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Matthew 6:1-34
A Midrash on Torah Observance
Last Updated 3/24/00

CHAPTER 6:1-34 TEXT:

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.


NOTE: In this chapter, Yeshua continues to clarify and expound on the Torah. We will focus on how His teachings supported those of the Pharisees as seen in the Talmud. In many of these verses, Yeshua reiterates a fundamental principle for the life of a Godly man -- we are but visitors here, and we need to understand that our real life and our rewards, are in heaven.

6:1-4 ... do not your alms before men, to be seen of them ...

The Pharisees were often guilty of not following their own teachings:

Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 17b - Don't do good deeds to be noticed.

Babylonian Talmud, Bava Batra 9b - He who gives alms in secret is greater than Moses

Babylonian Talmud, Bava Batra 10b - The greatest form of charity is when you give and do not know to whom you give, and the recipient takes and does not know from whom he takes.

6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions

Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 55a - One who prays too intensely and too lengthily brings on himself heartache.

6:9-13 "The Lord's Prayer"

The verses commonly known as, "Lord's Prayer," can be paralleled to concepts found in other Jewish sources. It is a combination of ideas already familiar to His audience:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.


Thy kingdom come,


Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.


And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.


And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

 

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Our Father who art in heaven (Babylonian Talmud; Yoma 85b, Sotah 49b, Avot 5:20; Vayikra Rabbah ch 32.)

May God's kingdom be established during the days of your life. (Kaddish prayer)

Do thy will above and give comfort to those below, and to everyone his need. (Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 29b)

One who is merciful toward others, God will be merciful toward them. (Babylonian Talmud, Shabat 151b)

Bring me not into temptation, and lead me away from iniquity ... and save me from the evil one. (Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 80b)

For Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty (Tenakh, 1 Chronicles 29:10)


6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses ...

Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 17a - Only if you forgive others will God forgive you.

Babylonian Talmud, Shabat 151b - One who is merciful toward others, God will be merciful toward him

6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth ...

Jerusalem Talmud, Pe'ah 15b - It happened that manobaz had squandered his father's wealth to charity. His brothers admonished him: "Your father gathered treasure and you wasted it all!" He replied: "My father laid up treasure where human hands control it; I laid it up where no hands control it. My father laid up a treasure of money; I laid up a treasure of souls. My father laid up treasure for this world; I laid up treasure for the heavenly world."

6:23 But if thine eye be evil ...

Here we have a verse that is consistently misinterpreted. What is this "evil eye?" Note the context of the verses before and after the term. In both cases Yeshua is talking about serving God and not money. Why would He interrupt this discussion about "God and money" to interject something about an "evil eye?"

The answer is that the term "evil eye," in this context, is a Hebrew figure of speech for being stingy with your material wealth. This verse alone offers evidence that the book of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew as whoever translated it into the Greek, was not aware of what the term "evil eye" meant. They simply copied the phrase, which loses its meaning in the Greek and English.

6:25-31 Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat ...

Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 48b - He who has what to eat today, and says, "What shall I eat on the morrow?" has little faith.

6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow ...

Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 9b - Each day has enough of its own troubles.


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