Opposition to Christianity in Chazalic literature

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Opposition to Christianity in Chazalic literature consists of direct questioning and at times invalidating of Christianity as found in Chazalic literature.[1] Of the notable reasons of Chazalic opposition to Christianity is that Christianity is founded on the belief of the Trinity, whereas Judaism follows the belief of strict monotheism. Another source of opposition is the belief that the Torah, as given by Moshe Rabbeinu (exclusive of the New Testament), along with its interpretation by Chazal, is the supreme and exclusive indicator of Yahweh's instruction to Jews and mankind.[citation needed]

Mishnaic sources[edit]


References to Christianity are rarely found in Tosefta. A brief mention—albeit allegorically—is found in regards to a Jew who incises his skin on the Shabbat with the intent to engrave a tattoo. the Tanna Rabbi Eliezer is quoted as liableizing (for transgression of Shabbat) the offender for performing one of the activities prohibited on Shabbat, as this is a solid form of penmantry work. As proof, Rabbi Eliezer cites that the "Ben Sitda[2]" stole his knowledge of sorcery from Egypt using this type penmantry[3] -hence proving its potency as a viable form of writing. Chazal did not accept Rabbi Eliezer's proof, with the counterclaim of "due to one shoteh (fool)[4] we should make liable all the normal folk?"[5]

Following the debated assumption that ben sitida is indeed a reference to Yeshu,[6] it is inferable from this mentioning that Yeshu -as founder of Christianity- used sorcery as a method of achieving supernatural events -a method discounted by Chazal as illegitimate.[citation needed]

Midrashic sources[edit]

Midrashic literature contains a number of references to Christianity. Of note is the Midrash's insistence that the rise of Christianity—as well as its illegitimacy as being servicial to Yaweh—was foretold to all nations of mankind by Bilaam the sorcerer:

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says; Seventy nations[7] heard the voice of Bilaam. Rabbi Elazer the Kappar [8] says; The G-d gave strength to his (Bilaam's) voice and it travelled from the edge of the world to its (other) edge. Since he viewed and saw the nations that they bow to the Sun and the Moon and stars, to wood and stone -and viewed and saw that there is a man -the son of a woman- that in the future will stand and will seek to make himself a g-d -to trick the entire world. Thus, (g-d) gave (super-natural) strength to his voice so that all nation's of the world should hear. Likewise he (Bilaam) stated; "give your attention in order that you not err after that man" as it is stated "G-d is not man -who err's", (thus) if he states that he is a g-d he is tricking (causing to err).[9] And in the future he will state that he is the son of g-d. But (in actuality) is only the son of man, as is stated "and the son of man to change[10]" since he will -in the future- misrepresent and say that he is passing on and will come in return; "he said and will not do[11]". Look what is written; "he (Bilaam) carried his parable and said "oh! who will live from (the sin of) placing him as a G-d?[12]" -said Bilaam, Woe! who will live from that nation that followed[13] after that man that presented himself as a G-d

— Yalkut Shimoni to Bamidbar page 400 (Ha'Maor edition)

Midrash HaGadol[edit]

As the featured Midrashic text of Yemenite Jewry, the Midrash ha-Gadol—in relation to Yeshu—cites the ideal state of Judaism as that where no students or members of the religion "step out" and publicly profess the Rabbinic interpretation of the Torah as invalid.[14]

The Zohar[edit]

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai—as the chief contributor to the Zohar and its associated works—is recorded as exclaiming dissatisfaction to those that forgo the Torah in favor of its antitheses:

Said Rabbi Shimon; Woe to these that leave Torah and go to those who are sweet-talked from the sources of the snake who compel them to "invest effort in those angels that are appointed (by g-d) in charge of the Sun and Moon, and on those (angels) in charge of Spirits and Demons, to be like G-d himself -a knower of good and evil". Regarding them it is said "so says g-d to the (sacrifice) slaughterers and incense offerers" and this is the commandment of God "and from the tree of knowledge -good and evil- you shall not eat from" -and Yeshu the liable in this (nature of activity) he would (actively) engage

— Tikkunei Zohar, Chap. 66

Talmudic sources[edit]

The Talmud—relative to other Rabbinic sources—takes a unique approach to Christianity in the sense that in differentiates between Yeshu himself—who is portrayed as a complete Jew wanting to remain under his Rabbi's tutelage—and the religion he ultimately established -which the Talmud frowns upon.

In Sanhedrin 107b and Sotah 47a Yeshu is mentioned as a student of Yehoshua ben Perachya who was sent away for misinterpreting a word that in context should have been understood as referring to the Inn, he instead understood it to mean the innkeeper's wife. His teacher said "Here is a nice Inn", to which he replied "Her eyes are crooked", to which his teacher responded "Is this what your are occupied in?" [15] After several returns for forgiveness he mistook Perachiah's signal to wait a moment as a signal of final rejection, and so he turned to idolatry;

In all circumstances (one should exercise) use the left hand to push (away) and the right (to) bring closeward ..not like Yehoshua ben Perachya who pushed him –to Yeshu- with both hands.. (here the Talmud begins a narration) at the time that Yannai the king was executing the Rabbis, Shimon ben Shatach(‘s sister) hid Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachya, he (then, subsequently was able to) go and run (escape) to Alexandira of Egypt. When there was (came) and (an era of) peace, Shimon ben Shatach sent to him (a letter:) “from me Yerushalayim the holy city to you Alexander of Egypt -my sister, my husband dwells amongst you and I am sitting lonely” said (Rabbi Yeshushua ben Perachya) “I deduce (from the letter) that he (is enjoying)peace. As he (Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachya) came they went up to a lodge, (they -at the lodge) stood for him with exemplary honor and did for him extended goodness. He sat and was in the midst of praising 'how beautiful is this lodging', (Yeshu) said to him “My master, her eyes are misshaped”. He said to him “Evil one!, in this you are busy with?!” he brought out four hundred Shofars and excommunicated him.

Every day he would come before him (intent on being readmitted,) and he did not accept him. One day he was reciting Krait Shema,[16] he (Yeshu) came before him (the Rabbi) -it was on his (the Rabbi's) mind to accept him- he (the Rabbi) showed him with his hand,[17] he (Yeshu) thought 'push he is pushing him', (Yeshu then) went erected a fish worship, he (his Rabbi) said to him 'return yourself' he (Yeshu) said to him '(so) I learnt from you; 'all who sin and cause others to sin we do not give (are not given) him the ability to repent'.

— Sotah 47a, Sanhedrin 107

Tzoah rotachat[edit]

Onkelos the son of Klonimus..desired to convert himself (to Judaism)..he brought Yeshu (forth by means of/in) Séance..(Onkelos queried to Yeshu) whom is of importance in that world? He (Yeshu) answered him; Yisroel (the children of Israel). (Onkelos furthur queried) what/how (do you advise) to cleave to them? He (Yeshu) answered; "their benefit (lit. goodness) seek, their harm (lit. evil) do not seek (as) all/whomever touches them (with intent to harm) is as if (he) is touching the pupil of his (g-d's) eye". He (Onkelos) said to him (to Yeshu); the judgement of that man[18] is how/what? he (Yeshu) said to him (to Onkelos) "in excrement (that is) boiling".

(the Talmud goes on to praise the fact that Yeshu -as a Jew- spoke favorably about his Jewish bretheren, as opposed to Onkelos's preceding dialogue with Titus and Bilaam who both advised Onkelos to provoke the Jews;) "come and see (the stark) difference between (even those) sinners of Israel and the prophets of those nations who worship idols" (i.e. even a "sinner of Israel" is of superior spiritual quality than the prophet of idolatry)

— Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 57a

Ben Sitida and Ben Pandira[edit]

(The Talmud queries; Is he really) The son of Sitida? the son of Pandira (the common understanding is that he is the son of Pandira)! Rav Chisda said (explains the seeming contradiction); The husband was/is Sitida (but the) lover[19] was/is Pandira. (The Talmud states as fact): (the true) Husband (is/was) Pappus Ben Yehuda. (so then, if his mother's true husband and his biological father where both not called Sitida then why is he called "the son of Sitida"?). Only (as the explanation of the contradiction) say, his mother was Sitida, (The Talmud furthur queries how this is plausible since) his mother (was called) Miriam (who) grow's/grew [the hair of] women,[20] (at this point the Talmud gives a final explanation to resolve the reasoning of him being called "The son of Sitida") As is said (explained) in Pumbedita; "She strayed from her husband"[21]

— Sanhedrin 67a

Rabbinic commentators to the Tanach[edit]

Among Rabbinic commentarians to Tanach, the Even Ezra and Radak


Rabbinic literary works[edit]

In latter day Rabbinic articles[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christianity in this sense is inclusive of Christ and the New Testament
  2. ^ this is a nick-name afforded to Yeshu -see Ein Yaakov to Sanhedrin 43a
  3. ^ as the Egyptians would not allow foreigners to copy their code of sorcery, hence Ben Sitda needed to "sneak" it out -see "minchas bikkurim" to above tosefta
  4. ^ foolish in the sense that an individual does an uncommon act thereby making himself a "Shoteh" (in hebrew "שוטה"; one who "veerer" from the normal pattern of common behavior)
  5. ^ Tosefta to tractate shabbat 12:9
  6. ^ see Jesus in the Talmud
  7. ^ in midrashic sources the term "seventy nations" refers to all of mankind
  8. ^ (רבי אלעזר הקפר)
  9. ^ the Hebrew text reads "ויכזב", in this context the Midrash explains the word as "causing other to err"
  10. ^ Bamidbar 23:19. Here, the Midrash exegesises the verse to negate that God has the limited nature of man, in the sense that there will arise a man - with limited abilities, as all men - who will attempt to replicate God but cannot - since God does not change (כזב)
  11. ^ Bamidbar 23:19. Here, the Midrash continues to state that the man will speak as a God but cannot succeed in actuating his verbal guarantee
  12. ^ Bamidbar 24:23
  13. ^ lit. "listened"
  14. ^ Medrash HaGadol to Bereishit 25:1
  15. ^ (This happened during their period of refuge in Egypt during the persecutions of Pharisees 88-76 BCE ordered by Alexander Jannæus. The incident is also mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud in Chagigah 2:2 but there the person in question is not given any name.)
  16. ^ the reciting of Shema being a spiritually intense moment
  17. ^ signaling acceptance -rashi to sotah 47: (chesronot hashas)
  18. ^ "that man" is a talmudic expression when one queries another about an unfavored disposition and does not wish to be blunt with the question
  19. ^ lit. "penetrator"
  20. ^ plausible explanation of this title is not given by Talmudic Commentarians, but it may be assumed that she engaged in the human hair trade for the preparation of Wigs
  21. ^ i.e. "Sitida" being composed of two Aramaic words "Satat" (strayed) "da" (she -lit. "this")