Friday, January 23, 2015

Did the Jews Kill the Prophets?

Recently I was approached by a Christian gentleman who wanted to warn me of the signs of the times and to express that his eschatological perspective required me to embrace Jesus before he descends from the eastern sky with great wrath. He explained to me his ideas concerning current world events and how they allegedly fit in with end-time prophecy. At a point in the conversation I began to explain why I do not give credence to newspaper prophesy and why I do not accept Jesus as being anything of notable consequence. Predictably the man’s response was to resort to a tired old cliché:
Jews killed all the prophets that were sent by God! You are deaf and blind to the truth!”
 
I have to admit that I do get agitated whenever someone says something stupid to justify their subjective ideology. In this case this was not a simple justification but also an attack on me and the whole of Judaism. The idea that Jews killed the prophets has been used for centuries to condone the persecution and murder of Jews by both Christians and Muslims. It is quite undeniably a clear pre-text for anti-Semitism. However, the purpose of this article is to examine this accusation and answer to answer the question: Is this charge against us true?
The Christian Bible (a.k.a. New Testament) makes the claim that Jews killed the prophets in 1 Thessalonians 2:14,15:
"For you also have suffered like this of your countrymen, even as they have of the Jews; who both killed the Lord Jesus Christ and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men."
Jesus himself declares that the Jews were apparently in the habit of killing the prophets:

 "Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.” (Luke 11:47-48)

 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37 & Luke 13:34).
Since Jesus and Paul assert that Jews apparently killed the prophets we have to investigate this claim by asking what prophets did the Jews kill. Can you name any? None come to mind. In fact, there isn’t a single prophet recorded in the Jewish Bible (erroneously referred to as Old Testament) that was killed by the Jewish people.
But Wait! Jesus gives us an answer:
“And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar..” (Matthew 23:35)
Jesus states that Zechariah ben Berekiah was murdered. This is the one and only example that we have of the Jews killing all the prophets. If this example were true then the statements made by Jesus and Paul that the Jews were killing all the prophets is a gross exaggeration but as we shall see this example as given by Jesus in the Book of Matthew is not accurate in the least.
Zechariah ben Berakiah (Zechariah 1:1) was a prophet in Israel. However, he was not murdered by anyone much less the Jewish people. The “only” Zechariah that was killed was another man named Zechariah son of Jehoiada who was executed by order of the King:
And the spirit of God enveloped Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people and said to them, "So said God: Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord? You will not succeed because you have forsaken the Lord, and He has forsaken you.’ And they conspired against him and stoned him by the king's command, in the forecourt of the House of the Lord..” (2 Chronicles 24:20,21)
So what does this mean…
First, Jesus named the wrong Zechariah (there were 500 years between these two Zechariah’s), second the Zechariah who was killed was NOT a prophet but a priest, and third this Zechariah was not killed between the sanctuary and the altar as Jesus stated rather in the forecourt of the Temple. Jesus got the person, place and timing of this event completely WRONG.
It is also noteworthy that Jesus made another assertion in this false narrative- that the Jews were responsible “from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah” (Matthew 23:35). It is hard to imagine the Jews being responsible for the death of Abel who was the son of Adam and was murdered by his brother Cain. The Jews didn’t even exist then. Further, he implies that Jews are guilty for the whole history of bloodshed from the time of Abel to Zechariah and this is a statement that is unlikely to have been spoken by Jesus as a historical personality. Why would Jesus make statements that are classic anti-Semitic rants unless these statements of Jesus were later edited by Church authorities? Either Jesus was ignorant of the Scriptures and hated his own kindred or his statements have been edited by later anti-Semitic Church authorities. In either case the assertions of the Jews killing the prophets and the details of the explanation are completely wrong.
The false accusations against the Jews in the Christian Bible has had dire consequences upon the Jewish people over the last two millennia. Millions of Jews have been murdered at the hands of the Church as a consequence of these baseless accusations. Muslims have also incorporated the slanderous Christian teachings into their Quran which has also led to brutality against Jews at the hands of Muslims.
The Quran contains many of the same false anti-Semitic propaganda concerning Jews killing all of the prophets:
“And (remember) when you said, "O Musa (Moses)! We cannot endure one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us to bring forth for us of what the earth grows, its herbs, its cucumbers, its Fum (wheat or garlic), its lentils and its onions." He said, "Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower? Go you down to any town and you shall find what you want!" And they were covered with humiliation and misery, and they drew on themselves the Wrath of Allah. That was because they used to disbelieve the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully. That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress the bounds (in their disobedience to Allah, i.e. commit crimes and sins). S. 2:61 Al-Hilali & Khan
And when it is said to them (the Jews), "Believe in what Allah has sent down," they say, "We believe in what was sent down to us." And they disbelieve in that which came after it, while it is the truth confirming what is with them. Say (O Muhammad Peace be upon him to them): "Why then have you killed the Prophets of Allah aforetime, if you indeed have been believers?" S. 2:91 Al-Hilali & Khan
Verily! Those who disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and kill the Prophets without right, and kill those men who order just dealings, ... announce to them a painful torment. S. 3:21 Al-Hilali & Khan
Indignity is put over them wherever they may be, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah, and from men; they have drawn on themselves the Wrath of Allah, and destruction is put over them. This is because they disbelieved in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets without right. This is because they disobeyed (Allah) and used to transgress beyond bounds (in Allah's disobedience, crimes and sins). S. 3:112 Al-Hilali & Khan
Indeed, Allah has heard the statement of those (Jews) who say: "Truly, Allah is poor and we are rich!" We shall record what they have said and their killing of the Prophets unjustly, and We shall say: "Taste you the torment of the burning (Fire)." S. 3:181 Al-Hilali & Khan
Those (Jews) who said: "Verily, Allah has taken our promise not to believe in any Messenger unless he brings to us an offering which the fire (from heaven) shall devour." Say: "Verily, there came to you Messengers before me, with clear signs and even with what you speak of; why then did you kill them, if you are truthful?" S. 3:183 Al-Hilali & Khan
Because of their breaking the covenant, and of their rejecting the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, and of their killing the Prophets unjustly, and of their saying: "Our hearts are wrapped (with coverings, i.e. we do not understand what the Messengers say)" - nay, Allah has set a seal upon their hearts because of their disbelief, so they believe not but a little.” S. 4:155 Al-Hilali & Khan
Unlike the writers of the Christian Bible the author of the Quran did not think to back up their false statements with the name of even one prophet that the Jews have supposedly killed. This is because there aren’t any. What would motivate Jesus and Mohammed to make these false accusations against Jews? Jesus and Muhammad were quite angry that the Jews opposed them and did not accept their claim to be a prophet of God, but does that justify that they charge their opponents as being guilty of the killing of (all) the prophets?
Why does so much anti-Semitism exist in the world today? Anti-Semitism exists simply because the world religions teach their followers to hate the Jews. This is observable in that Jews have been persecuted the most in countries dominated by Christians and Muslims, however in countries dominated by other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism there is no record of anti-Semitism against the resident Jewish populations. This is a glaring truth that needs to be considered by everyone of every religious persuasion.