The Gospel according to Matthew
The gospel text below is from The Anchor Bible Matthew, intro, translation and notes by W.F. Albright and C. S. Mann.
16 : The Great Instruction:
21 “You have heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother shaill be in danger of (divine) judgment. Whoever insults his brother will answer to the Sanhedrin, while whoever says ‘Rebel! (against God)’ merits a fiery death. 23 Therefore if you bring your offering to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar, and go away. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms with your accuser quickly, while you are on the way to court] with him, lest he hand you over to the judge, the judge hand you over to the jailer, and you are thrown into prison. 26 I assure you that you will never come out until you have paid your last cent.
21 – it was said ~ rabbinic oral tradition
– to the ancients – the pre-rabbinic oral Torah
22 – If there is a witness, the case goes to a court incl the Sanhedrin
– Whoever insults = Gr says raka (Aramaic, conterminous term of address not infrequent in rabbinic writings)
– Rebel! (against God) – a public slander
– fiery death – Gehenna – a small valley (of Hinnom) in Jerusalem in which fires burned trash and garbage perpetually https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gehenna
These do not seem to be so much injunctions to comply with God as to achieve a settlement with others (brothers).
17 : The Great Instruction:
The Law—Adultery (5:27-30)
27 “You have heard the command, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that everyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, take it out and throw it away. It iis better for you to lose one of your members than for the whole of your body to be cast into hell. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than for the whole of your whole body to be cast into hell.
27 – do not commit adultery, incl. lustful thinking, which is not original with Jesus: Cf. “If one gazes”—i.e,. lustfully—“at the little finger of a woman, it is as if he gazed at her pudenda”(TB Berakkhot, 24a).
29 – right eye ~ right hand, the more active of the organs.
30 – Rabbinic literature retains a expressions denoting that certain acts by the hand deserve the punishment of mutilation (cf. TB, Shabbath 88b; Midrash, Niddah ii. I.
18 : The Great Instruction:
The Law—Marriage (5:31-32)
31 “It is said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate to that effect.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except in the case of adultery, makes her an adulteress, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
31 – it is said – by the rabbis
32 – the Gk porneia = adultery. In contrast to Mark and Luke no simple prohibition of divorce.
19 : The Great Instruction:
The Law—Oaths (5:33-37)
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘Do not make vows rashly,’ but ‘Be careful to pay any vows made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you–do not swear at all. Not by heaven, for it is God’s the throne, 35 nor by earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Do not swear even by your head, for you cannot make one hair black or white. 37 Let your words be ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Anything more than this is of evil origin.
33 –Vows were always accompanied by an oath. So, a promise to do something was bound by invoking the assistance of a higher power: e.g.
“I promise to uphold the Constitution, so help me God.”
37 – The Talmud shows this was a subject rabbis commonly addressed.
20 : The Great Instruction:
The Law—Retaliation (5:38-42)
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist one who is evil. 39 But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well. 49 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cape too. 41 If anyone presses you into service to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you for a loan, and do not refuse one who is unable to pay interest.
38 – the lex talionis limited the scope of retaliation and blood feud.
39 – turn the other: it is still true in the Middle East that the greatest insult is to strike the right cheek with the back of the right hand. Jesus here redefines the civility of his followers.
40 – A garment is not likely to be loaned: this is case-law.
42 – Jesus is not asking his followers to be the victims of bad actors.
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