Nazarene Space

There is a ritual in Judaism of passing authority to teach via laying on of hands, called "smikah". When a Rabbi is ordained he receives SMIKAH via laying on of hands. The Rabbis claim a line of SMIKAH going back to Moses, "Apostolic" Christian groups often trace a similar line of "Apostolic Authority" going back to the Apostles... This is an interesting topic and I will post a starter post in the discussions section on this.

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Very interesting... hmmm... sweet...I m amazed in how things are getting clear...I'm looking forward to learn more about it.
Thanks Dr. Trimm
Nice!!! This should be realy interesting.
(Matt. 21:23-32 Messiah’s s’mikhah)

23 And when He had come to the Temple, the Chief Cohenim and the elders of the
people approached Him as He was teaching, saying, By what authority do you these
things? And who gave you this authority?
24 And Yeshua answered and said to them: I also will ask you this thing, which if you
tell me, I in like wise will tell you, by what means I do what I am doing.
25 The immersion of Yochanan--of where was it: of Heaven, or of men? And they
reasoned with themselves and said, If we shall say, Of Heaven, He will say to us, Why
did you not believe him?
26 But if we shall say, Of men, we fear the crowd: for Yochanan was in the eyes of all as
a prophet.
27 And they answered and said to Yeshua, We know not. And He also said to them: And
neither tell I you, by what means I do these things.
28 But how seems it to you? There was one man which had two sons. And he
approached the first, and said, My son, go work today in my vineyard.
29 But he answered and said, I will not do so: but after that, he repented and went.
30 And he approached the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I will
go, my master, but he went not.
31 Which of these two, did the father's will? They answered Him, The first. And Yeshua
said to them: Truly I tell you, that the transgressors and harlots go before you, into the
Kingdom of Elohim.
32 For Yochanan came to you in the way of righteousness, and you believed him not: but
the transgressors and harlots believed him. And you, when you had seen, repented not
after that, to believe him.


21:23-27 By what authority…? –

The Pharisees challenge Yeshua as to where his s’mikhah, or authority comes from. Yeshua responds by asking them about where Yochanan’s authority came from. Yeshua was not evading their question. Yeshua was raising this point because Yeshua’s earthly authority (s’mikhah) came from Yochanan (Jn. 1:6-8, 15, 26-27, 29-37) and Yochanan’s authority was from an Esseness rather than a Pharisaic source. Thus Yeshua’s s’mikhah traced back through Yochanan to the Essene line of s’mikhah. Yeshua was putting the Pharisses in the position of either acknowledging Essene Halachic authority or declaring it to be false. It would appear that the Pharisees were hesitant to question the s’mikhah of a sect that was known for being even stricter on observance than they were.
Dr Trimm,

I would like to comment on your last post. You stated, "Yochanan’s authority was from an Esseness rather than a Pharisaic source. Thus Yeshua’s s’mikhah traced back through Yochanan to the Essene line of s’mikhah"

I'm not sure I can agree with this conclusion. I understand Yochanan's Essene background, but according to Yeshua's question, Yochanan's authority came from men or from Heaven (i.e. Elohim Himself); these are the only two options. I believe the implication is clear, that Yochanan's authority came from Heaven and not from men (i.e. Essenes), and thus, Yeshua's authority came from Elohim as well.

Just my two cents.

In Yeshua,
Rudy.
In recent times there has been great concern and interest in the Nazarene movement on the issue of Halachic authority. Because this issue is of vital importance to the restoration of the ancient sect of the Nazarenes (Netzarim) I have found myself compelled to clarify the matter by treating the issues involved.

Halachic authority is the authority to make halachic determinations interpreting the Torah forbidding and permitting activities based on these interpretations, and resolving matters between fellow believers. The word "halacha" means "the way to walk." Torah observance requires halachic authority for three reasons. First there are matters about which the Torah is ambiguous and must be clarified. For example the matter of what a "bill of divorcement" must actually say is not clarified. Secondly is the matter of conflicting Torah commands. For example the Torah requires the priests to circumcise on the eight day after a birth, but also requires rest from work on the Sabbath. Which commandment holds priority? Finally the Torah requires us to establish courts (see Deut. 16:18).

In the Torah the Halachic authority was originally held by Moses himself (Ex. 18:13) but later a council of Elders were appointed (Ex. 18:13-26; Dt. 1:9-18) These Elders showed men "the way wherein they must walk" (i.e. Halacha) (Ex. 18:20) Their judgements were regarded as the judgement of G-d himself (Dt. 1:17) and were even called "Torah" (Dt. 17:11) At first these men had authority only in small matters (Ex. 18:22, 26; Dt. 1:17) but later their authority was expanded (Dt. 17:8). This council was later defined as seventy Elders whom G-d placed his Spirit upon (Num. 11:16-17; 24-25).

The Torah also allowed for the Halachic authority to be held by a King (Dt. 17:8-12; 14-20). Eventually the Elders decided to establish such a monarchy (1Sam. 8:1-7). The throne of these Kings was sees as being "the throne of G-d" (1Chron. 29:23) Their Halachic authority became termed "the key of the House of David" (Is. 22:21-22).

Upon the invasion of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity the monarchy was brought to an end. When the captivity ended and exiles returned, Ezra reestablished the council of Elders (Ezra 7:25; 10:14, 16) which immediately began making halachic decisions (Ezra 10:10-19). According to tradition this council was called the Great Assembly and consisted of 120 Elders.

As time went on Judaism became fragmented into various sects. These included the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes. As time continued the Sadducees gained more and more control of the Great Assembly. By the first century the centrality of the Halachic authority had fragmented. Each of the various sects had their own Halachic councils with their own Halachic authority.

Now great confusion has been created by the fact that there were at least two Sanhedrins (Great Assemblies) in the first century. One of these was a political body which had become an instrument of Rome. This body is that often mentioned by Josephus and in the New Testament. It was headed by the High Priest (a Sadducee) (Josephus Ant. 20:9:1; Mt. 26:57-27:1;Mk. 14:53-15:1; Lk. 22:66-23:1; Jn. 18:12-28; Acts 4:5-23; 5:22-42; 23:6) and was made up of both Pharisees and Sadducees (Acts 5:22-42; 23:6) . (This may have been the remnants of the original "Great Assembly"). By contrast the Pharisee Sanhedrin was made up of Pharisee scholars only. It had seventy Elders plus the Nasi (m.San. 1:6). This is the body spoken of in the Mishna, Tosefta and Talmuds in tractate Sanhedrin. It was headed by Zuggot (pairs) made up of a Nasi and an Av Beit Din (m.Hag. 2:2). Hillel and his descendants served as Nasi of this Sanhedrin (m.Hag. 2:2; b.Pes. 66a; b.Shab. 15a; t.San. 2:6; b.San. 11b) who were descendants of King David (b.Ket. 62b; Gen. Rabba 98). Whereas Gamliel was Nasi of the Pharisee Sanhedrin (t.San. 2:6; b.San. 11b) he was only a member of the Political Sanhedrin (Acts 5:22-42).

The Qumran community, who are believed to be Essenes, also held their own Halachic authority. They saw themselves as the "sons of light" and all outsiders as "sons of darkness" (Man. of Disc. I,9; II, 24). The "sons of light" did not go to the "sons of darkness" to tell them how to walk in true Halacha. Their Halachic rule was headed by the Mevakker (Overseer) (Dam. Doc. xii, 7-9). The community also had panels of Judges as described in the Manual of Discipline:

In the delibrative council of the community there shall be twelve laymen and three priests schooled to perfection in all that has been revealed of the entire Law. Their duty shall be to set the standard for the practice of truth, ... and how one can walk with all men with the quality of truth and in conduct appropriate to every occasion.
(Man. of Disc. viii 1ff)

Thus the Qumran community had its own Halachic authority apart from the rest of Judaism.

Now we must address the issue of Halachic authority among the ancient sect of the Nazarenes. As I have shown in the article "What is Nazarene Judaism?" the Nazarenes were a coalition of Essenes and Pharisees. It is apparent that the Nazarenes also had their own Halachic authority.

Like the Qumran community the Nazarenes also saw themselves as the "sons of light" (Lk. 16:8; Jn. 12:36; 1Thes. 5:5). Now in 2Cor. 6:11-18 Paul gives us a Midrash (in the form of a poem) on Dt. 22:10 which ties the passage to Is. 52:11/Ezkl 20:34, 41/Zech. 2:11) The midrash is as follows:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?
And what communion has light with darkness?
And what accord has the Messiah with B'liya'al?
Or what part has he who believes with an unbeliever?
And what agreement has the Temple of G-d with idols?
For you are the Temple of the living G-d.

As God has said:

I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their G-d,
And they shall be My people.
(Lev. 26:12; Jer. 32:38; Ezkl. 37:27; Ex. 6:7)

Therefore come out from among them
And be separate, says YHWH.
Do not touch what is unclean,
(Is. 52:11; Zech. 2:11, note 2:7)

And I will receive you.
(Ezkl. 20:41, 34)

I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says YHWH Almighty.
(2Sam. 7:14, 8; Is. 43:6)

Paul here tells us that just as the Torah forbids us to yoke different kinds of animals together (Dt. 22:10) the sons of light should not be yoked to sons of darkness and believers should not be yoked to unbelievers. "Halacha" means "the way to walk." Like different animals yoked together, believers and unbelievers cannot be halachicly yoked together. This is because they do not walk the same way. As a result the Nazarenes had to have their own Halachic authority.

The Nazarene Halachic authority, that is the Nazarene Sanhedrin, is documented in Acts 15. Here we are shown a Halachic court which has worldwide authority and which seems to be led by Ya'akov HaTzadik (James the Just) as Nasi and Kefa (Peter) as Av Beit Din. But how did this body get the Halachic authority? For the answer we must turn to the teachings of the Messiah himself.

In Mt. 23:2-3 Yeshua makes a surprising statement, he says:

The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.
Therefore whatever they tell you to observe,
That observe and keep.
but do not according to their works;
for they say, and do not.

This passage is often used to show that Yeshua endorsed the Pharisaic halachic authority. However there is serious question as to what this passage actually say or means. For example the Hebrew of the Shem Tob Hebrew version of Matthew reads:

Upon the seat of Moses the Pharisees and sages sit.
Now all which he says to you keep and do;
but their ordinances and deeds do not do
because they say, and do not.

(The "he" in line two reads "they" in Howard's English translation, however the literal Hebrew has "he.")

At any rate Yeshua cannot be giving a blanket endorsement of Pharisaic halacha here because in verses 16-22 he specifically differs with a point of Pharisaic halacha.

Mt. 23:13 is key to understanding Yeshua's attitude to the Halachic authority of the Pharisees. Here Yeshua says:

But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men;
for you neither go in,
nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

A parallel passage appears in Lk. 11:52:

Woe to you lawyers!
For you have taken away the key of knowledge.
you did not enter in yourselves,
and those who were entering in you hindered.

Now when we look at these two passages together it becomes clear that the "key" in Luke 11:52 had the potential to open up or shut up the Kingdom of Heaven. This "key" is clearly then "the key of the house of David" in Is. 22:22:

The key of the House of David I will lay on his shoulder;
so he shall open, and no one shall shut;
and he shall shut and no one shall open.

This key is the halachic authority. Yeshua recognized that the Pharisees held that halachic authority but he also tells us that they had squandered it by rejecting the Kingdom offer (see article "The Kingdom Offer") and refusing to use the key to help Messiah open up the Messianic Kingdom.

The Messiah himself also had the Key of David (Rev. 3:7). In Mt. 16:18-19 Yeshua says he would give "the keys of the Kingdom" to Kefa and his students:

And I also say to you that you are Kefa,
And upon this rock I will build my assembly,
and the gates of Sheol shall not prevail against it.
And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,
and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

This passage is best understood when compared to Mt. 18:15-20 This passage deals with the law of witnesses (Mt. 18:16 = Dt. 19:15) and refers to an "assembly" (Mt. 18:17) which has the power to "bind" and "loose" (Mt. 18:18) just as does Mt. 16:18-19. Since Mt. 18:16 quotes Dt. 19:15 it is clear that the "assembly" in Mt. 18:17 (and also Mt. 16:18) is the "priests and judges who serve in those days" in Dt. 19:17. This is also clear because this "assembly" has the power to "bind" and "loose." These are two Semitic idioms used in Rabbinic literature as technical terms referring to Halachic authority. To "bind" means to "forbid" an activity and to "loose" means to permit an activity (as in j.Ber. 5b; 6c; j.San. 28a; b.Ab. Zar. 37a; b.Ned. 62a; b.Yeb. 106a; b.Bets. 2b; 22a; b.Ber. 35a; b.Hag. 3b). Thus in Mt. 16:18-19 & 18:18 Yeshua gave his students the Halachic authority which we see them using in Acts 15.

Today we as restored Nazarenes must also have our own unique halachic authority apart from that of Rabbinic Judaism. As "sons of light" we cannot be halachicly yoked with unbelievers. While we cannot be halachicly yoked with unbelievers (Rabbinic Judaism) we must "come out from among them and be separate" (2Cor. 6:14-18 & Is. 52:11) for we must ourselves establish courts (Dt. 16:18) so that we may "walk by the same rule and be of the same mind" (Phil. 3:16) and have "no factions among" us "but be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement" (1 Cor. 1:10) so that we might endeavor "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).

We cannot turn to the "wisdom" of the "Pharisaic Rabbinical" Rabbis and sages of the last two thousand years and simply "accept all the Rabbinical Halakhah, except where Mashiach and His Talmidim clearly and definitely offer another position of Halakhah" for the Tenach warns us:

How can you say, "We are wise, and the Torah of YHWH is with us"?
Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood.
The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken.
Behold they have rejected the Word of YHWH;
So what wisdom do they have?
(Jer. 8:8-9)

The unbelieving sages and Rabbis of "Pharisaic Rabbinical" Judaism claim they "are wise" and that "the Torah of the LORD is with us." But they have "rejected the Word of YHWH" (i.e. Yeshua the Messiah; see Jn. 1:1, 14; Rev. 19:13) "So what wisdom do they have?"

There are preserved for us five fragments from an ancient Nazarene Commentary on Isaiah in which the fourth century Nazarene writer makes it clear that Nazarenes of the fourth century were not "following Pharisaic Rabbinical Halakhah." The following is taken from the Nazarene commentary on Isaiah 8:14:

"And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel¦"
The Nazarenes explain the two houses as the two houses of Shammai and Hillel, from whom originated the Scribes and Pharisees… [they Pharisees] scattered and defiled the precepts of the Torah by traditions and mishna. And these two houses
did not accept the Savior

The Nazarene commentary on Isaiah 8:20-21 has:

The Scribes and the Pharisees tell you to listen to them
answer them like this:
"It is not strange if you follow your traditions since every tribe consults its own
idols. We must not, therefore, consult your dead [sages] about the living one."

So it is clear that the original Nazarenes were not "following Pharisaic Rabbinical Halakhah."

To those who would teach that Nazareans should "accept all the Rabbinical Halakhah, except where Mashiach and His Talmidim clearly and definitely offer another position of Halakhah" and "practice and behave alike Orthodox Jews, following Pharisaic Rabbinical Halakhah" I must cite the following from The Dead Sea Scrolls an New Translation by Wise; Abeg and Cook (p. 34):

For Jews, the Qumran texts say, "Our family
was larger than you knew." The watchword
is diversity. Modern Judaism comes from
Pharisaism, but in the first centuries B.C.E.
and C.E. there were also other kinds of Judaism,
and it was not obvious that the Pharisees would
be the ones still standing at the end of the day. \
Understanding the world of the first century C.E.
now means understanding the fact of diversity, and the
scrolls have helped cultivate a sense of the
historical complexity of the matrix of Judaism
and of early Christianity. The scrolls teach,
indirectly, a message the scroll writers themselves
would have repudiated; that is, that there are
different ways of being authentically Jewish.
Any effort to "reclaim the scrolls for Judaism"
must acknowledge that truth.

In reconstructing the ancient sect of Nazarene Judaism we must recognize that Rabbinic/Pharisaic Halacha is not the only "authentic" Judaism. We must not Halachicly yoke ourselves with unbelievers. We must not blindly turn to the "wisdom" of Rabbinic sages that rejected the Word of YHWH (the Messiah). Although we must examine what these sages, as well as the Qumran writers, have written. We must examine their conclusions in light of ancient Jewish methods of interpreting the Scriptures to determine if their rulings constitute a valid Nazarene position on any given issue.
The International Nazarene Beit Din (founded in 1996).

The International Nazarene Beit Din is a body of Nazarene Zakenim ("Elders") formed in accordance with the Torah (Dt. 16:18; Ex. 18:19-26). The Beit Din exists as a Rosh Beit Din (Head Beit Din) to resolve halachic issues and other matters scripturally assigned to the beit din. The beit din system is both the biblical way and the Jewish way for Nazarene Judaism to establish halacha and govern itself. The International Nazarene Beit Din operates in the biblical tradition of the ancient Nazarene Beit Din headed by Ya'akov HaTzadik (James the Just) (see Acts 15). It is our hope that the International Nazarene Beit Din will be helpful to Nazarenes everywhere as we work together to reestablish first century Nazarene halacha.

Current members:
James Trimm (Nasi)
Rob Miller (Av Beit Din)
Daniel Klustein

The International Nazarene Beit Din with restored S’MIKAH when it was established in 1996. According to the Mishna, S’MIKAH can be given by a Beit Din of a minimum of three Elders (m.Sanhedrin 1:3; b.San. 13b).
Prophecy was fulfilled in 1996 by the establishment of the International Nazarene Beit-Din and the Worlwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim (then known as the Society for the Advancement of Nazarene Judaism).

This year began a call from Judah to Ephraim to “come out of Babylon”.

In a footnote to Isaiah 1:9 the Ryrie Study Bible has the following comment:

"Quoted in Rom. 9:29 with reference to Christian Jews."

Now I do not always agree with Ryrie's comments and I certainly do not agree with the usage of the term "Jewish Christians", what Ryrie would call "Jewish Christians" we would identify as "Nazarene Jews"

However it is very important that Romans 9:29 does quote Isaiah 1:9 with reference to Nazarene Jews. The "remnant" of the House of Judah in Isaiah 1:9 does in fact refer to Nazarene Judaism.

This brings us to the encounter between Yeshua and an Ephraimite woman (a
Samaritan). There is no doubt that this Samaritan woman is to be counted as an Ephraimite because she refers to "our father Jacob" (Jn. 4:12) and Yeshua makes no attempt to correct her on this point. (Note she mentions the two different places of worship on different mountains in 4:20). Then Yeshua tells her her religion is false and that the Jewish religion is the one true faith saying:

"You worship what you do not know.
We worship what we know,
because the deliverance is of the Yehudim.
"But the hour is coming, and now is,
when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth,
for the Father also does seek such to worship Him.
(Jn. 4:22-23 - The Scriptures Version)

Yeshua makes it clear that the "true worshipers" are the Jews who practice
Judaism "in spirit and truth" as opposed to an Ephraimite religion. ("in
spirit and truth" - a reference to the Torah - see Ps. 119:142, 151; Ezek.
36:27).

Moreover Paul writes:

"...what is the advantage of the Jew? Or what is the profit of
circumcision? Much in everything!..."
(Rom. 3:1-2)

Now the question is: What is the prophetic hope of the House of Israel? Is there to be a last days restoration of a distinct and separate House of Israel (as opposed to the House of Judah) or is the hope of divorced Ephraim to be joined to the House of Judah?

One of the most beautiful prophecies of the reunion of the two houses of Israel is the "two sticks" prophecy in Ezekiel 37:15-20. In this prophecy each of the two houses of Israel are symbolized by two "sticks" which are brought together and made as one (Ezek. 37:15-18) the text goes on to specify that YHWH will:

...take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim,
and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him,
even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick,...
(Ezek. 37:19)

Now lets look at another prophecy in Zech. 8:23:

Thus said YHWH of hosts, 'In those days ten men
from all languages of the nations take hold,
yea, they shall take hold of the edge of the garment of a man,
a Yehudite, saying, "Let us go with you,
for we have heard that Elohim is with you .

Now lest anyone think that the "Jew" (Yehudite) in this passage is a certain Jew, such as the Messiah, I must point out that in the Hebrew the word "you" in "let us go with "you" and "Elohim is with you" is PLURAL and therefore refers not to an individual Jew, but to the House of Judah. No doubt the number "ten" here implies the lost ten tribes of Ephraim. Note that Ephraim says to Judah:

"let us [Ephraim] go with you [Judah]
for we [Ephraim] have heard that YHWH is with you [Judah]."

Finally let us look at the olive tree prophecy of Romans 11. This prophecy parallels the two "sticks" prophecy of Ezekiel 37 (note that the word STICK in Ezek. 37 is ETZ which also means "tree").

Rom. 9 begins the contrast of the "Jews" and "Gentiles" by quoting Hosea 2:25(23); 2:1 (1:10) in Rom. 9:25-26. But if we look up the context of the people "which were not my people" which he calls "my people" in Hosea we find that they are the "children of Israel" (Hosea 2:1 (1:10)) as opposed to "the children of Judah" (Hosea 2:2 (1:11)) So if Paul is quoting Hosea in context and contrasting Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 9:24) using Hosea 2:1-2 (1:10-11) then the "Jews" of Rom. 9:24 are the "Children of Judah" of Hosea 2:2 (1:11) and the "Gentiles" of Rom. 9:24 are the "children of Israel" of Hosea 2:1 (1:10). If this is true then as this contrasting pair advances into Rom. Chapter 11 the two trees are the two Houses.

Now the uncultivated olive tree in Romans 11 is clearly therefore Ephraim and the cultivated olive tree is clearly that of Judah. This prophecy tells us that branches from the tree/stick of Ephraim will be broken off and grafted into the tree/stick of Judah, are to be fed by the root of the tree/stick of Judah and are not to boast against the natural branches
(Jews)."

Now we read in Rev. 18:4 of a last days prophetic call: “Come out from within her [Babylon], MY PEOPLE…” It is here that Ephraim is again called “MY PEOPLE” in fulfillment of Hosea 2:1(1:10). But when does this call come forth?

Ezekiel 4:4-5 reads:

4 Moreover lie you upon your left side, and lay the iniquity of the House of Yisra’el
upon it. According to the number of the days that you shall lie upon it, you shall bear
their iniquity.
5 For I have appointed the years of their iniquity to be unto you a number of days, even
three hundred and ninety days: so shall you bear the iniquity of the House of Yisra’el.

Ephraim was not to be called “My people” for 390 years. This takes us from the Assyrian invasion in 734 BCE forward 390 years to 344 BCE. One might have expected the call to come then, but Ephraim still did not repent, and the Torah says:

14 But if you will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments,
15 And if you shall reject My statutes, and if your soul abhor My ordinances, so that you
will not do all My commandments, but break My covenant,…
18 And if you will not yet for these things, hearken unto Me, then I will chastise you
seven times more for your sins.
(Lev. 26:14-15, 18)

Seven times 390 is 2730 which brings us to 1996 CE.

This very year the International Nazarene Beit-Din was established and Nazarene Judaism was reorganized via the founding of the Worldwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim. This year we began a call to Ephraimites that they are YHWH’s people, to come out of Babylon and be grafted into Judah.
What are the requirements for a Beit-Din be legit? Does it have to be recognized by Judaism? I ask this sincerely for I am quite uneducated in this arena.
When we established the International Nazarene Beit Din back in 1996 we were simply seeking to fulfill Torah.
Torah requires us to establish courts (see Deut. 16:18) so we established a Beit Din for our international Nazarene community. At the time we acted on the authority of Deut. 16:18.

Judges and officers shall you make you in all your gates, which YHWH your Elohim
gives you, tribe by tribe. And they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.
(Deut. 16:18)

So when we reorganized the Nazarene Community in 1996 our first order of business was to establish an International Beit Din.
The simple way for me to understand "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat" is the fact they have taken the seat from the righteous by ill means and sit in it as usurpers.
The Pharisees once held the Keys of the House of David. Mt. 23:13 is
key to understanding Yeshua's attitude to the Halachic authority of
the Pharisees. Here Yeshua says:

But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men;
for you neither go in,
nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

A parallel passage appears in Lk. 11:52:

Woe to you scribes!
For you have taken away the key of knowledge.
you did not enter in yourselves,
and those who were entering in you hindered.

Now when we look at these two passages together it becomes clear that
the "key" in Luke 11:52 had the potential to open up or shut up the
Kingdom of Heaven. This "key" is clearly then "the key of the house of
David" in Is. 22:22:

The key of the House of David I will lay on his shoulder;
so he shall open, and no one shall shut;
and he shall shut and no one shall open.

The Pharisees took away the key (authority) thus shutting up the
Kingdom. They lost the authority, it was taken from them and given to
Yeshua's Talmidim:

In Mt. 16:18-19 Yeshua says he would give "the keys of the Kingdom" to
Kefa and his other talmidim:

And I also say to you that you are Kefa,
And upon this rock I will build my assembly,
and the gates of Sheol shall not prevail against it.
And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,
and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

The Pharisees lost this authority because of hypocrisy.

Yeshua describes their hypocrisy in Mt. 23 as follows:

On Moshe's seat sit the scribes and P'rushim.
And all that he (Moshe) says to you observe and do.
But not according to their works,
for they say, but do not.
(Mt. 23:2-3)

Yeshua repeatedly charges the Pharisees with Hypocrisy (Mt. 6; 15:7 and Matt. 23 for examples). While Yeshua often charged Pharisees with "hypocrisy" the Talmud makes the same association:

King Jannai said to his wife', `Fear not the Pharisees and the
non-Pharisees but the hypocrites who are the Pharisees; because their
deeds are the deeds of Zimri but they expect a reward like Phineas'
(b.Sotah 22b)

Job 13:16 says "a hypocrite shall not come before him."

Based on this verse the Talmud corectly lists Hypocrites as one of four classes

who will not receive the presence of the Shekhinah:

R. Hisda also said in the name of R. Jeremiah b. Abba: Four classes
will not recieve presence of the Shechinah, — the class of scoffers,
the class of liars, the class of hypocrites, and the class of
slanderers. `The class of scoffers' — as it is written, He withdrew
His hand from the scoffers.(Hosea 7:5) `The class of liars' — as it is
written, He that telleth lies, shall not tarry in my sight.(Ps. 101:7)
`The class of hypocrites' — as it is written, For a hypocrite shall
not come before him.(Job 13:16) `The class of slanderers — as it is
written, For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness:
neither shall evil dwell with thee,'(Ps. 5:5) [which means] Thou art
righteous, and hence there will not be evil in thy abode.
(b.San. 103a)

We know from Numbers 11:16-17 that the Elders of the Beit Din must
have the Spirit of Elohim upon them, but since hypoctites cannot recieve the
presence of the Shekhinah, they cannot serve as valid Elders on the Beit Din.

Job says: "the congregation of the hypocrites shall be desolate" (Job. 15:34)

Thus Yeshua took the Keys from the Pharisees and gave these keys to Kefa and the Talmidim.

Elohim does not allow hypocritical Elders to hold the Keys of the House of David.
The Pharisees had lost their core principles of the foundations of Phariseeism. They became as salt which has no flavor, thus useless. Read the following:

The Foundations of Pharisaic Judaism
By James Scott Trimm

In Acts 23:6 Paul proclaims without reservation “I am a Pharisee”. This comes as a shock to many Christians who have a poor understanding of what it means to be a Pharisee.

Part of the reason for this is that the Christian understanding of what a Pharisee is has been defined by Christian commentators, not by Pharisaic sources. As a result, in Christian culture, the word “Pharisee” has come to be used idiomatically to mean “hypocrite”.

I recall some years ago seeing a Reverend Twistruth comic strip several years ago in which the Reverend had just been teaching on the parable of the Pharisee and the Plebian. He asked a church lady to close with a prayer and she begins “Thank you Lord for not making me like that Pharisee…”

Of course Rabbinic Judaism is the modern descendant of Phariseeism. If one wants a good understanding of what Phariseeism taught, one should look to primary sources of the actual teachings of the Pharisees, the Mishna, the Talmuds and the early Midrashim.

Upon the invasion of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity the monarchy of Israel was brought to an end. When the Babylonian captivity finally ended and exiles returned, Ezra reestablished the council of Elders:Ezra 7:25; 10:14, 16) which immediately began making halachic decisions (Ezra 10:10-19). This body became known as the Great Assembly.

The Mishna records the foundations of Pharisaic Judaism as follows:

Moses received Torah at Sinai and handed it on to Joshua,
Joshua to the elders,
the elders to the prophets,
the prophets handed it on to the men of the Great Assembly…
(m.Avot 1:1)

This was a body of 120 Elders and is said to have introduced a regular order of prayers including the Shemoneh Esreh (eighteen benedictions) which eventually evolved into the Siddur. The Great Assembly collected the sacred writings and determined which books were to be regarded as canonical.

We do not know much more about the Great Assembly. We do know that one of the last members of this counsel was “Simon the Righteous” (219-196 B.C.E.). The Mishna says:

Simeon the Righteous was of the remnants
of the Great Assembly. He used to say, “On three things
the world stands: On the Torah, On the [Temple] Service,
and on acts of piety (chasidim).
(m.Avot 1:2)

Ben Sira calls him “the leader of his brothers and the pride of his people.” (Sira 50:1) and dedicates an entire chapter to his good reputation. Simon was the earliest post-biblical sage cited in the Mishna. Simon was succeeded as High Priest by his son Onias III of whom we read in 2Maccabees:

While the holy city was inhabited in unbroken peace
and the laws were very well observed because of the
piety of the high priest Onias and his hatred of
wickedness.
(2Macc. 3:1)

About this time Antiochus Epiphanies rose to power over Israel and at about this same time period the High Priesthood passed from Onias III to his brother Jason by way of corruption:

…Jason the brother of Onias obtained the high priesthood
by corruption, promising the king at an interview three
hundred and sixty talents of silver and from another source
of revenue, eighty talents… he at once shifted his countrymen
over to the Greek way of life… and introduced new customs
contrary to the Torah.
(2Macc. 4:7-8, 10, 11)

Jason’s High Priesthood was illegitimate and not regarded as valid as we read in 2Maccabees:

…Jason, who was ungodly and no high priest…
(2Macc. 4:13)

The corruption of the High Priesthood and the banishment of the true High Priest must have forced the disbandment of the Great Assembly.

At this time (175-140 BCE) many who wished to remain true to Torah escaped into the wilderness (1Macc. 1:62-64; 2:29) These refugees became know as the Chassidim (pious ones) (1Macc. 2:42-43).

While we know little about these Chassidim, they were probably led by a certain Antigones of Soko. The Mishnah says of him:

Antigones of Soko received [Torah] from Simeon the Righteous.
He used to say, “Be not like servants who serve their master
for the sake of wages, but be like servants who serve their
master with no thought of a wage – and let the fear
of Heaven be upon you.”
(m.Avot 1:3)

The name “Chassidim” probably came from their devotion to the teaching of Simon the Righteous, that “CHASSIDIM” is one of the three things upon which the world stands.

The term CHASSEDIM is related to the same root as CHESED meaning “grace, mercy, loving kindness, charity”. You might say this was as “grace” movement.

One of Antigones’ talmidim (disciples, students), a certain Zadok, apostatized and formed the Sadducee sect (I laid this out in detail in my recent article “Paul argues Talmud Before the Sanhedrin).

The main line of Antigones’ talmidim went on to establish the body we know as the Pharisaic Sanhedrin (not to be confused with the political Sanhedrin that contained both Pharisees and Sadducees). In fact two of his talmidim went on to become the first Nasi and Av Beit Din of this Sanhedrin.

In other words Pharisaic Judaism was the succession of the Chassedim and the main line of Judaism. (The word “Pharisee” means “separate” and may well refer to the fact that the Chassidim had separated themselves from Jason’s corrupt apostasy from true Judaism). This was a CHESED (grace) based movement proceeding from the teachings of Simon the Righteous and Antigones of Soko.

Before proceeding let us therefore seek to understand the point of Antigones’ teaching:

“Be not like servants who serve their master
for the sake of wages, but be like servants who serve their
master with no thought of a wage – and let the fear
of Heaven be upon you.”

Antigones taught that we should observe Torah not as one trying to earn something, but as one who serves a master because he sincerely wants to from inside, out of respect and love for Elohim. He taught that Torah Observance meant nothing unless ones heart was right. Without this inner CHESED, Torah Observance was an empty outer expression, works without faith. This was the foundation of Pharisaic Judaism!

The earliest generations of the Pharisaic movement were known as the Zuggot (pairs). Hillel and Shammai were the last two “pairs” to lead the Pharisee Sanhedrin. The rift between them was so great that Shammai, who was known for his bad temper, forced Hillel to sit and listen to him at the point of his sword, as though he were his student. (b.Shab. 17a) The result was a complete split of Phariseeism into two Houses: The House of Shammai (the stricter school) and the House of Hillel (the less-strict school).

From this point forward the only Pharisee Sanhedrin we know of was led, not by “pairs” but by Hillel’s descendents.

Pharisees at this time polarized into two schools of thought: The School of Shammai and the School of Hillel. The two schools held differing view on many halachic issues and argued throughout the first century. Eventually the School of Hillel prevailed in these arguments and serves as the foundation of modern Rabbinic Judaism. There are also many important connections between the School of Hillel and the ancient sect of the Nazarenes.

Within Rabbinic literature we have record of over 350 disputes between the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai. Generally Shammai gave the stricter interpretation, while Hillels understandings were more relaxed. According to the Zohar (Ra'aya Meheimna 3:245a) The School of Shammai was based on GEVURAH ("severity") while the School of Hillel was based on CHESED ("grace"/"mercy").

A classic example of the conflict can be seen in one of the first passages of the Mishna, which records a conflict between the two houses over how to recite the Shema:

The House of Shammai says:
In the evening one should recline in order to recite the shema, and in the morning they should stand. As it is written “when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:7)
But the House of Hillel says:
Everyone may recite the Shema in his own way, as it is written:
“And you shall go by the way” (Deut. 7:7)
(m.Berachot 1:3)

Note that the House of Shammai were concerned primarily with the outward expression, with whether one was standing or reclining, while the House of Hillel were less concerned with such outward expression and much more concerned with the way in which one recited the Shema, that they made it their own way, that they meant it and walked in it. Note the difference in emphasis of the two houses.

Hillel was more concerned with the inner man, while Shammai was more concerned with the outer man. Hillel was concerned with the Spirit of the Law, while Shammai was more concerned with the Letter of the Law.

This overriding concept of sincerity is also found in the Mishna in tractate Menachot:

“…all are the same, the one who offers much and the one who offers little,
on condition that a man will direct his intention to Heaven”
(m.Menachot 13:11)

You can imagine that a movement founded on sincerity of heart, would have no tolerance for hypocrisy. The Talmud lists Hypocrites as one of four classes who will not receive the presence of the Shekhinah:

R. Hisda also said in the name of R. Jeremiah b. Abba: Four classes will not recieve presence of the Shechinah, — the class of scoffers, the class of liars, the class of hypocrites, and the class of slanderers. `The class of scoffers' — as it is written, He withdrew His hand from the scoffers.(Hosea 7:5) `The class of liars' — as it is written, He that telleth lies, shall not tarry in my sight.(Ps. 101:7) `The class of hypocrites' — as it is written, For a hypocrite shall not come before him.(Job 13:15) `The class of slanderers — as it is written, For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee,'(Ps. 5:5) [which means] Thou art righteous, and hence there will not be evil in thy abode.
(b.San. 103a)

The Talmud however does recognize a problem with hypocrisy among the ranks of the Pharisees:

King Jannai said to his wife', `Fear not the Pharisees and the
non-Pharisees but the hypocrites who are the Pharisees; because their deeds are the deeds of Zimri but they expect a reward like Phineas'
(b.Sotah 22b)

It is this problem that Yeshua addresses when he criticizes hypocrisy among the Pharisees. Sincerity of heart is supposed to be the defining characteristic of the foundations of Pharisaic Judaism, Pharisaic Judaism stripped of its core principle became hollow. I believe this is what Yeshua meant when he said:

You are the salt of the earth,
and if the salt has lost its savor,
how will it be salted?
It is afterwards good for nothing,
But to be cast aside,
And trampled by men.
(Matthew 5:13)

Note in Matthew Yeshua says:

…they [hypocrites] delight to stand in the assemblies
and at the corners of the streets to pray,
that men may see them.
(Matt. 6:5)

Some wrongly imagine that this is a blanket attack on a Pharisaic practice. In reality a similar condemnation appears in the Talmud “‘One who says the Tefillah so that it can be heard is of the small of faith’.” (b.Ber 24b)

Yeshua continues his attack on hypocrites saying:

And when you pray,
multiply not your words like the Goyim do…
(Mt. 6:7-8)

Like verse 5 many mistakenly take this verse as a reference to Jewish liturgy. In fact the Pharisaic Mishna itself contains a similar instruction for behavior when praying:

Rabbi Simeon says:
Be meticulous in the recitation of the shema and the Prayer.
And when you pray, don’t treat your praying as a matter of routine.
But let it be a [plea for] mercy
and supplication before the Omnipresent, blessed be He….
(m.Avot 2:13)

Yeshua continues his criticism of “hypocrites” saying:

…they begrime and disfigure their faces
that they may appear in the sight of men to fast…
when you fast anoint your head and wash your face…
(Matt. 6:16-18)

Here Yeshua is not condemning a Pharisaic practice but an Essene practice as Josephus writes of the first century Essenes:

They think oil is defilement; and if one of them
is anointed without his own approbation,
it is wiped off his body; for they think to be
sweaty is a good thing…
(Josephus; Wars; 2:8:3)

Yeshua continues his criticism of hypocrites saying:

lay up for yourselves stores in heaven,
where caterpillar and moth waste not,
and where thieves do not steal,
for just where your store is,
there your heart will be also
(Matt. 6:19-21)

A similar teaching appears in the Talmud with very similar wording:

Our Rabbis taught: It is related of King Monobaz
that he dissipated all his own hoards and the hoards of his
fathers in years of scarcity. His brothers and his father's
household came in a deputation to him and said to him, ‘Your
father saved money and added to the treasures of his fathers,
and you are squandering them.’ He replied: ‘My fathers stored
up below and I am storing above, as it says, Truth springeth
out of the earth and righteousness looketh down from heaven.
My fathers stored in a place which can be tampered
with, but I have stored in a place which cannot be tampered
with, as it says, Righteousness and judgment are the foundation
of his throne. My fathers stored something which produces no fruits, but I have stored something which does produce fruits, as it is written, Say ye of the righteous [zaddik] that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings. My fathers gathered treasures of money, but I have gathered treasures of souls, as it is written, The fruit of the righteous [zaddik] is a tree of life, and he that is wise winneth souls. My fathers gathered for others and I have gathered for myself,
as it says, And for thee it shall be righteousness [zedakah].
My fathers gathered for this world, but I have gathered for the
future world, as it says, Thy righteousness [zedakah] shall go
before thee, and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.’
(b.Baba Batra 11a)

When Yeshua criticized Pharisees for hypocrisy he was challenging Pharisees to return to the Chassidic roots of Pharisaic Judaism. He was encouraging Pharisees to return to their foundational teachings, the Tanak and the teachings of Simon the Righteous and Atigones of Soko.

Yeshua was teaching CHESED, he was teaching Chassidism and he was teaching the values of Antigones of Soko. He was teaching us that we should not keep Torah as one wishing to earn something, but as one who has a sincere heart and inner desire to serve YHWH out of sincere love and respect for our Father.

In fact the ironic thing is that by this measure it is Christedom which is hypocritical. Talk to a Christian about Torah Observance and invariably they will respond that they do not have to keep Torah to be saved, and therefore they do not need to keep Torah. They are as ones only concerned with doing what they get paid for, and not as one serving YHWH simply out of love and respect for Him.

When Yeshua was criticizing hypocrisy among Pharisees, he was calling for a return to authentic Pharisaic Judaism, which is why Paul was able to say confidently “I am a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6)

There is an interesting parallel in the teachings of a later movement that also took on the name Chassidic and whose founder the Baal Shem Tov (c. 1750) taught that Judaism must be centered not simply around doing the Torah, but around feeling the Torah.

Now in closing I want to emphasize that the early Nazarenes also had deep roots in Essene Judaism (see my blog on this at http://nazarenespace.ning.com/group/essenenezarenes/forum/topics/21...

Our Messiah was bringing together Pharisaic and Essenic Judaism. He was introducing Hillel style halachic teachings to Esseneism and introducing Essene Apocalyptic teaching to Pharisaic Judaism.

Seriously folks, if you want this kind of teaching we need your support.

No ministry even comes close to the work we are doing for the restoration of the ancient sect of the Nazarenes. Yet there is so much more to be done in these areas, and so much more to be done to bring the message of Torah and Messiah to this lost world.

We need your support in tithes and offerings to keep this work going, and with your help, even expand the work.

Is this work worthy of your support? Go now to http://www.wnae.org and donate using the “Tithes and Offerings” box, or mail to Nazarene Judaism; PO Box 471; Hurst, TX 76053.

James Trimm
Worldwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim
http://www.wnae.org

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