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As explained in part one of this study, there will only be one "HaMashiach", that is Mashiach ben David. He will be a Torah observant descendant of King David, of the tribe of Judah, and he will meet all of the requirements of this holy office. Don't let the term 'two messiahs' confuse you: Two anointed tzadikim, one THE Messiah.
As discussed elsewhere on this site, while the text is not generally regarded as strictly Messianic, in his commentary on Zechariah 12:10 our great sage Rashi alludes to Mashiach ben Yosef as well as a Mashiach ben David:Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplications. And they shall look to me because of those who have been thrust through [with swords], and they shall mourn over it as one mourns over an only son and shall be in bitterness, therefore, as one is embittered over a firstborn son.We know from many sources that THE Messiah will be Mashiach ben David (Isaiah 11:1 etc.), the anointed descendant of King David. So who is this talking about?
Rashi comments: as one mourns over an only son: As a man mourns over his only son. And our Sages expounded this in tractate Sukkah (52a) as referring to the Messiah, son of Yosef, who was slain.
First note that Rashi says "our Sages expounded this..." These sages were the Men of the Great Assembly. They received their information directly through the holy prophets and so we accept their statements as true. On the other hand, Rambam does not mention Mashiach ben Yosef at all, even though other notable authorities past and present do. This seems odd.
Mashiach ben Yosef will by definition be a son of Joseph. This tells us that he will arise from Ephraim, i.e. from the 10 Lost Houses that HaShem exiled from His presence due to spiritual adultery and lack of emuna. Judah (and Benjamin) alone remained of Klal Israel. This is confirmed at II Kings 17:18 when discussing how the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell before Assyria circa 710 BCE. Mashiach ben Yosef is also sometimes referred to as Mashiach ben Ephrayim, or Ephraim's anointed descendant. This mysterious and important figure is not and can not be Mashiach ben David and his tasks have not yet been accomplished. We therefore have two end time "mashiachs."
According to numerous scriptural references the "Ten Lost Houses of Israel" (collectively called Ephraim) will not be restored until the coming of Mashiach ben David (see Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 3:6-18; Hosea 1-3; Amos 9:8-10; Obadia 15-21; Micah 2:12-13; 5:3-15; Zechariah 8:13; 9 & 10; Ezekiel 34-37 etc.). Those who suggest that Mashiach ben Yosef has already come face this and other biblical problems. Likewise, had Mashiach ben David already come as some wrongly believe, then the Ten Houses would long ago have been re-established to the Holy Land. This has never happened. Even today only a small sliver of our Land has been restored and only a few people thought to be descended from the tribes of Ephraim have been identified. Neither of these foretold leaders have yet come. The prophecies remain unfulfilled.
In the months and years following the Assyrian conquest of the Israel (i.e. the Northern Kingdom) some Ten House Israelites escaped to the south and merged with the people of Judah and Benjamin. When "Judah" returned to Judea and Samaria after the Babylonian captivity, they were the people we today know as the Jew Among them are some from the ten northern houses. Today the Jews are a global extended family that collectively represent all that remains of Am Israel. Mashiach ben David will re-assemble the Twelve Houses (Tribes) of Israel and assign them each the land granted to them by HaShem to be their eternal possession in the Torah. These Ten Houses will follow Mashiach ben Yosef and he will follow Mashiach ben David, the servant of HaShem.
Mashiach ben Yosef will lead the reapportioned Ten Houses in teshuvah (repentance) and reestablish them in the lands decreed by the ancient and eternal Covenant. Once restored, they will rally behind and stand with him in the War of Gog of Magog as the Gentiles make one final attempt to genocide the Jews (Ezekiel 39:6). As Aish.com's Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller and Sara Yoheved Rigler, quoted in part one, notes however; we do not understand these things fully. We must remain alert as things develop and not make assumptions based on partial knowledge! However, we must pay close attention!
According to our sages, at some point Mashiach ben Yosef will "die." Whether ben Yosef will die of war wounds, of some sort of spiritual attack, or possibly from natural causes, is not made clear. He will prepare the way for HaMashiach and his kingdom and he will lead our forces in victory. This much appears certain. Most authorities believe that Mashiach ben David will then miraculously restore his life as sign to those who still stand in opposition. Thereafter Mashiach ben Yosef will serve as one of Messiah's chief assistants.
Sukah 52 a-b and Zohar I:25 b; III:246 b and 252 b are among the main references to Mashiach ben Yosef. Some sources refer to him as Nechemiah ben Chushiel (Pirkei Heichalot Rabaty, ch. 39; Batei Midrashot, ed. Wertheimer, vol. I, and Sefer Zerubavel, ibid., vol. II). Midrash Tehilim 60:3 adds "... who is of Ephraim, the son of Yosef." Mashiach ben Yosef remains a largely mysterious figure.
While it seems clear to me and most of the authorities I have found that Mashiach ben Yosef is a different person than Mashiach ben David, some notable authorities do not disagree on this point. Pirkei deR. Eliezer, ch. 19, calls this man "Menachem ben Ammi'el," which is the same name Zohar III:173 b and other key sources apply to Mashiach ben David. It is therefore possible to authoritatively posit that the two characters may refer to two aspects of HaMashiach's mission (although I [personally don't believe this): Possibly one during his military campaigns (which will include violence) and the other referring to his reign as Melech or King (in absolute peace). But again, our Holy Rebbe Nachman of Breslov says that Mashiach ben David will rule without military action on his part. For this reason, as well as the bulk of the information available, I believe they will be two distinct individuals.
The military victories of Mashiach ben Yosef will precede the spiritual victories of Mashiach ben David by a short time (a very few years at most, probably much less). The restoration of Ephraim will be due to the intervention of Mashiach ben David and so the time span will almost certainly overlap (all the more so if Mashiach ben David is to raise him from the dead). Everything on such topics is conjecture at best of course. Nonetheless, Mashiach ben Yosef is presented as the forerunner of Mashiach ben David and it appears that HaMashiach will raise him from dead to serve as his trusted aid (akin to a Chief of Staff perhaps).
Mashiach ben David is sometimes referred to as Moshe or King David returned due to the spark or anointing that was within them. Many Hasidim also believe that this same 'spark' burns in the heart of the thirty six tzadikim (righteous people) of each generation and that both Messiahs will be of their ranks. Mashiach ben Yosef is sometimes described as Prophet Elijah returned, based on Malachi 4:5. Both men will be extremely holy, Torah observant, and extremely powerful in their anointed service to HaShem.
Of this period Rabbi Steinsaltz, while discussing Rebbe Nachman's tale The Losing of the King's Daughter shares this:The Road to Redemption
At this very point, the ultimate crises of reality, many seekers after redemption gave up. In the rich vein of literature that deals with redemption, there are frequent descriptions of the time when the Messiah, son of Joseph (the precursor of the final Messiah, son of David), is killed, Jerusalem is destroyed again, and [the] few remaining believers flee into the wilderness [to Petra in modern day Jordan?]. This is the moment of the greatest trial of faith, and those who pass it are the remnant who will see the Redemption -- The Tales of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
Restoration of the Twelve Houses
As mentioned previously, ten of the twelve houses or tribes of Israel were "divorced" or exiled by HaShem due to spiritual adultery and lack of emuna. The prophets are clear that this condition will not be permanent. Part of repairing the world (aka Tikun Olam) will include repairing the breech between the Northern Ten Houses and the Two Southern Houses (i.e. Judah and Benjamin). Of this repair Prophet Zechariah says:Zechariah 8:20 So said the Lord of Hosts: [There will] yet [be a time] that peoples and the inhabitants of many cities shall come.Of these members of the Ten Houses Rashi tells us:
8:21 And the inhabitants of one shall go to another, saying, "Let us go to pray before the Lord and to entreat the Lord of Hosts. I, too, will go."
8:22 And many peoples and powerful nations shall come to entreat the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.
8:23 So said the Lord of Hosts: In those days, when ten men of all the languages of the nations shall take hold of the skirt of a Jewish man, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."ten men: from the seventy nations [i.e. from throughout the Diaspora]. This equals seven hundred for each corner. For the four corners of the tallit [the prayer shawl, symbolic of Klal Israel] there will be two thousand and eight hundred.This restoration will take place during the period when all the Jews will be returning to Jerusalem as ordered by HaMashiach, perhaps directed by an inner calling (Joel 2:28). This may include many who were "of Israel" but were unaware of it. It will likely include small communities from throughout Africa, the Middle East, and the East who have maintained certain traditions of their Ten House past. Many of these people consider themselves to be of Am Israel today and several have been brought to Israel. Heroic efforts are currently underway to identity and reunite them with greater Israel. This even includes subgroups like those found among the Pashtun Muslims.
Mashiach ben Yosef will gather and lead these people of Ephraim (i.e. the renewed Ten Houses) as they gather in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) our eternal capital. Then Mashiach ben David, "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah," will be enthroned on the seat of David. He will lead the people of the restored United Kingdom of Israel (as it was in David and Shlomo's time except with universal emuna). This return of Am Y'israel is one of the major prophecies and messianic requirements that obviously has yet to take place.
In 1948 Israel was partially restored. In 1967 control of Yerushalayim was restored. The lands of the Northern Houses are still in the hands of non-Israelites, however some people of the Ten Houses are NOW returning to Yerushalayim! Can the coming of HaMashiach be far away? We pray that he will soon come and restore the lands of all Twelve Houses and cause our Temple to be rebuilt! May he come soon!
According to some authorities, a final war will be fought against a man named Armilus, ruler of Edom (see R. Margolius, Malachei Elyon, part II, s.v. Armilas). Edom, according to the rabbis, refers to more than the historic place/people bearing that name. Edom is said to be the perpetual enemy of Israel (see Sifre, Beha'alotecha, par. 69, cited by Rashi on Genesis 33:4; and see also Megilah 6a). In other words, all of those Gentiles who stand against Israel are classified as Edom. This final enemy of the Jewish people will be destroyed by Mashiach ben Yosef and the wisdom of Mashiach ben David. Once all of Am Israel returns to Eretz Israel (through the process of gilgul neshamot or the rolling of souls) under the leadership of HaMashiach, then the Messianic Age will begin. Those Gentiles who stand with Israel will be blessed and through the United Kingdom of Israel the world will at long last know Peace, Truth, and security (Genesis 12:3).
Our enemy is referred to collectively as the Galut of Edom (see Bereishit Rabba 44:17; Vayikra Rabba 13:5; and parallel passages). "Edom" [i.e. all those who hate Israel] will be defeated by Mashiach -- whether by ben Yosef or ben David (Obadiah; Yoma 10a; Midrash Tehilim 6:2; and cf. Tanchuma, Bo:4), whether by force of arms or by other means (see part three of this study). This ages-long conflict of global anti-Semitism (Jew hatred) will then end, according to Pirkei deR. Eliezer ch. 28 (in the non-censored versions), with the defeat of the Ishmaelites (i.e. the Northern Arabs of Mecca and Medina: The now forming Islamic Caliphate) by "Mashiach" and his forces. The current re-emergence of the Islamic Caliphate therefore is of special interest to those who study these topics and of all who cherish civilization and personal freedom that IS is seeking to destroy and replace. While we can not say for certain, it seems likely that this final chapter in the Olam Hezeh opened in 1948 and is fast approaching its conclusion and Persia (Shiite Iran) and the emerging Islamic Caliphate (Sunni), along with Magog (Eurasia, Russia, modern-day China and Mongolia: Ezekiel 38).Yeshayahu- Isaiah 4:1 Now seven women shall take hold of one man on that day, saying, "Our bread we will eat, and our clothing we will wear. Only let your name be called on us; take away our reproach."In that day the people of Israel, both the adulteresses (Ephraim: the Ten Houses) and the wanton women (Judah and Benjamin), will become honorable and again serve HaShem as in the days of Melech David.
4:2 On that day, the sprout of the Lord shall be for beauty and for honor, and the fruit of the land for greatness and for glory for the survivors of Israel.
4:3 And it shall come to pass that every survivor shall be in Zion, and everyone who is left, in Jerusalem; "holy" shall be said of him, everyone inscribed for life in Jerusalem.
Rashi: On that day: After the beauty of the ornaments of the adulteresses and the wanton women is curtailed, the glory of My people and the beauty of their honor will no longer depend upon these things.
All around the world there are people who believe their ancestors were part of the Ten exiled houses. Determining who is and who is not is very difficult. The following video sheds a lot of details about the Lost Houses and the attempts at their restoration for those wanting more details:
Must Things Happen This Way?
I mentioned at the outset that this 'way of coercion' could be avoided. The terrible times foretold by this stream of events happens in order to bring the Jews to repentance. Bringing the people of the twelve houses to the point of true teshuvah (repentance) is the primary goal of Mashiach ben Yosef. If the Jews collectively turn to HaShem on our own before this, HaShem will defeat our enemies. Then Mashiach ben David will sing the Song of Redemption (that is single, doubled, tripled, and quadrupled: Tikkuney Zohar, Tikkun 21 (p.51) and that glorious tune will captivate the entire world and draw everyone to the Torah observance, Light and Love of Melech Mashiach ben David. Then there will be Shalom.
This Song is the Way of Peace and Emuna -- active faith.
Continue To Part Three of this study.
* This page includes the research of Rabbi Immanuel Schochet ZT"L (1935-2013).
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