Some missionaries claim that Jews "made up" the Noahide "laws" (mitzvot). One recently claimed "Noah, I am pretty sure never heard of the 613 Torah precepts. How can a religion that began before Judaism be a subset of Judaism's laws? To me, the 613 Torah precepts are "add-ons" to the seven Noahide laws that prexisted Mt.Sinai - as a "gentile" religion, yes? No Jews then."
This missionary is somehow under the mistaken view that the "Noahide" mitzvot came AFTER the 613 mitzvot.
G-d gave seven mitzvot to all of mankind (these are what are called the Noahide mitzvot).
These seven are found IN the Torah preceding Sinai and what the missionary is calling "Jewish laws" are not laws, they are mitzvot -- a command.
Here are the seven mitzvot which apply to all humans. They are all found in B'reshit (Genesis) BEFORE there were any Jews.
1. Prohibition against murder - B'reshit / Genesis 4:23-24, 9:6
2. Probition against idolatry - B'reshit / Genesis 4:26
3. Prohibition against blasphemy - B'reshit / Genesis 4:26
4. Prohibition of sexual misconduct - B'reshit / Genesis 1:28, 4:22, 6:3, 6:12
5. Prohibition against failure to establish courts - B'reshit / Genesis 1:28, 9:6
6. Prohibition against theft - B'reshit / Genesis 6:11
7. Prohibition against eating live meat (e.g. tearing the limb off of a living animal and eating it) - B'reshit / Genesis 9:4
Let's revisit history (chronology -- the order in which things happened).
Which came first -- the Jewish covenant or the Noahide covenant?
Noah / נוֹחַ was not a Jew. Noah lived ten generations beforeAvraham, who is considered to be the first Jew.
The term “Noahide" just means “descendent of Noah” and hence includes every human being alive in the World today. The term has come to be used to speak of people who consciously follow the seven mitzvot given to mankind up until Noah's time as there are definitely people alive today who are idolaters, who murder, and so on. Thus the term is normally applied to non-Jews who have accepted the seven mitzvot which were given to humans up through Noah.
G-d LATER (time passing, aka "chronological order") gave an additiona 606 mitzvot to the Jews. The list of the seven can also be found in Sanhedrin 56a (the Talmud).
The common mistake seems to be (as with the missionary in the first sentence) that the Jews "added" up the seven mitzvot "later" -- but clearly they are all found in B'reshit / Genesis and they apply to all human beings -- Jew and gentile.
Jews do not proselytize -- we do not try to convert non-Jews to Judaism. The reason is simple: there is no need for a non-Jew to be a Jew. The Talmud tells us that there are 70 families (biblical nations) with 70 paths within humanity. The 70 nations of the world came from and are named after the 70 descendants of the three sons of Noah which are listed in B'rsheit / Genesis 10:1-32. During Sukkot, in the days of the Temple, 70 bull offerings were brought -- each sacrifice corresponding to each of the 70 nations of the world.
Each human being has his or her path within a path. Yet, there is one universal basis for us all. The role of a Jew is as a nation of priests to the other nations -- a "light unto the nations" leading by example and by teaching those who want to learn. . .
Many Christians are taught that the Torah was not written by Moses, but that it was written over an extensive period of time by multiple authors. This is called the JEDP theory (sometimes called the documentary hypothesis (DH) or the Graf - Wellhausen hypothesis) -- and many Christians are taught this theory as if it is fact.
This JEDP idea was the theory of one Julius Wellhausen (May 17, 1844 – January 7, 1918) -- a German, and son of a Protestant minister and Karl Heinrich Graf (February 28, 1815 – July 16, 1869), also a German Protestant. These men's education was at the hands of other Protestant theologians including Georg Heinrich August Ewald of the 19th century.
Graf and Wellhausen seemed to have been a product of their anti-Semitic 19th century German world. Graf - Wellhausen based their theory on the fact that because the bible uses two names for G-d (there are actually far more than two!) there must have been a "merging" of two gods / two religions. They thought that Moses could not have written the Torah (thus lessening its value) because the Torah uses the Tetragrammaton (holiest name) and "elohim" (which means a mighty judge / ruler and is used to speak of G-d, false gods, angels and even humans) to speak of G-d. They decided that since there were "two names" there had to be different authors. This theory divides the Torah into four separate sources:
"J". J is for "jehovah" (a made up name since there are no "j" sounds in Hebrew) -- but this would be G-d's holiest four letter name, the Tetragrammaton.
"E". E is where the title "elohim" is used to describe G-d. There is not much text from "E" in the JEDP and it supposedly comes from the northern kingdom of Israel (not the southern kingdom of Judah).
"D". D is Deuteronomy. "D" is thought to be composed during King Josiah's reign (640s - 600ish BCE). "D" is a pure legal code that exalts Jerusalem.
"P". P is the Priestly text. It was thought to be the latest, post-Exile (444 BCE forward) and focuses on Temple related, priestly rituals.
Did anyone bother to explain to Wellhausen that the "names" for G-d are really descriptions? For example, "elohim" / אֱלֹהִים (a word used to speak of humans, angels, false gods and G-d) means a mighty judge. The word "adon" / אדן means a lord or master and so on. . .
Although many Christians are taught the JEDP as if it is "fact" it has actually been disproved by archeology -- which shows that there is historical proof for the Torah (and 'nach) dating much farther back than there theories would contend.
"On Bible Criticism and its Counter Arguments" from Torah Emet: "Umberto Cassuto (1883-1951) and Yechezkel Kaufman (1889- 1963)further demolished the theory, showing that Wellhausen's observations contradicted his conclusions. Kaufman's main contribution lies in his thesis that monotheism was not, as Wellhausen and others had stated, a gradual departure from paganism, but an entirely new development. Israel's monotheism began with Moshe and was a complete revolution in religious thought. . .
"Special mention should be made of the famous archaeologist William F. Alright. He convincingly demonstrated that archaeological research did not support, and in fact often contradicted, this view of history. In many of his works, Albright destroyed the very foundations upon which Wellhausen's edifice had been erected. . .
"In his classic work Critique of Religion and Philosophy" (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978) p. 377, Walter Kaufmann discusses Wellhausen's as well as other forms of Higher Criticism and shows one of the major failures of these schools in the following observation: Imagine a Higher Critic analyzing Goethe's Faust, which was written by a single human being in the course of sixty years. The scenes in which the heroine of Part One is called Gretchen would be relegated to one author; the conflicting conceptions of the role of Mephistopheles would be taken to call for further divisions, and the Prologue in Heaven would be ascribed to a later editor, while the prelude on the stage would be referred to yet a different author. Our critic would have no doubt whatsoever that Part Two belongs to a different age and must be assigned to a great many writers with widely different ideas. The end of Act IV, for example, points to an anti-Catholic author who lampoons the church, while the end of Act V was written by a man, we should be told, who, though probably no orthodox Catholic, was deeply sympathetic to Catholicism. Where do we find more inconsistencies in style and thought and plan: in Goethe's Faust or in the Five Books of Moses?
. . .What can be said with certainty is that honest Bible scholars no longer maintain that the Torah is the result of different fragments edited and reedited. The Torah is now taken to be Mosaic in origin and content, and it has been acknowledged that much of this tradition was already well established in pro-Mosaic times. Although this position has moved considerably in the direction of the Jewish traditional view, it has definitely not thrown in the towel to the tradition concerning the verbal infallibility of the Torah. . .
One of Graf-Wellhausen's main points was that the Torah wasn't written until after the Babylonian Exile. Archelogical discoveries in Israel alone disprove this -- as does the discovery of the silver scrolls (shown in the image for this post) from כָּתֵף הִינוֹם which contain the priestly blessing from Bamidbar (Numbers). The silver scrolls have been dated to about 600 BCE and their very existence destroys a major contention of the JEDP theory.
Our מסורה (masorah) along with the written Torah tells us that we Jews have ransmitted the Torah and its history from generation to generation in an unbroken line. Unlike most religions where someone supposedly saw something, communicated one on one with G-d (with no witnesses) or passed on stories to anonymous followers Judaism is based on the 3 million eye and ear witnesses at Sinai who heard G-d speak and who then told their children and their children's children from that generation to this one.
In an unbroken line.
This is called national revelation. The Torah states (Deuteronomy 4:9-13): "(Moses told the Israelites:) Only beware for yourself and greatly beware for your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have beheld. Do not remove this memory from your heart all the days of your life. Teach your children and your children's children about the day that you stood before the Lord your G-d at Chorev (Sinai)..."
This is a link to lectures by Prof. Moshe David (Umberto) Cassuto on the Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP). The author notes that some of the JEPD theorists may have had an anti-Jewish bent and so were trying to distance us Jews from our own bible. "Solomon Schechter famously equated “higher criticism” with “higher anti-Semitism." . . .one can indeed find anti-Jewish references. . . one example concerns. . .David’s efforts to procure mateirals for the construction of the First Temple under Solomon. . . Wellhausen writes, “1 Chr. 22-29 is a startling instance of that statistical phantasy of the Jews which revels in vast sums of money on paper.”
The author goes on to state that the underpinnings of Wellhausen’s hypothesis (JEPD) may be seen to have an affinity with Protestant theology.
The prophet Hosea wrote "My people has been eliminated for lack of knowledge; for you have spurned knowledge and I will spurn you from serving Me; and as you have forgotten the Torah of your G-d, I too, will forget your children." Hoshea / Hosea 4:6.
In other words: throughout history Jews have turned their backs on G-d and followed false gods -- many out of ignorance. This was true in the days of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, and it is true today.
Consider one Moishe (Martin) Rosen (founder of Jews for Jesus).
Rosen was born a Reform Jew and was raised in a secular home.
Ruth Rosen, his daughter, wrote about her father "A certain amount of religious activity was expected in order to show loyalty to the Jewish people, but as is often the case, those activities neither stemmed from nor inspired deeply held spiritual convictions in the Rosen home. Moishe's father maintained that "all religion is a racket," and his mother, while not sharing her husband's cynicism, did not seem interested in religion. It would be fair to say that Moishe's childhood was strongly shaped by Jewish values, but not by Jewish faith."
Limited Jewish education (if any) and no Jewish faith.
This then is the person who tried to convince other Jews that one could be a Christian and a Jew -- an uneducated, unlearned man with no Jewish faith -- according to his very own daughter (in her biography of Rosen).
Rosen was born to Reform Jewish parents from Austria and converted with his wife to Christianity in 1953.
In 1957 Rosen was an ordained Baptist minister (Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey). He led Hebrew Christian congregations and worked for the Chosen Peoples Ministry and eventually "Jews for Jesus." Rosen was a Christian through and through -- a Baptist who was born a Jew and rejected Judaism for Christianity.
These are quotes directly from his biography on the Jews for Jesus website. "Diploma, Northeastern Bible College, 1957; DD, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, 1986. Ordained to ministry Baptist Church, 1957."
As you can see, it is clear that he became an ORDAINED BAPTIST MINISTER IN 1957 and he was also a graduate of two Christian colleges; Northeast Bible College and the Western Conservative Baptist Seminary!
Here is more information on him which was taken from the Jews for Jesus website: "Trustee Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, Portland, Oreg., 1979-85, 86-91, International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, Oakland, Calif., 1979-89; board of directors, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, 1987-91. Received Hero of the Faith Award from the Conservative Baptist Assoc. of America on July 7, 1997."
Clearly, this is not the resume of a Jew, but of a Christian minister! Here is the proof link so you can see all of this on the Jews for Jesus website.
However, there is even more evidence that Rosen was a Christian right up to his death. Reverend Rosen's resume used to be found on the Carlsbad Community Church website, "Reverend Rosen is a member of two churches, the First Baptist Church in San Francisco and Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena (under "Home Churches")."
Rosen talked about his ministry experiences. This is a direct quote from the Jews for Jesus website. "So What's a Pastor Good For Anyway? By Moishe Rosen, Founder. . . "While training to become a minister, I worked part-time at Sears and Roebuck. One of my co-workers made a not-so-funny joke when he said, "I wouldn't mind being a preacher myself. All you have to do is preach two or three sermons a week, and you can spend the rest of the time playing golf." I'm sure he knew that a minister puts in more time than just the stated hours of the church service, but in all seriousness I doubt if most people have that understanding. The church needs instruction in this area from an objective source."
To get an idea of Reverend Rosen's thinking, I believe it helps to see where he studied. Please read the mission section of the Western Conservative Baptist Seminary-this is a school trying to produce CHURCH leaders. Obviously, it is not a Jewish educational institution
It seems pretty obvious that a real Jewish group would not be founded by a Church minister!
Further, Reverend Rosen loved the church. Here are some quotes from the late Reverend Rosen on his church: "I love my church! I find it sad when I meet other Christian s who do not seem to love theirs. Maybe they don't know they are supposed to love their churches. . .I feel great loyalty to my own church in downtown San Francisco. When I am not out of town preaching, you can find me there in the pew. I like the pastor and the preaching, but I also find other elements of equal importance. Though our congregation is somewhat small, we carry on an extensive missionary program. We sponsor a Christian school. We have a Sunday morning bus ministry.
"When I joined that church, I asked G-d to help me love the people and the pastor, and I do. I would never say that my church is perfect or that it is in any way better than the churches others belong to and ought to love. Nevertheless, because it is my church, I have made a commitment to love it and to be loyal to it."
I love my church?
Great loyalty to his church in San Francisco?
Clearly this is a Christian , not a Jew speaking. Here is the proof. The quotes come from the 1st, 11th and 12th paragraphs.
According to Rosen his mother's parents were "Reform Jews from Austria", his paternal grandfather was Orthodox, and although Rosen's father regularly attended an Orthodox synagogue he was "not religious" and viewed religion as a "racket".
Rosen married Ceil Starr on 18 August 1950. They became Christians in 1953. After graduating Northeastern Bible College, Rosen made a commitment to be a missionary to Jews from 1956.
He was ordained as a Conservative Baptist minister in 1957. He felt a need for a more visible kind of evangelism and developed new techniques of communication which culminated in what became known as The Jews for Jesus movement in 1969.
In 1973 Rosen left the employment of the American Board of Missions to the Jews (now called Chosen People Ministries) to incorporate a separate mission which became known as Jews for Jesus ministries.
In 1986 he received a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He stepped down from his position as Executive Director in 1996, but continued to be employed as a staff missionary and remained one of fifteen board members until his death.
Raised with minimal (or no) Jewish education and trained as a Baptist. This is a pretty typical scenario for Jews who become Christian. Michael L. Brown is another prime example -- a secular Jewish kid who became a drug addict and thief in his teen years who and then turned to Christianity. . . Unfortunately this uneducated Jews not only delude themselves but they take other souls along with them. . .
A sad, all too familiar story, resulting from a lack of Torah.
Rosen himself admitted to being a "petty" thief in his teen years, per his daughter's biography of him. His thefts included shop lifting from stores. . .
Hardly a religious Jew!
In Hilchot Teshuvah 8:1, the Rambam elaborates on the latter dimension: "The good that is hidden for the righteous is the life of the world to come... The retribution of the wicked is that they will not merit this life. Rather, they will be cut off and die. This is the intent of the meaning of the term כרת in the Torah, as (Bamidbar / Numbers 15:31) states: "That soul shall surely be cut off."
Think about the Jews in the bible who followed Ba’al or other false gods – they were still Jews, but they cut themselves off from G-d. So, yes, Moishe (Martin) Rosen was a Jew – a Jew who cut himself off from G-d and even worse, he encouraged others to turn away from G-d.
Consider again the words of the prophet Hosea: “I WILL SPURN YOU FROM SERVING ME AND AS YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN THE TORAH OF YOUR G-D, I TOO, WILL FORGET YOUR CHILDREN.” Hosea 4:6.
Being a Jew does not mean you automatically “pass go and collect $200.”
The opposite is true. We made a contract with G-d and when we turn our backs to Him we are judged more harshly that a non-Jew who does the same. G-d is loving and forgiving, though and G-d desires the apostate's repentance and beckons him/her to renounce iniquity: "From the clutches of the grave I would ransom them, from death I would redeem them, I will be your words of death; I will decree the grave upon you. Remorse shall be hidden from My eyes" (Hosea 13:14). Unfortunately Moishe Rosen did not repent.
Judaism recognizes that men and women are DIFFERENT.
Different does not mean Jewish women are inferior to men.
Quite the opposite.
Judaism teaches that women are holier intrinsically than men.
The Torah also tells us that G-d created Chava (Eve) using the word / vayiven, “and He built.” וַיִּבֶן / vayiven shares the same Hebrew root as בינה / binah -- meaning “insight” or understanding (deductive reasoning). The Talmud says this means that women were created with an extra dose of wisdom and understanding over men.
Men sing praises to their wives every Shabbat.
Women hold some of the most important roles in Judaism.
Women are not inferior to men -- men and women are two halves of one whole "G-d created the man in His image; in the image of G-d He created him, male and female He created them. And G-d blessed them." (B'reshit / Genesis 1:27-28).
Until recently in Christian societies women could not own property and they were treated as second class citizens (when did women get the "vote" in the United States? It was AFTER the slaves were freed!).
This is not to say that some Jewish men do not treat their wives as "lesser." Humans sin and are imperfect -- but Judaism and the Torah makes it quite clear that women are NOT second class citizens, and are not inferior to men.
Look at the role of women in the Jewish bible -- many were leaders and indeed many spoke up about inheritance rights (something women didn't have in Christian societies). Women could own land (unlike Christian societies). Women have a marriage contract ensuring them (among other things) of their husband's sexual favors). Women had the right to refuse to marry if they did not want to marry the man.
The roles of men and women are different in Judaism, but one is not superior to the other. A man and a woman are two halves of a whole. Women are bound by mitzvot as are men -- but women are not time bound to mitzvot. Women are considered to be holier by nature than are men. When G-d sent Moses to prepare Israel to receive the Torah, He sent him to the women first, and then to the men (Sh'mot / Exodus 19:3).
Sh'mot / Exodus 19:3 says "So shall you say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel." The "house of Jacob" refers to the women, and "sons of Israel" to the men. Rashi (1040-1105), the great commentator on the T'nach who recorded Jewish teachings on various verses, wrote: "Thus. In these words and in this order. Say to the house of Jacob. These are the women"* speak gently to them. Declare to the children of Israel: These are the men; explain the punishments and the details to them “declare” (taged) to them things that are as bitter as wormwood (gidin)."
The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash commentary for this verse says: "The word תֹאמַר, say, implies a mild form of speech. When Moses spoke to the House of Jacob, which refers to the women (Mekhilta), he was to express the commandments in a manner suited to their compassionate, maternal nature. Women set the tone of the home and they are the ones responsible to inculcate love of Torah in their children, a task to which their loving nature is best suited. Because of this role, a mother should pray when she kindles her Sabbath candles that in the merit of the Sabbath flames, her children should merit the illumination of Torah, which is also likened to flames. The word וְתַגֵּיד, and relate, implies firmness or even harshness for when Moses spoke to the Children of Israel, which refers to the men, he was to teach the commandments in a firm manner. The implication of firmness is derived because the Hebrew וְתַגֵּיד is spelled with a י which alludes to the word גֵּיד, a bitter tasting root (R’ Bachya)."
The Jewish bible is replete with stories of strong women. Moses' wife took matters into her own hands to fulfill a mitzvah when Moses was slow to respond.
Abraham was told to listen to Sarah: "And everything that Sarah tells you, listen to her voice." B'reshit (Genesis) 21:12.
Miriam (Moses' sister) was a co-liberator of the Jewish people and a great prophetess in her own right.
The Torah is replete with the stories of strong women. One of my personal favorites is Samuel's mother.
Women and men sign a marriage contract prior to marriage which ensures both of certain rights.
Women in biblical times could even own property (read the story of the women whose father died and G-d decreed that they were entitled to his property).
Lastly read Mishlei / Proverbs 30 (this is the song Jewish men sing to their wives on Shabbat):
10. A woman of valor who can find, for her price is beyond pearls.
11. Her husband relies on her, and he will lack no gain.
12. She requites him with good and not with evil all the days of her life.
13. She seeks wool and flax, and she works it with the will of her hands.
14. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.
15. She rises when it is still night; she gives food to her household and an allotted share to her maidens.
16. She contemplates a field and purchases it; from the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17. She girds her loins with vigor and strengthens her arms.
18. [When] she advises that her merchandise is good her lamp does not go out at night.
19. She stretches forth her hands onto the distaff, and her hands support the spindle.
20. She spreads out her hand to the poor man, and she stretches her hands out to the needy.
21. She fears not for her household for snow, for all her household are dressed in crimson.
22. She makes beautiful bedspreads for herself; fine linen and purple wool are her raiment.
23. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits with the elders of the land.
24. She makes a cloak and sells it, and she gives a belt to the trafficker.
25. Strength and beauty are her raiment, and she laughs at the last day.
26. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and instruction of kindness is on her tongue.
27. She supervises the ways of her household and does not eat bread of idleness.
28. Her children rise and call her fortunate; [also] her husband, and praises her.
29. "Many women have acquired wealth, but you surpass them all."
30. Charm is false and beauty is futile; a G-d-fearing woman is to be praised.
31. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and her deeds will praise her in the gates.
Read the Jewish bible and you will read of strong women. Sarah, Rebecca, Ruth, Esther, Deborah were all very strong, determined women. Here is a story of one such strong woman from Aish:
There is a Jewish law that says that after lighting the Chanukah menorah, women are not allowed to do any work for 30 minutes. They are supposed to bask in the glow of the lights. Why? Because it was a Jewish woman who saved the day and turned the tide of the war against the Syrian Greeks, resulting in ultimate victory for the Jewish people.
The stuff they never taught you in Hebrew School.
Her name was Yehudit, or Judith. She was a young widow, the daughter of Yochanon, the High Priest. Her town was under siege by the Syrian Greek general, Haolfernes. They were starving out the Jews and the men were ready to surrender. She tried to stop them, telling them not to give up, that they are God's people and they must have faith.
And that was not all she did. She snuck out of the walls of the town with a basket of salty goat cheese and pure wine, covered by a cloth. She approached the enemy camp and, using her "womanly ways," was able to enter the private tent of the general himself. Offering him the homemade cheese, he ate heartily and washed it down with the wine.
Yehudit waited, and once the general had passed out drunk, she took his own sword and chopped off his head. She placed the bloody head into her basket, covered it with the cloth, and calmly left the tent.
Upon returning to the town, she showed the men the general's head. Shocked, they displayed it in the town square for all to see. After getting over their embarrassment that this young widow had acted with such bravery while they were preparing to surrender, the men were galvanized into action.
Yehudit told them the time to act was now, for when the Greek soldiers discovered their general's decapitated body, their spirits would surely fall.
The Jewish men attacked, and won. Word spread throughout Israel, and the Jewish people were inspired to stand up and fight.
It took time, but victory was eventually ours, all because of a young Jewish woman who didn't wait for the song "Some Day My Prince Will Come." Instead she looked to her King, the Almighty, stood up, and was "Takin' Care of Business," every day, in every way.
What about women learning Torah and Talmud? The Sages believed that women were excluded from the formal commandment to study Torah, at least in its most comprehensive form (Kiddushin 29b). While it is true the Talmud discourages fathers from teaching their daughters, a qualified woman can elect, on her own, to learn Torah (Prisha YD 246). Both the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch write that a woman may learn Torah on their own and is rewarded for it like someone who isn't obligated in a mitzvah and fulfills it. A woman's self-motivation proves that the woman is not turning the Torah’s wisdom into trivialities, and makes her worthy of reward.
The Chida in Tov Ayin (Siman 4) agrees as does Tzitz Eliezer (9:3:1-3).
So while a woman is not obligated to learn Talmud, a woman may take it upon herself to learn Talmud.
Women are considered just as smart as men, and Jewish women are not inferior -- it is simply that women and men do have different responsibilities. (Women are not required to fulfill time constrained mitzvot while men are required to fulfill them).
Things are not always perfect between men and women -- including Jewish men and women, but Jewish law makes it very clear that Jewish women are half of a whole (man / woman). We are partners in this world.
Sophiee Saguy has been countering false missionary claims about Judaism and the T'nach (Jewish bible) for nearly twenty years. You may find her on FaceBook and at the Messiah Truth forum.