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Concerning the Mishneh Torah: Of Kings and Wars:
An Overview

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © July 22, 2021

As we continue to witness the fall of the United States, as I've been warning about since the mid-1970's must happen before the coming of the Mashiach and the dawning of the coming global dictatorship, many people are now beginning to awaken to Reality and are looking to the Jewish and other prophets for guidance. Looking to God's Word for understanding is a good thing, its a mitzvah! So what do we know from the Bible about the End Times? Or in truth, the Beginning Times because truly once we pass through the coming horrors, once we awaken from this nightmare we are all experiencing, we will find ourselves in the time of unimaginable shalom, peace and balance, in what the Hebrew prophets refer to as the Olam Haba, or Messianic World or Age to come. May we arrive there soon!

So how does this global redemption come about? As usual the prophets are both very clear and somewhat obscure. The certainties exist because HaShem never leaves His people in complete darkness as we are assured through Prophet Amos:

For the Lord God does nothing unless He has revealed His secret to His servants, the prophets.

And yet these things are often obscured from us in order to protect our individual and collective free will. If everything was known with certainty free will would be impossible. How could a person choose a negative path if he or she understood it was unwise and that another was preferable? So, we know some things now, but not everything. As I often say, when King Messiah is here and ruling we will ALL doubtless say, “I didn't see this happening!” and “I was sure wrong about that!”

Free will is vital! It is the Way of God that enables everyone to come to the Truth through the use of their intellect and consciousness. Once firmly situated in the Olam Haba free will as we know it will become obsolete, irrelevant. Until then, we know the grand theme and outcome but many of the details along the way are not so clear to us.

In this presentation let's learn from the great sage Rambam, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon. In his Mishna Torah section entitled Of Kings and War he reveals much of what is known concerning the Messiah and the End Times. We will be using the Sefaria translation. Any [bracketed] comments will be my own those in (parenthesis) are in the texts as inline notes.

King Messiah will arise and re-establish the monarchy of David as it was in former times. He will build the Sanctuary [or Beit HaMikdash] and gather in the dispersed of Israel. All the earlier statutes will be restored as they once were. Sacrifices will be offered, the Sabbatical and Jubilee years will be observed, as commanded in the Torah. Anyone who does not believe in him or one who does not anticipate his coming not only denies the Prophets, but also the Torah and Moses our Teacher. For the Torah has given testimony about him saying, “And the Lord your G-d will turn your captivity and have compassion with you. He will return and gather you from all the peoples… If any of you should be dispersed at the ends of Heaven, from there G-d will gather you, from there He will fetch you. And the Lord, your G-d will bring you…” (Deuteronomy 30:3-4).

These matters are explicit in the Torah and include everything said by all the Prophets. It is even written in the Chapter of Balaam who prophesied about both the Messiahs: The first Messiah was David who saved Israel from her adversities and the final Messiah will be from his sons and will deliver Israel from the hands of the descendants of Esau. There it says, “I shall see him, but not now” (Numbers 24:17) - this refers to David; “I behold him, and not soon” (ibid.) - this is the King Messiah; “A star from Jacob shall step forth” (ibid.) - this is David; “and a scepter shall arise out of Israel” (ibid.) - this the King Messiah; “and shall smite through the corners of Moab” - this is David; and so it says, “And he smote Moab and measured them with a rope” (II Samuel 8:2); “and break down all the sons of Seth” (Numbers 24:17) - this is King Messiah of whom it says, “and his dominion shall be from sea to sea” (Zechariah 9:10); “and Edom shall be a possession” (Numbers 24:18) - this is David, as it says, “And Edom shall become slaves to David” (see II Samuel 8:6 and II Samuel 8:14); “Seir also, even his enemies, shall be a possession” (Numbers 24:18) - this is King Messiah, as it says, “And the saviors shall come upon Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau…” (Obadiah 1:21).

As we see, it is the fundamental opinion of Torah believing Jews that Mashiach ben David will come. That he will rule as the literal monarch of Israel, from Zion, and that he will defeat all of his enemies. It is also understood that the Davidic Kingdom was and is established by G-d and will resume under the monarchy of one of David HaMelech's (i.e. King David's) genetic descendants. The final restoration of that eternal kingdom will be that of Mashiach ben David.

Even in the section regarding the cities of refuge it says, “If the Lord your G-d shall enlarge your borders… and shall add for you another three cities more…” (Deuteronomy 12:20 and 19:8-9). This actually never took place* and the Holy One Blessed be He never commands anything for nothing. However, from the words of the Prophets this matter does not need a proof, since all the Books are full of this matter.
    *i.e. Since there were never nine cities, but at most six Cities of Refuge. The additional three must therefore be established in the Olam Haba.

We see G-d's ultimate Plan revealed throughout the Scriptures if we know the Scriptures well enough to compare the texts properly. In their totality, when all of the prophecies are considered together with a full understanding, everything is there. The point about there never being nine cities of refuge is an example of how intricate the understandings of the Olam Haba are to biblical prophecy and teaching. For HaShem there is no now and then, there is only the eternal present. Unlike us, His Present moment includes all time past, present and future.

It should not occur to you that King Messiah must bring wondrous signs or perform marvels or invent new things or revive the dead or anything like what the fools say. It is not so. For Rabbi Akiva, one of the wisest of the Sages of the Mishna, was King Ben Coziba’s Bar Cochba (i.e. his arms-bearer and staunch supporter) and [he] said that he was the King Messiah. He and all the Sages of his generation thought that he was the King Messiah, until he was killed because of his sins (he killed Rabbi Elazar HaModai). Since he was killed, they then understood that he was not the one. The Sages never asked of him neither a sign nor a wonder. So, the essence of the matter is like this: The Laws and the Statutes of the Torah never change. We may not add to them nor detract from them. Anyone who adds to or subtracts from them or reveals some new dimension to the Torah or understands the Commandments differently than their plain meaning is for sure an evil person and an Apikoris [which is to say, one who negates the rabbinic tradition].

Miracles are not how one identifies the Messiah. There are many wonder workers who can, through charisma and slight of hand, deceive people. Mashiach ben David will be identified by what he accomplishes in terms of the requisite prophecies. Those who followed Bar Kochba were hopeful that he would complete the task. While he was alive there existed the possibility but when he was dead the hope was given up. Contrast this with the followers of Yeshua ben Miriam or Jesus. While he was alive the possibility existed and yet when he died the possibility ended. Many people cling to the hope that this or that person might be or return to be the Messiah and yet there is no possibility of one who has died getting a 'do-over' according to the Jewish prophets. If the candidate physically dies without meeting the requirements he should be consider a 'failed Messianic candidate'. “The Laws and the Statutes of the Torah never change. We may not add to them nor detract from them.”

So we ask, what are these requirements? Rambam now presents the most essential of them:

Now, if a king should arise from the House of David who is versed in Torah and engages in Commandments, as did David his forefather, in accordance with both the Written and the Oral Torahs, and he enjoins all of Israel to follow in its ways and encourages them to repair its breaches [i.e. does away with the movements and sects and unites the people as one], and if he fights the Wars of G-d [i.e. if he leads the people to defend Israel and does so himself] then he may be presumed to be the Messiah. If he succeeds in his efforts and defeats the enemies around and builds the Sanctuary in its proper place and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Messiah.

We must ask, has anyone ever done these things? The obvious answer is no. Bar Kochba tried and came close, but in the end he failed. Yeshua (Jesus) did not even come close, but rather spawned the most historically antisemitic religion of all times – although many Christians today have rejected the historic antisemitism of their fore-bearers. The Lubavitcher Rebbe tried and accomplished much good, bringing many wayward Jews back to Torah, yet his Chabad organization also created another wedge between Jews by dividing our people through the rejection of the Jewishness of many Jews, and declaring their supremacy through the merits of their founding Rebbes over the other movements. Do not misunderstand me here. All of the various attempts by the would-be Messiahs doubtless came with the best of intentions and I do not condemn them nor their followers. I am merely pointing out that to date all of the would-be Messiahs have failed. Interestingly, the man who came closest, David Ben-Gurion, was not a particularly religious Jew, although he was a staunch Zionist. The point is: Thus far the Messianic prophecies remain unfulfilled as anyone who seriously considers these requirements will agree. This is why some hold to beliefs in second advents and other thoughts not consistent with Torah nor with our Prophets.

But, if he does not succeed in these matters or is killed, we will know that he was not the one Torah has promised. He is (merely to be considered) like all the (other) exemplary and qualified kings of the House of David who have died. G-d set him up only to try [or test] the masses, as it says, “And some of the wise will stumble, to refine among them and to purify and to make white, even to the time of the end, for it is yet for the time appointed” (Daniel 11:35).

If the candidate is killed or dies in some other way he is not the Messiah. Still G-d's Hand guides all. Through these failed messiahs the Beloved One sees if people will follow a personality cult or maintain their emunah in HaShem alone. In most cases the personality cult members focus more on their leader than on HaShem.

Even Jesus the Nazarene who imagined he would be the Messiah and was killed by the Court (or, was handed over to the Romans who killed him as a revolutionary because he proclaimed himself the Messiah, King of Israel) was prophesied about by Daniel as it says, “and also the children of the violent among your people will lift themselves up to establish the vision, but they shall stumble” (Daniel 11:14). Was there ever a greater impediment [to the Jews] than this one [i.e. than Yeshua/Jesus]?

All the Prophets spoke of the [true] Messiah, Redeemer of Israel and Savior and Gatherer of the Exiles and Strengthener of the Commandments. But this one [i.e. Yeshua/Jesus] caused the ruin of Israel by the sword and the dispersal of its remnant and its humiliation and reversed (or changed) the Torah, and caused most of the world to err and worship a god other than HaShem (G-d).

Here Rambam is quite blunt in his views on the Christian religion. It is not, to be clear, that Daniel (11:14) prophesied the coming of Yeshua personally, rather that he warned of the coming of false Messiahs in general, a warning that certainly includes Yeshua and the Roman religion created in his name.

Nonetheless, the Thoughts of the Creator of the World are beyond any man’s understanding. For our ways are not His Ways, and our thoughts are not His Thoughts. And all the doings of Jesus the Nazarene and that of that Ishmaelite (i.e. Mohammed) the Rambam labels “Meshugah” [or nonsense people] (in his Igeress Teiman) who came after him are nothing but to pave the way for the King Messiah and prepare the entire world to worship G-d together, as it says, “For then (i.e. when they will realize that their Messiahs were false) they will abandon them and turn to G-d’s true Messiah. “I will turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent” (Zephania 3:9).

So we understand that once the real Messiah, Mashiach ben David, is here the other nations, as well as the wayward Jews, will abandon their idols, be they religious or secular idols, and then 'the House of the Lord will be the House of prayer for all people' as foretold at Isaiah 56:7. Christianity and Islam have both helped to bring the world to monotheism, although both err in terms of identifying the One G-d and what He wants of humanity. Their service will make the transition to true religion easier for many people. All things work for the ultimate good. Rambam continues:

How is this so? The world is now already filled with matters of the Messiah and matters of the Torah and matters of the Commandments. Knowledge of these matters have spread to the distant islands and to the many nations of those with uncircumcised hearts. They discuss these matters and the Commandments of the Torah. Some of them (as did Mohammed) say that these Commandments were once true, but have since been canceled for our times as they were not meant to be observed for all generations. Some of them say that these are secret matters and are not as simple as they would appear, and now that “Messiah Jesus” has come the secrets are revealed to all.

But when the true King Messiah will rise and succeed, and he will be lifted up and raised aloft, they all will immediately return and will know that their fathers left them an erroneous legacy, and their fathers and prophets led them astray.
Chapter 12
It should not occur to you that during the days of the Messiah a single thing from the “ways of the world” (i.e. Nature) will be canceled nor will there be something novel in the Creation, rather, the world will continue in its customary way.

Now, that which is said in Isaiah, “And the wolf will live with the sheep and the leopard shall lie down with the kid” (Isaiah 11:6) is a parable and riddle. The substance of the matter is that Israel will dwell in safety with the wicked of the world who are compared to wolves and tigers, as it says, “a wolf of the deserts spoil them, a leopard watches over their cities” (Jeremiah 5:6). But, they will all return to the true religion and they will not steal and not destroy. Rather, they will eat of the permissible foods comfortably (i.e. in peace) like Israel, as it says, “and the lion will eat straw as does the ox” (Isaiah 11:7). And so similar matters written about the Messiah are parables. In the days of the King Messiah everyone will understand these parables and to what these matters were compared and to what was hinted.

Our Sages have said that there is no difference between this World and the Days of the Messiah except (our) subservience to the kingdoms of the world alone. From the plain meaning of the words of the prophets we understand that at the beginning of the days of the Messiah there will be the War of Gog and Magog. Before the War of Gog of Magog, a prophet will arise to correct Israel and prepare their hearts. (i.e. direct them to G-d), as it says, “Behold, I will send you Elijah” (Malachi 3:23). He will not come to make the pure impure, nor purify the impure, nor disqualify people who are presumed to have legitimate lineage (or, family pedigree), nor to qualify those who are disqualified). He will only come to bring peace to the world (between Israel and the other nations), as it says, “And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers on the children” (Malachi 3:24). Some of the Sages say that Elijah will come (either to announce his coming or to “authorize rabbis” for the Sanhedrin) before the coming of the Messiah. But regarding all these matters and similar, no one knows how it will be until it will be. For these matters were unclear to the Prophets. Even the Sages themselves did not have a Tradition regarding these matters and only could attempt to understand the verses. Thus, there were disagreements in these matters. Nevertheless, neither the order that these events will occur nor their details are fundamental to the religion. Thus, a person must never busy himself with the Aggadot and not dwell on the Midrashim regarding these matters or similar issues. He must not make them dogma (nor, the essence, a tenet). For these do not result in either love (for G-d) nor fear (of sin). Similarly, one should not calculate the Ends (of) the Exile nor when the Messiah will come. Our Sages have said that the spirit of those who calculate the Ends will expire (i.e. they will die before their time). Rather, one is to (simply) wait and believe in the principle (and not overmuch contemplate the details) of this matter, as we have explained. During the days of King Messiah, when he will be secure in his monarchy, and all of Israel will gather about him, everyone’s genealogy will be clarified by him by means of the Holy Spirit which will rest upon him, as it says, “And he shall sit as a purifier and refiner…” (Malachi 3:3). The Sons of Levi will be the first to be purified (i.e. their lineage will be determined/confirmed first) and he will say, “this one has the pedigree of a Kohen, and this one has the pedigree of a Levite”. He will reject those who have no (true) lineage (as Levites and Kohanim) and will make them Israelites, as it says, “And the Tirashoso said to them…until a Kohen will arise with the Urim and Tumim” (Ezra 2:63). You have now learned that those with a pedigree will be confirmed, and lineage will be made known, by means of the Holy Spirit. He will not ascertain the ancestry of Israel except regarding which tribe they are from, and inform us that this one is from such and such a tribe and that one is from such and such a tribe. But, he will not tell us whether someone presumed of legitimate pedigree is a bastard or a slave. For the Law is that the family which had someone assimilate within it, assimilates him (or literally that, “the family which became assimilated, assimilates.” The commentary in the Rambam La’am says he “remains in his presumption of legitimate lineage).”

The Sages and the Prophets did not long for the days of the Messiah because they wanted to rule the world or because they wanted to have dominion over the non-Jews or because they wanted the nations to exalt them or because they wanted to eat, drink and be merry. Rather, they desired this so that they would have time for Torah and its Wisdom. And there would be no one who would oppress them or force them to be idle (from Torah). This, in order that they may merit the World to Come, as we have explained regarding the Laws of Repentance.

At that time there will be no famines and no wars, no envy and no competition. For the Good will be very pervasive (or, 'inspiring', 'affecting', 'influencing'), all the delicacies will be as readily available as is dust. The world will only be engaged in knowing G-d (compare this with Rabbi S. R. Hirsch in his Nineteen Letters). Then, there will be very wise people (some editions have, “Israel will be very wise”) who will understand the deep, sealed matters. They will then achieve knowledge of the Creator to as high a degree as humanly possible, as it says, “For the Earth shall be filled of knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

This section of Rambam's Mishna Torah presents the fundamental knowable details of the coming of the real Mashiach ben David. He touches on the concept of Mashiach ben Yosef here but does not pursue the matter. This may be due to his optimism that one day Israel will awaken and make the needed teshuvah (repentance) thus bypassing the War of Magog prophecies. But in any case, this is the foundational Jewish conception of the coming of Mashiach ben David and what he will accomplish. To date no one has achieved these goals and hence we can be certain that Mashiach ben David has not yet arrived. May he come soon and in our lifetimes and may the Jews survive to greet that Glorious Day as HaShem has spoken through His Holy Prophets.

What comes next of the prophetic agenda? We can not say for certain. As I discuss else where however the current realities of our world certainly seem conducive for the coming of global governance and the dictatorship of the man like Haman and Nimrod. Ideally Mashiach ben Yosef will not need to come and die because Klal Israel will return to Torah en masse and the Seventy Nations, seeing this, will come to the Light of HaShem (Zechariah 8:23). Ideally this could happen. This is what we pray for. Rebbe Nachman tells us that the main reason for the Galut (the exile or diaspora of the Jewish people) is our tenancy to deny the importance of faith and miracles (Likutey Moharan 1.7.1). HaMashiach's coming is dependent on the free willed development and exercise of Jewish faith (emunah). Faith in HaShem is the answer to everything and yet our societies are built on the rejection of faith! We say, 'I'll believe it when I see it' but Derech HaShem, the Way of God, is built on emunah. When we look to HaShem we will see miracles! The Olam Haba (or World to Come) will be a time of miracles because it will be the age of faith.

Faith alone is not enough however. The notion that 'It does not matter what one believes, as long as one believes' is not the teaching of Torah, Rebbe Nachman or our other sages. Emunah must be based firmly on Truth and Truth is revealed by Torah. As we read:

But it is impossible to reach faith without truth, as taught in the Zohar (iii:198b): "Righteousness will gird his loins, and faith [will gird his waist]" (Isaiah 11:5): "Is not righteousness identical with faith?" [one might ask] And the Zohar answers, "When righteousness is combined with truth, it is called faith [emunah]" – Likutey Moharan 1.7.2
.

If the Jewish people choose to humble themselves and embrace the truth of Torah they will lead the world to HaShem and then:

Isaiah 56:7 I will bring them to My holy mount, and I will cause them to rejoice in My house of prayer, their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon My altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

If this does not happen however, and history is not encouraging on this score, then HaShem will eventually make it happen through the War of Magog and Mashiach ben Yosef according to our sages:

Sanhedrin Folio 97a: ...Thus hath R. Johanan said: in the generation when the son of David [i.e. Messiah] will come, scholars will be few in number, and as for the rest, their eyes will fail through sorrow and grief. Multitudes of trouble and evil decrees will be promulgated anew, each new evil coming with haste before the other has ended.'

Sanhedrin 97b: ... Rab said: All the predestined dates [for redemption] have passed, and the matter [now] depends only on repentance and good deeds...

R. Eliezer said: if Israel repent, they will be redeemed; if not, they will not be redeemed.

R. Joshua said to him, if they do not repent, will they not be redeemed! [i.e. not so] But the Holy One, blessed be He, will set up a king over them, whose decrees shall be as cruel as Haman's, whereby Israel shall engage in repentance, and he will thus bring them back to the right path.

The only real question remaining is whether or not we are prepared to make teshuvah. This will bring Mashiach ben David and avoid the awful War of Magog. THIS is our choice to make.

Shalom

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