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There are some predictions in the Talmud for when Moshiach/Messiah will come.

Avoda Zara 9b brings a Beraisa and Rabbi Chanina that say when Moshiach will come (the opinions are a few years apart), and it uses language that seems to say that there is no chance that he won't come by then. I can speculate that maybe they just use the wording as a demonstration of them being eager for Moshiach, but if I knew I wouldn't be asking the question. Also it's not clear if they're saying "Don't buy land on a contract that will transfer ownership to you after 4231" or "For those who will live in the future, don't bother buying land because Moshiach will come any minute and it's a sign you don't have faith in that." Here it is:

(R. Chanina): Do not waste money buying land 400 years after the Churban, even for a pittance, for surely Mashi'ach will come then (and land will revert to its rightful heirs based on the division in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun).

(Beraisa): Do not waste money buying land in the year 4231, even for a pittance, for surely Mashi'ach will come then.

Sanhedrin 97b brings in Eliyahu who seems to say that Moshiach will come by the end of 85 Yovel cycles (and at 50 years each, that is 4250 years total), and Eliyahu seems to be saying that he is not sure if Moshiach will come before the end of this last cycle (but I could be misreading):

Eliyahu: The world will be at least 85 Yovel cycles. Mashi'ach will come in the last one.

Rav Yehudah brother of Rav Sala: Will he come at the beginning or at the end?

Eliyahu: I do not know. (Ramah's text - he will come at the end.)

Rav Yehudah: Will Yovel finish before he comes? (Maharsha - will he surely come then, or may he be delayed further?)

Version #1 - Eliyahu: I do not know.

Version #2 (Rav Ashi): Eliyahu told him, do not wait for him until this time. Afterwards, wait for him.

How was it understood by the rabbis quoted who lived a few hundred years before the time mentioned, by the rabbis who compiled the Gemara shortly before or around the year mentioned, and by Rashi and other later commentators long after the time has passed? What do we make of this so many centuries after this predicted date has passed?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The same daf in Sanhedrin 97 a few lines down basically answer the question.

see what R'Shmuel Bar Nachamani says about those who calculate the arrival of mashiach ,he uses the loshon of tifach and writes people lose emunah because of it.He seems to disagree with the Rabbaniom who made calculations.

A few more lines down Rav writes all the keitzeim(calculations are over) only Tshuvah and mitzvos will bring Mashiach. It seems that there were ways to calculate but once that time passed this is how it should be done(Shmuel learns differently). See the whole daf for further explanation.

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Why did Rav say that the calculations are over when the ones mentioned earlier hadn't passed by then? –  A L Jul 11 '13 at 18:47
    
Sam, I'm marking this as accepted, but I would still prefer you to answer the question in my above comment and, more to the point, explain the above quoted Gemaras some other way than a difference of opinion if possible. –  A L Jul 14 '13 at 21:57
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the rambam says in hilchos melachim that we cannot know the correct interpretation of all these things until it happens.

we can also see this from the exodus of egypt which was supposed to be 400 years but with built in leeway of interpretation and wound up being counted from the birth of Isaac because the jews were not able to handle more. i think this is how all predictions should be looked at.

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