Saturday, October 13, 2007

Emet Ve'Yatziv - Truthful and Certain

For the past little while, I've been debating with a "Christian" Jew (which is as ridiculous as "kosher pork" or "Christians for Vishnu") and we've come to the topic of faith. In this post I want to contrast the concept of faith in Judaism with that of Christianity and Islam. I trust that my Christian friends won't be insulted but after all, this is my blog and I can talk about my faith.

To start it off, I do not believe anything based on blind faith. As a Jew, I am naturally a skeptic. The name Israel literally means "he who wrestles with G-d". This is is stark opposition to Islam, which means "submission". When G-d revealed to our Father Abraham that He planned to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, instead of telling G-d that those sinners deserved it or remaining silent, Abraham protested. He said to G-d 'Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou indeed sweep away and not forgive the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from Thee; shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly?' (Genesis 18:23-25)

That's not to say that I don't believe. As a Jew, I believe in the Rambam, Mainmonides', 13 Principles of Faith in which every Jew must believe in order to have a share in the World to Come. They are:

1. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is the Creator and Ruler of all things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.

2. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is One. There is no unity that is in any way like His. He alone is our G-d He was, He is, and He will be.

3. I believe with perfect faith that G-d does not have a body. physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing whatsoever that resembles Him at all.

4. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is first and last.

5. I believe with perfect faith that it is only proper to pray to G-d. One may not pray to anyone or anything else.

6. I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.

7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses is absolutely true. He was the chief of all prophets, both before and after Him.

8. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that we now have is that which was given to Moses.

9. I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be another given by G-d.

10. I believe with perfect faith that G-d knows all of man's deeds and thoughts. It is thus written (Psalm 33:15), "He has molded every heart together, He understands what each one does."

11. I believe with perfect faith tha G-d rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress Him.

12. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. Even though he may tarry, I will await his coming every day.

13. I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when G-d wills it to happen.

This belief is not blind. It is based on reason, logic and above all, on the faithful traditions that we received from our forefathers. What separates Judaism and the Torah from all other religions or belief systems? The answer lies in the public revelation of Mount Sinai.

There is no religion besided Judaism that believes in a public revelation, that G-d Himself descended and revealed himself to multitudes of people, to an entire nations. Muhammad wrote the Qur'an alone in a cave. Would it have been much more convincing if Allah would have handed it to him at Mecca infront of a million Muslims? Similarly, Jesus only performed miracles for his apostles or a handful of other people, certainly nothing on the scale of Sinai. Such an enormous story would be impossible to make up. If the Torah had been fabricated (G-d forbid) and the author would have begun preaching his new truth to the Jewish people, the Jews would have asked why their parents had never related to them the event at Sinai. Why had they never before heard of this unique happening, in which their parents or grandparents had seen G-d and heard His voice. The Torah makes this point very clearly. 'For ask now of the days past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever a people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before thine eyes?' (Deuteronmy 4:32-34)

Truely, is there any other people that claim such a thing? Do any other religions have millions of witnesses to butress their claims? All other divine revelations in non-Jewish religions are in private, with nor reliable witnesses or spectators. Paul on his way to Damascus, Constantine while on a bridge losing a big battle, Jesus in his Transfiguration, and the Mormon Joseph Smith, in a wooded grove. Why would G-d stake something so important as His Torah, His word, on the individual claims of one person? If Mohammed was meant to be His prophet, He would have declared so publicly. It is not enough to simply believe, we must think logically.

Therefore, I know, based on empirical fact, that G-d exists, that He rescued my ancestors from Egypt and that He gave the Jewish People the Torah on Mount Sinai, in front of 600 000 men, an equal number of women, their many children, along with, as the Rabbis tell us, the souls of every future Jew. The Torah has authority and is validated in a way that no other religious book is. The New Testament was written by several different authors 100 years after Jesus and is full of conflicting accounts, the Qur'an was "revealed" alone in a cave as was the Book of Mormon. Only the Torah is emet ve'yatziv, truthful and certain, given "in the sight of all Israel" (Deuteronomy 34:12)


Phil Sumpter said...

But Christians believe in the revelation at Sinai too.

Bar Kochba said...

Exactly- but JC's revelations were private.

The Frank Family said...

BK -- Once again you are putting forth lies about Jesus. Jesus performed miracles in private but also in public as well. In this instance there were 5000 men present, nevermind women and children.
John chapter 6:
5When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages[a] would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"

8Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 9"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"

10Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." 13So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Also, if you define validity by how many people heard then how do you defend the validity of the oral Torah as it was supposedly given to only Moses. That would seem to constitute a grand total of one. Now where is the greatest need for blind faith. Since you have also come out so proud of Abraham's name here, doesn't his name and the story involved with how he got it show to you that God does reveal himself in a form as he chooses?

CZ said...

Bar, not offended. Of Course, it is your blog and you can say as you please. I know from your writings that emet is important to you. You will need to find other examples to use in this instance. JC was very public. Besides the feeding of the
5000 men +women and children, he regularly attended the Feast days at the Temple etc. The giving of the Torah included a mixed multitude and was heard in 70 languages. Many Christians today are doing their best to restore the proper place of Torah to our walk. Sadly, it was the anti-semitic theologies and corrupt Church leadership that took it from us some 1800 years ago.


Phil Sumpter said...

In addition to all this, Christians still believe in the revelation at Sinai too.

The greater publicity of the Sinai event, as opposed to the supposed lesser publicity of Jesus' events, doesn't do much to demarcate Judaism as distinct from Christianity, since Christians believe in both.

Der Baron von Bornstein said...

Any religion that didn't believe in it's own validity would not be a religion.

falcon_01 said...

I thought in Genesis it was clearly written that God made man in His image.

Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of his coming from the Old Testament. Please see the lists:

I'll also point you or others who might argue Jesus was just a good philosopher to the following link:

He didn't leave any room for that...

Bar Kochba said...

You are all missing the point.
Frank and CZ: I have written no lies about Jesus, at least nopt anymore than are written in the "New" Testament or taught by the church. Miracles prove nothing and Judaism never relied on them.
Luke wrote in Acts, “You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you” (Luke 2:22). Isn’t it strange that God warned us about such things in Deuteronomy 13:2-3? About “The Idolatrous Prophet” God warns us:

13.2 This is what you must do] when a prophet or a person who has visions in a dream arises among you. He may present you with a sign or miracle, 3 and on the basis of that sign or miracle, say to you, 'Let us try out a different god. Let us serve it and have a new spiritual experience.' 4 Do not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. God your Lord is testing you to see if you are truly able to love God your Lord with all your heart and all your soul.

Miracles are no proof of divinity and were very common in the ancient world. Dionysus turned water into wine and pagan mythologies were full of stories of demi-gods being born of virgins (usually on the 25th of December). However, in Christianity, there is no divine national revelation. If belief in JC is such an all-important thing on which all of our salvations rest, why was G-d awfully silent on that issue? G-d never appears to JC in public, in front of millions of people like at Sinai. What's important is not miracles but a public revelation in which G-d himself shows himself to millions and gives them His word.

I have given you already many examples of where the Torah refers to the Oral law. Deuteronomy 12:21 "If the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to put His name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee". The laws of kosher slaughter are extremely complex and they are found nowhere in the Torah. Also, whenever the Torah says "G-d said unto Moses saying", the redundancy can be explained that it mean to teach the Jews all of the relevant laws concerning this commandment ie. the Oral Torah.
BTW G-d never revealed Himself in form to Abraham. He sent angels, which are His messengers, but they are not G-d incarnate. “Take good heed of yourselves, for you saw no manner of form on that day when God spoke to you at Horeb...” (Deuteronomy 4:15)

Phil: That is what I'm trying to say. The Jewish Scriptures are emet ve'yatziv since they were given infront of millions while JC never had this sort of a public revelation. G-d never descended publicly before millions of Jews and gave the "New" Testament. In fact, the "New" Testament is a fabrication that was written a hundred years after JC and it is an accepted fact that the early Church fathers assigned apostolic names to them. They were chosen from among hundreds of other Gospels which have now been found. They are riddled with innaccuracies and tell conflicting stories.
For example There is no historical record ― outside the Christian Bible ― that Herod ever decreed all children 1 (or males 2) to be killed 3 at birth (Matthew 2.16). Yet, such a fateful and monstrous event would certainly have been recorded by historians alive at that time. Even Josephus Flavius, a renowned Jewish historian, who chronicled events during that very period in history, makes no mention of any such decree by Herod, much less any actual killings.
At the time when Herod's decree was supposedly issued, there was great political unrest in the land. Such a decree would have surely sparked a Jewish rebellion. Yet, no account of any such rebellion is to be found. The fact that the only source of this event is the Christian Bible, contradicts the way historical events were recorded. History records that Herod was loathed during his reign, and many far less evil acts that Herod committed were carefully recorded in several historical sources. An act this evil and of this magnitude ― killing all children (or boys) ― would never have been left out of any account in which Herod was involved.
In addition, a most convincing proof of the fabrication of that event ― Herod’s slaughter ― is the fact that, according to the Christian’s own New Testament, in the Gospel of Luke, Herod was dead before Jesus was even born.
In The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read, John Remsburg states: "The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. His writings in proof of the divinity of Christ demanded the use of these Gospels had they existed in his time. He makes more than 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the four Gospels.” This where the term "pious fraud" comes from.

Der B von B: But blind faith does not make truth.

Falcon: G-d made man in His image meaning that man is imbued with mental and intellectual properties like G-d. Out of all of the animals, only man can think, reason, use logic or has free will.
I took a look at some of the "prophecies" that JC fulfilled and these are garbage and taken out of context. Most of them are passages that have nothing to do with the messiah. I won't refute all 365, only a few for time. Anyways, 365 X 0 = 0, so thats okay.

1. Genesis 3:15.....Seed of a woman (virgin birth).....Luke 1:35, Matthew 1:18-20

Genesis 3:15 reads like this: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; they shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise their heel.'" This is the serpents curse for tempting Eve. What does this have anything to do with JC?

9. Genesis 14:18...The Last Supper foreshadowed...Matthew 26:26-29

"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of God the Most High." Bread and wine are a common biblical way to eat and thank G-d. Again, what is the connection to JC? If you do want a connection though, the 12 apostles of Mithras and his followers believed that by eating a sacred meal that became his flesh and blood, they could commune with their man-god. Something to chew on.

13. Genesis 22:18...As Isaac's seed, will bless all nations...Galatians 3:16

" and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast hearkened to My voice." This is G-d's promise to Abraham as a reward for the Binding of Isaac. But, traditional Christianity teaches that the Church replaced the seed of Isaac. Also, Christianity has hardly been a blessing for the Jews. Think of the pogroms, the hateful sermons, the Crusades, the Inquisitions...

23. Exodus 12:21-27...Christ is our Passover...1 Corinthians 5;7

First of all, the commandment of the Passover sacrifice was only given to the Jews and since the Romans "sacrificed" JC, it is invalid. This is besides the fact that the Passover sacrifice didn't effect atonement. Sacrifices could only be brought in the Holy Temple but JC was cruxified outside of Jerusalem. Biblically, sacrificial death could only occur through the shedding of blood exclusively (Leviticus 17:11). Jesus, death by crucifixion can not be considered a sacrificial death. His death may have been caused by either asphyxiation or by going into "shock brought on by the traumatic physical events of his last hours, before and after he was nailed to the cross." In his case, shock would not have been brought on solely by blood loss. The Gospels indicate Jesus' blood was not shed to a degree that would make blood loss from the body the exclusive cause of death. Death solely by blood loss is the only biblical cause acceptable for an animal's sacrificial death.

51. 2 Samuel 7:16...David's house established forever...Luke 3:31; Rev. 22:16

JC is disqualified from kingship. The king must only come from the tribe of Judah and tribal status is passed down through the father. Since JC had no physical father, he cannot be from the tribe of Judah and thus not king. The Torah is clear that adoption doesn't count. Even if Mary's geneology were acceptable, it goes through Jehoiakim whose descendants were cursed never to sit on the throne of Israel.

164. Isaiah 7:14...To be born of a virgin...Luke 1:35

This is a Greek mistranslation. The Hebrew word is 'almah' meaning a young woman. G-d is promising to the king of Israel that a son will be born who will help Israel aginst the Syrians. Since JC was born hundreds of years later, of what comfort would that have been to him.

Anyways, I can't go through all 365 but all of these have no connection to JC and are taken out of context. They are all worthless and as I said before 365 X 0 = 0.

I direct you all to or

The Frank Family said...

I'll only answer to what you wrote to me:

God never appeared in front of millions of people at Sinai as there weren't millions of Jews in existence at the time.

You have continually wrote lies about Jesus by claiming that he only did miracles in private. Jesus was God and so everywhere that Jesus went and proclaimed anything the people were being taught by God.

God's warning here was about someone teacher another god which Jesus never did. Jesus taught only of his Father the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

None of the verses you gave have anything to do with the oral Torah.
Deuteronomy 12:21 "If the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to put His name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee". The laws of kosher slaughter are extremely complex and they are found nowhere in the Torah.
The words "which the Lord hath given thee" refer to the to the flock. The words as I have commanded thee" refer to that being what God told them to do. Nowhere is there a need for complex laws of Kosher slaughter here. That is exactly what Jesus condemned the pharisees and sadducees for was adding to the Law laws that were made by man.

You'll have to do a lot better than verses taken out of context and lies about Jesus to support the Torah as the only Word from God. You condemn the New Testament for being written 100 years after Christ while the oral Torah was written down in the 5th century and has continually been changed up until the present day. The Thirteen Principles that you speak of weren't even given until the 12th century and were the opinion of man and had notthing to do with divine revelation at all. As a matter of fact, they weren't even given in Hebrew but rather in Arabic. Blind faith?

Bar Kochba said...

Are you denying the Torah? The Torah states that 600 000 men left Egypt. They all had a wife (and in some cases maybe more) and many children. Exodus says that the Children of Israel "were fruitful, and propagated, and mutiplied and were mighty (in numbers) and were many many, and the land was filled with them". This constitutes millions of people.
Your logic is circular. JC is G-d because JC said so and since he is G-d it must be true. Still, there was no singular event that would make it 100% clear that JC was G-d like there was at Sinai. In fact, JC's kingship is disqualified by the Torah.
The Torah is rather cryptic and needs to be explained. You are right when you say that the Torah was only written down a long time after Moses (I'm not sure about the date. Google 'Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi') becuase it was forbidden to write it down. Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi only did so when there was a fear that the Jews would forget the law because of Roman persecution.
When the Bible tells us (Lev. 20:14) to take together four species on the first day of Succos, which four species are meant, and what are we supposed to do with them?
The prohibition of Chelev (fat) (Lev. 7:24) leaves us uninformed as to which fat is included in the category of Chelev, and which are Shumin (fat) and therefore permitted.
Which blood is forbidden, (Lev. 7:26) and how do we purge the meat of it?
What are Totaphot? (Ex. 13:16) If that means Tefillin, what exactly are Tefillin? How are they made, and how are they "bound as a sign upon your hand?"
Which work is forbidden on the Sabbath, and which is permitted?

I rely on Mainmonides because he was one of the greatest codifiers of Jewish laws. It is that that 'from Moses (the lawgiver) until Moses (Mainmonides), there was none like Moses'. His 13 princples are not inventions but are based on the Torah and accepted by Jews universally as the basis of Judaism. There is a reliance on sages for interpreting the law in Exod
18:36 and in Deut 17:8-3.
There are mnay Biblical examples of the authroty of the Rabbis. Zacharia 7:2 and 8:13 refer to the Rabbinically enacted fasts to
commemorate the fall of the first Temple. Nechemia 13 notes the Rabbinic prohibition against buying or selling things on the Sabbath. The book of Ruth only works with the Oral Torah that limits the prohibition of Deut 23:3 to remarrying Moabite men. Otherwise, how could Boaz marry Ruth -- a Moabite convert. Ruth also relies on Oral Torah laws on kinsman redeemers and the conversion ritual.

The Frank Family said...

Alas, BK, you have finally taught me something. Thank you for at long last pointing me to the truth. I never realized that there were over 600,000 people that left Egypt. You are correct about there being millions of people then.

nanc said...

b.k. - do you also study the o.t. prophets - isaiah? jeremiah? daniel?

i'm curious as to where the prophets stand in modern judaism.

i do know that as far as judaism is concerned - G-d no longer spoke to the prophets after malachi. am i in err?

WomanHonorThyself said...

I have one word BK: Amen! and may God bless u my friend!
Yasher Koach!

Bar Kochba said...

Nanc: The books of the prophets, along with the 5 books of Moses and the "Writings", books by Solomon, Esther, Song of Songs... make up the Ta"NaKh, the Jewish Bible.
You are correct that Malachi was the last prophet.
Just as a side note, every week, a portion from the prophets is read after the Torah which corresponds to the weekly portion. The Torah is divided into 52 portions which are read every Saturday. This week's portion is Lech Lecha which is from Genesis 12 until the end of Chapter 17. (Verses and Chapters are a Christian division which the Jews adopted). The reading from the Prophets, the Haftorah is Isaiah 40-41. This custom of reading from the prophets goes back to the time of the second Temple under the reign of the Graeco-Syrian king Antiochus Ephiphanes who forbade public readings of the Torah. The Jews, to quench their spiritual thrist, called up 7 people to read from the prophets. When this ban was lifted, the custom was retained and now 1 person reads the Haftorah after the Torah portion.

Karen said...

Quite a spirited discourse you have here! Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. You are welcome any time.

Joe Gringo said...

Fascinating, although I do beievle it was inappropriate when you say ......"I took a look at some of the "prophecies" that JC fulfilled and these are garbage and taken out of context".

I was baptized Methodist and am currently in the RCIA program at our Catholic church on my qwest for conversion to Catholicism, I hope to join in on future debates here as my faith deepens.

PS- If you are truly in High School, God bless you, you are one sharp young man.

Renegade Eye said...

The important point is translating religion into politics, when unlike in Arab countries, the population is secular, and the political leaders practice political economy?

Bar Kochba said...

Joe Gringo: I'm sorry if I may have offended you but most of those points have nothing to do with the identity of the messiah and have no value for this argument. In think that the onus is on Christians to prove that JC was the Son of G-d rather than for Jews to disprove it since, going through the Torah, there is no hint that he would come or that he is even necessary since the Torah provides all of the tools for salvation and godliess.

Renegade Eye: I'm not sure of your point. This is one of my few non-political posts.

The Frank Family said...

renegade eye -- The only difference between secular and sacred is that the secular doesn't know yet that it is sacred.

Phil Sumpter said...

Thanks for your response BK. I wasn't trying to argue for the superiority of the New Testament (why the "speech marks", by the way?) or of Jesus' work. I was just saying that the Jewish scriptures are just as authoritative for Christians as they are for Jews. As a result, every time you praise these scriptures (whether understood as 'Tanakh' or 'Old Testament', the content is the same) you are doing, not only Jews, but also Christians a service. We too rejoice when the Moses and the Prophets are shown to be what they are: the word of God.

By the way, the scholars you draw on to historically deconstruct the New Testament use the same tools and assumptions to deconstruct the Old. That, then, would undermine your argument that the Torah is more authentic because of Moses and the Sinai event: very few historical-critics actually believe such a thing happened. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Be aware of methodological consistency!

nanc said...

when you get to isaiah 53 - who do you feel "was pierced for our transgressions"? is that future in judaism?

does this mean the Messiah is yet to come and be pierced?

Bar Kochba said...

Isaiah 53 and the "Suffering Servant" is one of the most misunderstood chapters in the entire Scriptures. Christians mistake the "Suffering Servant" to refer to their messiah but it really refers to Israel. When you look at history, you see that the suffering of JC really pales in comparison to the rivers of Jewish blood, often shed in his name. (Just think Crusades, pogroms, Inquisitions...)
I'll post an article by Jews for Judaism that explains the true understanding of Isaiah 55.

Before engaging in an examination of Isaiah 53 itself, some preliminary issues must be considered. First is the issue of circular reasoning. Even if we interpret the chapter as the Christians do (forgetting for a minute the mistranslations and distortions of context which will be noted below), the most that could be said is this: Isaiah 53 is about someone who dies for the sins of others. People may have seen Jesus die, but did anyone see him die as an atonement for the sins of others? Of course not; this is simply the meaning which the New Testament gives to his death. Only if you already accept the New Testament teaching that his death had a non-visible, spiritual significance can you than go back to Isaiah and say, "see - the Prophet predicted what I already believe." Isaiah 53, then, is in reality no "proof" at all, but rather a contrived confirmation for someone who has already chosen Christianity.

Second (and consistent with all Jewish teaching at the time), Jesus' own disciples didn't view Isaiah 53 as a messianic prophecy. For example, after Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah (Matt. 16:16), he is informed that Jesus will be killed (Matt. 16:21). His response: "God forbid it, lord! This shall never happen to you" (Matt. 16:22). See, also, Mk. 9:31-32; Mk. 16:10-11; Jn. 20:9. Even Jesus didn't see Isaiah 53 as crucial to his messianic claims - why else did he call the Jews children of the devil for not believing in him before the alleged resurrection (Jn. 8:39-47)? And why did he later request that God "remove this cup from me" (Mk. 14:36) - didn't he know that a "removal of the cup" would violate the gentile understanding of Isaiah 53?

And third, even if we accept the gentile Christian interpretation of Isaiah 53, where is it indicated (either in Isaiah 53 or anywhere else in our Jewish Scriptures) that you must believe in this "Messiah" to get the benefits?

Since any portion of Scripture is only understood properly when viewed in the context of God's revelation as a whole, some additional study will be helpful before you "tackle" Isaiah 53.

Look at the setting in which Isaiah 53 occurs. Earlier on in Isaiah, God had predicted exile and calamity for the Jewish people. Chapter 53, however, occurs in the midst of Isaiah's "Messages of Consolation", which tell of the restoration of Israel to a position of prominence and a vindication of their status as God's chosen people. In chapter 52, for example, Israel is described as "oppressed without cause" (v.4) and "taken away" (v.5), yet God promises a brighter future ahead, one in which Israel will again prosper and be redeemed in the sight of all the nations (v.1-3, 8-12).

Chapter 54 further elaborates upon the redemption which awaits the nation of Israel. Following immediately after chapter 53's promise of a reward for God's servant in return for all of its suffering (53:10-12), chapter 54 describes an unequivocally joyous fate for the Jewish people. Speaking clearly of the Jewish people and their exalted status (even according to all Christian commentaries), chapter 54 ends as follows: "`This is the heritage of the servants of the L-rd and their vindication is from Me,' declares the L-rd."

In the original Hebrew texts, there are no chapter divisions, and Jew and Christian alike agree that chapter 53 is actually a continuation of the prophecy which begins at 52:13. Accordingly, our analysis must begin at that verse.

52:13 "Behold, My servant will prosper." Israel in the singular is called God's servant throughout Isaiah, both explicitly (Isa. 41:8-9; 44:1-2; 45:4; 48:20; 49:3) and implicitly (Isa. 42:19-20; 43:10) - the Messiah is not. Other references to Israel as God's servant include Jer. 30:10 (note that in Jer. 30:17, the servant Israel is regarded by the nations as an outcast, forsaken by God, as in Isa. 53:4); Jer. 46:27-28; Ps. 136:22; Lk. 1:54. ALSO: Given the Christian view that Jesus is God, is God His own servant?

52:15 - 53:1 "So shall he (the servant) startle many nations, the kings will stand speechless; For that which had not been told them they shall see and that which they had not heard shall they ponder. Who would believe what we have heard?" Quite clearly, the nations and their kings will be amazed at what happens to the "servant of the L-rd," and they will say "who would believe what we have heard?". 52:15 tells us explicitly that it is the nations of the world, the gentiles, who are doing the talking in Isaiah 53. See, also, Micah 7:12-17, which speaks of the nations' astonishment when the Jewish people again blossom in the Messianic age.

53:1 "And to whom has the arm of the L-rd been revealed?" In Isaiah, and throughout our Scriptures, God's "arm" refers to the physical redemption of the Jewish people from the oppression of other nations (see, e.g., Isa. 52:8-12; Isa. 63:12; Deut. 4:34; Deut. 7:19; Ps. 44:3).

53:3 "Despised and rejected of men." While this is clearly applicable to Israel (see Isa. 60:15; Ps. 44:13-14), it cannot be reconciled with the New Testament account of Jesus, a man who was supposedly "praised by all" (Lk. 4:14-15) and followed by multitudes (Matt. 4:25), who would later acclaim him as a prophet upon his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:9-11). Even as he was taken to be crucified, a multitude bemoaned his fate (Lk. 23:27). Jesus had to be taken by stealth, as the rulers feared "a riot of the people" (Mk. 14:1-2).

53:3 "A man of pains and acquainted with disease." Israel's adversities are frequently likened to sickness - see, e.g., Isa. 1:5-6; Jer. 10:19; Jer 30:12.

53:4 "Surely our diseases he carried and our pains he bore." In Matt. 8:17, this is correctly translated, and said to be literally (not spiritually) fulfilled in Jesus' healing of the sick, a reading inconsistent with the Christian mistranslation of 53:4 itself.

53:4 "Yet we ourselves esteemed him stricken, smitten of G- D and afflicted." See Jer. 30:17 - of God's servant Israel (30:10), it is said by the nations, "It is Zion; no one cares for her."

53:5 "But he was wounded from (NOTE: not for) our transgressions, he was crushed from (AGAIN: not for) our iniquities." Whereas the nations had thought the Servant (Israel) was undergoing Divine retribution for its sins (53:4), they now realize that the Servant's sufferings stemmed from their actions and sinfulness. This theme is further developed throughout our Jewish Scriptures - see, e.g., Jer. 50:7; Jer. 10:25. ALSO: Note that the Messiah "shall not fail nor be crushed till he has set the right in the earth" (Isa. 42:4).

53:7 "He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open his mouth." Note that in the prior chapter (Isa. 52), Israel is said to have been oppressed and taken away without cause (52:4-5). A similar theme is developed in Psalm 44, wherein King David speaks of Israel's faithfulness even in the face of gentile oppression (44:17- 18) and describes Israel as "sheep to be slaughtered" in the midst of the unfaithful gentile nations (44:22,11).

Regarding the claim that Jesus "did not open his mouth" when faced with oppression and affliction, see Matt. 27:46, Jn. 18:23, 36-37.

53:8 "From dominion and judgment he was taken away." Note the correct translation of the Hebrew. The Christians are forced to mistranslate, since - by Jesus' own testimony - he never had any rights to rulership or judgment, at least not on the "first coming." See, e.g., Jn. 3:17; Jn. 8:15; Jn. 12:47; Jn. 18:36.

53:8 "He was cut off out of the land of the living." Israel is described as "cut off" in Ez 37:11.

53:8 "From my peoples' sins, there was injury to them."Here the Prophet makes absolutely clear, to anyone familiar with Biblical Hebrew, that the oppressed Servant is a collective Servant, not a single individual. The Hebrew word "lamoh - (lamed-mem-vav) ", when used in our Scriptures, always means "to them" never "to him" and may be found, for example, in Psalm 99:7 - "They kept his testimonies, and the statute that He gave to them."

53:9 "His grave was assigned with wicked men." See Ez. 37:11-14, wherein Israel is described as "cut off" and God promises to open its "graves" and bring Israel back into its own land. Other examples of figurative deaths include Ex. 10:17; 2 Sam. 9:8; 2 Sam. 16:9.

53:9 "And with the rich in his deaths." Perhaps King James should have changed the original Hebrew, which the plural "deaths" makes clear that we are dealing with a collective Servant, i.e., Israel, which will "come to life" when the exile ends (Ez. 37:14).

53:9 "He had done no violence." See Matt. 21:12; Mk. 11:15-16; Lk. 19:45; Lk. 19:27; Matt. 10:34 and Lk. 12:51; then judge for yourself whether this passage is truly consistent with the New Testament account of Jesus.

53:10 "He shall see his seed." The Hebrew word for "seed", used in this verse, always refers to physical descendants in our Jewish Scriptures. See, e.g., Gen. 12:7; Gen. 15:13; Gen. 46:6; Ex. 28:43. A different word, generally translated as "sons", is used to refer to spiritual descendants (see Deut. 14:1, e.g.).

53:10 "He will prolong his days." Not only did Jesus die young, but how could the days be prolonged of someone who is alleged to be God?

53:11 "With his knowledge the righteous one, my Servant, will cause many to be just." Note again the correct translation: the Servant will cause many to be just, he will not "justify the many." The Jewish mission is to serve as a "light to the nations" which will ultimately lead the world to a knowledge of the one true God, this both by example (Deut. 4:5-8; Zech. 8:23) and by instructing the nations in God's Law (Isa. 2:3-4; Micah 4:2-3).

53:12 "Therefore, I will divide a portion to him with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty." If Jesus is God, does the idea of reward have any meaning? Is it not rather the Jewish people - who righteously bore the sins of the world and yet remained faithful to God (Ps. 44) - who will be rewarded, and this in the manner described more fully in Isaiah chapters 52 and 54?

The Frank Family said...

I am made speechless by the lengths you would go through to discredit Jesus.. To believe the translation and explanation that you have put forth here one would need to be completely disconnected from all rational thought.

Godefroi said...


Godefroi said...


Anyway, a couple thoughts since I don't have time to delve deeply into your exegesis of Isaiah:

First, the word `almah is used ONLY in the context a young girl who has never been married - hence understood to be a virgin. Also, why would Isaiah even mention that a non-virginal woman would conceive and give happened every day.

Secondly, each of Maimonides confessions falls down on the fourth word. Neither he, nor you, nor I, was or is capable of perfection.

Third, God did not appear to Moses in front of millions. His face-to-face meeting was absolutely private. The Spirit of God did appear with Yehoshua in public at His baptism.

Fourth, Yehoshua did not preach a new religion, but rather he preached the Kingdom of God. His miracles were perfectly in line with the Torah.

Finally, the preponderance of scholars on this issue have determined that the Gospels were all written in the first century, by the said apostles/disciples (with the possible exception of Mark). They are not late fabrications. Justin Martyr may not have had the gospels in his hands, but he knew of Marcion, who did.

Now, For Zion's Sake:
And Jehovah from Zion doth roar, And from Jerusalem giveth forth His voice, And shaken have the heavens and earth, And Jehovah [is] a refuge to his people, And a stronghold to sons of Israel

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.


nanc said...

thank you for answering me in such a timely manner, b.k. - i have printed it out and will study your concepts.


Mad Zionist said...

Lech lecha is my son's birthday parsha, and my personal favorite of all our readings. Last year at this time was the shalom zachor, (and many, many lchaims flowed!) so he is now officially one year old according to the Hebrew calandar. Want to know why I'm the Mad Zionist? Read lech lecha and you'll understand that our covenant to the land of Israel is as sacred as our covenant for circumcision.

Eyes said...

I would say the only 'fly in the ointment' is this:

Exodus 32:1 "When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him."

If 600,000 people were witnesses, why would they do that?

Eyes said...

Which isn't to say it didn't happen, we Christians believe Moses did in fact go up the mountain and come down with the 10 Commandments, etc.. but we don't believe there were 600,000 direct witnesses. They heard it from Moses. That being said, there's another interesting passage about witnesses that I ran across a while back.. let me see if I can find it..

Eyes said...

Yes, here it is:

Ex 24:9-11

" 9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank."

It would appear 74 individuals actually saw God at this point.

Joe Gringo said...

BK, you got under my skin a bit ;-)

Perhaps rather than saying that miracles “prove” the divinity of Christ, we could say that miracles invite belief in Christ. They are signs that point to the divinity of Christ.

Peter Kreeft, a Catholic philosopher, writes in the Handbook of Christian Apologetics: “Scattered generously throughout the myths of the ancient world is the strange story of a god who came down from heaven. Some tell of a god who died and rose for the life of a man. Just as the Garden of Eden story and the Noah’s flood story appear in many different cultures, something like the Jesus story does too. For some strange reason, many people think that this fact-that there are many mythic parallels and foreshadowings of the Christian story-points to the falsehood of the Christian story. Actually, the more witnesses tell a similar story, the more likely it is to be true. The more foreshadowings we find for an event, the more likely it is that the event will happen (p. 153).”

“If the divine Jesus of the Gospels is a myth, who invented it? Whether it was his first disciples or some later generations, no possible motive can account for this invention. For until the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313, Christians were subject to persecutions, often tortured and martyred, and hated and oppressed for their beliefs. No one invents a practical joke in order to be crucified, stoned or beheaded (p.164).”

Perhaps the greatest evidence, the greatest miracle if you will, is the spread of Christianity to every corner of the planet against all odds.

Why should we believe that Jesus is Risen and that He is God? The testimony of the apostles is credible. The strong conviction of the early Church, so bravely preached, stands out as a true miracle. From where would the apostles have drawn their faith if not from the revelation of God? How else can we explain that a group of pious Jews became, so suddenly, so unanimously, and so unshakably convinced of a doctrine that to Jewish ears sounds like blasphemy? It would be quite impossible to conceive that they would have exalted a mere man, one whom they had known in the flesh, to divine status.

One scholar has written: “In many religions of the empire it was possible to deify a private citizen. But in at least one nation it was impossible, and that was among the Jews. They adored Yahweh, the one God, the transcendent…, whose image they did not portray, whose name they did not pronounce, who was separated from every human creation… To associate with Yahweh any kind of man at all would have been a sacrilege and a supreme abomination.” (Apologetics and the Biblical Christ, Avery Dulles)

In preaching the divinity of Christ, then, the apostles are teaching with full conviction a belief that they could not conceivably have invented. This striking fact suggests that their views had been revolutionized by an actual revelation. When we look more closely at the doctrine itself, this hypothesis is magnificently confirmed. The Incarnation and Divinity of Christ appears completely worthy of God. It expresses to us, as nothing else could, the power and infinity of divine love. It is the supreme manifestation of God’s interest in the world that he has created.

The testimony of the New Testament is such that men and women in search for religious truth can find it satisfying. The intrinsic beauty of the message, its coherence, and its fulfillment of humanity’s religious needs make it worthy of consideration as a revelation from God. The uniqueness of the message, the spiritual power it has given to so many generations, give us reason to accept this testimony as true.

The credibility of the message of the early Church is strengthened in the living reality of Church throughout history: its marvelous spread, its stability through the centuries, its constant good works, its ability to change lives and the great saints produced in every generation.

The conviction that Christ is Risen is not something we are forced to accept on blind faith. Our faith is a leap, but it is not a leap into the dark. Rather than being blind, our faith gives us true sight. They say that seeing is believing, but for the Christian, believing is seeing. When we believe, we see what is true. We see the Risen Christ. We see God.

Bar Kochba said...

Joe Gringo: Nobody said that the Apostles didn't believe in JC. The fact that they died for Christianity doesn't prove anything except that they believed that it is true. People have died for paganism, Islam, Communism... true believers. They can't all be right.
Even if Jesus arose from the dead, that doesn't prove him to be divine. Elijah and Elisha both resurrected children and Ezekiel resurrected the valley of dry bones. None of the people who came back to life are divine.

"How else can we explain that a group of pious Jews became, so suddenly, so unanimously, and so unshakably convinced of a doctrine that to Jewish ears sounds like blasphemy?"
Many Russian Jews, early pioneer founders of Israel, left their Judaism in the shtetl and became devotedly socialists and communists. Does this prove that communism is divine or right? If we're going to talk about martyrdom, Jews rank first, often at the hands of the followers of the 'Prince of Peace'. As an Ashkenazi (European) Jews, my ancestors chose death over baptism during the Crusades. Being part Sephardic (Spanish) my family left Spain and moved to Israel rather than to forsake the religion of the Patriarchs.
You can believe whatever you want but Christianity has no basis in the Torah. JC is disqualified form being messiah and didn't fulfill any of its requirements.

The Frank Family said...

"Even if Jesus arose from the dead, that doesn't prove him to be divine. Elijah and Elisha both resurrected children and Ezekiel resurrected the valley of dry bones. None of the people who came back to life are divine."

Elijah, Elisha, and Ezekiel did these things through the power of God Almighty. They did not raise themselves back from the dead. Jesus took up his own life because he is God.

Bar Kochba said...

G-d is not a man. We're going in circles here. Believe whatever you want but don't use my holy scriptures to support idolatry,

The Frank Family said...

I don't "use" scriptures for anything. I read them and take what they say as the Word of God. You, on the other hand, ignore the phrases that you don't like and call them metaphor. No scripture teaches idolatry to be acceptable. I worship the one true living God.

Bar Kochba said...

Jews were here first. As a Christian, the onus is on you to prove to me that JC was divine. I've already said that he fulfilled none of the requirements of the messiah and is even disqualified, in this thread, at Karin's and at Deborah's. Your belief is based on emotions and not Torah-knowledge. I cannot argue with emotions. Just know that belief is not a substitute for critical thought.

The Frank Family said...

"Just know that belief is not a substitute for critical thought."

It's a good thing that Abraham did not share this same opinion. This my friend is the heart of the problem. The truth of the matter is that critical thought is no substitute for belief. Without belief we can never hope to please God.

Bar Kochba said...

Belief is important. 'And now Israel, what does Hashem your G-d ask from you but that you revere Hashem your G-d.' But belief must be based on the Torah's commandments and precepts, something that Christianity is not based upon.

The Frank Family said...

Abraham when he was called had neither the Torah nor its precepts and commandments. Abraham believed God and it was creditted to him as righteousness. Abraham had great faith and great belief that had only to do with God and nothing t do with critical thinking. God spoke and he believed without any proof except his own relationship with God. Which is greater: belief in God Almighty and his Word or precepts and commandments that are not taken straight from the Torah but rather decided by a rabbis opinion of what the Torah meant?

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