The Essenes, the Hasidim and the
Righteous Gentile of the Nations
Jesus the Nazarene and the Divine Mission to Bring the
“Good News” to the Gentiles by the Seven Noahide Laws
By Robert Mock M.D.
Hillel said: Be You of the Disciples of Aaron,
One who Loves Peace, Pursues Peace,
Loves Mankind and Brings Them Nigh to the Torah. Avot 1:12
As I stood on the rocky ledge at Qumran overlooking the deep rocky wadis below, only then did I realize the beauty of the isolation and the closeness that the inhabitants of this close knit commune developed with the God and the Land of Israel. Scholars today are still overwhelming in their consensus that living in this community site we see today at Khirbat Qumran (Qumran Ruins) were members of the highly secretive sect of the Jews called the Essenes.
Though today the waters of the Dead Sea can still be seen in the distance, with the receding shores of this almost dried up ancient salty lake, I could only perceive the beauty of the former shorelines closing in close to the elevated cliffs of this community of the Hasidim. Who were these people that many today suggest formed the closest community of supporters to Jesus the Nazarene?
The Essenes are best known today as the inhabitants from Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were located by Bedouins first in 1947. It is now known that they were closely affiliated with the Hasidim, a sectarian group that included the disciples of Hillel and Menahem the Essene who left for Damascus in 20 BCE.
Not more that twenty years ago, before the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls was made known, little was known about the Essenes except from the writings of a few select contemporary authors. These authors included first; the Jewish priest and Galilean commander Flavius Josephus in his “Jewish Wars” written about 73-75 CE (Jewish Wars 2:119-161) and Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews” written about twenty years later. (Antiquities 18:11, 18-22); Josephus, claiming first hand knowledge, called the Essenes, the Essenoi. They were members of one of the three Jewish philosophies along with the Pharisees and Sadducees (Life §§10-11).
Then there was the Jewish Philosopher Philo of Alexandria (20BCE-54 CE) in a few writings (Philo, Quod Omnis Probus Liber Sit XII.75-87 plus excerpts from Hypothetica 11.1-18) that were cited by the Roman Christian historian Eusebius (Eusebius, Die Praeparatio Evangelica Bk VIII). Once again the Essenes were called in their Greek form, Essaioi.
The third and last two short references to the Essenes were by the Roman equestrian Pliny the Elder (23 CE-79CE) in his work called Natural History (Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Bk 5.73)
The Copper Scroll, the Temple Scroll and the Dead Sea Scrolls
The international world has identified the Essenes and the ruins at Qumran with the identity of “caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” It was here in 1947 that the Bedouin, Mohammed Dieb threw a rock into the opening of a cave and heard the shattering of a crock of pottery. Dieb was an instant celebrity as the religious and secular world was riveted with the news that ancient scrolls from the days of Jesus had been found. Here is the personal story of Mohammed Dieb.
Mohammed Dieb - "I do not know how the story got started that I was throwing rocks at my goats. My goats were grazing down there in the flat. I was sitting right up there on that ledge. I was bored and started throwing rocks against some big stones to see if I could break them. One rock glanced off of a stone and went into a small opening and I heard a strange thud and a cracking sound. I came down and slid into the opening. The whole cave was full of jars. There were forty jars, but they were all empty except the ones here in the niche on the right side. We found seven scrolls. One of them was the scroll that Yadin got from Kendo."
The Refectory or Dining Hall at Khirbat Qumran were Communal Meals were held – Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
The Temple Scroll, called the Ibex Skin Scroll was found at Qumran in 1950 in Cave 11, by the same Bedouin, Mohammed Dieb, who found the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 less than 25 meters away. Within this cave, thirty scrolls were discovered including the Leviticus Scroll besides the Temple Scroll. Within the Ibex Skin Scroll was the documented that it was written by Shimur HaLevi in 431 BCE (Jewish Years 3331) who would later become the high priest of Zerubbabel’s Temple after the Jewish people returned from exile in Babylon.
The Temple Scroll was initially purchased for $110,000 from the antiquities dealer Kando who had it in his possession for seventeen years. It was purchased by Yigael Yadin at the end of the 1967 Six Day War for the Nation of Israel. Though the sale of the scroll came “of his own free will,” it also came after Kando was jailed by Yadin for having possession of an Isareli national relic.
By the time it was published in 1983, this document had expanded into a multi-volume set written by the Dead Sea Scroll Scholars. The exciting part of this discovery by Professor Yadin was to document, who wrote the script in the First Person. For some scholars, this appeared to be a dictated script given by the Lord of hosts to Moses on the mount called Sinai.
In the Ibex Skin “Temple” Scroll, was recorded a detailed account of how to re-institute the Temple services. The rituals described within the scroll were felt by many scholars to be a description on how to put these buried treasures to use in the service of the God of Jacob in a future third temple. Also included in the Temple Scroll were accounts of the ancient Hebrew festivals which were celebrated by the Essenes, but also instructions of the animal sacrifices that were not celebrated by the Essenes. As such, this document is not accepted by some scholars as a true Essene document, but a treasured document which was a part of their extensive library. Did the Essenes totally reject animal sacrifices? Yes and No! They rejected the sacrifices of the priests in Herod’s Temple as being from a false and corrupt High Priest not of the lineage of Zadok, the High Priest of King David. No, they may not have rejected animal sacrifices as long as the pure and authorized lineage of priests were in charge of the temple services, but the modern Order of the Nazorean Essenes who trace their spiritual heritage to the Essenes of Qumran claim that in the Panarion written by Epiphanius,
Epiphanius - "The Nasaraeans - they were Jews by nationality . . . They acknowledged Moses and believed that he had received laws - not this law, however, but some other. And so, they were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, but they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat. They considered it unlawful to eat meat or make sacrifices with it. They claim that these Books are fictions, and that none of these customs were instituted by the fathers. . . (Epiphanius, “Panarion” 1:18)
Shimur HaLevi, along with being credited as a co-author of the Copper Scroll from Qumran and author of the Ibex Skin “Temple” Scroll, a third document of his has been discovered from the archeological digs of Israel are two immense White Marble Tablets. There in the basement of a Museum in Beirut, Lebanon, two large Marble Tablets were discovered in the summer of 1952 that came from an archeological dig at Mount Carmel. The ancient Hebrew script was inscribed in bas relief just like the Copper Scroll. The letters were protruding out of the marble instead being engraved within the marble.
Pottery Inkwell found at Qumran near a Large Table in the Scriptorium – Israeli Antiquities Authority
It was Rabbi Avraham Sutton who made the identity that the inscription written on the two Marble Tables was identical to the Emeq HaMelekh (Valley of the Kings). This amazing text was the subject of an exhaustive BibleSearchers documentary of a missing text of the 9th century document, Massakhet Keilim that was later found in the Tosephta Mishnayot III under the section of Kilim. It was discovered in the Genizah of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo.
The Messakhet Keilim told the story of the Prophet Jeremiah who mounted a heroic rescue operation to hide the treasures of Solomon’s Temple, when it was apparent that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was imminent. These treasures included: Ark of the Covenant, the bottle of Anointing Oil, Aaron’s Staff and the ‘Chest’ sent by the Pelishtim (Philistines) to Israel as “a gift to the God of Israel”.
The writings on this priceless document in the Cairo Genizah called the Massakhet Keilim matched with one exception the engraved writings on the two white marble tablets that were re-discovered in the basement of the Beirut Lebanon museum. This one exception was the opening statement:
“These are the words of Shimur HaLevi, the servant of HaShem.
In the year 3331 of Adam”.
Shimon HaLevi appears to warrant a distinction of great honor in the history of the Jewish people and in their recorded scripture given to them by the God of Israel. We do have one more clue. We shall soon see in the Mishnah 5 in the Tractate Parah, it lists the number of red heifers that were sacrificed since the time of Moses. After noting that one of the red heifers was burned by Ezra the Levite, then it records that and additional two red heifers were burned by Shimon Ha Tzaddik. The righteousness of Shimon the Levite had now given him the distinctive title of; Shimon the Righteous One or Shimon haZaddik.
It would be another two years (1952) when in another cave now called Cave 3 (Qv15) the archeologists discovered a seven foot “Copper The supervisor of the dig, Professor Gerald Harding kept the discovery secret from the public for four years.
Here on this Copper Scroll the ancient name for Qumran was engraved, “Ir-Tzadok B’Succaca.” It was named after the ravine or canyon where water flows in the rare deluges in this desert area that flowed by the Qumran village. Within ancient maps of Palestine, the wadi next to Qumran was called the Wadi Succaca instead of the Wadi Qumran (Canyon of Qumran.) It was early in the 20th century that The Adam Smith Bible Dictionary identified Wadi Qumran as Wadi Succacah. It was noted the Yishiyim (Essenes) called their community by its ancient Aramaic name of “Ir-Tzadok B’Succaca.” Today it is known by its modern Arabic name, Qumran that means, “Two Moons”.
Some scholars, even to this day, feel that the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Copper Scroll were stored in the caves as a Genizah repository for the Herodian temple library in Jerusalem. Here the aged and damaged documents with the name of YHVH were stored and protected. It has been suggested that the contents of the Temple of Herod were secreted away prior to the destruction and ravaging by the Roman forces under Titus in 68-70 C.E.
The most famous of the Dead Sea Scroll caves due to its highly visible location near the embankment of the Qumran Village was Cave 4. Here was the Mother Lode of the manuscript findings that included over 15,000 fragments that have now been identified in over 200 separate sacred scriptures and Jewish commentary scrolls. This included 122 scrolls or fragments that are part of the Jewish TaNaKh (Old Testament). This brought the entire inventory of the Dead Sea Scrolls in all eleven caves to represent every book in the Hebrew sacred scripture except the Book of Esther, the only biblical book in the Old Testament that does not contain the name of God.
Cave 4 at Qumran as viewed from the ledge of Khirbat Qumran – Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
The first existence of this community of religious and philosophical rebels from mainstream Judaism existed from the third century BCE. Its existence all the way back to the time of the return of the Jews from Persia is suggested by at least one author, Theodor Gaster, who states that Hillel was a disciple of Ezra. In fact the priest called Shechaniah the son of Jehiel (Ezra 10:2) who is talking with Ezra, is suggested as being one of the first Essene priests. (Ibid 45) This suggests that Ezra the Scribe who brought one of the waves of émigrés back to the Land of Israel from Persia was actually the first Teacher of Righteousness (Moreh Tzedek) of the Essenes. (Theodor H. Gaster in “The Dead Sea Scriptures, 1976, pp. 29,107 cited by Rabbi Harvey Falk, “Jesus the Pharisee, A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus”, Paulist Press, 997 Macarthur Boulevard, Mahwah, N.J. 07430, 1985, page 44)
About nineteen hundred and fifty years ago the Essenes disappeared from all physical records. Gradually a profile of the Essenes has been carefully pieced together by the scholars of antiquity. One of the biggest difficulties is that at the zenith of their influence in Jewish culture, they were a “secret” and very secretive organization. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the oaths taken by an initiate into the sect after his rigid probationary period were that they were never to divulge any secrets of the sect to any outsider even if they were tortured to death. (Jewish Encyclopedia 5:229)
Since one of the central focuses of this study is centered upon a mysterious individual called, Menahem (Manahem) the Essene, the profile of this isolated and secretive community is important to know and understand. They were known to be a group of pious Jews who spent their days in isolated closeness with the God of Israel. As such, they became known as the Hasidim, the “pious ones.” Their research and study was to understand their God the Creator better. Throughout their commentaries and writings they mixed images of great conflict and turmoil not only in their day but in a future day of the returning messiah. They were devoted in their love for the God of Israel and for all mankind who walk in the “light”. As stated in the Manual of Discipline:
Manual of Discipline 1:15 – “Everyone who wishes to join the congregation of the elect must pledge himself to live according to the rule of the community...To love all the children of light and to hate all the children of darkness.”
According to the writings of the Essene scholar, Zacharias Frankel:
Zacharias Frankel - “The Essenes conformed to the most rigid rules of Levitical purity while aspiring to the highest degree of holiness…in order to be initiated into the highest mysteries of heaven and cause the Messianic time to come.” (Jewish Encyclopedia 5:224 cited by Harvey Falk, “Jesus the Pharisee, A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus”, Paulist Press, 997 Macarthur Boulevard, Mahwah, N.J. 07430, 1985, page 39)
Traditionally the Jews over the centuries have expected a Messiah. This messianic expectation came with a world view that impelled the Jews to seek to alter the oppressive conditions in the lands in which the Jews and in fact where also the Gentiles lived. The Jews were always attracted to the ideal of a Jewish miracle worker; the healer, the story and parable teller, the teacher who could lift their mind above the physical and psychic pain. Most important they sought a redeemer to restore national heritage as a free people living freely in their promised land.
Mikhvah(Purification) Baths at Qumran – Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
In the wake of the Greek and Roman occupation, the pressure of Hellenism to change the orthodoxy of post-exile Judaism was intense. The Maccabee and Davidian contenders for the throne of Judea became a constant worry to the Roman and Herodian rulers. It was in the days of the Maccabees, the Essenes escaped into the wilderness in the Hassidic revolt against the temple authority. The surging of this messianic revolt to redeem Israel was a reaction in part to the cultural decadence by the Herodians and the Romans.
What we now see, the disciples Bet Hillel and Menahem the Essenes later joined these Essenes at Qumran and Damascus about 20 BCE. By that time, the polemics of division within the House of Judah was ripe for the swelling tide desiring a Davidian ruler.
Out of this fervent there arose a double Davidian, recognized by many of His contemporaries, whose maternal side was also a descendant of the high priestly House of Zadok. He was a descendant not only of King David but also of the high priest Aaron through Zadok the high priest of King David. He began his rabbinic ministry about the fall of 26 CE.
Though the Roman apostate Christian Church, three centuries later, defined Jesus of Nazareth as they called him in Hellenistic and non-Jewish terms, His Jewish disciples wrote of Him as Jesu in Greek, or Yahshua in Hebrew. They described Him as an orthodox and fully Torah observing Jew. Through the centuries these differences, between the Jews and the Christians, especially around the concept of Jesus’ divinity and/or His deity have been a source of great acrimony that has affected the relationships between the Jews and the descendants of the Roman Christians for almost seventeen centuries. It continues to separate these two great religious bodies to this day.
The Jews have always been affected by messianic revivals. In the past two thousand years, over fifty messiahs have risen and fallen since the days of Jesus the Nazarene. The largest and most destructive messianic revival was that of Shabbatai Zevi in 1666 that we focused on at the beginning of this study. When this revival reached its apogee, thousands of Jews changed their religious allegiance first to mystical Islam akin to ancient Sufism and the modern Islamic Dolmeh society.
The Ruins of Khirbat Qumran with Scriptorium on Right – Photo by Rhett Mock (2006)
Half a century later, under the deceptive leadership of Jacob Frank, the thousands of Jews called the “Frankists” buried their identity in Roman Jesuit Christianity. Most of these Jews lost their cultural identity and spiritually became anti-Jews, anti-Torah and anti-God of Israel.
We may be content to consider that the Shabbatean Jews would also fade into history. In the 1840s, a new messianic revival arose in its wake. This time the revival centered not on a person but a concept; it was time to end the oppression of Jews and make aliyah and return to the Land of Israel. The messianic concept in the 1st century also started with such a revival. It was fueled in part with the massive temple re-building by Herod the Great and Jews from around the Diaspora began streaming back to the city of Jerusalem.
It was in the midst of this division that the Greco-Roman world was closing in around the Jewish people. In the fervor the Sadducees took complete control of the highest priestly office even though they were not of priestly descent. The Pharisees split down a great divide over the whether to isolate or accept the Gentile world around them. Instead of embarking on a spiritual program of covenant purity with their God, they chose to accept corrupted ideals of institutional purity and religious dogma.
The links between the Essenes and the Hasidim originate back in the early days of the Maccadees, when the Hasidim formed the Jewish resistant movement against the inroad of Greek Hellenism into the culture and religion of the Jews. This all began in the second half of the 2nd century BCE (150-100 BCE) when the priestly family of the Hasmonean, Jonathan the Maccabee (160-142 BCE) and his brother Simeon (142-134 BCE) usurped the high priest’s office from the hereditary lineage of Zadok, the high priest of King David.
The Ruins of Khirbat Qumran – Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
This soon brought a secession of the Hasidim along with the proto-Essenes from the primary culture of Judaism in Jerusalem. Here we see the exile or retreat of the disciples of Hillel and Menahem the Essene from Jerusalem to Damascus. The stronger the fight against the inroads of the Greco-Roman word, the more fervently the Hasidim strived to abide by the Torah. Within the Talmudic literature they were called the “Tze’nuim.” The important thing to remember was that the Essenes were initially a “branch of the Pharisees.” (Ibid page 41)
Separating themselves to the wilderness, they sought ways to live a pious life in small villages and communities, the most prominent being Damascus in Syria and Qumran near the Dead Sea. Outside of evacuating the community of Qumran after extensive damages from an earthquake, the Qumran community remained vibrant and thriving until it was abandoned with the approach of the armies of Rome in 68 CE. The Essenes became a separatist movement that retreated to the wilderness and lived in quiet isolated areas. It is well accepted that the political and religious interrelationships between each of these groups is not well known. This leads to this study that suggests the strong links between the Pharisee school of Hillel and Menahem and the Essenes.
With the persecution of the Essenes, the writings of the community delineated the differences between the leader, the “teacher of righteousness” and the temple leaders, the “wicked priest” of Jerusalem. Here came the messianic revival and the dawn of the expectation of the Messianic Age. They had their own calendar (solar-lunar verses Jewish lunar calendar) in which all the festivals of the Lord and fast days fell on Wednesday. They also had a strong communal hierarchy with probationary initiations, frequent prayers and communal meals. Out of the Essene community it is believed came three important documents: “The Book of Jubilees”, “The Book of Enoch” and “The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs.”
Over the years the scholars have composed a list of names that are now associated with this secret sect called the Essenes either by their own writings or their contemporaries: Hasidim (pious ones), Zenu’im (chaste ones), Anav (humble one), Kesherim (blameless ones), Hashsha’im (silent ones), Watikim (men of firm principles), Kadosh (saint), Banna’im (builders), Anshe Ma’asey (men of miraculous deeds). Within the Manual of Discipline, the three most common names were: Hasidim, Zenu’im and Anav. (cited by Rabbi Harvey Falk, “Jesus the Pharisee, A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus”, Paulist Press, 997 Macarthur Boulevard, Mahwah, N.J. 07430, 1985, page 41)
Jewish sages have considered that the gift of prophesy left the Jewish people after the last of the prophets when there was no anointing oil left. Yet even today, the gift of prophesy is accepted as being given to some of the sages of the Jewish people.
According to Josephus, some of the Essenes did have the gift of prophesy power. This may account in part with their celibate life or abstinence from sexual relations. According to their traditions, the life of their Torah Master, Moses after he received the Torah on the mount called Sinai was a life of sexual abstinence. (Shabbat 87A)
We read later that there were two, Eldad and Medad, who also had the gift of prophesy in the days of Moses as the scripture states, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” (Leviticus 11:26; Jewish Encyclopedia 5:224-5) According to Philo, the Essenes were older men who had married and already raised their children. (Jewish Encyclopedia 5:228) In the Kiddushin (71A), there is an enigmatic statement that the “secret Names of God” were entrusted to the Tzanua (modest person) and the Anav (humble person) of the priesthood. (Ibid page 40 also B. Kiddushin 71A, Eccl. R. iii. 11; Yer. Yoma 39d, 40a)
B. Kiddushin 71A – “Rav Judah said in Rav's name: The forty-two lettered Name is entrusted only to him who is pious, meek, middle-aged, free from bad temper, sober and not insistent on his rights. And he who knows it, is heedful thereof, and observes it in purity, is beloved above and popular below, feared by man and inherits two worlds, this world and the future world.”
These descriptions, Tzanua and Anav, are noted to be similar to the names and descriptions of the Essenes. We know that many of the Levitical priesthood were also members of the Essenes according to the Dead Sea Scrolls. This first may give us pause when we read the descriptions within the Copper Scroll and its inventory of the hidden Temple secrets and treasures. The relationship between the Essenes, Qumran and the Guardians of the Tomb of David in the Essene Quarter of Jerusalem begin focus with a sharper perspective.
In the ancient days, there were two types of converts to Judaism; the Ger Tzedek and the Ger Toshav. The Ger Tzedek was the convert to Judaism that believed in the God of Israel and chose to accept and follow all the 613 commandments of the Torah. After circumcision and/or ritual immersion, they were to be recognized as fully Jewish. This convert, the Ger Tzedek, is the only convert that is accepted by orthodox Jews today.
The second convert to Judaism was called the Ger Toshav. This convert also believed in the God of Israel but chose to obligate himself to follow and observe the seven ancient Noahide Commandments that were followed by Noah and later Abraham, both before the Law of God (Torah) was given on the mount called Sinai. This convert is not accepted today by Orthodox Judaism to live in the land of Israel and to associate freely with the Ultra-Orthodox because he encourages the Jewish to keep the complete Torah.
Fragments from a Phylacteries (Tefillin) Case from Qumran
Yet in the ancient days the Ger Toshav was permitted to settle in the Land of Israel and come under the protective banner of the Israeli society for their health and welfare. According to the prominent disciple of Hillel called Rabbi Joshua, those Gentiles who accept these seven commands as divinely ordained with his practice and adherence was allowed to become part of the “Hasidim” or the “Righteous Ones of the Nations.” More important, these Gentiles were recognized to have a “merit in the world to come.” In other words, they had a hope for a future immortal life.
In the days before Jesus, the teachers of the Torah (the scribes) and the judges or the guardians of the Law (the Pharisees) came from predominately two large schools of Pharisaic Judaism; the School of Hillel (Beit Hillel) and the School of Shammai (Beit Shammai). The more lenient and liberal of these two great schools was the School of Hillel. It was they that believed that it was important to approach the Gentile world and introduce them to the God of Creation.
On the opposing side were the darker and more brooding rabbis of the School of Shammai. They believed that the Gentiles should not be allowed to live in the Land of Israel or to share in the future a life of the immortal. No matter how much interest the Gentile had in the God of Israel, the righteous gentile was not accepted to be a participant in the Land of Israel or a participant in the life and culture of the Israelite or Jewish culture.
As we watch the prophetic streams that are converging in Israel today, we are witnessing an intense dialogue that is going on between the secular government of Israel and the rabbinic councils in the land. This conflict is concerning who is allowed to “convert” and live and partake in the inheritance of the land of Israel. As we observe, we are reminded that this same conflict and ideology that existed in the days of Jesus the Nazarene between the disciples of Hillel and Shammai is alive and well today.
Ever since the covenant of the Torah was given to Moses by God on the mount called Sinai there were two realizations that was imprinted on the Israelite mind; the Israelites not only had a covenant relationship with their God that was to be lived out in the Ten Commands written into Stone plus the 613 commands that were given to Moses throughout all the Torah. Yet, they also had an obligation to the gentile world around them. They were to be a “light to the world” so that the pagan nations around them would learn of the God of Creation and that salvation and a “merit in the world to come” was also a promise to all mankind.
As found in the Oral Law, the Talmud in the Sanhedrin 57A plus in Maimoides’ Melakhim (chapter 8), it tell how Moses informed the Israelites that they did have an obligation to spread the knowledge of the Noahide Commandment to the people of all the 70 nations and tongues that lived on this planet earth. They were to be emissaries, disciples or evangelists not to Judaism but to a separate pathway for the Gentiles to come into a living relationship with the God of Israel. This pathway in Jewish law was called the Noahide Commandments or Laws.
According to the Biblical narrative, there was a Great Flood that covered the entire earth. All creatures on the face of the earth were destroyed except Noah, his family and the selected creatures that were saved on the Ark. As they disembarked from that great lifeboat of salvation, Noah made their first sacrifice to the God of Creation. Their God then sealed a covenant with Noah, his descendants and every living creature with the sign of a rainbow in the sky. Since that day, it has been known and accepted that there were certain commandments (mitzvots) or laws (halakha) that were ethically binding upon every non-Israelite descendants of Noah in the Gentile world.
Ten generations later, another covenant was sought by the God of Israel with their forefather, Abraham. Since the days of Sinai, the Covenant of Noah or what was known as the Brit Noah was followed by the selected ones who chose to honor the covenant of their planetary forefather, Noah and their religious forefather, Abraham. The authors of the Talmud were in agreement that the Brit Noah consists of seven (number of completion) laws. These seven Noahide laws, called the Sheva Mitzvot Shel Bene Noach, are noted as follows:
1. Avodah zarah - Do not worship false gods.
2. Shefichat damim - Do not murder.
3. Gezel - Do not steal (or kidnap).
4. Gilui arayot - Do not be sexually immoral. This includes: forbidden sexual acts that are traditionally interpreted to include incest, bestiality, male homosexual sex acts such as sodomy and adultery.
5. Birkat Hashem - Do not "bless God." This in a less offensive way of meaning, “blasphemy.”
6. Ever min ha-chai - Do not eat any flesh that was torn from the body of a living animal. This is interpreted as prohibition of cruelty towards animals. It was initially given to Noah and his family after the flood.
7. Dinim - Set up a system of honest, effective courts, police and laws.
According to the Talmud, it states:
Sanhedrin 105A - "Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come"
Any non-Jewish Gentile who lived an ethical life and observed these laws would be called "the righteous among the gentiles". It was Maimonides who added that the “righteous Gentile” was anyone who gained knowledge about the Almighty One of Israel and lived a life abiding by the Noahide Laws.
These laws were not seclusive to any race, nationality or people but were given to all humanity for they were descendants of one paternal ancestor who is called in the history of the Hebrews, Noah. These were called the B’nei Noah or the “Descendants of Noah.”
According to the sages of Judaism, the gentiles, called the goyim, are not obligated to keep all the laws of the Torah. In fact, to the Gentiles, it would be forbidden to keep some of these laws in the same way that the Jewish people observe them. In the eyes of the prophets and sages of Israel, the righteous gentiles were to live good and honorable lives and support the Israelites in keeping their covenant with the God of Israel. The gentiles were not expected to be “wannabe” Jews or competitors with the Jewish people in their Sinai covenant with God.
One of these “forbidden” laws is the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath in the exact manner that Israel kept the Shabbat. Does this mean that a gentile must not keep the seventh-day Sabbath? No! It does imply that the Sabbath keeping Gentile must keep the seventh-day Sabbath in accordance with his understanding of the requirements of the God of Israel and allows him a closer relationship with the God. This allows a lifestyle of growth and development in the personal relationship with the God of Creation who sanctified this day as a day of rest from the Creation that He called “good.” This day was not to become encumbered with literalistic barriers and hedges that smother the spiritual applications of Shabbat worship.
Even the Tosafists living in Medieval Europe whose role was to create critical and explanatory glosses on the Talmud, were especially kind to Christian Gentiles that believed in the “Trinity.” This was not considered as an idolatrous practice in the Torah. (Tosafists, Bekhorot 2b and Sanhedrin 63b) According to the Talmudic scholar Rabbi Jacob Tann, the grandson of Rashi and a renown 12th century Tosafists, Christians who believed in the Shittuf, the belief in the God the Father along with an additional deity, were permitted and considered to be accepted by the Jews as a “Righteous Gentile of the Nations” and not considered to be a worshipper of idols or false gods. (Rema, Orah Hayyim 156:1) Yet what was acceptable to a Righteous Gentile was not acceptable to a “covenant observant Jew.” Why? The Jews were the remnant of the great people who were given a covenant to preserve the Torah and not to allow either a “jot nor a tittle” to be changed from those sacred commands of the Lord. The Jews were held to a different and higher standard.
Through the keeping of the laws of Noah, a gentile could establish a direct and personal relationship with the God of Israel. This could be through an intermediary “Agent” that was not the Father God as a pathway towards salvation. By keeping the “Noahide Laws”, the “righteous gentile” would begin to keep the universal and divine laws that were the minimal requirements for the preserving civilization and social order.
Go to Part Four -
Index for Jesus the Pharisee from the School of Hillel
Go to Part Three - “The Essenes, the Hasidim and the Righteous Gentile of the Nations”
Go to Part Four - “Jesus the Nazarene and the Pharisees of Beit Shammai”
Message from BibleSearchers
BibleSearchers scans the world for information that has relevance on the time of the end. It is our prayer that this will allow the believers in the Almighty One of Israel to “watch and be ready”. Our readiness has nothing to do trying to halt the progression of evil on our planet earth. In our readiness, we seek to be prepared for the coming of the Messiah of Israel so that goodness and evil will be manifested in its fullest. Our preparation is a pathway of spiritual readiness for a world of peace. Our defender is the Lord of hosts. The time of the end suggests that the Eternal One of Israel’s intent is to close out this chapter of earth’s history so that the perpetrators of evil, those that seek power, greed and control, will be eliminated from this planet earth. The wars of the heavens are being played out on this planet earth and humans will live through it to testify of the might, power, justice and the love of the God of Israel. In a world of corruption and disinformation, we cannot always know what the historical truth is and who is promoting evil or mis-information. We cannot guarantee our sources but we will always seek to portray trends that can be validated in the Torah and the testimony of the prophets of the Old and the New Testament.
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