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Why both the Tanakh (Tanach, Old Testament) and the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant/New Testament)?
Jeremiah 31:30-33 in the Tanakh (Jeremiah 31:31-34 in the Old Testament). “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will form a covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, a new covenant. Not like the covenant that I formed with their forefathers on the day I took them by the hand to take them out of the land of Egypt, that they broke My covenant, although I was a lord over them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will form with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will place My law in their midst and I will inscribe it upon their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be My people. And no longer shall one teach his neighbor or [shall] one [teach] his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know Me from their smallest to their greatest, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will no longer remember.”
Further Tanakh scriptures to support this are: Jeremiah 32:37-40, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Ezekiel 16:58-63, Ezekiel 37:21-26, Isaiah 55:3-8. For sake of space, I did not type out these scriptures, but please, click on these links and read them! They are awesome!
Tanakh or Tanach is a Hebrew acronym that stands for “Torah [The Pentateuch] (Five books of Moses), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Khetuvim [K’tuvim] (Writings)”. The books of the Tanakh and Old Testament have the exact same content. However there is a slightly different order/arrangement between the two, and verse numbers in some instances are different. However, if you compare the content side by side, you will see that they are identical.
To clarify the word “Torah”; in it’s most limited sense “Torah” refers to the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. But the word “Torah” can also be used to refer to the entire Tanakh.
Rabbis may include the term “oral Torah” in the word Torah. That oral Torah, also known as the Talmud, they believe was given to Moses by God.
However what it is is a collection of Rabbinical interpretations of the written Torah. There is absolutely nothing in the written Torah that alludes to the fact that there was another Torah given to Moses. If you find such a scripture, please feel free to post it in the comments section!
There is an account in 2 Kings 22:8 and 2 Chronicles 34:15 of how the written Torah was both lost and completely forgotten for over 50 years and rediscovered by the Temple priests. It is difficult to believe that the Israelites could remember a non-recorded oral law while at the same time completely forgetting what was in the written law.
The words of the oral Torah have absent from them the familiar Biblical wording of “And the Lord spoke…” and “…thus says the Lord”.
If one reads the text of the Oral Torah, one sees the opinions of Rabbis who disagree with each other repeatedly. The Rabbis explain that whenever there are such disagreements, “both opinions are the words of God.”
However, according to the Tanakh, God does not contradict himself. (Malachi 3:6 “For I, the Lord, have not changed; and you, the sons of Jacob, have not reached the end.”; Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man that He should lie, nor is He a mortal that He should relent. Would He say and not do, speak and not fulfill?” Isaiah 40:8 “The grass shall dry out, the blossom shall wilt, but the word of our God shall last forever.”Habakkuk 3:6 “He stood and meted out to the earth; He saw and caused nations to wander. And the everlasting mountains were shattered; the everlasting hills were humbled. The procedures of the world are His.”)
Regarding other “extra biblical books”; there is a cluster of about 14 books, known as the Apocryphal books, which were written some time between the close of the Old Testament (after 400 B.C.) and the beginning of the New. They were never considered as part of the Hebrew Scriptures, and the Jews themselves clearly ruled them out by the confession that there was, throughout that period, no voice of the prophets in the land.
The Old Testament had been translated into Greek during the third century B.C., and this translation is known as the Septuagint, a word meaning 70, after the supposedly 70 men involved in the translation. It was the Greek Septuagint that the disciples of Jesus frequently used since Greek was the common language of the day. Whether or not the Septuagint also contained the Apocrypha is impossible to say for sure, since although the earliest copies of the Septuagint available today do include the Apocrypha, placed at the end, these are dated in the fifth century so cannot be relied upon to tell us what was common half a millennium earlier. Significantly, neither Jesus nor any of the apostles ever quoted from the Apocrypha, even though they were obviously using the Greek Septuagint. Therefore those 14 books are not in the Biblical Canon although they are used in the Catholic bibles.
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.
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.