THE JEWISH UTOPIA
MICHAEL HIGGER, Ph. D.
THE LORD BALTIMORE PRESS
THE HOLY CITY
We are now in a position to discuss the nature of the ideal city of Jerusalem as pictured in the rabbinic Utopia. The rebuilding of that city is a part of the plan of the ideal country, Zion. Jerusalem will be the capital of Zion. What Zion will mean to the world, Jerusalem will mean to Zion. In Jewish liturgy, therefore, prayers for both, as a rule, follow each other.447
If Zion, the spiritual and moral center of the world, is to be built up as a model country of divine and godly living, how much more so should Jerusalem be so built, the city of God and the capital of Zion! The rabbis, therefore, in following the footsteps of the prophets, allude frequently to the new Jerusalem as the everlasting city to be built and comforted by God, the universal Lord; as the seat of the Lord, which is to be recognized as such by all the nations of the earth; as the divine light of the world; as the habitation of the Divine Presence; as the mountain of the Lord's house; and, finally, as the city, the name of which shall be, "The Lord is there", or, "The city of the Lord ".448 Jerusalem is personified as the bride, waiting for the arrival of God, her bridegroom. Thus, by being told that merely the sons and daughters of Israel are returning to her, she would not be entirely happy. Her happiness and gladness will, however, be complete when she is informed of the coming of the King Himself.449 According to R. Johanan, therefore, the Holy One will come first to the ideal Jerusalem in Zion, and afterwards to the heavenly Jerusalem.450
The city of Jerusalem, furthermore, will be a model city, in which God's righteousness will function. This will be in keeping with the prophecy of Zephaniah: "The Lord who is righteous is in the midst of her; He will not do unrighteousness. Every morning doth He bring His right to light; it faileth not." 451 The horns, the emblem of strength and glory of the righteous, shall thus be lifted up at Jerusalem.452 That ideal city will become a central place of judgment, through which the upright and just will be guided to everlasting bliss and happiness, and the unrighteous will be led to their doom. Consequently, the universal Kingdom of God, or the Utopia of the righteous, will be ushered in by the righteous at Jerusalem.453 Since the city will be the capital of the land of the righteous, its inhabitants will be a selected group af upright and just. In the terminology of R. Johanan, the Jerusalem of the present era, any one may enter; but the Jerusalem of the ideal era, only those who will be invited will be permitted to enter.454 Eventually, it will become the welcome home of the ideal Israel.455 In the future, the Lord will thus bless Israel, as it says: The Lord bless thee, O habitation of righteousness, O mountain of holiness.456
The leadership in Jerusalem will likewise be enhanced, in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah: "I will also make thy officers peace, and righteousness thy magistrates" 457
The Lord will grant the city of Jerusalem its full and real freedom.458 Hence, the ideal city will, in addition to holiness and righteousness, signify peace. Jerusalem will be comforted through the peace of her people.459 "The heart of the fathers shall be turned to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers."460 That ideal city will cause all Israel, the holy people, to be comrades and genuine friends.461 With these three qualifications of holiness, righteousness, and peace, attained, Jerusalem will be the world's center of joy and happiness. Abominations and sensuality will not
exist in that community.462 The Lord, likewise, will, in the words of Isaiah, "swallow up death for ever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces".463 The prophecy of Zechariah will then be fulfilled: "There shall yet old men and old women sit in the broad places of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for every age. And the broad places of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the broad places thereof."464 Hence, when the Lord rebuilds Jerusalem, He will bring unto her all joy and gladness. 465
For Jerusalem, in addition, will be a city of plenty; it will contain the best healing water, suited for bringing forth fish and for aiding the land to bring forth the best fruit in abund- ance; diseases and physical deformities will thereby be greatly decreased.466 That ideal city will also possess the precious stones and pearls in abundance.467 This will have a favorable, influence of peace among men. By visiting Jerusalem, where these valuables will be lying, spread all over the roads and streets of the city, people, greedy and quarrelsome because of their desire to acquire wealth, will now realize the pettiness of their desires, and the unreasonableness af their enmities.468 Furthermore, Jerusalem will be widened, and beautified in its physical appearance, so that the whole world will praise her for her beauty and attractiveness.469 According to R. Johanan, who was the greatest of the rabbinic dreamers of an ideal Jerusalem, the following prophecy of Isaiah refers to the Jerusalem of the future: "I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia-tree, and the myrtle, and the oil-tree; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane-tree, and the larch together."470
Jerusalem will, moreover, become the metropolis of the world. The highways of all the countries in the world will lead directly to that city of material and spiritual bliss.471 In the terminology of the author of one of the Sibylline Books,
Jerusalem will be set as the jewel of the world.472 In keeping with the prophecy of Jeremiah, "all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem". 473 Representatives of all the different races in the world will be gathered together there, demonstrating in their brotherly and friendly intercourse, the only true spirit af love and democracy. The non-Jewish peoples beholding the spiritual glories and accomplishments of Israel at Jerusalem, will eventually turn to follow the ideal righteous people in leading the world into the path of righteousness. Isaiah's prophecy will thus be realized: "And nations shall walk at thy light, and kings at the brightness of thy rising."474 All those who have missed the presence of Jerusalem, and have mourned for her, even God, the angels, the celestial bodies, heaven and earth, and other natural objects in the world, as well as the righteous of the world - they all will share in the joy of the rebuilt city.475
When all the above mentioned conditions of an ideal Jerusalem are fulfilled, the Kingdom of God on earth will be established.476 For, the name of God will be universally sanctified, only when the exiled will have been gathered unto a rebuilt Jerusalem.477 It is for this reason that the rabbinic sources allude frequently to the gathering of the exiled into the new Jerusalem.478 Israel thus says: "As the Kingdom of the Holy One will be about to appear in this world, I shall go to Jerusalem."479 The Lord will, therefore, cause His Divine Presence to dwell among Israel in the new Jerusalem, in order to make known to the whole world the universal, divine purpose of the ideal people of Israel.480 Since the habitation of Israel in the New Jerusalem is essential for the functioning of the Kingdom of God, Israel will dwell there safely, everlastingly, and happily. They will never again be uprooted from the ideal city of God;481 For, Jerusalem, like Zion, was selected by God for that very purpose of establishing there His Kingdom on earth.482
Next to the ideal Jerusalem described in the last chapter of Ezekiel, we find in another prerabbinic source a beautiful description of the ideal city in the ideal world, which is more outspoken in the universal character of the ideology of the New Jerusalem than Ezekiel's description. We refer to the song of the new Jerusalem as found in the Book of Tobit, one of the oldest Apocryphal writings. We give here the version of the song as rendered by Charles:
I exalt my God, and my soul shall rejoice in
the King of Heaven;
Of his greatness let all men tell,
And let them give him thanks in Jerusalem.
O Jerusalem, thou holy city! he will chastise
thee for the works of thy hands,
And wil1 again have mercy on the sons of the
Give thanks to the Lord with goodness, and
bless the everlasting King,
That thy tabernacle may be builded in thee
again with joy,
And that he may make glad in thee all that
And love in thee all that are miserable and all
the generations of eternity.
A bright light shall shine unto all the ends
of the earth;
Many nations shall come from afar,
And the inhabitants of the utmost ends of
the earth unto thy holy name;
With their gifts also in their hands unto the
King of heaven,
Generations of generations shall utter rejoicing
And thy name that is elect unto the generations
Cursed shall be all they that shall speak a
Cursed shall be all they that demolish thee,
And throw down thy walls;
And all they that overthrow thy towers,
And set on fire thy habitations;
But blessed shall be all they that fear thee
Then go and be exceeding glad for the sons
of the righteous:
For they all shall be gathered together,
And bless the everlasting Lord.
Blessed shall they be that love thee;
And blessed shall they be
That shall rejoice for thy peace:
And blessed shall be all the men
That shall sorrow for thee
For all thy chastisements:
Because they shall rejoice in thee
And shall see all thy joy for ever.
My soul doth bless the Lord the great King;
For Jerusalem shall be builded again as his
house unto all the ages.
Happy shall I be if the remnant of my seed
comes to see thy glory
And give thanks unto the King of heaven.
And the gates of Jerusalem shall be builded
with sapphire and emerald,
And all thy walls with precious stone.
The towers of Jerusalem shall be builded with gold,
And their battlements with pure gold.
The streets of Jerusalem shall be paved
With carbuncle and stones of Ophir.
And the gates of Jerusalem shall utter hymns of gladness
And all her houses shall say, Halleluiah.483
Table of Contents