Childishly Easy – An Open Response to Charles
This article is in response to Charles Soper’s comments:
You define the “watershed” between us as a debate about God’s nature. Your assessment has no basis in reality. At no point in the Bible is idolatry defined as an incorrect belief about God’s nature. Idolatry is not about beliefs, it is about worship.
The Bible is very clear when it comes to worship. The Bible reports that God did not rely on a book to teach His people who it is that they ought to worship. The Bible also reports that God did not rely on a prophet to teach His people who it is that they ought to worship. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God did not rely on these two mediums (the book and the prophet) to teach His people who it is that they ought not to worship.
The Bible reports that God imparted this lesson to Israel Himself. The Bible also reports that God appointed the living people of Israel to pass on this central message to the future generations of His covenant nation.
The teaching that God imparted to our ancestors, as our ancestors preserved that teaching and as the Bible affirms, does not allow us to direct our hearts toward one who walked God’s earth and breathed His air. The teaching that God imparted to us makes no exceptions. No “belief” can redefine an act of idolatry.
It is that simple.
P.S. – I have taken the trouble to articulate my beliefs. Please read what I have written on this subject in order to learn what I believe. Do not quote books to which I attribute no authority (such as Jewish Encyclopedia) assuming that they describe my beliefs.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
Yup, it’s childishly easy. You don’t need to understand Greek philosophy or use polysyllables to explain it.
Thanks. I know Michael Brown(MB) agreed with you about this distinction between worship and belief, but it’s a mistake to enlarge the distinction into a separation.
The Messiah said to a Samaritan enquirer, ‘Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.’ There is a distinction between belief and worship, it is possible to worship in ignorance, but it’s dangerous and may be wrong.
The Apostle to the Gentiles also challenged the wordsmiths of Athens very simply, (4 syllables max), ‘For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown God’. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.’ Real worship doesn’t require perfect knowledge, but true worship is defined by accurate belief. It matters what we believe, wrong worship is often described as idolatrous – even if it doesn’t involve an image. Belief is the conceptual form of the One we adore. Faith is sight of the invisible. Rabbinic Jews and Muslims often claim Messianic Jews and Christians are idolators – do they not? Is the charge, even if well founded, only illegitimate when reversed?
I am genuinely curious to read the claim that ‘The Bible reports that God did not rely on a book to teach His people who it is that they ought to worship.’ This is not my understanding at all: faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word. To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them. Correct faith is not primarily a mystical and direct experience, which might well be dangerously illusory, it is validated and tested by conformity to God’s revelation.
I’m sorry if I offended you or others by quoting the Enc. Judaica, I knew well that the liberal contributor would not represent you, as the context of his quote shows, and I did not intend to convey the impression these were your views. However the fact is it would be a very strange and improper to say even in a Roman Catholic or unbelieving liberal encyclopaedia of Christianity or Islam for that matter (despite their manifold respective idolatries) – and it is reported that in some kabbalistic circles what the writer describes is true of some ‘mainstream’ Jews, namely a blurring of the absolute distinction between The Almighty and His creatures. This is just what one might expect for teachers who believe that the Memra, the Angel of the Lord was created, and that the Council of Creation included angels. I understand Sefer Raziel, from the Geonim, for example, includes invocations of angels – again I respect you abhor this concept as much as I do, but can you not see it is a logical corollary of what you believe? What too of the Sabbath greeting, ‘Peace be unto you, Malachai HaSharet, Angels of the Most High’ or the common bedtime prayer “To my right Michael and to my left Gabriel, in front of me Uriel and behind me Raphael, and over my head God’s Shekhinah” Dangerously close to prayers are they not?
Finally, there is an important distinction between comprehension and knowledge, not sufficiently observed in your dialogue with MB. It also applies in human matters, I think know my wife quite well… The Divine, a fortiori.
In all good conscience, I hold that the watershed between us is exactly as claimed – the true nature of God, ‘He who has the Son, has the Father, he who has not the Son has not the Father…’
Sorry, my inbox is bursting, I shall not follow this posting too by email notifications, but I will try to catch up with your response.
It is not I who distinguishes between worship and belief, it is the word of God in His holy Bible that makes the distinction and the separation. Throughout the Bible idolatry is never described as a mistaken belief but as a worship that is misdirected.
The idolatry charge against Christians is not because of their belief but because of their misdirected worship of one who walked God’s earth and breathed God’s air.
You are genuinely curious concerning my claim that it was God Himself who taught Israel who to worship and He did not use the medium of a book or a prophet. Read Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 4 and 5 to satisfy your curiosity.
You still insist on your version of the “watershed” that separates us. I will not take it up with you at this point since you seem to be ignorant of the Bible’s record of how it is that God taught Israel who it is and who it is not that they ought to be worshiping.
So please answer this question – what was the purpose of the national revelation at Sinai according to your understanding of Scripture? And how was the impact of this revelation supposed to be preserved in the heart of Israel according to your understanding of Scripture?
Sorry for the delay.
I understand the distinction you’re making, between misdirection and false doctrine, but I don’t see its validation.
Perhaps to make this clearer you could provide some examples of situations where these is no false doctrine but misdirected worship, or no misdirected worship but a fundamental false doctrine of God? I can think of none in scripture except where the defect in belief is small.
My curiosity lies not in what happened at Sinai, but in what happens now. How can modern day rabbinic Jews claim they have an infallible and safe guide to God, outside of the scripture. Traditions and oral law seem highly dangerous guides when the scripure a/ warns to use it only as the measuring stick (Ps.19.7-14, Isa.8.20) b/ warn us that other measuring sticks may be hazardous (Isa 29:13).
My very brief answer to your question to ground the revelation of scripture. I’m being called away.
Your reply underscores the weakness of your position. Your selective reading of Scripture is obviously flawed to all but yourself. The reason I asked you the question I did in my previous comment was to help you see through the cloud of your confusion and read what God actually wrote in His book and not what you would like to see – please go back and answer my question. Thank you.
So I will try to answer your question more fully, now I have a little time spare. However I’d be grateful for an attempt to answer mine.
What was the purpose of the national revelation at Sinai according to your understanding of Scripture? To safeguard and ground Divine revelation into the hands of its keepers, the Jewish nation.
And how was the impact of this revelation supposed to be preserved in the heart of Israel according to your understanding of Scripture?
By scripture – of course the traditions, the festivals, the sacrifices, the Tabernacle, the priesthood – all of these carried vital life or death lessons on holiness and atonement. However when all of them were stripped away or corrupted the acid test of truth remains God’s own written word.
My questions again are:
1/ Perhaps to make this clearer you could provide some examples of situations where these is no false doctrine but misdirected worship, or no misdirected worship but a fundamental false doctrine of God? I can think of none in scripture except where the defect in the understanding of God is small? If you can provide no examples, what validity is there to the force of the distinction you’re trying to forge?
2/ How can modern day rabbinic Jews claim they have an infallible and safe guide to God, outside of the holy scriptures? What secure basis is there for that assertion?
May I press you on this?
Charles, Jewish people believe in the written Torah (the first five books) Which were only given after the Exodus event, but they also believe in an oral transmission alongside or together with it. When rabbi B says G-d taught Israel without a book, he likely means pre mosaic tradition given by Abraham to his family. As for no form ascribed to G-d, the opinion is better expressed as no mediation. You just need G-d, not G-d plus. Not Moses, not Joshua, not David, everyone, including non Jews has direct access to G-d.
Con, when Rabbi B. says that God taught Israel without a book, he means what the Torah itself testifies. Before the Torah was ever written, God revealed Himself to the Jewish nation and Sinai and taught them Whom and how to worship. Furthermore, Moses transmitted God’s laws to the people of Israel before he transcribed them. How many times does the Torah say that Moses spoke to the Children of Israel, followed by a list of laws? Quite a few!
I appreciate your concern to speak on my behalf and attempt to explain my position to Charles but you have demonstrated that you did not begin to understand my position.
When I speak of God teaching Israel without a book or prophet – I am NOT speaking about a pre-Mosaic tradition that goes back to Abraham. I am speaking about the Sinai revelation itself which was God’s lesson to Israel for the explicit purpose of teaching them who it is that they ought to worship and who it is that they ought not to worship. The Bible records that God taught this to Israel directly without the medium of book or prophet – Exodus 20:2,3,19,20; Deuteronomy 4:9-15,35; 5:6,7.
See also Deuteronomy 4:9 where God designates the living transmission of parent to son to preserve this teaching – not a book, but rather a living nation.
Furthermore, when I speak of “no form ascribed to God” I am talking about worship. That we worship the One who is above and beyond all nature and not anyone or anything that can be represented by a form that exists within nature. – Deuteronomy 4:15; Isaiah 40:18.
– At this point I want to point something out to you
It is clear to me and it should be clear to you that you have failed to understand one of my core arguments – despite the fact that I repeated it many times in our conversations over the past several months and that it is the central argument in many articles on this blog. this tells me that you are not hearing me. It seems that you already “know” what I am going to say and my words will do nothing to change your opinion on my position. It seems that Charles suffers from the same problem.
I think that this is a serious problem – and I want you to address it so that we can have a meaningful and fruitful conversation.
Its not that I’m not not hearing, rabbi, its just the argument isn’t as clear to grasp, I’m not trying to ignore it, or cast it off out of hand, I promise you.
Rabbi, I am looking over the argument very carefully, I promise.
It’s a deadly error to believe God can be accessed without mediation – our God is a consuming fire.
Without a worthy priest and sacrifice, we perish.
Charles, can you find support in the Hebrew Bible for your assertion that “it’s a deadly error to believe God can be accessed without mediation”?
1 Kings 8:46-51
If guilt, sorrow and acknowledgement of wrong is required, then jesus,his blood and suffering seem useless. Can I repent better than a jesus,who according to you, doesn’t experience guilt after sin? Isn’t my repentance more important than any sacrifice? jesus nailing himself or slicing himself is an act which helped control gods anger, what does it do for one who felt guilty after he/she sinned? Shouldn’t the suffering caused on the real victim trump jesus temporary “sacrifice”?
All these texts refer to God approached via sacrifice and a mediating priest – Ps.50.5, as symbolised by the now missing Temple 1 KI.8.29,30,33,38,42.
That God in His absolute and unmediated Presence is a devouring fire of Holiness, see Deut.5.5, Exod.20.18-21, Exod.19.24, Exod.32.33, Exod. 33.20, Deut.9.19-20, Deut.11.28 (1 Ki.8.46), and even Moses’ mediation needed mediation itself, Exod.32.13-14, Deut.32.50-51, as the patriarchs also had before him. Job.19.25, Gen.48.16, Gen.15.17 (see Jer.34.18b),Gen.22.8. This bringing in a better covenant alone was what satisfied Daniel’s prayer when he understood that the Jerusalem Temple would be utterly destroyed, Dan.9.24, only afterwards to be desolated.
“All these texts refer to God approached via sacrifice and a mediating priest – Ps.50.5,”
pagans thought that thier gods required the sacrifice of thier new born children. isn’t a child sacrifice a better fit for jesus’ temporary “sacrifice”? isn’t a child sacrifice a HARDER/difficult sacrifice than animal sacrifice? can you tell me why pagan gods required hurtful/difficult/hard sacrifices?
HaShem too has required human sacrifice – even though in the most famous instance He halted the act before its completion.
Why should hardness be a gauge of lawfulness rather than the Law itself?
Hashem has never required human sacrifice. You missed the lesson of “the most famous instance.” It was to teach that Hashem does not require human sacrifice! In contradistinction to the culture at the time–so this was a radical departure from the norm. When has God ever required human sacrifice? Back this up with Scriptural support, please.
God dwells in the consuming fire but he also dwells with the broken heart – Isaiah 57:15; 66:2; Psalm 51;19 – no mediator.
I looked up your references and found most of them to be completely irrelevant to our discussion. Forgive me, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but they seemed random. The few that are relevant prove my point rather than yours. For example, you brought Psalms 50:5; I recommend reading on to verses 8-15. Many of the examples you cited simply illustrate how very scary it is to encounter God face to face. But so what? This doesn’t prove that we can’t, nay, mustn’t, according to you, pray to God directly. Even your example of Genesis 48:16–you skipped the preceding verse, in which Jacob addresses God and basically is asking God to allow the angel to bless the boys. It’s the other way around, don’t you see?
You wrote: “It’s a deadly error to believe God can be accessed without mediation – our God is a consuming fire. Without a worthy priest and sacrifice, we perish.”
The Torah gives us clear direction on how to avoid deadly error. So you need to answer this question: why is there not a single prohibition on addressing God directly, without mediation?
None of your citations are teachings on how to address God. Not a single one.
Here are examples of people addressing God directly:
Genesis 3:10,12,13; 4:9,13; 17:18; 24:12; 25:21–and so on and so forth. I stopped here because it’s too time-consuming to pick out every example among the numerous instances in the Torah.
You failed to address the other examples in Scripture that I presented in a previous comment. Here they are again:
1 Kings 8:46-51
Just one example of an atoning sacrifice:
‘Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites.’
Your read is that Zimri was offered up as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of Israel. That is a far cry from what the text actually says, which was that Zimri was killed because of his terrible sin, and that this killing appeased God’s wrath. Nothing about sacrifice here.
Do you not see difference between punishment and sacrifice?
How about responding to my other points, and my other citations?
More on Memra here – again I realise the source is not strictly rabbinic, but then it certainly isn’t Christian.
I wouldn’t be concerned if you would tell me that you didn’t understand my argument or if you told me that you thought it was wrong – what concerns me is that you assumed that I said something completely different than what I actually said.
I never said anything about a tradition that goes back to Abraham – how did it fall into your head that that is what I meant? – if I direct Charles to Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 4 where did you see the idea of a “tradition going back to Abraham”?
In any case I can’t fathom why you fail to see the simple point that I am making and that is that God utilized the miracles of the Exodus together with the national revelation at Sinai to teach us who it is that we ought to worship and who it is that we ought not to worship.
What is so difficult to understand about this?
Con, I’m wondering the same thing. This is an unbelievably simple argument. God said we are to worship Him ONLY as He appeared at Sinai. He did not appear in any form. Ergo, we cannot worship Him in any form. He did not appear as Jesus. Ergo, we cannot worship Him along with Jesus or say that He is Jesus somehow. Like I said, this isn’t rocket science! Or Greek philosophy! Or Comparative Religion class! What’s the problem with this argument?
The way you are interpreting what is written in these verses is what makes things difficult to understand rabbi. I wouldn’t say your absolutely wrong, but I find the emphasis in your reading vis the centrality of the people Above the book to be hard to see based on the surrounding context. I’m writing a response, no worries.
Con, this is what is so amazing to me: the rabbi isn’t interpreting the text; he’s merely pointing it out. The text speaks plainly for itself. What’s amazing to me is that you find this simple teaching in Tanach difficult to understand.
It’s you guys who go around interpreting things in weird and twisted ways. We just discuss the plain meaning on this blog.
Dina it has been explained to you numerous times that we accept the notion that G-d is not a form. We agree that G-d is incorporeal, as do our theologians. We too know how to read. The rabbis interpreting is in his emphasis. It’s not that we don’t agree that G-d is formless.
Con, Jesus was not revealed at Sinai. So whatever role he plays in your worship, whatever funny semantics you want to play with that, he doesn’t belong there. That’s what Deut 4 teaches and it requires no interpretation.
Were you there?
con, if before abraham i was in god’s mind then does that mean before abraham i am?
I’m reading, and I’m writing a response Dina, no worries.
Con, I’m wondering the same thing. This is an unbelievably simple argument. God said we are to worship Him ONLY as He appeared at Sinai.
We agree that G-d is not a form. His word manifested at Sinai Dina. You saw no physicality, but you heard the sound of words. When the disciples heard Jesus, they heard the word.
Con, Moses spoke God’s words to the Jewish people and they did not somehow think that Moses needed to be included in worship. All of the Hebrew prophets spoke God’s words. They functioned as God’s mouthpiece, practically speaking. So your point is moot.
Furthermore, Jesus did not relate God’s words even according to the NT. At least, in the first two and a half gospels, which is as far as I got, we don’t see “God spoke to Jesus, saying” or “Jesus said, thus said the Lord” or things like that.
Finally, Jesus was not a prophet, failing the prophet test on all counts, as we have demonstrated to you previously.
Jesus functions as a mouthpiece the same way.
Furthermore, Jesus did not relate God’s words even according to the NT. At least, in the first two and a half gospels, which is as far as I got, we don’t see “God spoke to Jesus, saying” or “Jesus said, thus said the Lord” or things like that.
Jesus says, this command I received from my father, he says the father is greater than I, he says not to follow him for his own sake, and he supports commitment of Jews to the Torah, what More need be said? People have followed messiah claimants on less sturdy ground than that. Moses’ words of clarification (the bulk of the passages that rabbi B!s argument employed) are deemed to have eternal weight despite Deuteronomy being a very long time after the national revelation occurred. In fact, Moses is reminding Israel after the fact exactly what they heard and saw during the event in Exodus, because the passage “you heard the sound of words” gives an impression of ambiguity. Why did Moses have to repeat? Did they not recall?
I thought you were a scholar of Judaism, and these things you don’t know?
If someone were to ask you how God went about teaching the nation of Israel who it is that they ought to direct their worship to and who should be excluded – what would you answer? What would you have answered before you joined this conversation? Can you please answer these questions honestly?
I can tell you honestly rabbi that I see what you are saying, and that if I just approached Torah alone without any traditions or explanations from either Judaism or Christianity, I would say that we wouldn’t know what to worship beyond a formless something that we call G-d. As I’ve said, I’m writing a response to what you wrote. I see what you are saying about not worshiping anything we can conceive of, I see that.
The text says nothing above, nothing below, or an image of any shape. I understand that rabbi.
You obviously did not understand my question. I did not ask you WHAT God taught Israel about direction of worship – I asked you HOW God taught Israel, what method of communication did He use? To simplify this I will put the question to you as a multiple choice.
According to the text of the Bible, God taught the ancient Israelites who it is that they ought to worship and conversely who they shouldn’t worship by:
a) giving them a book to read
b) sending them a prophet who taught them the pertinent information
c) miracles and national revelation
d) none of the above
Please tell me which of these answers you believe is true – and please also tell me how you would have answered this question before you joined this conversation
C but not with the emphasis you lay upon it. Moses is more instrumental, as is the book in clarifying what exactly was experienced on Sinai.
Thank you for your answer. Can you please answer the second question I asked (what would have been your answer before you joined this conversation?)
I also have another question for you if you don’t mind
What method does the Bible tell us that God used to pass the lesson of Sinai on to future generations
a) encouraged them to read about it in a book
b) they will be granted further revelation
c) the parents should pass the lesson on to their children
d) none of the above
It’s interesting, because the way I see it, it’s a mix of A and C. The whole purpose of maintaining the text at all, is to be the testimony, and to remind people of priorities. You wouldn’t need the text, or even the prophets, if a direct encounter with Hashem was so clear. I’m still working on my response, hope all is well with you rabbi.
Do you have a chapter and verse which explicitly states that the text is appointed to preserve the information learned at Sinai?
All is well with me thanks for your concern I hope all is well with you and your family
Yes, Deuteronomy 31:24-29 notes that the Torah was written down explicitly as a defense and witness against corruption.
Thanks for answering my questions.
If you truly believed that the acid test for corruption is the Scriptures you would realize that your answers to my questions are inaccurate.
The Sinai revelation did indeed seal God’s eternal covenant with Israel but according to scripture it also gave them an understanding of who it is that they are to worship – Deuteronomy 4:35
The message of the Sinai revelation – according to Scripture – is to be preserved by the living testimony of the nation – Deuteronomy 4:9
Some other relevant passages are Deuteronomy 33:4 and Psalm 78:5
To respond to your questions
The worship of the Golden Calf is an example of misdirected worship – with no false doctrine mentioned explicitly in the text. It is obvious that misdirected worship will ultimately lead to false doctrine – but the Bible emphasizes the misdirected worship and hardly ever mentions anything about false doctrine
The way that Rabbinic Jews can claim that they posses God’s testimony is simply because they understand that God appointed our nation as His witnesses (Isaiah 43:10) – this does not stand “outside of Scripture” or apart from Scripture because the Five Books of Moses are also designated as God’s witness – but the witnesses confirm each other and work together – to listen to one of God’s ordained witnesses and ignore the other is to rebel against God.
So in times of complete national apostasy, as in Judah during Manasseh, Amon, Jehoiachin or Zedekiah’s reign, or in Israel for most of its duration, was the Nation a witness then?
The feasts were corrupted, the Temple filled with idols, the prophets were ravening wolves, the priests did violence to the Law, and the people and the princes loved it to be so.
The prophetic voices were as rare and isolated as Elijah at Carmel or Elishah in his isolation.
Do you not see that at times of national judgement, like in AD 70 and AD 130, and since the same situation pertains with respect to the corpus of the nation.
Your second witnesses can be deeply unreliable, namely the body of the nation, can, has been and sometimes will be false.
This is not “my” witness. This is the witness of Israel’s God (Isaiah 43:10). Even in times of apostasy, the nation had the voice of God in their midst and did not need to go to pagans to find guidance about reaching their God.
Though sometimes Gentiles helped, Jethro, Ebed-Melech, Rahab, Ruth, Naaman, the Syrian widow, the historic witness of Job etc
The point you’re not addressing is that the witness you cite from Torah failed badly in these times. It’s just not reliable, not even the prophets themselves were reliable as witnesses, as their own narratives of their lives confirm, Elijah’s defection to Sinai, Urijah the son of Shemaiah’s flight to Egypt, the unnamed man of God from Judah (1 Ki.13), even Micaiah’s sarcasm, Moses and Aaron’s rebellion etc.
The only witness than can be wholly trusted is God’s own Word, all else is sinking sand.
These men might not have been good enough for you but they were good enough for God. These are the men that God appointed. Take up your argument with Him.
Some comments by Charles Soper highlight the classically self-righteous yet utterly dishonest berating of Jews by Christians.
“This tragic apostasy alone [Charles’s false accusation that Jews have Hellenized God in order to do away with the Messiah’s priesthood] explains the devastating judgements rabbinic Jews have faced and will yet face since the Messiah over the past two millennia, though I fully grant it has sometimes been at the hands of bloodthirsty idolators claiming the name of Christ, whilst denying it in practice” (emphasis in the original).
“So in times of complete national apostasy, as in Judah during Manasseh…or in Israel for most of its duration, was the Nation a witness then? The…Temple filled with idols…and the people and the princes loved it to be so…Your second witnesses can be deeply unreliable, namely the body of the nation, can, has been and sometimes will be false.”
“The point you’re not addressing is that the witness you cite from Torah failed badly in these times. It’s just not reliable…”
While unsurprising coming from one who declares that one should never assume that hostility to Jews is always unjustified, it’s still disappointing to see any Christian reading the Bible so one-sidedly.
Charles is comfortable telling Jews they deserved the blood libels, stake burnings, massacres, pogroms, and even the Holocaust for not accepting Jesus as their lord and savior, while deflecting Christian responsibility for these atrocities. We believe that these tragedies were punishment for sins, yet not for the sin of rejecting Jesus. And because we rejected Jesus, we were saved from the fate of his followers, the fate of becoming bloodthirsty haters of a downtrodden, oppressed, and completely harmless people (who also happened to be God’s firstborn son and chosen nation). Let us give thanks to God for that!
Charles seems unaware of the irony in the turn of history. Jews still continue to reject Jesus wholesale (reject is the wrong word; nearly all Jews are completely indifferent), yet life for Jews has never been better. At no time in history have Jews enjoyed greater freedom and rights and equality with non-Jews as the period beginning with the 1960s. It must also be noted that without any movement toward Christianity, Jews took back their homeland after a nearly 2,000-year-exile. Has such a thing ever happened in human history? Can you explain this, please, Charles?
Furthermore, it is quite horrible to tell someone you are torturing, “This is a judgment from God.” Historically, Christians have condemned Jews as suffering throughout Christendom for this very reason, while being the very perpetrators of the Jews’ suffering. I personally find this disgusting. And I find it equally disgusting when Christians who inherit this dubious moral legacy perpetuate it by pretending that the atrocities against Jews were not committed by real Christians, yet the suffering occurred because of the sin of rejecting Jesus. Honest Christians know that the more pious the Christian and the more he loved Jesus, the more he hated the Jews. Thus it has been throughout the history of Christianity, unless Charles would like to believe there were few real Christians until the 1960s when anti-Semitism finally lost its respectability. If John Chrysostom was not a real Christian, who was? If Martin Luther was not a real Christian, who was?
On the question of witnesses, Christians need to reconsider carefully their belief that Israel is an unreliable witness due to her sins past and present.
Ask any Christian: before the advent of Jesus, who possessed the sole truth and understanding of God? I am confident that every Christian would agree that the answer is the Jews. These same Jews who were supposedly so wicked and hated their prophets preserved their words and canonized them centuries before the appearance of Jesus. If this nation is so corrupt and so wicked, why do Christians trust their testimony on the word of God? It is the Jews before Jesus whose wickedness is recorded yet it is the Jews before Jesus who possessed the sole religious truth. You can’t have it both ways, Charles!
Ponder this, and ponder it well. God appointed the Jewish people to be His witness (Isaiah 43:10) and promised that His spirit and His word would never veer away from the nation of Israel forever (Isaiah 59:21). If God appoints someone to be His witness and makes such a promise, you can be sure He did not do so lightly. You can be certain He will ensure that the witness is up to the task even if he sins.
On Charles’s one-sided reading of the Bible I will write more as I have time, God willing.
Well said, Dina
Dina, I have often wondered the same thing QUOTE If this nation is so corrupt and so wicked, why do Christians trust their testimony on the word of God? UNQUOTE. If only the NT is correct then why was the NT attached to the back of the Tanakh? Why does the NT need Hebrew Scriptures to prove its authenticity? Why is the NT not simply a stand alone document like the Hebrew Scriptures being self-supporting as the focus of belief? Why do Christians insist on telling the Jew how to read his Scripture and essentially say the Jew must give up worshiping G-d and begin worshiping J-sus? Especially, since G-d in His Word, never mentioned that one day the Jew could no longer depend upon the Word of G-d but, rather, must only believe upon the Word of J-sus??
Exactly right, Clinton!
A Christian would tell you ” G-d in His Word (JESUS), mentioned that one day the Jew will depend upon the Word of G-d (jesus)”. This is when things get lost in translation…
“Dina, I have often wondered the same thing QUOTE If this nation is so corrupt and so wicked, why do Christians trust their testimony on the word of God? ”
they say similar thing about moses, david and abraham, they say, how can you follow sinful teachers ? why would a good God want you to follow sinful teachers ? i mean, if sin is deciding factor, then why are you trusting the text? didn’t the scribes sin? didn’t peter sin? didn’t mark , the alleged ” interpreter of peter” sin? when it comes to the preservation of the text, the sinners become “truth tellers” when it comes to following them, “why would a good god want you to follow sinners” ?
How do you expect us to take you seriously? – You are arguing for “no approach to God without mediation” – I presented you passages from Scripture which demonstrate that God dwells with the broken hearted – without mediation. You respond by providing what in your Christianized reading of Scripture is an instance of mediation. How is that relevant? You are arguing for NO approach without mediation – an example of mediation won’t cut it – you will need to find a statement in Scripture that says what you believe – and explain the statements that I provided.
‘I presented you passages from Scripture which demonstrate that God dwells with the broken hearted – without mediation.’
Isa.66.2 illustrates that God is known by the mediation of His word, so does v.5.
Isa.57.15 does not specifically mention mediation though it cerainly doesn’t preclude it.
Take Isaiah’s own experience for example, in Isa.6, when in a vision he sees the LORD in His Temple, seated and lifted high. Who is this Lord, who says, ‘Who will go for us?’ What is the garment the train of which fills the Temple, if not a high priestly robe (5 times used in Exodus in this way)? How is He visible if it’s not possible for Him to be seen? Is this not exactly the same as Zechariah’s vision of the Divine Branch, seated in the Temple as King and Priest (Zech.6.10-13)
Ps.51.19 speaks of sacrifices being offered on the altar, what clearer example of our unfitness to enter God’s presence without atoning blood being spilt by a mediator for our many breaches of the Law? David’s statement in v.16 indicate that his specific offences (adultery and murder) were not amenable to pardon under the sin and trespass offerings in Leviticus, something much more significant is needed.
Mediation and full atonement was necessary for Aaron, Moses and Abraham, for Job, Daniel and Isaiah (have reposted old texts below again) – do you really imagine you will escape the fierce anger of God for unpardoned sin without it? Please don’t be so foolish.
Evidence of addressing God directly, especially when He appears as one who in your words ‘walked God’s earth and breathed His air’ as in Gen.3,17,18, etc. is only more proof a Divine Mediator is needed, not less. The Divine Messenger Who appeared at Sinai to Moses is that only fit Mediator of a better Covenant (see url below).
[[All these texts refer to God approached via sacrifice and a mediating priest – Ps.50.5, as symbolised by the now missing Temple 1 Ki.8.29,30,33,38,42.
That God in His absolute and unmediated Presence is a devouring fire of Holiness, see Deut.5.5, Exod.20.18-21, Exod.19.24, Exod.32.33, Exod. 33.20, Deut.9.19-20, Deut.11.28 (1 Ki.8.46), and even Moses’ mediation needed mediation itself, Exod.32.13-14, Deut.32.50-51, as the patriarchs also had before him. Job.19.25, Gen.48.16, Gen.15.17 (see Jer.34.18b), Gen.22.8.
This bringing in a better covenant alone was what satisfied Daniel’s prayer when he understood that the Jerusalem Temple would be utterly destroyed, Dan.9.24, only afterwards to be desolated.]]
There is much more that could be written the necessity of punishment to effect an atonement, with numerous examples of human death in the Torah having an atoning effect for others and the question of idolatry and the false Hellenised conceptions of Deity rabbinic Jews have turned to in their determination to do away with the Messiah’s solely valid priesthood, but we have covered both these grounds extensively before. This tragic apostasy alone explains the devastating judgements rabbinic Jews have faced and will yet face since the Messiah over the past two millennia, though I fully grant it has sometimes been at the hands of bloodthirsty idolators claiming the name of Christ, whilst denying it in practice. It is the spirit of the prophets and apostles to intercede for and plead with, not persecute, idolators of all kinds, Jewish and Gentile.
It will take time to answer your comment. I will be breaking up my response into parts, addressing different parts of your comment as time permits. For now, I will devote my attention to the following sentence: “Isa.66.2 illustrates that God is known by the mediation of His word, so does v.5.” This sentence is nonsense.
I hate to write that something is nonsense, because I fear that people will take such a statement to be pejorative, that I am resorting to insult. But, this is not the case. And I hope that you will not be offended. When I say that this is nonsense, I mean it diagnostically. I mean to say that the sentence does not mean anything. While it has the structure of a sentence, and none of the words taken by themselves are meaningless, as a whole, the sentence is just plain gibberish. It cannot be properly evaluated as a truth claim, because it does not appear to mean anything.
What also makes it hard to evaluate is that the sentence stands on nothing. You do not demonstrate the truth of the statement, through argument. You merely assert it. One cannot blame you for resorting to mere assertion when you have not actually said anything meaningful, it is true. But, one can hope that you would say something meaningful and take the time also to demonstrate the truth of your claims.
I say this by way of introduction and not out of unkindness. Nothing of mockery is meant by stating these things. But, if one is to test the truth or falsity of your position, it would help if it were both intelligible and backed up by reason. Nevertheless, I shall attempt to discuss this sentence as if it did say something.
Please note that once again you have interjected into the Hebrew Scriptures your own ideas. Nothing about mediation between God and men appears in either verse you mentioned. I do not mean that the word “mediation” does not appear: the concept does not appear. That you cite these verses is terribly bizarre.
Indeed, they give off the opposite message than the one you preach. They do not speak of the need for a mediator. Instead, they teach something quite wonderful and show that one does not need a sacrifice to approach God, to say nothing of a mediator. HaShem tells the people that he is not impressed with sacrifices, because the whole world is his. The religious trappings that impress people are unnecessary to HaShem, and they are of no value if one does not live a life of justice. In v. 2, he tells the people that those to whom He looks are the humble, the contrite in spirit, and those that are scrupulously obedient to him—nothing about mediation. In v. 3, the sacrifices of the wicked are compared to abominations. This is similar to the idea found in Micah 6:6-9, where Micah asks if one should come before God with offerings, but no—what God requires is justice, kindness, and humility. In that passage, as here, sacrifices are secondary to the proper behavior and attitude. And, in neither is a mediator mentioned.
It would not be difficult to fit a mediator into these verses. It could have read something like, “Stop bringing your bulls, sheep, and goats. Through these you can never draw close to HaShem, but only through a sinless mediator.” But, these chapters say nothing of the sort. Instead, Isaiah 66 echoes Isaiah 1, where HaShem says that He does not want the sacrifices but for people to do what is right.
As Isaiah 66 continues, v. 5 comforts those that feel rejected by those that do not do what is right but feel that HaShem can be bribed through their sacrifices. He tells those that do what is right that in the end, those that relied upon their sacrifices would be the ones put to shame. Again, nothing of mediation appears in the verse. This is a fabrication on your part.
I suspect that you feel justified in appealing to these verses, not because they speak of mediation but because, in some translations, they both mention the word of HaShem, a phrase you associate with Jesus. (If I am wrong, forgive me for making such an assumption. On the other hand, you did not explain your reasoning.) But, v. 2 does not employ the word “dabar” (“word”).
Even if it did, in neither instance would this justify your reading. The word in v. 5 is not an active agent. It is not a being with a will, a mediator. Indeed, I am unaware of any place in Tanach that “word of God” is used to signify a person. What you have done is taken a Greek concept, logos (word or idea) and imposed it upon Torah. No verse like John 1:1 appears in Tanach: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God.” This is strikingly different from Genesis 1:1 where no one is mentioned besides God, certainly no word.
I once read an argument from a Christian that did try to put Jesus in Gen. 1. The argument went something like this: God said, “Let there be light.” So, God spoke. Ergo, His word is right there. The absurdity of this argument is enough to make one astounded that anyone would try it. First “amar” (“said”) is not the same as “dabar” (“word.”) The act of speaking something is not the same thing as a word (or idea). But the absurdity can be better seen in this way. The argument hinges on the notion that when God speaks, He is saying a word, and therefore the Word (i.e. Jesus) is present. But, Jesus is also God. So, when Jesus says to someone to take up their bed and walk, he is speaking a word, another divine being with the same relationship to Jesus as Jesus has to God, of the same substance as Jesus, etc. And, when that Word speaks (since it is an entity like Jesus), it to reveals another divine being nested in its speech, of the same substance as it, etc. And we have nesting gods all the way down. This is absurd, and so one must reject the argument that when God spoke, this is the Word which is Jesus. No justification can be found for putting Jesus in the first chapter of Genesis.
Forgive me for saying so, your assertion is rather bizarre. Nothing of mediation appears in the chapter. If you mean to be playing to the term “word of God,” one of the verses mentioned does not use the “dabar” that Christians equate to “logos.” Such an equation would have no source in Torah but comes from Greek thinkers, particularly Platonic thinkers. And the word of God is not a person in v. 5, not even personified. Forgive me if I have misinterpreted your words, but it is hard to analyze unsubstantiated statements, especially when they appear to have no discernible meaning.
I need to make a correction. On Isaiah 66:2, I wrote that the word “dabar” does not appear. This is incorrect. The end of the verse talks about trembling at God’s word (dabar).
I offer my apologies for some sloppy work.
As in v. 5, however, the word is not a person. Nevertheless, I am sorry for my negligence.
It might be a little while before I have time to write about Isaiah 6, but I would like to address one part of your treatment of it. You ask how a God Who cannot be seen, can be seen. You imply that this means different persons of the godhead, that this points to the Trinity. The implication of your understanding is that at least two gods exist. Moreover, you have no way to identify Jesus as any part of the godhead.
Briefly, one knows that he has two different objects or ideas by the things that differentiate the one from the other. If you write of a being that has quality x, and, later, you write of a being that does not have quality x, even if the beings were never named, it is clear that two different beings are written about. They cannot be one.
When writing of the Christian Father and Son, you write that the former cannot be seen and the second can. Essentially, you have stated that you have two different beings with either two different qualities or two different abilities. These are two different gods.
This can be seen, too, from the way in which they relate to humanity. According to you, Jesus must mediate between the other Christian god and humanity. If this is due to the holiness of that other god, as I believe you would say that it is, then you say that Jesus does not have the same holiness as that god, the Christian Father. Jesus is more a demigod than a god. But, in any case, you have two beings having two different relationships with humanity. One of those beings facilitates a relationship between humanity and the other being. That you can see these things shows that this is not one god. Any attempt to call them one is nothing short of a lie.
But, if one ignored this fact for the sake of argument, you would still have an enormous problem. The claim that any of the supposed theophanies in Tanach are Jesus is mere assertion. You have no way to substantiate the claim that this or that person in Tanach is Jesus. The claim is entirely empty. Indeed, you cannot even say that they are the same as each other. If one grants that the godhead is composed of multiple members, one cannot derive from those visitations that they are all the same member appearing over and over again. One time it might be Jesus. Another time it might be Fred. Another, Sandra. Another, Bing. The godhead might not be a three-in-one but a four-in-one, a ten-in-one, or millions-in-one. It is only the unfounded assertion of the Church that it is a three-in-one, a concept never stated in Tanach. It just cannot be established that any of the theophanies were an appearance by Jesus.
I know that you would assure us that you only worship one god. But, this is self-evidently false. You worship multiple beings that have different qualities and/or abitilities, who relate to humanity in different ways, one even making a relationship between humanity and the other being possible. To call these one and the same is word play. They are clearly two different beings. They are not one. Any claim to monotheism on your part is empty. It is not merely stating that one worships one god that makes it so, it is the actual worship of only one god. Indeed, you are a polytheist, and you do not even know how many gods are implied by your abuse of scripture. It could be two, three, or legion. One of the gods you worship was only a man, a created being, who needed food, water, and air to live. You claim that he appeared in Tanach, but you cannot demonstrate this from Tanach; it relies upon assumption. This is not worship of the God of Torah; it is the worship of gods of your imagination, and it is vanity.
A point of consideration:
You recently wrote of how Moses failed to keep the Law, and this kept him from coming in to the Land. You also wrote recently that the human being needs a mediator between himself and God, which is Jesus.
Now, according to you, Moses spoke with Jesus, and not just once, but frequently. Since Moses was speaking with the Mediator—I hope you see the problem coming—why did the Mediator never speak on his behalf? In fact, why did not Moses relate to him as a mediator? Why did he never request that the Mediator speak to God on his behalf? Why did the Mediator not come back saying, “I tried, but it’s no good this time”?
The fact of the matter is your reading of scripture requires a series of unsubstantiated assumptions. And, scripture does not reflect the things you teach. You have to dig deep for types and shadows, because the things you claim of scripture are not said outright. Worse, when one looks for signs of them where they could be expected, no indication exists that your doctrines are being taught.
Jim, this is a trite question, as reflection should reveal. Mediation never implies that all the consequences of sin will be wholly removed, or that the Mediator will overrule the will of the party represented. Think of many examples. Often Moses, Aaron, or David’s intercession and mediation for Israel only brought a belated and sometimes partial abatement of wrath.
On the contrary, Moses deliberate exclusion from the promised land is an important theme in the New Testament, as the dispute over his body (Jude 9) and his subsequent physical appearance with Elijah at the transfiguration shows. No doubt this was part of why the cross figured so largely in the discussion on that occasion (Lk.9.31).
That you discredit these accounts is immaterial, what is more material is that the same legal process that excluded Moses temporarily, but subsequently was rescinded by a stronger plea, will also work upon us, both you and me, without covenant mercy and a validated atonement, we stand no chance at all of standing in the presence of Eternal Fire.
” Mediation never implies that all the consequences of sin will be wholly removed, or that the Mediator will overrule the will of the party represented”
why not? if the “sacrifice” of jesus was for all years and moses spoke to jesus, why werent consequences of sins wholly removed?
Please forgive the late reply to some of the arguments raised above. Things got quite busy here. Please be assured that I was not ignoring you.
This comment answers your questions on Isaiah 6, here: https://judaismresources.net/2014/11/20/childishly-easy-an-open-response-to-charles/#comment-41469
“Take Isaiah’s own experience for example, in Isa.6, when in a vision he sees the LORD in His Temple, seated and lifted high. Who is this Lord, who says, ‘Who will go for us?’ What is the garment the train of which fills the Temple, if not a high priestly robe (5 times used in Exodus in this way)? How is He visible if it’s not possible for Him to be seen? Is this not exactly the same as Zechariah’s vision of the Divine Branch, seated in the Temple as King and Priest (Zech.6.10-13)”
The questions you have asked are all meant to imply certain things that you do not take the time to establish. And they are all based on a prejudicial reading of Tanach, a reading that begins with the notion that Moses and the Prophets wrote of Jesus and seeks to support that view. This is an abuse of scripture that reads Tanach, not for what it says, but what it can be made to say.
You ask how God is visible if it is impossible for him to be seen, implying (based on other comments) that this must be whom you call the visible person of the godhead, Jesus. This implication has no foundation. First, as I have written many times, even if this were another person of the godhead, a visible person, you could not identify him as Jesus. You did not see either one to make a comparison.
Your implication is based on a false premise, however. It is based on the idea that one cannot have a vision of your invisible person of the godhead. However, in the Christian understanding of Daniel 7, the invisible member is indeed seen as well as the visible member. The Ancient of Days is taken to be the Father and the one like a son of man is taken to be the Messiah, who Christian call “the Son.” Because the Father is seen in this vision as Christians typically understand this passage, then your implication that he cannot be the figure in Isaiah 6 stands on nothing.
Also standing on nothing is the claim that the figure of Isaiah 6 is wearing a priestly garment. Indeed, you claim that it is used in Isaiah 6 the same way it is used 5 times in Exodus, but you do not define just what that way is. As far as I can tell, you mean only that the word for “hem” or “fringe” is used in Isaiah 6, just as priest robes have hems. But no other comparison can be drawn between the two. For example, in Exodus the hem of the priests’ robes is adorned with bells and pomegranates, while no mention is made of these in Isaiah 6. Conversely, priests’ robes do not fill the temple as that of the figure in Isaiah 6. When you write that the word is used in the same way, you offer no substantiation. You seem only to mean that both passages refer to the edge of clothing. This is like saying that a dog is a cat, because the word “tail” is used in the same way when speaking about one as when speaking about the other. You have implied that the general word “hem” is a special word, when it is not. It appears the reason you have made this unsubstantiated claim is to make the figure in Isaiah 6 a mediator, and since no mediation is being done, you have read into the text more than the text implies, resting your argument on a fringe claim.
Your question regarding Zechariah 6:10-13 and whether or not it is the same as Isaiah 6 is easy to answer: no. Further, you add to the text what is not there: you write of a “Divine Branch.” The text says nothing of the divinity of the one called “Branch.” Again, you are not reading the text for what it says. You are reading Church doctrine into the text, assuming and altering where necessary to fit your ideas of what the text must mean.
Because this reflects your methodology, I will briefly discuss Psalm 51:19 as well. You ask, “what clearer example of our unfitness to enter God’s presence without atoning blood being spilt by a mediator for our many breaches of the Law?” Once again, you ask an insinuating question, implying the text means something that it does not say. It is obvious that a clearer example could have been brought, because you feel the need to explain why verse 16 does not invalidate your interpretation. By definition, this means the example could have been clearer. It is also true that a clearer statement could have been brought, which is obvious from the Christian scriptures. The author of Hebrews writes that atonement cannot be achieved without the shedding of blood. This is a clear and unambiguous statement, what one might expect to find in Tanach if this were one of the central teachings of Tanach. However, it does not appear in Tanach, not even in Leviticus 17:11, which the author of Hebrews misquoted in order to validate his teaching. The fact of the alteration alone serves as testimony that the need for atoning blood was not clearly stated in Torah, and that a clearer statement could be easily imagined. It also testifies to the dishonesty of the authors of the NT, who preferred their own teachings to that of the Torah. They preferred the word of human beings to the Word of God.
None of the questions you ask imply the answers that you seem to think they do. The Church has put you in the uncomfortable position of having to defend its misrepresentations. It has taught you to read Torah, not in order to learn what God wants of you, but to impose upon it their own doctrines. What the Church has done to you is not fair, and I sympathize with the difficulty of your position. I know that it would seem like unfaithfulness to stop reading in the biased fashion that you have been tempt; I know it very well. But the Church has misrepresented Torah to you, and you need not accept such misrepresentations as truth.
In response to your comment: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/childishly-easy-an-open-response-to-charles/#comment-16422 .
I am rather surprised at your employment of Phineas’ slaying of Zimri in support of the notion of human sacrifice. As Dina already mentioned, it was not a sacrifice, and it is a bizarre abuse of the text to make it out to be so. But even if it were a human sacrifice, nothing in the text would indicate that it was required.
But neither of these is the real reason it is surprising. If you use Zimri as a precedent to show that God accepts human sacrifices, you will be drawing unwanted comparisons to Jesus. Zimri was wantonly sinning, flouting the Torah openly. In calling his death an atoning sacrifice, you assert that God accepts the death of the guilty to make atonement for the nation.
If this is a precursor to the sacrifice of Jesus, then we must assume that Jesus was also a sinner, blatantly and openly violating the Torah, and leading others to do the same, just as Zimri. Indeed, the NT lends credence to such a charge, but I am surprised that you would like to draw such a comparison. If the “sacrifice” of Zimri is precedent and a parallel case, then we must draw the conclusion that Jesus was killed as an atonement, because he was a source of sin in Israel. His blatant violation of the Sabbath and teaching others to do so, his dishonoring his parents and teaching others to do so, and other open sins and desecration of Torah would be the reason he died. Calling upon people to worship him, a god unknown to their fathers, he led them down a path of idolatry. This too would be a reason that he died. Drawing on the parallel of Zimri, we would be forced to conclude that Jesus died for the sins he instigated, not the general sinfulness of the world. By the reading you propose, Jesus’ death served to end his corrupt teachings and their spread throughout Israel, thereby saving Israel. Jesus was not an innocent sacrifice, if his case is like Zimri’s. He was a sinner and caused the spread of sin.
Moreover, by this interpretation, to which you have introduced us, the heroes of the story are not Jesus, or his disciples. They are the Jewish leadership that saw the threat he posed to the nation and ended it. They saw how he openly violated the Torah and taught others to do the same, and they knew something must be done. They were not so dramatic as Phineas, but then we can’t all be. Nevertheless, they had him arrested, and with the help of the Romans, saved the Jewish people. They turned them away from the idolatry Jesus urged when he told the Jews that he was divine. They turned them back to the God of Israel and His Torah.
Is this the parallel you wish to draw?
You argue that God required human sacrifices. Many laws regarding sacrifices appear in the Torah. Can you tell me what are the laws regarding human sacrifices? What parts are burned on the altar? What parts are eaten? For what purpose are humans brought as sacrifice: burnt offering, guilt offering, peace offering?
Thank you. I’ve been having trouble locating the specifics.
That’s sick. 🙂
Continuing on the idea of human sacrifices:
It is astounding to me how much Christians, such as yourself, ignore the plain teaching of Torah. Does God ever teach that the blood of an innocent human being is required to atone for the sins of the world? No.
However, after the incident of the golden calf, when Moses offers himself as substitute for the guilty, God rejects such an offer. We must take note of the reason he rejects the offer, however. He does not tell Moses that Moses is not pure enough. He does not tell Moses that He “will provide the lamb.” The reason he rejects Moses as substitute is because God punishes the guilty, not the innocent: “The soul that sins, it shall die.”
Reading your unfounded claims regarding human sacrifice, I am reminded of what another Christian said to me about six months ago. Quoting Micah 6.6, he asserted that the blood of animals was insufficient for atonement: “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?” The Christian, seeking to bring me back to Jesus, implied that human blood was necessary for atonement. However, if he had only gone on to verse eight, he would have seen his error: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah was not contrasting animal blood to that of an innocent human (or demigod). Rather, he was contrasting sacrifices to justice and kindness.
The Christian assertion that God requires a perfect human sacrifice is without merit. I am utterly confounded by the ease with which Christians misrepresent scripture. It is troubling how readily you misrepresent the killing of Zimri, so single-minded that you did not notice the pitfall it would be to your own cause.
What is truly astounding is how your reliance upon such scriptures proves that you have no case. If God required the death of a human to atone for sins, you would point to where he says outright that this is what is required. According to Christians, this is a central teaching of the Bible. However, you cannot find such an open teaching, and so you must read into incidents like the slaying of Zimri. This is an implicit admission that no such doctrine can be found. If it could, you would not force it into a passage having nothing to do with sacrifice.
Jim, what you wrote here is spot on, especially this: ” I am utterly confounded by the ease with which Christians misrepresent scripture. It is troubling how readily you misrepresent the killing of Zimri, so single-minded that you did not notice the pitfall it would be to your own cause.”
Christians are so eager to find support for their doctrines that they too easily miss the surrounding context. Both Charles and Con pointed me to Genesis 48:16, where they say Jacob prayed to an angel as an intermediary (“May the angel who redeems me from every evil bless the boys etc.”). In so doing, they completely ignored the preceding verse, in which Jacob directly addresses God. If you read it in context, he is asking God to allow the angel to carry the blessing–the opposite of the point these two gentlemen are vainly attempting to support.
The Christian will accuse you, as a Torah observant Jewish woman, of following the traditions of men. Yet they will ignore you as you quote a direct teaching of the Torah. Then they will take a passage that “hints” at their theology and claim that it supercedes your direct passage.
Who follows the tradition of men?
Yes, good point. Who moved Sabbath observance to Sunday? That’s not a tradition of men?
By the way, Christians justify this by saying that the resurrection occurred on a Sunday. They ignore the fact that Constantine established it as a day of rest. Here is a quote from Wikipedia. I know it’s not the most reliable, so if anyone cares to verify this I would appreciate it.
“On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.”
I have been told by Xtians the “traditions of men” uses a reference to Isaiah 29:13. It took quite a lengthy dialog to counter the premise.
Reblogged this on 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources.
You and I communicate by word, our word mediates our minds. It is much more so with God, being invisible, His Word lives. His Message does indeed take on personal attributes, read Ps.107 .20, Prov. 13.13, most of Prov.8, 9.1-6 and 1.20-33. Indeed His Word is exalted above other aspects of His Being Ps.138.2. So much so that the Message and the verbatim Messenger (or Angel) become One (Deut.18.18). This is the only way to understand the Visible self representation of the invisible HaShem without producing idolatry of created angels. See many examples below.
You may reject this as you please, but it is not Platonic, it is declared 1000 years before his works.
Here too is the proper key to Isaiah’s vision, which is not my peculiar reading of the passage – it is Orthodox Messianic doctrine – John. 12.39-41 – the passage is ironically relevant. The true High Priest sat in the throne of the Temple as Lord and God, but visible to the prophet, just as the Son of God had been on numerous occasions before (see url), as God, yet manifesting God visibly, His Divine Similitude.
You will not see this till you see just how far short you have fallen of His Law, and like Isaiah cry out for atonement and real and solid mediation, based on the promised Covenant not the rags of personal righteousness, which deserve nothing but wrath, nor the flawed and broken Levitical arrangements, which failed ab initio.
If you prefer to believe otherwise, I will not labour to disenchant you now.
Hi Charles, I am sorry to come in the middle of other’s conversation, but it seems that there is a lack of agreement on the meaning of those verses. You come with the assumption that Jesus is the “word” (as per John 1). Jim comes to the assumption that the New Testament is not inspired and that G-d will not (ever) become one human being (Number 23:19).
Based on your assumption, you will find other explanation for Number 23, translating it as follow: G-d is not a liar like men are.
Jim, Jews and non-follower of Jesus like myself will translate your verses that you mentioned differently. As those are not necessarily to be understood as literal words, we usually would not capitalize the word “word”. Second, we will not understand the “word” as a person, and I would not imagine G-d speaking out Words out of a literal mouth. As G-d has not body, we out to understand those passages in a figurative way (in my opinion)
I am not saying your interpretation is necessary wrong. On the contrary, anybody that believes the new testament should understand those verses like you do. Based on your assumptions of what is true and what is not, your interpretation of the same passage will vary. Just like you can’t talk to a Mormon and expect him to understand Trinity as you are. If you say the word trinity, as an example, his understanding will be totally different than yours. So, it is the same with the word “word” (D’var) from the Hebrew Bible. Because you have an extra sets of criteria’s that you accept as accurate, you came to a different conclusion than us. It is not the point of Enchanting or disenchanting, but rather a mater of opinion. Religion and doctrines are taught (in synagogue, in Church, Bible studies) and our own interpretation of the Bible, plus other factors such as the environment where we have been raised and our own moral standards will come in the way when we try to understand the real meaning of the Bible.
Finally, I would like to address my own rags of personal righteousness. Sure they are rags, I totally know that. I do not know Jim or CR, and you don’t either, and maybe they know that they are not 100% sinless, or they might not boast every day that they are perfect. You are actually judging them in a fairly pejorative view. You are saying that they think that they are GOOD. I believe that they might be good, not perfect, but something in between. I believe you are something in between too. This is another assumption based on the New Testament (one sin = hell). I have seen atheist who are good, and religious people who are bad. I have days that I have done bad, and days that I have done good. You assumed that G-d will judge us (or has already judged us) according to perfection. G-d might, or might not judge us as per that standard. I could point out scriptures where it looks like G-d does not judge sinners as per what they deserve. Or that G-d would forget if we turn from our evil ways. And yes, those who turn from their evil ways still sins. What happens next? G-d knows, and I don’t. What is the standard that G-d uses? Would G-d look at the world and decide to crush all of us like ants? Is G-d even real in the first place? How do we know? For someone who thing he has all the answers, you might have the less answers than you think. What if you exchange your own rags with another (Jesus) rags. I know that the NT say that Jesus is perfect and has not blemish, but is that really true and how can we know it? Can you blame me not to believe it? Anyway, anybody that is unwilling to listen to others and thinks he is right is probably a fool. There are a lot of foolish people who think they are right and want to force it on others. The more I see religious people, the more I think that they are the pridest people! Hopefully G-d is not religious, because if G-d is, woe to us if we got it wrong in the minute detail! With that, farewell Charles and good weekend…
One of the techniques of the sophist is to seize upon ambiguities of language. He may, for example, substitute a homonym for one of the terms in question. Having elicited agreement on some point about the homonym, he transfers that agreement to the term in question, an illegal move, logically speaking. This is what you have done to support your arguments regarding the need for a mediator: you have played the part of the sophist.
The original argument you made was that one needed a mediator to approach God. Your argument has hinged upon the sinfulness of humanity, its inability to keep God’s Law. According to your past arguments, someone had to secure God’s favor for humanity. I will call this mediator-a, and it can be defined something like this: “a perfect, intelligent agent that secures divine favor for imperfect humans.” R’ Blumenthal pointed out verses that indicate that this is not so, that God does not require a mediator. You responded, in part, by saying that two of those verses indicate the word of God, which acts as a mediator by which one can know God. When I called this nonsense, you justified your argument by saying that in order to communicate, you and I rely upon words, the means by which we mediate our minds. Thus, you imply, the word is a mediator. I shall call this mediator-b, defined like this: “words, which carry ideas from one mind into another.” These definitions may not be perfect, but they should be good enough to elucidate the argument.
An outline of your argument goes something like this then:
R’ Blumenthal says that one does not need a mediator between him and God.
Words are mediators, and are necessary in order to know God.
Therefore, R’ Blumenthal is wrong: one does need a mediator. QED
This is sophistry. Truly, you have done nothing but play word games. This might appear clever, but it is useless for understanding the truth.
Let us reiterate the argument with slight changes:
R’ Blumenthal says that one does not need a mediator-a between him and God.
Words are mediator-b’s, and are necessary in order to know God.
Therefore, R’ Blumenthal is wrong: one does need a mediator (mediator-a). QED.
The fact that you have called both the words by which one communicates and an intelligent go-between by the same name does not mean that they are the same thing. A name is not the essence of a thing. Substituting one for the other is an illegal move in the argument.
One more time for clarity:
R’ Blumenthal says that one does not need a perfect, intelligent agent to secure God’s favor.
Words are necessary in order to know God.
Therefore, R’ Blumenthal is wrong: one does need a perfect, intelligent agent to secure God’s favor.
When one does not obscure the argument through similar sounding terms, one sees that the argument is invalid: the conclusion does not follow from the premises. You have seized upon ambiguities in the language—you have played the sophist.
One way it can be seen that these words are not interchangeable is to invert your argument, seizing upon the homonyms to produce the opposite effect. You say that one needs a mediator between himself and God. But, one already has a mediator, the words that go between the two parties. A man prays, and those are mediators between him and God, through which one seeks God’s favor and forgiveness. Therefore, no further mediator is necessary. Because one has mediator-b, he does not need mediator-a. The free interchange of terms can be used just as easily against your argument as for it.
A second way in which you have practiced sophistry is in exchanging the metaphorical for the literal. In order to support the idea that God’s “Message does indeed take on personal attributes,” you refer to several passages, especially from Proverbs. Now, Proverbs is largely a book of metaphors or parables. And the passages you cite do not teach that Wisdom is an actual person; it uses personification to make a parable. You take that metaphor and treat it as literal. This is not serious interpretation of scripture.
Now it is clear that you are playing a game, because you do not take the entire personification of Wisdom literally. Consider Proverbs 9. Wisdom is a woman. She builds a house. She prepares a meal and sets a table. She carves seven pillars. This is obviously metaphor, a parable. The chapter is not about a corporeal being, the literal person that is Wisdom. Nor is she a literal figure in chapter 8. For her to be so, she would have to be a woman in Solomon’s day sometimes standing at the gates to a city—Jerusalem?—calling out to people. Furthermore, this Wisdom, being a woman, would not be the Son of God, as you believe Jesus to be. Proverbs 1:8 and 9 calls “the discipline of you father” and “the instruction of your mother” “a wreath of grace for your head and a necklace for your neck.” Surely you understand this to be a parable. Surely you do not believe that these teachings are literal crowns and wreaths having bodily substance. This is nothing but more sophistry on your part, taking the metaphorical as literal when it suits your purpose and only so far as it suits your purpose.
These arguments you have presented are not arguments at all. They are shadows, nothings, mere wordplay. An argument is not built upon ambiguity, exchanging one term for another and then back again as suits the need. Exchanging mediator-b for mediator-a is an illegal move in the argument. It is no better taking the figurative to be literal, especially when one will only do so as far as it suits one’s purpose. These moves you have made are fundamentally unserious.
Jim, your distinguishing between mediator-a and mediator-b brilliantly clarifies the problem.
In a few of the comments you have made, you have implied that I am self-righteous. Let me ease your mind, and tell you that I am not going to complain about this. I do not really mind if you call me self-righteous all the day long. I only care about the reasoning behind it. This comment will address how this distorts the argument.
First, you do not know me. You have never met me. Our only interactions have been these online. In all that time, I cannot recall ever asserting that I was even a particularly fine fellow, let alone asserting that I was not in need of the mercy of God.
In presenting me as otherwise, you have misrepresented the argument between us. I never made the argument that I do not need Jesus, because I am such a wonderful person that I have never done anything wrong. I have argued that I do not need Jesus, because God is merciful, and He does not need Jesus in order to be merciful. The argument has nothing to do with me at all. Your constant appeal to my self-righteousness is a distortion of the argument.
This said, I am not offended. You can think of me whatever you like. But, you either do not understand the argument, or you are intentionally misrepresenting it. I think that is worth pointing out.
You wrote: “…God, being invisible, His Word lives.” I cannot see the logical connection between God being invisible and his word living, by which you indicate that His Word is an person. Such a connection is not made in Tanach. You seem to have made up this principle. By this, I do not just mean that God does not have a person as Word, which you think you have verses to back up, but that this is not a necessary consequence of His invisibility.
As far as I can tell, you made this connection in order to avoid a problem with your theory about the Word of God. I pointed out that if God’s Word is a person, because of God’s divinity, then the same would be true of Jesus and his word, a process that will continue to infinity. But, if God is invisible, and that is the reason for His Word being a person, then this will not happen with Jesus, because Jesus is visible. So, now the problem is solved.
Except, it is not.
First problem: a minor one. Is the holy spirit visible or invisible? If the latter, then it’s word is also embodied. (Perhaps it is Wisdom from Proverbs 8, and you have a Quadrinity and did not realize it.) If the holy spirit is visible, I suppose this problem does not arise.
Second problem: quite a large one. Your statement is based on nothing. No reason exists to claim an invisible being’s words must be persons. Let us perform a thought experiment. Raoul finds the Ring of Gyges, which makes one invisible. Now, when Raoul has a thought or idea, or when he speaks, no good reason exists to think that his word will become an embodied being. Indeed, I suspect you will say that his word will not be a living, breathing person. So then, if God had an embodied word, the source of its corporeality would seem to be something other than God’s invisibility, probably His divinity. But then, Jesus is supposed by you to be divine, and his words do not make living beings. We are back to the original problem.
Third problem: massive one. You have insisted on Trinitarian doctrine. But, you keep finding ways to show that these three beings are not one. At least, the two upon which you focus are not one. One is invisible; the other not. One cannot abide the presence of human imperfection and would devour them as a flame; the other can walk among them and serves as mediator between the first and humanity. (He can even remain in their presence while they murder him without consuming them.) One’s thought is a person; the other does not produce a person from his thoughts. It is clear that this is not one god. It is clear that they are not of the same substance. It is clear you worship multiple gods.
What is clear is that this is just another unsubstantiated statement by you, another declaration that rests on nothing—a mere assertion.
Some here are deeply ignorant of the history of Christian Zionism, and their shame at Luther’s virulent hatred or Chrysostom’s bile, I am not surprised, it’s been airbrushed away by many. One might well start here:
or if one prefers spending no money and a Jewish author then here
The history of Zionism is completely irrelevant to the argument or to the challenges I raised. Can you answer the contradictions in your reasoning that I have pointed out? Your continued deflections make one think that you cannot. For your convenience, here they are again:
Your use of unsanctified reason alone to found your objections is witnessed by your refusal to employ scriptural arguments or reference. It is vain for example to extrapolate human analogy to understand God (Ps 50:21), it is another matter to use His own analogies to explain His own teaching (Gen.1.3,27, 5.1-3). Your notion of triunity is a carnal strawman, though personal distinctions within His Being are suggested in many passages (Gen.1.1-3, 26, 19.24, Isa 48:16-17, Ps.45.6, Ps.110.1 to name but a few).
It too is quicksand.
It is not a difficult matter, though laborious and repetitive now, to untie your knots, but not until you are prepared to examine your own presuppositions critically will you entertain the notion that mediation and sacrifice is essential to approach Deity safely (Deut.18.15-16, Ps.50.5). Presently it is sadly evident you have no heart to allow the Law to search you in such a manner as to leave you seeing our guilt, the enormity of the gulf between ourselves and God (Isa.59.1-16) and that in idolising our own resources we remain without excuse for our justly deserved judgement (Isa. 44.20). I shall leave you with your Creator, Who I trust in due time will instruct you in this and in higher matters.
It is unjust of you to pretend that, because I did not mention a scripture in a particular comment, that I have not based my comments on scripture. I am busy at the moment, but I have time to remind you of the following verses, which have apparently slipped your mind: Deut. 4:35, 39, and Deut. 6:4.
Buttinsky for a moment, if I may. Charles, can you tell me the difference between “sanctified reason” and “unsanctified reason”? Thanks in advance.
Ha, Eleazar, I was going to ask about that too.
It is not enough for one to quote scripture. How one quotes it is important. Though you tend to reference multiple scriptures in your comments, this would only be commendable if you represented them fairly, which you do not do. If you think that the employment of reason is unholy, what do you think of misrepresenting the words of the Holy One? I am going to give three examples how in this comments section you have misrepresented Tanach in order to come to a conclusion that is exactly the opposite of Torah.
You appeal to Isaiah 6 in your argument that one needs a mediator. To quickly summarize your argument, you imply that the being on the throne is Jesus, being a visible god. And you claim that his train is a priestly robe. You conclude therefrom that Jesus is a king and priest. And then you go on to Zechariah, which you tie into this argument. I am going to lay aside Zechariah and your implication about the visible god for the time being.
The prophecy is introduced with these words: “In the year the King Uzziah died…” With these words, your argument crumbles. The idea that you have taken from the Church is that the Messiah is to be both priest and king. So, you look for scriptures in Tanach to support a theory never explicitly stated. But, you could almost not choose a worse passage if you tried. The opening of the passage references a king that tried to perform both functions. He tried to act as king and priest, and he was stricken with tsaraas because of it (2 Chr. 26:16-21). Indeed, the passage in Chronicles makes clear that the job of priest belongs exclusively to the descendants of Aaron and not to Davidic kings. So, your argument, built on inferences (i.e. reason, however bad), does not accord with Torah and even contains a reference to the king that belies your argument.
You have made the assertion that words are mediators. And, you have claimed that God’s word must be a person, because God is invisible. This idea is exactly the opposite of what Torah teaches. In Deut. 4, Moses reminds Israel that at Sinai, they saw no form; they only heard God speak. And he emphasizes the lesson that they should not associate God with a form. Working from the basic idea of communication, you literally came to the opposite conclusion of what Torah says about God’s communication and what one is to learn from it.
This is an old one that you may not remember, but I saw it in the comments above. You called Zimri an atoning sacrifice, which of course is not what Torah calls him. Not only is he not a sacrifice, he is exactly the opposite of what you make Jesus out to be. This was not precedent for the innocent being killed on behalf of the wicked. He was openly violating the Torah, bringing shame upon Israel and dishonoring God.
You can read my response from a couple years back here: https://judaismresources.net/2014/11/20/childishly-easy-an-open-response-to-charles/#comment-16427 .
Even though you reference a lot of scripture, this is not something of which you should boast. Your frequent misrepresentations are not a badge of honor but a mark of shame. To understand what God wants us to know, it is true that we must rely upon Torah. But, that does not mean coming with your preconceived notions and pushing them into the text. The Jewish people were blessed: they heard God speak at Sinai. And he gave them the Torah, so that they can still hear him speaking today. You can hear him speaking through his Torah, also—if you will stop talking over him.
To answer a simple but important enquiry, Calvin put it well in his response to Cardinal Sadoleto’s threatening letter to Geneva. The learned Cardinal’s flair for eloquence and wordy expressions was dampened by a lack of primary concern to sanctify God’s name,
(‘a zeal which keeps a man entirely devoted to himself, and does not, even by one expression, arouse him to sanctify the name of God’.)
You can read it here https://www.monergism.com/john-calvins-letter-cardinal-sadoleto-1539
As to Jim’s latest arguments they are less philosophical and slightly better (but not well) grounded, so if I can find a little spare time I will address them.
A brief point on your constant misuse of scripture:
You wrote that Deut. 18:18 shows that “the Message and the verbatim Messenger (or Angel) become One.” This is pure fantasy. The verse says nothing of the kind–not even close. And, when you assert it, you do not even attempt to bring support for your reading. It is shocking the liberties you take with scripture. Shocking–and shameless.
Jim, you have a itchy finger and not enough patience.
More seriously you have a strong propensity to misconstrue positions in order to try to demonstrate their falsity, this is not to your credit. Perhaps the terseness of my quotes has misled you, but these are lines of argument we have often pursued before so you really have no excuse for misrepresenting them.
Let’s start with your three examples.
1. My church-derived idea that the Messiah is to be priest and king is disproved by Uzziah’s leprosy. One word blows this error out of the water, Melchizedek – the King-Priest who offered sacrifice. A church invention?
Ps.110.4, David wrote the psalm, ushering in a new order of priesthood to replace one that was plainly flawed from the outset, for reasons we’ve examined in detail before. Zechariah corroborates his assertion, but you won’t examine it, and the visibility of Deity even in a vision is a serious problem for consistency with Ex.33.20.
2. ‘God’s word must be a person, because God is invisible’. This is not the basis of the reasoning, though it was concise. To expand it more:
We mediate our thoughts through words, God is different from us, His Word is different from ours, His Word is ascribed personal characteristics by Scripture, He is identified with His Messenger on numerous occasions to an extent that endangers idolatry if there is not a real and personal union between Him and His Angel.
Moses did see a Similitude, even if Israel as whole did not. Who was He, if not God in the Absolute?
3. I did not say Zimri offered a sacrifice, rather that in punishing him and Cozbi, Phineas performed an atoning sacrifice (Num.25.13), obviously not a Levitical one, for it is out of the code of Leviticus. That is the essence of a sacrifice like the Passover for a Substitute to be a sin bearer for sinners. Phineas’ act saved many others from being destroyed, in that sense Zimri and Cozbi were exemplary substitutes for others who would also have died had God’s wrath not been temporarily restrained. A moment’s contemplation will reveal there are many examples of this in the Torah and in the rest of the Tenach.
I have outlined the distinction between sanctified reason and the prolix and unjustified inferences and extrapolations, I consider you prone to, but if you don’t wish to consider this, the responsibility is your own.
Finally, the Deut.18.15-18 prediction of great Moses’ greater Successor, regarded by many Rabbinic as well as Christian sources as Messianic, is the Covenant Mediator. All I meant to draw attention by citing the text was the identity between the Mediators’ words and God’s words (something that did not pertain perfectly for Abraham, Moses or Aaron). I agree this text in isolation does not in itself substantiate personal union between God and His Messenger, other passages I have already cited at length perform that function.
I have no desire to be argumentative, I expect no vindication here and now, I am content to rest my case for later, and I will not wrangle with you Jim, these are deeper and more serious matters than some of the frankly rather facetious comments you have made above warrant. Please look to yourself, for I have and will ignore specious argument.
“We mediate our thoughts through words, God is different from us, His Word is different from ours, His Word is ascribed personal characteristics by Scripture, He is identified with His Messenger on numerous occasions to an extent that endangers idolatry if there is not a real and personal union between Him and His Angel.
Moses did see a Similitude, even if Israel as whole did not. Who was He, if not God in the Absolute?”
you’re saying that there is god and then his words take the embodiment of form ?
and you seem to be saying that the form which the word becomes endangers idolatry, so why say “if there is not a real and personal union…”
it is still idolatry, because one is fusing word with invisible. and taking that form as god himself.
Charles, Jim has been extremely patient, taking pains to carefully and clearly articulate thoughtful responses to your often incoherent argumentation; therefore, he is the last person who deserves your sanctimonious and unfair lecture. Perhaps he struck a nerve, and your frustration at your inability to counter him is the cause of your lashing out. Nevertheless, your incivility ill becomes you.
I imagine that it is you who decides for yourself which arguments are “specious” and which are not.
Addressing only your point one above:
You sarcastically ask whether or not Melchizedek is an invention of the Church. Well, yes. Obviously, Melchizedek the person is not an invention—he appears in Torah. However, the meaning attached to him is an invention of the Church. The Church took the name and poured into it an entirely new meaning, not derived from Tanach, which is reflected in your comments.
One of the difficulties in our typed dialogues is that you constantly appeal to information that is not in the Torah. You quote a verse or passage and say that it indicates something that does not appear in the passage altogether. This comes about because you are not interpreting Torah. The doctrines that you have embraced are found in the NT, and then you attempt to force them into the Torah. Because you take those ideas for granted, you do not seem to recognize that the verses do not say what you would have them to say.
To illustrate, let me summarize the points specifically about Melchizedek, that you have made:
1. Melchizedek served a dual role as king and priest.
2. He offered sacrifice.
3. A priesthood like his will replace the Levitical priesthood.
4. (Implied.) The priesthood of Melchizedek will achieve the mediation that the Levitical priesthood fails to achieve.
Of these 4 points, only the first actually appears in Tanach. The other points you have imposed upon it, because of Christian invention.
I suspect that in regard to number 2, you will say that a priest brings sacrifice by definition. But this is not what Torah puts the reader’s focus on. While you characterize Melchizedek this way, Torah says nothing about him bringing a sacrifice. He brings refreshment to Abraham after a war. And he blesses Abraham and then God. But the Torah does not emphasize his role as a bringer of sacrifices.
Indeed, it does not appear that Abraham would need Melchizedek to bring a sacrifice for him. Before that time, people brought sacrifices, Abel and Noah, for example, in Genesis 4 and 8 respectively. Abraham also brought a sacrifice, without the need for Melchizedek, in chapter 22. It does not appear that the limitation that sacrifices could only be brought through priests applied until the giving of the Torah. If so, then defining Melchizedek by his role as a bringer of sacrifice is rather bizarre. Not only does he not bring one in the text, this was not his exclusive duty. Applying this importance to him is an invention of the Church indeed. The important point, however, is that the essential quality of Melchizedek as one that brings sacrifice is not derived from the text of the Torah.
Nor does Abraham need Melchizedek to act as a mediator on his behalf. Abraham has already had direct communication from God before the incident with Melchizedek. Similarly, the text says nothing about Abraham sinning and needing Melchizedek to intercede on his behalf. The Torah gives no indication that this is Melchizidek’s primary function.
So, when one reads Ps. 110, one will not carry with him the idea that Melchizedek is a mediator or even that he brought sacrifices. If one is to get those ideas, they must appear in Ps. 110.
They do not.
And just as they do not, the replacing of the Aaronic priesthood does not appear there either. This is nowhere in the text. It is an invention of the Church, not an interpretation of Tenach.
The figure of Ps. 110 is David. And he, like Melchizedek, is King of Jerusalem. He will be a priest in the sense that Melchizedek was, through teaching people about God. Nothing is suggested about either one being a mediator. But, just as Melchizedek blessed God, so did David through his psalms. David’s work is complementary to that of the Aaronic priests; it does not supersede them. In the same temple, sacrifices were brought and psalms were sung. No conflict exists between the two.
And I think if you review Zechariah, you will see that it does not support your belief at all. It does not merge the roles of king and priest, but keeps those roles separate, each sitting upon his own throne. It certainly says nothing about a king-priest who is mediator.
So much of what you derive from the scriptures you reference just cannot be found in them. What happens is you attempt to port Christian doctrine into Tanach. But this means that you are not interpreting Tanach. You are over-writing it. When one looks at the passages, they just do not say the things you would like them to say. When you write that Melchizedek is the “King-Priest who offered sacrifice,” you do not get this from Torah. Torah does not emphasize or even mention Melchizedek bringing sacrifices. That focus comes from outside Torah. In this way, it is true that Melchizedek is an invention of the Church, not because he did not exist, but the meaning ascribed to him by the Church is not found in the Torah.
Addressing your point two above:
Frequently, you substitute a question for an argument. That question implies an answer, which means that it is not a legitimate question at all. It is not an act of interpretation, but rather an act of insinuation. You write, for example, that Moses saw a similitude and ask: “Who was He, if not God in the Absolute?” But the question is improper: it assumes the answer. This is because, once again, you are not attempting to understand Torah. Instead, you are using it to support a doctrine that is a later invention of the Church.
One proof of this is that, from Torah, one does not come to an idea of trinity, tri-unity, three-in-oneness, or whatever term you choose to employ. If one read the Torah and believed that this or that angel was part of the godhead or a burning bush was or any of the other supposed theophanies, one would have no indication of the number of persons in the godhead. If one read these as appearances of God, he could have innumerable beings in the godhead. The number three is arrived at by later Church doctrine, an invention of the Church just as the meaning poured into a priesthood like Melchizedek’s.
That same Church invention is from where you get your questions. They assume the answer that God is really not one but three (but also one). These questions are used for rhetorical purposes but not to gain insight into the text. Certainly, it would be appropriate to ask what it means that Moses saw a similitude, but this is not what you ask. You begin with your definition of what the similitude must be, so that the question is not a question at all, but an implication.
Let us treat your implication as an interpretation. We will say that one possible reading of Moses seeing an image is that there is a visible person of the godhead and an invisible person of the godhead (at least one of each). Then, let us test this interpretation in light of what Torah says. In Exodus 20, God says that Israel shall have no other God before Him. In Deut. 4:35 and again in v. 39, it says that there is none other beside God. In Deut. 6:4, it is stated that God is one. These are all clear statements, suitable for interpreting the similitude seen by Moses precisely because of their clarity. They all deny your interpretation, that invention of the Church. Some other explanation must be found.
In order to justify its fanciful claims, the Church has resorted to word games. It will say that it does not deny that God is one, but affirms it. But this is clearly not the case, as your own assertions have shown. It is clear that when one has a visible being and an invisible being that one has two beings. They are not one. Calling them one is an abuse of language. It does not make a difference if one says that he means that the three are one, because in saying so, one has not said anything. This is why the Church calls the trinity a mystery—another abuse of language, mystery and nonsense are two different concepts.
Your arguments perpetuate these words games. Because you do not have a clear expression of the Word of God as a person, as you do in the NT, you subtly alter the language as it suits your purpose. You will use the term “Word,” because it how the Greek term “logos” is most often translated. But the Torah does not employ the word in the same way that John 1:1 does. So, in other comments you exchange the term “Word” for something vaguer, like “Message.” You use this less concrete term to draw upon the book of Proverbs, where wisdom is personified in a metaphor. By exchanging “Message” for “Word,” you obscure the fact that Torah does not teach that God’s Word is a living being. This concept is another invention of the Church rather than the teaching of Torah.
A clear contrast emerges between the teaching of the Church and the teaching of the Torah. The Torah says clearly that God is alone. The Church takes a passage that does not say that God is three and assumes it means that God is three. This may be seen most clearly in the contrast between your doctrine of a visible member of the godhead and the lesson Torah impresses upon the reader. Deut. 4 emphasizes that the people saw no form and should not associate one with God. You bring the exact opposite message, saying that Moses saw a form, and therefore one should worship a human being. The Torah appeals to the common experience; you appeal to a private experience from which you were excluded. You have inverted the message of the Torah.
This inversion, because it rests upon an experience from which you were excluded, demands of you to make claims to which you have no knowledge. You did not see what Moses saw. You have no idea what that was. You cannot compare “the similitude” to Jesus, because you did not see either one. Your argument is rooted in ignorance. The claim that Moses saw Jesus is just that, a mere claim, with nothing to substantiate it. It is the fancy of the Church.
Charles, a terrible fraud has been perpetrated against you. The Torah tells us to devote ourselves to God. It tells us that He is alone. It tells us that we are not to associate him with anything in creation. The Church tells you the opposite of these things. It tells you to devote yourself to a man. It tells you that the godhead is multiple beings. It teaches you to associate god with a created being. The Church has substituted something for God and given it to you as an object of worship. But you need not worship a man.
Briefly addressing your third point above:
You wrote: “I did not say Zimri offered a sacrifice…”
Nor did I say that you did. If you the comment to which I linked, I think you will see that I have addressed your argument. Reading the Torah as a book of types and shadows leads you to liken Zimri to Jesus, a comparison I would not think you would like to make. If you take the incident with Zimri to be a proof that a human being can be an atoning sacrifice, then you imply that Jesus was a sinner, whose death was necessary to put an end to the evil that he perpetuated. What you have is the opposite of the message of the NT, which is that the innocent is killed on behalf of the guilty.
It is one more instance of you attempting to derive from the Torah a message that is the exact opposite of that in the Torah.
I made a comment which has been rejected (perhaps because there were 4 links in it)
In short, the comments above simply betray extraordinary ignorance of the long history of philo-semitic evangelical Christian Zionism.
If you want a Jewish author’s account try this link:
Though the phenomenon antedated this history and political activism for restablishing national Israel was pursued often in the teeth of rabbinic Jews both in Israel, Europe and the US, whose short term personal interests seemed threatened, yet backed by Evangelical Gentiles and Messianic Jews decades before Herzl.
That this history has been airbrushed away itself is illuminating and interesting.
charles soper On what foundation do you base your slanderous charge that the reason rabbinic Jews opposed the Zionist movement was for personal interests?
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
The historians’ testimony in the sources I’ve cited and in the other page.
It is not my opinion but that of others.
It looks like Charles might be taking a break, but nevertheless I would like to address the question of theophanies in Scripture because he keeps raising it as, in his view, the most excruciatingly, painfully clear evidence for the worship of Jesus.
And I’m going to say, it makes no difference. It makes no difference if Charles’s interpretation of the interchangeable use of words for God and angel means God appeared as a man. It makes no difference if a prophet describes a vision in which he sees God. In fact, even if the Bible were to explicitly state that God took on the appearance of a man it would not matter. It would not matter if God appeared as a man in every verse.
These arguments are entirely irrelevant to how we worship God. You see, God Himself taught us exactly how to worship Him. The Revelation at Mount Sinai and Moses’s teaching in Deuteronomy 4 make it painfully, obviously, excruciatingly clear that we must never worship God in any shape or form.
Therefore, Charles’s laborious arguments are irrelevant and beside the point. They cannot refute the Torah’s teaching that one may not worship God as a man, or a man as God.
In his gut, Charles knows this to be true. God appears in fire and cloud several times in the Bible. For example, He appears to Moses in a burning bush. He leads the Israelites through the desert in a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud during the day. We read of references to God as “a destroying fire” and “clouds of glory.” Yet Charles would agree that anyone worshiping a trinity of God the father, God the fire, and God the cloud is committing idolatry. On the other hand, he would not be able to rationally justify the difference between this and his own worship.
Folks, it appears that Charles has left without answering a single one of my challenges. I do not know if this is because he cannot counter them, but it is difficult to escape that conclusion. Whatever the case may be, in this post I shall issue a rebuke to Charles for his one-sided reading of Scripture.
There is a strange verse in the Book of Jeremiah: “Go and call out in the ears of Jerusalem, saying: so said the Lord: I remember to you the lovingkindness of your youth, the love of your nuptials, your following Me in the desert, in a land not sown” (2:2). If I were a Christian reading this, I would be slapping my forehead and yelling, “What?!” Because, as a Christian, I would have taken great care to follow the record of the sins of Israel, and it starts right there, upon leaving Egypt. Sin after sin, rebellion after rebellion, are recorded in the book of Exodus and throughout the rest of books of the Bible. So what is God talking about?
This is a non issue for Jews, who are the target audience of the Bible. As any writer worth his salt knows, you must know your target audience and craft your message such that your audience will understand what you want to convey. God, the ultimate Writer, crafted the Torah’s message to be understood by the people of Israel, who would read its words through the frame of their collective, national experience.
The target audience of the Torah understands that it is not a history book, merely recording past events. Instead, it is a book of self-criticism. The point of Tanach is to instruct the Jewish people on correct actions and behavior, to develop character, to come close to God. There is not much to be learned from reading praises about ourselves; thus praise is used sparingly. But there is much to be learned from our past wrongdoings; thus our sins are emphasized.
The Torah was an astounding departure from the records of all other ancient cultures. Not one other nation or group undertook to write a book of reflective self-criticism and then preserve it for the ages. Something for Christians to keep in mind is that the very Israelites described in such pejorative terms throughout Scripture are the very ones who took great pains to preserve the searing rebukes of their prophets.
If a Christian were to look past the surface–but not very much past the surface–he could find support for this. For example, the Book of Judges spans a period of roughly 400 years. This book records the sins of Israel, one sin after the other. A pattern emerges whereby Israel sins, God punishes her by setting her enemies upon her, a judge arises who defeats the enemy, and a period of peace follows. If one were to count the years of the peaceful periods in which Israel did right in the eyes of God, the sum would roughly amount to 300 years (these are rough estimates). Thus, the track record of the Israelites is roughly 75% good, 25% bad. That’s a pretty decent track record. But you wouldn’t know that from just a cursory reading. A cursory reading with a Christian bias against Jews like Charles’s would lead you to believe that Israel is simply awful and wicked. Makes you think a bit, doesn’t it, Charles?
Even worse, you failed to learn the lesson of Balaam.
To summarize, the king of Moab, Balak, wants to destroy the Children of Israel, so he sends a request to the gentile prophet Balaam to curse Israel for him in the hope that a curse will weaken Israel sufficiently to facilitate its destruction.
Three times Balaam tries to curse Israel, and three times God places a blessing in his mouth.
Despite the persistent attempts of Balak and Balaam, God allows Balaam only to praise Israel.
This is mystifying if only because the story comes smack in the middle of multiple accounts of Israel’s wrongdoings. Preceding this incident, the people complain bitterly of the lack of water, leading Moses to label them rebels. Shortly thereafter, God strikes the people with fiery serpents for speaking out against God and Moses. Following this incident, the people intermingle with the Moabites, worshiping their gods and having relations with their women.
Yet God forces Balaam to say, “He [God] perceived no iniquity in Jacob, and saw no perversity in Israel. The Lord, his God, is with him, and the friendship of the King is in him” (Numbers 23:21).
This is remarkable!
Why would God have Balaam say this? There is a lesson here, folks, and it is a lesson for gentiles. Balaam teaches us the lesson in his forced acknowledgment: “Those who bless you are blessed and those who curse you are accursed” (Numbers 24:9).
God has not given permission to the gentiles and to those who stand outside the community of Israel to criticize His firstborn son Israel. Those who do so, do so at their own peril. In Numbers 24:9 they have been warned. They are cursed.
Charles, please take note of the lesson of Balaam.
You write about “unsanctified reason” and imply that those of us that do not believe in Jesus are motivated by self-righteousness. You write that we wish to glorify ourselves rather than God. I know that many would be tempted to object to your use of ad hominem, but that is of no interest to me. What concerns me is that you seem to have no understanding of the position that is contrary to yours. Your arguments fail time and again, not only to answer our objections, but to even address them. The rejection of the Christian claims is based on a devotion to God, on the recognition that our loyalty, obedience, and worship belong only to Him.
In order to help you understand, it might be useful to perform a thought experiment. Imagine that a man or woman today began declaring himself to be the only way to God. Imagine that he declares teachings unknown to your prior understanding of Christianity. He claims, perhaps, that he must complete the work only begun by Jesus, and until he completes that work, Jesus cannot return. He will say things like, “No one can come to the son, except through me.” (I recommend you read R’ Blumenthal’s “Charolite Trilogy” to get a feel for what this might look like.) This person introduces teachings that rely upon misrepresentations of the NT, passages taken out-of-context or mistranslated, passages he claims are to be understood in ways in which they have not been understood for the past 2,000 years. I find it unlikely that you would readily accept this person as a further revelation of the godhead or the completion of Jesus’ work or any teaching foreign to the understanding of the Church.
But then, the question is: why do you reject his claims? This teacher will tell you why. He will tell you that the reason you do not accept his claims is because you never really loved Jesus; you have been a poser all this time, pretending to love Jesus but really only loving yourself. He will say that the reason that you do not recognize his claims is due to your hard-heartedness, your love of your own opinion and attachment to your sin. He will say that if you really loved Jesus, then you would acknowledge this new teacher, for Jesus’ teachings referred to him. He will pronounce dire warnings over your head of the coming destruction that awaits you if you do not repent and turn to him.
However, this would not be a fair representation of your position, would it? I believe that you would say that you reject this teacher, precisely because of your love of Jesus. You do not accept a substitute. You do not accept distortions of Jesus’ words or the gospels or the epistles. You might even claim that such distortions would not be necessary if this new teacher were really the underlying message of the New Testament. You will see it as faithfulness to reject the claims of a charlatan, however much he might call it faithlessness.
And, it is no different for us. It is devotion to God that motivates us to defend His Torah from those that distort it. It is devotion to God that prohibits us from worshiping anyone or anything else. And it is devotion to God that drives us to observe His commandments, not a sense of our own righteousness, the conviction that whole of man is “to fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecc. 12:13). And when we do not keep His commandments, we repent, trusting in God’s mercy and great kindness, renewing our devotion to Him. Only when you begin to understand this, will you begin to understand the nature of our disagreement.