Someone wrote “I wrote on some YouTube video that God is not a man. Some Christian lady told me explain how come God comes many times as angels / bush or other shapes.
"I explain that an angel is not a man but she of course doesn't like answers that make sense. She finished with the following: Jesus is your Messiah. The New Testament is part of the Jewish bible written by Jews for Jews and gentiles. Jesus is one with the father. Explain to me who is the angel of the Lord. Why did Hagar say what she said and why did the angel say what he said. Why non of.the regular angels speak as.this angel of the lord speaks. Who is this angel that appears to Moses in the burning bush. Explain to me this, otherwise this is the evidence that God and Jesus are one."
You get a call on your cellphone. It’s FaceTime so you can see the person as you talk to them. Does that mean your phone is really a human?
How about watching television. Is the television a human?
Of course not, it is ridiculous, right? A phone isn’t a person and neither is a television.
And G-d may communicate with humans, getting our attention with a cloud (for example) but the cloud is no more G-d than is a cellphone call or a television show.
An angel isn’t G-d.
A burning bush isn’t G-d.
Humans (a man) isn’t G-d.
Only G-d is G-d.
The Hebrew Bible tells us time and time again that G-d is not a man, G-d has no form at all.
"G-d is not a man." Bamidbar / Numbers 23:19;
"I HaShem do not change ." Malachi 3:6;
"Remember the first things of old, that I am G-d and there is no other; I am G-d and there is none like Me." Isaiah 46:9.
There are many more such statements that tell us G-d is one (not a trinity), G-d is unique, no one can see G-d and live, there is nothing like G-d…
Let’s address her arguments.
She says G-d comes “many times” as an angel. This is 100% false. G-d never appears as an angel.
The very word for angel in Hebrew means messenger. The word is מַלְאָך / "mal'ach” which translates to “messenger.” In the Hebrew Bible there are HUMAN "angels" (messengers) as well as heavenly -- somehow the Christian translations don't call the human ones angels -- they translate the word there as messenger.
"Jacob sent messengers / מַלְאָכִים / m'lachim ahead of him to his brother Esau, to Edom's Field in the Seir area." B'reshit / Genesis 32:4.
Why do suppose that the King James Version and other Christian translations choose the word "messenger" here and not "angels"? A bit self serving, wouldn't you agree?
Somehow when it applies to humans it is translated as "messenger" and when it refers to a heavenly messenger the word is suddenly translated as "angel"!
Do you see why translations are traitors?
Heavenly messengers are servants of G-d. None are G-d Himself. A heavenly messenger simply relays a message from G-d -- telling a person of G-d's will.
Since when is one entity its own messenger? That is an oxymoron – not possible. A messenger delivers a message for SOMEONE ELSE. Thus the word itself refutes her assertion that G-d is His own messenger!
G-d never appears as anything – including angels or burning bushes or anything else.
Speaking of the burning bush – she said G-d “came many times as an angel/bush”… (ridiculous)…
In Sh'mot / Exodus 3:2 Moses did not "see" G-d at all in the bush — it was an "angel" (messenger) not G-d. The angel did not take on the form of a burning bush either -- "G-d's angel appeared to [Moses] in the heart (or flame) of a fire."
She asked “who is the angel in the burning bush?” That is totally unimportant (or the Torah would tell us). An angel is JUST a messenger. That angel was relaying a message to Moses, nothing more.
She asked “who is the angel of the Lord?” Her first problem is a mistranslation. The Hebrew Bible never says “the” angel of the L-rd. Nope. Not once. It says “מַלְאַךְ יְיָ / mal'ach hashem”, which translates to “a messenger of the L-rd”—note the indefinite article "an" (no “the”). Christian translations also capitalize it "the angel of the LORD" to make it seem unique, although Hebrew does not have capital letters.
The phrase “an angel of the L-rd” appears 58 times in the Hebrew bible and Christians often translate it as “the angel of the L-RD” instead of the correct “an angel of the L-rd.”
There is absolutely nothing in the text that suggests the same entity is meant on every occasion let alone that it is a “holier” angel or (heaven forbid) G-d Himself!
Which brings us to Hagar (Abraham’s concubine who ran away and nearly died in the process). She must think this speaks of “the angel of the L-rd” but it is a perfect example that it says no such thing. It has “מַלְאַךְ יְיָ / mal'ach hashem” – AN angel of the L-rd… Look it up! “וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַלְאַךְ "", שׁוּבִי אֶל-גְּבִרְתֵּךְ, וְהִתְעַנִּי, תַּחַת יָדֶיהָ”
Three different angels spoke to Hagar – but G-d did not. She asked "Why did Hagar say what she said and why did the angel say what he said."
The exchange takes place in B'reshit / Genesis chapter 16 after Hagar has run away from Sarah... "And an angel / מַלְאַ֧ךְ / mal'ach of the L-rd found her by a water fountain in the desert, by the fountain on the road to Shur." B'reshit / Genesis 16:7.
Verse 10 even says 'And an angel of G-d said to her / "" וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַלְאַךְ' -- so this is an angel, not "the" angel and not G-d. Again we see the word for angel / messenger but no "the." In Hebrew "the" would be a heh / ה as a prefix to the word... It isn't there.
The messenger tells her that she will have a child and that he will father many nations.
This is why the angels (plural, there are three of them in this chapter -- each angel has one specific mission. Refer back to the story of Sodom for proof of this) visited her and told her what they did...
Nothing to do with "the angel" let alone with an angel being G-d. Hagar then prayed to G-d who had communicated with her (through those three angels)...
You may notice that even Jewish translations may say "the angel of G-d" in this chapter, and the only explanation I can give (since the word "the" is not present) is that many translators try to stay close to the familiar in order to sell their translations... If you check the Hebrew and search this chapter for מַלְאַךְ you will see that not one of them has the heh / ה as a prefix which would make it "the angel."
The Torah tells us G-d is incorporeal (has no physicality) time and time again.
"You did not see any image on the day that G‑d spoke to you at Horeb [Sinai]."-- D’varim / Deuteronomy 4:15.
G-d has no physical manifestation -- He is not a bush, a cloud, or a man. (D'varim) Deuteronomy 4:15 clearly tells us that the Israelites did not see G-d in any form. Ergo G-d was NOT the pillar or the cloud. "You cannot see My Face, for man cannot see Me and live." (Sh'mot / Exodus 33:20).
There plainly G-d says no man can see Him and live – yet this woman disagrees with G-d Himself?
There is zero evidence that Jesus ever existed, let alone that he was a messiah and most definitely NOT G-d. Even if everything she had claimed were true (that G-d was an angel or a bush or a frog for that matter) it would not be evidence that Jesus was anything at all. She is simply wearing Jesus colored glasses and doesn’t see that her argument is no argument at all!
We’ve spent enough space here refuting her, but the fact is that Jesus (if he lived at all) was never a messiah – an anointed king of Israel. He didn’t have any right to be one either. The messiah must be born of human Jewish parents. The father must not only be Jewish, he must be of the tribe of Judah and descended from Kings David and Solomon. (see B'reshit / Genesis 49:10, Y'shayahu / Isaiah 11:1, Y’rmiyahu / Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Y’chezkel / Ezekiel 34:23-24).
If the virgin birth story was true, and Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus then Jesus did not even have the most basic right to even try to be the messiah.
Finally her point seems to be that because Jews were the original followers of Jesus this MUST make him the messiah.
Did she forget all those Jews who worshiped the false gods of Ba’al and Moloch?
How about the Jews who thought Bar Kochba was the messiah (and were wrong)?
How about the Jews who thought Shabbatai Zvi was the messiah (and were wrong)?
If Jesus existed and if he had early Jewish followers “so what”?
Sadly there have always been Jews who turned away from G-d and into idolatry.
Christianity is primarily the religion of Rome, not of Jews and it bears scant resemblance to Judaism. It has far more in common with pagan religions where gods as men was common (not to mention gods with a human mother!).
Her claim “The new testament is part of the Jewish bible written by Jews for Jews and gentiles” is most likely false as well. No one knows who wrote the Christian bible but very unlikely any were Jewish. They get too many basic facts wrong (Paul certainly did!). There were Ebionites who claimed that Paul was a non-Jew who converted to Judaism simply to marry a priest’s daughter and when he was refused, he became anti-Jewish. Given his views this wouldn’t surprise me!
Epiphanius (4th century CE) wrote: "They declare that he (Paul) was a Greek (not a Jew)...He went up to Jerusalem, they say, and when he had spent some time there, he was seized with a passion to marry the daughter of the (Jewish) priest. For this reason he became a proselyte (convert) and was circumcised. Then, when he failed to get the girl, he flew into a rage and wrote against circumcision and against the sabbath and the Torah (bible / Five Books of Moses)" (Epiphanius, Panarion, 30.16. 6- 9).
But again “so what” if Jews did write the Christian bible?
Christians wrote the Book of Mormon – does she think that gives credence to the Mormons? If so she should immediately convert and become a Mormon!
Did you notice that she threw out numerous arguments? This is typical of a missionary – they flood you with arguments hoping one will “stick.” It takes time and effort to show the ignorance (“the angel of the L-rd being a perfect example).
These missionaries don’t know a word of Hebrew and read their “bibles” in mistranslations. They believe the third party translation (usually translated from other translations) and are bullheaded in their insistence even though they are clueless as to what the Hebrew Bible really might say…
In closing, it isn’t worth your time (or mine) to argue with dyed in the wool missionaries who will simply change the argument when you refute them with proof. I went to all this trouble not for her, but for you. I hope you found this response helpful.
Of course not!
Some Jews never left at all!
Jews were often forbidden to live in Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel) although some managed to survive forced exile and murder...
In 131, Emperor Hadrian banned Jews from Jerusalem. He killed about 580,000 Jews in the process. In 136 CE R' Akiva was murdered by the Romans who killed him by flaying him alive with hot combs. Jewish leadership moved to Yavneh Israel (Palestine) after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolution, and continued to work on the Talmud (Mishna). Hadrian renames the province of Judea to Syria Palaestina.
Jerusalem became a Christian city in the 4th century and Jews were still banned from living there. Later in the 4th century Jews were allowed to return, and thousands did return.
Jews lived in at least forty-three Jewish communities in Palestine: twelve towns on the coast, in the Negev, and east of the Jordan, and thirty-one villages in Galilee and in the Jordan valley. History of the Jews and Judaism in the Land of Israel, Wikipedia.
In the early 7th century the Byzantines won the land and banned the Jews from the Byzantine Empire including Israel, thousands of Jewish refugees fled to Egypt.
They returned later that century and historical sources say 300,000 and 400,000 Jews lived in Jerusalem.
This story continued -- being banned, being allowed to live there under one ruler or another. Muslim dynasties, the Crusaders, more Muslim overlords until the Ottoman Empire conquered Israel (Palestine). The Ottoman Empire survived some 600 years (it amazes me how many people never heard of the Ottoman Empire!). The Ottomans ruled Palestine for 401 years.
During this time, a full thousand years after the fall of the Jewish state, there were Jewish communities all over the country. Jewish communities included Jerusalem, Tiberius, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza.
The Jews almost alone defended Haifa, Israel against the crusaders holding out for a month (June–July 1099).
The first Crusade was 1096-1099. In 1099 the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem and nearby coastal areas, losing and recapturing it for almost 200 years until their final ouster from Acre in 1291.
The Crusaders murdered most of the Jews in Jerusalem, rounding them up and burning them to death in the Synagogue... According to the Muslim chronicle of Ibn al-Qalanisi, "The Jews assembled in their synagogue, and the (Christians) burned it over their heads."
Survivors were sold into slavery, some were beheaded and others thrown alive into the sea...
Then the Muslims took over again. Ayyubid Sultan Saladin allowed Jews to return (late 12th century). At times the Muslims forbid Jews from living in the land, and at others they could live there but not have Synagogues...
The second Crusades (1147-1149) found many vibrant Jewish communities in Israel. From the Jewish Virtual Library
"Benjamin of Tudela and Pethahiah of Regensburg , who visited the crusading kingdom around 1160 and 1180 respectively, found well-established Jewish communities in Ashkelon , Ramleh , Caesarea , Tiberias , Acre , among other localities, with scattered individuals living elsewhere: it seems that the Jewish settlement of Jerusalem was restricted to a handful of individuals." The Crusades, Jewish Virtual Library.
The third Crusade was 1189-1192. Judah Alḥarizi (1216) found a prosperous Jewish community living in Jerusalem. In 1211 300 rabbis from Western Europe went to Israel. This was during the third Crusade.
Around 1220 Al-Mu'azzam Isa ordered much of Jerusalem burnt -- and many Jews left yet again. The Rambam (Maimonides, Moshe ben Maimon) arrived as an exile on May 23, 1165... But the land was very desolate, very few people lived there.
Prominent rabbis established communities in Safed (Tzfat), Jerusalem and throughout Israel during the next 300 years.
The Ramban, Nachmanides, the 13th-century, worked to resettle Jerusalem with Jews. Many Jews from Egypt and other countries would come for holidays...
In 1517 the Ottoman Empire conquered it. They held it until the British took control in 1917.
By the early 19th century-years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement-more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel. When Jews began to immigrate to Palestine in large numbers in 1882, fewer than 250,000 Arabs lived there, and the majority of them had arrived in recent decades. If memory serves about 20% of the population was Christian...
The famous novelist Mark Twain wrote of the land of Israel in 1867: “….. A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country....Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village...A fast walker could go outside the walls of Jerusalem and walk entirely around the city in an hour. I do not know how else to make one understand how small it is...Palestine is desolate and unlovely.” Chapters 45-56 of Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.
By the time Mark Twain visited my family lived there. Some lived in Jerusalem and some in the countryside.
The Jerusalem estimated population the year Twain wrote the above? 14,000.
The first mass return of European Jews (and some from Yemen) began with the first aliyah from 1882 - 1903. The Ottomans wouldn't allow Jews to purchase land, but as soon as Jews were allowed to do so they began buying land.
Jews bought about 907 kilometres of land as of 1945. Jewish land purchase in Palestine, Wikipedia.
At this time there were also about 800,000 Jews living in Arab lands (some had lived in Babylon since the exile there).
In July, 1922 Britain gave 77% of "Palestine" to the Arabs, most of which today is modern Jordan. Jews had purchased land in parts of this land, and they lost the rights to that land. Today 70% of Jordan's population is Arab Palestinian... British Palestine Mandate: History & Overview, (1922 - 1948), Jewish Virtual Library.
After the United Nations authorized two states: one Arab and one Jewish many of the Jews who had lived thousands of years in Arab lands were exiled -- some 800,000. Most fled to Israel, although about 200,000 fled to Europe or America. Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries, Virtual Jewish Library.
Jewish Virtual Library: "After the Arabs rejected the United Nations decision to partition Palestine ...the Jews of the Arab lands became targets of their own governments’ anti-Zionist fervor. As Egypt’s delegate to the UN in 1947 chillingly told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries will be jeopardized by partition.
"Throughout 1947 and 1948, Jews in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Syria, and Yemen (Aden) were persecuted, their property and belongings were confiscated, and they were subjected to severe anti-Jewish riots instigated by the governments. In Iraq, Zionism was made a capital crime. In Syria, anti-Jewish pogroms erupted in Aleppo and the government froze all Jewish bank accounts. In Egypt, bombs were detonated in the Jewish quarter, killing dozens. In Algeria, anti-Jewish decrees were swiftly instituted and in Yemen, bloody pogroms led to the death of nearly 100 Jews.” Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries, Virtual Jewish Library.
In the 2000 years since Jerusalem was burned in 68 CE it remained a small, depressing place -- through Crusades, Ottoman Empire and other wars. . . until the Jews began returning to the land en-mass and revitalized the city. Today it is a vibrant, growing city with a population of 857,800.
Israel itself has a population of 8,655,535. 76% of the population is Jewish. 1.9 million are Arabs (there are Arabs in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament). A Brief History of Israel and the Jewish People, Israel Science and Technology Directory.
Someone asked "What is the poppycock about Jewish people having horns or some association with the Christian assigned devil 👿? I read something the other day and was shocked that this is an actually belief people have ????? "
Believe it or not, this happened to me! When I was in college a friend from Iowa discovered that I was Jewish and fled the room in tears! It turns out she thought all Jews had horns and was suddenly terrified of me.
This is what ignorance and hatred can foment...
The error first showed up in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate of Exodus 34:29 has “et ignorabat quod cornuta esset facies sua” which translated is, “did not know his face had become horned.”
How can a face be horned in the first place? It would have to be the skull or head, not the face! But what can you do with mistranslations?
Sir Thomas Browne wrote in Pseudodoxia Epidemica: "The ground of this absurdity, was surely a mistake of the Hebrew Text, in the history of Moses when he descended from the Mount;3 upon the affinity of Kæren and Karan, that is, an horn, and to shine, which is one quality of horn: The Vulgar Translation conforming unto the former. Ignorabat quod cornuta esset facies ejus. Qui videbant faciem Moses esse cornutam. But the Chaldee paraphrase, translated by Paulus Fagius, hath otherwise expressed it. Moses nesciebat quod multus esset splendor gloriæ vultus ejus. Et viderunt filii Israel quod multa esset claritas gloriæ faciei Moses. The expression of the Septuagint is as large, δεδόξασται ἡ ὄψις τοῦ χρώματος τοῦ προσώπου, Glorificatus est aspectus cutis, seu coloris faciei."
Then Michelangelo carved his famous statue of Moses which included horns.
The word mistranslated is קָרַן / karan which means shone...
Some sources (including the infamous Strong's Concordance) say that קָרַן / karan can mean to shoot out horns, but also rays. Well, yes and no. קָרַן / karan is a verb and if it meant horn here the word in the context of the sentence would be different. It might be מְקוּרְנָן not just קָרַן .
Let's revisit the applicable passages in the Torah which speak of Moses' face shining:
"(Moses) descended from the mountain and Moses did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while He (G-d) had spoken with him. . .all the children of Israel saw Moses and behold! the skin of his face had become radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the princes of the community returned to him, and Moses would speak to them." Sh'mot / Exodus 34:29 - 31.
BTW, some Christians will say that Jews have a "veil" over their hearts and this is why they can't "see" that Jesus was the messiah / god.
This is partially based on Paul's lies about this very verse.
To explain away Jews 2000 year refusal to “accept” Jesus as a god (let alone a messiah) many missionaries blithely say that “Jews are blind – a “veil” has been put before your eyes so you can’t see the “truth” that Jesus is the messiah.” This outrageous slander is straight from the Christian bible:
"We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in (Jesus) is it taken away." 2 Corinthians 3:13-14.
When Moses entered his tent to speak with G-d he did not wear a veil.
Moses never wore a veil when speaking to G-d or when giving G-d’s words to the people.
Paul is 100% wrong -- whether because he did not know the truth or because he lied to his followers. Paul was not above lying to gain his purpose:
"Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances G-d’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Romans 3:7.
"But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless being crafty, I caught you with guile." 2 Corinthians 12:16.
Moses' face is NOT COVERED. The people came forward and Moses spoke to them (no veil / hood).
"the children of Israel would draw near, and he would command them everything that the L-rd had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he placed a covering over his face." Sh'mot / Exodus 34:32 - 33.
The words of the Torah are the OPPOSITE of what Paul claims. Moses only covered his face when he was finished speaking to the Jews.
When the words of G-d are communicated to the Jews there is NO VEIL. (hood).
And WHAT was supposedly “passing away”? The eternal promises G-d made to the Jews which He repeatedly tells us ARE eternal?
And WHAT was supposedly “passing away”? The eternal promises G-d made to the Jews which He repeatedly tells us ARE eternal?
"And You did establish to Yourself Your people Israel to be a people unto You forever; and You, L-rd, became their G-d." Shmuel Beit / 2 Samuel 7:24.
"The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our G-d will stand forever." Y'shayahu / Isaiah 40:8.
"Forever, O L-rd, Your word stands in the heavens. . . Were not Your Torah my occupation, then I would have perished in my affliction. T'hillim / Psalm 119:89-92.
"Thus shall the children of Israel observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant. Between Me and the children of Israel, it is forever a sign." Sh'mot / Exodus 31:16-17.
"The hidden things belong to the L-rd, our G-d, but the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever: that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah." D'varim / Deuteronomy 29:28.
Paul is either ignorant of G-d's eternal promises to the Jew -- or he is simply lying to his followers. Paul even has the arrogance to say
“But their minds were made dull (the Jews) for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It (the veil) has not been removed, because only in (Jesus) is it taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:14.
Paul says the Jewish mind is dull, yet G-d says the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever.
Which is it?
Who to believe: Paul or G-d?
Ask yourself, if Paul reversed what the Torah said in this instance then how much more can you believe in the Christian bible?
No doubt I have many failings, but perhaps the most egregious of all is a lack of patience with stupid people.
I have no trouble having patience with ignorant people. An ignorant person does not know something, but they are teachable.
A stupid person is quite different. A stupid person declares their knowledge as they spout nonsense and do so arrogantly.
I have no patience at all with such fools.
So what brought on this diatribe? A comment to me from a person on Facebook.
This one wrote that Hebrew had been dead for at least 500 years and that anyone who disagreed was obviously brain damaged. The renewal of modern Hebrew, stated this one, created a new language on the ashes of the old -- bearing little in common.
This claim, based on ignorance and stupidity, is right up there with the comment a week ago from an idiot who said there are no longer any Jewish priests! I suggested this person visit any Synagogue on a Shabbat to meet at least one and perhaps many (Jewish priests are given the first blessing over the Torah reading)...
But how can anyone think that Hebrew died 500 years ago? Or 1000? Or 2000?
The famous commentary of Rashi (1040 CE to 1105 CE) was written is in pure Hebrew - and, what is more, Rashi's commentary is written for common Jews rather than scholars.
Maybe this person can explain how a commentary written nearly a thousand years ago, and intended to be read by laymen, can possibly be in Hebrew if the language had "died"???
Rashi's commentary is studied and has been since the day he wrote it -- yet this stupid person says "Hebrew died out 500 years ago."
While many Jews (not all) spoke either the language of their country of exile or a Jewish language (such as Yiddish or Landino) in every day speech not all did. There were always Jews living in Israel even after the exile and most of them spoke in Hebrew. I have a diary written by such a relative in the 18th century which is written in Hebrew cursive and was many, many volumes in length (most of his adult life he kept it).
Jews have always spoken Hebrew. Prayers are recited in Hebrew many times a day. The Torah is read out loud in Hebrew in our Synagogues. Torah scrolls are written by hand in Hebrew and have been for millennia.
But this person stated emphatically that Hebrew had been dead prior to the arrival of Eliezer Ben Yehuda in the later half of the 19th century. This was the reemergence of Hebrew as an every day language -- and it is now the language of the modern State of Israel.
If he "invented" modern Hebrew then explain to me why Jews from European descent have some different pronunciations than do Jews of Spanish descent? They speak the same language -- but there are differences in pronunciation of some words. If Hebrew was "invented" a mere 100 years ago wouldn't they all speak it identically?
Ignorance, too -- but rather than try to learn the facts the stupid one insists on reveling in their stupidity!
These are the same fools who would tell you that Jews couldn't read the Hebrew Bible until the Masoretes invented vowel notations between the 6th and 10th centuries CE.
How do Jews read Hebrew in Israel today without vowel notations (most Hebrew is written without them)... if the Masoretes invented "modern" Hebrew over a thousand years ago?
The Masoretes were Jewish scribe-scholars who invented a method to note pronunciation of Hebrew since written Hebrew is (primarily) without vowels. The word Masorete gets its name from the word “masorah” which means “tradition;” and their purpose in doing this was to maintain tradition Jewish meaning -- NOT to change it!
So the Masoretes didn't change or invent Hebrew.
Hebrew was not dead 500 years ago (or 1000 or "fill in the blank")...It has never been "dead."
So how did Jews read Hebrew before the 6th century CE?
How do Jews read Hebrew in Israel today without vowel notations (most Hebrew is written without them)...
A former moderator at the Virtual Yeshiva (Netanel) once wrote:
"Using "dead" to describe the language which has been taught from generation to generation, from parent to child, for millennia is fallacious, sensational, and hyperbolic. The teaching of Hebrew to our children has been one of the main factors in keeping Jews - whether rich, poor, healthy, ailing, young, or old - literate no matter our standing, while the Christians and Muslims save the upper echelon more mostly illiterate.
"For three and a half millennia we have taught and been taught to read and understand Hebrew and Torah, it is one of the supreme commandments, and one which has never died.
"That it was not spoken as the main language in many a diaspora community does not negate the fact that it is and always has been central to every Jewish community up until and perhaps thus excluding some of those who tried to sweep their Jewishness under the rug during enlightenment and reformation. I pity the ignorance of those who regard Hebrew as ever having been dead, as they apparently don't understand the history of the usage of and regard for Hebrew, nor do they seem to understand the meaning of the word dead. Such claims are extremely insulting."
I have no patience at all for these stupid oafs. Perhaps I should work on this aspect of my personality. I probably won't bother!
What is the JEDP theory (sometimes called the documentary hypothesis (DH) or the Graf - Wellhausen hypothesis) that so many Christians are taught is the "real" story of how the Hebrew Bible was written?
Well, you'd think the word "theory" would make them realize it isn't "real" or a "fact." Nope. It is a theory.
And it is a theory based on a very basic lack of bible knowledge from so-called bible experts.
This theory divides the Torah into four separate sources:
Did anyone bother to explain to Wellhausen that the "names" for G-d are really descriptions?
There are nine "names" for G-d that appear in the Scriptures “which may not be erased” and another eleven “which may be erased”—these are all listed in Treatise Shavuot 35a.
“Ehyeh asher ehyeh / אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה” is one of the nine “which may not be erased”.
This is the "name" in Sh'mot / Exodus 3:14. It translates to "I will be as I will be."
Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) speaks of 72 names for G-d.
Yet, not one of them is really a name.
G‑d has no name. He is infinite and does not have a name -- or a title or a description for that matter. You could say that by definition, G-d has no definition.
What we call His name(s) are simply our attempt at describing the indescribable.
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:
So the fact that the JEDP theorists decided that four of the "names" had to mean four different authors is based on error.
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 archaeology -- 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 Counterarguments" from Torat 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. . ."
One of Graf-Wellhausen's main points was that the Torah wasn't written until after the Babylonian Exile. Archaeological discoveries in Israel alone disprove this -- as does the discovery of the silver scrolls which was discussed in yesterday's post. Some estimate the scrolls date back to 700 BCE (whereas Ezra returned to Israel around 350 BCE)... Even later opinions of the scrolls still date them to pre-Babylonian Exile times (pre-dating Ezra and his return)...
Prof. Moshe David (Umberto) Cassuto wrote a detailed analysis of 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 materials for the construction of the First Temple under Solomon. . . Wellhausen writes, “1 Chr. 22-29 is a startling instance of that statistical fantasy 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.
Some proponents of Biblical theory point to Spinoza (17th century) -- a man born Jewish to parents who had converted to Christianity but fled from Portugal to return to Judaism... Spinoza invented his own iteration of what he thought Judaism to be (he wasn't the first or the last). He believed that G-d and nature are equivalent, and that the T'nach is allegory...
Spinoza was cut off from the Jewish community due to his refusal to actually practice Judaism (observe the mitzvot). Spinoza is known as the "Jewish Atheist" if that gives you some clue! Some proponents of JEDP will point back to Spinoza as some sort of foundation for later theories -- but this would be akin to pointing to Mormonism as proof of Catholicism. It makes about as much sense!
Jews have an unbroken chain of transmission of the Torah going back to Moses. It seems that some of these theorists on the history of the Torah have a zeal to discredit Judaism.
Here is a link to the Rambam (Maimonides) Introduction to the Mishneh Torah where he discusses Torah transmission giving the name of each generation up to his time... the lists have continued to this very day...