It Was Very Good – by Concerned Reader

Gean, you seem to think (because of the Christian Bible’s interpretations) that G-d somehow requires perfection from humans, and that we have to be saved from sin. Here is the problem with that assesment.

G-d created absolutely everything that exists, and he said it was all very good.
Even the Satan was created by G-d himself. If you read the book of Job, you will notice clearly that Satan works for G-d. He is a servant of G-d who has the job of testing the righteous.

He is not an enemy of G-d who is at war with G-d. Nothing can be at war against G-d, the one who created all things.

G-d created the trees of knowledge and of life, he created the serpent that was in the garden, he created the angels, he gave Adam a commandment. He is the one who sets the standard by which everyone is judged.

Since G-d created everything, there is no need for him to come down and die to save us from something. There is nothing external to G-d to be saved from. Do you see the difference?
If you believe in being saved from “sin” in Jewish terms, its like you are saying “I am being saved from G-d.”

G-d told Cain that if he repents and does what is tight and pleasing to G-d, he will master his sin.”

Sin is missing the mark. Anyone who is born struggles with Sin, but G-d says we can master it.

You seem to believe that the Satan is a fallen angel Lucifer who rebelled against G-d with 1/3 of the angels, and that this rebellion caused Adam’s descendants to ultimately be sunken in sin, which is why you believe Jesus had to save us.

You need to be aware that those beliefs (which are essential to Christianity,) are extra biblical in nature. Christians did not get their notions of a fall, or of Satan as a fallen angel from the Torah, but from apocryphal texts that were extra and widely read by Jews during the second temple era.

Only the 5 books of Moses, the prophets, and writings can establish doctrine in Judaism.
If you read only those books as authoritative, you will not come away thinking that man is sunken in sin the way Christians do.

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36 Responses to It Was Very Good – by Concerned Reader

  1. tsvi Jacobson says:

    Terrific post: Very clear precise and Tanach centered It is amazing just how much xtian doctrine is based on extra biblical writings. (between us) they shouldn’t have ever been written. better for all the world
    tsvi

    • KAVI says:

      Tsvi,
      From the beginning, sin divided mankind from G-d,

      “The L-RD G-d commanded the man, saying,
      “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
      but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
      for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” [Genesis 2]

      “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
      And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. [Isaiah 59]

      ________________

      • Yedidiah says:

        Good summary.

      • Yedidiah says:

        Kavi, God commanded the Israelites to be holy as God is Holy. Eternal God seen more worth & more ability to be Righteous in humans than you want to believe. That was after Gen. 3 and after a flood. God didn’t separate from Adam or Eve. God didn’t separate from their child Cain, not even after Cain murdered, when God even protected Cain from being killed & allowed him to build a “great city”. Talk about hiding, did you ever play hide & seek as a child? The One hiding wants the other to seek (sometimes we hide & God seeks us), for God doesn’t hide & abandon us permanently. But does God play your game, of acting as a man and acting as if He could die (as pagan gods could), playing dead for less than 3 days & that is the “only” way a merciful & just God could reconcile? God had no problem reconciling with his created ones (& chosen ones, which means “not separated” ones).

        • KAVI says:

          Yedidiah,
          More than likely you did not perceive it, but the concept of sin you describe idolizes mankind’s concept of righteousness and attempts to diminish the blazing Holiness of G-d.

          …for let’s all recall that Adam/Chava ate a piece of fruit!

          Could you describe why eating a piece of fruit brought G-d’s curses?

          Wasn’t eating the fruit an act of rebellion?

          Isn’t rebellion against G-d sin?

          Didn’t mankind decide to idolize himself and the words of the serpent– in essence, calling G-d a “liar”?

          PS> Please let’s not appeal to some vague, non-existant teshuva… for G-d plainly states,

          “The L-RD G-d commanded the man, saying,
          “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
          but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
          for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.
          [Genesis 2]

          _____________________

  2. Concerned Reader says:

    Maybe they shouldn’t have, but the texts were written. Jews 2,000 years ago believed in a lot of strange stuff that was solely based on folk beliefs. If a person read 1 Enoch, they would definitely believe in Demons, fallen angels, etc.

    The irony to me is that Christians always accuse Jews of having and trusting “traditions of men,” but when the NT is under the microscope, it could only have been written by those who believed in massive amounts of oral tradition.

    • PAUL SUMMERS says:

      Hello CR
      It couldnt have been written by men who believed and lived by Jewish folklore, as Jesus main arguement/opposition was the Leaders of Israel who believed in the oral Law more than the written Law. The NT teaches quite clearly teaches thus. The sermon on the mount is such a clear example.

      • Eleazar says:

        The sermon on the mount is a clear example of Jesus combining (and denying) biblical and [adding] extra biblical teachings. Much of the SOM was Jesus insinuating his own personal views on the written Torah ( SOM- “You have heard eye for eye and tooth for tooth”- written Torah, not oral). In fact, every doctrine Jesus denies in the SOM is from written Torah, not oral. Christianity and the NT is at least 90% extra biblical.Jesus and John both employed Greek mythology/concepts such as Hades,Great Gulf and the Logos and combined them with biblical characters and concepts.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Eleazer, we have to remember that lots of Jews were doing this exact thing 2,000 years ago. The lines between midrash and halacha were not as clear cut, and things beyond the canon were fair game, and many books considered heresy now were widely read.

          Even rabbinic literature talks about the appocryphal texts like Ben Sira, Maccabees, and Enoch, books which are “heretical” today.

          They were not intentionally “borrowing Greek ideas,” 1st of all because Hades in Greek religion is nothing like “hell” in Christian imagination, or in Jewish apocalyptic imagination. Meaning the Greek underworld is not a fiery lake of burning and anguish, nor is Tartarus.

          The valley of Hinom (where garbage was burned) is taken as “this is what punishment will be like,” by Jewish appocalyptic writers.

          Satan as a prince of darkness with legions of fallen angels is found in 1 Enoch, a book that long predates Christianity, (200 BCE) that has ZERO to do with Greek ideas, maybe more evolved Roman ideas.

          Maybe some Zoroastrian ideas, (although Zoroastrians themselves if you ask them directly, and check their sources directly find that idea absurd.)

          Hades in Greek is just the realm of the dead, (more like Sheol) and its presided over by Zeus’s brother Hades who is a dignified and stern figure therein, who is like the Zeus of the dead. Hades does not torment souls, he guards them. If you prayed to Hades or offered sacrifice to him, it was either to ask for a bad Omen on someone you dislike, or to pray for blessing for your crops, since the ground is the domain of the dead.

          Tartarus is the place of suffering for gods in Greek sources, and IS BELOW the underworld, but it is also a primordial deity, Like Cronos.

          Its where the Titans are imprisoned and where Zeus placed Typhon and the cyclops. Originally Tartarus is where Greek deities punished other Greek deities, and only later did it come to be known as the place where a human was repaid for evil deeds like for like. The gods can also free you from Tartarus if they choose to send you to Hades, the normal resting place of the dead.

          Sisyphus had the punishment in Tartarus of rolling a boulder up a mountainside for eternity, though Sisyphus escaped Tartarus and had to be dragged back by Hermes. He had the option at this point of going to Hades, but refused it, so he was dragged back to Tartarus.

          The Romans (with Virgil) end up describing Tartarus as a place surrounded by fire and guarded by the Hydra. Still, gods more than men are sent there to be punished, though men are sent there too. However, reincarnation plays a huge role in the Aeneid, so only the worst of the worst go to Tartarus.Most souls get out and will live again.

          Greeks and Romans did not have the lethargic view of afterlife possibilites that Christians have.

          No disrespect intended, but I believe you are inadvertently doing what a lot of former Christians do when describing “greek ideas.” You are describing Greek beliefs the way early Christians portrayed them to be, namely as “mocking ideas” meant to imitate the “true” beliefs, instead of seeing them as they were.

          Early Christians believed all other religions were merely derivative,instead of actually being systems with their own unique worldviews, values, and opinions.

          Saying Christians “borrowed from Greek ideas” is about as silly as saying that Christians who do a seder where the matzah represents trinity, are borrowing Jewish ideas. lol its just absurd.

          • Eleazar says:

            Sorry, CR, but that is irrelevant. My response was aimed primarily at Paul saying Jesus was addressing the oral Torah and not the written. My second point was that Jesus’ & John’s use of Greek concepts was extra-biblical, regardless of whomever else may have done the same.

            Wish you would stop with the moral equivalency bit. If any of those Hellenistic Jews who were influenced by Greek concepts used said concepts to nullify the plain written Torah or proclaim themselves ( or another man) to be God, then they did not last long. let alone 1983 years and counting.

  3. robster2016 says:

    “In fact, I have observed firsthand that Christians have a haughtiness of spirit because they believe that G-d will forgive them all their wrongs no matter what, no matter how severe.
    Belief in Jesus creates a kind of spiritual wellfare check where the recipient then looks down on the one who refuses the check.”

    concerned reader, can you explain the last line in more detail. thanks

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Jesus blood is like a freely gifted wellfare check. Christians live on this check, depend on it, etc. To such an extensive degree that they look down on those who choose not to accept the “free gift.”

  4. PAUL SUMMERS says:

    Hello
    Isaiah ch 14, vs 12-17, (Lucifer not originally named in the Hebrew ).
    Ezekiel ch 28 vs 11- 19.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Paul Summers, those verses do not mention Satan in even one single place.

      That was the whole point of my post. How do you Christians know that these verses are about Satan based on the plain meaning of the text? Answer? You dont.

      This explanation you are offering is just your interpretation, and its an interpretation with no clear basis in the verses. Its entirely eisogetical.

      Satan is only directly mentioned by name in the book of Job, and only there. In this book, he works for hashem, not against him.

      Isaiah 14 12-17 can just as easily be reffering to a pagan leader (whom G-d appointed as king of a country,) who abandoned goodness for idolatry, and thus “set himself in G-d’s seat ”

      The Torah deacribes the prince of Tyre (Lebanon) as such a ruler. His country provided the Cedars for the temple, so the ruler got haughty and decided he deserved idolatrous praise for his contribution.

      My point Paul Summers is that you (and other Christians) are relying on oral traditions yourselves that lack a clear basis in the Torah’s plain literal sense to build up your pucture of Satan as a rebellious angel who is at war with G-d.

      If you follow the plain sense of Torah’s words (based on the verse where Satan is actually named,) you will notice that he is an angel who works for G-d, and obeys G-d’s bidding. Thats all the text ACTUALLY SAYS ABOUT SATAN.

      Any other idea you put in the Torah is a subjective eisogetical interpretation that lacks real textual basis.

      • PAUL SUMMERS says:

        Hello CR
        If you read Ez ch 28 the texts are very clear. Cherub, Mountain of God, seal of perfection, Eden the garden of God ( mineral garden, not vegetable, Gen ch 2). The day you were created. The texts cannot in anyway be referring to a human.
        I gave you, if you read it verses 11 onwards. V1 is the prince, v11 is the king. V11 is the focus. That’s king not prince.
        Satan simply put is an adversary not a co worker. Yes he is under Gods sovereign control but he works only within God’s remit.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Paul Sumners, Ezekiel tells you who he is talking about. He is talking about the ruler of Tyre.

          A PROPHECY AGAINST THE KNG OF TYRE

          You cant say that Ezekiel’s poetic description THAT DOESNT MENTION SATAN EVEN ONCE is about Satan, solely by inferring it like you are doing here.

          YOU, NOT THE PROPHET, is claiming this cant be about a monarch. THE PROPHET SAYS WHAT HE MEANS.

          Quit trusting vague allusion, just read.

  5. PAUL SUMMERS says:

    Hi Cr
    Can you clarify if the prophet is talking poetry or in clear manner. It seems you are stating a clear description AND a poetic sense?

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Rabbi B, could you help Paul out with this?

      • Concerned Reader paul already displayed that he is beyond help – but I’ll give it a try. Paul – if the prophet wanted to talk about Satan couldn’t he have said so? he could have said “This poem is about the devil” How did the King of Tyre get in there?

        1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  6. Alan says:

    Paul,
    You asked where is a human called an angel? See Malchi 2:7-

    ז  כִּי-שִׂפְתֵי כֹהֵן יִשְׁמְרוּ-דַעַת, וְתוֹרָה יְבַקְשׁוּ מִפִּיהוּ:  כִּי מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה-צְבָאוֹת, הוּא.

    “For the lips of a Priest will guard knowledge and they will seek Torah from his mouth, for he is an angel (malakh) of the Lord of Hosts.”

    Also, how do you know that Satan is a Cherub (keruv) kind of angel and not a Haya or Seraph or Ophan or other kind of angel? (There are about 10 different categories/levels of angel.)

  7. Concerned Reader says:

    Im not doing a “moral equivalency bit” im pointing out that you and others blaming this crap on Greeks or Romans is just ridiculous. Its against the facts.

    All the European Pagan worldviews died out while resisting Christianity. Did they just forget that the Christians taught paganism like theirs all along?

    Greeks did not think about life in the way that hellenistic Jews or Christians thought about life. If that is irrelevant, what is relevant?

    Ignoring Jewish sectarianism of the time period as irrelevant is asinine, im sorry to say, but you calling the stuff irrelevant just feeds ammo to missionaries like Dr. Brown. Its willful ignorance of Jewish history because it may not be kosher today.

    When you say sectarian groups are irrelevant, you need to think about what you are saying.

    The 2nd temple leadership was Sadducean, many of the priests were Sadducean, including possibly the Qumran sectarians.

    Do you realize that if that group had survived, instead of all these extra biblical traditions, Christianity’s readings would have no basis and never got off the ground?

    The Sadducee reading of verses like the valley of dry bones (as a metaphor for national resurgence) is obviously an older reading that doesnt stray from the text’s plain meaning. Saying it refers to ressurection of dead righteous folks is itself extra biblical.

    You want Christians to only view as relevant the traditions that you say fit. Unfortunately nobody has that control.

    If Philo or Josephus is itrelevant, tell me how you ibdependently verify anything you read in Mishna or Talmud. The answer? You cant.

    You cant just dismiss whole swathes of information and historical trends because its inconvenient.

    When you say “all that hellenistic Judaism and appocrypha is itrelevant, how can you be shocked if a Christian calls Talmud false?

    Josephus and Philo, and the appicrypha is the only way to independently check the antiquity of certain things in rabbinic literature.

  8. Concerned Reader says:

    Eleazer, you are assuming that Jesus speaking the way he did in the SOM would constitute a torah breach to readers in his day. Its not.

    All scholars recognize what Jesus is doing in those verses. He is taking a Torah precept (eye for eye) which was never read literally anyway, and is making a moral lesson. Its a common occurence in the literature of the time.

    Do unto others is a paraphrase of Hillel.

    • Eleazar says:

      Exactly right.My point was that in the SOM Jesus was not addressing oral Torah as Paul said he was. He was expounding on written Torah, but did add his own teachings that nullified the commandments as written, such as the remarriage clause.

      I think you should go back and reread Paul’s statement and my response in context before picking a fight.

    • Eleazar says:

      Paul: Isaiah says “Virgin”
      Eleazar: No, its אלמה = “young woman”
      CR: Eleazar, the Hebrew did not look like that back then. Isaiah did not write אלמה

      🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Concerned Reader says:

        CR: Eleazar, the Hebrew did not look like that back then. Isaiah did not write אלמה

        🙂 🙂 🙂

        There is a MASSIVE DIFFERENCE, and ha ha lol.

        There is not an easily discernible belief in virgin births across different Jewish sources from different Jewish sects that had different ideas through different periods.

        By contrast, there definitely was a belief in fallen angels, demons, giants, and other forces of “the other side”that bordered on dualism across different sects of Judaism in Jesus’ time, and later periods, and its even true to say that much of it has been retained in some Jewish circles today.

        Rabbinic literature alone talks about excorcisms, demons, the transfiguration of a righteous man into an angel (when Enoch becomes Metatron,) and this is without even touching the question of legitimacy of appocryphal accounts, or Qumran, or Philo, or Josephus. Its found in rabbinic literature.

        That means that If this was a non kosher belief, its a belief that affected everyone, except for maybe some Sadducees who dismissed most supernatural phenomena.

  9. Eleazar says:

    “You want Christians to only view as relevant the traditions that you say fit.”

    No, I want them to be honest in their debates, which always go according to their own rules and talking points.. Nothing to do with “traditions”. Everything to do with claiming falsely that they, or Jesus, are “sola scriptura” or that Torah plainly teaches Christianity. Or claiming that Jesus was faithful to the written Torah and only attacked oral tradition.Or claiming that Jesus and John were not influenced by Greek mythology.
    My points have diddly to do with attacking Greeks or Romans, or anything to do with tradition or Jewish commentators.

    Really, all you have to do is post “Jews did it, too”. It would save us both time. 🙂

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Not all Christians believe in Sola Scriptura in fact the majority dont accept it. Sola Scriptura protestants still read the Church fathers, so I agree with you that they are hypicrites.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Or claiming that Jesus and John were not influenced by Greek mythology.

        They were not influenced by Greek myth, that was the whole point of what I wrote. If you read Greek or Roman mythology, you will never get to Satan who rebels against G-d with a legion of rebellious angels, or humans who have a nature “sunken in Sin.” Greek and Roman mythology lacks these notions full stop.

  10. Concerned Reader says:

    Jews and Christians did not use Greek notions, they used certain Greek terms that they then completely redefined within the context of their own religion and culture.

    Greeks do not have a Satan, nor nobles who slept with women creating the nephilim, causing a flood etc.

    Rabbinic Judaism today believes the bnei elohim are just men. 2,000 years ago Jews believed differently based on the writings they left us. The qumran sect were not hellenists. Not at all. Their halacha is even stricter than todays.

    You can either ignore that history, or accept that Judaism may have changed.

    • Dina says:

      Con, Judaism didn’t change; there were heretical sectarian groups that died out. They were considered heretics by the Pharisees even in their own time period.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Dina you miss the point.

        rabbinic literature all by itself (without reference to heretical groups) mentions demons and exorcism, rabbinic literature mentions a man who became an angel, (Metatron who is described as the heavenly scribe who also teaches Torah “secrets,”) and rabbinic literature has its own versions of the kind of things that Philo taught.

        Its a historical fact that Jewish groups (even later and more modern ones) believed in this stuff in different forms, including the Pharisees.

        For example, while Philo reinvented Greek terms like Logos to then try and mesh it with the Biblical idea in his way (Which I am not denying,) other groups spoke of the Memra and the Shekinah (notions which survived and roughly approximate in their own way) the very same kind of doctrinal ideas that Philo talked about, even though Philo used the Greek term Logos, and other Jews did not need to use Greek terms, instead opting for Hebrew or Aramaic ones.

        What was the Logos for Philo?

        It was the 1st creation of G-d, one of his “angelic” (a vehicle for revealing his messages) servants, something created that was like the font of prophecy/the “virtues” (the source from which prophecy emanated,) the thing that caused the prophets to see their visions.

        So, for example when Ezekiel says he “saw G-d” it really means to someone like Saadia Gaon that he saw something like one of the angelic beings acting in a vision/as a mouthpiece or representation, (possibly Metatron) and that the glory of G-d/his presence (a creation of G-d) rested on the prophet granting him his visions, and the representations that he saw in them.

        Saadia Gaon for example called it the Kavod Nivra, and Maimonides talks about it as the “active intellect” both of which in both thinkers’ writings are notions that serve the same function as the “Logos” in Philo’s theology.

        So, my point was, you do not need to call this “Greek thought” because its not Greek, and if it is heretical, it is ideology that has brought its flavor even among Judaism’s greatest teachers like Saadia and Maimonides.

        I agree with you that Philo was wrong to put Greek Philosophy above the Torah (which Saadia and Maimonides did not do,) but to say that the notion that Philo labeled as “the Logos” itself is thoroughly Greek misses the fact that the way Philo used that word is roughly analogous to the way rabbinic Jews even still use native concepts like Memra, Shekinah, Kavod Nivra, sefirot, Active intellect, etc.

        IE you can drop Philo of Alexandria completely, drop Greek, and even drop the word Logos altogether, and in rabbinic literature you will still find

        the idea that there was some 1st creation of G-d (which was like G-d metaphorically limiting his revelation so the world could exist,) and through this variously named thing, G-d uses it as the vehicle of his revelation to the prophets in their visions.

        Think of this issue like the question of the printing press. Who invented the printing press? The Chinese or Europeans? In conventional wisdom you will hear people say “it was the Chinese,” “Nuh uh it was Europeans.”

        The true answer though is that both groups (the Chinese and the Europeans) invented separately their own version of the printing press at different times without cross cultural contamination.

        Even though in later modern times (when people examine the question of who invented the printing press?) it looks to one questioner or another like it was one group who was borrowing or plagiarizing from the other group, in fact both peoples came up with similar ideas without needing to make the claim that “this was borrowed from that.”

        My point was, the things which Philo said were said by him in a heretical way, but the notions beneath what he says are still found In Judaism today.

        • Dina says:

          I hear what you’re saying, and I see that we both agree on the difference between the way other groups incorporated these notions into their theologies and the way that we do not.

          However, I do think it’s plausible (and I’ve read the works of scholars who make this claim as well) that the ideas of the Greeks and the other pagan Canaanite religions influenced Philo and the dual powers adherents, respectively. In other words, Philo didn’t derive the concept of Logos from Jewish thought but rather from Greek, then attempted in a Jewish way to harmonize it with the Hebrew Bible.

          Commonly among groups who take such notions as you describe and turn it into a theology is that first they formulate their theological worldview, then they attempt to impose it on the Bible. I know of no case where it’s the other way around.

          Nevertheless, I do take your point.

  11. cpsoper says:

    Mr Blumenthal this is old panentheism defined, a common position amongst Muslims, I am not surprised to see the Fall denigrated and Pelagius’ old leprosy promoted under a rabbinic flavour here. It is not the Tenach’s position.
    Satan was created good, but his rebellion put him in the position of an implacably malign opponent to God and His people.
    Ezek. 28.1-19, Isa. 14.4-27, Zech.3.1-2. etc etc

    If you consider the first two passages only to refer to the respective Kings, reconsider how Antiochus Epiphanes fails to fulfil much of what is partially ascribed to him in Daniel 11.21-45 (esp from v 30, who cooperates with those who forsake and despise the Messianic covenant).

    • cpsoper You have already demonstrated that the Bible has no authority to tell you what to think – it is you who tell the Bible what it ought to say. But this is wild even for you – where does it say “Messianic” in Daniel 11:30?

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  12. Dina says:

    Following.

  13. Concerned Reader says:

    Dina, the scholars like Mark Nanos, Boyarin, Orlov, and Sommer, who all mention Canaanite influences on two powers adherants all acknowledge (as part of their core premises) that this Canaanite influence pervades the texts of the Tanakh itself in the Elohist and Yahwist sources, and that therfore both Jews and Christians (in their respective mystical traditions,) are dealing with home grown polytheistic hold over tendancies that were internal struggles within their own culture in the biblical period.

    So, even if I grant the work of the scholars you have read, even they agree with me that the theology is native born Israelite, because in scholarly circles there is very little that distinguishes Israelite from Canaanite, except pig bones absent at archaeological sites. Pottery, language, faith structures, etc. were all very similar.

    What im getting at is that if you grant scholarship’s premise that two powers was Canaanite, you have agreed that its in Tanakh already, (as that is what all these scholars believe and state in their texts.)

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