- Religion and Philosophy
Karaite Comments: To My Brother Yeshua (Jesus) Part 2
As I mentioned in Part 1, I believe emphatically that without the misguided interpretations of the Rabbis as they fought over every word in the Torah in order to create their Talmud in order to justify their own existence, there would have been no Christianity. They were directly responsible for it doctrines, teachings and of course Yeshua. Making such a statement obviously requires a structural support built on facts and documents in order to withstand skeptical scrutiny. And that is what Part 2 of this dissertation will do; it will provide the facts, the sources, the Rabbis' own words that resulted in what we call today, Christianity. Had these self-proclaimed wisemen not engaged in their fruitless labours of deciphering God's own words and teachings in order to suit their own passions and desires, we would not have seen the splintering of Judaism into daughter religions. We would not have seen the advent and rise of Christianity and Islam. We would not have endured two thousand years of persecution by those that proclaimed themselves as the inheritors of God's blessings and therefore dedicated to the extermination of those that went by the title of 'chosen' previously. Yes, the world would have been a much different place had these Rabbis interpreted the Torah more literally and less metaphorically; had they understood the value and logic of Zadokite and Boethian thinking. Had they just accepted the fact that most often when the prophets spoke of suffering, they were referring to their own lives which had borne and endured the whips and scourges of mankind for attempting to deliver their messages to both rulers and the common people, rather than making unwarranted leaps into the realm of the fantastical of future messiahs with magical powers that would suffer incredible punishments. Then there would have been no precedents upon which alternative religions would have built their houses of unfounded doctrines. But no, these rabbis could not do so. They could not leave the obvious alone and through their naivitee they have brought down upon all of us a lifetime of suffering and persecution. Surely now they would see that as a people we have fulfilled those prophecies that originally were spouted by the prophets of old. No longer an individual's suffering, no longer the prophets themselves, but an entire people, marked and scourged, beaten and executed for no other crime than being unwilling to abandon the words of God.
From their own arguments that I will present subsequently, you will be able to follow the transition from Rabbinical conjecture to Christian reality. Of how men with nothing more to do than discuss how many angels can dance on the head of a pin caused the fractures within Judaism that led to one religion becoming three. The finger is pointed in their direction for this is their true legacy.
The Rabbis' Folly
Considering that the Talmud is a compilation of not Oral Law as the Rabbis would attempt to make one believe but in reality a compilation of legends, folklore and irrelevant discourses, then it is not surprising that there was an atmosphere in Judea around the time of the Roman occupation that would have supported the advent of a figure like Yeshua. One must remember that the Talmud is based on these legends from that particular time period and that it was the Pharisees that in their defiance and attempts to turn the people from Zadokite or Sadducean teachings who advocated such myths and legends as being actual truths. They taught these fabrications not as the mythical tales they were but as unwritten stories and commandments that were handed down from the time of Moses,despite Moses purposely declaring that all there is was written in the Torah and there was no more.
Such is the case when one examines Sanhedrin 98b in the Babylonian Talmud which states, "What is his name?(the Messiah) The Rabbis said, his name is the Leper Scholar, as it is written, surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God and afflicted."
Is it any wonder this leper Messiah, who suffered for the griefs and sorrows of his people only to be rejected by them would naturally lead to assumption of Christians that Yeshua suffered for his people only to be scorned and rejected by the very people he had come to save. The Pharisees and Rabbis had already affirmed in their minds that this is exactly the way it was to proceed and in so doing gave Yeshua his legitimized standing. As a leper they were already stating he would be rejected despite his status as the messiah. Furtherthermore, what is most alarming is that their reference to this messiah is in the past tense. He had already come and gone which I find this view of theirs astounding since they have now given even more credence to Yeshua's claim, since I know of no other identity that they could offer up as heir to this title that would have already existed. Unless they're referring to Simon Bar Kochba and that would even be more alarming if that was the case since Bar Kochba did nothing but lead us into another war with Rome which almost resulted in our complete extermination. But then again, he was the Rabbi's choice for a messiah and therefore they ultimately were responsible for the slaughter of Jews in the hundreds of thousands.
Midrash Ruth Rabbah: "Another explanation (of Ruth ii.14): -- He is speaking of king Messiah; `Come hither,' draw near to the throne; `and eat of the bread,' that is, the bread of the kingdom; `and dip thy morsel in the vinegar,' this refers to his chastisements, as it is said, `But he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities"
Once again the Rabbis refer to the messiah being a person made to suffer for the sins and transgressions of the Jewish people. If one did not know better they would say that it was a Christian minister writing his sermon and declaring from the pulpit that Jesus was the messiah and that he died on behalf of the sins of the Jews. But this isn't some Christian theologian but Rabbis with vivid imaginations creating fantastical tales from what were originally precise statements of legitimate prophets.
Zohar: "`He was wounded for our transgressions,' etc....There is in the Garden of Eden a palace called the Palace of the Sons of Sickness; this palace the Messiah then enters and summons every sickness, every pain, and every chastisement of Israel; they all come and rest upon him. And were it not that he had thus lightened them off Israel and taken them upon himself, there had been no man able to bear Israel's chastisements for the transgression of the law: and this is that which is written, `Surely our sicknesses he hath carried."
Long ago I expressed my opinion of the Zohar. (see http:/hubpages.com/hub/Dont-Mess-With-The-Zohar) It is an abomination of Judaism and those that practice it and worship through it are not glorified but condemned by God. Nothing in the Zohar is to be taken literally nor given credibility. But to the Christian mind reading the above passage, it would certainly seem to justify his faith in Yeshua. After all, it fits very well with their beliefs that Israel transgressed and only someone or something more than a man could bear those sins and carry them away.
Rabbi Moses Alschech (1508-1600) in reference to Isaiah 52:13 and 53 said, "Our Rabbis with one voice accept and affirm the opinion that the prophet is speaking of the Messiah, and we shall ourselves also adhere to the same view."
In reference to these same chapters Abrabanel (1437-1508) said "This is also the opinion of our own learned men in the majority of their Midrashim."
I can read those same passages and quickly see that the Prophet is referring to Israel as the suffering servant. The entity that has born the abuse of the world for following the path of righteousness and Torah. And even Rashi, a rabbinic sage, knew that Isaiah 53 was referring to Israel and chastised his colleagues for popularizing their wild imaginations of thinking otherwise. But as Abarbanel mentions above, "These rabbis were not prepared to abandon their faulty interpretion of Isaiah 53 as Messianic because they needed desparately to feed their congregations an opiate of faith in order to appease the constant question they faced of why we must suffer constantly. By giving their congregations false hope they could avoid their being dragged into the streets and pummelled by their followers once they realized that the hardships they suffered all occurred because of the rabbis' own distortions and poltical miscalcultations.
Even more dangerous is the allusions made in the Midrash Tanchuma by the Rabbis in which they claim the messiah is as follows: "He was more exalted than Abraham, more extolled than Moses, higher than the archangels" This is further confirmed in Yalkut Schimeon ( ascribed to Rabbi Simeon Kara, 12th Century ) in which he says regarding Zecharih 4:7: "He ( the Messiah ) is greater than the patriarchs, as it is said, 'My servant shall be high, and lifted up, and lofty exceedingly' (Isaiah 52:13)."
Now as I've already expressed, the prophet is merely referring to Israel as His servant and he is only confirming what God has always said that He would favour Israel and raise it above all other nations and it will be glorified upon the lips of all other people. So where in the world these rabbis can make an ascertation that the messiah will be greater than Abraham, or Moses, or any of the other prophets is beyond anything God has said or proscribed. To negate and relegate God's chosen men that he spoke to directly in such a callous manner and minimize them at the same time is intolerable. To place him above angels is practically sacriligious. But what they did do in their moment of sublime stupidity is create the fable of a messiah that must be more than human, imbued with some heavenly powers that Christians immediately seized upon as justification for their beliefs. So in essence, Christianity has not built its foundation of beliefs upon the Torah but upon the words and fabrications of these Jewish Rabbis that had no authority to speak on God's behalf.
Though some say that Maimonides (RAMBAM 1135-12O4) was benevolent to the Karaites, another falsehood which I object to since RAMBAM said that Rabbanite kindness would only be extended to those of us that admitted Karaism was a mistaken belief, this pinnacle of rabbinic wisdom wrote to Rabbi Jacob Alfajumi, "Likewise said Isaiah that He (Messiah) would appear without acknowledging a father or mother: 'He grew up before him as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground' etc. (Isa.53:2)."
I don't know whether RAMBAM was taking some of his own medication he prescribed as a doctor or whether he was sharing the hashpipe with Saladdin at the time but whatever drugs he was on, his failure to comprehend this very simple analogy made by the prophet Isaiah had major repercussions against Judaism's rejection of Christianity. Whereas the prophet was simply comparing the rise of Judaism within a hostile environment and how not only did it grow but took root to find nourishment in hostile soil, a very easy metaphor to understand, RAMBAM saw it in the same mythological fallacy of his forefathers, the Pharisim. How one draws a conclusion of divine birth, inhuman progeneration from a green shoot growing in a desert escapes me. But because he was so willing to believe the myth perpetuated by the Pharisees at the time of Roman occupation, he is an example of how these rabbis not only encouraged the belief of Hellenistic (Greek polytheism) divine creation but were responsible for such beliefs taking root amongst the poor and uneducated classes amongst the Jewish populace. In other words, Yeshua didn't create Christianity, the rabbis did. And early Christians were nothing more than rabbinic Jews having this peculiar belief that is an ananthema to the Torah.
Unfortuantely the rabbis couldn't stop themselves. The more they wrote on the topic of the messiah, the more they fed the appetite of Christian clergy to demonstrate that the Jews knew that Yeshua was the messiah and knowingly rejected him. Rabbi Moses, 'The Preacher'(11. Century) wrote in his commentary on Genesis (page 660) as follows, "From the beginning God has made a covenant with the Messiah and told Him,' My righteous Messiah, those who are entrusted to you, their sins will bring you into a heavy yoke'..And He answered, 'I gladly accept all these agonies in order that not one of Israel should be lost.' Immediately, the Messiah accepted all agonies with love, as it is written: 'He was oppressed and he was afflicted."
Once again we have a situation where the rabbis will fabricate stories, legends, or similar and give it divine sanctification. By writing this comment, Rabbi Moses has openly declared that the Messiah existed from the beginning of time. I know of no place in the Book of Genesis where this statement is made. Nor do I have any recollection from Genesis of God engaging in a conversation with the messiah. In fact, I don't know of anywhere in the entire Torah where God engages in such a conversation. And to imply that the Messiah acknowledges that he will take on the sins of Israel as his own, is definitely not what is written in Isaiah 53. In fact it states that God was pleased with afflicting him (52:10) and it was God that caused him grief. The people witnessing this did not realize that it was for their iniquities but instead saw it as punishment from God. But by putting into written script what the Pharisees had declared at the time of Yeshua and what the rabbis still believe, that the messiah is an eternal spirit that existed from the beginning, they gave him God-like qualities, and in so doing, provided the concept of the Trinity which is the mainstay of Christianity. Once again, we have rabbinical fantasies writing the doctrine for this daughter religion of theirs.
I find it amusing that the charges against my Boethian and Zadokite ancestors lodged by the Rabbanites is that they were all Hellenizers, willing to placate themselves to their Greek and Roman overlords at the expense of the religion. They further declared that only they were willing to fight for the preservation of Judaism to the point of fanatical zealotism. Yes, they were fanatical, bringing our civilization to the precipice of annihilation over and over again. Something we Boethians and Zadokites worked hard to see would not happen, even if our methods were accused of being patronizing and subservient. But where we drew the line is with the Torah. That remained unalterable and our overlords were content to leave it so as long as they had our sworn obeiance. But as you can read below, these vanguards of religious freedom, these paragons of virtue, these rabbinical defenders of God's words, were more than happy to alter the religion and freely did so at the expense of hundreds of thousands of lives they convinced to fight in defence of Judaism. The question I ask is whether the people knew what they were fighting for because from what the rabbis have written it's hard to believe they did.
From the stories of Rabbi Shim'on ben Yohai in the midrash it was written, "And Armilaus will join battle with Messiah, the son of Ephraim, in the East gate . . .; and Messiah, the son of Ephraim, will die there, and Israel will mourn for him. And afterwards the Holy One will reveal to them Messiah, the son of David, whom Israel will desire to stone, saying, Thou speakest falsely; already is the Messiah slain, and there is non other Messiah to stand up (after him): and so they will despise him , as it is written, "Despised and forlorn of men;" but he will turn and hide himself from them, according to the words, "Like one hiding his face from us."
To the Rabbanites this is not a fable but seen on equal standing with the Torah. As discussed in my hub on the Twin Messiahs, the belief that there would be more than one is based on the Torah statement of the rod and sceptre will not fall. Because one of these was priestly, the rabbis could not stomach the thought of a priestly messiah and instead replaced him with a descendant of Joseph. But in their myth creating excercises they've written just as the Greeks did with the mythology entire episodes of events and challenges for their godlings. They even have the messiah of David suffering at their hands because the messiah of Ephraim has died in battle with the demon Armilaus. Already it is taking on Greek mythological status. Was it any wonder that Christians could equate this fable to be the prediction of John the Baptist and Jesus. The ground work had already ben laid by the rabbis.
Even when certain rabbis wished to correct these errors made by their predecessors they found that they could not turn their colleagues from this false mythology. Nachmanides (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman) in the thirteenth century wrote, "The right view respecting this Parashah is to suppose that by the phrase "my servant" the whole of Israel is meant. . . .As a different opinion, however, is adopted by the Midrash, which refers it to the Messiah, it is necessary for us to explain it in conformity with the view there maintained. The prophet says, The Messiah, the son of David of whom the text speaks, will never be conquered or perish by the hands of his enemies. And, in fact the text teaches this clearly."
So even Nachmanides is admitting he cannot change the minds of his colleagues as it was too firmly implanted in the Midrash. What a shame that he didn't try harder.
A Karaite View of Isaiah 53
Though I have always interpreted the suffering servant to be a manifestation of Israel itself, and certainly no one can argue that Jews have not suffered for their beliesf over the last 3000 years, it is not to say that mine is the only Karaite interpretation. From the 10th century, Yapheth ben Ali had an interpretation that resembles some of the Rabbanites but with qualifications. He wrote as follows, "As to myself, I am inclined, with Benjamin of Nehawend, to regard it as alluding to the Messiah, and as opening with a description of his condition in exile, from the time of his birth to his accession to the throne: for the prophet begins by speaking of his being seated in a position of great honour, and then goes back to relate all that will happen to him during the captivity. He thus gives us to understand two things: In the first instance, that the Messiah will only reach his highest degree of honour after long and severe trials; and secondly, that these trials will be sent upon him as a kind of sign, so that, if he finds himself under the yoke of misfortunes whilst remaining pure in his actions, he may know that he is the desired one."
Though not particularly my belief, I will not say that Yapheth ben Eli is incorrect. His observations are more solid than those of the Rabbanites and he refers to the Messiah not suffering at the hands of Israel for their sins, but suffering at the hands of the world in which he's exiled. In fact, I do agree with Yapheth that I don't believe the messiah will actually know that he is the messiah until such time that he has gone through a series of trials. It is more a case of greatness thrust upon him than his own personal pursuit of it. It would appear that both of us are in agreement as to the manner in which the ascent of the messiah will occur.
Essentially, the message of this article is that the kernels of belief upon which Christianity were based were all created and acknowledged by Rabbinic Judaism. Therefore it must be questioned as to what their primary reasons were that they took such objection to the offspring of their own vivid imaginations when first faced with the rise of the Nazoreans and Minians. It is remarkable that the rabbis would foster such beliefs steeped in mythology and contrary to the Torah,and when faced by the specter of their fallacies would find it so abhorrent. They have rejected it to the point of practically denying that the Christianity originally practiced was in abidement with their own practices and that must make even this Karaite wonder what was their motivation in the first place? Was it perhaps just to be contrary to us Zadokites and Boethians in order to have a point of differentiation in which to begin a struggle for power? Only they can say but after two thousand years I doubt they'll start to admit to their sins now.
There were many stories circulating within the family concerning the events surrounding Yeshua. As I compiled these into the novel 'The Caiaphas Letters' I realized that the circumstances, intrigues and intentions of various individuals went far beyond our own levels of understanding and certainly that of the Pharisees of the time. See http://legendsofthekahana.webs.com/3onthecharts.htm for further details.