Another Jewish source missionaries will site claiming that "ancient Jewish sources" interpreted the servant in Isaiah 53 as "the" messiah (and not the Jewish nation) is יפת בן עלי הלוי / Yefet ben Ali (Yefet, son of Ali).
Jews for Jesus does not cite Yefet ben Ali on Isaiah 53, but other missionaries do -- and again the source yet again appears to be the 19th century Christian book The 53rd Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters by Driver and Neubauer which is discussed in this blog post. This book was the brainchild of Edward B. Pusey, an English Christian missionary, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, from 1828 until his death. Pusey's goal was to missionize the Jews. The infamous book he sponsored (regarding Isaiah 53) has been used to evangelize the Jews for well over a hundred years. "the way whereby our L-rd's kingdom is to be enlarged, plainly is by Missionaries," wrote Pusey.
Would Christians hold up Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, as a great expert on Christianity?
Of course not.
Normative Christianity rejects the teachings of Joseph Smith.
Yet missionaries hold up Jewish apostates as if they are some reputable Jewish source, and this is the case with Yefet ben Ali as quoted (selectively as we will see) by missionaries.
So who was Yefet Ben Ali?
He was not a "Rabbi."
He was not a "Rabbinical" source.
He was a 10th century (C.E.) Karaite.
What is a Karaite?
These were apostate Jews, coming to fruition in the 9th century CE (shortly before it died out) who denied the authenticity of the oral mitzvot (Talmud). The Karaites were a sect which appears to have begun when the Muslims defeated Jerusalem in the 7th century C.E, reaching its peak in the 9th century CE (900 years after Jesus), mostly dying out less than a hundred years later.
The Karaites rejected the oral mitzvot (Talmud) hundreds of years after the oral mitzvot had been recorded. There are people today who call themselves Karaites, but do not confuse the ancient group with people who today claim to be Karaites. There are less than 100,000 Karaites worldwide (about 30 - 50,000 in Israel), and most are not even Jewish. In 1932, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, there were only some 10,000 of them in Russia and approximately 2,000 elsewhere in the world. The modern Karaites claim they are descended from the ancients, but this seems highly unlikely. Modern Karaism took the name of the ancient group -- and while they claim to be linked to them that link is precarious indeed. From Aish's Crash Course on Judaism regarding the Karaites.
(The Muslims defeated Jerusalem in the 7th century CE (Omar). This is where we begin the history of the Karaites). "Indeed, when Omar defeated the Persians and took over Babylonia, he immediately gave his blessing to the Reish Galusa to head the Jewish community. As a matter of fact, Omar was so fond of the Reish Galusa -- Bustenai Ben Haninai -- that when he himself decided to marry the daughter of the Persian king, he insisted that Bustenai marry her sister. Thus in a bizarre twist of fate, the Reish Galusa became brother-in-law to the caliph.
(After the death of Bustenai, his sons by an earlier wife sought to delegitimatize his sons by the Persian princess, claiming that she never converted to Judaism. However, this was unlikely as the case of a Reish Galusa marrying a non-Jewish woman without conversion would have caused a furor and public condemnation. Indeed the Gaonim of the day ruled that all his children were legitimate Jews.)
During the long history of Babylonian Jewry, sometimes the Reish Galusa wielded more power, sometimes the Gaonim. Much depended on the political climate and the personalities involved. Generally, however, the position of the Gaon was determined by scholarship, while the position of Reish Galusa was depended on lineage (as the Reish Galusa was traditionally the descendant of King David.)
And it was a dispute over lineage that gave rise to a splinter sect in 8th century Baghdad -- a splinter sect that came to be known as the Karaites.
When Shlomo, the Reish Galusa, died childless in 760, two of his nephews Hananiah and Anan vied for the position. Hananiah got the job and Anan went off to start his own religion.
This is another example of a pattern we have seen previously -- a split among the Jews due to an ego problem. (We saw it, for example, in Part 20 with Rehoboam and Jeroboam.)
The sect that Anan started in some ways was similar to the Sadducees. Like the Sadducees, the Karaites didn't recognize the authority of the Oral Torah and hence they read the Written Torah literally. (Their name, Karaites, comes from the Hebrew verb, kara, meaning "read.")
As we saw earlier, it is impossible to live a Jewish life without the Oral Torah as so much of the Written Torah is not specific enough. Thus, where the Torah commands "and you shall write them [these words] upon the doorposts of your home," how can anyone know which words of the Torah, or indeed, if the entire Torah is to be written on the doorpost? It is the Oral Torah that explains that this passage refers to the words of the Shema prayer, which are to be written on a parchment scroll and then affixed in a specified place and manner on the doorpost. The mezuzah!
As a result of their literal reading of the Torah, the Karaites came to observe Shabbat in total darkness, unable to leave their homes all day except to go to the synagogue. They did away with the observance of Chanukah because it is not mentioned in the Written Torah, as well as with the separation of meat and milk for the same reason.
One might think that this sect would have little appeal, and initially it did not. But, with time, the Karaites began to attract those Jews who wanted to dismiss the opinions of the rabbis; this turned out to be a huge draw.
That is, until the great sage, the Sa'adiah Gaon entered the picture.
Sa'adiah Gaon is famed for his writings, particularly the Book of Belief and Opinions, and for his critiques of the Karaites which made mincemeat of their beliefs.
His arguments stopped the spread of Karaitism which could have overwhelmed the entire Jewish world. It was so popular at one point that in the 10th century the majority of Jews in the Land of Israel were Karaites.
However, the Karaites never recovered from the assault of Sa'adiah Gaon on the logic of their beliefs. Their numbers shrunk with time, though unlike the Sadducees, they never completely disappeared.
(Incidentally, up until World War II, there was a large Karaite community in the Crimea, which in trying to save themselves from the Nazis, claimed that they were not actually Jews. Of course, they were murdered too.)
Today, there is a small number of Karaites left, living chiefly in Israel, though no one is sure how many as the Karaites forbid census-taking. Their population has been variously estimated at 7,000 all the way up to 40,000. The Karaites are reputed to be very religious people, and from the outside appear indistinguishable from Orthodox Jews, though they are forbidden to marry other Jews and marry only each other.
When the Sa'adiah Gaon died in 942, the period of the Gaonim of Babylon was almost over. It would officially end in 1038 with the death of Chai Gaon."
The Rambam opined that Karaites of 1000 years ago were not heretics (as many other Jewish sources opined), but were ignorant, acting in error based on the customs they were taught. They were not intentionally heretical, per the Rambam, but were like kidnapped children who don’t know any better.
Whether an apostate (heretic) or in error it is quite clear that referencing a Karaite is NOT appropriate or logical. This is not a "Jewish source" any more than quoting some non-normative Christian source would be acceptable as a "Christian source."
Yefet ben Ali, therefore is not a "rabbinical" source. He rejected rabbinical Judaism!
The Driver and Neubauer book mentions that Yefet ben Ali personally saw the passage as messianic he also states that many Karaites view the servant as the Jewish nation, and that Saadia Gaon (9th century CE) viewed the servant as Jeremiah the prophet. "Some of the learned (Karaites) apply the prophecy to the pious of their own sect (the Jewish people), resting their view upon two arguments: In the first place, because their history answers to the descriptions given in this section; and secondly, because of the word "lamo" (in their deaths), which is plural. Others of them think the subject of it to be David and the messiah, saying that all the expressions of contempt, such as "many were desolated at thee", refer to the seed of David who are in exile (the Jewish people); and all the glorious things, such as 'behold my servant will be prosperous' and 'so shall he sprinkle', refer to the Messiah." The 53rd Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreters by Driver and Neubauer.
As anti traditional Judaism as he was, Yefet ben Ali was just as anti-Christianity -- another fact missionaries never mention to their followers as they quote him.
Oy, one of those annoying "written bible" only trolls (sola scriptura / karaite, etc.) who insist on misinterpreting the T'nach, disrespectfully at that, has been going on about how Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon) married non-Jews. This is not true, and easily disproved by reading the T'nach itself.
Marriage is only recognized (in Judaism) between two Jews. The T'nach tells us that Solomon had 700 wives, ergo ALL 700 would have to have been Jews, or they would not have been married to Solomon.
1 + 1 = 2.
"Foreign wives" in Melachim Alef 11 / 1 Kings 11 simply means that Solomon married women who were not born Jewish, but who converted to Judaism.
Since we are told that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and he was Torah observant enough that G-d allowed him to build the first holy Temple, why do these annoying people who know very little insist they know everything? Solomon authored many of the books of the T'nach (Jewish bible). He wrote “Shir HaShirim,” the “Song of Songs,” and “Mishlei,” “Proverbs,” replete with wise sayings; for example, “Let kindness and truth never leave you; tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart,” (Mishlei / Proverbs 3:3) and “Consider the behavior of the ant, lazy one, observe its constant busy-ness, and gain wisdom.” (“Mishlei” / Proverbs 6:6).
Another work by King Solomn is “Kohelet,” “Ecclesiastes” -- a book examining the philosophies of the world, including those alien to Judaism -- which ends with “The end of the matter, everything having been heard, is ‘Fear the L-rd and perform His Commandments, for this is the purpose of Man.’ “ Mislei / Proverbs 12:13.
Yet fools misreading Melachim Alef 11 / 1 Kings 11 in a vacuum think that Solomon turned to idolatry, and he had 700 non-Jewish wives!
They say they base this on the bible -- but that is not true. They are simply misinterpreting a passage because they are reading it in a vacuum.
The following is stated in the Torah concerning intermarriage with several nations that the Israelites will face upon entering the Promised Land: D'varim / Deuteronomy 7:3-4 "And you shall not intermarry with them; your daughter you shall not give to his son, and his daughter you shall not take for your son. (4) For he will cause your son to turn away from following Me, and they will serve other gods; then the wrath of the L-rd will be kindled against you, and He will soon destroy you."
A Jew cannot inter-marry with a non-Jew. The only way a Jewish man can take a wife who was not born Jewish is for that woman to convert to Judaism PRIOR to the marriage. This prohibition includes all gentiles (Avodah Zarah 36b; Yad, Issurey Biyah 12:1).
Ergo Solomon could not legally marry non-Jewish women.
The Hebrew wording and the knowledge of Torah are required for the correct understanding of the message these two verses convey. The Torah teaches two important concepts here. On the one hand, with the understanding that the "he" in D'varim / Deuteronomy 7:4 refers to the Gentile father-in-law, the one referred to as "your son" is the son of the Israelite father, a Jew, who is marrying the daughter of the Gentile father. The verse then states that this Israelite son will "serve other gods ", which means that any children of this marriage will be Gentiles, following the race and faith of their Gentile mother.
Read that again. Any children of a marriage between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman will be Gentiles, following the race and faith of their Gentile mother.
Ergo there would be no children of Solomon who could inherit the Jewish throne. But G-d PROMISED King David that it was Solomon's descendants who would be the rightful kings of Israel (Judah, too) -- and that eventually the messiah would come from Solomon's line.
If Solomon's wives were not Jews then none of his children would be Jews -- meaning NO MESSIAH ever and a broken promise by G-d.
My G-d does not lie.
If you assume King Solomon followed the halacha (Jewish law) how is it he marries no-Jews wives? That is a clear violation of the Torah [D'varim / Deuteronomy 7:3 and Babylonian Talmud Avoda Zara 36b].
So it is obvious that King Solomon had converted his non-Jewish wives. It is just as obvious that some of the 1000 wives and concubines may not have truly given up their pagan ways. Some of the wives returned to their old religious practices (pagan) in their old age [see Ralbag on Melachim Alef / Kings 1 14:21] .
Once halachally they converted they are clearly Jewish and so are their children -- even if they practiced paganism.
This is not only a reasonable assumption but that is what our sages explicitly teach us In the Talmud and more. [see Bava Kama 38b, Yevamot 76a, The Rambam's Isurei Biah 13:14].
Rehoboam / רְחַבְעָם, the son of Solomon, became King of Judah (the southern Kingdom). He would not have been made king if he was not (a) Jewish and (b) a Davidic heir of the tribe of Judah. If Solomon's wives were not Jews then Rehoboam would not have been Jewish and he would have had no claim to the throne.
"And Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, and he assembled all the House of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, one hundred and eighty thousand chosen warriors, to wage war with the House of Israel, to return the kingdom to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon." Melachim Alef 12 / 1 Kings 12:21.
I mean HOW basic is all of this folks???? G-d made a promise to David that his heirs THROUGH SOLOMON would be the only rightful heirs to the throne. G-d did not lie and it was not conditional.
When your days are finished and you shall lie with your forefathers, then I will raise up your seed that shall proceed from your body after you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to Me a son; so that when he goes astray I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the sons of Adam. But My mercy shall not depart from him as I withdrew it from Saul, whom I removed from before you.And your house and your kingdom shall be confirmed forever before you; your throne shall be established forever.". Shmuel 2 / 2 Samuel 7:12-16
Notice the bit about "when he goes astray I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the sons of Adam." -- G-d punished Solomon for the errors he made letting his foreign-born wives revert to their pagan ways -- but He (G-d_ did not remove the throne (meaning those wives HAD to be Jewish) from Solomon's heirs.
G-d made ETERNAL promises that Solomon's Jewish children (whose mothers had to be Jewish -- because Judaism only passes through the mother, or by a legal Jewish conversion). . . Read on:
When your days (David) are complete to go to your forefathers, I will raise up after you your offspring who will be from among your sons, and I shall make his kingdom firm. He shall build a Temple for Me, and I shall make his throne firm forever. Divrei Hayamim 1 / 1 Chronicles 17:11-12.
The promise of the throne through Solomon isn't a bit conditional. Just the opposite -- Solomon's heirs are in the line of succession FOREVER.
Behold, a son will be born to you; he will be a man of rest, and I shall grant him rest from all his enemies all around. His name will be Solomon, and I will be bestow peace and tranquility upon Israel in his days. He will build a Temple for My Name's sake; he will be a son to Me and I will be a Father to him. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever. Divrei Hayamim 1 / 1 Chronicles 22:9-10.
Nothing conditional here.
King David said to the entire congregation, "Solomon my son is but lone; G-d has chosen him although he is young and tender; and the work is great, for this palace is not for a man, but for HaShem, G-d." Divrei Hayamim 1 / 1 Chronicles 29:1.
Solomon sinned. The higher the person, the smallest sins are enlarged as if they were enormous. Because Solomon was wise, learned in Torah and promised so much (the messiah would come from him) his sin of allowing his foreign born wives (who had converted to Judaism) to revert to their pagan ways was very, very serious indeed. Solomon let those wives build altars to their false gods. It was this very great sin that condemed him to be punished (as G-d had forseen when He spoke to David all those years before). . . but Solomon himself was never an idolater, and the wisest man who ever lived (per the bible) was never that great of a fool.
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.