As for those who maintain, "Behold, God has bidden us not to believe in any apostle unless he comes unto us with burnt offerings"141
, - say [unto them, O Prophet]: "Even before me there came unto you apostles with all evidence of the truth, and with that whereof you speak: why, then, did you slay them, if what you say is true?"142
Lit., "with an offering which the fire consumes" -in other words, unless he conforms to Mosaic Law, which prescribes burnt offerings as an essential part of divine services. Although this aspect of the Law had been left in abeyance ever since the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, the Jews of post-Talmudic times were convinced that the Messiah promised to them would restore the Mosaic rites in their entirety; and so they refused to accept as a prophet anyone who did not conform to the Law of the Torah in every detail.
At the time of the martyrdom of John the Baptist and of Zachariah, of Jesus' exclamation, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets" (Matthew xxiii, 37), and of the reference of Paul of Tarsus to the Jews "who killed their own prophets" (I Thessalonians ii, 15), the Second Temple was still in existence, and burnt offerings were a daily practice: thus, the refusal of the Jews to accept the prophets alluded to, culminating in their killing, could not be attributed to those prophets' lack of conformity with Mosaic Law.