Rabbi Dosa and the Rabbis Differ: Messiah ben Joseph in the Babylonian Talmud

Rabbi Dosa and the Rabbis Differ: Messiah ben Joseph in the Babylonian Talmud © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2005 Review of Rabbinic Judaism 8.1 RABBI DOSA AND THE RABBIS DIFFER: MESSIAH BEN JOSEPH IN THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD David C. Mitchell One of the most compelling fi gures in Rabbinic literature is Messiah ben Joseph, the latter-day Ephraimite king who dies in eschatologi- cal warfare with monstrous foes. There are references to him—by name or pseudonym—in a host of texts from the fi rst and second millennia C.E. But the three references in the Babylonian Talmud are particularly important because of their antiquity. A single page of the Talmud, B. Suk. 52, has the distinction of containing these earliest known references to Messiah ben Joseph. This paper dis- cusses the interpretation and dating of these texts. 1. B. Suk. 52a (top): Messiah or the Evil Inclination Here is the fi rst passage. Aramaic passages are in italics. “And the land shall mourn family by family apart. The family of the house of David apart and their women apart” (Zech. 12:12). They said: Is not this an a fortiori conclusion? In the age to come, when they are busy mourning and no evil inclination rules them, the Torah says, “the men apart and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Review of Rabbinic Judaism Brill

Rabbi Dosa and the Rabbis Differ: Messiah ben Joseph in the Babylonian Talmud

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Abstract

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2005 Review of Rabbinic Judaism 8.1 RABBI DOSA AND THE RABBIS DIFFER: MESSIAH BEN JOSEPH IN THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD David C. Mitchell One of the most compelling fi gures in Rabbinic literature is Messiah ben Joseph, the latter-day Ephraimite king who dies in eschatologi- cal warfare with monstrous foes. There are references to him—by name or pseudonym—in a host of texts from the fi rst and second millennia C.E. But the three references in the Babylonian Talmud are particularly important because of their antiquity. A single page of the Talmud, B. Suk. 52, has the distinction of containing these earliest known references to Messiah ben Joseph. This paper dis- cusses the interpretation and dating of these texts. 1. B. Suk. 52a (top): Messiah or the Evil Inclination Here is the fi rst passage. Aramaic passages are in italics. “And the land shall mourn family by family apart. The family of the house of David apart and their women apart” (Zech. 12:12). They said: Is not this an a fortiori conclusion? In the age to come, when they are busy mourning and no evil inclination rules them, the Torah says, “the men apart and

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Review of Rabbinic JudaismBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2005

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