Messiah – Excerpt from The Real Jewish Messiah debate, part 3

What does the Scripture teach us about the real Jewish Messiah? The most important word that the Scriptures gave us to describe the Messiah is “David.” The Scriptures called the Messiah by David’s name 6 times (Jeremiah 30:9, Ezekiel 34:23,24, 37:24,35; Hosea 3:5). The prophet describes our yearning for the Messiah as yearning for our King David (Hosea 3:5). There is no person in all of Scripture that we know as well as David. David’s heart is the most open heart in all of Scripture. His heart is bare for all of us to read in the Book of Psalms.

Everyone agrees that if you want to know what the Messiah is all about then you need to read the Book of Psalms. But I encourage you, don’t read the Psalms like Dr. Brown, searching for a word or a phrase that you could exploit to support what the Church would have you believe. Instead read the Psalms as the followers of David have been reading them for 3000 years, feeling David’s heart. Open your heart to the song and to the spirit of the Book of Psalms.

When you open your heart to the Book of Psalms you will discover the personality of the Messiah. You will see a king who leads with humility, emphasizing his own utter helplessness before God and his total dependence upon God. You will not see a king who emphasizes his supposed superiority over other people. You will see a king who recognizes that every breath of air that God grants him is an expression of God’s love and he encourages you to look at your existence the same way. You will find a king who brings every fear, every worry, every problem and every sin directly to God and to God alone and he directs you to do the same. In the Psalms you will see a king who directs all of mankind’s devotion and worship towards God and he doesn’t divert an iota of that devotion towards himself. And you will see a king who does not stand apart from other men, emphasizing the differences that separate him from others. Instead, you will find a king who stands shoulder to shoulder with mankind inviting all of humanity to sing God’s praises together with him.

The Messiah will sing David’s song. He will take that same song and bring it home to all of humanity. The Messiah will make David’s song resonate in every heart. The Messiah will take the same message of David and make it the message of all mankind.

Psalm 148 gives us a taste of the Messiah. In that Psalm David invites all of creation to sing the praises of God together with him, the heavens, the earth and all of mankind. And when the Messiah comes he will bring all of mankind to join in David’s song of praise to the God of Israel.

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Reader’s Guide to the Bible; Dr. Brown vs. God – excerpt from Unanswered

Reader’s Guide to the Bible; Dr. Brown vs. God

In my own life I find that the more I study the Bible the more I am able to articulate why it is that Jesus is not who the Church claims he is. The Bible gives me the clarity and the strength to see right through the arguments of the missionary.

Dr. Brown points to the same Jewish Bible and he arrives at the opposite conclusion. How does he do this? How does he get a book which so clearly directs the Jew to reject the claims of the Church to be seen as supportive of those very claims?

If you read Dr. Brown’s work you will see that he simply omits some of the foundational Scriptural passages when he presents “Scripture’s position” on a given subject. He misinterprets other passages in his effort to support the claims of the Church but these are not his main tools. The main tool that Dr. Brown uses to get the Bible to point to Jesus is that he invents his own reader’s guide to the Bible. What do I mean when I say “reader’s guide to the Bible”?

You see, in order to build a world-view on the basis of the Jewish Bible you need some guidance. The Jewish Bible is a big book, about 30,000 verses. It is very easy to get lost out there. Someone has to tell you where to find a teaching on a given subject and someone has to tell you what is central and foundational and what is peripheral. It is only if you have this information that you can see the Bible as a cohesive whole.

Thankfully, the Author of the Bible provided us with a reader’s guide to His book. God used various literary devices to accentuate and to emphasize certain passages and concepts. Certain ideas are repeated again and again. Sometimes the narrative builds to a climax demonstrating what the Author sees as the pinnacle of a given event. The Author uses strong and commanding language to show that a given teaching is central and important.

If you follow the Author’s cues you will realize that the prohibition against worshiping idols is central. The practice of justice and mercy is foundational. The election of Israel, observance of the Law of Moses, the power of repentance and the Temple in Jerusalem are all pillars of the Scriptural worldview.

The Scriptures introduce Deuteronomy 4 as the definitive teaching on the subject of idolatry and Ezekiel 33 is presented as a teaching on the subject of dealing with guilt and sin. This is the guidance that the Divine Writer of Scripture provided for the readers of His book.

When I follow the guidance of God I see the theology of Judaism in the pages of Scripture. I find all of the foundational teachings of Judaism spelled out clearly and explicitly in the pages of the Jewish Bible.

I now turn to the books of Dr. Brown. Dr. Brown is encouraging his readers to find the theological underpinnings of Christianity in the same Jewish Bible. How is he going to do this?

He takes various passages and misinterprets them so that they support the theology of Christianity. But before he does this he discards the reader’s guide provided by God and he puts forth his own “reader’s guide” to the Bible. Instead of pointing his readers to Deuteronomy 4 for a teaching on devotion he tells his audience that Genesis 18 is the central teaching on worship and devotion. God, the Author of Scripture doesn’t place this passage at the center of this discussion, but Dr. Brown does.

When it comes to the subject of sin and guilt, Dr. Brown also ignores the Author’s guidance. The Author points to Deuteronomy 30 as a teaching on how the nation can repair its relationship with God and to Ezekiel 33 as a teaching on how an individual deals with the burden of sin. The Ezekiel passage is introduced with the question; “our sins and our transgressions are upon us and we melt away in them, how then shall we live?” Deuteronomy 30 did not make it into Dr. Brown’s discussion of this subject and Ezekiel 33 is relegated to the back pages of the discussion and is not given the weight that God gives it.

Instead Dr. Brown points to Leviticus 17:11 as the focal point on dealing with guilt and sin. But God doesn’t put His finger on this passage as a teaching on this subject. Leviticus 17:11 is introduced by the Author as a teaching against drinking blood.

So here we have it. Dr. Brown puts aside God’s reader’s guide to the Bible and presents us with his own. Are we to take this seriously? In case you answered yes to this question then please consider the following. Dr. Brown doesn’t take his own reader’s guide to the Bible seriously.

On page 199 of “The Real Case for Jesus” Dr. Brown excitedly declares that Zechariah 6 is the “most overt passage in the Jewish Bible where a human being is identified with a Messianic figure.” He tells us this to highlight the point which he incorrectly gathered from between the lines of the narrative that the Messiah is some sort of priest. So when it comes to a point that the prophet only refers to in a backhanded way (according to Dr. Brown’s faulty interpretation) this prophecy in Zechariah is prominent and significant. But when the prophet tells us explicitly that this Messianic figure is to build the Temple, Dr. Brown tells us that this prophecy only appears once and in only one book of the Bible and is therefore of little significance (page 172 of Volume 3 “Answering Jewish Objections”).

How then can I abandon God’s guidance concerning the centrality of various Scriptural passages and accept the guidance of a man who doesn’t take his own words seriously?

Here is the first of the three questions that I will be sharing with you. God gives us clear direction concerning His book. He highlights certain points and He tells us that certain passages are teachings on particular subjects. How can I be expected to abandon the guidance provided by God and accept the guidance of a man who doesn’t take his own words seriously? How could I follow the direction of the Church when the Author of Scripture is pointing the other way?

Do you understand my question? Do you not recognize that this is an important question? Is this something I am not supposed to notice? If Dr. Brown would have a good answer for this question, would he withhold it from you?

The Church had 2000 years to work on this question and they have failed to address it. Can you understand why a Jew has the moral responsibility to disregard the claims of the Church if they cannot address this foundational question?


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A Song

For we are the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Every breath/soul will praise God (Psalm 150:6)

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The Real Jewish Messiah – part 3; Notes

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

The Real Jewish Messiah, Rabbi Blumenthal Debates Dr. Brown – Part 3

We have arrived at the third and final segment in the debate about the real Jewish Messiah. Where do we stand? What have we learned thus far?

Dr. Brown has shared a narrative, a portrait of what he believes about the Messiah. His narrative has a sinless Messiah dying for the sins of the world, rejected by the Jews and accepted by the gentiles. Dr. Brown encourages his audience to put their trust in this Messiah of his. From the standpoint of a Jew who trusts in God Dr. Brown is telling us that until we put our trust in his Messiah, our trust in God remains inadequate and incomplete. As part of his Messianic narrative, Dr. Brown looks forward to a day when those who do not trust in his Messiah will be put to shame, despite…

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Different Faith Structures – Excerpt from Supplement to Contra Brown

Judaism affirms that God established the basic foundations of Judaism in the hearts of the Jewish people. The Exodus and the Sinai revelation which were experienced by the nation as a collective unit, served to establish the basic truths of Judaism in the hearts and minds of the nation. The sacred books were presented to the nation in order that their message be assimilated by the people who will read these books in light of the foundational experiences.

As it is with any written work, and especially one as lengthy as the Jewish Scriptures, there will be questions and confusion. Judaism maintains that the Divine intent was that the judges of the Jewish people arbitrate in all situations where the Scriptural guidance is not clear. The foundational concepts of Judaism will never be affected by the intricacies of the text because they are not dependant on the text. They were established in the hearts of the people independent of any text.

Protestant Christianity, on the other hand prides itself that it does not rely upon humans for the foundation or for the transmission of their belief system. Protestants point to the texts of Scripture and declares that they only rely upon the word of God.

Without getting into the question as to who decided that these texts are indeed the word of God and upon what authority is this decision based, there are serious problems with the Protestant position. If indeed these texts are to serve as the foundation of the religion, and these texts are not meant for any specific audience (as opposed to the texts of Judaism which are meant for a specific target audience) – then who is to arbitrate when confusion arises? These confusions are not limited to peripheral issues in the Christian faith. The texts are unclear about some of the most essential issues of Christianity. This problem is severe enough when we limit our focus to the Christian Scriptures alone. But the confusions are multiplied exponentially when we throw the Jewish Scriptures into the mix.

The sacred texts of Christianity do not give clear direction on issues such as the alleged divinity of Jesus, on the position of the Law of Moses after the advent of Jesus, on the role of the Jewish people in the Messianic age and on many such issues that have divided the ProtestantChurch since its inception.

Since Protestant Christianity does not attribute any authority to a body of human judges, there is no way that these conflicts can be effectively resolved except on a person by person basis. Each reader could resolve the confusions as he or she sees fit. This leaves Christianity with the unhappy proposition of having as many Christianity’s as there are adherents.

This is only where Christianity’s problems begin. When we consider the question of the trustworthiness or lack thereof of the sacred texts of Christianity the Protestant Christian can only point to the texts themselves. As opposed to Judaism where the testimony of the living nation augments the testimony of the texts and the testimony of the texts augments the testimony of the living people – Protestant Christianity only has a set of books upon which they could place their trust. How can we know if these texts were written by honest people? On what basis can we accept that the books of the Christian Scripture were authored by people who lived up to a high ethical and moral standard? Why should we judge the authors of the gospels in a favorable light if there is no outside evidence to support the thesis that these were honest and ethical people?

In the case of Judaism, we have the testimony of the nation concerning the moral and spiritual character of the Biblical authors. These men and women established their credentials in the hearts, minds, and memories of a nation appointed by God as His witnesses. If we find confusion in their writings, we have the testimony of the nation amongst whom these writers lived to reassure us that these authors were holy and trustworthy. The confirmation of a nation serves to counteract any questions that would arise from the body of the texts.

In the case of Christianity, on the other hand, the exact opposite is true. The Jewish people amongst whom these authors lived remember them in a negative light. Why should we trust these people? What is the justification to exert ourselves to straighten out the confusion that abounds in their writings? Where is the witness that will stand to counterbalance the contradictions found in the gospels?

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Does He Forgive?

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Does He Forgive?
“From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him, if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have befallen you, at the end of days, you will return to the Lord your God, and hearken to His voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God, He will not abandon you nor destroy you, and He will not forget the covenant of your forefathers that he swore to them.” (Deuteronomy 4:29-31).

“As for the wicked man, if he repents from all his sins that he committed, and he observes all My decrees and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he committed will not be remembered against him; he shall live because of the righteousness that he did…

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Moses vs. Jesus – Excerpt from Supplement to Contra Brown

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Brown besmirches Judaism again. He “informs” his readers about “thegreat contrast between Rabbinic Judaism and the New Covenant Faith”. Brown points to the closing verses in Deuteronomy which speak of Moses unsurpassed greatness. He then contrasts the Christian reading of these verses with what he presents as the Rabbinical reading of these verses. Brown claims that in light of Jesus alleged miracles, Christians are entitled to believe that Jesus was greater than Moses. We will deal with this non-scriptural assertion shortly. For now we will move on to Brown’s presentation of the Rabbinic reading of these verses in Deuteronomy.

I quote; “What does Rabbinic Judaism say about these verses in Deuteronomy 34? Remarkably, there is a saying that goes, “From Moses to Moses there was none like Moses” – referring to none other than Moses Maimonides…”

I find this argument incredible. For starters, Maimonides himself, gave expression to one…

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Arrogance, Confidence and Jewish Pride

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Arrogance, Confidence and Jewish Pride

Christians pride themselves in their humility towards Jesus. They see the bending of their hearts in devotion towards the character described in the pages of the Christian Scriptures as an act of humility and self-effacement. Conversely; these Christians look down at the Jewish refusal to bow towards Jesus as an act of arrogance and conceit.

Let us examine the heart of the matter.

We all find arrogance and haughtiness to be distasteful (at least when we see these qualities in other people). On the other hand we find that confidence is a positive and necessary human characteristic. Who enjoys working with an arrogant snot? Yet at the same time we find it so difficult to work with a person who has no confidence in themselves. How are these two qualities; arrogance and confidence, different from each other?

Both the haughty person and the confident person…

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Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

The act of adultery is a violation of a commitment. But this aspect of adultery should technically be covered in the range of the prohibition against stealing. If one member of a partnership committed themselves to the agreement under the belief that the other member would maintain their part of the agreement, then when one partner violates the deal, the other partner’s commitment was falsely obtained.

But adultery goes further than the violation of a commitment between two partners. Adultery is the violation of humanity. When a person puts his desire for physical pleasure above his desire to keep a solemn commitment he has identified himself more as an animal and less as a human. One who commits adultery tramples upon honesty, honor, human dignity, kindness and integrity all for the sake of a crass physical pleasure.

With this understanding of the prohibition against adultery…

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Isaiah 40-52 – Continuation of the Discussion

(The following article is a continuation of the discussion that can be read here – https://judaismresources.net/2020/11/13/discussing-isaiah-40-52/ )

I thank you again for investing time and effort in this conversation. I
feel that every additional response brings greater clarity to the
questions that stand between us. However, in this most recent response
of yours I find a certain level of confusion. Please allow me to
articulate this with a few simple questions.

Contrasts

We have two sets of contrasts; “A” and ”B.” When presenting contrast “A”
the author explicitly contrasted the two entities by placing them side
by side and using opposite words to describe them. He does not do this
for contrast “B.” When presenting contrast “A” the author does not use
any words that would show us that the two entities are somehow one with
each other. But when he presents contrast “B” the author uses many
phrases that give us to understand that the two entities are united with
each other, in origin, in role and in future glory. When presenting
contrast “A” the author assigns clear and distinct names for the
entities that he is contrasting. When presenting contrast “B” the author
does not even assign different names to the two entities in question.

So is your position that the author is emphasizing contrast “B” to the
same or to a greater degree that he is emphasizing contrast “A”?

Literary Flourish

You wrote in a previous e-mail: “I feel it’s the opposite, that the
distinctions between individual and corporate servant are so stark they
need no literary flourish to underscore them.”

You also wrote; “that the greatest contrast is between God and the
idols; not a word I have written downplays that at all.”

Yet when the prophet presents the contrast between God and the idols, he
provides “literary flourish.” If the contrast is so stark, even greater
than the contrast between the individual and the corporate servants,
then why did the prophet find the need to provide the “literary flourish”?

In short is the “literary flourish” of the prophet a sign of a stronger
contrast or a weaker contrast?

Downplay or Deny

You accuse me of downplaying or denying the contrast between the
individual and corporate servants.

I merely pointed to literary evidence. I pointed to the fact that the
prophet presents the individual as someone who needs God’s help as does
Israel. I pointed to the fact that the prophet never calls the
individual “righteous.” I pointed to the fact that the prophet speaks
positively of the righteous remnant in precisely the chapters that your
literary scheme would need the contrast to be the sharpest.

Is my calling attention to these truths “downplaying or denying” the
contrast between the individual and corporate servant?

Would you rather that our audience not consider the full scope of the
Scriptural evidence?

How Could Isaiah Make the Distinction Clearer?

You had asked (in a previous communication); “How could Isaiah make the
distinction (between the individual and corporate servants) clearer?”

I responded by pointing out that the prophet could have made this
contrast clearer by avoiding this cluster of positive descriptions of
the remnant in the chapters immediately preceding chapter 53, the very
spot where your literary scheme would demand that the contrast be the
sharpest.

You responded with three arguments.

First you write that my response fails to explain why we need an
individual redeemer.

But my response was never meant to answer that question. This argument
of yours is irrelevant to the question at hand – How Could Isaiah Make
the Distinction Clearer?

Your second argument introduces the “rhythm argument” (which posits a
back and forth pattern alternating between the individual and corporate
servants) which I shall address separately. At this point I will merely
point out that this argument of yours is also irrelevant to the question
at hand. “How Could Isaiah Make the Distinction Clearer?”

Then you point out that the primary emphasis of the prophet in these
chapters (the lead up to 53) is on the saving work of the Lord and not
on the righteousness of the remnant.

Again, completely irrelevant to the question at hand – How Could Isaiah
Make the Distinction Clearer?

And besides, just to inform you, I never said that the primary focus of
these chapters was the righteousness of the remnant as opposed to the
work of God. Please do not waste your own energy and the energy of our
reading audience refuting straw man arguments that I never made.

The third point that you bring up in response to my response actually
addresses the subject at hand. You argue that the prophet mentions the
righteousness of the remnant to highlight the point that even this
remnant needs redemption. Sort of like your arguments about the prophet
speaking of the similarities to highlight the differences and the lack
of “literary flourish” serving as evidence for the emphasis of the prophet.

With this “up means down and black means white” approach you rob the
prophet of the tool of language. Had the prophet wanted to mitigate the
contrast between the individual and corporate servant what should he
have done?

Spending Literary Energy

In your zeal to highlight the contrasts between the individual and
corporate servants you tell us that the prophet spends his literary
energy presenting “the people as a whole rejecting him (the individual
servant).” You tell us that the prophet spends his literary energy
describing the (individual) servant’s brutal suffering “at the hand of
his very own people.”

There is one ambiguous phrase (49:7) that can perhaps be interpreted to
mean that the nation of Israel rejected the individual servant. This
interpretation is open to question and is far from clear. There is no
way you can say that the prophet spent his literary energy in these
chapters identifying Israel as rejecters and persecutors of the
individual servant.

How could you compare this to the explicit and unambiguous passages
where the prophet spends his literary energy contrasting God and the
idols, Israel and her enemies or the servants of God and the servants of
idols?

Not Guilty

You keep on bringing up 53:9 as if it said that the suffering servant is
not guilty of any violence or deception. I have repeatedly pointed out
that the verse simply says that the servant is not guilty of the crimes
that his enemies attribute to him to justify their persecution of him.
The grammar of the verse makes this clear. Please do not continue to
ignore this.

Glory and Shame

Isaiah 53 speaks about the exaltation of a given servant of God and the
shame and confusion of those who had despised him. You insist that it is
the people of Israel who are expressing their shame and confusion in
this passage and it is the Messiah who is exalted.

Yet when I wrote that the exaltation of the Messiah (in the world-view
of Targum and Alshich) does not exclude the glory of the nation/remnant,
you ask; “who said anything about seeing the Messiah’s glory being to
the exclusion of the nation/remnant?”

Isn’t the whole thrust of your interpretation of 53 that it is precisely
the exaltation of the Messiah that brings Israel shame?

Evaluating Scriptural Evidence and the Arm of the Lord

The very nature of our discussion has each of us presenting Scriptural
text as evidence for our respective positions. It seems however that we
are not playing with the same set of rules. I had assumed that we both
agree that the process of bringing Scriptural evidence to support one of
our positions would require that we follow these basic procedural steps.
1 – That we consider the two proposed interpretations of the passage in
question without misrepresenting either of them. 2 – That we examine the
Scriptural evidence for what it says without reading our interpretation
into the text. And 3 – that we then ask ourselves and our audience which
of the two proposed interpretations aligns more accurately with the
evidence at hand.

Let us try to apply these rules to our discussion about the prophetic
reference to the arm of the Lord. Here we have two references to a
revelation of the arm of the Lord merely 6 verses apart (52:10 – 53:1).
In one of the references there is no question that the prophet is
speaking of a sudden, dramatic and obvious revelation of God’s strength
on behalf of Israel to the shock of all the nations.

When we approach the second reference we are presented with two opposing
interpretations. One interpretation sees that revelation as a sudden,
dramatic and obvious revelation of God’s strength on behalf of Israel to
the shock of all the nations. The other interpretation sees it as a
mysterious and hidden process that brings shock to Israel and
vindication to the nations.

What set of rules did you follow that brought you to the conclusion that
the second interpretation is the one supported by the text?

Literary Parallels

In the past few communications both of us have presented parallel words
or concepts in order to demonstrate that the prophet was creating a
connection between two entities. This type of Scriptural evidence is far
from conclusive so I will comment on your usage of this type of evidence
in a separate article.

A Syllable

In this past communication you wrote: “In fact, with all our years of
discussion and this very lengthy interchange here the last couple of
years, you have yet to provide me with a syllable demonstrating the
vicarious and redemptive aspects of Israel’s suffering on behalf of the
nations.”

I do not believe that the prophet is talking about vicarious suffering
of Israel on behalf of the nations and that is why I did not provide a
syllable of explanation to that effect. However I do believe that
Israel’s suffering is redemptive and I have demonstrated time and time
again that this is one of the themes of these chapters.

The prophet describes Israel as the bearer of God’s word which is the
blessing of mankind. This redemptive task goes along with suffering in a
way that is parallel to the bearers of the vessels of the Lord in the
wilderness. So this is the redemptive aspect of Israel’s suffering.

Did you not get this? Why then would you reject the straightforward
reading of 51:16 which has God place His word in Israel’s mouth? Why
would you flip flop on the interpretation of “no’sei klei Hashem”
(52:11) from insisting that the correct interpretation is NOT “armor
bearers” but rather “bearers of the vessels” and then go back and argue
that the correct interpretation IS “armor bearers” and not “bearers of
the vessels”?

The Report of 48:20

In our debate I pointed to the report that goes to the end of the earth
in 48:20 to help us understand the report that goes to the end of the
earth in 52:10 and 53:1. This is not the form of evidence that I would
call “literary parallel.” This is a case of one Scripture illuminating
another. Where the prophet sheds light on a concept in one passage and
then describes a similar concept in another passage. We then understand
that the two passages are to be understood in light of one another.
(This is similar to the argument about the two references to the arm of
the Lord that I mentioned earlier.)

You dismiss the connection between these two reports but you argue for a
set of literary parallels between the two passages which leads you to
conclude that the prophet was following the same pattern of first
speaking of the redemption from Babylon and then focusing on the
individual servant.

In the course of your argument you acknowledge that the report of 48:20
is speaking of the same sort of event described in 52:11 and 12. Would
you then argue that the revelation of the arm of the Lord of 52:10 is
disconnected from the redemption from Babylon described in verses 11 and
12? And if you accept that the revelation of the arm of the Lord of
52:10 is related to the redemption from Babylon would you still argue
that the arm of the Lord spoken of in 53:1 together with the report
mentioned in that same verse is disconnected from the redemption from
Babylon?

Armor Bearers

The very last prophetic description of Israel before the suffering
servant passage is “no’sei klei Hashem.” (52:11). In earlier
communications I proposed that this phrase is describing Israel as armor
bearers of God. You pushed back against this interpretation (in Brown 3)
and wrote: “Rabbi Blumenthal has made far too much out of the
armor-bearer image, which simply refers to the returning exiles as those
who carry the vessels of the Lord. They are not to touch anything
unclean because of what they are carrying – namely, some of the sacred
objects from the Temple. That’s it.”

Yet in this most recent communication when I bring up the connection
with the sons of Kehat of Numbers 4 you go back to the armor bearer
interpretation. So which would you rather? That the last reference to
Israel before the suffering servant passage is one which portrays Israel
as an entity that stands beside God in His battle? Or would you rather
have this reference portray Israel as the sons of Kehat who are exhorted
to carry out their duties properly as they bear the focal point of God’s
presence in this world?

Who is Called “Righteous”?

We both agree that the servant of 53 is called righteous. You had
challenged me to point out where the remnant is called righteous. The
point of your challenge was that if the remnant is not called righteous
then it would be inappropriate to see the remnant as the servant of 53
who is called righteous. When I pointed out the prophet clearly implies
the righteousness of the remnant you responded with the argument that
the prophet does not use the precise word; “righteous.”

It was to this argument of yours that I responded by pointing out that
throughout the book of Isaiah the precise word “righteous” as a title
only applies to God and to Israel. The individual servant is never
entitled with the precise word “righteous.”

You responded by pointing to 53 where the servant is called “righteous.”
But that is precisely the point. If we are going to use the prophetic
usage of the specific title; “righteous” to determine the identity of
the servant of 53 (which is your own argument – not mine) we would not
end up with the individual servant.

Isolated Passage

I asked if you believe that the fact that readers who are ignorant of
the Biblical context see Isaiah 53 as a reference to Jesus is a factor
to consider when determining the correct interpretation of this passage.
I pointed out that using such interpretative methods would have us read
John 8:44 in light of the understanding of this isolated verse in the
minds of anti-Semitic Germans.

You responded by stating that this passage stands on its own and that
Isaiah 53 consists of 15 verses as opposed to the one verse of John 8:44.

So do you believe that someone can get an accurate read on this passage
without a previous Scriptural understanding of terms such as God,
Israel, God’s servant, arm of the Lord, vessel bearers of the Lord, the
Biblical teachings on sin and forgiveness, and the Messianic era? Are
you trying to say that people who are actually misinformed about these
subjects should be teaching us the meaning of this passage?

Forest and Trees

Your interpretation of Isaiah 53 has the glorification of the Messiah
bringing shame to Israel. This is not simply a matter of an
interpretation that does not conform with the central theme of these
chapters (40-52), your interpretation runs counter to the theme that you
yourself acknowledged in your outline.

Yes, Israel needs to repent from her sins and repentance involves shame
and confession. But these chapters in Isaiah do not describe the actual
process of redemption as one that brings shame to Israel. These chapters
emphasize the glory and vindication of Israel that will be produced by
the redemption. The underlying spirit of all of these chapters is
comfort and consolation. That God’s dramatic work of redemption will
bring honor to Israel who waited for this redemption. Your
interpretation is the very opposite of the heart of this prophetic promise.

What part of this do you not see?

From Diminishing References to Increased Intensity to the Rhythm Argument

In our video debate you presented the argument that chapters 40-48 focus
on Israel while 49 -52 focus on the individual servant. When I pointed
out that this is not the case, and in fact 49-52 still focus on Israel
more than they focus on the individual servant you switched to the
“increased intensity” argument. You argued that the increase of focus on
the individual rises at a steeper rate (in 49-52 over 40-48) than does
the increase in intensity of focus on the nation and that this factor should determine the identity of the unnamed servant of 53.

Now that I have pointed out that the last two chapters before 53 are
intensely focused on the righteousness of Israel’s remnant with no
mention of the individual servant, you switched your argument yet again
and now you want us to accept the “rhythm argument.” You want us to see
some sort of “back and forth” pattern where the fact that one chapter
focuses on one subject is evidence that the next chapter needs to shift
focus to another subject.

You realize that the premise of your original argument was that the flow
of the prophetic word is consistent and that one chapter leads directly
into the next. Now you want us to accept the very opposite premise; that
the chapters swing from one subject to the next. You have switched the
underlying premise of your original argument.

What made you switch the premise? What was the basis of your shift from
seeing the chapters flow consistently from one into another to the idea
that they keep on moving back and forth from one subject to another? Is
there any other basis for this shift in your understanding of Scripture
aside from the desire to bend the prophetic word so that it can agree
with your theology?

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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