The Book of Matthew

Chapter 5

Blaine Robison, M.A.

First Published 12 October 2010; Revised 8 February 2024

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Scripture Text: The Scripture text of Matthew 5 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. Unless otherwise indicated other Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Scripture quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.

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 three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.

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. Online.

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.

MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.

Philo: Citations of Philo of Alexandria, the first century Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50) are from The Works of Philo Judaeus, compiled by Peter Kirby, found online at Early Jewish Writings.

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

Targums: The Targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.

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 and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. 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 ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).

Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.

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

Sermon on the Mount

Yeshua's first lengthy discourse after a successful ministry in Galilee is recorded in Chapters Five through Seven of Matthew. Four major discourses will follow (Chapters 10, 13, 18, and 24), and separated by the formula "when Yeshua had finished" (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). This first discourse is generally known as the "Sermon on the Mount." The overall theme in this sermon is the kingdom of heaven or more precisely the kingdom ruled by the Messiah (4:17; 5:3, 10, 19-20; 6:10, 33; 7:21). Parallel sayings may be found in Luke's shorter version, what is called the "Sermon on the Plain," set forth in Luke 6:17–49.

Luke's version of the sermon occurs according to the same timeline as Matthew, and also mentions Yeshua ascending a hill (or mountain) to pray (Luke 6:12), and then after choosing his apostles descending to a level place to address his disciples and a crowd (6:17). There are some dissimilarities between Matthew's version and Luke's version of the sermon in sequence, syntax and terminology, but the theme and tone of the sermons are the same. Yeshua no doubt taught on similar subjects in various places.

The instruction clearly reflects contemporary Jewish culture and expresses Jewish interests. There have been many interpretations of the sermon, more than thirty-six according to Keener (160). Often the Christian point of view ignores the Jewish setting to create an alien philosophy (such as the Christian Social Gospel or Christian Pacifism) or diminishes the authority of the Torah to justify a sinning religion or postpones the ethical demands of Yeshua to a future millennial kingdom. The sermon contains many hard sayings, but Yeshua's expectations of his disciples are in line with the promised empowerment of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-33; Ezek 11:19-20; 36:27).

Chapter Overview

Yeshua begins his instruction by declaring nine beatitudes that describe the blessedness of citizens of the kingdom, and illustrating their relationship to the world of being salt and light. Next he affirms the enduring authority of the commandments God gave to Israel (Torah). Then he provides an analysis of various Torah commandments to draw inferences of deeper meaning and broader application than commonly thought in order to reveal the righteousness God expects of His people.

A distinctive feature of the chapter is that Yeshua asserts his authority by giving twenty-one commands to his disciples. These commands are denoted by verbs in the imperative mood. While Yeshua makes no mention of significant Bible personalities in this chapter he does make reference to different groups: "scribes and Pharisees" (verse 20), "the ancients" (verses 21 and 33), "tax collectors" (verse 46), "brothers" (verse 47), and "Gentiles" (verse 47).

Chapter Outline

Kingdom Blessings, 5:1-12

Mission in the World, 5:13-16

Authority of Torah, 5:17-20

Anger and Reconciliation, 5:21-26

Adultery, Divorce and Remarriage, 5:27-32

Oaths and Truthfulness, 5:33-37

Personal Injury and Personal Sacrifice, 5:38-42

Perfection of Love, 5:43-48

Summer, A.D. 28

Kingdom Blessings, 5:1-12

1― Now having seen the crowds, He went up upon the mountain; and him having sat, his disciples came to him.

Parallel Passage: Luke 6:12, 17.

Now: 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 second meaning applies here. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. pass. part., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception.

the crowds: pl. of Grk. ho ochlos, an aggregate of people or an assembled company of people; crowd, multitude, great number. In the LXX ochlos (first in Num 20:20) is used to translate several different Hebrew words that may refer to the size of an army, people in the congregation of Israel (Lev 24:16), or an assembled company of people (Jer 31:8) (DNTT 2:800). In many passages of the Besekh the term denotes common people in contrast to the ruling classes and religious elite. Bivin defines ochlos as "the people of a locality or an area" (Forward).

In this case the term is not just defining the size of the crowd as identifying the people as those in the area as Yeshua passed through. At the end of the previous chapter Matthew says that large crowds followed Yeshua "from the Galil [Galilee] and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and the other side of the Jordan" (4:25 BR). Indeed the apostles recorded that crowds seeking Yeshua numbered in the thousands (Matt 14:21; 16:10; Luke 12:1). The mention of Yeshua "seeing the crowds" suggests he wanted to avoid them, but without success.

he went up: Grk. anabainō, aor., to proceed in a direction that is up, go up. The verb graphically illustrates a change in elevation. In the LXX anabainō translates Heb. alah (SH-5927), to go up, ascend, or climb; which is spoken of persons, animals and inanimate things (BDB 748), first in Genesis 2:6, but used first of a person in Genesis 13:1. The subject of the verb is Yeshua and many versions insert his name here even though his name does not appear in the chapter. upon: Grk. eis, prep., with the root meaning of "within, in," generally focuses on entrance, often in relation to direction and limit, "into, to, towards," but here to mark position "upon" (DM 103).

the mountain: Grk. ho oros, mountain, hill, or hill-country. In Greek literature oros identified places that varied widely in topographical features and elevation. In the LXX oros translates Heb. har (SH-2022), with the same meaning, first in Genesis 7:19. The term is given in Scripture to a comparatively large ridge, a collection of small hills and to many hogbacks as Mount Olivet.

The U.S. Geological Survey distinguishes hills from mountains by classifying a hill as being less than 1,000 feet above its surroundings, but the distinction may depend upon local interpretation. Modern English translations of the Bible no doubt reflect the arbitrary standard of modern science, rather than recognizing that the Hebrew and Greek words were used to refer to any natural topographical feature that rose above a valley, plain or other surroundings regardless of height.

The same Greek word is translated "Mount" in the Mount of Olives (Matt 21:1), which is 2,676 feet above sea level (NIBD 554, 731), and Mount Sinai (Acts 7:30), which is well over 6,700 feet above sea level (NIBD 995). Mount Tabor (traditionally the mountain of the transfiguration, Matt 17:1) is only 1800 feet above sea level. The actual site of the Sermon on the Mountain cannot be determined, but probably in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee (Brown). The narrative of Chapter Four ends with Yeshua teaching throughout Galilee.

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. In the LXX kai is used to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. him: 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.

having sat: Grk. kathizō, aor. part., to sit, to take one's seat. It was customary for a Jewish teacher to instruct while sitting. Adding "down" to the verb is unnecessary, since sitting is opposite of standing. his: Grk. autos. disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher; adherent, learner, pupil, disciple. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527), a student of a Jewish Sage or Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). The term is used especially of followers of Yeshua, those who not only believed in Yeshua but sought to obey his instructions (Matt 28:20). See my article Disciples of Yeshua.

came: Grk. proserchomai, aor., to approach from a point to a person or place. to him: Grk. autos. The verbal phrase may indicate that the disciples had been lagging behind in their walk and after Yeshua sat on the ground, the disciples gathered in front of him. There is no immediate indication that the crowds came to him on the mountain, although the end of sermon does mention their presence (7:28). The mention of the disciples affirms that the instruction was for them and not the crowd that was essentially eavesdropping.

2― And having opened his mouth he began to teach them, saying,

Parallel Passage: Luke 6:20.

And: Grk. kai, conj. opening: Grk. anoigō, aor. part., to open, generally used of doors and objects or fig. of furnishing an opportunity, but here of the anatomical function necessary for speaking. In the LXX anoigō translates Heb. pathach (SH-6605), to open, with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 8:6, and first in relation to a human speaking in Job 3:1. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. mouth: Grk. stoma, the anatomical organ of the mouth. In the LXX stoma translates Heb. peh (SH-6310), mouth, used of humans, animals and inanimate things (BDB 804).

The phrase "opened his mouth" is a typical Hebrew idiom that emphasizes the oral nature of instruction (e.g., Mal 2:6-7; Luke 1:64; Acts 8:35; 10:34). The idiom depicts Yeshua opening his heart and fully sharing his mind, and in the case of a rabbi to speak with authority. In the case of Yeshua it no doubt hearkens back to what Yeshua told Satan in the desert, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God'" (Matt 4:4).

he began to teach: Grk. didaskō, impf., to teach or instruct. The verb is an inceptive imperfect, thus emphasizing the point at which the action began. In the LXX didaskō translates nine different Hebrew verbs (first in Deut 4:1), which mean variously to learn, teach, cause to know, point out, direct, or instruct (DNTT 3:760). In contrast with Greek education Jewish teaching since the time of Moses has been more concerned with communicating God's ethical demands than imparting information (DNTT 3:766). In this context Yeshua would have been teaching in Hebrew.

them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The plural pronoun refers to Yeshua's disciples. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material as here. The focus of the verb may be declarative, informative, interrogative or imperative; ask, assert, command, declare, say, speak, tell. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think (first in Gen 1:3). Imitating the LXX the participle of legō here is Hebraistic, that is, the participle introduces direct discourse as the Hebrew construct l'amar (BAG 470).

Stern suggests that the Sermon on the Mount mirrors the giving of the covenant at Mount Sinai. There, God gave ten words to His people as the foundation for Torah (Ex 20:1; Deut 4:13). Here, Yeshua gives ten words to lay the foundation for the New Covenant Torah. The beatitudes contain precious promises, but it's very likely they contain eschatological overtones and their complete fulfillment awaits the age to come, the Messianic age in which Yeshua reigns on the earth.

The Qumran document "The Blessing of the Wise" (4Q525) contains striking similarities between the beatitude form of Sirach 14:2—15:1 and the beatitudes of Yeshua in verses 3-10 below. In this document the author follows the form of and contrasts the nature and behavior of the righteous with those of the wicked; the recommended course of behavior becomes obvious (TDSS 533).

3― Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Parallel Passage: Luke 6:20.

Blessed: pl. of Grk. makarios, adj., enjoying special advantage, blessed, privileged, fortunate or happy; lit. "blessed ones." In the LXX makarios translates Heb. esher (SH-835), happiness, joyfulness, blessedness and fortunate all at the same time (Deut 33:29) (DNTT 1:215). Esher comes from the root word ashar (Gen 30:13), which means to go (straight), or to walk (BDB 81). Some translations use the word "happy" but this is inadequate because the root of the English word "happy" is "hap" which means chance.

For most people without God happiness comes as a result of good luck. However, the Hebrew viewpoint is that a "blessing" is a purposeful endowment (cf. Gen 1:28), ordinarily transmitted from the greater to the lesser. Blessedness can never be self-imposed nor come by accident. The only source of blessing is from God. Just as David begins the Psalter with a blessing for the man who delights in Torah, so Yeshua begins his teaching on Torah with blessings.

Lightfoot sees a parallel between Yeshua pronouncing the beatitudes on a mountain and the Israelites pronouncing blessings and curses on the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal (Deut 11:29; 27:12-13; Josh 8:33). The parallel is more pronounced in Luke's version of the sermon, which includes both blessings and woes (Luke 6:20-26). In this chapter Yeshua pronounces nine blessings on his disciples. Lightfoot notes that in Jewish writings Abraham was blessed with seven blessings and David and Daniel received six blessings.

Kasdan says that the translation of "How blessed" (CJB) would sound familiar to any educated Jew. He comments that "Some of the specific beatitudes do not seem good in themselves; yet if a person fulfills God's will in these ways, there is a blessing and even a sense of happiness that the world cannot offer" (45).

are: There is no verb in the Greek text at the beginning of the first eight blessings, but in Hebrew it is assumed. The expressed "blessed are" appears sixty-eight times in the LXX, usually for the Hebrew people (Gale 10). Similar blessings appear in other Jewish literature (Sirach 14:1-2; 4Q525 2.2.1-6). "Blessed are" might give the impression that Yeshua is describing an end state, the benefit often occurring after death. However, it is just as likely that Yeshua is conveying a blessing in the customary Hebrew fashion that is enjoyed in the present though not yet fully realized.

the poor: pl. of Grk. ho ptōchos, in a needy condition opposite of having much, without any resources; beggarly, poor, destitute, lit. "the poor ones." In the LXX ptōchos occurs some 100 times and translates five different Hebrew words that describe being in want or afflicted by an oppressor (DNTT 2:821). The Greek term appears first in Exodus 23:6 for Heb. ebyon (SH-34), in want, poor, but primarily translates Heb. ani (SH-6041), poor, afflicted or humble, first in Leviticus 19:10, and used to describe the Messianic king (Zech 9:9).

in spirit: Grk. ho pneuma, wind, breath or spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), here the former. In the LXX pneuma translates Heb. ruach (SH-7307), which is first used for the Spirit of God (Gen 1:2), then breath (Gen 6:17), and wind (Gen 8:1) (DNTT 3:690). Combined with "poor" the noun "spirit" becomes an idiomatic expression describing a person's character. The idiom might suggest one who has no righteousness to claim or is spiritually bankrupt, or the idiom might mean one who is humble (cf. Mic 6:8). The poor in spirit does not try to impress God with claims of goodness or good deeds.

This person has a sense of unworthiness as Yochanan the Immerser, "not worthy to untie his sandals" (Matt 3:11). Relevant to this context is that the Essenes made renunciation of private property a rule of the order (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 1:5; Wars II, 8:3). They chose the term "poor" for themselves in expectation of eschatological salvation (1QpHab. 12:3, 6, 10; 4Q171 2:10) (TDSS 88, 249). The Commentaries on Psalms (4Q171, 4Q173, 1Q16) frequently use the phrase "poor and needy" (DNTT 2:824). However, Yeshua rejects the asceticism of the Essenes to emphasize a spiritual virtue.

for: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The fourth usage applies here.

theirs: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The plural pronoun refers to "the poor in spirit," a presumptive characteristic of Yeshua's disciples. is: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). The singular form of the verb emphasizes the shared experience of the poor in spirit. Unlike the future tense verbs that dominate the next four beatitudes, this promise points to a present reality. However, in Greek the present tense can indicate an anticipated future event or an action purposed. Thus, the present tense reflects not only the reality of the present age, but the promise of the age to come.

kingdom: Grk. basileia, kingship, royal power, or territory ruled over by a king. The doctrine of the kingdom in the teaching of Yeshua and the apostles relates to the expectation and fulfillment of promises made to Israel. In the LXX basileia translates Heb. mamlakh (SH-4467; BDB 575), kingdom, sovereignty, dominion, reign, first in Genesis 10:10; and Heb. malkuth (SH-4438; BDB 574), royalty, royal power, reign, kingdom, first in Numbers 24:7. In the Tanakh the Hebrew words are used primarily for the reign of earthly rulers and secondarily of God's kingship.

of heaven: pl. of Grk. ho ouranos refers to (1) the area above the earth that encompasses the atmosphere and interstellar space; (2) the transcendent dwelling-place of God; and (3) a Semitic circumlocution for the sacred name of God (e.g., Matt 3:2; 21:25; Luke 15:18). In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. plural noun shamayim (SH-8064, lit. "heavens") with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:191). Only in post-Tanakh writings does ouranos-shamayim occur in lieu of the word "God" (e.g., 1Macc 3:18-19; 4:10-11; 12:15; Avot 1:3, 11).

The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are generally used in Scripture to refer to three different cosmological locations (Ps 148:1-4). The first heaven is the atmosphere (Gen 1:20; Rev 19:17). The second heaven is interstellar space (Gen 1:1, 8; Matt 24:29) and the third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2). In Jewish tradition there were seven heavens (Hagigah 12b).

Yeshua, speaking in Hebrew, probably said Malkut Shamayim, in which "heaven" serves as a euphemism for the sacred name. Yeshua taught that the Kingdom of Heaven (or Kingdom of God) had arrived in his person (Luke 10:8-9; 17:21), fulfilling the Father's promise to the ancients. Thus, by being "in him" the disciples become or are made into his kingdom. The kingdom can be present, even though the King's primary residence is currently in heaven, because the indwelling Holy Spirit enables the Lord Yeshua to reign from within his disciples, both individually and corporately (Matt 12:28; Luke 17:21).

Israel first sang the praise of God's reign after crossing the Red Sea (Ex 15:18) and then at Mount Sinai they accepted the yoke of God's Kingdom (Ex 19:6, 8). According to the Book of Jubilees (12:19), Abraham set the example for his descendants by declaring God to be his king. The hope that God would be King over all the earth, with all idolatry banished, is expressed frequently in Scripture (e.g., Ex 15:18; Ps 22:28; 29:10; 93:1; 99:2; 103:19; 145:11-13; Isa 52:7; Dan 4:3; Micah 4:7; Obad 21; and Zech 14:9).

The theme of God's reign as king is also found in intertestamental Jewish literature: Tobit 13:1; Sibylline Oracles 3:47-48, 767; Psalms of Solomon 17:3; Wisdom of Solomon 10:10; Assumption of Moses 10:1; Prayer of Azariah and the Three Men 33; and Enoch 84:2. Ancient Jewish prayer liturgy, such as Aleinu and Kaddish, include the phrase that "God may establish His Kingdom speedily" It was even laid down by the Sages that no benediction would be effective without reference to the Kingdom (Ber. 12a).

In the covenant with Israel God expressed His will for a kingdom, "you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:6). Then, God promised David,

"When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever." (2Sam 7:12-13)

So, here are two kinds of kingdom: a priestly kingdom and a Davidic kingdom, both of which were incorporated in Yeshua's terminology.

4― Blessed are those mourning, for they will be comforted.

Parallel Passage: Luke 6:21.

Blessed are: pl. of Grk. makarios, adj. See the previous verse. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. mourning: Grk. pentheō, pl. pres. part., to engage in grieving, especially for someone who has died; mourn, lament, feel guilt. In the LXX pentheō first in Genesis 23:2 to translate Heb. saphad (SH-5594), to wail or lament in the context of Abraham mourning for Sarah, but then chiefly to translate Heb. abal (SH-56), to mourn, first in Genesis 37:34 of Jacob mourning for Joseph (DNTT 2:422).

In the history of Israel mourning was particularly pronounced at natural calamities, the destruction of Jerusalem, the loss of the land to foreign invaders, and being exiled to Babylon (Isa 33:9; 61:2-3; 66:10; Jer 14:1-2; Ezek 7:26-27). Remembrance of these events occurred on designated days of national fasting (Zech 7:5). The verb could be taken metaphorically to refer to repentance and represent the outward demonstration of remorse (cf. Joel 1:13; Zech 12:10). In the Hebrew mind repentance was not just an intellectual admission of wrongdoing, but remorse over having disappointed God. In Jewish culture such penitence might be accompanied with fasting to demonstrate earnestness.

for: Grk. hoti, conj. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. will be comforted: Grk. parakaleō, fut. pass., 3p-pl., to hearten in time of trouble, to comfort or to console. In the LXX parakaleō is chiefly used for Heb. nacham (SH-5152), be moved to pity, console, comfort, have compassion, first in Genesis 24:67. God provides compassion to His people (Deut 32:36; Ps 135:14; Isa 40:1; 49:13; 52:9; 61:2). Yeshua's promise of comfort may allude to the promise given through Isaiah that the Messiah would provide comfort to Israel (Isa 61:2-3). Thus, Yeshua offers assurance of that comfort would be provided. The verb can be taken literally, similar to the promise that God will wipe away our tears (Rev 7:17; 21:4).

In first century Judaism the "consolation of Israel" (cf. Luke 2:25, 38; 23:51; Mark 15:43) is spoken of and means the "fulfillment of the Messianic hope" (DNTT 1:569-570). The thought is expressed in 2Baruch 44:7, "For if you endure and persevere in His fear, and do not forget His law, the times shall change over you for good and you shall see the consolation of Zion." Implied in use of the verb is assurance that God would indeed have mercy in response to genuine repentance and their Messianic hope would be fulfilled.

5― Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Land.

Blessed are: pl. of Grk. makarios, adj. See verse 3 above. Yeshua then alludes to the promise of Psalm 37:11. the meek: pl. of Grk. praus, characterized by a temperate attitude, gentle, meekness or patient, lit. "the meek ones." In the LXX praus translates Heb. anav (SH-6035), poor, afflicted, humble, meek; first in Numbers 12:3 as a characteristic of Moses. HELPS clarifies the meaning with "This difficult-to-translate root (pra-) means more than 'meek.' Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God's strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness." This virtue represents a submissive spirit based on confidence in God's sovereign care.

for: Grk. hoti, conj. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; "the meek ones." will inherit: Grk. klēronomeō, fut., 3p-pl., to be an heir in a legal sense, but more so to be a recipient of a share in, with focus on the experience of divine conferral of promised benefits. In the LXX klēronomeō translates Heb. yarash (SH-3423), to take possession of, to inherit, dispossess, first in Genesis 15:3. The concept of inheritance occurs frequently in the Tanakh as a promised benefit to Israel, particularly the distribution of the land of Canaan to the twelve tribes.

the Land: Grk. ho can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The LXX occurs more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. noun erets (SH-776), earth, land, first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates either (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel (TWOT §167). Here the noun should be translated "Land" as in the CJB, MJLT, MW, OJB and TLV, since this is a promise taken from Psalm 37:11,

"But the humble [Heb. anav; Grk. praus] will inherit the land and delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (BR)

The promise of the Land was first given to Abraham (Gen 12:2-3). All the land that Abraham could see in all four directions and that he could walk through would belong to him and his seed forever, i.e., the land of Canaan. God reiterated this covenant with Abraham's son Isaac (Gen 26:3), his grandson Jacob (Gen 28:13; 35:12), and then the nation of Israel (Ex 3:8; 23:31). This promise was not annulled by virtue of the exile, but reiterated to Jeremiah (Jer 32:37; 33:6-7, 25-26) and Ezekiel (Ezek 47:13-23). Even non-Israelites will have a share in the Land (Ezek 47:22).

Indeed, the New Covenant guarantees fulfillment of this promise (2Cor 1:20; Heb 12:24). Of interest is that the Essenes claimed the promise for themselves (4Q171, Ps 37:11) (TDSS 249). Ever since the church fathers there has been a widespread belief in Christianity that God reneged on His promise that the holy land belonged to Israel. The word "inherit" refers to the Jewish people's inheritance from God, promised since Abraham (e.g., Ex 32:13). The apostles clearly understood this to be Yeshua's meaning when they asked when Israel's sovereignty would be restored (Acts 1:6).

The emphasis on the Land locates the Kingdom on the earth, not in Heaven. The New Covenant did not cancel God's promise to give the Jewish people the Land of Israel (Rom 9:4-5; 2Cor 1:20). Relevant to Yeshua's message is that in the future age non-Jews are to receive a share in the inheritance of Israel, as prophesied by Ezekiel:

21 "'And you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. 22 And you shall divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners who dwell among and who bear sons among you; and they shall be to you as native-born among the sons of Israel; with you they shall have an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 23 And it shall be that in whatever tribe the foreigner dwells there, there you shall give him his inheritance,' says Adonai YHVH." (Ezek 47:21-23 BR)

6― Blessed are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Parallel Passage: Luke 6:21.

Blessed are: pl. of Grk. makarios, adj. See verse 3 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. hungering: Grk. peinaō, pl. pres. part., to be hungry or to hunger for food, or to suffer want in the sense of being needy, but used here figuratively of a strong desire for something. In the LXX peinaō translates Heb. raeb (SH-7456), to be hungry, first in Genesis 41:55 of the hunger resulting from famine. and: Grk. kai, conj. thirsting for: Grk. dipsaō, pl. pres. part., to be thirsty in a physical sense, but used here figuratively for a deep spiritual longing. In the LXX dipsaō translates Heb. tsame (SH-6770), to thirst, first in Exodus 17:3 of the plight of the Israelites suffering the lack of water at Rephidim.

The reality of significant hungering and thirsting and God's provision is summarized in the historical reminder of Nehemiah that ADONAI provided Israel bread from heaven for their hunger, and water from a rock for their thirst (Neh 9:15). Brown comments that in figurative terms hungering and thirsting are pictures of the keenest of our appetites, and thus by employing this figure here, plainly means "those whose deepest cravings are after spiritual blessings," as in Isaiah 55:1-2,

"Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy?"

righteousness: Grk. ho dikaiosunē, a state that is in accord with divinely defined standards for acceptable or anticipated behavior; uprightness, righteousness, justice. In the LXX dikaiosunē is used for a dozen different terms, normally Heb. tzedaqah (SH-6666), with the same meaning (DNTT 3:354). The term is first used of Abraham's faithfulness being considered as righteousness (Gen 15:6). The noun is often used to describe the character of God (Ps 5:8; 35:24; Isa 5:16; 42:21; Jer 9:24) (DNTT 3:354). In the Tanakh the concept of righteousness refers to right or ethical character and behavior that is in keeping with the covenantal expectations of God.

Righteousness is more relational than legal. The term also carries the sense of salvation (deliverance) and judgment (justice) (cf. Isa 51:5). Righteousness primarily has human relationships as its focus and therefore righteousness strengthens the community. So righteousness is not just abstaining from harmful behavior, but doing good for others. To crave righteousness reflects a personal ethical attribute that is then directed toward others. To crave righteousness is to desire that the lost would be saved. To crave righteousness is to pray for God's justice to be done on the earth and promote justice wherever possible.

for: Grk. hoti, conj. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. will be satisfied: Grk. chortazō, fut. pass., 3p-pl., originally had to do with feeding plant growth to animals to the point of satisfaction. Thus, in the human context the verb came to mean to have one's fill. In the LXX chortazō translates Heb. saba (SH-7646), to be sated with or satisfied, first in Job 38:7 of satisfying the land with rain. In this context Yeshua may allude to Psalm 17:15, "As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied [Heb. saba; LXX chortazō] with Your likeness when I awake." This blessing promises that God will satisfy the deepest craving of our heart and enable disciples to achieve the desired state of righteousness.

7― Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Parallel Passage: Luke 6:36.

Blessed are: pl. of Grk. makarios, adj. See verse 3 above. the merciful: pl. of Grk. ho eleēmōn (from eleos, "mercy"), adj., full of pity, merciful, compassionate, lit. "the merciful ones." In the LXX eleēmōn occurs 19 times and translates five different Hebrew words, thirteen of which are for Heb. channun (SH-2587), gracious, used only as an attribute of God (BDB 337; Ex 22:27; 34:6; 2Chr 30:9; Neh 9:17, 31; Ps 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4; 116:5; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jon 4:2). Two other uses also represent an attribute of God (Deut 4:31; Jer 3:12). The adjective appears four times in Proverbs as an attribute of the good man (11:17; 19:11; 20:6; 28:22).

The adjective occurs only two times in the Besekh, the other as an attribute of Yeshua (Heb 2:17). Based on the usage of the adjective in the LXX and the other occurrence in the Besekh to describe Yeshua, then manifesting this essentially divine characteristic is deserving of blessing. for: Grk. hoti, conj. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. will receive mercy: Grk. eleeō, fut. pass., 3p-pl., to have pity or mercy on, to show mercy. The general meaning is to have compassion or mercy on a person in unhappy circumstances (Zodhiates). In the LXX eleeō translates primarily Heb. chanan (SH-2603), to show favor, be gracious (Gen 33:5, 11; 43:29; Ex 33:19; Num 6:25); but also Heb. racham (SH-7355), to love, have compassion (Deut 13:17; 30:3).

The future tense of the verb depicts receiving mercy from God, which could point to an immediate future as a reward for a specific act of mercy, or point to the judgment of the last day in which we must stand before God. Nicoll observes that this Beatitude states a self-acting law of the moral world. The exercise of mercy (active pity) tends to elicit mercy from others—God and men.

8― Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are: pl. of Grk. makarios, adj. See verse 3 above. the pure: pl. of Grk. ho katharos, adj., may mean (1) free from contamination, clean, cleansed; or (2) free from guilt or blame or moral impurity. The second meaning applies here, lit. "the pure ones." In the LXX katharos translates 18 different Hebrew words, but by far the most frequent is Heb. tahor (SH-2889), clean, pure, used of ritual purity, first in Genesis 7:2 (DNTT 3:103). in heart: Grk. ho kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will.

In the LXX kardia translates Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (DNTT 2:181). The idiom of "pure [Grk. katharos] in heart" in the LXX occurs only in Psalm 24:4, which has Heb. bar as a qualitative condition:

"3 Who may go up on the mountain of ADONAI? Who may stand in His holy place? 4 One with clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted his soul in vain, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He will receive a blessing from ADONAI, righteousness from God His salvation." (TLV)

In the Qumran writings there is a parallel saying, "Blessed is the one who ... with a pure heart and does not slander with his tongue" (4Q525 2:1; TDSS 534). Often in Christian teaching heart purity is thought of in chemical or medical terms. Like Ivory soap - 99 and 44/100 % pure. No alloys or offending properties. However, as Psalm 24 shows purity of heart is an idiomatic expression that means to have good character toward others, no falsehood and no deceit.

Purity of heart is also a euphemism for singleness of mind, the opposite of being double-minded (Jas 1:8). The pure in heart have complete trust in God's sovereign care and purpose to remain faithful to obey Torah commandments regardless of what may come.

for: Grk. hoti, conj. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. will see: Grk. horaō, fut. mid., 3p-pl., to perceive with the eye, to see. The verb also conveys the idea of extraordinary mental or inward perception, i.e., to perceive. In the LXX horaō occurs some 1450 times (DNTT 3:513) and translates primarily Heb. ra'ah (SH-7200), to see or perceive, often of mental observation, and also to appear, used of persons and things, first in Genesis 1:9 (BDB 906). The future tense points to a time when the disciples will witness the power of God in purifying His people (cf. Acts 11:9; 15:9).

God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). In the LXX the singular theos translates the plural Heb. Elohim (SH-430), when used of the true God, the God of creation (Gen 1:1). In Hebrew thought the plural form represents fullness (DNTT 2:67), which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). However, given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. God is a Person, and He is particularly the God of the patriarchs  who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9; Matt 22:32; Luke 1:68). The God of Israel is the only God there is.

The promise to "see God" could refer to life after death, which determines eternal destinies. More likely is that Yeshua refers to witnessing God at work in their lives, to experience God's answers to prayer. Why would the promise of seeing God be reserved to the pure in heart? In Psalm 24 the pure in heart ascend the hill of ADONAI in order to seek His favor and present supplications. David declares that ADONAI will accept and hear the pure in heart, implying that He will answer their prayers. John affirms this truth succinctly by staying that God answers prayer for those who keep His commandments (1Jn 3:22).

9― Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are: pl. of Grk. makarios, adj. See verse 3 above. the peacemakers: pl. of Grk. ho eirēnopoios, adj., one engaged in bringing about a harmonious relationship by peace-making or reconciling, lit. "the peacemaking ones." The noun is formed from eirēnē ("peace") and poieō ("to do or make"). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The noun does not occur in the LXX at all, but it is used by Philo in reference to God (Special Laws 2, XXXI, 192). The related verb eirēnopoeō, "make peace," does occur in the LXX of Proverbs 10:10, "He who reproves boldly is a maker of peace," and in Colossians 1:20 of Yeshua who made peace for us with God through his blood (BAG).

In the LXX eirēnē translates Heb. shalom. Shalom is never peace in the negative sense, the absence of conflict, but the possession of everything that makes for man's highest good. Jews commonly greet one another with shalom, a wish to experience all the blessings of God. But, wishing someone shalom does not necessarily make shalom. The blessing is not for the shalom-lovers, but the shalom-makers. According to the Mishnah (Peah 1:1; Shabbath 127a), making peace between a man and his neighbor is numbered among those things which bring forth good fruit in this life, and benefit in the life to come.

How is it possible to make shalom? Peacemaking takes two forms. All disciples have an obligation to obey Yeshua's two commands to go to others to seek reconciliation. Verses 23-24 below say, "if you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember that your brother has something against you … go and be reconciled with your brother." And in Matthew 18:15 Yeshua says, "if your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. The more challenging form of peacemaking is to be a neutral mediator to help other people in a conflict to reconcile their relationship and resolve their dispute.

There are several people in the Bible who acted as peacemakers.

● Abraham settled a conflict between his shepherds and his nephew Lot's shepherds by giving Lot his choice of land (Gen 13).

● Phinehas investigated claims of sin by the eastern tribes, which really amounted to misunderstandings about the intentions of the eastern tribes in erecting a memorial (Josh 22:10-34).

● Yeshua mediates on more than one occasion between his disciples (e.g., Mark 9:50).

● Jacob (aka "James") at the Jerusalem Council proposed a solution to address concerns of the two sides of the conflict over circumcision of Gentile disciples (Acts 15).

● Barnabas mediated the first meeting between Saul (Paul) and the other apostles, who were afraid of him (Acts 9:27).

● Paul had a falling out with Barnabas over inclusion of Mark in their ministry, but later became reconciled to Mark (e.g. Barnabas and Paul, Acts 15:36-40; Col 4:10; 2Tim 4:11).

● Paul counseled two women in the congregation at Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche, to live in harmony (Php 4:2).

Since the unbelieving person is essentially an enemy of God (Rom 5:10; Eph 2:3; Jas 4:4), then the most important peacemaking is enabling the lost to be reconciled to God and thereby receive salvation (Rom 5:1, 10). Yeshua gave to his disciples the ministry of reconciliation to bring the message of God's peace to the world (cf. Luke 2:14; 2Cor 5:18-19).

for: Grk. hoti, conj. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. will be called: Grk. kaleō, fut. pass., 3p-pl., to identify by name or give a term to; call. In the LXX kaleō translates various forms of the Heb. verb qara, (SH-7121), to call, to proclaim or to read, first in Genesis 1:5 (DNTT 1:272). As used here the verb implies a high honor. The future tense of the verb is not eschatological, but a simple consequence of having been successful at peacemaking.

sons: pl. of Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben (SH-1121), "son," "son of," which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5); (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32); (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25).

of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See the previous verse. The complete phrase "sons of God" occurs ten times in the Bible, four of which refer to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Luke 20:36). In Paul's writings the sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit (Rom 8:14), those who will share in the resurrection (Rom 8:19) and those who are faithful to Yeshua (Gal 3:26). In this context, "sons of God" is a designation that emulates the true Son of God who is the preeminent peacemaker. To be called a "son of God" is a high honor. And, because it is a status women, too, can be "sons of God."

The verb "called" or "named" implies it is an action of God as a consequence of a disciple's peacemaking. It's as if when God sees a disciple acting as a peacemaker, He turns to the angels and says with pride, "that's my son, the peacemaker." Lightfoot notes that in the Talmud making peace between neighbors is numbered among those things which bring forth good fruit in this life, and benefit in the life to come (Peah 1:1).

10― Blessed are those having been persecuted on account of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Parallel: Luke 6:22.

Blessed are: Grk. makarios, adj. See verse 3 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun, lit. "the ones." having been persecuted: Grk. diōkō, pl. perf. pass. part., may mean (1) to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away; (2) to run swiftly in order to catch some person or thing, to run after; (3) in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one; to persecute; (4) without the idea of hostility, to run after, follow after: someone; or (5) metaphorically, to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire (Thayer). The third meaning primarily applies here.

In the LXX diōkō translates Heb. radaph (SH-7291), to pursue, chase or persecute, first in Genesis 31:23. The meaning of "to persecute" occurs first in Deuteronomy 30:7 in which Israel is the object of persecution by various nations. Indeed the Jewish people have been the object of Satan-inspired irrational hatred since their exodus from Egypt. No other people group on the face of the earth has endured such ill-treatment, except perhaps followers of Yeshua.

on account of: Grk. heneka, prep. expresses cause or reason for something; on account of, because of. righteousness: Grk. dikaiosunē. See verse 6 above. Yeshua offers a specific rationale for persecution. It could refer to the Hebrew prophets mentioned in verse 12 below who advocated for justice and proclaimed God's judgment on the guilty and suffered because they stepped on the toes of the powerful. Yeshua could have alluded to the persecution of Jews under the various empires beginning with the Assyrians. "Because of righteousness" would mean living by Torah commandments. Jews adhered strictly to customs of eating kosher and cleanliness that Gentiles sneered at.

Perhaps the most famous persecution in the past was the planned genocide by Haman against the Jews in Persia that led to the establishment of Purim as an annual feast on 15 Adar. "Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king's laws, so it is not in the king's interest to let them remain." (Esther 3:8)

More specifically "persecution because of righteousness" is that suffered by Yeshua's followers because they dare to assert belief in and advocate adherence to the absolute moral principles of Scripture. Like the Hebrew prophets, Yochanan the Immerser and Yeshua, true followers of Yeshua confront evil practices in the contemporary culture, particularly threats to life and liberty. Those who condone sin and wickedness generally do not accept rebuke but often react with violence.

for: Grk. hoti, conj. theirs: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. is: Grk eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. the kingdom: Grk. ho basileia. See verse 3 above. of heaven: pl. of Grk. ho ouranos. See verse 3 above. Does this blessing assume there is some religious merit in being persecuted? No. This belief developed in the second and third centuries when tens of thousands were martyred during the ten severe persecutions of the Roman emperors. Are we to seek persecution? No. Yeshua later instructed his disciples to flee from persecution (Matt 10:23). Peter promised a similar blessing, "But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed" (1Pet 3:14).

Since there was a common belief among Jews that misfortune came upon people because of sin (cf. John 9:1-2), then Yeshua reassures his disciples that persecution will not deprive them of God's favor. Indeed, those who are persecuted because of bearing the name of Yeshua will have a special place of honor in Yeshua's kingdom.

11― Blessed are you when they insult you, and persecute you, and speak every kind of evil against you, lying on account of me.

Parallel: Luke 6:22.

Blessed: pl. of Grk. makarios, adj. See verse 3 above. are you: Grk. eimi, pres., 2p-pl. See verse 3 above. when: Grk. hotan, conj., a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever.' they insult: Grk. oneidizō, aor. subj., 3p-pl., to find fault in a demeaning fashion, whether of abusing verbally so as to shame, or putting to shame in severe reproof. In the LXX oneidizō translates Heb. charaph (SH-2778), to reproach or taunt, first in Judges 5:18. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun occurs 26 times in this chapter in reference to Yeshua's followers.

The clause "when they insult you" depicts a scene of face-to-face confrontation and derogatory words. Yeshua experienced personally such insulting rhetoric from his enemies (Matt 12:24; John 8:13, 41, 48). and: Grk. kai, conj. persecute you: Grk. diōkō, aor. subj., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. Persecution goes well beyond insulting language. Yeshua will later warn his disciples that they would be flogged in the synagogues (Matt 10:16-22) and either excommunicated from the synagogue (John 9:22) or put to death (John 15:20; 16:2). and: Grk. kai. speak: Grk. legō, aor. subj., 3p-pl. See verse 2 above.

every kind of: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. evil: Grk. ponēros, bad, evil. First, the term may be used as an adjective characterizing condition, whether physical (in poor condition) or ethical (wicked, evil, degenerate). The adjective may be applied to material objects, words or the conscience. Second, the term may be used as a substantive, whether to denote a wicked or evil intentioned person (e.g., Deut 21:21; Esth 7:6; 1Cor 5:13), as a euphemism for the devil (1Jn 5:19), or that which is inherently evil (Gen 6:5; Rom 12:9) (BAG).

In the LXX ponēros translates Heb. ra (SH-7451), with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 2:9 (DNTT 1:565). In the Tanakh ra is used to describe both that which is ethically evil (Gen 6:5; Deut 1:35; 4:25) and something that is unpleasant, disagreeable or injurious (e.g. Gen 24:50; Deut 22:14; 28:35; Isa 3:11). The term is used here from God's point of view as a substantive to emphasize the inherent nature of the adversarial acts.

against: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down," is generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) opposition, 'against;' or (3) conformity, 'according to.' The second usage is intended here. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. lying: Grk. pseudomai, pl. pres. mid. part., state what is false, to willfully misrepresent the facts. In the LXX pseudomai translates Heb. kachash (SH-3584), to disappoint, deceive, or fail, (Lev 6:2; 19:11) and Heb. kazab (SH-3576), to tell a lie, be a liar (Job 6:28). on account of: Grk. heneka, prep. See the previous verse.

me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. In the LXX egō translates the Heb. personal pronoun ani (SH-589), meaning "I" and occurring first as a self-reference by God in Genesis 6:17, and frequently thereafter. In contrast to verse 10 above Yeshua looks forward in this verse and personalizes the danger posed by his enemies. Yeshua warns of the real threat of slander against his disciples. Both Stephen (Acts 6:11-14) and Paul (Acts 21:21) would later be victims of slander.

12― Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven; for so they persecuted the prophets before you.

Parallel: Luke 6:23.

Rejoice: Grk. chairō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., to be in a state marked by good feeling about an event or circumstance; be happy, glad, delighted, rejoice. The verb has a direct etymological connection with the noun charis ("grace") and chara ("joy") with the same core meaning of delight in God's favor (HELPS). In the LXX chairō for the most part translates Hebrew words from the root verb samach (SH-8055), be glad, rejoice (Ex 4:14; 1Sam 6:13; Isa 39:2), but also gil (SH-1523), rejoice (Prov 2:14; 23:25), and sis (SH-7797), to exult, rejoice (Isa 66:14) (DNTT 2:356).

and: Grk. kai, conj. be glad: Grk. agalliaō, pres. mid., 2p-pl., to be exuberantly joyful; rejoice, exult. Mounce adds "to celebrate, to praise and to desire ardently." In the LXX agalliaō translates Heb. gil (SH-1523), rejoice, rejoicing (1Chr 16:31); alats (SH-5970), to rejoice, exult (1Chr 16:32); ranan (SH-7442), cry in joy (Ps 32:11); and samach (SH-8055), rejoice, be glad (2Sam 1:20), which often occur in religious contexts to express festive joy (DNTT 2:353). for: Grk. hoti, conj. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person.

reward: Grk. ho misthos, reciprocation for performance, which may be (1) payment for labor, pay, wages; or (2) a reward resulting from endeavors. The second meaning is intended here. In the LXX misthos translates chiefly Heb. sakar (SH-7939), hire, wages, or reward, depending on the context (Gen 15:1; 30:18, 28; Ex 22:15; Deut 15:18; DNTT 3:138). is great: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, whether of quantity ("many") or quality ("much"), here the latter. in: Grk. en, prep., prep., with the root meaning of "within," generally used to mark position or place (among, at, by, in, on, within), but also may mark means (by, by means of) (DM 105).

heaven: pl. of Grk. ho ouranos, lit. "the heavens." See verse 3 above. 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. so: Grk. houtōs, adv., used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. they persecuted: Grk. diōkō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 10 above. the prophets: pl. of Grk. ho prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet.

In ancient Greek culture the word-group always had a religious meaning and referred to one who predicts or tells beforehand (DNTT 3:76). In the LXX prophētēs translates Heb. nabi (SH-5030), spokesman, speaker, or prophet; first in Genesis 20:7 where it is used of Abraham. In Scripture the term refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling. The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets. The Hebrew prophets were a diverse group with different personalities, vocations and manner of ministry, but they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). See my PowerPoint presentation The Hebrew Prophets.

before: Grk. pro, prep. indicating precedence, either (1) spatially, 'ahead, before,' (2) temporally, 'earlier than, before' or (3) in rank, before or above. The second usage applies here. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person; i.e., the disciples. Paul later summarized the persecution of the prophets:

"32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who ... 35 were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground." (Heb 11:32, 33, 35-38)

This verse ties verse ten and eleven together and is the perfect conclusion to the ten blessings. The command is echoed by Jacob, Yeshua's half-brother, "My brothers, when you might encounter various trials, consider every joy, 3 knowing that the testing of your faithfulness produces patience" (Jas 1:2-3 BR).

The tenth blessing actually directs the disciples to offer a b'rakhah or a blessing to God, since he has already offered nine blessings to his disciples. It is a reminder that in Jewish culture blessings are offered to God in bad times, as well as good. Job set the pattern when he said, "ADONAI gave and ADONAI has taken away; blessed be the Name of ADONAI" (Job 1:21 TLV).

In times of grief Jews typically recite the Kaddish, a lengthy offering of praise and thanksgiving that magnifies and sanctifies the name of God. The central line of the Kaddish in Jewish tradition is the congregation's response "May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity", a public declaration of God's greatness and eternality, a paraphrase of part of Daniel 2:20.

Mission in the World, 5:13-16

13― "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

Parallel Passages: Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34-35.

You: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person; "you followers of mine." are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. the salt: Grk. ho halas, a crystalline compound, sodium chloride, NaCl, occurring as a mineral. The term has three uses in Scripture: (1) the seasoning used on food and sacrifices (Lev 2:13; Job 6:6; Mark 9:49); (2) those kinds of saline matter used to fertilize arable land; (3) a symbol of lasting concord (Mark 9:50). The second meaning is intended in this clause. In the LXX halas translates Heb. melach (SH-4417), salt, first in Genesis 19:26.

of the Land: Grk. ho gē. See verse 5 above. I believe the Land of Israel is intended here as a contrast to "world" in the next verse, which together represents the two-fold commission of the apostles. In this clause salt as a condiment cannot be understood, since this renders land sterile (Deut 29:23; Jdg 9:45; Zeph 2:9) (Thayer). Relevant to Yeshua's mission statement is that salt has important figurative or spiritual meanings in the Tanakh.

First, salt represents covenant. God established a covenant of salt, first with Aaron (Num 18:19) and then with King David and his sons (2Chr 13:5). The covenant of salt was equivalent to an indissoluble covenant and inviolable contract. This covenant alludes to the fact that all the offerings the priests presented were to be seasoned with salt or accompanied with salt: "Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt" (Lev 2:13). God intended Israel to be a kingdom of priests (Ex 19:6) and Yeshua's disciples inherited this ministry (1Pet 2:4).

Second, salt represents purity. Consider the instruction to prepare incense: "With it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy." (Ex 30:25). Relevant also is that Elijah purified a spring of water with salt (2Kgs 2:19-21). Paul applied this principle to conversation: "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Col 4:6 BR).

Third, salt represents obedience. Being salt means a personal willingness to do what Yeshua demands (Luke 14:26-34). Yeshua demands first place in the lives of his disciples and that he would be treated as more important than family or possessions. Salt was a precious and costly commodity in ancient societies, which some scholars consider to be a contributing factor in the development of civilization. The decision to follow Yeshua means counting the cost. Yeshua thus intended that his disciples be salt to the Israelite people, which established the priority of proclaiming the good news (Rom 1:16).

but: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. The words "but if" introduces a hypothetical situation. the salt: Grk. ho halas. Since the followers of Yeshua are the salt, then this warning applies to them. should become tasteless: Grk. mōrainō, aor. pass. subj., may mean (1) cause or show o be foolish; or (2) make tasteless. The second meaning is intended here. The subjunctive mood looks toward what is conceivable or potential.

with: Grk. en, prep. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. will it be salted: Grk. halizō, fut. pass., to salt or season. In other words, what will you use to restore the saltiness? It is good: Grk. ischuō, pres., to have the capacity for accomplishing, either to cope with a situation or to achieve an objective; have power or strength, be able. for: Grk. eis, prep. nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, none, nothing. anymore: Grk. eti, adv. For the mineral to lose its "saltiness" deprives it of usefulness.

except: Grk. ei mē, lit. "if not." The words introduce a condition required to prove a proposition. having been thrown out: Grk. ballō, aor. pass. part., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The first usage is intended here. to be trampled upon: Grk. katapateō, pres. pass. inf., trample under foot. by: Grk. hupo, prep. used as (1) a marker of agent or cause; by, from; or (2) a marker of a position that is relatively lower; below, under. The first meaning is intended here.

men: pl. of Grk. ho anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos translates three Hebrew words: (1) adam (SH-444; Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish (SH-376; Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh (SH-582; Ps 8:4-5), which are generally used for an adult male, husband, or a human in contrast to animals or mankind, and often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (DNTT 2:564). The point of this parabolic saying is that if a disciple's willingness turns to unwillingness, if the disciple abandons his Master after experiencing truth and joy and returns to the world, what is left to restore him?

14― "You are the light of the world. A city placed on a hill is not able to be hidden.

You: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. the light: Grk ho phōs, that which serves as a revealing or disclosing medium; light. The term is used of any source that emits light, whether a heavenly luminary (or star), a fire, a lamp or a torch. The noun is also used figuratively to denote truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity congruous with it, especially the saving truth embodied in Yeshua and by his love and effort imparted to mankind (Thayer).

In the LXX phōs translates Heb. or (SH-216), a light, which may be literal of the light from heavenly luminaries or the light of a lamp, as well as various fig. uses, first in Genesis 1:3. In the Tanakh ADONAI is likened to light, as the source enlightenment and prosperity (Isa 10:17); as salvation (Ps 27:1); and as the means of guidance (Ps 43:3; Isa 2:5; Mic 7:8).

Both the Essenes and Pharisees used the term "children of light" to refer to God's elect. Light is first passive. It is a lifestyle: "for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light" (Eph 5:8). Paul illustrated the passive principle, "you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world" (Php 2:15; cf. 1Th 5:5). Light is also active. Light displaces darkness wherever it travels.

of the world: Grk. ho kosmos, "world," has a variety of uses in the Besekh, including (1) the entire cosmic universe including the earth; (2) the planet upon which mankind lives; (3) the inhabitants of the earth; (4) everything in the world that opposes God and is ruined and depraved of character (BAG). The LXX of the Tanakh uses kosmos some ten times for words meaning ornaments, jewelry or decorations and five times for Heb. tsaba, the "hosts of heaven and earth," i.e., the stars (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19). The meaning of kosmos as "world" is only found in later Greek writings of the LXX (Wis., 2Macc., 4Macc.). The Tanakh has no word for the "world" corresponding to the Greek kosmos.

Yeshua expected his Jewish disciples to be light to the nations, a mission God originally intended for Israel,

"I, ADONAI, called You in righteousness, I will take hold of Your hand, I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations." (Isa 42:6 TLV)

"It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth." (Isa 49:6)

The declaration of Israel's responsibility is implicit in the covenant God made with Abraham, "I will make you the father of a multitude of nations" (Gen 17:5 NASB). God repeated this covenantal expectation to Isaac, "by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen 26:4 NASB). Then God made His desire even more specific to Jacob, "A nation and a company of nations shall come from you" (Gen 35:11 NASB). Thus, God always wanted Jacob (Israel) to be a company of nations. From the time of the exodus from Egypt many non-Israelites joined the covenant people.

Israel never purposely sought the inclusion of Gentiles, but in the time of Isaiah God declared that He expected Israel to be the voice of truth to the nations about the one true God (cf. Isa 51:4; 60:1-3). From the standpoint of an observer the "end of the earth" would indicate the horizon. The topographical reference occurs over forty times in the Tanakh, all of which indicate a physical distance in relation to the land of Israel. In terms of the light-bearing mission the truth of God should impact every part of the globe where Jews and Gentiles may be found, no matter how far away from the land of Israel they might dwell (Acts 1:8).

A city: Grk. polis, a term applied to a population center, whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly. In the LXX polis translates Heb. iyr (SH-5892), a city or town as the abode of men, first in Genesis 4:17. placed: Grk. keimai, pres. mid. part., be set in a position; lie, set. In the LXX keimai occurs only a few times and translates various verbal constructions depicting placement of physical objects in a location (Josh 4:6; Isa 9:4; 30:33; Jer 24:1). on: Grk. epanō, prep. with the basic idea of superiority, which may be expressed in terms of dignity, place, power or position; above, on top of.

a hill: Grk. oros. See verse 1 above. This statement reflected the common practice of building ancient cities on hills or mountains in order to make them stronger against attack. Jerusalem was built on seven hills (cf. Ps 125:1f), the most significant of which was Mt. Zion. is not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; no, not. able: Grk. dunamai, the quality or state of being capable. In the LXX dunamai translates Heb. yakol (SH-3201), to be able or to have power, usually as a personal attribute, but occasionally used of inanimate things (Gen 15:5; 36:7).

to be hidden: Grk. kruptō, aor. pass. inf., to keep from view, to conceal or hide. In the LXX kruptō translates Heb. chaba (SH-2244), to withdraw or hide (Gen 3:8) and Heb. kachad (SH-3582), to hide or conceal (1Sam 3:17) (DNTT 2:214f). Yeshua mixes his metaphors, first likening his disciples to light and then to a city. Although one might be a secret believer, there is no way to be a secret disciple, since by definition a disciple has declared his identification with Yeshua by public immersion (Matt 28:19) and pledged loyalty to follow the Messiah even to death.

15― Nor do they light a lamp and put it under the basket, but on the lampstand, and it shines for all those in the house.

Parallel Passages: Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16; 11:33.

Nor: Grk. oude, conj., negative particle that links a negative statement as complementary to a preceding negative. do they light: Grk. kaiō, pres., 3p-pl., to cause to be on fire. The present tense emphasizes a continuous activity. a lamp: Grk. luchnos, which refers to small oil and wick lamps used in first century dwellings that sat on lampstands. The translation of "candle" and "candlestick" in the KJV is misleading to modern readers, since the molded candle in use today was not invented until the Middle Ages.

and: Grk. kai, conj. put: Grk. tithēmi, pres., to place, lay, or set, here meaning to arrange for association with a site. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. under: Grk. hupo, prep. the basket: Grk. ho modios, a container for dry goods holding up to eight liters (roughly two gallons); a dry measure (the chief grain unit) equivalent to one peck (8.81L) (HELPS). The definite article emphasizes a particular basket belonging to a household. but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand.

on: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; and in composition may be translated 'at, by, near, on, upon, or over.' the lampstand: Grk. ho luchnia refers to the stand upon which a luchnos, or lamp, was placed or hung. In the LXX luchnia translates menorah, which referred both to the seven-branched golden lampstand used in the tabernacle (Ex 25:10) and a single-branched lampstand used in homes (2Kgs 4:10). Yeshua states the obvious because putting an oil lamp under a basket might either cause the lamp to go out or set the basket on fire.

and: Grk. kai. it shines: Grk. lampō, pres., to emit rays of light, shine or give light. for all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 11 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. the house: Grk. ho oikia (from oikeō, engage in housing), may mean (1) a habitable structure; house, abode, private residence; or (2) fig. of a group within a house; household or family. The first meaning is intended here.

The full proverbial statement emphasizes that by nature light cannot be restricted. The mention of "house" could be a metaphor for Israel (whether the geographical Israel or the scattered people of Israel) and the impact of the instruction to the Jewish disciples is this: since you're the light of the world, don't try to keep the light in the land of Israel.

16― "Thus, let your light shine before men so that they may see your good works, and they should glorify your Father in heaven.

Thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. (from the demonstrative pronoun, houtos, "this"), which may express (1) like this, in this manner, in this way, in accordance with or corresponding to what follows; or (2) thus, so, in the same manner; referring to what precedes; in the manner spoken of or in the way described. The second meaning is intended here as a conclusion to the previous verse. The adverb stresses that just as a light must be put on a lampstand so the light of disciples must be seen.

let your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. light: Grk. ho phōs. See verse 14 above. shine: Grk. lampō, aor. imp. See the previous verse. before: Grk. emprosthen, prep., expresses position that is in front or ahead; before, in front of. men: pl. of Grk. ho anthrōpos. See verse 13 above. The phrase "before men" suggests in public places without discriminating who receives the light. so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. used to indicate purpose, objective or an end in view; in order that, so that. they may see: Grk. horaō, aor. pass. subj., 3p-pl. See verse 1 above. your: Grk. humeis. good: Grk. kalos, meeting a high standard, often with focus on moral aspect or personal merit.

works: pl. of Grk. ho ergon, which may refer to a deed or action in contrast to rest or deeds exhibiting a consistent moral character. The expression "good works" defines what Yeshua means by "your light." Yeshua makes an important distinction. In the Besekh the mention of "works" often refers to complying with man-made rules or traditions, i.e., works of legalism. In contrast "good works" are works that Yeshua himself did (cf. Matt 11:2; John 5:36; 6:28; 10:32) or works of obeying Torah commandments, especially doing good that benefits or serves the needs of others (cf. Eph 2:10; 1Tim 2:10; 5:10; 6:18). See my article Law vs. Legalism.

and: Grk. kai, conj. they should glorify: Grk. doxazō, aor. subj., 3p-pl., enhance esteem or reputation through word of praise or action. To glorify is to bless and praise God. Good works are done in such a way that God gets the credit instead of the disciple. Good works can aid in encouraging people to turn to God. Followers of Yeshua have long relied on good works (e.g., schools, hospitals, compassionate ministries) to lay a foundation for evangelism. Good works give credibility to a skeptical and hurting world.

Your: Grk. humeis. Father: Grk. ho patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes both His activity as creator and sustainer. In the LXX patēr translates ab (SH-1, "av"), father, whether of a biological parent (Gen 2:24), an ancestor (Gen 28:13), the head of a household (Gen 38:11) or God (Ex 4:22) (DNTT 1:616f). In the Besekh the capitalized "Father" is a circumlocution for the God of Israel. While God gave physical life to mankind (cf. Acts 17:28), he is only Father in a spiritual and covenantal sense in relation to Israel.

God's paternal relationship to Israel is affirmed many times in the Tanakh (e.g., Ex 4:22; Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6; cf. 2Cor 6:18). The Father is the one who sent Yeshua into the world (John 5:36-37) and He is the one who draws people to Yeshua (John 6:44). Yeshua continually referred to almighty God as "my Father," but in the Sermon on the Mount he repeatedly personalizes the relationship between his disciples and God using the pronoun "your" eleven times.

in: Grk. en, prep. Heaven. pl. of Grk. ho ouranos, lit. "the heavens." See verse 3 above. The third heaven is the abode of God the Father, the home of angels and the place where Yeshua now sits at the right hand of God (Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2; Eph 1:20). The plural ouranois/samayim is appropriate in that the Father reigns from the third heaven over all three heavens and is omnipresent in all three.

This is not just an idle statement. The Father of whom Yeshua speaks of is not Abraham, Moses or another blood ancestor, or even himself. The Father is not here. He is in heaven, seated on a throne (Ps 11:4; 47:8; 103:19; 1Kgs 22:19; Isa 6:1; 66:1 Rev 4:2). It is from there that He rules the universe and directs the affairs of men. As far away as He is, the Father still knows our activities.

Authority of Torah, 5:17-20

17― Do not suppose that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Do not: Grk. , adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, , in that is objective, dealing only with facts, while is subjective, involving will and thought. With the negation concerns a supposition. suppose: Grk. nomizō, aor. subj., 2p-pl., to determine on the basis of ordinary reasoning, to conclude or to suppose. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. The conjunction introduces the following clause as complementary of the preceding verb "suppose."

I came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. Yeshua alludes to his arrival from heaven into the world and his incarnation, although his audience might interpret his meaning as assumption of his public ministry. to abolish: Grk. kataluō, aor. inf., tear down or destroy. The verb can have a (1) physical meaning of demolishing or destroying a structure, or (2) a non-physical meaning in the sense of putting an end to something, so causing it to be invalid; abolish, annul, cancel or invalidate. The second meaning is intended here.

the Torah: Grk. ho nomos may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX nomos generally corresponds to Heb. torah (SH-8451), which means "direction," "teaching" or "instruction" (BDB 435f), first in Genesis 26:5. Torah is the feminine noun from the root yarah, which means to throw, to shoot (as in arrows), or to cast (as in lots). It also means to point out, to show, to direct, to teach or to instruct. In the Tanakh torah refers primarily to commandments decreed by God to Israel. Torah sets forth the way to live in an ethical way in order to enjoy life to the full and to please God.

In the apostolic narratives nomos is generally used to mean the written commandments given to Israel. By distinguishing Torah from the Prophets, and mentioning "jot and tittle" in the next verse, Yeshua uses Torah to mean the written works of Moses or the Pentateuch. As Scripture the Torah has several important purposes:

● Torah reveals the good, holy, just and perfect nature of God (Rom 2:17-18; 7:12; 2Pet 1:4).

● Torah teaches believers how to serve, worship and please God (Ps 19:7-9; 119; Acts 18:13-14).

● Torah serves as a school master leading people to Yeshua, the true Messiah who makes his people righteous (Rom 3:19; Gal 3:21-24).

● Torah reveals the depth of sin and measures a man's deeds, revealing what is contrary to holiness and sound doctrine (Rom 2:12; 3:20; 4:15; 7:7-8; 1Tim 1:8-10; Rev 20:12-13).

● Torah teaches people how to treat their fellow man (Lev 19:18; Gal 5:14; 6:2).

● Torah teaches people how to be happy and prosperous (Josh 1:8; Ps 1:1-3; Luke 12:32).

The fact that Yeshua used the verb "abolish" instead of "change" is important. Yeshua meant that he did not come to completely eliminate the Torah, as if one could remove the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy from the Bible. Conversely, there would be changes to the Torah, such as the office of high priest and means of atonement (cf. Heb 7:11-28; 9:11f; 10:4), but this was not the occasion to address those matters.

or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote (1) an alternative, 'or,' or (2) a comparative function, 'than.' The first usage applies here. the Prophets: Grk. ho prophētēs. See verse 12 above. The use of the plural "Prophets" refers to the portion of the Tanakh known as the Neviim, which included the Early Prophets (Joshua–Kings) and the Latter Prophets (Isaiah–Malachi). Contrary to the Sadducees Yeshua affirmed the Pharisee belief that the literary works of the Neviim in the Tanakh are authoritative Scripture (cf. Matt 26:56; Luke 24:27, 44-45; cf. Rom 1:2; 16:26; 2Tim 3:16-17).

I did not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 14 above. The particle introduces a categorical denial. come: Grk. erchomai, aor. The repetition of the verb emphasizes his intention, the purpose of his ministry. to abolish: Grk. kataluō, aor. inf. In rabbinic discussions of Yeshua's day when a rabbi felt that another rabbi had misinterpreted a passage of Scripture he would say, "You are canceling the Torah," i.e., you are so misinterpreting Scripture as to negate or cancel part of it (Bivin 94). In a famous example Rabbi Eliezer in disagreeing with a particular ruling of Rabbi Akiva's about Passover accused Akiva of uprooting the Torah (Pesachim 6:2).

Yeshua said twice that he didn't come to abolish. A two-fold denial was a powerful declaration in Hebrew culture and the final word on the subject (cf. Rom 11:1-2). Contrary to common Christian teaching Yeshua did not come to revoke the commandments he gave to Moses. Scripture asserts, "ADONAI [Heb. YHVH] is our lawgiver" (Isa 33:22; cf. Matt 7:21; Col 1:9-10). Yeshua is ADONAI in flesh (John 8:58) and it was ADONAI who gave the commandments to Adam (Gen 2:16), Noah (Gen 7:5), Abraham (Gen 26:5), and Moses for Israel (Ex 20:2; 24:12).

Only the authority that imposes a law has the right to change it or cancel it. You may not like city ordinances, but you can't cancel them. To suggest that Yeshua canceled the Torah is tantamount to saying that he decided his disciples didn't need any rules to live by. With no law you eliminate the sin problem, because "where there is no law, there is no violation" (Rom 4:15; also 5:13). Moreover, the description of Yeshua as "righteous" and "sinless" is based on the fact that he lived in obedience to Torah commandments. There are three very good reasons why Yeshua would not have abolished the Torah.

First, the prophecy of the New Covenant. Jeremiah prophesied, "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the Lord, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jer 31:33). The specific help comes in the person of the Holy Spirit, as prophesied by Ezekiel, "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances" (Ezek 36:27). THERE IS NO NEW COVENANT WITHOUT TORAH.

Second, the bar mitzvah of Yeshua. At the age of 13 Yeshua became bar mitzvah, "son of the commandment." At this time the young person becomes accountable to the Torah and takes on the rights, obligations and privileges of adulthood. Most non-Jews think of bar mitzvah as a ceremony, but a Jewish boy automatically becomes bar mitzvah at 13 and a girl bat mitzvah ("daughter of the commandment") at 12. No ceremony is needed to assume this status. So, considering what Yeshua said to his disciples, was he now renouncing what he had understood at age 13? Was he rejecting Torah as the guide for his life? As Hebrews 10:28 says, if Yeshua was guilty of setting aside the Torah, then he deserved to die.

Third, Yeshua constantly demonstrated his support of Torah and everyone knew it.

● Yeshua wore an outer garment with tzitzit as prescribed by Torah (Matt 9:20-21; Num 15:37-41; Deut 22:12).

● Yeshua directed a man he healed to present himself to the priest for inspection and offer the sacrifice required by Torah (Matt 8:4; Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14).

● Yeshua taught in the synagogues (Matt 4:23; 9:35; 13:54).

● Yeshua kept the Sabbath and feasts prescribed in Torah (Mark 1:21; Luke 22:1; John 2:23; 4:45; 7:14; 10:22).

● When the rich young ruler ask what to do to gain eternal life, Yeshua told him to keep the commandments (Matt 19:17).

● Yeshua exhorted his disciples to observe all that the Pharisees taught (Matt 23:3).

● Yeshua chastised the Pharisees for subverting and failing to keep the Torah (Matt 15:3-10; 23:23).

● Yeshua insisted that loving him was demonstrated by keeping his (God's) commandments (John 14:15, 21; 15:10).

but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 15 above. to fulfill: Grk. plēroō, aor. inf., to fill, with a range of meaning: (1) to make full (to fill full), (2) to complete a period of time or reach its end, (3) to bring something to completion or finish something already begun, (4) to fulfill by deeds a prophecy, obligation, duty or destiny, (5) complete, finish, bring to an end or (6) complete a number (BAG). In the LXX plēroō translates chiefly the Heb. malê (SH-4390, 'mah-lay'), "to fill or to be full," with the same range of meaning (DNTT 1:734).

Yeshua's intention is to "fulfill" the Torah was essentially two-fold. First, Yeshua wanted to make the Torah full, that is explain its meaning in order to actualize its reality in people's lives. Second, Yeshua would fulfill the Messianic promises contained in the Torah since Moses wrote about the Messiah (John 1:45; 5:46). See my article The Messiah in the Pentateuch. Unfortunately, many Christian interpreters claim Yeshua meant to terminate the Torah and to strip it of any authority.

However, "fulfill" cannot mean to rebut the preceding purpose statement that he did not come to abolish the Torah. It would be nonsensical for Yeshua to say, "I did not come to cancel the Torah, but to cancel the Torah." Stern comments that this verse states the theme and agenda of the entire Sermon on the Mount, in which Yeshua completes, makes fuller, the understanding of his disciples concerning the Torah and the Prophets.

In reality one of the expectations of the Messiah was that he would explain the Torah.

"The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (the one called Christos); when he comes, he will disclose everything to us." (John 4:25 BR)

"If anyone desires to do His will, he will know concerning my instruction, whether it is of God, or I speak from myself." (John 7:17 BR)

They said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32)

Christians make two wrong conclusions from this verse

Misbelief #1. "I have fulfilled the Torah with perfect obedience and since you can't keep God's law perfectly, you can trust in my obedience." In other words, Yeshua obeying the Torah ended our need to obey God's law. The Torah no longer has any authority. (A related viewpoint, called Two Covenant Theology, is that the Torah has no authority over Christians, only Jews.)

However, Paul insisted that obedience that comes from trusting in Yeshua does not abolish Torah, but confirms it:

"through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith[fulness] among all the Gentiles for His name's sake." (Rom 1:5)

"Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law." (Rom 3:31)

All the commandments given by Yeshua and the apostles are drawn from the Torah. If we are to follow Yeshua's example and walk in his steps (1Pet 2:21), then we must show the same concern for living by Torah as he did. The issue is not how perfectly we do it, but how committed we are to the principle (1Jn 2:3-4; 3:22-24; 5:2-3).

Misbelief #2. "Yeshua only meant that he fulfilled prophecy contained in the Torah and Prophets that predicted his incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension."

Yeshua does indeed speak of this fact before he ascended.

"Now He said to them, These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." (Luke 24:44)

However, prophecy is not just limited to events, such as the birth and death of the Messiah. For example every story, every teaching, every feast, every priestly rule in the Pentateuch, as well as the teachings of the Major and Minor Prophets and the diversity of the Psalms prophesies something about Messiah, his character, his mission and his reign. Prophecy is as much forth-telling as foretelling.

Replacement theology contended that since Yeshua fulfilled all prophecy, no prophecies from the Tanakh remain for the Jews. However, fulfillment in Yeshua is an added assurance that everything God promised to Israel will yet come to pass (Rom 9:4-5; 1Cor 1:20). For more on the meaning of "fulfilling the Law" see my commentary on Romans 10:4.

18― "For truly I tell you, until anyhow heaven and earth pass away, not one iota or one serif will pass away from the Torah until anyhow all should come to pass."

Parallel Passage: Luke 16:17.

For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 12 above. truly: Grk. amēn ("ah–mayn") reflects a strong affirmation, meaning "so let it be" or "truly." In the LXX amēn transliterates the Heb. 'amen (SH–543, "ah–mayn"), which means "it is true, so be it, or may it become true." The Heb. root aman means "to confirm or support." The word amēn reflects a Hebraic conviction that God's words were to be reverently received. In typical Jewish usage the singular amēn points to something previously said (Stern 26). Yeshua saying amēn emphasizes what he just said in the previous verse. "For truly ("in accordance with what I just said) …."

I tell: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. The translation of "tell" is preferred over "say," since "say" essentially means to express an opinion, whereas "tell" can mean to order or direct. Thus, speaking in the first person Yeshua asserts his authority that disciples dare not question. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person; used here of his disciples. Idiomatically the clause "truly I tell you" is equivalent to "Thus says ADONAI," which occurs frequently in addresses to Israel, especially in the books of the Hebrew prophets. until: Grk. heōs, conj., a marker of limit, here of time; till, until.

anyhow: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. HELPS says the particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions. The particle is often not translated. The use of the phrase heōs an in combination with the subjunctive mood of the following verb leaves uncertain just when the event described will occur (Thayer).

heaven: Grk. ho ouranos. See verse 3 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. earth: Grk. ho gē. See verse 5 above. pass away: Grk. parerchomai, aor. subj., may mean either (1) to move spatially from one position to another, to go past or pass by, (2) or to come to an end and so no longer be on the scene, to pass away. The second meaning applies here. The clause alludes to three separate promises in the Tanakh. First, in the covenant with Noah God assured the continuation of the earth in spite of the global deluge, "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Gen 8:22).

Second, in the context of the prophecy of the New Covenant given to Jeremiah God promised that Israel would continue to be the chosen people and His covenantal promises would remain in force until such time that the fixed order of the moon and the stars comes to an end (Jer 31:35-36; 33:23-26). Indeed, God's promise that He would not reject Israel, even in the midst of their failure, firmly repudiates the Christian teaching of replacement theology.

Third, God promised Israel that eventually the heavens and the earth would pass away and be succeeded by a new heavens and new earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22; cf. Rev 21:1). Indeed the heavens and the earth groan for redemption (Rom 8:22-23). So, as long as the present universe exists the Torah will continue to have authority. This one statement should have settled the matter.

Yeshua couldn't have stated the lasting durability of the Torah any better by asserting that heaven and earth will pass away before the Torah does. A number of rabbinic sayings echoed this same sentiment. Yeshua asserted in the strongest possible terms that he did not come to weaken any portion of Scripture by misinterpreting it. In fact, his purpose was to establish the knowledge and observance of God's Word, not undermine it.

not: Grk. ou , lit. "no not," used for the strongest and most emphatic denial possible. one: Grk. heis, the numeral one, a primary number. iota: Grk. iōta, the ninth and smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. See the Greek alphabet here. Some versions have "jot," which came from the Latin jota, a variant spelling of iota. Speaking in Hebrew Yeshua would have said the smallest Hebrew letter yod, which is the tenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. See the Hebrew alphabet here. or: Grk. ē, conj. one: Grk. heis. serif: Grk. keraia, a little hook or projection used to finish off a letter on a Hebrew letter; serif.

Some versions have "tittle," which refers to a dot or other small mark in writing or printing, used as a diacritic, punctuation, etc. As an expression it refers to a very small part. Yeshua was referring to the kots (literally "horn"), the tiny decorative spur sometimes added to the yod (Stern). The kots also distinguished one Hebrew letter from another—for example dalet (d) from resh (r) or beit (b) from kaf (k). Bivin says that Yeshua's statement echoes a well-known Hebrew expression, "lo yod v'lo kotso shel yod," which means "not a yod or a thorn of a yod," or "not the most insignificant or unimportant thing" (94).

will pass away: Grk. parerchomai, aor. subj. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of origin or separation; from, away from. Here the preposition emphasizes separation. the Torah: Grk. ho nomos. See the previous verse. The noun is used of the Pentateuch, but Yeshua also implies "the Prophets" mentioned in the previous verse. until: Grk. heōs, conj. anyhow: Grk. an. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 11 above. should come to pass: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj., to become, and here equivalent to "come to pass" or "happen," used of historical events or something happening to someone; take place, happen, occur, arise.

In the LXX ginomai translates Heb. hayah (SH-1961), become, be (Gen 1:11), and often used in the construction, "and it came to pass" to introduce a historical event (e.g., Gen 4:3, 8; 6:1; 7:10; 8:6). Some versions, as the KJV, translate the verb as "be fulfilled," which may confuse the reader since it is not the same verb used in the previous verse. A number of versions translate the verb here as "is accomplished" (ESV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, OJB, RSV).

In other words, the authority of Scripture will not pass away until all that God intended and announced in the Torah and the Prophets has happened, which includes events associated with the first advent and second advent of the Messiah.

19― "Therefore whoever if he should annul one of the least of these commandments, and should teach thus to people, he will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever anyhow should keep and teach them, this one will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." whoever: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. The pronoun occurs seven times in this chapter. if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 13 above. Most Bible versions, including the NASB, leave the conjunction untranslated, but it is important in establishing the conditional nature of the declaration.

should annul: Grk. luō, aor. subj., has a range of meaning from (1) remove a hindrance, loose, release; (2) do away with, abolish, annul, repeal; (3) cause discontinuity in tradition, break; (4) cause extreme harm to structures, demolish, destroy. The second meaning applies here. The subjunctive mood presents a hypothetical scenario. In the LXX luō is used to translate 7 different Heb. verbs, the most common of which is Heb. patach (SH-6605), to open, first in Genes 42:27 (DNTT 3:177). In the LXX luō is never used of annulling a commandment of God.

A number of versions translate luō here with "breaks" (CSB, KJV, TLB, NET, NKJV, NRSV). Messianic Jewish versions differ in translation: the CJB has "disobeys," MJLT has "unbinds," MW has "relaxes," OJB has "annuls" and TLV has "breaks." Yeshua is not merely speaking of disobeying a commandment as he is of setting aside a commandment (so the NIV), which attacks the very authority of the Torah. "Breaks" is an acceptable translation if it is understood as rejecting the authority behind the commandment. This principle is illustrated in John 5:19 in which the verb luō occurs in an accusation against Yeshua for healing the invalid by the pool of Bethesda. Yeshua was not accused of disobeying the Sabbath, but of doing away with the Sabbath.

one: Grk. heis, the primary number one. of the least: Grk. elachistos, adj., used as the superlative of mikros, smallest, least. of these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. commandments: pl. of Grk. ho entolē, a directive for action, command, order or instruction. In the LXX entolē generally translates Heb. mitsvah (SH-4687), 'commandment' (e.g., Ex 20:6; Ps 119:6). A mitsvah may be a human command, but is mostly divine instruction intended for obedience. Violation produces guilt and need for atonement. The plural form of the noun refers to the commandments God gave to Moses for the nation of Israel to obey.

Bivin suggests the phrase "least of these commandments" refers to a rabbinic term, mitzvah kallot, a light commandment (96). A light commandment was one considered to be of lesser importance in comparison to other commandments. The opposite, of course, was mitzvah chamurot, a heavy or weighty commandment. So, a light commandment is only light in comparison with other commandments. Commandments may be "weighed" based on the punishment prescribed for violation, or the time, effort and resources required to obey, or its importance to a holy life or its importance to the shalom of relationships. The editor of the Babylonian Talmud defines a light commandment as one for which compliance does not entail any, or much, exertion or cost, or the reward (where known), or punishment for which is slight" (Avot Chap 2, fn 4, p. 9). Yeshua makes a similar comparison in this sermon by pointing out that people are more important to God than birds.

However, a commandment is not so "light" that it's not to be taken seriously. All the commandments contained in the Torah were given by God to Moses for Israel, so all the ethical instructions are of importance to God and benefit the covenant community. For example, consider the commandment in Deuteronomy 22:6-7 that prohibited taking a mother bird along with the young from a nest, quote "in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days." The Sages called this commandment the lightest of the light (Tos. Shabbath 16:14, cited in Bivin 97) and yet it promises the same reward as promised for keeping the fifth commandment, "Honor your father and mother" (Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16).

Therefore, the rabbis said, "Be as careful of keeping a light commandment as a heavy commandment because you do not know the reward given for the keeping of commandments" (Avot 2:1). The Sages commented that if the reward was great for keeping the light commandment, how much more would the reward be for keeping the heavy commandment (Hullin 12:5; Yeb. 47b). Yet, this viewpoint caused one Sage to say, "Woe unto us that Scripture weighs against us light like grave offences" (Hagigah 5a). Reasoning further other Sages said that he who violates a light commandment will eventually violate a heavy one.

A midrashic author described the progress of consequences this way: if you do not love your neighbor (Lev 19:18), you might violate the prohibition against hating your brother (Lev 19:17) and the prohibition against personal revenge or bearing a grudge (Lev 19:18), and even the obligation of taking in a poor countryman (Lev 25:35), and eventually end up shedding blood (Sifre Deuteronomy, Shoftim 187:11, cited in Bivin 98).

Considering the lightest commandment we might express the danger another way. A child that is cruel to animals might easily become cruel to people. This reasoning may be seen in some of the rulings Yeshua goes on to make in this sermon. Yeshua stated the principle by saying in another discourse, "Someone who is trustworthy in a small matter is also trustworthy in large ones, and someone who is dishonest in a small matter is also dishonest in large ones" (Luke 16:10).

and: Grk. kai, conj. should teach: Grk. didaskō, aor. subj. See verse 2 above. thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. See verse 12 above. to people: pl. of Grk. ho anthrōpos, lit. "men." See verse 13 above. This clause could imply either to teach the principle of annulling commandments or to teach that a particular commandment has been annulled. will be called: Grk. kaleō, fut. pass. See verse 9 above. least: Grk. elachistos. While the adjective is used in a positive sense in other passages (Matt 2:6; 25:40), it clearly has a negative connotation here. in: Grk. en, prep.

the kingdom: Grk. ho basileia. See verse 3 above. of heaven: pl. of Grk. ho ouranos, lit. "of the heavens." See verse 3 above. The doctrine of the kingdom of heaven in the teaching of Yeshua relates to the expectation and fulfillment of promises made to Israel. To be "least" in the kingdom probably does not mean to be excluded from the kingdom, but to be esteemed little in the eyes of the King, Yeshua, something no smart disciple would want to do.

but: Grk. de, conj. whoever: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. anyhow: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. HELPS says the particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions. The particle is often not translated. should keep: Grk. poieō, aor. subj., a verb of physical action, here means to express by deeds the feelings and thoughts of the mind; act, do, perform. In the LXX poieō translates 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. teach them: Grk. didaskō, aor. subj. The phrase "keep and teach" reflects a modern saying: "Setting the example is not the main thing in influencing others … it is the only thing." He that would teach God's commandments must himself be a model of obedience. he will be called: Grk. kaleō, fut. pass. great: Grk. megas, adj., large or great in extent and used (1) of any extension in space in all directions; or (2) fig. of measure, whether of age, quantity, intensity, importance or social position (BAG). The adjective is used here to emphasize status.

in: Grk. en. the kingdom: Grk. ho basileia. of heaven: pl. of Grk. ho ouranos, lit. "of the heavens." The promise does not mean that the status is one that the disciple claims for himself, but one granted by his Lord. Yeshua promises that those who obey God's commandments, and teach others to obey God's commandments will be highly esteemed in his kingdom. Yeshua thus condemned the practice of elevating human desires over God's express instructions (cf. Ex 16:28; Jdg 17:6; 21:25; 1Jn 2:4).

20― For I tell you, that if your righteousness does not abound more than the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 12 above. I tell: Grk. legō, pres. See verses 2 and 18 above. Yeshua again makes an authoritative declaration. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person, used in reference to disciples, although the pronoun might take in all within the sound of his voice. Yeshua prefaces his comment with an expression he uses frequently to assert his authority. There is a clear implication that he is elevating his authority over that of contemporary religious leaders. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. The conjunction introduces a subordinate clause that explains the verb "I say."

if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 13 above. Yeshua presents a conditional proposition that introduces a possible circumstance the determines the realization of some other circumstance, such as if x happens, then y will follow. your: Grk. humeis. righteousness: Grk. ho dikaiosunē. See verse 6 above. The noun has the practical meaning of living in such a way as to gain God's approval.

does not: Grk. , adv. See verse 17 above. abound: Grk. perisseuō, aor. subj., to be above or beyond in number, amount, or quality; abound, be in abundance. The emphasis here is on attitude. Yeshua does not set up a standard of keeping a minimum number of commandments. more than: Grk. pleiōn, adj., the comparative form of polus ("many"), meaning either (1) "greater in quantity" (comparatively speaking); more than (numerically); or (2) greater in quality, superior, more excellent. The second meaning is intended here. Yeshua contrasts the righteousness God desires with how it was treated by religious leaders of his day.

of the scribes: pl. of Grk. ho grammateus refers to a specialist in legal matters. In Israelite culture a scribe was a legal scholar and a teacher of the Torah. In Greek culture grammateus was the title of officials at Athens and elsewhere, from secretary and registrar to clerk. The term was also used of scholars. In the LXX grammateus translates two Hebrew words, shoter and more frequently the participle of the verb saphar (DNTT 3:477f). The noun shoter (SH-7860, "sho-tare"), official; officer (BDB 1000c) is used of an officer or overseer in Egypt (Ex 5:6), men chosen to be part of the seventy elders (Num 11:16), administrative officers in the army (Deut 20:5) and judicial officials (1Chr 23:4; Ezra 4:8).

The participle sopher of the verb saphar (SH-5608), "to count" (BDB 708) was used for the secretary to a king or government official (2Sam 8:16-18; 2Kgs 22:3-13; 25:19; Ezra 4:8), the military scribe who kept the muster rolls (Jer 37:15), an amanuensis to a prophet (Jer 36:4, 18, 32) and in the later books, one skilled in Torah statutes (Ezra 7:6, 12, 21; Neh 8:1).

In the Besekh grammateus occurs only in the apostolic narratives. The term always has its Jewish meaning of one learned in Torah. Scribes were secretaries, teachers, lawyers, judges, priests and some were members of the Judean ruling council (Matt 16:21). 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) and some were "of the people" (Matt 2:4), suggesting no party affiliation. The terms "scribes" and "Pharisees" are paired together nineteen times, suggesting the majority of the scribes were Sadducees or belonged to no party. Josephus mentions Sadducees who were magistrates (Ant. XVIII, 1:4).

Scribal education began during adolescent years, and progressed for several years in a regular course of study (Jeremias Chap. 10). When the student was able to prove his skill on various religious and penal questions, the student would be considered a "non-ordained scholar" (talmid hakam). As a non-ordained scholar the scribe could be employed in a professional capacity. When the talmid hakam attained the age of 40 (Sotah 22b) he could be accepted into the prestigious company of ordained scholars (hakam). Being ordained gave the scribe the right to make his own decisions on any matter he might consider (Sanhedrin 3a, 5a). There is no question that scribes held considerable power and influence in Jewish culture (Jeremias 243).

In almost all passages the scribes are seen as opponents of Yeshua or recipients of his criticism, but three times a scribe is seen in a positive light (Matt 8:19; 13:52; Mark 12:28-32). Yeshua said that the scribes (along with the Pharisees) "have seated themselves in the chair of Moses" (Matt 23:2), which could be an allusion to the Judean ruling council, the final authority for judging violations of Torah. It may seem ironic that Yeshua instructed his disciples "therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them" (Matt 23:3).

and: Grk. kai, conj. the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios which transliterates the Heb. p'rushim, meaning "separatists." The title was born of the fact that they separated themselves from the common people of the land who did not tithe, were ritually impure and knew nothing of the Torah (Law). Josephus describes the Pharisees as one of four prominent Jewish religious groups in the first century, the others being Essenes, Sadducees and Zealots (Ant. XVIII, 1:2-6). 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" (1Macc 2:42; cf. 1Macc 7:13; 2Macc 14:6). There were several Pharisee communities in Jerusalem (Jeremias 252) and a large number of priests, including those among the higher ranks of priests, were Pharisees (Jeremias, fn31, 230; 256f). In addition, Pharisee rabbis had many disciples throughout Israel and the Diaspora. In contrast to the Sadducees the Pharisees believed in resurrection, immortality, and the existence of angels.

Yeshua had supporters among the Pharisees, such as Nicodemus (John 3:2; 7:50-51), and the unnamed Pharisees who warned Yeshua of a plot by Herod to kill him (Luke 13:31). Yet, Yeshua frequently speaks disparagingly of the "hypocrites," a term he preferred to distinguish from the good Pharisees (18 times in the Synoptic Narratives). Even the Sages spoke of seven types of bad Pharisees, considered hypocrites (Avot 5:9; Sotah 22b). Yeshua's criticism of the hypocrites focused on two issues. First, the hypocrites gave man-made traditions greater authority than the written Torah, which sometimes led to disobedience of Torah commandments.

Second, the righteousness of the hypocrites was defined by performing specific acts of piety, namely: almsgiving, long prayers, twice-weekly fasting and tithing (Matt 23:14, 23; Luke 18:12), all of which were typically done in a manner to gain public attention. Only by twisted logic could the hypocrites tithe dill, mint and cummin (Matt 23:23) and deny their parents of support (Matt 15:3-6), oppose healing on the Sabbath (Matt 12:10-14); refuse to cancel debts in the year of remission (Matt 6:12, 14-15) and extort donations from poor widows (Mark 12:40). Thus, Yeshua contrasts the righteousness found in Torah commandments that required justice, mercy and faithfulness with the limited scope of Pharisee righteousness.

you shall not: Grk. , a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, , in that is objective, dealing only with facts, while is subjective, involving will and thought. With the negation concerns a supposition. enter: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. subj., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. the kingdom of heaven: See verse 3 above for this expression. Yeshua defines the point of entry as a kingdom. The mention of the kingdom here is not futuristic or eschatological, but the name of Yeshua's present movement, his reign in people's hearts. To enter the kingdom means to become a disciple or believer. The "kingdom of heaven" is not equivalent to the Church nor does not mean to go to heaven. One does not enter via bar/bat mitzvah or Christian confirmation.

Understanding the nature of Yeshua's criticism one might be tempted to say, "I can easily surpass the righteousness of those hypocritical Pharisees." Really? We need the humility of Paul the Pharisee who said, "My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me" (1Cor 4:4). Unfortunately, many believers today pick and choose which commandments they will obey, just as ancient Israelites did in the time of the Judges when "everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Jdg 17:6; 21:25). Yeshua calls his disciples to serious introspection. How do we treat light commandments? More importantly, how do we treat the heavy commandments? We owe God the courtesy of treating all the instructions of Scripture with respect and obedience.

Anger and Reconciliation, 5:21-26

21― "You have heard that it was spoken to the ancients, 'You shall not murder' and 'whoever anyhow should murder will be liable to judgment.'

Having laid the foundation of divine expectations for the people of God and affirmed the continuing authority of Torah, Yeshua begins to make specific applications.

You have heard: Grk. akouō, aor., 2p-pl., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The second meaning dominates here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). Yeshua probably alludes to Torah readings in Shabbat services.

that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. The conjunction serves to complement the preceding verb. it was spoken: Grk. legō, aor. pass. See verse 2 above. The verb alludes to the original oral nature of divine instruction. to the ancients: pl. of Grk. ho archaios, adj., lit. "old ones," properly, that has been from the beginning, original, primeval, old, ancient, early. The dative case of the adjective serves to make it an indirect object and indicates the one for whom or in whose interest an act is performed (DM 84). The action "it was spoken" was not performed by the ancients but received by the ancients.

Noteworthy is that Yeshua does not mention Moses or "the fathers" (a euphemism for the patriarchs, John 7:22; Acts 13:32). Some commentators assume the term "ancients" refers to the Jewish Sages dating back to the time of Ezra (Avot 1:1) and Yeshua is thus establishing a contrast between himself and them. However, the commandment that follows is not a perversion of Torah, but a correct repetition of Torah. Clarke comments correctly that "By the ancients, we may understand those who lived before the law … the time of Adam and the primeval generations."

God had from the beginning revealed commandments that expressed His expectations of mankind (Gen 1:26-30; 2:17-25; 3:16-19; 4:6-7; 6:3, 18; 9:3-8; 26:5; Job 23:12). According to the Talmud specific prohibitions dated from the time of Noah:

"Our Rabbis taught: The sons of Noah were given seven commandments: practicing justice and abstaining from blasphemy, idolatry, adultery, bloodshed, robbery, and eating flesh torn from a live animal" (Sanh. 56a).

You shall not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 14 above. murder: Grk. phoneuō, fut., to unlawfully kill a person, murder. The future tense is used here with an imperative sense, which gives the phrase the force of a command. The imperative use of the future tense shows clearly the influence of the LXX, and it occurs most frequently in prohibitions that use the negative particle ou (DM 192). In the LXX phoneuō translates Heb. ratzach (SH-7523), to murder or slay with premeditation (BDB 953), first in Exodus 20:13. The Greek and Hebrew verbs are not used for accidental killing, manslaughter, killing in war or court-ordered execution for a capital crime.

The sixth commandment given to Israel at Sinai specifically prohibits murder (Ex 20:13; Deut 5:17), but Yeshua does not allude to that commandment. Rather, the clause "it was said to the ancients" determines the matter. Murder and violence existed long before Moses was born. For example, God warned Cain:

"Then ADONAI said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, it will lift. But if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the doorway. Its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Gen 4:6-7 TLV)

Was it wrong for Cain to kill Abel? Did he know it was wrong? Did he sin in killing Abel? The prohibition of murder was implicit in the instruction God gave to Cain. God acted as though Cain knew it was wrong to murder. He pronounced a curse and judgment on Cain.

"So now, cursed are you from the ground which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 As often as you work the ground, it will not yield its crops to you again. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth." (Gen 4:11-12 TLV)

Was it wrong for the people of Noah's generation to fill the earth with violence? Was it sin? God brought judgment on the whole earth.

"Then ADONAI saw that the wickedness of humankind was great on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil all the time. 6 So ADONAI regretted that He made humankind on the earth, and His heart was deeply pained. 7 So ADONAI said, "I will wipe out humankind, whom I have created, from the face of the ground, from humankind to livestock, crawling things and the flying creatures of the sky, because I regret that I made them." (Gen 6:5-7 TLV)

and: Grk. de, conj. whoever: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. anyhow: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. The use of the particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions (HELPS). The particle is often not translated. The use of the particle in this context could signify "in spite of the prohibition." should murder: Grk. phoneuō, aor. subj. The subjunctive mood of the verb denotes mild contingency or probability; it looks toward what is conceivable or potential. Yeshua introduces a hypothetical situation.

will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 3 above. The future tense is used here to predict an event which is expected to occur in future time with the force of completed action. liable: Grk. enochos, adj., may mean (1) held in or constrained, subject to; or (2) required to give an account, with focus on legal procedure; held liable, held accountable for. The second meaning applies here. to judgment: Grk. ho krisis (derived from krínō, "to separate, distinguish, judge") is used primarily to mean scrutiny of conduct, either evaluation or procedure, mostly in a legal sense; judgment. The noun is also used of a local court responsible for administration of justice; of saving help; and of a responsible or right decision.

The word krisis refers to the overall administration of justice, or jurisprudence, from which may come a positive verdict that vindicates the innocent, or more commonly, a negative verdict that condemns a breach of Torah and its perpetrator. In the LXX krisis translates primarily Heb. mishpat (SH-4941), judgment (e.g., Gen 18:19, 25; Ex 15:25; Lev 19:15; Num 35:12; Deut 1:17), which most often refers to the act of deciding a case, the decision itself, or the execution of the judgment, and in doing so providing justice (Heb. tzedaqah) to victims. See my article Biblical Justice for the principles that God intended to guide jurisprudence.

This saying of the expected response to the commission of murder alludes to the requirement of "life for life" as determined by competent judicial authority. After the global deluge God declared that mankind should execute murderers.

"Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man." (Gen 9:5-6)

The standard set forth in the Noahic covenant was repeated in the covenant God made with Israel: "He who strikes a man so that he dies surely shall be put to death" (Ex 21:12 BHIB). The New Covenant did not cancel this penalty since its very purpose was to enable obedience of God's commandments (cf. Jer 31:31-33; Matt 22:7; 23:34-36; Rom 13:1-4; 1Tim 1:9). Regardless of what social liberals may believe God requires the death penalty for murder. See my article Biblical Basis for the Death Penalty.

The great majority of versions translate the noun krisis as "judgment," although some have "court" (AMP, GW, NOG, NASB, WE). There is a specific word for "court" (Grk. kritērion), which is not used here. Yeshua intended that krisis be taken in the sense of the punishment prescribed for murder from the time of the ancients, not to a specific contemporary court that would hand down that sentence. He could also have referred to the judgment of God that denies eternal life to murderers (cf. 1Jn 3:15; Rev 21:8). The salvation of a murderer is not impossible, but can only happen from miraculous grace and genuine repentance (cf. Act 26:10; 1Tim 1:12-16).

22― "Moreover I tell you that everyone being angry with his brother will be subject to judgment; and whoever anyhow should say to his brother, 'Raka,' will be subject to the assembly; and whoever anyhow should say, 'Fool,' will be liable to the hell of fire.

The flow of the instruction in this verse depicts three levels of accountability for what are essentially tortious acts in contrast to the criminal act mentioned in the previous verse. A tort is a civil wrong, not including a breach of contract, that results in injury to another's person, property, reputation, or the like, and for which the injured party is entitled to compensation. Yeshua mentions three torts here any of which could be an instigating factor for murder and he decrees the proportionate accountability for each level of tort.

Yeshua will later repeat this pattern in his instruction of confronting sinful conduct by an individual, a panel of witnesses and then the congregation (Matt 18:15-19). Here Yeshua may seem to imitate the Sages by creating a fence around the commandment prohibiting murder. To the Pharisees the idea of a fence meant to define rules and restrictions that would prevent breaking Torah commandments, as it says in the Mishnah:

"Moses received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, and Joshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets; and the Prophets handed it down to the Men of the Great Synagogue. The latter used to say three things: be patient in the administration of justice, rear many disciples, and make a fence round the Torah." (Avot 1:1)

Actually Yeshua does not create a rule but unpacks the commandment given to the ancients to reveal its implications. There are more ways to "murder" someone than just killing the body. The three levels of accountability in this verse, employing the Greek terms krisis, sunedrion and geenna, have been variously interpreted, but there is a marked escalation in the consequences for the sinful behavior.

Some commentators interpret the first two levels of accountability in accordance with the judicial system in first century Judah (Sanh. 1:1). See my article Jewish Jurisprudence for a detailed description of the Jewish court system. This interpretative approach is not without its problems since Talmudic terms for the different courts used throughout the Tractate Sanhedrin are never used in the apostolic narratives.

Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 above. Some Christian commentators interpret the conjunction de to represent a contrast, "but" or "on the contrary," as if Yeshua were rebutting the premise of the previous verse in particular and renouncing and replacing Torah in general. In reality the instruction of Yeshua in this verse extends the meaning of the commandment given to the ancients. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. The first person pronoun is used for emphasis and a contrast to contemporary Jewish teachers.

tell: Grk. legō, pres. See verses 2 and 18 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun refers to the disciples of Yeshua. Since Yeshua is ADONAI (John 8:58) he is the one who gave the commandments to the ancients in the first place and possesses the authority to interpret his own commandments. As noted by Lightfoot, the clause "Moreover I tell you," which introduces specific ethical pronouncements, fulfills the promise of Isaiah 2:3, "And He [ADONAI] will teach us His ways" (BR).

Level One Accountability

that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. The conjunction introduces a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb "I say." everyone: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 11 above. being angry with: Grk. ho orgizō (from orgē, "anger, wrath"), pres. mid. part., be provoked to anger or be angry. As depicted by the present participle the orgē is long-lived anger, an anger that has been nursed, an anger of brooding over an offense and not allowed to die, properly called resentment. In the LXX orgizō translates Heb. charah (SH-2734), to burn or be kindled with anger, first in Genesis 31:36; Heb. qatsaph (SH-7107), to be angry, first in Genesis 40:1; and Heb. ragaz (SH-7264), to be agitated, be excited, perturbed, first in Genesis 45:24.

his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. brother: Grk. ho adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos translates Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a near blood relative (Gen 13:8), a member of the same tribe (Num 16:10) or a fellow descendent of Jacob (Ex 2:11; 4:18). Lightfoot notes that in Jewish culture a proselyte was not regarded as a "brother," but was treated as a "neighbor" since he shared the same religion and worship.

Anger can be an expression of hatred, which is clearly prohibited in the Torah, "You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart" (Lev 19:17; cf. Deut 19:11). In the Besekh all anger is condemned and disciples are admonished to get rid of anger (Gal 5:20; Eph 4:26, 31; 6:4; Col 3:8; Jas 1:19-20). Yeshua is speaking of excessive anger, beyond irritation or frustration. The problem with irritations, though, that if allowed to continue will turn into anger and bring condemnation. Yeshua made it clear that holding on to anger against a brother is unacceptable to God. The Talmud has an apt saying, "He who gives vent to his anger destroys his house" (Sanh. 102b).

Rashi, the Medieval Jewish commentator offers this pertinent comment on Deuteronomy 19:11:

"But if a man hates his fellow [and lies in wait for him…]: Through this man’s hatred of his fellow, he comes to "lie in wait for him." From here our Rabbis derived the maxim: If a man transgresses a minor commandment, he will ultimately transgress a major commandment. [Here,] since he transgressed the command: "You shall not hate your brother in your heart" (Lev. 19:17), he ultimately came to shed blood. This is why it says here, "But if a man hates his fellow," for it should have written only: "But if a man rises up and lies in wait for his fellow and strikes him mortally."

will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 3 above. The future tense is predictive. subject to: Grk. enochos, a legal term for accountability. See the previous verse. Here the term has the meaning "held in" or "subject to." judgment: Grk. ho krisis. See the previous verse. The great majority of versions translate the noun as "(the) judgment" without qualification. Yet some versions treat the phrase enochos tē krisei as referring to a judicial venue, such as "guilty before the court" (NASB) or "brought to trial" (GNB). However, the emotion of resentment was not an offense that could be brought before a human court. Only the behavior resulting from anger and prohibited by Torah could be prosecuted.

Considering the root meanings of enochos and krisis Yeshua could mean "subject to scrutiny" or "held in contempt" and allude to a social evaluation of the negative attitude. Resentment will not gain approval from fellow disciples or the congregation. Yeshua's declaration is counter to the modern belief that anger is good and should be expressed. The modern practice of allowing the venting of anger in conciliation procedures has failed to produce settlements between disputing parties and tends to exacerbate adversarial relationships. Disciples of Yeshua are obliged to bear with degrading insults (verse 11 above; 1Cor 4:12; 2Cor 12:10), but should never engage in verbal abuse of others (1Pet 2:23; 3:9).

Textual Note

Some versions (BRG, EHV, ISV, KJV, MEV, NKJV, RGT, WE, WEB, YLT) insert the phrase "without a cause" (Grk eikē), or words to that effect, after "his brother." Although the Greek term occurs in early church fathers from the second to fourth centuries (Tatian, Irenaeus, Origen, Cyprian and Eusebius), it is much more likely that the word was added in order to soften the rigor of the precept, than omitted as unnecessary (Metzger 11).

The term is not present in the earliest MSS. The impact of the added text might result in justification of anger. "The other man's anger is sheer bad temper, but mine is righteous indignation." Jonah declared, "I have good reason to be angry" (Jon 4:9), but God did not agree. Yeshua's words in the original form of the text make no distinction between righteous and unrighteous anger. Lingering anger toward a brother is an offense to God and must be removed. See my article Overcoming Resentment.

Level Two Accountability

and: Grk. de, conj. Yeshua then leaves the matter of anger and proceeds to address two reprehensible actions that are the equivalent of shaming a person. whoever: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. anyhow: Grk. an. See the previous verse. Bible versions do not translate the particle, but it is important to understanding the instruction. should say: Grk. legō, aor. subj. The subjunctive presents a hypothetical situation with an implied warning. to his: Grk. autos. brother: Grk. ho adelphos. The noun points to a fellow Israelite, but the principle has a broader application. Yeshua now depicts resentment being verbally expressed.

Raca: Grk. rhaka, voc., "empty," most likely meaning empty in the head (BAG). The vocative case denotes actual speaking to another person. The noun does not occur in the LXX and occurs only here in the Besekh. Many versions present the noun literally as "raca," but a few versions interpret the terms with "good-for-nothing" (CJB, GNB, NASB, OJB). MW has "brainless." Lexicons say that rhaka is from an Aramaic word (rôq) meaning "empty-headed. The Aramaic term expressed contempt for a man's head, viewing him as stupid or without sense (HELPS).

Delitzsch translates the Greek term with Heb. reqah (resh-qof-aleph), which occurs in Talmudic works and means "empty" (Jastrow 1477). The term as presented is obviously an epithet uttered in scorn of a person's intellectual powers. While Yeshua periodically engaged in name-calling (Matt 23:15-16), he always used terms relative to character and spiritual condition. Yeshua looked at the heart, not physical attributes. Calling someone "Raca" is like mocking a child with autism or Down Syndrome. Demeaning people via social media is a major problem in modern times, sometimes with horrific consequences.

In Hebrew culture the values of honor and shame governed much of life. Honor meant a claim to worth that is acknowledged before the family and community. To "have honor" is to have publicly acknowledged worth. It is a group-given value, not just self-respect. One's self-respect could be high, but honor low. On the other hand shame is a claim to worth that is publicly denied or denied before others. To "be shamed" means to be denied or diminished in honor, the inevitable result of demeaning slurs.

"Verbal wrong is more heinous than monetary wrong…the one affects his [the victim's] person, the other [only] his money. … He who publicly shames his neighbor is as though he shed blood." (Baba Metzia 58b)

"On one occasion Rabbi Eleazer son of Rabbi Simeon was coming from Migdal Gedor, from the house of his teacher. He was riding leisurely on his donkey by the riverside and was feeling happy and elated because he had studied much Torah. There he chanced to meet an exceedingly ugly man who greeted him. "Peace be upon you, rabbi." He, however, did not return his greeting but instead said to him, "Raca, how ugly you are! Is everyone in your town as ugly as you are?" The man replied, "I do not know, but go and tell the craftsman who made me, 'How ugly is the vessel which you have made.'" When R. Eleazer realized that he had sinned he dismounted from the donkey and prostrated himself before the man and said to him, "I submit myself to you, forgive me!" (Ta'anith 20a-b)

will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. subject to: Grk. enochos. Liability could not result from name-calling in private without witnesses, but public shaming could provide the grounds for accountability. the assembly: Grk. ho sunedrion (from sún, "with" and hedra, "a convening, sitting together"), a governing board or tribunal, and in the Besekh normally of an Israelite governing or judicial structure. In Greek culture sunedrion originally meant (1) the place where a council met, (2) then the body of councilors or (3) their actual meeting (DNTT 1:363).

Sunedrion occurs 22 times in the apostolic narratives and is used for a synagogue venue (Matt 10:17; Mark 13:9), an ad hoc gathering of officials (John 11:47), but primarily for a principal judicial body in Jerusalem (Matt 26:59; Mark 14:55; Acts 5:21, 27, 34, 41; 6:12, 15; 22:30). In the LXX sunedrion translates Heb. math (SH-4962), male, man, men (Ps 26:4 as a deliberative body); qahal (SH-6951), assembly, congregation (Prov 26:26); and sôd (SH-5475), council, counsel (Jer 15:17).

The term sunedrion also occurs several times in the LXX without Heb. equivalent in Proverbs (11:13; 15:22; 20:19; 22:10; 24:7; 27:22; 31:23) for those sitting in the gate for counsel or judgment. The usage of sunedrion in the LXX denotes small groups of elders who acted as counselors and judges. The Greek word came into general usage in 57-55 B.C. when the Romans divided the Land into five sunedria (Ant. XIV, 5:4).

In Talmudic Hebrew the Greek term was translated as sanhedrin (Jastrow 1005). There were in fact two sanhedrins, the Great Sanhedrin or the Court of Seventy-One and the Small Sanhedrin, Court of Twenty-Three, both of which met in Jerusalem. See my article Jewish Jurisprudence for a detailed description of the types of cases heard by these two courts. The great majority of versions translate the noun as "(the) council." Some versions have "Sanhedrin" (AMPC, CJB, DLNT, EHV, HCSB, MEV, NABRE, NJB, OJB) and the NASB has "supreme court," both of which are problematic, because the offense as described would not be heard by either of these sanhedrins.

Speaking thoughtlessly and shaming a person could have legal consequences (cf. Ex 21:17; 22:28; Lev 5:4; Deut 22:13-19), but tort cases as described here involving personal injury were handled by the lowest level court, a court of three. Given the meaning of sunedrion in the LXX, the term could apply to panels of seven judges that Josephus says were formed in smaller towns to handle cases (Ant. IV, 8:14). Yeshua might have been stating a simple fact of how the offense of publicly shaming someone would be handled (or perhaps should be handled) in the Jewish legal system. More likely is that Yeshua uses sunedrion here to mean a congregational tribunal to confront the offender as he will later instruct in Matthew 18:16-17.

Level Three Accountability

and: Grk. de. whoever: Grk. hos. anyhow: Grk. an. should say: Grk. legō, aor. subj. Fool: Grk. moros, voc., dull, stupid or foolish. In the LXX moros translates four different Hebrew words, primarily Heb. nabal (SH-5036), foolish, senseless (Deut 32:6; Isa 32:5) and its derivative nebalah (SH-3039), foolishness (Isa 32:6; 2t); but also kesil (SH-3684), stupid fellow, dullard, fool (Ps 94:8); evili (SH-196), foolish (Isa 9:11); and sakal (SH-5530), a fool (Jer 5:21). Most often moros is found in Sirach (4:27 + 37t), in which the Hebrew original is not always obvious.

It may be hard to understand how calling someone foolish could be worse than "empty-headed," and result in a far more serious accountability. The seriousness of the charge is based on the fact that foolishness in Scripture is not a lack of knowledge but rebellion against God (DNTT 3:1025). The character assessment was certainly manifested by the Bible character Nabal (1Sam 25:25). Yeshua even used this term to describe religious hypocrites (Matt 23:17).

Given the consequence that follows Yeshua was referring to a false accusation, which merited the same punishment under Torah as the accuser was trying to accomplish (Ex 23:7; Deut 19:16-21). Yeshua will warn his disciples later in this sermon:

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." (Matt 7:1-2)

If you set yourself up as judge and jury to convict someone of being a rebel against God because they don't believe or act in accordance with your belief system or traditions instead of according to Torah, then you're testing God. This interpretation would certainly fit the Pharisees who regarded anyone that didn't conform to all the traditions as a rebel and not worthy of God's favor.

Consider the warning of Jacob ("James"):

"Do not speak against one another, brothers. The one speaking against a brother, or judging his brother, speaks against Torah, and judges Torah: and if you judge Torah, you are not a doer of Torah, but a judge. 12 The One is lawgiver and judge, the one able to save and to destroy: but who are you, the one judging your neighbor?" (Jas 4:11-12 BR)

will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. liable: Grk. enochos. Here the accountability is to the highest venue, that of heaven. to: Grk. eis, prep. the hell: Grk. ho geenna, refers to a place of judgment after death, commonly translated as "hell." Gehenna does not occur in the LXX or other early Jewish literature in Greek (DNTT 2:208), but is a Grecized form of Heb. Gey ben Hinnom, the valley of the son of Hinnom, to the south of Jerusalem (Josh 15:8; 18:16; Neh 11:30; 2Chr 28:3; Jer 7:32) (BAG). Hell is a real place, a physical reality. It is not just a metaphor for a state of separation from God.

of fire: Grk. ho pur, fire, as a physical state of burning, but there are also fig. uses. In the LXX pur occurs some 490 times and primarily translates Heb. esh (SH-784), fire, first in Genesis 15:17 (DNTT 1:654). In the Tanakh "fire" may be a conflagration whether natural or man-made, a fire used for cooking food, a fire used for illumination, a supernatural fire attending revelations of God, or fig. of ADONAI's wrath. The "hell of fire" could certainly reflect the Hebrew idiom "fire of my wrath" (Ezek 21:31; 22:21, 31).

The place called "Hell" is fueled with an unquenchable fire, fire that cannot be put out (cf. 2Kgs 22:17; Isa 1:31; 34:10; 66:24; Jer 4:4; 7:20; 21:12; Matt 18:8; 25:41; Mark 9:43). In the first century the valley of Hinnom served as a refuse dump. Rubbish fires were always burning there; hence its use as a metaphor for hell. The chief characteristic of hell is its burning. The fire of hell will not degrade in intensity over the course of eternity and it cannot be extinguished by any force other than God's power.

Hell should be associated with the lake of fire in Revelation 19:20, which is the place of final punishment after the white throne judgment (Rev 20:14-15). The term "lake" (Grk. limnē) might sound like a contradiction, but the sun could be considered a lake of fire. The lake of fire may be located in outer space across the galaxy since Hell is referred to as the "outer darkness" (cf. Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Jude 13). Hell is also a place of "wailing and gnashing" (or grinding) of teeth (Matt 13:40-42; 22:13). The reference to wailing means that the human spirit is not destroyed but instead mourns with the deepest regret. The metaphor of "gnashing teeth" speaks of suffering unimaginable torment.

Yeshua spoke of the horror of Hell more than anyone else in Scripture and declared that it was originally prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41; 2Pet 2:4). Since the angels had to have been created on the first day (cf. Job 2:1; 38:7; John 8:44; 1Jn 3:8), Yeshua's pronouncement on the original purpose of Gehenna implies agreement with rabbinic teaching that Gehenna was one of seven things created before the world (Nedarim 39b; cf. Isa 30:33, where the Heb. Topheth is regarded as a synonym for Gehenna).

The KJV uses "hell" over 30 times in the Tanakh, but the word being translated is sheol, the underworld that receives all the dead (BDB 982). In the Tanakh little is known of sheol, except that it is the destination of all men after death (Gen 27:35) and a place of darkness devoid of joy (Job 17:13; Ps 6:5). The LXX translates sheol with hadēs, transliterated in English as Hades. According to the Pharisees and the Essenes reward and punishment would begin after death and the souls of the righteous would enter heavenly blessedness, while the souls of the ungodly are punished in Hades (Josephus, Wars, II, 8:11, 14). Thus Hades became a place where the unredeemed dead are kept in anticipation of the final judgment.

Hell should not be confused with Hades. As illustrated in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man Hades is a destination immediately upon death (Luke 16:22-26). Sheol/hadēs is always described as being down, thus it is in a subterranean region of the earth (cf. Deut 32:22; Ezek 26:20; Matt 11:23; 12:40; Luke 10:15; Eph 4:9). Since the Bible does not admit to any belief in Purgatory, Hades is not a temporary abode where one's guilt is purged in order to qualify for the blessing of heaven.

Given the Jewish belief in consequences after death Yeshua gives a serious warning, in which he reflects rabbinic sentiment recorded in the Talmud.

"R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: He who loses his temper is exposed to all the torments of Gehenna, for it is written, Therefore remove anger from thy heart,' thus wilt thou put away evil from thy flesh [Eccl 11:10]. Now 'evil' can only mean Gehenna, as it is written, The Lord hath made all things for himself yea, even the wicked for the day of evil [Prov 16:4]." (Nedarim 22a).

"For R. Hanina said: All descend into Gehenna, excepting three. All who descend into Gehenna [subsequently] reascend, excepting three, who descend but do not reascend, viz., He who commits adultery with a married woman, publicly shames his neighbor, or fastens an evil epithet [nickname] upon his neighbor. … He who publicly puts his neighbor to shame has no portion in the world to come." (Baba Metzia 58b)

Yeshua's own warning is more to the point.

"But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment" (Matt 12:36; cf. John 12:48; 2Th 1:5-7).

Yeshua illustrates a progression of punishment based on an ascending scale of seriousness of the crime. Evidently to insult one's brother is more serious than to bear resentment against him. Anger can be stopped and resentment removed, but cruel words cannot be withdrawn and the other person may retaliate with a fatal blow. Where would you be then? Even breaking a light commandment may result in eternal punishment.

23― "Therefore if you should bring your sacrifice to the altar, and there you should remember that your brother has something against you,

Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 19 above. The conjunction continues the theme begun in verse 21 and introduces a conflict resolution option. if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 19 above. you should bring: Grk. prospherō, aor. subj., to cause movement of something or someone to a person or place, bring, bring to, present, here of a religious offering or presentation. The verb is singular. Important to this context is that the verb means to carry or convey something, not to slaughter something.

The verb occurs first in the LXX without Hebrew equivalent in relation to God's instruction to Cain concerning the presenting of the right kind of sacrificial offering (Gen 4:7). Then prospherō is used to translate Heb. nagash (SH-5066), to draw near or approach, first in Gen 27:25 where it refers to Jacob bringing prepared venison to Isaac. Relevant to Yeshua's instruction prospherō translates Heb. bo (SH-935), to come, go or bring, used first of Joseph's brothers bringing a gift to placate the ruler of Egypt (Gen 43:26). The verb prospherō is also used in many passages with instruction on bringing of offerings to the temple (Ex 29:3; 32:6; 36:3; Lev 1:3; 2:8; 3:9; 10:15).

your: Grk. su, second person pronoun. sacrifice: Grk. ho dōron, a gift in general or a sacrificial donation or offering. This noun is used of the gifts the Magi presented to the baby Yeshua (Matt 2:11), miscellaneous gifts donated to the Temple treasury (Matt 15:5; Mark 7:11; Luke 21:4) and the prescribed sacrifices offered at the Temple (Heb 5:1; 8:3). The great majority of versions translate dōron here as "gift" but the mention of the altar makes that translation misleading and inaccurate. A few versions have "offering" (AMP, MSG, NASB, NJB, TLV) or "sacrifice" (TLB, OJB).

In the LXX dōron translates several Hebrew words with a range of meaning (1) Heb. minchah (SH-4503), gift, tribute, offering, Gen 4:4; 32:13; Jdg 3:15; (2) Heb. migdanah (SH-4030), a present such as men give to one another, Gen 24:53; (3) Heb. zebed (SH-2065), a gift from God, Gen 30:20; (4) Heb. qorban (SH-7133), offering, oblation, often with the Grk. verb prospherō;, Lev 1:2; 2:1; and (5) Heb. shay (SH-7862), gift brought to God in homage, Ps 68:29; Isa 18:7 (DNTT 2:41). Dōron rarely appears in late Jewish literature.

Delitzsch translates dōron here with Heb. qorban. In the Torah qorban is the general term for all kinds of offerings: (1) a clean animal without defect; (2) vegetable, grain or bread; and (3) miscellaneous articles of gold, silver, precious stones, cloth, currency, etc. (cf. Mark 7:11) (BDB 898). The presence of the word "altar" that follows indicates the offering is an animal, of which there were four types.

Burnt Offering. Heb. olah; Grk. olokautōma, a sacrifice consumed by fire. This offering was a voluntary act of worship for atonement of unintentional sin in general; or an expression of devotion, commitment and complete surrender to God. The offering had to be a bull, male sheep or goat or male bird. (Lev 1)

Peace Offering. Heb. zebach; Grk. sōterion, a sacrifice of deliverance. This offering was a voluntary act of worship to express thanksgiving and fellowship. The offering could be any animal from herd or flock. Unlike most sacrificial offerings, a peace or fellowship offering was eaten in part by the worshipper and his family, as if God had invited them to dinner at his table and his family. The peace offering is a celebration of shalom between all the participants. (Lev 3)

Sin Offering. Heb. chatta'ah; Grk. hamartia. This offering was mandatory and provided atonement for specific unintentional sin, and involved confession of sin, forgiveness of sin and cleansing from defilement. The animal was specified as a young bull for the high priest and congregation, male goat for a leader, female goat or lamb for a common person, and a dove or pigeon for the poor (Lev 4:1-5:13)

Guilt Offering. Heb. asham; Grk. plēmmeleias, trespass offering (derived from Grk plēktēs, a striker, bully) for an offense or guilt. This offering was mandatory for unintentional sin against God's holy things, or offenses against persons. The animal had to be a ram or lamb. For sins related to money restitution had to be accomplished, including nonpayment of tithe, with an added 20% fine. (Lev 5:15-6:7; 7:1-6)

to: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon." With the noun following in the accusative case, the preposition emphasizes motion or direction to a place (DM 106), so a better translation would be 'to,' or 'up to," which is found in several versions. the altar: Grk. ho thusiastērion, an altar designed for the purpose of worship. The term occurs in the Besekh in reference to the altar of burnt offering (Matt 23:35; Luke 11:51; 1Cor 9:13; 10:18) and the altar of incense (Luke 1:11) in the Jerusalem temple. The term is also used of ancient altars erected by the patriarchs (Rom 11:3; Jas 2:21) and the altar of incense in heaven (Rev 8:3, 5; 9:13).

In the LXX thusiastērion translates Heb. mizbeach (SH-4196), an altar, first in Genesis 8:20 (DNTT 3:418). From the earliest times this term refers primarily to an altar devoted to YHVH (Gen 8:20; 12:7, 8; 13:4, 18; 22:9; 26:25; 33:20; 35:1, 3, 7). The term was later used for altars in the Tabernacle: the bronze altar of burnt offering (Ex 27:1-8; 38:1-7; Lev 4:7) and the golden altar of incense (Ex 30:1-10; 37:25-28). The altar of burnt offering was located in the court of the priests. In the Tanakh the term "altar" is also used fig. of the Tabernacle or Temple as the central place of worship (Ps 26:6; 43:4).

Some Bible versions give the impression that the worshipper is sacrificing the animal on the altar, but that is not what happened. Only a priest could place a sacrificial animal or portions of an animal on the bronze altar (Lev 1:5, 8). Stern suggests Yom Kippur as the most likely time for this scenario (28), because of the statement in the Mishnah: "For transgressions as between man and his fellow the Day of Atonement does not procure any atonement, until he has pacified his fellow" (Yoma 8:6). However, Yeshua is not specific. Voluntary sacrificial offerings by individual Israelites occurred at all the pilgrim festivals (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot) and the principle stated by Yeshua would also apply on all occasions.

For an animal offering this is the procedure. The pilgrim would enter through the gates on the north side of the temple (Lev 1:11). Inside the court of the priests there was a separate area designed for killing the animal. The pilgrim bringing the animal would actually perform the slaughter under the supervision of a priest (Lev 1:2-5, 10-11). Then the priest would drain blood into a bowl and the bowl would be passed up a long line of priests until it reached the bronze altar where it was poured at the base (Lev 1:5).

The pilgrim would then skin the animal and cut it in pieces (Lev 1:6). Priests would then carry portions or the entire animal to the bronze altar for burning (Lev 1:7-9). The amount of the animal roasted depended on its category of offering. For a complete explanation of the sacrifices see Edersheim Chap. 5 and Chap. 6.

To the Christian mind it seems incongruous for Yeshua to speak of a sacrificial offering when his own death would at the very least eliminate the need for the burnt offering, a sin offering or a guilt offering (Rom 8:3; Eph 5:2; Heb 10:18). However, his anticipated atoning sacrifice did not immediately eliminate the importance of offerings to God. Yeshua directed the leper he healed to present the prescribed offering to the priest (Matt 8:4), which would have included a guilt offering, sin offering and burnt offering (Lev 14:10-13).

Yeshua chided the Pharisees over how offerings were made, but not the act of giving (Matt 23:19). Yeshua's apostles would later bring offerings to the Temple (cf. Acts 21:20, 26; 24:27; 1Pet 2:5). The destruction of the temple in AD 70 ended sacrifices there, but did not end divine expectation for offerings from His people.

and there: Grk. kakei, conj., a compound of kai, 'and,' and ekei, 'in that place.' you should remember: Grk. mimnēskomai, aor. pass. subj., to call something to mind that one has noted or thought about in the past; recollect, remember. In the LXX mimnēskomai generally translates Heb. zakar (SH-2142) with the same meaning (DNTT 3:232). In the Tanakh Israelites were often called to remember, sometimes serving as a call for Israel to retain the knowledge of their history and past deliverances, sometimes to recall God's nature, power and spiritual redemption and sometimes to obey the commandments and keep traditions instructed by the Lord.

that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. your: Grk. su. brother: Grk. ho adelphos. See the previous verse. The term here would refer to a fellow Israelite, someone who is part of the covenant community. has: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application; here referring to something existing in relation to the person bringing the gift. The Hebrew has no special word for echō and in the LXX echō translates over 50 different Hebrew expressions (DNTT 1:636).

something: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun used to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. The neuter form would mean 'something' or 'anything.' against: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down" (DM 107), is generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) opposition, 'against;' or (3) conformity, 'according to.' The second usage is intended here. you: Grk. su. The phrase indicates that in the eyes of the brother the worshipper has committed some offense. As a word picture it implies the brother looks down on the worshipper with judgment.

For the context, the most likely sacrifice the pilgrim would be making is a guilt offering and the "something" could be any of those offenses listed in Leviticus 6:2-5. In addition, no guilt offering could be presented until restitution had been paid (Baba Kama 9:7). Regardless of the perceived or actual offence the matter must be handled according to the rule Yeshua lays down. Any offering or gift presented to God should cause reflection on relationships. If the one making the offering becomes mindful of an unresolved offense, he is duty bound to remedy that situation before completing his offering. See the following Additional Note.

Additional Note: Occasions of Sacrifice

The "remembering" may be likened to the modern Jewish greeting, mah shalomkah - "how is your shalom?" (Tverberg 13). It's as if in presenting his offering the worshipper hears God whisper, "mah shalomkah? Isn't there someone you need to make peace with?" But, you say, what about now? There is no temple and there are no sacrifices to be offered. How would this instruction apply to us today? In Scripture there are several figurative uses of "sacrifice" that fit the modern era. Five kinds of sacrifice may be found in the writings of Paul and one in Peter.

First, in Romans 12:1 Paul exhorts disciples to present themselves as living sacrifices. (See my commentary there.) Being a living sacrifice means dying to selfish desires in the service of our Master. However, consecration to God cannot be complete if there is an unconfessed wrong against someone else.

Second, in Hebrews 13:15 Paul describes the praise of worship as a sacrificial offering (cf. Ps 27:6). David said, "who can approach the hill of ADONAI. He who has clean hands" (Ps 24:3-4). An unwillingness to make peace would make one's praise a discordant sound in the ears of the God of peace.

Third, in Hebrews 13:16 Paul also describes doing good to others and sharing as sacrifices. Yeshua considered love of God and neighbor greater than all burnt offerings (Mark 12:33). However, you can't fix a wrong by doing something good for God or someone else. Love for a neighbor requires admitting fault and seeking to mend the broken relationship.

Fourth, in Philippians 4:18 Paul describes financial support of ministry as a sacrifice. Should we expect God to return blessing for tithes and offerings as promised in Malachi if at the same time no effort is made to give a wounded brother the gift of an apology?

Fifth, the Lord's Supper, S'udat Adonai, which is derived from Passover, is a form of peace offering. In Paul's instructions in 1Corinthians 11, he commanded disciples to examine themselves since the congregation was full of unreconciled relationships. The elements of this meal symbolize Yeshua's sacrifice as a sin offering. How can one participate in a meal of redemption and shalom with God while having an unconfessed wrong against another person?

Lastly, intercession is a sacrificial offering to God (cf. Ex 8:28-29; Ezra 6:10; Prov 15:8; Heb 7:23-25). Disciples have a priestly ministry before God to offer up spiritual sacrifices (1Pet 2:5). The house of sacrifice was also a house of prayer (Isa 56:7; Matt 21:13). But, if you fail to fix a wrong, you may hinder your own prayers, as Peter warns husbands concerning treatment of their wives (1Pet 3:7).

Each of these occasions: consecration, praise, sharing, giving, the Lord's Supper and intercession are appropriate times for examining self and considering the nature of our relationships with others. If we recall that we have not made something right with another person then we must seek reconciliation. Going to the offended person and admitting wrong requires a sacrifice of one's pride but such humility will gain the favor of God. Let us be the kind of disciples who are eager to make peace.

24― leave your sacrifice there before the altar and go away; first be reconciled to your brother, and then having come present your sacrifice.

leave: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. imp., has a range of meaning, (1) release from one's presence; send away, divorce, give up; (2) release from an obligation; cancel, forgive; (3) let remain behind; leave, leave behind, give up, abandon; (4) leave standing or lying; and (5) permissive sense of let, let go, allow or tolerate. The third or fourth meanings would apply here. your: Grk. su, second person pronoun. sacrifice: Grk. ho dōron. See the previous verse. The intention is to leave before the animal is killed. Since the offering is to be completed later then the animal would be turned over to a friend or relative until the worshipper could return.

there: Grk. ekei, adv., 'in that place,' as opposed to here or another place. before: Grk. emprosthen, prep. that expresses position that is in front or ahead; before, in front of. the altar: Grk. ho thusiastērion. See the previous verse. and: Grk. kai, conj. go away: Grk. hupagō, pres. imp., to proceed from a position, with the focus on an objective destination; depart, go, go away. The present tense emphasizes beginning and continuing the action until accomplished. Yeshua commands, "Go from here to wherever you need to go to accomplish what I'm commanding you to do."

first: Grk. prōtos, adj., having to do with 'beforeness.' The term is used in two ways: (1) having primary position in a temporal sequence; first, earlier, earliest; and (2) standing out in significance or importance; first, most prominent, most important, first of all. The first meaning is intended here. be reconciled: Grk. diallassomai (from dia, "through," and allassō, "to alter, change or exchange"), aor. pass. imp., become reconciled, of exchanging enmity for amity and so be restored to normal relations.

Diallassomai occurs rarely in the LXX: Jdg 19:3 (for Heb. shuv, SH-7725, bring back, return); 1Sam 29:4 (for Heb. ratsah, SH-7521, to be pleased with, accept favorably), Job 12:20, 24 (for Heb. sur, SH-5493, to turn aside, remove), and without Heb. equivalent in Job 37:5 (DNTT 3:166). Delitzsch translates diallassomai with Heb. kaphar, which means to cover, to make atonement, be forgiven (Karni 80).

to your: Grk. su. brother: Grk. ho adelphos. See verse 22 above. Yeshua emphasizes that relationships with others are just as important as our relationship with God. Thus, when presenting offerings to God at one's congregation as described in the previous verse the disciple should consider whether there is any matter that needs correcting with a brother or sister. We should note that the command to go does not assure success. The worshipper can only put himself in a place where reconciliation is possible, but reconciliation will never occur unless someone goes.

Going to the offended brother and admitting wrong requires a sacrifice of one's pride and gaining forgiveness will cleanse the heart. While the Tanakh may not employ the terminology for reconciliation, there are nevertheless poignant reconciliation stories: Jacob with Esau (Gen 33), and Joseph with his brothers and father (Gen 43—50). There is the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15). It's interesting that when the prodigal returns home the father offers a bull as a peace offering. Of course, the greatest reconciliation story is that of the Father reaching out to a lost world to restore fellowship through the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua (Rom 5:10; Eph 2:14; Col 1:20).

and: Grk. kai. then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part., come or arrive, with implication of a position from which action or movement takes place. In other words, having returned to the Temple. present: Grk. prospherō, aor. subj. See the previous verse. your: Grk. su. sacrifice: Grk. ho dōron. Since the scenario began with the pilgrim about to bring an offering, he is expected to complete that religious duty.

25― "Be settling with your adversary quickly, while which you are with him on the way [to court], lest the accuser deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be cast into prison.

Parallel Passage: Luke 12:58.

At first glance it may seem as if Yeshua has gone on to a new subject, but it most likely relates to the setting of verses 23 and 24. Leviticus 6:1-7 lists situations parallel to the legal scenario here that required a guilt offering, including fiduciary liability (malfeasance as trustee), robbery, extortion, false testimony and failing to return lost property.

Be: Grk. eimi, pres. imp. See verse 3 above. The imperative form of the "to be" verb addresses both attitude and action. settling: Grk. eunoeō (from eu, "well" and noeō, "to think"), pres. part., be ready to reach agreement with, be well disposed toward, or lit. "be making friends." The translation of "make friends" in some versions may be stretching the meaning, since this verb refers to negotiating. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Yeshua uses the participle as an imperative.

DM says this usage is "a peculiarity of Koiné Greek, found in the New Testament and the papyri" (229). Scholars have long been puzzled over this particular usage of the participle in hortatory instructions concerning rules of social behavior within the community of faith and in families (especially in the apostolic letters). W.D. Davies says that non-biblical Jewish writings used the participle in exactly the same manner (130f.)

with your: Grk. su, second person pronoun. adversary: Grk. ho antidikos (from anti, "against, opposite or instead of;" and dikē, "right or justice"), accuser, adversary or opponent in a legal context. Thus, the plaintiff is seeking a legal remedy for the dispute. quickly: Grk. tachus, adj., exhibiting swiftness; speedily, quickly, without delay. The point is not to delay or procrastinate. How would the disciple who had offended another make peace and settle the dispute? Crimes against property required restitution and a 20% fine of the value. In Leviticus these penalties are self-inflicted. The repentant sinner brings them upon himself by confession, and with a view to divine forgiveness and forgiveness of the wronged party.

until: Grk. heōs, adv. of continuance; until. which: Grk. hotou, adv., the genitive form of hostis, a relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb; who, which. you are: Grk. eimi, pres., 2p-sing. with: Grk. meta, prep. used to mark association or accompaniment; with, amid, among. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. on: Grk en, prep. the way: Grk. ho hodos may refer to (1) a route for traveling; way, road, highway; or (2) the act of traveling; way, journey, trip. Yeshua paints a word picture of two Israelites traveling together to Jerusalem to attend the pilgrim feasts. This would be an opportune time to discuss differences and reach a settlement.

lest: Grk. mēpote, conj. expressing possibility and indicating a circumstance or attitude designed to counteract a consequence ordinarily undesirable; lest. the adversary: Grk. ho antidikos. deliver: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. subj., to convey from one position to another. The verb in general refers to subjecting a person to a custodial procedure, which could involve various stages and numerous parties in the judicial process, with delivery to an authority for penalty by someone filled with animus. Yeshua then summarizes the legal process that could result. The plaintiff is going to court to ask the judge to uphold his rights and give him justice because the defendant won't do it voluntarily.

you: Grk. su. to the judge: Grk. ho kritēs, judge or magistrate, an official office of one presiding over a court. and: Grk. kai, conj. the judge: Grk. ho kritēs. to the officer: Grk. ho hupēretēs, one who renders service and context-specific. The term is used here of an official at the service of the judge. and: Grk. kai. you be cast: Grk. ballō, fut. pass., a forceful action to throw, cast or hurl. into: Grk. eis, prep. prison: Grk. phulakē, a place for detaining a lawbreaker, not a prison for carrying out a specified period of detention.

Imprisonment as a punishment for crime is not known in the Torah and was not prescribed in contemporary Jewish law. Rather, the place of confinement was only to keep someone until disposition was made of his case (cf. Acts 4:3; 5:18). In the present scenario the confinement in prison might be likened to "debtor's prison" in that the offender would be kept confined until his family settled the matter with the adversary (cf. Matt 18:28-30).

26― "Truly I tell you, you will not come out of there until anyhow you have paid the last quadrans.

Parallel Passage: Luke 12:59.

Truly: Grk. amēn. See verse 18 above. I tell: Grk. legō, pres. See verses 2 and 18 above. you: Grk. su, sing. pronoun of the second person. Yeshua makes another authoritative declaration. you will not: Grk. ou mē, adv. See verse 14 and 17 above for these negative particles. The double negative presents the strongest possible denial. come out of: Grk. exerchomai, aor. subj., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. there: Grk. ekeithen, adv. thence, from there, from that place. until: Grk. heōs, conj. With the aorist subjunctive of the previous verb heōs leaves the matter doubtful when release from custody will take place (Thayer).

anyhow: Grk. an, disjunctive particle. See verse 18 above. Bible versions generally don't translate the particle. you have paid: Grk. apodidōmi (from apo, "from" and didōmi, "give"), aor. subj., with the basic idea of reciprocity the verb may mean (1) give back, return, or restore; or (2) give or render as due. The second meaning applies here. the last: Grk. ho eschatos, adj., coming at the end or after all others, here the latter; end, last. last or final. quadrans: Grk. kodrantēs, a quadrans, the smallest Roman copper coin in value, one-sixty-fourth of a denarius. Many versions translate the noun as "penny," the smallest value coin in U.S. currency. See a full description of Roman coins at UNRV.

The "last cent" could refer to restitution or a fine or both as punishment decreed by a judge. If the offender were smart he would take care of the restitution voluntarily rather than be forced to do so by a court. There were other crimes besides those listed in Leviticus 6 that required compensation in money, such as ravishing of an unbetrothed maiden (Deut 22:28-29) and manslaughter by an ox, if the owner was forewarned of its vicious disposition (Ex 21:29-32). It should be noted that punishment by a judge required testimony of at least two witnesses. The assumption in this scenario is that the adversary at law has the witnesses.

Adultery, Divorce and Remarriage, 5:27-32

27― "You have heard that it was spoken, 'You shall not commit adultery;'

Reference: Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18.

You have heard: Grk. akouō, aor., 2p-pl., the sensory act of hearing with the ears, metaphorically of paying attention, but also probably with the sense of comprehension or understanding. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). This phrase likely alludes to hearing the Scripture read in synagogue services (Luke 4:16; Acts 13:15; 15:21; 2Cor 3:15) or at the reading of the Torah during Sukkot every seven years (Deut 31:10-13).

that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. it was spoken: Grk. legō, aor. pass. See verses 2 and 21 above. The verb alludes to the fact that the commandments were originally oral from the mouth of God (Gen 9:8; 26:5; Ex 19:8; 20:22; 24:3; 34:32; cf. Matt 4:4) and then later written down by Moses (Ex 24:4; Deut 31:9). The clause could also imply "to the ancients" as in verse 21 above.

You shall not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 14 above. commit adultery: Grk. moicheuō, fut. The future tense here expresses a command, since a command necessarily involves futurity (DM 192). The wording of the command is derived from the seventh commandment (Ex 20:14; Deut 5:18) and conforms to the syntax of the LXX. This is one of the cardinal commandments that Yeshua insists to the rich young ruler is essential for experiencing eternal life (Matt 19:17-18).

Jacob the brother of Yeshua warned the early Jerusalem congregation that violating this commandment makes one a transgressor of God's Torah (Jas 2:11). Paul affirmed the continuing authority of this commandment along with the rest of the ten commandments to the Roman congregation (Rom 13:9). In the LXX moicheuō translates Heb. na'aph (SH-5003), to commit adultery (DNTT 2:582). In the literal sense na'aph always refers to the sexual congress of a man with the wife of another man (e.g., Lev 20:10; Job 24:15; Prov 6:32; Jer 5:7; 7:9; 23:14; 29:23; Hos 2:2; 4:2) (BDB 610).

The guilty man is called an adulterer and a guilty wife is called an adulteress (Lev 20:10; Ezek 16:38; 23:45; Rom 7:3). Everyone knew the seriousness of adultery since the Torah prescribed death for the offenders (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22-24) and any children born of an adulterous union were considered mamzer or illegitimate (cf. Deut 23:2; Isa 57:3). In addition, God announced through the prophets Hosea (4:13-14), Isaiah (57:3), Jeremiah (3:8; 9:1), and Ezekiel (16:22; 23:37) that idolatrous worship and unfaithfulness to the covenant constituted adultery. Similarly, Jacob the apostle likened friendship with the world as adultery (Jas 4:1).

While Yeshua is quoting the seventh commandment he probably implies the authority of antiquity as in the previous discussion of murder. As with murder, adultery was an offense long before Moses. In Scripture the earliest mention of adultery is by Job (Job 24:15; 31:9-12) who comments on the societal conditions of his day and asserts his innocence of the crime.

When Abraham traveled into Egypt he knew the covetousness of Pharaoh and in an attempt to protect himself and Sarah he decided to say that Sarah was his sister (Gen 12:13), which she was (Gen 20:12). Nevertheless Pharaoh took Sarah against her will and without discussing the matter with Abraham. Pharaoh tried to justify his wickedness by giving gifts to Abraham. God, then, came to Sarah's rescue and struck Pharaoh's household with plagues (Gen 12:17). Pharaoh then revealed his knowledge that adultery as wrong when he rationalized his actions by blaming Abraham, "Why didn’t you tell me that she is your wife?" (Gen 12:18 TLV).

This scenario was repeated when Abraham went into Gerar, the land of the Philistines (Gen 20:1). Abraham was still identifying Sarah as his sister in public. Abimelech (a standard name for Philistine kings, like the Pharaoh of Egypt), took Sarah against her will intending to make her a wife. God intervened again and spoke harshly to the king in a dream, threatening his life and informing him that Sarah was married (Gen 20:3). In addition God struck the women of Abimelech's household with barrenness (Gen 20:17). Abimelech, like Pharaoh, tried to rationalize his covetous actions and accused Abraham of bringing sin upon him (Gen 20:9). At the end Abraham acted as a priest to intercede for the healing of the Philistine women.

These powerful men never looked into the mirror of God's righteousness to realize they had no right to take whatever they saw. We should note that God never criticized Abraham and no blame can be attached to him for the actions of Pharaoh and Abimelech. Abraham did the best he could in the circumstances. The adulterous actions of Pharaoh and Abimelech attacked God's creation design for marriage, a covenantal relationship of loyalty and security. See my web article Marriage By Design.

28― moreover I tell you that everyone, the one looking upon a woman to covet her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 and verse 22 above. Almost all versions translate the conjunction with "but," which essentially means "on the contrary," as if Yeshua were rebutting the seventh commandment. In reality the conjunction introduces an inference from the commandment. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. See verse 11 above. Yeshua uses the pronoun to emphasize himself as the preeminent, even divine, authority. tell: Grk. legō, pres. See verses 2 and 18 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. Yeshua asserts his authority in contrast to historic teaching.

that: Grk. hoti, conj. everyone: Grk. pas, adj. that conveys the idea of comprehensiveness as qualified by the context and without statistical emphasis; each, every (one/thing/body), every kind/sort (of). "Everyone" would mean Gentiles as well as Jews, but Yeshua particularly had men in mind. Indeed all the commands in the Torah prohibiting certain intimate relations are directed to men, not to women.

the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. looking upon: Grk. blepō, pres. part., may mean (1) possess the capacity to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) be looking in a certain direction; or (4) to have inward or mental sight. The participle gives the verb a substantive meaning, "one who is looking," which indicates intentionality about the looking. The verb indicates the first step toward the act of sin.

a woman: Grk. gunē, an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē translates the Heb. ishshah ("woman"), the first use of which is to a married woman. Within this context concerning the subject of adultery the "woman" is betrothed or fully married and may belong to a neighbor, a relative or someone in the community. to: Grk. pros, prep., with the root meaning of "near, facing," properly marking motion towards a goal or destination; at, to, towards, with (HELPS). In a Hebraic sense the term can mean "face to face." The preposition is used here to express purpose (Thayer), which is made explicit in the CJB, "with the purpose of," and the NTE, "in order to."

covet: Grk. epithumeō, aor. inf., to have a strong desire for something, but here an inordinate desire, lit. "to covet." The great majority of versions translate the verb as a noun "lust." The infinitive is a verbal noun, which means it has the voice and tense of a verb, but also the case relations of a noun. The infinitive may express purpose or result, here the former. The infinitive thus emphasizes the intention of the looking. The verb depicts more than a prurient fascination with physical appearance.

In the LXX epithumeō translates the Heb. verb chamad in the tenth commandment that prohibits covetousness (Ex 20:17). Chamad means to 'desire' or 'take pleasure in' and is used of normal desires (BDB 326). However, whenever desire develops into an inordinate, ungoverned or selfish desire to possess something to which the person is not entitled, then it's called covetousness. The NLV has the appropriate translation of "wanting."

her: fem. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Most versions, including most Messianic versions (CJB, Einspruch, HNV, OJB, TLV), translate the verb with "lust" or "lustfully," as if it were an adjective or adverb. Gruber offers a good literal translation with "everyone who gazes at a woman to desire her" (MW). Cassirer makes Yeshua's intention clear: "anyone who looks at a woman in such a way that desire for her is aroused in him" (GNC). Most versions have "everyone who looks on a woman with lust for her," but the issue is more than just sex.

This "coveting" strikes at the foundation of God's creation design for marriage, a covenantal relationship of loyalty and security. We must point out that the problem is not in the looking. Yeshua is not criticizing the simple act of noticing a woman, admiring a woman's qualities or having normal romantic desire. After all, courtship and marriage begin with looking. What Yeshua warns against is fixation with one specific person that would be an unlawful by Torah commandments (e.g. adultery, incest, harlotry, seduction or rape).

has committed adultery with: Grk. moicheuō, aor. The second usage implies that the contemplated act is just as real to God as the completed act. Since there is no preposition following the verb, the aorist tense could possibly mean "to adulterate," that is, to debase or make impure. In other words the offender is regarding the woman as someone who is ready to be defiled. her: fem. of Grk. autos, acc. case. The accusative case signifies that the object referred to is considered as the point toward which something is proceeding; that it is the end of the action or motion described (DM 91). already: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already.

in: Grk. en, prep. his: Grk. autos, masc. heart: Grk. ho kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, but used here metaphorically as the center for personhood, character, cognition, emotion and volition. Yeshua invokes the tenth commandment and decrees that this kind of selfish desire constitutes adultery in the heart. He will later repeat his point that adultery originates in the heart, not the genitals (Matt 15:19). As far as God is concerned the contemplated act is equal to the completed act. Just as uncontrolled anger is the root of murder so inordinate desire is the root of sexual sins.

An adulterous relationship can only bring death, as King David learned with great tragedy. Ironically Solomon, David's son of that relationship, would later say, "Can a man take fire into his bosom and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27) Solomon goes on to say that the one committing adultery is lacking sense," perhaps an understated commentary on his father (v. 32).

The underlying principle in Yeshua's teaching is the concept of property or belongingness. In Scripture a woman generally belongs to a man, first her father and then her husband. If the woman becomes a widow then the head of the family assumes responsibility for her (cf. 1Tim 5:8). Adultery constitutes theft, because the woman belongs to another. Moreover, adultery is not simply an immoral sex act, but an attack on the foundation of God's creation design for marriage, a covenantal relationship of loyalty and security. Thus, Solomon described the adulteress as having forgotten "the covenant of her God" (Prov 2:17). (For guidance on responding to an adulterous mate see my web article My Mate Has Been Unfaithful ~ What Do I Do?)

Yeshua never addresses the opposite problem: female covetousness. Indeed, the Scriptures present the subject of inordinate sexual desires of women very little, but usually in connection with the seductive "adulterous woman" who is in reality a predator (e.g., Prov 2:16; 5:3; 6:24, 26; 7:5, 10-23; 9:13-18; 22:14; 23:27; 27:13; 30:20; Eccl 7:26; Hos 3:1). God likens Israel to two wives, Oholah and Oholibah, who were guilty of desiring their neighbors (Ezek 23:5, 11). An excellent treatment of inordinate female desires may be found in Judy Reamer, Feelings Women Rarely Share (Whitaker House, 1987).

29― "Now if your right eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of your body parts should perish, and not your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Now: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker, generally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. The particle introduces a hypothetical situation related to the cause of covetousness. your: Grk. su, second person pronoun. right: Grk. ho dexios, right as a direction or location, used here of a bodily member. eye: Grk. ho ophthalmos, the physical organ of sight; the eye. In the LXX ophthalmos translates Heb. ayin (SH-5869), the organ of physical sight for humans and animals, as well as fig. of mental and spiritual faculties, first in Genesis 3:5.

The eye is the medium through which temptation of adultery or other unlawful sexual intimacy comes. The right eye is presumably the more precious of the two. Yeshua resorts to a Hebraic way of viewing acts of sin or righteousness in terms of the part of body engaged in the act. The Hebrew Scriptures often provide exhortations related to body parts, such as eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc.

causes you: Grk. su. to stumble: Grk. skandalizō, pres., to lay an obstacle in another's way, cause to be caught or to fall. The root word refers to a bait-stick in a trap. It was a stick or arm on which the bait was fixed and which operated the trap to catch the animal lured to its own destruction. So the word came to mean anything which causes man's destruction. Spiritually speaking the verb means to cause someone to be guilty of a transgression.

The Sages understood the concept of which Yeshua speaks as they pointed out that the Hebrew verb "commit adultery" in Exodus 20:14 consists of four letters (tav-nun-aleph-fey). These letters are a reminder that adultery may be committed with the hand, or with the foot, or with the eye, or with the heart (Midrash Hagadol Ex. 20:14 cited in Kasdan 56). The mention of "looking" in the previous verse and the "eye" in this verse could allude to the practice of certain Pharisees.

There were so-called Kizai ("bloody-browed" or "bruised") Pharisees. This Pharisee would demonstrate piety by walking with his eyes shut in order not to look upon women, and would invariably run into a wall resulting in a bruised or bloody brow (Avot 5:9; Sotah 22b). Their intention was good, but their plan was flawed. Yeshua could be criticizing the Pharisees with satire. Obviously closing one's eyes is not sufficient remedy. Perhaps you should remove your ability to see.

If the principle applied in ancient times when men and women were fully clothed head to foot, how much more is it true today when pornographic depictions of nude bodies and intimate acts are readily available on television or the Internet? It is one thing to accidentally view sinful acts, but purposely allowing the eye to engage in viewing sinful behavior exposes a person to unnecessary temptation.

Of course, sin in not in any organ of the body and Yeshua did not intend for his words to be taken literalistically. Rather, his conditional proposition should cause the disciple to consider, "what does cause me to sin?" As the previous verse indicates the problem is in the heart. King David's sin with Bathsheba began when he saw her immersing (2Sam 11:2), and what he saw he wanted.

tear it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. out: Grk. exaireō (from ek, "out of," and haireō, "to take"), aor. imp., remove completely from a place, here a bodily organ; pluck out, take out. Some versions express the verb more strongly with "gouge it out" (CJB, CSB, NIV, NLT, TLV). and: Grk. kai, conj. throw it: Grk. ballō, aor. imp. See verse 13 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. you: Grk. su. The verbal command is hyperbole and not meant to be taken literalistically. This is a Jewish idiom that refers to stopping the act at an early or light stage.

for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 12 above. The conjunction has an inferential use here. it is better: Grk. sumpherō, pres., bring together to result in a benefit; be useful or profitable, be of advantage. for you: Grk. su. that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. one: Grk. heis, adj., the numeral one. of your: Grk. su. body parts: pl. of Grk. ho melos, a member or limb of a physical bodily structure. should perish: Grk. apollumi (from apo, "away from," and olethros, "destruction"), aor. mid. subj., experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish.

and: Grk. kai. not: Grk. , adv. See verse 17 above. your: Grk. su. whole: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. body: Grk. ho sōma, a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts, body of human or animal, whether living or dead, but normally of a human body. to be thrown: Grk. ballō, aor. pass. subj. into: Grk. eis, prep. hell: Grk. Geenna. See verse 22 above. Yeshua reminds his disciples of the eternal place of punishment.

The last clause of the verse depicts a living person being sent to hell. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus illustrates that after death the spirit of an unrighteous person goes to Hades (Luke 16:23), an interim place of punishment. The judgment of hell takes place after the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked (cf. John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; Rev 20:5, 11-15).

30― "And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the body parts should perish, and not your whole body should go into hell.

And: Grk. kai, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. See the previous verse. your: Grk. su, second person pronoun. right: Grk. ho dexios. See the previous verse. hand: Grk. cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand, which may also serve as a symbol of strength or authority (Gen 48:14; Ex 15:6; Ps 20:6). Matthew 18:8-9 repeats the same warning and adds the foot. This saying extends the thought of the previous verse to depict the hand as the instrument of taking the woman coveted by the eye.

In the Tanakh sexual consummation of marriage is typically described with the verb laqach (SH-3947), which means "to take," especially "to take with/by the hand" (Gen 4:19; 6:2; 11:29; 16:3; 19:14; 21:21; 24:3-4, 67; 25:1, 20; 27:46; 29:23; 34:2; 38:2; Ex 2:1). In the Song of Solomon the hand, particularly the right hand, of the bridegroom embraces the bride in the most intimate ways (2:6; 5:4-5; 8:3).

causes you: Grk. su. to stumble: Grk. skandalizō, pres. See the previous verse. [KJV "offend" no longer means "to trip up" as it did in 1611, so it's an inadequate term for today.] Again one must consider the true cause of sin. Can a bodily part cause a person to sin? No. The word "if" sets up the condition. If the right eye or the right hand could be blamed, then the remedy would be simple. Since the problem is in the will, the remedy is not so easy.

In the history of Christianity some scholars have interpreted this verse as referring to all unchaste touches, but especially as a proof-text to demonstrate that masturbation was condemned in Jewish law (Niddah 13b) (Gill, Lightfoot). However, as Coffman says, Yeshua is still speaking of adultery. He was not creating the basis for a much later rabbinic ruling. That being said, the remedy for the wayward eye and grasping hand is repeated in Matthew 18:8-9 as a general principle with the addition of the foot.

cut it: Grk. autos, fem. 3p-sing., personal pronoun. off: Grk. ekkoptō, aor. imp., eliminate by cutting; cut off, do away with, remove. and: Grk. kai. throw it: Grk. ballō, aor. imp. See verse 13 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. you: Grk. su. The verbal command is hyperbole and not meant to be taken literalistically. Carson comments that the radical treatment of parts of the body that cause one to sin has led some (notoriously Origen) to castrate themselves. Yet, Origen's decision was based on a literal interpretation of Matthew 19:12, and not this verse. Of course, the removal of a bodily organ or limb would not provide a remedy for covetousness in the heart.

The command to remove an eye or a hand is really hyperbole that refers to stopping the act at an early or light stage, not actual cutting off. There are two laws in the Torah that mention severing limbs.

"If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity." (Deut 25:11-12)

"Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." (Deut 19:21) This law reflects proportional punishment.

The point is to remove whatever influences the temptation. Take personal action before someone else does. Remember Solomon's warning:

"The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself does it. Wounds and disgrace he will find, And his reproach will not be blotted out. For jealousy enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not accept any ransom, Nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts." (Prov 6:32-35)

Best to exercise self-discipline (cf. 1Cor 9:27) and remove or avoid what might lead to sin in your life than risk being removed from the Kingdom of God. In the modern setting Tasker counsels preventative action, such as avoiding certain books, places, activities and people that might lead to such temptation. Paul counseled a form of displacement philosophy in Philippians 4:8. Focus on what is good and the bad will be eliminated.

for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 12 above. The conjunction has an inferential use here. it is better: Grk. sumpherō, pres. See the previous verse. for you: Grk. su. that: Grk. hina, conj. See the previous verse. one: Grk. heis, adj., the numeral one. of your: Grk. su. body parts: pl. of Grk. ho melos. See the previous verse. should perish: Grk. apollumi, aor. mid. subj. See the previous verse. and: Grk. kai. not: Grk. , adv. See verse 17 above. your: Grk. su. whole: Grk. holos, adj. See the previous verse. body: Grk. ho sōma. See the previous verse. This is the resurrected body.

should go: Grk. aperchomai, aor. pass. subj., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination; to go away, depart or leave. The verb lays the stress, not on the action of the Heavenly Judge, but on the departure after the divine decree. The verb thus depicts the greatest tragedy. into: Grk. eis, prep. hell: Grk. Geenna. See verse 22 above. Yeshua again reminds his disciples of the eternal place of punishment.

Solomon has a proverb that seems appropriate to Yeshua's statement: "Can a man take fire in his bosom And his clothes not be burned?" (Prov 6:27). Clarke notes a rabbinic saying, "It is better for thee to be scorched with a little fire in this world, than to be burned with a devouring fire in the world to come."

31― "Now it was spoken, 'Whoever anyhow should divorce his wife, shall give to her a certificate of divorce'"

Reference: Deuteronomy 24:1

In context the teaching on divorce is a continuation of his saying on coveting another woman. Now: Grk. de, conj. it was spoken: Grk. legō, aor. pass. See verse 2 above. Yeshua refers to what was first spoken by God and then later written down by Moses. The passive voice indicates something received and could have the specific sense of "it was instructed." The opening phrase sets the stage for Yeshua's ruling in the following verse. whoever: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 19 above. anyhow: Grk. an, disjunctive particle. See verse 18 above.

should divorce: Grk. apoluō, aor. subj., may mean (1) to set free from a condition or obligation; release, deliver, free; (2) cause to depart from a place; send off, dismiss; (3) dissolve a marriage relationship, of divorce at a husband's initiative; or (4) of departure from a place; go off, leave. The third meaning applies here. This verb also occurs in other passages concerning divorce (Matt 1:19; 5:32; 19:3, 8, 9; Mark 10:2, 11, 12; and Luke 16:18). In the LXX apoluō is rare and does not occur in the Greek Tanakh in relation to divorce, but it does in the Apocrypha (1Esdras 9:36) and in Josephus (Ant. XV, 7:10) (DNTT 1:505).

his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. wife: Grk. ho gunē. See verse 28 above. See my article Divorce in the Bible. shall give: Grk. didōmi, aor. imp., to give, whether the focus is on generosity or other rationale for the giving. In the LXX didōmi generally translates Heb. natan (SH-5414), to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). The command puts the responsibility on the man. to her: Grk. autos, fem. a certificate of divorce: Grk. apostasion (from aphistēmi, "to stand away from"), a notice or certificate of divorce, a legal term for a document used to relinquish property after sale, abandonment, etc.

Here the term is used without the technical term biblion ("notice, certificate"), which appears in Matthew 19:7 and Mark 10:4. The corresponding Hebrew term is sefer kerithuth ("bill of cutting off"), which occurs three times in the Tanakh (Deut 24:1; Isa 50:1; Jer 3:8). The certificate of divorce formally announces the divorce and settles property claims. A Jewish divorce decree later became known as a get, a Hebrew word for a legal document, but without further identification refers to a divorce document.

The mention of the bill of divorce affirms the antiquity of its use. Under first century Jewish law a get had to be written on durable material with ink that did not fade, and once he had delivered the writ in person to his wife in the presence of witnesses he could not retract it; the woman was free. For the Jewish regulation on preparation and use of the bill of divorce see the Talmud Tractate Gittin ("Bill of Divorcement").

Yeshua's mention of the divorce certificate implies the complete instruction of the Torah.

"1 When a man takes a woman and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found in her some indecency, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2 and when she has departed from his house and goes and becomes another man's wife, 3 and if the subsequent husband hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce, and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the subsequent husband who took her as his wife dies, 4 then her first husband, who divorced her, must not take her back to be his wife, after that she has become unclean, for that is an abomination before ADONAI, and you shall not bring sin upon the land which ADONAI your God is giving you as an inheritance." (Deut 24:1-4 BR)

Noteworthy is that God did not command the provision of a divorce certificate. The command is actually in verse 4 in reference to what an Israelite may not do in this particular divorce scenario. In Matthew 19:8 Yeshua acknowledged that divorce was a practice in the time of Moses. Indeed the first recorded divorce is when Abraham divorced Hagar (Gen 21:14). No doubt Moses faced the dilemma of watching wives discarded without any support or due process. Instituting a legal procedure helped to provide accountability for the men.

32― "moreover I tell you that anyone divorcing his wife, except for a report of unlawful sexual conduct, causes her to commit adultery; and if whoever should marry her having been so divorced commits adultery."

Parallel Passages: Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18.

moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 and verse 22 above. Almost all versions translate the conjunction with "but," which essentially means "on the contrary," as if Yeshua were annulling the Deuteronomic law. In reality the conjunction introduces a clarification and an inference from the original divine instruction. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. See verse 11 above. Yeshua uses the pronoun as the Heb. ani, to assert divine authority. tell: Grk. legō, pres. See verses 2 and 18 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Again Yeshua asserts his authority over conventional thinking.

that: Grk. hoti, conj. anyone: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 28 above. The intention would be "any man." divorcing: Grk. ho apoluō, pres. part. See the previous verse. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. wife: Grk. ho gunē. See verse 28 above. There were two circumstances in the Torah in which a man was not allowed to ever divorce his wife: (1) if he falsely accused her of unfaithfulness during their betrothal period (Deut 22:13-19); and (2) if he seduced an unbetrothed maiden (Deut 22:28-29).

In the first century under Jewish law only the husband had the legal right to divorce, and he could divorce his wife at will for any reason. Most of the discussions recorded later in the Mishnah and Talmud have to do with various aspects of the legal process and the wording of the divorce certificate. A wife could appeal to Rabbinic authority to force the husband into a divorce if he failed to fulfill his obligations of Exodus 21:10-11. It was not until the Mishnah was codified in the 2nd century AD that this right was established. In Greek and Roman society a woman could divorce her husband at will.

A substantive check on divorce was that the husband had to pay his wife the settlement specified in the ketubah (marriage contract), which consisted of her dowry and 200 zuzim (Aramaic for silver coins), equivalent to a year of support. [Note: it was said that a goat could be purchased for 2 zuzim and a house for 50 zuzim.] The rule of 200 zuzim may have been taken from Deuteronomy 22:29, which requires 50 shekels to be paid to the father for seduction of his daughter. With 4 zuzim to a shekel, this is equal to 200 zuzim. Divorce was expensive to the husband. Some selfish men might seek divorce on grounds that would cancel this monetary obligation. Requirements for the ketubah are set forth in the Tractate Kethuboth.

The irony in the situation is that Jews practiced polygamy in the first century (Josephus, Ant. XVII, 1:2; Sanh. 2:4; Yeb. 44a). If the husband had the means he could add a wife or concubine without divorcing. A concubine could be released without a divorce certificate, because there was no marriage contract as with a principal wife. In biblical history there is no criticism of polygamy from God or any person, whereas there is pointed criticism of divorce. So the fact of divorce indicates a deliberate effort to evade responsibility for his wife. Many Gentiles use this passage to criticize Judaism as being lax in the matter of divorce. However, the Talmud Tractate Gittin ends with the comment, "If a man divorces his first wife, even the altar sheds tears" (90b).

except for: Grk. parektos, prep. expressing an exclusionary aspect; excluding, except for. a report: Grk. logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; SH-1697; BDB 182). The use of logos here indicates information publicly known. of unlawful sexual conduct: Grk. porneia, every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse (BAG), or sexual conduct condemned and forbidden in Scripture (e.g., Leviticus 18). The word-group originally meant to prostitute or practice prostitution, whether by a man or woman (DNTT 1:497).

In the LXX porneia translates (1) Heb. zenunim (SH-2183; masc.) prostitution, Genesis 38:24; (2) zenuth (SH-2184; fem.), harlotry (Num 14:33); and (3) zanah (SH-2181), be or act as a prostitute (Jer 2:20). Zanah was also used for wives having multiple lovers (Prov 6:24-32). Zanah particularly stood for the wicked practices of idolatry, pagan religion, occultism, child sacrifice, and intermarriage with forbidden peoples (Ex 34:15-16; Lev 20:5-6; Num 25:1-2; Deut 31:16). Zanah is rebellion against God. Specific immoral acts prohibited in Scripture include:

● Adultery (v. Heb. na'aph; Grk. moicheuō/moichaō; n. Heb. niuph/naaphuph; Grk. moicheia), copulation between a man and a married woman (Ex 20:14; Lev 20:10; Deut 5:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Rom 13:9; Jas 2:11).

● Bestiality (Heb. shekobeth, "copulation"), copulation between an animal and a man or woman (Lev 18:23; 20:15).

● Homosexuality (n. Grk. arsenokoitēs), copulating with a male as with a female, a sodomite or pederast (Lev 18:22; Rom 1:27; 1Cor 6:9; 1Tim 1:10). Condemnation of lesbianism may be inferred from Romans 1:26.

● Incest (Heb. basar, "flesh"), copulation between a man and a female relative, whether by blood or by marriage, including daughter (Lev 18:6), mother (Lev 18:7; Ezek 22:10), step-mother (Lev 18:8; 20:11; Deut 22:30; 27:20; Ezek 22:10), sister (Lev 18:9, 11; 20:17; Deut 27:22), granddaughter (Lev 18:10), aunt (Lev 18:12-14; Lev 20:19-20), daughter-in-law (Lev 18:15; 20:12), sister-in-law (Lev 18:16; 20:21; Mark 6:18), and mother-in-law (Lev 18:17).

● Menstrual Intercourse (Heb. niddah, "impurity;" Heb. tum'ah, "uncleanness"), copulation between a man and a woman during her menses (Lev 18:19; 20:21; cf. Heb 13:4).

● Prostitution (v. Heb. zanah, "play the harlot," n. Heb. qadesh, "temple prostitute;" zanuth, "harlotry;" Grk. pornē, "female prostitute;" pornos, "male prostitute"), copulation for money (Lev 19:29; Deut 23:17; 1Cor 6:15-16).

Immoral conduct (porneia) was condemned by Yeshua (Matt 15:19; 19:9; Mark 7:21) and later prohibited by apostolic decree (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25). Paul addresses the threat of immorality in his letters and exhorts disciples to remove immorality from their lives (1Cor 6:18; 10:8; 2Cor 12:21; Eph 5:3; Col 3:5; 1Th 4:3; Heb 12:16). He classified persistence in porneia as grounds for God to exclude a person from the Kingdom of God (Gal 5:19, 21).

The controlling circumstance in the Deuteronomy passage is the "indecency" (Heb. ervah) of the wife described in verse 1. Ervah is a feminine noun that lit. means "nakedness" or "pudenda" (genitalia, mostly of women), and derives from the verb arah, to be naked or bare (BDB 788). In Leviticus 18:6 ervah is a euphemism for sexual relations. In Deuteronomy 23:14 ervah is a euphemism for improper behavior that violates public decency, specifically failure to cleanse oneself after a nocturnal emission and failure to bury excrement. In any event, the noun refers to conduct that involves the genitals.

Interpretation by the schools of Shammai and Hillel concerning the meaning of ervah resulted in diametrical positions.

"Beth Shammai say a man should not divorce his wife unless he has found her guilty of some unseemly conduct, as it is says,' … because he has found some unseemly thing in her.' Beth Hillel, however, say that he may divorce her even if she merely spoilt his food, since it says, '… because he has found some unseemly thing in her.' " (Mishnah, Gittin 9:10, underline mine)

For Shammai ervah was some form of unchastity. The ervah need not be adultery, which required putting the guilty parties to death (cf. John 8:3-5). The flow of the syntax ("taking" and "finding") may suggest a scenario of a groom discovering that his bride was not a virgin:

"If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, 'I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin.' " (Deut 22:13-14)

For example, Joseph considered divorcing Miriam because of her pregnancy (Matt 1:18-19). He was willing to consider conception as having occurred before their betrothal and therefore she belonged to the man who impregnated her. Otherwise, Miriam would have been charged with adultery. Nevertheless, because of the betrothal Joseph had to divorce her so she could go to the supposed father of her baby. An angel quickly disabused Joseph of his reasoning.

However, Hillel interpreted ervah in light of the word "thing" (Heb. davar, lit. "word, thing, matter," BDB 182) and concluded that divorce could be justified for the offense of spoiling food. Hillel's hypothetical grounds alluded to the basic duties of a wife, namely grinding corn, baking bread, washing clothes, cooking, suckling her child, making ready his bed and working in wool (Kethubot 5:5). The opinion of the school of Hillel prevailed because the husband held the power in marriage, not the government. In the first century a man could divorce his wife at his pleasure. It was not until the eleventh century A.D. that the absolute right of the husband to divorce his wife at will was formally abolished among the Jews.

causes: Grk. poieō, pres., means to do or to make. As an activity it can have the sense of bringing something about or of creating conditions that will cause something to happen. her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to commit adultery: Grk. moicheuō, aor. pass. inf. See verse 27 above. The aorist tense refers to a single event in time, not a continuous future activity. Being an infinitive the verb emphasizes the result of the action. Yeshua is not saying that the divorce and subsequent remarriage are not legal realities.

Yeshua clearly rebutted the position of Hillel, but the common translation of the first clause presents a conundrum. A divorced woman cannot commit adultery because she is unmarried. Only a married woman can commit adultery. The point of this strange syntax is interpreted best by the GW version: the unlawful divorce "makes her look as though she has committed adultery." The woman would thus be unfairly shamed in public. In addition, with the absence of "biblical grounds," the fraudulent divorce would make a subsequent marriage by the woman the equivalent of adultery. Yeshua makes it clear that this is the first husband's fault.

The grounds Yeshua requires really pertain to remarriage. Unlike the Pharisees Yeshua put the emphasis on remarriage rather than on divorce itself. The parallel passages in Mark 10 and Luke 16:18 vary in phraseology, but the emphasis is the same, remarriage after divorce, or more specifically divorce in order to remarry. The background of Yeshua's declaration could well be the notorious action of Herod Antipas who divorced his first wife Phasaelis in order to marry Herodias, the wife of his brother (Josephus, Ant., XVIII, 5:1).

The marriage of Antipas and Herodias was made possible by Herodias divorcing her husband Herod Philip (Ant. XVIII, 5:4). These divorce actions were legal under Roman law, but contrary to God's law. Antipas had no grounds for divorcing Phasaelis and Herodias had no grounds for divorcing her husband.

and: Grk. kai, conj. if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 13 above. The conjunction introduces a hypothetical situation. whoever: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 19 above. should marry: Grk. gameō, aor. subj., taking a woman as a wife. See my article Marriage in Ancient Israel. her having been so divorced: Grk. apoluō, perf. pass. part. The verb alludes to a divorce without the requisite grounds. commits adultery: Grk. moichaō, pres. mid., be put in an adulterous state or condition. The verb as used here refers to a man who takes the unlawfully divorced woman as a wife. If the woman was divorced according to Hillel's liberal policy, then she still belongs to her husband and should be reconciled to him. Marriage to another would be equivalent to bigamy.

This situation implies that anyone contemplating marriage to a divorced person should inquire into the circumstances. With the common practice in Israel of divorce for any cause, the Essenes opposed taking a second wife as long as the divorced wife was alive. In context Yeshua is describing a purposeful act. If, on the other hand, the man divorces his wife because of coveting another woman he has effectively given her the grounds for divorce. Coveting another woman equals adultery and adultery breaks God's covenant (cf. Prov 2:17).

Oaths and Truthfulness, 5:33-37

33― "Again, you have heard that it was spoken to the ancients, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to ADONAI your oaths.'

Reference: Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2(3); Deuteronomy 23:21(22)

Again: Grk. palin, adv. with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. you have heard: Grk. akouō, aor., 2p-pl. See verse 21 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. it was spoken: Grk. legō, aor. pass. See verses 2 and 21 above. The verb again emphasizes the original oral nature of divine instruction. the Ancients: pl. of Grk. ho archaios. See verse 21 above. Yeshua then conflates two Torah commandments, first quoting from Leviticus 19:12. You shall not: Grk. ou, adv. swear falsely: Grk. epiorkeō may mean (1) to swear falsely, perjure oneself; or (2) break one's oath (BAG). Both meanings are possible in this context. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh.

The verb epiorkeō does not occur in the Greek Tanakh, but it is found in the Apocrypha (1Esdras 1:46) and Testament of Asher 2:6. The use of epiorkeō conflates two words in the LXX οmeisthe adikō, "swear unjustly." Yeshua also omits the words "by my name" in the Hebrew text. The verb epiorkeō does not mean to "make a false vow" or "break a vow (e.g. AMP, TLB, NLT, OJB).

In Scripture a vow (Heb. neder; Grk. euchē) refers to a promise of service or a special gift or offering. An oath (Heb. shebuah; Grk. horkos) is a declaration attesting innocence or affirming the truth of some matter. Oaths and vows are distinguished in Numbers 30:2. The great majority of versions translate the verb "You shall not swear falsely (e.g., AMPC, ESV, LEB, NKJV, NRSV, NTE, RSV, TLV, RSV), or "Do not break your oath" (CJB, CSB, GW, NOG, NIV). Yeshua clearly is referring to swearing an oath, as the next four verses confirm. Examples of false oaths can be found in Matthew 23:16-22.

but: Grk. de, conj., used here to make a contrast. Yeshua then offers a selective quotation and succinct interpretive midrash on Numbers 30:2, "When a man makes a vow [Heb. neder] to ADONAI or formally obligates himself by swearing an oath [Heb. shebuah], he is not to break his word but is to do everything he said he would do." (Num 30:3 CJB).

you shall perform: Grk. apodidōmi, fut., 2p-sing. See verse 26 above. to ADONAI: Grk. ho Kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. Almost all Christian versions translate kurios here as "the Lord" (note the lower case). In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times to translate Hebrew words for God, and in the overwhelming majority of instances (over 6,000 times), it substitutes for the tetragrammaton YHVH (SH-3068) (DNTT 2:511).

YHVH is not a title or a word for a deity, but the personal name of the God of Israel (Ex 3:15; 2Chr 14:11; Isa 42:8). In Tanakh passages Christian versions generally have "the LORD" (small caps) for YHVH. In the Tanakh YHVH, who is the Divine Logos (John 1:1), is the One who speaks for Elohim, the name of the triune Creator. Yeshua is YHVH (John 8:58). For more information on the history and usage of YHVH see my article The Blessed Name.

your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. oaths: pl. of Grk. ho horkos, that which restricts or constrains; an oath. Here the term is used of confirming by an oath what has been pledged or promised in a vow (e.g., Num 30:2). In the LXX horkos first translates Heb. sheba (SH-7651), "seven," and first appears in the translation of Beersheba ,"well of seven" (Gen 21:14, 31-33; 22:19). There is evidence in ancient literature that it was not uncommon to seal an agreement by the number "seven." In the narrative of Genesis 21 Abraham sealed an oath to Abimelech by giving seven ewe lambs as a witness (Gen 21:22-34), and Abraham named the well where he and Abimelech met "Beersheba" or "Well-of-the-seven-oath" (Gen 21:31).

Then horkos translates Heb. shebuah (SH-7621, from sheba) an oath or curse, first in Genesis 24:8 of an oath taken by the servant of Abraham to bring back a wife for Isaac from Haran. In the LXX of Numbers 30:2 horkos translates Heb. shebuah, oath. The translation of "vows" is inaccurate, but may be found in a number of versions (CJB, NASB, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, OJB).

Here Yeshua uses the term for making an oath as assurance that a promise to do something will be performed (e.g., Gen 28:20-22; Lev 5:4; Josh 9:20; Ps 105:9; 1Kgs 2:43). One of the famous sayings of Hillel is that "Three things support the world--law, truth, and peace" (Avot 1:17) The proper use of oaths upholds these principles. Failure to fulfill oaths destroys these principles.

God Himself swore on important occasions. "By myself I have sworn" says the Lord Almighty" (Gen 22:16). God swore to give the land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 24:7; 26:3; Ex 6:8; 33:1; Deut 1:8; 6:10). God swore to multiply the seed of Abraham as the stars and the sand (Ex 32:13). God swore a perpetual covenant with Israel (Deut 4:31). God swore to establish his people as a holy people (Deut 28:9). God swore that his Messiah is high priest forever (Heb 7:21). We can be very sure that God will keep His promises.

Why should anyone swear and use oaths? Paul answers, "For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute" (Heb 6:16). Various Bible characters made solemn oaths, e.g., Abraham (Gen 14:22; 24:9) and Jacob (Gen 28:20-22; 31:53; 47:31). Yeshua essentially offers a midrash on two contrasting commands:

"You must not take the Name of ADONAI your God in vain, for ADONAI will not leave unpunished anyone who takes His Name in vain." (Deut 5:11 TLV)

"You must fear ADONAI your God and serve Him, and swear by His Name." (Deut 6:13 TLV)

Taking God's name refers both to covenantal identity and to legal usage. In Scripture swearing has nothing to do with using crude language. Just as a wife takes her husband's name so Israel took God's name and must seek to glorify him. Idolatry, or worshipping other gods, is betrayal of identity as God's people. God infers that there would be times when swearing would be necessary and in those occasions it must be done in his name.

God condemns the man who swears something is true, or who makes some promise, in the name of God, and who has taken the oath falsely. Atonement for false swearing required 20% restitution (Lev 6:5). In Pharisaic Judaism the focus shifted to avoidance of speaking the divine name, but they nevertheless made oaths in a manner that Yeshua found unacceptable (Matt 23:16-22).

34― "Moreover I tell you, not to swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God,

Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 and verse 22 above. Almost all versions translate the conjunction with "but," which essentially means "on the contrary," as if Yeshua were annulling the two commandments mentioned in the previous verse. In reality the conjunction introduces an inference based on the divine instruction. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. See verse 11 above. Yeshua uses the pronoun as the Heb. ani, to assert divine authority. tell: Grk. legō, pres. See verses 2 and 18 above. Yeshua again asserts his authority. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. not: Grk. , adv., not. See verse 17 above.

to swear: Grk. omnuō, aor. inf., to take an oath affirming veracity of what one says; swear. at all: Grk. holōs, adv., wholly, altogether, actually, really; but with the negative here: "not at all." Yeshua echoes other writers. "It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay" (Eccl 5:5). "Do not accustom your mouth to swearing oaths, and do not habitually use the name of the Holy One" (Sirach 23:9). Philo of Alexandria similarly recommended avoiding oaths entirely (Decalogue 84). Josephus says this virtue characterized the Essenes:

"They are eminent for fidelity, and are the ministers of peace; whatsoever they say also is firmer than an oath; but swearing is avoided by them, and they esteem it worse than perjury for they say that he who cannot be believed without [swearing by] God is already condemned." (Wars, II, 8:6)

However, Yeshua means "no oath" of the type that follows. Yeshua did not object to being putting under oath at his trial (Matt 26:63). Paul put himself under oath on various occasions (Acts 18:5; 2Cor 1:23; Gal 1:20). Yeshua is talking about voluntary oaths used to add assurance to one's word. Yeshua then lists four improper oaths.

neither: Grk. mēte, conj., a negative particle foreclosing a conceived option in continuation after a preceding negative; either, neither, nor. The particle emphasizes that the options are not possibilities to be considered. by: Grk. en, prep. The preposition stresses "by means of" here. heaven: Grk. ho ouranos. See verse 3 above. for: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. the throne: Grk. thronos refers to a throne or chair upon which a king sits. Ancient thrones typically had a high back-rest and arm-rests and sometimes with a foot-stool.

The throne was the official place from which the king exercised his power, authority and judgment. The term is often used figuratively in Scripture of sovereignty or dominion (DNTT 2:611-615). of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 8 above. Scripture locates the throne of God in Heaven (1Kgs 22:19; 2Kgs 19:15; Ps 2:4; 11:4). Paul spoke of this place as the "third heaven" (2Cor 12:2-4).

35― nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, nor by Jerusalem, for it is 'the city of the great king.'

nor: Grk. mēte, conj. See the previous verse. by: Grk. en, prep. the earth: Grk. ho gē. See verse 5 above. In this context should be translated as "land" as a reference to erets Yisrael. for: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. the footstool: Grk. hupopodion, a device for supporting one's feet when in a sitting position, a footstool. The mention of a footstool is rather curious given its usage in Scripture. King Solomon had a gold footstool attached to his a throne (2Chr 9:18). However, "footstool" is used fig. of the worship sanctuary of Israel (1Chr 28:2; Ps 99:5; 132:7; Lam 2:1; Isa 66:1).

of His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used of God. feet: pl. of Grk. pous, the body part used for walking or running, foot. Yeshua employs an anthropomorphism common in the Tanakh (e.g., Ex 24:10), which presents a theological paradox. Yes, God is Spirit (John 4:24), but passages speak of God walking (Gen 3:8; Deut 1:31), standing (Gen 18:22; Job 19:25; Ps 82:1) and sitting (Ps 2:4; 47:8; 55:19). In Isaiah 60:14 Zion is referred to as the "soles" of God's feet. nor: Grk. mēte. by: Grk. eis, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim, which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436).

The city is situated some 2500 feet above sea level and eighteen miles west of the northern end of the Dead Sea, is renowned as the capitol of all Israel, afterwards of the Kingdom of Judah and the seat of central worship in the temple. For the faithful Jew the city of Jerusalem represented all that was dear in the covenant relationship with God. One psalmist expressed his affection thus, "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill, may my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy" (Psalm 137:5-6). What a precious name is Jerusalem!

for: Grk. hoti, conj. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. Yeshua then quotes from Psalm 48:2. the city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. of the great: Grk. ho megas, adj. See verse 19 above. King: Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus translates Heb. melek (SH-4428), first in Genesis 14:1. In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed (often a city), but the authority wielded. The executive and judicial functions (and sometimes legislative) of government were vested in one person.

Yeshua affirms that Jerusalem belongs to the God of Israel, the Great King, but also to his Anointed One, the Messiah (which happens to be Yeshua, John 1:49), who will reign from this blessed city (Isa 2:3; 16:5; 59:20; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Zech 14:3-4; Luke 1:32; 13:35).

36― "nor shall you swear by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black.

nor: Grk. mēte, conj. See verse 34 above. shall you swear: Grk. omnuō, aor. subj., 2p-sing. See verse 34 above. The subjunctive mood is used here for prohibition. by: Grk. en, prep. See verse 12 above. your: Grk. su, second person pronoun. head: Grk. ho kephalē, the head as an anatomical term. In the LXX kephalē translates Heb. rosh (SH-7218), head, first in Genesis 3:15. This is not a judicial oath, which is sworn in the name of God. As strange as it may seem swearing by one's head was not uncommon.

"If a man was under obligation of an oath to his neighbor, and the latter said to him, 'vow to me by the life of thy head;' R. Meir holds, he may retract; but the sages maintain, he cannot.'' (Sanh. 3:2)

because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. you are not: Grk. ou, adv. able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. See verse 14 above. to make: Grk. poieō, aor. inf. See verse 19 above. The verb is used in the sense of creating as the verb is used in the LXX of Genesis 1, particularly the creation of man, of whom God made him male and female in His own image (Gen 1:27). Human beings have no control over their own DNA, regardless of modern attempts to deny individual DNA. Hair color is determined by the amount of a pigment called melanin in hair, which itself is encoded in a person's genes.

one: Grk. heis, the numeral one. hair: Grk. thrix, the hair of the head. In the LXX thrix translates Heb. sear (SH-8181), hair, first in Leviticus 13:3. white: Grk. leukos, adj. of quality expressing impressive brightness, bright, gleaming, shining or of a color shade ranging from white to grey. In the LXX leukos translates Heb. laban, white, though white in the Tanakh may include half-yellow (DNTT 1:204). or: Grk. ē, conj. black: Grk. melas, adj., the color black. In the LXX melas translates Heb. shachor (SH-3838), black, first in Leviticus 13:37. No one can change the genetic code of their hair color, although hair may be dyed. God created hair color and has even counted the number of hairs on one's head (Matt 10:30).

We might ask what makes these four categories of swearing bad. They illustrate misuse of swearing. First, there is frivolous swearing, or taking an oath where none was necessary or proper. For example, rabbis ruled that to use an oath to affirm "That is an olive tree" was sinful and wrong. A second misuse of oath-making is evasive swearing. Jews divided oaths into two classes: those absolutely binding and those which were not. In Pharisaic Judaism an oath which contained the name of God was absolutely binding, but an oath which succeeded in avoiding the name of God was held not to be binding.

The principle is that if God's name was used, God became a partner in the transaction; whereas if God's name was not used, He had nothing to do with the transaction (Barclay 1:159). The result was that if a man swore by the name of God in any form, he would rigidly keep that oath; but if he swore by heaven or by earth or by Jerusalem, he felt quite free to break that oath. The mode of swearing mentioned in verse 35 was very frequently adopted. They also swore by the Covenant, by the service of the Temple, or by the Temple itself. But perhaps the usual mode of swearing, which is attributed even to the Almighty, is "By thy life."

Yeshua illustrates the practice of evasive swearing in Matthew 23:16-22. See my commentary there. Yeshua asserts that no man can keep God out of any transaction. Life cannot be divided into rooms in which God does not live or is uninvolved. There cannot be one standard at home, another at work and another within the Body of Messiah.

37― "But your statement shall be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no;' and more than these is from the evil one.

But: Grk. de, conj. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. statement: Grk. ho logos. See verse 32 above. The noun as used here could refer to either a private or public communication. shall be: Grk. eimi, pres. imp. See verse 3 above. Yes: Grk. nai, particle of assertion or affirmation; yes, certainly, even so. yes: Grk. nai. or No: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 14 above. no: Grk. ou. These terms are often the response to a query, such as in relation to a promise or a statement of fact. This principle is echoed by Jacob, the half-brother of Yeshua:

"And, above all things, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven, nor the earth, nor any other oath: but let your yes be yes, and your no be no; so that you might not fall under judgment." (Jas 5:12 BR).

The Talmud concurs, "Let your 'no' and 'yes' both be righteous [i.e., straightforward]" (Baba Metzia 49a). A man's character should make an oath unnecessary. However, in a legal context it is not necessary to say the words, "I swear." If asked in a courtroom "Do you swear that…?" you only need to answer "yes" or "no" and thus fulfill the command of Yeshua, because Yeshua said "Let your statement be…"

and: Grk. de. more than: Grk. perissos, adj., extraordinary in number, size or quality; extraordinary, in surplus, in abundance. As used here the term means "going past the expected limit" (HELPS). A number of versions have "anything more than" (CJB, CSB, ESV, NRSV, TLV). these: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 19 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. from: Grk. ek, prep. may be used to denote derivation or separation, here the former; from, out of, out from among. Ek has a two-layered meaning, "out from" and "to," which makes it out-come oriented, i.e., out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object (HELPS).

the evil one: Grk. ho ponēros, evil. See verse 11 above. Since the term has the definite article many versions treat the term here as a substantive for the devil. The term seems to have this meaning in other passages (Matt 6:13; 13:19, 38; Luke 11:4; John 17:15; Eph 6:16; 1Jn 2:13; 3:12; 5:18). Satan is properly called the "evil one" because he was the first created being to become evil (Isa 14:12-15; Ezek 28:11-17). Satan is the "father of lying" (John 8:44) and therefore the instigator of false swearing.

Yeshua's mention of "the evil one" might imply that taking an oath from a man must of necessity arise from the evil that has been transmitted in the human race. If there was no evil, there would be no need for an oath.

Personal Injury and Personal Sacrifice, 5:38-42

38― "You have heard that it was spoken, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'

You have heard: Grk. akouō, aor., 2p-pl. See verse 21 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. The conjunction serves to complement the preceding verb. it was spoken: Grk. legō, aor. pass. See verse 2 above. The verb again alludes to the oral nature of the original instruction from God, but in the proximate sense could refer to Torah readings in Shabbat services or the mandatory reading of the entire Torah to the people gathered during Sukkot every seven years (Deut 31:10-13).

An eye: Grk. ophthalmos. See verse 29 above. for: Grk. anti, prep., over against, opposite, instead of. In this instance the preposition denotes a reaction of retribution. an eye: Grk. ophthalmos. and: Grk. kai, conj. a tooth: Grk. odous, a hard body in the mouth used for chewing. In mammals the tooth is typically composed chiefly of dentin surrounding a sensitive pulp and covered on the crown with enamel. When fully formed the human mouth has 32 teeth. for: Grk. anti. a tooth: Grk. odous.

The saying as presented by Yeshua represents the so-called lex talionis, law of retaliation, was said not just once but three times in the Torah.

"then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. (Ex 21:23-25)

"If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him." (Lev 19:19-20)

"Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." (Deut 19:21)

Contrary to popular thinking, the context of these passages shows that God was not commanding or authorizing personal revenge, but providing a guideline for judicial authority as a limit on punishment or damages imposed in a court hearing. The offender is to be punished to the same degree, but not more, as he has inflicted on the victim. In jurisprudence this is the principle of proportionality. In biblical case law proportionality was determined by considering three levels of causation: accidental, negligence and intentional.

● For accidental damage to property the loss was to be divided equally by the parties (Ex 21:35), whereas accidental loss of life was not to be punished. It should be noted that God called for measures to protect the life of the offender in accidental homicide from revenge of the victim's family (Ex 21:13; Deut 19:4-6).

● For ordinary negligence the offender was to bear the full loss of property by restitution or satisfaction (Ex 21:36; 22:6). Where negligence caused a death the offender deserved death, but the death penalty could be averted by means of a ransom (Ex 21:29-30).

● For willful negligence or intentional conduct that results in harm to property the offender was to bear the full loss, plus incur punitive damages at least double the amount of the loss, but not more than five times the loss (Ex 22:1). Similarly, for intentional conduct that resulted in loss of life the offender was to be executed without pity (Ex 21:14, 29f; Lev 24:19; Deut 19:11-13).

Rabbinic authority went far beyond the simple Torah guidance and required that damages for personal injuries be based on five different aspects of the injury: damage, pain, healing, loss of time from work, and insult. (Baba Kama 8:1)

● For damage (e.g., loss of sight or limb, or broken limb), they valued the injured person as if he were a slave for sale on the market, and they appraised his value before the injury and afterwards.

● For pain (e.g., work related injury), they determined how much a man of his position would be willing to be paid to suffer that amount of pain.

● For healing, the amount was determined based on the expenses of healing the injured person.

● For loss of time, the amount is determined from the kind of work the person would be fit for doing after recovery, such as a watchman over a cucumber field, which required no special skills.

● For insult, compensation was determined based on the social status of the victim and the offender. The example given is of insulting a person who is naked, blind or asleep.

39― "Moreover I tell you, do not resist the evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Parallel Passage: Luke 6:29.

Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 and verse 22 above. Almost all versions translate the conjunction with "but," which essentially means "on the contrary," as if Yeshua were annulling the Torah principle mentioned in the previous verse. In reality the conjunction introduces an extension of the divine instruction. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. See verse 11 above. Yeshua uses the pronoun as the Heb. ani, to assert divine authority. tell: Grk. legō, pres. See verses 2 and 18 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person; used of Yeshua's audience, especially his disciples.

do not: Grk. , adv. See verse 17 above. resist: Grk. anthistēmi, aor. inf., take a position in opposition to, resist, hold one's own, take a stand against, oppose, withstand. the evil person: Grk. ho ponēros. See verse 11 above. but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 15 above. whoever: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun. See verse 25 above. slaps: Grk. rhapizō, pres., to smite in the face with the palm of the hand, to box the ear; slap, smite or strike (Thayer). you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. on: Grk. eis, prep. your: Grk. su. right: Grk. ho dexios, adj. See verse 29 above. cheek: Grk. siagōn, the jawbone, cheek, jaw.

turn: Grk. strephō, aor. imp., to change direction or redirect a position; turn or return. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. the other: Grk. ho allos, adj. used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other (of two), another. In other words, turn the other cheek. also: Grk. kai, conj. Yeshua offered what must have seemed like contrary to Torah, since the Torah requires that evil behavior by a neighbor be confronted (Lev 19:17-18). Since most people are right-handed, the slap on the right cheek would be a slap of insult with the back of the hand. Yeshua is saying, don't take the Rabbinic approach and calculate the five types of compensation for being slapped.

The instruction for responding to an evil person is not unlike the response to a neighbor or brother (Matt 18:15-17; Luke 17:3-4; Eph 4:25). The forbidden resistance Yeshua alludes to is returning evil behavior with evil behavior (cf. 1Pet 2:21-23; 4:14-16). There are four biblical examples of a godly man being struck on the face (see the Additional Note below). In these stories the striking occurs because of speaking the truth. None of these cases indicate actually offering the other cheek to be hit. Thus, Yeshua's command appears to be an idiomatic expression for confronting with words. The striking occurred because of speaking and the disciple should not allow the striking to silence the word of God.

Some Christians have attempted to apply this standard literalistically to communities and nations, effectively nullifying the duty God gave to governments to punish the wicked (Gen 9:6; Rom 13:1-4). Yeshua clearly gave this commandment to his disciples as a guideline for personal behavior. Conversely, in history the Church enlisted the aid of the government to not only promote its interests but also enforce its edicts, including coerced conversions at the point of a sword. However, as someone once said, Yeshua intended that his Body receive blows rather than inflict them. (See my web article The Error of Pacifism.)

Additional Note

There are four biblical examples of a godly man being struck on the face:

● In the first instance Job figuratively regards the false charges of his friends as being slapped on the cheek (Job 16:10). The three friends initially came to commiserate with Job's plight (2:11-12). They gave Job "space" for seven days, but when they opened their mouths comfort did not come out, but rather accusation and rebuke. As the story proceeds the critical accusations become increasingly malicious, perhaps reflecting personal insecurity. In spite of the repeated assaults on his character Job repeatedly declares his innocence (Job 9:21; 23:10-12; 27:5-6; 31:1-40). The reader knows from God's pronouncement at the end that the three friends were totally wrong in their judgment of Job (Job 42:7).

● In the second instance King Jehoshaphat of Judah and King Ahab of Israel met to discuss an alliance to fight against Aram. The two kings sought the advice of Micaiah concerning whether to instigate battle at Ramoth-Gilead. The prophet Micaiah counseled against war and even prophesied defeat. In the confrontation between prophet and kings one of Ahab's officers struck Micaiah on the cheek for calling Ahab's advisors deceivers (1Kgs 22:24). Micaiah responded by saying that the proof of God's word would be in the fulfillment.

● The third instance occurred when Yeshua was on trial before Annas (John 18:20-23). Yeshua dared to instruct Annas on proper legal procedure and a member of the Temple security force struck Yeshua. Yeshua responded to the assault by asking the officer to justify his action. Yeshua's response to the slap is according to his own teaching in this sermon. Yeshua did not criticize the officer or respond in kind but asked the officer to conduct self-examination and consider what was actually happening in the hearing.

● The fourth instance occurred when Paul was brought before a council of Judean leaders. Paul began with an opening statement that defended his innocence, but the high priest ordered that Paul be struck in the mouth (Acts 23:1-3). He responded more strongly than Yeshua by saying, "God is about to strike you, a whitewashed wall! And you, do you sit judging me according to the law, and contrary to law order me to be struck?" Paul was a Jew who lived in accordance with the laws of strict Judaism, and he expected the same of other Jews. The Torah requires that evil behavior by a neighbor be confronted (Lev 19:17-18). So, Paul pointed out that the order to hit him was clearly illegal.

40― "And to the one willing to sue you and to take your shirt, permit also to him the coat."

And: Grk. kai, conj. to the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. willing: Grk. thelō, pres. part., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. to sue: Grk. krinō, aor. pass. inf., to separate or distinguish between options, i.e. judge; to come to a decision by making a judgment, either positive (a verdict in favor of) or negative (which rejects or condemns) (HELPS). In the LXX krinō is used to translate three Hebrew words: din, rib and shaphat, generally of issuing a judgment in a legal context (DNTT 2:363).

you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. and: Grk. kai. to take: Grk. lambanō, aor. inf., to lay hold of by actively accepting what is offered (HELPS), to take or receive. your: Grk. su. shirt: Grk. ho chitōn. In the LXX chitōn translates Heb. kethoneth, "tunic," the principal ordinary garment made of linen and extended to just above the ankles. The inner tunic was worn next to the skin by both men and women (BDB 509). permit: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. imp. See verse 24 above. also: Grk. kai. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. the coat: Grk. ho himation, made of wool, was worn over the chitōn.

In the LXX himation rendered the Heb. beged, meaning both the outer garment and the clothes as a whole (DNTT 1:316). In the Tanakh beged meant garment, clothing, raiment, or robe of any kind, from the filthy clothing of the leper to the holy robes of the High Priest, the simplest covering of the poor as well as the costly raiment of the rich and noble (BDB 94). Yeshua, like other Jewish men of his day, wore two garments. Notice that the lawsuit is for the chitōn. Clothing was important property and could be taken as a pledge or security.

"If you ever take your neighbor's cloak [LXX himation]as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in? And it shall come about that when he cries out to Me, I will hear him, for I am gracious. (Ex 22:26-27)

Taken literalistically Yeshua would be saying that for the sake of peace you should be willing to go naked. This action would have the effect of shaming the adversary. Taken metaphorically, Yeshua would be saying to be generous in settlement of a claim and to take responsibility for the needs of the other party.

Yeshua is not saying that a disciple should never be concerned about his legal rights. Paul claimed his right as a Roman citizen to a fair trial when faced with a capital charge (Acts 25:8-11) and indeed the government has a responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens (Rom 13:1-4). However, the situation Yeshua addresses appears to be a personal dispute, strictly a civil matter. Yeshua gave no authorization to sue others, but required his disciples to remember they are called to be shalom-makers. Disciples are especially not to sue other disciples, but turn to the Body of Messiah to help resolve disputes (Matt 18:15-19; 1Cor 6:1-6).

41― "And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two."

And: Grk. kai, conj. whoever: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun. See verse 25 above. compels you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. to go: Grk. aggareuō, fut., to impress into service, compel. one: Grk. heis, adj., the numeral one. mile: Grk. milion, a Roman mile (about 1618 yards). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Among the Romans the distance was equivalent to about a thousand paces. go: Grk. hupagō, pres. imp., to proceed from a position, whether with the focus on the departure point or the destination. The present tense emphasizes to start and keep going. with: Grk. meta, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. two: Grk. duo, adj., the numeral two.

The most likely context is that under Roman occupation soldiers could force free citizens to perform specific work for them or carry their gear. The Greek word for "forces" is used in Matthew 27:32 of Simon of Cyrene who was "pressed" into service to carry the cross for Yeshua. It should be noted that the requirement here is to do something lawful, not unlawful. Yeshua exhorts his disciples to consider that even if they must perform involuntary unpaid service for Caesar to remember they are still ambassadors for the Messiah.

Their response to such unfair treatment reflects on their Master and either harms or conserves the possibility for sharing God's love and message of salvation. There could be many situations where a disciple is required to interrupt his schedule to obey someone who has authority over him, such as an employer. A disciple should always be generous with his time just as the Father is generous with his time toward us.

42― "Give to the one asking of you, and do not turn away from the one wanting to borrow from you."

Parallel Passage: Luke 6:30.

Give: Grk. didōmi, aor. imp. See verse 31 above. to the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. asking: Grk. aiteō, pres. part., to ask in expectation of a response; ask, ask for, petition, request. of you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. and: Grk. kai, conj. do not: Grk. , adv. See verse 17 above. turn away from: Grk. apostrephō, aor. pass. subj., to turn away, here with the sense of turning away from or rejecting. the one: Grk. ho. wanting: Grk. thelō, pres. part. See verse 40 above. to borrow: Grk. danizō, aor. mid. inf., to get a loan for oneself, borrow. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 18 above. Here the preposition emphasizes origin. you: Grk. su.

The two commands of Yeshua, first of positive action and second of negative action, express a Hebrew parallelism. Parallelisms are common to the Psalms, in which the same thought is expressed twice using different words. The verb "ask," therefore, is parallel in meaning to the verb "borrow" in the second half of the verse. The Hebrew verb "ask," unlike its Greek and English counterparts, has three meanings: (1) ask a question; (2) make a request; and (3) borrow.

There is a subtle difference between the words for "borrow." In Hebrew a distinction is made between borrowing an object, such as a tool, which must be returned to the owner, and borrowing something such as money or flour, which must be returned in kind. One is not actually returning the same flour, but the same amount. Yeshua uses the first word for "borrow" in the first half of the verse and the second word in the second half in order to address a real social problem.

Yeshua could be saying that in relations with a quarrelsome neighbor the disciple should not try to get even by refusing to loan his tools or a cup of flour. Even a cup of cold water given in the name of Yeshua will have its reward (Matt 10:42). Conversely, this command does not negate all the biblical instruction to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. One should not foolishly dispose of his possessions without God's guidance.

Yeshua could also have been addressing a serious breach of the Torah occurring in his day.

"At the end of every seven years you are to cancel debts. 2 This is how you are to cancel debts: every creditor is to release what he has loaned to his neighbor. He must not force his neighbor or his brother to repay, for ADONAI’s debt cancellation has been proclaimed. ... 7 "If there is a poor man among you—any of your brothers within any of your gates in your land that ADONAI your God is giving you—you are not to harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother. 8 Rather, you must surely open your hand to him and you must surely lend him enough for his need—whatever he is lacking. 9 Watch yourself, so there is no unworthy thing in your heart saying, 'The seventh year, the year of canceling debts, is near,' and your eye is evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing. Then he may call out to ADONAI against you, and it will be a sin upon you." (Deut 15:1-2, 7-9 TLV)

In the time of Hillel (who ruled the Great Sanhedrin during Yeshua's youth), poor Israelites were unable to obtain needed loans before the Sabbatical year, because their better-off brothers were not obeying the Torah, not fearing that God would find them "guilty of sin." In response Hillel instituted the prosbul, a deed whereby a creditor transferred his debts to the Beth Din, which were then regarded as though already collected from the debtor, so that the seventh year did not cancel them (Kiddushin 26b, Gittin 36a-b; Shebiith 10:4). This was done only if the debtor possessed land.

Hillel reasoned that, because of the people's disobedience, annulling the Torah would produce a greater good (more loans) than following it. Yeshua was accused of trying to annul Torah and yet here is a clear example where rabbinic authority annulled an important commandment of the Torah. Yeshua commanded his disciples to follow Torah and be willing to make loans, even in the year before the year of remission. The implication is that they should also cancel loans in accordance with Torah and not take advantage of the prosbul.

There is a great promise of the Torah that may also lay behind Yeshua' teaching.

"For ADONAI your God will bless you as He promised you. So you will lend to many nations, but not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you." (Deut 15:6 TLV)

Yeshua could be saying that he wants his disciples to be lenders to the poor as encouraged in the above Torah passage. The only stipulation is that the poor must not be charged interest (Ex 22:25; Deut 23:19).

Perfection of Love, 5:43-48

43― "You have heard that it was spoken, 'You shall love your neighbor and you shall hate your enemy.'"

You have heard: Grk. akouō, aor., 2p-pl. See verse 21 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. it was spoken: Grk. legō, aor. pass. See verses 2 and 21 above. Yeshua repeats the formula used in verses 21, 27, and 33 above. The verb alludes to the fact that the commandments were given orally to Israel. Yeshua then quotes from Leviticus 19:18. You shall love: Grk. agapaō, fut., 2p-sing., may mean (1) to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so; or (2) to take delight in, value, esteem. The first meaning is intended here.

In the LXX agapaō translates aheb (SH-157), love, first in Genesis 29:32. The Hebrew verb aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. The intensity of aheb can range from fondness, to affection to devotion. In the Tanakh aheb appears for loving a family member or spouse, sexual desire, having affection for a friend, fondness for things, such as food and sleep, love of various virtues, love of God, and of course, God's love for individuals and the people of Israel.

In contrast agapaō is generally devoid of strong emotion, although it can mean to be fond of. It contains the idea of devotion for the sake of another. In the Besekh that devotion is often portrayed in sacrificial terms. The future tense of the verb is used here with an imperative sense, which gives the phrase the force of a command. The imperative use of the future tense shows clearly the influence of the LXX (DM 192).

your: Grk. su, second person pronoun. Note the singular form. neighbor: Grk. ho plēsion, indicating nearness whether in proximity or circumstance, generally rendered as "neighbor." In the LXX plēsion is used to translate Heb. rea (SH-7453), which means friend, companion, or fellow, including a fellow citizen (BDB 945f). Scripture contains a number of admonitions of how to behave toward specific individuals or groups of people. A neighbor most commonly referred to someone that lived in adjoining property or dwelling, but could also refer to any member of the community and then lastly to any Israelite (cf. Lev 19:17).

In the Hebrew perspective neighbors are bound by their covenant to God. Thus Gentile proselytes who attached themselves to Israel were accorded the same rights and privileges as native Israelites. Strangers (Gentiles) living in the land were subject to Jewish law (Ex 12:49) and thus Israelites were expected to treat them fairly (Ex 23:9; Lev 19:33).

Yeshua responded both to Scripture and to contemporary Jewish thinking. He alludes to the well-known Torah instruction:

"You are not to take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am ADONAI." (Lev 19:18 TLV)

and: Grk. kai, conj. you shall hate: Grk. miseō, fut., 2p-sing., means to detest, abhor or reject. In the LXX miseō translates Heb. sane (SH–8130; "saw–nay"), which has the same meaning (first in Gen 26:27). The Hebrew word often indicates an emotional impulse to despise that can result in an action to turn against (e.g., Joseph's brothers, Gen 37:2–8). Hatred in Scripture also refers to the hostility shown by an enemy (Gen 24:60; Ex 1:10; Num 10:35; Deut 30:7; Luke 1:71). Wisdom teaches that hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses (Prov 10:12). The Hebrew word is also used in a comparative sense of loving less (e.g., Jacob loved Leah less than Rachel, Gen 29:30; cf. Deut 21:15-17). Thus, to hate parents (Luke 14:26) means to love them less than God.

your: Grk. su. enemy: Grk. ho echthros, adj., someone openly hostile or inimical toward another, properly an enemy. The term implies irreconcilable hostility, proceeding out of a "personal" hatred bent on inflicting harm (HELPS). In the Tanakh enemies are military opponents, the nations with which one is in a state of war. An enemy will could also be personal or religious. Since Israel is God's people, then its enemies are also God's enemies (Ex 23:22; Josh 7:8; 2Sam 12:14). The ungodly man is the enemy of the righteous (Ps 5:8-10; 55:3) and of God (Ps 37:20). Hope for the future depends on deliverance from enemies and their destruction (Num 24:18; Ps 110:1-2; 132:18; Isa 62:8; Mic 5:9).

Contemporary Judaism indeed reflected the sentiment of hating enemies. The words of David could be cited for justification:

"Do I not hate those who hate You, ADONAI? Do I not loathe those who rise against You? 22 I hate them with total hatred— I consider them my enemies." (Ps 139:21-22 TLV)

However, while David commended himself for hating God's enemies (and that's an important distinction), Scripture nowhere instructs Israelites to hate a personal enemy. In fact, the Torah explicitly says, "You are not to hate your brother in your heart. Instead, you are to firmly rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him" (Lev 19:17 TLV). However, the expectation of hating one's enemy could be an inference drawn from the fact of being hated, as it says in the Torah "ADONAI your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you" (Deut 30:7 TLV).

The Qumran community advocated the hatred of enemies (Bivin 90), so the repetition by Yeshua of the "command to hate" could be an implied criticism of the teaching of the Essenes. In the Charter of Jewish Sectarian Association (commonly referred to as the Community Rule) are these declarations:

"the Instructor is ... to teach them to love everything He chose and to hate everything He rejected, to distance themselves from all evil." (1QS 1:3-4; TDSS 117)

"love all the Children of Light, each commensurate with his rightful place in the council of God—and to hate all the Children of Darkness, each commensurate with his guilt and the vengeance due him from God." (1QS 1:9-11; TDSS 117)

"These are the precepts of the Way for the Instructor in these times, as to his loving and hating: eternal hatred and a concealing spirit for the Men of the Pit! He shall leave them their wealth and profit like a slave does his master—presently humble before his oppressor, but a zealot for God's law whose time will come: even the Day of Vengeance. He shall work God's will when he attacks the wicked." (1QS 9:21-23; TDSS 131).

Hatred was also encouraged among some of the Sages: "Love every one except the infidels, the enticers, the misleaders, and the informers" (Tosephtha, Avot R. Nathan, Avot 2). Another rabbinic source said "It is forbidden to harbor feelings of anger and revenge against the sons of the people, but not against others (Siphra on Lev 19:18). The Rabbis concluded that one is permitted to hate another for evil behavior one sees. Rav Naman bar Isaac said: "Not only is this permitted, it is even a commandment to hate this other person, as Proverbs 8:13 states: 'The fear of God is to hate evil'" (Pesachim 113b). However, the proverb does not say to hate evil people, but to hate evil actions. There is a difference.

And, of course, the Zealots certainly agreed with hating the Roman enemies of Israel. The one caveat among the Sages to the justification for hating enemies was that groundless hatred was considered more serious than immorality, idolatry and the shedding of blood put together (Yoma 9b) and "hatred for [one's fellow] creatures put a man out of the world" (Avot 2:11). The editor of Avot comments that "A man who hates everybody will draw upon himself the hatred of all others and this is likely to bring him to a premature and unnatural end" (fn 93).

44― "Moreover I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those persecuting you,

Parallel: Luke 6:27-28, 35.

Moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 and verse 22 above. Almost all versions translate the conjunction with "but," which essentially means "on the contrary," as if Yeshua were rebutting what he said in the previous verse. In reality the conjunction introduces an inference from the second greatest commandment, to love one's neighbor. What if your neighbor is an enemy? I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. tell: Grk. legō, pres. See verses 2 and 18 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun incorporates the entire audience of the sermon. Yeshua again asserts his authority.

love. Grk. agapaō, pres. imp., 2p-pl. See the previous verse. your: Grk. humeis. enemies: pl. of Grk. ho echthros, adj. See the previous verse. Yeshua is not commanding to have good feelings or affection for enemies, but rather to demonstrate a willingness to make a personal sacrifice for their welfare. Yeshua acknowledges the reality that a person could have an enemy, whether in the family, the neighborhood or the community. Soon he will quote the prophecy of Micah 7:6, "A man’s enemies will be those of his own household" (Matt 10:36 NKJV). Hillel had said: "Be a disciple of Aaron, love peace, pursue peace, love all men too, and bring them nigh unto the Law" (Avot 1:12).

Yeshua's statement does not represent a contrast to Torah, but actually alludes to an injunction in the Torah.

"If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him." (Ex 23:4-5)

Torah requires decent treatment of animals (Deut 22:6) and a bad relationship with a neighbor should not undermine this care. In addition, acting with kindness toward an enemy is a spiritual principle in the Tanakh, as Paul will quote from Solomon, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For by doing so you will heap coals of fire upon his head" (Rom 12:20 TLV, quoting Prov 25:21-22; cf. 2Kgs 6:22). When enemies of the good news are in need, organizing a charitable response reflects the love of God and provides an opportunity for light to shine into the darkness.

and: Grk. kai, conj. pray: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. imp., 2p-pl., to petition deity for some personal desire. In the LXX proseuchomai translates Heb. palal (SH-6419), to intervene, mediate, intercede or pray. The verb refers to earnestly petitioning God for His help with respect to an urgent need. This is the first mention in Yeshua's ministry to pray for others. for: Grk. huper, prep. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. persecuting: Grk. diōkō, pl. pres. part. See verse 10 above. you: Grk. humeis. The plural pronoun is of Yeshua's disciples.

In another example of parallelism the second part of verse 44 extends the identity of the enemies and what Yeshua means by loving your enemies. Yeshua does not refer so much to political enemies as many Israelites of the time regarded the Romans, but those who would persecute Yeshua's followers because of their identification with him. Yeshua's command implies the reality that while tens of thousands of Jews would believe the good news and accept Yeshua as their Savior and Messiah (Acts 21:20), Jewish leaders in many communities would incite strong opposition and even violence against Yeshua's messengers (cf. 1Th 2:15-16).

Persecution would eventually be instigated by Gentile rulers to stamp out this competitor to the state religion. Yeshua does not explain here how the disciple should pray for the persecutor, but after the coming of the Spirit, the apostles provided the example and teaching on how to pray in the midst of persecution (Acts 4:24-30; Eph 5:18-20; Col 4:2-4; 2Th 3:1-2; 1Tim 2:1-4; Heb 13:18-19). We may pray that God will protect His people, that God will provide justice for victims of persecution, but also that God will save the persecutor, just as He saved Paul.

Yeshua's command may well have been imitated by a medieval Jewish work that says "pray for your enemy that he serve God" (Orchot Tzaddikim 15c, quoted in Stern 30).

Textual Note

Some versions as the KJV and NKJV add the clause "bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you." This clause appears only in late MSS and was borrowed from the parallel account in Luke 6:27-28 (Metzger).

45― so that you may be sons of your Father, the One in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on evil and good, and He sends rain on righteous and unrighteous."

so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. See verse 16 above. The conjunction introduces the reason and benefit of loving enemies and praying for persecutors. you may be: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj. See verse 18 above. sons: pl. of Grk. huios. See verse 9 above. In Hebrew "son of" implies being like one's father in character. of your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Father: Grk. ho patēr. See verse 16 above. Calling God "Father" emphasizes both His activity as creator and sustainer of all things and His covenantal relationship to Israel. What is the character of the Father? Yeshua then illustrates God's benevolence.

the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun for God. Among Jews "The One" was a circumlocution for the sacred name of God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 11:27; 12:45; 15:21; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6). See the note on the sacred name in verse 33 above.

in: Grk. en, prep. heaven: pl. of Grk. ouranos. See verse 3 above. God is often depicted as dwelling in heaven and even sitting on a throne (e.g., Deut 4:39; 1Kgs 22:19; Ps 11:4; 47:8; Isa 6:1). The phrase "the One in heaven" is not accidental. In Scripture the "fathers" were Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. In the first century the great Sages were known as "fathers," and their sayings are preserved in the Tractate Avot ("Fathers"). In the book of Matthew seven times Yeshua personalizes this reference with "My Father who is in heaven" (7:21; 10:32-33; 12:50; 16:17; 18:10, 19).

for: Grk. hoti, conj. He causes His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used here in a possessive sense. sun: Grk. ho hēlios (for Heb. shemesh), the sun, the star that is the central body of the solar system, created on the fourth day to "govern the day" (Gen 1:16-19). The core temperature of the sun produced by nuclear fusion has been estimated above 27 million degrees F and the temperature at its surface about 10,000 degrees F. In both the solar system and on the earth "there is nothing hidden from its heat" (Ps 19:6).

The mean distance of the sun from the earth is about 93 million miles, which assures the right balance of heat, light and photosynthesis to sustain all of earth's physical and biological processes. The sun moves in an orbit through the Milky Way Galaxy (Ps 19:5-6), at a speed that scientists estimate to be 600,000 mph (BBMS 165). to rise: Grk. anatellō, pres., move upward from an originating point; cause to rise up. The action described here is from the point of view of an observer on the earth and alludes to the apparent movement of the sun in relation to the horizon of the east.

on: Grk. epi, prep. evil: Grk. ponēros, adj. See verse 11 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. good: Grk. agathos, adj., achieving a high standard of excellence in meeting a need or interest, beneficial, useful, good. The adjective also describes an intrinsic quality that originates from God and is empowered by Him (HELPS). In the LXX agathos translates Heb. tov (SH-2896), agreeable, good or pleasant (Num 14:7). These adjectives are often used of the character and acts of God. When used of people the adjectives can have an ethical or moral quality, the opposite of evil. Thus, God does not discriminate regarding who receives the benefit of the sun.

and: Grk. kai. He sends rain: Grk. brechō, pres., to cause to become wet, here of the atmospheric phenomenon of precipitation. The processes of weather on earth are under God's control. on: Grk. epi. righteous: pl. of Grk. dikaios, adj., being in accord with God's covenantal standards expressed in Torah for acceptable behavior, upright or just. In the LXX dikaios translates Heb. tsaddiq (SH-6682), 'just or righteous' (BDB 843). In Scripture a just man is one who is blameless or innocent of wrongdoing, one who follows the ethical and moral demands of Torah.

and: Grk. kai. unrighteous: pl. of Grk. adikos (from alpha as a neg. prefix, and dikē, "right, justice"), adj., not in accord with what is right and approved; unjust, unrighteous. The unrighteous violate God's standards and thus are sinful. In the LXX adikos is used to translate a variety of Hebrew equivalents (DNTT 3:574), including two words in one verse: Heb. rasha (SH-7563), wicked, criminal, and Heb. chamas (SH-2555), violence, wrong, in Exodus 21:1 of a false witness. Adikos then translates Heb. evel (SH-5766), injustice, unrighteousness (Job 5:16; 6:29), and avval (SH-5767), unjust, unrighteous one (Job 18:21; 27:7).

The phrase "the righteous and the unrighteous" serves as a synonymous parallelism of "the evil and the good," and perhaps represents the majority of the population of the earth. Then there are a great many people who live as if God didn't exist and who qualify as sinners. In any event all people on the earth receive the benefit of the hydrological cycle consisting of water evaporating from the sea, rising into the atmosphere where it condenses, then is released by the atmosphere as precipitation on the land, and finally runs back to the sea to start the cycle again (Job 5:10; 28:24-27; 36:27-28; 37:6, 16; 38:25-28; Ps 147:8; Acts 14:17).

Even without knowing Him or praying to Him God blesses the evil and unrighteousness with the basic necessities for sustaining life on earth, sun and rain. The inference is clear. If God treats those who have no regard for Him with such generosity, how should the disciples of Yeshua behave?

46― "For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same?"

Parallel Passage: Luke 6:32.

For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 12 above. if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 13 above. The conjunction introduces a hypothetical scenario. you love: Grk. agapaō, aor. subj., 2p-pl. See verse 43 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. loving: Grk. agapaō, pl. pres. part. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. This is a definition of reciprocal altruism. Giving in order to get. Quid pro quo. 'You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.' The world functions by this principle, including believers. This practice also reflects an exclusivist attitude, a separation from others "not like us." We only fellowship with those like us, who won't taint us.

what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 13 above. reward: Grk. misthos. See verse 12 above. The reward would be from God. do you have: Grk. echō, pres., 2p-pl. See verse 23 above. Yeshua points out that there is no spiritual or heavenly reward for such "love" because it has already been rewarded. Do not: Grk. ouchi (an intensified form of ou, "not"), interrogative particle used to ask what no one denies to be true. even: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above.

the tax-collectors: pl. of Grk. ho telōnēs, a collector of taxes or other revenues (customs and tolls) from Jews on behalf of the Roman government. Tax collectors were independent contractors, not civil servants, and earned their income from fees charged to individual taxpayers for banking services and changing property or money into Roman coinage to pay taxes. Yeshua will eventually recruit Matthew, a prominent tax collector in Capernaum (Matt 9:9). For an explanation of the Roman tax system in the first century see the UNRV article, Roman Taxes.

Paying taxes to the oppressive Roman government was regarded by the Pharisees and other traditional groups as robbery and, of course, those who collected the taxes were classed as robbers. While there may have been unscrupulous Jewish tax collectors there is NO evidence of a pervasive problem and Scripture never impugns the fiduciary integrity of any Jewish tax collector. So, Jewish tax collectors, like Matthew and Zacchaeus, were considered robbers, not because they robbed by Torah definition, but because they collected revenue on behalf of the Roman government. In contrast the Levites who collected the temple tax were not considered robbers.

do: Grk. poieō, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 19 above. the same: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. There is an implied insult in the comparison with tax collectors. In other words, if you limit your love to selfish altruism then you're no better than the person you consider to be the worst in society.

47― "And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Do not even the pagans do the same?"

Parallel Passage: Luke 6:33.

And: Grk. kai, conj. if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 13 and the previous verse above. you greet: Grk. aspazomai, aor. mid. subj., 2p-pl., may mean (1) to address with some form of special recognition or expression of affection; or (2) to pay one's respects to someone. The first meaning is intended here. Greeting may include the act of embracing as in the mutual greeting of two good friends. Among Jews this included extending words of blessing. "Shalom" was common greeting and was intended as a desire for the other person to experience the greatest good possible. Four times in his letters Paul exhorts disciples to greet one another with a holy kiss (Rom 16:16; 1Cor 16:20; 2Cor 13:12; 1Th 5:26).

your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. brothers: pl. of Grk. ho adelphos. See verse 22 above. Given the following contrast the noun might be intended in the ethnic sense of fellow Israelites, or in a spiritual sense of fellow followers of Yeshua. The contrast has an application with both meanings. only: Grk. monon, adv. marking a narrow limitation; merely, just, only. Yeshua alludes to the Jewish law that forbid a Jew from carrying on a familiar conversation with a foreigner (Mitzvot Tora, pr neg. 143; quoted by Gill on Acts 10:28).

what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 13 above. extraordinary thing: Grk. perissos, adj. See verse 37 above. are you doing: Grk. poieō, pres., 2p-pl. See verse 19 above. Yeshua makes the same comparison here as with the tax collectors and makes "greet" parallel to "love." Unlike loving, greeting brothers does not fulfill a specific Torah commandment, but is simply a social custom. As such greeting cannot merit a reward.

Do not: Grk. ouchi. See the previous verse. even: Grk. kai. the pagans: pl. of Grk. ho ethnikos (from ethnos, "people group"), adj., national, foreign, a Gentile, heathen. The term especially refers to non-Israelites, a "non-covenant person," i.e., standing outside God's covenant of salvation (HELPS). In practical terms ethnikos indicates a polytheist and therefore a pagan. The term does not occur in the LXX, but is found in Philo (Life of Moses I, 69) and Josephus (Ant. XII, 2:4). Some versions translate the noun as "pagans" to emphasize the religious perspective (GNB, NABRE, NCB, NIV, NLT, PNT, TLV). From the Pharisee point of view the term would include Hellenistic Jews who were known for adopting pagan culture.

do: Grk. poieō, pres., 3p-pl. the same: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. While not intending any negative meaning about non-Jews, Yeshua simply points out that Gentiles or pagans are friendly with one another, too.

48― "Therefore you must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 19 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. must be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid., 2p-pl. See verse 3 above. The future tense of the verb has a dual emphasis. The future tense, as in verse 43 above, is used in Scripture to convey the imperative mood, or a divine expectation (DM 192). The future tense could also function as a prophetic statement of what Yeshua's disciples would become with the power of the Holy Spirit. In addition the middle voice of the verb implies that the disciple is an active agent in bringing about the desired state, but is not the sole agent.

perfect: Grk. teleios, free from any deficiency or corruption, to be complete or perfect. The term teleios can mean fully developed, whether in a maturity sense or an ethical sense. In the LXX teleios occurs 20 times; seven times as equivalent for the Heb. root shalem, (SH-8003) to be sound, and seven times for tamim (SH-8549), complete, sound (DNTT 2:60). In an ethical sense tamim stresses possessing integrity and being innocent of any wrongdoing (BDB 1071). It is used of the heart that is wholly turned towards God (1Kgs 8:61; 11:4), and of the man who has bound himself wholly to God (cf. Deut 18:13).

The Hebrew terms are used to credit several men with this characteristic: Noah (Gen 6:9), Job (Job 1:1, 8), Jacob (Gen 25:27; Num 23:10), Levi ( Mal 2:4-6), David (1Sam 29:6; 1Kgs 3:6; 9:4) and Daniel (Ezek 14:14). The description of "perfect" obviously does not equal "sinless," for there is only one without sin.

as: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here with focus on the idea of a pattern or model. your: Grk. humeis. heavenly: Grk. ho ouranios, adj., relating to a transcendent realm, dwelling in heaven. Father: Grk. ho patēr. See verse 16 and 45 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. perfect: Grk. teleios. God is whole, undivided. He does not love just His people, but the entire world. In context the perfection being highlighted is not His moral holiness, but His generosity and grace toward all people, even to those who have no interest in Him and live contrary to His will.

Works Cited and Consulted

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.

Barclay: William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series. Revised Ed., 16 Vols. The Westminster Press, 1975-76.

BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.

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

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

Brown: David Brown, The Gospel According to Matthew, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871) by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Online.

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

Davies: W.D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology. Harper Torchbooks, 1967.

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

DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.

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

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

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Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations Upon the Gospel of St. Matthew, Vol. 2, 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.

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Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (1040-1105), Commentary on the Tanakh. Online.

Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.

Tasker: R.V.G. Tasker, The Gospel According to St. Matthew. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Inter-Varsity Press, 1961.

TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.

TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 Vols. ed. R. Laird Harris. Moody Bible Institute, 1980.

UNRV: Roman Taxes, UNRV History. accessed 15 December 2021.

Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.

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