Friday, May 11, 2012

THE CORRUPTION OF TORAH & Arab Jews son of God [Ezra (Uzayr)]






THE CORRUPTION OF TORAH

Torah
Many Jews and Christians maintain that the Torah we have today represents the words of God as revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai. The Jews were entrusted with obeying and preserving the Torah of Moses. God commanded them not to corrupt His message:
“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.” [Deuteronomy 12:32]
The purpose of this article is to show that far from being the pure word of God, the Torah that we have today has in fact been tampered with by man.
Please note that it is a pillar of faith for us as Muslims to believe that Moses, a great Prophet of God, received revelation. As will soon be demonstrated however, we also believe from both a theological and historical point of view, that the Torah we have today is not the same as what was originally revealed to Moses, peace be upon him.
WHAT IS TORAH
The Old Testament we have today is a collection of books consisting of the Law, stories of the Prophets and various other writings such as the Psalms. The Hebrew word ‘Torah’ literally means instruction or teaching. It is used by Jews and Christians to refer to the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). They believe these were dictated to Moses by God Almighty.
WHICH VERSION OF TORAH
The first problem we must deal with when discussing the Torah is the fact that there are many different versions being used today by Jews and Christians. Here are some examples of texts that contain different versions of the Torah. They are listed in order of oldest surviving manuscript evidence [1]:
  • Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) – These are a collection of texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 inside caves near the Dead Sea. The texts are of great religious significance because they include the earliest known surviving manuscripts of the Old Testament but many are fragmentary. The scrolls date from approximately 150 BCE – 70 CE.
  • Septuagint (LXX) – This is the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament. It was completed by Jewish scholars in the late 2nd century BCE and the oldest manuscript evidence is the 2nd century BCE. Relatively complete manuscripts of the LXX include the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus of the 4th century CE. These are the oldest surviving nearly-complete manuscripts of the Old Testament in any language.
  • Masoretic Text (MT) – This is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Old Testament. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century CE. This version is favoured by mainstream Judaism.
  • Samaritan Torah (ST) – This is the Samaritan version of the Torah written in the Samaritan alphabet which is derived from the paleo-Hebrew alphabet used by the Israelite community prior to the Babylonian captivity. The Samaritans represent a sect of Judaism that split off from the mainstream. There are still a few hundred Samaritans living in modern-day Israel. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 11th century CE.
The reason why these are classified as different versions, as opposed to different translations, is because there are many thousands of variations that exist between these texts. So how can scholars identify the version of the Torah that is closest to the original Torah given to Moses? Unfortunately it’s not as simple as just taking the version that has the oldest surviving manuscripts. This would be the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), but the problem is that the DSS are highly fragmentary and only contain small portions of the Torah. Nor can we take the version with the earliest complete manuscript tradition, which would be the Septuagint (LXX), as this contains verses that are different to the earlier DSS. The Masoretic Text (MT), which is very late in terms of manuscripts compared to the LXX, actually agrees with the DSS in some places where the LXX disagrees. Here are some examples:
Torah variants
In the example above, the 32nd chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy is compared between the DSS, LXX and MT. Two verses are compared, 32:8 and 32:43. Even though we are comparing the same chapter of Deuteronomy, the texts never completely agree in all verses. Sometimes the DSS agree with the MT over the LXX, as in verse 32:43 [2], and sometimes the DSS agree with the LXX over the MT, as in verse 32:8 [3].
Unfortunately no one knows with certainty which version is the closest to the original Torah given to Moses. The proof of this is the way in which scholars of the Bible construct modern translations. Every modern translation of the Bible is essentially an eclectic translation because it combines from the different versions of the Torah. Sometimes scholars go with manuscripts of the MT, sometimes the LXX and sometimes the ST. By borrowing from the different manuscripts they are essentially creating a new Torah that never existed before!
SOME EXAMPLES OF TEXTUAL VARIATIONS
There are thousands of variations that exist between the different versions. Most are minor variations such as the spelling of words, grammatical constructions and discrepancies in numbers. Let’s take a look at some examples by comparing the Septuagint Torah (LXX), Masoretic Torah (MT) and Samaritan Torah (ST):
Genesis 5:31
LXX: All the days of Lamech were 753 years…
MT: All the days of Lamech were 777 years…
ST: All the days of Lamech were 653 years…
Exodus 12:40
LXX: Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt and Canaan was 430 years.
MT: Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt [only] was 430 years.
ST: (Same as LXX)
However, there are also variants that are significant. Here are some examples:
Genesis 16:12
LXX: [Ishmael] shall be a wild man…
MT: [Ishmael] shall be a wild man…
ST: [Ishmael] shall be a fruitful man…
In the verses above, it makes a big difference whether Ishmael is described as being wild (a possibly derogatory term) versus fruitful (which is a positive statement and would support the prophecy in Torah about Ishmael being made a great nation, see Genesis 17:20).
Deuteronomy 32:8
LXX: …when He [God] separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God.
MT: …when He [God] divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.
ST: (Same as MT)
In the verses above, it appears that either the authors behind the Masoretic Text and Samaritan Torah changed the reference to “sons of Israel” to make the Torah more Israelite-centric, or the author of the Septuagint changed the reference to “angels of God” to make the Torah less Israelite-centric.
Before anyone makes the claim that they have the original Torah, they must first deal with the problem of establishing which version of the Torah, if any, is authoritative.
CONTRADICTIONS
Even if we could somehow resolve the problem of which version of the Torah is authoritative, we would still have the problem of contradictions within the text. Here is one example:
It is clear from the account of Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis 21:14-19 that Ishmael was a young child, perhaps a baby, when they were sent into the desert:
Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes.
Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.
Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
[Genesis 21:14-19]
It is possible to calculate the approximate age of Ishmael when he was sent into the desert with his mother. According to Genesis 16:16, Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born:
Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
And according to Genesis 21:5, Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born:
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
It follows that Ishmael was already fourteen years old when his younger brother Isaac was born. According to Genesis 21:8-10 the desert incident took place after Isaac was weaned:
The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son…”
According to tradition, Isaac was two years old when he was weaned. Three years is the age of weaning mentioned in 2 Chronicles 31:16 and 2 Maccabees 7:27. Thus, it follows that when Hagar and Ishmael were taken away Ishmael was a fully grown teenager, around sixteen or seventeen years old. The problem is that the profile of Ishmael in Genesis 21:14-19 is a small child and not a fully grown teenager:
  • Remember that it is Hagar that carried all the supplies into the desert (Genesis 21:14). If Ishmael were a teenager then surely Abraham would have made him carry at least some of the supplies to lessen the burden on his mother.
  • She put the boy under the bush (Genesis 21:15). Now the original Hebrew used is the word “shalak” which has the meaning ‘to throw, cast, hurl, fling’ acording to Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon. One does not “throw”, “cast”, “hurl” or “fling” a teenager, especially when they are a woman and suffering from the fatigue of a harsh desert environment.
  • Even though it was Ishmael that was crying, God consoles the mother (Genesis 21:17). This could be taken to imply that Ishmael was too young to converse with.
  • She is asked to lift up the boy (Genesis 21:18). Again, one would not expect a woman suffering from the fatigue of a harsh desert environment to be able to lift up a fully grown teenager.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the Septuagint version of the Torah has the following for Genesis 21:14:
And Abraam rose up in the morning and took loaves and a skin of water, and gave them to Agar, and he put the child on her shoulder, and sent her away, and she having departed wandered in the wilderness near the well of the oath.
There is simply no way that a woman would be able to carry both the supplies and a fully grown teenager on her shoulders, so the Septuagint is even more explicit in conveying that Ishmael was a young child when he was sent into the desert.
All of these points imply that Ishmael was a small child and not a fully grown teenager, so there is a clear contradiction in the text.
If the original Torah is divinely inspired and has been preserved, then we should not expect find any contradictions within the text as God’s words are perfect. Since there are contradictions present in the text then this represents additional evidence that the Torah has been corrupted.
NO EXPLICIT CLAIMS OF MOSAIC AUTHORSHIP
Jews and Christians believe that the Torah we have today represents the original words of God as dictated to Moses, who wrote them down. What we find when we examine the different versions of the Torah is that there is no claim within the Torah itself that Moses wrote all 5 books. To the contrary, there are strong indications that they were written by someone other than Moses.
For example, there is a consistent use of the third person narrative throughout the Book of Exodus:
Then He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. [Exodus 3:6]
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” [Exodus 3:14]
Clearly, a third person such as a scribe or chronicler wrote these accounts, and not Moses himself. If Moses had been the writer then we would see the first person narrative being used.
Another issue is that of anachronisms. These are details that do not fit in with the supposed time of writing. For example, here the death of Moses happens before the book of Deuteronomy ends:
Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. [Deuteronomy 34:7]
Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. [Deuteronomy 34:10]
TRANSMISSION PROBLEMS
There is a 1,000 year missing link in the transmission of the Torah. The Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest manuscript evidence that we have for the Torah, date from around 150 BCE – 70 CE. The scrolls include fragments of all 5 books of the Torah. When we consider that Moses lived around 1300 BCE this means that we don’t have any manuscript evidence until around 1000 years after Moses.
Moreover, within the Old Testament itself there is strong evidence of transmission breaks:
Transmission break #1 – Sometime between Moses (approx. 1300 BCE) and King Josiah (approx. 600 BCE)
Hilkiah the high priest discovers the lost Torah:
Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. [2 Kings 22:8]
King Josiah tears his clothes when he learns of this:
When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. [2 Kings 22:11]
Now this is the key point. After reading the Torah, they proceed to remove all aspects of idolatry and the occult:
Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfil the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the Lord. [2 Kings 23:24]
Now, if the Torah had never been lost, then they would have all known about the prohibition on idolatry in Deuteronomy 12:2. Clearly, they had not seen the Torah in a very long time.
Transmission break #2 – Sometime between King Josiah (approx. 600 BCE) and Ezra (approx. 400 BCE)
After the return to Jerusalem from exile, Ezra the scribe reads the Torah to the Israelites:
All the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel. [Nehemiah 8:1]
He reads to them details of how they are to celebrate a particular festival:
They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month [Nehemiah 8:14]
We are told that they had not celebrated the festival in this manner for a very long time:
The whole company that had returned from exile built temporary shelters and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great. [Nehemiah 8:17]
Whatever Ezra had been a scribe of before had not included important parts of the Torah. This is because the commandments for the celebration are found in Leviticus 23:42. Clearly then they had not seen the book of Leviticus in a very long time.
MORAL FLAWS AT ODDS WITH THE PURPOSE OF TORAH
The Old Testament paints a very noble and honourable concept of Prophethood:
“…Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” [2 Chronicles 20:20]
 “Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.” [2 Chronicles 24:19]
Unfortunately the Torah presents the Prophets in an extremely negative light. No sin is too great for them to commit, nor is any vice beyond their lowly desires (you can read more about this here).
Therefore, believing that the modern Torah is uncorrupted would mean that we accept that the great Prophets of God are corrupted. This is not a viable position given the noble profile of Prophethood as defined in the Old Testament itself.
NEW TESTAMENT AUTHORS AFFIRM CORRUPTION OF THE TORAH
When you read a number of Torah citations in the New Testament, the New Testament writers are actually quoting from the Greek version of the Torah, the Septuagint. Here is one example:
And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” [Hebrews 1:6]
The above quotation is made by Paul in the New Testament and is citing Deuteronomy 32:43. Let’s compare this verse in the Masoretic and Septuagint versions of the Torah (please click on picture to enlarge):
MT vs LXX
Notice that the Masoretic Text has no mention of angels worshipping God, this is missing in this version of the Torah. However the Greek Septuagint does contain the quote. This is just one example of many where the New Testament authors favoured the Greek Septuagint over the Hebrew Masoretic Text. Most of the Old Testament was written originally in Hebrew, so it may come as a surprise to Christian readers to learn that this Greek version of the Old Testament, rather than a Hebrew text, is referenced in the New Testament. The question then naturally arises, where is this original Hebrew text that the Greek Septuagint is based on? From the point of view of Christians, this original Hebrew text must be important if the inspired writers of the New Testament chose to quote from the Septuagint. The answer is that we have lost this earlier Hebrew text. We have lost a version of the Torah that the New Testament authors believed were the inspired words of God.
JUDE AND THE LOST BOOK OF ENOCH
One of the startling discoveries among the Dead Sea Scrolls were the presence of apocryphal texts not found in the modern Old Testament. In 1956, during the excavation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a book called “1 Enoch” (also known as The Book of Enoch) was discovered.
This presents a big problem for those Christians that believe the whole of the Bible to be inspired. The Book of Jude in the New Testament actually quotes from the lost Book of Enoch:
It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” [Jude 1:14-15]
The above verses, a quotation from Enoch, are not to be found anywhere in the modern Bible. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, Enoch 1:9 says this:
And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of holy ones to execute judgement upon all, and to destroy [all] the ungodly: and to convict all flesh of all the works [of their ungodliness] which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners [have spoken] against Him.
So here we have a situation of a canonical book (Jude) quoting a non-canonical book (Enoch). Either the Old Testament is incomplete or the New Testament author made a mistake in quoting from a non-canonical text. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which is the case.
HEBREW AS A LOST LANGUAGE
So far we have restricted our discussion to manuscripts and texts. What about Hebrew as a language, is it important that the language has been preserved? The answer is a resounding “Yes”, because you can’t separate language from Scripture. If we were to lose the Hebrew language, then we would also lose the Torah. What use is having the perfect preservation of the content of a Scripture if you have lost the meanings of the words it is written in? You wouldn’t be able to properly understand the Scripture; it would be like having a lock without the key.
When we examine the Judaic tradition we learn that Hebrew was a dead language from the second century CE until the foundation of Israel. Ever since the spoken usage of Mishnaic Hebrew ended in the second century CE, Hebrew had not been spoken as a mother tongue [4].
Even though the Torah was originally revealed to Moses over three thousand years ago, the first Hebrew lexicon wasn’t created until the tenth century [5] – some three hundred years after the Qur’anic revelation. They don’t have any dictionaries older than that. They have oral traditions, such as the Mishnah, where they studied the Torah and the meanings of words, but they did not have a systematic lexicography that the Muslims have. This idea seems to have been borrowed from the Muslims. It’s a known fact that in Hebrew studies, Hebrew scholars are forced to go to classical Arabic dictionaries to see what the Arabs had to say about the roots of words. This is because Arabic and Hebrew are both Semitic languages and share many words with similar meaning. This allows Hebrew scholars to get a more ancient understanding of their own root structures [6].
WHAT THE QUR’AN HAS TO SAY ABOUT THE TORAH
Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah, and they were witnesses thereto… [Chapter 5, verse 44]
And when the anger subsided in Moses, he took up the tablets; and in their inscription was guidance and mercy for those who are fearful of their Lord. [Chapter 7, verse 154]
The verses above show that the Qur’an speaks of the original revelation given to Moses, peace be upon him, in an extremely positive light. The original Torah is described as being “guidance”, “light” and a “mercy”, just as all divinely inspired Scriptures are. The Qur’an also confirms that the Israelites, who were entrusted with safeguarding the Torah, were responsible for corrupting it:
So woe to those who write the “scripture” with their own hands, then say, “This is from Allah ,” in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn. [Chapter 2, verse 79]
This verse of the Qur’an would have sounded like a conspiracy theory to most Jews and Christians living in the 7th century. Today there is a remarkable convergence of what the Qur’an says about the Torah and what modern scholarship says. Today we see this Qur’anic verse with its historical insight vindicated by the Dead Sea scrolls and other manuscript discoveries. Today various Biblical scholars are affirming that people wrote it with their own hands and attributed it to Moses and thus to God.
CONCLUSION
I invite my fellow Jews and Christians to ponder the following point. If God wanted you, and indeed the whole of mankind, to have the original Torah, then why didn’t He preserve it? As has been demonstrated, textual variants, contradictions and unknown authorship are just some of the serious issues that plague the modern versions of the Torah. Therefore we can only conclude that the modern day Torah is not the divine words of God as originally revealed to Moses, peace be upon him, but rather the corrupted words of man.
The answer to the question of why God did not preserve the original revelation given to Moses is that it was only ever meant to be a time bound message which served as a temporary placeholder until the coming of the Qur’an. It is only the Qur’an, God Almighty’s last and final revelation to mankind, that is timeless. God has promised mankind that He will protect and preserve the Qur’an:
“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” [Qur’an, chapter 15, verse 9]
Readers are invited to learn more about the miraculous preservation of the Qur’an here.
References
1 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_manuscript#Extant_Tanakh_manuscripts
2 – Deut. 32:43 in the LXX contains the text “And let all the angels of God be strong in him” which is not found in either the DSS or MT. See – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint#Dead_Sea_Scrolls
3 – Deut. 32:8 in the MT reads as “…the sons of Israel” whereas the DSS and LXX read as “… the angels of God”. See footnote in NIV Bible – http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+32%3A8&version=NIV
4 – A Short History of the Hebrew Language, Chaim Rabin, Jewish Agency and Alpha Press, Jerusalem, 1973.
5 – Sa’adyah Gaon (892 – 942) a religious leader in present-day Iraq, author of the first grammar and dictionary of the Hebrew language.
6 – Kaltner, John, The Use of Arabic in Biblical Hebrew Lexicography (Washington, D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1996).


MOSES (PBUH) WARNS US OF TORAH CORRUPTION that later Jews will try to erase the name of Muhammad (PBUH):

Deuteronomy 31:29) allegedly has Moses speaking "For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt...because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands.".

Jeremiah 8:8-9 "...Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood...they have rejected the word of the Lord...",


BIBLE TELLS US OF ITS CORRUPTION

( Mark 7:6,7,8), "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'[b] 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

Mathew 15:7-9) 7 Ye hypocrites, well did isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men

EVEN NEWLY DISCOVERED GOSPELS TELL US OF CORRUPTION:

Codex Vaticanus
Is one of the oldest extant manuscripts of the Bible. It is slightly older than Codex Sinaiticus, both of which were probably transcribed in the 4th century
On page 1512, the beginning of Hebrews, an curious note appears, which is mentioned by Bruce M. Metzger in his NTTC book. A later (minuscule aera) scribe complains about a change of the text of Heb 1:3:
"Fool and knave, can't you leave the old reading alone and not alter it!"

Courtesy : http://manyprophetsonemessage.com/2014/05/14/the-corruption-of-the-torah/






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Ezra (Uzayr) The ‘Son Of God’

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
This article examines the alleged claim made by critics that Quran 9:30 contains a historical error. This is in regards to the Quranic passage about Jews taking Ezra (Uzair) as the son of God (Q. 9:30).
The claim by critics is summarised as such:
– Ezra has never been called ‘son of God’ by Jews
– The Old Testament never mentions anything of such.
– In addition, the verse (9:30) charges all Jews with such a belief. Therefore, the Quran is historically inaccurate to assert that Jews called Ezra the ‘son of God’.
Let us consider the following:
1. The Quran mentions nothing about all Jews believing Ezra to be the ‘Son of God’.
2. The Quran never claims that this is in the Old Testament.
3. The verse may indicate to critics that it is referring to all Jews, but this is not what the intended meaning is. For example, let’s read this verse:
Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. – Quran 9:29
If one reads the above verse at face value, they would think the verse sanctions the killing of Jews and Christians at all times. However, when we read why the verse was revealed, in its historical context, the passage was sent down to Prophet Muhammed (p) in order to fight the Byzantine (Roman) empire who had mobilised troops in order to exterminate the Muslims. Read the following two articles on the verse (9:29) for more info: click here and here. Similarly, there is a verse (and other verses) in the Bible which says:
“Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.” – Titus 1:12
Should we say that ‘ALL’ Cretans are liars, ‘cruel animals’ throughout history to today? No, of course not. Sometimes certain words get used and it may indicate that it refers to all people, but the intended meaning is that it is only speaking to a certain, specific group of people. There are many more verses similar to the above that I can use from the Bible, but I think this verse is sufficient enough to show that a verse does not always refer to all people even if it may seem so reading it.
Now, let us turn to the term ‘Son of God’. Throughout the Old Testament, there are passages where God (YHWH) has Son(s) or even daughters. Anyone familiar with the Old Testament would come to realise that the term son of God was used frequently by Jews. Whether they took the term in its literal sense or figuratively is unclear. But what we do know as a matter of fact is that the term did not denote how Christians understood it in later centuries. Moreover, being called the ‘Son of God’ before the Christian era was a sign that the person was pious, that they were a righteous person or used for a person who has a close relationship with God Almighty. Let’s take a look at some instances in the Old Testament where the term has been used:
“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” – Deuteronomy 32:8 
And
 “The LORD saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters.” – Deuteronomy 32:19
And
“Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.” – Psalms 29:1 
This brings us to ask the following: If normal people are called by the term ‘son of God’, wouldn’t Ezra have more of a right to be called by that? Did he not bring the Torah back? Wasn’t Ezra held in high esteem by all Jews? Did they not compare Ezra to Moses? The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 21b goes as far as to say that if Ezra was born before Moses, that Ezra was more worthy of receiving the Torah for Israel:
Talmud Sanhedrin 21b
“It has been taught: Rabbi Jose said: Had Moses not preceded him, Ezra would have been worthy of receiving the Torah for Israel. Of Moses it is written, and Moses went up unto God, and of Ezra it is written, He, Ezra, went up from Babylon. As the going up of the former refers to the [receiving of the] Law, so does the going up of the latter. Concerning Moses, it is stated: And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statuses and judgements; and concerning Ezra, it is stated: For Ezra had prepared his heart to expound the law of the Lord [his God] to do it and to teach Israel statuses and judgements. And even though the Torah was not given through him, its writing was changed through him, as it is written…”
Indeed, Allah has blessed us with Prophet Muhammed (p). If we as Muslims are uncertain of a verse in the Quran, and what it means, God Almighty orders us to go and find out what Prophet (p) had to say (Q. 16:44 and 16:64), so as to get a better understanding. The Hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammed) is clear that this verse was only referring to some group of Jews that had such a belief. Prophet Muhammed (p) says in the following Hadith:
“…Somebody will then announce, ‘Let every nation follow what they used to worship.’ So the companions of the cross will go with their cross, and the idolators (will go) with their idols, and the companions of every god (false deities) (will go) with their god, till there remain those who used to worship Allah, both the obedient ones and the mischievous ones, and SOME OF THE PEOPLE OF THE SCRIPTURE. Then Hell will be presented to them as if it were a mirage. Then it will be said to the Jews, ‘What did you use to worship?’ They will reply, ‘WE USED TO WORSHIP EZRA, THE SON OF ALLAH.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 9, Book 93, Hadith 532)
Prophet Muhammed explains in the above Hadith what will happen to those that followed the truth and those who associated partners with God on the day of judgement. Careful reading of the above Hadith proves that only some people of the scripture will be punished and sent to the hell fire for ascribing the abilities of God to Ezra. The report goes on and mentions that the Jews (people of the scripture) will be asked what they used to worship and they will say they “used to worship Ezra the son of Allah”. Reading the above report carefully, it shows that only some people of the scripture (people of scripture refers to Jews and Christians) will be punished for idolatry.
This hadith proves that only some Jews used to worship Ezra. When I say ‘worship’, I don’t mean in its literal sense such as praying and bowing down, but in the sense of Jews following the judgement Ezra over God’s verses.
This is why the Quran warns Muslims not to act like the people of prior scripture (Ahlul Kitab), for they took their Rabbis and Priests as Lords (Quran 9:31). Not in the sense of literally worshipping them, but because they took their words, interpretations and teachings over what God Almighty revealed. This is what is meant by the verse (9:30) under discussion.
One of the most well-known stories among Christians and Jews is the story of how the Israelites started worshipping a calf. The excuse of the followers was that Moses was taking too long to return and they started wondering if he were ever to return. According the Exodus, the followers of Moses started turning to Aaron and said:
“It appears as if your little brother is not going to return, would you fashion some new gods for us to worship?”
And Aaron obeyed their command and answered them back by saying:
“Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” – Exodus 32:2-5
Why can critics not grasp the fact that there were some Jews who exalted and worshipped Ezra (Uzayr)? Reading Exodus 32, Moses wasn’t even too long away when his followers ended up worshipping a calf. The Jews were with one of the greatest Prophet’s ever lived. Yet, despite this closeness, they had fallen to paganism so quickly, drifting away from the path of monotheism.
In addition, besides the above evidence on Ezra, classical to contemporary commentaries on the Quran have all stated that this belief was only held by some Jews, that the verse (9:30) does not charge all Jews with this. Let’s now turn to the commentaries for the verse:
Classical and Contemporary commentaries on the verse
Ibn Abbas:
“Sallam b. Mishkam, Nu’man b. Abi awfa, shas b. Qays, and Malik al-sayf [Jews] came to the Prophet  Muhammad (p) and said: ‘How can we follow you if you renounce that which came before you. You do not think that Ezra is the son of God?’ So Allah revealed to him the verse.”
Qurtubi:
“‘The Jews say’ is general but it means something more specific because not all of the Jews say this, as when God says: ‘Those people who say’ it does not mean all people. What is meant by the Jews here is Sallam b. Mishkam, Nu’man b. Abi Awfa, Shas b. Qays, and Malik b. al-sayf. They said this to the Prophet Muhammad. Naqqash says there no more Jews remaining who say this, for they died out.”
Dr. Muhammad Mohar Ali
“It is to be noted that this ayah is unanimously regarded as Madinan. Hence the silence of the Jews of the place on the matter is suggestive enough, particularly as they were avowed critics of the Prophet. Not only Al-Baydawi but also other commentators mention that the ayah refers to the views of a particular group of the Hews. For instance, Al-Tabari gives a number of reports together with their chains of narrators specifically mentioning the leading Jews of Madina who considered Uzayr a son of God. The most prominent of those Jews were Finhas, Sullam ibn Mishkam, Nu’man ibn Awfa, Sha’s ibn Qays and Malik ibn al-sayf.” [1]
Maulana Muhammad Ali
“That there was a sect among the Jews who raised Ezra to the dignity of godhead, or son f God, is shown by Muslim historians. Qastalani says, in the Kitan al-Nikah, that there was a party of Jews who held this belief. Nor did the Jews deny this allegation. The Qur’an, too, mentions it only here in connection with the Christian doctrine, never blaming the Jews directly in the many controversies with them in the earlier chapters, and this shows that the Jewish nation as a whole was not guilty of entertaining this belief. Another explanation of the statement made here is the free use of the word son. Elsewhere the Qur’an says of the Jews and Christians that they call themselves the sons of Allah and His beloved ones (5:18), the meaning only being that they considered themselves special favourites of the Divine Being. Hence the belief regarding Ezra may be interpreted in the same light, for there is clear evidence that the Talmudists used very exaggerated language concerning him. Among the prophets of Israel, Ezra was specially honoured. In Rabbinical literature Ezra was considered ‘worthy of being the vehicle of the law, had it not been already given through Moses’. He is regarded and quoted as the type of person most competent and learned in the law. The Rabbis associate his name with several important institutions’ (Jewish Encyclopaedia).” [2]
The Message of The Quran – Muhammad Asad
“As regards the belief attributed to the Jews that R=Ezra (or, in the Arabicised from of this name, ‘Uzayr)) was ‘God’s son’, it is to be noted that almost all classical commentators of the Qur’an agree in that only the Jews of Arabia, and not all Jews, have been thus accused. (According to a tradition on the authority of Ibn Abbas – quoted by Tabari in his commentary on this verse – some of the Jews of Medina once said to Muhammad, ‘How could we follow thee when thou hast forsaken our qiblah and does not consider Ezra a son of God?’) On the other hand, Ezra occupies a unique position in the esteem of all Jews, and has always been praised by them in the most extravagant terms. It was he who restored and codified the Torah after it had been lost during the Babylonian Exile, and ‘edited’ it in more or less the form which it has today; and thus ‘he promoted the establishment of an exclusive, legalistic type of religion that became dominant in later Judaism’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1963, volume. IX, page 15). Ever since then he has been venerated to such a degree that his verdicts on the law of Moses have come to be regarded by the Talmudists as being practically equivalent to the law itself: which, in Qur’anic ideology, amounts to the unforgiveable sin of shirk, inasmuch as it implies the elevation of a human being to the status of a quasi-divine law-giver and the blasphemous attribution to him – albeit metaphorically – of the quality of ‘sonship’ in relation to God. Cf. in this connection Exodus iv, 22-23 (‘Israel is My son’) or Jeremiah xxxi, 9 (‘I am a father to Israel’): expressions to which, because of their idolatrous implications, the Qur’an takes strong exception.”[3]
Besides the above factual evidences presented, there indeed existed a community of Jews which exalted Ezra to such a degree that Allah declared them to be polytheists. The only people who have a problem with the Quranic verse are those who want to undermine the religion of Islam by spreading falsehood to doubt people’s faiths. On the other hand, truthful, honest Jewish scholars do not have a problem with what the Quran charges against the Jews of Arabia. Here are two Jewish Scholars commenting on the verse:
Professor Rabbi Reuven Firestone
“While it is clear that Judaism as a religious civilization does not accept the view that God has partners or children, it is probable that some fringe groups pushed the limits of acceptable belief with the important figure of Ezra. Two ancient and originally Jewish books, for example, associate a near-divine or angelic status to the biblical personages of Ezra and Enoch. These are 4 Ezra, also known as 2 Esdras 14:9, 50 and 2 Enoch 22:11. Although composed by Jews, both of these books were rejected by Judaism and did not become part of its canonical literature. However, because of their parallels with Christian beliefs, some Christian groups adopted and preserved them. It appears as if some members of a Jewish sect espousing these beliefs were living in Medina at the time of the Prophet and expressed such views, which were immediately rejected and countered through the revelation of the Qur’anic verse.” [4]
Professor Moshe Idel
“Indeed in the Qur’an 9:30, some Jews were described critically as believing in a form of sonship relating to the mysterious figure of Uzair, who was designated as the Son of God, and Muslim authors even reported that some Jews worshipped him as such. This means that long before the emergence of the Ashkenazi esoteric literatures to be discussed below in chapter 2, concerning a hypostatic versus a national understanding of sonship, some Jews entertained concepts of or even practiced worship related to figure described as a Son of God. Do these two references to sonship reflect a broader historical situation? At least in principle, we should be aware of the possible role played by the vast poetic literature written in the land of Israel in the early Middle Ages, and its impact on southern Italian poems since the ninth century, and also of the role played by Ashkenazi religious poetry in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, in transmission of mythologoumena from East to West. Since those literatures are quite abstruse, and many of them have not yet been analysed from the conceptual point of view, they may constitute another potential bridge between continents and historical periods.” [5]
In conclusion, the Quranic text 9:30 is in itself an historic proof of the reality that there was a Jewish sect that exalted Ezra (Uzayr) and indeed he was called by the term ‘son Of God’, for why would the Quran speak of something if it never existed? Chapter 9:30 must be accepted at least as an eyewitness in history that there existed a Jewish group which had such beliefs. One must remember that Prophet Muhammed (p) had many enemies, and it would have been not difficult for his enemies to point out that this accusation against Jews in Madina was not true; hence the whole faith (Islam) would have been destroyed. But yet we cannot find a shred of evidence either from Muslim or non-Muslim sources which says anything against the verse. Moreover, the silence of the Jews (living amongst the Prophet) against the verse (9:30), where they resided in Madina is another indicator that this belief was held by them. I propose this question: why isn’t there any book from the time of Prophet Muhammed (p) when he was alive or after his demise (when the companions of Prophet Muhammed was alive) which criticises this verse, by non-Muslims?
References:
[1] The Qur’an And The Orientalists: An Examination of their Main Theories and Assumptions – By Dr. Muhammad Mohar Ali Page 66
[2] The Holy Quran Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction by Maulana Muhammad Ali [Year 2002 Edition] page 404 – 405
[3] The Message of The Quran – By Muhammad Asad page 381
[4] Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims [Copyright 2001 American Jewish Committee] By Professor Rabbi Reuven Firestone Page 35 – 36
[5] Ben Sonship and Jewish Mysticism [Shalom Hartman Institute – Continuum] by Professor Moshe Idel Page 54 – 55 
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