One of the original ways certain rabbis are now attacking the New Testament is by referring back to old claims of biblical criticism from the seventeenth century. These claims have long since been refuted, due to discoveries in archaeology and historical research developments, but that doesn’t seem to trouble some rabbis in their quest to discredit the teachings of Jesus. Here are a few examples of their criticisms along with the refutations:
Rabbi Daniel Asor claims that there are contradictions in the New Testament based on Matthew 2:23:
“And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.” The rabbi raises the following supposed contradictions: “Why didn’t Matthew say which prophet said that? Is there a verse like this in the Books of the Prophets?… The answer is that there is no such verse in the entire Old Testament, and there is no such prophet in the history of the people of Israel.”
There is no contradiction here, Matthew doesn’t quote, nor does he claim that he is quoting, as there is no use of “quotation marks”. When Matthew doeschoose to quote from a specific book from the Old Testament, he also indicates it. For example:
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet…” (Matt. 1:22)
or “so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled…” (Matt. 4:14)
or “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet…” (Matt. 12:17)
As you probably noticed, Matthew says “spoken by the prophets” in plural and not spoken by “the prophet” as in singular form. This is because Matthew isn’t quoting a particular verse, but is referring to a central motif that was continuous in the words of the prophets. In this case, when Matthew says “so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene”, he is basing this on several different sections in the Old Testament:
Isaiah 11:1: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 31:5: “For there shall be a day when watchmen (Nazarenes) will call in the hill country of Ephraim: ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.’”
Isaiah 49:6: “he says: It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved (Nazarenes) of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
And if we want to go even deeper, the word “netzer” in the Old Testament means “root” or “branch”.
The Talmud itself refers to the Messiah in the same way, using the same name. These nicknames are a part of the same central motif that Matthew speaks about, for example:
Zechariah 3:8: “Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.”
Jeremiah 33:15: “In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”
To conclude, Matthew didn’t invent a verse claiming it was in the Old Testament, but rather he refers to a central motif of the Old Testament, using words which were common in the books of the prophets.
Another example comes from Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, who claims that in Matthew 5:43, the New Testament quotes from the Pentateuch: “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy”, and that the Pentateuch never said that.
But the New Testament doesn’t claim that Jesus quoted from the Pentateuch… Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said…” Jesus didn’t say “it is written in the Pentateuch, but he said “you have heard”, and then he gave two examples, one is “love your neighbor”, Jesus probably was referring to Leviticus 19:17:“love your neighbor as yourself.” The second part, “hate your enemy”, Jesus probably referred to a well-known tradition among the people. As we know, hating the enemy and especially hatred toward gentiles was deeply rooted among many rabbis.
For example, according to Rabbi Abraham ben David, Rabbi Yehuda ben Bezalel, and Rabbi Yehuda Ha’Levi, gentiles are equal to cows and don’t deserve to be called humans.
The Ramabam writes that the gentile is not really human, and his entire purpose is to serve the Jew; according to Rabbi Zadik Ha’Cohen of Lublin, all gentiles are like cows in human form.
According to the Zohar, in contrast to Jews who have a living soul, the rest of the nations have no living soul.
According to Ha’ARI, gentiles have neither spirit nor soul and are not even equal to a kosher cow for eating.
It was traditions like these that Jesus spoke about when he said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘…hate your enemy.’” Jesus claimed that the opposite is true, that we should offer love even to those who don’t love us in return.
And now, let’s check who really invents verses that don’t actually exist.
Rabbi Daniel Asor, on page 267 in his book, quotes Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew 15:11:
“The Law says that you should not eat pig, but I say to you, not what goes into the mouth defiles a person.”
But this is not what’s written. And here is the original verse in the New Testament:
“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
Rabbi Asor purposely and maliciously, added words to Jesus’ quote, which he didn’t say, and among them the word “pig”.
To conclude, and as you can see in the video we filmed about the Sages, it’s not the New Testament that invents verses. Rather, this is just another desperate attempt to try and hide Jesus from you.
Eitan's professional background is in "Multimedia Design and Visual Communications" working for various secular advertising agencies in Tel-Aviv.
Eitan is the producer of:
1) I MET MESSIAH (Jewish testimonials).
2) Answering Rabbinic Objections to Jesus.
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