Jesus in the Talmud

Moriel recently received a request from an individual named Beyers Konig to amend a transcibed article ‘”Jesus In The Talmud” claiming a talmudic reference by Jacob Prasch (also cited by Jews For Jesus, Chuck Missler, Josh McDowell, Riso Santalla and others) was mistaken concerning the messianic prophecies of Daniel 9 and Genesis 49:10.

With respect, Beyers Konig misread the article confusing two different passages from the Babylonian Talmud. His claim that the quote is not in the Talmud is, moreover, demonstrably erroneous. His letter, the excerpt from the transcribed article, and an English translation of the Talmudic text of Sanhedrin 97B is included below.

Josh Mc Dowell, Jews or Jesus, Risto Santalla , and Chuck Missler are all likewise correct in their citations.

We also wish to point out that the Moriel article predates a recently published book of the same title by another author.

We also wish to note that any reference to Talmudic material by Jacob Prasch is for academic, apologetic, and evangelistic purposes only and not as any basis to establish doctrine.

Sanhedrin 97b

but through our many iniquities all these years have been lost.1

Elijah said to Rab Judah, the brother of R. Salia the pious: ‘The world shall exist not less than eighty five jubilees,2 and in the last jubilee the son of David will come.’3 He asked him, ‘At the beginning or at the end?’4 “” He replied, ‘I do not know.’ ‘Shall [this period] be completed or not?’5 “” ‘I do not know,’ he answered. R. Ashi said: He spoke thus to him, ‘Before that, do not expect him; afterwards thou mayest await him.’6

R. Hanan b. Tahlifa sent [word] to R. Joseph: I once met a man who possessed a scroll written in Hebrew in Assyrian characters.7 I said to him: ‘Whence has this come to thee?’ He replied, ‘I hired myself as a mercenary in the Roman army, and found it amongst the Roman archives. In it is stated that four thousand, two hundred and thirty8-one years after the creation the world will be orphaned.9 [As to the years following,] some of them will be spent in the war of the great sea monsters,10 and some in the war of Gog and Magog, and the remaining [period] will be the Messianic era, whilst the Holy One, blessed be He, will renew his world only after seven thousand years.’ R. Abba the son of Raba said: The statement was after five thousand years.

It has been taught; R. Nathan said: This verse pierces and descends to the very abyss:11 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though he tarry, wait for him; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.12 Not as our Masters, who interpreted the verse, until a time and times and the dividing of time;13 nor as R. Simlai who expounded, Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink a third time;14 nor as R. Akiba who expounded, Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth:15 but the first dynasty [sc. the Hasmonean] shall last seventy years, the second [the Herodian], fifty two, and the reign of Bar Koziba16 two and a half years.17

What is meant by ‘but at the end it shall speak [we-yafeah] and not lie?’ “” R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: Blasted be18 the bones of those who calculate the end.19 For they would say, since the predetermined time has arrived, and yet he has not come, he will never come. But [even so], wait for him, as it is written, Though he tarry, wait for him. Should you say, We look forward [to his coming] but He does not: therefore Scripture saith, And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you.20 But since we look forward to it, and He does likewise, what delays [his coming]? “” The Attribute of Justice delays it.21 But since the Attribute of Justice delays it, why do we await it? “” To be rewarded [for hoping], as it is written, blessed are all they that wait for him.22

Abaye said: The world must contain not less than thirty-six righteous men in each generation who are vouchsafed [the sight of] the Shechinah’s countenance, for it is written, Blessed are all they that wait lo23 [for him]; the numerical value of ‘lo’ is thirty-six. But that is not so, for did not Raba say: The row [of righteous men immediately] before the Holy One, blessed be He, consists of eighteen thousand,24 for it is written, it shall be eighteen thousand round about?25 “” That is no difficulty: the former number [thirty-six] refers to those who see Him through a bright speculum, the latter to those who contemplate him through a dim one.26 But are there as many? Did not Hezekiah say in the name of R. Jeremiah on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: I have seen the sons of heaven,27 and they are but few; if there are a thousand, I and my son are included; if a hundred, I and my son are included; and if only two, they are myself and my son? “” There is no difficulty: the former number [thirty-six] refers to those who enter [within the barrier to contemplate the Shechinah] with permission; the latter [uncertain number] to those who may enter without permission.

Rab said: All the predestined dates [for redemption] have passed, and the matter [now] depends only on repentance and good deeds. But Samuel maintained: it is sufficient for a mourner to keep his [period of] mourning.28 This matter is disputed by Tannaim: R. Eliezer said: if Israel repent, they will be redeemed; if not, they will not be redeemed. R. Joshua said to him, if they do not repent, will they not be redeemed! But the Holy One, blessed be He, will set up a king over them, whose decrees shall be as cruel as Haman’s, whereby Israel shall engage in repentance, and he will thus bring them back to the right path.29 Another [Baraitha] taught: R. Eliezer said: if Israel repent, they will be redeemed, as it is written, Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.30 R. Joshua said to him, But is it not written, ye have sold yourselves for naught; and ye shall be redeemed without money?31 Ye have sold yourselves for naught, for idolatry; and ye shall be redeemed without money “” without repentance and good deeds. R. Eliezer retorted to R. Joshua, But is it not written, Return unto me, and I will return unto you?32 R. Joshua rejoined “” But is it not written, For I am master over you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion?33 R. Eliezer replied, But it is written, in returning and rest shall ye be saved.34 R. Joshua replied, But is it not written, Thus saith the Lord, The Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nations abhorreth, to a servant of rulers,

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files

  1. He should have come at the beginning of the last two thousand years; the delay is due to our sins.
  2. Of fifty years.
  3. [Messiah. The belief in his Davidic descent is already mentioned in the Psalms of Solomon XVII, 21.]
  4. Of the last fifty years.
  5. I.e., if at the end of the jubilee, shall it be at the beginning of the fiftieth year or at the end thereof?
  6. He will certainly not come before then, but may delay a long time afterwards.
  7. The square character of Hebrew letters is so called on account of the great resemblance it bears to Aramaic writing, the name Assyria being here used in the widest sense to include the countries on the Mediterranean inhabited by the Arameans; v. supra, 22b and 22a and notes.
  8. So the Wilna Gaon; v. A.Z. 9b; our editions have ninety.
  9. In great distress, as an orphan who has none to take care of him.
  10. Maharsha explains this as a figurative reference to the great nations.
  11. Just as the bottom of an abyss cannot be reached, so is it impossible to grasp the full purport of this verse (Rashi).
  12. Hab. II, 3.
  13. Dan. VII, 25.
  14. Ps. LXXX, 6.
  15. Hag. II, 6.
  16. V. p. 627, n. 4.
  17. The verses cited from Daniel, the Psalms, and Haggai were interpreted so as to give a definite date for the advent of the Messiah. R. Nathan however, on the authority of Hab. II, 3, asserts that all such calculations are false. The three verses refer to the Hasmonean, Herodian, and Bar Koziba’s reign, but the advent of Messiah is unknowable, Rashi.
  18. [H] The verse is rendered, ‘he will blast him who calculated the end.’
  19. I.e., Messiah’s advent.
  20. Isa. XXX, 18.
  21. I.e., because we are not yet worthy of it.
  22. Ibid.
  23. [H]
  24. Maharsha deletes [H], parasang.
  25. Ezek. XLVIII, 35.
  26. Only thirty-six see Him with absolute clarity. The others receive a clouded vision of Him.
  27. I.e., those who enjoy the sight of the Shechinah in the hereafter.
  28. Israel’s sufferings in the Galuth in themselves sufficiently warrant their redemption, regardless of repentance.
  29. [In the Jerushalmi, the last sentence, ‘But the Holy ‚  “¦ right path’ is given as R. Eliezer’s reply to R. Joshua.]
  30. Jer. III, 22.
  31. Isa. LII, 3.
  32. Mal. III, 7.
  33. Jer. III, 14: ‘master over you’ implies even against your wishes “” i.e., without repentance of the whole nation (Rashi).
  34. Isa. XXX, 15.
  35. ___________________________________________________________________________________

(Back to text) This may explain why many sages calculated specific dates for the Messianic redemption. They did so in spite of the Talmudic disapproval of such practice lest disillusionment lead to despair: people may say, “since the calculated time has arrived but Mashiach has not come, he will never come.” (Sanhedrin 97b; and see Or Hatorah-Na”ch, vol. I, p. 183f.) Yet those who calculated dates for the ketz included the greatest sages and saints throughout the ages, like R. Saadiah Gaon, Rashi, Ba’alei Tossafot, Ramban, Abarbanel, R. Isaac Luria etc. (see Mayanei Hayeshu’ah I:ch. 1-2; and R. Reuven Margolius’ glosses on Teshuvot Min Hashamayim, sect. 72, pp. 80-83). Rambam, after citing the Talmudic injunction in his code and elaborating on it in his Igeret Teyman, himself offers in the latter (ch. 3) a date passed on to him by his ancestors! Ramban confronts the problem by stating that the Talmudic prohibition was but for a limited time only and no longer applies to the present era of ikvot Meshicha. (See his Sefer Hage’ulah, ed. Chavel, p. 289f., and see there also pp. 262 and 263). Cf. below, note 122. Various sources explain that all these were in fact true predictions, reflecting especially auspicious times.

come already. ‚   They cried, “All the predestined dates for the Redemption have passed, and the matter now depends only on repentance and good deeds.” ““ Sanhedrin 97 beht. ‚   They were faced with major prophecies that were well past their dates for fulfillment; Jesus was the only person who claimed to be the Messiah who could actually in His time prove Davidic descent. ‚   This is not only recorded in the New Testament, but also in Sanhedrin 43 aleph: “With Yeshu (Jesus), it was different: He was connected with the government. ‚   This is an ambiguous phrase, which has actually misled some people to believe that it actually refers to royal lineage.” ‚   God spent 1000 years promising Abraham and David that the Messiah would descend from them; therefore, when He allowed all of the genealogies to be destroyed with the second Temple, it was obvious that the Messiah had to have come. ‚   So we read, “And the Sanhedrin wept: ‘Oy vevoy, woe to us! ‚   For the Temple is destroyed, and the Messiah has not come.'”

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