Nazarene Space

Is the Talmud The "Traditions of Men"?

Is the Talmud The "Traditions of Men"?
James Scott Trimm

My friend Lew White recently wrote:

> ...I [Lew White] have repeated the statements from Yahusha directed toward
>the traditions of the fathers, and equated them with Rabbinical Judaism.
>I see them as one and the same thing, ...

Now it is well known that Lew White is a good friend of mine, and as we read in Proverbs:

Iron sharpens iron:
so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
(Prov. 27:17 HRV)

Now when it comes to pagan customs and practices in Christianity, Lew is an expert.  But when it comes to Talmud, that is my area (no offense Lew).

So lets test Lew's theory. Yeshua speaks about the "traditions of men" in Matthew 15 (as Lew cited previously) but he also gives us a specific example of one of these "traditions of men" saying:

5  But you say, Whoever says to father and mother, It is all an offering-- whatever of mine might profit you,
6 And he honors not his father and his mother. Thus have you made void the commandments of Elohim, on account of your judgments.
(Matt. 15:5-6 HRV)

Interestingly the Talmud addresses this very issue.  Now if the Talmud and Rabbinic Judaism are to be equated with the "traditions of men," then we would expect the Talmud to express the view that Yeshua ascribes to these "traditions of men".  So lets see what the Talmud says on this issue:

R. Elieazar says: they open a vow for a man by reference to the honor of his father or mother.
and the sages prohibit.
said R. Tzadok: before they open a vow for him by reference to his father or mother let them open his vow by reference to the honor of HaMakom.
If so there will be no vow.
But the sages concede to R. Elieazar, that in a matter that is between him and his mother or father they loose his vow by reference to his father or mother."
(m.Nedarim 9:1 & b.Nedarim 64a)

Now I give a detailed annalysis of this passage of Talmud in my video Talmud For Beginners Lesson 1.

But the key point here is that the Talmud tells us that the sages agreed that a vow is opened (revoked) for a man by reference to the honor of his mother or father in a matter that is between him and his mother or father.  Now the situation Yeshua presents is between a man and his father and the sages of the Talmud maintain that such a vow is in fact revoked on the basis that it conflicts with the commandment to honor one's parents.

That's right, Yeshua and the Talmud both agree AGAINST what Yeshua calls the "traditions of men"!

The Talmud's position is no more that of the "traditions of men" Yeshua speaks of in Matthew 15 than Yeshua's own position is, because the Talmud agrees with Yeshua's position.

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Views: 772

Comment by Laurie R Giesler on January 15, 2014 at 10:35am
I don't understand. My allegiance is with my God over all mankind. The way I read the Rabbinic sage, Elieazar's, opinion above is that the vow made to God is revoked by the command to honor your mother and father. Maybe I am not reading it correctly.
Since my parents do not believe Yeshua is Messiah, am I bound to unbelief and continuation of the Hebrew traditions? Not according to the talmidim of Yeshua or Saul, either.
My understanding is that Yeshua was pointing out that what has become known as the Mishnah (another man-made conglomeration) was not Adonai's intent in giving the Law, as was their interpretation of washing. The P'rushim's offense was greed because the man was giving to the Temple the resources necessary to care for his parents and the P'rushim approved. But, tithing was not in the Law - it came with the covenant for the land, so it did not over-rule the Law. Again, the offense noted in this passage is the heart's intent for greed.
Please assist with this point: if one is attempting to honor one's parents and is reduced to mere slavery (the parent orders the child as they do paid help and demands to be placed before one's spouse and children in order of responsibility) is one bound by the Law to still care for the parent and/or to leave the spouse and children to care for the parent because the parent refuses to live with the child? I believe this would help others.
Comment by Lew White on January 15, 2014 at 11:04am

Brother James illustrates agreement between Yahusha and Talmud in this one case, however "casuistry" can easily conceal the change in circumstances. Yahusha was highlighting the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in that timeframe. They were always looking for ways to receive recognition, and providing for their parents would have gone unnoticed while the Mishkan was in operation. Obviously, they sought to put Yahusha to death because He was a threat to their entire foundation. Now let's consider what changed between the time Yahusha made His statement, and the writing of the Talmud. By 70 CE, there was no longer a public way to display one's offerings, Yahuah removed their menorah, the Mishkan, and the whole operation of the Luite kohenim. The local congregations (synagogues) became the focus of observance, and rabbis in these small villages would be observed in a more up-close and personal way. When we consider the change in circumstances, the sages reverted back to a more correct behavior. The destruction of the Mishkan had positive effects, even while it was one of the saddest days for both Yisharal and Yahuah. The hirelings running the vineyard had filled-up their transgressions to the full, and Yahuah took the vineyard away from their mismanagement. We don't have to read the commentary of Eliezer to know what is right, we have the Torah. My take on the study of the Zohar and Talmud is that while "training" one another on the hidden secrets, we could instead be using the time more effectively by going to the lost sheep of Yisharal scattered into the world, and immersing them into the Name, and teaching them everything Yahusha commanded us to obey (the commission). Searching, finding, and teaching the lost sheep trumps searching, finding, and teaching for hidden codes. Let the codes stay hidden (Yahuah has no secrets, He said so). Our mission is to enlarge the number of Covenant observant people, not to consider the opinions of two sages that called themselves by the title "rabbi", which Yahusha directly said to never do. Remember, I'm only taking the position of Yahusha on these things, and other opinions slightly out of phase with His have to focus on His yoke rather than mine, or former teachers. Yahusha's yoke seems much lighter to bear. I had to put down a heavy yoke called "Catholicism", and for many years I still found its hooks in me. Each time I found one, I'd allow Yahusha to remove it from my heart (inner lamp). His oil (Torah) lights my lamp, not the Talmud. His new wine in my renewed wineskin allows me to perceive "old wine" (men's teachings). The old wine and the new wine cannot be in the same wineskin together. The old wine has to go. We cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve both Yahuah and tradition. Rabbinic Judaism and the traditions of the fathers still seem to be the same. The Torah does not change, and traditions do change. The example cited here is evidence of a change, and a reed will bend in the wind of tradition. Storms (winds) can blow against a house built on the foundation of tradition, and the house built on it will fall. If one's conscience allows them to believe Yahusha is happy to have us build up our knowledge of what pleases Him with the Talmud, or the Zohar, their conscience is pure. We cannot judge another's conscience. Our opinions don't matter at all, and neither do the sages' opinions.

Only one opinion matters:

"It is fearsome to fall into the hands of the living Alahim." Hebrews 10:31 (I've spelled Alahim without the Masoretic corruption, as the word begins with an ALEF. Abraham is not "Ebraham").

Comment by James Trimm on January 15, 2014 at 2:08pm

My point in the blog was not to answer all other questions concerning traditions and the Talmud, but simply to establish that any attempt to equate what Yeshua calls "traditions of men" with the Talmud is flawed on the very surface.

In fact the Talmudic tradition is exactly the opposite of the example Yeshua presents from what he calls the "traditions of men". 

So in discussing the issue of the Talmud (and by extension the Midrashim and the Zohar) we can drop the argument that Yeshua condemns these when he speaks of "traditions of men" in Matthew 15, and we can then carry the discussion forward from there.

I would also put forward:

1) That there is a logical flaw that assuming that all traditions are "traditions of men".  Why can there not also be "traditions of Elohim" (such as the Passover Sader)?

2) That Yeshua does not even condemn all "traditions of men" in Matthew 15, but only those that conflict with the Word of Elohim.  (A point with which any Orthodox Jew would agree).

Comment by James Trimm on January 15, 2014 at 2:16pm

Why study Talmud?  Well we have just shown a good example of how the Talmud can help us better understand the words of Yeshua.  By looking at the Talmud we can understand that the "traditions of men" Yeshua spoke of in Matthew 15 were not simply a reference to the traditions advocated in the Talmud.

Comment by Laurie R Giesler on January 15, 2014 at 2:33pm
I agree with you that the 'tradition' in the Matthew passage was not what Yeshua was upset by, but the way humans always corrupt what Adonai established, whether it be for power or profit or simply recognition. But, what was called Traditions of the Fathers (or Traditions) has been added to through the many years of the diaspora. I am so glad you referenced the Babylonian Mysteries religion that let our people astray for so long and then went into the world at large. I still have difficulty understanding the way the Talmud explains its Torah interpretation - even after Lesson one. :-)
Comment by Lew White on January 15, 2014 at 3:15pm

  This is a good debate, and brother James is very kind to allow a discourse with those of us who completely ignore some of the things he was raised with and holds a high respect for.

  Where did certain traditions originate? Did an 'oral law' really originate with the events at Sinai, or was this idea invented later?  In searching out this teaching, the record of Scripture reveals no 'hint' to us. The new behavior of avoiding the utterance of the Name can be traced to a source: The captivity at Babel.  Babel is the best candidate as the origin of the “oral law”, beginning with the specific doctrine outlawing the utterance of the Name, Yod, Hay, Uau, Hay.

It's doubtful anyone can confirm there were any “rabbis” developing as far back as 586 BCE, although the prohibition to not utter the Name “Yahuah” may have been the seed that later became the plant of the “specifiers”, the Pharisees (Prushim, or separated ones). The oral law handed-down by the Pharisees is their leaven, the traditions of the fathers, and it persists to this day. The Pharisees' teachings are today generally embraced under the term “Rabbinic Judaism”, or what was equated to be 'Ioudaismos" by Paul, which he called "the traditions of my fathers" (Galatians 1:13, 14).

The traditions of the fathers didn’t grow legs until the rise of “rabbis”. The only record of an “oral law” comes from these same rabbis. There is no term “rabbi” in the TaNaK, and it first appears in the 1st century, among the sect of the Prushim (Pharisees). The word “Rabbinic” points to this sect, and we know they were the guides, and specifiers of all doctrine at that time. Paul referred to the “traditions my fathers” as one and the same as “Ioudaismos” (Yahudaism), which I cited in my article.
The first written Talmudic arguments began in the second century under then “rabbi” Akiba (often rendered today as Akiva). This was just about the time the other Roman shoe came down on Yerushaliyim (130 CE). The Talmud is basically a record of arguments (opinions) that spanned the next 1200 years.
The Zohar is claimed to be based the thoughts of a 1st century rabbi inspired by the spirit of “Elijah” (AliYahu), but written in the 13th century.
The Gnosticism that swept through the region in the 1st and 2nd centuries affected both “Rabbinic Judaism” (the leaven of the Pharisees, aka traditions of the fathers) as well as early Natsarim, since we see Yahukanon and Paul addressed traits of it in their writings. The push to learn spiritual secrets hidden in ciphers continues even today, based on Hindu teachings. Seeking higher levels of consciousness through asceticism and yoking with spiritual guides (demonic entities) has been a consistent theme in Hinduism, and Kabbalah. Gnosticism promotes the idea that all physical matter is intrinsically corrupt.

The Talmud is not written in our hearts, the Torah is, and teaches us how to love Yahuah, and one another.

Love trumps knowledge every time (1Cor 13),
Lew White

Comment by Laurie R Giesler on January 15, 2014 at 3:50pm
Agreed, agreed, agreed! Was it not Babylon where the Levitical priesthood endeavored to protect the breaking of the Torah by padding it with extra regulations or the yoke Yeshua spoke of?
While their intentions may have been good, succeeding generations always seem to go astray, developing and protecting the necessity of their input and power.
As a retired paralegal, I spent years teaching newbies how to understand legalese. Still can't dissect the Talmud.
From what I have learned, though, it was Rabbis of those and later generations that forewarned against reading the prophets' writings. But, that only kept our ancestors blind to the truth of Messiah just as the P'rushim kept their generation blind when they should have known. Thus, they fulfilled the curse they had uttered that Yeshua's blood was on their heads and the heads of their children (and children's children) so that Isra'el is still blind, save a small number who read the prophecies and had the scales fall from their eyes.
And, lastly, the Law (and, obviously, the other books from Isra'el's history) was written down in the desert. It was lost and found again in the archives, then copied so it would not be lost again. The event is recorded in the Tanakh. So, the oral Law has to be a creation from Babylonian captivity I spoke about above.
I have to classify the Talmud with modern-day Biblical commentaries. They are written by humans while the Law and the prophets are inspired writings from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who, from the beginning announces the end. Praises and all glory be to Him!
May our Redeemer return for us soon! And, may we stand firm in the days of trial ahead!
Comment by James Trimm on January 15, 2014 at 7:05pm

>Was it not Babylon where the Levitical priesthood endeavored

>to protect the breaking of the Torah by padding it with extra regulations

>or the yoke Yeshua spoke of?

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(Matt. 11:28-30 KJV)

 Matthew 11:28-30. A portion of Yeshua's statement in Matthew 11 is a quotation from the Tanak. A quotation which gives a great deal of context to Yeshua's statement. Lets look at this Tanak passage:

Thus said YHWH, stand you in the ways, and see,
and ask for the old paths, where is the good way,
and walk therein, and you shall find rest for
your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein.
(Jer. 6:16)

Notice that this "way" which gives "rest" is "the old path". Now lets read a little further down in Jer. 6 to obtain more context:

But they said, we will not walk therein (Jer. 6:16)...
...they have not hearkened unto my words,
nor to my Torah, but rejected it.
(Jer. 6:19)

Notice that the "old path" that brings "rest for your souls" to which they said "we will not walk therein" (Jer. 6:16) is identified by YHWH as "my Torah". This takes us up a bit further in the text of Jeremiah:

...they are foolish, for they do not know
the way of YHWH, the requirements of
their Elohim. So I will go to the leaders and
speak to them; surely they know the way
of YHWH, the requirements of their Elohim."
But with one accord they too had broken
off the yoke and torn off the bonds.
(Jer. 5:4-5 see also Jer. 2:20)

Here we find that the "yoke" which brings rest is the yoke which was being rejected. The yoke of Torah. The yoke that Messiah asks us to take on ourselves, the yoke that will give us rest for our souls is the Torah. The Torah is freedom from the bondage of Torah-lessness. The freedom of Torah is freedom from the bondage to sin that results without Torah. Without Torah there is no true freedom, only bondage.

Comment by James Trimm on January 15, 2014 at 7:07pm

>it was Rabbis of those and later generations that forewarned against reading the prophets' writings.


Comment by James Trimm on January 15, 2014 at 7:10pm

There has been a great deal of discussion in the movement today over how
we as Nazarenes should view Jewish tradition, Oral Law and the Talmud.

Now it is important to understand the first century world from which
Nazarene Judaism emerged. There were three major sects of Judaism at the
time: Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes.

The first century writer Josephus writes of the Pharisees:

"...the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by
succession from their fathers, which are not written in the law of
(Josephus; Ant. 13:11:6)

The Pharisees became what is known as Rabbinic Judaism and eventually
wrote these traditions (known as "Oral Law") down in the Mishna and later
the Talmud. The Mishna and Talmud are not the Oral Law, but they do contain
the Oral Law as recorded by the Pharisees.

The core of the Talmud is the Mishna. The Mishna was complied around 250
CE by Rabbi Y’hudah Ha Nasi from ealier oral and/or written traditions.
It cites the opinions or Rabbis and teachers who lived in the generation
immediately following Ezra and Nehemiah, up until the time of its
composition. The Talmud was compiled around 500 CE and consists of the
Mishna written in Hebrew and the commentary to the Mishna, known as the
Gemara, surrounding it in Aramaic characters.

The Sadducees rejected these traditions, as Josephus continues:

"...for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we
are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written
word, but are not to observe what are delivered from the tradition of our

The Sadducees HAD to reject the Oral Law. They did not believe in a resurrection or an afterlife. They had rejected the things that Judaism has always held to. It was hard enough to make their views compatible with the Written Torah, it was easier for them to simply reject the Oral Torah out of hand. In fact they HAD to reject the Oral Law if they wanted to reject any understanding of the written Torah that included a resurrection and an afterlife!

Then there were the Essenes, these are they who are believed to have
written the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Essenes did not reject the concept of
Oral Law, as the Sadducees did, but they did have an ALTERNATE set of such
traditions, many of which are recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Among the
Scrolls is a document called MMT ("Some of the Works of teh Torah). In
this document the Essenes point out some of their differences with the
Oral Law as recorded in the Mishna. For example in the Mishna (Hullin
4:1-5) there is an Oral tradition forbidding the eating of the fetus of a
slaughtered animal, while item 12 in MMT allows the eating of such a
fetus. Many of the points addressed in MMT are addressed directly at
points of Oral Torah found in the Mishna. Essenes did not reject the Oral
Torah, they had their own understanding of it.

Now our Nazarene forefathers had roots in Pharisaic Judaism and in Essene
Judaism but not in Sadduceean Judaism.

Yeshua's teachings often echoed those of the famous Pharisaic teacher
Hillel. When Yeshu was still a child Hillel taught "Do not do to others
what you would not have them do to you" while Yeshua grew up to teach "do
onto others as you would have them do to you."

The Nazarenes also clearly had roots in Essene Judaism. There is evidence
that Yochanan the immerser ("John the Baptist") came out of the Qumran
community. Several of Yeshua's Talmidim (including Kefa) had first been
talmidim of Yochanan. Both the Essenes and the Nazarenes called
themselves "The Way" and "Sons of Light".

The Esseneic and Pharisaic origins of Nazarene Judaism are easily
documented and could fill volumes. I have reduced them here to a short
paragraph each.

The written Torah is not complete in itself. Instead it presupposes that the reader also has access to additional information. For example the observance of Torah involves the use of the Hebrew calendar. Nowhere does the written Torah tell us the inner workings of this calendar, it presupposes that this information was also passed down to us orally by our forefathers.

There are actually two types of “Oral Law” and they are very different from one another.

The first is Oral Torah from Sinai. Moshe was on Mt. Sinai for forty days. During this time her received much of the material that we know as the Written Torah as recorded in the five books of Moses. However if one to get the five books of Moses as a “books on tape” edition, it would not take anywhere near forty days to listen to them. It would not even take one day to listen to them. So is this ALL the information Moses received on Mount Sinai? Why does Leviticus 26:46 say that Moses received “Laws” (plural) on Mount Sinai? Could he have received Torah She-Bi-Khatav (The Written Torah) and Torah She-Al-Peh (The Oral Torah)?

As we stated earlier, there is not sufficient information in the written Torah to allow it to be observed without some additional information.

For example the written Torah says not to go out of ones “place” on the Sabbath (Ex. 16:29) but just what does this mean? If the Sabbath starts and I am in the latrine, must I stay there until it is over? If I am in my home and the Sabbath starts, must I wait until the Sabbath end to go out to the latrine? Does it mean I cannot leave my house? my yard? my city? Surely the ancient Hebrews (our forefathers) asked Moses what this commandment meant. Did Moses shrug his shoulders and say “heck if I know”, or was this part of the information he also received on Mount Sinai? If so then our forefathers had this information. Is this what the Psalmist means when he says:

1: Give ear, O my people, to my Torah: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2: I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
3: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
4: We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of YHWH, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
(Ps. 78:1-4)

Another example can be found in Deut. 12:21 which tells us that if we live to far from the Temple and need to slaughter an animal to eat, YHWH says we may do so as long as we do it “as I [YHWH] have commanded you”. But there are no instructions for the ritual slaughter of an animal in the written Torah. This commandment of the written Torah must be alluding to an oral companion to the written Torah.

One can give many more examples. What does it mean not to “work” on the Shabbat? what constitutes “work”? How does one “celebrate” the Shabbat (Ex. 31:16)? What constitutes a “Bill of Divorcement” (Deut. 24:1f) what is it supposed to say?

When Ezra read the Torah to the people in Nehemiah 8:1-8, he and the Levites also “gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (8:7-8). They gave them an oral companion to the written text:

1: And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spoke unto Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Torah of Moses, which YHWH had commanded to Israel.
2: And Ezra the priest brought the Torah before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.
3: And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the Book of the Torah.
4: And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
5: And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:
6: And Ezra blessed YHWH, the great Elohim. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped YHWH with their faces to the ground.
7: Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the Torah: and the people stood in their place.
8: So they read in the Book in the Torah of Elohim distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
(Nehemiah 8:1-8)

When the old Worldwide Church of God began observing the biblical festivals, one of the problems they ran into was how to celebrate them. Only sketchy information is given in the written Torah on many of these festivals (we will revisit this issue again later in this article in relation to Yeshua’s observances of Sukkot and Passover).

When it comes to answering these questions, we can turn to the understandings our forefathers had of these things, which they passed down to us orally, or we can make something up. Short of a mutually accepted pipeline to Elohim, those are our only choices.

Another form of Oral Law are the decrees from the Elders. The Elders are said to have ha the “halachic authority”. Halachic authority is the authority to make halachic determinations interpreting the Torah forbidding and permitting activities based on these interpretations (for example if a matter came up which was not settled by the written Torah), 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 written Torah is ambiguous and must be 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 (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 judgments were regarded as the judgment of Elohim 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 Elohim placed his Spirit upon (Num. 11:16-17; 24-25).

The decrees of these elders added to the body of what was known as the “Oral Law” in much the same was as “legal precedence” does in secular law today.

One classic example of a matter settled by a Decree of the Elders was the issue of circumcision on the Sabbath. Circumcision is commanded to be done on the eighth day (Gen. 17:11) yet on every seventh day no work is allowed (Ex. 20:10). The Elders decreed that the commandment to circumcise on the eighth day held priority over the commandment to rest on the Sabbath (as recorded in the Mishna m.Shabbat 18:3-19:2 and in the Talmud b.Shabbat 128a). Yeshua alluded to and agreed with this Decree of the Elders when he said:

If a man is circumcised on the day of the Sabbath
that the Torah of Moshe be not loosed,
do you murmur against me because
I have healed a whole man on the Sabbath day?
(Jn. 7:23)

Similarly we read in the Talmud:

Rabbi Eleazar answered and said: If circumcision
which attaches to one only of the two hundred and
forty eight members of the human body, suspends
the Sabbath, how much more shall [the saving of]
the whole body suspend the Sabbath!
b.Yoma 85b

Yeshua clearly advocated and recognized the authority of these Elders when he said such things as “…whoever shall say to his brother, RAKA, shall be liable to the Sanhedrin…” (Mt. 5:22) and “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat…” (Mt. 23:1).

At the same time Yeshua also took issue with the Decrees of the Elders when they conflicted with Scripture (Mt. 15; Mt. 23)

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 Elohim" (1Chron. 29:23) Their Halachic authority became termed "the key of the House of David" (Is. 22:21-22).

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). Yeshua often charged Pharisees with
"hypocrisy" even the Talmud itself 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 itself correctly 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 receive 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 must have the Spirit of Elohim upon them, but since hypocrites cannot receive the presence of the Shekhinah, they cannot serve as valid Elders.

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 his Talmidim:

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).

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."

Let us return to the subject of the Oral Law in general. Now in Acts 23:6 Paul states “I am a Pharisee”. The Pharisees maintained a belief in the traditions handed down by their forefathers. As Josephus writes:

…the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great
many observances by succession from their fathers,
which are not written in the law of Moses; …
(Josephus; Ant. 13:10:6)

Concerning his Pharisee background Paul says:

And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my
contemporaries in my own nation, being more
exceedingly zealous for the tradition of my fathers.
(Gal. 1:14)

Notice that in Acts 28:17 Paul insists:

I have done nothing against our people
or the customs of our fathers.
(Acts 28:17)

Paul writes to the Thessalonians concerning these “traditions”:

“Therefore, brothers stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught…
withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly and not after
the traditions which he received from us.”
(2Thes. 2:15; 3:6)

Paul even made use of these oral “traditions” in his writings. Paul says "...they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was Messiah." (1Cor. 10:4). The Torah records more than one occasion when Moshe (Moses) brought forth water from
a rock (Ex. 16:4-35; 17:1-9; Num. 20:1-13; 16-20). According to Rabbinic tradition the rock did in fact follow them. The Talmud says that it was "a moveable well" (b.Shabbat 35a) and calls it "the Well of Miriam" (b.Ta'anit 9a). Rashi comments on b.Ta'anit 9a saying that the rock "rolled and went along with Israel, and it was the rock Moshe struck." The tradition of the moving rock known as the "Well of Miriam" is also found in B'midbar Parshat Chukkat. Paul's statement that the rock "followed them" testifies to the
fact that he accepted this oral tradition as being factual.

The second century Nazarene writer Gish’fa (Heggissipus) made use in his writings of these oral traditions. Eusebius writes of him:

And he quotes some passages from The Gospel according to
the Hebrews and from ‘The Syriac’, and some particulars from
the Hebrew tongue, showing that he was … from the Hebrews,
and he mentions other matters as taken from the oral tradition
of the Jews.”
(Eccl. Hist. 4:22)

Yeshua himself seems to have also accepted the “traditions of our fathers” which had been passed down orally.

In John 7:37-38 we read:

“And on the great day, which is the last of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried out and said, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures have said, rivers of water of life will flow from his belly.”

The occasion is the last great day of Sukkot (Jn. 7:2) and the setting appears to be the water libation ceremony at the Temple as prescribed by the Oral Law. A priest had a flask of gold filled with water and another has a flask of gold filled with wine. There were two silver bowls perforated with holes like a narrow snout. One was wide for the water the other is narrow for the wine. The priests poured the wine and water into each of their bowls. The wine and water mixed together. The wine flowing slowly through the narrow snout and the water flowing quickly through the wider snout. (m.Sukkot 4:9) Yeshua said that this ritual from the Oral Law was actually prophetic and symbolic of himself!

In all four Gospels Yeshua participates in the Passover Sader. The elements of the sader, such as the “cup of redemption”; dipping in bitter herbs; and the afikomen (the last piece of unleavened bread passed around and eaten at the end) all come from the Oral Law as recorded in the Mishna (m.Pes. 10). Yeshua not only accepted and kept these Oral Law rituals, but also spoke of them being prophetic of himself.

There is an interesting story in the Talmud which makes a profound point about the Oral Law:

Our Rabbis taught: A certain heathen once came before Shammai and asked him, ‘How many Torahs have you?’ ‘Two,’ he replied: ‘the Written Torah and the Oral Torah.’ ‘I believe you with respect to the Written, but not with respect to the Oral Torah; make me a proselyte on condition that you teach me the Written Torah [only]. [But] he scolded and repulsed him in anger. When he went before Hillel, he accepted him as a proselyte. On the first day, he taught him, Alef, beth, gimmel, daleth; the following day he reversed [them ] to him. ‘But yesterday you did not teach them to me thus,’ he protested. ‘Must you then not rely upon me? Then rely upon me with respect to the Oral [Torah] too.’
(b.Shabbat 31a)

The point of the story is that the same forefathers that passed the written Torah down to us, also passed the Oral Torah down to us with it. What logic is there in accepting the written Torah that they delivered to us as truth, while rejecting the Oral Law passed down by the very same forefathers?

Now we as Nazarenes do not believe that the Rabbis or Pharisaic/Rabbinic
Judaism held the power to bind and loose after the first century, perhaps
not even before the first century. Thus we should not simply accept these
rulings, on the other hand we should not simply reject them out of hand.
In may cases the Talmud or the related halachic Midrashim present the line
of logic which led to the decisions being made. We should look at these
lines of logic to determine if the decisions were valid and sound.

For example I heard one Messianic Rabbi bashing the Talmud and claiming
that the Rabbis had added thirty-nine rules to the simple commandment not
to work on the Sabbath. In fact the thirty-nine categories (given in
m.Shabbat 7:2) are drawn from the text of the Torah. In the Torah the
instructions concerning the building of the Tabernacle are interrupted by a
restatement of the commandment not to work on the Sabbath (Ex. 31:12-17).
The connection this section of Exodus has with the surrounding material
seems to be the word “work” (Ex. 31:14) and “workmanship” (Ex. 31:3) (same
word in the Hebrew). Thus the commandment not to “work” on the Sabbath
(Ex. 31:14) is restated as a reminder to abstain from the “workmanship” of
the Tabernacle mentioned in Ex. 31:3. Thus the term “work” in the
commandment not to work on the Sabbath may be elaborated and defined by the
thirty-nine categories of “workmanship” involved in building the

We as Nazarenes should not reject the material in the Talmud out of hand,
we should seek to understand it. Then we should “eat the date and spit
out the seeds”. The same approach should be taken to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Nazarenes should not be modern day Sadducees.


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