Jesus and Christianity in Rabbinic Judaism

Reference: Babylonian Talmud>> Tractate Sanhedrin>> Folio 43a

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it was taught: On the eve of the Passover Yeshu34 was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostacy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!35 — Ulla retorted: ‘Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defence
could be made? Was he not a Mesith [enticer], concerning whom Scripture says, Neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him?36 With Yeshu however it was different, for he was connected with the government [or royalty, i.e., influential].’
Our Rabbis taught: Yeshu had five disciples, Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni and Todah. When Matthai was brought [before the court] he said to them [the judges], Shall Matthai be executed? Is it not written, Matthai [when] shall I come and appear before God?37 Thereupon they retorted; Yes, Matthai shall be executed, since it is written, When Matthai [when] shall [he] die and his name perish.38 When Nakai was brought in he said to them; Shall Nakai be executed? It is not written, Naki [the innocent] and the righteous slay thou not?39 Yes, was the answer, Nakai shall be executed, since it is written, in secret places does Naki40 [the innocent] slay.41 When Nezer was brought in, he said; Shall Nezer be executed? Is it not written, And Nezer [a twig] shall grow forth out of his roots.42 Yes, they said, Nezer shall be executed, since it is written, But thou art cast forth away from thy grave like Nezer [an abhorred offshoot].43 When Buni was brought in, he said: Shall Buni be executed? Is it not written, Beni [my son], my first born?44 Yes, they said, Buni shall be executed, since it is written, Behold I will slay Bine-ka [thy son] thy first born.45 And when Todah was brought in, he said to them; Shall Todah be executed? Is it not written, A psalm for Todah [thanksgiving]?46 Yes, they answered, Todah shall be executed, since it is written, Whoso offereth the sacrifice of Todah [thanksgiving] honoured me.47


33. E.g., not forty days before. The two passages that follow have been expunged in all censored editions. [As to the historical value to be attached to them, v. Klausner, Jesus. p. 27ff.]
34. [Ms.M. adds the Nasarean’.]
35. [A Florentine Ms. adds: and the eve of Sabbath.]
36. Deut. XIII, 9.
37. Ps. XLII, 3.
38. Ibid. XLI, 6.
39.Ex. XXIII, 7.
40. Naki is employed here as subject.
41. Ps. X, 8.
42. Isa. XI, 1.
43. Ibid. XIV, 19.
44. Ex. IV, 22.
45. Ibid. IV, 23.
46. Ps. C, 1.
47. Ibid. L, 23. [‘We can only regard this fencing with texts as a jeu d’esprit occasioned no doubt by some ‘actual event’, Herford, op. cit. p. 93. Cf. also Klausner, op. cit. p. 28ff]

Reference: Babylonian Talmud>> Tractate Sanhedrin>> Folio 67a

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12. In the uncensored editions of the Talmud there follows this important passage (supplied from D.S. on the authority of the Munich and Oxford Mss. and the older editions) ‘And this they did to Ben Stada in Lydda ([H]), and they hung him on the eve of Passover. Ben Stada was Ben Padira. R. Hisda said: ‘The husband was Stada, the paramour Pandira. But was nor the husband Pappos b. Judah? — His mother’s name was Stada. But his mother was Miriam, a dresser of woman’s hair? ([H] megaddela neshayia): — As they say in Pumbaditha, This woman has turned away ([H]) from her husband, (i.e., committed adultery).’ T. Herford, in ‘Christianity in the Talmud’, pp. 37 seqq, 344 seqq, identifies this Ben Stada with Jesus of Nazareth. As to the meaning of the name, he connects it with [G] ‘seditious’, and suggests (p. 345 n. 1) that it originally denoted ‘that Egyptian’ (Acts XXI 38, Josephus, Ant. XX, 8, 6) who claimed to be a prophet and led his followers to the Mount of Olives, where he was routed by the Procurator Felix, and that in later times he might have been confused with Jeshua ha-Notzri. This hypothesis, however, involves the disregard of the Talmudic data, for Pappos b. Judah lived a century after Jesus (Git. 90a), though the mother’s name, Miriam (Mary), would raise no difficulty, as [H] megaddela neshayia may be the result of a confusion with Mary Magdalene (v. also Box, The Virgin Birth of Jesus, pp. 201f, for other possible meanings of Ben Stada and Ben Pandira) Derenbourg (Essai note 9, pp. 465-471) rightly denies the identity of Ben Stada with Jesus, and regards him simply as a false prophet executed during the second century at Lydda

Reference: Babylonian Talmud>> Tractate Sanhedrin>> Folio 106a

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R. Simeon b. Lakish said: Woe unto him who maketh himself alive by the name of God,11


11. [H] is read [H] [Herford, op. cit. 74ff. sees in this a covert allusion to Jesus.]


R. Papa observed: This is what men say, ‘She who was the descendant of princes and governors, played the harlot with carpenters.’42


42. ‘Shipdraggers,’ (v. Rashi). Herford, Christianity in the Talmud, p. 48, suggests that Balaam is frequently used in the Talmud as a type for Jesus (v. also pp. 64-70). Though no name is mentioned to shew which woman is meant, the mother of Jesus may be alluded to, which theory is strengthened by the statement that she mated with a carpenter. (The Munich MS. has [H] in the margin instead of [H], i.e., singular instead of plural.)


Reference: Babylonian Talmud>> Sanhedrin>> 106b

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A certain min3 said to R. Hanina: Hast thou heard how old Balaam was? — He replied: It is not actually stated, but since it is written, Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days,4 [it follows that] he was thirty-three or thirty-four years old.5 He rejoined: Thou hast said correctly; I personally have seen Balaam’s Chronicle, in which it is stated, ‘Balaam the lame was thirty years old when Phinehas the Robber killed him.’6


3. Heretic, v. Glos.
4. Ps. LV, 24.
5. cf. p. 471, n. 1.
6.[According to the view that all the Balaam passages are anti-Christian in tendency, Balaam being used as an alias for Jesus, Phinehas the Robber is thus taken to represent Pontius Pilatus, and the Chronicle of Balaam probably to denote a Gospel (v. Herford op. cit. 72ff.). This view is however disputed by Bacher and others: cf. Ginzberg, Journal of Biblical Literature, XLI, 121.]

Reference: Babylonian Talmud>> Sanhedrin>> Folio 107b

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Our Rabbis taught: Let the left hand repulse but the right hand always invite back: not as Elisha, who thrust Gehazi away with both hands,13


13. In the uncensored editions there follows here, ‘and not like R. Joshua b. Perahjah, who repulsed Jesus (the Nazarene) with both hands. Gehazi, as it etc.’

17. II Kings V, 27. The uncensored edition continues: What of R. Joshua b. Perahjah? — When King Jannai slew our Rabbis, R. Joshua b. Perahjah (and Jesus) fled to Alexandria of Egypt. On the resumption of peace, Simeon b. Shetach sent to him: ‘From me, (Jerusalem) the holy city, to thee, Alexandria of Egypt (my sister). My husband dwelleth within thee and I am desolate.’ He arose, went, and found himself in a certain inn, where great honour was shewn him. ‘How beautiful is this Acsania!’ (The word denotes both inn and innkeeper. R. Joshua used it in the first sense; the answer assumes the second to be meant.) Thereupon (Jesus) observed, ‘Rabbi, her eyes are narrow.’ ‘Wretch,’ he rebuked him, ‘dost thou thus engage thyself.’ He sounded four hundred trumpets and excommunicated him. He (Jesus) came before him many times pleading, ‘Receive me!’ But he would pay no heed to him. One day he (R. Joshua) was reciting the Shema’, when Jesus came before him. He intended to receive him and made a sign to him. He (Jesus) thinking that it was to repel him, went, put up a brick, and worshipped it. ‘Repent,’ said he (R. Joshua) to him. He replied, ‘I have thus learned from thee: He who sins and causes others to sin is not afforded the means of repentance.’ And a Master has said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene practised magic and led Israel astray.’ For a full discussion of this passage and attempted explanation of this anachronism making Jesus a contemporary of King Jannai (104-78 B.C.E.). v. Herford, op. cit. 51ff. [The tradition of an early Jesus was also known to Epiphanius. Whether he derived this tradition from the Talmud or from an independent source is a moot point hotly contested by Klausner and Guttmann; v. MGWJ. 1931, 250ff. and 1933, 38. In any case there does not appear to be sufficient data available to account for this tradition.]

Reference: Babylonian Talmud>> Shabbath>> Folio 104b

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HE WHO SCRATCHES A MARK ON HIS FLESH, [etc.] It was taught. R. Eliezer said to the Sages: But did not Ben Stada bring forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches18 [in the form of charms] upon his flesh?19 He was a fool, answered they, and proof cannot be adduced from fools.20


18. Incisions.

19. Which proves that scratches are important. and so one should be liable therefore. In the uncensored text this passage follows: Was he then the son of Stada: surely he was the son of Pandira? — Said R. Hisda: The husband was Stada, the paramour was Pandira. But the husband was Pappos b. Judah? — His mother was Stada. But his mother was Miriam the hairdresser? — It is as we say in Pumbeditha: This one has been unfaithful to (lit., ‘turned away from’ — satath da) her husband. — On the identity of Ben Stada v. Sanh., Sonc. ed., p. 456, n. 5

20. His action was too unusual to furnish a criterion.

Reference: Babylonian Talmud>> Tractate Gittin>> Folio 57a

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He then went and raised by incantations the sinners of Israel.3 He asked them: Who is in repute in the other world? They replied: Israel. What about joining them? They replied: Seek their welfare, seek not their harm. Whoever touches them touches the apple of his eye. He said: What is your punishment? They replied: With boiling hot excrement, since a Master has said: Whoever mocks at the words of the Sages is punished with boiling hot excrement.

3. [MS.M. Jesus].

Reference: Babylonian Talmud>> ‘Abodah Zarah>> Folio 27b

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it once happened to Ben Dama the son of R. Ishmael’s sister that he was bitten by a serpent and Jacob, a native of Kefar Sekaniah,4 came to heal him but R. Ishmael did not let him; whereupon Ben Dama said, ‘My brother R. Ishmael, let him, so that I may be healed by him: I will even cite a verse from the Torah that he is to be permitted’; but he did not manage to complete his saying, when his soul departed and he died

4. A disciple of Jesus, v. supra p. 85, n. 3.

Reference: Babylonian Talmud>> Tractate: Berakoth>> Folio: 17b

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In our broad places: may we produce no son or pupil who disgraces himself4 in public.5


4. Lit., ‘spoils his food’, by addition of too much salt. A metaphor for the open acceptance of heretical teachings

5. MS.M. adds: like the Nazarene.

Reference: Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sotah>> Folio 47a

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Our Rabbis have taught: Always let the left hand thrust away and the right hand draw near. Not like Elisha who thrust Gehazi away with both his hands (and not like R. Joshua b. Perahiah who thrust one of his disciples away with both his hands).11


11. MSS. and old editions read Jesus the Nazarene. R. T. Herford sees in Gehazi a hidden reference to Paul. Cf. his Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, pp. 97ff.
II Kings V, 23.

What22 was the incident with R. Joshua b. Perahiah? — When King Jannaeus23 put the Rabbis to death, Simeon b. Shetah was hid by his sister, whilst R. Joshua b. perahiah fled to Alexandria in Egypt. When there was peace,24 Simeon b. Shetah sent [this message to him]: ‘From me, Jerusalem, the Holy city, to thee Alexandria in Egypt. O my sister, my husband25 dwelleth in thy midst and I abide desolate’. [R. Joshua] arose and came back and found himself in a certain inn where they paid him great respect. He said: ‘How beautiful is this ‘aksania’!26 One of his disciples27 said to him, ‘My master, her eyes are narrow!’ He replied to him, ‘Wicked person! Is it with such thoughts that thou occupiest thyself!’ He sent forth four hundred horns and excommunicated him.28 [The disciple] came before him on many occasions, saying’Receive me’; but he refused to notice him. One day while [R. Joshua] was reciting the Shema’, he came before him. His intention was to receive him and he made a sign to him with his hand, but the disciple thought he was repelling him. So he went and set up a brick and worshipped it. [R. Joshua] said to him, ‘Repent’; but he answered him, ‘Thus have I received from thee that whoever sinned and caused others to sin is deprived of the power of doing penitence’. A Master has said: The disciple practised magic and led Israel astray.


22.The following paragraph is deleted in censored editions, v. Sanh. (Sonc. ed.) p. 736, n. 2.
23. Alexander Jannaeus, king of Israel from 104 to 78 B.C.E., a persecutor of the Pharisees. 24. The chronological discrepancy is obvious since he lived a century before Jesus, v. however, Sanh. (Sonc. ed.) loc. cit.
25. On his death-bed the King advised the Queen to put her confidence in the Pharisees. V. Josephus, Ant. XIII, XV, 5.
26. His teacher, R. Joshua.
27. The word means ‘inn’ and ‘female innkeeper’. The Rabbi intended it in the first sense, Jesus in the second.
28. MSS.: ‘Jesus’.

Other Rabbinic sources:

Moses Maimonides:

Mishneh Torah » Sefer Shoftim >> Melachim uMilchamot >> Chapter 11>> Verse 4

Jesus of Nazareth who aspired to be the Mashiach and was executed by the court was also alluded to in Daniel’s prophecies, as ibid. 11:14 states: ‘The vulgar among your people shall exalt themselves in an attempt to fulfill the vision, but they shall stumble.’

Can there be a greater stumbling block than Christianity? All the prophets spoke of Mashiach as the redeemer of Israel and their savior who would gather their dispersed and strengthen their observance of the mitzvot. In contrast, Christianity caused the Jews to be slain by the sword, their remnants to be scattered and humbled, the Torah to be altered, and the majority of the world to err and serve a god other than the Lord.

Nevertheless, the intent of the Creator of the world is not within the power of man to comprehend, for His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts, our thoughts. Ultimately, all the deeds of Jesus of Nazareth and that Ishmaelite who arose after him will only serve to prepare the way for Mashiach’s coming and the improvement of the entire world, motivating the nations to serve God together as Tzephaniah 3:9 states: ‘I will transform the peoples to a purer language that they all will call upon the name of God and serve Him with one purpose.’

How will this come about? The entire world has already become filled with the mention of Mashiach, Torah, and mitzvot. These matters have been spread to the furthermost islands to many stubborn-hearted nations. They discuss these matters and the mitzvot of the Torah, saying: ‘These mitzvot were true, but were already negated in the present age and are not applicable for all time.’

Others say: ‘Implied in the mitzvot are hidden concepts that can not be understood simply. The Mashiach has already come and revealed those hidden truths.’

When the true Messianic king will arise and prove successful, his position becoming exalted and uplifted, they will all return and realize that their ancestors endowed them with a false heritage and their prophets and ancestors caused them to err.

Epistle to Yemen [iii]
Moses Maimonides

After that there arose a new sect which combined the two methods, namely, conquest and controversy, into one, because it believed that this procedure would be more effective in wiping out every trace of the Jewish nation and religion. It, therefore, resolved to lay claim to prophecy and to found a new faith, contrary to our Divine religion, and to contend that it was equally God-given. Thereby it hoped to raise doubts and to create confusion, since one is opposed to the other and both supposedly emanate from a Divine source, which would lead to the destruction of both religions. For such is the remarkable plan contrived by a man who is envious and querulous. He will strive to kill his enemy and to save his own life, but when he finds it impossible to attain his objective, he will devise a scheme whereby they both will be slain.

The first one to have adopted this plan was Jesus the Nazarene, may his bones be ground to dust. He was a Jew because his mother was a Jewess although his father was a Gentile. For in accordance with the principles of our law, a child born of a Jewess and a Gentile, or of a Jewess and a slave, is legitimate. (Yebamot 45a). Jesus is only figuratively termed an illegitimate child. He impelled people to believe that he was a prophet sent by God to clarify perplexities in the Torah, and that he was the Messiah that was predicted by each and every seer. He interpreted the Torah and its precepts in such a fashion as to lead to their total annulment, to the abolition of all its commandments and to the violation of its prohibitions. The sages, of blessed memory, having become aware of his plans before his reputation spread among our people, meted out fitting punishment to him.

Daniel had already alluded to him when he presaged the downfall of a wicked one and a heretic among the Jews who would endeavor to destroy the Law, claim prophecy for himself, make pretenses to miracles, and allege that he is the Messiah, as it is written, “Also the children of the impudent among thy people shall make bold to claim prophecy, but they shall fall.” (Daniel 11:14).

Quite some time after, a religion2 appeared the origin of which is traced to him by the descendants of Esau, albeit it was not the intention of this person to establish a new faith. For he was innocuous to Israel as neither individual nor groups were unsettled in their beliefs because of him, since his inconsistencies were so transparent to every one. Finally he was overpowered and put a stop to by us when he fell into our hands, and his fate is well known.

² An allusion to the religion of Paul and the apostles whom Maimonides correctly understood to be the real founders of Christianity.

Epistle to Yemen [xvii]
Moses Maimonides

You know that the Christians falsely ascribe marvelous powers to Jesus the Nazarene,18 may his bones be ground to dust, such as the resurrection of the dead and other miracles. Even if we would grant them for the sake of argument, we should not be convinced by their reasoning that Jesus is the Messiah. For we can bring a thousand proofs or so from the Scripture that it is not so even from their point of view. Indeed, will anyone arrogate this rank to himself unless he wishes to make himself a laughing stock?


Kohelet Rabbah
Parasha 1:8:3

מכאן היה מת ר’ אלעזר בן דמא בן אחותו של רבי ישמעאל, שנשכו נחש, ובא יעקב איש כפר סכניא לרפאותו, בשום פלוני, ולא הניחו ר’ ישמעאל. אמר: אין אתה רשאי בן דמא. אמר לו: הנח לי ואני אביא לך ראיה מן התורה שהוא מותר. ולא הספיק להביא לו ראיה, עד שמת. ושמח ר’ ישמעאל ואמר: אשריך בן דמא שיצתה נשמתך בטהרה, ולא פרצת גדרן של חכמים. שכל מי שפורץ גדרן של חכמים, סוף שהפורעניות באות עליו. שנאמר: ופורץ גדר ישכנו נחש. ולא נשוך היה? אלא שלא ישכנו נחש לעתיד לבא. ומה הוה ליה ביה? (ויקרא י”א) אשר יעשה אותם האדם וחי בהם, ולא שימות בהם.

Google Translation:

Here was dead Rabbi Elazar ben Dama nephew of Rabbi Ishmael, was bitten by a snake, and came to Jacob Kfar Scnia cured in any particular, and would not let Rabbi Ishmael. He said: You may ben Dama. He said, let me and I’ll bring you proof from Scripture that it is permissible. Not enough evidence to bring him, until he died. And glad R. Ishmael said: Fortunate son Dama exhausted soul purity, and we defined breach of smartphones. Anyone who breaks we have defined the smart end of calamity with him. As it is said, and broke the fence will reside on a snake. And was stung? But that will reside on a snake in the future. And Lia Bea huh? (Leviticus XI) which man shall live by them, and not die in them.

Bing Tranlation:

From here would be dead see Elazar Ben f son of Ishmael, the snake bit, and Jacob schnia village to rpaotho man, John, and placed r. Ishmael. Said: you may son f. Said to him: Let me get you some evidence from the Torah is permitted. Not enough evidence to bring him until he died. And r. Ishmael and said happy Ben f a pure soul, and has broke the charts of smartphones. Anyone who breaks the charts of late, now come about. We say: an intruder put snake fence. And bite? But don’t put a snake for the future. What present kidney school? (Leviticus 11) which make them brain man, and die with them.



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