First, let me say that two messiahs is not my belief or opinion, but rather is an Orthodox Jewish tradition derived from the Zohar, an ancient Kabbalistic writing. You can see that this idea does not come from the Word of God. The Zohar is believed to have been written between the Second Century and the Thirteenth Century of the Christian era. This rabbinic belief came about after the time of the Lord Jesus here on earth, and the many parallels between the Bible and this belief of two messiahs are evident.
The rabbis state that there will be Messiah ben (son of) Joseph, and Messiah ben (son of) David. The first is not the purported son of Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth, but a descendant of Joseph the son of Jacob. Obviously, the second will be a descendant of David, King of Israel.
The first, ben Joseph, will be a precursor of the second, ben David. The first will lay the groundwork for the second. He will battle the enemies of Israel and prepare the situation for the second, ben David. Messiah ben Joseph will be mistreated by his own people, and will possibly be killed by them(!!!). Some Jews believe that this Messiah ben Joseph will then be resurrected! Does this sound familiar?
The second messiah, ben David, will be the one that establishes Israel as the pre-imminent nation of the world, which is prophesied many places in the Old Testament. Some rabbis teach that when Messiah ben David sees that Messiah ben Joseph is dead, he will ask God to “give ben Joseph the gift of life,” or be resurrected.
One of my favorite occasions from the Bible is when Jesus went to His home synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21). There He read Isaiah 61:1-2. Verse two demonstrates the two different ministries of Jesus, and He stopped right in the middle of verse two, thus declaring the first part of His ministry and not revealing the second part. You can see how the Jews have interpreted the two different ministries of the Messiah from the Book of Isaiah, and determined that there will be two separate messiahs.
The Jews missed the Messiah two-thousand years ago, because of their expectation and a strong desire for a ruling Messiah instead of an humble, suffering Messiah. They will also be misled in the Last Days, again because of man-made expectations. They will not recognize the true Messiah until some point in the Tribulation.
May this be a lesson to us to beware the doctrines of men. (Matthew 15:9) Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Praise His wonderful name and His infallible Word!