Annelise on “Mystery”

Many humans through history have prayed to our ‘Father in   heaven’. Knowing that we are His creation, we stand before Him like servant   before Master and like child before Father. When Jesus prayed, in the same   way, other people could see this communication taking place with their own   eyes: it looked like a conversation from one to another.

Things became complicated when some people believed the coming moshiach   would be the revelation God’s glory, and took their fervour for Jesus to the   point of worshiping him as ‘God incarnate’. Christianity first emerged in the   context of Judaism, which declares that we should only worship our Creator.   Many Christians ever since have defended their beliefs in light of this. They   consider it a heresy to say that there are no distinctions between Jesus and   the Father, because that would ignore the New Testament writings. But it is   also called heretical to say that Jesus was not fully God and fully human, or   to say that there are three creating deities. Nearly all Christians who   worship Jesus consider ‘both persons’ to be ‘one’. Mysteriously one.

Instead of appealing too much to mystery, they actually respect it too   little.

We can’t see into the essence of God. Nothing our eyes can see or our   minds consider is the same as Him. His heart and His actions He reveals to us,   but if we could compare His very self to anything in creation, to any form or   relationship between entities, we’d be looking at created forms rather than at   Him.

That doesn’t mean He’s distant; no, He is very close as our hearts can   know Him intimately and undivided while we perceive more externally His   blessings, including the blessing of existence in which our whole being relies   on Him. But to say there is a relationship ‘within God’ that we can know about   but “never fully understand” is wrong, because that implies that we can partly   probe into His very being. Please know that if you see a conversation between   a man and God you are not seeing ‘into God’s mysterious reality’; you’re just   seeing the worship and devotion that are owed by servant to Master, creation   to Creator.

What the early worshipers of Jesus should have done is not   only try to emphasise the oneness of God as a concept, but also try to   emphasise the caution to worship God alone that we find in the Torah,   especially Deuteronomy, and in the heart of traditional Judaism. Because they   didn’t, we find no record of up-front teaching about this topic in their early   evangelism. If Jesus claimed it people should have been cautious beyond any   doubt, not because of skepticism but because of their faithfulness to God   alone. And if he didn’t, to slowly start assuming so is a slippery thing to   do.

We know that we are small and that God’s ways are beyond our own. What is   the place for logic like this in faith and faithfulness? The important   distinction is based on respect. In respect for God’s greatness, we do not try   to pin Him down to anything we can see in the world. And in respect for the   importance of His truth, while we do not seek intellect as an idol, we must   use it as part of the way in which we hear His truth; His reality, His   commandments.

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72 Responses to Annelise on “Mystery”

  1. Tsvi Jacobson says:

    Very important
    Tsvi

  2. Sheila says:

    Hi Annelise,

    I pray you’re doing well. When you say Torah, what exactly do you mean? Do you mean the first five books of the Bible?

  3. Sheila says:

    To be fair to you, let’s just say after the advent of Jesus.

    • Annelise says:

      Didn’t that happen when the first Temple was destroyed? Why are you saying it happened centuries later? 😉

      • Annelise says:

        Because this is a public blog I just have to point out clearly that the comment above was satirical.

      • Sheila says:

        I beg your pardon but I fail to see what you’re ridiculing.

        • Annelise says:

          I apologise for the vagueness.

          I thought you were telling me that because the sacrificial system stopped in the first century CE, that means that the messiah came shortly before that and the Torah changed in form then. I ask why you don’t believe that happened when the sacrificial system stopped in the sixth century BCE.

          • Sheila says:

            The book of Daniel wasn’t written until many centuries after the Torah as expressed in Deuteronomy or even the first five books. Are you wanting me to believe that God told the Israelites that the sacrificial system which atones for sin would be in place “forever” but then changed His mind?

          • Annelise says:

            No, but I thought that is what you were saying in your second comment here. I’m sorry if I’ve misunderstood you.

  4. Sheila says:

    One more question for now, because it’s getting late here, why do “you” think Messiah didn’t come when Daniel prophesied he would? Take your time I’m closing for the evening.

    • Annelise says:

      When do you think Daniel prophesied the king will be ruling?

      I don’t get what these questions have to do with the blog post here, and the discussion is jumping around a lot; I don’t know what you’re trying to make me change my mind about. But still willing to keep talking with you, thanks for your comments.

      • Sheila says:

        I’m not trying to make you change your mind about anything. I’m looking for answers. If you care to continue our dialog I’ll answer your question tomorrow if you like. My questions stem from your post and how we’re to worship God. I think it’s of the utmost importance to get it right.

  5. Shomer says:

    Shalom Annelise
    I’m sorry but maybe you missed something. The “Lord” never prayed the “Lord’s prayer” himself; it’s just a response to his disciples, it starts with; “When you pray, say this….Our father….” And then, please know that Jews have another “our father” than Christians. The Christian father is only complete along with the son and the holy ghost.

    • Annelise says:

      I wasn’t talking about the ‘Lord’s prayer’ so much as the fact that he did call God ‘Father’. In doing so, he was not out of line in terms of how humans should be speaking to God! But I agree with you that the term as used by trinitarian Christians has taken on a different meaning.

  6. Sophie Saguy says:

    Sacrifices were never the only thing that atoned for sins EVER. In Egypt the Jews couldn’t bring sacrifices, but G-d freed us. The sacrifices which did atone for individual sins only atoned for mistakes — when you tried to do good and failed (cheit) or very minor sins (if you didn’t know if you’d sinned for example — called asham). For those sins that required sacrifices, the fact is that WITHOUT prayer, charity, fasting, etc.., there was no atonement – due to lack of obedience. Even in bringing a sacrifice there were many things that added up in the atonement process. Sacrifice without obedience was useless. Obedience without sacrifice when sacrifice was required and possible, was useless. Obedience without sacrifice when sacrifice was never required or when sacrifice wasn’t possible – was and is sufficient in and of itself, since it’s all that G-d requires when sacrifices cannot be offered (see Hosea 14:2-3, Ezekiel 18/33).

    1Kings 8-33 “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, 34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their fathers.

    Without a Temple we are forbidden from bringing qorban (sacrifices). They are “suspended” during times when there is no Temple standing in Jerusalem [Hosea 3:4-5, 14:2-3]. However, these will be “reinstated” for all the occasions noted in the Torah when the promised Jewish messiah builds the Third Temple in Jerusalem [Ezekiel describes all this in the last nine chapters of his book].

    There is atonement through repentance (II Samuel 12:13-14, Jonah 3:10, Lev. 26:40-42, Ezek. 18:21-32, 33:11-16)
    kindness (Prov. 16:6, Daniel 4:24)
    prayer (Hos. 14:2-3,I Kings 8:46-50, Daniel 9:19)
    removal of idolatry (Is. 27:9)
    punishment (Is. 40:1, Lam. 4:22),
    death (Is. 22:14)
    flour offerings (Lev. 5:11-13)
    money (Ex. 30:15)
    jewelry (Num. 31:50)
    and incense (Num. 17:11-12).

  7. Sophie Saguy says:

    “With what shall I come before the Eternal and bow down before the exalted G-d? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Eternal be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Eternal require of you? ONLY TO DO JUSTICE, AND TO LOVE MERCY, AND TO WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR G-D.” [Micah 6:6-8]

  8. Sophie Saguy says:

    Daniel 9 does not say the messiah had to come 2000 years ago. For proof go no further than the Book of Ezekiel (chapters 40-48) which prophesies in detail a description of the 3rd Temple which the real messiah will build – and which did not exist 2000 years ago (and certainly Jesus never built it – in actually the Temple then standing was destroyed a mere 35 years after Jesus’ supposed death (68 CE) — yet another prophecy Jesus failed to fulfill.

    The thought that the messiah had to come 2000 years ago is based on mistranslating and distorting Daniel 9. Daniel 9 does not speak of “the messiah” — the word “the” doesn’t even appear in Daniel 9 which speaks of TWO messiahs. FYI, the Jewish bible uses the word “messiah” 39 times and yet Christian translations only use the word “messiah” once or twice in Daniel 9 — it is misleading to their readers!

    Daniel 9 was a warning to the Jews returning from Babylonian exile that they could avoid a second exile between to messiahs (anointed ones) — but if they didn’t heed the warning after the second messiah they would be exiled (and they were exiled). . .

    2000 years ago (give or take) there were two messiahs who had been foreseen by Daniel. The first messiah was — Cyrus, who is actually called “G-d’s messiah” in the Jewish bible to give the order to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. From the time this happens the Jews will have a period of time to repent of the sins that caused the Babylonian exile and become good, observant Jews. If they do that then the second messiah will never come. The second messiah is less clear, but there were “anointed ones” who fit the timeline including the high priest Yannai, Agrippa of Rome and Titus of Rome. Daniel 9 doesn’t fit Jesus for many reasons (he was never a messiah, and the dates don’t fit the years Jesus supposedly lived).

  9. Sheila says:

    Hi Annelise,

    You wrote: “They consider it a heresy to say that there are no distinctions between Jesus and the Father, because that would ignore the New Testament writings.”
    That is not so for mainstream Messianic Judaism recognizes the distinctions between the two while acknowledging that they are both “God” within their own right. You’re right, of course, when you say that Messianic Judaism was the outgrowth of the Judaism of the first century but it was the aspect of Judaism which was centered around the advent of Messiah. It’s all about whether Yeshua was or was not the promised Messiah and whether he was who he claimed to be, mainly, the same one the Jews, even before the first century, knew to be the second power in Heaven. I believe Messianic Judaism is the natural and true extention of what we read in Scripture concerning God’s promises of the coming of Messiah during the second temple period. Yeshua is the Messenger of the Covenant that the Jews were expecting and who was spoken of throughout Scripture.

    In the FT (First Testament) there are “two” who are both YHWH, that would be the Father in Heaven and Mal’ak-YHWH (Angel-YHWH) who came to the forefathers and the early Israelites in the form of a Glorified Man. Mal’ak-YHWH wasn’t just any angel but was of the peculiar conjunction in Hebrew of “Angel-Yahweh,” the pairing being inseparable from each other. Rabbi Blumenthal wrote a piece on it and I’ll see if I can find it for you if you’d like. According to Scripture, particularly Ex 33:, this Angel embodies God’s sacred Name and is the express representative of God’s “Presense” or to be exact, His “Face,” in dealing with mankind. That explains Yeshua’s words that, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” He was expressing what we’d already learned before in Scriptures dealing with the Angel-Yahweh.

    ” Nearly all Christians who worship Jesus consider ‘both persons’ to be ‘one’. Mysteriously one.”

    We worship the God of the Bible. The God of Sinai who declared that “the one you entertained on earth is “One” with the one who works from Heaven, who is Spirit.” They are both Named YHWH which can only mean they are both God and were worshipped as such in the FT beginning with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It’s only logical. God never implies that we’re to set aside our brains when reading Scripture.

    “Instead of appealing too much to mystery, they actually respect it too little.”

    It seems to me that those who adhere to Judaism are those who have boxed God in by having Him conform to a narrow ideal of how He should behave. It’s as if you want Him to just keep it simple for to think He would ever do something so profound as to send His own perfect Representative Messiah would be to go against His own nature as if He couldn’t pull off a miracle of such a magnitude as sending a pre-existent Representative to rescue the Jewish nation, and through them, all of mankind. I feel as though you think that for Him to do that would be for him to act in too mysterious a way for you to comprehend. I feel it’s Judaism which limits God and His mysterious ways not Messianic Judaism.

    I didn’t realize my trip for Thanksgiving was already upon me but I’m now scrambling to get packed and make last minute preparations in the next couple of days. Please accept my apologies as I’ll be gone until the day after Thanksgiving. I’ll check in tomorrow evening and then be unavailable for those days. Looking forward to talking with you.

    • Yehuda says:

      Hi Sheila,

      You wrote: “Mal’ak-YHWH wasn’t just any angel but was of the peculiar conjunction in Hebrew of “Angel-Yahweh,” the pairing being inseparable from each other. ”

      Would you say the same holds true when that same peculiar conjunction occurs in Malachi 2:7 ?

      • Sheila says:

        Hi Yehuda (and Sophie),

        I have no problem with mal’ak being translated as “messenger” for that is also what the Angel-YHWH is and he’s said to be the same in Malachi 3. Yeshua was also the messenger giving himself wholely over to the Father to act through him just as we read in all of Scripture.

        Mal 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

        Here we have a messenger (mal’ak) preparing the way for the Lord the people are seeking, he shall “suddenly” come to “his” temple, “even the ‘messenger of the covenant'” who in the Exodus was the Angel of the LORD, “behold he (looking forward to Messiah) shall come.”

        The Angel that the people delighted in is the same who led them through the wilderness and who embodied the presence of the LORD. The same Angel through whom the Father led them in the wilderness and “carried them all the days of old.” The same Angel who was entertained by Abraham in Genesis 18 (and at other times), although the Bible says he was “the LORD.” Was it the LORD or was it the Angel-YHWH? The answer is (mysteriously) “both” not either, or. I realize it’s a difficult concept to digest. It was a real stumbling block the first half dozen times I read it. But, when I finally gave in and decided Scripture says what it says and means what it says the problem dissolved and I determined to just accept it at face value and go on. The further I went into Scripture the more peculiarites I found and I was again faced with the decision to allow logic to win over any notions I had previously entertained. It was difficult to let go and just move forward as I really got stuck for the longest time. It wasn’t until I heard the Father speaking in Scripture that He was doing the things the Angel-YHWH did that I had to pay better attention. When I wanted to investigate whether Yeshua was who he said he was I started on the NT and it all came together and I knew better what it meant for the Father and the Son to be separately, yet equally, God.

        So, yes, all messengers fulfill God’s will but there is only one messenger who embodies God’s Sacred Name and that goes in the might of His presence, that Angel is Angel-YHWH.

        As Jehuda pointed out there is at first reading some ambiguity in Judges 13. Considering previous encounters, though, the two are, nonetheless, melded together once again by the end of the chapter. I submit that by the time of the Judges the children of Israel were well versed in the association of one particular Angel with the LORD in Heaven. The tradition as outlined in the FT up until the time of the prophets is well established by Scripture. It’s the understanding that the two were separate, yet, nonetheless, both God.

        First we have the Angel of the LORD coming to Manoah and his wife in answer to a prayer for children. Judges 13:3-5. Then we have Manoah’s wife telling him of the fearsome man who came to her looking as awesome as the Angel of the LORD. It seems the tradition and reputation of the Angel of the LORD was well known by then. When Manoah offers to feed the man (the Angel) he replies, “”I will stay,”but I will not eat anything. However, you may prepare a burnt offering as a sacrifice to the LORD.” In the translations I use, there is in parenthesis the fact that they still didn’t realize they were entertaining “THE” Angel of the LORD.

        In Jdg. 13:17 Manoah asked the angel of the LORD, “What is your name? For when all this comes true, we want to honor you” to which he replies, 18 “Why do you ask my name” “It is too wonderful for you to understand.”

        We know the names of other angels who come bearing messages and they begin their discourse with something along the lines of, “Thus says the LORD” and we know their names as Michael and Gabriel. We don’t know any other angels other than Satan and now we have one with a Name that is too wonderful to comprehend. I believe I know why. This Angel comes with the Name of YHWH as his own. That makes two who share (for lack of a better word) God’s Sacred Name.

        So, we have this Angel, after the offering, ascending up in the flame of fire from the altar. This to me is reminiscent of the incident with Moses in the burning bush, but that isn’t within the scope right now.
        Anyway, we have Manoah and his wife finally recognizing who it was they were entertaining and they both believe and say that this Man, this Angel was, in fact, God. It appears that the Angel and YHWH are once again melded into one:

        22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.” 24 “And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson.”

        There is in Judges 6 even more profound fusion of the Angel with YHWH. I do need to break for a while here but will certainly check in again before it gets too late.

        Thanks.

      • Yehuda says:

        Sheila,

        We are talking past each other. You have made clear what YOU see in Judges 6 and 13 but that is the point, My point, as Rabbi Blumenthal pointed out is that there is utterly nothing in any of these passages that prevents them from being understood in their simple meaning as angelic/messengers who are utterly distinct and subservient entities to God. Your assertion that the Malakh-YHWH was understood by the time of prophets as inseparable from YHWH, is just that, YOUR assertion. There is nothing in these scriptures that compels that understanding and the fact that these verses without exception always fail to make your point with anything even remotely resembling clarity should give you pause. Your assertion about this well known tradition and the way you proceed to read judges 13 is completely at odds with the actual interaction between Manoah, his wife, and the Angel which suggests that there anything but a clear understanding about a well known Angel of the Lord inseparable from YHWH. 1) The two of them convey no such clear understanding of who they were speaking to; 2) clearly this emissary possessed no such unmistakable appearance; and 3) when they wished to speak with him again they prayed to YHWH to dispatch him again, further evidencing his distinctness from God in their eyes.

        Why – in your understanding did God never make this point clear when these angels appeared?

        Why in the one specific instance of all these supposed OT “theophanies” where something akin to a teaching on worship is offered, the only thing the angel saw fit to teach (Judges 13:16) was this “If you are going to prepare a worship offering, don’t make the mistake of offering it to me, offer it to YHWH”. He – again – failed to take the opportunity to provide even a shred of suggestion of the inseparability you believe exists by saying something like. “Thank you. Your offering to Me is accepted for God and I am one”.

        Their final statement that they have seen ELOHIM is characteristic of the use of that particular term which is often used with spiritual entities other than God and sometimes even with humans. It conveys no such melding as you insist.

        I know you will continue to assert your understanding of these verses, but again, that is not really the point. Here is the point. PROVE to me that judges 13 CANNOT be understood as it’s words simply connote – an interaction with an emissary distinct from and subservient to God, albeit angelic.

        Lastly, you confused my point about Malachi. I am specifically asking you about Malachi 2:7 where the very human priest is referred to as Malakh-YHWH, demonstrating that this peculiar conjunction, as you call it, does not connote inseparability of emissary and sender at all. Please address that.

        Peace.

        • Sheila says:

          I’ll address your points fairly as soon as the holiday is over. I’m just pressed for time right now and can’t give the subject the time it deserves. I wish to remain only civil and not to stir animosity between anyone. In fact we can even move the discussion from here as it’s gotten away from my initial observation made in respect to Annelise’s post.

    • Yehuda says:

      One other question Sheila. In Judges 13:16, an entity identified with that same peculiar conjunction says the following to Manoah:

      “…’Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread; and if thou wilt make ready a burnt-offering, thou must offer it unto the YHWH.’ For Manoah knew not that he was the angel of the LORD.”

      Why does this entity who by your reasoning is inseparable admonish Manoah that any offering he makes should be offered to YHWH rather than to His messenger/Angel? Does this not show you a very important distinction and separability between the two?

      • Indeed, and why does this Mysterious One, (פֶלִאי – an echo of the Mighty God’s title in Isa.9.6?) who declines to reveal His name, ascend on the very flames of the offering, thus identifying with it? Isn’t that for you dangerously close to accepting the sacrifice? Why would an angel want to encourage idolatry, Yehudah?
        Or is this Messenger also distinguished from, yet One with the Father?

        • Yehuda says:

          Charles,

          That the angel ascended on the same flame as the offering constitutes “identifying” with it or “accepting” it is your personal interpretation.

          You’re entitled to it.

          I could – and do – just as easily interpret that action as being indicative of the angel’s subservience to God and being in God’s service accompanying the offering back up to God just as the offering itself was offered in God’s service.

          You’re trying to build a theology on symbolism and metaphor both of which are highly subjective, as I just demonstrated.

          I prefer to stick to what the verses actually say, and what they state is the angel instructing Manoah to offer his offering to YHWH as emphatically distinguished from himself.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Sheila.

      I’m sorry to join the pack in jumping down your throat; pretty soon you’ll find yourself debating four or five people at once! But I can’t restrain myself from commenting on something you wrote.

      You wrote this: “It seems to me that those who adhere to Judaism are those who have boxed God in by having Him conform to a narrow ideal of how He should behave. It’s as if you want Him to just keep it simple for to think He would ever do something so profound as to send His own perfect Representative Messiah would be to go against His own nature as if He couldn’t pull off a miracle of such a magnitude etc.”

      I’d like to point out what I see as the flaws in your logic:

      1. Sure, God can do anything. But why would He? Why would He go against His own word and manifest as a human when he clearly said that we are to worship Him and Him alone, when he clearly said that we must beware greatly for our souls, since we did not see any image or form at Horeb, that we are to make no physical representation of him, that there is no savior beside for Him, that he shares His glory with no one? Your theology would make God into a liar (God forbid!) or a cruel practical joker, misleading His firstborn son Israel.

      Deuteronomy 4:12-16, 23-25; 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; Exodus 34:14; Jeremiah 25:6,7; Deuteronomy 31:16-18; Exodus 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 4:16, 23; Deuteronomy 7:25

      2. If God would manifest as a human or a bush (as in the burning bush) or a cloud (as in the cloud of glory) then please explain why any idolater cannot use this argument to justify his idolatry. The ancient Egyptians could easily have said that their monotheistic sun cult was justifiable because God manifested Himself in the sun. Hindus today can say that God manifested Himself in Krishna, who they believe is an incarnation of the divine.

      You also wrote that you read Hebrew scripture first, so you did not arrive at your conclusions through preconceived notions. I must point out, and forgive me for this, that your personal experience of truth seeking is not proof that you have found the truth. I, too, have had a spiritual journey. I do not use my personal story as proof that I must be right. Moreover, if I am a real truth seeker, I must entertain the possibility, no matter how small, that my cherished beliefs are wrong. Otherwise I cannot grow.

      As it happens, the more I argue with Christians, the greater the clarity I gain in my own faith. But if you could present me with evidence that would clearly prove me wrong, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. And if I decided to maintain my faith, I would admit that it is not based on rational grounds and I would not engage in debate with you after all.

      I do have, in fact, a standard of evidence, that if you could meet it, would satisfy me that my beliefs are in error. It is, in my view, a fair and reasonable standard that does not rely on open miracles or new revelation. Do you have such a standard, Sheila?

      Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving,
      Dina

    • Annelise says:

      Hi Sheila,

      I’m sorry I only saw your comments now… I’ll God willing get back to you after Shabbos.

      Blessings, I hope you have a joyful week!
      xo

      • Annelise says:

        Just quickly, though… you wrote “That is not so for mainstream Messianic Judaism recognizes the distinctions between the two while acknowledging that they are both “God” within their own right.”

        Actually, that’s exactly what I meant. I think a lot of Christians believe that way, and also try not to pin it down to something they can understand.

  10. Sophie Saguy says:

    It’s hard to tell with your transliteration, but the term you are transliterating as Mal’ak is most likely the Hebrew word for angel. The word “malach” translates to messenger — and in the Jewish bible the term is used to speak of human beings as well as heavenly messengers.

    Malachim are messengers which Hashem uses to communicate with and convey messages to us. When you see an instance of a malach speaking as if it were itself Hashem, it is acting as Hashem’s mouthpiece to the person/people it is conveying the message to. What it isn’t is Hashem becoming an angel or a man.

    G-d is not a messenger — He uses messengers, so your concept of that angel is also somehow G-d is incorrect. There is only one G-d (D’varim / Deuteronomy 6:4).

  11. Sheila
    No one believed that the malach (messenger) was an object worthy of worship as Yehuda so clearly pointed out above. All of the theological/Scriptural arguments used to justify devotion to Jesus are products of that devotion and not the other way around
    Read Horace’s tree to help you see how your devotion to Jesus appears to people that don’t share your devotion
    https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/horaces-tree-by-jim/

  12. Sheila says:

    Thanks for that Rabbi Blumenthal,

    I won’t be able to read it thoroughly until after Thanskgiving but I do hope to get to it then. Contrary to your interaction with others of my faith, I didn’t put the cart before the horse. I started at Genesis and got lost in the FT before I ever got to the NT. I didn’t then, and don’t now, take the implications of what I found lightly. I seek the truth of what I’ve found to be true in Scripture before that of all others. I’ve investigated the claims for myself as I didn’t learn them from other people. As many Jews do, I quit our church after confirmation and was clueless as to what my foster parents believed or why. It was only about 7 years ago that I decided to look for God. I figured I could find him in the Bible if He was real.

    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  13. Sophie Saguy says:

    Sheila — did you read the Jewish bible in Hebrew — or did you use a Christian translation which said things like “virgin birth” in Isaiah 7 and “the messiah” in Daniel 9? The mistranslations in the Jewish bible — even the order of the books in those versions — mislead and deceive. Things are also read out of context. You mentioned Malachi 3 — did you read the 6th line in that chapter? “For I, the L-rd, have not changed; and you, the sons of Jacob, have not reached the end.” (Malachi 3:6). He has not changed — and yet you insist that He did and became a man whom you worship. Read a bit further in Malachi 3: “Keep in remembrance the teaching of Moses, My servant-the Torah and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.” (Malachi 3:22). Let’s not forget line 23 “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the L-rd” — this did not happen with Jesus (John the Baptist denied being Elijah, and given that the Christian bible details John’s birth and his parents he was obviously not Elijah).

    Sheila, a messenger relays a message — it is not possible to be both the message giver and the messenger. An angel is not G-d. Over and over again the T’nach makes it clear that G-d is ONE and that He has no body. He has no son (other than figuratively — we are ALL G-d’s children). Further is does not SHARE His glory with any others.

    Remember the first things of old, that I am G-d and there is no other; I am G-d and there is none like Me. Isaiah 46:9

    If there are none like Him then how can Christians insist that one who appeared to be a man, even to the point of being born human, could possibly be G-d? Being a man would make G-d like other humans — something He tells us He is NOT.

    Deuteronomy 32:39, See now that I myself am He! There is no god except Me . .

    This is His name forever.

    This shows clearly that G-d will NEVER be a man.

    And lest you have any doubts left:

    Quote:”I am HaShem; that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another” (Isaiah 42:7).

    G-d is the Supreme Being, and there is none other besides Him! Deuteronomy 4:35

    HaShem, He is G-d in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other! Deuteronomy 4:39

    There is none beside You; neither is there any Rock like our G-d. 1 Samuel 2:2

    You alone, O L-rd, are G-d 2 Kings 19:19

    Before Me no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me. I, even I, am HaShem, and besides Me there is no Savior. Isaiah 43:11

    The Christian bible often calls Jesus “the son of man.” Do you know what the bible tells us about the son of man? “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no salvation!” (Psalm 146:3)

    Time and time again the Christian bible says Jesus is the “son of man.” G-d tells you not to trust him, because in him there is no salvation.

    So to recap:

    1. G-d is not a man

    2. G-d is not a son of man

    3. Do not put your faith in the son of man — there is no salvation

    4. G-d is unchanging He is as He always was and will be

    5. Do not add to or subtract from Torah (Deuteronomy 4) — saying G-d can be a man or a son of man and that He can change into a man at some point in the future

    6. Do not worship any gods (or even practice a form of worship) you did not know at Sinai — and no one at Sinai ever heard of Jesus! Read Devarim 11 and Devarim 13 (Deuteronomy)

  14. Sheila C. says:

    I hope to have some time in the next couple of days to pick up with questions from Yehuda. I’ve not skipped out.

  15. Sheila C. says:

    Yehuda,

    TO ALL OTHERS: There’s no way I can answer to all the various people who have posted but I’ll probably cover some of your remarks in my conversation with Yehuda.

    If we need to we can move the conversation to a blog I practically deserted for a time. Let me know what you prefer before I start typing away here. It might be a pretty lengthy post once I get started. I’ll break it up but I know some of my thoughts are already veering off topic. So, let me know before I begin later today. I could move your post over to the other blog and pick it up from there. Whichever.

    Thanks!

    • Yehuda says:

      Hi Sheila,

      For my purposes, I’m happy to keep it here.

      However, as to your comment about veering off topic, let me see if I can crystalize as succinctly as I can the two specific questions I left you with in an effort to help you keep your response focused. Veering off doesn;t help anybody. So here goes.

      1) Why can’t the exchange in Judges 13 be understood as involving an angel who is a subservient emissary of God rather than as you understand it. Again, I am not asking how you understand the passage.. I am asking what you see as the proof that it can’t be understood my way.

      2) You stated your belief that the formulation “Mal’ak-YHWH” uniquely connotes a oneness between the mal’ak and God. I claim that Malachi 2:7 proves that to be false because that phrase is there used to refer to a human. .

      There you go simple and succinct.

      • Sheila C. says:

        Yehuda,

        The first question is not the hang up, the second one requires a more in depth look at it. But, I’m determined to focus on it and keep it short. I’ll begin this evening.

        Thanks!

  16. Sheila C. says:

    Yehuda,

    I’ve tried to also address some points that others have brought up without explicitly stating what was written by them. It saves a lot of time.

    To answer one of your first questions, I don’t take issue that in the case of Malachi 2 the text can be read as the messenger of YHWH being that of the priest. There’s no proving that it can’t be because it can. What I’d like to point out is that we can’t just do away with the instances and verses where grammar indicates that the two are to be taken as one word to identify a specific person because of a couple where they aren’t. In that verse the object and person spoken of is the priest. The priest isn’t doing any speaking for himself and especially not speaking as the LORD.

    The focus of 1-7 is that of the original covenant. It went from God to Moses to the elders and to the priests. I’m not standing with lead feet on that one verse in Malachi. In fact there are two other instances where the conjunction is not to be confused with “the” Angel of YHWH. On the one hand it can be read simply as the priests being the messengers of the original covenant without looking any further into the implications of it. The verses that better demonstrates a broader understanding is found in the next chapter in Malachi 3:

    Mal 3:1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.

    Yehuda — “Here is the point. PROVE to me that judges 13 CANNOT be understood as it’s words simply connote – an interaction with an emissary distinct from and subservient to God, albeit angelic.”

    We could go back and forth on this one but I’m sincerely interested in looking at it “as it’s words simply connote.” No slight of hand or cards up the sleeve. 🙂

    Concerning Judges 13, I’ll lay it out as efficiently as I can. There was obviously already a well known tradition of a particular Angel being peculiarly different from all others and that he was not an ordinary messenger. Previously, in Judges 2, we have this same Angel speaking in the first person to the people of Israel. The text reads:

    Jdg 2:1 Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? 3 So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” 4 As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept.

    I don’t think Joshua was surprised by meeting this particular Angel again as he’d encountered him before and was in his presence in the wilderness. Although the second encounter with this Angel was when he was introduced to him as the captain of the LORD’s army before the battle of Jericho. He was told the same as Moses; “Take your shoes off for you’re standing on holy ground.” The Angel wields the sword of YHWH. Many texts tell us that the Father says, “I did this” and “I did that..” when we know it’s the Angel who did it. They are at times so thoroughly interchangeable that unless they “are” both YHWH then what’s written can’t possibly be true. On occasion this Angel is separate from God and in other instances he’s indistinguishable from God. Sometimes he’s recognized as God and others not. I believe the Bible was written by inspiration from God.

    Before I get to Judges 13 I want to look at what happens prior to that. In Jud. 6 we have a similar exchange and the Angel is speaking as the LORD. There’s no introduction such as, “Thus says the LORD, or, “This is what the LORD says.” Nothing like that. The Angel just launches into first person language as he did in Jdg. 2 (and many other places in the Torah); he speaks as God. This would have been the perfect opportunity among many for him to say he was there representing God but he doesn’t. He could have said any number of things to alert his audience as to who he “wasn’t.” Judges 6 is one of those hard to initially grasp chapters in that we go from interchangeable back to separate from. The Angel is talking as the LORD, then he’s seemingly separate from and then once more identified as YHWH. If this isn’t deliberate language used then the author really missed the mark. What I understand is that it’s meant to bring to mind the age old tradition beginning with the Patriarch’s that Israel’s God is sometimes seen interacting with mankind on earth. He’s not just a messenger with God’s name he actually is known to be the LORD that is seen of men when he chooses to be. It’s in line with previous encounters and verses that relate the same idea of God. The Angel of the LORD doesn’t just come in the Name of the LORD he embodies the Name of the LORD. His essence is the same as that of the LORD. He is the manifest presence of God and Scripture tells us the same. Where did Gideon get the idea that he would die because he’d seen an angel? No where. It’s seeing God’s face that strikes that fear in people yet there he is shaking in his boots. I don’t mean that there weren’t others who thought the same just that it’s nowhere stated that you will die upon seeing an angel.

    Jdg 6:12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.”

    Jdg 6:13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

    Jdg 6:14 Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

    We have a transition in the space of 2 verses with the Angel speaking first and then it turns into the LORD who (turning to Gideon) is now speaking. Which is it? The author doesn’t seem to be phased by the wording. The tradition was well established by now that the Angel of the LORD was also known to be the visible manifestation of YHWH and that’s why people thought they would die. There’s no other angel that allows people to believe he is YHWH Himself. This Angel is sometimes exchanged for YHWH while in other instances he’s distinquished from YHWH. Can we have it both ways? Apparently the authors of Scripture believed we can and should. Although this doesn’t lead us to a trinity it does rather show the dual aspect of God as seen and not seen as is clearly established beginning with Genesis. The LORD again speaks to Gideon and in the next verse he asks for a sign that he’s not just an ordinary messenger:

    16 And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
    17 And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me.
    18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.”

    The LORD is speaking and He promised to stay put until Gideon prepared his offering. Gideon returns with his sacrifice. 19 “So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them.”

    Now the Angel is in place of YHWH again. 20 “And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so.”

    21 “Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.”

    The offering is accepted by the Angel and then he vanishes. Gideon now comes undone at the realization that it was Mal’ak YHWH that he had just put to the test! 22 “Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.'” Why would anyone be afraid of seeing an angel “face to face?”

    The author then tells us that it is the LORD speaking with him and yet his life is spared. 23 “But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.'” 24 “Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace.”

    Back to Judges 13. I’m going to break it down in order to keep it short. In verse 1-2 we have the introduction to Manoah and his wife. Verse 3, the Angel of the LORD appears with a statement to Monoah’s wife that she’s barren but will conceive a son. Verse 4-5, are instructions concerning the vow of the Nazarite and the promise of redemption from the Philistines. Verse 6: “Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, and verse 7 is a repeat of what was told her earlier. Verse 8-14, Monoah prays that the man would return and he does by showing up in the field where Manoah’s wife is. She runs to her husband and they both come to enquire as to whether or not he was the one who appeared to her. He says he is and goes over the instructions with them again. Verses 15, 16 and 17 are interesting. They offer to prepare a sacrifice to honor the man who came to them. They, as yet, had no idea that he was “the” Angel of the LORD is what it says. Verse 16 “And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.)” I’m left thinking that the Angel knew what was in Manoah’s heart and that Manoah thought he was an ordinary messenger in which case Manoah was mistaken in offering sacrifice to one he thought was an ordinary man. He tells him he won’t eat his food which leads me to believe he wasn’t being impolite or rude he was merely steering him in the right direction. “Offer your sacrifice to the LORD”. 17 “And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?'” 18 “And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is secret?” (or too wonderful to comprehend)

    Why is it that this one Angel has a name that some believe we don’t know from the book of Genesis all the way through to the time of the Judges? Does that strike anyone else as really odd? What’s the big secret? I submit it’s because this Angel’s Name is also YHWH and that’s not something to be glossed over and taken lightly. This Angel possesses God’s Sacred Name! I’ve more to say on that when I pick up on my own blog. Sometime or other…

    Judges 13:19. “So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the LORD, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching 18 And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground. 20 The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD.”

    They now know he was Mal’ak YHWH. Whenever I hear of fire associated with God I can’t help but think back to the other instances of the occurrence, which I believe we’re supposed to do. The text doesn’t say anything like, “The LORD has accepted your offering” instead the Angel steps into the fire from the altar and disappears. Fire goes with Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19:24 and the burning bush of Exd chapter 3-4:17. Pretty lengthy conversation with someone standing in a burning bush unless I’m mistaken about the length of the conversation. 🙂 There’s also Sinai, Judges 6 and now Judges 13. I probably missed a couple. The Angel, YHWH, both God in the burning bush and now the Angel within fire again.

    22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.”

    Very clear language.

    23 But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.”

    As in many other instances of the people involved in these types of exchanges we never hear of anyone being rebuked as though they were mistaken in their identification of who they had just entertained. The precedent of YHWH interacting with the people of Israel began with Abraham to whom He appeared back in Genesis. That’s beyond the scope of our conversation right now but needs to be further explored perhaps another time.

    Isaiah 48:12 says, “Harken unto Me O Jacob and Israel, my called, I am He. I am the first. I also am the last.” “My hand has also laid the foundation of the earth.” This is clearly the creator speaking. We can’t say it was the prophet or Cyrus that is spoken of here. The one being sent is the creator and has the attributes of God, he is the first and the last, his hand laid the foundation of the earth. The one being sent by the Lord GOD is the creator. We have the Lord GOD “and” His Spirit sending someone who is also divine and who is also God:

    “Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The LORD hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. Come near to me, and hear this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, has sent me.” (Isaiah 48:13-16)

    I have a question myself, “How do the Orthodox understand the Holy Spirit?” I am not as clear on that aspect of God. The Scriptures say God is Spirit yet at times He sends the Spirit. How do you understand that?

    There are, of course, more examples of Mal’ak YHWH first person narratives but, again, they’re beyond what I can squeeze into one post.

    • Yehuda says:

      Hi Sheila,

      I thank you for taking the time to construct your response.

      Before I respond I want to take a moment to remind our readers of why I phrased my question about Judges 13 the way I did; specifically asking for “proof” of your interpretation rather than just a restatement of your interpretation.

      This entire discussion about Judges 13 and its extension to other passages in the Tanach involving Angels of God is of far greater urgency to the Christian than it is to the Jew. The Jew has a clear comfortable understanding of how to worship God. We were given that understanding at Mt. Sinai and were repeatedly reminded of and warned about deviating from that understanding. The Christian on the other hand believes that about two thousand years ago a dramatic game changing modification of that understanding took place. As a consequence the Christian, in his or her effort to demonstrate that this new understanding is somehow consistent with the Hebrew Bible embarks on an urgent – indeed desperate – search for some evidence of this understanding in the Tanach. That’s where passages like Judges 6 and 13 and Genesis 18 come into play. And that’s where the Christian has an immense burden of proof. Because if the evidence of Trinitarian doctrine is not clear beyond question in the Tanach than it becomes – by definition – inconsistent with the Sinai revelation and its repeated self-proclaimed doctrine of clarity. This is why I repeatedly asked for your “proof” and not just your reading. Christian apologetics generally acknowledge this burden or they wouldn’t spend so much time trying to make the case.
      First, let’s deal with your answer to my question from Malachi 2. It would appear that you are now acknowledging – albeit very reluctantly and with attempts to move the discussion to other verses – that the phrase “Malach YHWH” in and of itself tells us nothing other than that the entity being described is acting in the service of God. That’s good. This was a red herring in your initial argument and I’m glad we can put it aside. As you yourself noted there are other examples as well. You then leave the point saying that the key to analyzing these passages should be the simple grammatical meaning of the words in question with “No sleight of hand or cards up the sleeve.” I couldn’t agree more and will return to this thought.

      Moving back to the passages in question. You continue to assert that “There was obviously already a well-known tradition of a particular Angel being peculiarly different from all others and that he was not an ordinary messenger.”

      Well I’m sorry to say that the only thing obvious and long standing about this idea is that it has been a long-standing Christian reading of the passages. Your evidence of this assertion seems to fall into three categories.

      1) These entities often speak as God in first person.
      2) Several instances of people fearing death because they had seen these entities
      3) Some of these people saying they “saw God”

      As regards the first line of argument you have not disproven the better interpretation that there was an obvious and long-standing tradition that God dispatches Angelic messengers to communicate with men and at time to perform other duties (e.g. destroy Sodom) Part of that long-standing tradition is that these Angelic messengers are often authorized to speak for God in the first person. (Sometimes this Malach-YHWH uses an introduction such as So sayeth the Lord (Zehc. 3:6-7) and other times does not ) At one point in your post your say the following” This Angel is sometimes exchanged for YHWH while in other instances he’s distinguished from YHWH. Can we have it both ways? Apparently the authors of Scripture believed we can and should. Although this doesn’t lead us to a trinity it does rather show the dual aspect of God as seen and not seen as is clearly established beginning with Genesis. No it doesn’t. This is the key flaw in your reasoning. You insist that passages are telling us something about Gods “dual’ (and not triple) nature while I insist that they are telling us something about God’s messengers and no more. It’s really as simple as that and you have not disproven it. Rabbi Blumenthal treats this topic at more length in Contra-Brown but I don’t think more length is needed here. At one point in your response you actually suggest that burden of explanatory teaching rests on the Jewish perspective. You wrote with regard to Judges 2” This would have been the perfect opportunity among many for him to say he was there representing God but he doesn’t. Well, that’s only if we circularly presuppose that the appearance of these angels suggested what you believe it suggests. My position is that it does not and never did. The long-standing tradition was one about Angels not about God and they were not confused for each other, thus no teaching was required. As I pointed out earlier there is one solitary place in all of this where something akin to a teaching occurs and that it is Judges 13:16 where the Angel rebuffs Manoah’s offer to prepare a meal for him and instead instructs Manoah not to focus on the entity standing before him but to make an offering to YHWH. You speak of the simple meaning of the words. Well, what did that mean and teach. Your attempt to address this critical verse was as follows:

      “I’m left thinking that the Angel knew what was in Manoah’s heart and that Manoah thought he was an ordinary messenger in which case Manoah was mistaken in offering sacrifice to one he thought was an ordinary man. He tells him he won’t eat his food which leads me to believe he wasn’t being impolite or rude he was merely steering him in the right direction. “Offer your sacrifice to the LORD”. Then in your haste to move away from that passage you proceed to discuss verse 17 and the angles mysterious name.

      How can you speak about simple scriptural clarity and failed opportunities to teach and miss the simple point of that verse? I note how you twice said things like “I think” and “this leads me to believe” Well the precisely correct it’s what you think and not what the verse says. How could the Angel, by your reckoning fail to take that opportunity – where the very question of a worship offering was at hand – to clarify that he is one and the same as God rather than again amplify what by your reckoning what Manoah’s confusion about his status, by telling him to sacrifice to YHWH in the third person as distinguished from himself.

      And as for you ruminations about the mysterious name. You talk about cards up the sleeve. The verse offers absolutely no further explanation on the topic. Everything else is simply what you “submit”. Is the verse somewhat mysterious? Yes. But you place a truckload of theological import on that mystery without so much as a syllable of corroboration in the verse.

      Moving to the question about why these people feared for their lives when seeing these entities. Let me ask you a question. God did in fact make a definitive unequivocal statement to Moses in Exodus 33:20 “’Thou canst not see My face, for man shall not see Me and live.’ God didn’t lie. This rule has no exceptions granted not even for Moses the greatest of all prophets. The Jew in the time of the book of Judges knew this. They also knew the story of Jacob wrestling with the Angel, they also knew of the scriptures of Joshua and his meeting with what by your reckoning was THE angel of Lord and they knew that each of these people survived the encounter. Why then did this fear persist even for Gideon and Manoah? The answer is that it was indeed well known that no can actually see God is his true essence and live NO EXCEPTIONS. God himself made that clear that even Moses would be no exception. And that itself was evidence that NONE of the patriarchs, nor, Moses, nor Joshua had ever actually seen God. But it also demonstrated to them that lesser revelations such as those of Angels were cause for similar fears although some very great people managed to survive these encounters. In fact such fears were attributed merely to hearing God’s voice as in Exodus 20:15. What gave them THAT idea? The much better explanation is that while they knew that seeing God himself was unsurvivable they also knew that other supernatural revelations generated similar fears because the precise limits of these metaphysics were and remain unclear.

      Lastly you asked about Manoah’s declaration that he had seen God. I answered this previously but I will answer it again. He doesn’t say when have seen YHWH. He says we have seen ELOHIM. As you know this word is used in Tanach to refer to God as well as other entities of great power including Angels and humans. This is perfectly consistent with my explanation of what they feared above.

      Lastly, going back again to your theme of sticking to the simple meaning of words. There is one more point which is so critical to this discussion and yet it is rarely addressed. And that is. What does the word “MALACH” means? You talk about deliberate word choices in scripture but don’t address this exceedingly deliberate choice of word in all of these passages. It means “messenger” or “emissary”. It is a word that refers to one who dispatched in the service of another and is frequently used in Tanach for human messengers and emissaries. It refers to someone whose authority is completely subordinate to the sender. It refers to one who has no permanent standing in his representative role. Does this not give you any pause? Can you not think of a variety of other words the author of scripture might have used to describe what we know refer to by the confusing English word “Angel” if the idea was to connote an entity interchangeable with God? I can. But no. These verses say “messenger of God”. What worse choice could the author scripture have used to connote the inseparable oneness you believe is there?

      • Sheila C. says:

        Hi Yehuda,

        I hope to pick up with our conversation next week. You’ve made some good points which deserve a more in depth look. I’ve several points to bring up yet as well. Looking forward to our further dialog.

        Sheila

      • Sheila says:

        Hi Jehuda,

        I’m going to post what I found on the conjuntion, Angel-YHWH. It comes from a Hebrew speaking author of the book, “Who Ate Lunch With Abraham?”

        “There is a grammatical form in both biblical and modern Hebrew called “s’michut”—. The s’michut form is a Hebrew grammatical structure. The word “s’michut” means to put two things closely together, so that they touch one another. This grammatical form is made up of two words put together. S’michut joins two nouns so that they define one another mutually and become one unit together. To take an example from English, you might find something similar in such paired nouns as: ball game, door knob, piano stool, etc. In English the first noun turns into an adjective describing the second noun. Ball game is a game not a ball; the ball describes what kind of game it is. Let’s call this form “paired nouns.” The paired nouns in Hebrew are similar but slightly different. The first difference is that the order is reversed: the second noun describes the first. The meanings of the two nouns merge together. They become virtually one word, or similar to a hyphenated word, like the word ball-game, door-knob, piano-stool. The merging of the two is also emphasized because the vowels of the first word become shortened, so that the two words are spoken together in a single rhythmic pattern. A parallel might be b’ll-game, d’r-knob, p’no-stool. The paired nouns may be used either in a generic sense or to identify a proper noun. It might be any ball game, but it also might refer to a specific game, like “super-bowl” or “world-cup.” Making the paired nouns into a specific name instead of a common noun is done by inserting the syllable “ha” (meaning “the”) before the second noun, or by making the second noun a proper name. A parallel might be ball-the-game or “game-Wimbeldon.” Why is this technical detail so important? Because in the expression “the angel of the Lord,” the “s’michut” form is always used. The Hebrew does not say “the angel of the Lord” but “angel-Yehovah”—. The two words are joined together. The words “of” and “the” are NOT found in the original. In addition, in the angel-Yehovah paired noun, the second noun, Yehovah, is a proper name. From this construct we come to two conclusions: 1.   Angel and Yehovah are joined into one unit. 2.   Angel Yehovah is a proper name, not a generic noun. [A similar analysis of the s’michut form of the name “angel-Yehovah” was published as early as 1881 by Alexander McCaul in his book, Angel of the Covenant (reprinted by Keren Ahavah, Jerusalem, 2004).] Taking these two points a step further: 1. It is impossible to separate the meaning of Angel from the meaning of Yehovah and vice versa. They are one and the same. The Angel is Yehovah, and Yehovah is the Angel. 2. This is not a category which can apply to any of the other angels who come from Yehovah, but rather the proper name of a specific Angel called Yehovah. The word Angel merges together with the proper name Yehovah. It might be better translated as Angel-YHVH, Yahweh-Angel, or Yehovah Angel. All those options would be acceptable. For our study in this book, from this point forward, we will use the name “Angel-Yehovah.” (Again, for a discussion of Yahweh versus Yehovah, see Appendix #3.) In order to simplify the point: The paired-noun grammatical form makes the expression “Angel of the Lord” to be 1) proper, and 2) merged. 1) Proper—While it could be argued that Angel-Yehovah is any one of a number of angels sent from God, the grammatical form points to it being a proper noun. It is THE Angel-Yehovah, not ANY angel from Yehovah. I do not know of even one example in the entire Hebrew Bible in which the term Angel-Yehovah is in “s’michut” form, where the context demands that it is referring to a generic angel, or one of a group of angels. 2) Merged—The two nouns, Angel and Yehovah, modify one another. This is not a “ball” and a “game” but a “ball-game.” It is a “ball”—type of game. This is not just an angel, but a Yehovah-type angel. The two terms cannot be separated from one another. The nature of this angel is determined by the name Yehovah. Angel and Yehovah are paired noun partners. This grammatical structure fits perfectly the description of the figure that appeared to our prophets and patriarchs. The “s’michut” is so unusual and so fitting and so perfect, that I cannot escape the impression that this grammatical form was sovereignly predestined and planned by God for the primary purpose of describing this one Person in the Hebrew Bible. It is a unique grammatical form to define a unique individual. There is no one else like Him. A special grammatical construct was needed to be able to name Him. No man fits that category; no angel fits that category; even God our Heavenly Father does not fit that category.”

        Intrater, Asher (2011-11-16). Who Ate Lunch with Abraham (Kindle Locations 710-731). Intermedia Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

        Intrater, Asher (2011-11-16). Who Ate Lunch with Abraham (Kindle Locations 683-710). Intermedia Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

        I hope to pick up with our conversation soon.

        • Yehuda says:

          Hi Sheila,

          I’m surprised to see you continue pushing the “Malakh YHWH” issue, since you yourself acknowledged that it does not connote what you and this author say it does, as per Malachi 2:7 and Haggai 1:13 (I believe Rabbi Blumenthal inadvertently mistyped the citations) . Why don’t you contact Mr. Intrater and ask him if he would apply his thesis to those two instances?

          More generally, his thesis, is pardon the expression, nonsense. I have no problem with his analogies to the English phrases he quotes. In fact those very analogies should help you see why the argument in fallacious. Let’s take “Piano Stool” for example. You are absolutely correct that a “piano stool” is not just any stool but a special kind of stool used with a piano. But it doesn’t make the stool one and the same as the piano per se. It’s a kind of stool. What kind of stool? A stool used with a piano. Similarly “Malakh” means messenger as I discussed previously. “Malach YHWH” is a specific kind of messenger. What kind of messenger, a messenger of YHWH. And it need only be translated as . he absence of the connecting word “of” in the Hebrew means nothing. If you spoke or read biblical Hebrew you would know that. This is a common Hebrew contract where the modifying “of” is presumed. I have one for you. In Joshua 1:1 Moses is referred to as the “servant of YHWH”. But wait. There’s no “of” in that phrase it just says “Eved (servant) YHWH. Should the “smichut” construct tell us that in this case the servant and YHWH are somehow one.

          Sheila, the “Malakh YHWH” argument is bunk as it has been disproven from at least two different angles.

          I look forward to your comments on my other points. It might be useful if you limited your comments to your own thoughts rather than pasting messianic polemics about a language you do not read.

          • Sheila says:

            Hi Jehuda,

            I told you in an earlier post that I would look up where it was I read about the conjunction and that’s what I did. I had left it hanging and didn’t want to do that. That’s why I posted it. No, I don’t speak Hebrew, I’m just now learning the “aleph-bet.” I knew which verses Rabbi Blumenthal meant.

          • Dina says:

            Sheila, please forgive me for saying this, but this is a silly argument. Malach Hashem means “Hashem’s messenger” just like “chalon Dina” means “Dina’s window.”

            I caution non-Hebrew speakers to stay away from such argumentation because they invariably get it wrong.

            Stick to arguments you can defend. There is plenty of ground to cover without getting stuck in the nitty-gritty of Hebrew grammar.

          • Sheila says:

            Right. I had no intention of going any further with it. I brought it up weeks ago and never followed through. It has nothing to do with any future correspondence, but thanks for the heads up.

          • Sheila says:

            Hi Jehuda,

            Once again the holidays have caught up with me and I won’t be able to reply until after Christmas. Sorry to put you off. Talk to you then.

            Sheila

  17. Sheila
    Whoever wrote this missed Haggai 2:13 and Malachi 2:8

  18. Sheila says:

    Sorry about misspelling your name, Yehuda!

  19. Sheila says:

    Sorry about the long pause but I had no time for myself for weeks! I intend to make time this weekend and will collect my thoughts and post them then.

    Thanks!

  20. Sheila says:

    Hi Yehuda,

    You opened your response with a statement of how I failed to offer what you deem as proof concerning the appearances of Angel-YHWH in the few verses we discussed, namely Judges 6 and 13 and Gen. 18, although nothing was said of the latter and there’s many others we never even touched upon. You ask for what I deem as proof while offering none. The two verses you pointed out have nothing to do with the Angel-YHWH. The context of the two is not even close. Let’s briefly look again at the two verses with the ordinary messenger in them.

    Hag 1:13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, spoke the LORD’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the LORD.”

    It doesn’t read anything like the situations we see the Angel-YHWH in. We have the speaker qualifying the words with, “says the LORD.” Haggai spoke the LORD’s message, he didn’t speak as the LORD Himself.

    We already discussed Malachi 2:7. “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.”

    In this verse we don’t have the messenger speaking as YHWH either, neither do we have him as being deliberately interchangeable with Him. It’s a simple statement of the instance in which angel is used as referring to someone other than an angelic being. This is not in the same vein as the Angel-YHWH at all.

    Let’s use the example of the “Rose Bowl.” You would have us believe that because you found the word “rose” and “bowl” in the same sentence therefore there is no such thing as a “Rose Bowl.” Do you see the obvious flaw in that?

    When I broke it down in a previous post, it’s obvious the author painted a picture of YHWH as being seen in the person who bears His Name, hence His manifest Presence was with the Israelites He interacted with, just as He told Moses that “He” (His Presence–His Name) would go with them and bring them into the promised land. There was never any urgency for me to have the texts say anything other than what they do. I didn’t read the Bible after I became a Christian, I became a Christian after I read the Bible. Apparently that’s unusual and I’m beginning to appreciate just how unique it is. Regardless, there was nothing that made me doubt what I’d read perhaps because I didn’t know the implications of it when I first began. I had to reconcile the Israelites experience at Mt. Sinai just as all serious Bible students do. I had to seriously reason it out. I went back to the beginning and re-read everything a dozen times. It’s not something I take lightly nor do I make a blanket statement I learned from someone else. I don’t do debates for a living and I rarely use the language of them either when conversing with others. The conversation all too often becomes nothing more than the squaring off between the two concerning who uses the language of the art of debate better than the other.

    You wrote: “The Jew has a clear comfortable understanding of how to worship God. We were given that understanding at Mt. Sinai and were repeatedly reminded of and warned about deviating from that understanding. The Christian on the other hand believes that about two thousand years ago a dramatic game changing modification of that understanding took place.”

    Actually, the modification wasn’t drastic at all considering all the evidence that preceeded it. Your use of emotionally charged language when describing the Christians appeal to others is overstated. That the clear language of Scripture would make anyone uncomfortable should only cause them to examine what it is that illicits that response.

    Unqualified language is sometimes used by me for the purpose of having a more casual conversation. Words like, “I think” and “It seems to me” are part of a realistic dialog without the constraints of a debate. Words paint a picture for everyone and to expound on what we think is the natural outcome of that process. What you think is what you relate to others without using that catch phrase to your disadvantage, it’s all the same. How we interpret the verses is according to the word picture painted for us by the various authors. Put it all together without bias and proper exegesis should naturally follow.

    But let me be clear then. There is time and again deliberate melding of the Angel with YHWH. The authors weren’t always concerned that they specifically delineate between the two because, point of fact, they were acting in concert as one. As I said, they could have easily distinquished the two if that was their intent. It wasn’t. The Angel-YHWH who worked on earth was one with God who works in heaven and the authors of the Bible knew that. There’s no problem with arriving at the correct interpretation except when one is uncomfortable with the truth of Scripture.

    So, we have a figure who is described at times as a man and others as an Angel who is known to possess God’s Name; YHWH. “For my Name is in him.” If “YHWH” is “in him” what does that mean? Is YHWH at any time less than God? He’s not an ordinary messenger by any means. There is no other messenger in the Bible who possesses God’s Sacred Name. There’s no other messenger who tells someone to take their shoes off because they’re standing on sacred ground. That happened twice. There’s no other messenger who we can even remotely deem to be deliberately interchanged with God by the respective authors. I don’t know who you’re alluding to thinking they’re going to die when they see an ordinary messenger other than Angel-YHWH. We have to acknowledge that there are other elohim according to Scripture, yes, but YHWH, God of gods, is ontologically unique and there is no problem affirming monotheism if we keep that in mind.

    God need not conform to our idea of Him. It’s easier to fashion in our minds something more palatable and that doesn’t stretch our personal idea of how God should behave. It’s perfectly acceptable to realize that the Patriarch’s knew God differently than the congregation coming out of Egypt and gathered at Sinai. There was a whole lot of interaction between YHWH and the Patriarchs that transpired long before the Israelites were brought out of Egypt. We can’t just leave that out of the equation. We can’t just start and end at the foot of Mt. Sinai, we have to start at the beginning of Genesis and work our way through. This personal interaction continues through the time of the Judges and then we see Him moving away from personal contact with them as He said He would “hide His Face from them” and He did. His presence is literally His “face.” The Angel-YHWH embodied God’s manifest presence in His earliest interaction with the Israelites.

    The narrative continues after the life of Jacob after close to 500 years when it picks up with Moses experiencing God in the burning bush.

    Exodus, chapter 3, reinforces the tradition of God as being seen by way of the Angel-YHWH. When we break it down it becomes evident that Moses has just become privy to that revelation.

    In verse 1 we find Moses tending sheep by the mountain, Horeb.
    Verse 2 states that “the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush…”
    3: Moses turns aside to see why the bush is not consumed by the fire.
    4: “when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush…”

    Notice how the writer transitions us from the Angel to YHWH to God calling “out of the midst of the bush.” Same exact language as verse 2. The Angel appears, YHWH sees, God calls, all in the same revelation “out of the midst of the bush.”

    Exactly “who” is doing the talking? If the writer had meant for us to only invision YHWH as present than there’s no need for the Angel to even be there, but he is. Moses is looking at him until God tells him 5: “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6: “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

    We hear the phrase, “Take your sandals off for you are standing on holy ground” repeated by the Angel who appears to Joshua before the battle of Jericho. YHWH is not said to present the second time, it’s only the Angel.

    He says he is “the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew in what way God would appear to them when He wanted to be seen. It was no secret to them and they passed it on to their descendants who became the elders who were the ones to keep the tradition alive. God tells Moses to go to the elders and they will believe that He appeared to him. After well over 400 years enslaved with a people who worshipped idols on a massive scale, most were inundated with the trappings of idolatry and many were gone astray. Hence the need to stress upon them that during God’s visitation on Mt. Sinai, “collectively”, they saw no form as a congregation, however; the elders and Moses all “saw the God of Israel” right there on the very same mountain at the same time. They dined with Him. Scripture says they ate and drank in His presence and He did not harm any of them.

    Exd 24:9 “Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. 11 But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.”

    The language is perfectly clear with no ambiguity. God was visible to them. That is contrary to what the rest of the congregation saw. Standing before Mt. Sinai they saw no form but immediately afterwards Moses and the elders did. While it doesn’t say they looked upon His face it’s obvious He had a body which they all saw. The tradition hadn’t changed, the circumstances did. It was necessary to break the Israelites of idolatry immediately after bringing them out of Egypt. They were thoroughly entrenched in it while living there. They would want to fashion a representation of God for themselves with their own hands. Egypt was replete with idolatry of which we still see the remnants of today carved out of stone and that’s what they had experienced generation after generation. That’s why only 72-74? of the elders with Moses, “saw the God of Israel” on Mt. Sinai. The others would have reverted to what they knew; people made gods carved by themselves. They fashioned a representation based on what they’d learned in Egypt by fashioning the calf of gold while Moses was communing with God on the mountain. They were not privy to what the elders and Moses experienced. “They saw God” but the congregation saw nothing but fire, they only heard a voice.

    We know “Someone” handed Moses the Commandments written on stone and Scripture says it was the LORD who handed them to him and that He was the one who wrote them. He didn’t write them once, He wrote them twice. Why should I read those verses differently than how they’re written?

    Exd 24:12 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.”
    Exd 31:18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
    Exd 32:15 And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written. 16 Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets.
    Deu 4:13 So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.
    Deu 10:1 At that time the LORD said to me, Hew two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to me into the mount, and make you an ark of wood.
    Deu 10:2 And I will write on the tablets the words that were in the first tablets which you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.
    Deu 10:3 And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tablets of stone like the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tablets in my hand.
    Deu 10:4 And he wrote on the tablets, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them to me.

    The Angel says he is the God of Bethel

    Gen 31:10-13 10 And it happened, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams which leaped upon the flocks were streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted.

    11 Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12 And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you.

    13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.’ ”

    (Gen 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
    Gen 28:18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.)

    Gen 35:1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”
    Gen 35:6 So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. 7 And he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother…
    9 Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” So He called his name Israel. 11 Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. 12 The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.”
    Gen 35:13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.

    Gen 48: 14 Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:
    “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
    The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
    16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
    bless the lads;

    The writer is relating what Jacob knows to be true in a matter of factly way, making no distinction between God and the Angel in Gen. 48. In Gen. 31:11-13 Jacob clearly sees someone who is indentified as the Angel of God and then we have this same Angel telling Jacob that he is “the God of Bethel….” Gen. 35:1 reminds me of Gen. 19 where we have “YHWH raining down fire from YHWH in heaven.” This time we have God commanding Jacob to make an altar dedicated “to God” “who appeared to him when he fled from Esau.” Deliberate language, divinely inspired by God.

    The tradition of YHWH as being sometimes seen by men wasn’t a problem for the Patriarchs. They knew God as He revealed Himself to them. He revealed Himself at times as embodied in someone they could both see and hear. This someone was not just any messenger or any man and the Patriarchs together with the early Israelites knew this.

    • Yehuda says:

      Hi Sheila,

      Thank you for taking the time to convey your latest lengthy entry in our exchange. I apologize for not having seen it sooner since I have not been frequenting the blog as often as I was a little while back. I also note that in the interim, Rabbi Blumenthal has logged a couple of posts at least partially directed at your interpretation of the “Angel of the Lord”. You should read these as they are important. In any event, I’ve read your response and have outlined my own counter-response, but rather than post that just yet, I’d like to focus on a point you make in your response which I think is really at the heart of our exchange and which I think entitles me to first ask you a some clarifying questions.

      You took exception to the following comment I made in my last post which read as follows:

      “The Jew has a clear comfortable understanding of how to worship God. We were given that understanding at Mt. Sinai and were repeatedly reminded of and warned about deviating from that understanding. The Christian on the other hand believes that about two thousand years ago a dramatic game changing modification of that understanding took place.”

      To this you responded that I was “overstating” the case, using “emotionally charged language”, and that “…Actually, the modification wasn’t drastic at all considering all the evidence that preceded it.”

      Really?

      Now this really gets to the heart of the matter because as I hope you know, the position of the Jew, and of the Torah, is that if a doctrine is presented that is not clearly consistent with the confines of the Tanach, then it does not earn a hearing. This test of consistency applies as much to Christianity as it does to Hinduism. That, by the way, is why I continue to claim that you, not I, have the burden of proof. It’s not my requirement. It’s the Torah’s requirement. You may not accept that assertion but that’s a separate discussion.

      So if I understand you, your basic premise is that the many times where the patriarchs and others seemingly “saw” an entity that seems to be presented as, and who sometimes speaks as, God in the first person, is evidence of God manifesting as a physical being and as such these episodes provide the christological evidence to which you refer. And so I’d like you to be more specific about exactly how you see these scriptural episodes as plainly teaching the doctrines of Christianity. If, as you say, the teachings of Christianity were not at all that dramatic a departure from what preceded them, then I believe I am entitled to ask you the following:

      1) Was the entity encountered by Jacob in his dreams (both with the ladder and his later dream) the father, the son, or the holy spirit and where specifically does the episode in question teach this?

      2) Was the entity at the burning bush the father, the son, or the holy spirit and where specifically does the episode in question teach this?

      3) Was the entity encountered by Joshua the father, the son, or the holy spirit and where specifically does the episode in question teach this?

      4) Was the entity seen by the elders at Sinai (the one who had the saphire under his feet) the father, the son, or the holy spirit and where specifically does the episode in question teach this?

      5) Was the entity encountered by Manoah and his wife (and entity you seem to have lost interest in discussing) the father, the son, or the holy spirit and where specifically does the episode in question teach this?

      6) If I’ve missed any of the episodes you may have mentioned, please apply the same questions to them.

      7) If all of these episodes need to be viewed in the aggregate in order to teach about the trinity please explain how they do so?

      With your answers to these legitimate questions, we can then pursue my broader to your points in a more direct way and avoid meandering around the scripture.

      Thanks again for your time

      Y.

      • Sheila says:

        Hi Yehuda, (Rabbi Blumenthal and Dina)

        Thank you Rabbi Blumenthal and Dina for your thoughts. I apologize for having missed the last posts! Perhaps I didn’t check the box below for notifications. I can’t possibly engage in conversation with 3 different people as time just doesn’t allow it. I will try to incorporate some of your points together with my answer to Yehuda.

        Yehuda, I’ll make some time within the week to answer your questions. I do feel you’ve set up a false dichotomy in the wording of your questions. I will set that aside and answer forthrightly, and we can go from there.

        Thanks!

        Sheila

        • Yehuda says:

          Hi Sheila,

          Thanks for responding. I would like to ask a favor. It it is not too much trouble could you limit your post to me to only those thoughts that pertain to responding to me? I realize you may see interrelationships between the posts and if you want to refer me to a post addressed to others that’s fine too. But I would find it very helpful for our purposes if you could keep your response to me limited to me. If you don;t think that is possible, I will manage as well. 🙂

          Thanks.

          Y

      • Sheila says:

        Hi Yehuda,

        Sorry for the delay, I got bogged down for a bit. To pick it up here, I’ve left off what I’d been working on for now and have greatly simplified things. As I said, the first of your questions, perhaps inadvertently, set up a false dichotomy. Seeing as we’re looking only at the Tanach we’re dealing strictly with those texts that define who the Angel is. I would have to answer that as we encounter him in the Tanach, he is none of those.

        He’s definitely not the Holy Spirit. He’s not the Father and he is nowhere called a Son. In the Tanach, we know him only as YHWH.

        It’s question number 7 that I’ve been working on as I’m sure you realize that to exegete all the particulars in the aggregate is not a subject that lends itself to a superficial rendering. However, nothing less than what you’ve suggested will suffice to bring us to the truth of why I believe as I do. I’m glad to answer why I found that the teachings in the NT were not at all that great a departure from those in the Tanach. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to edit and condense it often where I can. 🙂

        I’ll probably be slow in responding as Spring is a very busy season for me.

        Thanks so much for your patience!

        • Yehuda says:

          Hi Sheila,

          No problem.

          A few points along the way, though.

          You acknowledge then that the episodes I mentioned in my post, and which YOU initially identified as important, can not – at least not in isolation – be viewed as teaching the trinity. While you are contemplating your further response, then, please take the time to tell me whether the people who experienced them were in possession of a clear teaching of the trinity. More simply did each of Jacob, Moses, Aron, the 70 elders, or Joshua know of the trinity? And if you believe that for any of them the answer is yes, please point me to the scripture(s) describing events revealed by their their lifetime, that taught them this.

          (BTW, are you still including Manoah’s Angel among those you consider interchangeable with the creator of the universe? Please clarify)

          As for your preference to focus on my 7th question, I would ask that you not simply repeat your lengthy post that preceded my seven questions. As I mentioned previously I am prepared to respond to that prior post fully. My seven questions were intended as a prelude to that in the event you were willing to justify your belief that the Tanach teaches to the trinity on the basis of any of those episodes which YOU identified as being so critical to that belief. Since you do not believe those episodes teach of a father, son, and holy spirit, then by my reasoning you cannot make the claim that the teachings of christianity are not a dramatic departure from the Tanach. My seventh question was intended to simply offer you the opportunity to combine THOSE episodes in part or full to show how THEY teach the trinity. But if your intention in responding to my seventh question is to merely rehash in different words your overall scriptural view as expressed in the post that preceded my “7 question post” I believe you have already done that and we can proceed with my response to that. Let me know. Of course you are free to post as much as you like.

          Also be aware that with the Passover Holiday approaching I am not likely to post any responses until after that.

          All the best

          Y.

          • Sheila says:

            Hi Yehuda,

            No, they were not “in possession of a full teaching of the trinity.” I liken it to Abraham being ignorant of the greatly expanded covenant which included the giving of the laws at Mt. Sinai.

            Yes, I will include the reasoning behind why I believe the two YHWH’s are both God.

            —“Since you do not believe those episodes teach of a father, son, and holy spirit, then by my reasoning you cannot make the claim that the teachings of christianity are not a dramatic departure from the Tanach.”

            I believe once I expound on what was my revelatory experience based wholely on Scripture you’ll understand the claim I make is a valid one. I hope to bring a fresh perspective to our discussion as opposed to rehashing the well worn replies that we’re both more than familiar with. If you’ll allow me that luxury I think we’ll both come to enjoy, and better appreciate, another way of seeing things.

            Wishing you a blessed and enriching Passover Holiday,

            Sheila

  21. Sheila
    While we wait for Yehuda’s response – here are some thoughts to consider.
    It seems that you read the Bible with an attempt to discover what you can about God’s nature – if an incarnation is possible or not. But that is not the discussion – The discussion is about worship. where to direct your heart. That is what the teaching of Sinai was about – and there is no passage in Scripture which would lead us in a different direction. Our hearts are to be devoted to the One who is above and beyond all nature and to whom all of finite existence is subject.
    You argue that God didn’t show himself to the Israelites in a form so that they should not fashion an idol – why then would you believe that this problem is not relevant now? The prophets saw the Messianic era as a time in which all idolatry will be eradicated (Isaiah 2:18) – This gives us to understand that idolatry will be a problem right up until the ultimate redemption – which has not yet occurred according to Isaiah. people are still selling their hearts to other aspects of finite existence – such as to the character in a book which sounds to them mysterious and righteous and promises to forgive their sins. – The entire thrust of the Bible is to warn us against this type of worship – not to encourage it.

    • Dina says:

      May I add, Sheila, that there is a huge difference between the way Jews and Christians approach Hebrew scripture. We study our scripture to learn what God demands of us, to learn how to be obedient to God. You study it to find Jesus, to shore up your faith.

      I challenge you to try to read Hebrew scripture the way a Jew would, putting aside all your notions of salvation and so on.

      Best wishes,
      Dina

      P.S. I’d also like to add Blasater’s challenge to Paul:

      “Where in Tanakh does it say that the Jews will learn from the Gentile’s because they have truth?

      Nowhere: Just the opposite, Jer 16:19 O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit….
      21 Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The Lord….Hashem!……..(Not Jesus)” [See also Zechariah 8:23]

  22. Sheila says:

    Hi Dina,

    You wrote: “…there is a huge difference between the way Jews and Christians approach Hebrew scripture. We study our scripture to learn what God demands of us, to learn how to be obedient to God. You study it to find Jesus, to shore up your faith.

    “I challenge you to try to read Hebrew scripture the way a Jew would, putting aside all your notions of salvation and so on.”

    Perhaps you missed the statement I made in a previous post. I wasn’t a Christian when I began reading the Bible. Let me very briefly explain to you how it came about. I watched a documentary on the History Channel about the Bible Codes. Because they were found using the Tanach I ordered one thinking I could possibly learn enough to spy some out. It was the JPS version in Hebrew and English but I got very frustrated because I kept turning the page the wrong way, so I dusted off the Bible I had and started reading in the book of Genesis. I never did find any codes, of course, but I did find myself unable to put it down. I wasn’t long into reading it that I began to think that if God really did exist I should be able to find Him just by reading it, otherwise it wasn’t really inspired by God at all and I could leave off my search. After running back and forth a half a dozen times eventually I worked my way through the First Testament with much anticipation. It wasn’t until I reached the end of it that I turned the page.

    You made a very telling statement. You read the Bible as a Jew. Right there you show yourself to be biased from the beginning.

    It was a unique situation that allowed me the years it took to study it all by myself as I had broken my back in a car wreck and was stuck in a metal brace for 10 months, consequently I had lots and lots of time on my hands. 🙂

    None of us should read the Scriptures as either Jew or Gentile. I didn’t even know I was a Gentile at the time. The word of God is self sufficient for all people under God’s heaven who are honestly looking to find Him. I did.

    Thanks, shalom.

    • Dina says:

      Sheila, the Torah was given to Jews. Jews are its target audience.

      Thank you.

      • Sheila says:

        Yes, Dina, I understand. Honestly, at one point, I was beginning to feel disheartened by it all until I came to the prophesy stating that one day the Gentiles would come to enjoy the blessings of the Messianic age together with God’s chosen people! That alone enabled me to continue. God is truly gracious!

        I owe a dept of gratitude to you and your ancestors for faithfully preserving the word of God for all mankind. Thank you!

        Have a blessed Passover Holiday,

        Sheila

        • Dina says:

          Sheila, the point is that you must therefore try to understand the Jewish scriptures from the Jewish perspective and at least listen closely to the testimony of the those whom God chose to be His witness.

          Peace and blessings,
          Dina

      • LarryB says:

        Dina
        Would you expand on that. I’m not sure how to say this, but in g-d choosing a people/nation and teaching them with the intent for them to be a nation of priests among the nations. What does that mean? Everyone can read the bible and come to some sort of understanding for themselves. But is there a teaching in scripture where it tells us who to turn to for understanding when there is disagreement? Some how I do not believe it was meant for anyone to come to any conclusion. Does that make sense?

        • Dina says:

          Larry, Isaiah calls our mission to be a light to the gentiles, so, yes, the Jewish people testifies to the truth of God and His Torah by clinging to Him and observing His commandments. And it therefore makes the most sense for anyone searching for the truth to try to understand our Scripture through the traditional Jewish perspective,

          Hope that helps,
          Dina

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            Thanks, I agree with that, but I am looking for something more direct. Along with The teaching that Mt Sinai is to be a one time event, in Deut. 32:7 Moses tells the people WHO to listen to. “Think back on the days of old, think over the years, down the ages. Question your father, let him explain to you, your elders, and let them tell you”. He is not just talking with the people of his time “think over the years” he seems to be talking to people in the future “down the ages”. Since J was not around, was not expected, the teaching at the time did not include any of the NT gosples. The only ones Moses could have been pointing to “think back to the days of old” was the people and their teaching at that time. So, when their is doubt, when there is questions, when you might be looking for the truth, this is where to look.

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            If I am looking at Deut 32:7 correctly, are there any scripture even more direct?

          • Dina says:

            Larry, I have to take a break for Passover. Will try to get back to you after. Thanks for your patience!

          • Dina says:

            Hi Larry,

            Can you explain to me again what you are looking for? Thanks!

            Blessings,
            Dina

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