JESUS IN THE TALMUD: WHAT THE ANCIENT RABBIS SAID ABOUT JESUS THAT MADE THE JEWS REJECT HIM AS THEIR MESSIAH
THE LIFE OF CHRIST/THE CHRISTIAN CROSS The Talmud teaches that Jesus Christ was illegitimate and was conceived during menstruation; that he had the soul of Esau; that he was a fool, a conjurer, a seducer; that he was crucified, buried in hell and set up as an idol ever since by his followers.
1. ILLEGITIMATE AND CONCEIVED DURING MENSTRUATION
The following is narrated in the Tract Kallah, 1b:
“Once when the Elders were seated at the Gate, two young men passed by, one of whom had his head covered, the other with his head bare. Rabbi Eliezer remarked that the one in his bare head was illegitimate, a mamzer. Rabbi Jehoschua said that he was conceived during menstruation, ben niddah. Rabbi Akibah, however, said that he was both. Whereupon the others asked Rabbi Akibah why he dared to contradict his colleagues. He answered that he could prove what he said. He went therefore to the boy’s mother whom he saw sitting in the market place selling vegetables and said to her: ‘My daughter, if you will answer truthfully what I am going to ask you, I promise that you will be saved in the next life.’ She demanded that he would swear to keep his promise, and Rabbi Akibah did so—but with his lips only, for in his heart he invalidated his oath. Then he said: ‘Tell me, what kind of son is this of yours’? To which she replied: ‘The day I was married I was having menstruation, and because of this my husband left me. But an evil spirit came and slept with me and from this intercourse my son was born to me.’ Thus it was proved that this young man was not only illegitimate but also conceived during the menstruation of his mother. And when his questioners heard this they declared: ‘Great indeed was Rabbi Akibah when he corrected his Elders’! And they exclaimed: ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel who revealed his secret to Rabbi Akibah the son of Joseph’ “!
That the Jews understand this story to refer to Jesus and his mother, Mary, is clearly demonstrated in their book Toldath Jeschu—’The Generations of Jesus’—where the birth of our Savior is narrated in almost the same words.(4)
(4) cf. Synag. Jud. Chap. VIII, p. 133.
Another story of this kind is narrated in Sanhedrin, 67a:
“Of all who are guilty of death by the Law, he alone(5) is caught by a ruse. How is it done? They light a candle in an inner room and place witnesses in an adjoining room outside where they can see him and hear his voice, but where they cannot be seen by him. Then the one whom he tried to seduce says to him ‘Please repeat here privately what you told me before.’ If the seducer repeats what he said, the others ask him ‘But how shall we leave our God who is in heaven and serve idols?’ If the seducer repents, then all is well. But if he says ‘This is our duty and it is right for us to do so,’ then the witnesses outside, who have heard him, bring him before the judge and stone him to death. This is what they did to the son of Stada in Lud, and they hanged him on the eve of the Passover. For this son of Stada was the son of Pandira. For Rabbi Chasda tells us that Pandira was the husband(6) of Stada, his mother, and he lived during the time Paphus the son of Jehuda. But his mother was stada, Mary of Magdala (a ladies’ hairdresser) who, as it is said in Pumbadita, deserted her husband.”
(5) namely, a seducer, who tries to seduce another to worship an idol and to join a false religion.
(6) A marginal note says this son of Stada was called after his father, not his mother, although he was illegitimate.
The meaning of this is that his Mary was called Stada, that is, a prostitute, because, according to what was taught at Pumbadita, she left her husband and commited adultery. This is also recorded in the Jerusalem Talmud(7) and by Maimonides.(7)
(7) cf. Sanhedrin, chap. VII near the end, and Iebhammoth, the last chap.
That the mention here is of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is verified in the Tract Chagigah, 4b:
“When Rabbi Bibhai was visited once by the Death Angel (the devil), the latter said to his assistant: ‘Go and bring to me Mary the hairdresser’ (that is, kill her). He went and brought Mary the children’s hairdresser—in place of the other Mary.”
A marginal note explains this passage as follows:
“This story of Mary the Ladies’ hairdresser happened under the Second Temple. She was the mother of Peloni, ‘that man,’ as he is called in the tract Schabbath,” (fol. 104b).
In Schabbath the passage referred to says:
“Rabbi Eliezer said to the Elders: ‘Did not the son of Stada practice Egyptian magic by cutting it into his flesh?’ They replied: ‘He was a fool, and we do not pay attention to what fools do. The son of Stada, Pandira’s son, etc.’ ” as above in Sanhedrin, 67a.
This magic of the son of Stada is explained as follows in the book Beth Jacobh, fol. 127 a:
“The Magi, before they left Egypt, took special care not to put their magic in writing lest other peoples might come to learn it. But he devised a new way by which he inscribed it on his skin, or made cuts in his skin and inserted it there and which, when the wounds healed up, did not show what they meant.”(8)
(8) This is treated at greater length in the book Toldath Jeschu, where it speaks of Jesus as a conjurer, as we shall see further on. It is also mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud in chap. 12.
“There is little doubt who this Ben Stada was, or who the Jews understood him to be. Although the Rabbis in their additions to the Talmud try to hide their malice and say that it is not Jesus Christ, their deceit is plainly evident, and many things prove that they wrote and understood all these things about him. In the first place, they also call him the son of Pandira. Jesus the Nazarene is thus called in other passages(10) of the Talmud where express mention is made of Jesus the son of Pandira. St. John Damascene(11) also, in his Genealogy of Christ, mentions Panthera and the Son of Panthera.
“Secondly, this Stada is said to be Mary, and this Mary the mother of Peloni ‘that certain one,’ by which without doubt Jesus is meant. For in this way they were accustomed to cover up his name because they were afraid to mention it. If we had copies of the original manuscripts they would certainly prove this. And this also was the name of the mother of Jesus the Nazarene.
“Thirdly, he is called the Seducer of the People. The Gospels(12) testify that Jesus was called this by the Jews, and their writings to this day are proof that they still call him by this name.
“Fourthly, he is called ‘the one who was hanged,’ which clearly refers to the crucifixion of Christ, especially since a reference to the time ‘on the eve of the Passover’ is added, which coincides with the time of the crucifixion of Jesus. In Sanhedrin (43a) they wrote as follows:
‘”On the eve of the Passover they hanged Jesus’
“Fifthly, as to what the Jerusalem Talmud says about the two disciples of the Elders who were sent as witnesses to spy on him, and who were afterwards brought forward as witnesses against him: This refers to the two “false witnesses” of whom the Evangelists Matthew(14) and Luke(15) make mention.
“Sixthly, concerning what they say about the son of Stada that he practiced Egyptian magical arts by cutting into his flesh: the same accusation is made against Christ in their hostile book Toldoth Jeschu.
“Lastly, the time corresponds. For it is said that this son of Stada lived in the days of Paphus the son of Jehuda, who was a contemporary of Rabbi Akibah. Akibah, however, lived at the time of the Ascension of Christ, and for some time after. Mary is also said to have lived under the Second Temple. All this clearly proves that they secretly and blasphemously understand this son of Stada to be Jesus Christ the son of Mary.
“Other circumstances may seem to contradict this. But that is nothing new in Jewish writings and is done on purpose so that Christians may not easily detect their trickery.”(16)
(9) cf. Lexicon. Jud. in verbo Jeschu.
(10) cf. The Jerusalem Talmud, Abhodah Zarah, ch. II, and Schabbath, ch. XIV, Beth Jacobh, 127a.
(11) Lib. 4
(12) cf. Matt. XXVII, 63
(13) cf. Sanhedrin, 107b
(14) Ch. XXVI, 60-61
(15) Ch. XX, 5
(16) There are Jews who themselves confess to this. For instance, in the book Sepher Juchasin (9b): “The Rabbis have always deceived the Nazarenes by saying that the Jesus of whom the Talmud speaks is not the Jesus Christ of the Christians. They permit themselves this falsehood for the sake of peace” in Rohling, Die Polemik und das Menschenopfer des Rabbinismus, ut supra.
2. Furthermore, “In the secret books, which are not permitted to fall easily into the hands of Christians, they say that the soul of Esau came into Christ, that he was therefore evil and that he was Esau himself.”(17)
(17) Synag. Judaica, p. 217; cf. also Buxtorf, Lexicon in verbo Jeschu.
3. By some he is called a FOOL and INSANE
In Schabbath, 104b:
“They, [the Elders] said to him [Eliezer]: ‘He was a fool, and no one pays attention to fools.’
4. A CONJURER AND A MAGICIAN
In the infamous book Toldoth Jeschu, our Savior is blasphemed as follows:
“And Jesus said: Did not Isaiah and David, my ancestors, prophesy about me? The Lord said to me, thou art my son, today I have begotten thee,(18) etc. Likewise in another place: The Lord said to my Lord, sit thou at my right hand(19). Now I ascend to my father who is in heaven and will sit at his right hand, which you will see with your own eyes. But you, Judas, will never reach that high(20). Then Jesus pronounced the great name of God (IHVH) and continued to do so until a wind came and took him up between earth and sky. Judas also pronounced the name of God and he likewise was taken up by the wind. In this way they both floated around in the air to the amazement of the onlookers. Then Judas, again pronouncing the Divine Name, took hold of Jesus and pushed him down to earth. But Jesus tried to do the same to Judas and thus they fought together. And when Judas saw he could not win out over the works of Jesus he pissed on Jesus, and both thus being unclean they fell to earth; nor could they use the Divine name again until they had washed themselves.”
(18) Ps. II, 7.
(19) Ps. CX, 1.
(20) For it is related that Judas was a competitor of Jesus in the working of miracles.
Whether those who believe such devilish lies deserve greater hatred or pity, I cannot say.(21)
(21) Wagenseil, Sota, p. 1049
In another place in the same book it is related that in the house of the Sanctuary there was a stone which the Patriarch Jacob anointed with oil.(22) On this stone were carved the tetragrammatic letters of the Name (IHVH),(23) and if anyone could learn them he could destroy the world. They therefore decreed that no one must learn them, and they placed two dogs upon two iron columns before the Sanctuary so that if anyone should learn them the dogs would bark at him coming out and he would forget the letters through fear. Then it is related: “Jesus came and entered, learned the letters and wrote them down on parchment. Then he cut into the flesh of his thigh and inserted them there, and having pronounced the name, the wound healed.”(24)
(22) cf. Genesis, XXVIII
(23) No one knows how this august name of God is to be read. It is certain, however, that it was not pronounced Jehovah, although it is thus commonly pronounced. For the vowels of this tetragrammatum are the vowels of the name Adonai, and it is thus that the Jews read IHVH. Out of reverence, however, it is never written in their books, with the exception of Sacred Scripture, but only indicated by “, or Haschem, the name.
(24) Buxtorf. Lexicon
In the Tract Sanhedrin (103a) the words of Psalm XCI, 10: ‘No plague shall come near thy dwelling,’ are explained as follows:
“That thou mayest never have a son or a disciple who will salt his food so much that he destroys his taste in public, like Jesus the Nazarene.”
To salt one’s food too much or to destroy one’s taste, is proverbially said of one who corrupts his morals or dishonors himself, or who falls into heresy and idolatry and openly preaches it to others.
In the same book Sanhedrin (107b) we read:
“Mar said: Jesus seduced, corrupted and destroyed Israel.”
Finally as punishment for his crimes and impiety, he suffered an ignominious death by being hanged on a cross on the eve of the Passover (as we have seen above).
8. BURIED IN HELL
The book Zohar, III, (282), tells us that Jesus died like a beast and was buried in that “dirt heap…where they throw the dead bodies of dogs and asses, and where the sons of Esau [the Christians] and of Ismael [the Turks], also Jesus and Mahommed, uncircumcized and unclean like dead dogs, are buried.”(25)
(25) In the book Synag. Judaica, (Ch. III, p. 75) is the following: ‘He who cuts himself off [namely, who does not believe blindly in the Rabbinical teachings] will suffer the tortures of the damned, as is decreed in the Talmudic law of punishment in the Tract de Repudiis (Gitt. c5): He who despises the words of the wise men shall be cast into the dirt heap with the damned.” I shudder to repeat that they blasphemously narrate that our Saviour Jesus Christ, whose name be forever blessed, suffered this penalty by being cast into Gehenna, although it is contrary to the traditions and teaching of the Fathers of the Church…
9. WORSHIPPED AS GOD AFTER HIS DEATH BY HIS FOLLOWERS
George El. Edzard, in his book Avoda Sara, quotes the following words of the commentator on the Hilkoth Akum (V,3) of Maimonides:
“In many passages of the Talmud mention is made of Jesus the Nazarene and of his disciples, and that the Gentiles believe that there is no other God besides him. In the book Chizzuk Emunah,(26) part I, ch. 36, we read: ‘The Christians build up an argument from this [Zachary XII, 10] and say: Behold how the Prophet testified that in future ages the Jews would lament and weep because they crucified and killed the Messiah who was sent to them; and to prove that he meant Jesus the Nazarene, possessing both the divine and human nature, they quote the words: And they looked upon him whom they transfixed and they wept over him as a mother over her first born child.’ ”
(26) cf. Wagens, Sota, p. 69
Maimonides attempts to prove how much Christians err in worshipping Jesus in his book Hilkoth Melakhim (IX, 4):(27)
“If all the things he did had prospered, if he had rebuilt the Sanctuary in its place, and had gathered together the dispersed tribes of Israel, then he would certainly be the Messiah…But if so far he has not done so and if he was killed, then it is clear he was not the Messiah whom the Law tells us to expect. He was similar to all the good and upright rulers of the House of David who died, and whom the Holy and Blessed Lord raised up for no other reason but to prove to many, as it is said (in Dan. XI, 35): And some of them who understand shall fall, to try and to purge them and to make them white, even till the end of time, because the appointed time is not yet. Daniel also prophesised about Jesus the Nazarene who thought he was the Christ, and who was put to death by the judgment of the Senate: (Dan. V.14): …and the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fail. What could be plainer? For all the Prophets said that the Christ would set Israel free, would bring it salvation, restore its dispersed peoples and confirm their laws. But he was the cause of the destruction of Israel and caused the rest of them to be dispersed and humiliated, so that the Law was changed and the greater part of the world was seduced to worship another God. Truly no one can understand the designs of the Creator, nor are his ways our ways. For all that has been built up by Jesus the Nazarene, and by the Turks who came after him, tend only to prepare the way for the coming of Christ the King, and to prepare the whole world equally for the service of the Lord, as it is said: For then I shall give a clean mouth to all peoples that all may call upon the name of the Lord, and bow down in unison before him.(28) How is this being accomplished? Already the whole world is filled with the praise of Christ, the Law and the Commandments, and his praises have spread to far distant lands and to peoples whose hearts and bodies are uncircumcized. These discuss with one another about the Law that was destroyed—some saying that the commandments were once true, but have ceased to exist; others that there is a great mystery about it, that the Messiah-King has come and that their doctrine has revealed it. But when the Christ truly comes and is successful, and is raised up and exalted, then everything will be changed and these things will be shown to be false and vain.”
(27) Ibidem, p. 346
(28) Sophon, III, 9
10. AN IDOL
In the Tract Abhodah Zarah, (21a Toseph), we read:
“It is of importance to inquire the reasons why men nowadays even sell and rent their houses to Gentiles. Some say this is legal because it is said in Tosephta: No one shall rent his house to a gentile either here [in the land of Israel] or elsewhere because it is known that he will bring an idol into it. It is nevertheless allowed to rent them stables, barns and lodging houses, even though it is known that they will bring idols into them. The reason is because a distinction can be made between a place into which an idol will be carried in order to leave it there permanently, and a place where it will not be left permanently, in which case it is allowed. And since the gentiles, among whom we now live, do not bring their idol into their homes to leave it there permanently, but only for a time—while someone is dead in the house or when someone is dying, nor do they even perform any religious rites there—it is therefore permitted to sell and rent them houses.”
Rabbi Ascher, in his Commentary on Abhodah Zarah (83d) speaks not less clearly on this matter:
“Today it is permitted to rent houses to Gentiles because they bring their idol into them only for a time, when somebody is sick.” And in the same place he says ‘Today they have a practice of incensing their idol.’ “
All this, and much more like it, proves beyond a doubt that when the Rabbis speak of the idols of the Gentiles among whom they lived at that time, when no idols were worshipped, they clearly meant the Christian “idol,” namely, the image of Christ on the crucifix and the Holy Communion.
NOTE ABOUT THE CROSS
In Jewish writings there is no directly corresponding word for the Christian Cross. The cross T on which those condemned to death were crucified, was called Tau by the Phoenicians and the Hebrews, and this name and sign for it was afterwards taken over into the alphabet of the Jews and of the Greeks and the Romans. The Cross honored by the Christians, however, is called by the following names:
1. Tsurath Haattalui—the image who was hanged.(29)
2. Elil—vanity, idol.
3. Tselem—image. Hence the Crusaders in Jewish books are called Tsalmerim (ein Tsalmer)
4. Scheti Veerebh—warp and woof, which is taken from the textile art.
5. Kokhabh—star; on account of the four rays emanating from it.
6. Pesila—a sculpture, a carven idol.
(29) Aben Ezra in Genes. XXVII, 39
But wherever it is mentioned it is always in the sense of an idol or of something despicable, as can be seen from the following quotations:
In Orach Chaiim, 113,8:
“If a Jew when praying should meet a Christian [Akum] carrying a star [a crucifix] in his hand, even if he has come to a place in his prayer where it is necessary to bow down to worship God in his heart, he must not do so lest he should seem to bow down before an image.”
In Iore Dea, 150,2:
“Even if a Jew should get a splinter in his foot in front of an idol, or if he should drop his money before it, he must not stoop down to remove the splinter or to gather up his money lest he should seem to adore it. But he should either sit down or turn his back or his side to the idol and then remove the splinter.”
But whenever it is not possible for a Jew to turn away like this, the following rule must be observed (in Iore Dea, 3, Hagah):
“It is not permitted to bow down or to remove one’s hat before princes or priests who wear a cross on their dress, as is their custom. Care must be taken, however, not to be noticed in failing to do so. For instance, one can throw some coins on the ground and stoop down to pick them up before they pass by. In this way it is permitted to bow down or to remove one’s hat before them.”
A distinction is also made between a cross which is venerated and a cross which is worn around the neck as a souvenir or as an ornament. The former is to be regarded as an idol, but not necessarily the latter. In Iore Dea, 141, 1, Hagah, it says:
“The image of a cross, before which they bow down, is to be treated as an idol, and it is not to be used until it is destroyed. However, a ‘warp and woof’ if hung around the neck as a souvenir is not to be regarded as an idol and can be used.”
The sign of the cross made with the hand, by which Christians are wont to bless themselves, is called in Jewish “the moving of the fingers here and there” (hinc et hinc).(30)