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22. But I say to you His reply is not opposed to the command of Moses, (Exodus 20:13; Leviticus 24:21; Numbers 35:16;) but to the interpretation usually put upon it by the scribes. Now, as the Pharisees boasted of antiquity, (for it is always the custom to plead the prescription of a long period in defense of errors,)398398 “Pour maintenir et defendre les erreurs ou abus en la matiere de la religion;” — “to maintain and defend errors or abuses in matters of religion.” Christ reminds the people of his authority, to which all antiquity ought justly to give way. Hence we conclude, that truth is of greater weight than custom or the number of years.
He who shall say to his brother Christ assigns three degrees of condemnation besides the violence of the hands; which implies, that this precept of the law restrains not only the hands, but all affections that are opposed to brotherly love. “Those who shall only be angry with their brethren, or treat them with haughty disdain, or injure them by any reproach, are murderers.” Now, as it is certain that the word Racha occupies an intermediate place between anger and openly reproachful language, I have no doubt that it is an interjection of contempt or disdain. Though Christ adjudges to the hell of fire none but those who break out into open reproach, we must not suppose, that he declares anger to be free from a similar punishment; but, alluding to earthly judgments, he assures them that God will judge and punish even concealed anger.399399 “L'indignation secrette qu'on aura eue en son coeur contre le frere;” —”the secret indignation which they shall have had in their heart against their brother.” But, as he who manifests his indignation by bitter language goes farther than this, Christ says, that that man will be held guilty by the whole heavenly council, that he may receive severer punishment.
Those, again, who break out into reproaches are adjudged to the hell of fire: which implies, that hatred, and every thing that is contrary to love, is enough to expose them to eternal death, though they may have committed no acts of violence. Γἔεννα (hell) is, beyond all question, a foreign word. גיא (Ge) is the Hebrew word for a valley. Now, “the valley of Hin-nom” was infamous for the detestable superstition which was committed in it, because there they sacrificed their children to idols, (2 Chronicles 33:6.) The consequence was, that holy men, in order to excite stronger hatred of that wicked ungodliness, used it as the name for hell, that the very name might be dreaded by the people as shocking and alarming. It would appear that, in the time of Christ, this was a received way of speaking, and that hell was then called by no other name than gehenna, (γέεννα,) the word being slightly altered from the true pronunciation.