The Animal Apocalypse presents a symbolic vision of history from its beginning until the end as revealed to Enoch before his marriage. The composition is rooted in an ideology which is common to the Apocalyptic literature in general and to Apocalyptic visions of history in particular. According to this view, history unfolds according to a predetermined divine pattern. This pattern is expressed in history which is composed of a series of units of time — "periods" — which are of a set duration, character and location within history. Revealing the pattern of the "periods" is the primary concern of the visions on history, revealed to the apocalyptics. Although the Animal Apocalypse generally reflects the concepts common to this literature, it is unique in several important respects. First of all, it represents the unfolding of history in a symbolic manner, although its symbols are chosen from the Biblical tradition. Furthermore, it does not include any interpretation, for this task is left to the reader. The Animal Apocalypse is unique in that it combines two systems of periodization which were originally unrelated to one another. One divides history into three main units: the creation of man until the aftermath of the flood, the Patriarchs to the coming of the Messiah and his war with the nations, and finally the escatological period. Each period is characterized and differentiated by its own particular symbolic system. However, despite their differences, all three periods are interconnected and related to each other. In both the earliest and the latest periods mankind is symbolized by cows. In the middle period, Israel and the nations are symbolized by the sheep and not by the wild animals. In this way the similarity and parallel nature of pre-history and the end of days is emphasized. The creation of the sect of the Zaddikim is also represented in the Animal Apocalypse by means of a symbolic array. It comes into being near the end of history, increases its numbers and becomes dominant during the end of days. The birth of this group occurs during the last part of the period of the seventy seasons. The calculation is that the era of the seventy seasons is the last period of history: from Yehoiakim's reign until the beginning of the end of days, i.e., until the end of the historical period. During this period, the People of Israel are ruled by seventy wicked shepherds. The sect of the Zaddikim arises close to the end of this period. From the symbols apparent in the rule of the shepherds it would appear that this point in time represents the rule of evil which comes as punishment for the sins of Israel before redemption. The seventy weeks in the Biblical book of Daniel (chapter 9) fill a similar role. The role of the sect of the Zaddikim in history and in the end of days is similar to the way the Dead Sea Sect saw itself and its role within Jewish history.
|Translated title of the contribution||History According to the Animal Apocalipse|
|Journal||מחקרי ירושלים במחשבת ישראל|
|State||Published - 1982|