How the Hebrew Bible Falsifies Islam Pt. 1
The Nations shall Worship Yahweh and his Messianic King
Muslim apologists are fond of claiming that the Hebrew Bible is closer in its teachings concerning God, Messiah, salvation etc., to the Quran, and Islamic theology in general, than it is to the Christian faith, particularly the NT writings.
In light of this assertion we have decided to embark on a comparison between the Hebrew Bible and the Islamic sources in order to see whether this is the case.
In this particular article we are going to see what the OT scriptures have to say concerning the relationship between Yahweh and his anointed kings, especially the Messiah. This will help us determine whether the Hebrew Bible is more in line with that what the Quran says concerning this subject than with the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures.
What the Quran teaches about the Prophets and Apostles
According to the Quran, all the Biblical prophets and apostles were Muslims:
And who forsakes the religion of Ibrahim but he who makes himself a fool, and most certainly We chose him in this world, and in the hereafter he is most surely among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, Be a Muslim, he said: I submit myself to the Lord of the worlds. And the same did Ibrahim enjoin on his sons and (so did) Yaqoob. O my sons! surely Allah has chosen for you (this) faith, therefore die not unless you are Muslims. Nay! were you witnesses when death visited Yaqoob, when he said to his sons: What will you serve after me? They said: We will serve your God and the God of your fathers, Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq, one God only, and to Him do we submit. S. 2:130-133 Shakir
When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: "Who will be My helpers to (the work of) God?" Said the disciples: "We are God's helpers: We believe in God, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims. S.3:52 Y. Ali – cf. Q. 5:111
Ibrahim was not a Jew nor a Christian but he was (an) upright (man), a Muslim, and he was not one of the polytheists. S. 3:67 Shakir
And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper! S. 22:78 Pickthall
This also includes the royal prophets, e.g. prophets who also ruled as kings, such as David and Solomon:
We have inspired you as We have inspired Noah and the prophets after him. We inspired Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Patriarchs, and Jesus, and Job, and Jonah, and Aaron, and Solomon; and We have given David the Psalms. S. 4:163 Quran: A Reformist Translation (QRT)
Such was Our argument that We gave Abraham over his people; We raise the degree of whom We please. Your Lord is Wise, Knowledgeable. We granted him Isaac and Jacob, both of whom We guided; and Noah We guided from before; and from his progeny is David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. It is such that We reward the good doers. And Zachariah and John, and Jesus, and Elias; all were of the reformed. Also Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot; each We have distinguished over the worlds. From their fathers and their progeny and their brothers We have also chosen; and We guided them to a straight path. Such is the guidance of God, He guides with it whom He pleases of His servants. If they set up partners, then all that they had worked would fall away from them. Those to whom We have given the book, the law, and the prophethood, if they reject it, then We will entrust it to a people who will not reject it. These are the ones guided by God; so let their guidance be an example. Say, "I do not ask you for a wage; this is but a reminder for the worlds." S. 6:83-90 QRT
Your Lord is fully aware of who is in the heavens and the earth. We have preferred some prophets over others, and We gave David the Psalms. S. 17:55 QRT
This brings us to the next section.
What the Quran teaches about the nature and worship of Allah
The Muslim scripture emphatically teaches that only Allah is to be served and worshiped:
Say (O Muhammad): "I am only a man like you. It has been inspired to me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God i.e. Allah). So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord." S. 18:110 Hilali-Khan
It also denies that Allah is a father to anyone, including Jesus. It claims that the highest relationship one can have with the Islamic deity is that of a slave:
“The Jews said, "Ezra is God 's son," and the Nazarenes said, "The Messiah is God 's son." Such is their utterances with their mouths; they imitate the sayings of those who rejected before them. God 's curse be on them. How deviated are they! S. 9:30 QRT
They said the Gracious has taken a son! You have come with a gross blasphemy. The heavens are about to shatter from it, and the earth crack open, and the mountains fall and crumble. That they claimed that the Gracious had a son! What need does the Gracious have to take a son? When all there is in the heavens and the earth will but come to the Gracious AS SERVANTS. S. 19:88-93 QRT
They said, "The Gracious has taken a son!" Be He glorified, they are all but honored servants. S. 21:26 QRT
Since the Quran asserts that the prophets and righteous kings of Israel were supposedly Muslims this means that they would not allow anyone to bow down to them as an act of reverence. Nor would they refer to God as their Father or be called his sons, since this expressly goes against the teachings of the Quran,
What Does the Hebrew Bible Have to Say
The OT writings expressly contradict the Quran at this point since the prophetic scriptures emphatically testify that God honored the kings of Israel, i.e. David and his royal successors, by allowing them to enter into a father-son relationship with him. He also graciously allowed them to sit on his earthly throne in Jerusalem so as to reign on his behalf as his earthly representatives:
“Yet, the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever. For He has chosen Judah to be a leader; and in the house of Judah, my father’s house, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel. Of all my sons (for the Lord has given me many sons), He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. He said to me, ‘Your son Solomon is the one who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be a son to Me, and I will be a father to him. I will establish his kingdom forever if he resolutely performs My commandments and My ordinances, as is done now.’” 1 Chronicles 28:4-7
“Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father; and he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him. All the officials, the mighty men, and also all the sons of King David pledged allegiance to King Solomon. The Lord highly exalted Solomon in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed on him royal majesty which had not been on any king before him in Israel.” 1 Chronicles 29:23-25
“Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the Lord your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness.” 2 Chronicles 9:8
“Once You spoke in vision to Your godly ones, And said, ‘I have given help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found David My servant; With My holy oil I have anointed him.’ … He will cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’” Psalm 89:19-20, 26
As such, Yahweh granted them to share in his sovereignty over the earth as well as to receive royal honor.
For example, the Hebrew testifies that Yahweh alone is exalted:
“That they may know that You alone, whose name is Yahweh, Are the Most High (elyon) over all the earth.” Psalm 83:18
And yet so is the Davidic king:
“You once spoke in a vision to Your loyal ones and said: ‘I have granted help to a warrior; I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found David My servant; I have anointed him with My sacred oil. … He will call to Me, “You are my Father, my God, the rock of my salvation.” Also I will make him My firstborn, The highest (elyon) of the kings of the earth.’” Psalm 89:19-20, 26-27
The nations are expected to serve and worship Yahweh:
“Serve (‘ibdu) the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:11
“Serve (‘ibdu) the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Acknowledge that Yahweh is God. He made us, and we are His—His people, the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:2-3
“All nations whom You have made Shall come and worship (wayishtahawu) before You, O Lord (adonay), And shall glorify (wikabbadu) Your name.” Psalm 86:9
“‘From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh will come and bow down (lahishtahawot) before Me,’ says Yahweh.” Isaiah 66:23
They are also expected to serve and worship the Davidic king:
“Then David said to the whole assembly, ‘Bless Yahweh your God.’ And the whole assembly blessed Yahweh, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads low and worshiped Yahweh AND the king (wayyiqadu wayyishtahawu YHWHW walammelek).” 1 Chronicles 29:20
“You have delivered me from the strivings of the people; You have made me the head of the nations; A people I have not known shall serve me (ya‘abduni). As soon as they hear of me they obey me; The foreigners submit to me.” Psalm 18:43-44
“Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! … May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust! … May all kings fall down before Him (wayishtahawulow); May all nations serve Him (ya‘abduhu).” Psalm 72:1, 9, 11
“They will serve (wa‘abadu) Yahweh their God AND David their king whom I will raise up for them.” Jeremiah 30:9(1)
We are further told that the peoples are expected to praise Yahweh and to recognize his glory:
“Give to Yahweh, O families of the peoples, Give to Yahweh glory (kabod) and strength. Give to Yahweh the glory (kabod) due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship (hishtahawu) Yahweh in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. Psalm 96:7-9
“Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, And govern the nations on earth. Selah Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.” Psalm 67:3-7
And yet we are also told that the peoples will praise the Davidic king forever and that he possesses great glory:
“His glory (kabodo) is great in Your salvation; Honor and majesty You have placed upon him. For You have made him most blessed forever; You have made him exceedingly glad with Your presence.” Psalm 21:5-6
“So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord (adonayik), worship Him (wahishtahawilow)… I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever. Psalm 45:11, 17
Interestingly, the word adonayik is used elsewhere for Yahweh:
“Thus says your Lord (adonayik), Yahweh and your God, Who pleads the cause of His people: ‘See, I have taken out of your hand The cup of trembling, The dregs of the cup of My fury; You shall no longer drink it.’” Isaiah 51:22
Finally, Yahweh expects all the nations to fully submit to the rule of his Anointed King since they will be destroyed if they refuse to do so:
“Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against Yahweh and against His Anointed (Messiah), saying, ‘Let us tear THEIR fetters apart and cast away THEIR cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ I will surely tell of the decree of Yahweh: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the every ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship Yahweh with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” Psalm 2:1-12
Before we proceed any further, it is vitally important that we qualify what it means for the Davidic kings to receive worship lest the readers misunderstand. We are not attempting to prove that the Israelite kings were being worshiped as God, since they clearly were not. They did, however, receive relative worship or, more precisely, obeisance or reverence in recognition of their unique relationship with and status before God.
With that said, it is time to see what the NT writings have to say concerning this subject.
What the New Testament Teaches
The New Testament helps us understand why God would allow the Davidic kings to receive such honor. According to the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures, all these kings were pointing to a greater reality, to a specific individual who would be far superior to them since he happens to be in actuality what they only were symbolically, e.g. God incarnate.
These kings were pointing to the Lord Jesus, God’s unique, divine Son:
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.’” Luke 1:26-35
In fact, some of these OT texts such as Psalm 72 and Jeremiah 30:9 are Messianic in nature, e.g. prophetic texts which point to Christ.
As such, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Christian Scriptures not only testify that Jesus shares in God’s rule over the nations, but further proclaim that he even receives the worship which only God is supposed to receive:
"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’… After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:1-2, 11
“But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’” Matthew 28:16-18
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son EVEN AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:22-23
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things, and through Whom also He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So He became as much superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are My Son; today I have become Your Father’? Or again, ‘I will be His Father, and He will be My Son’? And again, when God brings His firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship Him.’ In speaking of the angels He says, ‘He makes His angels spirits, and His servants flames of fire.’ But about the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has set You above Your companions by anointing You with the oil of joy.’” Hebrews 1:1-9
“and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6
“and one of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.’ And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.’ Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’ And EVERY CREATED THING which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, AND TO THE LAMB, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’ And the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:5-14
What this means is that the Hebrew Bible contradicts the Quran, but perfectly agrees with the Christian Scriptures!
In other words, we have two sets of sacred writings which falsify the claims made by Muhammad in his scripture.
This brings us to the conclusion of the first part of our discussion. It is time to move on to Part 2 since we have a lot more to say concerning the exalted status of the Messiah.
(1) Lest the readers assume that Jeremiah has the historical David in view here, it is clear from his book that the name “David” isn’t a reference to the ancient king whom God will resurrect from the dead in order to reign over Israel once again. Rather, the name refers to one of his descendants, specifically the Messiah, who will be like his ancestor in certain respects.
This can be easily demonstrated by simply looking at the immediate context of the chapter in question:
“Their Prince will be one of themselves; their Ruler will come from their midst. I will make Him draw near, and He will approach Me, for who would dare of himself to approach Me? declares Yahweh.” Jeremiah 30:21
According to this verse, Yahweh will choose a Ruler from among the people to approach him, which therefore proves that the King to come will not literally be David. This is further confirmed by the following passages:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares Yahweh, when I will raise up FOR David a Righteous Branch (Tsemach Tsadiq), and He shall reign as King and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘Yahweh Our Righteousness (YHWH Tsidqenu).’” Jeremiah 23:5-6
“In those days and at that time I will cause a Righteous Branch of David to spring forth, and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is what she will be called: Yahweh Our Righteousness.” Jeremiah 33:15-16
The One whom God will raise up to rule justly and judge righteously is expressly called the Branch of David, i.e. a descendant of David, and not David himself.
Interestingly, this King is also given the name “Yahweh Our Righteousness,” which is an explicit indication that this particular Ruler will be more than human; the King who is to come from David’s line will also be fully divine, being the human embodiment of God’s very own nature and presence.
That passages such as Jeremiah 23:5-6 and 30:9 are Messianic in nature is even acknowledged by rabbinic sources:
Rav Y’huda said: “Rav said that the Holy One, blessed be He, will in the future raise for them [for Israel] another David, for it is said They shall serve the Lord their God and David their king whom I will raise up unto them (Jer. 30:9). It does not say ‘raised up,’ but ‘will raise up.’” (B. Sanh. 98b)
R. Sh’muel bar Nahmani said in the name of R. Yohanan: “Three are called by the name of the holy One, blessed be He, and they are: the righteous, the Messiah, and Jerusalem….” (B. Bab. Bath. 75b)
(Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts: Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years [Wayne State University Press, Detroit, MI 1979], pp. 20-21; bold emphasis ours)
What is the name of King Messiah? R. Abba bar Kahana said: “LORD [Adonai] is his name, for it is written, I will raise unto David a righteous Shoot…. In his days Judah shall be saved…. And this is the name whereby he shall called: The Lord is our righteousness (Jer. 23:5-6).” For R. Levi said: “Happy is the country whose name is like the name of its king and the name of whose king is like the name of its God….” R. Y’hoshu‘a said: “SHOOT [Tzemah] is his name, for it is written, Behold a man whose name is the Shoot and who will shoot up out of his place and build the Temple of the Lord (Zech. 6:12).” R. Yudan in the name of R. Aybo said: “Menahem [‘Comforter’] is his name, for it is written, Because the Comforter is far from me (Lam. 1:16).” In the house of R. Shela they said: “SHILOH is the name of the Messiah, for it is written, Until Shiloh will come (Gen. 49:10), and the word is spelled Shela.” In the house of R. Hanina they said: “HANINA is his name, for it is written, For I will show you no favor [hanina] (Jer. 16:13).” In the house of R. Yannai they said: “YINNON is his name, for it is written May his name be continued [yinnon] as long as the sun (Ps. 72:17).” R. Biva of Srungaya said: “NEHIRA [‘Light’] is his name, for it is written, And the light [nehora] dwelleth with Him (Dan. 2:22), and it is spelled nehira.” R. Y’huda ben R. Shim‘on said in the name of R. Sh’muel ben R. Yitzhaq: “This King Messiah, if he is of those who are alive, his name is DAVID, and if he is of those who have died, his name is DAVID.” R. Tanhuma said: “I shall tell you the reason: [it is written] He giveth great salvation to His king, and showeth mercy to His anointed (Ps. 18:51). [Thereafter] it is not written ‘and to David,’ but to His anointed to David and his seed….”
(Lam. Rab. 1:51, p. 36, ad Lam. 1:16)
Rav Huna said: “The Messiah is called by seven names and they are: Yinnon, Tzidqenu [‘Our Justice’], Tzemah [‘Shoot’], Menahem [‘Comforter’], David, Shiloh, and Elijah. (Mid. Mishle, ed. Buber, p. 87)
The Messiah is called by eight names: Yinnon, Tzemah, Pele [“Miracle”], Yo‘etz [“Counselor”], Mashiah [“Messiah”], El [“God”], Gibbor [“Hero”], and Avi ‘Ad Shalom [“Eternal Father of Peace”]. (S. Buber’s note, ibid. p. 87)
(Ibid, pp. 21-22; bold emphasis ours)
As for the reason why Jerusalem itself is named after Yahweh it is because it is the city where Yahweh himself comes to personally dwell in, the place where the prophets say his throne and name reside:
“It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land, declares Yahweh, they will no longer say, ‘the ark of the covenant of Yahweh.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again. At that time they will call Jerusalem, ‘The Throne of Yahweh,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the Name of Yahweh; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.” Jeremiah 3:16-17
“He led me to the gate, the one that faces east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice sounded like the roar of mighty waters, and the earth shone with His glory. The vision I saw was like the one I had seen when He came to destroy the city, and like the ones I had seen by the Chebar Canal. I fell facedown. The glory of Yahweh entered the temple by way of the gate that faced east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court, and the glory of Yahweh filled the temple. While the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from the temple. He said to me: ‘Son of Man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I dwell among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel and their kings will no longer defile My holy name by their religious prostitution and by their corpses of their kings at their high places. Whenever they placed their threshold next to My threshold and their doorposts beside My doorposts, with only a wall between Me and them, they were defiling My holy name by the detestable acts they committed. So I destroyed them in My anger. Now let them remove their prostitution and the corpses of their kings far from Me, and I will dwell among them forever.” Ezekiel 43:1-9
“The perimeter of the city will be six miles (lit. 18,000 [cubits]), and the name of the city from that day on will be: Yahweh Is There.” Ezekiel 48:35
However, according to Jeremiah 23:5-6 it is the Messianic Branch of David who comes to reign in Jerusalem!
This simply confirms that the Messiah is none other than the human manifestation of Yahweh God who comes to dwell with his people, which explains why he is named Yahweh our Righteousness!
Thus, this is simply another area in which both the Hebrew Bible and the NT agree with each other over against the Quran!