Zechariah Chapter XXV

Historical Circumstances Relating to Judah Whose Bands of Brotherhood Have Been Broken With Israel

This is the end of the verse-by-verse interpretation of the book of Zechariah. There is good reason to place supplemental chapters at the close of the book. These will add further background material which will clear the thoughts and special conditions under which the prophecies were written. They will also describe the later times during which they were unfolded. The sections to follow are also designed so the reader will better understand the rise of a new Jewish religion without the Temple. One of these elements is an understanding of the "oral Law."

Oral Law was a valid part of revelation to the Children of Israel from Sinai onward. The development of extensions of the "oral law" led to the establishing of Judaism in a new form. The Jewish religion, without the Temple, developed into Judaism as we now know it. After the destruction of the Temple there was a very real danger that the "manner" of performing Temple sacrifices and the "manner" of obeying some legal statutes of the Law of Moses would be lost as a result of both the destruction of the Temple and the consequent inactivity in daily ritual performance. Some of these "manners" were prescribed by, but not written in, the Law of Moses. This will be explained in the next section. Thus, it was necessary to write down that which had been previously handed down by one generation of priests to the next in view of the hope of the Jews to restore the Temple and the Law of Moses in Jerusalem. It is this desire not to lose the "oral law" that produced the Mishnah.

With the appearance of the Mishnah, which is the now written "oral law," Judaism took a .new direction. Just as The New Testament and the Law of Moses and the rest of the Old Testament became the center of written authority and guided the direction of the Christian religion, so in the exact same way the Mishnah and Law of Moses and the Old Testament became the standard that guided the new religion of Judaism without a Temple. After the destruction of the Temple and the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem, in 70 C.E. and from Judea in 135 C.E., the need to record the "oral law" was imperative if it were not to be lost. The history of how that was done is given in a chapter below. From the time of having committed the Mishnah to written form the majority of decisions on legal and ritual life would be based on its study. This is because major portions of the Law of Moses are not relevant without the Temple. The religion of the Jews was now a religion of a people separated from the land that was central to keeping the Law of Moses. Thus, also, the majority of the not yet written Talmud would be collections of decisions made for the dispersed nation, based on the study of the Mishnah, and only the Law of Moses as it related to the "oral law" of the Mishnah. Just as in Christian circles the New Testament would become the standard of study and the Law of Moses would be secondary and only foundational, so the Mishnah would relate to the Law of Moses in the new Judaism. Thus, with the Mishnah, modern Judaism was born and the centricity of the "oral law" made complete.

This makes an understanding of the validity of the "oral law" a necessity in order to understand the Jewish religion at the time of Zechariah, and then afterward in the "Silent Years," and in the apostolic period, and then in the new Judaism that was born of making it the center of Jewish thought.

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