A SYNOPTIC VERSION OF PIRQE DE-RABBI ELIEZER §30 (END)

The translation of this passage below is based on a synoptic comparison of the final lines of Pirqe R. El. §30 which was prepared from the following four sources: (1) Hebrew Union College Ms. 75 fol. 44a-b, a manuscript of oriental pedigree stemming from the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries; (2) Hebrew Union College Ms. 2043 fol. 23b-24a, a nineteenth-century Yemenite manuscript; (3) the partial transcription of the passage from the 1544 Venice printed edition reproduced in Zunz-Albeck, Haderashot, 420 n.25; and (4) the version of Pirqe R. El. published by Michael Higger, itself based upon an earlier unpublished edition prepared by . M. Horowitz which relied upon three manuscripts (two Italian and one oriental) dating from the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries.

 

R. Ishmael said: The Ishmaelites will do fifteen things in the Land (of Israel) at the End of Days, to wit: They will measure the Land with ropes, and make cemeteries (places for) the lodging of flocks and (for) trash-heaps, and they will measure from them and by them on the mountains.  Deceit will increase, truth will be hidden, law will be distant from Israel, and transgressions will proliferate in Israel.  The ruling kingdom will withdraw coinage.  They will confuse scarlet-dye and worm, and paper and pen will decay.  They will refurbish the destroyed cities and clear the roads.  They will plant ‘gardens and orchards’ (Qoh 2:5), and repair the holes in the walls of the Temple.  They will build a structure at (the site of the) sanctuary.  Two brothers will arise over them as leaders.  In their days the Branch, the son of David, will arise, as scripture says: ‘and in the time of those kings the God of Heaven will establish a kingdom, etc.’ (Dan 2:44).

R. Ishmael also said: The Ishmaelites will fight three great battles on the earth at the End of Days, as scripture affirms: ‘for they fled from swords’ (Isa 21:15); the expression ‘swords’ refers to ‘battles.’  One (will be) in the forest—‘from the drawn sword’ (ibid.); one (will be) on the sea—‘from the drawn bow’ (ibid.); and one (will be) at the great city of Rome, which (will be) more fierce than the (preceding) two, as scripture states: ‘from the ferocity of battle’ (ibid.).  From there (i.e., Rome) the son of David will sprout up, and he will come to the Land of Israel and behold the destruction of both these and those, as scripture states: ‘Who is this who comes from Edom, red of garment from Bosra, this one majestic in his clothing etc.’ (Isa 63:1).

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