Refuting the Missionaries: Jewish Interpretations of Deuteronomy

* Deuteronomy 6.4

"Hear O Israel! The Lord is our G-d, the Lord alone!"

Christian Claim: The Zohar's commentary on Deuteronomy 6:4 (the Shema) confirms the Trinity because the word "echad" doesn't mean an absolute one, but, on the contrary, it signifies a compound unity.

Jewish Refutation: Unfortunately, this idea is a fraud stirred up by an individual known as Itsak Leib Jaszovics (also known as "Rabbi Leopold Cohn"), the founder of Chosen People Ministries. The word echad in the Hebrew language functions in precisely the same manner as the word "one" does in the English language. In the English language it can be said, "these two socks constitute one pair of socks," or alternatively "There is one dollar in my hand." When relating to these examples, it is simple to see how the word "one" can mean many things in one (as in the case of the socks) or one alone (as in the case of the dollar).

Although the Hebrew word echad functions in the exact same manner, Christian fundamentalists will never offer biblical examples where the word echad means one alone. Thus, by only presenting scriptural verses which Christianity feels supports their claim (Genesis 1.5 and Numbers 13.23, for example), they are unbalancing the truth by creating an illusion to beginners that the word echad is synonymous with a compound unity. To view examples of the word echad as one, see Deuteronomy 17.6 and Ecclesiastes 4.8.

To conclude our study, it must be reemphasized that the Hebrew word echad works the same way as the word one in English. The way the reader can tell if it refers to one alone or a compound unity is the same way the word "one" is understood in the English language: from the context of the verse.

* Deuteronomy 11.6

"Be careful that your heart not be tempted to go astray and worship other gods (Elokim), bowing down to them."

Christian Claim: The word Elokim is plural and reflects the Trinity.

Jewish Refutation: If this name is plural to reflect the trinity, then how can it also apply to false gods? In truth, G-d's names in the Bible are descriptions of the ways He interacts with the world. For instance, the name Adonoi means that G-d is our master. The name Elokim is the only name of G-d used in the early chapters of Genesis, when G-d is creating the universe. If the name implies anything plural, it is that G-d is the sum of all the powers in the world. When people worship created things, like the sun or the moon, they are worshiping things which G-d endowed with power. The sun causes light, heat and is essential for photosynthesis. The moon effects the tides in the ocean. These things have power, therefore the Torah calls them Elokim. We are warned not to worship them because their power is from G-d, and worshiping anything He created diminishes His honor. G-d's names don't imply multiplicity, they describe His manifestation in the world.

* Deuteronomy 18.15

"The Lord, your G-d, will raise up for you a prophet like me (Moses) from among you, of your brethren; to him you shall hearken."

Christian Claim: Jesus was a prophet like Moses who was raised up in accordance with Acts 3.23.

Jewish Refutation: At their website, Jews for Jesus' cites a Talmudic reference to support their claim that Deuteronomy 18.15 refers to Jesus. Before quoting their citation of the Talmudic reference, one cannot help but question why Jews for Jesus has quoted from the Talmud in the first place.

Most of the time, the mere fact that a statement is from "the rabbis" is sufficient enough to completely discredit that statement in the minds of believers in Jesus, regardless of the merits of that statement. After all, the Greek Testament says "Don't give heed to Jewish myths and commandments of men (rabbis); their minds and consciences are defiled, they deny God and are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for good works" (Titus 1:14-16). In other words, the mere attempt to use Rabbinic sources to support Christian beliefs violates the teachings of the Christian Bible, as cited above in Titus 1:14-16. Christians are so desperate to "prove" that Deuteronomy 18.15 speaks of Jesus that they are even willing to resort to the hated rabbis that they would normally never listen to.

The reference, which they feel proves their point without question, is as follows:

"A prophet from the midst of thee." In fact the Messiah is such a Prophet ..." (Ralbag, Gersonides on Deuteronomy 18:15-18).

This Talmudic reference, like the verse itself, does not say the verse is about the messiah, but indicates the verse is about a prophet. Obviously, not all prophets are the messiah.

The verse in question doesn't refer to specific individuals, but to future prophets in general. There were many prophets and children of prophets. It would be ridiculous to claim this is a messianic prophecy that refers only to one individual when it so clearly refers to future prophets in general.

* Deuteronomy 21.23

"You must not let his corpse remain on the stake overnight, but must bury him the same day. For an impaled body is an affront to G-d: you shall not defile the land that the Lord your G-d is giving you to possess."

Christian Claim: This verse proves that the messiah could not be left on cross overnight. According to the Bible, Jesus was not on the cross overnight.

Jewish Refutation: This verse is, once again, not a prophecy, but, on the contrary, a law. When G-d mentions the word "must" it is obviously a law of G-d. Nevertheless, this verse refers to the corpses that were killed by one of the methods of the Jewish execution (none of the three methods include crucifixion), and these corpses were then hung after they were dead. This law is stating that all individuals deserve to be buried, even criminals, and this law establishes that it is a desecration of G-d's Name to leave a corpse out like this.

But, crucifixion is not is strictly forbidden by Jewish law as a form of execution. The Romans, however, adopted crucifixion from the Carthaginians, who used it as a form of human sacrifice because they thought the slow, agonizing deaths pleasing to their "gods." The Romans thought it was a great way to deal with rebels.

When you are shown passages by fundamentalists, you must ask yourself if the verse presented is indeed a prophecy because it is very possible that it is a law. Further, ask yourself if the passage can refer to only one person, or to many people.

HOT LINKS Homepage