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Article: Isaiah 53: The Suffering Servant

August 5, 2014

SufferingCutting through the distortions and mistranslations of this enigmatic text.

by Marshall Roth

The 53rd chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful, poetic song, one of the four “Servant Songs” in which the prophet describes the climactic period of world history when the Messiah will arrive and the Jewish people assume the role as the spiritual leaders of humanity.

Isaiah 53 is a prophecy foretelling how the world will react when they witness Israel’s salvation in the Messianic era. The verses are presented from the perspective of world leaders, who contrast their former scornful attitude toward the Jews with their new realization of Israel’s grandeur. After realizing how unfairly they treated the Jewish people, they will be shocked and speechless.

While the original Hebrew text clearly refers to the Jewish people as the “Suffering Servant,” over the centuries Isaiah 53 has become a cornerstone of the Christian claim that Jesus is the Messiah. Unfortunately, this claim is based on widespread mistranslations and distortion of context.

In order to properly understand these verses, one must read the original Hebrew text. When the Bible is translated into other languages, it loses much of its essence. The familiar King James translation uses language which is archaic and difficult for the modern reader. Furthermore, it is not rooted in Jewish sources and often goes against traditional Jewish teachings. Modern translations, while more readable, are often even more divorced from the true meaning of the text.

For an accurate Jewish translation of the Bible, read the “ArtScroll English Tanach.”

The Context of Isaiah 53

The key to deciphering any biblical text is to view it in context. Isaiah 53 is the fourth of the four “Servant Songs.” (The others are found in Isaiah chapters 42, 49 and 50.) Though the “servant” in Isaiah 53 is not openly identified – these verses merely refer to “My servant” (52:13, 53:11) – the “servant” in each of the previous Servant Songs is plainly and repeatedly identified as the Jewish nation. Beginning with chapter 41, the equating of God’s Servant with the nation of Israel is made nine times by the prophet Isaiah, and no one other than Israel is identified as the “servant”:

  • “You are My servant, O Israel” (41:8)
  • “You are My servant, Israel” (49:3)
  • see also Isaiah 44:1, 44:2, 44:21, 45:4, 48:20

The Bible is filled with other references to the Jewish people as God’s “servant”; see Jeremiah 30:10, 46:27-28; Psalms 136:22. There is no reason that the “servant” in Isaiah 53 would suddenly switch and refer to someone other than the Jewish people.

One obvious question that needs to be addressed: How can the “Suffering Servant,” which the verses refer to grammatically in the singular, be equated with the entire Jewish nation?

The Jewish people are consistently referred to with the singular pronoun.

This question evaporates when we discover that throughout the Bible, the Jewish people are consistently referred to as a singular entity, using the singular pronoun. For example, when God speaks to the entire Jewish nation at Mount Sinai, all of the Ten Commandments are written as if speaking to an individual (Exodus 20:1-14). This is because the Jewish people are one unit, bound together with a shared national destiny (see Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy chapter 32). This singular reference is even more common in biblical verses referring to the Messianic era, when the Jewish people will be fully united under the banner of God (see Hosea 14:6-7, Jeremiah 50:19).

As we will see, for numerous reasons this chapter cannot be referring to Jesus. Even in the Christian scriptures, the disciples did not consider the Suffering Servant as referring to Jesus (see Matthew 16:21-22, Mark 9:31-32, Luke 9:44-45).

So how did the Suffering Servant come to be associated with Jesus? After his death, the promoters of Christianity retroactively looked into the Bible and “applied” – through mistranslation and distortion of context – these biblical verses as referring to Jesus.

Missionary apologist Walter Riggans candidly admitted:

“There is no self-evident blueprint in the Hebrew Bible which can be said to unambiguously point to Jesus. Only after one has come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and more specifically the kind of Messiah that he is, does it all begin to make sense…” (Yehoshua Ben David, Olive Press 1995, p.155)

The intention is not to denigrate another religion, but rather to understand the true meaning of the Divine word.

Isaiah 53 – Line by Line

Early in the Book of Isaiah, God predicts the long and difficult exile of the Jewish people. Chapter 53 occurs in the midst of Isaiah’s “Messages of Consolation,” which tell of the restoration of Israel to prominence as God’s chosen people.

The key to understanding this chapter lies in correctly identifying who is speaking. Though the book was written by Isaiah, verses 53:1-10 are told from the perspective of world leaders. Following in the footsteps of the previous chapter (Isaiah 52:15 – “the kings will shut their mouths in amazement”), these verses describe how world leaders will be shocked with disbelief when God’s Servant Israel – despite all contrary expectations – is vindicated and blossoms in the Messianic age.

(1) Who would believe what we have heard! For whom has the arm of God been revealed!

מִי הֶאֱמִין לִשְׁמֻעָתֵנוּ וּזְרוֹעַ יְהוָה עַל מִי נִגְלָתָה

In this opening verse, world leaders are shocked at the incredible news of Israel’s salvation: “Who would believe what we have heard!”

This verse refers to “the arm of God.” Throughout the Jewish Bible, God’s “arm” (זרוע) always denotes a redemption of the Jewish people from physical persecution. For example, God took the Jews out of Egypt “with a strong hand and an outstretched arm” (Deut. 26:8). (See also Exodus 3:20, 6:6, 14:31, 15:6; Deut. 4:34, 7:19; Isaiah 51:9, 52:10, 62:8, 63:12; Jeremiah 21:5, 27:5; Ezekiel 20:33; Psalms 44:3, 89:11, 98:1, 136:12).

(2) He formerly grew like a sapling or a root from dry ground; he had neither form nor beauty. We saw him, but without a desirable appearance.

וַיַּעַל כַּיּוֹנֵק לְפָנָיו וְכַשּׁרֶשׁ מֵאֶרֶץ צִיָּה לא תאַר לוֹ וְלא הָדָר וְנִרְאֵהוּ וְלא מַרְאֶה וְנֶחְמְדֵהוּ

This imagery of a tree struggling to grow in dry earth is a metaphor for the Jewish struggle in exile. A young sapling in dry ground appears that it will die. The Jews were always a small nation, at times as small as 2 million people, threatened with extinction. In this verse Isaiah describes Israel’s miraculous return from exile, like a sapling that sprouts from this dry ground. This idea appears throughout the Jewish Bible (see Isaiah 60:21, Ezekiel 19:13, Hosea 14:6-7, Amos 9:15).

(3) He was despised and rejected of men, a man of pains and accustomed to sickness. As one from whom we would hide our faces, he was despised, and we had no regard for him.

נִבְזֶה וַחֲדַל אִישִׁים אִישׁ מַכְאבוֹת וִידוּעַ חלִי וּכְמַסְתֵּר פָּנִים מִמֶּנּוּ נִבְזֶה וְלא חֲשַׁבְנֻהוּ

 A large pile of Jewish prayer shawls (tallesim, tallitot) confiscated from arriving prisoners and stored in one of the warehouses in Auschwitz. (from Lydia Chagoll Collection)

A large pile of Jewish prayer shawls (tallesim, tallitot) confiscated from arriving prisoners and stored in one of the warehouses in Auschwitz. (from Lydia Chagoll Collection)

This verse describes the Servant as universally despised and rejected. This has been a historical theme for the Jewish people, as a long list of oppressors have treated the Jews as sub-human (the Nazis) or as a pariah state (the United Nations). See similar imagery in Isaiah 49:7, 60:15; Psalms 44:14; Nechemia 3:36.

While this description clearly applies to Israel, it cannot be reconciled with the New Testament account which describes Jesus as immensely popular (Matthew 4:25). “Large crowds” of people came from far and wide to hear him speak, and Jesus had to sail into the water to avoid being overrun by the crowds (Mark 3:7-9). Luke 2:52 describes him as physically strong and well respected, a man whose popularity spread and was “praised by all” (Luke 4:14-15). A far cry from Isaiah’s description of “despised and rejected.”

Although Jesus died a criminal’s death, Isaiah is describing someone for whom rejection has spanned the ages – obviously referring to a nation, not an individual who suffered rejection for only a few hours.

(4) Indeed, he bore our illnesses and carried our pains – but we regarded him as diseased, stricken by God and afflicted.

אָכֵן חֳלָיֵנוּ הוּא נָשָׂא וּמַכְאבֵינוּ סְבָלָם וַאֲנַחְנוּ חֲשַׁבְנֻהוּ נָגוּעַ מֻכֵּה אֱלהִים וּמְעֻנֶּה

Throughout the centuries of Israel’s exile, many nations persecuted the Jews on the pretense that it was God’s way of “punishing” the “accursed” Jews for having stubbornly rejected the new religions. In these verses, until the end of the chapter, the nations confess how they used the Jewish people as scapegoats, not for the “noble” reasons they had long claimed.

Indeed, the nations selfishly persecuted the Jews as a distraction from their own corrupt regimes: “Surely our suffering he did bear, and our pains he carried…” (53:4)

(5) He was wounded as a result of our transgressions, and crushed as a result of our iniquities. The chastisement upon him was for our benefit; and through his wounds we were healed.

וְהוּא מְחלָל מִפְּשָׁעֵנוּ מְדֻכָּא מֵעֲוֽנתֵינוּ מוּסַר שְׁלוֹמֵנוּ עָלָיו וּבַחֲבֻרָתוֹ נִרְפָּא לָנוּ

This verse describes how the humbled world leaders confess that Jewish suffering occurred as a direct result of “our iniquities” – i.e., depraved Jew-hatred, rather than, as previously claimed, the stubborn blindness of the Jews.

Isaiah 53:5 is a classic example of mistranslation: The verse does not say, “He was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities,” which could convey the vicarious suffering ascribed to Jesus. Rather, the proper translation is: “He was wounded because of our transgressions, and crushed because of our iniquities.” This conveys that the Servant suffered as a result of the sinfulness of others – not the opposite as Christians contend – that the Servant suffered to atone for the sins of others.

Indeed, the Christian idea directly contradicts the basic Jewish teaching that God promises forgiveness to all who sincerely return to Him; thus there is no need for the Messiah to atone for others (Isaiah 55:6-7, Jeremiah 36:3, Ezekiel chapters 18 and 33, Hoseah 14:1-3, Jonah 3:6-10, Proverbs 16:6, Daniel 4:27, 2-Chronicles 7:14).

(6) We have all strayed like sheep, each of us turning his own way, and God inflicted upon him [Israel] the iniquity of us all.

כֻּלָּנוּ כַּצּאן תָּעִינוּ אִישׁ לְדַרְכּוֹ פָּנִינוּ וַיהוָה הִפְגִּיעַ בּוֹ אֵת עֲון כֻּלָּנוּ.

The nations realize that their lack of proper leadership (“shepherd”) caused them to treat the Jews with disdain. They further acknowledge how punishments that should have befallen the nations were averted through Israel’s suffering.

(7) He was persecuted and afflicted, but he did not open his mouth. Like a sheep being led to the slaughter or a lamb that is silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth.

נִגַּשׂ וְהוּא נַעֲנֶה וְלא יִפְתַּח פִּיו כַּשֶּׂה לַטֶּבַח יוּבָל וּכְרָחֵל לִפְנֵי גֽזְזֶיהָ נֶאֱלָמָה וְלא יִפְתַּח פִּיו

In various contexts, the Bible uses the imagery of “sheep led to the slaughter” specifically in reference to the Jewish people. For example: “You give us as sheep to be eaten and have scattered us among the nations… we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered” (Psalms 44:12, 23).

This verse prophesizes the many hardships – both physical torment and economic exploitation – that the Jews endured in exile. Ironically, this prophecy refers in part to the 11th century Crusaders who “persecuted and afflicted” the Jews in the name of Jesus. In our time, while Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe were “led to the slaughter,” they still remained like a “lamb that is silent before her shearers” – without complaints against God.

(8) He was released from captivity and judgment; who could have imagined such a generation? For he was removed from the land of the living; because of my people’s sin they were afflicted.

מֵעצֶר וּמִמִּשְׁפָּט לֻקָּח וְאֶת דּוֹרוֹ מִי יְשׂוֹחֵחַ כִּי נִגְזַר מֵאֶרֶץ חַיִּים מִפֶּשַׁע עַמִּי נֶגַע לָמוֹ

The phrase, “land of the living” (Eretz HaChaim) refers specifically to the Land of Israel. Thus this verse, “He was removed from the land of the living,” does not mean that the servant was killed, but rather was exiled from the Land of Israel.

This verse again describes the world’s surprise at witnessing the Jewish return to the Promised Land. “Who could have imagined” that the nation we tortured now prospers? World leaders offer a stunning confession: “Because of my people’s sin, they [the Jews] were afflicted.”

Here the text makes absolutely clear that the oppressed Servant is a collective nation, not a single individual. This is where knowledge of biblical Hebrew is absolutely crucial. At the end of the verse, the Hebrew word for “they were” (lamoh – לָמוֹ) always refers to a group, never to an individual. (see for example, Psalms 99:7)

(9) He submitted his grave to evil people; and the wealthy submitted to his executions, for committing no crime, and with no deceit in his mouth.

וַיִּתֵּן אֶת רְשָׁעִים קִבְרוֹ וְאֶת עָשִׁיר בְּמתָיו על לא חָמָס עָשָׂה וְלא מִרְמָה בְּפִיו

Missionaries cite this verse as a claim that Jesus lived a sinless life, and was thus the Messiah. This is contradicted, however, by the Gospels themselves, who record that Jesus sinned by violating the Sabbath (John 9:16) and – by claiming to be God Himself – violating the grave prohibition against making any physical image of God (John 10:33, 14:9-10).

Throughout history, Jews were given the choice to “convert or die.” Yet as this verse describes, there was “no deceit in his mouth” – the loyal Jews refused to accept a pagan deity as their God. Rather than profane God’s Holy Name, they “submitted to the grave” – i.e. chose to die rather than renounce their faith. As such these Jews were often denied proper burial, discarded “to the grave as evil people.”

Further, wealthy Jews “submitted to his executions, for committing no crime” – killed so that wicked conquerors could confiscate their riches.

(10) God desired to oppress him and He afflicted him. If his soul would acknowledge guilt, he would see offspring and live long days, and God’s purpose would succeed in his hand.

ויהוָה חָפֵץ דַּכְּאוֹ הֶחֱלִי אִם תָּשִׂים אָשָׁם נַפְשׁוֹ יִרְאֶה זֶרַע יַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים וְחֵפֶץ יְהוָה בְּיָדוֹ יִצְלָח

“God desired to oppress” the Jewish people, in order to inspire them to return to Torah observance. If the Jews would only “acknowledge guilt,” they would see their “offspring and live long days.” This refers to the Messianic era when all Jews will return to Torah observance.

This verse emphasizes that the Servant is to be rewarded with long life and many children. This verse could not possibly refer to Jesus who, according to the New Testament, died young and childless. (Furthermore, if Jesus was alleged to be the immortal Son of God, it is absurd to apply the concept of “living long days.”)

Although missionaries may claim that the “offspring” refers to spiritual descendants, this is based on a distortion and mistranslation. In this verse, the Hebrew word for “offspring” (zera – זֶרַע) always refers to physical descendants (see Genesis 12:7, 15:2-4, 15:13, 46:6; Exodus 28:43). A different word, banim (בנים), generally translated as “sons,” is used to refer to spiritual descendants (see Deut. 14:1).

(11) He would see the purpose and be satisfied with his soul’s distress. With his knowledge My servant will cause the masses to be righteous; and he will bear their sins.

מֵעֲמַל נַפְשׁוֹ יִרְאֶה יִשְׂבָּע בְּדַעְתּוֹ יַצְדִּיק צַדִּיק עַבְדִּי לָרַבִּים וַעֲוֹנתָם הוּא יִסְבּל

Missionaries cite this verse to claim that Jesus died for our sins. The Christian idea of one’s sins being forgiven through the suffering of another person goes against the basic biblical teaching that each individual has to atone for his own sins by repenting. (Exodus 32:32-33, Deut. 24:16, Ezekiel 18:1-4)

This verse describes how God’s Servant “will cause the masses to be righteous” – not as some mistranslate, “he will justify the many.” The Jewish mission is to serve as a “light to the nations,” leading the world to righteousness through knowledge of the one true God. The Jews will accomplish this both by example (Deut. 4:5-8; Zechariah 8:23) and by instructing the nations in God’s Law (Isaiah 2:3-4; Micah 4:2-3). As it says: “The world will become full of the knowledge of God, as water covers the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

(12) Therefore, I will assign him a portion in public and he will divide the mighty as spoils – in return for having poured out his soul for death and being counted among the wicked, for he bore the sin of the many, and prayed for the wicked.

לָכֵן אֲחַלֶּק לוֹ בָרַבִּים וְאֶת עֲצוּמִים יְחַלֵּק שָׁלָל תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱרָה לַמָּוֶת נַפְשׁוֹ וְאֶת פּֽשְׁעִים נִמְנָה וְהוּא חֵטְא רַבִּים נָשָׂא וְלַפּֽשְׁעִים יַפְגִּיעַ

This verse speaks of how the Jews always pray for the welfare of the nations they are exiled into (see Jeremiah 29:7). The verse continues to explain that the Jewish people, who righteously bore the sins of the world and yet remained faithful to God, will be rewarded.

Regarding the above passage, some have claimed that the “suffering servant” cannot be Israel, since Israel has sins. Yet this is a fallacy, since we know that no human being – not even Moses – is completely free of sin. Yet Moses was considered “righteous,” which takes into account not only one’s good deeds, but also one’s repentance after sin. If Jesus is God, these ideas have no meaning.

Immediately following this promise of reward for the Jews’ suffering (53:10-12), chapter 54 clearly speaks of the redemption which awaits the Jewish people. This point is acknowledged by all Christian commentaries.

Conclusion

In the days of Jesus, nobody ever understood Isaiah 53 to be predicting the death of the Messiah. When Jesus said, “I am going to Jerusalem where I will suffer and die,” the Apostle Peter did not relate this in any way to the suffering described in Isaiah 53. Rather, Peter rebuked Jesus, saying, “Be it far from you Lord, this shall not be unto you.” In other words, “God forbid – that cannot happen to you!” Peter never expected the Messiah to be tortured and killed (see Matthew 16:21-22).

Interestingly, the 20th century Christian New English Bible – Oxford Study Edition (annotation on Isaiah 52:13-53:12) clearly identifies the Suffering Servant as the nation of Israel which “has suffered as a humiliated individual.”

If the context of Isaiah 53 so clearly refers to the Jewish people, how could so many Christian leaders have mistranslated the Bible? History shows that – for whatever motivation – many did so knowingly:

  • Lucius Coelius Firmianes Lactantius, 3rd century Church leader: “Among those who seek power and gain from their religion, there will never be wanting an inclination to forge and lie for it.”
  • St. Gregory, 4th century Bishop of Nanianzus: “A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire. Our forefathers and doctors have often said not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity dictated.”
  • Dr. Herbert Marsh, 19th century English Bishop: “It is a certain fact that several readings in our common printed text are nothing more than alterations made by Origen…”
  • Walter Brueggemann Ph.D., an ordained minister and author of 60 books on the Bible, writes: “[A]lthough it is clear that this poetry does not have Jesus in any first instance on its horizon, it is equally clear that the church, from the outset, has found the poetry a poignant and generative way to consider Jesus, wherein humiliation equals crucifixion and exaltation equals resurrection and ascension.”

Why It Matters

When all the verses have been parsed, and all the proofs have been presented, one still might wonder: What difference does it make who is right?

The theological gap between Judaism and Christianity is not limited to the question: “Who is the Messiah,” or a debate over the translation of a few biblical verses. Judaism and Christianity are two different belief systems, differing over core issues such as the existential nature of man, the role of our relationship with God, and the path to genuine spiritual fulfillment.

Jews have held steadfast to their beliefs for thousands of years, amidst all forms of persecution and hardship. They have done so in the belief that the Jewish people – as bearers of God’s message of morality and justice – have a unique and crucial role to play in human history. As the prophet Isaiah predicts, this will become eminently clear when the Messiah, the King of Israel, arrives. May it be speedily in our day.

This article originally appeared on Aish.com.

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2014 1:18 pm

    So, you are saying that Christianity is a very powerful deception. Did God send that deceiving spirit to test Israel? If not, did God have a hand in it? If not, why didn’t God send a prophet to denounce Jesus? Why were the Jews exiled? Where was God in all of this?

  2. August 5, 2014 1:33 pm

    Brian… Israel didn’t fall for the deception, except for a relatively small number of mostly illiterate or assimilated Helenistic Jews. Same pattern continues to this day.

    Pagan Gentiles, on the other hand, fell for the claims of Christianity, as they also did for the claims of Islam (which also incorporated Jesus into their belief system), some 600 years later. Why did G-d allow Christianity and Islam to spread? I wrote a post about this very thing, here.

    G-d didn’t need to send a prophet to denounce Jesus. The times of true prophets ceased by that time. False prophets and rebels were usually put to death, one way or another.

    Why were the Jews exiled? Certainly not because “Jews rejected their Messiah” or because “Jews killed G-d”! What Christians seem to forget is that the exile didn’t start in the first century. In fact, only 10% of Jews were living in the Land of Israel at the time of Jesus – a small fraction of the total. The rest of Jews populated the Diaspora world over. The true exile happened hundreds of years earlier, when the first Temple was destroyed. Jews never recovered from that exile since most of them lived outside of Israel. Jews never regained a Davidic King and the Land of Israel continued to be dominated by the foreigners – Babylonians, Egyptians, Greek and the Romans. The exile never ended and the regathering of Jews didn’t happen.

    You have to understand the super high standard to which G-d holds His People, Israel. We were punished because we forgot Him, because we turned our backs on His Torah, because we forgot to practice justice and charity, to observe Shabbat properly, etc. This is why He allowed our enemies to overcome us. Not because we committed deicide or somehow missed the messiah (as if spotting a messiah was ever a requirement). But this state of affairs will not go on forever.

  3. Bruce permalink
    August 5, 2014 4:45 pm

    Be’ Shalom Gene –

    Nice argument about John 9:1-16, to the unlearned eye [Non Hebraic/Jewish Culturally]. You appear to have a valid case in regards to the Rebbe breaking Shabbat.

    If you’ll hear my response, maybe you’ll reconsider your interpretation? In regards to Yeshua violating the sabbath.

    John 9:1-16 is about Healing a blind man: And this incident itself potentially involves 3 Sabbath violations.

    “Mud & Spittle”. To heal a man Yeshua spat on the ground and made mud out of the spittle and the earth. Mixing two substances to form a third is a form of work [as we both know] which is prohibited on the Sabbath day. This probably would fall under the category/prohibition of “kneading”. It as you know is Melachah.

    1st century Jewish folk medicine considered spittle a remedy for eye trouble, particularly spittle of a firstborn son [b.Bava Batra 126b]. That mud and spittle mixture was applied as a salve. And I’m sure you & I can agree smearing is another form of work prohibited on the Sabbath. The Jerusalem Talmud expresses this emphatically [y.Avodah Zarah 14d]. Yeshua also told the man to immerse himself. At least by conventional definition of Sabbath law, Jews do not immerse on the Sabbath.

    The Masters enemies wanted to prove that He broke the Sabbath [John 9:16] and encouraged others to do so. Like you they wanted to prove that Yeshua was indeed with sin, and if He is with sin then He cannot be the Messiah.

    The Talmud has an interesting discussion that illustrates the issues found in John 9. The rabbis argue whether or not an eye condition is serious enough to warrant setting aside the Sabbath prohibition in order to apply a medical salve.According to one opinion, the salve could be applied only if someone had already prepared and brought the herbal medicines prior to the Sabbath [b.Avodah Zarah 28b]. A second opinion states that grinding the medicines and carrying them on the Sabbath is permissible for the sake of treating an inflamed eye [b.Avodah Zarah 28b].

    Not everyone agreed with this second opinion. Rabbi Shmuel bar Yehudah said, “Anyone who acts according to Yehudah’s opinion breaks the Sabbath!” Ironically Shmuel ended up suffering from an inflamed eye on Shabbat! lol. He asked Rav Yehudah if treating his eye on the Sabbath was permissible or forbidden. Rav Yehudah replied, “For everyone else it is permitted–but for you it is forbidden.” Rav Yehudah told a story about why preparing and administering medicine for a sore eye should be permitted even on the Sabbath [b.Avodah Zara 28b].

    The Talmud goes on to justify Sabbath-day eye treatments on the basis that an inflamed eye might cause a threat to one’s life. Now that full conversation in the Talmud [which i didn’t include] would be okay up until the final ruling.

    Yeshua wouldn’t agreed to the final ruling. Rabbi Yeshua believed compassion for human beings takes precedent over Sabbath prohibitions, even when a man’s malady or disability poses no threat to life. Rabbi Yeshua taught since the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, the alleviation of human suffering supersedes the Sabbath prohibitions.

    Yeshua often used the Hosea 6:6 passage to teach that compassion for human beings takes precedent of ceremonial concerns. In Hosea 6:6 the word translated in most english bibles is “mercy” in Judaism that’s Chesed which is generally understood to mean, loving-kindness, compassion, and acts of love. Yeshua reminded the rabbis of his day that the Temple service, with its sacrifices and burnt offerings, takes priority over the Sabbath [Matthew 12:5].

    Remember the rabbinic principle of “kal vachomer”. The essential message of John 9:1-16 is not if Yeshua cancelled the Sabbath or that rabbinic interpretation of Sabbath is illegitimate. The message is that acts of compassion and mercy performed to alleviate human suffering takes precedence over Sabbath prohibitions.

    The miraculous power by which Yeshua performs the healings only serves to add G-d’s endorsement to Yeshua’ legal rationale.

    -Bruce

  4. August 5, 2014 5:00 pm

    Bruce… I think that the arguments in the Gospels against the “evil Pharisees” who wished to see people suffer permanent disfigurement and disability rather than violate Shabbat are contrived and they never happened in real life. These are slanderous accusations, made to paint Jews in worst possible light – and they accomplished their goal, as we’ve seen over the last two thousand years.

    The fact is, according to the Gospels themselves, Jesus didn’t claim to heal “naturally” on Shabbat as a doctor would, but rather by using miracles (the “spit salve” itself was not the healing agent and most of the times Jesus didn’t use any physical work at all in healings). Since Jesus didn’t really do any work himself but asked or believed G-d to heal, there’s really no prohibition on G-d doing a miracle, no matter what day of the week it is.

    Now, did Jesus actually heal anyone? Faith-healing televangelists of today, in the age of modern medicine, make all sorts of claims, most if not all turn out to be false and made up upon examination. But if Jesus did heal (we have no evidence outside of the NT), would doing a miracle prove that Jesus was true? Doesn’t the NT itself warn:

    “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24)

    If even the NT authors warn (or put in Jesus’ mouth) that miracles are not proofs to be relied on and can actually be used to deceive, what does it say about Jesus’ own miracles being “G-d’s endorsement to Yeshua’ legal rationale”?

  5. August 5, 2014 5:18 pm

    The only question I asked that you answered was why you thought the Jews were exiled. You said that they weren’t… which wasn’t a very good answer. Why don’t we have prophets today?

  6. August 5, 2014 5:28 pm

    “You said that they weren’t… which wasn’t a very good answer.”

    Brian… you should read what I say more closely, since I said no such thing. I specifically said that the first “exile never ended“. Only 10% of Jews returned or remained in the Land of Israel after the Babylonian exile, and the Land of Israel was always under control, direct or indirect, of foreign countries ever since. The exile ends when ALL of Israel is regathered in the land and when they have full control of their own land.

    “Why don’t we have prophets today?”

    Because it’s up to G-d to send the prophets. The time of the prophets ended right after the Babylonian exile (long before Jesus was born). Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi were the last prophets (claims by NT’s church scribes of Anna being one and some others notwithstanding and irrelevant). Now that we have the prophetic writings in our hands is the time to implement what the Torah and prophets have taught.

  7. August 5, 2014 6:01 pm

    Ya. I read that answer, and I didn’t find it very satisfying. Are you suggesting that there will eventually be a 100% return, where all of the exiled Israelites will return to the homeland?

    And you admit that the prophets stopped coming, but you didn’t give me a reason why God would do that. I’m simply not satisfied with the answers. Maybe I’m impossible to satisfy. Maybe you don’t see the problem. Maybe I don’t see the solution. Who knows? I don’t.

  8. August 5, 2014 6:46 pm

    Yes, 100‰ return of ALL Jews from exile.

    As it says in Ezekiel 39:28:

    “Then they will know that I am the L-rd their G-d, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving ANY behind.”

    As far as being no prophets, they will appear once again, in the future, once Israel is completely back in the Land. Babylonian exile effectively ended prophecy until messianic times. After prophets came Sages, and then rabbis. The farther we are away into exile and from the Land, the farther we are from direct communication with G-d. This will change once Israel is back in the Land, with all Jews faithful to G-d, following His Torah.

  9. Bruce permalink
    August 5, 2014 6:49 pm

    Shalom Gene,

    Here’s what Yeshua’s signs were representing, What is the Gospel message? The standard Christian response to this question has to do with the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah, and an individual attaining salvation by “putting their faith” in Him. There are some obvious problems with this definition:

    Scripture (Matthew 26:13; Mark 10:29; Luke 20:1) says that Yeshua preached the Gospel Himself, prior to His death. He never preached “believing in His resurrected self” to anyone.

    The same goes for His disciples who also preached the Gospel before He died. (Luke 9:6). Nowhere do we see them preaching believing in the risen Messiah before Yeshua died – yet they are preaching “the Gospel.”

    We are even told that the Gospel was preached to the children of Israel in Moses’ time:

    Hebrews 4:2-6 – For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as G-d has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, `They shall never enter my rest.'” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day G-d rested from all his work.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.

    The Gospel is not a “new message” of the “New Testament.” In its widest sense it is everything the Torah points to; the Messiah and Tikun Olam. Specifically, it relates to the Jubilee, which was given as a foreshadowing of the acceptable year of the Lord. Yeshua pointed to this when was in the Temple as we read the following passage:

    Luke 4:18-19 – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

    Yeshua of course is quoting Isaiah chapter 61, which includes the additional words, “and the day of vengeance of our G-d; to comfort all that mourn.” Yeshua stopped mid-verse, as He is first fulfilling the role of the Temple High Priest, and only upon His return does He take on the role of the High Priest Anointed for War.

    Historically, Judaism acknowledged “dual roles” for the Messiah. Not comprehending that Messiah may come twice (2) the “two Messiah” theory evolved, made up of an kind and atoning Messiah ben Joseph, and a judging and vengeful Messiah ben David.

    So lets look at the Yovel Year and its connection to the Gospels. The Dead Sea Scrolls have provided an important link to the relationship Yeshua may have had with the Qumran community, especially the sect of “John the Baptist.” We know Yeshua spent a lot of time in the Wilderness and that is where people first heard the “announcement” of His arrival from John.

    In Luke’s gospel we see the disciples of John coming to Yeshua and asking Him if He is the one they have been awaiting. Note carefully His reply:

    Luke 7:22 – Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

    Here Yeshua does not give a simple, direct answer. In fact, you could say this is a “coded message” meant for John’s understanding. Yeshua’s words are reiterating the things Messiah was forecast to do, from Isaiah (the “Jubilee release”), with one important difference. Nowhere does Isaiah in his descriptions of Jubilee release, say that Messiah will raise the dead. However, an Isaiah scroll found at Qumran, includes the resurrection reference. Yeshua was quoting from a Qumran scroll, thus linking Himself and Luke’s account to Qumran.

    As John’s origins were with the Qumran community in the “Wilderness” (as were Yeshua’s), they shared a common view of Isaiah’s prophecy. John would understand Yeshua’s response as an affirmative one, telling him — I am the Messiah come to initiate the Jubilee release. This is the “Gospel” message.

    To make the connection between between Messiah, Melchizadek, the Jubilee Release, and the salvation atonement of Yom Kippur, we will now look at several sources. The first of these was already mentioned — the Isaiah prophecy that indicates the Messiah will carry out judgment in the “Day of the Lord”:

    Isaiah 61:1-3 – The Spirit of the Lord G-D is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our G-d; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

    Next is Psalm 110, where we see “the Lord” speaking to “the Lord” and stating His priesthood is in the order of Melchizedek, a heavenly, eternal priesthood — as opposed to the earthly Levitical priesthood. This “second Lord” will be the one to bring judgment to the kings of the earth in the Lord’s “day of wrath.”

    Psalm 110 – The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

    Now we move to a mystical passage in the Zohar that ties the Jubilee year with; Psalm 110, the Shekinah, the Tikun Olam (restoration) and the Millennium. This section also refers to God’s “right hand” creating the world:

    Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 50b – According to another explanation, “the Lord” refers to the Jubilee and “my lord” to the Sabbatical Year (cf. Ex. XXI, 5, “I love my lord”). The words “sit at my right hand” are appropriate, because the Right is located in the Jubilee, and the Sabbatical Year craves to be linked with the Right. When it first came into being, the Sabbatical Year was not linked securely (to the supreme power) through either the Right or the Left. So when it sought to secure itself, the supreme power stretched forth its right arm to meet it and created this world. It is because it is from the side of the Left that it has no sure basis till the time of the seventh millennium, when at length it will be linked through the Right. Then the Sabbatical Year, between the Right and the Left, will be securely based, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and it will not depart from there for ever. According to this explanation, we must take the words “sit at my right hand” to refer only to a specified period, viz. “till I make thine enemies thy footstool”, but not in perpetuity; for when that event has come to pass, it will not depart from there for ever, as it is written, “for thou shalt spread abroad on the right hand and on the left” (Is. LIV, 3), all being united. Similarly we can interpret the text “the heavens and the earth” to mean that the higher Shekinah and the lower Shekinah will be joined in the union of male and female; this has already been explained, as the colleagues have noted.’

    Finally, we turn to the writings of Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) where the Yovel year is tied to the Messiah of Isaiah 61, who is in turn directly associated with Melchizedek.

    Two very significant items here are;

    Use of “year of Melchizadek’s favor” in place of, “year of Hashem’s favor,” thus equating Melchizedek to G-d.

    The statement that Melchizedek atones for the sins of the righteous and executes judgment, which again are placing him in G-d’s role.

    Note: gaps in the scroll text are indicated by “…”:

    11Q13, Col. 2 – … And concerning what Scripture says, “In this year of Jubilee you shall return everyone of you, to your property (Leviticus 25:13). And what is also written; and this is the manner of the remission; every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbor, not exacting it of a neighbor who is a member of the community, because God’s remission has been proclaimed” (Deuteronomy 15:2) the interpretation is that it applies to the Last Days and concerns the captives just as Isaiah said: “To proclaim the Jubilee to the captives (Isaiah 61:1) … just as … and from the inheritance of Melchizadek, for … Melchizadek, who will return them to what is rightfully theirs. He will proclaim to them the Jubilee, thereby releasing them from the debt of their sins. He shall proclaim this decree in the first week of the Jubilee period that follows nine Jubilee periods. Then the “Day of Atonement” shall follow after the tenth Jubilee period, when he shall atone for all the Sons of Light, and the people who are predestined to Melchizadek … upon them … For this is the time decreed for the “year of Melchizadek’s favor,” and by his might he will judge God’s holy ones and so establish a righteous kingdom, as it is written about him in the songs of David: “An ELOHIM has taken his place in the council of EL; in the midst of the ELOHIM he holds judgment (Psalm 82:1). Scripture also says about him: “Over it take your seat in the highest heaven; an ELOHIM will judge the peoples” (Psalm 7:7-8). Concerning what Scripture says about him: “How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality with the wicked? Selah” (Psalm 82:2). The interpretation applies to Belial and the spirits predestined to him, because all of them have rebelled, turning from God’s precepts and so becoming utterly wicked. Therefore Melchizadek will thoroughly prosecute the vengeance required by God’s statutes. Also, he will deliver all the captives from the power of Belial, and from the power of the spirits predestined to him. Allied with him will be all the “righteous ELOHIM” (Isaiah 61:3). The … is that whi(ch) … all) the ELOHIM. The “messenger who brings good news, who announces Salvation” is the one of whom it is written; “to proclaim the year of YHWH’s favor, the day of the vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn (Isaiah 61:2). This scriputure’s interpretation: he is to instruct them about all the periods of history for eternity … and in the statutes of the truth … dominion that passes from Belial and returns to the Sons of Light … by the judgment of God, just as it is written concerning him; “Who says to Zion ‘Your ELOHIM reigns'” (Isaiah 52:7). Zion is the congregation of all the sons of righteousness, who uphold the covenant and turn from walking in the way of the people. “Your ELOHIM” is Melchizadek, who will deliver then from the power of Belial. Concerning what scriputre says, “Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud in the seventh month …” (Leviticus 25:9).

    P.S. off topic but the smiley face in the left corner of your blog at the very bottom speaks highly of your sense of detail and uniqueness.

    On Topic, G-d had a purpose for Yeshua and Yeshua carried it out flawless. He represented the Torah, the awaited Yovel year but was subsequently rejected by His brothers and sisters, but will return for them as Messiah ben David.

    -Bruce

  10. August 5, 2014 7:38 pm

    Thanks, Bruce, for the comment and the complements:)

    When I came to my realization that Christianity was built as a house of cards on a dry sand, that its evidence was based not on Hebrew scripture or actual prophecies about JC but on the so called “shadows”, that Jesus was being shoehorned by Christian apologists into later Jewish texts and pried out of unrelated sectarian literature or opinions of obscure rabbis who didn’t influence Judaism, I realized how false claims about him were and still are. However, for those who WANT to believe in Jesus, no contrary evidence of his irrelevance as either a messianic candidate or the “god in the flesh” will be sufficient. I certainly hope that your openness to re-examination of Christianity’s claims will lead you to the conclusion that the G-d who created you should be your sole focus.

  11. Bruce permalink
    August 6, 2014 12:34 pm

    Your welcome Gene, many blessings to you looking forward to more discussions, you definitley provide thought provoking material.

    – Bruce

  12. David permalink
    August 6, 2014 5:28 pm

    Hi Gene,

    As you are already aware, I have no axe to grind/agenda when it comes to proving that JC is the Messiah. Quite the contrary.

    But the above article, like many arguments on both sides of the issue, in my opinion at least, only states half the story.

    First, there is at least one reference in the Talmud which is corroborated by Rashi that Isaiah 52-53 refers to some kind of leper/white Messiah.

    Secondly, it can’t just be dismissed that this servant song never identifies the servant as Israel like in the other three servant songs/poems.

    Third, in 53:8, the Hebrew word “ami” or “my people”, in all other usages/contexts refers to the people of Israel. Note particularly both uses in 52:4 and 52:6, which clearly refer to Israel. It seems difficult given this immediate context, as well as i its general usage, that my people in 53:8 refers to the kings/peoples of pagan nations.

    Additionally therefore, the contextual flow of 52 into 53 doesn’t mean that 53 can’t be referring to the Messiah, as opposed to Israel. Note in 52, that it says that both Israel and the nations will see this deliverance, (Israel in verses 52:8 &13) as well as the nations (52:10 & 15). It is very possible therefore to conclude that both the people of Israel, and the nations, will see this servant.

    Though I do not argue here that there is anything here to prove JC is the Messiah there is nothing farfetched in the above hermeneutic that the passage itself is messianic. And this is also in keeping with Rashi on the “leper/white” Messiah in the Gemara, which makes no sense if the passage can only be understood as talking about Israel. It supports as well the notion of a Messiah ben Yosef type as found in normative Judaism.

  13. August 6, 2014 6:12 pm

    David, the view that Isaiah 53 is a “messianic” passage in any way is a minority opinion with Judaism. Rashi is often very midrashic in his interpretations, this possibly being no exception. Although I would like to see a quote from Rushi – I don’t think that he disagrees that this passage is about Israel. Can you look it up and paste here?

    There is nothing in the passage to make it messianic as Judaism understands the concept of messiah. There are of course multitudes of minority opinions within Judaism on every issue under the sun, and being a minority, it certainly doesn’t constitute “half” the story.

    Same goes for the Messiah Ben Joseph (anointed leader from one of the half tribes of Joseph) opinion or idea of supposedly two messiah, which is a VERY late opinion that I believe first appeared in Targum Yonatan, and may have been an attempt to reclaim the “suffering messiah” from Christianity. The concept or the name is not found anywhere in the Tanakh.

  14. August 6, 2014 8:29 pm

    David…. you said:

    “First, there is at least one reference in the Talmud which is corroborated by Rashi that Isaiah 52-53 refers to some kind of leper/white Messiah.”

    Rashi on Isaiah 53:3:

    Despised and rejected by men: was he. So is the custom of this prophet: he mentions all Israel as one man, e.g., (44:2), “Fear not, My servant Jacob” ; (44:1) “And now, hearken, Jacob, My servant.” Here too (52:13), “Behold My servant shall prosper,” he said concerning the house of Jacob. יַשְׂכִּיל is an expression of prosperity. Comp. (I Sam. 18:14) “And David was successful (מַשְׂכִּיל) in all his ways.”

    More of Rashi’s commentary on this chapter is found here.

    As you can see, no mention of any suffering messiah by Rashi. Instead, he attributes the suffering servant of Isaiah 52 and 53 to the people of Israel.

    “Third, in 53:8, the Hebrew word “ami” or “my people”, in all other usages/contexts refers to the people of Israel.”

    The chapter alternates between singular and plural quite freely. However, if we go by usage frequency alone, the “servant” in Isaiah is always Israel the people. Also, “my people” being Israel, in this context, doesn’t make sense since messiah himself is one of the people of Israel rather than a detached man-god of Christianity.

    When chapter 52 speaks of “my people”, that’s G-d speaking of Israel, His people. So, “my people” of 52 and 53 are not the same. This is because when we move on chapter 53 it’s clear that it’s no longer G-d speaking, but rather someone else speaking about themselves as a group. Over and over that someone repeats “our”, “our”, “our” and then that same person (or persons are one voice) says “my people”. Also, the division between 52 and 53 is an artificial division of later Christian translators (and not present in the original Hebrew), who divided the verses into chapters precisely to separate the true meaning of nations reacting to Israel’s exaltation.

  15. David permalink
    August 6, 2014 10:52 pm

    Hi Gene,

    As far as Rashi goes, I am having difficulty finding the quotes from Rashi on Sanhedrin 98b, though I can find those who are willing to reference him…I will keep looking.

    As far as his commentary on Isaiah 53, I am well aware that he states that it speaks there of Israel. His commentary on Sanhedrin 98b contradicts this however. This controversy is itself a subject of discussion if you look. But again, talk is cheap if I can’t produce the text!…:)

    But either way, Sanhedrin 98b says what is says regardless of Rashi.

    As far as the “my people” part of your second response I am really not following your argument. But it at least seems to me like you are begging the question a bit: Of course if the servant is Israel, and the one speaking is the kings/nations than “my people” isn’t referring to Israel

    But for the reason’s already given, I think the option is open that the servant is a Messiah figure. Therefore, my people could be Israel, or at least part of Israel, or as my point was in the last post, Israel and the nations together.

    The passages are both poetic and ambiguous so I wouldn’t push it too hard either way.

    Again, no arguments here about JC. Just that I don’t think the issue is nearly as cut and dried as the article maintains.

  16. August 7, 2014 12:09 am

    Isaiah specifically identifies Israel/Yaakov as the “servant” 8 times, starting in chapter 41. For him to make an exception just in 53 and out of the blue by servant mean someone else other than the same servant (the Jewish people) already identified so many times just prior to that hardly leaves the Messiah as the suffering servant option very open.

    Did the first century Jews read that passage as referring to a suffering messiah? As all Christians know and as the article above states, even the NT presents Jesus’ disciples as wholly ignorant of that meaning, both before AND after his death, even though the prophets were read in the synagogues and privately. This was a novel reinterpretation by Christianity to explain JC’s death and failure as a Jewish messiah in cosmic redemptive terms, a re-reading unheard-of in first century Jewish circles and only *midrashicaly* not literally suggested by a few Jewish authorities hundreds of years later.

  17. David permalink
    August 7, 2014 10:38 am

    Hi Gene,

    As always, in our discussions, I see your point.

    The only thing I can say is that the statement about Mashiach being the leper scholar is found in the Gemara (98a-b) and though the specific reference to Isaiah 53 is part of a discussion of the names of Mashiach that is somewhat tongue in cheek (each school/rabbi names him after himself using word puns) the Gemara, on a deeper level, is using these names to describe the Mashiach’s qualities and character.

    I myself don’t think we can just dismiss the Gemara, simply because it was written down after JC.

    Additionally, I found the Rashi, but it is on 98a, The Gemara states that the Mashiach has leprosy, and suffers with the other sufferers of Israel even removing his bandages one at a time. Rashi explains that he does this so as not to lengthen golus “even one extra moment”.

    I won’t bother to quote the whole Rashi, but his point, I think, is that just as the people of Israel suffer, the Mashiach suffers. Which has been my point all along. For me, its not that the servant in Isaiah 53 is either Israel or the Messiah, but that it refers to both. This is only hinted at in the text, but is revealed in the Gemara and Rashi.

    The idea of one man’s actions and character being representative of the nation is not new. Take for example, Joseph. He goes down to Egypt as a slave, hits rock bottom so to speak, but then eventually is exulted to a place of preeminence. Israel experiences the same. They experience slavery/hardship but are eventually delivered to have preeminence in the land of Israel. This is likely the basis for a Messiah ben Yosef type. One who experiences all of the suffering and exile of his people but like them, is ultimately vindicated.
    On the deepest level, here, the Messiah is not only a triumphant, delivering king, but also is afflicted, and experiences the suffering of his people. And like his people will experience the rise to preeminence in the end.

    Now, if you want to say that all of this is just metaphorical, fine. I can’t dispute that. And if you want to say it is all some kind of post-Christian polemic, I can’t prove you wrong either. (Though I do think there is some evidence that a suffering messiah motif existed prior to JC.) But either way, I think there is more to the story here.

  18. August 7, 2014 10:59 am

    David, you are right of course that as a Jew, a king of Israel (or kings, since messiah will have children of his own) will share in both the troubles and triumphs of his people Israel.

  19. Yehuda Yisrael permalink
    August 12, 2014 8:53 pm

    Bruce, you claimed this concerning the “Melchizedek priesthood”

    “Next is Psalm 110, where we see “the Lord” speaking to “the Lord” and stating His priesthood is in the order of Melchizedek, a heavenly, eternal priesthood — as opposed to the earthly Levitical priesthood.”

    First of all, the second “lord” is referred to as “adoni,” a Hebrew word which is not exclusive to the divine…

    Second of all, we know that the only other place in the Tanach where Melchizedek is mentioned is in Genesis 14…Melchizedek is mentioned as being the King of Salem. (Jerusalem) This was a place on earth, not in heaven…So I would say that you are incorrect in asserting that the Melchizedek priesthood is exclusively a “heavenly priesthood.”

    Also, I am confused why you come to the conclusion that the Melchizedek priesthood relates exclusively to jesus…I am not convinced that it refers to jesus at all…But I have no problem with it having a Messianic connotation to it as well.

    You will find in the Talmud that Abraham, King David, and even the Messiah are called as being fulfillments of this Psalm. One of the most striking commonalities between King David and Abraham is that they both “crushed kings” with the help of Hashem. This directly correlates with Psalms 110:5, which explicitly states this:

    Psalms 110:5. The Lord, on your right hand, **has crushed kings** on the day of His wrath.

    Now Bruce, during jesus’s lifetime, did jesus “crush kings”? Was he successful in defeating his enemies? Were his enemies “made a footstool at his feet”? Clearly not! Your jesus was killed and failed to fulfill the Messianic prophesies outlined in the Tanach. As it stands, jesus has fulfilled none of Psalms 110 in any tangible sense. You can argue that he will fulfill it in his supposed “second coming,” but to claim that jesus has fulfilled any of this Psalm would be completely baseless as it stands…

    Another oddity about your understanding about this “Melchizedek priesthood” is that you believe that jesus’s bloodshed “atoned for the sins of the world.” Where in the Tanach does it state that the Melchizedek priesthood achieves atonement via the blood sacrifice? The only priesthood that was given this divine instruction that I know of was the Levitical priesthood…If you could find a passage in the Tanach which states that the “Melchizedek priesthood” achieves atonement via “blood sacrifice,” then maybe your position would make a little more sense. But as it stands, you appear to be baselessly asserting that this Melchizedek priesthood has “superior atoning power” in comparison to the Levitical priesthood, when there is nothing in the Tanach that indicates that the Melchizedek priesthood deals with blood atonement at all! I hope you will consider these concerns.

    Here is a video of me asking these same questions to Dr. Michael Brown. As you can see, he didn’t quite have an answer…

    Shalom and G-d bless!

  20. Yehuda Yisrael permalink
    August 12, 2014 9:20 pm

    David, Brian, and Bruce… concerning Isaiah 53, I challenge you to show me one reference in the entirety of the servant songs where the servant is referred to explicitly as “David” or “the stem of Jesse” or any other Messianic specifier used in other passages throughout the Tanach…

    The fact is, the “servant” of Isaiah’s servant songs is referred to as Israel and Jacob multiple times. But where is the servant referred to as being “David” or “the stem of Jesse”?

    Jews and Christians can agree on other passages referring exclusively to the Messiah! Here are a few:

    Isaiah 11:1. And a shoot shall spring forth from the **STEM OF JESSE,** and a twig shall sprout from his roots.

    Ezekiel 37:24. And **MY SERVANT DAVID** shall be king over them, and one shepherd shall be for them all, and they shall walk in My ordinances and observe My statutes and perform them.

    Hosea 3:5. Afterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God and **DAVID THEIR KING,** and they shall come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness at the end of days.

    Jeremiah 30:9. And they shall serve the Lord their God and **DAVID THEIR KING,** whom I will set up for them.

    There is one thing all of these verses have in common: They all use a “Davidic qualifier,” meaning that they all exclusively refer to the Davidic dynasty in some fashion. This is why Jews and Christians can all understand that these future prophesies refer to one person: Moshiach ben David.

    However, Isaiah 53 makes no mention of this servant having any exclusive association with the kingdom of David. However, it does make nearly a dozen references to Israel/Jacob being the servant in the previous chapters leading up to Isaiah 53… This is why we understand it as referring to a collective group of individuals, namely the righteous among Israel!

    And David, I agree with your understanding that the servant refers to Israel, including the Messiah. As you know, the Talmud does, too…However, it would be a mistake to assume that the servant of Isaiah 53 refers ONLY to the Messiah. That is the stumbling block that christianity has created.

    Shalom and G-d bless!

  21. August 19, 2014 6:54 pm

    The end of Isaiah 52 and all of Isaiah 53 are misunderstood by Judaism and Christianity. I think I have figured out what they really say, but it is too much to type here.

    Here are a few examples:

    Paraphrasing, it says he will divide a spoil with multitudes because he bared his soul to death and he was counted with evil doers. I think it says he will divide a spoil instead of who (tachat asher) bared his soul to death and with evildoers was counted.

    I think this refers to Hezekiah dividing the spoil of the Assyrian army that died and was counted as 185, 000 soldiers.

    Paraphrasing, it says if his soul will make a guilt offering, he will see a seed, and he will lengthen days. When Hezekiah was told he would die, he cried (his soul offered a guilt offering), and he was given an extra 15 years during which his son Menaseh was born. He began to rule at12, so he was born in that extra time.

    There are many more details, but I don’t know if you will allow me to mention my site. I have a lot more in my PDF about the Messiah.

    Kenneth Greifer

  22. August 19, 2014 7:36 pm

    Kenneth, whether it’s about Hazekiah (there were rabbis who also held this opinion, so you didn’t exactly innovate it) or about Israel, one thing is for sure – it’s not about Jesus. Can you explain why do you also think that it’s not about Jesus? That would be more helpful to this discussion.

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