The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 30

Sermon on the Mount ~ Part J

We continue our study of the Sermon in the Mount, beginning in Mattityahu 5:43.

Love Your Neighbor

43 “You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Love your neighbor – and hate your enemy.’

Leviticus 19:18 told our fathers to Love your neighbor as yourself. While in Psalm 139:21–22, the writer commends himself for hating God’s enemies. Nowhere does the Tanakh teach that you should hate your enemy. Such teaching must have come from the misinterpretations of those who teach man-made rules as if they were doctrines of God (Isaiah 29:13, cited by Yeshua later at Mattityahu 15:9).

44 But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

Love your enemies! Some contrast Judaism’s “realistic” ethics with “Christian romanticism” and cite this as an example. However, the command is not to have good feelings about your enemies but to want and do good for them, and, more specifically, to pray for those who persecute you.[1]

45 Then you will become children of your Father in heaven. For He makes His sun shine on good and bad people alike, and He sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. 46 What reward do you get if you love only those who love you? Why even tax collectors do that!

Tax collectors. Jews who undertook to collect taxes for the Roman rulers were the most despised people in the Jewish community. Not only were they serving the oppressors, but they found it easy to abuse the system to line their own pockets by exploiting their fellow Jews.

47 And if you are friendly only to your friends, are you doing anything out of the ordinary? Even the Goyim (Gentiles or non-Jews) do that! 48 Therefore, be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” ~ Mattityahu 5:43-48 (see Luke 6:32-36).

We have completed the first of three chapters that contain the Sermon on the Mount. We now turn to Chapter 6 of Mattityahu.

Giving to the Needy

6 “Be careful not to parade your acts of tzedakah in front of people in order to be seen by them! If you do, you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So, when you do tzedakah, don’t announce it with trumpets to win people’s praise, like the hypocrites in the synagogues and on the streets. Yes! I tell you, they have their reward already! But you, when you do tzedakah, don’t even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Then your tzedakah will be in secret; and your Father, who sees what you do in secret, will reward you. ~ Mattityahu 6:1-4

Tzedakah, Hebrew for “righteousness,” but in a Jewish context, “doing tzedakah” means “giving to charity, doing acts of mercy.” This is reflected in the Greek text: in v. 1, the Greek word used meansrighteousness,” but in vv. 2–4 a different Greek word is used, which means kind deeds, alms, charitable giving.[2] This passage introduces two more acts of tzedakah we will explore in our next post: prayer and fasting.

In our next post, we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount from Mattityahu’s Gospel.

[1] Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[2] Ibid.

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