Rabbi Tovia Singer says: “Anyone who thinks that God came down to us, manifested as anything, whether as cottage cheese or as Jesus, such person is going to the eternal fire of hell and will not enjoy Heaven.”
Rabbi Daniel Asor adds: “The Old Testament forbids pagan beliefs which evolve around “human idols” a man-god.” And in page 256 in his book, he writes the following: “The Christians lean on Old Testament verses when it comes to the divinity of Jesus.” And then in a condescending and arrogant way, the rabbi suggests you take a look “at a number of verses in the Old Testament on which the missionaries base their Pagan belief.”
So let’s do that. Let’s look at what the Bible has to say, and at Rabbi Asor’s objections, and then explain why even the ancient Jewish Sages think he is wrong.
First up is the verse from Jeremiah 23:6: “In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely, and this is the name by which he will be called: ‘YHWH, Our Righteousness.’”
After Rabbi Asor explains that Christians use this verse as evidence to the divinity of the Messiah, he responds with a similar verse from Jeremiah 33:16: “In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘YHWH, Our Righteousness.’” Then he posits: “Therefore: in this verse, ‘YHWH, Our Righteousness’ is the name of the city Jerusalem. Should we say that the sand and the rocks of Jerusalem are 100% divine for the future to come? Of course not” He adds, “By the way, my name is also divine, Daniel! Am I also divine? Of course not…”
First of all, although the name ‘Daniel’ contains the letters E and L, you will not find a prophet, king or any other person in the whole Old Testament who receives the specific four-letter name of God, YHWH, apart from the Messiah. Only the Messiah is called by God’s explicit name. Second, what about the claim that the prophet Jeremiah calls Jerusalem by the name “YHWH, Our Righteousness”, since it’s impossible, as the Rabbi claims, to call a city after God’s name? Those who don’t have a biblical background might think this makes sense, but the truth is that naming a city after its ruler is a well-known biblical custom, and has remained so since the earliest generations. Even with Cain, in Genesis 4, Cain built a city and named it after his son ‘Enoch’. When we read through the book of Genesis, we see that throughout the generations, cities were named after their rulers. Therefore, it is of no surprise that Jerusalem would also be given the name of its king and ruler – after the name of the One who chose her to be His eternal spiritual dwelling – God. This actually supports our point, and is not a contradiction to our claim, that the Messiah King will be called by God’s name. His capital city will also be called after His name ‘YHWH, Our Righteousness’; the city which He chose as His dwelling place.
And now to the main point… Pay attention to the bias and lack of honesty of Rabbi Daniel Asor, who insists that the suggestion that Jeremiah 23:6 speaks of the deity of the Messiah was a claim first made by Christians, and an expression of their pagan belief. As a Rabbi, he should advocate the ‘Oral Law’, but in reality, he doesn’t hesitate to contradict what the Sages have said, and to trample the Oral Law just to try and keep Jesus out of the picture.
Let’s see how the Sages interpreted ‘YHWH, Our Righteousness’ in Jeremiah 23:6 as a prophecy about the Messiah:
“Said Rabbi Yohanan: ‘Three will be named with the name of the Holy One, blessed be he, and they are: The Upright, the Messiah, and Jerusalem… Messiah, as it is written (Jer. 23) ‘And this is His name whereby He shell be called: YHWH, Our Righteousness” (Babylonian Talmud Baba Bathra 75 72).
Minor Tractate, Sofrim 13, Rule 12: “Gladden us, O Lord our God, with Elijah the prophet, thy servant, and with the kingdom of the house of David, thine anointed. Soon may he come and rejoice our hearts. Suffer not a stranger to sit upon his throne, nor let others any longer inherit his glory; for by thy holy name thou didst swear unto him, that his light should not be quenched for ever. “In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called; The Lord, Our Righteousness. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who sprouts a horn of salvation for His people, Israel.” Here, Messiah Son of David is identified with the figure mentioned in Jeremiah 23, ‘YHWH, Our Righteousness’.
“As they both confessed to the wrong they had done, Judah juxtaposed Reuben… Oh, I will show him the salvation of God! Since he admitted, he received the kingship and from him came a Messiah who will save Israel, as it is written: ‘In His days, Judah will be saved.’” (“Tzror Hamor” Genesis, Parashat Vayechi”) Here the commentator explains Judah’s privilege – that the Messiah would come from him, and is basing his words on Jeremiah 23:6, meaning that he also saw this verse as a Messianic prophecy which claims that the Messiah will be God.
In Midrash Mishle (Proverbs), Rabbi Hona names seven names for the Messiah: “Yinnon, YHWH Our Righteousness, Shoot, Comforter, David, Shiloh, and Elijah.”
In Midrash Eichah 1 it says about this verse: “What is the name of the Messiah King?” Rabbi Abba Bar-Kahana said: ‘The Lord’ is his name, and that is the name by which He will be called, The LORD, Our Righteousness”.
In Midrash Tehilim (Psalms) it is written that God calls the Messiah by His name, and what is His name? The answer given is: “YHWH, Man of War” (Exodus 15:3)
And about the Messiah we read: “And that is His name by which He will be called: YHWH, Our Righteousness”
Did you get it? The Sages attributed “YHWH, Our Righteousness” in Jeremiah 23:6 to be speaking about the Messiah.
Now all we have left to do is to ask Rabbi Asor if he intends to also blame Rabbi Yohanan, the writer of the minor tractates, and Rabbi Abraham for having pagan Christian beliefs?
Eitan's professional background is in "Multimedia Design and Visual Communications" working for various secular advertising agencies in Tel-Aviv.
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