The Book of Matthew-Chapter 23

(1) Then Yeshua spoke to the multitudes and to his talmidim, (2) saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees (who gave a more literal interpretation of the Scriptures than the Sadducees and were closer to the truth than they were, so that is why they are mentioned here. The Pharisees in this chapter will from the School of Shammai. They opposed Yeshua. For more information see our teachings on the Sanhedrin, Shammai and Yeshua on this site. He is not talking about all Pharisees because there were several schools. Yeshua’s teachings ageeed with the Pharisee School of Hillel, the sxhool Paul was from) have seated themselves in the chair of Moses (interpreting the Torah, teaching, as Moses did “sitting”, which was the posture for teaching-Exo 18.13) (3) therefore all that they tell you (concerning the Torah and the Scriptures themselves and plain truth) do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds (don’t let their doctrine rule your lives if it doesn’t agree with the Scriptures, don’t imitate their practices. Many misguided messianic believers take this to mean that they should place themselves under the authority of the rabbi’s of today because of this verse by observing rabbinic tradition. There are some who even “convert” to Judaism while maintaining a belief in Yeshua, but that is not what Yeshua is meaning here); for they say things, and do not do them (they talk of good works, but don’t observe them. They say that you must obey the rabbi’s, even if it contradicts the Torah. Their laws are traditions, man-made and in some cases even obscure the clear message of the Scriptures. Remember, in most cases, the Sanhedrin was seen as an enemy of the faith-Matt 5.22, 10.17, 26.59; Mark 13.9, 15.1; Luke 22.66; John 11.47; Acts 4.15, 5.21, 5.27, 5.34, 6.15, 22.30, 23.1, 23.6, 23.15, 23.20, 23.28, 24.20. Yeshua taught that the teachings of the Pharisees were plants which will be uprooted-Matt 15.13 and planted by the enemy-Matt 13.37-39. He said their teachings reached the outer man, leaving the inner man untouched-Matt 23.25-28. Also, their teachings were leaven, and left unchallenged, would leaven the whole-Matt 16.6-12). (4) And they tie up heavy loads (through their “burdensome” oral laws) and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them (change these laws, remove them, ease the burden) with so much as a finger. (5) But they do all their deeds to be noticed of men (for approval and applause); for they broaden their phylacteries (a tradition of the rabbis, and not commanded by God, to wear some sort of apparatus. These were tied to the head and arm with Scriptures, supposedly fulfilling Exo 13.16, but the meaning here is that the people should bear a clear testimony in their action (hands) and their forehead (intellect) of the redemption from Egypt) and lengthen the tassels of their garments (the tzitzit, fringes, worn on the corners of their garments. This was a clear command from Num 15.37-41 and Yeshua wore them on his garments). (6) And they love the place of honor at banquets (these were meals consecrated to God, or what is called a “Lord’s Supper” in their “chavurah’s”. The Pharisees would eat together to make sure everything was kosher, ritually clean and tithed off of. These were groups of about 20 people and called a “chavurah” meaning fellowship. Their greatness was designated by where they sat at the table) and the chief seats in the synagogues (reserved for the best scholars and leaders with their back to the Ark, in full view of the people) (7) and respectful greetings in the market places and being called by men, Rabbi. (8) But do not be called ‘Rabbi’ for one is your teacher, and you are all brothers. (9) And do not call anyone on earth your father (reject all such names and titles that signify an authoritative power over the conscience in matters of faith and obedience), for one is your Father, who is in heaven. (10) And do not be called master (guide) for one is your master (guide), that is Messiah. (11) But the greatest among you shall be your servant. (12) And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. (13) But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites (“actors”-Yeshua was gentle, tender, true, righteous and stern as steel. He was tough on phony people. He was a terror to those who indulge in double-talk or false pretenses)! because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men (this does not mean “eternal life” because they had no power over that. It means “discovering the truth” in this context), for you do not enter in (the truth) yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering (finding out the truth) to go in. (14) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites (actors), because you devour widow’s houses (they took advantage of the helpless for monetary gain); even while for a pretense you make long prayers (making the widows believe they were above the love of money); therefore you shall receive greater condemnation. (15) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites (actors)! because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte (a Gentile convert to their particular sect of Judaism); and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves (they not only retained some of their former pagan ideas, but the Pharisees added their errors to it. As a result, they were sometimes more vicious to the truth than the Pharisees). (16) Woe to you, blind guides, who say ‘Whoever swears (to do something) by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold (the gifts given) of the temple, he is obligated’ (if you swore to give a gift to the temple, you were obligated. This showed their covetousness). (17) You fools and blind men, which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold (it was the temple, of course, because the gold was given for the service of the temple. Whatever holiness the gold had came from the temple)? (18) And, ‘Whoever swears (to do something) by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering (korban) upon it, he is obligated.’ (19) You blind men, which is more important, the offering or the altar that sanctifies the offering (see verse 17)? (20) Therefore he who swears, swears by both the altar and everything upon it. (21) And he who swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by him who dwells within it. (22) And he who swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. (23) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin (something that neither the Torah or the oral law said to do, but they could if they wanted to) and have neglected the weightier provisions of the Torah; justice and mercy and faithfulness, but these are things you should have done without neglecting the others (if you felt obligated to tithe these). (24) You blind guides, who strain out a gnat (from their food or drinks in order to not eat anything unkosher-Lev 11.41) and swallow a camel (in other words, they were over-scrupulous about small things and were not over larger issues). (25) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean outside of the cup and of the dish (outward observances according to their traditions-Mark 7.4) but inside (the inner man) they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. (26) You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish (inner purity), so that the outside of it may become clean also (external purity must be consistent with inner purity). (27) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs (they did this to decorate a tomb, and also before the festivals, they did this so that travelers would recognize it as a tomb and not enter into it to escape bad weather or to stay overnight, thus defiling themselves from entering the temple) which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. (28) Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Torah-less). (29) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! (this is the seventh time, and last=complete). For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, (30) and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets’ (in 20 BC members of Beit Hillel were killed before passing the 18 Edicts of the school of Shammai. Those killed were called ‘prophets’ in the Talmud. Yeshua is referring back to this incident involving the Pharisees from Shammai) (31) Consequently you bear witness against yourselves that you are sons (by this time they were the sons of those involved in fhe killing of the members of the school of Shammai 50 years earlier) of those who murdered the prophets (Pharisees from Shammai were already plotting against Yeshua and will help murder him. Many today would not recognize Yeshua or the truth because they are immersed in replacement theology and persecute those who follow a Torah-observant lifestyle and reject the truth just like the scribes and the Shammai Pharisees did). (32) Fill up the measure of your fathers (they had not got to the end of their iniquity yet, just like the Amorites in Gen 15.16. Their fathers persecuted the prophets, but the measure will be filled when they murder the Messiah). (33) You serpents, you brood of vipers (these kill with their mouth, are venomous, crafty and subtle), how shall you escape the sentence of hell (how can you escape it, where are you going to go)? (34) Therefore, behold, I (notice he says “I”) am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes (they will be sent after his resurrection leading up to 70 AD), some of them you will kill (like Stephen) and crucify (like Simeon, the son of Cleophas), and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues (like John, Peter and Paul), and persecute from city to city (like they did to Paul and Barnabas), (35) that upon you may fall all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel (the first killed in the Tanach) to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah (this is Zechariah ben Jehoida in 2 Chr 24.20-22, and he was the last of the righteous men whose death is told in the Tanach. As concerning the difference in names, “Jehoida” means “praise the Lord” and “Berechiah” means “bless the Lord” and is basically the same name. Also, the father of Zechariah may have had two names, which was common. For example, Eliakim was also known as Jehoikim-2 Chr 36.4. Solomon had at least three names; Solomon, Yedidyah-2 Sam 12.25 and Kohelet- Ecc 1.1), whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. (36) Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation (and it did. Rome encircled the city exactly 40 years later). (37) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling (in other words, he would have gathered them under his ministry and prevented the coming judgment). (38) Behold, your house is left to you desolate (the Lord is leaving the temple and the city. In Ezek 8 through 10, Babylon is coming. The Shekinah, who in Jewish thought is called “the Holy Bird”, departs from the temple and city because the enemy was coming and the city and temple would be destroyed, and the people were going into exile. It was going to happen again, they were going to be evicted. The reason is the same as Jer 11.15-16)! (39) For I say to you, from now on you shall not see me (his departure is the reason the temple and city is desolate, and relates to the fig tree in Matt 21.19) until you say ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament, Verse-by-Verse Bible Studies

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