Ever wonder what happened to the Pharisees? Look to your nearest synagogue and you will find them. They outlasted the Sadducees, priests, and Levites. And though they were unable to return to the fold or eliminate the followers of Yah Shua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ), they were able to drive them “underground” within all Jewish communities. Few self-respecting Jews would openly admit to believing that Yah Shua is indeed the Messiah.
The final rift between Jews and Christians occurred during the Bar Kokhba Revolt against Rome about A. D. 132. Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph declared Simeon ben Kosiba to be the Messiah and King of Israel (Akiba changed ben Kosiba’s name to bar Kokhba - meaning “son of the star“). The Talmidei Yah Shua (followers of Jesus) refused to join the revolt for obvious reasons and were branded traitors. As such, they were persecuted (and executed) in those areas under the rebels’ control. It took the Romans four years and the loss of an entire legion (the XXII) to destroy the rebels, but the Jewish losses were perhaps even greater than that of the Holocaust some 1,810 years later. After such losses on both the Messianic (Christian) and non-Messianic Jewish sides, emotions were so high and deep that they would barely associate with each other or even acknowledge that they shared a common heritage. The Messianic Jews faded into the background (but never disappeared completely) to be overshadowed by their gentile brethren. The surviving non-Messianic Jews ignored the fact that Rabbi Akiba was a false prophet and Kokhba a false messiah. So who was Rabbi Akiba?
Akiba ben Joseph was a young man when the second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in A. D. 70. After that event, the center of both Jewish politics and religion shifted to the synagogue. The Sadducees, priests, and Levites found themselves displaced and rapidly waning in influence and power. Akiba was impressed by the knowledge of the Pharisees and decided to study at the only Jewish university that the Romans then allowed.
This university was established by Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai who earned the right to establish and maintain the only Roman approved Jewish college after the Jewish revolt of A. D. 66 through 72. He earned this right by having himself smuggled out of the besieged Jerusalem to the Roman General Vespasian and accurately predicting that Vespasian would soon be chosen Roman Emperor. In gratitude, Vespasian allowed Zakkai to establish a university when all other institutions of Jewish learning were forbidden and closed down or destroyed. Zakkai was both a Pharisee and a teacher of kabbalah (Jewish witchcraft). Thus in a single act, the Pharisees succeeded in gaining control of Jewish higher education.
And soon Akiba not only impressed his teachers with his intelligence but with his stubbornness as well. In spite of being flogged five times, he refused to be silenced. He surpassed his teachers in learning and gradually exceeded them in influence and power. He set his mind to creating a new position to replace the priests and prophets. The casual title of “Rabbi” (“master/teacher”) was to become an office whose holders could sentence people to death. Indeed, not only were the priests and prophets to be replaced by the Rabbis, but the supremacy of the Torah (the “law” = the books of Moses) as well. Akiba would make the requirement that a true Rabbi must be able to reverse the meaning of a scripture and use it to justify any action. He invented the lie of a secret “oral torah“ (supposedly handed down from Moses) to supplement the written one. Within three decades, Akiba had succeeded in bringing most Jews into his fold and needed only an excuse to eliminate all of the others.
Simeon ben Kosiba was both a man of action and a Jewish ultra-nationalist. He chafed at the Roman yoke and longed to rebuild the Temple as both the center of Jewish religion and the symbol of Jewish nationalism. He found a ready ally in Akiba and they began preparing the Jewish nation for a full scale revolt against the Roman Empire. Once the hostilities began to spread, Akiba galvanized the rebellion in Judea by declaring Simeon “King Messiah“.
Akiba’s declaration had the opposite effect in Galilee. The Talmidei Yah Shua knew that Bar Kokhba was not the Messiah and recognized Akiba as a false prophet. The Talmidei Yah Shua convinced thousands of other Jews of these facts. Whatever actions had begun against the Romans in Galilee quickly ceased. Bar Kokhba was livid and Akiba declared the followers of Yah Shua to be heretics and traitors. While Judea would be devastated and depopulated as a result of the rebellion, Galilee would see relative peace.
Rabbi Akiba did not long survive the failure of the revolt. But though the rebellion failed, Akiba did not. The Romans drove all of the surviving Jews out of Judea and forbade them (on the pain of death) to even come within sight of Jerusalem. The synagogue (with its Rabbi) now became the community and worship center for practicing Jews. Because the lack of the Temple made adherence to much of the Torah impossible, the Rabbi found it easier to overturn the old laws and create new ones by using the “oral torah” and writing them in the Talmud. In spite of having blundered in his choice of the “King Messiah” and support (if not the actual planning) of a disastrous revolt against Rome, Akiba became known among the Jews of the Diaspora as a spiritual leader greater than Moses himself!
Thus the Pharisees survived and continued to evolve, changing the face of Judaism. In their arrogance, using kabbalah, they attempt to dissect the nature of Yahu'ah (God the Father) and with that knowledge control His actions as though He were a bonsai tree. No wonder Yahu'ah waited 1,816 years before restoring Israel! Since then, the numbers of the Talmidei Yah Shua have again begun to grow. According to Revelations, one-third of all Jews shall be so saved. Remember, we gentiles have been grafted onto Israel’s family tree. Let us learn our Lord’s holy names and respect those traditions Yah Shua told us to in the New Testament. Also remember that in spite of all of their transgressions, Yahu'ah still loves His chosen people and punishes those who persecute them. Just ask Adolf Hitler! Hallalu Yah (praise Yah)!
Old Testament Scriptures to Bring Believing Jews to Yah Shua:
The Messiah shall:
1. Be of the tribe Judah - Genesis 49:10;
2. Be of the family line of Jesse - Isaiah 11:1;
3. Be a prophet - Deuteronomy 18:15;
4. Be a priest, but not from Levi - Psalm 110:4;
5. Be a judge - Isaiah 33:22;
6. Be a king - Psalm 2:6;
7. Be anointed by the holy spirit - Isaiah 11:2;
8. Performing miracles - Isaiah 35:5-6;
9. Teaching parables - Psalm 78:2;
10. Betrayed by a friend - Psalm 41:9;
11. Sold for thirty pieces of silver - Zechariah 11:12;
12. Forsaken by his disciples - Zechariah 13:7;
13. Accused by false witnesses - Psalm 35:11;
14. Unresponsive to his accusers - Isaiah 53:7;
15. Wounded and bruised - Isaiah 53:5;
16. Smitten and spat upon - Isaiah 50:6;
17. Mocked - Psalm 22:6-8;
18. Pierced - Psalm 22:16 and Zechariah 12:10;
19. Hated by his own people - Isaiah 53:3;
20. Hated without reason - Psalm 69:4;
21. Would suffer thirst, offered gall and vinegar - Psalm 69:21;
22. No bones broken - Psalm 34:20; and
23. Buried with the rich - Isaiah 53:9.
Hallalu Yahu'ah Sabaoth!
Hallalu Yah Shua HaMashiach!
Hallalu Ruach HaKodesh!