THE MEANING OF BEING THE CHOSEN PEOPLE
“I am Hashem; I have called upon you in Righteousness; and I will strengthen [it] through your hand; and I will protect you; and I will set you for a Covenant of the people -- for a Light unto the nations.” (Isaiah 42:6)
As stated at the very beginning of the Hebrew Bible, God created the first human being, Adam, “b’Tzelem Elohim” -- “in The Image of God” (Gen. 1:27). Thus, each descendant of Adam -- that is, every human being -- is deemed to have been individually chosen to bear The Image of God. In this way, every righteous person -- whether Jew or Gentile -- is exactly the same in his or her individual relationship with the God of Israel, even if such person has accepted false religious doctrine. The Talmud, an expansive discussion of Jewish law and tradition completed some 1,500 years ago, expresses this egalitarian concept by declaring: “The Righteous of all nations have a share in the World To Come.” (Tosefta, Sanhedrin 13). And the Mishna, the earliest foundation of the Talmud completed some 1,800 years ago, declares, regarding the purpose of God in having created only one Adam: “Therefore only a single man was created to teach you that if anyone destroys a single soul from the Children of Man, Scripture charges him as though he had destroyed a whole World, and whoever rescues a single soul from the Children of Man, Scripture credits him as though he had saved a whole World. And [only a single man was created] for the sake of Peace among Humanity -- that no man might say to his fellow, ‘My ancestor was greater than your ancestor’ ...” (Sanhedrin 4:5).
Yet -- despite the reality that some number
of individual Jews are, in fact, evildoers -- the Jews are
nonetheless God's Chosen People in their collective relationship with
God. Accordingly, God has said of and to the Jewish people: “...
So said HaShem: My first-born Son is
Nonetheless, Chosenness ought not be confused with Righteousness. For, as Moses warned the Jewish people prior to their entry into the Land of Israel: “Do not say in your heart, when HaShem pushes them [the Canaanite nations] away from before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness does HaShem bring me to possess this Land’; for, because of the wickedness of these nations does HaShem drive them away from before you. Not because of your righteousness and the uprightness of your heart are you coming to possess their Land, but because of the wickedness of these nations does HaShem, your God, drive them away from before you, and in order to establish the Word that HaShem swore to your forefathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And you should know that not because of your righteousness does HaShem, your God, give you this good Land to possess it; for, you are a stiff-necked people.” (Deut. 9:4-6). Consequently, the Jewish people’s collective status as the Chosen People is a more than three millennia old work-in-progress.
Moreover, the status of being collectively Chosen does not mean that any particular Jew is more beloved by God than any particular Gentile, as that Judgment is made by God alone, based upon each person’s individual moral worth. The Hebrew Bible itself is proof of this, as it abounds with tales of worthy Gentiles -- from Adam and Eve to Noah to the Amorite brothers Mamre, Aner and Eshcol to Malchizedek to Job to Jethro to Rahab to Ruth (the last of whom, by joining herself to the Jewish people, became the ancestress of King David as well as of the future Messiah). Moreover, the Hebrew Bible even contains an example of God extending His Mercy to the entire population of pagan Nineveh, capital city of the Assyrian Empire, over the strenuous objection of the Jewish Prophet Jonah. (see Jonah 1:1 - 4:11).
Rather, the status of being collectively Chosen means that God's Plan for Humanity will be made manifest and will be implemented through the Jewish people -- both the righteous ones and the evil ones.
Even Jesus, the progenitor of Christianity, agreed with the foregoing, as is
demonstrated by the following exchange between him and a gentile follower: "The woman said to him, 'Sir, I perceive
that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say
However, the status of being collectively Chosen also means that, collectively, the gentile nations will eventually suffer God’s Wrath when they join together to oppress the Jewish nation (see Genesis 12:3; Numbers 24:8-9; Deuteronomy 32:43; Isaiah 59:17-19; Jeremiah 2:3; Ezekiel 38:3 - 39:6; Joel 4:1-2; and Zechariah 14:2-13).
© Mark Rosenblit