As a religious Jew raised in the yeshivot of Poland, like my peers, I knew that the secrets of Israel's redemption and the Messianic Days lay hidden in the book of Daniel. I also knew that some of the great Talmudic and post-Talmudic Rabbis had plunged into the study of this book and even plummeted the hidden secrets of its symbolic signs and cyphers. The Talmud and Midrash, discussing Israel's redemption, often refer to the book of Daniel as the revealer of the secret time of Messiah's coming. However. at the yeshiva I was ominously reminded of a warning and a curse pronounced against those who try to figure out the end. The Talmud says:
May they drop who try to figure out the end; for they say,
since the time of his [Messiah's] coming
This extreme condemnation can be understood when the error of Rabbi Akibah designating Bar Kosiba the Messiah is considered :
Rabbi Akibah made the inference, from the verse. 'Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land' (Haggai 2:6), that Simon Bar Kosiba was the Messiah, though he reigned only for two and a half years. 2
In the yeshiva I was therefore, forewarned that the secrets are in the Scriptures, but that it was dangerous to make assumptions or to figure them out lest we come to the wrong conclusion, as did Rabbi Akibah. The Midrash even states:
Two men had the end revealed to them; namely Jacob, as stated in Genesis 49: 1, '... that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days.' and Daniel (12:1, 4), 'And at that time thy people shall be delivered... . But thou O Daniel shut up the words... .' So even these two men were forbidden to reveal what they knew. ... 3
W hen Will Messiah Come?
The study of our greatest sages brought them to the conclusion that if the dates in the Scriptures are correct, then Messiah should have come in the first century of our era. or thereabouts. In a Talmudic portion it is written concerning the timing of the Messianic Age : The school of Elijah taught: The world is to be for six thousand years; two thousand years empty without Torah; two thousand years with Torah; and two thousand years Messianic Times... . 4
The many Messiahs who flourished during that period, claiming themselves to be redeemers, were all great disappointments. Finally. Simon Bar Kosiba, whom Rabbi Akibah called “Bar Kochba," came. Though he was active in the first part of the second century, Rabbi Akibah nonetheless adjusted him to the Messianic claim. For the majority of the Jewish people Bar Kosibah was a tragedy and a disappointment. Apart from the loss of tens of thousands of Jews at his defeat in Betar C.E. 135, his activities resulted in untold sufferings for the surviving, Jews.
In an eleventh century rabbinic portion, we read:
Woe, for the salvation of Israel has perished! But a voice came from
In another rabbinic portion, based in part upon a scripture in the book of Lamentations, ["she has none to comfort (Menachem) of all her friends,"] 6 the name of the Messiah is identified as Menachem Ben Ami-e1. 7 Messiah, then, is clearly "alive and well" for the last nineteen hundred years, according to these rabbinic writings. His name is Menachem (the Comforter) Ben Amiel (God is with his People). He started to work around the great Mediterranean Sea. went to Samaria (Korah), then Rome and the ends of the world. We may ask : Why was He expected during the first century? Clearly there was a certainty that Messiah had to appear at that period. This conviction was probably based upon the following passages in the book of Daniel:
Seventy weeks (or heptads - weeks of years) are determined upon the people
and upon the Holy City,
This revelation was a result of Daniel's prayers given to him by the angel Gabriel to explain the time, substance and circumstance of Israel's redemption.
The time embraced was “seventy sevens.” Within the sixty nine heptads (weeks of years), that is within 483 years, there will be a building up of Jerusalem's streets and canals, though in troublous times. After these 483 years, “Messiah is cut off, the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple will be destroyed by the people of the prince that shall come. Messiah was to come before the destruction of the Temple. This is the picture that the archangel Gabriel gave to Daniel.
Who is the Messiah?
It was Daniel's prophecy that challenged me many years to consider the Messiahship of Yeshua the Nazarene. Rabbinic authorities to whom I consulted said that the reference to Messiah in Daniel's prophecy was to King Agrippa, Herod’s descendant, who is called "Messiah" here and who was " before the Temple's destruction. Hence, the term "Messiah” is transferred to a carnal king, like Agrippa, or to the unknown Menachem Ben Amiel as recorded in the Midrash. On the other hand. I learned of Yeshua the Nazarene, who was "cut off” forty years before the Second Temple was destroyed.
The revelation given to Daniel also deals with the substance and the circumstances of Messiah's activity, "to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness." In other words, Messiah's death is distinctly connected with the atoning work that the Temple sacrifices were to accomplish, except that it would be a work of completion and fulfillment far greater than any Temple sacrifices could possibly secure. I was thus enabled to lay aside my fears and prejudices and to open the Brit Hadasha (NT) and learn more of him, who, as the Prophet says:
Hath borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows;
indeed fits perfectly into Daniel’s timetable. No one else qualifies;
The Rabbis Know About The Messiah by Rachmiel
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