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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 9: Matthew 13-14, by Kevin M. Williams

It was this legacy, this kingdom that was being entrusted to the 12. The priesthood was evolving. No longer would it be confined to a single tribe, on a mount in Jerusalem. Those images certainly served as their own parable of spiritual truths, but the followers of the Messiah, this priesthood, had a new intensity and portability that even the mobile tabernacle lacked.

The parables wrap up with an unusual statement, “And He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old” (Matthew 13:52).

Consistently in the New Testament, this word “scribe” refers to scholars educated in the nuances of Scripture, to students of the Torah. Scribes are mentioned in the Bible and other writings of the day as members of the Sanhedrin (the judicial court), the elders, and priests. They were well studied in the intricacies of the Torah, and were called upon time and again to elucidate in legal proceedings.

Is it possible then that in this evolving priesthood of the kingdom of heaven Torah study would still have a place? Is it conceivable that this treasury of things “new and old” would maintain the good of the Torah along with the good of the Messiah, like two sides of the same coin?

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In Chapter 14, we have a break in the narrative. News of Yeshua and his miracles had reached the tetrarch Herod. Matthew tells us that some told Herod that Yeshua was John the Baptist resurrected. In Mark’s gospel, we read that others told Herod that He was Elijah, while others equated Him as “like one of the prophets of old” (Mark 6:15). Regardless, Herod’s execution of John weighed heavily on his mind. Either he did not know or had forgotten what His father knew about a king being born in Bethlehem!

The Matthew account reads in such a way as to potentially cause confusion. While Herod had beheaded John as a fact of history, in Matthew 14:13 it reads as if this was brand new news to Yeshua, who took a “boat, to a lonely place by Himself.”

Turning to Mark’s account of the events, we gain a clearer picture. We know that Yeshua had been preaching and performing miracles. The Mark account reads, “And the apostles gathered together with Jesus, and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves” (Mark 6:30-32).

It is possible that verse 13 of our Matthew account refers not to the potential threat of Herod, but to 13:53-57. Our Bibles make a clean chapter break—something the original Greek text does not do. When Yeshua heard the people’s disparaging remarks in the previous chapter, and there were few miracles because of the people’s lack of faith, this may have been what caused him to withdraw. The Herod narrative is likely a mere interruption to the story.

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In the feeding of the 5,000 men (not to mention the women and children) recounted in Matthew 14:15-21 we find a strong Jewish element. Before dining, Yeshua said HaMotzi, the traditional blessing recited in Jewish households for untold generations when breaking bread. Like so many Hebrew blessings it begins, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe.” This very prayer evokes a sense of God’s sovereignty and our relationship to Him.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Spring 2003

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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