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Yeshua Explored


todayOctober 3, 2016 18

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The Talmud, the great body of Jewish thought compiled from the 2nd Century AD, declares that there were thousands of Hebrew prophets in Biblical times, in fact twice as many as left Egypt in the Exodus, but only those with a message for future generations were considered important enough to make the master list. This list was comprised of 48 male prophets, from Abraham to Malachi and 7 female prophets, from Sarah to Esther. Apparently Daniel was on the original list, but Rashi, a highly influential 11th Century Jewish scholar, did not consider him a prophet and had him replaced.

Rashi is probably the best known commentator on the Hebrew Scriptures, so, if he had a serious objection to Daniel’s inclusion on the master list, then it must have been a good one. His stated reason was that, to be qualified as a prophet, one needs to cater to the needs of people living in his time. As Daniel’s prophecies were for the future, then this disqualifies him, in Rashi’s view. In his commentary on the Talmud, Rashi accepts that Daniel was a prophet, but not one sent with a prophetic message for his people, in his day.

Yet even to this untrained mind, something nags at me. Daniel was very much a man of his day and although interpretations were for the future, he also spoke to the people of his day. And, despite the fact that his prophecies were for the future and not for the present, prophecies they still were. No greater authority than Jesus himself confirms the standing of Daniel. In Matthew 24:15 he calls him “… the prophet Daniel …” But, of course, Rashi and the rabbis don’t share in our confidence in Jesus as the final word.

Rashi lived at a time when State “Christianity” was at its most rampant and violent, particularly in its attitude towards the Jews. His latter years were saddened by the massacres which took place during the first Crusade, in which he lost relatives and friends, many killed after refusing to convert to Christianity. He had every reason to be most unsympathetic to the Christian religion and would consider the denial of Daniel as a prophet as a key victory, particularly as Daniel is considered by Christian scholars as the key to New Testament prophecy.

Why would this be? The fact is that, within the Book of Daniel, there are a number of prophecies that can be said to be fulfilled by Jesus Christ or his Church. If indeed this was so, then Rashi and other Jewish commentators would be very aware of this, even if a few prophecies could be considered ambiguous or contentious. The last thing they would want would be for Jews to read the Book of Daniel as a prophetic book and come to some uncomfortable conclusions. More next week …



Who was a prophet but not a prophet? 

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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