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Rambam: The Coming of the Messiah Print E-mail

WritingsIggeret Teiman – The Letter to the Jews of Yemen: Your letter mentions the calculations of Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon made for the date of the coming of the Messiah. You should be aware that n human being will ever be able to determine the exact date, as Daniel stated, “For these words are secret and sealed to the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:9)

Nevertheless, many theories were suggested by a few scholars who thought that they had discovered the date. This was predicted by Daniel, “Many will run far and wide and opinions will increase.” (Daniel 12:4)

In other words, there will be much speculation about it.

Furthermore, God informed us through His prophets that many people will calculate the time of the coming of the Messiah; the date will pass and nothing will happen.

We are warned against yielding to doubt and misgivings because of these miscalculations. We are urged not to be disillusioned if these computations do not come to fruition.

We are told: The longer the delay, the more intensely you should hope. As it says, “For there is yet a prophecy for a set term, it declares of the end and does not lie. Even if it tarries wait for it still; for it will surely come, without delay.” (Habbakuk 2:3)

Even the date of the end of the Egyptian exile was not exactly known. This gave rise to various interpretations. God, however, clearly spelled it out, stating, “They will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.” (Genesis 15:13) Some thought that the period of 400 years began when Jacob arrived in Egypt. Others counted it from the beginning of Israel’s enslavement, which happened seventy years later.

Others figured it from the time of the Covenant of the Halves, when this prophecy was given to Abraham. As our Sages taught us, 400 years after this Covenant, and thirty years before Moshe appeared on the scene, a group of the Children of Israel, from the tribe of Ephraim, left Egypt. They thought that the predicted end of the exile had arrived. However, the Egyptians captured and killed them and increased the workload of the slaves. David alluded to these men who miscalculated and left Egypt, in the verse, “Like the Ephraimite bowmen who turned back in the day of battle.” (Psalms 78:9)
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