Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile
23 Kislev 5758 (December 22, 1997)

Are Messianic

Jews, Jews?

Reinterpreting the reNEWed COVENANT

to Apply to the Assimilation Only

Technically, (which is to say biblically), the "Messianic Jewish Community" cannot be considered "Jewish," but this community definitely IS part of the House of Israel and should be recognized as such … under the leadership and authority of the HOUSE OF JOSEPH in turn recognized by the authority of Jerusalem.

Any group of people "in Messiah," cannot be called Jewish, according to the very document that validates their calling themselves "Messianics." As HaRav Shaul (if he may be called that), stated it in the "reNEWed" TESTAMENT in his address to the Galatians:

Gal 3:26-29

26            For ye are all the children of God by faith in Messiah Y’shua.

27            For as many of you as have been baptized into the Messiah  have put on Messiah.

28            There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Messiah Y’shua.

29            And if ye be Messiah’s, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Those who enter into the reNEWed Covenant through Messiah technically (which again is to say biblically) surrender their identity as "Jews" but remain children of Abraham. Also technically, (which again is to say biblically), this would not apply to the Orthodox Jewish Community who would remain "outside of Messiah Y’shua," nor would it affect their covenant with Hashem … so long as they (the Jewish Community who remains Orthodox), remain faithful to the Torah, perpetuate the covenant of circumcision and do not intermarry or assimilate.

I believe that Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 31:27-34 technically (which is biblically) classifies the descendants of these former "Jews" as part of the House of Israel and the two sticks (tablets) of Ezekiel 37:16-19, classify the "House of Israel" under the authority of "Joseph, the stick of Ephraim" and NOT under the stick of Judah and the "children of Israel" together with him. If this is the scenario Hashem has in mind, then setting up a rival scenario and a "third stick" of quote unquote Messianic Jews can become problematic for both the stick of Joseph Ephraim and the stick of (Orthodox) Judah.

Also, the distinction of these two sticks is important because it could offer the TRUE House of Judah, the non-assimilated, Torah observant Jewish community who are not a part of the reNEWed Covenant, a means of reconciling with the "Messianics," for lack of a better word to call them. And while it seems unlikely now, in time this distinction could result in extending to the "Messianics" who first return fully to the Torah, legitimacy in Eretz Yisrael. Possibly, they could even become the outreach of Orthodox Judaism with a "Gospel" true to the Torah and Isaiah 49:5-7, which the secular Jewish community -- outside of Messiah -- desperately needs. SEE our exegesis of Isaiah 49.

But positions on both sides of the issue need to re-evaluate the role and limitations of the covenant renewal in the context it was FIRST presented by Y'shua: the "third cup" of the Pesah seder (Exodus 6:7: "I shall TAKE YOU TO ME for a people and I shall be a G-d to you and you shall know that I am Hashem your G-d.)  See The Four Cups of Pesah Seder:  How They Can Reconcile Orthodox Jews and Joes. In other words, Y'shua's personal involvement in establishing the covenant promised in Isaiah 49:8 was limited to re-linking the Assimilation with Hashem.  He did not depart from convention re: the first or second cups of the seder, the cups of rescue and redemption.  This means Hashem rescues and Hashem redeems but Y'shua as an embodiment of the Torah is the means Hashem takes the Assimilation again "to be a people."

In other words, Orthodox Jews and Messianics should find a common ground in Torah observance, the former because it has always been and the latter because they are returning AGAIN to be a people united with all of Israel.

There need be no division between this branch of the House of Israel (the Messianics) and the House of Judah (the Torah observant Orthodox) so long as the Messianics themselves embrace Torah.

But it is one thing to state these ideas and quite another to back them up in Scripture. So, let us re-examine Jeremiah 31 verse by verse

Jer 31:1-30

1              At the same time, saith Hashem, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.

2              Thus saith Hashem, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.

3              Hashem hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

4              Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

5              Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.

6              For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto Hashem our God.

  1. For thus saith Hashem; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.

The theme is obviously Hashem’s desire to be G-d of all the familes of Israel, as reflected in the first verse. Verses 5-6 make it clear that Hashem also includes the remnant of the Northern Kingdom, who should dwell again in their inheritance (elsewhere we have written about this biblical alternative to a Palestinian state in the same regions).

8.    Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.

9.    They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Verse 8 continues the theme again referring to Ephraim here even in a predominant role.

10            Hear the word of Hashem, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.

11            For Hashem hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.

12            Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of Hashem, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.

13            Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.

  1. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith Hashem.

Verse 14 may even relate to the restoration of the Levitical priesthood and the Temple. But the following verses clearly are exclusive to the House of Joseph (the children of Rachel, not Leah)

15            Thus saith Hashem; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

16            Thus saith Hashem; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith Hashem; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.

17            And there is hope in thine end, saith Hashem, that thy children shall come again to their own border.

18            I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art Hashem my God.

19            Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.

  1. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith Hashem.

I believe these verses indicate Ephraim’s return to Hashem, Torah and Eretz Yisrael. Since Ephraim will return to his own territories, this again presents the biblical alternative to a Palestinian state sought in the same region.

21            Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.

22            How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for Hashem hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.

23            Thus saith Hashem of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; Hashem bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.

24            And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.

25            For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.

26.        Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.

Jeremiah’s first dream/vision ends on a note of peace with ALL of Israel returned to its possessions. But it is important to note that Ephraim is referred to specifically throughout this dream IN MASCULINE TERMS.  Verse 22 refers to a backslidden DAUGHTER, which contextually cannot be Ephraim.  Rather the context suggests that the daughter is attempting to HOLD BACK Ephraim by compassing him about.

We submit the Hashem is here chiding the daughter for doing something He never had in His mind at the time of Creation should be done! The word "to Create" is BARA, which is RARELY associated with any activity other than the six days of Creation and is never attributed to any other than Hashem.  Obviously Hashem did not create Eve to compass Adam!

The speech heard in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when Hashem again brings about the Return of Ephraim is that Ephraim is a habitation of justice (mishpat) and a mountain of holiness.  This parallels Isaiah 26:1-2, where all of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah open the gates to Ephraim, called a guer tzedek shomer emunah (righteous nation and keeper of the faith).

  1. Behold, the days come, saith Hashem, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.

It is important to note that verse 27 is a DIFFERENT word (prophecy) than verses 1-26 and speaks of an ASSIMILATION of parts of both Israel and Judah. It is this ASSIMILATION of the House of Israel and the House of Judah, which establishes the context for the RENEWAL of COVENANT in verses 31-33 below.

28            And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith Hashem.

29            In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge.

30            But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

If 28-30 foretell the renewal of covenant about to be described, then under the terms of this covenant, Hashem stresses individual responsibility for observing the Torah

  1. Behold, the days come, saith Hashem, that I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah:

The Hebrew for "new" covenant is notably BRIT HADASHAH, the usual Hebrew for "New Testament" but the verb HADASH means to "renew, repair or restore." The context relating to the regathering and not a totally NEW thing, clearly makes RENEWED covenant preferable.

  1. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith Hashem:

Here, I believe Hashem is clarifying that the House of Israel and House of Judah with whom He will make this "renewed" covenant was ASSIMILATED because they broke the first covenant which He had given them at Sinai, even though Hashem remained faithful to the terms of the covenant, Himself.

  1. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel; After those days, saith Hashem, I will put My Torah in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Note that verse 33 omits mention of the House of Judah who was clearly referred to in verse 31!! How should we understand this? I can think of three possibilities:

1)  Verse 31 refers to not an ASSIMILATION of the House of Judah but all of JUDAH, observant or otherwise, who remains apart from the House of Israel and has a DIFFERENT covenant – other than the TORAH in their hearts (which is not a viable possibility) than the House of Israel.

2) The ASSIMILATED House of Judah referred to in verse 31 is now included in the House of Israel and Hashem maintains a distinction between the non-assimilated Torah observant Orthodox House of Judah and "Messianics" who are no longer under the banner of Judah but rather the banner of Israel but who are equally commanded to observe the Torah.

3) Hashem is drawing special emphasis to the prophecy of Hosea 1-2 contextually relating this "RENEWED" covenant to the Northern Kingdom. But remember that Hosea 1:7 exempts the House of Judah from the terms of the KORET (cutting off) from Hashem’s mercy. Also the prophecies about Y’shua before his birth and at his infancy clearly indicate his reconcilation of the terms of KORET in Hosea 1 by remedying the judgments of Yizra’el (Jezreel), Lo-ruhamah (without mercy) and Lo-ami (not my people).

It seems clear that either the second or third possibility exclude the TORAH-OBSERVANT ORTHODOX JEWISH COMMUNITY (who has never intermarried or assimilated) from the classification HOUSE OF ISRAEL and limits the HOUSE OF ISRAEL to Messianics and non-Jewish Zionists.

  1. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know Hashem: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Hashem: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

It was Hashem’s remembrance of their sin in the first place – their departure from the Torah that separated these ancestors of the Messianics from His covenant.

35.    Thus saith Hashem, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; Hashem of hosts is his name:

36.    If those ordinances depart from before me, saith Hashem, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

This makes it doubly clear that the Torah remains binding on all of the House of Israel and the House of Judah, even those of the Assimilation who are returning to Hashem.

37    Thus saith Hashem; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith Hashem.

  1. Behold, the days come, saith Hashem, that the city shall be built to Hashem from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.

This is the same portion of the wall of Jerusalem that was destroyed in the civil war between the Houses of Israel and Judah (on the western side of the city). Its rebuilding refers to a resolution of the enmity and vexation between the two Houses.

39            And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.

40            And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto Hashem; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.

It bears repeating that the descendants of the Assimilated House of Judah do not come under the banner of the House of Judah technically (biblically) but are included among the House of Israel … again under the authority and leadership of the House of Joseph, according to Ezekiel 37. On the other hand, the Orthodox, Torah observant Jewish community, (who do not appear to be included in the ranks of the Assimilated) would NOT be a part of this covenant renewal, the Torah already written on their hearts.

Maggid ben Yosef