Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why There MUST be Different Levels of Gerim in Torah (the Nevelah Example)

The Torah cannot tell someone to sin.

Yet the Torah says it is a sin for a "ger" to eat nevelah:

"And every soul that eateth that which died [of itself,] or that which was torn [with beasts, whether it be] one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe [himself] in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean. But if he wash [them] not, nor bathe his flesh; then he shall bear his iniquity," (Leviticus 17:15-16)

Yet the Torah also says it's okay for an Israelite to give nevelah to a "ger"!

"Ye shall not eat [of] any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that [is] in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou [art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk,"  (Deuteronomy 14:21)
Oh, dear!  How do we resolve this contradiction?

Well, the authoritative men who composed the Septuagint explained that there were different classes of ger.  These learned men used the term "paroikos" (one who sojourns but has no political rights) to translate ger in those passages where the ger could not logically have been a covenant member;  they used "proselutos" to translate ger where the ger must logically have been a covenant member.

So how did a ger transition to the proselutos status?

The only thing we know is that Exodus 12:48 says that a ger is just a regular old ger until he observes Passover.  Once he observes Passover then he is "like" an ezrach.  And, yes, he had to become circumcised to be able to observe the Passover and become like an ezrach.

Anyway, that's how it was apparently done in the old days (and hey I could be wrong!  feel free to challenge me if you have another opinion).

It's more important to understand how it works today:

Now that Yeshua has become our Passover Lamb--all who believe in Him are welcomed into the covenantal family.  His blood somehow (don't ask me how exactly) becomes your blood.  He becomes your father.  Now that's the "substance" behind the "shadow" of Passover.  We should still keep in mind that the earthly shadow is governed by Torah.  And Torah says you have to literally (not metaphorically) become circumcised in order to partake of the lamb sacrifice during an actual Passover. But this won't even be an issue until Yeshua comes back and restores the Temple.

NOTE:  I won't be able to respond to comments here until tomorrow around 2PM.  Shalom!

13 comments:

  1. Well said, I like how you put "like" in quotes, exactly, gerim did not become Jews, but became "like" native born, citizens of Israel, as ger.

    Faith has always been the foundation for covenant inclusion, even before circumcision, as Paul says in Romans 4, circumcision is only a legal requirement concerning certain aspects of the covenant, similar to what we see in Ezekiel 44, concerning gentile circumcision being required to enter the Temple, not to enter covenant relationship with God.

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    1. I don't agree that faith has always been the foundation for covenant inclusion. In Ex. 12:48, which prescribes how the stranger should be included faith is not mentioned. The stranger is admitted to the Passover if all his males are circumcised. This includes his sons and his slaves and any other male person belonging to his household. These persons generally had no choice. They were simply forced to circumcision, together with their father or master. Nor was faith required from the women. They were automatically included because their husband or father was.

      Being a covenant member is to an important degree independent from personal faith, which is simply illustrated by the fact that all home-born are included in the covenant by their natural birth. The nation of Israel is not a faith-based entity. One does not enter this nation by an act of faith, but by being born as a Jew or by being included according to the stipulations of Ex. 12:48.

      Circumcision certainly affects the covenant with G-d, as is clear from Gen. 17:14. "And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant".

      If the uncircumcised is excluded from the nation as a covenant breaker, then circumcision is important for maintaining the covenant status. It is true that Jews enter the covenant by birth and thus not by circumcision. But in order to confirm and maintain this covenant status, males have to be circumcised. If they aren't, the consequence is exclusion from the covenanted nation.

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    2. The important thing is that faith is now required to join the Israel of G-d (not that G-d has by any means forsaken unbelieving Israel).

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  2. Peter, just stopped in to say I'm reading your posts and truly appreciating them. Thank you for speaking out as you do.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, brother. I hope you know that I feel the same way about you. You're an unbelievable encouragement.

      Shalom,

      Peter

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  3. Messianic613,

    I don't agree that faith has always been the foundation for covenant inclusion. In Ex. 12:48, which prescribes how the stranger should be included faith is not mentioned. The stranger is admitted to the Passover if all his males are circumcised. This includes his sons and his slaves and any other male person belonging to his household. These persons generally had no choice. They were simply forced to circumcision, together with their father or master. Nor was faith required from the women. They were automatically included because their husband or father was.

    I am interested in how you deal with Romans 4. Clearly at the time of Exodus 12, there was no Mosaic Covenant, and the Mosaic Covenant cannot even exist without the Abrahamic Covenant, thus Exodus 12 is in line with Genesis 17. Paul goes through great lengths to point out that Abraham's covenant relationship with God pre-existed his circumcision and that covenant relationship was based on faith and for his descendants, by promise, obviously within the context of, faith without works is dead...

    If we are to take what you are saying as true, then Abraham entered covenant by Faith, but after Abraham it switched to works, but then Yeshua came and it was switched back to Faith...

    I don't see any disconnect between the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic, and clearly the Abrahamic dealt with Faith, Mosaic clearly deals with the rules of maintaining an already established covenant.

    Circumcision certainly affects the covenant with G-d, as is clear from Gen. 17:14. "And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant".

    Exactly, but in order to break the covenant, one has to be part of the covenant, thus circumcision isn't the covenant or entrance, it is a legal maintainer, such as the Sabbath, if one breaks the Sabbath just like circumcision, they will be cut off.

    If the uncircumcised is excluded from the nation as a covenant breaker, then circumcision is important for maintaining the covenant status. It is true that Jews enter the covenant by birth and thus not by circumcision. But in order to confirm and maintain this covenant status, males have to be circumcised. If they aren't, the consequence is exclusion from the covenanted nation.

    Exactly, thus circumcision is not covenant entrance, instead Faith which comes with a promise. How this applies to gentiles is seen in Abraham, this is why Paul uses Abraham as the example of these gentiles being justified in the sight of God, and now considered sons of Abraham.

    Paul says in Romans 9:31-32

    but Israel, (pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.

    From this verse, we gather that the covenants of God, obviously the Mosaic in this case, as well, have to be pursued by Faith, or they fail, Abraham being the grand example.

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    1. The promise made to Abraham was not that his posterity would consist of believers but that it would become a great nation in covenant with G-d. If it were true that this covenant is entered by faith, then Jews could never be covenant members by their natural birth. But Jewish children obviously belong to the Jewish nation. My point is thus simply that if one is born as a Jew, then this person is a member of the covenant. Faith is unimportant in this respect, although it is all-important in other respects.

      This doesn’t take away what you rightfully emphasize, that the covenant members have the responsibility to exercise faith and to be faithful. It is true that the purpose of the covenant will fail to be realized, ultimately, if not acted upon by faith. Faith is thus demanded from the covenant members. But this doesn’t imply that the status of being a covenant member is obtained by faith, although in certain cases it can be obtained by faith, as it was in the case of Abraham. Entrance by faith is certainly not ruled out. Abraham entered the covenant through faith. But Abraham’s posterity — taken of course according to the line of promise which goes through Isaac and Jacob — was simply included because of Abraham’s faith and because of the promise made to him. The Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants do not require an act of faith from Abraham’s posterity in order that they become covenant members. No, they already enjoy covenant membership by birth. Yet each one of them has the personal responsibility to respond to their covenantal status by exercising faith. If a person lacks faith, however, he still remains a covenant member, although he will not obtain the ultimate goal of the covenant, which is life in the World to Come.

      It seems to me that this explanation is in agreement with what Paul says in Romans ch. IV, and also shows that Exodus ch. XII is in line with Genesis ch. XVII.

      I don’t think that one should try to interpret the procedure mentioned in Ex. 12:48 as entering the covenant by personal, saving faith. As I said, in this text faith is not mentioned as a prerequisite. Israel as a nation and peoplehood has always been a mixed company of believers and unbelievers. What happens in Ex. 12:48 is not a repetition of the personal faith story of Abraham. A person or a family entering the covenant according to Ex. 12:48 implicitly agrees to accept the whole heritage of Israel on a matter-of-fact basis. Whether they are true believers or not is not a point at all.

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    2. I think we are saying similar things... thanks for sharing your perspective.

      Jews are born into covenant based on a promise made to Abraham, and Abraham was entered into a covenant which set this promise into motion based on his initial Faith.

      Jews are part of the covenant whether circumcised or not, just as Jews are part whether believing or not. That is because this is in regard to purely a legal standing and has no direct play on salvation. This does not mean all Jews will be in the world to come, it only means Jews by natural birth have a legal standing covenant, one has to have the Faith of Abraham to have the full covenant inclusion, because the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants are intertwined, I think this is why they are also separated but rely on each other, one represents the Faith of God, which comes first, then one represents the covenant regulations of that Faith based covenant.

      This also shows that circumcision is neither the entrance or the start of the covenant, because if it were, then Jews are not born into covenant by promise, but by works. But as you showed, it also shows a legal standing that must be maintained by a Jew to remain in the covenant and for a gentile it must be done if the gentile wants the full legal package as one who is not a son of Abraham, but has some form of covenant standing even minus any faith in God, from purely a legal perspective. But I find that scripture only dealing with legality on the most basic level, just like many of the commandments...

      I also have a question for you (I would like your opinion), based on this view. The "ger" was not a son of Abraham, he was purely a person of any gentile origin who could come in on a basic legal level and be granted legal rights just like the native born, and as you stated, could even have no faith in God at all, either due to joining for beneficial gain or simply because they were a slave. How do you view that now in Messiah, we (gentiles) are considered son's of Abraham, versus the ger that was not, and how do you think that plays into the understanding now? :D

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    3. The ger was not a natural son of Abraham, but he was made a legal or adopted son of Abraham by going through the procedure of Ex. 12:48, by which he became a member of the nation. If he had true faith, then of course he was a son of Abraham in a deeper sense, and this is what Paul is speaking about in Romans ch. IV. But I think a distinction introduced with the coming of Messiah is all-important here. Before the First Coming of Yeshua there was no distinct company of faith. National Israel was — as it still is — a mixed company of believers and unbelievers. A nation to which one belongs by natural birth can never be identical with a faith company.

      However, after the coming of Yeshua the Assembly of Messiah was formed, which is a faith-based community. It is distinct from national Israel, but not separated from it. It is a subset of Israel, the faithful remnant, with faithful Gentiles added to it. The introductory rite of this community, baptism in Messiah's name, is faith-based. Children who are born from believing parents do not belong to this community by their natural birth.

      In the context of this community, the decisive thing is that one is a son or daughter of Abraham by faith. A person is admitted to this community on the basis of a confession of faith. Being a natural or legally adopted son of Abraham is of no value here.

      National Israel will ultimately accept Yeshua as the Messiah at the Second Coming, and the public recognition of Messiah will be part of its national constitution during the Kingdom Age under the New Covenant. But even then National Israel will be a mixed company, since not everyone born in the Kingdom will become a believer. Public confession of Yeshua as King-Messiah will be legally enforced.

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    4. Great points, thanks for sharing.

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  4. I feel that it is important to note the very close relationship between faith and works. They are so close that they are often conflated. For example, baptism is required of a believer and is so important (being part of our confession of the Messiah before men) that many have conflated baptism with salvation! Yet clearly that cannot be so else the unbaptized thief on the cross would not be able to enjoy Paradise with Yeshua!
    I believe the same problem lies with the issue of Old Covenant circumcision. Some look upon the act from the outside and see only outward works. Yet Hashem looks on and complains, "I'd rather you circumcise your hearts!" (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Leviticus 26:41; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2:28-29; Colossians 2:11)...which would be an act of faith.

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  5. Peter said:
    Torah says you have to literally (not metaphorically) become circumcised in order to partake of the lamb sacrifice during an actual Passover. But this won't even be an issue until Yeshua comes back and restores the Temple.

    Messianic613 reponds:
    Peter, I'm not sure whether I interpret your words correctly as implying that this makes the circumcision question irrelevant for today, so please correct me if necessary. For if this is what you meant to say, I would disagree with it. Although it is true that circumcision is certainly a prerequisite for partaking in the Passover rites at the Temple, circumcision is also a commandment in its own right, according to Genesis ch. XVII. According to this chapter every male in the household of Abraham has to be circumcised. The requirement of circumcision for Gentiles who have become sons of Abraham is thus independent from partaking of the Korban Pesach and the existence of a Temple. It is a requirement for all times.

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    1. Messianic 613,

      I did not intend to imply that circumcision was irrelevant for today.

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