Ya'akov Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern

chapter 3
1. Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, since you know that we will be judged more severely.
Not many of you should become teachers. Compare 1 Ti 3:1-13 and Ti 1:5-14. We will be judged more severely. See MJ 13:17. 

2. For we all stumble in many ways; if someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who can bridle his whole body.
3. If we put a bit into a horse’s mouth to make it obey us, we control its whole body as well.
4. And think of a ship — although it is huge and is driven by strong winds, yet the pilot can steer it wherever he wants with just a small rudder.
5. So too the tongue is a tiny part of the body, yet it boasts great things. See how a little fire sets a whole forest ablaze!
6. Yes, the tongue is a fire, a world of wickedness. The tongue is so placed in our body that it defiles every part of it, setting ablaze the whole of our life; and it is set on fire by Gei-Hinnom itself.
7. For people have tamed and continue to tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures;
8. but the tongue no one can tame — it is an unstable and evil thing, full of death-dealing poison!
The tongue... is an... evil thing. Lashon hara' (literally, "tongue of the evil") in Judaism refers to gossip, backbiting, rumormongering, slander and other misuses of speech. The Talmud condemns it severely:

"If one speaks lashon hara'. it is as though he denied God.... The sin of lashon hara' is weighed equally with the sins of idolatry, sexual immorality and murder." (Arakhin 15b)

The three sins named are those for which, according to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 74a, quoted in Ac 15:20a), a Jew is supposed to give up his life rather than commit.

Zelig Pliskin (a non-Messianic Jew) has written an interesting book on the laws of lashon hara' called Guard Your Tongue, based on the writings of Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, known as the Chafetz Chaim ("desirer of life," from Psalm 34:13-14(12-13), "Which of you is a desirer of life, and wants long life to enjoy what is good? Then keep your tongue [lashon] from evil [ra'], and your lips from uttering lies." The Chafetz Chaim died in 1934 at the age of 95.) He points out that even true statements may be lashon hara' if relating them can cause damage. A sample of his amusing yet practical advice:

"Beware of loshon hora when speaking on the telephone. If the person with whom you are conversing insists on relating loshon hora, you should rebuke him. If this is not possible, find an excuse to hang up — 'Excuse me, something has just come up' (the loshon hora) — and discontinue the conversation." (pp. 31-32)

Out of the heart proceed all kinds of evils (Mk 7:20-23), and the first place they go is to the tongue (v. 6).
Full of death-dealing poison. Compare Psalm 140:4(3). quoted at Ro 3:13. 

9. With it we bless Adonai, the Father; and with it we curse people, who were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27).br> 10. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing! Brothers, it isn’t right for things to be this way.
11. A spring doesn’t send both fresh and bitter water from the same opening, does it?
12. Can a fig tree yield olives, my brothers? or a grapevine, figs? Neither does salt water produce fresh.
See 1:6-8&N. 

13. Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him demonstrate it by his good way of life, by actions done in the humility that grows out of wisdom.
14. But if you harbor in your hearts bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, don’t boast and attack the truth with lies!
15. This wisdom is not the kind that comes down from above; on the contrary, it is worldly, unspiritual, demonic.
16. For where there are jealousy and selfish ambition, there will be disharmony and every foul practice.
17. But the wisdom from above is, first of all, pure, then peaceful, kind, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
18. And peacemakers who sow seed in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Compare Isaiah 32:17, MJ 12:11.

vv. 13-18 Compare 1:5-8, 13-18. There are two kinds of wisdom. That which is worldly, unspiritual and demonic produces jealousy (or "bitter zeal") and selfish ambition. followed by disharmony and every foul practice (see, for example, the lists at Ro 1:28-31, Ga 5:19-21). But the wisdom from above is "from the Father," with whom "there is neither variation nor darkness" (1:17); it is extolled at Proverbs 8:22ff. 

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