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Jesus The Jew


'Jesus the Jew' has proven to be a controversial and offensive statement for something that is plainly common sense and so apparently obvious.

Jesus was raised a Jew from His birth, as is indicated by His very Jewish genealogy (Matthew 1.1-17).

He was circumcised the eighth day (Luke 2.21), bore a common Jewish name, Yeshua, 'He [God] saves' (Matthew 1.21).

In fact, Yeshua was the fifth most common Jewish name. Four out of the 28 Jewish High-Priests in Jesus' time were called Yeshua.

After His birth, Jesus was presented to the Lord in the Jerusalem temple (Luke 2.22; cf. Deuteronomy 18.4; Exodus 13.2,12,15) according to Mary's period of uncleanness (Leviticus 12).

A sacrifice was offered for him - a pair of doves and 2 young pigeons - which indicated that His family were not wealthy (Leviticus 12.2,6,8; Luke 2.22-24).

Jesus was raised according to the Law (Luke 2.39).

So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. (NKJV)

Physically, Jesus was a Jew. Being faithful to the Law, He wore the tsitsith ('tassel', Numbers 15.37-41; Matthew 9.20; 14.36; Luke 8.44; in English these are obvious by the translations 'hem' or 'fringe of His garment' which the crowds were keen to touch in order to be healed).

He may also have worn the tephillin ('phylacteries', Deuteronomy 6.8), small boxes bound to arm and head containing the Scriptural verses (Exodus 13.1-16, Deuteronomy 6.4-9 and 11.13-21).

Jesus only criticised the exaggerating of these for ostentatious exhibitionism, a practice also condemned by later rabbis.

"But all their works they do for to be seen of men. they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments" (Matthew 23.5, KJV).

Conventionally, these were meant to be discreet and the arm one was invisible under clothing. A rabbinical source suggests that the head one should only be worn in Winter under a head band and not in Summer when it would have been conspicuous.

Every year, Jesus' family went up to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (Pesach) (Luke 2.41-43). Jesus observed and continued this Jewish tradition (John 12.12; Mark 14.12-26). Jesus also kept Tabernacles (Sukkoth, 'booths') (John 7.1-39).

John 10.22-23 may also indicate that Jesus celebrated the Hanukkah festival which commemorated the 2nd century B.C. rededication of the Temple under the Maccabees.

"As was His custom", He also attended synagogue every Sabbath (Luke 4.16) even during His travelling ministry (Mark 1.39; Matthew 4.23; 9.35; Luke 4.15,16-27,44).

In tithing, fasting and almsgiving, Jesus was totally Jewish. Although He opposed excessive worrying about the minutiae of tithing "mint, dill and cumin" (Matthew 23.23), He still argued that the crowds and His disciples should do as the scribes and Pharisees said (Matthew 23.3; "but not as they do"!). In fact the law only specified tithing of grain, wine, oil and livestock.

Jesus said grace, or rather a blessing, before and/or after meals (Deuteronomy 8.10; Matthew 6.41; 26.26 and Luke 24.30 which is post resurrection).

The object of the blessing was not the food but God, when the New Testament inserts 'it' or 'the bread' in such verses it is not found in the Greek. It was inconceivable that a Jew would bless the object and not the Originator/Creator. The traditional blessing is.

"Barukh attah 'Adonai 'elohenu Melekh ha-olam ha-motsi lechem meen ha-arets"
"Blessed are You, our Lord God, King of the Ages/Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth"

In every respect, therefore, Jesus was a Jew, and was not ashamed to call Himself one.

"we know what we worship, for salvation is from the Jews" (John 4.22)