Did the Hebrew prophecies predict the coming of Jesus?

I think many Christians believe that Christianity pre-dates Jesus’s birth, and that belief bothers some Jews for reasons articulated in the Supercessionalism video.  As I have emphasized elsewhere and will continue to stress, the prophecies in ancient Judaism were considered messages from God that helped people interpret current calamities. While these prophets might go so […]

After the 10 tribes were conquered by Assyria, many may have maintained very different traditions from the Judean Aliyah. What happened to those divisions of the nation of Israel, and are there any known remnants of those cultures?

I don’t know a lot about this, so someone may be able to correct me. There is still a Jewish community in the region referred to in the New Testament as Samaria. They accept only the Torah and not the other parts of the Tanakh.  It’s really hard to know if they have any connection […]

I’m curious about “diaspora Jews.” Besides the Elephantine group, were other Jewish communities more aware of Jewish practices, especially closer to the Promised Land?

The evidence from the text itself, which describes conflicts between the Judahite groups and another group (perhaps Samaritans) to the north, suggests that the Jerusalem group didn’t necessarily see other Torah-following groups as part of the same nation. We see this group offer to help rebuild the temple, but they are rejected. In Jesus’s time, […]

Why is individual communication with God discouraged after the exile? If individual communication with God through prophecy is discouraged, who will spread the word and teach others about God?

As always, your question is insightful and so the answers are complicated. Ezra’s attempt to “fix” the message of the bible by restricting access to God to the Torah and public prayer was an attempt to do at least three things:  Follow God’s laws to the letter so that disaster would not happen again Keep […]

We know Ezra and the second-temple Judahites bent the rules about polytheism and intermarriage. Could they have also bent the rules about the genealogical record defining your membership in the community? How about foreign wives?

It’s interesting that you speculate that Ezra’s community might not have strictly enforced the rule on documenting their inheritance and sending away foreign wives. First of all, how, really, would people have documented their genealogy? Settlers didn’t have to go all the way back to Abraham, but according to Ezra they did have to prove […]

If Ezra taught even those who didn’t know God about God, why couldn’t he teach the innocent foreign wives and children about God too, rather than sending them away?

My answer to your question is that knowledge of God was not enough to make you part of the post-exile Judahite community. I mentioned in my comment to Zac’s question that other Torah-observing groups existed, such as the group you mention in Takeaway 4 that “turned on” the Judahites. The Elephantine group considered themselves part […]

Why did the North and South divide into two kingdoms?

As you might imagine, scholars are divided about whether Israel was divided into two kingdoms, whether David and Solomon existed, and more.  The biblical explanation is that the south and north divided into a great kingdom (Israel) and a smaller Kingdom (Judah) because of Solomon’s taxing policies and his relationship to the priesthood. Internecine strife […]

Why was Aaron the one that made the golden calf? If he had been alongside Moses the whole time, and seen all that YHWH had done for them, why was he so quick to abandon YHWH and make another idol god for the Israelites and then even built an altar in front of it? Why declare a festival to YHWH the following day?

Aaron is only Moses’ brother in P, and E is the writer credited with the Golden calf story. If you’re pro-Moses and Anti-Aaron, this story could make Aaron look bad. Other versions of the story, such as the one in the Quran, blame this incident on someone else, so some think it’s an incident that […]

Why did the Israelites seem to have so little faith? As soon as Moses left them to go up they mountain they got right to work on making themselves another god to worship even after all they had seen.

I think the Israelites being faithless is part of the Deuteronomistic history that arguably starts with Exodus. In this story, which goes from Exodus to 2 Kings, the Israelites are given the law and deliberately violate it, and ONLY after centuries of giving second chances does God decide to smite the Israelites with Babylon. This […]

What does it mean when “Pharaoh’s heart was heavy?” Does that mean it was filled with remorse or was made more stubborn?

The word used when God makes Pharaoh’s heart “heavy” is chazak. This word also means courageous, strong, obstinate, hard, etc. For example, when Jews finish reading the Torah, they should say Chazak or “strength.” This word usually describes God’s power; there are other words like chabad or chesed that describe God’s glory and his love […]