University of St. Andrews
It is generally recognized that an expectation of the restoration of Israel was widespread in late Second Temple Judaism, including such elements as: Israel's return to God in repentance, the liberation of Israel from pagan rule and the overthrow of Israel's enemies, Israel's repossession of the land of Israel, the return of the diaspora to the land of Israel, the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple in splendour, the conversion of the nations to the worship of the God of Israel and their pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem, the reconstitution of Israel as an independent theocracy under the rule of a legitimate king of the line of David and a legitimate high priest of the line of Zadok, the supremacy of Israel in the world. The sources of these hopes were, of course, the scriptural prophecies, with special importance given to the concluding chapters of the Torah (Deuteronomy 30–33)1 and the later chapters of Isaiah (40–66). There was also special attention given to the models provided by the Exodus and the conquest of the land, as prototypes for a new exodus from oppression and a new conquest of the land from its pagan rulers and occupiers, as well as to the empire of David and Solomon as a model of Israel as an independent theocracy dominant over Israel's Gentile neighbours,2 but these historical prototypes were usually read through the lens of the prophecies which already worked with these models for the future. The presupposition for such hopes was, of course, that Israel's current condition, as a result of the nation's past sins, was far from that which God intended and promised for his people. The scriptural prophecies of restoration,
1 On the importance of this passage in Second Temple Jewish literature, see
D. J. Harrington, “Interpreting Israel's History: The Testament of Moses as a
Rewriting of Deut. 31–34,” in G. W. E. Nickelsburg (ed.). Studies on the
Testament of Moses (SBLSCS 4; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1973) 59–68.
2 This aspect is emphasized by S. Talmon, “The Concept of Masiah and
Messianism in Early Judaism,” in J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Messiah
(Minneapolis: Fortress, 1984) 79–1 15 (esp. 83, 99, I 13–14).