Thursday, October 15, 2009

7) Objections to Cyrus' Messiahship refuted

a) After the destruction of the Second Temple, some sages and scholars raised doubts whether Cyrus acted truly as Messiah, and whether he still deserves to be called by this title.

The main objections are:

b) He did not bring all the Jews back to Jerusalem.

How could he have done so? Forcing the captive Jews of Babylonia back to Jerusalem would have meant to expel them from Persia. Such an act would have been inhumane, and unwise in many respects as well. It would have deprived men of their free will. Moreover, the ingathering of all the exiles is forecast for the Third Temple, and it was for this reason that the Jews exiled to Yemen did not hearken to Ezra's call to come up to Jerusalem.

c) The Second Temple did not last since its foundation was stained by the fact that it was based on the decree of a Gentile.

It could not have lasted anyway as only the Third of the three pre-ordained Temples is to be the final one.

Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai20 gives the following reason for the destruction of the Second Temple:

"The Temple that was built by Herode, that was not equaled in beauty, splendor, and shining marble ... its High Priests were bought by money (i.e. Herode "bought" priests of is liking), had no Tabernacle, no Tables of Decalogue, and the Shekhinah did not dwell there". - How could such a Temple have lasted?

Rabbi Yohanan21 gives yet another reason for the destruction: The judgments of the courts did not go beyond the requirement of the law - that is, life was to be regulated by stringent and formulated laws21a; and like in Roman Law the value of property was given priority over the value of humans and their social needs.

e) Another, in fact widely known reason for its destruction was שנאת חינם, "hatred without cause" between different factions of the Jewish people22.

In this context we should remember that the First Temple, too, was destroyed - not because of a Gentile's support for its building - but because of our own sinfulness.

However, some sages understood that it had to come to its end anyway in accordance with the prophecies. For instance, when Rabbi Akiva was told that foxes are roaming on the Temple Mount destroyed some 60 years earlier, he laughed. When asked about this puzzling behavior of his, he answered that he sees the fulfillment of that prophecy in Lament. 5:8 as a token for the future fulfillment of the prophecies about the final ingathering and restoration23. That is, he understood the respective section of Lamentations as referring to the Second Temple. - Similar, when the Roman Turnus Rufus ploughed the Temple Mount after its destruction by Titus, the sages understood this as a fulfillment of Jer. 26:18. This, of course, does not postulate an unchangeable fate. Rather, the Almighty so-to-speak uses even our sins for furthering his plans with us, as pointed out already by King Solomon in his prayer: "...if they turn against thee - for there is no man that sinneth not - and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives into the land of the enemy..."24

Christianity did apparently for its reasons not feel comfortable with Cyrus' Messiahship: In the translations it is obscured by merely mentioning him as anointed while the terms Messiah or Christ (which is the Greek word for Messiah25) are exclusively reserved for Jesus (the Septuaginta, may it be mentioned, uses the term Christos in all the respective cases)...

No comments:

Post a Comment