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Matthew 5:33-37 – 4. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Numbers 30:3

MT5:33 “Again, you heard it said to the Ancients: ‘Break not your vows[1] but repay your vows to the Lord.’[2] [Numbers 30:3] MT5:34 But, I tell you: Never make vows![3] Not by heaven for it is the Throne of The God, MT5:35 nor by earth for it is His footstool,[4] [Isaiah 66:1] nor by Jerusalem for it is the city of the great King,[5] [Psalm 48:2] MT5:36 nor by your own head for you are unable to make one hair white or black. MT5:37 But, let your word be YES for YES and NO for NO. For any more is from the Wicked One.[6]

[1] Vows: See Numbers 30:3; Deuteronomy 23:23; Ecclesiastes 5:4. Note James 5:12 remembers well this Nazarene teaching.

Ancient potsherd inscription

Ancient potsherd inscription (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[2] Lord: Here KYRIOS has the article. Judging from the source of the Nazarene’s quotation of Numbers 30:3 or Deuteronomy 23:23 the Hebrew text included the Divine Name YHWH (Yehowah, Yahweh, Jehovah; from Exodus 3:15). Did the Nazarene use the Divine Name here? This would be its only occurrence in his entire sermon. Some would argue he did and we respect their view. On the other hand, given the murderously critical attitude of the Jews, who held the utterance of YHWH to be a violation of the Commandment at Exodus 20:7 (See the works of Josephus), if the Nazarene had used YHWH why did the Jews not make a judgment against him as they do in the case of his so-called violations of the Sabbath? Nowhere in the Gospels is Jesus ever condemned for uttering the Divine Name? The Gospels do not record Jesus’ use of YHWH in public or private conversation other than, possibly, in quotations of the Hebrew Bible (See the work Nazarene Principles). In his lengthy prayer of John chapter 17 he uses the word “name” with reference to his Father four times, but never utters the Divine Name, YHWH.

[3] Never make vows: This, along with Paul’s (Romans 13:8) and James’ (James 5:12) commentary, raises a serious question regarding business contracts. Some would limit the Nazarene’s remarks to “the practice of light, loose, and indiscriminate making of oaths.” Others would see that Jesus allows agreements based on one’s “Yes” or “a gentlemen’s handshake” as it were. Can anyone argue after reading all the teachings of the Nazarene on the subject of possessions, riches, and property that he strongly encouraged the spirit of Luke 12:33? Compare 2 Corinthians 1:17-20 on promises. The example of the Apostles and disciples recorded in Acts chapters 2 to 6 demonstrates the literalness with which the Nazarene Community accepted Jesus’ teachings on the subject.

By comparing Matthew 5:42 and Luke 6:34 with Luke 12:33 and 18:22-30 it would seem apparent that the Nazarene Saint does not own property and would not be found making a loan to someone, or for that matter, securing a loan from another without deviating from the Nazarene’s teachings. Jesus led this kind of life and so did his disciples. To read more on this subject compare notes elsewhere on the subject of “riches” and “possessions.” As with the rest of the Nazarene’s Mountain Teachings this will not set well with a Capitalist Society. In all the history in the Book of Acts there is no case of a Nazarene disciple buying property, even for a church building.

[4] Footstool: See Isaiah 66:1 the source of the Nazarene’s allusion.

[5] The city of the great King: Jesus alludes to Psalm 48:2.

[6] Wicked One: There is reason to pause and meditate carefully on the matters of vows or oaths, whether personal or commercial, because of this danger expressed by the Nazarene.

 

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Preceding

Matthew 5:31-32 – 3. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1

Next: Matthew 5:38-42 – 5. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 21:24

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Comments on: "Matthew 5:33-37 – 4. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Numbers 30:3" (1)

  1. […] Matthew 5:33-37 – 4. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Numbers 30:3 […]

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