commentator of the 10th century when he analyzed the book of Malachi and stated that this Priestly Messiah will educate the people and end the disagreement, a reference to the division that has now persisted for a millennia between Karaites and Rabbanites. And the division ends not by a mutual consensus to adopt a blended religion but by the full adoption of Karaism by all the Rabbanites.  A very interesting perspective since Yefet ben Ali was well aware that the anti-Karaite feeling of his time by Rabbanites was virulent and they wished for nothing better than for Karaism to be obliterated completely. It is also very interesting that this Messiah of Aaron is expected to come from the wilderness, a reference to a land far beyond the boundaries of the world that ben Ali could fathom. Virtually, he's an outsider, not coming from the mainstream of Karaism or the obvious Karaite communities.   Wherever he does come from, he will not only bring the majority of Jews back to Israel but he will restore their tribal allegiances. No small task since most Jews are completely unaware of which tribe they are descended from. Once he has restored the Temple, he will then anoint the Messiah of David. From this description it would appear that the Messiah of Aaron is actually the great redeemer, responsible for everything that was usually attributed to the Messiah of David. In fact, from the writers standpoint, the Messiah of David isn't responsible for doing very much when his role is assessed. This focus on the Messiah of Aaron may be the result of Karaite interpretations of Zechariah vi-13 "And he shall sit and rule upon his throne and there shall be a priest upon his throne' followed by a comment in reference to this priest, 'but upon himself shall his crown shine again as in the beginning.' The shining or illumination of this new world is a task attributed to the Messianic priest upon his throne, not the one sitting on David's throne.

Dual Messiahs

Karaite liturgy is quite clear on the expectation of twin messiahs. Most Karaite prayers make reference to the restoration of the Kingdom of David and the priesthood. Those prayers such as Yeolah Veyavoh burrowed from Rabbinic liturgy have 'and the seed of Aaron' added to the Davidic messiah reference. Aaron ben Elijah of Nicomedia suggested that at the conclusion of a Karaite service a silent prayer be added which says 'we pray for the ingathering of Israel and the coming of the son of David, our righteous messiah, and the priest, the righteous messiah.'  Again I find it interesting that there is a distinct difference to the two messiah's as indicated by the use of the references 'our' and 'the' before righteous messiah.' This would be suggestive that the first messiah is popular amongst the people hence the use of 'our', but the latter is messiah appointed by God. He doesn't belong to us, he comes from a higher power. This would support the earlier comment that it is the priestly messiah that will anoint the Davidic messiah, a clear indication that the priestly messiah was not anointed by man but by God.

The Dual Messiah concept is another point of differentiation between Karaites and Rabbanites with the latter having only the singular belief in a messiah from the House of David. This is in spite of the many Tanach references to two messiahs a few of which I have provided. Perhaps the appearance of the Messiah of Aaron will be enough to eliminate the division between our two cultures, because as soon as he appears, then the Rabbanites will know that they were wrong!

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Comments 20 comments

Kahana profile image

Kahana 3 years ago Author

What does the Story of Ruth teach us? The answer is that even one not born of Jewish parents can be the progenitor of a Jewish King. It teaches us that it does not take seven, or even three generations to become part of the Children of Israel but merely one. As soon as Naomi laid Obed to her chest, he was a Hebrew. As soon as Naomi claimed Ruth was better than having seven trueborn sons, she was Herbrew. It is a story about how even those that are strangers to our faith can become part of us and even greatness can stem forth from them. But it is not a story confirming Messiahship on David's lineage.

What do we learn from the story of Joseph? We learn that all the other brother's (tribes) will bow down before the tribe of Joseph. In Chapter 48 of Genesis we learn that Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph before he even blessed his own children. And that Ephraim was to come first and from him would come great nations. From Chapter 49 we learn that Judah will hold the sceptre for a while but in the end it will return to Shiloh. Not Judah, not necessarily Ephraim, but to Shiloh, possibly an outsider. (read my Journey into Shiloh series for further explanations). We know from Zechariah there must be two and one of them is Aaronic. So as far as necessitating that the redeeming messiah will be Davidic, that may not be the case. That as I mentioned is only the Rabbinic version of future events.

bn olof 3 years ago

try ruth story,he was outsider as moabite lineage or goy..look at boaz redeeming ,2 redeemers, also joseph story tells all. 2nd one king comes from benjamin/david

Kelaiah 4 years ago

Actually, 'nobody', the Levitical Messiah, according to the Prophet Malachi, will hold the Covenant of 'Life and of Peace'. This Covenant was a result of the 'zealousness' of the grandson of Aaron, Phinehas. Yet, to understand completely this Prophecy of the two 'Anointed Ones' throughout the Tanakh, we must understand the vision of Daniel in 12:5. The 'river' in this vision represents 'time' (As the one above the river talks of the timing of the end, or ends). As the two 'Anointed Ones' stand on different shores, they would be standing upon the earth at different 'times', yet having singular 'missions' - to rescue 'the children of thy people'. Looking back at history, Prophecy should be easy to see, if history was not tempered by religions of man who sought to circumvent the Truth. The 'abomination that causes desolation' occurred during the building of Herod's Temple, the 'third temple'. If you knew the true history of what happened to the Jewish people during this time-frame, you would have understanding. As for the second 'Anointed One'... Would the world understand, or even accept, his message? As the 'priest's lips should keep knowledge', will it verify, or deny, the religions of man and the traditions of man, or, as Isaiah tells us, show us a 'higher' way through his 'heart of flesh' (Ezekiel)? And, as the 'children' were scattered during the time of the first 'Anointed One', seek not the Levite within Israel, nor even any currently accepted 'movements' of Judaism, as this will be a 'new' heart placed within Humanity as a result of the Levite. Seek out the 'little one' for his time is soon to be.

Kahana profile image

Kahana 4 years ago Author

All scriptural references are to the superiority of the Messiah ben Aaron. The messiah ben David, though serving a military purpose is not credited with bringing about the rebirth of the nation. In a theocracy, it is the priest that is the ultimate and one must remember that God never wished for Israel to be ruled by kings.

nobody 4 years ago

Messiah Aaron will be the lesser of the two just as Aaron was less than Moses

Alexandru Aron 4 years ago

Those who heed Him are the poor of the flock; they will be saved at the time of visitation. But others will be delivered up to the sword at the coming of the Messiah of Aron and Israel.

[Damascus document 19.9-11]

And they shall not depart from any counsel of the law to walk in all the stubbornness of their heart, but they shall be governed by the first ordinances in which the members of the community began their instruction, until the coming of the prophet and the anointed ones of Aron and Israel

[Manual of discipline 9.9b-11]

Alexandru Aron 4 years ago

Those who heed Him are the poor of the flock; they will be saved at the time of visitation. But others will be delivered up to the sword at the coming of the Messiah of Aron and Israel.

[Damascus document 19.9-11]

And they shall not depart from any counsel of the law to walk in all the stubbornness of their heart, but they shall be governed by the first ordinances in which the members of the community began their instruction, until the coming of the prophet and the anointed ones of Aron and Israel

[Manual of discipline 9.9b-11]

Aron Alexandru 4 years ago

It's interesting, in fact even a blind woman from Bulgary says same thing ... He is not from there but it's an outsider...Tha means he is NOT jewish but his root are... But the main thing is he will come from outside borders far away from boundaries...So many prophtes says this not only dead sea scrols...

theology 5 years ago

@KAHANA > Thanks

Kahana profile image

Kahana 5 years ago Author

Theology, to understand the concept of messiah then you have to appreciate exactly what the redemption is. In the biblical sense it is restoration. THerefore in the example that you mention, I don't see the religious obligation fulfilled as there was no restoration. In fact, the exact opposite was true in the case of Jesus. Everything was changed, altered, and diverted in complete contrast to the concept of messiahship. Whether he intended to do so or not, the fact is that it did happen and therefore the definitions under Christianity do not fulfill the biblical intent.

theology 5 years ago



Curious u said about Dead Sea Scrolls, me too saw that the Essenes believed in 1 political messiah and another religious (this preceding that).

I thought up on the assumption that Jesus could be seen as a messiah more in the religious style (would be the 1st), although to say that he was descended from David (the 2nd, that will come).

john 6 years ago

actually there is a striking note about a "Twin Saviour" mentioned in the Gospel of Mary (aka Pista Sophia)..just type in google "twin saviour crystallization"...

read it and tell me what you think...

Kelaiah 6 years ago

This can also be found in the Book of Enoch and the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. Does not Malachi state that 'Judah' will purify 'Levi'? And, if you look at Psalm 110 (usually referred to Christians as signifying their single Messiah) it refers to 'two' also. How can one sit on the right (Psalm 110:1), and the left (Psalm 110:5), hand of the Lord(read God)? Could the 'rod of Your strength' be a reference to the 'rod' of Aaron? Very curious...

D. Kornels 7 years ago

Rabbinical Judaism has always believed in 2 messianic appearances/roles- one of a suffering servant and one of a reigning king. The ancient argument was over it being 1 messiah coming twice or 2 messiahs coming once. They abandoned this idea as Christianity had overwhelming argued proof from the Torah and the life of Yeshua ( depending on how one decides to interpret the Pardes levels of Torah) that Yeshua has fulfilled the suffering servant role. Because this is hard to deal with, Rabbinical Judaism today has pushed the notion of 2 messianic roles under the rug (denying the suffering servant role) with the exception of some Chassidic sects that still believe in 2 roles, however they have adopted a view that the suffering servant- Messiah Ben Yosef will die in a military battle.

Rabbinic Judaism has also taught that a righteous person can suffer for the sins of his people, ex. since Talmudic times the Rabbis believe that Isaac literally died on the altar as a righteous sacrifice, G-d resurrected him and even in Rosh HaShannah liturgy today, Jews plead the righteousness of Isaac for their sins.

I do find the Karaite concept of twin messiahs interesting and thank Kahana for sharing it.

Kahana profile image

Kahana 7 years ago Author

Yolad, I think you've raised an interesting point in that the twin messiah concept was well known at the time of Jeshua. And as Alan mentioned above, there were many that insisted that John the Baptist was part of the dual concept and for several hundred years there were groups that actually considered John the messiah and not Jesus. Because the twin messiahs were so ingrained into the thinking, groups like the Samaritans were awaiting the Taheb who was synonymous with the Messiah ben Yosef. Karaites remain adherent to the rod and the sceptre which shall not fall for an eternity implying Aaron and David. But the most important understanding is that when these messiahs do come, the promise of the endtime will be fulfilled. Not some time in the distant future but at the time of their coming, hence Yeshua did not fulfill the prophecy.

yolad 7 years ago

I found this very interesting.

Judaism actually has seen two messiahs; they are called Mashiach ben Yoseph and Mashiach ben David.

And there is something about writings in the Dead Sea Scrolls about two messiahs Aaron and Israel.

Now I find that the Karaites have the same sort of dual messiahs.


So why the big controversy about Y'shua (Y'shua the Jew not the Christian idea of Jesus).

Y'shua obviously fills both roles of Mashiach ben Yoseph and Mashiach ben David. Coming first in a priestly role then in the Messiah role.

Kahana profile image

Kahana 7 years ago Author

Well Grim, I hope you don't mind me calling you Grim, but considering Christianity represents less than 25% of the world's faith, to go around calling everyone else followers of False Religion might be a little extreme. One must remember that Jesus was born a Jew, practiced his beliefs as a Jew, and died as a Jew. Everything else followed long afterwards. So was Jesus practicing a False Religion by your definition?

Kahana profile image

Kahana 7 years ago Author

Yes Alan, I think you are very correct in your assumption that the Twin Messiah concept was already well established at that time and even though it does not come out and clearly state it in the New Testament, it is alluding to it with the prior presence of John the Baptist (who many believe to be an Essene therefore very familiar with Qumram documents). The major difference is that John insists that Jesus will eclipse him, whereas the twin Messiah concept always insists the Messiah of Aaron will be the dominant figure. There is enough circumstantial evidence of the Twin Messiahs to suggest it was a well established belief.

GRIM REAPER 7 years ago

The idea of False religion is real especially this idea. There was only one Called Jesus Christ, the real Messiah.

alanbedford 7 years ago

The Twin Messiah concept and the role of Elijah is perfectly compatible with the Christian belief that John the Baptist served as the "Elijah" who baptized (anointed) Jesus. Also, the Book of Zechariah describes two olive trees which represent what you may call the twin Messiahs.

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