It’s easy to ignore contradictions in the Old Testament because no one pays a lot of attention to that anyway. Isn’t that old covenant, and Christians are new covenant people? Their primary concern is with the New Testament and Jesus.
Jesus left a few riddles of his own. Mathew 16:28 is one of the biggest ones. Jesus explicitly states people living at the time of his life will see the Second Coming of the Messiah.
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
- Mathew 16:28
In case there was any question in what Jesus meant to say he restated the point:
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
- Mathew 24: 30–34
At first, second, and third glance, Jesus is wrong. It’s been well over two thousand years since his death. No one is still alive from the generation who may have witnessed the Crucifixion.
Or is there?
Legend refers to an individual who is fated to walk the earth until the time of the Second Coming. He is the last of that generation. While he still lives, Jesus isn’t wrong. His name is Isaac Feinberg, and he is the Wandering Jew. We spoke with Isaac to see if he could debunk some of the misconceptions swirling around him.
Andrew Hall: Hi, Mr. Feinberg. I’m Andrew Hall, and it’s a pleasure to chat with you today.
Isaac Feinberg: Don’t be so formal, Andrew. You can call me Izzy.
AH: Thank you, Izzy. I just want to start off —
Izzy: Don’t mention it. I’m old. When you get to my age, you stop caring about formalities.
AH: That is understandable. People probably wouldn’t recognize the name, Izzy Feinberg. You’re better known as the Wandering Jew.
Izzy: I know. I know. Ever since the Middle Ages, people look at me and say, ‘There is Izzy Wandering Jew Feinberg.’
AH: That doesn’t sound pleasant.
Izzy: You bet it doesn’t! A lot of people who say they are Christ likers aren’t like Christ at all. Do you think he went around saying, ‘Good morning, Mary The Sex Worker Magdalene?’ Of course not. It’s bad for the self-esteem.
AH: There’s more than a little anti-Semitism with the term Wandering Jew.
Izzy: Christians are a lot like Muslims in a certain way. They were both angry with Jews because we didn’t give up Judaism and join their religion. Christians picked me to be a symbol for evil Jews. Why am I wandering around for centuries? It’s that Jew’s fault, that’s why!
AH: Right, there are rumors you were making fun of Jesus during the Crucifixion.
Izzy: I wasn’t anywhere near all that mess. Some myths say I was a cobbler. Not true. On the day of the death of Jesus, I was scooping up horse and donkey poo off the streets. That was my job. Every day except for Saturday I’d go out with my pooper scooper and can. I was responsible for cleaning Julius Caesar Boulevard.
AH: That sounds like a lot of street and a lot of poo.
Izzy: You’re correct on both counts. Did I get paid extra for the heavy workload? NO. But I’m not a complainer. I went out there and made that boulevard spiffy. Romans don’t want dirty streets when they’re whipping someone in public for breaking Roman law, you understand. I’ve heard more than on centurion mention a dirty street distracts them from the whipping.
AH: Have you tried telling the Church about you not taunting Jesus while he was on the cross?
Izzy: Look, you seem like a nice kid.
AH: I’m 51-years-old.
Izzy: And I’m over two thousand. Anyone under a thousand is a kid to me. Here are two solid pieces of advice. One, don’t leave your kids alone with a priest. Two, don’t believe any slander they say about me or any other Jew.
AH: Sounds like solid advice.
Izzy: Do you know about Jew horns?
AH: Um… Jew horns?
Izzy: Yes, Jew horns. When the Greeks translated what Christians call the Old Testament into Greek, they didn’t get all the words right. Young woman got mistranslated into virgin. And that little bit of unintentional wordplay helped create the tale of the virgin birth. The Greeks also messed up Moses! The original text had Moses coming down from Mount Sinai after meeting God with his face shining — he was a light bulb. The translation changed glow into horns. The myth of Jews having horns was born.
Izzy: Exodus 34:29.
Izzy: I’ll tell you something else. That Michelangelo fellow who made a sculpture of Moses? He put horns on the guy. It’s ridiculous.
AH: I’ve seen pictures of it. I never knew why Moses had those horns.
Izzy: Now you know.
AH: If you weren’t given this, well, long lifespan as a curse for something you did, then what’s the reason?
Izzy: God painted himself into a corner. He does that every so often. One minute he makes humanity, and then situations get out of his omnipotent hands. What does he do? He has to flood the place.
Jesus put God into a tight spot. He said there’d be someone alive when he returned to earth after his death. Someone had to hang around until the Second Coming. That someone is me.
AH: How did you find out about your condition?
Izzy: You get the idea the entire thing wasn’t planned out well. At least God sent the angel Gabriel to tell Mary about the pregnancy. Me? It wasn’t until my 321st birthday came around when an angel told me. Man, was I pissed.
AH: Because of wandering the earth so long?
Izzy: No. The angel interrupted my wife and me getting biblical.
Izzy: Oh, it was awkward. We had to stop because there was an angel in the room just hanging around watching us go at it. And when he told me, she wasn’t in the mood anymore.
AH: That is awkward. The idea of living until the Second Coming didn’t bother you at the time?
Izzy: Noooooo, because how long could that Jesus kid wait? It had already been a few centuries. I thought he was going to come like a thief in the night in a couple of days. You know, I thought the angel stopping by was just a courtesy call. Boy, was I wrong.
AH: You seem to be doing well under the circumstances.
Izzy: I keep myself active. As you get older, you have to keep the mind and body active. I’m at the YMCA Monday, Wednesday, and Friday doing water aerobics. On Thursday nights, I play cribbage with a few folks down the street after Marty closes his deli for the night.
AH: Do you have any advice for those of us who probably won’t live to be over 2,000?
Izzy: It’s like what one of those Greek philosophers said. A long life doesn’t necessarily mean a good one. I happen to have both. I’m what they call a statistical outlier. But it doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 2,025 get out there and make your life mean something.
AH: Thank you for your time today. This was great.
Izzy: Yeah, talking to you wasn’t half bad. Be good.