Three Teachings of the Talmud

The approach I have chosen here is to adopt Jesus' use of the technique, "You have heard it said." What He was attacking in each case was either a false tradition of the Pharisees or a false interpretation they imposed on an Old Testament text. The same technique of confrontation is applicable today. I could say:

"You have heard it said that gentiles who oppose Israel spend eternity in the nether world being boiled in semen, while Christians spend eternity with Jesus in boiling excrement,2 but I say unto you that the New Testament teaches of a far worse eternity for covenant-breakers."

2. Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 56b-57a. The text tells a story of a sorcerer, Onkelos son of Kolonikos: "He then went and raised Balaam by incantations. He asked him: Who is in repute in the other world? He replied: Israel. What then, he said, about joining them? He replied: Thou shait not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever. He then asked: What is your punishment? He replied: With boiling hot semen. He then went and raised by incantations the sinners of Israel. He asked them: Who is in repute in the other world? They replied: Israel. What about joining them? They replied: Seek their welfare, seek not their harm. Whoever touches them touches the apple of his eye. He said: What is your punishment? They replied: With boiling hot excrement, since a Master has said: Whoever mocks at the words of the Sages is punished with boiling hot excrement."

What has all this got to do with Christ and Christians? Everything. The entry for "Jesus" in The Jewish Encyclopedia says that the name of Balaam refers to Jesus, who was "the prototype of Jesus." It specifically cites this passage in the Talmud, Gittin 56a-57b, and it equates "the sinners of Israel" with Jesus. It says of Onkelos, "He

"You have heard it said that Adam had intercourse with every beast of the field before cohabiting with Eve,3 but I tell you that bestiality is a great sin before God."

Or: "You have heard it said that a homosexual who seduces a boy under the age of nine need have no guilt, while others have argued that age three is the minimum,4 but I say unto you that anyone who does this should be executed, as required by biblical law."

Read the footnotes! This is only the beginning, but it should be sufficient. You now recognize that the Talmud is not a conventional commentary on the Old Testament, although with certain key New Testament concepts missing. On the contrary, the Talmud's contents are only peripherally related to the Old Testament. The Talmud is a giant exercise in finding ways to escape the Old Testament texts. The Pharisees were in rebellion against God's law, all in the name of God's law. This was Jesus' assertion from the beginning:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye com asked Jesus: 'Who is esteemed in that world?' Jesus said: 'Israel.' 'Shall one join them? Jesus said to him: 'Further their well-being; do nothing to their detriment; whoever touches them touches even the apple of His eye." Jewish Encyclopedia, 12 vols. (We w York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1904), VII, p. 172.

3. "R. [Rabbi] Eleazar further stated: What is meant by the Scriptural text, This is now born of my bones, and Jlesh of my Jlesh? This teaches that Adam had intercourse with every beast and animal but found no satisfaction until he cohabited with Eve." Babylonian Talmud, Yebamoth 63a. Eleazar was an important scholar of the oral law in the years immediately following the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

4. "Rab said Pederasty with a child below nine years of age is not deemed as pederasty with a child above that. Samuel said: Pederasty with a child below three years is not treated as with a child above that." Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 54b. The modem commentator's note explains: "Rab makes nine years the minimum; but if one committed sodomy with a child of lesser age, no guilt is incurred. Samuel makes three the minimum." Rab is the nickname of Rabbi Abba Arika ( 1757-247 A.D.), the founder of the Jewish academy in the Persian city of Sura [Sora], one of the three great Jewish academies in Persia. Samuel was Mm-Samuel (180-257 A.D.), Rab's contemporary and fellow teacher at Sura, a master of Jewish civil law. See Heinrich Graetz, History of the Jews, 6 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, [1893] 1945), II, pp. 512-22.

pass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness (Matthew 23:1527).

What the average Christian does not suspect is that modem Orthodox Jews are the self-conscious and self-proclaimed spiritual heirs of the Pharisees. This is what distinguishes them in their own eyes from Conservative Jews and Reform Jews.

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