Posted by: jesusmessiah | August 8, 2008

Answers for the Rational Response Squad (Part 1)

A few months back I came across a set of 89 questions compiled by someone from the Rational Response Squad and decided I would work on answering these questions for them. I haven’t been able to answer all of them yet. I haven’t got to work on these questions in a few months but I’m going to post what I have answered and continue to answer all of them eventually.

1. If Jesus fulfilled all the OT prophecies so well, why didn’t the Jews recognize him as the messiah? – Francois Tremblay

There are a few reasons why Jews do not acknowledge Jesus as the messiah and I will address each one individually. Many of which are simple misunderstandings of the Scripture.

1. Jews believe Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies.
A. Messiah is to build the Third Temple (Micah 4:1)
–This passage of Scripture does not mention that Messiah will rebuild the Temple, only that it will be rebuilt. —

B. Jews believe Messiah must be a member of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10) and a direct male descendant of both King David (I Chronicles 17:11, Psalm 89:29-38, Jeremiah 33:17, II Samuel 7:12-16) and King Solomon. (I Chronicles 22:10, II Chronicles 7:18 )

— The main problem about this with the Jews is that Jesus did not have a physical father. They believe that a person’s genealogy and tribal membership is transmitted exclusively through one’s physical father (Numbers 1:18, Jeremiah 33:17). After examination of both of those passages of Scriptures, neither one states that a person’s genealogy and tribal membership is transmitted exclusively through one’s physical father, which is once again as I have mentioned a simple misunderstanding of the Scripture.

The next problem that arises would be the genealogies of Joseph and Mary (Jesus’ mother). The genealogy of Joseph mentions that he was a descendent of King Jeconiah, who in 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. But Joseph was NOT the physical father of Jesus, therefore this genealogy would not pertain to Jesus.

The next problem is with Mary’s genealogy. There is no mention of Jeconiah in Mary’s genealogy, but there is a mention of Zerubbabel, the grandson of Jeconiah. As part of the curse of Jeconiah mentioned in Jeremiah 22, he was to be childless and his descendants would not prosper.

The solution to this simply that Jeconiah repented, so God reversed the curse. Though Zerubbabel did not sit on the throne as king, the fact that Haggai 2:23 uses the same terminology as Jeremiah 22:24 shows that Haggai intended to indicate a reversal of the curse.

There are also many rabbinic sources which also agree that God reversed the curse on Jeconiah which they attribute to repentance on Jeconiah’s part. After examination, we even find the idea that the Messiah will descend from Jeconiah–exactly the opposite of what some say is impossible! For the sake of salvaging what room I can in this post, I will not include the actual context of the sources, but if someone desires for me to do so in another post I will. The sources come from the following:

  • Sanhedrin 37b-38a –Soncino Talmud edition, with selected footnotes
  • Pesikta de-Rab Kahana (5th c.) –Yale Judaica edition translated by William G. Braude and Israel J. Kapstein (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1975), pp. 376-77. Bracketed portions are Braude and Kapstein’s explanations.
  • Leviticus Rabbah XIX:6 (5th-6th c.) –Soncino Midrash Rabbah vol. 4, p. 249
  • Pesikta Rabbati, Piska 47 (6th-7th c.) –Yale Judaica edition translated by William G. Braude (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), vol. 2, p. 797.
  • Numbers Rabbah XX:20 (date uncertain; 9th c.?) –Soncino Midrash Rabbah vol 6, pp. 812-13
  • Rabbi A. J. Rosenberg, on Jeremiah 22:30 (20th c.) –A. J. Rosenberg, Jeremiah: A New English Translation (New York: Judaica Press, 1985), vol. 1 p. 185. “Redak” is an acronym for Rabbi David Kimchi (13th c.), whose opinion Rosenberg cites.
  • Encyclopedia Judaica –“Jehoiachin” (9:1319).
  • Tanhuma Genesis, Toledot (8th-9th c.) –Midrash Tanhuma-Yelammedenu, translated by Samuel A. Berman (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1996), p. 182.
  • Rabbi A. J. Rosenberg on Jeremiah 22:24 (20th c.) –Ibid., p. 183. Malbim is an acronym for Meir Loeb ben Jehiel Michale, a 19th c. rabbi and commentator. 22:24.
  • Jewish Encyclopedia –Louis Ginzberg, “Jehoiachin,” vol. 7 p. 84. —

    And the final problem Jews have about the lineage of Jesus is that since He was not the physical son of Joseph, He is not a direct descendant of King Solomon (I Chronicles 22:10, II Chronicles 7:18). In Mary’s genealogy, King Solomon is not included but rather his brother Nathan.

    After examination of these Scriptures, the same conclusion is drawn that it is nothing more than a misunderstanding of the Scripture. Neither of these verses mention that Messiah will be a direct descendant of Solomon.

    There are many more reasons that would consume a lot of time discussing which I’ll save for another time.

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