The Shoot and the Root of Jesse

Concerning the coming Messiah, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious” (11:1,10 ESV).

If you look closely, these two verses reveal an amazing fact about the Messiah. J. Alec Motyer explains:

One of the most striking features of this remarkable passage is the dual title of the coming King as both the shoot (1) and the Root (10) of Jesse. The reference to Jesse indicates that the shoot is not just another king in David”s line but rather another David. In the books of Kings, successive kings were assessed by comparison with “their father David” (e.g. 2 Ki. 18:3) but no king is called “David” or “son of Jesse”. Among the kings, David alone was “the son of Jesse” (e.g. 1 Sa. 20:27-33; 1 Ki. 12:16), and the unexpected reference to Jesse here has tremendous force: when Jesse produces a shoot it must be David. But to call the expected king the Root of Jesse is altogether another matter for this means that Jesse sprang from him; he is the root support and origin of the Messianic family in which he would be born. According to Genesis 3:15 the human family is kept in being, notwithstanding the edict of death (Gn. 2:16f.), because within it the conquering seed will be born. In the same way, here, the Messiah is the root cause of his own family tree pending the day when, within that family, he will shoot forth. In the Old Testament this is a dilemma awaiting resolution.


  • Motyer, J. Alec. The Prophecy of Isaiah. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993. p. 121.
Posted by Jacob Abshire on August 25th, 2009 - 10:40 pm
Categories: Articles,Quotes

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