TEN SIGNS

 

This text was originally published by Michael Higger, Halakhot va-aggadot (New York: The Jewish Theological Seminary, 1933), 125-30 and then reprinted by Yehudah Even-Shmuel, Midreshey ge’ullah (2d ed.; Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1954), 315-17; see also his textual notes on p. 425.  A variant version of this work is attested in T-S A45.8 fol. 1, a photograph of which is published by Simon Hopkins, A Miscellany of Literary Pieces from the Cambridge Genizah Collections: A Catalogue and Selection of Texts in the Taylor-Schechter Collection, Old Series, Box A45 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Library, 1978), 16.  This fragment is translated separately below.  Note also the text entitled ‘Ten Signs’ found in the anthology Ma‘asiyot (Constantinople: Astruq de Toulon, 1519), 34a-35a.

 

Ten signs will transpire in the world prior to the End.

The first sign: the Holy One, blessed be He, will send three <angels> out in three directions in the world, and they will promulgate atheism. They will make themselves appear to human beings (as if) they serve Him, (but in fact they do not) and they will subjugate all creatures. But at the End of Days all the gentile nations will renounce their native religions, as it is written: ‘and the idols will be completely destroyed,’ and scripture states: ‘and the idols will totally vanish’ (Isa 2:18). (This will happen) because the Holy One, blessed be He, will manifest troubles in the world, each one different from the other.

The second sign: the Holy One, blessed be He, will make the sun emerge from its sheath. Every day He will scorch with it one million (people) from among the nations until all the nations begin weeping and saying: ‘Woe is us! Where will we go? To where might we flee?’ They will dig down (in) all the caverns in the earth in order to find a cool breeze for themselves, as scripture states: ‘they will enter rocky caves’ (Isa 2:19), and one will say to the other: ‘Go inside the rock! Hide yourself in the dirt!’ Malachi prophesied about that sun: ‘Behold, the day comes burning like an oven’ (Mal 3:19), but that sun will be medicinal for Israel, as it is said: ‘O those who revere My name, a sun of righteousness will rise for you, and it will heal (you) with its wings’ (Mal 3:20). Balaam the wicked (also) prophesied about those troubles and said: ‘Woe to whoever is alive when God brings it about!’ (Num 24:23).

The third sign: the Holy One, blessed be He, will rain a dew of blood for three days, but it will appear to the nations of the world to be a dew of water. They will drink of it and die. Moreover, (some) wicked ones among Israel will also drink of it and die, whereas others who are wavering (in their faith) will fall ill. The world will experience great distress during those three days, as scripture says: ‘I will place portents in the heavens and on earth: blood, fire, and columns of smoke’ (Joel 3:3).

The fourth sign: the Holy One, blessed be He, will rain a dew of healing for three days and three nights—in order to counteract the effects of the blood—and all those who were wavering will drink of it, and those who had become ill will be cured, as scripture states: ‘I will be like dew for Israel; he will bloom like the lily’ (Hos 14:6).

The fifth sign: a ruler shall arise in Rome, and he will devastate large areas. He will capture Egypt, as scripture affirms: ‘he will stretch his hand out against the north’ (Zeph 2:13). He will turn his anger upon Israel, laying a heavy tax upon them, and he will seek to make them perish from the world, as scripture states: ‘he will turn his face(s) toward the strongholds of his land’ (Dan 11:19): (the term ‘strongholds’ signifies those among Israel who are strong among the nations, and ‘his face(s)’ signifies his anger and his wrath which he will direct against them.

The sixth sign: the Holy One, blessed be He, will produce at that time the Messiah of the lineage of Joseph, whose name is Nehemiah ben Hushiel. He will be accompanied by warriors ‘from the descendants of Zerah the son of Judah’ (cf. Neh 11:24). He will come with all the forces of Israel who are in those places and fight a battle with the king of Edom and those rulers allied with him. He will kill the king of Edom and the remainder (of the latter’s army) will flee. He will approach Jerusalem and capture it, and all Israel will hear (of this) and gather themselves to him. The king of Egypt will conclude a peace treaty with him. He will kill all the nations who are in the environment of Jerusalem: all the (remaining) nations will hear (of this), and a great fear will overcome them.

The seventh sign: Armilos will emerge from that stone statue of a woman which is in Rome. They say about him that the stone will give birth to him. He will be twelve cubits tall (literally ‘long’) and two cubits wide, and there will be between his eyes a space equaling one span. He is the Messiah of the descendants of Esau. He will gather all the nations, and then say to the descendants of Esau: ‘Bring to me the Torah which I gave you ….’ All Israel will suddenly be confused, but Nehemiah b. Hushiel will arise, he and thirty warriors with weapons (concealed) beneath their garments, and they will take a Torah scroll and bring it to him (i.e., to Armilos). They will read out before him: ‘You shall have no other gods before Me!’ (Exod 20:3). He will say to them: ‘This is not (my Torah) at all!’ Nehemiah will say to him: ‘You are no deity, only Satan!’ He will quickly flee, but he (Armilos) will command his servants, (saying), ‘Seize him and hang him!’ (Nevertheless he will effect his escape) and fight a battle with him and kill a large number of them. Then the wrath of Armilos will intensify, and he will assemble all the nations and come to do battle with Israel ‘between the seas and the beautiful holy mountain’ (Dan 11:45). Israel will effect a great slaughter among them, but he (Armilos) will kill the Messiah, and when Israel perceives that the Messiah has been slain, their courage will melt away and they will flee. The world will experience great trouble. They will hide themselves for twenty-five days in caves and in pits, and the rest will lock themselves within Jerusalem. He (Armilos) will turn toward her (Jerusalem) to wage war and destroy it for the second time, but he will not succeed (in doing so).

The eighth sign: ‘at that time the great (angelic) leader Michael will arise’ (Dan 12:1), and at that time Elijah will come along with the Messiah of the lineage of David in order to fulfill what scripture has said: ‘he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to the fathers’ (Mal 3:24). The Messiah will not need to wage battle: he will only have to fix his eyes on Armilos in order to exterminate him from the world, as scripture states: ‘he will slay the wicked (one) with the breath of his mouth’ (Isa 11:4).

The ninth sign: the Messiah will request of the Holy One, blessed be He, that He resurrect the dead. The Messiah of the lineage of Joseph will be the first of all those who are brought back to life, and he will become the emissary of the Messiah of the lineage of David. He will send him into all the lands wherein Israel dwells, and they will be gathered together from every corner of the earth. Then he will send him beyond the rivers of Cush, and he will lead forth the (lost) ten tribes. He will also bring out the Temple vessels from Rome. (In) every place where the Messiah of the lineage of Joseph goes which contains Israelite dead, he will resurrect them and bring all of them with him, as scripture says: ‘behold, these will come from afar, [and behold, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene]’ (Isa 49:12).

The tenth sign: the coming of Gog and Magog, just as is described in the book of Ezekiel.

May the Holy One, blessed be He, grant us the privilege of seeing it! Amen, may it happen quickly during our lifetime! May His will be done! Amen!

*The following somewhat variant lines render T-S A45.8 fol. 1 based on the present author’s transcription of the photograph published by Hopkins, Miscellany, 16. The fragment commences toward the end of the sixth sign, beginning with the word yivrehu.

… they will flee before him (i.e., Nehemiah b. Hushiel). He will enter Egypt and capture it, and he will kill all the (gentile) nations in the vicinity of Jerusalem. All the nations will hear (about this), and fear and dread will fall upon them.

The seventh sign: Armilos the Satan will emerge from the stone statue that is in Rome. They say with regard to him that the stone will give birth to him. He will be twelve cubits long, and between his two eyes is (the distance of) a span. He is the Messiah of the party of Esau. He will assemble all the nations and say to them: ‘I am God,’ and all the nations will believe him. He will say to the party of Esau: ‘Bring me the Torah which I gave to you!’ Then they will bring him their book of lies, and he will assent, saying: ‘Truly this is what I gave to you!’ Israel will suddenly be confused, but Nehemiah b. Hushiel will come, he and thirty warriors accompanying him with weapons (concealed) beneath their garments, and they will take a Torah scroll and come to him and read aloud before him: ‘You shall have no other gods before Me!’ (Exod 20:3). He will say to them: ‘This is not (my Torah) at all!’ Nehemiah will say to him: ‘You are no deity, only Satan!’ Immediately he (Armilos) will cry out against him and say to his servants: ‘Seize him and hang him!’ He will do battle with them and kill many of them. Then the anger of Armilos will intensify, and he will gather all the nations and advance to make war on Israel ‘between the seas and the beautiful holy mountain’ (Dan 11:45). He will strike a great blow against Israel and will kill the Messiah. At that time the Holy One, blessed be He, will issue a command to the sun and it will at that time remain underground, and the world will be dark. Israel will experience great distress. When Israel sees that the Messiah is dead, their courage will fail and they will run away, and the world will experience extremely great distress. Israel will conceal themselves in caves for forty-five days, sustaining themselves (during that time) on weeds. Why was Armilos given the power to kill the Messiah of the lineage of Ephraim? It was done so as to break the hearts of those dissidents among Israel who said: ‘The Messiah for whom we were waiting has come and been killed. There is no longer any redemption for us in the wilderness.’ Many of these will immediately commit apostasy and become joined with the gentile nations. But the gentile nations will slay them nevertheless, as scripture foresees: ‘they will kill with the sword all of those among My people who commit sin’ (Am 9:10).

The eighth sign: ‘at that time the great (angelic) leader Michael will arise’ (Dan 12:1), and at that time Elijah will come along with the Messiah of the lineage of David in order to fulfill what scripture has said: ‘he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to the fathers’ (Mal 3:24). The Messiah will not need to wage battle: he will only have to fix his eyes on Armilos in order to exterminate him from the world, as scripture states: ‘he will slay the wicked (one) with the breath of his mouth’ (Isa 11:4).

The ninth sign: the Messiah will request of the Holy One, blessed be He, that He resurrect the dead, and the Messiah of the lineage of Joseph will be resurrected first. (end of fragment)

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