51.Who is the 'Word' of G-d?

     When the Jewish people returned from exile to Babylon, not all of them could speak Hebrew. Little by little more and more of them began to use Aramaic, although Hebrew itself remained the language of a substantial number. To assist those who could not understand the Hebrew, a series of translations and commentaries on the scriptures was made. These were called 'targums'. At first, it was even forbidden to write down these targums, lest they should come to have equal authority with the scriptures. These translations (and commentaries) would sometimes be read in the synagogues at the conclusion of the reading of the scripture, so that the congregation could fully understand what was being read. (See, for example, Nememiah 8:8: 'And they read in the book, in the Law of G-d, distinctly; and they gave the sense, so that they understood the reading'.) So, while these translations and notes were in no way  to be considered equal to scripture, they do give us hints as to what the interpreters believed then, and how they viewed certain passages.
     The two main targums which we have to this day are the Targum of Onkelos on the five books of Moses, and that of Jonathan ben Uzziel on the prophets, although fragments of other targums also remain.  In places in these targums the writers, in order to show reverence for G-d, substitute a word or phrase such as 'The Holy One', or 'The Name', for that word. In places, they also substitute 'The Word of G-d', or the 'Memra' ('Word')  for G-d.  For example, in Exodus 19:17, instead of 'Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet G-d', one can read in the targum, '. . . to meet the Word of G-d'. According to Alfred Edershem, the use of this word 'memra' occurs over 600 times in the targums in relaton to G-d. (see, 'The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah', Alfred Edersheim)
       Thus we have, in the targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel, 'And the Word of the L-rd caused to descend upon . . . Sodom and Gomorrah, brimstone and fire. . . ' (Gen.19:24), instead of the usual text, 'Then the (Divine Name) rained upon Sodom,' etc. In Genesis 1:27 we have, in the same targum, 'And the Word of (Divine Name) created man in his likeness. . . '  Genesis 15:6 reads in the targum of Onkelos,                                                                                                                          'Abraham believed in the Word of (Divine Name), and He counted it to him as righteousness'. In Genesis 22:8, Abraham replies to his son (in the Jersualem targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel ) 'The Word of the L-rd will provide me a lamb. .  . ' The same targum even says, in reference to the Ten Commandments, 'And the Word of the     L-rd spoke all these glorious words' (Exodus 20:1).
     Now we can see with more clarity just what it was that John was referring to when he began his gospel with the words, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with G-d, and the Word WAS G-d. Through him were all things made; without him nothing was made. . . '

52.  Who is  the 'Spirit' of G-d?

     The 'Spirit' of the L-rd is frequently mentioned in the scriptures. For example, in Numbers 11:25, 'Then the L-rd came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. . . '  The Spirit of G-d is said to be hovering over the waters at the beginning of the creation (Gen. 1:2) . In Numbers 24:2, the Spirit of G-d comes upon Balaam so that he can prophecy. The same thing occurs to Saul, in I Samuel 10:10; and so on.    In Isaiah 63:10 there is the statement, 'Yet they rebelled against Him and grieved His Holy Spirit'. And in the targums, too, there is this same expression, 'Holy Spirit'. For Gen. 6:3, 'My Spirit shall not strive with man forever. . . ', the targum of Johnathan ben Uzziel says, 'Have I not given my Holy Spirit in them. . . ' For the question, 'Who has directed the Spirit of the L-rd. . . ?' (Isaiah 40:13),  the same targum has, 'Who has directed the Holy Spirit?'
     So we see that there is a divine Spirit which may rest upon man, sent from the   L-rd, and yet which does not encompass Him in its entirety.

53.  Who is the 'Arm of the L-rd'?

     The 'Arm of the L-rd' is sometimes used simply as an expression of G-d's power and strength. In other places it indicates the Messiah. For example, in Isaiah 40:10,11, 'Behold, the L-rd will come as a mighty one, and His arm will rule for Him.  .  . He will feed His flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs. . . '  In Isaiah 63:8, G-d Himself declares that He became the Savior of His people. 'In all their distress He too was distressed' (verse 9) 'and the Angel of His Presence saved them. . .  Yet they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit (verse 10). . . Where is He who set His Holy Spirit among them (verse 11), who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses' right hand. . . (verse 12). In these verses all three of the expressions of G-d's person  are seen to have been at work.
     In Isaiah 53:1,2 the question is asked, 'Who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the L-rd been revealed? He grew up before Him like a tender  shoot,  and like  a  root out of dry  ground. . . ' The 'shoot', or the'branch', is a common expression for the name of the Messiah (see, for instance, Isaiah 11:1,2: 'A shoot will come up from the  stump of Jesse, from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the L-rd will rest upon him. . . '; also Zech. 3;8: 'I am going to bring My servant, the Branch.  . . ')   In Isaiah 52:10, it is promised that the L-rd will bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations (or gentiles), and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our G-d'.

54.  How can you say that you believe in one G-d, when you actually believe in three?

     We believe in the same G-d Who is presented in Torah, just as you do. Here He is called, variously, 'El' and 'Elohim' . 'El' is the singular form for 'G-d', and 'Elohim' is the plural form. That 'elohim' really is such a plural form is seen by its use in such passages as Judges 10:13. Joshua 23:16, Exodus 18:11, and even in the Ten Commandments, 'Thou shalt have no other gods ('elohim') before Me' ( Ex. 20:3).  When used in reference to the G-d of Israel, though,  'Elohim' is always translated in the singular. Perhaps there is a form of 'hint' intended here?
     Sometimes 'El' and 'Elohim' are even used in the same sentence; for instance, in Exodus 20:5, 'For I am (Divine Name) your G-ds ('Elohim'), a jealous G-d ('El'). . . And in Joshua 22:22, the phrase is twice repeated, 'G-d, G-ds, (Divine Name), G-d, G-ds, (Divine Name), He knoweth, and all Israel shall know. . . ' Again, maybe these and other similar passages contain a hint of a deeper, hidden truth?
     In Genesis, there is the phrase, 'Let Us make man in Our image'. Some people think that this means G-d is speaking to the angels. But we are not made in the image of angels. And, in Genesis 3:22, after man's disobedience, it says, 'Behold, the man is become as one of Us'. This is not an expression that G-d would have used if he were speaking merely to an angel, because angels are not equal with G-d, they are less, only created beings. G-d would not  speak to an angel as an equal.
     In Eccl. 12:1, Solomon, who was wiser than other men, said, 'Remember now your Creators (plural) in the days of your youth'. And in Psalm 149:2, it says, 'Let Israel now rejoice in his Makers'. This again is taken to suggest that there is yet a further, hidden meaning here.
     In the Shema, it says, 'Hear O Israel, (Divine Name) our G-ds (Divine Name) is one' (Deut. 6:4). The word for 'one' here is 'echad'. Echad is used a number of places in the scripture to indicate a 'unity', rather than a 'singleness'. For example, In Genesis 1:5, evening and morning together make up 'yom echad',  or one day.  In Genesis 2:24 a man and wife shall cleave together and be one (echad) flesh. In Numbers 13:23 there is one  (echad) cluster of grapes.   There is   another   word   in  Hebrew   for one,   'yaheed', which is an indivisible unity, a pure, mathematical 'one', or 'an only one',  but it is not used in the Shema.  Likewise the word 'rak' might have been used, or the word 'bilti'. An example of the use of 'bilti' is found in Exodus 22:20, 'He who sacrifices to any gods save only (bilti) Adonai shall be utterly destroyed.'
     But these words were not used. They are the ones one would have expected to find had the intention of the writer been to emphasize that there was only one, to the exclusion of all others, of what was being mentioned. Since one of these words, which clearly expresses that meaning, was not used, one is forced to conclude that Moses was not expressing that concept here.   (Maimonides in his second statement of faith substitutes here the word 'yaheed'for 'echad', perhaps because he was aware of this very difficulty.)


55.  But there is no place in Judaism where G-d assumes a human form!

     In Isaiah 6 the prophet says 'In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw my L-rd seated upon a high and lofty throne; and the skirts of His robe filled the Temple'. Sure sounds like he saw something that resembled a human form.  Seated on  a throne? Skirts of His robe?
     And at Sinai the people all hear the voice of G-d. This is on the same level as his assuming a human form, in order to be able to better communicate with us. (Some try to say that it is not considered anthropomorphic  for HaShem to have spoken with a voice, because a 'voice'--that is, sound waves--only emanate from a Being, and are not a real representation of Him. But light (or photons) are also only 'emanations', and thus in that case a 'sight' of HaShem would not be anthropomorphic, either.) Certainly, G-d CAN assume such a form, if He wishes. Surely no one would want to claim that this would be beyond His power?


56.  Son of G-d' doesn't has no special meaning. A lot of people are called sons of G-d in the scripture. We're ALL sons of G-d.

     Yes, but in Psalm 2 there seems to be a mention of a special 'son of G-d'. Here, the nations of the world plot against G-d and his 'anointed' (the word in Hebrew here is 'moshiach'). Then the Psalm goes on to show how G-d laughs at the nations which would try and stop His plans. He says, (verse 6) 'But I (G-d) have installed My king on Zion, My holy mountain'.  Let me tell of the decree: the L-rd said to me, 'You are My son, I have fathered you this day. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your domain, your estate, the limits of the earth'.
      This sure sounds like it is, at least, messianic. And that there is a particular individual here in mind--'My king', etc. And who is it who will inherit the nations of the earth, and who will rule the limits of the earth? Can this be a suggested hint of something, of a further meaning in the text?
     In the Talmud (Suk. 52a), there is the comment, "The Holy One, Blessed be He, will say to Messiah ben David. . . 'Ask of me anything, and I will give it to you, for it is written, 'The Lord said to me, 'You are my son, this day I have begotten you, ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance.' And when he will see that Messiah ben Joseph is slain, he will say before him, 'Master of the World! I ask nothing of you except life!'. G-d will say to him, 'Even before you said 'life', your father David prophesied about you, as it is written, 'He asked life of you ,and you gave it to him'. (Ps. 21). (Edersheim suspects that the term 'Messiah ben Joseph' was a later emendation, and that the original reads 'Messiah ben David'.)
     Similarly, in Proverbs 30:4: 'Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the extremities of the earth? What is His name, or His son's name, if you know it?'  Another  hint?


57.  Does the name 'Yeshua' appear in the Tenakh?

      In Matthew 1:21, Joseph  is told to call his wife's, Miryam's,  newborn son'Yeshua', because, says the angel, he will save his people from their sins ('Yeshua' means 'Salvation').   This is in keeping with the practice in the scriptures of giving names which had specific meanings.
        For example, Noah gives the name Lamech gives the name 'Comfort' ('Noah') to his son (Gen. 5:9), because he would 'comfort' them in their work. Eber names his son 'Division' ('Peleg') because during his life the earth was divided (Gen. 10:25).   And so on.
     Thus, practically whenever you find the word 'salvation' in the Tenakh, it is virtually identical with the name 'Yeshua'.  Psalms 9:14 might therefore just as easily read, 'I will rejoice in Thy Yeshua (salvation)'. Psalm 91:16 might read, 'With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My Yeshua (salvation)'.
     In Isaiah 62:11, you can read,' Say to the daughter of Zion, behold, your Yeshua comes; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him'.
     In Habbakkuk 3:13, there is the statement, 'You went forth for  the Yesha (a form of Yeshua) of  Your people;  for Yesha (again a form of Yeshua) your Messiah'.
     And thus, in Luke 2:29-30, it is only natural that the old tzaddik Shimon  should say, with the infant Yeshua in his arms, 'Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your Yeshua'.  As it says in Isaiah 52:10, 'The L-rd will lay bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations (gentiles), and all the ends of the earth will see the Yeshuat (a form of Yeshua) of our G-d'.

58.  Isn't the New Testament anti-semitic? Doesn't Yeshua condemn the Jews and call them 'sons of the devil'?

     While I don't agree with all of his conclusions, Rabbi Harvey Falk, in his book 'Jesus the Pharisee', makes some interesting points about this, especially in regard to Matthew 23, the 'woe to the Pharisees' chapter.
     The Pharisees (notes Falk) were divided into two main camps, the Bet Shammai, and Bet Hillel. Beth Shammai opposed accepting converts into Judaism. Rabbi Eliezer (see Sanhedrin 105a) held that no gentile, no matter how righteous, could have a place in the world to come. (See also Shabbat 31a). Aquila, a famous convert to Judaism, was almost rejected because of R. Eliezer's attitude (see  Midrash Genesis Rabbah 70:5).  Bet Hillel, on the other hand, welcomed converts.
      'Woe to you Pharisees (ie, Bet Shammai). You shut up heaven in men's faces. . . nor will you let those enter who are trying to do so.' This now appears in a different light, when placed into context.
      Dosa ben Harkinas, a famous sage of the period, once called his brother a 'first-born of Satan' because he sided with Bet Shammai in a decision. (see Yevamot 16a). It was also said (Berakhot 11a and Berakhot 1:4, Yerushalmi) that 'he who observes the teachings of Bet Shammai deserves death'. When Rabbi Tarfon acted in accord with Bet Shammai in one case, and then escaped being killed by robbers,  the Sages told him (Mishnah, Berakhot 10b) that he would have deserved to have been  killed. These remarks are not considered to be anti-semitic when placed in their proper context.
          Bet Shammai was also implicated in the murder of a Zechariah ben Berechia in the Temple (see Josephus, Wars, 4:335), possibly as instigators of the Zealots, who committed the murder.  Thus, the condemnation of these Pharisees (in this case perhaps only from Bet Shammai) for the murder(s) which their fathers did, including the blood of Zechariah ben Berechia, may fit into place.

      Bet Shammai is also seen as grouping together to confront Hillel (Betsah 20a) and his followers (Betsah 20b) in the Temple, the way Yeshua was later confronted.  Falk notes that there is no record of Bet Hillel acting in this way.
     Ergo, the events of Matthew 23 fit right into the Jewish context of the Second Temple period, and have to be wrenched away from it in order to arrive at some sort of anti-semitic conclusion.

     It should also be noted that the Talmud itself complains of hypocrites among the  'plague of Pharisees'.  'What is a plague of a Pharisee?  He teaches legal tricks. . . ' (Sotah 22).  'A foolish saint, a subtle knave, a woman Pharisee, and the plague of Pharisees bring ruin on the world'.(Mishnah Sotah 3,4)  'What is the plague of Pharisees? Scholars acting as lawyers who give counsel by which, apparently in strict form of law, the law may be circumvented.' (Sotah 19a, Yerushalmi)

59.  What about calling Jews 'sons of the devil'?

     When Yeshua calls some of the leaders 'sons of the devil' (John 8), it is a) not a criticism of ALL Jews--in fact, the inference is clear that he is simply calling them 'unJewish', the way that we might call someone 'unAmerican'. To call someone 'unJewish', i.e., NOT a son of Abraham, but rather a son of the devil, is NOT a criticism of Jewishness. And b) neither was it unique: Dosa ben Harkinas referred to his own brother as a'first-born of Satan' because he sided with Bet Shammai in a dispute with Bet Hillel (Yevamot 16a). John the Baptist refers to his opponents as a 'brood of vipers' (Matt. 3:7). This may be equivalent in Hebrew to  'sons of the Snake' ( ie, the devil); a similar expression, 'creatures of the Snake', occurs in the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns  IQH3:17. And in Isaiah 1:4, Israel is called the 'seed of evildoers, sons who corrupt'. Therefore, such expressions fit neatly into the milieu of the times.


60.  Don't the gospels try to pin all the blame for the death or Yeshua on the Jews?

     'They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles, to be mocked and flogged and crucified.' (Matt. 20:17)
      (Looks like Gentiles do the crucifying here)

      'They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him.'
(Mark 10:33-34).
      (Looks like the Gentiles are at work again)

     'He will be handed over to the gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.'  (Luke 18:32)
      (Gentiles again)

Comments Continued. . .