Systematic Political Science


Jewish Political Thought: A Summary

Dallas F. Bell, Jr.

A Hebrew (Gr. Hebraios from Aramaic 'Ebrai) is a person from the Semantic tribes that includes Israelis. The Semitic (Gr. Sem from Heb. Shem) peoples are the descendents of Noah's son, Shem (born c. 2385 B.C.), that are Arabs and Hebrews. A Jew (Heb. Jehudhi for Judah; Jewish kingdom) is a name for a person that is a member of the tribe of Judah whose religion is Judaism. Judaism is a religion developed by the Hebrews from a belief in the infinite God as told by Abraham, Moses and the Prophets in the scriptures. The definitions of who is a Jew (Mihu Yehudi) or Hebrew are blurred by beliefs that claim religion and ethnicity are inseparable. With this non-dualism (non-Platonic philosophy), anyone born to a Hebrew mother or has converted to Judaism is a Jew forever, whatever their future religious beliefs.

A brief history of Judaism's approximate dates by the Gregorian system is as follows.

1911-1896 B.C. God made a covenant with Abraham to produce a nation from his seed as chosen by God (Gen.15) possessing the land of Canaan (Gen 17:8).

1895 B.C. Abraham and his wife, Sarah, have God's chosen seed named Isaac (Gen. 21:1-7).

1835 B.C. Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, chosen by God have their chosen seed, Jacob (Gen. 25:21-26).

1777-1770 B.C. Judah and other children are born to Israel and Leah (Gen. 29:31-35; 30:17-24).

1763 B.C. God changes Jacob's name to Israel to name the future Divine nation (Gen. 32:22 - 33: 15).

1734 B.C. Israel and Rachel's last son, Benjamin, is born (Gen. 35:16-21). (The twelve sons of Israel become the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel.)

1705 B.C. The Israelis go to Egypt and arrive in Goshen (Gen. 46-47).

1275 B.C. The Israelites leave Egyptian bondage under Moses' leadership as he writes God's law (Ex. 7-12 etc.).

1234 B.C. Israel invades their promised land of Canaan with Joshua's leadership (Josh. 3).

1025 B.C. Saul becomes the first king of Israel (I Sam. 10:1-16).

930 B.C. David's, the 2nd king of Israel, son, Solomon the 3rd king of Israel, violates God's law (NLF) by building altars and shrines to and praying to false gods in worship (I Kings 11:4-8).

929 B.C. Israel begins to dissolve due to Solomon's sin of having gods other than the true God (I Kings 11:9-14).

30 A.D. Jesus died, as prophesied in the Old Testament Bible, to create a New Covenant recorded in the Bible's New Testament.

1948 The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel is proclaimed.

Halakha (Heb. halakh means to walk or to go) is the collective body of religious law (the 613 mitzvot or commandments from the singular mitzvah) of the Torah (the five books of Moses called the Written Law) as developed from especially the Mishneh and the Talmud (Oral Law), and the codification of the Maimonides' Mishneh Torah or Joseph Karo's (1488-1575) Shulkhan Arukh (Code of Jewish Law).

The Tanakh is a rabbinic name for the Old Testament Bible which is known as the Masoretic Text. Tanakh is an acronym from the Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah (Teaching, Moses' five books), Nevi'im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings)--TaNaKh.

The Halakha, intensely studied in yeshivas, practically applies each mitzvah (one of the commandments) in the Torah. The Talmud's (Tractate Makot) 613 mitzvot in the Torah are broken down into 248 positive mitzvot and 365 negative mitzvot, supplemented by 7 mitzvot legislated by rabbinical tradition. Jewish law has also been classified by the works of those like Maimonides as alluded to earlier. Maimonides (the Greek name for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon 1135-1204) wrote thirteen principles of faith. The first five deal with knowledge of the Creator. The next four deal with prophesy and the Divine origin of the Torah. The last four principles deal with reward, punishment and redemption.

Classic Judaism has laws that are either believed to be revealed by God to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai (i.e. the Pentateuch or the five books by Moses) or are believed to be divinely inspired laws of human origin (i.e. rabbinical decrees, customs, etc.) Halakhic scholars disagree on how law is interpreted, such as applying the mitzvot after the destruction of the Temple or determining mitzvot that are only relevant in Israel or considering laws that require a Jewish court (beit din) that no longer exists.

Generally, Judaism expects non-Jews (gentiles descended from Noah) to observe the seven Noahide Laws from the Oral Law of God's covenant with Noah after the flood. The Noahide laws are from the Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin 57a. The laws forbid murder, theft, sexual immorality, eating the flesh of living animals, belief and worship of idols, blaspheming, and require a fair and honest judicial system. These laws address the behavioral relationships between man and man, and man and God.

The violations of commandments or mitzvot are considered sin (Heb. aveira meaning transgression). The Tanakh is interpreted in Judaism to have three levels of sin. Pesha is an intentional sin that deliberately defies God. Avon is a sin done knowingly, but is not intended to defy God (i.e. lust). An intentional sin is called chet. These categories address the legal issues for criminal intent regarding the interaction of mens rea (L. for guilty mind) and actus reus (L. for guilty act), especially for Israeli Dayanim Law in Rabbinical Court, which is considered superior to the man-made laws of the Knesset (Israeli parliament). Israel has three main courts: secular, religious, and military. Each court is under the administration of different ministries: secular under the minister of justice concerned with civil courts, religious under the minister of religious affairs, and military under the minister of defense.

Theologically, sin means something different in Christianity. A sin is an offense against God which separates the sinner from God's grace, unless repentance occurs. This Christian atonement is from the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Judaism, of course, rejects this notion for various reasons. Some Jews believe that Jesus was a purely human sacrifice, which is forbidden (Deut. 12:31). It is true that an imperfect human that is sacrificed, such as Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22:1-14), would not be adequate for an infinite holy God. Abraham's obedient willingness to sacrifice Isaac is considered to be a prototype of Jesus' (who is believed to be both God and man) perfect sacrifice.

Another Jewish criticism of Christianity is that Jesus' sacrificial blood was not put on the only Temple altar (Deut. 12:4-18) to atone for unintentional sin (Lev. 4:2). In other passages, there are other altars such as at Mount Ebal (Deut.27:5). It seems that the references were used to warn of idolatrous worship (Deut.12:2-4, 13-14, 29-31). Jesus was prophesied to atone for sins (Is. 53:6-9), to be made sin (II Cor. 5:21) so as to redeem mankind (Gal. 3:13). This would only be possible due to His deity (Is. 9:6; John 1:1-18, 20:28-29; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:8) confirmed by fulfilling more than 300 Messianic prophesies as He did miracles (from creation in Genesis to Jonah who was in the fish for three days) for good (from turning water to wine and healing found in the book of John to walking on water and raising the dead to include His resurrection in the books of Luke and John) and not doing evil deeds (causing people to turn away from God in Gen. 3:1-24; I Chr. 21:1-30; Job 1:6-22, 2:1-13). That would complete the Jewish eschatology that teaches waiting for the Messiah (Moshiach).

Either a Jew is compliant with God's law and is orthodox or is not compliant with God's law and is non-orthodox. Some modern adherents to Orthodox Judaism are Elijahu Eliezer Dessler (1892-1953), Yitzchok Hutner (1906-1980), and Joseph Soloveitchik (1903-1993). Modern adherents to non-orthodox beliefs include Abraham Joshus Heschel (1907-1972) of Conservative Judaism, Mordecai Kaplan (1881-1983) of Reconstructionist Judaism, Martin Buber (1878-1965), Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929), and Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995). Benedictus de Spinoza (named Baruch Spinoza; 1632-1677) broke from orthodoxy for Pantheist beliefs.

Even though Jewish denominations exist in Israel, Israelis see Jewish identities different from Diaspora Jews. Israeli Jews call themselves either hiloni (secular), masorti (traditional), dati (religious), or haredi (ultra-orthodox). What is classified by Diaspora as orthodox is dati or haredi in Israel. Secular Jews are prominent in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, whereas Orthodox Jews are prominent in Jerusalem.

The scriptures must be taken in context. Some scholars have used the example of Samuel to justify opposing human governance (I Sam. 8:5,7) when the Israelis rejected God's governance through Samuel and demanded to have a king rule over them. Their timing was not God's plan because God was preparing David, a man after God's own heart, to be His anointed king over Israel (I Sam. 13:14).

The theological views of God's laws by orthodox and non-orthodox believers cause kulturkampf (Germ. for conflict of cultures). This conflict between religious authorities to control civil government permeates Israel, just as it does all other nations today. Some people have incorrectly argued that a halakhic state is not possible and so Jewish theocracy is somewhat of a paradox. They wrongly maintain that there are efficient political options for governing behavior between a halakhic state and a state that attempts to separate religion and state.

The liberals or non-orthodox believers do not want to be governed by God's law and have postulated a Doctrine of Religious Restraint. For example, they often propose laws that allow compromises to the illegality of murder, such as abortion, where the fact that innocent human life is being intentionally taken should be ignored. Thus, the murders should not be considered evil. In this case, the will of the non-orthodox has gained legal authority over the will of the orthodox. This means the former has won and the latter has lost. This battle can be analyzed using subgame perfect equilibrium and mean field theory (MFT). MFT looks at many interactions (law) to any one body (society) with an average or effective interaction. Thereby, this reduces a multi-body (societal) problem into an effective one-body problem.

The orthodox Jewish adherents to all NLF, with the major exception of accepting Jesus as part of the triune God (Gen. 1:26; Jam. 3:9) and the New Covenant ramifications concerning atonement etc., makes them political allies with Protestant Christians as seen in American-Israeli relations. This explains why their bond and political thought are congruent. This also explains why there is conflict between Protestant Christians and non-orthodox Jews (liberals) as well as conflict between Orthodox Jews and non-Protestant Christians (liberals), such as Israel not giving their Divine lands to their enemies under the guise of peace. The endgame of liberalism is the stealthful imposition of a court-enforced agenda of violations of God's law under the disguise of feel-good terms such as multiculturalism and diversity.

The strategy of liberalism ignores the uncompromising nature of God's law (compromise is sin; Ps 1:1, 119:101; Prov. 1:15, 4:14; Rom. 12:9; II Cor. 6:14-18; Eph. 5:11) and His just individual and societal penalties for non-compliance (Gen. 13:12-13, 19:1-29; Judg. 16:1-21; II Kings 11:1-16; II Chr. 16:1-9, 18:1-3, 19:1-2, 20:35-37). It wrongly assumes that there is a disconnect between God's law and individual and societal behavioral efficiency. There is also an incorrect assumption that there is a compromise between the Divine command to do or not do something and their respective opposites--not do and do something. The example was given earlier regarding murder. Intentionally taking innocent human life either is or is not compliant with God. Scripture says that it is not compliant. There is no logical center.

Orthodox Jews, especially in Israel, should employ a political strategy that applies law to pursuing common individual needs in order to accomplish their Jewish Political Thought. They know that murderers are also liars, thieves etc. (John 8:44). Then political argument must be made to ignorant believers and nonbelievers, and not just to fellow informed believers. In opposing abortion, for example, it could be pointed out that if the government allows the murder of babies then the elderly, etc. will soon be targeted, as confirmed historically which threatens the lives of everyone. Societal efficiency and economic stability will be lost when the babies are dead and unavailable to produce and support the elderly. Without firm adherence to the incorruptible code of NLF, there can be no integrity. Only a temporary false state of relativism can result creating a world without the necessary truth needed for societal survival.

The reason liberals give for compromise of Divine law is for the excuse of creating peace by preventing military war. The violence from violating God's law, as in abortion, still creates death and destruction by waging war on the innocent and is not peaceful. The ultimate result in compromise will be the last world war called Armageddon in the Valley of Jezreel, around 55 miles north of Jerusalem where Jesus is prophesied to return and save humanity.

There is netsach (Heb. for strength, a reference in I Sam. 15:29) in knowing that in the last days over 144,000 people of the tribes of the children of Israel will be sealed (Rev. 7:4-8). Jesus told Nicodemus that if He told him of earthy things and he didn't believe how would he then believe if He told him of heavenly things (John 3:12). Jesus later on told a Jewish audience that if they believed Moses they would believe Him because Moses wrote of Him (John 5:46).

In conclusion, pure Jewish Political Thought is the societal application of God's written laws by its believing citizenry. Liberals that give permission to individuals or governmental authority to interpret God's laws are in effect saying that all written laws are at some point incapable of stability and subject to becoming politically voided. This twisted Möbius band is a one dimensional plane of human originated law, without the outer boundary of reality, which is the controlling Divine dimension of the inner plane of man's law. Not acting from theological ignorance, that makes the god of liberals different (John 8:54-55) from the scriptural infinite God who is not capable of error and is worthy of obedience. Jewish Political Thought would by necessity need to be excluded from the fluctuating beliefs found within Liberal Political Thought.

(Hebrew words and phrases presented may have variations in spelling due their being transliterations as opposed to translations. Thanks to Naomi Scheinerman, from the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, for her assistance in July, 2009.)

(All scriptural references were taken from the KJV Bible.)

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