This might be [is] a very tenuous proposition / link in the Nazaret / Nazarite / Nasoraeans, etc., investigation, but I came across this
Soon after Simon Ben Kosiba had come to power (the summer of 132 CE is assumed)
, he took on the role of a leader and called himself nasir
or 'prince' of the Jews. Even without crediting him with the title of Messiah, as done by an unknown Jewish author of the second century (only later potentially identified with Rabbi Aqiva) and by Christian sources, Jewish texts attribute to him the verse from Num. 24: 17 (‘ A star shall step forth from Jacob’). And even if we remain sceptical about this attribution, we can follow Peter Schäfer’s well-informed view that the label ‘Messianic’ can be attached to Bar Kokhba and his rebellion, because one cannot ‘distinguish neatly between merely a “down-to-earth” military leader/ warrior on the one hand and a utopian figure with “divine and supernatural qualities” on the other’. Schäfer rightly cautions us that such ‘distinction between the “religious” and the “political” is here misguided and possibly even inspired by the (later) Christian reinterpretation of the originally Jewish Jesus movement’, and he adds: ‘Jewish Messianism was always fluctuating between “utopia” and “reality” as two extreme poles of a broad spectrum, at different times and in different contexts emphasizing different aspects of what may be loosely collected under the common denominator “Messianism”.’ [Schäfer 2003: 17-18]
Looking at the background of Simon Ben Kosiba’s self-designation of nasir
it quickly becomes evident that he was certainly more than just a warrior to rid Judea of the Romans. We know of a series of evidence from Second Temple Judaism that provides us with an apocalyptic messianism that combined utopian peace and righteousness with a foregoing fierce battle and war against the unrighteous.
Examples are the so-called Animal Apocalypse
85– 90, which dispenses with a single messianic figure but where all are asked to participate in the final battle and victory. The Apocalypse
starts with the vision of a single star falling from heaven and four white men, of which the first binds the first star and casts it into a narrow, deep, stupendous, and gloomy valley. Then follows the history of Israel in this earthly valley, until in 1Enoch
90 we reach the outlook for the future:
6 For I know, that oppression will exist and prevail on earth; that on earth great punishment shall in the end take place; and that there shall be a consummation of all iniquity, which shall be cut off from its root, and every fabric raised by it shall pass away. Iniquity, however, shall again be renewed, and consummated on earth. Every act of crime, and every act of oppression and impiety, shall be a second time embraced. 7 When therefore iniquity, sin, blasphemy, tyranny, and every evil work, shall increase, and when transgression, impiety, and uncleanness also shall increase, then upon them all shall great punishment be inflicted from heaven. 8 The holy Lord shall go forth in wrath, and upon them all shall great punishment from heaven be inflicted. 9 The holy Lord shall go forth in wrath, and with punishment, that he may execute judgment upon earth. 10 In those days oppression shall be cut off from its roots, and iniquity with fraud shall be eradicated, perishing from under heaven. 11 Every place of strength shall be surrendered with its inhabitants; with fire shall it be burnt. They shall be brought from every part of the earth, and be cast into a judgment of fire. They shall perish in wrath, and by a judgment overpowering them for ever. 12 Righteousness shall be raised up from slumber; and wisdom shall be raised up, and conferred upon them. 13 Then shall the roots of iniquity be cut off; sinners perish by the sword; and blasphemers be annihilated everywhere. 14 Those who meditate oppression, and those who blaspheme, by the sword shall perish. 15 And now, my children, I will describe and point out to you the path of righteousness and the path of oppression. 16 I will again point them out to you, that you may know what is to come. 17 Hear now, my children, and walk in the path of righteousness, but shun that of oppression; for all who walk in the path of iniquity shall perish for ever. [Trans. from Ethiopic by (Laurence 1883)]
, we find the Davidic Messiah ‘envisaged in the Psalms of Solomon
, placed at a most concrete point in history (the capture of Jerusalem and the Temple by Pompey in the year 63 BCE). He is described in terms very similar to those used to denote the Qumranic Nasi
, which resonate with the program that Bar Kokhba tries to carry out’:
21 See Lord, and raise up for them their king, the son of David, to rule over your servant Israel in the time known to you, O God. 22 Undergird him with the strength to destroy the unrighteous rulers, to purge Jerusalem from gentiles who trample her to destruction. … 26 He will gather a holy people whom he will lead in righteousness; … 30 And he will have gentile nations serving him under his yoke … And he will purge Jerusalem (and make it) holy as it was even from the beginning, 31 (for) nations to come from the ends of the earth to see his glory … 32 … There will be no unrighteousness among them in his days, for all shall be holy, and their king shall be the Lord Messiah. [Psalms of Solomon 17: 21– 32, trans. (Wright 1985: 667)]
As with Bar Kokhba we read about a messianic kingdom here on earth, very similar also to what we read in 4Ezra
, which distinguishes between ‘this earthly world’ and a ‘world to come’, but where the messianic regime is ‘a limited Messianic age as an intermediate period’.[Schäfer 2003: 18]
The tradition of the nasi(r) leading the people together with a powerful priest is well attested
‘from the prophet priest Ezekiel, through Qumran and the Zealots to Bar Kokhba’ [see David Goodblatt according to (Schäfer 2003: 19)].
Vinzent, Markus, Writing the History of Early Christianity: From Reception to Retrospection
, pp. 217-219; Cambridge University Press, 2019.