Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Tannaim (2nd-Century Jewish Sages) were ONE LAW

The Tannaim believed that Gentiles would eventually cling to the Sinaitic Torah.  One of the passages to which they cite is the following:

"And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the
labour of the people; That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the Lord." (Psalms 105:44-45)

[NOTE:  see Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, the classic compilation of Tannaitic midrash, in which we see the following exegesis of the above passage:  "'And He gave them the lands of the nations,' etc. (Ps. 105.44).  What for?  'That they might keep His statutes and observe His laws'"]

Here's a little more on this if anyone is interested:

Tractate Bahodesh, Exodus 19:

"They encamped in the wilderness.  The Torah was given in public, openly in a free place.  For had the Torah been given in the land of Israel, the Israelites could have said to the nations of the world:  You have no share in it.  But now that it was given in the wilderness publicly and openly in a place that is free for all, everyone wishing to accept it could come and accept it.  One might suppose that it was given at night, but Scripture says:  'And it came to pass on the third day when it was morning' (v. 16).  One might suppose that it was given in silence, but Scripture says:  'When there were thunders and lightning' (ibid.).  One might suppose that they could not hear the voice, but Scripture says:  'The voice of the Lord is powerful, the voice of the Lord is full of majesty,' etc. (Ps. 29.4).  'The Lord sat enthroned at the flood, etc. (ibid. v. 10)....Balaam said to all the people who stood around him:  'The Lord is giving strength unto His people' (ibid. v. 11).  And they all opened their mouths and said 'The Lord will bless His people with peace' (ibid.).  R. Jose says:  Behold it says:  'I have not spoken in secret,' etc.  (Isa. 45.19).  When I gave the Torah from the very start, I gave it not in the place of a land of darkness, not in a secret place, not in an obscure place.  'I said not: 'It is unto the seed of Jacob' ' (ibid.).  Did I not give it in broad daylight?  And thus it says:  'I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right' (ibid.).  Already before I gave them the commandments I advanced them the rewards for them, as it is said:  'And it shall come to pass on the sixth day that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much' (Ex. 16.5).  And it also says:  'Then will I command My blessing upon you in the sixth year,' etc.  (Lev. 25.21).  One might think that it was only in the case of these two commandments, but Scripture says:  'And He gave them the lands of the nations,' etc. (Ps. 105.44).  What for?  'That they might keep His statutes and observe His laws' (ibid. v. 45).  R. Eliezer the son of R. Jose the Galilean used to say:  Behold it says:  'He declareth His word unto Jacob...He hath not dealt so with any nation' (Ps. 147.19-20).  But what had those wretched nations done that He would not given them the Torah?  'His ordinances they have not known them' (ibid).)--they were unwilling to accept them, as it is said:  'God cometh from Teman...and a brightness appeareth as the light...before Him goeth the pestilence...He standeth, and shaketh the earth, He beholdeth, and maketh the nations to tremble,' etc. (Hab. 3.3-6)."

And this...

 "This listening of the universe suggests the universalistic feature of the Sinaitic revelation.  Though magnifying Israel for their readiness to receive the Torah, and strongly blaming the gentiles who refused to subject themselves to the word of God, so that a certain animosity comes down from Mount Sinai against the worshipper of idols, these legends still betray a universalistic tendency as to the real and original purpose of the revelation.  Thus with reference to Isa. 45:19, God is supposed to have said:  'I have not spoken (the word of the revelation) in secret.  I did not reveal it in hidden places and in dark corners of the earth.'  Nor did God postpone the giving of the Torah till Israel should enter into the Holy Land, lest Israel might claim it for themselves and say that the nations of the world have no share in it (in other words, it was not God's intention to make it a national religion). [  He gave it in open places, in the free desert, so that every man feeling the desire might receive it.  Nor did he say first to the children of Jacob, 'Seek ye me.'  For, as we read in other places, the Holy one, blessed be he, came first to the sons of Esau and offered to them the Torah....
Thus Mount Sinai becomes the place in which God reveals himself to the world, and Israel undertakes the terrible responsibility of bearing witness to this fact.  'If you will not make known my divinity (divine nature) to the nations of the world, even at the cost of your lives, you shall suffer for this iniquity,' said [1.  See Lev. R., 6:5, and commentaries.  Cf. also M.T., 19:1].  Though, indeed, the whole of creation has the duty to join in his praise and to bear witness to his divinity (divine power), Israel is especially commanded to invite all mankind to serve God and to believe in him, even as Abraham did, who made God beloved by all the creatures.  And so intensely should we love him that we should also make others love him.  For those who make God beloved by mankind are much greater than the mere lovers.  By this acceptance of the Torah, Israel made peace between God and his world, the ultimate end being that its influence will reach the heathen too, and all the gentiles will one day be converted to the worship of God;  for the Torah 'is not the Torah of the Priests, nor the Torah of the Levites, nor the Torah of the Israelites, but the Torah of Man ('Torath ha-Adam'), whose gates are open to receive the righteous nation which keepeth the truth and those who are good and upright in their hearts.'" pg. 131 Aspects of Rabbinic Theology by Solomon Schecter

No comments:

Post a Comment