Saturday, 22 March 2014

Contra Blumenthal: An examination of Contra Brown

This article seeks to look at some of the points raised by Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal of yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com in a paper known as Contra Brown, an article that takes a look at Michael Brown's 5 Volume compendium Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus.

Contra Brown can be found here: http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/contra-brown/
Read carefully what it says.

Introduction
Before we get started let me go over a few points. Though I am taking the time to respond to Contra Brown and have also looked at Supplement to Contra Brown, I have officially stated I have withdrawn support from Michael Brown in light of certain reasons which I speak on here:
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/response-to-michael-brown-on-be-careful.html
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/warning-thoughts-on-michael-brown-on.html
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/concerns-about-toronto-and-pensacola.html
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/brownsville-crusade-of-repentance.html

Nevertheless, I am still considering looking at Contra Brown to see what points have been raised.

Also, I want to give a quick background history of Contra Brown itself and how it came about.

Back in 2009, Yisroel Blumenthal wrote Contra Brown in response to what Brown had said in his own works. The article itself is available not only on yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com, it is also on Jews4Judaism's own website readily available for download.

Blumenthal had issued a written debate challenge to Brown in light of this and though Brown had stated that he was writing an article called Correcting Contra Brown, so far the response has not surfaced in writing.

I thought it would be a good idea for me to tackle some of the points raised by Contra Brown myself, considering I have been looking at Supplement to Contra Brown in the past.

To those who are unaware of my writings, I am prepared to accept a conclusion by a Rabbi as valid, considering that there are points of agreement that Jews and Christians will accept. There are also points raised that I do think fit into a New Testament context quite nicely and do not contradict the message of the NT itself.

Rabbinic commentaries may be mentioned in passing but not necessarily responded to, though there are certain points I may highlight.

Finally, read what Rabbi Blumenthal has to say and read what I have to say and be Bereans, Check what both of us say in light of the scriptures.

With that said, let's dive in to the response.

Tota Scriptura
One of the points Yisroel Blumenthal highlights in his paper is that one must look at all of scripture when it comes to doctrine, theology and what scripture in it's context actually teaches. He also highlights that doctrine and theology requires clarity, does it exist in the scripture or is it a concoction outside of the scripture itself?

These are fair points raised by him and this is a point that is stressed by Christians who seek to understand scripture in it's context and Christians would agree that all of scripture with both eyes open needs to be exegeted and understood correctly.

Idolatry

Lets begin with the first objection Blumenthal raises:
"In order to establish His relationship with the Jewish people God introduced Himself to the nation as a whole with the words “I am the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:2). This revelation gave the people to understand that there is no power aside from God (Deuteronomy 4:35). This revelation was God’s way of teaching us whom to worship, and through the process of elimination – who we cannot worship. If the being in question was not present at Sinai, then it does not deserve our devotion (Exodus 20:19, Deuteronomy 4:15). Scripture consistently warns against worshipping - “gods that neither you nor your fathers have known” (Deuteronomy 11:28, 13:3,7,14, 28:65, 29:25, 32:17, Jeremiah 7:9, 19:4) – or “that which I have not commanded” (Deuteronomy 17:3). The clear message of scripture precludes worship of a being that was not revealed to us at Sinai. It is on this basis that the Jewish people cannot accept a teaching which deifies a human being."

So far there isn't much to disagree on here. Though I wish to tackle the last statement in particular. There is no question that man is not to be deified. In the teaching of the Hypostatic Union, Jesus possessed both a human nature and a divine nature, united in one person. Fully both God and Man. We don't bow to the flesh, we bow to the one who took on flesh. He "tabernacled among us" as John 1 puts it. If Jesus himself was merely a human being, then yes, Christians are guilty of a grave filthy practice.

There is no question that God revealed himself at Mt Sinai and that the people saw NO FORM present there. That I shall get into a little later.

The following verses Blumenthal points to and mentions that Brown used them in a proof text for Christ's deity: "Daniel 7:13, Psalm 45:18, Isaiah 52:13, Isaiah 9:6-7, Exodus 24:9-10, and Genesis 18"

I may get into some of these passages later but not all, the ones raised by Blumenthal specifically in writing.

Blumenthal says the following also regarding the passages: "These verses do not tell us if this is limited to one person or if many persons can be God. These verses do not tell us if this representation of God is co-equal to God or if he is subservient to God."

I'll be happy to touch upon these passages when I get to them, but I wouldn't say the passages presented by Christians are fragmentary necessarily.

"None of these passages directly address the issue at hand. Not one of these passages is placed in a context which would give us to understand that this is God’s teaching on the correct method of worship or to help us understand His nature. The scriptural support is circuitous and oblique.
In light of the limited nature of the Christian proof-texts, and in light of the vague and indirect quality of the support that these passages provide for the Christian doctrine, we recognize that the Christian usage of these passages is inconsistent. The scriptures declare openly and unequivocally that God has no form (Isaiah 40:17, 25) and that no representation of Him is to be worshiped (Deuteronomy 4:15). There is no way that one can say that the Christian doctrine is a consistent scriptural theme."

With respect to Deuteronomy 4:15, It is often asserted by Rabbinic Jews that Jesus stands condemned by these texts and thus Christians are guilty of constructing an idol when they bow down to him as God in heaven.
Let's look at the texts individually.

"Deuteronomy 4:15 You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. 20 But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are."

Let us start with the first verse. The revelation at Sinai is mentioned and that none of the Israelites ever saw an image when God revealed himself.

There is a warning and exhortation in verse 16-18 against constructing an idol for the sake of worship, considering already in the 613 commandments idolatry is out of the question. This point is hammered home throughout the TANAKH, Especially in the book of Isaiah itself. There is a clear cut and dry statement not to build idols to bow down to worship or even prostrate in mere obeisance to them, especially statues of Mary and Jesus.

If Jesus is God in the flesh, there is nothing wrong with praying to him, singing to him or worshipping him. This doesn't justify bowing to a statue of him which I need to make very clear.
Christians are not guilty of constructing an idol when they bow to Christ, We do not bow to his flesh, we bow to the one who tabernacles among us as stated before. No violation of the passage so far.

Now some who are reading this will say: "But limiting to building idols means you are allowing worship of the sun, moon and stars". Well, no we don't, The next passage is also an exhortation not to bow down to the sky, sun, moon, stars and other things. It is not bowing to idols only that is forbidden, but also bowing down to what is in the sky and the seas below.

I have yet to see Christians bowing to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars all the heavenly array in this day and age and in the past.

Isaiah 40 speaks in a context where the incarnation had not yet taken place, as does the TANAKH as a whole, but even so, a Christian certainly would not prostrate themselves before a form itself.

Atonement
"On the issue of atonement, the message of scripture rings loud and clear. Ezekiel 33:10 gives expression to the feeling of hopelessness that overtakes the sinner - "our sins and transgressions are upon us, and we melt away in them, how then shall we live?" The next verse gives us God’s response - "Tell them - as I live says the Lord I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn away from his sins and live". The passage goes on to assure the penitent sinner "none of the sins that he committed will be remembered against him" (Ezekiel 33:16). Here the scriptures directly address the feelings of guilt and hopelessness that overwhelm the sinner. God’s answer is repentance - a turning away from sin and a new commitment to follow God’s Law - is the answer to sin. The primary and direct purpose of this passage is to address the issue of getting out of the trap of sin and achieving God’s forgiveness. The teaching of scripture on this issue is - repentance. There are quite a number of passages in scripture which directly address the question of the sinner’s hope and the answer is always repentance. (Deuteronomy 4:29,30, 30:1-3, - addressing the nation as a collective unit, Isaiah 1:16,17, 55:7, Ezekiel 18:21,22,23, Micah 6:6-8 and the entirety of the book of Jonah all give us clear and direct guidance on the issue of atonement. See also Jeremiah 36:3, Zechariah 1:3, and Job 22:23.) These passages are comprehensive, they are clear they are direct and they are consistently affirmed throughout scripture. It is on the basis of God’s explicit word that the Jewish people reject the Christian theology which denies the efficacy of repentance."
"
Christians agree repentance is essential and foundational. Christians (biblical obviously not nominal and antinomians) believe in repentance AND Christ's atoning death. The sacrifices in the TANAKH only atoned for one's sins if there is genuine repentance, otherwise, it's just a superficial show. Jesus' death only atones if there is repentance accompanying it. A person will repent if he has been quickened by Christ first and takes up Christ's offer of his blood to have their sin forgiven after being quickened, otherwise, he remains dead in sin.

There are numerous exhortations in the NT for Christians to "renounce ungodliness and worldy passions and to live self-controlled upright and godly lives" (Titus 2:11-12) and other passages (Ephesians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 6:9, James 1:21, James 2:17-24, 1 Peter 1:13-15). More could be cited but I think the point has already been put forward.

Blumenthal hammers the point of repentance home to his audience and Christians who know both the TANAKH and the NT will say "Amen" to repentance. But as said before, Christians don't downplay repentance, they just simply recognise that blood is essential for atonement.

Now the big question is, do the passages raised by Brown actually demonstrate the Christian's points forcefully? We shall see as this treatise continues.

Ha Shem and the Jews
Rabbinic Judaism recognises that Mt Sinai is the most important event in the history of Israel and many Jews even today have tested other belief systems to see if they conform with this extraordinary event. It lays the foundation of Jews and their religion across the globe. It also established that God has made an eternal covenant with the Jews that cannot be broken, because "God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable." (Romans 11:29). The covenant's validity is not dependant on the Jews, it's dependent on the God they serve, namely Ha Shem or YHWH.

With respect to prophets that come along, it is important to see if their message is consistent with them and I don't think there is a disagreement there.

One particular point that is interesting brought by Blumenthal is this:
"Christian missionaries do not claim that it was a trinity that appeared to the Jewish people at Sinai. The worship that the missionary promotes is precluded by the Sinai revelation – the very foundation of scripture. The doctrines of Christianity are not only refuted by scripture, they stand at variance to the fundamental principles upon which God established the validity of scripture.
The true faith that God established amongst the Jewish people before the first page of scripture was written, does not allow the Jew to accept the claims of the Christian missionaries."

Assuming the Trinity is true, that I am convinced of, even if the Jews were not cognisant of Yeshua or Jesus at the time of Sinai, this wouldn't undercut Christian claims.

It is rightly acknowledged by Blumenthal that Christians don't claim the Jews didn't see a Trinity appear directly in the Sinai Revelation.

In the context of Sinai, the three persons are not required to be seen at once. James White made an excellent point on the Dividing Line on the subject of singular pronouns. He says:
"Every single time, that the context does not demand that we see a particular indiviudual operating differently than the others, would be a referrence to the Triune God. So anytime where God's general activities, God's general attributes or in referrence, can be refered to the entire Godhead acting in unity."

This would cover the Sinai Revelation, considering it was the ONE God acting in that context without having all three persons seen at once. The Godhead was acting in unity in the context of Sinai. Also, James White has stressed that the revelation of the Trinity was revealed in the Incarnation of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It was revealed between the Old and the New Testament. He made this point in his debate with Jalal Abularab.

Love that transcends death
It is right and commendable that a Jew is willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of Ha Shem, even Rabbi Akiva in a story about his death, recognised that loving God with everything you have is vital, even if it costs you your life. Obviously those who killed Jews who refused to follow Jesus were dead wrong in doing so. Regardless of Christianity being true or false, this would not justify the killing of the Jews indiscriminately. If Christianity is false, the Jews themselves have indeed died in a noble cause. If Christianity is true, the Jews would of died in vain and be eternally lost for rejecting the Messiah, regardless of their noble intentions, but again this doesn't justify Christians killing Jews for refusing to submit to Jesus.

The acceptance of Jesus as God and Messiah wouldn't mean turning your back on God at all by any stretch of the imagination, that is indeed folly to suggest such. If Marcionism was true, then this argument holds weight.

Role of the Temple in the Messianic era
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=?Ezekiel+40-48
Though the concept of a third temple is a debated topic among Christians, I consider the third temple has a future. The chapters give a description of what is present in the temple and what is going to transpire within the confines of the temple. This I believe will occur in the Millennial Reign of Christ, which has not occurred yet but shall transpire in the future. Offerings are presented at the temple and they are literal offerings within the context.

"Ezekiel 40:38 A room with a doorway was by the portico in each of the inner gateways, where the burnt offerings were washed. 39 In the portico of the gateway were two tables on each side, on which the burnt offerings, sin offerings[n] and guilt offerings were slaughtered. 40 By the outside wall of the portico of the gateway, near the steps at the entrance of the north gateway were two tables, and on the other side of the steps were two tables. 41 So there were four tables on one side of the gateway and four on the other—eight tables in all—on which the sacrifices were slaughtered. 42 There were also four tables of dressed stone for the burnt offerings, each a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a half wide and a cubit high.[o] On them were placed the utensils for slaughtering the burnt offerings and the other sacrifices. 43 And double-pronged hooks, each a handbreadth[p] long, were attached to the wall all around. The tables were for the flesh of the offerings."

These offerings wouldn't present a problem, they are going to be present within the Millennial Reign itself, but the reason they are going to be carried out, is in commemoration of what the Messiah has done for them, the atonement for the sins of humanity and that those who have continued to believe in him would have salvation. Another noteworthy point are the priests of Zadok who are going to be administering in the temple. Again it is worth noting that these offerings are literal offerings as stated earlier:

"Ezekiel 40:44 Outside the inner gate, within the inner court, were two rooms, one[q] at the side of the north gate and facing south, and another at the side of the south[r] gate and facing north. 45 He said to me, “The room facing south is for the priests who guard the temple, 46 and the room facing north is for the priests who guard the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who are the only Levites who may draw near to the Lord to minister before him.

47 Then he measured the court: It was square—a hundred cubits long and a hundred cubits wide. And the altar was in front of the temple."

"Ezekiel 43:18 Then he said to me, “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: These will be the regulations for sacrificing burnt offerings and splashing blood against the altar when it is built: 19 You are to give a young bull as a sin offering[bh] to the Levitical priests of the family of Zadok, who come near to minister before me, declares the Sovereign Lord. 20 You are to take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the upper ledge and all around the rim, and so purify the altar and make atonement for it. 21 You are to take the bull for the sin offering and burn it in the designated part of the temple area outside the sanctuary."

"Ezekiel 44:15 “‘But the Levitical priests, who are descendants of Zadok and who guarded my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and serve me as guards."

Now you may ask "How are the priests of Zadok going to administer in the temple?" Easy answer, They will be resurrected from the dead to not only reign with Christ as saints saved by him, which is another topic regarding how the saints in the TANAKH were saved by his blood. Not only this, after the resurrection and during the Millennial reign, they shall administer in their priestly offices and run the temple as they should.

Now the question is, This temple be around forever? or only for a time? Revelation 21 gives the answer:

"Revelation 21:9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia[c] in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits[d] thick.[e] 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.[f] 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life."

Now how do I reconcile with what I said about the third temple regarding the Millennial Reign? Simple answer, the temple is not eternally established, but rather remains throughout the Millennial Reign until it's purpose if fulfilled.

Another thing to consider is the feasts such as Tabernacles and Passover may be celebrated in the Millennial reign. At this point in time, they are not carried out yet, but the feasts and the traditions of YHWH will be observed in the Millennial reign, not while Christ has not come again yet. Though Revelation doesn't speak of the feasts themselves, the TANAKH certainly does, such as in Zechariah 14.

"16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord[b] will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.

20 On that day holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite[c] in the house of the Lord Almighty."

Some Rabbinic Jews, though deniers of Yeshua's Messiahship, affirm that Zechariah 14 is messianic in nature or at least it refers the end times. In fact one Jewish fellow, Limitbreak9001, when I asked him, he said that it was messianic and hasn't been fulfilled yet, and if it was, I (referring to me) would be celebrating Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles with him. I believe the feasts will be done in the Millennial reign, not while Christ hasn't returned.

As you can see in Zechariah 14, it mentions the subject of the Gentiles going from their nations to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts of God, however, this has not occured yet and occurs when Jesus establishes the Millennial reign and the Messianic Kingdom, and those who refuse to celebrate the feasts, will expect a fearful judgement.

Now some Christians claim the Anti-Christ will be responsible for building the third temple. This I think is incorrect.
Let's start with Daniel 9:24-27:
"24 “Seventy ‘sevens’[a] are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish[b] transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.[c]

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One,[d] the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing.[e] The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’[f] In the middle of the ‘seven’[g] he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple[h] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.[i]”[j]".

Putting aside the Jewish-Christian debate as to who the anointed one is, If the anti-Christ is the one who makes a covenant with unbelievers, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, the context doesn't suggest the Anti-Christ backing the building of the third temple, but quite to the contrary, he is going to DEFILE the temple. Jesus will cleanse the temple of it's impurities ready for the Millennial Reign when he returns.

Also let's read 2 Thessalonians 2:4

"2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness."

The lawless one is understood to be the Anti-Christ, which is exactly the case. Notice when you read the chapter, the Anti-Christ is not responsible for the construction of the temple, even implicitly. What does take place is Anti-Christ entering the temple, seating himself within it and proclaiming himself to be the Most High. There is no implicit or explicit evidence in the scripture to show Anti-Christ building or constructing the temple at all, This is a sheer invention or misinterpretation that is not substantiated by the text itself.

I know this isn't what Blumenthal was claiming, I am just simply making a point about the Messianic era and how the temple would fit into Christianity quite nicely.

Furthermore, in light of what I have written in this context, The ingathering of the Jews back in their own land to serve their Messiah is certainly taken into consideration by me, as well as taking into consideration that the Jews are made a light to the nations by the merits of the Messiah, specifically the righteous remnant of Jews who remain in him.

Tribal Affiliation
As Blumenthal and I will agree, a point he makes about Jews and Christians as well, is that the Messiah must come from the house of David.

His contention, as well as that of the Rabbinic community is that Tribal Affiliation comes through that of the Father and the Religion is determined by the Mother. He and others contend that in order for Jesus to have a chance of the David throne, he must have a father and that a mother cannot pass on the tribal affiliation.

It is a bit of a stretch I admit on the part of Brown and others that one can have his genealogy come from the female. I did dedicate some time each day for at least a few days in 2013 to read the Torah from beginning to end and I haven't found any section in the Torah that speaks against the idea of being adopted into a tribe itself. Jesus would be able to inherit the throne through Joseph by virtue of adoption, legal. If there is anything in the Torah that speaks on this issue, feel free to share it.

When Mary is visited by the angel who declared to her about the News of Jesus, she was already betrothed to Joseph, he himself a descendant of David. After their marriage ceremony, they would of consummated their marriage after Jesus' birth. If that is the case, then technically because of the marriage, Jesus does have a legal right to inherit the Davidic throne by adoption.

Robert Gundry makes this interesting point regarding the two genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke:

""As it was supposed" therefore calls attention Jesus' divine sonship via a virginal conception and birth. Nevertheless, Luke traces Jesus' genealogy through Joseph because of LEGAL RIGHTS, such as the right to David's throne, passed through the Father though he was only a foster father. (Page 237 Robert H. Gundry Commentary on the New Testament)"

"One the other hand, this passage explains how Jesus came to have the legal status of a descendant of David even though Joseph didn't father him: Joseph, himself a son [= a descendent] of David brought Jesus into David's line by taking Mary to wife prior to Jesus birth and by naming him at his birth(Page 3 Robert H. Gundry Commentary on the New Testament)".""

The objection of the virgin birth cancelling out Jesus as the Messiah is not an ancient objection and even in early church writings, most arguments against the virgin birthed stemed from the almah/bethulah issue, which is neither here nor there.

But I will say tribal lineage through the female, while interesting, is a bit of a stretch, Although Nakdimon in the past has shared an interesting case for tribal lineage going through the female, I won't post in this article.

Haggai 2:6-9
Looking at some commentaries in Christianity, Some do interpret the passage as Brown does, namely that Jesus fulfills the glory of the second temple being greater than the first. One point I want to focus one here quickly is this particular point later.

"The second problem with Brown’s interpretation is that Jesus never came to glorify the Temple. According to Christian theology he actually came to replace the Temple. According to Brown Jesus came to replace both the atonement that was provided through the Temple offerings and the connection to God that the Temple represented[xxiv]. How could the career of Jesus, a man who claimed the glory of the Temple for himself, be considered a glorification of the same Temple?"
For now, I want to bring something else to the table as to what the prophecy refers to.

There is a different perspective of the glory of the temple, it refers to it's magnificence and appearance. The second temple in Jesus day, despite being unfinished, was actually more magnificent in it's appearance than the first temple.

"Haggai 2:6 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”"

The silver and gold sent to the temple came from Babylon were part of the fulfilment of the prophecy. The passage isn't necessarily a promise of the Messiah coming, but rather refers to the second temple's splendour in it's day.

As to what Christian Theology teaches, it teaches that Jesus' death on the cross functions as an atonement and paying the fine no human themselves could pay. The temple's destruction was a sign that this fine had been paid.

Malachi 3:1-4
"3 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years."

The NT interprets the first verse as a reference to John the Baptist paving the way for Yeshua or Jesus. As for the subject of the Levites being refined, John the Baptist cleanses the Levites by baptising them in the river Jordan, thus getting them ready for the Kingdom of Heaven. The sacrifices of the Levites afterwards are also pleasing to God as a result of this. In the Millennial Reign of Christ when the Temple stands once more in Jerusalem, the offerings given within the context of Malachi will pleasing to the LORD as in the former times of Judah. While the NT makes it clear that the Law is fulfilled in Christ, there isn't anything to suggest that the temple, even temporarily, will not be re-established in the end of days for a holy purpose.

Unknown Atonement?
Rabbi Blumenthal mentions that the Talmudic tradition of Yoma 39B, which speaks of strange phenomenon occurring in the temple for 40 years before it was finally destroyed in 70 AD. This is the section where Yisroel Blumenthal claims that the atonement of Jesus was unknown to the disciples themselves.

"It is interesting to note that the Jewish disciples of Jesus[xxviii]did not read this sign in the same way that Brown does. The Christian scriptures[xxix] describe an interesting episode that took place after the death of Jesus. Paul, who had been preaching throughout the Roman Empire, came to visit the Jewish disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem. James, the brother of Jesus, told Paul that the members of the Jerusalem Church were under the impression that Paul had been encouraging Jews to abandon the Law of Moses, and this report disturbed them greatly. James suggested that Paul put these rumors to rest by participating in the offering of sacrifices for the expiation of sin[xxx]. Through his involvement in these sacrificial activities Paul would demonstrate that he was loyal to the Law of Moses.
What emerges from this story is that the Jewish disciples of Jesus were still bringing sacrifices for the expiation of sin long after his death. This was not a peripheral activity of the Jerusalem Church, but it was an activity which they saw as symbolic of their loyalty to God’s Law. The act of bringing the offerings to the Temple establishment (to be processed by non-Christian priests), was employed as a public display that would demonstrate Paul’s alleged loyalty to the Law of Moses. A public performance relies on the audience to interpret its message. There is no question that the Jerusalem crowds would understand the act of bringing an animal offering, in the same way that the scriptures explain it. They would read the performance as an acknowledgment of the validity of the sacrificial system. This was the obvious intention of James when he demanded that Paul go through these motions.But according to Brown, the sacrificial system was obsolete. Brown contends that with the death of Jesus the animal sacrifices could no longer atone, and it is only faith in Jesus that could atone. It seems that the Jewish disciples of Jesus never heard of this teaching, and if they did hear of the teaching, they did not accept it. Can we blame them? This teaching runs contrary to scripture. The book of Leviticus teaches that the offerings do indeed atone and there is no indication that they will one day be rendered obsolete and ineffective."

As Yisroel Blumenthal is aware (due to the fact he has responded to one of them:
http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/response-to-answering-judaism-acts-21-part-1/
http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/response-to-answering-judaism-acts-21-part-2/), I have written material dealing with the subject of Paul and the sacrificial system. It's only fair you guys get to check out what the Rabbi has said on this matter.

I will also take the time to deal with the subject of Paul that he raises in response to my article, as this ties in to Contra Brown with respect the teaching of Jesus being a final sacrifice, specifically the second article, as I have penned another article on the issue of the comparison between the TANAKH and NT which can be found here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/correcting-misconceptions-of.html. Let's read what Paul claims:

"Galatians 1:11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[b] and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me."

Here within this context, Paul claims to have received a vision from the Lord himself, He goes to the apostles to check what he received indeed came from Jesus. If this isn't an indicator of him accurately checking his information, then I am not sure what it is.

Also, let us read the following: "Galatians 2:1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favouritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised,[a] just as Peter had been to the circumcised.[b] 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas[c] and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along."

The imparted nothing refers to the fact the apostles never added to Paul's messages, considering the themselves, sat with Jesus and walked with him, and would of been well aware of what Yeshua had taught to them. They would also not be willing to extend the hand of fellowship to Paul, if they had known that his teaching didn't come from Yeshua. Although, I wouldn't dismiss the point about " an assurance that the Jerusalem Church will not  oppose his efforts " as I think that would tie in with the quest for confirmation.

As for my quotation of John 14:26, Let's quickly look at what was said by Blumenthal in his response to me:

"AJ goes on to quote John 14:26 where Jesus assures his  disciples that the Holy Spirit will remind them of his teachings. AJ jumps to  the conclusion that this means that the Holy Spirit taught Jesus’ immediate  disciples the same things that Paul claimed to have received.
The reasoning here is completely circular. AJ assumes  that Paul’s teachings are an authentic representation of Jesus’ teachings so he  therefore concludes that John’s Jesus is assuring his disciples that he will  remind them of Paul’s doctrines. But if Paul’s doctrines are not authentic then  Jesus never heard of them, and it would make no sense to assume that he spoke of  what he didn’t know."

If the disciples themselves were led by the Spirit of God and examined Paul's teachings in light of what Jesus had said, then this only serves to show that Jesus was fully aware of what Paul had taught, considering he would of taught the same thing to the disciples long before Paul came on the scene, hence Paul's doctrines have a Christo-centric origin.

"AJ seems to be unaware that I never proposed that the  editors of the Christian Scriptures explicitly taught that Paul was the inventor  of Christianity. My argument is that the editors of the Christian Scriptures  exerted themselves to smooth over the differences between Paul and the Jerusalem  Church. But that with all of their efforts, the deep conflict between Paul and  Jesus’ immediate disciples is still evident."

There were conflicts no doubt in the NT pertaining to the disciples and to Paul, the most explicit referring to Peter and Paul's scuffle in Galatians, as well as the conflict of the Jerusalem church in Acts, which is highlighted by Blumenthal in his treatise, but how this would be a detriment to Paul's reliability I am not sure. The conflict arose due to the rumours about Paul and the claims about him which James asked Paul to repudiate. I am grateful that the point by Blumenthal has been clarified by him, I want to keep myself from straw man.

With respect to the offerings done in remembrance of Jesus, these are the points raised:
"Some Christians have proposed that perhaps the Jerusalem  Church participated in the temple ritual as a remembrance to Jesus’ sacrifice  and not as a means of atonement in and of itself. 
I respond to this bizarre theory with two separate  arguments. One point I raised is the simple fact that the sacrifices were  processed by the non-Christian Temple establishment. The men actually sprinkling  the blood of the offering would certainly not be doing it in remembrance to  Jesus. They would process the offerings with the understanding that these  offerings atoned for sin without the services of Jesus. If the disciples were  looking to make a remembrance to Jesus this would be the wrong way to do  it. 

The second argument I raised to refute the “remembrance  theory” is the fact that Paul’s participation in the Temple rite was meant to be  a public demonstration for the Jerusalem crowds. The general populace in  Jerusalem certainly believed that the Temple sacrifices atoned and they did not  view these offerings as a remembrance to Jesus. If someone makes a public  demonstration we can assume that this fellow calculated the crowd’s particular  understanding of his demonstration and that it was that understanding that he  was trying to reinforce by going through with the demonstration. It makes no  sense to say that James made this demonstration with one intention although he  was fully aware that the crowd will read his activity in a way that repudiated  everything he stood for."

The non-Christian establishment wouldn't see this as remembrance of Jesus atoning death, no question about that, However the disciples offering sacrifices at the temple wouldn't be bad in and of itself, considering they didn't do this in order to atone.

The general populace themselves who did not believe in Jesus didn't see them as a remembrance to Jesus at all, however who is the demonstration suggested by James done to? it's the Messianic believers, who already accept Jesus as their Messiah. The whole point of the demonstration was to refute the rumours that Paul was telling Jews to renounce the Torah and Moses.

What I meant by the Levites doing their duty was simply because if they do not believe in the teaching of the apostles, why should they even care if the apostles decide to make an offering at the temple? Although there was indeed a polemic among the Rabbinic Jews and the Messianic Jews going back to that time, the arguments of then wouldn't of been the same that they are now.

Harry Ironside is mentioned in passing with respect to the issue of the demonstration, that if Paul went along with the demonstration, he would of repudiated his teachings as he mentions in Galatians.
Not so, Paul circumcised Timothy in the book of Acts not only because Timothy was Jewish, but also for evangelistic accommodation to get into the synagogue. He condemned circumcision of Gentiles because they were using it as a means to justify themselves before God, even though the Acts 15 council made it clear circumcision was not required of Gentile converts.

Paul partaking of the offerings for the purpose of his testimony to the Messianics likewise would not of hindered his teaching against the Judaizers in Galatians, because they were trying to say in essence you were saved by the law, which Paul made clear was not the case.

Not to mention when speaking to the Corinthian church, Paul said this:

"1 Corinthians 9:19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

In certain cases, Paul would have observed the practices of the Jews when reaching out to them, but with respect to the Gentiles, he did not observe these customs, but still retained holy living. It was for his testimony to certain groups that he took this approach.

This doesn't mean however that he was prepared to evil and sin just to clarify, since he exhorts the congregations to live holy lives in his letters.

I hope this time I have answered the Rabbi's questions.

With respect to Ironside's commentary, It can be found here so you can read it for yourself, courtesy of yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com: http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/harry-ironsides-comments-on-acts-2124-26/

Finally with respect the tradition raised by Brown regarding the temple, He points to the fact that for forty years, there were three things that happened in the temple, which can be found here: http://www.yashanet.com/library/temple/yoma39.htm

"Our Mishnah is not in accordance with the following Tanna, for it was taught: R. Judah said in the name of R. Eliezer: The deputy high priest and the high priest put their hand into the urn. If the lot [‘For the Lord’] comes up in the hand of the high priest, the deputy high priest said to him: Sir high priest, raise thy hand! And if it came up in the right hand of the deputy high priest, the head of the [ministering] family says to him: Say your word!8 -Let the deputy high priest address him? — Since it did not come up in his hand, he might feel discouraged.9 In what [principle] do they10 differ? — One holds, the right hand of the deputy high priest is better than the left hand of the high priest, the other holding, they are of even importance. Who is the Tanna disputing R. Judah? — It is R. Hanina, deputy high priest. For it was taught: R. Hanina, deputy high priest, says: Why does the deputy high priest stand at the right? In order that if an invalidating accident should happen to the high priest, the deputy high priest may enter [the Sanctuary] and officiate in his stead.11

    Our Rabbis taught: Throughout the forty years that Simeon the Righteous ministered, the lot [‘For the Lord’] would always come up in the right hand; from that time on, it would come up now in the right hand, now in the left. And [during the same time] the crimson-coloured strap12 would become white. From that time on it would at times become white, at others not. Also: Throughout those forty years the westernmost light13 was shining, from that time on, it was now shining, now failing; also the fire of the pile of wood kept burning strong,14 so that the priests did not have to bring to the pile any other wood besides the two logs,15 in order to fulfil the command about providing the wood unintermittently; from that time on, it would occasionally keep burning strongly, at other times not, so that the priests could not do without bringing throughout the day wood for the pile [on the altar]. [During the whole period] a blessing was bestowed upon the ‘omer,16 the two breads,17 and the shewbread, so that every priest, who obtained a piece thereof as big as an olive, ate it and became satisfied with some eating thereof and even leaving something over. From that time on a curse was sent upon ‘omer, two breads, and shewbread, so that every priest received a piece as small as a bean: the well-bred18 ones withdrew their hands from it, whilst voracious folk took and devoured it. Once one [of the latter] grabbed his portion as well as that of his fellow, wherefore they would call him ‘ben hamzan’ [grasper] until his dying day.  Rabbah b. R. Shela said: What Scriptural basis [is there for this appellation]? — O my God, rescue me out of the hand of the wicked, out of the grasp of the unrighteous and homez [ruthless] man.1 Raba said, From here [is the basis obtained]: Learn to do well, seek justice, strengthen hamoz [the oppressed]2 i.e., strengthen him hamoz [who is oppressed], but strengthen not homez [the oppressor].3

    Our Rabbis taught: In the year in which Simeon the Righteous died, he foretold them that he would die. They said: Whence do you know that? He replied: On every Day of Atonement an old man, dressed in white, wrapped in white, would join me, entering [the Holy of Holies] and leaving [it] with me, but today I was joined by an old man, dressed in black, wrapped in black, who entered, but did not leave, with me. After the festival [of Sukkoth] he was sick for seven days and [then] died. His brethren [that year] the priests forbore to mention the Ineffable Name in pronouncing the [priestly] blessing.4 Our Rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the Lord’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white; nor did the westernmost light shine; and the doors of the Hekal would open by themselves, until R. Johanan b. Zakkai rebuked them, saying: Hekal, Hekal, why wilt thou be the alarmer thyself?5 I know about thee that thou wilt be destroyed, for Zechariah ben Ido has already prophesied concerning thee:6 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.7"

It is only fair for the readers to read this tradition for themselves and come to their own conclusion on the matter.

Two Anointed, Zechariah 6:11-13
I haven't that much to say except a number of things. I'll grant the passage speaks of two anointed ones, the Messiah (Zerubabbel in the Historical context) and the priest. While the passage doesn't speak of one anointed one only, which is also found in Haggai when Joshua and Zerubbabel were called, I would argue that Jesus would carry the function of both.

The crown on Joshua's head would also be a sign that Israel's leadership would change to being lead by priests for a time, considering the descendent of David after Zerubabbel didn't sit on the throne of David, even Mary and Joseph came from humble stock, but this wouldn't mean the Messianic King would not be given the throne.

Blumenthal notes that in Ezekiel 44 and Jeremiah 33 the following:
"The three prophets who prophesied during the early days of the Second Temple (Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) all emphasized the role of the priests as guides to the people (Haggai 2:10 – 15, Zechariah 3;1 – 7, Malachi 2:4 – 8, 3:3,4). The prophets spoke of the holy responsibility of the priests in instructing the people, and the prophets rebuked the priests who were not fulfilling this responsibility in the proper manner. In Ezekiel’s description of the Messianic era, an entire chapter (Ezekiel 44) is devoted to a depiction of the role of the priests, with specific emphasis on their role as teachers to the people (verses 23, 24). In the context of a Messianic prediction, Jeremiah speaks of the two families who were chosen by God – the royal family of David, and the priestly family of Levi (Jeremiah 33:17 – 26). The prophet assures us that God’s choices are permanent and irrevocable. It is clear that the Levitical priesthood plays a significant role in the Messianic era.

During the SecondTemple era and in the period of exile that followed, the nation did not wield much political power[xl]. The leaders of the nation were the arbitrators of God’s Law, a function of the priesthood (Leviticus 10:11, Deuteronomy 33:10, Ezekiel 44:23, Malachi 2:7, 2Chronicles 19:11). The priests were then prominent in the government of the nation from the times of Zechariah onward. In the Messianic era the priesthood will also join the office of royalty in governing the nation. In that era, when everyone will observe the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 30:8, Jeremiah 31:32, Ezekiel 36:27, 37:24), the teaching role of the priests will be significantly exalted."

While he concludes the Messiah doesn't have a priestly role, the rest of what he said with respect to the Messianic era I wouldn't dismiss, considering I have already mentioned above that the third temple does have a role to play in the Messianic Era, but not right now and of course what will transpire, namely the subject of Mosaic Law observance, restoration of the priesthood etc in the Millennial Reign, so I needn't go over that again.

What Jesus does is combine the functions of prophet, priest and king all into one. Melchizedek was a priest and a king of the Most High God in the Book of Genesis and Moses himself was a prophet, a priest and functionally was a king, I say functionally because God was the one who was their king and Moses functioned on his behalf as one.

While Zechriah 6:11-13 does speak of two anointed ones, the Messiah carries the functions of both offices.

Cohenim and Moshiachs (Priests and Messiahs or Anointed Ones)
As I have made aware for some time, especially by the late Rabbi Immanuel Schochet in a debate he did with Brown, the word for priest in Hebrew is cohennim, but it doesn't mean only priest but can also refer to one who holds a function or an office. For example, Israel is a kingdom of priests and there are those who serve Baal who are called Cohenim Baal. There is one thing that Blumenthal brings to the table for Brown to chew on as it were:

"Let us accept Brown’s argument for a moment. Let us assume that whenever scripture designates an individual with the title – “priest”, then we have no choice but to accept that this individual is to serve in the capacity of expiating sin. We must recognize that the Messiah is not the only individual who is designated with a priestly title. As opposed to the Messiah, where the priestly reference is shadowed with uncertainty, the people of Israel are called priests openly and obviously (Exodus 19:6, Isaiah 61:6). Yet when the Jewish commentators identify the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, with the nation of Israel, Brown rejects their interpretation out of hand. If Psalm 110:4 teaches that the Messiah is to suffer for the sins of the world, then Exodus 19:6, and Isaiah 61:6 must also tell us that Israel is to suffer for the sins of the world. If the priestly references are not enough of a scriptural basis to establish this role for the nation of Israel, then they are not enough for the Messiah either."

The only problem with Blumenthal's argument is that if Psalm 110 refers to Yeshua as Messiah and his vicarious atonement, Israel wouldn't be able to suffer for the sins of mankind, due to 1. they are sinners and only mere men and number 2. For Yeshua to suffer on behalf of us and take on himself the sins of the world, he needs to be God in the flesh, since a Jesus who is less than that cannot save.

But indeed, There should be a consistency from both sides, including me.

An earlier point made by Yisroel Blumenthal himself about the Messiah being a judge and a teacher in Isaiah 11:4, is a valid point to grant. Where I would differ is are those the ONLY roles he has given to him.

Isaiah 53
Now to one of the most well known prophecies, Isaiah 53.

Firstly, before getting into the passages, I want to deal with the claims of supposed anti-semitism in the NT, specifically two sections Blumenthal quotes, Matthew 23 and John 8.

Jesus is anathematizing the Pharisees for their wickedness and hypocrisy. He tells the disciples to obey them but not emulate them. He isn't highlighting all of the Jews. A condemnation of the Pharisees is not anti-Semitic in the slightest. The Israelites are called depraved children by Isaiah because of their wickedness.

"Isaiah 57:3 “But you—come here, you children of a sorceress,
    you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
4 Who are you mocking?
    At whom do you sneer
    and stick out your tongue?
Are you not a brood of rebels,
    the offspring of liars?"

I am aware that the yourphariseefriend website has highlighted supposed differences between the statements. I am happy to look at those in another set of articles, but not in this one.

In John 8, The Jews who were speaking to Jesus are Jews who believed in him, supposedly. However, as Jesus speaks, he reveals their heart's attitude towards him, Once again, this is referring to specific Jews in a given context, he is not saying ALL Jews are of the devil, he is condemning a particular group of Jews. They were shocked by his claims and also couldn't stand what he had said about them. They were superficially believing in Jesus, not really submitting to him. This is the one statement in all the Gospels that is commonly quoted by the Counter-Missionaries to attack the NT and accuse it of Jew Hatred.

Another point I also want to look at briefly is what the Rabbi has said here:
"Brown seems to be impressed by the fact that many people immediately associate this scriptural passage with the person of Jesus from Nazareth[xlii]. Let us step back and examine the facts. The prophet presents certain physical details that mark the servant’s history enabling us to identify the servant. Then there is the theology of the servant. The prophet gives us a theological explanation to help us understand the suffering of the servant. The spiritual explanation for the suffering of the servant is not something that can be seen in the world of objective reality. The description of the servant’s suffering, on the other hand, can be measured in the realm of objective reality. Upon examining the identifying details of the passage, it will become apparent that there is another subject that would more readily correspond with Isaiah’s description. It is the invisible theology of the passage that causes people who read this passage to think of Jesus. No other figure in history is more closely associated with the theology of this passage than is Jesus. It is not the man, Jesus, who people see in this passage, it is Christianity.

Is this so impressive? Christianity has erected her theology on the non-contextual meaning of this passage, and has vociferously spread her doctrines to the ends of the earth. The 2000 years of missionary activity have publicized the Christian claim that Jesus fulfilled the theology of Isaiah 53. Upon reading Isaiah 53, many people do indeed make the association with the theological claims of Christianity. But did anyone see Jesus fulfill the theology of Isaiah 53? Did anyone see Jesus die for the sins of the world? The fact that Isaiah 53 is associated with Jesus testifies to the success of the Christian effort in promulgating their intangible theology. This association is not rooted in an objective observation of the real world, nor is it supported by the text of Isaiah 53."

Let me present the Rabbi and the readers of this article with a what if scenario.

Lets say you have a Jew, who doesn't care that much for Jesus, who is the most orthodox of Jews and is considered tzadik or righteous by his own community, he studies the TANAKH everyday (considering studying is important) and seeks to do his best to do what the Torah demands of him.

Suppose he reads Isaiah 53 for himself and he sees a parallel to Jesus WITHOUT Christian intervention and reads it with an objective mind with no bias clouding his thinking and concludes that Jesus is definitely in Isaiah 53.

If so, then it's not just Christians who would read it as a reference to Jesus, but some devout Jews have seen a parallel for themselves without the Christians coaxing them to look. Or you could argue the devout Jew hears the Christian claims and scoffs at them, but later checks for himself and thinks "Hmm, The Christians may be on to something".

I am not saying Rabbi Blumenthal has to accept my theory but it is worth considering objectively.

But now let us get into the passages themselves that are raised by the Rabbi himself.

Messiah and Israel interpretation attestation
Both these interpretations go pretty far back and are very ancient and interestingly both interpretations are recorded in patristic writings, Namely Justin Martyr.

For example in Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho, Martyr, an early Christian apologist quotes from Isaiah 53 to make a point about Christ:
"CHAPTER XIII -- ISAIAH TEACHES THAT SINS ARE FORGIVEN THROUGH CHRIST'S BLOOD.
"For Isaiah did not send you to a bath, there to wash away murder and other sins, which not even all the water of the sea were sufficient to purge; but, as might have been expected, this was that saving bath of the olden time which followed s those who repented, and who no longer were purified by the blood of goats and of sheep, or by the ashes of an heifer, or by the offerings of fine flour, but by faith through the blood of Christ, and through His death, who died for this very reason, as Isaiah himself said, when he spake thus: 'The Lord shall make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the nations and the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. Depart ye, depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, and touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her, be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, for ye go not with haste. For the Lord shall go before you; and the Lord, the God of Israel, shall gather you together. Behold, my servant shall deal prudently; and He shall be exalted, and be greatly glorified. As many were astonished at Thee, so Thy form and Thy glory shall be marred more than men. So shall many nations be astonished at Him, and the kings shall shut their mouths; for that which had not been told them concerning Him shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider. Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We have announced Him as a child before Him, as a root in a dry ground. He hath no form or comeliness, and when we saw Him He had no form or beauty; but His form is dishonoured, and fails more than the sons of men. He is a man in affliction, and acquainted with bearing sickness, because His face has been turned away; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. He bears our sins, and is distressed for us; and we esteemed Him to be in toil and in affliction, and in evil treatment But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. With His stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray. Every man has turned to his own way; and the Lord laid on Him our iniquities, and by reason of His oppression He opens not His mouth. He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before her shearer is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth. In His humiliation His judgment was taken away. And who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth. Because of the transgressions of my people He came unto death. And I will give the wicked for His grave, and the rich for His death, because He committed no iniquity, and deceit was not found in His mouth. And the Lord wills to purify Him from affliction. If he has been given for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed. And the Lord wills to take His soul away from trouble, to show Him light, and to form Him in understanding, to justify the righteous One who serves many well. And He shall bear our sins; therefore He shall inherit many, and shall divide the spoil of the strong, because His soul was delivered to death; and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bare the sins of many, and was delivered for their transgression. Sing, O barren, who bearest not; break forth and cry aloud, thou who dost not travail in pain: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife. For the Lord said, Enlarge the place of thy tent and of thy curtains; fix them, spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; stretch forth to thy right and thy left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and thou shalt make the desolate cities to be inherited. Fear not because thou art ashamed, neither be thou confounded because thou hast been reproached; for thou shalt forget everlasting shame, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood, because the Lord has made a name for Himself, and He who has redeemed thee shall be called through the whole earth the God of Israel. The Lord has called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, as a woman hated from her youth.'"

The interpretation that it's Israel can also be found in the writings of Origen, who records a group of Jews who believed this. This is in Against Celsus Book 1:
"CHAP. LV.
Now I remember that, on one occasion, at a disputation held with certain Jews, who were reckoned wise men, I quoted these prophecies; to which my Jewish opponent replied, that these predictions bore reference to the whole people, regarded as one individual, and as being in a state of dispersion and suffering, in order that many proselytes might be gained, on account of the dispersion of the Jews among numerous heathen nations. And in this way he explained the words, "Thy form shall be of no reputation among men;" and then, "They to whom no message was sent respecting him shall see;" and the expression, "A man under suffering." Many arguments were employed on that occasion during the discussion to prove that these predictions regarding one particular person were not rightly applied by them to the whole nation. And I asked to what character the expression would be appropriate, "This man bears our sins, and suffers pain on our behalf;" and this, "But He was wounded for our sins, and bruised for our iniquities;" and to whom the expression properly belonged, "By His stripes were we healed." For it is manifest that it is they who had been sinners, and had been healed by the Saviour's sufferings (whether belonging to the Jewish nation or converts from the Gentiles), who use such language in the writings of the prophet who foresaw these events, and who, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, appiled these words to a person. But we seemed to press them hardest with the expression, "Because of the iniquities of My people was He led away unto death." For if the people, according to them, are the subject of the prophecy, how is the man said to be led away to death because of the iniquities of the people of God, unless he be a different person from that people of God? And who is this person save Jesus Christ, by whose stripes they who believe on Him are healed, when "He had spoiled the principalities and powers (that were over us), and had made a show of them openly on His cross?" At another time we may explain the several parts of the prophecy, leaving none of them unexamined. But these matters have been treated at greater length, necessarily as I think, on account of the language of the Jew, as quoted in the work of Celsus."

Both interpretations are very ancient, thus the claim that Rashi was the first to say it was about Israel, is a stretch and not even historically founded.

The identity of the servant
Next we shall look at the passages raised by Blumenthal as well as his objections, let's take a look.
"Since two of Brown’s objections focus on the innocence of the servant, we will use this as the starting point for our discussion.
Brown’s assertion that - "throughout Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12, the servant is depicted as completely righteous" - is unjustified according to any interpretation. There is only one half of one verse which, if read incorrectly, would lead to this conclusion. So the statement "throughout Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12" is without foundation.
Let us turn our focus to the verse in question (53:9):
"And he set his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his deaths for no violence that he had done, nor for any deception that was in his mouth."
The prophet does not claim that the servant never committed an act of violence in his life neither does Isaiah tell us that the servant was never guilty of deception. In the book of Psalms David prays to God to save him from enemies that persecute him unjustly (Psalm 35:7, 38:21, 69:5). David is not claiming that he is sinless. In fact, in some of these very passages he admits his guilt before God (Psalm 38:5, 69:6). What David is saying is that he is not guilty of the crimes of which his persecutors accuse him. The servant of Isaiah is in the same situation. The governments of various countries deal with him as if he was a violent criminal, and they deal with the servant as if he had acquired wealth with deception. But the servant is innocent of these charges. Throughout history the two accusations hurled at the Jewish people was the accusation of violence[xliii], and the accusation that they had stolen the riches of the nations[xliv]. The world has dealt with the Jew as if he were guilty of these two crimes. The prophet is informing us that the servant is being persecuted unjustly. Isaiah is not telling us that the servant was totally sinless. He is telling us that the servant is innocent of the crimes of which he is accused. Two of Brown’s objections have just disappeared."

Very interesting was has been brought to the table by Rabbi Blumenthal, considering the subject of "doing no violence" is often used as a pretext by other counter-missionaries to refute Jesus. If Jesus did violence in the temple, then he is not condemned by that objection, considering what the Rabbi has presented. While I believe Jesus was sinless and not a deceiver, saying so will not convince Blumenthal, I have to prove such.

Jesus was innocent of the charges brought against him by his accusers and was charged falsely with crimes against them.

While David himself was indeed a sinner and acknowledged his guilt before, Christ had no need to, considering he himself was not contaminated.

"As we have seen, the prophet did not have much to say about the innocence of the servant. The prophet does describe the servant’s suffering and his rejection. The prophet describes the servant;
“his visage is disfigured in a manner that marked him as less than human, and his form is marred from that of men” (52:14). 
The prophet continues to tell us that the servant;
"has no form or comeliness that we should look at him and no countenance that we should desire him" (53:2)
Did anyone ever associate unsightliness with Jesus? Was Jesus ever put into a class of creatures that is less than human? There are countless pieces of art that demonstrate that the European mind saw the Jew as a repulsive creature whose appearance set them apart from the rest of humanity.
"Despised, isolated from men”
How was Jesus “isolated from men”? Was he confined to Ghettoes as were the Jews for centuries upon centuries? Was he barred from interacting freely with the citizenry[xlv] in dozens of countries as were the Jews? How many places of habitation were “off-limits” to Jesus?"

Isaiah 53:2 and 53:14 doesn't speak of Jesus' entire life as a whole, the description of his visage was how he looked in his suffering. As he went to Calvary, his appearance was marred, the people mocked him amongst other things. Also the appeal to Jesus seen as handsome in works of art is to be honest a red herring, not to mention those who did the art work didn't know what Jesus looked like to begin with. Jesus isolation from the people would take place at the cross as a result of those who mocked him.

Granted I am prepared to accept Israel as the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 in the historical context and I do take the Rabbinic objection into account, Have the Jews ALWAYS been isolated from men, or barred from certain places? I should think not.

Take a look at Jews in America and Australia, they have the freedom to teach Torah to many in those continents. After all, Jews4Judaism, Outreach Judaism, Yad L'Achim and other counter missionary organizations are allowed to spread their teachings to Jews and Gentiles across the globe, with minimal restraint.

The suffering and isolation of Israel and the Messiah, happen in a given context and is not something that would last forever.

"“a man of pains and acquainted with sickness”
The Christian scriptures report that Jesus was crucified, but does that make him stand out as - “a man of pains and acquainted with sickness”? Many people were crucified and many individuals suffered so much more than Jesus. But the suffering of the Jewish people sets them apart from any other national entity.
“we hid our faces from him and we esteemed him not" (53:3)
When did mankind hide their faces from Jesus? Mankind certainly did hide their faces from the Jews while the most horrid crimes were being committed against them.
"we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted" (53:4)
Did the suffering of Jesus ever play a role in the theology of those who rejected his mission? But both Christianity and Islam focus on the suffering of the Jewish people in their theological assessment of the Jew. According to both of these belief systems, the suffering of the Jewish people is the evidence of their lowly status in God’s eyes."

I couldn't care less what Islam has to teach, I am focused on the Judeo-Christian faiths have to say. While I do not dismiss that many of the Jews suffered and grant Isaiah 53 is about Israel historically, this doesn't refute the messianic application of the passage. If the suffering of the Jewish people validates them as the subject of the suffering servant, what if they are not suffering at all? The Jews have not always suffered and who suffered more or less isn't the question. Yeshua's suffering was greater by virtue of taking our sin upon himself and giving us his righteousness.

"The servant of God is buried with the wicked, but the Christian scriptures tell us that Jesus was buried with the rich and not with the wicked. God’s servant is to die with the rich, yet the Christian scriptures tell us that Jesus did not die with the rich, but with the wicked. It is obvious that Isaiah did not have Jesus in mind when he uttered these words.
The prophetic description clearly applies to the persecution of the Jewish people. Throughout the generations, the enemies of the Jew characterized the Jew as both rich and wicked. They justified the murder of the Jews because they believed that the Jew swindled the world of its wealth. The imagined wealth of the Jew triggered many pogroms and massacres. The preconception of the Jew as a criminal served as the basis for the disrespect that the killers showed for the Jewish dead.
When we focus on those verses which describe the servant’s physical attributes, it becomes clear that the prophet foresaw the suffering of the Jewish people. The suffering servant is the persecuted Jew."

This is a more tricky issue to reconcile compared to the rest of the passage, however I am willing to bring some commentators to the table.

"Pulpit Commentary

Verse 9. - And he made his grave with the wicked; rather, they assigned him his grave with the wicked. The verb is used impersonally. Those who condemned Christ to be crucified with two malefactors on the common execution-ground - "the place of a skull" - meant his grave to be "with the wicked," with whom it would naturally have been but for the interference of Joseph of Arimathaea. Crucified persons were buried with their crosses near the scene of their crucifixion by the Romans. And with the rich in his death; or, and (he was) with a rich one after his death. In the preceding clause, the word translated "the wicked" is plural, but in the present, the word translated "the rich" is singular. The expression translated "in his death" means "when he was dead," "after death" (comp. 1 Kings 13:31; Psalm 6:5). The words have a singularly exact fulfilment in the interment of our Lord (Matthew 27:57-60). Because. The preposition used may mean either "because" or "although." The ambiguity is, perhaps, intentional."

"Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death,.... These words are generally supposed to refer to a fact that was afterwards done; that Christ, who died with wicked men, as if he himself had been one, was buried in a rich man's grave. Could the words admit of the following transposition, they would exactly agree with it, "and he made his grave with the rich; and with the wicked in his death"; for he died between two thieves, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathaea, a rich man. Or the meaning perhaps in general is, that, after his death, both rich men and wicked men were concerned in his sepulchre, and about his grave; two rich men, Nicodemus and Joseph, in taking down his body from the cross, in embalming it, and in laying it in the tomb of the latter; and wicked men, Roman soldiers, were employed in guarding the sepulchre, that his disciples might not take away the body. Or the sense is, "he" the people, the nation of the Jews, through whose enmity against him he suffered death, "gave", intended, and designed, that "his grave" should be with "the wicked"; and therefore accused him to the Roman governor, and got him condemned capitally, and condemned to a Roman death, crucifixion, that he might be buried where such sort of persons usually were; and then it may be supplied, "but he made it"; that is, God ordered and appointed, in his overruling providence, that it should be "with the rich in his death", as it was. Aben Ezra observes, that the word which we translate "in his death", signifies a structure over a grave, "a sepulchral monument"; and then it may be rendered impersonally thus, "his grave was put or placed with the wicked, but his tomb", or sepulchral monument, was "with the rich"; his grave was indeed put under the care and custody of the wicked soldiers; yet a famous tomb being erected over it, at the expense of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathaea, which was designed for himself, made the burial of Christ honourable: which honour was done him, 

because he had done no violence: or injury to any man's person or property; had not been guilty of rapine and oppression, theft and robbery; murder and cruelty; he had not been a stirrer up of sedition, an encourager of mobs, riots, and tumults, to the harm of the civil government: 

neither was any deceit in his mouth: no false doctrine was delivered by him; he was no deceiver of the people, as he was charged; he did not attempt to seduce them from the true worship of God, or persuade them to believe anything contrary to the law of Moses, and the prophets; he was no enemy to church or state, nor indeed guilty of any manner of sin, nor given to any arts of trick and dissimulation; see 1 Peter 2:22. Some render the words, "though" (y) "he had done no violence", &c. and connect them with the following." (http://biblehub.com/isaiah/53-9.htm)

One interesting point raised by Nakdimon in an article he wrote some years ago in response to Osama Abdallah is also worth noting:

"since the Hebrew in Isaiah 53 is very poetic, the words of Isaiah are open to interpretation. The words are just as probable to read, that he was buried between the wicked, referring to those surrounding graves with their dead. It can also be referring to his burial by Yosef of Arimathea and all those that were with him, since the servant is described as the Righteous One that suffers for and bares the iniquities of the unrighteous multitude. In addition, you don’t know that the grave was in an isolated area since the Gospels don’t give us that information. All the Gospels say is that the grave was new and unused." (http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/nakdimon/rebuttals/ac/isaiah53_mistranslated.html)

Now let's move onto the next point.

Yisroel Blumenthal presents a number of options to a Christian with respect to the subject of Jesus.

Messiah's exaltation

"Brown’s second objection to the national interpretation of Isaiah 53 focuses on the exaltation of the servant. The beginning of the passage describes the great exaltation of the servant –

“My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted, and extolled and be very high” (52:13)

The prophet goes on to say that the kings of the nations will stand in awe of the servant’s greatness. How can this apply to Israel asks Brown? But Jesus, says Brown, is exalted and worshiped by the leaders of many nations.

The fact is that the prophet’s description of the exaltation of the servant actually eliminates Jesus as a candidate for the role of the servant of this passage. When was Jesus exalted, or when will he be exalted? There are three options for the believing Christian, and none of them fit the description of the prophet. Christians believe that after Jesus died, his disciples saw him exalted and sitting at the right side of God. But this cannot be the exaltation that the prophet had in mind. The prophet speaks of exaltation to the eyes of kings – hardly a fitting description of Jesus’ disciples. Furthermore, the servant is exalted in the eyes of those who had considered him sub-human and despised. This alleged exaltation of Jesus was only witnessed by those who were already totally devoted to him, and was not seen by anyone who hadn’t already placed their faith in him."

While I won't dismiss Isaiah 53 as talking about Israel as I have stated before in my writings I want to focus on why and how it can be about Jesus.

"A second option for the exaltation of Jesus is the exaltation that takes place in Christendom today. Much of the world believes Jesus to be a deity, and this includes kings of various nations, and people who had formerly rejected his claims for the Messiah-ship of Israel. Could this be the exaltation that the prophet was referring to? No, it cannot. The prophet describes the exaltation as being communicated not through the spoken word, but through physical vision:

“That which was not told to them they saw, and that which they have not heard they now perceive. Who has believed our report and upon who is the arm of the Lord revealed” (52:15, 53:1)

When the nations will see the “arm of the Lord” bared for the benefit of the servant, they will come to recognize his true nature. This will be something that the nations will see clearly, not something that has to be explained to them. The “glory” of Jesus is not visible in any sense of the word. It can only be “perceived” after one has heard a dissertation on Christian theology. This is not the exaltation that Isaiah is describing."

I sincerely doubt that every single person believes Jesus is in Isaiah 53 merely after a dissertation on Christian theology, it is a rash generalisation that is being presented here. One can reject a dissertation on both Jewish theology and Christian theology and this can go both ways. One could even reject it's about Israel even after a Rabbi has given a dissertation on the passage in question. The question is, WHEN is the arm of the Lord seen?

"Furthermore, and on a more foundational level, the entire thrust of the passage is that the servant is despised until his exaltation. It is his obvious exaltation that changes the people’s attitude towards him. According to Christian theology, the worshiper must first accept Jesus before Jesus can forgive his sins. In the case of Jesus, the attitude of the onlooker must be positive before the exaltation can be perceived – the precise opposite of the exaltation that Isaiah describes. In modern parlance we would say, that in the case of Jesus one has to “believe” in order to “see”. In the case of the servant it is the seeing that leads to the believing. The subjective glorification of Jesus is not the exaltation that Isaiah was telling us about.

Perhaps Isaiah was referring to the future exaltation of Jesus? Christians believe that when Jesus will return, all the earth will see his glory. Once again, this cannot be the interpretation of the passage. If there is any one person in the history of mankind who the prophet cannot be referring to, it must be Jesus of Nazareth. At this point in time there is no person who is more beloved than Jesus. Aside from the two billion or so Christians who consider him a god, you have almost one billion Muslims who regard him as a true prophet. The Hindus, almost a billion strong, also have a positive place for him in their heavenly scheme. The prophet is telling us that when the arm of the Lord is revealed, it will come as a shock to the onlookers. They will be surprised that the one they despise turns out to be God’s beloved servant. If there is any one person in the history of mankind who will not arouse surprise if the arm of the Lord is revealed upon him, it is Christendom’s Jesus. Jesus cannot be the servant Isaiah was talking about."

Let's grant what the Rabbi says as valid for a moment. If it's the obvious exaltation that changes a person's attitude towards the servant, it doesn't necessarily refer to an individual believing Jesus in order to see him. When he comes, the nations who do not believe will have a change in attitude to him and bow their knee to him, but it will be too late for them to accept him.

The individual who believes can perceive the glory of Christ early after their regeneration by Christ and be saved.

It is irrelevant what the Muslims and Hindus think about Jesus, the shock about him is that the Christians claims about him being the Messiah are proven true. Muslims, despite their reverence for Jesus and belief in him the Messiah, will be shocked as would Hindus with respect to Jesus' exaltation. Not to mention the Jews themselves would be surprised, even Maimonedes, Rashi, Vilma Goan etc.

For that matter, the Muslim's only reason for believing Jesus is the Messiah is because Muhammad picked it up from Christians. To be honest Islam is another story, considering it's an amalgamation of Jewish, Christian and pagan thinking and replete with idolatry.

There are cases in the TANAKH were the Jews had gained a deal of respect, including individuals among them, such as Mordercai's rise to fame as I call it when Xerxes discovered that Mordecai had saved his life and of course Daniel being rescued from the lion's den and Darius praising the LORD for it.

Do I assume because of them that Israel is not the servant on this basis? No.

There are other points the Rabbi has raised, but I need to save those for another time and I would need to look into them further as I have no answer at this time.

Genesis 18 and Exodus 24
Another issue of contention that is often raised is the issue of the Angel of the Lord being in essence God himself, or to his identity generally.
"Brown argues that the Messiah is to be a divine being. In recognition of the absurdity inherent in the belief that a man can be a god, Brown turns to the scriptures. Brown points to various instances in the Jewish scriptures where God seems to be represented by the human form - such as Genesis 18, and Exodus 24:10.
Indeed the scriptures do explicitly teach that God could use an angel to represent His glory to the people. God tells Moses that He will send an angel to guide the people. This angel bears God’s name. God warns Moses:
"hearken to his voice and do all that I speak" (Exodus 23:20 - 22).
It is the angel’s voice, but God has spoken. The same occurs in Genesis 22:16, and Numbers 22:35/23:5, where an angel speaks God’s words. But what does this have to do with Christianity? Christianity does not stop at the claim that Jesus was a representative of God to bring His words to the people, or to guide them and protect them - as preposterous as this claim would be. Christianity demands that the worship, the love, the awe and the adoration that belong to God, and to God alone, are to be directed towards Jesus. The attitude of self-negation and total devotion which belongs to no-one but God is demanded by the Jesus of Christianity. There is no subject on which God has spoken more clearly. God taught us at Sinai, through our conscience and through the scriptures, that, as His creations, our devotion belongs to no-one but to Him."

While you are free in the matter to suggest that the angel is a representative, this wouldn't undercut Jesus being God and appearing to the people as an angel FUNCTIONALLY. Jesus is Ha Shem, but he is not the Father, however this wouldn't detract from the fact he can function as the Father's agent or his representative. It's one member of the Trinity speaking on behalf of another, like in the examples that were given by Blumenthal himself where a representative can speak on God's behalf. If Jesus himself is YHWH, then he is worthy of the devotion that is given to God, considering he is in nature God (Philippians 2:5-11) but is a distinct person from the Father. If however he is not God, I think Jews and Christians already know the answer to that one.

"At Sinai God revealed Himself to His people in order that they know whom to worship (Exodus 20:19, Deuteronomy 4:15). If God would have wanted us to worship Jesus, He would have shown Jesus to us at Sinai. This consideration is of paramount importance. The Sinai revelation came before scripture. All of scripture must be read in the context of the Sinai revelation. Since the Sinai revelation precludes the worship of Jesus (and of any other being aside from God) then all of scripture must be read in that light."

He wouldn't have to show Jesus at all, considering as stated before where God acts and speaks with respect to his people, it has the Godhead functioning in unison in a context. Sinai doesn't have to show an individual member of the Godhead in order for a Christian's point to be valid.

"Through our conscience God reveals to us that we not give to one that which belongs to another. We are but God’s creations. It is not for us to choose to whom to devote our souls. It is only for us to recognize Who it is that our souls belong to, and to live in that recognition. Furthermore, God created us with a sense of self-respect; after all, we are created in His image. This sense of honor should prevent us from submitting ourselves in self-negation before another created being. Just imagine people prostrating themselves on the ground in worship of a human being standing there in front of them. Picture the scene in your mind, and think about it. That scene lies at the heart of Christianity. Do Christians not believe that when Jesus walked this earth he was worthy of the devotion appropriate toward the divine? Do they not claim that he was one hundred percent god?
In the scriptures God explains the basis for our devotion to Him:
"He is your father who created you, He made you and He established you" (Deuteronomy 32:6)
"Lift up your eyes on high and see who created these, He brings out their host by number" (Isaiah 40:26)
"He created the earth with his strength, He established the world with His wisdom, and with His understanding He spread the heavens" (Jeremiah 10:12)
"For all the gods of the nations are but idols, but the Lord made the heavens" (Psalm 96:5)
When Daniel rebukes Belshazzar for worshiping idols he condemns him for not glorifying "the God who holds your breath in his hand" (Daniel 5:23). The scriptural theme is clear. When the prophets contrast the worship of idols against the worship of God, they invariably point to the fact that God is our Creator. We owe our existence to Him and we only exist in the world that He created. A man who lived, breathed and died in a world he did not create is not deserving of our worship (Isaiah 2:22, Jeremiah 10:11)."

I think Christians can pretty much Amen the statement given by Blumenthal. If Jesus himself was merely an ordinary man and not Fully God and Fully Man, then forget about worshipping him as that would be rank idolatry, not to mention that would turn Christ into a God whom one has not known (Deuteronomy 13:2). Yes, Christians do believe Jesus is 100% God, and if he is, as said before, he is worthy of praise and adoration just as much as the Father. Lift our eyes on high to God, yes, The nations of the world prostrate before idols including the Muslims and Hindus? You bet.

Daniel 7:13-14
With respect to whether this passage refers to the Messiah himself, interestingly Rashi makes a very interesting point. I want you guys to read it here: http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16490#showrashi=true:

Although Rabbi Blumenthal did not raise Rashi, I thought I'd might bring him to the table and his comments regarding the relevant texts Blumenthal raised raised:
13I saw in the visions of the night, and behold with the clouds of the heaven, one like a man was coming, and he came up to the Ancient of Days and was brought before Him.יג. חָזֵה הֲוֵית בְּחֶזְוֵי לֵילְיָא וַאֲרוּ עִם עֲנָנֵי שְׁמַיָּא כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ אָתֵה הֲוָא וְעַד עַתִּיק יוֹמַיָּא מְטָה וּקְדָמוֹהִי הַקְרְבוּהִי:
one like a man was coming: That is the King Messiah.
and… up to the Ancient of Days: Who was sitting in judgment and judging the nations.
came: arrived, reached.
16I drew near to one of those standing [there], and I asked him the truth of all this, and he told it to me, and he let me know the interpretation of the matters.טז. קִרְבֵת עַל חַד מִן קָאֲמַיָּא וְיַצִּיבָא אֶבְעֵא מִנֵּהּ עַל כָּל דְּנָה וַאֲמַר לִי וּפְשַׁר מִלַּיָּא יְהוֹדְעִנַּנִי:
I drew near to one of those standing: I drew near to one of those standing there beside the Ancient of Days. The angels are called standing ones, as it is said: (Zech. 3:7): “among these who stand by (הָעמְדִים),” because they have no joints.
and I asked him the truth: [as translated,] and I asked him the truth.
18And the high holy ones will receive the kingdom, and they will inherit the kingdom forever and to all eternity."יח. וִיקַבְּלוּן מַלְכוּתָא קַדִּישֵׁי עֶלְיוֹנִין וְיַחְסְנוּן מַלְכוּתָא עַד עָלְמָא וְעַד עָלַם עָלְמַיָּא:
And the high holy ones will receive the kingdom: These are Israel, who will take the kingdom from the fourth one.
27And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under all the heavens will be given to the people of the high holy ones; its kingdom is a perpetual kingdom, and all dominions will serve and obey [it]."כז. וּמַלְכוּתָא וְשָׁלְטָנָא וּרְבוּתָא דִּי מַלְכְוָת תְּחוֹת כָּל שְׁמַיָּא יְהִיבַת לְעַם קַדִּישֵׁי עֶלְיוֹנִין מַלְכוּתֵהּ מַלְכוּת עָלַם וְכֹל שָׁלְטָנַיָּא לֵהּ יִפְלְחוּן וְיִשְׁתַּמְּעוּן:
and obey: They will obey his command to execute it.

What I find interesting is that Rabbi Blumenthal rejects this prophecy to be Messianic in it's content. I won't dispute what he said about Israel acquiring the Kingdom in Daniel 7:18, 27 mainly because that is a valid point that Blumenthal has raised.

From a Rabbinic standpoint, you could say that the Jews co-reign with the Messiah and that the Kingdom thanks to the Messiah belongs to them forever. If the Messiah were to receive the worship that is given to God, the people would certainly not receive that devotion. I wouldn't mind hearing a perspective on the subject of the Kingdom belonging to the Jews due to the Messiah.

It is also worth noting the earliest translation of the Septuagint applies the term, "latreuo" to the figure in Daniel 7:13-14, which does refer to the service and worship given to God alone.

Keith Thompson in his article response to Ibn Anwar notes the following:

"When the Son of Man receives worship or service the word in the original Aramaic (the language that Daniel 7 was written in) is pelach. The evidence affirming that according to Daniel and the Old Testament this refers to unique divine service or worship which is due to God alone is strong.

First, in every reference where this word is used in the Aramaic portions of the Old Testament it is always the service or worship belonging to God or the service or worship pagans give to false gods. In fact there are places which explicitly show that pelach should only be given to God. Therefore according to the Old Testament it refers to service/worship of deity. It is never generic service or reverence which one shows to a superior or a man approved by God in the Old Testament.

The word is used in Ezra 7:24 of “servants of this house of God” – divine service towards God. The word is used in Daniel 3:12 of divine service to false gods. It’s used in Daniel 3:17 of divine service to the true God. It’s used of Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:18 with respect to a refusal to offer divine service to false gods. In Daniel 3:28 the word is used in reference to the divine service only God is to receive where we are told that Daniel’s friends “yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.” It’s also used in 6:16, 20 with respect to divine service to God. The word is also used in Daniel 7:27 in reference to service to God despite the fact that this text is often misunderstood as referring to service towards the saints of God.(6)

According to Gesenius’s Hebrew lexicon pelach carries the following meanings: “…to labour, to serve, often in the Targums; spec[ially] to serve or worship God…Dan. 3, 12 sq. 7, 14. 27.”(7) Notice how Gesenius affirms Daniel 7:14’s use of the word denotes worship to God.

The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon assigns to pelach the following meaning: “pay reverence to, serve (deity)”(8), and it attaches the latter meaning to Daniel 7:14’s use of the word as well. In agreement is Stephan R. Miller who in his commentary on Daniel notes that “… in every other instance where the verb פְּלַח (‘worship’; ‘serve,’ NRSV) occurs in biblical Aramaic (nine times), it has reference to service (worship) rendered a deity (Dan 3:12, 12, 17-18, 28; 6:16[17], 20[21]; 7:14; Ezra 7:24).”(9)

All of this shows that according to the Old Testament pelach is only to be given to God. Although the later (2ndcentury A.D.) uninspired Targum literature (e.g., Targum Onkelos, Genesis) departed from this strict Old Testament usage by teaching humans received pelach, this is not reflective of the Old Testament’s orthodox usage or position. This would be similar to how in the Quran it is taught that only Allah is Ar-Rabb (the Lord), and yet in light of this seeing Arabic literature written hundreds of years after the Quran assigning to creatures the same title. This wouldn’t mean that according to the Quran or its language that it is acceptable to identify creatures as the Lord, as a deserved title. Just like the Quranic teaching is that only Allah is the Lord (S. 3:64 and Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 1:2), the Old Testament teaches only God is to receive pelach. Hence, when one allows for logical parameters to establish word usage we see that pelach is to be given to God alone according to the Old Testament.

To further show that pelach is worship due to God alone in the Old Testament, the committee of scholars, from various positions and backgrounds, who translated the NIV translated Daniel 7:14 in the following manner: as “… all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. These scholars could clearly see that the word pelach refers to the worship, not just service, which God demands that all the nations give to this divine Son of Man.

We, therefore, have strong exegetical, lexicographical and scholarly support for the fact that Jesus receives service/worship which is due to God alone in Daniel 7:14. It is therefore understandable why Ibn Anwar chose not to interact with the original languages but instead focused on later Greek translations of Daniel.

The later LXX translated the word pelach found in Daniel 7:14 into the Greek work latreuo as found in Ralph’s edition and other Greek editions. This Greek word latreuo means divine worship due to God alone.(10) Ibn Anwar concedes this point in his article by quoting Anthony Buzzard who affirms this meaning of latreuo. The fact that this choice was made provides more strong proof that the service/worship Jesus receives in Daniel 7:14 is divine worship due to God. However, in spite of all this evidence Ibn Anwar claims that the 2nd century A.D. Greek version of Daniel written by Theodotion, which instead renders Daniel 7:14’s pelach into the Greek worddouloō, is a better choice of translation. This word douloō has a broader range of meaning and doesn’t necessarily have to refer to divine service/worship to God, though it very well can mean that.(11) It’s important to note that Theodotion’s translation comes after the earlier LXX translation, and that the LXX’s rendering of Daniel 7:14 was already being used as an argument for Jesus receiving latreuo by patristic writers before the non-Christian Jew Theodotion produced his Greek translation of Daniel. Thus, this chronology needs to be kept in mind." (Keith Thompson, Daniel 7:13-14 and Christ’s Deity: Answering Ibn Anwar’s Eisegesis: http://www.reformedapologeticsministries.com/2012/05/daniel-713-14-and-christs-deity.html).

From a Christian standpoint, One thing I can say about the section with the Holy People of the Most High is those who believe in Christ will be co-heirs with him in heaven and the kingdom belongs to them, Jew and Gentile who have been washed by the blood of Jesus. The Kingdom is the property of the Father and the Son and the saints co reign with Christ. This doesn't mean I am advocating replacement theology just to clarify, considering the church doesn't replace Israel as I have mentioned before with respect to the covenants.

One may ask, wouldn't Jesus worship the Father though? Yes he would, He is still subject to the Father in terms of position and status, not essence and nature.

The Atonement
With respect to the points raised on the subject of atonement, Yisroel Blumenthal raises some intriguing points which I think need to be addressed.

Concessions
Firstly, let us deal with the two texts in Hebrews 10:4 and Hebrews 9:22
"10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”[a]
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

"9:18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”[e] 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

Both these texts are pitted against each other to try and say that there is a contradiction. However this isn't the case.

In Hebrews 10:4, The point the writer is making is the animals were insufficient in taking away sins completely and all they could do is cover a person until the Messiah came to take away their sins, that's all it is saying. The author is saying that Christ's death is a far superior atonement than the animal sacrifices because it actually takes away our sins. The New Testament states that the sacrificial system was replaced by something better or rather fulfilled in Christ by his vicarious death.

Now it has been claimed by many such as Rabbi Michael Skobac of Jews for Judaism and Paul Bilal Williams, A a former Muslim apologist, that Leviticus 5:11-13 refutes Hebrews 9:22, let's take a look:

Leviticus 5:11-13
"11 “‘If, however, they cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, they are to bring as an offering for their sin a tenth of an ephah[b] of the finest flour for a sin offering. They must not put olive oil or incense on it, because it is a sin offering. 12 They are to bring it to the priest, who shall take a handful of it as a memorial[c] portion and burn it on the altar on top of the food offerings presented to the Lord. It is a sin offering. 13 In this way the priest will make atonement for them for any of these sins they have committed, and they will be forgiven. The rest of the offering will belong to the priest, as in the case of the grain offering.’”"

This text is merely a concession for those who were poor, hence this was only something to carry out in extreme circumstances, it doesn't override the general or overall principle that blood was required. Jamieson-Fausset Brown has made the following point regarding this issue:

"22. almost—to be joined with "all things," namely almost all things under the old dispensation. The exceptions to all things being purified by blood are, Ex 19:10; Le 15:5, &c.; 16:26, 28; 22:6; Nu 31:22-24.

without—Greek, "apart from."

shedding of blood—shed in the slaughter of the victim, and poured out at the altar subsequently. The pouring out of the blood on the altar is the main part of the sacrifice (Le 17:11), and it could not have place apart from the previous shedding of the blood in the slaying. Paul has, perhaps, in mind here, Lu 22:20, "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."

is—Greek, "takes place": comes to pass.

remission—of sins: a favorite expression of Luke, Paul's companion. Properly used of remitting a debt (Mt 6:12; 18:27, 32); our sins are debts. On the truth here, compare Le 5:11-13, an exception because of poverty, confirming the general rule."

Now I am familiar with the answer given by Michael Brown when this text has been raised to him by the Rabbinic Camps, but the text doesn't give even implicit support to what Brown has stated regarding Leviticus 5:11-13, leading me to reject his assertion to find a more biblical conclusion. As to who wrote Hebrews, that is another issue altogether.

Obedience and Sacrifice
One point that is often raised by Yisroel Blumenthal is the subject of repentance and obedience make a sacrifice and offering meaningful. Not much to say here in this particular section because a Christian will agree with repentance whole heartily, one who is going to agree with the NT which repeatedly tells Christians to live holy lives.

I have been informed that Jews want the temple and sacrifice to return and they believe by their faith, repentance, prayer etc, they can merit the temple and it's operation again. My apologies If I misunderstand the Jewish position here.

All I can say is, good luck trying to merit the temple.

Conclusion
I will not be proclaiming victory or defeat in this article, because that is not the criteria of truth as both sides should know. One needs to be a seeker of truth and that is indeed the most important factor laid out for us.

Saying "so and so converted to another religion" is indeed a meaningless statement that proves neither side to be true, that's something Blumenthal and I agree upon.

One thing I will say however, is this subject of the identity of the Messiah is not some mere doctrinal difference that one can disagree over at a family dinner, this is a salvation issue with eternal consequences placed before us on both sides.

Once again I exhort Jews and Christians to read carefully what Rabbi Blumenthal has to say and what I have to say and come to your own conclusion.

Answering Judaism.

Addendum: To those who have posted on my articles providing responses in comments, I am aware of the comments and hope to respond in the future, so don't bother re-posting the objections here. The objections I bring are specifically addressing Yisroel Blumenthal and the comments HE made. 

Points on Daniel 9:24-27 have been made here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/addendum-to-contra-blumenthal-daniel.html

Also, other points on Isaiah 53 if the Lord Wills may be addressed in an addendum to Contra Blumenthal.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you stated that one must seek the truth. This dovetails well with my previous post with respect to manipulation of the Hebrew Bible. I realize there is debate about the author of Hebrews although Jerome and Augustine attributed it to Paul. Nevertheless, Hebrews 10 posits the concept of Jesus being the final sacrifice for all mankind.

    The author then puts the words of King David into the mouth of Jesus with reference to Psalm 40. This Psalm has been used by the church as a messianic prophecy stating among other things that the prophecy that the messiah's offering of himself would replace all sacrifices (in Psalm 40) was fulfilled in the crucifixtion and Hebrews 10 confirms this.

    However, this is untrue. First, the words were spoken by King David-there is a superscription in the Hebrew Bible attesting to this. These words were never spoken by Jesus. The superscription identifies King David as the author of this psalm. He
    describes how his trust in God has been rewarded. King David explains that
    gratitude is best displayed by obeying the Torah, and how he has proclaimed
    God's wonders in public testimony. He pleads for God's continued help and
    protection.

    The author of Hebrews has Jesus saying:"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
    6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
    7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”

    Here is the translation from the Hebrew of what David actually wrote:"You desired neither sacrifice nor meal offering; You dug ears for me; a burnt offering or a sin offering You did not request.Then I said, "Behold I have come," with a scroll of a book written for me. O God, I desired to do Your will and [to have] Your law within my innards."

    This raises multiple questions. First, who gave the author the authority to put the words of King David into the mouth of Jesus? Second how does ..."you dug ears for me"... get translated into "but a body you prepared for me"? Third, how does "behold I have come with a scroll of a book written for me" get translated into " here I am- it is written about me in the scroll"? Fourth, who gave the author the authority to state the the temple sacrificial system was terminated? Fifth, why does the church omit other passages spoken by David where he states - For countless evils have encompassed me; my iniquities
    have overtaken me and I could not see [them because] they are more
    numerous than the hairs of my head, and my heart has forsaken me" Could it be that these passages would make Jesus a sinner and render him unfit as the unblemished final sacrifice? Finally, how does the last sentence in Hebrews " I have come to to do your will, my God" square with the trinity? If Jesus is co-equal with the father his will should be co-equal as well. Just another blatant example of manipulation of the Hebrew Bible for christological purposes.

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