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Home -- Content: Series 7 (Laws) -- Translation: English -- Book: 1 (Tora) -- Part: 1 (Positive) -- Command: 9 -- Text
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
Part 1 - The 248 Positive Commandments of the Tora

9 - SANCTIFYING GOD'S NAME


Leviticus 22:32 -- “You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you.”

“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then a herald cried aloud: ‘To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.’

So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kings of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Therefore that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, ‘O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.’

Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?’

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’

Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed towards Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, because of the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’ ‘Look!’ he answered, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.’

Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.’ Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came from the midst of the fire. And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who sent His angel and deliver His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve or worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.’ Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the province of Babylon.” (Daniel 3)

“By the term ‘Noachids’, or ‘sons of Noah’ is meant the non-Israelites or Gentiles of all time who, according to Jewish law, are commanded to observe as a minimum the following seven precepts: (a) to establish courts of justice; (b) to abstain from idolatry, (c) blasphemy, (d) incest, (e) murder, (f) robbery, and (g) eating flesh cut from living animals. The Noachid who observes these Seven Commandments will inherit a portion in the world to come.”*

* Mishneh Torah, Shoftim, Hilchoth Melachim, X, 9

“The whole body of Israel is charged with the duty of observing the Commandment appertaining to the Sanctification of the Great Name, as it is said, ‘But I will be hallowed among the children of Israel’ (Leviticus 22:32); and it is admonished against the profanation of the Name, as it is said, ‘You shall not profane My holy name’ (Leviticus 22:32) Thus, should an idolater attempt to force an Israelite to transgress any one of the Commandments decreed in the Torah on pain of death, the Israelite must commit the transgression rather than surrender his life, because it is said, ‘You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them.’ (Leviticus 18:5), Scripture, -according to the interpretation of the Sages- having intended by this verse that we live by them and not that we die by them. Hence, one who suffered death rather than commit a transgression (in such circumstances) would be guilty of the loss of his own life. All this applies to transgressions involving any of the Commandments other than those pertaining to idolatry, incest, and bloodshed; but in any of those three cases, an Israelite ordered to sin on pain of death must suffer death rather than commit the transgression. Again, all this applies where the idolater intends some benefit to himself, as when he compels an Israelite to build him a house on the Sabbath… Where, however, his intention is only to cause the Israelite to transgress a Commandment, then so long as this occurs wholly between the two of them and not in the presence of ten Israelites, he is to commit the transgression rather than be killed; but if he coerces him into committing any such transgression, in the presence of ten Israelites, he is to endure death rather than commit the transgression, even if it is a breach of one of the Commandments other (than the three pertaining to idolatry, incest, and bloodshed). Moreover, all this applies (to ordinary circumstances and) in the absence of proscriptive edicts (against any of the Divine Commandments). In times of such proscriptive decrees, however –namely, when a wicked king such as Nebuchadnezzar or his like arises, and enacts some interdict against Israel with a view to annihilating their faith or any one of the Commandments whatsoever- one should suffer death rather than commit a transgression; and this applies even where any of the Commandments other (than the three pertaining to idolatry, incest, and bloodshed, is affected by the interdict), and whether the coercion take place before ten Israelites or merely between the idolater and his victim… (If the occasion involves any Commandment whereof) Scripture has said that one should suffer death rather than transgress it, then whosoever suffers death rather than commit the transgression thereby sanctifies the Name. If he acts thus in the presence of ten Israelites, he sanctifies the Name publicly, in the manner of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, as well as of Rabbi Akiba and his associates, who suffered martyrdom at the hands of the (Roman) oppressor –(the ten Martyr-Sages, namely) whose excellence remains unsurpassable.”*

* Mishneh Torah, Mada, Hilchoth Yesode Ha- Torah, V, 1- 4.

“Likewise the Scholar who is scrupulous in his own conduct, speaking gently to his fellow-men, showing concern for their welfare, receiving them with a cheerful countenance, accepting humiliation at their hands without humiliating them, showing honor even to those that slight him, being faithful in his dealings, not passing his time unduly in the company of ignorant men and their affairs, being ever seen engaged in the study of the Law, robed in a garment with fringes, adorned with Phylacteries, being in all his deeds lenient above the letter of the law –provided, however, he avoids extremes and any kind of strange conduct- so that all may be disposed to praise him and love him, and to be desirous of emulating his deeds- such a one sanctifies the Lord, and concerning him Scripture says: ‘and He said to me, “You are My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” (Isaiah 49: 3)”*

* Mishneh Torah, Mada, Hilchoth Yesode Ha- Torah, V, 2.

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