Nazarene Space

Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? Rehashed Debate between Jewish Sage and Jewish Convert

I have been praying for a answer to this for a number of days and well, I'm stumped.
If you have any ideas on this I would love to hear them.

The only thought is that this will be fullfilled when Yeshua returns but have no scripture to prove it.


Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? Rehashed Debate between Jewish Sage and Jewish Convert
Category: Religion and Philosophy

For years, Christinianity, a religion similar to Judaism in many of its tenets yet ultimately different, has been causing Jews to feel insecure about their own faith and what the Torah actually says. This has ultimately led to a steady stream of conversions from Judaism to Christianity of all forms (Protestant and Catholic) since it was established, although many Christians have also found spiritual solace in the religion of Judaism or in the Seven Laws of Noah as well, which is another topic.

Starting on Friday, July 20, 1263 and ending Saturday, August 4th 1263, a debate took place between Nachmanides, also known as "the Ramban," one of the foremost Jewish sages, still studied today, and a Jew named Pablo Christianity (who the Ramban refers to as "Fray Pul") who converted to the Dominican branch of Christianity (Catholicism). The debate occurred under the auspices of the Spanish King Jaime I of Aragonia in Barcelona. The Ramban's record of the debates can be found in a short book called "The Disputation at Barcelona," published in 1983, which was translated by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel (Ph.b., M.A., LL.B., D.H.L., D.D.) I have encapsulated here just two short excerpts from the book. Even now in the 21st century, this argument still causes unrest among many Jews, but the argument was laid to rest in the 11th century when the Ramban showed beyond a reasonable doubt that according to Daniel 9:22-27, Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah promised to the Jews.

If you are reading this and you are a Christian, know that the purpose is not to attack or undermind your faith, but rather to protect the Jewish People by preserving the essential pillars of the religion of Judaism. Further, there might be what to benefit from the alternate opinions expressed in the Ramban's dispute, which was forced upon him against his will.

Ramba"n - Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, or Nachmanides

King Jaime I of Aragonia in Spain

The proposed argument revolves around the more than two-thousand year-old prophecy received by Daniel, a young Jew most likely from the tribe of Judah who was taken to Babylon (located then in modern-day Iraq) in 442 before the Common Era. According to the Artscroll edition of the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible, the the first paragraph of introduction to the Book of Daniel goes as follows:

The ways of God are mysterious. When it seems that He is plowing under His treasures, He may be planting seeds that are undiscernable, until they take root and blossom, sometimes decades or even centuries later. So it was when King Nebuchadnezzar planned diabolically to enrich his own court while impoverishing Judah and assuring that it would have no rebirth. He picked the finest, most promising young men of Jerusalem, and carted them off to Babylon (442 B.C.E.), there to serve in his court and make him the beneficiary of their brilliance.


Proposed Timeline of the Daniel 9:22 Prophecy (click image to view in larger window).

19 ...Fray Pul then reverted [to the original topic], arguing that they say in the Talmud that the Messiah had already come. He quoted the homily in the Midrash on Lamentations concerning a [Jewish] ploughman whose cow lowed while he was ploughing. A passing Arab called to him, "Israelite, Israelite, untie they cow, untie they plough, take apart thy ploughshare, for the Temple has been destroyed." So he untied the cow, untied the ploughshare and disassembled the ploughshare. The cow then lowed a second time. The Arab said to him, "Tie thy cow, tie thy plow, tie thy ploughshare, for your Messiah has been born."

20 I responded, "I am not receptive to this homily, but it is a proof to my words."

21 [Fray Pul] shouted, "See, he [himself] is renouncing their [sacred] books!"

22 I elaborated, "Truly I do not believe that Messiah was born on the day of the [Temple's] destruction. Either this homily is not true or it has another meaning, [which lies] among the secrets of the Sages. Yet, [even if] I would accept its literal meaning as you have expressed it, then it is a proof for my contention, for this [Midrash] relates that the Messiah was born on the day of the destruction, after that even. If so, the Nazarene could not be the Messiah as you have said, for he was born and killed before the destruction. According to the truth, his birth took place about two hundred years before the destruction, and according to your reckoning, [it occurred] seventy-three years [before the destruction]." The man was thereupon silenced.

56 ...[Fray Pul] reverted [to his questioning] and said, "Daniel stated, Seventy weeks of years are decreed upon they people and upon they holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make and end to sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy one. The seventy weeks [of years] refer to [490] years, which are the 420 years of the existence of the Second temple and the seventy years of the Babylonian exile. The most holy one is the Nazarene."

Diagram of Fray Pul's calcuation:

57 I retorted, "Did not the Nazarene [live] more than thirty weeks of years or 210 years before that time, according to our reckoning, which is the truth that his contemporaries – those who knew him and recognized him – testified about him. Even according to your reckoning, he [lived] more than ten weeks [or seventy years] before [the destruction]."

58 He argued, "Yes, it was so. However, in one verse it states, Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto one anointed, a prince. The one anointed is identical with the prince, who is the Nazarene."

59 I answered, "This, too, is an obvious error. Scripture divides the seventy weeks [of years] which [Daniel] mentioned, and [in the following verse], it enumerates from their [total]: unto one anointed a prince, shall be seven weeks [of years]. Afterwards, [in the same verse], it mentions, and for threescore and two weeks [of years], it shall be built again, with broad places and streets. Then it enumerates one week, and half of the week, during which he shall make a firm covenant with many. Thus seven weeks [of years] are completed. The Nazarene, whom you call the anointed one, a prince, did not come after seven weeks [of years], but after more than sixty weeks [of years] according to your reckoning. If you would attempt to explain to me the entire chapter according to your line of thinking, I could refute you, for you will never be able to explain it [satisfactorily]. Yet, you shamelessly speak of a subject about which you know nothing. However, I shall inform you that the anointed one, a prince, is Zerubbabel, who came at the time of seven weeks [of years], for it is so explained in Scripture."

Although the full diagram is located at the beginning of the post, below is a timeline of the disputation between the Ramban and Christiani for your viewing convenience. (click image in larger window)

In stanza 57, the Ramban explains to Christiani that even according to Christian tradition, which is that Jesus "[lived] more than ten weeks [or seventy years] before [the destruction]," he could not have been the figure of mention in the verse in Daniel. This is because according to the Christian tradition, Jesus was born in the year 0, placing him born seventy years before the destruction of the Temple, and died in the year 33, thirty-seven years before the destruction of the Temple. This makes it clear that Jesus could not have been the "anointed one" of the verse because the "anointed one" was "cut off" in the same year that the Sanctuary (Temple) was destroyed, 70 of the Common Era. In short, Jesus died thirty-seven years too early to be the verse's prophesied figure, which was Titus, the Roman emperor who gave the command to destroy the Temple.

We also see that the prophecy speaks twice of "the anointed one." Since the passage of time between both of the "anointed ones" of the stanza in Daniel was four hundred thirty four years, longer than the lifespan of any post-Noahide person, it is clear that each of the "anointed ones" are different people. In stanza 58, Fray Pul says to the Ramban, "However, in one verse it states, Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto one anointed, a prince. The one anointed is identical with the prince, who is the Nazarene." In stanza 59 the Ramban responds by saying, "The Nazarene, whom you call the anointed one, a prince, did not come after seven weeks [of years], but after more than sixty weeks [of years] according to your reckoning." In other words, Jesus was not born after the forty-nine years (7 septets), but was born "after more than sixty weeks [of years]," or more than four hundred twenty years later, four hundred thirty four years later, to be exact.

Further, verse 26 in Daniel says that "the people of the prince will come will destroy the city and the Sanctuary"; if the anointed one was Jesus then "the people of the prince" should have been his twelve disciples (Simon, called Peter, Andrew, James, John, Phillip, Bartholomew [also called "Nathan"], Matthew, Thomas, James [son of Alphaeus], Simon, Judas Iscariot, Jude Thaddeus), yet we know that neither of them had any direct involvement in the destruction of the Temple.

Finally, considering that Jesus could have been neither of the "anointed ones," the former for the reason just shown, and the latter for the fact that he was not killed in the same year that the Temple was destroyed, disqualifies Jesus from being the verse's prophesied figure. Even today, after so many years of it being shown to be false, it is unfortunately still necessary to respond to the Christian argument.

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