Connect or Disconnect? Text or Agenda?

Connect or Disconnect? Text or Agenda?

This article is a continuation of my response to Dr. Brown’s article – https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-%E2%80%93-part-3

In his latest effort to substantiate his position from the words of
Isaiah, Dr. Brown shares his methods of Scriptural interpretation. It is
precisely to this place where I hoped the discussion would bring us. I
was hoping that we would get beyond the superficiality of stated
conclusions and move to the methods and techniques of Scriptural
interpretation that Dr. Brown uses to arrive at those conclusions that
he so readily declares as proven facts.

As we read the Bible, it is often important to determine if there is a
break in the prophetic narrative. Does one verse flow after the other? Or has the
prophet perhaps introduced a new subject? In his latest article, Dr.
Brown reveals to us how he goes about making this weighty determination.

In my writings I had quoted Isaiah 51:16 and I maintain that this verse refers to
Israel. It is clear beyond a doubt that verses 12 through 14 are
addressing Israel. No one disputes this, not the Christian or the Jew. There isn’t the slightest textual indicator which would tell us that the prophet has changed his audience between verses 14 and 15. From a textual standpoint, every indicator tells us that
verses 15 and 16 flow from verses 12 through 14. This would then tell us that verse 16 is addressing Israel.

Dr. Brown disagrees with my interpretation. He claims; “the context and 
grammar are against 51:16 referring to Israel.”

The fact is that the word “and” (in Hebrew this is represented by the
letter “vav”) connects the entire passage, there is no paragraph break
between verses 14 and 15, there is no introductory statement at the
beginning of verse 15 and there is no shift in the grammar between
verses 14 and 15. Yet Dr. Brown sees no contextual or grammatical reason
to see this passage as one unit.

Now let us look at Isaiah 42 verses 1 through 7. In that passage we find a
paragraph break between verses 4 and 5. Verse 5 opens with a classic
introduction (“Thus says the Lord…”) and the grammar changes from third
person (in verses 1-4) to second person (verses 5-7). All of these
create a clear and distinct separation between the passages.

In light of these textual considerations I argued that the prophet
begins to address a new subject in verse 5. Dr. Brown responded with the
claim; “Contextually, it seems clear that the subject of 42:1-4 is the 
same individual as the subject of 42:5-7 (really, where does the text 
indicate that the Lord is speaking about two distinct individuals rather 
than one?),”

So what tells Dr. Brown where to see a shift in the prophetic narrative?
It cannot be the text because the prophet did everything he could from a
textual standpoint to connect verses 14 and 15 in chapter 51, he did
everything he could from a textual standpoint to separate verse 4
from verse 5 in chapter 42, yet Dr. Brown insists on seeing the former
as disconnected and the latter as connected.

Dr. Brown has made it crystal clear for all who care to know that it is
not the text that tells him what to believe. It is his beliefs that
“tell him” what the text is saying.

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The Doctoral Candidate – a parable by Jim

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

The Christian claim is that the resurrection is proof of Jesus’ messiahship. However, it cannot be a proof in any sense, because there is no proof of the resurrection itself, as an event. To help illustrate how hollow the claim that the resurrection proves that Jesus was the Messiah, whatever that means to the believer, please allow me to present the following analogy.

Let us imagine a man, a doctoral candidate, who must take an exam to earn his degree and title. He receives his exam, and he sits writing for some time. Once time is up, he confidently gives the exam to the qualifying board to review. But, they stare at the paper, mouths agape. They say to the candidate, “You have not answered even one question! You are clearly not qualifed to become a certified doctor.”

“No! No!” the man exclaims. “You have it all wrong! I wrote…

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A Tale of Two Schools

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Imagine two schools of medicine. Let us call them “x” and “y”. Each of these schools has their own approach to medicine and each of these schools puts forth students who put their respective school’s theories into practice. As you probably guessed, these two schools disagree on many elements of the study and practice of healing people. Disagree is actually too mild of a word. Each of these schools earnestly believes that the other school is not teaching medicine, but murder.

One day, the faculty of school “x” admit that they made a mistake. Not just a one-time mistake but a mistake that had continuously been taught as truth for years and years. Not just a minor mistake, but an error about one of the fundamental concepts of medicine. Let us say that they had been teaching that the liver and the heart are useless organs. May I remind you…

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The Shema

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

The Shema

“Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”(Deuteronomy 6:4)

Generally, we tend to focus on the last point of the passage: the oneness of God. I want to call attention to the second phrase in this verse: “the Lord is our God”. What do we mean when we say that He is OUR God? In what way is do we possess Him? Is He not the God of all creation?

When God sent Moses to take us out of Egypt, He told Moses that the purpose of the exodus was that He will take us unto Himself for a nation and He should be to us for a God (Exodus 6:7). This theme is repeated often throughout the Scriptures (Leviticus 11:45, Numbers 15:41, Deuteronomy 26:17, Jeremiah 32:38 – to mention a few). How are we to Him for a nation? And how is…

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Trust and Repentance

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Trust and Repentance

Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol describes the process of repentance as escaping and fleeing from God to God. When we realize the weight of God’s judgment and the evil of sin we recognize that we need to escape. But there is only one place to run and that is to take shelter in God Himself. And God promises to protect and preserve those who trust in Him and only in Him (Nahum 1:7; Psalm 18:31).

Trusting in God means trusting in no one and in nothing else. Not in our works, not in our merits, not in our strength or wealth, not in the blood of any sacrifice and certainly not in the works of someone who claimed to be sinless. God told Moses that he will have compassion on whom He will have compassion (Exodus 33:19). If someone looks to God and to God alone for compassion…

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The Gentile Perspective on Jewish Suffering

A continuation of my response to Dr. Brown’s article – https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-–-part-3

The Gentile Perspective on Jewish Suffering

In my article entitled “Diminishing References and Dr. Brown’s
Staggering Mistake, part 3” I put forth the claim that the gentile
nations believe that Israel is suffering because they bear testimony to
a corrupt message. Dr. Brown countered with the following paragraph:

“Who told him that? Where does the Bible state that? To the contrary,
Scripture states that when the nations see the Lord’s Temple destroyed
and His people in exile, they will ask, “Why has the LORD done thus to
this land and to this house?” What will the answer be? “Then they will
say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers who
brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and
worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this
disaster on them.’” (2 Chr. 7:21-22) This is what Scripture says; Rabbi
Blumenthal must rewrite the Bible to fit his narrative.”

Indeed, in this passage in Chronicles, the Bible gives us one facet of
the Gentile perspective on Jewish suffering. But this is only a part of
the picture. The more common attitude attributed by the Bible to
Gentiles who witness Jewish suffering is described by Joel, Micah and
the author of the Psalms (Joel 2:17; Micah 7:7-10; Psalm 42:4,11; 79:10;
115:2). The nations taunt Israel with the words “where is your God.” The
nations see Israel’s suffering as a sign that the God that they are
following is a powerless God. In other words, the message that Israel
carries about One God, is faulty.

Interestingly, Dr. Brown himself confirms that this is the Gentile
attitude towards Jewish suffering. He writes: “in the ancient world,
the pagan nations thought that the god of an exiled nation had been
defeated. The deity was powerless to stop the enemy!”

But it is not only ancient pagans who believe that Israel suffers
because her God is powerless. Modern Christians like Dr. Brown believe
the same thing today. According to Dr. Brown, God without Jesus cannot
forgive sin, cannot redeem His people and cannot have a meaningful
relationship with His own creations. Judaism worships God without Jesus,
and according to Christianity, this is a powerless God. Christians have
been telling Jews that if they would but worship Jesus together with
God, their troubles would end. And the Jewish response has always been
and will always remain; “Our God is all-powerful and does not need your
Jesus to help Him in any way shape or form. We are suffering because of
our sins and when we repent He will restore us as He promised through
His prophets.”

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Redeemed, Redeemer and Priests

A continuation of my response to Dr. Brown’s article – https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-–-part-3

Redeemed, Redeemer and Priests

One of the central themes of Dr. Brown’s most recent article is the
recurrent question; “redeemer” or “redeemed?” The premise behind this
question is that Isaiah 53 describes a “redeemer” and since the
righteous of Israel are “redeemed” and not “redeemers” they cannot be
the servant of Isaiah 53.

I responded by pointing out that while it is true that the righteous of
Israel are “redeemed” but they also play an active role in God’s plan
for humanity and as such they are also redeemers. The point of my
argument is simply that contrary to Dr. Brown’s assertions, Scripture
assigns an active role to the righteous of Israel in the redemption process.

In his effort to refute my argument, Dr. Brown misrepresents my
position. Dr. Brown tells his audience that Rabbi Blumenthal
“consistently points to Israel rising through its own efforts to lead
the way in redemption.”

Needless to say I never said anything of the sort even once let alone
“consistently.” I clearly explained how the prophets described
Israel’s role in God’s process of redemption and I encourage the readers
to read what I wrote to understand my position and not trust Dr. Brown
who has consistently misrepresented my position.

In this article I will take the opportunity to expose how the underlying
premise of Dr. Brown’s argument is not rooted in Scriptural reality.

Dr. Brown’s question as to whether Israel is a “redeemer” or “redeemed”
is rooted in the assumption that Isaiah 53 describes the work of the
redeemer. But this is simply not true. Isaiah 53 describes the
consternation of the enemies of God’s servant when that servant is
redeemed. The arm of the Lord intervenes on behalf of the servant in
order to redeem him and that is what the nations of the world are
witnessing.

This should come as no surprise to Dr. Brown who insists that Psalm 22
describes the same scenario as Isaiah 53. Psalm 22 describes how a
suffering individual is saved and how his salvation brings glory to God.
The Scriptural theme which describes God saving a righteous individual
or nation while the nations of the world who witness this salvation gain
understanding and light, is repeated in Isaiah 52:10; Joel 4:16,17;
Micah 7:7:15,16; Psalm 69:36; 98:1-9; 102:16-23. Isaiah 53 is describing
a servant who is being redeemed. The prophet is not describing the work
of a redeemer.

Furthermore, Dr. Brown insists that the servant of Isaiah 53 is granted
the role of priest for the world in the Messianic age, interceding for the sinners and
bearing the responsibility of their sin and I agree with Dr. Brown in
principle, although I do not agree with his application. But what Dr.
Brown failed to realize is that if another word for the servant of
Isaiah 53 is “priest of God” then the prophet left us with no doubt who
it is that bears that title. Isaiah 61:6 clearly teaches that the
righteous of Israel are the priests of the world in the Messianic age.
It is clear that the function of priesthood is a function assigned to the
redeemed and not a function that identifies a redeemer. And it is also
clear that Dr. Brown’s vision for the Messianic age has no basis in the
reality of Scripture. According to Dr. Brown’s vision of the future,
Jesus fulfills the role of priest for the world. What priestly functions
will Jesus leave undone that the righteous of Israel need to fill in for
him?

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