Shabbat Parashat Balak| 5764
What Will be In the “End of Days”Harav Yosef Carmel
While Bilam’s first speeches were ordered by Balak, the fourth and final speech was of his own volition. After thrice not getting the type of help he was hoping for, Balak reacted angrily and told Bilam to leave and not give any more blessings. Bilam, whose feelings were hurt, showed some of his haughtiness by introducing his parting words with a new title he hadn’t used the previous times. “The one who knows the knowledge of Hashem” (Bamidbar 24:17) then went on to prophecy about the “end of the days.”
The prophecy speaks about a ruler who will arise in Yisrael who will smite nations of the area, including Moav and Edom (ibid. 17-19). The Rambam categorized this as the prophecy of the anointed king, the Mashiach. It is important to review some of the more important concepts from the Rambam’s treatment of the subject, especially as they relate to our parasha. The following ideas are taken from the 11th chapter of The Laws of the Kings and Their Wars.
The Rambam writes that one who denies the idea of the coming of Mashiach, rejects not only the words of The Prophets but even the words of the Torah, which come from Moshe, the greatest of all prophets. Included in the Torah sources for the coming of Mashiach is the prophecy of Bilam, which was related to us by Moshe. The Rambam writes that Bilam spoke of two Mashiachs. The first one is King David himself, who was the first anointed one who saved Bnei Yisrael from their enemies. The second is the final Mashiach, who will be a descendant of David. The Rambam goes on to dissect the double language of Bilam’s prophecy and show how one part applies to David and the other to whom we call, Mashiach.
Prominent in the Rambam’s treatment of the topic is the idea that the future coming of Mashiach will not be of a totally different nature to the reign of King David. There will be no changes in the Torah and not even in the normal process of nature or the history of nations and society. He writes that Mashiach will not need to perform any miracles to prove that he is indeed the Mashiach. Even some of the prophecies’ descriptions of wolves living peacefully with lambs are parables of peaceful relations between Israel and the nations of the world and their uniting into one, universal worship of Hashem in a true manner.
One of the Rambam’s most important conclusions is that the proper understanding of the prophecies, knowing exactly what each parable will correspond to in reality is something that we will not know until the things actually happen. It is interesting to note the humility of the Rambam, who says we will not know in contrast to the haughtiness of Bilam who claimed to know it all.
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