a Jewish view on the Sermon on the Mount

Odola

Active Member
@Rachel Port

As we mentioned before in a thread above, could you share with us what you do recognize (from your own view on the Jewish tradition) and what seems new, or foreign or strange in the text below?

Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
Matthew 5-7 NIV - Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount - Bible Gateway

"Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,
2 and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Fulfillment of the Law
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
 

Odola

Active Member
Murder
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Adultery
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Divorce
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[f] 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.[g]

Eye for Eye
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
 

Odola

Active Member
Giving to the Needy
6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Prayer
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[j]
but deliver us from the evil one.[k]’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Fasting
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[l] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[m] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[n]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Judging Others
7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Ask, Seek, Knock
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The Narrow and Wide Gates
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

True and False Prophets
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

True and False Disciples
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The Wise and Foolish Builders
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law."

Very interested in your response.

Kind regards,
Odola
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I should perhaps explain that in a conversation in another forum, I said that when I read Jesus' words in the Gospels, I hear passages from the Jewish scriptures, which it seems to me is what he would have taught. Odola started this thread to take that discussion further and invite other Jewish readers to join the discussion.

Here are a few passages that seem relevant to me on a read-through. A number of these and similar passages have made it into the prayer book. There are also some parables in rabbinic writings nearer to the time Jesus lived,, but I don't have but looking them up will take more time. So this is just a first offering.

1. From Deuteronomy:

…18I declare to you today that you will surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. 19I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life, so that you and your descendants may live, 20and that you may love the LORD your God, obey Him, and hold fast to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”…

2. From Isaiah:

Pretty much all of Chapter 58, but here is a part:


Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.


4Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

5Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

6Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

7Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

8Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.

3. From Micah:

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?

7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

8He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

9The LORD'S voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.

10Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?

11Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?

12For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

From Leviticus:

9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.

10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.

11 Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.

12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.

13 Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.

15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
 

Odola

Active Member
Thank you, Rachel.

The passages you mentioned clearly show the origin of some of the ideas or principles.

But [to me, at least] it seems visible also why "When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. "

Does the style of the Matthew , like e.g.:

"21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder...’ 22 But I tell you..."

strike you as odd?

Or does it seem o.k. in the context of a teacher speaking?

[A question I always wanted to ask a Jewish person but never had an opportunity yet.]


Edit:

In regard to our previous discussion:

1. The general principle in the Sermon on the Mount (I will abbreviate it in future to "SotM") seems to be

"be ready to lose/ play for failure"

- starve of evil by not feeding it, try to place something good against it instead -

a list of deescalation and conflict avoidance techniques

by focussing on one's own righteousness more than on one's own rights.

Would you consider the deescalation of potential conflicts regarded as a virtue in ancient Judaism to the extent seen in SotM?

2. Would you consider the idea of investing more (especially perishable goods, but also more broadly a bigger part of one's own resources) in one's living community than in "dead assets" - which do lose value over time - as a healthier community is in better shape to face whatever the future might bring (oneself included) at its core a Jewish idea? (42 "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.", Treasures in Heaven & Do Not Worry parts in SotM).
 
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@Rachel Port

As we mentioned before in a thread above, could you share with us what you do recognize (from your own view on the Jewish tradition) and what seems new, or foreign or strange in the text below?

Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
Matthew 5-7 NIV - Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount - Bible Gateway

"Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,
2 and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Fulfillment of the Law
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
The blessing of those not ‘rightly’ due blessing goes back to Genesis 1 and becomes a recurring theme that marks out Yahweh as the God who blesses last born sons and the unassuming throughout the Old Testament. It forms a linguistic theme and cultural identity for the writers and audience.

Similarly, the setting apart of one family (one nation) from whom the Messiah, the chosen new Adam, will come to restore Israel and through them, restore all humanity is repeated through the Old Testament. The systematic introduction of New Adam figures who are listed as having the stated qualities, only to later fail, occurs again and again. But the intention is always for that family to be blessed and honoured and upheld in the nations. Jesus’ listeners would’ve understood this identity of being a light on a hill. The presence of God in high places is likewise a recurring theme. Particularly when coupled with trees.

As for the Law, my Christian tradition taught me as a child that the Law of the OT was done away with and that grace replaced it. That the Law was restrictive and harsh. In one sense yes, grace alone is shown to be the basis of restoration. In the other, Jesus was harsher. You had to be holier than Pharisees. Now, this is my understanding which I’m still wrestling with, he pointed out the Law wasn’t meant to simply be acted out. But that the purposes of the Law, of the customs and traditions, was to reframe the mind to focus on how Yawheh is set apart from all else. You have Shabbat to sacrifice a portion of time to remind yourself all of time is not your own. Life is a gift. You tithe a portion of life back to remind yourself of this. But Jesus encountered religious figures who went through the motions but were not always honouring them heart. They bartered salvation in temples and made it only available to the wealthy. They didn’t prioritise the meek. He flipped tables. The Law is good but it is not all. Early Christ followers from Jewish tradition continued to follow Jewish customs and that was entirely acceptable. Paul points out however it isn’t a prerequisite and converts to the faith shouldn’t have felt pressured to pick up the Law. But the Law was still valid. IMO

I think it’s always really helpful when looking at certain passages to think where they fit in the overall Biblical narrative. Was supposition and wotldviews are perceived as an assumed given to the audience. Then where does it fall narratively in its own story (it’s own book or collection of books/scrolls). Abd then what’s the surrounding context. Matthew’s particular lens of the gospel is focused on the Messianic nature of Christ. His introduction, lay out his market stall as it were, talks of the legitimacy of Jesus as the Messianic priest-king figure in the vein of David and Melchizedek. He shows a genealogy, shows how nations will unite under him (with real focus on the Magi paying him homage) and shows how he has a strong basis in Torah study, enough to confront the adversary. There’s lots more tied in there, but skimming it, that’s how Matthew’s take approaches Jesus before we get here. So we know Matthew’s personal preoccupation in his telling is Jesus as the Messianic priest-king. He positions him as legitimate in prophetically criticising the powers of the day (as prophets did) but also in bring the promised authority of restoration. So showing Jesus starting his ministry by recapitulating what ought to matter, in his understanding, to his Jewish audience make sense.

I’d be really excited if their are Jewish members of the site to wade in and educate me or correct any misunderstandings here. Would really value better insight into this.
 
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Odola

Active Member
The blessing of those not ‘rightly’ due blessing goes back to a Genesis one and becomes a recurring theme that marks out Yahweh as the God who blesses last born sons and the unassuming throughout the Old Testament. It forms a linguistic theme and cultural identity for the writers.

Similarly, the setting apart of one family (one nation) from whom the Messiah, the chosen new Adam, will come to restore Israel and through then restore all humanity is repeated through the Old Testament. The systematic introduction of New Adam figures who are listed as having the stated qualities, only to later fail, occurs again and again. But the intention is always for that family to be blessed and honoured and upheld in the nations. Jesus’ listeners would’ve understood this identity of being a light on a hill. The presence of God in high places is likewise a recurring theme. Particularly when coupled with trees.
According to the ancient Catholic (regrettably nowadays abandoned by Catholic mainstream due to Protestant influences) /and Orthodox tradition Jesus was Himself the (disregarded) son of the second wife. Just to make what you have said more poignant. His and his Mother's position in the family was week, we see that at several places in the Gospels. The Orthodox believe Joseph was a widower, but I do think his main wife was still alive. Completely fine in Jewish context (but scandalising in Roman eyes, who were strict serial monogamists, so not much attention is drawn to this) and explaines why it was James the Just who was Joseph the Just's heir, and not Jesus and also how Jesus' siblings disregarded Him, which they could not do were He the head of the family after Joseph's death. But that's my personal view which is quite exotic nowadays, I will admit.

As for the Law, my Christian tradition taught me as a child that the Law of the OT was done away righ and grace replaced it.
The key word in SotM is "fullfilled". It is assumed fullfilled at the cross.

That the Law was restrictive and harsh.
Harsh? Really? Read Hammurabi. Or the original Roman Law. Truely...


In one sense yes. In the other, Jesus was harsher. You had to be holier than Pharisees. Now, this is my understanding which I’m still wrestling with, he pointed out the Law wasn’t meant to simply be acted out. But that the purposes of the Law, of the customs and traditions, was to reframe the mind to focus on how Yawheh is set apart from all else. You have Shabbat to sacrifice a portion of time to remind yourself all of time is not your own. Life is a gift. You tithe a portion back to remind yourself of this. But Jesus encountered religious figures who went through the motions but were not always honouring them heart. The Law is good but it is not all. Early Christ followers from Jewish tradition continued to follow Jewish customs and that was entirely acceptable. Paul points out however it isn’t a prerequisite and converts to the faith shouldn’t have felt pressured to pick up the Law. But the Law was still valid. IMO
The ancient law was very much about keeping and restoring ritual purity. The is a concept seemingly going back to the Stone Age and is present in many cultures around out the globe which e.g. have several taboos regarding blood - which paradoxally makes both unpure - menstruation, bloodshed - and pure - sprinkling with blood as an purification ritual. All of this is obsolete for Christians as Christ's bloody Sacrifice is said to overrule that ancient taboo and as result a woman in her menses can normaly take part in a Church service without any problems (at least in the Western Churches, not sure about the Oriental or Coptic ones). For example in Islam even nowadays still a currently menstruating woman is excluded from all religious practices like prayer or fasting. I have just noticed that I have no idea how current Judaism treats this matter nowadays, actually?
 
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Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
Now, this is my understanding which I’m still wrestling with, he pointed out the Law wasn’t meant to simply be acted out. But that the purposes of the Law, of the customs and traditions, was to reframe the mind to focus on how Yawheh is set apart from all else. You have Shabbat to sacrifice a portion of time to remind yourself all of time is not your own. Life is a gift. You tithe a portion of life back to remind yourself of this. But Jesus encountered religious figures who went through the motions but were not always honouring them heart. They bartered salvation in temples and made it only available to the wealthy.
The idea that more was required than mechanically obeying the laws was not enough was exactly the point Isaiah was making in the passage I quoted and throughout - it's a major theme of all the prophets. Jesus was not unique in that message. And Shabbat is not a sacrifice of time, it is a hallowing of time, a gift. Abraham Joshua Heschel called the Sabbath a cathedral in time - it's a sanctuary from the cares and labors of the week. The Sabbath is a celebration - and it's also the first labor law in history, I believe - that those who work for you also get a day of rest. You might like to read Heschel's book The Sabbath.

What I recognize in Jesus' words are themes that appear in Jewish teachings through the ages - the obligation to care for the poor, the widow and orphan, the obligation to treat strangers well. (The true sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, which is only hinted at in Genesis, but cruelty to strangers.) Fair dealings in business; impartial justice; humane treatment of workers and slaves; caring for the earth; love of God and of all people.

I wrote a commentary on the Book of Ruth that is based on this theme, if you are interested: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/5/17/1945304/-D-var-Torah-Shavuot-and-the-Book-of-Ruth

Does the style of the Matthew , like e.g.:

"21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder...’ 22 But I tell you..."

strike you as odd?
I'd say the phrasing is probably largely due to translation and the language customs at the time of the translation (this one looks like it's based on the King James, but changing the archaic words). But Jewish learning requires both a teacher and a learning partner. We study texts in pairs, discussing and arguing the meaning. It makes sense that Jesus would take one of the basic teachings and give his interpretation, and those who listened to him would then go off and discuss what he said, arguing perhaps at certain points, until they felt they understood it.
 

Odola

Active Member
What I recognize in Jesus' words are themes that appear in Jewish teachings through the ages - the obligation to care for the poor, the widow and orphan, the obligation to treat strangers well. (The true sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, which is only hinted at in Genesis, but cruelty to strangers.) Fair dealings in business; impartial justice; humane treatment of workers and slaves; caring for the earth; love of God and of all people.
So the whole deescalation focus on combating evil by refraining from fighting it (to avoid costly colateral damage to the community) but "starving it off" instead - you would consider a new idea?

I wrote a commentary on the Book of Ruth that is based on this theme, if you are interested: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/5/17/1945304/-D-var-Torah-Shavuot-and-the-Book-of-Ruth
Will do. Love the book of Ruth. Full of ancient stuff.

I'd say the phrasing is probably largely due to translation and the language customs at the time of the translation (this one looks like it's based on the King James, but changing the archaic words). But Jewish learning requires both a teacher and a learning partner. We study texts in pairs, discussing and arguing the meaning. It makes sense that Jesus would take one of the basic teachings and give his interpretation, and those who listened to him would then go off and discuss what he said, arguing perhaps at certain points, until they felt they understood it.
The "Ego" is strong pronouced here in Greek as it is in the Aramaic version:
The Aramaic version is a back-translation from Greek - still a very strong "ego-centric" expression is used:
"22 But I, I say unto you,"
which would suggest a similar having been used in the original speech.
- My, this is actually the first time in my life where I actually went to the Aramaic version to check something.

What an inspiring discussion!
 
The idea that more was required than mechanically obeying the laws was not enough was exactly the point Isaiah was making in the passage I quoted and throughout - it's a major theme of all the prophets. Jesus was not unique in that message. And Shabbat is not a sacrifice of time, it is a hallowing of time, a gift. Abraham Joshua Heschel called the Sabbath a cathedral in time - it's a sanctuary from the cares and labors of the week. The Sabbath is a celebration - and it's also the first labor law in history, I believe - that those who work for you also get a day of rest. You might like to read Heschel's book The Sabbath.

What I recognize in Jesus' words are themes that appear in Jewish teachings through the ages - the obligation to care for the poor, the widow and orphan, the obligation to treat strangers well. (The true sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, which is only hinted at in Genesis, but cruelty to strangers.) Fair dealings in business; impartial justice; humane treatment of workers and slaves; caring for the earth; love of God and of all people.

I wrote a commentary on the Book of Ruth that is based on this theme, if you are interested: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/5/17/1945304/-D-var-Torah-Shavuot-and-the-Book-of-Ruth



I'd say the phrasing is probably largely due to translation and the language customs at the time of the translation (this one looks like it's based on the King James, but changing the archaic words). But Jewish learning requires both a teacher and a learning partner. We study texts in pairs, discussing and arguing the meaning. It makes sense that Jesus would take one of the basic teachings and give his interpretation, and those who listened to him would then go off and discuss what he said, arguing perhaps at certain points, until they felt they understood it.
I so nearly made all these points! lol

Heschel’s perspective is so beautiful. Gave me a new appreciation for Sabbath. I nearly used ‘cathedral in time’ but chose not to. Yes, considering sacrifice was in itself a very specific practice, I possibly didn’t choose the best wording. Thank you for clarifying my point. Loving the synergy.

Absolutely love what you said snd look forward to reading your Ruth study

On your last point, I think it’s regretful that so much emphasis in Modern western Christianity is put on personal self study but almost none on communal reading of scripture. I think some of that is a cultural prioritisation on the focus upon the self rather than on the communal unit.

To your point on the Law Odola, firstly I totally agree about the point of purity. I actually work for a leprosy charity so a lot of Levitical Law issues surrounding matters of ‘purity’ are something that really get my ears pricked up and those passages always stick out. I would say, I don’t think there’s ever any clear evidence of Jesus asking followers to abandon the Law. The letters likewise don’t condemn Jews from following the Law. It’s still presumed that there is value in it. I don’t think it’s ever ‘done away with’. But after Jesus the texts present the promise of Abraham’s family being a light to nations as being fulfilled. And so new cultures are invited in. But it was never to be a homogenised, singular cultural expression. The sign of the rebirthed kingdom is one of multicultural worship. And so there is warning telling Jews not to force the cultural customs of the Law on Gentile converts and for Gentile converts not to insist Jewish believes abandon the Law. It still has a place of merit but is not the only valid version of multicultural expression.

I suppose the taboos around blood and corpses and infection and the prevalence of customs surrounding them is hardly surprising when it’s just good sense to avoid that which would make one ill.
 
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Odola

Active Member
To your point on the Law Odola, firstly I totally agree about the point of purity. I actually work for a leprosy charity so a lot of Levitical Law issues surrounding matters of ‘purity’ are something that really get my ears pricked up and those passages always stick out. I would say, I don’t think there’s ever any clear evidence of Jesus asking followers to abandon the Law. The letters likewise don’t condemn Jews from following the Law. It’s still presumed that there is value in it. I don’t think it’s ever ‘done away with’. But after Jesus the texts present the promise of Abraham’s family being a light to nations as being fulfilled. And so new cultures are invited in. But it was never to be a homogenised, singular cultural expression. The sign of the rebirthed kingdom is one of multicultural worship. And so there is warning telling Jews not to force the cultural customs of the Law on Gentile converts and for Gentile converts not to insist Jewish believes abandon the Law. It still has a place of merit but is not the only valid version of multicultural expression
Jesus clearly seems to place morality over ritual purity: Mark 7:15 9 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” - He also does not admonish the woman with constant blood loss for having made Him unpure by touching His clothes but praises her publickly for her faith:
Mark 5:25–34 "And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

Actually He seems imho to express little patience for the whole "ritually unclean" concept.

But that is not SotM, which we do discuss here.
 
Very true. I agree with all those points at the same time lol I think what I was trying to say is that he isn't saying 'ignore the religion we are all a part of' but is saying 'adhere to the heart behind the religion we are a part of' - which includes following the Law, so far as you do not become beholden to it OVER the purpose behind it. Which is where I think we tie back into the Sermon on the Mount.

Not sure I've made myself any clearer but I tried lol
 

Odola

Active Member
Very true. I agree with all those points at the same time lol I think what I was trying to say is that he isn't saying 'ignore the religion we are all a part of' but is saying 'adhere to the heart behind the religion we are a part of' - which includes following the Law, so far as you do not become beholden to it OVER the purpose behind it. Which is where I think we tie back into the Sermon on the Mount.

Not sure I've made myself any clearer but I tried lol
I would not enter into my own viewpoint too deep here as I will not dissect someone else's cultural heritage - which might be considered inpolite to say the least. Purity in cultic context is a part of the cultural heritage in the whole extended region from ancient Egypt to Mesopotania, Anatolia, Persia and further even to India and some parts even ancient Greece and Rome and it goes back many thousands of years. Ritual separation of menstuating women from the community is found even in the ancient Americas. Some very ancient ideas behind it. To me it seems a part of an ancient "general cultural package".

Still Jesus Himself does not seem to value it very much.
That is one clear difference to the Mosaic Law and actually in coherence with the older, more basic Noahite Law.

What is far more interesting to me are Jewish traditions and ideas on facing evil by "playing for failure" - as this what we see applied in TLOTR.
 
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Can you expand on that more in both context please?

Do you mean the attitude of fighting despite certain failure but doing it regardless as an act of victory in itself? Sorry, not sure I understand the turn of phrase.
 

Odola

Active Member
Can you expand on that more in both context please?

Do you mean the attitude of fighting despite certain failure but doing it regardless as an act of victory in itself? Sorry, not sure I understand the turn of phrase.
Winning by losing (like in the Crucifixion). Speaking in Tolkien's terms - "placing your bet on the "eucatastrophe" to come".
 

Odola

Active Member
Ah okay I see.
Crossing the Red Sea might by one contender, Abraham's sacrifice of Issac, the mother giving up her right to her child so it can live at the Salomon's trial, the three youths in the fiery furnace, Daniel in the lions' den; and the people refusing to enter Canaan the first time around might be a failed one, maybe? Interested to hear from Rachel Port how she does see it.
 
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Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
So the whole deescalation focus on combating evil by refraining from fighting it (to avoid costly colateral damage to the community) but "starving it off" instead - you would consider a new idea?
I can't speak authoritatively about this, and I tend to a humanist interpetation in general, but in my experience, evil is not seen as Evil, something outside ourselves. Our struggle with evil is with the evil impulses in ourselves. There are evil people and evil acts, but if we all work against our evil impulses and follow Torah, the community will be taken care of. For example, idolatry is evil if a Jew worships idols, but not necessarily evil for other peoples. Of course, persecution or war can come from outside, and there have been different reactions to that; in Biblical times it was considered punishment for the sins of the kings and/or their people. Some very orthodox modern sects still believe that, even of the Holocaust.

Purity laws are about ritual purity of the priests before they can perform the holy rituals. Only Levites were to avoid exposure to the dead or have to be cleansed before they could again join the ritual sacrifices. Anything or anyone approaching the Temple was supposed to be perfect, even the animals brought for sacrifices. The Levites did not own land, and therefore were dependent on the sacrifices not completely burned. Family member who were handicapped in some way could of course eat, but not in the Temple.

Impurity of any bodily fluids for purposes of entering the Temple grounds included women who were menstruating, after childbirth, and men who had nocturnal emissions, as well as others. The laws about leprosy do not actually refer to what we call leprosy, and basically, the laws for that were a kind of quarantine while healing. Medicine at the time was, or course, primitive.

The actual following of the Law has adapted itself to changing times, via decisions of rabbinic judgements. The Talmud is the main source of a more modern interpretation (after all, it had been a couple of thousand years or so since Torah was given). Most modern Jewish law comes from the Talmud rather than the Bible, and from later sages as they adapted the law to fit contemporary circumstances. In more modern terms, there are questions like, if we are not permitted to light fires on Shabbat, does that apply to electricity?
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
Bob, my objection to the word sacrifice is that sacrifice means giving up something, while Shabbat is actually the opposite, as you seem to agree.
 
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