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A Rabbi's Impressions of the Oberammergau Passion Play, by Joseph Krauskopf, [1901], at

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Talmudic Parallels to New Testament Teachings

Talmudic Parallels to New Testament Teachings: decorative header.

TALMUDIC literature may be said to have commenced with Ezra's redaction of the Pentateuch, about five hundred years before the common era. Its main object was the interpretation and codification of The Law. It covers a vast field, embraces almost the whole range of religion and law of some eight hundred years, and engages almost every prominent Babylonian and Palestinian Jewish teacher of that entire period.

Its greatest creative activity was during the life-time of Jesus, and during a century or so after. Its subject-matter for the most part deals with the religious, ceremonial, civil, and criminal law, but it abounds also in ethical teachings, of which quite a number have found their way into the New Testament—somewhat altered in their expression by reason of the latter's use of the Greek tongue. Many an aphorism and parable of Jesus is in

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the very form and spirit of Talmud writings. The well known Golden Rule is a paraphrase of that of the famous President of the Sanhedrin, and head of the most celebrated academy of all Palestine, Rabbi Hillel, a forerunner of Jesus. The Lord's Prayer has the phrasing as well as the spirit of the prayers of the Talmudic Rabbis. The justly celebrated Sermon on the Mount of the New Testament contains many a parallel to the teachings of the Talmud. The following selections may serve as illustrations



1. Blessed are the poor in spirit.

1. More acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice is the humble spirit.

2. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

2. Whoso maketh peace among his fellow-men enjoyeth the fruit thereof here, and shall reap his reward also in the world to come.

3. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

3. Whoso is merciful toward his fellow creatures will be mercifully dealt with by his Father in Heaven.

4. Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4. Be rather of the persecuted than of the persecutors.
Whoso is persecuted and reviled and does not persecute and revile in return will meet with his reward.

5. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

5. Even heaven and earth shall pass away, but the word of the Lord shall endure forever.

6. Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least

6. The least of the commandments demands as much

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commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.

of thy observance as the greatest.

7. Whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the Judgment.

7. Whoso lifts his hand against his neighbor, even though he strike him not, is guilty of an offense, and is adjudged a sinner.

8. Leave thy guilt before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

8. Sins of man against God the Atonement Day expiates, but sins of man against man the Atonement Day does not expiate till he has become reconciled with his neighbor.

9. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

9. Even if all the people of the earth were to try to make the wing of a raven white, they would try in vain.

10. Let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay.

10. Let your Yea be yea, and your Nay nay.
Say not one thing with thy mouth and mean another thing with thine heart.

11. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away.

11. Let thy house be open to the needy, and let the poor be inmates of thy house.
More righteous than he who gives what is asked is he who gives twice the amount asked.
It is more praiseworthy to lend to the poor than to give alms.

12. If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

12. If any one take thy ass give him the saddle also.

13. Bless them that curse you.

13. Be rather of the accursed than of those that curse.

14. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh

14. The day on which it rains is preferable even to the day of resurrection, for this

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his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

latter is profitable for the godly only; the rainy day, however, is profitable to the ungodly as well as to the godly.

15. Take heed that you do not your alms before men to be seen of them.

15. Whoso gives alms in public had rather not give alms at all than shame his fellowman.

16. But thou, when thou grayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

16. "Whoso studies the Law in the secrecy of his home," saith the Lord, "I shall cause his goodly deeds to be known in public."

17. But when ye pray use not vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

17. Let thy words be few when thou offerest them in prayer to God.

18. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.

18. Let this be thy short form of prayer: Thy will be done in heaven, and may peace of heart be the reward of them that reverence Thee on earth.

19. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

19. Lead me not into sin, even from its temptations. deliver Thou me.

20. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.

20. My fathers had their treasures below, and I lay them up above. My fathers had their treasures where the hands of men may lay hold of them, I where no hand can reach them. My fathers’ treasures yield no fruit, but I gather what bears harvest. My fathers gathered for others, I for myself. My fathers gathered them for tins life; I for the world to come.

21. Behold the fowls of the air,

21. Neither beast nor bird follow

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for they sow not neither do they reap.

a trade, and yet they are fed without toil.

22. Therefore, take no thought, saying: What shall we eat? or what shall we drink?

22. Whoso has bread in his basket, and yet asks: What shall I eat to-morrow? belongs to those of little faith.

23. Take therefore no thought of the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

23. Sufficient unto the hour is the sorrow thereof. Thou shalt find it heavy enough even then.

24. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.

24. Whoso judges his neighbor charitably, shall himself be charitably judged.

25. With what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.

25. With what measure man metes, it shall be measured to him in heaven.

26. How wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold a beam is in thine own eye.

26. Do they say: Take the splinter out of thine eye? He will answer: Remove the beam out of thine own eye.

27. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

27. Whoso would reprove others must himself be spotless.

28. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

28. What is hateful unto thee, that do not unto another. This is the whole Law, all the rest is commentary.

29. Whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.
And the rain descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell and great was the fall of it.

29. He whose knowledge exceeds his good deeds may be likened to a tree with many branches and a scanty root—every wind shakes and uproots it. But he whose good deeds excel his knowledge may be likened to a tree with few branches and a strong root; even if all the hurricanes

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of the world were to come and rage against it, they would be powerless to move it from its place.
Whoso studies the Law and acts in accordance with its commandments is likened unto a man who builds a house, the foundation of which is made of stone and the superstructure of bricks. Neither storm nor flood can injure it. But whoso studies the Law, and yet is wanting in good deeds, is likened unto the man who builds the foundation of his house of brick and the superstructure of stone. The flood comes, and undermines and destroys the house.

30. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.

30. The day is short and the task is great, and the workmen are sluggish, and the reward is great, and the Master of the house is urgent.

31. Freely ye have received, freely give.

31. As freely as God has taught you s o freely shall ye teach.

32. Whoso shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

32. Whoso humbles himself in this world shall be exalted in the next. Whoso makes himself like unto a slave, for the Law, in this world, shall be made free in the world to come.

33. For unto every one that hath shall be given and he shall have abundance, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

33. To him that hath shall be given; from him that hath not shall be taken away.

34. Then shall the kingdom of

34. A king invited his servants

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heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you,
I know you not.

to a banquet, but did not appoint the time. The wise among them adorned themselves, and waited at the entrance of the king's palace, saying: Can there be anything wanting at a king' s house to delay a banquet? But the foolish among them continued at their labor, saying: Can there be a banquet without preparation? Suddenly the king's summons came. The wise, being ready and adorned, entered. But the foolish, hurrying from their work, entered with the soil of their labor upon them. The king welcomed the wise, a n d bade them to partake of the feast. But he was angry at the foolish, and bade them to stand and look on.

35. The Sabbath was made for

35. The Sabbath has been delivered

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man, not man for the Sabbath.

into your power, not you into the power of the Sabbath.

36. When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room, lest a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him.

36. When thou art bidden as a guest seat thyself in a place lower than that of which thou art deserving. Let others assign to thee the higher place, not thyself. Never strive after the highest place lest they say unto thee: "Descend!" Better that they say unto thee: "Ascend to the higher place," than that thou shouldst be obliged to descend to the lower.

37. But when thou makest a feast call the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind.

37. So build thy house that its entrance be toward the street and that the poor have free admission, and let them be welcome guests within.

38. And the Lord saith unto the servant, go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

38. Three things there are that bear fruit in this world and yield reward in the world to come: First, honor of parents and fellowmen; second, hospitality to strangers and wayfarers; third, the making of peace between contending parties.

39. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master.

39. It is enough for the servant that he be as his master.

40. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing, and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

40. Unless God wills it, not even a bird falls from the sky. Unless God wills it, no evil can fall upon man.

41. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

41. "Do I not number the very hairs of your head?" saith the Lord.

42. At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of

42. With the destruction of the Temple the power of prophecy departed from the

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heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

prophets and entered the hearts of babes and simpletons.

43. Whoso, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

43. Whoso humbles himself in this life in love for the Law of God shall he counted among the exalted in the world to come.

44. For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man who is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace. And said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour they received every man a penny. And when they had received it they murmured against the good man of the house. Saying, these last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

44. A king hired a number of laborers to work in his garden. Among them there was one whose labor was greatly pleasing in the eyes of the king. After observing him a while, he called him to his side, walked up and down with him, engaged in pleasant converse. In the evening the laborers came for their pay, and the king gave to each his day's wage. To him, whom he had called from his labor early in the day, he gave as much as to them who had toiled all the day. These were displeased, and complained of unfair treatment, inasmuch as they had labored all day long, and had received no more than he who had toiled but little.
When the king learned of their displeasure, he said, This laborer has labored in but a few hours as much as ye have accomplished in all the day.

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But he answered one of them and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong, didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is and go thy way, I will give unto this last even as unto thee.
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good?
So the last shall be first and the first shall be last.


45. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

45. In the life to come there will be neither eating nor drinking, neither marrying nor following a trade, neither envy nor hatred. The heads of the pious will be adorned with crowns, and the godly will rejoice in the presence of the Lord.


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