Senator Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, is an ordained Christian minister. At a recent speech to a pro-Israel group called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Pastor Cruz said that the very “foundation of America and the American Constitution was the Torah.” Oh really? I bet that made the God-haters mad. But is this true? Let’s do a fact-check.
A few years back I wrote a book entitled, Christians, Jews and Israel Standing Together in Troubled Times. In doing research for this book, I discovered that the Pilgrims and Puritans were Hebraic Christians who had what I call a “Re-enactment Theology.” By this I mean they saw themselves re-enacting the Exodus from Egypt. My following comments are quotations from the book. These are just a few of the many statements in the book.
Since the word Hebrew means to “cross over,” the Pilgrims and Puritans thought of themselves as re-enacting the Exodus story. They were fleeing England which represented Egypt; the King of England was their Pharaoh, they were crossing over the Atlantic which was their Red Sea; America was like the land of Israel, the Native Americans were their Canaanites, and they, like the Hebrews, were entering into a national covenant with God in their New Promised Land (page 14).
The Hebrew Bible with its teaching on the Ten Commandments and the holy laws of God was their guide. The Torah (instructions-teachings) on justice, morality and ethics were the foundation of the judicial and legislative enactments of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. These moral laws of God from the Torah would be enshrined as the legal code of the new nation (page 16).
When the Pilgrims and Puritans read the Hebrew Bible they saw that God and His chosen people entered into a national covenant at Sinai. Their clear intention in the new world was to do likewise. They wanted to establish a new nation that had a covenant with God that would be based on the moral laws of God given at Sinai. The citizens of the new nation would willingly agree to live by the laws which would constrain their natural evil impulses (page 15).
Puritan leader John Davenport said to the first assembly of New Haven in 1639, “Scriptures do hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in all duties which they are to perform to God and men as well as in the government of families and commonwealth as in matters of the church.”11 The assembly unanimously agreed with Davenport that the Word of God would be the only guide consulted in organizing the affairs of their government (page 17).
Following John Davenport’s speech, the Connecticut legislature in 1655 established governing laws based on the teachings in the Torah. They adopted a legal code containing 79 statutes, 38 of which contained biblical references from the Hebrew Bible. The Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Pilgrim Colony at Plymouth had similar laws governing themselves (page 17-18).
Abraham I. Katsh was a revered scholar and pioneer in Jewish studies. In his classic work, The Biblical Heritage of American Democracy, He noted the Jewish undertones of the Pilgrims and Puritans and said that “many classic Hebraic values became woven into the fabric of American civilization.” He further said, “There can be very little doubt that the Puritans were almost solely influenced by the Hebrew Bible.” He added “The Bible became for the Puritans a call to individual and national righteousness (page 18).”
In The Indestructible Jews, Jewish historian Max Dimont wrote that “The Puritans regarded themselves as Hebraists and took the Old Testament as their model of government (page 18).”
Katsh explains, “Since Puritanism was essentially a return to the Hebraic concept of a “compact or covenant” with God, it followed that the laws, regulations, ordinances by which the Puritan society was to be governed should be those contained in the Hebrew Bible (page 18).”
“The Puritans accepted the concept of covenant with God as the bedrock of their society and its legal structure. The most series implication of this concept of covenant was its exaction of righteousness and moral behavior. And since the boundaries of the moral behavior of the individual and the body politic were scarcely perceptible, the ethical laws regulating the activity of the community as a whole were virtually indistinguishable from those pertaining to the individual (page 19).”
“Throughout the period of colonization in New England, the Mosaic rulings and Biblical laws were considered the supreme authority in any question requiring the citation of a precedent. … For therein, the colonists felt, was found to be the model of society as they envisioned it. From these initial efforts, Hebraic laws and principles extended and prevailed throughout the colonies, and still later, in the national system of American constitutional law (page 19).”
Pastor Cruz is absolutely correct. America was founded on the basis of God’s laws in the Torah and those laws were enshrined in our Constitution and governing documents.
Christians, Jews and Israel Standing Together in Troubled Times is a most unique book explaining the Judeo-Christian origins of America. To learn more about the founding of America, please order this book at our webstore. This is really an important book. Please order a handful for your friends.