Friend In Need Simile

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Is God asleep, oblivious to our prayers? Is he a grouch, unwilling to respond to our pleas? In the Friend in Need simile Jesus instructed his disciples that the grounds for confident prayer is the character of their good and trustworthy God.

Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:5-10
(Huck 38, 147, 148; Aland 70, 186, 187; Crook 53, 211, 212)[1]

Revised: 12-February-2019

וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם מִי בָּכֶם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ אוֹהֵב וְיֵלֵךְ לוֹ בַּחֲצוֹת הַלַּיְלָה וְיֹאמַר לוֹ אוֹהֲבִי הַשְׁאִילֵנִי שָׁלוֹשׁ כִּכְּרוֹת לֶחֶם הֲרֵי אוֹהֲבִי בָּא אֵלַי מִן הַדֶּרֶךְ וְאֵין לִי מָה אָשִׂים לְפָנָיו וְהוּא מִבַּיִת יַעֲנֶה וְיֹאמַר אַל תָּבֵא עָלַי צָרוֹת כְּבָר נִנְעֶלֶת הַדֶּלֶת וִילָדַי עִמִּי בַּמִּטָּה אֵינִי יָכוֹל לִיתֵּן לְךָ אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא יִתֵּן לוֹ מֵאַהֲבָתוֹ מִפְּנֵי חוּצְפָּתוֹ יָקוּם וְיִתֵּן לוֹ מַה שֶּׁהוּא צָרִיךְ וַאֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם שַׁאֲלוּ וְיִנָּתֵן לָכֶם בַּקְּשׁוּ וְתִמְצְאוּ הַרְתִּיקוּ וְיִפָּתַח לָכֶם שֶׁכָּל הַשּׁוֹאֵל מְקַבֵּל וְכָל הַמְּבַקֵּשׁ מוֹצֵא וּלְכָל הַמַּרְתִּיק נִפְתָּח

He also said to them, “Which of you, if a friend came to you at midnight and said, ‘Friend, be so kind as to lend me three loaves of bread, since a friend of mine has returned from a journey, but I don’t have anything to serve him!’ would say from inside the house, ‘Don’t come to me with your troubles! My door is already shut and my children are here in bed with me. I can’t give you what you need!’? Not one of you would behave that way!

“I tell you: Even if there was such a boor who would behave that way, even if he wouldn’t help his friend because of their mutual friendship, yet because of his friend’s brazenness he’d end up giving him everything he needs.

“Therefore, I tell you: Ask, and God will give to you. Search for him, and you will find God. Knock on his door, and God will open it to you. Because everyone who asks God receives, and everyone who searches for God finds him, and to everyone who knocks God opens his door wide.”[2]





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Story Placement

The Gospel of Luke presents the Friend in Need simile as a commentary on the Lord’s Prayer. We believe that the placement of the Friend in Need simile in Luke reflects the position of this pericope in Luke’s source, the Anthology (Anth.), from which the author of Luke copied nearly the entire “How to Pray” complex en bloc.[3]

The author of Matthew omitted all but the conclusion of the Friend in Need simile, with the result that many scholars regard the “Ask, Seek and Knock” saying (Matt. 7:7-8 // Luke 11:9-10) as an independent logion. Despite the false impression of independence made by Matthew’s editorial decision to preserve only the Friend in Need simile’s conclusion, the themes and vocabulary of the “Ask, Seek and Knock” saying fit so precisely with Friend in Need and interpret the simile so perfectly that we are convinced that the author of Luke correctly preserved the placement and the purpose of the “Ask, Seek and Knock” saying as the conclusion of the Friend in Need simile.[4]

For an overview of the entire “How to Pray” complex, which we believe was the original literary setting of the Friend in Need simile, click here.

Click here to view the Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua. __________________________________________________________________

Conjectured Stages of Transmission

The portion of Friend in Need that appears in Matthew agrees so closely with Luke’s version that Matt. 7:7-8 // Luke 11:9-10 must be classified as Type 1 Double Tradition (DT). Robert Lindsey believed that the high verbal identity that distinguishes Type 1 from Type 2 DT material was the result of the authors of Luke and Matthew having both copied the Type 1 material from the same source, namely the Anthology (Anth.). Lindsey attributed the verbal disparity of Type 2 DT pericopae to instances when the author of Matthew relied upon Anth., whereas the author of Luke relied upon the First Reconstruction (FR), a paraphrase of Anth.’s material into more polished Greek. Given the evidence that the author of Luke copied the conclusion of the Friend in Need simile (Matt. 7:7-8 // Luke 11:9-10) from Anth., it follows that he copied the rest of the pericope from the same source.[5]

Crucial Issues

    1. How many friends are there in the simile, and with which one of them are the listeners supposed to identify?
    2. Who is the bad friend in the simile: the annoying person pounding at the door at midnight, or the man in bed too lazy to get up to lend a helping hand?
    3. In what way is God like the unwilling friend?
    4. How can Jesus promise, “Ask and it will be given to you,” when we all know about prayers that have gone unanswered?


L1 καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς (GR). It is a curious fact that in the New Testament the construction καὶ εἶπεν/εἶπαν πρός + accusative (“and he/she/they said to X”) occurs only in Luke-Acts.[6] The more usual phrase in NT is καὶ εἶπεν/εἶπαν + dative (“and he/she/they said to X”), without a preposition. Nevertheless, καὶ εἶπεν/εἶπαν πρός + accusative occurs in some of Luke’s most Hebraic material (e.g., the Infancy Narratives), and therefore we suspect that the author of Luke copied this grammatical feature from his source (Anth.) rather than introducing it himself.

וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם (HR). On reconstructing καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς (“and he said to them”) as וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם (“and he said to them”), see “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves,” Comment to L40-41.

L2 מִי בָּכֶם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ אוֹהֵב (GR). On reconstructing τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν (“Who from you?”) as מִי בָּכֶם (“Who in you?”), see Tower Builder and King Going to War, Comment to L1, and compare Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, L12, and Fathers Give Good Gifts, L1-2.

On reconstructing ἔχειν (echein, “to have”) with יֵשׁ (yēsh, “there is”), see Tower Builder and King Going to War, Comment to L4.

On reconstructing φίλος (filos, “friend”) as אוֹהֵב (’ōhēv, “friend,” “beloved”) see Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, Comment to L27-28. Initially we considered whether it would be preferable to reconstruct φίλος as חָבֵר (ḥāvēr, “friend,” “fellow,” “associate”) in the Friend in Need simile, since the relationship between the man in bed and the man in need seems less fraternal than אוֹהֵב implies.[7] But the contrary-to-expectations tension created by the designation אוֹהֵב, and the less-than-friendly response of the man in bed, fit the intentional absurdity of the simile.

L3 וְיֵלֵךְ לוֹ בַּחֲצוֹת הַלַּיְלָה (HR). Note the pointing of the first verb, וְיֵלֵךְ (veyēlēch, “and he will go”), which is not a vav-consecutive, since we prefer to reconstruct direct speech in a style resembling MH.[8]

On reconstructing πορεύεσθαι (porevesthai, “to go”) with הָלַךְ (hālach, “walk,” “go”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L2.

We have reconstructed μεσονύκτιον (mesonūktion, “midnight”) as חֲצוֹת הַלַּיְלָה (atzōt halaylāh, “the middle of the night,” “midnight”), even though in LXX μεσονύκτιον more frequently translates חֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה (atzi halaylāh, “the middle of the night,” “midnight”),[9] because in MH the phrase חֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה became obsolete.

In rabbinic sources חֲצוֹת (atzōt) can refer either to midday or midnight, as the following examples demonstrate:

שָׁלוֹשׁ הָבְּעָיוֹת בַּיּוֹם בַּשַּׁחַר וּבַחֲצוֹת וּבַמִּנְחָה

Three entries per day: at dawn, and at midday [וּבַחֲצוֹת], and at the time for the evening offering. (m. Peah 4:5)

בשלשה פרקים כהנים נושאין כפיהן ארבעה פעמים ביום בשחר בחצות במנחה ובנעילה

On three occasions [during the year—DNB and JNT] the priests lift up their hands four times in a day: at dawn, at midday [בחצות], at the time for the evening offering, and at the locking [of the Temple’s gates]. (t. Taan. 3:1; Vienna MS)

ויחלק עליהם לילה א″ר תנחומא [אמר הקב″ה אביהם] יצא בחצות ואני יוצא עם בניו בחצות

And he divided [his men] against them by night [Gen. 14:15]. Rabbi Tanhuma said: “[The Holy one, blessed be he, said, ‘Their father] went out at midnight [בחצות], so I am going out with his sons at midnight [בחצות].’” (Pesikta Rabbati 17:5 [ed. Friedmann, 86b-87a])

Thus, although we could have reconstructed μεσονύκτιον in Luke 11:5 simply as בַּחֲצוֹת instead of בַּחֲצוֹת הַלַּיְלָה, we have preferred the more explicit phrase for HR, since otherwise it would not be immediately clear to readers or listeners whether midnight or midday was intended. Without specifying midnight with בַּחֲצוֹת הַלַּיְלָה in L3 (Luke 11:5) it would not be until L13 (Luke 11:7) that it became apparent that the scenario took place at night.

L4 וְיֹאמַר לוֹ (HR). Again, note that we have avoided the vav-consecutive in our reconstruction.

A loaf of bread and two figs on a shelf in a first-century C.E. Roman fresco from Pompeii. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L5 אוֹהֲבִי הַשְׁאִילֵנִי שָׁלוֹשׁ כִּכְּרוֹת לֶחֶם (HR). The address φίλε (file, “Friend!”) is not found in LXX, nor is it common in the Gospels. The two instances of the vocative φίλε occur in Luke (Luke 11:5; 14:10). We have been unable to identify examples in rabbinic sources of אוֹהֲבִי (’ōhavi, “my friend”) used as an address.[10] Nevertheless, אוֹהֲבִי (“My friend!”) does not strike us as an unnatural reconstruction of φίλε. Note the addition of the pronominal suffix. We have found that the possessive pronoun was often dropped when vocatives were translated from Hebrew to Greek.[11]

Of the three instances of κιχρᾶν (kichran, “to lend”) in LXX, it represents הִשְׁאִיל (hish’il, “lend”) in 1 Kgdms. 1:28, הִלְוָה (hilvāh, “lend”) in Ps. 111:5, and lacks a Hebrew equivalent in Prov. 13:11. We have chosen to reconstruct κιχράναι (kichranai, “to lend”) with הִשְׁאִיל, in part because we have found numerous rabbinic examples of requests for the loan of an object with the verb הִשְׁאִיל (see below), and in part because the root שׁ-א-ל recurs in L22 (Matt. 7:7; Luke 11:9) and L26 (Matt. 7:8; Luke 11:10).

Examples of the request הַשְׁאִילֵנִי (hash’ilēni, “Lend me…”) include the following:

אָמַ′ לוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי פָּרָתָךְ

If he said to him, “Lend me [הַשְׁאִילֵנִי] your cow”…. (m. Ned. 4:6)

האומר לחבירו השאילני ואשאילך

The one who says to his fellow, “Lend to me [השאילני], and I will lend to you”…. (t. Bab. Metz. 7:19; Vienna MS)

האומר לחבירו השאילני חלוקך

The one who says to his fellow, “Lend me [השאילני] your cloak….” (t. Bab. Metz. 8:28; Vienna MS)

רוח הקדש שרתה על ישראל והיה אומר השאילני כליך המונח לך במקום פלוני והוא מוציא ונותן לו

The Holy Spirit rested on Israel, and so he [i.e., an Israelite—DNB and JNT] would say, “Lend me [השאילני] your item that is resting in a certain place,” and he [i.e., the Egyptian—DNB and JNT] would bring it out and give it to him. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 13 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:73])

אמר לו השאילני מגלך ולא השאילו למחר אמר לו השאילני קרדומך אמר לו איני משאילך כשם שלא השאלת לי מגלך

…he said to him, “Lend me [השאילני] your sickle,” but he did not lend it. The next day he [who had refused to lend the sickle] said to him [whom he had refused], “Lend me [השאילני] your mattock.” He said to him, “I am not lending to you, just as you did not lend your sickle to me.” (Sifra, Kedoshim chpt. 4 [ed. Weiss, 89b])

אדם או′ לחבירו השאיליני קב חטים

A person said to his fellow, “Lend me [השאיליני] a kav [a Hebrew measure of dry goods—DNB and JNT] of wheat”…. (Lev. Rab. 17:2 [ed. Margulies, 1:373])

While requesting the loan of foodstuffs may sound odd to English speakers, like asking to borrow a match, this was not the case in MH, as we see from the following mishnah:

שׁוֹאֵל אָדָם מֵחֲבֵירוֹ כַּדֵּי יַיִן וְכַדֵּי שֶׁמֶן וּבִלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמָר לוֹ הַלְוֵינִי וְכֵן אִשָּׁה מֵחֲבֶרְתָּהּ כִּיכָּרוֹת

[On the Sabbath] a person may ask to borrow from his fellow jars of wine or jars of oil, so long as he does not say to him, “Lend to me [on agreed upon terms for repayment—DNB and JNT].” So, too, a woman [may ask to borrow] from her fellow loaves [of bread]. (m. Shab. 23:1)

The above mishnah permits the borrowing of these items so long as there is not a formal arrangement for repayment.[12] This kind of informal request to “borrow” foodstuffs is exactly what we would expect in the Friend in Need simile, and supports our reconstruction of χρῆσόν μοι with הַשְׁאִילֵנִי.

The above mishnah also supports our reconstruction of ἄρτος (artos, “bread”) with כִּכַּר לֶחֶם (kikar leḥem, “loaf of bread”).[13] In LXX ἄρτος alone sometimes translates כִּכַּר לֶחֶם.‎[14] Our main reason for preferring שָׁלוֹשׁ כִּכָּרוֹת (“three loaves”) for HR is that we find this phrase in Hebrew sources, whereas examples of שְׁלשָׁה לְחָמִים (“three breads”) are lacking.[15] Examples of כִּכַּר לֶחֶם in MH are found in the following rabbinic texts:

כדי שתושיט ידה ותיטול ככר לחם מן הסל

…in order for her to put out her hand and take a loaf of bread [ככר לחם] from the basket. (y. Sot. 1:2 [4a])

אלמלי הלווהו יהונתן לדוד שתי ככרות לחם לא נהרגה נוב עיר הכהנים

If only Jonathan had lent David two loaves of bread [ככרות לחם], Nob, the city of priests, would not have been massacred. (b. Sanh. 104a)

A doorway in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Photographed in 2001 by Joshua N. Tilton.

L6 ἰδοὺ φίλος μου παρεγένετο (GR). Here in L6 we encounter the first possible change the author of Luke made to the Friend in Need simile. The conjunction ἐπειδή (epeidē, “since,” “because”) does not occur in the Synoptic Gospels except for two instances in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 7:1; 11:6). In Acts ἐπειδή occurs three more times (Acts 13:46; 14:12; 15:24). It is possible that Luke inserted ἐπειδή as a more polished Greek substitute for an interjection such as ἰδού (idou, “Behold!”). A synoptic analysis shows that in Triple Tradition (TT) and in Matthean-Lukan DT Luke often omits ἰδού where it is present in Matthew,[16] which might indicate that the author of Luke did not always copy ἰδού when he found it in his source. In LXX ἐπειδή is the translation of הִנֵּה (hinēh, “Behold!”) in Gen. 18:31 and 19:19, and of הֵן (hēn, “Behold!”) in Gen. 15:3.[17] These examples provide some precedent for ἐπειδή where we might have expected ἰδού,[18] and serve as the basis for our Greek reconstruction.

הֲרֵי אוֹהֲבִי בָּא (HR). Above, we noted that הִנֵּה is the usual Hebrew word behind instances of ἰδού in LXX. We, however, have adopted הֲרֵי (ha, “Behold!”) for the reconstruction of ἰδού, since in MH הֲרֵי supplanted הִנֵּה in everyday speech.

On reconstructing φίλος with אוֹהֵב, see above, Comment to L2.

Behind the vast majority of instances of παραγίνεσθαι (paraginesthai, “to come”) in LXX stands the Hebrew verb בָּא (bā’, “come”).[19]

L7 אֵלַי מִן הַדֶּרֶךְ (HR). On reconstructing ὁδός (hodos, “road,” “way”) with דֶּרֶךְ (derech, “way,” “journey”), see Sending the Twelve: Conduct on the Road, Comment to L52. The phrase בָּא מִן הַדֶּרֶךְ (bā’ min haderech, “come from the road”), which we have in HR L6-7, also occurs in rabbinic literature, where it serves as an idiom for “return from a journey.” For instance:

כָּל הַנָּשִׁים בְּחֶזְקַת טַהֲ{ו}רָה לְבַעְלֵיהֶן הַבָּאִין מִן הַדֶּרֶךְ

All wives are presumed to be ritually pure to their husbands who are coming from the road [i.e., returning from a journey—DNB and JNT]. (m. Nid. 2:4)[20]

ארבעה דברים קשה להם תשמיש המטה הבא מן הדרך

Under four conditions making use of the bed [i.e., copulation—DNB and JNT] is difficult [i.e., inadvisable—DNB and JNT]: For the one who comes from the road [i.e., returns from a journey—DNB and JNT]…. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 41:7 [ed. Schechter, 132])

אמ′ ר′ לוי דרך ארץ היא הבא מן הדרך מקדימין אתו במאכל ובמשתה

Rabbi Levi said, “It is proper conduct that for one who comes from the road [i.e., returns from a journey—DNB and JNT] they provide him with food and drink.” (Lev. Rab. 34:8 [ed. Margulies, 2:786])

The last of these examples is of importance not only for the verbal parallel; it is useful for understanding the cultural context of the Friend in Need simile as well. Rabbi Levi—and we may assume that he was not alone in this opinion—regarded providing food and drink for wayfarers who come in from the road as basic to proper conduct (דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ, derech ’eretz), something that ought to be expected even of Gentiles.[21] Scholars are correct to point out that the man’s reluctance to help his friend provide for the wayfarer would have been regarded as exceedingly rude.[22]

Note that we have adopted a word order for HR that deviates from the Greek with respect to the placement of אֵלַי (’ēlai, “to me”). Whereas Luke places the prepositional phrase πρός με (“to me”) after ἐξ ὁδοῦ (“from the road”), normal Hebrew syntax demands that אֵלַי come between the verb בָּא (“come”) and מִן הַדֶּרֶךְ (“from the road”), as we see in this similarly-crafted sentence:

אמר שמעון הצדיק מימי לא אכלתי אשם נזיר טמא חוץ מאדם אחד שבא אלי מן הדרום

Shimon the Righteous said, “In all my days I never ate the guilt offering of an impure Nazirite, except for one person who came to me from the south….” (b. Naz. 4b)

Note that the phrase בָּא אֶל also occurs in the reconstruction of the Persistent Widow parable (L9), one of many verbal links between these twin illustrations.

L8 וְאֵין לִי מָה אָשִׂים לְפָנָיו (HR). Reconstructing καὶ οὐκ ἔχω ὃ παραθήσω αὐτῷ (“and I have nothing that I will set before him”) presents no great difficulty. In LXX οὐκ ἔχειν is used to translate לְ- + אֵין + pronominal suffix on several occasions.[23] In rabbinic sources we encounter the expressions אֵין לוֹ מַה לֹאוכַל (“he has nothing to eat”; m. Moed Kat. 2:4) and אֵין לוֹ מַה יֹאכַל (“he has nothing he will eat”; m. Moed Kat. 3:4; m. Ned. 4:7, 8; 5:6), which are similar to our reconstruction. We also encounter the expression וְאֵין לִי מָה אָשִׁיב (“and I have nothing that I can reply”; m. Kel. 13:7; m. Tev. Yom 4:6), which is a perfect grammatical parallel to καὶ οὐκ ἔχω ὃ παραθήσω (“and I have nothing that I can set”). The verb with which to reconstruct παρατιθέναι (paratithenai, “to set before”) was the only decision that required us to select among a variety of choices. We considered נָתַן (nātan, “give”) as a good runner-up (cf. Gen. 18:8), but שָׂם (sām, “set,” “place”) is frequently rendered παρατιθέναι in LXX, especially in contexts describing the serving of bread, for instance:

וְאָשִׂמָה לְפָנֶיךָ פַּת לֶחֶם

And let me set before you a piece of bread. (1 Sam. 28:22)

καὶ παραθήσω ἐνώπιόν σου ψωμὸν ἄρτου

And I will set before you a piece of bread. (1 Kgdms. 28:22)

שִׂים לֶחֶם וָמַיִם לִפְנֵיהֶם וְיֹאכְלוּ וְיִשְׁתּוּ וְיֵלְכוּ אֶל אֲדֹנֵיהֶם

Set bread and water before them, so that they may eat and drink and go to their lord. (2 Kgs. 6:22)

παράθες ἄρτους καὶ ὕδωρ ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν, καὶ φαγέτωσαν καὶ πιέτωσαν καὶ ἀπελθέτωσαν πρὸς τὸν κύριον αὐτῶν

Set bread and water before them, and let them eat and drink and depart to their lord. (4 Kgdms. 6:22)[24]

Since in Friend in Need it is precisely bread that the friend asks to borrow, that he might set it before his visitor, no other verb seems more appropriate than שָׂם.

Illustration of a man dreaming in bed from an early fifteenth-century C.E. manuscript of the medieval poem Roman de la Rose by the French poets Guillaume de Lorris (ca. 1230) and Jean de Meun (ca. 1275). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L9 κἀκεῖνος ἔσωθεν ἀποκριθεὶς εἴπῃ (GR). The compound word κἀκεῖνος (kakeinos, “and that [one]”) is rare in LXX, as is καὶ ἐκεῖνος (kai ekeinos, “and that [one]”).[25] Nevertheless, we cannot rule out the possibility that the author of Luke copied κἀκεῖνος in L9 from Anth., since there is one instance of κἀκεῖνος in a Matthean-Lukan DT pericope (Matt. 23:23 // Luke 11:42), which establishes that κἀκεῖνος definitely occurred in Anth. at least once, and perhaps more often. Since κἀκεῖνος can easily be reconstructed as וְהוּא (vehū’, “and he”), we have retained κἀκεῖνος in GR.

וְהוּא מִבַּיִת יַעֲנֶה וְיֹאמַר (HR). In LXX the adverb ἔσωθεν (esōthen, “from within”) is often the translation of מִבַּיִת (mibayit, “from [the] house,” “inside”), as we see in the following example:

וְצִפִּיתָ אֹתוֹ זָהָב טָהוֹר מִבַּיִת וּמִחוּץ תְּצַפֶּנּוּ

And you must overlay it with pure gold, inside [מִבַּיִת] and outside you must overlay it. (Exod. 25:11)

καὶ καταχρυσώσεις αὐτὴν χρυσίῳ καθαρῷ, ἔξωθεν καὶ ἔσωθεν χρυσώσεις αὐτήν

And you must gild it with pure gold, from without and from within [ἔσωθεν] you must gild it. (Exod. 25:11)[26]

We have not found that מִבַּיִת continued to be used as a preposition in MH, but even so, מִבַּיִת (“from [the] house”) makes good sense in the present context and, had it appeared in the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text, could well have been translated with ἔσωθεν.

Since Jesus’ similes represent direct speech, which we prefer to reconstruct in Mishnaic-style Hebrew, we have avoided the vav-consecutive, which had become obsolete in MH, by reconstructing ἀποκριθεὶς εἴπῃ (“answering he might say”) as יַעֲנֶה וְיֹאמַר (“he will answer and he will say”). On reconstructing ἀποκρίνειν (apokrinein, “to answer”) with עָנָה (‘ānāh, “answer”), see Call of Levi, Comment to L56.

L10 אַל תָּבֵא עָלַי צָרוֹת (HR). In Luke the phrase παρέχειν κόπον (parechein kopon, “to present trouble”) occurs only in the Persistent Widow parable (Luke 18:5) and its twin, the Friend in Need simile.[27] The twin illustrations are characterized not only by parallel themes, but also by shared vocabulary.[28] On reconstructing παρέχειν κόπον as הֵבִיא צָרָה (hēvi’ tzārāh, “bring trouble”), see Persistent Widow, Comment to L15.

Scholars have noted that the rudeness of the man in bed is expressed not merely through his lame excuses, but also through his omitting to address the man in need as “friend,” as the petitioner had done in Luke 11:5 (L5).[29]

Doorway to the Gloria Hotel annex on Latin Patriarchate Road, near Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photographed by Joshua N. Tilton in 2006.

L11 כְּבָר נִנְעֶלֶת הַדֶּלֶת (HR). The adverb כְּבָר (kevār, “already”) first appeared in late Biblical Hebrew, being attested in MT only in Ecclesiastes, where LXX usually translated it as ἤδη (ēdē, “already”),[30] and continued to be used in MH.

While BH expressed “close/lock a door” with סָגַר (sāgar)[31] or נָעַל (nā‘al),[32] MH almost always used נָעַל for this purpose.[33] We have accordingly adopted נָעַל for HR. Compare our reconstruction and the response of the man in the simile to the following rabbinic proverb:

דלת הננעלת לא במהרה תפתח

The closed door is not soon opened. (b. Bab. Kam. 80b)

Note that the word order of HR is different from the Greek text, which places the verb after the noun. Our reconstruction follows the word order כְּבָר + verb + subject, which we observe in the following examples:

כְבָר נֶעְשָה הַמַּעֲשֶׂה

…already was done the deed. (m. Eruv. 4:3)

כְּבַר כִּיפְּרוּ הָבְּעָלִים

…already made atonement the owners. (m. Tem. 4:4)

L12 וִילָדַי (HR). We have preferred to reconstruct παιδίον (paidion, “child”) as יֶלֶד (yeled, “child”) rather than בֵּן (bēn, “son”; plur. בָּנִים, bānim, “sons” or “children”) in L12, since in the Fathers Give Good Gifts pericope—which follows Friend in Need in Luke and probably did in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua as well—the term υἱός (huios, “son”) occurs, and we believe it is likely that the translator of the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text attempted to signal by use of παιδίον and υἱός in such close proximity that two different Hebrew words stood behind these terms. Since the word behind παιδίον in LXX is often יֶלֶד, and since יֶלֶד is a suitably generic term for “child” that fits our context, we have adopted this term for HR.[34]

New doorway to the Gloria Hotel annex. Photographed by Joshua N. Tilton in 2016.

L13 עִמִּי בַּמִּטָּה (HR). In LXX κοίτη (koitē, “bed”) is usually the translation of מִשְׁכָּב (mishkāv, “bed”),[35] but we have preferred מִטָּה (miṭāh, “bed”) for HR, even though the LXX translators never rendered מִטָּה as κοίτη.[36] Our decision is based on the examples of עִם + pronominal suffix + בַּמִּטָּה in rabbinic literature, and the complete absence of עִם + pronominal suffix + מִשְׁכָּב in these sources.[37]

Safrai noted that it was not uncommon in ancient times for a husband and wife to share their bed with several young children.[38] A story is told of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (first-second century C.E.), that his sister’s daughter shared a bed with him until she came of age at thirteen years old.[39] Thus, it would probably not have struck Jesus’ audience as unusual to hear that the man’s children were in bed with him. However, they would have regarded the children’s presence in bed with the man as a lame excuse for failing to help his friend.

L14 οὐ δύναμαι δοῦναί σοι (GR). From GR we have eliminated the verb ἀναστῆναι (anastēnai, “to raise,” “to arise”). Three reasons led us to this decision:

    1. Lindsey noted that ἀναστῆναι belonged to Luke’s preferred vocabulary, and that, apart from one instance (Matt. 12:41 // Luke 11:32), there is no Matthean-Lukan agreement to write ἀναστῆναι unless ἀναστῆναι also appears in Mark.[40] Thus, there is an a priori likelihood that any given instance of ἀναστῆναι in Luke is redactional.
    2. In L19 (Luke 11:8) a different verb for “to arise,” ἐγείρειν (egeirein), occurs. Since the same Hebrew verb, קָם (qām, “arise”), is the most suitable verb for reconstructing both ἀναστῆναι and ἐγείρειν, we have to ask ourselves why the Greek translator of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua would have translated the same Hebrew verb with two different Greek verbs in the same pericope. Our answer to this question is that this did not happen. The Greek translator found קָם in the Friend in Need simile only once, at L19, which he translated as ἐγείρειν. The presence of ἀναστῆναι in L14 and L16 is probably an addition made by the author of Luke.
    3. Removing ἀναστῆναι sharpens the focus on giving, which is the point of the simile, which can be stated as: If even a boor will give what is needed when he is pestered into doing so, how much more will God give when you ask? The point of comparison between the boorish man and God is giving, not rising, and therefore the emphasis on rising created by the repetition of ἀναστῆναι in L14 and L16 detracts from the focus of the simile.

The author of Luke may have felt that adding “to arise” in L14 and L16 gave the simile greater consistency, but omitting ἀναστῆναι from GR in L14 and L16 yields a more Hebraic (especially in L16, on which, see below) and a more focused simile.

אֵינִי יָכוֹל לִיתֵּן לְךָ (HR). As in Demands of Discipleship (L10, L14 and L19), we have reconstructed οὐ δύνασθαι (ou dūnasthai, “not to be able”) as אֵין + pronominal suffix + יָכוֹל. We have provided a few examples of אֵינִי יָכוֹל (’ēni yāchōl, “I am not able”) below:

חֲכָמִ′ מַתִּירִין לִי מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינִי יָכוֹל לִחְיוֹת אֶלָּא בַיַּיִן

The Sages released me [from my Nazirite vow—DNB and JNT] because I am not able [אֵינִי יָכוֹל] to live without wine. (m. Naz. 2:4)

אֵינִי יָכוֹל לִישָׁן לֹא מִקּוֹל הַנִּכְנָסִין וְלֹא מִקּוֹל הַיּוֹצְאִין

I am not able [אֵינִי יָכוֹל] to sleep because of the sound of those entering and because of the sound of those exiting! (m. Bab. Bat. 2:3)

אֵינִי יָכוֹל לִישָׁן לֹא מִקּוֹל הַפַּטִּישׁ וְלֹא מִקּוֹל הָרֵיחַיִן וְלֹא מִקּוֹל הַתּינוֹקוֹת

I am not able [אֵינִי יָכוֹל] to sleep because of the sound of the hammer and because of the sound of the millstones and because of the sound of the babies! (m. Bab. Bat. 2:3)

לִיתֵּן לְךָ (HR). On reconstructing διδόναι (didonai, “to give”) with נָתַן (nātan, “give”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L18. Note that while in BH the infinitive construct of נָתַן (nātan, “give”) was written לָתֵת (lātēt, “to give”), in MH the infinitive construct was written לִיתֵּן (litēn, “to give”), and, since the Friend in Need simile represents direct speech, we have used Mishnaic-style Hebrew for our reconstruction.

L15 אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם (HR). We reconstructed λέγω ὑμῖν (legō hūmin, “I say to you”) as אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם (ani ’ōmēr lāchem, “I am saying to you”) also in Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, L116, and Blessedness of the Twelve, L10.

L16 εἰ καὶ οὐ δώσει αὐτῷ (GR). On our decision to omit the participle ἀναστὰς (anastas, “rising”) from GR, see our discussion above in Comment to L14. Note, moreover, that from the point of view of Hebrew word order, ἀναστὰς in L16 (Luke 11:8) is out of place. The concession εἰ καὶ (ei kai, “although”) forms a verbal link with the Persistent Widow parable (L13; Luke 18:4).

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא יִתֵּן לוֹ (HR). On reconstructing εἰ καί with אַף עַל פִּי (’af ‘al pi), see Persistent Widow, Comment to L13.

L17 διὰ τὸ εἶναι φίλον αὐτοῦ (GR). Some scholars have noted that the construction διὰ τὸ εἶναι (“on account of being”) is unique to Luke among the Synoptic Gospels,[41] but διὰ τὸ εἶναι occurs once in LXX (Gen. 6:3; and cf. διὰ τὸ μὴ εἶναι in Ezek. 33:28; 34:5), and other examples of διὰ τό + infinitive also occur in LXX,[42] so we cannot exclude the possibility that the author of Luke copied διὰ τό + infinitive from a Hebraic source such as Anth. The probability that he did so increases when we note that one of Luke’s instances of διὰ τὸ εἶναι occurs in the Infancy Narratives (Luke 2:4), which are among Luke’s most Hebraic pericopae.[43] We have therefore found it unnecessary to amend Luke’s text in GR.

מֵאַהֲבָתוֹ (HR). We have chosen to reconstruct Luke’s phrase διὰ τὸ εἶναι φίλον αὐτοῦ (“on account of being his friend”) as מֵאַהֲבָתוֹ (“from his friendship”). The Hebrew preposition מִן (min, “from”) was sometimes used with the sense “because” and “on account of,”[44] and the noun אַהֲבָה (’ahavāh) means both “love” and “friendship.”[45] Moreover, in several cases where the διὰ τό + infinitive construction occurs, the Hebrew preposition מִן stands behind διά (dia, “on account of”).[46] In addition, the phrase מֵאַהֲבָה (mē’ahavāh, “on account of love/friendship”) was commonly used to express motive, as in the following examples:

לֹּא עָבַד אִיּוֹב אֶת הַמָּקוֹם אֶלָּא מֵאַהֲבָה

Job did not serve the Omnipresent one except on account of love [מֵאַהֲבָה]. (m. Sot. 5:5)

ואהבת את ה′ אלהיך, עשה מאהבה, הפריש בין העושה מאהבה לעושה מיראה, העושה מאהבה שכרו כפול ומכופל.‏

And you shall love the LORD your God [Deut. 6:5]: Act on account of love [מאהבה]. He distinguishes between the one who acts on account of love [מאהבה] and the one who acts on account of fear. The one who acts on account of love [מאהבה]: his wage is multiplied many times over. (Sifre Deut. §32 [ed. Finkelstein, 54])

An example of מֵאַהֲבָתוֹ (“on account of his love/friendship”) is found in a rabbinic midrash:

וכן אמר שלמה השבעתי אתכם בנות ירושלים אם תמצאו את דודי מה תגידו לו שחולת אהבה אני, ומה חולי יש כאן, לא מיחוש ראש, ולא מיחוש מעיים, וממה אני חולה, מאהבתו של הקב″ה שנאמר כי חולת אהבה אני

And thus spoke Solomon: I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved you shall tell him that I am lovesick [Song 5:8]. And what sickness do we have here? Not a headache or a stomach ailment. So on account of what am I sick? On account of the love [מאהבתו] of the Holy one, blessed be he, as it is said, for I am lovesick [Song 2:5]. (Midrash Tehilim on Ps. 9:17 [ed. Buber, 46a])

L18 διά γε τὴν ἀναίδειαν αὐτοῦ (Luke 11:8). The only other instance of διά γε (dia ge, “because indeed”) in the Gospels occurs in the Persistent Widow parable (L15; Luke 18:5), twin of the Friend in Need simile.

Some scholars have suggested that ἀναίδεια (anaideia, “shamelessness”) should be understood as referring to the man’s desire to avoid shame.[47] However, Catchpole, drawing on examples from LXX and Josephus, as well as Luke’s own usage, has shown that ἀναίδεια refers to the man’s opinion of the request brought by his friend in need.[48]

מִפְּנֵי חוּצְפָּתוֹ (HR). In Persistent Widow (L15) we reconstructed διά γε as -מִפְּנֵי שֶׁ (mipnē she-, “because that”). Here, where the causal clause consists of a noun instead of a verbal phrase (as in Persistent Widow, L15), the -שֶׁ has been omitted.[49]

We have reconstructed ἀναίδεια as חוּצְפָּה (ḥūtzpāh, “boldness”),[50] a word that is more common in Aramaic than Hebrew, but that was used in Hebrew nonetheless, as we see from the following examples:

בְעִיקִּבוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ חוֹצְפָה יִיסְגֵּי

As the Messiah approaches, brazenness [חוֹצְפָה] will increase. (m. Sot. 9:15)[51]

גור אריה יהודה, מלמד שנתן לו גבורה של ארי וחוצפה של גוריו

A lion’s cub is Judah [Gen. 49:9]: this teaches that he gave him the strength of a lion and the brazenness [וחוצפה] of its cub. (Gen. Rab. 98:7 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 3:1258])[52]

By means of the simile Jesus asked his disciples, “Which of you would deny your friend’s request in such a boorish way?” Their knee-jerk response would have been, “Not me! I would have helped him out in any way I could.” Here, Jesus takes the thought experiment one step further. Wouldn’t even the boorish man eventually give in to his friend’s requests? Of course he would! Even if he failed to act out of friendship, he would certainly act out of self-interest so that the friend would go away and he could get back to sleep. The logic of the simile is based on the presumption that God acts from motives even higher than friendship, so why suspect him of callousness even greater than that of a boorish neighbor?

L19 ἐγερθεὶς δώσει αὐτῷ (GR). In L19 we find the verb ἐγείρειν (egeirein, “to arise”), whereas earlier we encountered the verb ἀναστῆναι (anastēnai, “to raise,” “to arise”) in L14 and L16. We suspect that the change of verbs for “arise” is due to the author of Luke’s editorial activity. We believe that in Luke’s source (Anth.) only the verb ἐγείρειν appeared in the Friend in Need simile, and that only once here in L19. The author of Luke is suspected of having added ἀναστῆναι to L14 and L16 under the influence of ἐγείρειν in L19.

יָקוּם וְיִתֵּן לוֹ (HR). The most common Hebrew verb behind ἐγείρειν (egeirein, “to arise”) in LXX is קָם (qām, “arise”).[53] We have also reconstructed ἐγείρειν as קָם in Widow’s Son in Nain, L15 and L22.

L20 ὅσων χρῄζει (GR). The verb χρῄζειν (chrēzein, “to need”) does not occur in LXX. It does, however, occur in the DT saying in Matt. 6:32 // Luke 12:30, so we know it did occur at least once in Anth., and since there are only two instances of χρῄζειν in Luke’s Gospel and no instances at all in Acts, we know that χρῄζειν was not a verb for which the author of Luke had a special preference. It is therefore unnecessary to attribute the use of χρῄζειν in Luke 11:8 to Lukan redaction, and we have accordingly accepted χρῄζειν in GR.

מַה שֶּׁהוּא צָרִיךְ (HR). In the Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl parables (L7, L14) we reconstructed ὅσος (hosos, “as much as”) with -מַה שֶּׁ (mah she-, “what that”), as we have also done here. The adjective צָרִיךְ (tzārich, “needing”) does not occur in MT, but it is common in MH and even occurs once in DSS (4Q372 1 I, 17). Since we are reconstructing the spoken simile in Mishnaic-style Hebrew, using צָרִיךְ is wholly appropriate.

L21 καὶ λέγω ὑμῖν (GR). In Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L15, we noted that the author of Luke seems occasionally to have changed the word order λέγω ὑμῖν/σοί (“I say to you”) in Anth. to ὑμῖν/σοὶ λέγω (“to you I say”). The opening words of Luke 11:9 appear to be another example of this phenomenon. The author of Matthew omitted the introductory formula to the simile’s application, having already omitted the main body of the simile itself.

וַאֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם (HR). On reconstructing λέγω ὑμῖν as אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם, see above, Comment to L15. Here, the addition of the conjunction -וְ (ve) has the force of “so” rather than “and.” This introductory formula draws out the implications of the simile, which is expressed in a threefold parallelism using key vocabulary and imagery from the foregoing illustration: ask, seek and knock.[54]

A doorway in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Photographed by Joshua N. Tilton in 2006.

L22 ὑμῖν δὲ αἰτεῖτε (Luke 11:9). Codex Vaticanus, which we use as the base text for our reconstruction, adds the extraneous words ὑμῖν δέ (“but you”) at L22.[55] This reading is not supported by other NT MSS and is undoubtedly a scribal addition. We have therefore omitted ὑμῖν δέ from GR.

Apart from the above-noted scribal addition in Vaticanus, L22 marks the beginning of complete verbal agreement between Matthew and Luke for the application of the Friend in Need simile, hence there cannot be any doubt as to the reading of Anth. for the remainder of this pericope. Therefore, GR will require no further comment in this segment of LOY.

שַׁאֲלוּ (HR). A few considerations led to our decision to reconstruct αἰτεῖν (aitein, “to ask”) as שָׁאַל (shā’al, “ask”) in the Friend in Need simile’s application. First, שָׁאַל stands behind most instances of αἰτεῖν in LXX.[56] Second, while שָׁאַל is frequently used in the sense of “ask a question,” we also find שָׁאַל, especially in prayer contexts, in the sense of “make a request.”[57] Third, although בִּקֵּשׁ (biqēsh, “request,” “seek”) is a possible candidate for reconstructing αἰτεῖν, elsewhere we have used בִּקֵּשׁ as the reconstruction of ζητεῖν (zētein, “to seek,” “to search”),[58] the very next verb in this saying, and there is no better reconstruction for ζητεῖν than בִּקֵּשׁ (see below, Comment to L24). Fourth, the pairing of שָׁאַל with נָתַן (nātan, “give”) is a Hebrew commonplace (see below, Comment to L23). Finally, reconstructing αἰτεῖν with שָׁאַל creates a verbal link between the application and the preceding simile (הַשְׁאִילֵנִי in L5; שַׁאֲלוּ in L22; שׁוֹאֵל in L26).

L23 וְיִנָּתֵן לָכֶם (HR). The Lukan-Matthean agreement to use a passive form of διδόναι (didonai, “to give”) is a strong indication that we should employ a nif‘al form of נ-ת-ן. The use of the passive stem in this context is an indirect way of politely referring to divine activity.[59] Compare our reconstruction with נִתַּן in Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven (L5), and the numerous examples of נ-ת-ן in the nif‘al stem cited there in Comment to L5.

Below we have collected several examples of שָׁאַל paired with נָתַן, which were translated in LXX with αἰτεῖν and διδόναι, respectively:

נָתְנוּ לוֹ אֶת הָעִיר אֲשֶׁר שָׁאָל

They gave to him the city that he asked for…. (Josh. 19:50)

καὶ ἔδωκαν αὐτῷ τὴν πόλιν, ἣν ᾐτήσατο

And they gave to him the city, which he asked for…. (Josh. 19:50)

מַיִם שָׁאַל חָלָב נָתָנָה

Water he asked for, milk she gave…. (Judg. 5:25)

ὕδωρ ᾔτησεν αὐτήν, καὶ γάλα ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ

Water he asked of her, and milk she gave to him…. (Judg. 5:25)

אֶשְׁאֲלָה מִכֶּם שְׁאֵלָה וּתְנוּ לִי אִישׁ נֶזֶם שְׁלָלוֹ

Let me ask a request of you, and give me each man an earring of his booty. (Judg. 8:24)

Αἰτήσομαι παρ᾿ ὑμῶν αἴτησιν καὶ δότε μοι ἀνὴρ ἐνώτιον τῶν σκύλων αὐτοῦ

I will ask from you a request, and give me each man an earring of his booty. (Judg. 8:24)

וְגַם אֲשֶׁר לֹא שָׁאַלְתָּ נָתַתִּי לָךְ

And also what you have not asked for I have given to you…. (1 Kgs. 3:13)

καὶ ἃ οὐκ ᾐτήσω, δέδωκά σοι

And what you did not ask for I have given to you…. (3 Kgdms. 3:13)

שְׁאַל מָה אֶתֶּן לָךְ

Ask what I should give to you. (2 Chr. 1:7)

Αἴτησαι τί σοι δῶ

Ask what to you I might give. (2 Chr. 1:7)

שְׁאַל מִמֶּנִּי וְאֶתְּנָה גוֹיִם נַחֲלָתֶךָ

Ask of me, and I will give the Gentiles as your inheritance. (Ps. 2:8)

αἴτησαι παρ᾿ ἐμοῦ, καὶ δώσω σοι ἔθνη τὴν κληρονομίαν σου

Ask of me, and I will give to you the Gentiles as your inheritance. (Ps. 2:8)

חַיִּים שָׁאַל מִמְּךָ נָתַתָּה לּוֹ

Life he asked of you, you gave it to him. (Ps. 21:5)

ζωὴν ᾐτήσατό σε, καὶ ἔδωκας αὐτῷ

Life he asked of you, and you gave it to him. (Ps. 20:5)

L24 בַּקְּשׁוּ וְתִמְצְאוּ (HR). The pairing of בִּקֵּשׁ (biqēsh, “seek”) with מָצָא (mātzā’, “find”) is common in the Hebrew Bible, and in LXX this pairing was generally translated with ζητεῖν (zētein, “to seek”) and εὑρίσκειν (hevriskein, “to find”), as may be observed in the following examples:

וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם מִשָּׁם אֶת יי אֱלֹהֶיךָ וּמָצָאתָ

And you will seek the LORD your God from there, and you will find him. (Deut. 4:29)

καὶ ζητήσετε ἐκεῖ κύριον τὸν θεὸν ὑμῶν καὶ εὑρήσετε

And you will seek the Lord your God there, and you will find him. (Deut. 4:29)

וּבְכָל רְצוֹנָם בִּקְשֻׁהוּ וַיִּמָּצֵא לָהֶם

And with all their will they sought him [i.e., the LORD], and he was found to them. (2 Chr. 15:15)

καὶ ἐν πάσῃ θελήσει ἐζήτησαν αὐτόν, καὶ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς

And in all their will they sought him, and he was found to them. (2 Chr. 15:15)

בִּקֵּשׁ קֹהֶלֶת לִמְצֹא דִּבְרֵי חֵפֶץ

Kohelet sought to find desirable words…. (Eccl. 12:10)

πολλὰ ἐζήτησεν Ἐκκλησιαστὴς τοῦ εὑρεῖν λόγους θελήματος

Ecclesiastes sought diligently to find desirable words…. (Eccl. 12:10)[60]

We also find examples, such as the following verses, where בִּקֵּשׁ paired with מָצָא is translated in LXX with ἐκζητεῖν (ekzētein, “to seek”), a compound of ζητεῖν, and εὑρίσκειν:

וּקְרָאתֶם אֹתִי וַהֲלַכְתֶּם וְהִתְפַּלַּלְתֶּם אֵלָי וְשָׁמַעְתִּי אֲלֵיכֶם׃ וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם אֹתִי וּמְצָאתֶם

And call to me and continue to pray to me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek me and you will find. (Jer. 29:12-13)

καὶ προσεύξασθε πρός με, καὶ εἰσακούσομαι ὑμῶν· καὶ ἐκζητήσατέ με, καὶ εὑρήσετέ με

And pray to me, and I will listen to you, and seek me, and you will find me. (Jer. 36:12-13)

As readers will have noted, some of these (ἐκ)ζητεῖν-בִּקֵּשׁ/εὑρίσκειν-מָצָא pairs pertain to seeking God in prayer (Deut. 4:29; Jer. 29[36]:13; 2 Chr. 15:15).[61]

Lauren Asperschlager (LOY’s copy editor) standing beside a doorway in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photographed by Joshua N. Tilton.

L25 הַרְתִּיקוּ וְיִפָּתַח לָכֶם (HR). The foregoing simile makes the command to knock comprehensible.[62] Divorced from its original context as the application of the Friend in Need simile, the imperative in Matt. 7:7 is somewhat unusual.[63]

The choice of which verb to use for the reconstruction of κρούειν (krouein, “to knock”) was a difficult decision, since Hebrew has a few different verbs for knocking: דָּפַק (dāfaq), a BH term that is also attested in early rabbinic sources (cf., e.g., m. Tam. 1:2); הִרְתִּיק (hirtiq), a MH term not attested in MT; and הִקִּישׁ (hiqish), another MH term not attested in MT (cf., e.g., m. Zav. 4:3).

Of the three instances of κρούειν in LXX (Judg. 19:22; Jdt. 14:14; Song 5:2), only two have counterparts in MT, and in both of these instances the Hebrew root standing behind the Greek verb is ד-פ-ק. The example from Song of Songs is of particular interest, since a rabbinic midrash on this verse uses a different verb for “knock.” The biblical verse reads, “My lover is knocking [דוֹפֵק]: ‘Open to me, my sister…’” (Song 5:2), but in the rabbinic midrash we read the following:

אֲנִי יְשֵׁנָה מִמַּעֲשֵׂה הָעֵגֶל וְלִבִּי עֵר וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַרְתִּיק עָלָי, הֱוֵי וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה; פִּתְחִי לִי אֲחֹתִי רַעְיָתִי עַד מָתַי אֶתְהַלֵךְ בְּלֹא בָיִת; שֶׁרֹּאשִׁי נִמְלָא טָל, אֶלָּא עֲשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ שֶׁלֹא אֶהְיֶה בַּחוּץ

I am asleep [Song 5:2] because of the incident with the golden calf, but my heart is awake [Song 5:2] because the Holy one, blessed be he, is knocking [מַרְתִּיק] at it [when he says] and they will take for me an offering [Exod. 25:2]. Open to me, my sister, my beloved [Song 5:2]. How long will I be walking without a home? For my head is full of dew [Song 5:2]. But make me a sanctuary so that I will not be outside. (Exod. Rab. 33:3 [ed. Merkin, 6:90])

The purpose of the midrash is to show that despite the sin of the golden calf, God was still wooing Israel by instructing Moses about how to present offerings. For our purposes, what is of interest is that whereas the biblical text uses דָּפַק, the midrash uses הִרְתִּיק for “knock.” This variation might indicate that דָּפַק had begun to sound antique to MH speakers.

Another example of הִרְתִּיק is of even greater interest for our inquiry, for it occurs in a rabbinic tradition about prayer, and in addition to “knock” it also contains the words “seek,” “find” and “friend,” key terms that also appear in the Friend in Need simile and its application:

א″ר אמי כל מי שאינו תוכף לגאולה תפילה למה הוא דומה לאוהבו של מלך שבא והרתיק על פתחו של מלך יצא לידע מה הוא מבקש ומצאו שהפליג אף הוא הפליג

Rabbi Ami said, “Everyone who does not join prayer for redemption to the [Amidah] Prayer, to what may he be compared? To a friend of the king who came and knocked at the king’s door. The king went out to find out what he [i.e., the person knocking—DNB and JNT] was seeking, but he found that he had gone away, so he, too,[64] went away.” (y. Ber. 1:1 [6a])

The constellation of images used to describe the same topic—prayer—in this rabbinic tradition and in the Friend in Need simile tipped our decision in favor of הִרְתִּיק for HR.

Another example from rabbinic literature shows הִרְתִּיק paired with a nif‘al form of the root פ-ת-ח, the root that usually stands behind ἀνοίγειν (anoigein, “to open”) in LXX:[65]

דאמ′ ר′ בנייה לעולם ישקיע אדם עצמו במשניות שאם ירתק יפתחו לו

For Rabbi Banayah said, “Let a person always immerse himself in mishnayot, for if he knocks [ירתק], they will be opened [יפתחו] to him.” (Lev. Rab. 21:5 [ed. Margulies, 2:481])[66]

As we noted in connection with δοθήσεται/יִנָּתֵן (“it will be given”) in Comment to L23, here, too, ἀνοιγήσεται/יִפָּתַח (“it will be opened”) are divine passives. A comparable divine passive is found in this midrashic interpretation of Mordecai’s name:

בן קיש שהקיש על שערי רחמים ונפתחו לו

[Mordecai was called] son of Kish because he knocked [הקישׁ] on the gates of mercy, and they were opened [נפתחו] to him. (b. Meg. 12b)

L26 שֶׁכָּל הַשּׁוֹאֵל מְקַבֵּל (HR). On reconstructing πᾶς (pas, “all,” “every”) with כָּל (kol, “all,” “every”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L26. In rabbinic sources it is common to find the construction -שֶׁכָּל הַ + participle used to express the reason for a prior statement.[67] Since justifying the prior assertions of Matt. 7:7 // Luke 11:9 is the intention of Matt. 7:8 // Luke 11:10, and since no closer match for πᾶς γὰρ ὁ + participle can be achieved in Hebrew, we have adopted the -שֶׁכָּל הַ + participle construction for HR.

On reconstructing αἰτεῖν with שָׁאַל, see above, Comment to L22.

We have preferred to reconstruct λαμβάνειν (lambanein, “to take,” “to receive”) with קִבֵּל (qibēl, “receive”) rather than לָקַח (lāqaḥ, “take”), since in late Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew קִבֵּל became the usual verb for “receive.”[68]

L27 וְכָל הַמְּבַקֵּשׁ מוֹצֵא (HR). Despite the absence of πᾶς (pas, “all,” “every”) in L27 and L28, we have added כָּל (kol, “all,” “every”) to HR, since this would be most natural in Hebrew. There is no question whether we ought to add πᾶς to GR in L27 and L28, since πᾶς is absent in Matthew as well as Luke, who were both copying from the same source. It appears, therefore, that the Greek translator of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua preferred not to repeat πᾶς every time he found כָּל in this saying.

On reconstructing ζητεῖν with בִּקֵּשׁ and εὑρίσκειν with מָצָא, see above, Comment to L24.

L28 καὶ τῷ κρούοντι ἀνοίγεται (GR). Some NT MSS have the future tense form ἀνοιγήσεται (anoigēsetai, “it will be opened”) in Matt. 7:8 and/or Luke 11:10.[69] For GR we have accepted Vaticanus’ present tense form ἀνοίγεται (anoigetai, “it is being opened”), which agrees with the present tense of the verbs in L26 and L27.

On reconstructing κρούειν with הִרְתִּיק and ἀνοίγειν with פָּתַח, see above, Comment to L25.

Redaction Analysis

The versions of the Friend in Need simile in Luke and Matthew were drawn from the same source, Anth. Whereas the author of Luke made use of the entire simile, preserving it in its original context, the author of Matthew used only the simile’s application, which he placed in the Sermon on the Mount, the first of five major discourses into which Matthew organized much of his teaching material.

Luke’s Version

The author of Luke faithfully reproduced Anth.’s wording of the Friend in Need simile,[70] making only a few minute changes that do not affect the meaning of the simile. Possible changes introduced by the author of Luke include writing ἐπειδή in L6 in place of an original ἰδού, the addition of the verb ἀναστῆναι to L14 and L16, and writing κἀγὼ ὑμῖν λέγω in L21, a stylistic improvement over a possible original καὶ λέγω ὑμῖν. Not only did Luke remain faithful to Anth.’s wording, he also preserved Anth.’s placement of the Friend in Need simile as part of Jesus’ teaching on prayer.

Matthew’s Version

The wording of the application of the Friend in Need simile in Matthew is identical to that which is found in Luke, showing that Matthew copied the wording of Anth. verbatim.[71] However, by separating the application from its original context, the author of Matthew changed the meaning of the words he otherwise preserved so perfectly. Detached from the Friend in Need simile and removed from Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s Prayer, the author of Matthew has given the impression that “Ask and it will be given to you, etc.” is a universally valid statement, thereby creating logical difficulties for theologians and practical concerns for praying persons whose experience does not tally with an overbroad interpretation of Jesus’ promise.

Results of This Research

1. How many friends are there in the simile, and with which one of them are the listeners supposed to identify? The Friend in Need simile envisions three friends: the man in bed with his children, the friend in need, and the traveler who has returned from a journey.

Greek grammar admits of two interpretations of the simile: from the viewpoint of the friend in need, or from the viewpoint of the man in bed.[72] If the former interpretation is adopted, the simile asks, “If you had an unexpected guest show up at your home, and you found yourself out of bread, what would you do? Would you let your neighbor make lame excuses, or would you continue pestering him until he gave you what you need?”[73] If the latter interpretation is adopted, the simile asks, “If one of your friends woke you up in the middle of the night asking for help, how would you respond?”[74] The former option concludes that the Friend in Need simile teaches persistence in prayer, while the latter option concludes that the Friend in Need simile uses humor to engender confidence in the character of God.

Since either interpretation is grammatically and theologically possible, how does one decide between the two options? Our approach is to compare this simile with the ways in which the other “Which of you…?” similes function.[75] These “Which of you…?” similes include the Lost Sheep simile, the Tower Builder simile, and the Fathers Give Good Gifts simile.[76] In each of these examples Jesus used the “Which of you…?” similes to explain either God’s or his own puzzling actions or attitudes. In each case Jesus invited the listeners to consider how they themselves would act in an analogous situation, with their knee-jerk reactions providing the desired insight into God’s (or his own) seemingly mysterious attitude or behavior.[77] Thus, in response to the question “Why do you eat with toll collectors and sinners?” Jesus responded by saying, “If you had a hundred sheep and one turned up missing, wouldn’t you go looking for it? And when you’d found it, wouldn’t you celebrate with your friends and relations?” Their positive response gave insight into Jesus’ surprising activity. By placing themselves in the sheep owner’s shoes they understood that God is even more concerned about human beings than a sheep owner is about his flock, and that God would want his close friends (i.e., the righteous) to celebrate with him when sinners repent. Likewise, the Fathers Give Good Gifts simile answers the question “How can we trust God to give us good things when we pray?” In response Jesus asked, “If you had a son who asked for something to eat, would you give him a chunk of rock instead?” Their negative response gave insight into God’s character. If even you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your daughters and sons, how much more your Father in Heaven? So, too, in response to the question “How can you turn away willing disciples?” Jesus explained himself by asking, “If you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you check to see you have what it takes to finish before you start laying the foundation?” And the questioners realized Jesus had made a strategic decision: there was no use investing time and effort in training a disciple who lacked the commitment to see his training through to the end.

Given the mechanism by which the other “Which of you…?” similes function, we would expect the Friend in Need simile to explain someone else’s behavior or attitude by inviting the listeners to consider how they themselves would act in an analogous situation. Only by adopting the viewpoint of the man in bed can the Friend in Need simile function in this way.[78] The disciples are invited to consider how God will respond to prayer by imagining how they themselves would respond to a friend in need. Would they act like a boor, telling their friend to go away? Since everyone likes to think the best of themselves, their knee-jerk reaction would be, “Of course not! I would gladly jump out of bed to help my friend out of a predicament!” This insight would help them understand that God could be relied upon to respond to them in an appropriate manner when they prayed.[79]

2. Who is the bad friend in the simile: the annoying person pounding at the door at midnight, or the man in bed too lazy to get up to lend a helping hand? While in present-day western culture the behavior of the “importunate” friend who wakes up his neighbor in the middle of the night to ask for a few pieces of bread might be frowned upon, this would not have been the case among Jesus’ original audience. On the contrary, Jesus’ original audience would have been incensed by the behavior of a boor who could not be bothered to help his friend fulfill one of the highest moral obligations in their culture: offering hospitality to those in need.[80] For Jesus’ audience the behavior of the friend in need would have been regarded as normal and appropriate under the circumstances. His request for help would not have been looked upon with disapproval.

3. In what way is God like the unwilling friend? The only way that God is like the unwilling friend is that, like the boorish man who eventually did give his friend bread when he asked, God also grants the disciples’ request for daily bread when they recite the Lord’s Prayer. The simile is not one of comparison, but of contrast.[81] God isn’t like the boorish man who would rather not help; God is a loving father who takes pleasure in looking after the needs of his daughters and sons. The argument is one of kal vahomer: If even the bad neighbor grants his friend’s request, how much more will God grant the disciples’ request when they pray?[82] The use of an anti-hero to illustrate God’s deeds and God’s attitude toward his people is a rhetorical device that was also employed by the rabbinic sages to hold people’s attention and to draw them into deeper contemplations about the character of God.[83]

4. How can Jesus promise, “Ask and it will be given to you,” when we all know about prayers that have gone unanswered?[84] By detaching the simile’s application from the illustration, and by presenting these words in a new context, the author of Matthew gives the mistaken impression that the promise “Ask and it will be given to you” is universally valid.[85] For a proper understanding of these words, Jesus’ promise must be limited by its original literary and historical contexts. The literary context of the promise was Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s Prayer, as Luke’s Gospel correctly shows. The intention of Jesus’ promise was to give assurance that when someone prays the Lord’s Prayer the petitions included in that prayer will be answered.[86] The historical context of the promise was Jesus’ itinerant mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Jesus made this promise to those who were engaged in the redemptive mission of the Kingdom of Heaven with Jesus. Jesus offered no assurance even to those who recited the Lord’s Prayer that they would receive their daily bread if the one praying had not also given up his livelihood and left home and family behind in order to travel with Jesus. Jesus’ promise was never intended to be understood as a universally valid declaration that no matter what a person asks for in prayer, it will automatically be given. Rather, Jesus’ promise was made to his full-time disciples, that when they prayed the Lord’s Prayer the petitions included therein would be granted.


Jesus used the Friend in Need simile to assure his full-time disciples that God would answer them when they prayed the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. One of their primary concerns must have been the petition for daily bread, since all full-time disciples had given up their professions and means of supporting themselves in order to follow Jesus. The disciples had to ask God to provide for their daily provision, and with this humorous simile Jesus assured them that God would indeed give them what they needed in order to continue serving him for that day.[87] After all, if even a boorish neighbor would help his friend when it became unavoidable, and if the disciples themselves would willingly give to a friend who asked for help, how much more would God answer their prayers, who is far more trustworthy than any friend?

The purpose of the simile, therefore, was not to teach persistence in prayer, it was rather to reinforce Jesus’ understanding of God’s character.[88] By comparing the situation of a friend in need to that of the disciples praying the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus humorously reminded the disciples that God is not liable to human faults and foibles, but could rather be trusted to be good and kind and generous when they approached him in prayer.



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  • [1] For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’
  • [2] This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source.
  • [3] Two changes the author of Luke made to the “How to Pray” complex as it appeared in Anth. were, first, to replace Anth.’s version of the Lord’s Prayer itself with FR’s shorter and more Gentile-friendly version, and second, to remove the Persistent Widow parable from the “How to Pray” complex. Cf. Knox (2:60-61), who conjectured that the authors of Luke and Matthew shared a tract on prayer, which Luke reproduced en bloc, but which Matthew excerpted in the Sermon on the Mount.
  • [4] See also the discussion by David R. Catchpole, “Q and ‘The Friend at Midnight’ (Luke XI.5-8/9),” Journal of Theological Studies 34.2 (1983): 407-424, esp. 413-419.
  • [5] Versions of the conclusion to the Friend in Need simile are also found in the Gospel of Thomas:

    Jesus said: Seek and you will find, but those things which you asked me in those days I did not tell you then; now I desire to tell them, but you do not inquire after them. (Gos. Thom. logion 92; Guillaumont)

    Jesus [said]: Whoever seeks will find [and whoever knocks], it will be opened to him. (Gos. Thom. logion 94; Guillaumont)

    Let him who seeks, not cease seeking until he finds, and when he finds, he will be troubled, and when he has been troubled, he will marvel and he will reign over the All. (Gos. Thom. logion 2; Guillaumont)

    To the last of the above-cited versions may be compared a version quoted from the Gospel of the Hebrews:

    He that seeks will not rest until he finds; and he that has found shall marvel; and he that has marvelled shall reign; and he that has reigned shall rest.

    Cited according to New Testament Apocrypha (ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher; English trans. ed. R. McL. Wilson; 2 vols.; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963-1966), 1:164.

  • [6] Examples of καὶ εἶπεν/εἶπαν πρός + accusative occur in Luke 1:61; 2:34, 48, 49; 3:12; 4:23; 5:10; 8:22; 9:3; 11:5; 19:13; 22:15; 24:32; Acts 7:3; 9:10; 22:21. In Mark there are two examples of καὶ ἔλεγον πρός + accusative (Mark 4:41; 16:3). On Luke’s use of πρός + accusative, see Cadbury, Style, 203.
  • [7] Note, too, the rabbinic examples cited in Comment to L5 in which a person asks his fellow (חָבֵר) for a loan.
  • [8] For more on the lack of vav-consecutives in MH, see Segal, 54 §104, 72 §156.
  • [9] In LXX μεσονύκτιον is the translation of חֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה in Judg. 16:3 (2xx) and Ruth 3:8.
  • [10] Neither have we found vocative uses of חֲבֵרִי (avēri, “my friend”) or יְדִידִי (yedidi, “my friend”). We do, however, find examples of all three labels (חֲבֵרִי ,אוֹהֲבִי and יְדִידִי) when referring to someone in the third person.
  • [11] See our discussion in Lord’s Prayer, Comments to L5 and L10.
  • [12] On the distinction between “asking to borrow” and “asking for a loan” in m. Shab. 23:1, see Blackman, 2:90.
  • [13] In Lord’s Prayer, L16, and Conduct on the Road, L68, we reconstructed ἄρτος simply as לֶחֶם.
  • [14] In LXX ἄρτος is the translation of כִּכַּר לֶחֶם in Exod. 29:23; Judg. 8:5; Prov. 6:26; Jer. 44[37]:21.
  • [15] We find an example of שָׁלוֹשׁ כִּכָּרוֹת in the description שלש ככרות לקב (“three loaves per kav”; b. Ket. 64b). Cf. וְאֶחָד נֹשֵׂא שְׁלֹשֶׁת כִּכְּרוֹת לֶחֶם (“and one bearing three loaves of bread”; 1 Sam. 10:3).
  • [16] See Lindsey, GCSG, 1:440-443.
  • [17] The slightly more common Hebrew word behind ἐπειδή in LXX is יַעַן (ya‘an, “because”; Prov. 1:24; Jer. 25:8; 31[48]:7; 36[29]:31; 42[35]:18; Ezek. 28:6), a term that became obsolete in MH.
  • [18] The most common Hebrew word behind ἰδού in LXX is הִנֵּה. See Hatch-Redpath, 1:673-678.
  • [19] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1056-1057.
  • [20] For a discussion of this halachah, see Tal Ilan, Integrating Women into Second Temple History (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrikson, 2001), 65.
  • [21] On the meaning of the notoriously difficult phrase derech ’eretz, see David Flusser, “‘Which Is the Straight Way That a Man Should Choose for Himself?’ (m. Avot 2.1)” (Flusser, JSTP, 2:232-247).
  • [22] Pace Marshall (465), who supposed the simile “deals with the unreasonableness of the request.”
  • [23] Examples include Song 8:8 (οὐκ ἔχει = אֵין לָהּ); Hos. 8:7 (οὐκ ἔχον = אֵין לוֹ); Amos 3:4 (οὐκ ἔχων = אֵין לוֹ); Ezek. 42:6 (οὐκ εἶχον = אֵין לָהֶן).
  • [24] Additional examples include Gen. 43:31; 1 Kgdms. 21:7; 2 Kgdms. 12:20.
  • [25] In LXX κἀκεῖνος is found 5xx (2 Macc. 1:15; Wis. 18:1; Isa. 57:6 [2xx]; 66:5), while καὶ ἐκεῖνος occurs 6xx (Gen. 6:21; Josh. 3:4; 3 Kgdms. 3:21; Jdt. 9:5; Job 31:15; Sus. 57).
  • [26] Other instances in LXX where ἔσωθεν is the translation of מִבַּיִת are found in Gen. 6:14; Exod. 38[37]:2; Lev. 14:41; 3 Kgdms. 6:15; 7:46[9]; 4 Kgdms. 6:30; Ezek. 7:15; cf. Ezek. 40:9.
  • [27] The two other instances of παρέχειν κόπον in the Synoptic Gospels occur in parallel verses (Matt. 26:10 // Mark 14:6).
  • [28] See Robert L. Lindsey, “Jesus’ Twin Parables.”
  • [29] See T. W. Manson, 267; Jeremias, Parables, 157.
  • [30] The adverb כְּבָר occurs in Eccl. 1:10; 2:12, 16; 3:15 (2xx); 4:2; 6:10; 9:6, 7. In every instance it is translated as ἤδη, except for Eccl. 2:12.
  • [31] See, for example, Gen. 19:6, 10; Judg. 3:23; 2 Kgs. 4:4, 5, 33; 6:32; Isa. 26:20; 45:1; Mal. 1:10; Job 3:10; Eccl. 12:4; Neh. 6:10; 13:19; 2 Chr. 28:24; 29:7. In these verses סָגַר is usually translated in LXX as κλείειν (2 Chr. 28:24; 2 Esd. 16:10; 23:19; Eccl. 12:4)—the verb found in Luke 11:7—or a compound such as ἀποκλείειν (Gen. 19:10; Judg. 3:23; 4 Kgdms. 4:4, 5, 33; 6:32; 2 Chr. 29:7; Isa. 26:20) or συγκλείειν (Job 3:10; Mal. 1:10; Isa. 45:1).
  • [32] See Judg. 3:24; 2 Sam. 13:17, 18. LXX renders נָעַל in these verses as ἀποκλείειν.
  • [33] Note the following MH examples of נָעַל דֶּלֶת:

    נָ{י}עֲלוּ דַלְתוֹת הָעֲזָרָה

    …they closed the doors of the courtyard…. (m. Pes. 5:5)

    כגון פפוס בן יהודה שנעל דלת בפני אשתו ויצא

    …like Papus ben Yehudah who shut/locked the door in his wife’s face and [only then] went out. (t. Sot. 5:9; Vienna MS)

    לא ימיתנו לא במקל ולא בקנה ולא ינעול דלת בפניו בשביל שימות

    He may not kill it with a staff or a reed or close/lock the door before it in order that it should die. (t. Bech. 1:17; Vienna MS)

  • [34] In LXX יֶלֶד is rendered as παιδίον in Gen. 21:8, 14, 15, 16; 30:26; 32:23; 33:1, 2, 5 (2xx), 13; 44:20; Exod. 2:3, 6 (2xx), 7, 8, 9 (2xx), 10; 21:4, 22; Ruth 4:16; 1 Kgdms. 1:2 (2xx); 2 Kgdms. 6:23; 12:15; 3 Kgdms. 3:25; Job 21:11; 39:3; Isa. 8:18; 9:5; 11:7; Jer. 38[31]:20; Lam. 4:10.
  • [35] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:775.
  • [36] See Dos Santos, 110.
  • [37] The combination עִם + pronominal suffix + בַּמִּטָּה is found, for example, in m. Ned. 4:4; m. Git. 8:1; t. Ned. 2:7; Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 16:2 (ed. Schechter, 63). Cf. m. Zav. 4:1, which contains the combination עִם + person + בַּמִּטָּה.
  • [38] See Shmuel Safrai, “Home and Family” (Safrai-Stern, 2:736); and cf. b. Ber. 24a.
  • [39] The story is found in Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 16:2 (ed. Schechter, 63).
  • [40] Lindsey, LHNC, to ἀνίστημι; cf. Lindsey, GCSG, 1:45-47; Hawkins, 35-36.
  • [41] See Bovon, 2:103 n. 40.
  • [42] In LXX διὰ τό + infinitive occurs in Gen. 6:3; Exod. 16:8; 17:7; 19:18; Deut. 1:27, 36; 4:37; 28:55; Josh. 5:7; 14:14; 22:19; Judg. 3:12; 1 Kgdms. 15:20; 22:13; 3 Kgdms. 10:9; 4 Kgdms. 19:28; 1 Chr. 13:10; 2 Chr. 29:36; 1 Macc. 10:42, 77; 14:35; 2 Macc. 2:11; 3:18; 4:19; 8:36; Isa. 5:13; 8:6; 27:11; 36:21; 53:7; 60:15; 63:9; Jer. 7:32; 9:12; 26:19; Ezek. 33:28; 34:5; 35:10.
  • [43] The διὰ τό + infinitive construction occurs in Luke 2:4; 6:48; 8:6; 9:7; 11:8; 19:11; 23:8. It also occurs in Matt. 13:5, 6; 24:12; Mark 4:5, 6.
  • [44] See BDB, 579-580 (meanings 2e and 2f).
  • [45] See Jastrow, 19. An example of אַהֲבָה in the sense of “friendship” is the phrase אַהֲבַת דָּוִד וִיהוֹנָתָן (“the friendship of David and Jonathan”; m. Avot 5:16).
  • [46] Examples in LXX of מִן standing behind διά in the διὰ τό + infinitive construction occur in Deut. 28:55; Isa. 5:13; Jer. 7:32; 26[46]:19; Ezek. 33:28; 34:5.
  • [47] Bailey (1:130-133) argues on the basis of etymology for a meaning of ἀναίδεια—viz., avoidance of shame—that is never attested in Greek literature. As Nolland (Luke, 2:626) noted, Bailey’s solution “is tantamount to saying that there has been a mistranslation into Greek.” Cf. Bovon, 2:103; Snodgrass, 443-444. See further Klyne Snodgrass, “Anaideia and the Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:8),” Journal of Biblical Literature 116.3 (1997): 505-513.
  • [48] See Catchpole, “Q and ‘The Friend at Midnight,’” 409-411; cf. Snodgrass, 444. See also Fitzmyer, 2:912; Young, Parables, 48-49.
  • [49] See Segal, 227 §482.
  • [50] Young (JJT, 173) suggests חָצוּפוֹ (ḥātzūfō) as the Hebrew equivalent of τὴν ἀναίδειαν αὐτοῦ (“his shamelessness”). Against Young’s proposal, however, is the lack of any examples of the passive participle חָצוּף used as a substantive in rabbinic sources.
  • [51] The Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds record this sentence in Aramaic as בעקבות משיחא חוצפא יסגא (y. Sot. 9:15 [46b]; b. Sot. 49b).
  • [52] On the noun חוֹצְפָה in relation to the Friend in Need simile, see now Menahem Kister, “Parables and Proverbs in the Jesus-Tradition and Rabbinic Literature,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 41.1 (2018): 5-28, esp. 15-20.
  • [53] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:364.
  • [54] See Plummer, Luke, 299.
  • [55] On using Vaticanus as the base text for our reconstruction, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction,’” under the subheading “Codex Vaticanus or an Eclectic Text?”
  • [56] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:37-38.
  • [57] Examples of שָׁאַל in the context of prayer include Zech. 10:1; Ps. 122:6; m. Ber. 5:2; m. Taan. 1:2; 3:8.
  • [58] For examples of reconstructing ζητεῖν as בִּקֵּשׁ, see Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, L20 and L44, and Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl, L12.
  • [59] See Davies-Allison, 1:679; Bovon, 2:104.
  • [60] Additional examples include:

    נִמְצְאוּ הָאֲתֹנוֹת אֲשֶׁר הָלַכְתָּ לְבַקֵּשׁ

    The donkeys are found, which you went to seek. (1 Sam. 10:2)

    Εὕρηνται αἱ ὄνοι, ἃς ἐπορεύθητε ζητεῖν

    The donkeys are found, which you went to seek. (1 Kgdms. 10:2)

    וַיְבַקְשֻׁהוּ וְלֹא נִמְצָא

    And they sought him, but he was not found. (1 Sam. 10:21)

    καὶ ἐζήτει αὐτόν, καὶ οὐχ εὑρίσκετο

    And he was seeking him, but he was not being found. (1 Kdgms. 10:21)

    וַיְבַקְשׁוּ וְלֹא מָצָאוּ

    And they sought, but they did not find. (2 Sam. 17:20)

    καὶ ἐζήτησαν καὶ οὐχ εὗραν

    And they sought, but they did not find. (2 Kgdms. 17:20)

    וַיְבַקְשׁוּ שְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים וְלֹא מְצָאֻהוּ

    And they sought three days, but they did not find him. (2 Kgs. 2:17)

    καὶ ἐζήτησαν τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ οὐχ εὗρον αὐτόν

    And they sought three days, but they did not find him. (4 Kgdms. 2:17)

    וָאֲבַקְשֵׁהוּ וְלֹא נִמְצָא

    And I sought him, but he was not found. (Ps. 37:36)

    καὶ ἐζήτησα αὐτόν, καὶ οὐχ εὑρέθη ὁ τόπος αὐτοῦ

    And I sought him, but his place was not found. (Ps. 36:36)

    וְרָאִיתִי אֶת כָּל מַעֲשֵׂה הָאֱלֹהִים כִּי לֹא יוּכַל הָאָדָם לִמְצוֹא אֶת הַמַּעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה תַחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בְּשֶׁל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲמֹל הָאָדָם לְבַקֵּשׁ וְלֹא יִמְצָא

    And I saw all the works of God, that a person is not able to find all the works that have been done under the sun, for although a person may labor to seek, he will not find. (Eccl. 8:17)

    καὶ εἶδον σὺν πάντα τὰ ποιήματα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅτι οὐ δυνήσεται ἄνθρωπος τοῦ εὑρεῖν σὺν τὸ ποίημα τὸ πεποιημένον ὑπὸ τὸν ἥλιον ὅσα ἂν μοχθήσῃ ὁ ἄνθρωπος τοῦ ζητῆσαι, καὶ οὐχ εὑρήσει

    And I saw all the works of God, that a person will not be able to find the work that has been done under the sun; as much as a person might labor to seek, he will not find. (Eccl. 8:17)

    בִּקַּשְׁתִּיו וְלֹא מְצָאתִיו

    I sought him, but I did not find him. (Song 3:1)

    ἐζήτησα αὐτὸν καὶ οὐχ εὗρον αὐτόν

    I sought him, but I did not find him. (Song 3:1; cf. 3:2; 5:6)

    וְרִדְּפָה אֶת מְאַהֲבֶיהָ וְלֹא תַשִּׂיג אֹתָם וּבִקְשָׁתַם וְלֹא תִמְצָא

    And she will pursue her lovers, but not overtake them, and seek them, but she will not find. (Hos. 2:9)

    καὶ καταδιώξεται τοὺς ἐραστὰς αὐτῆς καὶ οὐ μὴ καταλάβῃ αὐτούς· καὶ ζητήσει αὐτοὺς καὶ οὐ μὴ εὕρῃ αὐτούς

    And she will pursue her lovers, but not overtake them, and seek them, but she will not find them. (Hos. 2:9)

    תְּבַקְשֵׁם וְלֹא תִמְצָאֵם

    You will seek them, but not find them…. (Isa. 41:12)

    ζητήσεις αὐτοὺς καὶ οὐ μὴ εὕρῃς

    You will seek them, but may not find…. (Isa. 41:12)

  • [61] For further justification for reconstructing ζητεῖν with בִּקֵּשׁ, see Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl, Comment to L12. And for more on reconstructing εὑρίσκειν with מָצָא, see Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl, Comment to L5.
  • [62] See Bovon, 2:104.
  • [63] The two LXX examples that Catchpole (“Q and ‘The Friend at Midnight,’” 417 n. 35) cited as metaphorical uses of κρούειν (krouein, “to knock”) for petitioning (Judg. 19:22; Song 5:2) in fact refer to literal (i.e., non-metaphorical) knocking.
  • [64] Reading אַף with Jastrow (1175) instead of עוֹד, as in printed editions.
  • [65] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:105-106.
  • [66] A further example of הִרְתִּיק is found in the following aggadic tradition:

    כְּשֶׁנִּגְלָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל הַר סִינַי לֹא הִנִּיחַ אֻמָּה שֶׁלֹּא הִרְתִּיק עָלֶיהָ, וְלֹא קִבְּלוּ עֲלֵיהֶם לְשָׁמְרָהּ

    When the Holy one, blessed be he, revealed himself on Mount Sinai, he did not leave out a single people upon [whose doors] he did not knock [הִרְתִּיק], but they did not receive [the Torah] upon themselves to keep it. (Exod. Rab. 27:9 [ed. Merkin, 6:15])

  • [67] See, for example:

    שֶׁכָּל הַיּוֹצְאִים לְהַצִּיל חוֹזְרִין לִמְקוֹמָן

    For all who go out [on the Sabbath] to deliver [someone from danger] may return to their place. (m. Eruv. 4:3)

    שֶׁכָּל הַמִּתְחַיֵּיב בְּנַפְשׁוֹ אֵין מְשַׁלֵּם מָמוֹן

    For all who are indebted with their life [i.e., who are going to be executed—DNB and JNT] are not required to pay a monetary fine. (m. Ket. 3:2)

    שֶׁכָּל הַמִּתְוַודֶּה יֶשׁ לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא

    For all who confess have a portion in the world to come. (m. Sanh. 6:2)

    שֶׁכָּל הַמֵּלִין אֶת מֵיתוֹ עוֹבֵר עָלָיו בְּלֹא תַעֲשֶׂה

    For all who cause their deceased to remain [unburied] overnight transgress a negative commandment. (m. Sanh. 6:5)

  • [68] On the verb קִבֵּל in late Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew, see Hurvitz, 213-216.
  • [69] On the text critical question, see Plummer, Luke, 299; Metzger, 156-157.
  • [70] Martin, who lumped the application of the Friend in Need simile together with Fathers Give Good Gifts, classified Luke’s version of these pericopae as trending toward those of the “translation Greek” type. See Raymond A. Martin, Syntax Criticism of the Synoptic Gospels (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1987), 92.
  • [71] Note that Martin (Syntax Criticism of the Synoptic Gospels, 92) classified Matthew’s version of the application of Friend in Need and Fathers Give Good Gifts as pericopae of the definitely “translation Greek” type.
  • [72] See Nolland, Luke, 623.
  • [73] Scholars who favor reading the Friend in Need simile from the point of view of the friend in need include Bailey (Poet and Peasant, 125), Marshall (464), Nolland (Luke, 623) and Bovon (2:101).
  • [74] Scholars who favor reading the Friend in Need simile from the point of view of the man in bed include Creed (157), Jeremias (Parables, 158), Young (JJT, 172; Parables, 45) and Snodgrass (442).
  • [75] See Creed, 157.
  • [76] The King Going to War and Lost Coin similes function similarly, but instead of asking, “Which of you…?” these similes ask, “What king would do the following?” and “What woman would not do the following?” respectively.
  • [77] Note that according to Jeremias (Parables, 158), “τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν…in the New Testament regularly introduces questions which expect the emphatic answer ‘No one! Impossible!’ or ‘Everyone, of course!’”
  • [78] Adopting the viewpoint of the friend in need departs from the usual way the “Which of you…?” similes function. Instead of explaining someone else’s action or attitude by imagining oneself in an analogous situation, adopting the perspective of the friend in need would explain to the disciples how they themselves should act by imagining how they would act under comparable circumstances.
  • [79] See Young, JJT, 172.
  • [80] On the role of hospitality in ancient Jewish culture, see Marvin R. Wilson, “Hospitality: Heritage of the Church.”
  • [81] See Snodgrass, 447.
  • [82] See T. W. Manson, 268; Bundy, 345; Beare, 162; Snodgrass, 437, 447.
  • [83] See David Flusser, “Parables of Ill Repute,” who noted that these shocking parables are confined to the Gospel of Luke (cf. Flusser, JOC, 151). Thus we cannot accept Bovon’s suggestion that “the parable has a doctrinal thrust, expressing the goodness of a God who is perhaps asleep, perhaps unhappy, but who nevertheless does not turn away his friends” (2:103). In our view the simile does not imply that God is in any way like the man in bed, except in so far as requests are addressed to them both.
  • [84] Even Jesus prayed that his cup of suffering be taken from him (Matt. 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42), but it was not. Paul was harassed by a “thorn in the flesh,” and he prayed three times for God to remove it, but God did not (2 Cor. 12:7-9).
  • [85] Jeremias (Parables, 159-160; Theology, 191) supposed that the saying “Ask and it will be given to you, etc.” reflects beggars’ wisdom, who know from experience that if they go on asking long enough, they will eventually get what they need. We do not agree that the saying is a comment on how the world generally works. It is rather a saying about the character of God and how he responds when disciples pray the Lord’s Prayer. See Nolland, Matthew, 326 n. 456.
  • [86] Cf. Nolland, Luke, 2:626.
  • [87] See Snodgrass, 448.
  • [88] See Young, Parables, 42; Snodgrass, 448.
  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton grew up in St. George, a small town on the coast of Maine. For his undergraduate degree he studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). There he studied Biblical Hebrew and…
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