Traditions of the Elders – What are they?

By Hardus de Klerk

Have you ever wondered where in the Torah it specifies that one must wash cups and pots etc.? Or where in the Torah are we commanded to wash our hands (not the normal way of washing hands but in a ritualistic sense) ? Yahushua had some strong words to say to the Pharisees and scribes. Let’s look at an example:

Mark 7:1 And the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together around Him when they had come from Jerusalem,

 2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.

 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders;

 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)

 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”

 6 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.

 7 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

 8Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

 9 He was also saying to them, “You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.

 10 “For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death’;

 11 but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’

 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother;

 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

 14 And after He called the multitude to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand:

 15 there is nothing outside the man which going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.

 16 “If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.

 (Mar 7:1-16 NAS)

The way many teachers and pastors interpret this passage is that “we can now eat all things, the Law has been done away with we don’t need to do those ‘Jewish’ things anymore. But, brethren is this correct? Is this what Yahushua is teaching here? I submit that a careful reading of this passage of Scripture , along with the rest of Scripture, will show that this is not at all what Yahushua was teaching!

Notice that the issue the Pharisees had with Yahushua was about His disciples eating with defiled/unwashed hands. Again, this is not talking about normal hand washing but the ritual washing according to the Pharisees. Then our Text says that the Pharisees do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands according to the tradition of the elders. It also says there are many other things they also do which they received in order to observe. Now would Yahushua speak of the Law of God as traditions of men, for He admonishes them in verse 7?

Elsewhere in Scripture Yahushua speaks of the Law in this way, He says:

17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

 18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.

 19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

 20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

 (Mat 5:17-20 NAS)

This isn’t adding up brethren, and the problem is not with Yahushua! It is clear that He isn’t speaking of the Torah in Mark 7. In fact in verse 8 He parallels the Commandment of God with these traditions of the elders, clearly making a distinction between the two! So just what exactly are these traditions of the elders?

Nowhere in the Torah are we commanded to wash our hands in this manner, nor are we commanded of the washing of cups and pots etc. The Pharisees (including modern day ‘pharisees’) claims that on mount Sinai God gave Moses the written Torah which was written down on stone inscribed with the Finger of God. PLUS, they say, God gave Moses the Oral Torah which was passed down by word of mouth. Only later it was written down and compiled into what we now know as the Talmud or Mishna. These are the traditions of the elders and the burdensome commandments that Yahushua spoke against! It is the ‘Jewish Fables’ Paul speaks of in one of his letters. Verse 13 speaks of these traditions being handed down to future generations. According the Jews the Talmud was handed down by word of mouth to future generations. So brethren, which Law do you think Yahushua described as traditions of men? Do you still think it’s the Torah of Elohim or is it these traditions of the oral law? After carefully weighing the evidence I think it is quite clear!

** If you want some detailed information on this subject, visit our E-Books page and download the book – “Hebrew-Roots-Book”

3 thoughts on “Traditions of the Elders – What are they?

  1. Dave son of Ron of the house of Edwards

    Thank you…these things I have learning lately, and the distiction is clear. Torah or Talmud…I choose Torah! The traditions of man and his ever changing laws are invading every aspect of the globe. Messiah is coming! No one knows the hour but the signs are becoming more evident with each passing year. I feel like I should get a warning trumpet and blow it each day from my house. Peace be with you. Brother Dave

    1. Shalom brother Dave!
      Thanks so much for your comment. I absolutely agree with you! These traditions are causing so much confusion and deception that its heart breaking. We wait with you for Messiah’s return, shalom to you!

  2. konwayk

    I agree with you. Traditions of the Elders later came to be known as Talmud. Traditions of the Elders was also known as Traditions of our fathers (in Galatians 1:14) or Traditions of our forefathers by Josephus in Antiquities of Jews.

    “What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers.” (Antiquities of Jews Book XIII.X.VI).

    This is also agreed by Jewish society.

    Rabbi Michael Rodkinson – “The Talmud, then, is the written form of that which, in the time of Jesus, was called the Traditions of the Elders, and to which he makes frequent allusions” (Source – The History of the Talmud, Vol. II, page 70, Chapter IX).

    Traditions of the Elders came to be called Mishnah in second century AD, because Aramaic was the spoken language of Jews in first century and early second century AD (upto 130 AD). But when Bar Kokhba came to power around 131/132 AD, he made a special decree to revive Hebrew and make Hebrew as the official language of Jews in order to establish himself as the Messiah. From 132 AD onwards, Hebrew started becoming the language of Jews. So Jews started converting Aramaic Jewish documents into Hebrew.

    So after Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 AD), they started converting Traditions of the Elders (which was in Aramaic) into Hebrew. By the end of second century AD, Traditions of the Elders came to be known as Mishnah and later came to be called Talmud.

    You can get more information about the language of Jesus here – http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/Language_of_Jesus

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