Q: Could you help me with a point of early Jewish thought? Many people are aware of the idea that there were two comings of the Messiah. One from the line of David and one from the line of Joseph. I have heard that some early Jewish teachers actually saw this not as two comings of two Messiahs, but two comings of one Messiah. Do you know of any references which would verify/invalidate this?
A: The need to square the suffering, rejected and executed Messiah with the supernaturally endowed victorious hero of alternate Messianic texts led to a near monolithic consensus among the rabbis for a thousand years regarding the two Messiah theory. Nonetheless, what those two Messiahs would look like and how they would function was an area of diverse opinion. There is no clear rabbinic smoking gun text for us to quote which proves that anyone expected one Messiah in two advents. Nonetheless, Ibn Crispin in the 14th century identified Isaiah 53 as King Messiah as did Moishe Alshekh in the 16th century. A helpful book is Rafael Patai's “The Messiah Texts.” I know of no clear rabbinic sources prior to the 10th century that make any kind of clear statement regarding a single Messiah in two advents.