The Disgraceful Depiction of Prophets in Judaism

In addition to our articles on HinduismChristianityQadiyanism, etc., we now continue our series on Interfaith Critique by turning to Judaism.

Many Muslims are not aware that the understanding of prophethood in Islam is not shared by modern-day Jews and Christians. In fact, the shameful understanding of prophets in Judaism is alluded to in the Quran:

And We did certainly give Moses the Scripture [i.e., the Torah] and followed up after him with messengers. And We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear proofs and supported him with the Pure Spirit [i.e., the angel Gabriel]. But is it [not] that every time a messenger came to you, [O Children of Israel], with what your souls did not desire, you were arrogant? And a party [of messengers] you denied and another party you killed.[1]

This verse of the Noble Qur’an tells us about Bani Israel, or the Children of Israel, and specifically how they denied the messengers sent by Allah Ta’ālā. To make things worse, historically Bani Israel had killed these special and noble messengers. They not only killed many messengers of Allah Ta’ālā (and attempted to kill others, but failed), but they went further in slandering them after their departure from this temporary abode.

A look into the Torah reveals some astonishing information in this regard.

Example 1:

In the Book of Genesis, it is related that one day, Noah, i.e., Nuh alayhi as-salām, became very drunk with wine and while he was lying uncovered inside his tent, one of his sons, Hām, entered and covered him. Because Hām accidentally saw his father’s nakedness, God turned his skin black and cursed all his descendants with slavery!

Example 2:

The messenger Lot, i.e., Lūt alayhi as-salām is alleged to have committed rape on his two daughters while staying at Segor after the destruction of Sodom and most shamelessly these girls are to have given birth to the illegitimate children of their own father![2]

Example 3:

The Book of Kings in the Old Testament tells us that one day at dusk, while King David[3] was gazing down from the palace roof, he saw a beautiful woman named Bethseba bathing and immediately he was stricken with unquenchable lust for her. David forcibly raped her and then treacherously slew her husband, Uriah, so he could her to himself. From this illicit union, Solomon[4] was born!

The Bible tells us that King Solomon ‘The Wise’ favoured pagan women for his wives and eventually turned to idol-worshipping.[5]

Let us look into the Noble Qur’ān and study the true picture of the same two great messengers of Allah Ta’ālā.

And We had certainly given to David and Solomon knowledge, and they said, “Praise [is due] to Allah, who has favored us over many of His believing servants.” And Solomon inherited David. He said, “O people, we have been taught the language of birds, and we have been given from all things. Indeed, this is evident bounty.” And gathered for Solomon were his soldiers of the jinn and men and birds, and they were [marching] in rows Until, when they came upon the valley of the ants, an ant said, “O ants, enter your dwellings that you not be crushed by Solomon and his soldiers while they perceive not.” So [Solomon] smiled, amused at her speech, and said, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into [the ranks of] Your righteous servants.”[6]

All praise is for Allah Ta’ālā for the bounty of Islām and the Noble Qur’ān. The light and guidance it contains possesses the magnetic attraction to those who seek the truth. The shiny brilliant light it holds within itself is evident from the above comparison. May Allah Ta’ālā keep us firm upon the beautiful teachings of Islam. Ameen

Notes

  1. Sūrah Al-Baqarah: 87
  2. Genesis 19: 29-36
  3. This refers to Sayyidunā Dāwūd alayhi as-salām
  4. Referring to Sayyidunā Sulaymān alayhi as-salām
  5. 1 Kings 11: 1-8
  6. Sūrah An-Naml: 15-19
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11 COMMENTS

  1. You are mistaken in a couple of your claims about “prophets” in the torah/bible. Lot is not supposed to have raped his daughters; rather, his daughters got Lot drunk and had sex with him, because they believed “there is not a man in the earth” and it was only through incest that the human race could continue. It later turned out they were mistaken, but it’s sometimes used as an instance of situation ethics.
    David did not rape Bathsheba: she seems to have been perfectly willing. The death of Uriah was a result of the fact that Bathsheba was pregnant and it was impossible to fix the fatherhood on Uriah and avoid scandal. The Bible does indeed tell us that King Solomon ‘The Wise’ favoured pagan women for his wives and eventually turned to idol-worshipping. His marriages were politically based, to form alliances. The bible also says that it was because he allowed his wives to follow their own religions God withdrew his favour from Israel and allowed the kingdom to split and fall after Solomon’s death. Winwood Reade gives a different interpretation:
    “The wisdom of Solomon has become proverbial. But whatever his
    intellectual attainments may have been, he did not possess that kind of
    wisdom which alone is worthy of a king. He did not attempt to make his
    monarchy enduring, his people prosperous and content. He was a true
    Oriental sultan, sleek and sensual, luxurious and magnificent,
    short-sighted and unscrupulous, cutting down the tree to eat the fruit.
    The capital of a despot is always favoured, and with the citizens of
    Jerusalem he was popular enough. They were in a measure his guests and
    companions, the inmates of his house. They saw their city encircled with
    enormous walls, and paved with slabs of black and shining stone. Their
    eyes were dazzled and their vanity delighted with the splendid buildings
    which he raised–the ivory palace, the cedar palace, and the temple. The
    pilgrims who thronged to the sanctuary from all quarters of the land,
    and the travellers who came for the purposes of trade, brought wealth
    into the city. Foreign commerce was a court monopoly, but the city was a
    part of the court. Outside the city walls, however, or at least beyond
    the circle of the city lands, it was a very different affair. The rural
    districts were severely taxed, especially those at a distance from the
    capital. The tribes of Israel, which but a few years before had been on
    terms of complete equality among themselves, were now trampled underfoot
    by this upstart of the House of Judah. The tribe of Ephraim, which had
    so long enjoyed supremacy, became restless beneath the yoke. While
    Solomon yet reigned the standard of revolt was raised; as soon as he
    died this empire of a day dissolved. Damascus became again an
    independent state. The Arabs cut the road to the Red Sea. The king of
    Egypt, who had probably been Solomon’s liege lord, dispatched an army to
    fetch away the treasures of the temple and the palace. The ten tribes
    seceded, and two distinct kingdoms were established.”

    Incidentally, no-one before the koran claimed that either David or Solomon were prophets: in the eyes of Jews and Christians they were both mere kings, taught and supported by prophets.

    • Incidentally, Bible calls David a Prophet… Not just “Koran”……

      Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore Being A Prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
      Acts 2:29‭-‬30 KJV

      • …in a speech by the apostle Peter after the death of Christ in a book not recognised as holy by the Jews.
        Peter was an uneducated fisherman, and not entirely reliable in his claims

    • Whatever but it totally dismantles your ahistorical claim that

      “Incidentally, no-one before the koran claimed that either David or Solomon were prophets: in the eyes of Jews and Christians they were both mere kings, taught and supported by prophets”.

      The acts show that MANY people did consider ATLEAST David a Prophet.
      Also, Christians TAKE ACTS AS WORD OF GOD….

  2. No.
    It shows that one man in an impromptu speech referred to David as a prophet.
    The fact that no-one between David’s death and Peter referred to him as a prophet is strong evidence against your claim. Can you find any jewish or christian sources that support the claim that they regard David or Solomon as prophets?
    Christians do not “TAKE ACTS AS WORD OF GOD….” They consider it a message from god as passed through and interpreted by fallible human beings.

    • Here you go

      While David is not generally numbered among “the Prophets” in the narrow sense of those specific biblical authors who wrote that category of Old Testament books, David was filled with the Holy Spirit by whom he wrote the Psalms, many of which were prophetically foretelling the coming of the Messiah. As such, David can rightly be called a prophet, as he is in the New Testament.

      The New Testament Testimony: David is called a Prophet
      David is explicitly called a prophet at least once in Scripture, during one of Peter’s sermons in the book of Acts:

      “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay,” (Acts 2:29-31).

      Yet, even when they don’t use the word, the New Testament believers clearly regarded David as a prophet. Earlier in Acts we also read:

      “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus,” (Acts 1:16).

      The language of the Holy Spirit foretelling by the mouth of David is an obvious reference to prophecy, even if the exact term is not used. Likewise, Jesus Himself said things like:

      “‘What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?‘ They said to Him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘Then how does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,” saying, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet’?“‘” (Matthew 22:42-44).

      Again, David wrote “in the Spirit” and spoke of the Messiah who would come in the distant future. This is the language of prophecy. The author of Hebrews may also explicitly count David among the prophets when he writes:

      “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,” (Hebrews 11:32).

      The author seems perhaps to list two distinct groups here. The first is a group of judges (Gideon, Barak, Sampson, and Jephthah). The second appears to be David, Samuel, and “the prophets.” Samuel is obviously himself a prophet, so we could read this as naming Samuel and David both as prophets alongside those biblical writers traditionally known as “the prophets.” This understanding of Hebrews is far from certain but, as we will see, it has at least some basis in Jewish tradition. At any rate, even if this is not what this particular verse means, the New Testament as a whole clearly regards David as a prophet and his canonical writings as prophetic.

      Early Jewish tradition
      But was this perspective on David a novel invention of Jesus and His apostles, or did other Jews see David as a prophet as well? The fact is that, though David is not frequently called a prophet, we can see from a wide range of Jewish literature that the New Testament Christians were not alone in their assessment of David’s prophetic role. The most straightforward example comes from the Babylonian Talmud, the authoritative tradition of Rabbinical Judaism. There we read:

      “The Gemara poses a question: Who were the early prophets? Rav Huma says: This is referring to David, and Samuel, and Solomon.”1

      In a list reminiscent of what we read in Hebrews 11:32, David is placed alongside Samuel (and, in this case, Solomon as well). The Talmud explicitly calls these figures (including David) prophets. The traditions recorded in the Talmud, however, were not written down until several centuries after the New Testament era. When we look at sources from the first century, the exact word “prophet” is not used, but we find the same idea. Josephus, the famed Jewish historian from shortly after the time of Jesus, wrote concerning David that:

      “…But the Divine Power departed from Saul, and removed to David, who upon this removal of the Divine Spirit to him, began to prophesy.”2

      After reporting David’s whole life, Josephus goes on to say that God “had shown all things that were to come to pass” to David, and that “many of those things had already come to pass, and the rest would certainly come to pass hereafter.”3 Even earlier, we find this perspective in the Dead Sea Scrolls. For example, the scroll 11QPsa (or 11Q5), after describing David’s numerous Psalms, says:

      “All these David spoke through (the spirit of) prophecy which had been given to him from before the Most High.”4

      Josephus and the Dead Sea Scrolls represent two very different strands of Jewish thought, yet both confirm that David was a prophet. Another much later document that is nevertheless worth noting is the highly interpretive Aramaic paraphrase of the Psalms known as the Targum of Psalms. The Targum not only understands a number of the Psalms to be messianic or otherwise prophetic but also repeatedly references David engaging in prophecy. For example, we read:

      “David said through the spirit of prophecy, ‘But God will redeem my soul from Gehenna, for he will teach me his law forever.’ Concerning Korah and his company, he prophesied and said, ‘do not fear, oh Moses, when Korah the man of strife becomes rich, when the glory of those in his house become great. For when he dies he will not take anything, and his glory will not go down after him,” (The Targum of Psalm 45:16-18).

      This passage claims both that David “prophesied” and that he spoke “through the spirit of prophecy.” Likewise, the Targum of Psalm 103:1 opens “by David it was said in prophecy…” The Targum of Psalm 18:1 speaks of “David, who sang in prophecy before the Lord the words of this song…” and the Targum of Psalm 14:1 attributes the Psalm to “When the spirit of prophecy was upon David.” All of this parallels perfectly the manner in which the New Testament describes David as a prophet. Thus, while Jesus and the New Testament writers reveal to us more plainly and clearly what the Psalms meant and how they have been fulfilled, the basic idea that David was a prophet and that the Psalms contain prophecy is not a New Testament creation. It was something many ancient Jews already understood.

      References
      References
      1↑ Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 48b
      2↑ Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 6, Chapter 8, Section 2
      3↑ Ibid, Book 8, Chapter 4, Section 2
      4↑ Florentino Garcia Martinez and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, Volume 2 (Brill and W. B Eerdmans, 2000) 1179

    • @wee jim
      You are clearly very unaware of what you are talking about. You constantly shift ground. That’s unreasonable.

      So, you admit you were GLARINGLY, MANIFESTLY, AND PATENTLY WRONG when you said:

      “Incidentally, no-one before the koran claimed that either David or Solomon were prophets: in the eyes of Jews and Christians they were both mere kings, taught and supported by prophets”.

      ?????.

      • You’re making the error – common among muslims – of assuming that other people have the same strict rules about what they believe as muslims.
        As far as most jews and christians are concerned, David and Solomon aren’t in the list of prophets in the bible/torah, so most people assume they aren’t prophets. If they did prophesy, you might say, they were part-time prophets rather than “proper” prophets.
        Noah, too, isn’t a prophet in the eyes of christians and jews: “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”, but he wasn’t a prophet.

        Is Jonah a prophet in islam? The biblical account has Jonah doing all he can to avoid becoming a prophet – he regards god’s use of him as a messenger as an imposition rather than a privilege and only recognises that it’s an offer he can’t refuse after god takes drastic measures to persuade him. Even after he’s done his bit and persuaded the people of Nineveh to repent and change their ways, “God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not”, which annoyed Jonah because his prophecy had not been fulfilled and he complained to god about it and has to be given another lesson in divine power. The biblical view of prophets and god’s use of them is that “one cannot build a house all of straight sticks” and god works with what is available.

        “You see “Word of God” And “Message from God” as different!?
        How logical is that?”
        Perfectly logical. “Word of God” would be exactly that – precise and inerrant. “Message from God” is “Word of God” after it’s passed through the minds of men and confused and changed on the way.
        There used to be a children’s game called Russian telegraph. People sit in a circle. The first person whispers a message in the ear of their neighbour so that no-one else can hear it. The second person does the same thing until the message has gone all the way round the circle and the last person to receive it says out loud what they think they heard. It’s usually very different to the original message. The common jewish and christian view is that transmitting it through fallible humans turns the “Word of God” into a not-entirely-accurate “Message from God”.

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