From my studies I've read that numerous Jewish "sages" considered the את to be a mystery and related it to the Messiah. So, I'm not certain that it is just a new fad.
Also, from my understanding (which is very limited) the את does not necessarily mean "Messiah" in a literal way, but has a relationship to Him or to a covenant through Him, etc. It seems that there are many places where the את is NOT used as a direct object pointer (in fact, most places it could be used as this it doesn't appear).
Another interesting point seems to be where it is and isn't used at times. For example (I'm going from memory here), the את is used every time before the name of Esau in the book of Genesis. That is, until he gives up his birth right - it is never before his name from that point! I think a similar thing is seen with Ruth, but in reverse.
Anyway, just a couple more thoughts on the topic. You're correct in saying that we need to be careful not to jump onto any new bandwagon. We must always use wisdom as we look at any teaching.
Shalom, Marcus, and thank you for your comment, and for taking the time to read the article!
I've heard that as well, though never seen any verifiable proof that Jewish sages actually did, in fact, do so. Generally, I have only heard that espoused from those who support the "Messiah the Alef-Tav" theory.
The את is not exclusively used as a direct object pointer, you are correct. As I mentioned in the article, it has numerous uses.
In English, we do not really have a direct object indicator, as we use word order to dictate that relationship. Thus to say "Elohim (subject) created (verb) the heavens (object)," would be completely altered if one were to change the order of the subject and object. Thus swapping the two we would have "the heavens (subject) created (verb) Elohim (object)." In many languages, a direct object indicator is used when word order doesn't matter, but in English it does (clearly).
As for the את as an indicator in Hebrew, it is used as such many times, but is not always used, you are correct. Because in Hebrew there is more than one way to indicate the direct object. Think of the example of Elohim creating the heavens I just gave. Now say it in "Yoday speak" (if you know Star Wars). It would be, "created the heavens, Elohim did." Change of word order still indicates the same structure, but that also depends on how the order is written.
So just as there is more than one way to indicate the direct object (including in some cases by using the passive voice), so Hebrew can indicate the direct object in other ways, too.
As for Esau, you are correct, but remember that Esau's name was changed to Edom, so it is no surprise if it no longer appears connected to "esav" because it would then be connected to "Edom." And we see just that in 1 Ki. 11:15, 2 Ki. 8:21, and multiple other places when speaking of the people of Edom (Esau).
If the theory goes that Messiah (or even a relationship to Him or His covenant) is indicated by the appearance of the את, then why is it not true every time? My primary issue is that those who espouse this theory, refrain from telling you that it CANNOT indicate a relationship to Messiah every time it appears. That being the case, who, then, gets to determine in what instances it DOES indicate a supernatural relationship, and in what instances it does NOT?
That is my issue with the idea. As times goes on and new discoveries are made and textual criticism is advanced, my opinion may well change (it has multiple times before, including on this issue). But for now, there simply isn't support for the idea in my view.
J. A. Brown