Exactly what is meant that the Jews are God's chosen people?

Chosen to make G-d known to the world.

I think the concept of Jews being a “chosen people” is a Christian one.

I had a rabbi tell me that there is no mention of the phrase “chosen people” it in the Torah. The Torah does say Jews are “treasured” but that only means God makes them responsible for many things (following the Commandments and the laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, tikkun olam, things like that). It was the rabbi’s opinion that this label was given to Jews by non-Jews who sought to single them out from the rest of the community.

I think the Christian understanding involves either God promising many things to the Jewish people or the Jewish people bringing about the prophecy of God and the Second Coming.

I’ve heard about this too. Specifically, which Christian fundamentalists believe that God’s covenant with the Jewish people is broken? Does anyone know if Catholics believe this?

On God choosing His people:

Deuteronomy 7:6

Deuteronomy 14:2

(In the second portion of Isaiah, the notion is expanded to include the idea that the Jews were chosen to be a example of how to respond to God so that, eventually, the entire world might be saved.)

On the Catholic view of the Chosen People: see my previous post in this thread (8th post). (Short answer: God does not break His covenants.)

Florentine: The fundamentalist missionary church (I think it was one of the Church of the Brethren outfits) down the path (yes, path) from my house in Seoul (back in 1978) taught that the Jews had abrogated their agreement with God by not accepting Jesus as the Messiah. Same church also prohibited their preachers from officiating at inter-racial marriages. Oddly enough, other than for those two things, the local preacher was actually a pretty good egg.

The Middle East has produced three major religions, which are historically related: Judaism, Christinaity, and Islam. These religions are various responses to the climatic conditions in the Middle East. Climatic conditions explain both how each religion arose and how they vary from one another.

It goes like this: It is very hot and dry in the Middle East, so people wear robes to ventilate their bodies. However, since the robes are open at the bottom, hot sand inevitably gets swept up by the wind and ends up in one’s hot, sticky crack. Anyone who is familiar with this experience will testify that this is most distressful.

Christians respond to this harrowing situation with the comforting belief that, if they are very, very good, they will one day be free of sand in their cracks. This allows them to endure a great deal of distress. However, many Christians are so eager to see a world free of sandy cracks that they are zealous to liberate even those who do not believe one’s crack can be thus liberated. There are some Christians who seek to liberate your crack at gunpoint.

Muslims, on the other hand, are often driven mad by the harassment of hot sand up one’s crackÑso much so that many are driven to extreme anger and fervent histrionics. Some are even driven to acts of violence. Some Muslims believe that these extreme acts, born of sandy torment, will bring them an eternal life free of sand. They also believe they’ll get grapes and virgins.

Finally, Jews respond to their torment with the belief that there is nothing they can do about the sand in their cracks, for they are condemend to endure it. However, they content themselves with the belief that their cracks are blessed, for they believe that God has promised them that the sand in their cracks will always be better than the sand in your crack.


you’re right about 1 thing, though, all 3 big monotheist religions (religions that have 1 god and 1 god only) were founded in the Middle East.
First, ofcourse, we had Judaism, with Jahweh as God. Jesus Christ was Jewish, but was very much opposed to the way the Jewish priests were running the show. They were excluding everybody with a disability or illness from religious services. They also charged people a fee to be able to attend the religious services, in short, they had made it an elitist religion.
Jesus wanted to change that, and challenged the establishment. The Romans (who were occupying the country at that particular time) saw him as a rogue and wanted him captured. He was inciting the plebs, you see, so the Romans were having difficulties keeping a lid on things. The Jewish priests weren’t too fond of him either, as he was threatening to bankrupt their little business by advocating a religion that was free-for-all, and bvased on love, compassion and tolerance, as opposed to fear of God, as it was depicted in the OT.
I know this does not answer your question abt the Jews being the Chosen People, maybe they just are that cos they were the first to write it down. Who knows, God might’ve changed her/his/its mind by now :wink:


Actually, Zoroastrinism survived into modern times, particularly in Iran.

An important point about the Jews is that being so closely linked to Christianity and Islam brought them special attention. Of course, that worked both ways, as the 20th Century showed to its extreme - but in Islamic Judaism was often given special protection.

However, quite agreed that there is a strange tenacity. Perhaps the Romany are also Jewish? :wink:

I’m afraid you are simply not correct in these statements. Firstly, only kohanim (priests) could perform the Temple service to begin with. Kohanim with certain phyiscal deformities were excluded from performing certain functions within the Temple. However, this prohibition comes directly from the Torah. There is not much the kohanim could do to change that prohibition. And secondly, while kohanim with certain physical deformities could not perform the Temple service, there were plenty of other priestly functions that they could perform.

Secondly, please provide a cite for the kohanim charging people to attend religious services. I’m afraid that that is simply false. The only thing I can think of that you might be referring to is the practice of ma’aser sheini and machatzis ha-shekel.

The former is a 10% of a farmer’s produce that had to be brought to Jerusalem and eaten there. If a person was too far from Jerusalem to transport his food without it’s spoiling, it was possible for him to “redeem” the food with money and take the money to Jerusalem. There he would purchase food and eat in Jerusalem.

The latter was a half-shekel contribution that everyone had to contribute once a year. Monies collected in this fashion went to the purchase of communal sacrifices. However, everyone had to pay this, regardless of whether they went to the Temple or not.

Zev Steinhardt

Here’s another little detail about the Mormon take on being a chosen people, which may or may not be relevant (Also, I’ve never seriously studied any other religions, so all of this may me LDS-specific):

Some of you may recall a covenant made between God and Abraham/Israel, which sounds suspiciously like the ‘chosen people’ concept we’re discussing. In order to get in on this, upon being baptised into the LDS church, each member is adopted into one of the 12 tribes of Israel, thus making them inheritors of the benefits of the covenant. Now, which tribe you got is only revealed in the ‘patriarchal blessing’, which is considered personal and confidential, so no harassing anybody for personal specifics.

Anybody in the know feel free to flesh out my recollections; it’s been a while.

I wasn’t talking about priests with deformities or disabilites, but about the general public being disbarred from service because there was something “wrong” wit them. Lepers werre not allowed, prostitutes were not allowed either, I might add. This is clearly stated in the OT, but I’m afraid I could not tell you where exactly. But it is there.

I’m sorry i cannot give you a spcific verse either, where it says that Priests charged people a fee to be able to attend mass, but again, that is mentioned in the NT. It was one of the reasons why Jesus opposed the establishment. I know the Jewish people do not see Jesus Christ as a prophet or saviour (they do not believe in an afterlife, or heaven or helle, either, those are additions done by the Catholic Church, to keep the plebs in check…again), so I don’t think anything about Jesus can be found in the OT, but those things are definitely mentioned in the NT.

If the people Juses Christ was advocating for were not oppressed by the current establishment, then why would he feel or think they needed a saviour, to begin with? There is such an emphasis on the poor, and the sick (especially lepers), and overall, on the lower classes of society in Christianism, that it speaks for itself that those were the groups being oppressed at that time.

And no, before you ask, I have not read the Torah.


People with tzaraas (a disease commonly translated as leporsy) weren’t only barred from the Temple, but had to be sent out of the city until they were healed. However, people with this condition could certainly have their own congregation. There is nothing inherent in the condition that prevents people from entering a shul and/or praying.


Aside from the fact that prostitution wasn’t legal at all, there was no bar from prositutes (as they was no bar to Sabbath-desecraters) attending services.


Not quite. In the former case, I’ve already presented the situation. The only place that I can think of where prostitutes and prayer service have anything to do with each other is the prohibition of bring a prositute’s pay as a sacrifice (i.e. if a prostitute was paid for her services with a kosher animal then the animal could not be brought as a sacrifice). Otherwise, I know of nothing preventing a prositute from praying in a shul with everyone else. If you are going to assert to the contrary, I’ll have to ask you to find the prohibition.


To my knowledge, it’s not.


I think you might be a bit off on this, especially considering that there is not nor never was a Jewish service called mass.


Sorry, but Jews do believe in an afterlife, heaven and hell.

Then don’t assert that there are certain prohibitions that do not exist therein.

Zev Steinhardt

As for the NT cite, I think you are referring to Mark 11: 15-18

I’m still at a loss for the OT passages, though. Maybe I’m not wording the search properly. If I find a cite, I’ll post it.

There were other things that made people “unclean” and unfit for Temple service, though they may have been temporary conditions. Like touching a dead body, having a seminal emmission (wet dream?), being intoxicated, and other things…

zev: To my knowledge, not all Jews do believe in an afterlife.


Yes, there were commonly people who sold animals to be used for sacrifices. It’s much easier, as you can imagine, to come to Jerusalem and buy birds for sacrifice there rather than schlep them down from the Galilee, no?

However, one is not required to bring any sacrifice when coming to the Temple. One wass free to attend the Temple service without paying any “fee.”

That is correct. In all cases, tumah (ritual uncleanliness, for lack of a better translation) was a temporary condition. There is no way a living person could become permenantly tamei.

Zev Steinhardt

Heck, getting all Jews to agree on anything would be a miracle.

Admittedly, I was speaking from the Orthodox POV.

Zev Steinhardt

Priestly purity:

The leperousy test is found in Leviticus chapter 13. Kind of long. Read it for yourself here if you want to.

I still haven’t come across any of the other things that have been mentioned (prostitutes, fees, etc…).

Is an online Torah permissable? If not, I apologize for any offense by asking. (I use to have one, but I can’t find it.)


I wasn’t disputing that. I admitted up front that kohanim with certain physical deformities could not perform some of the functions in the Temple. However, there were other priestly functions that they could perform.


I admitted that people with tzaraas could not enter the city. However, there is nothing in Leviticus 13 that says that they cannot form their own congregation and pray.

Perfectly acceptable. You can find onehere.

Zev Steinhardt

Thanks, Zev. And, ftr, I wasn’t disputing you, I was just posting the relevant verses so proper debate could continue, instead of “I don’t know where it is, but The Bible says…”

I do remember reading a story, possibly apochryphal, of a cong of lepers. But, I’m pretty sure it isn’t in any of the holy writings, whether NT, OT, or Torah.

Just curious (though if I search, I’ll find it eventually, just lazy I guess), are there addendums in Jewish scripture to the Temple requirements found in OT (esp Pentatauch)?

Zev, I didn’t state anywhere what I was saying came from the Torah, or was written somewhere in the Torah. I mentiopned the OT and NT, not the Holy book of the Jewish people. The fact that Jewish people did not believe in heaven or hell, but that tjose were additions made by the catholic church, came from a personal friend of mine, who happens to be Jewish. I took him on his word, and I am sorry that that fact is incorrect.
I only used the word “mass” to describe a Jewish Service, because it is shorter and I did not know the proper word to be used.


While the Pentatuch is of primary importance, the rest of the Tanach (what would be termed as the OT by Christians) is of vital importance as well.


Fair enough. But ask yourself the following question: Why would the Catholic Church be making changes to Jewish theology?

Fair enough. However, there is not now, nor has there ever been in Judaism any form of discrimination against disabled persons in terms of the ability to attend a service. Admittedly, certain people with certain handicaps cannot perform parts of the service (a blind person cannot be a Torah Reader, for example, because the Torah has to be read from the Torah and not recited by heart), but they certainly can attend and participate.

Zev Steinhardt