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Answering Jewish Objections


I.   Answering Objections Against Micah 5:1
II.  Answering Objections Against Psalm 2:12
III. Answering Objections Against Isaiah 9:6-9

I. Answering Objections Against Micah 5:1

The Objection:

This verse refers to the Messiah, a descendant of David.  Since David came from Bethlehem, Micah's prophecy speaks of Bethlehem as the Messiah's place of origin. Actually, the text does not necessarily mean the Messiah will be born in that town, but that his family originates from there. From the ancient family of the house of David will come forth the Messiah, whose eventual existence was known to God from the beginning of time. Christians allege that Jesus fulfilled Micah's prophecy in that he was supposedly born in Behlehem. Matthew's claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1) is supported by Luke 2:4-7.  Mark is silent on the matter. John relates that some people believed the Messiah will come from Bethlehem (John 7:42), but does not take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate that Micah's prophecy was fulfilled by claiming that Jesus was actually born there. This is highly unusual and leads one to suspect that John did not agree with the assertion that Jesus was a Bethlehemite. He lets stand the opposing assertion that Jesus was really of Galilean origin (John 1:46, 7:41). Except for the birth references found in Matthew and Luke, all indications, even in the writings of these two evangelists, point to the fact that Jesus was from Nazareth. In any case, being born in Bethlehem is of dubious value in establishing messianic credentials for Jesus. Jesus did not fulfill so many essential messianic qualities as found in the Prophets, that having been born in Bethlehem would be of no consequence whatsoever.

The answer:

That is a biased argument. The fact of the matter is that Micah was clear that “out of Bethlehem Ephrath shall come forth the ruler of Israel.” The text is very clear.  Any attempt to twist that comes short. Also, if a prophecy that tells the exact place of the Messiah’s birth and its fulfillment in Christ “is of dubious value in establishing messianic credentials for Jesus,” I don’t know what could be of any value for the Jews when “the real Messiah” shows up. The fact that neither John nor Mark mentioned the birth of Christ in Bethlehem doesn’t mean that it didn’t happened. Their silence can be easily explained that there were more that 300 prophecies about the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled. If each one of the evangelists goes through every single prophecy, then their work would be redundant and pointless. Also, the authors of the gospels wanted to reach the whole world with gospel. Therefore, it would make sense that you would have a different arguments to different crowds. Finally, the fact that Jesus was known to be from Nazareth or Galilee (John 1:46; 7:41) doesn’t deny that he was born in Bethlehem. After the holy family returned from Egypt to Israel, they dwelt in Nazareth (Matt 2:23,) and therefore he was known as a Galilean.

II. Answering Objections Against Psalm 2:12

The Objection:

The Christian translation is based on a misinterpretation. The meaning of the Hebrew word bar is "pure" or "clear." Only in Aramaic does it have the meaning of "son." However, in Aramaic, bar is used only as a construct "son of" (Proverbs 31:2; Ezra 5:1-2, 6:14), whereas the absolute form of "son" in Aramaic (which would have to be used in verse 12) is ber'a. Thus, according to the Christian conception, the verse should have read nash-ku ber'a, "kiss the son," not nash-ku bar, "kiss the son of." Even though "son" could refer to David in verse 12, it is not the proper translation. There is no compelling reason to employ an Aramaism in view of the use of the Hebrew noun bayn, "son," in verse 7. The phrase is best rendered as, "do homage in purity," because kissing is generally an expression of homage, as found, for example, in 1 Samuel 10:1: "Then Samuel took the vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him." Bar, meaning "purity," occurs in the phrase "pure in heart" (Psalms 24:4, 73:1). The intention implied in verse 12 is: with sincerity of heart, acknowledge me, David, as God's anointed, and thereby avoid incurring God's anger. Thus the Hebrew phrase nash-ku bar simply means "do homage in purity," and superimposing any other interpretation will distort the meaning of this psalm.

The answer:

Most Christian scholars and commentators agree with the Jewish argument in this verse. For although the Masoretic text clearly translates this verse as “kiss the Son,” there are two principle difficulties in this verse.  One, the word BAR is Aramaic which forms a difficulty especially if the psalm to be dated in early monarchy. Also, the standard Hebrew word BEN was used in verse 7. Two, the majority of the versions, with the exception of the Syrian Old Testament, together with the later rabbinic writings, presuppose the Hebrew text as purity or clean (footnote 1). Some even argue that the translation “kiss the son,” the Messiah, can’t be justified by usage or context, and is based on misinterpretation due to Syriac of Aramaic influence (footnote 2).Yet the fact remains that this psalm is Messianic. The disciples freely applied this psalm to Christ. The words “you are my son” are quoted and paraphrased many times in Jesus’ life (Matt.3:17; 17:5) (footnote 3). In Christ Jesus, the NT sees the king of God who in the comprehensive sense has approached and fulfilled the kingdom and office of the OT anointed one. It is significant that Acts and Revelations cite Psalm 2 (Acts 4:25c, 13:33; Rev. 2:26-27; 19:15) in the contexts between Christ the exalted king with the hostile Gentile nations (footnote 4). We should notice that the context is not totally against understanding verse 12 as “kiss the son.” In vs 1-3, we see the nations raging against God and His anointed. Then in vs 4-9, we see God vindicating His anointed. So it is plausible, though not compelling or conclusive, to see the psalmist in v10-12 asking the nations to honor God and His anointed

III. Answering Objections Against Isaiah 9:6-9

The Objection:

This scripture is not messianic. In the verse under study, the prophet expounds his message by formulating a prophetic name for Hezekiah. The words of this name form a sentence expressive of God's greatness, which will become manifest in the benefits to be bestowed upon the future king in his lifetime. Thus, the name, though borne by the king, serves, in reality, as a testimonial to God. Hezekiah is called "a wonderful counselor" because this name is a sign, which foretells God's design for him. Hezekiah is called "the mighty God" because this name is a sign that foretells God's defense of Jerusalem through the miraculous sudden mass death of Sennacherib's army. Hezekiah is called "the everlasting Father" because this name is a sign, which foretells that God will add years to his life. "Go, and say to Hezekiah: Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add to your days fifteen years" (Isaiah 38:5). Hezekiah is called "the ruler of peace" because this name is a sign, which foretells that God would be merciful to him. Punishment for lack of faith in the Almighty will be deferred and peace granted during the last years of his rule. "Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah: 'Good is the word of the Lord which you have spoken.' He said moreover: 'If but there shall be peace and security in my days'" (Isaiah 39:8). The fulfillment of the above-stated declarations is foretold in Isaiah 9:6, when, after the Assyrian defeat, Hezekiah's glory increased and peace reigned for the rest of his life (2 Chronicles 32:23). Archaeologists have found that there was a sudden expansion of Judean settlements in the years following the fall of the northern kingdom… Thus, God, through Isaiah, bestows upon Hezekiah this name which honors the king by proclaiming the great things God will do for him, and, through him, for the people of Israel.

The answer:

First and foremost, we need to set the record straight here. If the Jews will argue that every prophecy can’t be messianic just because it was “partially” fulfilled during the time of that prophecy than there is no need for them to wait for the Messiah. Every single prophecy might have meant something to the hearers of that prophecy. For example, I can argue that God’s promise to Adam that the seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15) is not messianic. I can argue that because of the serpent Adam was kicked out of the garden, therefore the serpent bruised Adam’s heel. Yet the ultimate purpose of the serpent’s deception, which was to destroy Adam, has failed because God in His mercy spared Adam, therefore “the head of the serpent was bruised.” Similarly I can argue that all the promises of peace and prosperity in Isaiah (e.g. Isaiah 11:6) has been figuratively fulfilled later during any of the peace time that has come on Israel after that prophecy. I can argue that in Psalm 22 the psalmist was either describing an experience he has in a metaphoric way …etc. With this logic and argument, I can go through every prophecy in the OT and argue that it is not messianic either because it has been fulfilled already or because it is a figure of speech. Therefore, there is no Messiah and no hope for Israel and that has nothing to do with the debate if Jesus is the Messiah or not.

The bottom line is this: We need to be faithful to the text. We need to open our heart to what the scripture's text says. We shouldn’t try to twist the text to make it say what we think or hope that it says.

Now, let us examine our text closely. Some Jews argued that this child is Hezekiah according to most of the Masoretic Text Jewish interpreters like Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and Ki, Simon the Maccabee according to Kennett (footnote 5). The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT, follows among these lines and reads this verse as “…and his name is called the Messenger of great counsel: for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him. His government shall be great, and of his peace there is no end: it shall be upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to support it with judgment and with righteousness, from henceforth and forever. The seal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this.”

Yet according to most Jewish interpreters this Child is the Messiah (footnote 6). The Targum, the Aramaic paraphrasing of the Hebrew Scriptures, sees a clear Messianic prophecy in this verse. It reads that his name will be “wonderful counselor, mighty God who lives forever, the Messiah in whose days peace will be great over us” (footnote 7.)

A faithful examination of this scripture will lead any honest thinker to conclude that this prophecy goes beyond any king born at that time to the real king, the coming Messiah. Although the titles “wonderful counselor” and “prince of peace” can definitely refer to a human king, one finds it really challenging to believe that the titles “everlasting Father” and “mighty God” refer merely to a man.  The term “everlasting Father” can also be translated “the Father of eternity.” The former indicates that the coming king will be eternally the Father who will guard his people and supply their need (footnote 8). The latter means that the coming king will be the “possessor of eternity.” (footnote 9). I don’t think that either Hezekiah or any other king can fulfill that, do you? The same argument can be applied to the term “mighty God” (footnote 10).

Finally, some might argue that Hezekiah was called “mighty God” because he reflected God who is mighty, and that he was called “father of eternity” because he reflected the eternal God.
This argument is not too hard to refute. We need to take a look at those whom God named in the OT.  God changed Jacob’s name to Israel in Gen. 32 because Israel means "prince with God."  That was in the light of Jacob winning his struggle with God himself. God named Isaiah’s son “Mahershalalhashbaz” which means “Spoil quickly, plunder speedily”(Is. 8:3) to indicate that Damascus and Samaria were soon to be plundered by the king of Assyria. God named Hosea’s children in Hos. 1 to reflect his relationship with his people. Even Immanuel in Is.7:14 means “God with us.” Never in the OT do we see God giving his own names like “Father of eternity” or “mighty God” to a human being. On the contrary, God said that he will never share his glory with another. (Is.42:8)

There is another important point to refute in this argument. We read in Is.9:7 about this coming king that “Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever...” Isaiah now explains why this king will be called “the eternal Father” because he and his kingdom will be forever. When God wanted to reflect his judgment though giving Hosea’s daughter a name, we read “Then God said to him: "Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, But I will utterly take them away” Hos. 1:6. If this promised king in Isaiah 7 is to reflect the eternal kingdom of God, then in v6-7 God should have said “call him everlasting father…for I will establish my kingdom, peace, and justice forever.” The scripture is clear. Isaiah saw in the promised king someone who will eternally establish God's kingdom over his people forever. He will be to his people a wonderful counselor, mighty God, father, prince of peace forever. Neither Hezekiah nor any other earthly king has done that to His people.

1- Peter C. Craige, Word Biblical Commentary Psalms 1-50, (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1984), 64
2- Charles Briggs, The Book of Psalms, (New York: Charles Scribner’s sons, 1906) vol. 1,15
3- Craige; 69.
4- Hilton C. Oswald, Psalms 1-59, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 133
5- George Gray, International Critical Commentary: A critical and exegetical commentary on the book of Isaiah 1-39, (New York: Charles Scribner’s sons, 1912), 172
6- Ibid; 172
7- John Watts, Word Biblical commentary Isaiah 1-33, (Waco, TX: Word publication, 1985), 131
8- Edward Young, The Book of Isaiah, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans publishing co., 1965) vol. 1, 339
9- Ibid, 338.
10- For a fuller discussion if the term “EL GIBBOR” means : mighty God or a hero, please visit my research paper “the deity of Christ on trial”