One of the unfair charges often leveled against Rabbinic Judaism is that they added to the Word of God by ‘fencing the commandments.’ And, while the charge may be true, it is generally leveled as if no one else is guilty of the same and the Jews have therefore committed some dastardly crime.
While reading a paper written by Messianic Jewish friend and midrash partner, Jonathan Krause, a section really caught my eye. He wrote,
When did sin occur on earth? Many scholars will say that it happened when Adam ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, in Deut. 4:2 G-D tells us not to add or take away from his word(s). Since words were added to what G-D said, it created a door to sin. But, Adam had the roots of sin in his heart when he added to the words of G-D. Perhaps he did not trust G-D in that he had to instruct Eve further by telling her she was not only not to eat of the fruit, but not to touch it.
I looked up from the paper and said, “Adam fenced the commandment!”
[Now, whether Adam did or Eve did is immaterial. The point is, in Gan Eden, prior to taking of the tree, Adam being with Eve, she clearly states, “God has said, ‘You shall not eat of it, or touch it, or you will die.'”]
“You know? You are right,” was his response! And, thus began a discussion on fencing the commandments.
…there is nothing new under the sun. Ecc. 1:9
My purpose here is not to further point at Rabbinic additions and subtractions from the Torah through Oral Tradition and Rabbinic decree, but rather to point out first that man’s propensity, from the Garden of Eden, is to find a way around or to take authority over the simple commands of Yehovah!
Christendom is as guilty of fencing commandments, they’ve just gone about it a different way. Where the rabbis presumably fenced to protect the commands, Christendom has created their own commands to turn people away from God’s commands.
How so? False teachings like,
- Jesus did away with the Law
- We celebrate Sunday
- The Feasts are only for the Jews
- We celebrate Christmas and Easter
- We can eat whatever we want
The point is, both groups, like Adam/Eve, set themselves up as gatekeepers to and judges over the everlasting Word of God.
Tear down the fences of man-made commandments and ritual.
Aside: I have recently invited Jonathan Krause to do some writing for this blog… Be looking for some of his thoughts.
9 thoughts on “Fencing the Commandments”
I think there was a little more than a ‘fence’ going on there. But I can appreciate your ‘aha!’ moment.
What I take away from the interaction between the serpent, eve, and adam is the way eve did not seem to understand the commandment given by God.
Gen 2:9 states that there were two trees in the midst of the garden, the tree of life, and the tree of good and evil. Verses 16-17 state they can eat of EVERY tree BUT the tree of good and evil.
Gen2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil 16you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you 17shall surely die.”
Granted, no mention of not touching. But when you look at eve’s response in Gen 3:3-4 I notice more than the addition of no touching. I notice she refers to only one tree in the midst of the garden, not two. Or, she is stating both trees in the midst can not be eaten. Either way she is confused. Or her response is very confusing.
Gen 3:3 but God said, 2’You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 43But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
Why didn’t she identify ‘which’ tree? In fact, if you take the text litterally you can even assume that the only tree in the midst would be the tree of life alone.
Gen 2:9The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The comma could be treated as another statement, not inclusive to the TOL statement. I don’t see it this way though. But just to say that eve stated ‘you shall not eat of the fruit of the tree THAT IS IN THE MIDST OF THE GARDEN…. So the serpent replies, you will not surely die, because he knows there are two trees in the midst, and one surely brings life not death.
It seem’s the serpent has confused eve as to ‘which’ tree delivers death. Because it seems eve does not understand ‘which’ tree in the midst of the garden is being talked about.
As for the fences you want torn down. My Messiah walks through them as if they arn’t there 🙂 That’s why the fence builders get so mad at us. We have his Spirit, no? However, I don’t believe in tearing down fences that others have erected. We just have to let the power of the Spirit in us move us through those man made barriers as if they were not there. We leave them alone to their fence meanding, as we transend the fences and accend to the heavenly presence of Messiah in us. Our hope of glory.
Guess I’m saying that I don’t find it kosher to go and make it my job to judge each mans fence and restructure it to mine or God’s standards. It’s a kin to me going to your property and rebuilding your fences the way I think they should be. And is that not what we shutter from, believing the fence builders are doing this to us? Live and let live… Don’t just tell them how to live…..Live better than them … Just some of my thoughts… Appreciated this blog post. 🙂
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Appreciate your comments. All of them.
Good additional thoughts/insight on the Garden episode and a welcome addition, though that wasn’t the focus.
As to tearing down fences, I do understand what you are saying in that I know and recognize the Spirit has to remove the scales, but I also believe we have a responsibility to at least point out the fences. Isn’t that what the prophets did when they pointed the people back to God? The people then had a choice they were accountable for. In cases they turned and in others they were ‘ever seeing but not perceiving…’
I guess to me we do have this responsibility, however we have to do so in order not to BE the stone that makes them stumble, only to point them to Him and His Truth. It is a delicate balance… 😉
Thanks for your valuable input!
Jer 48:10 Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.
Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Pro 24:11 If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;
Pro 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Eze 33:6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.
Mat 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
As far as the lack of mention of the tree of life and her confusion, a good commentary on the subject is here https://bible.org/seriespage/fall-man-genesis-31-24. I think this commentary makes an interesting point. I fhink there was more going on than we may think.
Shalom and welcome!! Thanks for the link, will check it out.
I appreciate your aha moment. I had the same thing when I was reading through Jewish legends where it was pointed out that Adam built a fence around the Torah as he was teaching Eve what God commanded.
You find very interesting tidbits when delving into the writings of a people. If Messiah delays, I wonder what people will think of us?
Your question is interesting… Even if Messiah returns, I think the next generations will have similar thoughts.
I believe we may be remembered as the generation that completed the Reformation and returned the Body to its 1st Century roots, simple obedience to the written Torah and faith in the Lamb. (Rev. 12:17 & 14:2)
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It would be such a blessing to be remembered that way. What a privelege.