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“Nations cannot be saved and must not be saved as an afterthought or from considerations of cost-benefit. Unless the moral fire burns within us, the lessons of the Holocaust will never be learned.” ~ Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel
“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shall not be a bystander.” ~ Yehuda Bauer, an Israeli historian and scholar of the Holocaust, “The Legacy of the Holocaust.”
“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.” ~ Primo Levi, Italian Jewish chemist, writer, and Holocaust survivor
If you are Jewish, you remain Jewish, always, no matter what!
According to the Orthodox, a Jewish person is any person whose birth mother was a Jew, or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism. A person born to non-Jewish parents who has not undergone the formal process of conversion, but who believes everything that Orthodox Jews believe, and observes every law and custom of Judaism, is still a non-Jew, even in the eyes of the most liberal movements of Judaism.
And a person born to a Jewish mother who is an atheist and never practices the Jewish religion, is still a Jew, even in the eyes of the ultra-Orthodox. In this sense, Judaism is more like a nationality than like other religions, and being Jewish is like a citizenship (Reference.) This reference even says that it is important to note that being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do.
Given that information, then the reality is that a person who is born a Jew can believe in and practice whatever they want, their identity as a Jew is not something that can be taken away from them. A fascinating post on the Chabad website testifies to just that: “Jewishness is not a belief, a feeling, a conviction or a lifestyle. It is a state of being. We can either celebrate it or fight against it. But it will always be there.”
I Kings 18:21 says “And Elijah drew near to all the people and said, Until when are you hopping between two ideas? If the Lord is God, go after Him, and if the Baal, go after him. And the people did not answer him a word.” Elijah the prophet was sent to rebuke those Jews who were worshiping a foreign god named Baal. The people were given a choice, if the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him. Ultimately the Jews renounced their idolatrous ways and returned to God.
Some have concluded that this is saying that a Jew who follows another religion is Jewish only to the point that he retains a spiritual obligation to repent and return to Judaism. Following that line of reasoning, as long as a Jew’s beliefs are idolatrous and foreign to Judaism, he/she cannot call himself or herself a Jew. In that same analysis some have made the differentiation between a non practicing Jew and one who has chosen to follow a “foreign” path (Pages 18-19 “The Jewish Response to Missionaries – Counter Missionary Handbook” by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz.)
Is this what the Tanakh truly says? We must carefully consider the context of passages. In other words, we must look carefully at verses that precede and that follow a verse we are studying. When we take a passage “out of context” we are in danger of misinterpreting it. A passage can often be taken more than one way, until we look closely at the larger picture, perhaps an entire chapter or even the entire book.
Does it say in I Kings 18 that those who followed Baal were no longer Jews? No. Verse 18 “And he said, “I have not brought trouble upon Israel, but you and your father’s house, since you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you went after the Baalim.” There is absolutely no mention of a loss of identity; what there is mention of is there were consequences from God, trouble, just like when we forsake God and pursue ungodly activities and interests. When we turn from God and follow our own path, there most certainly are consequences; natural ones as well as one’s from God.
Some may say that the Torah teaches that Jews and non Jews are given different paths to reach God. A Jew is obligated to follow the Torah while a non Jew must observe the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah. (Page 19 “The Jewish Response to Missionaries – Counter Missionary Handbook” by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz.) That is found absolutely nowhere in the Tanakh. That is a Rabbinical thought expressed in the Oral Torah inferred from Genesis 9.
Now getting down to what the Bible actually states. The Tanakh does not specifically state anywhere that matrilineal descent should be used. The Orthodox Jews are using the following to support the matrilineal descent theory: Deuteronomy 7:1-5, Leviticus 24:10 and Ezra 10:2-3. Source.
However taking into account the context of these scriptures within the rest of the Bible, those scriptures discuss the intermarriage between a believer; a follower of God, and a non believer or a non follower of God like Deuteronomy 22:10, 1 Corinthians 5:9, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 state.
Regarding who is a Jew, the Tanakh states that a Jewish person is any person who is a descendant of Israel (Jacob), as well as the patriarchs Abraham and Isaac, and their wives. (Genesis 12:1-3, Psalm 77:16 [Psalm 77:15 OT].) Interesting too, according to the Tanakh there isn’t any set out list of requirements to formally convert to Judaism. Ruth is held up by all as an example of conversion (Ruth 1:16.)
Who is a Gentile?
Gentiles are people who are not Jewish. Gentiles are not born Christian either. No one is BORN a Christian or is a Christian simply because their parents are Christians or they were sprinkled with water at an infant baptism. There is a personal and inner decision that each INDIVIDUAL must make for him or herself in order to become a Christian. Gentiles who place their faith in Jesus are “grafted into” the Jewish olive tree of faith Romans 11:17-25 becoming spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham (Galatians 3:28-29.)
Who is a Christian?
Anyone, GENTILE OR JEW, who receives Jesus as their Savior (Romans 10:11-13.) One is not born a Christian the way one is born a Jew or born a man (XY Sex Chromosomes) or a woman (XX Sex Chromosomes.) One is also not baptized into becoming a Christian either the way one might be baptized into a religion for example as in infant baptism by sprinkling of water. To become a Christian as the Bible states it, one must actually decide that they believe what scripture says about receiving salvation.
Bringing this page together regarding Jewish people….
If a Jewish person has decided for him or herself that Jesus is indeed the Messiah and has received Jesus as such, then they have a dual identity as Jewish and as a follower of Jesus.
The future, the hope… this concept of life everlasting, eternal life, is found in the Tanach (Tanakh, Old Testament) as well as in the New Testament. Death is viewed as the end of physical life but not the termination of existence. The dead, though separated from this life, continue to exist.
“May Your dead live, ‘My corpses shall rise; awaken and sing, you who dwell in the dust, for a dew of lights is your dew, and [to the] earth You shall cast the slackers.“Isaiah 26:19 (An Old Testament wording “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.” )
“And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken-these for eternal life, and those for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence.” Daniel 12:2
“The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up.” 1 Samuel 2:6
“Therefore, my heart rejoiced, and my soul was glad; even my flesh shall dwell in safety. For You shall not forsake my soul to the grave; You shall not allow Your pious one to see the pit. You shall let me know the way of life, the fullness of joys in Your presence. There is pleasantness in Your right hand forever. Psalm 16:9 –11
“I will see Your face with righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your image upon the awakening.” Psalm 17:15
“Like sheep, they are destined to the grave; death will devour them, and the upright will rule over them in the morning, and their form will outlast the grave as his dwelling place. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall take me forever.” Psalm 49:15-16 (14-15 Old Testament)
“Yet I was constantly with You; You grasped my right hand. With Your counsel You led me, and after[wards], You took me [for] glory. For whom do I have in heaven, and I desired no one with You on earth. My flesh and my heart yearn; God is the rock of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who have distanced themselves from You will perish; You have cut off anyone who strays from You. But as for me God’s nearness is my good; I have placed my refuge in the Lord God, to tell all Your mission. Psalm 73:23 -28
I do not however embrace the secularized version of the very critical and special happening nor do I connect with the bunnies and eggs (although I confess, I do have a fondness for chocolate. Thank you to Hershey’s and Russell Stover for your fantastic Resurrection Sunday chocolate treats!)
The actual events that transpired on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are critical to ALL who truly believe the Bible, and these events are a part of the statement of faith for both Messianic Jewish synagogues and Biblical Christian churches.
Was Jesus actually resurrected??? IS Jesus actually alive with God right now??? How do we know that a 2,000 year old event actually happened??? Well, how do we know that anything in history happened?
A historian finds the facts relying on historical data such as archeology, ancient documents and recorded eyewitness testimony to reconstruct the past. Certain principles guide the determination of which historical accounts are reliable and which are not. If there are several independent sources reporting the same event, that is reliable history. If the sources are actual eyewitnesses, that is reliable history. If the eyewitness accounts are during the same general time period as the actual event, that is reliable history. Once the historian has gathered the facts, a determination has to be made if the facts support the alleged historical event.
Along with the Bible, about 18 different ancient non-Christian writers present more than 100 facts about the birth of Jesus, His life, teachings, miracles, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension: Josephus, Tacitus, Thallus, Phlegon, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Emperor Trajan, Emperor Hadrian, the Talmud, Lucian, Mara bar Serapion.
The facts are:
1) Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
2) Jesus was buried in a known, guarded accessible tomb with a rock sealing it.
3) The disciples believed they had seen the risen Jesus. Paul lists the eyewitnesses in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. Even critical scholars believe 1 Corinthians is an authentic letter written by Paul so here we have a reliable list of people who believed they saw resurrection appearances of Jesus,
4) The disciples really believed they had seen Jesus such that it totally transformed them. Jesus, their leader, had been brutally killed before their eyes. Their reactions were understandable and also cowardly. Peter even denies Jesus three times. But something happened, transforming them from cowards who abandoned Jesus to courageous men who risked their lives for His message. They didn’t just claim Jesus rose, they absolutely believed it in a way that their lives were powerfully changed.
5) The tomb of Jesus was empty. There are three main reasons why the empty tomb is a historical fact. They fall under the acronym (JET). Jerusalem factor (J), enemy testimony (E), and the testimony of women (T). Any conspiracy theories as to a stolen body or any other claims do not have one shred of evidence to back up the claims. That He was actually resurrected has actual evidence to support it.
Skeptics certainly can and will believe what they want. There are doubters for all aspects of history and yet, history is just that, a record of events that happened in the past.
Will we discredit all history that occurred simply because there is no one alive now who was alive then to tell us what happened? The same historical method for compiling the evidence for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the same historical method utilized for compiling evidence for anything in history.
Google the research and examine it all. If you are interested, really dig into the material. As insane, wild, and strange as it is to our natural minds, this actually did happen. An excellent publication, available free of charge that provide direction to all the research and evidence, biblical and non biblical sources, even from skeptics who show the evidence to support this: Gary R. Habermas, “Evidence for the Historical Jesus: Is the Jesus of History the Christ of Faith?”
The resurrection of Jesus is a testimony to the resurrection of human beings.
In the Tanach (Tanakh, Old Testament), there are many specific blood sacrifices listed and each one was a covering over the particular sin or sins, an atonement. This is why the sacrifices had to be repeated, and this is why there is the annual Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement.
In the New Testament, at the very central heart of the gospel is that the saving death of Jesus is the final atonement, for it is the propitiation: the quenching of God’s wrath for us when He completely removed our sins and took them onto Himself (expiation) thereby reconciling those who believe to God forever! Our sin (ALL of our sin, our entire body of sin; past, present, future) was imputed onto Jesus, and the righteousness of Jesus was imputed onto us, therefore called double imputation. (Romans 3:21-26, 1 John 2:2)
Over 300 prophecies stated in the Tanach (Tanakh, Old Testament) were fulfilled by one named Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew). Our eternal God became man (incarnation) for our salvation; sinless, born under the Law, to fulfill the Law perfectly (Genesis 49:10). Crucified, died, resurrected, alive seated at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1), fully God, fully man (Daniel 7:13-14, Isaiah 52:6-7, Isaiah 9:5 Tanakh [9:6 OT]). By faith, we are able to be reconciled to God forever. Just as Abram back in Genesis 15, by faith.
Do you believe? Will you believe? Will you receive your Messiah today?
Why has Judaism decided that Jesus is not their Messiah or Savior? Part has to do with all the persecution and torture done in the name of Jesus by people professing themselves to be Christians. From the Crusades, to the Inquisition, to the pogroms in Europe, to Hitler’s holocaust, being a “Christian” and the name of Jesus has been associated with horrendous things.
Partly because the concept of a man who is the son of God sounds contrary to the concept of one God which is the foundation of Judaism.
Partly because Judaism does not teach about the need for salvation, the need for a savior.
And partly because some argue that Jesus did not fulfill all the prophecies in the Hebrew Bible. There are a multitude of prophecies about a Messiah who will come as ruling, triumphant King and set up his kingdom. This hasn’t happened yet.
So Judaism dismisses the fulfilled predictions stating they are wrong or mistranslations, and also points to those still unfulfilled ones and states that Jesus cannot possibly be THE Messiah.
However let us take a look at two sets of prophecies. One shows the Messiah suffering as an atonement for sin (Psalm 22, Isaiah 52:13–Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:25-26, Zechariah 12:10.) The other shows the Messiah reigning and bringing about the redemption of Israel, the end of war, and universal knowledge of God (Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 11:1-9, Ezekiel 40-48, Daniel 2:44, Zechariah 14.)
What is the Rabbinic response to this?
One fascinating possibility, which can be traced to the third or fourth century, is that there are two Messiahs: one called “Messiah son of Joseph,” who suffers and dies; the other called “Messiah son of David,” who rules and reigns. The suffering Messiah is given the name “Son of Joseph” because He suffers rejection and humiliation like Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 37-41.) The reigning Messiah is given the name “Son of David” because He reigns in triumph like King David.
So are there two Messiahs, or do the Prophets describe the same Messiah who is coming on two different occasions with two different purposes?
Upon close examination, Jesus definitely fulfilled the Messianic prophecies of the Suffering Servant. He fulfilled other Messianic prophecies as well.
Here is a list of 365 Messianic Prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. What are the odds?
When Messiah Jesus returns in power and glory, He will be revealed as the longed for Messiah, Son of David. He will bring an end to the conflict which will be raging over Jerusalem, threatening the world with destruction (Zechariah 12-14, Revelation 16-19.) He will destroy the world system responsible for corruption and wickedness on earth and for the tribulation (Jeremiah 51, Revelation 18) and He will set up a kingdom from Jerusalem, bringing peace and justice to the nations of the world (Isaiah 2:1-4, Revelation 20:4-6.)
The fact that Jesus did not bring lasting peace at His first coming does not disprove that He is indeed the promised One of Israel. It is part of God’s plan that Messiah would come once to die for our sin, bringing salvation and forgiveness to all who believe, and then later return as Judge and King. The view of two comings of Messiah fits perfectly with the two distinct “portraits” of the suffering and reigning Messiah found in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The English word “gospel” comes from two old English words, “god spell” meaning “good news“, or, as it is sometimes used, “glad tidings“. This is the translation of the Greek word “enaggelion” or “evangelion“.
In the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh [Tanach], Old Testament), the word “besorah” is used, and in English is translated as, yes, the same as “gospel”… “good news” or “tidings.”
Gospel is a proclamation of good news, either oral or written, typically announcing a positive event of public importance, such as victory in battle, the accession of a king, the death of an enemy.
Interesting to note that the Hebrew Bible includes small portions in Aramaic, written and printed in Aramaic square-script, which was adopted as the Hebrew alphabet after the Babylonian exile. Also, by the time of the New Testament, many Jews didn’t even speak Hebrew anymore. Rome had conquered Greece, and the influence of Greek culture had saturated the empire.
NOW, before you assert that the word “gospel” (again, which means “good news”) has connotations from the New Testament that are NOT for Jews, let us take a look in our Hebrew Bible at the usage of the word “besorah”(which again, also means “good news”).
Originally, the word “besorah” was used to describe the report of victory in battle ( 2 Samuel 4:10 ). As the Israelites believed God was actively involved in their lives (including battles and wars) it evolved in it’s connotation. To proclaim the good news of Israel’s success in battle was to proclaim God’s triumph over God’s enemies. Believing credit for the victory belonged to God, the Israelites’ proclamation of the good news of victory was, in fact, proclamation about God.
The transition from the use of “besorah” in a military setting, to its use in a personal context, is pretty basic. If Israel proclaimed good news when God delivered the nation from its enemies, individuals would also want to proclaim good news when God delivered them from personal distress (Psalm 40:10). The nation’s victories in war and a person’s individual victories both called for the announcement of what God had done.
The Book of Isaiah marks the full development of the term within the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh [Tanach], Old Testament). By this time the word is most often used to describe the anticipated deliverance and salvation which would come from the hand of God when the long awaited Messiah appeared to deliver Israel (Isaiah 52:7). The military-political and personal connotations of the word were fully united in the hope of a Deliverer who would both triumph over the earthly enemies of God’s people and usher in a new age of salvation. The arrival of this Messiah would be good news.
In the Hebrew Bible, the verb form of “besorah” dominates in usage. A noun derived from the verb does appear on occasion, but the vast majority of references are to the verb itself.
Besorah or good news/tidings is made in the following places (please note, this list is for the usage of the word, not necessarily to imply that the news was actually good for the Israelites): 1 Samuel 4:17, 1 Samuel 31:9, 2 Samuel 4:10, 2 Samuel 18:19-20, 26, 31, 1 Kings 1:42, 1 Chronicles 10:9, 1 Chronicles 16:23, Psalm 40:10 Tanakh; 40:9 OT, Psalm 68:12 Tanakh; 68:11 OT, Psalm 96:2, Isaiah 40:9, Isaiah 41:27, Isaiah 52:7, Isaiah 60:6, Isaiah 61:1, Jeremiah 20:15, Nahum 2:1 Tanakh, 1:15 OT.
Delving even deeper “besorah” is from the root “basar”. The intensive form “bissier” means to bring (good) news. (In grammar, an intensive word form is one which denotes stronger, more forceful, or more concentrated action relative to the root on which the intensive is built).
“Basar” means “to bear tidings” and “basar” also means “flesh”. “Basar” meaning “flesh” occurs before Adam sinned. Adam already was flesh and bone. (Genesis 2:21).
Then in Genesis 2:23-24 “And man said, ‘This time, it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called ishah (woman) because this one was taken from ish (man). Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’”
English “Gospel”; Greek “enaggelion” or “evangelion”; Hebrew “besorah”. Word study is so fascinating!
Let us consider for a moment that the English word “Gospel” states that the proclamation of good news is “they shall be one flesh.” God’s Gospel states the very way that we become connected with Him, with nothing separating us, ever. That is Good News!
Judaism does not prohibit writing the name of G-d, it prohibits only erasing or defacing a name of G-d. However, some avoid writing any name of His casually because of the risk that the written name might later be defaced, obliterated or destroyed accidentally. The commandment not to erase or deface the name of G-d comes from Deuteronomy 12:3. From this, rabbis inferred that we are commanded not to destroy any holy thing, and not to erase or deface His name.
This rabbinic prohibition applies only to what is written in some kind of permanent form, and rabbis decided that writing on a computer is not a permanent form. However, once you print the document out, it becomes a permanent form. That is why many will avoid writing the name out. Generally I will write the name “God” on this website/blog.
It is not a biblical holiday and it has it’s roots in Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. It is a minor holiday that has been adopted by the Orthodox Jewish Rabbinic community and some other adherents to the Jewish religion.
In the 16th century in Israel, a Rabbi created a Tu B’Shevat seder, something like the Passover Seder, that celebrates the Tree of Life but with Kabbalistic principles.
Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of Trees, is the first sign on the calendar that spring is approaching and with it, the rich and deeply meaningful Passover season. Even among those who are not following the Kabbalistic rite, it is a custom to eat dried fruits and nuts.
As I will grab any opportunity to talk about the Messiah and share the full gospel of Jesus, here we go! There is a powerful significance of The Tree of Life. Sin entered our world by an act of eating from a tree. The victory over sin also was obtained by means of a tree, on that day when Messiah hung on a tree and took upon himself the curse on sin (Deuteronomy 21:22-23, Galatians 3:13.)
The Bible is a love story. It is a huge, continuous story through 66 books describing who God is, what God created, and why. It is the love story of God meeting us where we are at; rebellious, sinful, failing, guilty, striving yet never reaching. God meets us with His rescue, His salvation, His favor, His grace, His mercy, His goodness.
The main character is God and He can be found on every page. When we read and study the Bible, while it may certainly help us, it is there for us to hear from God. Through His word God teaches, challenges, encourages, and yes also rebukes us, to better equip us to do whatever tasks He has specifically designed us to do.
The Bible contains the only true, stable, unchangeable standard of behavior; the one set by God. We learn about His standards in the Bible. Many people accept that as truth, and many ridicule it and decide to set their own standard for behavior.
However, while many like to coin the Bible “the blueprint for living”, it is not. To suggest that it is, diminishes it’s power and love to a rules manual, an operational book.
Let us look at it this way, if the Bible is the “manual for life” it makes me (or you) the center of life. The whole reason for going to the Bible then is so that “I” or “you” can know how to live. Yes, sounds noble because our default seems to be “what do I have to do?”
In this scenario however, the Bible becomes a means to an end, us striving to make ourselves better. Again, sounds noble, however the story of “me, me, all about me” is NOT what the Bible is about. When life becomes me centered and me powered, even when we give lip service and verbal credit to God and His power, it is legalism. Ouch!
Well, what exactly is legalism? Following God and His ways becomes reduced to principles or rules that we apply. In the end, God and His Grace, God and His life changing power, along with the love relationship between God and His human creation, is taken out of the picture.
The Bible tells us of the perfect standard that God is (which also helps us to realize that while we learn God’s will for us in how He would like us to behave, we will not in this life down here on earth be able to reach His standard as His standard is nothing less than absolute perfection). However, every book in the Bible is love filled, mercy filled, grace filled, as it contains His gospel (besorah, good news) message. The deeper this message seeps and sinks into us, the more we will reflect just who God designed us to reflect, Him!
When the Bible tells me to work out my salvation, it does not mean to go out and get what I do not have; get more patience, get more strength, get more joy, get more love. Growth happens by working out of me what God has already placed in me; living out the reality of what I do have. I become more spiritually mature when I focus more on all that God has already done for me, and less on what I need to do for God.
This is how we are called to work out our salvation: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.“ Philippians 2:12-13
The litmus test is this; if you are thinking more about what you need to do, than what God has already done, your focus is on yourself, and not on God.
So, what has God already done? All this talk about the gospel, what does it all mean? So glad you asked! I will send you over here to bring you deeper into this material.
Current day, most Rabbis will say that this passage speaks of Israel.
If one studies the ancient Rabbinical literature (Midrash) one will find a wealth of fascinating Messianic Rabbinic Commentary that discusses Isaiah 53 speaking of Messiah. I wish there would be a full volume of this literature in English online; unfortunately there does not appear to be. Here are some excerpts.
Babylonian Talmud: “The Messiah –what is his name?…The Rabbis say, The Leper Scholar, as it is said, `surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God and afflicted…'” (Sanhedrin 98b)
Midrash Ruth Rabbah:“Another explanation (of Ruth ii.14): — He is speaking of king Messiah; `Come hither,’ draw near to the throne; `and eat of the bread,’ that is, the bread of the kingdom; `and dip thy morsel in the vinegar,’ this refers to his chastisements, as it is said, `But he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities'”
Targum Jonathan: “Behold my servant Messiah shall prosper; he shall be high and increase and be exceedingly strong…”
Zohar: “`He was wounded for our transgressions,’ etc….There is in the Garden of Eden a palace called the Palace of the Sons of Sickness; this palace the Messiah then enters, and summons every sickness, every pain, and every chastisement of Israel; they all come and rest upon him. And were it not that he had thus lightened them off Israel and taken them upon himself, there had been no man able to bear Israel’s chastisements for the transgression of the law: and this is that which is written, `Surely our sicknesses he hath carried.'”
Rabbi Moses Maimonides:“What is the manner of Messiah’s advent….there shall rise up one of whom none have known before, and signs and wonders which they shall see performed by him will be the proofs of his true origin; for the Almighty, where he declares to us his mind upon this matter, says, `Behold a man whose name is the Branch, and he shall branch forth out of his place’ (Zech. 6:12). And Isaiah speaks similarly of the time when he shall appear, without father or mother or family being known, He came up as a sucker before him, and as a root out of dry earth, etc….in the words of Isaiah, when describing the manner in which kings will harken to him, At him kings will shut their mouth; for that which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heard they have perceived.” (From the Letter to the South (Yemen), quoted in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, Ktav Publishing House, 1969, Volume 2, pages 374-5)
Rabbi Mosheh Kohen Ibn Crispin:This rabbi described those who interpret Isaiah 53 as referring to Israel as those: “having forsaken the knowledge of our Teachers, and inclined after the `stubbornness of their own hearts,’ and of their own opinion, I am pleased to interpret it, in accordance with the teaching of our Rabbis, of the King Messiah….This prophecy was delivered by Isaiah at the divine command for the purpose of making known to us something about the nature of the future Messiah, who is to come and deliver Israel, and his life from the day when he arrives at discretion until his advent as a redeemer, in order that if anyone should arise claiming to be himself the Messiah, we may reflect, and look to see whether we can observe in him any resemblance to the traits described here; if there is any such resemblance, then we may believe that he is the Messiah our righteousness; but if not, we cannot do so.” (From his commentary on Isaiah, quoted in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, Ktav Publishing House, 1969, Volume 2, pages 99-114.)
Why Isaiah 53 Most Definitely Speaks of The Messiah and Not Israel
1) The consistent use of pronouns in the passage makes it clear that the suffering servant is an individual separate from the Jewish people as a whole to whom Isaiah was speaking. The suffering servant is always referred to in the singular (he, him, himself, and his) while the people of Israel are referred to in the plural (we, us, and our or my people).
2) Israel observed the suffering of the righteous servant.
3) The suffering servant died for the transgressions, or sins, of the “my” people. Clearly, “my people” is Isaiah’s people, the people of Israel. The passage would make no sense if the suffering servant were Israel. In that case, Israel would die for Israel’s sins. In other words, Israel would have gotten what she deserved, which makes no sense. The entire passage speaks of the suffering servant suffering and dying for, on behalf of, or in place of Israel.
4) In verse 10, the suffering servant is offered as an “asham,” or guilt offering. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the guilt offering was never Israel, nor could it ever have been Israel. The guilt offering, or “asham,” was always offered on behalf of or in place of the one who had committed the trespass or sin. It was never offered for or on behalf of the asham itself. (No one could ever be an “asham” for his or her own sins.) An asham offering was always offered by an individual and never by the nation of Israel. In addition, the offering had to be without blemish, or sinless. Because the offering was without blemish, it was always offered for the sins of someone other than the asham itself. For all of these reasons, Israel cannot be the suffering servant who offers himself as an asham offering.
5) The “asham” always had to die. The suffering servant clearly died. He was “cut off out of the land of the living,” he had a grave; he was with the rich “in his death;” and he “poured out his soul unto death.” However, Israel never died. In fact, it is impossible for Israel to ever die, because God promised Israel that she would live forever.
6) The suffering servant suffered a vicarious and substitutionary death. He suffers for the sins of others, so they need not suffer for their own sins. Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible nor in Jewish history do we ever see Israel suffering for, on behalf of, or in place of the Gentiles, so that the Gentiles do not have to suffer. The suffering servant bore the sins of the people, so they would not have to bear their own sins or be judged for them. If the servant is Israel and the people are the Gentiles, then the Gentiles would not need to be punished for their sins, as they would have been vicariously borne by Israel. This has never been the case. The Gentiles were never deemed innocent after Jews suffered at their hands. Instead, they were judged for mistreating Jewish people.
7) The suffering servant has qualities that were never true of Israel: The suffering servant is depicted as being innocent. He did no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Israel is never told she would suffer for being innocent. And, Israel is never depicted as being innocent. That was why so many sacrifices were needed. Israel was never righteous, or even close to being righteous. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, Israel is pictured as continually rejecting God and being repeatedly judged for her sins. This is in sharp contrast to the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, who is portrayed as an innocent sufferer. The suffering servant is the most righteous person described in Scripture. In Isaiah 53:11, he is called “Tsadeek ahvdee”, or “My righteous servant.” This is the only place in the entire Hebrew Bible where this phrase is used. It certainly is never used of Israel. In addition, neither Abraham, Moses, David, nor any other prophet or ruler was ever called “Tsadeek ahvdee”, or “My righteous servant” in the Hebrew Bible, except for the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. Only one righteous or without any blemish could die as a sacrifice for sin. However, no normal human was ever considered righteous on his or her own. (See Psalm 14:2-3 and Psalm 53:2-3.) This suffering servant must, therefore, be someone greater than Abraham, Moses, or David.
8) The suffering servant is depicted as being a silent sufferer, in that, like a lamb, he did not protest his execution nor did he defend himself. He, instead, suffered willingly and voluntarily. While Israel has suffered immeasurable persecution, she has never done so willingly or voluntarily. Israel has always cried out against the inhumanity of people against her.
9) Israel was promised that if they obeyed God, they would be greatly blessed. Only if they were disobedient would they be cursed. If Israel were the righteous servant of Isaiah 53, it would have been impossible for her to have suffered and died under the conditions and in the manner described in this passage.
10) Isaiah 53:1 refers to the suffering servant as “the Arm of the Lord.” There are thirty seven references to the Arm of the Lord in the Tanakh. Never does that phrase refer to Israel. The Arm of the Lord acts on behalf of Israel, but is never Israel. Among other things, the Arm of the Lord redeems and delivers Israel when Israel is not able to deliver herself. (See, Exodus 6:6, Exodus 15:16, Deuteronomy 4:34, 5:14, 9:29, 26:8, II Kings 17:36, Psalm 44:4, and Ezekiel 20:33-34.) Therefore the suffering servant, the Arm of the Lord, cannot be Israel.
Please, examine and analyze this block of scripture for yourself Isaiah 52:13-Isaiah 53, not based on what is written here or what others may have written or told you. It is truly an incredible journey of discovery!
Rabbinic Judaism is the Jewish religion along with the expression of Jewish identity. The foundation is the Tanakh, also spelled Tanach (Old Testament) Scriptures, however the religious interpretation and practices center around the teachings of Rabbis (Talmud, also known as Oral Law). Therefore it is called Rabbinic Judaism.
The three main branches of Rabbinic Judaism are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Laws, rules, and traditions are modified or removed, depending on each branch. These all believe that both the Tanakh and the Talmud were revealed to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. Orthodox and Conservative Judaism maintain that the Jewish law (Halakha or Halakkah) should be followed, with Conservative Judaism promoting a more “modern” and less restrictive interpretation of it’s requirements than the Orthodox. Reform Judaism is more liberal and views Jewish law as a set of general guidelines rather than required literal observance.
Other Rabbinic Jewish groups include: Karaite Judaism which maintains that only the written Torah (Tanakh) was revealed to Moses by God (they do not accept the Talmud), Humanistic Judaism which is non theistic (not believing in the existence of God), and Reconstructionist Judaism which believes that Judaism is an “evolving religious civilization” which does not believe in a personified deity that is active in history, and they do not believe that God “chose” the Jewish people.
What is of grave concern is that while there is much beauty in the religious traditions, in the focus on the religion and the religion alone, the meaning of the experience being upheld, why to uphold it, how firmly and perfectly means it was upheld, and where does one go from here, is all unclear. Yet, Tanakh/Hebrew scripture is clear on that there is an eternal destination, and is equally clear that we cannot behave our way there on our own merits. There is a conflict, a dichotomy between the Jewish religion, regardless of which branch or group of Rabbinic Judaism, and what our Hebrew scriptures say.
This brings us to:
Messianic Judaism is the belief system along with the expression of Jewish identity that encompasses both the Tanakh (Tanach, Old Testament (OT) Hebrew Scriptures), and the New Testament (NT, New Covenant, B’rit Chadasha, Greek Scriptures), so 66 books of the Bible in all.
Messianic Judaism is not about being intermarried or the child of an intermarriage and combining two worlds into one, this is for anyone who after delving deep into the scriptures of the Tanakh finds themselves with some pressing questions or the feeling that there might be a missing piece to the puzzle.
The 66 books of the Bible, are the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God. It is the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks. (Jeremiah 31:30-33 Tanakh [31-34 OT], Jeremiah 32:37-40, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Ezekiel 16:58-63, Ezekiel 36:26-29, Ezekiel 37:21-26, Isaiah 55:3-8, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.)
The Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4), teaches that God is Echad, as so declared: a united one, a composite unity, eternally existent in plural oneness. The three form one as does 1 x 1 x 1 = 1. [Genesis 1:1 (Elohim: God); Genesis 1:26 “Let Us make man in Our image”; Genesis 2:24 Adam & Eve were created to be as one flesh (basar echad), Isaiah 48:16 “Draw near to Me, hearken to this; in the beginning I did not speak in secret, from the time it was, there was I, and now, the Lord God has sent me, and His spirit.“]
The Jewish holidays and traditions are honoring to God, are important for cultural identity, are totally biblical, and often give us a deeper understanding of God and our history. However the focus is not on the “religion” of the holidays.