The Weightier Matters of Torah


In Matthew 23:23, Yeshua criticizes the scribes and Pharisees because of their focus on the minutia of the law while neglecting the weightier matters of Torah: justice, mercy, and faith.  What exactly did Yeshua mean by this?  In this 4 hour teaching, we will take an in depth look at both the Greek words behind Matthew as well as the Hebrew words from which these derive: mishpat, chesed, and emunah/emet. In the Scriptures, these three words appear together along with a fourth word; righteousness.  The terms justice and righteousness (Hebrew: mishpat u'tsedakah) form a hendiadys that was well known throughout the ancient Near East.  Whenever a new king took over a throne, he would establish justice and righteousness throughout the land (often as propaganda)  which meant a release of debts, release of slaves, establishment of laws to safeguard the widows, the poor, and the orphans, as well as other similar decrees.  In Genesis 18:19, YHVH declares that He has chosen Abraham and his household to keep the way of YHVH by doing righteousness and justice!  This motif is carried on throughout the Torah and is the subject of the Prophet's outcry against Israel.  This teaching will show how righteousness and justice are the focus of Yeshua's ministry as well as his gospel commission to all of us.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

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  1. Pamela on May 20, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Ryan, I believe I’ve heard you speak in one of your teachings that you know Nehemia Gordon. Have you come across this link regarding Matthew 23: 1-3 from Nehemia? You offer great teachings! Thank you for sharing all your time attention with others. Keep up the good work!

    • Ryan White on May 27, 2015 at 2:48 pm


      I don’t know Nehemia directly but am friends with people who know him well. I am familiar with his teaching on Matt 23, the problem is that Shem Tov is not considered a credible source by many so it is hard to argue that point. Regardless, even if we go with the Greek translation, the context of the verse makes it very clear that Yeshua was not teaching to submit to the Pharisees and certainly not to today’s system of Judaism. Acts 15 shows that the believers in Yeshua did not submit to the Pharisees but instead formed their own council in Jerusalem. That doesn’t mean that we automatically reject all things from Judaism, it just means we need discernment and to realize who our true authority is. Shalom!

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