In one of your links, the intent is to explain why Jews do not accept the Trinity. The explanation begins like this: “We see hints of the trinity in the Torah because we know about it.” This statement is quite illuminating.
What the author has admitted is that the Trinity is not taught in Torah. On the contrary, one has to learn about the Trinity first, and then he must search very carefully for verses that support this doctrine. Since no verses openly teach it—in fact, verses teach specifically against it—one has to search for “hints”. Theophilus, I hope that you will pay attention to what the Christian has admitted.
The Church has spent 2,000 years trying to justify various doctrines. Obviously, one of the major doctrines of the Church is that Jesus is part of the godhead. But the Torah does not teach this. Indeed, it says openly that one should not worship anything in creation and that God is alone. It says that God spoke to Israel at Sinai the way He did, so that Israel would know this. These are clear and open statements. To counter these statements, the Church searches intently for a verse to take out of context, a word that could be misrepresented to justify prohibited worship. There is a reason that the Church relies on hints rather than clear statements. The Church has forced its own imaginings into the Word of God.
In doing so, the Church has practiced a cruel deception. It has directed the love that rightly belongs to God to a man, an impostor god. Consider that I wished to convince you that your wife did not mind you taking a mistress. Imagine that my method was to take a love letter from her to you and chose a word here and a phrase there to indicate to you that she means for you to take a lover. I doubt you would believe me. It is no more believable that God, though He made clear that He would tolerate worship of none beside Him, really meant that people should worship someone else, if we would only find the hints and read between the lines.
Please consider the following parable:
A certain married man had taken a mistress. One day he said to himself that it just did not seem right to violate the marriage vows he had taken with his wife. So, he decided that from that point on he would no longer celebrate his mistress’ birthday or his anniversary with her. But he did not stop having the affair. Will his wife be pleased to find out that he has a mistress, but he does not celebrate her birthday?
You are likely a good fellow with good intentions. As I wrote before, it is commendable that you wish to give up Christmas and Easter. But these are just the mistress’ birthday and anniversary. Worshiping Jesus is still a violation of what you owe only to God. No amount of hints can make acceptable the violation of God’s openly stated commandments. They cannot justify giving God’s due to another.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
One of my Messianic friends asked me, “How much evidence do you need to believe that Yeshua is God in the flesh?” So I asked the same question to a rabbi, and he said “I could believe it if the Torah were different.” I thought that was a good way of putting it. The Torah and all Tanach set such a high value on worshipping God alone that there is no room for any uncertainty, conjecture, alternative explanations, or leap of faith at all regarding whether the one you worship is God alone.
I’m not saying this is right; the explanation is that ‘the Lord our G_d is one’ refers to Elohim, which is plural.
Another example is where God said “Let us make man in our image”; again, one G_d, but more than one component.
“Va’y’daber Elohim…” – “And God spoke…”
How is “US” one component? It can surely mean your, mine and a multitude of other components.
The problem is that if there is more than one component you will seek or appeal to the one who might have an easier path which is self-serving self-centered religion.
It isn’t clear how the word Elohim came about. A plural form can be used of singular subjects to show majesty/greatness/intensity/expansiveness. Perhaps it’s a shortening of a longer phrase, such as ‘God of gods’. It could be a monotheistic adaptation of the polytheistic name for a counsil of gods; references to ‘We’ or ‘Us’ could refer to a council of angels angels according to that kind of imagery. So with all those alternative explanations, there’s no solid persuasiveness behind the idea that it reflects a multi-partite, yet unified, God.
That’s what the original post here is talking about, that hints are not proofs. Even if lots of weak hints with add up, the strong alternative explanations remain. They don’t cumulatively become convincing enough for the belief that a specific one of us humans is also God incarnate, especially because Torah doesn’t indicate that something like that would be left with any uncertainty at all.
To be really sure of something based on cumulative evidence, 1) at least some of those evidence points need to be fairly convincing on their own, and 2) there can’t be significant opposing evidence.
(Corroborating evidence, I mean, since it looks like in legal terms there’s a difference.)
With some statistics, the evidence comes out of the general trend, rather than the strength of any single incident. But then you’d consider that set of statistics together to be one, strong piece of evidence.
This is something like, “95% of plants with fertiliser A were able to be sold, compared to 80% with fertiliser B.” It’s a really clear and direct comparison.
It’s quite different from saying something like, “There are 300 (or whatever number) close allusions to Jesus and the New Testament in the Hebrew scriptures.” That data set is very subjective in terms of which ones can be explained as irrelevant coincidences (given the large amount of text involved, normal thematic connections in the cultural context, or human-derived allusions (particularly because the New Testament texts were produced with the Hebrew scriptures as their backdrop).
A Christian would need to prove that the overall pattern of connections couldn’t naturally be produced in that way, because it would be reasonable to think it could.
Good day. I hope you and your family are well.I hope you don’t mind if I respond to your comment with the following scenario.
I learnt that Joseph and Moses (of the Torah) have many things in common. Both Moses and Joseph spent major part of their lives in Egypt.Both of them gained prominence in Egypt. Both of them served Pharoah/ lived in Pharoah”s household. Both married foreign women who were daughters of priests. Both Moses and Joseph had two sons. Interestingly, both were rejected by their own people at a certain point. However both Joseph and Moses play a major role in delivering the very people who rejected them
Do you see these similarities as random coincidences?Or is the story of Joseph foreshadows that of Moses?
That’s an interesting question. My feeling is that it could be either way. Maybe it was miraculous and a real foreshadowing, or maybe some of those details were coincidental and/or written in for poetic similarity.
The parts about them being prominent in Egypt and playing a redemptive role are a matter of why their stories were being told in the first place; they are part of the greater narrative of God’s caring and powerful involvement in the slavery experience. These two lives are included in the Torah because they are examples of the power of the Pharaohs not having the ultimate control, and of Hebrew individuals having God-given power in that environment.
So the thing that seems most significant to me, in a literary way and/or a divinely meaningful one, is the way in which these two thematically resonant narratives bookend the slavery in Egypt at beginning and end. Having two sons with daughters of foreign priests is really interesting, but I think could still potentially be both true and coincidental, as could the more common experience of being rejected.
My understanding of these stories is that there is both historical truth and literary invention in them. The stories of both Joseph and Moses contain elements that couldn’t easily have been known or invented at a later date, so they seem to have a real basis in history. Even though there’s good evidence against a migration as large as the numbers described in Torah, it makes strong sense that there was a group of Israelite slaves that escaped Egypt, and that this is why the stories are told. But at the same time, there seem to be elements of myth being used, not to lie, but in the ancient way of portraying true meanings using the imagery in stories. Moses’ infancy may reflect another similar myth, and the plagues, the crossing of the sea, and the dimensions of the Tabernacle all closet reflect Egyptian royal documents/artefacts. This doesn’t rule out the reality of them escaping Egypt, or the possibility that they were miraculously saved, but I think it indicates that the story was told in a poetic way that would demonstrate God’s power being greater than that of Pharaoh. Even Genesis 1 shows strong indications of being the same kind of metaphor, which the intention of telling ‘true meanings’ in culturally significant imagery that directly rivalled Egyptian symbolism/cosmology.
So I think that it’s very difficult to know how much was history and how much was mythological. The similarities between Joseph’s story and Moses’ could probably fit into either category, though: historical coincidence, selected for its relevance to the Torah narrative; a work of God; or elements of invented resonance to fit the themes in historically-based myth.
Another thought is about how humans are so inclined towards pattern recognition for understanding. It’s what allows us to use metaphors, which are a main foundation of language, and it gives us the ability to consider attributes in maths and science. We also tend to perceive patterns even in randomness, though, and emotional inclination will heighten that. So we need proven rational methods to help guide our intuition through the process of perception about what is really a relevant pattern.
Because there really are patterns in random sets, thus the saying that history is stranger than fiction. When so many things happen, with so many people, we can expect some level of seemingly-meaningful pattern to emerge whether random or not. Especially when people’s lives and cultural thinking do affect one another, even if they’ve never met each other, in ways that are very meaningful to us.
…add to that the human action of selection and omission for recounting what happened, and the ancient way of using metaphor and myth to convey what they believed (and/or wanted others to believe), and it is not really easy to make clear statements about what the patterns of connection-between-stories signify. I don’t think we can put a lot of weight on that.
To clarify, the scenario of Joseph anf Moses is not my own. Dr. Seth Postell, academic dean of Israel College of the Bible in Netanya Israel and a Messianic Jew pointed this out these similarities in one of his recent video presentations ,which you can find at the One for Israel Youtube channel.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the striking similarities between Joseph and Moses.I understand from your comment that more thought is required before one comes to a conclusion that these similarities are indicators of Joseph’s life foreshadowing Moses.
If I can add, too much focus on patterns across scripture or similarities of characters in Scripture takes one’s focus away from appreciating the unique character traits / achievements of illustrious figures in Scripture or the unique message within Scripture and what we can learn from them.
Take care and have a good day.
That’s a good point. I think there are definitely some clear thematic links. Different stories and people shed light on each other’s lives, and the meaningfulness to those who have brought the text together and passed it along. But finding patterns where there are none, or focusing too much on them, can obscure the meaning specific to a smaller part.
Thank you for your comment: https://judaismresources.net/2017/07/18/trinity-parable-by-jim/#comment-163973 .
It is a matter of deep embarrassment for the Christian that certain of his doctrines—essential doctrines, even—do not appear in what he calls the “Old Testament,” despite the fact that he considers the “Old Testament” to be the Word of God. We see, for instance, that the Christian takes great pains to locate Jesus in the Jewish scriptures, because Christian doctrine teaches that he is the central figure therein. Indeed, Jesus himself is supposed to have said: “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf” (John 5:39). But it is not obvious that Jesus is of central importance in the “Old Testament”—or even the concept of the Messiah more generally. This causes deep consternation for the Christian, so that he must apply his creative powers to finding hidden references to Jesus whenever he comes to the “Old Testament.”
Similarly, you have pointed out another item of deep embarrassment for the Christian. He holds that Jesus is part of a triune godhead. He believes that the godhead is comprised of three persons, but that these three persons are of one essence. This doctrine is supposed to be among those of the utmost importance, yet no explicit mention of this doctrine can be found in the Torah, nor in the Prophets nor the Writings. (Nor even in his “New Testament”?) Therefore, just as he must hunt to find references to Jesus in the “Old Testament,” he must scour the pages looking for sources to support trinitarian doctrine.
One can hardly blame the Christian for blushing when he appeals to the name “Elokim” and the “Let us…” verse as evidences of trinitarian doctrine. It would be shameful for him to brazenly declare that these constitute strong proofs of the triune godhead, for while he insists that the faithful Jew is blind to the truth, it is the Jew who brings open and explicit evidence for the oneness of God. The faithful Jew quotes Deuteronomy 6:4, a verse with which he is most familiar as he recites it in prayer daily: “Hear, O Israel: HaShem is our God, HaShem is the One and Only.” The Torah impresses upon the Jewish people: “You have been shown in order to know that HaShem, He is the God! There is none beside Him!” and “You shall know this day and take to your heart that HaShem, He is the God—in heaven above and on the earth below—there is none other” (Deuteronomy 4:35 and 39). The Christian cannot produce any such open verses in order to teach that God is three.
How embarrassing that not only can he not produce an open verse that God is three—and it would be helpful if they were called together “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost”—but he must appeal to words that seem to indicate an indeterminate multiplicity within the godhead, not specifically three. One wonders how the Jewish people who had been given the Torah more than 1,000 years before the beginning of Christianity were supposed to have understood this apparent multiplicity. Operating under the assumption that they were not to interpret these ambiguous terms in light of the teaching that God is One, how many persons were they to understand there to be in the godhead? The Christian cannot claim that Moses taught the Jewish people that God is three and that this is what they were to understand from “Elokim.” For one thing, the Jewish people deny trinitarian doctrine. For another, the Christian denies the Oral Torah; he cannot now appeal to the existence of one merely because it suits his purpose. Returning to the question: how many divine persons were the Jewish people to understand as comprising the godhead when reading these texts? It could be three. It could be four. It could be ten, a hundred, or a thousand. What is obvious is that the Christian, however much he claims he does not rely on the traditions of men but only reads the text for what it says, readily abandons the pure exegesis he claims to practice in order to force Christian doctrine onto the text.
If he were practicing pure exegesis, he would note that in Exodus 7:1, God says that he has made Moses an “elohim” over Pharaoh—the same word as God’s name “Elokim.” But it is clear that Moses is not multiple persons sharing one essence. The name, then, does not demand that we understand God as a multiplicity. Similarly, when he appeals to the “Let us make man…” passage, he would note in the very next verse, the Torah states that God made humanity in His image, singular not plural. He would also take note of how often God speaks of himself in the singular first-person: “I.” “Us” is an anomaly. How does he know to emphasize “us” and not “I”? The answer: necessity. Just as he must comb the pages of Torah looking for verses, phrases, or words that might be construed to be a reference to Jesus, so he must find (i.e. creatively read) references to the trinity.
It would have been easier for the Christian if he had been able to divorce his faith from the Torah, merely relying upon his own scriptures. But he was “stuck” with the Torah; he could not divest himself from it. And thus his great embarrassment. Concepts central to Christianity do not appear there: he would need to actively and purposefully misunderstand the text in order to find what it does not say.
I think Christians notice that the redemption and recreation is a major theme in the Hebrew scriptures. It features strongly from beginning to end. This is enough to see the Messiah as a major figure, since he is important in that, and the promises to David regarding the monarchy are a significant theme as well. Of course none of this specifically points to Jesus, as you said; I think it’s still fair to say the messianic theme is important in the Scriptures.
About the trinity idea, I think you’re totally right that any proof for this in the Torah is clutching at straws, and that’s really important to see. There are other explanations of the use of plural in those instances. But some Christians don’t see a problem with the trinity being revealed only at the advent of Christianity. They believe that God is one and there is none beside Him, even if they count Jesus and the HS in, being to them it is a mystery beyond human capacity. So they think it would have been irrelevant for people to know it before the ‘incarnation’. I don’t think this is irrational; God could do and be anything He does and is, even what doesn’t in the least make sense to us, and we rely on revelation (not physics or philosophy) for the words and concepts to speak about Him with.
What is harder to explain away is your point about even the Christian Scriptures not mentioning the divinity of Jesus, at least not in most parts. It’s alluded to in a few passages that are (partly for that reason) dated later, but it’s not mentioned as part of the gospel that was widely proclaimed; it’s not discussed as a clarification for the type of worship that was being practiced; it wasn’t really clear to the church in the following centuries. Christians may bring reasons for that, including the way the oneness of God was being emphasised.
But it seems wrong to slip into the worship of someone, which rests on the sure belief that they are God incarnate, without explicitly knowing and teaching what the foundation is for that not being idolatry. So I agree that it’s a problem for Christians that it isn’t clearly taught about in the central presentations of the gospel or of church life, in the Christian Scriptures.
With Moses, the translation is often that he would be “like God” to Pharoah; being God’s mouthpiece. So that explains that, but still there are other examples in the language of plurality being used for majesty or largeness rather than multiplicity.
I don’t really see unsolvable problems with harmonising the Christian Scriptures with the Hebrew Scriptures. But the issue is, as you’ve written and focused on so importantly, the lack of explicit teachings that would point to Jesus specifically or to a future incarnation of God.
Without these, the bar is set too high in the Hebrew Scriptures for Christianity to prove that their worship of a man is sure enough not to be risking idolatry.