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Is the Torah credible?

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Question: Publication date: 20-01-2010
Title:   Is the Torah credible?
Content:   I have a few questions, emanating from a talk by Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi (http://www.divineinformation.com/).

1) If Judaism is false, how can we explain the fact that the Torah, as supposedly given at Sinai, has remained nearly unchanged across time and within many different cultures? In contrast, Compare this with the New Testament, which has numerous versions.

2) If Judaism is man-made, how can we explain the many difficult and often unexplainable commandments (e.g., shiluach haken, 4 species on Sukkot, para adumah, kashrut laws)? Why would have someone invented those? Why would Moshe ask the Israelites to follow these difficult rules? It’s not as if he gained much personal benefit from these commandments (unlike with Mormonism, for example)? One difficult law entails the prohibition of marrying a close relative, which in effect commanded many Israelites to divorce their partner at the time the law was announced. Why would they accept it unless they were certain it was given by God? If people want to invent a book, they wouldn’t make up all those strange, difficult, and hundreds of laws and restrictions.

3) Similarly, why would the author/s risk their credibility with writing so many prophecies that might not come true?

Thank you,
Eli

Answer: Publication date: 20-01-2010
Title:   Is the Torah credible?
Content:   Dear Eli,

1) The text of the Pentateuch did undergo substantial changes in the course of time. We wrote about this here: http://www.daatemet.org/articles/article.cfm?article_id=9

2) There is no reason to suppose that all the laws of Judaism, or of any other religion, for that matter, were invented all at once from scratch. More likely, most of these laws developed out of earlier practices, rooted in the traditions of the Israelite and Jewish populations for which these laws were promulgated. In fact, Judaism has no monopoly on religious laws, which involve difficulties and sometimes clear damage for the populations which practice them. Compare, e.g., the practice of “female circumcision,” which nowadays exists mostly among some Moslem populations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_mutilation). In those populations where it is practiced, “female circumcision” is considered a religious obligation, while from the utilitarian viewpoint it brings more damage than benefit to the society, because in the poor sanitary conditions prevailing in the countries where the “female circumcision” is practiced, it often ends in the death of the girls on whom it is performed (motiveless extermination of some of the members of a particular society is almost always harmful to the society in general, let alone to the families of the girls involved). On the other hand, the practice of “female circumcision” is clearly not of divine origin; it had existed long before Islam, and many Moslem scholars consider it to be not only non-obligatory but even forbidden under the Islamic law.

3) Some of the statements about future blessings or disasters contained in the Pentateuch are general and vague enough to suppose that they would naturally come true more than once. Other such statements are more specific, and some of them had clearly failed – or at least, their failure was acknowledged by the authors of the different biblical books.
Consider, e.g., the following statement, made in the context of the laws of the Shemitta: “And should you say, ‘What shall we eat the seventh year? Behold, we may not sow, nor gather in our harvest’ – then I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce for the three years, And you will sow in the eighth year, and eat of the old harvest until the ninth year, until its harvest comes in, you will eat the old store” (Leviticus 25:20-22).
Now, on the other hand, we have the following statement in II Kings 8:1-2: “Now Elisha had spoken to the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying: ‘Arise and go, you and your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn, for the Lord has called for a famine; and it will come upon the land for seven years. So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God, and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.” The period of seven years must have included a shemitta year, and from these verses it is clear that the land of Israel did not enjoy any special blessing on the eve of that year. Moreover, if the woman was able to survive in the land of the Philistines, located in the southern part of the coastal plain of modern Israel, it is clear that the famine, which affected the kingdom of Israel, did not affect at least some of its neighbors, which looks quite the opposite of the promised divine blessing for the land.
Furthermore, in the book of I Maccabees (not included in the Jewish biblical canon), which was written in the late 2nd century B.C.E. and is a relatively reliable source for the events of the early Hasmonean period, it is told how in the year when Antiochus IV Epiphanes died (164 B.C.E.), his general Lysias, whom he had sent to fight against the Hasmonean revolt, besieged the city of Beth-zur, to the south of Jerusalem, and succeeded to conquer it, after the inhabitants “evacuated the city, because they had no provisions there to withstand a siege, since it was a sabbatical year for the land” (I Maccabees 6:49). So, in this instance too, the supposedly divine promise failed to materialize.

Regards,

Daat Emet

Response: Publication date: 11-12-2012
Title:   Is the Torah credible?
Content:   Some biblical contradictions you may not have heard before: (see Spinoza also – he was the original troublemaker on this front)

1. Yes, the two genesis accounts are different, but did you realize by how much. In the first one, man is created after the animals but in the second, man is created first, then God sees that he has no helpmate, then he creates the animals and brings them to man to see what he would call them, then only creates Eve. OOPS! Don’t try tell me, like Artscroll’s sneaky translation does that God brought the animals that he HAD created to man – I’ve checked it out with people who know their Hebrew grammar and you cannot translate a pluperfect past tense verb like that. They also happen to be believing Jews – I didn’t tell them my problem, just asked them if the sneaky translation was feasible.)

2. Did you know that the flood was supposed to have wiped out the world – How come almost all civilisations of the time have historical records going back through the time of the flood and NO mention is made of a flood of that proportion and no civilisation was disrupted because of it.

3. Did you not think it's quite good going for Leah to have 7 children - 6 boys and Dinah, in 7 years. But not only that, her maidservant, Zilpah, gives birth to another 2. Read carefully and you'll see they were all at different times - Leah only gave Zilpah to Jacob when she stopped having her first set! 9 kids, each only conceived after the other was born, in 7 years. Not to mention Bilhah and Rachel also giving birth to 2 and 1. Fantastic! Too good to be true more likely.

4. Did you know that Jacob names the same place Beth-El THREE times - What gives? Clearly different authors at work here. (first in Gen: 28:19, second in Gen 35:7, third in Gen: 35:13)

5. Did you realize that Jacob sends messengers to Esau, in Seir, in the fields of Edom on his way back from Lavan.(Gen 32:4) But after their meeting, when Jacob finally returns home, they are living in Canaan together! Then Esau leaves and goes to live in Seir! (Gen 36:6-7) But hold on - wasn't he already there! OOPS! Hard to keep that darn plot together, so many details!

6. When Tamar gave birth, the first baby, Zorach, puts out his hand and pulls it back. Then his brother, Peretz, comes out first. Have you EVER heard of this happening? It's a medical impossibility. I don't mind miracles when they're explicit, but don't try telling me this was some hidden miracle when the text doesn't present it as such. (Gen chps 29 and 30)

7. There are many more, these are just the ones that I’ve thought of myself, besides 6. Of course others have also picked up on some of them, they’re pretty obvious when you read carefully and slowly.

The EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES
and this is without all the evidence of mankind existing LONG before Adam, the world being older than 5763 years (yes I know all the theories, relativity, one day = 1000 etc, different ages but these are ALL excuses), miracles just not happening, (yes they could have, but come on!), The massive amount of other, more subtle, evidence of more
The Naked Emperor


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