Chapter 10

 

 

THE JEWISH UTOPIA

BY

MICHAEL HIGGER, Ph. D.

THE LORD BALTIMORE PRESS 

BALTIMORE, MD.

1932

CHAPTER X
THE KINGDOM OF GOD



We are now in a position to discuss the Jewish conception of the Kingdom of God. The contrast between the Christian dogma and the Jewish doctrine of the Kingdom is evident. The dogmatic doctrine of the Kingdom in the New Testament is not a continuation of the prophetic hope at all. Nothing is mentioned in the New Testament of the spiritual and material glory of Palestine in the day of fulfillment. The Kingdom that Jesus, according to the New Testament account, speaks of is more mystical, inward, and personal.575 The New Testament is mainly concerned, not with the earthly, but rather with the heavenly Kingdom af God. We read thus in John 18,36: Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now is my kingdom not from hence."Unlike the prophets, therefore, Jesus thought of the Kingdom as having actually begun with him and his disciples.576 Compare Mark 1, 15: "And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." For, in the New Testament, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are practically identica1.577 This dogma of a purely spiritual Kingdom, independent of the material, earthly world, was later expounded more fully by the sophisticated argumentation of Paul: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom af God; neither doth corruption inherit corruption." 578 In Romans, 14, 17, Paul remarks: "For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."579

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The Kingdom of God, as pictured by the Jewish prophets, on the other hand, is an ideal society of nations on earth, living in accordance with universal ethical rules of genuine justice, righteousness, and peace. The ideal Kingdom is a universal idealization of the most important experiences of Israel in the past. The Davidic ruler, to be recognized uni- versally, will be the perfect ethical character. The people who are to constitute the ideal community at the beginning of the ideal future are a remnant. The new people will not be sinless; but it will be ennobled and purified. The exalted moral and spiritual state of the ideal stock will manifest itself by the universal knowledge of God. That knowledge will permeate the life of the individual, as well as the relation between man and man, or the functioning of the new society of the Universal State. Peace, justice, and righteousness will prevail everywhere. Jerusalem will be a center of rejoicing of the ideal people. All the nations will flow unto God's house in Jerusalem. For, the religion of the new Israel will be the ideal religion, to which all the nations will spontaneausly be drawn.
What the prophets anticipated did not come to pass. The rabbis, unconsciously, took up the idea of the Kingdom of God, where the prophets left off. The spiritual leaders in Israel expanded and developed that glorious dream of an ideal Universal State. The people who are to constitute the ideal
community at the beginning of the ideal era, will be, instead of a remnant, the entire ideal people of Israel. The new people will be practically sinless. The evil inclinations in man, due to the new conditions, will be removed. Jerusalem will become the ideal capital of the new Universal State. God will be universally acknowledged as the Lord of Love, Peace, Justice, and Righteousness.
Read the following prayer that is officially recited three times daily in the synagogue, and you will realize how rabbinic

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Judaism is directly following the footsteps of the prophets, with regard to their ideology of the Kingdom of God on earth: "We therefore hope in thee, O Lord our God, that we may speedily behold the glory of thy might, when thou wilt remove the abominations from the earth, and the idols will be utterly cut off, when the world will be perfected under the Kingdom of the Almighty, and all the children of flesh will call upon thy name, when thou wilt turn unto thyself all the wicked of the earth. Let all the inhabitants of the world perceive and know that unto thee every knee must bow, every tongue must swear. Before thee, O Lord our God, let them bow and fall; and unto thy glorious name let them give honour; let them all accept the yoke of thy kingdom, and do thou reign over them speedily, and for ever and ever. For the kingdom is thine, and to all eternity thou will reign in glory; as it is written in thy Law, the Lord shall reign for ever and ever. And it is said, And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall the Lord be One, and his name One". 580
By praying for the kingdom and rule of the house of the ideal David, we simply articulate our hopes that the new era will arrive, in which wickedness will have disappeared from the earth, and righteousness, as symbolized in the Kingdom of God, will thenceforth reign among men.581 The Kingdom of God, in other words, will be realized through the nule of the ideal house of David.582 It is this ideal and righteous David that will preside at every gathering of the just and tlhe upright.583 Thus, when the everlasting seat of the house of David is established, the whole world of the new era will be happy-and acclaim it accordingly.584 For, that ideal house will signify a world united for one important purpose, namely, that, in the words of Zephaniah, they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent.585 R. Johanan, undoubtedly thought of that ideal kingdom on earth,

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when he said that every one should make an effort to meet a king personally,-be he Jewish or non-Jewish-in the present era, so that when the ideal era arrives, one will be in a position, through recognizing the difference, to appreciate the heads of the new order.586
The kingdom of the house of David will thus symbolize the new ideal era of justice and righteousness prevailing throughout the world, the source of its new life and the blessings of which will come from Zion.587 An exalted description of the ideal ruler of the house of David in the ideal era, and which agrees in most points with the rabbinic ideology, is given in the Book of the Psalms af Solamon: "And he shall gather together a holy people, whom "he shall lead in righteousness. . . . And he shall not suffer unrighteousness to lodge anymore in their midst. . . . For he shall know them, that they are all sons af their God. . . . He shall judge peoples and nations in the wisdom of his righteousness. . . . And, he shall glorify the Lord in a place to be seen of all the earth . . . so that nations shall come from the ends of the earth to see his glory. . . . For he shall not put his trust in horse and rider and bow, nor shall he multiply for himself gold and silver for war. . . He will bless the people of the Lord with wisdom and gladness, and he himself will be pure from sin, so that he may rule a great people. . . . His hope will be in the Lord. Who then can prevail against him? He will be mighty in his works, and strong in the fear of God. He will be shepherding the flock of the Lord faithfully and righteously. . . . In the assemblies he will judge the peoples, the tribes of the sanctified. . . . Blessed be they that shall be in those days." 588 The elders of the local communities, who will head the righteaus peOple, will, likewise, be known for their gentleness and sympathy toward all their fellow-men.589 Furthermore, when the rabbis speak of the Kingdom of God on earth, they refer to the rule of God in the ideal era

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to come, when God will be recognized as the Lord of the universe, not only by Israel, but by all members of the human race.590 The new Kingdom will thus be governed by the law of love and mutual self-sacrifice. The people will then acknowledge the Lord, in the words of Isaiah, as their Judge, Lawgiver, and King 591 The rivers, mountains, and trees, will express their joy and gladness, when the Lord will establish his kingdom on earth, so that He will be acknowledged universally as the Judge and King of the world.592 Another proohecy of Isaiah will then, likewise, be fulfilled; namely, "And. the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day." 593 God will thus be clothed with glory and majesty. 594 For the Holy One
will then display his glory to all creatures in the world.595
Moreover, God will then be recognized as Protector of the dwelling and home of every individual.596 The Lord will be universally known as the Good One, who bestows only goodness and real happiness upon the world. 597 Isaiah spoke of that period, when he said: "And whereof from of old men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen a God beside Thee, who worketh for him that waiteth for Him." 598 Thus, just as in the past the Divine Presence of God dwelt in Jerusalem, so, in the ideal era to come, the Divine Presenee will fill the whole world, from one end to the other.599
The prayers for the Jewish New Year voice admirably the prophetic-rabbinic ideology of the Kingdom on earth: "Then shall the just also see and be glad, and the upright shall exult, and the pious triumphantly rejoice, while iniquity shall close her mouth, and all wickedness shall be wholly consumed like smoke, when thou makest the dominion of arrogance to pass away from the earth. And thou, O Lord, shalt reign, thou alone over all thy works on Mount Zion, the dwelling place of thy glory, and in Jerusalem, thy holy city, as it is written in thy Holy Words, The Lord shall reign for ever, thy God,

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O Zion, unto all generations. . . . Our God and God of our fathers, reign thou in thy glory over the whole universe, and be exalted above all the earth in thine honour, and shine forth in the splendour and excellence of thy might upon all the inhabitants of thy world, that whatsoever hath been made may know that thou hast made it, and whatsoever hath been created may understand that thou hast created it, and what-soever hath breath in its nostriles may say, The Lord God of Israel is King, and his dominion ruleth over all." 600
The same thought is expressed in the Kaddish prayer recited by the mourners at the burial of their relation: "May his great name be magnified and sanctified in the world that is to be created anew, where . . . he will rebuild the city of Jerusalem, and establish his temple in the midst thereof; and will uproot all alien worship from the earth and restore the worship of the true God. O may the Holy One, blessed be he, reign in his sovereignty and glory during your life and during the life of all the house of Israel, even speedily and at a near time." 601

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