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Just to clarify Dr Brown, I haven’t asked you to respond to every article and critique of your work. I have only asked that you honor your commitment (on more than one occasion)since January 2009 to respond to Contra Brown.
I don’t see it as hypocritical. However, If had given you my word and commitment to have a public debate and reneged on that and THEN I call on you to honor your commitment THAT would be hypocritical.
At the end of the day it’s up to you to decide how to prioritize your writing commitments. But when I hear you bring up that most rabbis won’t debate you, I will remind the public that for all those interested in a response to your writings and teachings, they can always to read what has been written in response to you.
Well said Eli. At the end of the day, the goal isn’t to win a debate, but for people to make the best informed spiritual decision they could possibly make.
I did a quick internet search and found that Rabbi Babbi Eli Cohen is a representative from Jews for Judiasm. I also uncovered an exchange with Rabbi Blumenthal on this website on Nov 3. 2011. That online written exchange produced 885 comments. A number of those were between Dr. Brown and Rabbi Blumenthal. And just to be clear, Rabbi Blumenthal is the author of Contra Brown. I think it something positive that there is a willingness to make comments by someone like Rabbi Eli Cohen. It is also apparent that there is a bit of a history between Dr. Brown and Jews for Judiasm. It would be foolish to think that strong emotions are not part of that history. I think one of the challenges of an in person debate is that is almost impossible to have a dispassionate debate on these issue. But I don’t think the search for truth should be limited to just debating or writing. For my own part, I would welcome an in person debate between Dr. Brown and someone from Jews for Judiasm. There are several good reasons why in person debates are helpful.
1. Very few people are going to read all of the written exchanges between each side.
2. If someone writes an position, and then there is a response such as Contra Brown, then each side has set forth their position. The point being that there is a substantial amount of material to consider which is already in existence.
3. Live debates have a way of cutting through weak positions. Something in writing may sound impressive by itself, but when challenged in person it more quickly focuses important issues.
Doug, thanks for your insightful comments. Much appreciated, and yes, there’s a lot people can sort through already in writing. And hey, I should get some credit for writing 1,500 pages of material to start! 🙂
As for Jews for Judaism, I don’t have a major history with them, other than that on a number of occasions in different locations, their rabbis have been asked to debate and they have always declined. So, I don’t have any strong emotions in the matter, other than my deep love for them and my ardent desire to see them in right relationship with the God of Israel through Yeshua.
Rabbi Eli, I’ll post here my responses to your comments on FB since you also posted them on my FB page:
“I was not just speaking about you during my broadcast, but I’m glad you did listen. Some of your other colleagues have done the same, and it is certainly hypocritical. And on my end, I’ve not gone back on any commitment since I never gave a guaranteed time frame in which time I would respond, only when I hoped I would be able to. I said I would respond in writing to one or two of the major attempts at rebuttal, and I plan to (again, one of the responses has been 2/3 done for well over a year). But I will say it again: When all counter-missionary rabbis have refused to debate me publicly for decades for almost 20 years, then one rabbi challenges me to a written debate while also refusing to debate me publicly, you will have a very hard time evading the hypocrisy charge when you claim I’m somehow not willing to engage in a public written dialogue — especially when you and your organization refuse to publicly debate. Why? What do you have to hide? Am I that good of a debater? That is hardly the case! And yes, by all means, point people to written responses to my writings. Why wouldn’t you? On my end, if I really thought the responses to my writings were such a threat, I would have immediately rebutted them within days of their publication. I wish you God’s grace in the Messiah!”
I will respond here aswell.
My contention is not so much about your lack of response to Contra Brown. I usually bring up Contra Brown every time I hear you repeat how rabbis have refused to debate you. The message people take away when hearing that from you is that the rabbis are somewhat evasive and are perhaps afraid to put all the issues on the table.
I keep bringing up Contra Brown as a reminder to you and anyone who is interested in the truth. People have taken the time to read through your 1500 pages and while non of your works are the slightest bit threatening to Judaism, people have taken the trouble to respond in writing.
I think for the sake of honesty, the next time you wish to bring up the issue of debates with rabbis, be honest and tell your audience that there have been comprehensive responses to your arguments. This way people won’t walk away thinking that the rabbis have something to be afraid of by putting the issues on the table.
Furthermore if you are interested in responding and you just don’t have the time – why don’t you take the arguments from rabbi blumenthals writings to respond to on your radio show instead of the arguments you have already responded to in your book?
One last point, was Kosher Jesus such a threat that you had to put out the real kosher Jesus so fast?
If you note down for 2 weeks a time sheet of everything you do, you will quickly realise where it is being “wasted”, and where it can be better allocated. wouldn’t it be lovely to find another 2 hours in the day?
What about this – what about writing a book in collaboration with a good representative of judaism and have this back and forth discussion on various issues in writing. That way everything is LAID out on paper, for all to see – what better way of helping people decide. in your other books you consider disagreeing view points, but why not have good representatives say it with their own words? I”m sure we’d all like to see that, it would the coup de matire of your written works. of course, you’d have to have very specific rules and set it out very well, with very clear topic sentences and make sure it is kept relatively concise.
you needn’t recreate the wheel – you could let people comment on your 5 volumes and you could respond in turn, one response at a time. u coudl work out some paramters with your writing collaboraters. perhaps that would be better than responding to comments on comments ad naseam in FB, blogs etc.
just some ideas.
Thanks for posting here again. My responses, in brief.
1)You are really not the best one to continue to challenge me on this issue, because you and your organization refuse to debate the issues publicly. That’s why I will continue to expose the hypocrisy of this.
2) With all respect to my friend Rabbi Yisroel, Contra Brown is not a big deal to 99.99% of the people who read my material, although I know you think very highly of it. If it had been a big issue, God would have laid it on my heart to respond earlier. For my part, I’m more than delighted for people to read my books and Rabbi Yisroel’s articles and come to their own conclusions before God. And I do hope that, in the not too distant future, the Lord will allow me to finish my rebuttal, which has been about 2/3 complete for well over a year and could be completed in a few days of focused writing and annotating.
3) With respect to Rabbi Shmuley, I didn’t see his Kosher Jesus book as a threat in any way. Rather, I saw it as providing a platform for discussion, since so many in the Jewish community were talking about it. I thought that was obvious.
4) As for my radio show, Rabbi Yisroel is welcome to join me on the air at any time to discuss what he wrote, and my invitation to you and any of your colleagues remains the same: Join me on the air to have a civil debate of our differences! I gave you that invitation when you visited me in NC, and that invitation remains from a distance.
I wish you God’s grace in Yeshua our Messiah!
While I am not Jewish, I am a believer in Yeshua as the Messiah. One point which I think you will agree with is that Dr. Brown’s opposition to antisemitism is an important message. It is obvious there a great difference of positions. So while you may be an enemy of the Gospel, you are not an enemy of Dr. Brown. Nor should any Christian engage in inappropriate behavior towards you or any other Jewish person. That does not mean, however, that in the search for truth if someone says something which is not supported by the evidence it will get a free pass. That goes for you, Dr. Brown, or anyone else. That said, here is my critique of your comments in this forum:
1. I find it disingenuous for you to state none of Dr. Brown’s works “are the slightest bit threatening to Judaism.” If no one took notice to Dr. Brown’s work, then why was there a publication entitled, “Contra Brown” ?
2. If find it disingenuous for you to suggest that Dr. Brown tell his audience there has been a comprehensive responses to his arguments. If this is the case then whenever you speak to an audience you should advocate that your listeners review the comprehensive arguments made by Dr. Brown that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah.
3. Before posting I reviewed Rabbi Blumenthal’s, “The Elephant and the suit”. In it, the analogy of responding to Dr. Brown is compared to a lawyer making a case. If your only point was to draw attention to the writings of Rabbi Blumenthal, then you have achieved your success. Using your analogy of a court case, however, you are not a good advocate. You see, in a real court attorneys almost always want to have oral argument. In certain situations waiving oral argument might even be considered legal malpractice. Still, you are free to advocate your position in any manner you deem appropriate. But I also will say that when given the opportunity to advocate your position by engaging in a spoken debate, and then refusing, it simply doesn’t look good. It is not unreasonable to speculate that the refusal to debate is very odd indeed.
Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts, Doug!
My pleasure Dr. Brown. I think your ministry is very important. At the same time I hope that Rabbi Eli understand he would be treated with respect. One of the things I appreciate about you is the fact you treat your guests and debating opponents fairly.
When two can not agree upon something, sometimes I like to wonder if they are both willing to pray together before God and ask for his judgment, or is the matter they are about, simply not that important?
Is it wrong to ask for the kind of judgment where somebody lives and somebody dies? Sometimes I wonder about that. Is that going too far? Is it something we should never do?
Thanks for your comments Doug.
1. The Jewish community never went looking for a debate. It’s Dr Brown and almost 2000 years of Christian evangelists who relentlessly attempt to convert Jews away from Judaism.
When I say “non of your works are the slightest bit threatening to Judaism” what I mean is that Judaism completely wtihstands Dr Brown’s assault on it. The reason why “contra Brown” and similar articles were written is due to the non-stop proselytizing of Dr Brown and others. Judaism doesn’t feel the need to knock Christianity in order to bolster its own credibility. Whereas Christianity feels the need to knock Judaism in order to try and bolster its credibility. If there were no crusades to convert Jews, there would be no counter missionaries.
2. I wrote “I think for the sake of honesty, the next time you wish to bring up the issue of debates with rabbis, be honest and tell your audience that there have been comprehensive responses to your arguments” I suggested that when DR BROWN RAISES THE ISSUE about debates with rabbis and their refusal to engage in an oral debate that he be HONEST with his audience by ADDING that although the rabbis don’t wish to engage in an oral debate nevertheless THEY ARE NOT HIDING FROM THE IISUES, in fact they have written comprehensive responses to his 1500 pages. How is that disingenuous?
3. People may speculate as they wish about why rabbis prefer not to engage in an oral debate. However, to conclude that we are afraid to put all the issues on the table is completely false considering that so much has be written from Judaism’s side taking apart any and every argument Christianity has thrown at Judaism for 2000 year.
4. When I agree with a Christian missionary to take one section of Dr Brown’s book and respond to it point by point, the Christian missionary initially agreed. Once I took the time to demonstrate point by point how none of Dr Brown’s arguments held up under scrutiny the missionary’s response what that he’d pray for me.
Judaism has never been one to shy away from providing cogent answers to attacks by others. The Jewish answers to Christianity are widely available for any interested seeker. To harp on the fact that we aren’t looking to engage in an oral debate insinuating that WE ARE THE ONES shying away from putting all the issues on the table is in my opinion disingenuous.
5. I have watched every debate Dr Brown has had on this topic (that is available). Every single time I watch another debate, it becomes clearer and clearer why we prefer written debates that allows for people to read through the arguments and process them at their own pace without any pressure to decided “who won the debate” as soon as the debate is over. Yes, a written debate takes longer, but it encourages people to study these things for themselves and draw their own conclusion based on the texts themselves rather than being persuaded by a charisma of a speaker.
I was going to let Dr Brown have the last word as it is his blog, however, you pulled me back in by addressing your points to me.
I have no problem with Dr Brown challenging me or anyone else in writing or orally. I just ask that once Dr Brown challenges someone to respond to an argument and they do so whether orally or in writing, please make sure that person is no longer portrayed as someone refusing to debate the issues.
With blessings and love
a side issue, but one i think must be addressed:
i feel that this type of attitude (which i find is more or less common in the orthodox community) to be erroneous and extremely distressing: “If there were no crusades to convert Jews, there would be no counter missionaries.” the live and let die philosophy. this should not be the case
my friends, if one has water and sees another created in the very image of God drinking urine, is he not under a divine mandate to lead him to a fresh spring? if one has the knowledge of the true path, is he not compelled to point out to his own brother: “nay, why do you worship images of wood, which are made by your own hands?” or if someone should worship a man (in violation of deuteronmy), who claims to be God (or son of God – whatever – who “knows” God is yet at the same time doesn’t know) who travesties the oral and written codes: are those who know better not under a mandate to point the true way? if the attitude is one of indifference then this is an erroneous attitude to have. for part of israel’s mission surely is to make the living god known to the entire world. isn’t it?
There’s teaching truth/ spreading light and then there’s picking fights.
The prophets speak of a time when Gentiles will come to the Jew to be taught (Zech 8:23). I respond constantly to messages from both Jews and Gentiles. I would be doing that even if there were no missionaries in the world. The responding to the attacks from Christianity is in RESPONSE to the evangelical crusade to convert Jews. When we are challenged to provide good reasons for not embracing Christian beliefs, we are forced to expose the tactics of the missionaries aswell as the errors of their teachings targeted at Jews.
I hope this clarifies things.
I was surprised to see another post here, since you were leaving me with the last word on my FB page, but it’s important I correct your post.
1) From the first weeks that I was a believer, rabbis wanted to meet with me and challenge my beliefs, and I met with everyone I could for years, spending hours talking with them. And they challenged me to debate the issues, but the more I learned, the less they challenged. Then, when I offered to learn with them just to understand Judaism even better, they refused – including Chabad rabbis. And you engage in proselytism as well. We both believe we’re right and we do this before God, but again, you’re the wrong one to bring up the issue of proselytizing.
2) In trying to do justice to some of the articles responding to my books, I would need 70-100 pages to deal with a 50 page article. Otherwise, many issues do not get resolved. So, a series of articles is hardly a “comprehensive” response to 1,500 pages of writing and a few thousand endnotes.
3) I flatly differ with you here, and Jews for Judaism is a great example of this, buying ad space on YouTube so that when my name is searched for, one of their videos comes up, but when I say, “OK. Let’s talk about that video,” they won’t do it. What do you have to fear?
4) Perhaps he initially agreed on one point then studied more and looked at the issues more and became convinced that you were not open to see the truth and hence would pray for you? What I find even worse is when I demonstrate a point to a counter-missionary that cannot possibly be denied by Hebrew grammar, and they refuse to admit the point. That concerns me all the more.
5) I proposed to other rabbis a very different debate setting than the ones I’ve had with Rabbi Shmuley and others, one that allowed for more back and forth, more challenging of positions, more forcing the issues. And still there was no willingness to do that. Again, you are the wrong one to push this issue — and it hurts me to say this because of my love for you — because your organization has a no debate policy.
Finally, I did not challenge Rabbi Yisroel to a public debate because: 1) He made clear to me from the start that he did not feel that he did well in such settings; and 2) We engaged in years of private dialogue by phone and email, sharing our views in that setting. When he began to publish articles about my writings (which I’m glad he did), he was not responding to a challenge I gave him to debate me, and again, the reason I agreed to rebut his articles was because of our friendship and my respect for him. (For the record, I would still gladly dialogue with him privately.)
In closing this post, let me reiterate that you are free to make any challenge you want, but it rings all the more hollow with each post and with the Jews for Judaism non-debate approach, one that is all the more hypocritical with the recent attempts to draw attention to their work based on my name. The good thing is that every day, around the world, Jewish men and women are coming to faith in Yeshua (from the most secular to the most religious), and there’s nothing any counter-missionary organization can do to stop what will ultimately be a glorious flood tide of Jewish faith in Yeshua our Messiah. How I pray you will be among those who believe!
I was hesitant to respond further because I think both you and Dr. Brown have set forth your positions. Nonetheless, I have few additional thoughts. I agree there have been many atrocious things done in the name of Christianity to the Jewish people. But I observe that you are associated with Jews for Judaism. This name sounds like a direct response to Jews for Jesus, not the crusades. The context of this discussion is really another Jew(Dr. Brown) trying to preach the message of Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah.
Let me end by simply saying I would welcome a debate if one could be arranged.
P.S. I mean a spoken debate.
Christians who speak in tongues have proof that Jesus is the Messiah because they received what he said he would send, the holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. That promise was unto those that believe unto many generations.
Where is the proof that Jesus isn’t the Messiah?
There isn’t any.
I once talked to a man that called my tongue jibberish. Whatever it was to him, he could not speak it though I could. I could speak the tongue (language of men or of angels) that God gave me without thinking about what to say. I can speak it as God gives me what to say and he gives me what to say as I speak it, just like Jesus said, “rivers of living water”.
I don’t even have to think about what to say. I just say whatever God gives me to say (as I speak it) and it comes out a distinct sound. Everyone’s tongue has a distinct sound just as the many languages of men today each have their unique sound.
I’ve even spoken in kinds of tongues before simply because I believed and God honored my faith. I think it’s what he wanted me to do at the time, to be a witness unto him, and he put the desire in me to say, “Let’s do kinds of tongues”., during a practice session, and the leader of the group told me to speak in tongues which I did and as I did it came out in kinds of tongues. I spoke in one kind, stopped, started again in another kind, stopped, and started in another kind. The last one was my usual tongue.
One who was overseeing the practice session of the small groups walked by and places a piece of paper on my group leader’s table.
After the session was over I asked, “What was that piece of paper?” I didn’t know if it was any of my business or not, but just asked anyway.
She showed it to me. It said, “Kinds of Tongues.”
I have proof Jesus is who he said he is and that he sent what he said he sent.
If people want to dispute Jesus’ claims, and run around naked on the internet, they should not be surprised if someone says, “They have no clothes.”
Luke 24:49 KJV. Endued means to put on, or provide with, hence to be clothed with.
I won’t bog you down with responding to all your points requiring you to come back and respond etc. I think I’ve clarified my position in the previous posts.
I will just post here the dialogue I had with that missionary and I’ll let you and other draw your own conclusions.
I wrote :
“For the sake of brevity I have chosen a few key points of 1.2.1. in … book and have written up a few questions/ observations.”
The missionary responded:
“Sounds good to me! …… I’m happy to pursue this.”
I sat and wrote the following:
If Jesus is the Messiah, why isn’t there peace on earth?
Answer: He WILL bring peace, but according to the Bible he first had a few tasks to deal with.
1. The Hebrew Scriptures give us a much wider description of the
Messiah and the Messianic age.
2. According to Malachi he would bring purification and purging BEFORE
he brought peace.
3. One thing Messiah needed to do was visit the SECOND Temple and grant
peace between G-d and man before 70 CE based on Haggai 2:6-9 and Malachi 3
4. Final atonement for Israel’s sins had to be made before the second
temple was destroyed in 70 CE and everlasting righteousness ushered in.
5. Messiah is to be a priestly king. As a priest he must suffer and die
for the sins of the world and as a king he will rule.
My questions / Observations.
1. What criterion makes any given Biblical passage a Messianic passage?
2. Where in the Bible does it state that the sequence of events will be
in this particular order (purification and purging first)? Ezekiel 36:24-25 & Ezekiel 11:17-20 has the sequence in the reverse!! Malachi 3:3-4 did not happen in the time of Yeshua unless you know something that I don’t about the Levite’s at the end of the second temple period
3. Haggai 2:6 seems to be a direct response to Haggai 1:14 – 2:4 “They
came and began work on the house of the L-rd Almighty, their G-d, 15 on the twenty fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius.”
Then in Chapter 2 just under a month later G-d comes to encourage them in their work on the house of the L-rd.
Does verse 6 mention anything about Kevod Hashem? It speaks of Kevod Habayis. It also specifically mentions gold and silver in that passage for some reason. See Psalm 49:17, Esther 1:4 & Esther 5:11 where the word Kevod refers to physical and material possessions, not spiritual. Also, where in Scripture is the term “peace” spoken about in connection with the Messiah described as being peace between G-d and man
4. “Seventy sevens are decreed for your people and your holy city to
finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the holy of holies.” An objective and literal understanding of these phrases “finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness” and a quick check with reality tells you that this has not yet taken place.
5. The sequence in the passage in Zechariah 6 is of the branch building
the temple of the L-rd and ruling on his throne before the passage goes on to mention anything else.
For these reasons I find … answers in 1.2.1 to be lacking in substance and provide no compelling reason to accept Christianity and reject Judaism.
With many blessings and warm wishes,”
The response I received from that missionary was :
“I appreciate you writing in brief, and I will continue to pray for God to open your heart and mind to His truth as you study His Word.”
With blessings to you Dr Brown!
Rabbi Eli Cohen,
I don’t know how Dr. Brown would respond as a premillenialist, but I would simply say that the answer to your question goes back to the book of Genesis. Although there was peace in the garden of Eden, and man walked with God, the fall into sin broke that peace, and in the very next chapter you have the first murder, and after this you have the total collapse into the antediluvian immorality spoken of in Genesis 6.
The point is that the book of Genesis makes it clear that the lack of peace in the world is due to sin. Thus, if we are going to have peace on earth, the sin problem is going to have to be dealt with. That is why Christ had to come as the suffering servant before he could come back to rule and reign.
This also explains why he is coming back a second time, since the work he is doing now through his Holy Spirit is in applying the work of Christ to us. As sin is gradually removed from the people in the world, it will bring about peace.
However, the way in which the order is established is by pointing out that sin must be dealt with before we have peace. I would say that, as the gospel goes forth to the nations, and souls are converted, and the Holy Spirit works to gradually take the sin away from their hearts, you will see peace come.
Again, I don’t know how Dr. Brown as a premillenialist would answer that question, but that is how postmillenialists would answer that question.
An objective and literal understanding of these phrases “finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness” and a quick check with reality tells you that this has not yet taken place.
That is grossly simplistic. Take this passage from the book of Daniel:
Daniel 5:26-28 “This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENE ‘– God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. 27 “‘TEKEL ‘– you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. 28 “‘PERES ‘– your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”
If I were King Belshazzar, I would simply have replied:
An objective and literal understanding of these phrases “has…put an end to it, have been weighed on the scales and found deficient, your kingdom has been divided, has been…given over to the Medes and Persians” and a quick check with reality tells you that this has not yet taken place.
In a sense it had, and in a sense it had not. In the same way, when Christ puts an end to transgression, the handwriting is on the wall [pun fully intended]. The final death warrant for sin and death has been issued because of the death of Christ.
Purification and purging of our sins by the blood of Christ always comes first before peace with God. Until we receive our free justification by faith in Christ through the grace of God, we as Christians can never have peace because of sin.
If we would fall back into sin we would not have peace again.
The first temple was on this earth, a building that Solomon built. Now there is a temple which we are, an assembly of members of the body of Christ who spiritually are seated with Christ, in the heavenly realm.
The Lord Jesus Christ brings in everlasting righteousness by the power of the gospel. It is a work in process here on this earth, though the work was finished by him on the cross.
Jesus is a priestly king, making intercession for the sins of others, interceeding for the woman caught in adultry, healing, raising the dead, preaching righteousness, calling men to repentance, etc. He’s still doing like things today on this earth. He changes not. His kingdom is one of everlasting righteousness. Israel prophesied of him in part and saw his works which he does in part.
I was thinking of the word “Judaism” the other day. I remember hearing once that “Judah” means “praise”.
Our praise to God leads us to an understanding of God and also to Christ our redeemer.
Hello again Rabbi Cohen,
You use the word “attacks” in your posts above and I’m sorry you were ever made to feel that way. I would rather be, “engaged in dialog” when referring to sincere interaction between Orthodox Jews and Christians. Attacks leaves a negative connotation concerning the interaction of and genuine questions asked by Christians of the Orthodox. I do have questions still. I’m thinking particularly of when the Orthodox are asked to explain their position and understanding using, first, the plain meaning of the Scriptural writings. The Orthodox, in general, have not yet (in my mind) answered some of the more benign questions of Scriptural interpretation and the implication of them in consideration of the face value meaning of various texts when used in context. I’m speaking of First Testament Scriptures used by Christians to qualify and defend their assertions concerning Messiah and of His eternal relationship to the Father. The First Testament certainly answers how the two who are both YHWH are known and understood by the Patriarch’s and the early Israelites to be One God.
To “encourage people to study these things for themselves and draw their own conclusions based on the texts themselves” is exactly what I would absolutely love to see happen. It doesn’t appear to me that Orthodox students are given the encouragement to do that as it seems they are taught Scripture simultaneously with extra-Biblical writings that may have already determined and perhaps even obscured what it is the verses are clearly saying. Although I will say that I’ve read many interpretations of various texts by Rabbis of ages past who (inadvertently?) agree with the Christian understanding of the same.
I’ve noticed that certain observations and areas of discussions challenging certain Orthodox positions have inevitably sent up an immediate wall of opposition that then diverts the conversation away from the initial subject or inquiry. Together with others, I’m left with unanswered queries concerning plainly written Scriptures and the Orthodox interpretation of them. Together with Asher Intrater, I’m still asking, “Who Ate Lunch With Abraham?” There are, of course, many more questions than that.
I pray that you’re doing well!
I’ve been re-reading Asher Intrader’s book, “Who Ate Lunch With Abraham?” and I’ve come across something I hadn’t noticed the first time. He talks about the Hebrew construct of the noun for “Angel-Yehovah” and it’s implications for understanding Messiah, Jesus, and His relationship to the Father.
The following is from the Kindle edition:
“The biblical text is not always easy to work with. The translators have provided a huge service by making the text readable. Even for someone whose knowledge of biblical Hebrew is strong, translations need to be considered occasionally in order to deal with certain words or phrases. (My favorite English version is the New King James with center cross references.) At this time, we want to introduce and analyze one point of Hebrew language that does happen to be quite significant. Please bear with us as it is a little technical.] There is a grammatical form in both biblical and modern Hebrew called “s’michut”—. The word “s’michut” means to put two things closely together, so that they touch one another. This grammatical form is made up of two words put together. S’michut joins two nouns so that they define one another mutually and become one unit together. To take an example from English, you might find something similar in such paired nouns as: ball game, door knob, piano stool, etc. In English the first noun turns into an adjective describing the second noun. Ball game is a game not a ball; the ball describes what kind of game it is. Let’s call this form “paired nouns.”
“The paired nouns in Hebrew are similar but slightly different. The first difference is that the order is reversed: the second noun describes the first. The meanings of the two nouns merge together. They become virtually one word, or similar to a hyphenated word, like the word ball-game, door-knob, piano-stool. The merging of the two is also emphasized because the vowels of the first word become shortened, so that the two words are spoken together in a single rhythmic pattern. A parallel might be b’ll-game, d’r-knob, p’no-stool. The paired nouns may be used either in a generic sense or to identify a proper noun. It might be any ball game, but it also might refer to a specific game, like “super-bowl” or “world-cup.” Making the paired nouns into a specific name instead of a common noun is done by inserting the syllable “ha” (meaning “the”) before the second noun, or by making the second noun a proper name. A parallel might be ball-the-game or “game-Wimbeldon.” Why is this technical detail so important? Because in the expression “the angel of the Lord,” the “s’michut” form is always used. The Hebrew does not say “the angel of the Lord” but “angel-Yehovah”—. The two words are joined together. The words “of” and “the” are NOT found in the original. In addition, in the angel-Yehovah paired noun, the second noun, Yehovah, is a proper name. From this construct we come to two conclusions:
“1. Angel and Yehovah are joined into one unit.
“2. Angel Yehovah is a proper name, not a generic noun. [A similar analysis of the s’michut form of the name “angel-Yehovah” was published as early as 1881 by Alexander McCaul in his book, Angel of the Covenant (reprinted by Keren Ahavah, Jerusalem, 2004).] Taking these two points a step further:
“1. It is impossible to separate the meaning of Angel from the meaning of Yehovah and vice versa. They are one and the same. The Angel is Yehovah, and Yehovah is the Angel.
“2. This is not a category which can apply to any of the other angels who come from Yehovah, but rather the proper name of a specific Angel called Yehovah. The word Angel merges together with the proper name Yehovah. It might be better translated as Angel-YHVH, Yahweh-Angel, or Yehovah Angel. All those options would be acceptable. For our study in this book, from this point forward, we will use the name “Angel-Yehovah.” (Again, for a discussion of Yahweh versus Yehovah, see Appendix #3.)
“In order to simplify the point: The paired-noun grammatical form makes the expression “Angel of the Lord” to be 1) proper, and 2) merged.
“1) Proper—While it could be argued that Angel-Yehovah is any one of a number of angels sent from God, the grammatical form points to it being a proper noun. It is THE Angel-Yehovah, not ANY angel from Yehovah. I do not know of even one example in the entire Hebrew Bible in which the term Angel-Yehovah is in “s’michut” form, where the context demands that it is referring to a generic angel, or one of a group of angels.
“2) Merged—The two nouns, Angel and Yehovah, modify one another. This is not a “ball” and a “game” but a “ball-game.” It is a “ball”—type of game. This is not just an angel, but a Yehovah-type angel. The two terms cannot be separated from one another. The nature of this angel is determined by the name Yehovah. Angel and Yehovah are paired noun partners. This grammatical structure fits perfectly the description of the figure that appeared to our prophets and patriarchs. The “s’michut” is so unusual and so fitting and so perfect, that I cannot escape the impression that this grammatical form was sovereignly predestined and planned by God for the primary purpose of describing this one Person in the Hebrew Bible. It is a unique grammatical form to define a unique individual. There is no one else like Him. A special grammatical construct was needed to be able to name Him. No man fits that category; no angel fits that category; even God our Heavenly Father does not fit that category. The plan of salvation and the destiny of the human race demand that the Messiah be a combination of God and man. The “s’michut” has a dual form because the Angel-Yehovah has a dual nature. The dual form matches perfectly His dual nature.”
Intrater, Asher (2011-11-16). Who Ate Lunch with Abraham (Kindle Locations 678-733). Intermedia Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
I meant to better separate the two above with the discussion of “Angel-Yehovah” being down further than the first addressed to Rabbi Cohen. It got bunched up in it’s translation to the page.
I’ll post here for you something that Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal has written on this in the past.
The Angel of the Lord
Let us move on now to those passages in which God seems to be interchangeable with an angel. In chapter 18 of Genesis three men appear to Abraham. It turns out that two of these men were actually angels (Genesis 19:1). But who was the third one? According to some Jewish commentators (Rashbam, and Ibn Ezra), the third man was actually an angel who is called by God’s name. It is this third angel whom Abraham was speaking to and addressing as “Lord”. The Christians argue that this proves that God can take on the form of an angel and even the form of a human; after all didn’t this angel eat and drink with Abraham under the tree? The Jew would point out that this angel was not worshiped by Abraham and that there is no commandment that we are to worship this angel. When God appears to the prophets in the Bible He often sent an angel to represent Him for the purpose of passing on His message to the prophet. The angel speaks the words of God to the prophet, and the prophet addresses God by speaking to the angel – but the angel is not God.
Is this angel God incarnate and deserving of worship as the Christian would have it? Or is the angel only passing on God’s words but is an entity distinct and separate from God and therefore not worthy of divine worship ?
Fortunately we have some other passages in scripture which could help us sort things out. Exodus 23:20 has God telling Moses that He will send an angel before the Jewish people.
God commands Moses to hearken to the voice of this angel. Here is the direct quote
(Exodus 23:22 -) “But rather you shall hearken to his voice and do all that I speak”. In other words God wants Moses to obey the command of the angel because it is God’s words that the angel speaks, but the angel is clearly an entity separate from God.
Similarly in Numbers chapter 22 we find an angel speaking God’s words, yet the angel is an entity distinct from God. In verse 35 of that chapter the angel tells Bileam “but the word which I speak that you shall speak”, yet in chapter 23 verse 5 it is God who puts the words in Bileam’s mouth. Again, the angel is the one who speaks God’s words and scripture refers to it as “God speaking”. The very designation “mal’ach” (generally translated as “angel”) literally means “messenger”, highlighting the fact that the angel is an entity subservient to God charged with a mission – but is not an entity who is to be seen as co-equal with God. In fact we find that human messengers of God (also referred to by the term “mal’ach – angel” Haggai 1:13) speaking God’s words. In the book of Deuteronomy we find Moses speaking God’s words without any introductory phrases, he just slips from speaking God’s words in the third person to speaking God’s words in the first person – (Deuteronomy 11:15). No-one attributes divinity to Moses, yet in capacity of messenger to the Lord he speaks for God. God uses messengers, both human and angelic through whom He brings His word to this physical world – but there is no indication that any worship is to be directed to these messengers. These messengers are clearly distinct from God, and as such, are not deserving of divine worship. – Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal
Thank you for your reply, Rabbi Cohen.
Believe me when I say I had a very hard time understanding Angel-Yehovah. The further along I got into the Bible the more times I found myself backing up to re-read many chapters again. I understand that angel means messenger but to me it seems all too vague and inadequate when describing Angel -Yehovah. I can see where angel would be understood as being one who is sent with a message from God but that description doesn’t really answer to the appearances of nor the role Angel -Yehovah plays throughout the early years of Israel and into the time of the Judges. The time spent with the Patriarchs, Balaam and especially Moses, etc. could have been carried out by any angel at all but that’s not how it happened. I don’t understand why any angel would have the same “name” as God. That’s the most peculiar and intriquing characteristic of all. There’s no need for it which leads me to believe that Scripture is telling us that there is something very special about that particular Angel and there’s more to it than first meets the eye. He shares God’s sacred name and that’s not something to be brushed off lightly. I think it’s very significant and it demands our utmost attention especially in light of the various situations we find him in.
God’s Name defines who God is. His Name translates as “I am who I am” as well as “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob–that is my Name forever.” There in lies the difficulty. God’s Name is not to be profaned by anyone but is to be held in reverance as sacred. An example is the precedent that His Name is not even written and now we don’t even know how to truly pronounce it because it’s considered so sacred that it’s translated as “The LORD” (substituted for the tetragrammaton) as opposed to reading or speaking His Name out loud. I think we can say that God embodies His Name. He is His Name. His Name is who we know as God.
We have David planning to build and Solomon completing a house “for the name of the LORD.” The ark of the covenant is called “the Name.” Jerusalem is the city where He has “placed His Name forever.” It’s said “the Lord’s Name comes from afar full of fury…”
For a particular Angel to possess God’s Name is much more significant and complicated than you would make it out to be. The Angel possesses God’s Name, so that particular Angel is of the same essense as God, therefore the Angel is also Yehovah (Yahweh) God as his Name signifies. It seems clear to me that we have God interacting with mankind in a form that we can relate to and see and hear, sometimes in appearance as a man other times as a glorified man (the Angel) who is also God, though not the Father and at the same time we have God who is God in heaven who is Spirit. As truly difficult as it is to understand the implications of it I don’t see where we can escape the truth of what is written in Scripture.
We are given examples that bear witness to this truth in various places in Scripture. There are two who possess the Name and they are both known to be God. There are those, too, in which the Angel is given worship and acknowleded as God.
If you’re inclined to go further in discussing it together we can try to work out the more complicated examples as I understand them.
Psa 34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
I’ve been studying various word searches for months now and there’s much to learn about “the name of the LORD.” Many things are starting to fall into place for me and I’ve extended my search to those passages that include the following:
The Angel of the LORD.
The Word of the LORD.
The Spirit of the LORD.
The LORD appeared.
That should keep me busy for quite a while longer. 🙂
I also need to post some things on the blog I’ve deserted. I have a few dozen word pad documents that I wrote but because they weren’t perfect they’ve not gone anywhere. They won’t help anyone if they don’t get out there where they can be read. Who knows but that one might bear fruit.
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