Matthew 5:43

New Testament

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? 48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Shabbat 88b

Babylonian Talmud

Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥamani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride; you have ravished my heart with one of your eyes, with one bead of your necklace” (Song of Songs 4:9)? At first when you, the Jewish people, merely accepted the Torah upon yourselves it was with one of your eyes; however, when you actually perform the mitzvot it will be with both of your eyes. Ulla said with regard to the sin of the Golden Calf: Insolent is the bride who is promiscuous under her wedding canopy. Rav Mari, son of the daughter of Shmuel, said: What verse alludes to this? “While the king was still at his table my spikenard gave off its fragrance” (Song of Songs 1:12). Its pleasant odor dissipated, leaving only an offensive odor. Rav said: Nevertheless, it is apparent from the verse that the affection of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is still upon us, as it is written euphemistically as “gave off its fragrance,” and the verse did not write, it reeked. And the Sages taught: About those who are insulted and do not insult, who hear their shame and do not respond, who act out of love and are joyful in suffering, the verse says: “And they that love Him are as the sun going forth in its might” (Judges 5:31).

 Notes and References

"... If the Matthean Jesus here is following the same practice as before, this statement must be understood as his interpretation of the divine intent behind the lex talionis. The true intent of the principle, he says, was to limit revenge. Tertullian (Marc. 4.16) says this very thing about the lex talionis. So if God's intent was to limit revenge, then that intent is realized best through non-retaliation, not the literal application of the principle of an eye for an eye in personal relations. The issue in the fifth antithesis, therefore, is how to understand the lex talionis properly. Several details need attention. First, the verb antistenai in the passive means 'to resist' and in the active 'to retaliate.' The context makes clear that here it means 'do not render evil for evil.' The 'do not resist' of the NRSV should, therefore, be translated 'do not retaliate against.' Second, non-retaliation was part of the Jewish tradition and could also be found also among some pagans. Jewish evidence includes Exodus 23:4-5; Leviticus 19:18; Proverbs 20:22; 24:29; 1QS 10.17-20; Joseph & Aseneth 23:9 - 'It does not befit us to repay evil for evil'; b. Shabbat 88b; 2 Enoch 50:3-4 - 'And every assault and every wound and burn and every evil word, if they happen to you on account of the Lord, endure them; and being able to pay them back, do not repay them to your neighbor, because it is the Lord who repays, and he will be the avenger for you on the day of the great judgment.' ..."

Talbert, Charles H. Reading the Sermon on the Mount: Character Formation and Decision Making in Matthew 5-7 (pp. 88-90) University of South Carolina Press, 2004

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