Matthew 6 – Piety and Almsgiving & The Sanhedrin

Ancient Sanhedrin tombs and their modern-day revival

I have said that the Sanhedrin is just like the White House, some may think it’s more like the United States Supreme Court, but I beg to differ because I would say that a very small amount, if any of them are intentionally evil, just weak.

The entire White House is evil, just like the Sanhedrin.

In chapter 6 you should recognize many people, i.e., those that are wealthy and greedy.  The amount you give to help others is what Jesus is talking about when He talks about having “treasures in heaven.”

It isn’t the amount you give, but the amount you hoard – see Mk 12:41-44.  God will punish the greedy, as He did the couple in Acts 5:1-10.

I want to review…

Matthew 6
Piety and Almsgiving

1 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.

Rush Limbaugh:
“I gotta be very careful. I have been numerous times to the Vatican. It wouldn’t exist without tons of money. But regardless, what this is, somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him.

This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope. Unfettered capitalism? That doesn’t exist anywhere. Unfettered capitalism is a liberal socialist phrase to describe the United States. Unfettered, unregulated.”

Catholics In Alliance:
“We are disturbed by Rush Limbaugh’s incendiary comments last Wednesday, November 27th about Pope Francis and are joining together with Catholics and other allies throughout the nation to support the Holy Father.

To call the Francis a proponent of “pure marxism” is both mean spirited and naive. Francis’s critique of unrestrained capitalism is in line with the Church’s social teaching. His particular criticism of “trickle down economics” strengthens what Church authorities have said for decades: any economic system which deprives the poor of their dignity has no place within a just society.

2 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.

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

“Let not thy left hand know what they right hand doeth” –Not to be taken literally, but as a way of emphasizing that one should not call attention to one’s giving.  [Self-glorification is always a present danger, i.e., “Verily I say unto you, they have their reward,” Matt 6:2].

4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

5 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.

6 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.

“Closet” – the Greek word means “storeroom.”  Unlike most of the rooms in the house, it had  a door that could be shut.  In other words, do it privately.

7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

“Use not vain repetition, as the heathen do” – they used long lists of the names of their gods in their prayers, hoping that by constantly repeating them they would call on the name of the god that could help them.  Like those of the Islamic and Muslim faiths do today.

Jesus is not necessarily condemning all long prayers, but meaningless verbiage in prayer.  God knows what we want and need before we even ask (next verse).

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

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

“Debts” – sins.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16 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.

“Fast” – in the Mosaic law only the fast of the day of atonement was required (Lev 16:29, 31, 23:27-32; Num 29:7).  After the Babylonian exile four other yearly fasts were observed by the Jews (Zech 7:5, 8:19).  In Jesus’ time the Pharisees fasted twice a week.

17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

“Anoint thine head and wash thy face” – Jews put ashes on their heads when fasting.  But Jesus told them to maintain their regular appearance.  Fasting should not be done in an ostentatious way.

18 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.

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

6:19-21 – the dangers of riches are often mentioned in the New Testament (e.g., v. 24, 13:22, 19:22; Mk 10:17-30; Lk 12:16-21; 1 Tim 6:9-10, 17-1-; Heb 13:5), but nowhere are they condemned in and of themselves.  What Jesus condemns here is greed and hoarding of money.

“Moth and rust” – representatives of all agents and processes (primarily politicians, the majority of Jews and Catholics) that destroy worldly possessions.

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

“Treasures in heaven” – anything done in this life that has eternal value.  The phrase is the equivalent of being “rich toward God” (Lk 12:21).  In this context it means to use one’s material wealth for the good cause of God (cf. Phil 4:10-13).

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23 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!

24 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.

25 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?

26 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?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God” – see Rom 14:17.

34 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.

The Sanhedrin

The official website of the Israeli Sanhedrin gives us it’s aims:
This court has been set up to serve the needs of B’nei Noach worldwide. Judaism does not view itself as a universal religion, instead it sees itself as a national faith.

This is understood within the context of the Jewish teaching that there are seventy nations or groups of people in the world. Each group of people must develop its own form of worship, unique to its own character. There is however a basic minimum common to all proper faiths, and this is the Noahide teachings.

The Sanhedrin, through this court, is required to play a role in helping to clarify these most basic teachings, and each group of people in turn must set up its own religious court to expand, develop and adapt these laws to fit the needs of its community of believers.

These Jews from the Israeli Sanhedrin want to chop your head off.

The Sanhedrin (legal court) was an assembly of twenty to twenty-three men appointed in every city in the biblical Land of Israel.

This court dealt with only religious matters. The Great Sanhedrin was made up of a Chief/Prince/Leader called Nasi (at some times this position may have been held by the Kohen Gadol or the High Priest), a vice chief justice (Av Beit Din), and 69 general members.

In the Second Temple period, the Great Sanhedrin met in the Hall of Hewn Stones in the Temple in Jerusalem. The court convened every day except festivals and Shabbat. In the late 3rd century, to avoid persecution, its authoritative decisions were issued under the name of Beit HaMidrash.

The final binding decision of the Sanhedrin was in 358, when the Hebrew Calendar was adopted. The Sanhedrin was dissolved after continued persecution by the Roman Empire. Over the centuries, there have been attempts to revive the institution, such as the Grand Sanhedrin convened by Napoleon Bonaparte and modern attempts in Israel.

The Sanhedrin is mentioned in the Gospels in relation to the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus and several times in the Acts of the Apostles, including a Great Sanhedrin in chapter 5 where Gamaliel appeared, and in the stoning death of Stephen the deacon in chapter 7.

Early Sanhedrin

The Hasmonean court in the Land of Israel, presided over by Alexander Jannaeus, king of Judea until 76 BC, followed by his wife, was called Synhedrion or Sanhedrin.

The exact nature of this early Sanhedrin is not clear. It may have been a body of sages and/or priests, or a political, legislative and judicial institution. Only after the destruction of the Second Temple was the Sanhedrin made up only of sages.

The ancient Synagogue of Shfaram, built on the site where, according to tradition, the Sanhedrin sat.

…fasting.  I had talked about the meaning of fasting when we read Isaiah 58, now I want look at Fasting in the Ancient Near East.