By: Kaufmann Kohler
The final decision by God, as Judge of the world, concerning the destiny of men and nations according to their merits and demerits. Justice and righteousness are such fundamental ideas with Judaism and are such essential attributes of God (Gen. xviii. 19; Job xxxiv. 12; Jer. ix. 23; Ps. lxxxix. 15 [A. V. 14], xcvii. 2) as to have forced the conviction upon every believer that all the evil which befalls man is the outcome of the divine judgment, and that every evil deed will meet with its due punishment. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do righteous judgment? [A. V. "right"]" (Gen. xviii. 25). "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed on earth: much more the wicked and the sinner" (Prov. xi. 31, Hebr.). All the great catastrophes of past ages, such as the Flood, the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, the earthquake that swallowed up Korah and his men, and the destruction that came upon Egypt and upon other oppressors of the Israelites, are, therefore, represented in the Bible as divine judgments (Gen. vi. 5, xviii. 20; Ex. vii. 4; Lev. xviii. 25; Num. xvi. 30, xxxiii. 4; Judges ii. 18 [the original meaning of "shofeṭ." is "vindicator"; that is, executor of the divine judgment upon Israel's foes]; comp. II Sam. xviii. 19; Isa. xi. 4). The end of history, therefore, was conceived to be the execution of the divine judgment upon all the nations (Isa. xi. 15, xxv. 6-xxvi. 9, lxvi. 16; Jer. xxv. 31; and especially Joel iv. [A. V. iii.] 12). This divine judgment is to take place, according to the Biblical view, on earth (Ps. xcvi. 13, xcviii. 9; Joel, l.c.), and is intended to be particularly a vindication of Israel (Deut. xxxii. 41; Isa. xxx. 18; Jer. xxv. 31, xxx. 11; and Ps. cxxxv. 14).In the Apocrypha.
This Day of Judgment (see Day of the Lord) is mentioned in Judith xvi. 18, in apocalyptic and rabbinical literature referring to Isa. lxvi. 24, and in Psalms of Solomon, xv. 12. It is portrayed in very vivid form in the Sibyllines (iii. 34, 91, 500-544, 670, 687, 783), in the Book of Jubilees (v. 10, ix. 15, xxiii. 11, xxxvi. 11), and particularly in Enoch (x. 6, 12; xvi. 1; xix. 1; xxii. 4, 11; xxv. 4; xlv. 2; lxxxiv. 4; xciv. 9). The leading idea in Enoch is that the Deluge was the first world-judgment, and that the final judgment of the world is to take place at the beginning or at the close of the Messianic kingdom (Enoch, x. 4-12, xvi. 1, xix. 1, liv. 5-10, xc. 19-27, and elsewhere). The one at the beginning of the Messianic kingdom (ib. xlv. 2; Mek., Beshallaḥ, Shirah, 6; 'Ab. Zarah 3b) is more national in its character; the one at the close, called by R. Eliezer "the Day of the Great Judgment" (Mek., Beshallaḥ, Wayissa'u, 4), is to consign all souls either to Paradise or to Gehenna. The fire of the latter consumes the wicked, the heathen often being represented as types of wickedness, while the Israelites are supposed to be saved by their own merit or by that of their fathers (Tosef., Sanh. xiii. 2-5; R. H. 17a; Eccl. R. iii. 9, iv. 1; Pes. 103a; Midr. Teh. to Ps. i. 5-6). The divine judgment described in the Testament of Abraham (see Abraham, Testament of) is one concerning all souls (xi.-xiv.) in the life to come. The twelve judges described as sitting there (see "J. Q. R." vii. 587) have their parallel in the Falasha tradition (see Halévy in "Taazaze Sanbat," p. 144, Paris, 1902, following Ps. cxxii. 5; comp. Tan., Ḳedoshim, ed. Buber, i.; Luke xxii. 30). Regarding the Messiah as Judge, see Eschatology.
But there is a divine judgment which takes place in this world and is continual. "Man is judged daily," says R. Jose (Tosef., R. H. 13). R. Levi says (Yer. R. H. i. 57a; Pes. R. xl.; Midr. Teh. to Ps. ix. 9): "God judges the nations at night, when they refrain from committing sin, and judges the people of Israel in the daytime, when they are doing meritorious work." "There are four seasons of the year," says the Mishnah (R. H. i. 2), following Akiba (Tosef., R. H. i. 13), "when the world is judged: in spring [Pesaḥ], in regard to the yearly produce; in early summer [Shabu'ot], in regard to the fruitage of the trees; on Sukkot, in regard to the winter's rain; and on New-Year's Day, when man is judged." It is owing to these views (comp. Jubilees, Book of) that the 1st of Tishri became-the Day of Judgment in the Jewish liturgy (see Day of Judgment). Not yet recognized as such in the time of Josephus ("Ant." iii. 10, § 2) and Philo ("De Septenario," § 22), this season of repentance and penitential prayer removed from the Jew that gloom and dread of the Last Judgment Day so prevalent in Essene and Christian life and literature (comp. Ber. 28b), and gave to Jewish ethics its more practical, healthy, and mundane character.