Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile

8 Sivan 5766 / June 4, 2006

 

The Remarriage

of God and Israel

 

More than a year has passed since MbY published online his '05 Thesis disputing both the deity of Jesus and the notion that Jesus bucked the authority of the Sanhedrin and Halachah. While there have been no takers to debate The Disputations by the rules MbY has stipulated, a vocal teacher from South Carolina poses this challenge:

 

Will God's relationship with Israel in the future be as ishi (her husband) as stated in Hosea 2:18? If so, how can He re-marry, without contradicing Halachah, the harlot wife he earlier put away?  Also, as it pertains to non-Jews, can the "son of God" stand in the place of God in this union?

 

 

MbY:

 

At issue is whether the bill of divorce given by God to the non-Jewish Northern Tribes of the House of Israel forbids God from taking Israel back to Himself.  Does God abide by the same Halachah which He commands of Israel? The Halachah that governs the conduct of Israel strictly forbids a man to take back a woman to whom he was betrothed, if she has played the harlot since their betrothal or, since divorced, married another man.

 

As a means to circumvent this dilemma, I had proposed that while God could not Himself take Israel back in the same kind of relationship without contradicting Halachah, that one -- especially a tzaddik -- who would be "called the son of God," (as it is worded in the reNewed Testament) might not be forbidden by Halachah from taking Israel as his "bride." It seemed logical that Jesus' claims to "son of God" and the Church's claimed relationship as "bride of messiah" should be examined in this light -- the light of Halachah -- and perhaps much of the needless dissension and division between Jews and Christians could be reconciled.

 

We have precedent in the Torah for a marriage consummated by a father-in-law.  But after the twins of Judah and Tamar were conceived, Judah did not have relations with his daughter-in-law again. Some have believed this a levirate marriage to provide sons for the name of Tamar's two deceased husbands, who were Judah's older two sons.  But the fact that the twins were not named after either, and neither wanted progeny, dispells that notion.

 

It appears that Hashem was instituting something new and different, giving Judah another chance for progeny after his two wicked sons from a Canaanite woman had died without giving him grandsons.  But note that Judah was not intimate with Tamar  following consummation of Tamar's twins.

 

Now to the concern voiced and it is a good one:

Hosea 2:17-18 reads:  "And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.  And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, you shall say Ishi (my husband) and shalt say unto me no more Ba'ali (my Ba'al -- a pagan god -- or my master).

Clearly here the Lord is called a husband to Israel at that day. Pagan gods have been her past lovers. The relationship between God and Israel changes.

 

The very issue of whether God abides by the same Halachah as man is raised in Jeremiah 3:1:

"They say, if a man put away a wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? Shall not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many re'im (lovers); yet (you) return again to me, saith the LORD." 

Jeremiah continues to remind wayward Israel of her sins and the judgments that have affected the land, yet Israel refused to be ashamed.

"Wilt thou from this time cry unto me, 'My Father, you are the aluf (another word for lord or master) of my youth,' (Jeremiah 3:4)

Again, a change in the nature of the relationship occurs, from "master" to "Father." The prophet Jeremiah then reminds Israel that her sins have affected her sister, Judah.   First Israel was warned but did not repent. Then, to protect Judah from Israel's idolatry:

"And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a sefer critut (bill of divorce, lit. book of cutting off); yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. (Jeremiah 3:8)

In fact, Judah's sins were worse than Israel's but God had made a promise to David that the House of Judah would eternally qualify for His mercy.  Judah was exiled, repented and returned 70 years later on cue to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and re-establish the Temple economy.

"Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, "Return you backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful saith the Lord and I will not keep anger for ever.  Only acknowledge your iniquity that you have transgressed against the Lord your God and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice, saith the Lord.  Turn O backsliding children, saith the Lord, for I, ba'alti (I am married) by means of you:" (Jeremiah 3:12-14)

Jeremiah proceeds to outline the benefits of returning to Hashem. Jerusalem would be the throne of the Lord where all nations would gather and Halachah (the way the people walk) will no longer be after the imaginations in their hearts.

In those days, the House of Judah shall have a Halachah (a way to walk) with the House of Israel and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.  (Jeremiah 3:18)

This implies a Jubilee in which ancestral inheritances are restored, but see the problem with existing Halachah as currently interpreted.

 

Next, God asks a question which calls to mind his dilemma in Jeremiah 3:1:

But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? (Jeremiah 3:19a)

And then God gives the answer.  He will change the nature of his relationship with Israel.

"You shall call me, My Father, and shall not turn away from me. Surely as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with me, O House of Israel, saith the LORD.  (Jeremiah 3:19b-20

In Hosea 3:1-5, which follows the passage in question, with the transition device vayomer (beginning with a conjunction linking the previous passage), Hosea writes:

Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her re'ah (used of a desired lover above in Jeremiah 3:1), and an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine. (Hosea 3:1)

Hosea next describes that this woman, indeed an adulteress is bought by the prophet for 15 pieces of silver, a homer and a half of barley. Most commentators believe this was Gomer, who he was earlier directed to marry. But once she played the harlot, Hosea was, according to Halachah, forbidden to take her back ... as his wife. But this does not forbid a "platonic" relationship between the two.

And I said unto her, You shall abide for me many days; you shall not play the harlot and you shall not be for a man; and also I to you. (Hosea 3:3)

The literal Hebrew reads as though both Hosea and his whoring wife, Gomer, who Hosea bought back from her lover, were to live together in the same manner Judah lived with Tamar, without intimacy. When Judah earlier had encountered Tamar who was playing like a harlot, he did not know who she was. After she had given birth to his grandsons, had he "known" her again, this would be presumed to be sin. But his relationship to her was that of a platonic Father-Husband.

 

The remainder of the prophecy of Hosea 3 links this "example" relationship between Hosea and Gomer to the relationship between God and Israel.  In other words, the question raised in Hosea 2:18-19 is resolved with the example of a "platonic marital relationship," the precedent set between Judah and Tamar.

 

This seemed a little far-fetched to me until I found support for the idea in Elizabeth Achtemeier's NIV Bible commentary.  Ms. Achtemeier writes:

"I will live with you."  In the Hebrew, the last line reads, "And even I to you." That is, just as Gomer must be celibate, so also Hosea will be to her.

If God's relationship as clarified above is that of FATHER and platonic husband, there is no problem with Jesus/Y'shua acting as the bridegroom and the Assimilated House of Israel as his bride. That analogy does not violate any Halachah relating to forbidden relationships or marriage laws.

 

Maggid ben Yoseif 

As many are astonished concerning you thus: "an outline from a man!" ... "his features mirror the sons of Adam!" Thus he shall startle many nations. Concerning him, kings (rulers) shall shut their mouths because that which was not told to them they shall see and that they had not heard they shall meditate to themselves.
 

Radio interviews with Maggid ben Yoseif, on Torah To The Nations with David Mathews, Hebrew Nation Radio Network.

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