Hatikvah For Secular Jews

WHERE TO FIND THE LOST TEMPLE TREASURES…
OR
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE TANAKH?


This article is dedicated to the millions of true, Jewish-born people,
(whether living in Eretz Israel or not), who call yourselves ‘Secular Jews’.

These discussion papers are simply offered ~ for your own consideration.

Introduction.
Since the re-establishment of Israel as a National State, in their own Land in 1948; the interest in Jewish People, by many Jewish and non-Jewish people with a ‘world view’ has greatly increased. Part of this interest, is due to the geo-political events in and around Israel, and the availability of all forms of media and technical communications, radio, television, and the Internet, to ‘show & tell’ about Israel. Many of us have lived to see or know of really significant events – especially in the Middle East over the last 100 + years.

The ‘rebirth’ of Israel as a modern Nation State
was seen as one of the most significant.


Recently there has been more talk about the longed for
discovery of the priceless ‘Temple Treasures’.
Finding these would be an even more significant
event to most people, especially Jews!

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ‘TEMPLE TREASURES’?
Scholars and archaeologists believe these priceless artefacts, were hidden somewhere, by the Priests before the terrible destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans, in 70AD /or CE - the Common Era, almost 2,000years ago. But no one knows for certain what happened to them. Some people call the ‘Second Temple’ in Jerusalem - ‘Herod’s Temple’, as he spent 46 years working on doing a ‘makeover’ (renovating and enlarging) the rather plain Temple that was built, when the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. But there have only been two proper Temples in Jerusalem, the first one built by King Solomon around 966 BCE, the second one built in the time of Ezra and the prophet Haggai, was completed in 516BCE.

[One day there will be a Third glorious Temple, on the Temple Mount, for the entire world to admire! We will direct your search to learn more about this later on.] In the meantime there are many theories about where the valuable artefacts from the Second Temple are, but no one really knows where these treasures are now. Several exciting books have been written about them. [A new best selling novel, ‘The Copper Scroll’, by Joel Rosenberg has raised more interest, recently. See http://joelrosenberg.blogspot.com]

But, copies of some of the most precious, valuable Treasures have not been lost.
In our experience of some very happy, friendly contacts with Jewish friends, we have realised that somehow, (and we do understand the reasons) –sadly - many of them have not ever really understood what:

The real ~ ‘greatest treasure in the whole world’
 ~ is! It is really “a closed Book” to them!


We are talking about the Sacred Scrolls that made
up all the books of the Tanakh [Holy Scriptures] usually
written on parchment in early centuries BCE.

Of course the best and most ancient (original) scrolls of the Tanakh, would have been kept in the Temple, and were possibly hidden or destroyed in 70 CE. These were written on parchment, in very ancient Hebrew, which used consonants only. Because the readers of that time spoke that form of Hebrew, they knew exactly how the words should be pronounced. Only very highly qualified experts can read this now, but to this day the whole of the Torah has never been changed, (or had vowel points added.) This has preserved its integrity and accuracy.

However about 500 centuries after the destruction of the Temple, because the Jewish people were being scattered and the pronunciation of words were changing, the leading Rabbis felt it was necessary to insert vowel points and cantillation marks for the books of the Tanakh. This form of the Tanakh was called the 'Masoretic Text'. However even this is very difficult for modern, ordinary people to read. But now Jewish and other scholars have made it available by translations into modern languages. This means that many miracles have happened to make sure the real treasure of the Holy Scriptures have not only never been lost, they are here, now as valuable as ever in the 21st century!

WHAT MAKES THE SCROLLS OF THE TANAKH, ‘A PRICELESS TREASURE’?
It is not their ancient dating, or the amazing way they were written by hand, and decorated with great skill, that made them very valuable. Not their historical value as ‘history books’, nor the fact that they were absolutely word perfect from the original writings going back centuries, copied and recopied, –very, very carefully – (not one little mistake allowed, or the scroll was destroyed and a new start had to be made)!

One way the supervisors of the Scribes could check the accuracy of the copies was to count every letter! For instance - Genesis has 78,064 letters. This was called 'building a fence around' which is the root word for 'Masoretic'.

The Tanakh is priceless because it has been accurately
preserved for thousands of years. The precisely written contents,
and the original messages of the Tanakh have never been lost, so the
incomparable value of the Tanakh is available to Jews (and others) today!
But most important of all is: The Holy Scripture is
very, very precious because of what it says!

But – you might say – “I’m a Secular Jew, what does the Tanakh have to do with me?”
Well to quote the Rabbi Sherwin Wine again – (the Founder of the first ‘Humanistic Judaistic’ organisation in 1963), “A Jew is someone who identifies with the history, culture and future of the Jewish People.”
[From web site of the ‘Society for Humanistic Judaism’ – Philosophy.]

However, there is no better or more accurate way to discover any real facts about the “history, culture & future” of the Jewish people, than by seeking the information in the original, ancient, scientifically verifiable book about the history, culture & future of the Jewish people, which is in the ‘Holy Writings’ of the Tanakh.

May we emphasise, that this information is not only in the Torah,
 (precious though that is) nor in the Mishnah, or Talmud or Gamarrah
 – but ONLY in the whole of the Tanakh.

The good part is that the whole of the Tanakh has been made relevant to the people who need it!
You see, 70 Jewish scholars started the first translation of the Holy Scriptures into Greek, (from the ancient Hebrew) about 250 years BCE, but it was completed soon after. It was because the Jews that had been in Exile in Babylon, had trouble understanding the ancient Hebrew text. Many of the returnees, would have only been familiar with the Aramaic Hebrew, (which developed in Babylon) and the Greek language. Alexander the Great had revised his own Greek language into ‘Koine (common) Greek’ and made it the ‘international’ language for trade and easier administration over his extensive empire, (which included the Province the Romans later called ‘Palestine’).

So most Jewish people from 156 years BCE, (especially the men), would know these Scriptures of the Greek Tanakh – called the *‘Septuagint’ - because of the 70 Jewish Holy men who translated it. Even working-class Jewish men would have learnt most of it as children, being the main type of schooling at that time. At the same time the religious scholars would have studied the ancient Hebrew version very intensely.

A Hebrew Book treasured by millions of people!
If Jewish people had mixed (in the last 160 years) with the Jewish (and other) people who do really love reading the translations of the Tanakh, for themselves, (mostly just ordinary men & women), they might come to understand its tremendous significance!

I know a Jewish man in the USA, who is reading right through the Tanakh in Hebrew for the second time, and has been studying it for 44 years! He really treasures it. Historically, it was the very first book to be printed in Claxton’s English printing press.

Of course I’m writing about the millions of (mainly) Evangelical Christians who now treasure the fact that they can read the Tanakh in their own language – that is the translations of the Tanakh from Hebrew, with help from the Septuagint* and Masoretic Jewish versions. The best-known ones are in English. [O.K. – You are not ‘religious’ – but it’s classical literature!]

One recommended (recently revised) one for Jewish people
is called, “TaNaKH, The Holy Scriptures”. It is published by the
Jewish Publication Society of America. It comes in 7 bindings.

Or if you don’t want English only, my friend recommends, an
inter linear version, {maybe hard to find now] Kohlenberger Edition,
published by Zondervan. But please find a Tanakh – and ENJOY
!

A BIG surprise for most Secular Jews!
Many Jewish people do not realise the so-called ‘Christian Bible’ includes the whole of the Tanakh, with exactly the same wording, (with only a few books placed in a different order). This is one area, where Jews & true Christians tend to be different. To many Jews the Tanakh, that you may learn a little bit about at school is just another (hard to read book), but to many true Christians, it is the most precious & meaningful Book ~ ever! Our Jewish friends have explained that often (in Israel) it is actually only available in older Hebrew, which in the main is different from modern Hebrew, so it is like someone reading an ‘Old English’ book by Shakespeare or Charles Dickens! So we do understand modern Jewish people not reading it.

ALL TRUE BIBLICAL BELIEFS ABOUT
GOD AND LIFE, JEWISH HISTORY AND CULTURE
ARE FOUND EXCLUSIVELY IN THE TANAKH.


Without the historical accounts, commandments, and prophecies
of the Tanakh there is NO genuine understanding of what it means to be
‘Jewish’. No making sense of the past or the future!


If a truly Jewish person does not accept the Tanakh – even as a History book –
they really have no basis for the existence of themselves or any other Jewish person.

Any real, meaningful Jewish Culture comes out of Biblical Judaism, (NOT modern Talmudic Judaism) and its roots are in firmly in the Tanakh. Jewish history, and the present and future existence of Jewish people cannot be separated from the Torah, the Writings & the Prophetical books!

The Tanakh is the oldest, most special and unique History Book in the entire world.

SO THIS IS AN AREA OF KNOWLEDGE WE WOULD LIKE ALL JEWISH PEOPLE TO TREASURE!
(Even honest, truth loving, Secular Jews.)

It would be good if the first essential Jewish Belief for all Jewish people was: IN THE SUPREMELY UNIQUE, ANCIENT, INERRANT, (i.e. accurate) BOOKS OF THE TANAKH.
[This statement is based on scientific, analytical documentation.
Search Wikipedia, for ‘Biblical archaeology’ or ‘Biblical History’.
For one of the best books, look for 'Signature of God' by Grant R. Jeffrey, Frontier Research Publications.]

Secular Jews, who really want facts to base their thinking on, should consider these truths, and there is no reason why the facts, concepts, and over-all teachings of the Tanakh cannot be adopted by genuine, honest truth seekers, for themselves. If you want to consider what these basic facts are you can see them
here. You do not have to be ‘religious’ ~ only realistic!

SOME BASIC FACTS ABOUT THE TANAKH AS LITERATURE.

The composition or ‘canon’ of the Tanakh.
The 36 books that make up the original Hebrew scrolls that form the Tanakh, are a joining together of three kinds of written books, which is how the name ‘TaNaKh’ became the name of the Hebrew Holy Scriptures. However it is really a collection of 36 books, each with separate names.

The only minor difference between the Hebrew Tanakh & the Christian Bible is the order and number of books, as the books of Samuel; Kings & Chronicles are not divided into 2 parts.

How it is made up.

  • The word ‘TaNaKh’ represents the 3 main sections of these books which a really like a library of books. The ‘T’ represents the Torah, being the first 5 books, then the ‘N’ stands for the 12 Prophetic books, Nevi’im; & the ‘K’ means the Ketuvim or ‘Writings’, being the historical narratives or story.

  • The sections are, equally important to the whole collection, though the Religious Scholars have made the reading from the Torah the first, main section of readings in the Synagogue, while parts of the remainder of the Tanakh which have been chosen to be read with the designated Torah portion each Shabbat, is called the ‘Haftarah’.

  • There are other 'grouped' or selected names for other readings, such as the 5 (khamesh) megillot are Esther, Lamentations, Ruth, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes - forming one group. Psalms and Proverbs are not included in the 'Haftarah' but are used separately, such as in the Prayer Book.

  • The true Tanakh does not include any other books, (such as writings called the ‘Apocrypha’).

  • Twice in the Torah warnings were given that no additions to the commandments as written in the Torah, should be made to the original scrolls. All instruction needed is there. This is because the Author wanted the principles & intentions to be guided by true inner attitudes of people’s hearts as they thought about G-d as someone to love & please!

  • Some Biblical scholars would suggest that the Religious teachers in the period after the Exile, added the Oral laws, (which were written much later as Halakha Laws), & even the commentaries on these laws – should not be regarded as essential to Jewish beliefs or practices. There is no evidence that they were given at the same time as the Torah in Moses day, or at Creation as some writers (15% of Ultra-orthodox) claim.

The reliability of the Tanakh.

Hundreds of books, videos & films have been produced to describe this ‘Bible’ of the Jewish people, & there is not room in this article to explain more than a few points. But many people have little idea of its real value!

[This article aims to be a summary only, or introduction
to these subjects to be enlarged in another paper.]

The Bible is the most studied, most treasured,
and special book ever written.

More basic facts that should be noted, about the Tanakh.

[Only a very few given here out of many.]

1.  It was written by Jews, for Jews, about Jewish/ Hebrew people & the events of their history in many different circumstances & even about their future. [See point 9.] Jewish person, ~ it’s YOUR Book!

2.  It was written almost entirely in Hebrew, except for a few chapters in ‘Aramaic Hebrew’ in Daniel, and a small part of the book of Ezra, about the Jews returning to Israel from exile in Babylon where they developed the 'Aramaic' form of Hebrew. [It is likely Jews used this language for several centuries.]

3.  It actually covers a period of some 4,000 years or more, (as no one knows for sure the date of Creation, as described in B’resheet/Genesis chapter one. But was written, or edited by approximately 20 different writers or editors, over 3,000 years (approximately), yet is in agreement in all but the most minor details! [Now that’s a miracle!] There are many books written about the subject of ‘the Bible’ – check for yourself.

4.  It has survived in the original languages of (ancient) Hebrew and Aramaic, and format, (number and order of the books chosen to be together) for 2,400 years since it was ‘completed’, i.e. around 432 BCE. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai set up the ‘School of Jewish Law’ defining the Canon (the correct and spiritually complete books to be included) of the Tanakh after 70CE/AD. [The Tanakh’s survival inspite of times of neglect, or efforts to destroy or discredit it is truly miraculous.]

5.  The Jewish scribes, down through the Millennia went to great trouble to copy exactly every word, when making new copies so that the accuracy and reliability of retaining the very original words can be trusted.

6.  One proof of the accuracy of the copies being reliable, has been demonstrated by the discovery of the most ancient copies in existence, now called ‘The Dead Sea Scrolls’. These copies were found in 1947 in Qumran in Israel but were written approximately 250 years BCE! The scholars who have studied them found that they absolutely vindicated the accuracy of the subsequent/ later copies. It is the most accurately preserved Book in the world and is a great tribute to Jewish scribes & Judaism. [No wonder modern Israel has preserved the Scrolls in the museum of ‘The Shrine of the Book’.]

7.  The first translation into another language was undertaken by 70 Jewish scholars into Greek, some 250 years BCE. [Gradually Christian scholars have translated the Bible, into several thousand languages.]

8.  However the ancient Hebrew Script has been retained throughout history, and even in modern printed copies, though reading the Masoretic Hebrew Tanakh is very difficult for today’s Jews, who now use a modern form of Hebrew for use in every-day life. [But accurate modern translations are available in many languages. Please look for one in your language.]

9.  Every prophetic event, (except the 20% that are still future) has been fulfilled in every detail given.

10.  Almost every ‘scientific’ explanation it makes as part of it’s poetry or story, - that can be scientifically tested, (by modern equipment and rules of physics, etc) has been proved to be accurate, even though it was not written as ‘scientific’ literature. [A few statements are still waiting to be proven scientifically.]

11.  Many historical details have been proven to be true, by archaeological finds, or comparative, written historical records by non-Biblical kings, recorders, or contemporary people. It suggests all are accurate. See here.

12.  Thousands of good people have suffered bravely or even died, because of what the Bible Teaches, and it has been found to have answers to every problem and question, people have.

Conclusion: Every Jewish person especially,
should treasure their own, unique, eternal Book!

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SO THIS IS ONE OF THREE STRANDS OF THE GOLDEN CORD
OF JEWISH PEOPLES’ KNOWLEDGE, WHICH IS VITAL,
FOR ALL JEWISH PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT AND ACCEPT!

  • If these facts were understood, it would bring true shalom, under every circumstance, FOR EVERY Jewish person in the world!

  • Accepting them would be the life-giving restoration to the ‘Hatikva’ of a glorious destiny and future for the whole of ISRA’EL!

  • Finding ADONAI’S way, (and not their own way), would be the key to true fulfillment of their true JEWISH destiny!

  • Any genuine, Jewish person has the right, (perhaps the obligation) to read the Tanakh in a translation into the language, that they understand the best.

  • It is not necessary to be ‘religious’ to accept the main principles that are in the Tanakh. G-d looks at our heart attitudes!

  • It is not true that the Tanakh cannot be understood without a specific teacher to explain it.

THE MAIN MESSAGES OF THE TANAKH.
Here is only one statement, (of very many), from the Tanakh, for you:
It is taken from the story about the prophet Sh’muel/ Samuel looking for the next king for Israel, after the first king (Saul/ Sha’ul) - failed.

ADONAI said to Sh’muel, ‘Do not consider his [a man’s] appearance
or his height. ADONAI does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance,
but ADONAI looks at the heart’.

  • In the end, the main message of the Tanakh is that ADONAI – The LORD God loves and cares about each individual’s attitude to Him, as long as it is in truth & humility – simply accepting what ~ God says for themselves.

  • We believe the human brain; with the abilities to comprehend facts and make choices are special gifts to mankind – (men & women equally), to be used well and wisely by every one.

  • We writers of this site, feel that there is a whole area of good knowledge available to secular Jews, who are looking for something realnot rituals and rules and outward forms of ‘religion’.

  • And a personal, truthful, sensible, meaningful –even practical, written basis for life, is available!

About the past. It would be good if today’s Jewish people would think carefully about the words of, not just the Torah, but also the amazing historical accounts, verifiable details, stories, poems and prophecies of the rest of the Tanakh.

About the future. It has the most exciting, even detailed prophecies about all Jewish people and Israel’s bright future!

For my life now. It deserves to be read far more than the Talmud or the Mishnah. It should be and can be the best and in fact the only guide to true life, that anyone needs.

We also can make a definite promise,
Based on all the truth we have in the Tanakh,
also in knowing about the God of Isra’el,
And the fact that out of all the nations that have come
- or gone - the JEWISH People have survived, we know that
all Jewish people will soon ~ in the years ahead
~ will reach The glorious Goal destined for them!

We will be happy to enlarge on the fuller aspects of these facts,
using verses from the TANAKH, in other articles.
Or you are welcome to contact us, with any questions or comments.

Our next discussion paper may have some useful ideas for you.
Please see it here.