1. Objection 4:1
Brown discusses a Jewish objection to Christianity. “If Jesus is really the Messiah, and if he is so important, why doesn’t the Torah speak of him at all?”
Brown responds on behalf of Christianity. “You would be surprised to see how many passages and concepts actually point to Jesus … in the Torah. But before you question my beliefs, are you aware that the Torah doesn’t say much about the “traditional” Jewish Messiah? Does this mean the Messiah is unimportant to traditional Judaism? And the Torah says nothing about the oral law. What does this imply? You might want to think twice about your argument.”
We will address Brown’s point one at a time. Brown begins by stating that many passages and concepts “point” to Jesus. He goes on to substantiate his claims by showing how certain characters in the Torah “pre-figure” Jesus. But why does the Torah not speak of the concept of a Messianic redeemer openly and unequivocally?
The fact is that the Torah does speak of the Messianic redeemer openly and unequivocally. The passage in Numbers 24:14-19 speaks clearly of a Jewish redeemer in language that is directly parallel to Obadiah 1:18-21. Brown acknowledges this in endnote #1, but for some odd reason, fails to mention this open Messianic passage in the main body of his book. Furthermore, the passage in Deuteronomy 30:1-10, while it does not mention the Messianic leader, certainly speaks openly and unequivocally about the Messianic age. When we look at these passages that directly speak of the Messiah and the Messianic age, it becomes clear that the Torah’s view of the Messiah has nothing to do with Christianity and Jesus. According to the Torah, the key points of the Messianic age will be Israel’s return to the Law of Moses, an ingathering of the Jewish exiles, God’s favor upon the Jewish people, complete observance of the Law of Moses, and the destruction of those who persecuted the Jewish people. This is hardly a fitting description of the Messianic era according to Christianity. The Torah’s most open prediction about the Messiah has him crushing Israel’s enemies and bringing victory to Israel – hardly a fitting description of Jesus.
The method that Brown uses to find the passages that “prefigure” Jesus, is a classic example of circular reasoning. He finds a parallel to Jesus in the binding of Isaac. But nowhere does the Torah tell us that the binding of Isaac has anything to do with the Messiah. If we allow the scriptures to tell us about the concept of the Messiah, we will end up with a completely different set of “prefigures”. After we know that the Messiah is supposed to be a redeemer, working victory for Israel (Numbers 24:9-14), we will realize that Moses and Joshua are the two men from the Five Books of Moses who most closely “prefigure” the Messiah.
2. Page 13
“There is nothing in Genesis 49:10 that would rule out Yeshua.”
This prophecy tells us that the Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah. This clearly eliminates the Christian Jesus as a viable candidate for the title of the Jewish Messiah. The Christian scriptures admit that Jesus did not have a Jewish father from the tribe of Judah. That claim is incompatible with the Jewish scriptures description of the Messiah. In order to qualify for the position of the Messiah according to this passage in Genesis you need a human father from the tribe of Judah.
3. Page 23
Here Brown addresses the “virgin birth” prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. Brown acknowledges that the word the prophet used (“alma”) does not mean “virgin”, rather the word refers to a young maiden, whether a virgin or not. Brown puts forth the argument that the Hebrew word “betula” also does not necessarily refer to a virgin, therefore when Isaiah wanted to refer to a virgin the Hebrew word “alma” was just as good as the word “betula”. Brown fails to tell his readers that when the Bible wants to refer to virginity it always uses the Hebrew word “betula” or a grammatical derivative of that word. (See Deuteronomy 22, and Judges 11:37). If the point Isaiah was making was a point about the virginity of the maiden he would have used “betula” and not “alma”.
Furthermore, this simple Hebraic point (the fact that “alma” means a “young maiden”), seems to have escaped the authors of the Christian scriptures. Both Matthew and Luke fail to tell us that Mary was young.
4. Page 27
Brown argues that we should recognize that Matthew made use of the “midrashic” method of interpreting scripture. The “midrashic” method of interpreting scripture is so flexible that it can be used to “prove” anything. The “midrashic” method of interpreting scripture is only valid when applied by people who are already recognized by God’s witnesses to be imbued with a spirit of Godliness. One cannot use the “midrashic” method of interpreting scripture to establish one’s own credibility.
5. Objection 4:4
Here Brown argues that Isaiah 9:5 is a reference to Jesus. Brown acknowledges that the context of the passage tells us that this child must be born eight centuries before Jesus (page 34). Brown argues that some Messianic prophecies were partially fulfilled in one time period, but only reached complete fulfillment in Jesus. Brown doesn’t seem to understand that the context of the prophecy clearly and unequivocally refers to the salvation that God wrought through Hezekiah’s prayer. That salvation was the destruction of Sennacherib’s hordes at the gates of Jerusalem. If we will look for a parallel to this event, it will be something akin to what is described in Numbers 24:14-19, or Micha 5:1-8. We will look for a victory for God and for His firstborn son, Israel, over those who want to annihilate them. We will not look for the founder of a new religion.
6. Page 41
“Interestingly, the national interpretation is not found once in the Talmuds, in the Targums, or the midrashim (in other words not once in all the classical foundational authoritative Jewish writings). In fact, it is not found in any traditional source until the time of Rashi…”
This statement is false. The Targum speaks of the suffering of the remnant of God’s nation in verse 10, the Talmud (Berachot 5a) speaks of the suffering of the righteous in relation to the same verse. The Midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 13:2) applies verse 12 to Israel as a whole. All of these support Rashi’s explanation that the passage refers to the righteous of Israel. Brown quotes these on page 59 but he doesn’t tell his readers how he makes this exaggerated statement on page 41. In any case Brown has missed some important midrashic references (3 references in Tana devei Eliyahu and one in Aleph Beitot D’Rabbi Akiva).
7. Page 43
Brown points to the passage in Isaiah 49 where God’s servant is called “Israel” yet is sent to redeem Israel. Brown argues that this can only be referring to an individual within the nation. According to Brown this individual can only be the Messiah. Brown seems to have forgotten Isaiah 51:12-16 where Israel is being addressed in plural terminology, yet they are sent to declare to Zion that they are God’s nation. It is obvious that the servant who is sent to Israel is not an individual but rather a plural entity. It is the righteous of Israel as Rashi affirms.
It is also interesting to note that this interpretation is supported by the Christian scriptures. Acts 13:47 interprets Isaiah 49:6, which speaks of the individual servant, as a reference to the righteous community.
8. Page 49
Brown claims that Nachmanidies “embraced” the Messianic interpretation. This is false. In his disputation with the apostate Nachmanidies said “According to its true sense it speaks only generally of the people of Israel”. In recognition that several midrashim apply the passage to the Messiah, Nacmanidies wrote a commentary explaining how this midrashic interpretation does not support Christianity. But he clearly says that he himself recognizes that the most straightforward reading of the text supports the national interpretation.
9. Page 50
Brown argues that it would have been tempting for the Jewish rabbis to interpret Isaiah 53 in a manner that negates the Christian manipulation of these verses.
Brown is projecting his own moral standards on the Rabbis. He is assuming that it is perfectly fine to conveniently reinterpret God’s word in order to avoid some polemical pressure. The Rabbis operated in an arena where the highest value is truth.
In any case, Christianity never posed a theological threat to Judaism. There was never a “temptation” for the Rabbis to reinterpret their own holy writings to avoid the Christian interpretation.
10. Page 56
Here we have the only substantial paragraph out of the 45 pages that Brown devotes to the discussion on Isaiah 53. It is here that Brown addresses the authentic Jewish interpretation as opposed to the fictional interpretation that he spends so much time refuting. Here Brown tells us why he cannot accept Rashi’s interpretation that applies Isaiah 53 to the righteous remnant. He argues that the remnant is not an identifiable entity. It has no specific history so the words “he grew up like a tender shoot, as a root from dry land” cannot apply to them. Second, Brown argues that the righteous remnant was not always silent and submissive in the face of their suffering. And third he argues that the righteous remnant was never exalted.
It seems that Brown has not read Isaiah 65:8-15 which describes the ultimate exaltation of the righteous remnant. When that exaltation occurs, people will realize that the suffering that the remnant underwent as part of Israel was for the purpose of cleansing the world. The history of the remnant is the history of Israel because Israel’s experiences are her experiences. And Israel was generally silent in the face of the Christian mobs who butchered them, especially the righteous remnant, as described in Psalm 44.
11. Page 61
Here Brown quotes Origen’s reply to those who argues that Isaiah 53 is a reference to Israel. His argument focuses on verse 8 where the servant is smitten for the sins of “my people”. It is safe to assume that the phrase “my people” is a reference to Israel, so the servant must be someone else. It seems that Origen, like Brown cannot understand that the servant is the righteous remnant. Thus the righteous remnant is smitten for the sins of Israel. In Isaiah 51:12-16 we see clearly how the prophet speaks to the righteous remnant and commissions them to declare to Israel – “you are My nation”.
Another point to consider here is the fact that Brown is contradicting himself. Here he insists that the speakers of this passage must be the people of Israel. Yet when he speaks of the healing brought about through the servant’s suffering, Brown speaks of “a sinning world” (page 52). We challenge Brown to identify the speaker of the passage. Is it specifically Israel, or is it the world at large?
When we focus on the “healing” that Jesus brought to Israel, we see the crusades, the inquisition, and the holocaust. None of these would have occurred had Jesus not been born.
Even when we focus on the nations that put their faith in Jesus, it is hard to find the “healing” that he brought them. The guilt of 2000 years of a deep hatred of God’s firstborn son (Israel) was brought upon the European people through Jesus and his followers. Had Jesus not been born, Europe would have been spared from this scourge. When one steps back and looks at the full scope of history, it becomes clear that Jesus did NOT bring healing to the world or to the Jewish people.
(The reader is referred to Contra-Brown for a more comprehensive analysis of Isaiah 53. This document is available at www.jewsforjudaism.org)
12. Page 90
Here Brown ridicules Rashi’s interpretation of Daniel 9. He compares it to the countdown towards an expected launching of a rocket – but no lift-off occurs. He does not tell his readers that on pages 95-100 he will speak of a Christian interpretation which has God’s program beginning at one point in time and coming to its final fulfillment at another time. It seems that this is allowed for Christians, but not for Rashi. The exile which begins at the close of the 490 years represents the beginning of God’s program, while the program will come to full fruition in the Messianic era. Rashi’s interpretation accurately notes that the cutting off of the anointed one takes place together with the destruction of the city (verse 26) – something that does not work with any of the Christian interpretations. Interestingly, in the 24 pages Brown devoted to the discussion on Daniel 9, he does not clearly address this basic Jewish objection – that the cutting off of the anointed one ought to occur together with the destruction of Jerusalem.
13. Page 103
Brown argues that the difficulty in joining the two time periods in Daniel 9:25 (the seven and sixty two weeks) is not grammatical. This is incorrect. The Hebrew word which follows the sixty two weeks (“tashuv”) lacks the prefix “and” (the Hebrew letter “vav”). Unless we recognize that the sixty two weeks is separated from the previous seven, the last part of the verse is hanging in the air in a grammatical sense.
14. Page 130
Brown charges that the Psalmist (Psalm 40) “failed miserably” to live out the ideal of the Torah. The Psalmist here is David (verse 1). God points to David as an example to be followed in obedience to the Torah (1Kings 11:38). It seems that God didn’t get a chance to read Dr. Brown’s book.
15. Page 131
Missionaries quote Psalm 45:7 as a proof that the Messiah is to be divine. The Psalmist literally addresses the king with the words “Your throne God forever”. The Jewish response to this missionary argument points out that the word used for “God” does not necessarily have to be translated that way. The same word could refer to a human judge. Furthermore, in context of the complete scripture we understand that the verse cannot be calling a human divine. Brown responds to this objection by advising his readers; “Try this simple test: Write out the verse in Hebrew by itself, give it to anyone who is fluent in biblical Hebrew and ask him or her to translate the verse.”
In the same vein I would suggest that the readers take Jesus’ statement to the Jewish people in John 8:44, 45: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth ye believe me not.” Ask them if the man who spoke these words was or was not a racist anti-Semite.
16. Page 133
Brown pontificates “we do best to take the scriptures in their most obvious basic sense, allowing the Bible to dictate our theology, rather than imposing our own theology on the word of God.” This remonstration is directed to the Jewish commentators who understand that a man cannot be God and interpret the Bible accordingly. Is Brown not aware that this is not “our own theology” but is firmly rooted in the words of the Bible? Furthermore, in volume two, Brown reinterprets every scriptural passage that explicitly declares the efficacy of repentance to cleanse from sin, in a manner that fits his own theology. It seems that “imposing our own theology on the word of God” is OK for Christians, but not for Jews. (For an expanded analysis see “The Elephant and the Suit” available at www.jewsforjudaism.org)
17. Page 143-145
Brown is in his lecturing mode again. Here he lectures the Jewish commentators for failing to take note of the priestly role of the Messiah. Brown argues that the scriptures speak of the Messiah and the priest as one person and he upbraids the Rabbis for failing to take note of this. The two scriptural references that Brown provides for his theory are Psalm 110 and Zechariah 6. As it relates to Psalm 110 the Rabbis had no problem acknowledging that this spoke of the Messiah as Brown himself points out on the previous page (142). So Brown’s accusation is simply false. The Rabbis did acknowledge that the Messiah is in some sense a priest. When it comes to the second reference (Zechariah 6) Brown tells us that the Rabbis interpreted the passage as a reference to two separate Messianic figures, a king and a priest. Brown then ridicules this interpretation and informs us that the only correct interpretation is that there is one figure that is both priestly and royal. What Brown fails to tell his readers is that the text in Zechariah explicitly makes reference to “the two of them”- obviously talking about two separate individuals.
My question to Dr. Brown is: Why do the Christian commentators fail to take note of the plurality of the redeemers mentioned explicitly several times in scripture (Obadiah 1:21, Micha 5:4, Zechariah 2:3, 4:14)?
18. Page 151
Brown argues that the multiple usages of the pronoun “they” in Zechariah 12:10 ought to refer to the same group of people. How about the pronoun “they” in 2Samuel 17:20,21?
In the larger context, Brown does not tell his readers of the obvious problem with the Christian interpretation. According to the Christian understanding, the mourning that will take place will be a cry of shame and embarrassment. Yet the prophet speaks of a mourning like the mourning of one who loses a child – hardly a fitting metaphor for a cry of shame. (The scriptures have no problem describing a cry of embarrassment and shame in a manner that is unambiguous – see Micha 7:10,16.) Furthermore, Brown has also failed to note the obvious parallel to 2Samuel 1 where David, the prototype of Messiah, inaugurates his kingdom with a lament for Saul. The parallels between the two stories are too striking to be ignored. These are the only two men in scripture who die through piercing (or stabbing with the Hebrew root d’k’r) and are mourned nationally. One event inaugurates the Messiah’s kingdom the other inaugurates David’s kingdom. In both situations a Jewish army was a contingent in a gentile army in a battle against other Jews (Zechariah 12:2 and 1Samuel 29:2) – the only two instances in scripture that such a situation occurs. And finally, Zechariah was not the only prophet who described Israel’s crying in the end of days Jeremiah described this spirit of grace and supplication as well (31:8, and 50:4). It is clearly not a cry of shame, but a cry of prayerful entreaty to God, who will have compassion on His firstborn son, Israel.
19. Objection 4.32
“Jesus fulfilled none of the Messianic prophecies!
To the contrary, we know that Jesus is the Messiah because he fulfilled so many Messianic prophecies.”
This is false. Christians “know” that Jesus is their Messiah because of their emotional experience. In Brown’s own life, he first had a subjective encounter with Jesus and only afterward did he learn that Jesus “fulfilled” the Messianic prophecies.
Let us examine the prophecies that Brown claims that Jesus fulfilled.
Brown tells us: “He was born where the prophet said he would be born (cf. Targum Jonathan, Rashi, Radak on Micha 5:2).”
The prophet says nothing about the Messiah’s birthplace (neither does the Targum, Rashi, or the Radak). The prophet spoke of the clan from which the Messiah will come. The prophet is talking about a family, not a geographical location.
Brown tells us: “He came into the world when the prophets said he would (according to the combined prophetic witness of Daniel, Haggai, and Malachi, along with hints found in the Talmud…).”
I have dealt extensively with this argument in Contra-Brown. To summarize we can say that none of these prophecies are quoted by the authors of Christian scripture as support for Jesus’ claims. According to Brown (page 18) a prophecy that is quoted only once by the Christian scriptures cannot be considered a “central” prophecy. This should certainly hold true with prophecies that are never quoted at all. There are serious problems with the Christian interpretations of these passages. These problems include (but are not limited to); the cutting off of the anointed mentioned by Daniel is to occur at the same time as the destruction of Jerusalem, The glory that Haggai speaks of is attributed to the Temple, not to a replacement of the Temple, and the visitation that Malachi speaks of is one that brings back the Levitical priesthood, not one which deposes it.
Brown: “He performed miraculous deeds of deliverance and healing, in accordance with the prophecies of Isaiah (Isa. 35:5-7; 49:6-7; 61:1-3).”
Isaiah 35:5-7 explicitly tells us that these miracles will occur at the time of Israel’s physical restoration to the land. Isaiah 49:6-7 does not speak of miraculous healings. It speaks of God’s deliverance, which again, is associated with Israel’s physical restoration to their land. And Isaiah 61:1-3 also speaks of Israel’s physical restoration. In fact specific mention is made of comforting the mourners of Zion. These are those who yearn for Israel’s restoration and honor, not those who look forward to Israel’s embarrassment.
Brown: “He was rejected by his own people, as was prophesied (Ps. 118:22; Isa. 49:4; 53:2-4).”
Psalm 118 does not explicitly speak of the Messiah. Isaiah 49 describes the subject as a servant to rulers, not a very fitting description of Jesus. And Isaiah 53, speaks of a rejection by the kings of nations, not by the subject’s own people.
Brown: “He suffered before his exaltation, as the prophets declared (Psalm 22; Isa. 52:13-15; Zech. 9:9).”
Psalm 22 does not explicitly speak of the Messiah. Isaiah 53 also does not explicitly speak of the Messiah, and the exaltation described by the prophet does not fit the career of Jesus. Zechariah speaks of a king who will put an end to war and govern in a literal sense, not a person who inspired more bloodshed than any other person in history.
Brown: “He died and then rose from the dead, according to the scriptures (Isaiah 53; Psalm 16; 22).”
Isaiah 53 is not talking of the Messiah. Psalm 16 and 22 don’t speak about a resurrection, they don’t mention the Messiah either. In any case, there is no reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. The only people that claim to have witnessed this event were people who were already totally devoted to him. It is clear that the standard of evidence that these people would have required before believing a resurrection would not be the same as the standard of evidence that an objective bystander would require.
Brown: “He has brought the light of God to the nations, as the prophets said he would (Isaiah 42, 49, 52) – so that countless millions of people who were once “pagans” now worship the God of Israel through him.”
Isaiah and the other scriptural prophets clearly and explicitly prophesied that the light will only come to the nations with the physical restoration of Israel (Isaiah 17:12 – 18:7, 25:1 – 8, 30:26, 34:1 – 35:10, 40:1 – 11, 41:17 – 20, 49:8 – 13, 52:7 – 10, Zephaniah 3:8 – 20, Psalm 9:8 – 13, 40, 66, 69, 98, 102, 117). The prophets were not looking forward to an age where a human being, a subject of nature, is deified by many nations. The prophets looked forward to a day when the only one exalted is the Supreme Master of Nature.
Brown: “His last act, before he returns to Jerusalem in power and glory, will be to turn his people Israel back to him (Isaiah 49) – and it is this that he is now doing!”
Isaiah 49 speaks nothing about a “last act” and the restoration that the prophet is talking of has nothing to do with an insidious missionary campaign that only succeeds amongst those who are ignorant of their heritage.
Thus the “main” messianic prophecies that Jesus allegedly fulfilled are either, non-existent, not messianic prophecies, not fulfilled by Jesus, or testify against the claims of Christianity. The Jewish objection rings loud and clear – Jesus fulfilled none of the Messianic prophecies.
20. Page 154
Brown goes on to argue that there are many “minor, specific fulfillments, along with allusions, foreshadowings, and midrashic (i.e., homiletical) applications of texts” that were fulfilled by Jesus. He provides the following list: “he was to betrayed by a friend, sold for thirty pieces of silver, be forsaken by his disciples, be accused by false witnesses, be mocked and beaten, be pierced in his hands and feet, be crucified with thieves, pray for his persecutors, be the object of ridicule, have his garments gambled for, be deserted by God, agonize with thirst, commit himself to God, have his friends stand far off, be spared having his bones broken, be pierced be hidden by darkness, be buried with the rich, and die a voluntary, substitutionary death.” Brown goes on to admit that not all of these references can be called messianic prophecies. Brown explains that the authors of the Christian scriptures “in keeping with the sentiments later expressed in the Rabbinic writings, saw the whole of the Hebrew scriptures as pointing to King Messiah.”
Some of these “allusions” are nowhere to be found in the Jewish scriptures. No one in the Jewish scriptures was sold for thirty pieces of silver, no one is pierced in his hands and feet, no one is crucified with thieves, and no one is buried with the rich. These are the products of the Christian imagination.
Even the allusions that are to be found in scripture do not support Brown’s position. Using Brown’s arguments we could say one can claim to be the Messiah if he sleeps (Psalm 3:5, 4:9), cries every night (Psalm 6:7), does battle against enemy regiments (Psalm 18:30), leaps over a wall (Psalm 18:30), NOT to die with sinners (Psalm 26:9), to bring offerings of victory in the Temple (Psalm 27:6), be abandoned by his parents – both father and mother (Psalm 27:10), NOT to be given over into the hands of his enemies (Psalm 31:9), be saved from a besieged city (Psalm 31:22), to afflict himself with fasting when his enemies fall sick (Psalm 35:13), to be saved from a mud-filled pit (Psalm 40:3), be healed from sickness (Psalm 41:4), be considered sub-human (Isaiah 52:14), be barred from habitation with other people (Isaiah 53:3), be buried with the wicked (Isaiah 53:9), be killed with the rich (Isaiah 53:9), be unjustly accused of violence and deception (Isaiah 53:9), and be hired for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).
I do not believe that the Messiah has to accomplish any of these, what I am demonstrating here is that Brown’s list of “allusions” is entirely arbitrary and proves nothing.
21. Page 157
Brown argues that the Rabbinic application of scripture to identify the Messiah is more convoluted than the Christian application of scripture. After quoting some midrashic references to the Messiah Brown asks his readers: “Whose interpretation of the Messianic texts is more sober and systematic, the Jewish authors of the New Testament, or the Jewish authors of the Rabbinic texts? Clearly, it is the former.”
Here Brown is at the height of his audacity. If you ask a Jew what he believes about the Messiah he will tell you to read the Jewish bible. You will find a clear understanding of the Messiah and his times. The midrashic literature only complements the picture after it is already clearly developed by the prophets. The midrashim do not argue with the biblical portrait, they only enhance it. The Christian vision of the Messiah stands as a polar opposite to the Messiah of the Jewish Bible. According to the Jewish scriptures we understand that the Messiah will destroy Israel’s physical enemies (Numbers 24:17), will be imbued with a spirit of fear of God (Isaiah 11:2), will judge the people on earth with righteousness (Isaiah 11:4), will smite the wicked dead (Isaiah 11:4), Israel will dwell in security under his reign (Jeremiah 23:6), in his time, evil beasts will no longer affect the Land of Israel (Ezekiel 34:25), in his time, the fruit of the land will be blessed (Ezekiel 34:26), under his reign, those who oppress Israel will be broken (Ezekiel 34:27), under his reign, Israel will no longer be plundered by their enemies (Ezekiel 34:28), in his time Israel will be gathered from all the lands and brought back to their own land (Ezekiel 37:21), in his time Israel will observe God’s law (Ezekiel 37:24), in his times God’s sanctuary will be with the Jewish people to the eyes of all the nations (Ezekiel 37:26,27),
The prophets compare the Messiah to David (Jeremiah 30:9, Ezekiel 34:23, 37:24, Hosea 3:5). It is obvious that the comparison does not apply to every peripheral activity of David (such as being thirsty). Rather, the prophets are pointing to the central features of David’s personality in order to give us an understanding of the Messiah. David was constantly praising God (Psalm 34:2), David’s love for God, reverence for God, and gratitude towards God, fill the Psalms. David is described as the sweet singer of Israel (or – the one who gives pleasantness to Israel’s songs – 2Samuel 23:1). David’s love for God’s law (Psalm 119:97), and his awareness of his own sins (Psalm 51:5) were a constant and integral part of David’s life. In order to give expression to his total love for God, David put aside his own honor as king of Israel (2Samuel 6:14).
This is the Messiah that God taught us to wait for. The character that is described by the writers of the Christian scriptures possessed none of these qualities.
22. Page 158
Brown tells us that a traditional Jew told him that the burden of proof is on the Christian to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. Brown argues that this is not so since “Jesus fulfilled many clear and significant biblical prophecies”.
Brown doesn’t seem to understand the concept: “burden of proof”. In every trial it is necessary to first determine who it is that bears the burden of proof. In a situation where someone is accused of a crime it is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove the person’s guilt. We say that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. In the case of Christianity the burden of proof is totally upon the Christian. Until the missionary provides conclusive proof – the missionaries themselves should recognize that it is immoral to accept their claims. Every Christian would admit that if Jesus was not who he claimed to be then devotion to him would be idolatrous. If there is the slightest reasonable doubt that Jesus is not who he claimed to be, then the missionary should understand that no one can morally accept his claims. From the Jewish perspective it is obvious that Jesus did not fulfill even one of the Messianic prophecies. But even from Brown’s erroneous perspective, where he sees Jesus fulfilling many prophecies, he should still recognize that he has not proved his point. Brown recognizes that there are many clear and significant prophecies that Jesus did not fulfill. Brown should also recognize that the entire theory of a “second coming” has no real biblical basis. So how could he expect anyone to accept the claims of Jesus?
23. Objection 4.33
“Jesus fulfilled none of the provable prophecies!…
I’ll divide my answer into four parts: 1) provable prophecies fulfilled by Yeshua that no one else can ever fulfill, 2) provable prophecies fulfilled by Yeshua of a worldwide, indisputable nature, 3) provable prophecies that continue to be fulfilled, and 4) provable prophecies yet to be fulfilled.”
To show how Jesus fulfilled some provable prophecies that “no one else can ever fulfill”, Brown again turns to his interpretation of Haggai, Malachi and Daniel where he sees that the Messiah had to come before the destruction of the Second Temple. Brown adds that; “In a sense, these are the most important of all the so-called provable prophecies”. If these “prophecies” are indeed so important then why do the Christian scriptures never mention them?
According to Brown, Jesus fulfilled certain provable prophecies on a worldwide scale. These prophecies were fulfilled, explains Brown, by the conversion of many people to Christianity.
This argument assumes what it attempts to prove. Brown must admit that if Jesus is not who he claimed to be, then worship of him is idolatry. The fact that many people have converted to Christianity proves nothing if Christianity is idolatry.
In endnote 324, Brown tries to distinguish between Jesus and Muhammad. Brown tells us that the difference between these two men is that Jesus claimed to fulfill the prophecies of the Jewish Bible while Muhammad did not make such a claim. The fact that Jesus made this claim, only works against him. Since he did not in fact fulfill the prophecies of the Jewish Bible, his claim only gives him the attribute of fraud.
Brown claims that Jesus is continuously fulfilling provable prophecies. The miracle healings that take place amongst Christians are understood by Brown to be a fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah – 35:1-7, 42:1-7, 49:5-6, 61:1-3. These prophecies speak in the context of Israel’s physical restoration to their land. Wrenching these prophecies out of their scriptural context does not enhance Jesus’ credibility. It is important to note that miracle healings are not the exclusive possession of Evangelical Christians. Many other religious groups experience the same miracles.
24. Objection 4.36
“Jesus cannot be the Messiah because the Messiah had to rebuild the Temple, yet the Temple was still standing in Jesus’ day.”
Brown responds to this objection with an attempt to downplay the position of the Temple in the Messianic era. Maimonides teaching that part of the Messiah’s role is to rebuild the Temple is erroneous according to Brown. Brown accuses Maimonides of “painting a picture of the Messiah that 1) would be in agreement with rabbinic Judaism, 2) would rule out Yeshua as a candidate.” (Page 178). Brown assures us that Maimonides opinion has no Biblical basis.
This is one of the more preposterous of Brown’s arguments. Let us see what the Bible teaches about the Temple in the Messianic era. Isaiah mentions the Temple four times in his vision of the future. “And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established on top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and the nations of the world shall flow unto it” (2:2).”And I shall bring them to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer, their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on My altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people” (56:7). “All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered unto you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be brought up with favor upon My Altar, and I will glorify the House of My Splendor” (60:7). “The glory of Lebanon will come to you – cypress, fir, and box tree together – to glorify the place of My Sanctuary; and I will bring honor to the place of My feet” (60:13). Jeremiah speaks of the bringing of thanksgiving offerings in the House of the Lord in the context of a Messianic prophecy (33:11). In the same passage Jeremiah assures us that the priests will be bringing various types of offerings (33:18). Joel tells us that a spring will flow forth from the House of the Lord in the Messianic age (Joel 4:18). Micha assures us that the House of the Lord will be exalted in the Messianic era (4:1). Zechariah speaks of the temple in the context of the Messianic era as well (14:20,21). All of these prophecies explicitly mention the Temple. There are many other prophecies which speak of Zion or Jerusalem in a manner that gives us to understand that they are talking of a rebuilt Temple. We also haven’t mentioned Ezekiel’s prophecies on the subject. Ezekiel devotes several chapters to a description of the Temple in the Messianic era (40 – 47). Furthermore, Ezekiel tells us that one of the great accomplishments of the Messianic era will be: “Then the nations shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel when My Sanctuary shall be amongst them forever” (37:28).
This is part of what the Bible teaches us about the Temple in the Messianic age. What does Brown tell us about the Temple in the Messianic age?
The first thing Brown does is that he puts the Jewish argument into a straightjacket. He deals with this issue as if the only question is; Will the Messiah personally rebuild the Temple? When Maimonides says that the Messiah will rebuild the Temple he is not restricting it to the Messiah personally building the building. He is talking of a rebuilding of the Temple in the Messiah’s time. It is obvious that the issue is not if the Messiah will personally rebuild the temple. The issue is how central is the Temple to the Messianic vision. According to Judaism the Temple is central to the Messianic hope, while according to Christianity it is certainly not a central factor. Brown himself is not even sure if there is going to be any physical Temple at all in the Messianic era. After explaining how the Church is some sort of spiritual Temple, Brown graciously offers; “Having said all this, there is still a third possibility that our Messiah will rebuild a physical Temple in Jerusalem …” (Page 178).
This is amazing. There are more verses in scripture that explicitly speak about the Temple in the Messianic era than there are verses that are manipulated by Dr. Brown to teach about all of the Christian conjectures about the Messiah combined. And here we have Brown accusing Maimonides of failing to pay heed to the Biblical script!
25. Page 172
Brown further tries to downplay the significance of the Temple by telling us that the only prophet that mentions anything that could be read as the Messiah building the Temple is Zechariah. According to Dr. Brown it would seem that if a prophecy is mentioned only once, it should not be taken too seriously. The amazing thing is that this very prophecy of Zechariah is entitled by Brown “the most overt passage in the Bible where a human being is explicitly identified with a Messianic figure” (The Case for the Real Jesus, Strobel, page 199). When it fits Brown’s agenda, the prophecy is the most important teaching of the Bible. When it doesn’t fit his agenda, the same prophecy becomes a lonely prophecy that has no significance. In this same book (page 144) Brown highlights this passage in Zechariah in order to “prove” that the Messiah is to die for the expiation of sin – a concept that is stated nowhere in the passage. Brown takes Rashi to task for failing to see the Messianic implications of this passage (page 145). Yet when it comes to the rebuilding of the Temple – a concept that is explicitly stated in the text of this same passage – Brown readily quotes the very same statement from Rashi (that rejects the Messianic interpretation of the passage) to support his argument that the Messiah does not need to rebuild the Temple.
26. Page 186
Brown talks of a “rapidly growing underground movement of Orthodox and Hasidic Jews” who believe in Jesus. Of-course since this imaginary movement is “underground”, Brown will not be able to supply us with names and addresses. He expects his readers to take his word for it.
27. Page 189
“Messianic prophecies are not clearly identified as such.”
This is amazing. Brown believes that the main purpose of the Jewish Bible is to predict the advent of the Messiah, yet the prophecies are not clearly identified?! And on what basis can he make such a preposterous statement? The prophets gave us a clear hope for Israel’s future. There are many prophecies in the Jewish Bible which clearly talk of the Messianic era, and of the Messiah. These include but are not limited to Numbers 24:14-19, Deuteronomy 4:30, 30:1-10, 32:43, Jeremiah 3:14-18, 16:14,15,19, 23:3-5, 30:3,7-11,16-25, 31:1-39, 32:37-44, 33:6-26, 46:27,28,50:4,5,19,20, Ezekiel 11;17-20, 17:22-24, 20:40-44, 28:24-26, 34:9-16,22-31, 36:6-16,22-38,37:1-28,38:1-48:35, Isaiah 1:26, 2:2-4, 4:2-6, 10:33-12:6, 24:21-25:9, 30:26, 34:1, 40:1-11,41:10-20, 43:5-10, 44:1-5 49:8-26, 51:11,22-52:12, 54:1-55:5, 56:7, 60:1-63:9, 65:17-25, 66:10-24, Hosea 2:1-3,16-25, Joel 3;1-5, 4:1-21, Amos 9:11-15, Obadiah 1;17-21, Micha 4:1-7, 5:1-13, 7:8-20, Zephaniah 3;9-20, Zechariah 2:9, 8:2-8, 14:3-21, Malachi 3:4,16-24, Psalms 51:20,21, 69:36,37, 98:1-3, 102:14-23, 126:1-6, Daniel 2;44, 7:18,22,27, 12:2,3, Can anyone question the fact that these prophecies are the hope and promise of Israel’s glorious future? How can Brown say that messianic prophecies are not clearly identified? More important is the question; Why does Brown say that the messianic prophecies are not clearly identified? The obvious answer to this question is that Brown never seems to have approached scripture with an open mind. It seems that he never asked himself; What would a Jew before Jesus’ times have believed about the Messianic era? What would scripture have taught him about the Messiah? Who and what does God encourage us to hope for? Had Brown asked himself these basic questions, he would have realized that the scriptures are very clear on these issues. The problem is that Brown started the other way. He first came to believe in Jesus. He then looked back into the Jewish scriptures and tried to understand Jesus’ claim that the prophets predicted his coming. Things tend to get quite murky if you read the book that way. When Brown tells us that Messianic prophecies are not clearly identified as such, he is admitting that the preconceived notions of Christianity cannot be readily seen in the Bible.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal