Would Jews ever call Moses God?

Miracles are not enough
Why for Jews Jesus Christ is not the Savior
by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

Against the background of Mel Gibson's hugely successful film The Passion of the Christ and the production company's ambitious worldwide marketing plans, which consider this film to be perhaps the “best message carrier for two thousand years” to “the unbelievers”, we Jews should be clear once more why we don't believe in Jesus. The point here, and this must be emphasized, is the degradation of other religions, only the clarification of the Jewish position.

The Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah because Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies. Jesus did not embody the personal qualities of the Messiah in himself. The Bible verses that "refer" to Jesus in this regard are incorrectly translated. The Jewish faith is based on a revelation to the people of Israel.

Let us first clarify the background to the whole question. What exactly is the Messiah? The word "Messiah" is a translation of the Hebrew word "Mashiach" (anointed one). Usually this term refers to persons who are consecrated to service to God by being anointed with oil (Exodus 29: 7). Since high priests and kings were anointed, each of them can be addressed as "anointed one" (Messiah or Mashiach). For example, it says: "Shame it on me (David) of the Eternal to lay my hand on the Messiah the Eternal (Samuel)." (1 Samuel 26:11).

Where does the Jewish concept of the Messiah come from? One of the central themes of biblical prophecy is the promise of a future time of perfection in worldwide peace and in the recognition of God. Many of these prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel at the time of completion. Since every king is by custom a Messiah, we call this future anointed king "The Messiah". That's all the Bible says about the King of the House of David who is about to come. We will recognize the Messiah when we see who will rule Israel in the age of worldwide perfection.

What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? The Bible speaks of the following tasks that he will fulfill: He will build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37: 26-28). He will gather all Jews in the land of Israel (Isaiah 43: 5-6). He will usher in a time of worldwide peace and put an end to all hatred, all oppression, all suffering and all illness ("the people do not raise a sword against the people, they no longer learn war", Isaiah 2: 4).

He will fill the world with the knowledge of the God of Israel, who will unite all humanity. As it is said: "And the Eternal shall be king over all the earth. In that day the Eternal will be only and his name only" (Zechariah 14: 9).

Whoever does not meet even one of these conditions cannot be "The Messiah". But because no one has ever met this biblical description of the coming king, the Jews are still waiting for the coming of the Messiah. All past aspirants, including Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Kochba and Sabbatai Zvi, were rejected. The Christians object that Jesus will fulfill these prophecies after his return. However, the Jewish sources say that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies immediately. The Bible does not have the idea of ​​a return.

Furthermore, Jesus did not embody the personal characteristics of the Messiah. The Messiah will be the greatest prophet in history and rank just after Moses. There can be prophecies in Israel only when the majority of the Jews of the world live in Israel, which has not been the case since about 300 before the Christian era. At the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, the prophecies ended with the deaths of the last prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Jesus was not a prophet. It occurred about three hundred and fifty years after the end of the time of the prophets.

In addition, according to Jewish sources, the Messiah will have human parents and be physically equipped like all other people. He will not be a demigod and he will not have any supernatural powers. The Messiah on his father's side must come from the house of King David (Isaiah 11: 1, Jeremiah 23: 5, 33:17). The Christian claim that Jesus was born to a virgin did not have a father and therefore cannot have fulfilled the messianic requirement of being a paternal descendant of King David.

And last but not least, the Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full obedience to the Torah. The Torah says that all mitzvot are binding for all time and that whoever comes to change the Torah will immediately be recognized as a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13: 1-4). Throughout the New Testament, however, Jesus contradicts the Torah and claims that its commandments no longer apply (John 1:45 and 9:16; Apostles 3:22 and 7:37).

It is also important to point out that the biblical text can only be understood by studying the Hebrew original, which in many ways contradicts the Christian translation. For example, the Christian idea of ​​the virgin birth is derived from a verse in Isaiah 7:14

in which it says that an "Alma" will become pregnant. The word "Alma" never meant anything other than "young woman", which Christian theologians translated as "virgin" centuries later. The birth of Jesus is connected with the pagan idea of ​​the impregnation of people by gods.

Throughout history thousands of religious foundations started out from individuals who tried to convince people that they were the true prophets of God. Personal revelation, however, is an extremely weak foundation for a religion because one can never know whether it is actually true. Since others have not heard God speak to that person, they must trust His word. Even if the person relying on a revelation works miracles, there is no evidence that he is a true prophet. Miracles don't prove anything. Assuming they are real, they simply show that the person has certain powers. They have nothing to do with claiming to be a prophet.

Of all the religions in the world, only Judaism does not invoke "miracle claims" as the basis of its religion. Indeed, it says in the Bible

even that God here and there gives charlatans the power to perform "miracles" to test Jewish fidelity to the Torah (Deuteronomy 13: 4). Of the thousands of religions in the world, only Judaism bases its religion on a national revelation, that is, on the fact that God has spoken to the entire people. If God wants to establish a religion, it makes perfect sense that he speaks not to an individual but to everyone.

Maimonides says (Basics of the Torah, chap. 8): The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of his miracles. Where belief is based on having witnessed miracles, doubts still lurk, for it is still possible that the miracles were performed by magic or sorcery. All of the miracles Moses performed in the wilderness were done because they were necessary and not because they were intended to prove his position as a prophet.

So what was the basis of the Jewish faith? In the revelation on Mount Sinai, which we have seen with our own eyes and heard with our own ears and which we know not only through the testimony of others. As the Torah says: "Face to face the Eternal has spoken to you." And further: "The Eternal did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with ourselves, who are all alive here today" (Deuteronomy 5: 3). Judaism is not based on miracles, but on the personal testimony of every man, woman and child who stood on Mount Sinai three thousand three hundred years ago.

The world desperately needs messianic redemption. And precisely to the extent that we are aware of the problems of society, we also become aware of the extent of our longing for salvation. As the Talmud says, one of the first questions a Jew will be asked on Judgment Day will be, "Have you longed for the coming of the Messiah?" How can we hasten its arrival? The best way to do this is through generous love for all of humanity, observance of the Mitzvot of the Torah (to the best of our ability), and encouraging others to do the same.

Despite all the gloom, the world seems to be moving towards salvation. One of the obvious signs of this is that the Jewish people have returned to the Land of Israel and made it flourish again. In addition, an important movement has formed among young Jews who are returning to the tradition of the Torah. The Messiah can come any day and it all depends on what we do. God is ready when we are ready. Because as King David says, "Salvation will come today - if you listen to His voice."

Jewish general weekly newspaper, March 25, 2004

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