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?)
Since "sin" in Hebrew means a missing of the mark (you tried to do right and you "missed") what does G-d say about more serious wrongdoings? If they aren't sin, what are they?
What happens if a person commits manslaughter (or theft, or beating someone up) -- acts that were impulsive actions people know are wrong but they "just can't help themselves." These are not "sin" -- there is another term for them in the bible. These are called Avon / עוון (impulsive, lustful acts -- a person couldn't control their urges).
But if Jesus "died for your sins" (totally unbiblical) then he died for your mistakes and not your "big" transgressions. The Christian bible doesn't say that Jesus died for your Avon / עוון or even worse actions!
What about things worse than sin or Avon / עוון? What about things like pre-planned murder, or other evils that are wilfful wrongdoing in defiance of G-d (you know it is wrong, you know G-d forbids it and you defy Him). These are called pĕsha' / פֶּֽשַׁע in the T'nach.
Again, Jesus (per the Christian bible) did not die for your avon / עוון or your pĕsha' / פֶּֽשַׁע --- but just for your mistakes???
In reality human sacrifices are forbidden. No one can die for your sins, your avon / עוון or your pĕsha' / פֶּֽשַׁע. More serious wrongdoings could not be atoned for with blood sacrifices at all
עוון Avon (translated by Christians as iniquity) is an impulsive act of lust or uncontrollable urges (could not be atoned for with a sacrifice). An avon (unless it falls under the asham talu or asham g'zelot) cannot be rectified with a qorban (sacrifice), and neither can a pĕsha' / פֶּֽשַׁע. Repentance and turning to G-d to seek forgiveness for sins against G-d and seeking forgiveness to any person that might have been harmed from that person are the methods of atonement; The generic Hebrew word for any kind of wrongdoing is aveira / עבירה. This is a feminine noun (nouns are either feminine or masculine in Hebrew)..
Cheit / חטא (translated by Christians as sin) translates to a mistake -- a person tried to do the right thing and "missed." For individuals a In Shoftim / Judges 20:16 a group of men are described as "All these could sling a stone at a hair-breadth and not miss." A cheit / חטא could be atoned for with a sacrifice. It was only one of two types of wrong doings which could be atoned for with sacrifice.
Avon / עוון (translated by Christians as iniquity) is an impulsive act of lust or uncontrollable urges. An avon/ עוון (unless it falls under the אָשָׁם תָּלוּי / asham talui or or אָשָׁם גְּזֵל֣וֹת / asham g'zelot) cannot be rectified with a qorban (sacrifice). So what are these two sacrifices which can be brought for an avon/ עוון? They are discussed in Vayikra / Leviticus chapter 5.
Those were the only two types of Avon / עוון (translated by Christians as iniquity) which a person could bring a sacrifice for (an asham / guilt sacrifice). Any other type of Avon / עוון must be atoned for with other actions including charity, prayer, repentance (see the list below). If the sacrifice for either a sin sacrifice or guilt sacrifice was brought it had to meet the following criteria:
1. Is an animal which is physically without blemish; a ram for the Asham (Vayikra / Lev. 5:14); a female goat for the Chatat (sin offering) (Vayikra / Lev. 4:28); male animals or birds for the Olah. (Vayikra / Lev. 1:3, 10, 14). (Olah, translated as "burnt sacrifice" was a voluntary sacrifice generally brought to thank G-d, but sometimes brought for impure thoughts, not deeds).
2. They are all slaughtered in the holy area of the temple and their blood is poured around the outside altar (Vayikra / Lev. 1:4, 4:30; 7:2);
3. Parts of the Asham and Chatat (sin offering) are burnt on top of the altar. All of the Olah (elevation / burnt offering) is burnt there. (Vayikra / Lev. 1:7-8; 4:31; 7:3-5) 4. The Asham and Chatat (sin offering) must be eaten by the priests as opposed to the Olah. (Vayikra / Lev. 6:19; 7:6-7) which is consumed by the fire.
Jews eat kosher animals only – and humans are not kosher. The asham sacrifice can NOT BE A PERSON.
Now, what about the wrongdoings which are worse than making a mistake (the "sin") or a lusftul action you didn't control (guilt)?
Pĕsha' / פֶּֽשַׁע is usually translated by Christians as "transgression." It means to willfully go against G-d. It means "rebellion" (could not be atoned for with a sacrifice) -- but other things in this life do atone for them. 1 Kings 8:46-50 include chatat, avon, rasha (wicked or evil) and pesha are atoned for by prayer. Repentance and turning to G-d to seek forgiveness for sins against G-d and seeking forgiveness to any person that might have been harmed from that person are the methods of atonement;
Ezekiel 18:21-32 speaks of sin, iniquity and willful rebellion against G-d all being forgiven through repentance. chatat (18:21), pesha (18:22), cheit (18:24), pesha (18:28), pesha and avon (18:30) are all atoned through repentance.
"By loving kindness and truth iniquity is atoned for..." (Mishlei / Proverbs 16:6).
"If you return to G-d you will be restored; if you remove unrighteousness far from your tent...then you will delight in G-d..." (Job 22:23-27).
This whole fixation on blood, blood, blood by missionaries is not supported by the Jewish bible. The missionaries take the statement that blood can atone for SOME sins and somehow morph it into "you need blood for sins to be forgiven." This is akin to eating a slice of pizza because you are hungry and then insisting that the only type of food that exists in the world is pizza.
Here is a list showing different things that atone for different types of wrongdoing that disprove the statement in Hebrews 9:22 that
without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
2 Shmuel 12:13-14 / 2 Samuel 12:13-14 is a cheit (David admits to sin before Nathan the prophet and repents)
Yonah / Jonah 3:10 has to do with the sins of Nineveh (unspecified, just identified as "evil" in 1:2), the people repented and G-d forgave
Vayikra / Leviticus 26:40-42 speaks of avon and repentence atoning for it
Yechezkel / Ezekiel 18:21-32 speaks of chatat (21), pesha (22), chatat (24), pesha (28), pesha and avon (30) are all atoned through repentance
Mishlei / Proverbs 16:6 an avon is atoned for with kindness
Daniel 4:24 is chatat and avon by showing mercy and kindness
PRAYER (accompanied by repentance)
Hoshea / Hosea 14:2-3 teshuva (turning to G-d) and 1prayer atones for avon
1 Melachim 8:46-50 / 1 Kings 8:46-50 include chatat, avon, rasha (wicked or evil) and pesha are atoned for by prayer
Daniel 9:5-19 include chatat, avon, and rasha are atoned by prayer
Yeshayahu / Isaiah 27:9 both chatat and avon are atoned by removing idolatry
Yeshayahu / Isaiah 40:1-2 avon is removed by punishment
Eichah / Lamentations 4:22 avon is removed by punishment
Yeshayahu / Isaiah 22:14 avon will surely not be atoned until you die.
Leviticus 5:1-13 for specific ashams (guilts including not testifying honestly, touching something ritually unclean, if one makes an oath one doesn't keep, he must confess, and he must bring a guilt offering which should be a female sheep or goat, but if he can't afford it he may bring two turtle doves (one as a chatat and one as an olah). If he cannot afford the turtle doves he may bring flour as a chatat (sin offer)
Sh'mot / Exodus 30:15-16 to atone for the life-force (similar to blood in Leviticus 17:11)
Bamidbar / Numbers 31:50 to atone for the life-force (similar to blood in Leviticus 17:11)
Bamidbar / Numbers 17:11-12 atonement for the Israelites "for there is wrath" Per Rashi This secret was given over to him by the angel of death when he went up to heaven, that incense holds back the plague… as is related in Tractate Shabbath (89a).
Hopefully this post shows that "sin" is not defined in the bible as Christians have come to define it. It also shows that blood is not necessary for the remission of sin, and that serious wrongdoings could never be atoned for with blood sacrifices, but that prayer, repentence and other methods have always atoned for wrongdoings -- both accidental and intentional.
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 English word “sin.” To the average Christian “sin” means “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.” It doesn’t matter if that immoral act was an accident or “on purpose.” (see Dictionary.com).
Yet for Jews the Hebrew word translated as “sin” is a mistake (a missing of the mark). You tried to do the right thing (it wasn't willful or knowingly doing something wrong). How could "sin" have to do with immoral acts – surely one would KNOW if one committed immorality! What you tried to do something moral and wound up doing something immoral??? Is that even possible???
"Sin” is a חֵטְא / cheit -- an unintentional sin through caelessness — a “missing of the mark."
Making mistakes (trying to do the right thing and missing aka sin) is all about learning from your mistakes and making up for them via apology, repayment, etc. G-d tells Cain way back in Genesis 4 that he can over come sin (this is "after" Adam and Chava (Eve) sinned, so OOPS there goes the idea of "original sin").
G-d clearly tells Cain that he can rise above sin!
So to a Christian the word "sin" generally means 1 John 3:4: “Whosoever breaks the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." Hmmm, this would be the very law (Mosaic) that they later say you don't have to follow?
But John seems to change his mind. 1 John 5:17 says: “All unrighteousness is sin . . .”
Neither definition is the Torah definition of sin. Let me give you an example from the T'nach. Shoftim / Judges 20:16 says that archers are so good with shooting arrows that they can "aim at a hair and not חֵטְא / cheit (miss)."
Another example is in 1 Melachim 1:21 / 1 Kings 1:21. Bat Sheva, King David's wife, comes to him as he lays dying and says: "when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, and I and my son Solomon shall be [considered] חַטָּאִים / chetaim.." She is saying that when David dies Solomon and she will have missed thier opportunity, their potential -- because David's other son, Adoniahu, was trying to take David's place even though David had promised the kingship to Solomon. Rashi's commentary says: "they (Bat Sheva and Solomon will always be lacking and restrained from any greatness."
Examining one word, "sin" shows how Jews and Christians often use the same words in English – but mean very different things! As the title of my page says: Judaism is not Christianity minus Jesus!
What about the Christian contention in Hebrews 9:22 that "the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."? Totally false.
There are many qorbans (translated as "sacrifices", but in Hebrew the term means offers to G-d meant to bring the person closer to G-d). Most qorbans had nothing to do with atoning for anything -- and blood was not required. If one was too poor for an animal, then flour could be substituted for the חַטָּאת / chatat (sin sacrifice).
Many qorbans specified money, incense or flour as well as burnt offers or blood offers.
There were only two types (the chatat – which is for a חֵטְא / cheit – translated as “sin” and meaning a “missing of the mark – you tried to do good but “missed” and the second type of qorban (sacrifice) which could be brought for wrongdoing were the אָשָׁם / asham qorbans which are translated as “guilt” but that is a poor translation. The חַטָּאת / cḥattat (accidental sins) and אָשָׁם / asham sacrifices were PRIVATE offerings brought by INDIVIDUALS, not “atonement” offerings on behalf of the entire nation. Also, no individual sacrifice could be brought for someone else or in advance. The type of offering was specified (female goat or lamb being the most common, but sometimes a bull, birds or flour) -- only domesticated (not wild) kosher animals were fit for sacrifice. Human sacrifices (Jesus anyone?) are totally forbidden by the Torah. Read Vayikra / Leviticus chapter 5 to learn about the אָשָׁם / asham (guilt / tresspass) qorbanot (sacrifices) and the very few things they covered:
Vayikra / Leviticus 5:1 If he is bound by an oath [to give evidence in court], where he was a witness who saw or knew [something], and he does not testify
Vayikra / Leviticus 5:2 The same is true] if a person touches anything ritually unclean, whether it is any dead non-kosher animal, wild or domestic, or any dead unclean creeping animal, and then commits a violation while forgetting that he was unclean.
Vayikra / Leviticus 5:3 if he comes in contact with any ritual uncleanliness stemming from a human being, which renders him unclean, and then forgets about it,
Vayikra / Leviticus 5:4 if a person makes a verbal oath to do good or bad, no matter what is expressed in the oath, and then forgets about it.
The אָשָׁם / asham (guilt / tresspass) qorbanot also atoned for stealing things from the altar.
You also brought an אָשָׁם / asham if you weren't sure if you'd sinned -- or what sin you might have committed. If you weren't sure you'd sinnd you'd bring an asham, instead of a חַטָּאת / cḥattat (accidental sins). This is because a חַטָּאת / cḥattat (accidental sins) means an admission of the sin, and you'd be punished for it. If a person brought an asham (because they weren't sure they'd sinned) and later discovered that he had in fact committed the sin, he would have to bring a chatat at that time.
As shown above, it was also if you broke your word (a breach of trust) that was an asham.
Ashams were eaten by the priests.
The only types of individual sins that could be atoned for with blood sacrifices were these two types: חַטָּאת / cḥattat accidental missing of the mark) and the אָשָׁם / asham PERIOD. Any other type of sin (like willfully doing something wrong had to be atoned for with repentance, charity, turning to G-d, etc. Sacrifices didn’t work at all). Hebrews 9 lied (or whoever wrote it was woefully ignorant of Jewish law including those surrounding sacrifices).
In the next few days I'll be discussing other words that both Christians and Jews use -- but both have very different definitions for them. We'll also discus more about sacrifices, why they existed (G-d doesn't need or want them), and more on words that Christian and Jew use that mean very different things to each.
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.
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.