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MIDRASH WA-YOSHA (END)

Midrash Wa-yosha is an extended homiletic exposition of the biblical Song at the Sea (Exod

15:1-18), the final portion of which focuses upon eschatological themes familiar from earlier apocalyptic

works like Sefer Zerubbabel and the Secrets of R. imn b. Yoai. Its name derives from the narrative

introduction to the biblical song contained in Exod 14:30: on that day the Lord rescued () Israel from

the hand of Egypt , an act of national deliverance which R. Saadya Gaon labeled the first redemption 1

and which is paradigmatically destined to be repeated at the End of Days. 2

In addition to the aforementioned apocalyptic sources, this work also depends upon and develops

pericopae found in Pirqe de R. Eliezer, Pesiqta Rabbati, and the Chronicles of Moses. It thus probably

should be dated to the final half of the eleventh or beginning of the twelfth century. It was first published

1
S. Landauer, ed., Kitb al-Amnt wal-Itiqdt von Saadja b. Jsuf al-Fajjm (Leiden: Brill, 1880),
224.19; cf. also 225.1, 13-14. See Saadia Gaon, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions (trans. Samuel
Rosenblatt; Yale Judaica Series 1; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948), 282-83.
2
Note Saadyas comparison of the chief features which will distinguish the final from the first
redemption of Israel (ibid.). See Mic 7:15, the probable exegetical source for the conceptual paralleling of
Exodus and Eschaton, and the examples cited by Louis Ginzberg, An Unknown Jewish Sect (New York:
The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1976), 234-38; Patricia Crone and Michael Cook,
Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 158-59
nn.44-46; Oded Irshai, Dating the Eschaton: Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic Calculations in Late
Antiquity, in Apocalyptic Time (ed. Albert I. Baumgarten; Leiden: Brill, 2000), 124-29. Christian
exploitation of the same paradigm is visible in Lactantius, Div. Inst. 7.15 (cited ibid., 140). For a
fascinating chronomessianic connection of the emperor Julians failed attempt to rebuild the Temple in 363
CE and the 430-year period of Egyptian servitude (cf. Exod 12:40-42), see ibid., 142-44.

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in Constantinople in 1519 within a collection of eighteen so-called apocryphal texts. 3 The present

translation relies upon the edition published by Adolph Jellinek. 4

The Lord will reign (Exod 15:18). Moses said to Israel: You have seen all the miracles,

mighty feats, and marvels that the Lord has done for you. Even more is he planning to do for you in the

future age. The world to come will not be like the present world: the present world has wars and troubles,

as well as the evil impulse, Satan, and the Angel of Death who have authority to rule in (this) world. But

the world to come will be free of troubles and hatred, Satan and the Angel of Death will be absent, there

will be no lamentations or subjugation, and the evil impulse will exist no more, as Scripture attests, He

will destroy death forever, and the Lord will wipe the tears from every face (Isa 25:8), and it is written on

that day, behold, this is our God: we have waited for Him, and He will deliver us (Isa 25:9).

As the days of the Messiah draw near, Gog and Magog will come up against the land of Israel, for

he will hear that Israel has no ruler and dwells unconcerned (about foreign attacks). Immediately he will

take with him seventy-one nation(s) and come up to Jerusalem, thinking 5 Pharaoh was a fool when he

gave the command to kill (only) the males and leave the females. 6 Balaq was a simpleton, for he sought to

curse them, but he did not realize that their God would (instead) bless them. 7 Haman was insane for he

wanted to kill them, but he did not realize that their God would be able to deliver them. 8 However, I will

not act thusly; (instead), I will go up and do battle with their God first, and only after that will I kill them,

3
(Constantinople: Astruq de Toulon, 1519), 76b-86a; the final eschatological portion translated
here begins on 85b. For a listing of the contents of this work (which also includes an edition of Sefer
Zerubbabel and an edition of Ten Signs), see M[oritz] Steinschneider, ed., Catalogus librorum hebraeorum
in bibliotheca Bodleiana (Berlin: Ad. Friedlaender, 1852-60), 203.
4
Adolph Jellinek, ed., Bet ha-Midrasch: Sammlung kleiner Midraschim und vermischter Abhandlungen
aus der jdischen Literatur (6 vols.; Leipzig, 1853-77; repr., Jerusalem: Bamberger & Wahrmann, 1938),
1:35-57; only 1:55-57 is translated here. An annotated edition is available in Yehudah Even-Shmuel,
Midreshey Geullah (2d ed.; Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1954), 93-98. For further discussion of this
midrash, see Leopold Zunz and anokh Albeck, Haderashot be-Yisrael (2d ed.; Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik,
1954), 141-42; Moshe D. Herr, Midrashim, Smaller, EncJud 16:1517.
5
A loose parallel to the remainder of this paragraph can be found in Aggadat Bereshit (see Jellinek, BHM
4:5); for an English translation, see Lieve M. Teugels, Aggadat Bereshit (Jewish and Christian Perspectives
Series 4; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 8-9.
6
Exod 1:15-16, 22.
7
Num 22:1-24:25.
8
Esth 3:5-15; 6:1-10:3.

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for Scripture says the kings of the earth stand up together, and rulers take counsel together against the

Lord and His anointed one (Ps 2:2). 9

The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to him: Wicked one! You wish to do battle with Me? By

your life, I will indeed do battle with you! Immediately the Holy One, blessed be He, will rain down on

him stones of hail which are stored in the heavens and strike them a crushing blow, as Scripture states: and

this will be the blow which the Lord will strike the Gentiles when they amass armies against Jerusalem

his flesh will rot where he is standing, his eyes will decay in their sockets, and each ones tongue will rot in

their mouths (Zech 14:12).

After that another king will arise, a wicked one and strong of face ( ), 10 and he will wage

war with Israel for three months. His name is Armilos, and these are his signs: 11 he will be bald, with one

of his eyes small and the other large. His right arm is short, and his left arm is two and a half cubits long.

His forehead will be leprous, and his right ear will be closed up and the (other) one open. Whenever a

person comes to tell him good things, he turns his closed up ear toward him, but if a person wants to speak

wickedly, he turns his open ear toward him. 12 He will come up to Jerusalem and kill the Messiah of the

lineage of Joseph, as Scripture attests and they shall look to Me about the one whom they pierced, and they

shall mourn for him like one who mourns an only child (Zech 12:10). After that the Messiah of the

9
Apparently the order in which the adversaries are listed ( against the Lord [first] and [then] His
anointed one) is the pertinent clue for Gog and Magog. For the strategy criticized by Gog and Magog, see
Midr. Tan., Pequdey 4:
...
' '
R. iyya said, To what might we compare the Gentile nations? They are like a man
who detests the king and who seeks to incite revolt against him but who is unable (to attract attention).
What does he do? He goes to his (the kings) statue and seeks to topple it similarly the Gentile nations
seek to incite rebellion against the Holy One, blessed be He, but they are unable (to wage war directly
against Him). Instead, they come and fight against Israel, (as) David mentioned: the kings of the earth
stand up together, etc. (Ps 2:2). An aphorism: (it is like) one who cannot beat the donkey so he beats the
saddle instead! The concluding aphorism is actually a quotation from Petronius, Satyricon 45; see Saul
Lieberman, Greek in Jewish Palestine: Studies in the Life and Manners of Jewish Palestine in the II-IV
Centuries C.E. (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1942), 153.
10
See Dan 8:23.
11
Interestingly the peculiar legend about the unnatural birth of Armilos is missing. See also Samuel
Krauss, Das Leben Jesu nach jdischen Quellen (Berlin: S. Calvary & Co., 1902; repr., Hildesheim: Georg
Olms Verlag, 1994), 216. Note that unlike the dynastic apocalypses associated with the name of R.
imon ben Yoai, this interpretive tradition equates the king strong of face with Armilos.
12
Salo W. Baron states that this particular motif makes its first appearance here, and that it is indebted to
the pre-Islamic ethical biases of Zoroastrianism and Judaism; cf. his A Social and Religious History of the
Jews (18 vols.; 2d ed.; Philadelphia and New York: Jewish Publication Society and Columbia University
Press, 1952-84), 5:358-59 n.10.

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lineage of David will come, regarding which Scripture affirms and behold with the clouds of heaven one

like a mortal man (Dan 7:13), and it is written afterwards he will have authority and royal dignity (Dan

7:14). He will kill Armilos the wicked, as Scripture attests: he will slay the wicked one with the breath of

his lips (Isa 11:4).

Then the Holy One, blessed be He, will gather Israelthose who have been dispersed here and

thereas Scripture says: Let Me whistle for them and I will gather them, when I have redeemed them, and

they will be as numerous as they formerly were (Zech 10:8). In Jerusalem will be suspended seventy-two

precious stones which will shine from one end of the world to the other, and the nations of the world will

come to that light, as it is written: the nations will come to your light, and rulers (will come) to the luster

of your shine (Isa 60:3). The Holy One, blessed be He, will lower the Temple from heaventhe same one

which the Holy One, blessed be He, showed to Moses, as Scripture states: You will bring them and plant

them upon the mount of Your territory; a place for Your dwelling have You made, O Lord; a Temple, my

Lord, Your hands have established (Exod 15:17). Israel shall dwell there for two thousand years,13 and

they will feast (upon the flesh of) Leviathan. 14

At the end of the two thousand years, the Holy One, blessed be He, will seat Himself upon a throne

of judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. 15 Immediately the heavens and the earth will be displaced and

the sun and the moon embarrassed, as Scripture states: the moon will be ashamed, and the sun

embarrassed (Isa 24:23). From whence do we learn that (final) judgment will be pronounced on the third

day? Scripture attests: He will revitalize us for two days; on the third day He will stand us up and we will

live before Him (Hos 6:2)this (verse) refers to the (final) judgment. The Holy One, blessed be He, will

bring (before Him) every nation and language-group and say: What did you serve in the world that has

departed, and whom did you worship? They will respond: Idols of silver and gold. The Holy One,

blessed be He, will say to them: Pass through the fire there, and should your god(s) be able to rescue you,

13
A reflection of the baraita attributed to the school of Elijah ( ) in b. Sanh. 97a:
the messianic era will last two thousand years. See also b. Abod. Zar. 9a; Pesiq. Rab. 1
(Ish-Shalom, 4b) and Midr. Teh. 90.17, where the notion of a 2000-year messianic era is attributed to R.
Joshua. Note especially the discussions of Ephraim E. Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (2
vols.; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1979), 1:677-78, 2:1000-1001; Irshai, Dating the Eschaton, 130-32.
14
Compare 1 En. 60:24; 4 Ezra 6:49-52; 2 Bar. 29:4; and, in general, the remarks and references supplied
by Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (7 vols.; Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of
America, 1909-38), 5:43-46.
15
See Joel 4:2, 12. This section is heavily indebted to the Secrets of R. imn b. Yoai.

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he will rescue! Immediately they will pass through and be immolated, as Scripture says: the wicked will

return to Sheol, all the nations who have forgotten God (Ps 9:18). Then Israel shall come, and the Holy

One, blessed be He, will say to them: Whom have you worshipped? Immediately they will respond:

Indeed, You, our Father! For Abraham did not know us, nor did Israel recognize us, but You, O Lord, are

our Father; our Eternal Deliverer is Your name! (Isa 63:16). Immediately the Holy One, blessed be He,

will rescue them from the sentence of Gehinnom and they will dwell in the Garden of Eden and enjoy its

fruits, as Scripture states: and the poor will inherit the earth and enjoy abundant prosperity (Ps 37:11).

Then the Holy One, blessed be He, will renovate the heavens and the earth for them, as Scripture says: for

behold, I create new heavens and a new earth (Isa 25:17).

When the Holy One, blessed be He, renews the world, He will arrange the orders of the righteous

and the orders of the pious, and He will do similarly for every generation, created entity, and breathing

organism. The earth which He is destined to renew will bring forth trees and all types of choice fruits, and

everything will live forever and ever. The One who has performed miracles and marvels during these

(present) days and at this (present) timeHe is the One who will perform miracles and marvels for us

during these (future) days and at this (future) time! He will gather us from the four ends of the earth and

lead us to Jerusalem, where He will gladden us within it and we will say Amen, Selah!

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