Earlier today while preparing for work, I cam across this passage:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Fortunately, while trying to understand more what it means, I came across a website called BibleScholars.org and it made me rethink of my understanding on the passage.
Was Yeshua (Jesus) against the Jewish Law that states “If he come to slay thee, forestall by slaying him”. You can find this in sanhedrin 72a. This law seems to counter what Yeshua was saying in Matthew 5:43-44.
What was Yeshua (Jesus) trying to teach us? Pacifism? Surrender?
Would we just allow some thieves or psychopaths to enter our properties, steal them, and then kill us?
Reading further, this is what I’ve learned from the website:
- The Greek text used for the word enemy is ekthros.
- It says that in Thayers Greek English lexicon, ekthros is simply defined as hated or hateful.
- It also states that in Liddell and Scott’s Classical Greek English lexicon, there are three Greek words for hated.
- polemios, and
- Polemios means one who is actively at war with you.
- Dusmenis means one who has long been alienated and refuses to be reconciled.
- Ekthros means one who was previously a philos (lover) but who is alienated.
- It also explains that in the Hebrew texts instead of the Greek, (if we read through the Mishnah Order Nezekin and Tractate or Chapter Sanhedrin Chapter 3 Mishnah 5,) the word enemy means anyone that had not spoken with him through enmity for three days.
- This can mean that the word enemy that Yeshua might be talking about is one that was previously a friend and has been alienated and not spoken with the individual for three days.
If this is the case, I believe Yeshua (Jesus) was trying to teach us humility, forgiveness, and selfless love; but it does not mean that we should allow anybody to destroy nor kill us.
Indeed Yeshua (Jesus) was inviting us to love the people who have hurt us and to pray for them. These people are usually people whom we know and have dealings with. We often heard that we are hurt most by the people we love most. In this regard, Yeshua (Jesus) is inviting us to love them and to forgive them.
BibleScholars.org is the website of Dr. Roy B. Blizzard. He is President of Bible Scholars, which is an Austin-based corporation dedicated to biblical research and education. Dr. Blizzard has a Ph.D. in Hebrew Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.