Do what they say, not what they do (Mt 23:2-23:3)

“The Scribes

And the Pharisees

Sit on Moses’ seat.

Therefore,

Do whatever

They teach you.

But they do not practice

What they teach.”

 

λέγων Ἐπὶ τῆς Μωϋσέως καθέδρας ἐκάθισαν οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι.

πάντα οὖν ὅσα ἐὰν εἴπωσιν ὑμῖν ποιήσατε καὶ τηρεῖτε, κατὰ δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν μὴ ποιεῖτε· λέγουσιν γὰρ καὶ οὐ ποιοῦσιν.

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:38, who only talked about the Scribes and not the Pharisees.  In Luke, chapter 20:45, Jesus was only speaking to his disciples.  Jesus said that the Scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat (λέγων Ἐπὶ τῆς Μωϋσέως καθέδρας ἐκάθισαν οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι).  In other words, they knew the Torah, the Law of Moses, so that they spoke with authority.  Notice the importance of the seat or “καθέδρας” that later had such an important role in the Roman Catholic interpretation of the Pope or Bishop of Rome on his seat, speaking “ex cathedra” in an official capacity.  Thus, the Pharisees and Scribes were on this seat of Moses, so that they had the proper authority to teach.  The result was that the people should do all the things that the Scribes and Pharisees taught them (πάντα οὖν ὅσα ἐὰν εἴπωσιν ὑμῖν ποιήσατε καὶ τηρεῖτε).  However, they were not practicing or doing what they were teaching (λέγουσιν γὰρ καὶ οὐ ποιοῦσιν), so that you were not to follow or do their actions (τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν μὴ ποιεῖτε).  Jesus accepted their teachings but not their actions.

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Moses and Elijah appear (Mt 17:3-17:3)

“Suddenly,

There appeared to them

Moses

And Elijah.

They were talking

With Jesus.”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ ὤφθη αὐτοῖς Μωϋσῆς καὶ Ἡλείας συνλαλοῦντες μετ’ αὐτοῦ.

 

This appearance of Moses and Elijah can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:4, Luke, chapter 9:30, and here in Matthew, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Suddenly (καὶ ἰδοὺ), there appeared to the 3 disciples (ὤφθη αὐτοῖς) Moses (Μωϋσῆς) and Elijah (καὶ Ἡλείας), who were talking with Jesus (συνλαλοῦντες μετ’ αὐτοῦ).  How did they know what Moses and Elijah looked like?  They had never seen them before.  They were nearly 1,000 years removed from their existence.  Jesus, however, recognized and talked with them, so that is why they might have realized who they were.  Thus, Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law of Moses and at the same time the fulfillment of the prophets with Elijah, one of the earliest prophets from the 9th century BCE.

Jesus warns about the yeast of the Pharisees (Mt 16:6-16:6)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Watch out!

Beware of the yeast

Of the Pharisees

And Sadducees.’”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ὁρᾶτε καὶ προσέχετε ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων.

 

Now this saying about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees can be found in Mark, chapter 8:15, and Luke, chapter 12:1, but there are slight differences.  Mark and Luke did not mention the Sadducees.  Jesus told his disciples (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) to watch out for and be aware (Ὁρᾶτε καὶ προσέχετε) of the yeast (ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης) of the Pharisees and Sadducees (ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης).  Matthew has this as a clear rebuff of both these groups and their growing yeast, leaven, or power that was expanding.  Like earlier in this chapter, there was no mention of the Scribes.  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Sadducees, on the other hand, were generally aristocratic priestly officials, tied to the Temple and ritual purifications.  They were less concerned about oral traditions, so that they might have been political religious rivals to the Pharisees.  However, Jesus warned his disciples against both groups.

Against the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mt 3:7-3:7)

“But when John saw

Many of the Pharisees,

And many of the Sadducees,

Coming for baptism,

He said to them.

‘You brood of vipers!

Who warned you

To flee

From the wrath to come?’”

 

Ἰδὼν δὲ πολλοὺς τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων ἐρχομένους ἐπὶ τὸ βάπτισμα εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς

 

Matthew is the only one who had this warning against the many Pharisees (δὲ πολλοὺς τῶν Φαρισαίων) and the many Sadducees (καὶ Σαδδουκαίων) who were coming to be baptized by John (ἐρχομένους ἐπὶ τὸ βάπτισμα εἶπεν αὐτοῖς). Unlike Mark, Matthew described John as critical of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions. This, they might be considered proto-Rabbis. The Sadducees were priestly, tied to the Temple and ritual purifications. They were less concerned about oral traditions. There may have been about 6.000 in each group. John the Baptist, as presented by Matthew, was against both groups, so that he may have favored the ascetic Essenes, who were another small group of Jews. John told them that they were like a group of vipers (Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν,) who would kill young people. They should be warned to flee from the wrath to come (τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς). This might be allusion to the prophet Amos, chapter 5:18-20. Amos saw the day of Yahweh as an angry day of judgment.

Remember the teachings of Moses (Mal 4:4-4:4)

“Remember

The teachings

Of my servant Moses!

Remember

The statutes,

The ordinances,

That I commanded him,

At Horeb

For all Israel!”

The Israelites were to remember the teachings of Yahweh’s servant, the law of Moses.  They were to remember all his statutes and ordinances, because Yahweh had commanded him to do so at Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai.  These commandments were for all the people of Israel.

They have turned against God (Hos 7:14-7:16)

“They do not cry to me

From the heart.

But they wail

Upon their beds.

They gash themselves

For grain,

For wine.

They rebel against me.

I trained them.

I strengthened

Their arms.

Yet they devise evil

Against me.

They turn to Baal,

A useless unprofitable god.

They have become

Like a defective bow.

Their officials

Shall fall

By the sword,

Because of the rage

Of their tongues.

So much for babbling

In the land of Egypt.”

The Israelites were not crying out to Yahweh from their hearts. Instead they were weeping and wailing in their own beds. They gashed themselves that had been forbidden by the law of Moses, hoping for grain and wine. They had rebelled against Yahweh. Yet it was Yahweh who had trained them and strengthened their arms. However, they continually devised evil against Yahweh, turning to the useless Baal gods. They had become defective bows that could not shoot arrows. Thus, their officials would fall by the sword. Their raging tongues sent them babbling to the Egyptians.

Susanna (Dan 13:2-13:3)

“Joakim married

The daughter of Hilkiah,

Named Susanna,

A very beautiful woman,

Who feared the Lord.

Her parents were righteous.

They had trained

Their daughter

According to the law of Moses.”

This Joakim married a woman named Susanna. Thus, this story is more about the wife of Joakim, Susanna, than about him. Susanna, the lily, was very beautiful. But more important, she was one who feared the Lord. She was also the daughter of Hilkiah, whose name meant that the Lord was my portion. Both of Susanna’s parents were righteous people. They had trained her and brought her up according to the Law of Moses. In other words, she was a faithful Israelite from strong Israelite parents.