It’s a Midrash!
Because Jesus did not perform the function of the Messiah, the authors of the New Testament had difficulty demonstrating in what way Jesus could be the Messiah. They could not quote Messianic passages—at least not much—because the reader would realize that Jesus had not met the definition of the Messiah. Therefore, the authors of the NT would need to invent new functions of the Messiah, quoting and misquoting passages irrelevant to the definition of the Messiah in order to make it appear that Jesus fulfilled numerous prophecies. A strong proof against Jesus having fulfilled any prophecies is derived from the abuses of scripture in the NT; if Jesus had fulfilled any actual prophecies, the authors of the NT would not have to invent them from whole cloth. Many have objected to the abuse of the Hebrew Scriptures, Tanach, on the basis that one must not misrepresent the words of God through decontextualization and mistranslation. But the Church has responded that those who object to these abuses are not applying a fair standard to the NT, arguing that the authors of the NT are relying upon midrashic interpretations when they force Jesus into Tanach. They will admit that Jesus did not fulfill Hosea 11:1 on a literal level, the p’shat, when he returned from Egypt, but Matthew is giving a midrash. This is an absurd argument that does nothing more than impose upon Tanach whatever the reader desires, which absurdity can be shown by applying the same standard to the New Testament, from which it can be proven that President Barack Obama is the Second Coming.
It must be noted before proceeding with this exercise that Christians quite often argue that the New Testament books are Jewish books. They are akin to the Hebrew Scriptures. For this reason, it is not unreasonable to apply the same manipulations to that book as are applied by them to Tanach. So, one may omit inconvenient parts of passages or sentences that would establish the context of a verse or partial verse. Similarly, if a Christian were to object that President Obama did not fulfill New Testament prophecy by coming in the clouds of glory or bringing the dead back to life for judgment, the answer will be that he will perform that at the Third Coming, but we can know that he will come back again, because he fulfilled these prophecies—midrashim—in his lifetime, and that hints of him can be found all over the New Testament.
One might object to the use of Luke or Acts in this exercise, inasmuch as the author was Greek, not Jewish. However, one excuse Christians bring for the scriptural abuses of Matthew is that he was quoting from the Greek. From this, one can derive two things. First, one can make a midrash on the Greek, which makes Luke fair game. Second, the original meaning does not matter; one can make a midrash on mistranslations and misunderstandings. If the English translation obscures the meaning of the Hebrew, this is of no matter. The midrashic interpretation must still be counted as a legitimate interpretation. It follows also that if one finds a meaning in Portuguese that he prefers, he is free to base his interpretation on the Portuguese or any other language that might allow him to push his own meaning onto a passage. These matters having been addressed, the midrashim follow.
To those that doubt that President Obama was the Second Coming the following proofs may be sufficient. First, a great controversy arose over the birthplace of the president. This was to fulfill what was written in the Christian Scriptures: “…when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from” (John 7:27). The literalist and simpleton may respond by saying that this scripture has nothing to do with President Obama and is not even a prophecy, that it requires no further fulfillment. The answer to them is obvious:
It’s a midrash!
By virtue of being President of the United States, Barack Obama was a powerful figure. This was to fulfill what was written: “From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). This is an obvious reference to the White House and Air Force One. To those that object:
It’s a midrash!
During his time in office, President Obama oversaw the killing of Osama bin Laden, then considered a great threat to the American people. This too was written in the Christian Scriptures: “…that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us” (Luke 1:71). Of course, some might object that the entire prophecy was not quoted. That this speaks of one from the “house of his servant David” appears to be an omission, probably because the midrashist recognized that Obama is not descended from David. But this objection comes from one that does not read the four levels of Jewish interpretation. Clearly Matthew did not need to quote all of Hosea 11:1 to create his midrash or the entire prophecy in Isaiah 7:14-15. The midrashits will say that the one that raises this objection is an ignoramus.
The Christian Scriptures prefigured the words of Hillary Rodham Clinton when it said of President Obama: “…the heaven was opened…” (Luke 3:21). It is clear that Secretary Clinton was speaking prophetically when she said that if then Candidate Obama were elected the heavens would open, the seas roll back, etc. This is a clear reference to the Second Coming as fulfilled in President Obama.
Moreover, one can see the character of the Second Coming in the actions of President Obama, the great care he had for the people. Jesus spoke of President Obama when he quoted the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…” (Luke 4:18). The President brought good news to the poor through welfare programs. He released captives through the presidential pardon. He brought recovery of the sight to the blind through Obamacare. (This is just a general statement of healing.) And he let the oppressed go free by welcoming refugees to America. Of course, it is obvious that these things were not said about President Obama or the Second Coming, but the response will be:
It’s a midrash!
Of course this exercise might appear to be silly, and indeed it is a fair bit. But the underlying point must be considered. The Christian argument for midrash does not follow any rules other than necessity. This exercise makes the New Testament dance to the tune of a fictitious person that reveres the former president. However, this is exactly how the Christian treats the holy words of HaShem. He attempts to make Tanach dance to his own tune, stripping passages of any inconveniences, including context under the guise of midrash. By this method, scripture can mean anything one wishes it to mean.
Undeniably, multiple levels of understanding exist when reading Tanach. This is not a license to read whatever one wishes into the text, however. It is absurdity to read Jesus into texts by relying on mistranslations and removing the passages from their context. Such reading is not midrash but eisegesis. Torah is not meant to prop up one’s preëxisting notions. It is not a journal into which one puts his own thoughts; it is a book from which one gets the Teaching of HaShem.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal