Antisemitism – What is it?

Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham

We very often use words without ever thinking about or knowing their actual meanings. The words ‘antisemite’ and ‘antisemitism’ are some such examples. A little etymology might help.

‘Semite’ arises from the word “shem”, meaning “name.”  Shem was one of the three sons of Noah- Ham, Japheth and Shem. The first two are adjectives, meaning in Hebrew ‘hot’ and ‘pretty,’ whereas the name Shem is a noun, meaning ‘name.’  From the loins of Shem would descend the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Moses, David and Yeshua (Jesus). This would be the line chosen to carry the Name and knowledge of the God of Israel: YHVH (“this is my name and memorial forever to all your generations”- Exodus 3:15).  Those are the Shemites (Semites).

Among Jews the Name is not uttered due its sanctity, but referred to as HaShem – the Name. “Blessed be the Lord” is said in Hebrew, “Baruch HaShem’ – blessed be the Name.

To be anti-semitic, or an Antisemite, therefore is to take a stand against the Name itself.  The tribe of Judah (Yehuda), from which the Messiah Yeshua comes, actually carries within itself the Name YHVH, plus one additional letter (יְהוּדָה). The word ‘Jew’ (Yehudi) comes from the name Judah (Yehuda) – “the people called  by my Name” (2 Chronicles 7:14), being the only name in the Bible that carries the full name of God, other than the Tetragramaton itself. “Salvation,” Yeshua told us, “is of the Jews.”

Now after 2000 years of exile, the Jews have returned and restored the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, also restoring the ancient Hebrew language to life, clarifying many Biblical passages. And yet many find this to be an affront to their fixed theologies- Muslims, Atheists, and even many Christians who claim that their religion has long replaced the Jews and their God and His promises, and therefore God cannot possibly do such things. But it is now an undeniable fact that all may see, hear, touch, taste and visit, despite disturbing many nations, religions, and individuals.

Also, in some of those belief systems, they are of the  opinion that those Jews who sincerely pray to God in the synagogues, avoiding Jesus in their understanding to keep the commandment to worship no other gods, are in fact doomed to eternal damnation. Though these churches worship a Jew as God, they have cast His own people into Gehinom, and often enough very literally in Inquisitions, Crusades, expulsions, Pogroms, and the Holocaust  for the last 2000 years- in His name. And yes, Jesus not only was a Jew, crucified as the King of the Jews, but will return as a Jew, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). The New Jerusalem will have the names of the original Twelve Tribes of Israel on its gates, and the twelve Jewish apostles. Antisemites would indeed feel very uncomfortable in such a place.

Personally, knowing orthodox Jews who actually call sincerely upon ‘Yeshuatcha, Yeshuateinu” (“your salvation”=Yeshua) etc. daily, I cannot imagine the loving YHVH could have watched them being marched  into the horrific gas chambers singing “ani ma’amin b’emunah shlemah b’viat ha mashiach…” (I believe with a perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah) and could have entered death and come before the Messiah and He telling them to take the elevator down to the bottom floor. Instead, I see him with his arms open as did Joseph to his brothers who had sold him to the Gentile, and Yeshua saying to them the kind words of Joseph, “Please come unto me” (g’shu na elai) in Genesis 45:4.

But ultimately nobody excepting God, the righteous Judge, really knows – “as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”