Why is Jesus not for Jews? Well, it’s not for the reason that you might expect…
What we are going to try to explain in this article is why biblically, according to Torah (the Law of Moses), Yeshua (Jesus) is not for Jews. In order to do that, we’ll have to look at the stories of Adam, Joseph, and David, all Messianic figures whose lives foreshadow the promised Messiah of the Bible…
The Fig Tree
In the first chapter of the Book of John, we read:
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Yeshua son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Yeshua saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Yeshua answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the son of G-D! You are the King of Israel!”-John 1:45-49
It is quite strange that Nathanael reacts so extraordinarily to Yeshua having seen him under a fig tree. Most Christian interpretations of this passage try to explain that because Jesus had supernatural vision, he was able to see a stranger in a hidden place and that’s why Nathanael was convinced of Jesus’ messiahship. However, that simplistic interpretation completely ignores all the Jewish symbolism behind this passage.
The first question we have to ask is why is there a fig tree in this story? The first time in the Bible we see a fig tree is in the story of Adam & Eve in Eden,
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
From where did Adam & Eve get these fig leaves? According to ancient Jewish tradition, from none other than the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. So if the fig tree can represent the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil in Jewish tradition, why is it brought up at all as significant in this story of Yeshua?
If Nathanael was under the fig tree in this story, who was under the fig tree in the story of Adam & Eve? The deceiver – the Serpent. So can we find any other connection between Nathanael and the serpent – other than that they were both under a fig tree?
Yeshua said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
From this passage, we clearly see that the twelve disciples correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel. So how do we know which disciple corresponds to which tribe?
If we look at the order of disciples given in all three Synoptic Gospels, we see that Shimon (Simon) Peter is always listed first. Shimon is also the Hebrew name of the tribe in English, Simeon. If we correspond the first disciple Shimon with the tribe of Shimon, we can see which disciples correspond to which tribes, according to the orders of tribes given to us in the Torah. However, there are two orders of the twelve tribes in the Torah: according to birth and according to the banners as the tribes journeyed through the Wilderness. They are listed as follows:
|#||Tribe (By Birth)||Disciple||Tribe (By Banner)|
There are only three tribes and disciples which correspond to each other, regardless of which order we use. According to both orders of the tribes, if Shimon corresponds to the tribe of Shimon, then Judas always corresponds to the tribe of Reuven and Nathanael to the tribe of Dan.
Now, that we know that Nathanael represents the tribe of Dan, we have a big clue. That’s because the symbol of the Tribe of Dan, which is displayed on its tribal banner, is a serpent. This is derived from the blessing which Jacob gives to Dan,
Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider shall fall backward. I wait for your salvation [yeshua], O L-RD.
So if Nathanael, of Dan, represents the serpent and the fig tree represents the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, now we see the full picture of Nathanael under the fig tree representing the serpent under the Tree in the Garden of Eden.
What does Yeshua say when he sees Nathanael? He says, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” But wait, wasn’t the serpent a deceiver? Here, Yeshua is proving his messiahship symbolically by rendering the ‘serpent’ powerless to deceive under the fig tree. Yeshua has come to fix the sin of the Garden of Eden which was initially caused by the serpent’s deception. That is why Nathanael responded so emphatically to Yeshua, “Rabbi, you are the son of G-D! You are the King of Israel!”
Cursing the Fig
Since we’ve seen one example of how the fig tree represents the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil in the Gospels, we can now understand another story in the Gospel involving a fig tree – when Yeshua curses one in Jerusalem, just before his crucifixion and the Feast of Passover.
On its face, the passage is strange,
On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it… In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”-Mark 11:12-14, 20-21
It is odd because why would Yeshua curse the fig tree for not having fruit when we are told, “it was not the season for figs?” To understand this as well we have to look to Jewish tradition and see how it connects to messianic figures, Adam and David…
According to Jewish tradition, if Adam and Eve had only waited just a few hours until Sabbath (Shabbat), G-D would have allowed them to eat the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. Their sin was their disobedience, but it was also their impatience. This parallels to the Jewish tradition that G-D wanted King David to take Bathsheba as his wife, in order to parent the Messianic dynasty of kings beginning with Solomon, but David did not wait until the proper timing. Who knows? Perhaps Uriah the Hittite would have died in battle anyways, without David having committed adultery before that time when Bathsheba would be lawfully able to marry him. It is interesting that in Hebrew a ripe fig is called a, ‘Batsheva’ (Eng. Bathsheba), illustrating the connection between Adam and David’s sin of not waiting for the proper time to ‘enjoy the fruit’ eventually destined for them. One of the translations for the town of ‘Bethany,’ where Yeshua came from, is ‘House of unripe figs.’
We can already see that Yeshua cursing the fig tree when it’s not season for fruit is also symbolic of Yeshua refusing and fixing the sins of Adam & David.
So why would G-D want Adam & Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil and how is that connected to David, Bathsheba, and their descendant Yeshua?
In Jewish tradition, the Tree of Life was intimately connected to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.
And out of the ground the L-RD G-D made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Why doesn’t it say, “The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil were in the midst of the garden?” You can read this verse that the Tree of Life was “in the midst of the Garden and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.” In other words, the Tree of Life was in the midst of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. So why is the Tree of Life connected to the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil? It makes sense when we understand that the only way to have life is to know both good and evil. In one sense, without consciousness (knowledge) of good and evil, there could be no conscious human life at all. There would be no way to perceive good without an awareness of evil, just like darkness has no meaning without the contrast of light and vice versa. In another sense, only knowing good and evil gives you the possibility to choose that which leads to life – the good. That’s why it says in the Torah,
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the L-RD your G-D that I am commanding you today, by loving the L-RD your G-D, walking in HIS ways, and observing HIS commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the L-RD your G-D will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the L-RD your G-D, obeying HIM, and holding fast to HIM; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the L-RD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.-Deuteronomy 30:15-20
The wisdom of G-D, the Torah, is called the Tree of Life,
Long life is in her right hand;-Proverbs 3:16-18
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called happy.
The Torah is also the Knowledge of Good & Evil. Generally, the positive commandments of the Torah (Thou shalt’s) are the knowledge of good and the negative commandments of the Torah (Thou shalt not’s) are the knowledge of evil. Doing what the Torah tells us is good, but doing the opposite of the Torah is evil. The commandments of G-D teach us to choose life and choosing life teaches us to keep the commandments of G-D. They are inseparable. The path of life is the keeping of G-D’s commandments. The whole Torah teaches us to value human life above all. Every action must put life first. That’s why homosexuality is forbidden in the Torah, because homosexual relations cannot reproduce human life. Jews separate meat and dairy in their diet as a constant reminder not to mix life with death. The Torah teaches judgement to discern what actions lead to life as from what leads to death, physically and psychologically. All the commandments teach this lesson in some form or another.
Only by first acquiring the knowledge of good and evil can we then refuse the evil and choose the good – unto life. In the Messianic prophecy about Immanuel, it is written,
Therefore the L-RD himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.-Isaiah 7:14-15
Curds are food from a clean animal (representing good) and honey is food from an unclean animal (representing evil). Just as G-D wanted Adam & Eve to eat the fruit of the Knowledge of Good & Evil (consciousness) leading to the Tree of Life (choosing good, refusing evil), HE wanted David to marry Batsheva, the matriarch of the Messiah. So what is the connection between this Tree and the Davidic dynasty?
The Messiah in Judaism is the exemplar par excellence of living in accordance with the Torah (wholly choosing good and refusing evil). His name is Immanuel. He embodies the wisdom of G-D, the Torah as the “Word become flesh.” He sets the example for all to follow in order to have life. He leads us to the Tree of Life (Torah) by his righteous and holy example (the Cross). He is the Judge and Ultimate Ideal by virtue of his being whole before his G-D. His realization amongst and within humanity is the purpose and goal of humankind’s creation. We are to follow him in embodying the Torah, in order to experience the taste of that life “and life abundantly” in the Kingdom, not there, but here and now. In a sense, the Messiah is the Tree of Life.
So again, why did Yeshua curse the fig tree?
It wasn’t the time or season yet for Israel to eat the fruit of the Tree, to receive the Davidic Messiah who would lead Israel and the whole world to eat from the Tree of Life by the Torah. He cursed the fig tree and was soon thereafter hung dead and naked on a tree in the very same geography of Eden – Jerusalem.
Yet, Yeshua prophesied before his death,
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the son, but only the FATHER.””-Matthew 24:30-36
Yeshua said that the ‘end’ (Heb. ketz, קץ) will come when the fig tree puts forth its leaves again in preparation for ‘summer’ (Heb. kaitz, קיץ). When we are finally ready and merit to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life, the Son of David will come and we will eat with him in the Sabbath of the Messianic era.
There is a fascinating verse in Proverbs which pertains to all this,
Whoever keeps (Heb. notzer נצר) the fig tree will eat its fruit;-Proverbs 27:18
So he who waits on his master will be honored.
It’s amazing that the coming of the master is correlated to the eating of the fig tree. The root of the word ‘keeps’ is the same as the Hebrew word for, ‘Christians’ (Heb. natzrut נצרות). Christians have kept the fig tree, the historical figure of the Messiah, until the time of his coming and our eating of the fruit to Eternal Life.
So now we see that by cursing the fig tree, Yeshua recognized Israel and the world were not ready yet to receive the Messiah and he wept over Jerusalem. In fact, Israel was then in its worst spiritual state before her greatest judgment and exile. We were not ready then, but will we be? Has the fig tree yet put forth its leaves? Fascinatingly, the tree putting forth its leaves is also a sign of the restoration of the Land of Israel when the people of Israel shall return out of exile.
But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come. For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown… So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’-Ezekiel 36:8-9, 35
The gathering of G-D’s elect (Israel) from all over the earth and the restoration of the Land of Israel is the sign Yeshua gave of his immanent arrival!
The Redemption of the Son
According to the Torah, all firstborn sons in Israel were supposed to inherit the role of the priesthood, as priests had always been the firstborn sons of their fathers. After the sin of the Golden Calf, the priesthood was given only to the descendants of Aaron (though he was supposedly responsible for the sin). Since all firstborn sons belonged to the priesthood, the people of Israel had to purchase their firstborn sons back from the priests, the sons of Aaron, in order for them to lawfully belong to their families and not serve G-D as priests. This is called the “Redemption of the Firstborn” (“פדיון הבן”). In tractate of the Talmud, Bava Kamma 80a, this phrase is translated in the Aramaic to, “ישוע הבן,” lit. “Yeshua the Son.”
So what else is the connection between the Redemption of the Firstborn and Yeshua?
There is another bizarre story we read in the Gospels about Judas,
Then one of the twelve, called Judas (Judah) Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him…-Matthew 26:14-16
Here we see a striking similarity between the story of Yeshua and the story of Joseph,
Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.-Genesis 37:26-28
In both stories, a man named Judah (Judas) sells his brother for money. In fact, the Rabbis say that the same amount which Joseph was sold to Egypt is the exact amount of money given to the priests for the Redemption of the Firstborn (five shekels = twenty pieces of silver).
The Rabbis say that when Joseph’s brothers sold him, they placed a cherem (חרם), a solemn ban, on him. In other words, Joseph was unable to contact his brothers or father the whole time that he was enslaved and in Egypt. The only way that this ban could’ve been lifted is if he was ‘redeemed’ or purchased back from Egypt. Do we see evidence of this? Yes!
And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for G-D sent me before you to preserve life.-Genesis 45:4-5
Thus Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain (בר) from Egypt-Genesis 42:3
In Hebrew, there is a striking allusion to Joseph’s redemption. It says that the brothers went to buy grain from Egypt, but the word ‘bar (בר)’ may also be translated into the word, ‘son,’ just like the Redemption of the Firstborn. The brothers sold Joseph to Egypt, and the only way to lift the cherem was for them to buy Joseph back. The first two times that they tried to give money to Joseph, Joseph returned their money and continued not to reveal himself to his brothers, because they were not spiritually ready yet.
Do we see Judas try to return the money that the chief priests used to buy Yeshua? Yes.
When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Yeshua was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” Throwing down the pieces of silver in the Temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.” After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Zechariah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the L-RD commanded me.”-Matthew 27:3-10
On its face, it appears that Judas may have returned the money back to the priests, but they deny accepting the money into the Temple treasury and use the money instead to a buy a field.
“Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)-Acts 1:16-19
In the Book of Acts, it says that Judas “purchased a field,” confirming that the money was indeed not formally returned to the priests.
So where else do we see the concept of a cherem, besides the story of Joseph? Actually, there are two usages in Judaism…
A cherem is the equivalent in Judaism to a formal excommunication. A famous example of a cherem is that of Baruch Spinoza, one of the founders of the European Enlightenment. Raised and educated in the Jewish community of Amsterdam, Baruch Spinoza wrote of Yeshua, “Christ is not so much a prophet as the mouthpiece of God.” This and other parts of his philosophy earned him a cherem, a solemn ban officially excommunicating him from Judaism.
Fascinatingly, one of the first usages of the word ‘Cherem’ (חרם) in the Bible is in reference to that which is given to the priests.
And the L-RD spoke to Aaron: “Here, I Myself have also given you charge of My heave offerings, all the holy gifts of the children of Israel; I have given them as a portion to you and your sons, as an ordinance forever… Every devoted thing (חרם) in Israel shall be yours. Everything that first opens the womb of all flesh, which they bring to the L-RD, whether man or beast, shall be yours; nevertheless the firstborn of man you shall surely redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem.-Numbers 18:1, 14-15
Whatever was given to the priests became cherem, completely banned and off-limits to the people of Israel, as belonging only to G-D HIMSELF. Only the firstborn sons of Israel and clean animals had to be redeemed from the priests. Fascinatingly, the only unclean animals which can be redeemed are donkeys and the Israelites are commanded to redeem them.
But every firstborn of a donkey (חמר) you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.-Exodus 13:13
In Hebrew, the word ‘donkey’ (‘חמר’) has the same letters as ‘cherem’ (‘חרם’). In Judaism, the donkey is a vessel to bring the Messiah, as we read in Zechariah,
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.-Zechariah 9:9
With all of this foundation laid, we can now see that just as Joseph was under a cherem to his brothers until he was redeemed, so Yeshua is cherem, banned to the people of Israel until he is bought back from the priesthood. It is not only wrong according to Judaism, but it is forbidden according to Torah for the Jewish people to receive Yeshua, just as it wrong for the people of Israel to take back what is given to the priests. Yeshua was sold to the priests and belongs to them, as their lawful possession, just as Joseph was sold to the Nations. That is why Ariel Cohen Alloro, a priest living in Jerusalem, is trying to perform a Redemption of the Firstborn (ישוע הבן) ceremony to redeem Yeshua back to Judaism, in accordance with the Torah.
Ariel Cohen is negotiating with his rabbi, Yitzchak Ginsburgh, one of the biggest rabbis in Israel, to perform this ceremony with him. I once met with Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh in Kefar Chabad, Israel, and in this private meeting, multiple others and myself heard him say, verbatim,
“Whether Yeshua was a prophet or not, this can be discussed, but whether Yeshua was G-D, this cannot be discussed.”
One of the biggest rabbis in Israel is willing to discuss the authentic prophethood of Yeshua of Nazareth.
There are so many more connections to learn from Ariel Cohen Alloro through his initiative, Facing Each Other, on YouTube and on his website. Nearly everything I shared in this article, I have learned from him. I merely wanted to give a basic outline of why Jesus is not for Jews, according to Torah, but why only through his redemption, could he be once again…
What is the purpose for Yeshua having been off limits to the Jewish people for all this time?
When Yeshua heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”-Mark 2:17
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”-Matthew 15:24
We say that the Jewish people are blind to the identity of the Messiah. Paul says they are blinded for the sake of the tribes of Israel lost among the Nations…
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the nations has come in. And so all Israel will be saved…-Romans 11:25-26a
But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother [Ephraim] shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become the fullness of the nations.”-Genesis 48:19
If the Jewish people truly are blind, that is no sin on their part, but the purpose of G-D, as it was with Joseph and his brothers’ blindness.
Yeshua said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.-John 9:41
G-D has a purpose for this blindness, as we are all blind to many things. When the Messiah comes and we finally eat of that Tree – at last – our eyes will be opened…
And HE will destroy on this Mountain-Isaiah 25:7-8
The surface of the covering cast over all people,
And the veil that is spread over all nations.
HE will swallow up death forever,
And the L-RD G-D will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of HIS people
HE will take away from all the earth;
For the L-RD has spoken.