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Anger and Murder

21 “You have heard that it was said to an older generation,[a]Do not murder,’[b] and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’[c] 22 But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother[d] will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults[e] a brother will be brought before[f] the council,[g] and whoever says ‘Fool’[h] will be sent[i] to fiery hell.[j] 23 So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you,

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  1. Matthew 5:21 tn Grk “to the ancient ones.” sn The expression an older generation can be understood to refer to the Israelites at the time of the Exodus, the original audience for the ten commandments.
  2. Matthew 5:21 sn A quotation from Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17.
  3. Matthew 5:21 sn These additional words are not part of the commandment and are not directly quoted from the OT (and thus are not placed in bold italics), but they form an adequate summary of several OT passages dealing with legislation concerning murder (Exod 21:12; Lev 24:17; Num 35:12; Deut 17:8-13).
  4. Matthew 5:22 tc The majority of mss read the word εἰκῇ (eikē, “without cause”) here after “brother.” This insertion has support from א2 D L W Γ Δ Θ 0233 ƒ1, 13 33 565 579 700 1241 1424 M it sy co Irlat Ormss Cyp Cyr. Thus the Western and Byzantine groups, as well as several other witnesses, all include the word, while the best Alexandrian and some other witnesses (P64 א* B aur vg Or Hiermss) lack it. The ms evidence favors its exclusion, though there is a remote possibility that εἰκῇ could have been accidentally omitted from these witnesses by way of homoioarcton (the next word, ἔνοχος [enochos, “guilty”], begins with the same letter). An intentional change would likely arise from the desire to qualify “angry,” especially in light of the absolute tone of Jesus’ words. While “without cause” makes good practical sense in this context, and must surely be a true interpretation of Jesus’ meaning (cf. Mark 3:5), it does not commend itself as the original wording.
  5. Matthew 5:22 tn Grk “whoever says to his brother ‘Raca,’” an Aramaic word of contempt or abuse meaning “fool” or “empty head.”
  6. Matthew 5:22 tn Grk “subjected,” “guilty,” “liable.”
  7. Matthew 5:22 tn Grk “the Sanhedrin.” sn The council refers to the Sanhedrin, the ruling council in Jerusalem that was the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews.
  8. Matthew 5:22 tn The meaning of the term μωρός (mōros) is somewhat disputed. Most take it to mean, following the Syriac versions, “you fool,” although some have argued that it represents a transliteration into Greek of the Hebrew term מוֹרֵה (moreh) “rebel” (Deut 21:18, 20; cf. BDAG 663 s.v. μωρός c).
  9. Matthew 5:22 tn Grk “subjected,” “guilty,” “liable.”
  10. Matthew 5:22 tn Grk “the Gehenna of fire.”sn The word translated hell is “Gehenna” (γέεννα, geenna), a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew words ge hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom”). This was the valley along the south side of Jerusalem. In OT times it was used for human sacrifices to the pagan god Molech (cf. Jer 7:31; 19:5-6; 32:35), and it came to be used as a place where human excrement and rubbish were disposed of and burned. In the intertestamental period, it came to be used symbolically as the place of divine punishment (cf. 1 En. 27:2; 90:26; 4 Ezra 7:36).