The Neo Pharisee, Tovia Singer has employed a very deceptive tactic in his all out assault on Christianity. He uses his mastery of the Hebrew language, which is indeed the language of the original scripture, to accuse early Christian teachers of distorting the texts of the Hebrew Bible, in order to cast doubt on long held Christian teaching on Jesus’s fulfillment of Messianic scripture.
Obviously most Christians do not speak Hebrew, and though they may quote traditionally Messianic verses such as Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 and Psalm 110, they couldn’t answer a when challenged to debate the actual Hebrew. In this way Singer has seriously undermined the faith of many, and openly calls for a defection from faith in Jesus Christ.
In his many lectures and sermons, the non Hebrew speaker is expected to sit by as Singer ‘demolishes’ the messianic verses which he claims Christians distorted to validate Jesus.
My concerns about this man and the work He is doing to attack and undermine the faith of so many, have led me to find resources, and answers to his many charges. I have found some excellent and irrefutable arguments put forth by Hebrew speaking Christians, Who have answered Singer’s challenges.
We will look at a few of the boldest claims, and where I cannot answer adequately, (I do not speak Hebrew, but I do believe the Bible), I will point you to those who do.
Singer’s lecture on Psalm 110 is an example of what we are up against,
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.( Psalm 110:1)
This is the most repeated Old testament passage in all of the New testament, nd from the beginning has been pointed to as being a Messianic prophecy pointing to Jesus. Jiesus himself challenged the Pharisees on it, in the last week of his earthly life,
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. ( Matthew 21:41-46)
I am going to allow a new friend, a Hebrew Speaking Christian who goes by the name of Nakdimon answer this, from his Blog,
The psalm 110 lecture of rabbi Tovia Singer’s “Let’s get Biblical” series is not about all of Psalm 110 but about the first verse. It is also one of the easiest to refute, simply because it is abundantly clear that David is the speaker here and speaks of the Messiah and of no one else. This is one of the lectures where I really wanted to be in the audience asking the very same question that was asked him. Namely, that there is more to the subject of this chapter than one might think. Of course he would tell me then that it was obvious from my question that I didn’t read or understand a word of Hebrew. If you didn’t know already, this is the standard anti-missionary scare tactic. They will challenge you on the Hebrew! Although the rabbi is right about one thing, which is that this verse doesn’t prove that the Messiah is God. But it does affirm the view that the Messiah was to be more than human. Because who can be more than king David? King David is the greatest king ever known to mankind. He was the king of kings. And yet he speaks here of someone as “his lord/master”. There is not a king that can come forth from the Gentiles, nor from the Jewish people, that could excel David. All the kings that followed him, were always compared to him in their righteousness. As the rabbi said it correctly “he was their measuring rod”.
You might say “this isn’t King David speaking, but the Levites for whom the Psalms were written to sing in the Temple”, just as the rabbi claims, hereby following the reading of the Ramban (aka Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman or Nachmanides). This is what the Ramban wrote (emphasis mine)
King David was the composer who wrote the Psalms with the aid of the holy spirit. He composed them for the purpose of having them sung before the altar of God. He himself did not sing them, nor was he permitted to do so, for that function was forbidden to him by law of the Torah. (Deuteronomy 18:6-7) Instead, he gave the Psalms to the Levites, so that they would sing them. This is clearly written in the book of I Chronicles 16:7 Therefore, King David perforce expressed the psalm in the language appropriate for utterance by the Levites. Thus, if King David had said; “The Eternal said to me”, the Levites repeating these words would be uttering falsehood. Instead, it is proper for the Levite to say in the Temple: “The Eternal saith unto my lord: (that is to King David) Sit thou at My right hand.” The purport of the term ‘sitting’ is to state that the Creator, blessed be He, will protect him during his lifetime and that He will save him and cause him to prevail over his enemies. So it was, for he lifted up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time. This is the right hand of God.
Is this reading actually valid? Let’s examine the text:
L’David, mizmor: N’um Yahweh l’adoni, shev limini; ad-asit oyveycha, hadom l’ragleicha1A Psalm of David.
The LORD saith unto my lord: ‘Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.’
This is how rabbi Singer’s argument goes: This is a verse speaking about king David, who wrote it for the Levi’im (Levites) to sing in the Temple. And because he wrote it for them to sing in the Temple it was necessary for him to write it from their perspective, because would he write it from his perspective and said “the LORD said to me” and the Levi’im would say it likewise, then they would be lying. So that’s why he wrote it from their perspective and therefore had to write “the LORD said to my lord” referring to king David and then they would be truthful. (9:00)
Again, we ask the question: Is this a valid reading? Let’s look at the validity of this claim:
It starts out with (L’David mizmor) which means “a psalm of David”. It can also mean ”a psalm for/to David”. This is actually subject of dispute. The more likely form is the former, however, as mentioned, it can also mean the latter. The first claim is that it was exclusively written for the Levi’im to sing in the Temple. Well, the common phrase “lam’natseach” [for the leader], meaning the leader of the worship, is completely absent here. We find it in a lot of Psalms. We find it in Psalm 51 through 65, for example. The second claim is that this is written from the perspective of the Levi’im. But I couldn’t find one instance where David did this. In fact, he had a lot of Psalms where he could have used this method of writing. Let’s take the most striking example of all the Psalms: Psalm 51. This is a Psalm David wrote after he had sinned greatly and taken Batsheva, the wife of the Hittite Uriah, whom he murdered. He there goes all out to confess to God and what does he write?
Lam’natseach. Mizmor l’David1 For the Leader. A Psalm of David;
This is beyond any doubt a Psalm written for the Levi’im to utter in the Temple. But what does king David do next? You would think that, if the rabbis were right, he would go on to write from the perspective of the Levites, right? Not so! He then goes on to speak from his own perspective and not from the perspective of the Levi’im. So according to the reasoning of rabbi Singer and the Ramban, the Levi’im would be lying if they uttered this Psalm in the Temple, because it didn’t happen to them, but to someone else, and therefore they couldn’t sing this as if it happened to them. That would be misleading. But this is not at all implied by the psalmist and this never occurred to him even once, otherwise he would have written this in the third person. Notice the expression in verse 16: Hatsileini midamim, Elohim 16Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God….
Where is the perspective of the Levi’im when it is needed the most? How about Psalm 59? Let’s look at how David writes there and never considers the perspective of the Levi’im:
1 For the Leader; Al-tashheth. [A Psalm] of David; Michtam; when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him. 2 Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God; set me on high from them that rise up against me. 3 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from the men of blood. 4 For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul; the impudent gather themselves together against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.
Well, do you see David writing from the perspective of the Levi’im? I certainly don’t! And we can’t imagine the Levi’im singing these Psalms, saying “Deliver him from his enemies” or anything of that kind. So it’s obvious that David never considered their perspective in the first place. And where does this leave the charge of deceit made by rabbi Tovia Singer? Absolutely nowhere! David wrote this Psalm, not for the Levi’im to sing in the Temple referring to him, but what God said about the Messiah.
Then there is of course the charge of the New Testament account that the Messiah raises this question to the Pharisees and says to them “if he is supposed to be the son of David, then how come David calls him “lord”?” According to rabbi Tovia Singer this is an unlikely event because the people who know a little Hebrew would point Yeshua to the fact that the two “lords” aren’t the same. But is that the point Yeshua wanted to make? That both “lords” in that psalm are the same and therefore the Messiah is God? Not at all! All he was trying to tell the people is exactly what he said there; how come that David, the greatest of kings in the history of all of Israel, calls the Messiah, who is supposed to be his son by many generations, his lord?
So whether the first lord and the second lord are or aren’t the same has never been the question. The question was if the Messiah is actually king David’s lord, then what does this tell us about the Messiah? So it is clearly demonstrated that rabbi Tovia Singer is totally wrong in his analysis and wrongly points us to the Ramban. But because it is the Ramban, the rabbi takes his analysis as the absolute truth and doesn’t ask any questions. If he would have been half as critical towards the commentary of the Ramban as he was to the New Testament, he would have seen that this analysis is, sad but true, wrong and therefore their conclusion is false. Apart from HaShem, it is the Messiah and the Messiah only who is David’s lord. Who else fits the bill?
What then do we make of rabbi Tovia Singer’s claims? They are totally untrue!