Rambam Melachim 11 states that Moshiach should be one who studies Torah:

"וְאִם יַעֲמֹד מֶלֶךְ מִבֵּית דָּוִד הוֹגֶה בַּתּוֹרָה וְעוֹסֵק בְּמִצְוֹת כְּדָוִד אָבִיו."

"Now, if a king should arise from the House of David who is versed in Torah and engages in Commandments, as did David his forefather"

[Strangely in Hichos Teshuvah (9:2)] Rambam also shows how great should Moshiach be in Torah study and prophecy:

"מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאוֹתוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ שֶׁיַּעֲמֹד מִזֶּרַע דָּוִד בַּעַל חָכְמָה יִהְיֶה יֶתֶר מִשְּׁלֹמֹה.
וְנָבִיא גָּדוֹל הוּא קָרוֹב לְמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ. וּלְפִיכָךְ יְלַמֵּד כָּל הָעָם וְיוֹרֶה אוֹתָם דֶּרֶךְ ה'."

"as that king who will arise from the seed of David will be gifted with wisdom more than Solomon, and great in prophecy nigh unto Moses. He will, therefore, teach the whole people and point out to them the Lord's path"

However, from the following statement of his (in Melachim, based on the Gemmorah Yerushalmi Taanit 4:5):

"... רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא חָכָם גָּדוֹל מֵחַכְמֵי מִשְׁנָה הָיָה. וְהוּא הָיָה נוֹשֵׂא כֵּלָיו שֶׁל בֶּן כּוֹזִיבָא הַמֶּלֶךְ. וְהוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר עָלָיו שֶׁהוּא הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ. וְדִמָּה הוּא וְכָל חַכְמֵי דּוֹרוֹ שֶׁהוּא הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ. עַד שֶׁנֶּהֱרַג בַּעֲוֹנוֹת.

For Rabbi Akiva, one of the wisest of the Sages of the Mishna, was King Ben Coziba’s arms-bearer and said that he was the King Messiah. He and all the Sages of his generation thought that he was the King Messiah, until he was killed because of his sins"

As we know, R' Akivah was the Gdol Hador and other Sages were far more knowledgeable than Bar Kochbah to say the least. I could not find any mentioning of B"K's sayings or wisdom in the Talmud, instead, he's only mentioned as a purely military leader, not a Chacham.

First, is there a contradiction in Rambam betweens his first view that the Moshiach should be "more intelligent than King Salomon" and R"Akiva's view that Bar Cochbah was the Moshiach despite his mediocracy?

Second, which way do we hold LeHalachah - should the Moshiach be Gdol Hador or just an exceptional military leader?

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    False dichotomy. One can be a military/political leader and a Torah observant Jew. none of those sources speak of the "greatest" anything. It's the right balance that matters – Double AA Jan 5 at 22:55
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    There are many tanaim who only appear once in the mishnah. We have no evidence that Bar Koziva was any less of a talmid chacham than Rabbi Meyasha (Peah 2:6) or Rabbi Yehuda ben Dama (one of the 10 harugei malchus). – Heshy Jan 6 at 1:05
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    Does the Rambam ever say the king will start out super knowledgeable? We have no reason to think Bar Kochva wouldn't have developed into the greatest prophet as time went on. – Double AA Jan 6 at 16:33
  • @DoubleAA I edited the question to show that Rambam holds in Teshuva that Moshiach should be THE Gadol and a prophet. If you have any sources for B"K being a Gadol please answer in my other question. – Al Berko Jan 6 at 16:33
  • @AlBerko Within context, that quote says that when the Messianic era is reached, the Messiah will then be gifted extraordinary wisdom. However, it doesn't say anything about the time leading up to the Messianic revelation. Nobody held that at the time of the Bar Kochba revolt the Messianic era was reached (as they were still in the middle of fighting), just that Bar Kochba was the one who would lead Bnai Yisrael into the Messianic Era. – Salmononius2 Jan 6 at 17:58

See here for the six virtues chazzal said Moshiach will have.

משיח דכתיב (ישעיהו יא, ב) ונחה עליו רוח ה' רוח חכמה ובינה רוח עצה וגבורה רוח דעת ויראת ה' וגו' וכתיב (ישעיהו יא, ג) והריחו ביראת ה'

The Messiah was blessed with six virtues, as it is written: “And 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”(Isaiah 11:2); and it is written: “And his delight [vahariḥo] shall be the fear of the Lord, and he shall neither judge after the sight of his eyes, nor decide after the hearing of his ears” (Isaiah 11:3)

I see nothing in your sources that is difficult with any of this. He died for what he did wrong at a later point than when Rabi Akiva assumed he was Moshiach. We can assume Rabi Akiva agreed he wasn't Moshiach once he was killed. We shouldn't assume he had any mediocre traits while in his prime just because nothing is mentioned explicitly.

  • Thank you for answering. I don't really see how you address my question. THere's a prophecy - OK. But B"K wasn't even close to R"A and his students in Torah wisdom, unlike what Rambam (and Isaiah) demand. So the Q stands - why would R"A believe in B"K? – Al Berko Jan 7 at 18:42

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