I wanted to give you all an update in the form of sharing some insights that have arisen as I recently worked on restoring the original Hebrew of Matthew 5:21-16 and the parallel in Luke 12:58-59.
In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua is “building a fence” around various commandments. (I recently wrote a blog about this here). In this case the Torah says “You shall not kill” and Yeshua builds a fence around this commandment saying not to even be angry with your fellow man.
One textual issue that comes up in restoring the original Hebrew of this passage, is the phrase “without cause” in Matthew 5:22. The term is lacking in some of the most ancient Greek manuscripts of Matthew, including P64 (about 200 CE); Codex א; and Codex B and most other Alexandrian Type texts, but is found in other ancient Greek copies such as Codex D and the majority of later Byzantine Type texts.
When we look at the Hebrew witnesses, we find “without cause” does not appear in any of our Hebrew witnesses (DuTillet, Munster or Shem Tob) but does appear in all of our Aramaic witnesses (Old Syriac Siniatic and Curetonian and in the Peshitta) and other Western Text Type sources (Greek Codex D, The Old Latin and the Latin Vulgate). So we are left with a question, did these words appear in the original, and were removed? Or were they added by a later hand?
Normally I would give priority to the Western text type, but in this case, not only do all three of our Hebrew sources agree, but we have another very important source.
One of the most important sources we have to aid in this project are a set of marginal notes found on some Greek manuscripts of Matthew, giving alternate readings from a an ancient “Jewish Version” (literally called in Greek “Judaikon”) Some thirty-six or more Greek manuscripts of Matthew dating from the ninth to thirteenth centuries (including Λ, 273, 566, 899, 1424, ε175 and e4) contain subscriptions preserving readings of a Jewish version of Matthew called the Judaikon which is described as a standard version on Zion, the Holy Mount, in Jerusalem.
One of these marginal notes in to Matthew 5:22 and says:
το εικη εν τισιν αντιγραφοις ου κεται ουδε εα τω ιουδαικω
“The word [for] “without cause” is not written in some copies, nor in the Judaikon.“
It seems that the qualifier “without cause” was added very early on, such that it made its way into the Aramaic and other Western Text types. This addition must have happened while the text was still largely in Jewish hands, and was likely the result of a tradition also found in the Talmud, which states that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70 C.E. was Elohim’s judgement on the Jewish people over having “hatred without cause”:
But why was the second Sanctuary destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah, [observance of] precepts, and the practice of charity? Because therein prevailed hatred without cause. That teaches you that groundless hatred is considered as of even gravity with the three sins of idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed together .
A scribe may have inserted “without cause” in the margin as a note, referencing the above tradition, and a later scribe may have mistaken the note as a correction and added it to the main text.
Yeshua was not saying that it is OK to be angry your brother, as long as you have a reason.
I have more to share with you on this portion of the Sermon on the Mount in the near future. The original Hebrew of these verses lends itself to some very deep understanding, which is very exciting.
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