On the Notion of the Rabbinate

A topic arose in a meeting I attended for my local congregation which reminded me how much certain Jewish institutions are misunderstood. We were discussing how best to go about filling the position of rabbi for our congregation and because of our financial situation, we are forced to consider things like part-time rabbis. One of the participants said that we had to have a rabbi because of performing conversions and participating in a Bet Din (a Jewish court convened these days most often to approve conversion, but also used, for example, for the Halitzah ceremony which will await another time for explication).
I spoke up at this point and pointed out that no rabbi is necessary for any of these things. I should add since I’m writing at greater length here that in most congregations rabbis are usually performing such chores because, after all, they are educated in the necessities.
But there is no requirement for this.
One reason there is no such requirement is that, in fact, there are no rabbis today who can fulfill the traditional demands for ordination as a rabbi. The last person who had some claim on the title was Rabbi Chaim Vital, who died in 1620. It’s by no means historically certain that he had authentic smikhah, the Hebrew term for ordination, but his contemporaries largely accepted him so we can leave it at that. Since his passing, not a rabbi in the world has been able to claim authentic ordination.
This seems to have led to title inflation in some parts of the Orthodox Jewish world. One of the briefer ones is “HaRav HaGaon” (something like the The Genius Rabbi), which of course is quickly eclipsed by “Maran Harav Hagaon” (“Our master the Genius Rabbi”). And of course, we see that many find it necessary to add the trailing honorific, Shlit”a (short for Sheyikhye Le’orech Yamim Tovim Amen, “May he live a good long life, Amen”).
All for folks who do not, in fact, have authentic smikhah.
Now, before some of you get riled up, I’m not dissing the modern institution of the rabbinate. There are wonderful schools in every modern Jewish movement who produce well-trained scholars of Judaism who are fit to lead congregations. I’m simply explaining that conferring the title of “rabbi” on them does not, by Jewish tradition or law, provide them with the authority discussed in the Mishnah, Talmud, or Halakhic codes.

How to Define the Word Jew?

On the Definition of the Word “Jew”

The most difficult problem I had to navigate in constructing a PhD thesis was overcoming the problem most people, including scholars, have with understanding the definition of the word “Jew” and its ideological corrolary, “Judaism.” People use the word “Jew” in ways that suggest they imagine they know the definition of the word. It calls to mind a common aphorism, “I don’t know how to define it, but I know it when I see it.” For me, as a scholar of the very period when Judaism in its modern formulation began to take shape, the realization hit home that the greatest scholars of my generation and the generations preceding me were just as guilty as ordinary people of misunderstanding and misusing the word “Jew.”

How are we going to approach the question of defining this word? Of course, one way would be to look words up in the dictionary. We could check “religion” and then “Jew” or “Judaism.” But dictionaries are ill suited to answer complex issues. How might an anthropologist or a philosopher or a historian go about defining these terms? To grasp the problem, I think it works best to conduct a bit of a thought experiment. Consider Jewish communities and Jews in our own day and in our own environment. How do we know the people we are thinking about are Jews? How would we define the religion that they observe in their places of worship?

Most people who know anything about Jews and Judaism know that in the modern world there are different types of Jews. A person might know, for example, that a Jew is supposed to cover their head while worshiping, and perhaps even know the term kippah or yarmulke for that head covering. But where is the evidence in the Torah (Pentateuch) or the Bible that people needed to cover their heads during worship? And on the other hand, many modern Jews, especially in synagogues of the Reform and Reconstructionist movements, gather and pray bare-headed. Who decides these things and upon what do they make these decisions?

Realizing that while a unanimous standard is probably impossible, nevertheless how would we try to describe the religion which defines Judaism? Things that you will almost certainly hear as soon as the question is asked, 1) A belief in the importance of the Torah, defined as the first five books of the Hebrew Bible; 2) observing certain dietary restrictions such as avoiding pork, shellfish, and mixtures of milk and meat;[1] 3) a common liturgy with elements familiar to any Jew who attends synagogue such as the Amidah (a standard set of benedictions),[2] the Qaddish (also spelled, Kaddish) recited several times in every service);[3] 4) the notion that a quorum of 10 adults is required for communal worship;[4] 5) a common set of holidays including the Sabbath,[5] Rosh haShanah (the Jewish New Year),[6] Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement),[7] Passover;[8] 6) investing the authority to make religious decisions in the person of a rabbi.[9] Note that many indisputably Jewish groups nevertheless do not accept all of even these basic standards.

Modern Jews have recently (in the last half-century or so) been confronted by groups which assert their own special entitlement to classification as the “true” Jews or the “true” Israel. Strangely enough, this is a modern form of one of the oldest challenges to Jewish identity, namely the Christian Church. It was (and doctrinally still is) the claim of the Church that through the agency of Jesus and his apostles, biblical authority has moved to those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The newest challenges have come from some African Americans claiming that they are the true Israel, and the most recent, the claim of some Jews or people claiming to be Jews, that true Judaism must include recognition of Jesus—the so-called Jews for Jesus Movement, and now often termed, “Messianic Jews” or “Messianic Judaism”.

What all these versions of Judaism share is that none of them resemble the religious beliefs, liturgies and behaviors of people living in the time when there was a Temple to the LORD in Jerusalem—with brief interludes according to biblical history, from the era of David until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

Many of the points I mentioned above could be the subjects of entire books, so to keep the narrative brief, I’ll have to make some simplifications. Starting with point number 1) above, many of my friends would howl in protest if I tried to claim that ancient versions of Judaism did not revere the Torah. But the plain, simple truth is that the Torah did not even exist as a book until the era of Ezra/Nehemiah (ca 450 BCE, roughtly a thousand years after the time of Moses). The Bible itself recounts the story of how a book of the Torah was “discovered” during the reign of King Josiah.[10] If that book was the larger part of Deuteronomy, as most modern scholars hold, we can say that no one until the time of Josiah was aware of a rule that Jerusalem, and the Temple of Jerusalem alone, was suitable for Israelite sacrifice and worship.

But there is something even more important about the notion that the Torah is the ultimate source of law and custom. No one today, not even the most Orthodox of the ultra-Orthodox, believes that we should follow large parts of its rules. Of course, you’ll want examples.

1)      The Torah demands the death penalty for anyone who violates the Sabbath. Jews throughout the ages have found ways to ignore this clear pronouncement.[11]

2)      The death penalty is also required for all sorts of infractions: adultery, incest, cursing or hitting a parent, idol worship, encouraging heathen belief, the daughter of a priest found liable for prostitution, a woman accused of adultery who cannot pass the required ritual. Deutronomy 13 demands the execution of an entire city if the inhabitants went along with some sort of idolatry. Numbers 1 demands the execution of an Israelite who tries to do the work of a Levite.[12]

3)      The Torah demands polygamous marriage when a married man’s brother dies childless leaving his widow. Rabbinic Judaism has made it all but impossible to honor the Torah’s requirement here.[13]

4)      If a woman is suspected of adultery, the Torah imposes a form of trial by fire.[14]

I could go on like this for a long time. People who devote their lives to religious principles have an uncanny ability to live in an intellectual form of denial. I assure you that if I raised these issues in the context of a get-together of Jews practicing the Orthodox version of Judaism, they would propose numerous explanations for why we are all honoring even these provisions in the Torah. And that, perhaps strangely enough, is the message here. From the perspective of people outside looking in, they are simply in denial, not much different from Mormons hearing that Jesus could not possibly have come to America or Muslims being told that Mohammed never set foot in Jerusalem. But every religious group has a set of principles by which to claim that their views are enshrined (so to speak) in historical fact.

Let’s return to the main point. If you were to describe a modern Jew and the form of worship they invoke when gathered, what would you say? You would notice some physically prominent aspects of dress (again somewhat dependent on the movement within Judaism) such as various forms of head-coverings, scarves with fringes, sacred dressings called “phylacteries” (t’fillin) which would be seen as cubes mounted by leather straps on the head and left arm.[15] Jews from every branch of Judaism gather in places called “synagogues”—interestingly a word which originated in Greek rather than Hebrew. If you ventured into the synagogue, you would see that the service was led by either one of the congregants or perhaps the congregational rabbi or a singer called a hazzan or cantor. The congregation in general would be governed by a rabbi who decides the rituals of the congregation.

You would also see a prayer book called a siddur which provides guides for the various daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rituals. While there are different versions of the siddur for the various movements, much of the content is standardized based on ancient models.[16] I’ve already touched on this above, but to provide just a bit more detail, the service requires a quorum of ten individuals (men for Orthodox congregations, adult men and women for most other movements) without which the communal prayers cannot be recited. The service is built on units which include modules designed to reflect ancient practices. For example, the morning service is called shaharit which means “morning” or “dawn” and was the name given to the morning sacrifice when the Temple stood in Jerusalem. On the Sabbath, there is a service unit called musaf which means “additional” and is designed to reflect the additional Sabbath sacrifice that was offered on that day in Temple times. The afternoon service is labeled minhah which was the grain offering offered in the Temple in the afternoon when it stood. Many modern Jews also meet for a nighttime service called ma’ariv which means “evening” and corresponds to nothing from the Temple era.

The core of each of these modern services is a prayer called the Amidah which means “standing” or Shmoneh Esrei, which means, “the eighteen benedictions.” As you are beginning to sense, the complexities grow and grow because while there are various versions of this prayer for various occasions, in none of them do Jews recite 18 benedictions. The most frequently recited version has 19, the Sabbath service version, just 7.

I think this is sufficient data for me to try to make my point. You now have an idea of how Jews dress, gather, and worship in our own time. Now let’s set the time machine back to the period when the Temple still stood. How recognizable would the people and their religion be to you?

First, while there were synagogues very late in that Temple era, they were not used for prayer. They were essentially schoolhouses. Almost no one in those days could afford to own the sacred texts, so synagogues arose to house sacred texts for communal study. People who wished to approach God understood that there was only one way to do it: a pilgrimmage to God’s home on Earth, the Temple of Jerusalem. A book of the Torah demanded no less.

Who were the authority figures for the Judeans? There was a king—and if you didn’t think the king had power, you might find yourself mounted on a cross.[17] If you needed an explanation of what to offer in the Temple on your pilgrimmage, that was the job of the priests and levites. I suspect some of the merchants who lined the entrances to the Temple would have been happy to oblige as well.

Here is what you would not have seen: rabbis. Now, I know that if you read traditional Jewish texts like the Mishnah (composed about 250 CE) you will find entire generations of rabbis who lived according to the Mishnah while the Temple stood, and for about 200 to 300 years before. But you won’t find any references to those rabbis in texts written before 70CE.

Now, here I must add a complication. Perhaps oddly enough from a Jewish religious perspective, someone could complain that one very famous “rabbi” (so idenitified in the Mishnah) was mentioned in the Christian Bible, namely one Gamliel. There are several aspects to that identification. First, Gamliel is not called a rabbi in the two places he is mentioned, Acts and Acts of the Apostles.[18] He is identified as a Pharisee, sometimes called a “doctor of the law” in modern translations. Second, we must note that both of those sources date from the period after the destruction of the Temple, so once again we lack evidence for a “rabbi” which predates the loss of the Temple. By the way, while Josephus certainly lived while the Temple was in existence, everything Josephus wrote was written after the destruction of the Temple.

Rabbis are not mentioned in any of our major sources which predate the Temple destruction. There are no rabbis in Josephus, Philo, or any of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

What this means is that the religion we know as Judaism is entirely the construct of a theocratic class which did not exist prior to about 200 CE, and which is granted absolutely no authority by any source prior to that date. All the sources, and among them are the Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”), Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Christian Bible, the writings of Philo and Josephus, all these sources recognize many types of religious authority: kings, prophets, seers, elders, priests and levites. Nowhere do we find the notion that mere study without the sanctity of these other qualifications grants religious authority.

What these rabbis accomplished in the decades and centuries following 200 CE was nothing short of a revolution. Their rulings abrogated huge portions of the Torah and replaced them with a theology that could only be described as alien to biblical ideology. If a person can’t get to the Temple in Jerusalem, that prayer called the Amidah can serve as a replacement. Can’t offer a sacrifice? Just burn a small amount of the bread dough and that will suffice. Accuse a woman of adultery? Sorry, no one knows how to perform the ritual of the suspected adultress (sotah), so you’ll have to find another way to solve your marital issues. Think someone deserves the death penalty? Well, you’ll have to show that the sin was viewed by two reliable witnesses who warned the person of his liability before he committed the act.

It is probably impossible to convince anyone these days that people who lived in the era of Jesus and Hillel (if indeed he is not a figure of legend) should not be called “Jews.” But it is vital to a proper appreciation of history that we understand that no modern Jew lives their life in anything remotely resembling the ways of life of Jesus and Hillel. Jesus, Hillel, Josephus, Philo, Herod—all these people believed that there was only place where God can be worshipped, the Temple in Jerusalem. They believed that the only proper way to worship God was by presenting offerings in that Temple. They believed that all religious authority was invested in priests and levites, but that the Torah had also granted authority to kings, prophets, and elders. They sought out the opinions of seers and soothsayers. Even a half-century after the the Temple was destroyed, the people who followed a charismatic leader named Simon ben Kosba did so because they believed him to be invested with sacred authority—the notion of a “messiah” which Christians were actively arguing was a unique source of authority. Ben Kosba’s followers nicknamed him “bar Kokhba”, the son of a star which was an allusion to a verse in the book of Numbers.[19] His detractors, by the way, nicknamed him “ben Kozba”, the son of a lie.

And yes, there were the beginnings of communities where a teacher was also granted religious status—the Dead Scrolls mention someone they called the “Teacher of Righteousness.” Perhaps it was from such seeds that rabbinic Judaism emerged a century or two after the Temple was brought down. But we must fully grasp that such teachers could only gain authority once it was no longer possible for all those other authorities to perform their Torah obligated duties. Even priests (“cohanim”) could do nothing without the Temple.

Ultimately, the single most important issue for almost any religious group is the issue of authority. Who gets to make the important decisions? What is the most important differentiation between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant religious groups? Of course, it was the rejection of Papal authority that the Protestants were protesting. Mormons consider themselves Christians, and many scholars of religion agree that they are. But how many religious leaders of other Christian groups say that if you believe in a book outside the canon of Christianity and accept a prophet not recognized by other Christians, you can’t be considered Christian. In the third century CE, some Jews decided that they would cast their lot with the rabbis, scholars of tradition who seemed to them to have a valid case for wielding authority. Those who did not became Christians or dropped out of historical observation. Many centuries later, a group of Jews frustrated at rabbinic authority created a splinter group called the Karaites. Their name was emblamatic of their theology: only the written the word, the Miqrah, the Hebrew Bible, could be relied upon for religious authority. The books of the rabbis, the Talmud, were declared to be worthless.  Karaites became one of the largest groups of people who placed their authority in the Hebrew Bible. Of course, it turned out that it is impossible to allow everyone to make their own interpretation of the Bible, so the Karaites created their own Code of Practice, Kitāb al-Anwār wal-Marāqib, administered by their own hierarchy of teachers. It remains a matter of some controversy in the modern state of Israel as to whether Karaites should be considered Jews.

So, at long last, let’s return to the original point. In what way can we describe a person from the days of Hillel and Jesus a “Jew”? If those people were Jews, then how can we describe modern people who worship in completely different ways using the same word? My own personal solution to this dilemma is that I try to describe people like Hillel and Jesus as “Judeans.” People who lived in the era of the hegemony of Judah and worshipped in the ways of other Judeans. After the fall of the Temple, those people who followed Jesus became known as Christians. And those people who gave authority to the author of the Mishnah, Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nasi, I call “rabbinic Jews.”

I am completely cognizant of the impossibility of convincing most modern people that the Judaism that Jesus and Hillel followed cannot possibly be identified with the religion of Maimonides. In the words of the Mishnah itself, quoting one Rabbi Tarfon, הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה. “We may not be able to complete the task, but neither are we free to abstain from it.”[20]

Brief Bibliography

A good bibliography for this topic could easily include hundreds of books and articles. For this brief essay, I will limit my recommendations to a few relatively recent publications which I think are particularly germane and worthwhile.

Adler, Yonatan. The Origins of Judaism: An Archaeological-historical Reappraisal. United Kingdom: Yale University Press, 2022.

Boyarin, Daniel. Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. United States: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

Cohen, Shaye J. D. From the Maccabees to the Mishnah. United Kingdom: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 2006.

Collins, John J. The Invention of Judaism: Torah and Jewish Identity from Deuteronomy to Paul. United States: University of California Press, 2017.

Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior. United Kingdom: HarperCollins, 2016.

Goodman, Micah. Maimonides and the Book that Changed Judaism: Secrets of the Guide for the Perplexed. United States: Jewish Publication Society, 2015.

Halivni, David Weiss. The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud. United States: Oxford University Press, 2013.

The Jewish Annotated New Testament. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Levine, Amy-Jill. The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus. United States: HarperCollins, 2009.

Lieberman, Saul. Greek in Jewish Palestine: Hellenism in Jewish Palestine. Israel: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1994.

Sacrifice, Cult, and Atonement in Early Judaism and Christianity: Constituents and Critique. United States: SBL Press, 2017.

Saldarini, Anthony J. When Judaism and Christianity Began: Essays in Memory of Anthony J. Saldarini. Belgium: Brill, 2004.

Satlow, Michael L. Creating Judaism: History, Tradition, Practice. United Kingdom: Columbia University Press, 2006.

Schiffman, Lawrence H. From text to tradition: a history of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism. United States: Ktav Publishing House, 1991.




[1] Avoidance of pork: Lev 11:7; Deut 14:8. Shellfish: Lev 11:12; milk and meat: Ex 23:19 and Deut 14:21. Both verses prohibit cooking a young goat in the milk of its mother, but neither verse contains any reason to avoid other combinations of milk and meat.

[2] The Amidah, the central prayer of Judaism, is a complex structure which varies depending on time of day, day of the week, and the specific Jewish movement reciting it. While claims are often made that the Amidah in some form was recited by Jews while the Temple was standing, there is no evidence to support the claim. It is clear that it was recited in various forms by the time of the Mishnah, ca 250 CE. For a good general introduction, My People’s Prayer Book Vol 2: The Amidah. United States: LongHill Partners, Incorporated, 1998.

[3] Also spelled, kaddish. For a scholarly appreciation of this prayer, see Elbogen, Ismar. Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History. Israel: Jewish Publication Society, 1993, esp pp. 73-90.

[4] The notion of minyan or quorum has no basis in the Torah nor elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. The earliest reference to the requirement is Mishnah Megillah 4:3. There is some quibbling over the antiquity of Mishnah Megillah, but in the best case, this puts the earliest date of the text at circa 250 CE.

[5] Included in many verses of the Torah, and both recitations of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. But notice that the rabbis of the Talmud significantly altered the understanding and observance of the Sabbath beginning with one of the lengthiest treatises in the Mishnah.

[6] Many Jews are surprised to learn that the Torah contains no specific reference to this holiday, one of the most important in rabbinic Judaism. Leviticus 23:24 calls upon the Israelites to observe day of Sabbath-like rest on the first day of the seventh (not the first) month as a זִכְר֥וֹן תְּרוּעָ֖ה (memorial of trumpet-blasts). Numbers 29 repeats the call for a day of rest on the first day of the seventh month, and calls it similarly  י֥וֹם תְּרוּעָ֖ה  a day of trumpet-blasts. The term “Rosh haShanah” does appear in Ezekiel 40:1, but doesn’t seem to have anything to do with this holiday. The rabbis greatly expanded the importance of the holiday, for example, requiring that it be observed for two days.

[7] Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is well-attested in the Torah: Leviticus 16:29, Lev 23:29 adds the penalty of karet, perhaps the strongest penalty imposed in the Bible, to anyone who violates the rules of the day. It is also mentioned in detail in Numbers 29. There, interestingly, the various sacrifices and offerings are specified and they include things that would normally have been consumed at least in part by the priests. It was the rabbis who defined the idea of “self-affliction” as fasting, that is nowhere specified in Scripture.

[8] Passover is one of three “pilgrimage” festivals specified by the Torah. The primary commandment, as the term “pilgrimage” denotes, is the personal appearance of the worshipper in the one place allowed for it, the Temple of Jerusalem, and in that place alone could the Passover offering be made. The rabbis, centuries after the destruction of that Temple, declared that a person’s home could substitute for that Temple, and the meal consumed at that table substitute for the pascal lamb.

[9] Infra for a discussion of the origin and function of the rabbinate.

[10] 2 Kings 22; cf. 2 Chronicles 34.

[11] Ex 31:15; Ex 35:2, a story of the implementation of the penalty is found in Numbers 15. Jewish Orthodoxy skirts the issue by noting that Jews usually do not have the power to execute anyone, but that is not true in many places, and certainly not in Israel where the State has executed Adolf Eichmann.

[12] For a comprehensive list and sources: Cohn, Haim Hermann, Louis Isaac Rabinowitz, and Menachem Elon. “Capital Punishment.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 445-451. Vol. 4. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007.

[13] Referred to as “Levirate marriage” the rules are defined in Deuteronomy 5:5-10.

[14] The ritual originates in Numbers 5 and there is an entire tractate (treatise) in the Talmud devoted to it.

[15] Phylacteries, or t’fillin, are an excellent example of a tradition kept by some modern Jews which reflect biblical texts and traditions. Many modern Jews include both the biblical sources of the requirement and an actual physical instrument in their daily worship. For example, Deuteronomy 6:8 says, וּקְשַׁרְתָּ֥ם לְא֖וֹת עַל־יָדֶ֑ךָ וְהָי֥וּ לְטֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֥ין עֵינֶֽיךָ׃ “Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be symbols between your eyes.” Notice that neither here nor in other prooftexts (Deut 11:18; Ex 13:9,16) does the Hebrew contain the word t’fillin (תְּפִלִּין). Nor is there any source within the Bible for how anyone should attempt to comply with the requirement. It would have been economically impossible for any Israelite to assemble the texts and materials prior to the Roman era. And indeed it is in the archaeology of such sites that we have found (for example, at Masada) exemplars of phylacteries in use in the era of the Temple. It is therefore fair to claim that phylacteries were an attempt by Judeans living in that era to comply with biblical commandments and that tradition was retained and extended by Rabbinic Jews after the destruction of the Temple.

[16] The term “ancient” here refers to models attested in the Mishnah, ca 250 CE.

[17] Josephus reports that the Judean king, Alexander Janaeus, had 800 Judeans who were among those who had rebelled against him crucified. A.J. 13.14.2

[18] Acts 5:34-42, Φαρισαῖος ὀνόματι Γαμαλιήλ, a Pharisee named Gamliel. Also in Acts, 22:3 Paul is quoted as saying he was educated in the tradition by Gamliel: Ἐγώ εἰμι ἀνὴρ Ἰουδαῖος, γεγεννημένος ἐν Ταρσῷ τῆς Κιλικίας, ἀνατεθραμμένος δὲ ἐν τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ παρὰ τοὺς πόδας Γαμαλιήλ, πεπαιδευμένος κατὰ ἀκρίβειαν τοῦ πατρῴου νόμου, ζηλωτὴς ὑπάρχων τοῦ θεοῦ καθὼς πάντες ὑμεῖς ἐστὲ σήμερον. Also relevent to this discussion is the identification of Paul as a “Jew” which is common to every major translation. But note that the Greek is Ἰουδαῖος which can just as easily be translated as “Judean.” And again, Γαμαλιήλ is not identified with any honorific which would imply “rabbi” or “master.”

[19]   ארְאֶ֙נּוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א עַתָּ֔ה אֲשׁוּרֶ֖נּוּ וְלֹ֣א קָר֑וֹב דָּרַ֙ךְ כּוֹכָ֜ב מִֽיַּעֲקֹ֗ב וְקָ֥ם שֵׁ֙בֶט֙ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וּמָחַץ֙ פַּאֲתֵ֣י מוֹאָ֔ב וְקַרְקַ֖ר כָּל־בְּנֵי־שֵֽׁת׃

What I see for them is not yet, What I behold will not be soon: A star rises from Jacob, A scepter comes forth from Israel; It smashes the brow of Moab, The foundation of all children of Seth. (Num. 24:17 NJPS)

[20] Mishnah, Pirkei Avot, 2:16