"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

by R’ Yosef Barzillai

As everyone knows, the central character of the christianity cult is a Galilean Hebrew of the first century CE who is supposed to have been born of the direct impregnation of a young, married Hebrew woman, who was somehow still a virgin, by God Himself. Even this much is enough to raise serious questions as to the plausibility of the story.

“Matthew’s gospel” claims: Now the birth of….. was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily…. (1:18-19). “Espousal”, or “betrothal”, is the first stage of a Hebrew wedding, called in Hebrew kiddushin. After kiddushin, the couple are legally married and the groom must formally divorce the bride if they should decide not to proceed with the marriage. This is completely consistent with the clear statement in verse 19 that “Joseph… was minded to put her away” because of her apparent infidelity. Furthermore, after kiddushin had taken place, sexual intercourse between the bride and another man would have been adultery, a capital crime under Hebrew Law. Is it the act of a “just man” to “put her away privily” in order to avoid “making her a publick example”? Certainly not: a “just man” would not have wanted to be implicated in covering up prima facie evidence of a capital crime – a “just man” would have reported it to the authorities and allowed Justice to take its course.

But far more fundamental is another point that christians miss entirely, due to their ignorance of Hebrew marriage formalities. The “espousal” or “betrothal” – kiddushin – ceremonial consists of three essential elements, laid down in the Mishnah at the very start of the Treatise entitled Kiddushin: “a woman is acquired in marriage by three acts… by giving her an object of value, by signing a marriage-document, and by consummation”. This means that an “espoused” or “betrothed” girl or woman would never be a virgin, and there was actually nothing at all remarkable about an “espoused” or “betrothed” girl or woman being found to be pregnant.

I have not yet mentioned the other phrase used in the two verses I quoted from “Matthew’s gospel”, namely “before they came together”. If you ask any christian what this means, you will be told, in more or less euphemistic language (because christians are scared of speaking openly about sexual intercourse), that this means “before the ‘holy couple’ consummated their union”. But as I have already explained, it cannot mean that, because first intercourse would have occurred at the time of their kiddushin. So what does it really mean? Well, it’s a clear reference to the second stage of a Hebrew wedding, called in Hebrew nissu’in. The nissu’in (unfortunately, there is no simple English term that appropriately translates this term) was the public celebration of the marriage, when the bride was brought in festive procession to her new husband’s home, to move in and begin living with him. Today, nissu’in has become purely symbolic and is represented by the Seven Joyful Blessings that are pronounced under the huppah (Wedding Canopy) immediately following the public reading of the k’tubah (marriage document) at the end of the kiddushin part of the wedding service; but in ancient times nissu’in happened some time – a few weeks, or even several months – after kiddushin. This is the “coming together” that “Matthew’s gospel” is referring to.

It is unclear whether the writer of “Matthew’s gospel” really was unaware of the precise nature of the formalities that accompany a Hebrew wedding, or whether he was simply relying on his readers not knowing about these matters. Personally, I tend to the latter view, but this is just a conjecture on my part. But is highly likely that he knew he was being totally dishonest when he wrote the deception in verse 22: Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet… Why is this a deception? – because the “quotation” employs three pieces of trickery that characterise all the similar “proof-texts” that are found throughout the “gospels”:

  1. partial quotation – that is, only quoting part of a longer statement;
  2. mistranslation; and
  3. quoting out of context – that is, taking a quote out of the place where it originally occurs so that it seems to have a completely different meaning from what it meant in its original setting.

In other words, what the writer has done is to lift just a few words out of the writings of one of the Prophets, and not from the original Hebrew text, but from the first christian translation, the Greek version known as the pseudo-septuagint, and pretend they were originally intended to be a prediction of the “events” that he has just been describing. For an examination of the passage from which the “quotation” in matthew 1:23 is taken, click here.

There are another three similar deceptions in the second chapter of “Matthew’s gospel”, in verses 6, 15, and 23 (click here for an examination of these); and there are many more throughout the “gospels”.




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