Weekly Inspiration

The Ships of Kittim
November 5th, 2023
The Ships of Kittim

My dear friends, we are in an unprecedented situation. 

It appears that reliable signs of the Days of Moshiach are coming to pass right now. A remarkable event is taking place at this very moment. 

Shortly after the beginning of the current conflict, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, dispatched a naval flotilla to the Eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Israel. This group includes the USS Gerald R. Ford, the newest US aircraft carrier and the largest in the world, as well as another aircraft carrier and numerous support ships. According to the US Navy, “The massing of ships in the Eastern Mediterranean will be the largest collection of U.S. warships in decades.” The stated purpose of this armada is to provide backup and support to Israel and ensure that the current conflict is not widened by our enemies. England and France have also sent naval ships to the region. 

Ominously, China has also sent naval ships. 

Thus, already, we have an explosive situation. 

Here are two possukim from the prophecy of Bilaam. Please listen carefully. 

“[Bilaam] declaimed his parable and said, ‘Oh! Who will survive when he imposes these! There will be big ships from the place of Kittim, and they will afflict Assyria and they will afflict Eber, but it, too, will be forever destroyed.’” (Bamidbar 24:23-24)

The possuk, “Oh! Who will survive when he imposes these” is widely understood to refer to the travails of the Messianic Period. Sforno, for example, says this possuk is similar to the Gemara (Sanhedrin 98b) which says, “Let [Moshiach] come, but let me not see him.”

Pirkei d’Rebbe Eliezer interprets this possuk as “an allusion to the war that Yishmoel will conduct with the entire world in the End of Days. Bilaam proclaims that no nation will escape this conflagration.” (Redemption Unfolding, page 176)

And what are “big ships from Kittim?”

Onkelos (himself a Roman convert) identifies Kittim with Rome. Rashi says, “Kittites … are Romans.” Ramban says, “big ships will come from the place of the Kittim, those being the Romans.”

Rome stands for the entire Western World, of which the United States is still recognized as the head. All of Western Culture developed from Rome, who are the descendants of Esav, the enemy of Yaakov who destroyed Bayis Shaini and sent us into our present Golus.

Ramban continues: “Now, [Bilaam] concludes his words with the destruction of the Kittim (Romans) because they are [the nation represented by] the fourth [and final] beast [of Daniel’s dream], which is to be destroyed by the hand of the Moshiach, as [Scripture] states…. And this matter is known from the words of our Sages, that the fourth beast that Daniel saw is Rome, which exiled us, and that is [the kingdom] that will be destroyed by the hand of Moshiach [in the End of Days].” (Artscroll translation, Ramban on Bamidbar 24:24)

My friends, please pay close attention: “Targum Yonason explains that, in the End of Days, a huge fleet of ships will depart from ‘Italy’ (referring to Rome, the Western World) and they will fight against the legions of Yishmoel (the Arab nations). In the end, both of them – Edom and Yishmoel – will fall into the hands of Moshiach and be obliterated … and Yishmoel will be destroyed.” (Translation from Redemption Unfolding)

The Malbim says: “In the End of Days, after the Children of Israel have returned to their land, the children of Yishmoel and the children of Esav will unite to attack Jerusalem. They will form a world coalition against the tiny nation of Israel. But something will go wrong with their plan. The religious beliefs of the children of Yishmoel and the children of Esav will clash, and the two nations will collide and destroy each other. This is what is referred to as the War of Gog and Magog. Following this cataclysmic conflict, the Final Redemption of the Jewish People will occur with the coming of Moshiach ben Dovid.” (Malbim on Yechezkel 32:17, quoted in my book 2020 Vision)

My friends, it appears that we are looking at a fulfillment of Torah prophesy concerning the End of Days. Shall we not run to return to Hashem to be worthy of survival at this time!

“Thus says my L-rd Hashem/Elokim: ‘See, I am against you Gog. I shall … bring you to the mountains of Israel. I will strike your bow from your left hand and I will cast down your arrows from your right hand. You shall fall upon Israel’s mountains, you and all your cohorts and the nations who are with you…. for I have spoken…. the words of my L-rd Hashem /Elokim.’” (Yechezkel 39:1ff; Haftara Shabbos Chol Hamoed Sukkos)

It seems that Hashem is bringing about prophesied events of cosmic magnitude in front of our very eyes. It is important to remember that in Mitzraim, only one-fifth of Bnai Yisroel left with Moshe Rabbeinu despite having witnessed earth-shaking events. (Rashi, but other meforshim say the number who left were far fewer!)

“Shomer Yisroel … Guardian of Israel, protect the remnant of Israel. Let not Israel be destroyed … those who proclaim, ‘Hear O Israel.’” 

“Hashem hoshia … Hashem, please save us now!” 


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