Fracturing the Faith … Vol 19

Judaism …what do you really know about it? … Part 1

After nearly 40 years of indoctrination in the Western church I finally had to ask myself what it was like in the 1st century for the “Jews”. Why the city was sacked in 70 A.D., not just the political reason but the spiritual reason. And what was the bigger picture?

According to Wikipedia “Judaism is an ancient monotheistic religion, with the Torah as its foundational text (part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible), and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship that God established with the Children of Israel. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth-largest religion in the world.”


The Tanakh or Hebrew Bible is the canonical collection of Jewish texts, which is also a textual source for the Christian Old Testament. These texts are composed mainly in Biblical Hebrew, with some passages in Biblical Aramaic (in the books of Daniel, Ezra and a few others). The traditional Hebrew text is known as the Masoretic Text.

Tanakh is an acronym of the first Hebrew letter of each of the Masoretic Text’s three traditional subdivisions: Torah (“Teaching”, also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (“Prophets”) and Ketuvim (“Writings”)—hence TaNaKh.

In Hebrew, the five books of the Torah are identified by the first prominent word in each book.

Bereshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית, literally “In the beginning”)—Genesis

Shemot (שִׁמוֹת, literally “Names”)—Exodus

Vayikra (ויקרא, literally “And He called”)—Leviticus

Bəmidbar (במדבר, literally “In the desert [of]”)—Numbers

Devarim (דברים, literally “Things” or “Words”)—Deuteronomy

Nevi’im (Hebrew: נְבִיאִים Nəḇî’îm‎‎, “Prophets”) is the second main division of the Tanakh, between the Torah and Ketuvim. It contains two sub-groups, the Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings; and the Latter Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the Twelve Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

Ketuvim (כְּתוּבִים, “Writings”) consists of eleven books, Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, the Book of Ruth, the Book of Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and the Book of Esther, Chronicles, Daniel, Ezra–Nehemiah.


Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism (Haredi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, and the significance of the State of Israel.


Orthodox Judaism is the approach to religious Judaism which subscribes to a tradition of mass revelation and adheres to the interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Tannaim and Amoraim. The rabbis of the Mishnah are known as Tannaim (sing. Tanna תנא‎). The rabbis of the Gemara are referred to as Amoraim (sing. Amora אמורא). As in other aspects, Orthodox positions reflect the mainstream of traditional Rabbinic Judaism through the ages.

Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Babylonian Talmud. Growing out of Pharisaic Judaism, Rabbinic Judaism is based on the belief that at Mount Sinai, Moses received from God the Written Torah (Pentateuch) in addition to an oral explanation, known as the “Oral Torah,” that Moses transmitted to the people.

The oral law was subsequently codified in the Mishnah and Gemara, and is interpreted in Rabbinic literature detailing subsequent rabbinic decisions and writings. It states that many commandments and stipulations contained in the Torah would be difficult, if not impossible, to keep without the Oral Law to define them—for example, the prohibition to do any “creative work” (“melakha”) on the Sabbath, which is given no definition in the Torah, is given a practical meaning by a definition of what constitutes ‘Melacha’ provided by the Oral Law.

The best example of this is seen in Luke 6:1-2 “And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days?” This was determined by the Pharisees as “working”.

The Pharisees would be citing Exodus 20:10-11 “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”  (Also Lev.23:3, Deut 5:12)

The part the Pharisees had missed is the fact these were not actions of one who was working his own fields. The Hebrews had a communal mentality when it came to crops. This was a learned habit or tradition from the days of Abraham. The idea would be to leave a portion of the crop standing for travelers this would equate to our current day charitable giving to a food bank or Goodwill.

The disciples were traveling from place to place and simply abided by this traditional practice. The Pharisees tradition? To lurk about and gather any possible action they could exploit to discredit Yeshua.

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