Tahorot-The Laws of Purification-Part 1

We are going to begin with a general introduction and overview of this subject. The area of clean (tahor) and unclean (tamai), are known as “Tahorot” in the Scriptures and the Mishnah (the sixth and last division) is an area that is usually glossed over when people read the Scriptures. Many writers and teachers say that Yeshua observe these things and actually taught against them, and the Temple. The laws of Tahorot include the dietary laws, discharges, Niddah, leprosy (on people, clothes and houses) and things related to the Temple. These false teachers say that Yeshua brought “a better and more compassionate way” which means “law vs. grace.” The Law (the Torah) was uncompassionate and Yeshua “freed” us from it. Among the things they say Yeshua “freed” us from is the Temple. So, if we are freed from the Temple, who needs the purity laws! They saw Yeshua as “compassionate” as opposed to first century “Judaisms” and purity. They say that Yeshua was opposed to the Temple and that he was its “substitute.” That’s why he ate with sinners and prostitutes. We will get into all of this and more, and how these laws applied when the Temple stood and there was a priesthood, and how these laws apply today without a Temple. But, there was a functioning Temple and priesthood in the first century and that needs to be kept in mind when studying the Scriptures.

There was a magazine cover that had two pictures on it. There was one picture, with people sacrificing lambs in the Temple and in the other picture it had Yeshua on the cross. The statement they were trying to make is that the people in the Temple were “in the wrong place.” They should have been out with Yeshua instead of in the Temple sacrificing lambs. But, in reality, the people in the Temple were where they were supposed to be. Even Yeshua told them to prepare the lamb for Passover (Luke 22.7-12). He knew he would be dead when the Passover was going to be eaten, but he told them to go to the Temple. So, the people were where they were supposed to be, and Yeshua was where he was supposed to be.

The modern view is that Yeshua preached a political, social and legal equality, a new social vision of the Kingdom of God. The laws of purification on the other hand taught distinctions, separation and divisions. His touching the sick and sinners shattered the ritual laws of purity. He confronted the “dark heart” of the purity laws and the system. The Temple, with the elite priests, were objects of his opposition. By turning over the tables of the money-changers, he symbolically “overturned” and indicted everything the Temple and the priesthood stood for. These evils are still seen today. Racial inequality, social ills, economic inequality and sexism had to be “done away with.” So, Yeshua repudiated all this because they teach that it is irrelevant to the practice of Christianity at least from 70 AD. In other words, the purity laws and the Temple stood for something that Yeshua was against. The author (Paula Frederickson) of an article called “Did Jesus oppose the Purity Laws” from the June/1995 article in Bible Review, said that the above views in order to work “requires only two things, a systematic misconstrual of the meaning and application of the purity laws and an equally systematic censoring of the evidence impeded in the Gospels, that Yeshua was a Jewish man of his own times, rather than a left-leaning, liberal virus.” Remember, there was a functioning Temple and priesthood during Yeshua’s ministry. This concept will become clearer as this teaching progresses.

The study we are about to present will be thought provoking and will give all who study it a back-round we have all missed. To understand the laws of purity we need to start with the Scriptures. We need to read these laws for an overall view, then come back and dig and do some research to see what can be brought out. These laws are primarily found in Leviticus and Numbers. There is a theory called the Wellhausen Theory, and this theory says that the Torah was not written by Moses, but edited around the time of Ezra and written by different authors. But, through the “Torah Codes” Hebrew University scholars have determined that it was written by one author. If the Torah came forth by God, any conflict on our part is the result of our lack of understanding, and not using the available data that we have.

The wording of the “mitzvoth” (commandments) is critical and every word is vital. A persons guilt or innocence can hang in the balance. For example, the Torah has 613 commandments in several lists. In a Christian commentary (Wilmington, who is not Jewish), Torah command #75 leaves out “when healed.” In a Jewish commentary on this in the Encyclopedia Judaica, “when healed” is in. In Wilmington’s commentary, Torah command #79 says “sacrificed” but in the Encyclopedia Judaica it is “sanctified.” These differences radically change the meaning and the Christian commentators are not very careful. There are many examples of this.

In order to work in these laws and understand what Yeshua said you must be careful and exact, like a lawyer in court. When you enter into a contract, you don’t want to be caught in a misinterpretation or misrepresentation that conveys wrong information. Like with a computer, it is only as good as the information that is put into it. For example, God gave a “Get” (divorce decree) to Israel, however, there is not enough information to say that he divorced Judah. There are two basic stages to a marriage, the betrothal and full marriage. In the betrothal stage, you are considered married and it is not considered equal to our understanding of an “engagement.” The full marriage is called the “Kedushin.” What is the difference? It is the consummation of the marriage. Joseph was married to Mary and needed to divorce her because she was with child, and he was a righteous man (a “tzaddik”=Torah observant). Deut 24.1 says “When a man takes a wife (betrothal) and marries her (kedushin-full marriage)” is a verse for this. The word for “marries” is “ba’al” and it means “masters” her. Now, did God betroth himself to Israel? Yes, at Mount Sinai at what would be the festival of Shavuot, in Exodus 19-20 and Jer 2.2. Has the “kedushin” come yet? No, because that won’t happen till Rosh ha Shannah, year 6001 from creation. Now, we have more data and we have expanded from the marriage concept to the festivals and biblical eschatology. There will be one marriage, in two stages, eschatologically. How can God do it? He can remarry Israel because Deut 24.2-4 says that if two divorce, and she remarries someone else, and then gets another divorce or the latter husband dies, the former husband cannot remarry her. The Lord can remarry Israel (Israel and Judah) because the Lord and Israel are only in the betrothal stage and he can take her back, the full marriage at Rosh ha Shannah has not happened yet.

In Ezek 37. 15-23 it says that in the last days Ephraim (Israel/northern kingdom) will be joined with Judah (southern kingdom) and they will be one (Hebrew “echad”, a marriage term) before the Lord. All of this hangs on our understanding of one commandment in Deut 24.1-4. You may say this may never be a major issue, but it is. Christian theology teaches that God has rejected (divorced) Israel and that the “church” is the “new Israel” and “Zion.” Look at the writings of the so-called “church fathers” and the Christian apologists who repeatedly made this argument before the Roman government. There is a book called “Who is God’s Betrothed” and it has a cover showing the Star of David with a Cross right through it. It says that God divorced Israel and replaced it with the “church.” This premise has many problems. First, there is no such thing as a “Gentile Church.” The Kahal (eschatological congregation of the Scriptures) is made up of Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), male and female, free and slave. These have the righteousness of God through emunah, faith. There is one olive tree. In Ezek 37.16 it says that the Lord is going to make “one (echad) stick with Judah and Ephraim (Israel). The word “stick” there is the word “etz” in Hebrew, meaning “tree.” This alludes to the Olive Tree theology of Paul in Rom 11.1-24.

In Part 2, we will begin to get into the heart of this teaching by defining what the words “clean” and “unclean” mean in the Scripture and get into the many concepts that are associated with this subject. This topic will expand your knowledge of the Scriptures and bring clarification to many passages, not only in the Tanach, but in the Gospels and Epistles as well. We will begin to look at Hag 2.11-13 and how this can only be interpreted correctly if you have an understanding of Tahorot, the laws of purification.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

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