Epistle to Yemen/V
by the select few. Since this interpretation is borne out by the facts of history, no other meaning can be given to the following verse: "I considered the horns, and, behold, there came among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots; and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things." (Danield 7:8).
Now consider how remarkably apt the symbolism is. Daniel says that he saw a small horn that was going up. When it became longer, even marvellously longer, it cast down before it three horns and behold in the side of the horn there were two eyes similar to the two eyes of man, and a mouth speaking wanton words. This obviously alludes to the person who will found a new religion similar to the divine law, and make claims to a revelation of a Scripture, and to prophecy. He will furthermore endeavor to alter and abolish the Law, as it is said, "and he shall seek to change the seasons and the law." (Daniel 7:25).
Daniel was divinely informed that He would destroy this person notwithstanding his greatness and his long endurance together with the remaining adherents of his predecessors. For the three parties that warred against us will ultimately perish, i.e., the one that sought to overpower us with the sword, the second which strove to conquer us by arguments, as well the third that founded a religion similar to ours.
Though they shall appear to be triumphant for a while, and be in the ascendancy for a longer or shorter period of time, they shall not last nor endure. We have a divine assurance from time immemorial that whenever a decree of apostasy is passed against us, God will ultimately terminate it. When King David inspired by the Holy Spirit and speaking in the name of the community reflected, how many peoples ruled over Israel in the past, and how many trials and tribulations they had undergone from the beginning of their history, and nevertheless were not exterminated, he was moved to exclaim, "Much have they afflicted me from my youth up; but they have not prevailed against me." (Psalms 129:2).
My brethren, you all know that in the time of Nebuchadnezzar the Wicked, the Jews were compelled to worship idols and none was spared save Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Ultimately God destroyed Nebuchadnezzar, and put an end to his laws, and the religion of Truth came back to its own.
Similarly during the Second Commonwealth when the wicked Greek rulers gained control of Palestine, they instituted severe persecutions against Israel in order to abolish the Torah. The Jews were compelled to profane the Sabbath, and were forbidden to observe the rite of circumcision. Every Jew was forced to write on his garment the words "we have no portion in the Lord God of Israel, and also to engrave this sentence on the horns of his ox and then plough with it."3 This state of affairs lasted about fifty-two years. Finally, God brought to an end simultaneously their empire and their laws.
The sages, of blessed memory, frequently allude to persecutions in the following manner: "once the wicked government passed the following decree of persecution," or, "they decreed so and so." After a while God would make the decree null and void by destroying the power which issued it. It was this observation that led the rabbis of blessed memory to affirm that persecutions are of short duration. (Ketubot 3b).
The divine assurance was given to Jacob our father, that his descendants would survive the people who degraded and discomfited them as it is written: "And thy seed shall be like the dust of the earth." (Genesis 28:14). That is to say, although his offspring will be abased like dust that is trodden under foot, they will ultimately emerge triumphant and victorious, and as the simile implies, just as the dust settles finally upon him who tramples upon it, and remains after him, so shall Israel outlive its persecutors.
The prophet Isaiah has long ago predicted that various peoples will succeed in vanquishing Israel and lording over them for some time. But that ultimately God will come to Israel's assistance and will put a stop to their woes and affliction as is suggested in the following verse:
"A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous one will deal treacherously, and the spoiler will spoil; Go up O Elam, besiege O Media! but ultimately the sighing thereof I shall make to cease." (Isaiah 21:2).
We are in possession of the divine assurance that Israel is indestructible and imperishable, and will always continue to be a pre-eminent community. As it is impossible for God to cease to exist, so is Israel's destruction and disappearance from the world unthinkable, as we read, "For I the Lord change not, and ye,
³ Cf. Gen. R. XVI.4 ed. Theodor-Albeck, p. 16 and parallels, Literaturblatt des Orients, 1871, p. 18, Dukes, Blumenlese, p. 153, no. 259, Chajes, Mebo Ha-Midrash printed in the Vilna edition of Midrash Rabbah and Ha-Maggid XXIII, p. 335.