Debts (Mt 5:25-5:26)

“Come to terms quickly

With your accuser,

While you are

On the way

To court.

Otherwise,

Your accuser

May hand you over

To the judge.

The judge

May hand you over

To the guard.

You will be

Thrown into prison.

Truly,

I say to you!

‘You will never get out

Until you have paid

The last penny.’”

 

ἴσθι εὐνοῶν τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ σου ταχὺ ἕως ὅτου εἶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ· μή ποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ, καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ, καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ·

ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην.

 

Jesus, via Matthew, had some common-sense advice that seems to come from the common source Q, since Luke, chapter 12:58-59, has almost exactly the same saying.  If you had a court case, try to settle it quickly before you get to court with the person that you owed money to.  You should be agreeable to your accuser (ἴσθι εὐνοῶν τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ σου).  You should try to solve this case with your accuser on the way to court (ἕως ὅτου εἶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ).  Otherwise, this accuser would turn you over to a judge (μή ποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ), who would in turn send you to a guard (καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ), who would throw you into jail or a prison (καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ).  Then Matthew has this solemn statement of Jesus (ἀμὴν λέγω σοι), just like Luke.  You would never get out of jail (οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν) until you have paid off the last κοδράντην (ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην).  This κοδράντην was a 1/10 of a drachma, about .03 cents, generally translated as a penny.  Settle your debts before you go to court!

Treat the meek correctly (Isa 29:19-29:21)

“The meek shall obtain fresh joy

In Yahweh.

The neediest people shall exult

In the Holy One of Israel.

The tyrant shall be no more.

The scoffer will cease to be.

All those alert to do evil

Shall be cut off.

All those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit

Shall be cut off.

All those who set a trap for the arbiter at the gate

Shall be cut off.

All those who without grounds

Deny justice to the one in the right

Shall be cut off.”

The meek and the needy will be rewarded. They will find joy in the Lord and exult in the Holy One of Israel, God. The tyrants and the scoffers will cease to exist.   Those doing evil will be cut off. If you cause a person to lose a lawsuit or set a trap for the judge at the gate, you will be cut off. If you deny justice to a person who was right, you will be cut off. This warning is strong. Do not take advantage of meek and needy people.

Good government (Sir 10:1-10:5)

“A wise magistrate educates his people.

The rule of an intelligent person is well ordered.

As the people’s judge is,

So are his officials.

As the ruler of the city is,

So are all its inhabitants.

An undisciplined king ruins his people.

A city becomes fit to live in

Through the understanding of its rulers.

The government of the earth

Is in the hands of the Lord.

Over it,

He will raise up the right leader

For the time.

Human success is

In the hand of the Lord.

He confers honor upon the lawgiver.”

Sirach explains why good government is so important. A wise leader educates his people. An intelligent person will have a well ordered city. The city officials get their sense of government from the judge. The inhabitants of a city get their sense of government from their ruler. Rulers are the ones who make a city livable. However, the government is in the hands of the Lord with the divine right of kings. God will then make sure that the right leader is there at the right time. The Lord holds human success in his hands. He is the one who confers honors on his legislators and scribes.