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Blessed are the poor in spirit

April 11, 2011

I learned something interesting last week. “Poor in spirit” was apparently a common term that was used by the Qumran sect (those who lived in the desert, wrote the Dead Sea scrolls, and are probably identical with the Esseans that Josephus Flavius mentions). They saw themselves as “poor in spirit” as opposed to the Saduccees and the Pharisees.

“The Kingdom of Heaven” was a common term used by the Pharisees, as in the well known term of “accepting the yoke of the kingdom of heaven” that is used a lot in Talmud.

 

This means that when Yeshua opened the sermon on the mount with the words “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3) people immediately noticed that there is something new and different here. Yeshua used well known terms of two opposed religious ideologies to prove a point and to make people stop and pay attention.

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