Sunday, March 20, 2011

Token Jew Says, "What?!"

Well in this chapter we finally hear from Token Jew aka Tsion-Ben-Judah. Now, a few of you readers new to the Left Behind series might be a little offended that I refer to Tsion as Token Jew, but the truth is, Tsion Ben-Judah serves as Ellanjay's concession, as their way of saying, "See we don't think all Jews are wrong-headed idiots." Because that's what they do think. According to them, Jews exist to serve one purpose: to return to Israel and to convert or die in the last act of Armageddon.

It's not hard to see the anti-Semitism that colours this view. Maybe they're not saying "Hitler was right" but they are saying that their views are wrong, clung to by stubbornness and ignorance (which is a step above the disingenousness they accuse every other religion of). They basically believe that Jews are cute but wrong, needing only to hear of the almighty truth of Jesus in order to become good Christians.

To quote Gershom Gorenburg's review of the Left Behind series, for a Jewish person, reading this series is like "The experience is jarring, like meeting someone who calls you by your name, insists he knows you, remembers you from a high school you didn't attend, a job you never had. I'm reading a book set largely in the country where I live -- but not really, because the authors' Israel is a landscape of their imagination, and the characters called "Jews" might as well be named hobbits or warlocks. Israel and Jews are central to Nicolae and the other books of the hugely successful Left Behind series -- but the country belongs to the map of a Christian myth; the people speak lines from a script foreign to flesh-and-blood Jews."

That about sums it up Ellanjay's views and if we didn't have so much more wrongheadedness to go through, we could stop there, but we do so let's continue.

First of all, there is no reason for the Israel government to appoint Tsion Ben-Judah to do his study in the first place for the same reason you don't see the US appointing a minister to find out when the second coming of Christ will be: a truly secular government has more important things to devote time and money then to finding out the answers to questions like how many angels could dance on the end of a pen.

Anyway, back to the story. Right now, Vicki has been released from the Detention center and sent to live with a Jewish couple. Which makes sense: most social workers would frown on a fourteen-year-old girl living with only a sixteen-year-old boy and Bruce "Useless" Barnes as guardians. Why they haven't put the rest of the YTF in foster homes, I don't know.

So she's watching the news and Tsion Ben-Judah comes on.

"I promise not to bore you with statistics, but we believe that there are at least 109 separate and distinct prophecies Messiah must fulfill. They require a man so unusual and a life so unique as to eliminate all pretenders."

And right now I'm playing the Wikipedian Protester. I looked up the specific 109 number and I only found a bunch of Christian websites, and even they couldn't agree on the specific number of prophecies that point towards the messiah. I did look up Jewish Messianism on Wikipedia to find out what they say about the Messiah and here's a list of what they consider Messianic prophecies:

Isaiah 1:26: "And I will restore your judges as at first and your counsellors as in the beginning; afterwards you shall be called City of Righteousness, Faithful City." Some Jews interpret this to mean that the Sanhedrin will be re-established. (Isaiah 1:26)

Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)

The whole world will worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:11-17)

He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:8-10, 2 Chronicles 7:18)

The "spirit of the Lord" will be upon him, and he will have a "fear of God" (Isaiah 11:2)

Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)

Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)

He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10)

All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)

Death will be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:8)

There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)

All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)

The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)

He will be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 52:7)

Nations will recognize the wrongs they did to Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:5)

The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)

The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)

Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)

The people of Israel will have direct access to the Torah through their minds and Torah study will become the study of the wisdom of the heart (Jeremiah 31:33)

He will give you all the worthy desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)

He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9)

Sorry for the bigass quote but things needed to be said. And before anybody objects I am aware Wikipedia is not the bestest most accurate source in the world, but I consider it a hell of a lot more accurate than Ellanjay.

Meanwhile, back to the list...Ask yourselves, how many of those prophecies did Jesus fulfill? Little to none. The Messiah is supposed to be a figure who brings peace to the Jewish people yet ever since the time of Jesus, they've faced continual threats of extinction.

Besides, not even the Jews and the Christians can agree on what constitutes a messianic prophecy. I've seen websites pull from Psalms as examples of prophecy which is completely not the intent of the book of Psalms. Psalms is a collection of hymns and prayers, not prophecies.

Okay, deep breath, back to the story.

Ol' Tsion recites the usual story about how the Messiah is born of a virgin than proceeds to say this headslapper.

"Let me close by saying that the three years I have invested in searching the sacred writings of Moses and the prophets have been the most rewarding of my life. I expanded my study to books of history and other sacred writings, including the New Testament of the Gentiles, combing every record I could find to see if anyone has ever lived up to the messianic qualifications..."

If you didn't find at least one reason to headdesk in that last paragraph, your IQ is below sea level. Why would Jews consult outside works to explain a Jewish prophecy. Wouldn't it make more sense for them to dig into their own works, studying their history and authorship?

Again, the paragraph doesn't mention if Token Jew sullied himself by reading the Koran, or Buddhist Suttras, or the Upanishads, but if he or Ellanjay had even bothered to take a glimpse at another culture's religion, they would discover that the virgin birth is a fairly common motif, claimed of many figures such as Mohammad and Buddha.

He goes on to point out usual prophecies that aren't on wikipedia's list and then says on that I've tried to verify but when I googled it, only Christian websites would come up, not Jewish.

"According to one of the greatest of all Hebrew prophets, Daniel, there would be exactly 483 years between the decree to rebuld the wall and the city of Jersualem would be 'in troublesome times' before the Messiah would be cut off for the sins of the people."
Ben-Judah looked directly into the camera. "Exactly 483 years after the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its walls, Jesus Christ of Nazerath offered himself to the nation of Israel."

:headdesks again: Again, I remind you I cannot verify this 483 years bit, but I can point out one thing: the world and Israel is still in troublesome times even after Jesus's life and that's probably what we should focus on, not on this whether or not it counts as exactly 483 years or not. Poverty and war are still rampant even though according to Messianic prophecy they were supposed to be ended.

Also, this reading of the prophets, as only picking and nitpicking out verses that could conceivably relate to a Messiah, ignores the real purpose of the prophets. The prophets weren't just a bunch of clairvoyants; they were passionate, wild-eyed people who loved social justice and still have much they could say for us today. But as said before, Social Justice equals commie-talk among RTCs.

Vicki's family turns off the TV then and Vicki goes into her room and reads the journal of their disappeared daughter, Chaya. Chaya had apparently started to wonder if Jesus was the messiah.

Meanwhile, back to Bruce "Useless" Barnes and the rest of YTF. Apparently a militia movement has started to stockpile guns, which, given what Bruce knows about the next seven years, stocking up guns and food and water should be a reasonable thing to do. But Bruce isn't thrilled about the idea of them joining the militia.

"There may be a place for military strength," Bruce said. "But I would hate to see you get involved with them."
"But why? If somebody doesn't stand up to Carpathia we'll all be serving the devil! I don't see why you're against this."

Neither do I. As I recall, don't the TF end up forming a militia? But I have a feeling, Bruce is more objecting to them serving under someone besides him than really the idea of a militia itself. Bruce then cites Ephesians 6, but still Mark isn't convinced.

"Why can't I be a Christian and fight with weapons?" Mark said. "The Bible is full of examples."

That is true and Bruce could say that he could fight against Carpathia by helping to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison. That is what Christ would do and doing what He would do, would be opposing the anti-Christ, but luckily Bruce is a manly man and doesn't go for that wussy touchy-feely stuff.

"Just be sure that you're doing this God's way. Zechariah 4:6 says, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.'"

And with that, I'll leave you all to discuss. Please, if any of you are scholars of Judaism, fill in the gaps of my lack of knowledge. I have done my best with Google and Wikipedia but I realize neither is what you could call a reliable source. Again, I am handicapped by the fact I don't have a degree in Theology like Fred and can't give the best information on the scriptures, their meaning, and the history behind them.

Sorry to do only one chapter this week, but I think I've made a good, substantial post, nonetheless. :grins:


Firedrake said...

I think that from L&J's point of view they're giving the Jews especially good treatment - after all, in this world Moslems and Hindus and Catholics and all other non-RTCs are all wrong-headed idiots, and it's an amazing concession to allow that any non-RTC might have anything useful to say. I'm inclined to regard this not so much as anti-semitism but as a general xenophobia coupled with a strange and fetishistic approach to one particular xeno-group.

At this point, I rather suspect that governments are acting a bit like the Americans after 9/11: the money tap has been turned on (for the "War on Terror" in one case, for "Find Our Children" in the other) and everyone's pet project is getting dusted off and re-spun as something that can justify a share of the expenditure. That's how I'd expect Tsion to have funding if he managed it at all - that his pet project actually is something to do with the Event is just icing on the cake. I realise he's been working on it for longer than that, but lots of actually useful stuff got cancelled after 9/11... and all L&J had to do to avoid this nonsense is to make it a university-funded project rather than a government one. A suitable school of Theology might well regard this sort of thing as a minor but interesting bit of work for an MA candidate.

Vicki... casually reads the diary of a murdered girl. Our heroine, folks.

"So what do you think we should do, Bruce?"

"Read your Bible!"

"Yeah, that'll help when the One World Religion Orthodoxy Squad kick down our doors."

Nyder said...

If these were better writen books, the explanation for why the YTF haven't been put in foster homes would be obvious-- the police and social services have got their hands so full with post-Event problems that they're probably rehousing the kids who are in most need and/or come to their attention first, and so a bunch of teenagers are a lower priority.

Mordecai Richler's *This Year in Jerusalem,* a personal history of Jewish Zionism (and a pretty good antidote to L&J's version of it) does mention Israeli quangoes funding some pretty whacked-out projects which relate somehow to messianic prophecy (e.g. agronomists genetically engineering a pure red heifer), so the government funding of TBJ's project isn't so much an issue, I suspect, as the fact that it actually generates any interest outside of the theological world, let alone a live TV news broadcast.

aunursa said...

How many passages are considered messianic prophecies depends on which Christian apologist you ask. Each one has a different list.

Your point about the secular Israeli government appointing a rabbi to study the messianic prophecies is one of the first on my list of a dozen reasons why Tsion ben Judah's study and ensuing broadcast are impossible. I'll post the entire list on the Slacktivist site when he reaches this point in Tribulation Force.

Regarding your point on other scriptures: in Tribulation Force, Tsion explicitly states that he studied the sacred works of ALL major religions in his search for the identity of the Messiah. Which is curious -- outside of Christianity, I'm not aware of any Gentile religion that even remotely addresses the idea of a Jewish savior.

Mouse said...

Re: Aunursa:

Hi and thanks for commenting on my blog. I apologize once again for my lack of knowledge of theology.

Regarding Tsion's study of all major religions, maybe the eastern ones don't address the idea of a Jewish Saviour, but they do have familiar motifs: a holy man, often the product of virgin birth, who comes and shows a new way and often performs miracles.

Not to mention, why would Tsion study other works in order to search for the identity of someone who is a very Jewish creation? It would be like a Hindu deciding to study the bible in search of the new avatar of Krishna or something. It just doesn't make sense.

Redwood said...

@aunursa: outside of Christianity, I'm not aware of any Gentile religion that even remotely addresses the idea of a Jewish savior.

Ba'hai - the founder of their religion is supposed to be the Messiah.

aunursa said...

Ba'hai - the founder of their religion is supposed to be the Messiah.

I didn't know that. Apparently the Baha'i founder is said to be the fulfillment of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Krishna, Zoroastrian, and Native American prophecies as well.

BeardyBeard said...

Hello everyone!

New to the comment section here, but I've been enjoying this blog along with Fred's Left Behind criticisms and Heathen Critique.

This section once more highlights the uselessness of Bruce Barnes. Again, the kids wish to be proactive, and again, he advocates doing nothing.

There is also this choice quote: "But why? If somebody doesn't stand up to Carpathia we'll all be serving the devil! I don't see why you're against this." Now, though L&J don't mean to, they highlight Rayford Steele and the GIRAT's actions too, where both of them are now working for the Antichrist, one as Nicolae's personal pilot, the other as an employee within the web of media he bought up.

Frankly, though they might be horrible characters, at least they wish to attempt something heroic rather than sitting and watching the world burn while fiddling on the sidelines.

detroitmechworks said...

Oy... How should I put this...

If EllenJay had bothered to read one or two books on Judaism WRITTEN by Jews, they would have know that the whole "Jesus is the Messiah" thing has been analyzed. Again. And Again. And Again.

He didn't fulfill the Prophecies. Honestly, the Messiah's nothing like Jesus. Ok?

And one more thing. Jewymcjewstein? He's wrong. Jews don't sit around waiting for the Messiah. I know that one's fairly obvious, but it's such a central point to Ellenjay's philosophy that it needed saying.

However, one thing that is ALMOST right. Jews love humor. There's some GREAT material in other religious texts. Honestly, the Redacto ad Absurdem argument is one of the favorites to make when arguing points of religious theory, hence questions like "Is Giraffe Kosher?" (Answer, Yes, but properly prepared it would be expensive as hell.)

Firedrake said...

I guess it's another example of projection. Premise: knowing that Jesus is the Messiah is the Most Important Thing Ever. Situation: these people are familiar with the concepts of Jesus and Messiah but don't realise they're the same thing. Result: their entire effort will be focused on finding out who the Messiah is. Because these are the special non-RTCs who have some chance of saving themselves, rather than the freethinking abortionists in comfortable shoes who make up the rest of the world.