Sunday, April 14, 2013

Some Questions for Gene




Gene, some questions for you if you're still open to continuing the discussion:

(1) Do you believe the following passage indicates that all non-Jewish Believers will have to be circumcised in the Messianic Kingdom of Israel?

Ezekiel 44:9  "“Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary."

(2) Do you believe that circumcision is only for Jews?


50 comments:

  1. Peter, I think that Ezekiel 44:9 contains within it the answer to your question. By even mentioning the prohibition it allows for uncircumcised foreigners to at least exist in the land of Israel (otherwise what is the purpose of the warning?). I like the way NIV translates it (makes it more clear:

    "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and flesh is to enter my sanctuary, not even the foreigners who live among the Israelites."

    Also, notice that both heart and flesh circumcisions are mentioned, differentiating between the two, with both having to be present to fulfill the requirement of entry into the sanctuary. This appears to allow, as does the opinion of the apostles regarding Gentile followers of Yeshua, for a person to be circumcised in the heart but not in the flesh. That said, I do not know how one is to tell if another person' heart is truly circumcised, so I am not sure if this passage is to be taken literally or a euphemism for something else.

    (2) Do you believe that circumcision is only for Jews?

    I think that there's a fork in circumcision from the time of Abraham. From the beginning it applied to all Abraham's physical descendants (which would include descendants of Ishmael and other non-Israelite Abrahamites) and continues to be so. Then, in the second prong, when Torah was given to Israel the people, it also became specifically a sign of the Mosaic Covenant between Israelites and G-d (Exodus 31:17). Other Abrahamic descendants continued to practice it as well, but without it being a sign of Mosaic Covenant for them.

    So, while I have to conclude that not only Israelites are to be circumcised (other physical descendants of Abraham are also obligated), I believe that only Jews are to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant G-d concluded between Israel and Himself.

    If One-Law Gentiles want to make a case for circumcision of the Gentiles, they should probably refer to the imagery used by Paul when he called Gentile believers children of Abraham (not Israel!), and not to the later sign of the Mosaic Covenant, which in no way applies to them.

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    1. Gene,

      We also read in Exodus 31:13:

      "But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.

      The Bible specifically says that circumcision is a sign of the covenant made with Abraham... so do you find a contradiction here or do you see an intertwined continuation.

      Since Abraham was not part of the Mosaic Covenant, will he not be part of Israel?

      The reason I ask, is because based on what you are saying, everyone before the Mosaic Covenant, including Jacob will not be part of Israel because they were not part of the covenant. But many scholars agree that the Abrahamic Covenant cannot be separated from the Mosaic as they are intertwined. So its not as simple as arguing Abrahamic vs Mosaic, we run into too many contradictions and that is just for starters, where does the Body of Messiah fit within your view?

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    2. "Since Abraham was not part of the Mosaic Covenant, will he not be part of Israel?"

      Zion, Abraham is the "father of many nations." (Genesis 17:5 / Romans 4:17) However, since he's the (grand)father of Jacob, he's also part of Israel. At the same time, he's also part of many other nations, not just those who came from his body but also spiritually speaking.

      That's what makes him unique. And because he was called by G-d while still uncircumcised, this apparently makes him the father of the uncircumcised as well (per Paul).

      "He is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them (Romans 4:11)

      "So its not as simple as arguing Abrahamic vs Mosaic, we run into too many contradictions and that is just for starters, where does the Body of Messiah fit within your view?"

      The Community of G-d, that is all the righteous that have ever lived, even before any covenants made were made with anyone, includes many nations. Did Abel or Noah belong to the Mosaic Covenant or an Abrahamic one? No, but they all will benefit from the Resurrection that Israel's Messiah ushers in on his return. So, this shows that one can benefit from something without being obligated to it. Gentiles benefiting from the New Covenant (and all the covenants G-d made with Israel) demonstrates just that.

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  2. Gene splits the hair far too thin, choosing a dynamic equivalency translation (the NIV) for his presumed "proof," when the eschatological implication is clear: all males who wish to enter into the sanctuary of God need to be physically circumcised.

    Even the failed Monte Judah-Eddie Chumney meeting with Dan Juster in 2003, Juster recognized that Ezekiel 44 pertained to future, eschatological circumcision of all males:

    http://www.hebroots.org/twohousemeeting.htm

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    1. "all males who wish to enter into the sanctuary of God need to be physically circumcised."

      Yes, but do all males NEED enter the sanctuary?

      "failed Monte Judah-Eddie Chumney meeting with Dan Juster in 2003, Juster recognized"

      Please...

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  3. Gene,

    Gene,

    Re: "...do all males NEED enter the sanctuary?"

    Yes, if Yeshua is to be considered truthful. In Mark 11:17, Yeshua agrees with Isaiah 56:7, a passage that says all people will be brought INSIDE the Temple.

    So let's start here: are you willing to admit that G-d wants all males who are Believers to enter the Messianic Temple?


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    1. Gene,

      And I applaud you for having the courage to discuss this matter.

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    2. In fact, I'll go ahead and ask some more questions so you'll know where I'm heading:

      (1) are you willing to admit that G-d wants all male Believers to enter the Messianic Temple?;

      (2) aren't there TWO requirements to entering the Messianic Temple? Are not those two requirements as follows:

      (a) keeping Shabbat and not desecrating it (Isaiah 56:6-7 says that only those who keep Shabbat will be brought to the Messianic Temple);

      (b) Ezekiel 44:9 says that only those circumcised physically (and spiritually) may enter the Messianic Temple.

      (3) Isn't Shabbat a unique sign commandment given to Israel alone?

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    3. "In Mark 11:17, Yeshua agrees with Isaiah 56:7, a passage that says all people will be brought INSIDE the Temple."

      In Yeshua's day, there was the an area beyond which uncircumcised believers in G-d of Israel (G-d fearers, etc) were not allowed to venture. He didn't challenge that, but instead was angry that the area were Gentiles were allowed to congregate was overrun by swindlers and peddlers.

      "So let's start here: are you willing to admit that G-d wants all males who are Believers to enter the Messianic Temple?"

      I wrote a whole post on that: http://dailyminyan.com/2012/05/30/court-of-the-gentiles-in-the-jewish-temple-clearing-up-misconceptions/

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    4. Gene,

      I understand if you desire to avoid the question but I'll ask it again in the hopes that you answer it:

      Do you agree that in order to enter the Temple (a House of Prayer for all people) the non-Jews will have to keep Shabbat? And isn't Shabbat a unique sign commandment given only to Israel?

      If you have answered this particular question on your blog then kindly paste your answer here (because I can't seem to find it myself).

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  4. "I understand if you desire to avoid the question"

    There's nothing for me to avoid. If something is true, let it be true.

    "Do you agree that in order to enter the Temple (a House of Prayer for all people) the non-Jews will have to keep Shabbat?"

    Peter... where did you get that requirement? I can't find it anywhere. Again, "entering" the Temple depends on where in the Temple one can enter. I, for example, am not allowed to enter area where priests can go.

    "And isn't Shabbat a unique sign commandment given only to Israel?"

    It is.

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    1. Gene,

      Re: " 'entering' the Temple depends on where in the Temple one can enter"

      It doesn't say "those who are uncircumcised in flesh and spirit may only enter certain parts of my Temple." Rather, it says that uncircumcised males are completely prohibited from entering the Messianic Temple:

      Ezekiel 44:9 “Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary."

      Where are you getting that Ezekiel 44:9 allows uncircumcised males to enter certain parts of the Temple???

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    2. "sanctuary"

      One can make a compelling case that a sanctuary is a very specific area within the Temple. There are other areas, such as an Outer Court, from which the uncircumcised were not restricted - it was not a sin to permit them to be there.

      On the other hand, Ezekiel 44:9 may not be establishing any admittance rules at all, but appears to be addressing a specific grave sin (mentioned only a few verses up) that Israel has committed in the past, when they allowed uncircumcised foreigners to enter the Temple sanctuary (possibly even Holy of Holies).

      "Ezekiel 44:7 In addition to all your other detestable practices, you brought foreigners uncircumcised in heart and flesh into my sanctuary, desecrating my temple while you offered me food, fat and blood, and you broke my covenant."

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    3. Gene,

      Re: "One can make a compelling case that a sanctuary is a very specific area within the Temple."

      Then do it. Ezekiel 44:9 says Mikdash; it DOES NOT say Mikdash hakodesh (Lev. 16:33, etc).

      I'll be out of work tonight at 10PM and am looking forward to hearing how you make your "compelling case." : )

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    4. "Then do it."

      Peter, let's not get sidetracked from the argument at hand. Outer Court areas of the Temple were not forbidden to the uncircumcised Gentiles, so Ezekiel 44:9 must be talking about the areas that were.

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    5. Gene,

      Re: "One can make a compelling case that a sanctuary is a very specific area within the Temple."

      Then do it. Ezekiel 44:9 says Mikdash; it DOES NOT say Mikdash hakodesh (Lev. 16:33, etc).

      Peter........
      then you prove it. Because before you started on the scene of interpreting the Bible, it already was what it was. For you to prove your case, it only seems logical for you to find a sage that favors your opinion, otherwise you should stick to Matthew Henry's commentary. What I'm saying is, this interpretation will never be Messianic Judaisms approach, you are not a part of that, you are a part of Hebrew roots, and I respect that. So I guess all is fair if you're looking at it from a Hebrew roots perspective. But I personally am not a part of that.

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    6. Gene,

      Had to work late last night, sorry. But on my break I re-examined Ezekiel 44 and see that you are CORRECT. The context, which I missed, was about how the House of Israel violated Temple laws and allowed uncircumcised foreigners to serve in the Temple.

      So let's get back to Isaiah 56, a passage which talks about foreigners joining the covenant. My question: how do you personally differentiate the covenant being referred to in Isaiah 56 with the covenants mentioned in Ephesians 2.

      And, again, my friend, thank you for your willingness to discuss these matters.

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    7. James O'Neal,

      Thank you for your comment. I'm always open to different points of view--which is why I promote free, uncensored debate on this blog. What you are witnessing on this particular post is a discussion between two Believers: Gene and myself. Our goal is simple: wrestle out the truth from one another. Christians tend to get offended by this approach. But you'll note: neither Gene nor myself hate each other. In fact, if you'll review prior posts, I have expressed deep admiration for Gene.

      By the way, my wife and I are not Hebrew Roots Christians. We're not Christians. We identify as Messianics. But we love Christians because labels don't change the fact that we're all brothers and sisters in Christ. In point of fact, though my wife has attended Messianic synagogue for decades (and I attended Reform then later Messianic for a number of years), we visit a Christian church in order to build bridges with them. Careful that you don't judge us too harshly as we are sincerely trying to do as the L-rd leads us.

      Again, thank you for visiting and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

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  5. "So let's get back to Isaiah 56, a passage which talks about foreigners joining the covenant. My question: how do you personally differentiate the covenant being referred to in Isaiah 56 with the covenants mentioned in Ephesians 2."

    Peter, the key here is differentiating between Gentiles being drawn near Israel (and the G-d of Israel) and her covenants vs. them becoming Israel and or somehow becoming obligated to her covenants as if they they swore to uphold them.

    Both Isaiah 56 and Ephesians 2 confirm that G-d honors those Gentiles who are drawn to the G-d of Israel, to serve Him. They will partake in the spiritual blessings promised to Israel (namely, Redemption) and G-d will by no means reject them just because they were not born Jewish.

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    1. Gene,

      There seems to be an underlying assumption in your claims, and that is that gentiles are not obligated to the covenant, am I understanding you correctly?

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    2. "There seems to be an underlying assumption in your claims, and that is that gentiles are not obligated to the covenant, am I understanding you correctly?"

      Zion, that's essentially correct - no person or a group is obligated to an agreement made with another person or a group. However, one can still benefit from someone else' business, without being directly obligated.

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  6. Zion, that's essentially correct - no person or a group is obligated to an agreement made with another person or a group. However, one can still benefit from someone else' business, without being directly obligated.

    So, you don't believe gentiles can be in covenant with God?

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    1. "So, you don't believe gentiles can be in covenant with God? "

      I believe that Gentiles can indeed partake in the covenants G-d made with Israel and benefit from them and even be "ministers" of the New Covenant. But the covenant is made with Israel.

      (There's also conversion to Judaism, which does indeed obligate Gentiles the covenants of Israel).

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    2. Thanks for clarifying, I have always pointed out that many proponents of Messianic Judaism do not believe gentiles who trust in Messiah are actually in covenant with God, yet so many of them deny it when asked... Thanks for being honest Gene!

      This is why they do not teach gentile obligation, gentiles are not part of anything to be obligated too, neither did gentiles join anything. There is literally no difference between a gentile who trust in God and one who does not.

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    3. "Thanks for clarifying"

      My pleasure, Zion.

      "There is literally no difference between a gentile who trust in God and one who does not."

      Let's not overlook the main difference is that one trusts in G-d (and His son, Messiah) and one does not. That's in itself is a huge difference. Gentiles are obligated to obey G-d - no one was ever except from that, even before Israel came into being and the formal Torah was given to her.

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    4. "neither did gentiles join anything"

      Of course they did. They joined G-d's inner circles, his family. Don't Gentile become disciples of Israel's Messiah?

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    5. Of course they did. They joined G-d's inner circles, his family. Don't Gentile become disciples of Israel's Messiah?

      No, if gentiles are not in covenant with God, they have no real connection to His covenant people, just like the rest of the world. Unless you would like to say that the world is part of the inner circle, his family.

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    6. "No, if gentiles are not in covenant with God, they have no real connection to His covenant people, just like the rest of the world."

      They were brought near Israel (her G-d and her covenants), no longer strangers. They will benefit spiritually from the covenants G-d made with Israel, they become children of G-d alongside Israel. That's more than enough.

      Failure to realize that is what drew Helenic Christianity to eventually assume itself as the 'New Israel', since they mistakenly thought that only by being "Israel" that Gentiles can enjoy the promises which G-d made to Israel that they read about in the Bible. Since they couldn't find Gentiles mentioned there as direct recipients of the covenants, they assumed that by being "Israel" they can get "ALL" the promises and take hold of the covenants that way.

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    7. They were brought near Israel (her G-d and her covenants), no longer strangers.

      Gene, I have no idea what this means to you or how you understand this. Because when I read that in Ephesians 2, I come to a different understanding, obviously.

      They will benefit spiritually from the covenants G-d made with Israel, they become children of G-d alongside Israel. That's more than enough.

      "More than enough", what is this in reference to?

      Failure to realize that is what drew Helenic Christianity to eventually assume itself as the 'New Israel', since they mistakenly thought that only by being "Israel" that Gentiles can enjoy the promises which G-d made to Israel that they read about in the Bible. Since they couldn't find Gentiles mentioned there as direct recipients of the covenants, they assumed that by being "Israel" they can get "ALL" the promises and take hold of the covenants that way.

      Gene, why preface Christianity with Hellenism, is there really another form of Christianity?

      Christianity, did not believe they simply replaced Israel, they believed they were a new entity greater than Israel, the "Church". We know majority of Christianity throughout history, wanted nothing to do with Israel and nothing to do with the Torah, that's not really a replacement, as much as a superseding, in other words, Christians did not start keeping the Torah as if they are the "New Israel", no. They did not come to this faulty reasoning based on covenant obligation, quite the opposite, Christianity throughout history has argued that the Law of God was for the Jews(Israel), they wanted nothing to do with it, still don't, it "is a curse and bondage". They had no responsibility or obligation to Israel nationally, Jews individually or the Torah, because they viewed themselves as part of a whole new entity, separate of Israel. Bilateral Ecclessiology actually upholds this belief, but hopes to remove the anti-semitic factor...

      Not until you make gentiles responsible to the Covenant(Those who believe, not the rest of the world), you make them responsible to Israel nationally, Jews individually and the Torah. With that said, I conclude, it is the opposite of what you are saying.

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    8. "Not until you make gentiles responsible to the Covenant"

      Who am I to do that, when neither the Holy Spirit, nor the apostles nor our Sages deemed that necessary?

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    9. Who am I to do that, when neither the Holy Spirit, nor the apostles nor our Sages deemed that necessary?

      That is where we differ on our understanding, the covenant inclusion happened in the Messiah, as is made very clear in Ephesians 2. At one point these gentiles were separated from the covenants and now they are part. Being part of the whole scheme of things makes that responsibility a reality. So since Paul, one of the Apostles, deemed gentiles as now part, then maybe we should consider that? Or maybe the fact, that Yeshua wanted what was taught to the Jews to be taught to the Gentiles? Maybe the fact that in Romans 2, gentiles keeping the Torah, was proof that the Holy Spirit was writing the Torah on their hearts, a promise of the New Covenant was happening to Gentiles for a reason. It seems all to obvious to me, to say that gentiles are now responsible.

      What's funny, is that people in the BE camp, want gentiles to be responsible to Israel, when there is no obligation or responsibility to do so from their point of view... following BE theology, maybe Gentiles should be spiritually responsible and not literally. That would make your argument consistent, but if your argument was consistent we wouldn't be having this discussion. :D

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    10. "...people in the BE camp, want gentiles to be responsible to Israel, when there is no obligation or responsibility to do so from their point of view... following BE theology, maybe Gentiles should be spiritually responsible and not literally."

      I am quite consistent, Zion. Spiritual benefits gained can lead to material benefits paid back to the source of the spiritual ones - Paul had no problem with that:

      "For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings." (1 Corinthians 9:11)

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    11. I am quite consistent, Zion. Spiritual benefits gained can lead to material benefits paid back to the source of the spiritual ones - Paul had no problem with that:

      "For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings." (1 Corinthians 9:11)


      LOL, touche, but I was not talking about blessings... I am speaking in regard to responsibility. So should gentiles be spiritually responsible, not literally doing anything? :P

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    12. "So should gentiles be spiritually responsible, not literally doing anything?"

      Gentiles already do. As Peter himself said "[G-d] accepts from every nation the one who fears him and DOES what is right."

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  7. Gene,

    Your concern seems to be that you will lose your identity if everyone suddenly becomes part of Israel. Is that right? That's a valid concern.

    But here's the thing: non-Jews also need to identify with Israel. That is also a valid concern. Think about it: the New Covenant makes them want to keep Torah (Rom. 2; Jer. 31; Eze. 36), the Ruach impels them to migrate to Zion to learn the Torah (Isa. 2), the Ruach also instills in them the need to feel included in Israel (i.e. let not the foreigner say "Surely G-d will exclude me from His People"...), the need to feel bound to the covenant (Isa. 56) and even sign-commands of the covenant (e.g. Shabbat as per Isaiah 56). That little phrase "politeia in Israel" (Eph. 2) suggests rights of citizenship--Paul himself uses the word "politeia" at one point to refer to his Roman citizenship! So it seems that non-Jews also have some identity concerns that need to be addressed.

    Those are the concerns of both parties--and both parties have valid concerns! So what do we do?

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    1. "Your concern seems to be that you will lose your identity if everyone suddenly becomes part of Israel. Is that right? "

      Peter, that's not really my concern, since I can't lose my identity nor will someone's beliefs about themselves change the facts about who they are or how the future will play itself out.

      I am simply concerned about the detrimental effects such beliefs have on the relationship between Jews and Gentiles today. I do understand that some Gentiles feel inferior or second class because they see Israel and the Jewish people featured so prominently in the Bible and plans of G-d. But this was never about who is better, nor do Jews get an automatic ticket to anything. Many will be gathered from East and West at the feast.

      P.S. I am back to normal. Thank you!

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  8. Gene,

    Also, hope you are feeling better.

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  9. "Since they couldn't find Gentiles mentioned there as direct recipients of the covenants, they assumed that by being "Israel" they can get "ALL" the promises and take hold of the covenants that way."

    Gene, what do you expect them to do when the Rabbis write "all Israel have a place in the world to come?"

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    1. "Rabbis write "all Israel have a place in the world to come?"

      Didn't Paul write: "All Israel shall be saved"? And if you think that he didn't mean that literally, why do you assume that the Rabbis did (hint: they didn't)?

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    2. "Gene, what do you expect them to do when the Rabbis write "all Israel have a place in the world to come?"

      Also, Dan - since when did Gentiles start reading Talmud?

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  10. Gene, and since when did the Rabbis start reading Paul's epistles?

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  11. Gene,

    Many will be gathered from East and West at the feast."

    Well, the Gentiles will not gathered to Ahavat Zion in Beverly Hills...Unless they are in a mixed marriage....LOL!

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  12. "Perhaps Paul was reading theirs?"

    Couldn't have happened. When was Sanhedrin written?

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    1. "Couldn't have happened. When was Sanhedrin written?"

      Yes, Dan, but don't forget that the Oral Torah itself is suppose to predate the time it had to be put down on parchment!

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  13. Gene,

    It's politically incorrect to say "Gentile"; rather, you should say "Jewishly Challenged". : )

    A little humor.

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    1. Reminds of a line from the movie "Independence Day":

      (Julius praying in Hebrew)
      Albert: I'm not Jewish.
      Julius: Well, nobody's perfect.

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  14. Gene,

    "Yes, Dan, but don't forget that the Oral Torah itself is suppose to predate the time it had to be put down on parchment!"

    But you said: Paul was reading....

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  15. Gene, I have to command you on your civility. Maybe this is the one and only thing i can learn from you...

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    1. Thanks, Dan, I appreciate your sentiment!

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