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Did we (the Jewish people) yearn for the complete Redemption (with the Techias HaMasim, etc) like we do today, at the time the either Temple was standing? It can't be that we just assumed "This is it" even with all of the miracles, simply because there was still death in the world and all of the nations did not necessarily accept Hashem as the One G-d, but there was a Temple and there was Kingship in Israel. How was this understood by the average Israelite at either time period?

I know there were Neviim and Sages, but I'm really wondering if anybody has a source that would show what the average Jew of that time thought about the concept of Moshiach, living in the Kingdom of Israel with a Beis HaMikdash and regular occurence of miracles.

Thanks, Chaim

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Chaim, at least according to the Rambam, the Messianic era will not break the laws of nature in any way. Ressurection of the Dead happens at some point after that. So don't worry about the miracles part. It's really all about the geopolitics.

First Temple: they had the full Temple, now it was just a question of when the rest of the world would recognize it. The Gemara says there was a decent chance that King Hezekiah could have served the role of Moshiach, and that would have been it for history.

Second Temple: everyone knew it was a far cry from the First. The Aron and Urim veTumim were missing. It says in Ezra/Nechemiah that some people who'd seen the First Temple were crying when they came back to the Second Temple; I heard from R' Hershel Shachter that they cried because it was such a pale comparison. The last third of the book of Ezekiel is a Temple blueprint; it wasn't the Second Temple, it's the Third. So I think everyone knew there was more to look forward to.

By the time the Romans moved in (60ish Common Era), there arose groups of religious extremists who committed terrorism in the belief that they could force a war with the Romans that would force Moshiach to come. History -- and Judaism as we know it today-- was written by the more moderate voices.

  • Thank you for clarifying. I also noticed in Kinnah 14 (in the Artscroll Kinos) that this topic is brought up. I guess it must have been interesting living in the First Temple period with all the miracles and Sages and Prophets in our midst and still yearning for the Temple to be rebuilt even knowing that it would involve it's destruction. I wonder if they would daven ולירוסלים עירך ... ובנה אותה בקרוב בימינו בנין עולם? – chaimp Jul 22 '10 at 6:10
  • The Beis Hamikdash could well have been rebuilt without having to first be destroyed - compare Herod's reconstruction. Also, in First Temple times there was no formalized text for prayer (see Rambam, Hil. Tefillah 1:4), so we needn't assume that they said any form of ולירושלים. As for Second Temple times - indeed the text of several blessings of Shemoneh Esrei had to be altered after its destruction; while it was standing, that blessing would have asked Hashem to preserve Yerushalayim forever (compare Yoma 68b and Sotah 40a). – Alex Nov 24 '10 at 4:24
  • I don't think that those were religious extremists, considering that all of the official Sanhedrin were against them. – Shmuel Brin Feb 1 '12 at 19:41
  • It might be better stated that the Zealots felt the only correct solution to the Roman occupation was a military solution. To them, the Moshiach would be a great military leader. Obviously, that philosophy did not work out. – Dennis Mar 12 '13 at 18:58
  • "Urim veTumim were missing" Source for this assumption? Rambam writes explicitly in Hilchot Beit Habechira (4:1) that they were present. – mevaqesh May 15 '16 at 23:26
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One who does not believe in Moshiach or await his coming violates one of the 13 principles of the Torah. It would be hard to believe that Jews in the time of the Beis Hamikdash were Kofrim.

Remember that we want Moshiach so that we can serve Hashem in the best way, and have the biggest revelation of G-dliness, so even in the time of the Temple there was for what to wait.

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    Although the principles in their 13-form were not collected and composed until Maimonides, so perhaps the first paragraph is too-strongly worded. – Yosef Nov 23 '10 at 0:42
  • I think you are confusing the "Ani Maamins" with the 13 principles of Rambam. The latter, emphasizes the fact that Mashiach will come and is not at all clear that yearning is art of the ikkar. – mevaqesh May 15 '16 at 23:29
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Isaiah (45:1) refers to Cyrus as the Messiah because of his role in returning Jews from exile (source) but it would seem that the general populace's concept of a personal Moshiach developed closer to the end of the second temple period

Rise of Popular Belief in a Personal Messiah:

Not until after the fall of the Maccabean dynasty, when the despotic government of Herod the Great and his family, and the increasing tyranny of the Roman empire had made their condition ever more unbearable, did the Jews seek refuge in the hope of a personal Messiah. They yearned for the promised deliverer of the house of David, who would free them from the yoke of the hated foreign usurper, would put an end to the impious Roman rule, and would establish His own reign of peace and justice in its place. In this way their hopes became gradually centered in the Messiah. (source).

This concept itself was not necessarily monolithic in its particulars even as the prayer for a savior from the sprout of David was included in the Shmoneh Esrei by the Men of the Great assembly still we find

The messianic doctrines that developed during the second half of the Second Temple period from approximately 220 bce to 70 ce (also called the "intertestamentary" period) were of diverse kinds, reflecting the mentality and spiritual preoccupations of different circles. They ranged from this-worldly, political expectations—the breaking of the yoke of foreign rule, the restoration of the Davidic dynasty (the messianic king), and, after 70 ce, also the ingathering of the exiles and the rebuilding of the Temple (source)


Note that the articles cited source material from outside Jewish tradition to support their claims

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