Question: What is the traditional Jewish belief regarding the Tribulation or Indignation that is spoken of by several of the prophets to occur during the closing days of this present age? Who, what, where and when?
Answer: According to the traditional Jewish belief as found in the Talmud and other early Jewish literature, the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by a time of great suffering and tribulation. This period is commonly referred to as the pangs of the Messiah."
The various evils predicted to take place during this time include famines, wars, earthquakes and moral deterioration.
One tradition holds that this period will last for seven years. Later texts, however, suggest that it will last for 45 days.
According to some rabbinic authorities, a person could escape this period of distress through study of the Torah (the Pentateuch) and through deeds of charity.
It is also stated that when Gog and Magog, the final great enemies of Israel, arise (see Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39), a foe called Armilus will also arise. Then the Messiah Himself will appear, and He will vanquish these enemies and usher in a final time of peace.
For a more in-depth study of this subject, a useful collection of traditional texts on this theme is found in The Messiah Texts by Raphael Patai (published by Wayne State University Press).*
* This book is not available through Jews for Jesus
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