Frank W. Nelte

January 1998

Quotations From The Talmud Explode the Myth of 'The Oral Law'

Most of us in God's Church have had very little direct contact with the Jewish religion and the Jewish culture. However, since we observe all of the annual Holy Days, which are often referred to by others as "Jewish" days, many of us have over the years felt a certain kinship with the Jewish religion. After all, we seem to have a few things in common with them ... the weekly Sabbath, the annual Holy Days, the matter of clean and unclean meats, etc..

The Jews have, after all, been the ones to preserve the Old Testament for us. And since it was originally inspired in a language foreign to most of us (i.e. Hebrew), we have tended to look to the Jews for an understanding of the Book they were used to preserve. Surely they must understand it more clearly than anyone else (i.e. the Old Testament)?

If only the Old Testament had originally been inspired in English! That would have made life so much easier for all of us English-speakers. But that is not the way God chose to do things. And so we do, to some extent, depend on the Jewish experts of the biblical Hebrew language to translate difficult and ambiguous and vague passages for us. And as long as none of their own prejudiced views are at stake, I am quite happy to accept the views of Jewish Hebrew scholars in such cases.

HOWEVER, IN MANY CASES MANY OF US HAVE LOOKED TO THE JEWS FOR UNDERSTANDING TO A FAR GREATER EXTENT THAN IS APPROPRIATE!

It is one thing to look to an expert of the Hebrew language and to ask: how should this word or this expression be translated into English?

But it is quite another thing altogether to go to the Jewish authorities and to ask: what is your TRADITIONAL UNDERSTANDING of this matter? And what EXTRA-BIBLICAL information do you have that could throw further light on this question?

A careful study leads to the inevitable conclusion that the Jewish religion is nothing more and nothing less than one of the religions of this world ... and it is just as cut off from the truth of God as are all the other religions of this world.

It follows that we need to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL in looking to the Jews for help in at least TWO specific areas:

A) In any matter where their own traditions are involved. In those areas they automatically have a vested interest, and impartial, unbiased views will be hard to come by. This is something that is true when you are dealing with ANY PEOPLE ON EARTH, where their own customs and traditions are at stake. Don't assume a Jewish scholar is necessarily going to be any less biased and less prejudiced in an area where his own beliefs and customs are at stake, than would be a scholar of any other nationality in matters where his own personal traditions and beliefs are involved. Just recall your own attempts at trying to reason with your own "Christian" relatives and friends about religious matters.

A knowledge of Hebrew does not change this fact any more than a knowledge of the English language changes this fact for your "Christian" relatives in this world's religions.

B) In any matter involving the supposed words or deeds of biblical characters, where those words and deeds are not recorded in the Bible. It is very tempting to want to believe that the Jews not only know the language in which the Old Testament was originally written; but that they also somehow must have access to ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, information not recorded for us in the Bible. We all WANT to have "additional" information, and, as far as the Old Testament is concerned, the Jews are our only possible source for such "additional" information.

But that reasoning can be EXTREMELY flawed!

There is no extra-biblical information of any kind (about persons mentioned in the Bible) that the Jews today have access to, which would enhance our understanding of the Scriptures. By this statement I mean that the Jews have NOT preserved statements, words or actions of biblical characters, or information about things that may have happened to biblical characters ... when this information is not also found in the Bible itself.

As I intend to show in this article, ALL OF THE EXTRA-BIBLICAL INFORMATION about biblical characters and biblical events that the Jews claim to have is NOT based on some other documents that were somehow preserved; it is based solely on REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES ... and in the overwhelming majority of such cases the reasoning is in fact faulty! In other words: the assertions about biblical characters, which are made by the Jews, are based on biblical statements which simply do not justify those assertions. In plain English: the Jews don't really understand the Old Testament Scriptures correctly!

To make this quite clear: I am not questioning that the Jews have an understanding of certain customs and traditions that may have been extant in Old Testament times; I am specifically referring to Jewish claims about people mentioned in the Old Testament, claims about when such people were conceived and born and when such people died and what such people are supposed to have said or done during their lifetimes. All of the claims of this nature are based on nothing more than falsely reasoning from the Scriptures; they are not based on some other source of information.

When we speak about extra-biblical information, then frequently there is an appeal to one last drawcard. And that is this:

YES, BUT THE JEWS HAVE ALSO PRESERVED "THE ORAL LAW", THINGS THAT WERE FAITHFULLY HANDED DOWN FROM THE TIME OF MOSES, AND WHICH ARE FOR SOME REASON OR OTHER NOT PRESERVED AS A PART OF THE OLD TESTAMENT!

Very few people in God's Church today understand exactly what this Jewish "oral law" really is, or how it was supposedly preserved "orally". Most who accept this claim without any challenge tend to assume that the Jews must have, somehow, by word of mouth faithfully told these things from one generation to the next; and that this process continued faithfully for many generations until these things were eventually put into writing.

But that is simply not correct!

An appeal of this nature is sometimes also presented with the reasoning that the Bible itself in some cases makes direct references to, and in other cases at least alludes to additional sources of information. Therefore it is claimed that Jewish tradition must also have had access to these "additional sources of information". Yes, during the first century A.D., at the time when the apostles Peter and John and Paul were writing some of the books of the New Testament, there seem to have been some books available which do not exist today. But there is nothing to indicate that the existence of some such books justifies the Jewish claims made about biblical characters. And there is no justification that therefore "other books" (not directly hinted at in the Bible) must surely also have existed, which would have provided additional information.

Let's now look more closely at the "oral law".

THE JEWISH "ORAL LAW"

I have discussed the oral law of the Jews at some length in a previous article. Here are a few paragraphs to summarize this matter.

In 1897 Michael L. Rodkinson brought out a copy of "The Babylonian Talmud", a monumental task. This set of volumes was published by the New Talmud Publishing Company in New York. It should be clear that Michael L. Rodkinson knew as much about the Talmud as anyone else, and a great deal more than most people. Six years later, in 1903, Michael L. Rodkinson wrote a series of books entitled "THE HISTORY OF THE TALMUD". These books were published by the same publishing company. Rodkinson was certainly highly qualified to write on this subject.

Here is the opening sentence of chapter 1, on page 5, from the first volume:

"The name 'written law' was given to the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographa, and that of 'ORAL LAW' TO ALL THE TEACHINGS OF THE 'SAGES' CONSISTING OF COMMENTS ON THE TEXT OF THE BIBLE." (my emphasis)

A little later, also on page 5, he stated the following:

"The name 'Talmud' was applied to what was styled by the long phrase 'ORAL LAW' (Torah-she b'al-Peh). THIS WORD DESIGNATED ALL THE COMMENTARIES OF THE SAGES ON THE SCRIPTURES WHICH THE PHARISEES HAD BEGUN TO INTERPRET FIGURATIVELY." (my emphasis)

These two quotations all by themselves make quite clear that all of the Jewish "oral law" has nothing to do with any knowledge that was faithfully preserved orally over many centuries, something that was handed down from father to son in each generation.

Today we have dozens of different Bible commentaries available to us. They all attempt to INTERPRET the Bible for us in one way or another. None of them have access to any more information than you do with your own Bible in front of you. All they can do is INTERPRET what is stated in the Bible.

What the Jews call "the oral law" is nothing more than the "first" COMMENTARY on the Old Testament! [Technically, there were already some targums in existence before the Talmud was completed ... so I use the word first in quotation marks.] The oral law is an attempt to INTERPRET the Bible in FIGURATIVE ways! It is a collection of the teachings of the Pharisees (which Rodkinson also calls "the teachings of the sages").

Thus the oral law is nothing more than "one more Bible commentary". That's all it is.

It is in fact misleading to term this commentary as "LAW"! The term "oral LAW" has given this commentary a far higher status than it deserves. A "commentary" is not really the same as "a law". And Rodkinson makes quite clear that "the oral law" is not a law at all ... it is a commentary!

Now let's examine a number of quotations from the Talmud. It should make quite clear that this "oral law" is nothing more than a collection of the confused and contradictory ideas of men, which have nothing at all to do with some information that was supposedly preserved from the days of Moses.

To say that this oral law contains "some" contradictions is the understatement of the century! The Talmud contains many THOUSANDS of contradictions! It is filled with contradictions from page 1 of the first part of the Talmud (i.e. Mas. Berachoth) to the last page of the last volume (i.e. Mas. Nidah).

One simple example: the phrase "HOW DO WE KNOW ..." (that something we teach is correct) is used 550 times in the Talmud ... and it invariably refers to reasoning from some Scripture or other, usually reasoning in a way that is not justified. The phrase "WHENCE DO WE KNOW ..." is used 699 times in the Talmud with the same approach, reasoning to establish something that might have happened. Yet those of us in God's Church, who have accepted the claim that the Jews DO "know" these specific things, have tended to assume that they "know" because some "extra-biblical" source of information was available to them. But that is not what they themselves (the Jews) claim. They simply reason incorrectly from the Scriptures.

So note carefully:

The vast majority of these 1249 phrases (i.e. 550 + 699) refer to ASSERTIONS about people and events in the Old Testament ... and NONE OF THOSE ASSERTIONS ARE BASED ON ANY EXTRA-BIBLICAL INFORMATION! All of them are based on incorrectly applying some verse or other in the Old Testament!

When the Jews tell you something not found in the Bible about Abraham or about Isaac or about Moses or about David, etc., then don't stop there and assume they must have gotten this information from some other source. Read on! Often you'll come to a "whence do we know ...?" or a "how do we know ...?" expression that clearly reveals on what foundation the Jews make these statements about Abraham and Isaac and Moses and David, etc.. And invariably you will find that the foundation for their claim about Abraham, etc. is a verse in the Old Testament which does not even REMOTELY justify the claim they make.

Later I'll show you a few of these "how do we know" and "whence do we know" quotations.

Let's now examine some quotations from this "oral law". Some are quite lengthy to preserve the context in which these quotations appear. After each quotation I have a brief section in which I give "my comments" on the quotation. At the end I will present the conclusions I believe we can draw from these quotations. (The numbers within the text are references to footnotes.)

So let's go.

I) Talmud - Mas. K'rithoth 17a

"If it is in [the case where the letters were written] in ignorance of the Sabbath but with knowledge of their prohibition; but [in that case] even R. Eliezer agrees with Rabban Gamaliel that awareness is of no consequence with regard to half-sizes, as has been taught: 'If one wrote two letters on two Sabbaths, one letter on the one Sabbath and the other on the other Sabbath, R. Eliezer holds he is liable'. 10"

"For it has been taught: 13 'If one carried out [on the Sabbath the bulk of] half a dried fig 14 and then again [the bulk of] half a dried fig, if in one spell of unawareness, he is liable; if in two spells of unawareness, he is exempt."

"' Raba answered: For instance, he united with her [the menstruant] and she then immersed herself; she again became unclean 20 and he united with her once more and she then immersed; and again she became unclean and he united with her once more, 21 etc.; the immersions thus correspond to the intervening week-days [in the case relating to Sabbath]."

"Come and hear: LET THEN THE CASE OF INTERCOURSE WITH MENSTRUANT MINORS SERVE AS YOUR PREMISE. Now according to Rabbah it is well that it speaks of 'minors'; but why does it speak of 'minors' according to Rab Hisda? 22 ' It speaks of 'minors' in a general way. 23"

"He [R. Akiba] retorted: No. You may hold this view in the case of the Sabbath, because there are concerning it many categories [of work] and many ways of sinning; but can you hold the same in the case of the menstruant woman where there are neither many categories nor many ways of sinning? He [R. Eliezer] replied: Let the case of intercourse with [menstruant] minors serve as your premise, where there are neither many categories nor many ways of sinning, and yet one is liable for each act. He [R. Akiba] retorted: No. You may hold thus in the case of [menstruant] minors since they are different bodies. He [R. Eliezer] replied: Let the law concerning copulation with a beast serve as your premise, where there are not different bodies, and one is nevertheless liable for each act. He [R. Akiba] retorted: [The law concerning copulation 25 with] a beast is indeed comparable to [that of] the menstruant woman."

"For it has been taught: R. Simeon son of Eleazar said, Not so was the question of R. Akiba to R. Eliezer, but thus: If one united with his menstruant wife and then united with her again, in one spell of unawareness, what is the law? Is he liable to one [offering] for all the acts, or to [separate offerings] for each act? He replied, He is liable for each act,and this is derived [from the law of Sabbath] by an a fortiori conclusion:"

FOOTNOTE 11:

"(11) The required minimum of threads with regard to weaving is two. If, however, one increases an already existing web by weaving thereinto one more thread, there is a difference of opinion as to whether he is liable or not. This case is somewhat related to that of doing an incomplete act with which R. Gamaliel deals. Furthermore, the Mishnah concerning weaving and that concerning writing are next to one an other. There is thus a reasonable assumption that the term 'Rabban Gamaliel admits' refers also to this instance of weaving."

FOOTNOTE 14:

"(14) The carrying from private property into a public thoroughfare, or vice versa, of the size of a dried fig, is one of the principal acts of work."

FOOTNOTE 21:

"(21) I.e., the fact of her cleansing herself in between the various connections brings about a division as if it was with a different woman each time."

MY COMMENTS:

1) These are the typical hypothetical arguments which make up the Talmud. It is all purely academic arguing about unrealistic situations. Here we have the matter of someone writing one or two single letters of the alphabet on the Sabbath ... "IN IGNORANCE OF THE SABBATH"; i.e. assuming the person doing the writing didn't know on which day he was doing the writing? What did he have ... a loss of memory?

2) How big is "half a dried fig"? Again this is arguing about things that have NOTHING to do with the Word of God, the Bible! On top of this, this man carrying this half a dried fig also happened to be ... "in one spell of unawareness" of what day he was carrying this "burden". The reasoning is ridiculous. It has nothing to do with any "oral law" supposedly preserved from the days of Moses.

3) Next the argument jumps without any particular reason to discussing repeated sexual intercourse with "a menstruant woman" ... another totally hypothetical and unrealistic situation.

4) For the sake of the argument the discussion then moves to "THE CASE OF INTERCOURSE WITH MENSTRUANT MINORS" (original emphasis), and from there the sage being quoted moves on to saying: " (let) the law concerning copulation with a beast serve as your premise". What are they arguing about? It is totally unrealistic!

5) Footnote 14 states that carrying property ... "the size of a dried fig is one of the principal acts of work". No one bothers to ask: exactly WHAT private properties do you own that are as small as "a dried fig" and which you would want moved on the Sabbath to some other place? What do you mean ... "A PRINCIPAL act of work"?

6) Notice also: "If one united with his menstruant wife and then united with her again, in one spell of unawareness, what is the law?" Where do you get these "spells of unawareness" from? It is all some meaningless argument, designed to appeal to the academic intellect.

Let's move on to another quotation.

II) Talmud - Mas. K'rithoth 19a

"... OR IF HIS MENSTRUANT WIFE AND HIS SISTER WERE WITH HIM IN HIS HOUSE AND HE UNITED, IN ERROR,9 WITH ONE OF THEM AND DOES NOT KNOW WITH WHICH, OR IF SABBATH AND THE DAY OF ATONEMENT [FOLLOWED EACH OTHER]10 AND HE DID FORBIDDEN WORK AT TWILIGHT AND DOES NOT KNOW ON WHICH DAY: R. ELIEZER DECLARES HIM LIABLE TO A SIN-OFFERING, BUT R. JOSHUA DECLARES HIM EXEMPT. REMARKED R. JOSE: THEY DID NOT DISPUTE ABOUT WHETHER HE THAT DID WORK AT TWILIGHT WAS EXEMPT, FOR I MAY ASSUME THAT PART OF THE WORK WAS DONE ON THE ONE DAY AND PART ON THE FOLLOWING DAY.11 ABOUT WHAT DID THEY DISPUTE? ABOUT ONE WHO DID WORK DURING THE DAY ITSELF BUT HE DID NOT KNOW WHETHER HE DID IT ON THE SABBATH OR ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT, OR IF HE DID WORK AND DID NOT KNOW WHAT MANNER OF WORK HE DID:12 R. ELIEZER DECLARES HIM LIABLE TO A SIN-OFFERING, AND R. JOSHUA DECLARES HIM EXEMPT."

"GEMARA. It has been taught: R. Eliezer argued, In any event [he has transgressed]; if it was the heleb he ate he is liable, if the nothar he is liable; if it was his menstruant wife with whom he united he is liable, if his sister he is liable; if it was Sabbath when he did the work he is liable, if the Day of Atonement he is liable! Replied to him R. Joshua: It says, 'wherein he hath sinned':17 it must be known to him wherein he sinned. And for what purpose does R.Eliezer employ the word 'wherein'? ' To exclude unpurposed action."

FOOTNOTE 9:

"(9) I.e., thinking it was his wife and that she was clean. In all these instances the fact that he committed a trespass is afterwards established beyond doubt, though the transgressor was unaware of it at the time of action, but it is unknown which law was broken."

MY COMMENTS:

1) Again this is totally unrealistic. How could a married man possibly have sex with either his own menstruant wife or with his own sister ... and somehow be unsure which woman he had sex with? Every argument the sages presented is totally divorced from reality. Again, the man is supposed to have had some "spell of unawareness" while having sex with one of these two women.

2) When the Day of Atonement fell on a Sunday, WHY would a man possibly be doing "forbidden work" at twilight after the end of the Sabbath? And HOW could the man not know whether he was doing this work before or after sunset? I mean, we're not talking about someone working down in a coalmine, are we?

3) If the man was careful enough not to work DURING the weekly Sabbath day, WHY would he possibly want to do some "forbidden work" just at twilight, when he knew the Day of Atonement was starting? What's the big issue about doing some work "AT TWILIGHT", when there are two Sabbath days in immediate succession ... and no work should be done on either of those two days? It is nothing more than an opportunity to argue about some abstract and totally hypothetical situation.

4) Note also that the Jewish "sages" were quick to make allowance for people not knowing to which day an action belonged when it was carried out at "twilight". They were not very keen to commit themselves to pinpointing the start of the day at sunset.

5) These ideas have nothing at all to do with any "oral teachings" that might perhaps have been preserved from the time of Moses. These ideas are all the products of confused minds!

Let's move on to another quotation.

III) Talmud - Mas. K'rithoth 19b

"To what kind of unpurposed action does he refer? If concerning heleb or incestuous intercourse, 1 surely he is liable! For Rab Nahman said in the name of Samuel: Unpurposed eating of heleb or unpurposed incestuous intercourse is subject [to an offering] because [the offender] has after all derived a benefit thereby! ' It rather refers to unpurposed labour on Sabbath, when he is exempt, ..."

MY COMMENTS:

1) Again, where do you possibly find a situation of "UNPURPOSED INCESTUOUS INTERCOURSE"? Is this another of those "spells of unawareness"? The argument is weird! But this is "the oral law".

2) Notice also that accidental eating of something forbidden and (supposed?) "unpurposed" incestuous intercourse are discussed as if they are on the same level! It is one thing to unintentionally eat something that is unclean, but it is something altogether different to commit incest ... and supposedly not even know who you were having sex with.

Let's look at the next quotation. This is a long one.

IV) Talmud - Mas. Yoma 74b

"Our Rabbis taught: Ye shall afflict your souls. 2 One might assume that one must sit in heat or cold in order to afflict oneself, therefore the text reads: And ye shall do no manner of work; 2 just as the [prohibition of] labour [means]: sit and do nothing, so does [the enjoinment of] affliction [signify]: sit and do nothing. 3 But say perhaps: If one sit in the sun and is warm, one may not say unto him: rise and sit in the shade; or, when he sits in the shade and is cool, one may not tell him: rise and sit in the sun? 4 ' It is as with labour: Just as you have made no distinction with regard to labour, so in connection with the [prescribed] affliction 5 is no distinction to be made. Another [Baraitha] taught: 'Ye shall afflict your souls'. One might assume that one must sit in heat or cold to afflict oneself, therefore Scripture said: 'And ye shall do no manner of work'. Just as in connection with work [the reference is to] something for which one may become culpable also in another connection, 6 so with affliction it is to something for which one might become culpable in another connection, and what is that? 'An abhorred thing', 7 or that which remaineth. 8 I shall then include only 'the abhorred thing' or that which remaineth, because the penalty there is extirpation but not include tebel, 9 since the penalty involved therein is not extirpation, therefore the text reads: 'Ye shall afflict', 'and ye shall afflict your souls', 10 which is inclusive. I might then include tebel, the punishment in connection with which is death, 11 but not include carrion, the penalty for eating which is not death, therefore the text reads: 'Ye shall afflict', 'and ye shall afflict your souls', which is inclusive. I might then include the [eating of] carrion, which involves a [transgression of a] prohibition, but not profane food, [the eating of] which is not prohibited at all, therefore Scripture said: 'Ye shall afflict', 'and ye shall afflict your souls', which is inclusive. I might then include profane food, the eating of which is not commanded, but exclude terumah, 12 the eating of which is commanded, therefore Scripture said: 'Ye shall afflict', 'and ye shall afflict your souls', which is inclusive. I might then include terumah, which is not subject to the law concerning remaining over, but exclude holy sacrifices, in connection with which the law concerning remaining over applies, therefore the text reads: 'Ye shall afflict', 'and ye shall afflict your souls', which is inclusive. And if you should have any remark [in objection thereto], [I can reply], Behold Scripture said: And I will destroy that soul, 13 i.e., an affliction which causes a destruction of life, and what is that but [the denial of] eating and drinking? What is [meant by]: And if you should have any remark [in objection thereto]? ' One might have said Scripture speaks here of marital intercourse, 14 therefore the text reads: 'And I will destroy that soul', i.e., an affliction which causes the destruction of life, and that is [the abstention from] eating and drinking. The School of R. Ishmael taught: Here the phrase 'affliction' is used, and there 15 the term 'affliction' is used; just as there an affliction through hunger is meant, so is here an affliction through hunger meant. But let us infer from: 'If thou shalt afflict my daughters'? 16 ' One should infer concerning the affliction of a community from another affliction of a community, but not for the affliction of a community from the affliction of an individual. But let us infer it from the 'affliction' in Egypt, as it is said: And [the Lord] saw our affliction, 17 and in connection with which we said: This is the enforced abstinence from marital intercourse? ' Rather [answer thus]: One infers for a heavenly affliction from another heavenly affliction, but one should not infer concerning a heavenly affliction from an affliction through human beings. 18"

"Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna . . . that He might afflict thee. 19 R. Ammi and R. Assi [are disputing], one said, You cannot compare one who has bread in his basket with one who has none, 20 the other said: You cannot compare one who sees what he eats with one who does not see what he is eating. 21 R. Joseph said: This is an allusion to [the reason] why blind people eat on without becoming satisfied. Abaye said: Therefore let him who has a meal eat only in daylight. R. Zera said: What Scriptural verse intimates that? Better is the seeing of the eyes than the wandering of the desire. 22 Resh Lakish said: Better is the pleasure of looking at a woman than the act itself as it is said: 'Better is the seeing of the eyes than the wandering of the desire'."

MY COMMENTS:

1) It should be clear that they don't really understand the instructions for Atonement. "To afflict ourselves" simply means that we fast totally ... abstaining from both, food and drink. That's all. Can you see that YOUR understanding of this biblical instruction is FAR CLEARER that what the Jewish "sages" have recorded for posterity in their "oral law", the Talmud?

2) The reasoning of: "This is an allusion to [the reason] why blind people eat on without becoming satisfied. Abaye said: Therefore let him who has a meal eat only in daylight." ... is very odd indeed! And it obviously has nothing to do with "afflicting our souls".

Does this sound like something that was preserved from the days of Moses? Hardly!

Let's look at the next quotation.

V) Talmud - Mas. Yevamoth 34b

[COMMENT: A few sentences earlier it was asserted that a woman could not fall pregnant from her first experience of sexual intercourse, an assertion that is obviously incorrect. The statement below refers to this claim, asserting that Tamar conceived from a "first contact".]

"Surely Tamar 1 conceived from a first contact! The other answered him: Tamar exercised friction with her finger; 2 for R. Isaac said: All women of the house of Rabbi who exercise friction 3 are designated Tamar. And why are they designated Tamar? 'Because Tamar exercised friction with her finger. But were there not Er and Onan? 4 ' Er and Onan indulged in unnatural intercourse."

"An objection was raised: During all the twenty-four months 5 one may thresh within and winnow without; 6 these are the words of R. Eliezer. The others said to him: Such actions are only like the practice of Er and Onan! 7 -Like the practice of Er and Onan, and yet not [exactly] like the practice of Er and Onan: 'Like the practice of Er and Onan', for it is written in Scripture, And it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilt it on the ground; 8 and 'not [exactly] like the practice of Er and Onan', for whereas there it was an unnatural act, here it is done in the natural way."

"[The source for] Onan's [guilt] may well be traced, for it is written in Scripture, That he spilt it on the ground; 8 whence however, [that of] Er?-R. Nahman b. Isaac replied: It is written, And He slew him also, 9 he also died of the same death. 10"

"[The reason for] Onan's [action] may well be understood, because he knew that the seed would not be his; 8 but why did Er act in such a manner?" In order that she might not conceive and thus lose some of her beauty."

NOTICE THE FOOTNOTES:

(2) Having thus destroyed her virginity, she was capable of conception from a first contact.

(3) To destroy their virginity.

(5) After the birth of a child, i.e., during the period in which the mother is expected to breast-feed her child.

(6) Euphemism. This would prevent possible conception which might deprive the young child of the breast feeding of his mother.

MY COMMENTS:

1) The reasoning presented is utterly absurd!! First they reason that it is impossible for a woman to fall pregnant the first time she has sexual intercourse. And then, in order to get around this restricting factor, they reason that Tamar ... "EXERCISED FRICTION WITH HER FINGER", thereby destroying her virginity and thus thereafter being (supposedly) capable of conceiving from her first sexual contact with a man.

This is what the Jews refer to as "THE ORAL LAW", which was supposedly handed down to them from the days of Moses. Notice the claims they make about Tamar, claims which are absurd! Surely we can see that this "information" about Tamar is not something that was "orally preserved"! It is something someone made up!

2) Then they talk about ... "All women of the house of Rabbi who exercise friction 3 are designated Tamar" ... as if it was a very common practice (supposedly several in the household of the leading family at the time) for women to destroy their virginity wilfully. This is also weird!

3) Notice that the reason they provide for Er's actions (in refusing to raise up a child to his brother's name) is purely guesswork! Again, there is no secret knowledge that they somehow had access to, something that had been orally preserved faithfully for centuries before it was finally recorded. All they present is their unsubstantiated reasoning.

Let's go to the next quotation.

VI) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 60a

"IF A MAN'S WIFE IS PREGNANT AND HE SAYS, MAY [GOD] GRANT THAT MY WIFE BEAR etc. THIS IS A VAIN PRAYER. Are prayers then [in such circumstances] of no avail? R. Joseph cited the following in objection: And afterwards she bore a daughter and called her name Dinah. 8 What is meant by 'afterwards'? Rab said: After Leah had passed judgment on herself, saying, 'Twelve tribes are destined to issue from Jacob. Six have issued from me and four from the handmaids, making ten. If this child will be a male, my sister Rachel will not be equal to one of the handmaids'. Forthwith the child was turned to a girl, as it says, And she called her name Dinah! 9 ' We cannot cite a miraculous event [in refutation of the Mishnah]. Alternatively I may reply that the incident of Leah occurred within forty days [after conception], according to what has been taught: Within the first three days a man should pray that the seed should not putrefy; from the third to the fortieth day he should pray that the child should be a male; from the fortieth day to three months he should pray that it should not be a sandal; 10 from three months to six months he should pray that it should not be still-born; from six months to nine months he should pray for a safe delivery. But does such a prayer 11 avail? Has not R. Isaac the son of R. Ammi said: 'If the man first emits seed, the child will be a girl; if the woman first emits seed, the child will be a boy? 12 ' With what case are we dealing here? If, for instance, they both emitted seed at the same time."

MY COMMENTS:

1) It is odd to reason that: "may God grant that my wife bear a child" ... is a vain prayer, when the woman is already pregnant. The prayers the Pharisees have devised instead of such a straight-forward request are utterly ritualistic and meaningless to God. Another "oral tradition" that has been preserved from the time of Moses? Hardly!

2) What Leah is supposed to have said is utterly fictitious! It was made up by some man more than 1500 years later! What credibility is there to "supposed sayings" of biblical personages that the Talmud presents to us? There is no credibility at all.

It is utterly futile to quote something the Talmud CLAIMS a biblical person is supposed to have said or done ... UNLESS this event or this statement is also recorded in the Bible. Everything else was simply made up!

3) The reasoning in the Talmud implies that Leah had control over the sex of the children she bore. That is simply not true!

4) Another made-up point is stated as follows: "Alternatively I may reply that the incident of Leah occurred within forty days [after conception], according to what has been taught ...". This idea that they supposedly know of an incident that happened "40 days" after conception is also just made up ... it seemed "reasonable" to some sage at some time.

Let's look at another quotation, another lengthy one.

VII) Talmud - Mas. Shabbath 156a

"It was recorded in R. Joshua b. Levi's notebook: He who [is born] on the first day of the week [Sunday] shall be a man without one [thing] in him ' What does 'without one [thing] in him' mean? Shall we say, without one virtue? 16 Surely R. Ashi said: I was born on the first day of the week! Hence it must surely mean, one vice. But Surely R. Ashi said: I and Dimi b. Kakuzta were born on the first day of the week: I am a king 17 and he is the captain of thieves! 18 ' Rather it means either completely virtuous or completely wicked. 19 [What is the reason? Because light and darkness were created on that day. ]2 ' He who is born on the second day of the week will be bad-tempered ' What is the reason? Because the waters were divided thereon. 21 He who is born on the third day of the week will be wealthy and unchaste. What is the reason? Because herbs were created thereon. 22 He who is born on the fourth day of the week will be wise and of a retentive memory. 23 What is the reason? Because the luminaries were suspended [thereon] ' He who is born on the fifth day of the week will practise benevolence. What is the reason? Because the fishes and birds were created thereon. 24 He who is born on the eve of the Sabbath will be a seeker. R. Nahman b. Isaac commented: A seeker after good deeds. 25 He who is born on the Sabbath will die on the Sabbath, because the great day of the Sabbath was desecrated on his account. Raba son of R. Shila observed: And he shall be called a great and holy man. 26"

"R. Hanina said to then, [his disciples]: Go out and tell the son of Levi, Not the constellation of the day but that of the hour is the determining influence. He who is born under the constellation of the sun 27 will be a distinguished 28 man: he will eat and drink of his own and his secrets will lie uncovered; if a thief, he will have no success. He who is born under Venus will be wealthy and unchaste [immoral]. What is the reason? Because fire was created therein. 29 He who is born under Mercury will be of a retentive memory and wise. What is the reason? Because it [Mercury] is the sun's scribe. He who is born under the Moon will be a man to suffer evil, building and demolishing, demolishing and building. eating and drinking that which is not his and his secrets will remain hidden: if a thief, he will be successful. 30 He who is born under Saturn will be a man whose plans will be frustrated. 31 Others say: All [nefarious] designs against him will be frustrated. He who is born under Zedek [Jupiter] will be a right-doing man [zadkan] R. Nahman b. Isaac observed: Right-doing in good deeds. 'He who is born under Mars will be a shedder of blood. R. Ashi observed: Either a surgeon, a thief, a slaughterer, or a circumciser. Rabbah said: I was born under Mars. 32 Abaye retorted: You too inflict punishment and kill. 33"

"It was stated. R. Hanina said: The planetary influence gives wisdom, the planetary influence gives wealth, and Israel stands under planetary influence. R. Johanan maintained: Israel is immune from planetary influence. 34 Now, R. Johanan is consistent with his view, for R. Johanan said: How do we know that Israel is immune from planetary influence? Because it is said, Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the nations are dismayed at them: 35 they are dismayed but not Israel. 36 Rab too holds that Israel is immune from planetary influence. For Rab Judah said in Rab's name: How do we know that Israel is immune from planetary influence? Because it is said, and he brought him forth from abroad. 37 Abraham pleaded before the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Sovereign of the Universe! one born in mine house is mine heir.' 38 'Not so,' He replied, 'but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels.' 39 'Sovereign of the Universe!' cried he, 'I have looked at my constellation and find that I am not fated to beget child.' 'Go forth from [i.e., cease] thy planet [gazing], for Israel is free from planetary influence. What is thy calculation?"

MY COMMENTS:

1) This idea of astrology is sheer paganism. So you could be a respected teacher amongst the Jews and still believe in astrology. This is a pagan element in Judaism! And it features in their "oral law". Did they get this from Moses? Hardly!

2) The claim that Abraham consulted astrology in order to find out whether he would have children by Sarah is nonsense! The claim that Abraham supposedly said: ... "I have looked at my constellation and find that I am not fated to beget child" is ridiculous! Abraham did not practice such pagan customs! Again, what credibility rating does this imply for other statements or actions attributed to Abraham? ZERO!

Let's look at another quotation.

VIII) Talmud - Mas. Rosh HaShana 10b

"(We infer from what has just been said that both [R. Meir and R. Eleazar] were of opinion that the world was created in Nisan.) 8"

"It has been taught: R. Eliezer says: In Tishri the world was created; in Tishri the Patriarchs 9 were born; in Tishri the Patriarchs died; on Passover Isaac was born; on New Year Sarah, Rachel and Hannah were visited; 10 on New Year Joseph went forth from prison"

FOOTNOTES 8-10

"(8) Because both agree that 'the first day of the first month' in the text marks the beginning of another year. Rashi points out that both might equally well hold that the 'first month' here means Tishri, it being so called as first month to the creation and he therefore rejects this sentence. But v. Tosaf. s.v. kkfn .

(9) Abraham and Jacob.

(10) I.e., remembered on high. "

MY COMMENTS:

1) Here we see that some Jewish teachers were of the opinion that the world was created in Nisan, while other teachers believe it was created in Tishri. Were their opinions based on things that had somehow been preserved orally, as a part of the "oral law"? NO, OBVIOUSLY NOT! If there was "oral preservation", then there would be no disagreement amongst prominent teachers.

And if "oral preservation" results in the creation of the world having taken place in either Nisan or in Tishri ... how reliable are other supposed orally preserved accounts likely to be?

2) The claim that both, Abraham and Jacob, were born in Tishri and died in Tishri are totally without any proof! It just "sounds good" to have it that way.

3) The claim that on the Day of Trumpets Rachel and Hannah conceived are equally fabricated; it sounds good to have it that way, that's all. But these claims are not at all related to anything that was supposedly "preserved".

4) The claim about Isaac's birth is equally made up, as I will show later with another quotation. None of these claims have anything to do with "preserved records"; they are all based on nothing but faulty reasoning.

See the next quotation for such conflicts. This is another lengthy quotation.

IX) Talmud - Mas. Rosh HaShana 11a

" ... ; on New Year the bondage of our ancestors in Egypt ceased; 1 in Nisan they were redeemed and in Nisan they will be redeemed in the time to come. R. Joshua says: In Nisan the world was created; in Nisan the Patriarchs were born; in Nisan the Patriarchs died; on Passover Isaac was born; on New Year Sarah, Rachel and Hannah were visited; on New Year Joseph went forth from prison; on New Year the bondage of our ancestors ceased in Egypt; and in Nisan they will be redeemed in time to come."

"It has been taught: 'R. Eliezer says: Whence do we know that the world was created in Tishri? Because it says, And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit-tree. 2 Which is the month in which the earth puts forth grass and the trees are full of fruit? You must say that this is Tishri. That time was the season of rainfall, 3 and the rain came down and the plants sprouted, as it says, And a mist went up from the earth. 4"

"R. Joshua says: Whence do we know that the world was created in Nisan? Because it says, And the earth brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after its kind, and tree bearing fruit.5 Which is the month in which the earth is full of grass and trees [begin to] produce fruit? You must say that this is Nisan. That time was the period when cattle, beasts and fowls copulate with one another, as it says, The rains have mounted the sheep etc.6 And how does the other explain the text, 'tree bearing fruit'? ' This signifies a blessing for future generations. And what does the other make of the words 'fruit-tree'? ' This is to be explained in accordance with the dictum of R. Joshua b. Levi; for R. Joshua b. Levi said: All creatures of the creation were brought into being with their full stature, their full capacities, and their full beauty, as it says, And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them [zeba'am]. Read not zeba'am, but zibyonam [their beauty]."

"R. Joshua said: Whence do we know that the patriarchs were born in Nisan? Because it says, and it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year in the month of Ziv11 ' that is, the month in which the brilliant ones [zewthane] of the world were born. But how does he explain the expression 'month of Ethanim'? ' It means, [the month] which is strong in religious duties. 12 What does the other make of the expression 'in the month of Ziv'? ' It means, the month in which there is splendour for the trees, for so Rab Judah has said: When a man goes abroad in the days of Nisan and sees trees blossoming, he should say, 'Blessed is He that hath not left His world short of anything and has created therein goodly creatures and goodly trees to rejoice mankind'."

"He who holds that they were born in Nisan holds that they died in Nisan, and he who holds that they were born in Tishri holds that they died in Tishri, as it says, I am a hundred and twenty years old this day. 13 The word 'this day' seems here superfluous. What then is the point of it? [As much as to say], This day my days and years have reached full measure, which teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, sits and completes the years of the righteous from day to day and from month to month, as it says, The number of thy days I will fulfil. 14"

"Whence do we know that Isaac was born on Passover? ' Because it is written, On the [next] festival 15 I will return unto thee. 16 Now when was he [the angel] speaking? 17 Shall I say [he was speaking] on Passover and referring to Pentecost? Could she bear in fifty days? 18 Shall I say then that [he was speaking on] Pentecost and was referring to Tishri? Even in five months could she bear? I must suppose then that he was speaking on Tabernacles and referring to Passover. 19 Even so, could she bear in six months? ' It has been taught that that year was a leap year. All the same, if the Master deducts the days of uncleanness, 20 the time is too short? ' Mar Zutra replied: Even those who hold that when a woman bears at nine months she does not give birth before the month is complete 21 admit that if she bears at seven months she can give birth before the month is complete, as it says, And it came to pass after the cycle of days; 22 the minimum of cycles is two, and the minimum of days is two."

"'On New Year Sarah, Rachel and Hannah were visited'. Whence do we know this? ' R. Eliezer said: We learn it from the two occurrences of the word 'visiting', and the two occurrences of the word 'remembering'. It is written concerning Rachel, And God remembered Rachel, 23 and it is written concerning Hannah, And the Lord remembered her, 24 and there is an analogous mention of 'remembering' in connection with New Year, as it is written, a solemn rest, a remembering of the blast of the trumpet. 25 The double mention of visiting [is as follows]. It is written concerning Hannah, For the Lord had visited Hannah, 26 and it is written concerning Sarah, And the Lord visited Sarah. 27"

"'On New Year Joseph went forth from the prison'. Whence do we know this? ' Because it is written, Blow the horn on the new moon, on the covering day for our festival . . ."

MY COMMENTS:

1) This is nothing more than confusion. The CONFLICTING claims make quite clear that NONE of these claims are based on some record that was supposedly "orally preserved".

2) Some teachers pick Nisan for the creation of the world, for the births of the patriarchs and for their deaths, while other teachers pick Tishri for the same things. They can't all be right, and clearly NONE OF THEM have the authority of "faithfully preserved oral information" on their side. Both sides of the argument are making up their claims, based on their own reasoning.

This is one of countless illustrations I could present to show that for most issues the Talmud offers you a choice of which idea you would like to accept as the true record ... though the next person may choose differently from you.

3) The main point I wish to make here is that records like this remove any vestige of credibility from claims the Talmud may present regarding people who lived in Old Testament times.

Here is another quotation.

X) Talmud - Mas. Rosh HaShana 11b

"R. Joshua and R. Eliezer are herein consistent [with views expressed by them elsewhere], as it has been taught: 'In the sixth hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month. 8 R. Joshua said: That day was the seventeenth day of Iyar, when the constellation of Pleiades sets at daybreak and the fountains begin to dry up, and because they [mankind] perverted their ways, the Holy One, blessed be He, changed for them the work of creation and made the constellation of Pleiades rise at daybreak and took two stars from the Pleiades and brought a flood on the world. R. Eliezer said: That day was the seventeenth of Marheshvan, a day on which the constellation of Pleiades rises at daybreak, and [the season] when the fountains begin to fill"

MY COMMENTS:

1) This again shows the pagan influence of astrology! They tried to "reason out" how God could have caused the flood in the days of Noah. The claim that God took two stars from the constellation of Pleiades in order to cause the flood is ridiculous! It shows that Judaism is as rooted in paganism as is the next false religion.

2) The claim that God changed the heavens so that the constellation of Pleiades would "rise" instead of "set" at daybreak on that specific day is also without any kind of proof. Noah and those with him didn't record this information and no other human beings were around to make this kind of observation. It is just one more totally unsubstantiated assertion.

Let's look at another quotation.

XI) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 10a

"R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai: What is the meaning of the verse, She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue? 16 To whom was Solomon alluding in this verse? He was alluding only to his father David who dwelt in five worlds and composed a psalm [for each of them]. He abode in his mother's womb, and broke into song, as it says, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all my inwards 17 bless His holy name. 18 He came out into the open air and looked upon the stars and constellations and broke into song, as it says, Bless the Lord, ye angels of His, ye mighty in strength that fulfil His word, hearkening unto the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all ye His hosts 19 etc. He sucked from his mother's bosom and looked on her breasts and broke into song, as it says, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. 20 What means 'all His benefits'? ' R. Abbahu said: That He placed her breasts at the source of understanding. 21 For what reason is this? ' Rab Judah said: So that he should not look upon the place of shame; R. Mattena said: So that he should not suck from a place that is foul. He saw the downfall of the wicked and broke into song, as it says, Let sinners cease out of the earth and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul, Hallelujah. 22 He looked upon the day of death and broke into song, as it says, Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, Thou art very great, Thou art clothed with glory and majesty. 23 How does this verse refer to the day of death? ' Rabbah son of R. Shila said: We learn it from the end of the passage, where it is written: Thou hidest Thy face, they vanish, Thou withdrawest their breath, they perish etc. 24"

"R. Hamnuna said: What is the meaning of the verse, Who is as the wise man? And who knoweth the interpretation [pesher] of a thing? 30 Who is like the Holy One, blessed be He, who knew how to effect a reconciliation [pesharah] between two righteous men, Hezekiah and Isaiah? Hezekiah said: Let Isaiah come to me, for so we find that Elijah went to Ahab, 31 as it says, And Elijah went to show himself unto Ahab. 32 Isaiah said: Let Hezekiah come to me, for so we find that Jehoram son of Ahab went to Elisha. 33 What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He brought sufferings upon Hezekiah and then said to Isaiah, Go visit the sick. For so it says, In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet, son of Amoz, came to him and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thy house in order, for thou shalt die and not live 34 etc. What is the meaning of 'thou shalt die and not live'? Thou shalt die in this world and not live in the world to come. He said to him: Why so bad? He replied: Because you did not try to have children. He said: The reason was because I saw by the holy spirit that the children issuing from me would not be virtuous. He said to him: What have you to do with the secrets of the All-Merciful? You should have done what you were commanded, and let the Holy One, blessed be He, do that which pleases Him. He said to him: Then give me now your daughter; perhaps through your merit and mine combined virtuous children will issue from me. He replied: 35 The doom has already been decreed. Said the other: Son of Amoz, finish your prophecy and go. This tradition I have from the house of my ancestor: 36 Even if a sharp sword rests upon a man's neck he should not desist from prayer. 37 This saying is also recorded in the names of R. Johanan and R. Eleazar: Even if a sharp sword rests on a man's neck, he should not desist from prayer, as it says, Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. 38"

MY COMMENTS:

1) Surely we can see from this long quotation how confused the Jews are about what the Scriptures really tell us. How can we POSSIBLY look to people with such a lack of understanding for guidance and direction?

2) Notice this statement: " R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai: What is the meaning of the verse, She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue? 16 To whom was Solomon alluding in this verse?" And then notice the reply!

"He was alluding only to his father David who dwelt in five worlds and composed a psalm [for each of them]"

This is a typical example of what Rodkinson told us the Pharisees did ... interpret the Scriptures FIGURATIVELY! It is ridiculous to claim that Solomon was speaking about his father David as "SHE"!

3) The "five worlds" David is supposed to have lived in are equally fabricated!

4) Notice also how they explain the expression: "What means 'all His benefits'? '" According to the "oral law" this has to do with David's mother's breasts! As the Talmud states: " R. Abbahu said: That He placed her breasts at the source of understanding." If you really believe that David was writing about HIS MOTHER'S BREASTS when he said: "and forget not all his benefits" ... then you really ARE confused in a big, big way!

5) The claim that there was some contest between Isaiah and Hezekiah is totally untrue! The idea that Hezekiah said "let Isaiah come to me" and that Isaiah said "let Hezekiah come to me" is fabricated! There is no truth to it! But this is typical of what was supposedly "PRESERVED" by the "oral law"! How much credibility can we extend to other claims about Isaiah and about Hezekiah that are found in the "oral law"? No credibility at all!

6) The claim that God's pronouncement to Hezekiah of: "... What is the meaning of 'thou shalt die and not live'?" meant: "... Thou shalt die in this world and not live in the world to come" is UTTERLY PERVERSE! Talk about a lack of understanding! Here is a man who served God faithfully (Hezekiah) and the oral law boldly asserts that God told him: "you shall NOT live in the world to come"! What credibility does this give to the oral law?

7) The reasoning about why Hezekiah was supposedly doomed to not live in the world to come is equally odd ... because Hezekiah supposedly did not try to have children! All these "conversations" are totally made up ... there is no substance to them at all!

Let's look at another quotation.

XII) Talmud - Mas. Eiruvin 26a

"What, however, did Isaiah want there? 23 ' Rabbah b. Bar Hana replied in the name of R. Johanan: This 24 teaches that Hezekiah was stricken with illness and Isaiah proceeded to hold a college at his door. 25 From this [it may be inferred] that when a scholar falls ill a college is to be held at his door. This, however, is not [always the proper] course, 26 since Satan might thereby be provoked."

MY COMMENTS:

1) Notice another pagan influence here ... the fear of "provoking Satan". This is again not a biblical concept! The Bible tells us to RESIST the devil, and not to worry about "provoking" him. Satan needs no "provoking"; he is always the accuser of God's people, and he needs no provocation to do this.

2) The idea that Isaiah "held a college" at King Hezekiah's door when the king was sick is based on the traditions of the Pharisees, on nothing more than that. It is something they would do, but not something that Isaiah did!

Here is the next quotation.

XIII) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 5a

"It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Yohai says: The Holy One, blessed be He, gave Israel three precious gifts, and all of them were given only through sufferings. These are: The Torah, the Land of Israel and the world to come. Whence do we know this of the Torah? " Because it is said: Happy is the man whom Thou chastenest, o Lord, and teachest him out of Thy law. 34 Whence of the Land of Israel? " Because it is written: As a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee, 35 and after that it is written: For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land. 36 Whence of the world to come? " Because it is written: For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light, and reproofs of sufferings are the way of life. 37"

MY COMMENTS:

1) Notice here how the oral law interprets the Word of God. Some teacher decided that God gave Israel three gifts and that all three are given "only through sufferings". The three gifts are: God's laws, the land of Israel and the world to come. The Scriptures that are then presented to make these three points are taken totally out of context and really have nothing to do with the points that this "sage" then tried to make.

Notice that the expression "whence do we know" introduces the Scriptures they will use to support their points. Invariably these supporting Scriptures are quoted totally out of context.

XIV) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 18b

"R. Jonathan also retracted his opinion. For R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: Whence do we know that the dead converse with one another? Because it says: And the Lord said unto him: This is the land which I swore unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying. 28 What is the meaning of 'saying'? 29 The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: Say to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: The oath which I swore to you I have already carried out for your descendants."

MY COMMENTS:

1) Here is another mis-application and mis-explanation of a Scripture. Notice also that the oral law here basically represents a pagan idea ... that the dead supposedly "converse with one another". That is something most pagan religions teach.

Here is another quotation.

XV) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 21b

"One authority held that a man praying by himself does say the Sanctification, while the other holds that he does not. So, too, R. Adda b. Abahah said: Whence do we know that a man praying by himself does not say the Sanctification? Because it says: I will be hallowed among the children of Israel; 6 for any manifestation of sanctification not less than ten are required. How is this derived? Rabinai the brother of R. Hiyya b. Abba taught: We draw an analogy between two occurrences of the word 'among'. It is written here, I will be hallowed among the children of Israel, and it is written elsewhere. Separate yourselves from among this congregation. 7 Just as in that case ten are implied, 8 so here ten are implied."

MY COMMENTS:

1) This gives us an insight into how the oral law reaches some conclusions. They reach a very questionable conclusion by ... "DRAWING AN ANALOGY between two uses of the word 'among'". They wrongly conclude that in one case ten are implied and therefore feel justified in infer that the other use of 'among' must also imply ten.

2) It should be becoming quite clear that if you really want to look to some commentary for an explanation of any biblical teachings, then the Talmud, the oral law, is the last place you would want to look! Most of the Protestant commentaries on the Old Testament are going to give you something closer to the truth than you will find in the Talmud.

But let's move on to the next quotation.

XVI) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 32b

"R. Hanin said in the name of R. Hanina: If one prays long his prayer does not pass unheeded. Whence do we know this? From Moses our Master; for it says, And I prayed unto the Lord, 9 and it is written afterwards, And the Lord hearkened unto me that time also. 10 But is that so? Has not R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: If one prays long and looks for the fulfilment of his prayer, in the end he will have vexation of heart, as it says, Hope deferred maketh the heart sick? 11"

MY COMMENTS:

1) Here we have another mis-application of a Scripture. They assert that because God heard Moses' prayer, THEREFORE "long prayers" will be heard by God. This is in direct conflict with what Jesus Christ stated (see Mark 12:40 and Matthew 23:14, etc.).

2) The next teacher reached the opposite conclusion (that long prayers lead to vexation of heart). So you can believe either of these two positions and claim the support of the oral law.

3) Neither view focuses on praying with the goal of seeking to understand God's will. The application of "hope deferred ..." is simply to selfish prayers. But notice that Scriptures are just at random drawn out of the air in order to support a point of view that is put forward. Even when the point of view presented may not be totally incorrect, yet even then the Scriptures used to justify that view are selected at random.

This should tell us that what these "sages" did is as follows:

A) They have a point of view, which may be right or it may be wrong.

B) THEN they look through the Scriptures to find support for that point of view.

C) This is done with a total disregard for the context of the Scriptures they decide to present to support their own ideas.

D) At times it may not look like too much of a mis-application of a Scripture, because their personal view is basically acceptable.

E) At other times their personal idea is way out on a pagan limb (the dead conversing, etc.), and then the Scriptures they present are also totally mis-interpreted.

Let's move on to the next quotation.

XVII) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 32b

"It has been taught similarly: One who says the Tefillah should wait an hour before his prayer and an hour after his prayer. Whence do we know [that he should wait] before his prayer? Because it says: 'Happy are they that dwell in Thy house'. Whence after his prayer? Because it says, 'Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Thy name, the upright shall dwell in Thy presence'. Our Rabbis taught: The pious men of old used to wait for an hour and pray for an hour and then wait again for an hour. But seeing that they spend nine hours a day over prayer, how is their knowledge of Torah preserved and how is their work done? [The answer is] that because they are pious, their Torah is preserved 27 and their work is blessed. 28"

MY COMMENTS:

1) Here we have a typical example of how they totally misapply the Scriptures. To justify their own tradition of waiting for an hour before saying a certain prayer they appeal to Psalm 84:5, which says that ... "Happy are they that dwell in Thy house" (JPS). [In the KJV this verse is Psalm 84:4.] But this verse has nothing to do with their custom of saying the Tefillah.

2) Similarly, they use the statement: "... Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Thy name, the upright shall dwell in Thy presence" from Psalm 140:14 of the JPS [in the KJV this is Psalm 140:13] to justify their tradition of also waiting an hour after they had prayed. Clearly the Scriptures they quote have nothing at all to do with justifying the ritualistic ways of praying they have developed.

NOTE! What we see here is a very PAGAN custom of offering ritualistic prayers in a ritualistic setting. The Scriptures they quote as support have nothing to do with this ritualistic pagan custom!

3) The idea that God would want pious men to spend NINE HOURS A DAY (!) in prayer is absurd! This is the type of extreme behaviour that is commonly found in pagan religions. It also shows a total lack of understanding the real purpose God built into our human physical existences.

Let's move on to another quotation.

XVIII) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 35a

"C H A P T E R V I

... Nahmani in the name of R. Jonathan. For R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: Whence do we know that a song of praise is sung only over wine? 7 Because it says, And the vine said unto them: Should I leave my wine which cheereth God and man? 8 If it cheers man, how does it cheer God? From this we learn that a song of praise is sung only over wine."

MY COMMENTS:

1) Jotham, the son of Gideon, spoke a parable to his half-brother Abimelech and said in Judges 9:13 ... "And the vine said unto them: Should I leave my wine which cheereth God and man?". This saying Jotham presented as a reproach to his murderous half-brother. From this verse the Jews claim to "KNOW" that a song of praise is sung "ONLY OVER WINE". Talk about twisting the Scriptures!

Understand that a vast number of assertions the Jews make about biblical and religious matters are based on precisely this type of mis-interpretation of the Scriptures. Surely we cannot lend any credibility to such irresponsible interpretations of the Bible!?!

Here is another quotation.

XIX) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 43b

"R. Zutra b. Tobiah further said in the name of Rab: A torch is as good as two [persons] 12 and moonlight as good as three. The question was asked: Is the torch as good as two counting the carrier, or as good as two besides the carrier? " Come and hear: 'Moonlight is as good as three'. If now you say, 'including the carrier there is no difficulty. But if you say, 'besides the carrier', why do I want four, seeing that a Master has said: To one [person] an evil spirit may show itself and harm him; to two it may show itself, but without harming them; to three it will not even show itself? We must therefore say that a torch is equivalent to two including the carrier; and this may be taken as proved."

"R. Zutra b. Tobiah further said in the name of Rab " according to others. R. Hanah b. Bizna said it in the name of R. Simeon the Pious, and according to others again. R. Johanan said it in the name of R. Simeon b Yohai: It is better for a man that he should cast himself into a fiery furnace rather than that he should put his fellow to shame in public. 13 Whence do we know this? From Tamar, of whom it says, When she was brought forth etc. 14"

MY COMMENTS:

1) Here we see another pagan belief. The idea that a torch is as good as two persons and moonlight is as good as three persons refers to being confronted by an evil spirit while walking in the dark. Supposedly a torch offers protection from attacks by evil spirits, and moonlight offers even more protection?

That is the type of pagan custom the indigenous people here in Africa have, that evil spirits attack in the dark!

2) In Genesis chapter 38 Tamar conceived by her father-in-law Judah. When he found out that Tamar was pregnant, Judah instructed that she should be burnt (verse 24). Then verse 25 says: "when she was brought forth ..." she sent the staff, the signet and the bracelets to Judah, who recognized them as his own.

Based on this verse a sage concluded that ... "It is better for a man that he should cast himself into a fiery furnace rather than that he should put his fellow to shame in public". While the principle of not putting other people to shame in public is a good one, the teaching presented by this "sage" is rather far-fetched; not exactly what you would conclude from examining this account in Genesis 38.

Let's see another quotation.

XX) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 51b

"R. Assi said: One should not speak over the cup of benediction. 8 R. Assi also said: One should not speak over the cup of punishment. What is the cup of punishment? " R. Nahman b. Isaac said: a second cup. 9 It has been taught similarly: He who drinks an even number 10 should not say grace, 11 because it says, Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel, 12 and this one is not fitly prepared."

MY COMMENTS:

1) Here we see another pagan belief. The idea is that there is an importance attached to THE NUMBER of cups we may drink. It is supposedly better to drink an odd number of cups than an even number of cups. It stems from the pagan idea that certain numbers are unlucky.

2) The Scripture from Amos 4:12 ("prepare to meet thy God, O Israel") has nothing at all to do with whether you drink an odd number of cups or an even number of cups. Only if you have a background in pagan customs can the number of cups you drink assume a significance. But this is the Jewish ORAL law!

Let's move on.

XXI) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 55a

"A prophet that hath a dream let him tell a dream: and he that hath My word let him speak My word faithfully. What hath the straw to do with the wheat, saith the Lord. 36 What is the connection of straw and wheat with a dream? The truth is, said R. Johanan in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai, that just as wheat cannot be without straw, so there cannot be a dream without some nonsense. R. Berekiah said: While a part of a dream may be fulfilled, the whole of it is never fulfilled. Whence do we know this? From Joseph, as it is written, And behold the sun and the moon [and eleven stars bowed down to me,] 37 and ..."

MY COMMENTS:

The reasoning about wheat and straw and the validity of dreams is again ridiculous. The sages obviously also did not really understand the meaning of Joseph's dream.

Let's move on.

XXII) Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 55b

"... at that time his mother was not living. R. Levi said: A man should await the fulfilment of a good dream for as much as twenty-two years. Whence do we know this? From Joseph. For it is written: These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph being seventeen years old, etc.; 1 and it is further written, And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh. 2 How many years is it from seventeen to thirty? Thirteen. Add the seven years of plenty and two of famine, 3 and you have twenty-two."

MY COMMENTS:

This is again a totally wrong understanding of the Scriptures. These men have simply made up their own interpretations. Surely we can see that this is not something that was handed down from the time of Moses?

I could present several hundred more quotations like this from the Talmud, all of them making ridiculous associations between certain Scriptures and the conclusions certain sages drew from those Scriptures. And THIS is what the Jews mean by their "ORAL LAW"!

Yet there are people in God's Church who want to extend some credibility to these ridiculous claims made in this Jewish "Oral Law".

The fact is: From a biblical point of view the claims that are made in the Oral Law, the Talmud, are of no value at all. It is only when the Talmud refers to things that pertain to the first century A.D. and later that the Talmud attains a measure of historical value, because it is then commenting about things, customs and conditions that were extant while the Talmud was being written. And for all those things (describing life from the first century A.D. onwards) the Talmud usually also does not appeal to any Scriptures for support.

But the claims in the Talmud about biblical personages and biblical events must always be viewed as unreliable.

Frank W. Nelte