Judge Not

Judge Not

Christianity claims to be the only path to salvation before God. Many individual Christian denominations take this claim one step further with the assertion that this path leads exclusively through membership in their particular church.

This claim is not unique to Christianity. Many religions lay claim to exclusive possession of the way to eternal reward. What is different about Christianity is that its claim is refuted through its own accusation against Judaism. Christianity’s claim to exclusivity is internally inconsistent and self-contradictory – in a word: hypocritical.

You see, Christianity acknowledges that before the advent of Jesus, the Jewish people enjoyed a unique relationship with God. Judaism does not claim that the path to God is limited to membership in the Jewish community. According to Judaism, any human being who acknowledges his or her debt to the Creator, and lives a life in line with the conscience that God planted into our hearts, will be rewarded by God. But Judaism does claim that the Jewish people stand in a special relationship with God as a chosen nation.

Christianity contends that the Jewish people forfeited this singular standing before God. I will allow Matthew’s Jesus to present the position of the Church.

“Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:33-43)

The meaning of the parable is obvious. The owner of the vineyard is God, the husbandman is the Jewish people, the son is Jesus, and the “nation bringing fruits thereof” is the Christian Church. According to Matthew’s Jesus, killing the “son” warranted that the kingdom of God be taken from the Jews.

Let us now see how Christianity fares according to the judgment it pronounced against Judaism.

We will note that there are many extenuating factors that mitigate the alleged guilt of the Jews in the death of Jesus;

Even according to the biased narrative of the Christian Scriptures, it was not the Jews who killed Jesus, it was the Romans.

The number of Jews that could have been involved in his death had to be minuscule. The majority of Jews that were alive then could not all have been in that place at that one point in time.

Even those Jews who might have been involved in his death could not be considered representatives of Judaism as a belief system. The core texts of Judaism do not preach hatred against Jesus. On the contrary, the Jewish Scriptures that were venerated by the Jewish people of the time, devote more space to the castigation of the Jewish nation than they do in criticism of her enemies.

The hateful and sinister motivations attributed by Matthew’s Jesus to the Jewish people (- “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.”) is contradicted by John. According to Matthew, the Jews recognize that Jesus is “the heir” and their motivation for killing him was to “seize on his inheritance”. According to John the Jews were motivated to move against Jesus because they considered him a blasphemer (John 10:33), and feared that his activities will provoke the Romans to take action against the larger community (John 11:48).

Even the Christians, who accept Jesus’ claims, must acknowledge there was no way that the Jews could have known, before the alleged resurrection, that Jesus was who he claimed to be. Matthew’s Jesus declares that the generation will be given no sign except for his pending resurrection (Matthew 16:4). Thus before his alleged resurrection, the people had no way of clearly and conclusively verifying his claims. (It is in place to note that according to the Jewish Bible, no miracle, not even a resurrection, can justify Jesus’ claims for divinity – Deuteronomy 13:2-6.)

Still and all, despite all of these mitigating factors, Christianity asserts that the Jewish people have had “the kingdom of God” taken from them because they killed someone who claimed to be God’s son.

Let us now see how Christianity has dealt with the one who is explicitly identified by the Jewish Bible as God’s firstborn son. The Jewish Scriptures repeatedly and openly declare that the Jewish people are God’s children, His firstborn son (Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy 14:1, Jeremiah 31:8).

How did the Church treat God’s firstborn son?

A cursory glance at Church history reveals that the Church poisoned the minds of mankind against the Jewish people. They oppressed, tortured and killed millions of Jews from the days of Constantine until the holocaust.

None of the extenuating factors that mitigate the guilt of the Jews in the death of Jesus apply to the guilt of Christendom in the persecution of the Jew.

It was the Christians and the Church themselves who persecuted and killed countless Jews.

The number of Christians involved in these crimes reach the millions over the centuries.

The core texts of Christianity preach this very hatred of God’s firstborn son, and the greatest scholars in Church history understood the texts to mean precisely what they say – that the Jews are no less than the children of the devil.

The motive that the Church had to persecute the Jews is obvious to every student of history. The Church was attempting to seize the inheritance of the Jewish people. They wanted the blessings that God had promised to the Jewish people, and the fact that the Jews were still claiming those blessings, and the fact that their claim is more credible than the claim of the Church, was a thorn in their side.

The Church was in possession of all of the evidence that is necessary to prove that the Jewish people are truly God’s son; namely the Jewish Bible.

So, if the Jewish people had “the kingdom of God taken from them” because of the death of Jesus, what happens to the Church for the death of millions of Jews?

Oh, I forgot the excuses. “Those weren’t real Christians, those murderers cannot be considered true representatives of the Church, “real Christians” helped and saved Jews etc.”

All of these excuses, and more are applicable to the Jewish people in relation to the death of Jesus. But Matthew’s Jesus brushes all of these excuses aside and passes his harsh judgment against the Jewish people of all generations. If these excuses are not accepted by Matthew’s Jesus, they cannot work for the Church.

According to the Church’s own judgment, they cannot be the exclusive masters of the “kingdom of God”. If a one time act took the kingdom away from the entirety of the Jewish people, then 2000 years of widespread persecution should have done the same for the Church.

The judgment that Matthew’s Jesus pronounces against the Jewish people condemns the Christian Church and effectively nullifies her theological claims.

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18 Responses to Judge Not

  1. What a mess, where does one begin?
    You start with a dubious interpretation of the parable and it gets worse from there on in. The vineyard is the place of spiritual fruit and worship – the husbandman cannnot be Israel in its entirety, how could it be when almost the whole of the NT was penned by Jews and the husbandmen most certainly will encompass believing Israel in the future? (Though I do grant a minority of interpreters most unwisely follow this path).
    Here’s a quick sample:
    Jamieson Fausset Brown ‘husbandmen — These are just the ordinary spiritual guides’
    Lightfoot – ‘ it seems to hint, that the rulers of the Jews acknowledged among themselves that Christ was the Messias; but being strangely transported beside their senses, they put him to death;’
    Matthew Henry ‘The chief priests and the elders were the builders’/vineyard workers
    Matthew Poole ‘he had entrusted the church of the Jews with a high priest, and other priests and Levites. ‘
    Spurgeon ‘left the nation under the care of priests, and kings, and men of learning, who should have cultivated this heritage of Jehovah for him, and yielded up to him the fruit of this choice vineyard.’
    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge ‘the vineyard, Jerusalem;’

    As to denominations excluding one another, where does that come from? There are rotten churches under every label, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, just as there are faithful Bible loving ones or at least a few faithful individuals in the more corrupted one (even in the Roman Catholic and Eastern systems of idolatry). This has been the view of virtually every mainstream Protestant leader for centuries. So sectarians aside, where does that come from?

    The imagined clash between Matthew and John is a comparison between chalk (the contents of a parable reflecting unspoken motives) and cheese (the outward expressions, similarly expressed in the other 3 Gospels).

    It’s sad to see such mischaracterisation, and it won’t help you formulate a consistent, clear response to perceived challenges to your positions, just like Jim’s last post, and the rather weak ‘rebuttal’ there. If I have mischaracterised you as badly as you have Christians, Messianic Jews and Messianic doctrine here, I’d very much want to know, but it’s not apparent here.

    Again I’m sorry but I won’t clog up my inbox with notifying mails, but I will probably visit back.

    • Charles
      Awww I “misinterpreted” the gentle parable. Let us accept your interpretation. The husbandman is the rulers of Israel.
      Fine – every point that I made still stands. Were all the rabbis aware of Jesus? Did they “know” that Jesus was who the subsequent Church will claim him to be? And if they “knew” that he was (presumably because they read the Scriptures with your Christological glasses) – then wouldn’t they also “know” that killing him will only further his plans?

      • That’s a deeper question than it may seem, ‘none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory’, Paul is not referring to the Jewish leaders, but the Satanic powers and principalities referred to also in Daniel and elsewhere. They knew who He was, but attempted to destroy Him nonetheless.

        Take an analogy, just imagine that Lazarus was raised from the dead, or at least that his sisters and many others were persuaded that he had been after 4 days in the tomb. What could possibly be achieved by killing him (Jn.12.10)? What had he done wrong?

        Perhaps though both are indeed examples of extreme anti-establishment prejudice by a treacherous Jew, disguised in the name of love and righteousness, but I doubt it, it just doesn’t begin to explain the most extraordinarily written literature I have ever read in any language.

    • Dina says:

      Charles, a few commenters pointed out something that has mystified Jews for centuries. If the good news is that Jesus died for your sins, then why all the condemnation heaped upon the Jews in Christian scripture for helping to bring about his death? Should they not rather be praised ad nauseum for causing the most wonderful thing to ever happen to mankind?

  2. Concerned Reader says:

    That’s a good question rabbi, especially when not even Peter or Thomas knew the central theological points without Jesus showing them first.

    • rambo2016 says:

      “especially when not even Peter or Thomas knew the central theological points…”

      larry hurtado said ,

      For example, in response to Jesus’ questions to his disciples about what people make of him (as portrayed, e.g., in Mark 8:27-30), the options reported are “John the Baptist” (which I take as meaning “another one like John”), Elijah (possibly in part because Jesus’ reported miracles often mirror those attributed to Elijah),”one of the prophets” (the opinion that Jesus was a “prophet” is reported elsewhere in the Gospels also, e.g., John 6:14; and 7:25-30 where people wonder if he is Messiah). And the disciples’ response (on Peter’s lips) was “Messiah/Christ”. There is no statement of deification, no “cultic” worship offered, and Jesus doesn’t demand it, or claim divinity.

      rambo: the words “(possibly in part because Jesus’ reported miracles often mirror those attributed to Elijah)”

      i quote :
      Mark’s two narratives in which Jesus feeds thousands of people by multiplying loaves of bread (6:30-44 and 8:1-10) finds an obvious — and often recognized — parallel in the Elijah-Elisha narrative. The shared details are numerous. All three stories take place in a context where food is needed. In each story, only a small amount of food is available, with each story specifying the amount. Both Elisha and Jesus give instructions that the small amount of food be distributed, and in all three stories, the instructions are met with doubt/hesitation. In all three stories, the food is distributed to and eaten by a large number of people, with each story specifying the number of people present. Finally, at the end of each story, an abundance of food remains. These shared narrative details, as well as the shared order of events are laid out clearly in the chart below.

      1. according to the gospels own evidence, the people are seeing an elijah in jesus and not a god.

  3. Concerned Reader says:

    That’s true, considering it’s only in Paul’s epistles and John where the equation with G-d is made explicit, but even then, Jesus is more akin to the son of man found in 1 Enoch, a kind of angelic emissary, and messianic figure subject to G-d’s will, but not G-d himself.

  4. Concerned Reader says:

    The point is though, that in the Bible, miracles and claims to deity do not equal truth.

  5. Tsvi Jacobson says:

    Matthew Henry and all the other Christian Chachamim aside with their so called interpretations. It is so obvious that the owner of the vineyard is God himself. The husbandmen are the Jewish leaders the ones sent are the Prophets of Israel, The son is Jesus. The new husbandman is the Christian Church. Soper are you listening.? Also I recall in John that it is written “It is expedient that one man die that the nation perish not” They of course didn’t know what they were saying as it is said to be a prophecy. I don’t personally understand how Christians blame the Jews for killing Christ. If you truly believe he was the final sacrifice whoever did the offering ought to be thanked. Also in Acts 4:26-28 It specifically states that all this was done:”To do whatever Your (God) hand and your (God) counsel determined before to be done. So if you really want to blame someone blame the Romans Pontius Pilate, Herod, the Gentiles and Israel for being obedient to God…..but who can really expect the Church to believe in their own writings,not me. Mere daf hoben da Moshiach !

    • rambo2016 says:

      “I don’t personally understand how Christians blame the Jews for killing Christ. If you truly believe he was the final sacrifice whoever did the offering ought to be thanked.”

      the christians are always talking about how “sinless” and “pure” the sacrificed god was, but what about the people who were sacrificing thier god? who purified the act of nailing jesus? the act itself must have been a sinless act, right? or did god do the nailing act by nailing himself? isn’t the ACT of slicing the animal a sinless act? they always talk about the offered item, never about the ACTIONS of those who offered the item.

      • Rambo
        Great point – the act of sacrificing an animal was a human act favored by God – Christianity stands on the idea that no human act can be favored by God – the sacrificial system repudiates this Christian doctrine.

  6. David says:

    Hi Yisroel,

    I have a different commentary on the meaning of the parable of the wicked tenants. It’s also important to note the context and setting and to whom it was that Jesus spoke the parable.

    The Setting:
    The three gospels in which the parable takes place all agree: The setting is after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It is the week of the crucifixion. He had already foretold his death to his disciples. The gospels also note that he had just been challenged by the Elders, scribes and Chief Priests in the Temple regarding his authority, yet they would not answer his challenge to them about who John the Baptist was; whether from God or from man.

    The Chief Priests and Scribes understood this parable to be directed at them.

    The parable:
    The version I am using is the NRSV English translation:
    Matthew 21:33 – 45

    33 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
    42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
    ‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;[f]
    this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is amazing in our eyes’?
    43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.[g] 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”[h]
    45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

    Your commentary:
    You wrote:
    The meaning of the parable is obvious. The owner of the vineyard is God, the husbandman is the Jewish people, the son is Jesus, and the “nation bringing fruits thereof” is the Christian Church. According to Matthew’s Jesus, killing the “son” warranted that the kingdom of God be taken from the Jews.

    My response:

    The owner of the vineyard is God (we are in agreement on that).

    The wicked tenants, contrary to your view, are NOT the “Jewish People.” The wicked tenants are the leadership of Israel, Chief Priests and Pharisees (Matthew 21:45,46).

    The vineyard is the people of Israel and by extension the world (later expanded to include gentiles).

    The slaves are God’s prophets sent to warn Israel’s leaders and Israel to devote themselves to God and not their selfish nature (to give Him the “fruit” that is due Him).

    The “son” is the Son (We are in agreement on that) also sent by the owner, God. God sends Jesus to turn hearts back to God.

    The “inheritance” of the Son, Jesus, who is the son of the owner, God, is the authority as passed on from God, to the son, Jesus, to reign over the vineyard (Israel and the world).

    The wicked tenants try to usurp by illegitimate means, authority over the vineyard by killing the son.

    The killing of the wicked tenants by the owner (God) represents:
    God’s removal of authority of the leadership of Israel (Chief Priests and Pharisees) who have acted wickedly against the owner by not giving Him His fruit in season even after being warned by the slaves (prophets) and the son (last prophet and Messiah).

    Further commentary:

    God removed the leadership of Israel, not really because they killed the prophets and His Son (as you claim). Many times Israel has killed its prophets in their apostasy from God. God rejects Israel and/or removes its leaders when they stray from him. Had Israel and its leaders killed the prophets (as was historically the practice so many times before) and even to include His Son, yet reconsidered and returned to Him once again, God is willing to accept the remnant. God always has in the past and promises to do so in the future.

    The vineyard given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom represents:

    Leadership of Israel going first to the Apostles. The Apostles grew the kingdom of God first with Jews and then included gentiles in the mix.

    Thus a new people (nation or church if you want to call it) created of all the people of the earth including Jews and Gentiles, was newly created to produce fruits to God in season.

    • David
      Fantastic interpretation – just a few question. Did this “new people” really produce better fruit? Question #2 Why is the blood of the prophets being called on a people who were separated by God from the ones who killed the prophets (Jeremiah 24:5,6). Question #3 Do you see all of Israel’s spiritual leadership (I refer here to those who follow the teachings of the Pharisees) as one monolithic block throughout the generations? Question #4 How were the leaders supposed to know that Jesus was the Messiah without knowing that by killing him they would play right into his hands – which Scripture about the Messiah were they reading?
      Question #5 Are you going to get back to me on the other issue (representative idolatry)?

      • David says:

        1. Yes, from the start they gave their hearts to God.
        2. I think you have a typo on this one.
        3. No
        4. The same way the apostles knew before the resurrection. And after the resurrection they understood more fully. Again, the point is not so much as to the fact that they killed the prophets and the Son, but the reason they killed was to remain in apostasy, doing things their own way rather than God’s way.
        5. I’ll check the other post.

        • David
          Thanks for your response
          1 – there were times in Israel’s history when their leadership guided them properly (1Chronicles 29:17 – being one example) but that does not satisfy Jesus – he takes away the “kingdom” for the one act of killing God’s son. The guilt of this crime (killing God’s son) lies heavily on the leadership of those who followed Jesus
          https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-guilt-of-books/
          https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/slander/
          https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/seeds-of-auschwitz/
          2 – No typo here
          3 – So why is the kingdom taken from all of them forever?
          5 Thank you

          • David says:

            1. Jesus, or the son in the parable, doesn’t take away the kingdom.

            If you reread the parable you’ll see that the son is killed.

            God, the owner takes away the kingdom, not the son. The owner takes it from those who did not give to the owner, His due, the fruit of the vineyard.

            Furthermore, as I noted previously, and you again failed to take note of it, the owner doesn’t take away the vineyard for the sole act of killing his son.

            The abuse and killing of the messengers/subordinates/slaves of the owner and including the son of the owner (who represent the prophets and the Messiah/son) is a manifestation of their decision to continue in disobedience and rebellion against the owner (God).

            Had they a change of heart then, it would have been reflected in giving fruit to those whom God sent to collect the fruit. The last was the son.

            If they had given fruit to the prophets or the son, the vineyard wouldn’t have been taken away.

            Likewise, the “guilt” that you note in killing the son cannot be separated from the guilt of rebellion against God, the owner, in a determined and consistent pattern of refusing to give Him his due.

            Their rejection of God was manifest in their behavior.

            2. Ok, it’s not a typo and you don’t want to elaborate. I’ll chalk it up as something you want to keep to yourself.

            3. That’s God’s call. At some point after much patience and persuasion on the part of God, those who continually reject God and refuse to accept God’s offer, then have no defense before God’s just and eventual judgment.

            5. I responded to your post on idolatry.

  7. Dina says:

    Following.

  8. David
    I am busy with preparations for the upcoming Passover holiday – I appreciate your comments and I hope to get back to you soon.
    Just a few quick points –
    1 – My main point is that according to Jesus’ judgment the kingdom ought to be taken from his own followers a million times over
    2 -Jeremiah separates the community of the Second Temple from the people of the First Temple era who killed some of the prophets – I didn’t think this was rocket science
    3 – see 1
    4 – And how did the apostles “know” that Jesus was the Messiah before his crucifixion and alleged resurrection? which Scripture taught it to them?
    5 – Your comments on the golden calf are understandable – your comments on Judges, less so – and you never addressed Deuteronomy 4:15
    I hope to get back to you on these

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