Sermon on the Mount ~ Part G
We continue our study of the Sermon in the Mount, beginning in Mattityahu 5:21.
The Sixth Commandment
21 “You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Do not murder,’ and that anyone who commits murder will be subject to judgment.
You have heard that our fathers were told is an expression (or a variation) occurs six times in verses 21-48. Yeshua presents six antitheses – statements using opposites to make a point – to illustrate what it means to have a righteousness that surpasses that of the Scribes (teachers of the Law) and P’rushim. The righteousness required of Yeshua’s disciples goes beyond the observation of the written Law. However, Yeshua’s teaching here does not overturn the existing Jewish Law; it merely supplements or elaborates its teachings with principles for living the ethics of the Kingdom of Heaven.
22 But I tell you that anyone who nurses anger against his brother will be subject to judgment; that whoever calls his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing!’ will be brought before the Sanhedrin; that whoever says, ‘Fool!’ incurs the penalty of burning in the fire of Gei-Hinnom!
Verses 22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44 begin with, but I tell you. Yeshua is not here abrogating the Law; so His “but” does not introduce something that contradicts or contrasts with the ideas of the prior “You have heard” (vv. 21, 27, 33, 38, 43) or “It was said” (v. 31). Yeshua is not telling His audience that they have heard something which is wrong that He is now about to correct. Rather, His “but” completes and “fills” the total sense of the Torah, which they have already heard.
Sanhedrin is a Hebrew name given to a Jewish court, but the word is Greek. Local courts had three or twenty-three judges; the central Sanhedrin in Jerusalem had seventy.
Gey-Hinnom was brought over into Greek and English as “Gehenna“ and usually translated “hell.” Literally, “valley of Hinnom“ (a personal name); located both then and now just south of the Old City of Jerusalem. Rubbish fires were always burning there; hence its use as a metaphor for hell, with its burning fire of punishment for the unrighteous, as taught in the Hebrew Bible at Isaiah 66:24.
23 So if you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember there that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift where it is by the altar, and go, make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift.
Traditional Judaism expresses this idea this way in the Mishna: “Yom-Kippur [the Day of Atonement] atones for a person’s transgressions against God, but it does not atone for his transgressions against his fellow-man until he appeases him.” (Yoma 8:9)
Make peace in most English translations appears as to be reconciled. The cases presented in Mattityahu 5:23–24, 25–26 highlight the theme of reconciliation and provide illustrations of the ethic Yeshua presents in vv. 21–22. The command to love is the heart of Yeshua’s ethical teaching.
25 If someone sues you, come to terms with him quickly, while you and he are on the way to court; or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer of the court, and you may be thrown in jail! 26 Yes indeed! I tell you, you will certainly not get out until you have paid the last penny. ~ Mattityahu 5:21-26
In our next post, we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount from Mattityahu’s Gospel.