Mattityahu Jewish New Testament

chapter 11
1. After Yeshua had finished instructing the twelve talmidim, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns nearby.
2. Meanwhile, Yochanan the Immerser, who had been put in prison, heard what the Messiah had been doing; so he sent a message to him through his talmidim,
3. asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for someone else?”
4. Yeshua answered, “Go and tell Yochanan what you are hearing and seeing —
5. the blind are seeing again, the lame are walking, people with tzara’at are being cleansed, the deaf are hearing (Isaiah 35:5–6) the dead are being raised, (Isaiah 26:19) the Good News is being told to the poor (Isaiah 61:1)
6. and how blessed is anyone not offended by me!”
Yochanan the Immerser, apparently discouraged by being put in prison after having announced Yeshua as the Messiah (3:11,17; Yn 1:27,29), asks, "Are you the one who is to come?" — the one who will put an end to political oppression and get me out of jail? The question is in code, for the phrase, "the one who is to come," would be clear only to those acquainted with Yochanan's teaching. Had they asked, "Are you the Messiah?" it would have been more difficult for Yeshua to send an answer to Yochanan without revealing his identity, which he was not yet wanting to do (see 8:4&N. 9:30).

Yeshua's answer is also in code. He refers to prophecies in the book of Isaiah of six signs which the Messiah will give when he comes: he will make the blind see (Isaiah 29:18, 35:5), make the lame walk (Isaiah 35:6,61:1), cleanse lepers (Isaiah 61:1), make the deaf hear (Isaiah 29:18, 35:5), raise the dead (implied in Isaiah 11:1-2 but not made specific), and evangelize the poor (Isaiah 61:1-2 in the light of 4:23N above). Since he has done all these things (Chapters 8-9), the message should be clear: Yeshua is the one; Yochanan need not look for another. See 8:1-4N.

But his answer avoids mentioning the Messianic sign of "proclaiming liberty to the captives" (Isaiah 61:1). Added to his remark, "How blessed is anyone not offended by me," Yeshua seems to be saying delicately that even though he is the Messiah. Yochanan will not be set free — as proves to be the case (below, 14:1-12).

Another view of this passage: Yochanan had prophesied that the Coming One would be an instrument of judgment as well as compassion. But in prison he had heard nothing of judgment, only of compassionate miracles. His question thus arises from lacking insight into a first coming in mercy and a second coming for judgment.

7. As they were leaving, Yeshua began speaking about Yochanan to the crowds: “What did you go out to the desert to see? Reeds swaying in the breeze?
8. No? then what did you go out to see? Someone who was well dressed? Well-dressed people live in kings’ palaces.
9. Nu, so why did you go out? To see a prophet! Yes! and I tell you he’s much more than a prophet.
Nu. A general-purpose Yiddish word meaning variously, "Well?" "So?" "Indeed!" "I challenge you," or, as in this case, "If not that, then what?" — with many possible inflections and overtones. It translates the similarly flexible Greek particle "alia" (see Paragraph 3 of the entry on "alia" in Arndt & Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament) and in one succinct word captures the dynamic flavor of the exchange between Yeshua and the crowd. See also Lk 12:42N.

10. This is the one about whom the Tanakh says, "See, I am sending out my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.." (Malachi 3:1)
Malachi 3:1, quoted here, introduces a passage which explicitly states that Eliyahu (Elijah) the Prophet will precede the coming of the Day of the Lord, that is, the Day of Judgment (Malachi 3:23(4:5)). Judaism expects Elijah—who never died but was taken up to heaven by a whirlwind in a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11) — to precede the Messiah. See 17:10N.

11. Yes! I tell you that among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than Yochanan the Immerser! Yet the one who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he!
12. From the time of Yochanan the Immerser until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been suffering violence; yes, violent ones are trying to snatch it away.
The Greek is difficult. As rendered, it means that violent ones (demons and their human vehicles) are trying to keep God from carrying out his plan through Yeshua, e.g., through Herod's having put Yochanan in prison (v. 2). An alternative understanding, "...the Kingdom of Heaven has been advancing forcefully; and forceful people are seizing hold of it," seems inconsistent with vv. 25-30.

13. For all the prophets and the Torah prophesied until Yochanan.
14. Indeed, if you are willing to accept it, he is Eliyahu, whose coming was predicted.
He is Eliyahu. See 11:1 ON above. Not that Yochanan was Eliyahu reincarnated; on the contrary, MJ 9:27 specifically teaches that reincarnation does not occur; and when asked, Yochanan himself denied that he was Eliyahu (Yn 1:21). Rather, he comes in the spirit of Eliyahu and precedes the Messiah's first coming in the same way that Eliyahu himself is to precede his second coming. Yeshua affirms this understanding at 17:11-12.

15. If you have ears, then hear!
16. “Oh, what can I compare this generation with? They’re like children sitting in the marketplaces, calling out to each other,
17. ‘We made happy music, but you wouldn’t dance! We made sad music, but you wouldn’t cry!’
18. For Yochanan came, fasting, not drinking — so they say, ‘He has a demon.’
19. The Son of Man came, eating freely and drinking wine — so they say, ‘Aha! A glutton and a drunkard! A friend of tax-collectors and sinners!’ Well, the proof of wisdom is in the actions it produces.”
20. Then Yeshua began to denounce the towns in which he had done most of his miracles, because the people had not turned from their sins to God.
21. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Beit-Tzaidah! Why, if the miracles done in you had been done in Tzor and Tzidon, they would long ago have put on sackcloth and ashes as evidence that they had changed their ways.
Miracles. Modern critics sometimes criticize Christianity for emphasizing Yeshua's miracles as a major ground for believing in him as Messiah and Son of God. They often add that while rabbinic literature frequently reports miracles, they are neither central to the content of Judaism nor taken as proof that God's Law is valid. My response:
(1) The Tanakh itself grounds the Israelites' faith in God on one of his most awesome miracles. Exodus 14:31 reports [hat after the Egyptians had been drowned in the Red Sea, "When Israel saw the great power Adonai displayed against the Egyptians, they feared Adonai and put their trust in him and in his servant Moshe." Yeshua, showing forth God's power, is only asking from his fellow Jews the same response to God and his servant the Messiah which their mutual ancestors gave.

(2) We have already seen (9:34, 10:25) and will see again (12:24-32; Yochanan 9,11) that Yeshua's miracles were acknowledged as such even by those who opposed him. To avoid having to decide whether to trust him as God's man, they attributed the miracles to demonic powers. Unlike the modern critics they recognized that miracles require a response, a decision; they just made the wrong one.

(3) Why should it be less noble or sophisticated to predicate faith initially on God's miracles rather than on his Law? Both are from God. One who truly trusts God will acknowledge both his Law and his miracles; can one who withholds belief in either be described as trusting God? Tzor and Tzidon. The wickedness of Tyre and Sidon and the predictions of judgment against them are detailed in Isaiah 23:1 -8, Ezekiel 26-28, Joel 3:4-8, Amos 1:9-10 and Zechariah 9:2-4.

22. But I tell you it will be more bearable for Tzor and Tzidon than for you on the Day of Judgment!
23. And you, K’far-Nachum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Sh’ol! (Isaiah 14:13,15) For if the miracles done in you had been done in S’dom, it would still be in existence today.
Sh'ol. Usually brought into English as "Shed"; Greek cules ("Hades"), the place of the dead. In the Tanakh Sh'ol is a dim vague state where dead souls wait. Sometimes English versions use "Hell" to translate "ades" this can be confusing, because "Hell" also translates "gehenna," a place of torment for the dead (see 5:22N). But see Lk where ades is also described as a place of torment.

24. But I tell you that on the Day of Judgment it will be more bearable for the land of S’dom than for you!”"
25. It was at that time that Yeshua said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you concealed these things from the sophisticated and educated and revealed them to ordinary folks.
26. Yes, Father, I thank you that it pleased you to do this.
27. “My Father has handed over everything to me. Indeed, no one fully knows the Son except the Father, and no one fully knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.
Yeshua makes known his unique role in history and in establishing mankind's] proper relationship with God. The Gospel is spiritually perceived and does not depend I on being sophisticated and educated; see 1С 1:17-2:16.

28. “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)
30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Judaism speaks of the "yoke of Heaven," the commitment any Jew must make to trust in God, and the "yoke of the Torah," the concomitant commitment an observant Jew makes to keep the generalities and details of haliikhah. Yeshua speaks of his own easy yoke and light burden. These two are sometimes contrasted in a way implying that in comparison with Judaism. Christianity offers "cheap grace." But this saying of Yeshua's must be put alongside remarks such as at 10:38 (Lk 9:23-24). The easy yoke consists in a total commitment to godliness through the power of the Holy Spirit. It at once requires both no effort and maximal effort — no effort, in that the necessary moment-to-moment faith can not be worked up from within but is a gift of God (Ep 2:8-9); and maximal effort, in that there is no predeterminable level of holiness and obedience sufficient to satisfy God and let us rest on our laurels.

I am... humble. Can a genuinely humble person even say this about himself? Moses could (Numbers 12:3). True humility implies having neither a higher nor a i lower opinion of oneself than one should, and knowing when and when not to speak about oneself at all.

Having instructed the Twelve and senl them away, Yeshua continues his itinerant healing and preaching; the narrative joins up with 9:36. The disciples of Yochanan the Immerser come to Yeshua with a message "in code." which he also answers in code (vv. 2-6). The interchange piques the crowd's curiosity, on which Yeshua] capitalizes by challenging their understanding of Yochanan's ministry and pinning their attention to the chief subject of his preaching, the Kingdom of Heaven (vv. 7-141 see 3:2N). Finding his hearers dull of spirit he provokes them first with irony oveJ failing to penetrate the surface of things (vv. 15-19), then with direct reproach at nol turning from their sins even when confronted with evidence that God is present in a new] and mighty way (vv. 20-24). Finally Yeshua stales plainly that he himself has power and authority directly from God the Father (vv. 25-27), closing with an unexpectedly gentle challenge that they trust Yeshua as the one who can meet their needs (vv. 28-30).

In the towns nearby, literally, "in their towns." Whose towns? Some say, "the Jews' towns," as if Mattityahu or his redactor were writing specifically for non-Jews or trying to distance himself from the Jews. I prefer to think what is meant is simply the towns of the people with whom Yeshua was then spending his time, the people of the Galil, or possibly the home-towns of his lalmidim. (Robertson's A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 683, takes the Greek word "avion" ("their") in this verse as being according to the sense of the surrounding words, with the narrative itself being compressed; this supports my understanding.) See 9:35&N.

next chapter...