Friday, March 14, 2014

Have you said RAQA to another recently?
Today's (Fri. of 2nd week in Lent) Gospel (Matt. 5:20-26) reminds those who believe in the New Law that not only is it wrong to commit murder but it is not permitted to even be angry with another.  In so teaching, Jesus says: "But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother , RAQA, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoevere says, 'you fool' will be liable to firey Gehenna."
Please note the following:
Jesus started his discourse by saying that he did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.  He then lauches into the Beatitudes as a fulfillment of the ten commandments, and shortly thereafter is the passage cited above.
A pattern appears which occurs time and again:  you have heard it said of old, or something similar, followed by: But I say to you! (i.e. the New Law)
As a whole it would appear that Jesus is trying to get his listeners to see that what God is looking for is far more than exterior or legalistic conformity to the Law.  Rather as is often said, He is radicalizing the Old Testament Law.  He is trying to get at interior dispositions   (note the reaction of the crowd when he finishes:"Jesus finished this discourse and left the crowds spellbound at his teaching.  The reason was  that he taught with authority....")(i.e. beyond mere human opinion)
In this particular passage Jesus uses a word/phrase which is not translated into the original Greek text but is simply transliterated as orignally spoken:  RAQA.  Many scholars have looked to Biblical Hebrew for the meaning of this word.  But, in everyday speech and especially in all likelyhood since he was addressing Gallileans, Jesus would have been speaking colloquial Aramaic rather than Hebrew, and in Aramaic it appears that this word means: I SPIT ON YOU, which obviously is a phrase of derision, and in fact even in Jesus' time , if one actually spit, could get one taken before the Sanhedrin for judgement.
So, once again when we pierce its radical meaning, loving one's neighbor rules out derisive language to or about him.

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