This week’s study is from Tehillim / Psalms chapter 1. The first chapter of the book of Psalms serves as a preface to the entire collection of the five books of the Psalms. The author of this Psalm is speaking of the true blessedness of the righteous man and approaches the blessedness of the righteous by stating in a negative perspective what a righteous man will do. א אַשְׁרֵי-הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַךְ בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים וּבְדֶרֶךְ חַטָּאִים לֹא עָמָד וּבְמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים לֹא יָשָׁב: 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! (NASB) The Psalm examines the contrast of the peaceful way of the righteous with the desperation of the wicked. The righteous man does not allow himself to be influenced by the unrighteous and instead delights in spending time mediating upon the Word of God (the Torah) day and night. The blessedness of the righteous is analogized with the healthiness and fruitfulness of a tree that is nourished by rivers of water and whatever the righteous man puts his hand to he prospers (Tehillim / Psalms 1:3). The wicked on the other hand are not blessed. They are like chaff driven by the wind. In judgment they will not stand and though they may be in the midst of the congregation of the righteous they will not be blessed (Tehillim / Psalms 1:4-5). The Psalm concludes with a contrast between the two paths a man chooses to take, (i) the way of the righteous is known by God and is blessed and provided for and (ii) the way of the ungodly is destruction. In this week’s study we look at the meaning of the blessedness of the man (אַשְׁרֵי-הָאִישׁ) that walks in righteousness and Yeshua’s words in Matthew 5:1-12. What is this blessedness that Yeshua is referring to when he said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, Blessed are those who mourn, Blessed are the gentle, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Blessed are the merciful, Blessed are the pure in heart, Blessed are the peacemakers, Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me?” How can we understand the blessedness of these things according to the writings of the Tanach (Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim)?
עברית Hebrew ארמי Aramaic ελληνικός Greek
ספר תהלים פרק א
א אַשְׁרֵי-הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַךְ בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים וּבְדֶרֶךְ חַטָּאִים לֹא עָמָד וּבְמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים לֹא יָשָׁב: ב כִּי אִם-בְּתוֹרַת יְהֹוָה חֶפְצוֹ וּבְתוֹרָתוֹ יֶהְגֶּה יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה: ג וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ שָׁתוּל עַל-פַּלְגֵי מָיִם אֲשֶׁר פִּרְיוֹ | יִתֵּן בְּעִתּוֹ וְעָלֵהוּ לֹא יִבּוֹל וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶֹה יַצְלִיחַ:
סםר טוביה פרק א
א טוביה טובוהי דגבר דלא הליך במלכת רשיעין ובאורחת חייבין לא קם ובסיעת ממיקני לא איסתחר׃ ב אילהן בנמוסא דיהוה רעותיה ובאוריתיה מרנין יומם יימם ולילי׃ ג ויהי כאילן חיי דנציב על טור ופי מוי די אינביה מבשל בעידניה ואטרפוי לא נתרין וכל לובלבוי דמלבלב מגרגר ומצלח׃
1:1 μακάριος ἀνήρ ὃς οὐκ ἐπορεύθη ἐν βουλῇ ἀσεβῶν καὶ ἐν ὁδῷ ἁμαρτωλῶν οὐκ ἔστη καὶ ἐπὶ καθέδραν λοιμῶν οὐκ ἐκάθισεν 1:2 ἀλλ’ ἢ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ κυρίου τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ αὐτοῦ μελετήσει ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός 1:3 καὶ ἔσται ὡς τὸ ξύλον τὸ πεφυτευμένον παρὰ τὰς διεξόδους τῶν ὑδάτων ὃ τὸν καρπὸν αὐτοῦ δώσει ἐν καιρῷ αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸ φύλλον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἀπορρυήσεται καὶ πάντα ὅσα ἂν ποιῇ κατευοδωθήσεται
ו וַתְּחַסְּרֵהוּ מְּעַט מֵאֱלֹהִים וְכָבוֹד וְהָדָר תְּעַטְּרֵהוּ: ז תַּמְשִׁילֵהוּ בְּמַעֲשֵֹי יָדֶיךָ כֹּל שַׁתָּה תַחַת-רַגְלָיו: ח צֹנֶה וַאֲלָפִים כֻּלָּם וְגַם בַּהֲמוֹת שָֹדָי: ט צִפּוֹר שָׁמַיִם וּדְגֵי הַיָּם עֹבֵר אָרְחוֹת יַמִּים: י יְהֹוָה אֲדֹנֵינוּ מָה-אַדִּיר שִׁמְךָ בְּכָל-הָאָרֶץ:
Tehillim / Psalms 1
1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 1:3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. 1:4 The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. 1:5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 1:6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.
ד לא היכנא רשיעי אילהין כמוזא כמוצא די תשקפיניה עלעולא זעפא׃ ה מטול היכנא כן לא יזכון יקומון רשיעי ביומא דינא רבא וחייבין בסיעת צדיקיא׃ ו מטול דגלי קדם יהוה אורח צדיקיא ואורחתהון דרשיעי תהובד׃
Toviyah / Psalms Chapter 1
1:1 Happy the man who has not walked in the council of the wicked, or stood in the paths of sinners, or taken a seat in the band of mockers. 1:2 Instead his pleasure is in the law of the Lord, and in his Torah he meditates day and night. 1:3 And he will be like a living tree planted by streams of water, whose fruit ripens in due course, and its leaves do not fall, and all its branches that grow ripen and flourish. 1:4 Not so the wicked; instead, they are like the chaff that the storm-wind will drive. 1:5 Therefore the wicked will not be acquitted in the great day, nor sinners in the band of the righteous, 1:6 Because the path of the righteous is manifest in the Lord’s presence, but the paths of the wicked will perish. (EMC)
1:4 οὐχ οὕτως οἱ ἀσεβεῖς οὐχ οὕτως ἀλλ’ ἢ ὡς ὁ χνοῦς ὃν ἐκριπτεῖ ὁ ἄνεμος ἀπὸ προσώπου τῆς γῆς 1:5 διὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἀναστήσονται ἀσεβεῖς ἐν κρίσει οὐδὲ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἐν βουλῇ δικαίων 1:6 ὅτι γινώσκει κύριος ὁδὸν δικαίων καὶ ὁδὸς ἀσεβῶν ἀπολεῖται (LXX)
Tehillim / Psalms Chapter 1
1:1 Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in the seat of evil men. 1:2 But his pleasure is in the law of the Lord; and in his law will he meditate day and night. 1:3 And he shall be as a tree planted by the brooks of waters, which shall yield its fruit in its season, and its leaf shall not fall off; and whatsoever he shall do shall be prospered. 1:4 Not so the ungodly; —not so: but rather as the chaff which the wind scatters away from the face of the earth. 1:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not rise in judgment, nor sinners in the counsel of the just. 1:6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish. (LXX)
We begin the study by looking at two translations of the Hebrew text, the Targum Pseudo Jonathan (Aramaic Translation) and the Septuagint (LXX, Greek translation). Reading through these translations on Tehillim / Psalms 1 what immediately catches one’s attention is the translation in English that show a contrast between the “Happy, good” (טוביה טובוהי) man in the Targum Pseudo Jonathan and the “blessed” (אַשְׁרֵי, μακάριος) man in the Septuagint. Looking at the word for blessing, the English language leaves us asking questions about what it means to be blessed, what kind of blessing is this man receiving who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the path of the sinners, or sits in the seat of the scoffers? Let’s dig a little deeper into the meaning of the word for blessing according to the Hebrew Scriptures.
In the Hebrew bible, there are two words that are used to describe blessing, the word ברוך (Baruch) and אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei). In the Torah, the language of “blessing” is given by the Hebrew word ברוך (Baruch) “to bless.” The word ברוך (Baruch) is derived from the root word ברך meaning “to kneel.” The word ברוך (Baruch) provides us with the Hebraic way of showing to bless someone is to kneel down and serve the one who is being blessed. How appropriately is God’s use of this word to express to us the way in which He would bless all the peoples of this earth in the seed of Abraham by His Son who would come as a prophet, priest, and king in the role of a servant. The servant nature of ברוך (Baruch) is important to keep in mind while we ask the question what it means to be a blessing and to be blessed by God according to the Torah?
What does it mean to be blessed according to the Scriptures in the Hebrew Bible? Studying the Hebrew Scriptures, there are two ways for understanding a blessing, (i) to be a blessing to others and (ii) to receive a blessing from someone and thereby being “blessed.” In other words, one is either the source of the blessing or the receiver of the blessing. The most common word for blessing is written as ברוך (Baruch) meaning “to bless” and this word is used extensively in Parashat Lech Lecha (Bereshit / Genesis 12:1-17:27) where the Lord God calls on Abraham to go out from his land from his father’s house, and from his people (12:1, א וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל-אַבְרָם לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ:) to a land that He will show him. The Lord promises to bless Abraham and make him into a great nation (וְאֶעֶשְֹךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל) and those who bless him the Lord will bless, and those who curse him the Lord will curse (וַאֲבָרְכָה מְבָרֲכֶיךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ אָאֹר). In the Torah, there are six other places where God reaffirms (confirms) His covenant with Abraham found in Bereshit / Genesis 15:18-21, 17:1-8, 18:18, 22:18, 26:4, and 28:14. Comparing these texts with Bereshit / Genesis 12:3 it is interesting to note that there are minor differences in the Hebrew words used to make the covenant blessing of Abraham’s seed, let’s look at these differences.
פרשת לך לך ספר בראשית פרק יב פסוק ג
ג וַאֲבָרְכָה מְבָרֲכֶיךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ אָאֹר וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה:
פרשת וירא ספר בראשית פרק יח פסוק יח
יח וְאַבְרָהָם הָיוֹ יִהְיֶה לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וְעָצוּם וְנִבְרְכוּ-בוֹ כֹּל גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ:
פרשת וירא ספר בראשית פרק כב פסוק יח
יח וְהִתְבָּרֲכוּ בְזַרְעֲךָ כֹּל גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ עֵקֶב אֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתָּ בְּקֹלִי:
פרשת תולדת ספר בראשית פרק כו פסוק ד
ד וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת-זַרְעֲךָ כְּכוֹכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם וְנָתַתִּי לְזַרְעֲךָ אֵת כָּל-הָאֲרָצֹת הָאֵל וְהִתְבָּרֲכוּ בְזַרְעֲךָ כֹּל גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ:
פרשת ויצא ספר בראשית פרק כח פסוק יד
יד וְהָיָה זַרְעֲךָ כַּעֲפַר הָאָרֶץ וּפָרַצְתָּ יָמָּה וָקֵדְמָה וְצָפֹנָה וָנֶגְבָּה וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ כָּל-מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה וּבְזַרְעֶךָ:
In Bereshit / Genesis 12:3 it states that “in you all the families (מִשְׁפְּחֹת) of the earth shall be blessed,” whereas in Bereshit / Genesis 18:18 it says “and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” (וְנִבְרְכוּ-בוֹ כֹּל גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ) The Targum Onkelos says “all the peoples of the earth will be blessed” (וְיִתְבָּרְכוּן בְּדִילֵיהּ כֹּל עַמְמֵי אַרְעָא). Bereshit / Genesis 22:18 says “and in your descendants (וְעָצוּם) all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” Bereshit 26:4 states “by your seed” (בְזַרְעֲךָ) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed and Bereshit / Genesis 28:14 states that “in you (בְךָ) shall all the families (מִשְׁפְּחֹת) of the earth be blessed, even in your seed (וּבְזַרְעֶךָ).” What is the significance of the change in wording from מִשְׁפְּחֹת (families), to גּוֹיֵי (nations) in Hebrew, and עַמְמֵי (people) in Aramaic? The covenantal promise to Abraham and the reaffirmation of the covenant reveals to us conclusively that all of the people of the earth, all the nations, all families, whether Jewish or non-Jewish are included in this promise that God is going to bless the peoples of this earth in and through Abraham and his seed. Examining these verses in Bereshit / Genesis 15:17-18, 18:18, 22:18, and 28:14 more closely, it is interesting that the Hebrew verb patterns found within these covenant blessings reveal to us how God is going to bless all the nations of the earth. Looking at the word for blessing (ברך) it is interesting to observe that we find the word ברך alternating between the Niphal (נפעל) and the Hiphil (הפעיל) verb patterns. The Niphal verb is a simple passive or reflexive verbal stem used to express simple action with either a passive or reflexive voice. In other words, whatever a verb means in the Qal stem, it becomes passive or reflexive in the Niphal stem. The Hiphil stem is causative/active voice used to express causative action in an active voice. For example, מלך means “he was a king” or “he reigned” in the Qal stem whereas the Hiphil form is written המליך and means “he caused to reign” or “he made someone king.” In the Hebrew text we find that blessing (ברך) is written in the Niphil stem in Bereshit / Genesis 12:3 וְנִבְרְכוּ and Bereshit / Genesis 18:18 וְנִבְרְכוּ and changes to the Hiphil stem in Bereshit / Genesis 22:18 וְהִתְבָּרֲכוּ and Bereshit / Genesis 26:4 וְהִתְבָּרֲכוּ and switches back to the Niphal stem in Bereshit / Genesis 28:14 וְנִבְרְכוּ. In these verses, the JPS translations takes the Niphal to conform to the Hiphil while the KJV and NASB make the Hiphil conform to the Niphal and translate all the five passages as passive. The NIV takes the Niphal to be passive and the Hiphil to be reflexive translating the phrase as passive 3 times and reflexive 2 times. The Targum Onkelos takes the Niphal in Bereshit / Genesis 12:3 as passive as does the LXX, Latin Vulgate, and Samaritan Pentateuch. The importance on understanding these differences in the verbal forms is related to interpretation of these scriptures in light of the kind of blessing God is going to give unto the nations. Studying the different verbal forms of ברך (blessings) in these verses, we find a greater number of Niphal occurrences (three) than the Hiphil (two) indicating that God will bless the nations (Niphal) or cause the nations to be blessed (Hiphil) in this seed of Abraham. So these verses of the covenantal blessing are to be interpreted as the nations of the earth will “be blessed” and not to mean that the nations would “bless themselves” or “evoke a blessing in Abraham’s name.” The understanding these passages are dependent upon is the nature of the covenant and that God is making His covenant with Abraham and his children. In the seed of Abraham the Lord would bring His Messiah and in His Messiah God would cause all the nations of the earth to be blessed. These verses indicate that it is through this seed of Abraham that the blessing will pass to all the nations of the earth. It is in the way of servant blessing the Lord God will ברוך (baruch) “bless” all the nations by giving His son the Messiah. The meaning of blessing in the word ברוך (baruch) “to bless” is that of love and that of a servant heart. Therefore, when we are being a blessing to the Lord we serve Him with all of our heart, mind, and soul (Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:4-12). It is interesting however, that this is not the type of blessing that Yeshua was referring to in Matthew 5:1-12.
The Scripture verses we are looking at this week say אַשְׁרֵי-הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַךְ בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked” in Tehillim / Psalms 1:1 utilizes the Hebrew word אַשְׁרֵי. The word אַשְׁרֵי is derived from the root word אשר meaning “happy one” according to the BDB lexicon. Performing a word search on the word אַשְׁרֵי this word occurs 40 times in the Tanach, 2 times in 1 Kings, 2 times in Isaiah, 28 times in Psalms, 4 times in Proverbs, 2 times in Job, once in Daniel, and once in 2 Chronicles. It is interesting to note that the word אַשְׁרֵי is not used in the text of the Torah and is never used of God. The use of this word (אַשְׁרֵי), according to the Scriptures, appears to be related to the goodness of God as a result of how one lives. For example, living for the Lord and not in the counsel of the wicked or in the path of sinners, or in the seat of scoffers such a man is blessed by not doing these things. The Aramaic translation (Targum Pseudo Jonathan) says טוביה טובוהי דגבר “good is the man,” it is interesting that the word טוב is used for translation meaning “good,” hence the English translation “good is the man.” Also note that this word is repeated for emphasis and the second word is written in the plural construct form to indicate that this man is good in the sense of calling someone blessed, that goodness has been given to him. Sokoloff’s dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic states that the word טוב is a reference to the “best thing, goodness,” “the choice product” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:11), it is also used as a reference to “separation of the choice part from it” referring to the best parts of the Korban (sacrifice) that was given to God upon the altar (Bamidbar / Numbers 18:30, Vayikra / Leviticus 2:2, 16, 6:8), the “best dew and rain” (Bereshit / Genesis 49:25), “the best wheat and wine” (Bamidbar / Numbers 18:12, Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:11, 32:14, 33:13), and “the best produce of the land” (Bereshit / Genesis 27:28, 43:11, 45:18). The blessing of goodness as it is used according to the Aramaic Scriptures, such a man who has the goodness of God is happy. For example, “Happy am I for my portion in this world, happy is the villager whose king is his wedding attendant, happy is he wou has gold in his house or in his caravan” (Bavli Yoma 41d). The Greek translation of the Septuagint (LXX) uses the word μακάριος meaning “blessed, happy” is in agreement with the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew text.
Studying the blessedness of the man (אַשְׁרֵי-הָאִישׁ) that walks in righteousness from Tehillim / Psalms 1, it is interesting that Yeshua’s words in Matthew 5:1-12, while teaching on the mount of olives, Yeshua used the same word אַשְׁרֵי meaning “happy one” while referring to those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful and pure in heart, who are peacemakers, and who are persecuted for his sake. What is this blessedness (אַשְׁרֵי) that Yeshua is referring to was he thinking on Tehillim / Psalms 1? Below is a summary of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5:1-12.
Summary of Matthew 5
- The blessedness / Goodness (Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-11)
a. 3Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. 5:3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NASB)
ג אַשְׁרֵי עֲנִיֵּי הָרוּחַ כִּי לָהֶם מַלְכוּת הַשָׁמָיִם׃
b. 4μακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται. 5:4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (NASB)
ד אַשְׁרֵי הָאֲבֵלִים כִּי־הֵם יְנֻחָמוּ׃
c. 5μακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς, ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσιν τὴν γῆν. 5:5 ‘Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. (NASB)
ה אַשְׁרֵי הָעֲנָוִים כִּי־הֵמָּה יִירְשׁוּ אָרֶץ׃
d. 6μακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην, ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσονται. 5:6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (NASB)
ו אַשְׁרֵי הָרְעֵבִים וְהַצְּמֵאִים לַצְּדָקָה כִּי־הֵם יִשְׂבָּעוּ׃
e. 7μακάριοι οἱ ἐλεήμονες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται. 5:7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (NASB)
ז אַשְׁרֵי הָרַחֲמָנִים כִּי־הֵם יְרֻחָמוּ׃
f. 8μακάριοι οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ, ὅτι αὐτοὶ τὸν θεὸν ὄψονται. 5:8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (NASB)
ח אַשְׁרֵי בָּרֵי לֵבָב כִּי־הֵם יֶחֱזוּ אֶת־הָאֱלׂהִים׃
g. 9μακάριοι οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί, ὅτι αὐτοὶ υἱοὶ θεοῦ κληθήσονται. 5:9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (NASB)
ט אַשְׁרֵי רׂדְפֵי שָׁלוֹם כִּי־בְנֵי אֱלׂהִים יִקָּרֵא לָהֶם׃
h. 10μακάριοι οἱ δεδιωγμένοι ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. 5:10 ‘Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NASB)
י אַשְׁרֵי הַנִּרְדָּפִים בִּגְלַל הַצְּדָקָה כִּי לָהֶם מַלְכוּת הַשָׁמָיִם׃
i. 11μακάριοί ἐστε ὅταν ὀνειδίσωσιν ὑμᾶς καὶ διώξωσιν καὶ εἴπωσιν πᾶν πονηρὸν καθ’ ὑμῶν [ψευδόμενοι] ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ: 5:11 ‘Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. (NASB)
יא אַשְׁרֵיכֶם כִּי־יְחָרֲפוּ וְרָדְפוּ אֶתְכֶם וְדִבְּרוּ עֲלֵיכֶם בְּשֶׁקֶר כָּל־רָע בַּעֲבוּרִי׃
This section of Scripture from Matthew 5:1-12 become known as the “beatitudes” (blessing, bliss, absolute happiness) as a result of the repeated use of the word “blessed” (μακάριοί, makarios), which reflects the Hebrew word אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei). This way of speaking is found throughout Tehillim / Psalms and Mishley / Proverbs (see Tehillim / Psalms 1:1, 2:12, 32:1-2, 33:12, 34:8, 40:4, 41:1, 65:4, 84:4-5, 12, 89:15, 94:12, 106:3, 112:1, 119:1-2, 127:5, 128:1, 137:8-9, 144:15, 146:5, Mishley / Proverbs 3:13, 8:34, and 28:14). Studying Matthew 1-4 we learn that Matthew has laid out his Gospel beginning with the genealogy of Yeshua and then followed by the testimony given by John the baptizer where john says that Yeshua is the one who comes that was spoken of by Moshe, the promised Messiah who would “baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Yeshua is presented in Matthew’s Gospel in chapter 1-4 as the Son of God and as the One in whom the Father is pleased. Following having informed the reader about who Yeshua is, Matthew then writes the sermon on the mount. It is only after we are aware of who Yeshua is that we are able to listen to and hear his words as he spoke to the people while sitting on the mount. Note that the frequency of the word אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei) used in the Scriptures is very high in Tehillim / Psalms and Mishley / Proverbs. The Psalms and Proverbs contain many life application Scriptures. This blessedness that Yeshua is speaking of, it is related to life application?
If we consider that Yeshua is thinking on the Psalms, these nine sayings Yeshua gives (beatitudes) might be laid out in a chiastic structure similar to the way many of the Psalms are laid out. If Yeshua was laying out these sayings in a chiastic arrangement then the major emphasis is placed upon “showing mercy,” at the center of the structure with the beatitudes having these categories:
- The poor in spirit = those persecuted as disciples of Yeshua
- Those who mourn = persecuted for righteousness
- Those who are gentle = peacemakers
- Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness = pure in heart
The Chiastic Structure of the Beatitudes
Those poor in spirit –> kingdom of heaven
Those who mourn –> Comforted
Those who are gentle –> inherit the earth
Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness –> shown mercy
Those who show mercy –> shown mercy
Those who pure in heart –> see God
Those who are peacemakers –> called sons of God
Those persecuted for the sake of righteousness –> kingdom of heaven
Those persecuted as disciples of Yeshua –> great reward in heaven
Look at the Greek text of the Gospel of Matthew, the use of the word μακάριοί makarios “blessed” draws our attention since this is the same word that is used in the LXX from Tehillim / Psalms 1. As mentioned earlier there are two words that are used throughout the Tanach for blessing ברוך (baruch) and אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei). Searching through the Tanach, wherever אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei) is written it is always translated in the Greek as Μακάριοι (makarios). On the other hand, ברוך (baruch) is translated with the Greek words ευλογώ, ευγνωμονώ, λατρεύω (eulogeo). By the use of the word μακάριοι by Matthew indicates that Yeshua was referring to אַשְׁרֵי “blessed” and not ברוך “to be blessed.” Mentioned earlier, the word אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei) is never used of God and is always used of the blessing that comes upon a person who lives righteously. Therefore, the major component of this “blessing” that is found in our text is that it encompasses the divine action toward one who obeyed God and acted in accordance with His prescribed commandments.
The majority of the English translations of the bible translate this as “blessed,” however some translate as “happy” such as Young’s literal translation. In addition to this, the Aramaic translation uses the word טוביה “happy” or “good” and studying the various uses of this word in the Targum Onkelos and Pseudo Jonathan, we find that the word טוביה “happiness” of the man is much more than simply being happy, the Beatitudes themselves show that one may be “blessed” even in the state of mourning. Therefore, this “blessing” encompasses the idea of a heart and conscience at peace before the Lord God Almighty. It captures the sense that one exists under the protection of God regardless of our circumstances.
Looking at the chiastic structure, the poor in spirit may be related to those who are persecuted as disciples of Yeshua, their reward is great in heaven and their names are written in heaven. Those who have complete reliance upon God will obtain the kingdom of heaven. Those who are poor in spirit realize that they do not achieve entrance into heaven by their own strength or by material wealth and not even because of their lack of wealth. The Lord who reigns in their hearts will give them peace and right standing before God and await a future expectation of the Messiah upon the clouds. Here Yeshua is teaching us about our absolute reliance upon the Lord God Almighty for entrance into His kingdom, happy and blessed are those who completely place their trust in the Lord. Yeshua is telling us that the kingdom of heaven is a gift from God to those who admit their own spiritual poverty and believe upon Yeshua for their salvation.
The next indentation in the chiastic structure is those who mourn. Based upon the layout of the structure, those who mourn do so because they are persecuted for righteousness sake. Now mourning as a result of persecution draws a parallel with Isaiah 61:1-3 where comforting is found for those who mourn. In Isaiah 61, Israel is being oppressed by her enemies and the same is true for us who believe in Yeshua the Messiah and walk in the righteousness of our Lord and Savior. We will be persecuted even unto death. What Yeshua is trying to say is not an exhortation to mourn in order to be blessed. The mourning comes as a result of evil people persecuting God’s people for living in righteousness and holiness.
ספר ישעיה פרק סא
א רוּחַ אֲדֹנָי יְהֶוִֹה עָלָי יַעַן מָשַׁח יְהֹוָה אֹתִי לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנָוִים שְׁלָחַנִי לַחֲבֹשׁ לְנִשְׁבְּרֵי-לֵב לִקְרֹא לִשְׁבוּיִם דְּרוֹר וְלַאֲסוּרִים פְּקַח-קוֹחַ: ב לִקְרֹא שְׁנַת-רָצוֹן לַיהֹוָה וְיוֹם נָקָם לֵאלֹהֵינוּ לְנַחֵם כָּל-אֲבֵלִים: ג לָשֹוּם | לַאֲבֵלֵי צִיּוֹן לָתֵת לָהֶם פְּאֵר תַּחַת אֵפֶר שֶׁמֶן שָֹשֹוֹן תַּחַת אֵבֶל מַעֲטֵה תְהִלָּה תַּחַת רוּחַ כֵּהָה וְקֹרָא לָהֶם אֵילֵי הַצֶּדֶק מַטַּע יְהֹוָה לְהִתְפָּאֵר:
61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; 61:2 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 61:3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. (NASB)
The blessing will ultimately come when the Lord will validate the way of walking in righteousness by punishing the wicked as it says in Tehillim / Psalms 1 the path of the wicked is destruction. The blessing that is promised to those who mourn will be that they will be “comforted.” It is in and through God’s Messiah that comfort will come. In fact, Yeshua said that he will send the “comforter” to us, God’s Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts. The Word of God that has also been given as an encouragement to all of those who mourn because of this fallen world, the pain that we go through in life, and because of the persecution that comes our way because of our faith in the Lord, the word of God helps us to continue to trust and obey the Lord God. We who place our trust in the Lord, He will comfort us.
Yeshua goes on to say those who are gentle will inherit the earth, the chiastic structure shows a parallel to those who are peacemakers who will be called the sons of God. The Greek word used for “gentle” (πραεῖς) has the meaning to be “humble, meek, gentle, and submissive.” These qualities of gentleness show to be a response to faith and maturity, faith that God controls the events of life. A peacemaker provides us with further meaning on what it means to be gentle. A peacemaker does not have within his heart pride to overpower someone but by trusting in God one seeks to make peace with all men.
The next chiasm is those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be satisfied, and the parallel is those who are pure in heart will see God. In these Scriptures, one’s soul is that which is thirsting and hungering for righteousness. This does not eliminate the possibility of physical hunger and thirst, but Yeshua is focusing our attention upon one’s desire for righteousness, this desire should fill up one’s entire life. Just as we seek to find food and drink for our bodies in this world, we also are to seek after righteousness to give food and drink for our souls. This is like the tree that is planted near streams of waters in Tehillim / Psalms 1:3 that state ג וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ שָׁתוּל עַל-פַּלְגֵי מָיִם אֲשֶׁר פִּרְיוֹ | יִתֵּן בְּעִתּוֹ וְעָלֵהוּ לֹא יִבּוֹל וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶֹה יַצְלִיחַ: 1:3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. (NASB) If we follow the Lord God and His righteous ways all of our lives we will be planted firmly in the ground and will not be moved. The Scriptures say we are to set out hearts upon the word of God and to mediate upon His ways day and night. The Psalmist writes “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God” (Tehillim / Psalms 42:2, ג צָמְאָה נַפְשִׁי | לֵאלֹהִים לְאֵל חָי מָתַי אָבוֹא וְאֵרָאֶה פְּנֵי אֱלֹהִים:) indicating that this is something that comes from within. This righteousness is something that is obtained, the emphasis in Tehillim / Psalms 1 and here in the Beatitudes, is not that those who hunger or thirst for righteousness will be given righteousness but that righteousness is the character of those who are true followers of God. Yeshua states that having a hunger and thirst for righteousness, one is aware of his or her need for more of God’s righteousness. This righteousness must continually be sought after whereas the counsel of the wicked, the path of the sinner, and the seat of the scoffers must be continually fled from. Faith in God and a longing for His righteousness will lead to a love for His Torah. Upon having faith in Yeshua the Messiah, we are made righteous. 2 Corinthians 5:21, 21τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν, ἵνα ἡμεῖς γενώμεθα δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ. 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NASB)
The Scripture says that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be satisfied, this means that God is the One who brings satisfaction. True satisfaction and success comes with knowing God and being pleasing to Him. Those who are pure in heart will see God. Inner purity is the place from which righteous deeds flow. Tehillim / Psalms 24:3-5 states ג מִי-יַעֲלֶה בְהַר יְהֹוָה וּמִי-יָקוּם בִּמְקוֹם קָדְשׁוֹ: ד נְקִי כַפַּיִם וּבַר לֵבָב אֲשֶׁר לֹא-נָשָֹא לַשָּׁוְא נַפְשִׁי וְלֹא נִשְׁבַּע לְמִרְמָה: ה יִשָּׂא בְרָכָה מֵאֵת יְהֹוָה וּצְדָקָה מֵאֱלֹהֵי יִשְׁעוֹ: 24:3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 24:4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. 24:5 He shall receive a blessing from the Lord And righteousness from the God of his salvation. (NASB) The purity of heart and the reward of a pure heart is the thirst and hunger for more and more of the righteousness of God. The pure heart involves the inward commitment to seek the Lord God Almighty. The blessedness of the person who has a pure heart is that they will see God. Scripture says that God is a spirit and therefore invisible to the eyes of men (John 1:18, 4:24, Colossians 1:15, 1 Timothy 1:17). In Parashat Ki Tisa, the Lord instructed Moshe that he cannot see His face for no man can see God and live (Shemot / Exodus 33:20). In Parashat Yitro (Shemot / Exodus 24:9-10) the Scriptures say that Moshe, Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, and the seventy elders of Israel saw the God of Israel. And in Tehillim / Psalms 17:15 it says טו אֲנִי בְּצֶדֶק אֶחֱזֶה פָנֶיךָ אֶשְֹבְּעָה בְהָקִיץ תְּמוּנָתֶךָ: 17:15 As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake. (NASB) The purity of heart, seeing God, and beholding His face are all connected to righteousness. The blessedness that is attached to righteousness and the purity of heart is that a person will come to know God (to see Him) perfectly and completely revealed in His Son Yeshua. This is the revelation of the Father.
Yeshua said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, Blessed are those who mourn, Blessed are the gentle, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Blessed are the merciful, Blessed are the pure in heart, Blessed are the peacemakers, Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” How can we understand the blessedness of these things according to the writings of the Tanach (Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim)? The use of the two words for blessing ברוך (baruch) and אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei) in the Tanach, and the Greek word μακάριοι always being translated with אַשְׁרֵי along with the Aramaic translation and use of the “Happy / good” (טוביה טובוהי) man, we realize that the blessing is the blessing that comes to the person who lives a righteous life. The happiness that comes to a person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, who does not stand in the path of the sinner, and does not sit in the seat of the scoffer, is the blessing that comes as a result of one who obeys God and acts in accordance with His Torah. The righteous man delights in the Torah of God, He is like a tree that is planted by streams of water that yield its fruit in its season and its leaves do not wither (Tehillim / Psalms 1:3). The blessed man is sustained in the Word of the Lord and whatever he does he prospers. The contrast is that the wicked do not do as the righteous man and they are blown like chaff in the wind. Their way is the way of destruction, and the unrighteous will not stand in the day of judgement. Therefore, the major point of the blessed man (אַשְׁרֵי-הָאִישׁ) is the ultimate happiness that is found is in the one who loves the Lord God Almighty and stays away from sin and unrighteousness and seeks the Lord God and His presence. Do you seek the righteousness of the Lord God? Do you meditate upon His Word day and night because of your love for Him? Tehillim / Psalms 1 captures the idea the true believer is the one who walks in justice, mercy, righteousness, and faithfulness. In striving to be faithful and righteous he delights in God’s Word. Do you delight in God’s Word as a righteous man or woman of God? It is logical therefore that those who love God come to love and follow His Words and take to heart the words of our Master Yeshua the Messiah, truly blessed and happy are those who love the Lord and seek to be pleasing in His eyes.
The question might be asked, what do the rabbis have in common with the writings of the apostles? As disciples of New Testament studies, should we neglect the rabbinic literature? According to Brad Young, much of the NT was written by Jewish authors for a Jewish audience saying “many aspects and literary types in rabbinic texts are paralleled in the NT.” (Meet the Rabbis, Rabbinic thought and the teachings of Jesus, by Brad H. Young, 2007, Hendrickson Publishers Inc.) What is it about the thinking of the ancient Rabbis and their interpretation of the Bible that could help us to understand Scripture? While studying Midrash Tehillim, we will keep these questions in mind.
The Midrash on Tehillim 1 is quite extensive having 22 parts. This week we will be looking at part 20 of the midrash. Let’s begin by outlining Midrash Tehillim Part 20.
Outline of Midrash Tehillim / Psalms, Chapter 1, Part 20
- The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) “The wicked are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away (Tehillim / Psalms 1:4).”
- The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says “These words are to be considered in the light of the verse I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys (Song 2:1).”
- The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), saying “The congregation of Israel said to the Holy One Blessed be He, Master of the universe I am the beloved, for you have lavished more love upon me than upon all other peoples.”
- The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal) goes on to expand upon how the Holy One blessed be He lavishes love upon His people.
- The Concluding phrase says “In this world the righteous are smitten, but in the world to come the will have firm footing and great strength, as is said, But the word of our God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8), the word of our God referring to the righteous who obey the Torah, the word of our God.”
A couple of things catch our attention while reading the Midrash on Tehillim 1, Part 20. First, the references to Gehenna in Hebrew גיהנום and in Greek γεέννης is a place of suffering and torture and was believed to be the residence of condemned souls, the wicked (unrighteous, unjust people). According to Easton’s dictionary, Gehenna was originally “the valley of the sons of Hinnom” a place in a narrow valley south of Jerusalem where the people at one time offered their children to Molech (see 2 chronicles 28:3, 33:6, and Jeremiah 7:31, and 19:2-6). After this horrible time the valley became the place where the city would throw their trash and the dead bodies of animals and of criminals and all kinds of vile things. A fire was kept burning in order to burn up the refuse and the dead. Over time, this became known as a type or image of a place of everlasting destruction and Yeshua used this as a reference to Hell in Matthew 5:22, 5:29, 5:30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15, 23:33, Mark 9:43, 9:45, 9:47, and Luke 12:5. In the more modern English translations this word Gehenna is rendered as “Hell.” In the older translations such as the KJV, the Greek is transliterated into English as “Gehenna.” Some in Orthodox Judaism teach that Hell does not exist or that the concept of Hell is not in Judaism, this being used as a anti-missionary tactic to answer “salvation” in Yeshua. Others say “when you are dead you are dead, and that is the end of it.” According to the Ketuvei Shelachim (Apostolic Writings) there was a very clear and early understanding of Hell by Yeshua’s use of Gehenna to make his illustration. Yeshua taught about the danger of Hell using the word גיהנום / γεέννης to illustrate what it will be like for the person who goes there. In addition to this, Midrash Tehillim also includes references to Gehenna. Midrash Tehillim is known to exist from the 11th century and it is believed the commentary come out of the time period of the Tannaim and the recording of the Mishnah and the Talmud which would place the commentary close to within 200 years of Yeshua walking this earth. Therefore, the concept of “Hell” a place for the wicked, the unjust, and the unrighteous is extant within Judaism according to the rabbinic commentary on Tehillim / Psalms, and this understanding on Hell being the place for the wicked in Judaism is very early. Not surprising since Yeshua uses Gehenna quite frequently throughout the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Another interesting comment by the rabbis in Midrash Tehillim Part 20, is the concept of being tested by fire. This reminds us of the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:11-17. Let’s look at the section from Midrash Tehillim and from Scripture in 1 Corinthians 3.
מדרש תהלים פרק א סימן כ
ואומרים לפניו רבונו של עולם מה נשתנו ישראל משאר אומות, אלו עובדי ע״ז, ואלו עובדי ע״ז, אלו שופכי דמים, ואלו שופכי דמים, אלו מגלי עריות, ואלו מגלי עריות, הללו יורדין לגיהנם, והללו אין יורדין, אמר להם הקב״ה אם כן תרד כל אומה ואומה ואלהיה עמה לגיהנם ותבדוק את עצמה, וגם ישראל ילכו ויבדקו את עצמם, משיבים ישראל ואומרים לפני הקב״ה, אתה הוא סיכויינו, ואתה הוא סברנו, אין לנו מובטח אלא אתה, אם רצונך עבור אתה בראשינו, ואומר להם הקב״ה אל תיראו שכולכם לובשי שני, זה ברית מילה, שנאמר לא תירא לביתה משלג כי כל ביתה לבוש שנים (משלי לא כא), ואף על פי כן אני אלך עמכם, שנאמר כי כל העמים ילכו איש בשם אלהיו ואנחנו נלך בשם ה׳ אלהינו לעולם ועד (מיכה ד ה)
Midrash Tehillim, Chapter 1, Part 20
How do the children of Israel differ from the other nations of the earth? The others worshiped idols, and these worshiped idols. The others shed blood, and these shed blood. The others committed incest, and these committed incest. But though the others are being sent down to Gehenna, these are not being sent down. The Holy One blessed be He, will answer, Since what you say is true, let each and every nation together with its god go down to Gehenna, and let each be tested with fire, and let the children of Israel also go down into Gehenna, and let them be tested by fire. Whereupon the children of Israel will answer the Holy One blessed be He, and say, You are our expectation, and you are our hope. We have no one worthy of trust but you. And if it be your will that we go down into Gehenna, pray go you to the head of us. The Holy One blessed be He, will then say to them, Be not afraid for all of you are clothed in scarlet. By which is meant the mark of circumcision, as alluded to in the verse, she is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet (Mishley / Proverbs 31:21). Nevertheless, I shall go down with you, as is said For all the peoples walk every one in the name of his god, we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever (Micah 4:5).
PROS KORINQIOUS A 3:11-17
11θεμέλιον γὰρ ἄλλον οὐδεὶς δύναται θεῖναι παρὰ τὸν κείμενον, ὅς ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς Χριστός. 12εἰ δέ τις ἐποικοδομεῖ ἐπὶ τὸν θεμέλιον χρυσόν, ἄργυρον, λίθους τιμίους, ξύλα, χόρτον, καλάμην, 13ἑκάστου τὸ ἔργον φανερὸν γενήσεται, ἡ γὰρ ἡμέρα δηλώσει: ὅτι ἐν πυρὶ ἀποκαλύπτεται, καὶ ἑκάστου τὸ ἔργον ὁποῖόν ἐστιν τὸ πῦρ [αὐτὸ] δοκιμάσει. 14εἴ τινος τὸ ἔργον μενεῖ ὃ ἐποικοδόμησεν, μισθὸν λήμψεται: 15εἴ τινος τὸ ἔργον κατακαήσεται, ζημιωθήσεται, αὐτὸς δὲ σωθήσεται, οὕτως δὲ ὡς διὰ πυρός. 16οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ναὸς θεοῦ ἐστε καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν; 17εἴ τις τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ φθείρει, φθερεῖ τοῦτον ὁ θεός: ὁ γὰρ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἅγιός ἐστιν, οἵτινές ἐστε ὑμεῖς.
1 Corinthians 3:11-17
3:11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 3:12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 3:13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 3:14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 3:15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 3:17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. (NASB)
The Midrash has the rabbis discussing the accusations being made against Israel at the judgment and that each nation will go down with their gods and be tested by fire. Similarly, the children of Israel will also be tested by fire. The one whose hope is in the Lord will be saved. It is with this mindset that the Apostle Paul writes to the believers in Corinth that no man can lay a foundation other than that what has been laid which is Yeshua the Messiah. The foundation according to the rabbis is that of studying Torah. Tehillim / Psalms 1 speaks of the righteous man whose delight is in the Torah of God, such a righteous man does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the path of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful. The apostle Paul is saying that no man can lay a foundation other than what God has done, that is, a foundation which is made in Yeshua the Messiah. According to Paul, the work of each man will become apparent when it is revealed or tested by fire. The work that remains is the works that were done by faith in the Lord God Almighty and His Messiah Yeshua. The rabbis are looking at the Scripture from Tehillim / Psalms 1:4 “The wicked are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.” The wicked are like chaff that burn in fire. The Mashal (משל) states that the angels will denounce Israel in the judgment time. The Nimshal states that all will be tested by fire, and the chaff will be burned. In addition to this, the midrash states that the Lord will go before the people, He will go with her (Israel) and protect her from destruction.
Studying Midrash Tehillim 1, Part 20, there is an interesting parallel found within the Apostolic Writings. In 1 Corinthians 3:11-17, the Apostle Paul says that we are the Temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells within each of us. The parallel found here is that the Lord our god is with us and His Spirit will go with us. It is interesting that there appears to be a parallel here in the rabbinic commentary with Paul’s understanding of being tested by fire, the Lord going with us, and our bodies being the Temple of God. Was Paul drawing upon his rabbinic schooling in his understanding of these things? Looking at the Christian commentary, and in the Strongs Concordance, it is interesting that no reference to the Scriptures is given as a source text on 1 Corinthians 3:13 and 3:15. On the other hand, Midrash Tehillim states “Rabbi Reuben said in the name of rabbi Hamina, were it not that the verse is so clear, it is scarcely conceivable that one would dare say such a thing as By fire will judgment be executed upon the Lord (Isaiah 66:16).” (ר׳ ראובן בשם ר׳ חנינא אמר אלמלא מקרא כתוב אי אפשר לאמרו, כי באש ה׳ נשפט ישעיה סו יו) making a reference to Isaiah 66:16.
ספר ישעיה פרק סו
יד וּרְאִיתֶם וְשָֹשֹ לִבְּכֶם וְעַצְמוֹתֵיכֶם כַּדֶּשֶׁא תִפְרַחְנָה וְנוֹדְעָה יַד-יְהֹוָה אֶת-עֲבָדָיו וְזָעַם אֶת-אֹיְבָיו: טו כִּי-הִנֵּה יְהֹוָה בָּאֵשׁ יָבוֹא וְכַסּוּפָה מַרְכְּבֹתָיו לְהָשִׁיב בְּחֵמָה אַפּוֹ וְגַעֲרָתוֹ בְּלַהֲבֵי-אֵשׁ: טז כִּי בָאֵשׁ יְהֹוָה נִשְׁפָּט וּבְחַרְבּוֹ אֶת-כָּל-בָּשָֹר וְרַבּוּ חַלְלֵי יְהֹוָה: יז הַמִּתְקַדְּשִׁים וְהַמִּטַּהֲרִים אֶל-הַגַּנּוֹת אַחַר אַחַד [אַחַת] בַּתָּוֶךְ אֹכְלֵי בְּשַֹר הַחֲזִיר וְהַשֶּׁקֶץ וְהָעַכְבָּר יַחְדָּו יָסֻפוּ נְאֻם-יְהֹוָה: יח וְאָנֹכִי מַעֲשֵֹיהֶם וּמַחְשְׁבֹתֵיהֶם בָּאָה לְקַבֵּץ אֶת-כָּל-הַגּוֹיִם וְהַלְּשֹׁנוֹת וּבָאוּ וְרָאוּ אֶת-כְּבוֹדִי:
66:14 Then you will see this, and your heart will be glad, And your bones will flourish like the new grass; And the hand of the Lord will be made known to His servants, But He will be indignant toward His enemies. 66:15 For behold, the Lord will come in fire And His chariots like the whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. 66:16 For the Lord will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the Lord will be many. 66:17 ‘Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens, Following one in the center, Who eat swine’s flesh, detestable things and mice, will come to an end altogether,’ declares the Lord. 66:18 ‘For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory. (NASB)
The Apostle Paul may have been drawing upon Isaiah 66:15-16 (from Midrash Tehillim 1) to illustrate the importance of building upon the foundation that God has laid, which is Yeshua the Messiah. The judgment of God be by fire is attested of throughout Scripture. Sefer Tehillim / Psalms 1 references the chaff, fire, and the rabbinic commentary picks up on that. All the rest that man builds on with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw will be burned up as chaff by fire. In addition to Paul, the Apostle Peter said something very similar, in 2 Peter 3:7, 7οἱ δὲ νῦν οὐρανοὶ καὶ ἡ γῆ τῷ αὐτῷ λόγῳ τεθησαυρισμένοι εἰσὶν πυρί, τηρούμενοι εἰς ἡμέραν κρίσεως καὶ ἀπωλείας τῶν ἀσεβῶν ἀνθρώπων. 3:7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (NASB) The Reformation study bible says “stored up for fire. Sodom and Gomorrah serve for Peter as a paradigm of final judgment (2:6). Although this picture of a universal inferno at the last judgment is unique to Peter, the idea of divine judgment by fire is common in the Old Testament (Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:22, Isaiah 66:15-16, Malachi 4:1) and is found in the New Testament as well (Matthew 3:12, 1 Corinthians 3:13, and 2 Thessalonians (1:7-8).” Here a reference is made to Isaiah 66:15-16 and to other locations in the Tanach, hence the judgment by fire appears to be a developed concept within the rabbinic literature and the Apostolic Writings (NT).
Yeshua said that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be satisfied. This is the question we must ask ourselves, “Do I truly hunger and thirst for righteousness?” According to Tehillim / Psalms 1, and Yeshua’s words, God is the only one who brings true satisfaction and this comes only in knowing God and being pleasing to Him. The inner purity, and innocence of heart comes not only by the Lord working and transforming us from the inside out, but in our desire to draw nearer to Him and seek His ways and His truth. The inner purity that Yeshua gives us, if we remain in him, is the place from which righteous deeds flow, and we bear much fruit that is pleasing to our Father who is in Heaven. Tehillim / Psalms 24:3-5 states ג מִי-יַעֲלֶה בְהַר יְהֹוָה וּמִי-יָקוּם בִּמְקוֹם קָדְשׁוֹ: ד נְקִי כַפַּיִם וּבַר לֵבָב אֲשֶׁר לֹא-נָשָֹא לַשָּׁוְא נַפְשִׁי וְלֹא נִשְׁבַּע לְמִרְמָה: ה יִשָּׂא בְרָכָה מֵאֵת יְהֹוָה וּצְדָקָה מֵאֱלֹהֵי יִשְׁעוֹ: 24:3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 24:4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. 24:5 He shall receive a blessing from the Lord And righteousness from the God of his salvation. (NASB) The purity of heart comes first by the Lord God Almighty working in our lives through His Son, and second by our delight of God’s word and work that is manifest in our lives. It is in that thirst and hunger for more and more of the righteousness of God, that we know we are remaining in Yeshua, in Christ, in God’s Messiah.
The use of these words for blessing ברוך (baruch) andאַשְׁרֵי (ashrei) in the Tanach, along with the Greek word μακάριοι always being translated with אַשְׁרֵי along with the Aramaic translation and use of the “Happy / good” (טוביה טובוהי) man, we realize that true blessing comes to the person who lives a righteous life. The happiness that comes to a person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, who does not stand in the path of the sinner, and does not sit in the seat of the scoffer, is the blessing that comes as a result of the one who obeys God and acts in accordance with His truth. The righteous man delights in the way of the Lord, and remains in His truth producing fruit like the tree that is planted by streams of water that yield its fruit in its season and its leaves do not wither (Tehillim / Psalms 1:3). The man who remains in God’s Word is sustained by Him, there is no greater foundation that has been laid than that of what the Word of the Lord has done for us. If we remain in Christ we will not be blown like chaff in the wind because we have happiness that is found in the one who loves the Lord God Almighty and stays away from sin and unrighteousness and seeks the Lord God and His presence. Do you seek the righteous of the Lord God? Do you meditate upon His Word day and night because of your love for Him? Tehillim / Psalms 1 captures the idea that the true believer is the one who walks in justice, mercy, righteousness, and faithfulness. In striving to be faithful and righteous before God let us dedicate our lives in a new way so that we are known as those who love God, love Yeshua, love His Holy Word, and love one another as our Master Yeshua the Messiah has taught us. Truly blessed are those who love the Lord and seek to be pleasing in His eyes.
chiasmus (from the , chiázō, “to shape like the letter Χ”) is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism. Chiasmus was particularly popular both in Greek and in Latin literature, where it was used to articulate balance or order within a text. As a popular example, many long and complex chiasmi have been found in Shakespeare and the Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible.