Archive for October, 2011

All Israel will be saved

October 4, 2011

All Israel will be saved, this is what Paul said in Roman 11:26. He also said: as it is written. This got my attention. Because actually it isn’t written in the Tenach. It triggered me when I was studying the resurrection.

Sanhedrin 90b

I came along this statement in Sanhedrin 90b: All Israel have portion in the world to come, for it is written, Thy people are all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.’(Is.60:21) (To be clear: This is meant for the Jews and the land of Israel.)

And not only this statement of the Misnah says it, this saying is also found before every chapter of the Pirkei Avot. It seems to be very well known in the old times, inclusive the time of Paul. I don’t know where it is all to find, but it looks like that it is an old known saying from oral tradition. Hence it must be in the mind of Paul when he was about to wrote All Israel shall be saved. Otherwise how could he say this?

But why does he say: As it is written? For there is not that text in the written Tenach to find. That leaves us with a problem. If Paul had the written Torah in mind then it would be a derivative from Is.60:21.

Paul however gives us the following text: There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Rom.11:26-27)

But this text isn’t found either in de Tenach, And you also can’t make up from these words that ALL Israel will be saved. So what is Paul doing here?

One solution is that Paul had in mind the Oral Torah when he said All Israel will be saved, and was paraphrasing it and backing it up with the text of the Written Torah, what would be, then, Ps.14:7 (Oh that the salvation of Israel [were come] out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, [and] Israel shall be glad.) and Is.27:9. (By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged…) This is not as clear as I would like, but it is satisfactory to some extend. I think that you have to know the Oral Torah to understand where he is referring to. I don’t know that.

But it let me stay with one question. Why doesn’t Paul refer to Is.60:21: Thy people are ALL righteous? Because there is referred to in the Talmud. Perhaps because at that time they were not as righteous as they had to be. Yet they had the state of unrighteousness, but they should become righteous in the future. In that sense quoting Is.60:21 wouldn’t benefit his case to state All Israel will be saved (in the future). But now, refering to the future, it makes sense to say that the Deliverer shall come out of Sion.

While I was thinking of it I came along Peter Tomson who dealt extensively with Law and Halakha issues used by Paul. He shows that Paul uses many halachic rules and sayings, only you have to know it to confirm. He said: “Once again this confirms the theological principle proposed earlier: halakha and Law polimic exists independently and are not mutual exclusive.” [1] The connection between the written Torah and the oral Torah was so obvious by the Jews he wrote to, that they easily could understand and proof it.

So we have something to do as Christians from the gentiles, learn the oral Torah. It’s too long neglected!

Does anyone know a (scholarly) article or book what deals with this topic?


[1] Paul and he Jewish Law, Halakha in the Letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles, Peter J. Tomson, p.89.