Faith & Trust

Proof of Prophecy: The Second Exile

In the previous section of "proof of prophecy" we set out the prophecy regarding the First Temple. In this section we discuss the Second Temple period and subsequent exile as they appear in prophecies and in historical narratives. Journey to the truth 1.2

Proof of Prophecy: The Second Exile

Here is a summary of the second Torah section that appears in Deuteronomy (Chapter 28) and deals with the Second Temple’s Destruction. This section predicts that:

1. The invading nation and conqueror will not be one of Israel’s neighbors but will come from afar. (Deut. 28:49: “The L-rd will bring upon you a nation from afar")

2 . This nation will be new and was unknown to our fathers. (Deut. 28:36: “to a nation unknown to you or your fathers")

3. This nation will have a symbolic connection to an eagle. (Deut. 28:49: “The L-rd will bring upon you a nation from afar... as the eagle swoops down" (

4 . This nation’s language will be incomprehensible and unknown in our region. (Deut. 28:49: “a nation whose language you will not understand")

5. Suffering and tribulations will accompany the period of the Destruction (verses 15-49).

6 . The conquerors will exile us to Egypt, the land that we came from (Deut. 28:68: “And the L-rd will bring you back to Egypt in ships.”) (But because the verses tell us “to a nation unknown to you or your fathers” “whose language you will not understand”, the conquerers can not be the Egyptians because our fathers knew them and had even been enslaved by them! There seems to be an inner contradiction in the prophecy)!

7 .They will not be exiled to Egypt through a land route but by sea (Deut. 28:68: “And the L-rd will bring you back to Egypt in ships).

8 . In Egypt, the exiles will be auctioned off as slaves and handmaids. (Deut. 28:68: “you will seek to be sold to your enemies for slaves and handmaids).

9. Because there will be so many exiles offered for sale as slaves, the price of a slave will drop to the floor until finally there won’t even be buyers. (Deut. 28:68: “but there will be no buyer").

10. Over the exile, the Jewish people will be scattered and spread out throughout the world. (Deut. 28:64: “And the L-rd will scatter you among all the nations, from one end of the earth to the other").

11 . The nations of the world will issue decrees forcing the Jews to serve idols, and there will be those who fail the test and will serve idols (Deut. 28:64: “there you will serve other deities of wood and stone, unknown to you or your forefathers(".

12. During their exile, the Jews will be in danger of their life and no one will know what the next day may bring (Deut. 28:66: “And your life will hang from a hairsbreadth. You will be in fear night and day, and you will not believe in your life").

13. Even though you are a small nation, you will be the nation most talked about and vilified (Deut. 28:37: “And you will become an [object of] astonishment, an example, and a popular topic [shenina is from the word shinun, speech that is constantly repeated], among all the peoples where the L-rd will lead you").

***

One who studies the historical record and the historical books that remains in our hands from the bitter period of the Destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans, is astonished at the exact parallels down to the smallest details between the Torah’s account that was predicted in advance, and what actually occurred.

1. The Romans, as is well known, do not live in the Land of Israel but came from distant Rome. (Deut. 28:49: “The L-rd will bring upon you a nation from afar(".

2. The Romans were formed from a mixture of tribes close to the time of the Temple’s Destruction, and therefore were a new nation unknown to our ancestors (Deut. 28:36: “to a nation unknown to you or your fathers").

3. The symbol of the Roman legion was an eagle. (Deut. 28:49: “The L-rd will bring upon you a nation from afar... as the eagle swoops down").

4. The Roman language was unknown in the East (Deut. 28:49: “a nation whose language you will not understand").

5. There is no need to go into detail about the fearful massacres and dreadful suffering which our people suffered during the Destruction. The details can be read in verses 15-49 and one can easily believe that these verses were a report by historians living during that period instead of a prediction about the future

6-9 . Minter, a famous German historian, writes: “Ever since Betar was captured, everything came under the Roman yoke, but Palestine was a desolate mound… the captives, too innumerable to count, were sold in slave auctions. At first, in the annual market, and those that weren’t sold were brought to Egypt in ships…” Sherir, another German historian, relates that the number of slaves in Egypt was so numerous that a Jewish slave was sold for as little as the price of a portion of horse feed. It should be noted that these findings also appear in Heronymus’s writings, and in Toldot Am Israel Bimai Kedem (page 321).

            We therefore see that all the prophetic details were fulfilled: 6. G-d will return you to Egypt, 7. in ships, 8. and you will be sold there as slaves and handmaids but 9. there will be no buyer (verse 68).

10. The Jewish people were scattered among all countries and peoples in the world. (Deut. 28:64: “and the L-rd will scatter you among all the nations, from one end of the earth to the other.”) It should be stressed that the first prophecy which deals with the Exile during the First Temple era only says, “I will scatter you among the nations.” The meaning is that the Jews would not remain concentrated in one diaspora country, but would be dispersed. However, it does not say that they would be scattered throughout the world, as was stated with the second exile. In the first exile, the Jewish people was dispersed only in Babylonia, Persia, Medes, and other nearby nations (as Haman told Ahashverosh, “there is one people who are scattered and separated among the nations” etc.), But only in the exile that com-menced after the Destruction of the Second Temple were they scattered throughout the world, both in the Old World, and also in the New World after it had been discovered, until there is no country in the world that doesn’t have Jews in it.

11. Over the years of exile, the Jewish people has lost many of its sons due to threat of murder, pogroms, forced conversion, or because they sought to escape the tribulations of the exile by forsaking their ancestors’ religion. (Deut. 28:64: “and there you will serve other deities of wood and stone unknown to you or your forefathers.”) Some commentaries explain the words “wood and stone” as euphemisms for Christianity (wood = the wood on which their savior was crucified) and Islam (stone = the Kaaba stone in Mecca), the two primary religions that persecuted Jews and decreed forced apostasy upon them during this exile.

12. A constant threat to life hovered over the heads of the Jews in diaspora countries. Even during periods that seemed more or less good, everyone was gripped by the feeling of who knows what tomorrow would bring. (Deut. 28:66: “And your life will hang in suspense before you…. you will not believe in your life").

13. The Jewish people is the smallest nation. Nevertheless, instead of being a negligible nation that almost no one relates to, it is amazingly the nation most spoken about!! (Deut. 28:37: “And you will become an [object of] astonishment, an example, and a popular topic [shenina is from the word shinun, speech that is constantly repeated] among all the peoples where the L-rd will lead you.”) We even see this happening before our eyes today. Millions have died and are still dying of hunger and war between nations and tribes in various parts of the world, but the world media barely registers a blip on one of their back pages. But every marginal event or mishap of the small Jewish nation is immediately reported, makes the headlines of the world press, and is reacted to by a global condemnation of massive proportions. [1]

***

Note that all the promises of good and solace which were included in the prophetic warning of the First Exile (such as: the Land of Israel would remain faithful to the Jews, the Jewish people would never become extinct, etc.) also applied to the Second Exile. [2]  Even during a period of fury and G-d’s hiding His countenance, He remains our loving father.

 

Any additional prophetic warning does not diminish from the good news that accompanies another prophetic warning (besides, of course, the number of exile years, which is unique to each separate exile, as is stated explicitly in the Bible). History shows that all attempts by various conquerers of the land in the past 2000 years to make the land bloom, failed miserably.[3]  Only when we returned to the Land in the past century did the Land begin to blossom at an astonishing pace.

***

In the prophecy about our long exile, we were not told explicitly how long it would last and when it would finish. This was to prevent the prior generations of our people who had gone into exile from falling into despair. For this reason, even when the date was revealed to Daniel (in the Vision of the Four Animals, Daniel, Chapters 7, 12), it was related to him in coded language and he was expressly told: “for the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:9).

Nevertheless, we were given clear indications whose fulfillment will alert us that the End of Days is approaching. These are the words of the Talmud (Sanhedrin 97a) about one such sign:

Rabbi Abba said: There is no more revealing indication of the End of Days than this verse, ‘And you, the mountains of Israel, will produce your branches, and you will bear your fruit for My people Israel because they are about to come.’” (Ezekiel 36:8)

This means, that when the Land of Israel begins to produce bountiful produce, this is a sign that the End of Days is coming near. There is no more revealing sign than this.

Remember that these words were written when the Land of Israel was desolate!

The Jewish People’s Survival in Every Situation

Let us sail off in a time tunnel to a period of history when the Jewish people found itself in one of its most turbulent periods, in which entire communities were slaughtered and massacred one after another, such as the Crusades, the Holocaust, etc. Many people, both from the murderers and the victims, believed and even said out loud that the final solution had arrived for the Jews.

Let us listen to the continuation of the exile prophecy: (Lev. 26:44) “But despite all this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them nor will I reject them to annihilate them, thereby breaking My covenant with them, for I am the L-rd their G-d.”

The Torah promises and guarantees: The Jewish people will never be destroyed! I, their G-d Who loves them, is smiting them so that they will return to the proper path. I announce that no matter what the situation, I will not despise them or reject them to annihilate them.

How did these words sound during periods of massacres and general destruction? How do they sound today?

 

[1] In 1899, Mark Twain wrote in Harpers Magazine: "If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one percent of the human race.  It suggests a nebulous puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way.  Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of.  He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.” The Torah stated that this would be the case thousands of years in advance.

[2] Nachmanides (who lived and was active 750 years ago) commented on the verse (Lev. 26:32) “it will become desolate for your enemies who live in it”: “the fact that it will be desolate for our enemies is good news. It is telling us that in all our exiles, our land will not accept our enemies. This is a great proof and promise for us, because you won’t find any other good and spacious land which was previously inhabited, and became as desolate as she is now. Despite everyone trying to settle her, they never succeed.”

[3] After Nachmanides immigrated to the Land of Israel (in the middle of the 13th century), he write a letter to his son, "What can I tell you about the Land? Many are its forsaken places, and great is the desecration. The more sacred the place, the greater the devasta-tion it has suffered. Jerusalem is the most desolate place of all, and the land of Judah more than the Galilee."

                Non-Jewish travelers who visited the Land could not hold back from expressing their amazement at the land’s desolation, and that despite various nations having lived in it in different periods, and still living in it, nevertheless it does not prosper. Here, for instance, are the words of Mark Twain who visited the Land of Israel in 1887: “Palestine sits in sack-cloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies… Palestine is desolate and unlovely… Palestine is no more of this work-day world… it is dream-land.” (Innocents Abroad)

                When the pioneers came to settle the land, they found it salty and full of thorns and thistles, swamps, mosquitoes, malaria, and various diseases. (Who can imagine this today, when traveling between cities and seeing the vast fertile fields passing before one’s eyes!) All this the Torah foresaw and announced: (Deut. 29:21-22): “And a later generation, your descendants, who will rise after you, along with the foreigner who comes from a distant land, will say, upon seeing the plagues of that land and the diseases with which the L-rd struck it: Sulfur and salt have burned up the entire land! It cannot be sown, nor can it grow [anything], not [even] grass will sprout upon it.”

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