Category: Israel & The Jewish People
Down the many centuries, how this twisting of His plan?
From Israel’s own leaders, moved by fear and jealousy to crucify
While He walked with us — yet among the common people He was
The most popular Rabbi of all time!
(But God was not surprised) —
To the innumerable times the “church” or those aligned, or evil nations
Moved to discriminate, to evict His own Jewish “brethren” from decent places to live,
Even to banish them from entire countries;
Some of the hatred perhaps brought on by the brethren themselves,
Who regarded themselves “chosen” and all others
As those who were “out of covenant,” the “nations,” the (shudder) “gentiles.”
The old “convert or die” stance against these, His own brethren,
Whom Paul admonished us to treat well.
Dark, antisemitic words from the seminal Reformation voice;
The “Third Reich’s” falsely citing Christianity in its darkest wrongs.
And the surviving remnant of all these diabolical schemes
Understandably concluding that “Jews don’t believe in Jesus” —
Their orthodoxy sure to tell them “The New Testament isn’t for Jews.”
A false dichotomy!
What culture wouldn’t love to claim Yeshua?
But He bears a Hebrew name.
Yet the long, tragic story of the Jewish people
And the “leading” of their still-tradition-blinded guides
Still block recognition and reunion.
Many among the one nation that can claim Jesus continue to reject or ignore Him!
Yet God’s ultimate plan unfolds on course.
Through the story of Jacob’s son Joseph,
Yahweh shows us that, though Christ’s own brethren,
Like Joseph’s, through their evil leaders of His day,
May have treated Him terribly —
One day, like Joseph’s brethren, they will learn that He lives —
And have a private, impassioned conversation.
At long last they will be utterly reconciled to the Son — all argumentation will cease.
They will be freed from all the hurt, the blindness, the lie.
He will hasten to embrace and weep along with them,
Like Joseph with his astonished brothers long ago.
Like Joseph’s brothers, they had not recognized Him!
Yet it is He who has saved and will preserve them!
Yeshua loves — has always loved — Israel first and forever.
It is through Israel’s having prepared the way for Jesus that all nations have been blessed —
The Abrahamic Covenant forever fulfilled in Him.
Posted in Israel & The Jewish People
Who has heard such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:8)
This is what the Lord God says: Look, I will lift up My hand to the nations, and raise My banner to the peoples. They will bring your sons in their arms,
and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. (Isaiah 49:22)
They will bring all your brothers from all the nations as a gift to the Lord on horses and chariots, in litters, and on mules and camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “just as the Israelites bring an offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord.” (Isaiah 66:20)
“However, take note! The days are coming”—the Lord’s declaration—“when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives who brought the Israelites from the land of Egypt,’ but rather, ‘As the Lord lives who brought the Israelis from the land of the north and from all the other lands where He had banished them.’ For I will return them to their land that I gave to their ancestors.” (Jeremiah 16:14,15)
“ . . . the nations will know that I am the Lord. For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.” (Ezekiel 36:23,24)
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach appeared recently on a Sid Roth television debate with Dr. Brown (Viewable at: http://www.sidroth.org/site/News2?news_iv_ctrl=-1&abbr=tv_&page=NewsArticle&id=11373&security=1041).
Shmuley recited a list of reasons that Jesus “can’t” be the Jewish Messiah that was, to say the least, less than persuasive. One of his “reasons” seemed particularly strange; Shmuley cited the “unfulfilled” Messianic prophecy that Israel’s Messiah would “restore the kingdom to Israel.” He asked, with his characteristically-intense, rising volume, pitch, and speed, whether anyone thought this prophecy has been fulfilled.
Surely Shmuley is aware of the massive return to Israel in recent decades of people of Jewish ancestry from Russia, Africa, the U.S., and other parts of the world. Christians (and perhaps other people of faith from around the world) have financially supported the return of those who couldn’t have “made aliyah” otherwise. Even if Shmuley refers to the restoration of military power and superiority to Israel, rather than the restoration of its lost tribes and scattered citizenry, these military objectives have also been accomplished by tiny Israel in recent decades!
Yes, Rabbi Shmuley, many viewers are absolutely certain that these amazing prophecies have been — and are still being — fulfilled before our eyes.
The prophetic verses above (and there are many more on this topic) become so powerful and precious in light of recent history, with regard to the return of the lost tribes or scattered citizenry of Israel. But the statement at the end of Isaiah 66:20, which is about Israel’s children being brought back to her in every possible type of conveyance, is deeply intriguing: “as the Israelites bring an offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord.”
Could the “clean vessel” be a new Israel (“Messianic” Israelis), whose citizens’ eyes will increasingly be freed from the “scales” that have blinded them (also foretold in prophecy), and whose people will at long last see the One who has so long been obscured from her understanding and recognition — and finally requite to the Lord the offering of love and recognition that He so richly deserves?
May it increasingly come into manifestation before all rejoicing hearts. Maranatha!
Posted in Israel & The Jewish People Tagged with: debate, ezekiel, faith, God, heart, israel, jeremiah, Jerusalem, Jesus, jewish, love, messiah, messianic, military, prophecy, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, restoration, return, sid roth, tribes
Yeshua/Jesus consistently sounded the “Wedding theme” throughout His ministry time with us — and since. His ministry even began with His “turning water into wine” at a wedding celebration in Cana, even though this was apparently unplanned. Marriage is a powerful picture of oneness. Of our becoming worthy to be citizens of His kingdom. Of the deep love of a “Bridegroom” who longs to see His “bride” appear spotless and beautiful before Him.
In ancient Hebrew culture, marriage was surrounded by a rich, if somewhat folksy, tradition. The young man who had identified the young woman with whom he wanted to share his life would gather his financial resources. He would go to the young woman’s home. He would take wine with him. He and the young woman would often be seated at a table. He would pour a glass of wine and extend it to her. If she chose to drink it, this indicated her acceptance of his betrothal. The prospective groom would then make arrangements with her father for a gift of money or other valuable items that the bride’s father would receive. But if she chose not to “drink the cup,” the young man would gather his things and leave.
We remember Yeshua’s asking His disciples, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?” He framed this question in Jewish wedding-tradition language.
If the young woman accepted the young man’s proposal, he would return to his father’s house and begin preparing her a place — often not more than a room added to his father’s home. But this room was sometimes referred to as their “mansion”! The prospective groom might have been overly hasty in his enthusiasm for his new life, so only his father could say when the addition was complete and sufficiently well done that his son could bring his bride.
During the time that it was being built, when people would inquire about when they would be married, the groom would reply, “Only my father knows.” The groom often went to claim his bride in the middle of the night! This practice increased the suspense and excitement. The bride-to-be, assisted by her wedding “party,” had to be ready to depart for her new life with her groom at a moment’s notice.
When disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t fast, as they and the Pharisees did, He answered by characterizing Himself as “the bridegroom”! “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”
Like the prospective groom’s giving his prospective bride’s father a gift of money or other valuable items, the apostle Paul tells us that we are “bought with a price.”
It’s well known that the Church is figuratively described as the “Bride” of Christ. Yeshua tells us that we are to be ready — to know the signs and seasons of His return. He tells us that He will come for us at a time that we don’t expect Him! He tells us that, like the groom of old, He is “going to prepare a place for” us. That “In my Father’s house are many ‘mansions.’” Like a trustworthy bridegroom, He reassures us, “If these things were not so, I would have told you.” And when asked about the timing of last-days events, He replies, “Only the Father knows.”
Jesus sounded the Wedding note from that first wedding at Cana throughout His ministry on earth. And finally in Revelation, His angel speaks of the coming marriage supper of the Lamb!
Hebrew scholar Dr. Karl Coke has said that a closer translation of the familiar “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” that Jesus said from the cross, in part to remind us that He was fulfilling the words of Psalm 22, would be: “My God, My God, why have You bachelored me?” Dr. Coke explained, “He saw that He wouldn’t have His ‘bride’ until He got to the other side of the cross.”
In John 17 we find Jesus speaking less figuratively about the wedding. Having responded to a questioner earlier in His ministry to the effect that in heaven we won’t marry, His prayer offered shortly before the crucifixion, in John 17, speaks plainly of oneness. This is one of the precious places in Scripture where we are told that we have the opportunity to become like Him! His prayer here is that we in all ways — with everything we have — will join Him.
Posted in Israel & The Jewish People Tagged with: figurative, Jesus, marriage, oneness, theme, yeshua
Zola Levitt taught that while the Book of Job tells the story of a man — his story parallels the larger story of the country of Israel.
We remember early glimmerings of the important ideas in Job. For example, its raising the question “Why do the righteous suffer?”
And that most-beautiful statement of faith that Job managed to voice in the midst of his grievous trials: “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
As we read to see if there was anything in Job that opened the door for dark experiences, we consider his realization “The things that I have greatly feared have come upon me.”
We might even have gone so far as to look deeply at why God, rejoicing in Job’s righteousness, more or less paraded Job before Satan for him to consider — and ultimately take aim at. We heard one analyst observe that God’s boasting over Job to Satan was done with the hope that after Satan had taken all of his best shots, God would then be able to bless Job even more. We appreciate this opinion, because it arrives at the same enormously-loving Father that Jesus “walked” before us.
But Zola’s teaching that in Job, as in other scriptural stories, there is a parallel between the central figure’s story and Israel’s story is particularly helpful.
God knew that while Satan’s worst arrows would bring Job — and Israel — very low, even close to despairing — that Job and the Jewish people would never turn their backs on God. He knew that the crusades, the pogroms, World War II — all the horrific anti-Semitic experiences — would leave Israel an emaciated, disenfranchised state of “dry bones.” But He also knew, and even prophesied for Satan to see, that the dry bones would come together again, the scales would fall from Israel’s eyes; that the second time Yeshua appears, His own beloved brethren would run to embrace Him. That like Job, God’s beloved Israel will finally come into her own.
Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People Tagged with: faith, father, God, hope, israel, Jesus, jew, jewish, Jewish people, love, righteousness, yeshua
The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
This is from the LORD and is His doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22,23
Zola Levitt once said in a broadcast: “When God chooses a people, Satan chooses them too.” Dr. Brown has detailed the history of anti-Semitism, pointing out that it has had longer tenure and more depraved manifestations than any other prejudice in the world.
Yeshua invited every one of us to “become one with” Him, which He presented in the parable or paradigm of the ancient Jewish wedding tradition. The beauty of the language He chose slowly dawns on us as we become acquainted with the unique features of this tradition. It is a tradition that is well worth looking into — because throughout the New Testament His most reassuring promises are framed in an analogy to this wedding paradigm.
But Jesus issued to Israel — to His Jewish brethren — a unique opportunity. He told them that only when they invite Him to return will He return! “You [Israel] will not see me again until you say ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”
Rabbi Jonathan Bernis recently mentioned that Satan knows all too well that Jesus’ return will wait for this unique invitation from Israel. Jonathan explained that this is why some of the most vicious recent hate crimes and harassment have been directed toward Messianic Jews. We have seen reports of these incidents — one particularly barbaric, all deeply disturbing. They have occurred in recent months in Israel.
We’ve seen reports of young Messianic Jewish children being tormented about their faith by other children. They’re mockingly called “Christians” — as if this were a deplorable thing to be. But Messianic Jews are certain that they are Jewish. They’ve realized that recognizing the Jewish Messiah doesn’t detract from being Jewish — this recognition completes and fulfills Judaism. This is what the Orthodox don’t want Jews to know.
This is why some among the Orthodox try so desperately to keep other Jews from reading the New Testament — the B’rit Hadashah. Some among the Orthodox will even use listeners’ memories of the Holocaust, pogroms, and other terrible suffering at the hands of people who pretended to be Christians to remind Jewish hearts or minds that are beginning to open that “the New Testament is for Christians.” The Orthodox persuade other Jews that reading it is “disloyal” to all the Jews who suffered and died over the centuries at the hands of people who posed as Christians — “disloyal” to being Jewish.
Scripture is full of such amazing and beautiful “pictures” and reversals. In a picture of Jesus’ return, David refused to return as king of Israel after Saul finally died until David’s (and Yeshua’s!) own tribe — Judah — invited him to return. Ultimately the people of Judah not only invited David to return — they went out “to conduct him over the Jordan.”
Peter was so broken and remorseful after having denied knowing Jesus three times before the crucifixion that he thought he would just go back to fishing — he thought he might be “good enough” to do this. But Jesus restored him to his higher calling by extending a single question to him three times — a question that allowed Peter to affirm three times the very bond that he had three times denied — and to receive his personal commission as well.
Apparently the ultimate “Playwright” wants the same people who, through their “representatives” who were in power at the time, “did not know the time of their visitation” when He lived on earth — to be the very ones to call Him back to all of us. This is the world’s Story; and no person could have written it.
Yeshua said that when Jews at long last look up in recognition to invite Him back He will come. The One who “alone knows the end from the beginning” indicated that this will happen! We can be in prayer to strengthen His beloved Israel — the Jewish people — against all the slings and arrows of Israel’s — and God’s — outrageous enemies. And to strengthen the Jewish people toward “the scales falling from their eyes” and the recognition’s dawning.
Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People Tagged with: David, Jesus, Jewish people, Judah, Peter, return, yeshua
This week as the Palestinian Authority makes it bid for ‘statehood’ through the UN General Assembly, let us look at the legality and legitimacy of Israel’s right to Judea and Samaria (Israel Proper included). In a CBN news segment, the San Remo Conference is covered in a short 4 minute video.
Recently Jews and Christians met at the historic villa to commemorate the actions of the victors of WWI in establishing a permanent homeland for world Jewry. By the time of its signing in July 1922, by the League of Nations the original mandate territory was already reduced by 75% and the Jews accepted the remaining 25% as their homeland. Thus the Jewish people had rights to all the land west of the Jordan River and were prohibited from settling in what became modern Jordan. The land in question was not the ARAB’S to loose but had been under the Ottoman Empire. It was controlled by the Turks who were allied with Germany in the war (see map). Another important note made in the CBN segment was that in the transition from the League of Nations to the UN, all prior agreements with regard to the mandates must be upheld.
One interesting note is that in the current situation some of the original European countries who signed onto the San Remo agreement are poised to break that commitment by siding with the PA’s bid for statehood.
For a more detailed look at this conference the European Coalition for Israel has a 15 minute video demonstrating the legal claims.
One key comment in this video is the “reconstituting of a national home” for the Jewish people. This recognizes the HISTORICAL RIGHTS of the Jews to the land. One could also replace that word with “BIBLICAL” rights. Quoting from the Executive Summary at EC4I:
Thus, in a word, the primary foundations in international law for the claim based on “historic rights” or “historic title” of the Jewish people in respect of Palestine are the San Remo decisions of April 1920, the Mandate for Palestine of July 1922, approved by the Council of the League of Nations and bearing the signatures of that international treaty by the Principal Allied Powers in July 1922, and the Covenant of the League of Nations itself (Art. 22). The rights thereby granted to the Jewish people (with the exception of the provisions of Article 25 of the Mandate, relating to Trans-Jordan) were aimed at the establishment of a Jewish national home throughout Palestine. These rights have never been rescinded.
The world is a different place than 90 years ago. If the same events were to have taken place today, the Jews would be still be wondering among the nations. The sentiment of nations is to lie in in the falsehoods of the nations that cannot tolerate to have a Jewish state in their neighborhood. As we embrace the reality of the Lord’s hand in dealing with the seed of Jacob, we can appreciate his sense of timing. This week the world will have a referendum to side with Israel’s enemies or with Israel. Choose wisely.
John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.
Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People
I never expected to be in the middle of a public dispute between three Orthodox Jewish rabbis, a dispute that involves the banning of a book about Jesus, and one that is being played out in the Huffington Post. The Post, on its part, chose not to publish my column that corrected some of the misinformation written about me. So much for journalist ethics.
Rabbi #1. Over the last decade, I have developed a close friendship with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the man hailed by Newsweek as “America’s most famous rabbi.” What makes the friendship unique is that the friendship has been developed in the midst of more than twenty intense debates we have had on whether Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, from the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan to a famous lecture hall in Oxford, England.
Obviously, I have taken the “yes” position and Rabbi Shmuley the “no” position, and, in keeping with our differing viewpoints, Shmuley insists on referring to me as a “Jew who converted to Christianity,” a description that I reject to the core of my Jewish soul. (Simply stated, if Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, believing in him does not constitute converting to a different religion.)
Here is where the plot thickens. Partly inspired by our debates, Shmuley wrote a book entitled Kosher Jesus, and it has caused a firestorm of controversy in the traditional Jewish community, as a number of prominent rabbis have expressed their concern that it will encourage Jews to read the New Testament and find out more about Jesus. For traditional Jews, that is not a happy proposition, especially given the 1,500 year history of the sometimes bloody, “Christian” persecution of Jews.
As expected, I am frequently targeted by Shmuley in his book, albeit in a friendly and respectful manner. At his request, I wrote an endorsement for Kosher Jesus while at the same time expressing my profound disagreements with it, finding the book far more offensive for traditional Christians than for traditional Jews. Interestingly, I have already read posts by other rabbis saying that if I’m endorsing the book, it must not be good for Jews!
Rabbi #2. Rabbi Dr. J. Immanuel Schochet is a world class scholar of Jewish mysticism and philosophy, a famed opponent of Jewish believers in Jesus, and a member of the Lubavitch Hasidic Jewish community, one with which Shmuley has close ties.
In response to a flood of inquiries he received about Kosher Jesus, he made an official legal pronouncement (called a halakhic decision in Jewish law), banning the reading of the book and calling on Shmuley to recognize “the error of his ways and . . . make amends by retracting the book.”
I also have a connection with Immanuel Schochet, having debated him before an audience of almost 600 at Arizona State University in Tempe Arizona on March 30, 1995. (More on that shortly.)
Rabbi #3. Rabbi Yitzchok Schochet is a prominent Orthodox rabbi in England whose name has been floated as a serious candidate for Chief Rabbi of the UK. He is also the son of the aforementioned Immanuel Schochet.
In Shmuley’s regular column in the Huffington Post, he lambasted Dr. Schochet’s book-banning pronouncement, stating that it was totally out of character for the learned rabbi. Shmuley also made reference to previous dealings he had with Rabbi Yitzchok Schochet, prompting Yitzchok to request a guest column in the Post in order to reply to charges Shmuley brought against him.
The Post complied, and in Rabbi Yitzchok’s column, he defended his father and explained that his father would not engage in debates with “missionaries,” with the exception of one time: “There was one debate my father did have when asked to challenge Michael Brown, the tragic Jews for J proponent. This was in the presence of a panel of judges who would determine the winner of the debate. Notwithstanding my father’s victory and inasmuch as he felt that one time necessary, he still regretted it thereafter.”
Putting aside the silly comment about me being “the tragic Jews for J[esus] proponent” (I would wish such a “tragic” life on everyone I know), Rabbi Yitzchok’s description of the event was completely erroneous.
This was confirmed in detail by the moderator of the debate, Dr. James White, who wrote to me (at the request of Rabbi Shmuley): “This is simply false. I was the only moderator of the debate. There were no judges, there was no panel. There was no proclamation of a victor: that was left to the listeners to decide, as in the vast majority of such debates.”
Dr. White, however, offered his own assessment of the debate: “The audience was primarily Christian, and I would imagine the vast preponderance of the audience, myself included, considered the debate rather one-sided in Dr. Brown’s favor.”
In the coming days, it will be interesting to see what happens with the controversy surrounding Kosher Jesus. For my part, I’m writing my own major response, which should stir the waters even more. And so the debate continues!
Dr. Michael Brown is the author of A Queer Thing Happened to America and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network.
Posted in Israel & The Jewish People, Lead Article
By Christine Colbert
A number of nations, including the US and the UK, have withdrawn from participation in the September 2011 Durban III conference. This gathering is a forum for those who hate Israel to get together for the purpose of condemning her attempts to protect her citizens.
On a very different note, the World Council of Churches in May 2011 hosted “World Week for Peace in Palestine.” On its official site the Methodist Church’s Rev. John Calhoun, identified in an editor’s note as a member of the New York Annual Conference and convener of World Week for Peace in “Palestine Israel,” described the uprisings in Arab countries that have come to be known as “Arab Spring.” He characterized these overthrows in this way: “. . . ordinary citizens have been rising up against their illegitimate leaders and demanding political freedoms.” He mentioned the regimes that “already have fallen in Tunisia and Egypt.”
In Calhoun’s article, this language flows directly into: “Those living under [Israel’s] illegitimate control are the Palestinians of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” The title of this article, reflected in a banner photo of Palestinians walking beside a heavily-graffitied wall, is “It’s time for Palestine.”
It should be recognized that “Palestine” is a name that was first applied to the larger area of Israel by Roman occupiers. This applied name was continued by the British during the time of their mandate after WWI. Prior to the Roman occupation, Israel was Israel.
Further, the words “Illegitimate control” need to be considered. The piece cites various UN resolutions relating to Israeli territories that Israel has “defied” by not yielding these in various ways to “Palestinians.”
Our understanding of Scripture is that Israel was given sovereignty in the Land forever, although not to the exclusion of residency and participation for other nationalities. Arabs live in Israel and even participate in the Knesset. Throughout Israel in many places one sees a green “Palestinian”/Arab flag flying alongside of the Israeli flag. This openness is not extended to Israelis in Arab nations. Further, Israel is not firing on or terrorizing “Palestinians.”
Walid Shoebat, who is a Jordanian by birth, speaks of the time in 1967, immediately following the 1967 War (in which Jordan and other Arab neighbors attacked Israel, resulting in Israel’s winning the war and regaining control of Jerusalem); he indicates that at that time he “suddenly became a ‘Palestinian’ — before this I was a Jordanian.”
This is key information.
Calhoun cites the Wesleyan tradition of social responsibility within the church. He mentions a church publication that encourages visitors to the Holy Land to worship with “indigenous Christians.” Further, he cites a Methodist publication entitled “Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land.” This publication states:
The United Methodist Church opposes continued military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements, and any vision of a “Greater Israel” that includes the occupied territories and the whole of Jerusalem and its surroundings (Resolution 6073).
One wonders whether Methodist administrators have glanced at the Old Testament recently.
A recent report within the Presbyterian church recommends continuing the “phased, selective divestment” from companies that do business with Israel, which was enacted in 2004. “The church has been split on this for years,” general presbyter for the Hudson Valley Susan Andrews told Jewish Telegraphic Agency reporter Dan Klein.
On a brighter note, Canada’s conservative prime minister Stephen Harper recently indicated that “Canada will always stand by Israel” in national policy.
Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: christians, conservative, israel, Old Testament, palestinians, world council of churches
By Shira Sorko-Ram
Reprinted with permission from Maoz Ministries (Newsletter May 2007)
In Israel the more ultra-rabbinical a sect, the less they read and study the Bible. Most ultra-Orthodox groups in Israel and elsewhere teach their young men the rabbinical books of the Talmud, and their average yeshiva student knows selected Biblical texts only through the pre-digested commentaries of the Talmud and other rabbinical literature.
However, there are branches among Orthodox Jews that are giving priority to the study of the Bible. One such individual was Rabbi Mordechai Breuer who recently died at the age of 86. He was born into a family of modern Orthodoxy and became a highly respected authority – although virtually unknown outside of Israel – on the Old Testament books of the Bible.
In 1958 he was asked to proofread a Hebrew edition of the Bible and suddenly found himself to be considered an expert on the subject. From then on, his life was spent examining the Hebrew Biblical texts.
The Oldest Existing Hebrew Bible
As all Biblical scholars know, there are a great number of manuscripts (mainly fragments) of the Hebrew Bible which have been preserved over the last thousand years and are used today by scholars who are studying the texts or translating them into different languages. But the Bible considered to be the oldest and most reliable in existence is the Aleppo Codex (Codex is an archaic word for the earliest form of a book. Biblical text were usually written on scrolls to be read in the synagogue. When scribes wrote the text in book form, it was only for scholarly study), copied around 920 A.D. in Tiberius by the famous scribe Aaron Ben-Asher. The priceless Bible was stolen in the 11th century and brought to Egypt, finally ending up in a synagogue in Aleppo, Syria for 600 years.
Up until the 1950’s, the complete manuscript in Aleppo was still in good condition. But with the creation of the modern state of Israel, and the ensuing Arab rioting, scholars pleaded with the Aleppo rabbis to move the Bible to a safer location.
However, for centuries the rabbis of Aleppo had fiercely guarded the codex, keeping it in almost total isolation and not even letting Jewish scholars examine the manuscript! What is worse, the rabbis would not allow the scroll to be photographed, probably out of superstition that as long as that Bible was the sole possession of the Jewish community in Aleppo, they would be safe from calamity. (http://www.bible-researcher.com/aleppo.html)
In 1948 the synagogue was set on fire; the codex disappeared and the Aleppo rabbis led the world to believe it had been destroyed by fire. But witnesses to the rescue of the manuscript informed the Israeli government, and with much behind-the-scenes pressure, worldwide, the rabbis finally allowed the Aleppo Codex to be smuggled into Israel page by page with tourists in 1958. However, to the horror of the Israeli scholars, only two-thirds of the Bible arrived; the Torah was almost completely missing along with a few other portions. Out of a total of 487 pages, only 295 arrived.
Until today, the missing leaves are a subject of fierce controversy as some scholars b elieve they are still hidden among the Jewish community of Aleppo.
A Modern Searcher for God’s Word
In 1968, Rabbi Mordechai Breuer was assigned the task of determining the Hebrew Bible’s wording, spelling, vowels and cantillation (chanting) from ancient manuscripts for a modern Bible commentary which would be faithful to the belief that the Biblical text was inspired by God.
Breuer would have given almost anything to have had access to the Aleppo Codex as the basis for his research. And by now, the Aleppo Bible was in Israel! However as scholars are prone to do, the professors at the Hebrew University studying the Bible would not allow any other researchers to share the asset! (Ha’aretz, 22Mar07)
Due to lack of choice, Breuer used five other most important Bible manuscripts (although newer than the Aleppo Codex). He began his own monumental reconstruction of the Masoretic texts (see the story below) comparing them word for word. His method of selecting the correct text each time he observed variations, was to choose the spelling and notations of what he found in the majority of the five manuscripts. For example, if manuscripts 1, 2, 3 and 5 agreed on a spelling, but 4 did not, he would use the majority spelling.
By accepting the version of the majority and discounting the deviations of the minority, Breuer was convinced he was uncovering the one authoritative original writings of the Bible preserved by Masorah (oral tradition) – the ancient version given by the inspiration of God. (Ibid)
Other scholars strongly disagreed with his methodology because they supposed that there were many oral traditions which came down through the centuries as Jews emigrated to different nations. But Breuer believed that from time immemorial there was a single universally accepted oral tradition and the variant spellings and notations in the different manuscripts were simply errors made by scribes.
Recreating the Text of a Lost Torah
Thus, Rabbi Breuer reconstructed the entire Old Testament by examining each word in the five most important ancient manuscripts. And then his wildest dream came true. Somehow, he managed to get his hands on a copy of the Aleppo Codex. He never even told his son how he came to possess the facsimiles, but the son said when he came home that day with the manuscript, “he acted like an accomplice to a crime!”
Then the next miracle happened. When Breuer began to compare his re-creation of the Biblical text from the five manuscripts to the Aleppo text, lo an behold, they were exactly the same except for two places! An incredible discovery! This comparison proved that from the time the books of the Bible were written there was one and only one universally accepted version of the Masoretic text that was handed from one generation to the next, and it proved that the Aleppo Codex faithfully recorded it.
Furthermore, this meant Breure’s method could be used authoritatively to reconstruct the missing portions of the Aleppo Codex. (Ibid)
Rabbi Breuer later issued an independent version of the entire Old Testament that was quickly accepted as the most reliable and accurate. The “Jerusalem Crown” Bible is a modern version of the Hebrew Scriptures based on the Aleppo Codex and the reconstruction work of Breuer. It is the official version of the Bible of the State of Israel and used when the President of Israel is sworn into office.
Dead Sea Scrolls 1000 years older than Aleppo Codex
With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, very few dramatic changes in the Biblical text have been found. The Dead Sea Scrolls have, in almost every case, confirmed the accuracy of the Masorah, and suggest that an ancestor of the Masoretic Text (a scroll or codex with notations) was indeed in existence at least 100 years before the birth of the Messiah.
There is one very interesting difference found in the Dead Sea Scrolls in Psalm 22:17 (English, 22:16). The Masoretic texts read “like a lion are my hands and feet” which does not make sense. But the Septuagint – a Greek translation of the Old Testament by Jewish scholars in the second century B.C., – reads, “They have pierced my hands and feet.”
Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls confirmed the Septuagint version of this verse! Since Psalm 22 is one of the most important and clearest chapters describing the death of the Messiah, this is an important verification. Many of the latest revised translations have incorporated changes due to research done with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Nevertheless, nearly all are theologically insignificant such as minor misspellings.
The Bible went through a remarkable history to make it into this century, especially in view of the ancient methods of transmitting texts by hand, sometimes in primitive conditions, and considering that the scribes lacked photocopy machines, computers, printing presses, and similar modern inventions. (http://byubroadcasting.org/deadsea/book/chapter2/sec3.html)*
The Mesorah notations in the margins of the text show the painstaking and passionate zeal these ancient scribes possessed in their quest to safeguard the accuracy of the sacred text from generation to generation. The world owes an enormous debt to these dedicated Jewish scribes who spent their lives copying the Word of God, letter by letter, notation by notation, so that after several thousand years, we may still find salvation through the authentic Words of God as originally written down by Moses, the prophets, the kings and inspired men of God.
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Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: authority, bible, biblical scholars, Guest Writer: Shira Sorko-Ram, Jerusalem, Old Testament, orthodox jews
by Christine Colbert
Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs Danny Ayalon recently released a video that discusses Israel’s legitimate presence in the West Bank. In this brief video, he discusses historically verifiable facts like Israel’s capturing the West Bank from Jordan in 1967. He points out that there was no Palestinian state at this time. Mr. Ayalon states that Jordan had no legal right to be in this area, and that it had changed the names of Judea and Samaria to “the West Bank.”
He states that Israel’s presence in the West Bank in 1967 was for the purpose of self-defense and provides historic details that strongly support his remarks. These facts are verifiable. He suggests that the term “disputed territories” is far more appropriate for the West Bank than “occupied territories.”
The video can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGYxLWUKwWo&feature=youtu.be
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat immediately responded by characterizing Israel as “pro-conflict,” occupying colonialists. He described the video as “not . . . amateur” and as presenting a “cynical and falsified account” of history and international law.
Mr. Ayalon has replied that PA representatives are “unable to challenge a single fact in the video and have completely avoided a legitimate and honest discussion on the issues.”
The video, released in late July, has already drawn more than 100,000 views. Mr. Ayalon has said he would be happy to present facts in a debate setting with any PA representative. “I now realize that there has been such a thirst for the truth, not just among Israel supporters, but also among the undecided, and its success has prompted me to think of doing a lot more in this area,” he said, referring to the video.
It seems that the kinds of historical dates, occurrences, and binding resolutions that Mr. Ayalon and Mr. Erekat address should be a matter of ascertainable fact. If one side has long been pulling the wool over much of the world’s eyes, it shouldn’t succeed in misleading or confounding many in the global community forever.
Is it possible that Israel doesn’t “occupy” Israel?
Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: israel, Jordan, Judea, Samaria