From the Hebrew mashiach (“anointed”). Developed from the words of the biblical prophets, messianism expresses a popular hope for the liberation of the people, the return from exile, and an era of peace. In his classic essay on The Messianic Idea In Judaism(1959), Gershom Scholem emphasized the catastrophic visions of doom preceding the coming of the Messiah which are present in much Jewish messianic speculation. The actual word Messiah in the sense of an ideal future King does not appear in the Hebrew Bible, although the germ of the idea is certainly there. Jewish messianism has developed through movements which have followed charismatic individuals even more than through literary speculations. The Dead Sea Scrolls present a picture of two Messiahs at the end of days, the future King and the future Priest. The recently discovered ancient inscription known as the “Gabriel Revelation” presents a notion of catastrophic messianism, a war leader...
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