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Mc Caul by ck4p0w


									               THE OLD PATHS

                                     BY ALEXANDER MCCAUL

                  (Excerpted from the London edition of 1844)


           Among all the religions existing in the world, there are
only two deserving of careful consideration, and they are both of
Jewish origin, and were both once confined exclusively to the
Jewish nation. They are now known by the names of Judaism and
Christianity; but it must never be forgotten that the second is as
entirely Jewish as the first. The founder of Christianity was a Jew.
The first preachers of Christianity were Jews. The first Christians
were all Jews; so that, in discussing the truth of these respective
religions, we are not contrasting a gentile religion with a Jewish
one, but comparing one Jewish creed with another Jewish creed.
           Neither in defending Christianity, do we wish to
diminish anything from the privileges of the Jewish people; on the
contrary, we candidly acknowledge that we are disciples of the
Jews, converts to Jewish doctrines, partakers of the Jewish hope,
and advocates of that truth which the Jews have taught us. We
are fully persuaded that the Jews whom we follow were in the
right--that they have pointed out to us the “old paths”, “the good
way”, and “we have found rest to our souls”. And we, therefore,
conscientiously believe, that those Jews who follow the opposite
system are as wrong as their forefathers who, when God
commanded them to walk in the good old way, replied, “We will
not walk therein”.
        But “Thus says the Lord, Stand you in the way, and see,
and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk
therein, and you shall find peace for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)


         The sages have said, “The fear of your Rabbi is as the
fear of God”. They endeavor to prove the validity of such an
extravagent claim by such passages as Exodus 16:8, “Your
murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.” But they
have taken for granted what they can never prove, and that is,
that every Rabbi is invested with the same office and authority as
Moses. But where, in all the law of Moses, is there any warrant
for such an assumption? Moses could with all propriety say, “Your
murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord,” for he held
a special commission from God, and had proved to the people the
reality of his commission by a series of miracles.
         But this the Rabbis never pretended to do.        In the
absense of such evidence, the advocates of Tradition flee for
refuge to Deut. 17:8 and following:

      “If there arise a matter too hard for you in judgement,
     between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and
     between stroke and stroke, being matters of
     controversy within your gates; then you shall arise, and
     get you up into the place which the Lord shall choose;
     and you shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to
     the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire, and
     they shall show you the sentence of judgement. And
     you shall do according to the sentence, which they of
     that place which the Lord shall choose shall show you;
     and you shall observe to do according to all that they
     inform you; according to the sentence of the law which
     they shall teach you, and according to the judgement
     which they shall tell you, you shall do; you shall not
     decline from the sentence which they shall show you to
     the right hand nor to the left.”

         Here, say the Traditionalists, is a plain and clear
unequivocal command. And there is no doubt, here God plainly
declares what is to be done in a difficult case. He commands the
Israelites to go to the place which the Lord chose, that is, to the
place where the Ark of the Covenant was to be found; and to
inquire, not of the Rabbis, but of the priests, the Levites, and the
judge. But this passage, instead of proving that “the fear of the
Rabbi is as the fear of God”, proves the opposite. It supposes
first, that the Rabbis and learned men may differ in judgement,
that there may be a controversy, and consequently that one party
may be in the wrong. This therefore, at once, effectively
overthrows Rabbinical infallibility.
          It shows secondly, that in a case of difficulty, the
Israelites were not to appeal to the Rabbis, but to the priests, and
to the judge, and even to them only in the place which the Lord
should choose. There is not one word said about Rabbis or the
sages, and, therefore, this passage completely destroys all their
lofty pretensions.
        The word Sanhedrin is Greek, and this would lead us to
believe that it was not instituted until some time after the end of
the Exile, and the Greek occupation of the Land, when the Jews
had become acquainted with the Greek pratices and tongue.
Hilchoth Sanhedrin c.ii.2 says:

           The command is, that there should be a great
     Sanhedrin, priests and Levites, for it is said, You shall
     come to the priests, the Levites. But if they find none,
     yea, though they all be mere Israelites, this is lawful.

According to this, the Sanhedrin was to consist of three classes:
priests, Levites, and Israelites. But Moses does not say one
word about there being Levites as distinguished from priests. He
does not say, “The priests and the Levites”, but simply, “the
priests, the Levites”, from which it is plain that he is speaking
only of that one class of the sons of Levi, who had the office of
the priesthood. Further, of Israelites, Moses does not say one
more word than he does of the Levites. Besides the priests,
Moses mentions none but the judge (not the judges), so that if
the judge was an Israelite, there could at the very most be only
one Israelite among those whom Moses designates as the highest
court of appeal in Israel. (And if the judge himself were also a
priest, then there would not be even one member of the court
who was not a priest). [Israel was for a time to be ruled by a
single judge, as was the case with Samson, and the others
enumerated in the book of Judges; just as Rome was at one time
ruled by two consuls, and some Canaanite cities were ruled by
two judges.]       But the Oral law says that even though the
Sanhedrin might not have even one priest among its number, yet
it is still lawful. Ergo, this court cannot be the same as that of
Moses, which says, “You shall come to the priests, the Levites.”
         Indeed, the sad perplexity of the rabbis to find out some
passage or other on which to base their own later invention, and
the desperate necessity which they felt of appealing to this
passage, proves to us most satisfactorily, that the Sanhedrin is
not a Mosaic institution at all. It is impossible that there could
have been two supreme courts of appeal--Moses’ court of priests,
and one other. Moses ordained a court to consist exclusively of
priests; the rabbis not only ignore this command, but actually
abrogated his institution, and set up another instead of it.(They
were probably enabled to do this in the time of confusion which
followed the Greek conquest.) The Sanhedrin was thus
established, not by the upholders of the tradition of Moses, but by
those who usurped it; and it was perpetuated by those whose
ambition led them to want to retain power in their own hands.

       But someone may say, that even if this passage does not
prove the authority of the Rabbis, does it not at least warrant the
Jews in continuing to reject the claims of Jesus, since he was
condemned by the priests, and in Jerusalem, the place which the
Lord chose? And we agree that this suggestion is plausible--but
we can easily prove that it is nothing more.
        In order to do this, we must first ask, whether the
command to abide by the sentence of the priests is, in every
case, and without any exception, binding? To this question there
are but two answers possible: Yes, or No. If the answer is No,
then it is admitted that the priests might sometimes be wrong;
and so, of course, it would then be possible that they had been
wrong about Jesus, and that their decision ought not to be
binding. But the answer could be Yes, the sentence is binding in
every case, and the command is not to deviate from it, either to
the right hand or to the left.
        In that case we would beg the reader to turn to Jeremiah
chapter 26, and to consider the case set before them. We find
there that the prophet had delivered a message from God, very
similar to Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem. We
find, further, that for this message the priests condemned
Jeremiah to death. “Now it came to pass. . . that the priests, and
the prophets, and all the people took him, saying, You shall
surely die.” We find, further, that this sentence was pronounced
“in the place which the Lord had chosen”, in the Temple itself.
“And the people were gathered together against Jeremiah in the
House of the Lord.” We find, further, that the sentence was no
rash sudden act, but the deliberate judgement of the priests. For
when the princes of Judah came afterwards to inquire into the
matter, “Then spoke the priests and the prophets to the princes
and to all the people, saying, “This man is worthy to die, for he
has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your
         Now, we must ask again, whether the people of Israel was
in duty bound to abide by this sentence, and not to deviate from
it, either to the right hand or to the left? We reply, that they were
not bound by this sentence, and that, if they had executed it,
they would have been guilty of murder, as Jeremiah himself
declares, “But know you for certain, that if you put me to death,
you shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon
this city. . . “ We infer, therefore, that it was possible for the
priests, assembled in solemn deliberation in the House of the
Lord, to err in judgement, and to pronounce an unrighteous
sentence. We infer, further, that in such a case the people was
not bound by this mistaken judgement, but that it was their duty
to deviate from it, both to the right hand, and to the left. And we
infer, lastly, that as the priests might mistake, and unjustly
condemn to death a true prophet, their sentence against Jesus of
Nazareth forms no more argument against the Messiahship of
Jesus, than the similar sentence did against the true prophetic
character of Jeremiah.
           But now it may be asked, if the judgement of the
priests was not infallible, and if men were sometimes justified in
refusing it, what was the meaning of the above commandment in
Deuteronomy? The answer to this is very simple. The priest that
stood to minister before the Lord had it in his power to inquire of
the Lord and to receive a direct answer from God Himself--whose
answer was, of course, infallible and universally obligatory,
without the possibility of exception. We find many examples in
which the Israelites availed themselves of this and inquired of the
Lord. But when the priests did not inquire of the Lord, their
judgement was only that of fallible men, and, therefore, not
binding on the people. Of this type was the sentence upon
Jeremiah. Being wicked men, they did not choose to ask the
counsel of the Lord, but pronounced sentence according to the
devices of their own hearts.

DEUTERONOMY                      13:       THE         FALSE

            The favorite Jewish objection to the claims of Jesus of
Nazareth is that passage at the beginning of the thirteenth
chapter of Deuteronomy:

                  If there arise among you a prophet, or a
     dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder,
     and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, and he
     says, Let us go after other gods, which you have not
     known, and let us serve them, you shall not hearken to
     the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams.
     The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether
     you really love Him with all your heart and with all your

            In citing this passage, the Jews take for granted that
the religion of Jesus is essentially different from that of Moses;
that it leads to the worship of strange gods; and that it is in fact a
species of heathenism; while the religion of the Oral Torah, which
they now profess, is utterly free of all heathen elements, and
identical with the religion of the prophets. All this they assume;
but the subject should be looked into.
         Our focus in this section will be to point out, in astrology,
yet another feature of heathenism. The Talmud and its doctors all
agree in asserting the influence of the stars over the fates and
fortunes of men. In the first place, the Talmud lays down these
general maxims:

                 Life, children, and a livelihood depend not
     upon merit, but on the influence of the stars. (Moed
     Katan, fol. 28, col. 1)

                 The influence of the stars makes wise, the
     influence of the stars makes rich. (Shabbath, fol. 156,
     col. 1)

But it also tells us the following:

                 He that is born on the first day of the week,
     will be a man excelling, but in one quality only. . . He
     that is born on the second day of the week will be an
     angry man. . . He that is born on the fifty day of the
     week will be a benevolent man. What is the reason?
     Because on it were created the fishes and the fowls. . .
     . He that is born on the sabbath, on the sabbath he
     shall also die, because on his account they profaned
     the great day of the sabbath. Rabba bar Rav Shila says,
     he shall possess an eminent degree of holiness.
     (Shabbath, fol. 156, col. 1)

Here is completely the heathen doctrine of fate. Not only the
external circumstances of fortune, but the moral qualities of the
soul are made to depend upon the day of a man’s birth. Whether
a man be profligate or holy, according to this doctrine, does in on
way depend upon himself, his own choice, or conscience, but
simply upon the circumstance of his birth happening on a
Tuesday or a Saturday. There is indeed a difference of opinion
among the doctors, as to the nature of this influence, but all
agree as to the fact, as may be further seen from the opinion of
R. Huna:

               These things do not depend upon the sidereal
     influence of the day, but upon the sidereal influence of
     the hour. He that is born under the influence of the sun
     will be a splendid man. . . he that is born under Venus
     (Nogah) will be a rich and profligate man. . . He that is
     born under Mercury (Kochav) will be a man of strong
     memory, and wise, for Mercury is secretary to the sun.
     He that is born under the influence of the moon will
     suffer much. . . if a thief, he will prosper. He that is
     born under Saturn (Shabthai) will be a man whose
     thoughts come to naught. . . he that is born under
     Mars (Maadim) will be a shedder of blood. . . Rabbah
     said, I was born under Mars. Abbai answered,
     Therefore you are fond of punishing and killing.
     (Shabbath, ibid.)

It is well-known that the ancient Greeks and Romans considered
Venus as the patroness of profligacy, Mercury as the god of
eloquence and learning, and Mars as the god of war, and behold!
here in the Oral Torah you have the very same doctrine.
          It will be countered, that the Talmud says that Israel is
not under the influence of the stars.

              Rabbi Chanina says, the influence of the stars
     makes wise, the influence of the stars makes rich, and
     Israel is under that influence. Rabbi Jochanan says,
     Israel is not under the influence of the stars. . .
     Because it is said, Thus says the Lord, Learn not the
     way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs
     of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
     (Jeremiah 10:2). The heathen, not Israel. . . Abraham
     answered [to God] , I have consulted my astrology,
     and am not fit to bear a son. God said, Go forth from
     your astrology, for Israel is not under the influence of
     the stars. (Shabbath, ibid.)

Now this passage, if taken in the most favorable light, proves
only that Israel is not under the influence of the stars; but this
exception proves to demonstrate that the Oral Torah teaches,
that all other nations are under that influence. According to this
doctrine, all the gentiles are given up to unchanging and
unalterable fate. A gentile thief or murderer is not so, because he
yielded to temptation, but because he happened to be born under
the influence of the moon, or Mars, or Venus. This is the religion
of the Oral Torah, and consequently God is represented as an
unjust judge, who punishes the gentiles for doing things which
the irresistible influence of the stars compelled them to do. This
doctrine is of itself sufficient to prove that the Oral Torah is not of
God, and that as a religion it stands level with heathen and pagan
systems of fate.
          The New Testament, on the other hand, recognizes no
such system, but represents God as a just Judge, “who will
render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). “There
is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned
without law, shall also perish without law; and as many as have
sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law.” (Rom. 2:11,12).
This is a view worthy of the Divine character, whereas the
astrological system of the Oral Torah, which represents God as
giving up all nations to the influence of the stars, is nothing short
of paganism and not at all akin to the doctrine of Moses and the
        Further, as Rashi tells us, Abraham and Sarah escaped
from their sidereal destiny only by changing their names.

              God said to Abraham, Go forth from your
     astrology, for you have seen in the stars that you are
     not to have a son. Abram is not to have a son, but
     Abraham is to have a son. Sarai is not to bear a child,
     But Sarah shall bear a child. I call you by another
     name, and thus the influence of the stars will be
     changed. (Com. in Gen. 15:5)

Here it is plainly intimated, and in the name of God himself, that
Abraham and Sarah were both under the influence of the stars,
and that if they had not changed their names, they never could
have had a child. This was evidently Rashi’s opinion. (And
perhaps some of the readers may even know of instances of
modern Jews who, led by this interpretation, have actually
changed their name, in the hope of bettering their luck.)
         And there are many other passages in the Talmud as
well, which refer to this belief in the power of the stars. And so
we see the influence that the Oral Torah has had in leading away
both learned and unlearned from the Word of God, and of
spreading among them, as a tradition from Moses, what is merely
one of the numerous errors of heathen idolatry.
          But where will you find in the New Testament any
warrant for such doctrines or wishes? The New Testament is
entirely free from all shadow and tincture of heathenism. Your
Oral Torah has taught you that the course of events depends
upon the stars. Jesus of Nazareth teaches that the ordering of all
events, even the minutest, proceeds from our Heavenly Father.
He says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of
them shall fall to the ground without your Father’s consent. But
the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matt. 10:29,30).
          Jesus of Nazareth, therefore, of whom you are afraid to
follow, lest he should lead you after other gods, directs all his
followers to the one living and true God, the Creator, Preserver,
and Redeemer of all things. Those men, on the contrary, who
crucified Jesus, have led you away from the doctrines of Moses
and the prophets to the doctrines of heathenism.

         But there is more. In treating of the virtues of amulets,
the following passage occurs:

             Rav Papa says, I am certain in the case of
     three amulets for three men; where three copies of one
     amulet have cured three times, then both the writer [of
     the amulet] and the amulet are approved. In the case
     of three amulets for three men, where each performs
     only one cure, the amulet is not approved. . . but Rav
     Papa asks, What is to be the decision when there are
     three amulets for one man? The amulet is certainly not
     approved, the writer may or may not be. Shall we say
     that he cured him? Or was it perhaps the influence of
     the stars, belonging to that man, that had an affinity
     for that which was written? That must remain
     undecided. (Shabbath, fol. 61, col. 2)

Here we have the influence of the stars again, and not in the case
of the heathen, but of the Israelites. The question, from which
this discussion about amulets arose, was whether it was lawful to
wear amulets on the sabbath day, a question concerning the
Jews, and them only. And in this question, then, we find the
doctrine of sidereal influence also included. But we also find
another doctrine which is equally startling, and that is, that the
Oral Torah sanctions the use of amulets or charms, as a cure for
or defense against sickness and other evils. What, is it possible,
that those Jews who think that their religion is the true religion
revealed by God to Moses, and whose chief objection to Jesus is
the fear lest he should lead them to strange gods--is it possible
that this people should still entertain the old heathen notion
concerning amulets? Yes, while the followers of Jesus of Nazareth
have learned from him to renounce this superstitious practice,
those schools of those scribes and teachers of the Oral Torah,
who crucified him, still teach the manner of making and using
         The Oral Torah sends sick men to seek help in amulets
and charms, but not to the God of Israel. Now what difference is
there between this and the conduct of Ahaziah? “He sent
messengers, and said to them, Go inquire of Beelzebub, the god
of Ekron, whether I shall recover of this disease. But the angel of
the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite,Arise, go up to meet the
messengers of the King of Samaria, and say to them, Is it
because there is not a God in Israel, that you go to inquire of
Beelzebub, the god of Ekron?” (II Kings 1:2,3)           When the
widow’s son was sick, Elijah did not give her an amulet; Elijah’s
trust was not in such heathen nonsense, but in the God of Israel.
When Hezekiah was sick, we read not that he sent for an
approved amulet, but that he turned his face towards the wall,
and prayed unto the Lord. Jesus wrought many miracles of
healing, but he never directed the people to amulets. His teaching
is, “Be not afraid, only believe”. (Mark 5:36).         This is the
doctrine of the New Testament, exactly agreeing with that of
Moses and the prophets, so that you need not fear that
Christianity will lead you to heathenism.

             It appears from the undisguised statements of the
New Testament, that the doctors and rabbis, the scribes and the
Pharisees, were the implacable enemies of Jesus of Nazareth, and
that they were the main concurring and assisting            in his
condemnation. The modern Jews consider this fact as a sufficient
apology for their rejection of his claims to the Messiahship. They
take it for granted that the great and learned men of that day
were also good men, and that they had valid reason for their
conduct. They think if Jesus of Nazareth had been the true
Messiah, that the Sanhedrin, the great Jewish council of the time,
would have acknowledged him, and conclude that, as they
rejected him, he cannot be the Messiah.
         But the great emphasis of Jesus was to show the people
the apostasy of their Oral Torah, and to lead the people back
from Tradition to the path of the Holy Scriptures. Was he right or
wrong? Which is more agreeable to the religion revealed by
Moses: the teachings of Jesus, or the teachings of the Oral law?
The failure of the scribes and Pharisees to follow after Jesus,
then, becomes a further evidence of the truth of the doctines
which he taught. For if the the transgressors of the Law of
Moses had followed after Jesus, then it must have cast a shade of
susupicion over the whole of Jesus’ work. But when such men
appear as the enemies and prosecutors of Jesus, it testifies that
he was not one of them.


            Let us consider the case of Moses. Very few, if any,
even of the most devoted friends of the Oral law, can imagine
that he has so many merits as Moses his master; and yet the
merits of Moses did not outweigh one apparently trifling
transgression. Because of one sin, he was sentenced to die with
the disobedient generation in the wilderness, and not permitted
to enter into the land of Israel. If Moses’ merits, then, could do
nothing for him, how vain must be the hope of others, who think
that, by abounding in good works and almsgiving for ten days,
they can turn the scale of God’s righteous judgement.
              Neither the law nor the prophets know of any
intermediate class between the righteous and the wicked. Those
who fulfill all God’s commandments belong to the one, and those
who transgress any of God’s commandments belong to the other.
let every man, then, examine his own heart and life, and it will
not require much time nor trouble to ascertain to which class he
              Cursed be he that confirms not all the words of
     this law to do them. (Deut. 27:26)

Moses holds out no hope, except to those who yield to a perfect
and universal obedience.
        But some will reply, if this be true, then no man can be
accounted righteous, on account of his deeds.

              For there is not a just man upon the earth,
     that does good, and sins not. (Eccl. 7:20)

We must come to the same conclusion as Job did:

             I know that this is true: but how should a man
     be righteous before God? If he will contend with him,
     he cannot answer him one time out of a thousand. (Job

Job did not think that his merits exceeded his sins, but knew well
that if God entered into judgement with him, he could not answer
even for the thousandth part of his transgressions. David, the
man after God’s own heart, had the same conviction, and had,
therefore, no wish that his merits should be weighed with his

            Do not bring your servant into judgement, for no
     one living is righteous before you.(Psalm 143:2)

And when Daniel prayed, he did not venture base his petitions on
the basis of his own merits, or to expect an answer on the basis
of his own righteousness, but cast himself simply on the mercy of

            We do not make requests because we are
     righteous, but because of your great mercy. (Dan.

How, then, can the modern Jews hope to stand before God, and
not only escape condemnation, but obtain a reward because their
merits exceed their sins? Are they more pure than Job, more holy
than David, more righteous than Daniel? Or were those three holy
men mistaken, or ignorant of the way of salvation? Certain it is
that there must be some mistake somewhere. Either the rabbis
were right, and then Job, David, and Daniel were in error, or else
these three men were right, and the rabbis are fearfully and
awfully mistaken.
       If the law requires perfect obedience, and pronounces a
curse against all disobedience, then the former were right in
seeking to cast themselves only upon God’s mercy, and not their
own merits. But if the law requires only that a man’s merits
should exceed his sins, and says that all deficiencies can be made
up by almsgiving and good works in the ten days between the
New Year and the Day of Atonement, then they were wrong.

              Among all the commandments, there is not
     one that is equivalent to the study of the law. Whereas
     the study of the law is equivalent to all the
     commandments; for study leads to practice. Therefore,
     study always goes before good deeds. (Hilchoth Talmud

         But what is to become of the poor laboring classes, who
have no money to buy righteousness with almsgiving, or to
purchase books, and no time for study, which is equivalent to all
the other commandments? For them to turn the balance is
impossible--they have not the means, and therefore, according to
the Oral Torah, they stand but a poor chance when the final
account is made up. This of itself would prove that the doctrine of
the Oral Law cannot be true. God is a righteous judge, and he
accepts no man’s money and no man’s learning. He takes no
bribes, and will not lodge judgement against the poor. The true
mode, therefore, of standing before God, must be some other
than that pointed out in the Oral Torah, and one by which the
poor sinner will stand on equal terms with his rich brother.
         When Jacob was on his death bed, he had another
hope. He could say:
              I have waited for your salvation, O Lord. (Gen.

He died in a foreign land, but he died happy, not trusting in his
own righteousness, but in the salvation of God. He had learned
by experience that man cannot deliver himself from mere
temporal trouble, but that even there God is his only refuge and
hope, and still more so in the hour of death and the day of

         But there is another possibility put forward by the
Traditionalists: perhaps the merit of the Patriarchs will prove
sufficient to obtain redemption also for their descendants. Many
prayers in the prayerbooks reflect this:

              . . Regard the merit    of your ancestors who
     were born on this day, and the   three barren ones, who
     were visited on this day;        justify, through their
     righteousness, those who hope    in You, O You, who are

              Attentively view the ashes of Isaac, heaped
     upon the altar; and remember this day his seed, his
     being bound on the altar.

And so on. Such passages show plainly that, after all, the rabbis
felt their own doctrine of justification by merits very unsafe
ground on which to build their hope of salvation; and that they
were glad to flee to merits of those more adequate, which they
hoped to find among their ancestors. But we must notice, that
the patriarchs, though we revere them as pious and holy men,
were after all only sinful men like ourselves. They did not, and
could not, save themselves by their own righteousness, and if
they did not save themselves, it is folly to think that they can
save us. Abraham, though by grace of God the father of all the
faithful, was yet himself so weak in faith, and so distrustful of the
goodness and mercy of God, as to endeavor to save himself from
the Egyptians by means of a deliberate falsehood. Sarah had so
little faith as to laugh within herself at the promise of God, and
then to defend herself with a lie. Isaac was guilty of similar
conduct, and Jacob’s sin in deceiving his brother plainly shows,
that he also was a poor sinful man. Where then are their
superabundant merits, with which they are to justify all their
posterity? The Word of God expressly says:

           No man can by any means redeem his brother,
     nor give to God a ransom for him. (Pslam 49:8)

How then are these three men to redeem all their posterity? If
they have such merits as can redeem their posterity, then the
Word of God is not true. But if the words of the Psalm are true,
then the patriarchs have no such superabundant merits, and
cannot offer a ransom for all their children, and any hope built on
their merits must fail. Moreover, whoever trusts in the merits of
another to deliver him is clearly trusting in man, and making flesh
his arm. If the merits of the patriarchs can save their posterity,
then God is not the Savior of Israel, but the patriarchs are Israel’s
redeemers. Yet the prophet says:

            Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and
     makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the

But it has pleased God to make the case even more clear than
this. In Ezekiel God says,

     “If a man be just. . . he shall surely live. If he beget a
     son that is a robber, a shedder of blood. . . shall he
     live? He shall not live. he has done all these
     abominations, he shall surely die; his blood shall be
     upon him. (Ezek. 18:5-13).

God sets the matter at rest, and declares that the righteousness
of a father is of no use to an unrighteous son, and cannot deliver
him from the punishment due for his evil deeds. The doctrine,
then, of justification by the merits of ancestors, is directly
contradicted in the plain declaration of God himself; and therefore
the Oral Torah teaches error when it instructs Jews to trust in
that which can do them no good.

       But every error must be built upon some truth for its
foundation, and it will be well to inquire what truth it was that
gave rise to this error of justification by the merits of ancestors.
It was certainly not the invention of human reason, for reason
can discover no connection between the merits of one righteous
man and the pardon of another who is guilty. A robber is not and
cannot be pardoned because another member of the community
is a good and righteous man.
       We must therefore look for the origin of this principle
elsewhere; and we find it in the revealed will of God. We see it in
the appointment of sacrifice and atonement, according to which a
guilty man was pardoned by the suffering of an innocent
(spotless) animal. Here is the example of the substitution of the
innocent for the guilty; and human reason, when it thus has the
foundation, can easily proceed to erect the rest of the building.
         In the present case, it can be naturally argued, that if the
death of a dumb animal could effect so much, how much more
would the merits of a righteous man avail, if such a one could be
found? The error, then, is not in the principle, but in its
application. According to the scripture, it is true that the innocent
may be substituted for the guilty; but the rabbis were wrong in
applying this truth to the case of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and
other men, who were only sinners just as themselves. The Word
of God, which gave the principle, also directs us to the right
application. It tells us of one for whose righteousness’ sake the
Lord will forgive sin:

                The     Lord   is well   pleased   for  his
     righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law and make
     it honorable. (Isaiah 42:21)
Who, then, is this person? The preceding verses tell us that it is
the servant of the Lord. Who, then, is this servant? Kimchi says,
on this verse, that it is the prophet himself; but this cannot
possibly be so, for the prophet was not righteous, but a sinner, as
he himself tells us in the sixth chapter --”I am a man of unclean
lips”. The servant mentioned in the nineteenth verse is the same
as he who is called My servant in the first verse of the chapter,
“Behold, My servant, whom I uphold, Mine elect, in whom My soul
delights. I have put My Spirit upon him. He shall bring forth
judgement to the gentiles. “ But here Kimchi says, “This is the
King Messiah, as we have interpreted.”
         If, then, in the first verse, “The servant of the Lord”
means the Messiah, it must mean the same thing through the
chapter, and the Messiah is the person for whose righteousness’
sake the Lord is well pleased.
          The same prophet tells us again, concerning this

              By his knowledge shall my righteous servant
     justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah

That the Messiah is meant here cannot be doubted by anyone
who uses the synagogue prayers; for on the Day of Atonement
and at Passover this chapter is applied to him. (See the Machsor
for the Day of Atonement.) Here, then, it is expressly stated,
that the Messiah, by his righteousness, shall justify the guilty.
And therefore, the prophet calls the Messiah “The LORD our
Righteousness”. (Jeremiah 23:6) Again, that the Messiah is
here intended there can be no doubt, for he is described as “the
righteous branch” of David, and thus all the commentators
explain it. In these three passages, then, of the Word of God,
sinners are pointed to the Messiah as their hope and their
righteousness. He is God’s righteous servant (a phrase never
elsewhere used in the scripture), and his sufferings and his merits
are all-sufficient to do that which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
cannot do. The great mistake of the Oral law is to point to wrong
persons, who have no righteousness, and almost totally to pass
by him whom God has set forth as the hope of sinners.

     And he shall make an atonement for the holy
     sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the
     tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and
     he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all
     the people of the congregation. (Leviticus 16:33)

      Now, this ordinance implies that all Israel, the high priest,
the priests, and the people, are all sinners, and all need an
atonement; and therefore utterly destroys the idea of justification
by merits. If Israel could have been justified by their own
merits, or by the merits of their forefathers, the solemn act of
annual atonement would have been unnecessary. But if this
atonement is necessary, then there is no room for the assertion
of human merits. But the truth is, as we have already seen, that
the rabbis felt that their doctrine was insufficient to quiet the
awakened conscience, and gladly fled to any refuge they could
discover; it is no wonder then that they have clung to the shadow
of that hope which was held out in the teachings of Moses. In
spite of their doctrine of merit, they are glad to have even the
appearance of a Day of Atonement to reconcile them to the
Almighty. It is true that they have no high priest and no sacrifice,
yet so convinced are they of the need of atonement, that rather
than confess that they have absolutely none, they teach that
repentance and the day itself will atone for all sin.

              At this time, when there is no Temple, and we
     have no altar, there is no atonement but repentance.
     Repentance atones for all transgressions, yes, even
     though a man be wicked all his days, and repent at
     last, none of his wickedness is mentioned to him, for it
     is said, “As for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall
     not fall thereby, in the day that he turns from his
     wickedness.” (Ezekiel 33:12) The Day of Atonement
     itself also atones for them that repent, for it is said,
     “For on that day he shall make an atonement for you.”
     (Lev. 16:30) (Hilchoth T’shuvah c.i.2)

This is the last refuge of Jewish hope, and we therefore propose
to consider whether it is a refuge on which a reasonable man may
hazard his hope of salvation. But in this statement we find that
one part contradicts the other part. It tells us first, that in this
present time, there is no atonement but repentance; and yet,
immediately after this, it adds, that the Day of Atonement itself
atones for them that repent. Yet if repentance alone atones for
all sins, then when a man repents, his sins are forgiven, and he
has no need of the Day of Atonement.
          But more than this, the statement contradicts the law
of Moses. If repentance atones for all transgressions, then the
atonement prescribed by Moses is useless, in fact, it was no
atonement at all. Moses says, that these two goats were
appointed by God for atonement, but here it is said that
repentance is in itself sufficient. If this be true, if repentance
alone can now atone without any sacrifice, why did Moses appoint
such a useless, and even cruel rite, as the taking away of the
lives of innocent animals? If repentance is sufficient now, then it
was always sufficient, and then it follows, that God commanded
what was worthless. But if the slaying of the one goat, and the
sending away of the other, laden with the sins of the people, into
the wilderness, was necessarily in former times to secure
forgiveness, then it must equally be so now; unless it is to be
asserted that God is an arbitrary master, who, to forgive sins,
requires at first one thing and then later another. Rambam
himself says:

            The goat that was sent away atoned for all the
     transgressions mentioned in the law, whether light or
     grave. Whether a man transgressed presumptuously or
     ignorantly, consciously or unconsciously, all was atoned
     for by the goat that was sent away, if a man repented.
     But if a man did not repent, then the goat atoned only
     for the light offenses. (Hilchoth T’shuvah)

We do not agree with the whole of this doctrine, but we cite it to
show, that formerly repentance was not a sufficient atonement
for sin, but that besides repentance, the goat, as appointed by
God, was also necessary. And we infer, that as an atonement,
besides repentance, was once necessary, it is necessary still,
unless the rabbis will affirm that God has changed his mind, and
abrogated the law of Moses. If repentance without any sacrifice is
now sufficient to procure forgiveness of sin, then beyond all
doubt, the law of Moses is abrogated or changed.
          But the Oral Torah attempts to prove its assertion,
through a citation from Ezekiel:

               As for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall
     not fall thereby in the day that he turns from his

And it might be further urged, that Ezekiel mentions repentance
only, and omits all notice of sacrifice and the Day of Atonement.
But the answer is easy. Either Ezekiel meant, in this declaration,
to repeal the law of Moses, or he did not. If he meant to repeal
the law of Moses, then the law is repealed, and a new way of
obtaining forgiveness, not taught by Moses, has been introduced,
and the whole Jewish nation is therefore palpably wrong in
adhering to that which is repealed. But if he did not repeal the
law of Moses, then he made this assertion with the implied
restriction which the law of Moses required; that is, he implied
the necessity of sacrifice; and then this passage does not prove
what the Oral law asserts.
          It is evident, however, that the rabbis were themselves
dissatisfied with their own assertion, for they immediately add to
it a second, “The Day of Atonement itself atones for them that
repent.” Despite the confidence of their assertion about
repentance, they did not feel at rest without some appearance of
an atonement, and as they had no priest and no victim, they say
that the day itself atones, and endeavor to prove this assertion
by a citation from Moses. But Moses did not say, “This day will
atone for you”, but he says, “On that day he (the priest) shall
atone for you.” Moses ascribes no value whatever to the day
itself, but only to the rites on that day to be observed, and the
person by whom they were performed. Moses prescribes first, a
high priest; secondly, a goat, whose blood was to be brought into
the Holy of Holies; and thirdly, a goat to be sent away; so that
without these three things the day itself has no virtue, and is
nothing different from the commonest day of the year. The
assertion about the day itself is only an invention of the rabbis,
and shows how deeply they felt the insufficiency of repentance
alone, and the necessity of a real atonement.
         But the rabbis always betray themselves by adding
something to make up for the deficiency, of which they are
aware. We have seen this in their assertion about merits, and so
we find it here in their assertion about atonement. They assert,
that “The Day of Atonement itself atones for the penitent”:, but in
spite of this, they have felt the need of something more; and
hence has arisen the custom of sacrificing a cock on the eve of
that solemn day.
           The Tradition is:

                  On the eve of the Day of Atonement. . . a
     cock is taken for a man, and a hen for a woman; and
     for a pregnant woman a hen and also a cock, on
     account of the child. the father of the family first makes
     the atonement for himself, for the high priest first
     atoned for himself, then for his family, and afterwards
     for all Israel. . .
                 While moving the atonement [cock] around
     his head, he says, “This is my substitute. This is my
     commutation. This cock goes to death, but may I be
     gathered and enter into a long and happy life, and into
     peace.” . . .
                  As soon as one has performed the order of
     the atonement, he should lay his hands on it, as the
     hands used to be laid on the sacrifices, and
     immediately afterward give it to be slaughtered.
           This    custom      proves   abundantly    the    internal
dissatisfaction of the Jewish mind with their own doctrines, and
the deeply rooted conviction of their heart, that without shedding
of blood there is no remission of sin. If they really believed that
repentance, or the Day of Atonement itself, or almsgiving, or
merits--either their own or their forefathers’--atoned for sin, they
would never have devised a custom such as this. But the spirit of
the Mosaic law has been remembered too well in the nation to
suffer the people to rest satisfied with anything short of actual
sacrifice; and as they have no high priest and no altar now, they
make a sad and desperate attempt to tranquilize the mind with
this invention.
          But should a man rest his hopes on this self-devised
sacrifice of a cock? God nowhere promises pardon to this
observance; and how can any man of sense be satisfied without a
sure promise of acceptance from God?
           How, then, is a Jew to obtain pardon for his sins? This
custom expresses the Jewish opinion as to the nature of sacrifice,
that the sins are laid upon the victim, and that the victim is
substituted for the guilty. Nothing can be plainer than the words,
“This is my substitute. This is my commutation. This is my
atonement.” It demonstrates further, that he who offers an
atonement for another must himself be free of guilt, for it
requires the father of the family first to atone for himself, and
then for those of his house. These are the recorded sentiments of
the Jewish nation, expressed not only in words, but embodied in
a solemn religious observance on the eve of their most sacred
season. By this act, the Jews declare that an atonement by
blood is absolutely necessary. the law of Moses makes the same
           Is it then likely, that the God of Israel would leave his
people without that which their hearts desire, and his law
declares to be necessary? Judaism says, Yes. It affirms, by an act
repeated every year, that sacrifice is necessary, and yet
confesses, in its solemn prayers, that they have none. It asserts,
therefore, that God has left them without that which is
indispensable to obtain forgiveness.
           Christianity presents a more merciful view. It does,
indeed, acknowledge the need of atonement, but it presents a
victim and a high priest, whose one offering is sufficient for the
sins of the whole world. It says, that God has left neither his own
people nor the gentiles without the means of forgiveness, but
sent his righteous servant, the Messiah, to bear our sins in his
own body on the tree. Our hope, then, is not in the cock, but in
the great atonement which God provided. And this hope is
involuntarily confirmed by the rabbis themselves in the very
custom we have just considered. Even the nature of the victim is
pointed out in the selection of the animal. “Gever” signifies both
“a man” and “a cock”, and thereby signifies, that a righteous man
must be the sinful man’s substitute; and so some of the rabbis
say, that this animal, the cock, was selected “because, as the
name signifies ‘a man’, there is a substitution of a man for a
man.’ (Orach Chaim, 605).


        Another common objection frequently encountered is that
the Christians have anthropomorphized God; that is, they have
made him seem too human. But let us examine what the Rabbis
have to say on this point.

                  The day has twelve hours. The first three,
     the Holy One, blessed be He, sits and occupies himself
     in the Torah. The second, he sits and judges the whole
     world. When he perceives that the world deserves utter
     destruction, he stands up from his throne of judgement
     and sits on his throne of mercy. The third, he sits, and
     feeds all the world, from the horns of unicorns to the
     eggs of the vermin. In the fourth, he sits and plays with
     Leviathan, for it is said, (Psalm 104:26), “The
     Leviathan whom you have formed to play therewith.”
     (Avodah Zarah, fol. iii, col. 2)

                Rabbi Eleazor taught, the night has three
     watches, and at every watch, the Holy One, blessed be
     He, sits and roars like a lion, for it is said, “The Lord
     shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his
     holy habitation; roaring, he shall roar upon his
     habitation.” (Jeremiah 25:30) (Berakoth 3a)

           Rabbi Isaac ben Samuel says, in the name of
     Rav, The night has three watches, and at every watch
     the Holy One, blessed be He, sits and roars like a lion,
     and says, Woe is me that I have laid desolate my
     house, and burned my sanctuary, and sent my children
     into captivity among the nations of the world.
     (Berakoth, fol. iii, col. 1)

      Now we ask every reasonable man whether this is a
representation worthy of the Creator of heaven and earth? We
are told here, first, that God is like a man in observing day and
night--that he has set times for different employments, and a
time for amusement. We are told, secondly, that instead of
comprehending all things past, present, and future, at all times,
and instead of upholding all things, that he is obliged to consider
each thing in succession; and that, like a poor frail child of man,
he can only do one thing at a time. And thirdly, we are informed
that the Divine Being sits all night, and mourns like a child, over
an act which he rashly committed, but now wishes to have
undone. Is this a fit representation of the Deity, or it is an awful
      How different is the description given by the religion of
Moses--”Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all
generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever
you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to
everlasting, you are God. A thousand years in your sight are but
as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (Psalm
90:1-4). And again, in that other beautiful passage of the
Psalmist, “Of old You have laid the foundations of the earth, and
the heavens are the work of your hands. They shall perish, but
you shall endure. . . you are the same, your years have no end.”
(Psalm 102:25-27).
         In both these passages, unchangeableness, entire
freedom, is presented as the prominent feature in the character
of God. Whereas, the God whom the rabbis describe, is a being
subject to the same changes as ourselves, and also subject to
change in its worst form, that is, to that change of will which
comes after disappointed expectations. They say, that their God
destroyed his Temple and sent his children into captivity, and that
now he is very sorry for it, and vents the bitterness of his grief in
lamentations compared to the roaring of a lion. Such a deity is no
more like the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob than Jeroboam’s
calves.    He may not be graven as an image, but he is
nevertheless as false as one, a false image of the imagination.
        And yet on this very point, where the Oral law errs so
grievously, Christianity maintains the truth. He New Testament
declares, “Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no
variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
        But the rabbis falsely ascribe to God not only variableness,
but imperfect knowledge, also. They say, that He spends a forth
part of the day in the study of the law. Now, either God knows
the law, or he does not. If he does know the law, then study is
useless; and if he does not, then his knowledge is imperect, and
either supposition is altogether unworthy of the Deity. We put it
to the good sense of every Israelite, and ask him whether he can
believe that the God of all knowledge studies his own law? Is not
such an assertion a blasphemy? And does it now demonstrate
that those who made it were themselves devoid of all true
knowledge of God?
        But some will say, that the words are not meant to be
taken literally, and that the rabbis employed oriental imagery.
But this will not save the credit of the Oral law. No man that has
any reverence for his Creator would venture to use such
language. But further, if these passages are figurative only, then
what is their real meaning? What is meant by studying in the law,
or playing with Leviathan? Or uttering complaints at the
beginning of every watch in the night? Or what is intended by
ascribing to God one sort of employment in the day and another
in the night? It is not enough to say that these are all figures
conveying the most profound wisdom; this assertion must be
proved by showing what this wisdom is. Let the Traditionalists
explain these figures satisfactorily, and they will then have some
chance of being believed. But it is a certain fact that many of the
rabbis have understood these and similar passages literally. In
the commentary on the assertion, “That in the second hour God
sits and judges the world”, we are told, that some believed this
so firmly as to think that on this very account the additional form
of prayer, called Musaf, was prescribed:

              Some say, that this account the words, “Let
     him turn from his place”, have been appointed in the
     sanctification of the Musaf, for this part of the prayer
     generally occurs in the second three hours, when he is
     sitting in judgement, and that we pray that he may
     turn from the throne of judgement, and sit on the
     throne of mercy.

And consider the included anecdote told by R. Jose. He recounts
that he once went into the ruins of Jerusalem to pray, and that
while there, he met the prophet Elijah, who very civilly waited for
him to finish his prayers. Afterwards, they spoke:

                  And he [Elijah] said to me, What sort of a
     voice did you hear in the ruin? I said to him, I heard a
     Bat Kol [Voice from heaven] cooing like a dove, and
     saying, Woe is me, that I have desolated my house,
     and burnt my sanctuary, and sent my children into
     captivity among the nations. And he said to me, by
     your head and your life, it is not at this hour only, but
     three times every day the Voice says these words.
     And not only so, but when the Israelites enter the
     synagogues, and the houses of study, and say, “Amen,
     may his great name be blessed”, the Holy One, blessed
     be He, shakes his head, and says, “Blessed is the King
     who is praised in his house; but what profit has the
     father who sends his children into captivity. .”
     (Berakoth 3a)

      Here we have the testimony of R. Jose that God does indeed
complain in the manner described above, and we have the
Prophet Elijah swearing that this happens three times every day.
It is plain, therefore, that the authors of the Talmud knew of no
mystical interpretation and intended none. It was their simple
belief that God observed the three watches of the night. This one
passage is quite enough to show that the rabbis were utterly
ignorant of the nature of God, and that they ignored the real
meaning of their own scriptures.
       But there is another feature in this passage which has to be
explored. R. Jose says that when he went into the ruin to pray;
suppose he fell asleep, and dreamed that he heard the Bath Kol
and had this conversation with Elijah. But either supposition will
equally destroy the credit of the Talmud. If it be a lie, it is one of
the most profane lies imaginable. We have here a professed
teacher of the law telling not only a falsehood, but daring to
assert that he heard the voice of God mourning over the ruins.
This introduces God himself into the lie and trifles with his
character. On the other hand, if R. Jose mistook a dream for
reality, then what shall we say of a religion whose teachers tell
their dreams as sacred truths? And what shall we say of the
compilers of the Talmud, who were unable to detect the folly and
profanity of this narrative, and actually inserted it into their Oral
law as an undoubted fact? This supposition may save R. Jose
from the unhappy description of a liar, but it will not do much
towards proving the truth of the Talmud; for there it is not given
as a dream, but as a fact.
        We do not mean to ascribe any particular degree of folly to
the rabbis. Persons calling themselves Christians have been just
as foolish, have believed stories just as absurd, and have handed
them down as religious truths. But then, we did not receive these
legends as part and parcel of our religion. We are as free to say
of them, as of the Talmudic fables, that they are wicked
falsehood. But some modern Jews would tell us that the Talmud
is a divine book--that it contains their religion, and that without it
Moses and the Prophets are unintelligible; and therefore we point
out these fables as plain proofs of the falsehood of such an
assertion. We wish to direct the Jewish attention to that system
which they have called their religion for the last eighteen hundred
years, and which they have preferred to Christianity.
         The god of the Talmud is certainly not the God of the
Bible, but rather a strange god, invented by the imagination of
the rabbis. Israelites are often shocked at the folly and
wickedness of those whom they see falling down before sticks
and stones; and yet, if they receive the Oral law, and believe in a
Deity who plays with Leviathan, then the object of their worship
is not a bit more rational. It is, then, a most melancholy sight,
to behold the nation, which was once the sole depository of the
truth, now enslaved by a system so senseless; but it is more
melancholy still, to think that there are among them so few who
would undertake to denounce its falsehoods and to seek to
vindicate the truth as taught by Moses.


        Rambam says, “All Israel, and the greatest of their wise
men, imagined him [Bar Kochba] to be the Messiah”, and we
know that the famous Rabbi Akiva was among them. Here, then,
we have practical proof that the judgement of those rabbis, who
rejected Jesus, was not to be relied upon. If they had succeeded
in their efforts, they would have taught all Israel to believe in an
impostor; instead they were destroyed after following after a
false prophet. And yet these are the men who have handed down
the Oral law, and compiled the precepts of the Rabbinic religion;
men, whom we are told, were the followers of a false prophet and
the dupes of an impostor. How should one follow a system
which has such men for its authors, men who seduced thousands
and tens of thousands of Israel to plunge themselves into ruin? If
Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues had not championed the cause of
Bar Kochba, he could never have succeeded in deluding such
numbers of Israelites; they, therefore, must share responsibility
for the calamity which followed.
          Israel remembers that prior to the destruction of the
first Temple, the learned and unlearned of the nation rejected the
true God and turned to dumb idols. There can be no greater folly
and wickedness than to reject God and worship a stick or a stone;
but of this Israel had been guilty; and because of this sin the first
Temple was destroyed.
         Were the priests and the people of the second Temple
better and wiser than those of the first? If this be true, then why
was the second Temple destroyed? Why were those who were so
much wiser and better punished with a more dreadful punishment
than those who were so much more foolish and wicked? If we are
to judge the comparative wisdom and piety of the two by the
measure of punishment, then we must say, that the idolatrous
priests and people of the first Temple were a great deal wiser and
better than the priests and people of the second Temple, for the
former escaped, after a captivity of seventy years, while the
latter exile lasted many centuries. The tremendous nature of the
punishment would show, that the priests and people who rejected
Jesus were more wicked than their idolatrous forebearers, and if
so, then their testimony against Jesus is of no value.


       To prove the genuineness of the Oral Torah, it is
necessary not only to point out a succession of persons, but a
succession of Sanhedrins, for, as we have seen, the Sanhedrin
was regarded as the foundation and the pillar of tradition. If a
single chasm in history exists, where a Sanhedrin cannot be
pointed out, then the claims of the Oral Torah are invalidated,
and the Jewish nation is seen as the victim of a pious fraud, or
else the unwitting dupes of an imposture. Now we have already
seen that the Sanhedrin was not instituted by Moses, and was
never heard of until after the Greek conquest of Israel. From
Moses to the Maccabees there is one continuous chasm, an
immense and impassable abyss, which separates the two. But
was the rabbis have endeavored to fill up the yawning gulf, or
rather to build a bridge in the air for the purpose of passing it, we
think it necessary to examine the results of their efforts.
         They say, that a chain of testimony, such as is wanted,
actually does exist, and have tried to point out its various links. If
this proves erroneous, then the last and only hope of Traditional
Judaism is gone; and to prove the error does not require much
argument. The chain of testimony as pointed out by the rabbis is
inconsistent with history, and lacks continuity even at the very
start. The first part of the succession is described:

            Although the Oral law was not written, Moses
     our master taught it all in his council to the seventy
     elders; Eleazor, also, and Phinehas, and Joshua, all
     three, received it from Moses. But to Joshua, who was
     the disciple of Moses our master, he delivered the Oral
     law, and gave him a charge concerning it. In like
     manner Joshua taught it by word of mouth all the days
     of his life; and many elders received it from Joshua,
     and Eli received it from the elders, and from Phinehas.
     (Preface to Yad Hachazakah)

      Now here the want of continuity begins, immediately after
the third link in the chain. That Joshua should inherit the Oral law
is very likely, if there was any to be inherited, but who was
Joshua’s successor? The rabbis cannot tell us.It is not enough to
say that the elders received it from Joshua; who were the elders,
and who was the next president of the Sanhedrin, and who was
the president after that? To make out a chain of witnesses, we
must at least have their names, but ought to know, besides, their
character, their piety, their probity, before we can depend on
their testimony. The absence of this detail shows that the rabbis
had no information on the subject, and were merely trying to
make up a story to impose upon the credulous. It is self-evident
that if they had possessed any accurate detail, they would have
given it; but as they do not, we must infer that they did not have
it; and as the scripture gives no information on the subject, we
must assert, that the chain of testimony ends at the second link.
           So far, in fact, are the rabbis from being able to prove
a succession of Sanhedrins from the time of Joshua to their own,
that they are compelled to make a grand leap from Joshua to Eli,
and thus to leave a chasm of more than two hundred years,
which of itself is sufficient to overthrow the claims of the Oral
Torah. It is true that the rabbis attempt to close up this great
cavity with a large falsehood. They say that Eli received the Oral
law from Joshua’s elders, and from Phinehas; which assertion
implies that all these persons lived to be about three hundred
years old. And yet, even if this were true, it would not be enough
to seal up the gap. For from the book of Judges it appears, that in
the interval between Joshua and Eli, the people forsook the law of
Moses and gave themselves up to idolatry. Thus we read, “And
Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died. . . And also
all that generation were gathered to their fathers; and there
arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord,
nor the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of
Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim.”
(Judges 2:8-11).
          Now, here the scripture says that Joshua and all that
generation died; and further, it says that the Israelites turned
aside to idols. Where was the Sanhedrin at that time? Why did it
not stop the torrent of corruption, and punish the transgressors?
And why was it necessary for God to raise up judges to do the
Sanhedrin’s work? We do not once read of the Sanhedrin, or any
other council, helping Israel. Indeed, the saying so often repeated
in the book of Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel,
but every man did what was right in his own eyes,”shows that
there was no Sanhedrin either. If any council of the kind, armed
with such despotic power, had existed, the children of Israel could
not have done what was right in their own eyes. Whether then
we look at the Bible or at the Rabbinic account, we have a period
of more than two hundred years, during which there is no
evidence at all either for the existence of the Sanhedrin or of the
Oral law. The chain of testimony, therefore, offered by the rabbis,
is not complete; and is, moreover, unworthy of credit, as it
contains a gross error concerning the age to which Joshua’s
elders lived. But a little more examination is necessary: After
telling us that David received the Oral law from Samuel and his
council, we are told:

              Ahijah the Shilonite was one of those who came
     out of Egypt, and a Levite, and he heard the Oral law
     from Moses; but he was little in the days of Moses, and
     received the Oral law from David and his council. And
     Elijah received from Ahijah the Shilonite and his

          Now, in the first place, this statement is very absurd. To
suppose that one who had heard from Moses should at last
receive it from David, is not only contrary to the probability; but
to assert that Ahijah was a little boy in the time of Moses, and
that he lived until the reign of Solomon, or for more than five
hundred years, is manifestly a falsehood. But this Rabbinic chain
of testimony goes on to tell us that, among other things, the Oral
law passed through Jeremiah the prophet:

              Jeremiah received from Zephaniah and his
     council, and Baruch the son of Neriah received from
     Jeremiah and his council.

        Now, if this means that Jeremiah was the Nasi, or
president of the Sanhedrin, it is plainly false. The whole history of
Jeremiah shows us that he was not the powerful head of a
despotic and irresistible council, but an unprotected and
persecuted man. Had he been president of a tribunal so dreadful,
and whose sentence of excommunication was in itself sufficient to
protect him, the people and the princes would never have dared
to reject his words as they did, much less to make an attempt on
his life.
          But the purported chain of evidence is even inconsistent
with the Oral law itself, for it asserts that two proselytes form a
part of the chain of transmission:

              Shemaiah      and   Abtalion, proselytes  of
     righteousness, and their council received from Judah
     and Simon and their council. Hillel and Shammai and
     their council received from Shemaiah and Abtalion and
     their council.

          Now, according to the Oral law, it is unlawful for
proselytes to be members of any council or tribunal. Respecting
the Sanhedrin, it is expressly said:

                   None are to be made members of the
     Sanhedrin except priests and Levites, and Israelites of
     so good a genealogy as to be fit to intermarry with the
     priests; for it is said, “And they shall stand there with
     you”. (Numbers 11:16), i.e., like you in wisdom, piety,
     and in genealogy.” (Hilchoth Sanhedrin c.ii.1)

And even of a lesser tribunal it is said:

                  A tribunal of three, one of whom is a
     proselyte, is unlawful. (Ibid. 9)

              If, then, it was unlawful for a proselyte to be a
member of the Sanhedrin, or any other tribunal, how is it that we
find two at the head of one of those councils through which the
Oral law was transmitted? If the decisions of the Oral law be
valid, that council was illegitimate, and therefore totally
incompetent to the transmission of tradition.
           The sum of what we have said is this: that even if we
were to give up our other arguments against the authority of the
Sanhedrin and the Oral law, the defectiveness, inconsistency, and
falsehoods manifested in the testimony of the rabbis about their
Tradition would be sufficient to throw discredit on all these
claims. They have not only no proof from scripture, but are not
able themselves to find an unbroken chain of testimony. They fail
at the very outset.

            The Sanhedrin was merely the engine, whereby the
rabbis hoped to get all the power, both of Church and State, into
their hands; and this strikingly distinguishes the rabbinical
religion from that of Jesus of Nazareth:

                 When he perceived that they would come
    and take him by force to make him a king, he departed
    again into a mountain himself alone. (John 6:15)

                 “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John

                  “You know that they which are accounted
    to rule over the gentiles exercise lordship over them;
    and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But
    it shall not be so among you. But whoever wants to
    become great among you must be your servant, and
    whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For
    even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to
    serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark

          The teachers of the Oral law had, and even now have, a
temptation to uphold its doctrines, because they make them the
absolute rulers of the Jewish people; and this very fact must
create    a strong ground of suspicion. The doctrine of the
Sanhedrin reveals but too plainly the motives by which the
authors of the Oral law were moved. Were Moses to come among
them, he could never recognize them as his disciples. He would
not find among them one of his institutions remaining as he leff
            Of course we do not mean to ascribe the same
motives to all the advocates of the Oral law in the present day.
Our object is not to condemn modern Jews, but to open their
eyes to a true view of that system by which they have been so
long led into error. And if they should then ask, where is the truth
to be found, we reply, in Moses and the Prophets.
          The only real obstacle in the way of a Jew’s receiving
Jesus as the Messiah, is the prejudice that his fathers, who
rejected him, must have been in the right; and this obstacle we
are endeavoring to remove. Jesus was not condemned by the
friends of Moses, but by his enemies.
          Jesus    showed      a    scrupulous    regard   for   the
commandments of Moses. Concerning the priests, for instance,
when he healed the leper, he said to him, “Go your way, show
yourself to the priests, and offer the gift that Moses commanded.”
And this conduct is perfectly conformable to the professed object
of Jesus, which was to vindicate the authority of the Torah
against the unauthorized additions of men. He professed himself
the defender of the Mosaic law, and opposed the whole system of
the Rabbinists, on the ground that they made it void with their
traditions. Jesus never opposed the priests, never interfered with
their office, never diminished anything from their authority. In
these most important respects, Jesus is thusly more in accord
with the law of Moses than are the Pharisees, who have forcibly
alterted that law, and have themselves unlawfully taken over the
office and rights of the priests by establishing the Sanhedrin.
        The religion of Jesus was persecuted, not by those who
conscientiously kept Moses’ commands, but by those who had
first defaced every feature of the Mosaic law. The men who
condemned Jesus were the usurpers of an authority which Moses
gave to others. Those Jews of the present day, then, who
approve of the condemnation of Jesus, unite with the enemies of
Moses; but those who are lovers of the Mosaic law must approve
the efforts of Jesus to deliver it from the corruptions of ambitious
men. An unlawful tribunal condemned him for doing what every
faithful adherent of Moses must acknowledge to be right.
Whether, then, they acknowledge him as the Messiah or not, they
must confess that he died a martyr to his zeal for the law of
Moses, and they are, therefore, bound to reconsider his claims.
Jesus was put to death, not because he violated the Mosaic
precepts, but because he reproved others for their
transgressions--not because he sought to overturn the religion of
Moses, but because he resolutely defended its truth against those
who were introducing a new religion upon its ruins.

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