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According to classical Jewish sources, the Hebrew year 6000 (Gregorian year 2239) marks the latest time for the initiation of the Messianic Age. The Talmud, the Midrash, and the Kabbalistic work, the Zohar, state that the 'deadline' by which the Messiah must appear is 6,000 years from creation. According to tradition, the Hebrew calendar started at the time of Creation, placed at 3761 BCE. The current (2013/2014) Hebrew year is 5774.
The Ten Commandments state (Exodus 20:8):
Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. Six days shall you work and perform all of your labors. And on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath day unto the Lord your God, you shall do no work... For in six days God made the heavens and the earth, the oceans and all therein, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore God hath blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.
This tradition maintains that each day of the week corresponds to one thousand years of creation. Just as the six days of the workweek culminate in the sanctified seventh day of Shabbat, so too will the six millennia of creation culminate in the sanctified seventh millennium (Hebrew years 6000–7000)—the Messianic Age.
Just as Shabbat is the sanctified 'day of rest' and peace, a time representing joyful satisfaction with the labors completed within the previous 6 days, so too the seventh millennium will correspond to a universal 'day of rest' and peace, a time of 'completeness' of the 'work' performed in the previous six millennia.
The Talmud also draws parallels between the Shmita (Sabbatical) year and the seventh millennium: For six 'years', or millennia, the earth will be worked, whilst during the seventh 'year', or millennium, the world will remain 'fallow', in a state of 'rest' and universal peace.
The reconciliation between the traditional Judaic age of the world and the current scientifically derived age of the world is beyond the scope of this article, with some taking a literal approach, as with Young Earth creationism, and others, such as Gerald Schroeder, a scientific conciliatory approach.
The Talmud comments:
R. Katina said, “Six thousand years the world will exist and one [thousand, the seventh], it shall be desolate (haruv), as it is written, ‘And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day’ (Isa. 2:11)... R. Katina also taught, “Just as the seventh year is the Shmita year, so too does the world have one thousand years out of seven that are fallow (mushmat), as it is written, ‘And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day’ (Isa. 2:11); and further it is written, ‘A psalm and song for the Shabbat day’ (Ps. 92:1) – meaning the day that is altogether Shabbat – and also it is said, ‘For one thousand years in Your [God's] eyes are but a day that has passed.’ (Ps.90:4) (Sanhedrin 97a).”
Six eons for going in and coming out, for war and peace. The seventh eon is entirely Shabbat and rest for life everlasting.
The Zohar states:
In the 600th year of the sixth thousand, the gates of wisdom on high and the wellsprings of lower wisdom will be opened. This will prepare the world to enter the seventh thousand, just as man prepares himself toward sunset on Friday for the Sabbath.
The Zohar explains further:
The redemption of Israel will come about through the mystic force of the letter “Vav” [which has the numerical value of six], namely, in the sixth millennium…. Happy are those who will be left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter the Shabbat, which is the seventh millennium; for that is a day set apart for the Holy One on which to effect the union of new souls with old souls in the world (Zohar, Vayera 119a).
There is a kabbalistic tradition that maintains that each of the seven days of creation in Genesis chapter one correspond to seven millennia of the existence of natural creation.
The tradition teaches that the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath day of rest, corresponds to the seventh millennium, the age of universal 'rest' - the Messianic Era.
|Millennium||Hebrew Year||Corresponding day of week
(In Hebrew and English)
|1||0 - 1000||Rishon / Sunday|
|2||1000 - 2000||Sheini / Monday|
|3||2000 - 3000||Shlishi / Tuesday|
|4||3000 - 4000||Revii / Wednesday|
|5||4000 - 5000||Chamishi / Thursday|
|6||5000 - 6000||Shishi / Friday|
|7||6000 - 7000||Shabbat (Sabbath) / Saturday|
Rishonim and Acharonim
Elaborating on the theme of the seventh millennium representing the Messianic Age are numerous early and late Jewish scholars, including the Ramban, Isaac Abrabanel, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Rabbeinu Bachya, the Vilna Gaon, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Ramchal, and Aryeh Kaplan.
The acceptance of the idea of the seventh millennium representing the Messianic Age across the Ashkenazi - Sephardi divide, the Chassidim - Misnagdim divide, and across the rational Talmud and mystical Kabbalah perspectives, shows on the centrality of this idea in traditional Judaism.
In his Sha'ar Hagmul, Ramban writes that the sixth millennium will see the advent of the Messiah and the seventh millennium will be the Shabbat of the 'World to Come', wherein the righteous will be resurrected and rejoice.
Ramban further writes that the Scriptural verse, “And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Gen. 2:3), refers to His blessing the World to Come which begins at the seventh millennium.
In his commentary to Genesis 2:3, Rabbeinu Bachya writes that the seventh millennium will follow the Messiah and the resurrection, and will be a time of “great eternal delight” for those who merit resurrection.
This being the case, he explains, just as one prepares during the six days of the week for the Shabbat, so too one should prepare during the six thousand years for the seventh.
Don Isaac Abrabanel writes that similar to the structure of the week of Creation, so too the world will exist for six thousand years, with the seventh millennium being a Hefsek (break) and a Shvita (rest), like Shabbat, Shmita, and Yovel.
The Vilna Gaon writes:
Each day of Creation alludes to a thousand years of our existence, and every little detail that occurred on these days will have its corresponding event happen at the proportionate time during its millennium.
This is based on the teaching of the Talmud, which states that one thousand human years is equivalent to one 'day' in the eyes of the Creator, which in turn is based upon the verse in Psalms, "For one thousand years in Your eyes are but a day that has passed (Psalms 90:4)". Therefore, given that one human-time millennium is equal to one cosmic 'day', the human-time seventh millennium is equivalent to the seventh cosmic 'day', the 'Shabbat', the Messianic age.
Given that the Jewish day begins at nightfall, the year 5750 represented 12:00pm midday on the millennial 'Friday', as per the table below.
|Hebrew Year (Common Era year)||Millennial Time|
|5000 (1239 CE)||18:00 Thursday|
|5250 (1489 CE)||00:00 Friday|
|5500 (1739 CE)||06:00 Friday|
|5750 (1989 CE)||12:00 Friday / Shabbat eve|
|5770 (2009 CE)||12:30 Friday / Shabbat eve|
|6000 (2239 CE)||18:00 Entry of Shabbat|
The English year 2014, corresponding to the Hebrew year 5774, thus marks 12:34pm on the Millennial Friday. In Jewish law, a half hour past midday or mincha gedola marks the time on Friday afternoon when the influence of Shabbat begins, and some authorities forbid keeping a business open past that point.
...This is why so much time must transpire from the time of creation until the time of the Tikkun (lit. 'correction', Moshiach's coming). All the forces of Gevurot (strict judgement) are rooted in the six Sefirot—Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod—which are the six days of creation... and also the 6,000 years of history that the world will exist.
And within [the six Sefirot] are the roots of all that will happen from the six days of creation until the Final Tikkun... We find that all that transpires is the result of the sparks from the time of Tohu, Chaos...
Aryeh Kaplan writes:
Never before has mankind been faced with such a wide range of possibilities. Never before has it had such tremendous power at its disposal, to use for good or evil... We need not belabor the point, but the past hundred years or so have brought about an increase in knowledge unsurpassed in all human history... The ultimate goal of the historic process is the perfection of society... is what we call the Messianic Age...
Almost 2000 years ago, the Zohar predicted, "In the 600th year of the sixth thousand, the gates of wisdom on high and the wellsprings of lower wisdom will be opened. This will prepare the world to enter the seventh thousand, just as man prepares himself toward sunset on Friday for the Sabbath. It is the same here. And a mnemonic for this is (Gen 7:11), 'In the 600th year... all the foundations of the great deep were split'. Here we see a clear prediction that in the Jewish year 5600 (or 1840), the wellsprings of lower wisdom would be opened and there would be a sudden expansion of secular knowledge.
In an interview with Israel National Radio, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis said the following:
Listen carefully, friends, to what I'm telling you. Hashem, Elokei Yisrael, created this world that we are living in today in six days.
Let's bring Shabbos early, and let us to bring Shabbos with menucha [ease], with shalom [peace], with simchah [happiness] – Is it possible? Absolutely?! Every negative prophecy can be changed.
Every day was a thousand years. This world, as we know it today, cannot last beyond 6,000 years. Right now, we are in the year 5769, which means it's Erev Shabbos of the world. By the year 6,000, Mashiach has to be here. He could come much earlier. But by the year 6,000, he has to be here. ... the Vilna Gaon said that the last war, Milchemet Gog uMagog, is going to last only 12 minutes because they are going to have such weapons....
We know that the final redemption, the final Geula, it's going to be like when you left Egypt – only one-fifth of our people left Egypt. Four-fifths perished... during the plague of darkness.
So I'm appealing to every Jew. Every negative prophecy can be changed. We can bring Mashiach today. Right now, we are living in a period called Erev [eve of] Shabbat.
It's Erev Shabbat, because when Mashiach will come, it will be the day that will be all Shabbat, the seventh day....
- Babylonian Talmud Rosh Hashana 31a and Sanhedrin 97a
- Pirke De Rabbi Eliezer, Gerald Friedlander, Sepher-Hermon Press, New York, 1981, p. 141.
- Zohar (1:117a) and Zohar Vayera 119a
- World Book Encyclopedia, C-Ch, entry under 'Calendar'
- Genesis 2:3
- Isaiah 58:13-14
- Sanhedrin 97a
- Zohar 1:117a
- Zohar, Vayera 119a, Ramban on Genesis 2:3
- Ramban on Genesis (2:3)
- Abarbanel on Genesis 2
- Ramban quoting Ibn Ezra at Leviticus (25:2)
- Bachya on Genesis 2:3
- Safra D'Tzniusa, Ch. 5
- Sefer HaSichos 5750:254
- Derech Hashem 4:7:2
- Page 318, The Real Messiah, oneline at
- Ramban, Shaar HaGemul, ch. 58
- R' Bachya to Genesis 2:3
- Abrabanel to Genesis 2
- Derech Hashem 1:3:9, Derech Hashem 4:7:2
- Hadran on the Mishneh Torah, 5745, and Sichos Shabbos Parshas Vayeitzei, 5752
- Drushei Olam HaTohu 2:151b
- The Real Messiah, NCSY, Mesorah Publications 2002