35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25: 35-40 (KJV)
A couple weeks ago, I showed how Apostle Paul taught from the Talmud, the Jewish Oral Law. I explained that these Jewish men were whole-heartedly Jews to the core, and practiced both Oral and Written Torah. They were products of their culture. Today, we’ll see that Yeshua was as well.
In the verses above from Matthew 25, Yeshua teaches the importance of visiting the sick, clothing the naked, comforting those who mourn, etc. These aren’t new teachings. In fact these same instructions have been orally passed down for years prior to Yeshua’s arrival. Yeshua knew these teachings, and promoted them Himself.
We can find these same teachings in the Sotah. The Sotah is part of the Talmud that discusses the woman suspected of adultery (Num 5) as well as other rituals involving a spoken formula (such as breaking the heifer’s neck, the King’s septa-annual public Torah reading, the Blessings and Curses of Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, etc. In these teachings which were finally written down in Talmudic Babylon (450 – 550 CE), we find that Rabbi Hama passes along the same wisdom (Sotah 14a).
And Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “After the Lord your God shall you walk, and Him shall you fear, and His commandments shall you keep, and unto His voice shall you hearken, and Him shall you serve, and unto Him shall you cleave” (Deuteronomy 13:5)? But is it actually possible for a person to follow the Divine Presence? But hasn’t it already been stated: “For the Lord your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24), and one cannot approach fire.
He explains: Rather, the meaning is that one should follow the attributes of the Holy One, Blessed be He. He provides several examples. Just as He clothes the naked, as it is written: “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21), so too, should you clothe the naked. Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, visits the sick, as it is written with regard to God’s appearing to Abraham following his circumcision: “And the Lord appeared unto him by the terebinths of Mamre” (Genesis 18:1), so too, should you visit the sick. Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, consoles mourners, as it is written: “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son” (Genesis 25:11), so too, should you console mourners. Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, buried the dead, as it is written: “And he was buried in the valley in the land of Moab” (Deuteronomy 34:6), so too, should you bury the dead.
My point with these posts is to connect the teachings of the Bible to standard Jewish teachings of the time. It’s paramount to realize that the Bible was a book written by Jews with Jewish culture and worldviews infused within it. The authors of the Bible practiced Judaism and lived by the commandments of God. These were the men that God blessed to ensure His teachings would be passed down from generation to generation.
Yeshua was calling a community back to the original intention of God’s plan. He wasn’t creating a new community with a new plan. This is important to understand. Restoration was his lesson, not re-creation.