Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry

Matt. 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-31
(Huck 35, 157; Aland 67, 201; Crook 49, 236)[1]

Revised: 10-January-2018

[וַיֹּאמֶר לְתַלְמִידָיו] לְפִיכָךְ אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם אַל תְּהַרְהְרוּ לְנַפְשְׁכֶם מַה תֹּאכְלוּ וּמַה תִּשְׁתּוּ וְלֹא לְגוּפְכֶם מַה תִּלְבְּשׁוּ הֲלֹא הַנֶּפֶשׁ מְרֻבָּה מִן הַפַּרְנָסָה וְהַגּוּף מִן הַכְּסוּת הַבִּיטוּ בָּעוֹרְבִים שֶׁאֵינָם זוֹרְעִים וְאֵינָם קוֹצְרִים וְאֵינָם מַכְנִיסִים לְאוֹצָרוֹת וְשָׁמַיִם מְפַרְנֵס אוֹתָם עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה אַתֶּם שֶׁחֲמוּרִים מֵעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּמִי בָּכֶם שֶׁמְּהַרְהֵר יָכוֹל לְהוֹסִיף עַל קוֹמָתוֹ אַמָּה אַחַת וְעַל כְּסוּת לָמָּה אַתֶּם מְהַרְהְרִים הִסְתַּכְּלוּ בְּצִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה הֵיאַךְ הֵם צוֹמְחִים אֵינָם עֲמֵלִים וְאֵינָם טוֹוִים וַאֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם אַף שְׁלֹמֹה בְּכָל כְּבוֹדוֹ לֹא הִתְכַּסֶּה כְּאַחַד מֵהֶם אִם כָּךְ אֶת חֲצִיר הַשָּׂדֶה שֶׁהַיּוֹם קַיָּם וּמָחָר בַּתַּנּוּר נָתוּן מַלְבִּישׁ שָׁמַיִם עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה אַתֶּם מְחוּסְּרֵי אֲמָנָה לְפִיכָךְ אַל תְּהַרְהְרוּ לוֹמַר מַה נֹּאכַל אוֹ מַה נִּשְׁתֶּה אוֹ בַּמֶּה נִתְכַּסֶּה שֶׁכָּל אֵלּוּ אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם מְבַקְּשִׁים וְיוֹדֵעַ אֲבִיכֶם שֶׁאַתֶּם צְרִיכִים כָּל אֵלּוּ אֶלָּא בַּקְּשׁוּ אֶת מַלְכוּתוֹ וְאֶת צִדְקָתוֹ וְכָל אֵלּוּ יִתְוַסְּפוּ לָכֶם לְפִיכָךְ אַל תְּהַרְהְרוּ לְמָחָר כִּי מָחָר יְהַרְהֵר לְעַצְמוֹ דַּיּוֹ לַיּוֹם רָעָתוֹ

[And Yeshua said to his disciples,] “So don’t be filled with anxiety about your lives, how you will eat and drink, or about your bodies, how you will be dressed. Isn’t life itself more important than the fuel that keeps it going? And isn’t the body more important than the clothes that keep it covered? If God provided the former, won’t he provide the latter as well? Take a look at the ravens who neither sow seed, nor harvest crops, nor store their harvest in storehouses. Nevertheless, God maintains them. How much more, then, will God maintain you, who are far more important than the birds of the sky?

“Or which of you worriers is able to make his body grow taller? Then why are you filled with anxiety about clothing? See how the flowers of the field grow: they neither labor nor spin, but I can assure you that even when Solomon was decked out in the finest of his royal robes, he wasn’t dressed as well as them. If this is how God chooses to clothe the grass of the field, though it lasts only for a day and then is burned in an oven, how much more adequately will God clothe you, you doubters?

“So don’t be filled with anxiety asking, ‘What will we eat?’; or, ‘What will we drink?’; or, ‘How will we clothe ourselves?’ These are all the things Gentiles constantly demand; and your father already knows you need all these things. Rather, seek God’s Kingdom and his deeds of salvation, and he will add all these things to you as well.

“So don’t be filled with anxiety about tomorrow. Tomorrow can worry about itself. It is enough to let each day deal with its own difficulties.”[2]


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Reconstruction

To view the reconstructed text of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry click on the link below:

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Story Placement

Robert Lindsey believed that Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry should be regarded as the continuation of Jesus’ response to Martha’s protest that her sister Mary had failed to help her in serving Jesus and his disciples.[3] According to Lindsey, the Miryam and Marta story (Luke 10:38-42) was the narrative introduction of a teaching complex that included not only Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (Matt. 6:25-34 // Luke 12:22-31), but also the Rich Fool parable (Luke 12:16-21) and the Rich Man and Lazar parable (Luke 16:19-31), which he regarded as twin illustrations.[4] In support of his reconstruction, Lindsey noted that Jesus stated that Martha was “worried” about many things (Luke 10:41), which corresponds to Jesus’ instruction “Do not worry” in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (Matt. 6:25 // Luke 12:22)[5] Lindsey also believed that the description of the birds that do not store in barns (Matt. 6:26; cf. Luke 12:24) and the foolish man’s plan to build bigger barns in which to store his produce (Luke 12:18) demonstrated a literary connection between Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry and the Rich Fool parable.[6] In addition, Lindsey argued that the rich fool had too much food (corresponding to “What will we eat?”), whereas the rich man in the Rich Man and Lazar parable had too many clothes (corresponding to “What will we wear?”).[7] Moreover, Lindsey found his reconstruction to be satisfying because it supplied the identity of the mysterious “one thing [that] is needed” (Luke 10:42), namely, “Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33 // Luke 12:31). The overarching lesson Lindsey drew from the reconstructed complex was that it is wrong to be concerned about material goods when one’s attention should be focused on the Kingdom of Heaven.

Drawing of Jesus, Mary and Martha attributed to Rembrandt. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Despite our acceptance of Lindsey’s premise that it is possible to restore larger narrative-sayings complexes from literary fragments preserved in the Synoptic Gospels, Lindsey’s arguments in favor of the specific reconstruction of the “Sin of Worrying about Material Things” complex are ultimately unconvincing. The first major weakness of Lindsey’s reconstruction is the change in audience between the Miryam and Marta story, where Martha is addressed (“Martha, Martha, you are worried, and troubled…”; 2nd per. sing.), and Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, where a wider audience (presumably consisting of the disciples) is addressed (“Do not worry…”; 2nd per. plur.). Not only does Jesus turn away from Martha to address the disciples, but according to Lindsey’s reconstruction, Jesus never returns to Martha. It is as though Jesus, having begun by addressing Martha, forgot that she was there at all. Indeed, not only does Lindsey’s reconstruction lose sight of Martha’s person, according to Lindsey’s reconstruction Martha’s concerns are entirely eclipsed by those of the disciples, as well. Whereas Martha was perturbed because of having too much work, Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry addresses fears regarding the inability to scrounge up enough of the barest necessities of life, fears that were familiar to the disciples who did not work for a living (cf. Matt. 12:1), but which were not shared by Martha, overwhelmed with work as she was in her kitchen. While the verb μεριμνᾶν (merimnan, “to worry”) does occur in both pericopae, the root causes of the anxiety and the objects of concern, as well as the audiences addressed, are entirely different.

The second major weakness of Lindsey’s reconstruction is that the two parables he selected as the continuation of the argument made in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry are not illustrative of the worries described in that pericope. Neither of the rich men were worried about how to meet their most basic necessities. Both rich men enjoyed an overabundance. The rich man in Luke 12:19 explicitly stated that he hadn’t a care in the world. What characterizes the rich men is their freedom from anxiety and their total lack of social consciousness. Thus, not only does Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry fail to address the cause of Martha’s distress in the Miryam and Marta story, but the two parables Lindsey selected as the conclusion of his reconstructed complex fail to address worries of any kind.

The third major weakness of Lindsey’s reconstruction is the claim that the Rich Fool and the Rich Man and Lazar parables are twin illustrations.[8] True twin parables tell the same story with different actors and different props (e.g., a shepherd and a woman both recover a lost possession, or a farmer and a merchant both discover an object of value). In Rich Fool and Rich Man and Lazar, by contrast, we have entirely different story lines—the rich fool discovers that his plans for the future were futile, whereas the rich man who ignored his neighbor discovers that a reversal of fortunes awaited him in the world to come—but the central character is of the same type, namely, a rich man. Moreover, the points made by the two parables are entirely different. The point of the Rich Fool parable is that there is no profit in wealth if one loses one’s soul; the Rich Man and Lazar parable, on the other hand, illustrates the concept that the wicked squander any reward they may have earned in this world, storing up only punishment for the world to come.[9] Thus, not only are the Rich Fool and Rich Man and Lazar parables shown formally not to be twins, but the points they illustrate are dissimilar.

The fourth major weakness of Lindsey’s reconstructed complex is his argument for verbal unity. While it is true that the verb μεριμνᾶν occurs in the Miryam and Marta story (1x) and in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (6xx), this is the only verbal link between the two passages, and as we have noted above, the root causes of the anxiety and the objects of concern in the two passages are entirely different. Moreover, neither the verb μεριμνᾶν, nor the noun μέριμνα, nor even a synonym for “worry” occurs in either the Rich Fool or the Rich Man and Lazar parables. Thus, Lindsey’s reconstructed complex lacks a verbal and thematic unity that could tie it all together. The verbal links between Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry and the Rich Fool parable are likewise unimpressive. “Storing in barns” admittedly occurs in both passages, but in an agrarian society the mention of storing grain in barns is hardly exceptional.[10] Since Jesus typically drew on imagery from everyday life, the mere presence of “storing in barns” is insufficient to establish a literary relationship between the two pericopae. The verbal links connecting the Rich Fool parable to the Rich Man and Lazar parable are similarly weak. Aside from “rich,” the only distinctive vocabulary common to both parables is the term “goods” (τὰ ἀγαθά; Luke 12:18, 19; 16:25).[11] As we have seen, the fact that both main characters are rich men argues against viewing them as twin parables (true twin parables tell the same story with different props and characters), and a term as generic as “goods” is hardly enough to establish a literary connection. Thus, although we are deeply indebted to Lindsey for his insight that the original literary context of some synoptic pericopae can be recovered on the basis of thematic and verbal clues, we are forced to conclude that Lindsey failed to make a convincing case in this particular instance.

Where, then, are we to place Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry within our reconstruction of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua? Building on Lindsey’s observation that narrative-sayings complexes can be reconstructed from the literary fragments preserved in the Synoptic Gospels, we observed in our work on the “How to Pray” complex that something was missing. There is a gap between the narrative setting in which the disciples request that Jesus teach them to pray, which in response prompts Jesus to compose what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, and the several illustrations intended to persuade the disciples that God’s good character ensures that he will indeed respond to the disciples’ prayers. The gap consists of an explicit acknowledgement of the disciples’ worries and the cause of their anxiety.

Regarding the Fathers Give Good Gifts pericope, which we consider to be the conclusion of the “How to Pray” complex, Piper made the following observation: “The impression is that the persuasion [in the Fathers Give Good Gifts pericope—DNB and JNT] is employed to counter doubts about very real problems of need facing followers.”[12] Piper’s observation is only strengthened by our hypothesis that the Persistent Widow parable and the Friend in Need simile were likewise given to allay the disciples’ very real, pressing anxieties. But what those pressing concerns might have been are not explicitly stated. There are clues on either side of the gap, however, that suggest what those concerns might have been. The Friend in Need simile and the Fathers Give Good Gifts pericope both address the need for food, specifically bread. The Lord’s Prayer contains a petition for bread, a petition that also reads like a vow of poverty: “Give us this day our daily bread,” not “Give us in advance a three-month’s supply,” nor even “In addition to what we need for today, give us also a small surplus for tomorrow.” In other words, the type of prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray and the rigorous lifestyle that prayer implies were probable cause for anxiety. This impression is confirmed by the several illustrations that argue that God can be trusted to give the disciples what they ask for when they pray the Lord’s Prayer.

The clues we have collected from the material surrounding the gap prove that Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry would fill that gap admirably. The surrounding context suggested that the disciples would be anxious about obtaining their most basic necessities, and that is precisely the issue Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry addresses.

Another advantage to placing Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry into the “How to Pray” complex is that it supplies the otherwise missing imagery of prayer as “seeking,” which occurs in the application of the Friend in Need simile: “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7; Luke 11:9). Friend in Need and Fathers Give Good Gifts both compare prayer to “asking,” and Friend in Need conjures up the imagery of “knocking,” but without including Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry in the “How to Pray” complex, with its command to “Seek the Kingdom [of God],” there is nothing outside the application of the Friend in Need simile to suggest that prayer is a kind of seeking.

Moreover, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” mirrors the structure of the rest of the “How to Pray” complex. The Persistent Widow parable describes a quest for justice (righteousness and justice are a common pair in Hebrew and are nearly synonymous), while Friend in Need and Fathers Give Good Gifts reinforce the promise that “all these things” will be supplied for the disciples as well.

One final advantage to the placement of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry within the “How to Pray” complex is that, although it rejects one of Lindsey’s suggestions, it actually conforms better to Lindsey’s overarching hypothesis regarding how the narrative-sayings complexes were dismantled in the process of transmission. According to Lindsey, it was the Anthologizer (the creator of the Anthology [Anth.]) who began the process of breaking apart the complexes. But, ignoring for the moment the logical gap that Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry so perfectly fills, Luke 11:1-13 contains nearly all of the “How to Pray” complex as Lindsey envisioned it.[13] The only thing missing from Luke 11:1-13 is the Persistent Widow parable, and we have found that it was probably the author of Luke himself who removed this parable from its original position right before the Friend in Need simile.[14] But if that was the case, then the Anthologizer must have preserved the “How to Pray” complex entirely intact, a dramatic departure from his usual practice. By recognizing the logical gap between the Lord’s Prayer and the several illustrations that follow, we realize that the Anthologizer actually did follow his usual procedure by removing Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry from its position between the Lord’s Prayer and the illustrations. For whatever reason, the Anthologizer preferred to present condensed teaching units, and evidently he felt that Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry could stand on its own two feet. Thus, while we have disagreed with Lindsey regarding specific conclusions, we are entirely indebted to his brilliant insight into the way the synoptic materials passed from their original setting into their present positions within the Gospels of Luke, Mark and Matthew.

loymapfix

 

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

 

Conjectured Stages of Transmission

Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry is a Double Tradition (DT) pericope characterized by high verbal identity, which suggests that the authors of Luke and Matthew copied Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry from their shared source, the Anthology. The differences between the two versions are the result of redactional changes made by the authors of Luke and Matthew to the wording of their source.

Versions of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry have also been preserved in the writings of Justin Martyr[15] and in the Gospel of Thomas.[16]

Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 655 (early third century C.E.), which preserves a Greek fragment of the Gospel of Thomas containing a parallel to Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Crucial Issues

  1. Why were the disciples so worried about the basic necessities of life?
  2. What was the original context of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry?
  3. Did Jesus speak about the impossibility of lengthening one’s lifespan or of increasing one’s stature?

Comment

L1-2 εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς (Luke 12:22). It is difficult to determine whether the words “And he said to his disciples,” with which the author of Luke introduces Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, were copied from Anth. or composed by the author of Luke himself. Elsewhere we have accepted similar constructions for GR, such as εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτοὺς,[17] εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς,[18] etc., and Luke’s εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς reverts easily to Hebrew as וַיֹּאמֶר לְתַלְמִידָיו. In addition, the author of Matthew might have omitted this phrase, since he incorporated Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry into the Sermon on the Mount, which was addressed to a wider audience, rather than just to the disciples. On the other hand, the phrase “And he said to his disciples” leading into a concluding statement (“Therefore, I say to you…”) might be perceived as intrusive. Due to our uncertainty, we have placed GR and HR in L1-2 in brackets.

L3 διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν (GR). Since “Therefore, I say to you” occurs in both the Lukan and Matthean versions, there can be little doubt that διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν was the reading of Anth. This phrase clearly implies that Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry was the continuation of a larger block of teaching material. As Allen noted, the “therefore” in L3 must originally have referred back to a promise of God’s provision for the disciples.[19] Neither Luke nor Matthew preserves the original placement of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, however, which indicates that this pericope had already been separated from its original context by the Anthologizer.

לְפִיכָךְ אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם (HR). Elsewhere, we have used לְפִיכָךְ (lefichāch, “therefore”) to reconstruct οὖν (oun, “therefore”).[20] Here in L3, διὰ τοῦτο (dia touto, “because of this”) serves the same function as οὖν, making לְפִיכָךְ a suitable option for HR.

L4 μὴ μεριμνᾶτε τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν (GR). The readings of Luke and Matthew are identical apart from Matthew’s inclusion of the possessive pronoun “your” after “soul.”[21] We believe it is more likely that the author of Luke dropped ὑμῶν than that the possessive pronoun was added by the author of Matthew, since the omission of pronouns is a characteristic redactional improvement.[22]

The sense of ψυχή (psūchē) must be understood to be “life” or “life force” rather than “[immortal] soul,” since ordinary food is what keeps the ψυχή alive. The ψυχή is the inner force that keeps the body animated, but it is mortal just like the body, since without food the ψυχή quickly expires.

אַל תְּהַרְהְרוּ לְנַפְשְׁכֶם (HR). Hebrew lacks a precise equivalent to μεριμνᾶν (merimnan, “to think about,” “to be anxious about”).[23] In LXX μεριμνᾶν occurs 9xx, but represents six different Hebrew terms.[24] Although Delitzsch rendered μεριμνᾶν as דָּאַג (dā’ag, “be afraid of/for,” “be sorry”) in his translations of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry in Matthew and Luke, we have preferred to reconstruct μεριμνᾶν with הִרְהֵר (hirhēr) for the following reasons:

  1. The verb הִרְהֵר (“think about,” “be anxious about”) is closer to the semantic range of μεριμνᾶν (merimnan, “to think about,” “to be anxious about”) than is דָּאַג (“be afraid of/for,” “be sorry”).
  2. In tannaic sources דָּאַג is quite rare.[25]
  3. We have an excellent parallel to Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry in the name of a Second Temple period sage, where we find the noun הִרְהוּר (hirhūr, “oppressive thought,” “preoccupation”), a cognate of the verb הִרְהֵר:

רבי חנניה סגן הכהנים אומר כל הנותן דברי תורה על לבו מבטלין ממנו הרהורין הרבה. הרהורי רעב. הרהורי שטות. הרהורי זנות. הרהורי יצר הרע. הרהורי אשה רעה. הרהורי דברים בטלים. הרהורי עול בשר ודם שכן כתוב בספר תהלים על ידי דוד מלך ישראל פקודי ה′ ישרים משמחי לב מצות ה′ ברה מאירת עינים. וכל שאינו נותן דברי תורה על לבו נותנין לו הרהורין הרבה. הרהורי רעב. הרהורי שטות. הרהורי זנות. הרהורי יצר הרע. הרהורי אשה רעה. הרהורי דברים בטלים. הרהורי עול בשר ודם. שכך כתוב במשנה תורה על ידי משה רבינו והיו בך לאות ולמופת ובזרעך עד עולם תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה′ אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לב מרוב כל ועבדת את אויביך אשר ישלחנו ה′ בך ברעב ובצמא ובעירום ובחוסר כל. ברעב כיצד בזמן שאדם תואב לאכול פת שעורים ואינו מוצא אומות העולם מבקשין ממנו פת נקייה ובשר שמן. ובצמא כיצד בזמן שאדם מתאוה לשתות טיפה של חומץ טיפה של שכר ואינו מוצא אומות העולם מבקשין ממנו יין משובח שבכל המדינות. ובעירום כיצד בזמן שאדם יכא ללבוש חלוק של צמר או של פשתן ואינו מוצא אומות העולם מבקשין ממנו השיראין והכלך שבכל המדינות. ובחוסר כל בלא נר ובלא סכין ובלא שלחן. דבר אחר בחוסר כל בלא חומץ ובלא מלח זו היא קללה שמקללין בני אדם אל יהא לך חומץ ומלח בתוך ביתך

Rabbi Hananyah the prefect of the priests says, “In the case of everyone who sets the Torah’s words on his heart many anxious thoughts [הִרְהוּרִין] are banished from him: thoughts of hunger, thoughts of foolishness, thoughts of sexual impropriety, thoughts of the evil inclination, thoughts of an evil wife, thoughts of idle matters, thoughts of the yoke of flesh and blood. For thus is it written in the Book of Psalms by David, king of Israel: The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, causing the eyes to be bright [Ps. 19:9].[26]

But in the case of everyone who does not set the Torah’s words on his heart, many anxious thoughts [הִרְהוּרִין] are given to him: thoughts of hunger, thoughts of foolishness, thoughts of sexual impropriety, thoughts of the evil inclination, thoughts of an evil wife, thoughts of idle matters, thoughts of the yoke of flesh and blood. For thus it is written in Deuteronomy by Moses our master: And they will be among you for a sign and for a wonder, and among your seed forever because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy, and with goodness of heart, on account of the abundance of all things. And so you will serve your enemy, whom the LORD will send among you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things [Deut. 28:46-48].

In hunger: How so? At a time when a person desires to eat even a barley loaf, but he cannot find it, the Gentiles of the world [אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם] seek from him a loaf of white bread and succulent meat. And in thirst: How so? At a time when a person desires to drink even a drop of vinegar or a drop of beer, but he cannot find it, the Gentiles of the world [אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם] seek from him the finest wine in all the provinces. And in nakedness: How so? At a time when a person is eager to wear even a tunic of wool or of flax, but he cannot find them, the Gentiles of the world [אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם] seek from him the finest silks and cottons in all the provinces. And in want of all things: Without a lamp, and without a knife, and without a table. Another interpretation of In want of all things: Without vinegar and without salt. This is the curse with which a person curses: ‘May you not have vinegar or salt in your house!’” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 20:1 [ed. Schechter, 70-71])

Hananyah the prefect of the priests was second-in-command in the Temple hierarchy toward the end of the Second Temple period.[27] Hananyah’s homily is parallel to Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry not only in that it addresses the theme of anxiety, but the specific examples of hunger, thirst and nakedness are parallel to the three expressions of worry (“what you will eat or what you will drink…or what you will wear”) in Matt. 6:25 (cf. Luke 12:22). Common to both sources is the role of the Gentiles who demand these very things. Moreover, being in want of all things when the Torah is ignored in Hananyah’s saying is parallel to Jesus’ promise that all these things will be added when the disciples seek the Kingdom of Heaven. These shared features in Hananyah’s homily and Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry suggest that both may be based on a common tradition, perhaps an early midrash based on Deut. 28:47-48.[28] Since Hananyah’s saying is so close to Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry in terms of themes and content, and since, like Jesus, Hananyah the prefect of the priests lived prior to the destruction of the Temple, we believe this source is a good indicator of the verb we should adopt for HR, namely הִרְהֵר.

Additional examples of הִרְהֵר are found in the following sources:

בשלום ובמישור הלך אתי שלא הירהר אחר דרכי המקום כדרך שלא הירהר אברהם

In peace and uprightness he walked with me [Mal. 2:6]: in as much as he [i.e., Aaron—DNB and JNT] did not have anxious thoughts [הִירְהֵר] concerning the Omnipresent one, just as Abraham did not have oppressive thoughts [הִירְהֵר]. (Sifra, Shemini [ed. Weiss, 46a]; cf. Lev. Rab. 3:6 [ed. Marguiles, 1:71])

תמים פעלו, פעולתו שלימה עם כל באי העולם ואין להרהר אחר מעשיו

His work is perfect [Deut. 32:4]. His work is complete with all who come into the world, and there is no cause to have anxious thoughts [לְהַרְהֵר] concerning his deeds. (Sifre Deut. §307 [ed. Finkelstein, 344])

אחרי הדברים האלה הירהורי דרבים היו שם, מי הרהר, אברהם הרהר, אמר לפני הקב″ה רבון העולמים כרתה ברית עם נח שאינך מכלה את בניו, עמדתי וסיגלתי מצות ומעשים טובים יותר ממנו ודחתה בריתי לבריתו, תאמר שאחר עומד ומסגל מצות ומעשים טובים יותר ממני, תדחה בריתו לבריתי

After these things there were anxious thoughts about things there. Who was preoccupied [הִרְהֵר] with them? Abraham was preoccupied [הִרְהֵר]. He said before the Holy one, blessed be he, “Master of the worlds, you made a covenant with Noah, that you would not cause his children to cease. Then I arose and stored up more mitzvot and good deeds than him, and my covenant superseded his covenant. Might someone hereafter arise and store up more mitzvot and good deeds than me, and his covenant will supersede mine?” (Gen. Rab. 44:5 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 1:428-429]; cf. Gen. Rab. 55:4 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:587]; 57:3 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:614])

In the following source we find an example of הִרְהֵר in a negative imperative:

אם ראיתה תלמיד חכם שעשה עבירה ביום אל תהרהר עליו למחר. שמא עשה תשובה בלילה

If you saw the disciple of a sage who committed a transgression in the day, do not have anxious thoughts [אַל תְהַרְהֵר] concerning him on the morrow. Perhaps he repented in the night. (Eliyahu Rabbah 3:11 [ed. Friedmann, 16])

In many of the examples above the verb הִרְהֵר approaches the meaning of “doubt,” a meaning that is not far away from the sentiment discussed in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, where the disciples are fearful that God might not provide for their most basic needs.

לְנַפְשְׁכֶם (HR). On reconstructing ψυχή (psūchē, “soul”) with נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”), see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L9. For HR we have preferred the form נַפְשְׁכֶם (nafshechem, “your [plur.] soul”) over נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם (nafshotēchem, “your [plur.] souls”), since τῇ ψυχῇ in L4 is singular.[29]

L5-8 Above, in Comment to L4, we noted that Hananyah’s homily on anxious thoughts focused on hunger, thirst and nakedness. The lesson to be drawn from his homily is that anxious thoughts about these sources of worry are dispelled when the Torah is made a disciple’s exclusive concern. The same lesson is to be drawn from a saying of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus:

ר′ אליעזר אומר לא ניתנה תורה לדרוש אלא לאוכלי המן. הא כאיזה צד היה אדם יושב ושונה ואינו יודע מאין יאכל וישתה ומאין ילבש ויתכסה הא לא ניתנה תורה לדרוש אלא לאוכלי המן שנייה להן לאוכלי תרומה

Rabbi Eliezer [ben Hyrcanus][30] says, “The Torah was not given for study except to the eaters of manna. For how[31] can someone be sitting and repeating [his lessons] and not know from where he will eat and drink, or from where he will dress and cover himself? Thus, the Torah was not given for study except to the eaters of manna, and second to them are eaters of terumah [i.e., priests—DNB and JNT].” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, BeShallaḥ 16:4 [ed. Epstein-Melamed, 107])

Here, too, the saying addresses the concerns of full-time disciples whose total devotion to Torah study has left no time for making an ordinary living. Whereas Hananyah the prefect of the priests suggested that the Torah provides its own nourishment (“the commandment of the LORD…causes the eyes to become bright”), Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus suggests that a full-time disciple had access to the heavenly manna.[32] The two ideas might amount to the same thing, however, if “causing the eyes to become bright” is an allusion to honey (Ps. 19:11; cf. 1 Sam. 14:29),[33] since manna was said to have the flavor of honey (Exod. 16:31). In any case, Eliezer’s statement also refers to eating, drinking and wearing clothes.

Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry also addresses the anxiety caused by the abandonment of property and profession in order to become a full-time disciple, and just like Hananyah the prefect of the priests and Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, Jesus also appears to have believed that his disciples had access to heavenly manna.[34] Given these similarities, we believe that it is significant that both Hananyah the prefect of the priests and Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus specify drink as well as food and clothing. This agreement may suggest that the inclusion of “what you will drink” in Matthew’s version of Yeshua’s Discourse on worry (L6) is original.

Scholars have noted that in addition to food, drink and clothing, ancient authors typically included having a home among the most basic necessities of life.[35] The following examples are representative of this ancient tradition:

Ἀρχὴ ζωῆς ὕδωρ καὶ ἄρτος καὶ ἱμάτιον καὶ οἶκος καλύπτων ἀσχημοσύνην

Life’s beginning is water and bread and clothing and a house for hiding indecency. (Sir. 29:21; NETS)[36]

διὰ τοῦτο ἐσθίουσι μέν, ὥστε μὴ πεινῆν, πίνουσι δέ, ὥστε μὴ διψῆν, πλησμονὴν ὡς ἐχθρόν τε καὶ ἐπίβουλον ψυχῆς τε καὶ σώματος ἐκτρεπόμενοι. ἐπεὶ δὲ καὶ σκέπης διττὸν εἶδος, τὸ μὲν ἐσθής, τὸ δὲ οἰκία, περὶ μὲν οἰκίας εἴρηται πρότερον, ὅτι ἐστὶν ἀκαλλώπιστος καὶ αὐτοσχέδιος, πρὸς τὸ χρειῶδες αὐτὸ μόνον εἰργασμένη· καὶ ἐσθὴς δὲ ὁμοίως εὐτελεστάτη, πρὸς ἀλέξημα κρυμοῦ τε καὶ θάλπους, χλαῖνα μὲν ἀπὸ λασίου δορᾶς παχεῖα χειμῶνος, ἐξωμὶς δὲ θέρους ἢ ὀθόνη.

Therefore they [i.e., the Essenes—DNB and JNT] eat enough to keep from hunger and drink enough to keep from thirst but abhor surfeiting as a malignant enemy to both soul and body. As for the two forms of shelter, clothes and housing, we have already said that the house is unembellished and a makeshift constructed for utility only. Their clothing likewise is the most inexpensive, enough to protect them against extreme cold and heat, a thin coat of shaggy skin in winter and in summer a vest or linen shirt. (Philo, Contempl. §37-38; Loeb)

Τὰ περὶ τὸ σῶμα μέχρι τῆς χρείας ψιλῆς παραλάμβανε, οἷον τροφάς, πόμα, ἀμπεχόνην, οἰκίαν, οἰκετίαν· τὸ δὲ πρὸς δόξαν ἢ τρυφήν ἅπαν περίγραφε.

In things that pertain to the body take only as much as your bare need requires, I mean such things as food, drink, clothing, shelter, and household slaves; but cut down everything which is for outward show or luxury. (Epictetus, Enchiridion 33.7; Loeb)

Bovon notes that shelter is not mentioned in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry.[37] This omission is probably intentional, since Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry was addressed to full-time disciples who had left their homes in order to itinerate with Jesus. While Jesus and the disciples often enjoyed the hospitality of friends and strangers,[38] sleeping in the outdoors was probably not unfamiliar to them (cf. Matt. 8:20 // Luke 9:58).[39]

Note that the inclusion of drink in each of the above sources provides additional support for our supposition that “or what you will drink” in L6 is original.

L5 מַה תֹּאכְלוּ (HR). In LXX ἐσθίειν (esthiein, “to eat”) most often appears as the translation of אָכַל (’āchal, “eat”).[40] Likewise, we find that the number of times אָכַל was translated with ἐσθίειν outnumber by far the instances when the LXX translators chose to render אָכַל with some other Greek verb.[41] Elsewhere, we have reconstructed ἐσθίειν with אָכַל in Call of Levi, L53; Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, L95; Preparations for Eating Passover Lamb, L19, L41.

A rabbinic comment on Exod. 16:4, pertaining to the manna story, deals with the anxiety that prompts a person to ask, “What will I eat?”:

ר′ אליעזר אומר שלא ילקט אדם מן היום למחר. וכן היה ר′ אליעזר אומר מי שיש לו מה שיאכל היום ויאמר מה אני אוכל למחר הרי זה ממחוסרי אמנה שנ′ דבר יום ביומו. מי שברא יום ברא פרנסתו

Rabbi Eliezer [ben Hyrcanus] says, “[A day’s portion in its day means] that a person should not gather today’s manna for tomorrow.” And thus Rabbi Eliezer would say, “Whoever has something that he can eat today but says, ‘What will I eat [מה אני אוכל] tomorrow?’: behold, this one is among those who lack faith, as it is said, a day’s portion in its day [Exod. 16:4]. The one who created day created its sustenance.” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, BeShallaḥ 16:4 [ed. Epstein-Melamed, 106])[42]

L6 ἢ τί πίητε (GR). As we noted above in Comment to L5-8, drink is usually mentioned along with food, clothing and shelter as one of the basic necessities of life. Perhaps the author of Luke dropped the mention of drink in L6 in order to create better symmetry so that one need would be attributed to the “soul” and one need to the body.[43]

וּמַה תִּשְׁתּוּ (HR). In LXX πινεῖν (pinein, “to drink”) most often appears as the translation of שָׁתָה (shātāh, “drink”).[44] It is also the case that in LXX no other verb was used to translate שָׁתָה more often than πινεῖν.[45] Since שָׁתָה continued to be used in MH, there is no better option than שָׁתָה for HR.

L7 וְלֹא לְגוּפְכֶם (HR). We have reconstructed σῶμα (sōma, “body”) with גּוּף (gūf, “body”), a Mishnaic Hebrew term, in accordance with our preference for reconstructing direct speech in a Mishnaic style. The pairing of גּוּף with נֶפֶשׁ, which we used to reconstruct ψυχή in L4, is common in rabbinic sources, as the following examples demonstrate:

אָמְרוּ לוֹ מָה בֵּין טְמֵאָה לִטְהוֹרָה אָמַ′ לָהֶן שֶׁהַטְּהוֹרָה נַפְשָׁהּ לַשָּׁמַיִם [וְגוּפָה שֶׁלּוֹ וְהַטְּמֵאָה נַפְשָׁהּ וְגוּפַה לַשָּׁמַיִם] אָמְרוּ לוֹ אַף הַטְּ<מֵאָהּ> נַפְשָׁהּ לַשָּׁמַיִם וְגוּפָה שֶׁלּוֹ שֶׁאִם יִרְצֶה הֲרֵי מוֹכְרָהּ לַגּוֹיִם אוֹ מַאֲכִילָהּ לַכְּלָבִים

They said to him [i.e., to Rabbi Eliezer—DNB and JNT], “What is the difference between an impure animal and a pure one?” He said to them, “In that the pure animal’s life [נַפְשָׁהּ] belongs to Heaven, but its body [גּוּפָה] belongs to him [i.e., the animal’s owner—DNB and JNT], but the impure animal’s life [נַפְשָׁהּ] as well as its body [גּוּפַה] belong to Heaven.” They said to him, “Even [in the case of] the impure animal, its life [נַפְשָׁהּ] belongs to Heaven, but its body [גּוּפָה] belongs to him, for if he wants, he can sell it to the Gentiles or feed it to the dogs.” (m. Ned. 4:3)

פושעי ישראל בגופן ופושעי אומות העולם בגופן יורדין לגיהנם ונדונין בה כל שנים עשר חדש לאחר שנים עשר חדש נפשם כלה וגופם נשרף וגיהנם פולטתן ונעשות אפר והרוח זורה אותן ומפזרתן תחת כפות רגלי הצדיקים שנ′ ועסותם רשעים וגו′‏

Those of Israel who sinned with their body and those of the Gentiles of the world who sinned with their body descend to Gehenna and are judged in it for a whole twelve months. After twelve months their life [נפשם] is ended and their body [גופם] is burned and Gehenna vomits them out and they become dust and the wind blows them and scatters them under the soles of the feet of the righteous, as it is said, and you will tread down the wicked [Mal. 3:21 (ET: 4:3)]. (t. Sanh. 13:4; Vienna MS)

רבי אליעזר אומר אם נאמר בכל נפשך למה נאמר בכל מאדך ואם נאמר בכל מאדך למה נאמר בכל נפשך, יש לך אדם שגופו חביב עליו מממונו לכך נאמר בכל נפשך ויש לך אדם שממונו חביב עליו מגופו לכך נאמר בכל מאודך

Rabbi Eliezer says, “If it says with all your soul [Deut. 6:5], why does it say with all your strength [ibid.]? And if it says with all your strength, why does it say with all your soul? You have someone whose body [גופו] is more dear to him than his wealth, thus it says with all your soul [נפשך], and you have someone whose wealth is more dear to him than his body, thus it says with all your strength.” (Sifre Deut. §32 [ed. Finkelstein, 55])

וכן היה ר′ סימיי אומר כל בריות שנבראו מן השמים נפשם וגופם מן השמים וכל בריות שנבראו מן הארץ נפשם וגופם מן הארץ חוץ מאדם זה שנפשו מן השמים וגופו מן הארץ

And thus Rabbi Simai would say: “Every creature that was created from heaven: their soul [נפשם] and their body [גופם] is from heaven. And every creature that was created from earth: their soul [נפשם] and their body [גופם] is from earth. Except for humankind, whose soul [נפשו] is from heaven and whose body [גופו] is from earth.” (Sifre Deut. §306 [ed. Finkelstein, 340-341])

L8 מַה תִּלְבְּשׁוּ (HR). In LXX ἐνδύειν (endūein, “to clothe”) almost always translates the root ל-ב-שׁ.‎[46] Note the saying of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, cited above in Comment to L5-8, where he asks, “How can someone be sitting and repeating [his lessons] and not know…from where he will dress [ילבש] and cover himself?”

L9 οὐχὶ ἡ ψυχὴ πλεῖόν ἐστιν (GR). Whereas Luke’s version has a statement here (“For the soul is more than food”; Luke 12:23), Matthew’s version has a question (“Is not the soul more than food?”; Matt. 6:25). We have adopted Matthew’s version for GR, which is more in keeping with the style of teaching in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry.

הֲלֹא הַנֶּפֶשׁ מְרֻבָּה (HR). On reconstructing οὐχί (ouchi, “not”) with הֲלֹא (halo’, “Is not?”), see Tower Builder and King Going to War, Comment to L3.[47] On reconstructing ψυχή with נֶפֶשׁ, see above, Comment to L4.

In “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves” (L42) we reconstructed πολύς (polūs, “much”) with מְרֻבֶּה (merubeh, “plentiful”). Here we have followed suit, on the basis of the following examples where מְרֻבֶּה is used in rhetorical questions with the meaning “of greater importance”:

ומה אם מידת פורענות מעוטה אמר הקב″ה לעשות ועשה מידה הטובה מרובה על אחת כמה וכמה

If with regard to the apportionment of punishment, which is of less importance, the Holy one, blessed be he, says he will act and he follows through, with regard to the apportionment of good, which is of greater importance [מרובה], how much more so? (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 7 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:39])

ומה אם מדת פורענות מעוטה העושה בסתר המקום מפרסמו בגלוי מדה טובה מרובה על אחת כמה וכמה

If the apportionment of punishment, which is less important, for what was done in secret the Omnipresent one publishes openly, the apportionment of good, which is more important [מרובה], how much more so? (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 13 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:71])

ומה אם מדת פורענות מעוטה אמרה תורה כי לא אצדיק רשע קל וחומר למדה הטובה מרובה

If with regard to the apportionment of punishment, which is less important, the Torah said, For I will not vindicate the wicked [Exod. 23:7], how much more so with regard to the apportionment of good, which is more important [מרובה]? (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Kaspa chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:475])

L10 מִן הַפַּרְנָסָה (HR). In LXX τροφή (trofē, “sustenance”) appears mainly as the translation of לֶחֶם (leḥem, “bread”),[48] מָזוֹן (māzōn, “food”)[49] or אֹכֶל (’ochel, “food”).[50] While any of these options would be suitable for HR, we have preferred to reconstruct τροφή with the MH noun פַּרְנָסָה (parnāsāh, “sustenance,” “provision”),[51] in part because the verb τρέφειν (trefein, “to rear,” “to support”), a cognate of τροφή, appears in Matt. 6:26 // Luke 12:24 (L18). Since פִּרְנֵס (pirnēs, “support,” “maintain”) is a good candidate for reconstructing τρέφειν (see below, Comment to L18), it makes sense to use a noun of the same root for our reconstruction in L10. Moreover, the noun פַּרְנָסָה frequently occurs in rabbinic discussions of God’s care for his creatures.

Above, in Comment to L5, we already encountered one example of פַּרְנָסָה, which occurs in Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus’ saying, “The one who created day created its sustenance [פרנסתו].” This example is useful not only for its linguistic parallel, but also for illuminating the point of Jesus’ argument. Jesus is not suggesting that food, drink and clothing are unworthy concerns, rather he argues that if God can create life, then God is surely able to nourish it, and if God can create a body, then God is surely able to furnish it with clothes.[52]

Additional examples of פַּרְנָסָה are found in the following parable that illustrates an aspect of the manna from heaven story:

ר′ שמעון אומר מפני מה לא היה יורד מן לישראל בפעם אחד בשנה כדי שיהפכו את לבן לאביהם שבשמים משל למה הדבר דומה למלך שגזר על בנו להיות מפרנסו פעם אחת בשנה ולא היה מקביל פני אביו אלא בשעת פרנסתו. פעם אחת חזר וגזר עליו להיות מפרנסו בכל יום אמר הבן אפילו איני מקבל פני אבי אלא בשעת פרנסתי דיי לי. כך ישראל היו בביתו של אדם חמש זכרים או חמש נקבות היה יושב ומצפה ואומר אוי לי שמא לא ירד המן למחר ונמצינו מתים ברעב יהי רצון מלפניך שירד ונמצאו הופכים את לבם לשמים

Rabbi Shimon says, “Why did the manna not descend for Israel only once a year? So that they would turn their hearts to their father in heaven. A parable: To what may the matter be compared? To a king who decreed concerning his son that his provision be given once in a year. But his father did not receive his company except at the time of his provision [פרנסתו]. One time he reconsidered and decreed concerning him that his provision be given every day. The son said, ‘Even if I visit my father only at the time of my provision [פרנסתי], it is enough for me.’ So with Israel. In the house of a man who had five boys or five girls, he would sit and look ahead [to the future] and say, ‘Woe to me! Perhaps the manna for tomorrow will not descend, and we will be found dead from hunger. May it be pleasing before you that it will descend!’ So they were found turning their hearts toward Heaven.” (Sifre Num. §89 [ed. Horovitz, 90])[53]

L11 וְהַגּוּף מִן הַכְּסוּת (HR). In LXX ἔνδυμα (endūma, “clothing”) is usually the translation of לְבוּשׁ (levūsh, “clothing”), but in MH this term appears to have become rare, occurring only once in the Mishnah (m. Ukz. 1:2). Another alternative for HR is מַלְבּוּשׁ (malbūsh, “clothing”), but this term also became rare, again with only one instance in the Mishnah (m. Shek. 5:1 [printed eds.]). A far more common term for clothing in rabbinic sources is כְּסוּת (kesūt, “clothing,” “covering”), a term that is found 9xx in MT[54] and 39xx in the Mishnah. Occasionally we find כְּסוּת paired with גּוּף, as in the following example:

ר′ יהודה בשם ר′ אלעזר אומר שלשה דברים הדרך עושה, מבלה את הכסות, ושוחקת את הגוף, וממעטת את היציאה, אבל הקב″ה לא עשה כן לישראל, אלא שמלתך לא בלתה מעליך, ה′ אלהיך עמך בבריאות הגוף, לא חסרת דבר, [זו היציאה].‏

Rabbi Yehudah says in the name of Rabbi Eleazar, “The road does three things: it wears out the clothing [הכסות], grinds down the body [הגוף], and decreases [money for] expenses. But the Holy one, blessed be he, did not do this to Israel, rather your robe did not wear out upon you [Deut. 8:4], the LORD your God was with you [Deut. 2:7] in the health of the body [הגוף], you did not lack a thing [Deut. 2:7]—this refers to [money for] expenses.” (Midrash Tehillim 23:3 [ed. Buber, 198])

L12 ἐμβλέψατε (GR). Whereas Matthew’s version uses different verbs for directing the disciples to pay attention to the examples of God’s provision for his creatures, ἐμβλέπειν (emblepein, “to look at”) in L12 and καταμαθεῖν (katamathein, “to examine”) in L31, Luke’s version uses the same verb, κατανοεῖν (katanoein, “to consider”), in both illustrations. We suspect that it was the author of Luke who was responsible for this homogenization, once again for the sake of symmetry.[55]

הַבִּיטוּ (HR). Whether we had adopted Luke’s κατανοεῖν or Matthew’s ἐμβλέπειν for GR, הִבִּיט (hibiṭ, “look at”) would have remained a good choice for HR.[56] In BH הִבִּיט often takes the preposition אֶל (’el, “to,” “toward”), or simply an object without a preposition, but as early as the DSS הִבִּיט began to take the preposition -בְּ (be, “in”).[57] An example of הִבִּיט with the preposition -בְּ, such as we have in HR for L12-13, is found in the following rabbinic comment on the creation narrative:

וירא אלהים את כל אשר עשה והנה טוב מאד ר′ יוחנן ור′ שמעון בן לקיש ר′ יוחנן אמר מלך בשר ודם בונה פלטין מביט בעליונים [ראייה אחת ובתחתונים ראייה אחת אבל הקב″ה מביט בעליונים] ובתחתונים ראיה אחת, אמר ר′ שמעון בן לקיש הנה טוב מאד, זה העולם הזה, והנה זה העולם הבא, העולם הזה והעולם הבא הביט בהם הקב″ה ראיה אחת

And God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Rabbi Yohanan and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish [discussed this verse]. Rabbi Yohanan said, “A king of flesh and blood builds a palace and looks at the heights in one glance and at the depths in another glance. But the Holy one, blessed be he, looks at the heights and the depths in a single glance.” Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said, “Behold it was very good refers to this world, And behold refers to the world to come. The Holy one, blessed be he, looked at this world and the world to come in a single glance.” (Gen. Rab. 9:3 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 1:68])[58]

Hooded crows (Corvus cornix) photographed in the Hinnom Valley on the western side of the Old City of Jerusalem by Joshua N. Tilton.

L13 εἰς τοὺς κόρακας (GR). We believe that the author of Matthew substituted “the birds of the air,” a phrase he most likely found at the end of the illustration (see below, Comment to L21), for “ravens,” which the author of Luke copied from Anth. Luke’s reading, τοὺς κόρακας (tous korakas, “the ravens”), has a good claim to originality: first, because ravens are a stock example of God’s gracious provision for his creatures in Scripture and in rabbinic sources; second, because the illustration pertaining to clothing begins with a specific example (flowers) and ends with a general example (grass), which leads us to expect the same pattern (viz., ravens, birds) in the illustration pertaining to sustenance;[59] third, because, as Flusser suggested,[60] ravens were notorious carrion birds associated in Greek sources with the gallows, which might have caused the author of Matthew to avoid mentioning ravens.[61]

Regarding the first point in favor of Luke’s reading, ravens are cited in the Psalms as an example of God’s provision for his creatures:

נוֹתֵן לִבְהֵמָה לַחְמָהּ לִבְנֵי עֹרֵב אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָאוּ

He gives to the beasts their bread and to the young ravens when they cry. (Ps. 147:9)

διδόντι τοῖς κτήνεσι τροφὴν αὐτῶν καὶ τοῖς νεοσσοῖς τῶν κοράκων τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις αὐτόν

…giving to the animals their food and to the young of ravens that call on him. (Ps. 146:9; NETS)

Likewise, in the book of Job the LORD cites his own care of the ravens as an example of his awesome power, asking Job the following:

מִי יָכִין לָעֹרֵב צֵידוֹ כִּי יְלָדָ[י]ו אֶל אֵל יְשַׁוֵּעוּ יִתְעוּ לִבְלִי אֹכֶל

Who provides for the raven his prey when his children cry out to God for deliverance and wander without food? (Job 38:41)

τίς δὲ ἡτοίμασεν κόρακι βοράν; νεοσσοὶ γὰρ αὐτοῦ πρὸς κύριον κεκράγασιν πλανώμενοι τὰ σῖτα ζητοῦντες

And who prepared food for the raven? For its young have cried to the Lord as they wander about, searching for food. (Job 38:41; NETS)

The verse from Job is cited in a rabbinic tradition relating to God’s special provision for full-time disciples, who rely on him for their sustenance:

אמ′ ר′ שמואל בר אמי דברי תורה צריכין השחרה, פרנסה מנ′, מי יכין לערב צידו, כך אם אין אדם נעשה אכזרי על גופו ועל בניו ועל בני ביתו כעורב הזה אינו זוכה ללמוד תורה

Rabbi Shmuel bar Ami said, “The words of Torah require the dawn [and the evening, and all the time between for study—DNB and JNT]. From whence will sustenance come? From the one who provides the raven with his prey [Job 38:41]. Accordingly, if a person does not deal harshly with his body and with his sons and with the members of his household like this raven, he will not succeed in studying Torah.” (Lev. Rab. 19:1 [ed. Marguiles, 1:415])

Note the similarity of this saying to that of Jesus, which we have entitled Demands of Discipleship (Matt. 10:37-38 // Luke 14:25-27, 33).

In a rather different vein, the following story demonstrates that provision for ravens was at least semi-proverbial:

רבי פתח אוצרות בשני בצורת אמר יכנסו בעלי מקרא בעלי משנה בעלי גמרא בעלי הלכה בעלי הגדה אבל עמי הארץ אל יכנסו דחק רבי יונתן בן עמרם ונכנס אמר לו רבי פרנסני אמר לו בני קרית אמר לו לאו שנית א″ל לאו אם כן במה אפרנסך [א″ל] פרנסני ככלב וכעורב פרנסיה בתר דנפק יתיב רבי וקא מצטער ואמר אוי לי שנתתי פתי לעם הארץ אמר לפניו ר′ שמעון בר רבי שמא יונתן בן עמרם תלמידך הוא שאינו רוצה ליהנות מכבוד תורה מימיו בדקו ואשכח אמר רבי יכנסו הכל

Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] opened the storehouses during a period of privation. He said, “Students of Scripture, students of Mishnah, students of Gemara, students of halacha, students of aggadah may enter. But ame haaretz [i.e., common folk—DNB and JNT] may not enter.” Rabbi Yonatan ben Amram pressed in and entered. He said to him, “Rabbi, give me sustenance!” He said to him, “Have you learned Scripture?” He said to him, “No.” He said to him, “Have you learned Mishnah?” He said to him, “No.” “If so, why should I give you sustenance?” “Give me sustenance like the dog and like the raven [פרנסני ככלב וכעורב].” So he gave him sustenance. After he went away, Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi]’s conscience smote him and he said, “Woe to me that I gave my piece of bread to an am haaretz.” Rabbi Shimon ben Rabbi Sama said before him, “It was Rabbi Yonatan ben Amram, your student, who wishes never to receive benefit from the glory of the Torah.” It was checked and found to be the case, so Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] said, “All may enter [the storehouse].” (b. Bab. Bat. 8a)

Illustration of a raven from H. B. Tristram’s The Natural History of the Bible, 198.

Regarding the second point in favor of ravens, note that the illustration concerning clothing, in both its Matthean and Lukan versions, which teaches us to expect the specific (flowers)→general (grass) pattern, is in fact what we find in Luke’s version of the illustration concerning sustenance: specific (ravens)→general (birds).[62] Matthew’s version of the illustration concerning sustenance, on the other hand, has an entirely different pattern: general (birds of the heaven)→pronoun (them), with the general example as the antecedent. Note, too, that in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry the author of Luke had a tendency to shorten the Hebraic construct-like phrases that occur in Matthew’s version, and which were probably original: “the flowers of the field” (Matt.)→“the flowers” (Luke), L31; “the grass of the field” (Matt.)→“the grass” (Luke), L38.[63] Given this tendency, it is entirely likely that where Luke has “the birds” his source (Anth.) had “the birds of the heaven” (L21). Thus, Luke’s τῶν πετεινῶν (“the birds”) in L21 shows us the original location of Matthew’s more original wording τῶν πετεινῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (“the birds of the heaven”). The deviant pattern of Matthew’s illustration concerning sustenance (general→pronoun) can be explained in the following manner: having chosen to avoid ravens, the author of Matthew moved “the birds of the heaven” from its original location (L21) into the slot vacated by the ravens (L13). He then inserted the bland pronoun “them” into the space originally occupied by “the birds of the heaven” (L21).[64] Each author preserved something of Anth.’s wording of the illustration concerning sustenance, but each author also made redactional changes that obscured the original wording of the pre-synoptic source. Only by carefully comparing the Lukan and Matthean versions to one another and to ancient Jewish sources is it possible to recover the wording of Anth.

בָּעוֹרְבִים (HR). Every instance of עֹרֵב (‘orēv, “raven”) in MT is rendered κόραξ (korax, “raven”) in LXX,[65] excluding examples of עֹרֵב as a personal name, in which case it was transliterated as Ωρηβ (Ōrēb).[66] According to Tristram, “Under the [Hebrew—DNB and JNT] term ‘raven,’ is included the whole family of the Crow tribe: crows, rooks, jackdaws, &c.”[67] Above we cited several instances in biblical and post-biblical Jewish sources in which עוֹרְבִים are cited as examples of God’s providential care for his creatures.

Ravens foraging for food at Beit Guvrin National Park in Israel. Photographed by Joshua N. Tilton.

L14-18 Scholars have long noted the similarity between Jesus’ illustration of the ravens/birds that neither sow nor reap nor store and the following rabbinic statement, which has come down to us in long and short forms:[68]

הֲרָאִיתָה מִיָּמֶיךָ אֲרִי סַבָּל צְבִי קָיָיצ שׁוּעַל חַנְוָונִי זְאֵב גּוֹדֵר גְּדֵירוֹת וַהֲרֵי הַדְּבָרִים קַ{ו}ל וַחוֹמֵר וּמָהּ אִם אֵלּוּ שֶׁנִּיבְרְאוּ שֶׁלֹא לשַׁמֵּשׁ אֶת קוֹנָן הֲרֵי הֵן מִיתְפַּרנְסִים שֶׁלֹא בְצַעַר אֲנִי שֶׁנִּיבְרֵאתִי לְשַׁמֵּשׁ אֶת קוֹנִי אֵינוּ דִין שֶׁתְּהֵא פַרִנָסָתִי שֶׁלֹּא בְצַעַר וּמִי גָרַם לִי לִהְיוֹת מִתְפַּרְנֵס בִּצַעַר הֱרֵי אוֹמֵ′ חֲטָאַיִי לְפִי שֶׁהֵירַעְתִּי אֶת מַעֲשַׂי וֶקֵיפַחְתִי אֶת פַּרְנָסָתִי

Have you ever seen in all your days a lion [working as a] porter, a gazelle as a fruit-picker, a fox as a shopkeeper, or a wolf as a cooper? But look, it is a matter of kal vahomer. How is it that if these, who were not created to serve their Maker, have their provision without toil, when I, though I was created to serve my Maker, do not have my provision without toil? Who has caused me to provide for myself by toil? Say, therefore, “It is my sins, because I made my deeds evil and scorned my provision.” (m. Kid. 4:14)

ראית מימיך חיה ועוף שיש להם אומנות והן מתפרנסין שלא בצער והלא לא נבראו אלא לשמשני ואני נבראתי לשמש את קוני אינו דין שאתפרנס שלא בצער אלא שהורעתי מעשי וקפחתי את פרנסתי

Have you ever seen an animal or a bird that has a craft? Yet they are sustained without toil. And were they not created only to serve me? But I was created to serve my Master. Then shouldn’t I make a living without toil? But I have made my deeds evil and scorned my provision. (b. Kid. 82a)

Note that the shorter version specifically mentions birds, which is parallel to the “ravens/birds of the sky” mentioned in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry.

Despite the similar images and vocabulary, the point of the rabbinic saying is different from the message of Jesus’ illustration. According to the rabbinic saying, human beings have forfeited their right to automatic provision, and must work for their sustenance in addition to serving their creator. Jesus, by contrast, wished to convince his disciples that, having devoted themselves exclusively to serving the Kingdom of Heaven, God would in turn provide for their lives and bodies.

The idea that animals are cared for by nature, whereas human beings must work for a living, is also encountered in ancient Greek sources. Flusser compared Jesus’ illustration to the following statement from the second-century C.E. philosopher Celsus:

ἡμεῖς γε κάμνοντες καὶ προσταλαιπωροῦντες μόλις καὶ ἐπιπόνως τρεφόμεθα τοῖς δ᾽ ⟨Odyssea, IX, 109⟩ «ἄσπαρτα καὶ ἀνήροτα πάντα φύονται»

Though we struggle and persevere we sustain ourselves only with difficulty and toil, whereas for them [Odyssea, IX, 109] “everything grows without sowing and tillage.” (Origen, Cels. 4:76)[69]

Another example in a similar vein is placed on the tongue of the Cynic philosopher Diogenes:

Second or third-century C.E. mosaic depiction of the Cynic philosopher Diogenes, famed for his disdain of wealth and for having taken to sleeping in a large jar or tub. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

οὐχ ὁρᾷς τὰ θηρία ταῦτα καὶ τὰ ὄρνεα, ὅσῳ ζῇ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἀλυπότερον, πρὸς δὲ καὶ ἥδιον, καῖ μᾶλλον ὑγιαίνει καὶ πλέον ἰσχύει καὶ ζῇ χρόνον ἔκαστον αὐτῶν ὅσον πλεῖστον δὺναται, καίτοι οὔτε χεῖρας ἔχοντα οὔτε ἀνθρώπου διάνοιαν; ἀλλ᾽ ὅμως ἀντὶ πάντων αὐτοῖς τῶν ἄλλων κακῶν ὑπάρχει μέγιστον ἀγαθόν, ὅτι ἀκτήμονά ἐστιν.

Consider the beasts yonder and the birds, how much freer from trouble they live than men, and how much more happily also, how much healthier and stronger they are, and how each of them lives the longest life possible, although they have neither hands nor human intelligence. And yet, to counterbalance these and their other limitations they have one very great blessing—they own no property. (Dio Chrysostom, Tenth Discourse: On Servants §8; Loeb)[70]

L14 שֶׁאֵינָם זוֹרְעִים (HR). The Hebrew root ז-ר-ע was usually translated in LXX with the verb σπείρειν (speirein, “to sow,” “to scatter seed”),[71] and we also find that most instances of σπείρειν in LXX occur as the translation of the root ז-ר-ע.‎[72] Since the same root continued to be used for “sowing” in MH, there seems to be little reason for searching for a different verb for our reconstruction. We have accordingly adopted זָרַע (zāra‘, “sow”) for HR.

We find examples of זָרַע + אֵין in the following sources:

כָּל מִין זְרָעִים אֵין זוֹרְעִים בָּעֲרוּגָה כָּל מִין יְרָקוֹת זוֹרְעִים בָּעֲרוּגָה

They do not sow [אֵין זוֹרְעִים] every kind of seed in a garden bed, but every kind of vegetable they do plant in a garden bed. (m. Kil. 3:2)

שדה שניטיבה אין זורעין אותה במוצאי שביעית

A field that was improved [during the Sabbatical year—DNB and JNT]: they do not sow [אין זורעין] it the year following the Sabbatical year. (t. Shev. 3:10; Vienna MS)

מודה ר′ עקיבא שאין זורעין ואין חורשין ואין מנכשין בסוריא

Rabbi Akiva confesses that they do not sow [שאין זורעין] and they do not plow and they do not weed in Syria [during the Sabbatical year—DNB and JNT]. (t. Shev. 4:12; Vienna MS)

L15 וְאֵינָם קוֹצְרִים (HR). In LXX θερίζειν (therizein, “to reap,” “to harvest”) occurs mainly as the translation of קָצַר (qātzar, “reap,” “harvest”).[73] In MH קָצַר continued in use, and we have accordingly adopted this verb for HR.

We find an example of קָצַר + אֵין in the following source:

פֵּיאָה אֵין קוֹצְרִין אוֹתָה בַּמַּגָּלוֹת

They do not harvest [אֵין קוֹצְרִין] peah [i.e., the crops at the edges of fields, which were reserved for the poor—DNB and JNT] with sickles. (m. Peah 4:4)

L16 οὐδὲ συνάγουσιν εἰς ἀποθήκας (GR). Here, it is the author of Luke who has disturbed the original pattern of enumerating three activities—sowing, reaping and storing in the illustration concerning sustenance; growing, spinning and laboring in the illustration concerning clothing—by instead referring to ownership (storerooms and storehouses).[74]

וְאֵינָם מַכְנִיסִים לְאוֹצָרוֹת (HR). In LXX ἀποθήκη (apothēkē, “storehouse”) occurs as the translation of מִשְׁמֶרֶת (mishmeret, “safe keeping”; Exod. 16:23, 32), טֶנֶא (tene’, “basket”; Deut. 28:5, 17), מַאֲבוּס (ma’avūs, “granary”; Jer. 27[50]:26), אוֹצָר (’ōtzār, “storehouse,” “treasury”; 1 Chr. 28:12 [2xx]; 29:8) and חֶדֶר (ḥeder, “room”; 1 Chr. 28:11). Of these equivalents only אוֹצָר is suitable for HR. Whereas the other terms listed above are inappropriate for the present context (viz., חֶדֶר), or had either fallen into disuse in MH or were no longer used with the same meaning, אוֹצָר remained a common term for “storehouse” in rabbinic sources.[75] In fact, in Comment to L13 we already encountered an example of אוֹצָר in the sense of “storehouse for agricultural produce” in the story about Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi, who opened up the storehouses (אוֹצָרוֹת) during a time of famine (b. Bab. Bat. 8a). Another example of this use of אוֹצָר is found in the following source:

אוצר שישראל וגוים מטילין לתוכו אם רוב גוים ודאי ואם רוב ישראל דמאי מחצה על מחצה ודאי דברי רבי מאיר

A storehouse [אוצר] into which Israelites and Gentiles were putting [agricultural produce—DNB and JNT]: If the majority were Gentiles its status regarding tithes is certain [i.e., it was certainly not tithed—DNB and JNT], and if the majority were Israelite the status of half is considered dubious regarding tithes and the status of half is considered certain [i.e., it was certainly not tithed—DNB and JNT]: the words of Rabbi Meir. (t. Dem. 1:12; Vienna MS)

In the above-quoted source the verb for putting the produce into the storehouse is הִטִּיל (hiṭil, “throw,” “put”), which is not a very close approximation of συνάγειν (sūnagein, “to gather”). In LXX συνάγειν is sometimes the translation of צָבַר (tzāvar, “heap up”), which is used for the gathering of grain in the story of Joseph in Egypt (Gen. 41:35, 49). More commonly, συνάγειν is the translation of אָסַף (’āsaf, “gather,” “assemble”), which is used for gathering produce (e.g., Exod. 23:10; Lev. 25:3, 20; Deut. 16:13). In MH, however, while we hear of אֲסוּפֵּי שְׁבִיעִית (“gatherers of Sabbatical year produce”; m. Sanh. 3:3), we do not find examples of אָסַף for gathering into storehouses. Instead, in rabbinic sources we find the verb הִכְנִיס (hichnis) for storing up in storehouses:

בראשונה היו שלוחי בית דין יושבין על פתחי עיירות כל מי שמביא פירות בתוך ידו נוטלין אותן ממנו ונותנין לו מהן מזון שלש סעודו′ והשאר מכניסין אותו לאוצר שבעיר הגיע זמן תאנים שלוחי בית דין שוכרין פועלין עודרים אותן ועושים אותן דבילה ומכניסין אותן לאוצר שבעיר הגיע זמן ענבים שלוחי בית דין שוכרין פועלין ובוצרין אותן ודורכין אותן בגת וכונסין אותן בחביות ומכניסין אותן לאוצר שבעיר הגיע זמן זתים שלוחי בית דין שוכרין פועלין ומוסקין אותן ועוטנין אותו בבית הבד וכונסין אותן בחביות ומכניסין אותן לאוצר שבעיר ומחלקין מהן ערבי שבתות כל אחד ואחד לפי ביתו

At first the emissaries of the court would sit at the entrances of the cities [to look for] everyone who brought in their hand [Sabbatical year] produce. The emissaries would take it from him, giving him food for three meals from it, and as for the rest they would store it in the storehouse [מכניסין אותו לאוצר] that was in the city. When the time came for figs, the emissaries of the court would hire workers, and they would pick them and make them into cakes, and store them in the storehouse [ומכניסין אותן לאוצר] that was in the city. When the time came for grapes, the emissaries of the court would hire workers, and they would cut them [from the vine] and tread them in the winepress, and put them in storage jars, and store them in the storehouse [ומכניסין אותן לאוצר] that was in the city. When the time came for olives, the emissaries of the court would hire workers, and they would harvest them and pack them in the olive press, and put them in storage jars, and store them in the storehouse [ומכניסין אותן לאוצר] of the city. And they would distribute from these on the eve of the Sabbath to everyone according to the size of his house [i.e., the number of members in his family—DNB and JNT]. (t. Shev. 8:1; Vienna MS)

The root כ-נ-ס means “collect,” “gather” as well as “bring in,” “store up,”[76] making it a good equivalent for συνάγειν, and as we have seen from the above quotation, הִכְנִיס is precisely the verb used for storing agricultural produce in a storehouse. We have therefore adopted this verb for HR.

L17 καὶ ὁ θεὸς (GR). Notice that in the parallel illustration concerning clothing both Matthew and Luke agree that it is God (ὁ θεός) who provides (L41; Matt. 6:30; Luke 12:28). Here, in the illustration concerning sustenance, we would expect the same. In addition, Catchpole pointed out that using “God” with reference to the animals and plants, and reserving the title “your Father” for what directly relates to the disciples gives the argument a stronger punch.[77] Most decisive, however, is the fact that Matthew does not have the highly Hebraic construction ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (“the Father of you, the one in the heavens”). Instead, we find in Matt. 6:26 the Grecized formula ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος (“the Father of you, the heavenly”).[78] Had the author of Matthew used the more Hebraic construction, choosing between the Matthean and Lukan readings would have been more difficult. As it is, Luke’s καὶ ὁ θεός is more likely to be original.

וְשָׁמַיִם (HR). We suspect that the Greek translator of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua frequently translated שָׁמַיִם (shāmayim, “heaven”) as θεός (theos, “God”) when it was clear to him that שָׁמַיִם was a substitute for the divine name. Our reconstruction presupposes that Jesus, like his contemporaries, refrained from uttering the divine name in ordinary speech.[79]

L18 τρέφει αὐτούς (GR). Having accepted Luke’s “ravens” in L13 it is necessary to adopt in L18 the corresponding pronoun, αὐτούς (avtous, “them”).

מְפַרְנֵס אוֹתָם (HR). In LXX τρέφειν (trefein, “to rear,” “to support”) translates הֶאֱכִיל (he’echil, “feed”) only in Prov. 25:21. Above, in Comment to L13, we encountered a rabbinic parallel to Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (b. Bab. Bat. 8a) in which the verb פִּרְנֵס (pirnēs) is used for maintenance of ravens. We have adopted פִּרְנֵס for HR not only because of the rabbinic parallel, but also because פִּרְנֵס (“support,” “maintain”) is closer to the meaning of τρέφειν than הֶאֱכִיל or זָן (zān, “feed”), the other options we considered for HR.

L19 πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὑμεῖς (GR). We have adopted Luke’s πόσῳ μᾶλλον (posō mallon, “How much more?”) construction, which looks like an attempt to render the Hebrew idiom עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה (‘al ’aḥat kamāh vechamāh, lit., “Concerning one, how many and how many?”), a phrase that occurs regularly in kal vahomer arguments and that means “How much more?” (see Fathers Give Good Gifts, Comment to L15).[80] Matthew’s οὐχ ὑμεῖς μᾶλλον διαφέρετε (“Don’t you have more importance?”) looks like an attempt to make the Hebraic idiom more intelligible for Greek readers.

L20 שֶׁחֲמוּרִים (HR). Although διαφέρειν (diaferein, “to carry through,” “to be different”) does occur in LXX, it lacks a Hebrew equivalent, and mainly occurs in books originally composed in Greek.[81] We have reconstructed διαφέρειν with the adjective חָמוּר (ḥāmūr, “heavy”),[82] which in kal vahomer arguments can have the sense of “important,” as the following examples demonstrate:

ומה אם מזבח החמור אם רצה לשנות ישנה קל וחומר לשאר כל הכלים

If with regard to the altar, which is the more important matter [החמור], if one wants to change the building material he may change it, how much more so for all the rest of the Temple furnishings? (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BaḤodesh chpt. 11 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:351-352])

אם מוציאה הכתוב מידי מכר החמור קל וחומר מידי רציעה קלה

If Scripture makes an exception for selling, which is the more important matter [החמור], how much more so for piercing, which is the lighter matter? (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Nezikin chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:369])

אם נדחו טמאים ממחנה הארון הקל ק″ו ממחנה שכינה חמור

If ritually impure things are forbidden from the camp of the Ark, which is a less important matter, how much more so from the camp of the Shechinah, a more important matter [חמור]? (Sifre Num. §2 [ed. Horovitz, 2])

Although the addition of the relative pronoun -שֶׁ (she-, “that,” “which,” “who”) is not indicated by the Greek text, the Hebrew construction demands its presence. Without the -שֶׁ the meaning of the clause would be “…how much more important are you than the birds of the sky?” which is a non sequitur. The conclusion to be drawn from Jesus’ argument is not that the disciples are more important than birds—a given—but that if God provides the birds (which are of less importance) with food, then he will all the more provide the disciples (who are of greater importance) with food. Compare Fathers Give Good Gifts, L18, where we also felt compelled to add -שֶׁ to HR in a kal vahomer argument.

Dead Sea sparrow (Passer Moabiticus) as drawn by Joseph Wolf in H. B. Tristram’s “On the Ornithology of Palestine (Part VI),” Ibis 3.11 (1867): 360-371 (Plate VII opposite p. 371); idem, The Survey of Western Palestine: The Fauna and Flora of Palestine (London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1884), Plate IX opposite p. 65. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L21 τῶν πετεινῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (GR). As we discussed above in Comment to L13, we believe the author of Luke dropped the qualifier “of the sky.” The author of Matthew, who saw “the birds of the sky” at this point in his source (Anth.), used this phrase as a substitution for “ravens,” and therefore simply wrote “them” opposite Luke’s “the birds” in order to avoid repetition. The phrase τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ occurs 7xx in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt. 6:26; 8:20; 13:32; Mark 4:32; Luke 8:5; 9:58; 13:19). In every instance οὐρανός (ouranos, “sky,” “heaven”) occurs in the singular form.

מֵעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם (HR). On reconstructing πετεινόν + τοῦ οὐρανοῦ as עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם (‘ōf hashāmayim, “the birds of the heavens”), see Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple, Comment to L10.

L22-27 The question regarding the disciples’ ability to add to their stature or lifespan (on which is intended, see below) is often regarded as a later accretion that was inserted into Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry at a pre-synoptic stage of transmission.[83] Scholars typically regard Matt. 6:27 // Luke 12:25 as a further elaboration of the illustration concerning sustenance,[84] but the τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν (“Who among you?”) construction usually introduces a new illustration.[85] Perhaps it is better, therefore, to regard Matt. 6:27 // Luke 12:25 as leading into the illustration concerning clothing. Note that a rhetorical question—“Is not the soul more important than life, and the body more important than clothes?”—led into the illustration concerning sustenance, so regarding the rhetorical question in Matt. 6:27 // Luke 12:25 as a lead-in to the illustration concerning clothing gives balance to Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry. The ability of the rhetorical question to lead into the illustration concerning clothing, however, depends on whether adding to one’s stature, rather than to one’s lifespan, is the correct interpretation of the saying, since only an increase of stature leads naturally into the illustration, “Examine the flowers of the field, how they grow….”[86]

L22 וּמִי בָּכֶם (HR). On reconstructing the phrase τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν (tis ex hūmōn, “Who among you?”) as מִי בָּכֶם (mi bāchem, “Who among you?”), see Tower Builder and King Going to War, Comment to L1.

L23 μεριμνῶν δύναται (GR). While Luke and Matthew agree as to the wording, how the participle ought to be understood requires further elucidation. According to Hagner, the participle μεριμνῶν (merimnōn, “worrying”) has an instrumental force, hence the question ought to be understood as “Who among you by worrying is able…?”[87] Betz, on the other hand, rendered the question as “Which of you who are (so) worried is able…?”[88] Which interpretation of the participle is correct?

A comparison of Matt. 6:27 // Luke 12:25 with the other τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν questions may help resolve the issue. In the Tower Builder simile (Luke 14:28), in the Lost Sheep simile (Luke 15:4) and in the “Just Doing My Job” simile (Luke 17:7) we have three examples of the τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν formula followed by a participle:

τίς γὰρ ἐξ ὑμῶν θέλων πύργον οἰκοδομῆσαι

For who among you wishing to build a tower…? (Luke 14:28)

τίς ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ὑμῶν ἔχων ἑκατὸν πρόβατα

What person among you having a hundred sheep…? (Luke 15:4)

τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν δοῦλον ἔχων

But who among you having a slave…? (Luke 17:7)

In each of these instances, rendering the participle with an instrumental meaning would be nonsensical.[89] The above examples suggest that here, too, in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, interpreting the participle in an instrumental sense is unwarranted. Jesus did not ask whether anyone can add to their stature or lifespan by means of worrying, rather he asked, “Who among you worriers is able to increase his stature/lifespan?”

שֶׁמְּהַרְהֵר יָכוֹל (HR). On reconstructing μεριμνᾶν with הִרְהֵר, see above, Comment to L4. On reconstructing δύνασθαι (dūnasthai, “to be able”) with יָכוֹל (yāchōl, “able”), see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L10.

L24 προσθεῖναι (GR). Matthew and Luke differ with respect to the placement of the verb προστιθέναι (prostithenai, “to add”). In Matthew the verb comes before the phrase ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ (“upon the stature of him”), while in Luke it comes after the same. We have accepted Matthew’s word order for GR, since it is more Hebraic.

לְהוֹסִיף (HR). The vast majority of instances of προστιθέναι in LXX are the translation of הוֹסִיף (hōsif, “add”).[90] Conversely, הוֹסִיף is rendered in LXX with προστιθέναι far more often than with any other verb.[91]

L25 עַל קוֹמָתוֹ (HR). In LXX προστιθέναι ἐπί (“to add upon”) is the usual translation of הוֹסִיף עַל (“add upon,” i.e., “add to,” “increase”).[92] We also frequently encounter הוֹסִיף עַל in rabbinic sources.[93] Therefore, the reconstruction of προστιθέναι ἐπί as הוֹסִיף עַל in L24-25 is not in doubt.

More problematic is how to interpret the meaning of ἡλικία (hēlikia) in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry. The primary meaning of ἡλικία is “age,”[94] but it also acquired the secondary meaning of “height” or “stature.” Both meanings are attested in the Gospels: ἡλικία refers to the stature of the twelve-year-old Jesus in Luke 2:52, and to the short stature of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:3, whereas in John 9:21, 23 ἡλικίαν ἔχει (hēlikian echei) means “he is of age.” On the other hand, the use of ἡλικία in the sense of “length of life,” which is the meaning required in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry if ἡλικία is interpreted temporally, is not attested in the ancient sources.[95]

In LXX ἡλικία occurs 22xx, but mainly in books originally composed in Greek. There is only one instance of ἡλικία in LXX that is the translation of a Hebrew word, and in that one instance that word is קוֹמָה (qōmāh, “height,” “stature”; Ezek. 13:18). It is also the case that opposite ἡλικία in Sir. 26:17 a Hebrew MS of Ben Sira (MS C) reads קוֹמָה. The noun קוֹמָה never means “age” or “lifespan.”[96]

In 2 Kgs. 20:6 we find an example of a promise to extend the length of a person’s life, where this is expressed as וְהֹסַפְתִּי עַל יָמֶיךָ חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה (“And I will add upon your days fifteen years”). The LXX renders this promise as καὶ προσθήσω ἐπὶ τὰς ἡμέρας σου πέντε καὶ δέκα ἔτη (“And I will add to your days fifteen years”; 4 Kgdms. 20:6; NETS). Neither the Greek nor Hebrew expressions of the promise to extend a person’s lifespan resemble the saying in Matt. 6:27 // Luke 12:25.

In light of the above evidence it is difficult to justify any reconstruction of ἡλικία other than קוֹמָה, with the corollary that we must understand the rhetorical question in terms of adding to one’s physical stature.

L27 πῆχυν ἕνα (GR). We suspect that the author of Luke dropped ἕνα (hena, “one”) from his source.[97] Davies and Allison regard the placement of ἕνα after πῆχυς (pēchūs, “cubit”) as a Semitism.[98]

In this mosaic from Tzippori (Sepphoris) two youths chisel cubit markers onto a “Nilometer,” a device used to measure the flood levels of the Nile River. The top marker reads ΙΖ (= 17 cubits). According to the second-century C.E. satirist Lucian, the flood waters of the Nile were often personified in Greco-Roman art as sixteen little childlike creatures known as οἱ πήχεις (“the cubits”), since a rise of sixteen cubits was considered to be the optimal annual flood level (A Professor of Public Speaking §6). The mosaic depiction and the personification of the Nile’s cubits in Lucian are both excellent examples of πῆχυς (pēchūs, “cubit”) as a spatial, rather than a temporal, unit of measure. Photo courtesy of Joshua N. Tilton.

אַמָּה אַחַת (HR). The noun πῆχυς refers to a measure of space (viz., the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger).[99] It is not a unit of time.[100] There are no attestations of a temporal use of πῆχυς in the ancient sources.[101] Although scholars who favor a temporal meaning for Jesus’ saying in Matt. 6:27 // Luke 12:25 regularly cite a temporal use of the cognate adjective πήχυιος (pēchūios) in the works of the seventh-century B.C.E. poet Mimnermus in support of their interpretation,[102] a single obscure example of a different, albeit related, term cannot justify reading “add a moment to your life” in Matt. 6:27 // Luke 12:25.[103] The correct interpretation, despite the problems it may create, must be “add a single cubit to his stature.”[104]

In LXX πῆχυς is the equivalent of אַמָּה (’amāh, “cubit”).[105] The phrase אַמָּה אַחַת occurs in the Hebrew Bible and in rabbinic literature.[106] An illuminating example of this phrase is found in the following rabbinic source:

מלבו ולמטה שתי אמות ומלבו ולמעלה אמה אחת

From his heart down [a person’s height—DNB and JNT] is two cubits, and from his heart up [a person’s height—DNB and JNT] is one cubit [אמה אחת]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 4 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:238])

The point of Jesus’ question is that worriers cannot add a single cubit to their height, but God, who creates the body, adds three or so cubits to a person’s height between the time of his conception and the attainment of his full stature. Since God was able to grow the disciples’ bodies to their full stature, he can surely provide their bodies with clothes.

L28-29 Luke 12:26 has no parallel in the Matthean version of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry. We believe that the question “If you are not able to do the littlest things, why do you worry about the rest?” was the author of Luke’s attempt to paraphrase the gist of Jesus’ argument.[107] Some of the vocabulary in Luke 12:26 (περί, μεριμνᾶτε) also occurs in Matt. 6:28 (L30), which may indicate that the author of Luke recycled some of Anth.’s wording when composing his paraphrase. Since we regard Luke 12:26 as a Lukan composition, this verse has been omitted from GR and HR.

L30 καὶ περὶ ἐνδύματος τί μεριμνᾶτε (GR). We have adopted Matthew’s introduction to the illustration concerning clothing for GR. As we noted in Comment to L28-29, Luke 12:26 betrays awareness of this introduction, confirming our supposition that Matthew’s wording in L30 was copied from Anth.

וְעַל כְּסוּת לָמָּה אַתֶּם מְהַרְהְרִים (HR). In LXX περί (peri, “concerning,” “around”) is often the translation of עַל (‘al, “upon,” “concerning”).[108] We have collected a few examples of περί as the translation of עַל, which are parallel to our reconstruction:

וְעַל הִשָּׁנוֹת הַחֲלוֹם אֶל־פַּרְעֹה פַּעֲמָיִם כִּי־נָכוֹן הַדָּבָר מֵעִם הָאֱלֹהִים וּמְמַהֵר הָאֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂתוֹ

And concerning [וְעַל] the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh two times, it means that the matter is firmly established with God and God will hasten to do it. (Gen. 41:32)

περὶ δὲ τοῦ δευτερῶσαι τὸ ἐνύπνιον Φαραω δίς, ὅτι ἀληθὲς ἔσται τὸ ῥῆμα τὸ παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ταχυνεῖ ὁ θεὸς τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτό

And as for [περὶ δὲ] Pharao’s dream being repeated twice: because the matter that is from God will be real, and God will hasten to do it. (Gen. 41:32; NETS)

על אלה אל תבוש…על תורת עליון וחק ועל משפט להצדיק רשע

Concerning [על] these things do not be ashamed…concerning [על] the Torah of the Most High and [his] statute, and concerning [ועל] judgment lest the wicked be justified. (Mas IV, 6-7)

μὴ περὶ τούτων αἰσχυνθῇς…περὶ νόμου ὑψίστου καὶ διαθήκης καὶ περὶ κρίματος δικαιῶσαι τὸν ἀσεβῆ

Concerning [περὶ] these things do not be ashamed…concerning [περὶ] the Law of the Most High and [his] covenant, and concerning [καὶ περὶ] judgment lest the impious be justified. (Sir. 42:1-2)

On reconstructing ἔνδυμα as כְּסוּת, see above, Comment to L11. On reconstructing μεριμνᾶν with הִרְהֵר, see above, Comment to L4.

L31 καταμάθετε τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ (GR). We have accepted Matthew’s wording in L31, since the verb κατανοεῖν (see above, Comment to L12) and the omission of the construct-like phrase “of the field” (see above, Comment to L13) in Luke’s version are probably redactional.

הִסְתַּכְּלוּ בְּצִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה (HR). Out of the eight instances of καταμαθεῖν (katamathein, “to examine”) in LXX, two are the translation of רָאָה (rā’āh, “see,” “look”; Gen. 34:1; Lev. 14:36). Although we could reconstruct καταμαθεῖν using רָאָה we have preferred to use the more colorful MH verb הִסְתַּכֵּל (histakēl, “look at,” “reflect upon”). Compare our reconstruction to the following example from an early rabbinic source:

אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה אמור להם לישראל הסתכלו בשמים שבראתי לשמשכם

The Holy one, blessed be he, said to Moses, “Say to Israel, ‘Look at the heavens, which I created to serve you….’” (Sifre Deut. §306 [ed. Finkelstein, 332])

Wildflowers in Israel photographed by Gloria E. M. Suess. The red blossoms are those of the Corn Poppy (Papaver subpyriforme).

בְּצִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה (HR). Although in LXX κρίνον (krinon) is usually the translation of שׁוֹשַׁנָּה (shōshanāh, “lily”),[109] the phrase שׁוֹשַׁנֵּי הַשָּׂדֶה (shōshanē hasādeh, “the lilies of the field”) never occurs in MT, DSS or rabbinic sources. However, since κρίνον can be used generically for “flower,[110] we have preferred to reconstruct τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ as צִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה (tzitz hasādeh, “the flower of the field”), a construct phrase that occurs twice in the Hebrew Bible:

כָּל־הַבָּשָׂר חָצִיר וְכָל־חַסְדּוֹ כְּצִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה׃ יָבֵשׁ חָצִיר נָבֵל צִיץ כִּי רוּחַ יי נָשְׁבָה בּוֹ אָכֵן חָצִיר הָעָם׃ יָבֵשׁ חָצִיר נָבֵל צִיץ וּדְבַר אֱלֹהֵינוּ יָקוּם לְעוֹלָם

All flesh is grass and all his covenant loyalty [ḥesed] is like a flower of the field [LXX: ἄνθος χόρτου (“flower of grass”)]. Grass dries out and a flower withers when a wind of the LORD blows over it. Indeed, the people are grass. Grass dries and a flower withers, but the word of our God will endure forever. (Isa. 40:6-8)

אֱנוֹשׁ כֶּחָצִיר יָמָיו כְּצִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה כֵּן יָצִיץ כִּי רוּחַ עָבְרָה בּוֹ וְאֵינֶנּוּ וְלֹא יַכִּירֶנּוּ עוֹד מְקוֹמוֹ וְחֶסֶד יי מֵעוֹלָם וְעַד עוֹלָם עַל יְרֵאָיו וְצִדְקָתוֹ לִבְנֵי בָנִים

As for a man, his days are like the grass. Like a flower of the field [LXX: ἄνθος τοῦ ἀγροῦ (“flower of the field”)] he flowers. For the wind passes over it, and it is no more and its place is no longer recognized. But the covenant loyalty [ḥesed] of the LORD is from forever unto forever upon those who fear him, and his righteousness extends to the children’s children. (Ps. 103:15-17)

Mountain Tulip (Tulipa montana) photographed by Gloria E. M. Suess.

Neither instance of צִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה is translated τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ in LXX, which makes “the flowers of the field” in Matt. 6:28 a non-Septuagintal Hebraism. Note that although צִיץ in the construct phrase צִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה is singular, in the Greek phrase τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ “flowers” are plural. This parallels the translation of עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם (“the bird [sing.] of the sky”) as τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (“the birds [plur.] of the heaven”) in LXX.[111] In Hebrew עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם (“the bird [sing.] of the sky”) can take either singular or plural verbs,[112] and although the two instances of צִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה in MT are accompanied by singular verbs, this Hebrew construct phrase could probably take plural verbs as well, as Matthew’s use of plural verbs in L32 and L33 suggests.

Crown Anemone (Anemone coronaria) photographed by Gloria E. M. Suess.

The contexts in which the two instances of צִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה in the Hebrew Bible appear strengthen our conviction that this was the phrase that τὰ κρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ in Matt. 6:28 was intended to represent. Both Isa. 40:6 and Ps. 103:15 pair “flower of the field” with “grass,” and both verses reflect on the transience of a flower’s beauty (cf. Matt. 6:30 // Luke 12:28). If Jesus did intend to allude to Psalm 103 by directing his disciples to look at the flowers of the field, can the mention of God’s righteousness in Ps. 103:17 (צִדְקָתוֹ = ἡ δικαιοσύνη αὐτοῦ) and Matt 6:33 (L56) be mere coincidence? On the other hand, LXX points to a variant version of Isa. 40:6, which may have been current in the time of Jesus. Whereas MT reads, “All flesh is grass, and all his covenant faithfulness [ḥesed] is like a flower of the field,” LXX reads, “All flesh is grass, all a person’s glory [δόξα ἀνθρώπου] is like a flower of grass.” The comparison of a person’s glory to the flowers of the field in the LXX version of Isa. 40:6 (and the Hebrew text-tradition it may represent) may have inspired the comparison of the flowers to Solomon’s glory in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (L35-37). Of course, a double allusion to Isa. 40:6 and Ps. 103:15 in Jesus’ illustration concerning clothing would not be at all surprising. If two verses shared a word or phrase that appears nowhere else in Scripture, it was common for ancient Jewish exegetes to read those verses together, a principle known in rabbinic sources as gezerah shavah. That Jesus was familiar with this exegetical technique and made use of it on occasion is proven by his citation of the “double love commandment” based on the occurrence of וְאָהַבְתָּ (“and you shall love”) in Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18.[113]

On reconstructing ἀγρός with שָׂדֶה, see Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl, Comment to L4.

Scarlet Crowfoot (Ranunculus asiaticus) photographed by Gloria E. M. Suess.

L32-33 When Codex Sinaiticus was exposed to ultraviolet light it was revealed that the scribe who produced this manuscript had originally written πῶς οὐ ξένουσιν οὐδε νήθουσιν οὐδε κοπιῶσιν (“how they do not card or spin or labor”) in Matt. 6:28. The scribe then erased what he had written and inscribed πῶς αὐξάνουσιν οὐ κοπιοῦσιν οὐδὲ νήθουσιν (“how they grow: they do not labor or spin”) in its place.[114] There is a visual similarity between οὐ ξένουσιν (“they do not card”) and αὐξάνουσιν (“they grow”), which may have contributed to the scribal error, but it is also possible that the scribe who produced Codex Sinaiticus was familiar with a different version of Jesus’ saying that mentioned carding, since we find the statement “You are far better than the lilies, which do not card nor spin [οὐ ξαίνει οὐδε νήθει]” in a Greek fragment of the Gospel of Thomas (see above, “Conjectured Stages of Transmission”). Perhaps both explanations of how the variant reading in Codex Sinaiticus came about are correct: being familiar with a different form of the saying, the scribe who produced Codex Sinaiticus initially misread αὐξάνουσιν (“they grow”) as οὐ ξένουσιν (“they do not card”), but upon taking a closer look at his text, he saw his mistake and immediately corrected his error.

There is also an important textual variant in Luke 12:27. Whereas Codex Vaticanus reads πῶς αὐξάνει οὐ κοπιᾷ οὐδὲ νήθει (“how it grows: it does not labor and it does not spin”), basically in agreement with the Matthean parallel, Luke 12:27 in Codex Bezae reads πῶς οὔτε νήθει οὔτε ὑφαίνει (“how it neither spins nor weaves”). Some scholars accept the reading of Codex Bezae as the original text of Luke,[115] but whether or not they are correct in this assessment, it is unlikely that the reading in Bezae can be traced back to Anth. It seems more probable that either the author of Luke or a later scribe inserted “weave” as a replacement for the non-specific “toil,” and that the change from “how it grows…” to “how it neither spins nor weaves” was an attempt to streamline Jesus’ argument. We have therefore adopted Matthew’s wording in L32-33 for GR.

Painting of flowers located near the entrance to the Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Photographed by Gary Asperschlager.

L32 πῶς αὐξάνουσιν (GR). Opposite Matthew’s “how they grow” Luke’s version (according to most MSS) reads “how it grows.” Since it is more elegant in Greek to use singular verbs with plural neuter nouns, we suspect that Luke’s use of singular verbs in L32 and L33 is redactional.[116] Matthew’s use of plural verbs is more coarse and likely reflects a literal translation of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua, which reached the author of Matthew via Anth.

הֵיאַךְ הֵם צוֹמְחִים (HR). In LXX πῶς (pōs, “how”) is mainly the translation of אֵיךְ (’ēch, “how”), and less frequently of אֵיכָה (’ēchāh, “how”), but in MH these were largely replaced with הֵיאַךְ (hē’ach, “how”).[117] Non-interrogative uses of הֵיאַךְ, as in our reconstruction, are found in the following examples:

אמ′ ר′ יוחנן בן נורי בא וראה היאך הלכה זו רווחת בישראל

Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri said, “Come and see how [היאך] this halachah is widespread in Israel.” (t. Yev. 1:9; Vienna MS)

אין אומ′ אילו היה אביהן קיים היה נותן להן כך וכך אלא רואין שכנגדן היאך מתפרנסות ונותנין להן

They do not say, “If their father had been alive he would have given them such and such,” rather they see how [היאך] those who are their peers were being maintained, and they would give to them accordingly. (t. Ket. 6:2; Vienna MS)[118]

In LXX αὐξάνειν (avxanein, “to grow”) usually translates either פָּרָה (pārāh, “bear fruit”) or גָּדַל (gādal, “grow”).[119] The former is not suitable in the present context, but the latter might be a viable option for HR. Another option we considered for HR is פָּרַח (pāraḥ, “flower,” “sprout”). This verb is used with צִיץ in a post-biblical text discovered at Qumran:

כי הנה כח[צ]יר יצמח מארצו ופרח כציץ חסדו נשב[ה–] רוחו ויבש וציצו תשא רוח עד אייקום

For behold, like grass he sprouts from his earth and his covenant loyalty blossoms [פרח] like a flower. His wind blows and it dries and the wind carries his flower to nothingness. (4Q185 1-2 I, 9-11)

In the end we decided to reconstruct αὐξάνειν with צָמַח (tzāmaḥ, “sprout,” “grow”), a common verb for describing plant growth in Mishnaic as well as Biblical Hebrew.[120] In the hif‘il stem the root צ-מ-ח is used to describe the growth of grass (חָצִיר [ḥātzir]; Ps. 104:14; 147:8), which is found parallel to צִיץ (tzitz, “flower”) in verses that may have influenced Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (see below, Comment to L38).[121]

A spindle and whorl used for spinning wool. Photographed at the Golan Archaeological Museum by Todd Bolen. Image courtesy of BiblePlaces.com.

L33 οὐ κοπιῶσιν οὐδὲ νήθουσιν (GR). Although the text of Vaticanus reads οὐ κοπιοῦσιν (ou kopiousin), this unusual spelling is probably a scribal error.[122] We have therefore adopted the more usual spelling οὐ κοπιῶσιν (ou kopiōsin, “they do not toil”) for GR, which is attested in the majority of MSS.

אֵינָם עֲמֵלִים וְאֵינָם טוֹוִים (HR). Settling on a verb with which to reconstruct κοπιᾶν (kopian, “to toil”) is difficult. In LXX κοπιᾶν is the translation of several different Hebrew verbs, although it translates יָגַע (yāga‘, “be weary,” “toil”) far more frequently than any of the others.[123] In MH יָגַע continued to be used for “toil” or “labor,”[124] making יָגַע a perfectly acceptable option for HR. Another verb translated as κοπιᾶν in LXX is עָמַל (‘āmal, “toil,” “labor”),[125] and this verb likewise remained current in MH.[126] We have adopted עָמַל for HR simply because it is slightly more common in the Mishnah than יָגַע. An example of the plural participle עֲמֵלִים (amēlim, “they are toiling”) is found in a prayer of Rabbi Nehonyah ben ha-Kanah:

וביציאתו מהו אומר מודה אני לפניך ה′ אלהי ואלהי אבותי שנתת חלקי מיושבי בית המדרש ובתי כנסיות ולא נתת חלקי בבתי תרטיות ובבתי קרקסיות שאני עמל והן עמלים אני שוקד והן שוקדים אני עמל לירש גן עדן והן עמלים לבאר שחת שנאמר כי לא תעזוב נפשי לשאול לא תתן חסידך לראות שחת

And when he [i.e., Rabbi Nehonyah ben ha-Kanah—DNB and JNT] exits [the house of study] what does he say? “I am giving thanks before you, O Lord my God and God of my fathers, that you have set my portion among those who sit in the house of study and synagogues, and that you have not set my portion in the theater houses or in the circus arenas, for I am toiling [עמל] and they are toiling [עמלים], I rise early and they rise early. I am toiling [עמל] to inherit the Garden of Eden, but they are toiling [עמלים] for the pit of destruction, as it is said, For you will not abandon me to Sheol or let your faithful one see the Pit [Ps. 16:10].” (y. Ber. 4:2 [33a])

Deciding how to reconstruct the verb νήθειν (nēthein, “to spin”) is less difficult. In LXX νήθειν translates either טָוָה (ṭāvāh, “spin”) or שָׁזַר (shāzar, “twist”), but since the latter does not occur in the Mishnah, while the former does, טָוָה is the obvious choice for HR. A mishnaic example of טָוָה is found in the following rabbinic statement:

וְאֵיזוֹ הִיא דַת יְהוּדִים יוֹצָא וְרֹאשָׁהּ פָּרוּעַ וְטוֹוָה בַשּׁוּק וּמְדַבֶּרֶת עִם כָּל אָדָם

And who is she that transgresses Jewish custom? She that goes out with her head uncovered or spins [טוֹוָה] in the market or speaks with any person. (m. Ket. 7:6; cf. t. Sot. 5:9)

This unpalatable opinion identifies spinning as women’s work.[127] Scholars often suggest that in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry the ravens are said not to perform men’s work and the flowers are said not to perform work done by women.[128]

L34 λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι (GR). The presence or absence of ὅτι is the only point of disagreement between Matthew and Luke in L34. Since the author of Matthew generally followed the wording of Anth. more closely in this pericope than did the author of Luke, we have retained ὅτι in GR.[129]

וַאֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם (HR). For other examples of אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם (“I am saying to you”) as the reconstruction of λέγω ὑμῖν (“I say to you”), see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, L102; Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, L34, L53; Persistent Widow, L25; Friend in Need, L15, L21; Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, L116; Blessedness of the Twelve, L10.

Here in L34 the coordinating conjunction -וְ (ve-) is used in the sense of “yet” or “nevertheless.”

L35 אַף שְׁלֹמֹה (HR). In LXX אַף (’af, “also,” even”) is more commonly translated as καί (kai, “and”), but there are a few instances where opposite אַף we find οὐδέ (oude, “and not”):

אַף בַּל נִטָּעוּ אַף בַּל זֹרָעוּ אַף בַּל שֹׁרֵשׁ בָּאָרֶץ גִּזְעָם וְגַם נָשַׁף בָּהֶם וַיִּבָשׁוּ

They are not even planted, they are not even sown, their stem has not even taken root in the ground, when he blows on them and they dry up. (Isa. 40:24)

οὐ γὰρ μὴ σπείρωσιν οὐδὲ μὴ φυτεύσωσιν, οὐδὲ μὴ ῥιζωθῇ εἰς τὴν γῆν ἡ ῥίζα αὐτῶν· ἔπνευσεν ἐπ᾿ αὐτοὺς καὶ ἐξηράνθησαν

For they will not sow, nor will they plant, neither will their root take root in the earth; he blew upon them, and they withered…. (Isa. 40:24; NETS)

אַף אֵין מַגִּיד אַף אֵין מַשְׁמִיעַ אַף אֵין שֹׁמֵעַ אִמְרֵיכֶם

There is no one declaring, and no one making it heard, and there is no one listening to your pronouncements. (Isa. 41:26)

οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ προλέγων οὐδὲ ὁ ἀκούων ὑμῶν τοὺς λόγους

There is none who foretells nor any who hears your words. (Isa. 41:26; NETS)

לֹא נָאוָה לְנָבָל שְׂפַת יֶתֶר אַף כִּי לְנָדִיב שְׂפַת שָׁקֶר

Fine lips are not seemly for a fool, likewise lying lips [are not seemly] for an aristocrat. (Prov. 17:7)

οὐχ ἁρμόσει ἄφρονι χείλη πιστὰ οὐδὲ δικαίῳ χείλη ψευδῆ

Faithful lips will not suit a fool, nor false lips the righteous. (Prov. 17:7; NETS)

The spelling Σολομών (Solomōn, “Solomon”) is the accepted rendition of the name שְׁלֹמֹה (Shelomoh, “Solomon”) in NT,[130] but this spelling occurs only once in LXX (2 Kgdms. 8:7), where there is no Hebrew equivalent. Josephus also adopted the spelling Σολομών in his works, as did most other Greek writers.[131] The usual LXX spelling is Σαλωμων (Salōmōn).[132]

L36 בְּכָל כְּבוֹדוֹ (HR). On reconstructing πᾶς (pas, “all,” “every”) with כָּל (kol, “all,” “every”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L26. In LXX the noun δόξα (doxa, “glory”) can represent a number of Hebrew terms, but by far the most common is כָּבוֹד (kāvōd, “glory”).[133] Likewise, כָּבוֹד was translated in LXX as δόξα in the vast majority of instances.[134]

King Solomon as depicted in the 13th-cent. C.E. illuminated MS known as the North French Hebrew Miscellany. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Embedded in an aggadic tradition is a saying that appears to be proverbial, which may illuminate Jesus’ description of “Solomon in all his glory”: כְּבוֹדוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם כְּסוּתוֹ (“a person’s glory is his clothing”).[135] This proverbial statement is not the only source to associate clothing with glory.[136] A fragment of Ben Sira discovered at Qumran mentions “robes of glory” (בגדי כבוד),[137] and in a Greek addition to the book of Esther (Addition D) we read:

καὶ ἐγενήθη ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ, ὡς ἐπαύσατο προσευχομένη, ἐξεδύσατο τὰ ἱμάτια τῆς θεραπείας καὶ περιεβάλετο τὴν δόξαν αὐτῆς

And it happened on the third day, as she ceased praying, she took off the garments of service and put on her glory. (Esth. 5:1; NETS)

In light of these ancient Jewish parallels we could paraphrase “Solomon in all his glory” as “Solomon in his finest clothing.”

Tomson noted the similarity between Jesus’ reference to “Solomon in all his glory” and rabbinic references to “Solomon in his time”:[138]

אֲפִילּוּ אַתְּ עוֹשֶׂה לָהֶם כִּסְעוֹדַת שְׁלֹמֹה בְשַׁעְתוֹ לֹא יָצָאתָה

Even if you make for them [a meal] like a banquet of Solomon in his time, you have not fulfilled your obligation. (m. Bab. Metz. 7:1)

תשעה באב שחל להיות בשבת אוכל אדם כל צרכו ושותה כל צרכו ומעלה על שולחנו כסעודת שלמה בשעתו ואין מונע מעצמו כלום

When the ninth of Av [i.e., a fast day commemorating the destruction of the Temple—DNB and JNT] coincides with the Sabbath a person may eat all he needs and drink all he needs and he may set his table like a banquet of Solomon in his time and he does not deny himself a thing. (t. Taan. 3:13; Vienna MS; cf. t. Sanh. 11:6)

The comparisons to “Solomon in his time” always refer to his extravagant meals, and although Solomon’s wealth was legendary in other respects,[139] Solomon’s clothing is not especially mentioned in other ancient Jewish sources. As Vermes observed, “The latter twist is due to the imagination of Jesus.”[140]

L37 לֹא הִתְכַּסֶּה כְּאַחַד מֵהֶם (HR). In LXX περιβάλλειν (periballein, “to put around”) usually translates the root כ-ס-ה,‎[141] or, less often, ל-ב-שׁ.‎[142] We have adopted the former for HR since it is consistent with the discussion concerning clothing (περὶ ἐνδύματος = וְעַל כְּסוּת; L30). Examples of הִתְכַּסֶּה (hitkaseh, “dress oneself”) in rabbinic sources include:

יָרַד לִטְבּוֹל אִם יָכוֹל לַעֲלוֹת וּלְהִתְכַּסּוֹת וְלִקְרֹאות עַד שֶׁלֹּא תָנֶץ הַחַמָּה יַעֲלֶה וְיִתְכַּסֶּה וְיִקְרֵא

If he went down to immerse: if he is able to come up and to dress himself [לְהִתְכַּסּוֹת] and recite [the Shema] before the sun has risen, he dresses himself [יִתְכַּסֶּה] and recites. (m. Ber. 3:5)

נוֹתֵן לָהּ כֵּלִים שֶׁלְּחֲמִישִּׁים זוּז בִימוֹת הַגְּשָׁמִים וְהִיא מִתְכַּסָּה בִּבְלָיוֹתֵיהֶין בִּימוֹת הַחַמָּה

He gives her garments worth fifty zuz during the days of rain [i.e., winter—DNB and JNT] and she dresses herself [מִתְכַּסָּה] in these worn-out clothes during the days of sun [i.e., summer—DNB and JNT]. (m. Ket. 5:8)

לֹא הָיוּ יְשֵׁינִים בְּבִגְדֵי קוֹדֶשׁ אֶלָּא פוֹשְׁטִין וּמְקַפְּלִין וּמַנִּיחִין אוֹתָן תַּחַת רָאשֵׁיהֶן וּמִתְכַּסִּין כְּסוּת עַצְמָן

They [i.e., the priests on duty in the Temple—DNB and JNT] would not sleep in the holy robes, rather they would disrobe and fold them up and place them under their heads, and they would dress themselves [מִתְכַּסִּין] in their own clothing. (m. Tam. 1:1)

Note that in the final example cited above הִתְכַּסֶּה is used in conjunction with כְּסוּת, precisely as in our reconstruction.

Compare our reconstruction of ὡς ἓν τούτων (“like one of these”) with the LXX translation of כְּאַחַד + ‎מִן in 1 Kgdms. 17:36:

גַּם אֶת הָאֲרִי גַּם הַדּוֹב הִכָּה עַבְדֶּךָ וְהָיָה הַפְּלִשְׁתִּי הֶעָרֵל הַזֶּה כְּאַחַד מֵהֶם

Both lion and bear has your servant struck down, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them. (1 Sam. 17:36)

καὶ τὴν ἄρκον ἔτυπτεν ὁ δοῦλός σου καὶ τὸν λέοντα, καὶ ἔσται ὁ ἀλλόφυλος ὁ ἀπερίτμητος ὡς ἓν τούτων

And your slave would smite both the bear and the lion, and the uncircumcised allophyle shall be like one of these. (1 Kgdms. 17:36; NETS)

The construction כְּאַחַד + ‎מִן is found in biblical and post-biblical sources.[143] An example of כְּאַחַד + ‎מִן from the Mishnah is found in the following statement:

הַחוֹלֵץ לִיבִמְתּוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא כְאֶחַד מִכָּל הָאָחִים בַּנַּחֲלָה

The one who has been released by his dead brother’s wife from levirite marriage: he is like one of all the brothers [כְאֶחַד מִכָּל הָאָחִים] in terms of inheritance. (m. Yev. 4:7)

Jesus’ assessment that not even Solomon’s luxurious robes could match the clothing worn by the flowers has parallels in other ancient sources.[144] It was widely held in the Greco-Roman world that arts and crafts produced by human beings could never match the beauty produced in nature. Thus we read in the works of Pliny the Elder (died 79 C.E.) that “Not even the painter’s art, however, suffices to copy their [i.e., the flowers’—DNB and JNT] colours and the variety of their combinations” (Nat. Hist. 21:1; Loeb). Likewise, Diogenes Laertius (third century C.E.) recorded the following story about a legendary king named Croesus:

Illustration of peafowl by Edward Neale from Indian Sporting Birds (1915).

There is a story that Croesus in magnificent array sat himself down on his throne and asked Solon if he had ever seen anything more beautiful. “Yes,” was the reply, “cocks and pheasants and peacocks; for they shine in nature’s colours, which are ten thousand times more beautiful.” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 1:51; Loeb)

L38 εἰ δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ (GR). It is clear from the Lukan-Matthean agreement to associate “grass” with “field” that both authors drew this association from Anth., and since Matthew’s τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ (“the grass of the field”) looks like an attempt to woodenly translate a Hebrew construct phrase, it is likely that the author of Matthew preserved Anth.’s wording more exactly than did the author of Luke. Luke’s version (“but if in a field God so clothes the grass”)[145] looks like an attempt to polish the Greek style of Anth.’s more Hebraic wording.[146]

אִם כָּךְ אֶת חֲצִיר הַשָּׂדֶה (HR). Although Luke and Matthew agree that οὕτως (houtōs, “thus,” “so”) belongs later in the verse (L41), Hebrew syntax prefers כָּךְ (kāch, “thus,” “so”), the MH equivalent of οὕτως,[147] at the beginning of a sentence, as we observe in the following examples:

אִם כָּךְ הָיְתה {לו} נוֹהֵג לֹּא קִיַּימְתָּה מִצְוַתַ סוּכָּה מִיָּמֶיךָ

If thus you were behaving, you have not fulfilled the commandment of the sukkah in all your days! (m. Suk. 2:7; cf. m. Maksh. 3:4)

אִם כָּךְ אָמַר הַכָּתוּב מִצְטָעֵר אֲנִי עַל דָּמָן שֶׁלָּרְשָׁעִין קַל וָחוֹמֶר עַל דַּם צַדִּיקִים שֶׁנִּישְׁפַּךְ

If thus the Scripture says, “I am grieving over the blood of the wicked,” how much more over the blood of the righteous? (m. Sanh. 6:5)

ר′ עֲקִיבָה אוֹ′ לֹא בָא הַשְּׁלִישִׁי אֶלָּא לְהַחְמִיר עָלָיו וְלַעֲשׂוֹת דִּינוֹ כַיּוֹצֵא בָאֵלּוּ וְאִם כַּךְ עָנַשׁ הַכָּתוּב לַנֵּיטְפַּל לְעוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵירָה כְּעוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵירָה עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה יְשַׁלֵּם שָׂכָר לַנִּיטְפַּל לְעוֹשֶׂה מִצְוָּה כּעוֹשֵׂה מִצְוָה

Rabbi Akiva says, “The third [witness] is not mentioned except to demonstrate stringency concerning him and to make his judgment the same as these [lying witnesses—DNB and JNT]. And if thus [וְאִם כַּךְ] the Scripture punishes the one who supports committers of transgression like the ones committing transgression themselves, how much more will it pay a wage to the one who supports the doer of a commandment like the one doing the commandment himself?” (m. Mak. 1:7)

אָמַ′ ר′ מֵאִיר…אִם כֵּן חָסָה הַתּוֹרָה עַל מָמוֹנוֹ הַבָּזוּיִי קוֹל וָחוֹמֶר עַל מָמוֹנוֹ הֶחָבִיב אִם כָּךְ עַל מָמוֹנוֹ קוֹל וָחוֹמֶר עַל נֶפֶשׁ בָּנָיו וּבְנוֹתָיו אִם כַּךְ עַל שֶׁלָּרָשָׁע קַל וָחוֹמֶר עַל שֶׁלַּצַּדִּיק

Rabbi Meir said, “…If thus the Torah has pity on the property of the despised, how much more so on the property of the beloved? If it is thus concerning his property, how much more so concerning the life of his sons and daughters? If it is thus in the case of what belongs to the wicked, how much more in the case of what belongs to the righteous?” (m. Neg. 12:5)

Note how the majority of the examples of אִם כָּךְ occur in sentences that draw conclusions from kal vahomer arguments. Since Matt. 6:30 // Luke 12:28 likewise draws a conclusion from a kal vahomer argument, we believe אִם כָּךְ is the right choice for HR.

חֲצִיר הַשָּׂדֶה (HR). The phrase [ὁ] χόρτος [τοῦ] ἀγροῦ (“[the] grass of [the] field”) is used in Gen. 2:5; 3:18 and 4 Kgdms. 19:26 to translate עֵשֶׂב [הַ]שָּׂדֶה (“[the] herbs of [the] field”). Nevertheless, we have preferred to reconstruct χόρτος (chortos, “hay,” “grass”) with חָצִיר (ḥātzir, “grass”), since חָצִיר is paired with both instances of צִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה in MT (Isa. 40:6; Ps. 103:15) and with צִיץ in 4Q185 1-2 I, 10. The construct phrase חֲצִיר הַשָּׂדֶה is not found in MT, nor have we found examples of this phrase in DSS or in rabbinic sources. The closest example we have found is in the phrase חציר וירקות שדה (“leeks and vegetables of a field”), which occurs once in the Tosefta (t. Shev. 5:16; Vienna MS). As our translation of the Tosefta passage indicates, in MH חָצִיר came to refer to leeks rather than to grass.[148] Our reconstruction presumes that Jesus used חָצִיר in the older BH sense of the term.[149]

L39 σήμερον ὄντα (GR). We have adopted Matthew’s word order for GR in L39 mainly because the author of Matthew seems to have adhered more closely to the wording of Anth. than did the author of Luke.

שֶׁהַיּוֹם קַיָּם (HR). We have reconstructed the participle ὄντα (onta, “being”) with the MH adjective קַיָּם (qayām, “existing,” “enduring”). An example of קַיָּם used in reference to grass is found in the following midrash on Psalm 119:

זדים הליצוני עד מאד מתורתך לא נטיתי…ועוד חוזרין ואומרים לי, לא תמולו, ולא תשמרו את השבתות, ולא תקראו, ואני מתיירא ממך, ואין אני שומעת להם, שהם חציר יבש, כשם שאין חציר קיים, כך אין דבריהם קיימים לעולם, וכן אמר הכתוב יבש חציר נבל ציץ, וכשם שאתה קיים לעולם, כך דבריך קיימים לעולם, שנאמר ודבר אלהינו יקום לעולם.‏

Insolent persons mocked me to the extreme, but from your Torah I did not stray [Ps. 119:51]…. Once more they [i.e., hostile Gentiles—DNB and JNT] were returning and saying to me, “Do not circumcise! Do not keep the Sabbaths! Do not recite [the Shema]!”[150] But I feared you and I did not listen to them, for they are dry grass [חציר]. Just as grass does not endure [אין חציר קיים], so their words will not endure [קיימים] forever. And thus the Scripture says, Dry grass, a fading flower [Isa. 40:7]. But just as you [i.e., God—DNB and JNT] endure [קיים] forever, so your words endure [קיימים] forever, as it is said, but the word of our God is established forever [Isa. 40:8]. (Midrash Tehillim 119 §20 [ed. Buber, 495])

The short-lived beauty of flowers is a theme common to the Hebrew Bible (Isa. 40:6-8; Ps. 103:15-16; Job 14:2), DSS (1QM XV, 11-12; 4Q185 1-2 I, 10-11), NT (James 1:10-11; 1 Pet. 1:24-25), and the works of Greco-Roman authors (Pliny, Nat. Hist. 21:1).[151]

A reconstructed oven at the Qatzrin museum photographed by Todd Bolen. Image courtesy of BiblePlaces.com.

L40 וּמָחָר בַּתַּנּוּר נָתוּן (HR). In LXX αὔριον (avrion, “tomorrow”) is almost always the translation of מָחָר (māḥār, “tomorrow”).[152] Since מָחָר continued to be used in MH, this is the obvious choice for HR. The choice of תַּנּוּר (tanūr, “oven”) is equally straightforward: in LXX κλίβανος (klibanos, “oven”) always translates תַּנּוּר,‎[153] and in MH תַּנּוּר continued to be used for “baking oven.” More difficult is how to reconstruct βάλλειν (ballein, “to throw”). Although “throw into an oven” is attested in rabbinic sources,[154] “putting” (נ-ת-ן) into an oven was the more common expression.[155] In an unpublished essay Lindsey noted that in Koine Greek the verb βάλλειν lost its intensive sense and came to be used for “to place” or “to put,” a usage that is also reflected in the Gospels.[156] Given the weakened sense of βάλλειν in the Greek of the Gospels, and in light of the use of נָתַן in MH sources for “place in an oven,” we have reconstructed βάλλειν with נָתַן in HR.

The use of stubble and straw as fuel in ovens is mentioned in m. Shab. 3:2. In t. Shev. 5:15 we read of various herbs that were collected for use “as wood” for fires.

L41 ὁ θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν (GR). Between Matt. 6:30 and Luke 12:28 there is disagreement about whether to use the verb ἀμφιεννύναι (Matt.) or ἀμφιάζειν (Luke) for God’s clothing of the grass. Both verbs are rare in LXX, and since they are synonymous it is difficult to decide which ought to be accepted for GR. We have adopted Matthew’s wording in L41 since in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry the author of Matthew adhered more strictly to Anth. than did the author of Luke.

מַלְבִּישׁ שָׁמַיִם (HR). The shift in verb from περιβάλλειν (L37) to ἀμφιεννύναι (L41) may indicate the use of different verbs in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua. For HR we have adopted הִלְבִּישׁ (hilbish, “clothe”) since the root ל-ב-שׁ is more or less synonymous with the root כ-ס-ה.

On reconstructing θεός with שָׁמַיִם, see above, Comment to L17.

L42 πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς (GR). As in L19, we believe the author of Luke copied the πόσῳ μᾶλλον (posō mallon, “How much more?”) construction from Anth.[157]

עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה אַתֶּם (HR). On reconstructing πόσῳ μᾶλλον with עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה, see above, Comment to L19.

L43 מְחוּסְּרֵי אֲמָנָה (HR). Basing his opinion on the supposed lack “of any real equivalent” to ὀλιγόπιστος (oligopistos, “small of faith”) “in the Semitic languages,” Fitzmyer concluded that the label “you of little faith” cannot be traced back to the historical Jesus.[158] Fitzmyer believed that this term must have originated at a Greek stage of the pre-synoptic tradition. Somehow Fitzmyer either overlooked or dismissed the appellation מְחוּסַּר אֲמָנָה (meḥūsar ’amānāh, “deficient of faith”), which appears in tannaic sources such as the following:[159]

וכן היה ר′ אליעזר אומר מי שיש לו מה שיאכל היום ויאמר מה אני אוכל למחר הרי זה ממחוסרי אמנה שנ′ דבר יום ביומו. מי שברא יום ברא פרנסתו.‏

And thus Rabbi Eliezer [ben Hyrcanus] would say: “Whoever has something that he can eat today but says, ‘What will I eat tomorrow?’: behold, this one is among those who lack faith [מחוסרי אמנה], as it is said, a day’s portion in its day [Exod. 16:4]. The one who created day created its sustenance.” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, BeShallaḥ 16:4 [ed. Epstein-Melamed, 106]; cited above, Comment to L5)[160]

Given the similarity between Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus’ saying and the message of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, as well as the temporal proximity between Rabbi Eliezer (late first century C.E.) and Jesus (early first century C.E.), there is little reason to doubt that Jesus did make use of the appellation “deficient of faith” to chide his disciples when they doubted God’s ability or willingness to supply their most basic needs.

L44-49 Although similar in many respects, there are important differences between Matt. 6:31 and Luke 12:29. Matthew’s version begins with “Therefore, do not worry, saying…,” it incorporates direct speech, and it mentions food, drink and clothing. Luke’s version prohibits seeking rather than worrying, and it omits the opening “therefore,” the direct speech and the reference to clothing. On the other hand, Luke’s version includes a prohibition against being perturbed that does not appear in Matthew’s version. We suspect that most of these differences are due to the author of Luke’s editorial activity. The addition of the prohibition μὴ μετεωρίζεσθε (mē meteōrizesthe, “Do not be perturbed”; L49) in particular looks like an attempt on the part of the author of Luke to compensate for the omission of μὴ μεριμνήσητε (mē merimnēsēte, “Do not worry”; L44). Likewise, the replacement of “Do not worry” with “Do not seek” at the opening of the verse appears to have been motivated by a desire to balance the negative command with the positive imperative to seek the Kingdom (L55). The author of Luke may have removed the direct speech for stylistic purposes.[161]

L44 μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε (GR). We initially hesitated to accept Matthew’s wording for GR because precisely the same phrase introduces yet another admonition against worry in Matt. 6:34 (L60). We could not ignore the fact, however, that Luke’s μὴ μετεωρίζεσθε (“Do not be perturbed”) in L49 looks like a paraphrase of Matthew’s μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε (“Therefore, do not worry”) in L44. If our surmise is correct, then we must conclude that Matthew preserves the reading of Anth.

לְפִיכָךְ אַל תְּהַרְהְרוּ (HR). On reconstructing οὖν (oun, “therefore”) with לְפִיכָךְ (lefichāch, “therefore”), see “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves,” L44; and cf. Praying Like Gentiles, L7. On אַל תְּהַרְהְרוּ, see above, Comment to L4.

L45 λέγοντες (GR). As we noted in Comment to L44-49, it was probably the author of Luke who eliminated the direct speech from this verse. We have therefore included Matthew’s λέγοντες (legontes, “saying”) in GR.

לוֹמַר (HR). Since in L45 we are reconstructing speech rather than narrative, we have used the MH infinitive לוֹמַר (lōmar, “to say”) as opposed to the BH infinitive לֵאמֹר (lē’mor, “to say”).

L46 מַה נֹּאכַל (HR). On reconstructing ἐσθίειν with אָכַל, see above, Comment to L5. Compare our reconstruction in L46 to the following verse from Leviticus:

וְכִי תֹאמְרוּ מַה נֹּאכַל בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִת

And if you say, “What will we eat in the sabbatical year…?” (Lev. 25:20)

ἐὰν δὲ λέγητε Τί φαγόμεθα ἐν τῷ ἔτει τῷ ἑβδόμῳ τούτῳ

But if you say, “What will we eat in this sabbatical year…?” (Lev. 25:20)

L47 אוֹ מַה נִּשְׁתֶּה (HR). The vast majority of instances of אוֹ (’ō, “or”) in the first five books of the Bible are rendered (ē, “or”) in LXX.[162] In MH אוֹ continued to be used, making אוֹ a solid choice for HR.

On reconstructing πινεῖν with ‎שָׁתָה, see above, Comment to L6. Compare our reconstruction in L47 with the following verse from Exodus:

וַיִּלֹּנוּ הָעָם עַל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר מַה נִּשְׁתֶּה

And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What will we drink?” (Exod. 15:24)

καὶ διεγόγγυζεν ὁ λαὸς ἐπὶ Μωυσῆν λέγοντες Τί πιόμεθα

And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What will we drink?” (Exod. 15:24)

L48 אוֹ בַּמֶּה נִתְכַּסֶּה (HR). On reconstructing περιβάλλειν with הִתְכַּסֶּה, see above, Comment to L37. Although in the Greek text there is nothing corresponding to the preposition -בְּ (be, “in,” “with”), the Hebrew reads awkwardly without it.[163] In the following examples we find that although the combination -הִתְכַּסֶּה בְּ occurs in the Hebrew text there is no corresponding preposition in the Greek translation:

וְהוּא מִתְכַּסֶּה בְּשַׂלְמָה חֲדָשָׁה

…and he dressed himself in a new robe…. (1 Kgs. 11:29)

καὶ ὁ Αχιας περιβεβλημένος ἱματίῳ καινῷ

…and Achias had clothed himself with a new garment…. (3 Kgdms. 11:29; NETS)

וַיִּקְרַע אֶת בְּגָדָיו וַיִּתְכַּס בַּשָּׂק

And he tore his garments and dressed himself in sackcloth…. (2 Kgs. 19:1)

καὶ διέρρηξεν τὰ ἱμάτια ἑαυτοῦ καὶ περιεβάλετο σάκκον

…he tore his own clothes and put on sackcloth…. (4 Kgdms. 19:1; NETS)[164]

The absence in these examples of a Greek preposition corresponding to -בְּ strengthens our conviction that -בְּ ought to be attached to מָה (māh, “what?”) in HR.

L49 καὶ μὴ μετεωρίζεσθε (Luke 12:29). As we noted above in Comment to L44-49, we believe Luke’s addition of “Do not be perturbed” at the end of this verse was an attempt to compensate for his omission of “Do not be worried” at the verse’s opening. The verb μετεωρίζειν (meteōrizein) primarily refers to elevation or buoyancy, which explains its use in LXX as the translation of הִגְבִּיהַּ (higbiah, “make high”), נָשָׂא (nāsā’, “lift”) and רָם (rām, “be exalted”).[165] In a figurative sense, μετεωρίζειν was used for being tossed about or unsettled.[166] The author of Luke used μετεωρίζειν as a synonym for “to worry,” hence our translation, “Do not be perturbed.”

L50 πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα (GR). According to Matthew, “the Gentiles seek all these things,” whereas according to Luke, “all the Gentiles of the world seek these things.” In Comment to L4 we discussed the possible influence of Deut. 28:48 (“And so you will serve your enemy, whom the LORD will send among you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things”) on Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry. We also saw how a rabbinic midrash developed this warning by portraying Gentiles demanding material goods from Israel at the very moment when Israel lacked all things. Given the similarities between Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry and the rabbinic midrash, and the possible influence of Deut. 28:48 on both, we believe Matthew’s wording preserves the word order of Anth.

L51 τὰ ἔθνη τοῦ κόσμου (GR). There are three main reasons why we have adopted Luke’s longer epithet, “the Gentiles of the world,” for GR:

  1. The explanation that the author of Luke added “of the world” in order to soften the criticism of Gentiles in this verse is unconvincing.[167]
  2. Despite using ἔθνος (ethnos) frequently in his writings to refer to Gentiles, Luke 12:30 is the only place where the author of Luke used the phrase “the Gentiles of the world,” which strongly indicates that this particular usage reflects the wording of his source.[168]
  3. Luke’s τὰ ἔθνη τοῦ κόσμου looks like an attempt to render a Hebrew construct phrase corresponding precisely to אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם (’ūmōt hā‘ōlām, “the Gentiles of the world”), a common designation for Gentiles in rabbinic sources.[169] The author of Matthew may have omitted τοῦ κόσμου either because he regarded it as redundant (where else do Gentles come from?), or because he was aware of the derogatory tone of the expression “the Gentiles of the world.”

אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם (HR). In BH the noun עוֹלָם (‘ōlām) referred to a (very long) duration of time, which explains why עוֹלָם was usually rendered in LXX as αἰών (aiōn, “age,” “aeon”), but never rendered as κόσμος (kosmos, “world,” “universe”) in LXX.[170] In MH, however, עוֹלָם acquired the meaning “world” or “universe,”[171] as seen in phrases such as אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם (“Gentiles of the world”). Thus it appears that in Luke’s phrase τὰ ἔθνη τοῦ κόσμου we have a non-Septuagintal rendering of עוֹלָם with κόσμος, which reflects the evolution of the meaning of the Hebrew term.

Above in Comment to L4 we cited a rabbinic source in which the אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם (“Gentiles of the world”), make impossible demands of Jews for food and drink and clothing. The image of food-, drink- and clothing-obsessed Gentiles must have been a widespread stereotype among Jews in the Second Temple period. The author of the Letter of Aristeas contrasted Jews and Gentiles in this manner:

…οἱ Αἰγυπτίων καθηγεμόνες ἱερεῖς…ἀνθρώπους θεοῦ προσονομάζουσιν ἡμᾶς· ὃ τοῖς λοιποῖς οὐ πρόσεστιν, εἰ μή τις σέβεται τὸν κατὰ ἀλήθειαν θεόν, ἀλλ᾿ εἰσὶν ἄνθρωποι βρωτῶν καὶ ποτῶν καὶ σκέπης· ἡ γὰρ πᾶσα διάθεσις αὐτῶν ἐπὶ ταῦτα καταφεύγει. τοῖς δὲ παρ᾿ ἡμῶν ἐν οὐδενὶ ταῦτα λελόγισται, περὶ δὲ τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ δυναστείας δι᾿ ὅλου τοῦ ζῇν ἡ σκέψις αὐτοῖς

…the priests who are the guides of the Egyptians…have named us [i.e., the Jews—DNB and JNT] ‘men of God,’ a title applicable to none others but only to him who reveres the true God. The rest are men of food and drink and raiment [ἄνθρωποι βρωτῶν καὶ ποτῶν καὶ σκέπης], for their whole disposition has recourse to these things. With our countrymen, however, these things are reckoned as of nothing worth, but throughout the whole of life their contemplation is on the sovereignty of God. (Let. Arist. §140-141)[172]

The contrast between Gentiles who are wholly consumed with consumption and Jews who contemplate God’s sovereignty is a striking parallel to the contrast Jesus made between the seeking that characterizes the Gentiles of the world and the kind of seeking his disciples ought to pursue. This parallel challenges those scholars who assume that “seeking the Kingdom” in Matt. 6:33 // Luke 12:31 introduces an intrusive eschatological motif into the pericope, which must have been added to Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry at a Greek stage of the pre-synoptic transmission.[173] In light of the above-cited passage from the Letter of Aristeas, Jesus’ advice to “seek the Kingdom of God” rather than food, drink and clothing looks like a typical piece of Jewish instruction.

L52 מְבַקְּשִׁים (HR). Matthew and Luke agree to use the compound verb ἐπιζητεῖν (epizētein, “to seek earnestly”) to describe the inappropriate seeking of the Gentiles in contrast to the correct manner of seeking (ζητεῖν) recommended to the disciples (L55). In LXX ἐπιζητεῖν is more often the translation of דָּרַשׁ (dārash, “seek,” “demand”) than of בִּקֵּשׁ (biqēsh, “seek,” “request”).[174] We suspect, however, that the same verb, בִּקֵּשׁ, stands behind ζητεῖν and ἐπιζητεῖν in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry. On reconstructing ζητεῖν with בִּקֵּשׁ, see Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl, Comment to L12.

Above, in Comment to L4, we already discussed one source in which “the Gentiles of the world” (אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם) were said to be “seeking” or “demanding” (מְבַקְּשִׁין) food and drink and clothing (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 20:1 [ed. Schechter, 70-71]). Another example that discusses improper seeking (or demanding) on the part of the Gentiles of the world is found in a rabbinic parable:

ופניתי אליכם. משלו משל למה הדבר דומה למלך ששכר פועלים הרבה והיה שם פועל אחד ועשה עמו מלאכה ימים הרבה. נכנסו הפועלים ליטול שכרם ונכנס אותו הפועל עמהם אמר לו המלך לאותו הפועל בני אפנה לך. הרובים הללו שעשו עמי מלאכה ממועטת ואני נותן להם שכר מועט. אבל אתה חשבון רב אני עתיד לחשב עמך. כך היו ישראל בעולם הזה מבקשים שכרם מלפני המקום. ואומות העולם מבקשים שכרם מלפני המקום. והמקום אומר להם לישראל בניי אפנה לכם. אומות העולם הללו עשו עמי מלאכה מועטת ואני נותן להם שכר מועט. אבל אתם חשבון רב אני עתיד לחשב עמכם לכך נאמר ופניתי אליכם

And I will turn to you [Lev. 26:9]. They told a parable: To what may the matter be compared? To a king who hired many workers, and there was one worker there who worked for him many days. The workers entered to take their wage, and that same worker entered with them. The king said to that same worker, “My son, I will turn to you presently. These many who did little work for me—I am giving them little pay. But you—in the future I will settle a large bill with you.” In this way Israel was seeking [מבקשים] their wage in this world from the Omnipresent one and the Gentiles of the world were likewise seeking [ואומות העולם מבקשים] their wage from the Omnipresent one. So the Omnipresent one says to Israel, “My sons, I will turn to you presently. These Gentiles of the world [אומות העולם] did little work for me, and I am giving them little pay. But with you I will settle a large bill,” as it is said, I will turn to you [Lev. 26:9]. (Sifra, BeḤukotai 2:5 [ed. Weiss, 111a])

Here, too, the improper seeking (or demanding) of the Gentiles is contrasted with Israel’s right conduct.

L53 οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν (GR). We have accepted Matthew’s wording in L53 with the exception of ὁ οὐράνιος (ho ouranios, “the heavenly”). As we discussed above in Comment to L17, the uniquely Matthean formula ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος (“the father of you, the heavenly”) is a Grecized version of the highly Hebraic construction ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (“the father of you, the one in the heavens”). Not only does the appellation “heavenly Father” bear the marks of Greek retouching, but there is only one example in which ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν/μου ὁ οὐράνιος in Matthew is supported by a synoptic parallel.[175] In DT pericopae there are two cases where opposite Matthew’s “your heavenly Father” Luke simply reads “your Father” (Matt. 5:48 vs. Luke 6:36; Matt. 6:32 vs. Luke 12:30), and one case where in place of “your heavenly Father” Luke has “God” (Matt. 6:26 vs. Luke 12:24). The rest of the uses of “heavenly Father” occur in verses unique to the Gospel of Matthew, where the likelihood of Matthean redaction is high.[176] While we entertained the possibility of amending ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος to the more Hebraic ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς in GR, in the end we preferred to adopt the simpler epithet “your Father.”[177]

There are several instances in the Synoptic Gospels where Jesus refers to God as “your Father” when speaking to his disciples. While some of these examples may be redactional (e.g., Matt. 6:15; Luke 12:32), others likely reflect the wording of Anth.[178] Especially pertinent to the present discussion is the example in Praying Like Gentiles (L8-10), which contains a statement parallel to that in Matt. 6:32 // Luke 12:30:

Matt. 6:8 Matt. 6:32
οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων ἁπάντων.
For your Father knows what need you have before you ask him. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these.

Thus, “heavenly Father” in L53 is not even supported by a parallel from elsewhere in Matthew’s own Gospel. Under these circumstances, adding ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς to ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν seems gratuitous. Undoubtedly the disciples were able to discern from the context of Jesus’ teaching that “your Father” referred to God, especially since not all Jesus’ disciples shared the same human father.

L54 ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων ἁπάντων (GR). The scribe who produced Codex Vaticanus accidentally wrote χρῆτε (chrēte, “you use”) in Matt. 6:32 instead of χρῄζετε (chrēzete, “you need”). Apart from this scribal error, the wording of Matthew and Luke in L54 is identical, except for Matthew’s use of ἅπας (hapas, “all,” “every”) at the end of the sentence. Matthew and Luke differ with respect to “all” again in L59, with Matthew including “all” and Luke omitting it. Since we believe that Deut. 28:48—which warns that disobeying God’s commands will result in being in want of “all things”—probably stands somewhere in the background of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, we regard the repetition of “all” as original.

שֶׁאַתֶּם צְרִיכִים כָּל אֵלּוּ (HR). The verb χρῄζειν (chrēzein, “to need”) does not occur in LXX; neither does the adjective צָרִיךְ (tzārich, “needing”) occur in MT. Nevertheless, צָרִיךְ is the obvious choice for HR.

Although in LXX כֹּל (kol, “all,” “every”) was most commonly rendered with πᾶς (pas, “all,” “every”),[179] in nearly every instance where ἅπας was used to translate a Hebrew term in LXX that word is כֹּל.‎[180] We do not know why πᾶς was used in L50 and L59, while ἅπας was used in L54. Perhaps the variation was simply because, like the author of Luke, the Greek translator of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua felt that the repetition of “all” was tiresome.

L55 ζητεῖτε δὲ (GR). We have accepted Matthew’s wording for GR, omitting πρῶτον (prōton, “first”), which looks like a concession intended to temper the harshness of Jesus’ injunction. The conjunction πλήν (plēn, “but”) in Luke 12:31 is likely redactional.

אֶלָּא בַּקְּשׁוּ (HR). אֶלָּא (’elā’) is a Mishnaic Hebrew conjunction meaning “but” or “rather.” On reconstructing ζητεῖν with בִּקֵּשׁ, see above, Comment to L52.

L56 τὴν δικαιοσύνην (Matt. 6:33 [Vaticanus]). The scribe who produced Codex Vaticanus “corrected” the word order, placing “righteousness” ahead of “his Kingdom,” perhaps assuming that righteousness was a prerequisite for entry into the Kingdom (cf. Matt. 5:20).[181] Unlike Matt. 5:20, however, the issue at stake is not “your righteousness” but “his [i.e., God’s] righteousness.”[182] God’s saving deeds are often referred to as “righteousness” in the Hebrew Scriptures, making God’s Kingdom and his righteousness roughly synonymous.

L57 אֶת מַלְכוּתוֹ (HR). The antecedent of “his kingdom” is “your Father” in L53. While “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God” is more common in the Gospels, whose kingdom was meant would not have been misunderstood. In the Lord’s Prayer the disciples prayed “your Kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10). Likewise, in the benediction בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד (“Blessed is the name of the glory of his Kingdom forever and ever”), which was pronounced in the Temple on the Day of Atonement (m. Yom. 3:8; 4:1), whose kingdom was intended was unambiguous.

L58 καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ (GR). We have accepted Matthew’s “and his righteousness” as original. The author of Luke, as elsewhere in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (L6, L48), trimmed away what he regarded as unnecessary.

וְאֶת צִדְקָתוֹ (HR). In LXX δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosūnē, “righteousness”) is usually the translation of צֶדֶק (tzedeq, “righteousness”) or צְדָקָה (tzedāqāh, “righteousness”). According to Weinfeld, in the Hebrew Scriptures the distinction between these two terms is between the abstract principle (צֶדֶק) and concrete action (צְדָקָה).[183] Compare our Hebrew reconstruction of δικαιοσύνη to the following verse from the Psalms:

הוֹדִיעַ יי יְשׁוּעָתוֹ לְעֵינֵי הַגּוֹיִם גִּלָּה צִדְקָתוֹ

The LORD has make known his salvation, before the eyes of the Gentiles he has revealed his righteousness. (Ps. 98:2)

ἐγνώρισεν κύριος τὸ σωτήριον αὐτοῦ, ἐναντίον τῶν ἐθνῶν ἀπεκάλυψεν τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ

The Lord made known his deliverance; before the nations he revealed his righteousness. (Ps. 97:2; NETS)

In Lord’s Prayer (Comment to L13) we discussed the conceptual link in ancient Jewish sources between the Kingdom of Heaven and the sanctification of God’s name. Here, God’s Kingdom is linked to his saving deeds of righteousness. Since it is through God’s righteous deeds on behalf of Israel that the Gentiles are made to recognize the God of Israel as the one true God, all three concepts are almost inextricably related. The mention of God’s Kingdom and his righteousness is a mirror image of the petitions for the sanctification of God’s name and the coming of his Kingdom in the Lord’s Prayer.

L59 καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν (GR). Once again, we have accepted Matthew’s “all” in GR (cf. L50, L54).

וְכָל אֵלּוּ יִתְוַסְּפוּ לָכֶם (HR). Here, Jesus insists that if the disciples make the Kingdom of Heaven their sole focus God will provide their food and drink and clothing, just as he had provided for Israel during their wanderings in the desert. The promise was not for wealth or abundance. God’s provision for the disciples would be like that which is allotted to the ravens: enough for each day without the burden of having to store away extra against an uncertain future. Jesus does not specify the means by which God would supply the disciples with these provisions. Although Jesus, like some other Jewish sages, described God’s provision for full-time disciples in terms of the gift of manna, practically speaking, Jesus probably meant that God would see to it that the disciples received hospitality from friends and strangers in return for the teachings, healings and exorcisms they performed in Jesus’ name.[184]

Above, in Comment to L24, we discussed reconstructing προστιθέναι with הוֹסִיף. Here in L59 a passive form is indicated by the Greek text. In MH the passive of הוֹסִיף was expressed with the hitpa‘el or nitpa‘el stem, as the following examples demonstrate:

זכיתי לכם ולכל שנתוספו עליכם

I have acquired it for you and for all who were added [שנתוספו] to you. (t. Eruv. 6:1 [Vienna MS])

מניין לדורות הבאים אחריכם ולגרים שנתוספו עליכם

From where [do we learn that Moses spoke] to the generations coming after you and to the proselytes who were added [שנתוספו] to you? (t. Sot. 7:5 [Vienna MS])

ויאמר לא יעקב יאמר עוד שמך וגו′ הראשון נתקיים לו והשני נתוסף לו

And he said, “No more shall your name be called Jacob” etc. [Gen. 32:29]. The first [name] was continued for him, and the second was added [נתוסף] to him. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 16 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:91])

לא הגלה הקדוש ברוך הוא את ישראל לבין האומות אלא כדי שיתוספו עליהם גרים

The Holy one, blessed be he, did not exile Israel among the peoples, except in order that proselytes might be added [יתוספו] to them. (b. Pes. 87b)

The above examples also demonstrate that the nitpa‘el of י-ס-ף‎ could take either the preposition עַל ( ‘al, “upon”) or -לְ (le, “to”). Since -לְ more closely resembles the dative of the Greek text, we have adopted it for HR.

L60-63 Matthew 6:34, which contains another saying about worry, has no counterpart in the Lukan version of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry. This raises the possibility that the author of Matthew tacked this additional saying on worry onto the end of the discourse proper. Scholars note that Matt. 6:34 makes no reference to food, drink or clothing, and that the reasoning does not take the form of a kal vahomer argument, which makes this additional saying distinct from the rest of the discourse. Moreover, Matt. 6:34 introduces a new theme—anxiety about the future—whereas the rest of the discourse deals with anxiety about obtaining basic human needs.

However, if our hypothesis is correct that Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry originally belonged to a longer teaching complex that covered the instruction Jesus gave to his disciples on prayer, then the disconnect between Matt. 6:34 and the rest of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry may be less severe than many scholars assume. In the petition for bread in the Lord’s Prayer the meeting of basic human needs is made contingent upon time: “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11; cf. Luke 11:3). This temporal contingency is mirrored in the shift from addressing anxiety about food, drink and clothing to addressing anxiety about tomorrow in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry. Since we believe it was precisely the anxiety generated by the disciples’ commitment to rely solely on God’s provision for their basic needs from day to day that Jesus addressed in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (as well as in the several illustrations that followed in the conjectured “How to Pray” complex, including the Friend in Need and Fathers Give Good Gifts similes), we do not believe it is necessary to suppose that the author of Matthew secondarily tacked the saying in Matt. 6:34 onto the end of the discourse. We regard Matt. 6:34 as an integral part of the discourse that addresses the temporal aspect of the disciples’ petition for daily bread.

L60 לְפִיכָךְ אַל תְּהַרְהְרוּ (HR). On our reconstruction of μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε, see above, Comment to L44.

L61 לְמָחָר (HR). In LXX εἰς [τὴν] αὔριον (eis [tēn] avrion, “to [the] tomorrow”) is the translation of לְמָחָר (lemāḥār, “for tomorrow”) in Exod. 8:6; Num. 11:18; Josh. 7:13; Esth. 5:12. The only instance of לְמָחָר in MT not translated with εἰς [τὴν] αὔριον is in Exod. 8:19, where לְמָחָר is rendered ἐν τῇ αὔριον (en tē avrion, “in [the] tomorrow”).

Above, in Comment to L10, we cited a rabbinic parable in which Rabbi Shimon illustrated the reason why the manna was parceled out every day rather than allowing the entire year’s allotment to be given once per annum. The answer was that it created a close familial bond between God and Israel, as each day Israel would come before their heavenly Father to pray for the manna. In the application of his parable we learn that Rabbi Shimon regarded daily prayer as a remedy against worry about tomorrow:

כך ישראל היו בביתו של אדם חמש זכרים או חמש נקבות היה יושב ומצפה ואומר אוי לי שמא לא ירד המן למחר ונמצינו מתים ברעב יהי רצון מלפניך שירד ונמצאו הופכים את לבם לשמים

So with Israel. In the house of a man who had five boys or five girls, he would sit and look ahead [to the future] and say, “Woe to me! Perhaps the manna for tomorrow [למחר] will not descend, and we will be found dead from hunger. May it be pleasing before you that it will descend!” So they were found turning their hearts toward Heaven. (Sifre Num. §89 [ed. Horovitz, 90])

Similar to the above statement, we believe Jesus’ counsel against worrying about tomorrow is related to daily prayer for manna-like provision from God.

L62 ἡ γὰρ αὔριον μεριμνήσει ἑαυτῆς (GR). Codex Vaticanus reads μεριμνήσει αυτῆς (“it will worry of it”) instead of μεριμνήσει ἑαυτῆς (“it will worry for itself”) as in critical texts. The difference concerns merely one letter, and it is likely that it was accidentally dropped by the scribe who produced Codex Vaticanus. We have therefore accepted the reading of the critical editions for GR.

כִּי מָחָר יְהַרְהֵר לְעַצְמוֹ (HR). The adverb αὔριον (avrion, “tomorrow”) is the LXX equivalent of מָחָר (māḥār, “tomorrow”).[185] The use of עֶצֶם + pronominal suffix as a reflexive pronoun is characteristic of MH, but is not found in earlier sources.[186] Compare our reconstruction to the following examples of לְעַצְמוֹ (le‘atzmō, “for itself/himself”).

הָיוּ יוֹשְׁבִים כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מְבָרֶךְ לְעַצְמוֹ הֵסַבּוּ אֶחָד מְבָרֵךְ לְכֻלָּם

If they were sitting each by themselves, each one blesses for himself [לְעַצְמוֹ], but if they were reclining together, one blesses for all of them. (m. Ber. 6:6)

ר′ יְהוּדָה או′ כּוֹתֵב הוּא אָדָם תְּפִילִּים וּמְזוּזוֹת לְעַצְמוֹ וְטווֶֹה עַל יְרֵיכוֹ תְכֵלֶת לְצִיצָיתוֹ

Rabbi Yehudah says, “A person may write tefillim [i.e., phylacteries—DNB and JNT] and mezuzot for himself [לְעַצְמוֹ] and spin the blue cord for his tzitziot [i.e., fringes (cf. Num. 15:38)—DNB and JNT] on his thigh.” (m. Moed Kat. 3:4)

L63 דַּיּוֹ לַיּוֹם רָעָתוֹ (HR). The adjective ἀρκετός (arketos, “sufficient”) does not occur in LXX. In MT דַּי (dai, “enough”), which we have used as the Hebrew equivalent of ἀρκετός, occurs occasionally with a pronominal suffix.[187] In MH this became much more common. Examples of דַּי + pronominal suffix + -לְ include the following:

דַּיָּיהּ לַקּוֹרָה שֶׁתְּהֵא רְחָבָה טֶפַח

It is enough for the beam that it be a handbreadth wide. (m. Eruv. 1:3)

דַּיּוֹ לַבָּא מִן הַדִּין לִהְיוֹת כַּנָּדוֹן

It is enough for the ruling reached by deliberation to be like that which is explicitly stated. (m. Bab. Kam. 2:5; m. Nid. 4:6)

דַּיּוֹ לַיָּחִיד שֶׁיְּהֵא פַחוּת מִן הַצִּיבּוּר אֶחָד

It is enough for the individual that he be less than the public by one. (m. Men. 12:4)

דיו לעבד שיהיה כרבו

It is enough for a servant that he be like his master. (Sifra, BeHar chpt. 4 [ed. Weiss, 108b])

אהיה אשר אהיה אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה לך אמור להם לישראל אני הייתי עמכם בשעבוד זה ואני אהיה עמכם בשעבוד מלכיות אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם דיה לצרה בשעתה אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא לך אמור להם אהיה שלחני אליכם

I AM that I AM [Exod. 3:14]. The Holy one, blessed be he, said to Moses, “Go say to Israel, ‘I was with you in this slavery and I will be with you in the slavery of the empires to come.’” Moses said before him, “Master of the universe, it is enough for distress to be in its own time [דיה לצרה בשעתה]!” The Holy one, blessed be he, said to him, “Go say to them, I AM has sent me to you” [Exod. 3:14]. (b. Ber. 9b)

The last of the above examples is often compared to Jesus’ saying in Matt. 6:34.

On reconstructing ἡμέρα (hēmera, “day”) as יוֹם (yōm, “day”), see Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L5.

In LXX, where κακία (kakia, “badness”) is found, it is almost always the translation of רָעָה (rā‘āh, “evil”).[188] The noun רָעָה is more frequently translated with κακός (kakos, “bad”) in LXX, but κακία is the second most common translation.[189]

Redaction Analysis

Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry is a DT pericope with a relatively high degree of verbal agreement between its Lukan and Matthean versions. The differences between the two versions are probably due to the editorial activity of the authors of Matthew and Luke rather than to each author’s reliance on a different source.

Luke’s Version

The author of Luke made changes to every one of the verses in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry. Some of the changes were quite invasive, whereas others were relatively minor. The minor redactional changes in Luke are stylistic in nature: the author of Luke subtracted or added details for the sake of symmetry (L6, L16), he converted a rhetorical question into a positive statement (L9), he selected more refined vocabulary (L12, L31, L41, L49, L55), he eliminated clunky Hebraic construct-like phrases (L21, L31, L38), he made omissions for the sake of brevity (L27, L34, L54, L58, L59), he varied word order (L26, L38, L39, L49, L50, L53), he changed the plural verbs accompanying plural neuter nouns to singular in accordance with proper Greek style (L32, L33), he changed “worry” to “seek” in order to achieve greater cohesion (L44), and he homogenized the texture of the pericope by removing direct speech (L45-48). None of these stylistic changes greatly affected the meaning or content of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry.

More significant are the addition of an entire verse (Luke 12:26; L28-29), in which the author of Luke paraphrased Jesus’ argument in order to clarify the message for his readers, and the omission of the saying corresponding to Matt. 6:34, which the author of Luke may have felt added little to the overall message of the discourse.

Despite the many redactional changes the author of Luke made to his source, there are points at which Luke’s version is superior to Matthew’s. The author of Luke correctly preserved “ravens” as the subject of the illustration concerning clothing (L13), he rightly named God as the provider for the ravens (L17), and he preserved the reference to “the birds” in L21. The author of Luke also designated the Gentiles as τὰ ἔθνη τοῦ κόσμου (L51), thereby preserving the earliest evidence for the phrase אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, which is ubiquitous in rabbinic sources.

It is quite possible that the author of Luke added the introductory explanation (“And he said to his disciples”; L1-2) to the beginning of the discourse.

Matthew’s Version

The author of Matthew reproduced the wording of Anth. with remarkable fidelity. Even when he decided to eliminate “ravens,” the author of Matthew borrowed terminology from elsewhere in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (L13; cf. L21).[190] Two other changes of note are Matthew’s insertion of “your heavenly Father” in place of “God” in L17 (cf. the addition of ὁ οὐράνιος [“the heavenly”] in L53), and his avoidance of Anth.’s πόσῳ μᾶλλον construction (L19, L42). Perhaps the author of Matthew dropped “of the world” from the phrase τὰ ἔθνη τοῦ κόσμου out of sensitivity to the negative overtones of the Hebrew phrase אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם (“Gentiles of the world”).

Results of This Research

Small birds pecking at crumbs in the picnic area at Beit Guvrin National Park in Israel. Photographed by Joshua N. Tilton.

1. Why were the disciples so worried about the basic necessities of life? The anxiety the disciples experienced, to which Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry so poignantly attests, was almost certainly the result of their renunciation of property and profession in order to itinerate full-time with Jesus.[191] Without a normal means of income, the disciples had to rely on God to provide for their most basic needs. While Jesus promised that God would indeed provide for them, sometimes that provision was as sparing as that which is given to the wild birds that peck at seeds and crumbs. The Gospels suggest that sometimes the disciples experienced hunger (cf. Matt. 12:1). The disciples’ anxieties were realistic and Jesus did not castigate them when their confidence faltered. In Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry we see how Jesus engendered trust in God’s good character with sensitivity and gentle humor.

2. What was the original context of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry? This question has to be answered in two parts. First, we will address the social context of the discourse, after which we will address its probable literary context.

As we noted above, Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry addresses the disciples’ anxieties arising from their decision not to support themselves during the tenure of their discipleship from their own property or labor in a secular occupation. Not all Jewish teachers made such radical demands, and rabbinic sources reveal that opinions among the sages were divided on the issue of whether Torah study ought to be balanced with work, or whether discipleship ought to be an exclusive endeavor. A moderate or balanced approach was adopted by sages such as Rabbi Meir, who said, “Do a little business, but be busy in the Torah” (m. Avot 4:10), and Rabban Gamliel the son of Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi, who opined that “Torah study with a worldly occupation is comely, since these two labors cause sin to be forgotten, but all Torah that is unaccompanied with work in the end is nullified and causes sin” (m. Avot 2:2). A more radical position was adopted by Rabbi Nehorai, who said, “I have forsaken every trade that is in the world and I have not taught my sons anything but Torah, for they consume the wage of their work in this world, yet its whole value remains for them in the world to come. For there is no trade that stands by a person for more than his youth. Rather, if he becomes sick, or experiences suffering, or if he enters old age, he is not able to remain at his work, and he is found dead from hunger. But the Torah is not like that, rather it guards a person from all evil during his youth and it gives him an end and a hope in his old age” (m. Kid. 4:14).[192]

These opposing opinions were championed by two of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai’s disciples, with Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus taking the radical view that discipleship ought to exclude other pursuits, and Rabbi Yehoshua taking the view that Torah study should be balanced with a secular occupation. Juxtaposed to Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion that only “eaters of manna” are able to study Torah, since discipleship is a full-time occupation (quoted above, Comment to L5-8), we find Rabbi Yehoshua’s opinion that “a person who studies two halachot in the morning and two halachot in the evening and does manual labor all day: it is attributed to him as though he fulfilled the entire Torah” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, BeShallaḥ 16:4 [ed. Epstein-Melamed, 107]). In succeeding generations the two views were championed by Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, with Rabbi Ishmael adopting a moderate stance and Rabbi Shimon taking the hardline approach. The moderate approach eventually prevailed, as we learn from the following source:

Our rabbis taught [in a baraita]: And you shall gather your grain [Deut. 11:14]. What is the need for this commandment? Because it says, Do not let this book of the Torah depart from your mouth [Josh. 1:8], and these words could be taken literally. Therefore, this commandment teaches And you shall gather your grain, that you should conduct a worldly occupation. These are the words of Rabbi Ishmael. Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai says, “It is possible that a person plows at the time for plowing, and sows at the time for sowing, and harvests at the time of harvest, and threshes at the time of threshing, and winnows when there is wind, and the Torah—what becomes of it? Rather, when Israel does the will of the Omnipresent one their work will be done by others, as it is said, Strangers will stand and tend your flocks, etc. [Isa. 61:5], but when Israel does not do the will of the Omnipresent one their work is done by themselves, as it is said, And you shall gather your grain. And not only that, but the work of others shall be done by their hands, as it is said, And you shall serve your enemy, etc. [Deut. 28:48].” Abaye said, “Many have done according to Rabbi Ishmael’s advice, and succeeded, and according to Rabbi Shimon’s advice, and it did not succeed.” (b. Ber. 35b; cf. Sifre Deut. §42 [ed. Finkelstein, 90])

This intra-rabbinic debate over whether discipleship ought to be balanced with secular work appears to be the social context with which to appreciate Jesus’ radical demands. Jesus was an early representative of the hardline approach that saw discipleship as a full-time occupation in its own right.

It is important to emphasize that those who took the more radical approach to discipleship did not have a negative view of manual labor as such; they simply believed that discipleship was equal to any other full-time occupation, and that it must be pursued as seriously and as wholeheartedly as any other profession if it is to meet with success. Jesus referred to the apostles as “workers” (Matt. 9:37 // Luke 10:2)[193] and stated that they deserved their wage (Matt. 10:10 // Luke 10:7),[194] which shows that he did not consider them to be idle.

The original literary context of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry may well have been an extended teaching on prayer. Supporting this view are the following considerations:

  1. A contrast is drawn in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry between the inappropriate seeking/demanding (ἐπιζητεῖν, בִּקֵּשׁ) of the Gentiles on the one hand and the proper seeking/requesting (ζητεῖν, בִּקֵּשׁ) of the disciples on the other. This contrast parallels that which is made between the inappropriate manner of praying exhibited by the Gentiles and the correct manner of praying recommended to the disciples in Praying Like Gentiles (Matt. 6:7-8).
  2. In the Friend in Need simile (Matt. 7:7-8 // Luke 11:9-10) and in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (Matt. 6:33 // Luke 12:31) “seek” (ζητεῖν = בִּקֵּשׁ) is used as a metaphor for prayer.[195]
  3. The petition for daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer touches upon the root cause of the disciples’ anxiety: their radical commitment to full-time discipleship, which required utter dependence on God to provide for their needs. It appears that, having taught his disciples to daily renew their commitment to rely on God for their physical needs through the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus found it necessary to underscore God’s generous and trustworthy character in order to reassure the disciples. This Jesus proceeded to do in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry and in the several illustrations that followed, including the Friend in Need and Fathers Give Good Gifts similes, which we believe belonged to the same teaching unit.

3. Did Jesus speak about the impossibility of lengthening one’s lifespan or of increasing one’s stature? The use of the noun ἡλικία to refer to “age” as well as “stature” has given rise to the interpretation that Jesus referred to the impossibility of adding time to one’s lifespan. Several points argue against this interpretation, however. Foremost among these is the complete absence of evidence that the noun πῆχυς (“cubit”) was ever used figuratively as a measure of time. Also creating difficulty for this interpretation is the meaning of ἡλικία, which can mean “age,” but not “lifespan.” Moreover, the structure of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry shows that the rhetorical question about adding to one’s ἡλικία leads into the illustration about the flowers and how they grow. All this suggests that in Matt. 6:27 // Luke 12:25 Jesus referred to the impossibility of increasing one’s stature.

Conclusion

In Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry Jesus confronted one of the most serious concerns of the disciples: how would their basic needs be met now that they had given up their possessions and livelihoods in order to itinerate full-time with Jesus? By using familiar illustrations, alluding to Scripture, and injecting a little light humor, Jesus gently reassured his disciples that God was both willing and able to supply what they could no longer provide for themselves.

 


 

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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] See Lindsey, JRL, 101-105.
  • [4] See Lindsey, “Jesus’ Twin Parables.”
  • [5] See Lindsey, JRL, 101.
  • [6] See Lindsey, JRL, 102.
  • [7] See Lindsey, JRL, 103.
  • [8] On identifying twin illustrations, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Criteria for Identifying Separated Twin Parables and Similes in the Synoptic Gospels.”
  • [9] On the theme of the wicked who squander their reward in rabbinic sources and in the teachings of Jesus, see Joshua N. Tilton, “Why Do the Wicked Prosper?
  • [10] In addition to Luke 12:18, which Lindsey connected to Matt. 6:26 // Luke 12:24, gathering into barns is also referred to in Matt. 3:12 // Luke 3:17 and Matt. 13:30, always expressed as συνάγειν εἰς ἀποθήκην (sūnagein eis apothēkēn, “to gather into a barn”).
  • [11] See Lindsey, JRL, 103-104. Aside from Luke 12:18, 19; 16:25, in the Synoptic Gospels the use of the neuter plural ἀγαθά to denote “goods” also occurs in Matt. 7:11 (2xx); Luke 1:53; 11:13.
  • [12] See Ronald A. Piper, “Matthew 7:7-11 par. Luke 11:9-13: Evidence of Design and Argument in the Collection of Jesus’ Sayings,” in The Shape of Q: Signal Essays on the Sayings Gospel (ed. John S. Kloppenborg; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), 131-137, esp. 135.
  • [13] Lindsey reconstructed the “How to Pray” complex in the following manner:

    1. Narrative Incident: “Teach Us to Pray” (Luke 11:1-2a)
    2. Teaching: The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13)
    3. Teaching: Ask…Knock (Matt. 7:7-11)
    4. Illustration: Friend in Need (Luke 11:5-8)
    5. Twin Illustration: Persistent Widow (Luke 18:2-8a)

    See Lindsey, “Jesus Twin Parables,” under the subheading “Jesus’ Parables and Their Contexts”; idem, JRL, 112-113.

  • [14] See Persistent Widow, under the subheading “Story Placement.”
  • [15] The early Christian apologist Justin Martyr (mid-second century C.E.) cited Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry this way:

    μὴ μεριμνατε δὲ τί φάγητε ἢ τί ἐνδύσησθε. οὐχ ὑμεῖς τῶν πετεινῶν καὶ τῶν θηρίων διαφέρετε; καὶ ὁ θεὸς τρέφει αὐτά. μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε τί φάγητε ἢ τί ἐνδύσησθε· οἶδε γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι τούτων χρείαν ἔχετε. ζητεῖτε δὲ τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν.

    But do not worry about what you might eat or what you might wear. Are you not more important than the birds and the beasts [τῶν θηρίων]? Yet God maintains them. Therefore do not worry about what you might eat or what you might wear, for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of these. But seek the Kingdom of Heaven and all these will be added to you. (1 Apol. 15:14-16)

    Text according to The Apologies of Justin Martyr (Cambridge Patristic Texts; ed. A. W. F. Blunt; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1911).
    It is surprising that Powell did not cite Justin’s version of this saying in support of his argument that the reading τὰ κρίνα (“the lilies”; Matt. 6:28 // Luke 12:27; L31) is a gloss for τὰ λείπια (“the lilies”), which was itself a corruption of τὰ θηρία (“the beasts”). See J. Enoch Powell, “Those ‘Lilies of the Field’ Again,” Journal of Theological Studies 33.2 (1982): 490-492.

  • [16] Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 655 (early third century C.E.), which preserves a Greek fragment of the Gospel of Thomas, gives the following version of Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry:

    [λέγει Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς μὴ μεριμνᾶτε ἀ]πὸ πρωΐ ἕ[ως ὀψέ, μήτ]ε ἀφ᾽ἑσπ[έρας ἕως π]ρωΐ, μήτε [τῇ τροφῇ ὑ]μῶν τί φά[γητε, μήτε] τῇ στ[ολῇ ὑμῶν] τί ἐνδύ[ση]σε. [πολ]λῷ κρεί[σσον]ές ἐ[στε] τῶν [κρί]νων, ἅτι[να ο]ὐ ξα[ί]νει οὐδε ν[ήθ]ει κ[αὶ] ἓν ἔχον[τες ἔ]νδ[υ]μα, τι ἐν[…..]..αι ὑμεῖς; τίς ἂν προσθ<εί>η ἐπὶ τὴν εἱλικίαν ὑμῶν; αὐτὸ[ς δ]ώσει ὑμεῖς τὸ ἔνδθμα ὑμῶν.

    [Jesus says, Do not be anxious] from dawn to [late, nor] from eve [to] dawn, either [about] your [food], what [you are to] eat, [or] about [your] robe, with what you [are to] clothe yourself. [You are] far better than the lilies, which do not card nor spin. And having one clothing,…you…? Who might add to your stature? That one will [give] you your clothing! (P. Oxy. 655 I, 1-17; cf. Gos. Thom. §36)

    Text and translation according to James M. Robinson and Christoph Heil, “The Lilies of the Field: Saying 36 of the Gospel of Thomas and Secondary Accretions in Q 12.22b-31,” New Testament Studies 47.1 (2001): 1-25, esp. 9.

    Whereas Robinson and Heil regard the non-canonical version represented in the Gospel of Thomas as more original, other scholars regard the source shared by the authors of Luke and Matthew as the more authentic version. See Luz, 1:340; Nolland, Matt., 308; Robert Gundry, “Spinning the Lilies and Unravelling the Ravens: An Alternative Reading of Q 12.22b-31 and P. Oxy. 655,” New Testament Studies 48.2 (2002): 159-180.

  • [17] We accepted εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτοὺς for GR in Lost Sheep, L8.
  • [18] We accepted εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς for GR in Lord’s Prayer, L8.
  • [19] See Allen, 63.
  • [20] See “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves,” Comment to L44.
  • [21] Although Codex Vaticanus, our base text, reads τῇ ψυχῇ ἡμῶν (“our soul”) in Matt. 6:25, the overall context, as well as most NT MSS, prove this reading is a scribal error. Therefore, we believe the correct reading in Matt. 6:25 is τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν (“your soul”).
  • [22] On the dropping of possessive pronouns from Anth., see Lord’s Prayer, Comments to L5 and L10.
  • [23] See Betz, 463 n. 319.
  • [24] The Hebrew equivalents of μεριμνᾶν in LXX are as follows: Exod. 5:9 (= עָשָׂה ;שָׁעָה); 2 Kgdms. 7:10 (= רָגַז); 1 Chr. 17:9 (= רָגַז); Ps. 37[38]:19 (= דָּאַג); Prov. 14:23 (= עֶצֶב); Ezek. 16:42 (= כָּעַס).
  • [25] We have found two places where דָּאַג occurs in a tannaic source (excluding biblical quotations):

    היה ר′ מאיר או′ בזמן שהמאורות לוקין סימן רע לשונאיהן של ישראל מפני שהן למודי מכות משל לסופר שנכנס לבית הספר ואמ′ הביאו לי רצועה מי הוא דואג מי שלמוד להיות לוקה …בזמן שישראל עסוקין בתורה אין דואגין מכל שנ′ כה אמר ה′ אל דרך הגוים אל תלמודו וגו′‏

    Rabbi Meir used to say, “In a time when the heavenly lights are eclipsed, it is a bad sign for the haters of Israel [a euphemism for Israel itself—DNB and JNT], for they are accustomed to injuries. A parable: [It may be compared] to a scribe who entered a school house and said, ‘Bring me a strap.’ Who is afraid [דואג]? The one who is accustomed to being strapped.” …In a time when Israel is occupied with the Torah they need not be afraid [דואגין] of anything, as it is said, Thus says the LORD: Do not learn the way of the Gentiles [and do not be afraid of the signs in the heavens, for the Gentiles are afraid of them; Jer. 10:2]. (t. Suk. 2:6; Vienna MS)

    רבי אומר העושה מצוה אחת לשמה אל ישמח לאותה מצוה לסוף גוררת מצות הרבה והעובר עבירה אחת אל ידאג לאותה עבירה לסוף שגוררת עבירות הרבה שמצוה גוררת מצוה ועבירה גוררת עבירה

    Rabbi [Yehuda ha-Nasi] says: “The one who does a mitzvah for its own sake: let him not rejoice in that alone, for that same mitzvah in the end will bring about many more mitzvot. And the one who transgresses one transgression: let him not be sorry [אל ידאג] about that alone, for that same transgression in the end will string along many more transgressions. For a mitzvah strings along a mitzvah and a transgression strings along a transgression.” (Sifre Num. §112 [ed. Horovitz, 120])

    In neither of these examples does דָּאַג have the meaning “worry.”

  • [26] The connection between the proof text and Hananyah’s claim that the Torah banishes anxious thoughts is the enlightening of the eyes (מִצְוַת יי בָּרָה מְאִירַת עֵינָיִם; Ps. 19:9). According to 1 Sam. 14:29, the hungry Jonathan’s eyes became bright after he ate honey (אֹרוּ עֵינַי כִּי טָעַמְתִּי מְעַט דְּבַשׁ הַזֶּה). Note that in Ps. 19:11 the Torah is said to be sweeter than honey. Since the proof text only explains how the Torah can dispel anxious thoughts about hunger, it is possible that the other kinds of anxious thoughts enumerated in the homily (“thoughts of foolishness, thoughts of sexual impropriety…”) are a later addition.
  • [27] On the role of the Temple prefect, see Shmuel Safrai, “The Temple” (Safrai-Stern, 2:865-907, esp. 875-876).
  • [28] See Joshua N. Tilton, “Gentiles Demand All These Things.”
  • [29] For examples of נַפְשְׁכֶם see Gen. 23:8; Lev. 26:15; Deut. 11:13, 18; 13:4; Josh. 22:5; 23:14; 2 Kgs. 9:15; Isa. 55:2, 3; Jer. 6:16; 48:6; Ezek. 24:21; Job 16:4; 1 Chr. 22:19.
  • [30] Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus was a rabbinic sage of the first and second century C.E. who survived the destruction of the Temple. He was known to be a preserver of earlier traditions rather than an innovator (cf. m. Avot 2:8).
  • [31] Reading כיצד, as in the parallel in Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 3 (ed. Lauterbach, 1:235), instead of כאיזה צד. The parallel in Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael attributes this saying to Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai.
  • [32] According to rabbinic tradition, Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus not only left his home and his family, but also forsook his inheritance and endured extreme privations in order to become a full-time disciple. See Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version B, chpt. 13 (ed. Schechter, 30-33) and the parallel in Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 6:3 (ed. Schechter, 30-31).
  • [33] See above, footnote 26.
  • [34] The petition for daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:11; cf. Luke 11:3) probably alludes to the manna story. See Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L17. Likewise, Jesus’ assurance that the heavenly Father will give good gifts to the disciples when they ask (Matt. 7:11; cf. Luke 11:13) probably alludes to the manna, one of three “good gifts” God has given to Israel, according to rabbinic tradition. See Fathers Give Good Gifts, Comment to L16-18. Jesus’ promise of treasure in heaven (Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22) also may be related to the manna story, since according to rabbinic tradition the manna came from God’s treasure in heaven. See Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L17. The promise of manna also lurks behind Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, as we will demonstrate below.
  • [35] See Betz, 472 n. 385, 483 n. 471; Bovon, 2:215.
  • [36] Unfortunately, this portion of Ben Sira has not been preserved in Hebrew MSS.
  • [37] Bovon, 2:215.
  • [38] Examples of Jesus enjoying the hospitality of his friends include Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42) and the owner of the house with the upper room in Jerusalem, where Jesus and his disciples shared their final Passover meal together (Matt. 26:18; Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11). On the supposition that the owner of the house was a friend of Jesus, see Preparations for Eating Passover Lamb, Comment to L22-33. In the Sending Discourse Jesus instructed the apostles to stay with strangers, an instruction that may have agreed with Jesus’ usual practice. See Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L88.
  • [39] On Jesus’ saying “…the son of man has no place to rest his head” (Matt. 8:20 // Luke 9:58) and its relationship to the rigors of full-time discipleship, see Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple.
  • [40] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:554-557.
  • [41] See Dos Santos, 9.
  • [42] In Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 3 (ed. Lauterbach, 1:234-235) this saying is attributed to Rabbi Eliezer of Modiin, but as Flusser noted, the parallels in Mechilta de-Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, b. Sot. 48b and Midrash ha-Gadol prove that this saying goes back to Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus. See David Flusser, “‘Have You Ever Seen a Lion Toiling as a Porter?’” (Flusser, JSTP2, 331-342, esp. 335 n. 15).
  • [43] Cf. Luz, 1:338 n. 1.
  • [44] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1134-1135.
  • [45] See Dos Santos, 217.
  • [46] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:471.
  • [47] Cf. McNeile, 87.
  • [48] In LXX τροφή is the translation of לֶחֶם in Ps. 135[136]:25; 145[146]:7; 146[147]:9; Prov. 6:8; 30:25.
  • [49] In LXX τροφή is the translation of מָזוֹן in 2 Chr. 11:23.
  • [50] In LXX τροφή is the translation of אֹכֶל in Ps. 103[104]:27; 144[145]:15; Job 36:31.
  • [51] In the Mishnah examples of פַּרְנָסָה are found in m. Peah 8:7; m. Hal. 3:8, 9; m. Ned. 11:2; m. Kid. 4:14 (2xx); m. Tem. 3:5.
  • [52] See Montefiore, TSG, 2:111.
  • [53] Other versions of this parable occur in Sifre Zuta 11:9 (ed. Horovitz, 270); Mechilta de-Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, BeShallaḥ 16:4 (ed. Epstein-Melamed, 106-107); b. Yom. 76a.
  • [54] In MT the noun כְּסוּת appears in Gen. 20:16; Exod. 21:10; 22:26 (2xx); Deut. 22:12; Isa. 50:3; Job. 24:7; 26:6; 31:19.
  • [55] Harnack (6), Fitzmyer (2:978), Davies-Allison (1:648) and Bovon (2:211) likewise regard Luke’s choice of verb in L12 as secondary.
  • [56] In LXX κατανοεῖν is the translation of הִבִּיט in Exod. 33:8; Ps. 9:35[10:14]; 21[22]:18; 90[91]:8; 93[94]:9; 118[119]:15, 18; 141[142]:5; ἐμβλέπειν is the translation of הִבִּיט in Isa. 5:12; 8:22; 22:8, 11; 51:1, 2, 6.
  • [57] Examples of הִבִּיט with the preposition -בְּ in DSS are found in 1QS III, 7; XI, 19; 1QHa XVIII, 20.
  • [58] Additional examples of הִבִּיט with the preposition -בְּ are found in Gen. Rab. 30:10 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, 1:277); 65:10 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:719).
  • [59] See Fitzmyer, 2:978; Luz, 1:339 n. 10.
  • [60] See Flusser, “‘Have You Ever Seen a Lion?’” (Flusser, JSTP2, 332 n. 2).
  • [61] Cf. the imprecation ἐς κόρακας, which LSJ (980) renders “go and be hanged,” in Aristophanes, Clouds, 133; Wasps, 852, 982; Peace, 1221. We agree with Luz (1:343 n. 42), who denied that the uncleanness of ravens influenced the author of Matthew’s decision. The author of Matthew was not concerned with Jewish dietary laws (cf. Matt. 15:11), and in any case the status of ravens did not prevent them from becoming a symbol of God’s provision for his creatures in ancient Jewish sources.
  • [62] In the book of Jubilees we find a similar pairing of “ravens” and “birds” (Jub. 11:11, 12, 23-24). Unfortunately, this portion of Jubilees was not preserved in Hebrew or Greek.
  • [63] The opposite, however, occurs in L51: “the Gentiles” (Matt.)→“the Gentiles of the world” (Luke).
  • [64] See David R. Catchpole, “The Ravens, the Lilies and the Q Hypothesis: A Form-Critical Perspective on the Source-Critical Problem,” Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt 6/7 (1981-1982): 77-87, esp. 85.
  • [65] See Dos Santos, 161.
  • [66] The personal name עוֹרֵב is transliterated Ωρηβ in Judg. 7:25 (3xx); 8:3; Ps. 82[83]:12.
  • [67] See H. B. Tristram, The Natural History of the Bible (9th ed.; London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1898), 199.
  • [68] See Lightfoot, 2:157; Gill, 7:64.
  • [69] See Flusser, “‘Have You Ever Seen a Lion?’” (Flusser, JSTP2, 338). Quotation from Stern, 2:252 (Gk.), 282 (Eng.).
  • [70] Cited in Boring-Berger-Colpe, 215-216.
  • [71] See Dos Santos, 56.
  • [72] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1282.
  • [73] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:648.
  • [74] See Catchpole, “The Ravens, the Lilies and the Q Hypothesis,” 84.
  • [75] Two other candidates for HR, אָסָם (’āsām, “storehouse”), a BH term (cf. Deut. 28:8; Prov. 3:10), and אַפּוֹתִּיקִי (’apōtiqi, “storehouse”), a Semitic form of ἀποθήκη, should also be mentioned. With respect to the former, while אָסָם is attested in DSS (4Q418 103 II, 3), there are no instances of אָסָם in tannaic sources (excluding Scripture quotations), and Jastrow includes no entry for אָסָם in his dictionary. (In LXX אָסָם is translated ταμιεῖον [tamieion, “storeroom”]). With respect to the latter, there is no evidence that אַפּוֹתִּיקִי was used for “storehouse” in Hebrew, all the instances of אַפּוֹתִּיקִי being found in Aramaic contexts.
  • [76] See Jastrow, 649-650.
  • [77] See Catchpole, “The Ravens, the Lilies and the Q Hypothesis,” 85.
  • [78] On the Grecized formula ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος, see Comment to L53.
  • [79] On Jesus’ avoidance of using the divine name, see David N. Bivin, “Jesus and the Oral Torah: The Unutterable Name of God.”
  • [80] See Davies-Allison, 1:650.
  • [81] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:314.
  • [82] On the use of חָמוּר see David N. Bivin, “Matthew 5:19: The Importance of ‘Light’ Commandments”; idem, “The ‘How Much More’ Rabbinic Principle of Interpretation in the Teaching of Jesus.”
  • [83] See Bultmann, 81; Bundy, 117; Davies-Allison, 1:651-652; Bovon, 2:211.
  • [84] See T. W. Manson, 113; Fitzmyer, 2:979; Davies-Allison, 652.
  • [85] The phrase τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν introduces the Tower Builder simile (L1), the Friend in Need simile (L2) and the Fathers Give Good Gifts simile (L1). Cf. τίς ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ὑμῶν (“What person among you?”), which introduces the Lost Sheep simile (L12).
  • [86] See Richard J. Dillon, “Ravens, Lilies, and the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:25-33/Luke 12:22-31),” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 53.4 (1991): 605-627, esp. 610-612; Bovon, 2:216 n. 50.
  • [87] See Hagner, 1:164.
  • [88] See Betz, 475.
  • [89] Note, too, the similarly-constructed questions τίς βασιλεὺς πορευόμενος (“What king going…?; Luke 14:31) and τίς γυνὴ δραχμὰς ἔχουσα δέκα (“What woman having ten drachmas…?; Luke 15:8), in which the participle cannot be construed in an instrumental sense.
  • [90] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:1221-1222.
  • [91] See Dos Santos, 82.
  • [92] In LXX προστιθέναι ἐπί is the translation of הוֹסִיף עַל in Lev. 5:16, 24; 6:5; Num. 5:7; Deut. 13:1; 3 Kgdms. 12:11, 14; 4 Kgdms. 20:6; 2 Chr. 10:11, 14; 28:13; 2 Esd. 10:10; Ps. 70[71]:14; Job 34:37.
  • [93] In the Mishnah examples of הוֹסִיף עַל are found in m. Shev. 3:2, 3; m. Maas. Shen. 4:3; 5:5; m. Eruv. 7:7; m. Yom. 7:5; m. Suk. 5:5; m. Taan. 2:2; m. Meg. 4:1, 2; m. Ket. 3:4; m. Kid. 4:4; m. Bab. Metz. 6:5; 8:9; m. Sanh. 1:5, 6; 11:3; m. Shevu. 2:2; m. Men. 13:6; m. Arach. 2:3; m. Mid. 3:1; m. Yad. 1:1.
  • [94] See Johannes Schneider, “ἡλικία,” TDNT, 2:941-943.
  • [95] See Luz, 1:344 n. 53; cf. Nolland, Matt., 311.
  • [96] Ancient sources suggest that a tall stature was considered to be a desirable attribute. This is indicated by the negative portrayal of the shortness of stature of individuals such as Zacchaeus (Luke 19:3), and the frequent use of the nickname הַקָּטָן (haqāṭān, “the short [one]”) to differentiate between individuals of the same name. On the use of perceived physical defects for nicknames, see Rachel Hachlili, “Hebrew Names, Personal Names, Family Names and Nicknames of Jews in the Second Temple Period,” in Families and Family Relations as Represented in Early Judaisms and Early Christianities: Texts and Fictions (ed. Jan Willem van Henten and Athalya Brenner; Leiden: Deo, 2000), 83-115, esp. 103-104. The desirability of having a tall stature is expressed in sources such as 1 Sam. 9:2; b. Shab. 92a; Aggadat Bereshit 40:2 (ed. Buber, 82). In the aforementioned rabbinic texts having a tall stature is expressed as ‎‏בעל קומה‎ (ba‘al qōmāh, “owner of stature,” i.e., “tall person”). Given the desirability of having a tall stature, adding to one’s height, if such a thing were possible, presumably would also have been desirable.
  • [97] See Harnack, 6.
  • [98] See Davies-Allison, 1:653.
  • [99] See LSJ, 1402.
  • [100] See Allen, 64.
  • [101] See Luz, 1:344.
  • [102] The example from Mimnermus reads as follows:

    ἡμεῖς δ᾽, οἷά τε φύλλα φύει πολυάνθεμος ὥρη ἔαρος, ὅτ᾽ αἶψ᾽ αὐγῇς αὔξεται ἠελίου, τοῖς ἴκελοι πήχυιον ἐπὶ χρόνον ἄνθεσιν ἥβης τερπόμεθα, πρὸς θεῶν εἰδότες οὔτε κακὸν οὔτ᾽ ἀγαθόν

    We are like leaves which the flowery season of spring brings forth, when they quickly grow beneath the rays of the sun; like them we delight in the flowers of youth for an arm’s length of time [πήχυιον ἐπὶ χρόνον], knowing neither the bad nor the good that comes from the gods. (Mimnermus, Frag. 2; quoted in Stobaeus, Anthology 4.34.12)

    Text and translation according to Douglas E. Gerber, ed. and trans., Greek Elegiac Poetry (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 82-83.

    According to Allen, “Since it does not refer to physical measurement, Mimnermus’ use of the adjective (‘for an arm’s length of time’) is quite remarkable.” See Archibald Allen, The Fragments of Mimnermus: Text and Commentary (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1993), 43. Are we really to suppose that the Greek translator(s) of Jesus’ teachings were influenced by this obscure example in the poetry of a classical Greek author?

  • [103] Fitzmyer (2:978; cf. Nolland, Luke, 2:692) believed he had found an example of a temporal use of πῆχυς in Diogenes Laertius’ account of Plato, but he was in error on two scores:

    1. The passage Fitzmyer cited has the adjective πηχυαῖος (pēchūaios, “a cubit long”), rather than the noun πῆχυς.
    2. The adjective πηχυαῖος in that passage has a clearly spatial (i.e., non-temporal) sense:

    …if one chooses to add to a cubit-measure [μέτρον παχυαῖον] another length, or cut off some of what was there already, would the original measure still exist? Of course not. Now consider mankind in this same way. One man grows, and another again shrinks: and they are all undergoing change the whole time. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 3:11; Loeb)

  • [104] Scholars typically point out that adding a cubit to one’s stature is hardly a small feat, whereas the context demands a small unit of measurement. See Marshall, 528; Fitzmyer, 2:979; Davies-Allison, 1:652; Luz, 1:344 n. 52; Bovon, 2:217. On the other hand, if the contrast is between what worriers can accomplish versus what God is able to do, then adding one cubit to a human being’s stature is small in comparison with the three and a half cubits (on average) that God adds to a person’s stature from the time of one’s conception to full maturity.

    On the average height of adult males in the first century, see Jonathan P. Roth, The Logistics of the Roman Army at War (264 B.C.-A.D. 235) (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 9. Roth gave a range of 162 cm (5′4″) to 171 cm (5′7″) as an average stature, which equals 3.5 to 3.7 cubits (assuming 1 cubit = 46.2 cm; cf. Fitzmyer, 2:978). Corroborating this estimate are the skeletal remains of ten adult males aged 18 years or older discovered in four tombs in Giv‘at ha-Mivtar, Jerusalem, whose heights are shown in the following table:

    Tomb/Ossuary Individual Stature (cm) Stature (cubits)
    1 I/1A 170-171 cm 3.68-3.70 cubits
    2 I/2A 165-170 cm 3.57-3.68 cubits
    3 I/4A 167 cm 3.61 cubits
    4 I/5A 157 cm 3.40 cubits
    5 I/6A 167 cm 3.61 cubits
    6 I/6B 159-161 cm 3.44-3.48 cubits
    7 III/2A 168 cm 3.64 cubits
    8 IV/2A 162 cm 3.51 cubits
    9 VI/3B 181 cm 3.92 cubits
    10 IV/5A 167 cm 3.61 cubits

    For the data contained in the table above, see N. Haas, “Anthropological Observations on the Skeletal Remains from Giv‘at ha-Mivtar,” Israel Exploration Journal 20.1-2 (1970): 38-59.

    Three and a half cubits is the same as three cubits and a span (see Danby, 798). According to LXX (1 Kgdms. 17:4), 4QSama 12 I, 3 (= 1 Sam. 17:4) and Josephus (Ant. 6:171), Goliath was four cubits and a span tall, in other words, one cubit taller than the average adult male in the time of Jesus. Thus, adding a single cubit to one’s height would make one equal in stature to the famed warrior of the Philistines who was slain by King David. MT has a variant reading, according to which Goliath was six cubits and a span tall. On the conflicting testimony regarding Goliath’s stature, see J. Daniel Hays, “Reconsidering the Height of Goliath,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48.4 (2005): 701-714. On the other hand, Josephus mentions a Jewish man of the first century C.E. by the name of Eleazar who was seven cubits tall, which earned him the nickname “the giant” (Ant. 18:103). If true, this story might lend credence to MT’s report that Goliath was six and a half cubits tall.

  • [105] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1131-1132; Dos Santos, 12.
  • [106] We find אַמָּה אַחַת in Ezek. 40:12 (2xx), 42 (3xx); 42:4; 43:14; m. Eruv. 4:11 (2xx); m. Mid. 3:1 (2xx).
  • [107] See Harnack, 6; Catchpole, “The Ravens, the Lilies and the Q Hypothesis,” 84.
  • [108] In Genesis alone, περί is the translation of עַל in Gen. 12:17, 20; 20:3; 21:12 (2xx); 24:9; 26:7, 21, 22; 27:41; 41:15, 32; 42:21. On עַל in the sense of “with respect to” or “concerning,” see Segal, 175 §363 (iv).
  • [109] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:788.
  • [110] See Plummer, Luke, 327; Luz, 1:343. Cf. Betz, 477. For a pictorial presentation of various wildflowers that grow in the land of Israel, see Gloria E. M. Suess, “Lilies of the Field.”
  • [111] See Gen. 1:26, 28, 30; 2:19, 20; 6:7; 7:3, 23; Deut. 28:26; 1 Kgdms. 17:44, 46; 2 Kgdms. 21:10; 3 Kgdms. 16:4; 20[21]:24; Ps. 78[79]:2; 103[104]:12; Job 12:7; 28:21; 35:11; Hos. 2:20; 4:3; 7:12; Zeph. 1:3; Jer. 4:25; 7:33; 9:9; 15:3; 16:4; 19:7; 41[34]:20; Ezek. 29:5; 31:6, 13; 32:4; 38:20. The one exception to this rule is found in Eccl. 10:20, where עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם is translated with the singular πετεινὸν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.
  • [112] Singular verbs are used with עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם in Ps. 104:12; Job 12:7; Eccl. 10:20. Plural verbs are used with עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם in 1 Kgs. 14:11; 16:4; 21:24; Jer. 4:25; Ezek. 31:6, 13; Ps. 104:12. Note especially how in one verse (Ps. 104:12) both a singular and a plural verb are used with עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם.
  • [113] For another likely example of gezerah shavah in the teachings of Jesus, see Joseph Frankovic, “Remember Shiloh!” On Jesus’ use of gezerah shavah, see also R. Steven Notley, “Jesus’ Jewish Hermeneutical Method in the Nazareth Synagogue,” in Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality (2 vols.; ed. Craig A. Evans and H. Daniel Zacharias; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2009), 46-59, esp. 52-53; R. Steven Notley and Jeffrey P. García, “Hebrew-Only Exegesis: A Philological Approach to Jesus’ Use of the Hebrew Bible” (JS2, 349-374).
  • [114] See T. C. Skeat, “The Lilies of the Field,” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 37.1 (1938): 211-214; Metzger, 18.
  • [115] See Skeat, “The Lilies of the Field,” 213; Bovon, 2:217 n. 61.
  • [116] Cf. Nolland, Luke, 2:692; Betz, 477 n. 419.
  • [117] See Jastrow, 343; Segal, 134 §294.
  • [118] Additional examples of non-interrogative uses of הֵיאַךְ are found in m. Bab. Metz. 2:7; m. Sanh. 3:6; t. Ket. 6:2.
  • [119] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:178-179.
  • [120] See Jastrow, 1287.
  • [121] Since we regard צִיץ as a collective noun, we have used plural verbs in HR. See Joüon-Muraoka, §150e.
  • [122] See Betz, 477 n. 419.
  • [123] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:778.
  • [124] See Jastrow, 563.
  • [125] See Ps. 126[127]:1; Eccl. 2:18 (Vaticanus).
  • [126] See Jastrow, 1088-1089.
  • [127] On spinning as women’s work, see Tal Ilan, Jewish Women in Greco-Roman Palestine, 186.
  • [128] See Jeremias, Parables, 215; Dillon, “Ravens, Lilies, and the Kingdom of God,” 619; Luz, 1:343; Lee A. Johnson and Robert C. Tannehill, “Lilies Do Not Spin: A Challenge to Female Social Norms,” New Testament Studies 56.4 (2010): 475-490.
  • [129] For examples of λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι elsewhere in GR, see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, L102; Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, L34, L53; Persistent Widow, L25; Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, L116; Blessedness of the Twelve, L10.
  • [130] The name Σολομών occurs in Matt. 1:6, 7; 6:29; 12:42 (2xx); Luke 11:31 (2xx); 12:27; John 10:23; Acts 3:11; 5:12; 7:47.
  • [131] The name Σολομών occurs over 125xx in the works of Josephus.
  • [132] See Hatch-Redpath, 3:134.
  • [133] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:341-343.
  • [134] See Dos Santos, 89.
  • [135] The proverbial statement appears in a midrash dealing with the fiery end to which individuals who boast in themselves eventually come:

    אמר הקב″ה כל מי שהוא מעלה את עצמו סופו לילך באש…ואף סנחריב שעילה את עצמו…מה היה לו, ויצא מלאך ה′ ויך במחנה אשור וגו′…. ומה עשה לו, ותחת כבודו יקד יקוד כיקוד אש, מהו תחת כבודו, ששרף אותו מבפנים, והניח בגדיו מבחוץ, שכבודו של אדם כסותו, למה הניח הקב″ה בגדיהם, לפי שהיו בניו של שם, שנאמר בני שם עילם ואשור וגו′, אמר הקב″ה חייב אני לשם אביהם, שנטל הכסות וכיסה ערות אביו, שנאמר ויקח שם ויפת את השמלה וגו′ , לכך הניח הקב″ה בגדיהם ושרף גופם

    The Holy one, blessed be he, said, “Everyone who exults himself will come to a fiery end”…. And also Sennacherib, who exulted himself…what happened to him? And a messenger of the LORD went out and struck the camp of Ashur [i.e., Assyria—DNB and JNT] [2 Kgs. 19:35]…. And what did he [i.e., the angel] do to him [i.e., Sennacherib]? And under his glory a burning was ignited, like the burning of a fire [Isa. 10:16]. And what is the meaning of “under his glory”? It means that he burned him from within, but his garments were left on the outside, because a person’s glory is his clothing [שכבודו של אדם כסותו]. Why did the Holy one, blessed be he, leave their garments? Because they were sons of Shem, as it is said, The sons of Shem were Elam and Ashur etc. [Gen. 10:22]. The Holy one, blessed be he, said, “I am indebted to Shem, their father, for he took his clothing and covered his father’s nakedness,” as it is said, And Shem and Yefet took the robe etc. [Gen. 9:23], therefore the Holy one, blessed be he, left their clothing and burned their bodies. (Midrash Tanhuma, Tzav chpt. 3 [ed. Buber, 2:13-14])

    The explanation that a person’s glory is his clothing not only has a proverbial ring, but the vocabulary also sets the statement apart from the rest of the discussion. The proverbial statement uses the term כְּסוּת (kesūt, “clothing,” “covering”) for clothing, whereas the surrounding context uses the synonym בֶּגֶד (beged, “garment”).
    A variant form of the proverb under discussion reads as follows:

    הדר בני אדם כסותן

    The splendor of human beings is their clothing. (Tosefta Derek Erez 1:7 [ed. Higger, 247])

  • [136] See Betz, 477 n. 427.
  • [137] The Ben Sira fragment mentioning “robes of glory” states:

    בגדי כבוד תלבשנה ועטרת תפארת תעטרנה

    You will wear her [i.e., Wisdom—DNB and JNT] as robes of glory [בגדי כבוד], and you will don her as a crown of splendor. (2Q18 2 I, 12)

    στολὴν δόξης ἐνδύσῃ αὐτὴν καὶ στέφανον ἀγαλλιάματος περιθήσεις σεαυτῷ

    You will wear her as a robe of glory, and you will don her as a crown of gladness. (Sir. 6:31)

    “Robes of glory” are also mentioned in passages of Ben Sira not preserved in the Qumran fragment:

    ἐὰν διώκῃς τὸ δίκαιον, καταλήμψῃ καὶ ἐνδύσῃ αὐτὸ ὡς ποδήρη δόξης

    If you pursue the right, you will overtake it and wear it as a flowing robe of glory. (Sir. 27:8)

    καὶ περιέζωσεν αὐτὸν περιστολὴν δόξης

    …and he [i.e., Moses—DNB and JNT] wrapped him [i.e., Aaron] in a robe of glory. (Sir. 45:7)

    ἐν τῷ ἀναλαμβάνειν αὐτὸν στολὴν δόξης καὶ ἐνδιδύσκεσθαι αὐτὸν συντέλειαν καυχήματος

    When he [i.e., Simon the high priest—DNB and JNT] put on a robe of glory [MS B: בגדי כבוד] and when he put on himself with the perfection of a boast…. (Sir. 50:11; NETS)

  • [138] Peter J. Tomson, Paul and the Jewish Law: Halakhah in the Letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles (CRINT III.1; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), 128 n. 172.
  • [139] On Solomon’s wealth, see 1 Kgs. 10 (// 2 Chr. 9); Ginzberg, 2:949 n. 16.
  • [140] See Vermes, 97.
  • [141] In LXX περιβάλλειν translates the root כ-ס-ה in Gen. 24:65; 38:14; Deut. 22:12; Judg. 4:18, 19 (Alexandrinus); 3 Kgdms. 1:1; 11:29; 4 Kgdms. 19:1, 2; 1 Chr. 21:16; Ps. 146[147]:8; Mic. 7:10; Jonah 3:6, 8; Isa. 37:1, 2; 58:7; 59:6; Ezek. 16:10, 18; 18:7, 16.
  • [142] In LXX περιβάλλειν translates the root ל-ב-שׁ in Gen. 28:20; 1 Kgdms. 28:8; 2 Chr. 28:15; Esth. 5:1; 6:8; Ps. 44[45]:14; Hag. 1:6; Zech. 3:5; Isa. 4:1; Jer. 4:30; Ezek. 34:3; Dan. 12:6, 7.
  • [143] Examples of כְּאַחַד + ‎מִן in MT are found in Gen. 3:22 (כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ = ὡς εἷς ἐξ ἡμῶν); Judg. 17:11 (כְּאַחַד מִבָּנָיו = ὡς εἷς τῶν υἱῶν αὐτοῦ); 1 Sam. 17:36 (כְּאַחַד מֵהֶם = ὡς ἓν τούτων); 2 Sam. 9:11 (כְּאַחַד מִבְּנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ = καθὼς εἷς τῶν υἱῶν τοῦ βασιλέως); Obad. 11 (כְּאַחַד מֵהֶם = ὡς εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν); 2 Chr. 18:12 (כְּאַחַד מֵהֶם = ὡς ἑνὸς αὐτῶν).
  • [144] See Betz, 477 n. 427. Bauckham pointed out, however, that it was more usual to assume that, in contrast to human beings, plants and animals had no need of clothes than to argue that plants or animals were clothed better than human beings. See Richard Bauckham, “Reading the Sermon on the Mount in an Age of Ecological Catastrophe,” Studies in Christian Ethics 22.1 (2009): 76-88, esp. 83.
  • [145] Plummer (Luke, 327) noted that ἐν ἀγρῷ (“in a field”) describes the location of God’s activity (clothing the grass), not the location where the grass exists.
  • [146] Abbott suggested that Luke’s changes were “to shew Greek readers that χόρτος, in this passage, does not have its ordinary meaning ‘hay.’” See Edwin A. Abbott, The Fourfold Gospel (5 vols.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913-1917), 4:303 n. 5.
  • [147] Cf. our reconstruction of οὕτως with כָּךְ in Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, L35, L54.
  • [148] See Jastrow, 495.
  • [149] There is one example of חָצִיר meaning “leek” in MT (Num. 11:5), but the other 21 instances of חָצִיר in MT refer to “grass,” so we may consider “grass” to be the dominant BH meaning of חָצִיר.
  • [150] The imperative לא תקראו could mean either “Do not recite the Shema” or “Do not read the Torah.”
  • [151] See Betz, 479 n. 435.
  • [152] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:179.
  • [153] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:771.
  • [154] The only example of הִשְׁלִיךְ לְתוֹךְ הַתַּנּוּר (hishlich letōch hatanūr, “throw into the oven”) we have located is the following:

    היו הצפרדעים משליכות עצמן לתוך התנור

    …the frogs were throwing themselves into the oven…. (Midrash Tehillim 28:2 §9 [ed. Buber, 229])

    We have also found a few instances of הִשְׁלִיךְ לְאוּר (hishlich le’ūr, “throw into a fire”), for example:

    אם יש כשיעור הזה נותנה לכהן ואם לאו משליכה לאור ושורפה

    If there is [terumah amounting to] a halachically significant quantity, he gives it to a priest. But if not, he throws it into a fire and burns it. (t. Ter. 10:6; Vienna MS)

    מה סופו של ארז באים עליו סתתין ומסתתין אותו ומסככין ממנו בתים והשאר משליכין אותו לאור

    What is the end of cedar? Wood carvers come upon it and carve it and they cover houses with it and what is left they throw into a fire. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 41:1 [ed. Schechter, 66])

  • [155] Examples of using נָתַן (nātan, “give”) for “place in an oven” include the following:

    אֵין נוֹתְנִין אֶת הַפַּת לַתַּנּוּר

    They do not put the loaf in the oven. (m. Shab. 1:10)

    תַּנּוּר שֶׁנָּתַן {שנתן} בּוֹ עָפָר

    An oven into which he put dust…. (m. Kel. 5:6)

    קְדֵירָה שֶׁהִיא נתוּנָה בַּתַּנּוּר

    A pot that was put into the oven… (m. Kel. 8:4)

    וְנָתוּן לְתוֹך הַתַּנּוּר

    …and it was put inside the oven…. (m. Kel. 8:6)

    לא תמלא אשה קדרה ותרמוסין ועססיות ותתן לתוך התנור בערב שבת

    A woman may not fill a pot with peas and pulse and put it inside the oven on the eve of Shabbat. (t. Shab. 3:1)

    לא ימלא נחתום חבית מים ויתן לתוך התנור בערב שבת

    A baker may not fill a jug with water and put it inside the oven on the eve of Shabbat. (t. Shab. 3:2)

    Note the passive forms of נָתַן in m. Kel. 8:4, 6. We have likewise used the passive participle נָתוּן to reconstruct the middle/passive participle βαλλόμενον.

  • [156] An excerpt from Lindsey’s unpublished essay is quoted in Sending the Twelve: “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves,” Comment to L46. Cf. Moulton-Milligan, 102.
  • [157] Cf. Davies-Allison, 1:656.
  • [158] Fitzmyer, 2:979.
  • [159] Lightfoot (2:157), writing in 1658, suggested קְטַנֵי אֱמוּנָה (qeṭanē ’emūnāh, “small of faith”) as the equivalent of ὀλιγόπιστος. Lightfoot cited b. Ber. 24b and b. Arach. 15a in support of his thesis, but in both places the phrase קְטַנֵי אֲמָנָה (qeṭanē ’amānāh) is what appears. We have not succeeded in locating any examples of קְטַנֵי אֱמוּנָה in rabbinic sources. In any case, neither קְטַנֵי אֲמָנָה nor קְטַנֵי אֱמוּנָה occur in any rabbinic source earlier than the Babylonian Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud replaced מְחוּסְּרֵי אֲמָנָה with קְטַנֵי אֲמָנָה in its version of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus’ saying about those having bread today who ask what they will eat on the morrow (b. Sot. 48b).
  • [160] Additional examples of מְחוּסַּר אֲמָנָה include:

    תקע משה קרן עד שחזרו לפני פי החירות כיון שתקעה התחילו מחוסרי אמנה שבישראל מתלשין שערן ומקרעין כסותן

    Moses blew the horn until they returned before Pi Hahirot. As soon as he blew it, those in Israel who lack faith [מחוסרי אמנה] began plucking their hair and tearing their clothing…. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BeShallaḥ chpt. 2 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:128])

    ויאמר אליהם משה איש אל יותר ממנו עד בקר ולא שמעו אל משה אלו מחוסרי אמנה שבישראל

    And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it [i.e., the manna—DNB and JNT] over until morning,” but they did not listen to Moses [Exod. 16:19-20]. These are the ones in Israel who lacked faith [מחוסרי אמנה]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 5 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:242])

    ויהי ביום השביעי יצאו מן העם ללקוט וגו′ אלו מחוסרי אמנה שבישראל

    And it happened on the seventh day that they went out from the people to gather [Exod. 16:27] etc. These are the ones in Israel who lacked faith [מחוסרי אמנה]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 5 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:245])

    כי אשא אל שמים ידי, כשברא הקדוש ברוך הוא את העולם לא בראו אלא במאמר ולא בראו אלא בשבועה ומי גרם לו לישבע מחוסרי אמנה הם גרמו לו לישבע שנאמר וישא ידו להם להפיל אותם במדבר אני נשאתי ידי אל הגוים וגו′‏

    For I will lift my hand to heaven [Deut. 32:40]. When the Holy one, blessed be he, created the world, he did not create it except by speech and he did not create it except by an oath. Who, then, caused him to take an oath? Those lacking faith [מחוסרי אמנה], they caused him to take an oath, as it is said, And he lifted his hand to them [in an oath—DNB and JNT] that he would cause them to fall in the desert [Ps. 106:26] and I have lifted my hand to the nations [Ezek. 36:7] etc. (Sifre Deut. §330 [ed. Finkelstein, 380])

  • [161] Cf. Bovon, 2:211.
  • [162] The most frequent LXX translation of אוֹ in the Pentateuch is : Gen. 24:49; 31:43; 44:8, 19; Exod. 5:3; 19:13; 21:4, 18, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33 (2xx), 37 (2xx); 22:4, 5 (2xx), 6, 9 (4xx), 13; 23:4; 28:43; 30:20; Lev. 1:14; 3:6; 5:1 (2xx), 2 (4xx), 3, 4 (2xx), 6, 7, 11, 21 (3xx), 22, 23 (3xx); 7:16, 21 (2xx); 11:32 (3xx); 12:6 (2xx), 7, 8; 13:2, 19, 24, 29, 30, 38, 42 (2xx), 43, 47, 48 (4xx), 49 (5xx), 51 (3xx), 52 (4xx), 53 (3xx), 56 (3xx), 57 (3xx), 58 (3xx), 59 (5xx); 14:22, 30, 37; 15:14, 23, 29; 17:3 (2xx), 8, 13; 18:9 (2xx), 10; 19:20; 20:17, 27 (2xx); 21:18 (3xx), 19 (2xx), 20 (6xx); 22:4 (2xx), 5 (2xx), 21 (2xx), 22 (5xx), 27 (2xx), 28; 25:47, 49 (2xx); Num. 5:6, 14, 30; 6:2, 10; 9:10 (2xx); 14:2; 15:3 (4xx), 5, 8 (2xx), 11 (3xx), 14; 19:16 (3xx), 18 (3xx); 22:18; 24:13; 30:3, 11; 35:21, 22, 23; Deut. 4:16; 13:2 (2xx), 4, 6, 7 (4xx), 8; 14:21; 15:12, 21; 17:2, 3 (2xx), 5, 6, 12; 22:1, 4, 6 (3xx); 24:3, 14; 27:22; 29:17 (3xx). The second most common LXX translation of אוֹ in the Pentateuch is καί: Exod. 4:11 (3xx); Lev. 4:23, 28; 13:24, 29; 17:3; 25:14; Num. 11:8; 15:6; 18:17 (2xx); 30:15; 35:20; Deut. 19:15.
  • [163] Cf. the examples of -הִתְכַּסֶּה בְּ in m. Ket. 5:8 (cited above, Comment to L37) and m. Nid. 8:1.
  • [164] Cf. Isa. 37:1.
  • [165] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:917.
  • [166] See LSJ, 1120; Bovon, 2:219-220.
  • [167] The suggestion that the addition of τοῦ κόσμου somehow softens the criticism of Gentiles is advanced by Nolland (Luke, 2:693).
  • [168] See Marshall, 529; Davies-Allison, 1:658. The author of Luke used ἔθνος 10xx in his Gospel to refer to the Gentiles without the modifier τοῦ κόσμου (Luke 2:32; 18:32; 21:10 [2xx], 24 [3xx], 25 [?]; 22:25; 24:47), and 30xx in Acts (excluding Scripture quotations) without the modifier τοῦ κόσμου (Acts 4:27; 7:45; 9:15; 10:35, 45; 11:1, 18; 13:46, 48; 14:2, 5, 16, 27; 15:3, 7, 12, 14, 19, 23; 17:26; 18:6; 21:11, 19, 21, 25; 22:21; 26:17, 20, 23; 28:28).
  • [169] See Strack-Billerbeck, 2:191. According to Flusser (“‘Have You Ever Seen a Lion?’” [Flusser, JSTP2, 332 n. 4]), the Gospel of Luke may be the earliest evidence for the use of this Hebrew idiom.
  • [170] See Dos Santos, 152.
  • [171] See Jastrow, 1052.
  • [172] Text and translation according to Moses Hadas, Aristeas to Philocrates (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1951; repr. Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf and Stock, 2007), 157.
  • [173] See Bundy, 117.
  • [174] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:502.
  • [175] See Lindsey, GCSG, 3:46. The single example in which Matthew’s use of “heavenly Father” is supported by a synoptic parallel is Matt. 6:14 // Mark 11:25. In this verse the author of Matthew paraphrased Mark 11:25, which has the more Hebraic ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. On Matt. 6:14 // Mark 11:25, see Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L32-33.
  • [176] The examples of “heavenly Father” in unique Matthean verses are in Matt. 15:13 (ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ οὐράνιος); 18:35 (ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ οὐράνιος); 23:9 (ὁ πατὴρ ὁ οὐράνιος).
  • [177] Cf. David R. Catchpole, “Q and ‘The Friend at Midnight’ (Luke XI.5-8/9),” Journal of Theological Studies 34.2 (1983): 407-424, esp. 423.
  • [178] Examples of “your Father” (without the addition of “heavenly” or “in heaven”) that are likely to be original are found in Matt. 6:4, 6 (2xx), 8, 18 (2xx); 10:20, 29; Luke 6:36.
  • [179] See Dos Santos, 91.
  • [180] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:118-119.
  • [181] See Allen, 65.
  • [182] Pace Luz, 1:344.
  • [183] See Moshe Weinfeld, Social Justice in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1995), 34.
  • [184] See Gerd Theissen, Social Reality and the Early Christians: Theology, Ethics, and the World of the New Testament (trans. Margaret Kohl; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 48.
  • [185] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:179; Dos Santos, 109.
  • [186] On the reflexive use of עֶצֶם + pronominal suffix, see Segal, 207-208 §429-431.
  • [187] Examples of דַּי + pronominal suffix are found in Exod. 36:7; Jer. 49:9; Obad. 5; Prov. 25:16.
  • [188] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:708.
  • [189] See Dos Santos, 194.
  • [190] Luz (1:339) points to this change as exemplifying the conservatism that usually characterizes Matthean redaction.
  • [191] See Montefiore, TSG, 2:110; Jeremias, Prayers, 214-215 (cf. Theology, 236); Luz, 1:345; Theissen, Social Reality and the Early Christians, 40.
  • [192] Rabbi Nehorai’s opinion is juxtaposed to the saying about the lion working as a porter (cited above, Comment to L14-18), which argues that human beings must work because through sin we have forfeited our right to heavenly maintenance.
  • [193] On Matt. 9:37 // Luke 10:2, see Sending the Twelve: “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves.”
  • [194] On Matt. 10:10 // Luke 10:7, see Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L97.
  • [195] In Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry the command “Seek his Kingdom” likely alludes to the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer (“Thy Kingdom come”; Matt. 6:10).

Praying Like Gentiles

Matt. 6:7-8
(Huck 29; Aland 62; Crook 42)[1]

וּבַתְּפִלָּה אַל תְּפַטְפְּטוּ כַּגּוֹיִם הַחוֹשְׁבִים שֶׁבְּרֹב דִּבְרֵיהֶם יִשָּׁמְעוּ לְפִיכָךְ אַל תִּהְיוּ כָּהֵם כִּי יוֹדֵעַ אֲבִיכֶם אֵי זֶה צוֹרֶךְ יֵשׁ לָכֶם לִפְנֵי שֶׁאַתֶּם שׁוֹאֲלִים מִמֶּנּוּ

“And don’t blather while you pray as the Gentiles do, who believe that by uttering pre-formulated incantations their prayers will be granted. So don’t imitate them, for your father knows what you need even before you ask him.”[2]


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Reconstruction

To view the reconstructed text of Praying Like Gentiles click on the link below:

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Story Placement

Jesus’ critique of Gentile prayer is unique to the Gospel of Matthew. In Matthew this critique appears in a discussion of the proper performance of three major religious duties: almsgiving (Matt. 6:1-4), prayer (Matt. 6:5-15) and fasting (Matt. 6:16-18). Each discussion begins with a contrast between those whom Jesus calls “hypocrites,” who seek congratulation for their religious observance from their fellow human beings, and those who perform their religious duties out of true devotion. The latter, according to Jesus, are those whom God will reward. The section on prayer is the longest of the triad because the author of Matthew supplemented the section on prayer with the addition of the Praying Like Gentiles pericope (Matt. 6:7-8), the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) and an elaboration on the need to forgive others in order to receive forgiveness from on high (Matt. 6:14-15). If you are interested in learning all the similarities between the 6 religions of the world then go to morbid-romantic.net.

The author of Matthew’s augmentation of an Anthology section on religious duties.

That Praying Like Gentiles (Matt. 6:7-8) was originally a distinct unit, which the author of Matthew inserted into its present context in the Sermon on the Mount, has long been recognized by scholars.[3] Catchpole conveniently summarized the arguments as follows:

  1. The parallelism between the imperative (“do not blather”) and the justification (“because they think they will be heard on account of their many words”) marks Praying Like Gentiles as a self-contained literary unit.
  2. The group being criticized in Praying Like Gentiles (namely, non-Jews) is different from the group being criticized in the discussion of the proper performance of almsgiving, prayer and fasting (namely, self-aggrandizing Jews).
  3. The grounds for criticism are different. Whereas Jesus charges the self-aggrandizing Jews with hypocrisy, he charges the Gentiles with ignorance.
  4. Whereas the discussion of the proper performance of almsgiving, prayer and fasting contrasts the kind of reward (human congratulation vs. divine approval) one might receive for the performance of these religious duties, as well as the time for the enjoyment of these rewards (in the present time vs. in the world to come), Praying Like Gentiles does not discuss rewards at all.[4]

Despite its artificial position within the Sermon on the Mount, the Praying Like Gentiles pericope probably did originally belong to an extended teaching unit on prayer, which also included the Lord’s Prayer, Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (Matt. 6:25-34 // Luke 12:22-31), the Persistent Widow parable (Luke 18:1-8), and the Friend in Need (Matt. 7:7-8 // Luke 11:5-10) and Fathers Give Good Gifts similes (Matt. 7:9-11 // Luke 11:11-13). We refer to this extended teaching unit on prayer as the “How to Pray” complex.

The fact that Praying Like Gentiles overtly deals with prayer automatically makes it a likely candidate for inclusion in the “How to Pray” complex. Strengthening our hypothesis that Praying Like Gentiles originally belonged to this conjectured literary complex are the strong points of similarity (see below) between Praying Like Gentiles and Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, a pericope that seems to address the anxieties occasioned by the petition for bread (Matt. 6:11 // Luke 11:3) in the Lord’s Prayer, with its implied commitment to rely on God, rather than one’s own resources or labor, for one’s daily needs. In addition, the classification of prayer as a kind of asking (αἰτεῖν), which is common to Praying Like Gentiles (L10; Matt. 6:8), Friend in Need (L22; Matt. 7:7 // Luke 11:9) and Fathers Give Good Gifts (L20; Matt. 7:11 // Luke 11:13), supports our hypothesis that Praying Like Gentiles and these other pericopae dealing with prayer originally comprised a single literary unit. Further support for our hypothesis is found in the reiteration of God’s foreknowledge of the disciples’ needs (ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε; Matt. 6:8) in Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (χρῄζετε τούτων; L54; Matt. 6:32 // Luke 12:30), which is then echoed in the Friend in Need simile (ὅσων χρῄζει; L20; Luke 11:8).

The verbal and thematic ties linking Praying Like Gentiles to Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry are particularly strong. Both pericopae critique improper styles of praying/seeking[5] (Matt. 6:7; Matt. 6:32 // Luke 12:30); both pericopae use the conduct of Gentiles as a negative foil to the disciples’ proper conduct (Matt. 6:7; Matt. 6:32 // Luke 12:30); both contain a statement about God’s foreknowledge of human needs (Matt. 6:8; Matt. 6:32 // Luke 12:30); and both pericopae express confidence in God’s willingness to provide on the basis of his paternal relationship to the disciples (Matt. 6:8; Matt. 6:32 // Luke 12:30). These strong similarities suggest that these two pericopae originally appeared in the same literary context. Indeed, the assurance that the heavenly father knows the needs of the disciples before they ask him (Matt. 6:8) may have been the grounds for Jesus’ exhortation not to worry (διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ μεριμνᾶτε; Matt. 6:25 // Luke 12:22). Thus, our placement of the Praying Like Gentiles pericope between the Lord’s Prayer and Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry fills a logical gap that would otherwise have undermined the inner coherence of the “How to Pray” complex.

For an overview of the entire “How to Pray” complex, click here.

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

 

Conjectured Stages of Transmission

It is unlikely that the Praying Like Gentiles pericope was the product of Matthean composition,[6] since it has themes and vocabulary (e.g., the father’s foreknowledge of the disciples’ needs; the improper behavior of Gentiles) in common with pericopae that stemmed from the Anthology (Anth.), the Hebraic-Greek source that was utilized by the authors of Matthew and Luke.

The author of Luke likely omitted this pericope out of sensitivity to his Gentile audience. The author of Matthew, on the other hand, did not refrain from including critical statements concerning Gentiles despite his anti-Jewish bias and his Gentile-inclusive policy. It appears that the Matthean community regarded itself as neither Jewish nor Gentile, but as a new race, the “true Israel,” made up of believers of all backgrounds, which had supplanted “Israel according to the flesh” as God’s chosen people.[7] Its “neither fish nor fowl” self-understanding allowed the Matthean community to criticize both Jewish and Gentile practices that it deemed unworthy of true religion.

Crucial Issues

  1. In light of the Praying Like Gentiles pericope, how should we characterize Jesus’ view of non-Jews?
  2. How should Jesus’ view of non-Jewish religious practices inform our view of Judaism?

Comment

L1 προσευχόμενοι δὲ (GR). In Lord’s Prayer (L9) we reconstructed ὅταν προσεύχησθε (hotan prosevchēsthe, “when you might pray”) as כְּשֶׁאַתֶּם מִתְפַּלְּלִים (keshe’atem mitpalelim, “when you are praying”). Although it would be possible to reconstruct προσευχόμενοι δέ (prosevchomenoi de, “and praying”) the same way, the difference in Greek phrasing suggests that we ought to seek an alternative Hebrew reconstruction. In the Mishnah we encounter a few examples where בַּתְּפִילָּה (batefilāh, “in the prayer”) is used in the sense of “while praying”:

הָאֻמָּנִים קוֹרִין בְּרֹאשׁ הַאִילָּן אוֹ בְרֹאשׁ הַנִּדְבָּךְ מַה שֶּׁאֵינָן רַשַּׁיִים לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן בַּתְּפִילָּה

Craftsmen may recite [the Shema] while in a treetop or on top of a course of stones, which they are not permitted to do while praying [the Amidah] [בַּתְּפִילָּה]. (m. Ber. 2:4)

הָיָה עוֹמֵד בַּתְּפִילָּה וְנִזְכַּר שֶׁהוּא בַעַל קֶרִי

If he was standing while praying [the Amidah] [בַּתְּפִילָּה] and he remembered that he was ritually impure…. (m. Ber. 3:5)

עָמְדוּ {לפניהם} בִתְפִּילָּה וּמּוֹרֵידֵין לִפְנֵי הַתֵּיבָה זָקֵן וְרָגִיל וְיֶשׁ לוֹ בָנִים וּבֵיתוֹ רֵיקָּם כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּהֵא לִבּוֹ שָׁלֵם בַּתְּפִילָּה

They stood {before them} while praying [בִתְפִּילָּה] and they sent down before the ark an experienced elder who had children and whose house was empty so that his heart would be wholly focused while praying [בַּתְּפִילָּה]…. (m. Taan. 2:2)

A similar usage of בַּתְּפִילָּה is attested in the book of Daniel, where we read:

וְעוֹד אֲנִי מְדַבֵּר בַּתְּפִלָּה וְהָאִישׁ גַּבְרִיאֵל אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתִי בֶחָזוֹן בַּתְּחִלָּה מֻעָף בִּיעָף נֹגֵעַ אֵלַי

And I was still speaking while in prayer [בַּתְּפִלָּה], when the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in a vision at the beginning, came swiftly flying up to me. (Dan. 9:21)

On the basis of these examples we have adopted בַּתְּפִלָּה for HR.

L2 μὴ βατταλογήσητε (GR). The verb βατταλογεῖν (battalogein; var. βαττολογεῖν [battologein]) is extremely rare in extant Greek sources.[8] Apart from Matt. 6:7 and the later Christian writers who made reference to this verse, only two other instances of βατταλογεῖν are known. The first of these is found in a biography of Aesop, where we read:

ἐν οἴνῳ μὴ βαττολόγει σοφίαν ἐπιδεικνύμενος

Through wine do not babble [μὴ βαττολόγει], demonstrating wisdom. (Vita Aesopi chpt. 19 [ed. Westermann, 46-47])[9]

The second known instance of βατταλογεῖν unrelated to NT occurs in a commentary on the works of Epictetus by the sixth-century C.E. philosopher Simplicius of Cilicia, where we find:

Ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τὰ λοιπὰ κεφάλαια τοῦ Ἐπικτήτου τρεπτέον, μὴ ἐμαυτὸν λάθω προθέμενος μὲν τὰ τοῦ Ἐπικτήτου σαφηνίσαι, περὶ καθηκόντων δὲ βαττολογῶν νῦν.

I must turn to the other chapters of Epictetus’s book, and I must not forget my purpose, while I babble [βαττολογῶν] about duties. (In Epicteti Enchiridion, chpt. 37 end)[10]

Due to the paucity of examples, some scholars have suggested that βατταλογεῖν is in fact a hybrid term made up of Hebrew/Aramaic (βαττα = בָּטָא [bāṭā’, “speak rashly”]?; or βατταλ = בִּטֵּל [biṭēl, “nullify”]?) and Greek components (λογεῖν [logein, “to speak”]).[11] These hybrid explanations fail to convince most scholars, however. First, it is difficult to understand why a Greek translator of a Semitic source would have had no other recourse than to coin a hybrid term, which, because it was unknown, could have conveyed no meaning to a Greek-speaking audience. Second, the two other sources where βατταλογεῖν does occur lack a Hebrew or Aramaic substratum, and it is difficult to understand why these Greek authors would have used a basically unknown Semitic-Greek hybrid term in their writings.[12]

The comments of Origen on Matt. 6:7 also caution against tracing βατταλογεῖν to a Semitic-Greek hybrid term. In his treatise On Prayer (ca. 234 C.E.),[13] Origen wrote the following about the term βατταλογεῖν:

καὶ ἔοικέ γε ὁ πολυλογῶν βαττολογεῖν, και ὁ βαττολογῶν πολυλογεῖν.

It seems indeed that he who speaks much “uses vain repetitions [βαττολογεῖν],” and he who “uses vain repetitions [βαττολογῶν]” speaks much. (Origen, De oratione [On Prayer] 21:2 [ed. Koetschau, 2:345])[14]

Origen’s comment reveals that the verb βατταλογεῖν was rare enough to warrant some explanation, but he does not treat this verb the way he treated the notoriously difficult adjective ἐπιούσιος (epiousios) that occurs in the Lord’s Prayer (L16; Matt. 6:11 // Luke 11:3), about which he wrote:

πρῶτον δὲ τοῦτο ἰστέον, ὅτι ἡ λέξις ἡ ,,ἐπιούσιον“ παρ᾽ οὐδενὶ τῶν Ἑλλήνων οὔτε τῶν σοφῶν ὠνόμασται οὔτε ἐν τῇ τῶν ἰδιωτῶν συνηθείᾳ τέτριπται, ἀλλ᾽ ἔοικε πεπλάσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν εὐανγγελιστῶν.

And first, it ought to be known that this word epiousios is not employed by any of the Greeks or learned writers, nor is it in common use among ordinary folk; but it seems likely to have been coined by the evangelists. (De oratione [On Prayer] 27:7 [ed. Koetschau, 2:366-367])[15]

The sanctuary of the god Pan in Banias at the headwaters of the River Jordan as it appeared to an artist in the mid-1800s. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Had βατταλογεῖν been derived from Hebrew or Aramaic, or had it been coined by the Greek translator of a Hebrew or Aramaic Gospel, Origen would hardly have failed to state this fact, as his discussion of ἐπιούσιος shows. It therefore seems best to regard βατταλογεῖν as a purely Greek verb rather than as a hybrid Hebrew/Aramaic-Greek term coined by the Greek translator of Jesus’ saying.

Defining βατταλογεῖν is also problematic due to its few attestations. “To go on and on at length” would seem to fit the examples in Matt. 6:7, Vita Aesopi and Simplicius. Some scholars have suggested that βατταλογεῖν is related to βατταριζεῖν (battarizein, “to stutter”).[16] In any case, βατταλογεῖν seems to connote redundancy and incoherence.

אַל תְּפַטְפְּטוּ (HR). Since the verb βατταλογεῖν is so rare, and since its exact meaning is so uncertain, finding a suitable reconstruction is difficult. Delitzsch rendered βατταλογεῖν as פִּטְפֵּט (piṭpēṭ, “babble,” “blather”) in his Hebrew translation of the New Testament. More recently, Luz considered the Aramaic cognate פַּטְפֵּט (paṭpēṭ, “babble,” “blather”) to be a possible equivalent of βατταλογεῖν.[17] The Hebrew verb פִּטְפֵּט is quite rare in rabbinic sources, and if this was the verb that stood in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua it might account for the choice of an equally rare verb in Greek. We encounter an example of פִּטְפֵּט in the following baraita:

בארבעה ועשרים בטבת תבנא לדיננא שהיו צדוקין אומרין תירש הבת עם בת הבן נטפל להן רבן יוחנן בן זכאי אמר להם שוטים מנין זה לכם ולא היה אדם שהחזירו דבר חוץ מזקן אחד שהיה מפטפט כנגדו ואומר ומה בת בנו הבאה מכח בנו תירשנו בתו הבאה מכחו לא כל שכן

On the twenty-fourth of Tevet we returned to our judgments—for the Sadducees insisted that a daughter inherits [from her father] the same as a granddaughter inherits from her grandfather if her father is already dead. Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai took issue with them and said, “Fools, what are the grounds for this conclusion?” And there was not a man who could answer him a word in reply, except for one elder who was blathering [מפטפט] opposite him and saying, “If the granddaughter, who is related to the bestower of the inheritance only through the son, inherits, then the daughter, who is related directly to the bestower of the son, ought to inherit.” (b. Bab. Bat. 115b)

From the perspective of the rabbinic sages, the Sadducean elder’s answer was nothing more than rubbish because although his answer is logical, Jewish law is not derived from pure reason, it is based on Scripture. In his answer, the Sadducean elder either ignored or was ignorant of the plain teaching of Scripture that sisters do not inherit along with their brothers from their father. Only if a man dies with no male offspring do daughters inherit their father’s property.[18] The case of the granddaughter who does inherit if her father dies before her grandfather, which the Sadducean elder cited, is not a valid analogy, since the granddaughter merely inherits her grandfather’s property on her deceased father’s behalf. In that way, the son, though dead, is secured an equal share along with his living brothers. In the view of the rabbinic sages, the granddaughter who inherits is the exception that proves the rule, and they regarded the Sadducean elder as a blathering fool for not having recognized this.

We find the same rabbinic estimation of a Sadducean argument in another dispute between Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai and a Boethusian (i.e., Sadducean) elder:

מתמניא ביה ועד סוף מועדא איתותב חגא דשבועיא דלא למספד שהיו בייתוסין אומרים עצרת אחר השבת ניטפל להם רבן יוחנן בן זכאי ואמר להם שוטים מנין לכם ולא היה אדם אחד שהיה משיבו חוץ מזקן אחד שהיה מפטפט כנגדו ואמר משה רבינו אוהב ישראל היה ויודע שעצרת יום אחד הוא עמד ותקנה אחר שבת כדי שיהו ישראל מתענגין שני ימים

From the eighth thereof [i.e., of the month of Nisan] until the end of the Feast [of Unleavened Bread], during which the proper date of the Feast of Pentecost was reestablished, fasting is forbidden—For the Boethusians insisted Pentecost must fall on the day after the Sabbath [i.e., on a Sunday]. Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai took issue with them and said, “Fools, what are the grounds for this conclusion?” And there was not a man who could answer him a word in reply, except for one elder who was blathering [מפטפט] opposite him and saying, “Moses, our teacher, was a friend of Israel, and knowing that Pentecost was but a single day, he rose and ordained that it would fall after the Sabbath so that Israel would enjoy two days of rest.” (b. Men. 65a)

Here again, the Sadducean interlocutor used a non-Scriptural and (from the rabbinic point of view) invalid argument in support of his position.[19] The rabbinic sages regarded the elder’s speech as balderdash. While not necessarily devoid of meaning or logic, the elder’s speech was wrongheaded and therefore the object of the sages’ contempt.

We cannot be certain what, in Jesus’ opinion, qualified the Gentiles’ prayers as blathering. In ancient magical Greek papyri from Egypt we encounter the use of meaningless vocalizations, such as the following, while addressing the gods:

ααααααα εεεεεεε ηηηηηηη ιιιιιιι οοοοοοο υυυυυυυ ωωωωωωω

aaaaaaa eeeeeee ēēēēēēē iiiiiii ooooooo ūūūūūūū ōōōōōōō (PGM II. 97)[20]

The magical papyri also contain lengthy repetitions of magical words, wherein the first letter of the word is dropped with each repetition until the speaker is reduced to silence, for example:

[ακρακαναρβα] κρακαναρβα ρακαναρβα ακαναρβα καναρβα αναρβα [ν]αρβα αρβα ρβα [βα] α

[akrakanarba] krakanarba rakanarba akanarba kanarba anarba [n]arba arba rba [ba] a (PGM II. 66-68; cf. PGM XXXIII. 1-20; PGM XXXIX. 1-20)

Another magical formula for addressing the gods was the use of palindromes, nonsense words that mirrored themselves, for instance:

αεμιναεβαρωθερρεθωραβεανιμεα

aeminaebarōtherrethōrabeanimea (PGM IV. 196-197; cf. PGM I. 295)

Fourth-century C.E. magical papyrus with incantation (PGM V. 85). From Karl Preisendanz, ed., Papyri Graecae Magicae (2 vols.; Leipzig: Teubner, 1928-1931), vol. 1 plate 3.

Any or all of these practices could be the target of Jesus’ critique of Gentile prayer, but since it is doubtful whether Jesus or his disciples had anything more than a vague impression of what non-Jews said or did when they prayed, it is unwise to be too specific.[21] Jesus may have regarded all Gentile prayer as blathering nonsense on the grounds that their prayers were not addressed to the God of Israel, whom he regarded as the only true God. At any rate, the more effort Gentiles put into their prayers, the more tragically futile their effort must have seemed to Jesus and his followers.

L3 ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταί (Matt. 6:7; Vaticanus). As we noted under the “Story Placement” subheading, one of the clues that Praying Like Gentiles did not originally belong to Jesus’ critique of almsgiving, prayer and fasting as practiced by Jewish “hypocrites” (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16) is that in Praying Like Gentiles Jesus criticized the practice of non-Jews. The scribe who produced Codex Vaticanus attempted to integrate the Praying Like Gentiles pericope more fully into its Matthean context in the Sermon on the Mount by changing οἱ ἐθνικοί (“the Gentiles”) to οἱ ὑποκριταί (“the hypocrites”).[22] There can be little doubt that this reading in Codex Vaticanus is secondary, since it is inconceivable that a statement originally directed against Jews would have been turned into a criticism of Gentiles in the majority of NT manuscripts.[23]

Byzantine mosaic depicting Tyche, goddess of good fortune, crowned with the city walls of Scythopolis (Bet Shean), and holding a cornucopia. Photographed by Joshua Tilton at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Changing “Gentiles” to “hypocrites” was more than an attempt to assimilate Praying Like Gentiles to its surrounding context, however. The change was also an attempt to avoid offending the Gentile-Christian readers for whom Codex Vaticanus was created.[24] But in making this change, the scribe who produced Codex Vaticanus turned the meaning of Jesus’ saying in Matt. 6:7 on its head. Instead of affirming Jewish forms of prayer, as Jesus had originally intended, the scribe who produced Codex Vaticanus transformed Matt. 6:7 into yet one more piece of ammunition in the Church’s anti-Jewish arsenal.[25] As such, the scribal change from “Gentiles” to “hypocrites” in Matt. 6:7 is a chilling premonition of the radical efforts to de-Judaize the New Testament that were to take place under the auspices of the Institut zur Erforschung und Beseitigung des jüdischen Einflusses auf das deutsche kirchliche Leben (Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Church Life) in Nazi Germany.[26] The edition of the New Testament that this institute produced contained the notorious substitution of Jesus’ affirmation that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22) with the anti-Semitic slogan “the Jews are our misfortune.”[27] In Vaticanus’ version of Matt. 6:7 we witness the perverse trajectory of anti-Jewish tampering with the text of the New Testament, which reached its apex in the work of the Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Church Life, at a point much closer to its inauspicious beginning.

ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί (GR). For GR we have adopted ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί (hōsper hoi ethnikoi, “like the Gentiles”), the reading of the critical editions. The adjective ἐθνικός (ethnikos, “ethnic”), which is used in Matt. 6:7 as a substantive, does not occur in LXX, where, however, the noun ἔθνος (ethnos, “people group,”) occurs over 990xx. The adjective ἐθνικός is also rare in the writings of Philo (Mos. 1:69, 188) and Josephus (Ant. 12:36) and, indeed, in NT (Matt. 5:47; 6:7; 18:17; 3 John 7). The Matthean instances of ἐθνικός, at least in Matt. 5:47 and Matt. 6:7, probably derive from Anth.

In Classical Greek sources τὰ ἔθνη (ta ethnē, “the people groups”) was sometimes used in opposition to οἱ Ἕλληνες (hoi Hellēnes, “the Greeks”), with the clear implication that τὰ ἔθνη refers to outsider people groups (i.e., foreigners).[28] Similarly, the adjective ἐθνικός can mean “foreign.”[29] In LXX and in NT ἔθνος often conveys the sense of “foreigner,” but since the perspective in these sources is Jewish, the foreigners denoted by ἔθνος, and likewise ἐθνικός, are non-Jews (i.e., Gentiles).[30]

Statue of the goddess Artemis from the second century C.E., discovered in Caesarea. Photographed by Gary Asperschlager at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

In our discussion and translations we have preferred to use the term “Gentile” as opposed to “pagan” (e.g., NIV, GNT) or “heathen” (e.g., NEB, NKJV), which are used in some modern translations. “Heathen” we have avoided because in English usage this term tends to connote “primitive” and “uncivilized,” whereas τὰ ἔθνη/הַגּוֹיִם often refers to Greeks and Romans, the bearers of high culture in the ancient Mediterranean world. Our reason for avoiding “pagan” is that it is generally regarded as equivalent to “polytheist,” and therefore has the potential to give the misleading impression that Jesus might have exempted from his criticism enlightened non-Jews who adhered to a philosophical monotheism. It is questionable whether Jesus acknowledged the existence of such a category of persons, or whether they would have escaped his criticism if he had. “Gentile” is preferable, since according to Jesus’ worldview humanity was divided between Israel and the rest of the peoples of the world.[31] In Praying Like Gentiles Jesus indiscriminately critiqued all non-Jewish forms of prayer.

כַּגּוֹיִם (HR). In a survey of all the instances of ὥσπερ (hōsper, “as,” “like”) in the first five books of Moses, most were the translation of the preposition -כְּ (ke, “like”).[32] As we noted above, ἐθνικός does not occur in LXX, but the related ἔθνος translates גּוֹי (gōy, “people group”) more than any other Hebrew noun,[33] and גּוֹי was rendered with ἔθνος far more frequently than with any other Greek term.[34]

In LXX כַּגּוֹיִם (kagōyim, “like the Gentiles”) is translated as καθὰ καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἔθνη (katha kai ta loipa ethnē, “as also the remaining people groups”) in Deut. 8:20, καθὼς τὰ ἔθνη (kathōs ta ethnē, “just as the people groups”) in 4 Kgdms. 17:11, and as ὡς τὰ ἔθνη (hōs ta ethnē, “as the people groups”) in Ezek. 20:32. If ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί in Matt. 6:7 does indeed reflect כַּגּוֹיִם in a Hebrew Ur-text, then it is a non-Septuagintal rendition of this phrase.

L4 הַחוֹשְׁבִים (HR). The verb δοκεῖν (dokein, “to think,” “to seem”) does not have a clear Hebrew equivalent in LXX. Often δοκεῖν appears where there is no Hebrew equivalent;[35] other times δοκεῖν renders אִם טוֹב (’im tōv, “if it is good”; Esth. 1:19; 3:9; 5:4; 8:5) or אָמַר (’āmar, “say”; Prov. 28:24). On the two occasions when δοκεῖν translates a Hebrew verb for “think,” that verb is either חָשַׁב (ḥāshav) or the nif ‘al form of the same root, נֶחְשַׁב (neḥshav):

וַיִּרְאֶהָ יְהוּדָה וַיַּחְשְׁבֶהָ לְזוֹנָה

And Judah saw her and thought she was a prostitute…. (Gen. 38:15)

καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὴν Ιουδας ἔδοξεν αὐτὴν πόρνην εἶναι

And seeing her, Judas thought she was a prostitute…. (Gen. 38:15)

מְבָרֵךְ רֵעֵהוּ בְּקוֹל גָּדוֹל בַּבֹּקֶר הַשְׁכֵּים קְלָלָה תֵּחָשֶׁב לוֹ

Of the one who blesses his friend in a loud voice when rising early in the morning, it will be thought of as a curse. (Prov. 27:14)

ὃς ἂν εὐλογῇ φίλον τὸ πρωὶ μεγάλῃ τῇ φωνῇ, καταρωμένου οὐδὲν διαφέρειν δόξεἰ

Whoever blesses a friend early in the morning with a loud voice will seem not to be different from one who is cursing. (Prov. 27:14; NETS)

Although חָשַׁב was rendered by a variety of Greek verbs in LXX,[36] we have adopted חָשַׁב for HR since other options such as הָאֹמְרִים בִּלְבָבָם (hā’omrim bilvāvām, “who say in their heart”; Delitzsch) or שֶׁנִדְמֶה לָהֶם (shenidmeh lāhem, “because it appears to them”), expressed in the passive voice, are dissimilar to the Greek text.

Compare our reconstruction of δοκοῦσιν γὰρ as הַחוֹשְׁבִים with the following examples:

עַד מָתַי הֲיֵשׁ בְּלֵב הַנְּבִאִים נִבְּאֵי הַשָּׁקֶר וּנְבִיאֵי תַּרְמִת לִבָּם הַחֹשְׁבִים לְהַשְׁכִּיחַ אֶת עַמִּי שְׁמִי בַּחֲלוֹמֹתָם אֲשֶׁר יְסַפְּרוּ אִישׁ לְרֵעֵהוּ

How long will there be in the heart of the prophets lying prophets and deceitful prophets who are thinking [הַחֹשְׁבִים] how they can cause my people to forget my name by means of their dreams that they report each to his neighbor…? (Jer. 23:26-27)

אֵלֶּה הָאֲנָשִׁים הַחֹשְׁבִים אָוֶן וְהַיֹּעֲצִים עֲצַת רָע בָּעִיר הַזֹּאת

These are the men who are thinking [הַחֹשְׁבִים] iniquity and who are counseling evil counsel in this city. (Ezek. 11:2)

הַחוֹשֵׁב לִשְׁלוֹחַ יָד בַּפִּיקָּדוֹן בֵּית שַׁמַּיִ מְחַיְּיבִין וּבֵית הֶלֵּל אוֹמְ′ אֵיּנוּ חַיָּיב אֶלָּא עַד שָׁעָה שֶׁשִּׁילַּח יָד

The one who is thinking [הַחוֹשֵׁב] of putting forth his hand [to take for himself—DNB and JNT] what was entrusted to him—the House of Shammai make him liable, but the House of Hillel say, “He is not liable until the moment he has actually put forth his hand.” (m. Bab. Metz. 3:12)

הַחוֹשֵׁב עַל מֵי חַטָּאת {ו}לְשׁתּוֹתָן ר′ אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹ′ פָּסַל [[וּ]]ר′ יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹ′ כְּשֶׁיִּטֶּה

The one who is thinking [הַחוֹשֵׁב] of drinking the waters of the sin offering—Rabbi Eliezer says, “He disqualified it,” [[but]] Rabbi Yehoshua says, “[He disqualified it only—DNB and JNT] when he has gone so far as to tip [the container to his lips—DNB and JNT].” (m. Par. 9:4)

L5 שֶׁבְּרֹב דִּבְרֵיהֶם (HR). On reconstructing ὅτι (hoti, “that,” “because”) with -שֶׁ (she-, “that,” “because”), see Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, Comment to L31.

The noun πολυλογία (polūlogia, “loquaciousness,” “verbosity”) occurs once in LXX, where it is the translation of רֹב דְּבָרִים (rov devārim, “abundance of words”):

בְּרֹב דְּבָרִים לֹא יֶחְדַּל פָּשַׁע וְחֹשֵׂךְ שְׂפָתָיו מַשְׂכִּיל

In abundance of words sin will not cease, but the one who restrains his lips is wise. (Prov. 10:19)

ἐκ πολυλογίας οὐκ ἐκφεύξῃ ἁμαρτίαν, φειδόμενος δὲ χειλέων νοήμων ἔσῃ.

From many words you will not escape sin, but if you restrain your lips, you will be intelligent. (Prov. 10:19; NETS)

Elsewhere in LXX the phrase רֹב דְּבָרִים is translated as πολλὰ λέγων (polla legōn, “speaking much”; Job 11:2) or πλήθει λόγων (plēthei logōn, “copious speaking”; Eccl 5:2). Excluding biblical quotations, we have not found examples of רֹב דְּבָרִים in rabbinic sources. However, there is one example of this phrase in the Apocryphon of Joshua, discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls:

על [ע]וזבי אל וברב ד[ב]רי[ך — ]

…upon those who [for]sake God and by [your] many w[o]rds…. (4Q379 18 I, 2)

The text is too fragmentary to shed much light on the usage of רֹב דְּבָרִים in this example other than to demonstrate that this phrase could still be used by Hebrew authors in the Second Temple period.

L6 εἰσακουσθήσονται (GR). Although the presence of compound verbs is sometimes due to the editorial activity of the authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke or FR, some compound verbs probably derive from Anth. Since εἰσακούειν (eisakouein, “to listen to”) occurs over 200xx in LXX, usually as the translation of שָׁמַע (shāma‘, “hear,” “listen”),[37] this compound verb was probably familiar to the Greek translator of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua. Moreover, εἰσακούειν as the translation of שָׁמַע is particularly common in conjunction with prayer, as we see in the following examples:

לִשְׁמֹעַ אֶל הַתְּפִלָּה אֲשֶׁר יִתְפַּלֵּל עַבְדְּךָ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה

…to listen to the prayer that your servant will pray toward this place. (1 Kgs. 8:29)

τοῦ εἰσακούειν τῆς προσευχῆς ἧς προσεύχεται ὁ δοῦλός σου εἰς τὸν τόπον τοῦτον

…to listen to the prayer that your servant prays toward this place…. (3 Kgdms. 8:29)

חָנֵּנִי וּשְׁמַע תְּפִלָּתִי

Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. (Ps. 4:2)

οἰκτίρησόν με καὶ εἰσάκουσον τῆς προσευχῆς μου

Have compassion on me and listen to my prayer. (Ps. 4:2)

שִׁמְעָה תְפִלָּתִי יי וְשַׁוְעָתִי הַאֲזִינָה

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and listen to my cry for help. (Ps. 39:13)

εἰσάκουσον τῆς προσευχῆς μου, κύριε, καὶ τῆς δεήσεώς μου ἐνώτισαι

Listen to my prayer, O Lord, and to my petition give ear. (Ps. 38:13; NETS)

אֱלֹהִים שְׁמַע תְּפִלָּתִי הַאֲזִינָה לְאִמְרֵי פִי

O God, hear my prayer; listen to the words of my mouth. (Ps. 54:4)

ὁ θεός, εἰσάκουσον τῆς προσευχῆς μου, ἐνώτισαι τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ στόματός μου

O God, listen to my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth. (Ps. 53:4; NETS)

שֹׁמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה עָדֶיךָ כָּל בָּשָׂר יָבֹאוּ

Hearer of prayer: unto you all flesh will come. (Ps. 65:3)

εἰσάκουσον προσευχῆς μου· πρὸς σὲ πᾶσα σὰρξ ἥξεἰ

Listen to my prayer! To you all flesh shall come. (Ps. 64:3; NETS)

יי אֱלֹהִים צְבָאוֹת שִׁמְעָה תְפִלָּתִי הַאֲזִינָה אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב

O LORD God of Hosts, hear my prayer; listen, O God of Jacob. (Ps. 84:9)

κύριε ὁ θεὸς τῶν δυνάμεων, εἰσάκουσον τῆς προσευχῆς μου ἐνώτισαι, ὁ θεὸς Ιακωβ

O Lord God of hosts, listen to my prayer; give ear, O God of Iakob! (Ps. 83:9; NETS)

יי שִׁמְעָה תְפִלָּתִי וְשַׁוְעָתִי אֵלֶיךָ תָבוֹא

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry for help come to you. (Ps. 102:2)

Εἰσάκουσον, κύριε, τῆς προσευχῆς μου, καὶ ἡ κραυγή μου πρὸς σὲ ἐλθάτὠ

O Lord, listen to my prayer, and let my cry come to you. (Ps. 101:2; NETS)

יי שְׁמַע תְּפִלָּתִי הַאֲזִינָה אֶל תַּחֲנוּנַי

O LORD, hear my prayer; listen to my petitions…. (Ps. 143:1)

Κύριε, εἰσάκουσον τῆς προσευχῆς μου, ἐνώτισαι τὴν δέησίν μου

O Lord, listen to my prayer; give ear to my petition…. (Ps. 142:1; NETS)

Jesus’ critique of Gentiles who vainly expect their prayers to be heard is comparable to that which is found in the Jewish prayer called Aleinu, which states:

עָלֵינוּ לְשַׁבֵּחַ לַאֲדוֹן הַכֹּל לָתֵת גְּדֻלָּה לְיוֹצֵר בְּרֵאשִׁית שֶׁלֹּא עָשָׂנוּ כְּגוֹיֵי הָאֲרָצוֹת וְלֹא שָׂמָנוּ כְּמִשְׁפְּחוֹת הָאֲדָמָה שֶׁלֹּא שָׂם חֶלְקֵנוּ כָּהֶם וְגוֹרָלֵנוּ כְּכָל הֲמוֹנָם שֶׁהֵם מִשְׁתַּחֲוִים לְהֶבֶל וָרִיק וּמִתְפַּלְּלִים אֶל אֵל לֹא יוֹשִׁיעַ וַאֲנַחְנוּ כֹּרעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים וּמוֹדִים לִפְנֵי מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

It is incumbent upon us to praise the Lord of all things, to ascribe greatness to the craftsman of creation, for he did not make us like the Gentiles of the lands and he did not establish us like the families of the earth, for he did not establish our portion [to be] like them, nor our lot [to be] like all their multitude. For they prostrate themselves to vanity and nothingness, and they pray to a deity that does not save.[38] But we bow down and prostrate ourselves and give thanks before the king of kings, the Holy one, blessed be he.

A first-century B.C.E. relief of an ear from Thessalonica dedicated to the gods Serapis and Isis by a worshipper in order that his prayers might be heard. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

While it is difficult to date liturgical texts such as the Aleinu prayer, some scholars believe it originated in the Second Temple period.[39] Whether or not Jesus was familiar with an early form of this prayer, he was certainly familiar with the biblical verses to which Aleinu alludes. The reference to “vanity and nothingness” (הֶבֶל וָרִיק) alludes to Isa. 30:7, where the prophet warns the kingdom of Judah that relying on Egypt for political deliverance will end in disappointment. The prayers of Gentiles to a deity that cannot save alludes to Isa. 45:20:

הִקָּבְצוּ וָבֹאוּ הִתְנַגְּשׁוּ יַחְדָּו פְּלִיטֵי הַגּוֹיִם לֹא יָדְעוּ הַנֹּשְׂאִים אֶת עֵץ פִּסְלָם וּמִתְפַּלְלִים אֶל אֵל לֹא יוֹשִׁיעַ

Gather and come! Draw close together, O survivors of the Gentiles. They who carry about wooden images do not know, neither do they who pray to a deity that cannot save. (Isa. 45:20)

Comparison of Matt. 6:7-8 with scriptural verses and later Jewish prayer demonstrates that Jesus belonged to a tradition that looked askance at non-Jewish forms of worship. The hope was that when the God of Israel redeemed his people the Gentiles would witness his saving power and recognize him as the only true God.[40] Thus the redemption of Israel would result in the salvation of all humankind.

L7 μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς (Matt. 6:8). The verb ὁμοιοῦν (homoioun) means “to make like” and is typically used when making a comparison (cf., e.g., Matt. 11:16 // Luke 7:31). This is the usual meaning of ὁμοιοῦν in LXX as well, but in the story of Jacob’s daughter Dinah the verb ὁμοιοῦν is used to describe the adoption of foreign practices. In that story, Jacob’s sons consent to their sister Dinah’s marriage to a particular Canaanite on condition that all the male Canaanites of his hometown, Shechem, agree to be circumcised. Attempting to persuade his fellow Shechemites to agree to this condition, the Canaanite urges:

μόνον ἐν τούτῳ ὁμοιωθήσονται ἡμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι τοῦ κατοικεῖν μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν ὥστε εἶναι λαὸν ἕνα, ἐν τῷ περιτέμνεσθαι ἡμῶν πᾶν ἀρσενικόν, καθὰ καὶ αὐτοὶ περιτέτμηνται. καὶ τὰ κτήνη αὐτῶν καὶ τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτῶν καὶ τὰ τετράποδα οὐχ ἡμῶν ἔσται; μόνον ἐν τούτῳ ὁμοιωθῶμεν αὐτοῖς, καὶ οἰκήσουσιν μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν.

Only in this will the people become like [ὁμοιωθήσονται] us to live with us so as to be one people, when every male of ours is circumcised, as they also have been circumcised. And will not their livestock and their possessions and their quadrupeds be ours? Only in this let us become like [ὁμοιωθῶμεν] them, and they will live with us. (Gen. 34:22-23; NETS)

In the above passage the Canaanite urges his countrymen to become like the Israelites by adopting the foreign practice of circumcision in order that the Israelites may, in turn, be absorbed by the Shechemite community. Such a proposal was, of course, a direct threat to the unique relationship between God and the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To emphasize this threat the LXX translators used the verb ὁμοιοῦν (“to make like”; pass., “to become like”) to render the Hebrew root א-ו-ת (nif ‘al, “agree,” “be pleased”), which has a far less sinister connotation. In Praying Like Gentiles we encounter a similar concern to preserve the uniqueness of Israel’s relationship to God by avoiding the imitation of pagan rites and rituals.

לְפִיכָךְ אַל תִּהְיוּ כָּהֵם (HR). On reconstructing οὖν (oun, “therefore”) with לְפִיכָךְ (lefichāch, “therefore”), see “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves”, Comment to L44; and cf. Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, Comment to L44, L60.

In LXX ὁμοιοῦν (homoioun, “to make like”; pass., “to become like”) is usually the translation of דָּמָה (dāmāh, “be like”);[41] however, we do not find examples of commands against being like someone or something expressed with דָּמָה. Instead we find the formula -אַל תְּהִי כְּ (’al tehi ke-, “do not be like”), as in the following examples:

אַל תִּהְיוּ כַאֲבֹתֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר קָרְאוּ אֲלֵיהֶם הַנְּבִיאִים הָרִאשֹׁנִים לֵאמֹר

Do not be like your fathers [LXX: μὴ γίνεσθε καθὼς οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν], to whom the former prophets cried, saying…. (Zech. 1:4)

אַל תְּהִי מֶרִי כְּבֵית הַמֶּרִי

Do not be rebellious like the house of rebellion [LXX: μὴ γίνου παραπικραίνων καθὼς ὁ οἶκος ὁ παραπικραίνων]. (Ezek. 2:8)

אַל תִּהְיוּ כְּסוּס כְּפֶרֶד אֵין הָבִין

Do not be like a horse or like a mule [LXX: μὴ γίνεσθε ὡς ἵππος καὶ ἡμίονος], not understanding…. (Ps. 32:9)

וְאַל תִּהְיוּ כַּאֲבוֹתֵיכֶם וְכַאֲחֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר מָעֲלוּ בַּיי אֱלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵיהֶם

And do not be like your fathers or like your brothers [LXX: καὶ μὴ γίνεσθε καθὼς οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ ὑμῶν], who broke faith with the LORD, the God of your fathers…. (2 Chr. 30:7)

If our reconstruction of μὴ ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς (mē homoiōthēte avtois, “do not be like them”) with אַל תִּהְיוּ כָּהֵם (’al tihyū kāhēm, “do not be like them”) is correct, then the Greek translator of the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text did not follow the model for rendering -אַל תְּהִי כְּ laid down by the LXX.

Examples of -אַל תְּהִי כְּ are also found in rabbinic sources, for instance:

אַנְטִיגְנַס אִישׁ סוֹכוֹ…הָיָה אוֹמֵ′ אַל תִּהְיוּ כַעֲבָדִים הַמְשַׁמְּשִׁים אֶת הָרָב עַל מְנַת לְקַבֵּל פְּרַס

Antigonos of Socho…would say, “Do not be like slaves [אַל תִּהְיוּ כַעֲבָדִים] who serve their master for the sake of receiving a reward….” (m. Avot 1:3)

לא תרצח כנגד ויאמר אלהים ישרצו המים אמר הקב″ה אל תהיו כדגים הללו שהגדולים בולעים את הקטנים שנאמר ותעשה אדם כדגי הים וגו′

Do not murder [Exod. 20:13] corresponds to And God said, “Let the waters team…” [Gen. 1:20]. The Holy one, blessed be he, said, “Do not be like these fish [אל תהיו כדגים הללו], for the big ones swallow the little ones, as it is said, And you made man like a fish of the sea [Hab. 1:14]. (Pesikta Rabbati 21:19 [ed. Friedmann, 108a])[42]

Statue of the goddess Kore (Persephone) from the second to fourth century C.E. discovered in Samaria. In her right hand Kore holds a torch, in her left she holds a pomegranate and ears of grain. Photo by Todd Bolen courtesy of BiblePlaces.com.

כָּהֵם (HR). In MH, when the third person plural pronominal suffix was attached to the preposition -כְּ (ke-, “like”), this was expressed as כְּמוֹתָם (kemōtām, “like them”), whereas in BH -כְּ + third person plural pronominal suffix took the form כָּהֵם (kāhēm, “like them”).[43] Although we prefer to reconstruct direct speech in a Mishnaic style of Hebrew, we have preferred the older form כָּהֵם in this case, first because the form כְּמוֹתָם did not become common until post-tannaic sources,[44] and second because it appears that the older form כָּהֵם continued to be used even after the use of כְּמוֹתָם was accepted.

The following is an example of כָּהֵם in a rabbinic source:

יש גר כאברהם אבינו כאי זה צד הלך ופישפש בכל האומות כיון שראה שמספרין בטובתן של ישראל אמר מתי אתגייר [ואהיה כהם] ואכנס תחת כנפי השכינה

There is a proselyte like Abraham our father. How so? He went and made inquiries among all the Gentiles. As soon as he saw that they reported the goodness of Israel, he said, “When will I convert [so that I can be like them (ואהיה כהם)] and so that I can enter beneath the wings of the Shechinah?” (Seder Eliyahu Rabbah, chpt. [29] 27 [ed. Friedmann, 146])

We also encounter the form כָּהֶם in a line from Aleinu (cited above, Comment to L6):

שֶׁלֹּא שָׂם חֶלְקֵנוּ כָּהֶם וְגוֹרָלֵנוּ כְּכָל הֲמוֹנָם

…for he did not establish our portion [to be] like them [כָּהֶם] [i.e., the Gentiles—DNB and JNT], nor our lot [to be] like all their multitude.

In the last two examples “being like others” refers specifically to Jewish-Gentile relations. In the first instance a model proselyte desires to become like Israel by converting to Judaism. In the second example Israelites give thanks that they are not like Gentiles who practice empty religions. These examples hark back to our discussion of the use of ὁμοιοῦν (homoioun, “to make like”) in the story of Jacob’s daughter Dinah (Gen. 34), which in turn confirms our impression that in Matt. 6:7-8 Jesus warned his disciples against the dangers of assimilation. According to the author of 2 Kings, assimilation was the reason the northern tribes were sent into exile:

וַיִּמְאֲסוּ אֶת חֻקָּיו וְאֶת בְּרִיתוֹ אֲשֶׁר כָּרַת אֶת אֲבוֹתָם וְאֵת עֵדְוֹתָיו אֲשֶׁר הֵעִיד בָּם וַיֵּלְכוּ אַחֲרֵי הַהֶבֶל וַיֶּהְבָּלוּ וְאַחֲרֵי הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר סְבִיבֹתָם אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יי אֹתָם לְבִלְתִּי עֲשׂוֹת כָּהֶם

And they rejected his statutes and his covenant, which he made with their fathers, and his testimonies, which testified against them, and they walked after false vanities and after the Gentiles who were around them, whom the LORD commanded them not to behave like them [כָּהֶם]. (2 Kgs. 17:15)

The prophet Ezekiel, on the other hand, worried that exile would increase the likelihood that Israel would disappear into the cultures of the peoples among whom they lived. Accordingly, he warned:

וְהָעֹלָה עַל רוּחֲכֶם הָיוֹ לֹא תִהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם אֹמְרִים נִהְיֶה כַגּוֹיִם כְּמִשְׁפְּחוֹת הָאֲרָצוֹת לְשָׁרֵת עֵץ וָאָבֶן

The idea that has surfaced in your mind will certainly never be—what you are saying: “We will be like the Gentiles and like the families of the earth by worshipping wood and stone.” (Ezek. 20:32)

This Ezekiel passage can be compared to the following warning in the Temple Scroll:

ולוא תעשו כאשר הגויים עושים

And you must not do as the Gentiles are doing…. (11QTa [11Q19] XLVIII, 11)

Partial or complete assimilation of Jews to the dominant Greco-Roman culture was a reality in the first century C.E.[45] Perhaps the most famous example of Jewish assimilation in the ancient world is that of Tiberias Julius Alexander, the nephew of the first-century Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria. Tiberias Alexander not only renounced his ancestral religion (Jos., Ant. 20:100), but as a general in the Roman army he directed the siege of Jerusalem under Titus that ended with the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. (Jos., J.W. 5:45-46; 6:237).[46]

L8 οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν (GR). Codex Vaticanus and a few other ancient witnesses add ὁ θεός (hō theos, “the God”) before ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν (ho patēr hūmōn, “the father of you”).[47] That ὁ θεός should be omitted is supported from the textual evidence and also from the parallel in Matt. 6:32 // Luke 12:30.[48]

כִּי יוֹדֵעַ אֲבִיכֶם (HR). In LXX εἰδεῖν (eidein, “to know”) is usually the translation of יָדַע (yāda‘, “know”).[49] Likewise, we find that εἰδεῖν + γάρ is almost always the translation of יָדַע + כִּי.‎[50] Although other reconstructions are possible (e.g., הֲרֵי יוֹדֵעַ אֲבִיכֶם [“Behold, your father knows”]), we have allowed the LXX examples to guide our reconstruction.

Detail of the third-century C.E. mosaic from the Dionysus house in Tzippori (Sepphoris). Photographed by Joshua N. Tilton.

Notice that instead of criticizing the gods of the Gentiles as impotent or unreal, or characterizing them as demons, Jesus directs the disciples’ attention to the character of Israel’s God. The God of Israel is a father to his people, and as such he intimately knows both them and their needs. There was a tendency, especially in Diaspora Judaism, to avoid direct criticism of the Gentiles’ gods.[51] Whereas pagan practices were polemicized against, it was considered too incendiary to impugn the gods themselves. Perhaps Jesus’ redirection of the disciples’ attention to the character of their heavenly father was an expression of this sensitivity.

L9 אֵי זֶה צוֹרֶךְ יֵשׁ לָכֶם (HR). On the use of אֵי זֶה (’ē zeh, “which”) as a demonstrative, see Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L80. As Segal noted, “In the older texts…the…components [אֵי and זֶה—DNB and JNT] are still kept separate.”[52]

Compare our reconstruction of χρείαν ἔχετε (chreian echete, “need you have”) as צוֹרֶךְ יֵשׁ לָכֶם (tzōrech yēsh lāchem, “need there is to you”) to our reconstruction of the statement οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ὑγιαίνοντες ἰατροῦ (“not a need the healthy have of a doctor”) as אֵין צוֹרֶךְ לַבְּרִיאִים בְּרוֹפֵא (“there is no need to the healthy for a doctor”) in Call of Levi, L59-60.

L10 לִפְנֵי שֶׁאַתֶּם שׁוֹאֲלִים מִמֶּנּוּ (HR). In LXX πρὸ τοῦ + infinitive usually translates the construction טֶרֶם + finite verb (often with the preposition -בְּ prefixed to טֶרֶם).[53] However, the adverb טֶרֶם (ṭerem, “before,” “not yet”) disappeared in MH and was replaced with constructions such as -לִפְנֵי שֶׁ (lifnē she-, “before that”) or -קוֹדֶם שֶׁ (qōdem she-, “before that”).[54] Since we prefer to use a Mishnaic style of Hebrew to reconstruct direct speech, we have adopted the -לִפְנֵי שֶׁ construction for HR.

A first-century C.E. fresco from Pompeii depicting a Gentile sacrifice. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On reconstructing αἰτεῖν (aitein, “to ask”) as שָׁאַל (shā’al, “ask”), see Friend in Need, Comment to L22. In HR we have supplied the preposition מִמֶּנּוּ (mimenū, “from him”), even though Matt. 6:8 lacks a preposition such as παρά (para, “from”) before the personal pronoun, because שָׁאַל אֵת typically means “inquire,” whereas שָׁאַל מִן means “request.”[55] In rare instances LXX omits a preposition where MT has שָׁאַל מִן,‎[56] and we suspect this may have happened when Praying Like Gentiles was translated from Hebrew to Greek. Compare our reconstruction of αἰτεῖν + personal pronoun with שָׁאַל מִן in Fathers Give Good Gifts, L20.

The notion that God knows a person’s prayer before it is spoken is also found in rabbinic sources, for instance:

אמר רבי אלעזר בן פדת בשר ודם אם שומע דברי אדם עושה דינו, אם לא שמע אינו יכול לכוין דינו, אבל הקב″ה אינו כן עד שלא ידבר אדם הוא יודע מה בלבו…עד שלא יצרה מחשבה שבלבו של אדם הוא מבין

Rabbi Eleazar ben Pedat said, “If a creature of flesh and blood hears a person’s speech he does as the speaker intended, but if he did not hear he is not able to understand his intention, but with the Holy one, blessed be he, it is not so. Before a person speaks he knows what is in his heart…before a thought is formed in a person’s heart he understands.” (Exod. Rab. 21:3)

Redaction Analysis

The author of Matthew faithfully copied the Praying Like Gentiles pericope from Anth. without making any discernible changes to its wording.[57] While the Anthologizer (the creator of Anth.) was probably responsible for divorcing Praying Like Gentiles from its original context,[58] it was the author of Matthew who inserted this pericope into its current position in the Sermon on the Mount.[59]

Results of This Research

1. In light of the Praying Like Gentiles pericope, how should we characterize Jesus’ view of non-Jews? From Praying Like Gentiles we learn that Jesus did not have a high opinion of non-Jewish religious practices. As far as he was concerned, their worship was misdirected because they were unenlightened by God’s revelation in the Torah. Consequently, Gentiles did not know to whom they prayed or how their prayers ought to be formulated. Had they been enlightened by the Torah, the Gentiles would have understood that their ancestral deities are not true gods, and that the one true God is the LORD God of Israel, who is the father of all humankind. Knowing him as father, the Gentiles would have understood that prayers do not need to cajole or persuade or coerce God. Because God relates to human beings as a father to his children, Jesus’ followers could (and can) pray with assurance that God hears and knows how to provide for their needs.

Despite his dim view of non-Jewish religious practices, it is clear from his limited interactions with non-Jews that Jesus did not regard Gentiles as irredeemable.[60] If Gentiles renounced their idols and false gods and turned in hope to the God of Israel, then they too could be saved from the power of Satan and participate in the blessings of the renewal of creation through the Kingdom of Heaven.

2. How should Jesus’ view of non-Jewish religious practices inform our view of Judaism? This is a question that is rarely asked of the Praying Like Gentiles pericope. As we have seen, there has been a tendency among Christian interpreters to turn Jesus’ critique of Gentile religious practices into an attack against Jewish prayer in particular and against Judaism in general. A sensitive reading of Matt. 6:7-8 reveals that Jesus affirmed Jewish modes of prayer by urging his disciples not to adopt Gentile prayer habits. The clear implication was that Jesus wanted his disciples to remain true to their Jewish heritage and to pray on the basis of the covenant relationship God had established with Israel through the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Conclusion

In Praying Like Gentiles Jesus emphasized God’s unique relationship to Israel in order to reassure his disciples that God knew their needs and would faithfully provide for them. These themes are picked up and elaborated upon in the pericopae that follow in the conjectured “How to Pray” complex.

 


 

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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] See Allen, 57; Bundy, 111; Knox, 2:25-26; Beare, 61; Nolland, Matt., 283.
  • [4] Catchpole presented one of the clearest arguments that Matt. 6:7-8 is an independent unit in David R. Catchpole, “Q and ‘The Friend at Midnight’ (Luke XI.5-8/9),” Journal of Theological Studies 34.2 (1983): 407-424, esp. 422.
  • [5] Note that “seeking” is a metaphor for prayer in the Friend in Need simile (L24, L27; Matt. 7:7-8 // Luke 11:9-10).
  • [6] Cf. Catchpole, “Q and ‘The Friend at Midnight’ (Luke XI.5-8/9),” 422-423; Luz, 1:305.
  • [7] On the mainly non-Jewish constituency of the Matthean community, which nevertheless regarded itself as the “true Israel” and the only faithful adherents to the Torah (as interpreted by the Matthean community), see David Flusser, “Matthew’s ‘Verus Israel’” (Flusser, JOC, 561-574). Matthew’s vision of the Church is contrary to Paul’s, according to which Jewish and Gentile believers should co-exist within the same community while maintaining their differences and respecting one another’s differing ways of life. On Paul’s vision for the Church, see Peter J. Tomson, “Paul’s Jewish Background in View of His Law Teaching in 1Cor 7,” in Paul and the Mosaic Law (ed. James D. G. Dunn; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), 251-270; Paula Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations: The Ritual Demands of Paul’s Gospel,” New Testament Studies 56 (2010): 232-252; idem, “Why Should a ‘Law-Free’ Mission Mean a ‘Law-Free’ Apostle?Journal of Biblical Literature 134.3 (2015): 637-650.

    Matthew’s anti-Pauline vision has been recognized by David C. Sim, “Matthew’s anti-Paulinism: A neglected feature of Matthean studies,” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 58.2 (2002): 767-783; idem, “Matthew 7.21-23: Further Evidence of its Anti-Pauline Perspective,” New Testament Studies 53.3 (2007): 325-343; idem, “Matthew, Paul and the origin and nature of the gentile mission: The great commission in Matthew 28:16-20 as an anti-Pauline tradition,” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 64.1 (2008): 377-392.

    The Didache, a source that likely emerged from the greater Matthean community, also encouraged Gentile believers to strive toward perfect observance of the Torah (Did. 6:2-3). See David Flusser, “Paul’s Jewish Christian Opponents in the Didache,” in Gilgul: Essays on Transformation, Revolution and Permanence in the History of Religions (ed. Shaul Shaked, David Schulman, and Guy G. Stroumsa; Leiden: Brill, 1987), 71-90. On the close connections between the Didache and the Gospel of Matthew, see Huub van de Sandt, “The Didache and its Relevance for Understanding the Gospel of Matthew.”

  • [8] See Davies-Allison, 1:587.
  • [9] Text according to Antonius Westermann, ed., Vita Aesopi (London: Williams and Norgate, 1845). Translation according to Betz, 364 n. 269.
  • [10] Translation according to Montefiore, TSG, 2:99.
  • [11] See Allen, 57; McNeile, 76; Montefiore, TSG, 2:99; Frederick Bussby, “A Note on ῥακά (Matthew V.22) and βατταλογέω (Matthew VI.7) in the Light of Qumran,” Expository Times 76.1 (1964): 26; Davies-Allison, 1:587.
  • [12] See Betz, 364-365; Nolland, Matt., 284 n. 306.
  • [13] See John Ernest Leonard Oulton and Henry Chadwick, eds. and trans., Alexandrian Christianity: Selected Translations of Clement and Origen (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1954), 181.
  • [14] Text according to Paul Koetschau et al., eds., Origenes Werke (12 vols.; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1899-1941). Translation according to Oulton and Chadwick, Alexandrian Christianity, 279. On the possible influence of rabbinic thought and practice on Origen’s treatise on prayer, see Marc Hirshman, “A Protocol for Prayer: Origen, the Rabbis and their Greco-Roman Milieu,” in Essays on Hebrew Literature in Honor of Avraham Holtz (ed. Z. Ben-Yosef Ginor; New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 2003), 3-14.
  • [15] Translation according to Oulton and Chadwick, Alexandrian Christianity, 298.
  • [16] See Gerhard Delling, “βατταλογέω,” TDNT, 1:597.
  • [17] Luz, 1:305 n. 3.
  • [18] On the laws of inheritance pertaining to women in ancient Judaism, see Tal Ilan, Jewish Women in Greco-Roman Palestine (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1996), 167-170.
  • [19] On the dispute between the Pharisees and the Sadducees over the correct dating of Pentecost (Shavuot), see Shmuel Safrai, “Counting the Omer: On What Day of the Week Did Jesus Celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost)?
  • [20] Karl Preisendanz et al., eds., Papyri Graecae Magicae. Die Griechischen Zauberpapyri (2 vols.; Stuttgart: Teubner, 1973-1974).
  • [21] Since it is improbable that Jesus attended rites at Gentile temples or studied with Gentile priests or philosophers, it is likely that his knowledge of Gentile prayers and Gentile religion generally was at best secondhand. Jesus did not have an insider’s view, nor even a sympathetic outsider’s view, of non-Jewish religious practices, and therefore his characterization of Gentile prayers must be taken with a grain of salt. On Gentile religious practices as they were observed in the land of Israel during the time of Jesus, see David Flusser, “Paganism in Palestine” (Safrai-Stern, 2:1065-1100).

    Pliny the Elder (first cent. C.E.) offered the following description of Roman prayer:

    …[O]ur chief magistrates have adopted fixed formulas for their prayers; that to prevent a word’s being omitted or out of place a reader dictates beforehand the prayer from a script; that another attendant is appointed as a guard to keep watch, and yet another is put in charge to maintain a strict silence; that a piper plays so that nothing but the prayer is heard. (Nat. Hist. 28:3 §11; Loeb)

    Fixed formulas for the Amidah, the central prayer in Jewish daily life, were established under the leadership of Rabban Gamliel II in the late first century C.E. See Shmuel Safrai, “Gathering in the Synagogues on Festivals, Sabbaths and Weekdays,” British Archaeological Reports (International Series) 449 (1989): 7-15, esp. 11; Peter J. Tomson, “The Halakhic Evidence of Didache 8 and Matthew 6 and the Didache Community’s Relationship to Judaism,” in Matthew and the Didache: Two Documents from the Same Jewish-Christian Milieu? (ed. Huub van de Sandt; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 131-141, esp. 137-139; idem, “The Lord’s Prayer (Didache 8) at the Faultline of Judaism and Christianity,” in The Didache: A Missing Piece of the Puzzle in Early Christianity (ed. Jonathan Draper; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2015), 165-187, esp. 175-183.

    On non-Jewish writers who exhorted their fellow Gentiles to maintain decorum in their prayers, see Betz, 365-367. For introductions to Greek and Roman prayer, see H. S. Versnel, “Religious Mentality in Ancient Prayer,” in Faith Hope and Worship: Aspects of Religious Mentality in the Ancient World (ed. H. S. Versnel; Leiden: Brill, 1981), 1-64; Larry J. Alderink and Luther H. Martin, “Prayer in Greco-Roman Religions,” in Prayer From Alexander to Constantine: A Critical Anthology (ed. Mark Kiley et al.; London: Routledge, 1997), 123-127. This volume contains a useful collection of translated Jewish, Greek, Roman and Christian prayers from the ancient world.

  • [22] See Catchpole, “Q and ‘The Friend at Midnight’ (Luke XI.5-8/9),” 422; Nolland, Matt., 279; Tomson, “The Halakhic Evidence of Didache 8 and Matthew 6 and the Didache Community’s Relationship to Judaism,” 137.
  • [23] Pace Black (133-134), who objected that there was “scarcely need for Jews to be exhorted not to pray as Gentiles,” and therefore concluded that ἐθνικοί (“Gentiles”) in Matt. 6:7 is a Jewish-Christian emendation of the original text. We do not find Black’s arguments to be convincing. In the first place, holding up Gentile behavior as a negative model for Jews to avoid is hardly unusual in ancient Jewish sources (cf., e.g., Lev. 18:24-27; Deut. 18:9; Jub. 22:16-18; Matt. 6:32 // Luke 12:30). In the second place, if Jews did not need to be exhorted not to pray like Gentiles, then it would seem equally unnecessary for Jewish-Christians to exhort their coreligionists not to pray like Gentiles. For further objections to Black’s opinion, see Davies-Allison, 1:589 n. 23.
  • [24] See Davies-Allison, 1:589; Hagner, 1:144; France, Matt., 240.
  • [25] On the use of Matt. 6:7-8 by Christians in anti-Jewish polemics, see Abrahams, 2:102; Montefiore, RLGT, 119; Luz, 1:306. Even after the Holocaust, some scholars have not been able to resist bringing up Jewish modes of prayer in their discussions of Matt. 6:7-8. Cf. Jeremias (Theology, 192), who wrote: “Jesus censures the scribes οἱ…προφάσει μακρὰ προσευχόμενοι ([“who…make long pretentious prayers”—DNB and JNT] Mark 12.40): he reprimands them [sic] for βατταλογεῖν (Matt. 6.7).”
  • [26] On the Institut zur Erforschung und Beseitigung des jüdischen Einflusses auf das deutsche kirchliche Leben, see Susannah Heschel, “Nazifying Christian Theology: Walter Grundmann and the Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Church Life,” Church History 63.4 (1994): 587-605.
  • [27] See Heschel, “Nazifying Christian Theology,” 595.
  • [28] See LSJ, 480; Karl Ludwig Schmidt, “ἔθνος in the NT,” TDNT, 2:369-371, esp. 370.
  • [29] See LSJ, 480; Schmidt, “ἐθνικός,” TDNT, 2:372.
  • [30] Runia notes that “The term ‘Gentile’ came into the English language via the Latin word gentes, commonly used in the Vulgate [i.e., the Latin translation of the Bible—DNB and JNT], and was greatly popularized in the King James Version, where in the New Testament it is even used to translate ‘Greeks’ (e.g., Rom. 3.9). It [i.e., ‘Gentile’—DNB and JNT] is primarily used to render the term goyim in the Hebrew Bible, which is translated τὰ ἔθνη in the Septuagint.” See David T. Runia, “Philo and the Gentiles,” in Attitudes to Gentiles in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (ed. David C. Sim and James S. McLauren; London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 28-45, esp. 30.
  • [31] For a discussion of the different nuances of the terms “gentile” and “pagan,” see Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations: The Ritual Demands of Paul’s Gospel,” 242 n. 23; idem, “Why Should a ‘Law-Free’ Mission Mean a ‘Law-Free’ Apostle?” 639.
  • [32] In LXX (Gen.-Deut.) ὥσπερ is the translation of -כְּ in Gen. 38:11; Exod. 12:48; 21:7; 24:10; Lev. 4:26; 6:10 (2xx); 7:7; 14:35; 27:21; Num. 17:5; Deut. 2:10, 11, 21; 3:20; 5:14; 6:24; 7:26; 10:1; 11:10; 18:7, 18; 20:8; 29:22; 33:26. Tied in second place for the most common term translated by ὥσπερ in LXX (Gen.-Deut.) are כַּאֲשֶׁר (ka’asher, “just as,” “while”; Deut. 2:22; 3:2, 6) and הִנֵּה (hinēh, “look,” “behold”; Gen. 37:9; 41:18, 22).
  • [33] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:368-373. On the equivalence of ἔθνος with גּוֹי in LXX, see Georg Bertram, “ἔθνος, ἐθνικός,” TDNT, 2:364-369. N.B.: Georg Bertram was director of the Institut zur Erforschung und Beseitigung des jüdischen Einflusses auf das deutsche kirchliche Leben from 1943 until its dissolution in May 1945. As early as December 1933 Bertram had joined the Nationalsozialistische Lehrerbund (National Socialist Teachers League). See Heschel, “Nazifying Christian Theology,” 595 n. 39. Bertram’s writings should be used with caution, since his interpretation of the facts may be colored by his anti-Semitic worldview.
  • [34] See Dos Santos, 35.
  • [35] There is no Hebrew term behind δοκεῖν in Job 1:21; 15:21; 20:7, 22; Prov. 2:10; 14:12; 16:25; 17:28; 26:12.
  • [36] See Dos Santos, 71.
  • [37] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:408-410.
  • [38] The sentence marked in red was banned from Jewish prayer books by Christian censors in Europe. On the history of censorship of this prayer, see Ruth Langer, “The Censorship of Aleinu in Ashkenaz and its Aftermath,” in The Experience of Jewish Liturgy: Studies Dedicated to Menahem Schmelzer (ed. Debra Reed Blank; Leiden: Brill, 2011), 147-166.
  • [39] The Aleinu prayer is not cited or alluded to in tannaic or amoraic sources, and the earliest documents containing the text of Aleinu date to the tenth century C.E. See Jeffrey Hoffman, “The Image of The Other in Jewish Interpretations of Alenu,” Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 10.1 (2015): 1-41, esp. 4. Nevertheless, since liturgy is a peripheral topic in rabbinic sources, it is possible that Aleinu originated at a much earlier date than that of its earliest witnesses. Moreover, according to Langer (“The Censorship of Aleinu in Ashkenaz and its Aftermath,” 148), “In literary style, it [i.e., the Aleinu prayer—DNB and JNT] is consistent with the earliest forms of rabbinic-era liturgical poetry from the land of Israel.” According to Weinfeld, “Most scholars today consider it [i.e., the Aleinu prayer—DNB and JNT] an ancient prayer, from the second temple period.” See Moshe Weinfeld, “The Day of the LORD: Aspirations for the Kingdom of God in the Bible and Jewish Liturgy,” in his Normative and Sectarian Judaism of the Second Temple Period (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 68-89, esp. 75.
  • [40] On the Jewish eschatological hope that the Gentiles would turn to the God of Israel when the LORD redeemed his people, see Paula Fredriksen, “Judaism, the Circumcision of Gentiles, and Apocalyptic Hope: Another Look at Galatians 1 and 2,” Journal of Theological Studies 42.2 (1991): 532-564.
  • [41] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:993.
  • [42] The midrash from which this passage is taken demonstrates a correspondence between the Ten Commandments and the ten pronouncements by which the world was created according to the account in Genesis.
  • [43] Examples of the form כָּהֵם are found in 2 Sam. 24:3 (2xx); 2 Kgs. 17:15; Eccl. 9:12; 1 Chr. 21:3; 2 Chr. 9:11.
  • [44] We have found only three places in tannaic sources where the form כְּמוֹתָם occurs:

    משל למה הדבר דומה למלך בשר ודם שנכנס למדינה ועליו צפירה מקיפתו וגבוריו מימינו ומשמאלו וחיילות מלפניו ומלאחריו והיו הכל שואלין איזה הוא המלך מפני שהוא בשר ודם כמותם אבל כשנגלה הקב″ה על הים לא נצרך אחד מהם לשאול איזהו המלך אלא כיון שראוהו הכירוהו ופתחו כלן ואמרו זה אלי ואנוהו

    A parable: to what may the matter be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who enters a province and a circle of guards surround him, and his mighty men are to his right and his left, and soldiers are ahead of him and behind him, and everyone asks, “Which one is the king?” because he is flesh and blood like them [כמותם]. But when the Holy one, blessed be he, revealed himself at the Red Sea not one of them needed to ask, “Which one is the king?” Rather, as soon as they saw him they recognized him and everyone opened [their mouths] and said, This is my God and I will glorify him [Exod. 15:2]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shirata chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:184-185])

    מה ענבים בנזיר עשה מה שיוצא מהם כמותם אף בהמה נעשה את שיוצא מהם כמותם

    Now grapes are forbidden to a Nazirite, and Scripture regards what comes out of them [i.e., the juice—DNB and JNT] to be like them [כמותם] [i.e., also forbidden to a Nazirite—DNB and JNT]. So also, in the case of an animal forbidden for consumption, should not what comes out of them [i.e., milk—DNB and JNT] be regarded like them [כמותם] [i.e., also forbidden—DNB and JNT]? (Sifra, Shmini chpt. 4 [ed. Weiss, 48d])

    או כמעשה ארץ מצרים וכמעשה ארץ כנען לא תעשו יכול לא יבנו בניינות ולא יטעו נטיעות כמותם תלמוד לומר ובחוקותיהם לא תלכו

    Or according to the deeds of the land of Egypt…and according to the deeds of the land of Canaan…you must not act [Lev. 18:3]. It is possible that this could be understood as “Do not build buildings or plant vegetation like them [כמותם],” therefore Scripture says, and in their statutes do not walk [Lev. 18:3]. (Sifra, Aḥare Mot parasha 9 [ed. Weiss, 85d])

  • [45] The apostle Paul (1 Cor. 7:18) mentioned the practice of Jews removing the marks of their circumcision in order to assimilate 1 Cor. 7:18. See Tomson, 180-181. On assimilation and other Jewish responses to imperialism, see Joshua N. Tilton, “A Mile on the Road of Peace,” on WholeStones.org.
  • [46] On Tiberias Julius Alexander, see Daniel R. Schwartz, “Philo, His Family, and his Times,” in The Cambridge Companion to Philo (ed. Adam Kamesar; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 9-31.
  • [47] See Metzger, 15.
  • [48] See Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, Comment to L53.
  • [49] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:374-375.
  • [50] See Gen. 3:5 (ᾔδει γὰρ ὁ θεὸς = כִּי יֹדֵעַ אֱלֹהִים); 18:19 (ᾔδειν γὰρ = כִּי יְדַעְתִּיו); Exod. 3:7 (οἶδα γὰρ τὴν ὀδύνην αὐτῶν = כִּי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת מַכְאֹבָיו); Deut. 31:29 (οἶδα γὰρ = כִּי יָדַעְתִּי); Ruth 3:11 (οἶδεν γὰρ πᾶσα φυλὴ λαοῦ μου = כִּי יוֹדֵעַ כָּל־שַׁעַר עַמִּי); Job 23:10 (οἶδεν γὰρ = כִּי יָדַע); 30:23 (οἶδα γὰρ = כִּי יָדַעְתִּי).
  • [51] In LXX the command “You must not curse God” (Exod. 22:27) was translated as “You must not disrespect the gods [of the Gentiles].” Such an interpretation had the dual function of tamping down the zealous impulses of the more volatile members of the Jewish community and demonstrating to non-Jews that Judaism was not an intolerant religion (cf. Philo, QE 2:5). See Pieter W. van der Horst, “‘Thou Shalt not Revile the Gods’: The LXX Translation of Ex. 22:28 (27), Its Background and Influence,” Studia Philonica Annual 5 (1993): 1-8.
  • [52] Segal, 44 §80.
  • [53] In LXX πρὸ τοῦ + infinitive translates the construction טֶרֶם + finite verb in Gen. 2:5 (2xx); 19:4; 24:15, 45; 37:18; 41:50; 45:28; Exod. 12:34; Deut. 31:21; Josh. 3:1; Ruth 3:14; Ps. 57[58]:10; Prov. 30:7; Zeph. 2:2 (2xx); Isa. 42:9; Jer. 13:16; Ezek. 16:57.
  • [54] See Segal, 134 §294.
  • [55] In LXX שָׁאַל מִן (shā’al min, “ask of,” “request”) is usually translated αἰτεῖν παρά. Cf., e.g., Exod. 3:22; 11:2; 12:35; 22:13; Deut. 10:12; 18:16; Judg. 1:14; 8:24; 1 Kgdms. 1:17, 27; 8:10; 2 Kgdms. 3:13; 3 Kgdms. 2:16, 20; 2 Esd. 8:22; 23:6; Ps. 2:8; 26[27]:4; Prov. 30:7; Zech. 10:1. In eight of these examples the compound form מֵאֵת is used instead of just מִן (Exod. 11:2; Judg. 1:14; 1 Kgdms. 8:10; 2 Kgdms. 3:13; 3 Kgdms. 2:16, 20; Ps. 27:4; Prov. 30:7). In five of these examples the compound form מֵעִם is used (Exod. 22:13; Deut. 10:12; 18:16; 1 Kgdms. 1:17, 27).
  • [56] Two examples where LXX omits a preposition where MT has שָׁאַל מִן are:

    וַיְהִי בְּבוֹאָהּ וַתְּסִיתֵהוּ לִשְׁאוֹל מֵאֵת אָבִיהָ שָׂדֶה

    And at her coming, she pressed him to ask for a field from her father. (Josh. 15:18)

    καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἰσπορεύεσθαι αὐτὴν καὶ συνεβουλεύσατο αὐτῷ λέγουσα Αἰτήσομαι τὸν πατέρα μου ἀγρόν

    And it happened, when she came in, that she advised him, saying, “I will ask my father for a field.” (Josh. 15:18; NETS)

    חַיִּים שָׁאַל מִמְּךָ נָתַתָּה לּוֹ

    Life he asked of you, and 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; NETS)

  • [57] Note that Martin classified Praying Like Gentiles as a pericope which trends toward the “translation Greek” type. See Raymond A. Martin, Syntax Criticism of the Synoptic Gospels (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1987), 114. Unfortunately, Martin lumped the On Prayer pericope (Matt. 6:5-6) together with Praying Like Gentiles (Matt. 6:7-8), which may have skewed his results.
  • [58] On the role the Anthologizer played in breaking up the extended teaching discourse on prayer, see the introduction to the “How to Pray” complex.
  • [59] See above, “Story Placement.”
  • [60] See R. Steven Notley, “Can Gentiles Be Saved?

Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven

Matt. 13:11-15; Mark 4:11-12; Luke 8:10

(Huck 91; Aland 123; Crook 145)[1]

Revised: 11-January-2018

וַיֹּאמֶר לָכֶם נִתַּן לָדַעַת אֶת רָזֵי מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם וְלִשְׁאָר בִּמְשָׁלִים כִּי רָאוֹ לֹא רָאוּ וְשָׁמוֹעַ לֹא שָׁמְעוּ וְלֹא הֵבִינוּ

Then Yeshua said to his emissaries: “God has permitted you to experience the mysteries the Kingdom of Heaven had in store. But until now those mysteries were only hinted at through the symbolic language of the prophets, for ‘no eye could see, and no ear could hear, and no heart could understand’ beforehand the full scope of redemption the Kingdom of Heaven would bring.”[2]


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Reconstruction

To view the reconstructed text of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven click on the link below:

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Conjectured Stages of Transmission

The Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is a Triple Tradition pericope that affords a fascinating demonstration of Robert Lindsey’s hypothesis that the literary progression among the Synoptic Gospels goes from Luke to Mark to Matthew.[3] This literary progression can be observed in the way the statement about the inability to see or understand, which comes as the climax of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, is developed from a mere poetic parallelism in Luke, to an unmistakable scriptural allusion in Mark, to an explicit scriptural quotation in Matthew.

In Luke’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, the statement about the inability to see or understand has the form of a couplet that reads as follows:

…but for the rest it is in parables so that
seeing they may not see,
and hearing they may not understand.

Read on its own, without the parallels in Mark and Matthew to influence our opinion, it is far from obvious whether this couplet is based on any biblical verse.[4] In Mark’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, by contrast, an allusion to Isa. 6:9-10 is unmistakable:

…so that
seeing they might see but not perceive,
and hearing they might hear but not understand,
lest they repent and it be forgiven them.

Expanding scriptural quotations is characteristic of Markan redaction,[5] and in this case Mark’s expansion included the addition of the clause “lest they repent and it be forgiven them” (L38, L41-42), which is a paraphrase of the second half of Isa. 6:10. Mark’s expansion also involved changing a denial that the people will see in Luke 8:10 into an affirmation that the people will indeed see (L22), and then adding the further remark that despite seeing they will not perceive (L23). The author of Mark expanded the statement about hearing following the same pattern (L25). These expansions dispel all uncertainty regarding the author of Mark’s opinion about the scriptural background of the statement about the people’s inability to see or understand.

Our suspicion that these Markan expansions are editorial is confirmed by Matthew’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, in which the expansions that made the allusion to Isa. 6:9-10 unmistakable in Mark are lacking:

…because
seeing they do not see,
and hearing they do not hear or understand.

Had the author of Matthew not gone on to quote Isaiah explicitly,[6] we would once more be in doubt as to whether this statement was intended as an allusion to Isa. 6:9. Like the version in Luke 8:10, Matt. 13:13 drops the affirmation that the people will see (L22) and the remark that they will not perceive (L23). Matthew’s version also changes Mark’s clause “lest they repent and it be forgiven them” to “and they repent and I will heal them” (L41-42).

The author of Matthew was clearly inspired by Mark’s editorial activity, but unlike Mark he was not content with a mere allusion to Isaiah’s prophecy. His decision to add the Isaiah quotation at the end of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying afforded the author of Matthew the freedom to remove the Markan expansions and restore a more original version of the statement about the people’s inability to see, hear or understand.[7]

Lindsey’s hypothesis explains how the author of Matthew was able to restore a more original form of the concluding statement of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying by positing that, in addition to relying on the Gospel of Mark, the author of Matthew also relied on the Anthology (Anth.), the same source from which the author of Luke had copied the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven pericope.[8] By combining his two sources, Mark and Anth., the author of Matthew simultaneously produced the most highly redacted version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying while also preserving some of Anth.’s elements even more accurately than the Gospel of Luke did.

In terms of the wording of the statement about the people’s inability to see, hear or understand, Matthew’s version is more original than that of either of the other Synoptic Gospels. But in terms of development from a possible allusion to an explicit quotation of Isa. 6:9-10, we find a clear progression from Luke to Mark to Matthew in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.[9]

Story Placement

The same progression from Luke to Mark to Matthew, which we discussed in the previous section, can also be observed in the way Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven became increasingly integrated into the discussion of the Four Soils parable. In the Gospel of Luke the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying interrupts the discussion about the Four Soils parable, intruding between the disciples’ question, “What is the meaning of this parable?” (Luke 8:9), and Jesus’ answer, “This is the meaning of the parable…” (Luke 8:11). If someone were to omit Luke 8:10 while reading aloud the Four Soils parable and its interpretation, a listener who was not following along in his or her Bible might never notice that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying had been omitted.[10]

In Mark an attempt has been made to smooth the transition between the Four Soils parable and the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.[11] Unlike Luke 8:9, where the disciples ask, “What is the meaning of this parable?” in Mark 4:10 the inquirers ask Jesus “[about] the parables [plur.].”[12] In this way the author of Mark succeeded in making the justification for Jesus’ speaking “in parables” come as less of a surprise: according to Mark’s version, Jesus had not been asked about a specific parable, but about the parables in general.

In Matthew the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is even more successfully incorporated into the discussion about the Four Soils parable. The disciples no longer ask Jesus about the meaning of “this parable,” as in Luke 8:10, or about “the parables” in general, as in Mark 4:10; in Matt. 13:10 the disciples explicitly ask, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” This question is then echoed in Jesus’ reply: “Therefore, I speak to them in parables…” (Matt. 13:13). In order to make the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying a logical response to the disciples’ question, the author of Matthew completely reworked the dialogue between Jesus and his disciples.[13]

Observing the successive efforts to integrate Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven into the context of the discussion about the Four Soils parable in Mark and Matthew, in contrast to the complete lack of connection between the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying and the disciples’ question in Luke, David Flusser became convinced that originally the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying had nothing to do with the Four Soils parable.[14] Based on the placement of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying (Matt. 13:11-15), immediately followed by the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement (Matt. 13:16-17) in Matthew, Flusser suggested that Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven might originally have formed part of Jesus’ response to his apostles’ return from their healing and teaching mission.[15] In such a context, the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying could have nothing to do with Jesus’ reason for telling story parables to the crowds. Originally, the saying would have described how the mysteries that had once been hidden even from the prophets were finally being revealed at the present time.

But what evidence is there that Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and Blessedness of the Twelve were already joined in Matthew’s source? Might not the author of Matthew have been responsible for their juxtaposition? The high level of editorial activity in Matthew’s versions of both of these sayings might be taken as proof that it was the author of Matthew who placed Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven immediately before Blessedness of the Twelve.[16] Upon closer examination, however, we find that Matthew’s editorial activity does not strengthen the bond between Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and Blessedness of the Twelve, but actually weakens it. In Matthew the bond between the two passages is interrupted by the long quotation from Isaiah that the author of Matthew inserted into the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying. When Matthew’s editorial additions are stripped away, the two sayings fit together even more tightly. Thus, the way Matthew’s editorial insertion of the Isaiah quotation intervenes between the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying and the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement lends support to Flusser’s suggestion that these two sayings were already joined in Matthew’s source.

If we accept Flusser’s suggestion regarding the original placement of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, and if we follow the logic of Lindsey’s hypothesis, then it must have been the author of Luke who removed this saying from its original context in order to insert it into the discussion about the Four Soils parable. To understand why it must have been the author of Luke who made this change, and not an earlier source upon which Luke relied, we must recall that Luke’s account of the Mission of the Seventy-two (Luke 10:1-24) was based on Anth.’s version of the Mission of the Twelve.[17] It is from Luke’s account of the Mission of the Seventy-two that we learn that in Anth. the Blessedness of the Twelve pericope formed part of Jesus’ response to his apostles’ return.[18] For reasons of his own, the author of Matthew decided not to record the description of the apostles’ return or Jesus’ response to their reported success.[19] The author of Matthew did not simply discard all of the material he omitted from Anth.’s Mission of the Twelve, however. Instead, he used some of the material that appeared in Anth.’s Mission of the Twelve in other parts of his Gospel. So, for instance, Matthew placed Woes on Galilean Villages and Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn in chapter eleven,[20] and he placed Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and Blessedness of the Twelve in chapter thirteen. If Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and Blessedness of the Twelve were already linked at a pre-synoptic stage, as Flusser suggested, the only way Matthew could have known this was if he saw these two pericopae together in Anth. Since Luke 10 shows that the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement formed part of Anth.’s Mission of the Twelve, it must have been the author of Luke who uprooted the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying from its place in the Mission of the Twelve in order to insert it into the discussion about the Four Soils parable.

But what reason would the author of Luke have had to remove the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying from its original location as part of Jesus’ response to the apostles’ return? Perhaps it was simply that to the author of Luke the mention of parables struck a discordant note. Nowhere in the Mission of the Twelve does Jesus tell a story parable, nor does Jesus instruct the apostles to teach the people to whom he was sending them with the aid of parables. Parables are not mentioned anywhere in the Mission of the Twelve. For this reason Luke might have decided to place Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven into a context where it made more sense to him. If this was Luke’s motivation, then it was likely based on a misunderstanding of the meaning of “parables” in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.[21] Elsewhere in the Gospels “parables” usually refers to the story parables Jesus used to illustrate his message. In the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, however, “parables” seems originally to have been used in its secondary sense of “riddles” or “obscure language.”[22] In other words, the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying originally had nothing to do with story parables,[23] but because the author of Luke misunderstood (or reinterpreted) the meaning of “parables” in this pericope, he placed Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven into a context where the saying would make sense according to the new meaning he either intentionally or unwittingly imposed upon it. In this way Luke transformed a saying about how the mysteries of God, which had been shrouded in the obscure language of the prophets, were coming to light in the present time into a justification for why Jesus used story parables as a method for concealing his message from unbelievers.

To see an overview of the entire “Mission of the Twelve” complex, click here.

 

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

 

 

Crucial Issues

  1. What does it mean to know “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven”?
  2. Who are “the rest” to whom it was “in parables”?
  3. Did Jesus use story parables in order to conceal his message from his Jewish contemporaries?

Comment

L1-3 καὶ ἔλεγεν (Mark 4:11). The use of ἔλεγεν (elegen, “he was saying”) is not only un-Hebraic,[24] it is also typical of Markan redaction.[25] Luke and Matthew agree against Mark to write ὁ δὲ εἶπεν (ho de eipen, “And he said”), a strong indication that this was the reading of Anth.

L4 αὐτοῖς (Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11). Lindsey believed that it was the author of Matthew’s practice to weave together the wording of his two sources, Mark and Anth.[26] An example of this practice is Matthew’s inclusion of αὐτοῖς (avtois, “to them”), which Matthew accepted from Mark after rejecting Mark’s καὶ ἔλεγεν in favor of Anth.’s ὁ δὲ εἶπεν.

L5 ὑμῖν τὸ μυστήριον δέδοται (Mark 4:11). The Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark’s word order in L5-7 show that they preserve the original wording of Anth.[27] By means of his slight alterations, the author of Mark made Jesus’ statement more immediate: the addressees are not given mere knowledge of the mysteries, they are given the mystery itself.[28] Mark’s alterations also have the effect of producing a less Hebraic word order than we find in the versions of Luke and Matthew, however, and whether “mystery” is reconstructed as מִסְטֵירִין (misṭērin, “mysteries,” “secrets”) or רָזִים (rāzim, “mysteries,” “secrets”),[29] the plural form μυστήρια (mūstēria, “mysteries,” “secrets”) in Luke and Matthew is more Hebraic than Mark’s singular μυστήριον (mūstērion, “mystery,” “secret”). Since a more Hebraic text is more likely to be original, we have preferred to follow Matthew and Luke for GR and HR. In addition, Lindsey noted that the plural “mysteries” harks back to “these things” that God revealed to the simple in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, which according to our reconstruction came immediately before Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.[30] It is only now that we learn what “these things” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn refers to. “These things” are the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.

ὅτι ὑμῖν δέδοται (GR). As we stated, the Lukan-Matthean agreements in L5-7 show that both these authors were copying the wording of Anth. This raises the question whether the author of Matthew added the conjunction ὅτι (hoti, “that,” “because”) or whether the author of Luke omitted ὅτι. Elsewhere we have identified examples where ὅτι is used to introduce direct speech in Anth., and we have therefore accepted ὅτι in GR.[31] The use of ὅτι to introduce direct speech is normal in Greek, but a corresponding -שֶׁ or אֲשֶׁר is superfluous in Hebrew, and therefore ὅτι is not reflected in HR.[32]

לָכֶם נִתַּן (HR). Hebrew word order prefers the verb נִתַּן (nitan, “it was given”) before the preposition with pronominal suffix,[33] but since the order in the Greek text of the Gospels is unanimously ὑμῖν δέδοται (hūmin dedotai, “to you it has been given”), it is possible that the preposition with pronominal suffix was placed ahead of the verb even in the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text in order to indicate emphasis. Examples in which the preposition with pronominal suffix precedes נִתַּן include the following:

לָנוּ נִתְּנָה הָאָרֶץ לְמוֹרָשָׁה

…to us was given the land for a possession. (Ezek. 33:24; cf. 11:15)

לָנוּ נִתְּנוּ לְאָכְלָה

…to us they are given for food. (Ezek. 35:12)

לָהֶם לְבַדָּם נִתְּנָה הָאָרֶץ

To them alone was given the land…. (Job 15:19)

On the basis of these examples we have retained the Greek word order in HR.[34]

L6 לָדַעַת (HR). The vast majority of instances of γιγνώσκειν (gignōskein, “to know”) in LXX occur as the translation of יָדַע (yāda‘, “know”).[35] Sometimes, however, γιγνώσκειν is the translation of רָאָה (rā’āh, “see”), for instance:

אֵין שַׂר בֵּית הַסֹּהַר רֹאֶה אֶת כָּל־מְאוּמָה בְּיָדוֹ בַּאֲשֶׁר יי אִתּוֹ

The warden of the prison did not see anything that was in his [i.e., Joseph’s—DNB and JNT] hand, because the LORD was with him. (Gen. 39:23)

οὐκ ἦν ὁ ἀρχιδεσμοφύλαξ τοῦ δεσμωτηρίου γινώσκων δι᾿ αὐτὸν οὐθέν· πάντα γὰρ ἦν διὰ χειρὸς Ιωσηφ διὰ τὸ τὸν κύριον μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ εἶναι

The chief jailer of the prison had no knowledge of anything because of him, for everything was under Ioseph’s control, because the Lord was with him…. (Gen. 39:23; NETS)

כִּי יִתֵּן אִישׁ אֶל רֵעֵהוּ חֲמוֹר אוֹ שׁוֹר אוֹ שֶׂה וְכָל־בְּהֵמָה לִשְׁמֹר וּמֵת אוֹ נִשְׁבַּר אוֹ נִשְׁבָּה אֵין רֹאֶה

If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, or an ox, or a sheep, or any domesticated animal to watch, and it dies, or is injured, or taken captive, but he did not see…. (Exod. 22:9)

ἐὰν δέ τις δῷ τῷ πλησίον ὑποζύγιον ἢ μόσχον ἢ πρόβατον ἢ πᾶν κτῆνος φυλάξαι, καὶ συντριβῇ ἢ τελευτήσῃ ἢ αἰχμάλωτον γένηται, καὶ μηδεὶς γνῷ

Now if someone gives the neighbor a draft animal or sheep or calf or any animal to guard and it breaks a limb or dies or becomes captive and no one knows…. (Exod. 22:9; NETS)

עַתָּה תִרְאֶה הֲיִקְרְךָ דְבָרִי אִם לֹא

Now you will see if my word will come to pass for you or not. (Num. 11:23)

ἤδη γνώσει εἰ ἐπικαταλήμψεταί σε ὁ λόγος μου ἢ οὔ.

Now you shall know whether my word will overtake you or not. (Num. 11:23; NETS)

אֲשֶׁר רָאוּ אֵת כָּל־מַעֲשֵׂה יי הַגָּדוֹל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל

…who had seen all the great work of the LORD that he did for Israel. (Judg. 2:7)

ὅσοι ἔγνωσαν πᾶν τὸ ἔργον κυρίου τὸ μέγα, ὃ ἐποίησεν τῷ Ισραηλ

…those who had known all the Lord’s great work that he had done for Israel. (Judg. 2:7; NETS)

Since seeing is such a prominent theme in the second half of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, as well as in the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement which follows, it is tempting to consider whether “it was given to you to know” ought to be reconstructed as “it was given to you to see.”[36] On the other hand, knowledge is a prominent theme in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, and therefore לָדַעַת (lāda‘at, “to know”) in Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven would provide thematic continuity between the two passages. Moreover, mysteries and knowledge are commonly associated in ancient Jewish sources.[37] As in ancient Jewish sources, Jesus spoke to his disciples about the knowledge of mysteries that God had revealed to them.

L7 אֶת רָזֵי (HR). In MT the noun רָז (rāz, “mystery”) is confined to the Aramaic portions of Daniel,[38] but רָז had entered the Hebrew lexicon well before the time of Jesus, as we learn from DSS. The noun רָז also occurs in rabbinic sources, albeit rarely.[39] Lindsey suggested that Jesus coined the phrase “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven,” combining Qumran terminology (רָזֵי אֵל; “the mysteries of God”)[40] with Pharisaic-rabbinic vocabulary (מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם; “the Kingdom of Heaven”).[41] This suggestion fits with another phrase Jesus coined, “enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” which likewise combines Essene and Pharisaic-rabbinic jargon,[42] and with Jesus’ reuse of Essene self-designations such as “poor of spirit” (Matt. 5:3) and “the simple” (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21) to refer to his own followers.[43]

As an alternative to רָז, Bowker suggested that מִסְטֵירִין (misṭērin, “mysteries,” “secrets”; var. מִסְטוֹרִין [misṭōrin]), a rabbinic loanword from Greek,[44] might have stood behind μυστήριον (mūstērion, “mystery,” “secret”) in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.[45] Note the striking parallel in the following passage to Jesus’ announcement that the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven had been revealed to the apostles:

אמר ר′ יהודה הלוי ב″ר שלום…המשנה מסטורן שלו של הקב″ה ואין הקב″ה מגלה מסטורן שלו אלא לצדיקים שנאמר סוד ה′ ליראיו

Rabbi Yehudah ha-Levi said in the name of Rabbi Shalom, “…the Mishnah is a mystery of the Holy One, blessed be he, and the Holy One, blessed be he, does not reveal his mysteries [מסטורן] except to the righteous, as it is said, The secret of the LORD is for those who fear him [Ps. 25:14].” (Midrash Tanhuma, Vayera’ chpt. 6 [ed. Buber, 1:88]; cf. Pesikta Rabbati 5:1 [ed. Friedmann, 14b])

Against accepting מִסְטֵירִין for HR, however, is the fact that this loanword appears only in late rabbinic sources.[46] It is uncertain whether מִסְטֵירִין had entered the Hebrew language as early as the first century. Moreover, we find Lindsey’s suggestion that “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” is a hybrid of Essene and Pharisaic terminology to be both attractive and convincing.

L8-9 τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν (GR). Noting the Essene phrase רָזֵי אֵל (rāzē ’ēl, “the mysteries of God”),[47] Flusser suggested that the words τῆς βασιλείας (tēs basileias, “of the kingdom”) in the phrase “the mysteries of the Kingdom of God” were a later scribal addition to Luke’s text. Flusser found support for this idea in a few ancient witnesses that omit τῆς βασιλείας from the text of Luke 8:10.[48] The textual evidence for this suggestion, however, is weak and pertains only to Luke’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.[49] Since the author of Matthew probably corrected τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ (“the Kingdom of God”) to τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν (“the Kingdom of Heaven”) on the basis of Anth.,[50] we conclude that τῆς βασιλείας was original and that Jesus’ words should be reconstructed in Hebrew as רָזֵי מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (rāzē malchūt shāmayim, “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven”).[51]

L10-11 ἐκείνοις δὲ τοῖς ἔξωθεν (Mark 4:11). In Mark’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus contrasts those to whom the mysteries have been given with “those on the outside” for whom everything is in parables.[52] Elsewhere in NT “outsiders” is an appellation given to non-believers (cf. 1 Cor. 5:12; Col. 4:5; 1 Thess. 4:12). This parallels rabbinic usage in which חִצוֹנִים (ḥitzōnim, “outsiders”) was sometimes used of fellow Jews who adhered to halachic practices that deviated from their own (cf. m. Meg. 4:8). His use of the term “outsiders” indicates that Mark interpreted this saying in a sectarian manner, according to which the parables were for public discourse because they allowed Jesus to hide his message from the unbelieving masses, whereas the esoteric knowledge of God’s Kingdom was reserved solely for the elect.[53] The author of Luke probably understood the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying in a similar, though possibly less stark, manner. Nevertheless, Luke’s different, and probably more original, wording admits of a different understanding.

According to Luke 8:10, it is not to those who are on the outside, it is τοῖς λοιποῖς (tois loipois, “to the rest”) that it was given “in parables.” If Flusser was correct that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying belongs between Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn and Blessedness of the Twelve, the original contrast in each of these sayings may have been temporal rather than sectarian. The temporal distinction is easiest to appreciate in the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement,[54] where Jesus contrasted the visible manifestations of God’s redemption in the present time to the hiddenness of God’s redemption in the past:

Many prophets and messengers wanted to see what you are seeing, but did not see it. (Matt. 13:17; Luke 10:24)[55]

The contrast between the “wise and intelligent” and the “simple” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn can also be understood as temporal: God hid “these things” (i.e., the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven) from even the most deserving members of prior generations (such as the prophets and messengers mentioned in Blessedness of the Twelve), but now God was revealing them even to Jesus’ own simple followers.[56] Since it is preferable to suppose that the same contrast was being drawn in all three sayings (Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and Blessedness of the Twelve), namely a temporal contrast between the revelation of God’s salvation in the present time versus the hiddenness of God’s redemption in the past, we believe that “the rest” in Luke 8:10 originally referred to the previous generations of Israel who lived at a time when God’s redemption was still shrouded in the veiled words of the prophets.

In support of this interpretation, consider the following rabbinic commentary:

זה אלי ואנוהו רבי אליעזר אומר מנין אתה אומר שראתה שפחה על הים מה שלא ראו ישעיה ויחזקאל וכל שאר הנביאים שנאמר בהם וביד הנביאים אדמה וכתיב נפתחו השמים ואראה מראות אלהים

This is my God and I will glorify him [Exod. 15:2]. Rabbi Eliezer [ben Hyrcanus] says, “How does one know that at the [Red] Sea even the maidservants saw what Isaiah and Ezekiel and all the rest of the prophets [וכל שאר הנביאים] never saw? Because it is said about them [i.e., the prophets—DNB and JNT], And through the prophets I gave similitudes [Hos. 12:11]. And it is written, The heavens were opened and I saw visions of God [Ezek. 1:1; i.e., Ezekiel saw visions, he did not see God face to face—DNB and JNT].” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shirata chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:184])

According to Rabbi Eliezer,[57] since the time of Israel’s redemption from Egypt, when God openly revealed his kingdom to everyone, divine revelations had been given only in veiled language. No one, not even the prophets, had seen God’s redemption fully revealed in all that time.

If our understanding of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is correct, Jesus’ statement is in harmony with Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion that the prophets could only foresee distorted glimpses of the redemption that was to come. But whereas Rabbi Eliezer’s comment focused on the division of history into the period of Israel’s redemption from Egypt and the period that followed when the prophets prophesied, Jesus’ saying focused on a different historical divide—the one between the historical period when the prophets prophesied and the period that witnessed the inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven.[58] Their different historical emphases need not imply that Jesus would have disagreed with Rabbi Eliezer’s comment, however. To the contrary, it seems likely that Jesus would have wanted his audience to draw the parallels between the revelation of God’s redeeming power when he delivered Israel from Egypt and the miraculous healings and expulsions of demons that were taking place through the Kingdom of Heaven.[59] From Jesus’ perspective, the visible manifestations of God’s redemptive power at the time of the Exodus and in his own time were like bookends on either side of a long historical period when God’s saving power remained hidden from view.[60]

The notion that the prophets spoke in veiled language about the future redemption, and did not themselves see the coming salvation clearly, is attested in a variety of ancient Jewish sources. One of the earliest examples is found in the pesher to Habakkuk:

וידבר אל אל חבקוק לכתוב את הבאות על <על> הדור האחרון ואת גמר הקץ לוא הודעו ⟦ ⟧ ואשר אמר למען ירוץ הקורא בו פשרו על מורה הצדק אשר הודיעו אל את כול רזי דברי עבדיו הנבאים כיא עוד חזון למועד יפיח לקץ ולוא יכזב ⟦ ⟧ פשרו אשר יארוך הקץ האחרון ויתר על כול אשר דברו הנביאים כיא רזי אל להפלה

And God told Habakkuk to write what was coming upon the last generation, but the end of the age he did not make known to him. And of that which says, So that the one who reads may run with it [Hab. 2:2], its interpretation concerns the Teacher of Righteousness to whom God made known all the mysteries of the words of his servants the prophets. For the vision yet has an appointed time. It testifies to the end, it will not deceive [Hab. 2:3]: its interpretation is that the time of the end will extend and exceed all that the prophets said, for the mysteries of God [רזי אל] are wondrous. (1QpHab VII, 1-8)

According to this scroll from Qumran, the prophets did not fully understand the words of their own prophecies.[61] The mysteries of God concealed in the prophetic oracles were revealed only to the Teacher of Righteousness, who may have been the founder of the Dead Sea Sect.[62] Note the similarity between the pesher’s claim that the “mysteries of the words of the prophets” were made known to the Teacher of Righteousness and Jesus’ declaration that the “mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” were made known to his apostles.

The theme of things that are hidden from the prophets is also found in rabbinic literature. In a parallel to Rabbi Eliezer’s comment (cited above, Comment 10-11) we read:

דבר אחר לעיני כל העם מלמד שראו באותה שעה מה שלא ראה ישעיה ויחזקאל שנאמר וביד הנביאים אדמה

Another interpretation of before the eyes of all the people [Exod. 19:11]: This teaches that they saw in that hour what neither Isaiah nor Ezekiel saw, as it says, And through the prophets I gave similitudes [Hos. 12:11]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Baḥodesh chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:302])

Likewise, in a comment on the story of Jacob’s final blessing of the twelve tribal patriarchs, we find the following statement:

רבנן אמרי בא לגלות להם את הקץ ונתכסה ממנו, ר′ יהודה בשם ר′ אלעזר בר אבינא שני בני אדם נגלה להן הקץ וחזר ונתכסה מהם, ואלו הם יעקב ודניאל, דניאל, ואתה דניאל סתום הדברים וחתום, יעקב, את אשר יקרא אתכם באחרית הימים, ראובן בכורי אתה, מלמד שבא לגלות להם את הקץ ונתכסה ממנו

The Rabbis said: He [i.e., Jacob the patriarch—DNB and JNT] was about to reveal the end [the Messianic redemption] to them, but it was hidden from him. R. Judah said in the name of R. Eleazar b. Abina: To two men was the end revealed, only to be hidden again from them, and they are these: Jacob and Daniel. Daniel: But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book (Dan. XII, 4). Jacob: That which shall befall you in the end of days…Reuben, thou art my firstborn (Gen. XLIX, 3); this teaches that he was about to reveal the end to them, when it was hidden from him.[63] (Gen. Rab. 98:2 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 1251]; trans. Soncino)

The idea of the inability of the prophets to see the coming redemption is also found in the NT epistles:

The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation…. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10, 12; RSV)

None of these sources disparage the prophets. To the contrary, the prophets are held in the highest esteem. Nevertheless, there is a common perception that the prophets only caught glimpses of the coming redemption.[64]

וְלִשְׁאָר (HR). In LXX the adjective λοιπός (loipos, “remainder,” “rest”) usually translates יֶתֶר (yeter, “remainder”).[65] On occasion, however, λοιπός is the LXX translation of שְׁאָר (she’ār, “remnant,” “rest”).[66] Since in direct speech we prefer to reconstruct with MH vocabulary, and since the noun יֶתֶר does not occur in the Mishnah, we have decided to reconstruct τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς (tois de loipois, “but to the rest”) as וְלִשְׁאָר (velish’ār, “and to the rest”), a construction that is found in the following examples:

ר′ יְהוּדָה בֶן בָּבָא או′ אֵין עוֹשִׂין פַּסִּים אֶלָּא לְבוֹר הָרַבִּים בִּלְבַד וְלִשְׁאָר עוֹשִׂין חֲגוֹרָה גְבוֹהָה עֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים

Rabbi Yehudah ben Bava says, “They do not make covering boards except for a public cistern, and for the rest [וְלִשְׁאָר] they make a border ten handbreadths high.” (m. Eruv. 2:4)

רבי חנניא בן עקביה אומר כשם שמפסיקין לקריאת שמע כך מפסיקין לתפילה ולתפילין ולשאר מצותיה של תורה

Rabbi Hananya ben Akavyah says, “Just as they stop for the recitation of the Shema so do they stop for the [Amidah] prayer, for the tefillin and for the rest [ולשאר] of the Torah’s commandments.” (y. Bik. 3:3 [11b]; cf. y. Ber. 1:2 [8a]; y. Shab. 1:2 [7a])

L12 οὐ δέδοται (Matt. 13:11). Matthew is alone in stating that while to Jesus’ followers it is given to know the mysteries, “to those [i.e., those to whom the parables are addressed[67] —DNB and JNT] it is not given.” This is the first of a series of editorial changes the author of Matthew made to the discussion about the Four Soils parable that heightens the tension between Jesus’ followers (who, in Matthew’s Gospel, represent the members of the Matthean community) and the (obviously Jewish) unbelievers.[68] Additional changes that heighten the tension include the insertion of the saying that those who have will be given more (Matt. 13:12),[69] the long quotation from Isaiah about the intractability of “this people” (Matt. 13:14-15), and the subtle change in Blessedness of the Twelve from the original “blessed are the eyes that see what you see” to “blessed are your eyes that see” (Matt. 13:16).[70]

L13-17 Matthew is alone in adding the saying “For whoever has, it will be given to him, but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” to the discussion about the Four Soils parable. A doublet of this saying is found in Matt. 25:29. The author of Matthew probably noticed that a version of this saying appears in Mark 4:25,[71] a few verses after Mark records the Four Soils parable, and decided to insert it here on the basis of the catchword διδόναι (didonai, “to give”).[72] This insertion further casts the unbelievers who do not have knowledge of the mysteries in a negative light.[73]

L19 ἐν παραβολαῖς (GR). If Flusser’s suggestion that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying originally belonged in the context of Jesus’ response to his apostles’ return from their healing and teaching mission is correct, then “in story parables” is an unsuitable meaning for the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς (en parabolais), since, as we noted above, there is no indication that story parables played any role in the apostles’ mission.[74] “In story parables” is also unsuitable from a literary perspective, since, as Jeremias noted, the contrasting parallelism between “to you” and “to the rest” in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying requires that μυστήρια (mūstēria; L7) and παραβολαῖς (parabolais; L19) should be roughly synonymous.[75] In other words, Jesus told the apostles that the mysteries were revealed to them, but “to the rest” the mysteries were mysterious. “Story parables” is unsuitable here because “story parable” is not a synonym for “mysterious.” “Riddle,” a meaning attached to the noun παραβολή mainly in Jewish Greek, on the other hand, is roughly synonymous with “mystery,” and it is likely that “in riddles” was the original meaning of ἐν παραβολαῖς in Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus, the original intention of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying was to draw a contrast between those who were privileged to witness direct revelation versus those for whom revelation had been mediated through ambiguous oracles.

Starlight Sower by Hai Knafo. The caption reads: אור זרוע לצדיק (“Light is sown for the righteous”; Ps. 97:11). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The author of Luke, who removed the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying from its original context, inserted it into the discussion about the Four Soils parable because he erroneously interpreted ἐν παραβολαῖς not as “in riddles” but as “in story parables.” At least three reasons could account for why the author of Luke interpreted ἐν παραβολαῖς as “in story parables”: 1) Perhaps he was unfamiliar with the meaning “riddles” that the noun παραβολή had acquired in Hellenistic Judaism, or 2) perhaps Luke was unfamiliar with the pedagogical use of parables and therefore felt that Jesus’ frequent recourse to parables required some kind of explanation for his non-Jewish readers, or 3) perhaps Luke reinterpreted the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying for apologetic purposes in order to explain why so many Jews refused to embrace the Christian faith. It may well be that all three factors were at play to varying degrees. Whatever the reasons, Luke’s reinterpretation of the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς was to have a profound effect on the synoptic tradition and the significance assigned to Jesus’ parables in later Christian teaching.

The effects of Luke’s reinterpretation or misunderstanding of ἐν παραβολαῖς on the synoptic tradition can be observed in the increasing use of this phrase in Mark and Matthew. In Luke the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς occurs exclusively in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, while in Mark it occurs 4xx (Mark 3:23; 4:2, 11; 12:1) and in Matthew 6xx (Matt. 13:3, 10, 13, 34, 35; 22:1).

Mark and Matthew often have the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς in conjunction with verbs such as διδάσκειν (didaskein, “to teach”; Mark 4:2), λαλεῖν (lalein, “to speak”; Matt. 13:3, 10, 13, 34; Mark 12:1) or λέγειν (legein, “to say”; Matt. 22:1; Mark 3:23) when referring to Jesus’ use of story parables, which does not accord with Hebrew usage. In MT we encounter the phrases דִּבֵּר מָשָׁל (dibēr māshāl, “speak a proverb”; 1 Kgs. 5:12) and מָשַׁל מָשָׁל (māshal māshāl, “tell a proverb”; Ezek. 17:2; 18:2, 3; 24:3; cf. 21:5), but never מָשַׁל/דִּבֵּר בְּמָשָׁל (“speak in a proverb”). Likewise, in rabbinic literature, while the phrase מָשַׁל מָשָׁל frequently means “tell a story parable,”[76] the phrase דִּבֵּר בְּמָשָׁל (dibēr bemāshāl, “speak in a māshāl”) occurs exclusively in the sense of “speak in riddles” (see below).

We believe that the use of the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς proliferated in the Synoptic Gospels precisely because of Luke’s reinterpretation of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying as Jesus’ rationale for telling story parables. The author of Mark picked up the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς from Luke 8:10 and used it in an un-Hebraic manner in Mark 3:23; 4:2; and 12:1.[77] Subsequently the author of Matthew further expanded Mark’s use of ἐν παραβολαῖς to refer to Jesus’ use of story parables.

In a fascinating example of coming full circle, in one instance the author of Matthew used the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς in the sense of “in riddles.” This instance occurs at the conclusion of the public portion of Jesus’ parabolic discourse in Matthew 13, where the author of Matthew added a scriptural justification for Jesus’ use of story parables:

All these things Jesus spoke in parables [ἐν παραβολαῖς] to the crowds, and he spoke nothing to them without a parable. In this way the word of the prophet was fulfilled, saying, I will open my mouth in riddles [ἐν παραβολαῖς], I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world [Ps. 77(78):2]. (Matt 13:34-35)

For the author of Matthew, Jesus’ use of story parables was a fulfillment of prophecy, but the biblical verse he cited did not originally refer to story parables. In Ps. 77[78]:2 ἐν παραβολαῖς is the translation of בְּמָשָׁל (bemāshāl), which stands in parallelism with חִידוֹת (ḥidōt, “riddles”), which the LXX translators rendered as προβλήματα (problēmata, “problems,” “riddles”). But because Matthew had inherited from Luke and Mark the mistaken interpretation of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying as the justification for Jesus’ use of story parables (“so that…hearing they might not understand”), the author of Matthew had come to regard story parables themselves as riddles meant to conceal Jesus’ teachings from everyone who did not possess the esoteric knowledge needed to decipher his encoded message. This distorted understanding of the purpose of parables allowed the author of Matthew to reappropriate the original sense of ἐν παραβολαῖς as “in riddles.”

בִּמְשָׁלִים (HR). In LXX παραβολή occurs either as the translation of the noun מָשָׁל (māshāl, “proverb,” “riddle”)[78] or the verb מָשַׁל (māshal, “make a comparison”).[79] In MH the noun מָשָׁל acquired the additional meaning of “story parable,” but מָשָׁל does not occur in this sense in MT or DSS.[80]

Although in rabbinic sources the meaning “story parable” predominates, this is not the case when we encounter the phrase בְּמָשָׁל, which always means “in metaphorical or figurative language.” An example of this usage is found in the description of Rabbi Yishmael’s method of interpreting certain difficult passages of Scripture:

זה אחד מן הדברים שהיה רבי ישמעאל דורש מן התורה במשל

This is one of the statements that Rabbi Yishmael would interpret from the Torah בְּמָשָׁל [i.e., figuratively—DNB and JNT]. (Sifre Deut. §237, on Deut. 22:17 [ed. Finkelstein, 269])[81]

From the context in which the above statement appears, it is clear that Rabbi Yishmael did not utilize story parables to elucidate the meaning of these difficult passages. The meaning of בְּמָשָׁל in the above quotation is that Rabbi Yishmael interpreted these Torah passages figuratively instead of literally.

We also encounter the phrase בְּמָשָׁל in a discussion of how, in his capacity as prophet, Moses was superior to Balaam:

משה היה מדבר עמו פנים בפנים שנאמר ודבר ה′ אל משה פנים אל פנים ועם בלעם לא היה מדבר כי אם במשלים

Moses would speak with him [i.e., to God—DNB and JNT] face to face, as it is said, And the LORD spoke with Moses face to face [Exod. 33:11], but with Balaam he would not speak with him except במשלים [i.e., in evasive metaphors and figures of speech—DNB and JNT]. (Num. Rab. 14:20)

Taking their cue from the biblical examples where מָשָׁל is used in parallel with חִידָה (ḥidāh, “riddle”),[82] the sages understood וַיִּשָּׂא מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמַר (“And he took up his māshāl and said…”), a phrase that regularly introduces Balaam’s oracles in the book of Numbers,[83] to imply that Balaam’s prophecy was couched in metaphors, images, euphemisms and figures of speech, the meanings of which were difficult to unravel. To describe Balaam’s use of veiled language the rabbinic sages used the phrase דִּבֵּר בִּמְשָׁלִים (dibēr bimshālim, “he spoke in metaphors/figures of speech”).

The Jewish sages also used the biblical statement that the LORD spoke to Moses face to face as an argument for Moses’ superiority to the other prophets:

ולא בחידות למה נאמר לפי שהוא אומר בן אדם חוד חידה ומשול משל או כשם שאני מדבר עם הנביאים בחידות ובמשלים כך אני מדבר עם משה <ת″ל ולא בחידות>‏

And not in riddles [Num. 12:8]. Why is this said? Because it says, Son of man, pose a riddle and tell a parable [Ezek. 17:2]. One might assume that just as I speak in riddles and in parables [ובמשלים] with the prophets, so do I speak with Moses. Therefore Scripture adds, and not in riddles [Num. 12:8]. (Sifre Num. §103 [ed. Horovitz, 102])

Here, too, the rabbinic sages used the phrase דִּבֵּר בִּמְשָׁלִים (“speak in metaphors”) to describe the indirect revelations imparted through the prophets.[84] This usage of בִּמְשָׁלִים in ancient Jewish sources supports our hypothesis that when Jesus claimed that “for the rest it was ἐν παραβολαῖς,” it originally had nothing to do with his purpose in telling story parables. Rather, like the contrast between Moses who experienced direct revelation and the prophets who received revelation only “in metaphors” (בִּמְשָׁלִים), Jesus contrasted the privilege his generation enjoyed of seeing the revelation of God’s saving power in their own time versus the hiddenness of God’s redemption in the days of the prophets.

The contention that Moses experienced direct revelation in contrast to the rest of the prophets is reminiscent of Rabbi Eliezer’s comment that even a maidservant on the shores of the Red Sea saw what was hidden from Ezekiel and Isaiah and the rest of the prophets (cited above, Comment to L10-11).[85] Behind both traditions is the understanding that God’s saving power had not been revealed since Israel’s redemption from Egypt. If our interpretation of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is correct, then Jesus made the startling claim that God’s redemption was once again being revealed clearly to Israel. Just as the LORD’s victory for Israel was plain on the shores of the Red Sea where Pharaoh and his horsemen and chariots were conquered, so too was God’s saving power being revealed in the present time. Through Jesus and his followers God was once again acting decisively in history to redeem Israel from bondage.

L20 τὰ πάντα γίνεται (Mark 4:11). We seriously considered whether at L12 Matthew’s version preserves a reminiscence of an original reading according to which Jesus said, “But to the rest it is given in parables,” which could be reconstructed as וְלִשְׁאָר נִתַּן בִּמְשָׁלִים‏‎,[86] but this hypothesis could not explain why the author of Luke would have omitted δέδοται (dedotai, “it has been given”) in L12 if this verb had been in his source.

We have therefore concluded that Luke’s “But to the rest in parables” reflects the original version of this saying, which the author of Luke copied from Anth. However, the absence of a verb in this sentence probably sounded as strange to Greek audiences as it does in English, and therefore the author of Mark supplied τὰ πάντα γίνεται (“everything is,” “everything becomes,”) in order to make up for this deficit.[87] The author of Matthew subsequently replaced Mark’s “everything is in parables” with “I speak to them in parables” as part of his thorough reworking of the dialogue in order to more fully assimilate the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying into the discussion about the Four Soils parable.[88]

Luke’s laconic “But to the rest in parables” can be explained as a Hebraism. The following examples describe something being given to two parties. In these examples the verb נָתַן (nātan, “give”) is stated only with regard to the first party, while it is implied with respect to the second party:

אָמַ′ לִשְׁנַיִם גָּזַלְתִּי אֶת אֶחָד מִכֶּם מָנֶה וְאֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ אֵיזֶה מִכִּם אָבִיו שֶׁלְאֶחָד מִכֵּם הִיפְקִיד אֶצְלִי מָנֶה וְאֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ אֵיזֶה הוּא נוֹתֵן לָזֶה מָנֶה וְלָזֶה מָנֶה שֶׁהוֹדָה מִפִּי עַצְמוֹ
שְׁנַיִם שֶׁהִיפְקִידוּ אֵצֶל אֶחָד זֶה מָנֶה וְזֶה מָאתַיִם [זֶה אוֹמֵ′ מָאתַיִם שֶׁלִּי] וְזֶה אוֹ′ מָאתַיִם שֶׁלִּי נוֹתן לָזֶה מָנֶה וְלָזֶה מָנֶה וְהַשְּׁאָר יְהֵי מוּנַּח עַד שֶׁיָּבֹא אֵלִיָּהוּ

If someone said to two others, “I stole a mina [i.e., a valuable coin—DNB and JNT] from one of you, but I don’t know from which one of you it was,” [or if someone said to two others,] “The father of one of you entrusted a mina with me [for your sake], but I don’t know for which one of you it was,” he gives to this one a mina and to that one a mina, because his own mouth testified against him.

If two people entrusted money with one man, this one a single mina and that one two hundred, and this one says, “The two hundred are mine,” and that one also says, “The two hundred are mine,” he gives to this one a single mina and to that one a single mina, and the rest must be laid aside until Elijah comes. (m. Bab. Metz. 3:3-4; cf. t. Yeb. 14:2; t. Bab. Metz. 3:6)

הָיוּ שְׁנֵי{הם} תַנּוּרִים סְמוּכִים זֶה לָזֶה נוֹתֵן לָזֶה טֶפַח וְלָזֶה טֶפַח וְהַשְּׁאָר טָהוֹר

…if the two ovens were close to one another, he gives to this one a handbreadth, and to that a handbreadth, and the rest [of the space between them] is pure. (m. Kel. 5:2)

לזו נתן שני לילות ולזו לילות שנים, לילו שלפרעה ולילו שלסנחריב ללאה, לילו שלגדעון לרחל ולילו שלמרדכי לרחל שנ′ בלילה ההוא נדדה שנת המלך

To this one [i.e., Leah—DNB and JNT] he [i.e., God—DNB and JNT] gave two nights, and to that one [i.e., Rachel—DNB and JNT] two nights: the night of Pharaoh and the night of Sennacherib to Leah, and the night of Gideon to Rachel and the night of Mordechai to Rachel, as it is said, In that night the king’s sleep eluded him [Esth. 6:1]. (Gen. Rab. 70:15 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:851])

On the basis of these linguistic parallels, we suppose that “it was given” was implied with respect to the second party (i.e., “the rest”) in the conjectured Hebrew original of Jesus’ saying. The absence of the second “it was given” was reflected in Anth. and copied in Luke’s version, only to be improved upon by the authors of Mark and Matthew.

Stained glass window created by Sergio de Castro. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L21 ὅτι βλέποντες (GR). The ἵνα + subjunctive construction in Luke 8:10 shows that the author of Luke believed that Jesus told his audience story parables with the intention of preventing some of them from understanding his message.[89] This unpalatable notion was picked up in Mark 4:12, and this is clearly the way the author of Matthew also understood the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying,[90] but instead of the ἵνα + subjunctive construction indicating purpose, Matt. 13:13 has ὅτι (“that,” “because”).[91] It is likely that Matthew’s ὅτι reflects the reading of Anth., first because ἵνα + subjunctive constructions are often indicative of Greek redaction, second because changing ἵνα to ὅτι runs counter to Matthew’s other redactional changes which intensify, rather than decrease, the tension between the “haves” and “have nots” in this passage (see above, Comment to L12), and third because the author of Matthew relied on Anth. in order to restore the saying about the people’s inability to see, hear or understand (see the discussion above in the “Conjectured Stages of Transmission” section) to its original form.[92]

כִּי רָאוֹ (HR). On reconstructing ὅτι (hoti, “that,” “because”) with כִּי (ki, “that,” “because”), see Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Comment to L6.

Although all three versions of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven have the participle βλέποντες (blepontes, “seeing”), we have opted to reconstruct this Greek participle with רָאוֹ (rā’ō, “seeing”), an infinitive absolute. Our reconstruction is based on the observation that Matthew’s construction in L21-22, βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν (lit., “seeing not they see”; ptc. + negative particle + finite verb), looks like an attempt to render the Hebrew construction inf. abs. + לֹא + finite verb,[93] which is used to express emphatic denials.[94] Rendering this construction in Greek presented a challenge to the LXX translators, who sometimes omitted an equivalent to the infinitive absolute,[95] while at other times they rendered the infinitive absolute as a noun.[96] On a few occasions the LXX translators put the inf. abs. + לֹא + finite verb construction into Greek as ptc. + negative particle + finite verb, for example:

הוֹרֵישׁ לֹא הוֹרִישׁוֹ

ἐξαίρων οὐκ ἐξῆρεν αὐτόν (Judg. 1:28)

נַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה

ἀθῳῶν οὐκ ἀθῳώσει (Nah. 1:3)[97]

In the example from Judges, the Hebrew construction means “he definitely did not drive him out,” but in Greek this was expressed as “removing he did not remove him.” Likewise, in the example from Nahum, the force of the Hebrew construction is “he definitely will not acquit,” but in Greek this came out as “acquitting he will not acquit.” Both of these examples are similar to βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν (“seeing they do not see”) in Matt. 13:13.

If רָאוֹ לֹא רָאוּ is what stood behind Matthew’s βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν, the original intention of Jesus’ saying was not to express a concession (i.e., “I use parables because although they have sight they do not see”) or an intention (i.e., “I use parables because they have sight, but I do not want them to see”). Rather, Jesus’ saying expressed an emphatic denial, which could be paraphrased as, “For the rest, revelations of coming redemption were only hinted at in metaphorical language, because no eye could see what God had in store for them.”

Nevertheless, it is easy to understand how the misunderstanding of βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν took place. Although we believe this phrase was an attempt to express a Hebrew emphatic denial, the authors of Luke and Matthew read Anth.’s βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν as a concession (i.e., “although seeing they do not see”). It would be natural for a Greek reader to understand βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν in this way, and indeed, we find a parallel example in the writings of Philo of Alexandria:

ὅταν γέ τοι κορεσθῶμεν ἡδονῆς, ἐκπίπτει τῶν τόνων ἡμῶν τὰ αἰσθητήρια· ἢ τοὺς οἴνῳ ἢ ἔρωτι μεθύοντας οὐ καταμανθάνεις, ὅτι ὁρῶντες οὐχ ὁρῶσι καὶ ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσι καὶ τῶν ἄλλων αἰσθήσεων ἀφῄρηνται τὰς ἀκριβεῖς ἐνεργείας;

You know how when we have surfeited ourselves with pleasure, our organs of sense relax their vigour. Or do you not observe men intoxicated with wine or love, how seeing they do not see [ὁρῶντες οὐχ ὁρῶσι] and hearing they do not hear [ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσι] and how they are deprived of the power to exercise their other senses with any precision? (Philo, Leg. 3:183; Loeb)

Luke’s misreading of the Hebraic emphatic denial construction in Anth. as a concession may have contributed to his misapprehension of the entire Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.

L22 βλέπωσιν (Mark 4:12). The Lukan-Matthean agreement against Mark to negate the verb βλέπειν (blepein, “to see”) shows that it was Mark who changed Luke’s μὴ βλέπωσιν (“they might not see”) to βλέπωσιν καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν (“they might see and not perceive”) in conformity with Isa. 6:9.[98]

οὐ βλέπουσιν (GR). As noted in Comment to L21, Luke’s ἵνα + subjunctive construction is to be regarded as editorial. We have therefore adopted Matthew’s more Hebraic οὐ βλέπουσιν (“they do not see”) for GR.

L23 καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν (Mark 4:12). Only Mark has “and may not perceive.” The author of Matthew had no need to adopt this Markan expansion, since he intended to quote Isa. 6:9-10 in its entirety.[99] This decision allowed the author of Matthew to restore the original phrasing of the conclusion to the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, which he copied from Anth.[100]

L24-25 καὶ ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσιν (GR). All three versions agree on καὶ ἀκούοντες (“and hearing”) in L24. Matthew’s ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσιν (“hearing they do not hear”) appears to reflect yet another attempt to put a Hebrew emphatic denial, this time שָׁמוֹעַ לֹא שָׁמְעוּ (“they definitely did not hear”), into Greek.[101] By omitting the repetition of ἀκούειν (akouein, “to hear”) in L25, the author of Luke obscured this Hebraic construction. This omission was part of Luke’s reworking of the conclusion of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying into a statement of purpose. Mark’s ἀκούωσι (akouōsi, “they might hear”) is an adaptation of Isa. 6:9.

וְשָׁמוֹעַ לֹא שָׁמְעוּ (HR). The vast majority of instances of ἀκούειν (akouein, “to hear”) in LXX occur as the translation of שָׁמַע (shāma‘, “hear”).[102] Likewise, most instances of שָׁמַע in MT were rendered ἀκούειν by the LXX translators.[103] Thus שָׁמַע is the clear choice for HR.

L26 οὐδὲ συνίουσιν (GR). All three versions have a form of the verb συνιέναι (sūnienai, “to understand”). Although we considered the possibility that οὐδὲ συνίουσιν (“and they do not understand”) in Matt. 13:13 might be a concession to Mark’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, we have concluded that the author of Matthew copied these words from Anth.

This conclusion stems, in part, from our observation that Matthew’s “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, and they do not understand” correlates with an ancient Jewish interpretation of Isa. 64:3 (“And from ancient times no one has heard, no one has listened, no eye has seen any God except you, who acts for the one who waits for him”; Isa. 64:4 [Eng.]), which is attested in writings dating from the first to second centuries C.E.:

Matthew 13:13 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 Biblical Antiquities 26:13[104]
But we speak God’s wisdom, hidden in mystery, which God foreordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew, for if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. They [i.e., certain precious stones—DNB and JNT] will be [hidden] there until I remember the world and visit the inhabitants of the earth. And then I will take these [i.e., the precious stones—DNB and JNT] and many others, much better ones, from those which
…because But as it is written,
seeing they do not see, What no eye has seen, the eye has not seen
and hearing they do not hear, nor ear heard, nor has the ear heard
and they do not understand. nor arisen in the heart of humankind, nor have they entered the mind of man
what God has prepared for those who love him” God has revealed to us through the Spirit. until the like will come into existence in the world.

All three sources mention a set of faculties that, due to their limitations, prevent human beings from grasping divine intentions. In all three sources those faculties are enumerated in the order of vision, audition and cognition. What is more, in all three sources this triad of limited faculties occurs in a context where God intends to reveal to human beings something that heretofore has been hidden. In Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities the revelation pertains to physical objects: precious stones that God will produce in the future, together with heavenly gems that are beyond the capacity of mere mortals to imagine. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and in Matthew, on the other hand, the revelation is intellectual in content, consisting of the knowledge of “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt.) or “the wisdom of God, hidden in mystery” (1 Cor.). Unlike the saying in Matthew, Paul and Pseudo-Philo name the sensory organs (eyes, ears, heart/mind) that are the seat of the limited faculties, thus making the allusion to Isa. 64:3 easier to detect, but we believe the same midrashic treatment of this Isaiah verse stands behind all three sources.[105] Jesus alluded to this midrashic version of Isa. 64:3 in such a terse manner that the author of Luke did not understand it.[106] Further, on account of Luke’s redactional activity (perhaps already under the influence of Isa. 6:9), the original allusion was not understood by the author of Mark either, who proceeded to rewrite Luke’s version in order to make an allusion to Isa. 6:9 unmistakable. Even the author of Matthew, who restored the original wording of Jesus’ saying on the basis of Anth., did not notice the original allusion, so impressed was he by Mark’s editorial activity.

Supposing that Jesus intended an allusion to a well-known midrashic treatment of Isa. 64:3 in the words “because they did not see or hear or understand” accords well with Flusser’s suggestion that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying originally belonged to a discourse in which Jesus contrasted Israel’s longing in the days of the prophets to see manifestations of God’s saving power with the privilege his disciples enjoyed in witnessing the inbreaking of the Kingdom of Heaven in their own time. Understood as an allusion to Isa. 64:3, “For the rest, it was given in figurative language, because they did not see or hear or understand” would not imply that the members of earlier generations were unwilling to see, or that God did not want them to see, it merely states why they could not foresee the fullness of the coming redemption: because the eye has not seen, nor has the ear heard, nor has it arisen in the heart of humankind until it will come to pass in the world. In other words, until he chose to put his rescue mission to redeem Israel, humankind and his whole creation into action, only God himself could know how glorious that redemption would be.

Supposing that Jesus alluded to a well-known midrash based on Isa. 64:3 also accounts for the order see→hear→understand, which occurs in all three versions of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, but which is quite different from “hear but do not understand, see but do not know” in Isa. 6:9.

L27-42 Despite its presence in all NT manuscripts, some scholars regard the quotation of Isa. 6:9-10 in Matt. 13:14-15 as an early scribal addition to the text of Matthew.[107] One of the reasons some scholars regard this quotation as suspect is that the author of Matthew did not introduce it with ἵνα/ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθέν (“so that the word might be fulfilled”; Matt. 1:22; 2:15, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4) or τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθέν (“then the word was fulfilled”; Matt. 2:17; 27:9), his standard formulae for quoting Scripture.[108] However, the reason why the author of Matthew failed to use either of these formulas in the present instance is quite clear, since here alone Jesus himself is speaking. All the other fulfillment quotations in Matthew are given in the voice of the Gospel’s narrator, but here the words are placed on Jesus’ own lips, and the formula was modified accordingly. Given the unanimity among the ancient NT manuscripts regarding the authenticity of this quotation in the text of Matthew, there is no need to suppose that it is an early scribal addition.[109]

L36 καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν βαρέως ἤκουσαν (Matt. 13:15). Whereas in Isa. 6:10 most LXX manuscripts read τοῖς ὠσὶν αὐτῶν βαρέως ἤκουσαν (“with their ears they hardly heard”), Matthew’s version omits αὐτῶν (avtōn, “their”) after ὠσὶν (ōsin, “ears”).[110] The quotation of Isa. 6:10 in Acts 28:27 similarly lacks αὐτῶν. Although some scholars have suggested that the agreement between Acts 28:27 and Matt. 13:15 shows that later scribes inserted the full Isaiah quotation into Matthew’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying on the basis of Acts 28:27, this suggestion is unlikely. If scribes felt it necessary to add the full quotation in Matthew’s version, why did they not feel the same compulsion in the Lukan or Markan versions of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying? Apart from the omission of αὐτῶν, Matthew’s quotation is identical to LXX.

L38 μήποτε (Mark 4:12). It was probably the addition of the μήποτε clause (“lest they repent and it is forgiven them”) in Mark’s version of the statement about the people’s inability to see or understand that inspired the author of Matthew to quote the Isaiah prophecy at length.

L42 καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς (Mark 4:12). Unlike MT, which has וְרָפָא לוֹ (“and he heals him”), or LXX, which reads καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς (“and I will heal them”), Mark’s allusion to Isa. 6:10 reads “and it might be forgiven to them.” Scholars have noted that this departure from MT and LXX agrees with the Aramaic version of Isa. 6:10 in the Targum of Isaiah, which reads וְיִשתְבֵיק לְהוֹן (“and it will be forgiven them”).[111] Some scholars believe that this agreement with the Targum is evidence that Mark’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven is the earliest and most authentic, perhaps even reflecting Jesus’ words in Aramaic. While Mark’s Isaiah allusion certainly is a valuable early witness to the ancient Jewish interpretation of Isa. 6:10 attested in the later targumic tradition, we do not believe this Markan agreement with the Targum of Isaiah should be traced back to Jesus.[112] As we have discussed above, the connection of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven to Isa. 6:10 is a secondary development that became increasingly pronounced as the pericope passed from Luke to Mark to Matthew.

Redaction Analysis

In the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying we observe a clear progression from Luke to Mark to Matthew in terms of the development of the statement about the people’s inability to see, hear or understand: from a mere poetic couplet with a possible hint at Isa. 6:9 in Luke, to an unmistakable allusion to Isa. 6:9-10 in Mark, to a full-blown quotation of Isaiah’s prophecy in Matthew. We observe the same Luke to Mark to Matthew progression in terms of the assimilation of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying to the discussion about the Four Soils parable. Nevertheless, at many points Matthew’s version suffers less from Mark’s revisions than a straight progression from Luke to Mark to Matthew would lead one to expect. This is because the author of Matthew had recourse to the same source Luke had used when recording the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.[113]

Luke’s Version

For the most part, the author of Luke copied the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying with a high degree of fidelity to Anth. We believe the only verbal changes he made to his source were the following: 1) omitting the recitative ὅτι in L5; 2) changing “Kingdom of Heaven” to “Kingdom of God” in L9; 3) changing ὅτι βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν (“because seeing they do not see”) to ἵνα βλέποντες μὴ βλέπωσιν (“so that seeing they may not see”) in L21-22; and 4) changing καὶ ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσιν οὐδὲ συνίουσιν (“and hearing they do not hear and do not understand”) into καὶ ἀκούοντες μὴ συνιῶσιν (“and [so that] hearing they may not understand”) in L24-26. The change from the indicative to the subjunctive mood was due to Luke’s erroneous belief that in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying Jesus explained his rationale for teaching the crowds with story parables; according to Luke, he did so in order that his message would be hidden from the unbelieving public. Luke’s deletion of the second ακούειν may have been motivated by a desire to hint at Isa. 6:9.[114]

Luke’s most significant contribution to the way the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying would be understood by the synoptic writers who followed him, however, was not his changes to the wording of Anth., or his false identification of an allusion to Isa. 6:9 in this passage, but his relocation of the pericope into the context of the discussion about the Four Soils parable. Henceforth the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying was to be interpreted in relation to Jesus’ use of story parables, whereas in its original context of Jesus’ response to the return of the Twelve, the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying commented on the great privilege Jesus’ followers enjoyed to be living in a generation when God’s redeeming power was being revealed in a way it had not been since Israel’s exodus from Egypt.

Mark’s Version

Throughout the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying the author of Mark made numerous adjustments to Luke’s wording. These adjustments, which include paraphrase (L1-3, L11), transposition (L5), conversion of a plural noun (“mysteries”) to a singular (“mystery”; L5), and the addition of an explanatory gloss (L20), do not substantially affect the meaning of the pericope. Mark’s most important change was to modify (L22, L25) and expand (L23, L38, L41-42) the wording of the statement about the people’s inability to perceive or understand so as to make an allusion to Isa. 6:9-10 unmistakable. Many of these changes were rejected by the author of Matthew, thereby producing the Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark in L1, L3, L6-7, L22 and L23.

Matthew’s Version

Matthew’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is by far the longest, which is mainly the result of the insertion of an additional saying in L13-17 (Matt. 13:12) and the addition of a lengthy Scripture quotation in L27-42 (Matt. 13:14-15 = Isa. 6:9-10). These additions heighten the contrast between believers and unbelievers, and betray an increasingly tense relationship between the Matthean and Jewish communities.[115] Another change that betrays this increasing polarization is the statement “but to those it has not been given” (L10-12).

The words διὰ τοῦτο (“because of this”) in L18 and αὐτοῖς λαλῶ (“to them I speak”) in L20 are also due to Matthew’s editorial activity, but in these cases the motivation was different. In Matt. 13:13 Jesus’ explanation, “Therefore I speak to them in parables…,” harks back to the disciples’ question in Matt. 13:10, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” The author of Matthew reworked both the phrasing of the disciples’ question and of Jesus’ response in order to more successfully integrate the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying into the discussion about the Four Soils parable.

Despite his considerable editorial activity, the author of Matthew relied more heavily on Anth. than on Mark for his wording. As a result, Matthew’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven has many agreements with Luke’s version against Mark’s, and at points (L5, L9, L22, L25-26) preserves Anth. even more faithfully than does Luke.

Results of this Research

1. What does it mean to know “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven”? In Jesus’ saying, the phrase “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” refers to the good things God had been keeping in store for the coming redemption of Israel. Those good things were so wonderful that no one could fully imagine them beforehand. But now, through Jesus’ words and deeds—and by extension, through the words and deeds of his apostles—the good things that God had been keeping in store for the coming redemption were being realized. Knowing the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, therefore, had to do with experiential knowledge rather than initiation into secret doctrines. Knowing the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven meant witnessing the redemption that had broken out around Jesus and was spreading outward to Israel, humankind and the whole of God’s creation.

2. Who are “the rest” to whom it was “in parables”? In the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying Jesus celebrated the great privilege that God had bestowed upon the generation in which he lived (“to you”), a privilege that had been denied to the members of former generations (“to the rest”). The great privilege that God had conferred upon the members of Jesus’ generation was the opportunity to experience the long-awaited redemption of Israel. But for “the rest,” that is, for the previous generations, the good things that God had in store were only hinted at “in parables.” In other words, the prophets had only been able to describe the coming redemption in metaphorical terms because, until it actually became a reality, no one could fully grasp the full scope of what God intended to do.

Unfortunately, instead of understanding “in parables” as a reference to the symbolic and figurative language of the prophets through which God communicated his promises to former generations, the author of Luke mistakenly supposed that “in parables” referred to Jesus’ pedagogical use of story parables. This misunderstanding prompted Luke to insert the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying into the discussion about the Four Soils parable, where the saying now seemed to express Jesus’ rationale for using story parables when addressing the crowds. Luke’s misunderstanding of “in parables” also affected the meaning of “the rest,” which now seemed to refer to those who did not understand Jesus’ message instead of the former generations who had not lived to see the redemption that was being realized in Jesus’ day. Luke’s reinterpretation and relocation of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven was subsequently inherited by the authors of Mark and Matthew. The original meaning of Jesus’ saying reemerges when it is reconstructed in Hebrew and compared with other ancient Jewish sources.

3. Did Jesus use story parables in order to conceal his message from his Jewish contemporaries? Concealment defies the purpose of story parables, which is to illustrate abstract concepts in concrete terms familiar to the audience.[116] Concealment also defies Jesus’ open attitude toward people of all walks of life. To ensure that his teachings would reach as many people as possible, Jesus appointed twelve emissaries to carry his message to towns and villages throughout the Galilee. Concealment of his message would have been a self-defeating measure; as Jesus himself pointed out (Matt. 5:15), no one lights a lamp only to hide it under a grain measure.

The author of Luke was responsible for the notion that the purpose of Jesus’ story parables was to conceal Jesus’ message and hinder understanding. His misunderstanding of the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς as a reference to Jesus’ story parables instead of the cryptic words of the prophets contributed to this error. But it is also possible that the author of Luke, who lived at a time when tensions were increasing between the Jewish and Christian communities, believed that the failure of so many Jews to embrace the Christian gospel demanded some kind of theological explanation. Under such circumstances, the idea that concealment of his message from his fellow Jews had been Jesus’ intention all along must have been appealing. For the author of Luke, who generally esteemed Jews and Judaism,[117] this explanation may have served to alleviate the tension between the Jewish and Christian communities, for inasmuch as Israel’s lack of comprehension was part of Jesus’ intention and in accordance with the divine plan, the people of Israel were excused, and the way remained open for them to receive the gospel at some future point. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, however, we witness a hardening of positions. In the Markan and Matthean versions of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, Israel was not only prevented from understanding, but God’s purpose in preventing them was that Israel might never be forgiven. Nothing can be farther from Jesus’ own understanding of his mission, which was to call all Israel to repentance so that the entire people might participate in the coming redemption.

Conclusion

In the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying Jesus celebrated the great privilege that God had bestowed upon his apostles. What had only been hinted at by the prophets and guessed at by the sages was now being revealed to them and to their entire generation. In this saying we discover that Jesus regarded the time in which he lived as a turning point in history.

When we compare the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying to other ancient Jewish sources we also discover something about Jesus’ personal character. Whereas the pesher to Habakkuk from Qumran highlighted the role of the Teacher of Righteousness as the revealer of God’s mysteries, and whereas rabbinic sources elevated the status of Moses, who saw God face to face, over the rest of the prophets, whose visions of God were mediated through figures of speech, Jesus did not draw attention to his special role as revealer of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. Although it was mainly through his activities as healer, exorcist and teacher that the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven were being revealed, Jesus focused instead on the privilege enjoyed by his apostles and their contemporaries. Thus we find in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying an example of Jesus’ profound humility.

 


 

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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] For Lindsey’s main presentations of his solution to the Synoptic Problem, see Robert. L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark”; idem, “Measuring the Disparity Between Matthew, Mark and Luke”; idem, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists.”
  • [4] The differences between Luke 8:10 and Isa. 6:9 become clear when the two verses are presented in parallel columns:

    Luke 8:10 Isaiah 6:9
    …so that
    seeing they might not see,
    and hearing they might not understand. Be ever hearing but do not understand.
    Be ever seeing but do not know.

    The differences between Isa. 6:9 and the couplet in Luke 8:10 include:

    1. The order “hear→see” in Isaiah versus the order “see→hear” in Luke.
    2. The consequence “see→do not know” in Isaiah versus “see→might not see” in Luke.
    3. Second-person verbs in Isaiah versus third-person verbs in Luke.

    According to Nolland (Luke, 1:380), “Luke’s allusion to Isa 6:9-10 is brief to the point of being almost cryptic. This slight allusion is probably original and has been expanded in Matthew and Mark (or their sources).” We would go even further and argue that the differences between Isa. 6:9 and the couplet about the inability to see or understand in Luke 8:10 are sufficient to cast doubt on whether an allusion to the Isaiah 6 passage in Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven was originally intended at all. We will return to this question below in Comment to L26.

  • [5] See Malcolm Lowe and David Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” New Testament Studies 29.1 (1983): 25-47, esp. 39, 46 n. 80; David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style,” under the subheading “Mark’s Freedom and Creativity.”
  • [6] Only in Matthew’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying do we find an explicit quotation of Isa. 6:9-10. See Brad Young and David Flusser, “Messianic Blessings in Jewish and Christian Texts” (Flusser, JOC, 280-300, esp. 293).
  • [7] Black (157) opined that “the shorter form of the words [of the seeing and hearing couplet—DNB and JNT] in Matthew and Luke may well be original.” Likewise, Nolland (Matt., 534) writes, “Probably inspired by his second source (cf. Lk. 8:10b), Matthew abbreviates Mark’s allusion here to Is. 6:9 because he intends to provide an extended quotation in vv. 14-15.”
  • [8] The signs of redaction in Luke’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven are better explained as the result of Luke’s own editorial activity, rather than due to his reliance on the First Reconstruction (FR), Luke’s second source. The minor agreements of Luke and Matthew in this pericope suggest that the same source stands behind both the Lukan and Matthean versions of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. For further reasons supporting our conclusion that the author of Luke copied Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven from Anth., see our discussion under the subheading “Story Placement.”
  • [9] Wenham argued for the opposite direction of dependence (i.e., Matt.→Mark→Luke) in this pericope, but the retreat from an explicit quotation of Isa. 6:9-10 in Matthew to an allusion in Mark to a barely perceptible hint in Luke defies probability. See David Wenham, “The Synoptic Problem Revisited: Some New Suggestions About the Composition of Mark 4:1-34,” Tyndale Bulletin 23 (1972): 3-38.
  • [10] See Bundy, 224. The disjuncture between the disciples’ question about the interpretation of the Four Soils parable and the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is most keenly felt in the way the disciples ask about the sense of a specific parable (ἡ παραβολή; “the parable [sing.]”) in Luke 8:9, but Luke 8:10 appears to offer a justification for Jesus’ use of all parables (ἐν παραβολαῖς; “in parables [plur.]”).
  • [11] Compare the awkwardly phrased ἠρώτων αὐτὸν…τὰς παραβολάς (“they asked him…the parables”) in Mark 4:10 with ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν…τὴν παραβολήν (“they asked him…the parable”) in Mark 7:17. According to Abbott, “Verbally, though ‘ask’ could be used with two accusatives in such phrases as ‘ask him the name,’ ‘ask him the meaning,’ it could hardly be used in ‘asked him the parables,’ unless it meant ‘asked him what secret meaning he implied.’” See Edwin A. Abbott, The Fourfold Gospel (5 vols.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913-1917), 4:11.
  • [12] According to Bultmann (325 n. 1), “There is a question in [Mark 4] v. 10 concerned with the telling of parables in general, and vv. 11f. constitutes the answer. But v. 13 presupposes that the question has been concerned with the parable that has just been told. So the question in the source [behind Mark—DNB and JNT] must have read very much as Lk. 89.” Likewise, according to Jeremias (Parables, 14 n. 7), “The plural τὰς παραβολάς…should be regarded as a Marcan alteration due to the insertion of vv. 11 f.” Cf. Taylor, 255; Guelich, 204-205.
  • [13] See Allen, 144; Bundy, 225; Hagner, 371. Pace Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 37.
  • [14] Other scholars who have likewise concluded that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying originally had nothing to do with the Four Soils parable include: Friedrich Hauck, “παραβολή,” TDNT, 5:744-761, esp. 757; Jeremias, Parables, 14; Edward F. Siegman, “Teaching in Parables (Mk 4,10-12; Lk 8,9-10; Mt 13,10-15),” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 23 (1961): 161-181.
  • [15] See Young and Flusser, “Messianic Blessings” (Flusser, JOC, 293-294); Notley-Safrai, 29-30. Cf. Taylor, 258.
  • [16] We have already discussed how the author of Matthew added an explicit quotation of Isa. 6:9-10 to the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying. In Blessedness of the Twelve the author of Matthew changed the wording from “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see, etc.” to “Blessed are your eyes that see, etc.” (Matt. 13:16). This subtle change in wording allowed for a drastic change of meaning, turning an originally temporal distinction between the days of the prophets and the days of the Kingdom of Heaven into a sectarian distinction between the blind Jews and the seeing disciples. See Blessedness of the Twelve, under the subheading “Redaction Analysis.”
  • [17] For a discussion of the reasons why we believe the Mission of the Seventy-two in Luke 10 is based on the Mission of the Twelve as recorded in Anth., see Sending the Twelve: Commissioning, under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission.”
  • [18] According to Davies and Allison, “The close parallel in Lk 10.23-4 means that Mt 13.16-17 belonged to Q. In Luke the lines follow the great thanksgiving (Lk 10.21-2 = Mt 11.25-7), and that probably preserves the Q sequence” (Davies-Allison, 2:394). Cf. Plummer, Luke, 283.
  • [19] In his decision not to describe the apostles’ return to Jesus or to include Jesus’ response, the author of Matthew was probably influenced by Mark’s version of the Mission of the Twelve, which gives only the barest report of the apostles’ return and omits any reaction from Jesus (Mark 6:30). The author of Mark, for his part, relied on the equally sparse description of the apostles’ return in Luke 9:10, which derived from the First Reconstruction’s (FR’s) abbreviated version of the Mission of the Twelve. See Return of the Twelve, under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission.”
  • [20] Although Woes on Galilean Villages probably was not originally a part of Jesus’ Sending of the Twelve discourse, it probably did occur in Anth.’s version of the Mission of the Twelve. The Anthologizer (the creator of Anth.) seems to have inserted Woes on Galilean Villages into Jesus’ Sending discourse for thematic reasons. See Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, under the subheading “Story Placement.”
  • [21] According to Taylor (256), “Misled by ἐν παραβολαῖς, Mark, or an earlier compiler, has interpreted the passage as concerned with parables and has introduced it ad vocem…at this point.” Cf. Siegman, “Teaching in Parables,” 176. We, of course, regard the author of Luke as “the earlier compiler” who came before Mark.
  • [22] According to Abbott, “In literary Greek ‘parable’ [i.e., παραβολή—DNB and JNT] means comparison or illustration, without any suggestion of obscurity, paradox, or riddle” (The Fourfold Gospel, 4:13). Cf. LSJ, “παραβολή,” 1305. See below, Comment to L19.
  • [23] See Taylor, 257-258; Jeremias, Parables, 14, 17-18.
  • [24] See Robert L. Lindsey, “A New Two-source Solution to the Synoptic Problem,” under thesis 7.
  • [25] See Hawkins, 12, 52; Joshua N. Tilton and David N. Bivin, “LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups,” under the entry for Mark 2:16.
  • [26] See Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “The Significance of the Minor Agreements”; idem, “A New Approach to the Synoptic Gospels,” under the subheading “Mark Secondary to Luke.”
  • [27] Hawkins (210) included the Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark 4:11 in his list of those for “which it seems almost impossible that Matthew and Luke could have accidentally concurred in making them.” Nevertheless, Streeter (313) and Davies-Allison (2:390-391) made various attempts to explain away these important agreements.
  • [28] Cf. Fitzmyer, 1:707.
  • [29] See below, Comment to L7.
  • [30] See Robert L. Lindsey, “The Major Importance of the ‘Minor’ Agreements,” under the subheading “From Non-Hebraisms to the Synoptic Problem.”
  • [31] See Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L116.
  • [32] Hagner (372) regards Matthew’s ὅτι as causal rather than as introducing direct speech. Cf. Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 37.
  • [33] Examples of נִתַּן followed by a preposition with pronominal suffix include the following:

    נִּיתַּן לוֹ מַתָּנָה

    …it was given to him as a gift. (m. Maas. Shen. 4:3; 5:5; m. Sot. 8:2; m. Bech. 9:3; m. Arach. 9:4)

    נִיתַּן לִי בֶן בִּמְדִינַת הַיָּם

    A son was given to me while overseas. (m. Yev. 15:9; cf. 15:10)

    חֲבִיבִים יִשְׂרָא′ שֶׁנִּיתַּן לָהֶם כְּלִּי שֶׁבּוֹ נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם

    Beloved is Israel because was given to them [i.e., God gave them—DNB and JNT] the vessel through which the world was created. (m. Avot 3:14)

  • [34] Note, moreover, that in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying the passive voice is simply a polite way of saying “God has given.” There are numerous passages where, in the active voice, God promises לְךָ אֶתְּנֶנָּה (“To you I will give it [i.e., the land—DNB and JNT]”; Gen. 13:15, 17; 28:13; 35:12; cf. Ps. 105:11; 1 Chr. 16:18), or where he reminds Israel לָכֶם נָתַתִּי אֶת הָאָרֶץ לָרֶשֶׁת אֹתָהּ (“To you I have given the land to possess it”; Num. 33:53). In each of these examples the preposition with pronominal suffix is in the emphatic position before the verb.
  • [35] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:267-270.
  • [36] Note, too, the following passage in DSS:

    ולא יתבונן כול בחוכ[מתכה] וב[סוד] רזיכה לא יביט כול

    Not everyone will understand [your] wis[dom] and not everyone will see the [counsel of] your mysteries. (1QHa XVIII, 2-3)

  • [37] In DSS we encounter construct phrases such as רָזֵי דַעַת (rāzē da‘at, “mysteries of knowledge”; 1QS IV, 6), רָזֵי שֶׂכֶל (rāzē sechel, “mysteries of understanding”; 1QS IV, 18; 1QHa V, 19) and רָזֵי עָרְמָה (rāzē ‘ormāh, “mysteries of cleverness”; 1QpHab VII, 14). We also find statements such as the following:

    כי הודעתני ברזי פלאכה

    For you have made known to me your wondrous mysteries. (1QHa XII, 27-28)

    אודכ[ה אדו]ני כי השכלתני באמתכה וברזי פלאכה הודעתני

    I will give thanks to you, my [Lor]d, for you have instructed me in your truth, and you have made me know your wondrous mysteries. (1QHa XV, 26-27)

    καὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν μυστήρια θεοῦ

    …and they did not know the mysteries of God…. (Wis. 2:22)

    ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ θεοῦ

    …knowledge of the mystery of God…. (Col. 2:2)

  • [38] The noun רָז occurs in Dan. 2:18, 19, 27, 28, 29, 30, 47 (2xx); 4:6.
  • [39] In tannaic sources the noun occurs only in a later addition to the Mishnah’s tractate Avot (m. Avot 6:1) and in a blessing recorded in the Tosefta:

    הרואה אכלסין אומ′ ברוך חכם הרזים לפי שאין פרצופותיהן דומין זה לזה ואין דעתן דומות זו לזו

    The one who sees a crowd of people says, “Blessed is the Knower of Mysteries [רזים], for none of their faces are alike, and none of their opinions are the same.” (t. Ber. 6:2; Vienna MS)

  • [40] On the term רָזֵי אֵל (“the mysteries of God”) in DSS, see Anthony R. Meyer, “The ‘Mysteries of God’ in the Qumran War Scroll,” in The War Scroll, Violence, War and Peace in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature: Essays in Honour of Martin G. Abegg on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday (ed. Kipp Davis, Dorothy M. Peters, Kyung S. Baek, and Peter W. Flint; Leiden: Brill, 2016.
  • [41] See Lindsey’s comments on Petuchowski’s essay on Jesus’ parables in Jakob J. Petuchowski, “The Theological Significance of the Parable in Rabbinic Literature and the New Testament,” under the subheading “Robert L. Lindsey’s Response.”
  • [42] See Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L63.
  • [43] See Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Comment to L8.
  • [44] See Jastrow, 806; Even-shoshan, 721.
  • [45] See John W. Bowker, “Mystery and Parable: Mark iv. 1–20,” Journal of Theological Studies 25.2 (1974): 300-317, esp. 312-313.
  • [46] Hirshman even questions whether מִסְטֵירִין (var. מִסְטוֹרִין) is the original reading in the above-cited midrash. See Marc Hirshman, A Rivalry of Genius: Jewish and Christian Biblical Interpretation in Late Antiquity (trans. Batya Stein; Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1996), 17-18.
  • [47] The expression רָזֵי אֵל is found, for example, in 1QS III, 23; 1QpHab VII, 8; 1QM III, 9; XVI, 11, 16. Cf. Fitzmyer, 1:708; Nolland, Luke, 1:379.
  • [48] See David Flusser, “The Parables of Jesus and the Parables of the Sages,” in Jewish Sources in Early Christianity: Studies and Essays (ed. Chana Safrai; Tel Aviv: Sifriat Poalim, 1979), 150-209, esp. 197 n. 52 (Hebrew); Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 46 n. 76; Young and Flusser, “Messianic Blessings” (Flusser, JOC, 294 n. 29). Cf. Young, Parables, 269.
  • [49] In support of the reading τὰ μυστήρια τοῦ θεοῦ (“the mysteries of God”) in Luke 8:10, Young (Parables, 269) cites “W, 579, 716, l253, l1761, as well as Lvt, (ff2), PET-C, and Eusebius.” Bovon (1:312 n. 61) suggests that “The mss. that omit τῆς βασιλείας (‘the kingdom,’ as does Eusebius) probably do so for stylistic reasons, in order to avoid a double genitive.” It is also possible that some manuscripts read “the mysteries of God” because the phrase τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ was familiar from other NT passages (cf. 1 Cor. 2:1; Col. 2:2; Rev. 10:7).
  • [50] See our discussion in David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “Which is correct: ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ or ‘Kingdom of God’?”
  • [51] Dalman (106) reconstructed “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” in Aramaic as רָזֵי מַלְכוּתָא דִשְׁמַיָּא (rāzē malchūtā’ dishmayā’). It should be noted, however, that whereas the Hebrew phrase מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם is common in rabbinic sources as early as the Mishnah, the Aramaic phrase מַלְכוּתָא דִשְׁמַיָּא does not occur in sources earlier than the completion of the Babylonian Talmud (ca. 500 C.E.).
  • [52] In the story of Jesus and his mother and brothers (Mark 3:31-35), which in Mark comes immediately before the Four Soils parable, the mother and brothers of Jesus are twice said to be “outside” (ἔξω; Mark 3:31, 32). Noting the proximity of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying to this passage, Goulder suggested that “those outside” in Mark 4:11 refers back to Jesus’ family members mentioned in Mark 3:31-35. Goulder further suggested that Jesus’ family members stand for the Jerusalem church, headed by James, the brother of Jesus, and that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying attests to the tension between the Jerusalem church and the Pauline Gentile churches for whom the Gospel of Mark was composed. See Michael D. Goulder, “Those Outside (MK. 4:10-12),” Novum Testamentum 23.4 (1991): 289-302. While his suggestions are provocative, we do not share his conclusions.
  • [53] See Notley-Safrai, 28. The use of the term “outsiders” in Mark is only one example of the author of Mark’s sectarian tendencies. The author of Mark also refers to the members of his community as “the elect” (Mark 13:20, 22, 27), which is reminiscent of the sectarian vocabulary of DSS. See David Flusser, “The Times of the Gentiles and the Redemption of Jerusalem,” under the subheading “Mark’s Sectarian Redaction.” Marcus drew parallels between the Gospel of Mark and DSS in Joel Marcus, “Mark 4:10-12 and Marcan Epistemology,” Journal of Biblical Literature 103.4 (1984): 557-574.
  • [54] See Notley-Safrai, 30.
  • [55] This quotation is based on our reconstruction of Jesus’ saying in Hebrew and therefore does not exactly conform to either Matt. 13:17 or Luke 10:24.
  • [56] See Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Comment to L7.
  • [57] Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai characterized his student Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (first century C.E.) as “a plastered cistern that loses not a drop” (m. Avot 2:8). In other words, Rabbi Eliezer was not known as an innovator, but as a collector of received traditions (cf. Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version B, chpt. 13 [ed. Schechter, 32]). It is probable, therefore, that Rabbi Eliezer’s statement about the maidservants at the Red Sea was not his own invention, but a received tradition that may date to the period of the Second Temple (noted by Marc Hirshman in his course “Introduction to Aggadic Midrash” at the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2007). Note that according to Kister, “aggadic statements in rabbinic literature should be regarded principally as traditions, and the sages to whom these utterances are attributed as tradents of ancient material. Studies that consider rabbinic literature together with writings of the Second Temple period (such as Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran, Philo, Josephus, and Gospels) validate time and again this assertion.” See Menahem Kister, “Allegorical Interpretations of Biblical Narratives in Rabbinic Literature, Philo, and Origen: Some Case Studies,” in New Approaches to the Study of Biblical Interpretation in Judaism of the Second Temple Period and in Early Christianity (ed. Gary A. Anderson, Ruth A. Clements, and David Satran; Leiden: Brill, 2013), 133-183, quotation on 142.
  • [58] On the periodization of history in the teachings of Jesus, see David Flusser, “The Stages of Redemption History According to John the Baptist and Jesus” (Flusser, Jesus, 258-275). See also Blessedness of the Twelve, Comment to L16-19; David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Temporal Aspect.”
  • [59] The expectation that the final redemption would be patterned after Israel’s redemption from Egypt is found as early as the biblical period (e.g., Jer. 23:7-8). In rabbinic literature, examples of this expectation include the comment “I am who I am [Exod. 3:14]: As I am with the past redemption, so I am with the future redemption” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version B, chpt. 38 [ed. Schechter, 100]), and Rabbi Yehoshua’s statement that “In that night [14th of Nisan] they were redeemed, and in that night [14th of Nisan] they will be redeemed in the future” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 14 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:79]; cf. b. Rosh Hash. 11a). A variation of this concept is expressed in the saying “As with the first redeemer [i.e., Moses—DNB and JNT], so with the final redeemer [i.e., the Messiah—DNB and JNT]” (cf., e.g., Num. Rab. 11:2; Ruth Rab. 5:6).
  • [60] Jesus explicitly paralleled the redemption from Egypt and the redemption that was coming about through the Kingdom of Heaven when he claimed to drive out demons by the finger of God (Luke 11:20; cf. Matt. 12:28). See R. Steven Notley, “By the Finger of God.”
  • [61] Compare the claim made in the New Testament that “no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20; NIV). In support of the NIV’s translation of 2 Peter 1:20, see Richard Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter (WBC 50; Dallas, Tex.: Thomas Nelson, 1996), 229-233.
  • [62] See David Flusser, “The Apocryphal Book of Ascensio Isaiae and the Dead Sea Sect” (Flusser, JOC, 3-20, esp. 14); idem, “‘The Secret Things Belong to the Lord’ (Deut. 29:29): Ben Sira and the Essenes” (Flusser, JSTP1, 293-298, esp. 297).
  • [63] This midrash is based on a perceived failure to meet expectations in the story of Jacob’s blessing of his sons. Jacob begins by promising to tell his sons what will happen to them in the future (Gen. 49:1), but after this dramatic build up, the first thing Jacob reveals to Reuben is “you are my firstborn son” (Gen. 49:3), a disappointingly mundane bit of common knowledge.
  • [64] The limits of prophetic vision are also attested in a rabbinic catalog of synonyms for the word “prophecy”:

    עשרה שמות נקראת נבואה משא. משל. מליצה. חידה. הטיפה. צווי. דיבור. אמירה. חזון. נבואה.‏

    By ten names was prophecy called: burden, parable [משל], metaphor, riddle, sermon, command, speech, saying, vision, prophecy. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version B, chpt. 37 [ed. Schechter, 95])

    Compare this catalog to the parallel in Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 34:7 (ed. Schechter, 102), where in place of synonyms for “prophecy” we find synonyms for “the Holy Spirit.” On the association of the Holy Spirit with prophecy, see Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Comment to L1-3.

  • [65] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:888.
  • [66] In LXX λοιπός is the translation of שְׁאָר in 1 Chr. 16:41; 2 Esd. 4:7; 21:20 (Sinaiticus); Esth. 9:16; Isa. 17:3. Note that in 1 Chr. 16:41, 2 Esd. 4:7; and Esth. 9:16 the plural of λοιπός is used to translate the singular form שְׁאָר.‎
  • [67] Recall that in Matt. 13:10 the disciples ask Jesus, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”
  • [68] On the anti-Jewish bias that can be detected in much of Matthew’s editorial activity, see David Flusser, “Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew” (Flusser, JOC, 552-560); idem, “Matthew’s ‘Verus Israel’” (Flusser, JOC, 561-574); idem, “Anti-Jewish Sentiment in the Gospel of Matthew” (Flusser, JSTP2, 351-353); and R. Steven Notley, “Anti-Jewish Tendencies in the Synoptic Gospels.”
  • [69] See Comment to L13-17.
  • [70] See Blessedness of the Twelve, Comment to L2.
  • [71] See H. Streeter, “On the Original Order of Q,” in Studies in the Synoptic Problem (ed. W. Sanday; Oxford: Clarendon, 1911), 141-164, esp. 154; Bundy, 225; Hauck, “παραβολή,” TDNT, 5:757; Davies-Allison, 2:391; Nolland, Matt., 534.
  • [72] See Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 39.
  • [73] See Kilpatrick, 87.
  • [74] See the discussion under the subheading “Story Placement.”
  • [75] See Jeremias, Parables, 16.
  • [76] The phrase מָשְׁלוּ מָשָׁל (“they told a parable”) is used to introduce a story parable in t. Hag. 2:5; t. Sot. 11:4; 15:7; t. Bab. Kam. 7:3, 4; and in numerous other instances. The phrase אֶמְשׁוֹל לְךָ מָשָׁל (“I will tell you a parable”) is used to introduce a parable in Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Baḥodesh chpt. 6 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:325); Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 6:2 (ed. Schechter, 29); 9:2 (ed. Schechter, 41); 16:3 (ed. Schechter, 64); and also in many other locations.
  • [77] According to Lindsey, the proliferation of certain Lukan phrases was a characteristic feature of Mark’s editorial style. See Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “Sources of the Markan Pick-ups”; idem, “My Search for the Synoptic Problem’s Solution (1959-1969),” under the subheading “Markan Pick-ups”; Joshua N. Tilton and David N. Bivin, “LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups.”
  • [78] See Edwin Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek (Oxford: Clarendon, 1889), 64-71; T. W. Manson, The Teaching of Jesus: Studies of its Form and Content (2d ed.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), 59. In LXX παραβολή is the translation of the noun מָשָׁל in Num. 23:7, 18; 24:3, 15, 20, 21, 23; Deut. 28:37; 1 Kgdms. 10:12; 24:14; 3 Kgdms. 5:12; 2 Chr. 7:20; Ps. 43[44]:15; 48[49]:5; 68[69]:12; 77[78]:2; Prov. 1:6; Eccl. 12:9; Mic. 2:4; Hab. 2:6; Jer. 24:9; Ezek. 12:22, 23; 17:2; 18:2, 3; 21:5; 24:3.
  • [79] In LXX παραβολή is the translation of the verb מָשַׁל in 2 Kgdms. 23:3; Ezek. 12:23; 16:44; 19:14.
  • [80] See Notley-Safrai, 3, 31.
  • [81] A parallel to this statement is found in the Jerusalem Talmud:

    תני רבי ישמעאל זה אחד משלשה מקריות שנאמרו בתורה במשל

    Rabbi Yishmael taught, “This is one of three verses that are stated in the Torah במשל [i.e., figuratively—DNB and JNT].” (y. Ket. 4:4 [26a]; cf. y. Sanh. 8:8 [43b])

  • [82] Examples in MT where מָשָׁל is used in parallel with חִידָה include Ezek. 17:2; Ps. 49:5; 78:2; Prov. 1:6.
  • [83] The formula וַיִּשָּׂא מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמַר is found in Num. 23:7, 18; 24:3, 15, 20, 21, 23.
  • [84] Early Christian writers bear indirect witness to the Jewish notion that the prophets spoke in metaphors, and perhaps even indirect witness to the use of the phrase דִּבֵּר בִּמְשָׁלִים by the rabbinic sages. As we mentioned above, “riddle” was not a common meaning of the noun παραβολή except in Hellenistic Jewish literature. Nevertheless, early Christian writers such as the author of the Epistle of Barnabas and Justin Martyr sometimes used the term παραβολή to describe the enigmatic sayings of the prophets, for example:

    τί οὖν λέγει· Εἰς τὴν γῆν τὴν ἀγαθήν, γῆν ῥέουσαν γάλα καὶ μέλι; εὐλογητὸς ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν, ἀδελφοί, ὁ σοφίαν καὶ νοῦν θέμενος ἐν ἡμῖν τῶν κρυφίων αὐτοῦ. λέγει γὰρ ὁ προφήτης παραβολὴν κυρίου·

    Why, then, does he [i.e., Moses—DNB and JNT] say, Into a good land, a land flowing with milk and honey [Exod. 33:3]? Blessed be our Lord, brothers, who has put into us the wisdom and knowledge of his secrets. For the prophet [i.e., Moses—DNB and JNT] speaks a parable [παραβολή] of the Lord. (Barn. 6:10)

    In this polemical passage the author of Barnabas asserts that Moses did speak in parables (i.e., riddles), contrary to the rabbinic assertion that direct revelation was what distinguished Moses from the other prophets. The similarity of this Barnabas passage to the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is strong, but the application is different from what appears in the Synoptic Gospels. Whereas the Synoptic Gospels made the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying into a justification for Jesus’ use of story parables, the author of Barnabas seems to have known that the original contrast was between the hiddenness of the mysteries in the days of the prophets versus the revelation of the mysteries in the present time. On the awareness of Jewish traditions by the author of Barnabas, see Tim Hegedus, “Midrash and the Letter of Barnabas,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 37.1 (2007): 20-26.

    A similar use of παραβολή for the words of the prophets is found in the writings of Justin Martyr:

    ἐν παραβολαῖς καὶ ὁμοιώσεσι πολλάκις λαλοῦν τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα

    …the Holy Spirit oftentimes announces such events by parables [ἐν παραβολαῖς] and similitudes…. (Dial. chpt. 77 [ed. Trollope, 2:11-12])

    τὸ εἰρημένον πρὸς Δαβὶδ ὑπὸ Θεοῦ ἐν μυστηρίῳ διὰ Ἠσαΐου ὡς ἔμελλε γίνεσθαι ἐξηγήθη. Εἰ μήτι τοῦτο οὐκ έπίστασθε, ὦ φίλοι…ὅτι πολλοὺς λόγους, τοὺς ἐπικεκαλυμμένως καὶ ἐν παραβολαῖς ἢ μυστηρίοις ἢ ἐν πράξαντας γενόμενοι προφῆται ἐξηγήσαντο.

    …Isaiah has explained how that which was spoken by God to David in mystery would take place. But perhaps you are not aware of this, my friends, that there were many sayings written obscurely, or parabolically [ἐν παραβολαῖς], or mysteriously, and symbolical actions, which the prophets who lived after the persons who said or did them expounded. (Dial. chpt. 68 [ed. Trollope, 1:139])

    ὅσα εἶπον καὶ ἐποίησαν οἱ προφῆται…παραβολαῖς καὶ τύποις ἀπεκάλυψαν, ὡς μὴ ῥᾳδίως τὰ πλεῖστα ὑπὸ πάντων νοηθῆναι, κρύπτοντεσ τὴν ἐν αὐτοῖς άλήθειαν

    …what the prophets said and did…they veiled by parables [παραβολαῖς] and types, so that it was not easy for all to understand most [of what they said], since they concealed the truth by these means…. (Dial. chpt. 90 [ed. Trollope, 2:44])

    Ὅτι γὰρ λίθος καὶ πέτρα ἐν παραβολαῖς ὁ Χριστὸς διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ἐκηρύσσετο, ἀποδέδεικταί μοι.

    For I have shown that Christ was proclaimed by the prophets in parables [ἐν παραβολαῖς] a Stone and a Rock. (Dial. chpt. 113 [ed. Trollope, 2:88])

    It is likely that Justin borrowed the notion that the revelations the prophets received were mediated ἐν παραβολαῖς (i.e., through metaphors) from Judaism, and that he used this notion to score points against his Jewish debate opponents. On Justin’s awareness of Jewish exegetical traditions, some of which are attested in rabbinic sources, see Marc Hirshman, “Polemic Literary Units in the Classical Midrashim and Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho,” Jewish Quarterly Review 83.3-4 (1993): 369-384; idem, A Rivalry of Genius, 31-41, 55-66.

    On the use of παραβολή in the Epistle of Barnabas and the writings of Justin Martyr, see Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek, 68-69; Abbott, The Fourfold Gospel, 4:12-13. The translation of Justin is according to The Ante-Nicene Fathers (10 vols.; ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and Allan Menzies; repr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980-1986).

  • [85] Further demonstrations of Moses’ superiority to the other prophets include the following midrashic texts:

    או חולם חלום, מכלל שנאמר למשה פה אל פה אדבר בו יכול אף הנביאים כן תלמוד לומר או חולם חלום

    Or a dreamer of dreams ([Deut.] 13:2): Since concerning Moses it is said, With him do I speak mouth to mouth (Num. 12:8), one might think that this would be the case also with all the prophets; hence the verse adds, Or a dreamer of dreams. (Sifre Deut. §83 [ed. Finkelstein, 149]; trans. Hammer)

    מה בין משה לכל הנביאים, ר′ יהודה בר′ אילעאי ורבנן. ר′ יהודה א′ כל הנביאים ראו מתוך תשע איספקלריות, הה″ד וכמראה המראה אשר ראיתי כמראה אשר ראיתי בבואי לשחת את העיר ומראות כמראה אשר ראיתי על הנהר כבר ואפל על פני (יחזקאל מג, ג). ומשה ראה מתוך איספקלריה אחת, ומראה ולא בחידות (במדבר יב, ח). ורבנן אמ′ כל הנביאים ראו מתוך איספקלריה מלוכלכת, הה″ד ודברתי על הנביאים ואנכי חזון הרביתי וגו′ (הושע יב, יא). ומשה ראה מתוך איספקלריה מצוחצחת, הה″ד ותמונת י″י יביט (במדבר יב, ח).‏

    What differentiates Moses from all the other prophets? Rabbi Yehudah ben Rabbi Ilai and the Rabbis disagree. Rabbi Yehudah said, “All the prophets saw through nine glasses. This is according to what is written, And the visualization of the vision that I saw was like the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city, and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the River Kebar, and I fell upon my face [Ezek. 43:3]. But Moses saw through a single glass [in accordance with what is written], and a vision and not in riddles [Num. 12:8].” The Rabbis said, “All the prophets through a soiled glass, in accordance with what is written, And I have spoken to the prophets and I increased visions [Hos. 12:11] etc. But Moses saw through a polished glass, in accordance with what is written, and the form of the LORD he sees [Num. 12:8].” (Lev. Rab. 1:14 [ed. Margulies, 1:30-31])

    Young pointed out the similarity of the above quotation to Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 13:12. See Brad H. Young, Paul the Jewish Theologian (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1997), 107-110. Note, too, the statement in the Babylonian Talmud:

    כל הנביאים נסתכלו באספקלריא שאינה מאירה, משה רבינו נסתכל באספקלריא המאירה

    All the prophets peered through a glass that was not clear, Moses our teacher peered through a clear glass. (b. Yeb. 49b)

  • [86] Such a reconstruction would require us to assume that the author of Matthew tendentiously negated the verb he found in his source, an assumption that is not inconsistent with Matthew’s editorial style. According to Flusser, “Matthew’s dependence upon his written sources is at times somewhat paradoxical: when he wants to reveal his own opinion, he does not change his source radically, but manipulates his Vorlage by small modifications and a clever rearrangement of material” (Flusser, JOC, 559). Cf. idem, “The Synagogue and the Church in the Synoptic Gospels” (JS1, 17-40, esp. 31).
  • [87] Marshall (322) noted the ambiguity caused by the lack of a verb in Luke’s version of this sentence.
  • [88] Matthew’s “I speak to them in parables” echoes the disciples’ question, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (Matt. 13:10).
  • [89] According to Hauck, “The softer reading of ἵνα in the sense of ἵνα πληρωθῇ [“in order that it might be fulfilled”—DNB and JNT]…is an illegitimate alleviation of the difficulty” (“παραβολή,” TDNT, 5:758 n. 102). The view Hauck rejected is advanced by, inter alios, Johannes Horst, “οὖς, κ.τ.λ.,” TDNT, 5:543-559, esp. 555; Jeremias, Parables, 17.
  • [90] See Robert H. Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel: With Special Reference to the Messianic Hope (Leiden: Brill, 1967), 33-34; cf. France, Matt., 513.
  • [91] Some NT MSS have ἵνα + subjunctive instead of ὅτι in Matt. 13:13 as well. This is almost certainly due to the scribal impulse to harmonize the Gospels. See Metzger, 32-33.
  • [92] See Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 38.
  • [93] On the various ways that LXX rendered the infinitive absolute, see Henry St. John Thackeray, A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek According to the Septuagint (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909), 1:47-50.
  • [94] Examples of emphatic denials expressed with the construction inf. abs. + לֹא + finite verb are found in Exod. 5:23 (הַצֵּל לֹא הִצַּלְתָּ; “you definitely did not deliver”); 8:24 (הַרְחֵק לֹא תַרְחִיקוּ; “you must definitely not go far off”); 34:7 (נַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה; “he definitely will not acquit”); Lev. 7:24 (אָכֹל לֹא תֹאכְלֻהוּ; “you definitely must not eat it”); Num. 14:18 (נַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה; “he definitely will not acquit”); 23:25 (קֹב לֹא תִקֳּבֶנּוּ; “you definitely must not curse them”); 23:25 (בָּרֵךְ לֹא תְבָרֲכֶנּוּ; “you definitely must not bless them”); Deut. 21:14 (מָכֹר לֹא תִמְכְּרֶנָּה; “you definitely must not sell her”); Josh. 17:13 (הוֹרֵשׁ לֹא הוֹרִישׁוֹ; “he definitely did not drive him out”); Judg. 1:28 (הוֹרֵישׁ לֹא הוֹרִישׁוֹ; “he definitely did not drive him out”); 15:13 (הָמֵת לֹא נְמִיתֶךָ; “we definitely will not put you to death”); 1 Kgs. 3:27 (הָמֵת לֹא תְמִיתֻהוּ; “you definitely must not put him to death”); Isa. 30:19 (בָּכוֹ לֹא תִבְכֶּה; “you definitely will not cry”); Jer. 6:15 (בּוֹשׁ לֹא יֵבוֹשׁוּ; “they definitely were not ashamed”); 8:12 (בּוֹשׁ לֹא יֵבֹשׁוּ; “they definitely were not ashamed”); 11:12 (הוֹשֵׁעַ לֹא יוֹשִׁיעוּ; “they definitely will not save”); 13:12 (יָדֹעַ לֹא נֵדַע; “we definitely do not know”); 23:32 (הוֹעֵיל לֹא יוֹעִילוּ; “they definitely do not profit”); 30:11 (נַקֵּה לֹא אֲנַקֵּךָּ; “I definitely will not acquit you”); 46:28 (נַקֵּה לֹא אֲנַקֶּךָּ; “I definitely will not acquit you”); Ezek. 20:32 (הָיוֹ לֹא תִהְיֶה; “it definitely will not be”); Amos 3:5 (לָכוֹד לֹא יִלְכּוֹד; “it definitely did not capture”); Nah. 1:3 (נַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה; “he definitely will not acquit”); Dan. 10:3 (סוֹךְ לֹא סָכְתִּי; “I definitely did not anoint”).
  • [95] For example, in Exod. 5:23 LXX rendered הַצֵּל לֹא הִצַּלְתָּ (“you definitely did not deliver”) as οὐκ ἐρρύσω (“you did not deliver”), and in Ezek. 20:32 LXX rendered הָיוֹ לֹא תִהְיֶה (“it definitely will not be”) as οὐκ ἔσται (“it will not be”).
  • [96] For instance, in Jer. 23:32 LXX rendered הוֹעֵיל לֹא יוֹעִילוּ (“they definitely do not profit”) as ὠφέλειαν οὐκ ὠφελήσουσιν (“a profit they will not profit”), and in Dan. 10:3 LXX rendered סוֹךְ לֹא סָכְתִּי (“I definitely did not anoint”) as ἔλαιον οὐκ ἠλειψάμην (“with oil I did not anoint”).
  • [97] Similar treatments of the inf. abs. + לֹא + finite verb construction are found in Num. 23:25, where LXX rendered בָּרֵךְ לֹא תְבָרֲכֶנּוּ (“you definitely must not bless them”) as εὐλογῶν μὴ εὐλογήσῃς αὐτόν (“blessing you may not bless him”), and in Jer. 13:12 where LXX rendered יָדֹעַ לֹא נֵדַע (“we definitely do not know”) as μὴ γνόντες οὐ γνωσόμεθα (“not knowing we will not know”).
  • [98] See Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 39.
  • [99] See Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel, 117.
  • [100] According to Lowe and Flusser, the author of Matthew “recognized Mark’s innovation as a mutilated version of Is. 6.9-10, but also noticed how far it was from the Proto-Matthean ὅτι βλέποντες…. He therefore both retained the latter and added to it the complete and unabridged prophecy from Isaiah in the exact Septuagint form as Mt. 13.14-15” (“Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 39). Lowe and Flusser’s “Proto-Matthew” is roughly equivalent to Lindsey’s “Anthology.”
  • [101] See above, Comment to L21.
  • [102] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:45-49.
  • [103] See Dos Santos, 212.
  • [104] Translation of L.A.B. according to Howard Jacobson, A Commentary on Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum With Latin Text and English Translation (2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1996), 1:138.
  • [105] There are significant differences between the wording of Isa. 64:3 as it appears in MT and LXX and the ways Paul and Pseudo-Philo allude to this verse in their writings. The only sensory organ mentioned in Isa. 64:3 is the eye, although hearing and seeing (in that order!) are both mentioned. Understanding with the heart, which is found both in 1 Cor. and L.A.B., does not appear in Isa. 64:3, but is picked up from Isa. 65:17 (וְלֹא תַעֲלֶינָה עַל לֵב). The shared order see-hear-understand, the shared mention of eyes, ears and heart, and their agreement to splice a phrase from Isa. 65:17 into their allusions to Isa. 64:3 demonstrate that both Paul and Pseudo-Philo were familiar with a midrashic treatment of this verse that was probably well known in the first century C.E. (See the discussion in Jacobson, A Commentary on Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, 2:776, and the attestations to this midrash on Isa. 64:3 collected in Michael E. Stone and John Strugnell, The Books of Elijah: Parts 1&2 [Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press, 1979], 45-73.) Underlying this conjectured midrash on Isa. 64:3 appears to be the notion that the words עַיִן לֹא רָאָתָה אֱלֹהִים זוּלָתְךָ should be interpreted as “no eyes have seen except yours, O God,” whereas a more natural interpretation would be “the eye has not seen any God except you,” which is theologically problematic. The same approach to this exegetical difficulty also underlies a rabbinic comment on Isa. 64:3:

    אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן כל הנביאים כולן לא נתנבאו אלא לימות המשיח אבל לעולם הבא עין לא ראתה אלהים זולתך

    Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yohanan, “All the prophets prophesied only for the days of the Messiah. But as for the world to come, the eye has not seen, O God, except you [Isa. 64:3].” (b. Ber. 34b; cf. b. Shab. 63a; b. Sanh. 99a)

  • [106] In the Gospel of Thomas we find a parallel to the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying that does allude to Isa. 64:3:

    Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven Gos. Thom. §17 (ed. Guillaumont, 13)
    To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus said: I will give you
    but for the rest it was in parables,
    because they did not see or hear what eye has not seen and what ear has not heard
    and what hand has not touched
    or understand. and (what) has not arisen in the heart of man.

    Is this logion from the Gospel of Thomas a variant of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying? And does this logion preserve an authentic recollection that the verse Jesus originally alluded to in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying was Isa. 64:3?

  • [107] See Davies-Allison, 2:394.
  • [108] At Matt. 13:14 Codex Bezae reads καὶ τότε πληρωθήσεται επ᾽αὐτοῖς ἡ προφητεία τοῦ Ἠσαΐου λέγουσα (“and then will be fulfilled on them the prophecy of Isaiah, saying…”). This variant may be a scribe’s attempt to assimilate the introduction of the Isaiah quotation in Matt. 13:14 to the fulfillment formulae found elsewhere in Matthew’s Gospel.
  • [109] See the discussion in Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel, 116-118; cf. Nolland, Matt., 535; France, Matt., 513 n. 16.
  • [110] On the textual witnesses to Isa. 6:10, see David S. New, “The Occurance of ΑΥΤΩΝ in Matthew 13.15 and the Process of Text Assimilation,” New Testament Studies 37.3 (1991): 478-480.
  • [111] See T. W. Manson, The Teaching of Jesus: Studies of its Form and Content (2d ed.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), 77; Black, 154; Jeremias, Parables, 15.
  • [112] Lindsey believed that the author of Mark may have relied on an Aramaic targum as a source of some of his paraphrastic changes to Luke. (See Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “Sources of the Markan Pick-ups”; idem, “A New Two-source Solution to the Synoptic Problem,” thesis 4; idem, “Measuring the Disparity Between Matthew, Mark and Luke,” under the subheading “Further Proof of Mark’s Dependence on Luke.”) However, it may be preferable to suppose that the author of Mark was familiar with Jewish traditions that are later attested in the Aramaic targumim than to suppose that the author of Mark relied on a written targum. On the liturgical use of targumim in the synagogue, see Ze’ev Safrai, “The Origins of Reading the Aramaic Targum in Synagogue,” Immanuel 24/25 (1990): 187-193.
  • [113] Note that Martin rated Luke’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying as the closest to translation-style Greek, and Mark’s version to be closest to original Greek composition. See Raymond A. Martin, Syntax Criticism of the Synoptic Gospels (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1987), 42.
  • [114] See Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 38. From the conclusion of Acts we know this Isaiah verse was important to the author of Luke because it seemed to explain Paul’s failure to convince the Jewish people of the truth of the Gospel (Acts 28:25-28).
  • [115] On the community for which the Gospel of Matthew was composed and its relations with the Jewish community, see Tomson, 272-276, 407-408.
  • [116] On the pedagogical purpose of parables, see Notley-Safrai, 27-35. See also Joseph Frankovic, “The Power of Parables.”
  • [117] On the generally positive portrayal of Jews and Judaism in Luke and Acts, see Peter J. Tomson, “Gamaliel’s Counsel and the Apologetic Strategy of Luke-Acts,” in The Unity of Luke-Acts (ed. J. Verheyden; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1999), 585-604; idem, “Luke-Acts and the Jewish Scriptures,” Analecta Bruxellensia 7 (2002): 164-183; Tomson, 214-247.

LOY Excursus: Criteria for Identifying Separated Twin Parables and Similes in the Synoptic Gospels

Revised: 20-October-2017

Anyone acquainted with the Synoptic Gospels knows that some of Jesus’ parables and similes are twins.[1] For example, Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl appear as a pair (Matt. 13:44, 45-46), Tower Builder and King Going to War (Luke 14:28-29, 31-32) do the same, as do Lost Sheep and Lost Coin (Luke 15:4-7, 8-10) and Mustard Seed and Starter Dough (Matt. 13:31-32, 33; Luke 13:18-19, 20-21).[2] With respect to the examples we have just mentioned, the twin parables and/or similes not only resemble one another, they also appear adjacent to one another in at least one of the Synoptic Gospels.[3]

From the list of twin parables and similes that remain paired in at least one Gospel we have culled certain formal characteristics common to each of them, which can be used as criteria for evaluating whether other parables or similes in the Synoptic Gospels that strongly resemble one another but that do not appear in the same immediate contexts might be separated twins that were conjoined at a pre-Synoptic stage of the transmission of Gospel materials.[4]

Five Criteria for Identifying Separated Twin Parables and Similes

Common to the twin parables and similes that remain connected in at least one of the Gospels are the following characteristics:

1) The most distinctive feature of twin parables and similes is that both twins play out the same scenarios acted out with different characters and different props.

  • In both Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl the main character finds an item of value and sells everything in order to obtain it.
  • In Tower Builder and King Going to War the main character calculates his chances of success before embarking on a risky venture.
  • In Lost Sheep and Lost Coin the main character loses a valued possession, makes an effort to find it, and invites his/her friends to celebrate with him/her when it is recovered.
  • In Mustard Seed and Starter Dough something expands out of proportion to its original size.

2) In each of the attested twin parables and similes there is a contrast between the social standing of the main characters.

  • Hidden Treasure (poor rural farmer) vs. Priceless Pearl (wealthy urban merchant)
  • Tower Builder (small-time farmer) vs. King Going to War (king)
  • Lost Sheep (male proprietor of a large flock) vs. Lost Coin (female owner of a small savings)
  • Mustard Seed (man) vs. Starter Dough (woman)

3) Both twins illustrate the same point.

  • Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl illustrate the joy of abandoning one’s possessions in order to become Jesus’ full-time disciple.
  • Lost Sheep and Lost Coin illustrate God’s attitude toward repentant sinners: God rejoices over them and wants everyone else to rejoice with him.
  • Tower Builder and King Going to War have unfortunately not come to us in their original context, neither has their original context been convincingly conjectured. It is likely that Tower Builder and King Going to War illustrate either a prospective disciple’s need to consider the seriousness of the commitment he was about to make, or, alternatively, Tower Builder and King Going to War might illustrate Jesus’ rejection of some prospective disciples.
  • Mustard Seed and Starter Dough illustrate the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven from its small beginnings.

4) Twin parables and similes tell both stories using the same or similar words and phrases.

  • Common to Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl are: both characters are described as a “person” (ἄνθρωπος; Matt. 13:44, 45); both characters sell “all that he has” (πάντα ὅσα ἔχει(ν); Matt. 13:44, 46); and both “buy” (ἀγοράζειν; Matt. 13:44, 46) the special object they have found.
  • Common to Tower Builder and King Going to War are: “Which of you?” (Luke 14:28) // “Which king?” (Luke 14:31); “Will he not first?” (οὐχί πρῶτον; Luke 14:28, 31); “if he has” (Luke 14:28) // “if he is able” (Luke 14:32).
  • Common to Lost Sheep and Lost Coin are: “What man?” (τίς ἄνθρωπος; Luke 15:4) // “What woman?” (τίς γυνή; Luke 15:8); “one” sheep (ἕν; Luke 15:3) // “one” coin (μίαν; Luke 15:8); “until he finds it” (ἕως εὕρῃ αὐτό; Luke 15:5) “until she finds [it]” (ἕως οὗ εὕρῃ; Luke 15:8); “he summons his friends and neighbors” (συγκαλεῖ τοὺς φίλους καὶ τοὺς γείτονας; Luke 15:6) // “she summons her friends and neighbors” (συγκαλεῖ τὰς φίλας καὶ γείτονας; Luke 15:9); “Rejoice with me, because I found” (συγχάρητέ μοι, ὅτι εὗρον; Luke 15:6, 9); “repenting sinner” (ἁμαρτωλῷ μετανοοῦντι; Luke 15:7, 10).
  • Common to Mustard Seed and Starter Dough are: a man “takes” (λαβών; Matt. 13:31; Luke 13:19) the seed // a woman “takes” (λαβοῦσα; Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:20) the yeast.

5) Twin parables and similes are of similar length.

  • Hidden Treasure: 31 Greek words; Priceless Pearl: 25 Greek words
  • Tower Builder: 43 Greek words; King Going to War: 41 Greek words
  • Lost Sheep: 81 Greek words (Luke), 65 Greek words (Matt.); Lost Coin: 53 Greek words
  • Mustard Seed: 40 Greek words (Luke), 50 Greek words (Matt.); Starter Dough: 25 Greek words (Luke), 23 Greek words (Matt.)

Observe that the second parable in each set of twins is told with fewer words than the first.

Application of the Five Criteria

The criteria we have identified above can be applied to test whether other suggested couplings of parables and/or similes are true twins. As examples, we will test four sets of parables/similes that Lindsey identified as potentially separated twins: 1) Persistent Widow (Luke 18:2-5) and Friend in Need (Luke 11:5-7); 2) Darnel Among the Wheat (Matt. 13:24-30) and Bad Fish Among the Good (Matt. 13:47-50); 3) Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21) and Rich Man and Lazar (Luke 16:19-13); 4) Two Sons (Matt. 21:28-32) and Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

Persistent Widow and Friend in Need

1) Same scenarios acted out with different characters and different props:

In both illustrations a person makes a request, is initially denied, but then receives what he/she sought.

2) Contrast between the social standing of the main characters:

Friend in Need (man) vs. Persistent Widow (woman).

3) Both twins illustrate the same point:

If even a bad person will give what we need, albeit reluctantly, how much more will your Father in heaven willingly give Jesus’ full-time disciples what they need to serve him?

4) Same or similar words and phrases:

  • Persistent Widow: the widow “came to” (ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτόν; Luke 18:3) the judge. Friend in Need: a friend “comes to” (πορεύσεται πρός; Luke 11:5; cf. παρεγένετο…πρός; Luke 11:6) the man at night.
  • Persistent Widow: the judge says, “Because she keeps bringing me trouble” (διά γε τὸ παρέχειν μοι κόπον; Luke 18:5). Friend in Need: the bad friend says, “Don’t bring me trouble!” (μή μοι κόπους πάρεχε; Luke 11:7)

5) Similar length (second illustration slightly shorter than the first):

Persistent Widow (Luke 18:2-5): 70 Greek words; Friend in Need (Luke 11:5-7): 59 Greek words.

Result:

Persistent Widow and Friend in Need meet all five criteria for true twin parables/similes.

 

 

Darnel Among the Wheat and Bad Fish Among the Good

1) Same scenarios acted out with different characters and different props:

The good and the bad are allowed to remain mixed for the present, but they get sorted in the end.

2) Contrast between the social standing of the main characters:

Darnel Among the Wheat (landowner) vs. Bad Fish Among the Good (fishermen).

3) Both twins illustrate the same point:

God, in his wisdom, permits the righteous and the wicked to coexist.

4) Same or similar words and phrases:

The most important action verbs in both parables are συλλέγειν (“to gather”; Matt. 13:28, 29, 30, 48) and συνάγειν (“to gather”; Matt. 13:30, 47).

5) Similar length (second illustration slightly shorter than the first):

Darnel Among the Wheat (Matt. 13:24-30): 132 Greek words; Bad Fish Among the Good (Matt. 13:47-50): 71 Greek words.

Result:

Darnel Among the Wheat and Bad Fish Among the Good meet four of the five criteria for true twin parables/similes. Only with respect to the fifth criterion does this suggested pair deviate from the norm. However, we think it likely that the author of Matthew somewhat expanded the Darnel Among the Wheat parable.

 

 

Rich Fool and Rich Man and Lazar

1) Same scenarios acted out with different characters and different props:

  • The rich man in Rich Fool has a bumper crop and makes plans for future comfort only to discover that his time is up.
  • The rich man in Rich Man and Lazar enjoys luxury in this life but torment in the afterlife. He observes the reversal of fortunes, since the poor man who was miserable in this world is happy in the world to come.

The two scenarios are completely different.

2) Contrast between the social standing of the main characters:

Rich Fool (rich man) vs. Rich Man and Lazar (rich man). There is no contrast.

3) Both twins illustrate the same point:

  • Rich Fool illustrates the principle “you can’t take it with you.”
  • Rich Man and Lazar wrestles with the question “Why do the wicked prosper.”

Rich Fool and Rich Man and Lazar do not illustrate the same point.

4) Same or similar words and phrases:

Aside from the description of both main characters as a “certain rich man” (ἀνθρώπου τινὸς πλουσίου; Luke 12:16 // ἄνθρωπος δέ τις ἦν πλούσιος; Luke 16:19) there is no distinctive vocabulary common to both illustrations.

5) Similar length (second illustration slightly shorter than the first):

Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21): 94 Greek words; Rich Man and Lazar (Luke 16:19-13): 245 Greek words.

Result:

Rich Fool and Rich Man and Lazar do not meet any of the criteria of twin parables/similes.

 

 

Two Sons and Prodigal Son

1) Same scenarios acted out with different characters and different props:

  • In Two Sons neither son did what he said he would do.
  • In Prodigal Son one son grieves his father by squandering his inheritance while the other toils away trying to earn his father’s approval. When the prodigal returns he, too, wants to work his way back into his father’s favor. The father has to teach both sons that he loves them unconditionally.

The scenarios are not similar.

2) Contrast between the social standing of the main characters:

Two Sons (two sons) vs. Prodigal Son (two sons). There is no contrast.

3) Both twins illustrate the same point:

  • Two Sons illustrates the point that words don’t count as much as deeds.
  • Prodigal Son illustrates the loving character of the Heavenly Father.

Two Sons and Prodigal Son do not illustrate the same point.

4) Same or similar words and phrases:

Aside from “father” and “sons” there is no distinctive vocabulary common to both illustrations.

5) Similar length (second illustration slightly shorter than the first):

Two Sons (Matt. 21:28-32): 106 Greek words; Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32): 391 Greek words.

Result:

Two Sons and Prodigal Son do not meet any of the criteria of true twin parables/similes.

 

Conclusion

The Gemini twins as depicted on the synagogue mosaic in Beit Alpha, Israel. The inscription to the left of the figures reads תאומים (te’ūmim, “twins”). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The five criteria for identifying separated twin parables/similes significantly strengthen the credibility of some of Lindsey’s literary reconstructions, most notably the pairing of the Persistent Widow with Friend in Need in the “How to Pray” complex. Other pairings that Lindsey suggested do not fare quite so well. While it is always possible that Jesus followed up one parable or simile with a second parable or simile that was different in form, style and content, compelling evidence would need to be produced in order to convince us that he in fact did so.

 

 

 


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  • [1] See Burnett H. Streeter, “St. Mark’s Knowledge and Use of Q,” in Studies in the Synoptic Problem (ed. W. Sanday; Oxford: Clarendon, 1911), 165-183, esp. 173.
  • [2] See Jeremias (Parables, 90-92) for a discussion of “double” illustrations (Jeremias’ discussion is not limited to parables and similes). We define parables as brief realistic narratives used to illustrate a particular point. On defining parables, see Notley-Safrai, 3-6. We define similes as a sub-category of parables, which are given in the form of a question (e.g., “Which of you, having a hundred sheep…?”). See Tower Builder and King Going to War, Comment to L1. For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’
  • [3] In rabbinic literature we occasionally encounter what we might call “dual parables,” such as the two parables in m. Avot 3:17, which tell the same story with different conclusions in order to illustrate how it is with a person who has accumulated more wisdom than deeds in the first case and how it is with a person who has accumulated more deeds than wisdom in the second. Similarly, m. Avot 4:20 has double parables about learning from the young versus learning from the aged, and t. Kid. 1:11 has three sets of double parables about those who practice a craft versus those who do not. These examples are not quite like the twin parables in the Gospels because they illustrate opposites, rather than using two similar parables to illustrate the same point. In t. Hag. 2:5, on the other hand, we find two parables that illustrate the same point, but the plots of the dual parables are not similar, unlike the twin parables found in the Gospels.
  • [4] For an initial attempt to identify “separated” twins, see Robert L. Lindsey, “Jesus’ Twin Parables”; idem, TJS, 44-52.

Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn

Matt. 11:25-26; Luke 10:21

(Huck 67, 141; Aland 109, 181a; Crook 128, 205)[1]

Revised: 22-December-2017

בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה שָׂשׂ בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ וַיֹּאמֶר אוֹדְךָ אָבִי אֲדוֹן שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ כִּי הִסְתַּרְתָּ אֵלֶּה מֵחֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים וְגִלִּיתָ אוֹתָם לִפְתָאיִם הֵן אַבָּא כִּי כֵּן רָצוֹן הוּא לְפָנֶיךָ

At that very moment Yeshua was filled with joy through the Holy Spirit, and he said, “I give thanks to you, my Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because although you hid these mysteries from the wisest of the wise in former generations, you have now revealed them to my own simple followers. Yes, Father, I thank you because this act of grace is what you desire.”[2]


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Reconstruction

To view the reconstructed text of Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn click on the link below:

Download (PDF, 102KB)

Story Placement

The author of Matthew placed Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn immediately after the Woes on Galilean Villages pericope (Matt. 11:20-24 // Luke 10:13-15). In Luke, Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn also appears in fairly close proximity to the Woes on Galilean Villages pericope, which the author of Luke includes in the context of the mission of the seventy-two disciples. Although the author of Matthew removed Woes on Galilean Villages and Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn from the mission of the twelve apostles context, we believe the close proximity of these two pericopae in both Matthew and Luke reflect their inclusion in the mission of the twelve apostles context in their shared source, the Anthology (Anth.).[3]

In the center of this photo, courtesy of Joshua N. Tilton, is the partially reconstructed synagogue of Chorazin, one of the towns mentioned in the Woes on Galilean Villages pericope.

Robert Lindsey believed it was the Anthologizer (the creator of Anth.) who was responsible for breaking up integrated units of narrative, teaching and parables and rearranging these literary fragments according to theme or genre. For this reason Lindsey sometimes referred to the Anthology as the “Reorganized Scroll.” The Anthologizer’s reorganizing activity not only removed some materials from their original contexts, it also forged new links between sayings that were not originally connected in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua. We regard the Anthology’s apparent inclusion of Woes on Galilean Villages in the sending of the Twelve context as one example of how the Anthologizer sometimes inserted materials into contexts where they did not originally belong,[4] and how these misplacements where then passed along to Luke and Matthew.

Another example of a secondary link that the Anthologizer created and then passed along to Matthew and Luke is the joining of Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn (Matt. 11:25-26 // Luke 10:21) with a saying about how father and son share mutual knowledge (Matt. 11:27 // Luke 10:22). Since the father and son saying immediately follows Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn in Luke and Matthew, there can be little doubt that these sayings were also adjacent in Anth. And although Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn and the father and son saying share themes and vocabulary pertaining to revelation and fatherhood, there are significant differences between the two sayings. Among the most important differences between the two sayings is the different audiences to whom they are addressed. Whereas Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn is a prayer addressed to God, the father and son saying is didactic material addressed to Jesus’ followers. In Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, moreover, Jesus praises God who reveals his mysteries to the simple, whereas in the father and son saying it is the son who discloses revelations about the father. Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn is written in the style of Essene poetry, whereas the father and son saying is prose and more easily reconstructed in Mishnaic-style Hebrew. Thus, although we are convinced that the father and son saying was linked to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn at a pre-synoptic stage of transmission, we do not believe that Jesus uttered the two sayings on the same occasion, and it seems unlikely that they appeared in the same context in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua. For this reason we have not included the saying about a father and son’s mutual understanding in the “Mission of the Twelve” complex. Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, on the other hand, does seem to belong with the sayings that make up Jesus’ response to his apostles’ return from their mission. To see an overview of the entire “Mission of the Twelve” complex, click here.

LOYMap

 

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

 

Conjectured Stages of Transmission

Since in his tenth chapter the author of Luke followed the Anthology’s account of the apostles’ mission and Jesus’ response to the apostles’ return, we would expect that Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn was also copied from Anth. This expectation is confirmed by the high degree of verbal agreement between the Lukan and Matthean versions of Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, which, according to Lindsey, occurs in double tradition pericopae when the authors of Luke and Matthew each copied from their shared source, the Anthology.

Only in the narrative introductions to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn do Luke and Matthew significantly differ. Luke’s narrative introduction is easy to reconstruct in Hebrew, and the role accorded to the Holy Spirit in Luke’s introduction is wholly consistent with the oracular function of the Holy Spirit in ancient Jewish sources (see below, Comment to L1-3). There is good reason, on the other hand, why the author of Matthew might have wanted to play down the exultant tone of the introduction to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, since in Matthew the thanksgiving hymn appears immediately after the pronouncement of the Woes on Galilean Villages.[5] It seems likely, therefore, that Luke preserves the original introduction to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, whereas Matthew’s introduction has been revised in order to more fully integrate the hymn into its Matthean context.

Crucial Issues

  1. Would addressing God as “my father” have been considered offensive or blasphemous in first-century Jewish culture?
  2. Who are the “wise and intelligent” and who are the “simple” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn?
  3. Did Jesus ever address God as “Abba”?

Comment

L1-3 The introductions to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn in Matthew and Luke have markedly different wording. Nevertheless, they both begin with a time marker and end with εἶπεν (eipen, “he said”). Luke’s introduction mentions Jesus’ exultation in the Holy Spirit. Matthew’s version is much more bland by comparison. Did the author of Luke add dramatic details to the introduction,[6] or did Matthew rework the wording of Anth. in order to create a more generic opening that suited the context in which Matthew includes Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn? We incline toward the latter view.

In ancient Jewish sources the Holy Spirit often fulfills two related functions: the Holy Spirit prompts ecstatic speech, and the Holy Spirit discloses supernatural knowledge and understanding. For example, in the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns we read about superhuman insight imparted by the Holy Spirit:[7]

ואני ידעתי מבינתך כי ברצונכה בא[נו]ש תגב[רתה גורלו עם] רוח קודשך וכן תגישני לבינתך

But I have known by means of your understanding that in your good will toward hu[mankin]d you have en[larged his lot with] your Holy Spirit, and so you have brought me near to your understanding. (1QHa VI, 12-13)

ואני משכיל ידעתיכה אלי ברוח אשר נתתה בי ונאמנה שמעתי לסוד פלאכה ברוח קודשכה [פ]תחתה לתוכי דעת ברז שכלכה ומעין גבורת[כה]

And I, the Instructor, have known you, my God, through the spirit which you gave in me, and I have listened loyally to your wonderful secret through your holy spirit. You have [op]ened within me knowledge of the mystery of your wisdom, and the source of [your] power. (1QHa XX, 11-13; DSS Study Edition)[8]

In the examples from Qumran, the content of the supernatural understanding the Holy Spirit imparts is knowledge of God and his mysteries. In rabbinic sources, on the other hand, the Holy Spirit generally reveals knowledge of the world that could not be attained through normal means. For instance:

מעשה ברבן גמליאל שהיה מהלך מעכו לכזיב מצא גלוסקין אחד בדרך אמ′ לעבדו טבי טול את הגלוסקין ראה גוי אחד אמ′ לו מבגאי טול גלוסקין זה רץ אחריו ר′ לעיי אמ′ לו מה טובך אמ′ לו מעיירות הללו של בורגנין אני אמ′ לו מה שמך אמ′ לו מבגאי…אמ′ לו מכירך רבן גמליאל מימיו אמ′ לאו מיכן למדנו שכיון רבן גמליאל ברוח הקדש

An anecdote concerning Rabban Gamliel, who was walking from Akko to Keziv. He found a bread loaf in the road. He said to his slave Tavi, “Take the loaf.” He saw a certain gentile. He said to him, “Mavgai, take this bread loaf.” Rabbi La‘i ran after him. He said to him, “Who are you?” He replied, “I am from one of these towns that serve as travelers’ stations.” He said to him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Mavgai.”[9] He said to him, “Have you ever been acquainted with Rabban Gamliel in all your days?” He replied, “No.” From this we learn that Rabban Gamliel determined this by the Holy Spirit. (t. Pes. 2:15; Vienna MS)

This illumination from the fourteenth-century C.E. Sarajevo Haggada pictures Rabban Gamliel (Gamaliel) II, grandson of the apostle Paul’s teacher. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In this rabbinic example the Holy Spirit revealed knowledge of mundane matters—the name of a person Rabban Gamliel had never before met—rather than divine mysteries, as in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In a similar fashion, the rabbinic sages appealed to the Holy Spirit to explain how biblical personalities sometimes exhibited unexpected knowledge. In the Song at the Sea (Exod. 15), for example, the Israelite singers claim to have known what Pharaoh was thinking even though he was far away in Egypt:

אמר אויב זה פרעה וכי מנין היו ישראל יודעין מה פרעה חושב עליהן במצרים אלא רוח הקדש שרתה עליהן והיו יודעין מה פרעה חשב עליהם במצרים

The enemy said [Exod. 15:9]—this is Pharaoh. And how did Israel know what Pharaoh was thinking about them in Egypt? The Holy Spirit rested on them and they knew what Pharaoh thought about them in Egypt. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shirata chpt. 7 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:204])[10]

In addition to superhuman knowledge, the sages attributed ecstatic speech to the influence of the Holy Spirit:

דרש ר′ עקיבא בשעה שעלו ישראל מן הים בקשו לומ′ שירה שרת עליהן רוח הקדש ואמרו שירה

Rabbi Akiva expounded thus, “In the hour that the Israelites came up out of the [Red] Sea, they wanted to say a song. The Holy Spirit rested upon them and they spoke the song [at the Sea].” (t. Sot. 6:2; Vienna MS)

Supernatural knowledge and ecstatic speech are characteristic traits of prophecy, and it is therefore natural to find that the Holy Spirit was regarded in ancient Jewish sources as the fount and inspiration of prophecy.[11]

Given that Jesus’ contemporaries regarded him as a prophet (cf. Luke 7:16; 24:19), and that in his thanksgiving hymn Jesus uttered ecstatic speech about the revelation of supernatural knowledge to his followers, the mention of the Holy Spirit in Luke’s introduction to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn is in complete harmony with ancient Jewish understandings of the role and function of the Holy Spirit. We have therefore accepted Luke’s introduction for GR and HR in L1-3.

L1 ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ (Matt. 11:25). The phrase ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ (en ekeinō tō kairō, “in that time”) is relatively rare in LXX, occurring only 5xx, where it is the translation of בָּעֵת הַהִוא (bā‘ēt hahi’, “in that time”; Deut. 10:1, 8), בָּעִתִּים הָהֵם (bā‘itim hāhēm, “in those times”; 2 Chr. 15:5), or the Aramaic phrase בֵּהּ זִמְנָא (bēh zimnā’, “in the time”; Dan. 3:8; 4:36). Although it would be possible to reconstruct Matthew’s opening phrase in Hebrew as בָּעֵת הַהִיא, we believe Luke’s opening phrase is even more Hebraic. We note that the phrase ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ is unique to Matthew in NT, where it occurs 3xx (Matt. 11:25; 12:1; 14:1).[12] This phrase is also similar to ἐν τούτῳ τῷ καιρῷ (en toutō tō kairō, “in this time”),[13] κατ᾿ ἐκεῖνον τὸν καιρόν (kat ekeinon ton kairon, “about that time”)[14] and κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν καιρόν (kata touton ton kairon, “about this time”),[15] phrases familiar from Josephus.

בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה (HR). Luke’s introductory phrase, ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ (en avtē tē hōra, “in it the hour”; Luke 10:21), is unusual in Greek,[16] and has, accordingly, invited comment from scholars.[17]

T. W. Manson noted, “‘In that same hour’ corresponds exactly to the Rabbinic phrase be’ōthāh shā‘āh.”[18] The phrase בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה (be’ōtāh shā‘āh) is common in rabbinic sources,[19] and we concur with Manson that it is a close match for Luke’s ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ. More rarely in rabbinic sources, however, the phrase occurs with the definite article, בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה (be’ōtāh hashā‘āh), and since this is an even more exact match for Luke’s introductory phrase, we have adopted it for HR.[20] Adopting בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה for HR is an example of the blended type of Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew in which we believe the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua was composed, and which is also attested in the baraita about King Yannai preserved in b. Kid. 66a, which may have been taken from a Hebrew document written toward the end of the Second Temple period.[21]

L2 ἠγαλλιάσατο τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ (Luke 10:21). There are many variant readings at this point in the Greek manuscripts, probably owing to the unusual phrase “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit,” which has no precedent in the Jewish Scriptures.[22] The closest parallel we have identified to Luke 10:21 in ancient Jewish sources occurs in a striking passage of the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns:

כי אתה מאבי ידעתני ומרחם [הקדשתני ומבטן] אמי גמלתה עלי ומשדי הוריתי רחמיך עלי ובחיק אומנתי רוב[ חסד]יכה ומנעורי הופעתה לי בשכל משפטכה ובאמת נכון סמכתני וברוח קודשכה תשעשעני ועד היום [א]תה תנהלני ותוכחת צדקכה עם נ[ע]ויתי ומשמר שלומכה לפלט נפשי ועם מצעדי רוב סליחות והמון רחמים בהשפטכה בי ועד שיבה אתה תכלכלני כיא אבי לא ידעני ואמי עליכה עזבתני כי אתה אב לכול בני אמתכה ותגל עליהם כמרחמת על עולה וכאומן בחיק תכלכל לכול מעשיכה

For you knew me before my father, and before I came from the womb [you sanctified me and before I came from] my mother’s [belly]. You have done good to me and from the time I was at the breasts of the one who conceived me your mercies have been upon me, and from the time I was held in the bosom of my nurse the multitude of your [kindness]es have been with me. And since my youth you have shown yourself to me in the wisdom of your judgments, and with established truth you have supported me and by your Holy Spirit you have delighted me [וברוח קודשכה תשעשעני]. And until today you have led me, and the reproof of your justice deals with my per[ver]sity and the protection of your peace delivers my soul. And with my steps is abundant forgiveness and there is a multitude of mercy in your judgment of me. And until old age you sustain me. For my father did not know me and my mother abandoned me to you, but you are father to all the sons of your truth and you rejoice over them like she who has compassion on her infant, and like a nurse in her bosom you sustain all your works. (1QHa XVII, 29-36)

In addition to rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, this passage from the Thanksgiving Hymns relates to God as a father and expresses gratitude to God for having made himself known, themes similar to those found in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn.

שָׂשׂ בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ (HR). We considered three main possibilities for reconstructing ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι (agalliasthai, “to rejoice”): 1) שִׁעֲשַׁע (shi‘asha‘, “take delight”); 2) גָּל (gāl, “rejoice”); and 3) שָׂשׂ (sās, “delight”).

The second sheet of the scroll of Thanksgiving Hymns from Qumran. Much of the scroll’s deterioration occurred after it was removed from its storage jar in Qumran Cave 1 and brought to the much damper Bethlehem-Jerusalem area, where it was passed from hand to hand. (Courtesy of the Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum)

1. Reconstructing ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι with שִׁעֲשַׁע is suggested by the parallel in the Thanksgiving Hymns cited just above which reads, וברוח קודשכה תשעשעני (“and by your Holy Spirit you have delighted me”; 1QHa XVII, 32). However, in LXX neither שִׁעֲשַׁע nor הִשְׁתַּעֲשַׁע (hishta‘asha‘), from the same root, are ever rendered with ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι.[23] While this fact does not automatically disqualify שִׁעֲשַׁע as a candidate for HR, it does encourage us to keep searching for other possibilities.

2. In support of reconstructing ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι with גָּל is the fact that in LXX no other verb translates גָּל more often than ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι.[24] In addition, the construction גָּל +‎ -בְּ is well attested in MT and DSS.[25] Moreover, reconstructing with גָּל would allow for a wordplay with גִּלָּה (gilāh, “reveal”; L8) in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn. While these facts make גָּל a viable candidate for HR, a weakness of this option is that we have been unable to find a parallel to “rejoice in the Holy Spirit” that uses the verb גָּל.

3. We have settled on שָׂשׂ for HR due to an important parallel in the Hebrew Bible. The Holy Spirit is rarely mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. Isaiah twice refers to רוּחַ קָדְשׁוֹ (rūaḥ qodshō, “his [i.e., the LORD’s] Holy Spirit”; Isa. 63:10, 11). The only other mention of the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Bible is in Psalm 51:

אַל תַּשְׁלִיכֵנִי מִלְּפָנֶיךָ וְרוּחַ קָדְשְׁךָ אַל תִּקַּח מִמֶּנִּי הָשִׁיבָה לִּי שְׂשׂוֹן יִשְׁעֶךָ וְרוּחַ נְדִיבָה תִסְמְכֵנִי

Do not throw me out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit [רוּחַ קָדְשְׁךָ] do not take from me. Return to me the joy of your salvation, and by a willing spirit support me. (Ps. 51:13-14)

In this passage from the Psalms the Holy Spirit is closely associated with שָׂשׂוֹן; (sāsōn, “joy”), a noun that comes from the same root as the verb שָׂשׂ. According to Psalm 51, the removal of the Holy Spirit causes the absence of joy. Conversely, the presence of the Holy Spirit implies rejoicing. The correlation between joy and the Holy Spirit in one of the foundational texts on the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures and in Luke 10:21 can hardly be coincidental. F. F. Bruce noted the similarity between these verses in Psalm 51 and the passage from the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns that mentions rejoicing in the Holy Spirit.[26] Just as the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns likely alluded to Psalm 51 when describing rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, we suspect that the introduction to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn in Luke 10:21 may also allude to Psalm 51. Our suspicion is heightened by a verse earlier in the psalm that reads:

הֵן אֱמֶת חָפַצְתָּ בַטֻּחוֹת וּבְסָתֻם חָכְמָה תוֹדִיעֵנִי

Indeed You desire truth about that which is hidden; teach me wisdom about secret things. (Ps. 51:8; JPS)

The revelation of mysteries concealed from the wise is the central theme of Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, making an allusion to Psalm 51 in Luke 10:21 all the more appropriate.

We cannot exclude the possibility that the author of Luke created the allusion to Psalm 51 on the basis of the Septuagint. The LXX translators rendered שָׂשׂוֹן (“joy”) in Ps. 51:14 with ἀγαλλίασις (agalliasis, “gladness”), a cognate of the verb ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι, which occurs in Luke 10:21. It is possible, therefore, that the author of Luke was responsible for inserting the description of Jesus’ rejoicing in the Holy Spirit into the introduction of Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, as so many scholars suggest. However, we believe it is more likely that the mention of the Holy Spirit and the allusion to Psalm 51 were already embedded in Luke’s source, since the subtle kind of allusion this entails seems more likely to have been the work of a Jewish author writing in Hebrew than a Gentile author writing in Greek.

Our reconstruction, then, supposes that שָׂשׂ בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ (“he delighted in the Holy Spirit”) is an allusion to the שָׂשׂוֹן (“joy”) that comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit, according to Psalm 51.[27]

בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ (HR). Examples of בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ (berūa haqodesh, “by/in the Holy Spirit”) and close equivalents are known from DSS and rabbinic sources.[28] In LXX בְּרוּחַ (berūaḥ, “in/by a wind/spirit”) is frequently translated as ἐν πνεύματι (en pnevmati, “in/by a wind/spirit”).[29]

ἠγαλλιάσατο ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ (GR). In one instance we find καὶ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ (“and by the wind of his mouth”; Ps. 32:6) where the Hebrew text has וּבְרוּחַ פִּיו (“and by the wind of his mouth”; Ps. 33:6). In this instance the Greek has no preposition, such as ἐν (en, “in,” “by”), equivalent to -בְּ (be, “in,” “by”). The text of Vaticanus, which we use as the base text for our reconstruction,[30] also lacks the preposition ἐν in L2. Many NT manuscripts do have ἐν in Luke 10:21, however,[31] and although the example from Ps. 32:6 (LXX) shows that a Greek translator might choose to omit a preposition equivalent to -בְּ, it seems more likely that the omission of ἐν in the text of Vaticanus was a scribal error. We have therefore restored ἐν to GR in L2 on the textual evidence that ἐν is the original reading in Luke 10:21.

L3 ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν (Matt. 11:25). Matthew’s introduction to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn mentions Jesus by name and has him “answering,” even though the thanksgiving hymn occurs in the middle of a lengthy section of discourse. We regard Luke’s introduction to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn as more original, and have therefore reconstructed Luke’s καὶ εἶπεν (kai eipen, “and he said”) as וַיֹּאמֶר (vayo’mer, “and he said”). Note the oscillation between Mishnaic-style Hebrew in L1 and L2 of HR and Biblical-style Hebrew with the use of vav-conversive here in L3. Such an admixture of MH and BH elements is also characteristic of the baraita about King Yannai in b. Kid. 66a.[32]

L4-11 In contrast to the narrative introductions, which have very low verbal identity, the thanksgiving hymn itself is nearly identical in Matt. 11:25-26 and Luke 10:21.

L4 אוֹדְךָ (HR). In standard Koine ἐξομολογεῖν (exomologein) means “to confess.”[33] In LXX, however, ἐξομολογεῖν is the usual translation of הוֹדָה (hōdāh, “thank”), and there we frequently encounter the phrase ἐξομολογήσομαί σοι (exomologēsomai soi, “I will confess [future tense] to you”) as the translation of אוֹדְךָ (’ōdechā, “I will thank you”).[34] In Matt. 11:25 and Luke 10:21, by contrast, we read ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι (exomologoumai soi, “I confess [present tense] to you”). The present tense in Matt. 11:25 and Luke 10:21 might support a reconstruction reading מוֹדֶה אֲנִי (mōdeh ’ani, “I am giving thanks”), such as we find in the opening of several rabbinic prayers:

נכנס לשלום או′ מודה אני לפניך יי אלהי שהכנסתני לשלום כן יהי רצון מלפניך יי אלהי שתוציאני לשלום יצא לשלום או′ מודה אני לפניך יי אלהי שהוצאתני לשלום כן יהי רצון מלפניך יי אלהי שתניעני למקומו לשלום

A person who enters [a metropolis (כְּרָךְ)] in peace says, “I am giving thanks before you, O LORD my God, because[35] you caused me to enter in peace. So may it be your will, O LORD my God, that you will also bring me out in peace.” When he has gone out in peace he says, “I am giving thanks before you, O LORD my God, because you brought me out in peace. So may it be your will, O LORD my God, that you will conduct me to my place [lit., his place] in peace.” (t. Ber. 6:16; Vienna MS; cf. y. Ber. 9:4 [66b])

יצא בשלום או′ מודה אני לפניך שהוצאתני לשלום כן יהי רצון מלפניך שתניעני לביתי לשלום

When a person goes out [of a bathhouse] in peace he says, “I am giving thanks before you because you have brought me out in peace. So may it be your will that you will conduct me to my house in peace.” (t. Ber. 6:17; Vienna MS; cf. y. Ber. 9:4 [66b])

מודה אני לפניך ה′ אלהי שאשתי אינה עושה מריבה אצל אחרים [ובני אינם עושים מריבה אצל אחרים]

I am giving thanks before you, O LORD my God, because my wife does not argue with others [and my sons do not argue with others]. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 7:2 [ed. Schechter, 34])

מעשה ברבי עקיבא שהיה יושב ושונה לתלמידיו ונזכר לו מה שעשה בילדותו אמר מודה אני לפניך ה′ אלהי ששמת חלקי מיושבי בית המדרש ולא שמת חלקי מיושבי קרנות בשוק

An anecdote about Rabbi Akiva, who was sitting and teaching his disciples, and it was recalled to him what he had done in his youth. He said, “I am giving thanks before you, O LORD my God, because you set my portion among those who sit in the house of study, and you did not set my portion among those who sit on the corners in the market.” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 21:2 [ed. Schechter, 74]; cf. y. Ber. 4:2 [33a])

בשחרית צריך לומר מודה אני לפניך יי אלהי שהוצאתני מאפילה לאורה

In the afternoon one has to say, “I am giving thanks before you, O LORD my God, because you have brought me out from darkness into light.” (Gen. Rab. 68:9 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:779]; cf. y. Ber. 4:1 [29b])

Note, however, that in these rabbinic prayers the formula is consistently מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ (mōdeh ’ani lefānechā, “I am giving thanks before you”), which is unlike the wording of Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, which has no counterpart to “before you.”

Illustration by Margaret Dickinson of the clay jars with lids that contained the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered at Qumran.

In the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns we encounter the formulae אודכה אלי כי (“I will give you thanks, my God, because…”; 1QHa XIX, 3; cf. XIX,15) and אודכה אדוני כי (“I will give you thanks, my Lord, because…”; 1QHa X, 20, 31; XI, 19, 37; XII, 5; XIII, 5; XV, 6, 26, 34; XVI, 4). These formulae from the Thanksgiving Hymns are closer to “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that…” (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21) than to the opening formula “I am giving thanks before you” in the rabbinic prayers. While there are points of similarity between these rabbinic prayers and Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, such as the offering of thanks and relative brevity, Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn is more akin to the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns in terms of content (esoteric knowledge) and style.[36] We have therefore reconstructed ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι (“I confess to you”) with אוֹדְךָ (“I will thank you”) in conformity with the style of the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns, supposing that the Greek translator of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua gave a non-Septuagintal rendition of the underlying Hebrew text.

אָבִי (HR). Many scholars presume that behind the vocative πάτερ (pater, “Father!”) in Matt. 11:25 and Luke 10:21 stands an original אַבָּא (’abā’, “father”),[37] and on the grounds that אַבָּא is Aramaic many scholars conclude that Jesus delivered his teachings in Aramaic and that it was in Aramaic that the earliest followers of Jesus preserved his teachings. It should be noted, however, that אַבָּא is Hebrew as well as Aramaic,[38] so Jesus’ conjectured use of אַבָּא when addressing God is hardly probative one way or the other.

We regard אַבָּא as an improbable reconstruction for πάτερ in L4, not because Jesus could not have addressed God as “Abba” (see below, Comment to L9), but because in LXX the vocative form πάτερ with no possessive pronoun is the standard translation of אָבִי (’āvi, “my father”).[39] Thus, on the basis of LXX we should expect to reconstruct πάτερ in Hebrew as אָבִי.‎[40] Although some scholars have claimed that in the first century C.E. the form אָבִי was obsolete, their claim is erroneous.[41] The form אָבִי is attested in DSS, including in the Thanksgiving Hymns,[42] which has so many affinities with Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, as well as in rabbinic sources.[43] In addition, אָבִי (“my father”) is attested in Second Temple Jewish sources as an address to God in prayer.[44] It seems likely, therefore, that Jesus adopted a known and accepted, albeit rare, form of address to God in the opening of his thanksgiving hymn.[45]

According to Flusser, Jesus linked his divine sonship with his prophetic task to pronounce judgment upon Jerusalem.[46] That Jesus understood this task to be prophetic is clear from his statement that “no prophet can die outside Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33; cf. Matt. 23:37; Luke 13:34), while the links between his prophetic task and divine sonship are evident in the “only son”/“rejected stone” (אבן/בן) wordplay in the Wicked Tenants parable (Luke 20:13, 17). In Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn Jesus’ status as God’s son is hinted at by means of his address to God as “Father” (L4, L9), while his prophetic status is alluded to via the mention of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21; L2).

L5 κύριε τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21). We have not been able to find a precise parallel to the title “Lord of heaven and earth” in Hebrew sources. We do, however, find ὁ κύριος τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς (“the Lord of the heaven and the earth”) in Tob. 7:17, a source which may have been composed in Hebrew.[47] We also find the similar title δέσποτα τῶν οὐρανῶν καὶ τῆς γῆς (“ruler of the heavens and the earth”) in Judith 9:12, another source with a likely Hebrew vorlage.[48] Likewise, Josephus knew the title δέσποτα τῶν ἐπ᾿ οὐρανοῦ τε καὶ γῆς καὶ θαλάσσης (“ruler of what is in heaven and earth and sea”; Ant. 4:40), and in the Aramaic Genesis Apocryphon Melchizedek refers to the LORD as אל עליון מרה שמיא וארעא (“God Most High, Lord of the heavens and the earth”; 1Qap Genar XXII, 16; cf. XXII, 21), which is based on Gen. 14:19 where the LORD is called אֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ (“God Most High, possessor of heavens and earth”). Thus the title “Lord of heaven and earth” was certainly known in the first century C.E. and was probably current in Hebrew as well as Aramaic.

An enamel plaque depicting the meeting of Abram and Melchizedek described in Genesis 14. In that chapter Melchizedek refers to God as “possessor of heaven and earth.” Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

אֲדוֹן שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ (HR). Although the precise formula “Lord of heaven and earth” is not attested in extant Hebrew sources, we do find similar titles in the Hebrew Bible and in post-biblical Jewish literature. Thus, in MT we encounter titles such as קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ (qonēh shāmayim vā’āretz, “possessor of heaven and earth”),[49] עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ (‘osēh shāmayim vā’āretz, “maker of heaven and earth”)[50] and אֲדוֹן כָּל הָאָרֶץ (adōn kol hā’āretz, “Lord of all the earth”).[51] In DSS we find the title אדון הכול (adōn hakōl, “Lord of everything”; 4Q409 1 I, 6), a title that also occurs in the Aleinu prayer that is still recited today.[52] In rabbinic texts we encounter titles such as אדון כל הבריות (adōn kol haberiyōt, “Lord of all the creatures”)[53] and רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם (ribōnō shel ‘ōlām, “master of [the] universe”).[54] Each of these titles emphasizes the universality of God’s dominion and his mastery over creation.

While reconstructing κύριε (kūrie, “Lord”) with אֲדוֹן (adōn, “Lord”) requires no explanation, the omission of definite articles in our reconstruction does warrant comment. In the two biblical titles קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ (“possessor of heaven and earth”) and עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ (“maker of heaven and earth”), “heaven” and “earth” are anarthrous, but when the LXX translators put these titles into Greek they consistently rendered “heaven” and “earth” with definite articles: ὃς ἔκτισεν τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν (“who created the heaven and the earth”; Gen 14:19, 22) and ὁ ποιήσας τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν (“the maker of the heaven and the earth”; Ps. 113:23; 120:2; 123:8; 133:3; 145:6). It is on the basis of these examples that we have reconstructed κύριε τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς as אֲדוֹן שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ (“Lord of heavens and earth”) instead of אֲדוֹן הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ (“Lord of the heavens and the earth”).

Note the juxtaposition of the titles אבי ואדוני (“my Father and my Lord”) in the Second Temple Jewish prayer preserved in 4Q460 5 I, 6, similar to the juxtaposition of πάτερ κύριε τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς (“Father, Lord of heaven and earth”) in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn.

L6 ὅτι ἔκρυψας ταῦτα (GR). We have preferred Matthew’s reading over Luke’s for GR, supposing that the author of Luke replaced the simple ἔκρυψας (ekrūpsas, “you hid”) with the compound form ἀπέκρυψας (apekrūpsas, “you hid away”) in Luke 10:21 as a minor stylistic improvement.[55]

כִּי הִסְתַּרְתָּ אֵלֶּה (HR). In the rabbinic prayers of thanksgiving cited above in Comment to L4 we encountered the formula -מוֹדֶה אֲנִי…שֶׁ (“I am giving thanks…because…”). We have chosen to reconstruct ὅτι (hoti, “that,” “because”) with כִּי (ki, “that,” “because”) on the basis of the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns, where we frequently encounter the formula אודכה אדוני כי (“I will give you thanks, my Lord, because…”).[56] In LXX ὅτι is often the translation of כִּי.‎[57]

הִסְתַּרְתָּ (HR). In Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl L5, we reconstructed κρύπτειν (krūptein, “to hide”) with טָמַן (ṭāman, “hide,” “bury”). Here we have reconstructed κρύπτειν with הִסְתִּיר (histir, “hide”) because the root ס-ת-ר is prominent in the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns,[58] whereas טָמַן occurs in the Thanksgiving Hymns only with negative connotations.[59] Another option for reconstructing κρύπτειν is the root ח-ב-ה/ח-ב-א.‎[60]
Compare our reconstruction of κρύπτειν with הִסְתִּיר in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn to this passage in the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns:

ולמען אשמתם סתרת מעין בינה וסוד אמת

…and because of their guilt you have concealed [סתרת] the source of understanding and the foundation of truth. (1QHa XIII, 25-26; DSS Study Edition)

אֵלֶּה (HR). In prose we would expect the definite direct object marker אֶת (’et) to appear before אֵלֶּה (’ēleh, “these”), but in Hebrew poetry, such as Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, the definite direct object marker was often omitted. Compare, for example, the following poetic passage in Job:

כַּמָּה לִי עֲוֹנוֹת וְחַטָּאוֹת פִּשְׁעִי וְחַטָּאתִי הֹדִיעֵנִי
לָמָּה פָנֶיךָ תַסְתִּיר וְתַחְשְׁבֵנִי לְאוֹיֵב לָךְ

How many iniquities and sins do I have? Make known to me my wrongful deeds and my sins.
Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy? (Job 13:23-24)

In the above example the definite direct object marker is omitted with the verb הִסְתִּיר (“hide”), just as we have omitted it in HR.

We have reconstructed ταῦτα (tavta, “these”) with אֵלֶּה, even though in MH אֵלֶּה had been replaced by אֵלּוּ (’ēlū, “these”).[61] Although Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn is direct speech, we believe it was composed in the style of the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns, which, like other Essene texts, adopted an archaic style of Hebrew.

To what does “these things” in the statement “you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding” (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21) refer? It is likely to be the “mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven,” which Jesus mentions in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying (Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10).[62] For reasons we will discuss in the commentary accompanying the reconstruction of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven pericope, we believe this saying may originally have followed Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.[63]

The hiding and revealing of mysteries is mentioned in many ancient Jewish sources, for instance:

τί δέ ἐστιν σοφία καὶ πῶς ἐγένετο, ἀπαγγελῶ καὶ οὐκ ἀποκρύψω ὑμῖν μυστήρια, ἀλλὰ ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς γενέσεως ἐξιχνιάσω καὶ θήσω εἰς τὸ ἐμφανὲς τὴν γνῶσιν αὐτῆς καὶ οὐ μὴ παροδεύσω τὴν ἀλήθειαν

What wisdom is and how she came into being I will declare, and I will hide no mysteries from you, but I will trace her out from her first beginning and bring knowledge of her into the open, and I shall not pass by the truth. (Wis. 6:22; NETS)

וכול דבר הנסתר מישראל ונמצאו לאיש הדורש אל יסתרהו מאלה

And every hidden thing from Israel that is found by the interpreter, he may not hide it from them. (1QS VIII, 11-12)

אלה ידעתי מבינתכה כיא גליתה אוזני לרזי פלא

These things I know through your knowledge, for you opened my ears to wondrous mysteries…. (1QHa XI, 21; DSS Study Edition)

ברכו המפלי גאות ומועדי עוז ידו [ל]חתום רזים ולגלות נסתרות להרים כושלים ונופליהמה [להשי]ב לכת קוי דעות ולהשפיל נועדות רום גאים עולם [להת]ם רזי ה[וד ]ולהק[ים פל]אות כבוד

Bless the one who does amazing wonders, and shows the might of his hand seal[ing] up mysteries and revealing hidden things, raising up those who stumble and those of them who fall, [chan]ging the behaviour of those who await knowledge and lowering the exalted meetings of the eternally proud, [con]firming maj[estic] mysteries and establishing glorious [wond]ers. (4QHa [4Q427] 7 I, 18-21; cf. 1QHa XXVI, 14-16; DSS Study Edition)

L7 ἀπὸ σοφῶν καὶ συνετῶν (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21). Ordinarily, wisdom and intelligence are positive qualities. Joseph the patriarch, for example, found favor with Pharaoh in Egypt because he was intelligent and wise (Gen. 41:33, 39). Likewise, Josephus related a story about how Zerubbabel was granted permission to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem because he gave an insightful answer to a question posed by the Persian king Darius:

“καὶ τοῦτ᾿”, ἔφη, “τοὐμὸν αἴτημά ἐστιν, ὅ μοι νῦν ἐπιτρέπεις αἰτήσασθαι κριθέντι σοφῷ καὶ συνετῷ.”

“And this,” he said, “is the request which you have just permitted me to make for being judged wise and intelligent.” (Ant. 11:58; Loeb)

In prophetic literature, however, the “wise and intelligent” are sometimes subject to critique, for instance:

וְאָבְדָה חָכְמַת חֲכָמָיו וּבִינַת נְבֹנָיו תִּסְתַּתָּר

…and the wisdom of its wise men will perish, and the understanding of its discerning ones will be hidden. (Isa. 29:14)

καὶ ἀπολῶ τὴν σοφίαν τῶν σοφῶν καὶ τὴν σύνεσιν τῶν συνετῶν κρύψω

…and I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the understanding of the intelligent I will hide. (Isa. 29:14; cf. 1 Cor. 1:19)

Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn bears a resemblance to this verse in Isaiah and to one other passage in the prophetic books, which, however, does not imply a critique of the wise and intelligent:

מִי חָכָם וְיָבֵן אֵלֶּה נָבוֹן וְיֵדָעֵם כִּי יְשָׁרִים דַּרְכֵי יי וְצַדִּקִים יֵלְכוּ בָם וּפֹשְׁעִים יִכָּשְׁלוּ בָם

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is understanding, let him know them, because the ways of the LORD are straight and righteous persons walk in them, but wicked persons stumble in them. (Hos. 14:10)

τίς σοφὸς καὶ συνήσει ταῦτα; ἢ συνετὸς καὶ ἐπιγνώσεται αὐτά; διότι εὐθεῖαι αἱ ὁδοὶ τοῦ κυρίου, καὶ δίκαιοι πορεύσονται ἐν αὐταῖς, οἱ δὲ ἀσεβεῖς ἀσθενήσουσιν ἐν αὐταῖς

Who is wise and will understand these things, or prudent and will comprehend them? For the ways of the Lord are upright, and the just will walk in them, but the impious will be weak in them. (Hos. 14:10; NETS)

Whereas Isa. 29:14 speaks of hiding understanding, which is similar to “you have hidden…from the wise and intelligent” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Hos. 14:10 laconically refers to “these things,” just as Jesus does in L6. Perhaps Jesus intended to allude to both of these verses.

Is it possible to identify who are the “wise and intelligent” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn? Although most scholars assume that the “wise and intelligent” refers to those of Jesus’ contemporaries who were wise in their own eyes, but who remained unreceptive to Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of Heaven,[64] another interpretation emerges from the suggestion that Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying and the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement originally belonged to the same literary unit.[65] In the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement Jesus contrasted his apostles with the prophets of old:

Many prophets and messengers wanted to see what you are seeing, but did not see it. (Matt. 13:17; Luke 10:24)[66]

Drawing of an eye by Thomas Holloway (ca. 1794). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement is not an expression of sectarian dualism contrasting insiders with outsiders, the contrast is rather temporal—the apostles were privileged to see in their time what the prophets had not been able to witness in theirs.[67] Working backward from the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement to the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, the contrast is between the apostles, for whom the mysteries are disclosed, and the “others,” for whom the mysteries are concealed “in parables.” According to rabbinic sources, the Israelites on the shores of the Red Sea saw clearly, since God’s redeeming power makes the Kingdom of Heaven manifest, but in the days of the prophets God’s purposes were cloaked in parables.[68] Since the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven was the central component of Jesus’ message, it appears that in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying the contrast is again not between insiders and outsiders, but between the manifestations of the Kingdom of Heaven in the present that were taking place with and through Jesus’ followers, versus the hiddenness of the Kingdom of Heaven, even from the prophets, in prior generations. Taking a final step backward to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, the contrast between the “wise and intelligent” and the “simple” may not be between two contemporaneous groups, rather the contrast may once again be temporal.[69] In other words, “these things” were hidden from even the most deserving members of previous generations, but now they are revealed even to Jesus’ simple followers in the present time.

Understood in this way, Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn does not disparage the “wise and intelligent” any more than the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement disparages the “prophets and messengers.”[70] To the contrary, in ancient Jewish sources there is a widespread belief that the generations of the biblical period were more meritorious than the present generation.[71] Facilitating our interpretation of the contrast between the “simple” and the “wise and intelligent” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn is the pairing of prophets and the wise in ancient Jewish sources.[72]

If this interpretation of the contrast between the “wise and understanding” and the “simple” is correct, then Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn is akin to passages such as the following:

The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation…. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10, 12; RSV)

And all these [figures from the biblical period mentioned earlier in the chapter—DNB and JNT]…did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Heb. 11:39-40)

מֵחֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים (HR). In LXX the pairing of חָכָם (ḥāchām, “wise”) with נָבוֹן (nāvōn, “intelligent”), in either order, is translated in a variety of ways. Joseph is described in Hebrew as אִישׁ נָבוֹן וְחָכָם (’ish nāvōn veḥāchām, “an intelligent and wise man”) and in Greek as ἄνθρωπον φρόνιμον καὶ συνετόν (anthrōpon fronimon kai sūneton, “a wise and intelligent man”; Gen. 41:33; cf. 41:39). The heads of Israel’s tribes are referred to as אֲנָשִׁים חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים וִידֻעִים (anāshim ḥachāmim ūnevonim vidu‘im, “wise and intelligent and knowledgeable men”) in Hebrew and as ἄνδρας σοφοὺς καὶ ἐπιστήμονας καὶ συνετοὺς (andras sofous kai epistēmonas kai sūnetous, “wise and understanding and intelligent men”; Deut. 1:13) in Greek. Moses assured Israel that if they keep the commands of the Torah the Gentiles will conclude חָכָם וְנָבוֹן הַגּוֹי הַגָּדוֹל הַזֶּה (ḥāchām venāvōn hagōy hagādōl hazeh, “this great nation is wise and intelligent”), which LXX renders as σοφὸς καὶ ἐπιστήμων (sofos kai epistēmōn, “wise and understanding”; Deut. 4:6). In answer to his prayer, the LORD promised to grant Solomon “a wise and understanding heart” (לֵב חָכָם וְנָבוֹן; lēv ḥāchām venāvōn; 1 Kgs. 3:12), which the LXX translators rendered καρδίαν φρονίμην καὶ σοφήν (kardian fronimēn kai sofēn, “a prudent and wise heart”; NETS; 3 Kgdms. 3:12).

The coupling of חָכָם with נָבוֹן is also attested in post-biblical Jewish literature, for instance:

ויקם מאהרן נבונים ומישראל חכמים

And he raised up from Aaron understanding persons [נבונים] and from Israel wise people [חכמים]. (CD-A VI, 2-3)

אלה ה<א>נשים הנקראים לעצת היחד מבן עש [–] כול ח[כמי ]העדה והנבונים והידעים תמימי הדרך

These are the men who are to be summoned to the community council from…all the wi[se men] of the congregation, the intelligent and those learned in perfect behaviour. (1QSa I, 27-28; DSS Study Edition)

מה בין חכם לנבון, חכם דומה לשולחני עשיר כשמביאים לו לראות רואה וכשאין מביאים לו לראות מוציא משלו ורואה, נבון דומה לשולחני עני כשמביאים לו לראות רואה כשאין לו לראות יושב ותוהה

What is the difference between a wise man [חכם] and an understanding one [נבון]? A wise man [חכם] is like a rich money-changer: when people bring to him coins for examination, he examines them; when they do not, he takes out his own coins and examines them. An understanding man [נבון] is like a poor money-changer: when people bring to him coins for examination, he examines them; when they do not, he is at a loss. (Sifre Deut. §13 [ed. Finkelstein, 22]; trans. Hammer)

The Qumran scroll of Thanksgiving Hymns (1QHa) as it appeared at the beginning of its unrolling. Image courtesy of the Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum.

L8 וְגִלִּיתָ אוֹתָם לִפְתָאיִם (HR). In LXX ἀποκαλύπτειν (apokalūptein, “to uncover,” “to reveal”) is usually the translation of גִּלָּה (gilāh, “uncover,” “reveal”).[73] The revelation of hidden things (נִסְתָרוֹת; nistārōt) and of mysteries (רָזִים; rāzim) is a prominent theme in the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns (see above, Comment to L6). Compare Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn to the following passage in the Thanksgiving Hymns:

אודכה אלי…כי הודעתני סוד אמת…[ונס]תרותיכה גליתה לי

I give you thanks, O my God,…for you have made known to me the foundation of truth…and your hidden things you revealed to me. (1QHa XIX, 15-17)

Luz noted an important distinction between the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns and Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn: whereas the author of the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns thanked God for revelations that he received, Jesus thanked God for revelations that were given to others.[74]

לִפְתָאיִם (HR). Although in LXX νήπιος (nēpios, “infant”) is usually the translation of עוֹלֵל (‘ōlēl, “infant”),[75] sometimes νήπιος is the translation of פֶּתִי (peti, “simpleton”), especially in wisdom literature, for instance:

עֵדוּת יי נֶאֱמָנָה מַחְכִּימַת פֶּתִי

The testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Ps. 19:8)

ἡ μαρτυρία κυρίου πιστή, σοφίζουσα νήπια

The testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making infants wise. (Ps. 18:8)[76]

Since the contrast in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn is between the νήπιοι and the “wise and intelligent,” it is clear that νήπιος should be understood according to its usage in LXX wisdom literature, and that it should accordingly be reconstructed with פֶּתִי.‎[77]

In a fragmentary section of the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns we encounter the phrase ולהבין פותאים (“to make the simple understand”; 1QHa V, 2), and in a better-preserved section of the same scroll we read:

ותעמד פעמי בגבול רשעה ואהיה פח לפושעים ומרפא לכול שבי פשע ערמה לפתיים ויצר סמוך לכול נמהרי לב ותשימני חרפה וקלס לבוגדים סוד אמת ובינה לישרי דרך

…you made my steps sturdy on the frontier of evil, so that I became a trap for offenders, but a medicine for all who turn away from offense, a wit for simple folk [לפתיים], and a staunch purpose for the timorous of heart. You have set me as a reproach and a mockery of traitors, a foundation of truth and knowledge for those on the straight path. (1QHa X, 8-10; DSS Study Edition)

In some DSS texts פתאים sometimes appears as a self-designation for members of the sect (cf. 1QpHab XII, 4).[78] Jesus sometimes reapplied titles the Essenes used for themselves to his own disciples, as when he referred to his own followers as the “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), an exact equivalent to עניי רוח (aniyē rūaḥ, “poor of spirit”) found in DSS (1QM XIV, 7; cf. ענוי רוח [‘anvē rūaḥ, “meek of spirit”] in 1QHa VI, 3).[79] Here it appears that Jesus applied the Essene self-designation פְּתָאיִם to his twelve apostles.

L9 ναὶ ὁ πατήρ (Matt. 11:26; Luke 10:21). This is the only instance in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke where ὁ πατήρ (ho patēr, “the father”) has a vocative function.[80] Elsewhere in NT when ὁ πατήρ is used as an address it appears as the translation of αββα (abba, “father”; Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). In MH אַבָּא (’abā’, “father”) came to be used as a form of address. Above in L4 we reconstructed the vocative πάτερ (pater) with אָבִי; here we must ask ourselves why the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua chose to write ὁ πατήρ instead of πάτερ as he had done a few lines earlier. Although it is possible that he chose to render the same address in two different ways in very close proximity, such an explanation seems unlikely and unnecessary, since, as Paul’s letters attest, the vocative ὁ πατήρ was understood to be the equivalent of אַבָּא. Although we cannot endorse the view that Jesus always or even regularly referred to God as “Abba,”[81] there is no reason why he could not have done so on this occasion.[82] “Abba” was used in MH as a respectful form of address to one’s father, as we see in the following examples:

אָמַ′ לוֹ אֲבָּא פַּקֵּד עָלַיִ לַחֲבֵירֶךָ

He said to him, “Father [אֲבָּא], commend me to your colleagues.” (m. Edu. 5:7)

מעשה בחסיד אחד ששכח עומר בתוך שדהו ואמ′ לבנו צא והקריב עלי פר לעולה ופר לשלמים אמ′ לו אבא מה ראית לשמוח מצוה זו מכל מצות האמורות בתורה אמ′ לו כל מצות שבתורה נתן לנו המקום לדעתנו זו שלא דעתנו שאילו עשינוה כרצון לפני המקום לא באה מצוה זו לידינו

An anecdote about a certain Hasid who forgot a sheaf in the middle of his field. And he said to his son, “Go out and sacrifice a bull for a whole burnt offering and a bull for a peace offering for me.”[83] His son said, “Abba, what have you seen that causes you to rejoice over this commandment more than all the other commandments that are stated in the Torah?” He said to him, “All the commands that are in the Torah the Omnipresent One gave to us for our conscious intention, but this is not for our conscious intention. For even though we did it according to the desire of the Omnipresent One, this command did not come about by our own volition.”[84] (t. Peah 3:8; Vienna MS)

מעשה שאמר רבי יהודה לבנו צא והבא לי קציעות מן החבית אמר לו אבה של דבש היא

It happened that Rabbi Yehudah said to his son, “Go out and bring me dried figs from the jar.” He said to him, “Father [אבה, a variant spelling of אַבָּא], it is full of honey.” (Sifre Deut. §316 [ed. Finkelstein, 358])

א″ר יצחק בשעה שבקש אברהם לעקוד יצחק בנו אמר לו אבא בחור אני וחוששני שמא יזדעזע גופי מפחדה של סכין ואצערך ושמא תפסל השחיטה ולא תעלה לך לקרבן

Rabbi Yitzhak said, “In the hour that Abraham sought to bind Isaac, his son said to him, ‘Father [אבא], I am a young man and I am afraid that my body might tremble from fear of the knife and I might grieve you and you might invalidate the slaughtering and your offering will not be accepted.’” (Gen. Rab. 56:8)

הֵן אַבָּא (HR). In LXX the affirmation ναί (nai, “yes”) is rare.[85] Where there is a Hebrew equivalent, that word is אֲבָל (avāl, “but”; Gen. 17:19; 42:21) or הִנֵּה (hinēh, “behold”; Isa. 48:7). We have reconstructed ναί with הֵן (hēn), a word that in BH usually means “behold,” but which sometimes approaches the meaning “yes,”[86] and which in MH had definitely attained this meaning.[87] In its concluding affirmation Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn appears to temporarily slip out of Qumran-style Hebrew into a style closer to MH.

L10-11 ὅτι οὕτως εὐδοκία ἐγένετο ἔμπροσθέν σου (GR). Moulton and Howard referred to the phrase “good pleasure it was before you” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn as “undeniably Semitic.”[88]

כִּי כֵּן רָצוֹן הוּא לְפָנֶיךָ (HR). In rabbinic prayers it is common to find petitions that begin with the phrase יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ (lit., “may it be desire from before you”),[89] and on the basis of this formula we might have reconstructed L10-11 as כִּי כֵּן הָיָה רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ (lit., “for so it was desire from before you”), but such a reconstruction faces a few obstacles:

  1. In Matt. 11:26 and Luke 10:21 we find not a petition, but a declarative statement, which makes the rabbinic formula an inexact parallel to the conclusion of Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn.
  2. The word order εὐδοκία ἐγένετο (“desire [it] was”) is the opposite of הָיָה רָצוֹן. It is of course possible that the Greek translator of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua changed the word order, but a reconstruction that has the same word order in Hebrew as we find in the Greek text is preferable.
  3. In LXX ἔμπροσθεν + personal pronoun is almost always the translation of לִפְנֵי + pronominal suffix,[90] whereas מִלִּפְנֵי + pronominal suffix is never translated in LXX as ἔμπροσθεν + personal pronoun without the addition of a preposition meaning “from.”[91] Since there is no preposition in Matt. 11:26 and Luke 10:21 equivalent to “from,” the evidence from LXX points to לְפָנֶיךָ (“before you”) for HR, rather than מִלְּפָנֶיךָ (“from before you”) as in the rabbinic formula.[92]

The reconstruction proposed here, כִּי כֵּן רָצוֹן הוּא לְפָנֶיךָ (lit., “because thus desire it [is] before you,” i.e., “for you desire it to be this way”), avoids the difficulties indicated above and is supported by the following evidence:

  1. In LXX ὅτι οὕτως (“because thus”) is the translation of כִּי כֵּן in Judg. 14:10; 1 Kgdms. 5:7; 2 Kgdms. 3:9; 13:18; 3 Kgdms. 1:30; 2:7; 13:9; 2 Chr. 8:14; Ps. 64[65]:10; Job 9:2.[93]
  2. In LXX εὐδοκία (evdokia, “good will”) is relatively rare in books also found in MT, but when it does occur it almost always occurs as the translation of רָצוֹן (rātzōn, “desire”).[94]
  3. In LXX the construction noun + εἶναι (einai, “to be”) + preposition is the translation of noun + personal pronoun + לִפְנֵי + pronominal suffix/noun (e.g., רָצוֹן הוּא לְפָנֶיךָ, as in HR) in the following examples:

διαθήκη ἁλὸς αἰωνίου ἐστὶν ἔναντι κυρίου

…a covenant of eternal salt [i.e., an eternal covenant—DNB and JNT] [it] is before the Lord…. (Num. 18:19)

בְּרִית מֶלַח עוֹלָם הִוא לִפְנֵי יי

…a covenant of salt forever [i.e., an eternal covenant—DNB and JNT] it [is] before the LORD…. (Num. 18:19)

ὅτι βδέλυγμά ἐστιν ἐναντίον κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ σου

…for an abomination [it] is before the Lord your God…. (Deut. 24:4)

כִּי תוֹעֵבָה הִוא לִפְנֵי יי

…for an abomination it [is] before the LORD…. (Deut. 24:4)

ὑγρὸς γάρ ἐστιν ὑπὸ ἡλίου

For a fresh [plant he] is under [the] sun…. (Job 8:16)

רָטֹב הוּא לִפְנֵי שָׁמֶשׁ

A fresh [plant] he [is] before [the] sun…. (Job 8:16)

Redaction Analysis

The versions of Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn in Matthew and Luke are nearly identical. Their only disagreement in the hymn itself is in L6 where Matthew has ἔκρυψας (“you hid”) but Luke reads ἀπέκρυψας (“you hid away”). Probably the author of Luke is responsible for this change. Even in their narrative introductions, where there is the least agreement, Matthew and Luke are still fairly similar. Both open with a time marker (L1) and introduce the hymn with εἶπεν (“he said”; L3). Luke describes Jesus’ elation by means of the Holy Spirit. Although many scholars assume that Luke added these details, rather than supposing that Matthew omitted them, we have found that Luke’s introduction reconstructs easily into Hebrew and that the mention of the Holy Spirit is culturally appropriate to a first-century Jewish context.

Results of This Research

1. Would addressing God as “my father” have been considered offensive or blasphemous in first-century Jewish culture? Unfortunately, the misconception that Jesus somehow offended the religious norms of ancient Judaism by addressing God as “my father” persists, despite the discovery of prayers from before the time of Jesus in which God is addressed as “my father.” “My father” may not have been the most common address in Second Temple Jewish prayer, but it was not unheard of and it certainly was not offensive or blasphemous, as the examples from DSS attest.

2. Who are the “wise and intelligent” and who are the “simple” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn? Read in isolation, it would be impossible to identify the “wise and intelligent” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn with certainty. Read in conjunction with the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying and the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement, however, it is possible to identify the “wise and understanding” as the worthy representatives of prior generations who were not privileged to see what even Jesus’ simple followers were permitted to witness in the present time. Understood in this way, Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn is not an expression of sectarian ideology pitting the insider against the outsider, it is rather a celebration that the long-awaited promises of God for Israel’s redemption are finally beginning to be fulfilled.

It is ironic, therefore, that Jesus referred to the beneficiaries of the divine revelations as the “simple,” since this is a term the Essenes sometimes applied to themselves. Jesus appears to have taken over this Essene self-designation and reapplied it to his own followers in a non-sectarian fashion, just as he took over the thanksgiving hymn genre known from the Dead Sea Scrolls to express his own gratitude for what God was doing in their midst. The ironic usage of sectarian terminology to express his unique understanding of God’s redemptive purposes is characteristic of Jesus’ teachings.

3. Did Jesus ever address God as “Abba”? Some scholars have claimed that Jesus always addressed God as אַבָּא (’abā’, “father”) and that this proves how much more intimately Jesus related to God than did his contemporaries, and that, since “Abba” is an Aramaic word, Jesus must have spoken Aramaic. Let’s take these points one by one.

Supposing that whenever Jesus addressed God as “father” the term he used was always “Abba” glosses over the fact that in the Greek texts of the Synoptic Gospels Jesus addresses God as “father” in a few different ways, including πάτερ (pater, “father”), πάτερ μου (pater mou, “my father”) and ὁ πατήρ (ho patēr, “the father”). Jesus also instructed his disciples to address God as πάτερ ἡμῶν (pater hēmōn, “our father”). Only one of these addresses, ὁ πατήρ (“the father”), is equated with “Abba” in the New Testament (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). It is not the case, as some scholars used to assert, that the form אָבִי (’āvi, “my father”) had become obsolete by the time of Jesus, so that he had no choice but to address God as “Abba.” Why, then, do some scholars claim that all these forms of address reflect an original “Abba”?

Since the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures usually rendered אָבִי (“my father”) as πάτερ (“father”), and sometimes as πάτερ μου (“my father”), we see no reason why πάτερ and πάτερ μου on the lips of Jesus should be reconstructed as anything other than אָבִי. On the other hand, claiming that Jesus always addressed God as אָבִי would be going too far in the opposite direction. New Testament authors attest that ὁ πατήρ used as a vocative is equivalent to “Abba.” There are two occasions when Jesus is said to have addressed God as ὁ πατήρ, once in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn and once in Mark’s version of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane (Mark 14:36). In the Matthean and Lukan parallels to Mark 14:36 we do not find “Abba,” which leads us to suspect that it was the author of Mark who put “Abba” into Jesus’ mouth in his prayer in Gethsemane, but in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn Luke and Matthew both have the address ὁ πατήρ, which means this was the address used in the non-Markan pre-synoptic source shared by the authors of Luke and Matthew (i.e., Anth.). Since just a few lines earlier Jesus had addressed God as πάτερ (= אָבִי), it is reasonable to suppose that something different must have stood behind ὁ πατήρ, and since Paul tells us “Abba” is the equivalent of ὁ πατήρ, it seems that on at least one occasion Jesus probably did address God as “Abba.”

Does his use of “Abba” prove that Jesus had a more intimate and personal relationship with God than his contemporaries? The answer must depend on which contemporaries we have in mind. There were some first-century Jews who had a more formal and less familiar relationship with God than Jesus did. Such persons might not have addressed God as “Abba.” On the other hand, some first-century Jews did experience a familial relationship with God. Among these were the pietists known as the Hasidim. We know that some people addressed God as אָבִי (“my father”) in their prayers, and it is hard to see how addressing God as אַבָּא (“Abba”) would have been perceived differently, since “Abba” was a respectful form of address in Mishnaic Hebrew. Addressing God as “Abba,” therefore, does not distinguish Jesus from Judaism, it rather helps us to distinguish Jesus’ place within Judaism, by highlighting his similarity to individuals like Honi the Circle-drawer, Hanina ben Dosa and other first-century Jewish pietists.

Finally, does Jesus’ use of “Abba” prove that he spoke Aramaic? Not at all. “Abba” was used in Hebrew and Aramaic, therefore Jesus’ use of “Abba” cannot help us determine which of the two Semitic languages Jesus may have spoken. Probably Jesus knew and used both languages, and maybe Greek, as well.

Conclusion

In Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn the Holy Spirit inspires Jesus to utter an Essene-style hymn that expresses gratitude for the divine revelation that was being disclosed to his followers. It is probable that the mention of the Holy Spirit and rejoicing in the introduction to Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn is an allusion to Psalm 51, which mentions the Holy Spirit as a harbinger of the joy of salvation. The content of Jesus’ hymn pertains to the wonderful privilege of seeing God’s redemption, which had been concealed from even the most deserving members of prior generations, being revealed to Jesus’ own simple followers in the present time. Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn also hints at Jesus’ intimate relationship with God, whom he addresses as “Father.”

The caves at Qumran. Photo courtesy of Joshua N. Tilton.

 


 

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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] On the inclusion of the Woes on Galilean Villages in the pre-synoptic version of the Sending discourse, see Arland D. Jacobson, “The Literary Unity of Q LC 10,2-16 and Parallels as a Test Case,” in Logia Les Paroles de Jésus—The Sayings of Jesus: Mémorial Joseph Coppens (ed. Joël Delobel; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1982), 419-423, esp. 421. Cf. Richard A. Edwards, “Matthew’s Use of Q in Chapter 11,” also in Logia Les Paroles de Jésus—The Sayings of Jesus: Mémorial Joseph Coppens, 257-275, esp. 262.
  • [4] Among the reasons why Woes on Galilean Villages was probably not part of the original “Mission of the Twelve” complex are the following:

    1. The inclusion of Woes on Galilean Villages in the Sending discourse creates a dramatic shift from addressing the apostles (insiders) to addressing unrepentant villages (outsiders).
    2. In the Sending discourse repentance is not part of the apostles’ message, but in Woes on Galilean Villages Jesus upbraids the people for not repenting.
    3. Capernaum and Bethsaida (two of the three towns mentioned in Woes on Galilean Villages) are places that Jesus had visited himself, but the Sending discourse is about preparing the apostles to enter places Jesus had not visited.

     

    On the other hand, there are thematic reasons why the Anthologizer might have included Woes on Galilean Villages where he did in the Sending discourse:

    1. Jesus had just given instructions to the apostles regarding how they were to deal with towns that did not receive them, while Woes on Galilean Villages is about towns that did not receive him.
    2. Jesus said that a town that failed to receive the apostles would be subject to judgment, while in Woes on Galilean Villages Jesus pronounces judgments against specific towns in the Galilee.
    3. Sodom, mentioned in the instructions to the apostles, was a Gentile city known in Scripture for its wickedness. Tyre and Sidon, mentioned in Woes on Galilean Villages, were also Gentile cities known in Scripture for their wickedness.

     

    In the LOY Map we have suggested a different placement of the Woes on Galilean Villages saying, a placement that might have been its original context in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

  • [5] See Davies-Allison, 2:273.
  • [6] Among the scholars who regard the mention of the Holy Spirit as a secondary Lukan addition are T. W. Manson, 79; Marshall, 433; Fitzmyer, 2:867. One of the reasons scholars often give for regarding the mention of the Holy Spirit as a Lukan addition is the author of Luke’s overall interest in the Holy Spirit. Yet Rodd has noted that, with the exception of the infancy narratives where the Holy Spirit is mentioned frequently, the Gospel of Luke has no more references to the Holy Spirit than Matthew. See C. S. Rodd, “Spirit or Finger,” Expository Times 72.5 (1961): 157-158. If Luke copied the infancy narratives from Anth., as Lindsey believed, then it may well be that the role of the Holy Spirit in narrative portions of Luke are a reflection of Luke’s sources rather than the result of Luke’s editorial activity.
  • [7] On the Holy Spirit in DSS, see F. F. Bruce, “Holy Spirit in the Qumran Texts,” Annual of Leeds University Oriental Society 6 (1969): 49-55. On the Holy Spirit in rabbinic Judaism, see Aaron Singer, “Holy Spirit,” in Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought (ed. Arthur A. Cohen and Paul Mendes-Flohr; New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1987), 409-415.
  • [8] Superhuman knowledge imparted by the Holy Spirit is found in other Qumran texts as well, for example:

    אלה ידענו [בא]שר [חנו]את[נו רוח] הקודש

    These things we know, [bec]ause you have [favou]red [us with] the holy [spirit.] (4Q506 131-132 I, 10-11; DSS Study Edition)

  • [9] One might assume that since this conversation took place between a Jew and a Gentile the conversation must have been conducted in Greek or Aramaic, even though it was recorded in Hebrew, since it is highly improbable that Gentiles would have learned Hebrew. But Jastrow (724) points out that מַבְגַּאי (“Mavgai”) occurs as the name of certain Samaritans in rabbinic sources. The rabbinic sages considered Samaritans to be Gentiles, but Samaritans did speak Hebrew.
  • [10] The sages also appealed to the Holy Spirit to explain how the Israelites knew what to demand from their former oppressors when they “plundered” the Egyptians (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 13 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:73]), and how Rahab the prostitute knew the pursuers would return in three days (Sifre Deut. §22 [ed. Finkelstein, 33]).
  • [11] On the Holy Spirit as the source of prophecy, see 1QS VIII, 16; t. Sot. 13:3; Sifre Deut. §176, on Deut. 18:18 (ed. Finkelstein, 221); y. Sanh. 10:2 [51a].
  • [12] According to T. W. Manson (79), “The phrase ‘at that season’ in Mt. is one of Mt.’s editorial phrases (cf. Mk. 233 with Mt. 121, and Mk. 614 with Mt. 141).”
  • [13] Examples of ἐν τούτῳ τῷ καιρῷ in the works of Josephus include Ant. 12:362; 16:6.
  • [14] Examples of κατ᾿ ἐκεῖνον τὸν καιρόν in the works of Josephus are found in J.W. 7:54; Ant. 2:205; 5:121; 6:30; 8:155, 206, 232, 266, 400; 9:88, 97, 229; 10:228; 11:32, 77; 12:169, 223; 13:304; 15:224, 425.
  • [15] Examples of κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν καιρόν in the works of Josephus are found in Life §112; J.W. 1:218; 2:309; Ant. 6:213, 271, 292; 7:21; 9:239; 11:313; 12:196; 13:395, 419; 17:89, 224; 20:169, 179; Ag. Ap. 1:136. On the phrase κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν καιρόν as a transition marker between Josephus’ sources, see Daniel R. Schwartz, “ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΥΤΟΝ ΤΟΝ ΚΑΙΡΟΝ: Josephus’ Source on Agrippa II,” Jewish Quarterly Review 72.4 (1982): 241-268.
  • [16] In NT the phrase ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ occurs exclusively in the writings of Luke (Luke 10:21; 12:12; 13:31; 20:19). Only in Dan. 5:5 do we have a phrase similar to that in Luke 10:12, where we find ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐκείνῃ (en avtē tē hōra ekeinē, “in that very hour”). In Dan. 5:5 the underlying Aramaic text reads בַּהּ שַׁעֲתָה (bah sha‘atāh).
  • [17] See Plummer, Luke, 274; Moule, 93; Fitzmyer, 1:117-118.
  • [18] See T. W. Manson, 79.
  • [19] Among the multitude of instances in rabbinic sources, examples of בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה are found in m. Ber. 5:3; m. Peah 5:4; m. Sanh. 3:4; t. Shab. 13:3, 14; t. Pes. 4:14; t. Sot. 6:5 (2xx).
  • [20] Examples of בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה in rabbinic sources include:

    באותה השעה הציצו מלאכי השרת וגו′‏

    At that time [באותה השעה] the ministering angels came forth…. (t. Sot. 6:5; Vienna MS)

    אָמַ′ ר′ אֱלְעָזָר בֵּרְ′ צָדוֹק מַעֲשֶׂה בְּבַת כֹּהֵן שֶׁזִּינַּת וְהִקִיפוּהָא חֲבִילֵּי זְמוֹרוֹת וּשְׂרָפוּהָ אָמְרוּ לוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בֵית דִּין שֶׁבְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָׁעָה בָקִי

    Rabbi Eleazar ben Rabbi Zadok said, “An anecdote about a priest’s daughter who committed sexual transgression and they surrounded her with bundles of branches and burned her.” They said to him, “[This was only] because at that time [בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָׁעָה] there was no competent court.” (m. Sanh. 7:2)

    בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה בָּכָה ר′ יִשְׁמָעֵא′ וְאָמַ′ בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵ′ נָאוֹת הֵן אֶלָּא שֶׁהַעֲנִיּוּת מְנַוְּולַתָּן

    At that time [בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה] Rabbi Yishmael wept and said, “The daughters of Israel are comely, except that poverty has disfigured them.” (m. Ned. 9:10)

    This final example offers a formal parallel to Luke’s version of Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn. In Luke the Thanksgiving Hymn is introduced with the phrase “at that time,” then Jesus expresses a powerful emotion (joy), which prompts a saying, while in m. Ned. 9:10 we find “at that time,” Rabbi Yishmael expressing a powerful emotion (crying), which prompts a saying.

  • [21] For more on the blended style of Hebrew in which we believe the Hebrew Life of Yeshua was likely composed, and the baraita about King Yannai, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction’ Addendum: Linguistic Features of the Baraita in b. Kid. 66a.”
  • [22] See Metzger, 152.
  • [23] The LXX translators chose to render שִׁעֲשַׁע and הִשְׁתַּעֲשַׁע, which only occur in MT 6xx, with μελετᾶν (meletan, “to study”; Ps. 118[119]:16, 47, 70), παρακαλεῖν (parakalein, “to comfort”; Isa. 66:12) or ἀγαπᾶν (agapan, “to love”; Ps. 93[94]:19). In Isa. 11:8 the LXX translators omitted translating שִׁעֲשַׁע altogether.
  • [24] See Dos Santos, 36 (גִּיל). In LXX ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι is the translation of גָּל in 1 Chr. 16:31; Ps. 2:11; 9:15; 12[13]:5, 6; 13[14]:7; 15[16]:9; 20[21]:2; 30[31]:8; 31[32]:11; 34[35]:9; 47[48]:12; 50[51]:10: 52[53]:7; 88[89]:17; 95[96]:11; 96[97]:1, 8; 117[118]:24; 149:2; Song 1:4; Isa. 25:9; 35:1, 2; 49:13; 61:10; 65:19.
  • [25] Examples of גָּל +‎ -בְּ include:

    אָגִילָה בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ

    …I will rejoice in your salvation. (Ps. 9:15)

    ἀγαλλιάσομαι ἐπὶ [ἐν—Alexandrinus] τῷ σωτηρίῳ σου

    …I will rejoice over [in—Alexandrinus] your salvation. (Ps. 9:15)

    וְנַפְשִׁי תָּגִיל בַּיי

    And my soul will rejoice in the LORD…. (Ps. 35:9)

    ἡ δὲ ψυχή μου ἀγαλλιάσεται ἐπὶ [ἐν—Sinaiticus] τῷ κυρίῳ

    And my soul will rejoice over [in—Sinaiticus] the Lord…. (Ps. 34:9)

    בְּשִׁמְךָ יְגִילוּן

    In your name they will rejoice…. (Ps. 89:17)

    καὶ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου ἀγαλλιάσονται

    And in your name they will rejoice…. (Ps. 88:17)

    וְגַלְתִּי בִירוּשָׁלִַם

    And I will rejoice in Jerusalem…. (Isa. 65:19)

    καὶ ἀγαλλιάσομαι ἐπὶ [ἐν—Sinaiticus] Ιερουσαλημ

    And I will rejoice over [in—Sinaiticus] Jerusalem…. (Isa. 65:19)

    ונגילה בעז[רתכה ובש]לומכה

    And let us rejoice in [your] he[lp and in] your [pe]ace. (1QM XIII, 13)

    וכול בני אמתו יגילו בדעת עולמים

    …and all the sons of his truth will rejoice in eternal knowledge. (1QM XVII, 8)

  • [26] Bruce, “Holy Spirit in the Qumran Texts,” 52. In addition to joy and the phrase “your Holy Spirit,” both texts also share the adjectival participle נָכוֹן (nāchōn, “correct”; Ps. 51:12; 1QHa XVII, 32) and the verb סָמַךְ (sāmach, “support,” “uphold”; Ps. 51:14; 1QHa XVII, 32).
  • [27] Note that in LXX שָׂשׂ is translated with ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι in Ps. 18[19]:6; 39[40]:17; 69[70]:5; 118[119]:162. Examples of שָׂשׂ with -בְּ include the following:

    שׂוֹשׂ אָשִׂישׂ בַּיי

    I will surely rejoice in the LORD…. (Isa. 61:10)

    καὶ εὐφροσύνῃ εὐφρανθήσονται ἐπὶ κύριον

    And they will rejoice with joy over the Lord…. (Isa. 61:10)

    וְשַׂשְׂתִּי בְעַמִּי

    …and I will rejoice in my people…. (Isa. 65:19)

    καὶ εὐφρανθήσομαι ἐπὶ τῷ λαῷ μου

    …and I will rejoice in my people…. (Isa. 65:19)

    תָּשִׂישׂ בִּישׁוּעָתוֹ

    [My soul]…will rejoice in his salvation. (Ps. 35:9)

    τερφθήσεται ἐπὶ τῷ σωτηρίῳ αὐτοῦ

    [My soul]…will delight over his salvation. (Ps. 34:9)

    יָשִׂישׂוּ וְיִשְׂמְחוּ בְּךָ כָּל־מְבַקְשֶׁיך

    May they delight and rejoice in you, all those who seek you…. (Ps. 40[39]:17; cf. Ps. 70[69]:5)

    ἀγαλλιάσαιντο καὶ εὐφρανθείησαν ἐπὶ σοὶ πάντες οἱ ζητοῦντές σε

    May they delight and rejoice in you, all those who seek you…. (Ps. 40[39]:17; cf. Ps. 70[69]:5)

    וְיָשִׂישׂוּ בְשִׂמְחָה

    …they will rejoice with happiness. (Ps. 68[67]:4)

    τερφθήτωσαν ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ

    …they will rejoice with happiness. (Ps. 68[67]:4)

    וְיָשִׂישׂ בְּכֹחַ

    …and he will delight in strength…. (Job 39:21)

    כי שש לבי בבריתכה

    …for my heart delighted in your covenant. (1QHa XVIII, 30)

  • [28] Examples of בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ (berūa haqodesh, “by/in the Holy Spirit”) and close equivalents include:

    היאה מדרש התורה א[ש]ר צוה ביד מושה לעשות ככול הנגלה עת בעת וכאשר גלו הנביאים ברוח קודשו

    This is the study of the Torah, which was commanded by the hand of Moses, to do according to all that is revealed in every age, and as the prophets revealed by his Holy Spirit…. (1QS VIII, 15-16)

    יחונכה ברוח קודש

    May he grace you with [the] Holy Spirit. (1QSb II, 24)

    ולהתחזק ברוח קודשך

    …and to be strengthened by your Holy Spirit. (1QHa VIII, 15)

    לטהרני ברוח קודשך

    …and to purify me by your Holy Spirit…. (1QHa VIII, 20; cf. 1QS IV, 21)

    שמעתי לסוד פלאכה ברוח קודשכה

    I have listened to your wonderful secret by your Holy Spirit. (1QHa XX, 12)

    כיון רבן גמליאל ברוח הקדש

    Rabban Gamliel determined this by the Holy Spirit. (t. Pes. 2:15; Vienna MS)

    ר′ שמעון בן מנסיא או′ שיר השירים מטמא את הידים מפני שנאמר ברוח הקדש

    Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya says, “Song of Songs makes the hands impure because it was spoken by the Holy Spirit.” (t. Yad. 2:14; Vienna MS)

    הָיוּ הַנְּבִיאִים מִתְנַבְּאִים בְּרוּחַ הַקּוֹדֶשׁ

    …the prophets were prophesying by the Holy Spirit…. (Seder Olam chpt. 30 [ed. Guggenheimer, 259])

    יסכה זו שרה ולמה נקרא שמה יסכה שסכתה ברוח הקדש שנאמר כל אשר תאמר אליך שרה שמע בקלה

    Yiskah [Gen. 11:29]—this is Sarah. And why is she called “Yiskah”? Because she had clairvoyance by means of the Holy Spirit, as it is said, all that Sarah tells you, obey [Gen. 21:12]. (b. Meg. 14a)

  • [29] In LXX בְּרוּחַ is translated as ἐν πνεύματι in 2 Esd. 19:30; Ps. 47[48]:8; Zech. 4:6; 7:12; Mal. 2:15; Isa. 4:4; 11:4; Ezek. 11:24; 37:1.
  • [30] On our decision to use Vaticanus as the base text of 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?”
  • [31] See Metzger, 152.
  • [32] On the baraita about King Yannai in b. Kid. 66a, see above, Comment to L1.
  • [33] See LSJ, “ἐξομολογέομαι,” 597.
  • [34] In LXX ἐξομολογήσομαί σοι is the translation of אוֹדְךָ in 2 Kgdms 22:50; Ps. 17[18]:50; 29[30]:13; 34[35]:18; 42[43]:4; 51[52]:11; 56[57]:10; 70[71]:22; 85[86]:12; 107[108]:4; 117[118]:21, 28; 118[119]:7; 137[138]:1; 138[139]:14.
  • [35] On -שֶׁ in the sense of “because” see Segal, 227 §482; Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L20.
  • [36] See Marshall, 433. According to Flusser, “Not only the opening of Jesus’ hymn but also the free rhythm of the poem and its content show affinity with the Essene thanksgiving hymns. Furthermore, the high self-awareness expressed in Jesus’ hymn resembles the Essene hymns; both Jesus and the author of the Thanksgiving Scroll proclaim that they reveal to the simple divine things hidden from others. Thus it seems evident that Jesus knew the Essene thanksgiving hymns and used their form in order to express his own place in the divine economy, though he introduced into his own hymn the motif of his divine sonship, which is naturally absent from the Thanksgiving Scroll.” See David Flusser, “Psalms, Hymns and Prayers,” in Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (CRINT II.2; ed. Michael E. Stone; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 551-577, esp. 567; cf., idem, “Hillel and Jesus: Two Ways of Self-Awareness,” in Hillel and Jesus: Comparative Studies of Two Major Religious Leaders (ed. James H. Charlesworth and Loren L. Johns; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997), 71-107, esp. 99-100.
  • [37] Among the scholars who presume that אַבָּא stands behind πάτερ in Matt. 11:25 and Luke 10:21 are Jeremias (Prayers, 56, 109), Marshall (433), Nolland (Luke, 571), France (Matt., 444) and Bovon (2:41).
  • [38] See James Barr, “’Abbā Isn’t Daddy,” Journal of Theological Studies 39.1 (1988): 28-47, esp. 30-32.
  • [39] The vocative form πάτερ with no possessive pronoun is the translation of אָבִי in Gen. 22:7; 27:18, 34, 38 (2xx); 48:18; 4 Kgdms. 2:12 (2xx); 6:21; 13:14 (2xx). Only in Judg. 11:36 is אָבִי translated with the vocative πάτερ μου.
  • [40] See our discussion in Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L10.
  • [41] On the presumed obsolescence of אָבִי, see Jeremias, Prayers, 22-23, 56. Cf. Dalman, 192.
  • [42] In DSS the form אָבִי occurs in the Thanksgiving Hymns at 1QHa XVII, 29, 35. Additional examples of אָבִי in DSS are found in 4QTNaph [4Q215] 1 III, 7, 10; 4Q372 1 I, 16; 4Q460 5 I, 6; 4Q526 1 I, 1; 11QPsa [11Q5] XIX, 17; XXVIII, 3.
  • [43] In rabbinic texts we find אָבִי in, e.g., Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Baḥodesh chpt. 6 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:325); Sifre Deut. §305 (ed. Finkelstein, 327); Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 37:13 (ed. Schechter, 112); Gen. Rab. 75:9 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:888). See Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L10.
  • [44] Two examples of אָבִי (“my father”) as an address to God in prayer have been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The first, found in 4Q372 1 I, 16, is in a prayer attributed to Joseph the patriarch. The second is in 4Q460 5 I, 6. On these prayers see Eileen M. Schuller, “The Psalm of 4Q372 1 within the Context of Second Temple Prayer,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 54 (1992): 67-79.
  • [45] Thus we cannot agree with France who wrote, “…while the tone of the prayer is thus familiarly Jewish, the address to God simply as ‘Father’ breaks new ground” (France, Matt., 444).
  • [46] See David Flusser, “Jesus and Judaism: Jewish Perspectives,” in Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism (ed. Harold W. Attridge and Gohei Hata; Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992), 80-109, esp. 100; idem, Jesus, 121-123.
  • [47] Whether Tobit was originally composed in Hebrew or Aramaic is a matter of scholarly debate. Fragments of the book of Tobit were discovered at Qumran in both languages. Scholars continue to debate which of these two languages was the one in which Tobit was originally composed. Buth has recently made a case for a Hebrew original for Tobit. See Randall Buth, “Distinguishing Hebrew from Aramaic in Semitized Greek Texts, with an Application for the Gospels and Pseudepigrapha” (JS2, 247-319, esp. 291-295).
  • [48] Nickelsburg writes, “It is generally agreed that Judith was composed in Hebrew.” See George E. Nickelsburg, “Stories of Biblical and Early Post-Biblical Times,” in Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period, 33-87, esp. 52. According to Buth’s criteria, Aramaic is ruled out as the original language of Judith. See Buth, “Distinguishing Hebrew from Aramaic” (JS2, 295).
  • [49] The title קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ occurs in Gen. 14:19, 22.
  • [50] The title עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ occurs in Ps. 115:15; 121:2; 124:8; 134:3; 146:6.
  • [51] The title אֲדוֹן כָּל הָאָרֶץ occurs in Josh. 3:11, 13; Mic. 4:13; Zech. 4:14; 6:5; Ps. 97:5.
  • [52] The opening line of the Aleinu reads עָלֵינוּ לְשַׁבֵּחַ לַאֲדוֹן הַכֹּל (“It is our duty to praise the Lord of everything”). Dating of Jewish prayers is uncertain, but the Aleinu may have originated in the late Second Temple period.
  • [53] The title אדון כל הבריות occurs in y. Ber. 1:5 [10b]; cf. Gen. Rab. 17:4 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, 156).
  • [54] The title רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם occurs frequently in rabbinic literature. Cf., e.g., m. Taan. 3:8; Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Beshallaḥ chpt. 6 (ed. Lauterbach, 1:156); Shirata chpt. 3 (ed. Lauterbach, 1:187).
  • [55] A similar Greek improvement is found in LXX, where some manuscripts read διὰ τί ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ κρύπτῃ (“Why from me do you hide?”; Job 13:24), but the texts of Alexandrinus and Sinaiticus read διὰ τί με ἀποκρύπτῃ (“Why do you hide away from me?”). Bovon (2:39) suggests that the author of Luke changed ἔκρυψας to ἀπέκρυψας in order to achieve alliteration with ἀπεκάλυψας (“you have revealed”; L8). On compound verbs in Luke in general, see Cadbury, 166-168.
  • [56] For citations, see above, Comment to L4.
  • [57] In the first four chapters of Genesis alone, ὅτι is the translation of כִּי‎ 22xx: Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25; 2:3, 23; 3:1, 5, 6 (2xx), 7, 10, 11, 14, 17, 19, 20; 4:12, 23, 24.
  • [58] In the Thanksgiving Hymns the root ס-ת-ר occurs in 1QHa IV, 9 (נסתרות; “hidden things”); IX, 25 (נסתרו; “they were hidden”); XI, 38 (תסתירני; “you will hide me”); XIII, 11 (סתרתני; “you hid me”); XIII, 25 (סתרת; “you hid”); XVI, 10 (סותר [pu‘al]; “hidden”); XIX, 19 (נסתר; “it was hidden”); XXVI, 15 (נסתרות; “hidden things”).
  • [59] The verb טָמַן occurs in 1QHa X, 29; XXI [bottom], 8.
  • [60] Examples of the root ח-ב-ה/ח-ב-א in the Thanksgiving Hymns include:

    ותורתכה חבתה ב[י ]עד קץ

    …and you hid your Torah in [me] until the time…. (1QHa XIII, 11)

    וברז חבתה בי ילכו רכיל לבני הוות

    And about the mystery you hid in me, they go slandering to the sons of destruction. (1QHa XIII, 25)

    ותחבא אמת לקץ[–] מועדו

    And you will hide truth for time[–] its appointed season. (1QHa XVII, 24)

  • [61] See Segal, 41 §72. In the Mishnah אֵלֶּה occurs exclusively in biblical quotations: m. Rosh Hash. 1:9; 2:9; m. Meg. 2:3; m. Sot. 2:3; 7:8; m. Zev. 10:1.
  • [62] See Robert L. Lindsey, “The Major Importance of the ‘Minor’ Agreements,” under the subheading “From Non-Hebraisms to the Synoptic Problem.”
  • [63] See Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, under the subheading “Story Placement.”
  • [64] According to Flusser, for instance, “The critique of the intelligentsia expressed here [i.e., in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn—DNB and JNT] is…common to the Essenes, Jesus, and the contemporary Jewish holy charismatics [i.e., Hasidim—DNB and JNT].” See Flusser, “Jesus and Judaism: Jewish Perspectives,” 100. For other scholars who understand Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn as a polemic against various contemporaries of Jesus, see Marshall, 434 (religious leaders); Fitzmyer, 2:873 (unspecified contemporaries); Davies-Allison, 2:275 (scribes and Pharisees); Luz, 2:162 (the entire religious aristocracy).
  • [65] See Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, under the subheading “Story Placement.”
  • [66] This quotation is based on our reconstruction of Jesus’ saying in Hebrew and therefore does not exactly conform to either Matt. 13:17 or Luke 10:24.
  • [67] See our discussion in Blessedness of the Twelve, Comment to L6.
  • [68] See Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L19.
  • [69] According to Marshall (434), “The thought is of the secrecy of God’s plans and purposes which he reveals at his own appointed time to his chosen people.”
  • [70] See Huub van de Sandt, “Matthew 11,28-30 Compassionate Law Interpretation in Wisdom Language,” in The Gospel of Matthew at the Crossroads of Early Christianity (ed. Donald Senior; Leuven: Peeters, 2011), 313-337, esp. 324, where he writes, “…the wise and understanding in [Luke] 10,21 are identified with the prophets and kings who never saw or heard what the disciples now see and hear.”
  • [71] To cite one example, the story is told how a bat kol intimated that Hillel was worthy to have the Holy Spirit rest on him, but his generation was unworthy of such an honor (t. Sot. 13:3). It follows that in the generations when the Holy Spirit did rest upon the prophets, the generations did merit this honor.
  • [72] Examples of the pairing of prophets and/or prophecy with the wise and/or wisdom include:

    כִּי לֹא תֹאבַד תּוֹרָה מִכֹּהֵן וְעֵצָה מֵחָכָם וְדָבָר מִנָּבִיא

    For Torah will not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise person [מֵחָכָם], nor a word from the prophet. (Jer. 18:18)

    ὅτι οὐκ ἀπολεῖται νόμος ἀπὸ ἱερέως καὶ βουλὴ ἀπὸ συνετοῦ καὶ λόγος ἀπὸ προφήτου

    For law will not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the intelligent person [ἀπὸ συνετοῦ], nor a word from the prophet. (Jer. 18:18)

    σοφίαν πάντων ἀρχαίων ἐκζητήσει καὶ ἐν προφητείαις ἀσχοληθήσεται

    He will seek out the wisdom of all the ancients, and he will be occupied with prophecies. (Sir. 39:1; NETS)

    βουλεύοντες ἐν συνέσει αὐτῶν, ἀπηγγελκότες ἐν προφητείαις

    ….when they counseled with their intelligence [ἐν συνέσει], when they announced through prophecies…. (Sir. 44:3; NETS)

    οἷς μὲν οὖν πάρεστι τὸ καλῶς νοεῖν, θαυμάζουσι τὴν περὶ αὐτὸν σοφίαν καὶ τὸ θεῖον πνεῦμα, καθ᾿ ὃ καὶ προφήτης ἀνακεκήρυκται

    Therefore, those who are able to think well marvel at his [i.e., Moses’—DNB and JNT] wisdom and the divine spirit in accordance with which he has been proclaimed as a prophet also. (Aristobulus, frag. 2 from Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica 8:10 §4; trans. Charlesworth 2:838)

    πῶς οὖν εἰκὸς ἰσοχρονίους εἶναι τοὺς ὑπαιτίους τῷ πανσόφῳ καὶ προφήτῃ

    How then can it be reasonable that the years of the guilty should match those of the sage and prophet? (Philo, Gig. §56; Loeb)

    Διὰ τοῦτο ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω πρὸς ὑμᾶς προφήτας καὶ σοφοὺς καὶ γραμματεῖς

    Therefore, behold, I am sending to you prophets and wise persons and scribes. (Matt. 23:34)

    והלא דברים ק″ו ומה משה רבינו חכם גדול שבגדולים אב לנביאים בשעה שהקפיד על דבריו שכח את דבריו אנו על אחת כמה וכמה

    Is this not a matter of kal vahomer? If Moses our teacher, greatest among the wise and father of the prophets, in a moment when he was short-tempered in his speech forgot his words, how much more in our own case! (Avot de-Rabbi Natan 1:4 [ed. Schechter, 3])

    ניתנו מרועה אחד אמר הקב″ה אם שמעתה דבר מפי קטן ישראל והנייך לא יהא בעיניך כשומעו מפי קטן אלא כשומעו מפי גדול ולא כשומעו מפי גדול אלא כשמעו מפי חכם ולא כשמעו מפי חכם אלא כשמעו מפי נביא ולא כשמעו מפי נביא אלא כשמעו מפי רועה ואין רועה אלא משה

    Given through one shepherd [Eccl. 12:11]. The Holy One, blessed be he, said, “If you heard a word from an Israelite minor and it pleases you, do not regard it as though you heard it from the mouth of a minor, but as though from the mouth of an adult, and not as though from the mouth of an adult, but as though from the mouth of a sage [חכם], and not as though from the mouth of a sage, but as though from the mouth of a prophet, and not as though from the mouth of a prophet but as though from the mouth of a shepherd, and there is no shepherd other than Moses.” (y. Sanh. 10:1 [50b])

    כך היה אחז סבור בדעתו לומר אם אין קטנים אין גדולים אם אין גדולים אין חכמים אם אין חכמים אין נביאים אם אין נביאים אין רוח הקודש אם אין רוח הקודש אין בתי כניסיות ובתי מדרשות כביכול אין הקב″ה משרה שכינתו על ישראל

    Thus did Ahaz reason in his mind, saying, “If there are no little ones there will be no grown-ups, and if there are no grown-ups there will be no sages [חכמים], and if there are no sages there will be no prophets, and if there are no prophets there will be no Holy Spirit, and if there is no Holy Spirit there will be no synagogues or houses of study: as it were the Holy one, blessed be he, will not cause his divine presence to rest on Israel.” (y. Sanh. 10:2 [51a]; cf. Gen. Rab. 42:3)

  • [73] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:131-132.
  • [74] See Luz, 2:157.
  • [75] In LXX νήπιος is used to translate עוֹלָל/עוֹלֵל in 1 Kgdms. 15:3; 22:19; 4 Kgdms. 8:12; Ps. 8:3; 16[17]:14; 136[137]:9; Job 3:16; Joel 2:16; Nah. 3:10; Jer. 6:11; 9:20; 51[44]:7; Lam. 1:5; 2:11, 19, 20; 4:4.
  • [76] In LXX νήπιος is the translation of פֶּתִי in Ps. 18[19]:8; 114[116]:6; 118[119]:130; Prov. 1:32; Ezek. 45:20 (Alexandrinus).
  • [77] See Fitzmyer, 2:873; Luz, 2:162; Flusser, “The Dead Sea Sect and Its Worldview” (JSTP1, 8 n. 20).
  • [78] See Flusser, “Jesus and Judaism: Jewish Perspectives,” 100; idem, “The Dead Sea Sect and Its Worldview” (JSTP1, 8 n. 19). Other times, the “simple” are non-members who might be attracted to the sect (4QpNah [4Q169] 3-4 I, 6). See Luz, 2:162 n. 67.
  • [79] See David Flusser, “Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit” (JOC, 102-114); Robert L. Lindsey, “The Hebrew Life of Jesus,” under the subheading “The Two Versions of the Beatitudes.”
  • [80] See Marshall, 434; Barr, “’Abbā Isn’t Daddy,” 41.
  • [81] See a critique of this view in Barr, “’Abbā Isn’t Daddy,” 41-44.
  • [82] See Joshua N. Tilton, “Did Jesus Call God ‘Abba’?
  • [83] Note that this story is set in the period when the Temple was still standing.
  • [84] Unlike the rest of the Torah’s commandments, which a person sets out to perform intentionally, the commandment of the forgotten sheaf (Deut. 24:19) depends on an unintentional action, namely, accidentally forgetting a sheaf in the field. Thus, a completely Torah-observant person who is also possessed of a good memory might never have the opportunity to fulfill the commandment of the forgotten sheaf. The opportunity comes by chance (or Providence), and it is for this reason the man described as a Hasid was so pleased to fulfill the commandment of the forgotten sheaf. He regarded the opportunity to fulfill this commandment as a sign of God’s favor.
  • [85] In LXX we find ναί in Gen. 17:19; 42:21; Judith 9:12 (2xx); Job 19:4; Isa. 48:7.
  • [86] In Gen. 30:34 הֵן comes very close to meaning “yes.” See BDB, 243.
  • [87] See Jastrow, 356.
  • [88] See Moulton-Howard, 465.
  • [89] The earliest example of the formula יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ is found in m. Avot 5:20.
  • [90] In LXX ἔμπροσθεν + personal pronoun is the translation of לִפְנֵי + pronominal suffix in Gen. 24:7; 32:4, 17; 33:3; 41:43; 45:5, 7; 46:28; Num. 14:43; Judg. 3:27; 4:14; 18:21; 1 Kgdms. 8:20; 9:19, 27; 10:5; 25:19; 2 Kgdms. 5:24; 10:16; 15:1; 20:8; 3 Kgdms. 1:5; 3:12; 16:25, 30, 33; 4 Kgdms. 4:31; 5:23; 17:2; 18:5; 23:25; 1 Chr. 14:15; 17:13; 19:16; 21:30; 29:25; 2 Chr. 1:12; 2 Esd. 22:36; Ps. 79[80]:10; 104[105]:17; Eccl. 1:16; 2:7, 9; 4:16; Job 21:33; 41:14; Joel 2:3; Isa. 43:10; 45:1 (2xx), 2; 58:8.
  • [91] In Eccl. 1:10 ἀπὸ ἔμπροσθεν ἡμῶν (“from before us”) is the translation of מִלְּפָנֵנוּ (“from before us”), and in Josh. 4:23 ἐκ τοῦ ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν (“from before them”) is the translation of מִפְּנֵיכֶם (“from before you”).
  • [92] Many scholars consider ἔμπροσθεν σου (“before you”) in Matt. 11:26 and Luke 10:21 to be a Semitism. See Allen, 122; Davies-Allison, 2:278.
  • [93] The phrase כי כן also occurs in CD-A XI, 18, and in 1QS V, 15 we find כיא כן.
  • [94] In LXX εὐδοκία is the translation of רָצוֹן in Ps. 5:13; 18[19]:15; 50[51]:20; 68[69]:14; 88[89]:18; 105[106]:4; 144[145]:16. The exceptions are in Ps. 140:5, where ἐν ταῖς εὐδοκίαις αὐτῶν (“in their good will”) is the translation of בְּרָעוֹתֵיהֶם (“against their evil deeds”; Ps. 141:5), and Song 6:4, where ὡς εὐδοκία (“like good pleasure”) is the translation of כְּתִרְצָה (“like Tirzah”).

Like Lightning from Heaven (Luke 10:18): Jesus’ Apocalyptic Vision of the Fall of Satan

The above image shows a miniature painting by Dirc van Delf appearing in an illuminated manuscript (ca. 1400) depicting the fall of Satan from heaven. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Revised: 16-November-2017

I saw Satan falling like lightning from heaven. (Luke 10:18)

Luke 10:18 is unique in that it records the only apocalyptic[1] vision attributed to Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels.[2] According to Luke, Jesus described his vision of Satan’s expulsion from heaven in response to the apostles’ report of the successful exorcisms they performed in the course of their missionary endeavor.

The apocalyptic character of Jesus’ vision is underscored by a striking parallel to Jesus’ vision which occurs in the Apocalypse (or, Revelation) of John:[3]

12:7Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Rev. 12:7-12; RSV)

Miniature painting by Silvestro dei Gherarducci (14th cent.) depicting Michael’s battle with the dragon. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In John’s vision the dragon who is hurled down to earth is identified as Satan, so it would appear that both John and Jesus described the same event. John’s vision is much more developed than the one attributed to Jesus, and there are indications that the revelator based the description of his vision of the expulsion of Satan on an earlier Jewish source.[4] One of the reasons scholars have suggested that Rev. 12:7-12 is based on a Jewish source is that the hero who opposes the dragon is not the cosmic Christ, it is rather the archangel Michael, a figure who appears in Jewish sources as early as the book of Daniel (Dan. 10:13), who triumphs over Satan. Giving such a prominent role to any other figure, scholars have suggested, is unthinkable for a Christian author.[5] Therefore, the description of the battle between Michael and the dragon must be based on a pre-Christian text.[6] Another, more compelling, reason that has led scholars to suspect that Rev. 12:7-12 is based on a Jewish source is that parts of the vision are highly Hebraic, suggesting that the revelator made use of a Hebrew document that described the expulsion of Satan from heaven when he composed this part of the apocalypse.[7] If it is true that a number of visions describing the expulsion of Satan from heaven were circulating among Jewish communities in the first century, then it is likely that with his brief description of the fall of Satan Jesus was tapping into a tradition that was already familiar to the apostles.[8] If so, this would explain why the details of the vision required no elaboration,[9] and it also suggests that the meaning of the apocalyptic vision would have been immediately understood by Jesus’ original audience.

A distinctive trait of apocalypses is their use of symbolic or coded language to describe historical events in order to reveal how human history is viewed from a heavenly perspective. Very frequently the apocalypses were politically subversive, and for this reason, too, it was prudent to use symbolic imagery, for in doing so they might escape the attention of the imperial authorities.[10] This feature of apocalyptic literature raises the possibility that Jesus’ vision of the downfall of Satan had a symbolic meaning that may not be immediately apparent to modern readers.

In the course of preparing our Hebrew reconstruction of the Return of the Twelve pericope, David Bivin and I came across the following rabbinic source, which shares certain key terms (viz., “see,” “fall”) with Jesus’ apocalyptic vision:

Another interpretation: he threw [רָמָה; Exod. 15:1] means that when Israel saw the [angelic] prince of the kingdom [of Egypt] falling they began to give praise, accordingly it is said, a high place [רָמָה]. And so you find that the Holy One, blessed be he, will not punish the empires until he has punished their [angelic] princes first, as it is said, And on that day the LORD will visit judgment on the host of heaven on high, and afterward it says, on the kings of the earth on the earth [Isa. 24:21]. And it says, How you have fallen from heaven, O Morning Star, son of the dawn, and afterward it says, you are cut to the ground, who brought the nations down [Isa. 14:12]. And it says, For in heaven my sword has drunk its fill, and afterward it says, Behold, it shall descend upon Edom [Isa. 34:5]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shirata chpt. 2 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:181-182])

This midrashic discussion of the first verse of Israel’s triumphant Song at the Sea is based on the ancient Jewish concept that each of the world’s great empires is governed by an angelic prince or “guardian angel” who represents his earthly kingdom in the heavenly court.[11] By playing on the dual meanings of רָמָה (rāmāh; as a verb, “throw”; as a noun, “high place”), the sages suggested that the Israelites rejoiced at the Red Sea because they saw (in a vision?) Egypt’s angelic prince falling from on high. Having witnessed the downfall of the angelic prince of Egypt, the former slaves knew that the demise of their political oppressor was immanent. Now that the angelic prince had fallen, Israel’s liberating redemption was at hand. Might Jesus’ vision of Satan’s downfall be related to the downfall of the angelic prince of Egypt?

The above-cited midrash pertains not only to the redemption from Egypt, it also sets forth a general rule that the angelic princes of the empires must always be toppled before the empires that oppress Israel can fall. In support of this view the midrash cites two verses from Isaiah that (according to the sages’ understanding) describe the downfall of the angelic princes of Babylon[12] and of Edom. Since Edom was often a codeword for Rome in rabbinic sources,[13] it is likely that this midrash points ahead to the future redemption of Israel from the yoke of Roman oppression. Just as the angelic prince of Egypt had to be thrown down from heaven in order to bring about the first redemption, so would the angelic prince of Edom (i.e., Rome) have to be vanquished in order to bring about the redemption that was yet to come.

Another rabbinic source correlates the elevation and demotion of the angelic princes to the rise and fall of the empires that ruled Israel in a manner that is similar to the above-cited midrash. This source expands upon the account of Jacob’s dream about the ladder that reaches to heaven (Gen. 28:12):

…the Holy One, blessed be He, showed our father Jacob the Prince of Babylon ascending seventy rungs of the ladder, the Prince of Media fifty-two rungs, the Prince of Greece one hundred and eighty, while the Prince of Edom ascended till Jacob did not know how many rungs. Thereupon our father Jacob was afraid. He thought: Is it possible that this one will never be brought down? Said the Holy One, blessed be he, to him: ‘“Fear thou not, O Jacob My servant [Jer. 30:10].” Even if he ascend and sit down by Me, I will bring him down from there!’ Hence it is written, Though thou make thy nest as high as the eagle, and though thou set it among the stars, I will bring thee down from thence (Obad. I, 4). (Lev. Rab. 29:2 [ed. Marguiles, 2:670-671]; trans. Soncino)

Jacob’s dream as depicted on the ceiling of the Monheim Town Hall in Bavaria, Germany. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

According to this source, Jacob’s dream foretold the fortunes of Israel.[14] The angels Jacob saw going up and down on the ladder were the angelic princes of four world empires.[15] Each step they ascended symbolized the number of years that angel’s empire would have dominion over Israel. The descent of the angels on the ladder marked the hour of his empire’s demise. The last of the empires in Jacob’s dream is also the greatest threat to Israel: its angel ascends higher than any of the other angelic princes and Jacob is terrified that its dominion will never end. Since Jacob’s dream presumably describes the future up to the end of human history, it is significant that the final empire is identified as Edom, that is to say, the Roman Empire. In other words, the Roman Empire will be the last of the empires to dominate the children of Israel prior to the final redemption.

That the Roman Empire is the fourth and final empire in the rabbinic interpretation of Jacob’s dream is hardly surprising given the way the book of Daniel was interpreted following the Roman conquest of the land of Israel. The book of Daniel describes a succession of four world empires that would have dominion over Israel prior to the inbreaking of the eschatological rule of God. The original identities of Daniel’s four empires were Babylon, Media, Persia and Greece, but following Pompey’s conquest of Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E., the identities of Daniel’s four empires were reinterpreted as Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece and Rome. The earliest attestation of this reinterpretation of Daniel is found in the writings of Josephus (Ant. 10:276-277),[16] but it was certainly not Josephus’ invention and must have been widespread in the first century C.E.[17]

All this leads us to ponder whether Jesus’ apocalyptic vision conveyed a political as well as a spiritual message, namely, that with the fall of Satan from heaven the way was cleared for the demise of the Roman Empire and the commencement of the final liberating redemption of Israel from foreign oppression. An affirmative answer would be supported if it could be shown that Satan was regarded as the angelic prince of the Roman Empire.

Is there any evidence that Satan was regarded as an angelic prince, and the patron of the Roman Empire in particular? One hint that Satan did indeed play the role of angelic prince is found in the temptation narratives in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. In exchange for Jesus’ worship, Satan offered to make Jesus ruler over all the world’s kingdoms (Matt. 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8), essentially making Jesus an emperor. Since the Roman Empire ruled the world at the time Satan made this offer,[18] it is reasonable to conclude that Satan was the angelic prince who was the real power behind Caesar’s throne, and it was on this account that he was in a position to offer world domination to Jesus.

Another hint that Satan was numbered among the angelic princes is found in Paul’s statement that Satan was wont to masquerade as an Angel of Light (2 Cor. 11:14). Scholars have noted that Paul’s terminology in this verse is very similar to that which is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.[19] According to the Community Rule, all of humanity is divided into two groups: those who are ruled by the Prince of Lights (שר אורים), and those who are ruled by the Angel of Darkness (מלאך חושך) (1QS III, 20-21). This division of humanity under the rule of two angelic beings appears to be a permutation of the concept of the angelic princes appointed over the kingdoms of the earth. It appears that in 2 Cor. 11:14 Paul regards Satan as the angelic prince (i.e., the Angel of Darkness) who rules the wicked, and that Satan has a reputation for disguising himself as his main adversary, the Prince of Lights.

The Angel of Darkness is probably identical with Belial, the name given to Satan in the Dead Sea Scrolls, since elsewhere in the Qumran texts wicked human beings are said to belong to the lot of Belial (cf., e.g., 1QS II, 5), and according to other texts Belial acts in opposition to the Prince of Lights (CD-A V, 17-19; 1QM XIII, 9-12). This, too, would indicate that Satan (Belial) was regarded as an angelic prince.[20]

That Satan’s main opponent is usually the archangel Michael also suggests that Satan was an angelic prince.[21] Michael was the angelic prince appointed over Israel (Dan. 12:1), and it stands to reason that Michael would contend with the angelic prince of the empire that kept Israel under its thumb, in other words, Rome.

The dragon hands his authority to the beast from the sea in the Tapisserie de l’Apocalypse (Tapestry of the Apocalypse). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The book of Revelation likewise depicts Satan, in the guise of a dragon, in a manner that is consistent with his conjectured role as the angelic prince of Rome. According to Rev. 13:2, “the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority” to the beast that came up from the sea. Since the beast is symbolic of the Roman Empire,[22] Satan is shown to be the spiritual being who stands behind and upholds Caesar’s throne.

A rabbinic legend set during the week of creation concerning the primordial light that was stored up for the world to come closely associates Satan with the angelic princes of the empires:

Satan said before the Holy one, blessed be he, “Ruler of the universe, the light that is stored beneath your throne of glory—whose is it?” He replied, “It is for the one who in the future will turn you back and humiliate you.” He said to him, “Ruler of the universe, show him to me.” He replied, “Come and see him.” But as soon as he saw him he shuddered and fell on his face and said, “Surely this is the Messiah who in the future will cause me to fall, together with all the angelic princes of the peoples of the world, into Gehenna!” (Pesikta Rabbati 36:1 [ed. Friedmann, 161b])

This legend, which predicts the expulsion of Satan from heaven at the coming of the Messiah, places Satan among, or possibly at the head of, the angelic princes of the kingdoms.

The depiction of Satan as the leader of the angelic princes (cf. Rev. 12:7) may explain how one source, 3 Enoch, a Hebrew apocalyptic work from the fifth or sixth century C.E., came to distinguish between Samael, whom 3 Enoch identifies as the angelic patron of Rome, and Satan.

Every day Satan sits with Samma’el, Prince of Rome, and with Dubbi’el, Prince of Persia, and they write down the sins of Israel on tablets…. (3 Enoch 26:12)

The identification of Samael as the angelic prince of Edom (i.e., Rome) is also made in late rabbinic sources,[23] but, unlike 3 Enoch, Samael is usually regarded in these sources as none other than Satan himself.[24] If, however, Satan was regarded as chief of the angelic princes, it is understandable that some traditions would make Satan the prince of the last and most terrible of the evil empires (i.e., Rome), whereas other traditions, which might have regarded the Roman Empire as simply one kingdom among many others, might make the angelic prince of Rome one of Satan’s underlings.[25]

The survey we have conducted above demonstrates that there is evidence to support the conclusion that Satan was regarded as the supernatural patron of the Roman Empire, and that Jesus’ apocalyptic vision of Satan’s fall from heaven may have conveyed a political as well as a spiritual message to Jesus’ audience. The political message of such a vision would have been that, with the fall of the angelic prince who backed Israel’s oppressor, the liberating redemption of Israel was at hand. With the downfall of Satan the way was opened for the supernatural reign of God to break in upon the human stage and to disrupt the political scene. The imperialist system stood condemned and was soon to be replaced by God’s better reign, under which Israel’s faithfulness would be vindicated, the wrongs that the strong perpetrated against the weak would be set right, and the wounds inflicted on God’s creation would be healed.[26]

  • [1] The English noun “apocalypse” and the English adjective “apocalyptic” derive from the Greek word ἀποκάλυψις (apokalūpsis, “uncovering,” “revelation”). In popular usage “apocalypse” is a synonym for end-time catastrophe (e.g., the “Zombie Apocalypse”), but in biblical studies “apocalypse” refers to a literary genre concerned with the uncovering of mysteries. These mysteries are not exclusively or even primarily concerned with eschatology (i.e., end times). Apocalypses can explore the hidden workings of the universe, uncover secret truths of the story of creation or of current events, as well as reveal God’s hidden plan for the future. Jesus’ vision of Satan’s fall is apocalyptic in the sense that Jesus was afforded a glimpse of the happenings in the spiritual realms that are not ordinarily accessible to the physical senses. See Michael E. Stone, “Apocalyptic Literature,” in Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (CRINT II.2; ed. Michael E. Stone; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 383-441; David Flusser, “Apocalypse,” in Encyclopedia Judaica (2d ed.; 22 vols.; ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik; Detroit: Macmillan, 2007), 2:256-258.
  • [2] See Rudolf Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition (trans. John Marsh; New York: Harper & Row, 1963), 108; François Bovon, Luke: Hermeneia—A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (3 vols.; trans. Donald S. Deer; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002-2013), 2:25. Partly for this reason, some scholars have suggested that it was not Jesus who witnessed the fall of Satan, but the demons whom the apostles had exorcised. In addition, there is a built-in ambiguity in the text since the Greek verb ἐθεώρουν could either be a first person singular (“I was seeing”) or a third person plural (“they were seeing”). See Julian V. Hills, “Luke 10.18—Who Saw Satan Fall?” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 46 (1992): 25-40.
  • [3] Pace Fitzmyer, who denies that Luke 10:18 describes an actual vision. See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke (AB 28A and 28B; Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1981, 1985), 860.
  • [4] It is not necessary to suppose that John of Patmos did not see a vision of the expulsion of Satan from heaven. Rather, I am suggesting that when the revelator sat down to put his vision into writing he used pre-existing sources to help him craft the literary presentation of his vision.
  • [5] See J. Massyngberde Ford, Revelation (AB 38; Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975), 193. Further support for this view is found in the attempts among some Christian theologians, including Martin Luther, to identify Michael in Rev. 12 as the Son of God. See Charles A. Gieschen, “The Identity of Michael in Revelation 12: Created Angel or the Son of God?” Concordia Theological Quarterly 74 (2010): 139-143.
  • [6] Note that in Luke 10:18 Jesus is only a witness to the expulsion of Satan from heaven, he is not a participant in the event. Does this imply that Jesus’ vision, too, is pre-Christian?
  • [7] See R. H. Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John (2 vols.; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1920), 1:321-329.
  • [8] The expulsion of Satan from heaven by Michael is certainly attested in later Jewish tradition. See Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer chpt. 27 (on Abraham’s sixth trial). In this source the name given to Satan is Samael.
  • [9] As already noted in a footnote above, according to Luke 10:18 Jesus is merely a spectator of the events in heaven. Jesus plays no active role in the expulsion of Satan, and it would not be inconsistent with the report of Jesus’ vision to suppose that Michael was the main actor in Jesus’ vision. The reference to the apostles’ names being written in heaven (Luke 10:20), which Jesus mentions shortly after reporting his vision, may hint that this was indeed the case. The inscribing of the apostles’ names in heaven probably alludes to the following verse in Daniel:

    And in that time Michael, the great prince who stands over the sons of your people, will arise, but it will be a time of distress such as has not been since there was a nation until that time, and in that time your people will escape, all those found written in the book. (Dan. 12:1)

    As in the vision of Michael and the dragon in Rev. 12:7-12, which predicts a violent reaction from Satan in response to his expulsion from heaven, Jesus indicates that the apostles will require protection from the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). The important role Michael plays in Dan. 12:1 and Rev. 12:7-12 bolsters the suggestion that Michael also played a role in Jesus’ vision.
    On the backlash from Satan implied by Luke 10:19, see Simon Gathercole, “Jesus’ Eschatological Vision of the Fall of Satan: Luke 10,18 Reconsidered,” Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 94 (2003): 143-163.

  • [10] See John J. Collins, “The Symbolism of Transcendence in Jewish Apocalyptic,” Biblical Research 19 (1974): 5-22, esp. 14. The Roman emperors were well aware of the politically subversive nature of apocalyptic writings. Caesar Augustus, for instance, ordered the burning of books composed in Greek and Latin that contained prophecies of the downfall of the Roman Empire (Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars 2:31). Likewise, Justin Martyr mentions that a sentence of death had been decreed against persons who read certain oracular books (1 Apol. 44:12). See David Flusser, “Hystaspes and John of Patmos,” in his Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1988), esp. 390-453, 393; idem, “The Roman Empire in Hasmonean and Essene Eyes,” in his Judaism of the Second Temple Period, Volume 1—Qumran and Apocalypticism (Grand Rapids and Jerusalem: Eerdmans, Jerusalem Perspective, and Magnes Press, 2007), 175-206, esp. 199.
  • [11] On the concept of angelic princes in ancient Jewish sources, see Ephraim E. Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (trans. Israel Abrahams; 2 vols.; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1975), 1:137-138; Darrell D. Hannah, “Guardian Angels and Angelic National Patrons in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity,” Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook (2007): 413-435. The concept of angelic princes appointed over the nations is found inter alia in Deut. 32:8 (LXX); Dan. 10:13, 20; Sir. 17:17; Jub. 15:31-32. On the possibility that the MT version of Deut. 32:8 was censored in order to suppress the idea of guardian angels who ruled over the nations, see Menahem Kister, “Ancient Material in Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli‘ezer: Basilides, Qumran, the Book of Jubilees,” in ‘Go Out and Study the Land’ (Judges 18:2): Archaeological, Historical and Textual Studies in Honor of Hanan Eshel (ed. Aren M. Maeir, Jodi Magness, and Lawrence H. Schiffman; Leiden: Brill, 2012), 69-93, esp. 73.
  • [12] That Isa. 14:12 refers to Babylon is clear from Isa. 14:4. Ancient Jewish exegetes assumed that Isa. 14:12-14 could not pertain to a mere mortal, and therefore interpreted these verses as describing the demise of Babylon’s angelic prince. Ancient Christian exegetes read Isa. 14:12 as a description of the downfall of Satan for the same reason (cf., e.g., Origen, De Principiis 1:5 §5). See Gathercole, “Jesus’ Eschatological Vision,” 145-146. Some scholars continue to detect an allusion to Isa. 14:12-14 in Jesus’ apocalyptic vision recorded in Luke 10:18, while others disagree. See I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 428-429; John Nolland, Luke (WBC 35A-35C; Dallas: Word Books, 1989-1993), 2:563.
  • [13] On Edom as a symbol of Rome in ancient Jewish literature, see Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews (2 vols.; 2d ed.; trans. Henrietta Szold and Paul Radin; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2003), 1:254 n. 19; Louis H. Feldman, Josephus’s Interpretation of the Bible (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 322-324. Flusser detected an allusion to Esau (= Edom) as a symbol of Rome in a saying of Jesus. See David Flusser, Jesus (3d ed.; Jerusalem: Magnes, 2001), 76-77.
  • [14] For a discussion of this rabbinic treatment of Jacob’s dream, see James Kugel, “The Ladder of Jacob,” Harvard Theological Review 88.2 (1995): 209-27; Chaim Milikowsky, “Notions of Exile, Subjugation and Return in Rabbinic Literature,” in Exile: Old Testament, Jewish, and Christian Conceptions (ed. James M. Scott; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 265-296, esp. 275-278.
  • [15] On the ancient concept of four world empires, see David Flusser, “The Four Empires in the Fourth Sibyl and in the Book of Daniel,” in his Judaism and the Origins of Christianity, 317-344.
  • [16] See Flusser, “Four Empires,” 327-328; Louis H. Feldman, “The Concept of Exile in Josephus,” in Exile: Old Testament, Jewish, and Christian Conceptions, 145-172, esp. 167-171.
  • [17] The four empires motif, with Rome as the fourth and final empire, is also attested in 4 Ezra 12:11; 2 Bar. 39:5; Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BaḤodesh chpt. 9 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:339). Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BeShallaḥ chpt. 2 (ed. Lauterbach, 1:132) mentions Assyria, Babylon, Media and Greece and then, peculiarly, mentions a fourth [sic] unnamed empire, which presumably refers to Rome. An aggadic interpretation of Gen. 32:12 in which Jacob prays for deliverance from Esau likewise identifies the fourth empire as the “wicked kingdom” (i.e., Rome), but the first three empires are not identified (Gen. Rab. 76:6 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:903-904]).
  • [18] The notion that the Roman Empire ruled the entire world is reflected in Luke 2:1. On the Roman propaganda of worldwide domination, see P. A. Brunt, “Roman Imperial Illusions,” in his Roman Imperial Themes (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990), 433-480.
  • [19] See David Flusser, “The Dead Sea Sect and Pre-Pauline Christianity,” in his Judaism and the Origins of Christianity, 23-74, esp. 26.
  • [20] Satan is referred to by many different names in ancient Jewish sources: Mastema, Belial and Samael, to name a few. The reason for the multiplicity of names may be due to the fact that שָׂטָן (sāṭān) in Hebrew is a title rather than a personal name. In Hebrew sources שָׂטָן is usually prefixed with the definite article when referring to the angelic archenemy of Israel. Eventually, Satan came to be treated as though it were a personal name.
  • [21] Michael is the opponent of the devil (i.e., Satan) in Jude 9; Rev. 12:7-9; Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer chpt. 27 (on Abraham’s sixth trial). It is possible that the Prince of Lights in the DSS is identical with Michael. This is suggested by a passage in the War Scroll that states:

    Today is his appointed time to subdue and debase the prince of the wicked kingdom. And he will send his eternal help to the lot of his redemption in the power of the majestic angel for the dominion of Michael in eternal light to enlighten with joy the covenant of Israel, peace and blessing for the lot of God, to raise the dominion of Michael above the gods and the kingdom of Israel over all flesh. (1QM XVII, 5-8)

    Note the emphasis on light in this description of Michael, and that the fortunes of Israel are paralleled to those of Michael, suggesting that the Prince of Lights, the angelic prince of the righteous, is none other than Michael. On the possible identity of Michael as the Prince of Lights, see Erik W. Larson, “Michael,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (2 vols.; ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 1:546-548.

  • [22] On the beast from the sea as a symbol of the Roman Empire, see Charles, Revelation, 1:333; Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation—New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 251; M. Eugene Boring, Revelation—Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1989), 155.
  • [23] See Midrash Tanhuma, VaYishlaḥ §8; Yalkut Shimoni I, 110; Rashi on b. Sot. 10b. See also Ludwig Blau, “Samael,” Jewish Encyclopedia (12 vols.; ed. Isidore Singer; New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1901-1906), 10:665-666; Hugo Odeberg, 3 Enoch or The Hebrew Book of Enoch (New York: Ktav, 1973), part 2, 93.
  • [24] See Blau, “Samael,” 10:665; idem, “Satan,” Jewish Encyclopedia, 11:68-71, esp. 69.
  • [25] Such a perspective on the Roman Empire would make sense in regions not under Roman rule, such as among the Jews in Babylonia. Note that scholars have concluded that 3 Enoch probably originated among Babylonian Jews. See P. Alexander, “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; ed. James H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1983-1985), 1:229.
  • [26] If this interpretation of Jesus’ apocalyptic vision is correct, then Ford’s statement that “Jesus indicated no hostility toward the state” (Revelation, 210) requires reevaluation. On political aspects of Jesus’ message concerning the Kingdom of Heaven, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Political Aspect.”

Return of the Twelve

Mark 6:30; Luke 9:10a; 10:17-20

(Huck 140; Aland 180; Crook 204)[1]

Revised: 16-November-2017

וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַשְּׁלִיחִים אֶל יֵשׁוּעַ בְּשִׂמְחָה וַיְסַפְּרוּ לוֹ אֶת כֹּל אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ לֵאמֹר אֲדוֹנֵנוּ אַף הַשֵּׁדִים מִשְׁתַּעְבְּדִים לָנוּ בְּשִׁמְךָ וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם רָאִיתִי אֶת הַשָּׂטָן כְּבָרָק מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם נֹפֵל הֲרֵי נָתַתִּי לָכֶם רָשׁוּת לִדְרֹךְ עַל נְחָשִׁים וְעַקְרַבִּים וְעַל כֹּל גְּבוּרַת הָאֹיֵב וְלֹא יַזִּיק לָכֶם כְּלוּם אַף בְּזוֹ אַל תִּשְׂמְחוּ שֶׁהָרוּחוֹת מִשְׁתַּעְבְּדוֹת לָכֶם אֶלָּא שִׂמְחוּ שֶׁשְׁמוֹתֵיכֶם כְּתוּבִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם

The twelve emissaries returned to Yeshua full of excitement and they told him about everything they had done. “Lord!” they said, “even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Yeshua told them, “I saw Satan expelled from heaven like a flash of lightning from the sky. Look, I have given you power to step on snakes and scorpions and over all the enemy’s might: Nothing will hurt you. But don’t get excited about that, instead be excited that your names are recorded in heaven in the Book of Life.”[2]


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Reconstruction

To view the reconstructed text of Return of the Twelve click on the link below:

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Story Placement

It appears that no stories about the apostles’ experiences during their mission were included in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua. Perhaps this is because the author who wrote the Hebrew Life of Yeshua was not one of the twelve apostles, and therefore had no direct knowledge of what took place during the mission. Or, perhaps the author of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua, who was, after all, telling Jesus’ story, preferred to allow any action Jesus was not directly involved with to take place “off stage.” In any case, it seems likely that the Return of the Twelve pericope immediately followed the Sending discourse, as in Luke 10. The story about Herod that comes between Sending the Twelve and Return of the Twelve in Luke 9:7-9 was probably inserted by the First Reconstructor (the creator of the First Reconstruction [FR]) in order to create the impression of the passage of time. The author of Mark not only copied Luke’s story about Herod (Mark 6:14-16), but took the opportunity to include an additional story about Herod and John the Baptist (Mark 6:17-29) before reporting the Return of the Twelve (Mark 6:30).

To see an overview of the entire “Mission of the Twelve” complex, click here.

 

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

 

Conjectured Stages of Transmission

Return of the Twelve is reported in three versions, two in Luke and one in Mark.[3] The version in Luke 10:17-20, which reports the return of the Seventy-two, is based on the Anthology (Anth.), the more Hebraic of Luke’s sources. The version in Luke 9:10, which reports the return of the Twelve, is derived from the First Reconstruction (FR). Originally, both versions pertained to the mission of the Twelve, but since the author of Luke desired to include both versions of the apostles’ mission in his Gospel, he attributed the Anth. version to the Seventy-two rather than to the Twelve.[4]

Mark’s version of Return of the Twelve is mainly based on Luke 9:10, but since Mark also used Anth., it is possible that some of the differences between Luke 9:10 and Mark 6:30 reflect Mark’s knowledge of Anth.[5]

Crucial Issues

  1. Did the apostles exorcise demons by pronouncing Jesus’ name, or did they exorcise demons on the strength of Jesus’ authority?
  2. Who saw Satan fall—Jesus or the demons?
  3. When did the fall of Satan happen?
  4. Did Satan fall from heaven, or was his fall like lightning from the sky?
  5. What do snakes and scorpions have to do with the fall of Satan?

Comment

L1 καὶ συνάγονται (Mark 6:30). Mark opens Return of the Twelve using an historical present. Since historical presents are un-Hebraic and characteristic of Markan redaction, we conclude that καὶ συνάγονται (kai sūnagontai, “and they gather”) in Mark 6:30 is simply a paraphrase of Luke 9:10.[6]

καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες (GR). Both of Luke’s versions of Return of the Twelve open with the verb ὑποστρέφειν (hūpostrefein, “to return”). Although Luke 10:17 is based on Anth., while Luke 9:10 is based on FR, we believe that FR preserved the original wording of Anth. in Luke 9:10 better than the author of Luke did in Luke 10:17.[7] The author of Luke thoroughly edited the narrative introduction of Return of the Twelve in Luke 10:17, changing “the apostles” to “the Seventy-two” (see below, Comment to L2), and likely abbreviating the description of the apostles’ return (see below, Comments to L5 and L6). Moreover, sentences with the καί + participle + aorist structure, such as we find in Luke 9:10 (καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες…διηγήσαντο; “and returning…they reported”), are common in LXX where they translate vav-consecutive + vav-consecutive sentences. Observe the following examples from Genesis:

וַיַּרְא וַיָּרָץ

…and he saw and he ran….

καὶ ἰδὼν προσέδραμεν

…and seeing, he ran…. (Gen. 18:2)

וַיִּגַּשׁ אַבְרָהָם וַיֹּאמַר

And Abraham approached and said….

καὶ ἐγγίσας Αβρααμ εἶπεν

And approaching, Abraham said…. (Gen. 18:23)

וַיַּעֲקֹד אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתוֹ עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ

…and he bound Isaac, his son, and set him on the altar….

καὶ συμποδίσας Ισαακ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐπέθηκεν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον

…and binding Isaac, his son, he set him on the altar…. (Gen. 22:9)

וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת קֹלוֹ וַיֵּבְךְּ

…and he raised his voice and wept.

καὶ βοήσας τῇ φωνῇ αὐτοῦ ἔκλαυσεν

…and raising his voice, he wept. (Gen. 29:11)

וַיְחַבֶּק לוֹ וַיְנַשֶּׁק לוֹ

…and he embraced him and kissed him….

καὶ περιλαβὼν αὐτὸν ἐφίλησεν

…and embracing him, he kissed him…. (Gen. 29:13)[8]

L2 οἱ ἑβδομήκοντα δύο (Luke 10:17). NT manuscripts vary regarding whether the number of disciples was seventy-two or seventy.[9] In either case, we regard the Seventy-two (or Seventy) as a literary device created by the author of Luke, which allowed him to report both versions of the apostles’ mission in his two main sources, Anth. and FR, without appearing to be redundant. In both Luke 9:10 and Mark 6:30 we find οἱ ἀπόστολοι (hoi apostoloi, “the apostles”), which appears to be the original wording of Anth.[10] On reconstructing ἀπόστολος with שָׁלִיחַ, see Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L10-11.

L3 πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν (Mark 6:30). It is difficult to decide whether Mark added “to Jesus” on his own, or whether he copied πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν (pros ton Iēsoun, “to the Jesus”) from Anth. Against Mark is the agreement of both of Luke’s versions to omit “to Jesus”; however, since the author of Luke thoroughly edited Luke 10:17, the omission of πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν in both of Luke’s versions may simply be coincidental. Robert Lindsey described FR as an abbreviated version of Anth. with a more polished style of Greek. It would therefore be unsurprising if the First Reconstructor omitted “to Jesus,” even if this phrase had appeared in his source. It is common in Hebrew narrative to find sentences like “And Abraham returned to his servants” (Gen. 22:19) or “And the messengers returned to Jacob” (Gen. 32:7), which are similar to “And the apostles returned to Jesus.” So perhaps in L3 we have one of those rare instances where Mark preserves a little of the Anthology’s wording better than Luke does.

אֶל יֵשׁוּעַ (HR). On reconstructing the name Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous, “Jesus”) as יֵשׁוּעַ (Yēshūa‘), see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L12.

Compare our GR and HR to the following biblical verses:

וַיָּשָׁב אַבְרָהָם אֶל נְעָרָיו

ἀπεστράφη δὲ Αβρααμ πρὸς τοὺς παῖδας αὐτοῦ

And Abraham returned to his servants. (Gen. 22:19)

וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַמַּלְאָכִים אֶל יַעֲקֹב

καὶ ἀνέστρεψαν οἱ ἄγγελοι πρὸς Ιακωβ

And the messengers returned to Jacob…. (Gen. 32:7)

וַיָּשָׁב מֹשֶׁה אֶל יי

ὑπέστρεψεν δὲ Μωυσῆς πρὸς κύριον

And Moses returned to the LORD…. (Exod. 32:31)

וַיָּשָׁב אַהֲרֹן אֶל מֹשֶׁה

καὶ ἐπέστρεψεν Ααρων πρὸς Μωυσῆν

And Aaron returned to Moses…. (Num. 17:15)

וַיָּשֻׁבוּ אֶל יְהוֹשֻׁעַ

καὶ ἀνέστρεψαν πρὸς Ἰησοῦν

And they returned to Joshua…. (Josh. 7:3)

L4 μετὰ χαρᾶς (Luke 10:17). According to the version of Return of the Twelve that Luke copied from Anth., the apostles returned “with joy.” Although some scholars regard μετὰ χαρᾶς (meta charas, “with joy”) as editorial,[11] it is easy to reconstruct “with joy” in Hebrew, and joy is an important theme of the entire pericope. We have retained μετὰ χαρᾶς in GR, supposing that the First Reconstructor omitted this detail in Luke 9:10, just as he had omitted πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν (see above, Comment to L3).

בְּשִׂמְחָה (HR). The phrase μετὰ χαρᾶς could be reconstructed either as בִּרְנָנָה (birnānāh, “with rejoicing”) or בְּשִׂמְחָה (besimḥāh, “with joy”), but since רְנָנָה is quite rare in comparison with שִׂמְחָה we have preferred the latter for HR.[12]

In LXX בְּשִׂמְחָה is usually translated as ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ (en evfrosūnē, “in joy”),[13] but it is also rendered as μετ᾿ εὐφροσύνης (met evfrosūnēs, “with joy”; 2 Esd. 3:12; Ezek. 36:5), and once as μετὰ χαρᾶς (1 Chr. 29:22), the phrase found in Luke 10:17. If “with joy” in Luke 10:17 does reflect the phrase בְּשִׂמְחָה from an underlying Hebrew Ur-text, then its translation as μετὰ χαρᾶς was not based on the standard translation of בְּשִׂמְחָה in LXX.

L5 διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ (GR). As noted above (Comment to L1), in LXX καί + participle + aorist constructions are frequently used to translate vav-consecutive + vav-consecutive sentences. Not only is Luke 9:10 easy to reconstruct in Hebrew, but since the author of Luke edited Luke 10:17 to a greater or lesser degree, we have preferred the longer FR version of the introduction to Return of the Twelve for GR here in L5. Mark appears to have used ἀπαγγέλειν (apangelein, “to bring news”) as a replacement for Luke’s διηγεῖσθαι (diēgeisthai, “to tell,” “to explain”). In LXX διηγεῖσθαι is almost always the translation of סִפֵּר (sipēr, “tell,” “explain”).

L6 πάντα ὅσα ἐποίησαν (GR). Again in L6 we encounter one of those exceptional cases where Mark appears to preserve the reading of Anth. better than Luke does. Whereas Luke 9:10 reads ὅσα ἐποίησαν (hosa epoiēsan, “that they did”), Mark 6:30 has πάντα ὅσα ἐποίησαν (panta hosa epoiēsan, “all that they did”). The inclusion of the single word πάντα (panta, “all”), which the author of Mark evidently picked up from Anth., suggests that in the introduction of the Return of the Twelve pericope the author of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua intended to allude to Exod. 18:8, where Moses tells his father-in-law Jethro about all that God had done for Israel.[14] Compare GR and HR L1-6 with Exod. 18:8:

καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες οἱ ἀπόστολοι πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν μετὰ χαρᾶς διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ πάντα ὅσα ἐποίησαν

 

וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַשְּׁלִיחִים אֶל יֵשׁוּעַ בְּשִׂמְחָה וַיְסַפְּרוּ לוֹ אֶת כֹּל אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ

 

And the apostles returned to Jesus with joy and told him all that they had done.

καὶ διηγήσατο Μωυσῆς τῷ γαμβρῷ πάντα ὅσα ἐποίησεν κύριος τῷ Φαραω καὶ τοῖς Αἰγυπτίοις ἕνεκεν τοῦ Ισραηλ, καὶ πάντα τὸν μόχθον τὸν γενόμενον αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ καὶ ὅτι ἐξείλατο αὐτοὺς κύριος

וַיְסַפֵּר מֹשֶׁה לְחֹתְנוֹ אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יי לְפַרְעֹה וּלְמִצְרַיִם עַל אוֹדֹת יִשְׂרָ