Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile

 

Monday, March 1, 2010

 

The test of a renewed Covenant Torah

 

by Maggid ben Yoseif / credentials

2010 Jerusalem Torah Voice

 

At a meeting of a "messianic" Jerusalem Sanhedrin a debate ensued on how much of the Torah should be binding on the followers of Jesus and whether those who lived outside of the land of Israel should be circumcized.  The matter came down to the decision of Ya'acov Ha-Tzadik.

 

Ya'acov (James the Just or the brother of Jesus), after hearing Barnabas, Paul and Peter was stirred by the Great Spirit and concluded:

"Wherefore, my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:  But that we write unto them, that they abstain from defilements of idols, and porneos and pniktos and blood.  For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Shabbat.  (Acts 15:19-21)

Noting abstention from these same defilements constitutes the minimum demands to restore table fellowship with the House of Judah -- so as not to defile Judah -- Ya'acov's decree is binding on all followers of Jesus, not just the descendants of non-Jewish Israelites to whom he was sent to renew covenant.

 

The standard we shall employ to test the Torah fruits of the LDS Community seeded by Joseph Smith, does not hold it responsible for all of the Torah, only the Torah the Great Spirit advised the followers of Jesus to observe.

 

Idolatry

 

By definition of Torah sages in formulating the Halachah (the practical walking out of the commands of Torah) "departing permanently from a Torah precept" -- especially by some kind of decree eliminating, changing or substituting these commands constitutes idolatry.  For instance, decrees to not observe the Shabbat on the day that was made holy, not sanctifying each moon (month), not observing the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, no longer circumcizing sons --  all constitute forms of idolatry since this is "following after the ways of another god."  So this defilement from which all followers of Jesus are commanded to abstain, barring outright worship of idols, rests not only on the observance of the rest of the Torah but also on one's attitude toward Torah.

 

Porneos - Sexual immorality

 

The command to avoid the defilement of porneos, is much more problematic.  This defilement is closely connected -- in religious circles where the laws of marital purity are neither promoted nor taught -- with the fourth category of defilement -- abstention from contact with blood.  It also merges with the societal problems today related to sexual immorality.  Raising children with Torah precepts before they reach the age of puberty may head off many of these issues.

 

But the major Torah-understood defilement we wish to address concerns and involves married couples.  It is the Torah command of Niddah (separation during the menstrual cycle).  Observing this law, imposes and requires restraint.  Husbands and wives do not have sexual contact during the menstrual cycle and seven days afterward.  In other words, for almost half of the month, the Torah demands abstention from relations requiring couples to relate on other levels.

 

No respect for 'moons' of women

 

Without a Torah foundation for its priesthood, the LDS Church has failed to teach or promote these laws of marital purity, which are second-nature to Native Americans, who respect the moons of women.   An Osage grandmother who grew up in the traditional ways recalls a special longhouse where woman on their moon would go until a few days after their moon ended.  This is almost the identical practice of the Ethiopian "Jews" led by Kes M'nashe.  In fact the Kes, chastised the Israeli Knesset for not having such a house available for the Ethiopian immigrants.

 

Further, the practice of many Nations, including my great-grandmother's Tsa-la-gi, includes "going to water" (similar to a daily Hebrew mikveh "to purify the flesh from spiritual hindrances.")  The Torah states that any emission of semen defiles both partners and they remain unclean until having a mikveh.  Even after a mikveh, they remain unclean until the evening following the mikveh.    A religious society who fails in this area invites all manner of social problems including an increased rate of cervical cancer caused by erosion of the cervix and rampant promiscuity among divorcees.  The failure of Torah restraint in this area also leads to abusive relationships and especially abuse of women.

 

Also, another form of porneos that concerns marriage and the sanctity of marriage is described in Hebrews 13:4:  Marriage is honorable in all and the bed (Gr. koite) undefiled, but porneos and adultery, God will judge." Contextually, "coitus" is undefiled, but within the context of marriage, Grandfather "judges" other sexual behavior and adultery.

From Doctrine and Covenant 1:15:  "For they have strayed from mine ordinances (MbY: Heb. mishpatim) and have broken mine "everlasting covenant," (MbY:  Heb. brit o'lam)

 

The identity of Jesus with Torah

  

These are reportedly the words of Jesus through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Mishpatim is the section in the Torah that contains the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 22-24).  It is usually translated "ordinances."  Brit 'olam is a common expression that always refers to the Covenant established at Mount Sinai made by those of Israel then standing there and made for those of Israel not then standing there as well as for themselves.  In other words and as worded elsewhere, brit 'olam is "an everlasting covenant throughout your generations."  That the messiah will one day come to enforce the terms of this covenant  -- even with a baptism of fire and a rod of iron -- is evident:

Many will say to me in that day:  Master, master have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me ye that work ANOMIAN. (Matthew 7:22-23)

Anomian is a form of the Greek nomos with the prefix "ah", which means "without or against."  Jesus' complaint is against those who are working without something or against something.  In the Greek Septuagint, which is an early translation of the Hebrew Torah into Greek done in Alexandria, Egypt, the Greek word "nomos" is used for the Hebrew word, "Torah."

 

Extra-biblical definition of 'everlasting covenant' linked to Temple marriage

 

Jesus, the Word (Torah) made flesh, who was before Abraham (as the Word) and present (as the Word) with Creator at the time of His Creation, (as the Word) is also described metaphorically and at length in his pre-incarnate existence in Psalm 119. There the Torah is called the derek (Way), emet (Truth) and chayim (Life).

 

But the LDS Church interprets this "everlasting covenant" obligating any who would be called Israel to remember Torah, by introducing an unprecedented context:  "The new and everlasting covenant of Temple marriage," or a marriage "sealed" in an LDS Temple.  Coupled with the violation of the Torah command of Niddah as explained above, the "sex daily" attitude backed by a patriarchially controlled faith can -- I am not saying that it does -- lead to further abuses of women.  I do know of instances where spouses were fearful of divorcing abusive husbands because of the concern that they will lose their "sealing" in Temple marriage, which -- as taught -- assures them a family life with their loved ones, including the abuser in a renewed state, in the World to Come.

 

Pniktos:  Things strangled and unclean

 

The third category of "renewed covenant" Torah defilement is pniktos, translated "things strangled" in the Koine Greek of the New Testament. However, the context of these four abstentions is the Torah "taught in every synagogue on every Shabbat." Nowhere in the Torah is there a command that relates to not eating "things strangled."  Such a command  is contained in the oral traditions handed down by Moses, however.  But alternate meanings of pniktos in Classical Greek indicate it is "meat from animals or the animal itself that is not slaughtered according to the manner of the Hebrew Law."  In other words, followers of Jesus are commanded to eat only kosher animals prepared in a way that removes the blood (which contains the soul).  This would of course prohibit the eating of swine flesh which has been outlawed since Noah was told he could now eat meat after sacrificing to Grandfather one of every clean animal on an altar .  The pig, being unclean, was never sanctified on the altar and therefore remains unclean. Mormons are very careful about their diets and are definitely health-conscious people from the leadership down, however, unclean animals are eaten and even clean animals prepared in an unclean way are eaten and the church does not teach the distinctions ordered by Moses between what is "clean and unclean."

 

Spiritual well-being linked to avoiding defilements

 

The fruits of Joseph Smith's doctrine do not fair very well in avoiding the spiritual defilements, which the Holy Spirit stated would determine how "well" we do spiritually in this life:  When the four conditions are repeated in letters to followers of Jesus outside of the land of Israel, presumably all non-Jews, the letter reads:

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things ... from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well."

From this it could be concluded that spiritual well-being is tied to the observance of the Torah commands to avoid these defilements in particular.

 

Fruits did not come from Torah

 

The fruits of the LDS faith begun by Joseph Smith appear to be from a tree other than Torah.  This would be a natural result from Smith and Cowdery failing to understand the Torah context of the priesthood they allegedly received.  Doubts are entertained because the priesthood violates its context.  This does not stand well for Joseph Smith in that Torah is the standard by which every prophet to Israel is always judged.

 

The Book of Mormon also fairs poorly when compared to Torah precepts. Festivals are not mentioned -- not even the Passover by which it is impossible for the Covenant to be understood, passed on to other generations and yearly renewed.  Shabbats are not mentioned. The laws of schitah (removing the blood from an animal, which contains the soul) and salting meat are not mentioned.  The laws of marital purity are not mentioned.  The rituals of purification are not mentioned. Even the observance of Rosh Chodesh (the New Moon)  is not mentioned.  This is particularly troublesome and a major point of incongruity. Psalm 81:6 states, "This (New Moon observance) he ordained in Joseph for a testimony when he went out through the land of Egypt ..." The observance is also one of those "everlasting ordinances" ... but established by Joseph specifically.   The observance of the New Moon "sliver" has long been the custom of Native Americans and continues in many circles today. (See our article for the Equahiyi-Wasi published in the March 2010 edition of Ancient American magazine, reprinted by permission of then Cherokee Central Band Principal Chief Joe Sittingowl White).

 

KJV Christology is irrelevant to story

 

The book also does not line up with the Prophets or the messianic expectation of the Prophets.  If the book chronicles descendants of a family of Joseph who have remained in Covenant but separated from brother Joes, who were removed from Covenant, isn't Jesus -- the means to renew, restore or repair Covenant -- kind of, well, kind of ... irrelevant to the story?  Deganawida, Pahana and the other messiah figures among the Natives all came as Peacemakers, not saviors.  So why so much KJV Christology in the Book of Mormon?   If Native Americans are this family of M'nashe separated from his brothers as the Book of Mormon and LDS scholars contend, we already had a valid Covenant at Sinai never abrogated.  The failure of the Church to also understand this has led to its misguided missions and the waste of resources directed at "already covenanted Jews."

 

The late Orthodox Rabbi Abe Raich understood this.  At the United Hebrew Congregation in Pueblo, CO., he welcomed non-Jews, including Native Americans and other Joes and never tried to press anyone to convert, even though many asked this privilege of him.  He would extend to Joes such as myself the honor of making aliya (coming up) to the Torah to bless Creator  -- for one of the portions of the weekly Torah reading.  Then he would bless the oley/olah (one who ascended) with the identical blessing given to his congregants.  And no distinction was made, such as that he would continue to use to designate "converts."  Rabbi Raich recognized the Covenant never abrogated with the family of M'nashe set apart from his brothers. See the Petition to the Revised Sanhedrin, which he helped me prepare, addressing the Halachic status of Joes.

 

No sefer critut ending Covenant with lines of Lehi

If the English in the book could be trusted, this could be proved.  The omission of the Hebrew phrase sefer critut -- book of cutting (off) -- indicates the Lamanites in the book, despite numerous wars with brother Nephites remain in Covenant!  If the Lamanites are the ancestors of many Native Americans as the LDS Church teaches, this means our ceremonies, stomps, Sundances, Ghost dances, medicine lodges and our sacred herbs and medicines, sage, cedar, sweetgrass and tobacco are all of the Right Spirit, the Great Spirit Wahkan Tanka (WAH-KAN TAN-KAH) and Tunkasila  (TUN-KAH-SH'LAH) or Grandfather. Note the "Shibboleth" pronunciation of the "s" as an "sh" characteristic of a family of M'nashe.  In fact, Jesus himself gave us the Dance of Welcome (Ghost dance), which is similar to a Hebrew hora or round dance except we dance in a spiral.  (See the account of our meeting in January 2008 with LDS Historian and Council of 70 member Marlin Jensen and a Native delegation in which this Covenant status was discussed). It means that the descendants of the lowly children of the forest, are the only family of Joseph who has remained in Covenant with Creator these thousands of years. It establishes our Native spiritual sovereignty and rights to this land long before anything called "American" was here.  There are many reasons to hope this book could be true, even though it calls Natives descended from Laman a "loathsome people" and dark skin the result of a curse and not climatic pigmentation and the weathering of the sun. The "light-skin, dark-skin" contrasts found throughout the Book of Mormon betray the fear of Native American populations by the "light-skinned Europeans," when in reality the sons of Lehi would probably be as dark as the Bedouin who today live in desert climates.  The black-white analogy was one of the more disturbing parts of this book because of the seed it has planted in the sphere of racial discrimination, evidence of which also was seen and heard in Utah and Idaho.

English hides biblical, Semitic idioms, other levels of interpretation

Joseph Smith's English also does a good job of hiding biblical and Semitic idioms, remetz, drash and sod  (the three hidden levels of Torah interpretation.  These often surface in Hebrew texts with identical words and phrases from the Torah, parables and mysteries based on Apocryphal writing and gematria).

From an editing standpoint, the interpretation offered by Joseph Smith is badly flawed.  There are "holes" which anyone attempting to document a one-thousand year history of Native people would note.   Most notable is the omission of any reference to the reckoning of time by observing the phases of the moon.  We have already mentioned the failure to document the Josephite practice of observing the New (sliver) Moon, which is how Native Americans have historically counted months.  It is especially curious that Smith's book mentions the "moon" in only two places, both referring to the time of the eclipse that occurred in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified.  The Torah observance of marital purity as explained above, or observing the "moon" of women, also characteristic of Hebrews and Native Americans is also nowhere found in the Book of Mormon.  Consequently, it is omitted from the Doctrine and Covenants.

The book mentions domesticating horses, cattle, sheep and elephants. Native American historians state that none of these animals were on the North American continent until the Europeans arrived. Mastodons were here, and do figure in earlier oral history.  But Native Americans did not domesticate animals. We fence in our homes, not the animals!  Also, while the Mayan Calendar proves we had the "wheel", there were no animals available to pull the chariots mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

 

Grandmothers rule!

 

Patriarchal rule the way it is portrayed in the Book of Mormon has never been the Native way since the coming of Daganawida.  Grandmothers rule!  And the tipis belong to the women, not the men. 

 

Moses' commission was to teach the people of Israel the difference between what was "clean and unclean" and "holy and common" the certain paths to spiritual elevation.  This is a major theme, if not the major theme of the Torah.  That has not changed.  When the legitimate Aaronic priesthood, the sons of Zadok about whom Ezekiel wrote, assumes its priesthood it is charged also to teach the difference between what was "clean and unclean" and "holy and common."

 

Ephraimite-LDS may be accountable for coming curse

 

The LDS church has failed to teach, much less observe, the laws of marital purity, the rituals of purification, the Torah feasts and festivals and much more of the Torah, which is almost second nature among the Native Americans.  Joseph Smith and followers vastly misunderstood John the Baptist's second appearance, assuming he was not "conjured" by Smith.  In either case, the LDS Church is past due for a Torah-based revivalOtherwise, the Mormom church may turn out to be the largest body of believers who could have legitimately qualified as Ephraim, but who turned its back on the Torah. As such, the Mormon church may be held accountable for the curse coming on the Earth ... all for not remembering Torah.

 

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