A missionary wrote to me: "there is NONE righteous NOT one" " I saw the bodies of those who rebelled against Me... and their worm never died and their fire not quenched" WHY would a Holy being ALLOW unholiness near Him and WHAT would be the currency that would permit such a union ?"
This question is nearly at the center of the difference between Christianity and Judaism.
Most Christians believe they are not good enough. That humans are somehow filthy -- a worm that is unholy and unworthy of G-d. Jesus had to die for them because they weren't good enough to "save themselves."
The phrase "there is none righteous, not one" is found in Romans 3:10, but it is not found in the T'nach. The closest to this one will find in T'hillim / Psalm 14:3 and 53:4 says "no one does good, not even one."
The Hebrew here is ט֑וֹב -- good. Not righteous. . . good.
The book of Romans is misquoting the T'nach.
When the psalms say "no one does good" does it mean that there are no good people in the world? Does it mean that it is impossible to be a good person?
Read it IN CONTEXT. "The degraded one says in his heart, "There is no G-d!" They have acted corruptly and abominably (in their) action; there is no doer of good."
The degraded one does no good.
Not all people.
There are hundreds of verses that stress we can do good and amend wrongs. Perfection is neither expected or required!
Romans 3:10's anonymous author reverses the bible! Romans states that there are no righteous people in the world. Romans 3:9 - 12 says "For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks G-d. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”"
People ARE righteous.
People DO understand.
People seek G-d (isn't that why you are reading this blog?).
While some reject G-d, many seek Him and do not turn away.
How dare the anonymous author of Romans 3 reverse G-d's eternal word and say that His creation, mankind, is worthless?
Why does Romans make it seem as if no human alive does good -- not even one -- when the psalmist makes it clear that he is speaking of a select few -- the degraded -- who "do no good"?
Christianity teaches that people should be perfect, and because Adam and Chava (Eve) sinned the whole world is damned to not being perfect -- meaning that according to Christian doctrine G-d screwed up and screwed up badly.
Why would anyone want to worship a god capable of making that bad a mistake -- right from the start? Why would such a god deserve respect let alone worship?
To make things worse, Christianity then claims that in order to fix the mistake -- mess -- that this god made He commands the painful murder of himself to himself to "atone" with human blood for his screw up.
One of the verses most devastating to Original Sin is B'reshit / Genesis 4:7, where G-d tells Cain that he can overcome temptation. Cain is envious of Abel because G-d accepts only Abel's sacrifice. Cain is tempted to murder Abel. G-d says, "if you do not do good, sin crouches at the entrance. Its desire is for you, but you can rule over it."
Right from chapter 4 we are told that we can rule over sin.
The bible also tells us that G-d created everything -- good and evil are His. G-d does not make mistakes.
Let's return to the claim. Since the two psalms do not say that no one is righteous, but rather "no one is good" -- what does it mean?
Obviously a lot of people do good -- so we must first as ourselves -- to whom is this addressed -- everyone in the world or a select population which is not good?
It is actually NOT everyone in the world. T'hillim / Psalm 14:3 is about Nebuchadnezzar. Rashi says that Nebuchadnezzar was destined to destroy the Temple -- and that not one man would try to stop him.
Let's start with recognizing that T'hillim (Psalms) are 150 poems. POEMS. Most of them were written by Dovid HaMelech (King David) and they were sung in the Temple as prayers. Some praise G-d. Some thank him, some plead to Him -- and some even speak of human fears and how G-d's love transcends our fears. The psalms deal with real human issues and real human lives. These are not the words OF G-d, these are our words TO G-d.
Here is T'hillim / Psalm 14:3: "For the conductor, by David. The degraded one says in his heart, "There is no G-d!" They have acted corruptly and abominably (in their) action; there is no doer of good. 2 From heaven HaShem gazed down upon mankind, to see if there exists a reflective person who seeks out G-d. 3. Everyone has gone astray, together they have become depraved; there is doer of good, there is not even one. 4. Do they not realize -- all those evildoers, who devour my people (those seed of Nebuchadnezzar per Rashi) as they would devour bread, who do not call upon HaShem -- 5 (that) there they will be struck with terror, for G-d is with the righteous generation? 6 You shame the poor man's counsel, that HaShem is his refuge. 7 O', that out of Zion would come Israel's salvation! When HaShem restores the captivity of His people Jacob will exult, Israel will rejoice." T'hillim / Psalm 14, Artscroll Stone Edition Translation.
None of those people helped -- not one looked for G-d. But the day will come when G-d will restore us Jews and we will rejoice (when the messiah comes, the Temple is rebuilt and global knowledge of G-d is here -- along with worldwide peace).
Remember: G-d created everything... and He did so for a purpose.
He created us imperfectly, but with the ability to make mistakes and learn from them. He MADE US this way. He gave us free will to choose good over evil -- but without evil how would would humans have anything to choose FROM?
Nowhere in the T'nach (bible) is it even hinted that man is expected to be perfect. Indeed the T'nach tells us "there is no righteous person who never sins." (Kohelet / Ecclesiastes 7:20).
Righteous people sin. Sin is part of G-d's plan. G-d does not expect perfection -- He expects us to try, to fail, to pick ourselves up and to try again.
The bible itself tells us we can do it! "It is not in heaven, to say 'Who will go up for us to heaven, and acquire it for us, and teach it to us, and we will do it?' Nor is it across the sea, to say Who will cross the sea, and acquire it for us and teach it to us, and we will do it?' For the matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it." (D'varim / Deuteronomy 30:11).
Recently the blog has focused on how Jews know that Jesus was not the messiah (he did not have the correct parentage, he did not fulfill the prophecies and human sacrifice is forbidden. The Torah also teaches us that no one can atone for the sins of another -- each of us is responsible for his / her own sins. That last topic -- our personal responsibility -- brings me back full circle to the intention of this blog.
The focus of this blog is not on Jesus (as a person or a god). The goal of this blog is to explain what Jews believe and to show how these beliefs are based firmly in the Jewish bible (primarily the Torah, the Five Books of Moses). The other books of the bible (Prophets and Writings) do nothing more but re-enforce what G-d already taught us in the Torah. We are forbidden from adding to or subtracting from the mitzvot of the Torah. Think about it -- the prophets spent most of their effort trying to return Jews to Torah observance!
This blog exists to help teach uneducated Jews and interested non-Jews the teachings of Torah (and thus Judaism) -- and to refute the assumption by many a missionary that Judaism and Christianity are "the same" -- except they believe the messiah has come (Jesus) while the Jew still awaits the messiah.
This assumption is false. There are far more differences between Judaism and Christianity than there are similarities.
Let's just list a few differences, Remember: what one Christian believes another will reject -- some Christian reading the list will say "I don't believe in "original sin" or "faith over works", but the list of what Christians believe is based on a majority of "normative" Christian teaching and beliefs:
A Jew cannot be Christian and remain Jewish. A Jew accepting the beliefs of another religion (gods) and rejecting those promises we made to G-d to do and to hear is endangering his or her immortal soul. A Jew can never stop being a Jew, and thus turning to עבודה זרה / avodah zarah (strange / foreign worship, aka idolatry) is cutting that person off from G-d and the Jewish people. That person is an apostate to the Jewish people until such time as he or she returns to G-d and repents of their idolatry.
The term idolatry in Judaism means any form of worship we did not know at Sinai, and any thinking Christian must realize that the Jews of Sinai did not pray to or through Jesus.
The website Simple to Remember puts it well. Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because:
(What exactly is the Messiah?)
In today's earlier post I said I'd "get around" to discussing "lucifer." A few people have messaged me today asking for the answer, so I decided to post it here, too. The prophet Y'shayahu / Isaiah is merely saying that with the fall of the King of Babylon so fall his false gods.
That is IT.
“Lucifer” is an English corruption of the Latin lucem ferre (bringer, or bearer, of light.). Over time this became distorted to "lucifer" and most thought it was a name of a devil.
The term lucem ferre was Latin for the planet Venus. Venus is very bright when it first appears in the morning sky in the east around sunrise.
Venus (lucem ferre) was mistaken for a bright star in ancient times. Many pagans worshiped the planet (which they thought was a star) as a god or goddess (the planet Venus was worshiped as a godess by the ancient Romans). The Babylonians worshiped Inanna, a goddess associated with the planet Venus which at that time was regarded as two stars, the "morning star" and the "evening star."
As such, the prophet is saying that as the Babylonian leader is defeated so too are his gods defeated (including the morning star). In Hebrew the word הֵילֵל heilél (morning star) that Y'shayahu / Isaiah uses in 14:12 as a bitingly sarcastic reference to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II and his fall:
אֵ֛יךְ נָפַ֥לְתָּ מִשָּׁמַ֖יִם הֵילֵ֣ל בֶּן־שָׁ֑חַר נִגְדַּ֣עְתָּ לָאָ֔רֶץ חוֹלֵ֖שׁ עַל־גּוֹיִֽם׃
"How you have fallen from heaven, O (Helel which is translated as morning star), (Shahar translated as son of the dawn)! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!" (Y'shayahu / Isaaih 14:12)
The word "lucifer" didn't creep into Christian translations for 400 years, but thanks to translators using that word instead of "morning star" many Christians (and far too many Jews) think it is "lucifer the devil." It is in the King James Version, but more recent Christian translations are abandoning "lucifer" for the more correct "morning star."
As an interesting aside, the Christian bible refers to Jesus as the "morning star" in Revelations 22:16, yet I can't think of one Christian who thinks that Jesus = Lucifer.
There is no devil. There are no demi-gods. There is only One G-d and He creates everything -- including good and evil.
The word "lucifer" is a latin word for Helel. Nothing more and nothing less. The 4th century Christians translated Helel (Hebrew) into lucifer (latin) and then folks began to misinterpret lucifer as being a fallen angel instead of a fallen false Babylonian god. Why over time didn't people translate this latin word (lucifer) either into English (son of the morning) or into Hebrew "Helel?" While I can't read the minds of others it seems safe to assume that they did so because it served as "proof" of their devil, so why correct the error?
The Torah, the Jewish People and even G-d Himself speak a different language than Christians – even when we use the same words the meaning is usually quite different. Take the Hebrew word שָׂטָן / “satan.”
To Christians the word "satan" is the chief evil spirit; the great adversary of humanity; the devil. 2 Corinthians 4:4 calls him a god (the 4th Christian god with the big 3 of the trinity). "Satan, who is the god of this world." Further Christians are taught that Satan / Devil runs a mythical hell. Jesus is tempted by satan (Matthew 4:1) -- how a god tempts another god?? The devil and his minions are in hell -- a place of eternal torment for those who do not believe in Jesus (Matthew 25:41).
Christians are taught that "the devil" (aka "satan") is a fallen angel. This is also untrue. Angels are bound to do G-d's will. They have no free will of their own. Heavenly angels have only one mission, and this means that their names denote that mission. Most do not exist long enough for any name to be noted, but some have important enough missions to warrant their name being known.
Jew and Christian use the word "satan" but have totally different meanings for that one word. In Judaism we do not see it as there being a conflict between good and evil. Some ancient religions believed that there are two forces in the universe, one good and one evil, and that they are constantly warring with each other. This was common to Mthraism, Zroastrianism, Chritianity, and later to Mnichaeism. Chrstianity, however, made the devil less powerful than G-d, but still made him a rebel against G-d.
Judaism sees it differently, and we have always seen it differently. Satan is not a rebellious angel. G-d created both good and evil.
There is no devil in Judaism. There are no "demi-gods." There is only one G-d and He created good and evil. "Forming 'Light' and creating 'Darkness', making 'Peace' and creating 'Evil' - I am HaShem and I do ALL these things" Isaiah 45:7.
G-d created evil.
There is no devil.
The word שָׂטָן / "satan" does appear in the Jewish bible. The word means "adversary" and it is used to speak of humans as well. Satan (with a capital "S") which is the name of the Chrstian devil does not exist in the T'nach or in Judaism.
The word "satan" IS NOT A PROPER NOUN (personal name). שָׂטָן / satan simply means "an opponent / opposer."
G-d has no opponents or opposition -- fallen angels do not exist. Humans DO have opponents.
Let's look at some instances of the use of "satan" in the T'nach:
"But G-d became angry because he was going, so [one] of HaShem's angels (messengers) stationed itself in his way as an opponent (satan) to him." (B'midbar / Numbers 22:22);
"Then HaShem's angel (messengers) said to him, "Why have you struck your she-donkey these three times? See, I came out as an opponent (satan) because you were hurrying on the way [to act] against me; but the she-donkey saw me and turned away these three times; if she had not turned away to avoid me, by now for sure I would have killed you, but I would have kept her alive!" (B'midbar / Numbers 22:32-33);
". . .he should not join us in the battle in case he becomes an opponent (satan) to us in the battle! (Sh'muél Alef / 1 Samuel 29:4-5);
"David said, "What is [the disagreement] between me and you, Tz'ruyah's sons, that you have become opponents (satans) to me today??" (Sh'muél Beit / 2 Samuel 19:23).
Why did G-d create evil? Is G-d cruel? Is it some sort of punishment?
Evil is not a punishment -- it is a learning tool. G-d created the universe because G-d wanted to do good. So there had to be people to receive that good.
G-d does not want to just give away good as a present. G-d wants people to appreciate it. Something you get for free you do not appreciate. And in fact, if you got something amazingly good for free, and you were allowed to enjoy it for all eternity, you would be embarrassed by it. You didn't work for it, you don't deserve it.
So G-d decided that people would have to work for it, and receive the ultimate goodness as a reward for work.
What is that work? Well, G-d created the Evil Inclination, the angel called Satan, whose job it is to tempt us to do evil. If we ignore the Evil Inclination, then we get closer to G-d, and become more holy. By doing so, we merit the reward of the ultimate goodness. G-d also gave us Commandments, and the Tempting Angel tempts us to find reasons not to keep those Commandments. By ignoring the temptations, and fulfilling G-d's Commandments, we become more spiritual, and our souls gain more power over ourselves.
So we see our lives in this world as an opportunity. We have been granted the glorious opportunity to attain holiness and ultimate goodness.
G-d has given us a CHOICE between life and good on one side and death and evil on the other.
CHOICE. This is all about choice. Free will.
When G-d created man He did so in His image. G-d is the only entity in the universe, aside from man, who can CHOOSE. When everything is "good" where is the choice? If you knew that to touch fire would burn you, would you put your hand in the fire?
But what if you didn't know (like a baby?). You are drawn to the fire's beauty. You are drawn to its warmth. Fire cooks your food. Yet fire can be misused -- it can burn people even to death. It can destroy our homes. Fire can be good AND bad.
The fire can't choose - - it simply exists, but WE can choose.
And our inclination is to choose poorly. G-d wants us to learn and rise above our evil inclination and become holy people -- but how can we become improved and better if we can't learn and grow? If we only have good we simply exist. We just "are." With evil we can choose life and good. We can CHOOSE the blesing.
So remember, satan means "opponent" or "adversary." People have opponents, G-d has none. There is only one G-d. There is no devil, no hell. Same word -- totally different meaning! As for the word "lucifer" which I will look at more closely in a later post -- it is not found in the bible at all.