Torah, Israel, and the Nations: Part 5

In this continuing series, we are examining evidences that God never intended for non-Jews to keep all of Torah.

I respect the heartfelt longing for Torah that many in the One Law or Torah revival movements feel (these are movements which do not distinguish between the duty of Jews and non-Jews with regard to Torah).

What I cannot respect is sloppy exegesis, repeating “one law for the native and the sojourner” like a mantra, and using arguments from logic as if they trump the revealed text of the Torah, prophets, and apostles.

I would rather know what HaShem thinks about non-Jews and Torah rather than hearing the very logical arguments from human reason (such as, “It is not God’s way to give differing sets of commandments to different groups.”).

I have already made some substantial arguments. No one has argued against me using sound textual interpretation to the contrary on these points:
1. God told Noah, and through him all the nations of the world, that the eating of all animals is permissible (see Part 2).
2. In the same place God said there is one law for the native and the sojourner, he also said that sojourners need not be circumcised and may not eat of the Passover sacrifice unless they are circumcised (see Part 3).
3. God specifically denies that Sabbath is for the non-Jews, but says it is a sign between Israel and himself (see Part 4, the exception is non-Jews living within Israel’s borders who must keep the Sabbath with the nation).

Next, we turn to the dietary laws. Are the dietary laws for non-Jews? Remember, God already told non-Jews in Genesis 9 that all meats are permissible. That ruling seems to be reflected later in Deuteronomy 14:21.

Treifah. That is the Hebrew noun (could be an adjective, perhaps) for meat that is found torn or dead. The word treifah, or treif, is common language in Jewish talk for all unclean meat, even meat unclean for other reasons.

The Torah has three things to say about treifah:

You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs. Exodus 22:30 (31 in Christian Bibles).

And every person who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean. Leviticus 17:15

You shall not eat anything that has died naturally. You may give it to the sojourner who is within your towns, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 14:21

The rabbis deduce from Exodus 22:30 that any animal with a defect that would have led to death within 12 months is unclean. Thus, a kosher butcher inspects a carcass looking for perforated organs and various ailments that would have caused an animal to die. Any carcass found to have such a defect is sold to a non-kosher slaughtering house at a great discount (and a loss to the slaughterer).

What are we to make of these three statements in Torah about meat found dead?

Exodus absolutely forbids eating it. There is no mention in Exodus of selling it to a foreigner or a sojourner (resident alien). It is food for dogs.

Leviticus neither forbids nor permits it. It is possible to interpret Leviticus as permitting meat found dead since it merely states that eating such meat will result in impurity (and those who study Torah know it is no sin to contract impurity). Nonetheless, Leviticus is ambiguous about whether eating meat found dead is permitted.

Finally, Deuteronomy does not permit an Israelite to eat such meat. An Israelite may either donate the meat to a sojourner or sell it to a foreigner.

Let’s remember who the sojourner is: a non-Jew who has come to dwell in Israel and who takes on many of Israel’s obligations, though not all.

Now, I am out of my league and no authority whatsoever on establishing Messianic halakhah, but I will, as a sort of student in the process of learning halakhic matters, make an argument:

1. A sojourner in Israel had a status that would have to be considered greater toward the Torah than a non-Jew in the Messianic Jewish movement today. That is, the position of a sojourner was not at all ambiguous. Such a person lived within Israel’s borders and was obligated by Israel’s law to observe the Sabbath and holy days along with Israel. Circumcision and full participation (today it is called conversion) was optional, but a certain set of standards was not optional.

2. The converse of that realization, is that non-Jews in Messianic Judaism cannot be said to have a greater obligation to Torah than the ancient sojourner. The status of a non-Jew in Messianic Judaism is ambiguous. Such a person has not moved within the borders of Israel. The laws of the sojourner do not necessarily apply. Such a person may be, in fact, a foreigner and not a sojourner. I believe that such a person may choose the life of a diaspora sojourner, a person who dwells with Jews outside the land and identifies with the Jewish people without converting.

3. The sojourner, whose Torah status is greater than a non-Jew in the Messianic movement may eat treifah. Therefore, so may a non-Jew in Messianic Judaism.

What does this teach us about the application of the dietary laws of Torah to non-Jews? It affirms what Genesis 9 had already said: all meat is permissible to non-Jews. (Meat sacrificed to idols is a separate issue and deals with idolatry more so than dietary law).

Some will argue, “God merely permitted the meat to be given to sojourners or sold to foreigners. He did not say the sojourner and foreigner were permitted to eat it.”

This is a spurious argument. If eating treifah would lead to judgment for sin in the case of a foreigner, then God would not permit an Israelite to cause a foreigner to sin. Can you imagine God saying, “You shall not smoke crack, but you may sell it to someone who is a junkie”?

When we in the UMJC argue that Jews and non-Jews have a differing relationship to Torah, we are not making this argument merely from the New Testament. It is not as though Torah gave one set of rules to all mankind and that the New Testament somehow changed this. The distinction is within the Torah.

Thus, my challenge to the One Law/Torah Revival/Hebrew Roots type movements is to follow Torah accurately, making the proper distinction.

Thus, my challenge to non-Jews in the Messianic movement is to realize your different relationship to Torah. Do not assume the place of Israel. Your obligation with regard to Torah is not inherent as it is with the descendants of Jacob. Do not look down upon Christians who follow God’s Torah by exercising their freedom to enjoy babyback ribs (be honest, if you were not Messianic Jewish, you would seriously enjoy them yourself!).

As a non-Jew in Messianic Judaism, I believe you may decide to follow the dietary law for various reasons. You may do so as part of identifying with the Jews in your community. You should do so if you are married to a Jewish person. You may do so because you feel called to join with Israel. Just please, interpret Torah accurately. That is all I am asking.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Gentiles, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Theology, Torah. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Torah, Israel, and the Nations: Part 5

  1. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Derek, thank you for another insightful post. I really enjoyed it.

    Most of the One Law folks (like Adam and others), however, will try to counter all of the points you made here by insisting that they have joined Israel and thus inherited ALL of it’s covenants (and mitzvahs). Since they are Israel now, they are no longer foreigners or sojourners, but Israelites. So, your examples, they would say, do not apply to them.

    On Adam’s site, in the “Beliefs” section, one could see the following statement:

    “15. Jews according to the flesh (descendants of Abraham through Isaac, whether through the bloodline of the mother or the father) who place their faith in Israel’s Messiah Yeshua have not disowned or separated themselves from their race and Judaic heritage, but remain sons and daughters of Israel. Thus should celebrate their heritage and traditions. Gentiles who place their faith in Israel’s Messiah Yeshua are also spiritually sons and daughters of Israel and thus also share in this rich and meaningful heritage. ”

    Special attention must be paid to this one phrase: “Gentiles who place their faith in Israel’s Messiah Yeshua are also spiritually sons and daughters of Israel”

    So, as you can see, instead of being spiritual sons of Abraham (who was declared righteous BEFORE the Law was given to Israel and is the father of MANY nations) as NT states concerning the Gentile believers (Galatians 3:7), the “One Law” folks add their own extra-biblical belief: Gentiles are now spiritual sons of Jacob TOO, something that the Bible never says! The groundwork has been laid – they have become Israelites (although not Jews, as they would say) and thus should follow the same laws!

    Shalom,

    Gene

  2. Uh, Gene:

    > Most of the One Law folks (like Adam and others),
    > however, will try to counter all of the points you
    > made here by insisting that they have joined Israel
    > and thus inherited ALL of it’s covenants (and
    > mitzvahs). Since they are Israel now, they are no
    > longer foreigners or sojourners, but Israelites.
    > So, your examples, they would say, do not apply to
    > them.

    You seem to think “most of the One Law folks,” including myself, aren’t Jews by birth. You would be wrong. I was born Jewish. However, you have my theology ALMOST right. The Scriptures tell us that when you accept Messiah, you are BORN AGAIN. Combine that with the grafted-in statements in Romans 11, and you have my view: by accepting Messiah, you become, to quote a commandment about Sukkot in Leviticus 23:42, “native-born in Israel.”

    The sojourner is not someone who has yet made a commitment. To sojourn is to test the waters, so to speak. To be a temporary resident, an alien. Once you accept Messiah, you’re a part of the covenant, and no longer an alien.

  3. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Adam…

    You said: “You seem to think “most of the One Law folks,” including myself, aren’t Jews by birth. You would be wrong.”

    I don’t know if you yourself are Jewish or not (since a lot of the One Law people do not hesitate to call themselves M. Jews, as I’ve seen in this blog), but most people in the One Law movement are not Jews. How am I wrong about that, Adam? Even in the regular MJ Gentiles comprise the majority! The One Law movement by it’s very nature is a magnet for “wanna-be a Jew” Gentiles.

    You said: “The Scriptures tell us that when you accept Messiah, you are BORN AGAIN. Combine that with the grafted-in statements in Romans 11, and you have my view: by accepting Messiah, you become, to quote a commandment about Sukkot in Leviticus 23:42, “native-born in Israel.””

    Born again, doesn’t mean “born again ISRAELITE”. To get your points across, you attempted to combine totally unrelated scripture verses – this seems to be very common in the One Law movement.

    I posed a question to you in one of my earlier replies to you that you didn’t answer (I’ll accept that you didn’t see it):

    Should Gentile believers be circumcised according to the Law of Moses, on the eight day. Since you state that there’s but One Law now for ALL “Israelites” (but which you mean Jews AND Gentile comprise Israel), and there’s absolutely no longer a different set of standards for both groups (the definition of One Law), should Gentiles who have been born again be circumcised like their Jewish counterparts?

    Thanks,

    Gene

  4. Ralph says:

    Hi Derek. It has been awhile since I have responded to one of your blogs. I recently had some free time and decided to browse what was going on in your world. When I came across your statement 3, I wanted to comment. I also read Part 4. You stated:

    3. God specifically denies that Sabbath is for the non-Jews, but says it is a sign between Israel and himself (see Part 4, the exception is non-Jews living within Israel’s borders who must keep the Sabbath with the nation).

    Now I agree that the Tenach states explicitly that the Sabbath is a sign between Israel and Him (Exodus 31:17). However, where does he state that he specifically “denies” that Sabbath is for the non-Jews? It is one thing to say it is a sign for Israel, but another that he denies that it is for non-Jews. In fact, by stating your exception, you have already extended it to non-Jews and therefore that logically make your statement that he denies it to them incorrect. In fact it is not an after thought that the stranger that dwells in the land was also to keep the Shabbat…It was stated explicitly when given as a commandment.(Exodus 20:10) Also prophetically we see that Isaiah anticipated a day when all flesh will enjoy his Shabbat(Isaiah 66:23). He also states that if Gentiles would delight in the Shabbat, that he would give them a name greater than sons(Isaiah 56:5). The whole of scripture does not present a denial to the Gentile concerning the Shabbat, but offers a freedom to participate and to enjoy it. Even Isaiah 56:6-7 anticipates that the house of God will be a house of prayer for all people and sees the Shabbat as part of that expression. Yeshua when confronted about the Sabbath also shows this extension when he says that “God made Sabbath for Man not man for the Sabbath”. He does not say that he made the Sabbath for Israel only and denies it for Gentiles, but he says it is for man(Mark 2:27).

    Creation ordinance.
    Although I agree that proving that the Sabbath is a creation ordinance for all to keep is difficult for anyone to prove, however,I would not remove it from it creation ties. I agree that he did not give it as a universal commandment after he completed His work on the 6th day. All the text tells us is that he hallowed it and set it aside. However, he also did not command us to not murder, to not steal, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and a whole bunch of other things either, yet he holds all those who chose evil continually guilty (read the Noah account) even though they had no explicit commandments. You say that God told Israel that he rested on the Sabbath day to show them how vital the Sabbath is to him and to anticipate (..and then you add that he had Israel in mind from the beginning). Now I agree he had Israel in mind from the beginning, but he had me and you in mind also. Yeshua states explicitly that the sabbath was made for man. Now again, I agree he gave the Sabbath as a sign to Israel, but you seem to imply that it was only until he gave it as a sign that it became the Sabbath and not before. I disagree. Exodus 20:11 explicitly refers to the 7th day of creation as HaShabbat (noun) and he hallowed it. ( a clear reference back to creation – Genesis 2:3).

    Rabbis stating Sabbath is not for non-Jews.
    You use this as a main point that Sabbath is not for non-Jews. The Rabbinical tradition says a lot of things: some good and some bad.

    Exodus before the giving of the Law.
    You made an argument that in the giving of the manna that the proper understanding reduces to “The seventh day is to be a rest for you” and not to be understood to say the seventh day is the Sabbath. On the surface this sounds good, but the text on the subject is more complex than what you reduce it to. Exodus 16:23 states “And he said unto them, This is that which Adonai has said, Tomorrow is the rest(shabbaton) of the ‘holy sabbath'(Shabbat-Kodesh) unto the LORD; bake that which you will bake today.” If I followed your reasoning it would have to read “Tomorrow is the rest of the holy rest unto the LORD”. But the Hebrew does not seem to bear that out.

    Romans 14.YOu state that Paul was speaking directly to the fact that Sabbath is not God’s requirement for non-Jews when he speaks of esteeming one day over another.
    Read Mark Nanos take on this. Where the emphasis is not over whether the Shabbat should be observed, but spoke to other days that were an emphasis (fast days of when to eat and not to eat). The context of Romans 14 focused on eating and not eating and it is in this context that Paul brings up observing and not observing days. He does not mention the Shabbat here. And would he view the observance of the Shabbat as a random thing, simply left to ones personal opinion? And why do you conclude that Romans 14 is speaking about Jews vs. Gentiles as the weak vs strong? Paul does not name them.

    Ralph

  5. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Adam… OK, let’s dissect your comments…

    You said: “You seem to think “most of the One Law folks,” including myself, aren’t Jews by birth. You would be wrong.”

    I don’t know if you yourself are Jewish or not (since a lot of the One Law people do not hesitate to call themselves M. Jews, as I’ve seen in this blog), but most people in the One Law movement are not Jews. How am I wrong about that, Adam? Even in the regular MJ Gentiles comprise the majority! The One Law movement by it’s very nature is a magnet for “wanna-be a Jew” Gentiles.

    You said: “The Scriptures tell us that when you accept Messiah, you are BORN AGAIN. Combine that with the grafted-in statements in Romans 11, and you have my view: by accepting Messiah, you become, to quote a commandment about Sukkot in Leviticus 23:42, “native-born in Israel.””

    Born again, doesn’t mean “born again ISRAELITE”. To get your points across, you attempted to combine totally unrelated scripture verses – this seems to be very common in the One Law movement.

    I posed a question to you in one of my earlier replies to you that you didn’t answer (I’ll accept that you didn’t see it):

    Should Gentile believers be circumcised according to the Law of Moses, on the eight day. Since you state that there’s but One Law now for ALL “Israelites” (but which you mean Jews AND Gentile comprise Israel), and there’s absolutely no longer a different set of standards for both groups (the definition of One Law), should Gentiles who have been born again be circumcised like their Jewish counterparts?

    Thanks,

    Gene

  6. > I don’t know if you yourself are Jewish or not
    > (since a lot of the One Law people do not hesitate
    > to call themselves M. Jews, as I’ve seen in this
    > blog)

    I take it my word on the subject that I was born Jewish, to parents who were born Jewish, to a father who was the president of a Conservative shul (many years before I was born) and attended a (Reform) shul off and on until I was 13.

    > The One Law movement by it’s very nature is a magnet
    > for “wanna-be a Jew” Gentiles.

    I don’t deny that. In fact, it’s one of the things I teach against. You can be Torah-observant without looking like a Chassid, which is where the wannabes usually take it. But there is a difference between being a wannabe Jew and recognizing you are grafted in to Israel through faith in Messiah.

  7. > Should Gentile believers be circumcised according
    > to the Law of Moses, on the eight day. Since you
    > state that there’s but One Law now for ALL “Israelites”
    > (but which you mean Jews AND Gentile comprise Israel),
    > and there’s absolutely no longer a different set of
    > standards for both groups (the definition of One Law),
    > should Gentiles who have been born again be circumcised
    > like their Jewish counterparts?

    This is a question with a trap in it. Since, by definition, non-Jewish BELIEVERS are far OLDER than eight days old, OBVIOUSLY THEY CANNOT BE CIRCUMCISED UNDER THE COMMANDMENTS IN TORAH!

    Now, if you mean, should they circumcise their sons eight days after they are born, yes.

  8. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Adam…

    You said: “This is a question with a trap in it. Since, by definition, non-Jewish BELIEVERS are far OLDER than eight days old, OBVIOUSLY THEY CANNOT BE CIRCUMCISED UNDER THE COMMANDMENTS IN TORAH!
    Now, if you mean, should they circumcise their sons eight days after they are born, yes.”

    That’s all word games…. let me rephrase it for you without providing you with an age escape hatch from this “trap”:

    A JEWISH ADULT BELIEVER, should he or not be circumcised if he was not as a child, as the law requires of ALL Jews (regardless of age)? If he should be circumcised(as ALL Jews are required), why not also an ADULT GENTILE BELIEVERS, if they are all UNDER THE SAME LAW now?

    Gene

  9. george says:

    should he be cicumcised .according to the oral law. or just get a knife like abraham and do it.i think that if a gentile wants to be cicumcised just go have a doctor cut him. hashem would know the true reason why he is doing it .in my opinion i dont think it needs to be done, according to the oral law. just done according to the torah. my humble opinion.

  10. Gene Shlomovich says:

    george…

    You said: “should he be cicumcised .according to the oral law. or just get a knife like abraham and do it.i think that if a gentile wants to be cicumcised just go have a doctor cut him. hashem would know the true reason why he is doing it .in my opinion i dont think it needs to be done, according to the oral law. just done according to the torah. my humble opinion.”

    The argument here is not where gentile believers should be circumcised because of any Torah law or oral law. If you read your Bible, it will tell you that gentiles believers SHOULD NOT be circumcised AT ALL (medical reasons notwithstanding, of course). In fact, they are actually warned not to do it. Let see what Shaul actually said concerning gentile believers:

    “Mark my words! I, Paul tell you that if you let yourself be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.” (Galatians 5:2)

    He wrote this to Galatians, a gentile congregation. Shaul would have never make such blanket statement if G-d or Torah required gentile believers to get circumcised or even promoted circ. as a good voluntary thing for gentiles, which of course it never does. If G-d wanted gentiles to get circumcised, Shaul would be violating G-d’s will when he told gentiles not to do it! Please not that Shaul was talking to the gentile BELIEVERS (not unbelievers just learning about their faith).

    At the same time please note that Shaul would have never said this to the Jewish believers (who must be circumcised in accordance to the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants given to their fathers). In fact, in Acts Shaul actually had to prove to the Jewish community that he never advocated that Jews cease performing circumcision. (Acts 21:21)

    Shalom,

    Gene

  11. Pingback: Rereading on Torah and Gentiles « Messianic Jewish Musings

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