6 They will be like a shrub in the arid rift valley. They will not experience good things even when they happen. It will be as though they were growing in the stony wastes in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one can live. 7 My blessing is on those people who trust in me, who put their confidence in me. 8 They will be like a tree planted near a stream whose roots spread out toward the water. It has nothing to fear when the heat comes. Its leaves are always green. It has no need to be concerned in a year of drought. It does not stop bearing fruit. 9 The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad. Who can understand it? 10 I, the Lord, probe into people’s kidneys10. I examine people’s hearts. I deal with each person according to how he has behaved. I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.
Pirkei Avot 3:17Mishnah
17 Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah said: Where there is no Torah, there is no right conduct; where there is no right conduct, there is no Torah. Where there is no wisdom there is no fear of God; where there is no fear of God, there is no wisdom. Where there is no understanding, there is no knowledge; where there is no knowledge, there is no understanding. Where there is no bread, there is no Torah; where there is no Torah, there is no bread. He used to say: one whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, to what may he be compared? To a tree whose branches are numerous but whose roots are few, so that when the wind comes, it uproots it and overturns it, as it is said, “He shall be like a bush in the desert, which does not sense the coming of good. It is set in the scorched places of the wilderness, in a barren land without inhabitant” (Jeremiah 17:6). But one whose deeds exceed his wisdom, to what may he be compared? To a tree whose branches are few but roots are many, so that even if all the winds in the world come and blow upon it, they cannot move it out of its place, as it is said, “He shall be like a tree planted by waters, sending forth its roots by a stream. It does not sense the coming of heat, its leaves are ever fresh. It has no care in a year of drought; it does not cease to yield fruit” (ibid, 17:8).
Notes and References
"... The metaphor of moral fruit is frequent in the Gospel tradition (Matthew 3:8, 10; 7:16–20; 12:33; Luke 3:8–9; 6:43–44; 13:6–9; John 15:2–8, 16; probably Mark 11:14; 12:2) and is often developed by early Christian writers (Philippians 1:11; Ephesians 5:9; Colossians 1:10; Hebrews 12:11; James 3:18; Jude 12). Yet the image was also a natural one in antiquity. Thus in Hosea, Israel yielded fruit for idolatry (10:1, 4, 13), but God would make them sow and reap righteousness (10:11–12); God would cause Israel to blossom and bear fruit (14:5–7), and he would be the source of their fruit (14:8). Likewise, Jewish people could speak of the Torah as a seed that would bear fruit in God’s people (4 Ezra 3:20; 9:31, 33). (Compare Pirkei Avot 3:17; cf. the “fruit of righteousness” in the later Apoc. Sedrach 12:5; good works as fruit in Numbers Rabbah 3:1. The results of Torah learning as fruit (Numbers Rabbah 21:15) may be simply like any profit as fruit.) Given their proximity to agrarian life, even urban hearers in antiquity would be able to comprehend fruit in a figurative sense. One could compare with fruit a person’s gifts, the products of one’s mind, or other characteristics consistent with one’s nature. Thus, for example, the “fruit” of hatred is bitter; a Stoic expounds on the fruit of reason; Socrates reportedly wanted to cultivate Alcibiades as a plant so his “fruit” would not be destroyed; the fruit of knowledge is a deeper intellectual life; the fruits of education are great ..."
Keener, Craig S. "A Comparison of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23 with Ancient Thought on Ethics and Emotion" in Porter, Stanley E., and Lois K. Fuller Dow (eds.) The Language and Literature of the New Testament: Essays in Honor of Stanley E. Porter’s 60th Birthday (pp. 574-598) Brill, 2017
Thank you for your submission!