A Chain Cannot be Stronger than its Weakest Link – Response to David

This letter is a response to David’s comments – you can read them here –

2015/01/26 at 11:25 am     2015/01/26 at 5:33 pm

David

I find this conversation to be most instructive so I have taken the liberty of making it into its own post. I will request that no one comment on this post unless it is directly related to the subject at hand.

We disagree over several points. You take issue with my assertion that the office of prophecy is subject to the Law of Moses and thus subject to decisions made by the authorized arbitrators of the Law of Moses.

There are two different points that we disagree about.

1 – A) The entire concept of prophecy being under any jurisdiction sounds wrong to you. Isn’t prophecy God talking – how could God be placed under anybody’s jurisdiction? B) As a derivative of this position you believe that prophets can deliver a new Law while I believe that prophets cannot deliver a new law without contradicting the Law of Moses. C) I am not sure if you stated the following but its seems that you believe that Moses has no more authority than any other prophet – after all it is all God’s word so how can one word be more authoritative than another. D) You further believe that the obligation to obey a prophet is a duty toward God that stands apart from the Law of Moses while I believe that the obligation to obey a prophet is dictated by the Law of Moses.

2 – You don’t believe that the arbitrators of the Law have any authority aside from disputes that are presented to them in the realm of bloodshed or perhaps monetary disputes. You seem to believe that any aspect of the Law in which the Scriptures do not explicitly grant the arbitrators authority is outside of the jurisdiction of the arbitrators.

We also disagree about the canonization of Scripture. Since you believe that the Law does not legislate anything about the office of prophecy – this brings you to the conclusion that the Law of Moses provided no guidance on the canonization process and that the arbitrators of the Law played no role in this process. When I asked you for the basis of your acceptance of Scripture you responded – because the books themselves show that they are from God and because the Jewish people accepted the books of Scripture.

I demonstrated to you that these answers are not answers. A chain cannot be stronger than its weakest link. If your acceptance of Scripture is based on your own assessment of the books – then whenever you are quoting Scripture – you are in essence quoting yourself – it is as if you are saying: this book is God-given because I so decided so you better obey what it says here. There is no reason that anyone should take you seriously when you quote Scripture to them. Your second answer is no answer because you have not provided a reason to accept that which the Jewish people accepted.

Another area in which we disagree surfaced in your last comment and that is that you believe that the new covenant spoken of by Jeremiah must mean a new Law. The Scriptures testify against this belief of yours as we shall see.

When I say that the Law has jurisdiction over prophecy I obviously do not mean that the Law dictates to God how He should or shouldn’t speak to the people. What I mean is that the Law dictates to the people how they should receive or reject claims to prophecy.

The Law of Moses dictates to the people when it is that they should reject a claim to prophecy. This in and of itself tells us that the status of Moses as a prophet is inherently higher than that of subsequent prophets. To illustrate – if a prophet arises and stops the sun in the sky as did Joshua and then claims that a prophet could have a prediction fail to come to pass and still be an authentic prophet – Moses tells us that this man is a liar. And we believe Moses over this man because of Exodus 19:9.

Now, again, God’s word is God’s word and there is no hierarchy in God’s word but the credibility of Moses as a prophet was more openly established by God than God would do for any subsequent prophet. Therefore, if a prophet attempts to establish his or credibility through a miracle and then contradict Moses, we know that the miracle is a test from God to see if we love Him and God does not want us to follow the teaching of this new prophet.

We know that Moses’ law is eternal because Deuteronomy 30 makes it clear that even into the time of restoration it is Moses’ Law that is relevant (see also Deuteronomy 29:28 and Malachi 3:22). No authentic prophet ever gave us a new set of rules to follow. They predicted that various things will happen but they did not give a new set of instructions. Their instructions were always to follow the Law that has already been given to us. In some instances the prophets gave instructions that were relevant to the people they were talking to on a short term basis – and obedience to these prophetic directives is subsumed under the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15.

Your “proof” from Jeremiah 26:4,5 fails simply because the word “and” is not present making it clear that obedience to the prophet is subsumed under the Law. Furthermore, if this would be proof that obedience to a prophet is separate from the Law then you would have to acknowledge that observance of the Sabbath is separate from the Law as “evidenced” from Ezekiel 20:11,12 as well as Nehemiah 9:12,13. It is obvious that the fact that when one detail of the Law is stated apart from the general Law it is still subsumed under the general Law.

Now, I acknowledge that God didn’t have to operate this way. Before Moses came along God delivered instructions through prophets that He expected people to keep (such as to Noah and Abraham). And God delivered messages to nations that are not under the Law of Moses through prophets (such as Jonah’s message to Nineveh). But since Israel was granted the Law of Moses, God dictated all of their activities including the reaction to claims to prophecy, through the Law of Moses.

Now let us approach your problem with the authority that I attribute to the arbitrators of the Law. First let me attempt to articulate my position in this matter. My understanding is that the Law is applicable both to individuals and to communities. Just as an individual needs to use his or her faculties of comprehension of the Law when confronted with a situation such as a claim to prophecy and this individual is enjoined by God through the Law of Moses to set aside other persuasions, this same applies on the level of the community.

For purpose of illustration:

A prophet arises and claims that he was sent by God. As a sign that he was sent by God, this prophet stops the sun in middle of the sky for six whole hours. Then a minor prediction of this prophet fails to materialize. The magnitude of the miracle of stopping the sun may persuade us to ignore the failed prediction but the Law dictates otherwise. If the person would choose to follow God they would be exercising their power to comprehend the Law and to apply it.

When a community attempts to obey the Law they also turn to their communal ability to comprehend the Law and to apply it and this ability resides with the arbitrators of the Law. Not because of their authority, but because these are the people that the community recognizes as possessing a superior understanding of both the spirit and the letter of the Law. Yes, I agree, that if an individual sees that the arbitrators of the law are ruling against the Law then this individual is obligated to reject their decision. But God’s promise to our community is that there will always be a covenant community that is loyal to Him and to His Law so there will always be arbitrators of the Law that are in line with God’s Law.

When the Law dictates that we execute a violator of the Law it is clear that this injunction is an injunction to the community and not to every individual – the commandment of Deuteronomy 16:18 makes no sense otherwise. A community is not a mob. It functions under guidance of leaders.

In a situation where the recognized central leadership of Israel rendered a decision then the Law of Deuteronomy 17:11 would require that we obey that decision. If as you claim that this is limited to matters of bloodshed and monetary disputes – why would the one who disobeys them be put to death? Let him pay up.

The reason I accept Scripture is because I trust that God guided the covenant community right when they rendered their decision on these prophets and their books. But you believe that the covenant community can be completely mistaken – I know this because you accept Jesus, a man who was rejected by the covenant community. This being the case, you have no basis for accepting the Jewish Scripture. Your argument that the Jewish followers of Jesus represent the true covenant community was refuted by God when He allowed the covenantal signs of Sabbath observance and circumcision to disappear from that community.

One last point before I close off- a new covenant is not a new law. If it would be a new law you would need to find a new law in Deuteronomy 28:69 and in 2Kings 23;3, – and since there is none – it is obvious that a new covenant simply means a new commitment not a new law.

I imagine you will take issue with what I have written here and I encourage you to keep on writing. Please try to articulate why you disagree with me. Because it is discussions such as these that lead us all to greater clarity and to a deeper understanding of the truth.

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

 

 

 

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42 Responses to A Chain Cannot be Stronger than its Weakest Link – Response to David

  1. An interesting discussion. I would agree basically with the Rabbi about the Law of Moses and the community and its leaders. I also agree that a New Covenant and a New Law (as in novelty) are not the same. The term New Law could only be used to mean a deeper penetration, interpretation and application of the Torah (Law). There is only one Torah of God and the New Covenant allows for a deeper heart penetration of that Torah (both oral and written). Pope Benedict XVI taught that the New Covenant is the prolongation of the Covenant of Sinai, which is not abrogated by the New Covenant but renewed by it. Thus when the term New is used in regard to both Covenant and Law it is in the sense of renewed not novelty.

    In regards to prophecy we must be careful to not say a prophecy is false just because it hasn’t been fulfilled as we thought it would be. We may have misunderstood or misinterpreted that prophecy and how and when it would be fulfilled. The prophecy about the generation not passing away has been interpreted many ways. One way is one that is consistent with the text that the ‘generation’ that won’t pass away is the generation that sees the fig tree blossom (the restoration of Judah and Jerusalem). Another way is that this ‘ generation’ refers to the lamed-vavniks who are the ones that live in Divine Will perfectly and are mystically able to be present in every generation. Another that the events referred to was the events of 70 AD. etc

    • Brother Gilbert
      Thank you for your respectful and relevant comment. You bring to light the point I was trying to make – a failed prophecy will never lack for excuses. Followers of false prophets rarely abandon their heroes upon the failure of their prophecies to materialize – instead they come up with interpretations to explain the failure.
      This brings us to a question – how can we determine if the interpretation is valid or if it is just an excuse?
      One way of getting to the bottom of the issue is by examining the people who accepted or invented the interpretation – were these the people that society looked to as examples of loyalty to God and His holy Law? were these people who embodied the Psalmists ideal of having God’s Law be the lamp for their every step? or were these people to whom God’s Law meant little – but their loyalty to the claimant to prophecy meant everything?

      • I have no real desire to argue this point from a fundamentalist or literalistic interpretation as I believe all Scripture has 70 faces and for me this is a question of biblical opinion and discussion. The community that declared the Gospels as part of Scripture were all ‘zealous for the Torah’ as recorded in Acts 21. I believe that this New Covenant community was both loyal to God and his Holy Torah however in accord with the Hillel tradition of the Pharisees the New Covenant community did not see Jewish Torah observance was necessary for Gentiles to attain the World to Come. Through the korban of Mashiach the Gentiles (goyim) share in the inheritance of Israel (they in no way replace Israel but they become an extension of Israel). They are also called to Torah observance differently, as that appropriate to Gentiles and adapted to their own cultural and ethnic traditions. I say this not to convince you to change your beliefs or community but so you can understand what others believe. I believe in Torah and mitzvot and their eternal value and validity and the call or election of the Jewish people to witness to God through them for the sake of the whole world. I support and encourage you to do so under the authority of the Mosaic tradition as interpreted by your Jewish community in accord with your conscience. As a Jew in the Catholic Church I adhere to both the Mosaic and New Covenant traditions in accord with the teaching authority of the Church and my conscience. There are many Jews in the Catholic Church and it would be more profitable for the Jewish community and rabbis to stop trying to convince them not to believe in Yeshua, Miriam and Joseph and accept that they do and help them to become reconnected or deepen their Jewish observances of Torah and mitzvot as a collective of Jews in the Church and in their homes. Just as most Jews tolerate the Chabad’s beliefs about Rebbe Schneurson why not tolerate the beliefs of the Catholic and Messianic Jews about Yeshua while working towards greater Jewish observance and collective identity which would lessen intermarriage.

        • Dina says:

          Brother–for real! I didn’t realize we were family :). I have a few questions, if I may.

          1. You wrote, “I believe in Torah and mitzvot and their eternal value and validity and the call or election of the Jewish people to witness to God through them for the sake of the whole world.” As a Christian Jew, what does this mean to you? For which Jews are Torah and mitzvot an obligation, and which Jews may reject them in favor of Christianity? I’m confused by this statement coming from a Jew who holds that Jews and Gentiles “are also called to Torah observance” in different ways.

          2. You also wrote that Jews should accept their brethren in the church so as to deepen their Jewish observance and reduce intermarriage. I guess my question here is, why is it important to you that Christian Jews observe Jewish practices and not intermarry?

          I appreciate your taking the time!

          Peace and blessings,
          Dina

          • Dear Dina, Thanks for the questions you are putting me to work. I believe that the Jewish people as a collective are called to Torah and mitzvot and its application will be different to each depending on sex, age, status, background and life situation. Each Jew should try to do their best to be as observant as they are able and that includes all Jews including Messianic, Christian or Catholic Jews. I do not believe in the assimilation model of Jews entering the church that was the policy for almost 1500 years. We should be free to maintain our identity, and Jewish customs and observances as a community within the Community of the Messiah (Church) and preserve our Jewishness.Today the Catholic Church allows us that freedom. I realise most orthodox Jews would not want to marry a Catholic Jew but like the Marranoes and Frankists of the past we should marry with other Catholic Jews if possible. I always encourage my Jewish male friends who aren’t Christians to marry a Jewish girl so that their children will be Jewish. I also do not believe in proselyting or even active evangelisation targeted to Jews (nor does the Association of Hebrew Catholics or its founder Father Elias Friedman). I am happy to share my views with others if they are interested and leave it at that- I am more into prayer and mysticism and I study the Zohar and Rebbe Nachman. I think of myself as a Catholic Jew who is a talmid of Rebbe Nachman my ancestor. I hope that answered your questions. For many years I have done my best to be a voice for Jewish observance in the Hebrew Catholic community. I do meet and study regularly with the Chabad Rabbi too and support him as much as I can as here in Tasmania we have a tiny Jewish community. I have been in Tasmania for about a year. I also teach the Jewish roots of the Catholic Faith to Catholics and try to break down any anti Jewish or anti-israel prejudices among Catholics.

        • Brother Gilbert
          You declare that you adhere to both the Mosaic and New Covenant traditions as a member of the Catholic Church – This is a contradiction in terms. Our nation has been called upon to testify to the world that all of finite existence (including Jesus) owes every iota of worship to the One Creator of all – a belief that the Catholic Church rejects so you are living one tradition while ignoring the other.
          One other point – who told you that the community that was “zealous for the Law” ever accepted the gospels or the letters of Paul?

          • Dear Rabbi,

            You don’t seem to understand what Catholics believe. Our Catechism states that the Old Covenant has never been revoked. It is difficult in a few lines to explain the Catholic beliefs. However in the Catholic Church there have been different theological opinions and schools of thought that one is free to hold until the Church guided by Ruach hakodesh decides an issue in a definitive manner. Catholics believe in the ‘development of doctrine’ as taught by Blessed John Henry Newman, in which we enter into a deeper and richer understanding of our teachings. For example in the past some Catholics taught that the Jews were deicides (killers of God) and I sure many Jewish people remember being called Christ killers. However since Vatican II and further developments- in the magisterial teachings Catholics are forbidden to believe or teach that the Jews are deicides or that all Jews are Christ killers- in fact anything that is antisemitic or anti-Judaism must be repent for and removed. Pope John Paul II apologised for all the terrible things done against the Jewish people by certain Catholics in the name of Christ and the Church. Of course many Catholics have not caught up with the teachings of the recent Popes and the magisterium and some cling to outworn theological opinions but the Catholic Church and Catholics in general have come along way in a short time. you say “Our nation has been called upon to testify to the world that all of finite existence (including Jesus) owes every iota of worship to the One Creator of all – a belief that the Catholic Church rejects so you are living one tradition while ignoring the other.” Catholics would agree with you and Jesus in his manhood (created nature) does and did owe worship to the One God. Jesus for us is not a man who became God (that would be impossible) but God who took on human flesh without confusing or dividing the human and divine natures. Catholics affirm that God is Echad and I recite the Shema everyday. Catholics believe that the 3 sparkling lights (tzachtzachhot) within the Godhead are 3 uncreated partzufim. One of these Partzufim (the Son or Heavens) manifested as the Adam Kadmon the blessing (Bereikah) who descends who is called Y-H-V-H. In Catholic belief according to the will of the Father (the hidden Y-h-V-h or Ain sof) descended even further than being manifest in Asiyah but taking flesh in asiyah as the Mashiach and then in his death going even further in his descent in to the world of the klippot. For me and many other Catholic Jews do not see any opposition in Catholic beliefs when understood in the light of the Jewish mystical and Hasidic traditions which are much closer to Catholicism than the Litvak or Dati Leumi. The Tanya also teaches that the Mashiach is Y-h-v-h and as does Isaiah which is why some Lubavitch who believe the Rebbe is the Messiah also believe he is God. Catholics also believe that the Messiah’s mission to earth is in two main phases in his first coming he came as Mashiach ben Joseph and as suffering priestly Messiah and he will one day return in his role as Mashiach ben David as king when he will complete his mission. The Mashiach is the breath of the nostrils and just as their are two nostrils in one nose so we believe that Mashiach ben Joseph and Mashiach ben David are the one Mashiach of God. That doesn’t mean that their aren’t other more human Mashiachs and the Mashiach Ephraim as the anointed of War we would associate with the Great Monarch of Catholic prophecy. I don’t wish to convince of the truth of this but just to explain in Jewish terminology why some Jews who revere Moses and the Torah can also be Catholics. I am sure you will have your own way of understanding this. In my experience most Jews who become Catholics are not Catholics because they were argued into it but they had some kind of mystical experience in which they were taken out of the box of Judaism and had an encounter with the Mashiach or his mother or Ruach ha kodesh that went not outside the bounds of Judaism but beyond into the level of “the spirit of the law”.

    • Sharbano says:

      It’s not Only generation that is spoken of. It also says those who were standing right in front of Jsus, they would not die before the fulfillment. It is pretty clear everyone, including the authors, thought the end of Rome would be coming. It’s no wonder the Jews left the religion shortly thereafter, since no fulfillment was forthcoming.

    • Dina says:

      Brother Gilbert, it’s important to understand that God entrusted the people of Israel with preserving His truth (Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 59:21; Psalms 78:5). This one tiny nation was the only group of people to possess the truth about God in a pagan world. It was also the only people, entrusted with a special mission, to reject Jesus.

      Deuteronomy 13 addresses the people of Israel. It is this people, and no other, who determine the veracity of a prophet’s claims.

      • Dear Dina, I agree with you that Israel was entrusted with such a mission of preserving his truth and that before the rise of Christianity and Islam they were alone in that task.

        If the Jewish people were entrusted with a special mission to reject Jesus then I have no interest in Judaism. Your ideas would not be in accord with those like Rabbi Jacob Emden who considered both Jesus and Paul as good and holy Rabbis. As I don’t believe that is the mission of Judaism to reject Jesus but that its mission is to be light to the nations and a priestly people of service to the nations I remain connected to Judaism. Just as if I thought the special mission of Christianity was to reject Moses than I wouldn’t be interested in it.

        I hope to listen to both Moses and the prophet like unto Moses (Mashiach).

        • Dina says:

          Dear Brother,

          You misunderstand me. The Jewish people were entrusted with preserving God’s truth. This means that others should seriously reconsider any belief rejected by the Jewish people. This is not specific to Jesus but also includes Mohammed, Hare Krishna, Buddha, and so on.

          I hope that clarifies!

          Best wishes,
          Dina

          • Dear Dina, I think the emphasis should be on God’s truth not the rejecting of others. However I do find it inconsistent at the tolerant attitude given to Jews who are into Buddhism than those into Christianity. What is it that you reject about Jesus? that he is the Mashiach? or he hasn’t yet fulfilled certain Messianic tasks? as one Jewish teaching states that Mashiach can come from among the living or the dead- how do you know that he is definitely not Jesus or Rebbe Schneurson or Rebbe Nachman etc? Are you open to the possibility that when Mashiach comes to the Jewish people that he might have one of their faces? Some Jews like Cordevero believed that Mashiach would be from the Marranoes so who knows he may be a Catholic Jew. (haha). What about Mashiach ben Yosef , Mashiach Ephraim, Mashiach Menachem, Mashiach ben David etc? I think the question of the Messiah is still fairly wide open- the Litvaks and Dati Leumi idea of Mashiach is very different to the kabbalists and the Hasidim. I may be wrong and you right but one day we will know when we behold him face to face.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Brother,

            I’m very sorry, I realize that I was not honoring the rabbi’s request to comment strictly on the topic at hand. So, to get back on track, you wrote that you mostly agree with this article. According to this article, then, who has the authority to establish that a prophet’s claims are true or false? Do you agree or disagree, and why? I hope you don’t mind my asking.

            I guess that’s what it really boils down to.

            My apologies to Rabbi B. for going off topic.

  2. oops we sure have. I believe ultimately the community and its teaching authorities (Sanhedrin) have that duty if one wishes to remain a full member of that community. However when it comes to prophets the community and its leaders may get it wrong and need to evaluate and change their ruling at a future date (like they did about the Hasidim). It is the community that comes first and is given the Torah or other prophets teachings and are the final interpreters of the text and its applications for the community. Oral torah is just as important as written Torah they go hand in hand.

    • Dina says:

      I agree with much of what you wrote here, Brother. I can see that my mind is already going in a million different directions, but as this is not my blog, out of respect to Rabbi B. and the audience, I should continue this conversation with you privately–if you are agreeable. In fact, I would be honored! If you would like to correspond with me privately, you can get my email address from Rabbi B. at yourphariseefriend@gmail.com.

      Thanks, it’s been a pleasure!

      Peace and blessings,
      Dina

  3. Brother Gilbert
    You are correct in stating that the community needs to reevaluate their rulings – but in the case of Jesus – history has only confirmed our original decision over and over again and nothing has surfaced that would make a dent in our decision – according to both standards that God granted us – he fails as a prophet.

    • Dear Rabbi I know of no official Jewish ruling saying Jesus was a false prophet unless you mean the illegal political and aristocratic Sanhedrin called at night controlled by Saducees and Shammai Pharisees that condemned Jesus. Gamaliel the head of the Rabbinic Sanhedrin gave a tolerant counsel about the early Yeshua movement. That Jewish people have rejected a Gentilised version of Jesus telling them to abandon Torah and mitzvot i concur with them-I also reject this image of the Messiah.Yeshua,Miriam and Yosef were Torah devout and observant Jews their whole lives. Miriam haKedosha didn’t wake up on the day after the Resurrection and eat pork and oysters for breakfast.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Brother Gilbert, Maimonides rules that Christianity is idolatry even though he says the actions of the creator are beyond human comprehension due to G-d’s using Christianity and Islam to spread knowledge of the messianic idea to the Gentiles. He says to paraphrase, “can there be a greater stumbling block than this Jesus. All the prophets of Israel prophecied that Israel would be gathered from exile, and have peace with the nations, but since the coming of Jesus, the people have been put to the sword and driven to distant lands all over the world.” Basically, a very rough paraphrase, but it gives the gist. There are also too many theological differences between Judaism and Christianity for Jews to really find anything legitimately Jewish about Christianity. The trinity poses problems to Jews for G-d’s unity (Deuteronomy 6:4), iconography and Eucharistic adoration are hugely problematic, (due to prohibitions against images.) Contrary to popular belief, even if G-d initially sanctions the use of a particular image (such as the brass serpent, or temple vessels,) if the people go too far in their use, it is regarded as idolatrous. Hence, the rabbis’ focus on the incorporeality of G-d. Original Sin poses a problem for G-d’s justice In light of Ezekiel and texts like Genesis 4:6-7.

        • Dear all, I did not come here to argue back and forth points and things that we disagree about which I seem to be getting drawn into. My purpose was to see what we have in common and how we can work together to build something new in which we don’t seek to proselytize each other but draw all Jews to Torah and mitzvot whatever the community they belong to. Maybe I am too idealistic or ahead of my time but I pray for that time when we are not so busy attacking those Jews who are of a different opinion to us and focus on sharing the joy and life that being a Torah observant Jew can bring instead of a guilt ridden legalistic approach to Torah and mitzvot that has driven many Jews away from the Torah and mitzvot. And I might add the same approach in Catholicism has driven many away as well. What we need is the Azamra approach of Rebbe Nachman.

          • Dina says:

            No, no, Brother, this is not about arguing or attacking. This is about discovering the truth. What could be more important? Nothing higher than our precious souls is at stake in this game. If you are committed to the truth–and I hope you are–then you will join the fray rather than seek to rise above it.

          • Dear Dina, thanks but i wont answer that here as it is probably off track and I should have posted what I said on the other page not here.

  4. A new covenant means ‘a new commitment not a new law’. That would simply be a renewal of the old covenant, what the prophets promise is a new covenant, distinct from the old, just as the Sinaitic was distinct from that with the patrarchs or the later one with David. (Deut.5.3,, 2 Sam.7.9, 23.5, Ps.89.3,26-8,34, Isa.55.3 ,Jer.31.31-2, Ezek.16.60-62, 37.26, )
    A new covenant implies new not old mediation and a new surety or guarantor, both these changes inevitably involve some change in the law the covenant undergirds and supports, even if only in the interest of preserving and safeguarding the law concerned. The law being supported by and presented under the covenant, not the other way round.
    Furthermore the promise that the New Covenant will always inscribe the law in the heart and conscience so as to impart a real knowledge of and assurance of communion with God, entails a spiritual transformation not universally (if not also usually) effectual to participants in the Old. (Jer.31.31)

    • Charles
      You acknowledge that the word “covenant” does not mean “Law” – its just that you have an argument which you believe is logical that brings you to the conclusion that the new covenant implies a new law – you realize of course that this argument is just based on your own faulty logic and not on Scripture – Scripture itself tells us that the new covenant is the undergirder of the Law of Moses – as I articulated here – https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/the-new-covenant-excerpt-from-supplement-to-contra-brown/

      • Dear Jim,
        Thanks for the effort you put into responding but it is not clear from the text in Matthew that “this generation” is referring to the people he is talking to unless we have stage directions and imagination. The text seems to be referring to the generation that sees the fig blossoming. If one studies the rabbinic texts about prophecies one does not often see them interpreted in any clear manner in context as we like to do with our modern historical-critical approach and it is clear from the New Testament that the apostles and Paul didn’t either.

        As for the sign of Jonah. There are certain Jewish traditions that associate the Mashiach ben Yosef (Messiah son of Joseph) with the story of the woman of Zarephath and her Son who Elijah resurrected from the dead in 1 Kings 17. Raphael Patai a Jewish Israeli scholar in his book “The Messiah Texts” mentions in his chapter on the mother of the Messiah the link with the woman or widow of Zarephath and her Son with the Mother of the Messiah and her Son – the Messiah son of Joseph. Patai quotes from Seder Eliyahu Rabba 18 where the Rabbis are discussing from whom Elijah the prophet descends, whether from the seed of Rachel (meaning from the Tribes of Joseph and Benjamin) or from the seed of Leah (from whom Levi and thus Aaron the first High priest descended). Elijah appears to them and states the he is from the seed of Rachel from the lineage of Benjamin. “…Thereupon they said to him:”if you are not a Kohen [priest]. How, then, could you say to the widow [of Zarephath], Make me a little cake first and bring it forth to me [which is the prerogative of a Kohen] and afterwards make for thee and thy son(1kings 17:13)?” He said to them: “That child [the son of the widow]was none other than Messiah ben Joseph, and I wanted to give a signal to the world that first I go down to Babylonia, and thereafter will come the Messiah.” We see that here the story of the woman of Zarephath is seen as a sign of the coming Messiah who will appear after the Babylonian Exile. We see that the wheaten cakes allude to the Eucharistic mystery, and the son who rises from the dead after Elijah lays on him in the form of a crucifix is a sign of the Messiah who will rise from the dead.

        We also see that in ‘Yalkut Hadash, Mashiach par 22′ that the Jewish traditions also links this story with that of Jonah who was in the belly of the whale for three days. “The son of the widow of Zarephath was Jonah, and he was Messiah ben Joseph.” Thus we see that Jesus’ linking of the Messianic Son of Man with the story of Jonah is found also in the Jewish traditions.

        Obviously you would not see this in the way we do as Catholic Jews. I have a daily intimate personal relationship with the Father through the Mashiach in the Ruach haKodesh (the One God of the Shema) so that I just don’t intellectually believe but I “know” at a depth beyond the intellect and emotions though not opposed to the intellect or emotions. That is not something that I expect you to accept but for me and many others that is our experience and reality. You will probably have success convincing Jewish people who have become Christians through an intellectual approach or pure emotionalism to give Yeshua up but those that have had that deep encounter cannot and will not be convinced by such an approach.

  5. Jim says:

    Brother Gilbert,

    It is evident that in order to test a prophet, their words must not be so full of mystery that they cannot be understood. His words must not be ambiguous like the Prophet of Delphi. Otherwise, no test could be made of them. When the Torah creates a test dependent upon whether or not “a sign or wonder comes to pass,” one must first understand the conditions of the sign or wonder in order to apply the test.

    For these purposes, one cannot appeal to the 70 faces of scripture. First, it is not to be considered scripture until it is tested. Second, any test of the words will be impossible. So, using your example of Jesus’ prophecy that he would return “before this generation passed away,” you cannot know if his prophecy is true, because you do not even know what it is. If you insist that it does not mean that he would come back within 100 years or so after his ascension, then his words are untestable. He cannot be identified by this prophecy as a true prophet.

    From this, you might say that we can also not say that he is a false prophet, and relying on this prophecy alone you would be correct. But one does not rely on the words of an unverified prophet any more than a false prophet. He might have said some very nice things, but we would have no way of knowing if they were prophetic. We are certainly unable to consider him to be a prophet like Moses.

    We do have a second test we could make of him. He did promise (in a rather aggressive tone) a sign to “an adulterous generation,” the sign of Jonah. However, this test he failed. If we accept the testimony of the NT, he never presented himself to the Jewish court after his resurrection. He is supposed to have presented himself privately to a few individuals. Fifty days after his death, they announced that he came back from the dead and that ten days prior to their publicizing his success he ascended into the heavens. But he was not present for this event. He never presented himself. And so he failed the test of a prophet.

    I know that you have proposed another test, that of the mystical experience, but this test we must reject on multiple grounds. First, every religion has people who claim to have mystical experiences. By this test, Buddhism is true and Hinduism is true and Islam is true. Mormons appeal to a burning in the bosom to determine if the words of their prophet are true. Maybe one is not supposed to be a Catholic but one is to be a Mormon.

    Second, such a test would not be accepted as a proof of a truth claim in any other arena. Consider that I came to you and told you that I discovered that 2 + 2 = 5. You know this to be impossible. Will it matter to you that I tell you that I had a mystical experience that tells me that 2 + 2 = 5? I hardly think you will ignore your mind and follow my mystical experience.

    I knew a woman once who told me that she had past live experiences revealed to her through a medium. When I asked her how she knew that they were true, she told me that it was because she had goose bumps. In what other arena of life would this be considered proof? She certainly does not test all truths this way. When she hears that America won its independence from Great Britain, she does not get goose bumps, nor when one tells her their name or where they are from or what they ate for breakfast. Goosebumps and mystical experience are emotional responses that do not guide one to truth.

    Third, the Torah does not prescribe this test. God gave the means for testing a prophet. That test does not include a private mystical experience. It does not rely upon feelings. It rests upon empirical grounds, not emotions.

    When Torah prescribes this test, it makes a separation between the false prophet and the true. You wrote that Judaism should not be defined by the rejection of Jesus, and that it true in a sense. However, while this is not its defining feature, it still must reject Jesus. The test of the prophet tells us that one must kill the false prophet. The Torah makes it clear that one must distinguish the true prophet from the false.

    I must ask you something now by which I hope you will not be offended, but I hope that it lends clarity to my point. When Elijah slew the priests of Baal, would you have opposed him for the sake of inclusion? Would you have said that Judaism is not defined by its rejection of Baal? Forgive me for answering for you, but I do not think so.

    Any adherence to Truth requires a rejection of the false. If one says that he will only embrace the true but not reject the false, he has said nothing. Any admixture of false with true corrupts one’s understanding. He will be unable to cling to the truth, for he will never know what it is.

    The Torah is a book of separation. God commands Israel to be holy, for He is holy. To be holy means to be separate. Likewise the false must be separated from the true. One cannot cling to both. Hashem issued laws on how to identify a true prophet and a false prophet for a reason. He does command that the true prophet should be heeded. But he also commands that one reject the false prophet.

    This means that one must test a prophet. This is a responsibility. For this responsibility to be fulfilled, one must have recourse to test a prophet. If his words are nebulous, then we cannot affirm his prophecy to be true. Nor can this test be conducted internally, through mysticism. The test, as commanded by God is an empirically verifiable, objective, not subjective, and public rather than private. It may not be “nice” to reject Jesus, but it is the responsibility of all those who are interested in truth.

    Jim

  6. Jim
    Thanks for bringing the conversation back on track – to all commenters – please do no comment on this thread unless it is directly related to the subject of determining the verity of a claim to prophecy.
    Brother Gilbert
    I hope to start a different thread to address some of the many points you brought up here. Please feel free to comment on this thread on the subject at hand
    Thank you

  7. Jim says:

    Brother Gilbert,

    Regarding the sign of Jonah, you have missed the point, altogether. It does not matter if Jonah is associated with the messiah in rabbinic literature. I did not address the link between the two or accuse Jesus of misrepresenting Jonah. My point is that he gave a sign to the pharisees who asked for one and then never fulfilled it. He did not come back to them after three days in the grave and show himself to them. He did not fulfill the sign; therefore, he is not a prophet.

    Regarding your mystical experiences, there are two points to consider. One is only a reiteration of what I wrote above, that mystical experiences are not enough to establish truth. If you will reflect on Deuteronomy 13 and 18, you will find that mystical experiences are not the method prescribed by God to establish a prophet. We must ask ourselves, should we listen to God or our own inclinations? Shall we follow God’s laws, judge a prophet according to the test he prescribed, or shall we follow our own laws and invent tests for ourselves? Consider Deuteronomy 13, and how it tells us that God will test us to see if we love him. We can only pass such a test by clinging to his laws and not inventing some for ourselves.

    The second point to consider is that you are here arguing according to reason. The NT presents arguments based on reason (though it is faulty). The Church presents apologetic arguments and urges conversion based on prophecies fulfilled, their interpretation of history and philosophy. Summa Theologica is a vast work based on reason. One cannot rid himself of his mind, nor is he meant to do so. Even the Church does not base itself merely on mystical experiences.

    Be well,

    Jim

  8. David says:

    Hi Yisroel,
    I’m glad you and everyone else on the blog here has made it through the blizzard of 2015. I’m not residing in the U.S. so I sometimes don’t stay abreast of the weather, and other local issues pertaining to the US.

    I’ve been out for a few days and I just read your post.

    This post primarily addresses only your first point I believe and already it is very long so I’ll save the rest for some other time.

    You wrote: A) The entire concept of prophecy being under any jurisdiction sounds wrong to you. Isn’t prophecy God talking – how could God be placed under anybody’s jurisdiction?

    My response: The Law of Moses codifies the standard which was already in use and manifested by God prior to the Law as to what constitutes prophesy. But, it does not codify a process of evaluating the standard. Simply put, the process of recognizing a prophet is NOT codified. I’m all in agreement that it is right that the people of Israel should thoughtfully have considered the esteemed opinion of their leaders when it comes to recognizing a prophet. But there is NO law which states that those who adjudicate disputes have any greater responsibility and authority in recognizing prophecy above that of any other person from the least to the greatest. I is not wrong to consult with an adjudicating body in the question of prophecy and come to a consensus as a people, but their is nothing in the law which requires it or makes any such ruling of said body obligatory on the people.

    Regarding the standard (not the process), the Law codifies the standard of recognizing what is NOT prophecy and therefore who is NOT a prophet; Deuteronomy 13 and 18 pertain. Namely, if one (regardless of who he is, prophet, brother or anyone else) leads others to follow other gods, that person then is not a prophet from God, or if, regarding a prophecy, the thing prophesied in the name of God does not take place or prove true, then that person who made the prophecy in the name of God, has spoken presumptuously, not from God, and is therefore not a prophet of God.

    We can leave aside the issue of idolatry since it is not unique to prophets and prophecies but is applicable to anyone who might lead the people of Israel to follow other gods. I’ve already addressed that in previous posts.

    Deuteronomy 16:18-20 and 17:8-13, which has been argued erroneously that it applies to prophecy, actually codifies a legal and orderly process of adjudicating disputes between the people of Israel. The adjudicating system is divided into two levels; Deuteronomy 16:18-20 is the lower level and Deuteronomy 17:8-13 pertains to the highest level. It may appear at first glance that the process of evaluating the prophecy against the standard (as provided in Deuteronomy 18 that if the thing prophesied does not take place or prove true, such thing is therefore not from God) is legislated and codified within the authority afforded by the cited reference, thus conferring adjudicating responsibility and authority to the arbitrating bodies of the people in the land of Israel.

    But upon close inspection we find that is NOT the case.

    Deuteronomy 17 is limited in scope to include disputes as to one kind of bloodshed and another, one kind of legal right and another, and one kind of assault and another from among the people in the land of Israel which are too difficult for them to decide in their towns that God was to give them (as promised); matters noted above being too difficult to adjudicate at the lower level. The unresolved disputed case then comes to the highest level, to the priest and judge to the house of God (the place which the YHWH would choose) who then issue a ruling from the house of God.

    Now, there was some argument/discussion and I think misunderstanding (between Mr. Blumenthal and myself, for those following here) as to just what constituted examples of authorized matters which would fall under the umbrella of the authority of the arbitrators. We need turn no further than Deuteronomy 17:8. And it reads, “… between one kind of bloodshed and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another – any such matters of dispute in your towns …”

    I think we can all give examples of such disputes which would be considered such as to apply. A prophecy does not fit the description of Deuteronomy 17:8 as being one kind of bloodshed and another, one kind of right and another, or one kind of assault and another. So even if we had an unresolved dispute of prophecy (rather than let’s say, one kind of right and another) between the people in the land of Israel which then came to the priest/judge at the house of God, to then issue a ruling from the house of God, the matter would not fall within their authorized responsibility and authority.

    As I noted above, the practice of adjudicating disputed matters which was later codified at Mount Sinai was already established by Moses. Deuteronomy thus is a codification, expansion and to some extent a modification of the pre-Mount Sinai process. A system of deciding disputes between one person and another and teaching them the statues and instructions of God in a disputed matter was already in place (exodus 18:13-27 pertains). At first, all cases of dispute came to Moses. Then Moses, upon the advice of Jethro, his non-Israelite father-in-law, a descendant of Abraham, a Midianite priest, instituted a more orderly system to include trustworthy men who feared God who were selected as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens to sit as judges for the people. Thus they then would bring only the most difficult cases of dispute to Moses to inquire of God, rather than all disputed cases.

    And the above solution presented by Jethro was in response to the many disputes between the people who brought their many cases to Moses alone to inquire of God thus wearing him and the people out as noted by Exodus 18:15,
    “15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me (S)to inquire of God. 16 When they have a [l](T)dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws.”

    So we can see the progression in the development of the matter of adjudicating disputes. We have the judges (not priests) assume more responsibility and authority as conferred from Moses on the advice of his father-in-law (Exodus 18:22):

    “Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be (AC)that every major [v]dispute they will bring to you, but every minor [w]dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and (AD)they will bear the burden with you.”

    And finally we see further progression and development in the matter of the process of judging disputed cases which achieves more formalization when incorporated into the Law of Moses on Mount Sanai.

    The difference being, that the final form of the process of adjudicating disputes is amended in Deuteronomy 16:18-20 and 17:8-13 to look ahead to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 16:18 “…in all your [j]towns which the LORD your God is giving you”). It also incorporates the role of the office of the “priest” at the upper level of the system (Deuteronomy 17:9 “ So you shall come to (L)the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days…”) in the matter of adjudicating disputes.

    2 Chronicles 19:8-10 relating to the same matter which came up in our earlier discussion (posts) does not establish new law, but reaffirms the Law of Moses which had been out of practice in those days.

    So with the above in mind, considering the history and development of the Law of Moses as it pertains to adjudicating disputes, my argument is that at no time was it ever intended by God that Deuteronomy 16 and 17 should apply to the process of recognizing a prophet.

    • David
      On the key issue we are in agreement. Both you and I agree that the Law of Moses ought to guide us in the rejection of a claim to prophecy. Both you and I agree that when we need guidance from the law of Moses it is right to consult with people who love God’s Law and not with people who love the claimant to prophecy before the said claimant establishes his credibility. This much we see to agree upon.
      The area in which we disagree is the extent of the mandate of Deuteronomy 17:10 and 16:18.
      I would ask you the following question – who is charged with the execution of a Sabbath violator (Exodus 31:15) – is it a) the individual? b) the mob? or c) the community under the guidance of her leaders?
      (This question is not a distraction – but an effort to get you to see my point in the area in which we disagree).

  9. David says:

    Hi Yisroel,
    A continuation of my last post:

    You wrote: B) As a derivative of this position you believe that prophets can deliver a new Law while I believe that prophets cannot deliver a new law without contradicting the Law of Moses.

    My response:
    Yes to your statement, but along with that, the prophet carries out God’s intent in making necessary exceptions, amendments, clarification of law especially in regards to competing requirements, and/or suspensions to current covenants. For example Moses made a suspension to the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision while in the desert. Moses instituted a clarification/amendment to the competing requirements of cleaness/uncleaness as it relates to keeping the Passover (numbers 9:6-10 pertains). The daughters of Zelophehad obtained relief when the law regarding inheritance for daughters was amended/clarified (numbers 27 pertains). On the first day of the inauguration of the office of the priesthood, Moses agreed with Aaron (as in approved the actions of Aaron and his two remaining sons) in their exceptional departure from the requirements of the Law regarding the priests’ duties relating to the sin offering (the goat of the sin offering), (Leviticus 6:24-30 and 10:16-20 pertains).

    And prophets aren’t the only ones who have made exceptions and amendments to the Law. Currently for example there are no priests offering sacrifices. Aliens who live among people of Israel are not for the most part held accountable for violation of Mosaic Law. The requirements pertaining to the more severe punishments for infractions of the Mosaic Law among people of Israel (including capital punishment) are not for the most part complied with.

    You wrote: C) I am not sure if you stated the following but its seems that you believe that Moses has no more authority than any other prophet – after all it is all God’s word so how can one word be more authoritative than another.

    My response:
    On the contrary, Moses held a special exalted position in the eyes of God. When Miriam and Aaron opposed Moses, God made this plain,

    Numbers 12:6-8,
    And he said, “Hear my words:
    When there are prophets among you,
    I the LORD make myself known to them in visions;
    I speak to them in dreams.
    7 Not so with my servant Moses;
    he is entrusted with all my house.
    8 With him I speak face to face— clearly, not in riddles;
    and he beholds the form of the LORD.
    Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”

    You wrote:
    D) You further believe that the obligation to obey a prophet is a duty toward God that stands apart from the Law of Moses while I believe that the obligation to obey a prophet is dictated by the Law of Moses.

    My response:
    Yes, that’s because God has been speaking through the prophet prior to the Law. The Law codifies what God had already been doing.

    Pharaoh (eventually) heeded Moses. (Exodus 12:31,32 pertains)
    “31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron in the night, and said, “Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD, as you said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you said, and be gone. And bring a blessing on me too!””

    All the people heeded Moses (Exodus 12:50,51 pertains)
    “50 All the Israelites did just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 That very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, company by company.”

  10. David
    Here too there are some areas of agreement, some areas of disagreement and some areas of confusion.
    B) You believe that a prophet may set a new law – the evidence you sited from Moses is irrelevant to our discussion because according to my belief Moses is the one authorized by God to present the Law (Deuteronomy 33:4; Malachi 3:22) – so until his death the Law was not sealed. The situation that you quoted where Aaron seemed to abrogate the Law was not done under the inspiration of prophecy but in Aaron’s capacity as arbitrator of the Law – Moses merely agreed with Aaron after the fact.
    C) This is the area of confusion – in what way do you believe that Moses is superior to other prophets? What is the practical ramification of this superiority?
    D) I agree with you here – that before Moses it was incumbent upon people to obey a prophet – just as I agree that before Moses it was incumbent upon people not to murder. But both of these natural truths have been incorporated into the Law of Moses and when one obeys an authentic prophet that person is also obeying the Law of Moses.

  11. David says:

    Hi Yisroel,

    Thank you for your two replies. I did read through them. But I think rather than addressing those or any potential future replies to this thread for now, I’ll instead keep plugging away to respond to your original post as time permits. Hopefully many of your points in your replies will be addressed then, and if not as time permits (if I get through responding to your post in its entirety or mostly) perhaps I’ll come back and try to respond to your replies here that I miss and any you may make here in the future.

    Continuing with my response to your original post:

    You wrote:
    “2 – You don’t believe that the arbitrators of the Law have any authority aside from disputes that are presented to them in the realm of bloodshed or perhaps monetary disputes. You seem to believe that any aspect of the Law in which the Scriptures do not explicitly grant the arbitrators authority is outside of the jurisdiction of the arbitrators.”

    My response,

    In short, yes, that’s correct. I addressed that partially in one of my responses above, but in a nutshell, I believe the arbitrators of the Law have (non-binding) moral authority to address matters not specifically allotted to them in Deuteronomy 16/17, but do NOT have legislated authority to step outside their allotted are to give binding commands. Other areas they’ve been given by Law for example is to make rulings on mold, skin deseases etc., and to distinguish between the holy and unholy, clean and unclean to name some other areas they’ve been given by Law.

    So yes, they have no authority under the Law to issue any kind of binding command regarding things not given to them by the Law.

    Further, the “arbitrators of the Law” is a misnomer.

    They have not been given all things under the Law to rule over as they see fit. So they are not “arbitrators of the Law” in a global sense. Deuteronomy 16 and 17 is very specific and limiting. Again, that was addressed above, but in a nutshell, there are only certain limited items (bloodshed, rights, assaults) of Law allotted to the arbitrators and then only under certain conditions. Some of the conditions include such things as “disputes” between the people as to one of the above points of law. Said cases must “come” to the priest/judge. They’ve been given no authority to invent disputes or to step in where the matter has either been resolved on a lower level, or never even was considered at the lower level and does not as a result “come” to them. When they come into the Promised Land, cases of unresolved dispute at the lower level of the above mentioned limited points of Law come to the “house of God” (the location of which He will choose). And, they must issue a ruling from the “house of God.”

    So as you can see, the sphere of authority allotted to the priest/judge, as legislated in the Law to adjudicate cases of dispute, is quite limited.

    However, the Priests were legislated to “teach” the Law which would of course include the whole Law.

    Under their legislated authority to “teach” the Law, one could argue they have standing deserving special consideration among the people of Israel to issue opinions regarding applications of the Law such as to future items needing clarification, or correct interpretations on competing priorities or competing requirements as future situations demand, or exceptions, etc.
    I could even go so far as to say they could offer an opinion in real time should the opportunity arise on prophets regarding their claims to prophesies as to which are false and which are from God. But that gets into the realm of moral non-binding authority, NOT legislated authority.

    Supporting evidence that my understanding is the correct interpretation regarding the limited nature of Deuteronomy 16/17 (aside from the plain reading of the Law itself) is the fact that there are virtually NO references in Hebrew scriptures relating to the exclusivity of Priests/Judges operating as an adjudicating body making any ruling on a prophet with regards to his prophesy (that I can find). But I’ll leave open the possibility that there might be a few, but even so, they’d be far outnumbered by cases in which they didn’t rule under Deuteronomy 17 when given the chance regarding claims to prophecy.

    Now, I agree that fact by itself is not conclusive evidence, but is never the less, supporting evidence. And couple with the other points I present builds the case against your interpretation.

    In Jeremiah 26 for example (what we had discussed earlier), although at first glance may appear to fit the description of a ruling under Deuteronomy 17, does NOT.

    In reading the entire context of the book of Jeremiah we see that the Priests were not happy with Jeremiah due to his rebuke of them. They were initially able to align the people on their side in opposition to Jeremiah due to his words against the city (Jerusalem) which the people took offense to.

    The interesting fact is that at NO time EVER did they (the Priests or anyone else) accuse Jeremiah as being in violation of Deuteronomy 18 (that the thing spoken in the name of God did not happen or prove true). They simply said he has spoken against the city (which is NOT a crime under the Law by the way). At no time did they say, “What you’ve said is a false prophesy, not from God.”
    As we know (and the Priests would have known as well) is that God often uses his prophets to rebuke.

    The priests had a prime opportunity also in Jeremiah 28 to rule between two prophets (Jeremiah and Hananiah) but they did not. They were arguing before the priests in the house of God, but the priests failed to make their selection.

    The case of 2 Chronicles 18 is another lost opportunity to judge between disputes between prophets. King Jehoshaphat of Judah could have suggested to King Ahab of Israel that they submit the matter of the disputing prophets (Micaiah on the one hand and Zedikiah and others on the other side) to the judgment of the priests and judges, especially since he had it in his mind to shortly afterwards reestablish the system of Deuteronomy 16/17 within Judah. And more importantly especially since King Jehoshaphat was himself considering going into battle and risking his own neck on the advice of the prophets with Micaiah being the only one advocating not going to war.

    If he (King Jehoshaphat) really believed that Deuteronomy 17 applied to cases of disputes regarding prophesy (as opposed to disputes of other matters of Law), he would have either suggested to King Ahab to submit the matter to a body of adjudicating priests/judges or failing that not gone into battle himself. The fact that he went into battle and risked his life meant that he believed the priests and judges either have no authority under the Law to rule on claims of prophecy or that their advice would have been worthless, the Law notwithstanding.

    One would think that if Priests and Judges believed within themselves that it was within their exclusive authority to rule on a claim of prophecy there’d be at least a few references to that fact. I’m still searching.

    On the other hand if they had ruled in either of the cases above for example, that would then have made them the de facto prophet. And there is no evidence in Scripture to suggest that God intended for the priests and judges to be the de facto prophet(s).

    Now, not only is there a lack of cases (I’m still searching) showing where the priests and judges ruled on a claim to prophecy, what we find instead is evidence where they DID rule in accordance with Deuteronomy 16/17 within their realm of authority where appropriate.

    Real case example:

    The case of the daughters of Zelophehad (mentioned in my earlier post) as described in Numbers chapters 27 and 36 is an example of a case of a real live dispute of one right verses another (inheritance rights of sons verses daughters) in the Law. As such properly and rightly falls under the jurisdiction of Deuteronomy 17 (which covers one kind of blood-shed and another, one kind of right and another, and one kind of assault and another).

    Although in this case Moses actually ruled as dictated from God rather than the priests. I attribute that to the fact that the priests and judges were basically in training due to their inexperience throughout the desert years and somewhat beyond into Joshua. Under the tutelage of Moses and Joshua, they eventually came into their own.

    Example of instructions in the Law for hypothetical cases where priests/judges would rule on a right of ownership of things or animals:

    Exodus 22:8,9

    “8 If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house shall be brought before the judges, to determine whether or not the owner had laid hands on the neighbor’s goods.”

    “9 In any case of disputed ownership involving ox, donkey, sheep, clothing, or any other loss, of which one party says, “This is mine,” the case of both parties shall come before the judges; the one whom the judges condemn shall pay double to the other.”

    It seems I didn’t get too far in addressing your original post for today. But I’ll keep plugging away. Next time hopefully I’ll address the next issue in order, that of canonization, and hopefully move further along.

    • David
      Thanks for the respectful and well thought out comment. I am looking forward for the rest of your comments and I hope to get a chance to reply to this one within the next few days – but for now I will just say that it is this type of discussion that will lead us all to greater clarity and understanding.
      Thank you

  12. David
    Thanks for your respectful and well thought out reply. I believe that with such discussion we can all come closer to the truth so thanks for your words. Perhaps I should wait until you finish your reply before responding – but on second thought it might be better for me to clarify my position so that you can better understand what it is that you are arguing with.
    Your position, if I understand correctly (and please correct me if I am wrong) is that the authority granted to the judges in Deuteronomy 17 is limited to matters of monetary disputes between one man and another and judging a case of murder. You grant that perhaps the priests are commissioned to issue rulings on other matters of the Law, perhaps even on the application of the Scriptural test of a prophet, but this priestly ruling would not fall under the umbrella of Deuteronomy 17 and should rather be categorized as moral non-binding authority and not legislated authority.
    In support of your position you point to the fact that Scripture reports no instance of judges ruling on matters other than monetary matters – as in the situation with the daughters of Zelophehad. Furthermore, you point to two situations where the priests and judges could and perhaps should have ruled on the question of the validity of a prophet but didn’t – in the cases of Jeremiah vs. Hananiah and Micaiah vs. Tzedekiah.
    Another support for your position is the language that the Torah uses when it invests the judges with authority (Exodus 18; Deuteronomy 1;15-17 and Deuteronomy 17:8). The language would seem to point to disputes that arise between man and man and the language does not point to matters of Torah Law such as Sabbath observance, matters of forbidden food and evaluating claims to prophecy.
    My position is that the Law was given to the community to observe and in many instances to enforce and this would not be possible without some system of leadership. I will point out that while the language in Exodus and Deuteronomy emphasizes disputes but it also gives us to understand that there is a broader scope here.
    In Exodus 18 we find that Moses had two roles, one was teaching the people the Law and the other role was judgment. The judges that he appointed were to help him with the role of judging the people and Exodus 18 itself we do not find that Moses got any help with his other role. But in Leviticus 10:11 we see that the priests were commissioned with this task.
    It could be argued that the role of teaching involves no decisions, it is simply limited to repeating what Moses taught but this would be incorrect. The incident described in Leviticus 10:16-19 clearly demonstrates that the priests issued rulings on the practical application of the Law which may even seem to be running counter to the Law of Moses. Moses had explicitly commanded the sons of Aaron to eat the offerings despite the fact that Nadab and Abihu had died earlier that day (Leviticus 10:12-15). Moses himself understood that this directive from God extended to the meat of the sin-offering as well. Aaron the priest rendered his own ruling and went ahead and burned that offering instead of eating it. Aaron explained his decision to Moses and Moses agreed that Aaron’s ruling was correct. What was the Scriptural basis for Aaron’s ruling? – It was Deuteronomy 26:14.
    This is Scripture’s example for the priests fulfilling their function as the ones authorized to apply the Law. Clearly this is not just a matter of repetition, but also of application and decision making.
    When we approach Deuteronomy 17:8-13, we see that the Scriptures clearly speak of both functions, that of the judge and that of the priest. In verse 9 both the judge and the priest are mentioned and in verse11 the words that are used to describe the rulings issued by the central court are the same words that are used both in Exodus 18:22 and Leviticus 10:11. The words that are used in the opening verse of this passage (Deuteronomy 17:8); between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment and between affliction and affliction also include both disputes that would fall under the jurisdiction of judges (between judgment and judgment) as well as ruling that would fall under the jurisdiction of priests (compare to Leviticus 13:59 and Leviticus 15:19 and 25 – the Hebrew words are the same).
    In case you might think that this interpretation is far-fetched – just read 2Chronicles 19:10,11. The same words are used (between blood and blood) as in Deuteronomy 17:8 and the same two roles are delineated (judge and priest) which makes it clear that this is an implementation of Deuteronomy 17. In this passage in Chronicles it is clear that the arbitration applies to every aspect of the Law (note the wording in verse 10 and in verse 11 – “EVERY matter pertaining to the Lord”).
    As for your questions about the absence of Scriptural evidence for the application of Deuteronomy 17 in relation to anything besides monetary disputes (as in the instance of the daughters of Zelophehad) – the answer is as follows. First, if the situation of the daughters of Zelophehad is an example of a question going to a higher court than Numbers 15:32-36 would be such an example – where a question of Law, specifically the violation of Sabbath, is brought to the court.
    Throughout Scripture we do not find too many questions altogether going to court or to the leadership of the people – the few examples (outside of the Five Books) that come to mind are 1) Joshua 17:14 where the tribe of Joseph complains to Joshua about their portion in the land, 2) Joshua 22:11- where the children of Reuben and Gad are suspected of rebelling against God, 3) Judges 20 – the incident of the concubine of Gibeah, 4) 2Samuel 14:5 where a woman presents a case to David about murder (the case never happened but we see the workings of the system), 5) 1Kings 3:16 – where the two women present their case to Solomon to determine the true mother of a baby, 6) 1Kings 20:39 where a question about a lost captive is presented to Ahab (another case that never happened), 7) 1Kings 21:13 where a community executes Naboth on charges of cursing God and the King (the charges were false), 8) Jeremiah 26:7 where the case is presented about Jeremiah’s right o prophesy 9) Zechariah 7:1 a question is presented about the fasts that were instituted on the occasion of the destruction of the First Temple, 10) Ezra 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65 about the proper lineage of priests, 11) Ezra 10:4 – about intermarriage, 12) Nehemiah 5:7 has a situation presented about debts, 13) Nehemiah 13:22 about the observance of the Sabbath,14) 2Chronicles 30:2 about the observance of Passover.
    These are situations where the leadership (national or local) was called upon to settle a question or a problem – at least 7 of the thirteen (# 2,8,9,10,11,13,14) are not in the realm of monetary disputes or bloodshed. So I don’t see how you could point to the dearth of Scriptural evidence to support your position.
    Furthermore, Jeremiah 29:26 has an evil person speaking of the authority of the leadership to discipline false prophets and Ezra 7:25 has a gentile king speaking of the priest’s authority to enforce all of the Law of God. Perhaps you don’t want to consider the words of these people to be accurate because they were not necessarily telling the truth – but it is plausible that these people weren’t inventing ideas out of thin air.
    The upshot of all of this is that it is the leadership’s responsibility to enforce and to apply all of the Law on the communal level – with no distinction between ritual and civil law.
    But what of the two situations where the leadership should have intervened but didn’t to determine the validity of a prophet – namely Micaiah vs Zedekiah (1Kings 22:5) and Jeremiah vs Hananiah (Jeremiah 28:1)?
    In the case of Micaiah, the leadership did intervene – at least to test the validity of Micaiah’s prophecy – (verses 26,27). Ahab, as judge, put the prophet in jail until his prophecy could be tested according to Deuteronomy 18:22. It could be argued that Ahab was not a righteous person and his example is not something we should learn from – and in fact the Law does not say anything about locking up the prophet until his prophecy is verified – so Ahab was certainly stretching the Law – but Micaiah does not protest the treatment and seems to accept it (verse 28).
    In any case – just because the leaders of the community have jurisdiction – does not mean that they will intervene to decide. Perhaps the matter is not clear to them – they want to wait and see, and that is probably why they did not intervene between Jeremiah and Hannaniah. Furthermore, there were many false prophets active in Jeremiah’s day and the community was too corrupt to act to eradicate them according to the Law.
    You seem to have a problem with the idea of people acting as arbitrators of the Law to determine the authenticity of a prophet – you argue that this would make the judges the de-facto prophets. But you have to acknowledge that the Law of Moses gives us a standard by which to evaluate the prophet – so someone is going to be arbitrating – either the individual or the community. This doesn’t make them de-facto prophets. It makes us responsible human beings who don’t accept every claim to prophecy and who don’t reject every claim – but examine the claims according to the truth that we already possess.
    I think I have provided enough Scriptural evidence to support my position that the Law authorizes us and demands of us that we evaluate claims for prophecy, and I have provided support that this evaluation – as it is with any other Law of the Torah – is to be lived out on a communal level – which would give the judges and the priests the authority to apply this Law in a practical way.
    As it is with any decision of the leadership – if an individual thinks that the decision is corrupt – it is his duty to protest and to speak up. If the community leadership rejects the argument – and the individual thinks that the decision is still corrupt – he may have to leave the community – as we find in 2Chronicles 11:13-17, where those who felt that the community of the Northern Kingdom was corrupt abandoned that community. And then it would be God’s business to render His decision as to which community is following Him. In the case of the Northern Kingdom, God rendered His decision. He has also done so in subsequent situations.
    I hope this helped you understand my position.

    • LarryB says:

      Just following

    • David says:

      Hi Yisroel,

      I’m going to address your post here and then get back to the original post later.

      You wrote:

      Your position, if I understand correctly (and please correct me if I am wrong) is that the authority granted to the judges in Deuteronomy 17 is limited to matters of monetary disputes between one man and another and judging a case of murder.

      My response:
      No. I addressed this in detail several times in previous posts. Please read my other posts or just read Deuteronomy 16:18-20 and 17:8-13. I’m happy just using the words of Scripture, any English translation is fine with me.

      You wrote:
      My position is that the Law was given to the community to observe and in many instances to enforce and this would not be possible without some system of leadership.

      I agree with you there; the Law was given to the people by God through Moses. Leadership can and has come from anywhere including: the people, the king, the prophet, the priests, the judges, etc. depending on the circumstances and how God wanted to use them at the time.

      Regarding enforcement, all have enforced the Law at one time or another, priest, king, prophet, the people; again, depending on the circumstances. When there has been a king, most often it is the king who interprets and enforces the law. Interestingly, a king (not to mention a priest or judge) NEVER (that I can find) ruled on claims of prophecy with the exception of idolatry in matters of disputes as to claims of prophecy. A king did rule in a matter as to a claim of prophecy in a situation where there was no dispute (that being the case of King Jehoshaphat and jahaziel).

      And kings have ruled indirectly in the affirmative sense accepting the counsel of a prophet. The fact that some kings have mistreated, threatened, imprisoned, executed, etcetera some of God’s prophets is more a statement of the kings’ personal desire to silence the prophet of God due to the prophet’s rebuke or opposition to the king or nation in some way.

      At no time (that I have yet found) has a king made a claim that so and so was NOT a prophet (leaving aside the issue of idolatry as that is not exclusive to prophets).

      But the above facts don’t really deal directly with my claim that priests and judges have NO exclusive authority under the law to adjudicate matters of claims of prophecy.

      On the other hand, the people of Israel have themselves without resorting to priests, judges, kings, or other prophets, ruled on claims of prophecy (Samuel is a case in point where all agreed he was a prophet).

      And prophets themselves have ruled on claims of prophecy of other prophets.

      You wrote:
      In support of your position you point to the fact that Scripture reports no instance of judges ruling on matters other than monetary matters…

      No. I never said judges were limited to monetary matters. In support of my position I point to the fact that judges and priest working in their capacity under the authority of the above cited passages have NEVER ruled on a claim of prophecy. In the case of priests they have other duties in addition to the above cited passages as contained in various parts of Scripture to include, but not limited to: distinguishing between clean and unclean, holy and unholy, and teaching the Law.

      Additionally, aside from the fact that we see NO cases of claims of prophets being judged by judges and priests as to their claims of prophecy, we see in all hypothetical cases referred to in the Law of Moses, not a single example of a dispute as to a claim of prophecy being handled by the priest/judge. Deuteronomy 21:1-9 (pertaining to bloodshed), 25:1-3 (pertaining to law suits) and Exodus 22:9 (cases involving rights of ownership) are examples of the above mentioned hypothetical cases found in Scripture. None deal with disputes of prophecy.

      Note that when a prophet of God has been mistreated or killed, never has the issue of his claim to prophecy been the issue. Rather it was always in response to an irritation at the rebuke or some other matter that those in power found objectionable. The motivation has always been censorship. The case of Jeremiah is a good example. They accused him of speaking against the city, speaking against the priests, attempting to desert, and discouraging the people and solders by suggesting they surrender to the enemy, and lying, among other accusations. And as a result he was mistreated, imprisoned, etc. and on occasion threatened with death.

      You wrote:
      In Exodus 18 we find that Moses had two roles, one was teaching the people the Law and the other role was judgment. The judges that he appointed were to help him with the role of judging the people and Exodus 18 itself we do not find that Moses got any help with his other role. But in Leviticus 10:11 we see that the priests were commissioned with this task.

      My response:
      You’re wrong. I have written already regarding this passage and you can read my response in one of the posts above.

      The priests were never commissioned with the role of judging the people in the way that Moses was. Moses basically exercised his authority as king, ruler over all, ultimate authority in all matters of life, before there were kings, and nothing in the passage of Leviticus even remotely suggests that. In fact Moses always retained ultimate authority between God and the other authority in Israel such as the priests and judges and elders. Moses then passed on this authority to Joshua, NOT the priests. Joshua ruled over the priests. God speaks in the book of Judges about judges because they were not kings and that’s because the people had not yet set a king over themselves as authorized in Deuteronomy 17:20. That came later.

      Note that the process of litigation/adjudication of decrees and commands of the king are not addressed at all in these passages Deuteronomy 16/17 but is addressed in 2 Chronicles 19 because kings were not yet in existence in the earlier passage of Deuteronomy.

      The passage of Leviticus you cited describes an exception, (which I already wrote about in a previous post), amendment or change (permanent or temporary) in the Law of Moses depending on your point of view. I’m not interested in arguing which it is for now. That’s beyond the scope of our discussion.

      The point is this: we see that in the passage of Leviticus, Aaron and his remaining two sons violated, yes violated, the Law of Moses. Moses without question outranked Aaron in the leadership role in the eyes of God having ultimate authority in all matters. Moses could have disciplined Aaron on the spot, and his sons for their failure to adhere to the Law. But Moses agreed with Aaron after he heard his reasoning/explanation (thus giving approval to Aaron’s violation after the fact) that “God would not be pleased” with Aaron and his remaining living sons had he and his sons followed the letter of the Law under the circumstances. Aaron’s first two sons died on the job in their roles as priests due to their failure in their priestly duties to distinguish between the holy and unholy as was their solemn duty. As a result God made an exception in the law for Aaron and his remaining sons. Possibly this exception extended to the entire priesthood for all time, possibly not. It doesn’t matter for the purpose of our discussion.

      Continuing then, the passage you mentioned in Deuteronomy 26:14 as being the Scriptural basis for the incident is NOT the case. It was mentioned 40 years after the fact. In any case it is not clear 40 years later whether that passage in Deuteronomy 26 pertains to solely “the people Israel” or to priests in their duties as well; the passage is addressed to the people and not specifically to priests, and in any case that point is beyond the scope of our discussion as to the authority of priests to rule on claims of prophecy.

      Deuteronomy 17 did not give Aaron authority to make an exception in the Law or to rule over Moses. Moses did approve the exception after the fact. The understanding of Moses in interpreting the Law is obviously superior to that of Aaron. Kings have made exceptions, the people of Israel have made exceptions and prophets have made exceptions. That authority to make exceptions is well documented and inherent in the Law and shouldn’t be confused with the priesthood somehow being conferred more authority than it has to have exclusive authority to rule on matters of claims of prophecy.

      At times priests have out of necessity acted in a capacity to rule over the people. This also should not be misinterpreted as an expansion of the office of the priesthood.

      You wrote (I’ll paraphrase):

      The same Hebrew word as used in Deuteronomy 17:8 to mean judgment (as in judgment and judgment) is used elsewhere in Scripture.

      My response:

      Your point that the same Hebrew word is used elsewhere adds nothing to your case.

      The transliteration of the Hebrew word is #1779 דִּין diyn {deen}

      The Hebrew word can be translated into: judgment, cause, plea, condemnation, dispute, legal suit, legal right, strife, or even government depending on the context.

      Regardless of how we translate the word, we are talking about a dispute between people to be resolved which comes to the priests and judges from a lower level court to the higher court. It’s a dispute between the people as pertaining to the Law. The dispute can involve one kind of bloodshed and another, one kind of judgment and another (if you like that English translation as opposed to “right”) and one kind of assault and another.

      That doesn’t change our argument in any way. You may use judgment if you wish.

      But for the sake of argument, even if we assume that priests and judges have full authority under 2 Chronicles 19 to resolves cases of dispute between people coming to them from the lower court, as opposed to limited issues of the law such as blood-shed etc., it really changes nothing as it pertains to our argument.

      You wrote:
      In this passage in Chronicles it is clear that the arbitration applies to every aspect of the Law (note the wording in verse 10 and in verse 11 – “EVERY matter pertaining to the Lord”).

      My response:

      Here you are referring to 2 Chronicles 19:10 and 11.
      Again, the reference pertains to matters of dispute between the people in matters of the Law of Moses and in this case, to include matters of the realm of the king. The reason why it is expanded to include matters of the king is because in the original passage of the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 16/17) upon which 2 Chronicles 19 is based, kings did not yet exist. Therefore King Jehoshaphat expanded the application within his authority as king to issue a decree/command/law/ordinances, etc. (how-ever you want to call it) He reestablished the Law of Moses which had fallen out of use and included adjudication of matters of the realm of the king in addition to the traditional matters of the Law of Moses under the usual authority of judges and priests as originally stipulated in the Law of Moses.

      Not-withstanding all of the above, a claim to prophecy regarding whether or not a claim was fulfilled for example is not a dispute as to the law. We can have a dispute over who is and who isn’t a prophet and still NOT be disputing over the Law of Moses. You may believe that a matter of prophecy was not fulfilled whereas I may believe it was fulfilled. This is a dispute as to historical facts, whether they are true or whether they are false, as with canonization by the way.

      On the other hand King Jehoshaphat is the only one that I can find who gave an affirmative command to believe His (God’s) prophets (2 Chronicles 20:20 pertains). So in addition to Deuteronomy 18:19 which subjects us to personal accountability to God for failing to heed the words of His prophet, one could have theoretically been brought before the judges or King Jehoshaphat himself had his command in 2 Chronicles 20:20 been violated.

      In addition to all that, King Jehoshaphat himself who instituted the reestablishment of the Law including the court system NEVER subjected any prophet (whether false or from God) to the court to rule on claims of prophecy. So the man who reestablished the process of the courts obviously didn’t think that the authority of priests and judges extended to ruling on matters of claims of prophecy, at least not while he was in office. I’ve already written on the case of when Jehoshaphat and King Ahab inquired of the LORD through various false prophets and God’s prophet Micaiah in 2 Chronicles 18. He did not then subject the matter to the priests or inquire of the priests and judges as to Micaiah’s claim of prophecy.

      Additionally, King Jehoshaphat did not inquire of the priests and judges as to the claims of prophecy of Jahaziel (2 Chronicles 20:13-20 pertains). He simply made the decision himself without consulting anyone that Jahaziel was God’s prophet by being the first to bow his face to the ground at the words of Jahaziel. He additionally staked the future of all Israel on his own decision to accept the claims of prophecy of Jahaziel by heeding the words of God’s prophet the very next morning; it went well for the king and for all of Israel as a result of heeding the words of God’s prophet.

      More specifically, with regards to the reestablishment of the Law of Moses as it pertains to the court, I already wrote on this specific passage in an earlier posts as to why 2 Chronicles 19:11 certainly does not pertain to the universe of possibilities to include rulings on claims of prophecy as you claim. You need look no further than the context. First of all 2 Chronicles 19 supports the Law of Moses, it does not create new law (even you have made the claim there is no new law). Therefore first you have to go back to Deuteronomy 16/17 upon which 2 Chronicles 19 is obviously based in order to get the context. And I’ve already written on how Deuteronomy 16/17 is limited in nature to cases of disputes between people which come to the high court from the lower court. As you can see it is limiting, not all inclusive. When we review 2 Chronicles 19 itself, we see that the context is also limiting also. Verse 8 “…to judge [g]disputes among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Verse 10 “…10 (M)Whenever any dispute comes to you from your brethren who live in their cities, between…” Clearly these come straight from Deuteronomy 16/17 and are referring to disputes between the people in the specific matters of Law (either the Law of Moses or King Jehoshaphat’s ordinances, decrees, laws, commands, etc.) noted therein which come to the high court from lower levels. Verse 11 of 2 Chronicles 19 then pertains (contrary to your claim) to all that was already spoken of in the earlier verses including Deuteronomy and further divides the duties between the chief priest and the lead judge. Verse 11 reads as follows: “Behold, Amariah the chief priest will be over you in [h](O)all that pertains to the LORD, and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, in [i]all that pertains to the king.”

      Obviously then what is meant by “all” is that the duties of the priests and judges are divided up with regards to handling disputes between the people pertaining to the Law of Moses which come to the high court and matters of the realm of the king. The king’s commandment to the people of Israel to “believe God’s prophet” would be an example of something pertaining to the king.

      In any case, as noted above, at no time do we see anywhere in Scripture, either a hypothetical case, or real case involving a dispute as to a claim of prophecy being handled by the priest or judge not even during the reign of King Jehoshaphat who spoke the words of 2 Chronicles 19:9-11. You’d think the guy who spoke the words might be the one to go to for proper interpretation as to what he meant.

      So I think that says a lot in support of my case.

      You wrote (I’m just including the first sentence and last sentence of a long paragraph in which you cite many many passages of Scripture mainly of kings ruling on matters of law):

      Throughout Scripture we do not find too many questions altogether going to court or to the leadership of the people – the few examples (outside of the Five Books) that come to mind are 1) Joshua 17:14 …
      The upshot of all of this is that it is the leadership’s responsibility to enforce and to apply all of the Law on the communal level – with no distinction between ritual and civil law. …

      My response:

      OK, so what does the fact that kings and the prophet Joshua and priests and judges have ruled on matters of disputes in Law have to do with our argument? – Nothing basically.

      I hold that kings rule on matters of law, the prophets as in the prophet Moses and others like him like Joshua and Samuel, the people of Israel have ruled on matters of Law, Priests have ruled, judges have ruled. All have ruled on matters of law. It all depends on the circumstances and situation.

      The fact remains no priest, no judge has ruled on whether or not so and so was a prophet.

      At least you’ve not provided one case, nor can I find a case (at least not yet). Although not conclusive proof, it is supporting evidence that your understanding is faulty.

      Regarding claims to prophecy, Prophets have ruled, the people have ruled (as in Samuel for example) and the king has ruled as to who is a prophet as seen in Jehoshaphat with Jahaziel for example.

      You wrote:
      But what of the two situations where the leadership should have intervened but didn’t to determine the validity of a prophet – namely Micaiah vs Zedekiah (1Kings 22:5) and Jeremiah vs Hananiah (Jeremiah 28:1)?
      In the case of Micaiah, the leadership did intervene…

      My response:
      My point exactly, the priests and judges were no-where to be found. The king did NOT employ their services in the task of discerning who was and who was NOT a prophet.

      Don’t forget Scripture tells us time and again that kings and prophets and people do make this determination.

      My whole argument is that it is NOT the exclusive job of priests and judges in their capacity and authority under Deuteronomy 16/17 or 2 Chronicles 19 (which is to resolve disputes of law) to take it upon themselves as their sole realm of authority to make decisions as to claims of prophecy.

      You wrote:
      I think I have provided enough Scriptural evidence to support my position that the Law authorizes us and demands of us that we evaluate claims for prophecy…

      My response:
      We’re in total agreement there.

      From the least to the greatest we can evaluate, I can evaluate, you can evaluate, the community can evaluate, the priest can evaluate, the king can evaluate, the judge can evaluate, and the prophet can evaluate; and perhaps I’ve missed someone. But at any rate, we can all evaluate the claims to prophecy.

      I think I’ve been consistent with you and others that you and I and the community have the authority to reject a claim of prophecy even including the claims of Jesus himself.

      If we get it right, no problem. If we get it wrong, we are accountable to God.

      It so happens that the community split about 2000 years ago over the claim to prophecy among other claims. Obviously some of us are wrong in all this and some of us are not wrong.

      The priests and judges have NO special authority under the law, no exclusive authority to evaluate claims of prophecy as a matter of adjudicating disputes under Deuteronomy 16/17 or 2 Chronicles 19 to issue forth a ruling from the house of God (or anywhere else) falsely claiming it is within their exclusive authority that we must obey their ruling on matters pertaining to claims of prophesy as if it were equal in our obligation to follow their rulings on matters of disputes in Law.

      • David
        Thanks again for the time and effort that you are investing in this conversation – I truly believe that this discussion will bring us all more clarity – Thank you.
        Again, you continue to misunderstand my position so let me try to clarify and to specify where I agree and where I disagree.
        One area where we disagree is that you seem to think that the king is not a judge – but Scripture emphasizes that judgment is a most important responsibility of the king – Jeremiah 22:2; Psalm 72:1, 122:5.
        I do agree with you on the ranking of Moses – in fact I probably believe more about Moses’ authority than you do but this does not mitigate the fact that God did give authority to the priests in the role of arbitrating His holy Law. Moses certainly had this authority to a greater capacity than any subsequent judge or priest – but again this does not mitigate the fact that the priests do have some authority in this realm.
        We disagree over the incident in Leviticus 10:12-20 – I would ask you – according to your interpretation – is it merely a coincidence that this passage is placed after the role of the priests is mentioned in verses 10 and 11 of this chapter?
        Moses had commanded that the sin offering be eaten – Leviticus 6:19 this would indicate that the goat should have been eaten and not burned. After the sons of Aaron died Moses commanded that the flour offering and the chest and the leg of the inauguration offering be eaten – he did not specify that the goat be eaten. Aaron understood – correctly – that the goat is different and it would fall under the general umbrella of the Law which prohibits sanctified food from being eaten during a period of grieving – this Law is mentioned in passing in Deuteronomy 26:14 as part of the farmer’s confession – it is obvious that the Law itself had been presented earlier. Moses certainly outranked Aaron – but in this instance Moses agreed that Aaron was right. It is not in Moses’ prerogative to overrule God – if Moses agreed with Aaron, this must mean that he understood that Aaron was actually in line with the Law – despite the fact that at first glance this was not the case.
        You misunderstood what I said concerning the Hebrew words of Deuteronomy 17:8 – I recognize that the word “din” refers to judgment between man and man – but the words “dam” and “nega” refer to matters that are beyond monetary disputes between man and man or disputes about murder cases – and I pointed to 2Chronicles 19 to support my position.
        It seems that you have come closer to my position on this matter – you seem to be agreeing with me that matters pertaining to the clean and unclean, permitted and prohibited – would fall under the purview of Deuteronomy 17:10 – but you seem to believe that prophecy is an exception to the rule.
        This makes no sense to me – if you acknowledge that the Law of God legislates a standard through which individuals should evaluate a claim to prophecy (speaking in the name of the God of our fathers, not encouraging worship of another deity, and having his/her predictions materialize) – and you acknowledge that the Law is to be observed as a community – then why can you not see that Deuteronomy 17:10 should apply to prophecy as well?
        Is it perhaps because you are worried that a corrupt court system/king/priesthood could misuse Deuteronomy 17:10 to reject an authentic prophet? But the same thing could happen with any other matter of the Law. A corrupt priest, judge or king could issue a ruling that is in fact contrary to the Law about observance of the Sabbath, about the laws of purity and impurity, about any other matter in God’s Law and point to Deuteronomy 17:10 to support their corrupt ruling – why do these scenarios not disturb you? – I will soon explain my position on this question.
        You argue that the question as to whether a prophecy has been fulfilled is simply a matter of checking historical facts. This is incorrect – and history is replete with instances of false prophets predicting a future event – the prediction fails and the followers of the prophet come up with excuses to defend their hero. The question that follows is – is this apologetic an excuse or are the rejecters of the prophet seizing on a nuance to reject an authentic message from God? This is a question of communal – and individual obedience toward God and should be treated in the same way that any other such question is treated.
        I agree with you that most prophets – if not all prophets did not need to get approval from the central leadership. In most situations there was no question about the validity of their prophecy – or if there was a question – the passage of time removed the question. I will take this one step further – it is actually possible that there were false prophets that may have met with approval from a corrupt central leadership but with time their falsehood was exposed.
        In the case of Jesus – I know of no official rejection of Jesus issued by the leadership that was in the Temple from any historical sources that I consider reliable – so the letter of the Law of Deuteronomy 17:10 would not apply to his situation.
        My argument is that the same approach should be applied to Jesus as we would apply to any other question of the Law – and that is that each person should apply his or her own ability to apply the Law of Moses to evaluate his claim. And that the community has a responsibility to do the same on the communal level – but again – this is all about applying the Law of Moses – so the community has a responsibility to apply the Law of Moses to the question as to whether Deuteronomy 18:15 applies to Jesus or is it Deuteronomy 18:22 that applies to him.
        You have argued that the Law is not the exclusive possession of the priests, the judges or the kings – and I agree with you – but it is the exclusive possession of Israel as a whole – Deuteronomy 33:4; Psalm 147:19,20. One of the ways that God protects us from the abuses of corrupt priests, kings, judges and prophets is that He removes their influence from the midst of His covenant nation – Ezekiel 13:9 – and in the case of Jesus – God spoke loud and clear.
        Perhaps you do not agree with the previous paragraph – but I ask you the following question – those who accepted Jesus throughout history – did they do so from a deep loyalty to the Law of Moses? Were these people applying their knowledge of the Law of Moses to the question of the validity of Jesus’ prophecy? Were these the people you would have turned to if you had a question about any other matter in the Law of Moses?
        Let me make this personal. You accept Jesus as a valid prophet – do you do so out of a deep loyalty and conviction in the truth of the Law of Moses? Or is your belief in the Law of Moses a derivative of your faith in Jesus?

  13. David says:

    Hi Yisroel,

    I read your response, thank you.

    But I think I’ll keep going through your original post for the time being.

    You wrote:

    We also disagree about the canonization of Scripture.
    Since you believe that the Law does not legislate anything about the office of prophecy –this brings you to the conclusion that the Law of Moses provided no guidance on the canonization process and that the arbitrators of the Law played no role in this process. When I asked you for the basis of your acceptance of Scripture you responded – because the books themselves show that they are from God and because the Jewish people accepted the books of Scripture.

    My response:
    I’ve re-read your entire original post, and have come to a few conclusions regarding your varied questions and points. They all have a common theme, which is basically that the arbitrators rule Israel.

    If one takes the view that if Moses and Israel appeared out of nowhere with the Law of Moses on Mount Sanai, and that the accounts in Hebrew Scripture pertaining to the people of Israel began with Mount Sanai, then one could at least argue the point from a scriptural basis that everything to do with Israel is governed by the Law (as you have attempted). But if one looks at reality (as I do), that the accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures relating to Israel were initially established in Abraham and continued to be manifested unbroken to include Mount Sanai and beyond in direct support of the Abrahamic covenant, then we need to go back to Abraham and start there to get a better understanding of how God and covenants, and prophets and priests, and judges, and children, and kings (Kings by the way which are not judges under the meaning of Deuteronomy 17 or 2 Chronicles 19), and everything else with regards to Israel fits into God’s plan and original covenant with Abraham.

    Specifically in regards to canonization:

    The Law of Moses simply doesn’t address it. But Scripture itself provides many examples of the process of acceptance of the beginning of a canon, starting with the books of Moses, which we can gain insight from. Historically, scholars are in disagreement as to whether the final canon which we have with us today was a top down process, bottom up process or a mixture of both. If the historical accounts in Scripture are any guide, the most likely scenario was a mixture of both.

    You’ve stated your view of Israel is analogous to a chain. If a link is broken, the entity (in this case Israel) ceases to function.

    A better analogy is a rope or web with many interwoven supporting strands of priests, judges, prophets, king, God, miracles, covenants, culture, children, etc.). All are working together simultaneously. If one strand fails such as priest, then something else is still supporting. Rather than a chain which fails with a broken link, the rope or web still holds together. If too much of the rope fails, then God sends Israel into servitude within its own LAND or even exiles Israel from its LAND.

    Because there is no Scriptural support for your analogy of the chain, you’ve resorted to the following common premise for all of your questions/points as they relate to the authority of the arbitrators:

    If not the arbitrators, then who; we’re not a mob?

    Well I’ll tell you who, prophets, kings, the people, God himself, and yes believe it or not sometimes priests and judges have had to independently lead and make decisions while the other strands were dysfunctional or inadequate. Or for what ever reason, God just chose a priest for the job. All (priests, prophets, kings, the people, etc.) have contributed at one time or another, sometimes independently, sometimes in harmony. It is a reality borne out by Scripture which I’ll point out later with case examples.

    One of the strands of God’s supporting rope for Israel is the children. Yes, the children believe it or not. More specifically it is God’s promise to Abraham and instructions as to how to live by passing on God’s way to future generations so that God may bring about and maintain His promise to Abraham.

    Going back to Abraham (which is the foundation which specifically pertains uniquely to Israel) when God first revealed his intent for Israel we see the following (MY EMPHASIS IN CAPS):

    Genesis 18:19
    19 For I have [s](Q)chosen him, so that he may (R)command his CHILDREN and his household AFTER HIM to (S)keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham (T)what He has spoken about him.”

    This is a powerful prophesy to Abraham and the people of Israel.

    At the earliest point in Israel’s history, it says that children (“his household after him”) would receive from their parents the way of the YHWH. Righteousness and justice is the essence of the Law. AND, by doing so, the YHWH would bring about what was promised.

    By Abraham doing the above and passing it on to his children in perpetuity, God was ensuring a living breathing strong strand to the rope which is Israel. In this way everything would get passed down from parents to children and acted upon, remembered, lived, analyzed, interpreted, discussed, first in the homes, then in the squares, in the synagogues (eventually as they came into being), in the schools (eventually), in the work places, etcetera. Thus bringing about and maintaining the promises of God to Abraham and his future generations.

    Moses reinforces this theme:
    In the 40th year, on the first day of the 11th month Moses speaks to all the people on the east side of the Jordan just prior to the people of Israel entering the LAND as promised to Abraham and his descendants. Moses reminds the people who were then children under the age of 20 at Mount Horeb (Mount Sanai) that the covenant of the Law of God was made with them when they were children (under the age of 20) and was not made for their ancestors (who all perished in the desert due to a lack of faithfulness in following God). Joshua and Caleb were the only exceptions as they whole heartedly followed God and were also willing to go up and take the LAND at the first opportunity. Deuteronomy 5:3 pertains.

    The 5th commandment:
    The theme is further incorporated into the LAW as the 5th commandment etched in one of the stone tablets of the covenant. Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in THE LAND that the LORD your God is giving you.”

    This commandment is clearly in support of the covenant with Abraham. Not only does it require honor of parents which is critical to ensuring the parents’ success in passing on the way of the YHWH to their children, but it concludes that the purpose is to live long in THE LAND. These are two elements which were both initially incorporated into the covenant with Abraham.

    So with the 5th commandment we complete the circle.

    I’m not suggesting this theme in any way supersedes, or negates the role of leadership such as priests, prophets, kings, etc. What I believe again, is that the theme of children continuing in the footsteps of their parents in the way of God by doing righteousness and living long in the LAND is a supporting strand of the rope which is Israel.

    Following Abraham we see many supporting verses regarding the concept of parents’ role in teaching their children. In this example the future generations are attached to their history from the patriarch Abraham; God is their God; and they are His people. And all of it originated with Abraham.

    Deuteronomy 29:10,11
    10 “You stand today, all of you, before the LORD your God…
    11 your little ones…

    Deuteronomy 29:14,15 (referring to future generations; caps are my emphasis)

    14 “Now not with you alone am I (M)making this covenant and this oath, 15 (N)but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and WITH THOSE WHO ARE NOT WITH US HERE TODAY.

    Joshua 8:35 (CAPS ARE MY EMPHASIS)
    35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and THE LITTLE ONES, and the aliens who resided among them.

    And there are several other verses like the above, but I’m sure by now you get the idea.

    The children then who are the future are what we then come to know as “the people of Israel.” “The people of Israel” then are just as much part of Israel as are the arbitrators (priests and judges), prophets, etc. They contribute to knowing their history, knowing the Law and covenants, Knowing God, listening to God and doing the Law and are part of what make up the rope of Israel.

    Moving on, we know from scripture itself that sometimes “the people of Israel” just accept a prophet (during the life of a prophet as opposed to some-time after the prophet has died). In the case of Samuel, it was a consensus of all the people (1 Samuel 3:20 – 4:1 pertains). The people, having received from their parents the way of God, and doing righteousness and justice from the time of Abraham, are more than qualified to understand the Law and make a qualified decision with regards to who is and who isn’t a prophet. In the case of Samuel we see that they were all in agreement. There is no suggestion that arbitrators were involved. Neither is there a suggestion that a “mob” ruled the day.

    1 Samuel 3:20 – 4:1
    20 And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the LORD. 21 The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD. 1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. …

    The following are examples of “the people of Israel” working together with the other strands of the rope.

    Ezra 10:1 – 17 is an example of the people of Israel in a role of active support and decision making in terms of a consensual agreement between the Priest Ezra and the people and officials, elders, (who were appointed judges) and other priests. There were a few who were in disagreement, yet there was no mob rule, no riot. The solution was 100% the product of the rope of Israel working together.

    Ezra didn’t resort to Deuteronomy 17 imposing his will over the people. It was simply a consensual agreement of the majority.

    The following account in Nehemiah is another example of “the people of Israel” as an educated populace steeped in the tradition of their parents in the tradition of Abraham to do righteousness and in their case to follow the Law. They obviously believed the “book of the law of Moses” to be Scripture. And, they gave instruction to the Priest Ezra to bring the “BOOK” of the Law of Moses.

    Note, it wasn’t the other way around. It wasn’t Ezra resorting to Deuteronomy 17 to command obedience to a reading of the Law.

    Nehemiah 8:1 8 1 all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel. 2 Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

    In 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34 during the reign of Josiah in Judah when the High Priest Hilkiah discovered “the book of the Law of the YHWH given through Moses”, he (the priest) didn’t invoke Deuteronomy 17 and order people to listen to a reading or to execute the idolaters. It was the King who first consulted a prophetess to inquire of the YHWH. It was the King, not the priest who ordered an assembly of the people and who himself read from the book. It was the King who personally made a covenant with the YHWH. Then the King, not the priest, made all pledge themselves to it. At this time also in 1 Kings 22/23 we see that it was the King, who deposed the idolatrous priests. It was the King who ordered the slaughter of all the idol worshiping priests upon the alters of the high places.

    Obviously during the reign of kings we have many instances of kings making decisions regarding the Law as would be expected such as Solomon and the two prostitutes with one living child who came for a ruling. God in Deuteronomy 17:14 authorized the people of Israel to “set a King over me like all the nations around me.” And what do kings do in the nations around them? They decide between disputes among other things. However, it is not the intent of Deuteronomy 16:18-20 and 7:8-13 which is limited in nature regarding priests and judges or 2 Chronicles 19 in referring specifically to the Chief Priest and Levites and heads of families to also apply to the King himself.

    In fact it was the King himself in 2 Chronicles 19 who was “reestablishing” the Law of Moses as it pertains to Deuteronomy 17. And he did NOT include himself within the limited authority of Deuteronomy 17. 2 Chronicles 19:5 “He appointed …” Note, he didn’t appoint himself. He gave orders. Note, he didn’t order himself into the equation. Verse 6 in part “take care what YOU do, for there is no perversion of justice with the YHWH our God, or partiality, or taking of bribes.”

    Moreover, in verse 8 the KING is specific about who he was appointing: “APPOINTED LEVITES AD PRIETS AND HEADS OF FAMILIES OF ISRAEL, TO GIVE JUDGMENT FOR THE YHWH TO DECIDE DISPUTED CASES.”

    Verse 11 “all matters of the YHWH” pertains to the context of the preceding verses.

    The universe and all that is in it belongs to the YHWH so obviously it doesn’t pertain to the universe of possibilities or the King would have given exclusive control of the universe to the judges/priests. “All matters” in context then obviously pertains to disputed matters as mentioned in the preceding verse 8 and all the way back to the Law of Moses which 2 Chronicles 19 is based on which specifically goes back to Deuteronomy 16/17: to disputed matters of one kind of bloodshed and another, one kind of right and another, and one kind of assault and another.

    And lastly if we arbitrarily without basis of Scripture include the King within the meaning of 2 Chronicles 19 we’d have to include prophets as well.

    • David
      I feel bad that you are spending so much time refuting a position that I don’t hold. I do not believe that the arbitrators rule Israel – God rules Israel through His Law. Please read the original article of which my post is but an excerpt. I compare the process to a living entity in which each part is interdependent on the other – https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/the-council-of-my-nation/
      If you read my words in context you will see how I recognize that the children are an integral part of the process – with their honest questions and their curiosity. Christianity would not be so corrupt if they didn’t have the “knowledge” pass through celibate priests.
      In any case – I still look forward to hearing why it is that you accept the canon of Scripture.

  14. David
    One more point – you say that 2Chronicles 19:11 refers not to all matters of God but to all matters spoken of in the preceding verses – that is exactly my point – verse 10 (which precedes verse 11) specifies all of the various types of commandments – not only ordinances.

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