- A Sect of Judaism (Part 2)
and Prophecy in Judaism
and Christianity Introduction and History
of Judaism Continued
Objections and Historicity of Daniel (P. 1)
of Daniel (P. 2) & Judeo-Christian Syncretism
Few Words on Gnosticism
- A Sect of Judaism (P. 1)
- A Sect of Judaism (P. 2) & Prophecy in Judaism
Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 1)
Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 2)
of Messianic Qualifications & the Resurrection of Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus (Part 2)
Conclusions and Overall Comparisons
Sufferings of Eyewitnesses
of Mystical Religions to Judeo-Christianity
Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 1)
Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 2)
Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 3)
Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 4)
Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 5)
Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 6)
Introduction | Section 1
| Section 2 | Section
(Continued from previous section.)
2. The concept of sacrificing a man being required by God
in order to provide atonement.
Some may object to the method of atonement through which Christians
claim Jesus redeemed us, specifically, Jesus offering Himself
as a sacrifice for our sins. Of course the Old Testament is
clear in saying that sacrifice is necessary in order to provide
atonement for our sin. However, it has been argued that the
Old Testament establishes that God does not permit a human
sacrifice, especially for the purposes of atonement.
In the sense of the occult meaning of human sacrifice this
is of course true. While God did require the Jews to offer
animal sacrifices under the Mosaic covenant, He did not, call
for the sacrificial death of any humans. However, the argument
that human sacrificial death is an abomination to God is not
supportable by the Jewish scriptures. Several examples can
be cited to disprove the arguments that the Old Testament
is prohibitive of the idea of a man (specifically, Jesus)
dying as a sacrifice to atone for our sins.
Consider Numbers 25.
Numbers 25:1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the
people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their
gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger
of the LORD was kindled against Israel. 4 And the LORD
said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and
hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce
anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. 5 And
Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his
men that were joined unto Baalpeor. 6 And, behold, one
of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren
a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight
of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who
were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron
the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation,
and took a javelin in his hand; 8 And he went after
the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through,
the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the
plague was stayed from the children of Israel. 9 And those
that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand. 10
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,11 Phinehas,
the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned
my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was
zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children
of Israel in my jealousy. 12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give
unto him my covenant of peace: 13 And he shall have it, and
his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood;
because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement
for the children of Israel. 14 Now the name of the
Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the
Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of
a chief house among the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the
Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter
of Zur; he was head over a people, and of a chief house in
In Numbers 25, God's people began to join themselves with
Moabite women. This also led to Israel's committing idolatry
by participating in the sacrifices and sacrificial meals of
the Moabites to their god Baalpeor. This enraged God's jealousy
against Israel and God commanded Moses to hang the chiefs
of Israel before the Lord so that God's anger would be turned
away from the people. And so, Moses commanded the judges of
Israel to slay those who had joined themselves to Baalpeor.
At this point an Israelite named Zimri took a Midianite woman
in the sight of Moses and the congregation of Israel. Seeing
this Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest,
rose up, took a javelin and went after Zimri following him
into the tent and thrust both Zimri and the Midianite woman
with the javelin, killing them.
This act by Phinehas provided atonement (Numbers 25:14) for
the children of Israel and turned God's plague away from them
by killing the guilty party. This instance, therefore, indicates
that atonement between God and man can be provided by the
putting to death of a man (and in this case a woman as well).
Of course, this was not the normal manner of atonement prescribed
by the law. In the books of Exodus and Leviticus various protocols
for sacrificial atonement are given to the people of Israel.
There were different types of atoning sacrifices. Though most
included a bull or goat that was not blemished, Exodus 30:14-16
states that Israel was required to give an offering of a set
amount of money to the Lord as atonement for their souls.
When we compile the requirements made by law for various atoning
sacrifices with Number 25 we can see that in the Old Testament
atonement between God and man for man's sins was made through
the sacrifice of unblemished animals, payment of a set price,
and by the death of a man (Zimri and Cozbi, the Midianite
woman). The Christian view of how Jesus provided atonement
between God and man for the sins of mankind does not violate
the Old Testament, but instead fits well within the various
types of Old Testament mechanisms for atonement.
Additionally, Isaiah 53 also presents the notion of God's
servant being an offering for the sins of the people.
Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom
is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before
him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground:
he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him,
there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised
and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with
grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised,
and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten
of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our
transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the
chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes
we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have
turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid
on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and
he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought
as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her
shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken
from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation?
for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the
transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he
made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his
death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit
in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him;
he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an
offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong
his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his
hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall
be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant
justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore
will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide
the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his
soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors;
and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the
We will revisit this passage later as we develop the Jewish
understanding of the Messiah. For now, we must note that Isaiah
53 clearly depicts the idea of a man dying as an offering
for sin. This notion is expressed the clearest in verses 6-12
in the above passage.
Our discussion of this particular issue would not be complete
without a look at Genesis 22.
Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things,
that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and
he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thy
son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee
into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt
offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee
of. 3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled
his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac
his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose
up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4 Then
on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place
afar off. 5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye
here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship,
and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the
burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took
the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them
together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father,
and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he
said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb
for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God
will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they
went both of them together. 9 And they came to the place
which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there,
and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid
him on the altar upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched
forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11
And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and
said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And
he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou
any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God,
seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from
me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and
behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns:
and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for
a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham
called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said
to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. 15
And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven
the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith
the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast
not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing
I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy
seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is
upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of
his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the
earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. 19 So
Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and
went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
Before we get into this amazing passage we should first set
the stage as far as God's relationship with Abraham prior
to Genesis 22. Genesis 12:1-3 records Abraham leaving his
household and country of origin at God's request. Also we
see that God promises to Abraham that he will make a great
nation of his descendents. In Genesis 15:4-5, God promises
to provide Abraham, who was at that time childless with a
son through whom God would fulfill His promise to Abraham.
But, in Genesis 16, Abraham's wife Sarah has an idea that
her maidservant Hagar could bear Abraham an heir. Arrangements
are made and Hagar bears Abraham (then 86 years old) a son
named Ishmael, who is put away from Abraham's household. Then
in Genesis 17:1-10, God makes a covenant with Abraham in accordance
with His promise to give him a son and that he will be the
father of a great nation. This covenant is sealed with the
sign of circumcision.
At this point in time Abraham is 99 years old and his wife,
Sarah is 90 (Genesis 17:17) and they do not have any children
together. However, God promises in Genesis 17:16 that Sarah
will bear a son to Abraham, through whom Abraham's descendents
will come and eventually develop into a great nation.
(NOTE: God's promise and covenant with Abraham to bless his
descendents leads to God's bringing them out of Egypt in the
Book of Exodus and initiating a covenant with them in Exodus
19-24, which we looked at earlier. Genesis 18-19 is the record
of God's visit with Abraham along with two angels and the
destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which we looked at earlier.)
Then in Genesis 21:1-3, Sarah conceives and bears Abraham
a son in his old age. This son is named Isaac. It is in this
context that God comes to Abraham in Genesis 22 and tells
him to offer his son Isaac to Him as a sacrifice.
Now this is a strange request on God's part for several reasons.
First, it seems to negate God's promise to make Abraham a
great nation through his son Isaac. If Abraham kills Isaac
as a sacrifice Isaac would be dead and would, therefore, not
be able to provide descendents through whom God would fulfill
His promise to Abraham.
Second, God is commanding Abraham to kill his only son (Genesis
22:2) as a sacrifice. Two things are noteworthy about this
command. One, Abraham offering his only son as a sacrifice
to God is eerily familiar with the New Testament claims that
Jesus is the only begotten son of God and that God willed
for Him to be a sacrifice to atone for the sins of Abraham's
descendents, Israel (as well as the Gentile nations). But
more to the point, it shows that the idea that the sacrificial
death of a man as an offering is far from an abomination to
God, it actually originates from Him. And even though God
ultimately does not have Abraham go through with this sacrifice,
God still expected Abraham to have no problem with the concept
when commanded by God sacrifice his son. Therefore, since
God expected Abraham not to have a problem with this or reject
such a suggestion as evil, neither can critics of Christianity
accuse the Christian notion of a human sacrifice of being
an evil abomination.
We will leave it to our reader to consider the implications
the similarities of Genesis 22 and the New Testament claims
about Jesus Christ. But, it is interesting to consider that
Christianity proposes exactly that it was God's plan for one
of the Persons of the Trinity to become incarnate as a man
and die as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of Abraham's
descendents Israel (as well as for the Gentile nations) and
that in Genesis 22 God makes this same request of Abraham
of his only son. It is also worthy to note that Genesis 22
was written over 12 centuries before Jesus Christ lived and
died, making it an interesting at least theoretical case of
prophecy as far as this investigation is concerned.
Nonetheless, given all of these scriptural evidences it seems
the argument that the Old Testament is prohibitive of a sacrificial
death of a man as atonement for sins must be dismissed.
1. The Christian Messianic claim concerning Jesus of Nazareth.
At this point we have covered the last four of the five items
from our list of issues that distinguish Judaism from Christianity.
For reference here is that list:
1. The Christian messianic claim concerning Jesus of Nazareth.
2. The concept that sacrificial death of a man provides atonement
between God and man for mans sins.
3. The Christian trinitarian view of God.
4. The Christian view that the Mosaic Covenant and Law have
been replaced by another covenant.
5. Christianity's embrace and incorporation of pagan religious
beliefs, practices, and customs.
First, we have agreed with item number 5 that Christianity
should not incorporate pagan religious beliefs, practices,
and customs. We have referenced several other articles that
demonstrate that the New Testament is prohibitive of such
Second, we have demonstrated that the Jewish scriptures themselves
expected and required that the Mosaic covenant would be replaced
by another Jewish Prophet who would function in a similar
role as Moses who was a mediator, and intercessor, and a lawgiver
between God and His people Israel.
Third, we showed that the Jewish scriptures themselves reveal
a Trinitarian view of God as one God (Jehovah) in a plurality
of distinct Persons. And fourth, we showed that the idea that
the sacrificial death of man could atone for sin is included
in and originates from the Jewish scriptures themselves.
However, having accomplished all of this we still have not
reconciled Judaism and Christianity. The chief difference
between these two religious views is listed as item number
1 in our list above. It is the Christian claim that Jesus
of Nazareth is the Messiah, which is the essential and defining
difference between Christians (whether ethnically Jewish or
Gentile) and non-Christian Jews. In order to demonstrate that
Christianity is the correct Jewish understanding of God, thereby
making the two religions into a single harmonious religious
system, we must determine whether Jesus of Nazareth really
is the Jewish Messiah.
Demonstrating that Jesus is the Messiah first requires that
we demonstrate that Judaism does expect and require a Messiah,
and that the Messiah is a person (as opposed to an age or
some sort of personal, internal understanding as some modern
Jewish groups have come to believe.) This task is not altogether
that difficult. We do not even need to rely upon Christian
argumentation about the Old Testament. Primarily we can point
to examples of prominent Jewish leaders and Messianic movements
both from ancient and modern times, which demonstrate that
Judaism itself recognizes the need for a Messianic figure.
There are several useful examples in this respect. We will
begin with Shabbetaianism.
In the 1600's a movement known as Shabbataianism developed
and spread in European and Middle Eastern Jewish communities.
It was started by a man named Shabbetai Tzevi, who proclaimed
himself to be the Jewish Messiah at age 22. He died in 1676,
but not before he had gathered a large following of Jews,
who accepted his teachings and his claim to be the Messiah
based in part upon a false prophetic document, which indicated
that he was the Messiah.
"Shabbetai Tzevi - born July 23, 1626, Smyrna, Ottoman
Turkey [now Izmir, Tur.] died 1676 , Dulcigno, Alb. also spelled
Sabbatai Zebi, or Zevi, a false messiah who developed a
mass following and threatened rabbinical authority in Europe
and the Middle East." - Britannica.com
"Shabbetai Tzevi - As a young man, Shabbetai steeped
himself in the influential body of Jewish mystical writings
known as the Kabbala. His extended periods of ecstasy
and his strong personality combined to attract many disciples,
and at the age of 22 he proclaimed himself the messiah."
"Shabbetai Tzevi - Driven from Smyrna by the aroused
rabbinate, he journeyed to Salonika (now Thessalon’ki), an
old Kabbalistic centre, and then to Constantinople (now Istanbul).
There he encountered an esteemed and forceful Jewish preacher
and Kabbalist, Abraham ha-Yakini, who possessed a false prophetic
document affirming that Shabbetai was the messiah. Shabbetai
then traveled to Palestine and after that to Cairo, where
he won over to his cause Raphael Halebi, the wealthy and powerful
treasurer of the Turkish governor." - Britannica.com
"Shabbetai Tzevi - In September, however, he was brought
before the sultan in Adrianople and, having been previously
threatened with torture, became converted to Islam. The
placated sultan renamed him Mehmed Efendi, appointed him his
personal doorkeeper, and provided him with a generous allowance.
All but his most faithful or self-seeking disciples were disillusioned
by his apostasy. Eventually, Shabbetai fell out of favour
and was banished, dying in Albania. The movement that developed
around Shabbetai Tzevi became known as Shabbetaianism."
As the last quote clearly affirms, upon being threatened with
torture Tzevi converted to Islam, later fell out of favor,
was banished, and died in Albania. Nonetheless his faithful
disciples remained true to his teachings even after he became
a Muslim. And prior to his conversion, a large following of
Jews had accepted Tzevi as the Jewish Messiah.
The example of Tzevi points to a recognition of the need for
a Jewish Messiah within Jewish mysticism and that a large
number of Jews at least in Europe and the Middle East during
the 1600's also agreed to the need for a Jewish Messiah. However,
Jewish recognition of the need for a Messiah is not limited
to Kabbalist Judaism. Our next examples will establish that
orthodox Judaism of modern and ancient times also recognizes
the need for the coming of a Messiah figure.
The Temple Mount Faithful
On the web at the address http://www.templemountfaithful.org/
you will find the website of an organization called the Temple
Mount and Land of Israel Faithful. They are lead by a man
named Gershon Solomon, a former officer in the Israel Defense
Force who participated in the capture of the Temple Mount
and Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. Additionally, his family
has lived in Jerusalem for ten generations and he is descended
from Rabbi Avraham Solomon Zalman Zoref. The rest of his biographical
information is available at http://www.templemountfaithful.org/leader.htm)
As far as beliefs go, the Temple Mount and Land of Israel
Faithful is an orthodox Jewish group. They continue to practice
the Mosaic sacrificial code and hope to be able to do so in
the near future at a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem.
"The Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement is
dedicated to the fulfillment of every detail of G-d's commandments
as recorded in the TANACH." - Temple Mount and Land of Israel
What is of interest about this group, as far as this article
is concerned, can be found online under their vision page
"It is the view of the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful
that the redemption will proceed in an orderly fashion according
to G-d's plan. First is the foundation of the modern state
of Israel and the miraculous victories that G-d gave the people
of Israel in the wars against 22 Arab enemy states. Second
is the regathering of the people of Israel from all over the
world to the Promised Land. Third is the liberation and consecration
of the Temple Mount and fourth is the building of the Third
Temple. The final step is the coming of the King of Israel,
Messiah Ben David." - Temple Mount and Land of Israel
Although they do not believe that the Messiah has come yet,
this quote from the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful
website confirms the expectancy among orthodox Jewish groups
for a Messiah. The Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful
refer to this person as the King of Israel and the Messiah
Ben David. These terms will be brought up again later.
Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Yet another modern example of orthodox Jewish groups, which
accept the idea of the Messiah is that of the Lubavitch Hasidic
movement, which was lead by Menachem Mendel Schneerson for
44 years prior to his death in July of 1994.
"Schneerson, Menachem Mendel - Russian-born rabbi (b.
April 14, 1902, Nikolayev, Russia [now in Ukraine]--d. June
12, 1994, New York, N.Y.), was a towering figure in Orthodox
Judaism and for 44 years the charismatic spiritual
leader of the New York-based Lubavitch Hasidic movement. He
built a religious empire from the remnants of a Russian
flock, whose numbers had been decimated to a few thousand
by the Holocaust, into a powerful following of some 200,000
believers worldwide. Schneerson attracted members by using
several strategies: converted campers (dubbed "mitzvah tanks")
that served as recruitment centres canvassed New York City;
toll-free telephone numbers, satellite television hookups,
and faxes of Talmudic disquisitions were made available; full-page
newspaper advertisements were published; and Schneerson himself,
a mesmeric figure with piercing blue eyes and a flowing white
beard, dispensed blessings and a crisp new dollar bill to
each Sunday morning visitor. A Sorbonne-educated scholar,
Schneerson became the seventh Lubavitcher grand rabbi in 1950
following the death of his father-in-law. Schneerson, though
he had not traveled beyond Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the site
of the Lubavitch World Headquarters, in 37 years, had a
strong influence on Israeli politics, both within the Knesset
(parliament) and among the electorate." - Britannica.com
The interesting thing about Schneerson is that many of his
followers among the Lubavitcher movement either considered
him to be the Messiah or simply thought he might be the Messiah.
"Schneerson, Menachem Mendel - Because many of his
followers revered Schneerson as the potential Messiah,
his death caused great consternation, especially when his
hoped-for resurrection failed to take place. He was childless
and did not designate a successor." - Britannica.com
It is also interesting to note that in connection with their
expectation that Schneerson might be the Messiah, after he
died Lubavitcher Jews hoped that he would be resurrected.
So, now we see not only the recognition of the Jewish need
for a Messianic figure, but also the connection of the Messiah
to the idea of resurrection from the dead. But no survey showing
the prevailing Jewish belief in a Messiah figure would be
complete without Simon Bar Kokhba and Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph.
Simon Bar Kokhba and Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph
Simon Bar Kokhba (or Kokba) is an example of an ancient Jewish
false Messiah, but an example of the Jewish recognition of
the need for a Messiah nonetheless. In 132 A.D. Bar Kokhba
led the Jewish revolt against the Romans and was eventually
killed in 135 A.D.
"Bar Kokhba - died AD 135 original name Simeon Bar
Kosba, Kosba also spelled Koseba, Kosiba , or Kochba , also
called Bar Koziba Jewish leader who led a bitter but unsuccessful
revolt (AD 132-135) against Roman dominion in Palestine."
"Bar Kokhba - The war became so serious that in the
summer of 134 Hadrian himself came from Rome to visit the
battlefield and summoned the governor of Britain, Gaius Julius
Severus, to his aid with 35,000 men of the Xth Legion. Jerusalem
was retaken, and Severus gradually wore down and constricted
the rebels' area of operation, until in 135 Bar Kokhba
was himself killed at Betar, his stronghold in southwest
Jerusalem." - Britannica.com
The significance of Bar Kokhba's Messianic claim does not
end with him. A famous and influential Jewish rabbi, considered
to be one of the fathers of rabbinic Judaism, perhaps the
greatest Jewish scholar of his day and one of the great Jewish
scholars of history, Akiba ben Joseph was involved in the
Bar Kokhba revolt. In fact, the Talmud records that Akiba
believed and actually proclaimed that Bar Kokhba was the Messiah.
"Bar Kokba, Simon - or Simon Bar Cochba (kk«b) (KEY)
[Heb.,=son of the star], d. A.D. 135, Hebrew hero and leader
of a major revolt against Rome under Hadrian (132-135). He
may have claimed to be a Messiah; the Talmud relates that
Akiba ben Joseph credited him with this title. His personality
and the facts of his life are surrounded by legend. He is
sometimes called Simon the Prince of Israel. At first he successfully
defeated the Roman armies, but the tide turned against him
with the victories of the Roman general Julius Severus, and
he was killed at Bether. Israeli archaeologists have found
a number of letters in his handwriting." - The Columbia Encyclopedia,
Sixth Edition. 2001.
"Bar Kokhba - Enraged by these measures, the Jews rebelled
in 132, the dominant and irascible figure of Simeon bar Kosba
at their head. Reputedly of Davidic descent, he was hailed
as the Messiah by the greatest rabbi of the time, Akiva ben
Yosef, who also gave him the title Bar Kokhba ("Son of the
Star"), a messianic allusion. Bar Kokhba took the title nasi
("prince") and struck his own coins, with the legend "Year
1 of the liberty of Jerusalem." - Britannica.com
"Akiba ben Joseph - a.d. 50?-132 Jewish religious leader
whose scholarship, particularly a reinterpretation of the
Halakah, profoundly influenced Judaism." - The American
Heritage¨ Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition.
"Akiba ben Joseph - Scholarly opinion is divided on
the extent of Akiba's participation in an ill-fated rebellion
against Rome (132-135) led by Bar Kokhba (originally Simeon
ben Koziba). Some consider Akiba to have been the spiritual
force behind the uprising. Others take note of the Talmudic
report that Akiba considered Bar Kokhba to be the promised
messianic king but see no evidence of further action on
his part." - Britannica.com
"Akiba ben Joseph - c.A.D. 50-c.A.D. 135, Jewish Palestinian
religious leader, one of the founders of rabbinic Judaism.
Although the facts of his life are obscured by legend, he
is said to have been a poor and illiterate shepherd who began
his rabbinic studies at the age of forty. Tradition views
him as one of the first Jewish scholars to systematically
compile Hebrew oral laws, the Mishna. He is believed to have
been executed by the Romans in the aftermath of the messianic
revolt of Bar Kokba (A.D. 132-135), though the extent of his
participation is a matter of controversy. He is one of
the martyrs mentioned in the Jewish penitential prayer." -
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.
Given his prominent and influential position within Judaism
it is hard to underestimate the significance of Akiba ben
Joseph's belief in a Jewish Messiah and his belief that Bar
Kokhba was that Messiah. How could a Jewish rabbi who endorsed
a false Messiah be considered to be one of the great and foundational
Jewish scholars? More to the point, how could Rabbi Akiba,
who endorsed a man (Bar Kokhba) who was certainly not the
Jewish Messiah, be considered an orthodox and great Jew while
other Jewish scholars, who revere Rabbi Akiba, reject out
of hand the orthodoxy of any Jew who would accept Jesus as
the Messiah? This seems highly inconsistent.
Nevertheless, we have seen that the belief in a Messianic
figure is well documented and well established through orthodox
Jewish history. Therefore, since orthodox Judaism does recognize
the Old Testament expectation of a Jewish Messiah the only
question that must be asked is this: has this Jewish Messiah
already come or is he still yet to come as Gershon Solomon
and the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful believe?
Or we might ask this question another way: is Jesus of Nazareth
the Jewish Messiah as Christianity claims or is the Messiah
yet to come? But regardless of the outcome of this question,
since belief in a historical Messiah is not enough to disqualify
Rabbi Akiba's Judaism, belief in another historical Messiah
similarly does not disqualify Jewish Christians or even Christianity
itself, from being considered authentically Jewish.
Lastly, we must also mention Moses Maimonides, also known
as Moses Ben Maimon or Rambam. The significance of Maimonides
to our current discussion is his influence on modern Judaism.
H. Polano's English translation of selections of the Talmud
has the following to say about the significance of Moses Maimonides
with respect to modern Judaism.
"Moses Maimonides, one of the greatest of Jewish commentators,
and a descendant of Rabbi Judah, the compiler of the Mishnah,
was born in the city of Cordova, Spain, March 30th, 1135."
- H. Polano, the Talmud, p. 233
"Maimonides simplified the Talmudic rules and traditions,
making them clear to the comprehension of all. He was the
author of an exhaustive work, entitled 'Mishne Torah,' the
'Second Law,' which was eagerly copied and extensively
disseminated." - H. Polano, the Talmud, p. 236
Britannica.com and the Columbia Encyclopedia make similar
"Judaism - Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon, 1135-1204), a
native of Spain, is incontestably the greatest name in Jewish
medieval philosophy, but his reputation is not derived
from any outstanding originality in philosophical thought.
Rather, the distinction of Maimonides, who is also the
most eminent codifier of Jewish religious law, is to be
found in the vast scope of his attempt, in the Dalalat al-ha'irin
(Guide of the Perplexed)..." - Britannica.com
"Maimonides, Moses - The first of Maimonides' major
works, begun at the age of 23, was his commentary on the Mishna,
Kitab al-Siraj, also written in Arabic. The Mishna is a compendium
of decisions in Jewish law that dates from earliest times
to the 3rd century. Maimonides' commentary clarified individual
words and phrases, frequently citing relevant information
in archaeology, theology, or science. Possibly the work's
most striking feature is a series of introductory essays dealing
with general philosophic issues touched on in the Mishna.
One of these essays summarizes the teachings of Judaism in
a creed of Thirteen Articles of Faith." - Britannica.com
"Maimonides - or Moses ben Maimon, 1135-1204, Jewish scholar,physician,
and philosopher, the most influential Jewish thinker of
the Middle Ages, b. Cordoba, Spain, d. Cairo. He is sometimes
called Rambam, from the initials of the words Rabbi Moses
ben Maimon. His organization and systemization of the corpus
of Jewish oral law, is called the Mishneh Torah [the Torah
Reviewed] and is still used as a standard compilation of halakah."
- The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.
Several comments are worth noting concerning Maimonides from
the excerpts above. First, Maimonides is regarded as "the
greatest name in Jewish medieval philosophy" as well "the
most eminent codifier of Jewish religious law." Second, Maimonides
produced a creed for Judaism in the Thirteen Articles of Faith.
Third, and most significantly, Maimonides' organization of
the Jewish oral law is still used today as the "standard compilation
of the halakah." What is the halakah?
"Halakah - in Judaism, the body of law regulating all aspects
of life, including religious ritual, familial and personal
status, civil relations, criminal law, and relations with
non-Jews." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.
As can be seen from the excerpt above, it is the Mishnah Torah
that is used to this day as the "standard compilation" of
Jewish law regarding "religious ritual, civil relations, criminal
law." In light of Maimonides' importance to modern Judaism,
including through the Mishnah Torah, it is very significant
what Maimonides has to say in the Mishnah Torah about the
idea of a Jewish Messiah figure.
In chapters 8 and 9 of the section of the Mishnah Torah known
as the Hilchot Teshuvah, Maimonides discusses the world to
come and what he calls "the Messianic age."
"[These changes will come about] because the king who will
arise from David's descendants will be a greater master of
knowledge than Solomon and a great prophet, close to the level
of Moses, our teacher. Therefore, he will teach the
entire nation and instruct them in the path of God. All nations
will come to hear him as [Isaiah 2:2] states: 'And it
shall come to pass in the last days that the mountains of
God's house shall be established at the peak of the mountains...[and
all the nations shall flow to it].' [Nevertheless,] the ultimate
reward and the final good which will have no end or decrease
is the life of the world to come. In contrast, the Messianic
age will be [life within the context of] this world, with
the world following its natural pattern except that sovereignty
will return to Israel." - Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah,
Moses Maimonides, p. 212-214.
"In the future, the Messianic King will arise and renew
the Davidic dynasty, returning it to its initial sovereignty.
He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel."
- Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Melachim, Moses Maimonides, p. 222
"If a king will arise from the House of David who is learned
in Torah and observant of the mitzvoth, as prescribed
by the written law and the oral law, as David, his ancestor
was, and will compel all of Israel to walk in [the way of
the Torah] and reinforce the breaches [in its observance];
and fight the wars of God, we may, with assurance, consider
him the Messiah. If he succeeds in the above, builds the
Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel,
he is definitely the Messiah." - Mishnah Torah, Hilchot
Melachim, Moses Maimonides, p. 234
As we can see from the text of the Mishnah Torah, Maimonides
himself believed in the coming of a Jewish Messiah king from
the lineage of King David who would restore sovereignty to
Israel and who would be a prophet that would teach the nations.
The significance of these statements from Maimonides is immense.
First of all, the Mishnah Torah is intended as Maimonides'
comments on the written Law of Moses. As can even be seen
by Maimonides appeal to passages like Isaiah 2:2, this means
that Maimonides believed and taught that the Old Testament
predicted and required a Jewish Messianic figure. And finally,
since Maimonides' Mishnah Torah is to this day still used
as the "standard compilation" of the halakah (the body of
Jewish law), we can see that the belief in a Jewish Messiah
figure cannot disqualify Christianity from being considered
authentic Judaism. For, just like Rabbi Akiba, Moses Maimonides
also believed in the coming of a Jewish Messiah. Both orthodox
Judaism and Christianity equally share belief in a Jewish
Messiah; they simply differ over his identity.
An Examination of Evidence
Determining whether or not Jesus of Nazareth can be identified
as the Messiah is the critical argument to our examination
of the evidences for Judaism and Christianity in two ways.
First, it is the crucial issue in determining if New Testament
Christianity is, in fact, the true and accurate form of Judaism.
Second, with regard to a comparison of world religions, it
is the crucial issue in determining whether or not the religious
claims of Judeo-Christianity are legitimately substantiated
by the evidence that is offered.
One cannot address either of these questions without simultaneously
answering the other. Whether the result is in the affirmative
or the negative the implications for Judaism and Christianity
follow directly from the issue of whether or not Jesus is
the Jewish Messiah. This will become clearer as we move on
and consider the Old Testament requirements for the Messiah.
To put it another way, we have at last arrived at the climax
of this long study. Having discarded all of the other religious
options based upon the evidence (or in some cases the lack
of evidence), we will now demonstrate that the evidence offered
by Judeo-Christianity does, in fact, substantiate its that
its truth claims about God are reliable and should be accepted.
In demonstrating that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah we will
also be demonstrating that supernatural phenomena have occurred
within Judeo-Christianity. The existence of this legitimately
supernatural phenomena will serve as evidence, which establishes
that Judeo-Christianity is more than simply a human invention
or proposition (as the other religions we have examined are),
but is instead, divine in origin just as it claims.
Evidence of Legitimate Prophecy in Judaism
A number of approaches could be taken in this endeavor. Though
we will narrow our examination mainly to evidence regarding
the Jewish Messiah, other Old Testament prophecies could be
displayed, which demonstrate the legitimacy of Judaism as
an accurate and reliable view of God. A good example of such
prophecy comes from Jeremiah the prophet. As we recall from
our section on the historicity of Judaism, we learned that
Jeremiah lived from just before to just after the Babylonian
captivity, roughly between 650 B.C. and 570 B.C.
"Judaism - According to Jeremiah (about 100 years later),
Micah's prophetic threat to Jerusalem had caused King Hezekiah
(reigned c. 715-c. 686 BCE) to placate GodŃpossibly an
allusion to the cult reform instituted by the King in order
to cleanse Judah from various pagan practices." - Britannica.com
"Jeremiah - born probably after 650 BC, Anathoth, Judah
died c. 570 BC, Egypt Hebrew Yirmeyahu , Latin Vulgate
Jeremias Hebrew prophet, reformer, and author of an Old
Testament book that bears his name. He was closely involved
in the political and religious events of a crucial era in
the history of the ancient Near East; his spiritual leadership
helped his fellow countrymen survive disasters that included
the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC and
the exile of many Judaeans to Babylonia." - Britannica.com
As the quotes above also state, the Babylonian conquest of
the southern kingdom of Judah and its capital, Jerusalem,
occurred in 586 B.C. The Temple was destroyed and much of
the population was taken into exile in Babylon.
"Judaism - ...the period of the Babylonian Exile and restoration
of the Jews to Judah (6th-5th centuries BCE)...the first fall
of Jerusalem (586 BCE)...Ezra the Scribe and his school (5th
century BCE)." - Britannica.com
"Judaism - In 587/586 BCE the doom prophecies of Jeremiah
and Ezekiel came true. Rebellious Jerusalem was reduced
by Nebuchadrezzar, the Temple was burnt, and much of Judah's
population dispersed or deported to Babylonia." - Britannica.com
"Jerusalem - Jerusalem became the spiritual and political
capital of the Hebrews. In 586 B.C. it fell to the Babylonians,
and the Temple was destroyed." - The Columbia Encyclopedia,
Sixth Edition. 2001.
Before the fall of the city and the destruction of the Temple
in 586 A.D. the Book of Jeremiah records the following prophecy
that the captivity of the Jews will last 70 years.
Jeremiah 25:8 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts;
Because ye have not heard my words, 9 Behold, I will
send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD,
and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and
will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants
thereof, and against all these nations round about, and
will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment,
and an hissing, and perpetual desolations. 10 Moreover I will
take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness,
the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the
sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. 11 And
this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment;
and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy
years. 12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years
are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon,
and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the
land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
13 And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have
pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book,
which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations.
After the city fell and the Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C.,
Jeremiah repeats this same prophecy to those going into captivity
in Babylon that their exile will encompass a 70-year period.
Jeremiah 29:1 Now these are the words of the letter
that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue
of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the
priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar
had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon...7
And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to
be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for
in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. 8 For thus saith
the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets
and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you,
neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.
9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not
sent them, saith the LORD. 10 For thus saith the LORD,
That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will
visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing
you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts
that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace,
and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
And finally, Daniel the prophet affirms Jeremiah's 70-year
prophecy in chapter 9 of his book.
Daniel 9:2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel
understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word
of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish
seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
So, we have a prophecy given by Jeremiah the prophet from
before and after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction
of the Temple that the timeframe of this punishment from God
would last 70 years. Jeremiah accredits this prophecy to God
by saying "Thus saith the Lord." In proclaiming this, Jeremiah
provides us a means of verifying whether, in fact, his message
was from God or not.
If the punishment was completed then 70 years after the besieging
of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the exile
of the Jews, then we would see the Jews back in Jerusalem
with the Temple reconstructed and consequently, we would have
evidence that Jeremiah's message was from God, just as he
said. For it is not within human capacity to know the future
with this kind of specificity. However, if, on the other hand,
the Jews were not back in Jerusalem with a newly rebuilt Temple
70 years after 586 B.C. then the prophecy is false and cannot
be accepted as a word from God. In other words, unlike Propositional
Religions, which offer no evidence that their assertions about
God are correct, here we find just one example of how Judaism
offers evidence to support the claim that God is behind their
So, the question is: were the Jews back in Jerusalem with
a rebuilt Temple 70 years after the fall of Jerusalem, the
destruction of the Temple, and the exile of the people in
586 B.C.? Well, 70 years after 586 B.C. would be 516 B.C.
Does history record that this prophecy was fulfilled? Yes,
in fact, it does.
In the year 538, Cyrus the Great of Persia issued a decree
allowing the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem.
"Babylonian Captivity - also called Babylonian Captivity,
the forced detention of Jews in Babylonia following the latter's
conquest of the kingdom of Judah in 598/7 and 587/6 BC. The
exile formally ended in 538 BC, when the Persian conqueror
of Babylonia, Cyrus the Great, gave the Jews permission to
return to Palestine." - Britannica.com
The first priority of the returning Jews was to rebuild the
Temple. This task was finished in 516-515 B.C.
"Biblical Literature - The first great aim was the rebuilding
of the Temple as the centre of worship and thus also of national
existence; this was completed in 515 under the administration
of Zerubbabel and became the place of uninterrupted sacrificial
worship for the next 350 years." - Britannica.com
"Judaism - After conquering Babylon, Cyrus so
far justified the hopes put in him that he allowed those
Jews who wished to do so to return and rebuild their Temple...The
labour was resumed and completed in 516;" - Britannica.com
"Jerusalem - The city was restored to Hebrew rule later
in the 6th cent. B.C. by Cyrus the Great, king of Persia.
The Temple was rebuilt (538-515 B.C.; known as the Second
Temple) by Zerubbabel, a governor of Jerusalem under the Persians."
- The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.
So, history confirms that Jeremiah's prophecy from God was
true. Precisely 70 years after the fall of Jerusalem, the
destruction of the Temple, and the exile of the people in
586 B.C., the Jewish exiles had returned and were again living
in Jerusalem with a rebuilt Temple in the year 516 B.C.
Since Jeremiah wrote this prophecy at sometime around 586
B.C., well before 516 B.C., and credits it to God, this prophecy,
then constitutes remarkable evidence that God, in fact, is
behind the theology of Judaism, just as Jeremiah claimed.
Once again, we would like to reiterate that with Atheism disproved
and with Deism and Pantheistic Naturalism being conclusions
rather than criteria governing the assessment of evidence,
there is no need or reason to re-estimate the dating of Jeremiah's
prophecies in order to circumvent the occurrence of the supernatural.
Thus, we can take this prophecy and its fulfillment at face
value and to do otherwise would constitute circular reasoning
and tampering with the evidence to arrive at prejudiced conclusions
that drive the evaluation of the evidence rather than being
driven by the evidence.