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An Introduction to the Talmud

by Dr. Harris Brody

Part VIII

In the past four Talmud articles we have seen the aspect of the suffering Messiah as supported in Talmud Torah. In the last issue of Shalom an introduction to the Zohar was given, which is a book of Jewish mysticism believed by Jews to be inspired. Hassidic Judaism derives its spirituality from the Zohar. Many noted Christian scholars of the past have studied the Zohar and found doctrines concerning the Trinity, Original Sin and the Incarnation. Numerous times while witnessing I have used the Zohar to support New Testament doctrines. We now continue our study of the Suffering Messiah.

The Zohar makes some interesting statements concerning the Suffering Messiah:

"...In the Garden of Eden there is a hall which is called the Hall of the Sons of Illness. The Messiah enters that Hall and summons all the diseases and all the pains and all the sufferings of Israel that they should come upon him, and all of them came upon him. And would he not thus bring ease to Israel and take their sufferings upon himself, no man could endure the sufferings Israel has to undergo because they neglected. the Torah" (Zohar 2:212a).

It is very clear in the preceding reference that Messiah suffers for us. However, I have found while witnessing to my brethren in the flesh (Jews) that they will deny Scriptures and even their own writings rather than have them point to Yeshua, Jesus. For example, several months ago at Temple University an anti-missionary "friend" debated with me on Isaiah 53. Actually it was not much of a debate. I had asked him to explain Isaiah 53:8:

"He was taken from prison and from judgment and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people was he stricken."

From the syntax the phrase "my people" refers to Isaiah and his people the Jews. Thereby the pronoun "he" refers to another individual and not to the nation of Israel. My anti-missionary "friend" knew from where I was coming. He admitted that Isaiah was the author. However, when I asked him who were the "people" of Isaiah, he said, "The Gentiles." In response I shared that any simple, logical, rational thinking Jew knows that since Isaiah is Jewish his people must also be Jewish. He just smiled and said nothing. He was spiteful and would not admit that he was wrong. He would rather deny Scriptures than have them point to Yeshua, Jesus. This is true of other Jewish doctrines as well.

The Soncino publishers of the Zohar have excluded from the text section 2:211b-216a, from which the previous Zohar quote is taken. Like my "friend," it is easier for Soncino to deny and eliminate something that points to Yeshua rather than have it before them. Nor do they want anyone else to read it. To justify their actions, Soncino gives a footnote:

"The first four and a half pages of this section (211b-216a) are declared by all the commentators to be an interpolation, containing much erroneous doctrine."

However, what they overlook is that there are other similar references to the Suffering Messiah and other related doctrines elsewhere in the Zohar and Talmud. Most rabbis are not even aware that Soncino has excluded the 211b-216a section, nor can they give a reason. My response to one who argues in support of excluding the section would be to ask them why Soncino would exclude one section and not other sections that include similar information.

Even if a rabbi accepts the interpolation of the Zohar, the Talmud in Sanhedrin 98b makes it clear that the Messiah suffers for our sin, as can be seen in the following quote. There is not one who claims an interpolation of the Talmud.

"The Rabbis said that Messiah's name is the Suffering Scholar of Rabbi's House [some translated it as the Leper scholar] For it is written (Isaiah 53:4) Surely He hath borne our grief and carried our sorrows yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted" (Sanhedrin 98b).

The above declaration of Sanhedrin 98b is also supported by Marcus Jastrow's Dictionary on the Targums and the Talmud, page 452.

In studying the Zohar, especially section 3:7a-lOb, I was amazed that it parallels the gospel account of Matthew. It begins with the Messiah arising in the land of Galilee when Israel experiences birth pangs:

"Then shall pangs and travail overtake Israel, and all nations' and their kings shall furiously rage together and take counsel against her. Thereupon a pillar of fire will be suspended from heaven to earth for forty days, visible to all nations. Then the Messiah will arise from the Garden of Eden, from that place which is called 'The Bird's Nest.' He will arise in the land of Galilee...he shall reveal himself in the land of Galilee; for in this part of the Holy Land the desolation first began, and therefore he will manifest himself there first..." (Zohar 3:7b-8a).

Yeshua, Jesus, fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy by starting His ministry in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1,2). Isaiah points out that the very region where the Assyrian armies brought darkness and death would be the first to rejoice in the light brought by the preaching of Messiah. Matthew quotes the reference in Matthew 4:14-17. Yeshua, Jesus, begins His ministry in Capernaum of Galilee (Matt. 4:12-17; Mark 1:14; Luke 4:14,-15). Yeshua, Jesus, left Nazareth and took up residence in the town of Capernaum. He left His home never again to return. Galilee was the most northern district of Palestine and was very densely populated. Josephus, a Jewish historian during the days of Yeshua, says about Galilee, "They were ever fond of innovations and by nature disposed to changes, and delighted in seditions." They were open to new ideas. If anyone would have been open to hear Yeshua, it would have been in Galilee. Once He would be accepted in Galilee, His fame would travel, for the traffic of the world passed through Galilee. It was in Galilee where Yeshua called His disciples. Most Jews, including the rabbis, have no concept of this prophecy. It is especially spelled out in the Zohar and fulfilled in the New Testament. Many rabbinics mock at the ministry of Yeshua beginning in Galilee. After all, they believe that true spirituality is connected with Jerusalem and the Temple. They believe that Messiah would start in the heart of Israel, Jerusalem, not in the backward part. How wonderful it is that Yeshua started with the common person and saved simple people like us.

The Zohar then describes that a star shall come from the East and proceed the Messiah:

"...And the Messiah shall have manifested himself, a star shall come forth from the East variegated in hue and shining brilliantly, and seven other stars shall surround it and make war on it from all sides, three times a day for seventy days, before the eyes of the whole world. The one star shall fight against the seven with rays of fire flashing on every side, and it shall smite them until they are extinguished, evening after evening' (Zohar 3:7b, 8a).

Most of us are aware of the account of the wise men seeking Yeshua, Jesus:

"Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him" (Matt. 2:2).

We cannot tell what star the Magi saw, but it was very clear to them. Some suggestions of what it may have been are Haley’s Comet, a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter or the Dog Star. From Numbers a prophecy was given that a Star would come out of Jacob (Numbers 24:17).

Many Jews, especially the rabbis, believe that the birth of Yeshua, Jesus, is only a myth. Yet they do not even realize that the same story is spoken of in the Scriptures and in the Zohar.


Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII |  Part VIII | Part IX | Part X


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