The Book of Matthew

Chapter 23

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Published 2 March 2018 (in progress)

Chapter  1 | 2 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 24 | 25


Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions.

Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:

DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last two centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online. Click here for DSS abbreviations.

LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C.

Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.

Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Click here for Talmud abbreviations.

Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Book of Matthew" because that is how Matthew introduces his story (Matt 1:1).

Please see the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Matthew and his book.

Kingdom Correction

Date: Nisan 12, A.D. 30 (Tuesday)


Chapter 23 continues the narrative of the last days of Yeshua prior to his crucifixion. See my article The Final Days of Yeshua for a chronology of Yeshua's last week. In this chapter Yeshua offers a serious critique and rebuke of the weaknesses and faults of Judean leaders identified as "scribes and Pharisees." NIBD titles this chapter in its outline of Matthew as "The King Rejects the Nation" (687), a complete misrepresentation of Yeshua's instruction. Yeshua never rejected Israel (cf. Rom 11:1-2). Christianity has nurtured this lie for centuries. However, like the Hebrew prophets of old Yeshua reveals the dark side of Phariseeism so that his disciples will understand the true way of pleasing God.


Yeshua first talks about scribes and Pharisees (verses 1–12), and then he speaks to them (verses 13–36).

Pharisee Deficiencies, 23:1-12

Eight Woes on Hypocrites, 23:13-33

Judgment Announced, 23:34-39

1 Then Yeshua spoke to the crowds and to his disciples,

Then: Grk. tote, adv., temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?

spoke: Grk. laleō, aor., is used in the Besekh primarily to mean making an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. to the crowds: pl. of Grk. ochlos, an aggregate of people or an assembled company of people; crowd, multitude, great number. In many passages the term is equivalent to the Heb. am ha–aretz ("people of the land") as contrasted with the ruling classes and religious elite who despised as ignorant masses accursed for not knowing and keeping Torah (John 7:49) (DNTT 2:800f). Rabbinic snobbery and discriminatory treatment of ordinary people may be seen in these Talmud passages.

"Our Rabbis taught: Who is an Am ha-arez? Whoever does not recite the Shema' morning and evening with its accompanying benedictions; such is the statement of R. Meir. The Sages say: Whoever does not put on the phylacteries. Ben Azzai says: Whoever has not the fringe upon his garment. R. Jonathan b. Joseph says: Whoever has sons and does not rear them to study Torah. Others say: Even if he learnt Scripture and Mishnah but did not attend upon Rabbinical scholars, he is an Am ha-arez. If he learnt Scripture but not Mishnah, he is a boor; if he learnt neither Scripture nor Mishnah, concerning him Scripture declares, I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast." (Sotah 22a)

"Our Rabbis taught: Let a man always sell all he has and marry the daughter of a scholar. … but let him not marry the daughter of an am ha-arez, because they are detestable and their wives are vermin, and of their daughters it is said, Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. … R. Eleazar said: An am ha-arez, it is permitted to stab him [even] on the Day of Atonement which falls on the Sabbath. … R. Hiyya taught: Whoever studies the Torah in front of an am ha-arez, is as though he cohabited with his betrothed in his presence. … Our Rabbis taught: Six things were said of the amme ha-aretz: We do not commit testimony to them; we do not accept testimony from them; we do not reveal a secret to them; we do not appoint them as guardians for orphans; we do not appoint them stewards over charity funds; and we must not join their company on the road. Some say, We do not proclaim their losses too [i.e., return their lost property]." (Pesachim 49b)

and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.

to his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here (Thayer). disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs, (from manthanō, to learn), m. pl., one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527, scholar or pupil), the student of a Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). For more background information see the note on John 1:35.

2 saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have sat down on the seat of Moses,

saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, enjoin, order, say, speak, tell, told, refer to, talk about. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions here as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. The rest of this verse through verse 39 below constitutes the content of what Yeshua said. This was not a conversation.

The scribes: pl. of Grk. grammateus refers to a specialist in legal matters. In the LXX grammateus renders two Hebrew words, shotêr and more frequently sophêr (DNTT 3:477f). The word shotêr (SH-7860, official; officer, BDB 1009) is initially used of men chosen to be part of the seventy elders (Num 11:16), and then later of other officials (Deut 20:5; 1Chr 23:4). The word sophêr (SH-5608, secretary, scribe, BDB 708) was used for the secretary to a ruler, a prophet or a military officer (2Sam 8:17; Jer 36:4, 18, 32; 37:15), as well as one skilled in Torah laws (Ezra 7:6; Neh 8:1). In the Besekh the term always has its Jewish meaning of one learned in Torah. Scribes were clearly influential. They were secretaries, teachers, lawyers, judges, priests and some were members of the Sanhedrin (Matt 16:21).

Josephus mentions Sadducees who were magistrates (Ant. XVIII, 1:4) and scribes were always preferred for appointment as judges due to their knowledge of the law (Jeremias 237). Some scribes belonged to the party of the Pharisees (Matt 22:34-35; Mark 2:16; Acts 5:34; 23:9) and some were "of the people" (Matt 2:4), suggesting no party affiliation. Jeremias says that the Pharisaic party in the Sanhedrin was composed entirely of scribes (cf. Matt 21:45; Luke 20:19) (236), but that would be expected for members of the Sanhedrin. For more information on the background of scribes in Jewish culture see my commentary on Matthew 2:4.

and: Grk. kai, conj. the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios, a rough transliteration of Heb. P'rushim, meaning "separatists." The title was born of the fact that they devoted themselves to study and observance of the Torah. The Pharisees traced their roots to the Hasidim ("pious ones") organized in the time of Ezra, but are known as an organized group from the 2nd c. BC (Jeremias 247). The first mention of the group is in the books of Maccabees where they are described as "a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the law (Torah)" (1Macc 2:42; cf. 1Macc 7:13; 2Macc 14:6). Josephus estimated that there were at least six thousand Pharisees in the Land (Ant. XVII, 2:4). There were several Pharisaic communities in Jerusalem at this time (Jeremias 252).

There were many aspects of Phariseeism with which Yeshua would have agreed. They held the biblical teachings of the Messiah, life after death, resurrection of the dead, immortality, and angels, all of which distinguished them from the Sadducees (Acts 23:8). The Pharisees resisted syncretism and regarded Greek ideas as abominations. The Torah, by Pharisee definition, included both the writings of Moses and the traditions of the Sages, commonly referred to as the Oral Law.

The Pharisees exerted considerable influence in Jewish culture. While the Sadducees controlled the Temple, the synagogue was the center of power for the Pharisees. Mansoor points out that with the Pharisee belief in an omnipresent God worship was not dependent on sacrifices alone and could take place in the synagogue as well as the Temple. They thus fostered the synagogue as a place of worship, study, and prayer, and raised it to a central and important place in the life of the Jewish people, rivaling the Temple. Yet even in the Temple the Pharisees were influential and the Sadducean priests performed the Divine worship, prayers, sacrifices, and various festival customs according to the direction of the Pharisees due to their popularity with the people (Ant. XIII, 10:6; XVIII, 1:3-4).

A casual reader might assume from Yeshua's sharp criticism of Pharisees in this chapter and elsewhere in this book that the Pharisees were all evil. Matthew certainly saw the bad side of Pharisees when he worked as a tax-collector before Yeshua met him. The Pharisees treated tax collectors as sinners (Matt 9:11). For the background of the Pharisaic treatment of tax collectors see my web article The Defamation Against Zacchaeus. Yeshua's social fellowship with tax collectors was one of the reasons that many Pharisees became adversaries. Unfortunately, we know far more about the Pharisee opponents of Yeshua than we do about his supporters among the Pharisees, like Nicodemus (John 3:1-2; 7:50-51), and the unnamed Pharisees who warned Yeshua of a plot by Herod to kill him (Luke 13:31). It was not Yeshua's intention in this discourse to impugn all Pharisees of that time with the same negative judgment.

(For more information on the distinctions between major Jewish parties in the first century see Josephus, Ant., XVIII, 1:1-6; Wars, II, 8:1-14. A lengthy treatment of the Pharisee party, their theology and practices, can be found in Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church; Lederer Books, 1996.)

Noteworthy is that the pairing of scribes and Pharisees occurs 19 times in the apostolic narratives (Matt 5:20; 12:38; 15:1; 23:2, 13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29; Mark 7:1, 5; Luke 5:21, 30; 6:7; 11:53; 15:2; John 8:3). The pairing suggests that the majority of the scribes were Sadducees or belonged to no party. Moreover, except in this verse all occurrences of "scribes and Pharisees" depict them as hostile toward Yeshua or recipients of Yeshua's criticism. A comparable pairing is "chief priests and Pharisees" (Matt 21:45; 27:62; John 7:32, 45; 11:47, 57; 18:3).

sit: Grk. kathizō, aor., 3p-pl., to sit, to take one's seat. Bible versions have a variety of translations ('are seated,' 'sit,' 'have sat down'), but all emphasize that the aorist tense points to the past as well as the present. (The action of the aorist tense can be depicted as <l>, l>¾ or ¾<l ). The NASB translates the verb as "they have seated themselves," which implies an arbitrary assumption of authority. However, in the Jewish culture of the time authority came by virtue of formal ordination. on: Grk. epi, prep. with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; 'at, in, on, upon, over.' the seat: Grk. kathedra, a place for sitting, a chair or seat. The word occurs only three times in the Besekh; the other two mentions refer to the seats of the moneychangers at the Temple whom Yeshua confronted (Matt 21:12; Mark 11:15).

In the LXX kathedra is used for the seat of a king (1Sam 20:25; 1Kgs 10:19), a special chair in the temple (1Kgs 8:13; 2Kgs 16:18), and the seating of ruling elders (Ps 107:32). Stern associates this seat with a special chair set aside at the front of synagogues based on some late midrashic literature. A picture of the supposed "Moses Seat" may be seen here and here. Contrary to scholarly labeling, the synagogue seats discovered by archaeologists are not engraved with a sign saying "seat of Moses." Moreover, in reference to "scribes and Pharisees" Yeshua can not mean a synagogue seat of honor. A chair is designed for one person, not a group. Yeshua will address the matter of "chief seats" in the synagogue in verse 6 below.

of Moses: Grk. Mōusēs, transliterates Heb. Mosheh, the great Hebrew leader, prophet and lawgiver of Israel born about 1525 BC to Amram and Jochebed (Num 26:59). His life can be easily divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt, the second his years in Midian, and the third the wilderness period after the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Moses was the leader of the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness. At Mount Sinai Moses served as God's spokesman to facilitate the beginning of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. Forty years later on the plains of Moab Moses renewed the covenant with Israel and made preparations for their entry into the promised land. Moses was a heroic leader of the people and a devout man of God.

Yet, due to an act of disobedience to God's instructions Moses was not permitted to enter the land of Canaan with the nation (Num 20:8-12). At the end of his life God allowed Moses to view the land from the top of Mt. Pisgah before his death and there he died at the age of 120. God buried him in the land of Moab (Deut 34:1-7). However, Moses' death was not the end of his importance or influence, because Scripture asserts that Moses compiled, wrote and/or edited the five books attributed to his name (Matt 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 16:29; 24:27, 44). Philo (20 BC-50 AD) was the first Jewish scholar to write a definitive biography of Moses (On the Life of Moses I, 4:13). Josephus also wrote much about Moses in his Antiquities of the Jews (Books II, III, and IV). See also my web article Moses and Yeshua.

The description of the scribes and Pharisees being seated in the chair of Moses most likely alludes to the Great Sanhedrin, consisting of seventy-one members derived the Torah narrative of Moses and the seventy elders (Ex 24:1; Num 11:24; Sanhedrin 1:1). The members sat on sat on throne-like chairs in the form of a semi-circle, so that they might see one another (Sanhedrin 4:2). This practice followed the example of Moses who sat to judge the people (Ex 18:13). As a judicial body the Great Sanhedrin originated in the Hasmonean period (c. 200 BC), and the Pharisees came into power during the reign of Queen Salome Alexandra (76 to 67 BC) (Josephus, Wars I, 5:1-2).

The Great Sanhedrin was located in Jerusalem and dealt with religious controversies, such as interpretation of Torah and Temple ritual, oversaw drawing up the calendar and preparation of Torah Scrolls for the king and the Temple. The Great Sanhedrin was the final authority on Jewish law. The Sanhedrin heard appeals from the lower courts and also judged accused lawbreakers. The Court of Seventy-One was the only court that could hear a case involving a tribe, a false prophet and a high priest. For more information on the Sanhedrin see my web article Jewish Jurisprudence.

3 Therefore do and observe all things, however much, they might say to you, but do not according to their works. For they speak, but do not practice.

Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with the statement immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then.' do: Grk. poieō, aor. imp., 2p-pl., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition, to follow some method in expressing by deeds the feelings and thoughts of the mind; do, act, accomplish, carry-out, execute, perform, practice, work. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity.

and: Grk. kai, conj. observe: Grk. tēreō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., may mean (1) to maintain in a secure state with a focus on personal interest or obligation; keep; or (2) to be in compliance in regard to instruction; keep, observe. The second meaning applies here. The verb has a particular usage in reference to obeying commandments found in the Torah and those proclaimed by Yeshua (Matt 19:17; John 14:15, 21, 23-24; 15:10, 20; Acts 15:5, 24; 1Tim 6:14; Jas 2:10; 1Jn 2:3; 3:22; 5:3; Rev 12:17). all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. however much: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun denoting a temporal equation, here signifying maximum inclusion; as many as, how much, how great, how many.

they might say: Grk. legō, aor. subj., 3p-pl. The subjunctive mood, which looks toward what is conceivable or potential, adds a layer of tentativeness to the proposed scenario. Yeshua speaks of a hypothetical situation. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The pronoun refers back to the audience in verse 1, the crowd and the disciples. The authority of Levitical priests and judges specified in the Torah stands behind the instruction of Yeshua:

"According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left." (Deut 17:11 NASB)

Yeshua alludes to ordinary rulings of the Great Sanhedrin on religious matters. Given the long list of offenses which Yeshua goes on to charge against the "hypocrites" then the "doing" and "observing" would be in relation to those pronouncements that don't contradict the actual instruction given by Moses. Yeshua never objected to the routine business of the Great Sanhedrin in representing the Jewish people. Yeshua followed the calendar and the limits of a Sabbath journey established by the Sanhedrin. And, there were times when he directed people to conform their behavior to the expectations of authorities (Matt 8:4; 17:27).

Lightfoot in his comment on this verse makes a good point: "The scribes and Pharisees, the worst of men, have long usurped Moses' seat; nevertheless, we ought to obey them, because by the dispensation of the divine providence, they bear the chief magistracy" (2:290). This is similar to the attitude of David who would not harm King Saul even during his worst days because Saul was the "LORD's anointed" (cf. 1Sam 24:10; 26:11, 23; 2Sam 1:4). Thus, the scribes and Pharisees in their judicial capacity were to be respected. The apostles would never have said to the Judean authorities, "I don't have to follow such and such rule because Yeshua said so." Indeed, the apostles made similar exhortations to respect authority (cf. Rom 13:1; 1Pet 2:13).

but: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The first meaning applies here. do: Grk. poieō, pres. imp., 2p-pl. not: Grk. , adv., negative particle. according to: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but with the noun following being in the accusative case and the preposition denoting agreement or conformity to a standard, the resultant meaning is 'according to' (Thayer).

their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. works: pl. of Grk. ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed, whether of men or God. The plural form occurs often in the Besekh, sometimes of evil deeds (Luke 11:48; 1Jn 3:8; Rev 9:20) and sometimes good deeds (Matt 5:11; John 3:21; Jas 2:14). In reference to the scribes and Pharisees in this context "works" has a pejorative meaning, especially their sins and hypocrisies detailed in the rest of this chapter. Yeshua had rebuked the Judean authorities saying, "Has not Moses given you the Torah, and none of you keeps the Torah?" (John 7:19 mine). Yeshua also accused them of invalidating the word of God for the sake of their traditions (Matt 15:6).

For: Grk. gar, conj. a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. they speak: Grk. legō, pres. but: Grk. kai. do not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. practice: Grk. poieō, pres. In other words, they don't practice what they preach. Yeshua had condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees previously (Matt 5:20; 9:10-13; 12:1-7; 15:1-9; 19:3-9) and had warned his disciples to beware the "leaven of the Pharisees" (Matt 16:6, 12).

The opening clause of this verse might seem to give the scribes and Pharisees full authority in all they teach, including the oral tradition, even if they do not live up to it. Then Yeshua qualifies the general expectation of obedience. His direction "to do" but not "to do" might seem like a contradiction, but it reads like a play on words. The second part of the verse is entirely consistent with previous pronouncements of Yeshua in which he challenged the legalism of the Pharisees. He was not expecting unquestioning obedience to Pharisaic traditions. He even made exceptions to Pharisaic legalism for his disciples in variety of situations (Matt 12:1-12; 15:1-2; 19:1-9). In fact, Paul will later inform Messianic disciples not to let anyone "act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day" (Col 2:16 NASB).

It's important to note that Yeshua did not counsel rebellion against lawful authority, but he expected that the behavior of his disciples would be better than the Pharisees (Matt 5:20). Christian commentators interpret Yeshua's instruction as requiring obedience of the rulings of the scribes and Pharisees in so far as they agree with the written Torah. Such a conclusion implies that hearers have a responsibility to know the Torah in order to be able to evaluate whether the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees conforms to Moses (cf. 1Cor 14:29). Just as the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets (1Cor 14:32), so the spirits of Torah-teachers are subject to Moses, the supreme Torah communicator. The Torah of Moses remains the plumbline by which all definitions of normative behavior are to be measured.

We should also consider that there would be a limited duration for this compliance (cf. John 4:21). Eventually the Romans would end the legal status of the Great Sanhedrin as a judicial body.

4 Moreover, they bind heavy burdens, and hard to bear, and laid on the shoulders of men, but themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

Moreover: Grk. de, conj. they bind: Grk. desmeuō, pres., 3p-pl., to bind together, to fetter. The verb is used of binding in the sense of restraints, and bundles fastened together for transport, ordinarily by donkey. heavy: pl. of Grk. barus, adj., physically heavy in weight; heavy, weighty, burdensome. burdens: pl. of Grk. phortion (from phortos, 'load, cargo'), something carried as a load, lit. of a ship's cargo. The noun is used in a non-literal sense of a burden which must be carried by the individual, i.e. as something personal and hence is not transferable, i.e. it cannot "be shifted" to someone else (HELPS). and: Grk. kai, conj. hard to bear: Grk. dusbastaktos, adj., problematic, difficult, doubly heavy, describing what is difficult or oppressive to carry because of the weight (HELPS).

and: Grk. kai. laid: Grk. epitithēmi, pres., to put, place or lay upon. on: Grk. epi, pres. the shoulders: pl. of ōmos, the anatomical part of the body in humans, at the top of the trunk, extending from each side of the base of the neck to the region where the arm articulates with the trunk; shoulder. of men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). Bible versions are divided between translating the noun as "men" and "people." Pharisaic regulations impacted the entirety of Jewish culture, but.

God had intended Torah commandments to be a blessing, but the Pharisees had turned them into a burden. In contrast Yeshua said "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me … my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt 11:29-30). The yoke of Yeshua is the Torah interpreted as originally intended. but: Grk. de. themselves: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Many versions translate the plural pronoun with the redundant "they themselves." are not: Grk. ou, adv. willing: Grk. thelō, pres., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. to move: Grk. kineō, aor. inf., may mean (1)cause a change in position, move, remove; (2) cause to be in motion, shake; or (3) be in motion, move around. The first meaning applies here. them: pl. of Grk. autos. with their: pl. of Grk. autos. finger: Grk. daktulos, the anatomical extension of the hand.

For example, the Pharisees imposed strict rules for the Sabbath. The fourth commandment enjoined rest on the seventh day (Ex 20:8-11; Deut 5:12-15). In the context of those passages the rest was from work involved in one's livelihood (cf. Num 15:32-36; Neh 13:15-22; Jer 17:21-22). Pharisaic tradition, later represented in the requirements set forth in the Mishnah, prohibited thirty-nine categories of work on the Sabbath.

"The primary labors are forty less one, [viz.:] sowing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, selecting, grinding, sifting, kneading, baking, shearing wool, bleaching, hackling, dyeing, spinning, stretching the threads, the making of two meshes, weaving two threads, dividing two threads, tying [knotting] and untying, sewing two stitches, tearing in order to sew two stitches, capturing a deer, slaughtering, or flaying, or salting it, curing its hide, scraping it [of its hair], cutting it up, writing two letters, erasing in order to write two letters [over the erasure], building, pulling down, extinguishing, kindling, striking with a hammer, [and] carrying out from one domain to another: these are the forty primary labors less one." (Shabbath 7:2)

The Pharisees were more focused on what one shouldn't do on the Sabbath, than what should be done (Matt 12:12). (See my article Remember the Sabbath.) So, when Yeshua healed on the Sabbath, the Pharisees labeled him a sinner (John 9:16). Pharisaic regulation clearly went far beyond what God must have intended. God himself works on the Sabbath to preserve all our lives and even the priests worked on the Sabbath without being condemned (Matt 12:5). Yeshua reminded the Pharisees that God established the Sabbath to benefit man (Mark 2:27). He shocked his adversaries by informing them that the "son of man" is lord of the Sabbath. People generally assume that Yeshua was speaking of himself, but "son of man" was a common idiom for "human being." Thus, Yeshua meant that the individual Jew is given authority by God to determine how to keep the Sabbath (cf. Matt 9:8; Col 2:16).

5 And they do all their works in order to be seen by men. For they widen their phylacteries and they enlarge their tassels.

And: Grk. de, conj. they do: Grk. poieō, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 3 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. works: pl. of Grk. ergon. See verse 3 above. in order: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110), used here to express purpose. to be seen: Grk. theaomai, aor. pass. inf., to look upon with special interest; see, look at, behold, take notice of. The verb emphasizes a special perception or realization. The construction "in order to be seen" also occurs in Matthew 6:1. by men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See the previous verse. The Pharisees weren't concerned about impressing women.

For: Grk. gar, conj. they widen: Grk. platunō (from platus, "wide"), pres., to make large, broaden or widen. their: pl. of Grk. autos. phylacteries: pl. of Grk. phulaktērion (from phulassō, "to keep, preserve"), phylactery. In Greek culture phulaktērion originally meant (1) a guarded post, fort, castle, guardrooms, observatories; (2) safeguard, security, preservative, and a protecting charm or amulet; and (3) a guard or chain (LSJ). The Greek term does not occur in the LXX at all, but is found in Josephus in its regular use of a fortified place (Ant. XV, 7:8). Messianic Jewish versions (CJB, MW, OJB and TLV) translate the Greek word as tefillin, which was originally adapted from an Aramaic word (Jastrow 1687). Ironically the word tefillin is not found anywhere in the Hebrew text of the Tanakh.

Tefillin are small, leather cases containing four compartments, each with a key passage of Scripture (Ex 13:1-10, 11-16; Deut 6:4-9, 13-21) (HELPS). See a picture here. Observant Jewish men past bar-mitzvah age (13) strap one on one arm and the other around the head during the morning weekday synagogue service (Stern). Phulaktērion does not translate tefillin, but it might be an attempt to transliterate Heb. t'philatekah the direct object form of tefillah (SH-8605, prayer, intercession, pleading), which occurs four times in the Tanakh (1Kgs 9:3; 2Kgs 20:5; 2Chr 7:12; and Isa 38:5). Since Matthew was originally written in Hebrew we may assume Yeshua used the word tefillin. Yeshua could also have used totaphoth, "frontlets," since that it is the term used in the Torah passages. The person who translated Matthew into Greek probably thought phulaktērion accurately represented Yeshua's description of the religious item and its purpose.

The earliest mention of tefillin is in Targum Onkelos (1st c. A.D.; Deuteronomy) and then Targum Jonathon (2nd c. A.D.; Exodus and Deuteronomy). Josephus does not use the word tefillin but he seems to allude to the practice by repeating the oral tradition of a supposed speech of Moses in which he enjoins the twice daily saying the Shema, inscribing God's blessings on doorposts and bearing upon their arms and foreheads remembrances of God's word (Ant. IV, 8:13). The tefillin were thought to have power, like amulets, to avert various evils and to drive away demons (Targum on Song of Solomon 8:3, dated 400–800 A.D.); hence, their Greek name (Thayer). Greenstone, a Jewish scholar, acknowledges that in their earliest form tefillin resembled amulets.

Phulaktērion does not occur in any rabbinical writings, as a substitute for tefillin, yet articles on tefillin on Jewish websites do use the word "phylactery" as a synonym. Rabbinic regulations concerning the wear of tefillin are found primarily in the tractate Menachot, but also Berachot. Tefillin capsules had to be quadrangular in shape; making the capsules round would expose the wearer to danger (Men. 35a). The Mishnah acknowledges that the regulations of the scribes are stricter than the Torah (Sanhedrin 10:5). The first use of tefillin as they are currently designed is not known with any certainty. The Bible contains no anecdotes of Israelites wearing tefillin. Greenstone says that use of tefillin developed from the custom of wearing protecting coverings on the head and hands. Saul's way of appearing in battle, with a crown on his head and wearing bracelets (2Sam 2:10), is connected with this idea.

Greenstone believes a figure of speech in the Proverbs of binding or tying the commandments about the neck, fingers and heart (Prov 1:9, 3:3, 6:21; 7:3) imply an actual custom of wearing some object, with or without inscription, around the neck or near the heart. These proverbs thus support taking the Torah injunctions literally. However, as with the Torah instructions the proverbial expressions pertain to being obedient to God's commandments. The use of tefillin among Jews was instituted based on an interpretation of Deuteronomy 6:8, "Bind them as a sign on your hand, they are to be as frontlets between your eyes between your eyes" (TLV). The word "frontlets" is Heb. totaphoth (SH-2903), which BDB defines as "bands," "frontlet-bands," and "between the eyes" (377).

The LXX translates this verse as "And you shall fasten them [God's words] for a sign upon your hand, and it shall be immoveable [Grk. asaleutos, adj., unshaken, immovable] before your eyes" (ABP). In context the expectation was in reference to the commandments a father taught his son. This expectation is expressed in the three other passages associated with tefillin. In Exodus 13:9 it relates to instruction by a father to a son explaining the origin of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In Exodus 13:16 it relates to obeying the regulation for consecrating the firstborn. In Deuteronomy 11:18 it relates to impressing God's words upon the heart. Likewise in those passages the LXX contains no hint of a practice of wearing a religious item resembling tefillin.

Moreover, none of the instructions have anything to do with prayer. In my view the supposed injunctions to wear tefillin in their original Hebrew were clearly metaphorical to remind the Israelites just how thorough the Torah was to impact their lives. Unlike the very explicit commands to write God's commandments on doorposts (Heb. mezuzah; Deut 6:9; 11:20) and affixing tzitziyot to the corners of garments (Num 15:38-39), the four commandments pertaining to the hands and forehead do not say to wrap bands around the arms and wear boxes containing tiny scrolls of Scripture on the forehead. Instead the instructions use comparative prepositions, "as" and "like," essentially meaning that God's word is to be a daily part of one's thinking and doing. In Scripture both righteous deeds and evil deeds are often associated with the hands and the mind (cf. Jas 4:8).

Kasdan suggests that Yeshua prayed with tefillin since he fulfilled all the commandments of the Torah as the sinless Messiah (263). Lightfoot says that it is not unlikely that Yeshua wore tefillin (2:292). Bivin also says Yeshua may have worn phylacteries (51). However, there is no evidence Yeshua used tefillin. The assumption that the sinless Messiah must have used tefillin to maintain his sinless state is faulty reasoning, since the Torah instructions are simply not explicit and the instructions have nothing to do with prayer. The Pharisees already considered Yeshua a sinner, so this "failure" wouldn't make him any more of one. If the wear of tefillin was expected, we would assume that the LXX, translated by Jewish scholars, would have given grammatical support to the idea. However, we should remember that Rabbinic Judaism rejected the LXX as authoritative Scripture.

Yeshua's criticism not only draws attention to the attention-seeking behavior of the Pharisees but their complete failure to fulfill what God actually commanded. Yeshua will go on to enumerate their sins, which no amount of invented religious exercise could atone. Yeshua specifically mentions the wearers of the phylacteries as scribes (=Sadducees) and Pharisees. It is not likely that other Jewish groups used tefillin based on a Talmudic restriction:

"A scroll of the Law, tefillin and mezuzoth written by a min [Yeshua-follower Jew], a Cuthean [Samaritan Jew], a gentile, a slave, a woman, a minor, or an apostate Jew [Hellenistic Jew; Qumran Jew], are invalid" (Menachot 42b).

In the time of Yeshua the wear of tefillin was a practice of the religious elite. Yeshua and his disciples, and certainly the crowds, did not satisfy the membership requirements.

CAVEAT: This analysis is not intended to impugn the Jewish practice of using tefillin, because, after all, it is not prohibited by Scripture. Yeshua only condemned the inordinate pride of the Pharisees, not the practice of tefillin itself. However, intent and motive still matter. If use of tefillin is just a legalistic practice, then it is of no value. Wearing tefillin does not make one righteous. For the observant Jew, including a Messianic Jew, the use of tefillin has value when motivated by a heart of love for God and a commitment to keep the commandments of Torah.

and: Grk. kai, conj. they lengthen: Grk. megalunō, pres., 3p-pl., may mean (1) enlarge, either in size or amount; or (2) cause to gain recognition, aggrandize, celebrate, glorify. The first meaning applies here with a hint of the second. Most versions interpret the increase in size to refer to length, although it might also refer to overall size, since the purpose of the action was to gain attention. their: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. tassels: pl. of Grk. kraspedon may refer either to a ritually designed edge (hem or border) of a garment or to a ritual tassel, which is the meaning here. Messianic Jewish versions translate the noun with tzitziyot (CJB, OJB, TLV), although MW has the singular tzitzit. This addition to a four-cornered garment was (and is) uniquely Jewish.

Christian versions are divided between translating the word as "borders" (KJV, NKJV), "fringes" (ESV, NRSV, RSV, TLB) or "tassels" (AMP, CSB, CEB, CEV, DRA, GW, NASB, NEB, NIV, NJB, NLT, and NOG). Of interest is that the Jewish Publication Society Bible (both 1917 and 1985 update) has "fringes," as does the English translation of Talmud passages. In Greek culture kraspedon could refer to the edge, border, or skirt, of cloth, or fig. of the skirts or edge of a country, a mountain or an army encampment (LSJ). The Jewish translators of the LXX chose kraspedon as the best possible word to translate Heb. tzitzit (SH-6734) in Numbers 15:38-39.

Unlike tefillin, the wear of tzitziyot is expressly commanded in the Torah.

37 And ADONAI spoke to Moses saying, 38 "Speak to the sons of Israel and bid them and they shall make for themselves a tzitzit on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and they shall put on the tzitzit of the corners a blue thread. 39 And it shall be to you a tzitzit, that you may look on it and remember all the commandments of ADONAI and do them and not be seeking after your own hearts and after your own eyes, which you go whoring after them." (Num 15:38-39 mine)

"You shall make gedilim [SH-1434] on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself" (Deut 22:12 mine) [A gedil means "twisted thread."]

The purpose of the tzitziyot was not ceremonial but practical. It would be a public testimony that the wearer lived by the commandments of Torah, and rejected the sinful desires of the flesh. There was no fixed length for the tzitzit in the Torah or rabbinic regulation, making it a very personal decision. To say that the scribes and Pharisees "lengthened" their tzitziyot meant longer than was commonly worn.

The tzitziyot ("fringes") are mentioned in Targum Onkelos (Num 15:38; Deut 22:12). Targum Jonathan also mentions the "fringes" along with more detailed instruction for creation: Numbers; Deuteronomy. As with tefillin rabbinic regulations for the "fringes" are found in tractate Menachot (39b–44a). Today Jewish men wear tzitziyot on a tallit gadol ("large tallit"), which is not an article of clothing but a ritual cloth donned primarily for synagogue worship, or on a tallit katan ("little tallit"), which is an undergarment especially designed with corners for the tzitziyot (Stern). According to the Torah instruction the tzitziyot have a unique appearance. Each tzitzit was to have one thread of blue (Heb. tekelet, SH-8504, "violet").

This blue color was also used in tabernacle curtains (Ex 25:4) and later in temple hangings (2Chr 2:6, 14). The Torah does not identify a source for the blue dye, but Rabbinic authorities identified the source as a particular snail native to Israel (Men. 4:1; 44a). The dye for the blue thread was rare and very expensive. Rabbinic regulation specified that tzitzit be tied by using 8 threads (including the blue thread), five double-knots and four windings between the knots. The five knots immediately signify to the Jewish mind the five books of Moses, the Torah. The four windings represent the four letters in the sacred name of God, YHVH, and His oneness (Pryor 35). See the Jewish Encyclopedia article on Fringes for more information.

Yeshua wore tzitziyot on his outer garment and a woman with a blood disorder was healed by grasping them (Matt 9:20; para. Luke 8:44). Other people were also healed in the same manner (Matt 14:36; para. Mark 6:56). The reason for this manner of healing may be found by comparing two verses of Scripture: Numbers 15:38 and Malachi 4:2. The Hebrew word in Numbers 15:38 for corner kanaph can also mean "wing." Malachi 4:2 uses this word, "But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings [Heb. kanaph]." When anyone touched the tzitziyot of Yeshua's cloak, that person touched the Son of Righteousness. Taking hold of the tzitziyot was symbolic of taking hold of the God of Israel and, claiming the promise of Malachi.

Zechariah contains an important prophecy related to the tzitziyot:

"Thus says the ADONAI-Tzva'ot, 'In those days ten men from all languages of the nations will grasp the garment corner [Heb. kanaph] of him who is a Y'hudi, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that Elohim is with you" (Zech 8:23 mine).

David Baron, a Messianic Jewish scholar, in his commentary on Zechariah notes that "ten," which can symbolize an indefinite number, stands for a "great and complete multitude" (254). The prophecy echoes the promise of Isaiah 66:18 that all nations and tongues will come to Jerusalem and see God's glory. Taking hold of the "corner," which implies the tzitzit, represents an earnest determination of Gentile seekers, like Ruth, to align themselves with Israel's God and people. This prophecy has also been spiritually fulfilled in modern times by Christians worshipping with Messianic Jews and supporting Messianic Judaism, including its evangelistic outreach.

In my view the three practices of tefillin, tzitziyot and mezuzah could be added to the list of signs that designate Jews as a covenantal people. The requirements do not apply to Gentiles, although they are free to use them. Talmudic rules for these practices have gone far beyond the wording of the Torah instruction. The commandments for these practices leave a lot unsaid and therefore freedom in the manner of observance. The point was that obedience of God's commandments could be encouraged by having visual reminders. The Pharisees determined to make these commandments explicit in the most legalistic detail, so that anyone who did not conform to their interpretation would be deemed a sinner. It is no wonder that the Jewish population at large didn't bother with these practices given the elitist attitude of the Pharisees (John 7:49).

6 and they love the chief place at the banquets and the first seats in the synagogues,

and: Grk. de, conj. they love: Grk. phileō, pres., to manifest some act of kindness or affection toward someone, to love or regard with affection, to kiss, to like or be fond of, or to cherish inordinately. The verb conveys an emotional content. In the LXX phileō translates Heb. aheb only about 30 times out of the 209 times the noun occurs, but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than phileō (DNTT 2:547). the first place: Grk. prōtoklisia, a prominent reclining position at a dinner; place of honor. LSJ defines as "first place at table." At a dinner of a Sage and his disciples it was customary for the one next in rank to be on the Sage's left and the third in rank on his right (Berachot 46b). at: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position with the root meaning of "within," and may be rendered "in, on, at, among, or within" as appropriate to the context (DM 105).

the banquets: pl. of Grk. deipnon can mean (1) the daily main meal, generally in the evening (Luke 14:12; 1Cor 11:21; 4Macc 3:9), (2) a royal feast or formal banquet (Matt 23:6; Mark 6:21; 12:39; Luke 14:16-17; 20:46), (3) the Passover commemorative meal (John 13:2, 4; 21:20), (4) the Lord's Supper (1Cor 11:20), or (5) an eschatological meal (Rev 19:9, 17). In Greek literature the time of day varies for the deipnon, but eventually it became associated with the evening. In the LXX deipnon occurs in Daniel for Heb. pathbag (SH-6598), portion of food, delicacies (Dan 1:16) and Aram. lechem (SH-3900), feast, (Dan 5:1) (DNTT 2:521). The term in this context may refer to festival meals or some other special feast.

and: Grk. kai, conj. the first seats: pl. of prōtokathedria, a place of honor at a special event or gathering; best seat. LSJ has "the first seat in a public place." in: Grk. en. the synagogues: pl. of Grk. sunagōgē means a gathering-place or place of assembly and in the rest of the Greek apostolic writings refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning as well as the congregation that met (Acts 6:9; 9:2; Jas 2:2). The origin of sunagōgē dates back to the 5th century BC and in ancient times was used to refer to any collection of things or people. Sunagōgē had a particular usage by Gentile trade guilds to refer to both their business meetings and religious feasts. In the LXX sunagōgē occurs 225 times and is generally used to translate the Heb. words qahal (a summons to an assembly, Ex 16:3) and edah (the assembly or congregation of Israel, Ex 12:3) (DNTT 1:292ff).

The earliest archaeological evidence for the synagogue, found in Egypt, is dated to the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC (OCB 722). The origin of the synagogue is not known for certain, but scholars generally date its beginning during the Babylonian exile. Pious Jews, far from their native land, without the ministry of the Temple, no doubt felt the necessity to gather on the Sabbath in order to listen to the word of God and engage in prayer (cf. Ps 137; Jer 29:7; Ezek 14:1; 20:1; Acts 16:13). Eventually meetings came also to be held on other days, and at the same hours as the morning and evening services in the Temple. According to the Jewish philosopher Philo (20 B.C. - A.D. 50) synagogues were houses of prayer and schools of wisdom (On the Life of Moses II, 39).

By the first century, synagogues, especially in the Diaspora, emerged as the central institution of Jewish life as a place where study, worship, exhortation, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings take place. Ceremonies were conducted in full view of the participants, with the masses of people no longer being relegated to outer courtyards, as was the case in the Jerusalem Temple (OCB 722). In contrast to the Sadducees who exercised supervision over the temple, Pharisees supervised the learning of Torah in the synagogue.

Moseley, citing the Jerusalem Talmud (Meg. 3:1; Ket. 105a; Sot. 7:7, 8; Yom. 7:1) says there were between 394 and 400 synagogues in Jerusalem during the first century (8), although one might infer from the Babylonian Talmud that the number 394 was the sum total of synagogues, houses of study and schools in Jerusalem (Ket. 105a). There were certainly many synagogues, especially in each quarter of foreign Jews residing in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 2:5, 9-11; 6:9) (Jeremias 62).

Works Cited

ABP: The Apostolic Bible Polyglot. ed. Charles Van der Pool. Apostolic Press, 2006. An interlinear of the Septuagint with English translation. Online.

BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.

Bivin: David Bivin, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus: Insights from His Jewish Context. En–Gedi Resource Center, 2007.

Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation into biblical Hebrew.)

DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Colin Brown, ed. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.

Flusser: David Flusser, The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius. 4th ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.

Gale: Aaron M. Gale, Annotations on "Matthew," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Gesenius: Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (1786-1842), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Trans. Samuel P. Tregelles (1846). Baker Book House, 1979. Online.

Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online. [Baptist Bible scholar]

HBD: Holman Bible Dictionary. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.

HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at

Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.

Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.

Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.

Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.

LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and augmented by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.

Mansoor: Menahem Mansoor, "Pharisees," Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2nd ed. Vol. 16. Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. pp. 30-32. Accessed 20 May 2015. Online.

Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.

Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.

Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.

MW-Notes: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Annotations by the author.

NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.

OCB: The Oxford Companion to the Bible. ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan. Oxford University Press, 1993.

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (1040-1105), Commentary on the Tanakh. Online. (French rabbi, rabbinical judge and commentator)

Stern: David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. 5th ed. Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., 1996.

Copyright © 2018 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.