by Dr. Yacov Tabak
Negative-seeming events may be the fulfillment of a prophecy that is a harbinger of redemption. Read on for a possible scenario in keeping with current and recent events and Biblical prophecy.
Executive Summary: A careful comparison of current events vis-à-vis the Palestinians and the so-called Peace Process with a variety of Jewish sources concerning events that are destined to take place at the Final Redemption, leads to surprising and positive possibilities. The following article describes a possible scenario and the Jewish sources on which it is based.
Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 12) teaches that the Jewish Oral Tradition does not clarify the details of future events described by the Prophets of Israel in the Bible. In his words,וכל אלו הדברים וכיוצא בהן לא ידע אדם איך יהיו עד שיהיו – "and in all these things and related matters man will not know how they will come about until they come about." In other words, no one knows exactly what the Prophets are describing until it takes place.
The Jewish Oral Tradition (תורה שבעל פה Torah she-Beal Peh) gives us abundant guidance on matters of Halakha – for instance, the פרי עץ הדר – “the fruit of the beauteous tree to be taken on Sukkot” - is defined by the Oral Tradition as the אתרוג etrog – the citron. Or, the Biblical injunction to וקשרתם לאות על ידך והיו לטטפת בין עיניך"bind them as a sign on your arms and frontlets between your eyes" we understand from the Torah she-Beal Peh refers to phylacteries – Tefillin – which are cubic black leather boxes containing parchments inscribed with very specific Biblical passages. Without the Oral Tradition, we would have no way of knowing this.
A comparable guide to understanding prophetic statements, however, is not revealed by the Oral Tradition. For instance, Isaiah 60:08, in reference to the returning of the Exiles to
Before the era of piloted manned flight began in the early twentieth century, classical commentators were simply unable to understand this passage. Today, when virtually all modern-era immigrants have reached
Another example is Isaiah 26:20 לך עמי בא בחדריך וסגור דלתך בעדך חבי כמעט רגע עד יעבר זעם - “Go My people come into your rooms and close your doors behind you, hide for just a moment until the fury passes". The Biblical commentator Radak comments that this will occur during the War of Gog Umagog and the reference to "rooms" is allegorical and refers to "taking shelter" so to speak, by doing good deeds and doing penance. Rashi states that the Jews will go to their synagogues and study halls at that time.
As we now know, this passage is a very accurate description of the seclusion in the "sealed rooms" used as a protection in Israel against chemical warfare agents in the first Gulf War in 1991 and the "fury passing" occurred when the "All Clear" sounded (the code words were "Sharav Kaved") allowing people to exit the sealed rooms after the Scud missile landed and was determined to be chemically non-threatening.
As Maimonides had said, when the prophecy comes to pass, we are able to understand the passage, and so it was.
The People of Israel have been experiencing events described as those of אחרית הימים "Acharit Hayamim" – the "Last of the Years" [not, as often mistranslated, "The End of Days"] referred to by the Torah and the prophets, when there is to be a massive ingathering of Jews to the Land of Israel, an extensive rebuilding of the country and its communities, and a Golden Age when כי מציון תצא תורה ודבר השם מירושלים - "for from Zion shall issue forth Torah (Teaching = knowledge, including technological and scientific advances) and the Word of G-d from Jerusalem" Isaiah 2:3 and Michah 4:2.
It is tempting to explore prophetic and Midrashic sources to look for the context of unfolding events. This study leads to encouragement as to their salutary outcome, despite the difficulties and challenges we face at present.
Rav Saadyah Gaon related to this over one thousand years ago in his ten-part seminal philosophical work הנבחר באמונות ודעות"Hanivchar Be'emunot Ve'deot" "Selected Matters of Faith and Doctrines of Dogma". In number 8 – בישועה "BaYeshuah" – "Concerning the Final Salvation" he states (according to the translation from the Arabic by Rav Yosef Kapach, page 247) ישתבח מי שהטיב לנו בהקדימו להודיע לנו את הצרות האלה שלא יבואו עלינו פתאום ויגרמו לנו ייאוש - “praised be He who benefited us in that He gave us advance notice concerning these troubles so that they would not happen to us suddenly and cause us despair".
To paraphrase this idea, there is a reason the prophets provide so much detail in their accounts of future events in the Messianic Age. After all, to convey basic Jewish Faith in the Redemption concept it would be enough for the Prophets to write "trust in the Ultimate Redemption – it will surely come."
The reason for the detailed scenarios described in Biblical prophecy is so that when these events begin to take place, we will be able to recognize the patterns and context of ominous developments, and know that the final outcome is positive.
The message of Rav Saadyah is that the detail has been provided in order that the Jewish people will not despair. This foreknowledge of the outcome provided by the prophets will preclude mass despair on the part of the Jewish public when the scenario of upcoming events of the Messianic era seems threatening and foreboding.
An example of this principle at work was provided over five years ago on the occasion of the destruction of Gush Katif. At that time, the prospect of
However, the Targum Yonatan ben Uziel on Deuteronomy 34:3 states: וית גלוות תלמידי אלישע דגלו מן קרוות דקליא על ידי אחוהון בית ישראל מאתן אלפין גוברין . . . וסדרי קרבא דגוג ובעידן צערא רבא ההיא מיכאל יקום בדרעא לפרוקא – in translation "And the exile of the students of Elisha [the Prophet] who are exiled from the Town of Dekalim by their brethren of the House of Israel – 200,000 men - . . . and the battle orders of Gog [and Magog] and in that era of great pain, Michael [the Archangel Michael – the guardian angel of the Jewish people] will arise with the [outstretched] Arm [of the Almighty] in order to redeem."
This source tells us that the evacuation of Gush Katif and its principle town Neveh Dekalim, exiling the Jewish residents, could be seen as an integral part of the upcoming scenario of Ultimate Redemption. Were it not for this source, we might have despaired of the future.
Taking it into consideration, although we do not yet understand the logic and we share the pain of the exiled pioneers, and although those who perpetrated the act chose of their own free will to cause immeasurable suffering, we can be heartened that it is part of the overall redemption scenario so that we do not "despair".[See for a detailed discussion of this source.]
These are Arabs who constitute a "national entity" invented recently of whole cloth and which never existed in world history. Their wish is to destroy the State of Israel and kill as many Jews as possible in the process. Prime Minister Netanyahu is being pushed into formulating a plan of further concessions, beyond those already granted, lest the "World" (i.e. the Quartet - the
The Palestinian enemy fully expects this scenario to materialize and so, steadfastly refuses to negotiate. Since the "World", lead by US President Barack Hussein Obama whose father was a practicing Moslem, does not punish them in any way for not negotiating, they feel vindicated in this assessment.
Let us consult Jewish sources to see if there are hints as to upcoming events. First we will review a possible scenario constructed from the Palestinian declared intentions and from prophetic sources that correlate with them. Then we will quote these sources in detail so as to back up the scenario. The result is much more encouraging than currently considered.
A Possible Scenario:
After extensive preparation of the apparatus of statehood and widespread recognition by a growing list of countries of an "independent state of Palestine with borders defined by the 1967 cease-fire lines", the Palestinians turn in September 2011 [see Note 1 below] to the UN Security Council to be recognized as an independent State within the pre-1967 armistice lines– meaning that the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood of Jerusalem, as well as many others, will be part of Security-Council-recognized Palestine.
The USA does not veto this resolution (the recent US veto of the anti-settlement Security Council resolution was a feint, and not a precedent) and it passes [see Note 2]; alternatively, if there is a veto, the Palestinians turn to the UN General Assembly, using the 1950's "Uniting for Peace" tactic which enabled the USA to engage in the Korean War although a Russian-Chinese veto had paralyzed the Security Council on this issue and receive their approval.
The Palestinians then turn to the State of Israel and request immediate evacuation of its nearly 650,000 citizens from "their state".
The deadline for
It has been demonstrated on the Internet that there is an elaborate US Armed Forces base in
Eight months after the initial invasion [see note 8], the force approaches
On the morning of Hoshanna Rabbah, the world looks entirely different. The final end to political or military pressure exerted on Jews and their State of Israel arrives.
At the close of this scenario, the Israel-Palestinian conflict ends forever. The Jews present in the
Those readers familiar with Jewish sources describing the War of Gog and Magog will recognize elements thereof in the above scenario. Let us now elaborate in detail the sources for the above account, point-by-point.
1. August-September, 2011 Security Council approval of a
This is the proclaimed intention of the Palestinian leadership, as declared repeatedly by their Prime Minister Salam Fayyad over the last 1 1/2 years. It is also the date by which the "Quartet" has determined that a final settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict be completed.
2. American non-use of the Veto at the Security Council : For the first time in history,
3. The Palestinians demand evacuation of their country by the Jewish non-citizens and refuse to negotiate: This is simply a logical conclusion based on their behavior and statements to date – force
4. The "Quartet" decides to force Israeli evacuation militarily: The entire tenor of the anti-Israeli international political atmosphere for the last two years leads directly to this outcome. It is this prospect that has Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak running scared and feeling pressured to make proposals to "advance the peace process," even though the current logjam in negotiations is entirely the fault of the Palestinians. Note the Arab League's announced plan to ask to make
5. The Jan.15, 2012 date: The first Gulf War in 1991 was fixed to begin on this date. Events in the solar calendar have particular significance for the non-Jewish world and those in the lunar calendar are significant for the Jewish world. (see BT Tractate Succa 29a – a solar eclipse is a bad omen for the non-Jews and a lunar eclipse is a bad omen for the Jews).
In 2012, the interval between Jan. 15 and Oct. 07, Hoshanna Rabbah – the seventh day of Sukkot, is exactly 266 days – 38 weeks, i.e. the nine months of a human pregnancy. According to BT Yoma 10a, "Ben-David (the Messiah) will only arrive after the evil kingdom of Rome dominates the entire world for a period of nine months as it says in Micah 5:2 "therefore give them the time it takes for her to give birth." The events at the closing stages of the Redemption process will last the nine months of human gestation.
Since it is understood that the finale of G-d's victory over the nations at the close of the Gog and Magog War takes place on the seventh day of Sukkot – Hoshanna Rabbah, it is logical to seek the year when this interval is 266 days. 2012 is such a year.
In Zechariah 14, it states that in response to the nations' invasion of Eretz Yisrael, ויצא השם ונלחם בגוים ההם כיום הלחמו ביום קרב - "And Hashem will go forth and do battle with those nations as on the day of His fighting on the day of
Since G-d's victory over the Egyptians in the Exodus culminated in the crossing of the
The connection with the Sukkot holiday is clearly indicated in Zechariah 14 and is the reason the chapters related to the War of Gog and Magog were chosen to be read as Haphtorot on Sukkot.
This connection is Torah-mandated. The 70 bulls sacrificed on Sukkot in the Holy Temple on behalf of the welfare of the 70-nations of the world are sacrificed not 10 per day for 7 days, but in a curious countdown from 13 on the first day to 7 on the last day. The total is 70, but the declining numbers are an ominous message to the nations that in the ultimate events to take place on Sukkot, they will not fare well (unless there is massive Teshuva – repentance - on their part; see Rashi on Numbers 29:18).
6. Christian and Moslem Contingents in the Invading Expeditionary Force: See Daniel 11:40 and following: 40 – ובעת קץ יתנגח עמו מלך הנגב וישתער עליו מלך הצפון ברכב ובפרשים ובאניות רבות ובא בארצות ושטף ועבר - “And at the time of the End [a synonym in Biblical terminology for Acharit Hayamim] there will be a collision with him by the King of the South and the King of the North will storm [his defences] with chariots and horsemen and many ocean-going vessels and he will sweep through and pass on”. – ויטע אהלי אפדנו בין ימים להר צבי קודש ובא עד קצו ואין עוזר לו - “And he will pitch his Royal tents between the seas and the mount of the Sacred Beauty [a synonym for the land of Israel] and he will come to his End, and there is no one to help him”. 12:1 – ובעת ההיא יעמוד מיכאל השר הגדול העמד על בני עמך והיתה עת צרה אשר לא נהיתה מהיות גוי עד העת ההיא ובעת ההיא ימלט עמך כל הנמצא כתוב בספר - "And at that time, the Great Archangel Michael [the traditional Guardian Angel of the Jews], who guards over Your people, will arise and there will be a time of troubles such as never before since becoming a nation until then, and at that time, Your people will escape – all those found to be written in the book."
The above passages describe a seminal war between the King of the South and the King of the North, who then unite to invade
From these sources, it derives that the invasion of
נושבות ואל עם מאסף מגוים עשה מקנה וקנין יושבי על טבור הארץ -"To take as booty the booty [the booty already taken--in the Six Day War?], and to despoil the spoils, to return your [violent] hand on resettled ruins and against a people ingathered from the Nations, dealing in commercial trade, and dwelling in the heartland [literally: the navel of the Land]".
This description closely suits the intent to uproot communities rebuilt in
7. 185,000 Soldiers: The B.T. Sanhedrin 95b describes that the future armies of Gog Umagog will encompass 185,000 troops as did the besieging army of Sancheriv (Sennacherib) who laid unsuccessful siege to Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah. The force is itemized there as 45,000 senior officers (with their camp-following consorts), 80,000 soldiers equipped with scale-equipped body-armor, and 60,000 swordsmen, in addition to various horsemen.
This analogy derives from the similarities between this account and the scenario foretold by the prophets for the Gog Umagog conflict. An expeditionary force coming against Israel has to be capable theoretically of defeating the IDF in battle, although a battle may not occur.
8. The attack on Jerusalem on Sukkot: See Zecharia 14 - the entire chapter – for the details of this invasion. The association with Sukkot is made at the end of the chapter where in the aftermath of G-d's victory over the nations, their survivors are commanded to visit Jerusalem annually on Sukkot in remembrance of this event.
This chapter is read in synagogues as the Haphtorah on the first day of Sukkot. And Chapters 38-39 of Ezekiel, mentioned above, are read on the Intermediate Sabbath of Sukkot as the Haphtorah. The two readings are associated with Sukkot because the events described there are destined to take place on Sukkot (see Rav Hai Gaon in Tur Shulhan Arukh – Orach Chaim – 490).
9.The Planet-wide Disaster on Hoshanna Rabbah: See the detailed scenario in Ezekiel 38-39 and Zecharia 14. Earthquakes, tidal waves, avnei elgavish (which I have identified as a major fall of earth-crossing asteroids on the planet that night of Hoshanna Rabbah); each of these has enough energy and destructive power to leave a crater or devastation where a city stood previously).
10. The Jews in Israel survive: In Joel 4:16: והשם מציון ישאג ומירושלים יתן קולו ורעשו שמים וארץ והשם מחסה לעמו ומעוז לבני ישראל - In the context of this war, "and G-d will roar forth from Zion, and He will raise His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will tremble [the Biblical verb for an earthquake] and G-d will be a shelter for His people and a fortress for the children of Israel".
Furthermore, by analogy with the Exodus as defined above, the concept of הפלאה"hafla'ah" – contradistinction – was a dominant theme in the Exodus. Plague after plague smote the Egyptians but the Israelites were unaffected. See the account of the plague of "dever" – cattle blight – in Exodus 9:7 where Pharaoh cannot believe that the Israelites lost no cattle to this plague and sent a personal emissary to the land of Goshen to confirm this amazing contradistinction.
So may we hope that it will be in the Final Redemption, and although there will be massive perishing all over the planet, the Jews in Israel will survive unharmed, decisively demonstrating G-d's intervention on their behalf. This will serve to convince the surviving non-Jews of the globe Who orchestrated this world-wide catastrophe – and why.
Finally, in Deuteronomy 32:25, the song of Ha'azinu, it states מחוץ תשכל חרב ומחדרים אימה - "michutz teshakel cherev umechadarim eimah" literally – "outside there will be loss of life by sword, and indoors there will be great fear." The Targum Yonatan on this passage: עמא דגלו מברא לארעא דישראל תתכיל יתהון מחת חרבא ודמשתיירין בארעא דישראל בגו קיטוני מדמיכיהון איגרי בהון הגרת מותא - "The people exiled outside the boundaries of the Land of Israel will suffer the blow of the sword and those remaining in the Land of Israel in their bedrooms where they sleep will fear the fear of death."
This strongly suggests that the safest place for the Jews to be during that Sukkot will be in Israel – they will fear, but will remain alive.
11. Destruction of the Past and Current Enemies of the Jews at that time: This theme recurs in the Bible and the words of the prophets repeatedly. One quote will illustrate the point: Deuteronomy 32:43 – again from the Song of Ha'azinu: הרנינו גוים עמו כי דם עבדיו יקום ונקם ישיב לצריו וכפר אדמתו עמו - "Nations, praise His people, for He has avenged the blood of His servants, and He will visit vengeance on His adversaries and will atone for His land and for His people."
As quoted above, Maimonides warns that no one knows for sure to what events specific prophecies refer until they come to pass. However, we live in times so replete with prophecies in the midst of fulfillment that we may be forgiven for constructing possible scenarios.
The above is one such scenario, congruent with Jewish sources. There may be others with different outcomes. If there is an armed invasion of
However, as described above, the outcome may be dramatically more favorable for the Jews. There will be no room for despair, but rather for intense optimism, and that precisely is the message of Rav Saadyah Gaon above in explaining why we have been provided by Divine guidance with all this information.
[Note: The ideas and substance of the above, including the key dates and details, were broadcast on Arutz 7 Internet Radio – the Tamar Yonah Show, on the occasion of Yom Yerushalayim 5770 (on May 11, 2010) in an interview conducted by Tamar with the author. It is interesting to note that the events of the last 10 months, including the Palestinian absolute refusal to negotiate and their marshalling of many countries to support the 1967 cease-fire lines as their borders, have served only to reinforce the impression that this scenario is indeed underway.]