Sermon on the Mount ~ Part B
Before we move on to the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, I want to go back to the first twelve verses of Chapter 5 and provide some commentary.
1 Seeing the crowds, Yeshua walked up the hill. After He sat down, His talmidim came to Him,
Talmidim (plural; singular talmid), “disciples.” The English word “disciple” fails to convey the richness of the relationship between a rabbi and his talmidim in the first century CE. Teachers, both itinerant like Yeshua and settled ones, attracted followers who wholeheartedly gave themselves over to their teachers (though not in a mindless way, as happens today in some cults). The essence of the relationship was one of trust in every area of living, and its goal was to make the talmid like his rabbi in knowledge, wisdom, and ethical behavior.
2 and He began to speak. This is what He taught them:
3 “How blessed are the poor in spirit! for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
How blessed. Greek Makarios corresponds to Hebrew Asher and means “blessed,” “happy,” and “fortunate” all at once so that no one English word is adequate.
Poor in spirit ~refers to those in Yeshua’s day who recognize and bear their desperate plight and who long for God’s restoration through the Messiah. Kingdom of heaven ~ the crowd was already familiar with this terminology through Yochanan the Immerser’s proclamation; they anticipated a time of restoration.
4 “How blessed are those who mourn! for they will be comforted.
The ones who mourn ~ could refer to those who mourn for Isra’el and for their plight within its then present conditions (e.g., Roman occupation, what seems like a lack of God’s presence, impoverishment, etc.). Alternatively, it could refer to those who mourn over their sin or are currently enduring difficult times. They will be comforted ~ those who mourn for the unfulfilled condition of Isra’el will be comforted when the Kingdom is fulfilled. In the new Kingdom, God’s new covenant will restore what had been lost due to violations of the Torah.
5 “How blessed are the meek! for they will inherit the Land! ~ Mattityahu 5:1-5.
The meek~ refers to someone humble or gentle. The meek do not seek gain for themselves; instead, they hope in the Lord. Will inherit the Land or will they, as other versions have it, “inherit the earth”? Non-Messianic Believers often think that since the Gospel is for all humanity, God is no longer interested in Isra’el as a nation (even though Mattityahu 23:37–39 proves the opposite). This error – known variously as Replacement, Dominion, Kingdom Now, Covenant, et cetera theology is so widespread that Brit Hadashah passages are even mistranslated in conformance with it. The present verse is one of those passages. While Believers will return to rule with the Messiah at his Second Coming (1 Thess. 4:13–18, Rev. 20), here Yeshua is quoting Psalm 37:11, where the context makes it clear that “the meek” refers to the meek of Isra’el, who, according to God’s promises, “will inherit the Land,” the Land of Isra’el, which Mattityahu has already mentioned explicitly (2:20–21).
Although Greek gê can mean either “earth” or “land,” in Psalm 37, the Hebrew word Eretz means “Land” (and not “earth”) not less than six times: those of Isra’el who trust in Adonai will “dwell in the Land” (v. 3); and those of Isra’el who wait upon Adonai (v. 9), are meek (v. 11, cited here), are blessed by Adonai (v. 22), are righteous (v. 29) and keep his way (v. 34) will “inherit the Land.” The term “inherit” in the Tanakh refers to the Jewish people’s inheritance from God, which includes, in addition to spiritual elements, not the whole earth but a specific small territory on the east shore of the Mediterranean Sea.
Because the Gospel is universal, and because of the false theology teaching that God is no longer interested in the Jews as a nation, Non-Messianic Believers tend to suppose that the Brit Hadashah somehow cancels God’s promise of giving the Jewish people the Land of Isra’el. No small amount of opposition to the present-day State of Isra’el on the part of Non-Messianic Believers is based on this false assumption. To combat this error, it is crucial for Jews and Non-Messianic Believers alike to understand that the Brit Hadashah does not alter any of God’s promises to the Jewish people; God’s literal promises are not somehow spiritualized out of existence “in Christ.”
I pause here because I really would like to let the interpretation of verse 5 sink in.
In our next post, we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount.