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Last page update: 2 July, 2016.

Blasphemy & enticing & sorcery

“Blasphemy” , “leading astray” and “enticing” had a (very) different meaning in ancient Israel as many think.

The terms often were closely related and sometimes even practically the same.
Blasphemy was, like today, talking about God in a bad way, insulting Him, etc.
Leading astray could be things like getting the people to demons. That’s the very obvious stuff.

The less know form of leading astray can be summarized as teachings that opposed the established teachings. What the leadership said and taught was the ultimate truth, exactly what God wants. In their minds….
So anyone who had a different teaching led the nation away from the only correct path. That person led the nation astray. In itself that was a type of blasphemy.

Contrary to what many think it wasn’t forbidden to heal on Sabbath. They mostly attacked Jesus on how He did it or what He said during those healings.
If someone was sick for a long time the general opinion was that healing could wait until after Sabbath. Jesus disagreed. But it wasn’t considered breaking the law because that law was still debated during His time.

All of the above things highlighted in red were an (indirect) insult to God according to the ancient leaders. So they all could be twisted into a blasphemy claim. I think it’s quite obvious that with the ‘right’ interpretation and twisting facts about everyone could be made look guilty of the biggest crimes….

Below some quotes from ancient Jewish writings that show how they defined blasphemy, enticing, leading astray and sorcery.


First of all, the statement “thy sins be forgiven thee” is (since disease was considered a divine punishment that could be canceled by repentance and prayer) the equivalent of “God hath pardoned thee.” This was the formula ordinarily used by the priests in such circumstances, speaking as the interpreters of God. Hence it means, not that Jesus had arrogated a supernatural power to himself, but only that he had claimed priestly power. Even in the Old Testament there are instances of priests and prophets who made the same statement. Jesus did not say: “I forgive thy sins,” but he did say, in effect: “Thy sins be forgiven [and I will stand warranty for it].” The outrage of the Scribes arose only from this pretension of Jesus to a priestly authority that they refused to recognize in him.
46. Craveri, The Life, p. 105.

Jesus stole their authority.

A person who despises the Torah or despises those who devote themselves to it, that is to say, the scholars—if he is guilty of either of these—is called “contemptuous toward the Torah” (Aknin) . . . A man should sooner fling himself into a fiery furnace than disgrace his fellow in public. (Vitry) The Tanna taught (Baba Mezia 58b) in the presence of Rab Nahman bar Isaac: If one disgraces his fellow in public, it is though he sheds blood.
Goldin, Mishnah Avot, p. 74.

Because Jesus made the Scribes look like idiots He was “contemptuous toward the Torah”.

Teach the Torah not in accordance with Halakah: That is, not rendering a proper decision . . . for example, a disciple not yet qualified to render decisions doing so. (Vitry) . . . to teach the Torah not in accordance with the Halakah is to say of the forbidden that it is permitted and of the permitted that it is forbidden (Rabbi Jonah).
Goldin, p. 128

Jesus wasn’t qualified according to the Scribes.

He who utters something he has not heard from his teacher causes the Presence to depart from Israel.
Bialik and Ravnitzky, Legends, 428:254; op. cit., b. Ber. 27b.

Jesus’ teachings often disagreed with those of the Scribes.

It will also be seen that incantations not infrequently formed part of the treatment, these sometimes including Biblical verses. This practice was severely condemned by the Rabbinic authorities. ‘It is forbidden to cure oneself by means of Scriptural citations (Shebuoth 15b), they urged. Among those who will have no share in the World to Come is the person who utters an incantation over a wound which includes the quotation: ‘I will put none of the diseases upon thee that I have put upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord that healeth thee’ (Exod. xv.26) (Sanh. x.i.).44
Cohen, Everyman’s Talmud, p. 251.

Jesus quoted from Scripture.

No teacher could base his teaching merely on his own authority; and the fact that Jesus did this, was no doubt one of the grievances against him on the part of the Jews . . . the statement (Matt. vii. 28, 29) that Jesus taught them as one having authority and not as their scribes, was certainly cause sufficient that the people should be astonished at his teaching, and that the scribes should be incensed and alarmed.

Jesus sometimes taught things without referencing to earlier teachers. That often was seen as making a personal doctrine which was “leading the nation astray”.

You shall not swear falsely by my name. (Lev. 19:12). Why is this stated? Since it says You shall not swear falsely by the name of the Lord your God (Ex. 20:7) we might have thought that one is guilty of this only if one uses the Unique Name. What indicates that all of the various designations of God are to be included [in this prohibition]? The verse says by my name (Lev. 19:12)—any name that I have. This teaches that a false oath profanes the Name of God.
Hammer, Classic Midrash, p. 435; Mid. Lev. 19:11-12, Sifra Weiss 88b.