The “Branch of David” is a description that is used in the prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah and Revelation. It was used first by Isaiah, who prophesied from 740 BC in the Kingdom of Judah.
The context for this prophecy is the nation of Israel had abandoned their worship of God and were worshipping idols, and were therefore living violent, immoral lives. God had warned them to repent or judgement would follow. At the time of Isaiah, the nation of Israel was about to fall to Assyria. Isaiah had just prophesied to Judah not to fear Assyria, for God would cut them down. The following prophecy is one of hope for the kingdom of Judah that a Righteous King would arise and usher in a reign of peace.
Isaiah 11:1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
Rod – choter; rod, branch ,twig
Stem – geza; stem, trunk, stump
Branch- netser; sprout, shoot, branch
grow – parah; to bear fruit, be fruitful, increase
roots – sheresh; root
This verse is a word picture of a tree or vine which has been cut down, with only a stump remaining, out of which a new branch grows. The “stump of Jesse” refers to the house of King David, Jesse being the father of David, of the tribe of Judah.
The fact that it is a stump rather than a tree or vine points to the fact that Judah will “be cut down”. This happened with the exile of Judah to Babylon. The rod or branch refers to a descendent of David who would come forth from the remnant of Judah bearing fruit. This descendent, arising after the exile, would inherit the throne and rule over Israel forever.
Isaiah uses different Hebrew words as a word play to bring out meaning. “Netser”(branch) has the meaning of something green and growing, while the word for stump implies something which has dried and has no fruit. The word for grow implies not just a bare branch, but one full of life bearing much fruit.
The next verses expand on who this Branch is, and what He will do.
Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
This verse describes how the Holy Spirit will rest upon the Branch, ie He will be anointed with the Holy Spirit. He is therefore identified as the Messiah, which means “anointed One”.
This prophecy was fulfilled with the coming of Yeshua, who was a descendent of King David, and anointed by the Holy Spirit.
Note the seven descriptors of the Holy Spirit, possibly alluding to the seven fold Spirit in Revelations. These qualities are all necessary for the task of righteous ruling, which is described in the next verse.
Messiah’s Righteous Rule
Isaiah 11:3-4 His delight is in the fear of the Lord,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
These verses now show that He will come as King to rule on the earth, and his Kingdom will be one of righteousness & justice. In this world we see pervasive injustice, corruption, & sometimes pure evil in the government of many countries. When Messiah returns, this will end, and the poor will no longer be exploited and oppressed.
Messiah’s Rule of Strength
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
What is the rod of His mouth? The word for rod is shebet in Hebrew. It means rod, staff, branch, offshoot, sceptre. We see Isaiah again using word play. Messiah the branch & offshoot will rule with a rod or sceptre. The fact that it comes out of His mouth depicts how he will rule through speaking the Word with authority & power. Breath is the word ruach, which is also used for Spirit. Messiah will rule in the power of the Holy Spirit, clothed in the fruit of the Spirit of righteousness & faithfulness.
The word “shebet” referring to rulership is found in Psalms & Revelation:
Psa 2:9 You shall rule them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Psa 45:6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever: the sceptre (shebet) of your kingdom is a right (level, straight) sceptre
Rev 12:5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.
Rev 19:15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
The rod of iron denotes strength, the sceptre authority. It is used to rule and to avenge. It is described in Revelations as a sharp sword. Again it comes forth from his mouth which indicates his Word which goes forth in power to accomplish His will, and to execute judgement.
We see a demonstration of the power & authority in the words spoken by Yeshua, as he commands demons to depart, sickness to be healed, blind eyes opened, sins forgiven, the wind and waves calming, and Satan being defeated. All this was done through the “rod of his mouth”.
This was just the inauguration of His rule on earth, and we look forward to the full manifestation of Yeshua’s reign when He returns again to rule and reign from Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of his ancestor King David.
Continued in Part 2