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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 17: Matthew 22:1-40, by Kevin M. Williams

Yeshua sees right through their ploy, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?” But their own folly is about to be laid bare.

The Torah forbids graven images, and the coin in question bore the image of Caesar. Israeli coins bore images of the menorah—the seven-branched candlestick—or the pomegranate. There were no human faces allowed. It is interesting to note that the perfectly Torah-observant Messiah did not have a Roman coin—with its graven images—on his person. He had to ask to be shown one.

Teacher Ray Vanderlaan of Holland, Michigan, is convinced that Yeshua asked the Pharisees for the coin, whom, if they had been true to their convictions, should not have carried graven images either. If one uses the Luke account, the Herodians are not mentioned, and so, perhaps Yeshua did procure the coin from the Pharisees. If so, then their intrigue to incriminate Yeshua demonstrated openly their own religious hypocrisy. Matthew’s account however, gives room for Yeshua to have asked either the Herodians or the Pharisees.

In a shrewd move, Yeshua invokes the theology of the Pharisees. The Talmud, a compendium of Pharisaical belief reads, “In the case of tax-collectors, why should the dictum of Samuel not apply that the law of the State is law?” (Baba Qamma 113a). Elsewhere it is written, “The law of the [secular] government is the law” (N’darim 28a, brackets mine). Yeshua agrees with the Oral Law, the binding principles upon which the Pharisees lived, to answer their question.

In a move the Pharisees could not have been expecting—Yeshua agreed with them! “And hearing this, they marveled.” Yet, conversely, the Herodians found a tax-supporter in a popular rabbi of Israel, and the Pharisees’ plot unraveled.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Spring 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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