Lately, I have been so busy studying and training for a new position at work. In my very limited spare time I have been reading and thoroughly enjoying a terrific primer that every person coming into an Hebraic understanding of Scripture should read. Even better, this dynamite short book is freely available online!! And, I highly recommend it.
Is the Torah Only for Jews? by Tim Hegg, Messianic Jew
Tim Hegg, a fantastic scholar who meticulously details his sources and carefully explains his conclusions, does a wonderful job of walking the reader through the Scriptural and historical background for the ‘One Law’ controversy as we see it today. He elucidates not just a number of Hebrew words and terms, but explains how and why the definitions of those words changed. I.e., how ‘ger’ (alien) came to wrongly be translated and understood by Judaism as ‘convert’ or ‘proselyte.’
Hegg demonstrates clearly from Scripture what it means to be a covenant member and how the Torah applied to the ‘ger.’ Ultimately, his conclusion is the same as ours on this blog, though he gets there more succinctly and with better supporting research: The Torah is equally the possession of ALL covenant members!!!
This book, free to download is a MUST to have for reference on your computer, and ‘should have’ as a printed hardcopy that you can mark up and pass around! While not exhaustive, it is a very solid primer that is a solid brief case that is not easily surmounted by either the ‘lawless’ or by ‘bilateralists.’
Side note: I had to hunt for a link to the book, lost my original, but found it in this synagogue’s ‘articles’ page. In glancing through their articles, I have to say, I like what I see initially… May be a good resource!
Here’s a quote from pg. 34 & 35:
“The notion that the Scripture “sets a precedent for a ritual of conversion” by which a non-Jew becomes a Jew is pure nonsense. Where would such a ritual be found in the Scriptures? And where is there any indication that obedience to the Torah (which would include accepting the sign of the covenant in one’s flesh) is a doorway for one’s change of ethnic status? While the Sages constructed a ritual which effected, in their estimation, an ethnic change of status for the foreigner, there is nothing in the biblical text to warrant such a thing. The “ritual of conversion” was a rabbinic idea, not a biblical one.
“Indeed, from the first giving of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12), the inclusion of the nations within the covenant is envisioned, not as those who “become Jews,” but as “foreigners” who are brought near and made covenant members. While the promise is realized first among the physical offspring of Abraham, the goal is that all the nations would be blessed in him, not through some ritual that supposedly changes one’s ethnicity, but through faith in the same Messiah in whom Abraham believed, a faith that would change the heart to do God’s will.
“In fact, the rabbinic view of proselytism finds no parallel in the written Torah. The idea of foreigners becoming part of the covenant people through acceptance of Israel’s God and His Torah (including circumcision) is ancient.137
But the rabbinic ritual which included circumcision, mikvah, and sacrifice was the product of Judaisms in the Graeco-Roman times, not the Judaisms of the Second Temple period and earlier. Thus, the rabbinic ritual finds no basis in the Tanach. In the biblical narratives, whenever a “stranger” or “foreigner” lives as part of the covenant people of Israel, he commandments. A foreigner who dwells with Israel but is not willing to obey the commandments, forfeits the right of participation in the covenant 138 and may be expelled or even put to death if his transgression is a capital offense.139 Moreover, it is clear that the ger (“sojourner”) does not entirely receive the status of a full citizen (רַח זא), for he has no right of land ownership. Like the Levite, the ger is listed with the orphan and the widow because he, like them, is at an economic disadvantage, being without land ownership.140 Thus, the distinction is maintained between native born and the foreigner, but this distinction diminishes neither the responsibilities nor the privileges of the covenant as defined by the Torah. That Ezekiel prophesies a change in this condition (Ezekiel 47:22-23), the “foreigner” (רִיכנ) being given the right of land ownership, is a vision of the final eschatological victory in which the nations are blessed as full citizens in the Land as God promised.”
And, related footnotes:
135 Note that in the Stone Chumash as well as in the Stone Tanach, the word ger is most often translated “proselyte.” Of course, this cannot be done consistently, since Israel as a whole is considered as gerim by God (Leviticus 25:23).
136 Rus Resnik, “Messianic Jewish Self-Definition: Addendum,” p. 2.
137 Note the remarks above regarding the evolution of the term proselutos in the Lxx, Philo, Josephus, and the Jewish inscriptions.
138 Exodus 12:43ff.
139 Leviticus 18:26-29; 20:2; 24:16.
140 Deuteronomy 14:29; 16:14; 26:11-12.
141 Granted, the rabbinic writings in some cases give the “proselyte” a status equal to or even greater than the native born, but the Tanach does not speak in such terms. The constant repeated refrain, “there shall be one Torah for the native born and the alien” witnesses to the equality of covenant members, not some hierarchical arrangement.
A verse I have been mulling lately is Psalm 51:13 ’13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.’-note David is not telling them to convert to Judaism or Christianity (we don’t have a NT here and folks are getting. Converted!-gasp)…so unto what are they converting? To His ways-the Way. The ancient path, the way mentioned in Deut 13, and the Torah is also referred to as the way and Yeshua also being that Torah made flesh is the way. So not a religion but His way.( And just prior it says He is saved and has the ruach-which is bonus material-but I think you have blogged that before)
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NT theology at it’s finest…John 8:44. Hatred propagating hatred…seems like things have yet to change in 2000 years!
Welcome back. I was looking forward to your thoughts on my email response re: the Angel of the Lord, but have not as yet received it.
As to Hegg’s thesis and paper, he makes the case from the Torah. Please take the time to read and add your well thought out comments.
Pete, with all due respect, I’m not the debating type of person. At one time, I would have foolishly enjoyed an online debate, however, I have found that unless people are face to face, it is totally useless. Any further communication beyond a second reply would be a waste of your time and mine. Now, to the topic at hand. Anyone can make a so called biblical case for anything they want to based on “sound bites” or “cherry picked” verses. People have done this for eons. Quite frankly, I see the whole premise of the book you are recommending as being based on the propagated hatred of Jews that keeps on keeping on, hence my prior comment. Like it or not, the NT has been the inspiration for this since it’s compilation. It’s very simple to do a google search and find the plethora of NT verses that condone hatred of Jews. It never ceases to amaze me the chutzpah people have when they think they can tell the very people who wrote the book the meaning of the book and how to interpret it. It goes beyond absurd to just plain ridiculous and demonstrates a severe lack of understanding.
I guess you missed the part about the author of this book, Tim Hegg, being a Jew? And, frankly, he is not the only one speaking this message. I can name dozens, some of them personal friends… Please actually read the book in order to make an educated rebuttal. Refute his assertion that there is no evidence of proselyte conversion anywhere in the Tanakh. Demonstrate from Scripture and/or historical document that the ‘ger’ did not have equal expectations and rights under the covenant with the lone exception of property ownership. And, Ezekiel 47:22 prophecies that ownership is on the table upon the Messiah’s coming.
Nobody here is claiming to hate or replace the Jews. Rather, we claim, over and over that all of Scripture declares, and especially the NT, that the alien is to come to the God of Abraham, Isaac an Jacob by faith and be joined TO Israel/the Jews (Ruth). Thereby the Tent of David is enlarged. In the end the glory belongs to Him alone.
That historically the words of Yeshua and Rav Sha’ul have been taken out of context, misused and abused for the purpose of hate against the Jews is without debate, but also, that the NT is accurate and written by Torah-keeping Jews in a Jewish context is also without debate. We must strip away 2000 years of barnacles to get to the real story/message, both in the Tanakh and in the NT (history and commentary on the Tanakh). Hegg is one voice doing just that. What was the context at the time of the giving of the Torah and in Second Temple period, not what are we taught by later Gentile theologians and Jewish Rabbis who shared the intent of dividing the believers in Yehovah based on ethnicity and hatered.
Dare to peel back the onion!
I’m stepping outside the box on this one with a third and final response. Each and every one of your points are very easily refuted by a simple google search. There is no excuse for ignorance in the information age.
Thanks for conceding, Falcon…..
Please do not be obsessed with non Jews, we are all God’s creation and God loves his creation and God Himself planned all and Him alone can save or condemn and He gave us Yeshua for Jew and Gentile alike.Even Jews the Torah holders have failed to keep God’s law so my dear spend more time in the Spirit with Hashem and you will find it is not about Jews only .We all sinners but Christ is the saviour of all nations, Jews or not so stop looking down upon foreigners ,we keep the law spiritually.
Is it possible to keep the law spiritually and not keep it physically? I guess I’m trying to understand what you are saying here…
The Holy Spirit guides you and me to keep the law physically,that is the amazing thing about Him.