Yeshua and Tradition


Yeshua and Tradition
James Scott Trimm


Yeshua himself seems to have also accepted the “traditions of our fathers” which had been passed down orally.

In John 7:37-38 we read:

“And on the great day, which is the last of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried out and said, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures have said, rivers of water of life will flow from his belly.”

The occasion is the last great day of Sukkot (Jn. 7:2) and the setting appears to be the water libation ceremony at the Temple as prescribed by the Oral Law. A priest had a flask of gold filled with water and another has a flask of gold filled with wine. There were two silver bowls perforated with holes like a narrow snout. One was wide for the water the other is narrow for the wine. The priests poured the wine and water into each of their bowls. The wine and water mixed together. The wine flowing slowly through the narrow snout and the water flowing quickly through the wider snout. (m.Sukkot 4:9) Yeshua said that this ritual from the Oral Law was actually prophetic and symbolic of himself!

In all four Gospels Yeshua participates in the Passover Sader. The elements of the sader, such as the “cup of redemption”; dipping in bitter herbs; and the afikomen (the last piece of unleavened bread passed around and eaten at the end) all come from the Oral Law as recorded in the Mishna (m.Pes. 10). Yeshua not only accepted and kept these Oral Law rituals, but also spoke of them being prophetic of himself.

In Matthew 23:35 Yeshua says  “…upon you may come all the righteous blood which has been shed upon the earth, from Hevel the righteous, to Z’kharyah Ben Berekhyah, whom you slew between the Temple and the alter.”

Yeshua here relies heavily on the Oral Law in this passage in that he ties together two separate Oral Law traditions to make his point.  The first is an Oral Law tradition concerning the murder of Havel (Able) that understands the plural word “bloods” crying out from the ground in Gen. 4:10 to signify that whoever kills one person is guilty of killing everyone:

…it is said , “The bloods of your brother cry” (Gen. 4:10)
It does not say, “The blood of your brother,” but.
“The bloods of your brother”—his blood and the blood
of all those who were destined to be born from him.
Another matter—the bloods of your brother—
for his blood was splattered on trees and stones….
whoever destroys a single Israelite soul
is deemed by Scripture as if he had destroyed the whole world
and whoever saves a single Israelite soul
by Scripture as if he had saved the whole world…
(m.San. 4:5)

The second Oral Law tradition is one surrounding Zechariah ben Jehoidai (2Chron. 24:20-21).  The extant text of Matt. 23:35 reads “Zechariah ben Berechiah”.  This, however, seems to be a scribal error.  A scribe seems to have confused “Zechariah ben Jehoidai”(2Chron. 24:20-21) with “Zechariah ben Berechiah” (Zech. 1:1).  The original Hebrew text used by the ancient Nazarenes read correctly with “Zechariah ben Jehoidai”

The fourth century “Church Father” Jerome writes:

In the Gospel which the Nazarenes use,
instead of “son of Barachias”
we have found written “son of Joiada.”
(Jerome; Commentary on Matthew 23:35)

Yeshua draws on a tradition surrounding Zechariah ben Jehoidai which is recorded in the Talmud.  This tradition parallels the tradition concerning Abel above.  In this tradition Zechariah’s blood also cries out for vengence but ceases its cry lest all Israel be destroyed.  The Babylonian Talmud records the story this way:

Nebuzaradan, [After that] he saw the blood of Zechariah
seething. ‘What is this?’ cried he. ‘It is the blood of sacrifices,
which has been spilled,’ they answered. ‘Then,’ said he,
‘bring [some animal blood] and I will compare them, to see
whether they are alike.’ So he slaughtered animals and
compared them, but they were dissimilar. ‘Disclose [the secret]
to me, or if not, I will tear your flesh with iron combs,’ he
threatened.  They replied: ‘This is [the blood of] a priest and a
prophet, who foretold the destruction of Jerusalem to the
Israelites, and they killed him.’ ‘I,’ said he, ‘will appease him.’
So he brought the scholars and slew them over him,
yet it did not cease [to boil]. He brought schoolchildren
and slew them over him, still it did not rest; he brought the
young priests and slew them over him, and still it did not rest,
until he had slain ninety four thousand, and still it did not rest.
Whereupon he approached him and cried out, ‘Zechariah,
Zechariah,  I have destroyed the flower of them: dost thou
desire me to massacre them all?’ Straightway it rested.
Thoughts of repentance came into his mind: if they, who killed
one person only, have been so [severely punished], what will
be my fate?  So he fled, sent his testament to his house, and
became a proselyte.
(b.San 96b)

While the Jerusalem Talmud has:

Rabbi Jochanan said, Eighty thousand priests were slain
for the blood of Zachariah.
Rabbi Judas asked Rabbi Achan, Where did they kill
Zachariah?  Was it in the woman’s court, or in the court of
Israel?  He answered:  Neither in the court of Israel, nor in the
court of women, but in the court of the priests; and they did not
treat his blood in the same manner as they were wont to treat
the blood of a ram or a young goat.  For of these it is written,
He shall pour out his blood, and cover it with dust.  But it is
written here, The blood is in the midst of her:  she set it upon
the top of the rock; she poured it not upon the ground.  (Ezek.
xxiv. 7.)  But why was this? That it might cause
fury to come up to take vengeance: I have set his blood upon
the top of a rock, that it should not be covered.  They
committed seven evils that day: they murdered a priest, a
prophet, and a king; they shed the blood of the innocent: they
polluted the court: that day was the Sabbath : and the day of
expiation. When therefore Nebuzaradan came there (viz.
Jerusalem), he saw his blood bubbling, and said to them,
What meaneth this?  They answered, It is the blood of calves,
lambs, and rams, which we have offered upon the altar.  He
commanded them, that they should bring calves, and lambs,
and rams, and said I will try whether this be their blood:
accordingly they brought and slew them, but the blood of
(Zachariah) still bubbled, but the blood of these
did not bubble.  Then he said, Declare to me the truth of the
matter, or else I will comb your flesh with iron combs.  Then
said they to him, He was a priest, prophet, and judge, who
prophesied to Israel all these calamities which we have
suffered from you; but we arose against him, and slew him.
Then, said he, I will appease him: then he took the rabbis
and slew them upon his (viz. Zachariah’s) blood, and he was
not yet appeased.  Next he took the young boys from the
schools, and slew them upon his blood, and yet it bubbled.
Then he brought the young priests and slew them in the same
place, and yet it still bubbled. So he slew at length ninety-four
thousand persons upon his blood, and it did not as yet cease
bubbling.  Then he drew near to it and said,
O Zachariah, Zachariah, thou hast occasioned the death of the
chief of thy countrymen; shall I slay them all? Then the blood
ceased, and did bubble no more.
(j.Ta’anit 69)

Notice Yeshua says “between the Temple and the alter” Here Yeshua specifies the location of Zechariah’s murder more specifically than the written Tanak does.  The Tanak says only that the murder occurred “in the court of the House of YHWH”.  However the oral tradition recorded in the Talmud is more specific:

Rabbi Judas asked Rabbi Achan, Where did they kill
Zachariah?  Was it in the woman’s court, or in the court of
Israel?  He answered:  Neither in the court of Israel,
nor in the court of women, but in the court of the priests
(j.Ta’anit 69)

While the Tanak places the murder simply “in the court of the House of YHWH”, Yeshua places it more specificly in the Court of Priests located “between the Temple and the alter” just as the Talmud proclaims it.  Yeshua’s source here is Oral tradition and not the written Tanak.

These two murders are connected by the tradition that their blood cried out for vengence, but this is a connection built upon TRADITION.

I could go on and on with examples, but I think I have made my point.


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