The serpents (Mt 23:33-23:33)

“You snakes!

You brood of vipers!

How can you

Escape

Being sentenced

To Gehenna?”

 

ὄφεις, γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς φύγητε ἀπὸ τῆς κρίσεως τῆς γεέννης;

 

This attack on the Pharisees and Scribes is somewhat similar to the attack that John the Baptist had against the Pharisees and Sadducees earlier in Matthew, chapter 3:7.  When they came to be baptized by John, he was critical of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  He told them that they were like a group of vipers or poisonous snakes (Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν), who would kill young people.  Here there is no mention of the Sadducees.  But the Pharisees and Scribes are called snakes (ὄφεις) and a brood of vipers or a group of poisonous snakes (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν).  Jesus wanted to know how they could escape (πῶς φύγητε) being sentenced to Gehenna or hell (ἀπὸ τῆς κρίσεως τῆς γεέννης).  The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom that was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.

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