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Genesis 1 and Jewish Interpretation

The Line of Fire / Dr. Michael Brown
The Truth Network Radio
September 9, 2022 1:42 pm

Genesis 1 and Jewish Interpretation

The Line of Fire / Dr. Michael Brown

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September 9, 2022 1:42 pm

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It is Michael Brown. It is Thoroughly Jewish Thursday now coming your way from the Mercy Culture Studios in Fort Worth. So we were in Dallas, CFNI earlier in the week now over here Mercy Culture in Fort Worth. Absolutely delighted to be with you. I've been having an awesome time teaching students in these schools about Jesus revolution. I am pumped, but I'm pumped because we're on the air together and it's Thoroughly Jewish Thursday. So here's the phone number to call 866-34-TRUTH.

That's 866-348-7884. Any Jewish related question of any kind that you have, send it my way. About the Hebrew Bible, about Jesus being the Messiah of Israel, about messianic prophecy, about the state of Israel today, about Judaism or Jewish tradition. And yeah, we take questions on Islam as well. I'm not an Islamic expert, but I can't answer a lot. So I just see a call on that now.

So phone lines are open 866-348-7884. I'm scheduled to be on the air tonight with Vocab Malone who does a lot of apologetics and he has been interacting with the book that has come out by a former believer and this former believer is challenging Christians about the authority and inspiration of Scripture. So I've been asked to come on with Vocab and talk about some of the issues that come up and they're basic issues. They're things we've been discussing for centuries in many ways, but as people have questions, it's good, it's fair to address the questions and to seek to answer these things. So that's why I've got Genesis 1 in mind in Hebrew and it's really, really interesting to see the amount of controversy that surrounds the opening chapter, the opening chapters of Genesis, but especially the first chapter.

What's not controversial is the overall message. Everybody agrees that Genesis 1 is telling us that God created the universe. One God, not many, created the entire universe and he did it by his sovereign power by speaking things into existence. There are no competing gods. There are no powers that are equal to God. Everything has a beginning except God.

This is clear. Now you could debate a thousand other things within the text and we're going to open up some of them, but what's indisputable is what is taught and that's why it's there. It's there to teach us about God the Creator. That's why it's there. And when we understand the motivation for it being in the Bible, the reason it's in the Bible is not so much to give us scientific information. It's not why it's there.

I'll explain that in a minute. It's there to teach us about God. It's there to teach us about his attributes. It's there to teach us about him as creator.

Whether you were convinced based on the Bible and science we should believe at a young earth or if you're convinced based on the Bible and science that we should believe in an old earth, either way the message is the same. God and God alone is the creator and orderer of this universe and the one who brings light out of darkness and order out of chaos and creates human beings in his image and who makes everything after its own kind, that's the God who is revealed here. And the reason that the ancient world wrote their cosmologies, wrote their explanations of the origin of the universe, the reason they did it was not primarily to talk about science or here's how we got the trees and here's how we got people and so on and so forth, is to teach about the gods that they worshipped.

If you read the ancient Babylonian creation account Enuma Elish, it's all about the conflicts between the gods and then this one rises up as supreme God and that's primarily why the texts were there. Now, you say, well, why do I say that Genesis 1 was not put in the Bible primarily to teach us scientific information? Now, I'm not saying it's scientifically inaccurate or not accurate. I'm not saying it teaches young earth or old earth. I'm simply making a statement that its primary purpose in the Bible was not to teach us about science.

Why do I say that? Because if that was the case, then until relatively recent times, every generation in history would have thought the Bible was wrong. Up until 500-something years ago when it was widely believed throughout the world that the sun went around the earth rather than the earth around the sun, if the Bible was heliocentric so that everything goes around the sun, if it taught that, then for centuries people would have said the Bible is wrong because we all know and science tells us that the sun goes around the earth.

Well, that was wrong. That was not accurate, but that's what the whole world has believed for millennia. There are other things that science believes today that it didn't believe 100 or 200 or 300 years ago. The day will come when we'll look back to the Darwin era and realize how much error was in that. There was a time before Darwin, a time after Darwin.

So here, I'll give you an example. Have you ever seen an old picture of yourself? Maybe you and your spouse and you and friends just like, I can't believe those styles!

Yikes! Well, they were stylish then! So if you're going to be stylish for the year 2022, but you lived in the year 1850 and you put on a stylish 2022 outfit, people are like, where are you? Are you from Mars or something?

Who are you? What are you wearing, right? Hair dudes, different things like that. Or take something that was stylish in the 1850s and wear it today, people are like, you going to a costume party?

Are you part of some Broadway players? Why do you dress like that? So the point is, styles change. The point is also scientific opinion changes. You say, well, we know certain things now. Okay, yeah, we know that the earth goes around the sun. But for millennia, people didn't believe that.

If the Bible categorically taught God made the universe this way and he made the earth to go around the sun, everyone would think the Bible was wrong. So you say, well, no, it matters today. Well, it didn't matter a hundred years ago or two or five or a thousand. The intent of it was not to give scientific information. The intent was to teach us about God.

Have all the scientific debate you want. I'm not saying not to, but the point is, this is to teach us about who God is and how he operates. Now, what's really interesting is the opening words. So if you read it in a traditional Christian Bible, you'll read in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth or the heaven and the earth. If you will read it in some of the ancient versions, so the Septuagint translating from Hebrew into Greek, about 250-300 years before the time of Jesus, that's when Genesis would have been translated. The Septuagint renders it similarly. It doesn't say the, but it's in beginning, which would mean in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, right? So the Hebrew, the Greek, N-R-K, starts there, right?

In the beginning, God created heavens and earth. The same in the beginning that you have in John 1-1, N-R-K, in the beginning, right? If you look in the Aramaic Targum, so this is the Aramaic translation slash paraphrase of the Hebrew Bible.

This was extant on some level in Jesus' day. It also begins in the same way with, in the beginning, if you look at the Vulgate, so Jerome's translation from Hebrew into Latin, a few hundred years after the time of Jesus, fourth century. So same thing in Prokipio, in the beginning, God creates in Aramaic, so it's all the same.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. However, for long periods of time, Jewish interpretive tradition has read it differently, and there are strong arguments that have been made about this very thing. Grammarians, Hebrew scholars, have argued for an alternate translation.

Now, I'm going to read you from the new JPS version. When God began to create heaven and earth, as if it said, Bereshit bara Elohim et tishman batarot, or just a different way of reading the traditional text, Bereshit bara, when God began to create heaven and earth, notice that the word the is not there in Hebrew. The Hebrew does not say in the beginning, literally in beginning, or by way of beginning. So another way to read that, when God began to create heaven and earth, the earth being unformed and void with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God, or that's how it's translated, or the Spirit of God sweeping over the water, God said, then God said, Let there be light. So it's not even telling you that this is at the beginning of time, it's simply saying, when God began to do this, this is what he did, this is what he was working with, and this is how he produced it. So there has been a large discussion and debate among translators for centuries. So if you go back to the principal Jewish interpreters in the 11th and 12th centuries, so this is in the pre-scientific modern era, this is in the time when it was still believed that the sun went around the earth, they translated this differently. I have read massive scholarly debates about this, and I still see arguments each way.

I have not landed dogmatically on in the beginning God created versus when God began to create. Massive arguments, and then there are nuances of the other translations, of the second one I just gave, and how to read that. But here's what I want to draw to your attention. John Lennox, who is a brilliant scholar, PhD in mathematics, science, you know, Oxford, Cambridge, trained teachers at these schools, great, great scholar, great Christian man, strong apologist, he has a terrific book on Genesis 1 following Seven Days to Change the World. It's just, it's a really excellent read, he's a terrific academic, but he breaks things down in ways that people can understand. And he has some really interesting quotes. He's quoting from a former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, Jonathan Sacks, and he quotes some different scholars.

So Rashi, who's the foremost medieval commentator, foremost Jewish commentator, period, lived 1040-1105. This is what he said about Genesis 1. So remember, he's writing this a thousand years, over a thousand years ago. The text does not intend to point the order of the acts of creation. The text does not by any means teach which things were created first and which later. It only wants to teach us what was the condition of things at the time when heaven and earth were created and that the earth was without form and a confused mass. In other words, having done a bit of science, he's saying we need to have a little bit of science. He's saying, read the text rightly. It's not about science. It's about other things.

Interesting. We'll get into this more and I want to go to your calls quickly, stay right here. It's the line of fire with your host, Dr. Michael Brown. Get on the line of fire by calling 866-34-TRUTH.

Here again is Dr. Michael Brown. Hey, there's nothing like our musical transitions on thoroughly Jewish Thursday from the fire of Skillet to the beauty of the Hebrew songs, just in traction with my buddy, John Cooper, right before the show. So shout out as always to our friends at Skillet. 866-34-TRUTH. Amin, Lucas, Jesse, you're next. I'll be going to the phones momentarily. If you've got a Jewish-related question, great time to call now.

I should be able to get your call if we get you on now before, I'll get you online here, before the show is over. Okay, so back to back to what some of the rabbis have said about Genesis 1 long before the modern scientific debate. This is Maimonides, who lived 1135 to 1204. He said, now on the one hand, the subject of creation is very important, but on the other hand, our ability to understand these concepts is very limited. Therefore, God described these profound concepts, which is divine wisdom found necessary to communicate to us using allegories, metaphors, and imagery. It has been outlined in metaphors that the masses can understand as according to their mental capacity, while the educated take it in a different sense. And he says, the account given in scripture of the creation is not, as is generally believed, intended to be in all its parts, literal. So he was a great intellectual philosopher and codifier of law in his day, but he's not saying this from a scientific viewpoint, he's saying this from his understanding of scripture and how it's being conveyed, and larger issues involved. I'm just laying this out to say that when we're asking questions about Genesis 1, we're trying to cop out, and we're trying to ignore what science says. No, Genesis 1 transcends science.

Does it teach accurately? Can we take it literally? Are there arguments for it? That's a separate debate, which I'm happy to have.

But let's understand why it's there. If the Bible was a scientific textbook, it wouldn't change our lives. It wouldn't save us from our sins. The Bible's not a scientific textbook. If it intends to teach science, then I would say what it intends to teach has to be accurate, because it's the Word of God. But is it intending to teach science here?

That's the other question. There are Jewish traditions, and some of these going back 1,800 years, so again, way back 2,000 years, 600 years, way back before modern scientific debate, all right? Some have the age of the earth now would be going on 6,000 years, 5,700 and change. But there are others that have the earth as 40,000 years old, some 50 to 100,000 years old, and some medieval Jewish mystics had it as between 900,000 and 2.5 billion years old. So they're debating young earth, old earth, having nothing to do with science. Listen to what Origen said. Now he read scripture allegorically, we understand that.

Second century scholar, one of the great scholars of the early church, then rejected later for some of his universalistic views and things. But Origen said this, again, pre-scientific, we're talking about 1,900 years ago. What intelligent person can imagine that there was a first day, then a second day, and a third day, evening and morning without the sun, the moon, and the stars? And that the first day, if it makes sense to call it such, existed even without a sky? Who's foolish enough to believe that like a human gardener, God planted a garden in Eden in the east and placed in it a tree of life, visible and physical, so that by biting into its fruit, one would attain life. And that by eating from another tree, one would come to no good and evil. And when it is said that God walked in the garden in the evening and Adam hid himself beyond a tree, I cannot imagine that anyone will doubt that these details point symbolically to spiritual meanings by using historical narrative, which did not literally happen.

Okay, so what's the point? Origen believed in a literal Adam and Eve. Origen believed in a literal fall. Origen believed in literal redemption through the cross.

Origen believed that sin entered into the world and all of that. But in his view, the Bible clearly is painting this in pictures to tell a story, even though the picture is not literal pictures, it's not a literal tree of knowledge, it symbolizes something. Now you may reject that entirely, that's fine. You might say, no, no, to be accurate, it had to be a literal tree, it had to be a literal snake, it had to be literal seven days. I'm not arguing that.

Don't argue that point with me here. That's not what that's not what we're discussing. All I'm saying is, long before there was a dispute about science in the Bible, 21st century, 20th century science in the Bible, what we understand scientifically versus Genesis 1 or in harmony with Genesis 1, long before there was any such debate, there was discussion among church leaders, among Jewish leaders, about how to understand these chapters. And many said, no, no, it's obviously being told in a story fashion to convey a point that God is the creator, that this is overall how he creates, that human beings sinned and rebelled. And some would argue that the reason some of the imagery is used in the snake and things is to take away the myth and the polytheism, because in the ancient world these are all different gods.

No, it's just a snake. It's just, in other words, to say one God only and shout that out to the world. So when people get all worked up and losing faith over as Genesis 1, literal or not, I say you're missing the whole point. And we've had young earth creationists on the air, old earth creationists, in fact we've got some amazing young earth scholars that are joining us, God willing, in months to come, and our old earth friends are always welcome here, so we can always have those debates.

I'm very happy to discuss that, but that is secondary to these issues. Okay, last thing, and then I go straight to the phones. What John Lennox also points out that's really interesting is that literally when you're going through the days of creation, it's day one, then second day, third day, fourth day, fifth day, then the sixth day, then the seventh day. So why doesn't it say first day, second day, third day? Why does it say day one, then second, third, fourth, etc.? Why is it, you know, ordinal, cardinal, instead of just all the same? And then why the sixth day and the seventh day?

Is there something that's setting those apart? Are those to be understood differently? There are all kinds of interesting questions to ask, and I say as we ask, let us get deeper into the text to say, what, God, what are you trying to teach us about yourself and about us?

Because that's why it's in the Bible. All right, we go to the phones. Let us start in Atlanta with Amin. Thanks for holding, and welcome to the line of fire. Hey Dr. Brown, how you doing?

Doing very well, thank you. Sorry if this is a little off-topic, but I think it kind of is a little bit on-topic to the Jewish Scriptures and what you were talking about. I deal with Muslims on a consistent basis, and I saw your debate a while ago with Nader Ahmed, and you know, they have the various claims that the Bible's corrupted, like the Torah and the Gospels, even though we have evidence that it's not. You know, they say, you know, Muhammad is in Deuteronomy and then Isaiah and then John, and they have all these claims. And my question is, when you deal with them, how do you, I guess, keep a level head and keep sanity when you can repeatedly show them that their interpretations and that their conclusions are just objectively wrong, yet they continue to deny it? Yeah. Yeah, that's kind of my question. It's very annoying.

Yeah, it's challenging. After decades of having sophisticated, in-depth debates with rabbis, wrestling with the text going back and forth, they make their good point, I respond with my good point, we debate the Hebrew back and forth. I mean, sophisticated, intellectual, challenging, in-depth debates. Obviously, I'm convinced we're on the side of truth in these debates. It was quite a shock for me to start debating some of these Islamic arguments because they were so ridiculous.

They were so utterly bizarre. I told one of my friends who does Islamic apologists, I said, I guess I just didn't get a good debater and he must have picked a weak spot. He said, no, that's easy to refute all of it. That was his position.

But aside from being completely lied to by Nadir, completely misrepresented himself to our organization both before and after the debate. But I mean, it was mind-boggling. I mean, I'm quoting facts in Hebrew and he's gonna quote Newsweek or something.

I mean, it was mind-boggling. And then the inconsistency of them saying, well, the Bible you have is corrupt. Oh, and the Bible you have points to Muhammad.

Well, is it corrupt or not? You know, but yeah, the arguments are so unbelievably weak. Deuteronomy 18 explicitly rules out the possibility of Muhammad. The Isaiah argument's the same. The servant of the Lord identified with Israel coming from Israel, and then with a specific mission first to Israel.

Then the nations, etc. That disqualifies Muhammad. The idea that Jesus when he's referring to the Spirit, that could be referring to Muhammad. Or to find one Hebrew word that's similar to the word Muhammad.

It's not even the same, but similar. You know, I might as well say, I must be prophesied in the Bible because the Bible talks about Michael, you know? So, how do you maintain sanity? What you have to do is obviously not keep reaching out to those whose hearts are hard. In other words, if someone's not going to hear, sometimes you just have to pray for them, right? But the one thing you can try to do is find one little spot in their weakest area and just, excuse me, but what about this? I know you want to talk about, just keep coming back to force them to look at that. That's to force them to look at that. That's the only method I've seen in cases like this, to just refuse to get to another point. No, no, but you haven't answered that.

To at least let there be a little chink in the armor. And then sometimes, I mean, what happens is that one question opens them up to think. Because you can see in people's eyes they're not listening. I've talked to, you know, cult members and they just have their programmed answers. And then I'll say something and I can see a light just went on.

It's like, ah, ah. There's a thinking brain there. That's what you do, otherwise you're patient, you're loving, you pray, and you don't waste your time either. You know, just keep banging your head against the wall.

But maybe one point, get them thinking, get them wondering, then from there you can go. So stay with that until the eyes are open. God bless. May the Lord use you.

We'll be right back. It's The Line of Fire with your host, Dr. Michael Brown. Get on The Line of Fire by calling 866-34-TRUTH. Here again is Dr. Michael Brown. Welcome back, friends, to Thoroughly Jewish Thursday. Michael Brown, your Thoroughly Jewish host, delighted to be with you.

866-348-7884. Now, in some people's books I'm not thoroughly Jewish because I'm a follower of Jesus, therefore I'm no longer Jewish. There's some of the rabbinic community who would say that, although that's not what I've run into for 50-plus years, run into people saying, you're a Jew, why do you believe this? But, in fact, maybe I'll tell you a joke about that after we take a couple more calls. Then I have those in the church saying, well, if you're a follower of Jesus, you're no longer Jewish because you lose that identity.

Well, unfortunately, Paul never got that memo when he identifies himself as a Jew, as a believer, identifies himself as a Jew. Oh, 866-34-TRUTH. All right, before I go back to the phones, the new book is out, came out Tuesday. It's been out three days. The Political Seduction of the Church, How Millions of American Christians Have Confused Politics with the Gospel. I don't know that I've written a book yet. This is what?

I think number 43. I don't know that I've written a book yet that came out in a more timely fashion, that was released in a more critical moment to be released. And I want to be honest, I wouldn't have written a book unless I felt it was important or urgent, unless I felt stirred by God to write it, a mandate to do it.

But I have to be honest, the responses I'm getting from people are kind of blowing me away. Even some of the first few reviews being posted just by readers. One gentleman who was high up in government intelligence for years, he shot me a note when I sent him the book. Reading your book, thanks, fantastic. Recommending it on social media and to my pastor and friends. I personally thankfully wrote this. I've been trying to get people to see this since 2000.

Brilliant piece of work. That's exactly why I wrote the book. So if you haven't gotten your copy yet, go to Amazon and order it. If you've got a copy ready or go to our website, The ebook has been delayed. It should be any day.

I keep hearing any day. It should have been out when the book was released, but any day you'll be able to get it in e-form as well. And if you've got the book already and you're enjoying it, post it on social media, post a picture, tell people about it, or go to Amazon and post a review if you have read the book.

So I'm going to tell you kind of a cute joke in a moment, but first we go back to the phones. Lucas in Florida, thanks for holding and welcome to the Line of Fire. Hey Dr. Brown, thanks for answering my call again.

You're welcome. Hey, so I actually called in last week asking a little about your thoughts on the Millennial Kingdom, and while addressing my question, you actually brought up something that was also on my mind. It's whether, in your view, you see the end-time repentant Israel entering into the kingdom as a resurrected people or as the lead nation and keeping their corruptible bodies.

And going along with that, I think it would be how you see the national repentance of Israel prophesied in Zechariah 12, whether you see that going off the floor or at the appearance of Jesus. Yep, got it. So all right, let me just jump right in here. Hey, my apologies to our other callers. We do have a rule of no one being able to call in within a few weeks from a call to make sure the phone lines are open for others to call in, because some days it gets very, very busy. So our call screeners have a ton of stuff to deal with and focus on, and sometimes people call and it slips through.

But anyway, my apologies because that's in violation of our rule, which we do to be fair to others and to open things up. Since the question's out, what's clear to me is when Messiah appears, that our people have been crying out for his appearance and that they welcome him when he appears. That's what's clear to me from Zechariah 12 and from other passages. There's no question that Jewish repentance is key in ushering in the Messiah, but will there be a national turning before he comes, in which case at last we welcome you, or will there be the recognition cry out as he appears that this is the one that we have been waiting for and how could we have crucified him the first time around? That overall sequence is clear. The details of that, I just don't see Scripture laying out for us in advance. All right, 866-34-TRUTH, let us go to Jesse in Twin Cities, Minnesota.

Welcome to the line of fire. Hi Dr. Brown, so it was interesting that you were bringing up origin and universalism, because that's kind of what my question is about, so it's interesting there. Yeah, go ahead. So my question is about Lazarus and the rich man and how there's this mostly pertaining to verse 26 where it says, And besides all of this, between you and us there is a great chasm that is fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us. Now the question is whether or not that holds in the final judgment, and in my mind I'm thinking that you can draw certain implications from this idea of Hades and Abraham's bosom as sort of like a grander, there's a grander story behind this in the final judgment, but I don't see any evidence to say that, from the universalist point of view, that after you've served your penance, so to speak, in the wake of fire, that you can then cross over. So this is the point that I made, and I'm getting all sorts of different replies like, well this is just a parable, and then I'm kind of wondering like, okay, so does this not say anything about the afterlife, or how does that work?

Yeah, so these are all good and valid questions, Jesse. Number one, it doesn't say that it's a parable, but it could well be a parable. The argument against it being a parable is it uses someone's name, and Jesus doesn't do that in any of his parables.

The argument that it is a parable is that Lazarus is a name meaning God helps, and God helps, and therefore it's a picture of someone dependent on God. But either way, the question is, okay, what's this teaching us, right? What's this teaching us? If there is no life after death, or there is no conscious state after death before the resurrection, the question is, why is it there?

Yeah. And two, a conscious state immediately after death, as opposed to soul sleep. Why confirm something that people believed then if it was false? So, you know, that does raise those arguments, but at the very least, okay, what does it teach? And it does teach about a separation to come, and it does teach that once it's done, it's done. I mean, it does seem clear. The principle is one can't go from crossover, why even say that?

Why add that in to this description, unless there's a message there? Then from there, the larger argument is, okay, just show me any hint anywhere where eternal death or eternal destruction or eternal punishment is not just that. And for those that would argue against that would argue against eternal conscious torment and argue for some form of annihilation or cessation of existence, that works against universalism just as strongly, right?

In fact, and certainly even more strongly than eternal conscious torment, because theoretically, if the soul is imperishable, so the soul is going to exist forever and ever and ever and ever and ever, then maybe after enough seasons of suffering or purging or purification or payment of sin, then you could switch over, which I don't believe for a second the Bible teaches. But if you see it exist, right, Matthew 10 28, don't fear those who can kill the body but can't kill the soul, but rather for him who can destroy both soul and body and hell. So there is Jesus telling us God can destroy soul and body. So either of those are going to argue against the idea of some crossing over, passing over, you know, the Rob Bell argument that eternal punishment, that punishment there means pruning. I mean, these are just arguments without any scriptural support. So the clear final state of the dead, the separation of a Daniel 12 to some to eternal life, others to eternal shame and contempt, whether that means eternal conscious torment or their names forever being remembered in the negative, either way it's final, it's done, it's over, it's the end.

There is no crossing over. So even though that's not the primary teaching here in Luke 16, it's definitely a sub-teaching. I agree with you in the observation that it's there to tell us when it's done, it's done. And you can't go back and undo it, you can't cross over and fix it, that is just the reality. Whether there actually was a place that we refer to as Abraham's prison paradise and those in paradise could see those suffering in Hades, whether that's just an illustration, that can all be debated, but what are the lessons from it? And lessons from it, and then the lack of texts that rebut the idea that the eternal punishment or suffering or penalty is anything but eternal, the lack of those really breaks down. And remember, whatever the punishment is, in terms of duration, it's parallel to the life, to the blessing, right? So eternal life, if that's just a period of time, then we don't have eternal life.

So yeah, the arguments break down, and I think your point is fairly taken. All right, thank you so much Dr. Brown. You are very, very welcome. Appreciate it.

866-342. Okay, so really good news. We were basically at right about the limit for our Israel tour, because we couldn't get more rooms in one of the hotels in Jerusalem. We were able to get the second bus, and that's it. Two buses, that's the limit. That's as many as we take, because we still, you know, I teach 100 people settings.

To me, it feels very intimate. You know, so to be on the bus, to hang out with different people day in, day out, to have meals together, to do night meetings and stuff, it feels very intimate with, you know, between 50 and 100. But just for us, we're not taking more. But we couldn't finally, really excellent hotel. We were able to get extra rooms open up. So we have room. We have room, but I'm going to be announcing the tour in some pretty major settings in the next few days and weeks, so we could get a flood, more people coming. So if you've been thinking about coming, I know some of you want it, time doesn't work, or you can't afford it, but if you've been thinking about, yeah, let's sign up. Best to sign up now. All right, but we do have room.

I am so glad to share that with you. So go to the website, AskDrBrown, You find the info right on the home page, first or second slide that comes up. And if you have questions about it, or family coming, or other things, contact our office. We have people standing by who love to answer your questions and help you. Okay, we come back and I tell you a fun Jewish Christian joke.

Stay with you. It's the line of fire with your host, Dr. Michael Brown. Get on the line of fire by calling 866-34-TRUTH.

Here again is Dr. Michael Brown. Welcome, welcome to the line of fire. It is Thoroughly Jewish Thursday. Great to be with you today. Going back to the phones shortly. I want to make another point about Genesis 1, tell you a cute joke, and then back to the phones. So you may hear, well, the Bible is borrowing from ancient Near Eastern creation accounts. A lot of them you can get online and find texts and translations, just readily available.

You don't have to have all the academic editions of these things like I do in my library. But the first thing you'll see is the striking differences. That's what it'd be like. It's like someone saying, well, you know, I'd sport baseball. They borrowed that from soccer.

And both have balls and both have teams that win and lose. And then it's like, what? When you compare it, it's like, what do they have in Kanna?

Almost nothing. So when you start to compare these things, that's what jumps up out of you. So, for example, people say, yeah, but you have tahom in verse 2. So the earth was formless and void, and darkness was on the face of the tahom, the deep. And tahom, that's borrowed from Babylonian Tiamat, and Tiamat was one of the goddesses, and the Babylonian creation account gets split in two, and part of Tiamat is heaven, part of Tiamat is earth.

It's like, okay, that just underscores my point. Here, tahom is just, even if there wasn't a connection with Tiamat, which is a whole different debate, it's not a thing, it's not a power, it's not a deity, it's not an entity, it's not an entity, it's just a thing, it's just part of the water, that's it. So the whole, all the gods of the ancient world are nothing here. Okay, so there is a old Jewish joke that there was, this Jewish guy lived in an entirely Catholic community in the days when you couldn't eat meat on Fridays as a Catholic, and every Friday he would cook up on his barbecue a delicious steak, and it went through the neighborhood, and everybody's like, oh gosh, well I want steak, and this guy's making me crazy for steak, so they talked to the priest, they said, please father, you gotta, you gotta convert this guy, he's just, it's driving us crazy with this steak, and so the priest visits the Jewish guy for months, and after some months, he converts and becomes Catholic, and no steak, oh, everybody's peaceful in the community. Then one Friday, suddenly, there's a smell of steak again, and the priest comes over to the man's house, and he said, what are you doing, you're Christian now, you can't eat steak on Friday? He goes, father, that's not steak, that's fish. He said, no, no, no, that's steak, that's red meat, that's cooking, he goes, no, no, no, father, that's not steak, that's fish, and the priest says, what are you talking about, you're crazy? He goes, no, no, father, I learned that from you. He said, what do you mean you learned it from me? He said, well, remember a few months ago, a few weeks back, you sprinkled me with water, and you said to me, you're no longer a Jew, you're a Christian. He says, so I went over to the sink, and I sprinkled the steak with water. I said, you're no longer a steak, you're a fish. There you have it. Is that the first time I told that line of fire? If so, all right, let's go to Micello in Maryland. Thanks for calling the line of fire.

Yes, hello, Dr. Brown. I was doing some looking around on the internet that website called, and I was curious about the Jewish timeline, the Jewish calendar that they use. I mean, they trace it all the way back to creation.

I mean, personally, I don't think it definitely goes all the way back to creation, but I was wondering if you can comment on the accuracy of the calendar, and just how long has it been around? Yeah, so the chronology that you'll find on is that of traditional Judaism, right? So it's a great site to go to to find out what traditional Jews believe. So, and of course devoted to the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe who died in 1994 at the age of 92, and to this day, among many of his followers, is still hailed as the Messiah. But you will get traditional Jewish representation there.

So many times I'll do that when I want to refer someone, and they'll ask me, what do Jews believe about this or that? That would give you the traditional Jewish viewpoint. Now, the chronology goes back to a work called Seder Olam Kaba.

So it's an earlier work, and I'm just curious to see here how ancient the debate in scholarship, yeah, second century CE, it starts more recently. It doesn't go all the way back to, you know, creation, etc., in terms of what makes it so important in traditional Judaism. But it condenses the Persian period, the Greek period, to a much shorter period of time. There's a discrepancy of, what, 100 something years, almost 200 years discrepancy.

So it shortens things. But a lot of the chronology goes that far back. Now earlier, I was reading some quotes indicating that you have different rabbinic arguments.

And here, in fact, let me just grab this again. I was reading this earlier, but there was no universal belief about this in the ancient Jewish world, in terms of chronology. So there's a book by Dov Ginsberg, an article, he's in the Geological Survey of Israel. He wrote an article on the age of the earth from Judaic traditional literature.

John Lennox quotes it in his book that I referenced. The calculation of the earth's age, based on ascribing approximately 40 years to each generation mentioned in the Talmud, results in a total of 5740 years from the birth of Adam. Birth, in quotes. For modern scientists holding traditional viewpoints, this dating has led to conflicts which have been explained by various semantic gymnastics. The most common of these is that the biblical six days of creation refers not to days as we know them, but to vast periods of time.

However, an examination of the writings of Rabbi Abahu, Rabbi Abaya in the Talmud and Midrash, so this is over 1,500 years old, suggests a concept more akin to our present knowledge. Simon HaChassid in the Talmud estimated the earth's age as 40,000 years. Based on these early stages, many writers of Jewish religious philosophy in the 10th to 12th centuries gave ages of the earth from 50,000 to 100,000 years. Certain Kabbalists, so medieval mystics, from Spain in the 12th to 13th centuries calculated the earth's age at 900,000 to 2.5 billion years expressed throughout traditional Jewish literature from the Middle Ages to the present by Jewish philosophers and rabbis such as Maimonides, Rabbi Judah Halevi and Rabbi Israel Lipschitz and others. So the point is you have various chronologies offered, but it's not one that's fixed.

The one that's used the most is Seder Elom Rabbah. It does go back roughly 2,000 years, could be even earlier, but like I said, the traditional chronology condenses some of the period of Israel in exile and Israel under foreign rule and comes up with a much shorter period than historians would accept today. That being said, a traditional Jew does use a calendrical date, right, of this year's 5,782, etc. You know, they'll use that date, but that doesn't mean they all believe that's the age of the earth. Oh, okay. Yes, thank you very much.

That's very helpful. And I noticed you mentioned that it condenses sometimes, and that's probably—I was looking at the date for the destruction of the second temple—no, sorry, the first temple, and I was trying to compare it with our current calendar, the date of the destruction, with their calendar, of the date of the destruction, and it just seemed to me that, you know, they put it a lot closer than it was according to a calendar. Yeah, so the idea that we would say that the first temple is the first temple was destroyed in 586 B.C., and the second temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., so that would be 656 years between the destruction of the first temple and the second temple, yet a traditional Judaism will have a different count for that time, like I say, condenses it 160, 170 years, but it's based on that.

Now, I know traditional Jewish scholars today—brilliant, brilliant men—who argue for that chronology and say that the chronology that we go by is based on other ancient sources or misreading of them or something like that, so hey, thank you for the call and the question. All right, I'd love to take more calls, but out of time. However, feel free to call them with a Jewish question.

Oh, not tomorrow, but next week, next week. Tomorrow we've got a special broadcast for you where we're going to draw on some really interesting social media questions that were posted, so we do this every so often on a Friday, so we'll be doing that. Won't be taking calls, don't get mad at me, but we get to answer a lot of the social media questions. You can always write to us, especially if it's an important question to you, or you're reaching out to a Jewish person, or you're struggling with questions that—not just a random thing you've been wondering about, important—you can always write to us. We have team members that help specifically doing that, and then many things are sent to me, Dr. Brown, could you weigh in on this? But we've got folks who represent what I believe, what we hold to, scholarly folks and those with ministry experience, so we're here to help, and that's all through the website AskDrBrown, Remember, get your copy of this book, The Political Seduction of the Church. It is relevant. It will open your eyes, it will say what you've been thinking, and it will show us how to get things right in this election cycle and the next, and do what God has called us to do. Back with you tomorrow, God bless. Another program powered by the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 23:53:07 / 2023-02-27 00:11:25 / 18

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