Let's examine them, one at a time:
Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because:
Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies.
Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah.
Biblical verses "referring" to Jesus are mistranslations.
Jewish belief is based on national revelation.
Comment: One thing we've noticed is that rabbis and Messiah Deniers will often refer to "Jesus" instead of the more meaningful "Yeshua" - apparently because the "Jesus" espoused by most people is in no way the Torah-obedient Messiah Judaism would expect to see. While "Yeshua" means "Yah is Salvation", "Jesus", sadly means nothing. Most of Christianity teaches that "Jesus" came to do away with YHWH's Torah, and describe Torah as "the Law" and go so far as to say it is a "curse". So we certainly agree that "Jesus" as described by Christianity is not a good representative of the Messiah. However, if you come to know the Messiah for who He really was, Yeshua, you would find that He was perfectly Torah obebient, came only to show us how to gain eternal life, and that - as you will see below - many of the charges by the rabbis against Yeshua are simply misunderstandings.
1. Jesus Did Not Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies
What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? One of the central themes of biblical prophecy is the promise of a future age of perfection characterized by universal peace and recognition of God. (Isaiah 2:1-4, 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)
Specifically, the Bible says he will:
Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world ? on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).
If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be the Messiah.
Because no one has ever fulfilled the Bible's description of this future King, Jews still await the coming of the Messiah. All past Messianic claimants, including Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Cochba and Shabbtai Tzvi have been rejected.
Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming. Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright; in the Bible no concept of a second coming exists.
Above, in the first paragraph we see listed 10 scriptures, the citation of which is intended to convey: "See, Yeshua has not fulfilled these!" But if you will simply read these scriptures for yourself, you will conclude that you can't use them to argue Yeshua has "not fulfilled them" because each scripture refers to a future time. Just because they have not yet been fulfilled cannot indicate "non completion" because we all, Jew and Gentile alike, are not yet in the future time prophesied!
Also, stating these scriptures as "unfulfilled" imposes a timeline for them to have been fulfilled. This is a foul because, what the rabbis are saying, is that they had to be fulfilled 2000 years ago if Yeshua were really the Messiah. But NONE of these Tanakh scriptures give ANY indication of a timeline, so it is completely inappropriate to argue that they must have been fulfilled already! (We are well aware that the rabbis teach that the Messiah will fulfill all the prophecies within a period represented by a single manifestation. In other words, they argue there is no call in Scripture for an arrival of the Messiah, followed by a second coming. More about this later.)
"Specifically, the Bible says he will: Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28)."
First, there is no language in Ezekiel 37:26-28 that specifies the Messiah will build the third temple. The language states only that during the Messianic age, the third temple will be built. Please see Will There Be a Third Temple?
These verses actually say: "…My sanctuary will be with them". In fact in verses 26 and 27, Ezekiel first says "et-mikdashi" (consecrated thing or place) then says "mishkani" (tabernacle). The ancient Hebrew word for Temple is "heykal". Ezekiel 37:26-28 simply does not say the messiah would build the 3rd Temple!
Now - we are not quibbling that the Messiah WILL rebuild the Temple! Zechariah 6 says: "12 and tell him, ' YHWH -Tzva'ot says: 'There is coming a man whose name is Tzemach [Sprout]. He will sprout up from his place and rebuild the temple of YHWH. 13 Yes, he will rebuild the temple of YHWH; and he will take up royal splendor, sitting and ruling from his throne. There will be a cohen before his throne; and they will accept each other's advice in complete harmony.'" (CJB) Here, Zechariah does use "et-heykal" - temple. So the question is who is/was "Tzemach", and could the Messiah Yeshua have been this sprout/branch? The rabbis will obviously say "no", Yeshua was not Tzemach, but they can only do so because they have already decided that Yeshua could not be him.
There is no further mention of Tzemach in Zechariah or in any other book of the Tanakh, so it is possible that this prophecy was fulfilled after the end of the writing of the last book of the Tanakh, or that it has yet to be fulfilled. It IS a prophecy, and for a prophet to be a "true prophet", his prophecy MUST come true or he is a false prophet! So we take it as a "given" that Zechariah is a true prophet so only one of three things can happen: The prophecy has come true; or the prophecy has yet to come true; or the prophecy came true, and will come true a 2nd time. (If you are scratching your head at that 3rd possibility, you must understand that it is entirely possible for any prophecy to have a "dual" meaning, a "current" and a "future" component or meaning. A prophecy can be pointing to both something that will happen soon, and also be about something to happen much later.)
Zechariah himself tells us his time was during the reign of Darius the Great - see Zechariah 1:1 - so this establishes Zechariah's prophecy to the early years of 522 to 486 BCE. The Second Temple (530 BCE to 70 CE) was already under construction during Zechariah's time, in fact, the Second Temple was dedicated in 516 BCE, and Zechariah is credited greatly with assisting in the completion of its construction (Ezra 5:1-2). So we know that Zechariah's prophecy in chapter 6 of a man who would yet come, called Tzemach, who would rebuild the Temple, means that the Temple would need rebuilding, and thus the prophecy was to be a future event even as the 2nd Temple was just then present.
Still, the 2nd Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, and has not been rebuilt, so the Zechariah prophecy seems yet to be fulfilled at clearly a still future time. But the rabbis argue that Yeshua could not have been the Messiah because He did not rebuild the Temple when He was here! Again, simply making that statement puts a "timeline" on the prophecy - something prophecies themselves don't usually do! Absolutely NOTHING in any of the prophecies in the Tanakh say the Temple would be rebuilt by the Messiah, when the Messiah was present on the Earth!
So it is "grasping at straws" to charge that Yeshua cannot be the Messiah because he did not "rebuild the Temple" when he was on the Earth during His ministry from 27-30 CE! Indeed, since the 2nd Temple was not destroyed till 40 years after Yeshua's death, it would have been rather difficult for the 3rd Temple to have been built by Yeshua when He was here! This simply means that the Temple will be rebuilt at a later date!
For the Temple to be rebuilt, there is nothing stopping Israel from doing so today, except for that "minor" issue of a "Palestinian State" trying to take over the Land. Even the rabbis argue incessantly as to whether or not the 3rd Temple will be built before or after the coming of the Messiah, yet the consensus seems to be that the Temple can be built any time they can get the thing started and it does not need to "wait" for a Messiah! So, again, to argue that Yeshua could not be the Messiah because HE did not rebuild the Temple seems to go against the teachings of Judaism that it does not need to wait for Him!
Yeshua could rebuild the Temple - if/when He were to return! But the rabbis claim there is no such thing as the "Messiah coming twice"! But is that true? Well, it depends on the interpretation of prophecy! You see, in Zechariah 6, we've already mentioned that he says: "There is coming a man whose name is Tzemach [Sprout]. He will sprout up from his place and rebuild the temple of ADONAI", and we saw that this prophecy, by virtue of the fact that the Temple has not yet been rebuilt, seems to remain a future event.
Then in Zechariah 9, we find the prophecy of a king arriving meekly on a donkey: "9 Rejoice greatly, daughter of Tziyon! Shout, daughter of Yerushalayim! Behold, your king comes to you! He is righteous, and having salvation; Lowly, and riding on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (HNV).
Yet later, Zechariah describes a different "day"; Zechariah 14: 1 A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you.
2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. 3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. 6 On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. 7 It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime--a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. 8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. 9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (CJB). Here an apparent 2nd, powerful king arrives.
Zechariah ends in chapter 14, describing that all those remaining come each year to Yerushalayim to worship the king, YHWH-Tzva'ot, and to keep the festival of Sukkot. The last verse says "…there will no longer be merchants in the house of YHWH-Tzva'ot." This sure sounds like there is a Temple at that time!
So is this prophecy of Zecharaiah in chapters 9 and 14, of two kings, two "messiahs"? Or is it of one king who comes twice, and the second time builds the Temple? It's food for thought, and certainly not something as "easy" to proclaim as the rabbis would have you believe. That Yeshua could not be the Messiah because He did not build the Temple in the timeline the rabbis would have expected, is no argument Yeshua is not the Messiah....Now, look at this statement:
"...the Bible says he will: Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6)."
Okay. Let's start by looking at these verses, Isaiah 43:5-6:
5 Fear not, for I am with you: I will bring your folk from the East, Will gather you out of the West: 6 I will say to the North, "Give back!" And to the South, "Do not withhold! Bring my sons from afar, And My daughters from the end of the earth--" (JPS Tanakh).
There is no language here that specifies the Messiah will bring the Jews back to Israel. The language states only that God will lead the Jews back to Israel. If you then point to Isaiah 11:10 - 11:12, you must distinguish between what the Messiah will do: "BE a banner to all nations" and what God will actually do: "RAISE a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel."
Thus, one must distinguish between the roles of God in heaven, and the Messiah on earth. This contention is reinforced by Zechariah 10:8-12, which provides that God (not the Messiah on earth) will gather the Jews back to Israel.
We can only assume the rabbis acknowledge that these verses, at least these chapters of Isaiah, are messianic prophecies, because out of context, these two verses say nothing about that the messiah will "gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel". The pronoun in verse 5, "I", is referring to YHWH! But let's assume for the moment that these verses do refer to a messiah. Isaiah 43 begins: "1 But now this is what YHWH says, he who created you, Ya'akov, he who formed you, Isra'el: 'Don't be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I am calling you by your name; you are mine.'" And verse 3 goes on to say: "For I am YHWH, your God, the Holy One of Isra'el, your Savior…" [Note: That last word "savior" in this translation, in Hebrew is actually "moshiach", messiah.]
With that established, we come to understand that the rabbis believe that 1) the people of Israel have been [or will be] redeemed [verse 1]; and 2) that YHWH Himself is the messiah [verse 3]. So this begs the two questions, since the rabbis use Isaiah 43:5-6 as a messianic prophecy: "Does Isaiah 43:5-6 actually say and mean that 'all Jews will be gathered back to the Land of Israel'", and if YHWH Himself is the messiah, how does/will that unfold?
First, Isaiah 43:5-6, even by examining the verses in Hebrew, only says that "wherever His people are, He is available to return to Him". It basically says the north, south, east, and west cannot keep His sons and daughters from Him. It most certainly does NOT say that all who are His MUST physically return to the Land of Israel for the messiah to have done His job!
Saying that all Jews must return to Israel would mean a very crowded place, because scripture also says, if you are inclined to read it, that all the Goyim will go to Israel too! (See Isaiah 2:1-3 and Isaiah 56:6-8 for example). Man, that will be a crowded place!
Next, the rabbis say that Yeshua can't be the messiah because the messiah would:
"Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
Well, yes, this will be a responsibility of the Messiah, but here again, the rabbis are assuming that this had to have happened when Yeshua walked the earth! Why? This prophecy clearly says in verse 2: "In the acharit-hayamim the mountain of ADONAI's house will be established as the most important mountain. It will be regarded more highly than the other hills, and all the Goyim will stream there." The actions of the Messiah in verse 4 to bring in world peace will be in the acharit-hayamim, the "end times" or "the last of days". Nothing in Isaiah 4:2 says this can or must happen upon the 1st appearance or only a single appearance of the Messiah!
This language clearly applies to the second coming of Yeshua. While this concept is obnoxious - and laughable to many Jews, please remember we are discussing God's plan for the world. He has every right, as God, to allow the prophecies of the prophets to unfold over an expanse of time, and not within a single human lifetime. God's timeframe is His own, and may not fit within our conception of how long things should take, or when they should occur. After all, if God is all-powerful, and He intended to redeem humankind in one fell swoop, He could have done so - even in Noah's day. By sharp contrast, He did not. He has been unfolding His plan for the world over thousands of years. The Messiah, as the Word of God, is a component of this unfolding.
Take Israel for example. God promised the Jews the land of Caanan (Israel) as their home. The Jews were then expelled from the land and - for over 2000 years - Israel ceased to exist. During this time, anyone could have argued that the Jews' expulsion from their homeland was evidence of a breached promise and failed prophecy of God. But, this prophecy is not one which unfolds within a single human lifetime. The proof is that in 1948, over 2000 years later, the state of Israel was recognized. Israel had returned to the map.
One must also consider Isaiah 53:3, which provides that the Messiah will be rejected. If the Messiah is to be rejected, He cannot also reign over the world during an era of world peace. This implies, by definition, a continuing mission over time.
There is additional evidence to consider. The Messiah's first advent was as the suffering servant (Isaiah 53:1-12.) His second coming will be as a conquering king (Zechariah 14:1-15) come to rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9).
Why are these passages significant? In one instance, the Messiah is described as being the expected King, having salvation, lowly and riding on the foal of a donkey. That is, the use of a donkey symbolizes His servitude. Conversely, the later image of a conquering king symbolizes a triumphant return, as evidenced by Daniel 7:13:
Daniel 7:13 In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Many rabbis were unable to reconcile these two radically different descriptions of the Messiah, and interpreted them to mean two different Messiahs would come. After all, how can the Messiah be both lowly on a donkey and a triumphant king at the same time? The obvious implication of these passages is they foretell the first and second comings of a single Messiah - Yeshua. Put simply, He came first as the lamb, but will return as the lion - the lion of Judah.
The prophets even foretell that the Jewish people, in their moment of utmost despair, will repent for rejecting Yeshua and, in that moment, trigger this return: I (Yahweh) will go away and return to My place until they (Israel) acknowledge their guilt and seek my face. In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. (Hosea 5:15).
God's reaction to Israel's repentance is continued (Zechariah 12:10) which provides: And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
Clearly, the one that has been pierced is the Messiah. More importantly, and most obviously, they can only be looking at Him if He is in front of their faces for them to look at. That is, if He has returned for them to see.
Next the rabbis say that Yeshua can't be the messiah because the messiah would "Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world ? on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9)".
Again, here is a messianic prophecy that, because it appears yet to be fulfilled, the rabbis insist that it disqualifies Yeshua as the messiah - never mind that this clearly is a future prophecy of Zechariah 14 when the messiah comes with a vengeance! But let's stop for a minute and examine what Yeshua taught in 27-30 CE.
Yeshua says: "It is necessary for me to preach to other cities the Kingdom of Elohim, for because this reason I have been sent." (Luke 4:43) And when asked "Teacher, which Commandment in Torah is the greatest?" (Matthew 22:36) Yeshua said: "You should love Master YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest Commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38). Note that Master YHWH is the God of Israel, and that today, 2000 years later, this is universal knowledge, all over the world, spread in COUNTLESS translations of the scriptures! So it seems that at least part of Zechariah's prophecy has already come true, and that the only part left is for all the world to accept Him as King, and for all to see God as One, which clearly remains a future prophecy.
So the rabbis go on: If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be the Messiah. Because no one has ever fulfilled the Bible's description of this future King, Jews still await the coming of the Messiah. All past Messianic claimants, including Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Cochba and Shabbtai Tzvi have been rejected. Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming. Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright; in the Bible no concept of a second coming exists.
Well, the first statement is true enough, but again, it carries with it the implication that all that must happen has happened, and that all the Messiah must do has happened and since Yeshua did not fulfill all prophecies 2000 years ago, then Yeshua cannot be the Messiah. This is a ludicrous argument as we hope by now you can see!
There is a very serious problem with the 3rd statement. That all "claimants" have been rejected, including Yeshua is no reason to deny Yeshua as the Messiah because all it means is that you do not accept the evidence! Some "claimants" can be legitimately excluded because, all you have to do, for example, is dig up their graves and find their bones! But Yeshua? We have many ancient documents, all of which describe much of His life and times, yet the only reason to reject Him is that you don't believe these ancient documents! Yet, missing components of the Tanakh are simply "accepted" as "real"!
Take the many "Annals of the Kings of Israel" (1 Kings 14:19 for example) none of which exist today! Judaism fully accepts that these scriptures are accurate, yet deny the scriptures which became the Brit Chadashah (New Tesatament). So stating "Yeshua has been rejected" as a Messiah, does not prove that He was not!
As to the next statement: "Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming. Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright; in the Bible no concept of a second coming exists" - we have shown above that whether or not there is a "second coming" in the Bible depends entirely on interpretation. Zechariah 9 & 14 clearly provide for the possibility that the prophecy of the Messiah is fulfilled at two different times. And what, exactly, is meant by "Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright"? Well, this is obviously Talmud! They are going to argue the primacy of Talmud! Talmud is the written discussion and commentary on the Mishna - men discussing the meaning of certain scriptures and concepts in the Tanakh! These "Jewish sources" are OPINION, not fact or proof of ANYTHING! Stating "Jewish sources [i.e., OPINIONS] show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright" in an attempt to deny the Messiah is another foul ball!
2) Jesus Did Not Embody the Personal Qualifications of Messiah
A. Messiah as Prophet
The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moses. (Targum - Isaiah 11:2; Maimonides - Yad Teshuva 9:2)
Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE. During the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews remained in Babylon, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets ? Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended, and thus could not be a prophet.
B. Descendent of David
Many prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5)
The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David (see Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father ? and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father's side from King David. (1)
According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, (2) nor will he possess supernatural qualities.
C. Torah Observance
The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4)
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), "He does not observe Shabbat!"
So the rabbi says: 2) Jesus Did Not Embody the Personal Qualifications of Messiah; A. Messiah as Prophet. The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moses. (Targum - Isaiah 11:2; Maimonides - Yad Teshuva 9:2)
(We are not going to comment on his reference to yet more Talmud, "(Targum - Isaiah 11:2; Maimonides - Yad Teshuva 9:2)" - more opinion. We already know that the Messiah would be the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moshe from actual scripture: Deuteronomy 18:15-19.) But the rabbi continues: "Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE. During the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews remained in Babylon, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets ? Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi."
If it is true that "prophecy had ended", then there CAN'T be a Messiah, or He must have already come! (Honestly, you should be aware that it is actually only a traditional interpretation that prophecy ended with Malachi. There is no statement at the end of his book or anywhere else in the Bible stating categorically that prophecy had ceased. The idea that prophecy has ceased is a rabbinic construct to try to explain the current state of Judaism. That's all.)
The statement "Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry" seems without foundation. There were no Jews in Israel when the Israelis left Egypt, yet Moshe is considered the most important prophet in Judaism! Zechariah and Haggai were both prophets at a time when Jews were still in exile and "most Jews" did not live in Israel. Prophecy seems to be controlled by YHWH, not whether or not all Jews live in Israel. So the statement is disingenuous at best.
Nevertheless, the rabbi continues: "Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended, and thus could not be a prophet."
But, as already stated, if this is true, and "prophecy ended", then there CAN'T be a Messiah at all, or He must have already come! Rabbis go on to argue that "prophecy will resume when the messiah comes", saying things like "… the Torah would sustain the people of Israel until the messianic era, at which point prophecy will resume." (Rabbi Hayyim Angel, 2011).
So if we believe the rabbis, then 1) prophecy ended so "Jesus" can't be a prophet, and 2) "The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moses".
Hmmm....no prophecy, yet the messiah will be a prophet. Is anyone seeing the conundrum here? In order to have this both ways, that "prophecy will resume when the messiah comes", it means that we must be able to "see" prophecy fulfilled in/by the messiah. How will we know that when the current teaching in Judaism is that prophecy ended?
Okay. Moving on. The statement: "The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history", combined with: "Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended, and thus could not be a prophet" completely negates the prophecies uttered by Yeshua! If you dismiss Yeshua as a prophet, then it does no good to read His prophecies, and if you do read His prophecies and conclude they are "not greater than Moses", then you only use that as further justification that He was not the Messiah because you have preconceived ideas of the "qualifications" of "greatness"! Nevertheless, neither statement demonstrates that Yeshua was not the Messiah. Assessing the "greatness" of Yeshua's prophecies is only opinion, as saying His appearance "after the end of the period of prophecy" negates Him as Messiah is also only opinion.
Next we find the rabbis denying Yeshua as Messiah because Yeshua could not have been descended from King David, since Yeshua had no human father:
"B. Descendent of David. Many prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5). The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David (see Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father ? and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father's side from King David. (1) According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, (2) nor will he possess supernatural qualities."
Taking that last statement first (i.e., "According to Jewish Sources..."), we are not going to respond to it because it is a reference, again, to Talmud and is opinion.
Let's continue with this statement: "The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David".
This is "sort of" true. It is true that eligibility for the Kingship must be male, and descended from the male bloodline of King David. Yeshua was both. Here is why the rabbis are wrong:
First, we agree that the genealogy in Luke is that of Yoseph and not of Mary. The rabbi says, in a footnote: "The third chapter of Luke traces Joseph's genealogy, not Mary's." He goes on to argue (correctly) that the Messiah must come from the Kingship of David through Solomon. But he goes to great lengths to argue that Mary is not qualified, listing four objections in his footnotes. But all four of objections are incorrect! Let's go through them:
a) There is no evidence that Mary descends from David. The third chapter of Luke traces Joseph's genealogy, not Mary's.
It is true that the third chapter of Luke is the genealogy of Yoseph (Joseph), Mary's husband. But what many fail to see, including 99% of all Christians, is that the first chapter of Matthew is the genealogy of Mary. (See explanation which follows).
b) Even if Mary can trace herself back to David, that doesn't help Jesus, since tribal affiliation goes only through the father, not mother. Cf. Numbers 1:18; Ezra 2:59. This is simply not true. Tribal affiliation goes through bloodline. While it is true that only males were counted (as in the the examples cited, Numbers 1:18 and Ezra 2:59), until a female marries a male from another tribe, she is of the bloodline of her father!
c) Even if family line could go through the mother, Mary was not from a legitimate Messianic family. According to the Bible, the Messiah must be a descendent of David through his son Solomon (II Samuel 7:14; I Chronicles 17:11-14, 22:9-10, 28:4-6). The third chapter of Luke is irrelevant to this discussion because it describes lineage of David's son Nathan, not Solomon. (Luke 3:31)
We completely agree that the 3rd chapter of Luke is irrelevant. But Mary's line is in Matthew 1, not Luke 3. The charge that "Mary was not from a legitimate Messianic family" stems from a complete lack of understanding of the genealogy in Matthew 1.
In Matthew verses 6 & 7 you find King David, and his son Solomon. Thus, the genealogy is the correct one, through Solomon. So the only issue is how this ties to Mary, and how it "validates" her as the legitimate descendant of Solomon so Yeshua could be the Messiah. We've actually covered this in several articles on The Refiner's Fire, for example here, but we'll repeat some of it again here:
Matthew 1:16, does not read “Joseph the husband of Mary” as most poor translations read, rather it is this: “Joseph, the guardian of Mary.” What's happening here is that the Greek translators failed to understand the Aramaic “gowra”, meaning “guardian” in the context, and instead translated it as “husband”, the error of which is simply carried forward in English. This means that the “Joseph” in Matthew 1:16 is the name of the guardian of Mary, not the “Joseph” who became her husband, who simply had the same name! Indeed, if one just continues reading in Matthew 1, Matthew goes on to say: “But Yosip [Joseph], her husband was just and did not desire to expose her, yet he was thinking in secret that he would dismiss her.”
Even Matthew understood that in verse 19 he needed to clarify that he was talking about “Joseph”, Mary’s husband, rather than “Joseph”, Mary’s guardian he was naming in verse 16, who was son of Jacob! By simply understanding the two genealogies, the charge that Mary was not from a legitimate Messianic family is rendered impotent.
Now the next objection is usually goes back to "bloodline". But now that we understand that Mary is of the bloodline of her father, who was of the bloodline of Solomon, and she was not yet married so the bloodline of her husband-to-be is irrelevant. Thus, Mary carried in her blood the authority of Yeshua to be the Messiah. Further, Torah carries within it a clause for the daughter to receive the right of inheritance when there are no sons. See Numbers 26 and 27, addressed in the article referenced in the 4th paragraph above..
d) Luke 3:27 lists Shealtiel and Zerubbabel in his genealogy. These two also appear in Matthew 1:12 as descendants of the cursed Jeconiah. If Mary descends from them, it would also disqualify her from being a Messianic progenitor.
Many try to use this argument. The problem with the argument is that since even the rabbis agree that the Messiah (whom they say is yet to come) must be of the bloodline of Solomon, if they argue Shealtiel and Zerubbabel disqualify any progenitor, then there can't be a Messiah! Period! So there must be a reason why the curses on Shealtiel and Zerubbabel don't affect the outcome. And there is...
Let's look at the actual curse:
"As I live" says the Lord, "even if you Coniah (meaning Jehoiachin; Coniah and Jeconiah are his cursed names) the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet upon My right hand, I would tear you off. And I will give you to the hand of those who seek your life, and to the hand of those whose face you fear, to the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and to the hand of the Chaldeans. And I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, to another country, where you were not born; and there shall you die. But to the land to which they desire to return, there shall they not return. Is this man Coniah a despised broken vessel? An object that no one cares for? Why are they cast out, he and his seed, and banished to a land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord." Thus says the Lord: "Inscribe this man childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah."(Jeremiah 22:24-30)
What are the conditions listed in the curse?
- Signet is removed as a sign of authority being taken away (he is no longer King of Judah).
- His name is changed.
- He will be childless.
- He would not prosper in his days.
- None of his offspring will prosper.
- None of his offspring would sit on the throne.
- None of his offspring would rule in Judah.
To evaluate the curse placed on Jeconiah, we must consider the different renditions of his name throughout the text. That is, cursed names are derogatory, by reversal and by shortening. Righteous men in the Tanach commonly have their names lengthened. The first time Jeconiah is mentioned is in the book of Kings which deals with his ascension while he was still righteous. His birth name is used in these verses (Jehoachin). (2nd Kings 24:6, 24:8, 24:12) In 24:15 the curse begins, and it is the last time we see this king's name mentioned or called by his birth name.
Moving forward, while the book of Kings speaks about this king using his birth name, the book of Jeremiah uses the shortened form of his name - Coniah. Jeremiah isn't discussing his ascension to the throne, he is discussing his exile. In these verses, which speak of the curse, the shortened forms of his name are used.
As we read in Jeremiah, the prophet never once calls him by his birth name except once - at the very end of his prophecy. The Torah tells us that we have a choice. A choice is given between life and death, good and evil. Hashem begs us to choose life. We see throughout the books of the Tanach that a negative prophecy can always be reversed through repentance.
The book of Jonah is the best example of this, where a cursed city repents after hearing the negative prophecy spoken against it. The curse is removed, not because God changed his mind, but rather because Ninveh chooses life. God puts the choice in front of us. A prophecy of good will not come to pass if those to whom it was given perform wickedly. God keeps his promises; He promised if we chose life, it will be good with us in our days.
Jeconiah languished in a dungeon in Babylon all the days of Nebuchadnezzer. He was imprisoned for 37 years. However, Jeconiah repented during that time according to Tanach, and according to the Jewish sages:
"And it came to pass in the thirty seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin King of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the twenty fifth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin King of Judah, and brought him out of prison, and spoke kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon, and changed his prison garments; and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life. And for his allowance, there was a continual allowance given him by the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life." (Jeremiah 52:31-34.)
Jeremiah restored his birth name. No longer is the cursed name used as in every other chapter of Jeremiah. Jehoiachin is forgiven. Let's examine those conditions of the curse discussed earlier to see if they still apply:
- REVERSED - He is once again called King of Judah, and his throne is set above the kings of all the other kings in the Empire. The signet ring is restored to his grandson upon return to the land of Israel. (Haggai 2:23)
- REVERSED - His name is restored to Jehoiachin.
- REVERSED - He does in fact have children. (1 Chronicles 3:16-17) His son's name is Shealtiel. Shealtiel means, "I asked of God." Jewish sages understand that Jehoiachin asked God to forgive him while in prison and that God indicated his forgiveness by annulling his curse and giving him sons. The Jewish sages also suggest that Zerubavel, his grandson, will be the progenitor of the Messiah.
- REVERSED - It is evident from 2nd Kings 25 and Jeremiah 52 that he did in fact prosper in his days.
- REVERSED - See No. 7.
- REVERSED - See No. 7.
- REVERSED - His grandson Zerubavel did in fact rule in Judah, and did prosper, and did sit on a throne, as is clear in the book of Zechariah. Zerubavel returned to Judah, and the captives who returned with him appointed him leader. Do you think that such great sages and prophets as Ezra, Zechariah, Haggai, and Daniel would forget about this curse and appoint a person who could never rule in Judah?
Next the rabbi says: "According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, (2) nor will he possess supernatural qualities."
Well, this is an indefensible statement. First, the reference is again to "Jewish sources", which if outside of scripture are OPINION. As to not possessing supernatural qualities, why would "Jewish sources" think this? Don't we find many times in the Tanakh, YHWH working through mere men? Moshe for example? Yet the ability of the Messiah to cast out demons and heal the sick is too much to expect or believe? YHWH even worked through plants (burning bush) and animals (talking donkey), yet how the Messiah acted, as described in the Brit Chadashah, is outside the norm of expectation of the "Jewish sources", so He could not possibly be the Messiah. I'm afraid we will simply have to agree to disagree on this one.
Next we tackle the charge that Yeshua somehow was not fully obedient to Torah: "C. Torah Observance. The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4) Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), "He does not observe Shabbat!""
This is a completely false charge! Yeshua, in fact, went out of His way to demonstrate the righteous and proper observance of Torah! If the learned rabbis truly think the activity and events in John 9:14-16 represents a violation of Torah, then we must question their knowledge and understanding of any part of the Torah! Nowhere in Torah is "healing" on the Sabbath prohibited! Aside from the fact that Yeshua performed a miracle, i.e., healing the blindness of the man, He did so in defiance of the RABBINICAL additions of such restrictions to Torah!
If the rabbis truly think that "healing" is prohibited on the Sabbath, and that Yeshua "broke Torah" by doing so, thus disqualifying Him as the Messiah, then what does a woman do when giving birth to a baby - and it's the Shabbat? Will the rabbis say "Stop, don't have that baby, you will be violating Shabbat!" Or perhaps, "Sorry, we can't help you. It's Shabbat and we can't minister to you on Shabbat." How about the commandment that a male baby must be circumcised on the 8th day (Leviticus 12:3)? The rabbis say it is perfectly okay to circumcise even if the 8th day is the Shabbat. But if the Messiah would not be permitted to heal on the Shabbat or He'd be disqualified as the Messiah, is this not a rabbinical "double standard"?
Truly, anyone who finds fault in Yeshua's actions or behaviors in the Brit Chadashah should repent and instead try hard to comprehend what was going on instead of concluding Yeshua was not qualified to be the Messiah based only on what they, themselves failed to understand!
People making these baseless charges really need to throw away their modern English New Testament and the many misunderstandings/misinterpretations and start over! Though this is but one example (the reference to John 9, above) rest assured, that in every case, when it looks like Yeshua is not or has not observed Torah, you can be sure it is your biased translation or your own misunderstanding that makes it look that way! And we dare say that if you are going to draw conclusions by misunderstandings in the Brit Chadashah, then you probably should not be reading and interpreting the Tanakh either!
3) Mistranslated Verses "Referring" to Jesus
Biblical verses can only be understood by studying the original Hebrew text ? which reveals many discrepancies in the Christian translation.
A. Virgin Birth
The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an "alma" as giving birth. The word "alma" has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as "virgin." This accords Jesus' birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.
B. Suffering Servant
Christianity claims that Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the "suffering servant."
In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews ("Israel") are regarded as one unit. Throughout Jewish scripture, Israel is repeatedly called, in the singular, the "Servant of God" (see Isaiah 43:8). In fact, Isaiah states no less than 11 times in the chapters prior to 53 that the Servant of God is Israel.
When read correctly, Isaiah 53 clearly [and ironically] refers to the Jewish people being "bruised, crushed and as sheep brought to slaughter" at the hands of the nations of the world. These descriptions are used throughout Jewish scripture to graphically describe the suffering of the Jewish people (see Psalm 44).
Isaiah 53 concludes that when the Jewish people are redeemed, the nations will recognize and accept responsibility for the inordinate suffering and death of the Jews.
The "virgin birth" thing always causes controversy! But since this article is already so long, please turn to our article about this, "Let's talk about "Almah"...". But if you are growing tired of reading, suffice it to know that whether "almah" means "young maiden" or "virgin", in Biblical times, a young woman was expected to be a virgin till she was married. So the argument is silly. We've shown that Mary was not married, and that she was of the proper bloodline, and she had a father from the proper tribe. So she was both a "virgin" and a "young woman". Knock yourself out arguing over the meaning of "almah"!
This brings us to the Isaiah 53 issue. Our learned rabbis have said that Isaiah 53 is about the people of Israel and not of the Messiah. But they also said, quote: "Isaiah 53 concludes that when the Jewish people are redeemed", the implication of which is that there is a redeemer because redemption requires a substitution - one cannot redeem themselves. So if we accept the learned rabbis interpretation that Isaiah 52 & 53 are about "Israel" and not about the Messiah, and that Isaiah 53 concludes with a redemption, then why does the the final verse of Isaiah 53 say "Therefore I will assign him a share with the great, he will divide the spoil with the mighty, for having exposed himself to death and being counted among the sinners, while actually bearing the sin of many and interceding for the offenders"?
Our rabbi would have you believe here that Israel dies for Israel, and Israel bears the sin of many [Israel], and that Israel intercedes for the offenders [Israel]. Hmmm. Again, nowhere in the Tanakh do you find that anyone, individual or nation, can redeem themselves.
But wait! The rabbis have a comeback! They will point out that YHWH is the redeemer! Now we are getting somewhere! See Isaiah 44:6 for example: "Thus says YHWH, Isra'el's King and Redeemer, YHWH-Tzva'ot: "I am the first, and I am the last; besides me there is no God." And Isaiah 47:4 "Our Redeemer! ADONAI-Tzva'ot is his name, the Holy One of Isra'el!" And we absolutely agree! YHWH is the redeemer! But....
How is redemption done? Redemption requires a substitution, a payment. How does YHWH substitute Himself for Israel? We'll leave that as an exercise for the reader. While you are pondering this issue, please recognize that individual unintentional sins can be forgiven by prayer and repentance as the rabbis rightly teach. But savings one's nephesh, one's "soul", has always required a substitution. See Life Eternal.
4) Jewish Belief is Based Solely on National Revelation
Throughout history, thousands of religions have been started by individuals, attempting to convince people that he or she is God's true prophet. But personal revelation is an extremely weak basis for a religion because one can never know if it is indeed true. Since others did not hear God speak to this person, they have to take his word for it. Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, they do not prove he is a genuine prophet. All the miracles show ? assuming they are genuine ? is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy.
Judaism, unique among all of the world's major religions, does not rely on "claims of miracles" as the basis for its religion. In fact, the Bible says that God sometimes grants the power of "miracles" to charlatans, in order to test Jewish loyalty to the Torah (Deut. 13:4).
Of the thousands of religions in human history, only Judaism bases its belief on national revelation ? i.e. God speaking to the entire nation. If God is going to start a religion, it makes sense He'll tell everyone, not just one person.
Maimonides states (Foundations of Torah, ch. 8):
The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of the miracles he performed. Whenever anyone's belief is based on seeing miracles, he has lingering doubts, because it is possible the miracles were performed through magic or sorcery. All of the miracles performed by Moses in the desert were because they were necessary, and not as proof of his prophecy.
What then was the basis of [Jewish] belief? The Revelation at Mount Sinai, which we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears, not dependent on the testimony of others... as it says, "Face to face, God spoke with you..." The Torah also states: "God did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us ? who are all here alive today." (Deut. 5:3)
Judaism is not miracles. It is the personal eyewitness experience of every man, woman and child, standing at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.
Anyone reading the above argument of "National Revelation" should see it adds nothing to the argument that Yeshua could not have been the promised Messiah. If what the rabbi is saying is true, that Judaism is "special" because their ancestors actually witnessed YHWH 3,300 years ago, then why does the "official" Bible of Judaism go past Deuteronomy? If all that needed to be known was spoken on Mt Sinai and subsequently handed down generation after generation, then why does Deuteronomy 31:28-30 find Moshe saying "Assemble for me all the leaders of your tribes and your officials, so that I can say these things in their hearing, calling heaven and earth to witness against them - because I know that after my death you will become very corrupt and turn aside from the way that I have ordered you, and that disaster will come upon you in the acharit-hayamim, because you will do what ADONAI sees as evil and provoke him by your deeds"?
Was it not enough that they got to witness YHWH speaking directly to them, and to simply pass on generation after generation the righteousness with which they were expected to conduct their lives? Evidently not! Even Moshe knew this! Indeed, all the rest of the Tanakh speaks of how sad YHWH was because His people turned from Him! But let's continue to address the statements by the rabbis:
But personal revelation is an extremely weak basis for a religion because one can never know if it is indeed true. Since others did not hear God speak to this person, they have to take his word for it. Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, they do not prove he is a genuine prophet. All the miracles show ? assuming they are genuine ? is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy.
Absolutely NO ONE has ever said that faith in the promised Messiah was a "religion" based on "personal revelation" or miracles performed and recorded in the Brit Chadahsah. What else could the rabbi have meant except that he did not think Yeshua's miracles would be becoming of the Messiah! It's a moot point because the Torah provides for two tests of a prophet: That what they say comes true, and that what they say is not against YHWH or encourages anyone to follow another god (Deuteronomy 18:22 and Deuteronomy 13:1-3). Of course, one of the problems with any prophecy is that if the prophecy is far into the future (as were many of the prophecies of Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Obadiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Haggai, and Malachi - all of which are accepted in the Tanakh without any argument), that all they had was "personal revelation"! But in the Brit Chadashah we have a set of ancient documents all of which record miracles performed by Yeshua, and record prophecies made by Him about the future ... but for some reason, we are not to believe them!
Indeed, we can completely agree that Judaism does not "rely on 'claims of miracles'", but are we really talking about "claims of miracles"? Or are we talking about what the miracles were for? Did YHWH have Moshe perform miracles to make Moshe look "great" or were the miracles to bring glory to YHWH? (Please tell us we don't have to provide a litany of scripture here to reveal what the miracles in the Pentateuch were for!)
Similarly, if you truly read and understand the Brit Chadashah, do you find that Yeshua performed miracles to bring glory to Himself, or to take people away from YHWH? Yeshua's miracles were for the same purpose as were Moshe's! Try to read what Yeshua did without bias and seek understanding instead of denial!
While we are quite aware of the power in the words of Maimonides, and the value he provides in his understanding of the Tanakh, it's rather shocking that the rabbi's words here would try to discredit Yeshua with the words of Maimonides! Maimonides, even in his time, was clearly completely misled by the horrible misconceptions and the many misinterpretations of the Brit Chadashah, which even Peter, long before Maimonides, writes: "And account the long suffering of Master YHWH to be redemption; as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom conferred on him, wrote to you; as also in all his letters speaking in them of these things in which there is something difficult to be understood; (and) which they who are ignorant and unstable pervert, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction." (1 Peter 3:15-16, AENT).
For if Maimonides could write: "You know that the Christians falsely ascribe marvelous powers to Jesus the Nazarene, may his bones be ground to dust, such as the resurrection of the dead and other miracles...." (Moses Maimonides' Epistle to Yemen: The Arabic Original and the Three Hebrew Versions, American Academy for Jewish Research, 1952, p. xvii.), he clearly had already been mislead by the interpretive errors of the writings of Paul, to believe that Yeshua was anything but a fully Torah-obedient representative of YHWH! Maimonides was clearly very biased if he writes of ANY Biblical figure "may his bones be ground to dust"! My goodness! Maimonides lived a thousand years after the events of the Brit Chadashah! "May his bones be ground to dust"! Maimonides discredits himself with his own words!
Sadly, many are, still today, mislead by poor translations and poor interpretations of the Brit Chadashah, only to conclude that Yeshua was not and could not have been the promised Messiah! But to argue that the Jews have some "national revelation" which defends Judaism and only Judaism by rabbinic interpretation, such that the qualifications of the messiah expressed in the accepted Jewish Tanakh could not possibly be met by Yeshua is simply another foul ball! After all, the crowd present at Mt Sinai consisted of something like 3-4 times the number of Jewish men who numbered about 600,000, were present, and the "revelation" was to ALL of them - Jew and Gentile alike - some 2-3 million people! So please don't hide behind the idea of "national revelation" making the Jews in possession of something unique! And please don't try to argue that what happened at Mt Sinai in any way negates the rest of the progressive revelation found in the Tanakh to negate the Messiah Yeshua in any way.
We certainly don't expect the argument to end here. But while we are playing this game of "he said, she said", let us agree on one thing. What did YHWH say?