Tuesday, June 26, 2018

At The End Of The World

While Judaism is, for the most part, focused on the here and now (with a solid amount of regard for the past), it does have its own eschatology. Eschatology is theology concerning what will occur when the world, as it exists today, ends.

The traditional Jewish understanding of the future is that the era in which we are currently living will be followed by a Messianic era heralded in by Moshiach, the Hebrew term for messiah (click here to learn more about the Jewish concept of Moshiach.)  In this latter age, peace shall reign and God’s Will will be palpable. Understanding how the transition between these ages will occur is a topic of much discussion and debate.

One of the better known, and frightening, possibilities, is the War of Gog and Magog. Mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel, chapters 38-39, it is a prophecy that concerns Gog of the land of Magog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:

“After a long time you shall be summoned; in the distant future you shall march against the land [of a people] restored from the sword, gathered from the midst of many peoples – against the mountains of Israel, which have long lain desolate – [a people] liberated from the nations, and now all dwelling secure*” (Ezekial 38:8). Some commentaries connect this war to Moshiach ben Yoseph (Messiah the son of Joseph), who is expected to be the first redeemer and the harbinger of Moshiach ben David (Messiah the son of David), perhaps because the prophecy alludes to the Children of Israel having returned to the land, but peace has not yet been attained.

The War of Gog and Magog is dramatically described, and it is not surprising that it is often referred to something akin to when the world seems on the edge of destruction, such as during the World Wars or even at the height of the Cold War.

*Translation from Sefaria.org

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