Book: Judaism— Revelation of Moses Or Religion of Men?

1. Torah, in Hebrew, literally means teaching, direction or instruction, but is most often translated law. In typical usage, the Torah (or the Law, as used by Jesus in Matthew 5:17) is the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch (from the Latin penta teukhos, “five books”).

Rarely, some use Torah to refer to the entire Old Testament, since as a whole it consists of “teachings.” In the Bible, “the law” is used in a variety of ways and does not always refer to the Torah or Pentateuch in its entirety.

In Judaism, the so-called “oral Torah” (the Talmud) is made up only of humanly-devised traditional laws. Many rabbis create confusion by speaking of “the Torah” without differentiating between the written Torah of God and the oral traditions of Judaism. Still worse, rabbis frequently use “Torah” to refer collectively to both.

For the sake of clarity, any rabbinical reference to the “oral Torah” is so noted throughout this book by inserting, where necessary, the word “oral” in brackets—”[oral] Torah”—to distinguish it from the written or Mosaic Torah or Pentateuch.

2. Reduced to its simplest form, the Talmud consists of two parts:

1) The Mishnah, written in Hebrew, is the compilation of esoteric traditions and teachings devised and preserved orally by Jewish sages over centuries. As such, the Mishnah “represents the commitment to writing of the occult legends and lore of those [scribes] who had preserved secret knowledge” (Michael Hoffman, Judaism Discovered, p. 145). It was completed around 200 AD in Palestine.

2) The Gemara, written in Aramaic, is rabbinical commentary on the Mishnah. “All the opinions and decisions resulting from three hundred years of discussion” of the Mishnah were finally put into writing. “Completed in 500 AD, this monumental work [combined with the Mishnah] became known as the Babylonian Talmud” (Solomon Landman, Story Without End, p. 114). Still, the Talmud continued to evolve long afterward, with numerous portions being added (see Appendix One).

While the rabbis of Palestine controlled the development of the Mishnah, the rabbis of Babylon produced the Gemara. Because the Talmud was put into its “final” form under the authority of the Babylonian rabbis, it is called the Babylonian Talmud (designated as BT throughout this book). In Judaism, the Jerusalem Talmud is all but disregarded as inferior.

The Talmud is almost exclusively the domain of rabbis. Most Jews who practice Judaism simply follow the teachings of their local rabbi; some utilize references such as the Code of Jewish Law (see Appendix Two). Prior to the publication of the 1934-48 Soncino edition of The Babylonian Talmud, there was no usable English translation of the Talmud. “Humanly speaking, [the Talmud] has done more to shape ..... the Jew than anything else in [their] long and remarkable history” (Hoffman, p. 56).

3. Obviously, Jesus spoke with authority because He was filled with the Holy Spirit and moved powerfully by the Father. That aside, Christ was able to teach with authority because He had a clear, unmistakable message. With absolute conviction and certainty, He said what He meant and meant what He said. In contrast, because of their intellectual vanity, the scribes and Pharisees tolerated a wide variety of opinions and ideas within their ranks; their wishy-washy approach made it impossible to speak with authority.

4. Tanakh is a Jewish term for the Old Testament.

5. As converted believers (Acts 3:19; Matt. 18:3) and spiritual Jews (Rom. 2:29), the Church (the elect) is being “built up as a spiritual house—a holy priesthood—to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 2:5). As a “chosen stock,” the Church is to become “a royal priesthood, a holy nation” at Jesus' return (verse nine)—destined to rule with Christ in the age to come.

6. Some translate Matthew 23:2 to read that the scribes and Pharisees had “seated themselves” in Moses' seat (New American Standard Bible, etc.), demonstrating the fact that the religionists had usurped the position.


1. The so-called “age of the prophets” ended with Malachi. The ensuing void—lasting some 400 years, until John the Baptist—left the Jews to their own devices, and, one might argue, permitted the development of Judaism.

2. The use of the term “Judaism” in modern translations of Galatians 1:1314 is erroneous, giving the impression that organized Judaism was already extant in New Testament times. Galatians 1:13-14 is translated “the Jews' religion” in the KJV, etc., and is derived from a Greek word that simply means “to live as Jew.” The “Jews' religion” as once practiced by Paul was Pharisaism, which evolved into full-fledged Judaism after the books of the New Testament were completed.

3. Dr. Joseph Herman Hertz was the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain until his death in 1946. Hertz wrote the foreword to the 1934 Soncino edition of The Babylonian Talmud (the first usable English translation of the Talmud).

4. Halakhah (or halacha, halachah) is a Jewish term used broadly for religious law—including biblical, Talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as various customs and traditions.

5. According to Avi ben Mordechai, a former Talmud-observing Jew, the rabbis justify their “fence around the [written] Torah” from Genesis 26:5, where it says Abraham “kept My [God's] charge.” The rabbis say the phrase means “protected My protections”—indicating a need to protect the Law with a “fence.” Mordechai notes that because the rabbis are “bent on seeing their oral tradition in everything, they perform what is called biblical eisegesis”—which means that they “read their predetermined views into texts like [Genesis 26:5], teaching that Abraham made fences around [God's] commandments” (Galatians—A Torah-Based Commentary in First-Century Hebraic Context, p. 249; emphasis added). But Abraham simply did what the Hebrew says, he protected or guarded God's laws and commandments in a heartfelt desire to obey them.


1. Hellenism refers broadly to ancient Greek culture—covering everything from religion, philosophy and ideals to language, education, politics and the arts. The uninhibited pursuit of knowledge, logic and reason was its centerpiece. The spread of Hellenistic civilization was primarily the result of the conquests of Alexander the Great.

2. A Jewish scholar and historian, Dr. Jacob Z. Lauterbach (1873-1942) was a prolific writer; his Rabbinic Essays were published in 1989 by the Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati, Ohio.

3. Philo of Alexandria (20 BC to 50 AD), a Hellenistic Jewish writer and philosopher, is noted for his infusion of Greek logic into the growing Judaic religion. Philo utilized Greek logic as a way of “defending and justifying” the Jewish religion—as a way to harmonize Greek philosophy with Jewish exegesis ( Through his writings, “Philo deduces formally from the Old Testament all those philosophical doctrines which he had in fact appropriated from Greek philosophers.” Philo's goal, it appears, was to persuade his fellow Jews that Greek philosophy was neither hostile nor opposed to the teachings of the Jewish religion (earlyjewishwritings. com/philo.html).

4. From the Hebrew hasid (“pious”), Hasidim referred originally to Jewish “Puritans” of the Maccabean period; the term is also used of followers of “Hasidic Judaism,” a Jewish movement which originated in Eastern Europe in the 18th century (see Appendix Five).

5. Some scholars see the synagogue system of worship as contrary to the centrality of Temple worship. For example, in his Old Testament History, Charles Pfeiffer explains: “Pre-exilic Judaism looked to the Jerusalem Temple as the focal point of its spiritual life. Worship at local shrines, or 'high places,' continued through much of Israelite history, but the prophets, and the kings who supported them, abolished such worship and insisted on the primacy of the Temple. In this way the unity of the God of Israel was emphasized, in contrast to the concept of local gods which was prevalent in the ancient world” (p. 541; emphasis added). Scripture backs up this assertion. For example, Deuteronomy restricts the worship of God to where He had placed His name—the Temple in Jerusalem (Deut. 12:5-7, 11). Likewise, there is a prohibition against offering sacrifices in any other place (verses 13 -14). At the dedication of Solomon's Temple, the children of Israel were directed to Jerusalem as the one place to which they were to seek—to bring their offerings, sacrifices and tithes. They were to pray toward the Temple; and, in times of trouble, they were to look to where God's name had been placed (I Kings 8:29-30, 33, 35, 38, 42-44, 48). Moreover, it was there in Jerusalem where the Temple stood that the people were to come to enquire of the judges and priests in matters of controversy (Deut. 17:8-13).

Still, Jesus and the apostles used the synagogues in order to proclaim the Gospel (Matt. 4:23; Acts 19:8; etc.). But notice Christ's own words: “But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues” (Matt. 10:17). Christ said the synagogues were their synagogues. Jesus also told the Pharisees that they had persecuted the prophets and wise men in “your synagogues” (Matt. 23:34).


1. Contrast the Jews' use of the term rabbi with what Jesus taught: “[The scribes and Pharisees love] salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' But you are not to be called Rabbi; for one is your Master, the Christ, and all of you are brethren” (Matt. 23:7-8).


1. The ancient rabbis developed 39 categories of “work” prohibited on the Sabbath—allegedly based on the written Torah:

sowing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, selecting, grinding, sifting, kneading, baking, shearing wool, washing wool, beating wool, dyeing wool, spinning, weaving, making two loops, weaving two threads, separating two threads, tying, untying, sewing two stitches, tearing, trapping, slaughtering, flaying, salting meat, curing hide, scraping hide, cutting hide up, writing two letters, erasing two letters, building (construction), tearing down (demolition), extinguishing a fire, kindling a fire, hitting with a hammer, and carrying (transporting an object from a private domain to a public domain).

Literally hundreds of oppressive Sabbath prohibitions are based on these 39 categories; moreover, there are hundreds of additional prohibitions not covered by these categories—such as the laws describing what may be handled or touched on the Sabbath; how far one may walk on the Sabbath; what may be eaten on the Sabbath; etc.

2. BT designates the Babylonian Talmud; Sanhedrin, in this case, designates the particular tractate; 88b is the folio number.

3. In the event that specific instruction or direction was needed apart from what was provided by the Scriptures, a method was established by which the children of Israel could enquire after God Himself. For example, Moses judged the people in various matters, even enquiring of God when necessary (Ex. 18:13-16). A similar approach was instituted once Israel settled into the Promised Land: “If a matter is too hard for you in judgment [too difficult or questionable to be handled locally] . being matters of strife within your gates, then you shall arise and go up to the place [Jerusalem] which the Lord your God shall choose. And you shall come to the priests, [of] the Levites, and to the judge that shall be in those days, and ask. And they shall declare to you the sentence of judgment” (Deut. 17:8-9).

While this passage does not specifically mention enquiring of God, the context makes it clear that God was directing the judgment. At times, urim was used to discern God's will in a matter. “And he [Joshua] shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask for him according to the judgment of urim before the Lord” (Num. 27:21). Scripture does not describe just how urim (and thummim) worked; nevertheless, God was able to communicate His will to the High Priest through these devices.

Prophets were also used to enquire of God (I Sam. 9:9; 28:6). But at no time did God sanction the use of a so-called “oral Torah” in order to establish His will in an uncertain matter.

4. Mainstream Christians typically misapply this passage to makes it appear that Moses was the giver of a harsh, unbending set of laws that condemn and kill—while Jesus substituted grace and truth in place of the Law. But nothing could be further from the truth. The KJV is misleading; the word “but” implies opposition, and should read “while.” The Law is not opposed to grace, nor is grace opposed to the Law. Rather, the two work together. By defining sin (Rom. 7:7), the Law guides the believer in God's way of life; on the other hand, grace makes it possible for the believer to have forgiveness in the event the Law is transgressed (Rom. 3:23-25).


1. Mordechai's statement is reminiscent of what Paul wrote concerning his experience as a Pharisee—that he had lived according to the strictest sect of the Jews' religion (Acts 26:5; the Greek word means rigorous and exacting).

2. Complicating matters is the fact that the ancient rabbis have expanded the definition of work to include creative actions, or melachah, in which one creates or exercises control or dominion over one's environment. Melachah is discussed in detail in Chapter Seven; see - (No longer available)

3. The absurd prohibition against squeezing a lemon on the Sabbath is found in Solomon Ganzfried's Code of Jewish Law, p. 91; see Appendix Two.

4. The Anchor Bible Dictionary adds this interesting comment: “At times Jesus is interpreted to have abrogated or suspended the Sabbath commandment on the basis of the controversies brought about by Sabbath healings and other acts. Careful analysis of the respective passages does not seem to give credence to this interpretation. The action of plucking the ears of grain on the Sabbath by the disciples is particularly important in this matter. Jesus makes a foundational pronouncement at that time in a chiastically structured statement of antithetic parallelism: 'The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath' (Mark 2:27). The disciples' act of plucking the grain infringed against the rabbinic halakhah [religious laws] of minute casuistry in which it was forbidden to reap, thresh, winnow and grind on the Sabbath (Sabb. 7.2). Here again, rabbinic Sabbath halakhah is rejected, as in other Sabbath conflicts. Jesus reforms the Sabbath and restores its rightful place as designed in creation, where the Sabbath is made for all mankind and not specifically for Israel, as claimed by normative Judaism (cf Jub. 2:19-20, see D.3). The subsequent logion, 'The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath' (Mark 2:28; Matt. 12:8; Luke 6:5), indicates that man-made Sabbath halakhah does not rule the Sabbath, but that the Son of Man as Lord determines the true meaning of the Sabbath. The Sabbath activities of Jesus are neither hurtful provocations nor mere protests against rabbinic legal restrictions, but are part of Jesus' essential proclamation of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God in which man is taught the original meaning of the Sabbath as the recurring weekly proleptic 'day of the Lord' in which God manifests his healing and saving rulership over man” (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 5, pp. 854-855; emphasis added).

5. Regarded as one of Judaism's greatest scholars, Rabbi Moshe ben Mai-mon (1135-1204), or Moses Maimonides, is perhaps best known for his vast work, Mishneh Torah. Quote from (John) Gill's Commentary on Matthew 12:2; matthew-12-2.html.


1. Reprinted from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz's Teshuvah: A Guide for the Newly Observant Jew; Currently living in Jerusalem, Steinsaltz is the author of numerous works that bring traditional Torah scholarship and Hasidic thought to contemporary audiences.

2. From the site As a division of the Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center, operates under the auspices of the Lubavitch World Headquarters. Chabad-Lubavitch is a Hasidic/Kabbalist movement that began in the 1940s in Eastern Europe and Russia. The movement considers itself to be the most “dynamic force” in Jewish life today.





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10. Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (1135-1204), or Moses Maimonides, is in Judaic circles regarded as the preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. Although many of his ideas were opposed by his contemporaries, Maimonides was embraced by later Jewish thinkers. Today, his views are considered a cornerstone of Jewish thought; his 14-volume Mishneh Torah is upheld as an authoritative codification of Talmudic law (

11. Jacobs adds that the evening service of Yom Kippur is actually named after the Kol Nidrei declaration, indicating the importance Judaism places on the ritual. A leading writer on Judaism and Masorti Rabbi, Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom. Found at

12. According to the Talmud, the first-century rabbinic schools of Hillel and Shammai are both correct. Even when their decrees differ, both are considered to be the words of God (BT Erubin, 13b).

13. See Covenant and Chosenness

14. Soble's statement—”The Jewish people and God are wholly one”—is from the Zohar and is typical of Kabbalist philosophy; see Appendix Five.

15. Virtually all English versions of the Babylonian Talmud have been censored to a degree that renders them unreliable. The reason for such censorship is to “soften” passages that would otherwise appear to express hostility and disdain toward non-Jews. The exception is the Steinsaltz edition (1989, unfinished), which retains the original wording. When compared to the popular Soncino Talmud, published in London from 1934 through 1948, the censorship becomes apparent. For example, many passages of the Soncino edition render the Hebrew goyim (Gentiles or non-Jews) as simply “heathen” or “idolaters.” The Steinsaltz edition uses the original Talmudic wording with no attempt to hide the meaning through cosmetic euphemisms (Hoffman, Judaism Discovered, p. 330, footnote 353).

“The [unfinished] out-of-print Random House publication of The Talmud: The Steinsaltz Edition is widely regarded as the most accurate and least redacted of any English language edition and is sought after on that basis by scholars and collectors. Controversial Talmud passages previously obscured, omitted entirely or confined to footnotes in English translations like the Soncino Talmud, receive full exposition in the Steinsaltz Talmud” (

16. See at Jeffrey Spitzer is Chair of the Department of Talmud and Rabbinics at Gann Academy, Waltham, MA.

17. According to Hoffman, this passage is censored in many editions of Maimonides' work (p. 381).

18. Hoffman states that the majority of rabbinic authorities teach that Christianity is idol worship. On this point he references Minchas Elazar, 1:53-3; Yechaveh Da'as, 4:45; Darchei Teshuvah, 150:2; and Tzitz Eliezer, 14:91.

Concerning Jesus Himself, the Talmud contains several disparaging references. For example, the Talmud claims that Christ and His disciples practiced sorcery and black magic, led Jews astray into idolatry, and were sponsored by foreign, Gentile powers for the purpose of subverting Jewish worship (BT Sanhedrin, 43a. This tractate states: “On Passover eve they hanged Jesus of Nazareth ..... because he practiced sorcery.”). It is also held that Jesus was sexually immoral, worshipped statues of stone, and was cut off from the Jewish people because of wickedness (BT Sanhedrin, 107b; So-tah, 47a). BT Shabbos, 104b, claims that Jesus learned witchcraft in Egypt.

19. From the article “Shemoneh Esreh,” at The Amidah, also known as Shemoneh Esreh, is a collection of 18 benedictions forming the second portion of the Jews' daily prayers (the Shema is the first portion).

20. Birkat HaMinim:

21. The basis for wearing phylacteries was derived from four biblical passages—Exodus 13:9, 16 and Deuteronomy 6:8 and 11:18. But, as is so often the case, the rabbis have misunderstood the spiritual intent behind the scriptural instruction. While the rabbis have arbitrarily chosen a few passages to place inside their tefillin, it should have been obvious that “these words which I command you this day” (Deut. 6:6)—referring to all the laws and commandments given in chapter five—could not possibly be “worn” on one's hand or forehead. Likewise, in Exodus 13, what was to be “bound upon their hands” as “frontlets between their eyes” was the memory of the events of the Feast of Unleavened Bread when God delivered Israel from Egypt (verses 3-8), and the memory of God redeeming the firstborn of both man and beast (verses 11-15).

Thus, upon close examination it becomes clear that the phrase “bind them for a sign upon your hands so that they may be as frontlets [tefillin] between your eyes” is a figure of speech and not a command.

The rabbinic commentator Samuel ben Meir (“Rashbam”)—Rashi's grandson—was wise enough to realize the true meaning of this expression. Commenting on Exodus 13:9, Rashbam wrote: “For a sign upon your hand. According to its plain meaning ..... 'It shall be remembered always as if it had been written upon your hand'—similar to 'he put me as a seal upon your heart' (Cant 8,6) [Song of Solomon 8:6]. Between your eyes. Like a piece of jewelry or gold chain which people put on the forehead for decoration” (; emphasis added). Karaite Jews do not wear phylacteries.

Rashbam rightfully interprets the passage as a metaphor that teaches us to remember the written Torah always and treasure it like a piece of fine jewelry. Indeed, not everything in the Law is to be taken literally. A classic example of this is, “You shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart” (Deut. 10:16). Similar figures of speech are found in the Book of Proverbs: “My son, hear the instruction of your father and forsake not the law of your mother, for they shall be an ornament of grace to your head and chains around your neck” (1:8-9). “Do not let mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them upon the tablet of your heart” (3:3; also see 6:20-21 and 7:2-3).

In light of these verses from Proverbs, the real meaning of the tefillin passages becomes clear: We are to always remember the Law of God as if it were written out in plain sight on our hands; we are to treasure the Torah as a precious jewel one would proudly wear.

22. Leviticus 19:26-28 reads: “You shall not eat anything with the blood. You shall not observe times nor practice witchcraft. You shall not round the hair of your temples, nor [destroy or mar] the edge of your beard. You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you. I am the Lord.” In typical rabbinic fashion, the sages have isolated one aspect of this passage—”You shall not round the hair of your temples, nor mar the edge of your beard.” Talmudic tradition explains this to mean that a man may not shave his beard with a razor with a single blade, since the cutting action of the blade against the skin “mars” the beard.

However, as the context clearly indicates, God is not speaking here of “normal grooming practices,” but of things associated with pagan rituals or necromancy. Note the references to eating food with blood, “observing times,” practicing witchcraft, body laceration for the dead, and tattoos—all of which were prominent in paganism.

In fact, one of the pagan practices of the time was deforming (and plucking) the facial hair and cutting the skin as a part of mourning for the dead. It was also a custom of the heathen to cut or trim their beards and hair into special shapes in honor of a particular pagan deity. To “round the edge of your head” means to cut off the hair around the sides of the head, such as with the pagan “bowl cut” (Unger's Bible Dictionary, “Hair”).

Remember, the Israelites had just come out of Egypt where they had been exposed to numerous pagan rites. This passage is not about grooming or hairstyles—it is a prohibition against pagan practices, the type of false worship the Bible forbids (Deut. 12:30-32).


1. The Greek ekklesia (a composite of “to call” and “out of”) refers to the spiritual body of believers God has called out of the ways of the world (John 17:14-15) and into the Church Jesus built (“I will build My ekklesia,” Matthew 16:18). The term is usually translated church or assembly, and is synonymous with the elect (although elect sometimes refers to physical Israel).

2. This view of the prophecy of Genesis 49:10 is complicated by the fact that, from all appearances, the scepter has on more than one occasion been “removed” from Judah. Did the Jews really govern themselves according to their own civil laws throughout their years of captivity in Babylon? Did not the Jews lose all rights of self-rule under the Syrian oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes? What about Emperor Hadrian's severe prohibitions against the Jews in 135 AD? Clearly, our understanding of Genesis 49:10 is incomplete. At any rate, the Jewish leaders of early first-century Judea believed that the scepter had departed from Judea and that the event signaled the arrival of the Messiah.

3. Thus, the Jewish leaders were forced to appeal to Rome in order to have Jesus put to death (Matt. 27:1-2).

4. Peterson further describes the dismay of the Jewish leaders: “When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them; they covered their heads with ashes and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming, 'Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come' “ (p. 65; Peterson quotes this from M. Lemann's Jesus Before the Sanhedrin, p. 30).

5. According to Peterson, the decline in messianic anticipation among Jews was only just beginning. “A philosophy that ..... had begun [in the early first century] with the failure to recognize the timing of the Messiah's coming [gradually] developed into widespread doubt of the reality of the Messiah” (The Everlasting Tradition, p. 121). In spite of the fact that leading rabbis were well aware of Daniel's prophecies concerning the appearing of the Messiah, there was a consensus among rabbinic scholars that their religion should focus more on the Scriptures than on the coming of the Messiah. The outcome of their approach was easily predictable: “[The rabbis'] decision to no longer trust the precision of prophecy would send shockwaves that continue [even today] to echo throughout Judaism. A philosophy would soon begin [initially among kabbalistic rabbis] where Scripture would take on far more allegorical rather than literal meaning. Eventually, many [Jews] would view the Messiah as a figure of speech for an age of peace and harmony instead of [a literal] Prince of Peace” (p. 121; emphasis added).

About the time the Talmud was finalized and Rabbinical Judaism found its footing, the promise of a personal Messiah began to give way to the idea of a “messianic age of enlightenment.” In one of several similar passages, the Talmud notes: “All of the predestined dates for redemption have passed [without the Messiah's appearance] and the matter [of salvation] now depends only on repentance and good deeds” (Rabbi Rabh, BT Sanhedrin, 97b). Salvation, once clearly linked to the Messiah, became the domain of rabbis and their study of the Talmud.

The Jews' de-emphasis of messianism would have far-reaching consequences. “[Mainstream] Christianity would later follow [the rabbis'] lead by spiritualizing a great many themes of the Bible, including the nation of Israel [and the reality of a messianic kingdom on earth]” (Peterson, p. 121). In turn, this would play into the hands of those who espoused “replacement theology,” wherein the Jews are denied a literal role in the age to come. Today, Reform Jews in particular believe in a “messianic age” as opposed to a literal, “embodied Messiah.”

6. In John one, it is obvious that the Jewish religious leaders thought John might be the Messiah, which he denied (verse 20). Verse 21 shows that they were also looking for an Elijah-figure and one they called “the Prophet.” (Apparently, the religionists did not understand that “the Prophet” of Deuteronomy 18:15 was a reference to the Messiah.) It is interesting to contrast the cynical, self-preserving approach of the Jewish leaders with the open, positive and hopeful response of Jesus' earliest followers (verses 3749).

7. The miracle of Lazarus being raised to life was incontestable, as the Jewish leaders had their own witnesses of the event (John 11:45-46). Yet, the religionists no doubt dismissed Jesus' miracles as sorcery, reminding themselves of the wonders performed by Pharaoh's magicians just prior to the Exodus. Surely they recalled Moses' warning about false prophets performing “wonders” in order to lead people astray (Deut. 13:1-3). Indeed, from their skewed perspective, Jesus was doing exactly that—leading the people away from the laws and traditions of the Pharisees.

8. The Greek of John 11:48 actually reads “this place.” While most scholars take this as a reference to the Temple, J. W. McGarvey notes: “It is more likely that 'place' refers to their seats in the Sanhedrin, which they would be likely to lose if the influence of Jesus became, as they feared, the dominant power. They feared then that the Romans would, by removing them, take away the last vestige of [Jewish] civil and ecclesiastical authority.....” (McGarvey's Commentary;” John 11:48”).

9. We might ask the same question as did the prophet Jeremiah: “In their calamity, the 'wise' are ashamed and afraid—for they have despised the Word of God. What wisdom could they possibly possess?” (paraphrased from Jer. 8:9). As this book has amply demonstrated, Rabbinical Judaism holds the Scriptures in utter contempt through its unabashed preference for humanly-devised traditions. It is exactly as Hoffman has noted: “Everything about Orthodox Judaism is either a distortion or a falsification of the Old Testament because it is based on . [human] traditions that void the Old Testament.” (Judaism Discovered, p. 145).

In Romans two, Paul warns Jews about judging Gentiles, noting the Jews' own proclivity for breaking God's laws and commandments. Here again, the application of the passage to Pharisaic hypocrisy and self-righteousness is most striking. “You who call yourself a Jew [Pharisee]— you who allegedly make your stand on the Law, and boast in God, and have knowledge of His will, and approve of the wonderful things revealed in the Law—you indeed boast of being a guide to the blind, a light for those in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, because you possess in the Scriptures the embodiment of knowledge and truth. You, who presume to teach others, do you not first teach yourself?..... You who boast in the Law, are you dishonoring God through your failure to practice the Law? For through you and your disobedience the name of God is blasphemed among Gentiles” (paraphrased from Rom. 2:17-24).

10. Paul often uses the terms Israel and Jew interchangeably; insofar as the context of Romans 9-11 is concerned, it was the Jewish leadership that rejected Jesus as the Messiah and sought a “form of righteousness” through Pharisaic works. The so-called “lost tribes” of Israel—the “other sheep” of which Jesus spoke in John 10:16—were not involved, having long been scattered among various Gentile nations (see Appendix Three). Thus, the author uses Jew throughout these passages with the understanding that, in the age to come, all of Israel will have salvation and play a pivotal role in the millennial kingdom.

11. See Appendix Four for detailed evidence that both Jesus and Paul fully upheld the validity of the laws and commandments of God.

12. Avi ben Mordechai notes that one reason Paul's writings are difficult to understand is that he typically employed an established scholarly style of teaching based on the use of ellipsis—a sort of intellectual shorthand marked by missing words or phrases which required the reader to make interpretive assumptions (Galatians, p. 49, footnote 1).

13. Quoted from Leviticus 18.5 (also see Ezek. 20:11, 13, 21; etc.).

14. Stern adds: “Most Christians . suppose that erga nomou, literally 'works of law,' a [phrase] which appears three times in [Gal. 2:16], must mean 'actions done in obedience to the Torah.' But this is wrong. One of the best-kept secrets of the New Testament is that when [Paul] writes nomos he frequently does not mean law [in the sense of the Torah], but legal-ism” (Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 536; “Gal. 2:16”). Stern carefully notes Paul's overarching validation and defense of the Law, describing legalism as the perversion of the Torah into a mechanical set of rules (p. 537). While such a legalistic application of the Law was no doubt a problem in the early Church, Stern unfortunately stops short of applying the phrase “works of law” to Pharisaism.

15. Quoting God Himself, the prophet Ezekiel wrote: “[The one who has] walked in My statutes, and has kept My ordinances to deal truly, he is righteous, he shall surely live” (Ezek. 18:9). King David wrote: “My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness” (Psa. 119:172). As noted earlier, God declared through Moses: “And you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall [find life] in them” (Lev. 18:5).

It must be understood, however, that obedience to God's laws and commandments cannot earn one salvation—for reconciliation and salvation are free gifts (Rom. 6:23; 11:5-6; Eph. 2:5, 8; etc.). Rather, obedience must be viewed as a precondition; God simply cannot grant salvation to one who is opposed to His way of life as defined by His Law—for only the doers of the Law shall be justified by God (Rom. 2:13).

16. A better rendering of Galatians 3:10 would be, “For as many as are relying on [Pharisaic] works of law are under a curse, because it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things that have been written in the Book of the Law to do them.' “

17. Thus, Gentiles (the elect) are no longer “strangers from the covenants” (Eph. 2:12), but “fellow heirs” (Eph. 3:6) of the promises made to Abraham (Gal. 3:28-29).

18. Two additional passages are important in this regard:

“When all these things have come upon you—both the blessings and the curses which I have set before you, for you will remember My warnings once you are scattered among all the nations where I, the Lord your God, will have sent you—you, and your children, will return to Me with all your heart and with all your soul and obey all that I have commanded you today in the Law. Then I, the Lord your God, will turn away your captivity; I will have compassion on you and gather you from all the nations where you have been scattered. Even if you have been carried into the outermost parts of the heavens, I will gather you from there. And I, the Lord your God, will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. And I will bless you and multiply and prosper you even above that which your fathers enjoyed. And I, the Lord your God, will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your children—so that you will love Me with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deut. 30:1-8; author's paraphrase). Also:

“Thus says the Lord your God, 'I will gather you from among the people and assemble you out of the nations where you have been scattered. And I will give you the land of Israel.... I will give you a single heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will remove your stony heart of disbelief and give you a heart of flesh, so that you may live according to My laws and commandments. And you shall be My people, and I will be your God” (Ezek. 11:17-20; author's paraphrase).

19. According to Ariel, modern Jewish views of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God are terribly watered down—even to the point of denying the reality of a true messianic age. “Reform Judaism [has] rejected traditional Jewish messianism. Its liturgical changes include the removal from the prayer book of all references to the Messiah and to an eventual return to the Land of Israel. The idea of the [literal] personal Messiah [has been] reinterpreted as the longing for the universal brotherhood within the context of ethical monotheism. More recently, the Reform concept of messianism has come to mean the result of human effort on behalf of creating the perfect world.... This is a messianic age without a Messiah—the fulfillment of the particular destiny of the Jewish people in a modern, universalistic mode” (What Do Jews Believe?, p. 245; emphasis added).

The Orthodox view is no better. “Conservative Judaism understands the body of rabbinic ideas on messianism as elaborate metaphors generated by deep-seated human and communal needs.” Thus, the prophet Daniel's “stone cut out without hands” is only an elaborate metaphor; the elect will inherit a symbolic kingdom; and eternal life is but a myth. Rather than being taken literally, as was once the case, ideas of a messianic age now “express the longing for a time of universal peace and social justice and for the ingathering of all Jews to Israel” (p. 245).

In Conservative Judaism, the idea of a new Temple to which the Messiah might come has become largely outdated. God's “final judgment” on the nations is no longer taken literally, but is now seen as the “idea of God's justice.” Ultimately, on the question of the Messiah, the Conservative credo is agnostic: “We do not know when the Messiah will come, nor whether He will be a charismatic human figure or [merely] a symbol of the redemption of humankind from the evils of the world. Through the doctrine of a messianic figure, Judaism teaches us that every individual human being must live as if he or she, individually, has the responsibility to bring about the messianic age” (p. 246).

Judaism's lackluster approach to a messianic age is perhaps summed up in this final note from Ariel: “Despite centuries of active messianic hope, Judaism is [today] more comfortable with deferred than attainable messian-ism.... The broadest definition of [modern] Jewish messianism is hope for a better future for humanity” (p. 246).

20. As Zechariah notes, the Jews will come to understand that Jesus is the one “they” had killed. Paul wrote that the Jews were the ones “who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets” (I Thess. 2:15). Yet, it must be understood that these are indictments against the Jewish leaders—not the people as a whole. In one of His encounters with the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said that they fully shared in the guilt of their fathers—the ones who had killed the prophets—because they were of the same mind and spirit (Matt. 23:29-39). The emphasis was on the leaders, not the people.

Did the People of the Land actually consent to Jesus' murder? Recall the words of the Jews' ancestors: “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt. 27:25). The mob that uttered these profound words was, however, not representative of the People of the Land—let alone every succeeding generation of Jews. As Galen Peterson notes, this mob was “raised up by the leaders who opposed [Jesus]. In fact, on [just] the previous day, the [Jewish] leaders were concerned that the many followers of Jesus would cause an uproar if He were to be arrested publicly (Matt. 26:5)” (The Everlasting Tradition, pp. 100-101; emphasis added). Matthew 27:20 confirms that “the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to demand [the release of] Barabbas, and [that the Romans were] to destroy Jesus.”

Note also that just five days before His crucifixion the people gave Jesus a very enthusiastic welcome to Jerusalem. “And the multitudes, those who were going before and those who were following behind, were shouting, saying, 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!' Now when He entered Jerusalem, the entire city was moved, saying, 'Who is this?' And the multitudes said, 'This is Jesus the prophet, the one Who is from Nazareth of Galilee' “ (Matt. 21:8-11). Clearly, the Common People supported Jesus.

Obviously, the Romans killed Jesus—but they did so at the behest of a corrupt Jewish leadership. However, Jesus stated that He willingly laid down His life for all mankind (John 10:18)—for we have all sinned and are all guilty in requiring Christ's death.

Nevertheless, the Jews' fateful cry—”His blood be on us and on our children”—has had profound consequences. As a people, the Jews have no doubt been greatly persecuted, suffering repeated periods of exile and enduring such horrors as the Holocaust. Some past Jewish authorities have, however, been willing to acknowledge that the Jews have suffered because of their own sins. For example, the following quotation from a Karaite Jew laments the fact that, after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, Jews were unable to keep the Passover in the land of Israel as required. Note the clear admission of sin: “Today . by reason of our many sins, we are scattered over the four corners of the earth; we are dispersed in the lands of the Gentiles; we are soiled with their ritual uncleanness and unable to reach the House of the Lord.... [Because we are in exile and no longer in the land of Israel, the] ordinance of the Passover sacrifice no longer applies to us, and the reason for this is our fathers' exceeding disobedience to God and our own following in their sinful footsteps” (Leon Nemoy, Karaite Anthology, p. 206; emphasis added).

But as Zechariah's prophecy wonderfully shows, the Jewish people will bitterly repent—not only for what their fathers have done, but for their own ongoing rejection of Jesus as the Messiah and for having elevated the Talmud above Scripture.