WE BELIEVE:

CONCERNING ISRAEL

ADDENDA I:

ARTICLE I. THE GENTILE "JEWS" OF
ESTHER 8:17
ARTICLE II. WHERE ARE THE PROMISED
PROMISED-LAND BLESSINGS?

by Norman Manzon

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INTRODUCTION

The burden of these studies is to provide scriptural support for the claims in our doctrinal statement and respond to contrary claims. In that regard, our series on Israel can be considered finished, but there are a few items I'd like to add to round things out. In this Shofar we'll consider the Gentile "Jews" of Esther 8:17, and the question, "Where are the promised Promised Land blessings?" In our next Shofar, we'll consider the doctrine of the Faithful Remnant of Israel, and then move on to our next AMC statement.

ARTICLE I. THE GENTILE "JEWS" OF ESTHER 8:17

And many among the peoples of the land became Jews. (NAS, Esther 8:17)

In our Shofar 21 study, "Who Is Israel? Who Are the Jews?" I made the statement, "A Jew is a member of the nation of Israel, and 'the Jews,' used in its broadest biblical sense, is identical to the nation of Israel." In other places in this series I made similar statements. Yet, there is one instance where proselytes (Gentile converts to Judaism) are called Jews in most translations, including many very good translations, such as the New American Standard: And many among the peoples of the land became Jews. . . (Esther 8:17). The same is also true of commentators of the caliber of Keil and Delitzsch: "to confess oneself a Jew, to become a Jew." Some translations, though, do use such expressions as: accepted the Jewish religion (Contemporary English Version), and declared themselves Jews (English Standard Version). The same is true of commentators such as Dr. Charles Ryrie: "embraced the religion of Judaism as proselytes" (Ryrie Study Bible), and Keil and Delitzsch, as above: "to confess oneself a Jew." It is also noteworthy that even in the days of the authorship of Esther (shortly after 465 B.C.E., when the events take place), "Jew" was used in reference to a descendant of the man Israel: Now there was at the citadel in Susa a Jew whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite (Esther 2:5).

So, which is the best translation?

There are two classes of considerations that pull in opposite directions. On the one hand, the root of the Hebrew word mityahadim, translated became Jews in the New American Standard, is yhd, the same root in yehudi or yehudim, which are translated "Jew" and "Jews" respectively. This, of course, pulls in the direction of translating mityahadim as "became Jews." On the other hand, several considerations pull in the direction of translating mityahadim as "became proselytes to Judaism":

1. The plain meaning of the passage is that Gentiles converted to Judaism.
2. Philological considerations, as explained by Dr. Fruchtenbaum:

The verb lehityaheid [the infinitive form of mityahadim, which is a participle] has the same connotation as lehitnatzer. Neither word focuses on a change of ethnic identity, but of religious identity. Lehitnatzer means to convert to Christianity, and lehityaheid means to convert to Judaism. Thus a more correct translation is to convert to Judaism to become proselytes, but it does not mean to become Jews in the sense of an ethnic identity change.1

3. Among the two hundred and fifty-six times in which "Jew" or "Jews" appear in the New American Standard, Esther 8:17 is the only instance in which proselytes are called Jews. (In our Replacement Theology study, which begins in Shofar 23, we examined those New Testament passages that appear to say otherwise at first glance, and have found that they actually do not.)
4. All of the considerations in the section, "Who Are the Jews?" in Who Is Israel? Who Are the Jews?, including the exclusive use of "Jews" by Yeshua, His disciples and their contemporaries in the sense of bloodline Jews.
5. Yeshua Himself used "Jews" in the context of the very covenants by which God set Israel apart from the nations. He said to the Samaritan woman, Salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22), meaning, not of the Samaritan nation, which had an unauthorized temple on Mt. Gerizim, but of the Jewish nation.

Above all other considerations, the identical construction of lehityaheid and lehitnatzer carries the day. In consideration of that and of all the rest of the above, the only reasonable translation is one that focuses on the religious conversion: "converted to Judaism," "became proselytes to Judaism," or a similar rendering. Consistent with that, "Jew" and "Jews" will be used in this series solely in reference to the bloodline descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - the way Yeshua used it and the way it is used in every other instant in Scripture. In the broader perspective, to be consistent with Scripture, "Jew" ought not to be used in reference to a Gentile convert to Judaism, a Gentile believer who identifies with the messianic community, or a Gentile believer in general,2  but  solely in reference to a bloodline descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

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ARTICLE II. WHERE ARE THE PROMISED PROMISED-LAND BLESSINGS?

The world was stunned when the modern State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948 after eighteen hundred years of Jewish dispersion and persecution around the world and after Satan's most successful bid at annihilating them. No such thing had ever been heard of. Historians were baffled. The phenomenon broke every principle of history pertaining to such things. "Surely, this was the return of Israel to the Land as prophesied in Scripture," mused many, and many still do - yet, there is this puzzlement: Where are the Messianic blessings so lavishly and copiously promised in the Hebrew Scriptures in such passages as Micah 4:1-4?

1. And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it. 2. Many nations will come and say, "Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways and that we may walk in His paths." For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3. And He will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war. 4. Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.

and Isaiah 11:1-10?

1. And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2. And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3. And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. 9. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Where are these blessings? Where is Messiah? Where is the peace? The key to the mystery is in the very next two verses, Isaiah 11:11-12:

11. Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12. And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

The Lord will again recover the second time . . . the remnant of His people . . from the four corners of the earth.

. . . the second time. . . . There will be two worldwide gatherings of Israel - not one - and two distinct classes of Scriptures attest to this: One speaks of a gathering for judgment, and the other of a gathering for Messianic blessing.

A. A GATHERING FOR JUDGMENT

Various passages prophesy a worldwide gathering of Israel in unbelief for the purpose of judgment, among which are Ezekiel 20:33-33; 22:17-22; 36:22-24 and Zephaniah 2:1-2.

Ezekiel 20:33-38:

33. "As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. 34. "I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; 35. and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. 36. "As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you," declares the Lord GOD. 37. "I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38. and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the LORD.

Verse 34 indicates a worldwide gathering of Jews. The only worldwide gathering of Jews to date culminated in the modern State of Israel, born on May 14,1948. In verses 34-35, God says that He will gather Israel with wrath poured out and enter into judgment with [them]. First, the wrath poured out; then, another judgment. The wrath poured out had to have been the Holocaust, if not the centuries of persecution that preceded it, as well; but a more severe judgment awaits Israel, namely, the time of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) in the second half of the Great Tribulation. During this period, two-thirds of the world's Jews will be killed (Zechariah 13:8) as opposed to the "piddling" one-third during the Holocaust.

But there is a divine purpose in this:

And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' and they will say, "The LORD is my God" (Zechariah 13:9).

I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)

And their lament will be,

3. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. 6. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:3-6)

Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. (Hosea 6:1)

And thus, All Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

The first worldwide gathering in 1948 was in preparation for the future judgment of unbelieving Israel, which will result in the universal salvation of her survivors, which is the climactic fulfillment of God's New Covenant that He made with Israel:

33. "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

Now comes the worldwide gathering for blessing.

B. A GATHERING FOR MESSIANIC BLESSING

Zechariah 10:8-12:

8. "I will whistle for them to gather them together, for I have redeemed them; and they will be as numerous as they were before. 9. When I scatter them among the peoples, they will remember Me in far countries, and they with their children will live and come back. . . . 12. and I will strengthen them in the LORD, and in His name they will walk," declares the LORD.

Ezekiel 11:17-20:

17. Therefore say, Thus says the Lord GOD, "I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel." 18. When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. 19. And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20. that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.

And Messiah will dwell among them and be their King, as is declared in the Micah 4:1-4 and Isaiah 11:1-10 passages, above.

Some other prophesies of a worldwide gathering in faith for Messianic blessing are Jeremiah 23:3; 31:8-10; Ezekiel 20:40-41 and Zephaniah 3:20.

C. SUMMARY

Much of Israel is now gathered in the Land in preparation for judgment during the Great Tribulation, which will result in the purging of the world's Jews of its rebels and the salvation of all the rest. The Lord will then gather the entire saved nation to the Land, where they will enjoy the prophesied Messianic blessings for the thousand year reign of Messiah, and Israel will suffer no more; for after the thousand years comes the eternal ages when the saints of all ages and all the holy angels will live in the blessed presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit forever.

Lord, hasten that day!

ENDNOTES

1. Combined emails to the author.
2. I have added "The 'Jews' of Esther 8:17" to the
Shofar 21 study, "Who Is Israel? Who Are the Jews?"

RECOMMENDED READING

Materials by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum:
1. Messianic Bible Study 007: Jews, Gentiles, Christians
2. The Footsteps of the Messiah
(Tustin: Ariel Ministries Press, 2001), 691-696.

* Dr. Fruchtenbaum's materials are available for purchase at Ariel Ministries in various formats. Some of
his Messianic Bible Studies (mbs) are also available for free online reading at Ariel's Come and See.
Other select materials and resources are available at Ariel, as well.

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Norman Manzon, 2011.
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For a continuous exegesis of every doctrinal point in our Statement

covered thus far, see the "We Believe" compendium
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Norman Manzon is a Bible teacher in Hawaii
and may be reached at BibleStudyProject@hawaiiantel.net.

More of Norm's studies may be accessed at www.BibleStudyProject.org.
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