Rare Depiction of Moshiach - The New Messiah, Maitreya, Antichrist, Dajjal

Seder Set
19th century

Do a Google image search on the word Moshiach and you will find a number of images of the Chabad leader Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson and a scattering of other pictures, but one thing will be conspicuously absent: images of the The New Messiah which the majority of Jews - orthodox, reform, religious and non-religious - await.

Even the Wikipedia page for "Moshiach" is devoid of imagery. I believe it is customary amongst most Jews to avoid the creation of graven images of G-d and Moshiach in the same way it is customary to spell G-d without vowels. The tetragrammaton - YHWH - is another example. Judaism is apparently as iconoclastic as Islam, early Buddhism, and certain Protestant sects.

Viewed as the Messiah by many Jews, but as the Antichrist by many Christians, as the Dajjal by certain Muslims, and as the Maitreya by the likes of Benjamin Creme, the coming New Messiah has been rarely depicted by any of the aforementioned groups in any uniform fashion - other than, perhaps, as a devil by certain Christians.

It goes without saying then that I was quite surprised to encounter a graven image of Moshiach on a seder set presented as part of an exhibition on Hasidism at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Moshiach appears in all His glory, strikingly similar to Moses with dual rays shooting up from his head, and a possible third eye, riding a wave and ushering in the New Order. As in the Great Exodus, he is followed by his people - here shown as Hasidim - who are in turn pursued by Cossacks taking the place of Pharaoh and his army. Moshiach holds a staff in his left hand, gives a "fear not" mudra with his right, has a split beard, and seems to have two horns or three rays jutting out in front of the base of his crown, which is presumably the Crown of Moshiach, which constitutes the one icon or idol permissible in synagogues.

"Moshiach Now!"

 is the slogan of those awating him.

Moshiach Crown

Crowns motifs in the Florence Synagogue

Models of King Solomon's Temple and the Holy of Holies

Holy of Holies Model