Nazarene Space

Nazarene Judaism: A New Vision
By Rav Mikhael

Click yor mouse below to Hear the Audio as it was Presented at our Netzarim '99 Conference in 1999:

Nazarene Judaism: A New Vision
By Rav Mikhael

The purpose of this presentation is threefold. First to give us a brief history of who we were in the early centuries and what it is we are trying to reconstruct. The second is to give us a positive identity and last, to suggest a foundational program from which we can grow and expand according to the will of YHVH. As I present this I do so as a single man with whom Elohim has given a vision of Torah and Messiah bound together in the life of the redeemed. I do not do so as a representative of the Society for the Advancement of Nazarene Judaism or the International Nazarene Beit Din for we are a community and without their consent and approval I cannot speak for them and the vision they have, although it is obviously similar. I submit the following as a beginning point of discussion from which we as a community can develop a cohesive vision, identity and program.

The challenge that lies before us in Natzrim Judaism is enormous. In some ways it is analogous the the recreation of the state of Israel after almost two millennia. The Israelis needed to resurrect institutions, ideas and even a language that had not been used for centuries. Nazarene Judaism is embarking on an even more ambitious project. We are attempting to recreate a paradigm of theology, philosophy, belief and practice that has not existed since the second century. The early community of Yahushua’s followers, led by Ya’akov His brother, was a community within the community of Israel who’s belief and practice was very similar to their fellow Jews except that they were no longer waiting for Elohim’s anointed. They believed He had come, lived, died, was resurrected and now sat at the right hand of YHVH awaiting the “Day of the Lord” which they believed was right around the corner. They believed the ‘Renewed Covenant’ about which Jeremiah had prophesied was inaugurated through Yahushua, that Torah was now written on their hearts and atonement for the people had finally been accomplished once and for all. They worshipped at the Temple and attended synagogue, they studied Torah and were zealous in their obedience to the commandments. They loved their people and sought both their spiritual completion and their material blessing. Gentiles came into this community and were encouraged to develop the same love for Messiah, Torah and people that their natural born brothers had.

Unfortunately, the socio-political events of the first century conspired against this community. The anti-Judaic feelings endemic to Roman culture made Gentiles less willing to adopt the religio-cultural context of which the Messiah was a part, particularly after the war with Rome. And the Jewish leadership, followed by the majority of the populace, did not believe that the man crucified by the Romans was the Messiah. Soon there were two new religions that sprung up out of the ashes of the Temple. One rejected Torah and Judaism while recasting Israel’s Messiah in a Greek mold. Christianity was the result of this development. The Rabbis of Yavneh took an ancient religion centered on a temple, priesthood and sacrifice and recast it, out of necessity, as a spiritual religion of works, ritual purity, philosophy and introspection, of which one of the fundamental tenants was that Yahushua was not the Messiah. The Nazarenes were ignored by both groups in their evolution because they came to be viewed as a small eccentric or heretical minority. They could have been a bridge of understanding and enriched both religions as the complete package of Elohim’s plan but they passed from the scene with hardly a mention.

The interactions between the two majority groups over the past two thousand years further complicate things. Those who have claimed the Messiah of Israel and wrenched Him from His proper context of people, culture and understanding subjected His people Israel, the Jewish people, to the most severe forms of persecution in the name of their reinterpreted ‘Christ’. Naturally, this resulted in a strong reaction on the part of the Jewish people against the idea that the historical person, Yahushua, who was the raw material from which the church formed Jesus, the anti-Torah, anti-Jew, mangod, could ever have been the Promised One of Moshe and the Prophets. Reactionary theology developed from both sides making real communication about the central issues of covenant, peoplehood, Torah, chosenness and the Messiah nearly impossible.

So the task we have before us is this. We need to take a messianic idea which has been twisted and corrupted horribly for nineteen hundred years by a man made, anti-Jewish religion of persecutors, remove all the junk, clutter and additions to get down to the truth of Who He was and what He taught. We also need to remove nineteen hundred years of superstition, anti-messianic ideas and reactionary theology from what we know as Judaism to discover what YHVH really wants His people to live like and believe. And in order for either task to be accomplished we need to uncover the history of a small group within a small people on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean which neither of the majority groups want to acknowledge. Christians don’t want to remember the Nazarenes because the foundation of their religion is anti-Judaic and these people were Torah loving Jews who believed in the same Messiah they claim to. To admit that ‘St. James’, ‘St. Peter' and even the beloved ‘St. Paul’, whose example they were encouraged to follow, were Torah observant Jews their whole lives and even beyond that, taught Torah and loved the Jewish people, would be tantamount to pulling the foundation out from under their religion and cast doubt on everything they have been taught to do and believe. The Jewish people don’t want to acknowledge the Nazarenes because they have gladly accepted the Christian's claim that Judaism and the Messiah are mutually exclusive. Once one believes in the messiah the church claims, one is no longer a Jew but a ‘Christian’. To admit the Nazarenes were Torah observant Jews would be a direct challenge to that assumption and force them to look at the claims of Yahushua anew, not in a Christian context, but in a Jewish one.

But God has been at work for almost two hundred years to restore what was lost, Torah centered messianic faith. The Sabbaterians, the Hebrew Christians and the Messianic Jews have been rediscovering Torah from the Christian side, there has been a recent move among Reform Jews to reestablish Torah observance and, among a small number of orthodox Jews, an honest reevaluation of the claims of Yahushua as the Messiah of Israel. All this has pointed to the reestablishment of a truly Jewish community of Torah observant people who believe in the Messiahship of Yahushua as it existed in the first century. We are on the crest of that wave.

So the first question that must be answered is ‘What was the Natzrim community like?’ How did they live, what did they believe, how did they understand the fulfillment of the hopes of their people? To answer that question we shall take a brief look at the life and teachings of Yahushua Himself and then look at those who comprised the Natzrim community after His death and resurrection.

There is little debate anymore, either in Jewish or Christian circles, about the fact that Yahushua was a good, observant Jew. He came into the first century, he lived in Israel, he walked among the Jewish people, he lived according to their law and taught as many of the rabbis at that time did. We know that in order for His sacrifice to be acceptable, it would have to be ‘without blemish’, or in His case, sinless. Sinless according to Elohim’s standard, Torah. Yochannan states in his account that Yahushua was the ‘Word of Elohim’. He was Torah in the flesh. Torah was His very nature and His life and teaching constantly reflected that fact.

The accounts of His life are replete with instances of His Torah observance. He obeyed the Sabbath and celebrated the festivals, He ate the right foods and wore the signs of the covenant, He exemplified the true, righteous and holy Jew of His time and all time. And He taught the same.

He said that Torah would not pass away before the heavens and the Earth. He stated that all the commandments, the least to the greatest, the moral and the religious, the ethical and the ritual, all of them were important and adherence to them would make one great in Elohim’s sight. And not only that but the commandments were to be obeyed even more meticulously than the Pharisees and the spirit had to be pure and holy as well, with no hypocrisy (Matt 5). The righteousness of those who followed Him and would claim His name in the future should be unquestionable. They should be known as the most pious, righteous people in the world, according to the standard of Torah.

Yahushua actually pointed to Torah as the way to eternal life. This is an idea that does not get much airtime but it is there for anyone who has the chutzpah to look. When the rich man came and asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life’, he asked the question that everyone wants to know the answer to. Here it is, the big one. And what was Yahushua’s response? ‘Believe in me and be saved’? ‘Accept me in your heart’? ‘Pray this little prayer’? None of the above! He asked the man what was written in the Torah! And the man answered with two central passages in the Torah, passages that had been, and still are, central to Judaism. And then what did Yahushua say? Do this and you will live! Not ‘think this’ or ‘believe this’ but do this. Do what? The two commands in Torah that sum up the rest of it, the ones that represent the whole. So where does He then fit into that equation? He is the Torah made flesh, He embodies it and it speaks of Him (Lk 24:44). He is the reason there is life in Torah.

Yahushua supported the Temple cult as well, which included all the sacrifices prescribed by the Levitical code. (Matt 8:4) Even amid the corruption that had become part of the Temple administration since the time of the Hasmoneans, and in His day, with the buying and selling of the High Priesthood to the Romans, He did not take the position of the Eseenes and label it hopeless, nor did He disregard the system as a whole (by this I mean the levitical and priestly rituals and sacrifices and the idea of a Temple itself), corrupt or pure, as pointless and without value. His followers would continue to participate in Temple life until it’s destruction.

He expected that His followers would continue in many of the traditions that had already been developed in Israel. He warned them against making a show of their covenantal obedience, ‘do not make your Tzitzit long or your Tefillin broad like the Pharisees’, (Matt 23:5) but he expected that these things, as they had developed up to that point would continue. His disagreements with the Pharisees, to whom he was closest and among whom his followers would gain the most adherents, stemmed largely from two areas. First, was that some equated meticulous observance of the commandments to righteousness of the heart. As He pointed out, one can be very exacting in one’s Torah obedience and still be a rotten person. He reprimanded the Pharisees (who were well aware of the hypocrites in three midst) that they would tithe even their spices but had ignored justice and mercy in their dealings with their fellow men (Matt 23:23). Yahushua told them they should concentrate on the latter, that is justice and mercy, while not neglecting the former, the tithe. Their second mistaken assumption was that the priestly rituals and purity laws should be applied to every Jew all the time. The washing of the hands, for example, came from the priests who washed themselves before they offered sacrifices. Now, in the mind of a Pharisee, he was the priest of his home and his table was his altar therefore it was proper for him to ritually wash his hands. Now while it may be acceptable to take on more Torah than applies to you, to upbraid someone who does not as a sinner is improper. This idea of maintaining priestly ritual purity would again rear it’s ugly head when it came time to expand the mission to the Goyim.

He also accepted the authority of the Pharisees to interpret the Law. They sat in Moshe’s seat and he told his followers to listen to them (Matt 23:2). Overall, this would point to His acceptance of Jewish tradition, the Oral Law, as it had developed up to that point according to the judgements of the Sanhedrin and judges of Israel. He rejected the view of the Sadducees and the Karites of a later time, that the Oral Law is not a valuable resource in teaching the community Torah. The leaders of the community placed there by Elohim formulated it according to His command, it had Elohim’s stamp of authority. This is not to say that the Sanhedrin and the judges were never wrong, the Torah itself makes provision for their errors, but that would be the exception rather than the rule. As Yahushua Himself stated, tradition cannot contradict the written word of Elohim (Mk 7:9-13) And recognizing that His presence would change some things, He authorized His followers to develop their own case law in addition to and not in place of what had already been established and it would have the authority of Elohim behind it.

After the death and resurrection of Yahushua, things continued along the same lines. In response the events of Shava’ut, and Kefa’s preaching which placed Yahushua and the Nazarenes right in the middle of prophetic fulfillment, a vibrant community was formed. They were taught by the Talmidim, who were a group of observant Jews from Galilee, they met in the Temple, they ate together and said ‘the prayers’ which, no doubt, is a reference to the regular prayers of the synagogue and Temple which would eventually form the core of the Siddur.

While the fact that they preached the Messiah made the Sanhedrin nervous because of it’s political implications, they enjoyed the favor of the people (Acts 2:47) and many of them were the personification of pious, Torah-observant Jews. There was no new religion here. Yahushua had come to call sinners to repentance and adherence to the covenant. He was the fulfillment of the prophetic hope and a sign that the Day of the Lord was near. He was the ‘second Moshe’, the Prophet foretold by Moshe himself (Acts 3:22, 23). His followers had repented and embraced that truth and sought to convince the rest of their people of that fact. They were just another sect of Judaism, probably a sect within a sect since they were primarily in the pharasaic tradition.

But Messianism scared the Sanhedrin, that was why Yahushua was put to death in the first place. When Kefa and Yochannan stood before them, they were not charged with a crime against the Torah or even the traditions. In that case they could have easily been punished. The Sanhedrin just wanted the messianism to go away before it caused trouble with the Romans. Their decision of tolerance, reccomentded by Rabban Gamaliel, (Acts 5:38, 39) for the Nazarenes is a decision that must stand to this day because there is no comparable authority to reverse it.

The community continued to expand and were highly regarded among the people. Soon there were a group of hellenists attached to this orthodox bunch. Hellenists were less torah-observant by definition and this gave the Sanhedrin it’s first real opportunity to come against this sect. Stephen, a hellenist, was seized and brought before the council. Witnesses falsely accused him of speaking against the Temple and the Law. There is no evidence that he did any such thing but because he was a hellenist, the charges were believable. He was stoned and the rest of the hellenists were routed from the city. The Talmidim stayed, however, because they could not be accused as easily and they enjoyed the support of the populace.

The main perpetrator of this persecution is Rabbi Sha’ul, a Pharisee of Pharisees, blameless in his obedience to the law. He meets Yahushua on the way to Damascus and is healed by a talmid named Ananias whom Sha’ul describes as a devout observer of the Law (Acts 22:12). He said this in defense of himself and the Nazarenes and he mentioned it to make the point to the people of Yerushalyim that they were just as devout and Torah-observant as anyone, and even moreso. They were good, traditional Jews who had realized the hope of their people in Yahushua.

In the second decade after the death and resurrection of Yahushua the mission had expanded to the Samaritans, the Diaspora and geyrim; the Elohim fearers, gentiles who had attached themselves to the Synagogue, had adapted much of the Jewish lifestyle excepting circumcision. Eventually the question came up, what is the process by which a Gentile becomes part of remnant Israel in the Messianic age? Some insisted on circumcision, that nothing had changed as far as conversion was concerned. Kefa and Sha’ul had seen Elohim place His stamp of approval on these converts through His spirit without this ritual. They understood that Elohim had circumcised their heart and placed His Torah within them as promised by Jeremiah. They were full fledged members of the community by repenting and being immersed. This was a difficult idea to swallow, particularly for the Pharisees because circumcision was central to their understanding of Israel's covenant relationship with Elohim.

The issue was debated and resolved at the famous Jerusalem council. They decided that Sha’ul and Kefa were right, entrance to the community was by profession and immersion and circumcision was not required for gentiles. As those who were not already Elohim fearers came out of their pagan culture, there were a few preliminary things that would be necessary if they had not already adopted these basic features of Jewish life. They needed to stay clear of idolatry, from sexual immorality, from eating blood and other non-ritually slaughtered meat and from blood or murder. These are the basics of righteousness required for everyone who wants to start on the road to covenant relationship with Elohim. They assumed, as Ya’akov added at the end of the discussion, that they would read and learn Torah as they were integrated into the community. That these geyrim would continue in the synagogues and learn what it means to be a member of the covenant community of Israel. They would eventually internalize the values, theology, and practice of the nation they had applied for citizenship in.

Did this happen? We can see by the evidence of the literature of the Brit Chadasha that they did. It formed the framework of their understanding of religion, Messiah, time, distance and Elohim. Allow me to illustrate some examples. Luke is possibly the only Gentile from the early community whose writings have come down to us, and he appears to be writing to another gentile. The language he uses shows that both had been immersed in Jewish life and culture and adopted it as their own. When he describes distance, he uses the term ‘Sabbath day’s journey’ rather than the Roman measure or stadia (Acts 1:12). When he describes the time of Sha’ul’s journey to Rome, he describes their voyage as taking place ‘after the fast’, that is Yom Kippor’ (Acts 27:9), which also shows they accepted halachah (oral law) up to that point. Sha’ul, when talking to the Corinthians, who by most people’s understanding were the most unregenerate Gentiles described in the Brit Chadashah, used the term ‘cup of thanksgiving’, the name of the first cup of wine drunk at the Passover Seder. This was a congregation Sha’ul founded. Who do you think taught them about Pesach? When he was arguing with the Galatians about Torah, what did he use to support his arguments? Tenach! It would not make sense for him to use an authority he regarded as passe to support his point. The Galatians obviously valued Torah and the prophets as an authority. Who taught them that? The phrase ‘lamb of Elohim’ means nothing outside of Torah. The Gentiles to whom the leaders of the Nazarene community wrote had an intimate understanding of Torah and halachah. How did a bunch of Gentiles learn all this stuff about Judaism and then make it part of themselves so that everyone was speaking the same language? Either they knew it from being part of the synagogue already or the Talmidim who introduced them to the messianic idea taught it to them. Isn’t that a scandal. ‘St. Paul’ teaching Torah and tradition to Gentiles!

Over the next two decades the message continued to spread from Yerushalyim and the original Talmidim continued to be the authority. When Sha’ul comes back to Yerushalyim thirteen years after the council, he finds a vibrant Nazarene community ‘zealous for Torah’ (Acts 21:20). After his arrest, he vehemently denies not only that he never did anything contrary to Torah, but he continued to live as a Pharisee according to the traditions to that very day (Acts 26:5). The leadership in Yerushalyim under Ya’akov ha Tzaddik, and including Sha’ul, set the tone by adhering to the normative Judaism of their day, primarily according to the pharisaic tradition. That all changed with the revolt. Many of the Nazarenes fled Yerushalyim and those that remained suffered the same fate as the rest of the Jews in the city. The leadership was further decimated by the Romans as they tried to eradicate the davidic line, from whom the Nazarenes had drawn the successors of Ya’akov. The talmidim died off in the years before and after the revolt and there was no comparable authority to reign in the divergent practices among the Jews, hellenists and gentiles of the sect. Jewish religious practices were proscribed to various degrees by the Romans in the decades that followed which made the Jewish lifestyle even less appealing to the average Gentile. The Gentiles and the hellenists became selective in their halachah and without a strong authority in Yerushalyim to steer the movement in the right way, many of the communities moved away from strict Torah observance and halachah. The farther one went from Yerushalyim, the less Torah was followed. Antioch, Rome and Alexandria, centers of gnosticism and mystery religions, now became centers for the followers of Yahushua as well and they filled the vacuum in authority created by the razing of Yerushalyim. A few Nazarene communities remained in Judea but as the minority both in Judaism and the newly forming Christianity, they had little impact on either group in the decades and centuries that followed.

These Nazarenes were still around in the fifth century, although by then they were an insignificant heresy to the Christians. Epiphanius has this to say about them;

“We shall now especially consider heretics who call themselves Nazarenes; they are mainly Jews and nothing else. They make use not only of the New Testament, but they also use in a way the Old Testament of the Jews. For they do not forbid the books of the Law, the Prophets and the that they are approved of by the Jews, from whom the Nazarenes do not differ in anything, and they do profess all the dogmas pertaining to the prescriptions of the Law and the customs of the Jews, except they believe in Messiah. They preach that there is but One God and His Son Yahushua. They are learned in the Hebrew language, for they, like the Jews, read the whole Law, then the Prophets...They differ from the Jews because they believe in Messiah, and from the Christians in that they are to this day bound to the Jewish rites such as circumcision, the Sabbath and other ceremonies..”

They continued to exist in small pockets into the second millenium, even being subject to the inquisition for their judaizing. They were know as the Pasaginians then, a name of Latin origin that describes them as wanderers, much like the other Jews of the Middle Ages.

This tells us a lot about our ancestors. To briefly sum it all up, the following is a basic description of the Nazarenes based on all the previous information, a description of what we are trying to reestablish at the end on the second millenium. Epiphanius also tells us that most of them lived in the Land, they valued the promise of it to Avraham. They were zealous for Torah and followed the Tenach as well as the writings of the Brit Chadashah. They followed the Law and the customs of the Jews, from whom they differed in nothing save the fulfillment of the Messianic hope. They knew Hebrew and they followed the traditional Torah and haftorah readings. They followed, for the most part, pharisaic halachah. And because of all this they were approved of by the Jews.

That is the goal. To equate Yahushua with Torah rightoeusness and lifestyle. A believer in Yahushua should be a pious Jew by definition. Not a Christian who follows Torah or a Jew that believes in ‘Jesus’ but an individual whose belief in the Messiahship of Yahushua naturally expresses itself in Torah piety. In the first century, when someone claimed to be a Natzrim, that person was a Tzaddik, by definition. We should seek to be similarly defined.

Now that we have a basic understanding of what the original Nazarenes were like and what happened to them, we can take a look at several of the important issues involved in reconstructing their community two millennia later. The concerns are many and correct understanding and implementation will make the difference between success and failure, between a comprehensive, unified community and a disorganized, confused movement. Some have sought to go where we are heading and have gotten lost and bewildered along the way. In reality, the difficulties are not in understanding the history. The facts are rather straightforward for anyone willing to put aside their preconceived ideas and assumptions and look at them honestly. The real issue is whether are not we are willing to examine some of our most dearly held beliefs and their underlying assumptions and cast them aside if they are not in line with the Scriptures. And then to adopt a system of understanding and a way of life that makes one stand out in the crowd, that makes one part of an historically persecuted minority. It is an issue of sacrifice. Of self, of ego, of family, of time, of possessions, of life. Not an easy thing but it is only when we sacrifice our life with all it’s baggage and truly seek to become the men and women Elohim desires that we will succeed.

I believe the central issue that we need to address is one of identity. With whom do we identify, or, as I have heard it poignantly stated before, with whom will we be persecuted? Many people who hear of us and what we are doing will identify us with the Messianic Jewish Movement (I have experienced this many times) and by doing so they place us under the heading of ‘Christianity’. Both Jews and Christians who are knowledgeable enough usually make this identification. We need to ask ourselves whether this is the banner under which we want to develop our identity.

Let’s look at the Messianic Jewish Movement for a moment. Many of us are familiar with it and some of us are still involved with it to some degree. The following discussion is about the popular notion of what the Messianic Jewish movement is all about and how it describes and understands itself as exemplified by the Messianic Jewish Alliance, The Messianic Union, related organizations and their leaders. Regardless of what may be their deepest desire, which is to be regarded as a valid expression of Judaism, just as the Orthodox or Reform movements are, they are not and they never will be. Because in their attempt to do so, they have kept one foot firmly planted within the Christian community. A large part of their theology and worldview come from Christianity. While they do reject replacement theology and so make room for themselves as Jews within the Christian community, they have not, in most cases, developed practices and institutions endemic to Judaism. As such there are some fundamental problems with the Messianic Jewish Movement’s understanding of things and this results in confusion and disunity.

One of the first areas of confusion is that of religious expression. First, allow me to say that there is a wide spectrum of religious practice among Messianic Jews and their congregations, which, in itself, is a problem. Some congregations are adopting Orthodox or Hasidic practices and others have kept mainstream church worship traditions. Ultimately, in the Messianic Jewish point of view, there are no standards because there is no right and wrong in religious expression. Allow me to explain how I can come to such a conclusion. While many Messianic Jews and even some Christians know that Passover and Yom Kippor are Scriptural and Christmas and Easter are not, there can be no authoritative correction (although the Christians will sometimes accuse those who follow Scriptural religious traditions of being legalists and Judaizers!). This is because Messianic Jews see themselves as part of the ‘church’ and they look at Christians as their brothers and because of this they accept, to a greater or lesser degree, the Christian interpretation of Scripture. They are all part of the ‘body’, the Messianic Community, the universal Church. The result of this is the practical understanding that Elohim does not really care that most of ‘the body’ are worshipping Him according to the practices of the pagans (Deut 12) or the ‘Traditions of men’ and while He may be pleased that some are worshipping Him according to Torah, it was really only meant for ‘ethnic’ or ‘natural’ Israel. In the great scheme of things it doesn’t really matter because ‘we’re all saved’, which is the ultimate goal of both groups. I have read this described as the ‘One faith, one baptism, two expressions’ theory. One cannot do enough Scriptural gymnastics to support such an idea. To do so is to ignore all the warnings of Moshe and the Prophets about the adoption of pagan practices and of the corruption of the pure religion YHVH had given to the people of Israel. It supports the spoken and unspoken assumption of the ‘church’ that the ‘Old Testament’ isn’t relevant to them. It is also to embrace the absurd idea that Shimon Kefa and that great Pharisee Rav Sha’ul accepted Gentiles into the community of Israel while allowing them to continue to practice paganism. That they allowed pagans to rename pagan practices and celebrate them with equal validity alongside the festivals of YHVH and see nothing wrong with it. That Gentiles could come into covenant relationship with the Elohim of Israel while thumbing their noses at all the things those who had gone before held dear. That they believed the Messiah had come to give ready acceptance to both Jews and Gentiles in the small, unique community of Remnant Israel, regardless of their behavior or the forms of their religious expression. Anyone who wants to become part of the commonwealth of Israel through the Messiah does so in the context of covenant. And covenants have stipulations that are meant to be adhered to and if they are not, there are negative consequences. For Messianic Jews to look at and accept Christians as equally acceptable brothers ‘in the Lord’ and as legitimate ‘converts’ into the commonwealth of Israel is to destroy the basis for the covenant relationship Elohim has always had with His people.

This brings us to another problem with Messianic Judaism. They don’t know what to do with the Gentiles. The confusion again results from having one foot in either camp. On the one hand, they want to see themselves as a legitimate branch of Judaism and to this end, they have set up many institutions in which the leadership and policy bodies are made up of ethnic Jews (although in Messianic Judaism the definition of an ‘ethnic Jew’ does not usually follow ‘traditional’ halachah). However, many Gentiles have become attracted to Judaism, as has been the case throughout history, and a brand of Judaism that allows them to maintain their belief in their Messiah is particularly attractive. Many Christians have come to see the value in understanding the jewishness of their original faith and some have even been motivated to adopt some Jewish practices. And others, like many of us, have seen the value of Torah as the correct way of life for the redeemed person and have sought to apply it all to the best of our knowledge and understanding. But when a Gentile comes into Messianic Judaism they find out that their participation is limited to the perimeter. In the MJAA they are not allowed full membership. They are not ordained as Rabbis. There is no mechanism or procedure to allow a Gentile’s full participation in the institutions of Messianic Judaism.

In Non-Messianic Judaism, this is accomplished through the conversion process. After a Gentile has gone through this process they are members of the House of Israel, no different than their natural born counterparts, with all the same privileges and responsibilities. Messianic Judaism, on the other hand, does not see the need for conversion. The Gentile Christians are already their brothers, fellow heirs in the body of Messiah. Why would they need to convert? In many Messianic synagogues, Jews and Gentiles alike are encouraged to pray the ‘sinners prayer’ at which time they enter the ‘Church’. The Jew and the Gentile take divergent paths from there, however. Once they come into the ‘Church’ they have different responsibilities and duties. In the Messianic synagogue, Judaism is practiced to some degree. The Gentile is sent to a church with different practices. He can visit the synagogue but it not really there for him, regardless of what he thinks. So the Gentile on whom Elohim has impressed the importance of Torah and Judaism finds himself in limbo. While the Messianic Jews see him as a ‘brother in Messiah’ he is held at arms length due to an accident of birth. It seems as though the Messianic Jewish ‘denomination’ is a ‘Jews only’ club.

Another problem is Messianic Judaism is ambivalent about Torah. Since it seems as though Messianic Judaism is another Christian denomination of sorts, they have sought to pour the wine of Christianity into the wineskin of Judaism. Outwardly, many of their practices are Jewish. They wear tallit when they worship and they worship on Shabbat. They celebrate many of the festivals and they wear kippot. Some synagogues even have Torah scrolls and a few of the congregants can read it. But inwardly, most of their theology and belief is Christian. Their creeds, their understanding of the Messiah, the nature of God, salvation and especially their attitude and understanding of the Mosaic covenant come from Christianity. They don’t know how important it is. On one hand, they’re Jewish so they know, at some level, it is important to them. On the other hand, their brothers, the Christians, don’t obey the mosaic covenant at all. In fact, they have adopted many practices of the pagans, something the terms of the covenant prohibit. But they are ‘saved’ just the same. Yet, both the Messiah and His Talmidim taught about the importance of Torah and lived it out in their lives. And these are the acknowledged founders of the ‘church’. But the ‘church’ has taught for almost two thousand years that Torah is not essential for salvation, it is not important in a believer’s life and may even be an impediment to the Christian drawing closer to Elohim. So if it’s not essential to salvation, Messianic Judaism cannot, with any real authority, require, or even strongly encourage, Torah obedience among it’s adherents. Christian understanding says Torah is not important so as long as Messianic Judaism remains in the Christian camp, Torah obedience will just be one option of acceptable Christian religious expression among many. It will be a means to an evangelistic end and will continued to be looked at with suspicion (and rightly so) by non-messianic Jews.

So what am I saying here. I’ve thrown out a a lot of terms here; salvation, Torah, Israel, Messiah, Church, Jew, Christian and others common in our religious debate. The definition of these terms is something that we need to discuss as well. Messianic Judaism has adopted, for the most part, a Christian understanding of these terms and many of us, having been brought up in a Christian environment, still think that way as well. As such, it would be easy to conclude from my statements that I believe Torah, the Law, is essential for salvation and all the Christians are going to hell. Taking salvation, Israel and Torah, understanding them in the common Christian sense and combining them as I have, it would be easy to come to that conclusion. Nothing could be farther form the truth however. One does not have to be part of the ‘commonwealth of Israel’, remember the Sabbath, abstain from pork or celebrate the festivals to receive a place in the world to come (See Israel, the Goyim and the Eternal Destiny of Man for more info here). That is another issue completely but it illustrates the point that if we are going to understand Scripture in a consistent matter, we cannot blindly accept Christianity's definition of these terms for they have a different meaning in Judaism.

Ultimately, the question which we must have the courage to face and answer is, ‘are Christianity and Judaism compatible at all?’ Messianic Judaism has said yes and attempted to make the marriage work and we have looked at the results. I believe there are fundamental differences between Judaism and Christianity in theology, practice and in the religious communities themselves which require a negative answer to the question. Christianity evolved as a reaction against Judaism and the Jewish people around the period of the first Jewish war with Rome. It proscribed Jewish practices more vehemently than did the Roman government. It began to understand the Scriptures through the eyes of Plato and Aristotle instead of Moshe and the prophets. They stole the Sacred Scriptures and made them simply a preface to their own and then redacted themselves into them to create a sense of legitimacy. They changed the Messiah from a Torah obedient Jewish man Who loved His people to a universal, anti-Torah demigod. And once they had the machinery of the state at their disposal, they rigorously persecuted the true people of Elohim, something that continues to this day. Judaism is a triad of Torah, people and land put together by Elohim Himself never to be forsaken or replaced. Christianity has proscribed the Torah for it’s adherents, persecuted the people and moved the promised land to the heavenlies. How can there be any perceived continuity between the two? Judaism holds dear everything Christianity abhors. Christianity is a man made religion, a combination of Roman and Babylonian religion, Greek philosophy and some basic Jewish ethics (although with all the murder and mayhem perpetuated in the name of ‘Christ’, the last point could certainly be disputed). Christianity has taken some basic truths and ideas, removed their foundation and created a new religion. To put Judaism back into Christianity is to put a square peg in a round hole. When we present Nazarene Judaism to Christians, we are not educating them about the roots of their faith, we are showing them the truths of the Scriptures they claim. Christianity is not a form of Judaism, it doesn’t even spring from the same well.

What is the well from which Christianity sprung? It was the well of Roman and Alexandrine anti-Semitism (used in the modern sense of the word), it was the well of gnosticism and the dualism endemic to Greek philosophy, it was the well of Babylonian and Roman religious practice and culture. Let’s take a brief look at all of these.

Hatred of the Jewish people has been around since there was a Jewish people. Pharaoh hated them and killed their sons. Nebuchadnezzar besieged their cities and destroyed their Temple. Haman wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth. Why? Because they “keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people..” (Est 3:8) They seemed to have nothing in common with other peoples. The Jewish people were different and they are different because that is what Elohim wants them to be. Their light would not shine if they were like all other nations. YHVH has called them out, He has chosen them, which means the other nations were not. This creates resentment among other peoples, it bothers them because the Jews are the conscience of the world. Their existence says “our way is Elohim’s way” which means their way is not.

In the period leading up to the time of Messiah, the first true evidence of anti-Semitism (as we understand it today) in the ancient world, in the third century BCE, was in Egypt in reaction to an effective campaign of conversion on the part of the Jewish population. Of course we cannot fail to mention how Antiochus Epiphanies felt about the Jews and tried to proscribe Jewish practice in the second century, leading to the revolt of the Maccabees. In the first century BCE another, wider wave of anti-Semitism swept the ancient world. It began in Alexandria and Antioch, which, along with Rome, became the centers of Christian understanding after the destruction of Yerushalyim. The instigators, Apion, Poscidonios and Molon, said that the Jews were a race of shameful origins, a race of lepers who had been cast out of Egypt at the time of Moshe. Dietary laws and circumcision were corruptions of Moshe’s ‘ideal’ religion. They said Jewish separation had it’s roots in the hatred of mankind and of the gods, they undermined all other religions, they worshipped a golden ass’s head, practiced ritual murder against the Greeks and that Jewish civilization was sterile and had produced nothing useful. For those of you familiar with the history of the church in the middle ages, much of this sounds very familiar.

Apion took his anti-Jewish feeling to Rome where he found a ready ear among the many who opposed Caeser’s pro-Jewish policies. In the first century CE Sejanus, the man behind Tiberius Caesar, banished Jews from Rome and had an anti-Jewish campaign planned before his execution. Tactius stated that “the Jews regard as profane all we hold sacred and permit all we abhor”. In 40 CE Caligula planned to have a statue of himself erected in the Temple. After the rebellion in 66CE, much of Jewish practice was proscribed, and even more harshly in the time of Hadrian and the second Jewish war in 132 CE. Most Gentiles in the Roman world did not have a very positive view of the Jews.

Gnosticism had it origins in Alexandria, that great melting pot of religious ideas in the ancient world. It was secretive in the sense that it’s adherents believed they has a knowledge (gnosis) that other people did not have. The Gnostics believed in a incomprehensible, unapproachable god who had no contact with the material world. The world was created by a series of demi-urges which made matter evil because it had nothing to do with god. The Gnostics believed they had the knowledge to break free of this evil, material world and unite with the divine. They interpreted religious texts, including the Tenach, allegorically, they worshipped images, embraced Greek philosophy, they were sun worshippers and they were anti-Jewish. Many of the church fathers; Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Clement and Origen came from Alexandria and their writings belie the influence gnosticism had on their Christianity.

Barnabas (not the companion of Sha’ul) was known for his allegorizing of the Sabbath and anti-Torah sentiment. Justin believed that Jewish religion was forced upon Israel as punishment by Elohim. Clement believed that the Christian was the true Gnostic and that while there was one river of truth, many streams fall into on either side. Origen’s opinion of Torah was that the literal application of it’s laws was never it’s intent and that one had to leave these things behind and turn the mind to the good, true and spiritual law of Elohim.

In Antioch, Ignatius (the authenticity of whose letters is in question) said that if we live in accordance with Judaism, we admit we have not received grace. In Rome, Marcion, a ‘Christian Gnostic said that the Jewish Elohim was the demi-urge and since the Torah was the work of this inferior Elohim it should be ignored. He also believed in fasting on Shabbat to show contempt for it, a practice already common in the Roman ‘church’ by his time.

During the second and third centuries, Roman and Babylonian religious practices were adopted to fill the vacuum created by the abandonment of Judaism, the facts of which most of us are aware. Sunday worship, Easter, image worship, Christmass, a celibate priesthood, and ideas such as the exclusive fraternity of the church for salvation, the authority of the bishop of Rome, the trinity, the evil nature of the flesh and the world and other Greek philosophical ideas. Often these inventions were not adopted through reasoned debate but through all out war in which forgery, slander, murder and rebellion were accepted practice.

In the fourth century John Chrysostom denounced the Jews as carnal, lascivious, demonic and accursed. They were deicides and they worshipped the devil. St Jerome said about the synagogue ‘If you call it a brothel, a den of vice, the devil’s refuge, Satan's fortress a place to deprave the soul, an abyss of every conceivable disaster or whatever else you will, you are still saying less that it deserves’. Synagogues were burnt to the ground at the instigation of the church bishops. This was the time of Augustine, who, more than any other individual, dominated Christian thought for a thousand years, and whose influence is still felt today. The concept of original sin and the idea that salvation was only to be found in the church were his inventions. He was a strong proponent of using the sword to enforce orthodoxy, bring about conversion and punish heretics and Jews. He divided the world into Christians, who were the only saved ones, and everyone else, all of whom were going to hell because of their inherent wickedness. The Jews were to be kept in perpetual slavery to bear witness to the triumph of the church. There is a direct line from the ‘church fathers’ to the atrocities of the crusades, the inquisition, the pogroms and the holocaust. Yahushua said ‘by their fruits you will know them’. The fruit of Christianity shows that it does not come from the root of Israel or Israel’s Messiah. It is not in any way represenative of the Messiah of Israel or those who folowed Him.

This brief look at the facts should show that Christianity has much more in common with the religions and philosophies of the ancient world that it does with Judaism. The Gentiles (and hellenized Jews) thought the idea of being Elohim’s chosen and going to heaven through someone else's work (Yahushua’s) was a good one but tying it to the Judaism many of them had been taught to abhor and which was proscribed by the empire was not. So they took the Jew Yahushua and transformed him into a demi-god, placed him in Greek clothes and put him in their religious and philosophical context. Beyond the externals of a messianic idea and some basic ethics, Judaism and Christianity have little in common. Their theology, philosophy, world-view, ways of thinking and religious practices are on opposite ends of the spectrum. They cannot be combined in a way that is truly meaningful and consistent.

If we have the courage to face and accept that truth and accept the consequences of that truth, most of our confusion and uncertainty will go away. What are the consequences of that truth? First, the Jewish community will continue to be very skeptical of us and it is going to take a lot of time and consistency on our part to allay their fears and concerns. The Jewish community is suspicious by nature of anything they perceive as foreign because of their history. There will continue to be a ‘knee-jerk’ rejection of us because of their preconceived ideas about us and the labels they will continue to try to force on us. We will continue to be labeled as ‘Jews for Jesus’ and ‘Messianic Jews’ or ‘Jewish Christians’. But we must patiently continue to explain our purpose and mission, carving out a new niche and placing a new label on ourselves that will accurately describe who we are and what we’re about. And there are rays of hope. Particularly in the orthodox community where Torah obedience is valued almost above all else, there has been some positive movement. As we continue to put value on the same things and consistently, through word and action demonstrate in whose camp we are, the walls will slowly come down. Again, it will be a slow process. Keep in mind that the acceptance of the Chasidim into the mainstream Jewish fold took nearly four generations.

Those reactions, many of us are used to. The reaction from the Christian community will be different. We must always keep in the front our thinking that it is pleasing Elohim that is the most important thing. Many of us have gotten used to the help of Christians and the churches, we have operated under their blessing, we have met in their buildings and have drawn many visitors and even some adherents from their ranks. The label of ‘Messianic Jewish’ many of us have accepted either actively or passively has allowed this free flow of people and assistance between us and the church. This will eventually come to a stop; it must if we desire to place both feet in the camp of Israel. The Jewish community is not going to believe anything we say about ourselves when we meet in a church building and belt out ‘Amazing Grace’ during worship. As we consistently declare we are not Christians, that we do not accept their theology and interpretation of the Scriptures, that we are not their intimate brothers and ‘co-heirs’ with their messiah, they will reject us and look at us with suspicion. This is not to say that we will cease to cooperate with Christians in encouraging righteousness among all peoples and working towards common goals, just as the Jewish and Christian communities do today. But cooperation in ‘evangelism’ or other such things will no longer be possible. We are not preaching the same messiah and our idea of discipleship will be completely different. Eventually, if they haven’t already, they will label us a cult, which in an interesting phenomenon. ‘Cults’, according to Christianity, are groups that operate outside of accepted ‘orthodoxy’. And how is orthodoxy defined? By majority consensus, and, in the past, by ‘bigger guns’. It is not defined by a consistent, honest interpretation of the Scriptures. If it was, Christianity would be the largest and most successful cult of all. Of course, no one will look at it that way. We will be the ones so labeled and it will be much more difficult to draw people to us from Christian circles.

So, are we slitting our own wrists? Are we in reality taking ourselves out of both communities and ensuring our own demise? No, we are not because we have the Truth and we have the promise of Elohim that the community He created would overpower even the gates of Hell. Israel stands on three things. First, is the land promised to Avraham, Yitzak, Ya’akov and their descendants and all who would join them. Second is the Torah, the truth of Elohim, the truth many of us have worked so hard to uncover and understand and then apply. In many ways we have emphasized this more than anything else. But I will say this, and this is essential. While it is true that we are presently the most Scripturally accurate expression of Elohim’s community and it is true that we have recovered and developed many wonderful ideas and a consistent framework from which to understand an apply the Scriptures, that is not what is going to draw most people to us. While Judaism has many beautiful rituals and forms of religious expression that reflect the mind of Elohim, that is not what is going to draw most people to us. The thing that will draw people in and keep them as they grow in understanding is the third thing in the triad; community, Am Yisra’el, the people of Israel. Before we were in the Land, before Elohim gave us Torah, Israel was a people, a community. Because Israel is more than a religion, more than a political entitiy, more than a world view, it is a people. If we focus on the truth that the world will know we belong to God because of the love that we have for one another, our growth will take care of itself. If we show love and acceptance when others will not, we will grow. If we preach truth and let the Ruach haKodesh take care of the conviction or even the condemnation, we will grow. If we place our emphasis on living right instead of believing correctly, many people whom Elohim has touched or who are earnestly seeking Him will find a place of encouragement where they can work out their relationship with Elohim on their own terms while being surrounded with love and truth. We need to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, while at the same time, maintaining the integrity of the community. Truth is on our side, therefore time is as well. We can be confident that when either a Jew or a Christian asks us why, we will have the most Scripturally consistent and accurate answer available. And for those among either group that value their relationship with Elohim, the Scriptures and the truth, they will seek and they will find. And they will find us.

So since we have established that we are firmly in the camp of Israel and Judaism, what now? How do we interact with this community, particularly since they are not really fond of us nor do they, in most cases, even acknowledge our validity. And how do we come back into the stream of Judaism after such a protracted absence during which tradition and halachah continued to develop in the Diaspora, in a world far removed from the Temple and the land, a world of persecution and ghettos, of superstition and Greek enlightenment, and often in reaction against messianic belief, however defined. These are issues that need to be resolved if we are to speak and act with one voice in the larger community of Israel.

The first thing we must all do, some to a greater extent than others, is to unlearn much of what we know. We are pouring new wine into new wineskins. Much of our task is the creation of those wineskins into which Elohim can pour new wine. We cannot create our wineskins with a patchwork of Pentecostalism, Chassidism, Calvinism, Platonism, Rabbinism, and anything else that may suit you or you have in your closet. I have already mentioned the importance of redefining some basic theological terms, as in so doing, we will develop a new theological and philosophic framework in which to understand Scripture, our relationship with our Creator and His plan for this world. That will involve a discovery and reeducation for many of us in the intricacies of Semitic thought, in contrast to our western, Greek way of thinking. And while we will leave many questions unanswered, many of which should remain so, there needs to be a free exchange of ideas among all of us so we can develop a paradigm that is authentically Jewish yet uniquely Nazarene while being consistent, realistic and faithful to Scripture. We need to educate ourselves in rabbinic ways of thought so we can understand some parts of the culture and people the Messiah came to and so we can communicate intelligently with the other Judaisms of our day. We need to break cleanly from our past in the way we use terms, (such as referring to the ‘church’ as part of the body of Messiah’ and the equation of ‘Yahushua’ and ‘Jesus’) and the identity we hold (Jewish, not Christian). This will require work on our part such as immersion in Jewish literature, philosophy and theology to help us understand and develop an identity with Israel and the Jewish people. It will require interaction with the Jewish community and support of Jewish institutions. And along with all that, we must also face the challenge of how we should then live, what the halachah of our community should be.

As we reenter this community (like it or not, here we come!) and hold to Torah as the way of life, we must ask how we are to obey Torah. Do we take the words as they are written and start over? Some seventh day Adventists, the Worldwide Church of Elohim, the Assemblies of Yahweh and lots of other small church groups have attempted this route. But they have not sought to establish continuity with the historic people of Israel. Do we just jump in to the Orthodox stream as it exists today, simply adding our messianic belief? The answer lies somewhere in between reinventing the wheel and adopting the status quo. We cannot accept Orthodox Judaism as is because it rejects our messianic belief and some of it’s traditions and theological understanding have evolved in opposition to that belief. We cannot understand or evaluate the first century Nazarenes exclusively through the eyes of present day Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism developed in response to the Diaspora and Christian persecution. It embraced the superstitions of the dark ages and the thought of the Greek philosophers. The result, as was the case even in Yahushua’s time, was that some of the reasoning and assumptions behind their halacha was flawed and resulted in practices that were not reflective of the will of Elohim or consistent with the rest of Torah. Such practices and ideas can have no place of real value in our halachic system. But most of what is historically consistent in Judaism is valuable and meaningful. Most of the traditions, many of which we take for granted, are beautiful and are filled with both obvious and intricate meaning and they help us develop our relationship with Elohim and our expression of Torah obedience. And if we truly desire to be recognized among the greater commonwealth of Israel, we must respect the community’s authority to establish halachah, historically and presently. And by the community, I mean the larger community of Israel who have taken the covenant seriously whether they be reform, conservative or orthodox as well as the historical consensus that bridges the gap even between Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewry. Our disagreements with their judgements must be undertaken with the utmost seriousness. We must show respect to the history and the development of the people with whom we seek identity. Keep in mind that the common divisions of Reform, Orthodox and Conservative did not even exist two hundred years ago. Before that one was either an observant Jew who took his covenant realtionship with Elohim seriously or he was not. So while the divsions and their consequent religious and political relaities exist and we have to deal with them as such, attempting to fit into a catagory that did not even exist until recently is not something we should be preoccupied with. It is the seriousness with which we take our covenant responsibilities that matters.

Therefore, we do not do things only to seek the approval of Orthodox (or any other form) Judaism. While it may be a consideration and a sign of respect to give heed to the institutions and traditions they have developed, their acceptance of us is not something we have any control over. Individually, we may participate in some of those traditions because we find value in them or to specifically to relate to the Orthodox or Chasidim. But as a community, it would not be proper to blindly enforce a body of tradition that has developed without messianic consideration or Nazarenes. Ultimately, we must obey Elohim rather than men. Some of our disagreements are in areas we cannot compromise, our messianic belief, for example. There will be other areas of Torah and tradition that were part of the Judaisms of the first century that were discarded and we are trying to revive which will put us at odds with the present Judaisms. There will be things we should embrace that we find inconvenient or pointless. And there are beautiful traditions we embrace because they are right. The challenge for us as a community is to know which traditions fit in which category for we cannot be, as many Messianics are, selective in our Torah obedience and our halacha, arbitrarily doing what we personally find meaningful and ignoring the rest. This is a task that must be taken up with the utmost seriousness, founded on biblical integrity and historical accuracy and with a keen understanding of present application.

Beyond recapturing the practices and traditions of the first century community, I would propose the following as a starting point for evaluation and embracing Jewish tradition in general. There are traditions that are part of Judaism in general, traditions that span the divisions of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform, Ashkenazic and Sephardic. These traditions, such as the seder, the siddur, the prohibition of milk and meat, and the division of the Torah portions, for example, are ones that are understood by all of Judaism to be normative. That is not to say that all of the Judaisms practice such things but they all recognize that if one were to be a ‘good Jew’, one would adhere to such traditions. These are traditions we should embrace. And this is the reason why. If we are seeking to be part of the larger community of Israel, the recognized people of Elohim, we must respect the consensus of that community in matters of faith and practice, as long as those things do not directly contradict the Scriptures. Elohim has given the community the authority to interpret Torah and we must show our loyalty to the community by respecting those interpretations that have become part of the historical fabric and identity of the Jewish people. We have seen that Yahushua had this same attitude toward tradition. The Pharisees did not ask Him why he was harvesting on Shabbat (Matt 12) or why He didn’t wash His hands (Matt 15). Their accusations were all directed at the Talmidim, not at Him. Could that be because He observed these traditions to show Himself to be above reproach in the eyes of the community. Certainly the neglect of such traditions cannot usually be construed as sinful. However, Yahushua apparently agreed with the idea that the community, at least those who take Torah and covenant seriously, who were in His day the Pharisees, have the authority to determine what is normative in the practice of Torah, to determine what makes one pious. Throughout Israel’s history, righteous men who took their covenant responsibility seriously have developed traditions to assist them in fulfilling those responsibilities. Some of those traditions have spanned the continents and the centuries. It is those traditions and Torah interpretations we need to embrace to show ourselves as part of the larger community of Israel.

The development of our community should be one of the first things on our list. And it is something we need to work at because of the nature of our development up to this point. Our development has been primarily in the larger community of cyberspace which is probably a first in itself. It has allowed a degree of connectedness and development that would have been impossible a decade ago. The work of the Beit Din, the congregational affiliations, the information published by various people and the sharing of ideas among ourselves are all made possible by this medium. But along with that comes the impersonal nature that is part of the internet. The sense of intimate community and connectedness are difficult to maintain solely through e-mail.

Because of this, the development of local congregations and their affiliation to the whole is essential. It is the local congregations that are going to meet the real needs of people. Anyone can read a paper on the internet, many of us have written important works that bring truth to anyone who wants to look. But we must be much more than just a repository of Elohim’s truth. We must be a community. I know Dr. Trimm is currently working on a program to ‘plant’ new congregations based on the model they have used successfully in Colorado. Leaders extant in various locales need to learn this program and implement it in their areas. There may even be individuals Elohim will call to do this work regularly.

But in order for it to be successful, there needs to be a support structure in place to assist new congregations in their development. This will begin on the local level with the closest congregation(s) providing people, material, training and teaching to develop a strong foundation from which the new seed will grow. There also needs to be an international organization that will provide additional resources and a basic mold in which a congregation can develop. The Society for the Advancement of Nazarene Judaism has filled this role up to this point but to be truly effective, our support of it needs to increase considerably. Yes, I’m talking about money. If SANJ is going to be the organization that will plant and develop local congregations, support the work of scholars to define and defend our community and do whatever necessary to get the truth to as many people as we can, resources are essential. Literature needs to be developed, people need to be trained and sent to various locations. I would propose regional conferences like this to encourage connectedness among people and congregations in a larger geographical area. If we really want to ensure success, and by that I mean the replication of spiritually mature, Torah obedient, Messiah loving individuals and congregations that are going to fulfill the mission that Elohim has for Remnant Israel, then we need to gladly sacrifice our time and money to the larger community. For a true community is one that not only shares the bonds of love and friendship but also has shared ideas, lifestyle and when necessary, resources. The development of a strong sense of community and community responsibility is essential to our success.

We need to address this concern at this early juncture. For we have already been growing at a phenomenal rate because there have so many people who have been previously disconnected to whom Elohim has shown the truth of Torah and Mashiyach have finally found a label with which they can identify. This is a great opportunity but also a problem. The problem is this. How to take people that are by nature, rather individualistic, who are responding to this great move of Elohim, and develop a community rather than a movement. We have seen the disunity that results in a ‘movement’. The divergent views of faith and practice, the ambiguity that results from people from all kinds of backgrounds appropriating a label that has not been clearly defined. The challenge is to define the label in terms that are general enough not to be authoritarian yet specific enough to provide unity, community and some sense of standardization from which we can speak as one voice to both the Christian and Jewish communities.

The International Nazarene Beit Din is a crucial part of the community’s success and, if done properly, will ensure we avoid the pitfalls of the Messianic Movement. Unlike Messianic Judaism, Nazarene Judaism is not a ‘do it yourself’ Judaism. In Messianic Judaism, each individual or congregation adopts the mitzvot and traditions they find valuable or meaningful and ignore the rest. The results are very diverse and divergent beliefs and practices with each one ‘doing what is right in his own eyes’ although it will be rationalized in Christian lingo about conviction or the ‘leading of the Spirit’. We can not be so disorganized if we are ever to be taken seriously.

Therefore the work of the Beit Din is crucial to the formation of a cohesive community. They will answer the questions posed about tradition earlier. They will respond to halachic concerns in our modern time that have not been adequately addressed by the other Judaisms. They will formulate a basic paradigm from which to understand the important topics of Scripture, faith and practice.

They must do so with several things in mind. First, they need to be true to written Torah above all else. We do not want to be condemned for setting aside the command of Elohim for the sake of our tradition. Halacha must be consistent with Torah, Tenach and the teaching of the Messiah and His Talmidim. The Word of Elohim must come first, no matter what.

Second is a healthy respect for and understanding of the traditions and halachic rulings as they have come down to the present age. And I would council that, where possible, and assuming the other criteria are met, orthodox halacha be respected, adapted when necessary and adopted as our own. For if we lean in the orthodox direction, we will find find more acceptance among the other Judaisms because in most cases even the secular Jew knows in his heart that in general terms, orthodoxy is right.

Third, they need to be realistic. We need to look at our present day circumstances and fit our lives into Torah in a way that makes sense and enables us to perform the mitzvot accurately and consistently. That means we will have to make compromises with the modern life we live and and with things that we do not have the ability to control. We need to carefully balance the integrity of Torah with the realities of 20th century life outside Eretz Israel.

Fourth, they must stick to the very basic issues and allow for individuals and communities to express themselves and their relationship with Elohim in their particular situation while remaining under the umbrella of general Natzrim halacha. They cannot seek to micro manage for that would only create resentment and the result would be an erosion of the authority they are seeking to establish. What they need to do is create general principles and halacha that the individual communities and their local beit dins can adapt to their own particular situations. This is all done within the boundaries of Torah, of course, and there needs to be some well defined boundaries. But the local communities must be given the freedom to develop and adapt tradition so it is meaningful to them and respond to situations that are unique to their environment. It would be a good idea to have a clearinghouse to catalogue the rulings from the local beit dins so we can all benefit from the wisdom they apply to their situations. You never know when it may happen in your community.

Finally the last basic issue we need to deal with is maintaining the integrity of the community. This is an essential thing because much of what is contained in Torah is there for that purpose. Israel’s mission, and ours by extension, is to be a light to all the world. We are to be salt, we are to be the consciences of the world. And we understand that Elohim is not going to choose anyone else for the job. Therefore, He has everything, including his honor, staked on us. We have a very serious responsibility because when people see us, they are seeing Elohim’s representatives here on earth. We are the priests of the world and as remnant Israel, we are the ones that make the whole holy. We are held to the highest standard and we need to hold one another to those standards. The integrity of the community is essential to our mission and will enable us to speak and operate as a true community.

What, specifically, am I talking about? I’m talking about each one of us and each one of those who claim to be Nazarene Jews out there being proper representatives of Elohim and Nazarene Judaism. Proper in character and knowledge and spirit. Let’s look at leadership first for that is where it all starts. If leadership is not united around common goals and ideas, there is no way that those whom Elohim has placed under their care are going to generate a common bond and understanding with Nazarenes everywhere else.

The unification of leadership is going to be around the Beit Din. Therefore, let’s start with them. The men (and possibly women) seated in this crucial body must truly be men beyond reproach. As a group, they are really speaking for Elohim to the community. That is a very heavy responsibility and there can be no place given to ulterior motives, juvenile politics or hot heads. The prayerful and informed discussion engaged in to seek the mind of Elohim for the community is a job for those who have spiritual maturity, impeccable character, a working knowledge of Scripture and tradition and an absolute commitment to the community as a whole. Their views and understanding which should have a relatively long and consistent track record, need to show agreement with the primary tenets of Nazarene Judaism as they have been developed to this point. This means that the addition of members to the Beit Din will be done only after careful consideration and evaluation. We are developing something new here and it will be successful to the extent the foundation on which it stands is strong and stable. That foundation is leadership and the basis of leadership and authority is the Beit Din. The work done and decisions made will determine the direction of the community. Therefore, their work needs to be done deliberately and with caution. And while there will be disagreements and not all the votes will be unanimous, all members must respect the body enough to abide by the decisions made and encourage those under their care to do so as well.

Which brings us to those who have leadership positions in local congregations who have affiliated themselves with SANJ and placed themselves under the authority of the Beit Din. Affiliations should be accepted with care and those who seek affiliation should be evaluated by scriptural principles by those bodies they seek to be a part of. These bodies need to be assured that these men and women are going to represent Nazarene Judaism honorably and consistently. They need to abide by the rulings of the Beit Din and be an example to those whom Elohim has placed in their charge. They need to be knowledgeable enough to train others and have the temperament and maturity to do so. They need to be mature people who have developed their understanding of Torah and Messiah over the course of years, not weeks or months. They must have a good understanding of Judaism and should have been living the Jewish lifestyle consistently for some time. At some point an application should be developed by which an applicant for affiliation can be thoroughly evaluated and some type of certification given to the congregation.

Which brings us finally to the people who make up all the local congregations. How do we establish a basic consensus of belief and understanding among a group of people from very varied backgrounds and who are, by nature, rather independently minded. We will do it the same way it has been done in Judaism for years, through the conversion process. This will be a process by which halachicly recognized Jews and Gentiles will develop a basic agreement of belief and practice and become part of the community of remnant Israel. It will be a process of education in theology and practice that should last at least a few months during which the prospect will demonstrate his or her willingness to adopt a Torah observant lifestyle as determined by the Beit Din and the larger community of Israel and his or her commitment to the community by their allocation of time and resources. At the at the end of this time, the local Beit Din will evaluate the prospect and after that, the convert will be immersed. This process is essential for a couple of reasons. First, is the previously mentioned goal of creating a cohesive community based on common belief and practice. Second, it will protect the community from those who would appropriate our label without accepting our values, understanding and authority structures. This is especially true by the nature of our larger community which has evolved on the internet. The third is that it allows gentiles to become full participants in the life of the community because they will have the same basic knowledge, lifestyle and values as do observant halachic Jews. Finally, it is a witness to the larger community of Israel. By developing a conversion process that shows respect for their halacha, teaches people to place value on the same things Jewish people always have, and creating educated students of Torah who are filled with the Spirit of Elohim, will will show ourselves to be true children of Avraham regardless of our birth.

The secret to all of this is maintaining balance. This talk about authority may have made some of you uncomfortable. This talk of standardization and consensus. But the consensus that I am talking about is the one that held the Jewish community together through most of their history. While they may have differed in some of their theology, no one questioned Torah as the way of life, their commitment to the community was impeccable and they all respected the authority of the leading rabbis to develop halachic understanding. They had developed a responsible authority that was respected and and avoided the authoritarian use of power. That is the balance between respecting the individuals relationship with Elohim and his ability to be led by the Spirit and maintaining the integrity of the community and it’s standard according to the Word of Elohim. It is the balance of respecting the ability of local communities to develop wisdom and understanding in their particular situation while maintaining a basic understanding of faith that creates a feeling of community between congregations all over the world. It is the balance between acceptance of an individual’s rate of growth in faith while never lowering the expectations Elohim has of every redeemed person. If we follow such guidelines with maturity and work them out with council among godly men and women, we will develop a vibrant community of individuals who will hold to the highest standards of Scripture, allow the spirit free reign in their lives and are committed to their fellow Nazarenes and Jews all over the world.

The opportunity that is before us is enormous and fraught with peril. Elohim is doing a great and awesome work all over the world. He is bringing Jews and Gentiles to an understanding of redemption that includes both Torah and Mashiyakh. The ‘Church will not hear of Torah, The Jews will not look at Mashiyakh and Messianic Judaism will not accept Gentiles. These people whom Elohim has called to Torah and Messiah will need to find someplace to belong because they know community is essential in Elohim’s plan. We can be that community if we are willing to make it happen. If we are willing to put our time, energy and money into this community we know as Nazarene Judaism nothing will be out of our reach. We are on the ground floor. If we take the time and take what we are doing seriously, we will build a beautiful work. Because truth is our foundation and because as we build on and live that truth the Spirit of Elohim will do things with us and through us that have not been seen since the first decades of the Yerushalyim community.

Rav Mikha’el
Netzarim' 99 Conference
June 1999

Don’t forget to support this work with your tithes and offerings.
Through our free Bible Correspondence course and other free literature and Operation Wake Up Call we are reaching a lost world with Torah and Messiah. Through our blogs, literature and podcasts we are also feeding young believers milk and mature believers nice juicy steaks.

Now we need your help. Tithes and offerings coming into this ministry have been low. Our financial situation is dismal. I am asking you to donate whatever you can. I know people are disgusted with “TV evangelists” and mega ministries begging for money while their leaders live in mansions. Believe me we are struggling to keep the modest home we live in now. If there you are someone who could make a major, one time donation, now would be a good time.

Folks we need your help, we have bills due and at this point we do not have the funds to pay them. Is the work of this ministry worthy of your support? If so now is the time to make your support felt. We need your help today.

Is this work worthy of your support? What other ministry provides this kind of teaching?

James Trimm

You can donate by going to the chip-in counter at or donations can be sent by paypal to

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

James Trimm
Worldwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim

Views: 329

Comment by Abigail on January 2, 2009 at 11:55pm
This is a beautiful vision, I only pray we can aspire to it. But will it be before Messiah Yahushua returns or after.
Comment by roger anderson on January 3, 2009 at 4:40pm
Shalom; You are on the right track. I must disagree on a couple points. Yes the the temple leaders criticized the talmidim. But Yahushua gave the response,and He railed against their manmade traditions,i.e hand washing rituals,overly strict sabbath laws,etc. Clearly Yahushua was at odds with these practices and I cannot see Him going along with them and then hypocritically criticizing them at the same time. We must be a light to both Jews and Christians who have fallen in the ditches on either side of the rough road to salvation. Very good and insightful article. Roger aka Gideon
Comment by Jason Jordan on June 14, 2009 at 6:56am
Roger, if you read the criticism that Yahshua and his taught ones received from some Pharisees over hand washing you will find that it was to do with not adhering to an encumbering ritual and particular style of washing hands before eating period. Ritual hand washing for specific service to YHWH is derived in concentrated form from many of the Psalms and was usually only observed before prayer, breaking bread on Shabbat or handling set-apart objects. The Torah does not mandate washing of hands before the consumption of food in general. If this was the case many Israelites would have died of thirst in the wilderness or in prisons for wasting water. In his response, Yahshua went for a weightier Torah impeding custom by mentioning their man-made ordinance of not allowing Torah students to support their parents, thus causing one of the Ten Commandments (to respect parents) to be broken.

A careful study of Yahshua and his student’s conduct will show that they lived ultra-orthodox lives. The problem is that because they lived Torah so accurately they often fell into criticism by their so-called peers who had actually lost sight of some of the Torah’s finer points.

In recent times, many Natsarim have fallen short by adopting the custom of self talking Hebrew names and in the process disrespecting parents by dropping birth names. There is no example in the entirety of Scripture of a convert self taking a Hebrew name. Even Stephen who was stoned kept his Gentile name.

Anyway, just thought I’d comment. By the way, the above article is a commendable exposition - every sentence laboured over and carefully chosen.

Comment by Brian Forbes on March 17, 2010 at 2:55pm
I'm not a Nazarene, but I have been considering making a move in that direction for a while now. Most of your doctrine seems right. The interpretations on passages about Torah and grace seem appropriate and make me want to conform. At the same time, there are times, like happened in this speech, where it seems like those who have this understanding come across as elitist. They speak of "Christians" in a derogatory and disdainful way. I can handle Christians being wrong. I can understand wanting to be categorically set apart. I can not understand saying that you are set apart without also mentioning just how faithful and fruitful many Christian ministries are. People like Chuck Smith, Alistair Begg, and Bob Dutko are not only devoted to the same Yeshua as we all are, but they're living out the most important commandments: love YHWH, love people. They don't deny that "Jesus" was a Jew or that He followed the traditions of his fathers. They just think they're off the hook because of Acts 15. It's like saying I'm off the hook for women's impurity. I'm not a woman. I hope our Judge does not hold us to as high a standard as this judge seemed to.

I'm open to correction. I know I don't have as much knowledge as most of you seem to, especially Dr. Trimm, whom I respect very much.
Comment by James Trimm on July 2, 2010 at 9:49pm
Will, if you have an argument to make, YOU make it here. DO not send us tpo other websites. You should make your argument by citing SCRIPTURE and Primary historical sources, NOT modern videos.

I have reposted a post made by Will Brinson Ferguson below, edited.

“He also accepted the authority of the Pharisees to interpret the Law. They sat in Moshe’s seat and he told his followers to listen to them (Matt 23:2). Overall, this would point to His acceptance of Jewish tradition, the Oral Law, as it had developed up to that point according to the judgments of the Sanhedrin and judges of Israel. He rejected the view of the Sadducees and the Karaites of a later time, that the Oral Law is not a valuable resource in teaching the community Torah. The leaders of the community placed there by G-d formulated it according to His command, it had G-d’s stamp of authority.”

Before anyone considers to start observing the “ORAL LAW” because they believe that Iaushua the Anointed One (our Master and Savior) taught that we should, you should watch the video at the following web-site:


Iaushua did not teach us that we should follow the Oral Law much less that we would have any need of an earthly priest after his Resurrection. From the time the Temple Curtain was torn the Earthly Priest Hood was null and VOID, and will remain so forever and ever. And the theology that we should do pagan rituals to get along with the majority of the world is not the narrow gate Iaushua taught, much less the Torah's comand.

The Karaites have the right idea as to the Old Testament Torah they just seem not to understand that by the prophecy in Dan_9:25 the Moshiach had to come during the Second Temple Period or Daniel is a false prophet and all of his writings should be held as part of the Inspired Scripture. If you consider the enormous amount of Prophecies that had to be fulfilled concerning the Moshiach the odds that anyone other than Iaushua is 0 next to none. Iaushua is the Moshiach as all Scripture (Old and New, as well as many worldly writings) testify.

Dan_9:25 "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times."

According to this Prophecy in Dan_9:25 either Iaushua is the Moshiach or Daniel is a false prophet or the Inspired Word of Iaue is a lie, and, therefore no one should ever look to the Hebrew Scriptures for a Savoir.

your Brother in Iaushua the Anointed One.
Comment by will brinson: ferguson on July 3, 2010 at 3:16pm

As to you censorship, I will apologize for not having put more scripture into my post, but as for referring people to other web-sites, and even referring to modern video material, you yourself do that (e.g.- ).

I was not trying lead anyone away from your web-site to another web-site, for the web-page I referred to was only a u-tube video not a web-site (just like you referred people to your modern video mentioned above)
[I’ll make no implications here other than actions speak louder than words].

Normally when you post something I do not bother to add a reply because I do not feel as if I could add anything to what you said, much less subtract from it, but this teaching that Iaushua, the Preexistent Moshiach, had taught His followers to observe the ORAL LAW is in my opinion, based on the teachings of Iaushua Himself, A FALSE TEACHING (and proven so within it’s self).

First off all copies of the Book of Debarim (a.k.a.- Deuteronomy) in Chapter 4 verse 2 say the same thing as to whether any one is allowed to add or subtract from the Torah:

(Deu 4:2 ) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]
which I Command you.

Secondly Mosheh never said anything about an ORAL LAW.


Now to the teachings of Iaushua.

Being the Book of Mattithiahu was referred to as to where our Preexistent Moshiach, when in the flesh, taught His followers to observe the so-called ORAL LAW I will limit my rebuttal to this Book alone.

Starting with the very Verses used to make the claim of observing the ORAL LAW.

I will use the Shem Tob Copy (not a Version much less a Translation, but a Copy) of the Book of Mattithiahu to make my next point here, but first I will refer to ancient witnesses as to the fact that such a Transcript in the Hebrew tongue existed and that the Greek transcripts are nothing more than Versions of the Original Hebrew if not Translations coming from the Aramaic Version of the Original Hebrew Script.

THE FIRST IS WRITTEN ACCORDING TO MATTITHIAHU, the same that was once a tax collector, but afterwards an emissary of Iaushua the Moshiach, WHO HAVING PUBLISHED IT FOR THE YEWISH BELIEVERS, WROTE IT IN HEBREW. (Origen circa 210 CE, quoted by Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 6:25)



In the Shem-Tob's Hebrew copy of the Original Hebrew Mattithiahu therein lies:
(A copy of this can be found @
[The above web-site is not to lead anyone away from here, it is intended only to provide a free copy of the Text]

23.3 and ALL THAT HE SAID UNTO YOU, OBSERVE AND DO: BUT DO NOT ACCORDING TO THEIR REGULATIONS AND THEIR WORKS; for they interpret and they bind heavy burdens, and hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders.

Clearly Iaushua is speaking against the so-called ORAL LAW that the Prushim made-up.

In this next verse Iaushua says that the Priest will lead the people that follow them away from the Kingdom of Heaven instead of to It, in direct controversy as to why Iau came to the earth as Iaushua in the first place.


This next verse Iaushua curses the Priest because of their interpretations (i.e.- Their ORAL LAW) as calling them thieves.




SEE ALSO: Iaukanan [John] 8:42-44 (where Iaushua Moshiach was speaking to the Priest) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]


“If Eloahim were your Father, ye would love me: for
I proceeded forth and came from Eloahim;
neither came I of myself, but he sent me.


He was a murderer from the beginning,
and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.
When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own:
for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

In these next verses of Scripture Iaushua Moshiach clearly states everything that the Priest teach is contrary to the Truth of Torah of Eloah.

23.16 woe unto you, ye blind guides, that say, whosoever shall swear by the temple, is not obligated; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.
23.17 ye fools and blind: for which is greater, the gold, or the temple that hath sanctified the gold?
23.18 and, whosoever shall swear by the altar, is not obligated; but whosoever shall swear by the gift that is upon it, he is obligated.
23.19 ye blind: for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
23.20 he therefore that swears by the altar, swears by it, and by all things thereon.
23.21 and he that swears by the temple, swears by it, and by him that dwells therein.
23.22 and he that swears by the heaven, swears by the throne of Eloah, and by him that sits thereon.

In this next verse Iaushua Moshiach says that the Preist themselves further neglect to do the Heart of the Torah

23.23 woe unto you, Prushim an Scribes, hypocrites! For ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and leave what is more important in the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: ye ought to do these, and not to neglect those.

Here again for the 3rd time in the same conversation Iaushua Moshiach states that the Priest are blind and could not therefore be able to share any truth with anyone.

23.24-39 ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel!

See also: (Mattithiahu 15:14) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]
“Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind.
And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”

Now this last statement made by Iaushua tells us to leave the blind Priest to themselves, and not to follow them unless you want to end-up in HELL.

I am not trying to lead anyone away from this site, nor do I intend to leave myself, as I find this site to have a lot of useful stuff leading to the TRUTH of the Scriptures inspired by our Heavenly Father and His Only begotten Son. The only way I will be gone from here is if someone wants to hold themselves puffed-up above others as the Rogue Priest have done through out time as they killed the Prophets of Old and the Moshiach and all of His Apostles. Keep in mind that not all Priest were Rogue before the Crucifixion of Iaushua Moshiach, but all of them have been since His Resurrection on (as He, Iaushua Moshiach, Himself said (at least in the Greek Versions of Mattithiahu) that the Priest Hood has been done away with.)

(Mat 23:8-10) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]
FOR ONE IS YOUR RABBI, EVEN MOSHIACH; and all ye are [ just] brethren.



There are more Scriptures as to the Fact that we have only one Priest, in Heaven, whom can make us right with the Heavenly Father Iaue Eloahim. Dare I quote them here?
I will though say read the Book of Hebrews for an in-depth look into the subject as to the fact that there is only need of One Priest now, because there is only One Priest that is in right standing to our Heavenly Father.

At this point I would like to take time to address these troubled times in which we live.

(2Ti 3:1-17) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]
THIS KNOW ALSO, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of Eloahim; Having a form of piety, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Yannes and Yambres withstood Mosheh, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my teaching, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all Iuae [Eloah] delivered me. Yea, and all that will live piously in Moshiach Iaushua shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Moshiach Iaushua. All Scripture is given by inspiration of Eloahim, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of Eloahim may be perfect, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(Eph 5:11) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

I hope that we will be able to continue sharpening one another here at “Nazarene Space”.

Presumably your brother,
in Iaushua Moshiach, the Only Priest / Rabbi within the Kingdom of Iaue Eloahim.

P.S. – I could ramble on and on about how we are not to have anything to do with people that claim to be a believer, yet if one is not convinced by now, in fear and trembling, I concede them to their own interpretations. And if anyone may be mad at me for having shared this with them I quote the following in return:

(Gal 4:15-16) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]
Where is then the blessedness ye spoke of?
for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible,
ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

(Mattiithiahu 3:2) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]
“… …, Repent ye: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Comment by James Trimm on July 3, 2010 at 6:54pm
>As to your censorship,

No censorship involved, just the normal group rules.

>I will apologize for not having put more scripture into my post,
>but as for referring people to other web-sites, and even referring
>to modern video material, you yourself do that
>(e.g.- ).

There was no appeal to the source as an authority, only a promotion for a DVD produced by this minsitry.

>First off all copies of the Book of Debarim (a.k.a.- Deuteronomy) in
>Chapter 4 verse 2 say the same thing as to whether any one is allowed
>to add or subtract from the Torah:
>(Deu 4:2 ) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]
>which I Command you.

You are guilty here of circular thinking. If the Oral Law is from YHWH then it was not "added" it was already part of the Torah.

Also Deut. 17:11 refers to the rulings of the Elders as "Torah" (KJV translates "sentence"). Since YHWH designates these judgements as "Torah" these have been added by YHWH and not man.

>Secondly Mosheh never said anything about an ORAL LAW.

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)?


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)

>Now to the teachings of Iaushua.
>In the Shem-Tob's Hebrew copy of the Original Hebrew Mattithiahu therein
>TO THEIR REGULATIONS AND THEIR WORKS; for they interpret and they bind
>heavy burdens, and hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders.
>Clearly Iaushua is speaking against the so-called ORAL LAW
>that the Prushim made-up.
>In this next verse Iaushua says that the Priest will lead the people
>that follow them away from the Kingdom of Heaven instead of to It,
>in direct controversy as to why Iau came to the earth as Iaushua
>in the first place.

From my Hebraic Roots Commentary to Matthew:

23:3 And all that he says to you observe and do –
Shem Tob Hebrew
(Ms. Add. No. 26964 British Library, London
& Ms. Opp. Add. 4’ 72 Bodlein Library, Oxford)

(other Shem Tob texts ["all that they say"] in place of ["all that he says"])

DuTillet Hebrew:
"And all that they say to you observe and do"

Although the difference between ["he says]" and ["they say"] is only one letter, it makes a big difference in the meaning of the text. In context it is clear that ”he says” is the correct reading and that DuTillet represents a misreading which has become the basis for the Aramaic and Greek. “He [Moshe] says” is simply an admonition to be Torah observant. However “they say” would be an admonition to observe Pharisaic/Rabbinic halacha even if it is incorrect. This would make no sense since just a few lines down (Mt. 23:18-22) Yeshua objects to a Rabbinic Halacha (as he also does in other passages as well).

>23.13 ¶ WOE UNTO YOU, SCRIBES AND PRUSHIM hypocrites!
>This next verse Iaushua curses the Priest because of their interpretations >(i.e.- Their ORAL LAW) as calling them thieves.

You express a lack of understanding of the atmosphere of 2nd Temple Era Judaism. There is no mention of "Priests" in verse 13, the vats majority of the priests in the first century were Sadducees who rejected Oral Law altogether, to the contrary Yeshua here addresses "scribes and Pharisees" not "Priests".

From my Hebraic Roots Commentary to Matthew:

23:13 But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Which close the Kingdom of Heaven against the sons of men; for you enter not yourselves, neither do you allow them that are eager to enter.

This passage is key to understanding Yeshua's attitude to the Halachic authority of the Pharisees.

A parallel passage appears in Lk. 11:52:

Woe to you scribes
because you have taken away the keys of knowledge.
you have not entered,
you have hindered those who were entering.

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 comments to Mt. 11:12) and refusing to use the key to help Messiah open up the Messianic Kingdom.

>WITH LONG INTERPRETATION; for this ye shall suffer a long punishment.
>Here Iaushua Moshiach clearly states the

Again the "Priests" were mostly Sadducees and rejected Oral Law and are not even mentioned here.

>23.15 WOE unto you, Prushim and Scribes, hypocrites!
>SEE ALSO: Iaukanan [John] 8:42-44 (where Iaushua Moshiach was
>speaking to the Priest) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]

Ummm... once again Mat. 23:15 addresses PHARISEES and not "Priests" who were generally Sadducees.

>23.16 woe unto you, ye blind guides, that say, whosoever shall swear
>by the temple, is not obligated; but whosoever shall swear by the gold
>of the temple, he is obligated.
>23.17 ye fools and blind: for which is greater, the gold, or the temple
>that hath sanctified the gold?
>23.18 and, whosoever shall swear by the altar, is not obligated;
>but whosoever shall swear by the gift that is upon it, he is obligated.
>23.19 ye blind: for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that
>sanctifies the gift?
>23.20 he therefore that swears by the altar, swears by it, and by all
>things thereon.
>23.21 and he that swears by the temple, swears by it, and by him that
>dwells therein.
>23.22 and he that swears by the heaven, swears by the throne of Eloah,
>and by him that sits thereon.

From my Hebraic Roots Commentary to Matthew:

23:16-22 whoever swears by the Temple is not obligated, but he who swears by the gold of the Temple, is obligated…. whoever swears by the Alter is not obligated, but he who swears by the gift that is on it, is obligated….

is not obligated – Hebrew (Shem Tob) translated into the Aramaic (Old Syriac) as ”is not hurt” but misread by the Greek translator as ”[is] no thing” (Peshitta has “is nothing”)

is obligated – Hebrew (DuTillet & Shem Tob) Translated into Aramaic (Peshitta) as but misread by the scribe of the Old Syriac as ”a sin”.

This information helps us to better understand the halachic discussion. This discussion centers around whether a person is or is not obligated (Hebrew: Aramaic:
by certain vows.

Here Yeshua takes issue with a Pharisaic halachah regarding oaths and vows.

First we must understand the Pharisaic position which Yeshua is contending against. There are two tractates in the Mishnah and Talmud which deal with oaths and vows. They are: Nedarim (vows) and Shabuot (oaths). Yeshua here refers to a line of reasoning found throughout tractate Nedarim. This train of thought goes like this:

There are two kinds of prohibitions in Jewish Law:

1. Prohibition because of something being forbidden outright (such as pork).

2. Prohibitions by a designation of purpose. (such as an offered animal)

Tractate Nedarim discusses which vows are binding and which are not.

The idea is that one can make a vow and say "this item is Kodesh" (i.e. it is property of the Temple and Priesthood) and that is a vow. One could also make a vow of analogy so as to say today "this bread is kodesh" and then one could come along and say "this turkey is to me as this bread" which would also designate the turkey as kodesh by way of analogy. (m.Nedarim 1:1-4) Now if one were to say "this turkey is to me as this pig" it would not be binding because the pig was not forbidden through a vow. Since the analogy is flawed the vow is non-binding. (m.Nedarim 2:1) Moreover if one were to say "this turkey is to me like Jerusalem" the vow would not be binding because Jerusalem was designated as holy by YHWH and not by any vow of man. (m.Nedarim 1:3).

This is the halachah which Yeshua refers to in Mt. 23:18-22.

By this halachah if one were to say "this turkey is to me as the gift that is upon the alter" he would be bound by the vow. But one who would say "this turkey is to me as the alter" is not bound because the alter is made holy by YHWH and not by a vow. By the same token if one were to say "this money shall be to me as the gold of the Temple" it would be binding, but if one were to said "this money shall be to me as the Temple" it would not be binding, again because there would be no analogy.

This halacha left it open for a dishonest Pharisee to take advantage of a person who was ignorant of this halachah. He could say "I swear to you, if it is not so may all my estate be to me as the Alter" he could later back out of his oath because the phrasing of the vow was allegedly not valid.

Yeshua argues against this halachah. He clearly has Exodus 29:37-38 in mind and using the first rule of Hillel he makes a kol v'khomer argument that an analogy does exist so long as the object of the vow was kodesh and not just forbidden by Torah. Thus a vow likening something to the Temple, the Alter or Jerusalem would be binding but a vow likening it to pork would not. This is because the Temple and the Alter (and Jerusalem) are kodesh even though they were not made kodesh by a vow.

Yeshua's reasoning is that if (as indicated by Exodus 29:37-38) the alter makes the offering on it Kodesh then the analogy exists for it to make the object of the vow kodesh. This is ampliphied by the kol v'chomer (light and heavy) reasoning alluded to in Mt. 23:23 known as the first Rule of Hillel. Therefore if the offering on the alter can make the object of a vow kodesh, how much more can the alter itself.

>In this next verse Iaushua Moshiach says that the Preist themselves
>further neglect to do the Heart of the Torah
>23.23 woe unto you, Prushim an Scribes, hypocrites!
>For ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and leave what is more important
>in the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: ye ought to do these,
>and not to neglect those.
>Here again for the 3rd time in the same conversation Iaushua Moshiach
>states that the Priest are blind and could not therefore be able to share
>any truth with anyone.

Again Yeshua is addressing Scribes and Pharisees and not "Priests" who at this time were generally from the very different Sadducean sect.

From my Hebraic Roots Commentary to Matthew:

23:23 Hypocrites – See comments to 6:2-15 weightier matters… judgement, loving-kindness and trust. The Hebrew word for weightiest is KHOMERIM the plural of KHOMER (heavy, strict) Khomer was a technical halachic term which Hillel used in the First Rule of Hillel.

The first rule of Hillel is KOL V'KHOMER (hight and heavy). This concept in Judaism recognizes for example that some mitzvot (commandments) hold greater weight than others. This is important because at times two commandments conflict and we must determine which one has priority. For example: Should circumcisions be performed on the Sabbath? Should work be done on the Sabbath is a life is at stake? Should a Passover Lamb be roasted on Sabbath? Etc.

Yeshua lists three items under the catagory of KHOMERIM (heavy things):

MISHPAT (judgement)

KHESED (loving-kindness; mercy; grace)

EMUNAH (trusting faithfulness)

Lets examine each of these:

MISHPAT: The mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah are catagorized under three catagogories: MISHPATIM (judgements) Strongs 4941; EDYOT (testimonies) Strongs 5715 and KHOKIM (statutes; decrees) Strongs 2706.

The MISHPATIM are the moral and ethical commandments. These deal with what is fundamentally right and wrong.

The EDYOT are commandments that give testimony to YHWH. These include the Shabbat, the festivals the teffilin, the Mezuzah etc.

The KHOKIM are commandments with no apparant rational. For example the commandment not to mix wool and linen.

Yeshua's statement indicates that the MISHPATIM are KHOKIM (heavy things) and have priority over the EDYOT and KHOKIM.

The next class of KHOMERIM (heavy things) Yeshua gives is KHESED.

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 KHESED ("grace"/"mercy"). (see comments to Mt. 22)

The last item of KHOMERIM (heavy things) Yeshua says are in the Torah is EMUNAH.

This is expouned upon by Paul in the first six chapters of Romans. Here Paul uses the sixth rule of Hillel "Kayotze bo mimekom akhar" (analogy made from another passage).
This rule teaches that two passages may seem to conflict until a third resolves the

Paul shows that the following Tanak passages SEEM to conflict:

The just shall live by faith [EMUNAH]
(Rom. 1:17 = Hab. 2:4)


There is none righteous, no, not one...
(Rom. 3:10 = Ps. 14:1-3= Ps. 53:1-3; Eccl. 7:20)


[Elohim] will render to each one according to his deeds.
(Rom. 2:6 = Ps. 62:12; Prov. 24:12)


Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man whom YHWH shall not impute sin.
(Rom. 4:7-8 = Ps. 32:1-2)

Paul resolves the apparant conflict by citing Gen. 15:6 (in Rom. 4:3, 22):

Abraham believed [EMUNAH] ELOHIM,
and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

Thus Paul resloves the apparant conflict by showing that under certain circumstances, EMUNAH belief/faith/trust (same word in Hebrew) can act as a substitute for righteousness/being just (same word in Hebrew).

Thus we can see that MISHPAT, KHESED and EMUNAH are the KHOMER (heavy things) in the Torah.

We may also apply the fifth rule of Hillel to this passage. This rule tells us that when a general catagory is given followed by specific example, only the matters falling within the specific examples are covered by the general catagory. In this case Yeshua gives the general category KHOMERIM and follows it by three more specific catagories MISHPAT, KHESED and EMUNAH. Thus only matters that fall within those three catagories are included in the catagory of KHOMERIM.

There are also many aplications of Hillel's first rule since this passage helps us to assign halachic weight to the MISHPATIM, matters concerning KHESED and matters of EMUNAH.

Finally there is an important understanding of this text on a SOD level.

Yeshua's statement points us to the three pillars of the godhead. The middle row of the Tree of Life consists of GEVURA-TIFRET-KHESED. The sefira GEVURAH is alternately called DIN (judgement) which can be a synanymn for MISHPAT and in fact the Aramaic text of Mt. 23:23 has Aramaic DINA for Hebrew MISHPAT. So GEVURAH closely corresponds with MISHPAT. KHESED is the contrasting SEFIRA on the other side of the tree. EMUNAH coresponds well with TIFRET on the Tree of Life. Thus Yeshua also indicates the importance of being well balenced and conformed to the image of YHWH by typifying the three pillars of the tree as being KHOMERIM. remember a similar picture occurs in the Zohar, 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 KHESED ("grace"/"mercy").

>23.24-39 ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel!
>See also: (Mattithiahu 15:14) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]
>“Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind.
>And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
>Now this last statement made by Iaushua tells us to leave the blind Priest
>to themselves, and not to follow them unless you want to end-up in HELL.

From my Hebraic Roots Commentary to Matthew:

23:27 Hypocrites – whitened sepulchers - The Qumran community (almost certainly Essenes) refered to the “builders of the wall” (Pharisees) as “the daubers with plaster” (see Ezek. 13:10) (Damascus Document 8, 12) Ezekiel 13:10-11 refers to those who build up a wall and white-wash it by daubing it with plaster.

The connection with Matt. 23:27, 33 is clear, for the Damascus Document also, within close proximity, calls the “wall builders” a “brood of vipers” (see comments to Matt. 3:7)

23:29 Hypocrites – See comments to 6:2-15

23:33 Serpents, and generation of vipers - See comments to
Matt. 3:7

23:35 …upon you may come all the righteous blood which has been shed upon the earth, from Hevel the righteous, to Z’kharyah Ben Berekhyah, whom you slew between the Temple and the alter. – There are a number of important factors that shed light on the meaning of this passage. Yeshua here relies heavily on the Oral Law in this passage in that he ties together two separate Oral Law traditions to make his point. The first is an Oral Law tradition concerning the murder of Havel (Able) that understands the plural word “bloods” crying out from the ground in Gen. 4:10 to signify that whoever kills one person is guilty of killing everyone:

…it is said , “The bloods of your brother cry” (Gen. 4:10)
It does not say, “The blood of your brother,” but.
“The bloods of your brother”—his blood and the blood
of all those who were destined to be born from him.
Another matter—the bloods of your brother—
for his blood was splattered on trees and stones….
whoever destroys a single Israelite soul
is deemed by Scripture as if he had destroyed the whole world
and whoever saves a single Israelite soul
by Scripture as if he had saved the whole world…
(m.San. 4:5)

The second Oral Law tradition is one surrounding Zechariah ben Jehoidai (2Chron. 24:20-21). The extant text of Matt. 23:35 reads “Zechariah ben Berechiah”. This, however, seems to be a scribal error. A scribe seems to have confused “Zechariah ben Jehoidai”(2Chron. 24:20-21) with “Zechariah ben Berechiah” (Zech. 1:1). The original Hebrew text used by the ancient Nazarenes read correctly with “Zechariah ben Jehoidai”. The fourth century “Church Father” Jerome writes:

In the Gospel which the Nazarenes use,
instead of “son of Barachias”
we have found written “son of Joiada.”
(Jerome; Commentary on Matthew 23:35)

Yeshua draws on a tradition surrounding Zechariah ben Jehoidai which is recorded in the Talmud. This tradition parallels the tradition concerning Abel above. In this tradition Zechariah’s blood also cries out for vengence but ceases its cry lest all Israel be destroyed. The Babylonian Talmud records the story this way:

Nebuzaradan, [After that] he saw the blood of Zechariah
seething. ‘What is this?’ cried he. ‘It is the blood of sacrifices,
which has been spilled,’ they answered. ‘Then,’ said he,
‘bring [some animal blood] and I will compare them, to see
whether they are alike.’ So he slaughtered animals and
compared them, but they were dissimilar. ‘Disclose [the secret]
to me, or if not, I will tear your flesh with iron combs,’ he
threatened. They replied: ‘This is [the blood of] a priest and a
prophet, who foretold the destruction of Jerusalem to the
Israelites, and they killed him.’ ‘I,’ said he, ‘will appease him.’
So he brought the scholars and slew them over him,
yet it did not cease [to boil]. He brought schoolchildren
and slew them over him, still it did not rest; he brought the
young priests and slew them over him, and still it did not rest,
until he had slain ninety four thousand, and still it did not rest.
Whereupon he approached him and cried out, ‘Zechariah,
Zechariah, I have destroyed the flower of them: dost thou
desire me to massacre them all?’ Straightway it rested.
Thoughts of repentance came into his mind: if they, who killed
one person only, have been so [severely punished], what will
be my fate? So he fled, sent his testament to his house, and
became a proselyte.
(b.San 96b)

While the Jerusalem Talmud has:

Rabbi Jochanan said, Eighty thousand priests were slain
for the blood of Zachariah.
Rabbi Judas asked Rabbi Achan, Where did they kill
Zachariah? Was it in the woman’s court, or in the court of
Israel? He answered: Neither in the court of Israel, nor in the
court of women, but in the court of the priests; and they did not
treat his blood in the same manner as they were wont to treat
the blood of a ram or a young goat. For of these it is written,
He shall pour out his blood, and cover it with dust. But it is
written here, The blood is in the midst of her: she set it upon
the top of the rock; she poured it not upon the ground. (Ezek.
xxiv. 7.) But why was this? That it might cause
fury to come up to take vengeance: I have set his blood upon
the top of a rock, that it should not be covered. They
committed seven evils that day: they murdered a priest, a
prophet, and a king; they shed the blood of the innocent: they
polluted the court: that day was the Sabbath : and the day of
expiation. When therefore Nebuzaradan came there (viz.
Jerusalem), he saw his blood bubbling, and said to them,
What meaneth this? They answered, It is the blood of calves,
lambs, and rams, which we have offered upon the altar. He
commanded them, that they should bring calves, and lambs,
and rams, and said I will try whether this be their blood:
accordingly they brought and slew them, but the blood of
(Zachariah) still bubbled, but the blood of these
did not bubble. Then he said, Declare to me the truth of the
matter, or else I will comb your flesh with iron combs. Then
said they to him, He was a priest, prophet, and judge, who
prophesied to Israel all these calamities which we have
suffered from you; but we arose against him, and slew him.
Then, said he, I will appease him: then he took the rabbis
and slew them upon his (viz. Zachariah’s) blood, and he was
not yet appeased. Next he took the young boys from the
schools, and slew them upon his blood, and yet it bubbled.
Then he brought the young priests and slew them in the same
place, and yet it still bubbled. So he slew at length ninety-four
thousand persons upon his blood, and it did not as yet cease
bubbling. Then he drew near to it and said,
O Zachariah, Zachariah, thou hast occasioned the death of the
chief of thy countrymen; shall I slay them all? Then the blood
ceased, and did bubble no more.
(j.Ta’anit 69)

between the Temple and the alter – Here Yeshua specifies the location of Zechariah’s murder more specifically that the written Tanak does. The Tanak says only that the murder occurred “in the court of the House of YHWH”. However the oral tradition recorded in the Talmud is more specific:

Rabbi Judas asked Rabbi Achan, Where did they kill
Zachariah? Was it in the woman’s court, or in the court of
Israel? He answered: Neither in the court of Israel,
nor in the court of women, but in the court of the priests
(j.Ta’anit 69)

While the Tanak places the murder simply “in the court of the House of YHWH”, Yeshua places it more specificly in the Court of Priests located “between the Temple and the alter” just as the Talmud proclaims it. Yeshua’s source here is Oral tradition and not the written Tanak.

Not only are these two murders connected by the tradition that their blood cried out for vengence but there is another important connection as well. The murder of Abel takes place near the beginning of the first book of the Tanak and the murder of Zechariah takes place near the end of the last book of the Tanak (according to the Original, Jewish order of the books). This confirms that the traditional Jewish order of the books is correct, that it existed in Yeshua’s day (which and that Yeshua himself recognized it as accurate. This also adds to the meaning of the passage by indicating every murder from the first murder in the Tanak to the last murder in the Tanak.

From my Hebraic Roots Commentary to Matthew:

3:7 generation of vipers - Why did Yochanan call the Pharisees and Sadducees that came to be immersed by him "generation of vipers"?

In fact Yochanan is employing common Essene terminology for the Pharisees (whom the Essenes called “Wall Builders” ). The Damascus Document states of the “Wall Builders”:

Also they have corrupted their Holy Spirit, and with blasphemous language they have reviled the statutes of God’s
covenant, saying, “They are not well-founded.” They
continually speak anhorrent things against them. “All of them
are kindlers and lighters of brands” (Isa. 50:11); “the webs of a
spider are their webs and the eggs of a viper are their eggs”
(Isa. 59:5) Whoever touches them shall not be clean.
(Dam. Doc. 5, 13-14)

…about whom God said: “Their wine is the venom of vipers,
and the cruel poison of asps” (Deut. 32:33)
(Dam. Doc. 8, 9-10)

To understand the answer to this we must understand a few things about Yochanan. To begin with it appears that Yochanan was raised at the Qumran community as an Essene. (see comments to Mt. 3:1) Now it is important to know that as a member of the Qumran community Yochanan had been taught his entire life to bear unremitting hatred toward non-Essenes (Pharisees and Sadducees)


It is important that these terms "vipers" and "whitened walls" were common terms used by Essenes to criticise Pharsiees and even Sadducees (who were the only Oral Law rejectors of the time), not for holding to the Oral Law, but for not having an Oral Law that was stricte enough.

>(Mat 23:8-10) [Restored Name – Israeli Authorized Version]
>and all ye are [ just] brethren.

From my Hebraic Roots Commentary to Matthew:

23:5-12 you shall not be called ‘rabbi’ – Some have taken this text as a prohibition against the use of the title “Rabbi”. However there are a number of problems with that interpretation. To begin with the same passage also says the same thing about the terms “father” and “teacher”. It must be remembered that neither the terms “father” nor “Rabbi” were clergical titles in the first century. The first Jewih teacher to actually use the term “Rabbi” as a clergical title was Rabbi Judah (around 250 C.E.) who is for that reason sometimes simply called “Rabbi”. Whenever one reads “Rabbi” without a name in the Talmud it is taken to refer to Rabbi Judah. Catholics did not make the term “Father” into a clergical title for their clergy until much later. The common, but over simplistic interpretation of Mt. 23:7-10 to forbid calling a Rabbi “rabbi” would also prevent my children from calling me “father”, which is clearly a wrong interpretation. The Greek version of John 1:38 interprets “Rabbi” as meaning “teacher” (see Jn. 1:38 RSV version) and Paul tells us that “He [YHWH] gave … some [to be] teachers, for the perfecting of the set-apart-ones…” (Eph. 4:11-12) so it stands to reason that such a person could legitimately be called “rabbi” (because he is really a “teacher”) just as my children legitimately call me “father” (because I am really a “father”). So what does Yeshua really mean? If these three terms were not clergical titles in the first century, what did they have in common and what does Yeshua mean?

Here we must apply the fifth and seventh rules of Ishmael.

Here we have a list of specific examples (23:5-11) followed by a generalization (23:12). The fifth rule of Ishmael tells us that when specific instances are stated first and followed by a generalization, instances other than those in the specific examples, but which fall within the generalization are also intended. Thus the list of examples in 23:5-11 are only understood as being examples of self exaltation as stated in 23:12.

This brings us to the seventh rule of Ishmael, which tells us “The general requires the particular and the particular the general”. That is to say that specification is provided, by taking the general and particular together, each requiring the other. In other words each of the specific instances cited in 23:5-11 must be understood in light of the generalization given in 23:12. Any application of the specific examples in 23:5-11 which is not an example of the generalization in 23:12 is not a valid understanding of what the text is saying. In this case the specific instances of 23:5-11 are intended only in context of being examples of self exaltation. Any application of these specific examples which is not a case of self exaltation is not a valid application. Thus any use of the term “Rabbi” as a apelation of an actual teacher (as in Eph. 4:11-12) is not a case of self exaltation and is not being prohibited in this text.

In fact the terms “Father” and “Rabbon” (closely related to “Rabbi”) were both used in the first century as euphemisms for YHWH (certain Targums substitute “Rabbon” for “YHWH”). Yeshua is saying that men should not be exalted to God-like status.
Comment by James Trimm on July 3, 2010 at 6:58pm
Also for more on the Oral Law issue, see the following:

The Oral Law and Nazarenes

Foundations of Pharisaic Judaism:

Paul Argues Talmud before the Sanhedrin

In Defense of Talmudic Law by Andew P. Pilant
Comment by will brinson: ferguson on July 5, 2010 at 7:16am
Hey James,

[All Scriptures Quoted here are from the Restored Name NIV, unless other wise noted.]

First off, there are three manuscripts that survive to this day that are considered to be copies of Shem Tob’s Mattithiau by different copyist. One exhibits the word “he” instead of “they” when referring as to whom we should obey in verse 3 of chapter 23, while the others have “they” instead of “he”. The only difference between the word being translated here is the vowels attributed to the consonants, and this is a matter of interpretation of the particular copyist. The later two copyist have been considered, by most whom do a thorough study, to have been influenced by the later 3rd century versions of the Greek Manuscripts (though to be fair this is still a matter of opinion and is debated by some to this very day, and will probably be debated throughout this age by many). I would have to say hear that the heart of this matter will come down to which would you be willing to trust, the Words that Iaue (ee ah-oo-AY) Eloahim spoke from heaven to Mosheh before the witness of all Yisrael or the words that men make-up summarily as they go, changing from one to the next as many of the Priest had conflicting opinions. These opinions of the Priest not only varied from the Priest that ruled together but in succession as well. And to this day is still ever-changing from one to another.

Now I noticed that you did not address the fact that there is no need for Priest since the Resurrection of the Moshiach Iaushua (ee ah-oo-SHOO-ah) Who’s Priest Hood runs in affect not only to this day, but “His Rein Is Eternal” meaning everlasting from age upon age. So I ask again, how do you propose to get around this fact explicitly set-forth though-out the Book of Hebrews as well as in the rest of the New Testament? Throughout the New Testament Scriptures there is only One Priest that can lead us to salvation, only One Priest Who can make us right with the Heavenly Father, only One Priest Who can intercede for us in heaven for the forgiveness of our sin, and that Priest is Iaushua Moshiach, no one else. Following the spirit of men is not the narrow gate that enters into heaven, following the Spirit of Iaushua Moshiach is the narrow gate that leads into heaven. If man says to do something that conflicts with what the Spirit of Eloahim says you should do you would have to quench the Set-Apart Spirit in order to follow the spirit of Anti-Christ’s that lies within those who oppose Moshiach’s Spiritual ability to guide each individual on a one on one basis. Trying to exalt themselves over their brethren, acting as if they themselves have some sort of special relationship with the Eloahim that the average Jo could not obtain without their [the self made priests] approval.

Thirdly you said that Iaushua Moshiach when referring to the Pharisees was not talking about Priest in general as there is such a group of Priest called Sadducees, and by inference that He must had thought more highly of the Sadducees because he was not rebuking them in Mattithiau Chapter 23. You also said that when Iaukanan [John] the Immerser [Baptist] talk about the Pharisees and Sadducees as a brood of vipers it was because of the teaching that he had received as a Priest. So (if the Greek text is to have authority) when Iaushua Moshiach called the Pharisees “You snakes! You brood of vipers!” in Mattithiau 23:33, by the same reasoning He must have been taught the same teacher, but not from the school of Essenes as He was considered untaught except by the Heavenly Father along, as perhaps could had been Iaukanan the Immerser as he was filed with the Set-Apart Spirit before birth.

(Markus 6:2)
When the Sabbath came, He [Iaushua Moshiach] began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked.

(Iaukanan [John] 7:15) The Yews were amazed and asked,
"How did this man get such learning without having studied?"

Now by His Father’s teaching the Moshiach Iaushua made the following statement (if the Greek text is to have authority) to the group of people that He had earlier referred to as a “brood of vipers”.

(Mattithiau 23:33)
“How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

Here Iaushua thinks like Iaukanan that the brood of vipers are on their way to hell.

Next (if the Greek text is to have authority) we will see that Iaushua Moshiach did not think to highly of the Sadducees either, as he condemned them along with the Pharisees calling them wicked and adulterous.

(Mattithiau 16:1-4)
THE PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES came to Iaushua and tested him by ASKING HIM TO SHOW THEM A SIGN FROM HEAVEN. He replied, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A WICKED AND ADULTEROUS GENERATION LOOKS FOR A MIRACULOUS SIGN, but none will be given it except the sign of Iaunah [Jonah]." Iaushua then left them and went away.

And then He taught His Followers not to trust them because of their ORAL INTERPRETATIONS of the Written Torah.

e.g. - (Mattithiau 16:6)

(Mattithiau 16:12)

(Lukanus 12:1)
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, IAUSHUA BEGAN TO SPEAK FIRST TO HIS DISCIPLES, SAYING: "BE ON YOUR GUARD AGAINST THE YEAST OF THE PHARISEES, WHICH IS HYPOCRISY.

Know this preceding verse (Lukanus 12:1) says that the YEAST is HYPOCRISY, SO WE SHOULD HERE CONSIDER THE MEANING OF SUCH A WORD.

HYPOCRISY: [Encarta Dictionary: English (North America)]
the false claim to or pretence of having admirable principles, beliefs or feelings.
An act or instance of hypocrisy.

So the Priest’s yeast (i.e.- their interpretation of the Written Law; e.g. their Oral Law) is full of hypocrisy, such as with the case of the Sadducees well know rebuke of the Written Torah according to the following Scripture verse.

(Act 23:8)
(The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither messengers nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)

Now if the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection or heavenly messengers nor spirits you know that Iaushua did not believe in them, because He was the Messenger of Iaue [Angel of the LORD], and Iaushua Moshiach preached that after three days that He would be resurrected from the dead, plus He was very specific about how the Father was Spirit and sought people to worship Him in spirit and truth, therefore Iaushua was not referring to the Sadducees as righteous when He left them out of the conversation that He was having at the time with the Scribes and Pharisees. No Iaushua Moshiach did not think anything good of the Pharisees and probably even less of the Sadducees by default of their own disregard to the Written Torah and the Writings of the Prophets. As the Moshiach, the righteous in Him, as well as the wicked without Him would all be resurrected is an intrical part of the Torah as well as the many mentions of messengers [angels], and if you go to Genesis chapter 1 verse 2 and read through Maliki in chapter 2 verses 15 and 16 you will find that the Spirit was in the Written Torah as from the Beginning to the End. I tell you the truth Iaushua though no better of what the Sadducees taught as He did the Pharisees, as can be easily seen in the next set of verses.

(Mat 15:1-9)
Then some PHARISEES AND TEACHERS OF THE LAW CAME TO IAUSHUA from Yerushalayim AND ASKED, WHY DO YOUR DISCIPLES BREAK THE TRADITION OF THE ELDERS? They don't wash their hands before they eat! IAUSHUA REPLIED, "AND WHY DO YOU BREAK THE COMMAND OF ELOAH FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR TRADITION? For Eloah said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to Eloah,' he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of Eloah for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. THEY WORSHIP ME IN VAIN; THEIR TEACHINGS ARE BUT RULES TAUGHT BY MEN.' "

This set of Scripture verses clearly states that when men start to try and add to the Written Torah they end-up going against it. And these next set of Scripture verses are the teachings of Iaushua Moshiach’s disciples which clearly state that they will be guide by the Set-Apart Spirit rather than that of the anti-Christ (read between the lines, the anti-Christ who is hasatan is pitted against the truths of Iaue in His Torah).

(Act 4:19)
But Kafah and Iaukanan replied,
"Judge for yourselves whether it is right in Eloah's sight to obey you rather than Eloah.
(Act 5:29)

Now as for the Scribes and Pharisees shutting-up the Kingdom of Heaven, the Name of Iaue is the key element in my opinion. As the Priest prohibited the use of the Name יהוה.

During the Babylonian captivity the Hebrew language spoken by the Yews was replaced by the Aramaic language of their Babylonian captors. Aramaic was closely related to Hebrew and, while sharing many vocabulary words in common, contained some words that sounded the same or similar but had other meanings. In Aramaic, the Hebrew word for “blaspheme” ( as used in Leviticus 24:16, “Anyone who blasphemes the Name of Iaue must be put to death”) carried the meaning of “pronounce” rather than that of “blaspheme”. When the Yews began speaking Aramaic, this verse became misunderstood
to mean, “Anyone who pronounces the Name of Iaue must be put to death.”

The prohibition of blasphemy, for which capital punishment is prescribed, refers only to the Name proper—יהוה (Soferim 4, end; comp. Sanh. 66a).

At least as early as the third century B.C. the Name seems to have been regarded by the Yews as a "nomen ineffabile," on the basis of a somewhat extreme interpretation of Exodus 20:7 and Leviticus 24:11 (see Philo, "De Vita Mosis," 3: 519, 529).

Various motives may have concurred to bring about the suppression of the Name:
1) The fear that the Holy Name would be profaned among the heathen.
2) Desire to prevent abuse of the Name in magic. Yet if so, the secrecy had the opposite
effect; the Name of the Eloahim of the Yews was one of the great names, in magic
{heathen as well as Yewish}, miraculous efficacy was attributed to It‘s mere utterance.
3) Avoiding risk of the Name being used as an angry expletive, as reported in Leviticus
24:11 of the Bible.

Several centuries before the Christian era the Name of their Eloahim (Iaue) had ceased to be commonly used by the Yews. Some of the later writers in the Old Testament employ the appellative Eloahim prevailingly or exclusively.

Since then, observant Yews have maintained the custom of not pronouncing the Name, but use Adonai (“my LORD [plural of majesty]”) instead. During the first few centuries AD, this is thought to have resulted in loss of how to pronounce the Name of Eloahim (except among the Samaritans).

Josephus, who as a priest knew the pronunciation of the name, declares that religion
forbids him to divulge it.

After the death of the high priest Simeon the Righteous, forty years prior to the destruction of the Temple, the priests ceased to pronounce the Name (Yoma39b). From that time on the pronunciation of the Name was prohibited.

The vehemence with which the utterance of the Name is denounced in the Mishna:
He who pronounces the Name with its own letters has no part in the world to come!

Philo calls it ineffable, and says that it is lawful for those only whose ears and tongues are purified by wisdom to hear and utter it in a holy place (that is, for priests in the Temple). In another passage, commenting on Leviticus 24:15 seq.: "If any one, I do not say should blaspheme against the Sovereign of men and Eloahim, but should even dare to utter His Name unseasonably, let him expect the penalty of death."

Yet the Biblical texts not only suggest the people, including the patriarchs, of the Bible used the Name of יהוה, but that we should still use the Name especially when taking oaths. There is a Plethora of scriptures supporting this notion.

Which brings us back to the oaths spoken of within Mattithiahu chapter 23 were Iaushua Moshiach was talking about making fasle vows period and had nothing to do with the vein guidelines of these rogue priest laid out in their writings. Again I say though you presented a nice analogy of whether or not a vow was binding or not Iaushua was for the most part saying a vow is a vow and even if it is a false one you are held accountable to what you say in one way or another.

And speaking of analogies, when Iaushua spoke in Mat 23:8-10 it seems clear that it does not take much explaining to settle what He had said, especially in the light of verses 11 through 12.

[This set of Scripture verses are from THE ORTHODOX JEWISH BRIT CHADASHA]
(Mattithiau 23:8-10) BUT YOU ARE NOT TO HAVE PRETENTIOUS TITLES LIKE REBBE, for One is your Rebbe [Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach], and all of you are Achim b'Moshiach [brothers in the Anointed One]. And do not refer to anyone in the Olam Hazeh [this world] as your Abba, for One is your Av shbaShomayim. NEITHER BE CALLED MOREINU, for One is your Moreh (TEACHER) the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach [Moreinu].

(Mattithiau 23:11-12)
11 And the greatest among you will be your eved mesharet (servant, minister).
12 BUT WHOEVER WILL LIFT UP HIMSELF WILL BE HUMBLED, and whoever will humble himself will be lifted up. [This set of Scripture verses are from THE ORTHODOX JEWISH BRIT CHADASHA]

Clearly Iaushua Moshiach says not to call yourself by PRETENTIOUS TITLES or even let others call you by such PRETENTIOUS TITLES much less call any one else such PRETENTIOUS TITLES.



P.S.- (Colossians 2: 8)
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather than the Moshiach.
Comment by James Trimm on July 5, 2010 at 8:47pm
1. There is no such thing as the Restored Name NIV. The Copyright owners of the NIV ( ) are well known for strictly enforcing their copyright, and have never authorized a "Restored Name Version". If I am mistaken, please fill me in on the details.

2. There are several mss. of Shem Tob, here are just nine of them.

Ms. Add. no. 26964. British Library, London.
Ms. Heb. 28. Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit, Leiden.
Ms. Mich. 119. Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Ms. Opp. Add. 4º 72. Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Ms. 2426 (Marx 16). Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York.
Ms. 2279 (Marx 18). Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York.
Ms. 2209 (Marx 19). Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York.
Ms. 2234 (Marx 15). Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York.
Ms. Mich. 137. Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Of these nine copies, two have the reading "they say" rather than "he says"

Ms. Add. no. 26964. British Library, London.
Ms. Opp. Add. 4º 72. Bodleian Library, Oxford.

This is not just a matter of unwritten vowels, there is a letter VAV on the end of the word in the above two manuscripts which is not found in the majority of Shem Tob mss. It is also not found in the DuTillet and Munster Hebrew mss. of Matthew.

All of this is in the footnotes to Mt. 23:2 in the Hebraic Roots Version.

3. There were three primary sects of Judaism in the first century: Sadducees; Pharisees and Essenes.

4. The Sadducees differed from the others in rejecting the doctrines of afterlife and resurrection and in rejecting the Oral Law.

5. The vast majority of Priests in the first century were Sadducees.

6. The Pharisees accepted the Oral Law and are the ancestors of modern Rabbinic Judaism.

7. The Essenes split from the Pharisees because they thought the Pharisaic understanding of the Oral Law was not strict enough, they held to an even stricter version of the oral Law.

8. The Priests of the first century (being almost all Sadducees) rejected the Oral Law.

9. When Yeshua criticized "Pharisees" in the first century he was not criticizing "Priests" who were generally Sadducees.

10. When Yeshua criticized "Pharisees" for "hypocrisy" he was not attacking the concept of Oral Law, in fact the Talmud itself criticized the Pharisees for "hypocrisy".

11. When the NT uses the terms "brood of vipers" and "whitened walls" it is using terminology used by Essenes in much earlier Dead Sea Scroll documents to criticize Pharisees and Sadducees for having customs that were not strict enough. Pharisees in having an Oral Law that was not strict enough, and Sadducees for rejecting it altogether.

12. Yeshua would not have criticized "Priests" for believing in the Oral Law, because the majority of Priests, being Sadducees, rejected it.

13. I do not support supressing the Sacred Name, in fact the International Nazarene Beit Din ruled on this matter in favor of Sacred Name usage.


You need to be a member of Nazarene Space to add comments!

Join Nazarene Space












© 2019   Created by James Trimm.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service