Matthew 5:17: “Destroy” the Law

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When a sage felt that a colleague had misinterpreted a passage of Scripture, he would say, "You are canceling (or, uprooting) the Torah!" In other words, "You are so misinterpreting Scripture that you are negating or canceling part of it." Needless to say, in most cases, his colleague strongly disagreed. What was "canceling" the Torah for one teacher was "fulfilling" it for another.

Revised: 23-Sept-12

The most frequent request we receive from readers is for a new, English translation of the sayings of Jesus based on an understanding of their Hebraic and Jewish background. In an effort to meet that demand, we have launched an attempt to reconstruct a Hebrew Life of Yeshua, which, according to church tradition, was written in Hebrew by Yeshua’s (Jesus’) disciple Matthew. For the portions of text and commentary that have been completed to date, see A Groundbreaking Attempt to Reconstruct the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.”

  • “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (KJV)
  • “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.” (RSV)
  • “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.” (NIV)

Each passage in the Life of Yeshua will be presented in Greek accompanied by a literal English translation, and in Hebrew reconstruction accompanied by three levels of English translations. In this way, the commentary will more fully convey the meaning of the Gospel texts.

From Literal Greek to Dynamic Hebrew

Greek (Codex Vaticanus):
Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὸν νόμον ἢ τοὺς προφήτας οὐκ ἦλθον καταλῦσαι ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι (me nomisete hoti elthon katalysai ton nomon e tous prophetas ouk elthon katalysai alla plerosai).

Literal Translation of the Greek:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fill.”

Conjectured Hebrew Reconstruction:
אל תחשבו שבאתי לבטל את התורה ואת הנביאים לא באתי לבטל אלא לקיים (al takhshevu shebati levatel et hatorah ve-et hanevi’im lo bati levatel ela lekayem).

Literal Translation of the Hebrew Reconstruction:
“Do not think that I have come to cancel the Torah [the five books of Moses] and the Prophets [the second section of the Hebrew canon]. I have not come to cancel, but to sustain.”

Idiomatic Translation of the Hebrew Reconstruction:
“Do not think that I have come to weaken the Torah and the Prophets. I have not come to weaken them, but to strengthen them.”

Dynamic Translation of the Hebrew Reconstruction:
“Do not suppose that I have any intention of undermining Scripture by misinterpreting it. My purpose is to establish and maintain the knowledge and observance of God’s Word not undermine it.”

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Comments 2

  1. I realize the worker is worthy of his hire, yet I must protest for the sake of those that do not have the funds to so much as realize a proper diet, yet are hungry for knowledge, that perhaps you may have to help us understand more completely the life of Christ. Those on Social Security that have that issue…. the funds they receive do not as much cover their basic needs, yet still are seeking knowledge, and when you put a price on this, you shut out those who would seek, as I have said….greater knowledge of the life and times of Christ.

  2. Pingback: Engaged: Clarifying A Few Words (over Mexican Dinner) | Online

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  • 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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