The talmud on Nedarim 39b (English) lists seven things that were created before the world: torah, repentance, Gan Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and "the name of the mashiach". The proof text offered for this last is Tehillim 72:17. I'm having trouble seeing how that text supports the claim in the g'mara.

The source text is:

יְהִי שְׁמוֹ לְעוֹלָם לִפְנֵי שֶׁמֶשׁ יִנּוֹן שְׁמוֹ וְיִתְבָּרְכוּ בוֹ כָּל גּוֹיִם יְאַשְּׁרֻהוּ:

May his name be forever; before the sun, his name will be magnified, and [people] will bless themselves with him; all nations will praise him.

In context this seems to be pretty clearly talking about Shlomo HaMelekh, the subject of the psalm, and Rashi agrees:

May his name: [May] Solomon’s name be remembered forever for his riches and his wisdom.

before the sun, his name will be magnified: All the days of the sun, his name will be magnified.

The verse begins יְהִי שְׁמוֹ , which to my knowledge usually means "may his name (be something) from this point forward"; it's not an assertion that it's always been so.

The Soncino translation of Nedarim 39b says this (note the editorial insertions):

The name of the Messiah, as it is written, His name [sc. of Messiah] shall endure for ever, and [has existed] before the sun!

Even if we say that the Soncino editor erred (a claim I am not qualified to make, but if it were so), we're left with the original g'mara that thinks this text somehow provides support. How?

How does the g'mara get from a verse about King Solomon to the idea that the mashiach's identity was set before creation? (And secondarily, why a Shlomo reference instead of a David one when we usually talk about the mashiach coming from the house of David?) My Aramaic is not good enough to tease this out from the original text.

  • added aggada tag; seems appropriate. Speaking of which, perhaps they only said this derech drash.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 21:26
  • I don't know if the agada tag is appropriate, but there are others here who know our tag set better than I do. Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 21:32
  • 2
    The Targum (T'hillim 72:1) reads the introduction to this psalm as meaning that Sh'lomo prophetically composed it as a reference to the Mashiach. (Accordingly, the final verse of the psalm would not specifically refer to this psalm). The Ibn Ezra also considers the possibility that this psalm was written about the Mashiach.
    – Fred
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 21:35
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    @MonicaCellio Well, it would still be unclear how the Talmud changed the seeming future tense of verse 17 into past tense (although the Targum explicitly does just that). One possibility I can think of is that the Talmud is homiletically reading "לִפְנֵי שֶׁמֶשׁ יִנּוֹן שְׁמוֹ" in isolation as a divine statement that was made prior to Creation. (Interestingly, this phrase is even understood homiletically in Sanhedrin 98b to indicate that the Mashiach's name is a variant of Yanai: "Before the sun, Yinon is his name").
    – Fred
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 21:50
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    Does the current answer-post answer the question? I'm confused by it
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


The Soncino means that the word liphnei is taken as before.

  • And what about the referent? Why isn't this about Shlomo according to them? Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 13:58

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