Matthew 3:16

New Testament

11 “I baptize you with water, for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than I am—I am not worthy to carry his sandals! He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clean out his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire!” 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John to be baptized by him in the Jordan River. 14 But John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” 15 So Jesus replied to him, “Let it happen now, for it is right for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John yielded to him. 16 After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight.”

Berakhot 3a

Babylonian Talmud

And after this introduction, Elijah said to me: What voice did you hear in that ruin? I responded: I heard a Heavenly voice, like an echo of that roar of the Holy One, Blessed be He (Maharsha), cooing like a dove and saying: Woe to the children, due to whose sins I destroyed My house, burned My Temple, and exiled them among the nations.And Elijah said to me: By your life and by your head, not only did that voice cry out in that moment, but it cries out three times each and every day. Moreover, any time that God’s greatness is evoked, such as when Israel enters synagogues and study halls and answers in the kaddish prayer, May His great name be blessed, the Holy One, Blessed be He, shakes His head and says: Happy is the king who is thus praised in his house. When the Temple stood, this praise was recited there, but now: How great is the pain of the father who exiled his children, and woe to the children who were exiled from their father’s table, as their pain only adds to that of their father (Rabbi Shem Tov ibn Shaprut).

 Notes and References

"... And he saw — meaning he acquired it, as in, and they saw the God of Israel (Exodus 24:10), for he who interprets it in the plain meaning insults and curses God. The meaning is that he obtained the knowledge of how his spirit is bound to its source, as I wrote in Matthew 1:20. For every single man who follows after his spirit and not the desires of his flesh, his spirit is bound to the source from which it was fashioned, and because of this, he draws the holiness from above to himself (in terms of a voice from heaven 'bat qol', we have that even in rabbinic literature, e.g., b. Berakbot 3a, 12a; b. Shabbat 33b; b. Pesachim 114a; b. Sotah 10b. Soloveitchik, who appears here and elsewhere to be aligned with Maimonidean theology, is not comfortable with literal renderings of these verses and, following Maimonides, uses allegory to redirect their meaning away from any somatic experience of the divine.) ... And this is why the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove, as we find in the midrash: 'Israel is likened to a dove, and just as a dove unites only with its partner, so, too, Israel turns only to the one God.' ..."

Soloveitchik, Elijah Zvi The Bible, the Talmud, and the New Testament: Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik’s Commentary to the Gospels (p. 88) University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019

 User Comments

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