Monday 2 May 2011

A Jewish Theocracy

According to Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein, current Jewish teaching precludes Jesus as the Messiah because it is unanimously believed that the Messiah will bring peace:
"Jesus is not seen as the messiah. In the Jewish view, the messiah is a human being who will usher in an era of peace. We can tell the messiah by looking at the world and seeing if it is at peace. From the Jewish view, this clearly did not happen when Jesus was on Earth or anytime after his death." 25.
Hyam Maccoby believed Jesus to be a rebel, but misrepresented by the gospel accounts out of fear of reprisals by Rome:
"…Jesus was executed as a rebel, against Rome, not as a blasphemer against the Jewish religion, and that the Gospel's misrepresentations on this point are politically motivated--I regard as strongly established…" 26.
Hyam Maccoby is considered a classical scholar and Rabbi of Reform Judaism, and has in recent years been director of the library at the Leo Baeck College of Judaistics in London. His books appear to present accepted ideas regarding Christ, Christianity and the New Testament and the Jewish thought. To clarify Jewish views and dispel Christian misconceptions of the Messiah, Maccoby redefined Jesus' mission:
"…The phrase 'the kingdom of God'…meant the reign of God (not His heavenly territory) and referred to a projected return to a Jewish system of theocracy…" 27.
"….He [Jesus] had campaigned among 'the lost sheep of Israel', calling them to repentance, because he felt that the coming of God's Kingdom was being held back by Israel's sin's. Pharisee writings often stress that God's promises to Israel are not automatically fulfilled; they depend on Israel's worthiness and co-operation ... " 28.
"…Jesus' mission as a prophet was exclusively directed towards the Jews, not towards the Gentiles. The idea that Jesus rejected the Jews and transferred the Old Testament 'promises' to the Gentiles was a later invention of the Gentile-Christian Church…" 29.
"… Some believed that the Messiah would inaugurate a new era for the whole world; that the nations of the world would acknowledge the One God and his Temple in Jerusalem; that the Jews would be revered as the chosen priests of the One God; and that an era of world peace would begin when, in the words of Isaiah's wonderful internationalist vision, the swords would be beaten into plowshares and the wolf would lie down with lamb. Some, however, did not believe that the coming of the Messiah would necessarily bring about an era of international peace. There might be many Messiahs - many more sorrows and comfortings, defeats and victories - for the Jewish people before that happened. After all, there had been Messiahs before and none had brought everlasting peace. The vision of Isaiah was acknowledged by every Pharisee, as the word of God but it was not necessarily attached to the expectation of the coming Messiah who would defeat the Romans." 30.
In The Traditions of the Jews, from the Talmud (treatises Baba Bathra folio 74b, Pesachim folio 32, Bekhoroth folio 57 and Massektoth Ta'anith folio 31), J.P Stehaln presents a glorious scenario of the Messianic era - without Jesus Christ as the Messiah:
"… when the Messianic era arrives. After the return of the Jews from all nations and parts of the world… the Messiah, we are told in the Talmud, will entertain them at a gorgeous banquet, where they will be seated at tables and regaled with wine from Adam's wine-cellar. The first course is to consist of a roasted ox named Behemoth, so immense that every day it eats up the grass upon a thousand hills; the second of a monstrous fish Leviathan; the third of a female Leviathan boiled and pickled; the fourth of a gigantic roast fowl known as Barjuchne, of which the egg alone was so enormous that when it fell out of the nest it crushed three hundred tall cedars and the white overflowed threescore villages. This course is to be followed up by "the most splendid and pompous Dessert," that can be procured, including fruit from the Tree of Life and "the Pomegranates of Eden which are preserved for the Just."
"At the end of the banquet "God will entertain the company at a ball"; He Himself will sit in the midst of them, and everyone will point Him out with his finger, saying: "Behold, this is our God: we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." 31.

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