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What’s the Difference? JUDAISM A BRIEF HISTORY 1. The COVENANT Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 2100 B.C.), Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) Joseph and the migration to Egypt (1871 B.C.) Judaism had its origin when a man named Abram received a divine call from the one true God to leave his idolatrous people in ―Ur of the Chaldees‖ and go to the land of Canaan. This call is recorded in Genesis 12:1-3. The promise made to Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham, included the fact that his descendents would inherit a land which would belong forever to them. This covenant was repeated to Abraham‘s son Isaac and likewise to Isaac‘s son Jacob. The family of Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel, migrated to Egypt to escape a severe famine. They were soon enslaved and forced to build mighty cities for the pharaoh. During the years of bondage they continually cried out for a deliverer. 2. The EXODUS Bondage in Egypt and deliverance through Moses (1441 B.C.) The Law God eventually raised up a man from among His people to deliver them out of the bondage of Egypt; his name was Moses. Moses led the children of Israel in the exodus from Egypt through the miraculous power of God, which included parting the Red Sea to allow them to escape from the Egyptians. Because of unbelief, the people did not immediately enter into the land but wandered in the desert for 40 years. It was during this time of wandering that God gave the Law, including the Ten Commandments, to Moses. 3. The PROMISED LAND Joshua, the judges, and the kings: Saul, David, Solomon The temple built Israel divided into two kingdoms: southern, Judah; northern, Israel (927 B.C.) Under the leadership of Moses‘ successor, Joshua, the Jews entered into the Promised Land but had to conquer the inhabitants before settling down. After Joshua, the nation of Israel was governed by judges for 350 years. During this time they were engaged in numerous battles with the neighboring nations, falling in and out of subjugation to those nations. After the time of the judges, the Israelites pleaded with God (through the prophet Samuel) for a king to rule them. Although it was not God‘s desire, He gave them their first king, Saul. Saul did not follow the Lord but almost ruined the nations of Israel. When he died, he had been abandoned by the people and by God. David, called a man after God‘s own heart, and divinely appointed to lead the nation, was the second king. He conquered Jerusalem and established it as Israel‘s capital. David‘s son Solomon, upon becoming king, built a magnificent temple to the Lord. During the reign of Solomon, Israel prospered greatly, becoming a leader of nations. Upon the death of Solomon, the nation was divided into two kingdoms, the southern, known as Judea with Jerusalem as its capital, and the northern kingdom of Israel, of which Samaria became the capital. 4. The CAPTIVITY The Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom in 721 B.C. The Babylonians conquered the southern kingdom in 606 B.C.; temple destroyed Synagogues and rabbis become important Both the northern and southern kingdoms were constantly threatened by other nations and each eventually was overcome. The Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom in 721 B.C. and the Babylonians defeated the southern kingdom in 606 B.C. When the southern kingdom was captured, Solomon‘s temple was destroyed. During the years the southern kingdom was in exile (606 B.C. to 536 B.C.), changes took place with regard to Jewish worship. Since the temple could not be used as a central place of worship, houses of prayer, called synagogues, were established. The teacher of the synagogue, known as the rabbi, grew in importance to the Jewish people and simultaneously the priests lost importance. By the time the Jews returned to their land, the synagogue had become firmly established as the place of worship (but not sacrifice). 5. The RESTORATION Jerusalem and the temple rebuilt Greek culture dominates (Hellenism); OT translated into Greek (Septuagint, LXX) During the period of the restoration, the Jews became exposed to Greek culture (Hellenism) when Alexander the Great conquered the world (336-323 B.C.). The Greek influence was so strong during this time that many Jews no longer understood biblical Hebrew. Aramaic and Greek became the dominant languages in Palestine. During the period the Old Testament was translated into Greek (this text is commonly called the Septuagint, abbreviated as LXX), for the benefit of those Jews who did not read Hebrew. 6. The REVOLT Antiochus IV Epiphanes Rebellion led by Judas Maccabeus resulting in Jewish independence (167 B.C.) The people soon became part of the Syrian Kingdom, and when one of the kings, Antiochus IV Ephiphanes, tried to suppress the Jewish religion, the people revolted. In 167 B.C. a rebellion led by Judas Maccabaeus resulted in the independence of the Jewish nation, celebrated to this day by the festival of Hanukkah. 7. ROMAN RULE Israel made a state of Rome (63 B.C.) Christ born (possibly 4 B.C.) Roman general Titus destroys Jerusalem (70 A.D.) Jews scattered The independence was short-lived because the Roman general Pompey made Israel a vassal state of Rome in 63 B.C., placing puppet leaders over the people. Rome dominated the people and the land, causing unrest and rebellion among the people. The Roman general Titus destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., scattering the inhabitants. Several rebellions arose after than in an effort to reconquer the land, the last being the Bar Kokhba Rebellion (A.D. 132-135). 8. Later History Jews seen as an accursed race by the Catholic Church Jews persecuted (example: the Holocaust of WWII) Jews regain an independent homeland in Palestine (1948) When Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire (325 A.D.), the Jews were seen as an accursed race and the center of Jewish life soon moved to Babylonia, a non-Christian country. The Jews did not regain an independent homeland in Israel until 1948 after a long history of persecution which reached its height in the Holocaust of World War II. JEWISH HOLY DAYS The cycle of Jewish holy days is called the sacred round. Based on the ancient Jewish calendar, these holy days serve to remind Jews regularly of significant historical events in which God displayed His covenant with them and to give them regular opportunity to display their commitment to God. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. The SABBATH – A holy day of rest (Saturday; Leviticus 23:3) PASSOVER – Celebrates the deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt (Exodus 12; Leviticus 23:48) SHAVUOT – Celebrates the Law being given to Moses on Mount Sinai (Feast of Weeks or Pentecost; Leviticus 23:15-22) ROSH HASHANAH – Celebrates the Jewish New Year (Feast of Trumpets; Leviticus 23:23-25) YOM KIPPUR – The holiest day of the Jewish year, devoted to confession of sins and reconciliation with God (Day of Atonement; Leviticus 23:26-32). SUKKOT – Commemorates the wondering of the Israelites in the wilderness (Feast of Tabernacles or Booths; Leviticus 23:33-43). HANNUKKAH – Marks the rededication of the Temple after its desecration by Antiochus IV (Festival of Lights or Dedication). Hanukkah is observed for eight days in midwinter and is the only major feast that does not have its source in the Bible. The feast is based on the story of the Maccabees, recorded in the Apocrypha. When Antiiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 B.C. introduced the worship of the Greek gods as the state religion, a small group of Jews led by Judas Maccabeus staged a revolt. Antiochus, who, among other things desecrated the temple by slaughtering a pig in the Holy of Holies, was finally overthrown and freedom of religion returned to the land. Hanukkah is celebrated in observance of the heroic acts of the Maccabees. The eight-branched candlestick, the Menorah, is integral to Hanukkah worship and commemorates a miracle that took place when the temple was cleansed from the idolatrous acts of Antiochus IV Ephiphanes. The tradition states that only enough holy oil was found in the temple to light the lamp for one night. However, because of the providence of God and as a sign that He blessed the Jewish cleansing and rededication of the temple, God miraculously kept the lamp burning for eight days and nights. Since Hanukkah is celebrated near the Christian Christmas holiday, it has borrowed some ideas from Christmas, including the giving of gifts (traditionally one to each child 8. PURIM – Commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews from the plot of evil Ham to exterminate them (book of Esther). THE THREE BRANCHES OF JUDAISM 1. 2. 3. ORTHODOX CONSERVATIVE PROGRESSIVE DIFFERENCES 1. Judaism does not believe that Jesus was the MESSIAH. ―He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him‖ (John 1:11). It is on the question of Jesus Christ—who was this man?—that the Jew and the Christian divide. They began to divide even while Jesus walked the earth. You remember that the Jews of that time were looking for a Messiah (literally an ―Anointed One‖) or Christ. He was spoken of by the Old Testament prophets as one who would redeem His people from their sins. But by the time of Jesus, tradition and petty legalistic interpretation of the Scripture had watered down belief in original sin and man‘s need for personal salvation. As a result, many Jews were looking for a national deliverer. They looked for a warrior-king like David who would drive out the hated Romans and restore the nation of Israel to its ancient glory. When we realize this, it‘s easy to see why many were disappointed by the humble Man of Galilee (Fritz Ridenour, So What’s the Difference?, pp. 59-60). ―Since the concept of a Messiah is one that was give by G-d to the Jews, Jewish tradition is best qualified to describe and recognize the expected Messiah. This tradition has its foundation in numerous biblical references… Judaism understands the Messiah to be a human being (with no connotation of deity or divinity) who will bring about certain changes in the world and who must fulfill certain specific criteria before being acknowledged as the Messiah. These specific criteria are as follows: (1) He must be Jewish (Deuteronomy 17:15; Numbers 24:17). (2) He must be a member of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10) and a direct male descendent of both King David (1 Chronicles 17:11; Psalm 89:29-38; Jeremiah 33:17; 2 Samuel 7:12-16) and King Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:10; 2 Chronicles 7:18). (3) He must gather the Jewish people from exile and return them to Israel (Isaiah 27:13-13; 11:12). (4) He must rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (Micah 4:1). (5) He must bring world peace (Isaiah 2:4; 11:6; Micah 4:3). (6) He must influence the entire world to acknowledge and serve one G-d (Isaiah 11:9; 40:5; Zephaniah 3:9). All of these criteria for the Messiah are best stated in the book of Ezekiel 37:24-28. If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, he cannot be the Messiah‖ (The Jewish Response to Missionaries, p. 30, found on www.jewsforjudaism.com). Read Luke 4:16-21 and Isaiah 61:1-3. coming? Did Jesus expect to fulfill all of the messianic prophecies during his first ______________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. Why is it so hard for the Jews to believe that Jesus is the Messiah? ______________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________ 2. Judaism does not believe in the doctrine of the TRINITY. The main arguments against the Trinity are (taken from The Jewish Response to Missionaries, p. 26): (1) The commandment to believe in God‘s absolute ONENESS was given specifically to the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 6:4). (2) The children of Israel were forbidden to envision that God has any LIKENESS (Deuteronomy 4:15-19). Therefore, God cannot dwell in bodily form, as claimed in the NT. (3) The prohibition against a MEDIATOR is found in the Second Commandment (Exodus 20:3). Therefore, the NT statement in John 14:6, that ―No one comes to the Father except through me [Jesus]‖ is not acceptable. The Torah teaches that each person is capable of connecting with God directly. Is the doctrine of the trinity taught in the OT? See Genesis 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8; Psalm 110:1; cf. Matthew 22:41-46; Malachi 3:1-2; cf. Isaiah 48:16. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________ 3. Judaism does not believe in ORIGINAL SIN. ―…the Bible teaches that sin is an act, not a state of being. Mankind was created with an inclination to do evil (Genesis 8:21), and the ability to master this inclination (Genesis 4:7) and choose good over evil (Psalm 37:27) … The Torah teaches that through repentance, prayer, fasting, and doing what is right, everyone has the ability to return to God directly‖ (The Jewish Response to Missionaries, p. 22). Read Psalm 51:1-5. David, the author of this psalm, is considered one of the heroes of Judaism. mastered his inclination to sin? Had David ______________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________ So what’s the difference between the Christian and the Jew? ―The question of Jesus: Was He the Messiah as He claimed, or was He an imposter? Argument cannot settle this question. Each of us (whether Jew or Gentile) must look carefully at Jesus and answer the question for ourselves. Should we accept Him as Messiah, as the Savior and Lord who was promised by the Old Testament prophets? As the Christ of prophecy, He stands ready to receive all who believe in Him: ‗For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him‘ (Rom. 10:12)‖ (Fritz Ridenour, So What’s the Difference?, p. 62). A careful analysis of these criteria shows us that, although Jesus was Jewish, he did not fulfill any of the other criteria. An examination of the contradictory accounts of Jesus‘ genealogy demonstrates a number of difficulties with the fulfillment of the second criterion. Specifically, the New Testament claims that Jesus did not have a physical father. The Jewish Scriptures, however, clearly state that a person‘s genealogy and tribal membership is transmitted exclusively through one’s physical father (Numbers 1:18; Jeremiah 33:17). Therefore, Jesus cannot possibly be a descendent of the tribe of Judah nor of King David and King Solomon. There are even further problems with any attempts to use the Jewish Scriptures to prove Jesus‘ genealogy through Joseph, the husband of Mary (Jesus‘ mother). For the New Testament claims that Joseph was a descendent of King Jeconiah, who is the Hebrew Bible was cursed to never have a descendent “sitting on the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah” (Jeremiah 22:30). Joseph‘s genealogy, even if it were transmittable to Jesus, would only serve to further disqualify Jesus as the Messiah. Finally, there is the problem of the contradictory accounts of Jesus‘ genealogy in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. The common Christian explanation of this contradiction claims that Luke‘s genealogy is that of Jesus‘ mother, Mary. However, this is unfounded, even according to the Greek original. In addition, it has already been established that genealogy is transferred solely through the father, making this attempted explanation completely irrelevant. Even if one could trace one‘s genealogy through one‘s mother, there would be the additional problem that Luke 3:31 lists Mary as a descendent of David through Nathan, Solomon‘s brother, and not through Solomon himself as required according to prophesy in 1 Chronicles 22:10 of the Jewish Bible. The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth criteria have obviously not been fulfilled—neither during Jesus‘ time or since. Any Christian claims that these final criteria will be fulfilled in a ―Second Coming‖ are irrelevant because the concept of the Messiah coming twice has no scriptural basis.
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