Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. - Irenaeus

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jesus in the Tenach


If Christians claim Jesus is the Messiah,
and the Law and the Prophets supposedly refer to him,
shouldn’t his name be found in the Tenach?

The name Jesus is actually the English translation for the Hebrew word "Yeshua" and the Greek word "Iesus." But the true meaning of the word is "salvation." This word is found about 100 times in the Hebrew Tenach — the very same word that the angel Gabriel used in Matthew 1:21: "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (Yeshuah, or salvation), because he will save his people from their sins."
With very few exceptions, whenever the Tenach uses the word salvation, it’s the same word (Yeshua, Iesus, or Jesus) used in Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:31. Since Joseph and Mary were themselves Jews, they heard Gabriel’s words not in English or Greek or Latin, but in Hebrew — and neither of them were slow to catch the meaning of the name given to this divine Son of God: he would be the salvation of God’s people.

Hebrew names often carry with them a specific and significant meaning. For example, in Genesis 5:29, Lamech called his son Noah (or "comfort"), saying: "He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands."
The same is true of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, whose name means "drawn forth" because he was rescued from the Nile River as a baby (Ex. 2:10).

Here are just a few verses where Yeshua, or Jesus, is in the Tenach: In Genesis 49:18, Jacob cries out from his deathbed: "I have waited for your salvation, O Lord" What he actually said was: "To your Yeshua (Jesus) I am looking, O Lord!" Yeshua (Jesus) was the One in whom Jacob was trusting to carry him safely beyond death. Because of his faith, Jacob was a saved man.

In Isaiah 12:2-3, the word salvation is mentioned three times: "Surely God is my salvation (Yeshua, or Jesus); I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation (Yeshua, or Jesus). With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation (Jesus)." See also Psalms 9:14 and 91:14-16.

Arthur E. Glass, himself a Jew, recounts the following conversation: "Something very interesting occurred one spring in St. Louis. I was visiting in the home of our friends, and another Jew was present there. He claimed Jewish orthodoxy for his creed. Of course the conversation centered around Him who is the center of all things — Jesus. This good Jewish brother opposed the claims of Jesus being in the Old Testament verbally, and in a friendly fashion, most violently. His best offensive weapon, he thought, was to fling at me and at all of us there the well-known challenge: "You can’t find the name ‘Jesus’ in the Old Testament."
I did not answer him directly, but asked him to translate for us from my Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 62:11. Being a Hebrew scholar, he did so with utmost ease, rapidity, and correctness; and here is what and how he translated that text verbatim: "Behold, Jehovah has proclaimed unto the end of the world. Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold thy Yeshua cometh; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him." Just then he crimsoned as he realized what he had done and how he had played into my hands, and he just fairly screamed out, "No! no! You made me read it ‘thy Yeshua’ (Jesus), Mr. Glass! You tricked me!" I said, "No, I did not trick you. I just had you read the Word of God for yourself. Can’t you see that here Salvation is a person and not a thing or an event? "He comes, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him." Then he rushed at his own Old Testament, talking away frantically, saying, "I’m sure mine is different from yours." And when he found the passage, he just dropped like a deflated balloon. His Old Testament was, of course, identical. All he could use as an escape from the admitting defeat was to deny the divine inspiration of the book of Isaiah."

In Habakkuk 3:13 is the greatest demonstration of the name of Jesus (salvation) in the Tenach, where it gives both the name as well as the title of the Savior. Translated from the original Hebrew, it says:
"Thou went forth with the Yesha (a variant of Yeshua, or Jesus) of (or for) thy people; with Yeshua thy Messiah (the Anointed One); thou wounded the head of the house of the wicked one (Satan)."

There it is! So don’t let anyone — Jew or Gentile — tell you that the name Jesus is not found in the Tenach.
When the aged Jew Simeon came into the Temple, led there by the Holy Spirit, he took the baby Yeshua (Jesus) in his arms and said: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people" (Luke 2:25-30).
The first Christians were Jews who knew their scriptures as well as orthodox Jews today. They saw and recognized the fulfillment of God’s words as spoken through the prophets in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha Mashiach). Those who didn’t recognize or accept their Messiah are summed up by his own words: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather you children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’" (Luke 13:34).

And later, Yeshua wept over Jerusalem and foretold the destruction of the Temple, which occurred in 70 AD:
"If you, even you, (Jerusalem) had only know on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you" (Luke 19:41-44).

The offer of salvation through the blood atonement of the Messiah is still open to whoever will accept Him.

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