Written Debate with Dr Brown

In anticipation of Dr. Brown’s upcoming response to my last comment in this lengthy thread – I took the liberty of cutting and pasting the relevant posts. I attempt to keep the original numbering and even the original typos. This way, when Dr. Brown’s response does come – the readers can more fully appreciate it. In the meantime, please feel free to analyze and comment on this thread.

  1. Yisroel Blumenthal
    November      3rd, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

Dr. Brown challenges his caller to provide one reference in his 5 volumes where he misquotes Scripture – well Page 75 of volume 2 shows a serious misquote of Scripture
The translation he used in Micha 6:6-8 left out the Hebrew words “ki im” (in
verse 8 – translated as “but” in the KJV).
This is very serious because the prophet is explicitly saying that God does NOT REQUIRE subtitutionary atonement – and this misquote negates the message of the prophet

  1. Yisroel Blumenthal
    November      4th, 2011 @ 9:32 am

Here are some more misquotations
– on page 154 of volume 3 Dr. Brown claims that Jesus’ being buried with the rich, crucified with thieves and being sold for 30 pieces of silver are alluded to in Scripture – the fact is that Scripture NEVER has anyone being buried with the rich (the servant of Isaiah DIES with the rich – he is buried with the wicked)- Scripture never has anyone die with the wicked (the servant is BURIED with the wicked – he DIES with the rich. No one in Scripture is sold for 30 pieces of silver – Zechariah speaks of someone being HIRED for 30 pieces of silver – which is not SOLD

  1. Eric
    November      4th, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

Dear R. Yisroel Blumenthal,

Great to speak to you again. I pray you are doing well. I just checked page 154 of volume 3 and actually Dr. Brown isn’t making that claim, Dr. Brown was quoting another Christian author named Herbert Lockyer.

Will you admit that dying with/being buried with are almost identical terms in their meaning? Not to mention they are all tied together in the same exact verse, so it’s not exactly misquoting the verse, it’s drawing your attention to the verse because when you see it, you see it all.

I don’t know the point being made about Zechariah 11 perhaps I am misunderstanding your point but the way I see it is: if you’re being hired to betray someone then the one you are betraying is ultimately being sold.

Blessings to you.

  1. Eric
    November      4th, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

Dear R. Yisroel Blumenthal,

Also as for Micah 6:8, I am not sure of the Bible translation Dr. Brown is using here (unless it’s his own translation) but it’s very clear to me. To quote it: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”

I think that the question mark after “mah adonai doresh mimekha” and then also, even in this translation it answers the question and it says “To act….”, as in this is what we’re supposed to do: to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. I don’t see this as a misquotation. I get the point when I read it in that translation.

As for this being about God not requiring subtitutionary atonement, well that’s the idea that Dr. Brown is responding to in this section!

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      5th, 2011 @ 1:13 am

Rabbi Blumenthal,

I was surprised to see your posts, above. With regard to Mic 6:6-8, I quoted the NIV’s translation of the verses, the version I generally used throughout the book. So, this is not a misquotation but simply the use of a standard translation. Moreover, I could have used any other translation, and my point would have remained the same: “He was reproving his sinful people and telling them (with some obvious hyperbole) not to think that they could please God merely by bringing thousands of sacrifices and offerings or to imagine that the Lord would want them to sacrifice their own sons to pay for their sins. Absolutely not! Rather, what God was looking for was justice, mercy, and humility, something which some of them apparently overlooked in their zeal to bring sacrifices and special offerings. They put their emphasis on the wrong thing, emphasizing the outward ceremonies and ignoring the inward corruption. Such is human nature!”

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 9:11 am

Dr. Brown
By leaving out the phrase “ki im” – whoever did it – wheteher it was you or the NIV – you missed a key point of the verse – and that is that substitutionary sacrifice is NOT a NECESSARY/ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED part of our relationship with God – this is teh same point made in Jeremiah 7:22,23
If skipping a phrase in translation – a phrase that works against the point you are trying to make – is not a misquotation – then what is?

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      6th, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal, scholars can debate the accuracy of a translation, but to use a translation consistently in a given work is NOT to misquote the Bible. The NIV could be stronger here, but it does not entirely miss the point. Moreover, your conclusion from Micah 6 is completely overstated (since Mic 6:6-7 is NOT speaking exclusively of substitutionary atonement, and the passage adds things the Torah never required) and my explanation of the passage in vol. 2, cited in my post above, is quite adequate. In fact, if I press the point you’re making, I would have to say that you’re claiming that if you, a Jew, lived in Micah’s day, you could cease to follow the Torah laws re: sacrifice and offering — including your participation in Yom Kippur! — and you would be in right relationship with God as an ethical Jew who violated other parts of the Torah willingly. Is that your point?

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

Dr. Brown
I explained my understanding of Micah quite clearly in point #19 of my critique of your 2nd volume – https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/dr-brown-volume-2/
Why do you bring up the “straw man” (- that if I quote Micah 6 or Jeremiah 7 then I don’t believe in the sacrifices) after I went out of my way to explain my position to you?
In any case – if you want to blame the NIV for the misquote (-for someone who is capable of looking it up for themselves – itis a pretty sad situation) I am preparing a a list of your own misquotes – I hope to have it up soon

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

Here is one from volume 5 page 164 – where you quote Deuteronomy 30 as saying that UNTIL the Messianic era the Torah is relevant when the text clearly says that it is relevant DURING the messianic era (verse

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

That should have been verse 8

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

This one is from volume 1
33. Objection 2.1
“In fact, nowhere in our scripture does it explicitly say, “when the Messiah comes there will be peace on earth”
Ezekiel did not have the benefit of having read Brown’s book, or else he would not have written – “and I will establish for them one shepherd and he will shepherd them, My servant David, he will shepherd them and he will be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a prince amongst them, I the Lord have spoken. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and I will cause wild animals to desist from the land, and they will dwell in the desert in security and they shall sleep in the forests.” (Ezekiel 34:23-25) or – “And My servant David (a) king over them, and one shepherd shall be for all of them, and they will walk in My statutes, and they will keep My laws and observe them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to My servant Jacob, that your forefathers dwelt there, and they will dwell upon it, them, their children, and their children’s children, unto eternity, and My servant David (a) prince for them forever. And I will make with them a covenant of peace an eternal covenant it will be with them, and I will set them down and I will increase their number, and I will place My sanctuary in their midst forever.” (Ezekiel 37:24-26) Nor would Jeremiah have written concerning the Messiah “in his days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell securely” (Jeremiah 23:6)
The verses we just quoted are verses that Brown simply forgot. This would be bad enough, but it gets worse. Two of the verses that Brown himself quotes to establish the alleged Messiahship of Jesus, namely Haggai 2:9, and Zechariah 9:9,10 explicitly speak of an era of peace. It seems that Brown conveniently chooses which parts of the verses “prove” the alleged Messiahship of Jesus, and which parts of the same verses could be swept under the non-scriptural rug of the “second coming”. By what criteria does Brown decide which sections of the verse must be fulfilled during the Second Temple era and which parts could be indefinitely delayed for the distant future?
The Jewish expectation that the Messiah’s coming will be marked by universal peace is firmly rooted in the words of the prophets. Brown’s denial of this basic scriptural truth is simply outrageous.

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

Here is from volume 2

23. Page 182

Brown addresses the prophecies which tell us that the sacrifices are coming back.
According to Brown the sacrifices were replaced with Jesus, so the prophetic
prediction of their return poses a problem to Brown.

His answer?

First he negates the message of Ezekiel by telling us that even the Rabbis had
difficulty understanding his prophecy. Then he addresses the other prophecies
by telling us that they generally deal with the gentiles bringing offerings,
they do not speak of offerings for atonement, and they only take up a total of
three verses.

First, it is in place to note that Brown seems to be unaware of at least four other
prophecies which speak of the blood offerings in the Messianic era (Isaiah
56:7, 60:7, Ezekiel 20:40,41, Malachi 3:3,4). This is aside from the many prophecies that predict complete observance of the Law, which obviously includes a restoration of the
sacrifices. In addition, Brown seems to have forgotten the many passages which
tells us that the Law is eternal and unchanging, with a special emphasis on the
laws concerning the sacrifices.

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

From Volume 3 page 50
“Throughout Isaiah 52:13-53:12 the servant is depicted as completely righteous”
The fact is that the servant is depicted in one half of one verse as innocent of the crimes that his oppresors accuse him of – which is a far cry from “throughout Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12″ and a far cry from “completely righteous”

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

From Volume 4 page 268
You claim that Jesus preformed miracles in fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-3
The text says nothing about miracles and a reading of the text clearly shows that it is speaking of the restoration of Israel – comforting the mourners of Zion – not those who “find strength” in the destruction of Zion

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      6th, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal,

First, a general observation, namely, that it’s ironic that after I challenge the statements of rabbis (whether made on my show, or online, or in other forms), you seem to be the only one willing or able to answer for them. Quite telling, for many reasons, but enough said.

Second, re: #21, you set up the straw man in your posts here, and I corrected what you wrote. And do you honestly think that I will keep in my head all your responses to my volumes and all our emails and interactions and then use that material to nuance an overstated and misleading response on your part here? So, you need to be more accurate in what you post here so that you don’t set up straw men. As for the NIV to Mic 6:8, I know the Hebrew text in my head and don’t need to look it up here, and this is simply a stylistic issue of translation, not a misquotation. Finally, have you exhaustively reviewed every reference to “ki ‘im” in Tanakh? If so, do you think you may have overstated your case here at all, along with your setting up a straw man in your posts?

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      6th, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal, re: #22, the biblical text does not mention the Messianic era; that is your interpretation. And since this is part of the Sinai covenant, an exegetical argument can easily be made that this is displaced by the new covenant of Jer 31:31-34, that will not be like the Sinai covenant in certain respects.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      6th, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

Rabbi Blumethal, re: #24, I’m not sure if it’s your antagonism to my position that causes you to misread what I have written or simply the force of your own tradition that causes it, but what I wrote is 100% true: nowhere does the Tanakh say explicitly, “when the Messiah comes there will be peace on earth.” The verses you quoted confirmed my point, since they speak, e.g., of “David My servant” rather than “the Messiah,” which was the simple point I was making. All these verses are subject to interpretation. Do you honestly not understand what I wrote and meant after countless hundreds of hours of interaction between us? Of course I fully embrace the understanding that Messiah’s mission will culminate in peace on the earth, but what I wrote is 100% accurate, and it’s unfortunate (or worse) that you so sadly misconstrue it in order to produce an alleged misquotation of the Bible in any of my volumes. Very revealing, but not in the way you intended.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      6th, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal, re: #25, where is there a miquotation of Scripture here? As for your other points, have you forgotten the fact that I responded to all of them many times over in writing and orally?

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      6th, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal, re: #26, that is actually one of the weakest points (among many, sad to say) in your Contra Brown article, and the servant’s righteousness, declared by God Himself, is in stark contrast with the state of the rest of his people. Even rabbis who interpret the passage to speak of the righteous remnant (rather than the righteous individual) recognize the righteousness of the servant. So, I’ll show all the exemplary things spoken of the servant in the passage, pointing to his blamelessness and righteousness. You show me one fault about him mentioned in the text. No contest, to be frank.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      6th, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal, re: 27, this is not a misquotation of Scripture. Surely you know that the imagery of setting captives free includes the healing and deliverance of the sick, and surely you know that prophecies speaking ofIsrael’s restoration have multiple layers of application, from the prophet’s own day until the end of the age.

So, thus far you have not come close to pointing out a single misquotation of a verse in Tanakh. We can debate interpretation of verses — and God willing, we will continue you until your eyes are opened to the truth of Yeshua the Messiah — but you have not responded to my challenge to Rabbi Otero to back up his charge on the air. How about giving him a chance to speak for himself?

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

Dr. Brown
perhaps – before we go on with this “debate” – you will define what the word “misquote” actually means – and then we can proceed. Can you please do that?

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      6th, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal, if I’m correct, Rabbi Otero made the claim that I misquoted many (hundreds?) of passages in my books, and I was responding to that. A misquotation would be, “Genesis 1:1 reads, ‘The universe created God’”; or, “According to Genesis 1:1,Israelwas chosen by God to rule Mars.”

Those would be extreme examples, but they would both be misquotations, especially the former.

If he said, “I take issue with your interpretation of 100’s of verses in your books,” I would say, “Of course! That’s why I follow Yeshua and you don’t.”

  1. Yisroel Blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

Thanks for the clarification
When you say that only three verses in Scripture say something – but in truth there are more than that (according to everyone’s interpretation) – is that a misquotation or a misinterpretation?

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      6th, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

You’re quite welcome. As for your question, if what you’re saying is correct, that would be a false or inaccurate statement.

  1. Yisroel Blumenthal
    November      6th, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

OK so in volume 2 page 182 you say that outside of Ezekiel (by which you meant the later chapters of Ezekiel) the Scriptural references for sacrifices in the Messianic age take up a total of 3 verses (which you enumerate as Isaiah 19, Malachi 1 and another in Jeremiah) when in reality Isaiah 56:7 and 60:7 both mention sacrifices in the Messianic age – even according to your interpretation – is that an inaccurate statement?

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      6th, 2011 @ 10:43 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal, I just got in after flying fromPhoenixand am able to check the citation. First, the way you state things here is not exactly the same way I stated things in my book (unless I’m looking at the wrong section), but yes, I may overlooked Isa 60:7 (I don’t see that 56:7 is necessarily Messianic). So yes, I would need to include that citation, and I’ll be sure to correct that in the next printing. That being said, every argument I raise and all the points I make in these pages stands exactly the same. The addition of the Isaiah passage adds nothing and takes away nothing from the detailed arguments I present.

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      7th, 2011 @ 10:31 am

The discussion over here is “misquotation”. To say that: “The references to future sacrifices and offerings in Isaiah, Zechariah, and Malachi take up a total of THREE verses” (emphasis in the original) – when in fact they take up at least four – is a misquotation. Perhaps you want to argue that it is an insignificant misquotation – perhaps – but that is not the subject of this discussion. In this context; why did you not include Ezekiel 20:41 and Malachi 3:4?

You claim that it can be easily argued that Deuteronomy 30 is not Messianic – I disagree – but again that is not the subject of the discussion. In page 164 of volume 5 you work with the assumption that the passage is Messianic and you create a fictitious distinction which limits the Torah observance only UNTIL the Messianic age – this distinction is found nowhere in the text – in fact the text explicitly speaks of observance AFTER the circumcision of the heart.

As it relates to the connection between the concept of peace and the Messiah – are you trying to say that Ezekiel 34:23-25, 37:24-26, Jeremiah 23:6, Haggai 2:9, Zechariah 9:9,10 – are not talking of the Messiah – and that it is only my “interpretation”?

“Throughout” is generally taken to mean “from beginning to end”, and “completely” is generally taken to mean “totally, fully” – so when you say that “throughout” Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 the servant is depicted as “completely” righteous, or when you say (on page 52) “Isaiah presents a picture of a totally righteous, guileless servant of the Lord” or (pg. 52) “He bore the sin of many, but he himself did not sin (v12). This description fits Yeshua perfectly. In no way does it describe the people ofIsrael(or any other people for that matter).” – one would expect that Isaiah should say something about the complete and total innocence of the servant. In fact all he says is that the servant is killed – not for violence that he has done or deception that he has spoken. All Isaiah is saying is that his oppressors are killing him unjustly – this does not make him “completely righteous” or “without sin”. The one other verse that you could be referring to is that he is called “tzadik” – which is a term that Israel is called in Isaiah 26:2, and 60:21 – I imagine that you will not argue that Israel is “completely righteous” on the basis of this title.

The imagery of setting captives free includes healing of the sick – that is your midrash. To claim that Scripture says so – is misquoting Scripture (I could make up a midrash which has Genesis 1 teaching thatIsraelis to rule mars). But even more problematic is the fact that in the same volume (page 209) you exult in the fact that the followers of Yeshua “made the loss of the Temple a strength rather than a weakness” – and then you go and claim that a prophecy proclaiming comfort for the mourners of Zion is fulfilled by this same Yeshua – This is far worse than a misquotation – it is distorting the spirit of the text. In what way are the followers of Yeshua called the “mourners ofZion” – how are the followers of Yeshua joined in the mourning of the nation (spoken of in 60:20) when they exult inZion’s grief?

I tried to stay on topic and not be drawn after any of your diversions – but there is one diversion I will address – because it has a bearing on the topic at hand

You ask if I forgot “the fact” that you responded to all of them (my arguments) many times over in writing and orally.

This is a heavy accusation – and as far as I can see – completely unfounded. I am in possession of most of our correspondence – please show me where you have responded to any of the points that I raise here – if you don’t have a copy – I’ll forward it to you.

As for our oral conversations – if you noticed – I never quote you from our oral conversations in a public setting – for many reasons – not least of which is that there is no way I can double check if my memory is correct or if it is my bias that is remembering things the way biases tend to do. Please give me the same courtesy that I have extended to you.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      7th, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal,

Thanks for your post, above. In response:

1) Going back through your posts here, I see how you went from an inaccurate statement, above, #25 (”Then he addresses the other prophecies
by telling us that they generally deal with the gentiles bringing offerings, they do not speak of offerings for atonement, and they only take up a total of three verses” — which is misleading because it fails to mention the other verses I cited, e.g., from Zechariah) to an actual quotation from my book. So, you begin your attack on my alleged “misquotations” with one of your own.

2) More importantly, the reason I didn’t quote Ezek. 20 (is it 40 or 41 you meant?) is because the context there has its first application in the return from exile and is not overtly Messianic, and my focus in the quote, as you know, was on verses outside of Ezekiel at that point (read p. 182 again!); as for Mal. 3:6, I see that as having a spiritual application in Yeshua’s day, but I had already quoted Mal 1:11 as a potential future prophecy of sacrifice or incense. The bottom line, however, as stated, is that none of this affected any argument I was bringing in the least. All the points I made in that section of vol. 2 stand strong.

3) Re: Deut 30, you completely misunderstood my point which was NOT that this could not apply to the Messianic age (see, in fact, the end of 6.10 where I raise that very possibility) but rather that, this text could be used to argue that right up until the Messianic era, Torah observance was still mandatory and fundamental (which could be used as an argument against “Christianity”). In context, it’s hard to see how you misunderstood my point, unless you were actually trying to find fault with what I wrote. That, indeed, would be unfortunate.

4) With regard to the passages you cited about the Messianic era in Ezek, Jer, Hag, and Zech, please show me where any of these use the word “Messiah.” That was the point I was making – quite clearly! – in my book, which I then explained again here. I mean no insult, but what is it that you are not following in this?

5) With regard to Isaiah 53, my point stands, since “throughout” means “consistently and without exception” as well, and that is the case with the description of the servant throughout the chapter, whenever there is an explicit or implicit reference to his guilt or innocence. Not much to argue about here, and again, I find your critiques of this to be some of your weakest points.

I’m out of time now but, God willing, I’ll respond to the last couple of points later today, staying as focused on the topic at hand as possible.

  1. Dr. Michael L. Brown
    November      8th, 2011 @ 12:57 am

Rabbi Blumenthal,

With regard to the last points you made in post #40 and that I didn’t have time to respond to #41 (continuing my numbering here for clarity):

6) With regard to Isa 61, when did I say or suggest or hint that followers of Yeshua exulted with theTemple’s destruction? What I wrote and what you extrapolated from that are so different as to bear no resemblance to reality, sorry to say. As for the disciples being “mourners ofZion,” as Jews who mourned for their people (see Paul’s famous words in Rom 9:1-5), they most certainly were (and are), and it was Yeshua himself who taught on the blessedness of mourning (see Matt 5:4), knowing that in the Lord (and in the end) there will be comfort. As for Isa 61:1ff. NOT including healing of the sick (or, for that matter, deliverance from demonic oppression) is remarkable: The prophet (then, later, the Messiah) declared that the Spirit of God anointed him to “bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Even your argument that the prophecy speaks only of a future national restoration works against you, since parallel passages in Isaiah (like 35:1-7) speak explicitly of healing the sick, and the context is clearly related. What Yeshua did spiritually is a downpayment and deposit on what will ultimately come in the future.

7)With regard to answering some of your points orally or in writing, I’ll do my best to separate the two in the future. In my mind, they often blend together, while, quite candidly, it strikes me as odd that you can refer to an article you wrote somewhere online, assume I have read it carefully and basically memorized its contents, to the point that when you post something here in broad and even ambiguous or (unintentionally) misleading terms, I’m expected to respond to that specific article. (I mentioned this, as you know, in a previous post, above.) What I was referring to here is that I have addressed many of the points you made in my books and other writings (and debates too, not to mention in our many conversations, for which I remain appreciative), and just because you don’t accept my answers doesn’t mean I haven’t addressed your objections. That being said, as stated, I’ll do my best to distinguish between our oral discussions and our written ones, only citing the latter.

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      8th, 2011 @ 10:20 am

In response to # 41
1) The strategy of “two wrongs make a right” won’t quite work for you here. I never implied that my writings are free of misquotations – whether the product of human error or my bias, I would certainly not make that claim about a post that I spent all of two minutes putting up. You, on the other hand, publicly challenged Rabbi Otero to provide one example of a misquotation from your five volumes. I take it (and correct me if I am wrong) that you weren’t just bluffing Rabbi Otero – but that you sincerely believe that your five volumes are free from misquotations. That being the case – two wrongs won’t make a right because it is not the misquotation that I am challenging – but your belief that your books are free from them (misquotations).

2) The sentence that I am challenging is as follows: “(3) The references to future sacrifices and offerings in Isaiah, Zechariah, and Malachi take up a total of THREE verses.” By making this point – you give your readers to understand that there are no more verses that speak of the subject aside from the ones that you mentioned (the three from these prophetic books plus the others you mentioned from Jeremiah and Ezekiel). By making a point about how few verses speak of the subject – you leave your reader with the clear impression that you have addressed every passage on the subject.

In your 17 page dissertation on the subject you did not mention the verses I quoted (Isaiah 56:7, 60:7, Ezekiel20:41, Malachi 3:3,4). I understand that as self-appointed judge and jury you will declare yourself innocent of all charges. My objective here is to bring these verses to the attention of those who are interested in hearing the other side of the story – I feel it is my duty to help those who want to arrive at their own conclusions.

As for your continuous reassurances that your arguments in Volume 2 still stand strong – I encourage those reading this exchange to read Contra-Brown and my critique of Volume 2 – and come to their own conclusions.

3) Regarding Deuteronomy 30 – Is there any justification in the text to make a distinction between the time period PRECEDING the Messianic era and the time period that endures DURING the Messianic era as it relates to the observance of the Law?

4) So your point was that it didn’t say the word “Messiah”?! – According to this standard if it would have said the Hebrew word “Moshiach” – you would still stand by your statement because it did not say the English word “Messiah”. Is this serious?

Allow me to give the relevant quotation to this audience. As part of his response to the Jewish Objection: “If Jesus really is the Messiah, why isn’t there peace on earth?” Dr. Brown tells us:

“But there is actually a serious flaw to the very premise of this objection: The reasoning is circular. It states what it wants to prove. In other words, it presupposes that the Messiah will usher in an age of peace (”That is part of the very concept of the Messiah”), and because Jesus did not literally do this on earth, he is disqualified from being a legitimate Messianic candidate.. What is really being said is this: “According to OUR DESCRIPTION of the Messiah, it cannot be Jesus.”

But who says your description is right? That is the crux of the problem. In point of fact, the Hebrew Scriptures give us a much wider description of the Messiah and the Messianic age and it is only Jesus who fits the bill. Thus from a BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE, it is not true to say that the sole purpose of the Messiah was to bring about peace on earth. This is only part of the Biblical portrait. In fact, nowhere in our Scriptures does it explicitly say, “When the Messiah comes there will be peace on earth.” rather it speaks of an era of peace at the end of the age (see is. 2:1-4 without any mention of a Messianic figure there) tying this in with the reign of a descendant of David, a greater David (see e.g. Isaiah 11), and it is this glorious Davidic King who we call Messiah.”

So now I turn to the audience – is the original Jewish objection “seriously flawed”? Is it based on “circular reasoning”? Is the Jewish assumption that Messiah is to rule over a world at peace something that can be honestly labeled as “OUR DESCRIPTION” – as opposed to a “Biblical perspective”.

If that is what you think then please read Ezekiel 34:23-25, 37:24-26, and Jeremiah 23:6.

Furthermore – I would like to point to the fact that two of the passages that Dr. Brown quotes as Messianic texts – Haggai 2:9 and Zechariah 9:9,10 explicitly speak of an era of peace.

I encourage you to ask yourself if the paragraph I quoted from Dr. Brown is not misrepresenting the Scriptural facts?

I realize that the phrase that Dr. Brown used to describe the Jewish position: – “the SOLE PURPOSE of the Messiah was to bring about peace on earth” – is a shield that Dr. Brown could technically take shelter in – because no where does it say that this is the SOLE PURPOSE of the Messiah – but it is a shield of falsehood. No one ever made the claim that the SOLE PURPOSE of the Messiah was to bring peace on earth. The usage of that phrase is a crass misrepresentation of the Jewish position.

5) “Throughout Isaiah 53 the servant is depicted as wearing a green shirt. Isaiah presents a picture of a servant that wears a green shirt. Whenever the shirt is mentioned – it says nothing to indicate that it was not green.”

Are these statements false?

The concept of “total righteousness” as in: “without sin” appears nowhere in Isaiah 53 (which is precisely the same amount of times that the shirt of the servant is mentioned).

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      8th, 2011 @ 11:05 am

6) “Finding strength rather than weakness” or “coming to richer spiritual experience” – is the opposite of mourning – if you think “exult” is the wrong word – what word should I have used? If someone approaches a group of mourners who are crying for their lost brother – and points out to them that it is because they have their hearts tied up with their brother they feel a lack – but because he has his heart elsewhere – he found the death of this brother a “richer spiritual experience” and he found” strength rather than weakness” – in my dictionary that is exulting. When the prophet comes and promises comfort to these mourners – and then this person who is proud to point out his advantage over the mourners in the fact that he was not affected by the loss – and claim to be the one addressed by the prophet – is the height of audacity.
The prophet spoke of Mourners of Zion – how does that title fit the followers of Jesus? It is not speaking of “mourning for their people” – it is speaking of mourning for ZION (as in Isaiah 66:10).
As for the “healing of the sick” in Isaiah 61. The prophet did not say it – it is YOU who are making the connection. To state that this is what Scripture SAYS without qualifying it – is in my dictionary a “misquotation”. As for the parallel passage in 35 – I agree that it is parallel – but I read it differently than you do. I read 35 in light of 32:3; 4:17; 42:16,18,19; 43:8,19,20; 49:9,14; 50:10.
Furthermore – where is the “day of revenge” in Jesus’ career? Note that it is tied in with e comfort ofZion both in 61;2 and in 66:14. Do you believe that this was fulfilled by Jesus?

7) I don’t expect you to “memorize” what I wrote – What I would have expected from you is that if you had misunderstood the Jewish position on a certain matter (assuming that it was an honest misunderstanding) and it was pointed out to you that your understanding was wrong – that you should forget your previously held misconception. It is not a matter of “memorizing” the truth as much as it is forgetting falsehood. By the way – I did not expect you to read my articles online – I know that you are busy person, and I appreciate if and when you do read them – but I don’t expect you to read them. What I expected you to have read was the interaction that we had over this subject many times over – in writing (I used our written interaction as a basis for my online articles) Point # 19 that I was referring to is actually a synopsis of a longer piece that I had sent to you.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      8th, 2011 @ 11:30 am

Rabbi Blumenthal,

To respond in order:

1) Correct. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but that was not my point. I was simply pointing out the lack of clarity between your posts.

2) My point stands, despite all your efforts to serve as judge and jury. There is not a single misquotation of a biblical verse in my five volumes. You have pointed out one instance where I left out a reference to one verse (again, I was referring to verses in specific books, and it seems I left out one legitimate reference), but that verse says the exact same thing as the other verses I treated, so, to repeat nothing of substance has been affected in the least. Why not acknowledge this?

3) It is debatable as to whether Deut 30 ultimately refers to the Messianic era, but I deal with that possibility in vol. 5. Beyond that, you are beating a dead horse for no good reason (although, frankly, it’s a bit of a waste of time to go back and forth in this manner). Do you honestly not follow the point I was making in the citation you initially misrepresented? Perhaps you should, in humility, acknowledge that you tried to find a smoking gun when there was one. Or you are just trying to score points to unwary readers here who don’t have my books and can’t look up the entire section? I pray that is not the case, but your persistent raising of this non-point makes me wonder, sadly.

4) I appreciate your dramatic appeal to the readers here, but why not print out the entire section where I made the arguments about the Messiah. They are actually quite compelling, based on Scripture. As your being incredulous about the point I was making, again, this leaves me quite shocked, as this is a point I make in several volumes and over and again in debates, and it is simply that within the Tanakh, the text never says: THE MESSIAH will do this and that (unless Dan 9:24-27 should be included here). Any reader with the slightest question about my point needs only go to the Appendix in vol. 3 where I lay out principles of Messianic interpretation.

Are you unaware that there are biblical scholars who claim there is no such thing as the Messianic hope in the Tanakh? Who find the idea of “Messiah” to be totally post-biblical? You and I differ with them, of course, but the point is that interpreting passages with regard to “the son of David” as being Messianic are just that: interpretations, and those who recognize that Isa 53 is also Messianic are interpreting as well.

Also, I would encourage readers of Contra Brown to look carefully at your treatment of Hag 2; Dan 9; and Mal 3. That section alone underscores how deeply flawed your position is, even without reading my (God willing) forthcoming refutation of your article.

5) You can use whatever analogy you desire re: Isaiah 53, but unbiased readers of the text will recognize the guiltlessness of this servant, who did no violence, who had no deceit on his lips, who was called righteous by God Himself, who made others righteous, who suffered not for his own sin but for ours. Completely righteous indeed by description. Your problem is that this doesn’t fit the corporate description of the servant, which you try to read into the text. I gladly leave Jewish readers to their Bibles, to God, and to Isaiah 53. They will continue to embrace Yeshua through that passage.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      8th, 2011 @ 11:40 am

Rabbi Blumenthal,

Continuing my response:

6)This is remarkable again. You put an interpretation on “mourners of Zion” (which, as you know in Hebrew, can simply mean “mourners of Zion” or “mourners living in Zion,” since it is literally “Zion’s mourners”) and say it must apply to the destruction of the Temple, then claim based on one line in my book that this can’t apply to Yeshua’s followers. Seriously? First, the text does not say what you want it to say; second, Yeshua’s followers are indeed “mourners ofZion”; third, you claim that you don’t need theTemplesacrifices to be right with God, and then you claim you are the true mourner ofZion. If this isn’t both circular and self-contradictory, I don’t know what is.

With regard to the meaning of Isa 61:1ff., feel free to deny that it includes healing the sick or deliverance from demonic powers, but it’s an uphill battle on your part. With regard to the “day of vengeance,” are you unaware that Yeshua famously stopped in his reading of the text right before that? He was saying, “First the comfort and mercy”; in the future “the day of vengeance.” Whether that happened with the destruction of theTempleor if it remains totally future still can be debated.

7) Because I reject a traditional position doesn’t mean I misunderstand it, and if I find other Jewish sources that differ with your viewpoint that doesn’t mean I’m rejecting all traditional Jewish views. In any case, there was no falsehood for me to forget in the case at hand. As for our interaction here, even if we discussed something a million times and I had memorized everything you said about it, I can only respond to what you post here, especially since this is the only thing other readers will see and it is necessary for me to correct error here, even if you may have nuanced your discussion elsewhere. (And, of course, I may not remember everything we interacted about in writing or orally, amounting to hundreds of pages and thousands of hours, so that’s why it’s essential to state points clearly here.

As you know, it makes me uncomfortable to have to correct your statements here so forcefully, but the forceful nature of your posts makes that somewhat unavoidable. If I have offended you by my tone in any way, please forgive me.

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      9th, 2011 @ 1:34 am

Dr. Brown

I did not throw out the accusation that you act as self-appointed judge and jury as an empty debating tactic – instead I was exposing one of your debating tactics. Please read your posts and see how often you present your own conclusions to the readers as opposed to presenting them with evidence and allowing them to come to their own conclusions – and contrast the results of your search with my posts. Don’t feel pressured to share the conclusions you come to as a result of this search. I trust that the two of us as well as each of the readers is capable of coming to their own conclusions.

I will attempt to bring more clarity to the subject by presenting my arguments from another angle. You seem to be under the impression that there is not one misquotation of a biblical verse in all of your five volumes. I am under a very different impression, and I felt it my duty to share the evidence that I have gathered to support my position with those who care to hear. I chose one example from each of your five volumes.

In volume 2 Objection 3.17 you set about to give what you consider to be an exhaustive record of all the verses that speak of sacrifices in the Messianic age. (The sentence I quoted where you emphasize the three verses from specific books is a clear indication, I believe, that you intended that your record be exhaustive.) I believe that you missed four passages: Isaiah 56:7, 60:7, Ezekiel 20:40,41 and Malachi 3:3,4. You presented your arguments to the reader as to why you believe that only one of them is relevant – I disagree with your arguments, but I trust that now that I brought these verses to the attention of the readers and now that you presented your counter-arguments – the truth has been served. Is this a misquotation? I say – let the readers decide.

Assuming that it is a misquotation or an oversight – is it significant? I would have to agree with you that it is not – but not for the reasons you presented. From my point of view – the entire angle of approach that you bring to the argument is flawed. You approach the issue of sacrifices in the Messianic age with the assumption that they have been discarded and done away with and as if there is no need for them in the Messianic age. I see no Scriptural basis for this assumption. If there would be not one verse that explicitly mentions sacrifices in the Messianic age – I see no Scriptural basis to doubt that they are coming back.

As for Deuteronomy 30 – it seems to me that you missed the point of my argument – let me state it from another angle. The sentence that you wrote runs as follows: “That means that the central issue is Torah observance, right until the last moment before the Messianic age.” If you would have instead written: “That means that the central issue is Torah observance.” without qualifying the observance as something that comes to an end with the Messianic age – you would have more accurately reflected the Scripture you were quoting. By qualifying the observance as something that ends with the advent of the Messianic age – and presenting that idea as supported from Deuteronomy 30 – in my dictionary – you have misquoted Scripture.

Re: Your point about the Messiah not being mentioned in Scripture – if that was your point – and I don’t doubt that it was – wouldn’t it have been more honest to say that the word Messiah is not used in Scripture – rather than saying that the Scriptures never say that the Messiah will bring peace – which implies that it does say that he will do other things? In any case – I encourage the readers to read your entire presentation on the matter – and consider the verses I quoted (from Ezekiel and Jeremiah) – I also encourage the reader to consider that the very same verses that you quote to establish the alleged Messianic claims of Jesus – speak of peace – and to decide for themselves if you have misrepresented Scripture or not.

As for Isaiah 53 – I understand that from a Christian standpoint – loaded with the theology that the Church has built on this passage – it says: “Jesus” – but I ask the Christian to step back for a minute and ask: how much am I reading in to the passage and how much does the prophet really say? On the subject of innocence – there are two types of innocence, there is sinlessness – which belongs to God alone – and there is “not guilty” in the sense of someone wrongly charged which could easily apply to humans. Now my question is – please read Isaiah 53:9 and ask yourself which of these two is the prophet referring to? is it: “sinless” or “not guilty”?

Re: Isaiah 61:1-3 – I have a lot to say (not least of which is that the mourners of Zion cannot mean just anyone who happens to live in jerusalem) – but since you acknowledged that the day of revenge did not occur in Jesus’ lifetime then your application of Isaiah 35:5 to Jesus is another misquotation. That verse (35:5) begins with the word “then” referring to the previous verse which speaks of God’s revenge. In other words verse 5 will only occur when God arrives with revenge – which did not occur in Jesus’ lifetime as you just acknowledged.

As for your asking forgiveness. You have not offended me – so there is no need to ask forgiveness – I am appreciative that you are taking the time for this interaction – and I understand that you feel strongly about these issues just as you understand the same about me – so I am in no way offended when you express yourself forcefully.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      9th, 2011 @ 2:25 am

Rabbi Blumenthal,

Thanks for your lengthy post. In candor, your “judge and jury” reference struck me as a debating tactic on your end, but in any case, the facts speak for themselves, and I’m quite happy to leave things there. I do, however, take exception to the idea that I use debating tactics (again, maybe you’re projecting?). My goal is to get to the truth and to make it known, not to use “tactics.” Was this a poor choice of words on your end or simply a false charge? Either way, as stated, the facts speak for themselves, thank God.

With regard to the issue of alleged misquotation of biblical verses in my five volumes, thankfully, we are getting closer to the truth, and that is that you have not produced one such “misquotation” yet. With regard to my failure to cite one additional verse about sacrifices in the Messianic age, we’re making progress here too, since you agree that the verse I failed to cite is insignificant in terms of altering the overall argument. Moreover, to repeat, all the main points I made stand the same with regard to the verses cited, and more importantly, I acknowledge the possibility of a future Temple with future sacrifices, as do many other followers of Jesus, in memory of his atoning blood. But I also state, with other commentators, that the sacrifices could simply be a metaphor for worship. In any case, the sum of this interaction about the alleged misquotation is that I need to add one reference in the next printing and change “three verses” to “four verses.” Insignificant, indeed, is a good description of all this.

As for Deut 30, I certainly understood your point and responded to it, but it seems you’re still missing my point, which I’ll try to explain one more time. If someone says, “I believe the rain will stop before Wednesday afternoon,” and I say, “No. I saw the weather report, and it says that it will be raining on Wednesday afternoon,” it’s quite possible that the weather report said that the rain will continue through Friday. That remains possible, but that was not the point of the discussion. And that’s what has happened here. I was making one point, and one point only – one which you yourself affirm, namely, that it could be argued that, according to Deut 30, Torah observance will be relevant through this entire age, right until the coming of the Messiah. I was not saying or affirming or hinting of suggesting that Torah observance will not be relevant when the Messiah comes, according to Deut 30 (as, again, I discuss at the end of 6.10). You misread my text, imported your own understanding into it, and then claimed I misquoted the text. I fail to see how that could someone with your intelligence could possibly make this mistake, despite my repeated explanations, unless you were simply trying to score a point. Unfortunately, this only works against you. And so, to interact with the closing line of your paragraph on Deut 30, you really should get yourself a new dictionary.

Re: my point about the Messiah, I really did make myself clear, especially in light of the Appendix to vol. 3, where I laid this out explicitly. And I know you’re quite familiar with what I wrote there. As for the overall question of the role of the Messiah in Tanakh – yes, by all means, the reader should work through my presentation carefully and come to his or her conclusions before God.

As for Isaiah 53, there’s a reason that Chosen People Ministries took out an expensive ad in the New York Times simply featuring the text of Isaiah 53 from a Jewish translation, offering a follow-up book to those who were interested but simply letting the text speak for itself to the readers of the ad. And there’s a reason that some counter-missionaries (falsely) claim that the events of the NT were rewritten to conform to the prophecy of Isaiah 53! Would to God that every Jew in the world would get in a prayerful, quiet mode before Him and read this text slowly and carefully. You would be stunned with how many would have their eyes open to the subject of this chapter: Yeshua, our Messiah and King.

Re: Isaiah 61, if you feel you have something of substance to say, I’ll await that, and as for Isaiah 35, that is just like many other prophecies that have both an immediate and future application, such as prophecies from the return from Babylonian exile that say, “When this happens, then that will happen,” yet to date, only the first part has taken place. For more on this, see my Reflection in my Jeremiah commentary, following Jer 31:31-34. Thus, when you say that Isaiah 35 is “another” misquotation, you have contradicted the facts, since “another” presupposes a first, and thus far, you have provided none.

I realize you have taken time to interact as well, and I appreciate that, along with your closing comments. In light, however, of our frequent interaction and proven friendship, despite our differences, if I were initiating the discussion, I assure you my tone towards you would be different, as you know from the times I have made reference to you on my program.

Finally, should you find that alleged misquotation of a single verse of the Tanakh in any of my volumes, feel free to post it here. And perhaps Rabbi Otero would like to back his claim here on this site, namely, that there are many such examples. Otherwise, I’ll let the math speak for itself. To date: 0 + 0 + 0 = 0 in terms of alleged misquotations.

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      10th, 2011 @ 10:30 am

Dr. Brown

Since you open your post rejecting my charge that you act as self appointed judge and jury and since you close your post with a presentation of the “score” in our debate – I understand that you are not presenting a final “verdict” but rather that you were inviting me to present my version of the “score” – I accept your invitation wholeheartedly.

According to my math, the score now stands at 4 misquotes and 2 very misleading statements.

Here are the calculations I used to arrive at my conclusion – feel free to point to any flaws you may find in my calculations.

1) Your omission of Isaiah 56:7, 60:7, Malachi 3:3,4, Ezekiel 20:40, 41 in a section (Volume 2 Objection 3.17) where you purport to supply an exhaustive list of verses that speak of sacrifices in the Messianic era.

The fact that you insist that Isaiah 56:7 and Ezekiel20:40,41 are not Messianic doesn’t make them “not Messianic”. A verse that describes theTempleinJerusalemas a house of prayer for all nations – seems quite “Messianic” to me – after all – it hasn’t happened yet, or has it? And a passage that speaks of “all of the house of Israel” worshiping God at the Temple in Jerusalem – also sounds “Messianic” to me – according to my understanding of history – this didn’t happen in the Second Temple era – with most of the population remaining in Babylon and the Ten Tribes in exile. Perhaps you can explain your position to the readership beyond the simple statements that they are not Messianic. The same applies to Malachi 3:3,4. You insist that these verses have a “spiritual application in Jesus”. Would you care to explain how this statement negates the straightforward meaning of: “The offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in days of old and as in former years” – Or do you want to argue that this also has already come to pass?

2) Your claim that Isaiah 53 describes a “sinless” servant (on pages 51 and 52 of volume 3 – I paraphrased you here – If misunderstood – please correct.)

Yes, I recognize that this passage standing alone causes people to think of Jesus, just as white script on a red background causes people to think of Coca Cola – all this signifies is the success of a 2000 year old advertising campaign. The purpose of our discussion is to encourage people to try to forget their preconceived notions – and focus on the prophetic text itself. Let us turn to verse 9 – Would you agree that the Hebrew word “al” which connects the two halves of the verse – means in this context “for” – as in “for no violence that he has done”?

3) Your claim that Jesus’ alleged miracles is a fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-3. (Volume 4 pg. 268)

I say this for three reasons. A) The passage makes no mention of miracles, B) The passage speaks of comforting “Zion’s mourners” – which I understand to be a reference to the national mourning mentioned in 60:21 (- and feel free to correct me if I you think I am wrong). Whichever way you slice it – Jesus did not bring comfort to the grief of the nation – he certainly didn’t comfort “all mourners”. C) the passage speaks of God’s day of vengeance – an event that you acknowledge that has not happened. If you are satisfied with an interpretation that reads: “first-coming, first-coming, first-coming, second-coming, first-coming, first-coming” – without any textual justification for the switch between the advents – that is your prerogative. I call it a misquotation of Scripture.

4) Your claim that Isaiah 35:5 and 6 was fulfilled by Jesus.

These two verses begin with the word “then” – specifying a particular time frame for the fulfillment of this prophecy. The time frame is explained in verse 4 which mentions the vengeance of God – which is yet to come as you acknowledged. Arbitrarily picking which details of the prophecy are “first-coming” and which are “second-coming” without any textual justification (as you have done in 61:1-3) – is bad enough. Doing so when the prophet explicitly links the two with the word “then” – is much worse.

The two misleading statements are:

1) Volume 1 Page 70 – “…nowhere in our Scripture does it explicitly say, “When the Messiah comes there will be peace on earth”. Since all you mean to say is that the word “Messiah” is never used to describe the redeemer of Israel – it would have been more accurate to say: “…nowhere in or Scripture does it explicitly refer to the redeemer as Messiah”. The choice of words that you used indicate that the Scriptures do speak of the Messiah doing things other than bringing peace – especially in the context of your critique of the Jewish expectation of Messiah to bring peace as “circular reasoning”, “seriously flawed” and the implication that it is without biblical basis.

2) Your statement in Volume 5 page 164 where you present the Jewish argument about the centrality of Torah observance with the words: “right until the last moment before the Messianic age”. Since all you meant was that the argument can be made for Torah observance indefinitely – which includes all of the time up to the Messianic age – as well as the time during the Messianic age itself – wouldn’t it have been more to accurate to express yourself with the words “at least until the Messianic age”? Do you realize how the words: “right until the last moment before” could lead the reader to think that Deuteronomy 30 does not speak of observance beyond that point?

I understood from your words that you take exception to some of the terminology I have used – specifically my reference to “debating tactics” and perhaps to this entire discussion about “misquotations”. Please be sure that I am in no way judging you or your motives. I am in no way accusing you of doing these things in a conscious deliberate way. It is just that I see these errors in your writings – there are two possibilities – either it is my bias or human error that has me seeing these errors – or it is your bias and human error that produced these errors. The premise of this discussion is that if we both present our arguments and counter-arguments – the truth will emerge. It may take time – but with patience and with God’s help – it will happen. So I ask your forgiveness if I offended you, and I thank you again for taking the time to interact.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      10th, 2011 @ 10:50 am

Rabbi Blumenthal,

One quick note: You have yet to provide a single example of a misquote. Let’s keep the record straight. I’ll respond more to the rest of your post, ASAP.

Thanks, as always, for posting, and be assured that you never offended me in any way. I was surprised to see some of the terminology you used, but I was not in the least offended.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      10th, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal,

One further note about “misquotations,” before time permits me to write a more full answer. In some instances, you are actually accusing Jesus of wrongly using the Scriptures (which, of course, would not surprise me), since I have simply quoted his words accurately, as he quoted from the Tanakh. Again, this has nothing to do with a “misquotation” on my part — I will emphasize that yet again, since words have meanings, and you cannot change the meaning of a word just to suit your argument — but rather with the question of an alleged misinterpretation of a passage. Using, however, your redefinition of “misquotation,” there are thousands of them throughout rabbinic literature, sometimes several on every page, as you surely know, hence the need to use words according to their meaning, not according to a new spin put on them. But my point here, again, is that your issue is with Yeshua in some of these verses, not with me.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      10th, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

To give readers here an idea of what a misquotation is, see this link for some examples: http://listverse.com/2008/05/15/top-10-famous-historic-misquotes/.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      10th, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal,

At last times affords me the opportunity to respond in what I hope will be the last post in this current exchange.

With regard to your “calculations,” again, we start with definitions, and if the question is, “How many apples are in the room?” and I say, “There are none,” but you reply, “I’m now saying that oranges are apples and there are three in the room,” you have proved nothing except that you are changing the meaning of words. So, your calculations are not the biggest issue (although I’ll dispute those two); your definitions are wrong, and so I repeat once more (hopefully for the last time): You have not yet provided a single example of a misquotation in a single line of my books yet.
1) Again, there is no question here of misquotations but only of whether I cited every relevant verse on the subject of possible future animal sacrifices. We agreed that the omission of one verse was “insignificant,” but it’s an oversight I intend to correct in the next printing; and I’m quite happy to add a parenthetical comment that some would also cite the other verses you list. Again, not a syllable of the major points I made is affected by the addition or subtraction of any of these verses. Readers with even the slightest question can review the relevant section of vol. 2 of my series.

2) It is not an “advertising campaign” that causes people to see Jesus in Isaiah 53. It is the plain meaning of the words. To use your analogy, if someone sees the words Coca Cola and thinks of Coca Cola, it’s not because of good advertising; it’s because that what the words say. With regard to v. 9, it is saying that these terrible things were done to him, even though he had not been guilty of any violent act that would have merited such treatment.

3) With regard to my citation of Isaiah 61, I am simply quoting Yeshua’s own words and application found in Luke 4, so you can claim that he misapplied the text (which, of course, I reject), but I’m not misquoting anything. I’m simply repeating what he said. As to his fulfilling this, I still find it extraordinary that you claim that these words CANNOT include physical healing and deliverance from demonic bondage: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor . . .” No healing and miracles in this? Seriously? As for comforting “all mourners,” all who look to him are comforted, as countless millions can confess. As for your argument that, on my reading of the text, we have ““first-coming, first-coming, first-coming, second-coming, first-coming, first-coming” in reality, there are some things that did unfold with the first coming, some that are in progress, and some that will unfold with Messiah’s return. Again, if you study carefully the prophecies re: the return from Babylonian exile, you will find similar patterns, as I stated above. I do, however, concur with your final statement: “I call it a misquotation of Scripture.” Indeed. You call it that, but it is not.

4) Re: Isaiah 35, again, your argument would be with Yeshua, who points to this passage in Matthew 11 and Luke 7, and I simply follow him in my understanding of the text. That being said, please see the point I made, immediately above, re: prophetic application, which applies with the “then” verses as well. There are prophecies that declare when our people returned from Babylonian exile, then A, B, and C would take place, but actually, A took place; part of B; and none of C (or, a variation thereof). The same principle applies here.

Re: my alleged misleading statements:

1) I believe my point was totally clear, especially to anyone reading the first point in the Appendix to vol. 3. In fact, to my knowledge, out of the thousands of readers of these books, you’re the first one (again, to my knowledge), who made an issue out of this, and others who have read this found it to be perfectly clear. If I took in everyone’s input in terms of how to write each sentence in my books, they would be thousands of pages long, not hundreds, and a lot more unclear.

2) I am in 100% disagreement with your point. The whole issue I was discussing for two pages was whether the Tanakh indicated that Torah observance would be required in this age until the Messiah established his kingdom on the earth, and I cited Deuteronomy 30 to that affect. Perfectly clear in context, with a further reference to section 6.10 (in the book, there was a typo saying 6.12, as you know) where the related questions are also discussed. Honestly, I cannot see how it is possible to misunderstand my point here unless you came to the text with a totally preconceived idea. In that case, it would be like listening to me speak at a Father’s Day celebration in which I paid tribute to my late father, only to leave and say, “And why didn’t he speak more about his mother?” So, I haven’t the slightest problem to say that yes, it was your reading something into my point that was the problem, not what I actually stated.

I know we could go around this endlessly, but at this point, I feel confident that impartial readers will agree that you have not produced a single misquotation of a biblical verse in any of my books, although I do appreciate your efforts and I will, as stated, add in the missing reference (or references) to the discussion in vol. 2.

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      12th, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

Dr. Brown

Thanks for taking the time for this interaction. I hope this will not be the last response in this exchange. When discussing deeply held convictions I don’t expect matters to be resolved instantaneously. I expect a long tedious drawn out step by step discussion – but one that ultimately leads to the truth.

It seems that you have some problems with my dictionary. That being the case, I will allow you to provide the definitions of the various errors in your books that I will be bringing up. Except, of-course, in those situations where you have already provided a dictionary – in those cases I will be using your own dictionary.

To put this conversation in context. You put out your five volumes. I studied them and found them wanting (- is it OK for me to use that word?). I wrote three critiques of your books; Contra Brown, The Elephant and the Suit and Supplement to Contra Brown, in which I pointed, not only to misinterpretations – but to outright errors.

Now when you put forth the challenge on your radio show to present one example of a misquotation in your five volumes, I feel it is my duty to step up to that challenge. Having studied your five volumes, and having found the errors that I found, I feel that leaving your challenge unanswered, will serve to perpetuate a false impression about your five volumes.

I chose five misrepresentations of Scripture that appear in your five volumes. Two of these turned out to be misunderstandings, which brought us to the question as to whether it was you who used misleading words or was it me who is at fault for misunderstanding. I am satisfied to leave these two to the readers to read the appropriate texts and come to their own conclusions.

Regarding the other three “errors” (again – I am leaving it to you to supply the dictionary, and to categorize the “errors”) I think that my words will add some clarity.

Regarding your omission of four Scriptural texts from a section in which you point to the dearth of Scriptural mention of the matter (future sacrifices) in order to justify a “symbolic” interpretation, and in order to downplay these sacrifices (”hardly major subjects”) – is noteworthy. Especially in light of the fact that the number of verses that speak of future sacrifices exceeds the number of verses that speak of “Messiah’s miracles” – and in light of the fact that there is no contextual justification for the symbolic interpretation in the case of the future sacrifices, while there is ample contextual justification for a symbolic interpretation of “Messiah’s miracles” – (which you yourself acknowledge in your commentary to Jeremiah 31:8-9 on page 385). – Again – I am leaving it to you to provide the definition.

Regarding Isaiah 53 – we are moving closer to the truth here. Using your own commentary on the relevant verse (53:9) – “these terrible things were done to him, even though he had not been guilty of any violent act that would have merited such treatment.” – I now have a question for you – Do you believe that the Jewish people who were killed on the basis of the accusation that they murder Christian children – were guilty of violent acts that merited such treatment? Your question on page 52 of volume 3 where you ask the readers when it was that we, as a nation, had no deceit on our lips or violence in our midst – and you refer to this verse – is unjustified according to your own commentary. For the verse to apply to someone – that someone need not be completely innocent – all that is necessary is that the servant be undeserving of the treatment meted out to him.

Furthermore, on page 52 of volume 3, you point to Isaiah 53:12 as saying that the servant “did not sin”. Where did you see those words in the verse?

Regarding the your errors relating to the “miracles of the Messiah” – I need not wait for you to provide a definition since you have already done so in your books. Let me explain. The Jewish belief that the Messiah is supposed to bring peace is ridiculed by you as “a serious flaw to the objection”, and “the reasoning is circular” (vol. 1, pg. 69) – on the basis of the fact that the word “Messiah” is not mentioned in the Scriptural texts that prophesy an era of peace. In volume 3 on pages 178 you pass judgment on Maimonides for believing that Messiah will rebuild the Temple and will not necessarily preform miracles with the words “he missed the mark” – you go further to impute malicious motives to Maimonides: “painting a picture of the Messiah that would be in agreement with Rabbinic Judaism and that would rule out Yeshua as a candidate”. On page 179 you contrast the “Maimonidean description” of the Messiah with the “biblical description” – as if Maimonides’ description is not rooted in the Bible. On what basis? Because the prediction of Messiah building aTempleis “found in only one prophetic book” (page 172), because the timing doesn’t work out (pages 174, 175), and because the Messiah is not mentioned in one of the passages that speak of a futureTemple(endnote 335). You spend several pages arguing for a non-literal interpretation of the Temple related prophecies (pages 174-178) despite the fact that there are many prophecies about the Temple in the Messianic age scattered through many of the prophetic books – some of which clearly mention the person of Messiah, and despite the fact that there is no contextual justification for this non-literal interpretation.

Now let us turn to your contention that the Messiah must preform miracles on the basis of 3 passages in Isaiah (volume 4 page 268). Let us note that they appear in only one of the prophetic books, one of these references does not mention the person of the Messiah (Isaiah 35) to say nothing of the fact that none of them mention the word “Messiah”, one of these references does not mention miracles (Isaiah 61), the timing doesn’t work out for any of the references (they all tie in with the ultimate revenge against Israel’s enemies), and the overall context implies a non-literal interpretation (33:23, 41:17, 42:16, 43:8,20, 49:9-13, 52:11-12, Jeremiah 31:7).

Using your own standards, and using your own dictionary – your arguments are “seriously flawed”, your reasoning is “circular”, “you have missed the mark”, and we should contrast your description of the Messiah with the Bible’s description of the same with the recognition that your description is not rooted in the Biblical texts. (- I won’t go to the malicious motives).

If you are satisfied with the technical argument that your error is not a “misquotation”, that is fine. I trust though that the readers of these posts will understand why this error of yours is a legitimate response to your challenge.

I have more to say on the subject, specifically as it relates to the identity of the “mourners ofZion”, and to your arguments regarding the timing of the Messianic prophecies, but this post has already become too long – I trust that with further interaction these will be hammered out.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      13th, 2011 @ 1:24 am

Rabbi Blumenthal,

Unfortunately, time doesn’t permit me to have long and tedious discussions with anyone online, including you, and if you recall, one reason that we agreed to talk by phone was to attempt to cover issues we couldn’t cover (or, at least I didn’t have time to cover) in writing. I will, of course, try to find time to respond, but for the moment, it appears that you at last agree that, with a proper definition of the word “misquotation,” you did not provide a single example of a misquotation of Scripture in 1,500 pages of my books. So at least we are making progress. (And my challenge on the radio was specifically to the rabbi who made the false claim; you are welcome, of course, to attempt to back his claim, but as you see, it falls flat.)

For those who don’t have the energy to read through all of our posts, I simply wanted to point out again then that, with all your posts and arguments, you have produced ZERO misquotations from Scripture in my books.

As I have the time, I’ll try to demonstrate that you have also failed to point out a single misunderstanding of misrepresentation of the Scriptures in my books as well. As for alleged errors that you have exposed in your other articles, I look forward to setting that record straight as well, even pointing out errors (and/or gross misinterpretations) in your articles.

With you, I remain utterly committed to the confidence that God’s truth will triumph. And I am blessed to know the one who said, “I am the truth.”

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      13th, 2011 @ 1:30 am

Rabbi Blumenthal,

One more point. Please notice that with each answer I provide, you move on to other matters in my books and other quotes, bringing new charges when your first charges are rebutted. You do realize, then, that we could spend the next 20 years going around like this, and with each point I answer, you raise a new one, which then requires me to refute the new point, which then requires you to move to something new to try to buttress your points (your [mis]treatment of Isaiah 53 would be a perfect example of this). Again, I’m pointing this out for the sake of other readers here, but with the hope that you recognize it as well.

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      13th, 2011 @ 9:25 am

Dr. Brown
In response to your first point (61)I still stand by my original statements that your declaration of the paucity of verse in Scriptrue that speak of sacrifices in the Messianic era, your claim that Isaiah 53 depicts a sinless servant and your claim that Isaiah 61:1-3 requires that the Messiah preform miracles, are “misquotations” – I simply did not want to argue with you about the precise definition of “misquotation” (which is beside the point) – so I offered to go with your dictionary – if you are satsified that it is only a “glaring inconsistency” as opposed to a “misquotation” – I will let you enjoy that satisfaction – but this doesn’t mean that I agree with you – it just means that I will not argue with you about it.
In response to your last point (62). I hereby copy the words I used the first time I brought up Isaiah 53 on this thread:
From Volume 3 page 50
“Throughout Isaiah 52:13-53:12 the servant is depicted as completely righteous”
The fact is that the servant is depicted in one half of one verse as innocent of the crimes that his oppresors accuse him of – which is a far cry from “throughout Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12″ and a far cry from “completely righteous”
How exactly am I changing the subject?
One last point – are you claiming that there is not a single “misunderstanding” of Scripture and not a single “misrepresentation” of Scripture in your five volumes? Would you also claim that your five volumes are free from inherent inconsistencies?

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      13th, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal,

Again, the debate is not between “my dictionary” vs. “your dictionary.” You simply made up a new definition for “misquotation,” I corrected that, and we can move on to areas of substance. As for “glaring inconsistencies,” that is your charge, not something I agree with.

As for changing the arguments re: Isaiah 53, look at the new arguments you have brought in, which, I trust, with your logical mind, you can realize extend beyond your initial arguments. If that’s not clear to you, then, God willing and time permitting, I’ll demonstrate my points later.

As for your last question in #63, I wrote every word of the 1,500 pages of my five volumes interpreting Scripture as accurately as possible, and thus without any conscious misunderstanding or misrepresentation of Scripture or any inherent inconsistencies. To date, out of everything I’ve read critiquing the volumes, there have been a number of very minor points that needed correction (and nothing of any substance), and for that I am grateful, given the scope of the work.

Is it possible that more such examples will surface where I need to sharpen an argument or make a minor correction? Certainly, it is, but I’m equally confident that all major points will stand unaffected, and as I have time to rebut the more major critiques of my books, it will be seen that the critiques are flawed, not my books (especially in terms of fundamental arguments). Finally, whatever flaws there are in a work such as this, produced by a frail human being, I am 100% sure that there are no such errors in the New Testament and that all attacks on the Messiahship of Yeshua will fall to the ground, utterly ineffective.

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      13th, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

Dr. Brown
I agree that it is not a debate between “my dictionary” and “your dictionary” – that is why I am willing to go with your dictionary in this discussion (although I may still disagree with some of your definitions – but for argument’s sake – I am willing to use whichever dictionary you propose)
As for my changing the subject on Isaiah 53 – I look forward to your comments – I don’t see any changing of the subject – but that could be because of my bias and because of the factor of human error – please go ahead and explain.
As for your writing without any conscious misunderstanding or misrepresentation – I concur with you. As I said and will reiterate – I am not accusing you of consciously distorting anything – any errors could be produced by the human error factor – be it bias or human limitations. What I am saying is that from my perspective – your books are flawed to the degree that your central arguments do NOT stand. I spelled many of these out in the articles I mentioned. For those who have not read my articles – I spelled out 3 of my arguments in post # 60 above. I am sure that the readers of these posts are waiting for your responses as much as I am.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      13th, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal, of course you feel my books are flawed to the point that my central arguments do not stand. Fully understood! Otherwise, you would be preaching Yeshua by now.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November 16th, 2011 @ 1:10 am

Rabbi Blumenthal,

I finally have a few minutes to respond more fully to post #60.

You wrote: “Regarding your omission of four Scriptural texts from a section in which you point to the dearth of Scriptural mention of the matter (future sacrifices) in order to justify a ‘symbolic’ interpretation, and in order to downplay these sacrifices (‘hardly major subjects’) – is noteworthy. Especially in light of the fact that the number of verses that speak of future sacrifices exceeds the number of verses that speak of ‘Messiah’s miracles’ – and in light of the fact that there is no contextual justification for the symbolic interpretation in the case of the future sacrifices, while there is ample contextual justification for a symbolic interpretation of ‘Messiah’s miracles’ – (which you yourself acknowledge in your commentary to Jeremiah 31:8-9 on page 385). – Again – I am leaving it to you to provide the definition.”

First, we differ on the number of texts omitted, but that’s beside the point, since the texts repeat the same theme, and, in most cases, there is ambiguity in terms of the types of sacrifices that will be offered if in the future. At the same time, many interpreters recognize that, say, references to an army with horses and riders at the end of the age may simply be using the language of the prophet’s day to convey future imagery and it is possible that the same could be true of sacrificial language, which, we both know, is already sometimes used metaphorically in the Tanakh (see, e.g., Ps 141:2). And so, it is fair to ask if Mal1:11speaks of literal incense that the Gentiles will offer up or if it could refer to spiritual worship. With regard to the question of the Messiah’s miracles, I’ll take that up below.

You wrote: “Regarding Isaiah 53 – we are moving closer to the truth here. Using your own commentary on the relevant verse (53:9) – ‘these terrible things were done to him, even though he had not been guilty of any violent act that would have merited such treatment.’ – I now have a question for you – Do you believe that the Jewish people who were killed on the basis of the accusation that they murder Christian children – were guilty of violent acts that merited such treatment? Your question on page 52 of volume 3 where you ask the readers when it was that we, as a nation, had no deceit on our lips or violence in our midst – and you refer to this verse – is unjustified according to your own commentary. For the verse to apply to someone – that someone need not be completely innocent – all that is necessary is that the servant be undeserving of the treatment meted out to him.”

Here is where I feel you bring in a new argument, namely, what about Jews were killed because of libelous charges brought against them by alleged Christians. Were they guilty of violence or deceit? But that is an irrelevant question, since ALL the verses in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 have to fit the servant, not just one or two. With regard to the example you used, the false Christians were not healed by the wounds of the Jews whom they killed (53:5); nor did they make many righteous (53:11); and rather than making intercession for their killers (53:12), they were more likely to curse them and call for justice against them. These are just some of the most obvious examples of how the picture you are trying to paint simply doesn’t work.

You wrote: “Furthermore, on page 52 of volume 3, you point to Isaiah 53:12 as saying that the servant ‘did not sin’. Where did you see those words in the verse?”

What I wrote was this: “Note carefully that the servant was not smitten by God because of his guilt but rather because of the guilt of others (Isa. 53:4, 8). The servant was not guilty! The others transgressed, committed iniquity, and went astray (vv. 5–6). Not so the servant of the Lord! He bore the sin of many, but he himself did not sin (v. 12). This description fits Yeshua perfectly. In no way does it describe the people ofIsrael(or any other people for that matter).”

So, I was simply repeating what the text says: They/we sinned; he suffered for our sins. The text speaks of their sins, not his sin. Fairly simple and straightforward. I did not even say here, “The text says he was sinless” (of course, I believe he was); rather, the text says, “He bore the sin of many, but he himself did not sin” (according to what is written here). Also, it would be implied by his being a guilt offering, which presumably had to be without blemish.

With regard to the Messiah’s miracles (and your still unproved allegation that there were errors in my treatment of this concept), because of the length of your critique, I’ll interact it with it here without posting all of it. First, you still not explained – not even in the slightest – how these words do not readily include physical healing and deliverance from demonic oppression: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me as a herald of joy to the humble, To bind up the wounded of heart, To proclaim release to the captives, Liberation to the imprisoned” (Isa 61:1). Would you actually say that the Messiah will heal emotional wounds and not physical wounds? That those bound by sickness and demonic power are not “captives” needing release or “prisoners” needing liberation?
You claim that, “The Jewish belief that the Messiah is supposed to bring peace is ridiculed by [me] as ‘a serious flaw to the objection’, and ‘the reasoning is circular’ (vol. 1, pg. 69) – on the basis of the fact that the word ‘Messiah’ is not mentioned in the Scriptural texts that prophesy an era of peace.” But you miss the whole point of the discussion, which totally affirms that the Messiah’s mission will culminate with him bringing peace to the earth. Rather, my point is this (and clearly made there): How do you know that there is not more to the Messiah’s mission? How do you know that there aren’t other things that he has to do first? Based on Scripture, I can demonstrate there are (and I do so in this same section in vol. 1).

With regard to my differences with Maimonides, are you saying that he wrote in a vacuum and didn’t contain obvious polemics in his writings, even in his thirteen principles? Are you saying that he was not clearly explaining why, in his judgment, Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah? And is there no possibility that the Talmudic rabbis recreated the Messiah to some extent as a teacher like themselves (as Jacob Neusner and others have argued)?

With regard to my questions about the literality of the future Temple (which I stated plainly could be literal and future), I am simply working through difficult texts (especially Ezek 40-48, which in context should have been the Second Temple, rebuilt after the return from Babylonian exile, with Ezekiel participating as a priest), texts that even caused problems for the traditional Jewish interpreters. As an exegete of Scripture, I’m asking: Must this be literal, or are there other possible interpretations? I do my best to lay out both views fairly and honestly.

Returning to the issue of the Messiah’s miracles, we already have the pattern established with Moses and Elijah and others, who were accredited by God (in part) by their miracles, and a final Messianic application of Deut 18 and the prophet like Moses can readily be given. So, as Moses was a miracle worker, so also would the Messiah be, but even greater than Moses (according to the Midrash to Isa 52:13). As noted above, Isa 61:1ff. can be fairly interpreted to include miracles of healing and deliverance, whereas all the verses you cite (Isa 35; 33:23, 41:17, 42:16, 43:8,20, 49:9-13, 52:11-12, Jer 31:7) could very easily include literal miracles as well. In fact, you could say that by Yeshua performing many of these miracles, he was pointing to the reality of the rest of the future promises spoken of in these texts. And as I have stated repeatedly (see also the extended Reflection in my Jeremiah commentary following Jer 31:34), the promises of the return from Babylonian exile often contain “final” promises as well (total national unity in the worship and service of God; the nations turning to God because of Israel’s obedience; the Messianic reign; the destruction of Israel’s enemies; etc.), yet these prophecies were only fulfilled in part, with the literal return of about 44,000 exiles and the rebuilding of the Temple being a down payment and deposit of the rest that would many centuries later. The same is true with the work of the Messiah, again, as explained in the Reflection just cited.

So, at this point, we can turn your own words against you: “Using your own standards, and using your own dictionary – your arguments are ‘seriously flawed’, your reasoning is ‘circular’, ‘you have missed the mark’, and we should contrast your description of the Messiah with the Bible’s description of the same with the recognition that your description is not rooted in the Biblical texts.”

I trust the reader will see again that not only have you failed to provide a single misquotation (that was clear fairly early), but you have not provided an example of a misinterpretation of a text yet either. The only thing you have provided is a text or two that should have been cited in one discussion, which I appreciate, and which will cause me to modify one sentence in a very minor way, without in the least affecting the substance of a single word on that page.

Shall we move forward to other, more fruitful interaction, now that this has been sufficiently addressed?

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November      16th, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

Dr. Brown
I deeply appreciate your response – and I will God- willing put the flaws I see in your arguments in writing in the near future and post them here. Your comment at the end of your post “now that this has been sufficiently addressed” – is your own judgment of your argumentation – my judgment is quite the opposite.

  1. Dr Michael L Brown
    November      16th, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

Rabbi Blumenthal,

As I wrote those words (which you addressed in #72), I anticipated your response, of course, as I’m sure you anticipated I would anticipate. Such is the nature of our ongoing dialogue.

But from my honest perspective, I have sufficiently addressed and refuted your points, which is why I wrote what I did. In any case, I’m sure that at some point, you will realize that we have dissected the subject as much as possible without coming to agreement, although, by God’s grace, I do hope to persuade you.

  1. yisroel blumenthal
    November 19th, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

Dr. Brown

As I stated in post # 60, our disagreements stand on 3 issues; the biblical basis for the Jewish expectation for a restoration of future sacrifices, the biblical basis for your contention that the servant of Isaiah 53 is completely innocent, and the biblical basis for the Christian expectation that the Messiah must perform miracles.

These three can be grouped into two categories; Messianic expectation, and interpretation of Isaiah 53 (in other words, the first and third disagreement both focus on Messianic expectation).

On the issue of Messianic expectation:

The two opposing positions are:

My position – The Temple and future sacrifices are both coming back in a literal sense, while the passages that seem to indicate that messiah will perform miracles can be interpreted in a symbolic way (i.e. that the opening of the eyes of the blind is just a metaphor used by the prophet to describe Israel’s return from exile).

Your position (please correct me if I have misunderstood your position) – The Messiah must perform miracles in a literal sense, while the biblical passages that speak of theTempleand the future sacrifices can be interpreted in a symbolic way.

In your books, you present biblical evidence to support your position and to discount my position. You seem to have such confidence in your arguments that you are willing to pass judgment (- note, you “pass judgment”, you are not presenting “possibilities”) on Maimonides with the words: “There is NO DOUBT that he missed the mark, PAINTING A PICTURE of the Messiah that would be in agreement with Rabbinic Judaism and would rule out Yeshua as a candidate.” (emphasis added)

One of the arguments that you use in order to downplay the significance of future offerings and a futureTempleis your claim that there are not so many Scriptural passages that speak of these Messianic expectations. (In the case of future offerings you make the point on page 182 of volume 2, and in the case of theTempleyou make your point on pages 171 and 172 of volume 3. Perhaps you would care to explain to the readers why it is, that throughout your five volumes, you NEVER apply this standard (the limited number of passages) to the biblical basis of any Christian doctrine.)

For argument’s sake, let us put aside Ezekiel 40 – 48 (- not that I agree that these should be put aside. I believe that these are significant Messianic prophecies – it’s just that in order to simplify the argument – I will not take you up on this issue here and now). Let us list the prophecies that speak of a futureTemple, let us list the prophecies that speak of future offerings and let us list the prophecies that speak of Messiah’s miracles.

Future Temple: Isaiah 2:2; 56:7; 60:7,13; Jeremiah 33:11; Ezekiel 37:28; Joel 4:18; Micah 4:1; Zechariah 14:20,21. This is aside from Zechariah 6:12, which you describe in your interview with Lee Strobel as: “the most overt passage in the Bible where a human being is explicitly identified with a Messianic figure” (pg. 199).

Future sacrifices: Isaiah 56:7; 60:7; Jeremiah 33:11,18; Ezekiel 20:40,41; Malachi 3:3,4.

Messiah’s miracles: Isaiah 35:5,6; 42:7; 61:1.

So what exactly was your point about the number of passages?

Another argument you present in order to discredit Maimonides’ opinion about the Messiah’s role in building the futureTempleis that in Messiah is not mentioned in some of the passages that speak of the futureTemple(vol. 3, endnote 335). You use this same argument to discount another Jewish expectation about the Messiah (vol. 1 page 70).

This same argument works against you because Isaiah 35:5,6; doesn’t mention a Messianic figure either. Furthermore, it could be argued that Isaiah 42 and 61 are speaking of the prophet and not the Messiah, while no-one would argue that Ezekiel 37 is not talking of the Messiah, and according to your own commentary, Zechariah 6 is an “explicit” reference to a Messianic figure.

Another argument that you present to discount the Jewish position is that the context of Zechariah 6 seems to indicate that the prophet was speaking about theSecondTempleand not the third. Do you realize that if we apply this standard, of the Scriptural context determining the timing of the prophecy, then all of the prophecies relating to the miracles of the Messiah must be discounted, while many of the prophecies relating to the future Temple and to future offerings still stand. All of the prophecies relating to Messiah’s miracles are linked with God’s revenge againstIsrael’s enemies (35:4; 42:13; 61:2), which did not yet happen.

You say that you do your best to lay out both views (literalTemplevs. symbolicTemple) fairly and honestly. And I agree with you that it is fair and honest to ask this question (literal vs. symbolic). But wouldn’t you agree that if we are going to be fair and honest – we should apply the same question to the miracles of the Messiah? If you would have done so you would have realized that there is ample contextual evidence to indicate that when Isaiah spoke of “opening the eyes of the blind” – he was not referring to a literal healing of a few blind people, but rather to Israel’s release from the bondage of exile (Isaiah 33:23, 41:17, 42:16, 43:8,20; 49:9-13, 52:11-12, Jeremiah 31:7). When it comes to the futureTempleand to future offerings, the immediate context does not give us any implication that the prophecies are symbolic.

Furthermore, while it is true that the Scriptures sometimes do use the offerings and theTempleas symbolic metaphors – but there is a limit. As far as I can see, the Scriptures never specify a particular type of sheep (such as in Isaiah 60:7) as a symbolic metaphor (Hosea 14:3 would be the closest).

To summarize: – Wouldn’t you agree that it is fair and honest that if you are going to ask questions about the Jewish expectations about the Messiah (dearth of Scriptural texts, mention of the Messiah or lack thereof, timing) – that you should be asking the same questions about the Christian expectations of the Messiah?

Let’s move on to the next issue; interpretation of Isaiah 53.

You complained in a previous post that you answer my question but then I move on to present another question. In this part of the discussion – you have not answered my original question – and it is you who has introduced new arguments. I will address your new arguments (I have no problem if you want to introduce new arguments – but don’t complain that I am doing it) – but first I will ask you to answer my first question: Is the innocence described in Isaiah 53:9 – and I limit the question to this one verse – such an innocence that it precludes corporate Israel – or can it be applied to corporate Israel?

You did respond to my next question, which was – where does Isaiah 53:12 say that the servant did not sin? – you responded by pointing to the fact that the servant suffered for the guilt of others, and the prophet describes the guilt of others – in a way that gives us to understand that the servant did not share in their guilt. I agree to this point – I believe that the servant did not share in the guilt of those who persecuted him – but this does not make him “without sin”. It certainly doesn’t preclude corporate Israel – both Isaiah and Micah describe Israel as righteous in contrast with the Gentile nations who persecute her – the prophet makes it clear that Israel does not share in the guilt of the nations, – although she is certainly guilty of her own sins towards God (Isaiah 26:2,13; 40:31; 49:23; 51:7; 54:17; 60:21; 62:2; Micah 7:8,9).

To respond to the new questions you brought up – How doesIsraelbring healing to her persecutors with her wounds? – and how do they make intercession for their killers?

Jeremiah commands the Jewish people to pray for the Babylonians (who killed them), and throughout history the Jewish people took this injunction seriously – to pray for their host nations – nations including Czarist Russia and medievalSpain. There is no question that God was more favorably inclined to these Jewish prayers on account of the suffering that the Jewish people endured – Psalm 34:19.

You ask; how do the Jewish people make many righteous? – This is a future prophecy that will ultimately be fulfilled as Isaiah describes 60:3.

You point out that as a guilt offering – the servant would have to be without blemish. You understand this to mean that he would have to be sinless. I would respond with the point that since we are not talking about an animal offering – this requirement does not apply (the animal did not have to be sinless – it had to be free of physical blemishes). The guilt offering that the Philistines gave to God (1Samuel 6) did not have to be “without blemish” or did it? In any case – my understanding of this passage is that it actually indicates the servant’s guilt. No one in Scripture brings a guilt offering unless they are guilty. The prophet is saying that in order for the servant to achieve God’s purpose he must acknowledge his own guilt – in keeping with Leviticus 26:40 and Micah 7:9.

A note to the readers of these posts: Dr. Brown and I have reached an agreement where we would space out our responses to each other with a minimum of a week’s interval. This is simply due to the heavy schedules that we both are tied to – we both recognize the importance of this exchange – but we also respect each other’s previous commitments.

258.Dr Michael L Brown
December 15th, 2011 @ 12:23 am

Rabbi Blumenthal,

I am finally able to respond to post #79. You noted that our disagreements here “stand on 3 issues; the biblical basis for the Jewish expectation for a restoration of future sacrifices, the biblical basis for your contention that the servant of Isaiah 53 is completely innocent, and the biblical basis for the Christian expectation that the Messiah must perform miracles. These three can be grouped into two categories; Messianic expectation, and interpretation of Isaiah 53 (in other words, the first and third disagreement both focus on Messianic expectation).”

Re: Messianic expectation, you state that your position is: “The Temple and future sacrifices are both coming back in a literal sense, while the passages that seem to indicate that messiah will perform miracles can be interpreted in a symbolic way (i.e. that the opening of the eyes of the blind is just a metaphor used by the prophet to describe Israel’s return from exile).” In contrast, you state that I believe that, “The Messiah must perform miracles in a literal sense, while the biblical passages that speak of theTempleand the future sacrifices can be interpreted in a symbolic way.”

Actually, since you ask me to correct you if misunderstood my position, I’ll clarify: There are passages in the Tanakh that could well state that the Messiah had to perform miracles (thus far, I don’t see a single instance of you refuting this possibility with regard to the texts cited). When he came performing extraordinary miracles for the glory of God for three years, quoting some of the relevant texts from the Tanakh as background, we now have confirmation of the meaning of these texts. Let us not discount what the Messiah did! Surely you can accept the concept that things become clearer when the Messiah is actually here.

In contrast, the passages speaking of future sacrifices and the rebuilding of theTempleare yet future and therefore not as clear. Furthermore, some of them clearly occur in the context of the return from the exile and the rebuilding of the Second Temple (see all of Ezek 40-48, of course, following on the heels of Ezek 36, not to mention the whole context of Ezekiel; see also Zech 6, in terms of the rebuilding of that Temple, namely the Second Temple). TheEzekielTemplealso presents problems for traditional Jews because there are irreconcilable conflicts between the dimensions of thatTempleand the dimensions set forth in the Torah. All that to say that there are questions about how this will unfold, whereas Yeshua already gives us the clarity about the Messiah performing miracles. In any case, as I state in vol. 2, there are many followers of Yeshua who expect a futureTemplewith sacrifices and have no problem with the concept.

With regard to the number of passages that address these Messianic expectations, the reason I cite the relatively small number of (and, in some cases, difficult to interpret) passages that speak of the rebuilding of the Temple is because traditional Judaism teaches this as a dictum of the Messianic era, just as strongly as it teaches that the Messiah will bring peace to the earth. Scripture simply doesn’t bear that out.

In light of these points that I have made, above, your listing of the numbers of supporting our varied points is moot. Not only so, but it’s not a matter of either-or. That’s a straw man you created (I assume unintentionally), since plenty of Christians believe that Jesus performed miracles and that Jesus will build a futureTemple. I also note that you left out the whole idea of the Messiah being a greater Moses and the last and greatest Prophet. That would also require him to work many miracles, in which case scores of other verses can be brought in in support.

To repeat, though, in light of what I have stated above, your argument is moot.

I’ll skip over some of your other paragraphs, since I don’t see any relevance to them here, instead addressing this point of yours: “Another argument that you present to discount the Jewish position is that the context of Zechariah 6 seems to indicate that the prophet was speaking about the Second Temple and not the third. Do you realize that if we apply this standard, of the Scriptural context determining the timing of the prophecy, then all of the prophecies relating to the miracles of the Messiah must be discounted, while many of the prophecies relating to the future Temple and to future offerings still stand. All of the prophecies relating to Messiah’s miracles are linked with God’s revenge againstIsrael’s enemies (35:4; 42:13; 61:2), which did not yet happen.”

This is not true at all. First, to repeat, Messiah came working these very miracles, which helps us to understand their meaning (without exhausting potential future application as well). TheTempleand sacrifice passages have not yet come to pass, so there is more dispute about their meaning. Second, these is nothing in the context of, say, Isaiah 61 that precludes the Messianic interpretation, recognizing that the passage can be fulfilled over time, as with many other prophecies, so your statement that context would require that “all of the prophecies relating to the miracles of the Messiah must be discounted” is patently false.

You write: “You say that you do your best to lay out both views (literalTemplevs. symbolicTemple) fairly and honestly. And I agree with you that it is fair and honest to ask this question (literal vs. symbolic). But wouldn’t you agree that if we are going to be fair and honest – we should apply the same question to the miracles of the Messiah?”

I repeat yet again: The Messiah has already come – in fulfillment of other, important prophecies too – and worked miracles, so we understand this part with real clarity.

You write: “Furthermore, while it is true that the Scriptures sometimes do use the offerings and theTempleas symbolic metaphors – but there is a limit. As far as I can see, the Scriptures never specify a particular type of sheep (such as in Isaiah 60:7) as a symbolic metaphor (Hosea 14:3 would be the closest).”

I know that you meant this seriously, but are you saying that such imagery is not theoretically possible? If incense can symbolize prayer and lifting of the hands symbolize a sacrificial offering (Ps 141:2), couldn’t, say, sheep symbolize an aspect of worship? Isn’t the analogy already there? And note that sheep are already using symbolically in scripture, speaking, for example, of the exiles returning (Isa 40:11).

You write: “To summarize: – Wouldn’t you agree that it is fair and honest that if you are going to ask questions about the Jewish expectations about the Messiah (dearth of Scriptural texts, mention of the Messiah or lack thereof, timing) – that you should be asking the same questions about the Christian expectations of the Messiah?”

Of course we should, and that’s why we look at David as the proto-type (priestly King) and that’s why we pay attention to the time line (expected before the destruction of the Second Temple), and that’s why we then allow the Messiah’s first coming to shed light on the meaning of the passages. All very clear, thank God!

With regard to Isaiah 53, I’ll not debate which of us introduced new arguments (not because I agree with you; I just don’t want to take the time to argue the point), you ask, “Is the innocence described in Isaiah 53:9 – and I limit the question to this one verse – such an innocence that it precludes corporate Israel – or can it be applied to corporate Israel?”

First, why in the world am I limiting the discussion to one verse when we have a whole chapter that rules out corporateIsrael? There’s no good basis for your question in terms of trying to understand what the passage is saying. Second, Isa 53:9 itself cannot apply to corporateIsraelat any time in our nation’s recorded history in the Tanakh, and I’m sure you would argue that the level of spirituality in ancientIsraelis greater than the level of Jewish spirituality today. Shall I cite the hundreds of texts in the Tanakh that expose our people’s corporate guilt? Surely in your head you can remember what the Tanakh says about every generation in our nation’s history, and you also know that Isa 53:9b cannot at any time be a description of corporateIsrael.

You write, “I believe that the servant did not share in the guilt of those who persecuted him – but this does not make him ‘without sin’. It certainly doesn’t preclude corporate Israel – both Isaiah and Micah describe Israel as righteous in contrast with the Gentile nations who persecute her – the prophet makes it clear that Israel does not share in the guilt of the nations, – although she is certainly guilty of her own sins towards God (Isaiah 26:2,13; 40:31; 49:23; 51:7; 54:17; 60:21; 62:2; Micah 7:8,9).”

But you have introduced a new category here, namely,Israel’s guilt compared to the guilt of the nations (where does Isaiah 53 address that at all?). But even that argument, lacking as it is, fails miserably, since Israel is frequently shown to be more guilty than the Gentile nations (see, e.g., Jer 2:9-13; Ezek 3:4-7; and notice that it is the prophesied future obedience of the Gentiles that is used to call Israel to repentance in passages like Isa 2:1-5 and Mal 1, and note 1:11).

The simple fact that is Isaiah clearly exposes the sins ofIsraelthroughout the book. How about these verses, just as a sampling? 1:4, “Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.” 30:8-9: “And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever. For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD.” 59:3-8, “For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity. They hatch adders’ eggs; they weave the spider’s web; he who eats their eggs dies, and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched. Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace.”

Of this people it can NOT be said, “he [they] had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his [their] mouth” (Isa 53:9b)!

Next, you attempt to respond to my question, “How doesIsraelbring healing to her persecutors with her wounds? – and how do they make intercession for their killers?”

In response you write, “Jeremiah commands the Jewish people to pray for the Babylonians (who killed them), and throughout history the Jewish people took this injunction seriously – to pray for their host nations – nations including Czarist Russia and medievalSpain. There is no question that God was more favorably inclined to these Jewish prayers on account of the suffering that the Jewish people endured – Psalm 34:19.”

This, then, proves my point, since Jeremiah emphatically states thatBabylonwas not healed. In fact, the text stating this – Jer 51:9 – is followed by celebration thatBabylon’s destruction is vindication for the Jewish people and what they have suffered! (See 51:10.) Jewish suffering brought destruction toBabylon, not healing, in keeping with God’s promise in 30:11.

So, your argument thatIsrael’s suffering brings healing to her persecutor’s wounds is utterly contradicted by the Scriptures (and by history).

You write, “You ask; how do the Jewish people make many righteous? – This is a future prophecy that will ultimately be fulfilled as Isaiah describes 60:3.”

So then, you admit that it has not happened, which not only contradicts your first previous argument (that looks for a fulfillment in history as well as in the future), but you also remind the readers here how wonderfully Isaiah 53 finds fulfillment in Yeshua and how weak the interpretations are that speak of national Israel.

You write, “You point out that as a guilt offering – the servant would have to be without blemish. You understand this to mean that he would have to be sinless. I would respond with the point that since we are not talking about an animal offering – this requirement does not apply (the animal did not have to be sinless – it had to be free of physical blemishes). The guilt offering that the Philistines gave to God (1Samuel 6) did not have to be ‘without blemish’ or did it? In any case – my understanding of this passage is that it actually indicates the servant’s guilt. No one in Scripture brings a guilt offering unless they are guilty. The prophet is saying that in order for the servant to achieve God’s purpose he must acknowledge his own guilt – in keeping with Leviticus 26:40 and Micah 7:9.”

First, the overall context of the passage speaks of the servant’s righteousness and guiltlessness in comparison with the sinning nation, as I have previously established and as your counter-arguments have only reinforced. Second, I’m not concerned about God’s requirements for the Philistines. We’re talking about Israelites here. Third, the text makes totally clear that the servant is suffering for the guilt of others, and 53:10, which speaks of his sufferings, can only mean his suffering for others – here, being a guilt offering for the sin of the nation – otherwise the false perceptions of those watching him suffer would have been true. (In other words, He WAS suffering for his sins. They were right after all. The suffering servant was guilty.) Isaiah 53 explicitly says the opposite.

Thus: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

This is breathtakingly, wondrously clear. This is Yeshua our Messiah, the righteous one who suffered for the unrighteous, the guiltless one who bore the guilt of the nation. I don’t see God could have spoken it more clearly.

Now, at the risk of asking you a private question in public, my dear friend of many years, do you not see the weakness of your arguments here in Isaiah 53 in comparison with their fulfillment in Jesus? Are you not in the least bit uncomfortable with your efforts to apply this toIsraelin contrast with the power of the Yeshua-centered reading? I, and many others here, will continue to pray for you to see the truth and to have the courage to follow it when it becomes clear to you.

259.yisroel blumenthal
December 15th, 2011 @ 10:36 am

Dr. Brown
As per our deal – I will not be responding to this last post for another week – but I will answer your last question. No I do not feel uncomfortable with my position at all – your arguments only add power to my position.

429.yisroel blumenthal
December 22nd, 2011 @ 10:31 am

Dr. Brown

Here is my response to your post # 358

I believe that with this response of yours – a great breakthrough was achieved in our interaction – vindicating the usefulness of such interaction. I will explain this statement as I proceed to respond to your points one by one.

In my previous post (on this topic) I put our disagreements into two categories: Messianic expectations and interpretation of Isaiah 53.

On the issue of Messianic expectation

I demonstrated how you apply a double standard in your interpretation of Messianic prophecy. When it comes to the Jewish expectation of a rebuilt Temple and restored sacrifices you measure them by the number of times these concepts are mentioned in Scripture (according to your count, they are few), You measure them by the fact that in some of these prophecies, no Messianic figure is mentioned, and you measure them by the fact that there seems to be a problem with the timing of some of the prophecies (the context would indicate a fulfillment at a time that does not coincide with the Jewish interpretation).

On the basis of these measuring sticks – you downplay these prophecies and conclude that they could perhaps be fulfilled in a symbolic sense and not necessarily in a literal sense.

I pointed out that had you applied these same “measuring sticks” to the prophecies which are interpreted by Christians as prediction for Messiah’s miracles – then we could even more quickly conclude that the Messiah does not necessarily need to preform miracles in a literal sense.

But you insist that the miracles must be literal. You go on to pass judgment against Maimonides who insists on a literal fulfillment of theTempleprophecies while maintaining that the miracle prophecies need not be understood literally.

But using your own standards of interpretation – Maimonides is right.

How do you explain this? You say – Well Jesus already told us that this is the interpretation!

This then is the breakthrough. We have come to an agreement, it seems, that without FIRST accepting Jesus as an authority – the Jewish Bible does NOT encourage belief in Jesus.

If you need Jesus to tell you that your biblical interpretation is correct – then you should have said so in your book. You open your five volumes setting the standard for this discussion: “What does the Bible say?” But now you are admitting that according to that standard – Jesus is NOT the Messiah. The only way you can come to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah – is by first accepting him as the Messiah and then accepting his Biblical interpretations.

It is my position that the moral position for someone who does not believe in Jesus is to examine his claims in light of the Biblical texts. Until his claims are vindicated –– it would be going against God to accept his claims. We must therefore first read the Jewish Bible – without belief in Jesus – and then examine his claims in light of the truth we have learned from God’’s word. The fact that you need to quote Jesus to defend your position underscores the fact that your position is not rooted in the words of the Jewish Bible.

You claim that the reason you pointed out the relatively small number of passages predicting the future Temple is because traditional Judaism puts the future Temple on the same plane as world peace as a Messianic requirement. You conclude that Scripture does not bear this out.

I suggest that you turn to page 178 of your volume 3 and you will see that you were not contrasting the hope for the Temple with the hope for peace (which you yourself minimize on page 70 of volume 1) – but you were contrasting the hope for a future Temple with the alleged miracles of the Messiah. This being the case – my citation of the number of passages is completely relevant.

In another paragraph you accuse me of creating a strawman (you generously add – “probably unintentional”) by presenting it as an issue of “either or”. With this accusation you have created a strawman of your own (probably unintentionally). In my opening statements which you yourself copied in the beginning of your own response – I presented the two opposing positions – not as “either or”, but rather with the one requiring miracles as an absolute necessity while relegating the temple to a possibility – as opposed to the other which has the Temple as the absolute requirement and the miracles remain a possibility.

You skip over some of my points because you see no relevance to them. I am sure that the readers of this conversation (including myself) will want to know your response to two of my questions that you seem to deem “irrelevant”. 1) Do you believe that the number of verses supporting a specific doctrinal position is a valid standard by which to judge the Scriptural basis of a given position? And if yes, then why, throughout your five volumes, do you never apply this standard to the arguments of the Church? (i.e the virgin birth etc) 2) How is it that in your interview with Stroebel Zechariah 6 is magnified as “the most overt passage in the Bible where a human being is identified with a Messianic figure” – and on page 172 of volume 3 you downplay this very same prophecy because it appears in only one book of the Bible. Isn’t that being inconsistent in your own line of reasoning?

I countered your argument concerning the timing of the predictions concerning theTemple– by pointing out that the predictions of Messiah’s miracles are also tied in by the prophets to a specific time – which precludes applying these predictions to Jesus.

You respond with the argument that “Messiah” (and I presume you mean “Jesus”) came working these very miracles.

This response is completely circular. You are in effect saying – believe in Jesus because he fulfilled this prophecy – but when I point out that according to a contextual reading of the prophecy he did not fulfil the prophecy – you tell me – but Jesus said he did! – so why should I accept his interpretation?

Your next argument is “that there is nothing in the context of, say, Isaiah 61 that precludes the Messianic interpretation” – I assume that you mean to assert that there is nothing in the context of Isaiah 61 that precludes your application of this passage to Jesus. I may have misunderstood you and if I did please clarify – but if I understood you correctly then your assertion is patently false. Isaiah 61 speaks of a “day of revenge” – which you acknowledge was not yet fulfilled. If a 2000 year interlude in middle of a sentence, without any textual justification, is “sound Biblical interpretation” for you – I guess I will have to be the one to inform you – that others will not be satisfied.

When I present my question about your double standard (asking the question if a given prophecy is symbolic or literal) – you go back to “the Messiah has already come”. Are you saying that it is OK for you to use a double standard because you “know” you are right?

The point I made about symbolic language was that as far as I could see, Scripture never uses a specific type of sheep as a metaphor. I did not say that it is not theoretically possible – my point was that this would be unusual – weakening the symbolic interpretation. You response does not address my point.

In response to my summary which asks a simple question – if we are going to apply a certain standard for the Jewish expectations of the Messiah – that we should do the same for the Christian expectations – you respond with:

“Of course we should, and that’s why we look at David as the proto-type (priestly King) and that’’s why we pay attention to the time line (expected before the destruction of theSecondTemple), and that’’s why we then allow the Messiah’’s first coming to shed light on the meaning of the passages. All very clear, thank God!”

How is this clear? You take a Jewish argument and (mis)apply a certain standard of interpretation. You do this with one Jewish argument – ignoring the sum total of the Jewish arguments. So why are you reluctant to apply this same standard to the Christian arguments? Is it because you have other arguments to support your position? But when I will point to the inherent weaknesses of those arguments – you will run back to this one! What kind of response is that?

In any case – here is the response to the two arguments that you present. – Looking to David as a prototype is the last thing you want to do. It is hard to imagine a character that is more thoroughly antithetical to David than Jesus. David consistently stresses his own utter dependance on God – highlighting his sins – opening his heart to all of mankind expressing his complete humility towards God. How does this compare to a “mystery-man” who claims to be sinless and deserving of worship himself?

In response to your second argument – about the timing (Messiah had to come before the destruction of theSecondTemple) – which you refer to Haggai 2, Malachi 3 and Daniel 9. I don’t see how you can apply these prophecies to Jesus. How could a prediction for a glorification of theTemple(predicted by Haggai) be fulfilled by one who claimed to be a replacement of theTemple?. How could a prediction of the restoration of the Levitical priesthood (predicted by Malachi) be fulfilled by one who claimed to do away with the Levitical priesthood?. And how could a prediction (by Daniel) about an anointed one cut off with the destruction of the city claim to be fulfilled by someone who died more than five weeks of years (in Daniel’s terms) before the destruction of the city?

Interpretation of Isaiah 53

I asked you if 53:9 could apply toIsrael– you respond with a question “why in the world am I limiting the discussion to one verse when we have the whole chapter”. The answer to your question is because chapters are made up of verses – one verse at a time. If you refuse to discuss “one verse” – because you claim that the rest of the chapter bears out your position – then we will have a hard time discussing the matter. When I point to any one verse – you will run to the “rest of the chapter” – and when I point out that your arguments in those other verses don’t pan out – you will always be able to say – “ah! but look at the rest of the chapter”.

The fact of the matter is that there is no individual in the history of mankind that is more thoroughly eliminated from being a possible subject of this passage (Isaiah 53) as is Jesus fromNazareth. The entire thrust of the passage is that when the arm of the Lord is revealed upon the servant – the world will be shocked. If there is anyone that this cannot be – it is Jesus. So there is the “rest of the chapter” for you.

Getting back to this one verse – 53:9 – you are saying that it cannot be corporateIsrael. So are you saying that the Jews when the Jews were butchered because of the accusations that they murdered Christian children and because they had stolen the world’s wealth through deception – that they were indeed guilty of these charges?

You claim that when I speak ofIsrael’s guilt compared to the guilt of the nations I have introduced a “new category”. I gave you 9 Scriptural references – and you call this a “new category”!? Let us take the first one on the list – Isaiah 26:2; whereIsraelis praised as the righteous nation who kept her faithfulness. It is obvious thatIsraelis singled out from amongst the nations for this praise. They are being praised not for something new that is given to them but for the faithfulness towards God that they maintained throughout the exile. (Contrast this with the exaltation of the Messiah described in chapter 11 which will be for new qualities that will be granted to him at that time – not for qualities that he possessed before then.)

In 49:23Israelis rewarded for having hoped to God – from the context it is obvious that the nations do not share in this reward. The concept is reiterated again and again throughout the book of Isaiah – all those who worship idols will be shamed when everyone sees that the God whoIsraeltrusted in is the true God.Israelwill be exalted to the eyes of the nations for maintaining this trust in God throughout the exile – something that no nation will share with them.

When the nations will see the exaltation of God (and Jesus will have no part in this exaltation) they will realize that their worship of Jesus was idolatry. They will realize thatIsrael’s rejection of Jesus was her greatest virtue. They will realize that all the material blessing that they were blessed with came about because the Jewish people prayed to God for the prosperity of the countries they inhabited – and not because of their own prayers to Jesus.

This brings us to your arguments against my interpretation as to howIsraelbrought healing to the nations. You quote Jeremiah 51:9 which actually proves my point – the healing of the nation is not some spiritual gift – but material blessing here on earth. History vindicates my interpretation because countries that allowed the Jews to live amongst them – prospered – while those that expelled them – declined. As forBabylon; Jeremiah wasn’t making a joke in 29:7. The Jewish prayers helped the Babylonians until their time came. No one said the healing was permanent.

You argue that my interpretation which has the servant render the many righteous – as a future prophecy, contradicts my interpretation which has the servant’s healing of the nation to be past. I would urge you to pay attention to the words of the prophet. The healing is described as something that happened in the past (nirpah) while the servant rendering the many righteous is presented as a future prediction (yatzdik).

You created a new category when you decided that the servant had to be sinless on the basis of your symbolic interpretation of the requirement that the animal guilt offering be free of physical blemish. I responded that the servant being human and not animal has no such requirement. I presented an example from the guilt offering of the Philistines.

You respond that the requirement for the Philistines would be different than the requirements forIsrael. It seems that you forgot another Scriptural passage – Leviticus 22:25 – which explicitly applies the requirements of presenting non-blemished animals for the Gentiles as well as the Israelites. – By the way – do you believe the servant only suffers forIsrael– or do you believe he suffers for all of mankind?

You discount my interpretation which has the servant guilty of his own sins – because then the assessment of his enemies would have been accurate – he was suffering for his own sins, while the prophet makes it clear that he was suffering for the sins of others.

You have misunderstood the thrust of Isaiah 53. Those who had denigrated the servant had been looking at the fact that the servant is the only one suffering as an indication that they themselves are more righteous then the servant – or that the servant is more evil than themselves (I see this fulfilled in the consistent Christian assertion that the holocaust “proves” that Israel’s rejection of Jesus is the greatest sin.) When the servant is vindicated – they will see that he had been bearing the burden for everybody – as described in Psalm 88, and that actually the servant had been the one who was fulfilling God’s mission on earth for the benefit of all mankind.

When that great day comes – and everyone sees that God alone is King – then those who trusted in Him will be vindicated to the eyes of all the nations who placed their trust in other entities. Everything will pale into insignificance when the nations realize how the worship that they considered the highest virtue – was actually the greatest abomination before God. All ofIsrael’s sins are between her and God. As for the nations – they will callIsrael“the righteous nation” – and they will realize thatIsrael’s loyalty to God was the most precious thing that God had on this earth (26:2). They will realize that God’s purpose here on earth was accomplished through those loyal to Him – and that those who hoped to God bore the burden for everyone else. I imagine also – that when God’s glory is revealed and the mask of confusion is removed from the face of the nations – then Christians will realize that nations who revere books that slander their theological opponents have something to learn from a nation that reveres a book that highlights their own faults (Zechariah 8:23).

I look forward to your response.

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

 

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14 Responses to Written Debate with Dr Brown

  1. Annelise says:

    I just read your last post here, and I have a question about one of your lesser points. You said that Jesus is one of the only people in history whom the world would not be shocked to see exalted in the day of God’s redemption and glory on the earth. Are you thinking mostly of Isaiah 52:14-15, placed within the image of the wider passage and book? From a Christian understanding of Jesus, it’s not difficult to read this as possibly referring to his death, unknown or rejected by almost everyone, and then the subsequent event (however it plays out) of him being known as the Lord of the earth. What do you think?

    Also, I feel most people would actually be very surprised if they saw Jesus… who he was and is, rather than the many cultural expressions of ‘him’… as being real and glorified in that way. Maybe it doesn’t feel like it in the U.S., but even there I think this is true. The ‘kings’ of nations in particular would be silenced and shocked by this kind of authority, especially because of the way his greatest redemption of his people was played out.

    This is just a reading of that single verse, not an exploration of Isaiah or the scriptures as a whole. I don’t want to mention it in a way that blatantly treads over those other things, but just because I couldn’t accept this point in the brief form you gave it with; it’s important to consider.

  2. Annelise
    The prophet explains why it is that the servant was deemed unworthy – it was because his extreme suffering was understood to be a sign that God is displeased with him to the degree that sets him apart from other people. His unusual suffering was understood to be a sign that his guilt is more terrible than anyone else’s. I don’t see how this can apply to any version of Jesus.

  3. Annelise says:

    Thanks Yisroel, that makes sense. How do you understand the relationship between the righteousness of God’s servants and their guilt, especially woven through this last part of the book?

  4. Blasater says:

    Annelise–

    You wrote: From a Christian understanding of Jesus, it’s not difficult to read this as possibly referring to his death, unknown or rejected by almost everyone, and then the subsequent event ….The ‘kings’ of nations in particular would be silenced and shocked by this kind of authority…

    There about 1 billion who call themselves Christian and accept him, not reject him….and another 1 billion Muslims accept him as a prophet. So, 2 billion plus accept Jesus at some level. That is significant. And it is only the Jewish people ~a few million, that reject him totally.

    So the “Kings” of the nations, many of whom are already Christians, would not be shocked about that. However, now that the Jewish people are returning after 2000 years…when messiah comes…and he is Jewish….and it NOT Jesus…then they WILL SAY…wow…we were not expecting that! When the Jewish narrative is shown to be truth…that WILL be shocking to 1 billion Christians and 1 billion muslims!

  5. Blasater says:

    R” Blumenthal– Thanks for sorting out all those posts. It is a very good thread. Very revealing.

    Regarding Michael Browns methods, I would say they are a misapplication of scripture and an eisegetic rendering of Tanakh, based upon the presupposition that the NT is the word of God. Just like Mormons START with the presuppostion that the BOM is scripture and their other works as well, THEN they render the NT text to fit their presuppositions from their “New Revelation”. Sadly, what Mr Brown never had a chance to do, was to learn Tanakh first, by competent Rabbis and then “look forward” to see if the claims of Christianity were true. Instead he and other Christians assume the NT to be true and retrocede the verses back into Tanakh…ie, Eisegetically render the Tanakh.

    Just the fact that there IS a NT, negates the claims of the church. For it will take no new books, no new testament, to attempt prove or make the case, that a certain person is messiah ben David. The Tanakh, says all will know from the least to the greatest….you will not have to teach your neighbor. The Tanakh is ALL it will ever take and all we will need to carry us to the messianic era.

    And I’ll offer (in case it didnt come up) that maybe the healing will take place BECAUSE Israel and the Jewish people had to suffer first and by doing so, bring about the messianic era. Since the arrival of the man from Nazareth there has been no healing of mankind, only 2000 years of bloodshed in Jesus’ name. The Jews have always offered healing to the nations, but for most of the last 2000 years, were being slaughtered and kicked out of one christian or muslim country to another. The nations have rejected the claims of the Jewish people and have offered their own version of “Jewish-Like” healing, including the Muslims and their “real” Torah.

    I wonder if Michael Brown has ever stopped to think, that if one of his ancestors, say in the year 900 or 1000 CE, had done what Brown has done and abandoned their Jewish faith, ending the family Jewish line, one of his ancestors may have well have in later years, took part in the persecution (a thought from R” Eli) of the future Jewish people? Or will 200 years from now, when he is long forgotten, will his decendants look at him and wonder…for 2000 years our family survived the galut, only to see my gggg grand father Michael Brown, end our Jewishness?

  6. Messianic says:

    Exalting Michael Brown on your blog seems to be time consuming , very generous of you to include the typos also ,It’s beyond bizarre the points you made on Isaiah Rabbi ‘B’ , especially the objections you raise that was based off The Radaks commentary.

    So I am going to assume you are playing ‘my Masoretic text vs your ‘English’ text . I don’t find the thread revealing it only confirms my suspicion you lack the ability to actually evaluate a christian text, or you are displaying a feigned ignorance ..

    Which one is it? Are you 100% unaware of which parts of the KJV edition of Isaiah are verbatim from The Radaks work on Hebrew grammar?

    None of your points reflect an actual textual point- they are all contrived world views based on your view of what that consists of .

    I asked you three direct questions Rabbi ‘B’ , in case you’re confused as to who I am addressing

  7. Rabbi Blumenthal,
    If anyone has ever “beaten” Michael Brown it is you and this thread proves it. I am a former Christian/Messianic who completely rejects Jesus, Yeshua, Yeshu, whatever you want to call him. I am in the process of applying to convert to Orthodox Judaism and your materials have been incalculably helpful.

    My concern is, Brown is a proven navi sheker. He was a key component of the “Brownsville Revival” where other false prophets caught serious flack for seemingly speaking “words of G-d” that did not come true. Just Google that phrase along with his name for more information.

    But for proof, here are some revealing videos from those days where he “acts” like a southern preacher–a behavior you don’t see when he’s in his “refined” debater mode:
    http://www.yourepeat.com/watch/?v=Hk6jQFoh58U&feature=yourepeat_gdata

    In the next clip he holds up his Bible and says, “If this book is true, if our god is true, we haven’t yet touched what we’re supposed to see.” Wow…what an admission. What follows is a scary cultic ceremony where Brown leads in extreme avodah zerah where many people are on their knees Muslim-style before Brown “worshipping” and moaning while he yells, “Send revival or we die…god touch Pensacola or we die…” You’ve got to see it for yourself. It’s disturbing.

    Then there is the false statement Brown made in Jerusalem in the 1980s about a particular night on which he was speaking that would be “history making” as literal as the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. He said this in front of many Israeli Messianic leaders who all witnessed his false predictions. By 2am that evening nothing happened and everything fizzled out. Brown then issued a letter of apology saying that it didn’t “work” because people had been “praying against him.” However he later admitted he was not “in the Spirit” and was in error.

    Reference here: http://op.50megs.com/ditc/brownprophecy.htm

    Since he is a false prophet, the Torah says he must be ignored. Anything he writes about Jesus and Judaism is tainted because he has already ruined himself. Shouldn’t we avoid debating with him or giving him any more attention? Shouldn’t we just instead expose these facts and that will protect the Jewish people?

    Respectfully,

    Jeisyn Murphy
    lehitgayer.com

  8. Messianic
    I never studied the issue of translations in any depth – and I don’t see how it has a bearing on anything I’ve written. If you feel that a variant text will affect any of my arguments – please enlighten me.

  9. Yehuda says:

    Hello Rabbi B.

    If I’m correctly reading Dr. Brown’s very recent post on the original thread, it does not appear that he has any immediate intention to provide any further response.

    Your thoughts?

  10. Pingback: Response to Line of Fire 11 | 1000 Verses

  11. Blasater says:

    Brown also misquotes even the NT to attempt to prove a point in Tanakh (Eisegesis). Brown seeks to assert that Jsus teaching in the temple and the alleged holy spirit outpouring on pentecost means that Jsus gave glory to the 2nd temple that was greater than the first.

    Setting aside for the moment that is an incorrect understanding of Haggai 2, Brown using the Shekinah glory or the first temple as the reference point. Browns argument falls flat for two reasons. A) There is no recorded event of Jsus causing a shekinah event greater than the first temple, on the contrary, he had to hide out and escape like a common criminal. Hardly a shekinah event. B) Brown say that the holy spirit was released in the temple on pentecost, quoting Acts 2. Acts 2 says nothing of the sort. The temple is not mentioned at all with this event, only events after pentecost. Using Acts 1 for context, they were in “the upper room” not the temple when this occurred.

  12. Pingback: Dr. Brown’s Response to comment # 429 | 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources

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