Mattityahu 23

1 3 Then Moshiach spoke to the multitudes and to his Talmidim,
2 Saying, Upon the Kisei Moshe (Chair of Moses) sit the Sofrim and the Perushim.
3 Therefore, everything whatever they may tell you, be frum and be shomer, but according to their ma’asim (works) do not be shomer, for they do not practice what they preach.
4 And they tie up heavy [extra-Biblical, Mt 4:4; 15:3,6-9; 22:29] loads, hard to bear, and they place them upon the shoulders of men, but they, with so much as a finger, are not willing to lift the oppressive burdens.
5 And all their maasim hamitzvot (works of the commandments) they do in order to be seen by Bnei Adam, for they broaden their tefillin and lengthen their tzitziyot
6 and they love the places of honor at the seudot (banquet dinners), and the shuls,
7 And the [obsequious] Birkat Shalom greetings in the market places, and to be called by Bnei Adam, Rebbe.
8 But you are not to have pretentious titles like Rebbe, for One is your Rebbe [Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach], and all of you are Achim b’Moshiach.
9 And do not refer to anyone in the Olam Hazeh as your Abba, for One is your Av shbaShomayim.
10 Neither be called Moreinu, for One is your Moreh (teacher) the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach [Moreinu].
11 And the greatest among you will be your eved mesharet (servant, minister).
12 But whoever will lift up himself will be humbled, and whoever will humble himself will be lifted up.
13 But oy to you, Sofrim and Perushim, tzevuim (hypocrites), for in front of Bnei Adam you shut the Malchut HaShomayim. You do not go in yourselves, and the ones entering, you do not permit to enter.
14 Oy to you, Sofrim and Perushim, tzevuim! You devour the batim of almanot and for the sake of chashuve (importance) appearance you make long tefillot; therefore your gezar din (verdict) will be more severe.
15 Oy to you, Sofrim and Perushim, tzevuim. You travel over the sea and the dry land for the giyyur (proselytization) of one proselyte; then, when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Gehinnom as you.
16 Oy to you, morei derech ivrim (blind guides), the, ones saying, Whoever swears by the Beis Hamikdash, it is a worthless shevuah (oath): but whoever swears by the gold of the Beis Hamikdash, he is obligated.
17 Ivrim! (blind ones), for which is greater, the gold or the Beis Hamikdash which gives the gold its kedushah (holiness, sanctity)?
18 And whoever swears by the Mizbeach (altar), it is worthless; but whoever swears by the korban upon it, he is obligated.
19 Ivrim, blind ones, for which is greater, the korban or Mizbeach which gives the korban its kedushah (holiness, sanctity)?
20 Therefore, the one having sworn by the Mizbeach swears by it and everything upon it.
21 And the one having sworn by the Beis Hamikdash swears by it and by everything indwelling it.
22 And the one having sworn by Shomayim swears by the kes malchut of Hashem and by the One sitting upon the kes malchut.
23 Oy to you, Sofrim and Perushim, tzevuim, for you give maasros (tithe) of mint and dill and cumin, and you have neglected the matters of the Torah of greater consequence: mishpat, chesed, and emunah. These things it was necessary to do and those [others] not to neglect.
24 Morei derech ivrim (blind guides), the ones that strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.
25 Oy to you, Sofrim and Perushim, tzevuim, you cleanse the outside of the kos (cup) and the dish, but inside they are full of chamdanut (greed) and taavanut (lust).
26 Blind Parush, first cleanse the inside of the kos, that perhaps also the outside may become clean.
27 Oy to you, Sofrim and Perushim, tzevuim, for you are like kevarim (graves) having been whitewashed, which on the outside indeed appear ois vaist (ostensibly) shein (beautiful), but on the inside are full of the unclean bones of the mesim (dead ones) and every trayfnyak.
28 Thus on the outside you indeed appear tzodek (righteous) to Bnei Adam, but on the inside you are full of tzeviut (hypocrisy) and you are lawlessly against the Torah.
29 Oy to you, Sofrim and Perushim, tzevuim, for you build kevarim of the Neviim and decorate matsevot (gravestones) of the tzaddikim,
30 And you say, If we were in the yamim (days) of Avoteinu (our Fathers), we would not have been shuttafim (partners) with them in the dahm haNeviim (blood of the Prophets).
31 Therefore, you are edim (witnesses) against yourselves that you are the banim (sons) of the ratzchaniyot (murderers) of the Neviim.
32 And you fill up the measure of your Avot.
33 Snakes, you banim of nachashim, how can you escape the Yom HaDin of Gehinnom?
34 For this reason hinei! I send to you Neviim and Chachamim and Sofrim, some of whom you will kill and some you will make talui al haetz (being hanged on the Tree, DEVARIM 21:23) and some you will subject to the shot (whip) in your shuls, and you will drive them out from city to city,
35 So that upon you may come all the dahm naki (innocent blood) shed upon the earth from the blood of Hevel to the blood of Zecharyah, whom you murdered between the Heikhal and the Mizbeach. [trans. note: cf. Lk 11:51 for Mt’s probable original text here]
36 Omein, I say to you, that all these things will come upon this generation.
37 Yerushalayim, Yerushalayim, the ones that kill the Neviim and stone those having been sent to you! How often have I wanted to gather your yeladim, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you were not willing!
38 Hinei! Look! KI LECHARBAH YIH’YEH HABEIT HAZEH (for this House will become a ruin (i.e. churban) YIRMEYAH 22:5).
39 For I say to you, by no means will you see me [Moshiach] from now until you say, BARUCH HABAH BSHEM ADONOI.

Mattityahu 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

Jesus reproves the scribes and Pharisees. (1-12) Crimes of the Pharisees. (13-33) The guilt of Jerusalem. (34-39)

Verses 1-12 The scribes and Pharisees explained the law of Moses, and enforced obedience to it. They are charged with hypocrisy in religion. We can only judge according to outward appearance; but God searches the heart. They made phylacteries. These were scrolls of paper or parchment, wherein were written four paragraphs of the law, to be worn on their foreheads and left arms, ( Exodus 13:2-10 , Exodus 13:11-16 , Deuteronomy 6:4-9 , Deuteronomy 11:13-21 ) . They made these phylacteries broad, that they might be thought more zealous for the law than others. God appointed the Jews to make fringes upon their garments, ( Numbers 15:38 ) , to remind them of their being a peculiar people; but the Pharisees made them larger than common, as if they were thereby more religious than others. Pride was the darling, reigning sin of the Pharisees, the sin that most easily beset them, and which our Lord Jesus takes all occasions to speak against. For him that is taught in the word to give respect to him that teaches, is commendable; but for him that teaches, to demand it, to be puffed up with it, is sinful. How much is all this against the spirit of Christianity! The consistent disciple of Christ is pained by being put into chief places. But who that looks around on the visible church, would think this was the spirit required? It is plain that some measure of this antichristian spirit prevails in every religious society, and in every one of our hearts.

Verses 13-33 The scribes and Pharisees were enemies to the gospel of Christ, and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but worse also to keep others from him. Yet it is no new thing for the show and form of godliness to be made a cloak to the greatest enormities. But dissembled piety will be reckoned double iniquity. They were very busy to turn souls to be of their party. Not for the glory of God and the good of souls, but that they might have the credit and advantage of making converts. Gain being their godliness, by a thousand devices they made religion give way to their worldly interests. They were very strict and precise in smaller matters of the law, but careless and loose in weightier matters. It is not the scrupling a little sin that Christ here reproves; if it be a sin, though but a gnat, it must be strained out; but the doing that, and then swallowing a camel, or, committing a greater sin. While they would seem to be godly, they were neither sober nor righteous. We are really, what we are inwardly. Outward motives may keep the outside clean, while the inside is filthy; but if the heart and spirit be made new, there will be newness of life; here we must begin with ourselves. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners' hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. We sometimes think, if we had lived when Christ was upon earth, that we should not have despised and rejected him, as men then did; yet Christ in his Spirit, in his word, in his ministers, is still no better treated. And it is just with God to give those up to their hearts' lusts, who obstinately persist in gratifying them. Christ gives men their true characters.

Verses 34-39 Our Lord declares the miseries the inhabitants of Jerusalem were about to bring upon themselves, but he does not notice the sufferings he was to undergo. A hen gathering her chickens under her wings, is an apt emblem of the Saviour's tender love to those who trust in him, and his faithful care of them. He calls sinners to take refuge under his tender protection, keeps them safe, and nourishes them to eternal life. The present dispersion and unbelief of the Jews, and their future conversion to Christ, were here foretold. Jerusalem and her children had a large share of guilt, and their punishment has been signal. But ere long, deserved vengeance will fall on every church which is Christian in name only. In the mean time the Saviour stands ready to receive all who come to him. There is nothing between sinners and eternal happiness, but their proud and unbelieving unwillingness.

Mattityahu 23 Commentaries