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Do As They Say, Not As They Do
- Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and His disciples,
- saying: “The scribes and Pharisees sat down on Moses’ seat.
- “Therefore in all things – as many as they tell you – do and observe. But don’t act according to their deeds, for they speak and don’t act.
- “They tie up heavy [and oppressive] burdens and lay them on the shoulders of men, but they aren’t willing to move them with their finger.
- “And they do all their deeds to be seen by men, for they broaden their phylacteries(1)a “phylactery” was a small leather case worn on the body like an amulet. It contained four important passages of scripture (Ex 13:1-10, Ex 11-16, Duet 6:4-9 , Deut 13-21). They were strapped to left arm facing the heart, or to the head and/or wrist to signify that God through the scriptures should guide all thoughts and actions. They did this as an extremely literal way of looking at Deuteronomy 6:8. and enlarge their tassels.(2)“Tassels” In Numbers 15:37-40, God commanded Israel to put blue tassels on the corners of their garments so they would remember to obey Him when they saw them. These tassels were called “tzitzit”, and apparently the Pharisees preferred large ones to ensure everyone knew that they were complying with that command.
- “And they love the chief place at dinners, and the chief seat at the synagogues,
- “and the greetings in the assembly or market,(3)“assembly or market” is one word in Greek. It can mean either a place of assembly by men, or by implication a market. Technically, including both translations is double translating (translating the same word twice two different ways). However, both meanings were included because both are relevant and equally likely. and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by men.
- “But you shouldn’t be called ‘Rabbi’, for only One is your teacher and all of you are brothers.
- “And you shouldn’t call anyone on the earth your father, for One is your Father, and He’s in heaven.
- “Nor should you be called master teachers,(4)“master teacher” is one word in Greek, referring to a leader who guides by instructing. In Modern Greek, this word refers to a “professor”. because One is your master teacher; the Anointed.
- “But the greatest among you will be your servant.
- “And whoever will exalt himself will be humbled, and whoever will humble himself will be exalted.
Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees
- “But woe to you Scribes and Pharisees – you hypocrites – because you shut up kingdom of the heavens before men. For you don’t enter, nor allow the men who are entering to enter.
- [“Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees – you hypocrites – because you devour widow’s houses and are praying long prayers for appearance’ sake. Because of this, you will receive a greater judgement.]
- “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees – you hypocrites – because you travel across the sea and dry land to make one convert to Judaism. And when he becomes one, you make him twice a son of the Valley of Hinnom(5)“the Valley of Hinnom” most translations render this “hell” but any lexicon will tell you it’s a proper noun referring to a specific valley – the Valley of Hinnom – just outside Jerusalem. Symbolically, it’s where the Jews believed the wicked were punished in the afterlife. However, it also has historical significance which is lost when it’s merely translated “hell”. Two kings of Israel sacrificed babies as burnt offerings to the pagan gods Baal and Moloch in the Valley of Hinnom. (2 Chronicles 28:1-3, 2 Chronicles 33:6, Jeremiah 7:30-31) Because of this, God sentenced them to judgement through the prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 19:1-11) Their sentence was carried out about 20 years later when Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem. He burned almost everything and enslaved all Judah. (2 kings 25:1-12). Jesus words here about “sons of the Valley of Hinnom” likely indicates He was condemning them as being just as guilty as those kings. as you are.
- “Woe to you blind guides; you men who say: “Whoever swears by the temple, it’s nothing. But whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.”
- “You foolish and blind men! For which is greater: the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold?
- “And you say: “Whoever swears by the altar, it’s nothing. But whoever swears by the gift that’s on it, he is obligated.
- “You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar which sanctifies the gift?”
- “Therefore, the man who swore by the altar, he swears by it and by everything upon it.
- “And the man who swore by the temple, he swears by it and by the One who inhabits it.
- “And the man who swore by heaven, he swears by the throne of God and the One who sits upon it.
- “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees – you hypocrites – because you pay tithes of mint, and dill, and cumin, and neglect the weightier parts of the law: justice, and mercy, and faithfulness. But it’s required to do these, without neglecting those.
- “You blind guides! You men who strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!
- “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees – you hypocrites – because you clean the outside of the cup and the dish,(6)“dish”, this Greek word refers to a dish in/on which light food or appetizers are served. Specifically, expensive or choice food which is delightful, but doesn’t satisfy hunger. but within they’re full of robbery and no self-control.
- “You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup [and the dish], so its outside might also become clean.
- “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees – you hypocrites – because you are like tombs which have been whitewashed. Which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead bones and all impurity.
- “And in the same way, you indeed appear outwardly righteous to men, but within are full of hypocrisy and have no regard for God’s commands.(7)“no regard for God’s commands ” is one word in Greek, and is more literally “no regard for God’s law”. It’s a noun, and literally means “those who are without law”; i.e. those who – either by ignorance or by rebellion – don’t obey God’s (moral) law.
- “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees – you hypocrites – because you build the tombs of the prophets and beautifully decorate the mausoleums(8)“mausoleums” the Greek word here refers to a monument and/or memorial tomb. The word “mausoleum” means a free-standing tomb constructed as a monument or memorial for a deceased person. of the righteous.
- “And you say: “If we were living in the days of our fathers, we wouldn’t be partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.
- “So then, you yourselves testify that you’re sons of the men who murdered the prophets.
- “And you; complete the standard of your fathers.
- “You snakes! You offspring of serpents! How will you escape from the sentence of the Valley of Hinnom?(9)“Valley of Hinnom” most translations render this “hell” but any lexicon will tell you it’s a proper noun referring to a specific valley – the Valley of Hinnom – just outside Jerusalem. Symbolically, it’s where the Jews believed the wicked were punished in the afterlife. However, it also has historical significance which is lost when it’s merely translated “hell”. Two kings of Israel sacrificed babies as burnt offerings to the pagan gods Baal and Moloch in the Valley of Hinnom. (2 Chronicles 28:1-3, 2 Chronicles 33:6, Jeremiah 7:30-31) As a result, God sentenced them to judgement through the prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 19:1-11) Their sentence was carried out about 20 years later when Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem. He burned almost everything and enslaved all Judah. (2 kings 25:1-12) It was the worst judgement Israel had yet seen. This happened again a few decades after Jesus when Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. Here, Jesus was likely making a double reference to punishment in the afterlife and earthly judgement.
Lament Over Jerusalem
- “Because of this, behold! I send prophets, and wise men, and scribes to you. You will kill and crucify some of them, and some of them you will flog in your synagogues, and some you will persecute from city to city,
- “so that all the righteous blood being shed on the earth will come upon you: from the blood of righteous Abel up to Zechariah son of Berekiah, who you murdered between the temple and the altar.
- “Amen I tell you: all these will come upon this generation.
- “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem; you who kill the prophets and stone the men who have been sent to her. How often I wished to gather your children the way that a hen gathers her chicks under her wings; and you weren’t willing.
- “Behold! Your house is left to you desolate.
- “For I tell you: you definitely won’t see Me from now until you say: blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.”
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