Monday 20 January 2014

Interesting Objections from the Rabbinic Camp

This article is looking into some general objections raised by Rabbinic Jews and I hope to address them to the best of my ability.
The first objections I shall address are the ones raised by umansky, who has recently followed what I hav been writing:

"Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). This obligates a person to marry and have children. Jesus remained single his entire life. He also encouraged others to disobey this commandment by recommending celibacy (Matthew 19:12). This is the first mitzvah mentioned in the Tanakh-given to humanity not just the Jewish people."

Jesus in Matthew 19 is speaking to the Pharisees on the issue of marriage, what it is and the subject of divorce. In verse 12, he is speaking about those who for the sake of focusing on the Kingdom of God, do not focus on Marriage but rather on giving the Gospel to the nations. While there is nothing wrong with marriage, those who do may face having to see their family persecuted or killed if they are Christians.

"Genesis 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”"

While marriage is something that God has blessed the human race with, this section speaks of filling the earth. I think with 7 billion people at the time this article was penned shows that the earth is quite full, even in the times of the TANAKH there were many nations after the time of Noah. This is not a command to be married, although marriage is part of being fruitful and multiply, considering fornication is out of the question. What do I mean? There is a command to marry and have kids, but because of the fact there are many on this planet after being fruitful, this command is not obligatory and marriage is an option. Considering the fact that in the time of Jesus you already had many on the earth, he is not violating this command by being celibate. The earth was already filled in his day. *

Jeremiah himself wasn't married, In fact God even told him NOT to waste his time marrying the daughters of Israel because the disaster that was approaching:

"16 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place.” 3 For this is what the Lord says about the sons and daughters born in this land and about the women who are their mothers and the men who are their fathers: 4 “They will die of deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried but will be like dung lying on the ground. They will perish by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.”"

According to the interpretation given by the one who raised this objection, by his own criteria Jeremiah is a false prophet considering he remained celibate throughout his ministry. But that is not the case in either Jesus and Jeremiah, considering Jeremiah was commanded to be celibate in a given context and Jesus was talking about being celibate in a given context. Genesis 1:28 doesn't condemn Jesus or Jeremiah, but if you want to say it does condemn Jesus because of celibacy, then reject Jeremiah as well, if you are going to be consistent.

"2. Sabbath Observance
"The seventh day is a Sabbath to the L-rd your G-d. Do not do any work" (Exodus 20:9). Jesus defended his "hungry" disciples when they plucked grain on the Sabbath. This is agricultural labor and is unquestionably a violation of the Sabbath.

Christian apologists insist that Jesus was revealing the true meaning of the Sabbath when he said, "The Sabbath is not made for man; man is made for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27)." This is untenable. Deuteronomy 17:8-13 says that we are to follow the Jewish High Court in disputes of Jewish law and this requirement is recognized by Jesus himself (Matthew 23:2). With whom is he arguing in Mark? It is the same Jewish legal authorities who are Biblicaly authorized to interpret the Law!

If Jesus meant that they were starving and their lives were threatened, the Gospel account must be fictional.1 Talmudic (Pharisee) law agrees this would be a reason to violate the Sabbath (Talmud Yoma ch.8). The Rabbis would not have quarreled with Jesus if this were the case. If there was no danger to life, then plucking grain violates the Sabbath and the apostles were probably guilty of theft for eating from a field not theirs."

So if Jesus was claiming the disciples were starving, the Gospel is false? That doesn't even make sense and is  a moot objection. Furthermore, Jesus is anathematizing the Pharisees for their wickedness and hypocrisy in the context. He tells the disciples to obey them but not emulate them. In other words it's to do with the Torah, not the rulings of the Pharisees, although the tradition consistent with the scripture wouldn't of been harmful.

""23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.""

Jesus did accept a Rabbinic ruling if it did not contradict the Torah. Also, read the context of Matthew 12:
"12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus."

Jesus makes a point of what is actually allowed on the Sabbath and what isn't and the Pharisee's were guilty of interpreting that command in an extreme fashion and not in the way it was meant to be. Even today Orthodox Jews and even some Messianics, but not all, go as far as not even turning on a light switch, which is pushing it.

Also, The Rabbinic community assumes there is an oral Torah that goes back to Moses and read it anachronistically into the NT writings. The burden of proof is on them.

"3.Not Honoring a Torah Sage
"Honor the face of an elder [zaken] " (Leviticus 19:32). Zaken does not simply mean an old person; for that is the subject of the first half of the verse ("You shall rise before an old person [seiva]"). This is a commandment to respect Torah scholars. Judges and religious leaders are typically called zaken in the Bible (Exodus 24:14, Leviticus 4:15, Numbers 11:25, Deuteronomy 22:16, 25:7). If Jesus did not violate this by calling them "vipers," no one ever did (Matthew 23:13-33)."

Indeed one should respect their leaders or speak evil. However, one calling out a leader as a hypocrite when it's the truth, is not a sin and is not a violation of the Torah. Furthermore, Isaiah refers to his people as a brood of vipers because of their wickedness, which would include the scribes, judges and religious leaders who were encouraging their people in their idolatry. Calling someone a hypocrite because of the fact they are doing evil in the sight of the Lord is not disrespect to any leader if they are responsible for bringing instructing people in the ways of Ha Shem or God. In the days of the NT, the Pharisees, though not guilty of worshipping statues, where certainly guilty of Avodah Zara or alien worship. They substituted the commands of God for the traditions of men, just as the people in Isaiah 29 did and Jesus quotes this passage to condemn the Pharisees in Matthew 15.

"4. False Prophecy
Deuteronomy 18:20 prohibits false prophecy. The same passage defines false prophecy: "the word does not materialize or come to pass." As the New Testament asserts that Jesus is a prophet (Acts 3:22) one must regard as false prophecy the following statement: ".this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place." (Matthew 24:34).

This statement follows a description of signs of the End of Days. "This generation" of course died about 2,000 years ago and the prediction was never actualized. 

One way generation can be understood is referring to a particular race of people, namely the Jews. Jesus also goes on to say that no man knows the day or the hour in the same context.

"36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left."

Jesus obviously didn't mean that he would return in the apostles lifetime. There are some good commentaries on this issue which I recommend looking at:

"5. Not Honoring Parents
"Honor your father and mother" (Exodus 20:12). Jesus ignored his mother when she came to visit. "Someone told him, 'your mother and brother are standing outside, wanting to speak to you' He replied to him, 'who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' Pointing to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers" (Matthew 12:47-49). He goes on to state whoever does the will of the Father is his kin. This is dishonorable conduct wrt his own mother by any objective measure. "

Jesus was not intending disrespect to his mother in the context. he was interrupted during his teaching by another person and couldn't speak to his mother at the time.

"46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”"

As Jamieson Fausset Brown observes
"47. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee, &c.—Absorbed in the awful warnings He was pouring forth, He felt this to be an unseasonable interruption, fitted to dissipate the impression made upon the large audience—such an interruption as duty to the nearest relatives did not require Him to give way to. But instead of a direct rebuke, He seizes on the incident to convey a sublime lesson, expressed in a style of inimitable condescension."

Matthew Henry in his commentary says:
"12:46-50 Christ's preaching was plain, easy, and familiar, and suited to his hearers. His mother and brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him, when they should have been standing within, desiring to hear him. Frequently, those who are nearest to the means of knowledge and grace are most negligent. We are apt to neglect that which we think we may have any day, forgetting that to-morrow is not ours. We often meet with hinderances in our work from friends about us, and are taken off by care for the things of this life, from the concerns of our souls. Christ was so intent on his work, that no natural or other duty took him from it. Not that, under pretence of religion, we may be disrespectful to parents, or unkind to relations; but the lesser duty must stand by, while the greater is done. Let us cease from men, and cleave to Christ; let us look upon every Christian, in whatever condition of life, as the brother, sister, or mother of the Lord of glory; let us love, respect, and be kind to them, for his sake, and after his example."

More objections shall be addressed in the future if the Lord Wills.

Answering Judaism.

*2nd June 2024. While the point about 7 billion people and that there is not enough room is false in hindsight and for that I apologise for the comment, it doesn’t change the fact in the New Testament that marriage is not obligatory, but there is freedom to be married or not.

Jesus didn’t marry yet still did the will of the Father. (On a side not, Jesus being married to the church doesn’t logically entail that all Christians must have a spouse, they are two different catergories. Marriage is an illustration of Christ and the Church but individuals are not necessarily called to have a spouse though if they marry (in a way pleasing to God.) they have not sinned as Paul speaks about 1 Corinthians (7:28).

Jesus did not sin by not marrying and thus remains pure.

1 comment:

  1. 1. The mitzvah simply states to have children. I will not enter a debate about the ecosystem as it presently exists. The argument wrt Jeremiah is an old one.
    There are two ways to view this passage. First, this can be viewed as Jeremiah
    being commanded by God not to marry at all. In this case, it would not accrue to him
    as a transgression of the precept in Genesis 1:28. He had no choice other than to
    obey God’s instructions.
    Alternatively, the phrase "in this place" [in Hebrew, בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה (ba’maQOM
    ha’ZEH)] in verse 2 could be understood to imply that the order is tied to the
    particular location for a specific reason, which is described elsewhere in the Book of Jeremiah. Hashem gave no such command to Jesus. He did not have children. He violated this mitzvah.

    2.The reason you may feel the reasoning wrt starvation is nonsensical is because you do not know Talmud and in your willingness to swallow the near universal vilification of the Pharisaic sect, hook line and sinker. The principal of pikuach nefesh means that any mitzvah including the Sabbath was over-riden if life was at stake. Just another silly ruling of those evil Pharisees. The NT is guilty of wholesale degradation and vilification of the Pharisees, an account which is contradicted by an examination of extra-biblical sources. Do I feel there may have been a few hypcriticial people among them. Sure. But the caricatures drawn in the NT are just propaganda-no different from the whitewash given to Pilate which also is contradicted by extra-biblical sources such as Philo and Josephus.
    The fact is what Jesus was teaching was a violation of Shabbat- a form of agricultural labor. The Torah says if there is any dispute we should follow the ruling of the judges and in this period the Pharisees were the judges - they sat in Moses' seat. Twisting things around, Jesus admits they are the authority but then paints the picture everyone being hypocritical and not carrying out what they rule to the population at large- there is no basis for this in outside of the NT in the historical records that survive. Exodus 22:27 is another mitzvah not to curse a judge, not to revile a judge. How can you read what comes from the mouth of Jesus and not accept it as a violation of Hashem's commandment?

    I will not get into a lengthy discussion of the word genea in reference to this generation. From what I have read it most commonly refers to contemporaries. A plain reading of the text leaves little doubt that Jesus was referring to his disciples .

    Matthew 24 is quite consistent with Matthew 16:28-28 “Truly I tell YOU some who are standing HERE will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Any attempt to rationalize genea to some future generation or to the nation of Jews is just that- a poor rationalization. His followers expected something immanent in their lifetimes.

    Finally, I do not find the commentaries you referenced convincing wrt honoring one's parents. The actions decribed seem disrespectful and in violation of the commandment.