The Lord’s Prayer 5: “Thy Kingdom Come” (Part 2)

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Like Jesus, the rabbis made frequent reference to "the Kingdom of Heaven." A familiarity with the way "Kingdom of Heaven" is used in rabbinic literature is essential for understanding its use in the Gospels.

Like Jesus, the rabbis made frequent reference to “the Kingdom of Heaven.” A familiarity with the way “Kingdom of Heaven” is used in rabbinic literature is essential for understanding its use in the Gospels.

A Hebrew benediction which appears quite frequently in rabbinic literature can help us grasp Jesus’ understanding of the Kingdom. In his confession on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest spoke the sacred name of God. When he pronounced that name, the people fell on their faces and cried, “His honorable name is blessed and his Kingdom is for ever and ever” (m. Yoma 6:2). God reigns when his people recognize his kingship.

A passage from the Mishnah links the Kingdom of Heaven to ancient Israel’s affirmation, “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD” (Deut. 6:4). This prayer is known as the  Shema (“Hear”), and occupies a central place in the liturgy of the synagogue.

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To read the next article in this series, click here.