Old Testament Summary Lesson 2: “Thou Was Chosen Before Thou Wast Born”
- Pre-earth Life Exists Before New Testament: At the time of Jesus a Society of Jews that many call the Essenes lived at the Dead Sea. Their writings included inferences of “pre-existence.” This seems evident because their scribes referred to the Messiah they expected as known by previous prophets and sages.
- Doctrine Changed: Again, the eighth century Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, eliminated references to a pre-earth life. Various writing of sages prior to Maimonides and available in Hebrew refer to an existence before this earth life.
- Jewish Tradition of the Creation Process: There is a Jewish tradition (Agaddah) of a conflict in the creation process: “When the first man was to be created, says the Aggadah, God consulted the angels. Some favored his creation, because of the love and mercy he would show; others were opposed — because of the falsehood and strife he would stir up. In the end, for reasons best known to Himself, the Holy One decided to create man.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
- Identity of God and Satan Disappear: References to Satan as a personage have also largely disappeared from Jewish thought. Talmudic teachings include the following description: “In the Talmud, Satan is at times identified with the yezer ha-rah (the evil inclination), but he also assumes certain aspects of a fully personalized entity. Thus, he is the angel of death, or he is the tempter lying in ambush not only for Job but also for Abraham and all the biblical personalities. Or he is the accuser, ha-mekatreg, constantly waiting for man to sin so as to bring down upon him the wrath of God.”
- Reference to Satan Still Remain in Judaism: “Several references to Satan have found their way into the liturgy, for example the plea in the hashkivenu prayer of the evening service to “remove from us the enemy, pestilence . . . and Satan.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)