Mattityahu Jewish New Testament

chapter 13
1. That same day, Yeshua went out of the house and sat down by the lake;
2. but such a large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there while the crowd stood on the shore.
3. He told them many things in parables: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.
4. As he sowed, some seed fell alongside the path; and the birds came and ate it up.
5. Other seed fell on rocky patches where there was not much soil. It sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow;
6. but when the sun had risen, the young plants were scorched; and since their roots were not deep, they dried up.
7. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.
8. But others fell into rich soil and produced grain, a hundred or sixty or thirty times as much as had been sown.
9. Those who have ears, let them hear!”
Yeshua himself explains this parable in vv. 18-23.

Those who have ears, let them hear! Some early manuscripts have: 'Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!" Yeshua used this phrase at 11:15; he uses it at 13:43; Mk 4:9, 23; 7:16; Lk 8:8, 14:35; Rv 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9; and related phrases are found at Mk 8:18; Lk 9:44; Ac 7:51, 28:27; Ro 11:8. It is an invitation to seek Yeshua's deeper meaning and respond with one's whole being (compare above, 7:24, 26). But, as vv. 10-17 show, not everyone is prepared to do so.

10. Then the talmidim came and asked Yeshua, “Why are you speaking to them in parables?”
Why are you speaking to them in parables? Till now Yeshua had addressed the crowds in plain speech, except for a few lines in Chapter 11.

11. He answered, “Because it has been given to you to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it has not been given to them.
Secrets, KJV "mysteries". Greek mysteria means truths hitherto kept secret but now revealed. A number of religions both then and now claim to make available special knowledge or mysteries to an inner circle. Biblical religion is not so. Its truths are available to all who read and believe the Bible. While Yeshua walked the earth there was an inner circle of disciples who received precisely the knowledge necessary to disseminate God's truth to all men throughout all generations. But nothing in Scripture supports the notion, found today in cultish, occult and New Age circles, that true Christianity depends on teachings that are above or beyond the Bible. The extra-canonical books used to support this idea prove themselves both morally and spiritually inferior to the canon of the Tanakh and the New Testament. In Yeshua's time the "mystery religions" included the cult of Dionysius and the Orphic Mysteries, as well as various Gnostic approaches (''gnostic." from Greek gndsis, "knowledge," means that these religions claimed to offer a body of secret knowledge which would lead to salvation). Those who today champion a secret Christian tradition available only to initiates have merely revived the heresy of Gnosticism.

It has been given to you to know the secrets... but... not... to them. By itself this is a harsh statement, seemingly out of keeping with the Talmudic epigram of Rabbi Chanina, "Everything is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven" (B'rakhot 33b), which implies that anyone can turn to God, so that there is not one group to whom "it has been given" and another to whom it has not. In vv. 12-17 Yeshua clarifies his meaning and softens the impact.

12. For anyone who has something will be given more, so that he will have plenty; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away.
13. Here is why I speak to them in parables: they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding.
14. That is, in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Yesha‘yahu which says, ‘You will keep on hearing but never understand, and keep on seeing but never perceive,
15. "because the heart of this people has become dull — with their ears they barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, so as not to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and do t’shuvah, so that I could heal them.’ (Yesha‘yahu 6:9-10)
It should not be surprising that there are people who look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding, since Isaiah 6:9-10, quoted here (also at Yn 12:39-40 and Ac 28:26-27), predicts such a phenomenon, as do Jeremiah 5:21 and Ezekiel 12:2. If they were to see, hear, and understand, they would do t'shuvah (in earlier editions of the JNT, return to God), that is, "repent" (Greek epistrepho, see above, 3:2N), and God would heal them. But v. 15 says that such people — out of misplaced fear that God might do something bad, whereas actually God does only good — listen selectively (barely hear) and perceive amiss (close their eyes), or equivalently, as Yochanan puts it, they "love darkness rather than light" (Yn 3:19 and its context).

16. But you, how blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear!
17. Yes indeed! I tell you that many a prophet and many a tzaddik longed to see the things you are seeing but did not see them, and to hear the things you are hearing but did not hear them.
Tzaddik, "righteous one." In Jewish tradition generally, a godly, holy, righteous man. In Hasidic tradition such people, thought to have had supernatural powers, attracted followers and taught their disciples how to live. The implication of vv. 16-17 is that nothing inherent in the talmidim earned them the privilege of seeing the things you are seeing; the prophets and tzaddikim may well have been more meritorious; but God reveals himself not on the basis of human merit but by his own sovereign will (11:25-30, Ro 9:6-18. 1С 1:17-31). In this sense, since Yeshua had to be born at a particular time and place (Ga 4:4-5), there necessarily had to be some to whom "it was given" (v. II) and others to whom it was not.

18. “So listen to what the parable of the sower means.
19. Whoever hears the message about the Kingdom, but doesn’t understand it, is like the seed sown along the path — the Evil One comes and seizes what was sown in his heart.
20. The seed sown on rocky ground is like a person who hears the message and accepts it with joy at once,
21. but has no root in himself. So he stays on for a while; but as soon as some trouble or persecution arises on account of the message, he immediately falls away.
22. Now the seed sown among thorns stands for someone who hears the message, but it is choked by the worries of the world and the deceitful glamor of wealth, so that it produces nothing.
23. However, what was sown on rich soil is the one who hears the message and understands it; such a person will surely bear fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Everyone falls into one of these four categories.

24. Yeshua put before them another parable. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;
25. but while people were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, then went away. 26. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads of grain, the weeds also appeared.
27. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ 28. He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Then do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29. But he said, ‘No, because if you pull up the weeds, you might uproot some of the wheat at the same time.
30. Let them both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest-time I will tell the reapers to collect the weeds first and tie them in bundles to be burned, but to gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Weeds, Greek zizanion, transliterating Hebrew zonin, a poisonous rye-grass which looks like wheat until the heads appear. Judaism understands zonin to be not a different plant from wheat but a degenerate form of it. This is seen from the fact that in Mishna Kilayim 1:1, "Wheat and zonin do not constitute mingled seeds with each other," in the sense of the biblical requirement that diverse kinds of seeds must not be sown together in the same field (Leviticus 19:19). The surprising legendary explanation of this comes from Genesis Rabbah 28:8 (on Genesis 6:7):

"Rabbi 'Azaryah said in Rabbi Y'hudah's name, 'AH acted corruptly in the generation of the Rood: the dog had intercourse with the wolf, and the fowl with the peacock; hence it is written, "For all (flesh) on the earth had corrupted their way" (Genesis 6:12).' Rabbi Julian ben-Tiberius said in Rabbi Yitzchak' s name, 'Even the earth debauched itself: wheat was sown and it produced zonin, for the zonin we find now came from the age of the Flood.'"

In the light of the fact that when Israel turns away from God the Tanakh repeatedly describes her with a related word, "zonah" ("prostitute"), this understanding of "zonin" has implications for understanding the parable.

31. Yeshua put before them another parable. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man takes and sows in his field.
32. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up it is larger than any garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the birds flying about come and nest in its branches.”
Yeshua explains this parable in vv. 36-43.
The smallest of all seeds. Mustard is a very small seed, but not the world's .smallest. Scripture, to be inspired by God, does not require that every fact of nature be woodenly reported. For Yeshua' s hearers, mustard might well have been the smallest seed frequently encountered. God used the culture of the age to convey spiritual truth. Apposite is the Talmudic epigram, "The Torah speaks in the language of men" (or: "The Torah uses everyday human expressions," B' rakhot 31b). The rabbis too used the mustard seed in figures of speech for smallness; see B'rakhot 31a and Leviticus Rabbah 31:9 (on Leviticus 24:2).

In the Bible birds Hying about are usually symbolic of evildoers, like the weeds in the preceding parable. But alternatively, they represent the nations of the world being sheltered by the Messianic Kingdom, as at Ezekiel 17:23; compare Ezekiel 31:6, 12; Daniel 4:12, 14.21-22.

33. And he told them yet another parable. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with a bushel of flour, then waited until the whole batch of dough rose.”
Yeast and leaven usually represent evil (compare 1С 5:6-8). If so it here represents the evil mixed with the good as in the previous two parables. Some interpret the parable to mean that the Church will exert a beneficent influence on the world.

34. All these things Yeshua said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without using a parable.
35. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, “I will open my mouth in parables, I will say what has been hidden since the creation of the universe.” (Psalm 78:2)
Spoken by God through the prophet. Actually written by King David, but he sometimes functioned as a prophet.

36. Then he left the crowds and went into the house. His talmidim approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
37. He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man;
38. the field is the world. As for the good seed, these are the people who belong to the Kingdom; and the weeds are the people who belong to the Evil One.
39. The enemy who sows them is the Adversary, the harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age.
41. The Son of Man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all the things that cause people to sin and all the people who are far from Torah;
42. and they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where people will wail and grind their teeth.
43. Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let him hear!
44. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. A man found it, hid it again, then in great joy went and sold everything he owned, and bought that field.
The enemy is not the Pharisees, but Satan (compare Ep 6:12).

The field is the world, not only the Jewish people. The Kingdom of God is to involve all of mankind, and this was a change of emphasis from what was usually taught.

There will be nonbelievers among those who profess to be Christians. Conclusion: Yeshua puts critics of Christianity on notice that not everything done within Christendom is a product of Christians.

45. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for fine pearls.
46. On finding one very valuable pearl he went away, sold everything he owned and bought it.
The first of these parables deals with the unexpected discovery of the Kingdom of God, the second with the successful conclusion to a search for it. In either case the person who comes upon it recognizes its great value and is willing to give up all (he sold everything lie owned) to have a personal relationship with God (he bought that field/the very valuable pearl).

A treasure hidden in a field (v. 44). According to halakhah, if the treasure is unmarked and found on public land, it belongs to the finder. If it is marked, the owner must be sought. If it is natural (a gold nugget or a diamond) or unmarked and on private land, it belongs to the owner of the land; that's why the finder bought that field — to become the owner.

But the story seems to imply that the finder bought the field at the "pre-treasure" price, and that if the owner had known the treasure was there, he wouldn't have sold the field at that price. This raises an ethical question: is the finder obligated either by ludakhah or morally (if that is different) to notify the owner of the treasure before buying the field? No. Property always has potential beyond what owners know; only God has perfect information. An owner can investigate the opportunities offered by what he owns, and others are not obligated to occupy their time with increasing his knowledge. So if I learn that your land has oil under it, I need not inform you of that fact when I offer to buy it, since ownership should motivate you more than me to find this out for yourself. The seller of this piece of land received a fair price for his land with the potential he knew about; as is often the case, the new owner bought it because he perceived additional potential.

47. “Once more, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net thrown into the lake, that caught all kinds of fish.
48. When it was full, the fishermen brought the net up onto the shore, sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad fish away.
49. So it will be at the close of the age — the angels will go forth and separate the evil people from among the righteous
50. and throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will wail and grind their teeth.
51. "“Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered.
52. He said to them, “So then, every Torah-teacher who has been made into a talmid for the Kingdom of Heaven is like the owner of a home who brings out of his storage room both new things and old.”
A Torah-teacher (see 2:4N) who has been made into a talmid for the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, a committed and knowledgeable Jew who has become Messianic, brings out of his storage room, out of his treasury of knowledge, both new things relating to Yeshua and the New Covenant and old things, relating to the pre-Messianic Judaism he already understands. The storage room contains good things, things the house-owner wants and treasures. Some of the good things are new, some of them old. Likewise, the new Messianic and old Jewish things can both be good. Thus the Messianic Torah-teacher is uniquely placed to enrich Messianic Judaism by expressing Messianic truth in Jewishly relevant ways, to repair old coats with good patches and restore old wineskins for new wine (9:16-I7&N).

A good Jewish education, far from being a prophylaxis against believing in Yeshua and the Kingdom he preached, as some opponents of Messianic Judaism suppose, instead ought to provide "rich soil" for bringing forth for Yeshua "grain, a hundred... times what had been sown" (13:8). The outstanding New Testament example is Sha'ul.

There are five collections of Yeshua's teachings in Mattityahu, corresponding to the Five Books of Moses. The first, the Sermon on the Mount (Chapters 5-7), was for the multitude; the second, the commissioning (Chapter 10), was for the talmidim; this, the third, is for both but is presented at two levels through the medium of the parable (Greek parabole. Hebrew mashal). Chapter 18 is the fourth, and the Olivet Discourse (Chapters 24-25) is the last.

The eight parables reveal the "secrets" (v. 11) of the Kingdom of Heaven (see 3:2N) through comparisons with commonplace things, showing it to be quite unlike what the crowds were expecting — as is clear from their inability to understand him. We learn that the effect of the Word varies, depending on who hears it; and that the visible or institutional church ("Christendom") includes both genuine believers and others. Therefore it is not surprising that throughout the last two thousand years non-Christians who were known as or claimed to be Christians have often behaved un-Christianly.

53. When Yeshua had finished these parables, he left
54. and went to his home town. There he taught them in their synagogue in a way that astounded them, so that they asked, “Where do this man’s wisdom and miracles come from?
55. Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother called Miryam? and his brothers Ya‘akov, Yosef, Shim‘on and Y’hudah?
Isn't he the carpenter's son? The language implies lhat the answer ought to be a plain "Yes." But the real answer is not so simple, as Luke's careful language reveals: "It was supposed that he was a son of the Yosef who was of Eli, of Mattat..."' (Lk 3:23-38&N). Yosef the carpenter raised Yeshua and accepted him as his son even though he had no natural human father, since Miryam the virgin was caused to become pregnant by God supernaturally ( U8-25&NN, Lk 1:26-38&NN). As for his brothers, see 12:46N.

56. And his sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does he get all this?”
57. And they took offense at him. But Yeshua said to them, “The only place people don’t respect a prophet is in his home town and in his own house.”
58. And he did few miracles there because of their lack of trust.
Messianic Jews today often find these verses poignantly relevant to their own families and home towns. But they can take comfort from the fact that although Yeshua himself encountered opposition, indifference and skepticism, in ihe end his family believed in him (Ac 1:14, Ga 1:19; contrast 12:48-50, Yn 7:3-5), and his home town became a center of New Covenant faith.

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