According to classical Jewish sources, the Hebrew year 6000 marks the latest time for the initiation of the Messianic Age. The Talmud,[2] Midrash,[3] and Zohar[4] state that the date by which the Messiah will appear is 6,000 years from creation.

According to tradition, the Hebrew calendar started at the time of Creation, placed at 3761 BCE.[5] The current (2022/2023) Hebrew year is 5783. By this calculation, the end of the 6000th year would occur at nightfall of 16 September 2240[6] on the Gregorian calendar.

AnalysisEdit

The belief that the seventh millennium will correspond to the Messianic Age is founded upon a universalized application of the concept of Shabbat. Based on Psalms 92:1, one of "God's days" is believed to correspond to 1000 years of normal human existence. Just as (in the Bible) God created the world in six days of work and sanctified the seventh day as a day of rest,[7] it is believed that six millennia of normal life will be followed by one millennium of rest. Just as Shabbat is the sanctified 'day of rest' and peace, a time representing joyful satisfaction with the labors completed within the previous 6 days,[8] so too the seventh millennium will correspond to a universal 'day of rest' and peace, a time of 'completeness' of the 'work' performed in the previous six millennia.

The Talmud also draws parallels between the Shmita (Sabbatical) year and the seventh millennium: For six millennia the earth will be worked, while during the seventh millennium the world will remain 'fallow'.[2]

According to two opinions in the Talmud (Rav Katina and Abaye), the world will be harov (ruined or desolate[9]) during the seventh millenium, suggesting a less positive outcome.

The reconciliation between the traditional Judaic age of the world and the current scientifically derived age of the world is beyond the scope of this article, with some taking a literal approach (as with Young Earth creationism), and others (such as Gerald Schroeder) an approach conciliatory with secular scientific positions. Contrary to popular belief, the Jewish calendar begins with the creation of Adam, not the creation of the universe.[10]

SourcesEdit

Talmud and midrashEdit

The Talmud comments:

Rav Katina said: “Six thousand years the world will exist, and one [thousand] it shall be desolate (harov), as it is written, ‘And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.’ (Isaiah 2:11)”

Abaye said: “Two [thousand years it will be] desolate, as it is written: ‘After two days will He revive us, on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His presence. ’ (Hosea 6:2).

A tanna taught in accordance with Rav Katina: “Just as the Shmita year occurs one year out of seven years, so too does the world have one thousand years out of seven thousand that are fallow (mushmat), as it is written, ‘And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day’ (Isaiah 2:11); and further it is written, ‘A psalm and song for the Shabbat day’ (Psalms 92:1) – meaning the day that is altogether Shabbat – and also it is said, ‘For one thousand years in Your [God's] eyes are but a day that has passed.’ (Psalms 90:4)”

A tanna from the school of Eliyahu taught: “The world consists of six thousand years: two thousand unformed (tohu), two thousand of Torah, two thousand years the era of the messiah - but due to our many sins many of those have already been lost.”[2]

The Midrash in Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer comments:

Six eons for going in and coming out, for war and peace. The seventh eon is entirely Shabbat and rest for life everlasting.[3]

KabbalahEdit

The Zohar states:

In the 600th year of the sixth thousand [i.e. 5600, or 1839-1840 CE], the gates of wisdom on high and the wellsprings of lower wisdom will be opened. This will prepare the world to enter the seventh thousand, just as man prepares himself toward sunset on Friday for the Sabbath.[11]

The Zohar explains further:

The redemption of Israel will come about through the mystic force of the letter “Vav” [which has the numerical value of six], namely, in the sixth millennium.... Happy are those who will be left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter the Shabbat, which is the seventh millennium; for that is a day set apart for the Holy One on which to effect the union of new souls with old souls in the world.[12]

The Zohar also states that that maintains that each of the seven days of creation in Genesis chapter one corresponds to one millennium of the existence of natural creation.[12] In this framework Shabbat (the day of rest), corresponds to the seventh millennium, the age of universal 'rest' - the Messianic Era.

Rishonim and AcharonimEdit

Elaborating on the theme of the seventh millennium representing the Messianic Age are numerous early and late Jewish scholars, including Rashi,[13] the Ramban,[14] Chaim Vital,[15] Isaac Abarbanel,[16] Abraham Ibn Ezra,[17] Rabbeinu Bachya,[18] Rabbi Yaakov Culi (author of Me'am Lo'ez), the Vilna Gaon,[19] the Lubavitcher Rebbe,[20] the Ramchal,[21] and Aryeh Kaplan.[22]

The acceptance of the idea of the seventh millennium representing the Messianic Age across the Ashkenazi - Sephardi divide, the Chassidim - Misnagdim divide, and across the rational Talmud and mystical Kabbalah perspectives, shows the centrality of this idea in traditional Judaism.

RashiEdit

Rashi draws a parallel between the rest experienced presently on Shabbat, and that which will be experienced in the seventh millennium: “The world is decreed to last for six thousand years, as the days of the week, the seventh day of the week is Shabbat; so too in the seventh millennium, there will there be tranquility in the world.”[13]

RambanEdit

Ramban wrote that the sixth millennium will see the coming of the Messiah and the seventh millennium will be the Shabbat of the 'World to Come', wherein the righteous will be resurrected and rejoice. He argued that Genesis 2:3 (“And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it”) refers to His blessing the World to Come which begins at the seventh millennium.[23]

BachyaEdit

Rabbeinu Bahya wrote that the seventh millennium will follow the Messiah and the resurrection, and will be a time of “great eternal delight” for those who merit resurrection. This being the case, he explained, just as one prepares during the six days of the week for the Shabbat, so too one should prepare during the six thousand years for the seventh.[18]

AbarbanelEdit

Don Isaac Abarbanel wrote that similar to the structure of the week of Creation, so too the world will exist for six thousand years, with the seventh millennium being a Hefsek (break) and a Shvita (rest), like Shabbat, Shmita, and Yovel.[16]

Chaim VitalEdit

Chaim Vital wrote that whoever wants to know what will happen in the end days, should study the first seven days of creation. Each day of creation represents 1000 years, and the seventh 'day', beginning in the year 6000, represents the day of rest.[15]

Rabbi Yaakov CuliEdit

In a section of Me'am Lo'ez elaborating on the parallels between the Exodus from Egypt and the Final Redemption, Rabbi Yaakov Culi writes: "It seems logical to assume that prayers said today for the redemption are more acceptable than those said in earlier times... In earlier times, the redemption was far in the future. Therefore, in order for their prayers to be have any effect, people had to pray intensely. In those days, people were a thousand years from the time in which the redemption had to take place. Now, however, we are only 500, or 200, years away from the time, and the closer it comes, the easier it is for prayers to be accepted".[24] In the footnote to this statement, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan writes: "This was written in 5492 (1732). Since there was a tradition that the Messiah would have to come before the [end of the] year 6000 (2240), there was only [about] 500 years left until the redemption would have to come. There was also a tradition that the redemption would have to begin after 200 years [into the final 500 years], that is by 5700 ([i.e., 1939-]1940). This would seem to lend support to the contention that the formation of the modern state of Israel is the beginning of the redemption".[25]

Vilna GaonEdit

The Vilna Gaon wrote:

Each day of Creation alludes to a thousand years of our existence, and every little detail that occurred on these days will have its corresponding event happen at the proportionate time during its millennium.[19]

The footsteps of Messiah (עִקְּבוֹת מְשִׁיחַ) began the first hour of Friday morning in the sixth millennium, that is the year Five Hundred [i.e. 1739-1740 CE], and from hour to hour the footsteps have continued to progress from many aspects [cf. M Avot 1:1; BT Sanhedrin 38a]. As is known, every hour consists of forty-one years and eight months [alt., 41.666], counting from the time that the bonds on the Messiah’s heels were loosened, as it says, You have loosened my bonds (Psalms 116:16), and as revealed in: A decree He declared it for Joseph… ‘I delivered his shoulder from the burden his palms were loosed from the hod’ (Psalms 81:6-7). Beginning with the second hour [i.e., from 8 months into 5541 (i.e., 1781 CE)], the entire House of Israel took the stage, both as a whole, and with regard to each individual member of the nation, as an order from above, of Messiah of the beginning of redemption, namely, Messiah Son of Joseph.[26]

RamchalEdit

The Ramchal wrote that the seventh millennium will be a time of rest, which will be merited by the righteous.[27]

Lubavitcher RebbeEdit

The Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson explained that in the Hebrew year 5750 (i.e., 1989-1990 CE), the millennial 'time-clock' reached the time of the 'eve' of Shabbat; that is to say, the equivalent to Friday afternoon before Shabbat.[28] Just as solar noon marks the time when three-fourths (18 of 24 hours) of the Jewish day has passed, the year 5750 marks when three-fourths of the sixth millennium has passed.

In Jewish law, it is recommended to avoid normal work for several hours (either 2.5 hours or 5.5 hours) preceding Shabbat so as to reserve time for Shabbat preparations.[29] By analogy, one might prepare for the coming of the messiah prior to the year 6000; 2.5 or 5.5 hours would translate to approximately 104 or 229 years respectively, thus to the year 5896 (i.e., 2135-2136 CE) or 5771 (i.e., 2010-2011 CE).

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, as others, maintained that the Messiah must arrive at, or before, the onset of the Shabbat, the year 6000.[28]

The end of the year 2023 CE falls during the Hebrew year 5783, which marks 12:47pm on the Millennial Friday.

Shlomo ElyashivEdit

Kabbalist Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv wrote in Drushei Olam HaTohu:

...This is why so much time must transpire from the time of creation until the time of the Tikkun (lit. 'correction', Moshiach's coming). All the forces of Gevurot (strict judgement) are rooted in the six SefirotChesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod—which are the six days of creation... and also the 6,000 years of history that the world will exist. And within [the six Sefirot] are the roots of all that will happen from the six days of creation until the Final Tikkun... We find that all that transpires is the result of the sparks from the time of Tohu, Chaos...[30]

Aryeh KaplanEdit

Aryeh Kaplan writes:

Never before has mankind been faced with such a wide range of possibilities. Never before has it had such tremendous power at its disposal, to use for good or evil... We need not belabor the point, but the past hundred years or so have brought about an increase in knowledge unsurpassed in all human history... The ultimate goal of the historic process is the perfection of society... is what we call the Messianic Age... Almost 2000 years ago, the Zohar predicted, "In the 600th year of the sixth thousand, the gates of wisdom on high and the wellsprings of lower wisdom will be opened. This will prepare the world to enter the seventh thousand, just as man prepares himself toward sunset on Friday for the Sabbath. It is the same here. And a mnemonic for this is (Gen 7:11), 'In the 600th year... all the foundations of the great deep were split'. Here we see a clear prediction that in the Jewish year 5600 (or [1839-]1840 [CE]), the wellsprings of lower wisdom would be opened and there would be a sudden expansion of secular knowledge.[22]

Esther JungreisEdit

In an interview with Israel National Radio, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis said the following:

Listen carefully, friends, to what I'm telling you. Hashem [the Name], Elokei Yisrael [the God of Israel], created this world that we are living in today in six days.

Every day was a thousand years. This world, as we know it today, cannot last beyond 6,000 years. Right now, we are in the year 5769, which means it's Erev [eve of] Shabbos of the world. By the year 6,000, Mashiach has to be here. He could come much earlier. But by the year 6,000, he has to be here. ... the Vilna Gaon said that the last war, Milchemet [war] Gog uMagog, is going to last only 12 minutes because they are going to have such weapons....

We know that the final redemption, the final Geula, it's going to be like when you left Egypt – only one-fifth of our people left Egypt. Four-fifths perished... during the plague of darkness.

So I'm appealing to every Jew. Every negative prophecy can be changed. We can bring Mashiach today. Right now, we are living in a period called Erev Shabbat.

It's Erev Shabbat, because when Mashiach will come, it will be the day that will be all Shabbat, the seventh day....

Let's bring Shabbos early, and let us to bring Shabbos with menucha [ease], with shalom [peace], with simchah [happiness] – Is it possible? Absolutely?! Every negative prophecy can be changed.[31]

ChristianityEdit

2 Peter 3:8 of the King James Version of the Bible states, "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." St. Irenaeus of Lyons concludes from this equivalence of 1000 years with one day, also found in Psalms, that "...in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded... in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousandth year."[32]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Swords Into Plowshares, United Nations Cyber School Bus, United Nations, UN.org, 2001, retrieved on: 4 August 2007
  2. ^ a b c Sanhedrin 97a; part of this passage is reproduced in Rosh Hashana 31a and Avodah Zarah 9a
  3. ^ a b Pirkei De-Rabbi Eliezer, 18:12
  4. ^ Zohar (1:117a); Zohar Vayera 119a
  5. ^ World Book Encyclopedia, C-Ch, entry under 'Calendar'
  6. ^ "Hebrew Date Converter - 29th of Elul, 6000 | Hebcal Jewish Calendar". www.hebcal.com. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  7. ^ Exodus 20:10, etc.
  8. ^ Genesis 2:3; Isaiah 58:13–14
  9. ^ Jastrow dictionary: חָרוֹב
  10. ^ Slifkin, Natan (2012). The Challenge of Creation. Gefen. p. 178. ISBN 978-965-229-594-1. OCLC 824522354. Contrary to popular belief, the Jewish calendar does not begin with the creation of the world. Instead it begins with the creation of man.
  11. ^ Zohar 1:117a
  12. ^ a b Zohar, Vayera 119a
  13. ^ a b Rashi, commentary to Avodah Zarah 9a s.v ששת אלפים שנים
  14. ^ Ramban, Genesis 2:3
  15. ^ a b Likutim Chadashim - Drush 7
  16. ^ a b Abarbanel, Genesis 2:3
  17. ^ Ramban quoting Ibn Ezra at Leviticus (25:2)
  18. ^ a b R. Bachya, Genesis 2:3
  19. ^ a b Safra D'Tzniusa, Ch. 5
  20. ^ Sefer HaSichos 5750:254
  21. ^ Derech Hashem 4:7:2
  22. ^ a b Aryeh Kaplan, The Real Messiah, NCSY, Mesorah Publications 2002. Republished in The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology volume 1, p.318.
  23. ^ Ramban, Shaar HaGemul, ch. 58
  24. ^ The Torah Anthology Me'am Lo'ez by Rabbi Yaakov Culi Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan Exodus II page 117 Moznaim Publishing Corporation 1979
  25. ^ The Torah Anthology Me'am Lo'ez by Rabbi Yaakov Culi, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Exodus II, page 381, footnote 71. Moznaim Publishing Corporation, 1979.
  26. ^ Rabbi Hillel Rivlin in the name of the Gaon of Vilna. Voice of the Turtle Dove 1:4.
  27. ^ Derech Hashem 1:3:9, Derech Hashem 4:7:2
  28. ^ a b Hadran on the Mishneh Torah, 5745, and Sichos Shabbos Parshas Vayeitzei, 5752
  29. ^ Preparations for Shabbos: Laws of Friday
  30. ^ Drushei Olam HaTohu 2:151b
  31. ^ "'It's Erev Shabbos of the World'". 27 October 2008.
  32. ^ Against Heresies, Book V Chapter XXVIII, No. 3