Jews familiar with an ancient compilation of Aggadic exegesis called Yalkut Shimoni noticed in recent weeks that current tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia matches a prophecy it contains regarding the year in which the Messiah – the King who redeems Israel and the world – is to appear.
In to the part of the book dealing with the Book of Isaiah, the following passage appears:
"Rabbi Yitzchak said: 'In the year in which the Messiah-King appears, all the nations of the world are provoking each other. The King of Persia provokes an Arab king and the Arab king turns to Aram for advice. And the King of Persia goes back and destroys the entire world. And all the nations of the world are in panic and distress and they fall upon their faces and are seized with pains like those of a woman giving birth, and Israel are in panic and distress and asking 'where shall we go? Where shall we go?,' and He says to them 'my sons, do not fear; all that I have done, I have done only for you. Why are you afraid? Do not fear, your time of redemption has come, and the final redemption is not like the first redemption, because the first redemption was followed by sorrow and servitude under other kingdoms, but the final redemption is not followed by sorrow and servitude under other kingdoms."
Persia is currently known as Iran, and an Arab king – or the Arab king – can be reasonably understood, in modern eyes, as referring to the king of [Saudi] Arabia, the Arab homeland.
This passage is relatively well-known and oft-quoted, and some modern versions of it substitute "Edom" for "Aram." Ancient Jewish references to "Edom" are nowadays generally seen as referring to Europe or the West. "Aram" refers to a part of ancient Mesopotamia, roughly congruent to the northern part of modern Iraq and eastern Syria. The instability in precisely this area is reportedly what most concerns the Saudis, as a U.S. pullout from Iraq looms and Syria's pro-Iranian regime teeters
The prophecy bodes ill for much of the world, which, if Rabbi Yitzchak's quote is to be taken literally, is to be destroyed by Iran before the Messiah steps in.
The identity of the compiler of Yalkut Shimoni is not known with certainty but a copy of it is known to have existed 700 years ago, in 1310 CE. The works it quotes are even older, and go back to early Talmudic times.