No one in the annals of our Prophets and Kings could emulate the noble status of Moses, upon whom it is written,
"And there arose not a Prophet since then in Israel like Moses."
The Talmud elucidates on this:
King Solomon desired to attain the status of Moses. A Heavenly voice came forth and cited this verse, "There arose not a Prophet in Israel like Moses" - neither a Prophet nor a King (can emulate the status of Moses). Others say, no other Prophet arose, but a King (like Moses) can arise.
This indicates that Moshiach, a King, can attain the status of Moses. Rambam, however, offers a somewhat different description:
All Jews, including their Prophets and Torah scholars, desire to see the Messianic era, in order to be freed from the oppression of the nations who do not permit them to study Torah and to observe mitzvos properly. For, the King who will rise up from King David's progeny will be a man of wisdom on a higher level than King Solomon, and he will be a great Prophet close to the status of Moses. Therefore, he will teach all the people and will guide them in the path of G-d.
It seems that Rambam concurs with the Talmudic opinion that even among Kings, no one will rise up like Moses.
Yet, with reference to the status of a King - the Talmud describes Moshiach as a person who will judge with his sense of smell, as is written, "and he shall be animated - v'haricho (power of smell) with the fear of G-d." Said Rava: This means he will be able to detect the truth of a person's statement and will truthfully judge who is guilty, as is written - "not after the sight of his eyes shall he judge." Upon this the Talmud relates:
Bar Kochba (a King from the family of Hordos) reigned for 2 1/2 years. He then told the Rabbis, `I am Moshiach.' But, they replied: `With reference to Moshiach it states that he will judge with the sense of smell; let's see if you are capable of doing this.' When they saw that this King, Bar Kochba, does not have this extra-sensory perception - the criteria of Moshiach - he was sentenced to death.
Even according to the Talmudic opinion that there may arise a King like Moses, such as Solomon, yet, he was only able to judge on the basis of witnesses. Moshiach will judge with an extra-sensory perception, in the capacity of a King - not as a Prophet - since a Prophet cannot judge with his power of prophecy.
This status of Moshiach vis-a-vis Moses is also seen in Midrash Tanchuma, which comments on the verse:
"Behold, My servant shall be wise, he shall be exalted and placed very high."
Moshiach is called "the great mountain," inasmuch as he is greater than the Patriarchs. "He shall be exalted" - more than Abraham. "And uplifted" - higher than Isaac. "And placed very high" - higher than Jacob. Moreover, even "Higher than Moses."
Eitz-Yosef clarifies Moshiach's esteem:
In his battle against the Kings, Abraham saw a miracle, when he and his servants attacked them at night. The Midrash relates that Abraham spread out a little dirt which miraculously turned into swords, and the straw turned into arrows, as is written, "he places dirt as his sword, as stubble his bow." With these miraculous weapons he overpowered all the Kings. Moshiach, however, will be higher than Abraham. For, Abraham needed dirt and straw to begin with, whereas regarding Moshiach it states, "He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked."
"And he shall be higher than Moses:" For, Moses did not have an everlasting leadership upon the Jews, inasmuch as he himself transferred the reins of leadership to Joshua. Whereas with reference to Moshiach it states, "And David My servant shall be a leader forever." This alludes to Moshiach, a descendant of King David.
Another explanation of Moshiach's superiority over Moses is: In the future, the miracles of the Exodus will be secondary in comparison to those of Moshiach. Our Sages note that the Exodus will not lose its place in our history but it will be secondary in significance to the final redemption, due to the profound, overwhelming miracles which will be performed in the Messianic era.
- (Back to text) Devorim 34:10
- (Back to text) Rosh Hashanah 21b
- (Back to text) Hilchos Teshuvah 9:2
- (Back to text) Sanhedrin 93b
- (Back to text) Isaiah 11:3
- (Back to text) Toldos 14
- (Back to text) Isaiah 52:13
- (Back to text) Zecharyah 4:7
- (Back to text) Bereishis 14:15
- (Back to text) Isaiah 41:2
- (Back to text) Ibid. 11:4
- (Back to text) Talmud, Berachos 12b