Maimonides (Rambam) on Messianic Age
The famous medieval Jewish philosopher and Torah scholar Maimonides (Rambam), the author of the “13 Principles of Faith”, wrote the following commentary on Mishnah, Sanhedrin 10:1 describing the Messianic Age. His interpretation eschews some of the literalistic approaches to certain prophetic happenings (e.g. lions switching to eating straw). I find his interpretation interesting because it does reflect the many not-so-idealistic, non-clouds-and-harps biblical prophecies that do tell us that in the Messianic Age (not to be confused with the everlasting “World to Come” or Olam Habah) people will still be born, they will still marry, people will still work the land but with little effort, and while all diseases will be eradicated and lifespans prolonged, people will still grow old and die. Israel will be vindicated and honored in the eyes of all nations, and all Jews will be regathered finally and completely. Israel will regain its self-rule, with Messiah firmly at the helm, and they will, every last one of them, all serve HaShem with their hearts full of Torah.
The Messianic age is when the Jews will regain their independence and all return to the land of Israel. The Messiah will be a very great king, he will achieve great fame, and his reputation among the gentile nations will be even greater than that of King Solomon. His great righteousness and the wonders that he will bring about will cause all peoples to make peace with him and all lands to serve him…. Nothing will change in the Messianic age, however, except that Jews will regain their independence. Rich and poor, strong and weak, will still exist. However it will be very easy for people to make a living, and with very little effort they will be able to accomplish very much…. it will be a time when the number of wise men will increase…. war shall not exist, and nation shall no longer lift up sword against nation…. The Messianic age will be highlighted by a community of the righteous and dominated by goodness and wisdom. It will be ruled by the Messiah, a righteous and honest king, outstanding in wisdom, and close to G-d. Do not think that the ways of the world or the laws of nature will change, this is not true. The world will continue as it is. The prophet Isaiah predicted “The wolf shall live with the sheep, the leopard shall lie down with the kid.” This, however, is merely allegory, meaning that the Jews will live safely, even with the formerly wicked nations. All nations will return to the true religion and will no longer steal or oppress. Note that all prophecies regarding the Messiah are allegorical. Only in the Messianic age will we know the meaning of each allegory and what it comes to teach us. Our sages and prophets did not long for the Messianic age in order that they might rule the world and dominate the gentiles, the only thing they wanted was to be free for Jews to involve themselves with the Torah and its wisdom.