Rebelling Against Exile is Dangerous and Carries a Severe Punishment

The Talmud

The Holy One, blessed is He, placed three oaths upon the world, two for the Jewish people and one for the nations. The Jewish people were made to swear not to go up as a wall to take over the Holy Land, and not to rebel against the nations of the world. The nations were made to swear not to afflict the Jews too much… “If you keep the oath, good; but if not, I will make your flesh ownerless like the gazelles and deer of the fields.”
(Talmud, Kesubos 111a)

The Midrash

The redemption of the Jewish people is compared to the grain harvest, the grape harvest, the spice harvest, and to a woman giving birth. The common thread of all these metaphors is that they cannot be done too early. If grain is cut too early, it will not be good even as animal feed. If grapes are cut too early, they will not even be good to make vinegar. If spice is picked too early, it will not have a smell; it must be allowed to dry out on the tree. And if a woman gives birth prematurely, the baby will not live. So too, if the Jewish people hurries the end, they will not be successful, but at the proper time, may it be soon, they will be successful.
(Midrash Rabbah on Song of Songs 8:14)

Rabbi Yehoshua ibn Shu’ib, Spanish preacher (1280-1340)
The prophet warns us not to force the end of exile so that we not meet the fate of the Children of Ephraim, who left Egypt 30 years before the proper time. This was because they counted the 400 years from the time G-d spoke to Abraham (Genesis 15), but in reality the count began 30 years later with the birth of Isaac. The reason He adjured them by the deer and gazelles is that it is known that the nature of these animals is that during mating season, they walk around with mindlessly, as if drunk, and that is when it is easiest for the hunters to catch them. So too the Jewish people, if they follow their desires, they will fall into the hands of their enemies, as happened to the Children of Ephraim, who fell into the hands of the Philistines.
(Derashos Rabbi Yehoshua ibn Shu’ib, Pesach)

Rabbi Shmuel Aripol, Safed, Palestine (late 1500s)
I adjure you, daughters who once lived in Jerusalem, and have now gone out and become scattered in a place of gazelles and deer of the field, i.e. in uninhabited places – still, you must not wake up and arise before the End. You yourselves must not arise, and you must not arouse a king or an official with you, to arise with you… A gazelle sleeps with one eye open. A deer runs while looking back at its pursuer. G-d warned the Jewish people: Even when you are asleep in exile, keep an eye out for the evil that will come upon you if you rise up before the time.
(Commentary Sar Shalom to Song of Songs 2:7)

Rabbi Yehuda Loew, Rabbi of Prague, known as Maharal (1512-1609)
The Midrash Rabbah on Song of Songs 2:7 begins: “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem.” With what did He make them swear not to violate exile? Rabbi Eliezer says: He made them swear by heaven and earth. This is similar to Moses’s warning to the Jewish people to keep the Torah (Deuteronomy 30:19). Moses said, “I call witness to you today heaven and earth: I have placed life and death before you, the blessing and the curse; and you shall choose life, so that you might live, you and your offspring.” Rashi explains: “The Holy One, blessed is He, said to Israel: Look at the heavens that I created to serve you. Have they ever changed their ways? Did the sun ever fail to rise from the east and light up the world? Look at the earth that I created to serve you. Did it ever change its ways? Did it ever fail to sprout when you planted it? Did it ever grow barley when you planted wheat? If the heavens and the earth, which are not rewarded or punished, never failed to do their jobs, then you who are promised reward or punishment should certainly keep the commandments of the Torah.” Here too: Just as the heavens and the earth keep to the order of nature decreed by G-d, never changing, in the same way the Jewish people must keep the order of exile decreed by G-d. And just as the heavens and earth, if they were to change their nature and order, would bring havoc and destruction to the world, so too if the Jewish people leaves the exile decreed on them by G-d, it would mean destruction for them, G-d forbid. Therefore they must not violate the decree.
(Netzach Yisroel, Chapter 24)

The exile is an unnatural phenomenon, and therefore three oaths – three decrees – were necessary to maintain it in a constant state of delicate balance. Two decrees were placed upon the Jewish people that they should not lessen or negate the exile by rebelling or gathering themselves to Eretz Yisroel, and one decree was placed upon the nations that they not increase the exile. Understand these things well, for there is no doubt that any change in this matter would be a very, very dangerous thing.
(Chiddushei Aggados, Kesubos 111a)

Rabbi Chaim ben Betzalel, brother of the Maharal (c. 1600)
The current, fourth exile is similarly to “kadachas” (an illness characterized by high fever), which the body has to fight off completely in order to be immune from a future attack. If the person takes medicine and stops the illness too early, it will only come back in a stronger form. So too, we must not bring the geulah before its time. “Even though he may tarry, wait for him” (Chavakuk 2:3).
(Sefer Hachaim, Chelek 5, Perek 6)

Rabbi Yosef, Dayan of Lublin, Poland (c. 1748)
The Gemara says that if the Jewish people violates the oaths, G-d will permit their flesh like the deer and hinds of the field. This means that if the Jewish people violates its oath and forces the end, G-d will release the nations from their prohibition on subjugating Israel too much. He will permit their flesh to the nations by permitting the oath of the nations.
(Kitzur Alshich on Song of Songs 2:7)

Rabbi Yaakov Emden, German scholar and writer (1697-1776)
The rabbis of Venice bemoaned the fact that their community strayed after the false messiah Shabbetai Tzvi: “Who does not understand the acts of G-d? The justice of G-d is true and right, measure for measure. Because our community did not keep the oath not to arouse or awaken the love, we were punished with anger and powerful hatred that is aroused against us among the gentiles in all places.”
(Toras Hakanaus)

“Those who use forced oaths and practical Kabbalah to attempt to bring the redemption, even if they had good intentions, and even if they did not otherwise violate the Torah, have violated the oath that G-d made the Jewish people take not to force the end of exile. They have become the stumbling block to arouse the jealousy and hatred of the nations, and they have removed from the Jewish people the amazing Divine Providence, which has never departed throughout this exile. G-d has always saved us from our destroyers and kept our feet on solid ground.
(Migdal Oz Aliyas Hateva Os 7)

Rabbi Moshe Sofer, Rabbi of Bratislava, known as Chasam Sofer (1762-1839)
What is the explanation for the punishment for violating the oaths? The Midrash at the beginning of the Leviticus comments that Moses, in his wisdom, knew not to come into the Mishkan before G-d called him. From this we learn, says the Midrash, that a Torah scholar who has no common sense is worse than an animal that died of itself.

An animal that died of itself is considered “killed by the King” whereas an animal slaughtered by human hands is considered “killed by an officer” and thus on a lower level (Shabbos 108a). Lower still is an animal that was torn apart by wild predators. One who presses for closeness to G-d in an unauthorized way is, G-d forbid, made ownerless and vulnerable to wild predators, and thus meets an end that is worse than the animal that dies of itself.
(Drashos Chasam Sofer, p. 152, Drush for Adar Sheni 7 and Leviticus 5586)

Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, chief rabbi of Jerusalem (1848-1932)
Once there was a prince who excelled in all areas and was perfect in every way. He was also the only child of his father, the king, and his father loved him dearly. One day the prince became seriously ill. His father sent for the best doctors and brought them to his hospital bedside, where he stood together with him. Could one imagine that such a wise boy would ask his father and his doctors to free him from the hospital and send him home? And even if he did make such a foolish request, they would not grant it, despite their mercy and love for him. Leaving while not completely recovered would put his life in danger.

We, the Jewish people, are in such a situation. G-d sent us into exile because of our sins. The exile is the Jewish people’s hospital. It is unthinkable that we should take for ourselves power in our land before our healing process is complete. G-d protects us and shields us while doling out to us the medicine of suffering in exact amounts. We are certain that when the time comes and our healing from our sins is complete, G-d will not delay even one second, and He Himself will redeem us. Not so if we would hurry to leave the hospital – then a mortal danger, a perpetual danger would hover over us, G-d forbid. And even when we pray for our redemption, we ask only that our healing process be complete quickly – not that we should return to the King’s palace while still sick, G-d forbid
(Mara D’ara Yisroel v. 1 p. 145)

Rabbi Yisroel Meir Hakohein, author of Chofetz Chaim (1839-1933)
The Torah teaches us not to resist the nations even when they fight against us. We must follow in the footsteps of Jacob our father in his encounter with his brother Esau. As the Ramban writes in Vayishlach, all that happened between Yaakov and Esau happens to us constantly with Esau’s children. We must adopt the methods of that tzaddik, to make the three preparations that he made: prayer, a gift, and escape through war, that is, to flee and take refuge. As long as we walked on that well-tread path, Hakadosh Baruch Hu saved us from their hands. But since we have strayed from the path and new leaders have arisen who chose new methods, leaving behind our ancestors’ weapons and adopting the methods of our enemies, we have fared worse and worse, and great travails have befallen us. May G-d have mercy on our people and restore our judges as of old.”
(Chofetz Chaim Al Hatorah, Parshas Devarim)