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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 16: Matthew 21:1-46, by Kevin M. Williams

“If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in? And it shall come about that when he cries out to Me, I will hear him, for I am gracious” (Exodus 22:26-27).

“And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep with his pledge. When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it will be righteousness for you before the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 24:12-13).

The kolbon, or exchange fee was being used as a means to break God’s holy Torah by requiring a man to surrender his coat as collateral. When God’s mediators—the priests—did so, they oppressed the poor, something the Torah forbids time and again.

Yeshua was not opposed to the collection of the half-shekels, nor was He particularly opposed to a small profit being gained (though in theory the entire half-shekel was profit). But He was thoroughly incensed that in the House of God, the guardians of the Torah were the very ones breaking the Torah—for gain. They were robbing the poor and in this way, turning the temple into a “robber’s den.”

It is more likely that Yeshua was outraged at the ill-gotten gain, collected by oppressing the poor in defiance of God’s Torah, than he was at the actual exchange.

And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant, and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes thou has prepared praise for thyself’?” (Matthew 21:14-17).

It is not particularly clear, though based on the conclusions above, the blind and the lame—the poorest of society—came to Yeshua in the temple possibly because He had made a way for them. With the exchange tables overturned, they may have had access to the temple; access they had previously been denied. Surely this was “good news to the afflicted” (Isaiah 61:1).

All of this, or as the author comments, “the wonderful things that He had done,” brought the chief priests and scribes to bitterness. Matthew says they became indignant. The dictionary defines indignant as “annoyed at the unfairness … of something” (Encarta World English Dictionary). The inference is that they were annoyed that the people simply were not doing it right. The use of palm branches and crying Hosanna was reserved for the Fall festival of Sukkot (Booths, or Tabernacles). And while calling on the Son of David—a messianic title—was not particularly “wrong,” within this context, they were applying it to one particular man—Yeshua. In the temple, this had never been done before. It was without precedence or protocol.

And so they challenged Yeshua, asking, “Do You hear what these are saying?” In other words, “Don’t you think it is inappropriate for the populace to be crying out to you so?”

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Winter 2005

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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