When the Rubber Meets the Road

 

For Jewish people, the rubber meets the road when it comes to Jewish identity. For the better part of 2,000 years, the Rabbis have insisted that Jews who accept Yeshua as the Messiah are no longer Jewish. First let’s try to determine what they mean by the term Jewish.  In the days of Yeshua, he was Jewish because he was a descendent of Judah, son of Jacob (Israel), son of Isaac, son of Abraham and born in Bethlehem of Judea.  He was also a Nazarene and Galilean because he was raised in Nazareth of Galilee. The Apostles, except for Judas were all Galileans because they were from Galilee; they were never referred to as Jews.

Jews at that time were born or lived in Judea, or were descendents of Judah, Levi or Benjamin. Descendents of the ten tribes taken to Assyria in the 8th Century BC/BCE who managed to return and live in Judea would have also been called Jews.  The People of Samaria known as Samaritans were not considered Jews. After the destruction of the second Temple in 70AD/CE and certainly after the failed Bar Kochba rebellion of 135AD/CE Jews were the surviving remnant of the Roman wars that followed Rabbinical Judaism as determined in the Talmud. The Jews who accepted Yeshua and worshipped in the synagogues up to 70AD/CE and in many instances up to 135 AD/CE considered themselves Jews. After they were expelled from the synagogue for refusing to fight the Romans, they were no longer considered Jews by the majority who rejected Yeshua.

According to Rabbinical law a Jew is a person who has a Jewish mother.  Biblically if one’s father was a descendent of Judah, Benjamin, the Levites and to some degree Simeon who lived in the Kingdom of Judah or Judea were considered Jews. The Jews who failed messiah bar Kochba were considered Jews; the failed messiah Zvi were Jews, the failed Brooklyn Rebbi are considered Jews.  Today a person with a Jewish mother who is an atheist is considered Jewish.  One who follows an eastern philosophy or religion like Buddhism is considered Jewish. However, when one with a Jewish mother accepts the Jew Yeshua who claimed to be the Mashiakh, predicted his death, was publically executed after the Jewish leadership of his day handed him over to the pagans, and who left us to ponder an empty tomb. These folks, according to the Rabbis, are no longer to be considered Jews. The Rabbis have no biblical authority to tell a son or daughter of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that they are not Jews if these Jews come to believe that their Messiah can be found in the Torah, the Writings, and the Prophets and that this messiah is named Yeshua Ha’Mashiakh which translates “Yahveh’s Salvation is of the Messiah.”

 

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