Chapter 3

 

 

THE JEWISH UTOPIA

BY

MICHAEL HIGGER, Ph. D.

THE LORD BALTIMORE PRESS 

BALTIMORE, MD.

1932

 

CHAPTER III

ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS



The question arises: How will that ideal civilization take root? In an era like ours, when each nation thinks and acts only for its own selfish ends, ignoring the common good and wellfare of mankind as a whole, is there any hope that the nations on earth will suddenly arise from their lethargy, and start a new Utopian life? The answer is: One nation would have to establish its life on a Utopian foundation, thereby leading the way for the rest of the world to follow its example. A model, ideal state comprising a group of righteous individuals and living an ideal life, will gradually spread its teachings and influence from nation to nation, throughout the world. The kingdom of God will then become a fact.
Israel is the only nation that is suited for that purpose. The religious experiences of Israel and the ideology of that people as voiced by the prophets, qualify it to lead the world in establishing a universal Utopia.139 What Tennyson has said of the human race, may well be said of the ideal Israel: "We are the ancients of the earth, and in the morning of the times."139 The rabbis had wonderful insight into the history and experiences of Israel and of mankind in general; they viewed them from the point af view of God's purpose and of the spiritual forces in the world, and they have correctly and frequently expressed their opinion that the Kingdom of God will come only through an ideal Israel.140 Israel, living a life in which God's presence is made to function, will be a living testimony for the nations of the earth of the existence, greatness, and glory og God.141 "When will this world become a vineyard? When the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise, in the eyes of

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mankind, the position of the people of Israel who are degraded in the world." 142 In the era to come, the new Israel, will glorify the Creator in His glorious Kingdom.143 Similarly, in the words of the Psalmist, "as the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord will be round about His people".144 Again, in the present era, Israel's voice is not heard; it has no effect on suffering humanity. But in the ideal era, Israel will be given an opportunity to speak out.145 Isaiah's prophecy will then be realized: "And their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed."146, Israel will thus become a light, a symbol of the ideal life for the nations, so that, in the words of Isaiah, " the nations shall walk at Israel's light, and kings at the brightness of Israel's rising".147
The tradition of the "chosen people" is to be interpreted in this light. Just as the bride on her wedding day - remark the rabbis - is not superior to her sisters, except for the jewels which she displays, so the ideal Israel will be considered superior only in so far as her light, or her spiritual life and teachings will influence the nations.148 The people of Israel will thus conquer, spiritually, the nations of the earth, so that Israel will be made high above all nations in praise, in name, and in glory.149 In saying that "God cares for the Holy Land and that the eyes of the Lord are always upon it ",150 we mean that He cares for that land, through which His care will be extended to all other lands. Similarly, when we say that "the Lord keeps Israel ",151 we mean that He guides Israel through whom His guidance will be extended to the rest of the world.152 Thus, in the language of the rabbis, God says to Israel, On account of you I bestow goodness upon all creatures in the world.153 This is the force of the verse: " And I have set you apart from the peoples, that ye should be Mine." 154 An ideal Israel was set apart as a constant reminder

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for the nations of the earth that they should change their ways and follow the ways of God.155
The Jews thus allude to their moral responsibility in their daily morning prayers: "Thou hast chosen us from all peoples and tongues, and has brought us near unto thy great name for ever in faithfulness, "that we might in love give thanks unto thee and proclaim thy unity."156 We should understand in a similar sense the passage in the Book of Jubilees, concerning the seed of Abraham and Isaac: "And that all the seed of his sons should be Gentiles; but from the sons of Isaac one should become a holy seed and should not be reckoned among the Gentiles. For he should become the portion of the Most High, and all his seed had fallen into possession of God, that it should be unto the Lord a people for His possession above all nations and that it should become a kingdom and priests and a holy nation." 157 The nations will gradually come to the realization that godliness is identical with righteousness, that God cleaves to Israel, the ideal righteous nation. The peoples of the earth will then proclaim to Israel: We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.158
Before the nations of the world recognize Israel as the ideal
people, Israel will have to undergo a spiritual development
. The Jew wil1 have to be prepared to lead the world to righteousness. For, it will be a serious and daring challenge to Israel, a challenge in which the fate of humanity will be involved.
The first step will be the adjustment of Israel's every day life to the principles of truth, justice, and righteousness, as understood in the ideology of a living universal God. These principles will not be merely blank and empty phrases as employed by modern professional preachers. They will actually function in the relationships between Jew and Jew. "Then shall nations bless themselves by God, and in God shall they glory."
159 Justice and righteousness, in the Midrashic

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phraseology, will thus, by the command of the Lord, become the crown of Israel.160 For, the ideal Israel will be a righteous people. Each member of that people will live a righteous life, and there wiIl be no unrighteous individuals among them.161 It is for this reason that the rabbis, as a rule, whenever they describe the ideal era to come, identify the people of Israel with the righteous in the world. The ideal Israel has to lead the world in righteousness, so that wickedness will entirely disappear from the earth, and all the righteous wiIl get their proper reward.162
Second, an ideal Israel will have to be a holy people.168 Their holiness wiIl be so apparent that every one will call them the holy ones.164 The source of that state of holiness will be their clean and sinless life. The prophecy of Ezekiel will then be realized: “And the nations shall know that I am the Lord that sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for ever."165 The Lord Himself will cleanse Israel from all their uncleanliness and from all their idols.166 That cleansing will be for everlasting; 167 and no animal sacrifices will be necessary for that cleansing.168 The sins of Israel in the past will be entirely forgotten.169 Evil inclinations in man, the main causes leading to sin, will be removed from Israel; and another prophecy of Ezekiel will be fulfilled: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." 170 Zion, the ideal country, will be given to Israel as an eternal possession, because of Israel's sinlessness and purity.171 With the evil inclinations removed, there will be no more problem of sin and suffering.
The main concern of the ideal people will be how to utilize God's goodness which is stored up for them. As a resuIt of the abundance which God will have bestowed upon the people, it will be possible for them to devote themselves exclusively to their completest moral and spiritual development.172

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Third, Israel will become a nation of prophets. "In the past only a few individuaIs were gifted with prophecy. But in the ideal era, every Israelite will be a prophet." 178 For, that ideal people will reach spiritual, moral, and cultural perfection, ad will thus have learned God's purpose in the world.174 Nature itself will cooperate with the nation of prophets, in prophesying an optimistic future for mankind; it will be an optimism symbolized by sweet wine dropped down by mountains.175 Experiencing God will naturally bring the people to a sense of piety.176
Fourth, Israel will become a nation of scholars. This will be in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah: "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children:" 177 Israel will experience a spiritual ad cultural renaissance, resembling the revelation they experienced in receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai.178 Wisdom and learning wiIl instil new life into the people.179 The basis of that culture and wisdom, through which God's glory will be manifest upon Israel, and by light of which nations will walk, will be the Torah, Israel's traditional inheritance.180 For, the source of Israel's new life of righteousness and of divine glory will be rooted in the Torah.181 Wisdom, understanding, knowledge, the three teachings of the Messiah to the nations of the earth, will be the inherent qualities of Israel, the ideal people.182 Learning and culture will not be merely for the privileged few. The whole people will be versed in the teachings of God. This will be in accordance with the prophecy of Jeremiah: But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts and in their heart will I write it.183
Fifth, in the ideal era, Israel will be peacefully united and no enimity of any kind will exist among them. They will be the ideal people of peace and brotherhood.184 That state of will be attained through their high standard of knowl-

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edge and culture.185 As a result of their spiritually united front, the Lord will be to the ideal people an everlasting light.186 Similarly, the leaders in Israel will be peacefully united in their responsible task of directing the fate of that historic people.187 Israel will consequently become the instrument of peace among the nations of the world. The prophecy of Isaiah will thus be realized: Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river.188
Sixth, Irsael will be a living testimony to the absolute unity of God. Consequently, in the ideal era, there will be no people who will believe in the division of the Godhead into two or more parts, or persons.189 Only those peoples who believe in one God will survive in the ideal world.190 Furthermore, the ideal people, by cleaving to God, will be an eternal witness to the Lord, that He is the true God, the living God, and the everlasting King.191 Indeed, the main justification for Israel's distinctiveness and separation from all other nations, will be that she identifies herself with the living and everlasting God, the Holy One of Israel; 192 that she preserves the memory of her historic experience of receiving the Torah; and that she gives the Torah's ethical teachings to mankind.193
Such will then be the perfect ideal nation, comprising a people of righteousness, holiness, prophecy, learning, peace, and godliness. The Lord, therefore, promised Moses that in the ideal era, He would be glorified in Israel.194 For, an ideal people like Israel, having attained perfection, must ultimately have a far reaching influence on the course of the destiny of nations. In the rabbinic terminology, the spiritual fire of Israel will devour the wicked nations.195 The folIowing biblical verse will then be fulfilled: "And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the name of the Lord is called upon thee, and they shall be afraid of thee." 196 The prophecy of Isaiah will likewise be realized: "And their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples ; all that see

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them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed." 197 Light, the emblem of the individual righteous, will also be the emblem of Israel. For, the Lord will be to the ideal people an everlasting light.198 " Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days."199 Unto Israel that light of the sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in its wings.200 Thus, in the ideal era, the light and glory of Israel will be of a divine nature, and, therefore, resemble the flaming glory of the Lord. This is the force af Isaiah's prophecy: "And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame." 201 Again, as in the case of the individual righteous, God's goodness is stored up for the ideal Israel, the righteous people. Hence, the exclamation of the Psalmist: "Oh how abundant is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee! " 202 Abundance, joy, wealth, plenty, and other sources of happiness, await Israel, the righteous people, in the ideal era.203 Israel will be blessed eternally, because their blessing will come no more through mortals, but directly from God.204 As the ideal, upright people, they will be loved and favored by God.205

The effects on the spiritual life of the nations will be momentous. The evil inclinations in man and peoples will gradually disappear. Mankind will, therefore, be in a position to become united for the common happiness. The nations would first unite for the purpose of calling upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him. This will be in accordance with the prophesy of Zephaniah: "For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent." 206 For, the nations would be envious of the new, ideal life of Israel, the ideal people.207 The more progressive nations will then eagerly join Israel, the ideal nation, in ealling upon the name of the

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Lord, to serve Him; and they will solemnly promise God and Israel to rejeet idolatry and idol worship in every form.208 In the ideal era, therefore, all the nations and the kingdoms, in the words of the Psalmist, will be gathered together to serve the Lord; all of them participating in Israel's praising of the Lord.209
The unrighteous nations, as typified in the traditional Esau, who persist in their wickedness and injustices, will not share in the ideal era. Their rule will be destroyed and will disappear from earth before the ushering in of the millennium.210 The wickedness of these nations will consist mainly in accumulating money belonging to the people, and of oppressing and robbing the poor.211 These nations will be summoned to judgment, before the advent of the Kingdom of God. This will be in accordance with the propheey of Obadiah: “And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esay; and the kingdom shall be the Lord's." 212 Another group of wicked nations, as typified in the traditional Edom and Rome, will suffer the same fate as the first group. Their unrighteousness will be characterized by corrupt governments, and by their oppressions of Israel. These nations will not exist in the ideal era, and their rule will be abolished before the advent of the Messianic age.213 Allied with these unrighteous nations are those peoples who possess the wicked traits of the traditional Amalekites, Ishmaelites, and Gibeonites. Before the dawn of the new era, their end will come. 214
The advent of the new era will thus be preceded by the " travail" of the Messianic time, namely, great distress, foreign invasions, confusions, and moral decline.216 According to another tradition, the three generations preceding the Messianic period will possess abundance of silver and gold, and other luxuries. Hence, the people will lead an immoral and ungodly life.2l6 A description of the dissensions, immoralities, struggles, dissatisfactions, and sufferings of that pe-

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riod, is already found scattered in many places in the Pseudepigraphal literature.217 In general, the peoples of the world will be divided into two main groups, the Israelitic and the non-Israelitic. The former will be righteous; they will live in accordance with the wishes of one, universal God; they wiIl be thirsty for knowledge, and willing, even to the point of marthyrdom, to spread ethical truths to the world. All the other peoples, on the other hand, will be known for their detestable practices, idolatry, and similar acts of wickedness. They will be destroyed and will disappear from earth before the ushering in of the ideal era.218 All these unrighteous nations will be called to judgment, before they are punished and doomed. The severe sentence of their doom will be pronouneed upon them only after they have been given a fair trial, when it will have become evident that their existenee would hinder the advent of the ideal era.219 Thus, at the coming of the Messiah, when all righteous nations will pay homage to the ideal righteous leader, and offer gifts to him, the wicked and corrupt nations, by realizing the approach of their doom, will bring similar presents to the Messiah. Their gifts and pretended acknowledgment of the new era, will be bluntly rejected.220 For the really wieked nations, like the wicked individuals, must disappear from earth before an ideal human society of righteous nations can be established. No ideal era of mankind can be established as long as there are peoples living idolatrous, ungodly lives; as long as there are oppressors of the righteous, friends of slavery, enemies of freedom and liberty, and defiant enemies of God.22l .
Hence, Israel, and the other righteous nations, will combat the combined forces of the wicked, unrighteous nations under the leadership of Gog and Magog.222 Assembled for an attack upon the righteous nations in Palestine near Jerusalem, the unrighteous will suffer a crushing defeat, and Zion will thenceforth remain the center of the Kingdon of God. The

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defeat of the unrighteous will mark the annihilation of the power of the wicked who oppose the Kingdom of God and the establishment of the new ideal era.223
This struggle will not be merely the struggle of Israel against her national enemies but the climax of the struggle between the two general opposing camps of the righteous and unrighteous. A saying in the name of Rab states that the descendant of the house of David will appear as the head of the ideal era only after the whole world will have suffered, for a continuous period of nine months, from a wicked corrupt government, like the historical, traditionally wicked Edom.224 Another view, implying the same idea, is stated in the name of R. Ishmael, namely, that three wars in three different parts of the world will take place during the period preceding the advent of the ideal era. The fiercest of these three wars will be the one that will take place at Rome.226 Moreover, rabbinic sources, in speaking of Israel's fate in the ideal era, ascribe Israel's spiritual victory in the future to the fact that righteousness will be victorious over wickedness, and that the upright and just will succeed in bringing about the disappearance of the unrighteous from the earth.226 The following statement of the rabbis is in point: When the prophecy of Isaiah will be fulfilled, "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the land".227 - then shall Israel say with the Psalmist: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains: From whence shall my help come? My help cometh from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth." 228
When they discourse about the victory of the righteous over the wicked, the Jewish sources rarely imply the idea of revenge on the part of the upright and the just. The wicked are to be eliminated from the scene merely because the destiny of humanity is to be guided and controlled by a new army, the army of the righteous.
A change of power will have to

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take place, whereby the righteous will assume the responsi- bilities of the new state of the affairs of mankind. A passage somewhat to this effect is to be found in one of the Pseudepigraphal Books: "Those, therefore, who do and fulfil the commandments of God shall increase and be prospered. But those who sin and set at nought the commandments shall be without the blessings before mentioned; and they shall be punished with many torments by the nations. But wholly to root out and destroy them is not permitted." 229
Consequently, before the Kingdom of God will be established, a number of important reforms and changes will take place. Idolatry and idol worshippers, wicked people, unrighteous nations will disappear from the earth.230 Governments and other social organizations interfering with the freedom and liberty of the individual will not be known.231 The foundations of the Kingdom of God will be justice and righteousness. This will be in accordance with the prophecy or Isaiah: "But the Lord of hosts is exalted through justice, and God the Holy One is sanctified through righteousness." 232
Every individual of all people will have high ethical and moral standards. Idolatry, theft, robbery, consanguineous marriage relationships, murder, and similar evils will not exist.233 Messiah will then be recognized by all the peoples of the earth as the one who will usher in the ideal era. Accordingly, all the nations will bring gifts to the leader of the new era.234 “Post-men carrying the gifts will be numerous." 235 Moreover, the very people af Israel, the ideal righteous people, will be the honorary gift that the nations will offer to the Messiah, the ideal righteous head.236
Eventually, the ushering in af the ideal Messianic era will be a universal event. 237 The words of the Psalmist will then be realized: Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for thine inheritance.238 Palestine, and Jerusalem with its spiritual center, the Temple, will be recognized by all the nations of

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the earth, as the holy places of God, which will send forth God's word to the rest of the world. The prophecy af Isaiah will thus be fulfilled: “And it shall come to pass in the end of the days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it. And many peoples shall go and say: 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God af Jacob; and He will teaeh us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the word
of the Lord from Jerusalem." 239 The city af Jerusalem will thus become the metropolis of the whole world, and the nations will walk at her spiritual light.240 The prophecy of Jeremiah, likewise, will then be realized: "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name af the Lord, to Jerusalem." 241

In the era to come, the number of children of Israel, or of the righteous, will consequently be, in the words of Hosea, as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered.242 There is a disagreement af opinion between R. Jose and R. Meir as to whether or not illegitimate children, Nethinim, and other rejected members of the house af Israel will be reinstated into the fold in the ideal era to come.243 The Babylonian Talmud decides in favor of the opinion of R. Jose, the lenient view. 244 The reading in the Yerushalmi, giving a view af R. Joseph in an apparent contradiction to the view of R. Joseph in the Babylonian Talmud, is doubtful and untrustworthy.245 Professor L. Ginzberg has called my attention to the fact that in his Yerushalmi Fragments, 246 that statement is not found at all. Besides, in the Babylonian Talmud, R. Joseph remarks clearly and definitely that Samuel was right in stating that the final law is to follow the attitude of R. Jose. Other rabbinic sources support the opinion of R. Jose that all lines of demarcation will be removed among

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the various groups of Israel in the ideal era to come.247 Furthermore, multitudes of proselytes will be absorbed and assimilated.248 With the exeeption of two or three statements, all rabbinic sources, not only favor proselytes at the advent of the ideal era, but even suggest that only through the method of proselytizing, the Jewish Utopia of an ideal era on earth will be realized.249 Thus, by coming in contaet commercially with Palestine, especially with Jerusalem, the seat of the Jewish Utopia, the nations and rulers of the world will be greatly impressed by the spiritual unity of Israel, so that they will be converted and will join Israel.250 Again, in the present era, only individuals were proselytized. But in the era to come, all the righteous will be brought under the influence of God's presence, as it says, "For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent '. 261 The statement that no proselytes will be accepted in the Messianic period, refers only to such candidates who may be attracted by selfish purposes rather than by Israel's moral and ethical teachings.252 Similarly, the view that proselytes prevent or cause the delay of the advent of the Messianic era, alludes to converts who do not live up to the ideology and moral standards of Israel.253 In other words, only those who are convinced of Israel's divine purpose in the world, will be welcome to join Israel in the upbuilding of an ideally spiritual life on earth.254
Israel, the ideal, righteous people, will thus become spiritually the masters of the world, and will spread their moral and spiritual influence from one end of the world to the other. 255 All the nations will then believe in one, righteous God, as it says, "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the Lord be one, and His name one".256 Righteousness will eventually be to universal happiness what the implements of the workmen are to his work. The very atmosphere of the new social order of the Universal


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State will be saturated with justice and righteousness. Hence, with the advent of the Messiah, who will usher in the ideal era, all the national ensigns and laws, which are barriers to genuine international peace, brotherhood, and the happiness of mankind, will gradually disappear. Only the Messianic flag, the symbol of knowledge, peace, tranquilIity of the individual mind, will remain, and all the nations will center round that emblem.257 In the present era every one recognizes his own standard, or flag, and through that standard, the individual identifies himself with the subdivisions of mankind. But in the ideal era, all these castes, divisions, and subdivisions will not exist. All will recognize one flag or standard, bearing the name of God.258 Israel is, therefore, looking forward to that day, when the prophecy of Isaiah will be realized: "Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations, and set up Mine ensign to the peoples." 259 There will no longer be a problem of militarism, preparedness, fortifications, barracks, armies, navies, immigration, tariffs, and their like. That problem will be a pure matter of past history and intellectual curiosity. Nations, with their respective cultures, will not only tolerate each other but will appreciate each other's cultural and intellectual backgrounds and traditions.
The worId wiIl be one open city, free for intercourse of trade, migration, and education. Genuine liberty and freedom will be the watchwords of the new social order in the world. The whole earth will be for the whole human race.
The nations will consequently change their attitude toward Israel. Instead of despising Israel, they will pay their due respect to the ideal people. This will be in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah: "Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy one, to him who is abhorred of nations, to a servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise, princes and they shall prostrate themselves." 260 For the first time in the history of Israel, since their dispersion, they will secure their

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real liberty and freedom, and will fear no nation or individual. No people will rule, or have power, over the ideal people.261 Every Israelite will walk upright and will fear no creature on earth.262 Israel, the vineyard of the Lord, hitherto trodden upon and despised, will now be duly respected and appreciated.263 The nations will finally realize that after all the dispersion of the Jews for centuries among them was morally and spiritually a blessing for mankind. The world will, therefore, unite in praising the Lord for IsraeI's universalism.264 Hence, all the nations on earth will gladly aid in the bringing about the redemption of Israel; 265 and they will be happy on the day of that momentous, historie event of Israel's redemption.266 These nations will thus proclaim: "The Lord hath done great things with these." 267 To the delight and astonishment of the Jew and Gentile alike, Israel wilI now live in peace and safety. Mankind will be united in the opinion that this could be accomplished only by the will and plan of God.268

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