Annelise on The Torah Path

Annelise on The Torah Path

 

Much of the Christians’ expression of love for God and connection with Him is based on a sense of pathos: awe-filled compassion about the humility and suffering of the incarnation idea. This joins with thankfulness for undeserved grace that is seen as costly, and therefore a sense of (amazingly) shared experience with God in the human situation and the hope of healing our world. The body, the face, the words, the presence, and the feelings of this historical figure are therefore allowed into a realm of worship into which many Christians would even die rather than allow any other thing or personality that they thought was created.

 

Countless traditional Jews have also given up everything rather than go anywhere near the idolisation of any man, woman, or thing in this world, including the one admired by Christians as ‘God incarnate’. According to the testimony of their lives and deaths, that man is not part of the worship revealed to their ancestors and experienced by them, and so the practice must be turned from sharply and loyally.

 

Another part of the Christian’s love for God is based in an expression of joy in regards to ‘already-fulfilled’ hope and glory. This messianism, while its praise is intended to go to God, treats those who wait for God’s promises to flourish in another way as if they were enemies of light. Such abuse of the honour given by God Himself to those who wait patiently and faithfully for Him is an ugly result of the misdirected Christian vision of glory.

 

How can people have a real and living relationship with our Creator if those elements of the Christian understanding are absent, even shunned, as falsehood? To a Christian, their real experience of knowing God may seem immensely precious according to that false expression. But the relationship that observant Jews have with God through His Torah and a daily knowledge of dependence, thankfulness, and the honour of being His servant is in itself so deep that no other reason is needed to compell them to protect it against such violations as the direction of worship towards a man they know to be created.

 

Hashem alone is attractive and precious to them, the one whose existence and holiness go far beyond us and who still is close at hand. Every blessing is a gift from Him, and every moment of existence is an immediate connection with Him through His will, His giving-desire. Every single facet of the heavens, of the earth, even the realms of meaning and of spirit, is dependent on Him for its being and gives praise to Him for substance.

 

And how can this be believed in the face of immeasurable suffering in our world? Christians point to God ‘feeling our pain’, but aren’t rabbinic Jews left with a Creator who is absent from human experience? Why count blessing as His kindness if we do not count pain as His cruelty (God forbid)?

 

The impression of this issue in Tanach is that when things seem good we should thank God, and when things are awful we nonetheless can’t say He is immoral. This is the theme of the end of the book of Job, and other passages. Whatever happens, He deserves us and we should still serve Him. There’s no question about fearing and serving God, in the light of creation. But what about love?

 

It seems the reason people love God in the Tanach is more personal: a thankful belief that He has made a way for us to be in His favour.

 

His love is incomprehensible through circumstances, and it is right to be awestruck by Him and admit that we can’t make sense of His wisdom. But in creating within each of us the ability to draw near Him, He has shown us true kindness and favour, which deserve in our lives a real response of love, connection, and trust, even in this broken world. As we go through life trusting Him, the relationship draws deeper, purer, and nearer. And this is the experience of Israel in the path of Torah.

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162 Responses to Annelise on The Torah Path

  1. Jim says:

    Annelise,

    Good work here.

    If I may add to what you’ve written: Belief in Jesus is a terrible distraction.

    The Christian spends a lot of time praising Jesus, and the reason should be obvious. According to the Christian, God was unable to forgive them of their sins. They were totally separated from Him, because of their imperfections. Moreover, they had a place reserved for them in Hell. The only way to be reunited with God and to be saved from Hell was for someone pure and innocent to die on their behalf. And obviously that someone was Jesus.

    Now, let’s compare the two “persons” of Christian godhead. One is standing in judgment over the world. The other is willing to die on their behalf to save them from a fate literally worse than death, but which they deserve. The Christian will affirm that they love God. But much of their devotion, probably most goes to Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, probably the most quoted verse in the NT). God’s love is so great, according to this verse that He sent someone to die in place of those who would trust in Jesus. But what follows, and what the verse doesn’t say, is that Jesus loved them more. He was the one actually willing to die.

    Jesus is the one sweating great drops of blood at Gethsemane, praying, “Please take this cup from me, but not my will but your will be done.” Here we have a Jesus terrified of being offered up as a sacrifice, but he is willing to do it. He wishes there was another way. However, the Christian god demands the blood of an innocent, and so he submits his will to the terrible will of their god. Some Christians will say that God suffered as well, because He had to lose His son, but the level of sacrifice isn’t the same.

    For those who have read “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, this should be clear. All the devotion of those books is directed toward Aslan, the Jesus figure. “The Emperor over the Sea” or for Christians, the Heavenly Father of the godhead, is distant, a being to which almost none of the devotion is directed and about whom very little is written. And this is natural. It is Aslan who dies that Edmund’s treachery be forgiven. He’s the one who sacrifices himself and at the end of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” saves the day. The Emperor over the Sea is a distant figure, one who is inactive, who created the laws that demand the life of an innocent on behalf of the guilty.

    Because of this, Christians are terribly distracted from their worship of God, the true God. In their minds, God had created a system of laws they couldn’t keep. He created a system wherein the sin of one man and woman would become endemic, and each would be imbued at birth with a sin nature through no fault of his own. This same system would separate them eternally from the very God it was the natural human condition to desire to be with. And that system would demand the death of an innocent. A second person of the godhead would lower himself to human status, a remarkable act of humility in itself. And he would die on their behalf, a sacrifice of which they could never be worthy. Which of the two persons inspires love and which inspires fear? Clearly, even when they don’t realize it, most Christians direct most of their devotion, love, and adoration to the one who actually died on their behalf, rather than the one who created a system demanding their deaths or the death of the innocent.

    Jim

    • Annelise says:

      A lot of Christians would say that to imagine J as separate to ‘the Father’ like that is to ignore the unity of God… they may believe in relationship existing within God but they also believe God is one and therefore would reject the ideas here. I’m not saying it makes sense or is any good, and I agree that the idea of J is a distraction. It is just that many Christians don’t dare to separate ‘God’ into distinct parts, they accept the tension of what they think is a mystery, and they do love the Creator as kind and think that J ‘was Him’. It’s pretty bad but… I just think what you’re saying applies to some Christians and not to all. What do you think?

      • Jim says:

        Annelise,

        I’m very sorry to have overlooked your response.

        Christian belief is so very complex, that you are right to point out that nothing I said applies to all Christians. In fact, pretty much nothing could be said that applies to all Christians. (Of course, none of this applies to David, who maintains that Jesus isn’t God.)

        Everything I wrote is really about the story their faith tells and the way it leads their devotion and gratitude. But most Christians, including Lewis, would argue that what I said wasn’t really true. They don’t even realize how the NT has moved them away from directing their primary attention to Jesus rather than God. They would argue that in honoring the one they honor the other.

        The fact of the matter is, the Christian faith plays things both ways. When they want to insist on the oneness of the father and the son, they do. When they want to emphasize their differences, they do that. And they see no contradiction. They’ll say that the trinity is comprised of “one what and three whos”. And this makes it impossible to ever pin them down on something. If you talk about the distinctions, they’ll say, as you point out, “No, no, no, you don’t understand; we worship one god.” But if you point out that it is impossible for God to not know something, as when Jesus says that “no man knows the day or the hour”, not even himself, then they run to the three persons. Heads I win, tails you lose.
        They want things both ways. But mostly they don’t realize it. When God says He alone is Savior, and there is none other, as in Isaiah, they run right back to the one what, rather than the three whos. They’ll say that Jesus can be Savior, because he is God. Forget the personal pronouns that mean this isn’t about a what, but a who. They need them to be one right now. Are they being intentionally obtuse? No, I don’t think so.

        One thing you might notice among Christian apologists is that they rarely read Tanach to find out what it says. They mostly read it to find a way to apply it to Jesus. And that itself is a sign of the distraction. Everything ends up being about the Messiah to them, even verses that have nothing to be with him. It’s a terrible distraction. But I don’t think it’s malice. When I was a Christian, I wasn’t intentionally being obtuse.

        The amount of emphasis that is put on Jesus will of course vary from denomination to denomination and individual to individual. But that’s where the emphasis stays for most, even those who talk about loving the Creator. They believe that Jesus is the creator, but that’s not the role they love him for. They love him for the sacrifice he made. They are usually less thankful for their existence than their redemption through the cross. So, even though they love Jesus as their god, that role is secondary to his role as savior.

        I agree that they won’t see it this way. And I apologize to those who will be offended by what I said. But I try to just follow the logic. My striving is after truth.

        • Dina says:

          Jim, I was surprised when I found out that Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia was a Christian allegory. To me it was just great fiction written in Lewis’s delightful storytelling voice. But as soon as someone points it out to you, it’s so obvious! I confess that I still love it as an epic fantasy (and I even published a cookbook based on it).

          You’re right that Christians don’t understand this distinction. I argued once with a Christian who got very frustrated that I didn’t get it that God is like a three-dimensional object. I tried to point out that Jesus is described as a separate entity in Christian scripture, but I got nowhere with him!

          Thanks for some really great, clear thinking on this topic.

          Dina

    • David says:

      Hi Jim,

      Regarding the distraction or confusion amongst Christians between God and Jesus:

      God, by sending his son Jesus revealed himself as never before. When we see a man perfectly obedient to the Father we see God through that man.

      Christians are taught in scripture that in all things we are to give thanks to God in the name of Jesus. There is always a distinction, yet a connection between the two.

      Regarding the connection with Abraham and Isaac, I agree with you and don’t really see the analogy there. But in your argument along those lines you also mentioned Sodom and Gomorrah. God could have saved the many through the righteousness of the few. Yes, I agree, and this theme is repeated in the OT. God also saves the many through the death of the few and that’s repeated as well. Sometimes God uses an intermediary and sometimes not. That’s also repeated.

      Ultimately it is God who saves and He chooses the method. In the case of Christianity, God so loved that world that he sent his only son. He could have planned it all out some other way, but He didn’t.

      • Dina says:

        I’m looking forward to Jim’s typically on-target response, but I hope he won’t mind my jumping in with one point:

        You wrote: “When we see a man perfectly obedient to the Father we see God through that man.”

        I do not see perfect obedience in Jesus. I don’t know how anyone reading Christian scripture could miss the fact that he didn’t “fulfill the law” (in fact it’s impossible for one human being to do that, since some laws don’t apply across the board to everyone, as I shall show you) and that he violated others. These were God’s laws that he took into his own hands to dispense with as he pleased; how is that obedience?

        Examples of laws Jesus did not fulfill:

        1. Jesus did not fulfill the commandment to get married (Genesis 2:24).
        2. Jesus did not fulfill the commandment to procreate (Genesis 1:28).
        3. Because he was not a woman, he could not fulfill the commandments specific to women (such as bringing a sacrifice after childbirth, laws of ritual purity regarding menstruation, etc.).
        4. Because he was not a kohen or Levite he couldn’t fulfill the commandments specific to the service in the Temple.
        5. Because he was not a farmer he could not fulfill the commandments specific to working the earth and raising livestock.
        6. Because he was not a judge, he could not fulfill the commandments specific to judging cases. Even if he were a judge, he would not have judged every kind of case mentioned in the Torah.
        7. Christian scripture doesn’t show him fulfilling the commandments about taking care of the poor, orphans, widows, and strangers, giving charity, helping his enemies load their donkeys, etc.
        8. Because he was not a father, he could not fulfill commandments pertaining to education (like “and you shall tell your children”).
        9. Because he did not have a human father, he couldn’t be fulfill “honor your father.”
        10. Did he fulfill the commandment of sending away the mother bird? Levirate marriage? And so on and so forth.

        Now here are commandments he outright violated:

        1.Honor your mother (Mark 3:33-35).
        2. The Sabbath.
        3. Fasting on Yom Kippur (because he abolished fasts).
        4. Washing dishes.
        5. Eating only kosher food.
        6. He ate bread on Passover.
        7. Do not add or detract from the law–see the law of divorce and the Sermon on the Mount for examples.
        8. Destroying the fig tree (violating the prohibition to destroy fruit-bearing trees).
        9. His relations with his fellows were also sorely lacking (for example, the harsh, angry tone he uses with the Pharisees–no “love your enemies” there!). So he violated “you shall not aggrieve your fellow.”

        And more examples abound.

        • Dina, I will follow your example, and jump into a discussion:
          to fulfil the Law, why is it necessary to obey commands that are not directly applicable? Your concept renders such fulfillment impossible. Would a man have to become a woman too to obey those aspects of the Law that apply only to women?
          As to the alleged breaches:
          1.Hono[u]r your mother (Mark 3:33-35).
          It was no dishonour at all to delay her admission whilst he finished teaching, nor to indicate that all believers enjoy familial intimacy with their God.
          2. The Sabbath.
          He kept the Sabbath and encouraged His disciples to, according to the written Law, unless you think that healing the sick was a violation?
          3. Fasting on Yom Kippur (because he abolished fasts).
          He kept it.
          4. Washing dishes.
          Excuse me, where in the Torah is this required?
          5. Eating only kosher food.
          He kept Kosher.
          6. He ate bread on Passover.
          Unleavened bread. – where’s the transgression in that?
          7. Do not add or detract from the law–see the law of divorce and the Sermon on the Mount for examples.
          This is your most significant charge, though He strengthens the Law, and does not repeal it in each case. Only a lawgiver has the right to change the Law.
          8. Destroying the fig tree (violating the prohibition to destroy fruit-bearing trees).
          It was not an act of war that lead to this curse, but an extremely specific and important lesson – it was His unique act of cursing.
          9. His relations with his fellows were also sorely lacking (for example, the harsh, angry tone he uses with the Pharisees–no “love your enemies” there!). So he violated “you shall not aggrieve your fellow.”
          Look at the gentle, pleading tone of the first encounters again (Lk.7.40-48, Lk. 15.25-31,). Following repeated attempts of assault and murder, His warning tone becomes clearer and clearer, but even in His most fierce reproofs there is the strongest appeal for repentance, in the same vein as Jeremiah or Isaiah’s (Isa.1.4-6, 17-18, 57.3-15, Jer. 5.23-4,6.26-30, need I add more?).

          • Annelise says:

            This is in many parts the right answer to that accusation, I think.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Charles.

            This comment is ridiculously long. Please forgive. I took a lot of time to do this and only covered Mark and Matthew. But before I list for you the ways Jesus wasn’t perfect in his obedience to the law, let me just say that the reason I pointed out all the ways he couldn’t fulfill the law, not being a woman, Levite, etc., was just to show that the idea that he “fulfilled” the law or “completed” it is nonsense. No human can do that because not all of the law applies to all types of humans at all times. You did not address all his transgressions, such as getting married and having children, so I’m curious to get your thoughts on that. You responded to my comment on my example for a standard of evidence (and I used the teaching on monotheism as an example) but I don’t know if I’ll get to that before next week. We are working a lot of threads at once!

            Here’s my list of sources, with some scant explanations:

            Mark 1:20; Matthew 4:22: They leave their father in the boat, with Jesus’s approval.
            Mark 2:18-22: Jesus abolishes the fasts.
            Mark 2:23-38: Jesus violates the Sabbath by plucking grain.
            Mark 3:33-35; Matthew 12:46-50: Jesus is disrespectful to his mother.
            Mark 5:12-13: Why kill the innocent pigs?
            Mark 7:1-4: Washing metal vessels acquired from non-Jews must be purified by being washed in water (Numbers 31:22-23).
            Mark 7:15-19: Jesus abolishes the kosher laws.
            Mark 7:27: Violates Leviticus 25:17.
            Mark 10:1-12: Jesus forbids divorce, which is permitted according to Torah law.
            Mark 10:28-31: Jesus encourages renouncing all worldly things, including family—which would mean abandoning parents.
            Mark 11:1-6; Matthew 21:2: This is called stealing.
            Mark 11:13-14: Jesus violates Deuteronomy 20:19. I can use an a fortiori argument here: if even in war and in enemy territory you can’t cut down a fruit-bearing tree, a fortiori you can’t cut down a fruit-bearing tree in peace time anywhere.
            Mark 11:15-19: Jesus destroys others’ property.
            Mark 12:38-39: Jesus violate “love your fellow.”
            Mark 12:40: Jesus engages in slander, a biblical prohibition.
            Mark 14:22: Says that Jesus ate bread. Doesn’t note whether it was unleavened or not. What word is used in Greek? לחם is leavened bread and מצה is unleavened.
            Mark 14:22-24: This pagan custom makes me shudder in revulsion.
            Mark 14:32-41: Does Jesus practice what he preaches? Jesus spends a good part of the night in prayer. In Mark 12:40, he castigates the Pharisees for making lengthy prayers.
            Matthew 5:22: Jesus did not practice what he preached but called his fellow Jews all sorts of horrible names (hypocrites, brood of vipers, children of the devil).
            Matthew: 5:22: Where does that put Jesus, who is so often angry at his brothers?
            5:27-28: Jesus contrasts the Torah teaching not to commit adultery with a supposedly new one: “But I tell you” and so on. Deuteronomy 5:17: You shall not commit adultery. A few verses later, Deuteronomy 5:18: You shall not covet your fellow’s wife. See also Job 31:1, Genesis 39:7-9, Numbers 15:39. Throughout the sermon you will find Jesus comparing Torah teachings with supposedly new ones. I point out one here, but there are many more, if you wish me to show them to you. It is not truthful to pass off someone else’s teachings as your own.
            Matthew: 5:33-37: Jesus is adding a new law by saying do not swear at all (as opposed to do swear falsely).
            Matthew: 5:43: You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. Jesus falsifies the Torah by adding “and hate your enemy.”
            But did Jesus practice what he preached? We have already seen the vituperation he heaps upon his enemies, the Pharisees. Hypocrites, brood of vipers, hypocrites, children of the devil, and hypocrites are just some of his choice epitaphs. Does he pray for them? No. Rather, he condemns them to hell.
            Matthew 6:2: So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.
            Jesus violates the commandment not to slander. I do not understand how Christians miss the Jew hatred in these type of statements. The Pharisees stressed secret giving so as not to embarrass the poor, and the laws of gifts to the poor as outlined in Leviticus 19 and in Maimonides’ Code are collectively known as Kevod Ani’im (honor due to the poor). Judaism is the only religion that has detailed laws about the privileges and charity due to the poor and about the careful consideration these laws give to their feelings.
            I have not yet seen any recorded instances of Jesus and his disciples distributing alms. How could they, when they had renounced all their possessions?
            About the trumpet thing. Matthew is confusing two customs. Charity was collected on Friday. Also, a trumpet was sounded on Friday to announce the approach of the Sabbath. (This custom is still followed today in Israel and in major Jewish communities in New York; a siren goes off to alert the residents that it’s nearly time for candle lighting.)
            There is no evidence anywhere in Jewish writings, history, or the Talmud that a trumpet was sounded to draw the beggars.
            This is how Pharisees (i.e. Orthodox Jews) practice charity today. When I was in high school, I volunteered for an organization called Tomchei Shabbos. My friends and I knocked on doors and asked people to donate non-perishable foodstuffs like pasta and canned goods. Every Thursday we delivered the food to someone’s house, where a warehouse had been set up. Volunteers sorted the food and packaged them. We never came in contact with nor were given information about the recipients. In the dead of night, one designated driver delivered the boxes to the back entrances of a list of addresses. The recipients never saw the donors and the donors never saw the recipients and the public never saw any deliveries.
            Matthew 6:5: More vicious slander. Jesus did not practice what he preached. I will prove it, if you wish, but this comment is very long.
            Matthew 6:16-18: Fasting.
            Jesus already abolished fasting in Mark 2:18-22. That’s point number one. Point number two is you must not do anything like the hated Scribes and Pharisees. This venom is venomous, what can I say.
            Jesus tell his disciples to put oil on their heads and wash their faces so it will be obvious they aren’t fasting. The only fast, in Jesus’s day, during which this was not done, was Yom Kippur. Everyone knew everyone was fasting on Yom Kippur! So there would have been no need to hide it. As for all other fast days and private fast days, anointing with oils and washing of faces were permitted. This instruction is therefore superfluous.
            Let’s examine for a moment the statement, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting” (6:16). The disfiguring of the face must refer to the not washing and anointing. Which, like I said, only happened on Yom Kippur. So here’s another distortion of Pharisaic practice.
            Final point about this passage: Jesus tells his disciples to wash their faces but not their hands (Mark 7:5-15). This requires explanation.
            Matthew 7:6: Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.
            Who are the dogs? Christian scripture refers to gentiles and Jews as dogs: see Matthew 15:26; Mark 7:27; Revelation 22:15; Philippians 3:2.
            There is no parallel in Hebrew scripture or the Talmud for calling any of God’s children such vicious epithets as “dogs” or “swine.” Jesus is also teaching his disciples not to give anything sacred (his own teachings, of course) to the dogs, the gentiles. Is he teaching that his kingdom is exclusive?
            Matthew 8:21-22: Jesus refused to let one of his disciples bury his own father. This is a shocking violation of the commandment to honor your parents.
            Matthew 12:1-14: This conversation could not have happened. Being familiar with the Pharisaic tradition, it doesn’t appear that Jesus did anything wrong by this type of healing. The Pharisees would not have been bothered by this.
            Matthew 12:23-24: The Pharisees would never have said this because they didn’t believe in the devil. There is no indication in any of their writing that they believed in dualism, two opposing forces of good and evil, with God representing good and Satan representing evil. Everything, good and evil, emanates from God.
            Matthew 16:5-12: Jesus warns his disciples to beware of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Here are some teachings of the Pharisees from the Talmud (I have no comment on the Sadducees. They were the enemies of the Pharisees and hated by the masses as well.)
            “Love your fellow as yourself, this is the fundamental law of the Torah.”
            “Love your fellow as yourself: what is hateful to you do not do to your fellow.”
            “Be exceedingly humble.”
            “Let the doors of your house be open wide (to welcome poor people).”
            “Let poor people be the children of your household.”
            “Who is rich? He who is content with his lot. Who is honored? One who honors human beings.”
            “Greet every human being with a beautiful countenance.”
            “Be the first to greet every person.”
            “Judge every person in the scale of merit.”
            I should like to know, please, which of these Pharisaic teachings did the Evangelist find objectionable, and why. This is just another example of unjust and undeserved anti-Jewish vitriol in the “New” Testament.
            Matthew 19:1-9: I have already dealt with Jesus’s negative and impractical teaching on divorce, which the Jew cannot accept, in Mark. Here, though, Jesus adds something else. He says in verses 10-12 that it is better not to marry in the first place, and even better than that is to castrate yourself for the sake of heaven. This is directly prohibited in the Torah.
            Genesis 1:28: God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea, the bird of the sky, and every living thing that moves on the earth.”
            Genesis 2:24: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh.
            Leviticus 22:24: One whose testicles are squeezed, crushed, torn, or cut, you shall not offer to the Lord, nor shall you do these in your land.
            Deuteronomy 23:2: A man with crushed testicles or a severed organ shall not enter the congregation of the Lord.
            Furthermore, Jesus is violating another precept of the Torah:
            Deuteronomy 13:1: The entire word that I command you, that you shall observe to do; you shall not add to it and you shall not subtract from it.
            Matthew 23: This chapter is one long diatribe against the Pharisees, full of vicious lies without a shred of evidence to back them up. Anyone who wants to understand the history of Christian anti-Semitism need only read this chapter. How are Christians not ashamed of this? If I were a Christian, I would try to hide the Christian scriptures from Jewish eyes, so mortified would I be of the blatant Jew-hatred in this chapter. If you want to understand the true nature of the Pharisees, you need look no further than their beautiful writings, which do not contain vitriol toward Christians. For a group of people that were supposed to hate and persecute the early Christians, this is very telling.
            Matthew 23:34: Some of them you will kill and crucify. A false charge. If the Pharisees followed the letter of the law, as they are accused of doing, they would never have crucified anyone. Death by crucifixion is forbidden in Jewish law. Besides, so loathe were the Pharisees to apply the death penalty because of the possibility of putting an innocent man to death that they devised a set of rules that made it nearly impossible to do so. The impulsive and mob-like behavior of the Pharisees so often depicted in Christian scripture can claim no support from the historical record.
            Matthew 23:35: This is wildly unfair. Why should the Jews be responsible for all murders ever committed? Abel wasn’t even a Jew! As for Zechariah the son of Berachiah, I could not find the reference to his murder. Can you provide the source for me?

            Whew! That was very long.

            Best wishes,
            Dina

          • Thank you, Dina – how can I possibly find time to read this let alone reply? Nevertheless, I will try to find some time.

          • Thanks Dina, Sorry to take up so much space, this is not a cut and paste reply.
            Here’s my response verse by verse,
            Mark 1:20; Matthew 4:22: They leave their father in the boat, with Jesus’s approval.
            Their father was an experienced fisherman, not an invalid, Elijah was similarly insistent with Elishah, 1Ki 19:20. If you had grown children and there was evidence the

            Messiah had come, would you not want them to investigate it urgently?

            Mark 2:18-22: Jesus abolishes the fasts.
            If so, in v.20 he reinstates them. From context this doesn’t refer to the great fasts, more to the frequent weekly fasting of John and the Pharisees.
            Mark 2:23-38: Jesus violates the Sabbath by plucking grain.
            How does this actually violate the written Law, rather than a fenced added version of the 4th command?
            Mark 3:33-35; Matthew 12:46-50: Jesus is disrespectful to his mother.
            We have gently addressed this, there is no disrespect in a slight delay before she came to Him to make a teaching point.
            Mark 5:12-13: Why kill the innocent pigs?
            I’m delighted with your concern for porcine welfare. Is it sinful for Gentiles to slaughter non kosher meat? Remember too these were Jews farming these pigs, Jesus was effectively reminding them of Kashrut.
            Mark 7:1-4: Washing metal vessels acquired from non-Jews must be purified by being washed in water (Numbers 31:22-23).
            Where’s the evidence there were Gentile in this market? The law you allude to refers to conquest in battle, and the specific use of the water of separation not any water on account of the dead, is that universally applicable to all Gentile markets?

            Mark 7:15-19: Jesus abolishes the kosher laws.
            The why did He and His disciple continue to eat Kosher until Acts 10, to the great astonishment of Simeon Peter, and almost the whole assembly of believers?

            Mark 7:27: Violates Leviticus 25:17.
            There is an important lesson behind this episode, and if you understand it properly you will see Yehoshua kept the command more carefully than you realise.

            Mark 10:1-12: Jesus forbids divorce, which is permitted according to Torah law.
            No, He permitted it on the grounds of adultery and fornication, and contends with all other grounds (as did the school of Shammai)

            Mark 10:28-31: Jesus encourages renouncing all worldly things, including family—which would mean abandoning parents.
            Of course not, He honoured His own parents and encouraged other to do the same. He condemns the dishonouring of parents by declining to give them Korban. Only in there
            is an absolute conflict betwen God and parents (something most disciples of His have had to face must the choice be crystal clear).

            Mark 11:1-6; Matthew 21:2: This is called stealing.
            Not with the consent of the owners it’s not, Lu 19:33.

            Mark 11:13-14: Jesus violates Deuteronomy 20:19. I can use an a fortiori argument here: if even in war and in enemy territory you can’t cut down a fruit-bearing tree, a fortiori you can’t cut down a fruit-bearing tree in peace time anywhere.
            There is a strong prophetic signal and warning here, neither to the Nation nor the race, but to something else. He did not violate the letter of the command in any case, ‘by forcing an axe against them’.

            Mark 11:15-19: Jesus destroys others’ property.
            He purges the Temple – did Nehemiah also violate the Law then? He overturned the tables, and cast out the usurers and traders, no indication incidentally of major damage to their property, much more to their pride.

            Mark 12:38-39: Jesus violate “love your fellow.”
            What kind of love is it that flatters and avoids reproving evident sin? It certainly isn’t the love of Lev.19.17. Dina you have shown your kindness by reproving, not agreeing with me when I’m flat wrong, that’s how it ought to be.

            Mark 12:40: Jesus engages in slander, a biblical prohibition.
            Even some so called Christian clergy have been caught out doing this again and again, there’s a need for constant vigilance for all groups. Slander requires an inaccurate accusation, how do you know that’s true? If you don’t know aren’t you guilty of the same problem, as I would be for you too, if I charged you with slander without knowing the facts of the case?

            Mark 14:22: Says that Jesus ate bread. Doesn’t note whether it was unleavened or not. What word is used in Greek? לחם is leavened bread and מצה is unleavened.
            Come on, Dina, that’s not an argument. It reminds me of some of the accusations I heard in the M.East about Israel. I just laughed out loud – it somehow gets under the skin of an Arab.

            Mark 14:22-24: This pagan custom makes me shudder in revulsion.
            Pagan Gentiles too shudder at these words, there is something very dark about them, but not from Gentile tradition – I know of cultures that would kill a failed king, how many nations would drink the blood of one they aspire to crown? The words are symbolic not literal, this cup is the New Testament is also a metaphor, but I agree this was a intensely serious and dangerous thing to say. No wonder many scrupulous law-keeping Jews were deeply offended by John 6.52-55.

            Mark 14:32-41: Does Jesus practice what he preaches? Jesus spends a good part of the night in prayer.
            In Mark 12:40, he castigates the Pharisees for making lengthy prayers.
            No harm in long prayers, esp in private much harm in long public prayers ‘for a pretence’.

            Matthew 5:22: Jesus did not practice what he preached but called his fellow Jews all sorts of horrible names (hypocrites, brood of vipers, children of the devil).
            So did Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos, so did John. Sometimes love requires hard words, listen to a good open air preacher in an area he loves, and you’ll hear some similarly strong appeals, and many people will find them insulting and offensive. The fact is that we are all very prone to hypocrisy, there is deadly poison under our tongues and in our hearts and by nature we are puppets of Satan’s temptations till God redeems us.

            Matthew: 5:22: Where does that put Jesus, who is so often angry at his brothers?
            Without a cause, that is a due and proper cause, and after due restraint and careful prior warning, all of which are amply documented. Otherwise you make Him condemn both God and Moses and virtually every other saint, by requiring an impossibility – never to get angry in the face of injustice and evil.

            5:27-28: Jesus contrasts the Torah teaching not to commit adultery with a supposedly new one: “But I tell you” and so on. Deuteronomy 5:17: You shall not commit adultery. A few verses later, Deuteronomy 5:18: You shall not covet your fellow’s wife. See also Job 31:1, Genesis 39:7-9, Numbers 15:39. Throughout the sermon you will find Jesus comparing Torah teachings with supposedly new ones. I point out one here, but there are many more, if you wish me to show them to you. It is not truthful to pass off someone else’s teachings as your own.
            Most Christian interpreters contrast you have heard of some contemporary oral interpretations of the Law with His own interpretation. He appeals to the Law’s own account not personal charisma, when He’s challenged on divorce, Mt 19:8.

            Matthew: 5:33-37: Jesus is adding a new law by saying do not swear at all (as opposed to do swear falsely).
            I agree, I believe this is new Law and it is firmly reiterated in James/Jacob. It is a strengthening of the 9th command.

            Matthew: 5:43: You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. Jesus falsifies the Torah by adding “and hate your enemy.”
            But did Jesus practice what he preached? We have already seen the vituperation he heaps upon his enemies, the Pharisees. Hypocrites, brood of vipers, hypocrites, children of the devil, and hypocrites are just some of his choice epitaphs. Does he pray for them? No. Rather, he condemns them to hell.
            He prayed for them many, many times, even in the midst of agony he prayer, Father forgive them for they know not what they do, He wept for them and He bled for them. It would have been unloving in the extreme not to warn them about future judgement, but simply to say peace, peace.

            Matthew 6:2: So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.
            Jesus violates the commandment not to slander. I do not understand how Christians miss the Jew hatred in these type of statements. The Pharisees stressed secret giving so as not to embarrass the poor, and the laws of gifts to the poor as outlined in Leviticus 19 and in Maimonides’ Code are collectively known as Kevod Ani’im (honor due to the poor). Judaism is the only religion that has detailed laws about the privileges and charity due to the poor and about the careful consideration these laws give to their feelings.
            I have not yet seen any recorded instances of Jesus and his disciples distributing alms. How could they, when they had renounced all their possessions?
            About the trumpet thing. Matthew is confusing two customs. Charity was collected on Friday. Also, a trumpet was sounded on Friday to announce the approach of the Sabbath. (This custom is still followed today in Israel and in major Jewish communities in New York; a siren goes off to alert the residents that it’s nearly time for candle lighting.) …
            I agree many Jewish people I know have given far more time, thought and money that their Gentile neighbours to the benefitting of their community, and often it has been quiet and behind the scenes. I can’t answer for the trumpets, but again a charge of slander requires proof. Yehoshua’s teachings would not have had any resonance or edge in this matter if they weren’t founded on an obvious truth. Can I prove now beyond doubt to you they were true then? – no. Can you prove beyond doubt they were false then?

            Matthew 6:5: More vicious slander. Jesus did not practice what he preached. I will prove it, if you wish, but this comment is very long.
            Dina to prove it’s slander you need to produce contemporary evidence, I can certainly produce excellent evidence that these strong condemnations are all to true of all kinds of churches (even some of the better ones), in that sense they are still needed today, and serve the purpose of putting us on warning of God’s standards.

            Matthew 6:16-18: Fasting.
            Jesus already abolished fasting in Mark 2:18-22. That’s point number one. Point number two is you must not do anything like the hated Scribes and Pharisees. This venom is venomous, what can I say.
            Here he prescribes how to fast, how can you claim that He’s abolished it, a claim I’ve already addressed? I know you’re very angry with Gentile Christians and so am I, and you have every right to be, but this kind of arguing doesn’t do you any credit. I’ve had two Jewish bosses who were profoundly unjust to me (and one Gentile one who was much harsher still) if I foolishly conflated their behaviour with all Jews, I would be guilty too. I realise that Christian Gentiles have largely been guilty, but there are and always have been real exceptions who heed the warnings in their own scriptures, instead of base hate. Incidentally as you know fasting isn’t easy and in many ways the strongest temptation is not eating but pride. It’s no surprise that false and bad fasting practices are a common theme of the prophets, and they need to be. Again I can speak from a little experience in my own circles, people who speak much about their own fasting are often secretly boasting.

            Jesus tell his disciples to put oil on their heads and wash their faces so it will be obvious they aren’t fasting. The only fast, in Jesus’s day, during which this was not done, was Yom Kippur. Everyone knew everyone was fasting on Yom Kippur! So there would have been no need to hide it. As for all other fast days and private fast days, anointing with oils and washing of faces were permitted. This instruction is therefore superfluous.
            Can you produce the evidence for this claim? Incidentally I do agree that again there is an element of new law here. The people of Nineveh wore sackcloth and Daniel put on ashes when he fasted, and neither of these were on Yom Kippur.

            Let’s examine for a moment the statement, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting” (6:16).
            The disfiguring of the face must refer to the not washing and anointing. Which, like I said, only happened on Yom Kippur. So here’s another distortion of Pharisaic practice.
            Final point about this passage: Jesus tells his disciples to wash their faces but not their hands (Mark 7:5-15). This requires explanation.
            Daniel wore ashes, I suggest it was contemporary practice to do something similar.

            Matthew 7:6: Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.
            Who are the dogs? Christian scripture refers to gentiles and Jews as dogs: see Matthew 15:26; Mark 7:27; Revelation 22:15; Philippians 3:2.
            No, I don’t think any of those passages refer specifically to Jews, though two do refer specifically to Gentiles. Dogs are unspiritual, fleshly minded people, or sometimes false teachers. Don’t David and Isaiah (Isa 56:11) use the term in exactly the same way? You’re slipping off point by referring to Phil. and Rev. anyway, Dina. Although I’d be happy to address these, if there’s time – the same points apply.

            There is no parallel in Hebrew scripture or the Talmud for calling any of God’s children such vicious epithets as “dogs” or “swine.” Jesus is also teaching his disciples not to give anything sacred (his own teachings, of course) to the dogs, the gentiles. Is he teaching that his kingdom is exclusive?
            No, He’s not condemning giving out holy doctrine or instruction (unlike as I recently discovered Maimonides’ endorsement of everlasting punishment for Gentiles who study Torah) otherwise all His teaching to unbelievers would condemn Him – I cam not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
            Matthew 8:21-22: Jesus refused to let one of his disciples bury his own father. This is a shocking violation of the commandment to honor your parents.
            I think you misunderstand this statement. The disciple was asking if he could stay with his elderly father until his death, then he would follow. It’s not as though the funeral service was scheduled that afternoon and permission to go was denied. So Matthew Poole and a number of other commentators. I accept other Christians hold your interpretation, but I think that’s misguided.
            Matthew 12:1-14: This conversation could not have happened. Being familiar with the Pharisaic tradition, it doesn’t appear that Jesus did anything wrong by this type of healing. The Pharisees would not have been bothered by this.
            Your dispute is with the accuracy of the report, not Yeshoshua’s reaction. The NT is full of these kinds of episodes, with conflicts often occurring over when it was lawful to work/heal on the Sabbath.
            Matthew 12:23-24: The Pharisees would never have said this because they didn’t believe in the devil. There is no indication in any of their writing that they believed in dualism, two opposing forces of good and evil, with God representing good and Satan representing evil. Everything, good and evil, emanates from God.
            The Sadducces didn’t believe in spirits, where’s the evidence this was true of the Pharisees, Zech. 3, Job and Daniel all speak very plainly of Satan’s activity, weren’t all these books accepted by the Pharisees? I don’t think dualism is being charged. Why do you think so?
            Matthew 16:5-12: Jesus warns his disciples to beware of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Here are some teachings of the Pharisees from the Talmud (I have no comment on the Sadducees. They were the enemies of the Pharisees and hated by the masses as well.)
            “Love your fellow as yourself, this is the fundamental law of the Torah.”
            “Love your fellow as yourself: what is hateful to you do not do to your fellow.”
            “Be exceedingly humble.”
            “Let the doors of your house be open wide (to welcome poor people).”
            “Let poor people be the children of your household.”
            “Who is rich? He who is content with his lot. Who is honored? One who honors human beings.”
            “Greet every human being with a beautiful countenance.”
            “Be the first to greet every person.”
            “Judge every person in the scale of merit.”
            I should like to know, please, which of these Pharisaic teachings did the Evangelist find objectionable, and why. This is just another example of unjust and undeserved anti-Jewish vitriol in the “New” Testament.
            These are wonderful expressions of what we both value. In context, He’s specifically alluding to their disbelief, v.1, ‘The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.’Look how leavened the Western churches are with unbelief today. Remember Yeshoshua also in general commended the Pharisees teaching, but warned about their practice (Mt.23.3). Warnings that also more strongly strongly apply to His disciples today.
            Matthew 19:1-9: I have already dealt with Jesus’s negative and impractical teaching on divorce, which the Jew cannot accept, in Mark. Here, though, Jesus adds something else. He says in verses 10-12 that it is better not to marry in the first place, and even better than that is to castrate yourself for the sake of heaven. This is directly prohibited in the Torah.
            Castration or simply living singly in a life devoted to God as Jeremiah did? I think he means the latter. Very few have taken it otherwise (Origen did take it foolishly literally).
            Genesis 1:28: God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea, the bird of the sky, and every living thing that moves on the earth.”
            Genesis 2:24: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh….
            Furthermore, Jesus is violating another precept of the Torah:
            Deuteronomy 13:1: The entire word that I command you, that you shall observe to do; you shall not add to it and you shall not subtract from it.
            This is by far the most serious charge you make, and would take some time to answer here.
            Matthew 23: This chapter is one long diatribe against the Pharisees, full of vicious lies without a shred of evidence to back them up. Anyone who wants to understand the history of Christian anti-Semitism need only read this chapter. How are Christians not ashamed of this? If I were a Christian, I would try to hide the Christian scriptures from Jewish eyes, so mortified would I be of the blatant Jew-hatred in this chapter. If you want to understand the true nature of the Pharisees, you need look no further than their beautiful writings, which do not contain vitriol toward Christians. For a group of people that were supposed to hate and persecute the early
            Christians, this is very telling.
            Dear Dina, do I really need to reproduce some of the things I have read even during my brief sojourn into Maimonides’ writings to show there has been a problem with malice or at least stern denunciation of Gentiles – though I do not equate the two, the question is was the situation Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, John or Yehoshua faced murderous? I too wince when I read this chapter, but just the same way as I wince when I read the excoriating denunciations in Ezekiel. I too have more on Mt.23 below.

            Matthew 23:34: Some of them you will kill and crucify. A false charge. If the Pharisees followed the letter of the law, as they are accused of doing, they would never have crucified anyone. Death by crucifixion is forbidden in Jewish law. Besides, so loathe were the Pharisees to apply the death penalty because of the possibility of putting an innocent man to death that they devised a set of rules that made it nearly impossible to do so. The impulsive and mob-like behavior of the Pharisees so often depicted in Christian scripture can claim no support from the historical record.
            Indeed, I agree with much of this, but it is repeatedly claimed, perhaps sometimes unjustly and unreasonably, but repeatedly claimed nonetheless by the earliest church writers that some Jews worked in tandem with the Roman authorities to stir up murderous trouble for Jewish believers and for Gentiles. I showed you the account of Polycarp’s matyrdom, the book of Acts also testifies to this being a repeated problem in some situations and from some Jews.
            Matthew 23:35: This is wildly unfair. Why should the Jews be responsible for all murders ever committed? Abel wasn’t even a Jew! As for Zechariah the son of Berachiah,
            I could not find the reference to his murder. Can you provide the source for me?
            There is no other record I am aware of for this Zechariah, although some of his inspired statements could be regarded as highly inflammatory just as other prophets were. The point is that any enemy of the truth (whether nominally Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish) stands in the place of Cain. Many, many times this place has been filled by Roman Catholic persecutors of the Waldensians or even today of evangelicals in Mexico and East Timor. Many Liberal Protestants have closed their eyes to the suffering of Palestinian Christians under Hamas’ rule to avoid upsetting their anti-Zionist narrative. Many evangelicals too, at least by name, had an appalling role in the Holocaust, not least of course Martin Luther. All of these fall under the same condemnation of murdering or directly inciting the murder of the innocent.
            I don’t want to plaster over cracks, I believe the New Testament is an accurate and careful historical record, and I also believe that this chapter is a very painful one, but true.

            Yeshua sharply reproved His disciples for forbidding Jewish children to come for a blessing, or warned of the direst consequences for those who stumble a young child’s faith, how do you think He would react to the appalling wickedness perpetrated against your and His people, including the children? He meant what He said when He required His disciples to love their enemies. Love reproves and love corrects, and correction and reproof are also what I seek when I err.
            Right now you and I are effectively doctrinal enemies, on opposite sides of a huge divide, with much more historical wrong on my side than on yours, though I feel very deeply sorry for the state of your people. Your own rejected Messiah has been the breath of my nostrils.
            Please don’t conflate Jehoshua’s warnings and denunciations, with His endorsing of savagery of those who have denied and disobeyed His explicit commands with their actions.
            I wish I could do the importance of the subject and your demands much better justice, I have no more time, and I have no luxury to write at greater length.

          • Dina says:

            Charles, I am honored and humbled that you took so much time to examine all these sources and rebut them point by point.

            I shall make a few general arguments:

            1. To your contention that I did not provide historical evidence for some of my claims (like the trumpet calling the beggars), I think it’s fair to say that I did provide evidence, since the Pharisees did record their customs. We do have extra-biblical historical records of the time period. We have the histories of Philo and Josephus as well as Roman records.

            2. Regarding my charges of slander, I stand by them. Nothing in the historical record confirms what Christian scripture says about the Pharisees; in fact it contradicts it. We see this in Josephus as well as the writings of the Pharisees. You see, Jesus did not leave any written records; all we have are writings of people who never met him in person (with perhaps the exception of James?). But the Pharisees did leave behind a lot of writings, and we do not see any vitriol toward Christians. And I don’t think it’s fair to cite Maimonides in this case (who in fact did say kind things about Christians and Muslims, despite the already accumulating evidence of persecution from both religions against his people and from which he personally suffered). Not only did Maimonides NOT incite the kind of hatred in his Jewish readers that the evangelists and Paul incited in their following, he is but one rabbi in a vast sea of rabbis in Jewish history. He is NOT scripture. Would it be fair for me to hold you to what Martin Luther said about the Jews? I don’t need to go there, because all the evidence I need for where Luther got his anti-Jewish invective lies in Christian scripture.

            Is it fair to read and accept as true what a group of people said about their theological enemies, rather than examine what those enemies had to say for themselves? Is the absence of vitriol in the Talmud toward Christians not significant?

            The fact is that what Christian scripture says about my direct ancestors (for the Pharisees were the only remnant of Israel to survive down through the centuries) bears no resemblance to actual, live Pharisees. Many serious historians, both Jewish and not Jewish, have said this. I say yet again, the historical record and the writings of the Pharisees bears this out.

            3. Some of your rebuttals are fair, but I found many of them to simply be exercises in apologetics or in convenient interpretation of the texts in order to defend them (for example, Mark 5:12-13 [wantonly killing ANY animals, especially someone else’s livestock–are you defending this?], Mark 7:1-4 [this is what the dish-washing law refers to; there is no other law to wash dishes in the Pharisaic tradition], Mark 7:15-19, Mark 11:13-14, Mark 12:38-39 [see what I said about slander above; the Pharisees were the great teachers of humility], Matthew 5:22 [Jesus is calling the RIGHTEOUS REMNANT OF ISRAEL horrible names; if he were addressing the Sadducees I would not have a problem with it; the prophets remonstrated with the wicked ones, not the loyal ones;], Mark 5:27-28, Matthew: 5:43: You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. Jesus falsifies the Torah by adding “and hate your enemy”, Matthew 8:21-22).

            (May I trouble you to provide me with a couple of Scriptural citations about the parallel rebukes of the prophets to Jesus? Only if you have the time, of course).

            It would be unfair of me to take more of your time with lengthy explanations of the above or with going through these points again and again. I will conclude by saying that it seems obvious to me, having read only the first two gospels and now in the middle of the third, that Jesus was not perfectly obedient to the law, he changed it, added and subtracted, did not practice what he preached, and outright violated it (or encouraged others to violate it, as in abolishing the kosher laws).

            Finally, you wrote, “Please don’t conflate Jehoshua’s warnings and denunciations, with His endorsing of savagery of those who have denied and disobeyed His explicit commands with their actions.”

            Impossible. It’s impossible for me to separate the actions of the overwhelming majority of Christians for most of their history from the one in whose name they acted. As I have said before, Christianity claimed to lead its followers down a superior moral path and failed spectacularly. The moral legacy of Christianity doesn’t hold a candle to the consistently moral Jewish societies that managed to survive intact through the ages in its midst. And I do think it’s fair to judge a religion by the society it produces (consistently over a large period of time, rather than isolated instances or the actions of a few lone individuals).

            Please forgive me for putting it so bluntly to someone who is so obviously sincere and kind and respectful and considerate as you are.

          • Annelise says:

            Dina, I think that some of those things can be properly explained away, but some certainly can’t. The main issue that I don’t understand about the portrayal of J’s teaching is that 1) he seems to have allowed for a system of Torah observance that differed from the Pharisees’ traditions and fences, and 2) he said rightly that they are in Moses’ seat and one should do as they say.

          • David says:

            Hi Annelise,

            Within the Torah maybe we’d agree that there are some laws which are far greater in importance than others. Sometimes you can’t fulfill all, so you fulfill the most important.

            In addition much of the law is situationaly applicable depending on circumstances. And the law itself is not an end in itself but a means. The end as proclaimed by God is living long in the land as promised to Abraham; the means for that end introduced later for the Jews is the law. The end hasn’t changed, but the means did.

            Jesus boiled the law down to two commandments and through out all the traditions of man which interfered with God’s law.

          • Dina says:

            David, can you explain more fully the idea that Jesus boiled the law down to two commandments? Does this mean that the two cover everything else? And if so, how? Or does it mean that he abolished all but two commandments, which would make your statement not quite accurate?

            Thanks,
            Dina

          • Dina says:

            David, you say the law is a means, and God says the law is eternal.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            The reason why I say that is partly the way the law itself is presented. In many if not most cases every time it is mentioned to keep the law the land is mentioned as the reason. So it should be understood that even when this theme is not repeated explicitly it nevertheless still applies.

            Furthermore it is repeated that when you don’t observe the law, you will perish off the land and be scattered abroad. The law and the land are inextricably connected. It is clear to me the purpose of the law is to live long in the land.

            If you walk your way through Deut. as I’ve done just casually you’ll find probably a couple dozen or more examples of the following.
            Deut.
            4:25,26
            When you become complacent INTHE LAND… you will perish from THE LAND that you are crossing to occupy, the YHWH will scatter you among the peoples.

            4:39,40
            So… keep his statutes and his commandments for your own well being and that of your descendants after you SO THAT you may long remain in the LAND….

            11:8,9,12
            Keep the entire command … SO THAT… you may occupy the LAND (9) and SO THAT you may live long IN THE LAND …(12) The eyes of YHWH are o the LAND

            11:21
            SO THAT your days and your children’s days may be multiplied in the LAND.

            12:1
            These are the statutes and ordinances that you must diligently observe IN THE LAND…all the days that you live on earth.

          • Dina says:

            Hi David.

            We’ve been through this before, and I cited verses that showed that the only way to get out of exile and back to the land is through observance of the law; also that covenant is in fact unconditional, that God will not abandon us no matter what, that observance of the Torah will never depart from the nation of Israel, and that the Torah will never be forgotten.

            See Deuteronomy 30:2; Deuteronomy 4:31, 30:1, 31:21; Jeremiah 31:35; Isaiah 59:21.

            Also remember that during the Babylonian exile which occurred between the two Temple periods, the Jews in exile and outside of Israel observed the law. We know this from the Book of Esther and from the historical and archaeological record.

            (The archaeological record is fascinating. For example, one letter from a Jewish official in Babylon to a community of Jews in Egypt reminds the Jews to put aside all their non-kosher-for-Passover items in a closet and seal it before Passover, a practice we still adhere to today. This letter was sent from one exile community to another quite a few centuries before Jesus was born while the Temple was not in existence, while the Jews were not in their land.)

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            The law is dependent upon the land, not the other way around.

          • Dina says:

            David, did you check the sources I cited?

            For example:

            It will be that when all these things come upon you–the blessing and the curse that I have presented before you–then you will take it to your heart AMONG ALL THE NATIONS where the Lord your God DISPERSED YOU; and YOU WILL RETURN unto the Lord, your God, and LISTEN TO HIS VOICE, according to EVERTHING THAT I COMMAND YOU TODAY, you and your children, with all your heart and all your soul. THEN the Lord your God will BRING BACK YOUR CAPTIVITY and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which the Lord, your God, has scattered you. If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there the Lord, your God, will gather you in and from there He will take you. The Lord your God WILL BRING YOU TO THE LAND that your forefathers possessed and you shall possess it (Deuteronomy 30:1-5).

            Scripture couldn’t be more clear. When we obey the laws among the nations where we have been dispersed (that’s exile, not the land) as Moses commanded the people of Israel (according to EVERTHING THAT I COMMAND YOU TODAY), then God will bring us back to the land.

            Best,
            Dina

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            So all that which you wrote is consistent with my point which is…The Land is promised absent any declaration of law. The law is given later as a means to stay in the land. When the law is violated, the people are scattered. When the law is reestablished the people are gathered back to the Land.

            The promise of the Land to Abraham was given first without the precondition of the Law, so it’s pretty clear that the Land is not the reward as Jim said. The Land is the promise and the Law is the means to keep that promise. It’s stated clearly and multiple times that the purpose of the Law is to live long in the Land.

            God said don’t add to it or take away from it. He said this to the people, He didn’t say that to Moses or future prophets. Moses and future prophets had and have authority to change the law as necessary to live long in the Land. Moses did change the Law and there are examples of that.

            The authority of the prophet is above the law, just as the Land is above the Law and precedes the law since both were given before the law. The declaration of that authority of the prophet is in Deuteronomy 18. and Deut. 18 was given at the start of delivery of the 10 commandments and well and before the rest of the Law when all the people said basically we don’t want to hear directly from God any more or we will die. God said what they have said is right and at that time promised to send them a prophet (or prophets) to give them instructions which they must listen to follow.

          • Dina says:

            David, you are clearly missing something when you read Deuteronomy 30. Scripture could not more plainly tell us that the only way to get out of exile and back to the land is TO RETURN TO THE LAW, not wait till the law is reestablished (very vaguely worded, that).

            You furthermore need to explain why the Jews in the Babylonian exile continued to observe the law absent the land and the temple, precisely the situation we find ourselves in today.

      • Jim says:

        David,

        Regarding the latter point first, that God chooses the method: true, and He already told us that He wouldn’t take the innocent for the guilty.

        To the earlier point: You didn’t see a man perfectly obedient to God. Dina has already shown many of the ways in which he wasn’t, so I’m going to let that point alone. But I’ll take up a different point. You can’t know if Jesus was perfectly obedient. Nobody could. We have a few snippets of what he was like, and much of what is written about him is his teaching. You don’t know if those things were true. (You take it on faith.) And you haven’t got even 1% of his life represented there. Nobody was with him all the time. Remember my long (unanswered) post on TYVM, contrasting Sinai and the resurrection? No nobody could know if he was perfectly obedient.

        Fortunately, we don’t need a perfect man to demonstrate perfect obedience. God has already told us what is expected of us.

        Let me give an analogy. If I want to get closer to my wife, I can do the things that please her. If I know she likes a certain kind of perfume, I buy that. She loves daffodils, so every spring I have my eyes open for the first daffodils. I don’t need to watch someone else please her to have a relationship with her. If she buys them for herself, that’s nice. But if I buy them for her, she knows I’m thinking about her. So with God. He has told us what He wants from us. If we want to be close, we don’t need someone else “to buy him daffodils” as it were. We should do it. We know what He likes, so we know what He’s like.

        Unfortunately, the Church has separated itself from God. They don’t believe they can do what He wants, so too often they don’t study to find out what it is. Those who do keep His “statutes and commandments” (as he repeatedly emphasizes) are maligned as legalistic. The Church has made things so complicated. They will do things in the name of God that He never commanded and ignore the things He did command. You don’t need Jesus to show you God, David. He revealed Himself at Sinai, so we would know how to please Him. You don’t need to follow a man.

        Jim

        • David says:

          Hi Jim,

          Regarding the obedience of Jesus to God, we have the NT and the words of Jesus himself which clearly demonstrate and state that he was perfectly obedient. I understand you don’t hold to the NT or Jesus of course but we Christians do. And the reason why I hold to the NT and hold to Jesus is that I try also to be obedient to God his Father. I imagine in the same way you try to be obedient to God’s latest commandment, so too do I but I believe that latest commandment is found in the NT. And for me, Jesus speaks for God now just as Moses spoke for God then, but Jesus reveals God more fully and perfectly than did Moses. Again, I know you don’t believe that, I’m just giving you my reasons. I see the CS as one continuum from the OT to the NT and it would be disobedience to stop at the OT.

          What I’m wondering from your post, and I mean this in a nice way, what difference does it make to you, since you don’t believe in Jesus or the NT, whether or not Jesus was or wasn’t obedient, since either way your not going to follow him and you don’t believe him to be the son of God?

          One of the arguments I’ve heard from some Jews regarding this is just the opposite of what you’ve said that basically words to the effect that: there have been others in the Hebrew scriptures who were obedient without fault and in that way Jesus is not unique in that respect even if he was obedient.

          • Annelise says:

            I just don’t understand why you listen to the NT as an authority on the ‘OT’ even when you strongly disagree with the people who canonised it and believe they were idolators. And yet when you look at a nation who claim to have a covenent with God, who seek to live by the Torah and are not missing any commandment in that attempt, who have kept things like the Shabbat in the most difficult and unlikely circumstances for either physical or unified religious survival, and who indeed have held throughout known history, in their unbroken remnant, a message of love for the Creator and obedience to Him that lacks nothing of what Christianity and Islam have gained from it… You don’t see that to be a strong witness? Why? Because the NT is full of Jewish themes? Just because you see no contradiction in the new theory, that is no kind of proof. Or because of your own experience of God? The Jewish community has that too. They are a better authority on the Tanach than the collected letters you revere are. If it’s a matter of fulfilled’

          • David says:

            Hi Annelise,

            Regarding the question or comment:
            “I just don’t understand why you listen to the NT as an authority on the ‘OT’ even when you strongly disagree with the people who canonised it and believe they were idolators.”

            I think it’s much like not all Jews agree on every point either. Sometimes when I’ve made an argument here and quoted something from the writings of Jews the response has been words to the effect, ah but they’re not “orthodox” Jews. But you all claim to be Jews right?

            The books which make up the cannon of the NT were probably accepted by nearly all Christians by the mid 3rd century. The process of canonization confirms for the most part what was already well circulated, in use, and accepted throughout Christendom. the debates and arguments and final canonization continued long after the acceptance. My point is, it’s not that we use the cannon because it was canonized, we use the NT because we’ve always been using it.

            The books which make up the NT which later became the cannon were always viewed in a non-Trinitarian way by the early Church. It was later around the 4th century that the Church started injecting and mandating a Trinitarian doctrine and meanings into passages which were previously understood as non-Trinitarian.

            Regarding the argument of idolatry. although I reject the Trinity argument, I wouldn’t classify it as idolatry in the sense as explained in the OT. In the case of the Trinity even hard core Trinitarians think they are serving and worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They think they are serving and worshiping the YHWH God. Some non-Trinitarians Christians do make that charge against them though, that they have fallen into the error of idolatry.

            So to reply to your comment, I agree with Trinitarians on most issues aside from the trinity issue. And I accept Trinitarians as Christians.

          • Annelise says:

            (sorry, cont.) ‘fulfilled’ ‘messianic’ prophecy, then that is a field that takes passages of suffering etc. in general and, with emotional affection bias, imagines they could only mean J…

            I’m not trying to be mean, it’s just sad people don’t hear such an important covenant testimony. So distracted.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Jim and David.

            Forgive me, Jim, for jumping in with my two cents when David addressed this to you, bad habit of mine. So really this is for David: I will answer this question of yours, “What difference does it make to you, since you don’t believe in Jesus or the NT, whether or not Jesus was or wasn’t obedient?”

            The point is this. You said in an earlier comment that “when we see a man perfectly obedient to the Father we see God through that man.” If you believe that to be true, then you must hold the inverse to be true as well: “When we see a man not obedient to the Father we do not see God through that man.”

            So if I can show you that Jesus was not obedient you would have to concede that you cannot see God through him.

            And I did show you, here: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/annelise-on-the-torah-path/#comment-7702

            The point isn’t whether we care if he was obedient or not, since we don’t believe in him; rather the point is YOU care whether he was obedient or not, and I’m just showing you why it isn’t so.

            Have a good one,
            Dina

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            I think I’ll bow out. You win.

          • Dina says:

            Is your tongue in your cheek, David?

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            I have no energy to start a debate with you because I know what it entails. Really, you win.

          • Dina says:

            Hi David.

            I am very sorry to hear that.

            Peace and blessings,
            Dina

          • Jim says:

            David,

            You ask a good question.

            A lot of Christian theology comes out of the belief in Jesus’ perfection. So I have to ask myself, is it true that he’s perfect, and if so, what follows from that? Would it follow that I should put my faith in him, that I could only come to God through him?

            Addressing the last question, it would not mean I need to put my faith in him. You are right. As I argued above, his perfect relationship with God would actually have no bearing on my own. They aren’t related. I would still need to be obedient to God myself. And I can only do that by knowing what God wants from humans in general. So, the only way I can know if Jesus was obedient to God is to know what God wants. And that means the standard predates Jesus, and his perfection or imperfection is irrelevant, actually. The only way to be close to God is to obey him myself, as I argued above. Jesus is irrelevant, a distraction.

            However, I do consider the question of whether or not he’s perfect, because the Christian insists on it. So much theology flows from Jesus’ supposed perfection. It means that he could die for my sins, etc. So, I look at that piece and ask: “Was he perfect?” And then, as I investigate I encounter problems:

            1. I have no reason to trust the NT. It does not “demonstrate”, as you say, that Jesus was perfect; it asserts it. But nobody witnessed enough of Jesus’ life to know if he was perfect. Anybody can say anything. Right now there is a man who claims to be the reincarnation of Paul, and that his writings are largely misunderstood. Do I believe him? No. I don’t accept it just because he says it. Nor do I accept the NT’s claims just because someone wrote them.

            2. What can be demonstrated from the NT (if it’s stories are factual) is that Jesus was not perfect, as Dina outlined, so I will leave it there.

            Now, since I have no reason to accept his perfection, when the Christian says to me that I should look to Jesus to have a relationship with God, I know to reject their argument. It’s based on a false premise. There’s no reason to think he was perfect. There’s good reason to think he wasn’t perfect. Anything they assert beyond that, based on his perfection, I can reject. They’ll say to me that only through Jesus can one come to God. But I will say that God says there is no savior beside Him. And I do not need to trust myself to that “broken reed”. Nor does the Christian. I would hope that once he sees that he was in error that he would put his trust in the Creator, rather than a created being.

            I hope I have not meandered over-much. I hope I have given some clarity.

            With respect,

            Jim

          • David says:

            Hi Jim,

            I agree, too much theology comes out of the belief Jesus was perfect in his obedience to God. I do believe that he was. But many I think, put the cart before the horse on that issue. Jesus was the Messiah first before he was obedient. Second, he was obedient to God during his ministry including to the point of pouring himself unto death. Jesus being human could have failed and therefore would not have been perfectly obedient.

            We know that Jesus is the Messiah NOT exclusively because he was perfectly obedient, but because he fulfilled the prophesies and all that was spoken of God’s plan of salvation starting with Genesis 3:15. On the other hand had he not been perfectly obedient, he wouldn’t have been raised from among the dead. And if he had not been raised from the dead by God due to his obedience he wouldn’t be the Messiah. So in a way it’s kind of a chicken and egg enigma.

            Jesus’ authority to act as God’s agent comes from God and he maintained that authority throughout his life through obedience.

            Deuteronomy 18 tells me how to recognize the prophet of God tells me to listen to him (not because he is perfectly obedient) but because he speaks for God. And as is often pointed out, Deuteronomy also tells me how to recognize the false prophet.

            You believe that he is a false prophet and I believe that he is the true prophet anointed by God.

          • Dina says:

            David:

            Genesis 3:15: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will pound your head, and you will bite his heel.

            God is addressing the snake and cursing him for his part in the sin of Adam and Eve.

            This, David, is not a messianic prophesy.

            I’m curious to hear Jim’s take.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            To me, it’s the first hint from God that God has a plan to take an active role in rectifying the catastrophe caused by man in the Garden. The verse has a double singular/plural intent on the one hand in reference to the messianic plan in a general corporate sense of a future age to come and also applies to the messiah himself.

          • Jim says:

            Dina and David,

            Regarding the curse on the snake, I agree with Dina, of course. Nothing in the verse or the context of the chapter would tell us that it has to do with the Messiah at all, Jesus or otherwise. In fact, we would expect that if this were a Messianic prophecy it would have been addressed to Adam and Eve, a promise for the redemption to come. It would be something to the effect that although today they have taken on mortality, eventually they would be relieved of that burden by one of their children. But this isn’t the case. The prophecy is issued to the snake, and in fact doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Messiah.

            Taking this as Messianic prophecy is emblematic of the problem of the Christian claim that Jesus fulfilled prophecy. It has the following properties: 1. Nothing in the prophecy tells the reader it’s Messianic. 2. We can’t possibly know whether or not Jesus fulfilled it.

            The first problem is so common, I hardly need to comment on it. When Matthew says quote Hosea, “out of Egypt I have called my son” nothing would hint that the son is the Messiah. Of course, if you read the prophecy, it’s about Israel. But if we point that out to the missionary, he will tell us that the Messiah fulfills it too, because he is Israel’s representative. This is mere apologetics. They have to squeeze Jesus in somehow, because they’ve already got their theology. They certainly can’t extract it from the prophecy itself. Nothing in the prophecy would hint to us that it is about the Messiah.

            The second problem is probably as ubiquitous as the first. What would tell us that Jesus bruised the head of the snake? Only that Christians believe it. He didn’t conquer sin in that he made it possible for others to be perfectly obedient to God. Christians still sin. And they don’t claim otherwise. He is supposed to have conquered death, but there is no evidence of that, as I’ve said many times now. And they haven’t yet been resurrected themselves. They just believe it. Many of the prophecies they believe he fulfilled are like this. How do they know he fulfilled the “prophecy” to be born of a virgin. They don’t. They already believe it. What about being born in Bethlehem? Same. And the list would go on.

            So, if we are to believe that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies, I can only answer, “How could I possibly?” By the standard set up, I can’t identify a prophecy relating to the Messiah, unless I already believe. Nor can I know if it’s fulfilled, unless I already believe. But these claims could be made by anybody on behalf of anybody. These aren’t proofs in the logical, demonstrative sense. They are proofs in the apologetic sense, which is to say that they aren’t proofs at all.

            David, you again compared Moses to Jesus. But I must again say that the comparison is not valid. One was attested to publicly, the other not. One we have reason to trust, and the other not.

            Jim
            Jim

          • David says:

            Hi Jim,

            It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. What you see as just a curse on one individual creature with irrelevance to anything else , I see as a proclamation and prophesy of what is to come and has relevance for all of mankind. It is the first glimpse into the foundation of God’s plan for world salvation. The question has always been, when and in what manner and how is it to end and to whom does it apply. The greatest sages have longed to look into these matters. In hind sight it has been revealed to us in our time.

            It’s appropriate that God pronounced this to the serpent first before he pronounced anything to either Adam or Eve for reasons most people are quick to state such as the punishment value, the fact that the serpent fostered man’s temptation to turn away from God and to the created, etc.

            But there is a deeper reason why God makes his proclamation prophesy first before he passes judgment on Adam and Eve and that is to highlight the fact that God had his salvation plan in mind and ready before the world began.

            If there is no salvation plan, then Adam must die as promised. And God should have started over.

            God created Adam, he told him he would surely die if…. God is therefore is just in having warned Adam and has the absolute authority to kill him having created him.

            Adam committed the very act which carried God’s promised death penalty. Adam didn’t die as God promised.

            We read surprisingly that God doesn’t kill Adam and furthermore that God not only doesn’t invoke the death penalty but before pronouncing anything to Adam, God proclaims and prophesies the New World Order for the time being which God is ushered in as a result of Adam’s misconduct and that of the serpent and in the same verse God also prophesies or foreshadows the ultimate salvation of Adam’s descendants which is a return to the Original World Order as envisioned and created by God for man.

            You might say that God forgave Adam. Well yes you can say that, but it wouldn’t do any good to simply forgive Adam without fixing the world back to the state it was meant to be in from the beginning. And that’s proven by the fact that God couldn’t let Adam stay in the Garden. First God has to fix man, then man and God can fix the world and at that point we’ll live as originally planned.

            Remember that God put man in charge of the world. But what happens when the man in charge is himself corrupt and acts in disobedience to God to destroy himself and God’s world? Simply fixing the environment won’t work, you have to fix the guy in charge.

          • Dina says:

            David, I know you don’t want to hear from me, so don’t feel obliged to respond. Just wanted to make a few quick points.

            1. The above is your creative interpretation, not based on Scripture.
            2. In an earlier comment, you say you see this as a hint. The unbridgeable chasm between Christians and Jews is that Christians are content to rest their theology on mere hints while Jews dare not rely on hints, obeying instead clear, open teachings in Scripture.
            3. Twice in one day you say it’s in the eye of the beholder. Truth is not relative. It’s not in the eye of the beholder. Truth is truth, whether your eye is willing to behold it or not.

            Best wishes,
            Dina

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            Sometimes we don’t understand scripture more fully when we see it coming to fruition. In hind sight we see Gen. 3:15 and other passages from a better perspective then others in the past living at that time. That’s not to say that my conclusions are not based on scripture.

            Jim’s conclusion that 3:15 is limited to the serpent is simply supported by scripture. It ignores the verse itself and It also ignores everything regarding God’s stated commands to Adam and God’s behavior before and after Adam’s disobedience. And to constantly look at things with such a narrow view denies the depth of the messages and truths of God through scripture.

            Regarding the difference between Christians and Jews, I disagree of course. Your claim is that I as a Christian am not basing what I believe on scripture. I can assure you that I do. You don’t see that I do, I agree with you there that you don’t see what I see when I read and study scripture. Since you believe only your view to be the correct one and that I am in error, you then assume it is because I’m not basing my belief on scripture.

            Regarding Truth, I agree, there is one truth and it is not relative and all truth comes from God. But who has the truth between us? According to you I don’t have the truth, but according to me you don’t have the truth. I take the truth from scripture but you say I’m not. I say your failing to understand scripture. I say you fail to see the truth and mistake your failure as my failure to receive truth from scripture. And round and round we go.

            That’s why I say it’s all in the eye of the beholder (meaning between us), you say I’m wrong, I say you’re wrong and Paul says we’re both wrong. It is possible that we are all wrong but it’s not possible that we’re all right.

          • Dina says:

            Hi David.

            You made an important point, and one that I agree with. All the competing religions in the world can’t be right because they all contradict each other in their foundational beliefs. Therefore, all of them are wrong or only one of them is right.

            If you want to accept the possibility that one of them is right, then how can you know which one? So much is at stake, so much rides on your decision.

            From my perspective, as a Jew reading Tanach, I am reading Scripture as a member of its target audience. Taking God at His word, I hear Him telling me that His laws are eternal, they apply everywhere, they apply in every age, and they apply even in the Messianic age (I provided sources for all these in another thread). I hear God telling me what price I will pay for disobedience to these laws. For many of them, the heaviest price is a cutting off of the soul from the nation of Israel–and for transgressions that might seem as trivial as eating leavened bread on Passover. Basically, what I hear God saying is that I had better pay attention and I had better take His words very, very seriously.

            Do you think it reasonable for a Jew like me who loves God and wants to obey Him as fully as I can to be very, very cautious in examining the claims of competing religions?

            Do you think that’s the responsible thing to do? And do you think that if I find the evidence unsatisfactory, the right thing to do would be to stick with the original plan?

            I was going to focus on Genesis 3:15, but your last point made me realize that the issue is much larger than that discussion. Nevertheless, we do have an alternative way for interpreting this verse that answers the questions you posed. Do you think intelligent Jews who study their Bible and take it seriously didn’t think of these questions and discuss them centuries ago? But before I weigh in on that, I’m hoping to hear Jim’s take.

            Dina

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            I agree with you 100%, but the same holds true for me. Just as you read your scriptures and reject Christianity among other religions, I read my scriptures and reject Judaism and other religions.

            To answer your questions specifically,

            Yes of course I think it not only completely reasonable but also completely obligatory to examine the scriptures as best you can and assuming your findings continue to support Judaism then reject everything else and go with as you say the original plan.

            That’s exactly what I do, but of course I find in favor of Christianity and I see the original plan differently.

          • Dina says:

            Thanks for this response, David.

            I was hoping you would see where I’m coming from, and I’m glad that at least on this one point we understand each other.

            As for Genesis 3:15, the traditional Jewish understanding is that by eating from the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve introduced death into the world. They were supposed to have physical eternal life; at the moment they ate from the tree they became subject to death. This is supported by two verses:

            3:19: God tells Adam that he will eventually die.
            3:22: God banishes Adam from the Garden of Eden before he can get hold of the fruit of the tree of life and live forever (the implication being that he would then undo the curse of being subject to death).

            I don’t expect you to accept this interpretation, but this once again underlines my point that when we argue over text, we must stick to the narrow (your word) and plain meaning (my words) because we each think the other is engaging in wildly creative and speculative interpretation.

            My larger point, though, is to explain that just as you find ways to interpret verses to answer obvious questions about the text, so do we.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            The death Adam suffered from old age, returning to the dust after a long and fruitful life of many children was not what God had threatened Adam with when he said, “in the day you eat of it you shall SURELY DIE.” He doesn’t say “die” he says “surely die.”

            Since you speak Hebrew, you could easily do a word study and look up the few other circumstances where God uses the exact phrase “surely die.” Surely die, never refers to a death of old age, from natural causes. It always refers to a premature death of unnatural causes which is usually violent in nature.

            Adam is under that condemnation of death to die a violent and premature death. That condemnation was never executed upon him of course. Another lesser punishment was instituted. But that didn’t remove the original death sentence. At any time God could have struck him down in a violent manner to carry out the threatened punishment of death before his natural death of old age.

            Adam was not allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life because he was under the condemnation of death.

            Gen. 3:15 introduces us to the fact that the issue is not resolved and introduces us to the epic struggle between the children of the woman and the children of the serpent. The Hebrew for seed is often used for both plural and singular. In the singular meaning, we are also introduced to he who represents the child of the woman and brings the struggle to fulfillment.

            Maybe others (even some Christians) don’t see this as Messianic. I think that’s because we have very differing views of what Messianic and the Messiah mean.

            For me everything following the Garden is God’s plan for us to restore for us to the Garden (or a Garden like state). God didn’t destroy Adam as threatened and start fresh. You’d have to say God screwed up if he didn’t have a plan. But God knows man’s heart because God created him and had a plan to deal with man before man was created.

          • Dina says:

            Hi David.

            Regarding your comments about how to interpret Genesis 3:15, I have to look into that. But in the meantime I’d like to respond to your last paragraph.

            God blessed us with free will. That means that individuals and even nations chart their own destiny to a certain extent. God didn’t mess up, but He sure let Adam and Eve do so. You seem to believe in predestination, a concept that is alien to Jewish thought.

          • Dina says:

            Hi David.

            I liked Jim’s answer on “surely die” and don’t really have anything to add to add to that.

            Thanks, Jim!

            Dina

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            There are some obvious errors (words added or words missing which change the meaning) in my post. I guess I didn’t read it well before I posted it and there’s no edit function on this blog.

            Maybe you can still figure it out, if not, I’ll rewrite it. Or just ignore it.

            Thanks

          • Annelise says:

            I don’t know what’s happening with the comment order. To David’s “Regarding the question or comment”, you addressed just a small point in what I wrote. The only thing I want to address from what you said is the idea “Regarding the argument of idolatry. although I reject the Trinity argument, I wouldn’t classify it as idolatry in the sense as explained in the OT. In the case of the Trinity even hard core Trinitarians think they are serving and worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” What does that have to do with it? If I God forbid worship any of you guys as if you were an incarnation of God and in a relationship with God also in some ways… that’s not reprehensible? Any possible justification makes it not idolatrous? Most Christians never ‘worship J’ even thoughthey think they do, because they have the wrong understanding of who he was. I get that. But it is still directing to a guy who was most certainly created the attention that belongs to God.

          • David says:

            Hi Annelise,

            For me it has everything to do with it. The so called idolatry of the Trinity looks nothing like the idolatry of the OT. In the OT they turned away from God “knowingly” to other gods. Which is worse, to think you are worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but be mistaken, OR to knowingly turn from God to serve and worship something else?

            Both are wrong but the degree of error between the two are so far apart I wouldn’t classify it as similar. The idolatry in the OT is truly idolatry and is far worse. And the error of the Trinity is more related to ignorance and shouldn’t be confused with idolatry.

            However, I’m told there are a few non-Trinitarian Christians who do believe that belief in the Trinity is idolatry. I don’t share that view. And of course there are those that believe what I believe is idolatry.

          • Dina says:

            David, the prohibition against idolatry is taught many times in the Torah, and the word “knowingly” does not occur in many instances. Besides, Christians read and accept as truth the Hebrew scriptures, which make very plain the notion that their concept of God is idolatrous.

            You can only easily excuse the idolatry of Trinitarian Christians if you do not understand the gravity of this sin, the greatest crime against God according to the Bible.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            Whether it says knowingly or not the point remains. Those in the OT went after other gods they knew not to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were in conscious and overt rebellion. Those today think they are serving and worshiping YHWH. It’s not the same obviously. Nothing anywhere in the OT talks about relating idolatry with those who claim to be and think they are worshiping YHWH.

            The description of idolatry is totally different than what we have in the error of the Trinity.

            It’s error to be sure but not the error of idolatry.

          • Dina says:

            David, I do not entirely disagree with you. I don’t consider the idolatry of Christianity to be on the same level as the idolatry of polytheistic religions such as, say, Hinduism. Nevertheless, it is not pure monotheism, as should be evident to any Christian who reads Tanach and sees statements such as that God is not a man and that there is no savior beside him (that should trouble you too, since you believe He appointed a man to be a savior).

            Christians who read bold, clear statements that

            1. God is not a man and is incorporeal (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 16:29; Psalms 146:3; Exodus 33:20; Hosea 11:9; Deuteronomy 4:12-16, 23-25),
            2. God is alone and there is no savior beside Him (Deuteronomy 4:35,39; Deuteronomy 6:4; Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 43:10-11; Isaiah 44:6; Hosea 13:4; Isaiah 46:9; Isaiah 45:5-6, 18, 20-22; 1 Chronicles 17:20) (And I’d like to add that traditional Jews do not see Moses as a savior, rather as a prophet and teacher, which is why we call him Moshe Rabeinu, Moses our Teacher. Only God is our savior.)
            3. We are to worship God and God alone (Exodus 34:14; Jeremiah 25:6,7; Deuteronomy 31:16-18)
            4. We are not to make any physical representation of God (Exodus 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 4:16, 23; Deuteronomy 7:25)

            then they should understand that these are teachings against forms of idolatry.

            So while I agree with you that the idolatry that the Israelites copied from their pagan neighbors is different from and worse than Trinitarian Christianity, I cannot say, having cited the above sources, that there are no clear teachings against such beliefs as the trinity in Tanach. And since idolatry is the gravest sin in the Bible that a man can commit against God, we must stay far, far away from anything that even smacks of it–and the trinity more than smacks of it.

            To conclude, it’s not a small error. It’s a rather large and quite obvious one.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            It seems obvious enough to me. But Trinitarians back up their beliefs with scripture too of course, much of the same scripture which you’ve quoted. They of course read it differently. Their error to me falls into the category of sinning without knowing it. They believe with 100% of their hearts and minds that they are in the right with God. Jesus said Father forgive them for they know not what they do. They thought they were obedient to God by executing Jesus. Trinitarians think they are obedient to God so their error deserves our prayers as well.

            Isn’t it true that all sin committed without knowing it is treated the same in Judaism? Isn’t that covered in Leviticus 5:17? I would put it into that category.

          • Dina says:

            Hi David.

            I have no argument with you there. Jews believe that God judges each person according to his abilities and circumstances, so if a person sincerely believes he is doing the right thing and strives for goodness, God will take that into account. Unlike Christians who believe spiritual salvation can be attained only through belief in Jesus, Jews believe that the gates of heaven (or eternal life, if you prefer) are open wide for all who people are basically good (no such thing as narrow gates or people seeking to enter who will be denied; God is close to all who call to him, to all who call to him sincerely [Psalms 145:18]).

            This is why I’m perfectly content to let Christians remain Christian, whether they are Trinitarian or not. But if a Christian presents me with his theology and tries to convince me of the truth of something that is false, I will point out the errors.

            And that’s why we keep arguing with each other.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            I know this wasn’t your main point but I just found it interesting.

            You made the comment that heaven is available to all who are basically good. This is not what I’ve found in studying some of the basic beliefs of Judaism. Historically Judaism has wavered back and forth about who goes to heaven. At times it was believed to be exclusive to Jews. Other times it was more open. And other times it has been the righteous only. When you study who it is that Judaism believes to be righteous it is often only those who adhere to the teachings of the Torah. Therefore, a good atheist could enter for example.

            I haven’t read where all those who are “basically good” get in even for example the person who believes there is no God or those for example who believe in many gods and deny the YHWH.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            I made a typo.
            The last sentence of the main paragraph should read:

            Therefore, a good atheist couldn’t enter for example.

          • Dina says:

            Well, David, here are some traditional teachings about this topic. Obviously, these are from traditional Jewish sources but not Tanach, which alludes rarely to the afterlife but doesn’t discuss it:

            The righteous of all nations will have a share in the world of eternal bliss (Tosefta Sanhedrin, XIII:2).
            If a pagan prays and evokes God’s name, Amen must be said (Jerusalem, Berachos, 8).
            Antonius once asked Rabbi Judah the Prince, “Will I have a share in the world to come?” To which the latter replied, “Yes.” “But is it not written, ‘Nothing will remain in the house of Esau’?” “True,” Rabbi Judah answered, “but only if they do the deeds of Esau” (Avodah Zarah 10b).
            No one can become a Kohen or Levite unless he is so born. But if anyone wishes to become a holy and religious man, he can do so even though he is a pagan. Kindness, holiness, and piety are not hereditary and are not the possession of an exclusive race or nation. Justice and piety are acquired through one’s own deeds (Numbers Rabba, 8).
            Heaven and earth I call to be witnesses, be it non-Jew or Jew, man or woman, man-servant or maid-servant, according to the work of every human being does the holy spirit rest upon him (Yalkut, Section 42).
            Whether Israelite or heathen, if he only executes a righteous deed, God will recompense him for it (Tanna Devai Eliyahu, Section 13).

            Peace and blessings,
            Dina

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            Mishnah Sanhedrin, chapter 10
            (1) All Israel [even those who were
            executed by the court for their
            transgressions] have a portion in the
            World to Come, for it is written:
            “Your people are all righteous; they
            shall inherit the land forever, the
            branch of my planting, the work of my
            hands, that I be glorified” (Isaiah
            60:21). But the following have no
            portion in the World to Come: He who
            says that resurrection is not a Torah
            doctrine, the Torah is not from
            Heaven, and an apikoros [who
            denigrates Torah and Torah scholars]. Rabbi Akiva adds: One who reads from
            heretical books. And one who whispers [a charm] over a wound and says: Any
            of the diseases that I have inflicted upon the Egyptians, I will not inflict upon
            you. For I, the Lord, heal you” (Exodus 15:26). Abba Shaul says: Also, one who
            pronounces the [four letter] Divine Name as it is spelled.

            I think the above is pretty clear. According to that I and other Christians don’t go to heaven even if we’re the most righteous since we hold to what Judaism considers a heretical book, the NT. In addition, although many believe in the resurrection, including Christians, many don’t believe it is based on the Torah but elsewhere in the writings of the OT and NT. So then we’d be doubly disqualified. I also find in much of Jewish literature that the ungodly are by definition not righteous. And only the righteous go to heaven. And by definition atheists deny the Torah is from heaven since they don’t even believe in heaven. So that would also disqualify them as well, since one must believe that the Torah is from heaven to go to heaven (according to the above).

            Also, don’t you find it just a little curious that the resurrection doctrine being so central to Judaism to have its own RAMBAM statement of faith (number 13), and yet we find only two direct verses written about it (Daniel and Isaiah), and those are not even in the Torah? Didn’t you tell me previously in one of our debates that ALL important themes in Hebrew scriptures are repeated dozens if not hundreds of times? The resurrection would have to be an exception to that rule, wouldn’t you agree?

            Here are the only two direct references found in the OT dealing with resurrection.

            Isaiah 26:19
            Thy dead shall live, my dead bodies shall arise, awake and sing, ye that dwell in the
            dust, for thy dew is as the dew of light, and the earth shall bring to life the shades.
            Daniel 12:2
            And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting
            life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence.

          • Dina says:

            Hi David.

            I’ll start first with Rambam and the resurrection. Really the eighth statement includes everything else, but because people make common errors regarding other beliefs, Rambam felt the need to articulate them. I wouldn’t say that these statements of faith necessarily articulate every important or foundational belief. The resurrection is something we believe in but don’t think about a lot. It’s not in the same league as the other themes I have expounded upon in other threads. Nevertheless, you raised a fair question, so bravo to you, David.

            It seems to me that you think that Rambam is in our eyes equivalent to Hebrew scripture, from the triumphant way you quote him to prove a point. If you think that, you are mistaken. Rambam is one among many great rabbis in our history (Rashi and Ramban [Nachmanides] were also influential rabbis of their day). A lot of rabbis throughout history disagreed with him, and even today traditional Jews do not follow all of his teachings. So it won’t work to try to “prove” something from Rambam. Our rabbis are fallible humans. If you want to prove anything, quote Scripture at me. Much more effective.

            As for the Mishnah, the way I and other traditional Jews understand this IN CONTEXT is that the list of people who are excluded from the world to come are JEWS (not gentiles) who WlLFULLY AND DEFIANTLY engage in these acts. Please don’t come back at me and tell me that you understand this differently. You have no authority to interpret the Mishnah and then tell Jews that your interpretation is correct. Furthermore, the proof that my traditional understanding is correct is supported by all the other citations I provided for you on this subject.

            Again, like Rambam’s Thirteen Principles, the list of things that get JEWS excluded from the World to Come is not meant to be exhaustive; it merely addresses common errors JEWS should avoid.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            That sounds like selective reasoning since RAMBAM is supposedly held to by orthodox Jews. Additionally if you are going to claim that I have no authority to read and reason the Mishnah or read other writings including the history of Jews and their ever changing beliefs then that same restriction would apply as well to you and all Jews with regard to the NT.

            Thankfully I don’t hold to your views on what I can and can’t think, or what you or anyone else can or can’t think, or opine. This is something I’ve never said to you even in our most heated debates regarding your disparaging remarks of the NT.

          • Dina says:

            I didn’t tell you what you can or cannot think; I told you you can’t hold me to your interpretation of traditional Jewish teachings. You cherry picked a teaching which you misunderstood, ignoring all the other ones I presented.

            I don’t know what to tell you, David. You so often twist my arguments around that I just want to throw my hands up in the air and give up.

            Traditional Jews believe that anyone who strives for goodness, whatever his race, religion, or creed, has a share in the World to Come. All Orthodox Jews believe this. Do you have a reason for wanting to prove that we really don’t believe this? What is your agenda, exactly?

            Orthodox Jews hold by the Rambam but not in the way you think. His word is not the final or absolute one. He holds many views that, while we respect them, we don’t follow them. Rambam is not to Judaism what Christian scripture is to Christianity. I’m just pointing this out because you seem to be conflating the two.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            I’m not telling you what you have to hold to or not hold to.
            I 100% accept what ever you tell me it is that you personally do or don’t believe.

            I’m reading from the most part the OT and mostly from Jews themselves what they claim are beliefs of Judaism. Just as you have read the NT and other writings about Christians by Jews and Christians about what is believed within Christendom and then debate me on particular points.

            I’m not say you personally have to believe what other Jews write. But orthodox Jews for example hold to RAMBAM and use his writings so I’m on solid ground in using his writings, much more so than for example using what you say or what Mr. Blumenthal says in talking what Judaism holds to. You may reject everything of RAMBAM, I’m not telling you what to believe.

            Everything I’m reading on the resurrection is from well accepted writings in Judaism which I think I referenced.

            The fact that RAMBAM lists the resurrection as one of only 13 statements of faith says a lot. To me one of the reason is obvious. Verses describing or proclaiming the doctrine o the resurrection in the OT are almost non-existent.

            I’m also reading that beliefs in this regard have changed a lot over the centuries about who does and who doesn’t go to heaven for example.

            Again you don’t have to personally agree with anything I’m writing or what I’m quoting. I’m countering your claims regarding Judaism in general with writings from Judaism and the OT. I’m not commenting on your personal beliefs one way or the other.

          • Dina says:

            It so happens that neither I nor Rabbi Blumenthal spout our own personal beliefs. You read Jewish writings and then cull from them what you think are traditional beliefs.

            But it doesn’t work that way.

            If you want to understand traditional Jews, you might have to get to know a few of them real well to understand what I’m talking about.

            Different Jewish groups have different ideas about different things; that’s for sure. But we do meet on some solid common grounds. However, I do not know any traditional Jew (and I suspect I’m acquainted with rather more of them than you are) who would dispute what I said about the afterlife and the resurrection and the Rambam.

            This conversation is getting really weird.

          • cpsoper says:

            I’m no expert but there was plenty of controversy when Rambam first published, and as I understand it still some strong dissent from him now in Orthodox schuls, and for very good reason.

          • David says:

            Hi cpsoper,

            I started bringing up RAMBAM previous to this most recent debate because he has been used on this blog as an authoritative voice of orthodox Judaism thought. I’m aware that not all Judaism or even orthodoxy holds to everything of RAMBAM. I also think there is a plethora of opinions and thought within Judaism in opposition to itself just as in Christianity. Opinions have changed over the centuries as well, just as in Christianity.

          • Fair comment, David. I’ve also used him as a clear and famous exponent, often referred to as authoritative.

          • Annelise says:

            Anyway, you only responded to the first sentence, which wasn’t even the main point… you don’t have to reply, I’m just saying you didn’t in case you thought you had though.

          • Annelise says:

            For sure deliberate rebellion is different from being tricked into something. But that doesn’t stop the other negative aspects, and the very label of worshiping what is created in place of the Creator. Some of my dear friends who are Christians and with whom, in the past, I’ve shared the experience of that faith, I really look up to many aspects of their relationship with Hashem. But I am absolutely unwilling to go to church with them. Just like I wouldn’t go into a Hindu Temple with people who have been tricked into thinking that they can worship the one Creator in/through a bunch of natural (and imaginative) manifestations. Am I wrong?

          • David says:

            Hi Annelise,

            I’m not sure if I already addressed this one, but no one in Christendom (whether Trinitarian or non Trinitarian) believes they are worshiping the “created” in place of God. Trinitarians don’t believe that Jesus was created. They believe that he is God incarnate; the phrase they use is “begotten, not created.” Literally they believe he is God and always has been God and is not created.

            And non-Trinitarians don’t worship Jesus as if he were God. Non-Trinitarians know that all things flow from God including all authority given to Jesus. Since we do believe Jesus was created by God we don’t worship him as if he were God. Just as we don’t worship anything as if it were God except God alone. We believe Jesus is the agent of God, not God. And therefore doesn’t deserve the worship which is for God alone.

            If you want to understand me in my personal case, you can think of it in terms of what Moses did for the Israelites as the intermediary and spokes person for God, giving them the law, performing miracles, speaking to God on their behalf, Speaking to the people on God’s behalf, instructing the people, deciding matters between them, amending the law as necessary, etc. I don’t think there was a single Israelite the mistook Moses for God. Neither do I mistake Jesus for God.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise,

            David and I had this argument before. I’m addressing this to you because I am sure David doesn’t want to go through this with me again.

            MOSES WAS NOT AN INTERMEDIARY BETWEEN GOD AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE.

            Moses was a leader, prophet, and teacher in the same mold as Joshua, the judges, and prophets that followed him, the only difference being that he was the greatest of them all. MOSES WAS NOT, IS NOT, AND NEVER WILL BE THE FOCUS OF JUDAISM.

            David will freely admit that Jesus is at the center of Christianity; he truly regards Jesus as an intermediary between him and God; this actually makes David’s devotion to Jesus very suspect in terms of idolatry because he is giving to him the kind of veneration that belongs to God alone.

            The Jewish people do not place their trust in a human to be their savior. God and only God is our savior.

            I love this powerful paragraph from CS:

            “It is a natural for us to create intermediaries, people want graven images, idols, golden calfs, or even some of the Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt, there they had food, and security even though they were slaves unto Pharaoh. The story is about freedom, responsibility and independence under God, and about how man regresses to looking to put things between man and God and consequently not wanting to take responsibility for oneself. The Torah is a polemic against power and Empire, and a call to action and responsibility through a direct relationship with God.”

            You can read some of my arguments “contra David” here:

            https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/tyvm-from-a-jew-to-a-christian/#comment-7149
            https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/tyvm-from-a-jew-to-a-christian/#comment-7171

            And of course you will find David’s position there as well.

            Peace and blessings,
            Dina

          • Annelise says:

            Also once people hear these things to a level where they could understand and they refuse to listen, then the wrongs they are doing against God and against Israel and against the people who respect and follow them… are very serious.

          • Jim says:

            David,

            I think I should clarify, because you reinterpreted what I wrote. I said that nothing in the context tells me that Gen. 3:15 is about the Messiah. I did not say that it was only about the snake. I haven’t explicated at all what I think it means. That wasn’t the point of what I wrote. I will leave that to the more capable hands of Dina. I am after all just a baby.

            What I’m discussing here is methodology. Really, what goes on from the Christian side is eisegesis, a method which I find particularly unsound. Nothing here tells us that this is a Messianic prophecy. That is read in by Christian eisegetes, who, already putting their unfounded faith in Jesus, now read him into any passage they can. Once one accepts Jesus, suddenly they see him lurking behind every verse. They don’t read the verse to find out what it says; they read the verse to find Jesus.

            I sympathize with the Christian, however. Having been one for more than 3/4 of my life, I also read Tanach that way. But on a careful study of the texts, I discovered that I was violating all the laws of logic and consistency. The same method the Christian applies could be applied by the Muslim, Mormon, or Moonie. They could each find their own teachings there. I wasn’t reading to find out what God had said. I was reading to shore up my theological upbringing and opinion. It is significant that virtually no Christian comes to Jesus after years of studying Tanach and then learning about Jesus and saying, “That man sounds just like what I’ve been studying for the past so-many years.” Those who have studied the Tanach all their lives, however, did not see any conformity between him and what was told them by God.

            Now we might say that this is all in the “eye of the beholder”. But I don’t think that’s helpful. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude. But if we are studying the words of the Almighty to learn His truth, shrugging the shoulders is of no use. You and I do disagree, but we can both build arguments to test each other and our own view.

            On the other hand, I am quite happy to let the Christian alone. If he doesn’t want to talk about these things, that’s his prerogative. However, then he ought not to teach his beliefs. If he proselytizes, telling others how they can only come to faith in Jesus, he must expect that I will argue with him. Because he cannot substantiate his faith through exegesis and through logic, he is free to believe it but not teach it. If he makes any sort of truth claim, then it is incumbent upon him to demonstrate the validity of his claims. Now, if he wants to discuss the matters with me, I will listen. I know that he is concerned for my soul. I appreciate his caring. But, if in his reasoning, he has made an error, I will show him. For I too worry about his soul. And I would that he abandon faith in a man and put it in God instead.

            With respect,

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            Jim, I think you are at least three steps ahead of me. You are certainly no baby! And your writing throbs with passion and eloquence.

            Best,
            Dina

          • Annelise says:

            Hey David,

            I just can’t reply to your comments in the place you are somehow putting them, but to your “I’m not sure if I already addressed this one”-

            I wasn’t saying you worship J as God or anything. The main disagreement I would have with you is the concept you have of observant Jews not being the holders of God’s testimony about Himself in our world in a right way. But that’s not the point here.

            As to what you said about trinitarians, did you read yet Rabbi Yisroel’s latest post on this blog? The point was, I think, that we believe J was merely a human, and so even if Christians don’t *think* they’re worshiping a mere man, the action itself remains a big problem. Regardless of how they say they think and feel about the absolute ‘oneness’, it is very wrong and antithetical to some things in the heart of Torah.

          • Annelise says:

            To Dina’s “David and I had this argument before”…

            I don’t follow the posts here that closely, usually I only reply if something caught my eye at an opportune moment when it came into my inbox and was glanced at 🙂 So I took David at face value that if he sees J just like Israel saw Moses, so it is… and assumed any great distracting focus on J was just because he thinks he was moshiach. (I think Moses would have been a pretty central focus also, but in an appropriate way!)

            I just can’t understand how people can believe that someone was the messiah who appeared and then for a couple of thousand years was not recognisable to the Jews and was worshiped by the nations as God. Huh??

            Anyway, do you think it would need to be addressed separately from the issue with trinitarian idolising?

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, I would like to clarify this one statement of yours:

            “I think Moses would have been a pretty central focus also, but in an appropriate way!)”

            Moses was looked to as a leader in his time just as Joshua was looked to as a leader in his time, and so on down through the centuries. Once he passed on, while we study his teachings (he did after all record God’s words), we aren’t obsessed with him. We don’t focus on Moses the person anymore than we focus on Joshua the person; we don’t see them as intermediaries.

            And while there are obvious differences in Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian worship, I believe that in one way non-Trinitarian worship is worse. Here’s why:

            Trinitarians sincerely believe they are worshipping one God. They are committing idolatry, true, but they are confused about monotheism. Non-Trinitarians claim that Jesus is a man, not God, but they give to a mere human the kind of adulation and veneration that belongs to God alone, thus engaging in outright idol worship. I hasten to add that this is my personal opinion.

            David would say that Jews have venerated and worshipped their kings (bowing down to them and such). My argument is that there is nothing wrong with worshipping a human king as a human. The veneration and worship of non-Trinitarians toward Jesus go far, far beyond the typical worship of a human king.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            At least you seem to admit that Moses was the center of focus while he was alive. We Christians hold that Jesus is alive today. So for me it’s as if we were living in the time of Moses but multiplied by a thousand regarding the authority of Jesus compared to that of Moses.

            No one to date that I know of who claims to be Jewish has challenged the authority of Moses even in death. So why would we Christians challenge the authority of Jesus knowing that he is alive and that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to him which of course exceeds that of Moses. All statements of Jewish faith for example are based on the belief that what Moses said and did was directly from God (not counting his human errors of course, one of which prevented him from entering the promised land).

            Moses listened to the people and spoke to God for the people. Moses listened to God and spoke to the people for God. I find no record of the early Israelites speaking to God directly. Later God takes some of His Spirit from Moses and spreads it around to 70 others (elders). When the people heard the thunder on Mount Sinai, Moses interpreted and translated the Thunder of God’s words into words the people could understand and spoke to them the words of God coming out of the fire as thunder. This is quite obvious to me since if the people had understood the words of God there’d have been no need for Moses to also stand between the people and God and repeat the words of God. The point is, they needed Moses who alone could understand God’s words to stand between them and God, literally as the intermediary and translate. That was just for the first 10 commandments. And they were told to go away to their tents. The rest of the Law was not heard at all by a single Israelite. But they grew to trust Moses over time and learned to accept his words and the Law as that coming from God Himself.

            God referred to the people as Moses’ people (“your people”). God said that Moses had brought them out of Egypt (“which YOU brought out of Egypt”). Moses on the other hand referred to the people as God’s and that God had brought them out.

            The problem with idolatry of the Golden Calf is that the people ascribed to their created, make believe gods, what God and Moses had done together. They said “these are the god’s which led you out of Egypt”. They took the focus off Moses and God. God wouldn’t allow that. God protected the integrity of not only Himself but the authority of Moses as well.

            When the Levites witnessed the wrong of the people in the Golden Calf, they took no action absent the command of Moses. They just let it happen. But when Moses gave the command they killed 3000 of their brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. That says a lot don’t you think about the trust and focus on Moses as being the central representative and sole authority of God in their midst.

          • Dina says:

            David, you made a couple of fair points; please give me some time to examine these texts and get back to you.

            Best,
            Dina

          • Dina says:

            David, allow me to clarify.

            I did not say that Moses was the center of worship. I said that the people looked to Moses as a leader the same way they looked to Joshua as a leader and the same way we still look to our leaders today for spiritual guidance.

            God spoke to Moses in front of the whole people in order to establish his credibility, but, even more importantly, so that the people would understand at a very basic level who God is, and therefore whom they should worship.

            If Jesus was even greater than Moses, then to establish his superior credentials, God would have spoken to him in front of the whole nation of Israel. There is no other way, since the Torah had already proclaimed that Moses is the greatest prophet who ever lived (Deuteronomy 34:10).

            Based on Deuteronomy and our national experience of revelation that predated the writing of the Torah, the Jewish people identified the true prophets and decided which ones to canonize. This same people rejected the writings of the New Testament. Why do you trust this people’s testimony regarding the canon of Hebrew Scripture including the prophets but reject it regarding the writings of Christian scripture?

            Be consistent. Either accept the testimony of the nation of Israel (established by God as his witnesses in Isaiah 43) and reject Christian scripture, or reject Hebrew Scripture altogether. You cannot have it both ways.

          • Annelise says:

            Dina, you wrote “The veneration and worship of non-Trinitarians toward Jesus go far, far beyond the typical worship of a human king.”

            I think you would have to take it on a case by case basis. For some, maybe it isn’t. (Though it might be hard to find anyone like that because many have a previous experience of worshiping J as God that seems to make it hard to let go of the idea that he was at least moshiach… driven by affection for ‘him’ more than by good reason.) Maybe some people do just think he was and will be a merely human, humble servant of God, and then their idea doesn’t differ from the Jewish idea of moshiach except perhaps in their ideas of the way Israel is serving God in this period now.

            But otherwise, if you’re right in that statement in any person’s case, I hugely agree with how terrible a deception and attitude you say it is.

          • Dina says:

            I don’t think so, Annelise. Making a person the center of a religion is too close to idolatry for comfort, regardless of its adherents’ vehement protestations that this person is not God. That makes it much worse, in my opinion. They know he’s not God but are worshipping him anyway.

            How can making a person the focus and center of one’s worship be acceptable?

          • Annelise says:

            Such a person wouldn’t be doing that. (They wouldn’t accept the NT though.)

  2. These are very sensitive and deep matters on both sides. I think though, Jim, you have mischaracterised the Father – was it easier for Abraham or for Isaac to go up Mount Moriah?
    It is true, Annelise, that this very strong Father-Son tie is right at the heart of how Christians see God – again and again, love for the Father, not love for mankind primarily, is given as the principal motivation for Jesus’ actions in the NT.

    • Annelise says:

      Do you think that there is a connection between the way that J was seeking to serve the Father in the NT, and the way that creation owes humility and service before God? It’s an interesting parallel.

    • Jim says:

      Charles,

      The analogy to Abraham and Isaac doesn’t hold. God isn’t akin to Abraham. He knows the end from the beginning. Nothing he does requires faith. He doesn’t actually have any loss to suffer. According to the Christian model, only Jesus actually has anything to lose. He must first go from being in a perfect station to an imperfect one, becoming subject to human conditions that could not affect a divine being. He’s the one who has to face the terror of dying. Moreover, God isn’t subject to temporality, while Jesus became so. So to God this isn’t even a moment, while Jesus actually has to experience the agony in time.

      If we were to make it at all akin to Abraham and Isaac, at least the cause of the sacrifice should be the same. Perhaps Abraham could have volunteered Isaac to save Sodom and Gemorrah. That would be somewhat close. And then we would ask why he didn’t volunteer himself. Who would the Sodomi be more grateful to? Abraham or Isaac? Probably Isaac, because Abraham volunteered him, but Isaac suffered. To quote Jesus: “Greater love hath no man than this than that he should lay down his life for his friends.” It’s not quite the same thing, volunteering someone else’s life.

      But my point wasn’t to criticize the Christian father-god, so much as to explain why they are distracted with devotion to Jesus. It’s a natural outgrowth of the story they’re told. I know Christians will say they are thankful to God, but it’s really Jesus to whom much of the gratitude goes.

      The fact of the matter is, they didn’t need Jesus’ sacrifice. God would have saved Sodom and Gemorrah by the presence of ten righteous men, not their deaths. He tells us, through Ezekiel, that we only need to return to him. No man need die for another. “…The soul that sins, it shall die.” But the Christian has been told another story. And they are distracted. It is my wish that they not be distracted anymore, but come to worship the Creator of the Universe rather than a man.

      Jim

      • Dina says:

        I do not understand why Christians do not find bizarre the notion of a god sacrificing his son to himself. Furthermore, the notion that the “Father” loves the “Son” and the “Son” loves the “Father” is equally bizarre if they are one and the same. Does God love Himself?

        Finally, the fact that Jesus is called the “Son” and the “Servant” and that Christians want to make the servant of Isaiah 35 be Jesus also doesn’t fit the theology that the son is co-equal with the father. A son is, by his very nature of being a son, subservient to the authority of his father; how much more so is a servant subservient to his master.

        (David, this is for Trinitarians to answer.)

        • Annelise says:

          Those who were born into trinitarian families usually absorbed the incarnation before they came to hear any trinitarian ‘Christology’ articulated in a way they could understand. I mean, the ideas you say there are taught as part of the story but the bigger idea is that… okay, here’s an anecdote. I remember my nan (a friend of my parents) telling me a bedtime story about a young boy who wanted to save all the ants but didn’t know how to tell them about the disaster, so (I forget how) he became an ant himself and talked with them, perhaps got hurt by them. The basic concept for people with my upbringing is that the man was God, that God is one, and only in that context, the rest. I think the earliest I remember thinking on that level it is in songs and Christmas/Easter sermon stories that implied that the suffering of ‘God’, in that of ‘son’ and ‘father’, was quite equal. I remember people emphasising that (not all Christians agree with this) when J said ‘why have you forsaken me’ it actually meant the ‘father’ had turned away from him because of the sin he was carrying, for the first time in the eternal love relationship (never leaving the assumption of total unity in the ‘godhead’).

          I write this because I believe it might bring clarification into the mindset. But wow, J-worshipping Christianity is a uniquely bad idolatry in that to describe it you don’t just say “they worship x and ascribe to it this and that”. You actually depict the obscene blurring of lines between God and His creation, on the invisible level of ‘personhood’/’selfhood’.

          • Annelise says:

            (Certainly also in other sermons and Sunday school stories, but for some reason I remember the Christmas and Easter ones. Probably contained more dramatic and vivid emotional stories, especially as more newcomers are present then.)

          • Dina says:

            Yes, Annelise, I hear what you’re saying. I believe the Ramban said something similar to King James of Aragon. He told him that the only reason he could believe what he believes is that he was raised on those beliefs with his mother’s milk (or something like that). Because the beliefs make no logical sense. And that is why Christians often talk about the “mystery.” It really doesn’t make sense; they accept it on faith.

            Having said that, what I can’t understand is why when the truth is made plain to them they still hold onto their beliefs. People who think deeply about these issues should be able to recognize the truth when they see it. I have changed my position on certain issues after being presented with good, logical arguments. I have also changed assumptions about myself, beliefs about myself on which I had strong certitude, after being confronted with the truth about myself–and these changes led me to transform certain things in my relationships (for the better).

            My point is, why do Christians still hold to these beliefs and insist they are based on rational grounds when presented with contrary evidence. If someone were to present me with a strong, clear, logical argument against my religious beliefs, I would not be able to sleep too well at night! And then if I decided to maintain those beliefs, I would have to concede that they are a matter of faith and I would not try to defend them on rational grounds.

          • Annelise says:

            I only listened to the fact that Jews who followed/follow Torah can’t accept J with any good reason matching their level of caution about these matters. In terms of incarnation/trinity objections, I did at times feel uncomforta le with it as a Christian… But it seemed perfectly valid to attribute mystery to God’s self and actions! It wasn’t till maybe a year after accepting Jewish understanding that I understood some arguments against these issues themselves, rather than just thinking there was no proof.

            Maybe on a small level, compare it to those who say all creation ‘is God’ so as to avoid the idea that He found any ‘place outside Himself’ in which to create, as if creation were one thing and He another beside it… with those who say God is separate from nature entirely and not reflected by any form or aspect, so as to avoid idolatry. Are not all speaking with words about things beyond their knowledge, well beyond words or creation itself? Everyone has to say there is mystery, even when saying things about God that they think are important.

            That’s not to say that some Jewish arguments can’t pull apart the call of mystery for good reasons.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Annelise.

            I agree that there are limits to human understanding. For example, it’s impossible for us as humans to wrap our brains around the concept of a realm that is beyond time and space. We say the words, but we can’t really understand eternity or timelessness.

            Still, there must be a rational basis for belief. Otherwise it will be impossible to choose from all the religions out there competing for our attention. Since they all contradict each other on their foundational principles, either only one of them is right or all of them are wrong.

            The only way to find the truth, in addition to praying for clarity and guidance, is to use our God-given common sense and apply our intellect. Once we ascertain which is the true path, we can be more comfortable accepting our unanswered questions. But since our very souls are at stake, we dare not be comfortable accepting a path that makes no sense by justifying it as a mystery.

            Hashem in Tanach is anything but mysterious. He tells it like it is. All we need to do is listen and obey.

          • Annelise says:

            Yes… there have to be rational reasons for trust because while intellect is not the main goal, it is a very important tool we have to use (in its right ways) for faithfulness.

            What I tried to say is that while reasons must override blink and emotionally driven ‘faith’ (which isn’t faith but obsession, even if it may be offered to God still sincerely)… a faith system may, and must, include elements of mystery when it comes to who God is. It’s wrong to claim ‘mystery’ to avoid valid arguments (as Christians do sometimes about this), but otherwise it is not a problem in itself unless the arguments are pressing. I haven’t heard many people give pressing arguments against Christian views of incarnation and trinity, in my life; just a few have articulated them (in my opinion).

        • Dina, these are most important questions to store which I hope to come back to soon, after setting out some groundwork.

    • David says:

      Hi Charles,
      I don’t disagree with your post, just giving another perspective.

      His love for the YHWH, his God and Father exceeded everything. He expressed this love through obedience to God to love and care for God’s creation including pouring himself unto death as God’s instrument of salvation to mankind. Everything he saw from the Father he did; everything he heard from the Father he taught. He dwelt in God’s love because of his obedience to the point that when we see Jesus we see God. Since God so loved the world, so then also does Jesus. Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

      • Dina says:

        Hi David.

        And here is yet another perspective.

        The love of the righteous remnant of Israel for the Lord, our God and Father, exceeds everything. Throughout history we have expressed this love through obedience to God and His law which includes loving and caring for God’s creation, even to the point of pouring ourselves unto death at times as God’s instrument to bring light to the world.

        Everything we learned from the word of God we have tried to do; everything we heard Him tell Moses at Sinai we taught our children. We dwell in God’s love because of our obedience to the point that one day the nations of the world will look at us and see God’s truth. There is no greater love than to lay down our lives rather than betray our loyalty to our Father in heaven.

        Thanks for lending me some of your eloquence, David 🙂 .

    • Dina says:

      Charles, I’m repeating here a question I posted to you on another thread, in case you haven’t seen it. Take your time responding (if you wish to respond at all); I just wanted to make sure you saw the question:

      Do you have a standard of evidence, that if met, would cause you to seriously reconsider your beliefs? Barring, of course, open miracles or direct revelation from God?

      If so, what is that standard, and is it a reasonable and fair one in your estimation?

      I have asked myself this question and thought about it a lot, so I am curious to know what you think.

      Dina

      • Not good at following posts and haven’t seen this before. Email follow ups are clogging my inbox! (now switched on tho’ for this page)
        Short answer, I am constantly reevaluating what I believe and understand, checking its foundations to ensure it’s sound. I was born an atheist not into a Christian family.

        Longer answer, as to precisely, what it would take to change core beliefs – difficult to articulate – strong evidence of inconsistency between the OT and the NT is a most important matter, and one that caused a close friend to lose his faith as I wrote in my first post on this blog. That drove me to the Middle East and drives me to seek answers that many Christians don’t seem too conscious there are even problems to be addressed. On the other hand, and this may surprise you, the level of consistency and compatibility between the Tenach and the NT has long been one of the strongest bulwarks of evidence for me – the extraordinarily manifold and specific fulfillments in predictions, shadows and legal arrangements that find their unexpected perfection in the Lamb!

        • Dina says:

          I like your answers, Charles.

          Forgive me for saying this, but I think that difficulty articulating the kind of evidence you require to change your beliefs might indicate that you haven’t developed a clear position on this yet. So if you want to give this more thought and then get back to me another time, I would love to hear your conclusions.

          My own position is that if I am a sincere truth seeker, I must entertain the possibility, however small, that my beliefs are wrong. I must be able to defend them clearly or reconsider my position.

          You may have deduced from my writings that clarity and simplicity are my best friends. Since the teachings of the Torah on the core foundations of Judaism are so clear and consistent, then my standard of evidence to change my beliefs requires an equally clear and consistent teaching.

          I’ll explain that more fully next week, since I’m running out of time. The Sabbath starts early this week now that Daylight Savings Time is over, and I’ve got lots of preparation to do. I’ll also try to get to your other comment next week. In the meantime, thanks for your second tip on inserting comments into the middle of a thread.

          Enjoy your weekend!

          Dina

          • I will read your replies with interest. Shabbat Shalom.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Charles.

            I’d like to explain my standard of evidence, but first please know that I haven’t forgotten our discussion of patrilineal versus matrilineal descent. I’m delighted that you’ve taken me up on that challenge; you are the first Christian I’ve met, ever, to do so. You’re also the first Christian I’ve met on this blog to disarm me with kindness. It’s absolutely a pleasure to dialogue with you.

            I’m waiting for our printer to be fixed so I can print out that file and study it with pen in hand. I love your quaint and old-fashioned writing style (is that a British thing?) but that means it takes me longer to understand what you’re saying; besides, the argument is, as I’ve said, complicated, and I need to break it down into smaller pieces.

            Now for my standard of evidence:

            The Torah (and when I say “Torah” I really mean the whole Tanach) presents every foundational teaching of Judaism in a manner that is clear, direct, comprehensive, and consistent. “Clear” means that the text is so plain that everyone who reads it, Jew or Christian or whoever, will agree on its meaning. “Direct” means that the context of the passage addresses the issue. “Comprehensive” means that the elements of that teaching form a comprehensive whole. And “consistent” means that Tanach provides corroboration of this teaching throughout.

            Here’s is an example of what I mean:

            I’ll start with comprehensive. Tanach presents a comprehensive teaching about worshipping God. These are the elements that form a whole picture: God is not a man and is incorporeal, God is alone, we are to worship God and God alone, we are to create no physical representation of God.

            The following sources for each of these elements are direct, clear, and consistent:

            1. God is not a man and is incorporeal:

            Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 16:29; Psalms 146:3; Exodus 33:20; Hosea 11:9; Deuteronomy 4:12-16, 23-25

            2. God is alone:

            Deuteronomy 4:35,39; Deuteronomy 6:4; Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 43:10-11; Isaiah 44:6; Hosea 13:4; Isaiah 46:9; Isaiah 45:5-6, 18, 20-22; 1 Chronicles 17:20

            3. We are to worship God and God alone:

            Exodus 34:14; Jeremiah 25:6,7; Deuteronomy 31:16-18;

            4. We are to create no physical representation of God:

            Exodus 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 4:16, 23; Deuteronomy 7:25

            If you examine these verses in context, you will see that they are clear (their plain meaning is indisputable); they are direct (they present a specific teaching about the nature of God and/or whom to worship); they are consistent (corroboration exists for this teaching throughout the corpus of Tanach; I have presented only a sampling); and they are comprehensive (these elements form a complete teaching of God’s nature and the prohibition of idolatry).

            Now I do understand that the standard Christian answer is to point to passages where God manifests physically as a man, bush, cloud, etc. The Jewish answer is manifold:

            1. No one, Jewish or Christian, ever thought to worship these manifestations.
            2. These are mere hints, not a clear teaching. They are extracted from passages the topic of which is not the nature of God or whom to worship.
            3. If God can manifest as a human, bush, or cloud, then all idol worshippers can use this argument to justify their idolatry. Hindus can say that God manifested Himself in Krishna; the ancient Egyptians can say that God manifested Himself in the sun-god, Ra; and so on.
            4. Because these passages seem to contradict the clear, direct, consistent, comprehensive teaching about the nature of God, we understand them to mean something else. Either the Torah is speaking in metaphorical terms or the “man” is actually an angel. Scripture supports this interpretation. See for example Hosea 12:4-5, where he identifies Jacob’s assailant not as God but as an angel.

            So I propose a challenge:

            You try to convince me of the truth of Christian doctrine using my standard of evidence as described above and I try to convince you of the truth of Judaism using your standard of evidence of finding contradictions between our respective scriptures.

            Of course, if you want to hold off until we finish hashing out my original challenge to you, I’ll be more than happy to do that.

            Peace and blessings,
            Dina

          • Honoured to receive this challenge, please let me think about it. Sometimes my expressions are terse, happy to clarify if obscure.

          • Perhaps after my comments elsewhere you have now had second thoughts, and I do not hold you to your gentle offer. However if you still permit, I would like to accept this request. Please remember, I am sometimes intensely busy now, and I cannot promise my undivided attention to this, but I will endeavour to keep a good conscience and address your points honestly and politely, priorities which you also evidently cherish. All I write will be public, and we welcome other helpful contributions. One other thing, like your rabbi, I do not believe it is possible to discern these truths by intellectual debate or discussion alone – these are deep things and only the Spirit can reveal them (Dan 2:22), they need much prayer for wisdom too, however a poorly founded position should become increasingly evident to its possessor. May I also wait till you have thought through the file on matrilineal lineage, though there’s no need for us to focus on that?

          • Dina says:

            Yes, take your time. The matrilineal descent thing needs to wait for my printer to be up and running again. I can’t do it on the computer! But we can focus on whichever challenge you would like to work on first. It is indeed hard to follow several threads at once :).

            I’m not in any rush and whichever discussion you want to have first is fine with me.

            Peace and blessings,
            Dina

          • Dear Dina,
            I want to start off by examining the texts under your second point.
            ‘God is alone’

            You have phrased this well, because the word alone captures the difference between Rambam’s ‘Yochid’ (יָּחִיד) and the Shema’s ‘Echad'(אֶחָד). It crystallises the gulf between the monotheism of rabbinic Judaism and Islam, of a solitary, unrelating Deity, who is also a Deity, One much admired by the Greek philosophers for His absolute transcendence above all human likeness or conception, the Simplex, between that and the God of the Torah.

            So let’s look at the texts you cite, which I’ve arranged chronologically, to discover what they reveal:
            Deuteronomy 4:35,39
            The Lord is One, there is none else beside him.
            Deuteronomy 6:4
            The Shema, the Unity, the One to be worshipped with an undivided and whole heart and being.
            Deuteronomy 32:39
            ‘there is no god with me’. There is but One God, supreme and perfect.
            Isaiah 42:8
            Properly jealous of His unique and absolute glory and His honour over all mere creatures.
            ‘My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.’
            Isaiah 43:10-11
            There was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. There is absolutely no other legitimate object of true worship beside or before Him.
            There is no other efficacious Saviour from sin or any other dire calamity.
            Isaiah 44:6
            The unique King of Israel and its sole Redeemer
            ‘Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.’
            Isaiah 45:5-6, 18, 20-22
            (The last is the glorious text I placed in Arabic in our unit in the Middle East for our Muslim patients to meditate on during their 4 hr visits, and which my old church has blazing over its pulpit.)
            There is none else, there is no God beside me…I am the LORD, and there is none else.
            In contrast to a pagan god, the invention of clever minds, the true God can deliver from sin, and He alone.
            ‘…there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
            Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.’
            Isaiah 46:9
            I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.
            Unique in His absolute claim to admiration and dependence in prayer and salvation.
            Hosea 13:4
            The only true Deliverer from Egypt, the only true Saviour, the only legitimate focus of our adoration and heart’s delight.
            1 Chronicles 17:20
            Israel recounts its astonishing privilege.
            ‘O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee,’

            Beyond all dispute these texts prove there is only One God, and He alone is the Saviour, Redeemer and Deliverer of sinful slaves of Satan. There is noone else Who can deliver from the Pharaoh of this evil world, by whom we are held in bondage, till He frees us.
            Do they prove that this Deity is a solitary, unrelating Being, naive to relationship and mutuality prior to the Creation, sterile in His absolute transcendence of any likeness to mankind? This is the Deity Rambam delineates, very similar indeed to the Deity of Plotinus, Ibn Sina, and Ghazzali, and one utterly foreign to the Tenach, as I hope shortly to demonstrate clearly, directly, consistently and comprehensively. On the contrary the Simplex is itself an idol in the first sense of the word, a false deity, contrived by the imagination.

            I would be grateful for you comments and criticisms on these statements before I move on.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Charles.

            Turns out this is less complicated than I thought, so I have time to respond now. First, I don’t understand your argument about אחד and יחיד and Simplexes and Greek philosophers. It might interest you to know that my Jewish education did not include study of Rambam or Greek philosophy (or even the Talmud, would you believe it). The main concentration was on Tanach, followed by practical application of Jewish law, Hebrew language and grammar, and Jewish history. The only work by Maimonides that I studied was his Eight Chapters. I’m telling you this to show you that I get my ideas about monotheism from Tanach and not Rambam. Certainly not from Greek philosophy which I have never studied.

            Second, thank you for restating my argument because I do need to clarify one thing before you go ahead and provide a clear, direct, consistent, and comprehensive teaching in rebuttal. The comprehensive teaching on idolatry that I presented contains four elements, but you focused on only one: the absolute unity of God, His aloneness, His oneness. These four elements, for which I provided clear, direct, and consistent passages, are as follows:

            1. God is not a man and is incorporeal (having no physical form or likeness).
            2. God is alone.
            3. We are to worship God and God alone.
            4. We are to create no physical representation of God.

            This represents one comprehensive teaching on monotheism. In order to rebut this, you would need to find verses that clearly state that God is a man and has a physical form or image, God is not alone (i.e., He shares His space with Jesus), we are to worship God through Jesus, it is permissible to create physical representations of God. Furthermore, the context of these passages must indicate that the subject under discussion is the nature of God and/or a teaching on worship. Finally, these types of in-context, clear, direct passages must be corroborated throughout Tanach.

            No hints, please! If a verse I cited says “God is not a man” then you would need to find a verse that says “God is a man.” To rebut that God shares His glory with no other, there is no savior beside Him, you would need a verse that states that God shares His glory with his physically begotten son who is now the savior-in-chief. And so on.

            In the meantime, as part of my side of the challenge, I would need to show how the teachings of Tanach are inconsistent with a particular Christian doctrine. Is there a particular doctrine you would like to present for me to apply your standard of evidence to?

            Thanks so much for taking the time!

            Peace and blessings,
            Dina

          • I here post my assertions about the nature of Divine Unity in Torah. At Dina’s request, I have laboured to make them as clear and direct as I can, and I will seek to address her 4 points comprehensively, you may judge their consistency. To save space I have posted them on the links at the end of this post. I’m sorry but I shall reply slowly, and probably not at all to inconsequential sophisms. It will also take a little time to study.

            Two prior notes are necessary, first I will update this file to address later criticism and comment, so please save a copy now if you think I am likely to shift my ground, for transparency I shall post each copy of the edits and their dates at the bottom of the page.

            Second, this is an intensely serious and important matter, there is none more serious and it would be wholly improper for the sake of the readers not to fence this post with a balcony of warning (De 22:8), these are not at all matters for jesting or careless, thoughtless responses. By all means challenge or exhort or rebuke me, but please guard a careful reverence in this most sacred of subjects, for the Name’s sake.

            The response is here as a webpage and here as a pdffile.

            I hope to move on next to Dina’s important fourth challenge, ‘We are to create no physical representation of God.’

            God bless,

            Charles

          • Dina says:

            Charles, here is my response. I’m not sure if the link works. This is the first time I’ve tried to post a document online. But it’s just too long to post here.

            Let me know if you have trouble opening it and I’ll try something else.

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/185046284/For-Charles-on-Monotheism?secret_password=1pigi0znsbt8wot9gwac

            In the meantime, my printer is up and running. I printed out your matrilineal descent argument and I’m working on it.

          • cpsoper says:

            Thanks Dina for your care and efforts in replying, I can read it clearly but not now. I have always intended to address you four points separately, one by one. Have been working on no.4. I think we both recognise the limits of these dialogues as well as the benefits, and clearer mutual understanding is an important start. If I can I will reply, but I do have have a lot on now, and it’s not unknown for me to fall asleep still studying.

          • Thanks. Three quick points.
            First, may I clarify something especially important?
            I realise rabbinic theology is very cautious to the point of being somewhat superstitious (compared to the Tenach’s usage) about the sacred Name, and you may not feel free to reply. Hayah is a triply weak verb, Gesenius, my Hebrew grammar, refers to it as peh guttaral and lamed guttaral. I have given my own tentative thoughts on the meaning and significance of the most important Name here. I don’t understand your reference to the plain infinitive as a Qal, which it obviously is. The Name clearly isn’t just Qal 3.m.s., i.e. ‘He is’. I’d be grateful for your making your critique of my Hebrew grammar in the piece on Rambam’s Yochid a little more clear – I respect you have vastly greater understanding of Hebrew as living language than I, and I’m naturally very cautious about using a German grammar, esp one written by an unbeliever, but haven’t yet sourced a better one (Davidson and Brown Driver Briggs both rely on Gesenius).
            Two, I think you have rather concrete views of Deity to jump to the conclusions you have, exactly the kind of anthropomorphisms Rambam quite properly dismissed. His root problem is a massive overreaction, as I believe I have begun to demonstrate.
            Three, since we are all focussed on avoiding idolatry at present, did you realise you have, inadvertently no doubt, provided 4 strong arguments for the obligation to worship angels in your reply? Do I need to innumerate these? Your premises lead to conclusions that would very quickly violate the first commandment.
            I see the page ‘has failed’ to address what I see as your selective use of one family texts to support a distorted and philosophical view of the Godhead. One of us, or perhaps to some extent both, sees without perceiving, & hears without understanding. That should make neither party content till they see more clearly why.
            I’ve made minor updates to the files and posted the
            old and new as promised
            . Next I hope to work on your fourth challenge, working in order of significance not your chronology, but I also crave a little more patience.

          • Dina says:

            Take your time, Charles. I appreciate your thoughtful and carefully considered responses. I too will need some time, as I have been rather more than usually busy this week.

          • Dina says:

            Charles, if you are agreeable, I would like to wait until you’ve responded to all four points before I present my counterargument, however long it takes (I am not in any rush). Thanks!

          • Dina, I shall post them as I complete them, you’re welcome to respond early or together as you see best, and either way I shall read them carefully.
            Thanks for your patience, it is much appreciated, esp given that we strongly disagree about these vital matters, which makes patience more difficult. I have left your other replies unanswered simply from time constraints, not for want of replying, I’m sorry about that.

          • Dina says:

            Charles, it’s easy to have patience with someone who disagrees so courteously!

          • Dina says:

            Hi Charles.

            I know I said I’d wait until you finished before responding, but I did just want to say one quick thing about the Hebrew grammar of the verb להיות. And it is that, forgive me for saying this, but I do not understand what you are talking about. Hebrew grammar is very simple. It’s made up of simple rules; there are a lot of them, but they are not hard to grasp. I am relying on my high school grammar here, so maybe I’m wrong. But I also speak Hebrew–I mean modern Hebrew–which for the most part relies on the same grammar (some rules have been changed to fit modern speech).

            So when I see the phrase אהיה אשר אהיה, I see a verb in בנין קל that simply means “I shall be as I shall be.” That’s all. I don’t want to get sidetracked, which is why I’m dealing with this here and now, instead of waiting until you finish writing your entire rebuttal. It’s a side point, and as far as I’m concerned, not really relevant to the challenge. But I did just want to say that I guess I don’t understand Gesenius at all.

            Thanks,
            Dina

          • Thanks Dina, but the question is not primarily about אֶהְיֶה but about that to which it is the key – namely the Sacred Name. It plainly doesn’t mean just ‘He is’ or even ‘He will be’ in Hebrew. That would not have prompted Moses to anticipate the question of Israel ask What is His Name or rather מַה-שְּׁמוֹ? Is it in Kal, in Piel or is it perhaps, as many others have proposed, including some Jewish writers, in Hiphil? I appreciate Hiphil is not a standard verb form for To Be, whereas Piel is, and anticipating what a Hiphil form would look like is not easy for a verb which is composed of two gutterals and yod (triply weak). Again, you may choose not to answer this most important question, given the sensitivities of dealing with the Name, which is why I have not spelt it here. Haven’t even begun to read other comments, let alone get round to composing more detailed responses yet – sorry have been v busy – but they are high on my heart and in my thoughts.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Charles.

            There is a lot more to it than that, but like I said in an earlier comment, I don’t want to get sidetracked from the main issue we are discussing. Also, I know too little about this topic to discuss it intelligently. But if you want a lesson in Hebrew grammar, I can provide that.

            The infinitive להיות is clearly in בנין קל. I will talk only about this verb in its typical usage, since that is what I know. This verb is the passive “to be” in English, so it cannot be an action verb as in פיעל or a causative verb as in הפעיל. The form of this verb in the infinitive is exactly the same as a typical verb in this construction, such as לשמור. It is only conjugated differently because the root of this verb contains two אותיות גרוניות, the letter ה twice. That’s all I know, and this is based purely on my memory of the Hebrew grammar I learned in high school some twenty years ago. I may well be wrong. I am not a scholar by any means but just a layperson.

            And although I speak Hebrew fairly fluently, it’s not my native tongue. If I hadn’t had Hebrew speakers to converse with since high school I would barely remember it. As it is, I’m beginning to get rusty!

            Hope that helps,
            Dina

          • Dina says:

            Charles, I will try to read all of this and respond some time this week. Thank you for taking this so seriously and taking the time to think this through and post these documents online. I haven’t read all of it; like I said I only read the introduction, which is already very complex. However, I’m going to try to respond using arguments based only on Scripture, as I explained previously, without relying on other traditional Jewish sources such Maimonides, if that’s okay with you.

            I agree with you that these are not “matters for jesting or careless, thoughtless responses,” and I will try to be as serious, respectful, and considerate as you are. Feel free to point out when I fall short of this ideal.

            Thanks again,
            Dina

          • Jim says:

            Dina,

            Thank you for the work you put into this concise answer to Charles. The work you put in here consistently is amazing.

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            Thanks, Jim. And I return the compliment, not out of politeness, but because it’s true.

            I’m getting a huge kick out of your tree analogy. Just goes to show that anyone can prove anything they want from the Torah if they are going to use the method Christian missionaries to prove that Jesus fulfilled whatever prophecies.

  3. Derek says:

    5 And we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment; and we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.(Isaiah 64)

    7 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51)

    3 He was despised, and forsaken of men, a man of pains, and acquainted with disease, and as one from whom men hide their face: he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

    4 Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried; whereas we did esteem him stricken, smitten of G-d, and afflicted.

    5 But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed.

    6 All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way; and HaShem hath made to light on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53)

    32 They shall come and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done it. (Psalm 22)

  4. Jim says:

    David,

    Regarding the link between the Law and the land. You make a significant error, if I may say so. You are mixing up causes.

    The reward is not the purpose for the Law. For example, if I offer my daughter a reward for improving her school work, I am using the reward to motivate her. My purpose is to have her take her time with her school work so that she learns the material. And I want her also to feel her accomplishment. Similarly, God is offering a motivation to Israel to keep His Law. (I am simplifying, of course.) That doesn’t mean the reason He created the Law was for them to get the land.

    On the flip side, the punishments are not the reason you shouldn’t violate the Law either. Punishment can motivate us not to do a crime, but that’s not the real reason not to do it. The reason I shouldn’t kill my neighbor is because he is God’s and made in God’s image. Punishment is a kind of reason, but not the ultimate reason. And it’s not why God commands us not to do certain things.

    With respect,

    Jim

    • David says:

      Hi Jim,

      From my perspective, you also make an error. The promise of the land was NOT made first to Abraham’s descendants. It was made to Abraham and confirmed to Isaac. Nothing was said of the law at the time of the promise of the land. And there was never a promise of the law to anyone. The law was later given as a means to live long in the land so that the land could be kept as a possession forever exclusively by Abraham’s descendants, thus honoring God’s promise to Abraham. The land therefore is not a reward for keeping the law but a means for Abraham’s descendants to keep the land.

      And the law is the means to that end.

  5. Jim says:

    Dina,

    It is no false modesty that makes me say that I am a baby, but I thank you for your kind words.

    The fact is that for 31 years I was a Christian. When I decided to challenge my beliefs, that took some time, and it took some more time to establish to my satisfaction that the Torah must be true. I study Mishlei over the phone with a rabbi once a week, but the rest of my Torah learning is rather limited. I’m now 37, so I’ve made some progress, but really not anything like I would like. I try to keep my focus on those things that apply to me as a ben Noach, but even that I learn much less quickly than I would like. My familiarity with Christianity from my long association with it makes me seem further along than I am, I’m sure.

    It is really you and Yehuda and Rabbi Blumenthal and Annelise–and others I am forgetting–that are doing such great work here. I deeply admire you all.

    Jim

    • Dina says:

      Well, Jim, you do seem very knowledgeable, so I guess you picked up more in your six years of study since you left Christianity than you realize. I am amazed by people who have the courage to make such life-changing decisions when they recognize the truth.

      I grew up Orthodox and was fortunate to receive a rigorous Jewish education which included learning to read and translate the Bible starting in the first grade. I feel blessed that I was able to have that. When I was in my early twenties I began to be troubled by the thought that I was only an observant Jew because I had been raised that way, so I did some research. My first step was to ascertain if the Torah was true; if I could do that then I could examine competing claims in light of the Torah. Once I did that, the rest of my search was pretty easy, and I left off for many years.

      About a year ago, a Christian challenged me on some passages in the Bible, and although I knew he was citing a verse out of context, I didn’t know how to answer him. I got into an e-mail dialogue with him, and with help from Rabbis Skobac and Blumenthal–and especially Rabbi. B.’s blog–I have become more proficient in debating Christians. (Also, I love to argue, so this is a great outlet for me 🙂 ).

      I’m surprised that you’re the same age as I am, only because you sound so much wiser that I thought you must be older :).

  6. Jim says:

    David,

    Regarding “You shall surely die” you are in error. Numbers 26:65 recounts how the generation that left Egypt did not make it to Israel: “For Hashem had said of them, ‘They will surely die in the Wilderness’ and not a man was left of them, except for Caleb son of Jephunneh, and Joshua son of Nun.'” Their deaths are largely not violent, and while they might be premature in that they didn’t get into Israel, it was 40 years of largely natural deaths. Granted that “surely die” here is modified by “in the Wilderness” but since the phrase is used in this manner, it cannot have the limited scope you assign to it.

    Jim

    • Jim says:

      David,

      I should also point out, that it’s largely irrelevant, however, if “surely die” means a violent, premature death. Even if Adam received a reprieve (which isn’t clear inasmuch as he was cutoff from the source of continued life) that doesn’t indicate anything to do with the Messiah, except by your preconceived notions of the verse, born out of your Christianity. For you, it is true that your idea of the Messiah taints the verse. You’d have done better to study the concept in Tanach first, rather than finding verses to fit your (rather than the Tanach’s) definition.

      Jim

      • David says:

        Hi Jim,

        You’re only looking at the final fulfillment, or the final stage of God’s plan (the so called messianic era) and calling everything else non-messianic. We define Messianic differently. I’m looking at the whole course of human history from the beginning and to the return of God’s Eden state of being and calling God’s plan Messianic in nature. Each age, or “administration” or “dispensation” is a step closer to fulfillment of God’s Messianic plan. You’re thinking of Messianic only in terms of an individual the final age (the Messianic age). The first age in God’s plan was the pre-flood, the second was the post flood for example, and there have been more since then and there are more to come.

        Adam failed God and God had a plan in already in place to deal with that. I think Judaism tends to hold there is or was no plan. Gen. 3:15 doesn’t give us the whole plan. It just sets the stage and eludes to the fact that there is a plan.

        Who in your opinion are the children of the serpent and the children of Eve God speaks of?

        I take God’s words which He spoke in the Garden as extremely relevant to us.
        This prophesy which came directly out of the mouth of God came to start its fulfillment in Cain and Able; it then continued through the lines of Cain and Seth and is still continuing in fulfillment with us today and will continue into the future. As I noted earlier it should also be read in the singular as well as the plural.

        • Jim says:

          David,

          It is not my intent to focus on Gen. 3:15. I apologize for leading you to think that was my topic. I should have been more clear. While I do maintain that nothing tells us that it is Messianic, I was using it to illustrate a larger point, two larger points, actually:

          1. Most “Messianic Prophecies” Jesus fulfilled can in no way be identified as such. They are only identified as such after the fact, much as the Horatian does with his tree in my answer to Roman on the “Trinity, Idolatry and Worship” discussion. (A couple things I overlooked: Horace argues from the “fruits of the spirit” and he should call it “the Joshua Tree”. Also, he should ask people if they think it is a task too hard for God to become a tree.) If you were reading the prophecies naturally without an eisegetic bent or an apologetic one, nothing would let you know that it was Messianic in nature. Isaiah 7:14 is a prime example, since the context has nothing to do with the Messiah, and it is quite strange to shoehorn him into the prophecy. To this purpose, Christians never quote the rest of the words of Isaiah in 7:15, which are clearly part of the same message about the child.

          2. The fulfillment of these prophecies are matters of faith. What I mean is: You can’t know if they were fulfilled. Was Jesus born of a virgin? We have no way of knowing. Therefore it can’t be a proof. Your argument that Jesus fulfilled all these Messianic prophecies relies on prior belief. They aren’t proofs.

          One of these is that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but as I’ve pointed out, nobody knew he was born there. So it’s not a proof. He came out of Egypt, right? But nobody knew he went there and came back. They could not observe these events and say that they recognized prophetic fulfillment, even if they had been prophecies.

          Genesis 3:15 is just another one of those. I’m not picking on it specifically but generically. You have no way of knowing that Jesus fulfilled it. Jesus is supposed to have conquered sin and death, but Christians sin and die. You accept without evidence that Jesus fulfilled it and all these other so-called prophecies. These are mere assertions on your part. Not a one of them has been shown to be true.

          With respect,

          Jim

          • David says:

            Hi Jim,

            I never claimed it was that kind of prophesy, the kind that identifies the person of the Messiah.

        • Dina says:

          Hi David.

          Jim made excellent points about Genesis 3:15, so I’m just going to add a small point to once again underscore the fact that you are engaging in mere speculation. If I accept that Adam’s punishment should have been violent death, how do you know how, why, if, and when it was mitigated, delayed, or pardoned? Scripture didn’t record this. It’s your own Christian speculation. One can speculate–and fairly so–that Adam repented.

          Dina

  7. Jim says:

    David,

    Quoting you:

    We know that Jesus is the Messiah NOT exclusively because he was perfectly obedient, but because he fulfilled the prophesies and all that was spoken of God’s plan of salvation starting with Genesis 3:15.

    Jim

    • David says:

      Hi Jim,

      Yes, Jim. What’s your question.

      • Jim says:

        David,

        I was responding to your claim that you never claimed that this was a prophecy by which you could identify the Messiah. In fact you did. That was how the whole topic came up. You say that Jesus is the Messiah, because he fulfilled this (and other) prophecies. Now, you say that this wasn’t “that kind of prophesy”. You contradict yourself, sir.

        Jim

        • David says:

          Hi Jim,

          You seem to be misunderstanding me.

          Jesus is identified as the Messiah not because of Gen. 3:15 although he did have a part in fulfilling it as do or does all of humanity but Jesus in a singular sense, while humanity in a plural sense. However as I’ve stated there are specific prophesies which are used and can be used to identify the Messiah and others which are general. In hindsight we do see that Jesus fulfilled even 3:15, but the emphasis of the verses is not the identification of the Messiah, but rather the revelation of God’s redemptive plan which I call “Messianic” in nature not because of the Messiah himself but because everything in God’s redemptive plan leads to the ages to come which are Messianic.

          Hopefully that clears it up a little.

          • Dina says:

            Just jumping in, David, why should any Jew accept the Christian’s definition of the Messiah when the Bible so clearly tells us who he is and what he will accomplish? When I showed you all the sources, you said to me we’ve exhausted all the arguments (which we hadn’t, since I had not broached this topic with you before) and you decided to end that thread.

            The challenge is here:

            https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/a-conversation-about-isaiah-53/#comment-7210

            And I believe it begins in the sixth paragraph. Good luck!

            The Christian argument about understanding prophecies in hindsight is not only convenient, it doesn’t make sense. What’s the point of a prophecy if it doesn’t clearly predict the future? This convenient argument also ignores Scripture, which clearly shows how prophecy is fulfilled. For example, Samuel predicts that Saul’s kingship will be taken away, and that’s exactly what happens. God tells Abraham he will have a son who will be called Isaac, and that’s exactly what happens. Crystal clear.

            I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. God in the Hebrew Bible tells it like it is. All we need to do is listen and obey.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            We all understand better in hind sight than looking forward. When we are given more information we see meanings in the past which we had not seen. This is true of everything, not just the bible and is not specific to either Judaism or Christianity.

            Looking back we see that Gen. 3:15 started with Cain and Able and continued with Cain’s line and that of Seth, and continues with us today.

          • Dina says:

            The Bible is God’s words to us. God has foresight, not hindsight. God provides prophecies. He tells us what He expects from us very clearly.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            God has the foresight to teach us things through the revelation of hind sight as well as the present and future.

          • Dina says:

            Human hindsight is subjective.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            I’ll agree with you there. Human anything is subjective.

          • Dina says:

            Then you should in fairness not expect me to rely on your subjective human hindsight analysis.

            Thanks,
            Dina

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            I absolutely agree 100%. Check what I say against the bible. Just as I check and reject or accept, not because someone says it but because it’s in the bible or not.

          • Jim says:

            David,

            It still doesn’t answer the initial point I made was that you can’t know he fulfilled it. When you claim he crushed the head of the serpent that is not by any verifiable evidence. You just hold that it’s true by faith, regardless of the lack of evidence.

            Jim

          • David says:

            Hi Jim,

            That’s a good point. And I don’t believe the prophesy is completed yet. It is ongoing in the plural sense as we speak. And it could also be argued that the part of the Messiah in the singular sense is yet to be fulfilled or is only partially fulfilled. The prophesy is too general to be used for identification purposes of the Messiah. We will only know in the singular sense for sure in the ages to come.

            Again, when I say that something is Messianic it doesn’t necessarily mean that it refers to the Messiah himself or is meant to identify the messiah. Sometimes I’m using the term Messianic to refer to anything of God’s redemptive plan which passes through all ages including ours and those before ours and those to come, all of which follow the Garden. Perhaps a better term would be just to call them God’s redemptive plan prophesies and those that specifically identify the Messiah as Messianic to void confusion and as opposed to other non-messianic non-redemptive plan prophesies which are more limited in scope, purpose, and time.

  8. Dina says:

    Hi Charles.

    Finally, after all this time, I have a response to your argument that Jesus can claim the Davidic throne through matrilineal descent.

    I am posting my response here because I have no idea where to find the original thread. You can find my original challenge to you here:

    In my response, I kept your words and inserted my comments in red. You can find it here:

    Before you begin reading, I’d like to make three points. First, I presented an overview of the qualifications for the messiah and the expectations for the messianic age. In response, you seized on a tiny detail and took that into an immensely complicated argumentation. I was hoping to see a more generalized rebuttal.

    Second, your tiny detail relies on the assumption that Luke’s genealogy is through Mary. The text does not mention Mary; your claim hinges on the fact that the words “son of” is missing. Even if you are correct to argue that matrilineal descent works—you are not, but even if you were—there is no indication in the text that the genealogy is Mary’s. Since traditionally only the genealogies of men were transcribed, it’s fair to assume that the genealogy is NOT Mary’s.

    Finally, both genealogies contradict the genealogy listed in 1 Chronicles 3.

    When all is said and done, I’m delighted that you took me up on this challenge. You are the first Christian I’ve spoken to do so.

    Peace and blessings,
    Dina

    • Dina says:

      Charles,

      The conversation is getting unweildy :). In sum, I do not accept your contention that Luke’s genealogy is Mary’s. I do not see anything in the text to support this notion. Your idea that tribal affiliation can be passed through matrilineal descent is based on a misunderstanding of the Hebrew scriptures, mixing up tribal lineage with inheritance rights. This I have clearly shown.

      The genealogy in Luke is 15 generations longer than Matthew’s. Did you know that? If this is Mary’s genealogy, she would have to be several hundred years younger than Joseph.

      Your trying to fit Nathan, who was never crowned king, into all of this is also based on a misunderstanding of the Hebrew scriptures. I am satisfied that I have made this clear as well and am content to let the audience following this conversation decide for themselves where the truth lies.

      Jesus is not qualified, because of his genealogy, to be the Davidic king. He was moreover never anointed as such.

      Now, can you refute the rest of the challenge?

      By the way, knowing how busy you are–too busy to check each new post by Rabbi Blumenthal–I thought you might like to know that he responded to you on The Elephant and the Suit, here:

      https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/facing-scripture/

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to respond on Matrilineal Descent.

      Peace and blessings,
      Dina

      • cpsoper says:

        The conversation is getting unweildy :).
        Agreed (tho’ i before e except after c). Thanks again, I would not have known about YB’s reply without this post.

        In sum, I do not accept your contention that Luke’s genealogy is Mary’s. I do not see anything in the text to support this notion.
        Luke’s narrative focusses even more intensively on Mary, than Matthew’s does on Joseph. That alone should give pause for thought.

        Your idea that tribal affiliation can be passed through matrilineal descent is based on a misunderstanding of the Hebrew scriptures, mixing up tribal lineage with inheritance rights. This I have clearly shown.
        The Hebrew scriptures continually ‘mix up’ or more properly correlate the two – they are fused at the hip.

        The genealogy in Luke is 15 generations longer than Matthew’s. Did you know that? If this is Mary’s genealogy, she would have to be several hundred years younger than Joseph.
        Not at all, look at the divergence of the genealogies of Levi and Judah between the entrance into Egypt and the Exodus, one might equally form such a fallacious conclusion (see below).

        Your trying to fit Nathan, who was never crowned king, into all of this is also based on a misunderstanding of the Hebrew scriptures.
        None of Salathiel’s descendants was crowned – does that disqualify them all?

        He was moreover never anointed as such.
        Isa.61. His anointing was to primary task was to act as a prophet and then priest. His coronation follows. Ps.110.

        Judah
        Pharez
        Hezron
        Ram
        Amminadab
        Nahshon (Aaron’s brother in law, Ex 6:23)

        Levi
        Kohath
        Amram
        Miriam, Aaron, Moses

        Levi
        Jochebed (=Amram)
        Miriam, Aaron, Moses

        The LORD makes poor, and makes rich: He brings low, and lifts up. He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He has sent empty away.

        • Dina says:

          Hi Charles.

          Thanks for correcting my spelling. That’s the only thing in this comment of yours that we can agree on with clarity :).

          If you want to go by the sola scriptura, plain meaning of the text, there is nothing there that suggests that Mary is the daughter of Heli. What should give you pause is that every popular translation writes “son of Heli” and not “daughter of Heli.” If you gave this passage to someone who didn’t know anything about the Bible, and you asked him whose genealogy it provides, what would that someone say?

          Like I said, I think both Rabbi Blumenthal and I have shown your error regarding matrilineal descent. Your Zelophehad story proves our point rather than yours. It’s a non-issue for a male to marry outside his tribe and still retain his inheritance, but it’s a major issue for females. If they marry outside their tribes they lose their inheritance because they can’t pass on their tribal affiliation. This is clear. Otherwise, either men would have to marry within their tribes to keep their inheritance, or women would be allowed to marry outside their tribes and still keep theirs.

          I looked at the genealogies you provided and I don’t see a divergence. Scripture clearly tells us that Amram married his aunt. I don’t see missing generations, or gaps. With Luke, we are talking about FIFTEEN EXTRA GENERATIONS. That’s huge. If each generation is twenty years, we have a gap of THREE HUNDRED YEARS between the two genealogies. Please explain that, Mr. Soper (I have no problem addressing people with titles and in fact insist my children address adults by their proper titles. If Jesus forbade that then he was adding on to the Torah, which forbids adding or subtracting to its laws).

          As for Nathan, the fact that he was never crowned king is the least of all the problems, as I have shown.

          Your response on anointing shows–forgive me–that you do not understand the term as used in the Hebrew scriptures. A holistic reading of the Bible shows that anointing meant that a prophet or a priest poured a special kind of oil on the object or person to be anointed. Many people and objects are thus anointed in the Bible. Every Jewish king is thus anointed before being proclaimed king. Jesus was neither anointed by a prophet or priest with this special oil, nor was he proclaimed by said prophet or priest as king of the Jews. And that is only the beginning of all of his problems regarding his outrageous claims.

          Peace and blessings,
          Dina

        • Dina says:

          Hi Charles,

          Seeing as how you missed Rabbi B.’s last post addressing your work, I thought you might like to know that he posted another response to you here:

          https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/a-response-to-charles/

          Best,
          Dina

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