Matthew 9:13

New Testament

11 When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard this he said, “Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. 13 Go and learn what this saying means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. 14 Then John’s disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don’t fast?”

Avot D'Rabbi Natan (A) 4


Shimon the Righteous was one of the last surviving members of the Men of the Great Assembly. He would say: The world stands on three things: on the Torah, on the Temple service, and on acts of kindness. On the Torah. How so? It says (Hosea 6:6), “I desire kindness, not a well-being offering (zevach), and the knowledge of God [which comes from studying Torah] more than burnt offerings (olot).” From here we learn that the burnt offering is more beloved than the well-being offering, because the burnt offering is entirely consumed in the fires, as it says (Leviticus 1:9), “The priest shall turn the whole thing into smoke on the altar.” And in another place (I Samuel 7:9), it says, “Samuel took one milking lamb, and offered it to be consumed, as a burnt offering to the Eternal.” And the study of Torah is more beloved before the Omnipresent God than offerings, for if a person studys Torah, he comes to have knowledge of the Omnipresent God, as it says (Proverbs 2:5), “Then you will understand the awe of the Eternal and you will discover the knowledge of God.” From here we learn that when a sage sits and expounds before the congregation, Scripture considers it as if he brought fat and blood upon the altar.If two Torah scholars are sitting and laboring in the Torah, and a bridal or funeral procession passes by, if there are already enough people participating, these two should not leave their studying; but if not, they should get up and offer words of Torah and praise to the bride, or escort the dead.

 Notes and References

"... Except from Jesus' direct quotation of Hosea 6:6 in both Matthean passages, no other explicit midrash of this verse has been found, until Avot de Rabbi Nathan, recorded five centuries after Jesus' time. However, this absence of a direct midrash of Hosea 6:6 does not imply that Jesus' contemporaries did not have their own interpretation and application of this verse. Through a study of Second Temple Literature, in which both concepts of דסח and זחב appear in contrast to each other, we attempted to follow the Jewish thought on דֶסֶ֥ח ְצַ֖פָח ִתּי חַבָ֑ז־אְֹו. Given the fact that (1) most of our findings relate to the Essenes and to the Qumran community, not to the Pharisees (Jesus' audience in Matthew) and (2) these texts do not correspond to the exact wording of Hosea 6:6, we will only summarize some significant findings.33 First, Ben Sira also argues for the precedence of the study of the Torah through the obedience to the Law and the act of giving alms over sacrifices (Sirach 35:1-8), which confirms the Aramaic reading found in the later Targum. Second, in the more specific cases of the sectarian Qumran community (recorded in the Dead Sea scrolls) as well as the Essenes (recorded by Philo and Josephus), a more literal interpretation of חבז is expressed, and a more radical application of אְֹו as privative. Therefore, we conclude for a tendency in the Second Temple literature to offer a more derash-like expansion of the contrast between of דסח and חבז ..."

Soquier, Irene E. Jesus' Midrash of Hosea 6:6a "I Desire Hesed, Not Sacrifice" in the Gospel of Matthew (pp. 1-35) Alliance Theological Seminary, 2017

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