Matthew 23:3

New Testament

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.

Leviticus Rabbah 35:7


R. Hanina b. Pappi expounded: He told them: If you keep the Torah I shall consider it as if you had made yourselves, [this being the implication of] AND YE MAKE THEM.? R. Hiyya taught: This refers to one who learns with the intention of practising and not to one who learns with the intention of not practising. He who learns with no intention of practising had been better unborn. R. Johanan said: If one learns with the intention of not practising it were better for him had the after-birth in which he lay been turned over his face and he had not come out into the open air of this world. R. Aha said: He who learns with the intention of practising will be privileged to receive the Holy Spirit.

 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” (Matthew 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” (Matthew 23:3) ..."

Safrai, Shmuel Jesus and the Hasidim (pp. 3-22) Jerusalem Perspective, No. 42, 1994

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.