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Isaiah 7:14, part 2 (finally!)

January 4, 2010

Please Note:  This post is part of a counter-missionary textbook written by Penina Taylor and is copyrighted material.  No part of this passage may be copied or reproduced in any way, in whole or in part, without the express permission of the author.

The following is a continuation from the post titled, “Isaiah 7 – The Virgin Birth, part 1”

Translation

Now that we’ve seen that based on an honest look at the context of the passage, Isaiah 7:14 is not a messianic prophecy, let’s look at the translation problems. Isaiah 7:14 reads in the Hebrew:

לכן יתן ה’ הוא לכם אות הנה העלמה הרה וילדת בן וקראת שׁמו עמנו אל

For approximately two thousand years, Christianity has maintained that the Hebrew word, עלמה (almah) can only mean a virgin.  Matthew 1:22-23 translates  עלמה in Isaiah 7:14 as a virgin.

It is interesting to note that this passage is the only proof text provided by the Christian bible from the Hebrew Scriptures to support the concept of the virgin birth.  This is a significant issue because if the Hebrew word עלמה does not actually mean virgin, then the New Testament is misquoting the prophet Isaiah and a core doctrine of Christianity collapses.

The word עלמה has a masculine version of the word, עלם.  Nowhere in the Christian bible is it translated as a male virgin, it is always translated as a young man.  This is because the words עלמה

and עלם have nothing to do with whether or not one is a virgin, it has to do with age only.  Just as the word (na’arah)  נער only refers to a young woman (or man); specifically, a teenager.

A standard missionary argument is to claim that Jews changed the definition of the word עלמה after Jesus’ death to try to disprove his virgin birth.  They claim that this is proven by the “fact” that the Septuagint translates עלמה in Isaiah 7:14 as “parthenos” which supposedly can only mean virgin in Greek.  They claim that the translators of the Septuagint were Jewish scholars who knew what they were doing and knew that עלמה meant virgin.

There are several problems with this argument.  First of all, the Septuagint was not translated by Hebrew scholars; only the first five books – the Torah – were.  In addition to the fact that the Septuagint was translated by a variety of people, there is no solid proof that the book of Isaiah which is currently part of the Septuagint was even translated before the time of Jesus.  In addition, a careful examination of the Septuagint shows at least one place where the word “parthenos” cannot refer to a virgin.  See Genesis 34:1-7.

Below is an exact copy of the text of the Introduction to the Hendrickson version of the Septuagint.  Hendrickson is a Christian publishing house.


INTRODUCTION.

AN HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF THE SEPTUAGINT VERSION.

__________________________________

The earliest version of the Old Testament Scriptures which is extant, or of which we possess any certain knowledge, is the translation executed at Alexandria in the third century before the Christian era:  this version has been so habitually known by the name of the SEPTUAGINT, that the attempt of some learned men in modern times to introduce the designation of the Alexandrian version (as more correct) has been far from successful.

The history of the origin of this translation was embellished with various fables at so early a period, that it has been a work of patient critical research in later times to bring into plain light the facts which may be regarded as well authenticated.

A writer, who calls himself Aristeas, says that when Ptolemy Philadelphus was engaged in the formation of the Alexandrian Library, he was advised by Demetrius Phalereus to procure a translation of the sacred books of the Jews.  The king accordingly, as a preliminary, purchased the freedom of more than one hundred thousand Jewish captives, and he then sent a deputation, of which Aristeas himself was one, to Eleazar the high-priest to request a copy of the Jewish Law and seventy-two interpreters, six out of each tribe.  To this the priest is represented to have agreed; and after the arrival of the translators and their magnificent reception by the king, they are said to have been conducted to an island by Demetrius, who wrote down the renderings on which they agreed by mutual conference; and thus the work is stated to have been completed in seventy-two days.  The translators are then said to have received from the king most abundant rewards; and the Jews are stated to have asked permission to take copies of the version.

Other additions were subsequently made to this story:  some said that each translator was shut into a separate cell, and that all by divine inspiration made their versions word for word alike; others said that there were two in each cell, accompanied by an amanuensis; but at all events miracle and direct inspiration were supposed to be connected with the translation:  hence we cannot wonder that the authority attached to this version in the minds of those who believed these stories was almost unbounded.

The variety of the translators is proved by the unequal character of the version:  some books show that the translators were by no means competent to the task, while others, on the contrary, exhibit on the whole a careful translation.  The Pentateuch is considered to be the part the best executed, while the book of Isaiah appears to be the very worst.

This is a word-for-word reformatted reproduction of the introduction of Hendrickson’s version of the Septuagint.


Septuagint: Genesis Chapter 34:1-7

1                     ἐξῆλθεν δὲ Δινα ἡ θυγάτηρ Λειας ἣν ἔτεκεν τῷ Ιακωβ καταμαθεῖν τὰς θυγατέρας

2                      τῶν ἐγχωρίων.  καὶ εἶδεν αὐτὴν Συχεμ ὁ υἱὸς Εμμωρ ὁ Χορραῖος ὁ ἄρχων τῆς

3                      γῆς καὶ λαβὼν αὐτὴν ἐκοιμήθη μετ᾽ αὐτῆς καὶ ἐταπείνωσεν αὐτήν. καὶ προσέσχεν τῇ ψυχῇ Δινας τῆς θυγατρὸς Ιακωβ καὶ ἠγάπησεν τὴν παρθένον καὶ

4                     ἐλάλησεν κατὰ τὴν διάνοιαν τῆς παρθένου αὐτῇ. εἶπεν δὲ Συχεμ πρὸς Εμμωρ τὸν

5                     πατέρα αὐτοῦ λέγων λαβέ μοι τὴν παιδίσκην ταύτην εἰς γυναῖκα. Ιακωβ δὲ ἤκουσεν ὅτι ἐμίανεν ὁ υἱὸς Εμμωρ Διναν τὴν θυγατέρα αὐτοῦ οἱ δὲ υἱοὶ αὐτοῦ ἦσαν μετὰ τῶν κτηνῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ πεδίῳ παρεσιώπησεν δὲ Ιακωβ ἕως τοῦ

6                     ἐλθεῖν αὐτούς. ἐξῆλθεν δὲ Εμμωρ ὁ πατὴρ Συχεμ πρὸς Ιακωβ λαλῆσαι αὐτῷ.

7                     οἱ δὲ υἱοὶ Ιακωβ ἦλθον ἐκ τοῦ πεδίου ὡς δὲ ἤκουσαν κατενύχθησαν οἱ ἄνδρες καὶ λυπηρὸν ἦν αὐτοῖς σφόδρα ὅτι ἄσχημον ἐποίησεν ἐν Ισραηλ κοιμηθεὶς μετὰ τῆς θυγατρὸς Ιακωβ καὶ οὐχ οὕτως ἔσται.

GENESIS 34:1-7

1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.

2      When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force.

3      He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her.

4      So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young girl for a wife.”

5      Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in.

6      Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him.

7      Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.

Clearly, after Dina had been raped by Shechem, she was no longer a virgin.  The word in verse four which is translated in the Septuagint as “parthenos” and in English as “young girl” is the word  ילדה which simply indicates that she was young. And yet, the Septuagint translates the word as “parthenos” indicating that the word “parthenos” does not always and exclusively mean virgin.  Therefore, one cannot assert that the translators of the Septuagint, no matter who they may be, had any understanding that is different from that which we have today.

Whereas the word עלמה refers only to a girl’s age, regardless of sexual status, there is a word that refers only to the sexual status of a woman, regardless of her age.  That is the word בתולה (betulah).  The word בתולה is used in the following verses – Deuteronomy 22:14, Isaiah 62:5, 1 Kings 1:2 and Judges 11:38.  Additionally, the prophet Isaiah himself uses the word בתולה five times throughout the book of Isaiah (23:4, 23:12, 37:22, 47:1 and 62:5 as stated above), when he is specifically referring to a virgin.  Had the prophet Isaiah not used the word בתולה (betulah), one would be left to speculate what he meant in verse 14, but given that he did use the word בתולה (betulah), it is clear that his use of the word עלמה (almah) here did not mean virgin.

It is significant that while the word עלמה has a masculine form – עלמ, the word בתולה has no such male form.  This is because when a woman goes from being a virgin to not being a virgin, there is a physical change that takes place – one which can be verified by a Doctor.  This is not the case with a man.  When a man is intimate with a woman, nothing physically changes and a Doctor cannot tell through a physical examination whether or not he is, indeed, a virgin.

We see this fact born out in a passage from the book of proverbs.

Mishlei (Proverbs) 30:18-19

(18)  There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yes, four which I do not understand:

(19)  The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man with a maiden.

The passage above describes four things which, when they are finished, leave no trace.

  1. The way of an eagle in the air – when an eagle flies through the air, it leaves no trace that it had ever been there.  You cannot look in the sky and see where the eagle was.
  2. The way of a serpent on a rock – unlike a serpent in the sand or a slug on a rock, when a serpent travels on a rock, it too, leave no trace of its presence.
  3. The way of a ship in the midst of the sea – while a ship does create a wake while it is travelling, once it has left the area, there is no evidence that it was ever there.
  4. The way of a man with a maiden – the Hebrew word used here is עלמה (almah), and it is clearly not referring to a virgin.  For when a man has had his way with a virgin, he leaves permanent evidence of his act – she is forever changed physically.  However, when a man and a woman are intimate and the woman is not a virgin, there is no change and no evidence that he has been there.

Moving on to other translation issues in Isaiah 7:14, we find that the verse reads:

Behold the young pregnant woman will give birth to a son.

לכן יתן ה’ הוא לכם אות הנה העלמה הרה וילדת בן וקראת שׁמו עמנו אל

There are two problems with the Christian translation of the text here.  First of all, when we examine the text we find that there is a ה (hey) in front of the word עלמה (almah), which tells us that the woman in the verse is a specific woman, most likely known to both the prophet and the king.  In addition, it says, הרה (hara) – is pregnant, not will conceive as it is translated in the Christian translations.  Clearly, the prophet is talking to the king about a specific woman, and he knows who she is (she is most likely in the room with them) and that she is already pregnant.  The last part of the verse reads:

And will give birth to a son and she will call his name Emanuel.

Note that it says that the woman (the boy’s mother) will call his name Emanuel.  This is a different meaning from the verse requoted in Matthew:

Matthew 1:23

(23)  “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which is translated, “God with us.”

It appears that Matthew misquotes the passage from Isaiah in order to avoid the obvious problem that Jesus was never called Emanuel by his mother as far as we know.

Isaiah’s prophecy to Ahaz in Isaiah 7:14-16 is fulfilled!

II Kings 15:29-30

In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured Ijon and Abel-beth-maacah and Janoah and Kedesh and Hazor and Gilead and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria.  And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and struck him and put him to death and became king in his place, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.

II Kings 16:5

Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to wage war; and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him.

In summary, we see that the entire virgin birth doctrine is based on a passage from Isaiah which must be both taken out of context and mistranslated in order to be used as a “proof” that Jesus was born of a virgin and is therefore divine; the child of a special birth, the messiah.  Read in context, with even the most basic understanding of Hebrew, one sees that this is a prophecy, but not a messianic one.  No, this is a short-term prophecy which was fulfilled within the lifetime of King Ahaz.

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Miracles

January 3, 2010

Christianity teaches, as supported by New Testament claims, that the way that we can know that Jesus is the messiah even though he has not fulfilled the messianic prophecies yet, is because when he was here he did many miracles that could only have been done by one who was divine or had received a special anointing by God to do them.

One problem with this idea is that all the claims as to the miracles that Jesus performed are documented solely in the New Testament.  There is no Jerusalem Post from the year 30 CE, there are no historical writings for us to consult, only the words of the New Testament.  Had the New Testament been a book written by historians as the events were unfolding, we might be inclined to take it at face value.  However, the New Testament was written by those who already believed that Jesus was the messiah; it was written not as a historical document, but rather, as a defense of their claims that he is the messiah.

While it is somewhat simple to show that the NT is not reliable as a historical document, this is not necessary since even if it could be proven to be 100% reliable and accurate that does not change the answer to the real question.  The question which must be asked in response to this claim is, “does the Jewish bible tell us that we be able to recognize the messiah because he will perform miracles?

Not only is there no evidence anywhere in the Jewish bible to support the claim that the messiah will perform miracles, we have very concrete examples in the Tanach of people performing miracles who were considered wicked.  The most famous example can be found in the Exodus story:

(Shemot) Exodus 7:8-22

(8)  Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,

(9)  “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.'”

(10)  So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent.

(11)  Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.

(12)  For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.

(13)  Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

(14)  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go.

(15)  “Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent.

(16)  “You shall say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now.”

(17)  ‘Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood.

(18)  “The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.”‘”

(19)  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'”

(20)  So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood.

(21)  The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt.

(22)  But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

As we see in the account of the Exodus from Egypt, when God brought Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh to request that the children of Israel be permitted to leave Egypt, Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate several of the “miracles” which Moses and Aaron performed to show Pharaoh that they were sent by God.  So clearly, at least some types of miracles can be performed by those who are not sent by God.

Shemot (Exodus) 8:5-7

(5)  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the streams and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.'”

(6)  So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

(7)  The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

It may also be interesting to note that while most missionaries will cite Jesus’ performance of miracles as proof that he is the messiah, the New Testament itself indicates that there could be false messiahs who present miracles in order to trick God’s people, but they are false.

Matthew 24:24

“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.

This being the case, miracles prove nothing, and the fact that the New Testament claims that Jesus did miracles prove nothing concerning Jesus’ role as messiah or his alleged divinity. But we don’t need the New Testament to tell us this, thousands of years before Jesus came on the scene, we were warned that there may come some teachers who would claim to be prophets and who would do miracles, whose ultimate goal would be to lead us to worship differently from what was handed down to us through Moses.

Shemot (Deuteronomy) 13:1-3

(1)  “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,

(2)  and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’

(3)  you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

One might wonder why an omnipotent God would even allow people to be able to prophecy and do miracles if they are not from God.  Well, the Torah gave us the answer before we even asked the question.  In verse 3 we are told that this is a test.  Tests, like all challenges, make us dig deep into the recesses of our mind and to call upon knowledge we already possess to rise to the challenge and make us stronger; whether physically, emotionally or spiritually.



December 29, 2009

Cognitive dissonance, arrogance or just plain fear?

December 3, 2009

I have recently become the target of a virulent messianic blog.  I suppose I should feel honored – the most recent attack came from none other than David Ortiz, the messianic Pastor in Ariel, Israel.  Pastor Ortiz segued into celebrity last year when an unbalanced, hate-filled Jewish man sent him a purim basket with a bomb inside.  Unfortunately, David was not home and his son Ami opened the package and was nearly killed.

Most of us couldn’t fathom that the crime could be perpetrated by a Jew.  After all, Pastor Ortiz had already made a name for himself among the Arabs, having done some missionary work around Ramallah.  According to some reports, he had a fatwa (death decree) on his head.  One small terrorist group even jumped on the opportunity and claimed responsibility for the bombing! And despite the rhetoric being circulated by the Messianics, those of us who oppose their message, mission and even very presence in Israel were appalled by the notion that a person would act on their beliefs in such a violent way.

Messianics around Israel used this as a huge PR opportunity to get the Israeli media, and the public at large, to see them as the underdog – the victims.  Not just in this one incident, which they certainly were, but in every aspect of daily life.  And with the help of Calev Myers, an anti-orthodox, anti-Jewish messianic lawyer, they embarked on a campaign to make sure that people saw what they did and believed as innocent expressions of love while those of us who teach that what they proffer is false are labled hate-mongerers.

I even asked the guy who runs the blog why it is that when Christians tell Jews that their faith is insufficient, and that they are going to burn in hell for all eternity, they are sharing their faith in love, but when Jews tell other Jews that Christianity is not the truth – well, that’s hate-speech.  Come on, folks, play fair!

What’s worse is that Christians (and Messianics – same thing) have such a hard time wrapping their brains around the idea that someone could be a real Christian and then realize it was all a lie.  Pastor Ortiz does just that when he implies that since I rejected Christianity, I must never really have been a Christian in the first place.  I don’t know whether to chalk this up to cognitive dissonance (that a Christian can’t possibly accept that a real Christian would ever reject Jesus) or arrogance, plain and simple.

The bottom line is that I was not one of those Christians who had a hard time with things in the bible – I believed it all with all my heart and soul – for 17 years!  My goal was always, as it still is, to serve God in truth.  If you had asked the people who knew me – my teachers at Bible College, my pastors, my friends, etc., no one would have said, “yeah, we always knew she’d turn away.”  I was firm in my faith, my belief in Jesus.  I was responsible for hundreds of people becoming believing Christians. As Christians are wont to say, I had a heart knowledge as well as a head knowledge.

My Spiritual journey has always been one of seeking truth and that brought me to Judaism. Pastor Ortiz may not like where my search brought me, but that’s because to him its unfathomable that a person could have a true faith in Christianity and come to a place of rejecting it.

Is it that the cognitive dissonance is too great for Pastor Ortiz, or is it something bigger?  Maybe he’s afraid that my gentle, loving, peaceful style of trying to bring lost Jews back to the true faith they were created to express just might work.  (and blows the messianics’ accusations of hate-mongering right out of the water) After all, Pastor Ortiz did say in his article, “Hearing her audio tapes, it is evident that she has integrated and adopted many of the techniques that she learned in the believing world. She is highly well  spoken and charismatic. She has learned “700 Club”type of techniques through testimonies – she still uses many believing phrases like “relationship with God”, knowing the Word, etc.

One last word Pastor Ortiz – the concept of a “relationship with God” originated with Judaism!  And I am not in bad company in speaking of it;  See – The Chofetz Chaim, The Ramchal, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Rebbetzin Heller (to name just a few).

It’s about Jesus, plain and simple…

October 25, 2009

There is a trial going on right now in Beersheva, Israel. The Hebrew-Christians who are suing the Chief Rabbi, Yehuda Deri, would like the world (especially the Christian world) to think that the lawsuit is about freedom of religion and equal treatment under the law, but nothing could be farther from the truth. According to a Hebrew-Christian blog post and its article which appears to be attributed to CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network), a thousand “ultra-Orthodox” protesters showed up on Christmas eve in 2005 at this innocent little messianic congregation in Beersheva and began to wreak mayhem and chaos, destroying everything in sight and beating people up. arad-out02

Much like the big fish stories my uncle used to tell, the event just seems to continue to grow with each re-telling. The first time I heard the story it was dozens of Chassidim, then it was hundreds and now it’s nearly a thousand. That’s not the only detail that seems to have become embellished over time, but I digress…

When first one comes across this story, one is inclined to gasp with horror at the audacity of these “ultra-Orthodox” protestors, supposedly driven by hatred – “what a chillul Hashem!” we shout in horror. Upon further investigation, however, one finds that the congregants bear an equal or perhaps even greater burden in the escalation of the events that day, and that the protestors only became violent when they were themselves attacked.

Howard-and-Randi-Bass

Howard and Randi Bass

At some point the police entered the scene and did what the Israeli police do – they took the situation into their own hands and decided to handle it their own way. Howard Bass, the congregation’s Pastor, claims that this is mistreatment of messianics. I have news for you Mr. Bass, this IS equal treatment, we’ve all felt that way – from my friend who was attacked by her landlord and then arrested because she tried to defend herself to the terror victim whose car was impounded as evidence in the crime and then charged for storage fees. This is not America, Mr. Bass, and things don’t always work the way Americans expect them to – welcome to Israel. You want equal treatment? You’ve already got it.

But since this post isn’t about bashing Israel or the Israeli police force who certainly have enough on their plate to warrant at least a drop of understanding, I’ll get to the point. Mr. Bass makes it sound like his lawsuit is about freedom of religion and equal treatment under the law. He even says so in the article: “We had a right to do what we were doing, which was to assemble together to worship our God, and what they were did was illegal,” Bass said.

But, as often the case, Mr. Bass unwittingly exposes the real motivation behind the lawsuit at the end of the article: “It’s not against Israel. It’s not against the Jewish people. It’s not to be taken by anybody to use it that way, but we do want the truth of Yeshua to be brought forward,” Bass said.

Pastor Bass is using this lawsuit, in keeping with everything he does to try to gain favor for his cause and ultimately to gain converts to his brand of Christianity. No, they’re not asking for equal treatment, they’re asking for special treatment and the lawsuit isn’t about freedom of religion or equal rights, it’s about spreading Christianity, plain and simple.

$$igns of the Times

October 6, 2009

On Sunday, October 4th, the International Conference Center in Jerusalem was filled with thousands of Christian Pilgrims, who, as part of their week-long “Feast of Tabernacles” celebration, observed the international “Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.”  During this observance, Rabbi Riskin, Chief Rabbi of the community of Efrat made the following statement:

“Why do I believe God is with us? I have witnessed a new Christianity – one that observes the Covenant between God and Israel – between God and the Jewish people. It is a Christianity that proudly says to us that ‘you are the root and we are the branch’…You stand with us, and for this we are eternally grateful.” http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/377811752.html

The problem is, and this has been pointed out numerous times to Rabbi Riskin, who either refuses to listen or just “doesn’t get it”, that he misunderstands exactly what the root/branch teaching is in Christianity.  The New Testament does NOT say that the Jews are the root and Christianity is the branch, it says that JESUS is the ROOT, Israel is the tree and cut-off branches and Christianity is the grafted in branches that replace the ones that were cut off.Tree_300

Here is the passage from the New Testament which makes reference to this concept:

Rom 11:16-24

(16)  If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

(17)  But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,

(18)  do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.

(19)  You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”

(20)  Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear;

(21)  for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

(22)  Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

(23)  And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

(24)  For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

Who does the NT say the “root” is?

Rom 15:12

(12)  And again, Isaiah says: “THERE SHALL BE A ROOT OF JESSE; AND HE WHO SHALL RISE TO REIGN OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM THE GENTILES SHALL HOPE.”

Rev 5:5

(5)  But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

Rev 22:16

(16)  “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

The signs of the times are much clearer than some would like to think and unfortunately, this author believes that the “signs” of the times are dollar signs.  The optimist in me would like to believe that the Rabbis of our community who are supporting Evangelical Christianity are just not seeing the hidden agenda behind their desire to become “bosom buddies” with the leadership of Israel, but I WAS an Evangelical for 17 years, and I know what they believe.  I also see that those Rabbis who support them, seem to receive a lot of attention and financial support for their communities and causes – could there be a connection?

No Form means No Form!

October 6, 2009

According to IsraelNN.com,  “The nascent Sanhedrin’s court for Noahides – Torah-believing non-Jews – held a ceremony this week in which four Gentiles declared their acceptance of the Seven Laws of Noah.”

The seven Laws of Noah are:

  1. Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God.
  2. Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder. (Genesis 9:6)
  3. Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.
  4. Prohibition of Sexual Promiscuity: You shall not commit any of a series of sexual prohibitions, which include adultery, incest, bestiality and male homosexual intercourse.
  5. Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God’s name.
  6. Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive. (Genesis 9:4)
  7. Requirement to have just Laws: You shall set up an effective judiciary to enforce the preceding six laws fairly.

The first law of Noah is against idolatry.  What is the primary definition of idolatry?  Well, according to Devarim 4:12 and following, it is worshipping a form of G-d.   In fact, we are told specifically in Devarim 4:12,

“Then the L-rd spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form–only a voice.”

But, G-d doesn’t leave us wondering WHY we never saw a form, He explains WHY:

“So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day Hashem spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth. “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which Hashem your G-d has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” (Devarim 4:15-19)

G-d makes it very clear that the reason He did not take on any form when He spoke to us from the mountain was that we might worship that form.

Worshipping a “form” of G-d…

Hmmm….sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Isn’t that EXACTLY what Christianity does?  In worshipping Jesus, Christians are worshipping a “form” of G-d, which is forbidden – its idolatry!

Therefore, it would stand to reason that a devoted and declared Christian cannot be considered a Ben/Bat Noach – a Noachide.  Yet, this week that’s exactly what the “Nascent Sanhedrin” did – they certified a born-again Christian as a Noahide, rendering the term virtually meaningless.

The new trend among Rabbis to accept Christians in Israel is creating an environment which is endangering Jewish souls.  Rabbis in this country and abroad must begin to stand up – against the temptations from money and other support – and draw some clear cut boundaries.  One cannot believe in Jesus and be “Jewish”, one cannot believe in Jesus and be a noahide, a believer in Jesus is a Christian and that is a choice made between them and their creator, but should not be supported by the Rabbinical leaders of our nation.