As mentioned at the very beginning of this study, Chapter 20 concerns the 1000-year messianic kingdom. It is short and narrow in scope, with emphasis on judgment and resurrection. (i.e., there is no mention of the millennial temple, the ingathering of exiled Israel, and other typically-discussed themes.) The Millennium is a peculiar time in the history of Israel and the world.
There are sources that speak to the idea of things mostly remaining the same on earth, other than Israel no longer being subject to the nations. This may be true at one level, however as we shall see, there are many unusual features of this period. some of which seem to be precursors to the Olam Haba (World to Come) discussed in chapters 21 and 22.
As the regular weekly Sabbath is a “pleasant hint” at the future world, how much more might we expect of the 7th Millennium?
Shabbat is one-sixtieth of the Olam Haba
Talmud, Berachot 57b
One thing that is certain is this is the final stage of the rectification of creation. The role of Mashiach is significant and extends to the lowest of the klippot, as the soul of Mashiach emanates from the highest level:
Keter actually has two levels, a lower level corresponding to Arikh Anpin and an upper level, the intellect of Arikh Anpin, which corresponds to Atik (“The Ancient One”), Atik Yomin (“The Ancient of Days”), Atika Kadisha (“The Holy Ancient One”). … The connection between Mashiach and Atik is learned from Daniel’s vision: “A man came and he approached (the level of) the Ancient of Days..” Rashi explains that this refers to Mashiach, who will administer justice to the entire world. … Atik thus transcends anything we can conceive … at this level, there is neither past nor future. Everything is in the present. And, as we have seen, every part of Creation, from the first constriction to the lowest level of Asiyah, is contained within the Keter Atik. Thus, Atik includes all time and space – yet transcends it all. The soul of Mashiach “resides” within Atik, and it is from this level that all his powers will be drawn. And, since he transcends time and space, Mashiach can transcend every transgression ever done, he can bring each person to a state prior to his having sinned. This is because, in Keter, God overrides the rules that He set up for all the Sefirot and their interaction between each other and man. With the power inherent in this exalted level, Mashiach will be able to bring the world to a state of perfection.
Mashiach – Who? What? Why? How? Where? When? Chaim Kramer, pp. 208-209
“For the intensity of the descent is determined by the potential for ascent — “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
Mashiach – Who? What? Why? How? Where? When? Chaim Kramer, p. 185
This corresponds to the following verse from the New Testament:
“Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.”
1., Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
The “pit” would seem to be referencing “gehenna” (gehinnom) which is described in similar fashion:
R. Judah b. Simon quoted: And He revealeth the deep and secret things-mesatratha (Daniel 2:22). ‘ The deep things’ are the Gehenna, as it is written, But he knoweth not that the shades are there; that in the depths of the nether world are her guests (Proverbs 9:18). ’And secret things’ refers to the garden of Eden, as it is written, And for a refuge and for a covert (le-mistor), etc. (Isaiah 4:6).
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis I:6
R. Levi said: It [Scripture] gives a simile for the righteous in their dwelling, and for the wicked in their dwelling. The righteous in their dwelling: I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be (Ezekiel 34:14)- The wicked in their dwelling: In the day when he went down to the netherworld I caused the deep to mourn and cover itself for him (ib. 32:15). R. Judah said: Hobalti (I brought) is written: a lid for a vat is made not of gold or silver but of earthenware, which is the selfsame material. Thus the wicked are darkness, Gehenna is darkness, and the deep is darkness: hence I brought the wicked to Gehenna and covered them with the deep: let darkness cover darkness.
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 33:1
So the Holy Spirit said through Solomon, ‘For a harlot is a deep ditch.’ Why did he call her ‘ditch’ (shuhah)’? In allusion to the text, For her house sinketh down (shahah) unto death (Proverbs 2:18). ‘Deep’? This recalls the text, Her guests are in the depths of the nether-world (ib. 9:18). ‘A harlot’? This refers to a married woman. ‘A narrow pit ‘? Because she brings the adulterer down into Gehenna. Hence it is written, Her steps take hold on the nether-world (ib. 5:5), and the nether-world is called ‘pit’; for it is written, O Lord, Thou broughtest up my soul from the netherworld; Thou didst keep me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (Psalm 30:4). Why has it been said that ‘ narrow’ alludes to Gehenna? Because it is broad underneath and has a narrow opening on top.1 Hence it is written, Yea, if one hath allured thee from a narrow opening into a broad place, where there is no straitness (Job 36:16).
Midrash Rabbah, Numbers 10:2
What is [the difference] between the disciples of Abraham, our father, and the disciples of Balaam, the wicked. The disciples of Abraham, our father, enjoy [their share] in this world, and inherit the world to come, as it is said: that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance and that I may fill their treasuries, but the disciples of Balaam, the wicked, inherit gehinnom, and descend into the nethermost pit, as it is said: but thou, o God, wilt bring them down to the nethermost pit; men of blood and deceit shall not live out half their days; but as for me, I will trust in thee.
Mishna, Avoth Chapter 5
And whosoever causes the community to sin, no opportunity will be granted him for repentance’, lest he be in Gan Eden and his disciples in Gehinnom, as it is said: A man, that is laden with the blood of any person shall hasten his steps unto the pit; none will help him.
Talmud, Yoma 87a
EVEN THE TABERNACLE OF THE TESTIMONY. What is the meaning of TESTIMONY?–It means the Torah, in which they toil. God said: ‘I will deliver you from Gehinnom for the sake of the Torah [you study], and the sacrifices [you bring].’ To our patriarch Abraham did God also show the Torah and Gehinnom, the sacrifices and the various captivities, for it is said, And… behold a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch that passed between the pieces (Genesis 15:17). This refers to the Torah and Gehinnom, for it says, And all the people perceived the thundering, and the lightning, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off (Exodus 20:15).
Midrash Rabbah, Exodus 51:7
Gehenna would also seem to be an abode of other dark entities:
Then follows the third standard to the north. It had for its ensign Ox and was accompanied by the angel Gabriel and his two chieftains, Kafziel and Hizkiel. The Ox, being of the left side, has horns between his two eyes, which flame as it were with burning fire; he gores and tramples with his feet ruthlessly. When he moos there emerge out of the hollow of the great abyss numerous spirits of wrath who proceed in front in a chorus of shrieking. Seven fiery rivers flow in front of him, and when thirsty he draws up a whole riverful at one gulp.
Zohar, Bemidbar 154b
The Zohar also describes “Duma,” who is assigned as “guardian” over Gehenna:
R. Judah said in the name of R. Isaac: ‘Why did the Egyptians so desire to prevent Israel from multiplying, and what motive prompted their supernal representative to put such a desire into their hearts? Because he knew and made known to them that a son would be born to the Israelites through whom judgment should be brought upon the gods of Egypt; for, according to R. Johanan, when Moses said that God “will exercise judgment against all the gods of Egypt” (Exodus 22:12), Duma, the celestial Prince of Egypt, ran away four hundred parasangs, and the Holy One said to him: “It is My decree!” In that hour his power and his dominion were taken from him, and he was banished, instead, to the lower regions and appointed over the realms of Gehenna, as judge of the souls of the wicked.’
Zohar, Shemoth 18a
2. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
The Zohar also speaks of certain unruly angels being ‘chained’
R. Jose further asked him: In which place and from whom did Balaam derive all his magical practices and knowledge? R. Isaac replied: He learned it first from his father, but it was in the “mountains of the East”, which are in an eastern country, that he obtained a mastery of all the arts of magic and divination. For those mountains are the abode of the angels Uzza and Azael whom the Holy One cast down from heaven, and who were chained there in iron fetters.
In this verse, we see related manifestations of the evil realm. The dragon presents as; “the serpent,” “the devil” and “Satan.” There exist other related concepts such as; the archangel Samael (meaning ‘poison-god,’ who is also called the angel of Esau), the Sitra Achra (“other side” or “evil realm”), the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination in humans), and ‘shedim’ – the equivalent of ‘demons.’
The relationship between humans and demons (that relates to both being occupants of Gehenna) is found in the following text, which indicates how the latter are actually attracted (or even created) by our activity. Note also the reference to the “mountains of the east” as the source of such. Kabbalistically, just as “east” is the “heavenly direction” (toward Keter/Crown) so too for the mirror image of the Sitra Achra. Lastly, the idea of such entities being “chained” is also seen in this text:
R. Isaac and R. Jose were walking from Tiberias to Lud. Said R. Isaac: ‘I marvel at the wicked Balaam, how all his actions proceeded from the side of impurity. We here learn the mystical lesson that all species of witchcraft are linked up with, and proceed from, the primeval serpent who is the foul and unclean spirit. Hence all sorceries are called n’hashim (lit. serpents). And whoever becomes addicted to them pollutes himself, nay more, he has first to become polluted in order to attract to himself the side of the unclean spirit. For it is a dictum of our teachers that corresponding to the impulses of a man here are the influences which he attracts to himself from above. Should his impulse be towards holiness, he attracts to himself holiness from on high and so he becomes holy; but if his tendency is towards the side of impurity, he draws down towards himself the unclean spirit and so becomes polluted. For this reason, in order to draw towards himself the unclean spirit from that supernal serpent, the wicked Balaam besmirched himself nightly by bestial intercourse with his ass, and he would then proceed to his divinations and sorceries. To begin with, he would take one of the familiar serpents, tie it up, break its head, and extract its tongue. Then he would take certain herbs, and burn them as incense. He would then take the head of the serpent, split it into four sections, and offer it up as a second offering. Finally, he traced a circle round himself, mumbled some words, and made some gestures, until he became possessed of the unclean spirits, who told him all that they knew from the side of the heavenly dragon; and he thus continued his magical practices until he became possessed of the spirit of the primeval serpent. It is thus that we understand the passage, “he went not, as at the other times, to meet with n’hashim” (enchantments, lit. serpents) (Numbers 24:1).’ Said R. Jose: ‘Why is it that many kinds of magic and divination are only found in women?’ R. Isaac replied: ‘Thus I have learned, that when the serpent had intercourse with Eve he injected defilement into her but not into her husband.’ R. Jose then went up to R. Isaac and kissed him, saying, ‘Many a time have I asked this question, but not until now have I received a real answer.’ R. Jose further asked him:‘In which place and from whom did Balaam derive all his magical practices and knowledge?’ R. Isaac replied: ‘He learned it first from his father, but it was in the “mountains of the East”, which are in an eastern country, that he obtained a mastery of all the arts of magic and divination. For those mountains are the abode of the angels Uzza and Azael whom the Holy One cast down from heaven, and who were chained there in iron fetters. It is they who impart to the sons of men a knowledge of magic. Hence the Scripture says: “From Aram Balak bringeth me, the King of Moab, from the mountains of the East” (Numbers 23:7).’ ‘But,’ said R. Jose, ‘is it not written, “and he went not as at the other times to meet with enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness” (ibid. 24:1)?’ Said R. Isaac to him: ‘The lower side, which comes from the unclean spirit above, was the unclean spirit prevailing in the wilderness when Israel made the calf in order to defile themselves therewith; and Balaam tried every device of magic to uproot Israel, but without success.’
Zohar, Bereshith 125b-126a
The following texts present “Satan” as not only the accuser, but also one active in tempting men and angels:
AND THE LORD REMEMBERED SARAH AS HE HAD SAID, ETC. R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: And he showed me Joshua the High priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him (Zechariah 3:1). ‘This verse,’ he said, ‘must be carefully pondered. “Joshua the high priest” is Joshua the son of Jehozedek; “the angel of the Lord” before whom he was standing is the region of the “bundle of the souls” of the righteous, which is known as “the angel of the Lord”; “Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him” is the evil tempter who roams to and fro through the world to snatch up souls and to lure beings to perdition, angels as well as human beings. … So whenever the Holy One sits on the Throne of Judgement to judge the world, Satan, the seducer of men and angels, is at hand to do mischief and to snatch up souls.’ For from the day that the evil serpent, having enticed Adam, obtained dominion over man and over the world, he has ever been at work seducing people from the right path, nor will the world cease to suffer from his machinations until the Messiah shall come.
Zohar, Bereshith 113a-114a
This resembles an idea presented in another New Testament verse:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. (Also see verse 8 regarding Satan ‘devouring.’)
1 Peter 5:8
The following text shows a ‘collaboration’ between the entities referred to as “the serpent,” “Samael” and “Satan,” in the temptation of Chava (Eve) in Gan Edan. Note also the relationship between Adam (the “first tree”) and Jacob, who is the “second tree” and messianic figure. The extent of the power of Samael is seen in its source being “Wisdom”:
AND THE SERPENT. R. Isaac said: ‘This is the evil tempter’. R. Judah said that it means literally a serpent. They consulted R. Simeon, and he said to them: ‘Both are correct. It was Samael, and he appeared on a serpent, for the ideal form of the serpent is the Satan. We have learnt that at that moment Samael came down from heaven riding on this serpent, and all creatures saw his form and fled before him. They then entered into conversation with the woman, and the two brought death into the world. Of a surety Samael brought curses on the world through Wisdom and destroyed the first tree that God had created in the world. This responsibility rested on Samael until another holy tree came, namely Jacob, who wrested the blessings from him, in order that Samael might not be blessed above and Esau below. For Jacob was the reproduction of Adam, and he had the same beauty as Adam. Therefore as Samael withheld blessings from the first tree, so Jacob, who was such another tree as Adam, withheld blessings, both upper and lower, from Samael; and in doing so Jacob but took back his own. It is written: AND THE SERPENT WAS SUBTLE. This serpent is the evil tempter and the angel of death. It is because the serpent is the angel of death that it brought death to the world.’
Zohar, Bereshith, 35b
This relationship between a “first and later Adam,” is mentioned elsewhere in the NT. (Also see chapter 21 notes on the relationship between the actions of mashiach and the Olam Haba.)
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive.
1Corinthians 15: 21-22
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
3. and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
This text indicates the end of the evil realm’s activities as coinciding with the coming of Messiah:
Hence here also it is written, “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan,” and not: “Behold, I rebuke thee.” So whenever the Holy One sits on the Throne of Judgment to judge the world, Satan, the seducer of men and angels, is at hand to do mischief and to snatch up souls.’ For from the day that the evil serpent, having enticed Adam, obtained dominion over man and over the world, he has ever been at work seducing people from the right path, nor will the world cease to suffer from his machinations until the Messiah shall come, when the Holy One will raise to life those who sleep in the dust in accordance with the verse, “He will swallow up death forever, etc.” (Isaiah 25:8), and the verse, “And I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (Zechariah 13:2). Meanwhile, Satan dominates this world and snatches up the souls of the sons of men.
Zohar, Bereshith 113b-114a
The Zohar speaks of the serpent having a seven (thousand) year lifespan, coinciding with the duration of the current “physical realm.”
The Serpent is destined in the future to bring about the birth of the whole of the bodies before its own time comes, as Scripture says: “Before she travailed, she brought forth” (Isaiah 66:7). For, whereas the period of the serpent’s gestation is seven years, that will be at the end of six. And at that hour, when he will have brought about their birth, he himself will die. Of this, Scripture says: “He will swallow up death for ever” (Ibid. 25:8), also “Thy dead shall live, my dead bodies shall arise” (Ibid. 26:19).
Zohar, Shemoth 220a
In order for the messianic kingdom to thrive, the evil realm must be “out of the way.” (Similar to how at Yom Kippur a goat was sent to Azazel to “distract” him on this one day, so God could deal directly with Israel without “accusation”). We find this idea present in various texts:
R. Kattina said: Six thousand years shall the world exist, and one [thousand, the seventh], it shall be desolate, as it is written, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. Abaye said: it will be desolate two [thousand], as it is said, After two days will he revive us: in the third day, he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. It has been taught in accordance with R. Kattina: Just as the seventh year is one year of release in seven, so is the world: one thousand years out of seven shall be fallow, as it is written, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day,’ and it is further said, A Psalm and song for the Sabbath day, meaning the day that is altogether Sabbath — and it is also said, For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past.
Talmud, Sanhedrin 97a
God then said to Moses: ‘ In this world they made idols because of the Evil Inclination in them, but in the millennium I will uproot from them the Evil Inclination and give them a heart of flesh, as it says, And I will take away the stony heart from out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 26:26).
Midrash Rabbah, Exodus 41:7
The Zohar expresses this time (when the Bride is united to the King) as done “in secret:”
The Day of the Holy One, blessed be He, is a thousand years, and this number symbolizes also the River which goes out of Eden. Joseph was called “Righteous” after the Moon, the Shekinah, according to a special agreement between her and the Holy One. Therefore, the Song of Songs is holy of holies, and there is no verse in this Canticle which does not contain the mystery of the “thousand and five”. There are five grades contained in the title, as we have said. But why is the “thousand” not indicated? The truth is that this is hidden and will remain hidden until the Wife (the Shekinah) unites Herself with her Husband. Therefore Solomon endeavoured to bring that “Thousand” to the Bride in secret, by the aid of the mysterious ring whereon is engraved the seal of the supernal wisdom (cf. Targum on Ecclesiastes 1:7). As soon as he had completed the making of the Holy of Holies below, the mystery of the Holy of Holies above ascended and was hidden, so that the concealment of the Union might be complete above and below, according to the Divine purpose.
Zohar, Shemoth 145b
The following Midrash indicates that the Millennium is also a specific time of judgment for the nations and purification for the sinful of Israel:
AND THE LORD GOD SAID UNTO THE SERPENT: BECAUSE THOU HAST DONE THIS, CURSED ART THOU FROM AMONG ALL CATTLE, etc. (3:14). A slanderer shall not be established in the earth; the violent and wicked man shall be hunted with thrust upon thrust (Psalm 140:12). R. Levi said: In the millennium the Holy One, blessed be He, will take the nations of the world and hurl them down into Gehenna, saying to them, ‘ Why did ye mulct My children? ‘ and they will answer Him: ‘ Some of them were much addicted to slander.’ Then the Lord will take both and hurl them into Gehenna. Another interpretation: ‘A slanderer’ alludes to the serpent, who uttered slander against his Creator ;’Shall not be established in the earth,’ as it is written, Upon thy belly shalt thou go; ‘The violent and wicked man shall be hunted’: not ‘ With a thrust’ is written, but ‘ With thrust upon thrust ‘: Adam was cursed, Eve was cursed, and the serpent was cursed, as it is written, AND THE LORD GOD SAID UNTO THE SERPENT, etc
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 20:1
4. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Yeshua and for the word of G-d, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years.
The Zohar speaks on the subject of the righteous sitting in judgment:
R. Jesse then discoursed on the verse: He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous; but with kings upon the throne he setteth them for ever, and they are exalted (Job 36:7). ‘When’, he said, ‘the domination of the wicked ceases and they perish from the world, then the righteous obtain dominion, as it says: “He preserveth not the life of the wicked, but giveth to the poor their right” (Ibid. 6). The words, “He withdraweth not from the righteous his eye” are parallel to the text, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous” (Psalm 34:16). “But with kings upon the throne”; these are the kings who are, as it were, united to their thrones, and whom He setteth for ever so that they remain immovably established. “And they are exalted”, to wit, to rule over the world so that the throne remains firmly established on its supports. Or, again, it may mean that they raise the throne and set it up on high so that it should become united to its proper place and there should thus be a complete unity.’
Zohar, Bereshith 164a
Midrash Rabbah offers the following:
The Holy One, blessed be He, will in the Time to Come sit as in a goren (court-room), with the righteous sitting before Him, like that [goren mentioned in the verse], Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne, arrayed in their robes, in a threshing floor–goren (I Kings 22:10). Were they then sitting in a threshing-floor? Surely, what is intended is the same as what we have learnt in a Mishnah: The Sanhedrin were seated in the formation of a semicircular goren, so that they [i.e. the members of the court] could see one another. [King] Solomon said: I saw Him [as it were] confined in the midst of them; this is [indicated in] what is written, Her master is known in the gates, as He sitteth with the elders of the land (Proverbs 31:23).
Midrash Rabbah, Leviticus 11:8
The concept of “divine service” is well established in Torah. There is also the idea that the service performed in the last generation immediately preceding the coming of Messiah, that which helps usher in the redemption, is of a “higher order.” Linked to the service at this time is the idea of “loving G-d to the point of self-sacrifice.”
The following explains this important concept in detail:
The transcendence of all limitations that will characterize the Era of the Redemption will be all-encompassing. Therefore, all entities will exist on an infinitely higher plane during that era than they exist at present. This will affect both the world at large as well as the realm of Torah. With regard to the world, there will then be a “new heaven and a new earth.” (Isaiah 65:17) With regard to the Torah [the medium through which the world was created – “He gazed into Torah and created the world” Zohar II, beginning of 161b)], “new [dimensions of] the Torah will emerge from Me” (Vayikra Rabba 13:3). This also applies to the revelation of G-dliness. In the Era of the Redemption, there will be an entirely new degree of revelation, infinitely higher than the present. All revelations of the present era have their source in the external level of Atik while in the Era of the Redemption, the revelation will stem from the inner dimension of Atik On this basis, we can understand why the Future Redemption will come about primarily through the divine service performed during the concluding period of the exile. Since all matters in the Era of the Redemption will be of an entirely new nature, the divine service that draws them down must be a new form of service as well.
In the time of the Holy Temple, G-dliness was revealed, as is written: “Ten miracles were wrought for our ancestors in the Holy Temple,” (Avot 5:5). There were miracles apparent to the naked eye, many of them beheld even by the common people. Therefore, the divine service of Torah and its mitzvot was an outgrowth of man’s ordinary thinking processes. In addition, there was the command (Deut. 6:5) of “You shall love…your G-d, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might,” [and as explained in Chassidut, “with all your might” refers to an unbounded commitment, to the point of mesirut nefesh, “complete self-sacrifice”]. Nevertheless, since G-dliness was palpably revealed, even the self-sacrifice that existed in that era could be limited by man’s ordinary thinking processes. This concept holds true as well with regard to those periods of exile when the darkness of unholiness was not that overwhelming.
This is not the case in the present generation, the generation that immediately precedes Mashiach’s arrival. For at present, the forces of darkness increase daily, and there are many challenges that have to be overcome – in particular, the challenge of “Do not be embarrassed by those who scoff” (Shulkan Aruch, Rama) This challenge is made especially difficult to bear by the fact that these scoffers are base and ignoble individuals. The ability to overcome these challenges stems from the divine service of self-sacrifice that transcends all limitations and bounds. This is why the divine service of the generation that immediately precedes Mashiach’s arrival contains a certain dimension of superiority over the divine service accomplished by the Jewish people in previous generations. In addition, the divine service within this generation at the very conclusion of the period of exile has an incomparable advantage. It is so radically different that it is considered a new kind of divine service. For the divine service in previous generations was related to reason and logic and the limitations of our revealed soul powers. The divine service at the conclusion of the period of exile, by contrast, reflects self-sacrifice, which emanates from the innermost level of the soul.
Through our divine service in the time of exile in general, and especially through our service at the very end of the exile (at which time the service is from the innermost degree of the soul), we draw down influence from the innermost level Above, including the inner dimension of Atik. This will evoke a new dimension within the Torah as well. The concept of “new dimensions of the Torah will emerge from Me”) will be demonstrated by a new approach to the Torah emphasizing the connection to the Giver of Torah. (It is possible to explain that this aspect, as well, is accomplished through the divine service at the conclusion of the exile. For when the service is in a manner of self-sacrifice, then one’s Torah study is lishmah, for its own sake.) The new dimension of Torah study will in turn lead to an innovation in creation, as well (for “He gazed into Torah and created the world”), bringing about “a new heaven and a new earth.” May it be G-d’s will that this occur most speedily; that our present deeds and divine service hasten the time when we will greet our Righteous Mashiach. And then, we will witness the actual fulfillment of the prophecy: “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.”
Kimei Tzeischa Mei’eretz Mitzrayim – Part I, https://www.chabad.org/therebbe/article_cdo/aid/145218/jewish/Part-I.htm
The Zohar states the following regarding those who enter the Millennium:
Happy are those who will be left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter on the Sabbath. For that is the day set apart by the Holy One on which to effect the union of souls and to cull new souls to join those that are still on earth, as it is written, And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written unto life in Jerusalem (Isaiah 4:3).
Zohar, Bereshith, 119a
There is an intimate connection between Mashiach and the righteous in the world that together relates to the rectification of all creation:
“The main guarantor is the soul of Mashiach, which is the collective soul of all tzaddikim throughout the generations. Mashiach will complete all rectifications (tikkunim) and fix all the damage that was incurred throughout history. This is why Mashiach suffers on behalf of all Israel—because he serves as guarantor for them all. Therefore, Dovid HaMelekh, who was the Mashiach, entreats God, “Be surety for Your servant for good…” (Psalms 119:122). That is, [he declares before God,] “Behold, I have been made a guarantor on behalf of all [at the beginning of the Divine plan, prior to creation]. And no one can stand up to help me fulfill my obligation but You alone!” Thus, he entreats, “Be surety for Your servant for good.”
Likutey Halakhos, Arev 4:3,4
In freeing the captive secrets from dominion of the husks they (those with faith in G-d) would also liberate the soul of the Mashiach and help him to complete the Redemption, ‘for the Mashiach is called tzadik [‘righteous’], as in the allusion in Scripture: “he is righteous and saved” (Zech.9:9), and those who hold fast to his strength are called tzadikim.’”
Messianic Mysticism, Isaiah Tishby, pp. 70,71
This ties back to a concept introduced in chapter 1 of this study:
The concept of Mashiach ben Yoseph functions on three levels: meta-historical, the actual personality of Mashiach ben Yoseph, and any individual who contributes to the messianic process.
The Secret Doctrine of the Gaon of Vilna – Volume I, Rabbi Joel David Bakst, City of Luz Publications, 2008, p. 152.
A particularly fascinating concept is the idea that aspects of the Olam Haba (see chapters 21 & 22) will be experienced in the Millenial Kingdom:
“We will then become familiar with and experience Ruach haKodesh [the Spirit of Holiness], the fire falling [from Heaven] on the sacrifices, and the closeness of the Holy Presence in the pillar of fire and the cloud, just as it had been during the Exodus from Egypt. After a time, with the intensification of our redemption and enlightenment, [we will see] the resurrection of the dead, and the descent of the [third] Temple… “…the righteous people…will be given special angel-like forms…and have no need for food or drink…a state of existence that will continue into Olam haBah.”
Rabbi Moshe Taku, “Ketav Tamim 40b,” as cited on http://kotzkblog.blogspot.com/2019/05/226-mashiach-natural-or-supernatural.html
5. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
This idea of two resurrections is found in Jewish thought:
Regarding the resurrection, Radvaz quotes his own teachers, as well as the Ritva and his teachers, as being of the opinion that there will be two resurrections. The first resurrection will take place with the coming of the Messiah for the truly righteous, the second resurrection will then occur at the end of the Messianic era just before the seventh millennium, at which time all the world will be judged. Those that survive will then enter the angelic state during the Shabbat Millennium, awaiting the World to Come. Rif (Ein Yaakov, San. 92, s.v. tzadikim) understands Rashi’s position to be that the righteous will be resurrected in the Messianic era and all others will be resurrected at the initiation of the World to Come (i.e., after the seventh millennium). Alternatively, explains Rif, Rashi’s position could be that all will be resurrected at the time of the Messiah, however the non-righteous will live and then die during that time, the righteous never dying. Then following the seventh millennium of destruction there will be a second general resurrection to bring back the non-righteous to take part in the eternal World to Come. The righteous, not having ever died, will await the World to Come in an angelic state, similar to Radvaz’s explanation. Rama’s position follows along the same lines as that of Rashi. Rama integrates the statement of the Gemara (San. 92b, San. 97b) that God will “renew” his world with the words of R. Katina, who states that “the world will be desolate for one thousand years”, and concludes that the renewal will take one thousand years during which the righteous will await their reward in a spiritual state.
One Thousand Years of Shabbat, Mois Navon, http://www.divreinavon.com/pdf/one_thousand_years_of_shabbat.pdf
The concept of two resurrections, with the first being ‘greater,’ is found in the discussion regarding performing mitzvoth during the seventh millennium:
“… there are several Torah sources which indicate that mitzvot will apply after the resurrection. Although the fact of the future resurrection is primarily described in the N’vi’im andK’tuvim, there are several allusions to it in the Torah itself (see Sanhedrin (90b ff.)). One of them is the fact that the Torah states we should give t’ruma to Aharon HaKohein. However, this is something that was never fulfilled since Aharon died in the Desert before the Jewish people entered the Land of Israel. Perforce, then, Aharon will be resurrected in the future, and we will then give him t’ruma. This indicates the applicability of mitzvot after the T’chiya. Furthermore, one opinion (Sanhedrin 92b) is that the resurrected dead of Yechezkel’s prophecy married and lived full lives and one Tanna even states that he has a pair of t’fillin from them! The simple implication is that they were obligated in mitzvot. [See also Kovetz Shiurim (Vol. 2, Siman 29).] In resolution of these contradictory sources, Radvaz (Responsa) and Ritva (Rosh HaShana 16b s.v. “shene’emar“) state that there will be two resurrections, one at the time of the redemption when mitzvot will most definitely apply. This is reserved for the exceptionally righteous giving them an opportunity to see the end of world history play out, the wicked destroyed, and the righteous rewarded. It will also give them a second chance at performing mitzvot to allow them even greater reward in Olam HaBa (see Sha’ar HaG’mul). The second T’chiya will be for all those who merit Eternity (both those alive then and those not) and will usher in the new world of Olam HaBa, the world of reward, some time after the Redemption, and hence, mitzvot will no longer apply.”
Pesach and T’chiyas HaMeisim, Rabbi Yaacov Haber https://www.torahweb.org/torah/2004/moadim/rhab_pesach.html
The Midrash Rabbah shows the relationship between living attaining the “Holy Spirit” and resurrection.
R. Phinehas b. Jair used to say: Zeal leads to cleanliness, cleanliness leads to purity ; purity leads to holiness; holiness leads to humility; humility leads to the fear of sin; the fear of sin leads to saintliness; saintliness leads to the holy spirit; the holy spirit leads to the resurrection of the dead; the resurrection of the dead leads to Elijah the prophet. ‘Zeal leads to cleanliness,’ as it says, And when he hath made an end of atoning for the holy place (Leviticus 16:20). ‘Cleanliness leads to purity’ (taharah), as it says, And the priest shall make atonement for her and she shall be pure-we-taherah (ib. 12:8). ‘ Purity leads to holiness,’ as it says, And he shall purify it, and hallow it (ib. 16:19). ‘Holiness leads to humility,’ as it says, For thus saith the High and Lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit (Isaiah 57:15). Humility leads to the fear of sin,’ as it says, The reward of humility is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 12:4). ‘ The fear of sin leads to saintliness,’ as it says, Then thou spokest in a vision to thy saints1 (Psalm 89:20). ‘ Saintliness leads to the holy spirit,’ as it says, ‘Then thou spokest in a vision to thy saints.’ ‘The holy spirit leads to the resurrection,’ as it says, And I will put My spirit in you and ye shall live (Ezekiel 37:14). ‘The resurrection leads to Elijah the prophet, of blessed memory,’ as it says, Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet, etc. (Malachi 3:23). R. Mathna said: That which wisdom has made a crown to her head, humility has made a shoe for her foot. ‘That which wisdom has made a crown for her head,’ as it says, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). ‘ Humility has made a shoe for her foot,’ as it is written, The fear of the Lord is the heel3 of humility (Proverbs 12:4). The resurrection will be through the agency of Elijah the prophet it is written, Then thou shalt understand the fear of God and find knowledge of the holy ones; this refers to the holy spirit.
Simon said in the name of R. Simeon b. Halafta: [Solomon resembled] a councillor who was a great favourite at the king’s court, and to whom the king once said, ‘Ask me for anything you want.’ Said the councillor to himself: If I ask for silver and gold, he will give me. Said he: I had better ask for the king’s daughter, and that includes everything. Even so, In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said: Ask what I shall give thee (I Kings 3:5). Said Solomon to himself: If I ask for silver and gold and precious stones and pearls, He will give me. But what I will do is to ask for wisdom, and that will include everything. So it says, Give thy servant therefore an understanding heart (ib. 9). Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: ‘Solomon, thou hast asked for wisdom and thou hast not asked for wealth and possessions and the life of thine enemies. As thou livest, wisdom and knowledge are granted to thee, and thereby I will give thee riches and possessions.’ Forthwith, Solomon awoke and, behold, it was a dream (ib. 15). R. Isaac said: [This means that] the dream stood upon its foundation.1 If an ass brayed, he knew what it meant; if a bird chirped, he knew what it meant. Straightway, he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord and offered up burnt offerings and offered peace-offerings and made a feast to all his servants (ib.). Said R. Eleazar: From this we learn that a feast is made to celebrate the conclusion of the reading of the Torah.2 R. Judan said: This is to show that whoever teaches the Torah publicly merits that the holy spirit should rest on him. For so did Solomon; he taught, and the holy spirit rested on him, and he composed three books, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and The Song of Songs.
Midrash Rabbah – The Song of Songs I:9
The Zohar connects “occupation with Torah,” with the first resurrection:
Now the soul of one who has laboured in the study of the Torah, when it leaves this world, ascends by the ways and paths of the Torah-ways and paths familiar to them. They who know the ways and paths of the Torah in this world follow them in the other world when they leave this world. But those who do not study the Torah in this world and know not its ways and paths, when they leave this world know not how to follow those ways and paths, and hence stumble therein. They thus follow other ways which are not the ways of the Torah, and are visited with many chastisements. Of him who devotes himself to the Torah, on the other hand, it is written: “When thou liest down, it shall watch over thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee” (Proverbs 6:22). When thou liest down”, to wit, in the grave, the Torah shall watch over thee against the judgement of the other world; “and when thou awakest”, that is, when the Holy One, blessed be He, will awake the spirits and souls so as to bring the dead to life again, it shall talk with thee, the Torah will speak in defence of the body, so that those bodies which laboured to keep the Torah as required will rise up. These it is who will be the first to rise up, and of whom it is written: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, etc.” (Daniel 12:2), for the reason that they occupied themselves with everlasting life, which is the Torah. Further, all the bodies of those who have devoted themselves to the Torah will be preserved, and the Torah will protect them, inasmuch as at that time the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise up a wind from all four quarters of the world, a wind specially prepared to bring to life all those who have laboured in the Torah so that they should live for ever. It may be asked here, what of the dead who were revived by the prophet’s invocation, “Come from the four winds, O breath” (Ezekiel 37:9), and who yet did not survive, but died a second time? The answer is that at that time, although the wind was compounded of all four winds, it did not come down to give them permanent life, but only to demonstrate the mode in which God will one day bring the dead to life, namely, by a wind formed in this fashion. So that although those who were then resurrected turned again into bones, since their resurrection was only meant as a proof to the world that God will one day raise the dead to life, we may still believe that at the proper time the righteous will be resurrected for an everlasting life. For the Torah itself will stand by each one of those who have occupied themselves in the study of the Torah, recounting his merits before the Almighty.’ R. Simeon said: ‘All the words of the Torah, and all the doctrine of the Torah to which a man devotes his mind in this world, are ever before the Almighty, and at that time the Torah will recount how the man devoted himself to the Torah in this world, and thereat such men will all rise for everlasting life, as we said already.’ Thus, “the ways of the Lord are right, and the just do walk in them; but transgressors do stumble therein.”
Zohar, Bereshith 175b,176a
Some other interesting views:
Rashi explains R. Katina’s use of the word “mushmat” to mean that the world will be destroyed31 and that the destruction will be for a full one thousand years. The Gemara elsewhere (San. 92a) states that the righteous are to be resurrected at the time of the Messiah, never to return to dust, and while the world will indeed go through a thousand years of destruction as part of its “renewal” to initiate the World to Come, this does not pose a problem for the resurrected who await the renewed world – for “the Lord will make them wings like eagles and they will fly above the water.” Concerning the state of the righteous during this seventh millennium, Rashi (San. 92b, s.v., yahlifu koah) interprets the notion of “wings” to mean that the resurrected will “float and fly without pain.” Radvaz (Responsa 2:839) explains Rashi, and indeed the Gemara, to be speaking figuratively – “wings” being a metaphor for lightness and ease of movement – meaning that the righteous will enter a purified state of being. Interestingly, both Rashi (San. 92a, s.v. l’achar sh’yihyu) and Radvaz explain that while the righteous await the World to Come, “their flesh will remain upon them” – which implies, similar to Ramban’s opinion, that the people in the World to Come will have bodies, though they won’t eat and drink. Radvaz likens this state to that of the “ministering angels”.
One Thousand Years of Shabbat, Mois Navon, http://www.divreinavon.com/pdf/one_thousand_years_of_shabbat.pdf
6. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of G-d and of Messiah, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
This is the only reference (an indirect one at that) to the Millennial Temple. The description of this Temple, as found in Ezekiel chapters 40-48, gives us the most information about events surrounding the Temple and Priesthood at this time. The pre-eminent text on this subject is Mishkney Elyon, (also called Secrets of the Future Temple)which is available free of charge from www.azamra.org. Another key resource on the topic of resurrection as it relates to Messiah is The Messiah Texts by Raphael Patai – now in reprint and available through most online book sites.
The Zohar speaks of a “garment” given to those whom are claimed by God at the time of the resurrection. (See previous studies on the idea of a “garment for the soul.”) As mentioned, this is the time of the union of the “bride” (associated with the number 7) and the “groom” (associated with the number 6). Interestingly, the garment itself is given the specific God-name of “Eloah” which has a numerical value of 42:
And after some time the Holy One takes into His own guardianship the soul, and the evil power attains mastery over the body. But eventually body and soul become the possession of the Holy One (in the Resurrection). ‘ “She shall not go out as the menservants do.” What does this mean? When the soul emerges from the scales, and the side of righteousness rejoices, the Holy One, blessed be He, stamps upon her the impress of a seal; and He likewise spreads about her His costly garment-namely the Holy Name Elohah. This is indicated by the words in the text, “be-bigdo bah” (when his garment is upon her, v. 8), for they signify the costly garment (beged ) of the King. Therewith she is guarded and so cannot be delivered to a “strange nation”, but only to Israel. Concerning this it is written: “He guards me like the days of Elohah” (Job 29:2). It is also of this mystery that we read here: “To sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath put his garment upon her.” As long as this costly garment of the King adorns her, what power can the evil side have over her?
Zohar, Shemoth, 96b
What is also interesting is the relationship between the death and the destruction of the Temple and the ife of a tzaddik and its function, as the book of Revelation, and New Testament in general, connect the resurrection of Yeshua to the coming Temple:
“The Talmud discusses the following verse from the Torah: “You should attach yourself to Him, [i.e., to G-d],” and asks, “How can one attach oneself to G-d? G-d is compared to fire, so how can you attach yourself to fire?” It is explained there that the way to become connected to G-d is by attaching and connecting oneself to a tzaddik. Connecting to a tzaddik is neither “un-Jewish” nor a spiritual luxury for a select group of truth seekers; on the contrary, it is the only method prescribed by the Torah to become truly connected to G-d. This idea — commonly thought to be the exclusive domain of chassidic teachings and practice — is a basic principle outlined in the Talmud, the ultimate authority of Jewish law. Nevertheless, the question still remains: Why should a Jew place so much importance on a human being of flesh and blood? Why should such a large part of his Jewish practice focus on being connected to a tzaddik? Why not just focus directly on G-d? … This can be explained with a powerful statement from the Talmud which states that the passing of a tzaddik is equivalent to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash: The fast of the fifth (month) refers to Tishah B’Av, for on that date the house of our G-d was burned. The fast of the seventh (month) refers to the third of Tishrei, for on that date, Gedaliah Ben Achikam was assassinated…. The [latter] day is included here to teach you that the death of the righteous is equivalent to the burning of the house of our G-d. It is an obvious deduction that if the passing of a tzaddik is like the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, then the life of the tzaddik must also be similar to the purpose and function of the Beis HaMikdash.”
“A Tzaddik and His Students: The Rebbe-Chassid Relationship,” Rabbi Shloma Majeski, p. 37.
7. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison
The number seven has to do with the complete and full expression of something within creation. Satan’s “reappearance” at the end of the seventh Millennium is part of a sequence of events that must unfold, prior to the Olam Haba.
8. and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.
The following texts describe Satan as not only the “accusing angel” but also the one who comes to lead astray.
The “Satan” is he who has charge of the souls in Gehinnom, who ever craves for more and says “give, give”, more souls to Gehinnom. Then, “The Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, Satan, and the Lord rebuke thee….” Why two rebukes here? One for Dumah and one for him who comes out of Gehinnom to lead astray. That higher Satan, as we have stated elsewhere, goes down to earth in the form of an ox, and all those wicked spirits which have been condemned to Gehinnom he licks up in one moment and hands over to Dumah after he has swallowed them.
Zohar, Bemidbar 186a
“whenever the Holy One sits on the Throne of Judgment to judge the world, Satan, the seducer of men and angels, is at hand to do mischief and to snatch up souls.”
Zohar, Bereshith 113b-114a
Interestingly, the name given to the “unclean spirit” coming from (and returning to) the great abyss is, “the end of all flesh.” The Zohar states that there was once a time when the Shekinah (Holy Spirit) ruled (at the time of the Temple) and this unclean spirit was not “in the world.” Further, it is the actions of man that allow this spirit to return. This would indicate that the yetzer hara will still be present in the Millennium and cause the final, brief return of haSatan. Only in the Olam Haba, following the Millennium is every aspect of evil totally eradicated.
THEN THE CLOUD COVERED THE TENT OF MEETING, whereby the Shekinah dwelt on the earth, and the unclean spirit, designated “end of all flesh”, passed out of the world and disappeared into the cavern of the great abyss. The Holy Spirit had thus sole sway over the world, as Scripture says: “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting”. It is further written: AND MOSES WAS NOT ABLE TO ENTER INTO THE TENT OF MEETING, BECAUSE THE CLOUD ABODE THEREON, in other words, because the Holy Spirit hovered over the world and the unclean spirit passed out. The wicked, however, draw him again into the world, and if not for them he would completely disappear. But in the days to come the Holy One, blessed be He, will cause him to pass completely out of the world, as Scripture says: “He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of his people will he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 25:8); also, “and (I will cause) the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (Zechariah 13:3). Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen and Amen. “The Lord will reign for ever.”
Zohar, Shemoth 269a
9. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
Then will the King Messiah appear and the kingship shall be given to him. Mankind will then suffer one calamity after another, and the enemies of Israel will prevail, but the spirit of the Messiah shall rise against them and destroy the sinful Edom and burn in fire the land of Seir. Hence it is written, “And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession of his which were his enemies, while Israel doth valiantly”. And in that time the Holy One, blessed be He, shall raise the dead of his people, and death shall be forgotten of them.’ R. Abba said: ‘Why is it written, “For in joy ye shall go out” (Isaiah 55:12)? Because when Israel go out from captivity the Shekinah will go forth with them and they with Her.
Why punishment by fire? Pride seems to be at the core as shown in this Midrash:
R. Levi said: It is a praiseworthy enactment that a person who behaves boastfully should be punished by fire, as it is said, This is the law regarding a person striving to be high: it is that it goes up on its burning-place (Leviticus 6:2).1-The generation of the Flood, because they had been haughty, having said: What is the AImighty, that we should serve Him? (Job 21:15), were punished by fire, as it is said, What time they were scorched, they were exterminated-nizmathu (ib. 6:17).–R Joshua b. Levi said: [This means that] their burning up was complete, as it is said, Completely (la-zemithuth) to the buyer (Leviticus 25:30).-It being hot, they were consumed out of their place (Job loc. cit.). ’It being hot’ means: with boiling water. R. Johanan said: Every single drop [of rain] which the Holy One, blessed be He, brought down on the generation of the Flood, He made to boil in Gehinnom. This is [indicated by] what is written, ’Through His heat were they consumed out of their place.’ The Sodomites, because they had been overbearing, saying: ‘Let us cause the law of hospitality to be forgotten from our midst,’ as it is said, They are forgotten of the foot that passeth by (Job 28:4), were punished by fire, as it is said, Then the Lord caused to rain upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire, etc. (Genesis 19:24). Pharaoh the wicked, because he had behaved boastfully, saying: Who is the Lord, that I should hearken unto His voice? (Exodus 5:2), was punished by fire, as it is said, So there was hail, and fire flashing up amidst the hail (ib. 9:24). Sisera, because he had been overbearing, and oppressed Israel, as it is written, And he oppressed the children of Israel with forcefulness (Judges 4:3)-what does ’with forcefulness’ mean? Said R. Isaac: It means blasphemy and reviling-was punished with fire [as it is said], The stars in their courses fought against Sisera (ib. 5:20). Sennacherib, because he had behaved overbearingly by saying: Who are they among the gods of these countrtes, that have delivered their country out of my hand (Isaiah 36:20), was punished by fire, as it is written, And under his glory there shall be kindled a burning like the burning of fire (ib. 10:16). Nebuchadnezzar, because he had behaved insolently, by saying: And who is God, that He shall deliver you out of my hands? (Daniel 3:15), was punished by fire, as it is said, The flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego (ib. 22). The wicked State, because it blasphemes and reviles, saying: Whom have I in heaven…? (Psalm 73:25), is to be punished with fire, [as it said], I beheld even till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and it was given to be burned with fire (Daniel 7:11). Israel, however, who are despised and lowly in this world, will be comforted by means of fire, as it is said, For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her (Zechariah 2:9).
Midrash Rabbah, Leviticus 7:6
The following Midrash speaks of this fire coming from “within” their bodies:
And the day that cometh shall set them ablaze (Malachi 3:19). R. Jannai and R. Simeon b. Lakish said: There is no other Gehenna [in the future] save a day which will burn up the wicked. What is the proof? For, behold, a day cometh, it burneth as a furnace (ib.). Our Rabbis maintain: There will be a Gehenna, for it is said, Whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem (Isaiah 31:9). R. Judah b. R. Ila’i said: There will be neither a day nor a Gehenna, but a fire shall come forth from the bodies of the wicked themselves and burn them up. What is the proof? Ye conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble, your breath is a fire that shalI devour you (ib. 33:11).
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 6:6
Another reference to this destruction by fire is found in Midrash:
It has been taught in the name of R. Nathan: The globe of the sun has a sheath, as it is written, In them hath He set a tent for the sun (Psalm 19:5), and therefore it is a lake of water. Whenever the sun desires to come forth it flames, and the Holy One, blessed be He, weakens its force with the water in order that it should not burn up the world. In the Hereafter, however, the Holy One, blessed be He, will strip its sheath and uncover it and cause it to consume the wicked; as it is said, For, behold, the day cometh, it burneth as a furnace; and all the proud, and all that work wickedness, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall set them ablaze (Malachi 3:19). R. Jannai and R. Ishmael both declared: There is no Gehinnom in the Hereafter; but the sun will come forth and the righteous derive benefit from it. Whence do we know this? As it is said, But unto you that fear My name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings (ib. 20). The wicked, on the other hand, will be punished by it, as it is said, ‘ And the day that cometh shall set them ablaze.
Midrash Rabbah, Ecclesiastes 1:11
10. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
The interesting concept in this verse is what sounds like “eternal punishment” (i.e., “…forever and ever.”) This merits careful interpretation as God does not act without purpose. The idea of punishment that lasts “forever and ever” is not one of sadistic, pointless revenge. It is best rendered as one disallowing entry into the Olam Haba, eventual annihilation, and a “recycling” of the spiritual “energy” associated with that entity. (Akin to the parable told in Matthew 25, specifically verse 28.)
The following text alludes to this idea:
Woe to the wicked who will not repent of their sins before the Almighty while they are still in this world. For when a man repents of his sins and feels remorse for them, the Holy One, blessed be He, forgives them. But those who cling to their sins and refuse to repent of them will in the end descend to Gehinnom and never come up again. Thus because the generation of Noah were stubborn of heart and flaunted their sins openly and defiantly, the Holy One, blessed be He, punished them as here described.’ Said R. Isaac: ‘When a man sins in secret, if he repents, the Holy One, blessed be He, being merciful, relents and forgives him; but if not, He then publishes his sins before the world. We learn this from the treatment of the faithless wife (Sotah). Similarly here, the wicked were exterminated in sight of all. The manner of their death was as follows: scalding water spurted up from the abyss, and as it reached them it first burnt the skin from the flesh, and then the flesh from the bones; the bones then came asunder, no two remaining together, and thus they were completely blotted out.’ R. Isaac said: ‘The words “they were blotted out from the earth” is analogous to the expression “let them be blotted out of the book of the living” (Psalm 69:29), thus indicating that they will not participate in the resurrection and will not rise in the Day of Judgment.’
Zohar, Bereshith 66b
The following speak of the doing away of evil with the coming of Messiah:
‘The Tabernacle, in its recondite significance, reflected the supernal mysteries comprised within the Divine Name ADNY. The same significance is reflected by the Ark, of which it is written: “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord (ADN) of all the earth” (Joshua 3:11), the term ADN being identical with the Divine Name ADNY. The name ADNY corresponds to the most sublime Divine Name YHVH,, the Aleph of the one containing the same recondite meaning as the Yod of the other, the Daleth of the one corresponding to the He of the other, and so with the Nun and Vau, the Nun being emblematic of the male principle and the Vau of the female principle, but the two forming a complete whole; and so, too, with the Yod of the one and the He of the other. The several letters of the two Names, moreover, imply each other, complement each other, and together enfold one mystery. Now, the lower and earthly Tabernacle was the counterpart of the upper Tabernacle, whilst the latter in its turn is the counterpart of a higher Tabernacle, the most high of all. All of them, however, are implied within each other and form one complete whole, as it says: “that the tabernacle may be one whole” (Exodus 26:6). The Tabernacle was erected by Moses, he alone being allowed to raise it up, as only a husband may raise up his wife. With the erection of the lower Tabernacle there was erected another Tabernacle on high. This is indicated in the words “the tabernacle was reared up (hukam)” (Exodus 40:17), reared up, that is, by the hand of no man, but as out of the supernal undisclosed mystery in response to the mystical force indwelling in Moses that it might be perfected with him. It is written above: “And all the wise men that wrought all the work of the sanctuary came”, etc. (Ibid. 36:4). The “wise men that wrought” embrace the “right”, the “left”, and all the other sides constituting the ways and paths that lead into the sea and fill it. These wrought the supernal Tabernacle and perfected it. Likewise, the lower Tabernacle was wrought by Bezalel and Oholiab, the one of the right, the other of the left, followed by “every wisehearted man”, all after the supernal pattern. On the day the Tabernacle was reared up death was removed from the world, that is, it was deprived of its dominion over the world. For, indeed, the entire extinction of the evil impulse will not come to pass until the coming of King Messiah, when the Holy One, blessed be He, will rejoice in His works and “he will swallow up death for ever” (Isaiah 25:8). Yet when the Tabernacle was reared up by the hand of Moses the power of the evil impulse was subdued so that it could not exercise dominion. At that time the power of Samael, the wielder of the fury of the “left side”, was removed from the evil serpent, so that the latter was not able to dominate the world or attach himself to man and lead him astray.’ R. Judah said: ‘It is written: “And Moses used to take the tent and pitch it without the camp” (Exodus 33:7). The reason of this was that Moses did not wish that the “holy side” should rest in the midst of the side of defilement.’ Said R. Eleazar: ‘So long as the “holy side” rules, the side of defilement is powerless and bows before it. So we have learnt that so long as Jerusalem is in its fulness wicked, Tyre remains devastated.’ [Tr. note: Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 42b.]
Zohar, Shemoth 235b,236a
Of the time that God will restore His House it is written: “He will swallow up death for ever”; it will not be as at the time when Moses reared up the Tabernacle, but for ever and for all generations. The Holy One, blessed be He, will then establish the Community of Israel, will raise up the pillars and the pins, and all the beams of the Sanctuary in their proper setting to endure for evermore. The “other side” will be swallowed up for ever.
Zohar, Shemoth 240b
Even the “snake” will be recycled into something beautiful – the breastplate of the High Priest:
As soon as the kingdom of the Mashiach will be established, the remarkable feature will be that his former enemies will make peace with him, i.e. the klipah will then be purified, and all the Gentile nations will acknowledge the truth. That is the day when G-d and His name will be One. Even the erstwhile “Nachash” [the proverbial “Snake”] will be turned into “Choshen” [breastplate of the High Priest, spelled with the same letters as “Nachash”]
(Chapter 22 will discuss the mystical aspects of the serpent and its relationship to the Messiah.)
11. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.
12. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
The mention of the white throne is an allusion to Yom Kippur, the time of judgment. There are three books (“bad,” “good” and “intermediate”) mentioned in Jewish writings as shown in this Talmudic passage. Inevitably, at Yom Kippur everyone ends up in either the “good” or “bad” book:
Three books are opened [in heaven] on New Year, one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for the intermediate. The thoroughly righteous are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of life; the thoroughly wicked are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of death; the doom of the intermediate is suspended from New Year till the Day of Atonement; if they deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of life; if they do not deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of death.
Talmud, Rosh HaShana 16b
Repentance allows for even the wicked to change their outcome:
AND EVERY FIRSTLING OF AN ASS THOU SHALT REDEEM WITH A LAMB, AND IF THOU WILT NOT REDEEM IT… THOU SHALT BREAK HIS NECK. The ass and the lamb symbolize the evil and the good inclinations. The very evil can be turned into good by repentance: the “ass” must be redeemed by a “lamb”. In other words, even if a man is an “ass”, a spiritual ignoramus, he can be redeemed from the exile of darkness and be included in the redemption of Israel, “the scattered sheep” (Jeremiah 50:17). But if he does not repent, “thou shalt break his neck”, meaning, he belongs to the stiffnecked ones who will be blotted out from the Book of Life, for concerning such unrepentant sinners it is written: “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Exodus 32:33).
Zohar, Shemoth Raya Mehemna 43a
13. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
14. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
There are many references in the writings of the sages regarding death being swallowed up at this time:
G-d said: ‘ In this world, because the Evil Inclination is present, men kill one another and die, but in the time to come I will uproot the Evil Inclination from your midst and there will be no death in the world,’ [as Scripture says], He will swallow up death for ever (Isaiah 25:8).
Midrash Rabbah, Deuteronomy 2:30
And the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning, and their form shall be for the wearing away of the nether-world on account of His habitation: this teaches that Sheol [the nether-world] will be destroyed.
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 26:2
Another New Testament text connects the destruction of death itself with the resurrection of Messiah and those of true faith:
For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Messiah. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to G-d the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “G-d has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:22-28
(The subject of the “Son being subjected” at the end of the age will be addressed in chapter 21.)
15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
‘What, then, is the meaning of the text, AND THE SPIRIT OF THE BEAST WHETHER IT GOETH DOWNWARD TO THE EARTH?’ He replied, ‘ It refers to the souls of the wicked which descend to Gehinnom below, as it is stated, In the day when he went down to the netherworld I caused the deep to mourn and cover itself for him’ (Ezekiel 31:15).
Midrash Rabbah, Ecclesiastes 3:23
A person’s relationship with Torah in their life impacts what happens to them upon death, as expressed so eloquently in this portion of the Zohar:
AND THEY TOOK HIM AND CAST HIM INTO THE PIT. R. Judah here discoursed on the text: The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul (Psalm 19:8). ‘The study of the Torah’, he said, ‘procures for a man life in this world and in the world to come, so that he gains the two worlds; and even he that studies the Torah for worldly motives and not purely for its own sake as he ought to, gains a good reward in this world, and escapes punishment in the other. The Scripture says: “Length of days is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour” (Proverbs 3:6). There is, indeed, length of days for him who devotes himself to the Torah for its own sake. For such a one there is length of days in the other world, where days are indeed days. And further: “in her left hand are riches and honour”, which means good reward in this world. Moreover, if a man has devoted himself to the Torah for its own sake, when he departs this world the Torah goes before him and proclaims his merit, and shields him against the emissaries of punishment. When a man’s body is laid in the grave, the Torah keeps guard over it; it goes in front of his soul when it soars upwards, breaking through all barriers until the soul reaches its proper place; and it will stand by the man at the time when he is awakened at the resurrection of the dead, in order to defend him against any accusations. Thus Scripture further says: “When thou liest down, it shall watch over thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee” (Ibid. 4:22). The “Iying down” is an allusion to the time when man’s body is lying in the grave and is being judged there; the Torah will then protect him; whilst “when thou awakest”, that is, when the dead will rise from the dust, “it shall talk with thee”, that is, plead thy cause.’ R. Eleazar interpreted the clause “it shall talk with thee” to mean that when they rise from the grave the Torah will not be forgotten of them, but they will know it much as they did when they left this world. For their Torah will be preserved from that time, will penetrate within them, and will talk, as it were, within their very inwards; and moreover, they will be more adept than they were previously, so that points which formerly baffled them in spite of all their labour will now be fully comprehended by them, the Torah itself speaking within them. Hence: “when thou awakest, it will talk with thee”.’ R. Judah said: ‘In a similar way, whoever devotes himself to the study of the Torah in this world will be privileged to study in the world to come; and so we affirm. On the other hand, the man who fails to study the Torah in this world, and so walks in darkness, when he leaves this world is taken and cast into Gehinnom, a nethermost place, where there will be none to pity him, a place called “tumultuous pit, miry clay” (Psalm 40:3). Hence, of him who has not devoted himself to the study of the Torah in this world, but has besmirched himself with the offscourings of this world, it is written: “And they took him and cast him into the pit”, that is, into Gehinnom, a place where those who have not laboured in the Torah are brought to judgement. “And the pit was empty”, in the same way as he was empty: why so? “Because there was no water” (i.e. Torah) in him. Observe, too, how great is the punishment for neglect of the study of the Torah, seeing that Israel were not exiled from the Holy Land save for having abandoned the Torah, as it is written: “Who is the wise man that may understand this?… Wherefore is the land perished?… And the Lord saith: Because they have forsaken my law, etc.” (Jeremiah 9:11).’ R. Judah derived the same lesson from the verse: “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, for want of knowledge” (Isaiah 5:13), that is, because they have not applied themselves to the study of the Torah, which is the foundation of the upper and the lower worlds, as it says: “Were it not for my covenant enduring day and night, I would not have appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth” (Jeremiah 33:25).
Zohar, Bereshith 184b,185a