Devotion and Rationalizations
The Jewish attitude toward those who promote devotion to Jesus is no different than their attitude toward those who promote devotion to the sun. All of the qualities that one may believe that Jesus possesses cannot justify devotion to him. Jesus’ supposed unparalleled popularity, his alleged ability to transform lives, his reputed courage in taking on a corrupt religious establishment and his professed humility would all be gifts granted to him by the One Creator of all (had he possessed any of these).
In the context of devotion the only quality that is relevant to the discussion is the quality of Creator. The Jews were worshipping the Creator long before Jesus was born. Jesus brought nothing new to the table in terms of Creator and there is nothing new that anyone can bring to the table in terms of Creator. God is the One Creator; He always was and He always will be and this simple truth can never change or be adjusted.
Where the Christian differs from some of the more crude pagans is not in the realm of devotion. The devotion that the followers of Jesus promote is no different than the devotion promoted by the worshipers of the sun. In both cases we are being encouraged to direct devotion toward a finite existence. Christianity separates itself from some of the pagan cults by the various rationalizations that it presents to justify devotion to Jesus, but not in the devotion itself.
Let us examine some of these rationalizations.
#1 – Christians contend that the devotion that they are encouraging is not the idolatry prohibited by Scripture because they do not worship Jesus’ physical body.
This argument is rooted in the false assumption that idolatry is limited to the worship of a physical body. I think that most Christians would recognize that worship of the spirit that animates an animal, the spirit of a person or an angel would all be considered idolatry. In fact most of those cultures that practiced obeisance to statues were not directing their devotion to the physical statue, but rather their hearts were directed toward the spirit that the statue represented.
God is the creator of both spirit and flesh (Zechariah 12:1). Both of these belong to God and to Him alone. Every body and every spirit and soul are completely subject to the One Creator of all. To give to any subject the devotion that belongs to the Master is idolatry.
# 2 – Christians contend that the spirit that inhabited the body of Jesus was “one and the same” as the God of Israel therefore worship of Jesus is not worship of “another god” prohibited by the Jewish Bible.
This argument is rooted in a misunderstanding of the term; “one and the same,” or in a misunderstanding of our relationship with God, or both.
We can say that two seemingly different entities are one and the same when they share the same elemental properties despite their seeming differences. Water and ice can be said to be one and the same because they both share the elemental ingredients of H2O. A person who appears in two different costumes can be said to be one and the same because the disguises do not define the essence of the person.
Certain things can never be “one and the same” simply because they describe two opposite elements of existence. Light and dark, hot and cold, holy and profane, good and bad can never be “one and the same” unless we are speaking of these qualities in relative terms (such as a room which can be considered both light and dark if it only partially illuminated). But when we speak of these concepts in absolute terms then they can never be “one and the same.”
When we focus on worship the critical terms are; Absolute Giver and the beneficiaries of His benevolence. These are two opposites that can never be “one and the same.”
When people saw Jesus as he walked the earth, or when thy find him in the pages of the Christian Scriptures they might identify him as a righteous person, a humble person, a wise person or a holy person. But they do not see Absolute Master, Creator of all, Source of all existence and the Ultimate Giver. All righteousness, holiness, wisdom, humility and self-sacrifice that abide in a human soul can only be gifts from the Source of all goodness. These qualities can only turn the person into a greater beneficiary of God’s benevolence; they can never turn him into Master.
The only way one can say that any given person is “one and the same” as God is if they do not understand the term; “one and the same,” of if they do not recognize that our worship of God is predicated on the fact that He is the Ultimate Giver and that anything that a finite existence possesses can only be a gift from God.
# 3 – Christians contend that Jesus is a “doorway” through which people come to God. As such, they see Jesus as inseparable from God.
This argument is rooted in the false assumption that God is inaccessible; it is rooted in a misunderstanding of the word “doorway” and in a misunderstanding of the word “inseparable.”
God is accessible to all who seek Him in sincerity (Psalm 145:18). All of the holy men and women who walked the earth before Jesus experienced a closeness to God without ever hearing of Jesus. Many saintly people experienced intimacy with God since the time of Jesus without having devoted themselves to Jesus. The claim that no one comes to the Father but through Jesus is demonstrably false.
To say that Jesus is inseparable from God is also patently false. Many people worship God and do not worship Jesus. Others, such as Unitarians, worship Jesus as a human being and not as a god. The fact that many Christians chose to fuse these two entities together in their minds does not make them inseparable. In fact, many Christians who have studied the matter recognized that their worship was misplaced and abandoned Jesus and remained with God. God and Jesus are certainly separable from one another.
The point of a doorway is that it provides a space through which one can access the area beyond. A doorway facilitates your approach to your ultimate goal. A doorway that demands to be carried with you wherever you go is no doorway; it is a distraction from the destination. No Christian denomination ever advocated that after an initial encounter with Jesus, one can forget about Jesus and get on with developing a relationship with God. Devotion to Jesus is a doorway to Jesus, not to God.
#4 – Christians contend that Jesus was a manifestation of God. They compare Jesus to the fire of the burning bush that Moses saw at Horeb (Exodus 3:4), to the pillar of cloud that led the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21), and to the Angel of the Lord that appears throughout the Jewish Scriptures (Exodus 23:20; Judges 6:12; Isaiah 63:9).
This argument is rooted in a misunderstanding of the relationship that the Jewish people share with God. The relationship between God and Israel includes many activities that are ancillary to the essence of the relationship. The essence of the relationship is God’s love for Israel and Israel’s love and reverence for God. As expressions of His love, God guides His people, He speaks to their prophets, and he protects them from their enemies. As expressions of Israel’s heart for God we offer sacrifices, we build a Temple and we follow His Law. All of these activities are only part of the relationship inasmuch as they express the heart of one party toward the other. If you remove the heart from these activities, they remain empty husks.
All of the manifestations of God that are found in Scripture relate to the ancillary aspects of the relationship. God showed His people that He chose Solomon’s Temple with a cloud of glory (1Kings 8:10), God accepted Elijah’s sacrifice with a fire from Heaven (1Kings 18:38), and God spoke to Abraham through the agency of an angel (Genesis 22:15). These have no impact on the essence of our relationship with God; namely, the love of our heart.
When God came to teach His people about the essence of our relationship with Him, they saw no image. God emphasized this point when He reminded His people of this covenantal encounter (Deuteronomy 4:15). The Sinai encounter was the definitive teaching about the heart of our relationship with God. And in this critical context the Scriptures emphasize that there was no manifestation at all.
Christianity’s claim for Jesus is a claim about the essence of the relationship. Christianity demands a love and a reverence for the person portrayed in the pages of the Christian Scriptures. This is not telling us at which location to bring our sacrifices, it is not guiding our travel and it is not merely bringing us a message. This is telling us where to direct our hearts. It is a teaching that attempts to place a finite existence into the essence of our relationship with God. This is idolatry.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
You’re obviously not talking to Christians, non-messianic Jews, atheists, or other religions.
And Jews are already convinced that devotion to Jesus is idolatry. Or perhaps you’re worried it’s not so cut and dry. Maybe you’re concerned Jews might come to the realization that devotion to the Messiah is appropriate even more so than was/is the devotion and respect afforded Moses.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, subject only to God himself. That would make both mainstream Judaism and mainstream Christianity guilty of an error.
The error of mainstream Judaism would be that it fails to recognize God’s savior to the lost sheep of Israel and to the world. To reject the most important person that God sent for all human history for ever more, is tantamount to rejecting God himself. You can’t have one without the other. It would be like rejecting Moses at mount Sinai and destroying him along with the golden calf. Then going on your way expecting God to put you in possession of the promised land.
The error of mainstream Christianity is that it confuses what the Son of God is (and is not) and where he stands in subordinate relation to God. You can’t truly know God if you confuse the one He sent with God Himself.
God can’t be happy with either error.
Thankfully we have the word of God itself preserved by those faithful Jews and faithful Christians so that we can all read for ourselves the truth. But mainstream Christianity and mainstream Judaism insists on twisting God’s word to suit their tradition.
I can actually see that those who believe in Jsus being a god truly believe they are following this god. If one removes this belief then what we have is simply just another human being. What is left then is solely his teachings. When we look at “his teachings” there is very little substance there. Within the Jewish sources there is much more than the little that Jsus taught.
There is much teaching in Xtianity that would condemn all the practices of Tradition, as Jsus did with Netilat Yadayim. Those detractors fail to realize a simple point. It’s not unlike what is done with a couple. What makes a marriage is the totality of all those little things that bring joy to the other. It is this what brings the two closer together. When Jews follow those Traditions he is emulating that same relationship and connecting it to Hashem. Each mitzvot is intended to sanctify His Name. In so doing the mind is focused on that relationship. What couple would not want a relationship whereby most everything is done with the thought of their spouse. Certainly this would result in a truly blissful relationship. And therein lies the purpose.
David, two questions:
1. What is the Scriptural basis for the belief that the purpose of the Messiah is to die to atone for all the sins of mankind and that only acceptance of this person as your lord and savior and the literal son of god will accomplish this purpose?
2. Upon what basis should the first-century Palestinian Jews have accepted Jesus’s claims?
1. Isaiah 53 among others.
2.Just as they did. Those who accepted Him were first-century Palestinian Jews. He fulfilled all that was written and taught. You don’t concur. They did. We have a difference of opinion.
Did God allow a “difference of opinion” to linger about Moses after the splitting of the sea? (Exodus 14:31)
This is not a difference of opinion – this argument has been rehashed for 2000 years and Jesus’ lawyers keep changing their arguments, contradicting each other, changing their theology etc. – how does this describe a valid argument? How does this compare to Moses?
Miriam and Aaron tried to usurp the authority of Moses not fully grasping the central and unique role he played.
David, can you Scripturally support the statement that they “tried to usurp the authority of Moses?”
I’m surprised you asked.
2 and they said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.
6 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.
Not so with my servant Moses;
he is entrusted with all my house.
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?” 9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed.
11 Then Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us for a sin that we have so foolishly committed.
David, thanks for answering questions. As you may have suspected, I am going to challenge your answers. Sorry, it’s never that easy :).
1. Since we dispute the meaning of Isaiah 53, you cannot say that it clearly teaches that the purpose of the Messiah is to die to atone for mankind’s sins and that you have to accept this belief in order to earn salvation. Also, you wrote “Isaiah 53 among others.” What are the others?
2. Only a minority among first-century Jews accepted Jesus. The overwhelming majority rejected him or never even heard of him (consider that a large portion of Jewry resided outside the Holy Land). The majority did not accept the basis upon which the minority accepted Jesus. What credentials did the minority use to establish Jesus’s claims as true, and why was the majority wrong to reject that premise?
1. Isaiah 53 is a clear teaching. I’ve argued it at length here. You have a different opinion. That’s fine.
2. That is often the case. Sometimes God’s prophet had virtually no one on his side but God Himself. Very consistent with Hebrew Scripture, so one could easily argue the potential dangers of going with the majority simply because they’re the majority. I’d rather bet on the real deal without regard to who’s in the majority/minority.
Anyway, after Jews were told the real truth after the crucifixion and resurrection, many turned to Jesus. And the new sect steadily grew (as you know).
1. If the passage is disputed, it isn’t clear. Even Christian scholars don’t agree on the meaning of this passage.
2. You did not answer the question at all. On what basis did the minority of Jews accept Jesus, were they right to use whatever criteria they used, was the majority wrong to dismiss those criteria, and if so, why? To say that sometimes God’s prophet was unsupported is meaningless. That means that you have no basis on which to accept or reject any self-proclaimed prophet, ever.
Notice I did not say that we went with the majority because they were the majority. That was not my argument at all, so be careful of setting up a straw man.
Regarding your view of Is 53, I would like to point out that interpretation of prophecy can not override the understanding of, or contradict Torah.
That is in fact what the church’s view of Isaiah 53 does. And that is not the function of prophecy either.
What is derived from the church’s Is 53?
That Jesus is an asham….a guilt offering, blood sacrifice for sin.
That in direct conflict with Deut 12:30-32., Deut 13, Deut 30, Leviticus 5:11-13, Numbers 16:47, Numbers 31:50 among many others.
That Jesus can die for another persons sin..
That is direct conflict with Exodus 32:30-35. Deuteronomy 24:16
So, even though it is easier for the church to cobble together an narrative for Is 53, it is a false narrative because it is flagrant violation of Torah. It is also in flagrant violation of other parts of Tanakh in general but Torah is the yardstick by which all prophecy is measured. In no way can we accept the church’s Is 53.
At this point I think you’re arguing just to argue.
1. The passage is clear to me as well as to the first century Jews who accepted Jesus I’m sure, not to mention, contrary to your claim, it is also clear to Christians today. There might be differences on some points between Christians today but on the issue that it speaks of Jesus who being without sin paid the price for those with sin which is the point you were disputing, there is agreement.
2. You point was the majority didn’t accept Jesus. Check your post. Your question was about credentials. In that regard you know or should know since this isn’t the first time you’ve brought it up and we’ve also discussed it at length. You dispute that that the law and the prophets (meaning the Hebrew Scriptures) testify about him. No problem. You’re entitled to your opinion.
As I’ve stated many times if you think after careful study of the Scriptures that Jesus is not the Messiah then you should reject him. I think I’ve always been clear on that. Obviously some of the first century Jews were right and some were wrong. As with us today so it was then.
You wrote, “At this point I think you’re arguing just to argue.” How very judgmental of you (judge not lest you be judged). How do you know that my motive is not to seek truth, to help others and myself gain clarity–which these discussions bring about? I may be blunt and forceful, perhaps even pugnacious (forgive me), but that does not mean I am not sincere.
1. I do not know how you can say that all Christians agree about the identity of the servant in Isaiah 53. In the following link to an article on this website, you can read excerpts from a substantial list of Christian scholars who disagree about various points in the interpretation of Isaiah 53 and a list of Christian scholars who agree with the traditional Jewish interpretation that the servant is Israel.
A passage that is this easily disputed is far from clear.
Furthermore, even Jesus’s disciples were not aware of the Christological interpretation. When Jesus tells them he will suffer and die and be resurrected, they don’t say, “Oh, but of course. That’s what’s supposed to happen to the Messiah. Isaiah 53!” No, Peter is shocked (Matthew 16:21-22).
2. I did say the majority didn’t accept Jesus, true, but that wasn’t my main point. I simply raised that because your earlier comment seemed to imply that first-century Jews as a matter of course accepted him (I am sure that was unintentional on your part). Mainly, I wanted to know why they were right to accept him and the rest wrong not to. Now, that is a discussion you do not wish to have. But since that is the main thing that divides us, it should be the main thing we discuss. Otherwise, what’s the point of all these discussions? It seems to me that we shouldn’t stop until one of us convinces the other.
“Furthermore, even Jesus’s disciples were not aware of the Christological interpretation. When Jesus tells them he will suffer and die and be resurrected, they don’t say, “Oh, but of course. That’s what’s supposed to happen to the Messiah. Isaiah 53!” No, Peter is shocked (Matthew 16:21-22).”
3When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter,b and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hadesc will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will bed bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will bee loosed in heaven.” 20Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
notice dina, how “satan” gets praised like mad by jesus and then jesus does a u turn and starts to rebuke him? scholars acknowledge that this exchange is not even historical exchange. there are to many odd things about this exchange. if you go to marks account that high praise “satan” aka peter received is not even found in his account.
i just find it strange that “satan” gets high praise at a time when he would clearly have an understanding of messiah which is contrary to the understanding matthew wants his jesus to have in verses 21-23
How very judgmental of me?
back at ya
David, if I have said something mean-spirited or judgmental, I ask your forgiveness. Please tell me what I have said so I can properly make amends.
When you have a point to make I’ll respond.
David, it’s not clear to me to whom you directed this comment (“When you have a point to make I’ll respond”), to me or to Rambo. If to me, I’m content to let the audience decide if I’ve made a strong point that you can’t answer or if I haven’t made a point at all.
The fact that you compare the mistake of not accepting the Messiah with rejecting God shows that your perspective is not rooted in God’s word – The Jewish Scriptures make no such comparison.
Furthermore – Would you not agree that before we accept the claim for someone’s alleged messiah-ship – that we are duty bound before God to examine the claim in light of the Scriptures? And that until we see the claim validated by Scripture it would be immoral to accept the claim?
If you do recognize this truth – show me the Scriptural validation for Jesus’ claims
Your sidestepping the implication of my post.
You obviously don’t want to address the reality what would have happened had Israel rejected Moses on Mount Sinai.
What say you to finish the following statement?
Had the people of Israel destroyed Moses on Mount Sinai God would have …
And the rejection of Moses would have amounted to a rejection of …
How would then destroying Jesus be any different than destroying Moses, assuming that Jesus is who he said he was?
I know you don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah based on everything you know to be true; that’s not my point.
Rejecting Moses would have been horrific but it would still not have been rejecting God – but in any case you are missing the major point of the Jewish Bible and that is that God sees reality according to the measure of honesty – the ONLY reason rejecting Moses would have been horrific is because God did so much to show that He trusts Moses – God did nothing of the sort for Jesus
Wrong, the Israelites would not have had God without Moses.
Posting again just to follow.
Regarding #2 and #4, I find that Christians and Messianics, really dont understand the implications of their own faith. For example:
When describing the trinity: It is just like the 3 phases of water, ice, steam.
When describing god in human form: god appeared in human form in the OT.
Both of these are wrong in terms that they do NOT describe what the church believes! Why?
Unlike the 3 phases of water, the church is teaching that ADDED TO the “water” was Jesus the human. How?
Prior to creation, the church teaches that god existed as father, son and HS, three spirit personages, one substance. At this point, it would be similar to the 3 phases of water but it does not remain as such!
At the point of pregnancy within the mortal woman, the church teaches that “spirit of god the son” became fused to, and one with, the human nature of Jesus the man. 100%god100%man. This is now not anything like 3 phases of water! This is water + human nature or 3 phases of god + human nature. Or precisely, father, (god son + Jesus man) and HS.
Now, regarding G-d appearing in the OT, these were all temporal events, G-d appearing within a burning bush, pillar of fire etc…or even if the angel… Why is temporality significant? Several reasons.
The OT appearances did not result in any hybrid entities. There was no such thing as a god-bush, god-fire or god-angel unions that required a new worship paradigm. Jesus was a change.
The OT appearances did not change the nature of G-d like Jesus did. We were never directed to visualize on a permanent basis, forevermore, the burning bush or pillar of fire or any angel as a part of “God” But Jesus, we are told, is to be “seen” as a 3rd person in one substance with god. Jesus was a change.
And finally, unlike the OT appearances like the burning bush, Jesus is a permanent, not temporary addition. Even today this hybrid, god-man (Jesus the human being) is in heaven, interacting with “God” and presumably, the HS too. So before the universe was created, god is spirit only, then with the pregnancy of Jesus in the woman…bam…change…now god brings within himself a part of creation and FUSES to it permanently, to which we are told 1500 years after Sinai, to worship as if he was god himself…Jesus was a change.
Trinitarians would say that Jesus incarnated into the physical body and that God in Hebrew Scriptures also took on the form of a human when he met with Abraham before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. The central figure in the discourse with Abraham is described as YHWH. The other two are either described as angels or presumed to be angels.
Personally, I think it’s all a misunderstanding (they’re all angels). YHWH often speaks to those in Hebrew Scriptures through angels while speaking in the first person. So I can understand why Trinitarians mistakenly believe this figure to be YHWH Himself, but they are in error.
David, what is the worse error, to mistakenly worship Jesus as God and commit against God the sin of idolatry, or to mistakenly reject Jesus as the Messiah, and how do you know?
That’s a good question. What’s worse, to reject God by way of rejecting His will, His prophets, His Messiah (as does mainstream Judaism) or to mistakenly include someone as God in your worship of God, honestly thinking he’s what God is.
What would God say?
That’s a tough call. I don’t need to make that call and neither do you. God will judge each on a case by case basis.
But if I had to choose I’d say idolatry is worse.
Of course mainstream Judaism has it’s own idolatry in terms of the law, so neither is out of the woods.
David, thanks again for answering, and thank you for your respectful tone. Actually, if you read the whole Hebrew Bible, one sin stands out as the worst of them all, the greatest crime that can be committed against God, and that is the sin of idolatry. If you read the prophets, you will see that is the sin that God’s wrath burned most fiercely against and for which the Jews suffered the worst punishments (starting with the sin of the golden calf). It is the only sin that is considered spiritual adultery against God.
I would like to ask you to support, Scripturally, the idea that observing the Law of Moses is idolatry.
Mainstream Judaism has rejected God. To replace Him, mainstream Judaism fervently follows what they claim to be the Law of Moses. But Moses wouldn’t recognize what Jews are doing today in terms of the Law. In any case the “Law” has become their god.
Most wouldn’t recognize it as idolatry because it doesn’t have the appearance of a golden calf. It has the form of piety but is far from God (not to pick on Judaism, but you asked).
And how do you know this, David? How do you know that mainstream Judaism has replaced God with Law? And how do you know what Moses would recognize or not recognize today?
Are there Jews today who do follow the Law of Moses today in such a way that he would recognize (according to your perception), and who have not replaced God with the Law? Who are they and how do you know they are authentic?
I’m talking about mainstream Judaism, not individual Jews.
Also considering the claimed idolatry of mainstream Christianity that’s a label from mainstream Judaism. After thinking about it, In reality it’s more of a case of mistaken identity. Mainstream Christianity seeks God but misidentifies him and gets accused of idolatry.
Yet there’s never been a single case in all of Hebrew Scripture where someone was seeking God, thought they were worshipping God and yet weren’t and were then accused of idolatry.
The description of idolatry in Hebrew Scriptures is quite different. In all those cases the people not worshipping the YHWH and know they are not worshipping the YHWH. Or, they know they are worshipping the YHWH and also something that is not the YHWH.
Regarding the Law that mainstream Judaism keeps, I have a question for you.
Was it meant to be kept in the “Land” or just anywhere.
I’m talking about mainstream Jews too–mainstream Orthodox Jews. So I’ll amend my questions slightly: How do you know that mainstream Judaism has replaced God with Law? And how do you know what Moses would recognize or not recognize today?
Is there a recognizable group of Jews today who do follow the Law of Moses in such a way that he would recognize (according to your perception), and who have not replaced God with the Law? What is the name of this group and how do you know they are authentic?
Furthermore, the Torah defines idolatry in various ways. Idolatry is not what you, David, think it is. It is what the Torah says it is. And one of the forms of idolatry the Torah warns us against is worshiping God in any way that is not consistent with the knowledge He imparted to us at Sinai (Deuteronomy 4:10-16). And another is any type of worship that was unknown to our fathers (Deuteronomy 13:6).
According to the Torah, then, worshiping Jesus as a deity is idolatry because he was not revealed as such at Sinai nor was he worshiped by our fathers.
To answer your question, the covenant between God and the people of Israel transcends time and place: it is eternal and everywhere. Thus we are obligated to keep God’s commandments to us, whatever possible, wherever we live. I say whatever possible, because not all commandments apply to all people (some apply only to fathers, some only to mothers, some only to men, some only to women, some only to priests, and so on; furthermore, some apply only to the Land and some apply only during a time when the Temple is functioning and the sacrificial system is in place).
Deuteronomy 30:1-5 tells us that the way to end our dark and bitter exile and be restored to the Land is to return to the commandments that God transmitted to us through Moses. We who love God cling to His commandments which He gave to us as an expression of His love. We hope and pray every day that He end our exile and bring us back; may it happen speedily in our days!
Something on the Law you know but maybe aren’t considering is that it takes into account unintentional sin.
As for example if you kill someone without malice, in the Law of Moses it’s not murder.
God is a just God. It would not be right to treat two people the same, one who intentionally committed sin and the other unintentional.
Hence there is a special provision and sacrifice and process to deal with unintentional sin in the Law of Moses.
What you claim to be idolatry of mainstream Christianity is really a case of mistaken identity.
Idolatry by its very nature must have an element of knowledge of what you’re doing. You make something with human hands etc. You have to know that you are serving other gods that our ancestors have not known, such as the gods worshipped by other religions around us.
mainstream Christianity truly believes it worships the YHWH. On the other hand it is true, mainstream Christianity is in error about the identity of the YHWH (by including Jesus). But that fact puts it in the category of unintentional sin.
In either case whether you want to classify it as idolatry, as mainstream Judaism is fond of doing, or whether you classify it as the unintentional sin of mistaken identity of the YHWH as I argue, I’m sure God will be quick to forgive all who realize and turn from their error.
Even the error of intentional idolatry is forgivable as Deuteronomy 4:29-31 testifies.
So there is hope for both mainstream Judaism and mainstream Christianity for self discovery and change and be forgiven. Personally I think it will be a long slow process for both.
Of course I know about unintentional sin and I do not judge sincere Christians who are misled into idolatry. Traditional Judaism holds that all basically good people, even pagans, go to heaven.
But just because you don’t know you’re making a mistake does not mean it is not a mistake. For a great many years, people smoked cigarettes. They did not know that it was dangerous for their health. That does not mean that it was therefore safe for them to smoke. They unintentionally harmed themselves.
If you eat poison and you don’t know it’s poison, it’s still poison.
We can both agree that God is just and merciful and will take into account the ignorance of those practicing idolatry.
But Jews still recognize it as idolatry and must reject it. And when Christians approach us and try to convince us that we should accept their gods, we defend our faith and give our reasons.
Wrong on the issue of who Judaism claims goes to heaven.
Judaism has flip flopped on the issue many times over throughout the centuries. But generally speaking only the righteous go to heaven. Those who worship other gods, and reject the YHWH are considered among the unrighteous and don’t go to heaven in the eyes of Judaism.
Regarding the “whole” Hebrew Bible and the sin of idolatry, yes it stands out because God gives people a choice to chose Him or reject Him. idolatry as described in the bible as it pertains to those who know the YHWH is the worst sin of all because it involves a choice of knowingly rejecting the YHWH to go after other gods.
mainstream Christianity on the other hand does no such thing. It fervently seeks the YHWH but mistakenly misidentifies Him.
As I said before, if you want to classify it as idolatry then you’d have to qualify it as an unintentional sin, much different than the standard intentional idolatry described in the Hebrew Scriptures as engaged in time and again by the people of Israel.
And as I stated more or less before, if God forgives even the intentional sin of the idolatry of the people of Israel then just think how much more He would forgive the unintentional sin of mainstream Christianity.
David, in case you haven’t noticed, I was agreeing with you that Christians are unintentionally committing idolatry and thus will likely be forgiven so long as they are basically moral and decent human beings.
That does not mean, however, that worshiping Jesus is not idolatry just because done unintentionally, so when we are approached by Christians we point out the error and show them that it is indeed idolatry. Do you agree that this is the right thing for us to do?
Furthermore, as you yourself said, sacrifices were brought for unintentional sins. Therefore, while the unintentional sin is of way lesser magnitude than an intentional one, it still requires repentance.
David, if you accidentally killed someone, let’s say you ran over a child who ran into the street, would you feel terrible? I mean, more terrible than if the accident happened at someone else’s hands? Of course you would. You would feel awful that you were the cause of such tragedy occurred, and you would be little comforted to know that it was just an accident. And that is not even unintentional, so it’s even more exonerating. Unintentional is making a mistake, not knowing better. This example is an accident over which you have zero control. So a fortiori, if it happened because you forgot to buckle your child into his car seat and he flew through the windshield (unintentional versus accidental).
As for who goes to heaven according to traditional Judaism:
The righteous of all nations will have a share in the world of eternal bliss (Tosefta Sanhedrin, XIII:2).
If a pagan prays and evokes God’s name, Amen must be said (Jerusalem, Berachos, 8).
Antonius once asked Rabbi Judah the Prince, “Will I have a share in the world to come?” To which the latter replied, “Yes.” “But is it not written, ‘Nothing will remain in the house of Esau’?” “True,” Rabbi Judah answered, “but only if they do the deeds of Esau” (Avodah Zarah 10b).
No one can become a Kohen or Levite unless he is so born. But if anyone wishes to become a holy and religious man, he can do so even though he is a pagan. Kindness, holiness, and piety are not hereditary and are not the possession of an exclusive race or nation. Justice and piety are acquired through one’s own deeds (Numbers Rabba, 8).
Heaven and earth I call to be witnesses, be it non-Jew or Jew, man or woman, man-servant or maid-servant, according to the work of every human being does the holy spirit rest upon him (Yalkut, Section 42).
Whether Israelite or heathen, if he only executes a righteous deed, God will recompense him for it (Tanna Devai Eliyahu, Section 13).
David– Regardless of which narrative, an angel or a man, it still has nothing to do with Jesus.
To those in the church who say it was Jesus, I would ask, okay, so you are saying there were two virgin births? Who were his parents? Two incarnation events? It is a theological can of worms.
To those like yourself who think it was an angel, I repeat, this is a very temporary messaging format and we are not told to worship it as “God” And this angel returns to heaven with no permanent change in G-ds nature. Not so Jesus. The “son” returns to heaven fused to a human being named Jesus.
I never said the angel was God, nor did I say Jesus was an angel.
I wasn’t supporting the Trinitarian argument, I was merely stating was it was.
Jesus is Jesus and God is God; very simple, that’s the non-Trinitarian Christian argument.
Hi David, if you don’t accept the Trinity, do you believe that Jesus is the “only way”to the father? If so, this is putting another entity before G-d’s face, meaning it’s still idolatrous.
Do you believe the Law of Moses is essential? Or can you destroy Moses, despise the Law and commune with God?
Isaiah 53 is very clear and it testifies beyond a doubt that Jesus is NOT the Messiah – https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/isaiah-53-teaches-that-jesus-is-not-the-messiah/
Both the Law and Moses are means to achieve a goal – making a mistake about them doesn’t come close to making a mistake about God – I don’t have to “hazard a guess” to know this I just read the Bible without Jesus and I see that God commanded about idolatry so many more times than He commanded about any other topic – He compared it to spiritual adultery.
Your argument about minority/majority skirts the point I made in my comment to you – my point was that even if Jesus was who he claimed to be – but if we have no way of knowing that he was – then we need to put his claims on hold.
I articulated many times over on this blog why Jesus’ claims have no credibility – would you care to take a shot at disputing my arguments – not nitpicking on one verse but looking at the total picture?
First of all, claiming that Christianity is idolatry is kind of a cop out. That’s just an easy way to avoid looking at yourself.
You can’t cite an example in Hebrew Scripture because there isn’t any that matches mainstream Christianity’s heart for the YHWH. As I noted above it’s more of a case of mistaken identity and you along with mainstream Judaism take mistaken comfort in labeling it as idolatry.
In short, the description of idolatry doesn’t match. Idolaters know that they are not worshipping the YHWH exclusively.
If you want to be consistent in avoiding the point then you’d have to say that mainstream Judaism can destroy the Jewish Messiah to come and still have God. And you know that’s impossible.
As I said, both are in error.
David, you say you want to leave it up to God to judge which sin is worse, idolatry or rejecting a human Jesus as messiah. But then you play God by seeing into our hearts and discerning our motives: “claiming that Christianity is idolatry is kind of a cop out. That’s just an easy way to avoid looking at yourself” and “you along with mainstream Judaism take mistaken comfort in labeling it as idolatry.”
It is a silly argument, forgive me, seeing as how we “take” as much “comfort” labeling Christianity as idolatry as we do Hinduism, Buddhism, and other idolatrous religions, or labeling Islam as false. Idolatry is idolatry and it’s all the same to us. The only reason we argue with Christians is that Christians, unlike Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims, don’t try to convert us. They don’t come with stacks of arguments to reason us out of our Judaism.
To Rabbi B., I’m not sure which of David’s comments are directed at me and which at you, so forgive my presumption in responding if this was meant for you.
Sorry, I meant to say that unlike Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims don’t try to convert us etc.
I think this was addressed in a post above.
Oh, and merely citing your mistaken arguments, a case does not make.
I also have argued extensively as you know on Isaiah 53 and you brought nothing new to the table to overturn the words of Scripture.
David, please tell me why my arguments are mistaken. I am not arguing about the interpretation of Isaiah 53; I’m merely disputing your contention that it is a clear teaching of your theology. If even Christian scholars disagree about the meaning of this passage and if Jews outright reject the Christological interpretation, then it is logical to say that at the very least the passage is not clear. Please point out the flaw of my logic instead of merely asserting that I am mistaken.
Furthermore, you claimed that Isaiah 53 is a clear teaching among others. What are the others?
That was the first question. The second question also still stands. Why was the majority of Jews wrong to reject Jesus? On what basis should they have accepted him? How do you know that the reasons for his first Jewish followers accepting his claims were valid?
I think I addressed this in a post above somewhere.
yourpharisiefriend, on word reference forums i asked a linguist to explain isaiah 53:10
i asked :
whose guilt? his own?
he replied :
It should be discussed first what אשם means here beyond simply “guilt”. A possible meaning is reparation offering. Another is חטאת = sin. These two possibilities appear is several other biblical verses. Regarding תשים – this is likely to mean “she will place”. Note that נפש “soul” is feminine in Hebrew and the verb is conjugated as feminine. Some say that תשים can be deformation of תושם “will be placed” (Shalom M. Paul, 2008).
So yes, אשם is usually taken as his own, yet this doesn’t make the verse simple to understand. The meaning is disputed over many centuries, sometimes in an apologetic way against Christian attempt to depict the words as a prophetic message about the Christian Messiah.
what are your thoughts on this?
Rambo, I am no linguist, but you do not need to be a linguist to see how laughable is the response you received. All you need to know is a bit of grammar.
First off, the subject of the clause, “nefesh” (soul), is feminine, so the verb is feminine. That’s how it works in Hebrew. So what is Mr. Linguist’s point?
“If his SOUL [feminine subject] will ACKNOWLEDGE [feminine verb] guilt.”
I don’t know what that has to do with proving Jesus is the subject, but I am further mystified by Mr. Linguist’s speculation that “tasim” is supposed to be “tusam.”
Tasim = she will place (active verb)
Tusam = she will be placed (passive verb)
Keep in mind the parts of the sentence: Soul = subject; will place = verb; guilt = direct object. A passive verb cannot take a direct object.
So the literal transalation with tasim: if his soul will place guilt.
But watch what happens when you try to translate it with “tusam”: if his soul will be placed guilt.
Mr. Linguist’s explanation is garbled, makes no sense, doesn’t answer any questions–and I can’t figure out what point it is trying to prove.
I have noted to Eric just yesterday why Jesus is the last person about whom Isaiah 53 can possibly be talking. You can read my comment here:
Because it makes zero sense to claim that Isaiah 53 is talking about Jesus, they play an insane game of gymnastics and twist themselves into contortions over the grammar.
Please let me know if you have further questions,
“Please let me know if you have further questions,”
1. the ss must acknowledge guilt because he is a sinner?
2. the guilt must come from something he did, right?
Rambo, I can’t answer the first question unless I rephrase it so: the suffering servant must acknowledge guilt because he has sinned? Not “because he is a sinner”?
The reason I object to the terminology is that a sinner is one who sins habitually. A righteous person sins occasionally. Just like a liar is someone who lies habitually and an honest person is someone who lies occasionally (or else there is no such thing as an honest person).
You see, the suffering servant is not a sinner. He is a righteous man who sins occasionally.
So, yes, the suffering servant must acknowledge guilt for the sins he has committed. Even the rare sin requires repentance.
And yes, he is guilty because of something he did (or sins he committed).
Does this answer your questions?
thanks for the response
The fact that idolatry is unintentional doesn’t redefine it – it is still 100 percent idolatry – it only mitigates the guilt of the perpetrators – and no one here is discussing the guilt of Christians – perhaps God judges their idolatry leniently because they know not what they do – but it is still idolatry.
And yes – the Bible provides several examples of people worshiping idols thinking they are worshiping the true God – the golden calf at Sinai and the golden claves of Jeroboam – Exodus 32:5 and 1Kings 12:28
That’s fine with me if you want to qualify mainstream Christianity’s worship of what it believes to be the YHWH as 100% unintentional idolatry. God says in His word He takes into account unintentional sin.
But the golden calves in question, contrary to your claim, were examples of intentional sin.
(by the way just as a side note; is this a mistaken theology taught by mainstream Judaism today as well? I mean do Jews in general think because of this teaching that the people of Israel didn’t know the YHWH or what idolatry was?)
Well, if you read Scripture, nothing remotely suggests they didn’t know who the YHWH was or who Moses was.
In the case of Sinai, the people were given the Law by Moses, they knew Moses had led them out of Egypt, they witness first hand the signs and wonders of God through Moses and they personally heard the voice of God. But since Moses was a long time in coming down from the mountain and not knowing what had become of him they created the golden calves with their hands and bowed down and worshipped them claiming these are you gods oh Israel who brought you out of the land of Egypt, knowing the whole while that it was Moses and the YHWH who brought them out of Egypt whom they personally witnessed and not the golden calves which they had just created.
It was a case of intentional replacement of Moses and the YHWH with the work of their hands. They didn’t want to be left in the middle of the wilderness defenseless among potentially hostile nations without a visible god of their own to put on display to give them encouragement.
And God said to Moses:
“I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are.”
That’s not a characterization of a people seeking God. It’s a characterization of rebellion. And terms like stiff necked and rebellion speak to the motive of the heart.
In the case of Jeroboam, it’s even a worse case of intentional sin because he had the example of the first case of the golden calf and the example of Joshua chapter 22 where the tribes west of the Jordan were ready to go to war against the tribes east of the Jordan on the account of nothing more than an alter outside of the house of God which the eastern tribes had built. When it was discovered that it was not for the purposes of worshiping separately outside the house of God, all was forgiven.
Never the less Jeroboam, knowing better, repeated and doubled down on intentional sins not only creating an idol but worshipping apart and separate from the house chosen by the YHWH. He even sinned so much as to repeat the words used in the first golden calf incident: “Here are your gods oh Israel who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
1st Kings 12:
26 Then Jeroboam said to himself, “Now the kingdom may well revert to the house of David. 27 If this people continues to go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, the heart of this people will turn again to their master, King Rehoboam of Judah; they will kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.” 28 So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. He said to the people,[b] “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
But you say they didn’t know better. The people of Judah and Benjamin knew better but somehow mysteriously Jeroboam and Israel were clueless, didn’t know their history, forgot all about the existence of Moses and the YHWH etc., etc.
My point about the Golden Calves was not that they were unintentional – but that they were a worship of a representation of the true God. Idolatry includes the prohibition of making a representation of God.
If you noticed – Yehu eradicated the Baal from Israel but not the Golden Calves (2Kings 10:28). If the Golden Calves were just as bad as the Baal then what was his accomplishment? It is clear that these were two different types of idolatry – one was a worship of a god that was in no way connected with the true God and the worship of the Golden Calves was seen by many as a worship of the true God. This is clear in the fact that Aaron speaks of a holiday to the true God in the context of worship of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:5) and in the fact that Elijah NEVER rebukes Ahab for worship of the calves – this is because in context of worship of the Baal – worship of the calves was not as serious.
It’s very interesting that you base your theology of idolatry on the sins and error of Yehu and Jeroboam, son of Nebat thinking they weren’t as bad as they were.
I never thought I’d be in the position of explaining the scriptural significance of the golden calves to a Pharisee. But here I am.
You stated the following:
“the Bible provides several examples of people worshiping idols thinking they are worshiping the true God – the golden calf at Sinai and the golden claves of Jeroboam – Exodus 32:5 and 1Kings 12:28”
I disputed your claim with scripture in my post above.
I could jut leave it there. But I’ll point out further points of your error you just brought up by using more Scripture so that anyone else reading (with the same error as yours) may understand.
You pointed out that Yehu didn’t destroy the golden calves.
The fact that Yehu didn’t also destroy the golden calves was an error on Yehu’s part for which he received criticism from God, not something to be applauded or cited as evidence that worship of the golden calves was somehow less offensive to the YHWH. Nor is it evidence that worship of the golden calves was unintentional or that the people thought they were as you claim, worshipping a representation of the YHWH.
In your citation of 2 Kings 10:28, you failed (whether consciously or unconsciously) to read the very next verse, 29 which reads:
“But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to commit – the GOLDEN CALVES that were in Bethel and in Dan.”
You state as evidence, that the people at mount Sinai thought they were worshipping the YHWH because Aaron proclaimed a holiday to the YHWH.
Quite the opposite. Aaron called a holiday to the YHWH more than likely to save his own skin (with Moses and the YHWH) in a futile misguided attempt to lessen the offense to the YHWH by mixing idolatry of the golden calves with worship of the YHWH. When Aaron saw (as he stated to Moses) that the people were bent on evil, he made the golden calf. He then built an alter before the golden calf and proclaimed a holiday to the YHWH.
We have the words of the YHWH Himself lest there be any doubt about the serious nature of the offense.
God says in verse Exodus 32:7 – 9
Words to the effect: they have acted perversely, they have been quick to TURN ASIDE from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have WORSHIPED IT AND SACRIFICED TO IT. I have seen this people how stiff-necked they are.
Note, that God doesn’t say that they worshiped an image of me, or cast an image to represent me. He says they worshiped IT, and sacrificed to IT. Furthermore God says they acted “perversely.” Furthermore as to the motive of the heart, God says they are “stiff-necked.” Stiff-necked means that one is stubborn, that one knows what to do but doesn’t do it. In this case they knew, they were given the Law by Moses himself, they heard with their own ears the voice of God, yet they were as God says “QUICK TO TURN ASIDE.”
For you to say otherwise or that the “Golden Calves was seen by many as a worship of the true God” is pure unfounded conjecture and in opposition to the words of God in Exodus 32:7 – 9.
Further more, lest there remain the slightest doubt, when Moses returned he made it clear that the thing was an abomination, terming it a “GREAT SIN” destroying the calf and in anger smashing the two stone tablets at the foot of the mountain. Moses gave the idolaters a choice, to continue in their perversion or to join the side of the YHWH. But they decided against the YHWH, all but the tribe of Levi (who then put 3,000 to the sword at the command of Moses).
Exodus 32:26 reads:
then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the YHWH’s side? Come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him.
WHO IS ON THE YHWH’s SIDE?
Give that some thought in your defense of the golden calves.
So there you have it not only did they choose there perversion, but knowing how bad it was they wanted to continue in it.
Regarding Ahab, it wasn’t that idolatry with the golden calves wasn’t as bad, it was that he added even more to the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat than any before him.
Ahab set up false prophets and nearly killed all of God’s prophets.
And, God says he acted abominably by going after idols urged on by his wife.
1 Kings 25,26:
“Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the YHWH, urged on by his wife Jezebel. He acted most abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the YHWH drove out before the Israelites.”
Remember also, that Jehu, who wiped out the entire house of Ahab was criticized by the YHWH for not also destroying the you guessed it, GOLDEN CALVES, which had been erected by Jeroboam and continued with Ahab; 2 Kings 10:29
David, I’m jumping in here to press you on a couple of points. I remember that you dislike my “shot-gun” approach (as you’ve termed it in the past), so with great restraint 🙂 I’m limiting myself to two questions.
1. You asserted that all Christians agree that Isaiah 53 clearly refers to sinless Jesus who died as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all mankind, even as they might disagree on the finer points of interpretation. Therefore, this passage is very clear. I brought you lists of Christian scholars–real, respected names–who in fact disagree that the servant of Isaiah 53 is Jesus, proving my point that the passage is anything but clear on your interpretation.
Do you still stand by your statement?
2. I presented a devastating challenge to your position that while mainstream Christianity and mainstream Judaism have both got it wrong, you have got it right. Here’s the original comment and I am very curious to hear your thoughts on it:
You should re-read that section in Shemot. There’s a very salient point you have missed and thus caused you draw the wrong conclusions.
I am comforted in the fact that you twist my words – I must be doing something right to get the same treatment from your hands as Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah.
I don’t “base my theology” on Yehu and Jeraboam – my theology is based on the totality of the Scriptural testimony.
Let me remind you – it is YOU who considers the idolatry of Christianity to be equivalent to other sins and it is I (together with all the prophets of Scripture) who insist that idolatry in all of its manifestations is the worst sin and is not comparable to any other.
What I said about the Golden calves is in response to your claim that the Bible provides no example of a confusion of idolatry with worship of the true God and this is wrong – because the worship of the Golden Calves was just that – it was a wrong way of worshiping the true God. I never said that it wasn’t terrible – I did say that it was a bit less than the worship of the Baal – but it is still more horrific than any other sin in the Bible including rejecting the Messiah. What did I say that would make you think that I did not consider this worship a GREAT SIN?
I proved this to you by quoting Aron’s words in context of the worship of the Golden Calf – I pointed out that the prophet’s commendation of Yehu makes no sense if worship of the Baal and of the Golden Calves were one and the same – How do you explain the commendation that God gives Yehu in 2Kings 10:30?
The fact that worship of the Golden Calves is always introduced as worship of the gods that took you out of Egypt tells us that the manufacturers of these claves were trying to generate confusion and convince their followers that this was a way of worshiping the true God – just as the missionaries of Christianity attempt to do today – but it is still idolatry – perhaps an iota less than worship of the Baal – but still far worse than any other sin in the Bible.
If you noticed when Moses commands about idolatry – on at least one occasion he warns against making a representation of the true God (Deuteronomy 4:15).
It is you David who is trying to mitigate the severity of idolatry – not I
I noticed Yisroel that you refute nothing in my post with scripture.
I cited scripture. I twisted none of your words.
David, I have noticed you are completely silent on my challenges to you. Your silence speaks volumes.
On little nitpicky interpretations of Scripture, you are content to go toe-to-toe with Rabbi B., writing very long and scholarly sounding comments. But when it comes to facing the fundamental teachings of Scripture, silence.
The fact of the matter is that you are trying (and have failed with any scriptural credibility) to rewrite history with regard to the golden calf issue.
I said and I’ll restate, that there has not been a single case in Hebrew Scripture regarding idolatry of the Israelites similar to that of mainstream Christianity.
The difference is that in all cases of idolatry, and especially the golden calves, the Israelites and their leaders knew they were worshipping an idol. That would be an intentional sin of idolatry.
Mainstream Christianity thinks it is worshiping only the YHWH.
We agreed this could be termed unintentional idolatry for the sake of argument. Unintentional idolatry by definition is not as serious as intentional idolatry due to the fact that it is “UNINTENTIONAL.”
In the case of Mount Sinai the Israelites were given a chance after the fact to side with the YHWH but they chose not to. This proves intention with full knowledge since Moses, their prophet made the seriousness of their offense known. In addition they had previously received he Law, heard the words of God, etc.
Your arguments to the contrary are nothing more than a fanciful non-scriptural wishful rewrite of the words of God.
Deuteronomy 4:15 is not as you claim a warning against making a representation of the YHWH. Just the opposite. It’s a warning against making a representation of a created thing including not bowing down to created things in the sky etcetera. God makes it clear that He is not a created thing since they saw no form.
But knowing now that you mistakenly think the Hebrew Scriptures teaches that the Israelites thought they were worshiping the YHWH when they bowed down to the Golden calves, rose up to “play” before the Golden calves (a euphemism for having sex) offered sacrifices to the Golden Calves, and even confirmed their rejection of the YHWH when Moses put them to the test and gave them the opportunity to choose the YHWH after the fact, I can see how you’d mistakenly think that they thought they were worshipping a representation of the YHWH.
Your theology is not base on the entirety of scripture. It’s based on select verse while ignoring adjacent verses. That’s why I also said that your theology is based on the error of Yehu and Jeroboam.
Regarding 2 Kings 10:30, you are committing the same error you committed earlier with 2 Kings 10:28. You are failing to take into account the adjacent verses, 2 kings 20:29,31
Yehu was credited for his obedience with regards to destroying the house of Ahab (who had added to the sins of Jeroboam, who had erected the golden calves)
But Yehu was severely criticized because he did not destroy the golden calves, verse 29, because he followed in the sins of Jeroboam verse 30 who erected the golden calves.
Read all the verses not just the ones that tend to make your point and you’ll see what I mean.
David, Christians like you who refuse to listen to the testimony of God’s witnesses are committing INTENTIONAL idolatry.
And lest you say that you don’t worship Jesus as a God, what, pray tell, is the difference, when you make a man the focus and center of your religion?
Who Actually “worshiped” the golden calf. It sounds like your understanding comes from a Hollywood movie. Explain why the different punishments. You’ve done what virtually every Xtian does when reading Torah, read it in a haphazard manner, without paying attention to each and every word. I can’t count the times the Xtian overlooks obvious words that bring the subject to clarity and instead just skim the words.
Here’s a question for you. WHY was it that a “calf” was chosen as opposed to a lamb, or even some other animal. It Can be answered.
It’s not really a credible challenge. Mainstream Christianity holds that Jesus is the atonement for the sins of the world. And mainstream Christianity holds that Isaiah 53 supports that. Out of the millions that claim to be Christians I’m sure I could even find some to claim Jesus is the devil.
I didn’t search for some weird, out-of-step Christians but presented a substantial list of serious scholars whose study of theology consumes their lives. The fact that they disagree with you shows the passage isn’t clear. The fact that you don’t take scholars seriously when they don’t support your view but take them seriously when they do shows your intellectual dishonesty. I remember, time was, when the shoe was on the other foot and you presented scholarly support for your views.
You clearly did not read the link I posted and check out those scholars and theologians.
Originally, I challenged you to find me one place in the Hebrew Bible that clearly teaches that the purpose of the Messiah is to suffer and die to atone for the sins of mankind, and that only through belief in him is it possible to achieve eternal salvation.
You wrote back, Isaiah 53 “among others.”
I pressed you repeatedly for the “others,” but you were not forthcoming. Mitch Glaser, who co-authored “The Gospel According to Isaiah 53,” wrote in that book: ““Before you venture forward in this pilgrimage through Isaiah 53, it is essential to know that no other prophesy in the entirety of the Old Testament Scriptures explicitly links the death of the Messiah with his work of atonement” (page 29).”
Do you still stand by your statement that other than Isaiah 53 there are other sources in Tanach that clearly teach this Christian doctrine? And if so, can you support it? If you cannot, will you retract that statement?
The second part of my challenge is that the teaching had to be clear. You asserted that Isaiah 53 is clear. I countered that it is anything but clear–not only because Jews dispute it but because Christians do as well. To this end, I posted a link with a substantial list of respected scholars and theologians who agree that the subject of Isaiah 53 is Israel or who say it cannot be Jesus.
You dismissed this out of hand, saying that you could probably find a handful of Christians who believe Jesus is the devil.
That is unserious. Here is the link again:
As an example, here is a quote from the linked article:
“It is important to recognize that there is a significant scholarly line of argument that concludes this poem [Isaiah 53] will not bear the theological freight familiarly assigned to it, and that its theological claims are rather minimal…One must recognize a certain dis-ease about making a maximal theological interpretation (a large Christian inclination) on what are at least unstable critical grounds” (Walter Brueggenan, Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary)
In addition, here is another quote to consider: ““Theories which identify the servant with some individual name: Fifteen names have been suggested:
1. Isaiah 2. Uzziah 3. Hezekiah 4. Josiah 5. Jeremiah 6. Ezekiel 7. Job 8. Moses 9. Jehoiachim 10. Cyrus 11. Shezbazzar 12. Zerubbabel 13. Meshullam 14. Nehemiah 15. Eleazar” (from “The Suffering Servant in Isaiah” by Father Hayden Williams of OFM Cap)
And also, Christian Oxford New English Bible identifies Israel as the subject of Isaiah 53.
When something is clear, it means there is no doubt or confusion surrounding it. Do you still stand by your statement that Isaiah 53 is a clear teaching on this Christian doctrine?
In light of all this evidence, I do not see how you can.
Your whole theology of the purpose of the Messiah and the path to salvation rests on one highly disputed (among Christians!) and unclear passage in Tanach. This should trouble you.
Do you believe in collective, iniquity, collective sin, collective blessings, collective curses or punishments?
Interestingly I received an email from Chabad Jewish TV right after this that is on a discussion of “Individual and Collective Destiny” by Shmuel Kaplan.
David, our greatest divide is the Christian doctrine that the purpose of the Messiah is to suffer and die for the sins of mankind, that this Messiah is Jesus, and that the only way to achieve eternal salvation is to accept this belief.
Therefore, it’s a waste of time to chase tangents, get caught up in distractions, and discuss myriad small details. Let us settle this once and for all. (And when we do–if we can finish it–I will be happy to discuss with you my views on collective sin and punishment.)
I challenged you on this doctrine by showing you that the Torah refutes it. Instead of bringing me passages that appear to support other Christian doctrines, show my why the Scriptural citations I presented support rather than refute your beliefs.
This is a two-pronged challenge:
1. There is no clear teaching in Tanach that spells this out. You presented Isaiah 53 “among others.” I showed you why Isaiah 53 is not clear and challenged you to present the “others.”
2. I presented passages that flat-out contradict this Christian doctrine. I am interested to see how you reconcile these passages with your beliefs.
You are a plucky individual, so I know you have the grit to confront this challenge. I’m looking forward to your devastating rebuttal.
David, here’s a challenge.
You wrote that both mainstream Christianity and mainstream Judaism have got it wrong. The implication being, of course, that you, David, have got it right. You possess the only religious truth.
The Hebrew Bible tells us that at the end of days, the Jewish people will repent and return to full Torah observance (Deuteronomy 30). It also tells us that despite our sins and our disobedience, we will always bear God’s testimony as His chosen witnesses (Isaiah 43:10,12; Isaiah 44:8; Isaiah 59:21; Psalms 78:5-8). And finally, the Bible teaches us that in the end, the gentiles will come to the Jews to learn the truth about God (Zechariah 8:23).
The Bible says the opposite of what you believe–that gentile Christians have the truth and that Jews will need to learn religious truth from Christians.
How do you reconcile this?
Good for you.
It’s not that I have right. It’s that God has it right and I’ve just decided to go with God rather than man.
You believe that you Messiah is yet to come. And you believe that base on your understanding of Scripture. Good for you.
David, are you serious? I just showed you God’s words to prove you wrong and you have nothing to say but “Good for you”? You can’t answer the challenge, that much is clear. Are you interested in defending your position at all? The truth has nothing to fear, so what’s holding you back?
You’re essentially saying the same thing: “Everyone else (mainstream Judaism and mainstream Christianity) is following the wrong thing, but me, I’m following God.”
David, you wrote that you go with God rather than with man. But you are deluded. When you accept the belief that a man can die as an atoning sacrifice for your sins, you are repudiating God’s words.
God taught the Jewish people that each man dies for his own sins and that no man can die for another person’s sins.
Moses pleaded with God to take his life if He would punish the Jewish people. God replied–unequivocally, emphatically, and unambiguously–that only the one who sins shall die.
“On the next day, Moses said to the people, you have committed a grievous sin. And now I shall ascend to Hashem–perhaps I can win atonement in the face of your sin. Moses returned to Hashem and said, I implore! This people has committed a grievous sin and made themselves a god of gold. And now, if You would but forgive their sin!–but if not, erase me now from Your book that You have written. Hashem said to Moses, whoever has sinned against Me, I shall erase him from my book” (Exodus 32:30-33)
The rejection of substitutionary atonement is further reiterated in Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:20. Look it up if you don’t believe me. This could not be more clear.
Finally, the idea that we can overcome sin on our own without help from anyone else is taught very clearly in Deuteronomy 28 and 30, Genesis 4:7, Ezekiel 18 and 20. I hope you read these passages carefully.
You are not listening to God, my friend. You are listening to a man who contradicts the word of God.
I’m not repudiating God’s word, but adhering to God’s word.
You and I have a different understanding of God’s word.
I repudiate error. And I started by posting that mainstream Judaism and mainstream Christianity are in error for different reasons.
In the above post you have made some errors.
God taught the Jewish people that each man dies for his own sins and that no man can die for another person’s sins.
That’s overly simplistic.
I don’t really have time to go into it in detail but I’ll give a couple examples of where innocents have or would have died.
In Exodus 32 Moses interceded for the entire nation, for all those who sinned as well as those who didn’t sin in the affair of the golden calf. God was ready to wipe out the entire nation and start over with Moses.
That would have included all those who were not legally responsible, those under 20 years of age including infants. In other words all the innocents would have died along with their parents because of their parents’ sin.
10 Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”
Moses also interceded for the life of Aaron because God was ready to kill him on the spot as well. Aaron later died but not because of the sin of the golden calf.
20 The YHWH was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him; so I also prayed for Aaron at the same time.
But thanks to Moses, God changed His mind about wiping them all out at one time and starting over with Moses. The idolaters in the affair of the golden calf were allowed to raise their young. And Aaron was allowed to be the first high priest of Israel and train the people and his sons.
So the YHWH changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.
Moses also interceded later for the health of Miriam when God afflicted her with a skin disease because of the attempted challenge to the unique authority of Moses.
Regarding each dying for his own sins as noted in Deuteronomy 24 and elsewhere, God also is a God who visits the iniquity of the parents on the children to the 3rd an 4th generation. And He’s also a God who assigns what could be termed as collective sin.
An example of the affects of collective sin is the defeat in battle and death of warriors as noted in Joshua 7 due to the sin of one man.
In the coveting affair of Achan, (Joshua 7), warriors of Israel lost their lives in a rout running from the Amorites because of the coveting sin of Achan.
4 So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but (C)they fled [c]from the men of Ai. 5 The men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them [d]from the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them down on the descent, so the (D)hearts of the people melted and became as water.
When Joshua inquired of God, God let Joshua know that Israel lost the battle and warriors died because Israel sinned.
11 Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.
Yet, it was just Achan who took the devoted things, no one else.
Along with Achan his innocent family members were executed.
24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his [k]oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to (R)the valley of [l]Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you (S)troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” And all Israel stoned [m]them with stones; and they burned them with fire [n]after they had stoned them with stones.
Your approach to Scripture is no different from any of the Christian apologists I have ever spoken to. As is typical, you read the Hebrew Bible, find the Scriptural passages that appear to support your theology, and ignore the ones that flat out contradict it. The fact that you evolved in your belief in Jesus first as a god, then as a human, does not change this reality.
In your eagerness to prove my error, you missed a few important points.
In the story about Moses, you point out that God was prepared to wipe out all the people for the sin of just a few. In Exodus 32, God tells Moses: “And now, leave me alone, and I will be angry at them, and I will consume them, and I will make you into a great nation.”
But Moses doesn’t leave God alone. No indeed. He starts pleading with God, and arguing with Him, and explaining to Him why it’s a terrible idea. So God reconsiders.
Later in the same chapter, Moses pleads again for forgiveness for the people. Now do you see the difference? First, Moses begged for their lives. Now, he’s asking for forgiveness, and it’s a whole different conversation. Moses says, forgive them, and if not, blot me out of Your book. And God says, nope, only those who sinned against Me will I blot out of My book.
The point that you missed here is that earlier, when God is considering wiping out the Jews because of the sins of the few, it’s not to atone for the sins of the few. Scripture says nothing about atonement. Later, when Moses pretty much offers himself as the substitutionary sacrifice, God says, no way.
The examples you cited are all irrelevant for this reason. Moses prays for Aaron, so no one even has to die! The passage that says that God visits the sins of the fathers onto the sons—nowhere does this say that this is to atone for the sins of the fathers. This would have been a good place to add “to atone for the sins of their fathers.” But no, you made the leap in your own mind, from death to atonement. It is not Scriptural.
You spent quite a lot of time proving that God assigns collective sin, explaining that warriors were killed because of the sin of Achan and that his innocent family members were executed along with him. Not to go into too much detail in this story, but where do you see these deaths cited as atonement for sin? Again, you make the leap in your mind from death to atonement. It’s much more obvious that in all these instances it’s punishment. You could legitimately ask why God punishes the innocent along with the guilty. That’s a question for another day. But Scripture doesn’t provide atoning death of the innocent for the guilty as the answer. That’s an explanation you made up.
But that’s not all. You still have to explain why God says things like “He who has sinned against Me I shall blot from my book.” Or “Fathers shall not be put to death because of sons, and sons shall not be put to death because of fathers; a man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deuteronomy 24:16). Or “The soul that sins, it shall die; a son shall not bear the iniquity of his father and a father shall not bear the iniquity of his son; the righteousness of the righteous person shall be upon him and the wickedness of the wicked person shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20).
Seeing as these passages are so clear—that one person cannot die for another person’s sin—it behooves you to explain them away. You can’t just ignore them because they don’t fit.
You also can’t ignore Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 28 and 30, and Ezekiel 18 and 33, which tell us exactly how to repent and atone for our sins without the need for a sinless human mediating sacrifice (“sinless human mediating sacrifice” is a bizarre combination of words). Well, you can do whatever you want, of course, but it is dishonest to ignore all these passages.
Finally, your silence is deafening on my challenge to you about you, the gentile, knowing the truth, while we, the Jews, have it all wrong (your little game of semantics notwithstanding). I showed you Scriptural passages that prove that despite our disobedience, we will always carry God’s truth (Deuteronomy 30:1-2; Isaiah 43:10,12; Isaiah 44:8; Isaiah 59:21; Psalms 78:5-6). And I showed you a passage that predicts that the gentiles will come to the Jews to learn about God (Zechariah 8:23).
Tell me, David, was God lying when He said that each man is responsible for his own sin? Was He lying when He said that each man is capable of choosing his spiritual destiny for himself? Was He lying when He said that the gentiles will need to learn the truth from the Jews?
When the Messiah finally comes, do you think the verse in Zechariah doesn’t apply to you? Do you think I’m going to come to come to you to learn religious truth, or will you come to me? Who’s listening to God, David? Who’s repudiating God, and who is repudiating error, after all?
And God says, nope, only those who sinned against Me will I blot out of My book.
That’s now how Scripture reads.
Moses begins by attempting to make atonement for the entire nation (due to collective sin),
Verses 30 – 32 makes it clear Moses has in mind the entire nation.
In verse 33 God makes it clear that He will not hold guilty the entire nation, so Moses is partially successful. God promises to wipe out of his book only those who had sinned against him.
Therefore Moses was successful in making atonement for all those who would have suffered from collective sin.
That matches perfectly with Christian theology.
You may think you are innocent but in reality have collective sin.
The fact that he didn’t pardon those who sinned against Him directly makes perfect sense as well since they made a habit and lifestyle of refusing to change from despising God. They had seen all His signs and wonders yet continued to test Him.
If you are persistent in rejecting God nothing can atone for you.
Jesus knocks at the door but the person doesn’t have to open it.
It’s a free choice.
30 On the next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, blot me out of the book that you have written.” 33 But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. 34 But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; see, my angel shall go in front of you. Nevertheless, when the day comes for punishment, I will punish them for their sin.”
35 Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf—the one that Aaron made.
Much of your other points are for the most part a misunderstanding of my post.
In the case of Achan and the dead warriors, we have a clear case of collective sin. Had Achan not been found out, no doubt the affects of collective sin would have continued, warriors and/or other bad effects would have persisted. But the killing of Achan stopped all that.
In the case of God visiting the iniquity of the parents’ on the children to the 3rd and 4th generation, I was not making a point of atonement, but citing scripture to show the other side of God as it relates to your one sided incomplete view regarding punishment.
You cited Scripture but selectively, thus portraying an incomplete picture.
Likewise your selection of Scripture as it relates to sin is incomplete and misses the entire point we are discussing in the case of Moses and collective sin.
Regarding the direct sin of Aaron, you wrote:
Moses prays for Aaron, so no one even has to die!
You’ve got that wrong. Praying for Aaron didn’t mean that no one had to die. Moses prayed specifically for Aaron because God was ready to kill Aaron. So, not only did Moses pray for the entire nation but he specifically prayed for Aaron.
19 For I was afraid that the anger that the Lord bore against you was so fierce that he would destroy you. But the Lord listened to me that time also. 20 The Lord was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him, but I interceded also on behalf of Aaron at that same time.
David, I will try to respond to this God willing after the Sabbath or early next week, as I am pressed for time. However, I must point out something astonishing.
Thus far, you have not addressed a single one of the Scriptural passages I presented that refute your position–not a single one! Why is this? If you cannot reconcile them, you ought to reconsider your position.
Have a nice weekend,
David, I realized that we are getting sidetracked. I challenged you to reconcile passages in Scripture that refute the Christian doctrine of the need for a sinless human atoning sacrifice and the need to believe in that to achieve eternal salvation. Instead of refuting the passages, you offered other passages that appear to you to prove collective guilt or the need for intercession. Your understanding of these passages is in error, but that is a conversation for another day.
I’d like to focus only on the Christian doctrine that the only way to eternal salvation is to believe in a sinless human atoning sacrifice, namely, Jesus.
You have not yet reconciled the Scriptural passages that refute this notion. In a comment addressed to Concerned Reader, you attempted to reconcile this by saying that one is not put to death for another’s sin only by a court of law. However, this applies only to Deuteronomy 24:16. This does not apply to Exodus 32:33 and Ezekiel 18:20 (by the way, read the entire chapters of Ezekiel 18 and 33 to see how thoroughly they shred this Christian doctrine into little pieces). It furthermore does not apply to Genesis 4:7 (I can’t remember if I cited that one).
The bottom line is, the more you read the Torah, the more you see how much it contradicts Christianity. Never the twain shall be reconciled.
David, I am waiting for you to retract the following two statements that you made:
1. There are other sources besides for Isaiah 53 in Tanach that clearly teach that the purpose of the Messiah is to suffer and die for the sins of mankind and that only belief in this Messiah will achieve eternal salvation.
2. Isaiah 53 is a clear teaching of this doctrine from a Christian perspective; moreover, it is an unambiguous reference to Jesus.
I brought you strong proof to show your error. Can you show me why I am wrong or admit your error?
In addition, I presented Scriptural passages that teach against this Christian doctrine. Instead of reconciling the two opposing beliefs or admitting they can’t be reconciled, you presented Scriptural passages that appear to support other, less important Christian doctrines.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this,
In the post right above yours I addressed refuted with scripture your points that are related to my original point that I had with Mr. Blumenthal.
I prefer to stay focused until a topic has been completed.
Otherwise it would be a little bit of everything and accomplishing nothing.
By the way,
The central theme of the discussion between Mr. Blumenthal and myself has settled on his contention that the people of Israel worshipped the YHWH by a representative idol in the form of golden calves, first at Mount Sinai and then under Jeroboam and Ahab.
I don’t want to put words in his mouth so you’ll have to get the exact wording of the doctrine form him. But have you ever heard of this doctrine and if so where did you learn it, was it passed down from your parents?
David, I have a lot to write about but no time right now, maybe later this week. So just a quick response to your question:
Yes, Jewish tradition holds that when worshiping a statue, it is representative. I learned this in school, where I received a standard Orthodox education. I couldn’t give you specific sources at the moment, but I think Maimonides discusses this. We assume that the ancients weren’t stupid enough to believe that a statue that they created with their own hands had any power. It always represented a force of some kind. When the prophets castigated idolatry by saying just that, that they were worshiping their own handiwork, they were employing mockery to make a point.
Christians today who kneel in front of a cross and pray would insist they are not worshiping the wooden object but are simply praying to God; the cross just represents him. This is idolatry. It is forbidden to pray before any representative images or statues, Scripture makes that very clear.
It seems that even when you read scripture you have a problem understanding what it says. Could you explain why the Levites only killed 3000 men? If all the people were on the side of the calf?
When Moses called those who were to God to rally to him – he was looking for volunteers to kill other Jews and it is for this that the Levites are commended (Deuteronomy 33:9). He was not asking who is on God’s side as opposed to who was on the side of the calf.
Furthermore – your take on Deuteronomy 4:15 makes no sense. Why would a Baal worshiper care if God showed Israel a form on Sinai or not? It is only someone who is seeking to worship God that would care – as do so many Christians on this very blog – and it is directly to them that God is saying – that they not fall for a missionary ploy that associates a form with God.
Finally – how do you explain that Yehu was commended for eradicating the Baal if the golden calves were just as bad. Do you think it would make sense to commend someone for eradicating murders that are committed with knives but encourages murders that are committed with guns? How do you explain this? – Look also at the commendation that Yoram gets (2Kings 3:2,3).
Again – I am not saying that the sin was not idolatry – it is still far worse than any other sin. I am also not saying that the sin was unintentional – but I am saying that there was a mitigating element of confusion.
I challenge you to answer my three questions (why only 3000?, why would a Baal worshiper care about Deuteronomy 4:15, how can calf worshipers be commended for not worshiping Baal if they are just two of the same).
David, if you wouldn’t mind, would it be too much to call Rabbi B, rabbi? He worked very hard for many years to be a Torah teacher, and it would just be polite to call him rabbi, as you would call any minister by a name befitting his job description. Just saying, no ill will meant. Carry on.
Sure, but I asked him specifically about that and, I can’t quote him exactly, but basically I got that Yisroel was fine. He’s never told me any different. I think it’s a cultural thing rather than a religious thing. Many people call our “pastor” by his first name when talking directly to him. Not Pastor Paul, but just Paul. But I know that many denominations are more formal. On the other hand I’m not a Jew which is why I asked.
Oh, I meant to mention if he ever asked I’d most definitely use any title he preferred.
David I was just reading your responses and Questions to Dina, about the ALLEGED primary role of Moses in establishing an atonement for the people after the calf. You seem to be under the impression (no doubt from your exposure to the church’s theology about sin,) that every man is and only can be a sinner because of Adam’s sin, and because of G-d’s justice in light of it. This is an interpretation that seeks to explain things that we can’t know.
I think you should try very carefully to read the book of Job closely and with an open mind. In Job we are told very very clearly by G-d himself that Job’s friends were all wrong concerning the situation. This is extremely important due to the fact, that all of Job’s friends in their respective chapters PRESUMED HE WAS SOMEHOW GUILTY OF A SIN, WHEN WE LEARN FROM G-D HIMSELF THAT HE WAS NOT AND WAS RIGHTEOUS.
The Church reads the whole Bible seeking the explanations for why G-d does what he does, but this misses the mark and point as expressed by books like Job and proverbs.The point of these texts is that G-d only alone knows and chooses what G-d wants to do, and we as his creations are tasked with grappling with this relationship as it is, in fact it’s part and parcel of being made in his image.
Sometimes a man can be innocent like Job, and G-d will still make his own sovereign choice. By presuming Job’s guilt, in light of original sin, the Church inadvertently misses a key point in the idea of freedom of choice.
For Christians the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the serpent are somehow representative of the root of “evil,” it is argued that humans and or Satan wreck G-d’s perfect creation, so that only G-d (in Jesus) can later redeem it.
Have you ever considered the possibility that this cosmic drama as taught in the Church and NT undercuts the point of free will by making the fate of the whole of creation dependent on a pithy acceptance or rejection of Jesus?
What if G-d placed both the tree and the satan in the garden on purpose intending man to eat? You presume evil, because man is punished by G-d, but you haven’t considered G-d’s actions in Job. After all, what does free will mean, what does eternal life mean, if you’ve never lost what you had?
If G-d hadn’t intended man to eat, would the tree be there at all? The Christian reading puts G-d in a bind where only his son’s death can fix the problem, as opposed to the possibility that just maybe G-d knew just what he was doing the whole time.
Hi Concerned Reader,
There are several errors of your understanding of mainstream Christianity.
Christianity doesn’t presume that God has given all the answers in the bible.
Christianity holds that the bible is God’s expression of himself of the things He wants us to know and do about Him and His creation. It gives us many answers as to the what and the why but not all. It was never meant to be the answer to all the questions of the universe.
The concept of original sin does not remove free choice.
We live in a fallen world affected by original sin and make free will choices of what we will do as a result of the fallen world we live in.
Adam made a free will choice to reject God. God holds Adam accountable in spite of the fact that Satan played a role. Satan is also held accountable. Adam’s decision had ramifications for his offspring who would have to live with the consequences of his sin.
God holds each accountable individually yes, and there is collective accountability as well.
God is not one dimensional as all forgiving or all condemning. God is as follows, from the mouth of God, Exodus 34:
“The YHWH, the YHWH,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
yet by no means clearing the guilty,
but visiting the iniquity of the parents
upon the children
and the children’s children,
to the third and the fourth generation.”
The character of God as expressed above does not change. Laws can change, God does not.
There are numerous examples of collective sin that and I already gave some in my post to Dina, as you read. For example there is the death of the warriors due to the individual sin of Achan. The innocent infant first child of King David and Bathsheba died because of his sin.
2 Samuel 12:
14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the YHWH, the child that is born to you shall die.”
Christians believe that God established one way to inherit eternal life, through His son. Anyone can have life in the age to come by accepting God’s son.
Mainstream Christianity believes that works does not get one to inherit eternal life. Yet mainstream Christianity is a little weak on the concept and role works plays.
We will also all be judged on our works, although works doesn’t earn one a ticket to life in the age to come, we will be judged on our free choice of how we live our life here and now, how we treat others, etc. The way to think of it is that God provided Jesus to pay the price to earn for us eternal life, and our works will be taken into account when we are there, to our good or to our harm.
For Christianity, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the serpent are not representative of the root of “evil,”
Our own free will thoughts expressed in actions can be evil.
What if G-d placed both the tree and the satan in the garden on purpose intending man to eat? You presume evil, because man is punished by G-d, but you haven’t considered G-d’s actions in Job. After all, what does free will mean, what does eternal life mean, if you’ve never lost what you had?
God tests one to do them good in the end. God never entices a righteous person to do evil. God tested Job to do him good in the end. And is also the case with Abraham and others.
In the case of Job there was no rebellion of the YHWH. Job remained faithful in spite of his hardship.
In the case of Adam there was rebellion.
We don’t have to speculate.
God tells us why Adam was punished.
God said in Genesis 3:
17 And to the man he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,
and have eaten of the tree
about which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
In the case of Job God never said he was punished for a sin.
God said that what Job said was right, and what his friends said was wrong.
God doubly blessed Job in the end.
God characterized Job as NONE like him in all the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.
So to reiterate, the difference between Job and Adam:
In the end, God brought hardship on Job to strengthen him and give him a double blessing.
The case of Adam represents God’s accountability for those who reject Him.
David, Do you honestly think Judaism really teaches that works (such as being converted and becoming Jewish) gets you eternal life exclusively? Do you believe that Jews teach their children that they earn salvation solely by themselves?
Notice that often in scripture, the righteous say “if I have found favor (Hebrew Chen, Greek Charis, GRACE) in your sight please let me DO X. Grace and deeds are bound together in the Jewish Bible, because the commandments are Israel’s marriage contract, service via commandments is an expression of love of G-d, not a curse that nobody could live up to. This is the central difference between Judaism and Christianity.
I realize that Christianity fully believes that it preserves free will, but the very idea that human nature needs repair because Satan tempted Adam so that he rejected G-d is not readily apparent from Jewish scripture read on its own. The idea that Satan and 1/3 of the Angels rebelled against G-d is based on apocalyptic literature, and Midrashic attempts by people to deal with the problem of evil, not based on a straightforward reading of the Jewish Bible. Your whole premise regarding humans and a sin nature isn’t apparent from the Torah, and that’s the whole point.
BTW I do know Christianity very Well. I was involved in the Church for 20 years and have a degree in comparitive religion, with a personal emphasis on christian history/origins. I don’t know your eschatological views, whether you are Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, but I do understand. Free will isn’t just about a choice, it’s about free agency The Church misses this, because it boils the bible down to simple acceptance or rejection. If G-d’s creation is under the dominion of the “god of this world,” that means logically that he has a competitor for the human heart. This teaching is not Torah based, it is only found in non canonical pseudepigrapha.
Mainstream Christianity believes that works does not get one to inherit eternal life. Yet mainstream Christianity is a little weak on the concept and role works plays.
Actually David, “mainstream” Christianity is technically defined, by sheer force of language, the largest groups who preserved the NT text earliest, and who try to live Christian teachings, namely the historic Christian Churches. This is historically, Orthodox and Catholic Ones. Your premise that mainstream seems to be a sola fide/sola scriptura approach shows that you have an inadvertent and unintentional bias against a very large portion of believers in Jesus. Many Many Christians do not believe in core Protestant premises, (our history is full of information about this question, and the violence associated with it.) Christianity preserves one choice, a yes or a no, a heaven a hell, this is not Torah.
In the end, God brought hardship on Job to strengthen him and give him a double blessing.
The case of Adam represents God’s accountability for those who reject Him.
David, You are missing the value of repentance in the Bible. G-d gave Adam the chance to save himself, to repent when he said, “Adam where are you? Have you eaten from the tree that I told you not to?” G-d is offering a fix, he’s not demanding strict justice, but Adam doesn’t repent, he passes the buck, and this gets him punished.
I see the difference, you note, but the difference isn’t the point I’m making. You are inadvertently holding scripture to an unstated premise of strict justice on G-d’s part, in light of a given sin. In your theology, death is an enemy that is to be vanquished by Jesus, in Judaism, death is a servant of G-d, ie the Angel of death in the Exodus? Your reading presumes a cosmic battle between light and dark. This premise is not directly in the Hebrew Bible.
I only have time to briefly cover the first paragraph.
Could you explain why the Levites only killed 3000 men? If all the people were on the side of the calf?
When Moses called those who were to God to rally to him – he was looking for volunteers to kill other Jews and it is for this that the Levites are commended (Deuteronomy 33:9). He was not asking who is on God’s side as opposed to who was on the side of the calf.
That’s faulty speculation on your part.
Moses didn’t tell the Levites or anyone else that they would kill their fellow Israelites until after they made the decision to gather around Moses signifying they were on the side of the YHWH. That Moses probably already knew what God was about to command him to do is besides the point because there is not a shred of Scriptural evidence that he for warned anyone of his plans.
The choice for each and every Israelite was clear and simple but profound; you were either on the side of the YHWH and signified that choice by going to Moses at the gate or you stayed in the camp with the golden calf.
Regarding the 3000 killed, God already made it clear to Moses on the mountain that because Moses had interceded on behalf of the entire nation, God had already changed His mind about destroying them all at once. He would as you know punish the guilty over time which lasted 40 years. He began with 3000. And then killed more through plagues until eventually all who were over the age of 20 at the time of the golden calf were dead (except Caleb and Joshua). Why God chose to start with 3000 is irrelevant as far as the it pertains to your, as of yet unproven through Scripture, contention that the Israelites thought they were worshipping the YHWH by way of the golden calf.
More than likely the 3000 was a symbolic gesture of God to express His extreme anger over the idolatry of the golden calf while at the same time reestablishing the authority of Moses.
In any case it has nothing to do with your argument that the people thought they were worshipping the YHWH one way or the other.
So please tell me.
If the people thought they were worshipping the YHWH by way of the golden calf, why did they not choose Him when given the chance?
If you or I violated the law of idolatry by making a thing with your hands and then bow down to it only days after receiving the law prohibiting such behavior, and then chose the thing rather than the YHWH, I’d say our intentions were pretty well confirmed.
It should not be a surprise then to anyone that in His anger concerning the golden calf, God referred to His people as stiff-necked.
Stiff-necked refers to stubbornness, knowing what to do but rebelling instead.
25 When Moses saw that the people were running wild (for Aaron had let them run wild, to the derision of their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the YHWH’s side? Come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27 He said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side, each of you! Go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor.’” 28 The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded, and about three thousand of the people fell on that day. 29 Moses said, “Today you have ordained yourselves[c] for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of a son or a brother, and so have brought a blessing on yourselves this day.”
“Who is on the YHWH’s side? Come to me.”
Simple but profound.
In your effort to “prove” that I can’t read Scripture – you have confused your Scripture and have inadvertently demonstrated who it is that is reading things into Scripture that are not there.
You confused the sin of the spies with the sin of the golden calf. It is by the sin of the spies where God says that He will kill them out over 40 years – not by the calf. By the calf God had only told Moses at that point that He relented from the evil (Exodus 32:14). later He told Moses that He will hold it against them when they sin in the future (32:34) – but He says nothing about killing them. So you still didn’t answer my question about why only 3000 were killed by the Levites. And of-course you didn’t answer my other two questions.
But let me show you why your read on Scripture (about Moses standing at the gate of the camp and asking for those who were to the Lord to come to him – was a call to see who is on God’s side versus those who were on the side of the calf) is inaccurate.
You claim that the choice was to “stay in the camp with golden calf” or come to the gate to Moses. Problem – the golden calf was already destroyed (32:20) – so your interpretation fails. Furthermore – Moses already gave the bitter waters to the people to drink – no one was “on the side of the calf” anymore. The significance of the “gate” is that a gate is a place of judgment and the seat of the elders as is obvious from so many places in Scripture.
Finally – the word “side” in your translation of the verse (32:26) is not there in the Hebrew.
There is more to this such as why did Joshua and Caleb NOT rally to Moses’ cry, why was no one punished for not rallying, what were they thinking when they made the calf if they only lost Moses (32:1), what did they mean when they said that this is the gods that took them out of Egypt – did they really think that it was the calf that took them out of Egypt? – these are for you to consider. Meanwhile I encourage you to realize that your read of Scripture is erroneous and to attempt to answer my other two questions https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/03/13/devotion-and-rationalizations-excerpt-from-kosher-reality/#comment-17630
Thanks for the correction on the 40 years. Yet you still fail to take into account that God was ready to kill all at once, ALL the Israelites. God changed his mind. So then He wasn’t going to put to the sword all the Israelites right after he said He wouldn’t kill them all. Hence 3000 was as I stated more than likely an expression of His extreme anger to teach the Israelites how great a sin it was that they committed. In addition it was an opportunity for God to reaffirm the authority of Moses in the eyes of the people.
Whether the golden calves were already destroyed or not is not clear from Scripture and either way is irrelevant to your point that they thought they were worshipping the YHWH through the golden calf.
It doesn’t matter which English translation you want to use with regard to Exodus 32:26, they all boil down to a choice. In addition the Hebrew clearly shows a choice. If you are “for” the YHWH come to Moses. Hence it looks like to me you’re sidestepping the issue. Cite which ever translation you want and expound on what you believe it is saying if not a choice.
“Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!”
“Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.”
The complete Tanach
Whoever is for the Lord, [let him come] to me!”
KJV (with some Hebrew cross ref.)
Who x4310 [is] on Yähwè’s יָהוֶה 3068 side? [let him come] unto x413 me.
Choose the YHWH or not. You signify that choice by going to Moses at the gate. I know the gate is often the seat of judgment occupied by the leadership of the local (not just among Israelites). That would lend more credibility to my argument than yours.
All the Levites came to Moses. What excuse could the others possibly have other than that they did not choose the YHWH? And they signified that choice by not going to Moses.
I am interested to learn more about what you believe was the practice of YHWH worship through idols, where it came from, is it mainstream Judaism, did your parents teach this as well, do Jews today believe that the Israelites also believed that other idols (other than claves represented the YHWH) hence the prevalence of idolatry, etc.
Please cite on line references by those that share your view that the worship of the golden calves of Sinai and Jeroboam (and maybe even other idol worship) were or are thought to be representative of worship of the YHWH.
You really mean to say that the 3000 were nothing but an “expression of G-d’s Anger”. Now, THAT is Astonishing, to say the least.
You are showing by this statement and the rest that it is ALL opinion based. It is becoming more clear why each individual Xtian, eventually, creates his own “personal religion”.
I was responding to the question put to me to express my opinion which really has no bearing one way or another on the central point which is that according to Mr. Blumenthal, the Israelites made the golden calves both at Sinai and under Jeroboam as a representative idol to worship the YHWH.
By the way, do you happen to know whether or not this belief in the claimed representative nature of the calves and perhaps other idols is or was held by mainstream Judaism?
But back to the 3000:
Scripture doesn’t go into specifics as to why God chose to kill 3000 rather than 300 or 30,000 or any other number for that matter. But we know from Scripture as I stated above that He had already decided not to wipe them out completely in an instant and start over with Moses at that time.
We also know from Scripture that God often and consistently showed His displeasure, even extreme anger by sending a plague in the form of sword, pestilence, or some other calamity. And He did this consistently throughout the desert years (lasting 40 years) and beyond into the promised land.
God said here in the case of the golden calf and again in the case of the rebellion in the bad report of the promised land that he intended to wipe them out and start over with Moses. Yet Moses, as you may know, interceded on both occasions. Although he didn’t wipe them out in an instant He did begin destroying them which continued over a period of 40 years.
We know for example that God considered that the Israelites despised the YHWH as He expressed it in the affair of the golden calf (characterizing the people as stiff-necked, meaning rebellious) and again in the rebellion not to enter the promised land.
11 And the YHWH said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?
12 I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”
We see documental proof that in both cases He was ready to wipe them out in an instant.
The golden calf:
9 The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10 Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.”
God references the “testing” the people put Him to and the failure of the people to obey His voice even since Egypt and in the wilderness (that would include the golden calf) up to and including the rebellion to enter the promised land.
22 none of the people who have seen my glory and the signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have tested me these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, 23 shall see the land that I swore to give to their ancestors; none of those who despised me shall see it.
Your own…personal….Jesus….someone to hear your prayers….someone whose there.. 🙂
I am sincerely impressed by your ability to admit a mistake – it is a quality that I have not seen much of from Christians.
Your statement that it is not clear from Scripture if the golden calf (it was one) was destroyed by time Moses made his announcement is wrong – Scripture does make it very clear – just read 32:15-29 – check out verse 20 and tell me which part is not clear.
Your statement about “reestablishing the authority of Moses” is also refuted by Scripture – Moses’ authority was firmly reestablished as soon as he returned – read the same verses – he already gave all of Israel to drink from the waters before he made that announcement – they all submitted to his command.
It is clear that your understanding of the events is not coming from the book – is there a movie about this?
The Jewish commentators on Scripture such as Malbim point out how the Scriptures lead us in this direction (that worship of the claves was a worship of a representation of God) – where you can find this online – I do not know – I am not familiar with online resources.
your point about 3000 being a “starting point” for God to kill them all is also non-scriptural – nowhere does God say that He will eventually kill them all after He relented. furthermore – these were the Levites executing judgment – how did they decide who to kill?
So your answer to my first question leaves much to be wanted and you did not begin to answer the next two questions.
As I stated earlier the exact chronology of the event of the destruction of the golden calves doesn’t really change the argument one way or another.
But the time line of Deuteronomy 9 supports the argument that the destruction of the golden calf happened AFTER the SECOND 40 days/nights of Moses’ fasting back up on the mountain.
It leaves out the event of the 3000 killed.
Yet Exodus 32:25 makes it clear that the event of the killing of the 3000 took place “WHEN” Moses saw the people running wild to the derision of their enemies because Aaron allowed them to run wild.
It is inconceivable that Moses or God would have let the people run wild for another 40 days while Moses was on the mountain a second time. Therefore the running wild took place while Moses was on the Mountain the first time and came down and broke the tablets.
Additionally Exodus 32 states in the last sentence that God sent a plague among the people. so I doubt they would have been in any mood after the killing of the 3000 and the plague to run wild for another 40 days.
The most likely chronology then would be as follows:
ten commandments given
people hear the voice of God
Moses gives the people the law
Moses leaves Aaron and Hur in charge and goes up the mountain
first 40 days of fasting
people run wild, rise up to play, worship the golden calf
God tells Moses to go down to his people who have acted perversely
Moses breaks the two tablets
Moses stands at the gate and calls for those who choose the YHWH to come to him.
Levites kill 3000 as ordered by Moses by the mouth of God.
Moses returns to the Mountain for 2nd 40 day/night fasting
Moses returns with the second set of two stone tablets
Moses destroys the golden calf.
Or, Moses may have ordered the beginning of the destruction while he was away the second time and then finished the job upon his return.
your point about 3000 being a “starting point” for God to kill them all is also non-scriptural – nowhere does God say that He will eventually kill them all after He relented.
God makes it clear that He would “punish” those who sinned against Him. We know from Scripture that those who sinned against Him consistently and repeatedly were all those age 20 and over with the exception of Joshua and Caleb.
After the 3000 God continued with His plan and sent a plague.
Therefore your response is not consistent with scripture and mine is.
33 But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.
Nevertheless, when the day comes for punishment, I will punish them for their sin.”
35 Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf—the one that Aaron made.
Moses’ authority was firmly reestablished as soon as he returned –
God was continually reaffirming the unique authority of Moses and others who were challenged in whom He gave special authority.
Regarding the gold in the water. Probably as noted above your time line is off which would null and void the point you made. in addition, your logic is off the mark when it comes to making the people drink the gold. By pouring the powdered gold in the water drinking supply the people would have naturally drank it. Scripture doesn’t say how it was done. That’s conjecture on your part.
The case of the event of Aaron and Miriam in their attempt to challenge the unique nature of Moses’ leadership is a case in point where God reaffirmed the authority of Moses.
The fact that it was already well established is beside the point. When challenged, God reaffirms.
By the way, you didn’t really expound on any of my questions regarding the specifics of your doctrine of representative worship of the YHWH through an idol.
Is it mainstream Judaism, (doubtful if you can’t cite anything on line) does it include other idols or just calves, was it taught to you by your parents, etc, etc.
One other thing that I forgot to mention on the chronology of events with regard to the killing of the 3000 and the grinding the golden calf into powder.
Many times scripture as you may know, lists things out of chronological order. But I’ve noticed that when you see time line event identifiers then you can be sure of the sequence of events.
Examples of sequence identifiers are words like “then” “while” “when” etc.
In the scripture you cited (Exodus 32:20) to support your case that the destruction of the golden calf happened before the killing of the 3000 there is no time or sequence identifier but in my citations backing up my version there are.
I’ll explain. See the word “then” which is used as a sequence identifier at the beginning of the verse in Deuteronomy 9:21?
By the way, did you also notice that Moses threw it in the water supply (the river running down the mountain) as I noted in my last post? The people were not on the mountain which means they were down stream drinking the water out of the river with the gold in it.
21 Then I took the sinful thing you had made, the calf, and burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it thoroughly, until it was reduced to dust; and I threw the dust of it into the stream that runs down the mountain.
So now all we have to do is see what preceded the event of destroying the golden calf to pin down when it happened.
Deuteronomy 9:18 – 20 gives us the answer. It was the second trip up the mountain.
18 Then I lay prostrate before the Lord as before, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin you had committed, provoking the Lord by doing what was evil in his sight. 19 For I was afraid that the anger that the Lord bore against you was so fierce that he would destroy you. But the Lord listened to me that time also. 20 The Lord was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him, but I interceded also on behalf of Aaron at that same time.
So now I hope you see that your version of events has much less scriptural support than my version.
And now that we know that the destruction of the golden calf was on the second trip all you have to do is determine when the 3000 were killed and I already argued that in the post above and established that it happened when Moses came down form the 1st trip up the mountain.
To reiterate from the above post, we know that from 2 more time-line sequence identifiers contained in Exodus 32 (“when” at the beginning of verse 25 and “then” at the beginning of verse 26).
25 When Moses saw that the people were running wild (for Aaron had let them run wild, to the derision of their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me!”
And we know that the people were running wild when Moses came down form the first trip up the mountain due to several scriptural references.
As it pertains to the 1st trip up/down the mountain:
6 They rose early the next day, … and rose up to revel.
19 As soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing…
First let me tell you that Kuzari, Ibn Ezra, Nachmanidies, Radak, Ralbag, Malbim all explain the sin of the golden calf as worship of a representation of God – if this is not mainstream Judaism for you – then please tell me what is. The fact that I can’t help you find these works online is testimony to my unfamiliarity with the internet and perhaps to the fact that many mainstream Jews do not use the internet.
As to your “proof” from “time line event identifiers” – not one of these “identifiers” is present in the original Hebrew – the only “time identifier” in the Hebrew is the phrase “and it was on the morrow” – Ex. 32:30 which confirms my understanding of the sequence of events and not yours.
Can you please explain why you see Deuteronomy 9:21 following verse 18 but not preceding verse 25?
Can you please explain why you consider it “likely” that Moses should leave an idol in the camp for 40 days after having been commanded by God to destroy idols (Ex. 23:24)?
How does it make sense to you that Moses pleads to God to forgive Israel while the sin is still being committed?
How does it make sense to you that Moses addresses all the people telling them that they sinned exceedingly (Ex. 32:30) while they are still in the process of sinning?
For your information – the original Hebrew does not have the word “running” (as in “running wild”) in Ex. 32:25. The passage is not telling us that the people were still sinning at that point in time – it means that the people had not fully grasped the severity of their sin and would sin again under the same conditions. The word “parua” means “unbridled” – they had not fully realized how the commandment of God limited their worship.
You realize of-course that this entire discussion is irrelevant – even if my understanding of the golden calf is in error (which it is not as every subsequent post confirms) but you still haven’t answered my other questions (Deuteronomy 4:15 and 2Kings 3;2,3) Furthermore – the event in Judges 17,18 also confirms my position as you rightly pointed out.
David. Something we might consider for a moment. The meaning of the word Apologetics, often used readily in Religious hermeneutics. In the Greek the term means to speak in defense of. Ponder that you only ever speak in defense of a proposition that you already hold to be true, or that you lack evidence for. You will not find yourself defending something that is objectively true, (as there would be no need to, because the truth would be self evident to all people,) or you could be reasonably apathetic to a proposition, (because it wouldn’t need defending. Ex. The proposition water is wet doesn’t need apologetic defense.)
Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, “speaking in defense”) is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of information.”
A proposition is only in Need of Apologetics when it’s premises are not certain beyond a reasonable doubt.
David an answer to your question to rabbi B Here: “you didn’t really expound on any of my questions regarding the specifics of your doctrine of representative worship of the YHWH through an idol.”
I’m sure you have heard of the serpent of brass, am I correct? The one that Moses was commanded by Hashem to build? In 2 kings 18:4 the king had to have this icon destroyed because (though it was good, and commanded by G-d to be constructed,) the people made its form and presence, the center of their relationship with G-d. BTW they probably thought G-d wouldn’t mind, after all, this brass serpent was made by Moses! How could it be bad? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 4 and 30-31.
Deuteronomy 4: 9 Only be careful,f and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teachg them to your childrenh and to their children after them.
Israel was told to guard the experience of Sinai (and its commands) As long as they live, and teach their children lest they corrupt themselves. What did that mean? New International Version
“so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of ANY SHAPE, whether formed like a man or a woman, etc.”ISRAEL WAS TOLD YOU SAW NO FORM, YOU HEARD ONLY A VOICE.
When people make images of ANY SHAPE, it gives them solace, comfort, and a sense of control. That illusion of COMFORT and control is the real true danger of Idolatry. It is a mistake to believe that only other gods constitute idols. People can make an idol of G-d himself, (or even of people he sends as messangers,) like Nebuchadnezzar tried to do with Daniel, and just as the Prince of Tyre in Lebanon tried to do with himself when he declared he himself was El.
Nebuchadnezzar even tells Daniel, (surely your G-d is G-d of gods, before he does his idolatrous service of incense to Daniel.) Gideon also made an idol out of a vestment for use in the Tabernacle.
This is (I believe) a reason why
1. G-d hid Moses’ body,
2. why Moses destroyed the tablets,
3. why the Ark is lost, and
4. why the priesthood is not given an allotment of land.
(If priests had land they might have a centralized corrupted power base, and people might even neglect the temple in Jerusalem, just as the Samaritans do.)
Idolatry is Avodah Zarah (strange Service, ie something that G-d didn’t clearly unambiguously command.)
Cool, I’ve tried to explain this on this blog before and was shot down. I also agree that idolatry is in the heart. You can bow down to a king, serve a king, and bow down to God, serve God. What’s the difference? The heart. Knowing in your heart that the king is the king and that you give him devotion and reference and obedience and serve him as befitting a king and knowing in your heart that God is God and you give him reverence and devotion and serve Him as the only God, giving no other that place in your heart. The two are separate in your heart, never the twain shall meet.
No mistaking God for man or man for God, or the son of God for God, or God for the son of God.
The two are one in purpose not substance, as was with Moses, so it is with Jesus.
In the original languages (Greek and Hebrew) of Scripture for the most part, the majority of occurrences of “bow down” when it is translated into English, it is left as “bow down” when referring to man, and changed to “worship” when referring to God.
Do you see the bias?
People then come away with a misconception, that only God is “worshiped” and man is “bowed down” to. Then we mistakenly think that the difference is in the word “worship” when in reality the difference is in the heart, the action of “bowing down” is common to both and the same in each event, whether to man or God.
Honor, revere, obey, bow down to and serve only God as God and only man as man. God as God and Moses as Moses. God as God and Jesus as Jesus. Don’t confuse the two in your heart. It doesn’t matter that you bow down to both.
And I think idolatry doesn’t have to take the form of anything. If as you said we place the thing before God, as in more important than God then that’s idolatry.
I think for many the Law of Moses has become their idolatry.
How does a command become idolatry? The law if moses is the law of god right?
You mention the heart, but a”heart issue” cannot be relied upon for truth value. Many people serve various things with the heart, they know “proper” distinctions in their heart, but not formally. Any idolater can say, “I know so and so is only a mouthpiece, but I live my life by it anyway, because it’s true “in here” namely the heart. Hinduism is a great example. If you ask them, how many gods, they will say one. The difference between Mahayana and Therevada Bhuddist schools is another. Therevada say Buddha isn’t divine, Mahayana say he is.
Jews do not and cannot accept God as operating within or relying on a form, because to do this blurs lines and causes needless division. If Jesus is anything more than a human rabbi to a given person, judaism cannot see Torah true value in it.
He isn’t relevant in terms of atonment, because only a repentant life will atone for your sins. Ezekiel plainly says a man dies for his own sins.
Hi Concerned Reader,
That stemmed from the Law of Moses expressed in Deuteronomy.
And as I noted with Dina and in a post I just made with you, you are making the mistake of not taking into consideration the entire whole nature of God. You’re seeing Him too one dimensional. If you read the other post you’ll see what I mean.
Remember that along with steadfast love, God by no means clears the guilty,
but visits the iniquity of the parents
upon the children
and the children’s children,
to the third and the fourth generation.”
16Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their parents; only for their own crimes may persons be put to death.
So Ezekiel is nothing new. “Only for their own crimes may persons be put to death.”
To reconcile the above, (which Judaism does not do) we know that God has killed the innocent children, such as the child of King David while under the Law of Moses, seemingly in contradiction to Deuteronomy 24:16.
Judaism holds this to be a contradiction in Scripture.
But in the case of King David, God himself killed the child. In the cases of Deuteronomy 24 and Ezekiel God is giving orders/commands to the Israelites as to how THEY should handle death cases.
Also, If you reread Ezekiel you’ll actually see that God is saying something different than you thought.
Again the whole point is how THEY, Israel, should handle death cases.
In addition, the following pertains.
As it pertains to Israel and how THEY should handle death cases, God says basically that as long as Israel’s ways are unfair and NOT following His rule in how to handle death cases, He will judge them according to their own perverted concept and hold the children, parents and others accountable in the perverted unfair way of Israel.
It was up to Israel to change and then God would respond in kind.
25 Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?
29 Yet the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?
30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God.
Remember that along with steadfast love, God by no means clears the guilty,
but visits the iniquity of the parents
upon the children
and the children’s children,
to the third and the fourth generation.”
You have selectively quoted. The verses say, he visits the iniquity of the parents in the children to the 3rd and 4th generation OF THEM THAT HATE ME! G-d is not expecting humans to meet some immovable standard.
The issue is David, you are presuming to know about G-d’s nature, and his reasons for acting, just like Job’s friends were doing. Again, you miss the point the author of Job was making. You cannot know why G-d makes his sovereign choices. That’s the point of the book in context.The Church’s doctrine cannot accept this simple fact, it has to explain why, so original sin makes sense of an apparent contradiction to them. Maybe there isn’t a contradiction, maybe G-d makes his own decisions, maybe G-d is above catagories of good and evil?
I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.
G-d creates tests, he sends false prophets to test Israel’s loyalty, he sends pestilence, G-d brought death to the firstborn of Egypt. (Death AKA Satan AKA Samael AKA Malach Ha Mavet ) was his servant, his instrument in Egypt and in Job, not his opponent. The Church teaches that Satan is a bad guy. Tanach teaches he is a servant. Original sin misses the central point as expressed by the Torah itself. Beside him (Hashem) there is no god, ie no competition for hearts and souls.
David, you keep saying the Law of Moses is idolatry, but as Larry pointed out, it’s the Law of God. Moses simply transmitted it. How can it be idolatry to obey God? Is that not like saying that obeying your parents is dishonoring them?
So, number one, what do you mean by that (and can you support it with Scripture); and number two, who do you know who fits that description?
This post may be out of order here. I’m just placing it at the bottom because the thread is getting rather long and not sure where it should go.
I was doing my daily bible reading yesterday and came to Judges 17 and 18.
I’m curious as to your opinion as it relates to this passage and the golden calves. Do you hold the example in the passage to be an example of representative idolatry (like the golden calves) or another form of idolatry?
I have about a minute to comment – I hope to be back here tomorrow. I will just make these few points.
I don’t mind if you call me Yisroel or Blumenthal (Concerned Reader thanks for your concern – but I want my words to be weighed on their own merit and not on the basis of any imagined authority)
And yes – Judges 17-18 is an example – what do you say?
I will get back to you on your irresponsible interpretation of the golden calf story
No worries rabbi, just seemed more polite to me. But hey, it’s ok with you, so that’s cool. 🙂
Thanks for getting back to me. I had left off thinking about this topic of representative idolatry. I shifted my thinking to collective iniquity and collective forgiveness (also found in Exodus by the way).
By the way, what is representative idolatry worship of the YHWH known by generally in mainstream Judaism so that I can refer to it properly and others will know what I’m talking about?
At this point if you say that it is mainstream Judaism, I’ll take your word for it.
However, it must be a most minor of minor doctrines seeing how I can find everything else that Jews believe in on the internet; but this is slim pickins at best.
Also, I’m a little surprised that you didn’t refer to Judges 17 and 18 to support your case.
With that in mind, what else do you consider to be representative idolatry worship of the YHWH found in the Hebrew Scriptures?
I have a little different take on what this all means. I think there is a deeper meaning than just representative idolatry.
But I will say that I can see how you came to your conclusions.
At this point I have no time to get into it. I’ll get back to this next though before I respond to another post.
I forgot about Judges 17,18 when I first presented my arguments.
I don’t know that representative idolatry has a name amongst those who talk of it. I would not call it a “doctrine” as in “teaching of faith” – it is merely a matter of Scriptural interpretation as to whether the golden calf was representative idolatry or raw idolatry.
This that representative idolatry is forbidden is explicit in Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:15) and is not a matter that is discussed because it is so obvious.
Let me study the Scripture again and get back to you with a more complete picture of this matter
I think I’ll treat each case (Mount Sinai, Jeroboam, the Judges 17,18) individually and in this post I’ll just stick with Mount Sinai, and move on to the other cases in future posts as time permits.
As it relates to the golden calf at Mount Sinai a stronger case could be made for replacement theology rather than your representative theology. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter though.
In either case whether you classify it as representative idolatry or replacement idolatry, it was done intentionally (a key factor in the severity and punishment), with forethought and full knowledge that it was idolatry, and being idolatry that it was wrong and that God considered it a rejection of Him.
Not only did they reject the YHWH, but they rejected Moses as well and everything that he had shown them and taught them.
1. Regarding the state of mind just prior to and following the making of the image of the golden calf, we know the following from Scripture.
a. The people tell Aaron that Moses was taking a long time in coming back to them. They expressed that they did not know what had become of him. They stated that Moses was the man who brought them up out of the land of Egypt. Not knowing the whereabouts of Moses, the man who brought them up out of Egypt, and not knowing if he would ever return, they told Aaron to make gods for them who would go before them (thus REPLACING Moses and the YHWH who had gone before them). (Exodus 32:1).
b. 3 verses later they state that these are the gods (referring to the image of the golden calf) who brought you (Israel) up out of Egypt. Thus they gave credit to the image what Moses and the YHWH had done. (Exodus 32:4). Thus they replaced both the YHWH and Moses in their minds.
c. The people rose to revel, play (by implication to have sex), make a noise, shout (Joshua mistakenly thought it was the shout of war in the camp), dance, and run wild (or naked) to the derision of their enemies as Aaron had allowed, (Exodus 32: 6, 17, 18, 19, 25). This is not something they were taught by Moses. More than likely they were worshiping in the manner of the Egyptians or the nations around them. They had REPLACED the manner of worship of Moses with another.
2. God says they did it for “themselves.” In other words, they did not do it for God. And they worshiped “it”, not God. And they sacrificed to “it”, not to God. Also, they sacrificed NOT on the altar of God that Moses built, but on an altar built specifically for the image; the altar that Aaron built for the image that Aaron made. In other words they REPLACED the altar of God with one of their own for their own image.
a. God says, the people made for “THEMSELVES”, not Him, a cast image of a golden calf, the one that Aaron made (Exodus 32:8, 35; Deut. 9:12)
b. God says, the people worshiped “it” (not Him), and sacrificed to “it” (not Him). (Exodus 32:6, 8).
c. When Aaron saw that the image replaced Moses and the YHWH and was credited as the “gods” who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, he then built an altar to the image and made proclamation that “tomorrow” would be a festival to the YHWH. (Exodus 32:5,6). Aaron later says of the incident when questioned by Moses, that it was because the people “are bent on evil.” (Exodus 32:22). More than likely Aaron injected reference to the YHWH to save his own skin should Moses later show up unexpectedly.
d. Some specifics on the altar(s). Aaron made the 2nd or “replacement” altar before the image of the golden calf which they used the next day (after construction of the golden calf). As noted above, Moses had already built an altar to the YHWH at the foot of the Mountain where they had previously worshiped the YHWH and made covenant between the YHWH and the people with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar that Moses built. (Exodus 24:3 – 8; 32:5,6). The fact that Aaron built another altar separate and apart from the altar of God shows the forethought and extent of the state of mind given over to idol worship (and perhaps the extent of the pressure he was under from the people), to say nothing of his character faults, lack of a back bone, lack of any loyalty to Moses or the YHWH, etc. It shows a total rejection and lack of love of the YHWH.
3. The people knew that to make an idol was prohibited, and that God would see it as a rejection of Himself; as well as to do so was not showing love to God. Yet the people were rebellious, and they were in a state of mind of actively seeking a replacement of the YHWH and Moses after Moses left their presence, not knowing his whereabouts.
a. The people were previously warned not to make an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or on the earth beneath, and to neither to bow down to it, or worship it, for the YHWH God is a jealous God punishing the children for the iniquity of the parents to the 3rd and 4th generation of those who REJECT Him, but showing steadfast love the thousands of generations to those who LOVE Him. (Exodus 20:4, 5, 6).
b. When Moses read from the book of the Law after he had dashed half the blood of the covenant on the altar of God (that he had made at the foot of the mountain), he then dashed the other half of the blood of the covenant on the people. And the people responded with one voice that all that the YHWH had spoken they would do and be OBEDIENT. (Exodus 24:3 – 8)
c. After they worshiped the image, God characterizes the people as: “stiff-necked” (meaning stubborn, which means knowing what to do but not doing it; or knowing what not to do but doing it anyway), and stubborn (Deuteronomy 9:13).
d. Moses states (in the 40th year on the 1st day of the 11th month) that the people have been “rebellious” against the YHWH as long as the YHWH has known them. (Deut. 1:3, 9:24).
e. Moses characterizes the people as: stubborn, wicked, and sinful (Deut. 9:27).
The following is an analysis of the motivation behind the erection of the golden calves by Jeroboam, King of Israel.
I’ll get to Judges 17 and 18 in a future post.
This is a rather straight forward case. There is not any need for speculation as to motivation because God’s word spells it out directly in the words of Jeroboam himself in 1 Kings 12.
This is a clear case of what I would term as replacement worship (not representative worship) as I think you’ll see for your-self by reading the below Scripture. Jeroboam replaced the worship of the YHWH in Jerusalem at the house of God with worship of the calves in Bethel and Dan.
1. Motivation revealed in the words of Jeroboam to himself:
1 Kings 12:
26 Then Jeroboam said to himself, “Now the kingdom may well revert to the house of David. 27 If this people continues to go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, the heart of this people will turn again to their master, King Rehoboam of Judah; they will kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.”
2. What he did about it:
1 Kings 12:
28 So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. He said to the people,[b] “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” 29 He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.
32 Jeroboam appointed a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the festival that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. 33 He went up to the altar that he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month that he alone had devised; he appointed a festival for the people of Israel, and he went up to the altar to offer incense.
3. The result:
1 Kings 12:
30 And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one at Bethel and before the other as far as Dan.
1 Kings 13:
While Jeroboam was standing by the altar to offer incense, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel 2 and proclaimed against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: ‘A son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who offer incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’”
34 This matter became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.
4. God’s judgement on the house of Jeroboam:
1 Kings 14:
7 Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Because I exalted you from among the people, made you leader over my people Israel, 8 and tore the kingdom away from the house of David to give it to you; yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my sight, 9 but you have done evil above all those who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods, and cast images, provoking me to anger, and have thrust me behind your back; 10 therefore, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will consume the house of Jeroboam, just as one burns up dung until it is all gone. 11 Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city, the dogs shall eat; and anyone who dies in the open country, the birds of the air shall eat; for the LORD has spoken.’
The following is a commentary on Judges 17/18 as it relates to idolatry.
Regarding the idolatry found in Judges 17 and 18 of Micah and also of the Danites, one could argue it is more likely a case of polytheism rather than representative monotheism.
Ultimately though, as in the previous cases, the idolatry in question here was an intentional offense committed by a people who knew better or should have known better. Therefore in some respects, it is irrelevant as to which type of idolatry it is, whether intentional representative idolatry or intentional polytheism.
About the only thing that one could argue might support an opinion that Micah or his mother believed that the idol of cast metal was “representative” of the YHWH was the fact that his mother in Judges 17:3 “consecrated” the 1100 pieces of silver to the YHWH that Micah stole from her and then set aside 200 pieces of the returned silver to make an idol cast metal.
But those facts could also be argued many other ways.
It is also possible for example that Micah’s mother didn’t want her son or grandson to suffer ill effects from a curse she uttered following theft of her money. So she then consecrated the stolen money to the YHWH, forgave her son (blessed him), and allotted 200 pieces of to provide an idol of cast metal to add to the other artifacts of his shrine he had in his house.
For the shrine in his house, Micah made an ephod, teraphim (household gods) and set his son up as priest.
So at this point then, Micah has in his shrine: an ephod, household gods that he made and an idol of cast metal that he or his mother had made, and a non-Levite priest.
Arguably signs of polytheism of the nature of worship of the YHWH as well as other gods.
In those days it was common to have household gods and or worship other gods even among people who believed in the YHWH. Laban, Rachel’s father is a case in point. Rachel stole her father’s household gods for her own. Jacob ordered his household and all those with him (the human booty of Shechem) to put away the household gods prior to their going up to Bethel to build an altar to the YHWH (Genesis 35).
And long ago, Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor “served” other gods (Joshua 24:2). Note that the verse doesn’t say they worshiped the YHWH through other “representative” gods but that they “served” other gods.
We can presume that when the YHWH called Abraham he discarded his practice of service to other gods and devoted himself exclusively to the YHWH.
Yet the YHWH was also the God of Nahor (Laban’s grandfather) as evidenced by the fact that when Laban, made a covenant with Jacob, Laban invokes the God of their fathers, their fathers being Abraham and Nahor (Genesis 31:53). Note that often times Hebrew Scriptures makes no distinction between father and grandfather to multiple generations. Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac; (Isaac’s fear would be the fear of the YHWH). It probably mentions Isaac in the verse because there was no evidence anywhere in Hebrew Scriptures that Isaac continued in the practice of serving other gods or polytheism (or having household gods) as his father had done in the past (prior to being called to exclusivity by the YHWH) and as his nephew, Laban, continued to do by way of household gods mixed with belief in the YHWH.
Again, evidence of polytheism of the type of a mixing of service to the YHWH with service to other gods on the part of Nahor, and Laban continuing up to the time of the covenant with Jacob. It should be no surprise then that this would also be the case of future Israelites including Micah and the Danites of Judges 17 and 18.
And regarding the culture of the various peoples at the time:
Households and cities and nations had their own personal gods within their midst. A household, city or nation without a god was seen as easy prey, without protection, for those who might be hostile. Everyone wanted to have a god or gods in their midst because it was seen as being “favored” and protected by your own familial, city, or national god.
Even Moses expressed this in Exodus 33. He wanted it known that the YHWH who had done all the signs and wonders was their personal God. And he wanted other nations to know it. And in this way they would be unique, being the only “favored” nation of the YHWH.
15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”
Back to Judges 17 and 18:
Micah, along with the Danites, reveals his personal motivation which was personal gain from any and all gods including and not limited to the YHWH. He makes the comment that the YHWH would “prosper” him after acquiring his “Levite” priest (Judges 17:13). Thus he attempted to gain the favor of the YHWH with what he could acquire on his own. No doubt he also attempted to gain the favor of other gods with his acquisition of other artifacts such as the household gods (teraphim) and the cast metal idol.
So now his shrine is complete with Levite priest, household gods, a cast metal idol, and an ephod, giving him much prestige no doubt among foreigners and Israelites alike.
The Danites take his Levite priest, and all that was in Micah’s shrine.
They then put a city to the sword and settled their and set up for themselves as their “own”, the cast metal idol that Micah made (Judges 18:30,31).
Note that verse 30 reads that the Danites set up the idol for “themselves.” It doesn’t read that they set it up for the YHWH.
And verse 31 reads that they maintained as their “own” Micah’s idol. It doesn’t read they maintained it for the YHWH.
Yet other artifacts in the house of God are not referred to this way. The arch of the covenant or the arch of God is not referred to as the arch of the Levites for example.
Note also that they continued with their idol practice while the house of God was at Shiloh. More than likely they envied the prestige and protection of those at Shiloh and to compensate for that fact, they acquired and maintained an idol for “themselves.”
I have repeatedly pressed you on two statements you made that I have debunked with hard evidence.
The two statements were:
1. Isaiah 53 and other passages in Tanach clearly teach that the purpose of the Messiah is to suffer and die for mankind’s sins, and that only belief in this Messiah will gain one eternal salvation.
2. Christians agree that Isaiah 53 clearly teaches this doctrine and that it clearly refers to Jesus.
You have repeatedly ignored me and thus far have not retracted your statements or shown why I am wrong.
I can only conclude that either you did not see my comments on this issue or that you cannot answer me. If you did not see my comments, they are all on this page. If you did, and cannot answer me, the right thing to do is to say so.
Thank you, and I wish you well.
In reply to your post above:
There’s a few reasons why I haven’t responded earlier.
1. I’ve been in the middle of other topics besides the one’s you raised and have been occupied responding to others including Mr. Blumenthal.
2. The issues that you want to discuss in more depth have already been discussed at length and in great detail in the past. So in all honesty I haven’t given it much thought lately and haven’t been following your posts on said topics that closely.
Perhaps we can revisit these issues again some-time but at the moment I’m more interested in discussing other topics for the time being.
David, I’m not looking to discuss these issues in greater depth. You made a couple of erroneous statements you need to take responsibility for–either retract or defend them.
Obviously, you’d rather nitpick details with Rabbi Blumenthal. It’s much less threatening.
Fine, whatever. Carry on with your pedantic discussions.
Wishing you well,
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