“Convincing Them of the True Messiah”
Succeeding generations embellished and extended such traditions to the point that many prophecies relative to the return of ancient prophet were confused and intertwined with the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. Because messiah means “anointed one” in Hebrew, it was a simple matter to confuse all prophecies relative to the coming of various of the Lord's anointed servants with the messianic figure. The Essenes, for example, anticipated the coming of a prophet of restoration, a priestly messiah, and a lay messiah (Manual of Discipline, ix. 8-11).
Later when Christ was to ask of his disciples:
“Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” the responses included John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, and others of the “old prophets ... risen again” (see Matthew 16:13-14; Luke 9:18-19).
Similarly, when the delegation of priests and Levites from the temple went into the wilderness to interrogate John, they asked whether he was Elijah, “that prophet,” or the Messiah (John 1:19-21). Both New Testament incidents demonstrate an anticipation on the part of the Jews of a day of restoration involving the coming and return of many of the Lord's servants (“anointed ones”). The prophetic word had become for them a collage of images in which they were unable to identify the true Messiah.