1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries wide and their tassels long. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’ 8 But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers.
Pesikta D'Rav Kahanna 1:7Midrash
7 The princes of Israel . . . offered. They were named princes (Num. 7:2) [because as officers appointed by the Egyptians they let themselves be beaten] with rods [to protect the Israelites put in their charge]. These are they that were over [the Israelites] that were numbered ()— that is, these princes were presently put in charge of [Israel’s] four standards in the wilderness. And [the princes] brought their offering before the Lord, six wagons, etc. (Num. 7:3), corresponding to the six days of creation; six, corresponding to the six orders of the Mishnah; six, corresponding to the six Matriarchs: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, Bilhah, and Zilpah. According to R. Johanan, the six correspond to the six commandments which a king is bound to obey: He shall not multiply wives to himself (Deut. 17:17); he shall not multiply horses to himself (Deut. 17:16); neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold (Deut. 17:17); thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons; neither shalt thou take a gift (Deut. 16:19). In further comment, the six correspond to the six steps of the king’s throne. What significance did each step have? When the king set foot on the first step as he was going up to his seat, a herald came forth and cried: He shall not multiply wives to himself. When the king set foot on the second step as he was going up to his seat, a herald came forth and cried: He shall not multiply horses to himself. When the king set foot on the third step, a herald came forth and cried: Neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. When he set foot on the fourth step, a herald came forth and cried: Thou shalt not wrest judgment. When he set foot on the fifth step, a herald came forth and cried: Thou shalt not respect persons. When he set foot on the sixth step, a herald came forth and cried: Neither shalt thou take a gift. And when he was about to sit down, after having set foot on the seventh step, he was told: Know before Whom you are about to sit down. And the top of the throne was round behind (Kings 10:19) means, according to R. Aha, that the throne resembled the seat of Moses: And there were arms on either side of the throne by the place of the seat How was the throne decorated? A golden scepter was suspended behind it, and on top of the scepter was a dove. In the dove’s mouth there was a crown of gold, and when the king sat under it on the seat of the throne, the crown all but touched his head. Finally, the six wagons are taken to correspond to the six firmaments. But are there not seven firmaments? [The seventh firmament], R. Abin explained, is where the King resides and as royal property [is not to be counted with this world’s property].
Notes and References
"... Jesus’ education and understanding of Torah was in agreement with the Pharisees’ norms, based on both the Written and Oral Torah (Luke 2:41-47). He even taught his disciples and followers: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses, so be careful to observe everything they tell you” (Matt. 23:2-3). The expression “seat of Moses” is also found in midrashic literature and such seats have actually been found in ancient synagogues. Jesus, however, warned the people not to behave like the Pharisees, because “they say, but do not do” (Matt. 23:3) ..."
Safrai, Shmuel Jesus and the Hasidim (pp. 3-22) Jerusalem Perspective, No. 42, 1994
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