Appendix E: Signs of the Messiah – from Reckoning of Time
The author, after he finished the second edition of this work, encountered a quote from a book titled “What the Rabbis Knew About the Messiah” which by a nice surprise overlapped the foregone conclusion. In this book, two 12th century haggadic rabbinic works, The prayer of Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, BhM 4:124-126 (Patai, 1979: 157-159), and the apocalyptic midrash Signs of the Messiah, (Patai, 1979: 314), Armilus’ strategy, his blasphemous claims, and his persecution of all who remains faithful, are vividly portrayed. The parts of these rabbinic works are very similar. To avoid duplication, the mythical elements have been removed and these two descriptions have been edited into a single account:
…His name is Armilus the Satan [i.e. the misleader, adversary & accuser]. This is the one the gentiles of the world call the Antichrist. And Armilus will go to Rome and say to them: “I am your Christ, I am your god!” And he will mislead them and they will immediately believe in him, and make him their king. And all the subjects of the Roman Empire will gather and come to him and join themselves to him. And he will go and conquer and announce to all the countries and cities, saying, “Bring me my holy book which I gave you!” And the nations of the world will come and bring the book… and Armilus will say to them: “This is the book which I gave you.” And he tells the nations of the world: “Believe in me. I am your god, I am your christ and your god.” And instantly they believe in him… [Armilus will call for a delegation of Yisra’el to meet with him. He will say to them:] “Bring me your Torah and testify to me that I am god.” Yisra’el will read to Armilus from the Torah: “Anochi HaShem your Elohim and you shall have no other gods before Me”—Exodus 20:2-3. And Armilus will say: “This Torah of yours is emptiness and nothingness; come and testify to me that I am god.” [Yisra’el refuses. Armilus responds by proclaiming:] “I shall not let go of you [i.e. will not stop forcing and persecuting you] until you believe that I am god in the same manner in which the gentile nations (goyim) of the world believe in me.”
…And the wrath of Armilus is kindled, and he gathers all the armies of the nations of the world, and makes war against the children of Yisra’el, and he slays of Yisra’el a thousand thousands… And [then] those who are left of Yisra’el will flee to the desert of the nations… In that hour all the nations of the world will expel Yisra’el from their countries… [time to leave] And it will be a suffering for Yisra’el the like of which has not been ever since the world exists and to that time… [second Holocaust]
…And Michael the great Prince will arise… [Yisra’el will say to the nations:] “This is the Redemption for which we have been waiting, for the Messiah has been slain.” Michael will arise and blow the shofar three times… Messiah the son of David will be revealed… the full Redemption has come…
… And Armilus will hear that a king arose for Yisra’el, and he will gather all the armies of all the nations of the world, and they will come to King Messiah and to Yisra’el. And the Set-apart One, blessed be He, will fight for Yisra’el and say to the Messiah: “Sit at my right hand.” And the Messiah will say to Yisra’el: “Gather together and stand and see the salvation of HaShem.”… And the Set-apart One, blessed be He, fights Armilus and his armies, as it is written, “Then shall HaShem go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fights in the day of battle” (Zekharyahu 14:3)… Instantly the wicked Armilus will die, and all the armies of the wicked Roman Empire which destroyed the House of our Elohim and exiled us from our land… May that time and that period be near!
And another work of the sages: Armilus’ rise in the West is portrayed in Ma’ase Dani’el, a 10th century YM midrash (quoted in Patai (1979: 162-164):
And another king, Armilus, will arise in the Machrev—the West—more wicked and evil than anyone who preceded him… He will capture the West. And many wicked men … will gather around him from the whole earth, and will tell him that he is the Messiah, and this rumour will spread all over the world. And the whole earth will submit to him, and he will slay those who do not submit… And the people will have to bear and suffer much trouble, and the Children of Yisra’el more than all the others… Armilus will say, “I am the Messiah, your king and your prince.”
… Then all Yisra’el… will… go to the desert … and clothe themselves with sackcloth, and sit down on the earth and call upon Elohim… And Armilus will become angry and will command that they be killed … And the Children of Yisra’el will flee with their wives and children, together they will go to the desert, and will raise their voices in weeping and mourning, and will sit on the earth, and will cry to Elohim … And HaShem, His Name be blessed, will appear from heaven … the banner of Messiah ben David will fly high…
In the Rabbinical writings commonly known as the Targum (periphrastic translations of the Scripture) the Messiah has been portrayed as: The Messiah will be the active deliverer of Israel. He will be of Davidic lineage. Eliyahu haNavi (the prophet Eliyah) will herald his coming. A world conflict will rage at the time of the coming of the Messiah. This will result in the annihilation of the enemies of Israel at the time of the Messianic advent; the enemies of Israel will be shattered by Messianic intervention.
The Messiah will bring an end to the wandering of Israel, and the people of Israel will be gathered in from their Galut/Dispersion to their own land; the Northern Kingdom will be re-united with Yehudah.
The drama of the Exodus from Egypt will be reenacted. The dead will be resurrected. The Messiah will live for ever. He will restore the Beit HaMiqdash and rebuild Yerushalayim, which will enjoy divine protection for itself and its inhabitants.
He will have sovereignty over all the world and make the Torah the universal law of mankind, with the ideal of education being realized to the full. The Messiah will have the gift of prophecy, as well as intercessory power to seek forgiveness of sin, but he will punish the unrepentant of His people, as well as of the nations, and have the power to cast them into Gey Hinnom.
There will be a moral regeneration of Israel and of mankind. The Messiah will be a righteous judge, dispensing justice and equity, the champion of the poor and the oppressed, the personification of social justice. He will reward the righteous, who will surround him and forever enjoy the fullness of the Kingdom.
The essence of the Messiah will be faith in Elohim; and he will vindicate that faith, and the faithfulness of Israel, in the eyes of all the world.