Jewish Belief in Messiah
"I Believe With Complete Faith In The Coming Of
(from the Thirteen Principles of Faith)
WHAT JUDAISM TEACHES ABOUT THE MESSIANIC AGE
What does Judaism have to say about the
What sort of person will the Messiah be?
What is the purpose of a "messianic age"?
Why did G-D allow the belief in false messiahs to
Many people, both Jews and non-Jews, ask these and other
questions about the Jewish belief in the coming of the
messiah. While a pamphlet of this size cannot possibly
address such an important topic with the thoroughness that
it deserves, it can present the basic points in the hope
that it will lead to further study of the subject.
In his monumental work Mishneh Torah, Maimonides
(1135-1204) spelled out the fundamental Jewish concept of
the messiah as it was handed down to us, generation after
generation, from the time of the prophets. In his concise
and lucid manner, the great Jewish philosopher and jurist
herewith presents us with a clear picture of the promise
which G-D made to the Jewish people.
Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim XI - XII.
The King Messiah will in some future time come, restore
the kingdom of David to its former power, build the Temple,
bring together the scattered of Israel, and all the ancient
laws will again be in force. Sacrifices will be offered, and
years of release and Jubilees will be kept as prescribed in
the Torah. Whoever does not believe in him, or does not hope
for his coming, shows a lack of faith not only in the
prophets, but also in the Torah. For the Torah testifies
concerning him in the words: 'And the L-rd your G-D will
again bring back your captivity, and show mercy unto you,
and again gather you from all the nations...If your outcasts
be at the ends of the heavens, from there will the L-rd
gather you...and the L-rd will bring you into the land which
your fathers possessed...'(Deut. 30:3-5)
You must not imagine that the messiah must prove his
messianity by signs and miracles, doing something
unexpected, bringing the dead to life, or similar things.
The principle thing is this: the statutes and precepts of
our Torah remain forever, and nothing can be added to them
or taken from them.
If, therefore, a descendant of David earnestly studies
the Torah, observes what the written and oral Torah enjoins,
causes all Israelites to act similarly, exhorts those who
are lax in the performance of the commandments, and fights
the wars of the L-rd, he may possibly be the messiah. If he
does not succeed, or is killed in war, it is certain that he
is not the messiah promised in the Torah. He is like all the
other noble and good kings of the House of David who have
died, and G-D only caused him to rise in order to try us
thereby, as it is said, 'And of the wise some will stumble,
and through them the people will be tested, purified, and
made white, till the time of the end comes; for there is yet
a vision for an appointed time.' (Dan. 11:35).
Also, Jesus the Nazarene, who imagined that he would be
messiah and was killed, is alluded to in the book of Daniel,
as it is said, 'And the sons of the transgressors among thy
people will rise, in order to establish a vision, and will
stumble' (Dan. 11:14). Can there be a greater stumbling then
this? All the prophets said that messiah will be a redeemer
and a savior to the Israelites, will bring together their
outcasts, and will strengthen their obedience to the Divine
precepts, but he (Jesus) caused destruction by the sword to
Israel, the dispersion of those left, and their humiliation.
He changed the law, and misled many people to worship a
being beside G-D.
But the thoughts of the Creator of the universe cannot be
understood by any human being, for the ways of men are not
His ways, nor their thoughts His thoughts. For all the
events connected with Jesus, and with Mohammed that rose
after him, served only to pave the way for the King Messiah,
who will reform all mankind and lead them to the unanimous
service of G-D, as it is said, 'For then will I turn to the
peoples a pure language, that all may call by the name of
G-D, and serve him unanimously' (Zeph. 3:9).
How can this be done? Almost all people have through them
(Jesus and Mohammed) become acquainted with the idea of
messiah, with the words of the Torah and the Divine
precepts. Through them the knowledge of the Bible spread
even unto the remotest islands and unto many nations
'uncircumcised' in heart and uncircumcised in flesh. These
nations seek to justify their disobedience to the precepts
of the Torah. Some of them say that these precepts are
Divine, but are not in force at present, and were never
intended to be permanent laws. Others maintain that they
must not be taken literally, as they are mere symbols, the
meaning of which has already been explained by their
'messiah'. But when the true King Messiah will rise, he will
prosper, be high and exalted. All will then at once know
that it was falsehood what their fathers have inherited, and
that their prophets and their teachers have misled them.
It is not because they desired to have dominion over all
lands and nations and be honored by all people, or because
they desired to have plenty to eat and drink and other
pleasures, that the wise men and the prophets longed for the
days of the messiah, but because they would then be at
leisure to study the Torah and its teachings without being
interrupted by any oppressor, and would thus make themselves
worthy of life in the World to Come.
There will not be in those days any famine, war,
jealousy, or quarrel, because the good things will be in
plenty and even luxuries will be found everywhere. All
people will busy themselves with trying to know the L-rd.
Therefore, the Israelites will be great sages, knowing
things which are at present hidden. They will obtain a
knowledge of their Creator as far as possible by human
understanding; 'For the earth shall be full with the
knowledge of the L-rd as the waters cover the sea.' (Isaiah