The tombs of the prophets (Mt 23:29-23:30)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You build the tombs

Of the prophets.

You decorate the graves

Of the righteous.

You say.

‘If we had lived

In the days

Of our ancestors,

We would not have taken part

With them

In shedding the blood

Of the prophets.’”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι οἰκοδομεῖτε τοὺς τάφους τῶν προφητῶν καὶ κοσμεῖτε τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν δικαίων,

καὶ λέγετε Εἰ ἤμεθα ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν, οὐκ ἂν ἤμεθα αὐτῶν κοινωνοὶ ἐν τῷ αἵματι τῶν προφητῶν.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 11:47-48.  Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, 15, 25, and 27.  The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  This time it was how they and their ancestors had treated the prophets of Israel.  They built the tombs of the prophets (ὅτι οἰκοδομεῖτε τοὺς τάφους τῶν προφητῶν) and decorated the graves or tombs of the righteous (καὶ κοσμεῖτε τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν δικαίων).  These Pharisees said that if they had lived in the days of their ancestors or fathers (καὶ λέγετε Εἰ ἤμεθα ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν), they would not have participated in the shedding of the blood of these prophets (οὐκ ἂν ἤμεθα αὐτῶν κοινωνοὶ ἐν τῷ αἵματι τῶν προφητῶν).  The problem is that there were not that many prophets murdered.

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Whitewashed tombs (Mt 23:27-23:28)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You are like

Whitewashed tombs,

Which outwardly

Look beautiful.

But inside,

They are full

Of the bones

Of the dead

With all kinds of filth.

Thus,

You also on the outside

Look righteous

To others.

However,

Inside you

Are full of hypocrisy

And iniquity.”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι παρομοιάζετε τάφοις κεκονιαμένοις, οἵτινες ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνονται ὡραῖοι, ἔσωθεν δὲ γέμουσιν ὀστέων νεκρῶν καὶ πάσης ἀκαθαρσίας.

οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνεσθε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δίκαιοι, ἔσωθεν δέ ἐστε μεστοὶ ὑποκρίσεως καὶ ἀνομίας.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 11:44.  Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, 15 and 25.  The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees.  This time it was a continuation against the false hearts of the Pharisees.  They were like whitewashed tombs (ὅτι παρομοιάζετε τάφοις κεκονιαμένοις), that looked outwardly beautiful (οἵτινες ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνονται ὡραῖοι).  However, the inside of these unmarked tombs was full of the bones of dead people and other kinds of filth or impure things (ἔσωθεν δὲ γέμουσιν ὀστέων νεκρῶν καὶ πάσης ἀκαθαρσίας).  Thus, the Pharisees appear to look righteous on the outside to others (οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνεσθε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δίκαιοι).  However, on the inside of them, in their hearts, they are full of hypocrisy and iniquity or lawlessness (ἔσωθεν δέ ἐστε μεστοὶ ὑποκρίσεως καὶ ἀνομίας).

The inside and outside of the cup (Mt 23:25-23:26)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You clean

The outside

Of the cup

And of the plate.

But inside,

They are full

Of greed

And self-indulgence.

You blind Pharisees!

First cleanse

The inside

Of the cup

And of the plate.

Thus,

The outside

May be clean also.”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι καθαρίζετε τὸ ἔξωθεν τοῦ ποτηρίου καὶ τῆς παροψίδος, ἔσωθεν δὲ γέμουσιν ἐξ ἁρπαγῆς καὶ ἀκρασίας.

Φαρισαῖε τυφλέ, καθάρισον πρῶτον τὸ ἐντὸς τοῦ ποτηρίου ἵνα γένηται καὶ τὸ ἐκτὸς αὐτοῦ καθαρόν.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 11:39-40, but Jesus was eating with the Pharisees there.  Here, Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, and 15.  The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees.  This time it was against the Pharisees for their impure hearts or intentions.  They cleaned the outside of the cup and the plate (ὅτι καθαρίζετε τὸ ἔξωθεν τοῦ ποτηρίου καὶ τῆς παροψίδος), but let the inside remain full of greed or robbery and self-indulgence (ἔσωθεν δὲ γέμουσιν ἐξ ἁρπαγῆς καὶ ἀκρασίας).  Jesus called them blind Pharisees (Φαρισαῖε τυφλέ).  He reminded them to first clean the inside of their cups and their plates (ὅτι καθαρίζετε τὸ ἔξωθεν τοῦ ποτηρίου καὶ τῆς παροψίδος,).  Then. the outside would be clean also (ἵνα γένηται καὶ τὸ ἐκτὸς αὐτοῦ καθαρόν).  Their interior heart was important.

They have forgotten the law (Mt 23:23-23:23)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You tithe

Mint,

Dill,

And cumin!

You have neglected

The weightier matters

Of the law,

Justice,

Mercy,

And faith!

These you ought

To have practiced,

Without neglecting

The others.”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον, καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου, τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὸ ἔλεος καὶ τὴν πίστιν· ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα μὴ ἀφεῖναι.

 

Like Luke, chapter 11,42, Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, and 15.  The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses of Matthew.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees.  This time it was their insistence on tithing.  He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον), instead of more serious matters of the law (καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου).  Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice (τὴν κρίσιν), mercy (καὶ τὸ ἔλεος), and faith (καὶ τὴν πίστιν).  They should have spent more time on these issues (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα) without neglecting the other things (μὴ ἀφεῖναι).  This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law.

Blind guides (Mt 23:16-23:16)

“Woe to you!

Blind guides!

You say.

‘Whoever swears

By the temple,

Is bound by nothing.

But whoever swears

By the gold

Of the Temple,

Is bound

By the oath.’”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, ὁδηγοὶ τυφλοὶ οἱ λέγοντες Ὃς ἂν ὀμόσῃ ἐν τῷ ναῷ, οὐδέν ἐστιν· ὃς δ’ ἂν ὀμόσῃ ἐν τῷ χρυσῷ τοῦ ναοῦ, ὀφείλει.

 

This unique diatribe against the Scribes and Pharisees continued in Matthew alone.  But here they are called blind guides, as Matthew had earlier mentioned in chapter 15:14.  Jesus cursed (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν) these blind guides (ὁδηγοὶ τυφλοὶ) because they were saying (οἱ λέγοντες) that whoever swore by the Temple (Ὃς ἂν ὀμόσῃ ἐν τῷ ναῷ) were not bound by it since it was considered nothing (οὐδέν ἐστιν).  However, anyone who swore by the gold of the Temple (ὃς δ’ ἂν ὀμόσῃ ἐν τῷ χρυσῷ τοῦ ναοῦ) were bound (ὀφείλει) by that oath.  In other words, the only thing that they were bound to fulfill was the money that they said they were going to contribute, not other vows or promises.  This goes back to the question of whether you should swear to do anything or not, as posed earlier in this work in chapter 5:33-37.

Converts (Mt 23:15-23:15)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You cross the sea.

You cross the dry land

To make a single convert.

You make

The new convert

Twice as much

A child of hell

As yourselves.”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι περιάγετε τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ τὴν ξηρὰν ποιῆσαι ἕνα προσήλυτον, καὶ ὅταν γένηται, ποιεῖτε αὐτὸν υἱὸν γεέννης διπλότερον ὑμῶν.

 

This first part of the opening verse is exactly the same as the preceding verse in this unique saying of Matthew.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees.  These Pharisees were trying to convert many of the Romans to Judaism.  They would cross seas and dry lands trying to make a single convert or proselyte (ὅτι περιάγετε τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ τὴν ξηρὰν ποιῆσαι ἕνα προσήλυτον).  However, in doing so (καὶ ὅταν γένηται), they had made these new converts to Pharisaic Judaism twice as much a child of Gehenna or hell as themselves (ποιεῖτε αὐτὸν υἱὸν γεέννης διπλότερον ὑμῶν).

Shut off heaven (Mt 23:14-23:14)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You devour widow’s houses!

For the sake of appearance,

You make long prayers!

Therefore,

You will receive

The greater condemnation.”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι, ὑποκριταί, ὅτι κατεσθίετε τὰς οἰκίας τῶν χηρῶν, καὶ προφάσει μακρὰ προσευχόμενοι· διὰ τοῦτο λήψεσθε περισσότερον κρίμα.

 

This verse is missing in a number of manuscripts but can be found in other Greek Orthodox versions of this unique saying of Matthew.  This first part of the opening verse is exactly the same as the preceding verse.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees, who were devouring widow’s houses (ὅτι κατεσθίετε τὰς οἰκίας τῶν χηρῶν), as they were taking advantage of widows.  They also made long lengthy prayers (καὶ προφάσει μακρὰ προσευχόμενοι·), so that they would look better and more pious.  However, they were about to receive a greater condemnation (διὰ τοῦτο λήψεσθε περισσότερον κρίμα) than they had expected.