The Messianic Age in Judaism

Jewish text offers glimpses into the time of the Messiah.

Print this page Print this page

Still others held that humans would take on a new appearance: some thought that man would achieve a height of 160 feet, while another suggested he might double that. There is no suggestion that the Messiah himself is a wonder worker, but many sages believed that the messianic age would be a time of wonders. Women would give birth painlessly, hens lay eggs continuously, and food appear in abundance [BT Shabbat 30b].

There were controversies about the nature of the messianic era. Followers of the sage Samuel maintained that it would be similar to their own era, except that the Jewish people would be returned to Israel and the Davidic monarchy restored. Samuel saw "no difference between this world and the messianic age other than subjugation to dispersions [BT Shabbat 63a]."

Others, such as Rabbi Eliezer, believed that the next era would be unprecedented and qualitatively different. This debate represented the two poles of Jewish belief about the messianic era. One view sees it in terms of normal human existence under conditions of Jewish political independence; the other as something wholly new that defies prediction.

During the messianic era, the Messiah will reign victorious and rebuild the Temple. He will restore the priesthood to the Temple, and the traditional sacrifices will be reinstated. The return to the golden age of the Jewish people will be complete. Many popular Jewish prayers express this messianic longing for the rebuilding of the Temple and above all for the return to Zion. Perhaps even more than the coming of the Messiah, traditional Judaism has sought this dream of the return to Zion.

The Jewish people will be complete. Many popular Jewish prayers express this messianic longing for the rebuilding of the Temple and above all for the return to Zion. Perhaps even more than the coming of the Messiah, traditional Judaism has sought this dream of the return to Zion.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Dr. David S. Ariel

Dr. David S. Ariel is head of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. He was previously president of Siegal College of Judaic Studies (formerly the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies). He is author of Spiritual Judaism: Restoring Heart and Soul to Jewish Life and The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism.