I have just read your article on Yeshu and the Sabbath, and want to express my appreciation for the gentleness and kindness of your approach.
I have been studying these two subjects recently very intensively--Mark 2:23-28 (the Shabbat Controversy) and Mark 7:1+ (the Hand washing/Netilat Yadayim Controversy).
I appreciate looking at it from an Orthodox Jewish perspective. I am assuming you are an observant Orthodox Jew. I learned a few things from you.
I would like to dialogue with you further concerning those two subjects. You mention that one who knows how to read Hebrew would know, if research was done, that the priests did not break the Law by giving the consecrated bread to David and his men. I only know a little Hebrew, so I cannot research this. Can you be so kind as to demonstrate this to me in English?
At any rate, I do not consider what was done by David or the priests unlawful because there was a need, a necessity--Apparently, he and his men must have been very hungry to do this on Shabbat. I have learned from Numbers 24 that the consecrated bread was put on the table every Shabbat. So, I deduce that this was Shabbat when he did this. I also learn from that section that this consecrated bread was for Aaron and his sons=the cohanim, the priests.
I would also like your view of the conclusion of Yeshu to his analogy in defense of what his talmidim did. He said,
Shabbat was made for man, not man for Shabbat. Therefore, the son of man is master even of Shabbat.
I cannot find a thoroughly good explanation of this in Gentile Christian commentaries. I would like to know what a Jew would think of this radical conclusion. I want to know also (1) what a Jewish Christian would understand by those words, (2) what a Gentile Christian in the first century would understand. No doubt you doubt you cannot help me there, but you can tell me what these words mean to an Orthodox Jew. One reason why Gentile Christians cannot provide a good comment on these words is because they have changed the Fourth Commandment of the Decalogue and consider it non-binding as it is written. They transferred the obligation to keep the seventh day holy to the first day of the week. When Yeshu spoke these words, the Fourth Commandment was binding for a Jewish Christian (Acts 15; Acts 21:21+) The Gentile Christians it seems felt free from this commandment (as we learn from the Apostolic Fathers in the second century). Many Gentile Christians today are ignorant of what Torah teaches about Shabbat and do not recognize that they are keeping the tradition of men and not G-d concerning this, that Sun-day is not Shabbat, but the seventh day is, and that Shabbat begins on Friday at sunset and extends to Saturday at sunset. They do not realize what Yeshayahu says (the prophet quoted by Yeshu in Mark 7) in the last chapter of his prophecies at the very end (Isaiah 66) that Shabbat will be observed by all nations in the Age to Come (Olam Habah), that 'from one Shabbat to another Shabbat shall all come to worship me' (I quote from memory). You also know what he says about Shabbat in chapter 56 about Goyim and eunuchs keeping Shabbat.
Actually, I have given you my translation above of the two sayings. In Christian Bibles 'son of man' is capitalized and refers to Jesus himself. This is another reason that a good explanation cannot be found. As thus written the words are ambiguous, not clear. He is made to say (Mark 2:27-28):
Shabbat was made for man, not man for Shabbat. Therefore, the Son of Man (I, Yeshu, the man) am master even of Shabbat.
Does this mean that in response to the P'rushim he is saying, I am allowing my talmidim to do this, to pluck grains on Shabbat, because I, Yeshu, the Son of Man (see Daniel 7:13), have authortity over Shabbat also as well as over woman and the beasts of the earth and sea (see B'reishit 1) because Shabbat was made for man, not man for Shabbat? Accordingly, does this mean that Gentile Christians are free from the Shabbat commandment because they appeal to Yeshu, the Son of Man, for their authority to do so? The Gospel of Mark was written for Gentile Christians (see Mark 7:2).
A commentator in The Jerome Biblical Commentary says that the analogy of Yeshu is not very apropos because the argument concerns not forbidden food (what David and his men ate on Shabbat) but forbidden work. As it seems, the analogy is brought forth because both David and his men and the talmidim of Yeshu did something forbidden because there was a need ('Have you not read what David did when he had a need ...?') The principle that the incident appears to teach is that Yeshu approves of overriding Shabbat when there is a justifiable need to do so. As the French proverb says, Necessite n'a pas de loi (Necessity does not have any law).
In Mark 7, did you notice another major problem? If you continue reading the chapter after the section you quoted you will find in this book written for Gentile Christians that Yeshu abrogated kashrut! '... ('Thus he pronounced all foods clean' Mark 7:19b). Thus he is made to contradict himself! The P'rushim ask him why his talmidim are not keeping the Oral Law (halacha, the traditions of the elders), and he replies by asking them why they break the commandment of G-d (the Fifth Commandment of the Ten Words), the word of G-d, in favor of their traditions, traditions which originate from men not G-d, in their regulation called Korban. -- Then he says that it is not what goes into a man's mouth that defiles him but what comes out of him ('Thus he pronounced all foods clean)'. He, in effect, makes an about-face and does in the very same breath the same thing that he accuses the P'rushim of doing--he abrogates the law of kashrut, the word of G-d in Torah! This is greatly puzzling to all scholars I have consulted. They say, if Yeshu had so clearly abrogated kashrut why was there no knowledge of this in the problem concerning the admission of Gentiles (Goyim) into the sect (see Acts 10-11; 15; 21; Galatians 2).-- Geza Vermes, the Jewish scholar at Oxford University, solves this great problem charitably by saying that this parenthetical statement does not come from Yeshu but from the editor of The Gospel of Mark (see The Changing Faces of Jesus, 2000). Hugh J. Schonfield, another great Jewish scholar, in his translation of the New Testament (The Original New Testament) agrees with Vermes. He says in a footnote: 'He said no such thing.'
I can find no Christian scholar who has solved this problem similarly. They are much disturbed by this parenthesis in Mark 7:19b. But they tend to close their eyes to it. They, being taught by Paul's letters, assume that the law of kashrut was abolished for both Gentiles and Jews, and that Yeshu sanctioned this through him. This is a great error. Jewish Christians continued to keep the Law of Moshe, the Torah (see Acts 21:21+), in the earliest stages of the Nazorean messianic movement, but it was decreed by them that Gentile Christians were free from doing so (Acts 15:1+, Acts 21:21+). Gentile Christians have failed over the centuries, and continue to fail, to make this distinction. They do so because most of the New Testament contains letters by Shaul (Paul), a missionary to the Goyim (Gentiles). There is no work in Hebrew or Aramaic--all the original texts are in Greek. We thus do not have a complete picture of early Christianity. We only have basically the view of the Paul party, the Gentile Christian wing. The Gospel of Mattityahu (Matthew) was written in Hebrew, so was The Letter to the Hebrews. But these were lost or destroyed or suppressed. Accordingly, Gentile Christianity today wishes to compel Jewish believers in Yeshu to consider the Torah, the Law of Moshe, abrogated. This is not what the New Testament actually teaches when rightly considered, see The Letter of Yaakov 2; Acts 21:21+.