the Fifth Week of Lent
Apocalyptic Literature, Neo-Hebraic
The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Growth Out of the Older.
The Neo-Hebraic apocalyptic forms but one branch of Apocalyptic Literature, a species of literature exhibiting many ramifications, and represented in a complex but unbroken chain, from the time of the Maccabean War down to the close of the Middle Ages. It is characteristic of Apocalyptic Literature from its very beginning that it did not remain confined to its native Palestine. It made its way almost immediately to Hellenistic Alexandria, where it appears in the Greek language under the mask of the heathen Sibyl and with other mythological embellishments. The same thing occurred again when, at the rise of Christianity, the Church took over the apocalyptic without change in essence or even in artistic form from the Synagogue, and made it her own—a fact admitted by all modern New Testament critics—and the apocalyptic writings, thereafter naturalized in the literatures of the Occident as of the Orient, may be traced through the centuries. Nor did this transplanting process take place only in apostolic times. In the course of its development the Christian apocalyptic drew freely from later Jewish sources, which, on the other hand, were often influenced directly or indirectly by the apocalyptic of the Church. Considering this uninterrupted flux and reflux of Apocalyptic Literature during upward of a millennium and a half, it seems on the face of the matter improbable that the Neo-Hebraic apocalyptic should date no farther back than the middle of the eighth century, as Zunz (compare "Literaturgescn." pp. 603; "G. V." 295, 9:417 et seq.) and Grätz ("Gesch." 5:441; "Monatsschrift," 8:67 et seq., 103 et seq., 140 et seq., 9:60 et seq.) maintained, and still more improbable, that it should exhibit, as these scholars believed, an entirely new character and trend of thought, the resultant of the specific influences and tendencies operating in medieval times. The apocalyptic research and discoveries of the last few decades have proved, indeed, that quite opposite conclusions as to date and character must be drawn. It has been shown ever more convincingly, that the characteristic feature of Apocalyptic Literature is constancy in ideas, the same set of thoughts being handed down from generation to generation without undergoing any material modification. It has been pointed out further, that the intricate connection among the different apocalypses, where direct literary influence is frequently out of the question, can be explained only by the assumption of an apocalyptic tradition, transmitted orally as an esoteric doctrine. In the same way as Christianity created no new and characteristic apocalyptic expectations, so a later age adopted its apocalyptic material ready for use from the past; the Middle Ages did not create nor invent in this province, they merely worked over the material handed down to them, putting merely a new stamp on the old coin; their task was, on the one hand, to apply the old hopes and promises to the present, and, on the other, to interpret the present according to these hopes. In the case of the Neo-Hebraic apocalyptic it was precisely the same.
The nature and object of the Neo-Hebraic are the same as those of the older apocalyptic. The great question in it, too, is, how and when will the period of Messianic glory be realized: a natural question in postexilic times, in the face of the unfulfilled promises of the Prophets. The answer—identical with that given in Daniel and the succeeding apocalypses —lay in the dualistic conception of two worlds: a present world (), corrupt by reason of the evil powers inherent in it; and a future ideal world ()—a conception of things due, in part at least, to foreign influences. The logical consequence of this dualistic belief was (1) that God's plan of salvation can be realized only after all the evil powers —the host of Satan and the heathen subject to them, together with the world itself—shall have been annihilated, and (2) that the future world, with all its blessings preexisting from eternity in heaven, shall then, at the end of time, descend thence and replace the old world, having the perfect, glorious New Jerusalem for its center. In the Neo-Hebrew, as in the older Apocalyptic Literature, the eschatological drama is enacted not in one era, but in two: the temporary Messianic interim, and the everlasting kingdom of heavenly bliss—the latter offset by the everlasting torments of hell in store for the wicked.
In general tone and coloring the older apocalypse served as model for the Neo-Hebrew. It shows the same particularism and narrow nationalism that predominate in the later, according to which the kingdom of God means salvation for faithful Israel alone, but for the unrepentant heathen world damnation. Similarly the Christian apocalyptic grants future bliss only to the faithful adherents of the Church. In like manner, the gross sensuousness in the detailed description of the joys of the Messianic and supramundane world is quite common in the older apocalyptic. So also is the fact that besides the revelations regarding the end of time, and the occurrences in that period, there are not infrequently other revelations concerning supernatural subjects—for example, heaven, hell, and paradise, the mysteries of the Creation, the course of the universe, angels, and the whole world of spirits, even God Himself—and in these revelations, the fantasy in the older apocalyptic is quite as unrestrained and extravagant as that in the later. Similarly, the one-sided emphasis laid in the Neo-Hebraic apocalyptic upon the ideal way in which the Torah is to be fostered in the future world, and on the pouring out of the Holy Spirit over all men, is in conformity with the spirit of the older apocalyptic; in fact, is in accord with the whole development of the religious life and thought of the Jews from the time of the Maccabees, according to which the Torah is not only the creative, preservative principle, which existed ages before the creation of the world as the essence of God's consciousness, but is also the sum and center of God's design with man (compare Sirach,; Baruch, 3:14 to 4:1; Enoch, 48:1; Sibylline, 3:757 et seq., 769 et seq., 787; Abot, 6:10; Pes. 54a; Zeb. 116a; Mekilta, 68b—ed. Weiss; B. B. 75a; Pesiḳ. 107a—ed. Buber—etc.). Schürer's remark is to the point, that fulfilment of the Law and hope of future glory were the two poles around which the whole religious life of later Judaism revolved ("Gesch." 3d ed., 2:466 et seq.). This also accounts for the fact that the apocalypses repeatedly contain legal instruction and exposition of the Law besides the revelation of the future and other supernatural mysteries; see Book of Jubilees and Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs for the older literature, andthe "Alphabets of R. 'Aḳiba" and "Otot" or "Milḥamot Melek ha-Mashiaḥ" for the Neo-Hebrew.
Finally, the Neo-Hebrew apocalypses likewise show all the external characteristics of the older. Like these, they claim to be revelations made through the medium of angels, and their authors conceal their real identity by pseudonyms, borrowing for this purpose the names of celebrated holy men of the past—hence the name Pseudepigrapha for the apocalyptic writings. The authors skilfully add plausibility to the claim that their writings are ancient prophecies, by making a review of contemporary, and frequently also of past, history, in the guise of a vision of the future. In this way every apocalypse contains the key to the date of its origin, this date coinciding with that period at which such "prophecy after the event" breaks off, and the real prophecy of the future begins, the prediction of the immediate approach of judgment for the wicked and of salvation for the good. This pious deception on the part of the writers was for the purpose of awakening in the hearts of their readers, who were living in a period of gloom and bitter trial, that belief in the blissful future promised them, which filled their own souls. For in times of oppression and persecution the apocalypse was essentially the literary medium through which the minds of the faithful were appealed to, and it could attain such power only through an alleged sanctity as an ancient revelation.
In the Talmudic Age.
This leads to the corollary that every age of great political agitation had its apocalypses, and that it would seem impossible that all productive activity in this sphere should have lain utterly dormant during the Talmudic period. The oldest apocalyptic monument, the Book of Daniel, is the direct fruit of the fanatical religious persecution exercised by Antiochus Epiphanes (see see APOCALYPSE). When the Jews came into conflict with the Roman empire, a conflict lasting for two centuries, every phase of this varying drama was accompanied by apocalypses, from the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey to the despotic rule of Antony and Cleopatra in Egypt, and down to the last desperate struggle and bloody persecution under Hadrian. In like manner, as will be mentioned, there are apocalypses contemporaneous with the great political vicissitudes of the Sassanian period (227-642). But a part from independent apocalypses themselves, the Talmud contains much apocalyptic matter that not only attests the interest with which the Jews followed the wars against Rome waged by Sapor I. (died 271) and Sapor II. (died 379), believing that these wars were the unmistakable signs of the imminence of God's kingdom, but proves also beyond doubt that apocalyptic writing flourished no less in Talmudic than in post-Talmudic times. For example, a passage in Yoma, 10a, for which Joshua b. Levi, a contemporary of Sapor I., is mentioned as the authority, shows how, in the face of the victorious wars of Sapor I. against Rome, the prophecy contained in Daniel 8 (about the war between the Medo-Persian and the Grecian kingdoms) was believed to refer to Sapor's wars with Rome. To determine the ultimate issue of these wars, an old and familiar apocalyptic tradition was there cited, according to which, before the advent of the Messiah, Rome, the fourth and last world-monarchy, would extend her godless dominion over the whole world for the space of nine months. Similarly, in Shebu. 6b there is a passage dating from the time of Sapor II.'s wars with Rome, in which the statement in Daniel 7:23 about the fourth world-monarchy is quoted to show conclusively that no other outcome is possible than that Rome should triumph over Persia. In Sanh. 97a-98b there are preserved a number of apocalyptic calculations of those times; also, among other things, excerpts from revelations which the above-mentioned R. Joshua b. Levi—who also figures as the author of an apocalypse (see below)—was supposed to have received from the mouth of the prophet Elijah as well as from the very Messiah himself.
The entire Apocalyptic Literature is of great historical value. Toward the close of antiquity and through the Middle Ages it exercised extensive and permanent influence on the thought of the times. It reflects the hopes and fears which swayed the masses for over fifteen hundred years, and reflects them more directly than any other class of contemporary literature. All the strange erratic thoughts—which seem now but the outgrowth of a morbid fantasy, so grotesque and unmeaning do they appear—were once full of life and keen significance, and had the power to move the readers to the depths of their being. The uneasiness and solicitude about the approaching end of the world, which were of constant recurrence during the Middle Ages, were nothing more than the impression made by the threats and promises of the apocalypses upon minds already susceptible and excited by external events. And in the history of the Jews in particular, the apocalypse was one of the most telling factors, contributing, as it did in such large measure, to determine the unique course of its development until long after the close of the Middle Ages. The courage and persistency in their belief which the Jews have shown from the time of the Maccabees down to modern times, their indomitable hope under persecution, their scorn of death, were all nourished by the Apocalyptic Literature. The darker their present grew, the more desperate their condition in the later medieval period, the more eagerly did their minds turn to the comfort offered by the apocalyptic promises which predicted the end of their suffering and the dawn of their delivery.
The following outlines of the separate apocalypses will illustrate the characteristics of the Neo-Hebrew apocalyptic. Only certain general points, however, are treated here, as the preliminary investigation, upon which any exhaustive treatment would have to be based, has not yet been made in this branch of Apocalyptic Literature.
1. Book of Enoch (Ḥanok),:
Book of Enoch.
Even up to the present day this book has been confounded with "Pirḳe Hekalot," also said to have been written by R. Ishmael, and hence has been called erroneously . That the "Book of Enoch" is the original title is established by a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, and by the fact that the apocalypse is quoted under that name in the older medieval literature. There are two editions of this book, one by Jellinek, bearing the title ("Bet ha-Midrash," 1873, 5:170-190), giving the text of the Munich Codex, No. 40, f. 121b-132 (not f. 94-102, as there described by Jellinek). The other appeared under the title (printed together with a prayer attributed to R. Ishmael), in Lemberg, 1864, and was reprinted in Warsaw, 1875. According to the titlepage, the latter gives the text of a very old manuscript, and in many cases has better readings than Jellinek's edition. An unedited manuscript of this apocalypse is in the Bodleian Library (Oppenheimer,556, old number 1061), and bears the title (see Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 1656, 2; Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." pp. 532 et seq.). Both the printed editions are incomplete, but fortunately they supplement each other.
After chapter of Jellinek's edition six chapters are missing. The Lemberg edition breaks off suddenly in the middle of the apocalypse, what follows belonging to "Hekalot Rabbati" with the exception of the "addition" () in chapter , which is taken probably from one of the recensions of the Alphabet-Midrash of R. Akiba (see below). The number of chapters in Jellinek is forty-two, which, with the six missing chapters (supplied by the Lemberg edition) makes forty-eight, and this is also the number which, according to Neubauer, is contained in the Bodleian manuscript.
This apocalypse is quoted very often in the rabbinical literature of the Middle Ages, particularly in the cabalistic branch. In the ZOHAR it is even twice called "Sefer Razin de Ḥanok" ("The Book of the Secrets of Enoch") (at the beginning of section Teẓawweh, f. 80b, ed. Amst.; for other passages in the Zohar in which the book is quoted, see Zunz, "Etwas über Rabbinische Literatur," p. 13). Excerpts of chaps. to are contained in the manuscript works of Eleazar of Worms (Cod. Munich, 81) "with many better readings" than in Jellinek (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Bibl." 14:32 et seq.). A new critical edition is much to be desired, and in connection with the preparation of such, it would be necessary to determine to what extent the quotations from the Book of Enoch in the rabbinical literature of the Middle Ages belong to the present book, or are taken from other books of Enoch. There are, for example, lengthy quotations from the Book of Enoch in the manuscript work, "Mishkan ha-'Edut" of Moses de Leon, which are not in the book under consideration (given by Jellinek, "B. H." 2:31, 3:195 et seq., and variants by Steinschneider, "Hebr. Bibl." iv 152 et seq.).
This book is an interesting specimen of the apocalypse, and illustrates strikingly many of the characteristics of the literature to which it belongs. It shows an intimate dependence upon the "Book of the Secrets of Enoch" discovered some years ago in a Slavonic translation. A brief synopsis of the book will best show the metamorphosis which the old pseudepigraphic writing underwent, and what new elements from other apocalypses were added in the process; it will also show that there is justification for considering it a genuine apocalypse and treating it altogether apart from the "Hekalot" literature.
The book opens with the verse Genesis 5:24 concerning Enoch's godly life. R. Ishmael narrates how he ascended into heaven to see the Merkabah, and how, after he had passed through six heavenly halls, Meṭaṭron came to meet him at the entrance to the seventh, and conducted him inside, leading him straight before the celestial chariot into the presence of God (compare "Secrets of Enoch," 21:2b-5). At the sight of the heavenly hosts Ishmael fell unconscious; but God motioned them back and Meṭaṭron restored Ishmael to consciousness. Ishmael then proclaimed the glory of the Lord, and all the angels joined him. In chap. Meṭaṭron conquers the objection of the angels to Ishmael's approach to God's throne. In chaps. - and - Meṭaṭron relates to Ishmael that he is Enoch b. Jared, and that at the time of the Deluge God had him translated to heaven, by his angel 'Anpi'el, in a chariot of fire, that there he might bear eternal witness against his sinful contemporaries. Further that God, overcoming the protests of the heavenly hosts, transfigured him with the rays of heavenly glory and made him as one of themselves, in order that he might serve before His throne as one of the highest angel-princes (compare "Secrets of Enoch," 22:6b-10); that first, however, the Angel of Wisdom, at God's command, had instructed him in all wisdom and knowledge (compare ib. 22:11,12 and ) and had imparted to him all the mysteries of creation, of heaven and earth, of past and future things, and of the world to come (compare ib. -33:2). In chap. Meṭaṭron tells Ishmael that, after Adam was driven out of paradise God abode under the tree of life, and the angels and heavenly hosts descended to the earth in many divisions. Adam and his generation, sitting at the entrance to paradise, beheld the heavenly glory until, in the time of Enoch, 'Aza and 'Azael led men to idolatry (compare ib. 31:2, where it is said, however, that at the time Adam dwelt in paradise "God made the heavens open to him that he might behold the angels," etc., and the following words, the meaning of which is obscure, occur: "and he was constantly in paradise").
Contents of "Enoch."
Chaps. - (not in Jellinek's edition) describe the seven heavens with their hosts of angels, and the courses of the sun, moon, and stars, dwelling with special minuteness on the highest heaven and its hosts. This account is an interesting mixture of the description of the seven heavens contained in "Ascensio Isaiæ" and of that given in the "Secrets of Enoch." As in the former, the seven heavens are represented as being inhabited by angels, and as increasing in glory in each successive heaven; and they are described in the descending order. And just as recension A of "Secrets of Enoch" mentions, besides the seven heavens, an eighth (muzalot) and a ninth (kuchavim) and above them all a tenth ('arabot), the seat of God's glory, so this book has a separate heaven for the sun and moon, together with the stations of the moon (mazzalot), another for the stars (kokabim)—with the difference, however, that these two are under the seven heavens—and a highest heaven over them all, called here also 'arabot, the abode of God and of the highest angelic hosts.
In chap. Meṭaṭron describes to Ishmael the winds issuing from the cherubim of the heavenly chariot, and tells how these, after traversing the universe, enter paradise to waft the fragrant odors and exquisite perfumes there unto the pious and just, for whom paradise and the tree of life are prepared as an eternal inheritance (compare "Secrets of Enoch," and the somewhat obscure passage in 8:5d-6). In chaps. - Enoch (Meṭaṭron) gives Ishmael a description of the chariot and of the many-eyed, radiant, God-praising Ofanim and Seraphim (compare ib. 20:1, 21:1), the latter of which burn the accusations against Israel, which Satan, in conspiracy with the guardian angel of Rome and the guardian angel of Persia, continually sends in. In chap. he describes the archangel Radveri'el, the heavenly registrar and keeper of the archives (compare ib. 22:11 et seq.); in -, the "Irin and Kaddishin," who daily sit in judgment with God; in -, the judgment itself; in - he tells how the heavenly hosts pass into the presence of God to praise and glorify Him with the song, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Ẓebaot!" and how, at that, the Ofanim, Cherubim, Ḥayyot, and Seraphim standing around the throne prostrate themselves in adoration, responding with, "Praised be the glory of His Kingdom forever!" (compare ib. 20:3b-21:1).
In chaps. - Enoch (Meṭaṭron) reveals to Ishmael the mysteries of creation, and shows him the repositories of the rain, snow, hail, thunder, and lightning; the courses of the stars; the spirits of those angels who were punished because they did not give praise to God at the right time, and whose bodies were turned to great fiery mountains (in striking analogy to Ethiopic Enoch, 18:11-16, ); the souls of the righteous departed, who hover around God's throne in the form of birds, and the souls of the righteous yet unborn; the places of punishment and the tortures of the wicked in hell (compare "Secrets of Enoch," ). Then Ishmael sees how the souls of the Patriarchs and of all the righteous ascend out of their graves to heaven, beseeching God to deliver His people Israel from their bondage among the heathen. God answers them that the sins of the wicked hold back the delivery of His people and the realization of His kingdom. While the Patriarchs are weeping at this declaration, Michael, Israel's guardian angel, intervenes, pleading for Israel's delivery. Thereupon Meṭaṭron lets Ishmael survey all past and future ages from Adam to the end of time: he sees Messiah b. Joseph and his age, and Messiah b. David and his age, together with the wars of Gog and Magog and the other events of the Messianic era. In the concluding chapter (), Meṭaṭron shows Ishmael the glorious future Jerusalem, where the souls of the righteous stand praying for its advent upon earth. At the same moment God's right hand pours forth five streams of tears which, falling into the ocean, cause the world to shake; and God avers, that, although there is no righteous man upon earth whose intercession could bring about Israel's delivery, yet He will save them for His own sake, for the sake of His justice and His own goodness. God prepares Himself to reveal His mighty power to the heathen; whereupon Israel will be immediately delivered and the Messiah will appear to them, in order to conduct them to Jerusalem, where they, to the exclusion of the tyrannical heathen, will share his kingdom, and God will be king over the whole earth.
Date of Composition.
Apart from the fact that R. Ishmael, of the period of the Hadrianic persecution, figures as the author, and from the allusion in the last chapter to the destruction of the Temple (through which data the earliest date possible is fixed), there are no definite references to historical events and conditions from which the date of the composition of the "Book of Enoch" could be more exactly determined. There is, however, a passage in Talmud Berakot about R. Ishmael which naturally suggests itself in this connection, and which admits of the adoption of at least a latest possible date. The passage (7a) reads:
"R. Ishmael b. Elisha related: 'Once I entered into the inmost sanctuary to offer incense; there I saw Akatriel Yah YHWH Ẓebaot sitting upon the high and exalted throne of mercy, and He said to me: "Ishmael, My son, bless Me!" Thereupon I spoke: "May it please Thee that Thy mercy conquer Thy anger and that Thy mercy gush forth as is the way of mercy; mayest Thou deal with Thy children according to Thy mercy, and requite them, though contrary to the rules of the rigid law [compare the version of MS. Munich]."'"
Compare also the passage immediately preceding: "What does God pray? Raba says, 'May My mercy conquer My anger, and may My mercy gush forth as is the way of mercy, and may I deal with My children according to My mercy, and requite them, though contrary to the rigid rules of the Law.'" The parallel is obvious. The passages quoted compel the conclusion that the Hebrew Book of Enoch can not have been written later than the time of the completion of the Babylonian Talmud.
An apocalyptic fragment, in which R. Ishmael likewise figures as the author, is preserved in the "Siddur" of R. Amram Gaon (of the second half of the ninth century), 3b, 12b-13a. It is also contained in one of the recensions of the "Legend of the Ten Martyrs" (Jellinek, in "B. H." 6:19-30), where, however, it does not fit in naturally, and is, therefore, to be considered as a later insertion. Gerson b. Asher Scarmela first printed it in "Yiḥus ha-Ẓaddikim," which appeared in Mantua in 1561, but with additions at the beginning and at the end, which additions in different versions are all to be found in the various recensions of the "Legend of the Ten Martyrs," and are contained in part also in chaps. - of the "Hekalot Rabbati." These portions bear evidence of being later additions in the fact that the last of those at the end treats of the preparations which, in the legend, preceded Ishmael's ascension, but which, in the context here, would seem to be events following his return from heaven. On account of the relationship of these additions to chaps. - of the "Hekalot Rabbati," Jellinek published them together with the fragment as "Hekalot-Zusätze" in "B. H." 5:167-169. Gaster gives a translation of the fragment in the "Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society," 1893, pp. 609 et seq.
In this fragment R. Ishmael relates that Ssngir, one of the chief angels, revealed to him the sufferings reserved for Israel; and when he expressed wonder that Israel could ever endure these, the angel showed him still greater sufferings in store—captivity, famine, and pillage. As Ishmael and the angel parted, the former heard a voice proclaiming in Aramaic:
"The sanctuary will be destroyed, the Temple burned down, and the royal palace made desolate; the king's sons will be killed, his wife widowed, and youths, and maidens dragged away as booty; the altar will be profaned and the table for the showbread be carried off by the enemy; Jerusalem will be turned into a wilderness, and the land of Israel will become a picture of desolation."
Upon this announcement Ishmael fell to the ground unconscious, but was restored by another of the chief angels, of whom he then asked if there were no remedy for Israel. For answer the angel led him to the place where salvation and comfort were prepared; and Ishmael saw there groups of angels weaving garments of salvation for the righteous of the future world, and making magnificent crowns out of precious stones and pearls, perfumed with nectar and all sorts of fragrant odors, one of which crowns was of especial brilliance. The angel informed Ishmael that the crowns were intended for Israel, the especially magnificent one being for King David. Amid the roar of the motion of the heavens with their armies of stars, and all the hosts of angels, and amid the sound of a great mysterious rustling which proceeded from paradise, Ishmael heard: "YHWH reigns forever: thy God, O Zion, to all generations! Halleluiah!" Ishmael then saw David, king of Israel, approach, followed by all the kings of his dynasty, each one with a crown on his head; David's crown outshining all the others, its brilliance radiating to the ends of the earth. David went up to the heavenly Temple, placed himself upon the throne of fire prepared for him near God's throne, and presented his homage to God in hymns of praise, proclaiming the eternal duration of His kingdom. Meṭaṭron with his angel-hosts, heaven and earth, and, last of all, the kings of the house of David, joined in the shout of praise: "YHWH will be king over the whole earth; on that day YHWH will be One and His name One!"
The Messianic doctrine in this fragment, in which David figures as the Messiah, is unique, not only as far as the Neo-Hebrew, but as far as apocalyptic in general is concerned. It compels the conclusion that this fragment is distinct from the "Book of Enoch" (treated above) as the work of an altogether different author. Further, it indicates a very early origin, which is fully confirmed by the "prophecy after the event"; the Ishmael in this apocalypse too can only be the rabbi Ishmael, extolled in legend as a martyr of the Hadrianic persecution. Hence the date of composition must fall after the destruction of the Temple; and the only event which can come into consideration as making such a prophecy comprehensible is the disastrous termination of the reign of Bar Kokba. At that juncture the conditions and events furnished a basis for the "prophecy after the event" contained in the apocalypse under consideration: that the Temple would be profaned and destroyed, the royal palace demolished, Jerusalem turned into a desert, and the whole land of Israel rendered desolate. Indeed the fragment reads as if it were written under the immediate impression of the Hadrianic persecution. It seems plausible that this book was the intermediary through which the peculiar metamorphosis of the "Secrets of Enoch," into the Neo-Hebrew Book of Enoch, was accomplished.
3. The Ascension of Moses:
Ascension of Moses.
The Latin version of "The Assumption of Moses," which is preserved only as a fragment, must certainly have contained, in its missing part, an account of the death of Moses and of the dispute between the archangel Michael and Satan (or the angel of death) over the dead body. Among the Neo-Hebrew apocalypses there is an "Ascension of Moses," as well as a fragment which, besides revealing the future, tells of the death of Moses and of the dispute that ensued after his death. This apocalypse was published for the first time in Salonica in 1727, under the title , and has been printed several times since (in Amsterdam, 1754; Warsaw, 1849, etc.). It was translated by Gaster (c. pp. 572-588) under the title "The Revelation of Moses." An Arabic translation also exists in the Karaite manuscript, written in 1828, discovered by Tischendorf in the library of the University of Leipsic (Codex Tischendorf, ), and described by him in "Anecdota Sacra et Profana," p. 74, and by Jellinek in "Monatsschrift," 2:245,360 et seq., and "B. H." 2:9 et seq., 19. This Arabic version has a longer introduction, and varies somewhat in the text from our version. The contents of the book, according to Gaster's translation, are thus summarized. For the modesty displayed by Moses when summoned to appear before Pharaoh to demand the liberation of the Israelites, God commands Meṭaṭron (Enoch) to allow Moses to ascend into heaven. After Meṭaṭron has transformed Moses' body into a fiery figure like unto that of the angels, he leads him up through the seven heavens. In the first heaven Moses sees waters "standing in line," and windows to let in and out all the things pertaining to human life and its needs. In the second heaven he sees the angels who control the clouds, the wind, and the rain; in the third, the angels placed over vegetation; in the fourth, those over the earth, sun, moon, stars, planets, and spheres; in the fifth, angels half of fire and half of snow; in the sixth, the "Irin and Kaddishin"; in the seventh, 'Arabot, he sees first the angels "Wrath and Anger," then the angel of death, then the ḥayyot standing before God, and finally an angel engaged in teaching the souls which were created by God at the time of the Creation and placed in paradise. (At this point occur two passages of later interpolation, one from Pes. 54a-b, treating of Nebuchadnezzar's presumptuous desire "to ascend the heights of the cloud and to be like the Most High" [Isaiah 14:14], and the other from the Zohar, intended to show that Moses really ascended to heaven.)
Hell and Paradise.
God then tells Moses that He will confer on him the further privilege of seeing hell and paradise, and, at God's command, the angel Gabriel conducts Moses to hell. There he sees the manifold torments and punishments of the different classes of sinners, those who were envious of their fellow men and bore false witness against them; women who exposed their charms to young men; sinners who committed adultery, theft, and murder; those who perjured themselves; those who desecrated the Sabbath, despised the learned, and persecuted orphans; those who committed sodomy and idolatry, or cursed their parents; those who took bribes, put their fellow men to shame, delivered up their brother-Israelite to the Gentile, and denied the oral law; those that ate all kinds of forbidden food; usurers; apostates, and blasphemers; those who wrote the ineffable name of God, and those who ate on Yom Kippur. Gabriel then leads Moses into paradise. Here he sees first the guardian angel of paradise, sitting under the tree of life, who shows him the several costly thrones erected in paradise, each surrounded by seventy angels—the thrones for the Patriarchs, for the scholars who studied the Law day and night for the sake of heaven; for the pious men, for the just, and for the repentant—and a throne of copper, prepared for the wicked whose sons are pious, as in the case of Terah. Finally, he sees the fountain of life welling forth from beneath the tree of life, and dividing itself into four streams, and four rivers flowing under each throne, "the first of honey, the second of milk, the third of wine, and the fourth of pure balsam." (Here another passage from the Zohar, interrupting the narrative, is inserted.) As Moses is leaving paradise a voice calls from heaven: "Moses, . . . as thou hast seen the reward which is prepared for the just in the future world, so also in the days to come shalt thou see the rebuilding of the Temple and the advent of the Messiah, and shalt behold the beauty of the Lord and shalt meditate in His Temple."
Up to the present no attempt has been made to ascertain the date of composition of this apocalypse; but the allusion in the last chapter to the rebuilding of the Temple places it after that event. The descriptions of the different classes of sinners in hell and their punishment are strikingly similar to (in fact, are in parts identical with) those found in a number of Christian apocalypses; namely, the "Apocalypse of Peter," that of "Pastor Hermas," and the second book of the "Sibylline Oracles" (all three written in the second century), and the later apocalypses of Esdras and Paul, both perhaps dependent upon the "Apocalypse of Peter." It is possible that a critical examination of these relations might throw further light on the date of composition of "The Ascension of Moses."
4. The Assumption of Moses:
This is a fragment preserved in the "Midrash Bereshit Rabbati" of R. Moses ha-Darshan (a manuscript in the library of the Jewish congregation in Prague), which was published by Jellinek in "B. H." § 22. It is intended as an exegesis to Genesis 28:17b. The following is a synopsis of its contents:
As the time for Moses' death approached, God permitted him to ascend into heaven, and unveiledto him the future world. There Middat ha-Raḥamim (the Attribute of Mercy) came to him, saying: "I will announce good tidings." Turning his eyes to the throne of mercy, Moses saw God building the Temple out of precious stones and pearls; he saw also the rays of the Godhead, and Messiah the son of David with the Torah in his arms; also his own brother Aaron in priestly robes. Aaron imparted to Moses that his death was near at hand, whereupon Moses asked God for permission to speak with the Messiah. The latter then revealed to him that the sanctuary which God was then constructing was the Temple and the Jerusalem, which would be established for Israel in the future world to endure for all eternity, and that God had shown the same Jerusalem to Jacob in his dream in Beth-el. To Moses' question when the new Jerusalem would descend to earth, God replied: "I have not yet revealed the end to any one; should I reveal it to thee?" Thereupon Moses said, "Give me at least a hint from the events of history," and God answered: "After I have scattered Israel among all the nations, I will stretch out My hand to gather them in a second time from all the ends of the earth." Moses then joyfully departed from heaven, followed by the angel of death, who demanded his soul. Moses refused to yield it; but finally God appeared to him, and he surrendered his soul to God willingly and cheerfully.
5. The Revelation of R. Joshua b. Levi:
It has already been noted that the Babylonian Talmud tells of revelations which R. Joshua b. Levi was supposed to have received from the prophet Elijah and from the Messiah. In this apocalypse R. Joshua himself figures as the author. The book first appeared in the collection "Liḳḳutim Shonim," published in 1519 at Constantinople, under the title (The Story of Rabbi Joshua ben Levi), and it has since been reprinted several times, under the same title; subsequently by Jellinek in "B. H." 2:48-51. Gaster published a translation of it (c. pp. 591-596) with the correct title, "The Revelation of R. Joshua b. Levi"; for the contents leave no doubt that it really is an apocalypse. An Aramaic version also existed, a fragment of which is preserved in Moses b. Naḥman's "Torat ha-Adam" (it is to be found in different editions of the book and also in Jellinek's "B. H." 5:43 et seq.). Jellinek points out that this Aramaic version is a proof of the ancient origin of the apocalypse (c. 2:18), of which the following is a summary:
Contents of "Revelation."
As the time of R. Joshua b. Levi's death was drawing near, God sent the angel of death to him, commissioning him to fulfil whatever R. Joshua might wish. The latter requested to be shown the place awaiting him in paradise, and desired the angel to give his sword to him. Upon arriving in paradise, Joshua, against the will of the angel, leaped over the wall: God allowed him to remain there, but commanded him to return the sword. Elijah called out: "Make way for the son of Levi!" The angel of death thereupon related the incident to R. Gamaliel, who sent him back to R. Joshua with the request that he explore both paradise and hell and send him a description of them. R. Joshua carried out this request. Here follows a description of the different compartments of paradise, seven in number. In the first dwell the proselytes to Judaism; in the second, repentant sinners with King Manasseh presiding over them; in the third, the Patriarchs and the Israelites who came out of Egypt, David and Solomon, and all the kings of their house; in the fourth, the perfectly righteous. In the fifth, which is of special splendor and exquisite beauty, are the Messiah and Elijah, the latter caressing the Messiah and saying to him, "Be comforted, for the end draweth nigh!" The Patriarchs also speak in the same strain at certain times, as do Moses and Aaron, David and Solomon, and all the kings of Israel and Judah. In the sixth, dwell those who died in piety; and in the seventh, those who died for the sins of Israel.
To his question, whether any of the heathen, or even any of his brother Esau's descendants, were in paradise, R. Joshua received the answer, that they obtained the reward for their good works in this world, and therefore in the other world must dwell in hell; in the case of the sinners in Israel, however, just the opposite principle is followed. Hell could not be viewed immediately, for just at that moment the news reached heaven of the execution of the Ten Martyrs.
When R. Joshua entered hell some time later, he saw there ten heathen nations, over whom, as a punishment for his disobedience to his father, Absalom, the son of David, is compelled to preside. Seven times a day these heathen are burned by angels in pits of fire, being brought out whole again every time. Absalom alone is excepted from this punishment: he sits upon a throne, honored as a king.
6. The Alphabets of R. Akiba ( or )
Theme of the Alphabets.
comprise a number of writings treating the same theme. The chief center of thought of all of them is the mystical signification, already mentioned in the Talmud, of the letters of the alphabet and of their written forms, and the mysteries of the names of God made up of four, twelve, and forty-two letters. In the Jerusalem Talmud (Ḥag. 2:77c) there is a dissertation on the letters by means of which the world was created; and there, as in these writings, it is stated that the present world was created with He (ה) and the future with Yod (י), and eschatological theories are built up out of the forms of these letters. In the Babylonian Talmud (Shab. 104a), also, all sorts of similar interpretations are given in regard to the names, forms, and combinations of the various letters, and are made to bear upon eschatological questions in the same way as in these apocalypses. In Ḳid. 71a, it is said that the mysteries of the three names of God were treated as esoteric doctrine, and that whoever became thoroughly initiated into the mystery of the name consisting of forty-two letters might be sure of inheriting both the present and the future world. Similarly, R. Akiba, the reputed author of the "Alphabets," is especially commended in the Talmud as interpreter of the strokes, dots, and flourishes of the letters (compare, for example, Men. 29b; also Akiba ben Joseph). Up to the present time, the pseudepigrapha in question have been generally considered mystical writings treating upon some eschatological points, not as real apocalypses; but the different compositions, as far as they are known, show clearly that the real theme of all is the eschatological problem, and that the discussion of the other supernatural mysteries only goes hand in hand with this, as in the apocalypses hitherto noticed.
So far, two of the alphabets have appeared in print, one of which is three times as long as the other: the longer was published first in Constantinople, 1519 (in the above-mentioned collection), and again in Venice, 1546. Both editions are incomplete; but the gaps are filled in part by the Cracow edition, which was published in 1579, was reprinted in Amsterdam, 1708, and which contains also the shorter version. Jellinek published both in "B. H." 3:12-49,50-64; the longer, based on the incomplete Constantinople-Venice edition. Several manuscripts of both have been preserved; as, for example, in the Munich Codex 22, folio 70-103, which supplies the gaps purposely left in the longer composition in the Cracow-Amsterdam edition; in the Vatican Codex, 228, 3 (see Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." 2:1258, and Steinschneider, "Hebr. Bibl." 14:7); and one manuscript in the Bodleian Library which is described in Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 1927 (of this no exact information is given, but according to the number of its pages, it is probably the shorter alphabet). A fragment of the shorter is contained in the Bodleian Library manuscript, No. 1322 (Neubauer, ib.). There are, besides, three other manuscripts in the Bodleian Library containing alphabets of R. Akiba (compare ib. Nos. 1104, 3; 2287, 11; 2289, 7). The catalogue does not give any details of their contents; but the fact that none of them is marked "printed" would indicate that they are not identical with the published "Alphabets." A fragment consisting of two leaves ("Mysterium"), also differing from the published alphabets, is in the Almanzi Library (Codex 195, ), and deserves special notice because it furnishes strong support to the theory that the writings under the present heading are genuine apocalypses. It begins "Aleph stands for the Most High, who is the First" (which, in the Constantinople-Venice edition, is the beginning of § 10), and the conclusion contains the following passage:
"Eighteen hundred years after the destruction of the second Temple, the Kedarenes will decrease in numbers; . . . at the end of 295 years, according to the calendar of the Gentiles [the Hegira is meant here], their kingdom will vanish from the earth; . . . at the end of 304 years, according to their calendar, the son of David will come, God willing!"
This fragment originated in the Orient, as is shown by the words "the calendar of the Gentiles," which signify "dating from the Hegira"; more exactly, it may be inferred from the concluding words which quote a Persian expression, that it originated in Persia.
Jellinek's distinction of the two published alphabets as "First Recension" and "Second Recension" ("B. H." , pp. et seq.; , pp. et seq.) is misleading; for in respect not only of the length but also of the contents, they differ so radically that they must be considered as altogether distinct and independent of each other. In the longer of the published alphabets, as in the Hebrew Book of Enoch, Meṭaṭron (Enoch) is represented as the revealer of the secrets disclosed in these writings. There is also a very brief and condensed narration of Enoch's assumption into heaven, of his transformation into one of the angels at the heavenly throne, and of his initiation into all the mysteries of heaven and earth. This piece is not in the Constantinople-Venice edition, but is to be found in the Cracow-Amsterdam edition, and also in the Munich Codex. The latter has also the seventy or seventy-two names of God and the ninety-two names of Meṭaṭron, which, from religious scruples, were omitted in the Cracow-Amsterdam edition. The names of God are obtained from combinations of the different letters of the alphabets, already alluded to as characteristic of this group of writings.
Their Parenetic Character.
Closely bound up with the relation of the above mysteries is the glorification of the Torah as the aim and end of creation and the center of future bliss. Because of its observance Israel will inherit the joys of paradise, whereas the heathen, having disregarded it, will be given over to hell. God Himself, surrounded by His host of angels, will expound the Torah to the righteous in paradise, whereupon Zerubbabel will proclaim God's glory, so that it will resound over the whole world; the sinners of Israel and the pious among the heathen in hell will add their "amen" to this glorification and will be found worthy of admittance to paradise. The pleasures of the righteous in paradise are described in a glowing, sensuous style: God Himself dwells among and associates with them like one of themselves, contributing actively to their entertainment. (As the materializing of God in this gross manner has hitherto been considered a sure proof of the later origin of a work, it may be well to call attention to the fact that there is a parallel to this description in the oldest Midrash, Sifra, ed. Malbim, 225a; compare also Ta'anit, 31a.) The circumstance, that in these writings the Torah is placed in such prominence, explains, too, their eminently parenetic character.
In regard to R. Akiba's alleged authorship of these writings, it may be recalled, that, as early as the Jerusalem Talmud, a legend was current that R. Akiba enjoyed the superhuman privilege of ascending to heaven and having the secrets of God revealed to him (Yer. Ḥag. 2:77b; compare Talmud Bab. ib. 14b). Further, it seems worthy of notice, that, in the fragment of an "Alphabet of R. Akiba" contained in the Lemberg edition of the Book of Enoch, 29:2, and referred to above, the story of Enoch's assumption, etc. (there condensed to a few sentences), is narrated as if Akiba had heard it in heaven. To conclude, with Jellinek and Steinschneider (compare "B. H." 3:17, No. 2, and "Hebr. Bibl." 14:7), from the quotations which are found in the medieval literature—but which are not in the printed editions—anything more than that the "Alphabets of R. Akiba" are incomplete to the extent suggested here, would be premature until all the manuscripts have been published.
Brief reference may again be made to the views of Zunz and Graetz regarding the origin of the theosophical speculation contained in the apocalypses which have been discussed thus far. If both hold Islam responsible for the theosophy in these Neo-Hebrew apocalypses, because similar vagaries and stretches of imagination are found in its literature (see Zunz, "G. V." p. 171, and especially in "Monatsschrift," 8:115 et seq.), the reply may be made that, as Steinschneider well observed—and Noeldeke, the foremost Arabist of the present time, corroborated him—later Jewish literature had the widest and deepest influence on the formation and development of the views and teachings of Islam (see "Hebr. Bibl." 4:69 et seq.; "Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen," 1862, pp. 750 et seq.). From the presence of mystical speculations about the essence and being of God, etc., in the Arabic literature, similar to those in the Neo-Hebrew, it is quite impossible to conclude that they found their way from the former into the latter; rather would the opposite conclusion be justified.
7. The Hebrew Elijah Apocalypse:
Date and Where Written.
This apocalypse, , appeared first in Salonica in 1743, printed in the same volume with several other pieces, and was reprinted by Jellinek in "B. H." 3:65-68. A critical edition, according to a Munich manuscript, with translation, explanatory notes, and an attempt to ascertain the date of composition, was published by Moses Buttenwieser ("Die Hebräische Elias-Apocalypse," etc.). The result arrived at in this essay was that in this book it is necessary to distinguish between the originalapocalypse and a later addition, which consists of a dispute among the doctors of the Law of the second and third centuries, concerning the name of the last king of Persia. The original apocalypse was written amid the confusion of the year 261, caused by the wars of Sapor I. against Rome and his capture of Valerian; but in its original form it was probably more voluminous. In all probability the author lived in Palestine. During the exciting period of the Perso-Roman wars waged by Chosroes I. (540-562) or Chosroes II. (604-628), the apocalypse was furnished with the addition mentioned above, in order to make the prophecies appear to accord with the changed times and conditions, for the outcome of the dispute is that "Kesra" (the Arabic form of "Chosroes") must be the name of the last Persian king.
Book of Elijah.
The contents of the book are as follows: Michael reveals the end of time to Elijah on Mt. Carmel. Elijah is first conducted through various heavenly regions, and the revelations regarding the end are imparted to him. The last king of Persia will march to war against Rome in three successive years, and will finally take three military leaders prisoner. Then Gigit will advance against him, "the [little] horn," the last king hostile to God who will rule upon earth, as Daniel beheld. This king will instigate three wars and will "also stretch out his arm against Israel." The three wars and the attack upon Israel are described in detail in the following part. Then the Messiah, whose name is Winon, will appear from heaven, accompanied by hosts of angels, and engage in a series of battles—first to annihilate the armies waging these wars, and secondly to vanquish all the remaining heathen. After this, Israel will enjoy the blessings of the Messianic kingdom for forty years, at the end of which time Gog and Magog will muster the heathen to war around Jerusalem; but they will be annihilated, and all the heathen cities will be destroyed. The day of doom will then come and last forty days; then the dead will be awakened and brought to judgment. The wicked will be delivered over to the torments of hell: but to the good the tree of life will be given; and for them the glorious Jerusalem will descend from heaven, and among them shall reign peace and knowledge of the Law.
From this summary will be noticed how closely the picture of the future world given in this apocalypse resembles the Revelation of John; the description also of Elijah's transportation through the heavenly regions shows a striking relation to the Ethiopic Book of Enoch (compare ib. 14:8,9,12-19,22a, 18:13-15, 22:1,11). Worthy of attention is the description of the adversary of the Messiah, the Anti-christ, who before the advent of the Messiah shall subdue the world and persecute Israel. This description is a conventional feature of a great number of Neo-Hebrew apocalypses. It is found, for example, in much the same form in all those treated below. In the latter, however, the adversary is called Armilus (Romulus); while in the Elijah apocalypse he is called Gigit, which is an enigmatical designation of Odhenat, the duke of Palmyra (see Buttenwieser, c. p. 72).
The description of the adversary in the present apocalypse shows also, as Bousset has pointed out (c. p. 57), striking parallels to the description of the Antichrist in the Coptic Elijah apocalypse, discovered a few years ago, the manuscript of which can in no case be later than the beginning of the fifth century (see Steindorff, "Apocalypse des Elias," p. 6); while the apocalypse itself is probably of the third or fourth century. Of other Christian apocalypses with descriptions of the Antichrist, offering no less remarkable parallels to the apocalypses in the writings presently to be mentioned, and also in part to the Elijah apocalypse, may be enumerated: "The Testament of the Lord," "Apocalypse of Esdras," the "Pseudo-Johannis Apocalypse," and the Armenian "Seventh Vision of Daniel" (compare also Bousset, c. pp. 101 et seq. Descriptions of the Antichrist in these apocalypses—except the "Seventh Vision of Daniel"—may be found in James, "Apocrypha Anecdota," in "Texts and Studies," 2:3,151 et seq.).
8. The Apocalypse of Zerubbabel ( ):
Book of Zerubbabel.
There are various recensions of this apocalypse. One was printed in Constantinople in 1519 in the collection mentioned above, and was reprinted in Wilna, 1819, together with "Sefer Malkiel" (excerpts from this edition are to be found in Eisenmenger, 2:708 et seq.); another was edited by Jellinek ("B. H." 2:54-57), based on two manuscripts in the Leipsic City Library, which, however, an examination of the manuscripts by Buttenwieser proved to be inexact; and a third recension, differing from both of the above, is in manuscript in the Bodleian Library (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 160, 2). Besides these, the Bodleian contains a manuscript of one of the printed editions (ibid. No. 2287, 4). A new edition is most desirable. As this book foretells the year 990 or 970 after the destruction of the Temple by Titus as the time of delivery, it must have been written in the eleventh century at the very latest. This apocalypse describes how Zerubbabel is carried in spirit to Nineveh, the City of Blood, the Great Rome, where Meṭaṭron reveals to him the occurrences at the end of time. He sees the Messiah there, whose name is Menaḥem b. 'Amiël, and who was born at the time of King David, but was brought thither by the Spirit to remain concealed until the end of time. Apart from a few details, the description of the course of events in the end of time is very much the same as that in "The Wars of King Messiah," "Revelations of R. Simon b. Yoḥai," and "Prayer of R. Simon b. Yoḥai." In all of them, the name of the "Evil Adversary" is ARMILUS, the Aramaic form of Romulus. Except the "Revelations," they all contain the curious fancy that he is to be born of a marble statue in Rome. According to the "Apocalypse of Zerubbabel," he will be begotten out of the statue by Satan: in the "Revelations of R. Simon b. Yoḥai," he is represented as a creation of Satan and Diabolus. In "The Wars of King Messiah" the epithet "Satan" is applied to him. The description of Armilus in the "Revelations of R. Simon b. Yoḥai" has more resemblance to that in the Elijah apocalypse, whereas in the "Apocalypse of Zerubbabel," in "The Wars of King Messiah" and "Prayer of R. Simon b. Yoḥai," he is described as a human monstrosity.
Legend of Messiah b. Joseph.
"The Wars of King Messiah" and the "Prayer of R. Simon b. Yoḥai" also state that he will claim to be the Messiah and a god, and that he will be accepted by the heathen as such, whereas Israel will refuse to acknowledge him. In the Constantinople edition of the "Apocalypse of Zerubbabel," as Bousset has observed (c. p. 86, note 3), Satan is called , "Belial," the name by which the Antichrist is called in the "Sibylline Oracles," 2:67, 3:63; "Testament of the Patriarchs" (Dan) and "Ascensio Isaiæ." This circumstance is of great importance, inasmuch as by its means the Armilus legend, as it is found in the above-mentioned apocalypses, seemsparticularly adapted to throw light upon various points in the Antichrist legend. All four apocalypses contain the legend of Messiah b. Joseph in common. They state that he will gather Israelites around him (among whom in "The Wars of King Messiah" and "Prayer of R. Simon b. Yoḥai" a part of the Ten Tribes will be found), march up to Jerusalem and there, after overcoming the hostile powers (in the "Apocalypse of Zerubbabel" the king of Persia is the hostile power; in "The Wars of King Messiah" and "Prayer of R. Simon b. Yoḥai," the Roman empire; in the "Revelations of R. Simon b. Yoḥai," there is no definite statement on this point), reintroduce the worship of the Temple, and establish his own dominion. This, however, will be of short duration; for Armilus, with the heathen, will appear before Jerusalem to battle against him and will slay him. Then the time of the last extreme suffering and persecution for Israel will begin, from which escape will be sought by flight into the wilderness. There Messiah b. David and the prophet Elijah will appear to them (in the "Revelations of R. Simon b. Yoḥai" the latter is not mentioned), and lead them up to Jerusalem, where the Messiah will destroy Armilus and all the armies of the heathen. In the "Apocalypse of Zerubbabel," as well as in "The Wars of King Messiah," the Messiah b. David, in company with Elijah, will resurrect Messiah b. Joseph, who lies slain at the gates of Jerusalem.
Another point common to the "Apocalypse of Zerubbabel" and the "Revelations of R. Simon b. Yoḥai" is, that on his advent the Israelites will not acknowledge Messiah b. David. The one point mentioned which only the "Apocalypse of Zerubbabel" contains is that besides the two Messiahs there is to be a woman, Hephzibah, the mother of Messiah b. David. According to the text in Jellinek's edition, she will come upon the scene five years before Messiah b. Joseph; and a great star will light up her path. She will slay two kings, and assist Messiah b. Joseph in his war against the king of Persia; and during the flight into the wilderness she will shelter Israel from the persecution of Armilus. This last feature of the description calls to mind the flight of the woman, as described in the Revelation of John, 12:13-17, and the description of Tabitha in the Coptic "Apocalypse of Elijah." The picture of the future world in the Zerubbabel apocalypse is also distinctive; for in addition to the establishment of the heavenly Jerusalem upon five mountains (Lebanon, Moriah, Tabor, Carmel, and Hermon), nothing more is mentioned than the resurrection of the generation buried in the wilderness, and of the faithful who met death during the general persecution ("the ocean," which is spoken of in this connection, must be understood in its symbolical signification; as it is used as early as Daniel 7:3 et seq.).
9. The Wars of King Messiah ( ), (called also "The Book of the Wars of YHWH," and  "Occurrences at the Time of the Advent of Messiah," and, finally, "The Wars of Gog and Magog, of Messiah b. Joseph, Messiah b. David, and Elijah the Prophet"):
Its Wide Circulation.
This apocalypse must have had a very wide circulation, as evidenced by the many manuscripts in which it is preserved. It is contained in a Parisian manuscript (Codex Hebr. 716); in one in Leipsic (Codex Hebr. 12), and another at Halberstamm, and in three manuscripts at the Bodleian Library (see Neubauer, "Catalogue," Nos. 1466, 15; 2274, 6; 2360, 9. The first of these is complete; in the second the introduction and conclusion are missing; the third seems to be only a fragment)—in a Munich manuscript (Codex Hebr. 312; the introduction and conclusion are also omitted in this); and it was also included in the "Maḥzor Vitry," in which, however, as some pages in the manuscript are missing, only the first and last parts are preserved. This work was printed in the Constantinople collection mentioned above, in 1519, and also in "Abḳat Rokel" (Pedler's SpiceBox) by Jacob Machir. From the latter, Jellinek reprinted it in "B. H." 2:58-63, omitting, however, the introduction and the conclusion, which he added in vol. 6:117-120. The Munich manuscript was found by the present writer, who collated it with the text in "Abḳat Rokel," and with Jellinek, to contain a number of better readings and variants than the latter.
The following may be added to what has been related above as explanatory of the contents of this book:
A parenetic discourse forms the introduction; after which the unusual phenomena that will usher in the end—unnatural and pestilence-producing heat, poisonous dew, and an eclipse of the sun lasting thirty days—are depicted. The Roman "kingdom" will spread its dominion over the whole world, and will persecute Israel most cruelly for the space of nine months, at the end of which time Messiah b. Joseph will appear. From here on, the description continues as outlined above. After Messiah b. David shall have destroyed Armilus and the heathen armies, together with the "wicked" Rome, then the dead will arise, and the Israelites, dispersed over all lands, will be gathered into Jerusalem. The heathen will convey them thither, and will offer homage to Israel; also, the Ten Tribes, together with the descendants of Moses, will return, enveloped in clouds, from the regions of Chaboras and Halach and from Media; and as they march, the earth will be transformed before them into a paradise. The conclusion contains the description of the glorious new Jerusalem and of the other blessings of the future world, which are here of a more spiritual character. According to the various editions, it is said of Armilus, that "the nations call him Antichrist." But the Munich manuscript reads here, "He is called Gog and Magog"; and for "palace of Julian," it reads "palace of Hadrian."
10. The Revelations of R. Simon b. Yoḥai ():
Written About 750.
This apocalypse was printed at Salonica in 1743, in the collection already mentioned, and was reprinted from it by Jellinek in "B. H." 3:78 et seq. It is preserved also in the Munich manuscript (Codex Hebr. 222), which contains better readings in some places. The apocalypse really ends with "Thy people shall all be righteous," 81, 13 in Jellinek; what follows, as Graetz already recognized ("Gesch. der Juden," 5:446), was added later, probably from the "Prayer of R. Simon b. Yoḥai." As Graetz shows (ib.), this apocalypse was written during the stormy period of the deposition of the Ommiads (750). It describes plainly the wars of Merwan II., who is mentioned by name, his flight after the battle on the bank of the Great Zab, his capture, and his assassination. The revelations about the end are made by Meṭaṭron to R. Simon b. Yoḥai, while the latter is dwelling in a cave, hiding from the Roman emperor. The history of Islam is reviewed from the appearance of the prophet up to the events just mentioned. From this point on, the real prophecy of the future begins. It opens with the prediction that after Merwan'ssuccessor has reigned three months, the nine months' dominion of the "wicked empire" will set in for Israel; then the course of events is described as before set forth under the "Apocalypse of Zerubbabel"; and, finally, the picture of the future world is drawn. After the dispersed Israelites are gathered together, and the earthly Jerusalem in addition to the heathen part of its population is consumed by fire from heaven, the glorious new Jerusalem will descend from heaven; Israel will dwell in it for 2,000 years in perfect peace, and as in the "Apocalypse of Baruch" (29:4), and IV Esdras (6:52), will feast on the BEHEMOTH and the Leviathan. At the end of this time God will descend into the valley of Jehoshaphat to hold judgment, and heaven and earth will disappear; the heathen will be put into hell; Israel will enter into paradise: and for a year the sinners in Israel will suffer the tortures of hell and then be admitted to paradise.
11. The Prayer of R. Simon b. Yoḥai ():
Mention of the Crusades.
This apocalypse was published by Jellinek in "B. H." 4:117-126, according to a manuscript of Mortara. It shows the closest relation to the preceding; and begins with a similar retrospect of the Mohammedan history, but carries it on to a later date, and finally refers to events which, Jellinek observes (ib. p. 8), may be unmistakably recognized as the Crusades. Graetz thought that this apocalypse contained allusions to the inroads of the Mongols in 1258-60, and believed that these events led directly to its composition (c. 7:139,449 et seq.). But this is out of the question; for the passage about the appearance of deformed, swift-footed men from the far East, upon which Graetz founded his argument, occurs in the middle of the historical retrospect, and not in the description of the events immediately preceding the end. In this part of the apocalypse the reference is solely to the Crusades, and could hardly be plainer. The point in question is a favorite one in apocalyptic description, and is simply taken from older writings; "The Wars of King Messiah" also contains it; but in the latter the picture of the monstrosities is still more horrible and bears more resemblance to the description in the Revelation of John, 9:13 et seq., which is the oldest example of the sort. —written erroneously in one place , and in another —the collapse of which is taken in the "Revelations of R. Simon b. Yoḥai" and in the "Prayer of R. Simon b. Yoḥai," as well as in the apocalypse treated below (the "Midrash of the Ten Kings" which also has the corruption ), as an ominous prognostication of the imminent fall of the Islamic kingdom, is nothing else, as Steinschneider clearly proves ("Apocalypsen," pp. 639, 599), than the famous eastern gate, Bâb Girûn, of the Mosque in Damascus.
12. The Midrash of the Ten Kings ( ):
Describes Islamic Rulers.
This belongs to the same class as the two preceding apocalypses. It has been published by C. M. Horowitz in "Sammlung Kleiner Midraschim" ("Bet 'Oked Agadot"), 1:37-55, according to a manuscript of De Rossi's. The apocalypse begins with a very diffuse description of the eight kings who have already ruled—the first being God; the last, Alexander the Great—and relates, in connection with this subject, the destruction of the Temple by Titus and the Hadrianic persecution, and leads over in this way to Simon b. Yoḥai's hiding from the Roman emperor in a cave, and to the revelations regarding the end, which he received while there. As in the two preceding books, the different Islamic rulers, beginning with Mohammed, are described. The two rulers mentioned at the beginning of page 53 are beyond doubt Hisham and his successor, Walid II. The references to the six following rulers are so vague that no certain conclusions can be drawn regarding their identity. The remainder of the book is taken up with prophecy of the future, in which, at first, occasional allusions to historical events seem to be interspersed. Here also the prophecies of the future begin with the announcement of the period of nine months of intense persecution, whereupon Armilus will reign forty days. At the termination of his reign, Messiah b. Joseph will appear and restore the Temple in Jerusalem, and will establish for Israel an epoch of peace. At the conclusion of this period, Gog and Magog will march upon Jerusalem, and Messiah b. Joseph will fall in battle against him. Three-fourths of the Israelites will wander into exile. God will then destroy the armies of Gog and Magog; and Israel, including the "nine and a half tribes," will return to Jerusalem. The rulership will recur to the house of David; Messiah b. David will rule as the ninth king over the whole world; and Israel will enjoy the blessings of the Messianic kingdom. At the end of 2,000 years God will Himself descend to judgment.
13. The Persian Apocalypse of Daniel:
This apocalypse was published and translated by Zotenberg in Merx, "Archiv," 1:386-427. It also belongs to the group just treated; but at the same time it occupies, as Bousset observes (c. p. 69), a peculiar place within the Neo-Hebrew apocalypse, by reason of the rôle which Messiah b. Joseph plays in it. The account, however, is not perfectly clear. First comes a very diffuse legendary narrative of the events of the time of Daniel; that is, from the appearance of the prophet Jeremiah down to the time of King Darius I., Hystaspes (B.C. 485). Then it relates how Daniel mourns and fasts because of the destruction of the Temple, and how an angel appears to unveil the future to him. Here follows abruptly, regardless of the thousand intervening years, a transparent description of Mohammed and the Islamic rulers following him. In the ruler with three sons (p. 411, 12 from the bottom), as Bousset observes, Harûn al-Raschid and his three sons are with certainty recognizable.
Describes the Resurrection.
Two further rulers are mentioned, and then the prophecy of the future begins. The nine months' sovereignty of Rome is predicted, and the appearance of one who is not mentioned by name, but whose description corresponds exactly with that of Armilus in the preceding apocalypses. The army of Gog and Magog will unite with him, and, as in "The Wars of King Messiah" and the "Prayer of R. Simon b. Yoḥai," he will claim to be the Messiah. He will subdue the world and persecute Israel. "A man of the children of Ephraim" will then appear; and the Israelites will all gather around him and go with him to "that wicked one," and demand from him that he prove by miracles, particularly by waking the dead, that he is the Messiah. Enraged at this demand, he will persecute them anew, and the Israelites will flee before him into the wilderness. There Michael and Gabriel will appear and forthwith announce to them their delivery. Then they will kill him who claims to be the Messiah; and also the Messiah ben Joseph will be killed, and the flag of Messiah b. David will be raised. The latter will destroy the whole army of Gog and Magog. Then Elijah will appear; the dead will arise; and the Israeliteswill come to the Messiah from all quarters of the world on the wings of Simurg. The Messianic kingdom will endure for 1,300 years. The description of it and of the last judgment, which succeeds it, does not differ materially from that in the preceding apocalypses. Certain details in the description of the last judgment occur also in the alphabets of R. Akiba. The apocalypse has, besides, a brief account of the different divisions of hell. On the basis of the historical setting of this apocalypse, it is safe to conclude, with Bousset, that it was written in the first half of the ninth century.
14. Eschatological Descriptions: In conclusion the following eschatological descriptions may be mentioned: The one in Pesiḳta Zuṭṭarta, section Balak (ed. Buber, 4:258 et seq.), included by Jellinek in "B. H." 3:141-143, under the title (Haggadah of the Messiah); the conclusion of "Midrash Vayosha'," in the recension edited by Jellinek ("B. H." 2:55-57); (Chapters on Messiah), in Jellinek, "B. H." 3:68,78; contained also with many better readings in the Munich Codex, No. 222 (see in regard to the beginning of this piece as given here, Buttenwieser, "Elias Apocalypse," p. 10); (Repast in Paradise), (The Feast on the Leviathan), in Jellinek, "B. H." 5:45 et seq., 6:150 et seq.; (Prophecies of the Future), existing only in manuscript form in Codex de Rossi, Nos. 1240 and 541 (compare Zunz, "L. G." p. 604 and Steinschneider, "Apocalypsen," p. 635, note 18); the description of Saadia in his "Emunot Vedeöt,"; that of Hai Gaon in "Ta 'am Zeḳenim," pp. 59 et seq., Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1854; and that of Meir Aldabi in "Shebile Emunah." Of the above-mentioned, the "Haggadah of the Messiah" is the only one which contains a description differing somewhat from all the other presentations met with in the course of this article: From the wilderness, whither the Israelites will flee after the fall of the Messiah, they will march to Rome at the command of a voice from heaven, and seize the city, whereupon Messiah b. David will reveal himself to them.
It is also worthy of note that the burning of Death and Satan in the lake of fire at the last judgment forms part of the description in "The Feast of the Leviathan" as in the Revelation of John. All the others offer nothing new. "Chapters on Messiah" is a very late compilation (compare Jellinek, "B. H." 3:19), as is also "Prophecies of the Future."
- Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, 2:55,57, 1:48-49;
- Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, 3:85 et seq.;
- Jellinek, B. H. 2:55-57, 3:68 et seq., Leipsic-Vienna, 1853-77;
- Merx, Archiv für Wissenschaftliche Erforschung des Alt. Test. 1:386 et seq.;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., 2:498 et seq., 3:182 et seq.;
- Steinschneider, Apocalypsen mit Polemischer Tendenz, in Z. D. M. G. 28:627 et seq., 29:162 et seq.;
- Wellhausen, I. J. G. pp. 123 et seq., 164 et seq., 253 et seq., Berlin, 1894;
- idem, Skizzen und Vorarbeiten, 6:226 et seq.;
- Smend, Ueber Jüdische Apokalyptik in Z. A. T. W. 5:322 et seq.;
- H. J. Holtzman, Neu Testam. Theologie, 1:68;
- Bousset, Der Antichrist in der Ueberlieferung des Judenthums.
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Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Apocalyptic Literature, Neo-Hebraic'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​a/apocalyptic-literature-neo-hebraic.html. 1901.