Translation is not an exact science, even when translating between two languages that are similar one to the other. Hebrew is not similar to Greek or English -- or indeed to any other language, with the possible exceptions of Aramaic and, to a lesser degree, Arabic.
Few words of any language have one and only one sense (or meaning) - most words in most languages have several different meanings. For example, the Hebrew word רֹאשׁ / rosh means head, but it can also mean top, and it can also mean the most important part of something. Rosh is often mistranslated as "new" (leading to the mistranslation of "new year" for רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה / Rosh HaShanah -- literally translated as "head of the year" not "new year").
This variance in different languages makes translating the T'nach (Jewish bible) from Hebrew into English more art than science as a translator must choose the meaning of a Hebrew word, which may itself have multiple meanings, with an English word which also may have multiple meanings and not be a "perfect" match to the Hebrew.
A good example of this is the Hebrew word יוֹם / yom which is often translated as "day." This causes many missionaries (particularly evangelical missionaries) to insist that B'reshit / Genesis must be speaking of a 24 hour "day" in the creation chapter. However, the word יוֹם / yom can have different meanings other than a 24 hour day. The precise meaning of יוֹם / yom in the T'nach has 4 meanings depending on the context.
There is an additional issue when considering English translations. In English some words have changed meaning over time. This issue is also true of Greek words which were used in early translations of the T'nach into Greek.
A word chosen in translation 1800 years ago may mean something different than the word means today.
Consider the argument that the word in Y’shayahu / Isaiah 7:14 means “virgin” when it does not – it more properly translates to “young woman” and does not even suggest virginity or a lack of virginity. The Greek translations of 2000+ years ago (translators unknown, but maintained by Christians) chose the Greek word παρθένος / parthenos.
Today the Koine Greek word παρθένος / parthenos is usually translated as virgin – and thus many a missionary will argue that the word in Y’shayahu / Isaiah 7:14 must be “virgin” (this is complicated by the fact that the Christian bible uses this passage as the “prophecy” that Jesus will be a virgin birth). Yet, 2800 years ago παρθένος / parthenos did not mean virgin. The ancient Greek poet Ὅμηρος / Homer (1200 - 800 BCE) wrote in his Iliad. 2.512-515 that a 'parthenos' gave birth ('teken') to two children: “Ascalaphus and Ialmenus, sons of Mars, led the people that dwelt in Aspledon and Orchomenus the realm of Minyas. Astyoche, a noble maiden (parthenos), bore them in the house of Actor son of Azeus; for she had gone with Mars secretly into an upper chamber, and he had lain with her.”
The ancient Greek translation of B’reshit / Genesis 34:3 states that Dinah is a "parthenos" after her rape by Sh'chem – obviously after rape Dinah was no longer a virgin.
In the misuse of παρθένος / parthenos as "virgin" rather than "young woman" the English translators may well have been innocent. It seems that the word παρθένος / parthenos came to mean "virgin" over time. . . . but originally it did not mean virgin. The Hebrew in Y’shayahu / Isaiah 7:14 is הָעַלְמָה (the young woman). Jews have been trying to correct this Christian mistake for nearly as long as Christianity has existed! Indeed, Justin Martyr (100 CE, so VERY EARLY Christinan) wrote in "Trypho the Jew" that Jews of his era said: "you (Jews) and your teachers venture to affirm that in the prophecy of Isaiah it is not said, 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive,' but, 'Behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son."
Missionaries who insist they do not need to learn Hebrew to understand the “bible” are fooling themselves.
Missionaries who fool themselves into thinking that the King James Version (KJV) is "as good" as the original are deluding themselves.
When one relies on translations one is allowing the translator to be interpreter – for that is what a translator must be. . . Whether words in early English translations no longer have the meaning they had in the 17th century when the King James Translation was first completed (and contains the word “unicorn” along with “virgin!), or whether there are mistranslations due to poor choices or even deceitful choices the reader is an innocent victim of the translator.
Since translation is more art than science the trick is in finding the word in the target language which is the closest in meaning to each word in the source language. Modern translators have the added problem that if they want people to buy their translation it must also “match” what people expect to see.
Thus modern translations often use earlier mistranslations, perhaps because readers expect to see them. The “proof” texts are particularly vulnerable to this “borrowing” from earlier translations.
Not all Christian translations of the 20th and 21st centuries are guilty of the same mistranslations – but most are. Take for example Daniel 9:25. The King James Version (KJV) has “the Messiah the Prince.” The KJV puts the definite article "the" in front of the translation they chose for the Hebrew word מָשִֽׁיחַ / (moshiach). They chose to translate מָשִֽׁיחַ / moshiach as "the messiah” in Daniel 9:25 although the Hebrew word for "the" does not appear at all ('ha").
Let me repeat that: “the messiah” does not appear in Daniel 9:25. There is no “the” in front of the word מָשִֽׁיחַ / moshiach / messiah / anointed one.
The KJV also capitalizes the “m” in “messiah” (there are no capital letters in Hebrew), thus making it appear to “fit” Jesus.
Let's discuss the word "messiah" -- how is it used? What does it mean? How often is it found in the T’nach (Jewish bible)?
The term מָשִֽׁיחַ / moshiach is usually used to speak of priests and kings who have already lived – not “the messiah.” It means “anointed one” and is used often to speak of Aaron, Moses’ brother, who was a messiah – an anointed priest. It is found 39 times in the T’nach (Jewish bible).
34 times the usage is as a noun (messiah) and 5 times the usage is as an adjective (smeared with oil).
Yet most Christian translations only use the word “messiah” once or twice (usually in Daniel 9, sometimes in T'hillim / Psalm 2). . .
Isn’t that amazing?
The word appears 39 times in the תַּנַ"ךְ / T'nach (Jewish bible) – yet it is not translated as “messiah” 39 times by the Christian versions.
Knowing now that the King James has altered Daniel 9:25 to say “the Messiah” when it truly says “messiah” (or “anointed one”) – and that the KJV uses the word “messiah” in Daniel 9, but not in the other 37 locations in appears in the T’nach (Jewish bible) one can begin to see how translators are liars (whether they mean to be or not).
Let’s just look at a few Christian translations for Daniel 9:
None of them use the word “messiah” in the other 37 locations (39 in all) the term actually is found in the T’nach (bible). This selective translation (mistranslation?) misleads their innocent readers.
Perhaps you can see why it is impossible to rely on English translations to truly read the T’nach (bible).
Even Jewish translations are not perfect. Since translation is more art than science the trick is in finding the word in the target language which is the closest in meaning to each word in the source language – consider the example I gave early in this post that the Hebrew word רֹאשׁ rosh means head, but it can also mean top, and it can also mean the most important part of something.
Hebrew is often poetic, and some subtle nuances of meaning may well be lost in the translation, while in other instances false meanings may be presented even with the best of translators. Consider the Hebrew verb לִשְׁמֹר li-sh'mor. This verb is normally translated as to guard, but it can also mean to keep, or even to observe or to fulfill (a law).
However the verbs "to observe" and "to fulfill" also have other meanings: "to observe" can also mean to witness or to watch something happening, and "to fulfil" can also mean to bring something to completion - but the Hebrew verb לִשְׁמֹר li-sh'mor cannot have any of these secondary senses. G-d frequently commands us in the Torah to "keep His mitzvot!"
וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם מִצְוֹתַי וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם “keep my commands and do them" (Vayikra / Leviticus 22:31), and לְאַהֲבָה אֶת יְיָ אֱלֹהֶיךָ... וְלִשְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתָיו וְחֻקֹּתָיו וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו "(to) love HaShem your G-d... and (to) keep His commands, His inexplicable rules and His judgements..." (D'varim / Deuteronomy 30:16).
Any of the identical verbs mentioned above (keep, observe, fulfill) could be chosen to translate there verses but, if "fulfill" were used, it would have to be made clear that it was not being used in the sense of complete/bring to completion because the Hebrew verb לִשְׁמֹר li-sh'mor cannot mean this. Thus, when Matthew reports (5:17) that Jesus claimed that he had come to "fulfill the Torah and the Prophets" it is misused.
Hopefully this post will encourage some of you to begin to learn Hebrew – but even for those of you who cannot dedicate the time to learn the language, just be aware that you need to double check any translations you might use. All translations have issues – even Jewish translations. Yet, many of the Christian translations, even the modern ones, have “built in” prejudices which can lead the reader in error (Daniel 9 and Isaiah 7 are perfect examples of such mistranslations).
The Judaica Press translation of the T'nach is considered by many to be an excellent translation. It is available online free, with or without the commentary of Rashi -- רבי שלמה יצחקי (R' Shlomo Yitzachi / Solomon Isaac), 11th century CE.
The Living Torah is an excellent translation of the Chumash (Torah and Haftarah) by R' Aryeh Kaplan (Z"L). This is also available free online in English, Spanish and Russian.
The Artscroll Stone Edition T'nach (or Chumash) is available for purchase at the Artscroll website.
Matthew 1:20-23 says "an angel of the L-rd appeared to him (Joseph) in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the L-rd had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “G-d with us”)."
1. Let's discuss each point in more detail to prove the statements. עִמָּנוּ (Imanu) mean "with us", and אֵל (el) means mighty and powerful. אֵל (el) often used to describe G-d and is part of other words as well. The verb "to be" is implicit in the expression עִמָּנוּ אֵל. So, the two-word expression עִמָּנוּ אֵל (Immanu-el) means "G-d IS with us."
The term Immanuel is found three times in Isaiah.
In Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7:14 the term עִמָּנוּאֵל is clearly a personal name: "....and she will name him Immanu'el." In Y'shayahu / Isaiah 8:10, it is clearly a phrase "G-d is with us!" and not a personal name: "Devise a plan but it will be scotched; say your piece but it will not succeed, because G-d is with us!" In the case of Y'shayahu / Isaiah 8:8 it seems to again be referring to a person (and is his name): "....and its wingspan will extend across the entire width of your country, Immanu'el !"
Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7:14 says "she shall call his name Immanuel." Matthew says she (Mary) names him Jesus, but THEY will call him Immanuel. Whoever "they" might be this is not a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy which clearly says SHE (the mother) will name him Immanuel. This may seem unimportant -- but it turns Matthew's "fulfillment" into a false claim of prophetic fulfillment.
2. There is no prophecy that a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son. This could be a very, very long discussion as this is a key argument on the part of missionaries. It is silly, too, because if Jesus WERE a virgin birth he would have no claim to being the messiah. The messiah must be of the tribe of Judah -- and tribal status is only passed through the biological father impregnating a Jewish woman and thus passing on the tribe. If Jesus was a virgin birth he had no tribe and thus could not be the messiah.
Missionaries insist that the Hebrew הָעַלְמָה ha-al'mah (the young woman) means virgin. There are literally books and websites galore trying to convince people that ha-al'mah (the young woman) means virgin. The Hebrew word for "virgin" is בתולה / b'tulah. The Hebrew for "young woman" is עַלְמָה al'mah (the הָ / ha prefix means "the"). Young women may or may not be virgins, and a virgin may or may not be young! The two words are not interchangeable.
The mistranslation to "virgin" seems to stem from the Greek word παρθενος / parthenos which is often (but not always) translated as "virgin." At one time the Greek word παρθενος / parthenos was used to describe an unmarried woman -- virgin or no virgin. It also did not infer youth (as does the Hebrew word עַלְמָה / al'mah ). The Christian Septuagint / LXX used the word παρθενος / parthenos to speak of refers Dinah in B'reshit / Genesis 34:3, right after she was raped by Shechem and was no longer a virgin.
As far back as the first century of the common era Jews tried to correct Christians on "virgin" in Isaiah 7. Justin Martyr (100 CE, so VERY EARLY Christian) wrote in "Trypho the Jew" that Jews of his era said:
"You (Jews) and your teachers venture to affirm that in the prophecy of Isaiah it is not said, 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive,' but, 'Behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son."
Ergo this debate has gone on nearly since the beginning of Christianity, with Jews trying to correct this Christian translation error and Christians ignoring us. Since most pagan religions had virgin births the early Christians most likely did not want to be corrected, and with the passage of time many missionaries now believe that Jews "changed" the meaning of the word הָעַלְמָה ha-al'mah (the young woman) -- which is easily shown to be untrue since Hebrew words are based on root words and their is a corresponding word for "young man"!
Still, by focusing on the word ha-al'mah (the young woman) missionaries are obsessing over the wrong word. The focus should be on the next word -- הָרָה harah. It is easy enough to debunk the virgin birth "prophecy" claim of Y'shayahu / Isaiah without focusing on the word הָעַלְמָה ha-al'mah (the young woman).
In Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7:14. הָרָה harah is the adjective "pregnant." (not "will conceive"). The words הִנֵּה הָעַלְמָה הָרָה hinneh ha-almah harah mean "there [pointing to her] is a pregnant young woman"
Since Isaiah was literally pointing out a pregnant woman to King Ahaz 700 years before Jesus this prophecy has nothing to do with Jesus or the messiah being "born of a virgin." הָעַלְמָה ha-al'mah (the young woman) says nothing about the young woman being a virgin or not being a virgin (although most pregnant women are not virgins).
Leaving , mistranslated as "virgin." (הָעַלְמָה ha-al'mah) untranslated, save for noting that the prefix ha- (which is normally the definite article "the") is being used here with poetic license in the sense of the demonstrative pronoun "that", lending emphasis to "that al'mah over there", i.e. the "al'mah" the prophet was pointing to as he spoke.
The words in question are הָרָה harah and וְיֹלֶֽדֶת v'yoledet.
The word : וְיֹלֶֽדֶת v'yoledet (the fourth word in the prophet's statement) is the feminine singular present participle of the root ילד (to give birth), and means "[she] is giving birth"....
If the woman is about to give birth in front of Ahaz and Isaiah how can this be a prophecy about Jesus who would not be born for another 700 years?
Isaiah is saying literally: "she is about to give birth [at any moment]", and used the present participle just to indicate immediacy. The word after v'yoledet, i.e. בֵּן bén, simply means "a son."
The word in Isaiah 7 is not virgin -- but even if it were "virgin" the prophecy is clearly not about the messiah or Jesus. The woman was giving birth, or very close to it, 700 years before Jesus.
To understand the prophecy of Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7:14 read the chapter starting with the first line. The chapter is a warning to King Ahaz of Judah (who lived 700 years before Jesus). Isaiah tells King Ahaz that he needn't fear the two kings he is worried about.
Talking to King Ahaz the prophet Isaiah points to a pregnant young woman in the room and tells King Ahaz that before the unborn child is very old the two kings feared by Ahaz will be defeated. THIS is the prophecy. I could go into length to explain that the Hebrew is speaking of a pregnant woman, not a virgin who will have a child -- but that is really not important. (That must be quite a shock to missionaries!). Virgins get pregnant all the time -- and it is even possible for a virgin to get pregnant without intercourse. That is NOT the prophecy.
Knowing the background (King Ahaz is worried that he may be defeated by two kings and the prophet assures him that there is nothing to worry about) read on: "Therefore, HaShem, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanu'el. Cream and honey he shall eat when he knows to reject bad and choose good. For, when the lad does not yet know to reject bad and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread, shall be abandoned." Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7:14-16
Those two kings are indeed defeated as Isaiah foretold Read Melachim Beit / II Kings 16:5 "Then Rezin the king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war, and they besieged Ahaz, but could not wage war [with him].. . "
The prophecy of Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7 is fulfilled in Melachim Beit / II Kings 16.
Ahaz, the very king of Isaiah 7 for whom Isaiah is making the prophecy about the child saw Rezin and Pekah be destroyed - just as Isaiah prophesied in chapter 7: "the land whose two kings you dread, shall be abandoned." Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7:16
As the missionary: "Which two kings did Jesus dread?
Ask the missionary: "Which lands of those two kings were abandoned during Jesus' lifetime"?
The answers are of course: none and none.
What of the child who is to be born in Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7:14-16? The importance was not his birth, but the fact that before the child was very old those two kings would be destroyed. Again, this is in the text: "Cream and honey he (the child) shall eat when he knows to reject bad and choose good. Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7:15. By the time the child is eating solid food (not just breast milk) and knows the difference between good and bad behavior those kings will be gone.
The child's importance is only to give the King a time frame of when his enemies will be destroyed. I suggest you read Yeshayahu/Isaiah 7:14 and Almah with child or not with child.
3. Matthew's claim that Mary will "give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” is biblically impossible. The Hebrew verb לְהוֹשִֽׁיעַ l'hoshiy'a (to “save”) and יְשׁוּעָה y'shu'ah (“salvation”, i.e. being “saved”) along with מוֹשִֽׁיעַ moshiy'a (a “savior”, i.e. one who “saves”) can not have anything to do with saving a person from sin. The Hebrew words are all connected with rescuing another person who is under attack by a third person and is in danger of being harmed by him, and usually is only used in the context of engaging in physical combat with the attacker. For this reason Hebrew “translations” of Matthew 1:21 are so much gibberish when one considers the Hebrew words in question. To read more on the topic of salvation, please read this blog post.
The bible makes it clear that each of us is responsible for our own sins. The idea that someone can "save" or "rescue" you from your sins is not biblical. The T'nach makes it clear that no one can die for the sins of another. Read D'varim / Deuteronomy 24:16 "Fathers shall not die [through the testimony] of their sons, and sons shall not die [through the testimony] of their fathers, since [in any case] every man shall die for his sins."
4. The prophecy in the T'nach (Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7:14) was for King Ahaz who lived 700 years before Jesus -- ergo a prophecy about for him had nothing to do with Jesus, or his birth.
King Ahaz (who lived 700 years before Jesus) is worried that he may be defeated by two kings and the prophet assures him that there is nothing to worry about) read on: "Therefore, HaShem, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanu'el. Cream and honey he shall eat when he knows to reject bad and choose good. For, when the lad does not yet know to reject bad and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread, shall be abandoned." Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7:14-16
In Melachim Beit / II Kings 16:5 "Then Rezin the king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war, and they besieged Ahaz, but could not wage war [with him].. . " those two kings are defeated as Isaiah had predicted, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7.
5. Jesus was never called Immanu'el -- he was called Jesus. Prophecy is an exact science and G-d doesn't get it 'nearly right' - He gets it EXACTLY right". Every detail of a prophecy has to be satisfied precisely.
Isaiah says the MOTHER will name the child Immanu'el. Matthew says that the mother will name her child Jesus (not Immau'el) but that "they" (unidentified) will "call him" Immanu'el.
This means that Matthew's angel got it wrong.
Because Matthew changed Isaiah's prophecy from "and she will name him Immanu'el" to "and they will name him Immanu'el" Missionaries today will insist that Jesus "fulfilled" this prophecy because Christians call Jesus "Immanu'el" (and indeed they do -- particularly at this time of year in a few of their holiday songs).
This may satisfy Matthew, but it does not satisfy Isaiah or Hebrew knowledgeable people. In English, "calling" a person something can mean referring to him by that name as well as formally naming him -- but in Hebrew וְקָרָאת שְׁמוֹ v'karaat sh'mo.... (literally "and she will call his name") can only refer to a formal naming ceremony.
And Jesus' formal name was NOT Immanu'el. Ergo Matthew twisted two important points here: the baby in Matthew's nativity tale fails to meet the prophet Isaiah's prophecy for two reasons just when it comes to the name itself.
There are many reasons Y'shayahu / Isaiah 7 does not work as a prophecy for Jesus -- but Mary's lack of naming the child Immanu'el per the prophecy is such a glaring and obvious prophecy failure that it alone would refute the "virgin birth" contention. In this post five reasons have been shown -- including the fact that the true prophecy was for a king who lived 700 years before Jesus -- and it was fulfilled in his lifetime.
If you search the internet you will find site after site arguing that the word in Isaiah 7 can mean "virgin" (it cannot, and does not). That is immaterial. It really does not matter if the word DID mean virgin. That point is the wrong one to even discuss. Read Y'shayahu / Isaiah chapter 7 (the entire chapter) and it is clear that Jesus was not born in the days of Ahaz, for whom the message was given. "And the L-rd continued to speak to (King) Ahaz, saying "Ask for yourself a sign from the L-rd, your G-d: ask it either in the depths, or in the heights above." Yeshayahu / Isaiah 7:10-11.
King Ahaz lived 700 years BCE. If the sign was for him (as G-d Himself said) then how could this be a prophecy that Jesus would be born from a virgin? King Ahaz had been dead 700 years before Jesus -- so Jesus' birth could in no way be a sign for King Ahaz! In other words this is a VERY SPECIFIC prophecy for one person (Ahaz) and trying to fit it to another (Jesus) is deceit and nothing more.
As mentioned in this post Jesus was not eligible to be the messiah if he was a "virgin birth." 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. The messiah will be a normal human. He will not be a demigod, The messiah will not possess supernatural qualities either, and performing miracles is not a criteria to be the messiah either.
The Messiah (moshiach ben David -- the messiah son of David) must be descended on his father's side from King David (see B'reshit / Genesis 49:10, Yeshayahu / Isaiah 11:1, Yirmiyahu / Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Yechezkel / 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.
The T'nach (Jewish bible) makes it clear that the messiah must be descended from King David and King David's son Solomon. Some missionaries will claim that the "promise" that the throne must pass through Solomon is conditional, but this is untrue.
2 Samuel 7:12-16 – When your days (King David) will be completed and you will lie with your forefathers, then I shall raise up your seed after you, that which will issue from your loins, and I shall establish his kingdom. (13) He shall build a Temple for My sake, and I shall make firm the throne of his kingdom forever.
And then read 1 Chronicles 22:9-10 – Behold a son will be born to you; he will be a man of peace, and I shall give him peace from all his enemies around about, for Solomon will be his name, and I shall give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. (10) He shall build a House in My Name, and he shall be to Me as a son, and I to him as a Father, and I shall prepare the throne of his kingdom forever.
And while you're at it read 1 Kings 8:15-20; 1 Chronicles 17:11-15, 22:9-10, and 28:3-7. Torah is clear that the messiah must be a physical offspring of both David and Solomon. The Torah specifies that blood rights, such as tribal lineage, are transmitted exclusively from a father to his biological sons. Whenever the Israelites were selected to serve in the army, it was done "according to the house of their father (Bamidbar / Numbers 1:17 - 18).
"Who is a Jew" passes maternally (see D'varim / Deuteronomy 7:1–5, Vayikra / Leviticus 24:10, and Ezra 10:2–3) and lineage (tribal status) passes paternally (by the father -- assuming one first has a Jewish mother) -- and ALL of this is found in the written Torah. Sh'mot / Exodus 6:14, 6:25, B'midbar / Numbers 17:21, 34:14, 36:1, Y'hoshua / Joshua 14:1, 19:51, 21:1, 22:14, Ezra 1:5, 2:59, 2:68, 3:12, 4:2-3, 8:1, 10:16; N'ḥemyah / Nehemiah 7:61, 7:69-70, 8:13, 12:12, 12:22-23. According to the Torah, lineage/pedigree, a blood right, is passed exclusively by a biological father to his sons.
Ergo the virgin birth totally disqualifies Jesus from being the messiah.
Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Joseph was Jesus biological father. Joseph impregnated his wife, Mary, and she gave birth to a child, Jesus. The Christian bible tells us that Joseph was of the tribe of Judah, so would a normal human child from Joseph's sperm be eligible to be the messiah?
The Christian bible gives two different and conflicting lineages for Joseph. Some missionaries will claim that one of those is actually the lineage of Mary (even though the Christian bible says that both are the lineage of Joseph). If one were Mary's birth lineage it would be immaterial as a wife takes her husband's tribe upon marriage. Her birth tribe becomes moot (ancient history, unimportant). A woman does not pass tribal rights to her children -- that is passed only from the father as shown by all those passages quoted earlier in this post.
Does the lineage of Joseph given by Matthew and also by Luke put Jesus in the running to be the messiah?
Let's examine each one.
Matthew skips four kings in his lineage. Melachim 1 / I Kings Chapters 1 through Melachim II / II Kings Chapter 24, Divrei Hayamim I / I Chronicles 3:10-17, and Divrei Hayamim II / II Chronicles Chapters 1-36 show the lineages from King Solomon to King Jeconiah. Matthew skips: Ahaziah son of Jehoram, Jehoash son of Ahaziah, Amaziah son of Jehoash and Uzziah son of Amaziah (also called Azariah.
Why does Matthew eliminate 4 kings representing 81 years of leadership?
Matthew 1:17 states "so all the generations from Abraham to David are 14 generations, and from David to the Babylonian exile are 14 generations, and from the Babylonian exile until the messiah are 14 generations"
This is inaccurate. There were 18 generations -- Matthew eliminated four of them. The T'nach lists the list of lineage in three separate places in the T'nach. Link.
Eliminating four generations still might put Joseph, and his sons, in line to claim kingship, but Mathew makes one more and far more serious error in his list. Matthew left out a generation and the names given after Zerubbabel don't match 1 Chronicles 3. With such glaring errors can Matthew's genealogy be trusted?
Matthew includes King Jeconiah in his lineage for Jesus and Joseph. Yirmiyahu / Jeremiah 22:30 states that none of Jeconiah's heirs will ever be kings of the Jews. Thus by including Jeconiah in Jesus (and Joseph)'s lineages Matthew has just eliminated Jesus from the possibility of ever being an anointed (messiah) king of the Jews.
Some missionaries try to "get around" the problem of Jeconiah's line being cursed and removed from the throne. They claim that the curse on Jeconiah was lifted and they point to a Talmudic passage which says that Jeconiah repented, and G-d forgave him. Yet missionaries reject the Talmud! This missionary attempt to put Jeconiah back in the kingly lineage also throws a monkey wrench into the Christian theology that says that only blood can atone for sins. If Jeconiah can ask for forgiveness and be forgiven, why does anyone need Jesus to die for their sins?
Bottom line regarding Matthew's lineage for Joseph: it excludes both Joseph and Jesus from kingship because it includes Jeconiah in the line and G-d removed him from any future descendants being kings. (Again, if Joseph was not Jesus' biological father he had no rights to the throne either).
OK, what about Luke? Luke gives a totally different lineage than Matthew. Would a male child from Joseph and his wife, Mary, be eligible for the Jewish throne? The third chapter of Luke is irrelevant to this discussion because it describes lineage of David's son Nathan, not Solomon. (Luke 3:31). Based on Luke's lineage Jesus would not have the correct pedigree to be messiah.
So from the very start -- his lineage -- Jesus was not eligible to be a messiah. But having the right lineage (which many even alive today can boast -- after all Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines) does not make anyone the messiah.
To be the messiah a man must not only have the right lineage (which Jesus lacked), he must also be anointed with the שֶֽׁמֶן מִשְׁחַת קֹדֶשׁ shemen mish'ḥat kodesh (“Oil of Anointment of Sanctity”). Notice the word מִשְׁחַת /mish'ḥat? It means anointment. This special mixture of spice and olive oil is the only one that was used for “anointing” Jewish kings or priests. You can read about it in Sh'mot / Exodus 30:22-33:
" G-d spoke to Moses, saying: 30:23 You must take the finest fragrances, 500 [shekels] of distilled myrrh, [two] half portions, each consisting of 250 [shekels] of fragrant cinnamon and 250 [shekels] of fragrant cane, 30:24 and 500 shekels of cassia, all measured by the sanctuary standard, along with a gallon of olive oil. 30:25 Make it into sacred anointing oil. It shall be a blended compound, as made by a skilled perfumer, [made especially for] the sacred anointing oil. 30:26 Then use it to anoint the Communion Tent, the Ark of Testimony, 30:27 the table and all its utensils, the menorah and its utensils, the incense altar, 30:28 the sacrificial altar and all its utensils, the washstand and its base. 30:29 You will thus sanctify them, making them holy of holies, so that anything touching them becomes sanctified. 30:30 You must also anoint Aaron and his sons, sanctifying them as priests to Me. 30:31 Speak to the Israelites and tell them, 'This shall be the sacred anointing oil to Me for all generations. 30:32 Do not pour it on the skin of any [unauthorized] person, and do not duplicate it with a similar formula. It is holy, and it must remain sacred to you. 30:33 If a person blends a similar formula, or places it on an unauthorized person, he shall be cut off [spiritually] from his people."
Jesus was never anointed with this, the only oil used to anoint Jewish kings. Any claims of being anointed by the "holy spirit" or another oil is immaterial -- it is not the right method for anointing Jewish kings as defined by G-d in the Torah (bible).
Lastly, and most important of all, Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies. Missionaries counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming, but Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright; in the T'nach no concept of a second coming exists. In fact, the T'nach says when a person dies, "on that day his plans all perish." T'hillim / Psalm 146:4.
The excuse of Jesus’ “second coming” is an admission that Jesus failed to fulfill these essential Messianic passages. Couldn't anyone claim to be the messiah -- and promise to fulfill the prophecies "next time"? The question then becomes why anyone should believe that person was the Messiah when they first came upon the scene?
Paul seemed to realize that the two lineages were a problem. He wrote "But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless." Titus 3:9.
Most adults know the difference between reality and stories. Reality is the actual things that happen to real people and stories are flights of fancy -- like fairy tales, Harry Potter boks, Homer Simpson, SpongeBob Squarepants, etc.
That should be pretty clear to everyone, right?
So why, when it comes to the idea of prophecy, do people ignore reality and go straight to the fantasy?
The only logical answer is that the reality doesn't say what some people want it to say. As a result they immediately fly to "types and shadows," -- the nonliteral. The "it makes no sense, but just have faith" argument.
This is totally unbiblical (believe it or not) and definitely un-Jewish.
Some missionaries, upon realizing that things in the T'nach (Jewish bible) actually referred to something or someone in the surrounding text came up with the myth of "dual prophecy." This fiction says "oh sure, that prophecy was for XYZ, but it ALSO fits Jesus." Total nonsense. There is no such thing as "dual prophecy." Find me ONE statement from the T'nach (bible) stating that prophecies have dual meanings. There are none.
Take any "proof text" that is part of "dual prophecy" and read it IN CONTEXT. Do this and the dual prophecy claim quickly falls apart.
Yeshayahu / Isaiah 7:14 -- This is the supposed prophecy that Jesus will be born from a virgin birth. But read Yeshayahu / Isaiah chapter 7 (the entire chapter) and it is clear that Jesus was not born in the days of Ahaz, for whom the message was given. "And the L-rd continued to speak to (King) Ahaz, saying "Ask for yourself a sign from the L-rd, your G-d: ask it either in the depths, or in the heights above." Yeshayahu / Isaiah 7:10-11. King Ahaz lived 700 years BCE. If the sign was for him (as G-d Himself said) then how could this be a prophecy that Jesus would be born from a virgin? King Ahaz had been dead 700 years before Jesus -- so Jesus' birth could in no way be a sign for King Ahaz! In other words this is a VERY SPECIFIC prophecy for one person (Ahaz) and trying to fit it to another (Jesus) is deceit and nothing more. Link to translation.
Matthew 2:15 says "Out of Egypt I called my son." This is supposedly fulfillment of the prophecy by the prophet Hosea in chapter 11. What does Hosea 11 actually say? "For, when Israel was young, I loved him, and from Egypt I called My son." Hoshea / Hosea 11:1 Again to call this a "dual" prophecy about Jesus ignores the context and is deceitful, nothing more. Link to translation.
Fiction (story telling) versus reality.
As these few examples show a specific prophecy cannot be used for something that does not apply to it -- out of time and context.
Prophecy is another of those words that have very different meanings in the T'nach / Judaism and Christianity. Prophecy in Judaism is very different from the "fortune teller" concept found in the Western view of the term. The Meriam-Webster dictionary says that prophecy is "a statement that something will happen in the future." That is a Christian definition, but not the biblical one.
The Hebrew word for prophecy is נְבוּאָה / navua (a feminine noun). A נָבִיא / navi (prophet) had direct communication with G-d (through dreams and / or visions with the exception of Moses who spoke directly with G-d), and who relayed G-d’s message to his or her own generation. The way a Christian uses the term "prophet" or "prophecy" would be a רֹאֶה Ro'eh (“Seer”) not a נָבִיא Navi (“Prophet”).
Samuel is called a רֹאֶה Ro'eh (“Seer”) in Divrei Hayamim Alef / 1 Chronicles 9:22, 26:28 and 29:29, but he is also called a נָבִיא Navi (“Prophet”) in Divrei Hayamim Beit / 2 Chronicles 35:18, showing that the two terms are not identical. There is also the word חֹזֶה Ḥozeh (“Visionary”). This word describes someone who experiences “visions." Other than Moses all prophets did communicate with G-d through visions and dreams.
Some messages had meaning for the current and future generations, but all prophecy must have a message for the current generation (of that prophet), be direct from G-d (not through an angel or intermediary) and cannot contradict the Torah. If the message is not for the current generation (of the living prophet) and is from an intermediary (not G-d) it is not prophecy per the definition of the wrod.
Thus prophecy is a personal relationship and contact between a צדוק / tzadok (righteous person) and G-d. This is usually through dreams although Moses had communication with G-d while he was awake. Navua doesn’t mean fortune telling or predicting the future, although sometimes these are present.
The word is based on niv sefatayim meaning "fruit of the lips," which emphasizes the navi's role as a speaker. A navi is really a spokesperson for G-d – one who speaks to his or her generation on behalf of G-d.
The greatest navi to ever live was Moses. He could hear G-d clearly and directly (as if “face to face”).“When Moses came into the Tent of Meeting to speak to Him, he heard the Voice speaking to him." (Bamidbar / Numbers 7:89).
Most other navi’s heard from G-d as if through a prism, or a fog – through dreams and visions“I make Myself known to him (other prophets than Moses) in a vision. I speak to him in a dream." (Bamidbar / Numbers 12:6).The Rambam wrote that to be a prophet one must be wise, have a clear mind, be; of impeccable character, and totally in control of their emotions. A prophet is mature, of a calm nature and full of joy. A prophet is not interested in material things or the frivolities of life. A prophet’s desire is to devote themselves entirely to knowing and serving G-d.
At the height of prophecy all Jews were prophets – and prophecy existed in Israel because having all the Jews together in the holy land made for a holy enough link for it to exist and thrive. There were Yeshivot (schools) dedicated to training people to be navis – because one must be very much a tzedak (righteous person) to have that kind of a link to G-d.
Not all prophets were Jews (though most were) and there were women as well as men prophets.
Even if a person meets all the criteria G-d may not give them prophecy (and for now we are not in an age of prophecy so there are no prophets. Jesus and Mohamad could not have been prophets, because prophecy was gone by then).
If a prophet did tell of what would happen in the future such a statement was given either as a promise or a warning. Promises always come to pass. Warnings from prophets (of potential calamities) may or may not happen. Any negative prophetic warning can always be prevented through prayer and repentance. Think of the story of Jonah and the people of Nineveh who were able to avoid the curse by heeding the prophet’s warning. . .
The Book of Daniel is not found in Prophets in the T’nach and is not considered prophecy. Christians upon hearing this are usually outraged – but consider the definition you’ve been given. Daniel did not communicate directly with G-d. Daniel communicated with an angel. Thus the information in Sefer Daniel (the Book of Daniel) is not prophecy. This does not lessen its value or importance. Was Daniel a prophet? That was a debate among our sages, some say yes and some say no. We do know that the information we have from him is not prophecy (for the reasons just given).
The T’nach itself gives us a stern warning against listening to soothsayers and diviners.Vayikra / Leviticus 19:26-31 “you shall not indulge in sorcery, and you shall not believe in lucky times. . . You shall not turn to the mediums, nor shall you seek after the wizards, [and thereby] be defiled by them; I am the L-rd your G-d.”This creates problems for Christianity. The Christian bible is full of stories of Jesus talking to the dead, demons, the "devil", etc. are all forbidden. (D'varim / Deuteronomy 18:11 and 19:31).
We are warned not to follow false prophets – including those who show us miracles. Miracles do not “prove” a prophet (let alone a messiah).
"If there should stand up in your midst a prophet or a dreamer of a dream, and he will produce to you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes about, of which he spoke to you, saying "Let us follow gods of others that you did not know (at Sinai) and we shall worship them do not hearken to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of a dream, for HASHEM, your G-d, is testing you to know whether you love HASHEM, your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul. HASHEM, your G-d, shall you follow and Him shall you fear; His commandments shall you observe and to His voice shall you hearken; Him shall you serve and to Him shall you cleave. And that prophet and that dreamer of a dream shall be put to death, for he had spoken perversion against HASHEM, your G-d Who takes you out of the land of Egypt, and Who redeems you from the house of slavery to make you stray from the path on which HASHEM, you G-d, has commanded you to go; and you shall destroy the evil from your midst." (Artscroll) D’varim / Deuteronomy 13:2-6.
If someone adds to or subtracts from the Torah -- changing any of its lessons and mitzvot -- they are a false prophet. D'varim / Deuteronomy 18 says there will be prophets after Moses -- and that these prophets will not change or "add to" Torah. Both Jesus and Mohamad changed the unchangeable rules of the Torah, thus they would have been false prophets.
By the time of Jesus (and later Mohamad) prophecy had been gone for hundreds of years. As Israel was destroyed and holiness declined (with the encroachment of Hellenism) prophecy became more and more sporadic.
The last prophets realized that it was declining and that we were entering a period when there would be no more prophecy for a long time. Therefore Ezra, a prophet, called a Sanhedrin which came to be known as the Men of the Great Assembly. There were 120 members rather than 70. They codified the T’nach and Siddur (prayer book) and prepared the Jews for the move from the era of Proecy to the era of Knowledge . . .the era we are still in today.
The T’nach tells us of the end of prophecy.We have not seen our signs; there is no longer a prophet, and no one with us knows how long. (T'hillim / Psalms 74:9).Two things converged to bring prophecy to an end. One is the Diaspora -- the dispersal of Jews from the land of Judah (Israel). The majority of Jews did not return to Israel from the Babylonian (Iranian) exile, and without a majority of Jews in Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel aka the land of the living) prophecy is limited.
The second reason prophecy ended is because the Men of the Great Assembly appealed to G-d to remove the desire for idolatry and with it went the gift of prophecy (Talmud, Yoma 69b).
With the end of prophecy came the "Age of Wisdom." We still have the spirit of G-d in our midst and we have His Torah, along with His sages. The instructions had been given, now it is up to us to implement them. This is why the last of the prophets implemented the T'nach (Jewish bible, including Prophets and Writings) as well as the Siddur (Jewish prayer book).
Thus we know for certain that Jesus was not a prophet. There is proof within the Christian bible itself that Jesus was not a prophet (or rather that he was a false prophet).
According to the Christian bible, Jesus “prophesied” the following: Matthew 16:28 (NIV)“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." That generation that Jesus addressed died 20 centuries ago, ergo this was a false prediction.
Jesus also predicted the time he will spend in the tomb (the “Sign of Jonah”): Matthew 12:40 (NIV) “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus died on Friday afternoon and “rose” on Sunday before dawn – a total of some 36 hours. The Gospel of Matthew says that Jesus remained in the tomb from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening at nightfall - a total of some 26 hours (Matthew 28:1). Neither equal three days. False prediction.
Conclusion: If Jesus was a prophet at all, he was a false one. But it is immaterial as we know Jesus was NOT a prophet as prophecy ended with the last of the prophets in the T'nach (Ezra and the other prophets in the Great Assembly).
Prophets receive a direct (from G-d) communication that is clear. Prophets communicate the message to people of their own generation (the Hebrew word for "prophet" has to do with imparting the message to others -- a spokesperson for G-d). To be a prophet a person proved himself (or herself) as a prophet by accurately telling a message to the people that was a direct communication from G-d -- and that message (usually a warning) comes to pass. Just imparting a vision is not sufficient. To be a prophet, the prophet must be correct at least three times, just as Moses was given three signs in Shemot / Exodus 4:9.
Thus a "secondary message" that is not clear (requires drash, aka "types and shadows" let alone "dual prophecy") violates the very concept of prophecy itself. Even a "first message" which came directly from G-d (required to be prophecy) that was unclear or required interpreting hints (remez) or inferring something that isn't clearly there (drash) doesn't fit the definition of prophecy.
There is debate in Judaism as to whether Daniel was a prophet -- because the visions he saw (as reported in Ketuvim) were with an angel, not directly with HaShem. Prophecy requires direct communication with G-d. The Book of Daniel (Sefer Daniel) is not found in Prophets in the T'nach. The Men of the Great Assembly who codified the T'nach (Jewish bible) placed Sefer Daniel in Writings (Ketuvim) not Prophets (Nevi'im). Thus while whether or not Daniel himself was a prophet is debatable, the book of Daniel is clearly not prophecy. Thus the Book of Daniel is in Writings (Ketuvim) and not Prophets (Nevi'im).
For those reading this who do not know the terms p'shat, drash and sod, these terms relate to the various levels the Jewish bible is read, PaRDeS:
* P'shat (פְּשָׁט) - the "plain" ("simple") meaning of a passage (prophecy is always based on 'pshat)
* Remez (רֶמֶז) - "hints" implied in the text but not explicit
* Drash (דְּרַשׁ) - which is a deeper or even midrashic meaning -- often inferred from other scripture
* Sod (סוֹד) - "secret" ("mystery") meanings
On top of all that prophecy is never hidden. The Jewish bible itself never once gives an example of a prophecy being "dual" or being "hidden." Thus the Christian concept of changing the meanings long after the fact are simply not supported in the Jewish bible. The real meaning of any biblical passage is the p'shat (plain meaning). Everything else is a kind of midrash, -- a story which is not literal, but is meant to teach some supplementary message. Propheyc is NEVER based on drash, still less from rĕmĕz or sod. Prophecy is only based on a text’s p'shat (actual meaning)—never on d'rash (sermons derived from, or based on, it). The Talmud tells us: "A verse cannot depart from its plain meaning." Shabbat 63a, Y'vamot 11b, and Y'vamot 24a. Rashi, the 11th century Torah commentator, quotes this at B'reshit / Genesis 15:10, 37:19 and Sh'mot / Exodus 12:2).
The Ramban (Nachmanides) explained reality versus fiction to the King of Aragon (Spain) (when a missionary back in the 12th century tried to pull the same trick on him in person (misusing Midrashic interpretation) as if it were literal) The Ramban said to the King: "We have a third book called Midrash, meaning sermons. It is just as if the bishop would rise and deliver a sermon, and one of the listeners whom the sermon pleased recorded it." (Disputation at Barcelona).
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.