Matthew 5:3

New Testament

1 When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to teach them by saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Sotah 5b

Babylonian Talmud

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: Come and see how great the lowly in spirit are before the Holy One, Blessed be He. For when the Temple was standing, a person would sacrifice a burnt-offering and the merit of a burnt-offering would be his; he would sacrifice a meal-offering and the merit of a meal-offering would be his. But with regard to one whose spirit is lowly, the verse ascribes him credit as if he had sacrificed all the sacrificial offerings, as it is stated: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit” (Psalms 51:19), indicating that one who is humble of spirit is regarded as if he offered all the “sacrifices of God.” And not only that, but his prayer is not despised by God, as it is stated at the end of that verse: “A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

 Notes and References

"... The Beatitudes in Matthew are a series of exclamations which declare the happiness which is experienced by those of a certain character or outlook ... Matthew's phrase 'poor in spirit' is rendered unambiguous by the qualifier it contains, which denotes a poor man, possibly one who is at fault in being so ... [in Sotah 5b] it's possibly a legal or technical term, and it is used in Leviticus to denote a 'brother' who can no longer maintain himself and who is therefore forced to sell part of his patrimony or himself; specifically it appears to refer to that brother's financial problems, which lead him to be reduced to the status of a stranger, resident alien, or hired labourer ..."

Dawes, Stephen B. Humility in the Old Testament (p. 58, 127) University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1986

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