Noachide Worship by Jim

Noachide Worship by Jim

 

Con,

 

Sometimes people look for more to serving God than is necessary. They want special rituals, a formula, something to raise their emotions and make them feel closer to God, whether or not they are actually closer to God. The desire to fulfill this religious emotion has led to great errors. People replace truth with “spirituality”, and invest themselves in all sorts of false practices that make them feel spiritual, closer to the divine, or “one with the universe”. Instead of getting closer to God, however, most of these practices take one further from God and into serving the product of one’s imagination.

 

This is a difficulty for many people. I have met Noachides who do not feel that there is enough service to God in obeying his commands. The fact that the Universal Laws are mostly, although not entirely, prohibitions, leaves some Noachides with a sense that they count less than the Jewish people, who have been given specific practices. The restraints placed upon their lives do not feel like service to them, and some have been tempted to create their own forms of worship. However, doing so does not bring one actually closer to God; it only placates the religious emotion. Sadly, they have not understood that adherence to the Universal Laws is service to God.

 

One may keep the Laws in one of two ways, incidentally or intentionally. When one keeps them incidentally, he does not observe the Laws because they are God’s Laws, but because society accepts them, or he fears reprisal if he breaks them, or he finds them sensible. He may, for example, refrain from stealing, because he understands that no society can exist when people do not respect the property rights of others. This self-restraint he practices is good, but he does not do it to keep God’s Law. He has only kept God’s Law incidentally.

 

One keeps the Laws intentionally when he does so because they are God’s Laws. Keeping the Universal Laws takes on the character of obedience to God. His self-restraint takes on the character of righteousness. And when he reflects on the Laws and sees that his actions submit him to the expressed will of God, he does not need to invent a service to perform for God. He is not seeking to titillate his own emotions; he is seeking to follow the Command of God. Such a man will not denigrate them because they are prohibitions. He knows that no Law authored by God is inferior.

 

On the other hand, some will feel that because they already do not steal that there is nothing special in not stealing. These have not avoided theft because of God’s command. Their actions are not devoted to God. Their self-restraint is not an act of devotion to God. They have not spent time thinking about these acts as obedience. They are too busy looking for something they can perform for God. What they do not realize is that God needs nothing, and there is nothing they can do for Him. They can only do what He has required.

 

Such people are like a husband who knows that his wife would appreciate him not leaving wet towels on the floor, taking off muddy boots before he comes in, and the like, but he does not do these small things that would show consideration of her feelings. He is always looking for some big gesture that will make him feel pleased with himself for his grandiosity. It is not her feelings with which he is concerned; it is his own.

 

Such people sometimes look to emulate the Jewish people. They feel that they have been denied something in lacking practice. They adopt Jewish practice, and it makes them feel good. And it is easy, because it is not required of them. They do it because they want to do it. But if it were to become a command to them, they would become rebellious. Once it becomes a requirement, the natural human propensity to resist command kicks in. They do not find themselves so pleased by the same actions as when it was not required.

 

If only they had sought to please God and not themselves, they would have been enriched by His Commands. They would become mindful of even minor violations. They would avoid taking extra ketchup packets from fast food restaurants when they have none at home, because they wish to obey God. To guard themselves, they would study the details of His Laws, and be mindful of them at all times. Their minds would be turned to God constantly. If they take on more commands later, it will be with wisdom, studied and thoughtful, mindful of their God, not attempting to please themselves. They would seek to understand His Torah, and not look for an interpretation that fit their philosophy. They would submit their judgment to His.

 

Such being the case, they will find that the prohibitions of the Universal Law are fulfilling. They are not without power to bring one close to God. Those Laws allow humanity to honor God daily. They may not give one an ecstatic experience, but they are the mark of devotion. And no Noachide who truly keeps the Seven Laws need ever feel like they are lesser children.

 

Con,

 

I have identified a source of error. I am not passing judgment on those who find dissatisfaction with the Seven Laws. Those who have come out of a prior religion, in particular, are bound to grope with the need to fill in a void. They are used to performing particular acts, many of which they have just renounced. Moreover, those things pleased the emotions. And now they have seemingly nothing to please the emotions. There is nothing nefarious in this. I am not judging people. It is, however, a source of error.

 

To correct the error, we must understand that the Laws given to us are good and by fulfilling them we are living a life of devotion. And that life is not one designed specifically to appeal to our emotions. Still, I think that anyone who understands those commandments, who turns his attention to the Creator will find himself fulfilled emotionally, for he will have directed his energies to something real.

 

I think if you will reread your comment to me, you will see that you have illustrated my point. You write that all the prayers of thanks on the holidays regard Israel. The poor Noachide who has this attitude is asking God, “What have you done for me lately?” Of course he should be offering his gratitude to God on behalf of the good given him by God. Is there any human who brought himself into existence? When I prayed this morning, I thanked Hashem for my wife and children, and the life that we have together. What human being can find himself contemplating his very existence and complain that God did not part the waters for my fathers? Let him thank God for his previous breath.

 

A Noachide who feels that God has done nothing for him does not truly understand the situation at all. I can find no reason for jealousy in the Noachide chest. And yet, I do give thanks for the things God did for Israel. I am very thankful for the nation that has preserved the knowledge of God in the world while my ancestors followed after their vain imaginations. I am thankful for that priestly nation which has carried the Torah, a burden made heavy by the nations who oppressed them. So yes, I offer thanks for God’s preservation of Israel, because it has redounded to my good. Let no Noachide feel inferior for having no national miracle, for every miracle performed for Israel has benefited us.

 

Let those who wish to convert, convert. It is a good thing. I said nothing against those who wish to convert. But if they wish to convert, I hope it is not because they feel less than the Jew. The Jewish people have performed a valuable service for us. We should give them our gratitude, not our envy. Let those who wish to convert do it for love. I write nothing against conversion, but like anything else in life, if done for the wrong reasons, it will not benefit the convert. He is likely to find himself eventually dissatisfied.

 

I could not write against conversion, for I and my family wish to convert as well. But if ever we want to do it because we think that it is not “good enough” to be Noachides, then let it not happen. If we do it because we feel envious that others have Pesach, tefillin, or mezuzot, may we never convert. If we don’t do it for love of God, love of Torah, and love of the Jewish people, may it never happen.

 

But please do not think that because I identify the source of error means that I think ill of people. Every human I have ever met has made mistakes. Most of the big one’s to which I have been witness, I have also been the source. But when we recognize an error, we must take steps to correct it. The Noachide who feels he cannot draw close to God through the Noachide Laws does not yet understand them properly.

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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67 Responses to Noachide Worship by Jim

  1. hesedyahu says:

    Fantastic article. I appreciate the message of “worship through obedience to God’s commands”. Thank you.

  2. Thomas Eason says:

    Actually I think the article is an exercise of self righteousness and faulty logic. Although I find no intentional malice on the authors part I do see problems with what he wrote. Firstly, anytime we assume that our view is the only correct one and that any view that is contrary to it contains fault we instantly put up a wall around ourselves that prevents open dialogue and the possibility of accepting anothers viewpoints. (even if we don’t agree with them) What may be enough for one person may not be for another. We’re all uniquely different and therefore will see things in different ways. It doesn’t make anyone wrong. Just different. Only G-d knows the soul of the individual. Its between that soul and G-d to determine how much that soul can take on. Not a Rabbi, not a priest, not anyone else. Can you see or feel my soul?
    Secondly, saying that one should concentrate on the details of the 7 laws but not worry about spirituality is false logic. They’re not separate. They’re the same thing. Saying that one should know G-d (to the best of any humans ability) but forego techniques or practices that could aid that person is just appeasing the premeditated unwavering personal point of view that Ive already addressed. If its not something that helps you in your trek through life in this existence fine but it doesnt make it wrong. They’re are many Orthodox Rabbis teaching Kabbalah to Noahides. Are you wiser than them? Have you read Kabbalah and Meditations for the Nations by Rabbi Ginsburgh? If not that then you may be interested in The World of the Ger by Rabbis Clorfene and Katz that will be available shortly. It will deal more with the written Torah and commentaries so it may suit you even more.
    Im not attacking you in any way, please understand that. Although I dont agree with your viewpoints entirely I can tell from your article that it is indeed very much working for you and I support your path. There is a great awakening in the nations for Torah and wont we need now are ways of supporting each other not ways to make divides. May G-d bless us all and may we merit the arrival of Moshiach soon!

    Love and Light,

    Thomas Eason

    • Dina says:

      Hi Thomas,

      You wrote, “We’re all uniquely different and therefore will see things in different ways. It doesn’t make anyone wrong. Just different.”

      To repeat, “It doesn’t make anyone wrong.” Is there no absolute truth, then? What is true for you, may not be true for me? So then it can be simultaneously true that Jesus is the messiah for Christians but not for Jews. This is the slippery slope of moral relativism: ISIS is okay for the Islamists, that’s just the way they see things. Who am I to say that the way they see things is wrong? They’re not wrong, just different.

      I don’t understand such logic.

      With respect,
      Dina

      • Dina, I don’t mean to interject, but this statement.

        “ISIS is okay for the Islamists, that’s just the way they see things. Who am I to say that the way they see things is wrong? They’re not wrong, just different.”

        is a reduction to an absurd degree, and I’m amazed that you would reduce what Thomas said, to this level. Difference of interpretation, some variance in practice, and meaning is NOT remotely on the level of what ISIS is doing. Humans have free choice endowed By G-d. G-d has given all humanity a heart to serve him, and he even interacted with his creations before Sinai, as clearly testified to by scripture.

        Jim’s article insinuates that there is a weakness in people’s need to express service beyond the command. It’s not naive emotionalism, it’s not that the command is inadequate, or a weakness, for Noachides to feel a greater need and involvement.

        I found it very interesting that Jim’s supplement mentions noachide errors in the lighting of rainbow colored Hannukah candles. As far as I’m aware this holiday is not a mitzvah de’orita, so where lies the violation, if rabbis were supervising?

        • Oops, thought it said hannukah, not Shabbat. Even so though, Shabbat was a mitzvah given to Adam, so why can’t noachides keep it?

        • Dina says:

          Well, Con, you can stop being amazed. I used an extreme example to show where this type of logic can lead. I know it was extreme. But when you start saying that everyone sees things differently, so no one is wrong, that leads to crazy moral relativism, eventually.

          By the way, you truly are a careless reader, forgive me. How could you miss what Jim wrote? He didn’t say a word about Chanukah–but about lighting candles to usher in Shabbat.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            I acknowledged that I misread immediately after posting. Careless? Whatever you say.

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            Dina also acknowledged your correction right after you made it. As you can see from the timestamps, she was typing about the same time you were correcting yourself.

            Since you have a history of misreading and misrepresenting the arguments of others here, you can hardly fault her for pointing out another instance of your carelessness. Still, I doubt she’d have done so, if she knew you noticed your error. Once she saw you recognized your error, she thanked you for amending.

            What purpose does your thin-skinned response serve three weeks later? If you were presenting a new argument, it would make sense to revisit this. I don’t understand the purpose of this response, however.

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            Jim, I was so surprised by that comment that I didn’t know what to say, so thank you!

          • Jim says:

            Dina,

            And thank you for your comment here: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/noachide-worship-by-jim/#comment-15227 . I could hardly believe that he would repeat what has been clearly demonstrated to be false time and again that I didn’t know how to respond (again). I really appreciate your comment.

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            That’s what MAS members are for🙂.

  3. Jim says:

    Thomas,

    Thank you for you comment.

    Allow me to clarify things with two examples of errors that have cropped up because of the religious emotion:

    1. A few years ago, I was at a conference for Noahides. On Friday evening, the leaders of the meeting ushered in Shabbat by lighting seven candles, each of a different color of the rainbow. As they lit each candle, they recited one of the seven Noahide laws.

    I hope you see the problem.

    The people who did this meant well. They wanted a way to grow close to Hashem. And they felt that this would be a great way to do it. They were not keeping Shabbat according to the manner of the Jewish people, because that was prohibited. So they invented their own custom.

    In so doing, they were still violating halacha. Noahides are not permitted to create their own observances. Here they wanted something to grow closer to God. They do not find it fulfilling to keep His Laws. It did not feel like service to them. So, to find some means to feel closer to God, they violated His Law. This does not bring them closer. It moves them away from Hashem. But it satisfied their emotions.

    This was all about them. If it was service to Hashem they were interested in, they would have kept His commands to them. Since that did not appeal to their emotions, they violated Torah. Their emotions were satisfied. But if it had been about God, rather than themselves, they would not have violated His decree.

    The sad thing about this story is that rabbis were present at the ceremony. They allowed this violation, because they wanted the Noahides to feel connected to God. They did not want the Noahides to feel like second-class citizens. Instead, they should have been teaching that there is nothing second-class about obeying Hashem. The rabbis left the Noahides with the idea that only the Jew is close to God, because only the Jew has Shabbat. This error is probably what leads to the next.

    2. There are two rabbis now teaching that Noahides are not prohibited from keeping Shabbat in the manner that a Jew must keep it. This is a violation of halacha. And the rabbis do not argue from the mishnah to prove Noahides may keep Shabbat. They rely on aggadata, from which halacha is not derived.

    One must ask himself why they are teaching this. It is because the religious emotion has come over some in the Noahide community. They want religious observances of their own, to which they can adhere to make them feel close to God. However, as in the first example, this will not make them close to God. One is not brought closer to God through the violation of His Law. If this were about God, again, they would be content to keep the laws He gave them. Moreover, they could take on other mitzvot, those that are not prohibited. But the one that they want to do is the one they are disallowed to do.

    What is truly sad about this, is that one of the rabbi, Rabbi K____ is one of which the Noahide should be wary. He has been fleecing the poor Noahide sheep for some time. He offers “name readings” where one can learn his “mazal” based on the Gematria of their name. If one pays R’ K____ $75 ($100 for an audio recording), he can learn that his name means that he has great affinity to justice or righteousness, mercy or beauty, that he is a bulwark against Amalek or whatever other nonsense R’ K___ dreams up. Because he claims that this is Kabbalah, they come to him and trust that this is much different than astrology. They do not imagine that they are getting what equates to a “psychic reading” from a new Sylvia Browne. And how wonderful it is to be told that one represents chesed! They have no means of testing his reading, but they don’t mind. They trust him.

    It is obvious why they trust him. He says the kinds of things that appeal to the emotion. They want to be told that their name indicates something remarkable about themselves. He grants them their wish. They want to be told that they can keep Shabbat, same as a Jew. He accommodates. And because he is a rabbi, they trust him. They trust to his authority.

    We Noahides are in a precarious position. We do not know very much. We must have the humility to know that we are not to study Kabbalah. Some rabbis will wish to accommodate us. We must thank them and move on. We do not know enough to even know what we don’t know. Kabbalah, if there is a viable tradition still alive today, is meant for Torah scholars. A Noahide, who is not even to study those parts inapplicable to himself, cannot be qualified such study.

    We must also distinguish between what pleases us and what pleases God. If in pursuit of a relationship with Hashem, we follow after our fantasies, then it was not Him we were attempting to please. We must start again. We must consider carefully His commands and the philosophy behind them. We must not press on to a deeper area of study until we have mastered this one. This does not appeal to the fantasy or the ego. But no one will go astray following the light of God’s Torah.

    Jim

    • Michael Benav says:

      Re: “some in the Noahide community.. want religious observances of their own, to which they can adhere to make them feel close to God. However, as in the first example, this will not make them close to God. One is not brought closer to God through the violation of His Law.”

      With respect, you cannot foster a religious orientation effectively without allowing the adoption of religious observances. I think that you have misunderstood the halachah about not creating new observances. I cannot be as broadly interpreted as you suggest.

    • hesedyahu says:

      Jim, great response. Sometimes it seems like most who call themselves “noahide” has jumped on this bandwagon. It’s refreshing to see someone stand up for keeping God’s commandments rather than satisfying one’s own religious cravings.

  4. LarryB says:

    Jim
    Thank you for this, this really helps me. I have thought about and missed many of the ritual when I was a catholic. I did not do anything to fill that void but in truth I was looking.

    • Jim says:

      Larry,

      I’m glad to be of service. It is only natural that we miss certain aspects of our former religious systems. We have become used to them.

      Jim

  5. Pingback: Supplement to Noachide Worship – by Jim | 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources

  6. keepingtheseven says:

    Reblogged this on Keeping the Seven.

  7. Matt Tillman says:

    I was led here by a rabbi I respect. I am (I hope suitably) chastised.

  8. Michael Benav says:

    Thomas has a strong point when he says: “…saying that one should concentrate on the details of the 7 laws but not worry about spirituality is false logic. They’re not separate.”

    And it is not possible to lead a life of any kind, especially one built on serious principles, that does not incorporate customs of behaviour and practice. The idea that Bnai Noach should not develop their own religious customs and practices to support their religious commitment is simply untenable. And the fact that this is not accepted is one of the reasons why Bnai Noach religion is currently in such an undeveloped state when based on its merits it should be taking the world by storm already.

    • Jim says:

      Michael,

      I did not separate spirituality from the keeping of the Seven Laws. I do not favor the word “spirituality” because it is nebulous, but I would say that when one obeys God–i.e. keeps the Seven out of devotion to Him–that is truly spiritual. When one studies the Seven so that he may keep them scrupulously, that is spiritual. Studying the applicable parts of Torah so that one has a proper appreciation of God, so that one is appreciative of God’s gifts to him, including his existence, is spiritual. People mistake things that titillate the emotions as spiritual experiences, because of the feelings produced. And things that do not immediately gratify the emotions, like refraining from theft, do not seem spiritual.

      If I have time later, I will address religious customs separately.

      Jim

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Jim, if a person’s emotional or “spiritual” state should play little to no role, and there is no room for innovation, how can the commandment for them to establish courts make any sense? You need some degree of autonomy in praxis to be able to Judge. Also, why can the rabbis innovate a Torah practice, as long as it’s related to a command, such as was true of the establishment of the celebration of Hannukah, but Noachides can’t do the same?

  9. Concerned Reader says:

    Since you have a history of misreading and misrepresenting the arguments of others here,

    Some of your arguments are not as clear cut as you all seem to think they are honestly, Jim. No offense, Believe me, it’s not for lack of trying to understand them on my part. Also, yes sometimes I respond too quickly, and without needed clarification, but it’s because I’m often involved in several simultaneous discussions, on more than one blog at a time, and many of the points made are the same.

    It can be very difficult to have a discussion on this blog sometimes because your arguments often have a fair degree of nuance and require some background knowledge of Judaism’s unstated assumptions regarding the text, such as is the case with the unique claim argument and Sinai. The unique claim argument necessitates the book of the people, insider approach to scripture to be grasped well.

    As a further example, on occasion in our discussions, some people, when reading the Torah and prophets, will rest their reading so fully on the immediate in time literary context of a given passage, that even if Christians acknowledged your reading as legitimate, your tactic closes a polemical door on any further possible Christian reading that is automatically dismissed as a distortion, because it is not strictly exegetical. This is disingenuous for a few reasons, chief of which is that there is an acknowledgement by both Jews and Christians that content concerning the messiah is sparse in the Tanakh, and has been open to varying degrees of interpretation in both traditions throughout history. That being the case, it becomes very hard to explain our perspective when none of the independently attested historical evidence that we can legitimately bring for our reading is granted as grounds for a fruitful discussion.

    Take Mathew and Luke’s use of the Tanakh. It is demonstrable from scholarly consensus that those texts are ancient biographies that use midrashic application of prophetic themes, types, and “fulfillments” and do so in line with other near contemporary literary works of the second temple period. So often, the only answers offered in response to the plausible sources for our readings are “that’s not a tradition we accept,” or “your Jesus wasn’t in that group of people’s sect .” I’m sorry to say, but this is a straw man argument, which ignores very common processes of group interactions, and attempts to shift the discussion until only your argument’s premises remain as acceptable. There is no evidence that different groups in second temple times were completely insular, or that there was no overlap or sharing in their exegetical or historical methodologies when reading scripture. We see fulfillment themes and an application of these themes to contemporary events in the gospels, the DSS pesherim, and even some Karaite works.

    I realize that these are seen by you as sectarian literature, but the plausibility and accepted use of such methods is established historically, in different writers, and in different periods. That’s as much as any of us can establish in terms of evidence, whether Jews or Christians.

    • Dina says:

      Con, you took exception to Jim’s statement that “you have a history of misreading and misrepresenting the arguments of others here.”

      Then you proved his point by saying this: “So often, the only answers offered in response to the plausible sources for our readings are ‘that’s not a tradition we accept,’ or ‘your Jesus wasn’t in that group of people’s sect .'”

      It’s shocking that you can boil down the carefully constructed arguments of Jim and Rabbi Blumenthal on this subject to that ridiculous statement, which in itself is a straw man. Yes, I argued that Philo is not part of our tradition, but that was a small part of a large number of complex arguments offered by others, not just by me. Jim in fact has *never* appealed to tradition in his arguments but only to logic and reason.

      You have not yet refuted Rabbi Blumenthal’s and Jim’s arguments on this topic.

    • Jim says:

      Con,

      If Matthew was not trying to claim that Jesus literally fulfilled Isaiah 7.14 through the manner of his birth, but it was only a midrash, then it would do us good to analyze the midrash. Let us see if the midrash makes sense. The most sensible way I can figure to do such a thing is to show the similarities between the two instances, so we can see the comparison Matthew is drawing.

      I note the following qualities in the child of Isaiah 7.14-16:

      1. The child will be born.
      2. The child will be male.
      3. His mother will be young.
      4. His mother shall name him, “Emmanuel”.
      5. He shall eat curds and honey before he is of an age to “refuse evil and choose the good.”
      6. This prophecy is an assurance that the armies of Aram and Israel will not destroy Judah.

      So, which qualities does Jesus share with Emmanuel that we might draw a comparison between the two? Only the first three. Jesus was a male child, born to a young woman. That is all they have in common. This is not enough to create a midrash. Such a midrash applied equally to me, and to many men in the world.

      Someone will protest that I am overlooking a major hint in the fourth quality. They will say that “Emmanuel” means “God with us” and is a hint to a quality of the Messiah. This tells us that the first Emmanuel, who was not divine was a sign pointing forward to the later “Emmanuel” who would be divine.

      This is a profound error.

      The name of the child in Isaiah is an assurance that God has not abandoned Judah. God is with them, even though they, quaking before two powerful armies, do not feel like He is with them. It is a message of assurance. What it is not is a message of a divine being taking on human form. It is not a message that God is physically with us. To take the passage that way is an imposition upon the text. The reader is no longer drawing a parallel between Emmanuel and Jesus. He is inventing a new doctrine.

      This is what Matthew does. It is why he omits part of the prophecy and alters other parts. He is not showing the similarities between the two births, which have nothing in common other than two boys being born to young mothers. He is introducing elements foreign to the text. This is not a legitimate midrash; it is superficiality.

      Jim

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Aram and Israel in Isaiah 7 could presumably be likened to Herod’s (a foreigner) illegitimate status as ruler, in his marrying with the remnants of the Hasmonean dynasty and fighting against potential messiahs (ie the house of David,) only to be swept away by Rome ( when made a Roman vassal i.e. Via the tetrarchy) by the time Jesus was a boy. Just thinking out loud here.

        • Dina says:

          Con, Matthew used Isaiah 7:14 to show a prophecy that the messiah would be born of a virgin.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Yes, I know this Dina.

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            If you know–and I have no doubt that you do–that Matthew used Isaiah 7.14 in support of the virgin birth, as Dina says, then your speculation about Herod is mere distraction. Why attempt to confuse us by altering the topic? Are you conceding that Matthew’s “midrash” is empty?

            Jim

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Jim, as Ive mentioned, Mathew is writing a biography of Jesus. He has an inherited tradition that Jesus is virgin born, and he, writing this biography, uses scriptural themes to elucidate this message. We know that groups like the Ebionites believed that Joseph was Jesus’ literal biological father, and we also know that even in the gospels, it is taken for granted that Joseph is the “legal” father of Jesus. (I realize that there are halachic problems with the virgin birth tradition,) but we have to realize that the source is biographical in nature, and that other literature of the period used biblical themes to tell “contemporary” history.

          • Sharbano says:

            What “Evidence” do you have that Matthew had an inherited “tradition” that there was a virgin birth. Evidently this was written as the case by the earliest authors. That’s why James Tabor’s analysis carries such weight, when one looks at the progression from the earliest writers to the latest and how the progression has shown itself.

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            You confuse hagiography with biography. Moreover, you ignore that the supposed “midrash” of Matthew shares no “biblical themes” with Isaiah 7.14. Everything you have typed in response is distraction. Taking seriously the idea that Matthew is creating a “midrash” reveals that it is not much of a midrash, and either the claim that it is a midrash is incorrect or it was an incompetently fashioned midrash. Talking about Herod or the nature of biography only avoids the issue.

            Jim

        • Jim says:

          Con,

          Thank you for illustrating how easily one can strip a text of meaning by forcing onto it vague interpretations with no respect for the text. Clearly Matthew had indicated no such thing in his “midrash” but when one is forced to cast desperately about to justify Matthew’s “interpretations,” creativity trumps clarity. Matthew’s “midrash” was about the birth of Jesus and his “title” “Immanuel”. Matthew does not relate this to the death of Herod at all, ignores Isaiah 7.15 altogether. I suppose this is your “midrash” on his “midrash”. But it is obvious from what you wrote, that when one is freely interpreting a text out of its context, one can impose any meaning whatsoever to a text.

          Jim

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Yes Jim, the virgin birth narrative is a hagiographal mytheme following the common pattern of the birth of the Hero, very common in ancient biography. The narrative also bears striking similarity to Josephus’ recounting of the birth of Moses. Hence Herod is treated as Mathew’s version of Pharoah, the villain of the text. I’ll admit, that I can’t explain everything about Mathew’s usage, but it’s hardly a distraction to note these things. As I’ve mentioned, many Ebionites (though not all) rejected the virgin birth, but even I get the feeling that such a narrative wasn’t always read hyper literally in the early days. For instance, angels in interactions or dialogue with women or the world in these ancient sources often represented allegories of regular operation of the laws of nature, such as the generative power in reproduction. It’s entirely possible that the virgin birth (being a mytheme) never suggested to the original author that Joseph wasn’t the actual father, despite colorfully suggesting otherwise. We actually see this is the case with every ancient “virgin birth” account. There is usually a version of a colorful myth, surrounding a birth, even when the literal paternity is known! Natural, and accepted. Alexander the Great had stories like that told about him, as do the patriarchs and Moses in the likes of Josephus.

            In book 2 Chapter 6 of the guide, Rambam even says much the same thing about these supposed miraculous tales ie the likes of Genesis 6:2.

            Say to a person who is believed to belong to the wise men of Israel that the Almighty sends His angel to enter the womb of a woman and to form there the foetus, he will be satisfied with the account: he will believe it, and even find in it a description of the greatness of God’s might and wisdom; although he believes that the angel consists of burning fire, and is as big as a third part of the Universe, yet he considers it possible as a divine miracle. But tell him that God gave the seed a formative power which produces and shapes the limbs, and that this power is called” angel,” or that all forms are the result of the influence of the Active Intellect, and that the latter is the angel, the Prince of the world, frequently mentioned by our Sages, and he will turn away; because he cannot comprehend the true greatness and power of creating forces that act in a body without being perceived by our senses. Our Sages have already stated-for him who has understanding-that all forces that reside in a body are angels, much more the forces that are active in the Universe.

            It’s interesting that the Rambam mentions the active intellect, and calls it the Sar Ha Olam, (that’s Rambam’s equivalent of Philo’s logos btw) interesting huh?

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            It is most certainly a distraction. You asserted Matthew was employing midrash. It does not stand up to scrutiny, so you change the topic, first to Herod and then to explaining ancient biography. What you have not done is refuted my argument concerning the “midrash” nor retracted your support of the “midrash”.

            Jim

    • Sharbano says:

      I like the way R’ Tovia Singer puts it. What does G-D say on the matter. It’s only a straw argument in a non-Jewish interpretation. It is quite evident that any Jewish understanding was removed from those early followers and there was no Jewish presence or influence. Xtianity became a strictly Gentile religion. Xtianity simply does Not rely on a clear understanding of words but uses “types and shadows” to come to their theology. There is no clarity in the religion. You seem to have the thought that Midrash dictates doctrine. I’ve heard this before from other Xtians. Torah is the guidebook, Not Midrash. It’s called the Torah of G-d and then Torah of Moshe, not the Torah of Midrash. How can one create a religion based on Midrashic interpretation. It then leaves Torah subservient to Midrash or Judaism subservient to Midrash. No wonder Xtianity has to degrade Torah authority. Now, according to Xtianity, Midrash is the New Torah. It is so obviously clear how Xtianity lacks any authority whatsoever. G-d gave Torah at Mount Sinai, G-d did NOT give Midrash at Mount Sinai, simple as that.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        There often seems to be an assumption that we don’t know anything about anything, and that we are just intellectually deficient when it comes to The bible, but it has been mentioned numerous times that the gospels are biographies of Jesus. They rely on themes because that’s how historical narrative was relayed in ancient times. You don’t have to believe me, but at least try not to be so cut and dry. Respectfully.

        • Dina says:

          Wait a minute, Con, these are more than biographies of Jesus taking poetic license from Tanach: these are the books of Chrisian scripture considered by Christians to be divinely inspired; some even consider them the inerrant word of God. These scriptures use Torah to prove their case. So everything is fair game. Instead of being thin-skinned, answer the challenge. Can you?

        • Dina says:

          By the way, Con, Jim expressed no such assumption. He called you out on your explanation of midrash using reason.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Dina, when you don’t give credence to the genre of the literature used by the author, your going to misread the text. You guys accuse Christians of this type of fallacy all the time.

            If the author of Mathew was writing a biography of Jesus, who he saw as a prophetic fulfillment, his use of Isaiah to say that Jesus would be virgin born, would be his way of relaying his contemporary history through the lens of scripture, similar to how bar Kochba got his name ( a wordplay on Numbers 24:17.) was that an abuse of scripture?

          • Dina says:

            Con, I don’t understand the comparison. Matthew wrote about Jesus after his death and used Scripture to prove that he fulfilled a non-existent prophecy that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Bar Kochba called himself Son of a Star because he thought he was the Messiah, which is fine. Anyone can call himself anything. No one wrote after his death that the fact that he became known as Bar Kochba is in fulfillment of a prophecy that a star will rise in Israel. It’s this kind of twisted thinking on your part that we try to point out but which so terribly offends you. Sorry you find it insulting, but this is the way we see things. With clarity🙂.

          • Yehuda Yisrael says:

            Concerned Reader, for the love of Hashem, would you stop making unfair Bar Kochba comparisons to jesus?

            There are literally now Jews who believe that Bar Kochba will have a “second coming” as the Messiah. Contrast this with jesus worshippers…Moreover, Bar Kochba was never deified as jesus was. So please, stop with the unfair comparisons!

            Rabbi Akiva conceded error concerning his belief in Bar Kochba as Moshiach, so this is another reason why your comparison fails.

            I’ve asked you this question about Bar Kochba several times on the Rosh Pina blog but you continue to neglect to answer…

            What objectively makes jesus a better candidate for being worshipped in comparison to Bar Kochba?

            What if there was a hypothetical group of people who believed that Bar Kochba was divine in the same way that you view jesus as divine? Would you condemn Bar Kochba worshippers as being idolators? Why or why not?

            And concerning the “virgin birth,” lets see you answer this.

            Your NT is riddled with lies and takes the Tanach out of context in order to erroneously champion jesus as the Messiah and even god! From page 1 of your NT, Matthew makes the brazen statement at the beginning of his false NT that jesus is literally the Messiah of the Jewish people. He then goes on to try and prove his Davidic pedigree in order to prove that he is at least a candidate for this, but there’s a caveat…Your jesus was said to have been “born of a virgin.” Besides the fact that this would disqualify jesus from being a candidate for the Messiah since tribal heritage only goes BIOLOGICALLY through the FATHER, matthew abuses scripture to say that jesus was “fulfilling” Isaiah 7:14 by being supposedly “born of a virgin.”

            CR, I will now demonstrate to you how the “virgin birth” that matthew speaks of is a lie…Isaiah never made such a prophesy!
            The birth of Isaiah’s child was clearly the fulfillment of the sign prophesied in Isaiah 7:14-16. How do I know this? Isaiah tells us himself! Lets look at these verses

            Isaiah 7:14. Therefore, the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel.

            Isaiah 7:15. Cream and honey he shall eat when he knows to reject bad and choose good.

            Isaiah 7:16. For, when the lad does not yet know to reject bad and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread, shall be abandoned.”

            Keep verse 16 in mind. It is crucial to the context of Isaiah. Now, lets look at the next chapter of Isaiah and see what he has to say:

            Isaiah 8:3. And I was intimate with the prophetess, and she conceived, and she bore a son, and the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz.

            Isaiah 8:4. For, when the lad does not yet know to call, ‘Father’ and ‘mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria shall be carried off before the king of Assyria.”
            Well what do you know! Isaiah said a young woman would give birth to a child and in the very next chapter his wife has a son! Prophesy fulfilled! The interesting thing about it is that Isaiah explicitly says he was intimate with her. This means that this “alma” described in Isaiah 7:14 is Isaiah’s wife. Morever, she is not a virgin! Thus, the word “alma” does not exclusively refer to women who are virgins! Isaiah says it himself!

            And if you are still not convinced, here’s a direct statement from Isaiah saying his sons are signs:

            Isaiah 8:18. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord gave me for signs and for tokens in Israel, from the Lord of Hosts, Who dwells on Mount Zion.

            The natural birth of Isaiah’s son was the fulfillment of the sign of Isaiah 7:14, namely that his wife would give birth to a son, and that before he knew the difference between good and evil/father and mother, “the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria shall be carried off before the king of Assyria.”And if you are going to whine that Isaiah’s son was not called “Immanuel directly,” I will kindly point out to you that your jesus was never called “Immanuel” by his mother either, so you would be setting a double standard, as Isaiah states that the mother of this child will call him “Immanuel.”

            If you are going to argue that this is a “dual fulfillment” regarding Matthew’s application of this to the supposed virgin birth of jesus, you will have to concede that the word “alma” does not exclusively refer to a virgin, as I have demonstrated above. This shows lack of exclusivity to the nature of the word “alma” and demystifies the christian obsession with the birth needing to be “miraculous” in order to see fulfillment.
            In other words, Isaiah 7:14 has just as much to do with the birth of jesus as it does the birth of Karl Marx, or Jerry Seinfeld, assuming a “multiplicity of fulfillments” theory…
            Or perhaps my birth! I was born of a woman! Maybe Isaiah 7:14 is about me!

            See how ridiculous it is to attribute this prophesy to jesus?
            And CR, would you like to explain to me why your NT writer matthew ripped the second half of Hosea 11:1 out of context and applied it to jesus? Matthew chapter 2 describes jesus’s adoptive father joseph going down to Egypt to hide jesus from king herod.

            Matthew 2:15 He stayed there until Herod died. In this way what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled: *“From Egypt I called my son.”*

            Matthew is quoting from Hosea 11:1, but he ripped the verse out of context! Here is the full context of the verse:

            Hosea 11:1. For, when ISRAEL was young, I loved him, and from Egypt I called My son.
            So we can see here that this verse is not about simple the Messiah, BUT ISRAEL! See how matthew abuses the context of scripture CR? But there’s more!

            Hosea 11:2. The more they called to them, the more they went away from them; to the baalim they would slaughter sacrifices, and to the graven images they would burn incense.
            See the context, CR? I wanted to provide you the full context. Your matthew abused scripture and falsely attributed this prophesy to jesus. If you want to claim that this verse applies to jesus, then you have to deal with the fact that the second verse refers to a SINFUL ISRAEL. Do you still want to apply this verse to jesus CR?

            It isn’t a very strong convincer when someone uses passages that are not exclusive to the Messiah in order to try and prove that someone is the messiah…That is the case with Hosea 11:1. The prophesy in its immediate context does not concern the Messiah exclusively, and thus, is a poor choice of a verse to use in attempting to lend credibility to someone being the Messiah.

            This concept isn’t that complicated. Your NT authors give poor evidence to support jesus as being the Messiah. Clearly, they abused the Tanach and ripped it out of context. What deceivers!

            If you’re intellectually honest, you will deal with these blunders head on. Your NT authors abuse scripture to an absurd degree and its time you acknowledged this. We have no reason to assume that jesus was “sinless” or that he fulfilled the Messianic prophesies of the Tanach.

            Shalom

          • Type error :there are literally NO Jews who believe that Bar Kochba will come back as the Messiah…

  10. Concerned Reader says:

    The point is, your arguments are all based in the plain contextual sense, which we all accept. You know that there is taken to be more to verses than the plain sense, but your arguments shut down any other readings. If that’s not what you are intending, then I’m surprised, because that’s what happens.

    • Concerned Reader
      the point is that Matthew isn’t presenting his fanciful readings as another possible alternative reading – He is presenting them as the only reading and condemning everyone who doesn’t accept his “proof” to hell
      He is doing this with a “method of interpretation” that renders the text into something more shapeless than silly putty
      If that is religious virtue for you – fine – but don’t get upset when others aren’t “liberal” and “open-minded” enough to accept this

  11. Dina, I haven’t sought to argue over your interpretations of many verses because I agree with a lot of your and rabbi B’s exegesis. The use of Isaiah 7 for instance. I know it’s referring to Isaiah’s dealings with Ahaz, and Isaiah’s children who serve as signs, but when you say that therefore it can’t refer to Jesus, you ignore the type of literature Mathew was writing, and his usage of the text in that writing. The examples I’ve provided that have been shot down, show that Mathew’s type of writing was not unknown to Jews of his time, and later periods. I cannot help it, if you, Jim, or the rabbi feel that this information is insignificant, or a stretch, but you have to realize that this approach of yours often carries with it, the necessity of accepting your presuppositions regarding text and tradition, without there first being sufficient independently verifiable evidence to justify accepting those presuppositions you hold to. You have said that there is no appeal to tradition here, but the way you approach the book carries the presupposition that the oral tradition is its proper context. Even if I grant your presupposition, it would seem to follow quite logically that given the nature of an oral transmission, there would be a body, or bodies of literature that come to very different conclusions about the same text. (In other words, there would be no strict guarantee of uniformity, or agreement among traditions.) Take as an example, the US constitution. Arguably, the Torah is Israel’s constitution, and like the US constitution, there can and have been many varied (sometimes diametrically opposed ) readings of the same text throughout history. While many readings of the US constitution may seem to be polar opposites, each of these readings carries a historical basis, and context of its own. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?

    • Dina says:

      Hi Con,

      Jim answered you on this argument extensively. He took the time to write a three- or four-part series, which you have not responded to. He has now responded again on this page. Please, instead of repeating your arguments, respond to what Jim has written. And to Rabbi Blumenthal’s points.

  12. Jim says:

    Con,

    Once again, the existence of an argument or a method of argument does not imply its rectitude or its validity. If it did, then you must accept that the anti-semitic readings of the NT by various elements of the Church at various times are just as plausible as yours. You can no longer appeal to their ignorance of the “historical context”. Their interpretations are part of the “historical context”.

    Moreover, you must cease appealing to what Jesus “really meant” as you have done so many times. If what Jesus “really meant” is what matters, then what God really meant matters even more. If you are going to argue for “plausible” interpretations of the Tanach, you must accept them for the NT. You should apologize to Dina, Devorah, R’ Blumenthal, and anyone else whom you’ve told that they don’t understand the NT properly. You do not hold by the “literary context,” so you must logically stop imposing it on others. You must accept that their interpretations are as plausible as yours.

    Regarding my presuppositions, they have nothing to do with the Oral Torah. In fact, they are the same rule to which you keep appealing in regard to the NT. I invite you to review:

    The Inevitability of Eisegesis

    Once again you attempt to justify Christian eisegesis by claiming that eisegesis is inevitable, and so I must repeat myself, it seems. When you claim that it is an “unavoidable phenomenon” it is clear that you cannot mean that one should not try to avoid it. How do I know that you cannot mean that? You have even recently attempted to correct Jewish misconceptions about Christianity. Your arguments rest in part on the idea that the Jewish reader comes with preconceived notions to the NT, and therefore doesn’t understand them. You tell people that the understanding they bring to the text isn’t the understanding of the Church. And you frequently appeal to the context. This means—and forgive me for repeating myself—that you hold that one should attempt to avoid eisegesis whenever possible.

    Therefore, if it can be shown that the Church misreads Torah, because they come to the text with an agenda, the Church has a responsibility to retract its positions. It will be no use to argue that eisegetical mistakes are bound to happen. An intellectually honest person, when it is shown to him that he has made an error due to a preconceived notion, does not cling to his first conclusion. He does not shrug his shoulders and say, “Oh well.” He does not point the finger at those who showed him his error and say, “You are not perfect either.” If he seeks the truth, he thanks the person and corrects his position.

    If eisegesis leads to error, one must do his best do divest himself of it, regardless of who he is. Imagine that because everyone sins, one would argue that he is allowed to give himself up to sin. Such an argument we must reject. Even though we know that people are bound to err, we do not say that they should abandon themselves to it. Rather, they are to repent and to avoid repeating the moral lapses of the past. The errors of reason are no different. One should not maintain a false opinion because everyone is bound to make them. When he discovers a failing, he must alter his opinion.

    In your argument, you appeal to the existence of the Oral Torah as proof that it is unavoidable that one must read the text eisegetically. This is not sound. First, the Oral Torah is part of the context. So is the fact that the Torah is a Jewish book. Those are not outside influences but part of the system. This is similar to how the Federalist Papers, which made the case for American Constitution, can be read to understand the American Constitution when one does not understand the meaning of a particular part. The Federalist Papers are part of the context. But one should not read the Communist Manifesto to understand what is meant in the American Constitution. (This is why it is foolish for Aquinas to appeal to the origin of the Latin word “ceremony” when discussing a book written in Hebrew. When he speculates on ceremonies coming out of Ceres, the grain goddess, this is foolish eisegesis. If one examined the origin of the word “chuk” which does appear in Torah, that would not be eisegesis.)

    Moreover, the rabbis do not allow the meaning of the written Torah to be altered by the Oral Torah. They do not ignore the plain meaning of a passage. They have exegetical rules for interpretation that are based on a logical system. One may not interpret things willy nilly, according to his own ideas. Within the rabbinic system, eisegesis is to be guarded against. The rabbis guard against the “unavoidable.” They do not shrug their shoulders at their own errors.

    If one shrugs his shoulders and accepts every eisegetical reading equally, then one strips a text of all meaning. One does not glean the meaning imparted by the Author. One only reflects a mirror back to himself. He hears not the voice of God, but only his own echo. If one cannot criticize such error, then one must say that the text means nothing at all. One sees Jesus. One sees Horace’s Tree. One sees Joseph Smith. None of them sees God. One is left alone with his narcissism.

    So, one must avoid eisegesis. You do not tolerate it in a reading of the NT or Church fathers, which means that you agree to this principle. Even if it is unavoidable, when one discovers an error, he is obligated to correct it. If he is a truth seeker, he will want to correct it. He will not excuse his faults by appealing to human frailty. The Church cannot excuse her eisegesis by pointing out the faults in others.

    * * * * *

    On a related note, and I do not want to say much about this, the fault of Christian reasoning is not limited to eisegesis. It has been brought up that Christian sources literally alter the text. Matthew misquotes Isaiah. Hebrews misquotes Jeremiah. These are not mere eisegetical errors. Nor do they “merely” take texts out of context. They have altered them. The errors of the Church go beyond the “unavoidable phenomenon” of eisegesis.

    Jim

  13. Jim says:

    Michael,

    Being a ben Noach does not make one a member of a religion. It is merely to say that one is a human being. Being human is not a religion.

    That does not mean, of course, that one does not have an obligation to follow the Seven. One is obligated keep them just because he is human. One has this obligation whether he acknowledges it or not. Logically speaking, because every one of us owes our existence to Hashem, we owe Him our devotion. And we owe Him our obedience. This duty is incumbent on you and me, not because we are called b’nei Noach, but because we live.

    At the moment one recognizes a duty that had been upon him all his life but was unknown to him, he does not become part of a religion. No conversion is necessary. One need not become “baptized” into the movement. But one must begin to observe those Seven. To keep them properly, one must study them.

    It is sensible to study the Seven with others. Because the Jewish people have kept the knowledge of their details alive, we should learn from them. And we should thank them. It makes sense also that we learn with others who have recognized their duty.

    One should also refine his character to bring it in line with the philosophy of the Seven. One should keep in mind that he is continually before his Creator. He should be filled with gratitude for the life he has been granted. All of these things, if he really understands them, will fill him with joy. I think that anyone who sees his adherence to the Seven as service to God, as he learns to love God, will find that devotion to His Laws is not dry or tedious. He will find that he can do them with great joy.

    But he must guard himself. He may wish to create a religious performance to get close to God. Here lies a great danger. First, he may readily fall into the trap of thinking that he has something to contribute to God. God is perfect, and nothing one does can benefit or harm God. Second, if he invents a religious practice, he pretends to a knowledge that he does not have. He may say to himself that because the Jews light candles on Shabbat, God must like candles and light some on Shabbat. Here he pretends to a knowledge about what God would like that he does not have. Third, he may easily fool himself into thinking he is pleasing God when he is really pleasing himself.

    This third is a terrible danger, because one is easily led away by his imagination. When one finds something pleasing to his emotions, he can dull himself to his faults. Because he performs a certain ritual, he feels uplifted and close to God even when he has violated one of the Seven. This is easily observable. How many people feel “spiritual” that worship false gods and dedicate themselves to false notions? Christians feel spiritual. Hare Krishnas feel spiritual. New-Agers, Buddhists, Mormons, Muslims, and even atheists feel spiritual. Spiritual feelings are deceptive.

    The goal is not to find a practice that makes us feel spiritual. It is not to find something to titillate the emotions. The goal is to attach our emotions to the proper things. It is not to invent a practice that makes us feel good; it is to feel good about what God has given us.

    And yet, one can ignore much of what I wrote here. The halacha seems to prohibit creating religious practices. If one wants to grow close to God, then he must respect that. It does no good to ignore God if one wishes to please Him. We must not put pressure on rabbis to invent Noahide practice for us. We must not delve into areas of learning beyond us, just because it would please us. If we wish to please God, we must not denigrate the Seven but cherish them. They originate from Him.

    Jim

  14. Michael Benav says:

    I assume that we agree that non-Jews should be encouraged to adopt the religious orientation of observant Noahides. So I don’t think we need to get into sematics about “religion”. Fostering and maintaining such an orientation in a social setting, i.e. in families and communities, rather than just isolated individuals, will require the adoption of supportive practices. Any halachic restrictions on “creating religious practices” must be interpreted in such a way so as not to frustrate the adoption of the true religion by all mankind.

  15. I don’t mean to interupt your conversation with Michael here Jim, but isn’t it recognized in traditional sources that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were technically noachides when they were observing the seven, as well as other laws that they had rationally deduced which later became Torah under Moses?

    • Jim says:

      Con,

      Rationally deduced laws are a separate topic. One should observe those things that can be deduced rationally. For example, a ben Noach (i.e. a human being) should honor his parents, though they have no command to do so. Gratitude demands as much. This is not a religious ritual, however, and is not really relevant to the topic.

      Jim

  16. Jim says:

    Michael,

    We are really talking about two different things. I have been writing of the danger of adopting rituals for the sake of spirituality. You are writing about religious practices for the sake of community. Let me address your point.

    It is true that the Noachide faces a difficulty in building community. However, I do not see that the answer is to create religious custom. We get along in other forms of community without any such religious practices.

    Let the Noachide communities dine together. Let them study together. Let them foster community through acts of kindness to one another. Let them hold public events. Let them go hiking or biking or whatever enjoyable activities they share in common together. Let them extend their charity to the community at large, acting as a group to do good deeds. All of these things and more will create a community.

    It is wholly unnecessary to create religious practices to foster a community. We do not need our own Shabbat, for example. We do not need to create festivals or practices. None of those things are necessary to create community. And there is a real possibility that they will sow the seeds of confusion and division.

    Jim

  17. Concerned Reader says:

    Yehuda, I answered your questions there.

    • No you didn’t CR. I asked my question about Bar Kochba about 5 times now…I’ll ask you again:

      What objectively makes jesus a better candidate for being worshipped in comparison to Bar Kochba?

      What if there was a hypothetical group of people who believed that Bar Kochba was divine in the same way that you view jesus as divine? Would you condemn Bar Kochba worshippers as being idolators? Why or why not?

      And you didn’t answer me on the forum when I brought this up, but since I already know you believe Matthew 2:15 is a “midrash,” I will bring it up here to show you why matthew’s “midrash” is bogus. This was a poor choice for matthew to use to try and “prove” jesus as Messiah…Here’s why:

      The prophesy is not exclusive to the Messiah. This makes the parallel weak. To demonstrate this, I will make a similar “midrash” to matthews and “prove” that Hosea 11:1 actually parallel’s the evil king Jeroboam’s life.

      I Kings 11:40. Solomon sought to put Jeroboam to death, but Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt to Shishak, the king of Egypt, and remained in Egypt until Solomon’s death.

      See, CR? Jeroboam went to Egypt to flee death! But there’s more!

      I Kings 12:20. And it came to be when all of Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, that they sent and called him to the assembly, and they made him king over all Israel; there was none that followed the House of David except the tribe of Judah alone.

      And so CR, Jeroboam fulfilled the the words of Hosea, “out of Egypt I called my son.”!

      You see, Jeroboam is Israel! He was literally king over Israel! He also literally went to Egypt and came back just like the prophesy says! Jeroboam is “THE TRUE ISRAEL!” (Sarcasm…)

      Not only that, Hosea 11:1 was speaking about events in the past. Not the future! Moreover, the second verse speaks of the idolatrous worship that Israel partook in. This fits with Jeroboam’s rule as after he was crowned king of Israel after returning from Egypt, he took Israel into apostasy!

      So as you can see, my “midrash” fits better with Jeroboam than your ridiculous matthew “midrash” fits with jesus! Do you see the weakness in matthew’s argument now?

      • Concerned Reader says:

        See the post I put there on the thread Yehuda! It’s there. It’s currently awaiting moderation on rosh pina project. I kept telling you, also, like five times to be patient. It should be up soon. I’m not dodging your question, so please calm down.

  18. Also, nice work leaving the otter blog trying to have me post on this one, when I’ve made every effort to answer your questions on rosh Pina project. Be well.

  19. Concerned Reader says:

    Jim, I am not ignoring your argument. You are the one creating a black and white true or false, right or wrong dichotomy where there is no evidence of such present in the genre of the literary source being discussed. If I bring up a type of known historical Jewish writing which uses similar disjointed midrashic themes, fulfillment language, and which can btw in this type of genre be disconnected and somewhat vague, you will shoot it down.

    I’ve noted that Josephus also uses this typology in dealing with Moses and other biblical figures. You are the one who is necessitating that there be some one to one connection of the sources, and of Mathew’s use of midrash. I’ve already admitted to you that i don’t know everything about Mathew’s usage in this source, and I am not claiming to know, but if you have to insist that I am ignoring you or your argument, then that’s fine. I’m not ignoring you, I just fail to see how you are not taking the literary province of the text into account when trying to understand it. You are acting like Mathew is just taking a straight exegetical approach to Isaiahs prophetic text, when that is clearly not what he is doing. If that is what he is doing, then it would be clear that he is being an idiot. Even the most ardent evangelical will admit that Mathew’s usage is some kind of contemporary fulfillment (from Mathew’s perspective) of a promise to the house of David made in Issiah. Its clear that the YOUNG WOMAN IS WITH CHILD in Isaiah is taking place in that time. However, many pieces of literature from the second temple period see a notion of perpetual fulfillment, and or partially fulfilled promises.

    For Mathew’s narrative, Jesus is the New Moses, born miraculously, just as Moses was also born miraculously in second temple literature such as in Josephus. Other biblical figures are too, hence the immediate stress laid in Mathew’s interpretation on a miraculous virgin birth. Ancient prestigious figures are born in prestigious ways in ancient literature of the period.

    In the overarching point of the narrative Herod is thematically similar to Pharaoh, and in his literal historical, social, and political context vis Mathew’s perspective, could serve as AN EXPLANATION of why Mathew drew specific thematic parallels between Jesus and Herod on the one hand, and Pharaoh Moses, and the general context of Isaiah chapter 7 on the other.

    Your seeking of information beyond this, is going beyond the overall clear intent of the text. Its using fulfillment language “thus was spoken etc.” to tell Jesus’ story.

    • Dina says:

      There is one teeny weeny little problem with your explanation of Matthew’s use of “thematic parallels” and “interpretation” of a “miraculous virgin birth.” He expects his audience to accept his fanciful interpretation, as Rabbi B. pointed out, or be condemned.

  20. Jim says:

    Con,

    You said that Matthew was employing a midrash. So, I analyzed the “midrash,” not relying upon exegesis, but looking for a parallel as one might find in a midrash. Instead of trying to explain why it is a midrash deserving consideration, you have changed the discussion to the following things:

    1. A groundless likening of Aram to Herod, which does not correspond to Matthew’s quote.

    2. The nature of ancient biography, also irrelevant to the midrash.

    3. Josephus’ treatment of Moses, which is not only irrelevant to the midrash, but irrelevant in that no one considers his work as scripture.

    4. Matthew’s attempt to liken Jesus to Moses, which has nothing to do with his use of Isaiah 7.14, and so is also irrelevant.

    5. A quote from Rambam, which also has nothing to do with the topic, and by your insinuating question at the end, you do not seem to understand. Regardless, it is irrelevant.

    You are the one that introduced the idea that Matthew was teaching a midrash. Surely you can explain the midrash to us.

    Since you cannot, I will move off the topic and say this:

    You admit that Jesus was being idolized, given a virgin birth when he did not have one, as was common in literature of the period. But that does not mean these things happened. Likewise, we can put the resurrection, found in many religions, in the category of embellishment. The ascension reminds me of that attributed by Romulus by some, according to Plutarch. This is also an embellishment. The miracles are also embellishments, like the virgin birth, in this hagiography of Jesus. All of these things are to contribute to the idea of the greatness of Jesus. But they are not true. And because they are embellishments, meant to idolize a man does not make it a legitimate practice to make the man an idol.

    When I say “man” you are going to say that you do not worship the flesh, nor Jesus without the Father. It is irrelevant. Jesus was a man who walked among people. Worshipping me, but not my flesh, would be the greatest error and a violation of Torah. It would not be to worship God. It is no different with Jesus. The Church asserts that he is divine, but the assertion is nothing but that, an assertion. And it relies on the testimony of men who you already acknowledge exaggerated. Whether that is in keeping with the writing of the time or not, it is an exaggeration. So is making Jesus into God or a person of the godhead. God will not share his glory with another.

    Jim

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