After Yeshua made it clear that an important part of his mission was to correctly interpret the Torah (see August 30, 2013 blog, “Yeshua Came to Fulfill the Law not Abolish It”) he does just that. He will use the method of teaching, which is called “Fence Building” (see September 5, 2013 blog, “Yeshua Master Fence Builder”), along with other popular methods used by Jewish teachers of that time period. Now, let’s listen to a master teacher teach the Torah. It will become very clear that knowledge of the Torah is essential to digging much deeper into the words he used whenever he taught. This lesson is just as applicable for Jews and non-Jews today as it was to his Jewish audience almost 2,000 years ago.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subjected to the Bet Din.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to the Bet Din.’”
Yeshua began by connecting a heavy or serious commandment with a light or lesser serious commandment.
Heavy Commandment = You shall not murder.
Light Commandment = You shall not be angry with your brother.
“You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) is a commandment that most people recognize from the Ten Commandments, but where is the commandment “you shall not be angry with your brother”? As we study the teachings of Yeshua, we will discover that some of his most important interpretations of the Torah are linked to a specific section in the Torah -- Leviticus 19:17-18:
You shall not hate your brother in your heart.
You shall reason with your neighbor lest you bear sin because of him.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am YAHWEH.
The link to anger in this section is the Hebrew word translated “grudge.” The same word is used in the following verses and I have underlined its translations.
(1) Will He remain angry forever? (Jeremiah 3:5a)
(2) I will not remain angry forever. (Jeremiah 3:12b)
(3) Nor will He keep His anger forever.
It will take several blogs to cover this one lesson Yeshua taught and points he made by just connecting the two commandments. However, before we can understand the points he will make about anger, we must turn our attention to the term “Bet Din.” Your translation probably has the word “judgment” instead. But, Yeshua provides us with the clue that will reveal the correct meaning here. The clue is found in the next sentence:
Again, anyone who says to a brother, ‘RAKA,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. (Matthew 5:22)
Yeshua uses many parallelisms in his teachings and they always help us understand his words much more accurately. In the above verse, he used “answerable to the Sanhedrin,” while in the previous sentence he used “subjected to the X (Bet Din or judgment).” “Bet Din” literally means “house of judgment” and was a reference to the court system of Judea.
(1) The lowest court was a Bet Din of three judges.
(2) Cases involving capital punishment were decided by a Bet Din of twenty-three judges.[i]
(3) The highest court of the land was the Sanhedrin of 71 judges.
Since Yeshua used the heavy commandment of murder, which would be tried in a Bet Din, and a reference to the Sanhedrin in parallel -- we know that he was referring to the twenty-three judge Bet Din here. This was Yeshua’s attention grabbing opening for the lesson:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be tried in the second highest court in the land, the 23 judge Bet Din.’ But I tell you – anyone who is angry with a brother would also be tried by the 23 judge Bet Din.’”
I will continue Yeshua’s lesson in the next blog.
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