[b-hebrew] New or Renewed in Jeremiah 31:31?

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Fri Apr 13 07:56:55 EDT 2007

Dear Yohanan et al,

So? What's your (linguistic) point? Is the berit xada$ah a renewal of the 
old one or not? And what would Jeremiah have thought about it - which is 
what really matters if we wish to deal with the text and not the theology. 
To a Christian, Jeremiah was talking about Jesus even if he didn't know it. 
That's fine for Christian theology, but really irrelevant to us here. To a 
Orthodox reading in the rabbinic tradition, there had been only one covenant 
with Israel, the Sinai covenant, and since that one was (is) eternal, 
Jeremiah COULD NOT have meant that God would replace it with something new. 
That's also a theological statement. Now let's look at it from a critical 
point of view: was there a single, authoritive "sefer Torah" in Jeremiah's 
time? Maybe only Deuteronomy existed as a written document at the time? Or 
did the words "Torah" and "berit" have more general meanings at the time, 
that of keeping God's commandments in exchange for His promise of the Land? 
Since Israel had (mostly) broken the commandments to such an extent that 
they were about to lose the Land, was Jeremiah not reassuring them that all 
was not lost, that in the future the berit could be reinstated? Now, would 
the new berit be fundamentally different from the old (Christ) or a renewal 
of the old (Ma&iax), that's theology.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Yohanan bin-Dawidh" <yohanan.bin.dawidh at gmail.com>
Cc: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 2:25 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] New or Renewed in Jeremiah 31:31?

> Dear Yigal,
> (I am still getting used to replying using GMail, and I initially sent 
> this
> to Yigal's personal account - I am sorry for doing so. Here, I am 
> reposting
> it to the forum)
> I stopped discussing this subject yesterday afternnon, or at least it was 
> my
> time yesterday afternoon, because as you state - it's been the blind
> preaching to the deaf (in both directions). I long ago decided to not get 
> in
> theological debates per se with Christians, because I know that it is
> fruitless. But I was somewhat inflamed at the discussion on this forum
> between Shoshanna and Harold, among others, so I got in on the 
> coversation.
> There is nothing wrong we with me getting in on the coversation per se, 
> but
> I think I took it in the wrong direction, making it somewhat of a 
> religious
> argument, rather than a linguistical argument.
> I look at context of the text, along with other language idioms, and
> expressions, and draw conclusions from such, and as you mentioned 
> concerning
> the אָרֶץ חֲדָשָׁה and שָׁמַיִם חֲדָשִׁים of Isaiah 65:17 - is this really 
> a
> new earth, and new skys (heavens), or merely a rejuvenation of the old, 
> thus
> making it somehting new, something unknown to the current generation?
> I think we all understand, whether Jew, or Christian, or Agnostic on the
> forum that ִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים, נְאֻם-יְהוָה; וְכָרַתִּי, אֶת-בֵּית
> יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת-בֵּית יְהוּדָה--בְּרִית חֲדָשָׁה. denotes that this 
> בְּרִית
> חֲדָשָׁה is to be made with the בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל and בֵּית יְהוּדָה, for I
> do not think this is something that can linguistically be argued
> against. The issue is if from the language used can we derive what this
> בְּרִית is, and is not? And I think where it states נָתַתִּי אֶת-תּוֹרָתִי
> בְּקִרְבָּם, וְעַל-לִבָּם אֶכְתְּבֶנָּה; וְהָיִיתִי לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִים,
> וְהֵמָּה יִהְיוּ-לִי לְעָם (I will cut my Torah in their inward parts, a
> upon their hearts I will write it, and I will be for them, their God; and
> they will be for me, my people) is evident to what it is, and is not. But
> the issue would come down to what תּוֹרָתִי means, or does not mean, since
> it has been suggested that this means something other than the miswoth, 
> the
> huqim, and mishpatim found within Sefer HaTorah. And to truly understand 
> the
> meaning of this word I think it is best to look in other places through 
> out
> the Miq'ra at how the word is used:
> Sefer Hoshe'a (Hosea) 8:1 uses this to speak of the Torah given through
> Mosheh bin-Amram (אֶל-חִכְּךָ שֹׁפָר, כַּנֶּשֶׁר עַל-בֵּית יְהוָה--יַעַן
> עָבְרוּ בְרִיתִי, וְעַל-תּוֹרָתִי פָּשָׁעוּ.).
> Sefer Yishayahu (Isaiah) 51:7 also uses this to speak of the Torah given
> through Mosheh bin-Amram ( שִׁמְעוּ אֵלַי יֹדְעֵי צֶדֶק, עַם תּוֹרָתִי
> בְלִבָּם:  אַל-תִּירְאוּ חֶרְפַּת אֱנוֹשׁ, וּמִגִּדֻּפֹתָם 
> אַל-תֵּחָתּוּ.).
> In Sefer Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) chapter 16 verse 11 we also see him use this
> term to speak of the Torah given through Mosheh bin-Amram (וְאָמַרְתָּ
> אֲלֵיהֶם, עַל אֲשֶׁר-עָזְבוּ אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם אוֹתִי נְאֻם-יְהוָה, וַיֵּלְכוּ
> אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים, וַיַּעַבְדוּם וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ לָהֶם; וְאֹתִי
> עָזָבוּ, וְאֶת-תּוֹרָתִי לֹא שָׁמָרוּ.) . Chapter 9 verse 12 of the same
> book also does the same.
> I think after looking through the Miq'ra, the only place where I could 
> find
> תּוֹרָתִי not to speak about the Torah given through Mosheh bin-Amram was 
> in
> Sefer Mishlei where Shlomo bin-Dawidh uses the term to speak about his
> instructions to his children.
> Yohanan bin-Dawidh
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