Preserving and Destroying

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Jesus’ Preserving and Destroying saying may play off two different senses of the noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”).

Matt. 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33

(Huck 62, 123, 184; Aland 103, 160, 235; Crook 118, 178, 262, 287)[1]

Updated: 12 April 2023

מִי שֶׁיְּבַקֵּשׁ לְמַלֵּט אֶת נַפְשׁוֹ יְאַבְּדֶהָ וּמִי שֶׁיְּאַבֵּד אֶת נַפְשׁוֹ יְקַיְּמֶהָ

“Whoever wants to preserve his life when the calamity strikes will have to destroy his attachment to possessions, but whoever does forsake his possessions will live to see another day.[2]



A reproduction of our reconstruction in an ancient Hebrew script. Font, based on the Isaiah Scroll from Qumran (1QIsaa), created by Kris Udd.



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In Preserving and Destroying Jesus continued his use of the story of Lot’s flight from Sodom to illustrate how his contemporaries should behave when war with the Roman Empire erupts. According to Jewish tradition, Lot’s hesitation over his belongings nearly proved fatal to himself, his wife and his daughters. From Lot’s example Jesus warned the members of his generation to forsake their possessions and run if they wanted to survive the onslaught of the Roman legions.

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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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    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). Joshua continued his studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree in 2005. After seminary…
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