Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Does Matthew 23 suggest that the Pharisees in Yeshua’s day HAD to be obeyed, in spite of their own unholy behavior?


I’ve been having a discussion with someone who has rejected Jesus, and they are telling me that Matthew 23 says that the Pharisees in Yeshua’s day HAD to be obeyed, never mind that they didn’t even follow their own rules. What say you guys?


That’s total nonsense! This person, like so many, is viewing the New Treatment through a Greek mindset. Let’s take a look at the context of that entire chapter via the Hebraic mindset:

Matthew 23:1. Y’shua then spoke with the crowds and with his disciples. 2. And he said to them, The scribes and the Pharisees sit on the seat of Moshe[1] 3. Therefore everything that they[2] say to you that you should keep and do. But not according to their deeds, for they talk, but do not. 4. And they bind heavy burdens and place them upon the shoulders of the sons of men, but they do not desire to touch them with their fingers.


[1] The Aramaic word korseya (Hebrew cognate kisseh- see Genesis 41:40) specifically means “throne”, exactly as in the Aramaic portion of Daniel 7:9. Y’shua is describing a seat of judgment that implies YHWH’s authority. So while Y’shua vigorously rebukes the scribes and the Pharisees for rebellion, hypocrisy, and their man made traditions that make void the Torah; he also recognizes them as the rightful inheritors of Torah-based halakha (applying the Word of YHWH to our lives).

This would include the ancient Priesthood calendar that the Pharisees followed for keeping the Feasts. There are no accounts in the New Testament or in Jewish history of Y’shua or the Apostles departing from the calendar that the Pharisees sanctified. Y’shua and the Apostles routinely taught in synagogues of the Pharisees and in the Temple and observed the moedim (Set Times) in unity.

[2] A very late and unattested reading in Shem Tob Matthew states: “everything ‘he’ (Moshe) tells you to do, do it.” This rendering is nonsense; Y’shua would not mention Moshe when the Pharisees are “they” who sit in Moshe’s seat. Peshitta and Greek texts agree that since the Pharisees sit in Moshe’s seat they should teach Moshe but, instead, they elevate their oral traditions above Torah. The fact of the matter is, if they would actually study Torah, they would know Y’shua is Mashiyach. Y’shua returns to this point in John 5:46-47.

Matthew 23:5. And they do all their deeds that they might be seen by the sons of men. For they widen their Tefillin[3] and lengthen the Tekhelet[4] of their robes. 6. And they love the chief places at festivals and the chief seats at the assembly. 7. And a greeting in the streets, and to be called Rabbi by men. 8. But you should not be called “My Great One”,[5] for there is only one Who is Great and you are all brothers


[3] Leather box/straps containing Bible verses that traditional observant Jews bind on their arms and foreheads during daily prayer, except on Shabbat (Deut. 6:8-PY).

[4] The “ribbon of blue” of the “tzitzit” (fringes), as commanded in Num. 15:38. “Tekhelet” can also refer to tzitzit, or even the whole prayer shawl/talit.

[5] Aramaic here does not mean "Rabbi" as in "teacher" per se, as in Matthew 28 Y'shua commands his disciples to teach the world. Instead, Y'shua is addressing the more literal meaning of “rab” which is “great” as shown in Genesis 6:5, “the wickedness of man was great on the earth.” The previous eight verses teach against elitist behavior, so "do not be called My Great One, for you have One that is Great, YHWH." This is directed to the Rabbis (leaders) themselves, not to the followers. Certainly this does not win popularity among the Rabbis.

Matthew 23:. 9. And do not call yourself Father[6] for your Father is one who is in heaven. 10. And you should not be called leaders, because one is your leader, the Mashiyach. 11. But he who is greatest among you, let him be a servant to you. 12. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 13. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven before the sons of men. For you are not entering yourselves, and those who would enter you do not allow to enter.[7]


[6] This prohibition against calling leaders “father” is to avoid giving high status to men which is due unto YHWH. Catholics openly defy this commandment, but all institutions who use flattering titles for leaders are culpable; see Job 32:21-12. Isaiah 56:10-12 exposes leaders who “can never have enough” and who keep their “followers” in spiritual and often financial poverty by seeking personal gain for themselves. See also 1 Timothy 4:3 .

[7] There can be no doubt that religious leaders are the greatest stumbling block that keeps people from entering into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 23:14. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you consume the houses of widows, and that for a pretense you lengthen your prayers. Because this you will receive a greater judgment. 15. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you traverse sea and land that you might make one proselyte, and when he has become one, you make him double the son of Gehenna that you are yourselves. 16. Woe to you blind guides, for you say that whoever swears by the temple is not anything, but who swears by the gold of the temple is guilty.

17. You are blind fools, for what is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18. And whoever swears by the altar, it is not anything, but he who swears by the offering that is upon it is guilty. 19. You are blind fools! What is greater, the offering or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20. Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and all things that are upon it. 21. And whoever swears by the temple, swears by it and by He who dwells in it. 22. And whoever swears by Heaven swears by the throne of Elohim, and by Him who sits upon it.

23. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and you overlook the weightiest[8] things of Torah: Judgment[9] and Mercy[10] and Faith.[11] And these things were necessary for you to have done, and these things you should not have forgotten. 24. Blind guides who strain at gnats and swallow camels. 25. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate but inside they are full of extortion and iniquity. 26. Blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cup and of the plate, Then the outside will be clean also.


[8] Lighter or weightier (kol v’homer) is a principle that Y’shua employs on many occasions. In Matt. 6:30 Y’shua teaches that if Elohim clothes the fields with grass (lighter), then how much more will he take care of your needs? (weightier)

[9] The Mitzvot (Commandments) of YHWH are categorized as Mishpatim (Judgments), Edyut (Testimonies) and Khokim (Statutes). The Judgments are the moral or ethical Commandments that differentiate right from wrong.

[10] Hosea 6:6

[11] Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:4

Matthew 23:27. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you are like white tombs that appear beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are filled with the bones and all the corruption of the dead. 28. Thus you also appear on the outside as righteous men to the sons of men. On the inside you are filled with iniquity and hypocrisy. 29. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and you adorn the sepulchers of the righteous.[12] 30. And you say that if we had been in the days of our forefathers, we would not have been participants with them in the blood of the prophets.


[12] A “marketing strategy” of the Pharisees is to posture themselves as being obedient to YHWH’s Prophets, and thus appear to legitimize their authority regarding Torah and the Prophets. A similar strategy is adopted by Christians who postures themselves as authorities on the Jewish Mashiyach, but who instead promote pagan religious traditions; these “crucify” Mashiyach daily by choosing to willfully neglect the Word of YHWH.

Matthew 23:31. Whereby you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who killed the prophets. 32. And you also fill up the measure of your forefathers. 33. Serpents! Offspring of vipers! How will you flee from the judgment of Gehenna? 34. Behold, because of this I will send to you prophets and wise men and scribes. Some of them you will kill, and you will execute them on stakes, and some of them you will scourge in your assemblies. And you will pursue them from city to city,

35. So that will come upon you all the blood of the righteous. And up to the blood of Zakharya,[13] the son of Brakhya, he whom you killed between the temple and the altar. 36. Truly I say to you that all these things will come upon this generation. 37. Urishlim! Urishlim! Murderess of the prophets and stoner of those that are sent to her. How often I have desired to gather your children like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you did not desire it! 38. Behold, your house is left desolate.[14] 39. I say to you that you will not see me from now on until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Master YHWH.”[15] (Aramaic English New Testament)


[13] Meshikha (Mashiyach in Aramaic) is using the Hebrew canonical order of Tanakh. By referring to the righteous blood of Haweel (Abel, recorded in Genesis) and of Zakharya (Zechariah, 2 Chronicles), Meshikha is making reference to the first and last book of the Hebrew canon. The meaning of Meshikha’s teaching is clear; the blood of every righteous person recorded in all of Scripture will come upon the scribes and Pharisees.

[14] Jeremiah 22:5

[15] Psalm 118:26

1 comment:

  1. A friend of ours, Jennifer Schreiner Dent, sent the following comments concerning our article above:

    Y'shua told the Pharisees and scribes that if they believed Moshe they would believe Him, for Moshe testified of Him. Moshe was obviously given authority to speak and teach the words of YHVH, aka: Torah (as was THE Prophet, Y'shua ha Mashiach); so wouldn't either translation of Matt. 23 be accurate, since the religious leaders sat in Moses seat/throne (under YHVH's authority) and read Moshe's words but lived their own rulings? They were, therefore, hypocrites. Not only that, but they taught those rulings to the people and required the people to obey them.

    As is evidenced above, "some people" read this verse to mean we are to obey Torah AND the rabbinic rulings, even when those rulings contradict, add to, or take away from Torah; and the rabbis teach that they've been given unquestionable authority to interpret Torah according to individual opinion, and anyone who has a problem with that are in rebellion to YHVH, Himself. That's not only hypocritical and wrong, but their rulings, in many cases, place heavy burdens upon God's people that even they, as leaders of the people, were unable to bear.

    Judaism and Catholicism both believe they have the authority to create their own rules and place them above God's instructions. This is why mainstream Christianity is such a mess, with over 40,000 denominations and sects; and why Christians that have been in these denominations for a lifetime are so resistant to truth. It's also why some who come to the truth wind up in Judaism. People simply prefer bondage to men's traditions above God's way of liberty. Don't ask me why!


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